“The best way to manage a large team is to give everybody an opportunity to do something great. Give people the opportunity to take on new responsibilities, roles, and even move to new locations. By creating autonomous work environments, leaders allow their teams to be what I call “intrapreneurs.” Intrapreneurs are entrepreneurs within the walls of the company they work for. They get job security but the opportunity to work as individuals to create, innovate, and start new opportunities in addition to maintaining and growing the ones already identified.”
I had the pleasure to interview Kim Perell the CEO of Amobee, a global marketing technology company, serving the world’s leading brands and agencies across North America, Europe, Middle East, Asia and Australia. Amobee ‘s recent acquisition of Turn for $310 Million underscores the company’s commitment to become a global digital marketing leader. In 2016, Amobee was named one of Fortune’s “Top 10 Workplaces in Advertising & Marketing” and listed as one of Fortune’s 100 Best Medium-Sized Workplaces. Kim’s achievements as a CEO and entrepreneur have been widely recognized including being named one of AdAge’s 2017 “Marketing Technology Trailblazers,” one of Business Insiders “Most Powerful Women in Mobile Advertising,” honored as American Business Association’s “Women of the Year 2015,” and in 2013 earned the Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” award. Kim has also been profiled in CNN Money, The New York Times, Forbes and The Huffington Post. A great believer in paying it forward, Kim loves to help young entrepreneurs achieve success and is an early stage investor in over 70 start-ups, 12 of which have successfully been acquired by some of the largest Fortune 500 companies. Kim’s book, The Execution Factor, was released by McGraw Hill on Monday, September 10th.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Right out of college, I landed what I thought was my dream job working for a booming internet startup. The company raised over $120M, then the market took a sharp turn, the company went bankrupt and I was laid off, along with my closest friends. It was the hardest time of my life.
With this failure, came my biggest opportunity, and it was the catalyst with which I became an entrepreneur and started my first company from my kitchen table. It was a lonely and difficult journey, but the company to over $100 million in annual revenue. I went from broke and unemployed to selling my first company and becoming a multi-millionaire by the time I was 30, with my last company selling for $235 million in 2014.
Today, as CEO of Amobee, I work in one of the most exciting and rapidly changing industries, and oversee 1000 employees across 25 offices worldwide, and supporting the digital transformation of Singtel, one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies with over 700 mobile subscribers and a $50B dollar market cap. Last year, I oversaw Amobee’s $310M acquisition of technology platform Turn and last month, the acquisition of the assets of TV and video software provider Videology, for $101M.
I am also an active early stage angel investor in more than 70 startups, 14 of which have been successfully acquired. I look at it as a hobby: I love ideas, I love learning and I love helping others achieve success. When I look at which companies I want to invest in, I look for people that can execute. It’s the most important skill for entrepreneurs, and I believe it’s a skill that can be learned.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
When I started my first company in 2003, the digital marketing industry was in the early stages and looked completely different than it does today. U.S. internet advertising revenue in 2003 was a mere $7.3 billion and Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and even Facebook had yet to be created.
Today, these tech companies are far larger and more powerful than anyone could have predicted, and this year digital ad spending in the U.S. is expected to reach $111.14 billion. The rate of change and growth in the digital marketing industry has been incredible, and I feel so lucky to be part of an industry that is both dynamic and growing.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
As a team bonding experience a little over 5 years ago, I had decided a great exercise to help people “break though” their fears and increase their confidence would be breaking wooden boards karate style. You would write down your fear on the board and then break through the board. None of us knew karate, but we were told in the instructions we read that five-year-olds could push through one of the boards. How much fun would this be?
The team was really into it. “You can do it!” we all yelled as employee after employee approached the boards, brought their hands crashing down, and . . . failed to break a single board.
No one could do it.
This exercise was supposed to be about building confidence, not causing failure and injuries. Turned out we had the boards cut the wrong way. Apparently the wood needs to be cut with the grain for this to work. We didn’t. We were trying to break boards for bonding, but we had failed to read that part of the instructions, let alone specify the right way to cut the boards at Home Depot!
This was a large team exercise, involve a hundred or more people and this taught me executing things well often requires more steps and planning and focus than you think — and always read the instructions and the fine print.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Great people make great companies, so I see our people as our greatest asset and the factor that makes Amobee stand out the most. When I started my first company, I was only 23 years old and was working from my kitchen table in Hawaii. It was a big risk and I was definitely scared, but my belief in myself had to be greater than anyone’s doubts.
Today, I am honored and humbled to lead a team of over 1,000 employees across the globe. Creating a vibrant company culture that allows employees to thrive is my top priority. When my team is empowered to do their best work, clients get the best service and technology in the industry. That’s what really makes a company stand out.
I am extremely proud of the workplace Amobee has created and the recognition we have received across the globe for an outstanding workplace culture. Awards include Fortune Best Workplaces in the Bay Area, Great Place to Work Best Workplaces in Asia, Fortune Top Ten Best Places to Work in Advertising and Marketing, Fortune 100 Best Medium Workplaces, Great Place to Work Best Workplaces in the United Kingdom, SellingPower’s 50 Best Companies to Sell For and BRW’s Best Workplaces in Australia.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
In August 2018, Amobee completed the acquisition of assets from Videology, a leading software provider for TV and digital video advertising. With global digital ad spend expected to reach $270 billion and worldwide TV ad spend $190 billion in 2018, Amobee aims to deliver next generation advertising leading the digital and TV convergence. The addition of Videology combines TV, social and digital in a single platform, enabling marketers to unify advertising across all screens and devices. As CEO of Amobee, along with our team, I’m leading the post-acquisition integration process and overseeing our 1000+ employees across 25 offices. The market opportunity is enormous and it’s very exciting to be on the forefront.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
One of the most important keys to developing a successful team is having a clear vision. Vision is key to action: You have to see, literally and metaphorically, what you’re trying to achieve. Is there a concrete goal you want your team to achieve? What are the stepping stones along the way and, in the end, what will success look like? These are questions that both you and your team should know the answers to.
