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Cognism at Turing Fest 2022 - LIVE BLOG

Turing Fest is Europe's leading tech conference and Cognism is there!

Hit 🔄 for live updates from EICC Edinburgh.


And that's us for our day at Turing Fest! Thanks for following along.


"Lessons I learned":

  • Poor market escape velocity and vectors
  • You need to raise money earlier than you think
  • Hiring director on up is incredibly difficult bootstrapped
  • We were on a collision course with billing and payments.
"You need to cuddle with the chaos. You need to keep going."


It's important to always be asking yourself how you can be better. 


Stop. Think through the problem and come up with possible solutions. 

You have a problem, what are the possible causes? And then let's align solutions to each of these causes. 



Who has enough time and money to do everything they want?

No one. Constraints make you think about how to get the best out of what you've got. 


Alignment. How high performing teams become a high performing company.

What's the vision? What's the mission?

How do you get everyone moving in the same direction?

Every new person you hire, makes the mission alignment look a little like this:

IMG_5806 (1)

but you want to bring people in who align with the mission, so it looks a little more like this:

IMG_5807 (1)


Patrick would ask these questions in a final interview:

  • What are some of the happiest moments of your life?
  • Two of the top ten worst moments of your life?
Why? Because he could better evaluate if someone being hired into the company would fit into the company culture. 


ProfitWell believed in "giving the most charitable interpretation". In other words, when there is a conflict, give them the benefit of the doubt. 

"Design the culture around 99.99% of occurrences."

Have integrity with conflict. 

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People. "The thing that builds the thing."

"People and culture are everything." Most people agree with this sentiment.

Then why is the average tenure of leadership team members so low? 


Patrick believes it comes from fear. 

"We don't define who we're for nor hire and fire based on these values."


After another short break for some conference networking, we're back for the last speaker of the day.

Patrick Campbell, former CEO and Co-Founder at Profitwell, talking about '7 growth tactics we used to scale to a $200 million exit'.


A leaders superpower is to have emotional presence at work. 

Emotion is highly contagious. If you can show up for your team from a place of calm, kindness, and excitement, it can rub off on those around you. 

Of course this is also true for the converse. If you come into a room of colleagues heavy, angry, frustrated or impatient, others around you may pick up on these emotions. 

Presence for others:

  • Focused listening
  • Emotional language
  • non-anxious acceptance
Be a human leader, leading humans.


And then their's joy. Are we making space for joy in the workplace? Are your employees allowed to show joy, and still be perceived as professional?

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Ignoring someone grieving may lead you to lose that valuable employee. 


Grief at work

  • Practical flexibility
  • Conversational and consent
  • Meaningful action
  • Collective grief requires collective grieving
Compassion is a key.


If we don't manage grief well, even if it has nothing to do with what's happening within the workplace itself, you will lose people. 

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After Covid-19, a lot of people were re-evaluating their lives and resigning as a result.

We need to think critically about how we can better serve the people we want to stay in our organisations. Helping those people thrive. 


One of the important aspects of human emotions that luckily, we are talking about more these days, is grief.

Not just grief from a loss of a person in our personal lives, but loss of colleagues, loss of a failed project, loss of any number of things within the workplace.

And often, grief isn't something that can be kept and dealt with at home. It shapes how we feel, how we sleep, how we eat, how we show up to work. So it's important for leaders to become more grief literate. 

Supporting those we serve. 


Understanding human emotions and the nuances of human emotions is important as a leader. One of the amazing things about humans is we can feel multiple emotions at once. We are complex emotional creatures. 

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Back to stage 1 we go, this time, hearing from Sherry Walling, Clinical Psychologist at Zen Founder speaking on Leadership superpowers. 


"Those are my 4 key takeaways from ten years at HubSpot."


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4 key takeaways

4. Tie every product message back to your 'why'

Your super power is your ability to bring forward your why at every opportunity. 

It sounds simple, but lots of companies neglect to remind customers why they're there.

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4 key takeaways

3. Use words your customers understand

HubSpot launched a CMS, well, actually, they launched a COS. It was a lot of marketing tools, cool technology, but it was less recognisable to customers. So they repositioned it as a CMS again, which was a success.

"My aim is not to tell you not to create new things, but use the words your customers know."

5 rules for explaining products to customers:

The mum rule:

Can you explain it to your mum using those words? If you can't explain it to them, then you can't explain it to your customers. 

The cocktail party rule:

Can you explain it in 20 seconds?

The pricing page rule:

Does a rep need the pricing page to explain it to someone else?

The head nod rule:

Does your customer nod their head, or better, ask questions excitedly?

The comparison rule:

Can you compare it to something similar?


4 key takeaways

2. Bring customer stories to life

5% of audiences remember statistics. 63% of audiences remember stories. 

As a product marketer, you're your company's story teller. So be proactive, tell the story. Make an impact. 


