The CMO Files: W. Sean Ford, LogMeIn

What keeps CMOs awake at night?


Name: W. Sean Ford

Organisation: LogMeIn

Job title: Chief Marketing Officer

Location: Boston, US

  1. Where were you born and raised?
    Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Moved to Massachusetts to attend Williams College and basically never left.
  2. What was your first job?
    Believe it or not, roofing houses at age 13. Good money fraught with peril.
  3. What was the first product you got really excited about?
    The original Atari gaming console. With all due respect to Pong, that system was source code zero for gamers today.
  4. Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
    My grandfather. He came from very modest beginnings, passed up playing baseball in college to provide for his family, worked harder than anyone I know, and absolutely loved to coach sports and attend family events. His drive and work-life balance was second to none.
  5. What has been your greatest achievement?
    Being a part of the team that has grown LogMeIn over 4x and to over $1Bn in revenue in the last 4 years.
  6. What has been your biggest mistake?
    Holding onto underperforming talent too long in the belief that I can “fix” the situation.
  7. What is your greatest strength?
    Ability to balance the management of a large organisation at scale and maintain the approachability necessary to build strong professional relationships and a team that is personally invested in outcomes.
  8. What is your biggest weakness?
    Having the patience to let things happen on their own time vs. on my own time.
  9. What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?
    One area, in particular, seems to require a renewed focus on viewing marketing as only one part of a much broader go-to-market eco-system. Marketing cannot operate, execute and be judged or measured in a silo and hope to be successful. The results typically reported by marketing are certainly reflective of marketing quality (strategy and execution), but they are also the result of product/market fit, sales model complexity and the maturity and competition in place in the markets your company serves. Taking this broader and more holistic view of marketing performance is critical to building sustainable growth, executing the right go-to-market mechanics, and placing the right bets on investments of both time and resources.
  10. Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
    Mantra: “Thoughts become things”. As a leader, whether you are in a start-up or you manage large organizations, it is all about the attitude of accomplishment you project. This is not about being an eternal optimist or a Pollyanna with “we can do it!” posters. It is about the realisation that if you, as a leader, don’t believe your team can accomplish a goal then you have set everyone on the path to failure. And while this is true for small teams, it is amplified if you are leading a marketing organisation at scale. Negativity and doubt kill success and ripple through the organisation from the leadership team. Sometimes the narrow line between success and failure is one person’s belief that you can succeed.
    Squirm: “I can’t (fill in the blank)”. When people start sentences with “I can’t” it is often coming from a sense of frustration, or feeling victimized and powerless. People rarely recognise that the constraints they are placing on themselves to get to “can’t” are often false or surmountable if they ask for help, articulate the frustration, or admit they don’t have the answer. The “I can’t” frame limits the thinking and creativity required to drive positive outcomes and make a change for the better.
  11. What makes you stressed?
    Honestly, I am stressed writing the answers to these questions! Also, clowns.
  12. What do you do to relax?
    Stay physically active at the gym, play hockey, go on a run. I find it much easier to think and let go of distractions when I can balance life’s stresses with some sort of physical outlet.
  13. What is your favourite song?
    Impossible question. I assume this is the type of song where if you were trapped on a desert island with one song…you would never get tired of listening to it? In which case, my favourite song would be anything loud from Metallica’s Death Magnetic album on the off chance a passing ship would hear it and rescue me.
  14. Which book taught you most?
    Most of the time I draw a lot of management concepts from historical non-fiction versus business academia. If you’re looking for inspirational leadership, read The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, by Edmund Morris.
  15. Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
    I really enjoy most sports. I am a big fan of all the Boston sports teams, and given my Chicago roots I also like the Cubs, Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks. I am also a supporter of Arsenal in the English Premier League.
  16. Which country would you like to work in?
    Australia. Great tech market with a ton of opportunity in the SaaS space…and the beaches aren’t bad either.
  17. Which company do you think has the best marketing?
    It really depends on how you define “marketing”. I would expect most would gravitate to the big awareness brands in the market which really skews the focus to splash and branding. To me, the best marketing leans more toward creating the mechanics and processes of sustainable growth in your company rather than overweighting on packaging that grows for mass consumption. Some of the best marketing ideas and best growth marketing occurs unseen in the trenches.
  18. What do you love most about your job?
    The variety. With the completion of our merger with the Citrix “GoTo” products in February 2017, LogMeIn has expanded our wide range of SaaS products across multiple sectors ranging from collaboration to engagement to identity and remote access. We also have every go-to-market motion in play in terms of touch enterprise and field marketing to high velocity trial, online, and eCommerce channels. There is never a dull moment.
  19. What is your favourite book?
    Lonesome Dove. And, if George R.R. Martin ever finishes his new book….that one.
  20. What keeps you awake at night?
    The ongoing 2am thoughts are basically related to reaching escape velocity and avoiding incrementalism. Meaning, how do we make sure we are investing enough in our products, brand, campaigns to reach escape velocity (i.e. breakthrough and meaningfully move the needle) and not simply incrementally investing, or under-investing in real opportunities when they arise? Wanting to give people enough to do something, not enough to do nothing.

To continue reading this article register now

7 secrets of successful remote IT teams