Typical 24: Mark Lorion, CMO, Apperian

IDG Connect is looking to speak to IT, business and marketing professionals across the spectrum to discover more about their very different, typical working days…

IDG Connect is looking to speak to IT, business and marketing professionals across the spectrum to discover more about their very different, typical working days…

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  Name:  Mark Lorion

  Job title: CMO

  Company: Apperian

  Location: USA, Boston, MA

  Years’ experience: 20

What time do you reach the office each day?
I'm generally in the office by 7am or 7:30am. I like to get in early and get a jump on the day - plus it allows me to catch up with our teams in Europe. Once or twice a week I get up early to hit some trails on my mountain bike and then spend time with my kids before school and will arrive into the office a bit later. It's all about balance!

Is your job varied?
Definitely, it's why I love working with early-stage technologies so much. Nimble growing companies enable people to wear many hats and have the benefit of being able to move swiftly and adapt to changing industry and customer requirements.

Is your job creative?
One of the core marketing muscles must be creativity. Many people outside the industry believe that means developing ad creative and copy, like on Madmen. While that's part of it, today's marketing teams are increasingly quantitative and process-oriented. But even that takes a lot of creativity. Increasing a startup's brand awareness and driving sales leads without the budgets of a Microsoft, Oracle or IBM takes a lot of creativity and experimentation. And it requires analyzing data, testing ideas, and refining and scaling up things that are working.

What do you spend the majority of your time doing?
Majority of my day is spent talking with people. I try to have at least one customer or industry analyst interaction every single day, as well speaking with our head of Sales and his team. Those discussions keep me focused outside the build – on our customers and partners – and then, helping the Marketing organization to stay focused on projects that will have the biggest impact on those audiences.

Do you personalize your desk?
My desk is actually pretty barren these days, aside from a picture of my family and a fun "BBQ Top Chef" award my team at Apperian gave me after hosting a team outing in my backyard. I recently gave up my office and now sit out in the main office floor and side-by-side with the people in marketing, sales, support, and engineering. It keeps me closer to the heartbeat of the company and helps marketing lead better and provide support. As part of that move, I also abandoned paper notebooks completely and generally only print on paper when I need to sign something. So the sources of typical desk clutter --mug of pens, stacks of paper, staplers, etc. aren't really needed much anymore. With notes on Evernote, I can always get to them and search for relevant points regardless of device I'm carrying.

Would you describe yourself as creative?
I do consider myself creative, but wish I was better at it. It's fun to envision new ideas or new ways of solving problems. I try to surround myself with creative thinkers and have a network of close partners that I pull in for constant brainstorming. I learn from them every day.

Do you have any quirky daily rituals?
I'm a little addicted to Wikipedia. Practically every day I research some random topic before I go to sleep. The subject is generally influenced by an innocent question my seven or five year old ask me. Recent research projects have included aqueducts ("Dad, where does our water come from?"), electricity grids ("why did the lights go out today?"), and public sewers ("what happens when we flush the toilet?")

Do you tend to work on your own or with colleagues?
Mostly with colleagues, though I always try to protect a few blocks of quiet time each day. Rather than fill those times with email catch-up, I do try to think longer-term about the company and industry.

How many hours on average do you work a day?
I probably work 10-12 hours a day, but not all in the office. I like to get home to eat with my young family and will then get back online once they settle in. They're so much fun - and they help keep me balanced and I believe a more empathic manager.

Roughly how much time do you spend each day on email? Taking calls? In meetings?
In my role, email, calls and meetings consume the majority of time. I do consciously book several "thinking meetings" for myself every day in order to preserve more strategic planning time. It's hard to "change altitude" from long-range planning and strategy to tactical decision-making. Preserving those blocks of time has worked well for me over the years and it allows me to think more creatively.

Do you use social media much for work?
I use it more and more every day. I follow numerous topical threads and lists of bloggers and I'm increasingly using social media to interact with them.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
Working with incredibly high-caliber, motivated, and intellectually curious people. Being surrounded by people like that is stimulating and keeps me constantly learning.

What type of music (if any) do you listen to at work?
I love listening to music, but actually rarely do at work for some reason. I think I'll open up Pandora now - thanks for the nudge!

What do you do for lunch?
Apperian is based in the "Innovation District" in Boston and nearby there are a fleet of fun food trucks that assemble for lunch. There are some great options and it forces me out once or twice a week for a healthy walk. That walk also brings me along part of Boston Harbor, which I love.

Do you socialize with work colleagues?
Apperian has such a great company culture and an open seating plan. We work incredibly hard, but we also seem to have a lot in common and socialize around the office and after work with some frequency. Lately I'm enjoying an ongoing contest with a colleague over who has better command of movie quotes and random trivia.

Are there any tasks (through your career) you’ve been especially glad to get rid of?
I quite dislike email. The volume and pace of emails continues to escalate and many people seem to feel compelled to empty their inbox before they can get to other work. The inbox shouldn't be setting every priority and too often it's used to shift work around.

What is your last task of your day?
I usually scan through my inbox to ensure I haven't left a critical email from my team, the management team, or a customer/partner unanswered - even if just to acknowledge receipt and proper follow-up timing.

How do you like to relax after work?
Now that my kids can ride their bikes with confidence, we often take a family ride in the evening. I treasure that time with them and being away from electronics. Although the kids love to track the designs or "route art" that our tracked travel creates on a map using MapMyRide. Last week we rode to a park and attempted to draw a smiley face the size of a football field by driving in a large circle and creating eyes and the smile.

Do you keep checking email through the evening?
Yes. We have team members, customers, and partners on the west coast and in Asia and in my position I want to make sure I am responsive. But I try to go dark on email for a few hours when I'm focused on the family.

Do you take work projects home with you?

What would you say to your 20-year old self?
Some days and weeks seem to crawl by, but the years will fly by before you know it. Make sure to do the things that make you happy and healthy.

If you could try out any job for a day, what would you choose?
I love the outdoors and wish my career involved more time outside. Maybe in finding my next company I'll seek or launch one with a roof deck overlooking Boston Harbor.

What device did you use to answer these questions?
Macbook Air

Do you use your own personal device for work?
Yes. I have an iPhone and iPad and I do enjoy and prefer to have personal control over these devices. I'm fortunate to work for Apperian, as our own internal app store makes it easy for me to obtain the mobile apps I need for work through a branded and secure experience - and one that doesn't interfere with my personal apps and content.