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Human Resources

CMO Files: Todd Krautkremer, VP Marketing, Pertino

Get inside the mind of the world's top marketing professionals. In 20 questions we find out what they love most about their job, what their biggest achievements are... and what keeps them awake at night. Read 'The CMO Files'...

Name:  Todd Krautkremer

Organisation: Pertino

Job title: VP Marketing

Location: Los Gatos, CA

1.              Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Minnesota and grew up in the northern part of the state on one of its 10,000 lakes.

2.              What was your first job?  

My very first job was working at my dad’s small town bank doing everything from cleaning to painting (including being locked inside the vault while I painted the walls) and rolling coins. My first job after I graduated college was developing IBM networking software (SNA) at a company called NCR Comten. I was writing code that supported some of the world’s largest business networks at the time and I was completely clueless about networking.

BTW: This point bothered me so much that I joined one of the AT&T divestiture spin-outs (AT&T Information Systems) and helped build-out their SNA corporate network from the ground up.

3.              What was the first product you got really excited about?   

The Packeteer PacketShaper. It was 1999 and the internet was just turning the corner towards becoming critical business infrastructure. If you were an IT person at the time, you could not throw enough bandwidth at your internet link to keep it from being saturated – thanks to Napster and other websites. Any networking guy at the time remembers their first PacketShaper experience when you plugged in your internet and watched it discover and classify all of the traffic – Napster, LimeWire, CNN – it was mind-blowing.

Full disclosure: I was VP of marketing at Packeteer at the time. Hardly seemed like work.

4.              Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

Geoffrey Moore. I have always been fascinated by the human, organizational, and market dynamics around new technology adoption. Geoffrey, through his seminal works “Crossing the Chasm” and “Inside the Tornado”, was one of the first to give the tech industry a reference model and lexicon for bringing disruptive new products to the market. I hired Geoffrey shortly after he started The Chasm Group consultancy when I was at my first startup and that experience has helped shape my success in the four startups since.

5.              What has been your greatest achievement?

Despite two IPOs and one acquisition under my belt so far, my greatest achievement to date has been the adoption and raising of my two children, now 18 and 20. Shortly after assuming the CEO role at my third startup, Gearworks, my wife and I adopted an older sibling pair from an orphanage in Ukraine. They were 8 and 10 at the time and their lives had been an unimaginable existence of untold abuse, living on the street, and eating out of garbage cans to survive until they were finally taken to the orphanage three years prior. Our ten-year journey to mend their hearts, rekindle trust, and fill the many developmental gaps has proven to be immensely challenging and immeasurably gratifying.

6.              What has been your biggest mistake?

Startups are dichotomous by nature. They require you to be recalcitrant and flexible, patient and impatient, a leader and a follower, innovative and execution-driven, all at the same time. My biggest mistake was not learning this on my first startup. I like to think this lesson has something to do with helping my second startup, Packeteer, achieve a very successful IPO.

7.              What is your greatest strength?

Others have told me that I have a gift for story-telling and “seeing around corners”. By that I mean the ability to capture and order vast amounts of raw data and market insights in my mind and project a future state with reasonable accuracy. The two tend to go hand-in-hand – paint a compelling vision for how things will be in the future and articulate a believable story of how to get there.

8.              What is your biggest weakness?

You mean I can only pick one? I still struggle with failing faster. I’m a very optimistic and convicted person and that sometimes makes it difficult for me to “call the ball” quickly when a project or strategy is not panning out.

 9.              What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?   

I don’t believe that many marketers fully appreciate the transformative shift that is underway as we enter the era of the empowered consumer. Customers no longer need brands to tell them what to think, how to feel, and what to do, instead they increasingly rely on – and trust – peers, communities of interest, and crowd sentiment. Once you subscribe to this new reality, the way you approach marketing will be radically altered.

 10.          Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?

Mantra: “Dream more than others think practical. Expect more than others think possible. Care more than others think wise.” – Howard Schultz

Menace: “Awesome”

11.          What makes you stressed?

My inbox.

12.          What do you do to relax?

Tanqueray® gin martini, shaken, very dry, with three olives.

13.          What is your favourite song?

Tie: “Stay” by Rihanna and Chris Botti’s trumpet rendition of “Nessun Dorma”. I can’t explain it either.

14.          Which book taught you most?

Geoffrey Moore’s ‘Crossing the Chasm’

15.          Do you have a team or sport that you follow?

Long-suffering fan of the Minnesota Vikings!

16.          Which country would you like to work in?

Italy – just long enough to master Tuscan wines and cooking.

17.          Which company do you think has the best marketing?

I know this is going to sound trite – Apple, and it’s not because of a cult-like fondness for Jobs and all things Apple. It’s because they have found a way to appeal to the emotion of the masses. Everything about their marketing is about creating an emotional connection. People buy from people they like, but they get others to buy from companies they love. Apple gets this.

18.          What do you love most about your job?

I love the entire process of building a company and a new market opportunity from the ground up.

19.          What is your favourite book?

‘Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery’ by Ken Burns

20.          What keeps you awake at night?

 I don’t worry about the big guys we are disrupting by moving networking to the cloud, I would about the other startups that are poised to capitalize on our mistakes. 

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