4 key takeaways:

1. From megaphone to membrane 

The dangers of the megaphone approach:

  • Rushed go-to-market
  • Hit it and quit it strategy
  • Missing insights
  • No investment in unsexy features
  • PMM a bottleneck

The shift you need to make, is from this megaphone approach, to become more like a membrane. Transferring content from one to the other. 

Connective tissue sharing information.

Benefits of being a membrane:

  • All timing is accounted for 
  • Fully insightful
  • Consistent support
  • Purposeful investment 
  • PMM a strategic partner


  • Align PMM goals with product (or sales) goals
  • Align on strategic initiatives and milestones
  • Align deliverables to avoid surprises. 


What is product marketing? There are a few definitions, but product marketings biggest job is to be the customer champion. 

Your customer understanding the product, and the product understanding the customer. 


"One of the key insights I've learned over the years at HubSpot is product marketing and I want to share some of my biggest take aways."


After a quick lunch break, we're back!

Who's up next?

It's Ari Plaut, Principle Product Marketing Manager at HubSpot speaking about 'Scaling up: Product marketing lessons from ten years at HubSpot'.


What makes an experiment an actual experiment? A hypothesis. 

We believe x. To test this, we will do y and we predict z.

If we are right, then abc.


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Put what you already know about your company to one side.

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What's slowing things down?

Perfectionism. Doing things perfectly the first time. No mistakes. 

The sooner you can start making mistakes and learning, the faster you can create something better. 

"It's impossible for a man to learn when he thinks he already knows."


Assume the growth of your startup is the hardest challenge you're going to face. 

Are your smartest people working on growth?

Will those people get first priority for resources?

Is your company set up framing growth as the hardest intellectual challenge?


What's going to make your startup successful is not yet known. It's dictated by how quickly you can learn and make adaptations.

You're on the edge of the unknown.

Plus there's an increasing army of competitors all trying to do the same. 


A quick thought experiment. Imagine you're right. The start up you're working in is inevitable. It's going to succeed. 

If that's true, then it means someone is going to do it. So it's a race. It's not a race to do it first, but a race to do it right. A race to solve a puzzle. 

The best startups understand this, and they're always experimenting, testing things, speaking to customers, looking at data, paying attention to the details.


Matt begins by asking us to answer a question.

Jump forward to 2024 and your business fails. Why might it have failed?

"The first company I was in failed in 9 months, the second in 6 months."

If the biggest risk to your business is something outside of your control, then that's a problem. If the risk is something you don't know about your customer, then great. 


Next up, we've got Matt Lerner, CEO of Startup Core Strengths speaking on 'Startup growth from first principles'.


As Huw finishes his talk, he sums up:

  • Recognise reality.
  • Reassess constantly.
  • Look after yourself and your team. We are all just people.



  • Stay focused on the mission.
  • Reassess, reassess, reassess. You are never done.
  • Your mental health matters. If you're going to lead your people well, you need to take care of yourself.


Seize opportunities. Realise revenue.

"We invested in our product, by the end of the pandemic we were lightyears ahead of where our product was before. We invested in the team, we hired strong, driven people."


"That's not to say this was easy, it was horrific. No one knew what was going to happen. Life was turned up side down."

"It was awful for everyone involved. But it taught me something."

Emerge stronger. 

It's about your own residence. How do you react day in and day out. What mechanisms do you have to cope?

We needed to believe there was a light at the end of the tunnel.


More lessons learned:

  • Take a problem as a chance for innovation.
  • Stay agile.


TravelPerk's success didn't come from strategic planning, it came from empowering the individuals within the organisation.


How many layoffs did the travel industry face?

62 million people globally. 

TravelPerk is proud to say they had zero. But it wasn't easy. There was furlough and salary sacrifices but the team stuck together because they clung to their values.

They explained to staff why decisions were made and what the plan was. In other words, treating people, like people. People who need stories, a sense of belonging and purpose. 


TravelPerk's survival plan.

  1. Survive. No matter what, we will make the tough decisions to survive.
  2. Turn lemons into lemonade. Make the most of what we have.
  3. Emerge strong. Don't hibernate and make it through, be better by the end. 


Lessons we learned:

  • Surround yourself with strong people - do they believe in your values, goals and direction?
  • Face the facts. We all think we are special and exempt, hope is not a strategy.
  • Have a framework ready for crisis. When stress is high, you want to have an action plan ready.


How to survive a crisis.

The first thing to say is, nobody expects a crisis. 

2020 was set up to be the best year yet. And yet out of no where, came the pandemic. 

We had to face the facts. We had an emergency crisis meeting, and created a crisis framework:

Image from iOS (12)


"I doubt Covid will be our last dip. Dips happen."

Maybe a recession, environmental factors, another pandemic, who knows. They're out of our control. You need to control the controllable. 

Be prepared, have a plan, adapt and come out on top.


