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      INAP Executive Spotlight: TJ Waldorf, CMO—Head of Inside Sales and Customer Success


      In the INAP Executive Spotlight series, we interview senior leaders across the organization, hearing candid reflections about their careers, the mentors who shaped them and big lessons learned along the way.TJ Waldorf

      Next in the series is TJ Waldorf, CMO and Head of Inside Sales and Customer Success. Prior to this role, he served as Vice President of Global Marketing at INAP and Vice President of Inside Sales and Marketing at SingleHop, which was acquired by INAP in 2018.

      In our conversation, Waldorf discussed what excites him about the INAP brand, how he got to where he is today after initially pursuing an early career in graphic design and the importance of mentorship. Read on to learn about these topics and more.

      The interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

      Tell us how you got into sales and marketing. What inspired you to pursue these areas of business?

      It’s funny when I think on this, because I distinctly remember telling myself that I’d never be a salesperson. Back when I was a teen, I viewed sales as the proverbial snake oil salesman tricking people into buying things they didn’t need. I originally aspired to be a graphic designer and earned a degree in design and visual communications. I always loved drawing and creating. I got that from my mom. But as I progressed into my early 20s and my first real job, I realized sales (and marketing) are about service. We are serving the needs of people and businesses. That was something I could really get behind.

      What excites you most about the INAP brand as it stands today?

      In November, we’ll celebrate the one-year anniversary of our refreshed brand identity and direction: Performance for Your Purpose. At the most basic level, we’re in the data center and cloud services space, yet what we’re doing is providing the foundation for our customers to deliver their services to their customers and deliver on their purpose and mission.

      If we’re not operating optimally, there’s a very distinct domino effect. Have you ever tried accessing a website or an application and found it was unavailable or moving very slowly? We all have. In some cases, that’s because the underlying infrastructure is not working properly, or there are issues at the application level. At INAP, we promise high performance, reliable service and an exceptional customer experience. When we deliver on these promises, our customers get to deliver on their promises. That’s what gets me fired up and excited about the INAP brand. The impact we have on the services that power aspects of our everyday lives is incredibly exciting.

      You recently became CMO and have Inside Sales and Customer Success under your wing, along with Marketing. What are some changes or challenges you’re seeing in these areas of the business?

      I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to oversee these three teams and to view them through a singular lens of how we approach the end-to-end customer life cycle and experience. The addition of the Customer Success org makes logical sense given some of the similarities in the work they do relative to inside sales, and the significant marketing impact they have on overall customer experience. After all, the best marketing comes from word of mouth, so if we (marketing) can enable the customer success org to accelerate the chatter, we’re in a great spot.

      As far as challenges go—and this is not unique to INAP—we work in a very competitive space and must constantly prove our value to our customers. They have choices in the market, so it’s our job, collectively, to reinforce why they chose us to begin with and why it’s in their best interest to stay with us for the long term. It’s certainly not an easy job, but I think we have an opportunity keep improving on the great work these teams have done so far.

      Out of the qualities you possess, which do you think has had the greatest influence on your success? 

      Without a doubt, the first is my drive for lifelong learning. I’ve never operated in any role where I thought I knew everything there is to know, and I enjoy the process of learning and growing my knowledge about a topic. I’m never afraid to ask the potentially dumb question, because nine times out of ten, lots of others in the room have the same question.

      The other quality is finding great people to surround myself with, be it people I report to, people who report to me or mentors I’ve had over the years. There’s a saying that goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, to together.” I think about my career in that way. I have a great team here at INAP and see the momentum we’re building together.

      Who are the people that have mentored you or been role models? 

      How much time do we have? I cannot stress the importance of having a mentor or multiple mentors. You can learn things so much faster than without them. This has been critical for me, and I don’t think I’d be where I am today without these very important people in my life.

      My parents are truly are the foundation of who I am today. I’m trying to pass the values they shared down to my son. I’ve also had many great mentors throughout my career and find myself bringing new ones into the mix when new challenges or opportunities pop up. I have mentors that run the gamut from CEOs to CMOs, VCs to what usually gets referred to as ‘reverse mentors’—folks younger than me that can keep me plugged into what’s important for the next generation. I even find myself learning from my nine-year-old. Maybe he’s a mini-mentor.

      What advice would you give to someone pursuing sales or marketing in tech, specifically? 

      Remember that your job is to be in service of your customers and their objectives. This is something I learned from my dad. You’re helping them make educated decisions on how the services, tools or platforms you provide will best help them achieve their goals. For sales and marketing, especially in tech, it’s far too easy to get bogged down in features and functionality and forget why a solution was built to begin with. Stay focused on the problem you’re helping the customer solve and you’ll be miles ahead of your peers.

