By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
“How I Work” is one of my favorite recurring series in Inc Magazine as well as via Lifehacker’s This Is How I Work Series, and I’ve been honored to have several heavy hitters in the B2B Sales and Marketing space who have joined our own series over the last few years.
We feature a new B2B sales, marketing or business leader here every Thursday answering what have become the standard “How I Work” questions. You can catch up on everyone we’ve featured thus far in the “How I Work” series here.
This week I’m excited to feature Pierre Custeau, vice president or product management at Oracle focused on the Eloqua marketing automation platform. Pierre has managed product strategy for companies including Infor, Aptean, Pivotal Corporation and CDC Software. Here, in his own words, is how he gets stuff done.
Location: Home is Montreal and work is Toronto, Canada
Number of unread emails right now? An embarrassing 273, including 2 from Matt Heinz…
First app checked in the morning? Alarm app (I travel lots and don’t get enough sleep), then Slack
First thing you do when you come into work? I switch on the lights as I tend to be the first one in the office on those days I work from our offices, which are a bit rate at the moment. I then will read up on the news pertaining to our space and maybe look at how key projects and business metrics are trending.
What is your email management strategy? Let me start by acknowledging that my strategy has been failing me lately as a combination of conferences, lots of travels, rapidly growing my team and taking some much needed vacation time have been eating at my ability to respond to emails quickly. Otherwise here’s how I would normally maintain zero inbox nirvana:
The most important thing for me has been to ensure that team members and important business partners are clear on how I like to communicate – this goes a long way in ensuring that email does not become the sinkhole it can be. So my team knows to CC me at will but to not expect me to necessarily read those in a timely fashion. They’ll both add me to the TO line and ping me on Slack if it is important or if they need timely feedback or support.
My default email view filters out emails not directly addressed to me so I don’t see those where I’m cc’d on mobile devices and on my desktop’s default view
To make sure I don’t miss anything important, I use the VIP list in Mail on my Mac to surface those in which I’m cc’d that are from team members and important business partners
Once I’m done flushing out the above two I’ll quickly peruse the list of unread emails remaining and will not be shy about doing select all and “mark as read”
Most essential app when traveling? Amazon Kindle : Early in my road warrior career I got stuck at the airport in Chicago and bumped into our company CMO – I asked him who he managed to keep his cool while flying all the time and having to endure delays and cancellations. He pointed at a book in his hand and told me he looked at those as an opportunity to catch up on his reading. I adopted that.
How do you keep yourself calm and/or focused? Just like in sports – by focusing on my game, anticipating plays and visualizing myself going across the line
What’s your perspective or approach to work/life balance? I don’t believe in work/life balance, I just believe in balance and that’s a very individual thing in that everyone needs to find their own ways of keeping their balance. I personally couldn’t remain creative, have empathy for customers, cultivate meaningful and useful relations, etc if all I did and was passionate about was work. Work is a very important part of my life but I don’t think it should define me. One of the best things a leader can do in my opinion is to harness whatever passion team members have outside of work in order to boost team spirit. It’s a great way to say “hey: bring your passion to work, whatever that passion is and we’ll use it to do great things together. And btw you get to keep that other passion too!”
Are there any work rituals critical to your success? I take time out between consuming information to just think, without any interruptions, music or anything else – I usually use my time on short flights to do just that.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Besides Eloqua which really pays my rent? I would say Microsoft OneNote, I’ve tried every other similar app and for some reason always comes back to that one. And yes I know it’s not “cool” to use MSFT apps…
What’s your workspace like? Changing as I work from a lot of remote place but my home office workspace is sparsely decorated with things that keep me grounded in my family and my other non work related passions.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack? I spend time on Sunday nights to look at my calendar for the week and identify what I’ll need to prepare for and as much as possible will attach reading materials to appointments. I then spend time every night to prepare for the next day. I’ll also make a list of 3 things I absolutely need to do that day and will put a sticky on my laptop. It is amazing how tackling 3 things a day makes a huge difference at the end of a year.
What are you currently reading? I just finished reading Dan Brown’s Origin and I’m looking for suggestions for the next non-fiction read as I try an alternate between fiction and essays/business books
Last thing you do before leaving work? I actually leave work twice: First time is a break to be with my family at dinner time or at the end of meetings if I’m on the road. When home I have this ritual to ensure walking out of my home office feels like leaving work. Second shift is just before going to bed and then I look at next day, answer critical emails requiring longer/more elaborate answers and compile my list of 3 things.
Who are some mentors or influencers you wish to thank or acknowledge? This would range from authors and philosophers like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry to politicians like Winston Churchill to famous entrepreneurs like Bill Gates. With that said I’ve tried to borrow small little things from many and not emulate any of them.
Name some supportive people who help make it possible to do what you do best? My wife first and foremost. She’s always had a very important and demanding career of her own but I would never be where I am without her support and her invaluable advice. At work my team is fantastic, I am blessed to be able to rely on passionate and dedicated individuals who make me look much more intelligent than I really am.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? I worked in Broadcast television early in my career and started out as an audio engineer on the French Canadian equivalent of the Today Show. I was two days into training when my trainer did not show up one morning. So they took my training wheels off and I had to do this nerve wrecking live show on my own. 10 min before airtime the director asked me: “Pierre are you ready?” To which I responded ‘I think so” He just lashed at me saying: “You cannot think you are ready, you are either ready or you’re not and you not being confident and assertive about it is just creating anxiety for all your colleagues. So I never want to hear you again say you “think” you are ready. It thought me the value of preparing, making sure you know your stuff and be confident and assertive in communicating it.
Name a guilty pleasure TV show I only binge on Netflix and don’t ever turn on an actual TV but I have to admit a penchant for Brooklyn 9-9 which I will sometimes watch on the plane on longer flights. I just love this silly kind of humour.
Anything else you want to add? I am truly honoured to be writing this right now. I love this space that we’re in.
Fill in the Blank: I’d love to see BLANK answer these questions. Paul Teshima CEO of Nudge.ai – I feel like I inherited this great product (Eloqua) down from him and Nudge co-founder Steve Woods and I would love to find out more about how he works and how he built this phenomenal product and customer following.
Have a nomination? Let us know!