Episode 153: Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot: How To Make Them Come To You

Brian Halligan is Co-founder and CEO of HubSpot. Prior to HubSpot, Brian was a venture partner at Longworth Ventures and VP of sales at Groove Networks, which was acquired by Microsoft. Previously, Brian was a Senior VP of sales at PTC. He has co-authored two books, Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead” with David Meerman Scott and Bill Walton, and “Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs” with Dharmesh Shah. Brian serves on the board of directors for the Fleetmatics Group (FLTX), a global provider of fleet management solutions. He was named Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011, a Glassdoor 25 Highest Rated CEO in 2014 and 2015, and an Inc. Founders 40 in 2016.

In his spare time, Brian follows his beloved Red Sox and is a voracious reader. He teaches a course on “Designing, Developing, and Launching Successful Products in an Entrepreneurial Environment” at MIT Sloan School of Management. (Bio via HubSpot)

Episode 153: Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot: How To Make Them Come To You

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The Learning Leader Show

“It looks like a rocket ship from the outside, but in reality it is slow and steady growth.”

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • Having a willingness to embrace change will help you sustain excellence
  • Understanding “The Inbound Methodology”
  • How HubSpot was born
  • The importance of finding a great co-founder who compliments your strengths
  • What’s advice would he give to others who are starting their own business?
  • Must have product/market fit — Look to improve someone’s life with something that is unique.  For the first 6 months spend 100% of your time getting that right
  • Specific notes about the product from a current user
  • The Inbound Methodology – Much more effective than cold calling
  • The traditional playbook is broken… How do you do “Inbound Marketing?” Create a blog, start a podcast — Find a way to attract people to you. Hubspot does a fantastic job of getting people to come to them
  • “I don’t have a phone on my desk” — “Sales is changing everyday” — His co-founder just bought a Tesla and did the entire transaction online
  • “If I was an outside sales person, I would choose an industry with a very complex product. If it’s not complex, then the buyer doesn’t need anyone to explain it to them. They can just read about it online.”
  • HubSpot sells a great deal completely through eCommerce
  • Why they publish their “Culture Code” and how it’s helped them recruit the best talent
  • How they responded to Dan Lyons very critical book discussing his time of employment at HubSpot
  • Dealing with negative publicity — How to handle a crisis — Agreeing that some of what was written was true (“We are way too white male and we are too young.”)
  • The dramatic rise of their stock price from when they went public to today (132% increase)
  • Why they have an “Inbound” conference every year and what takes place at the event
  • The importance of having healthy debates prior to “sailing the ships.” – Once the ship is sailing, everyone must be on board
  • Most important quality for Brian to hire you? They must know why they were successful in their prior work. He doesn’t only care about what happened, he wants to make sure they fully understand why they were successful
  • Read the book “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight (Nike)
  • “I like the name Learning Leader a lot. I like leaders who are constantly learning and evolving.”

“When you’re a startup, you have to be willing to take a lot of risks.”

Continue Learning:

You may also like these episodes:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 071: Nate Boyer – Green Beret, Texas Football, The NFL

Episode 047: David Marquet – “Turn The Ship Around”

Episode 107: Simon Sinek – Leadership: It Starts With Why

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If you enjoyed hearing Brian Halligan on the show, please don’t hesitate to send me a note on Twitter or email me.

Episode edited by the great J Scott Donnell

Bio From Amazon.com

(Bio in first person from Amazon.com) My day job is as co-founder and CEO of HubSpot, an inbound marketing company started in 2006. Most business market their products by “interrupting” their potential customers with advertisements, cold calls, email blasts, etc. We humans have gotten sick of being interrupted by marketers and have gotten better-and-better at blocking them out with new technology such as caller ID, spam protection, TIVO, etc. HubSpot helps businesses transform they way they market from interrupting potential customers to helping them “get found” by them in the natural course of the way they work today in Google, in blogs, and in social media sites. In other words, we help companies transform from “outbound marketing” to “inbound marketing.” Despite only starting the company a few years ago, we have over 1700 paying customers who on average increase their leadflow by 6x within 6 months of buying our product.

In addition to working at HubSpot, I am an EIR at MIT where I lecture on startups and marketing as well as help students when I can.

Prior to HubSpot I was a venture capitalist. It was in working with small startups that I realized that the fundamental way in which marketing has worked for the last several decades was simply broken.

Prior to being a vc, I was a student at MIT where I was a Sloan Fellow. I spent a lot of time at MIT studying web2.0, business model transformation, and innovation.

In the early part of this decade, I spent four years running sales at Groove Networks prior to it being acquired by Microsoft. I spent the first 10 years of my career in sales and marketing roles at Parametric Technology Corporation where I joined in startup mode and helped it grow to be over $1billion in revenue.

In my spare time, I like to read books by folks like David Meerman Scott, Seth Godin, Clayton Christensen, Geoffrey Moore, etc. I also play guitar poorly. I enjoy all kinds of sports like tennis, squash, running, and golf. I can often be found in summertime enjoying a Red Sox game in Fenway Park.