The CMO Files: Mike Volpe, Cybereason

What keeps CMOs awake at night?


Name: Mike Volpe

Organisation: Cybereason

Job title: CMO

Location: Boston, MA

  1. Where were you born and raised?
    I was born and raised in the Boston area. After college I worked in San Francisco for a bunch of years before moving back to Boston again.
  2. What was your first job?
    I worked mowing lawns and as a caddy at a golf course before I was old enough to have a legal job, but my first real job was working summers in a car battery warehouse where I moved and packed 5 to 50 pound car batteries for shipment. It was physically hard, sweaty work and makes you appreciate the luxury of an office job.
  3. What was the first product you got really excited about?
    Probably Excel. It is way more powerful and flexible than most people think, and I spent hours and hours at a time using it in my first professional job. I’m still a giant fan.
  4. Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
    My dad.
  5. What has been your greatest achievement?
    I’m most proud of building HubSpot from nothing to over $150m in revenue and a really successful IPO. We created over 1,000 jobs, gave a lot of people’s careers a big boost, and generated a lot of value for all the employees, partners and customers. I still have people that I don’t know come up and hug me or shake my hand at marketing events.
  6. What has been your biggest mistake?
    My biggest mistakes have been in hiring. Usually I get swayed by the paper qualifications someone has and I ignore my gut which is telling me “this person cannot be trusted” or “this person is an asshole” or worse… both!
  7. What is your greatest strength?
    Creative problem solving. I’m not the most creative person in terms of new idea generation, but if you put a goal in front of me I can usually figure out a way to beat it.
  8. What is your biggest weakness?
    I’m bad at celebrating success. If we hit a goal, I think “great, what’s next?” But teams need to take a moment to celebrate their success and acknowledge their achievement. I’m always thinking about what is next and am really bad at living in the current moment.
  9. What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?
    Most marketing leaders lack an understanding of the technology behind the tools. Knowing more about how websites, email, social media actually work at a slightly technical level gives you the ability to leverage them in unconventional ways.
  10. Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
    Mantra: “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” - Babe Ruth
    Squirm: Whenever someone makes an excuse as to why something is hard or not possible. Impossible just means you have not been clever enough or worked hard enough.
  11. What makes you stressed?
    I’m a pretty even-keeled person and not much really gets to me. Maybe the biggest thing is a lack of sleep. There was a period where we had our second child and between the new baby and the older one also not sleeping well, I maybe got 2-4 hours of sleep a night for a few months. I got really stressed out and it affected my performance a lot.
  12. What do you do to relax?
    I try to workout or play golf.
  13. What is your favourite song?
    I’m a big Jay Z fan. And him with Beyoncé is a wonderful musical combo, so probably the song Crazy in Love.
  14. Which book taught you most?
    The best book on growing a SaaS company is Behind the Cloud by Marc Benioff. It is just a collection of short stories, but collectively they give you insight into how he thinks, which is a key mindset to have to grow a big company.
  15. Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
    I don’t have much free time, but I do try to catch most of the New England Patriots games. Watching Tom Brady and Bill Belichick completely outsmart all the other teams so consistently is just amazing to watch.
  16. Which country would you like to work in?
    I love working in the US, and especially Boston. It has a strong and open tech community, and it is the epicenter for the cybersecurity industry.
  17. Which company do you think has the best marketing?
    I think the marketing team at HubSpot does a nice job, they should still be any list of the best marketing teams. But I’m also very proud of what the team here at Cybereason has done in the past 9 months - increased web traffic by 580%, grew lead generation by 420%, created 650% more pipeline, helped grow revenue by 500% and also launched RansomFree and got 250,000 new users in under 6 months.
    Now, if you are looking for companies where I don’t work, then I would say that Drift has done an awesome job building a big audience using their blog and podcast, and Privy has built a very effective viral acquisition in a difficult market with a freemium product.
  18. What do you love most about your job?
    I like having to constantly find new ways to solve problems, and then lighting up the scoreboard (dashboards) with the results when we crush the goals. Marketing is about using your creativity to drive metrics and the combination of those is very fun for me.
  19. What is your favourite book?
    Not Fade Away: A Short Life Well-Lived puts a lot of things in perspective.
  20. What keeps you awake at night?
    My kids! Otherwise I sleep great. No regrets is the key to life.

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