Human Resources

CMO Files: Stephen Terlizzi, Xangati

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:  Stephen Terlizzi        

Organisation: Xangati

Job title: VP of Global Marketing

Location: San Jose, CA





(1) Where were you born and raised?


I was born in New York and raised in Weehawken, NJ – literally where the Lincoln Tunnel comes out in New Jersey. Only three blocks from my childhood home you can see the entire New York City skyline…it is like walking into an automobile commercial.

(2) What was your first job?  


I worked in a manufacturer’s rep firm in New York City when I was 14. My entry into sales and marketing was sorting and hanging fabric swatches back onto the wall in a small backroom. I guess you need to start somewhere – at least I learned the difference between fuchsia and mauve. Truthfully, working in a showroom definitely instilled into me a love of sales and marketing.


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

It has to be my uncle’s original TRS-80 microcomputer. I remember spending hours learning how to use it and to program in BASIC. It had no hard drive so you needed to store the programs on a data cassette!  

(4) Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

It is difficult to narrow down to just one person since I have been blessed with so many mentors in my career. If I had to choose one, it would be Dick Egan, one of the founders of EMC Corporation. He taught me the fortitude to “make things happen” rather than “watch things happen” and to “never, ever, ever give up.”  



(5) What has been your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement by far is my wonderful family. Every day is an incredible adventure in life. Professionally, I have had the pleasure of working with great teams. One of my favourite projects was managing a four-continent product announcement that included five separate venues with more than 800+ attendees and simultaneous training of a 4000+ sales force on announcement day.

(6) What has been your biggest mistake?

I didn’t make it home from Japan, where I was living, in time to see my mom before she passed away from cancer. My priorities were so totally wrong at that time.


(7) What is your greatest strength?


I would say it is my ability to understand that “big picture” thing. In my work I can discern the most important facts in a situation and identify the effects of it on other things. When you look at the big picture, you can identify quickly what is essential and what is a distraction.    

(8) What is your biggest weakness?


Impatience, by far. Can we move to the next question already?!?

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

Marketing is overrun today by data, data and more data. Unfortunately, too often we can let the data dictate our marketing objectives resulting in great marketing metrics and little business impact. I remember one of my worst (and best) experiences at Tuck was where I totally blew a case in Strategic Cost Accounting. The professor said, “Steve, you let the numbers lead your decision-making rather than let your decision-making interpret the numbers.” It was a painful lesson that I have never forgotten.



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

My mantra comes from my days in sales: “Inspect what you expect.” If you do not measure the results, then nothing is good and nothing is bad…it just is. Likewise, the phrase I don’t like is “I hope…”; hope is not a strategy – sales, marketing or otherwise.

(11) What makes you stressed?

When you go the extra mile for someone and then they stab you in the back. Unfortunately, it happens often to marketing folk. 

(12) What do you do to relax?



Spend some quiet time in prayer and meditation, enjoying a good cup of Joe and some Vitamin D from the California sunshine.

(13) What is your favourite song?

Wow, too many good choices. I would have to say Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel – it has been my ringtone on my cell phone for many, many years. Whenever I am in a funk, it always uplifts me knowing that one door may close, but another will open.


(14) Which book taught you most?

I would have to say it is JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. It has taught me the courage to pursue my goals in life. All the characters from Frodo to Aragorn to Gandalf to Eowyn show incredible courage when faced with a seemingly unachievable task. Galadriel says to Frodo, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”


(15) Do you have a team or sport that you follow?


I am a long-suffering NY Mets fan. You know you have a weakness for hard-luck cases when you sit watching a team that has already lost 100 games for the season in a windy and cold Shea Stadium at Willets Point just to get the Fan Appreciation Day gift.

(16) Which country would you like to work in?

I have worked extensively in Asia, in both Japan and Singapore. I would love to go back someday. However, it would be great to live in London, Paris or Rome.

(17) Which company do you think has the best marketing?



This may be a case of “iron sharpening iron,” but I would say Apple and Samsung. Apple just gets it and can take technology marketing to the ultimate. Samsung has done an amazing job of becoming a respected global brand, bypassing many other great names like Sony, Panasonic, etc.

(18) What do you love most about your job?

I love seeing my co-workers growing as they succeed in their projects. Developing people is one of my most rewarding activities. Working side-by-side and seeing them accomplish things that they never thought possible is so fulfilling.  

(19) What is your favourite book?


I have a lot of favourite books, particularly the aforementioned Lord of the Rings. Growing up in the NYC area, I could completely relate to Catcher in the Rye. I really connected with Holden Caulfield during my teenage years.


(20) What keeps you awake at night?

I try to keep my work/life balance. However, when a major event is coming like a product announcement, I can find myself running through my head everything that needs to happen. Similarly, I tend to obsess about the continual changes in the competitive environment.


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