      What are some of the big lessons you’ve learned in your career?

      Being exceptional at hiring and retaining great people probably tops my list. When I first started as a manager, I thought I had to have all the answers and tell people exactly what to do. But I learned that hiring great people and enabling them to do what they do best makes work, and life, 10x more productive and easier. This lesson came the hard way through lots of trial and error. This points back to the old adage of work smarter not harder.

      What are your thoughts on work-life balance? Have your ideas changed over time?

      I once heard Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, refer to this as “work-life-harmony.” That stuck with me. It’s about harmonizing the work and life to achieve your personal objectives in both areas. I do think, however, that there is a time and place to completely unplug. I ebb and flow in this area. My wife and I are both working parents and we try to make sure we’re helping one another find that harmony. Work is such a large part of our life but it’s good to keep its purpose in perspective.

      Laura Vietmeyer


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      SingleHop Women in Tech: Martina Saracevic, Director of Inside Sales


      I sat down with Martina Saracevic, Director of Inside Sales, who will be celebrating her seven-year anniversary with SingleHop in May. Continuing our Women in Tech series, Martina answered my list of defining (and admittedly loaded) questions with the frankness, insight and passion we’ve all come to expect.

      What did you want to be when you were a kid? Did you know you would be in Tech or Sales?

      I have always been organized and detailed, almost obsessive compulsive. I liked to have a good understanding of what the process looks like and what I can expect down the road. As I started my career and built sales relationships, I was comfortable explaining in detail the process and product, which is especially important in tech. Clients need to understand what the day-to-day of being a SingleHop customer is like, and how that is different from their current experience. So, Tech Sales seemed like a natural fit.

      Who are the people that have mentored you or been role models?

      My first inspiration was my father. My mother and father came here as immigrants in the 1990’s when the war broke out in Yugoslavia. They went from being highly educated individuals that were working in architecture and geology to bringing themselves up from the bottom. They teach me to value every dollar and that everything in life requires hard work. They are definitely my rockstars.

      If I looked all the way back, there was a fifth grade teacher that mentored me to be visionary about the future. Long after I graduated primary school, he would advise me on which classes I should take in high school, where to go to college (Go Ramblers!).

      As I was starting my career, I worked at a startup. The VP of Sales there, Mike Zobitz, who later came to SingleHop and hired me on, became on of my role models. He taught me that sales doesn’t have to be strict. It can be fun, for both the sales rep and the customer. You can enjoy coming into work and it can be relaxing as long as you know what your goals are.

      TJ Waldorf has been a role model for me due to the amount of dedication he has for his role. And I can see that he has a process in place about where he wants to be at the end of each day, and that gives me passion. These days you don’t see a lot of people who devote that much dedication to their careers anymore. At least I don’t. Younger generations seem not to want to make a commitment; they want to rise to the top without making the contribution. And TJ is the opposite of that. Even as he moves on to a full-time marketing role, I will be using him as a mentor. I appreciate the thought and effort that he puts into every decision he makes.

      Does gender make a difference in the Tech workplace?

      I think gender does make a difference. It makes a difference for our customers. Men and women have varying points of view. And I think that’s a positive! We may think through a very specific scenario in different ways, which opens up alternative solutions for the client.

      I have been in this industry for over seven years, and I am definitely happy about seeing more and more women in the workforce. In the early days, it felt like you were living in a man’s world.

      What do you love about your role in tech?

      In the early days, I was under the impression that “we were just selling servers,” but when you really look at it we are supporting businesses. It is a good feeling to know that you are helping small or enterprise companies to be more efficient. We are the backbone of that business and of their success. And your individual impact can encourage that success as you provide opinions and thoughts about how they can be even more efficient and successful in terms of what their technology and revenue goals are in the next 6 or 12 months.

      What are some of the lessons you learned along the way?

      Use all your team members. Rely on all your resources. You can never be the smartest person in the room. Allow everyone to bring their strengths and knowledge to the table.

      What are your thoughts on work-life balance and being a mom plus a rockstar at work?

      There is no work-life balance for working mothers. If you are a working mother, whether in the tech industry or other, it is what you make it. Every day is going to be chaotic and I think that is just normal. If you have a significant other that understands your goals or you have mutual long-term goals then you both will make it work. There is no way to have it all, and you just need to come to terms with that. If you are ok with not having it all, then you move forward; and if you are not, then you need to change something in your life.

      When things get too hectic, or I need to be rebalanced, cuddling up on the couch with my four-year-old, watching a movie, and having “us time” – that is what brings me back. It is what refuels me to make sure I am ready to go on Monday.



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