How much revenue did TravelPerk lose in the pandemic?

99% in a day.

"We lost all of our revenue, overnight. It was horrifying to say the least. I'd never experienced anything like it before."

TravelPerk was a start up with great growth up until the pandemic. But they've come out the other side thriving. 


After a quick coffee break, we are back. Up next, Huw Slater, COO of TravelPerk, talking about 'How to survive a crisis: Lessons from a war time COO'.


As April closes off her speech, she offers us some homework to help us build our sales narrative:

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Ask yourself these questions and build your messaging around this.


The story maps to our positioning:

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April proposes a new pitch structure:

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Starting with insights. 'Hey, we work with customers like you, and we tend to find they suffer with xyz, this is what we see. And this is how we can help with that'.

Alternatives. Be open and honest about how you compare to other competitors. Don't slate the other company, just share the pros and cons honestly.

Perfect solution. Show how it's easy to use or adopt. 

Value we deliver. Now you can look at features, show how your product can grow and scale with you. 

Customer experience. This is how we do things. 


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A good sales person doesn't act like a sales person. They act as a guide. Putting things into context so the customer can make an educated choice. 

You shouldn't make the customer do the work. 


How hard is it to buy your product?

April shares how product demos are not as helpful as you'd like to hope. She has experienced them as 'wind tunnels'.

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"40% of B2B sales purchase processes end in no decision because they don't feel confident making a choice."

It's less risk to not make a decision at all, versus make a bad choice. 


"Selling is hard"

Now April says something a little more controversial.

"I think buying is hard."

They're harder because if we make a bad choice, they have consequences.

Example: April buys a toilet.

April is told her toilet is broken, and she needs to buy a new one. She goes to the shop, speaks to a sales assistant who asks what she's looking for.

She is directed to the back of the store where all the toilets are. 

She finds a sea of toilets. She's overwhelmed by the choice. She doesn't feel educated enough to make a decision. 

So she goes home to research. She discovers how much there is to know about what you need when buying a toilet. 

She feels frustrated so she goes back to the store to speak to a sales assistant for advice, but again is overwhelmed by the names, features and general choice. 

So she goes home, and makes the old toilet work. 

It was a negative sales experience, because it was so complicated. April was nervous to make a bad choice she would be stuck with.

And April shares that selling tech and software is just, if not more difficult.

The people you're selling to have likely never purchased a product like yours before.


Next up, April Dunford, Founder of Ambient Strategy on 'How to craft a story that sells'.


Before Maria closes her talk, she wants to recommend a book.

Atomic Habits by James Clear. She shares her favourite quote from the book.

"You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems."

If you get 1% better every day, you can be in a totally different place in 6 months. 


Elements of high performing teams:

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Make sure you're checking your principles, values and practises and update them as you evolve.


Inclusion. If we want the best out of our teams, we need to set them up for success. Everyone should know how they can add value and be offered equal chances to do so.


Accountability - taking responsibility.

"A situation in which someone is responsible for things that happen and can give a satisfactory reason for them."

Adjust your approach and learn from mistakes. 

We need better accountability systems that allow us to learn and grow, not be paralysed by fear of consequences. 


Execution is very difficult without the right team. Knowledge, capacity, skills. 

Sometimes you will be constrained by the team you have to hand in the moment, but that means adapting your plans to be realistic to what you can achieve with that team.


When we align our purpose and goals to our execution, we want to see a measurable outcome. 

But feedback loops can be delayed.


When you grow a team and a company, you need a process for repeating successes and avoiding repeating mistakes. 

Operating systems are like business habits that help us reach our goals over and over again.

 You don't want each team having 50 different ways of planning. You want to codify these processes.

No one likes a processes because they feel bureaucratic but they play their role in streamlining business activity. 


Maria believes there are three important factors when building successful companies:

  • Execution (principles)
  • Goals (mission, vision and strategy)
  • People (values and behaviours)
Each of these three elements are interconnected. You need all three to be successful and move in a sustainable and responsible way.


"Risk management is the identification, evaluation and prioritisation of risks followed by coordinated and economical application of resources to minimise, monitor and control the probability or impact of unfortunate events or to maximise the realisation of opportunities." 


Maria shares we each live within a circle of concern, but we also have a circle of influence. Some things in life, are outwit our control. But some areas, we can positively influence. 

We have control over ourselves, how we respond to challenges and we can change ourselves. Our practices, our attitudes. Adaptability is what helps to keep us successful.Image from iOS (4)


Maria Gutierrez, VP of Engineering Strategy and Operations at Twitter joins us to speak about building healthy and responsible tech companies. 


Cognism coming to you from Turing Fest!

Look forward to expert insights from leaders in tech, including Maria Gutierrez, Twitter (keynote speaker), April Dunford, Huw Slater, Matt Lerner, Ari Plant and Patrick Campbell!

Turing Fest 2022

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