Vision also motivates action, so integrating your vision into your routine is critical. When leaders pay closer attention to how they’re using vision, it can significantly improve their road to execution. And in the end, execution is what matters. By focusing on results, the success of your team will speak for itself.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
The best way to manage a large team is to give everybody an opportunity to do something great. Give people the opportunity to take on new responsibilities, roles, and even move to new locations. By creating autonomous work environments, leaders allow their teams to be what I call “intrapreneurs.” Intrapreneurs are entrepreneurs within the walls of the company they work for. They get job security but the opportunity to work as individuals to create, innovate, and start new opportunities in addition to maintaining and growing the ones already identified.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’m very grateful to have had many mentors and supportive relationships throughout my life. My greatest mentors have been my parents who are both entrepreneurs. I was fortunate to be exposed to the challenges of running businesses through them at an early age. My dad was a roofer who became real estate entrepreneur, and my mom’s work revolved around company values — to help companies put people before profit. She exposed me to much of the people part of what make great teams and great culture.
My dinner table conversations growing up were not about sports or school. It was more, “Here’s the business problem we’re trying to solve,” and then we’d have a family discussion about it. There’s a lot of hard-work DNA in our family. I was able to watch how hard it is to be an entrepreneur and how great it can feel when you build something successful. Everything had to be earned in my family.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My passion is people. Helping others to achieve success is what I want to focus my life on for the next chapter. It’s why I became an angel investor, I love spending time with entrepreneurs. I look at it as a hobby; I love ideas, I love learning and I love helping others achieve success. As an entrepreneur and founder of my own company I know how hard and lonely it feels. There were many people that helped me get to where I am and I want to pay that forward, because nobody achieves anything alone. I see hundreds and hundreds of business pitches and meet people who have dreams and what to change their lives. To date, I invested in over 70 startups, 14 of which have been acquired.
Looking back, there’s one skill that drove my success more than anything else. It’s the skill I look for in the individuals and entrepreneurs I invest in and hire: Execution. And I believe it can be learned. My dream is to share this. I believe in Execution so wholeheartedly that I wrote a book on it — The Execution Factor — that is being published by McGraw Hill and coming out in September. I wrote it to help others achieve success in business and life by mastering the 5 traits of execution.
I love supporting entrepreneurs and helping people achieve their dreams and a book allows me to support as many entrepreneurs as possible.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Focus on execution and results — successful innovation as 1% percent idea and 99% execution. By focusing on execution, you let your results speak for themselves.
- Ask more for opportunity. If you’re stuck and don’t know how to get that first opportunity, the best way to start is by asking for what you want. Ask for the promotion. Ask for the opportunity. If you don’t ASK, you won’t GET. The worst thing that will happen is you don’t get it, but most of the time just the simple act of asking opens up the door to even more possibilities.
- Get exposure to the P&L and financials at your company and run towards it, ideally with the opportunity to own a P&L. Understanding the numbers will also let you speak in the same language as everyone else.
- Build relationships. Relationships and the people you surround yourself with are the secret behind successful leaders.
- Create intrapreneurial work environments. By creating an autonomous environment that allows your team to thrive, you are allowing individuals to create, innovate, and start new opportunities in addition to maintaining and growing the ones already identified.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Execution. The ability to DO — get things done, the right things — to get results. To learn to adapt and change, and keep moving forward despite the challenges, hardships and obstacles that lay ahead. Execution is what separates the dreamers from the doers, and it’s the trait that successful people have in common. I attribute my own success to my ability to execute, and I hope to share this skill with others to help them achieve success in business and life. Execution is the difference between success and failure. I believe in it so much and that it can be learned, I wrote a book on it. My first book, The Execution Factor, The One Skill That Drives Success, designed to help entrepreneurs through mastering execution, will be released by McGraw Hill on September 10th, 2018.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Success is not linear nor is the order you have to achieve things. Growing up, I thought of my achievements in life as very sequential, and I was trying to live my life in a certain order — whether it be starting a company, starting a family, going to school etc.
Success to me had always finishing one thing before moving onto the next. Then many years ago, a great mentor of mine asked why I felt I had to do them sequentially and why I couldn’t do them in parallel.
This outlook forever changed the way I looked at my life.
That’s when I found that my work enhanced my family, my family enhanced my life and it was the passion projects that renewed my energy, sparked creativity in everything I touched — whether I was working as a CEO, having lunch with an aspiring entrepreneur, angel investing and advising companies, working on my book, or starting a family.
Knowing that success is not linear and understanding there are going to be so many challenges — more than you can imagine — that you’ll face on your journey, and that’s ok, keep working in parallel, so you don’t have to wait for one to start another and can work in tandem and in my experiences in working on multiple things add and benefit each other — and inspire and invigorate me.
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Thank you so much for these inspiring insights!
Originally published at medium.com