5 min read

The Growth Leadership Show #3 - Peep Laja

On playing the long game and practicing patience.

On playing the long game and practicing patience.

🤙 Street Cred: Founder of CXL (CRO Agency), CXL Institute (Marketing University), Wynter (B2B User Research Panels).

👋 Follow Peep: Twitter | LinkedIn | Website

The Episode in Its Full Glory ✨

Or just search for ‘Growth Leadership Show’ in your favorite podcast app.

🧰 Show Notes:

After listening, you'll understand:

  • How to identify when to scale your business
  • How to play the long game and practicing patience
  • When to delegate so you can focus on what you enjoy doing
  • How to set goals for teams
  • How to find the areas where your employees can thrive
  • In which key areas conventional online education fails us
  • The Importance of having a good vendor (agencies, freelancers etc.) manager in your team
  • Peeps main advice for todays Marketing Leaders

Resources & Tools Mentioned

🤯 Three Highlights From This Episode

Following are three personal highlights from the interview.

I cleaned up and rephrased certain sentences of the transcript for better readability.

1. Proactiveness

The most important personality trait Peep seeks in new candidates is proactiveness.

  • Does the candidate show initiative?
  • Is the candidate coming up with stuff themselves, taking responsibility, and showing ownership?

These people are easy to spot. They're the ones always coming up with stuff on the spot, or they have side hustles, or they're active in nonprofits. Have a look at people's social profiles, are they actively contributing content? Are they part of conversation, or, the passive listener?

2. Resourcefulness

Secondly, he looks for people with resourcefulness and strong cognitive abilities. Somebody who's smart as a whip, "gets it", and learns fast. With a well-designed homework assignment you can test this quite easily.

  • Does the candidate read the assignment properly and understands the intention of it?
  • Can the candidate solve problems on their own and know where to get help?
  • Does the candidate ask intelligent, informed questions?

3. Growth Mindset

Thirdly, Peep tries to find out what the person is doing every day, every week and every month to get better at their craft. What have they learned, how are they improving? What's their goal?

In Peeps words:

People who are true ballers, who are going anywhere, they're always reading, consuming, thinking, and expressing their thoughts. Whereas some people are like: "yeah, I'm into learning", in principle everybody is, okay but then show me the goods."

You as a business need to decide what's the magic sauce that you bring to the table?

Everything else you can (and should) potentially outsource. In my experience 90% of what companies do on a daily basis is the same for every single company. Every SaaS company does PPC, every SaaS company does content marketing.

So what is the one thing that only you can do?

Examples of what Peep outsources and what he keeps in-house

For CXL, our conversion optimization agency, it's the CRO expertise that is the core that we cannot outsource. But for example test development (getting somebody to write the JavaScript for AB tests) or design work to test hypothesis we outsource.

Or another example, for Wynter we outsource development, even though it's a SaaS company, it's all outsourced because the core of what we do is something else. The core of Wynter is building tester panels, delivering audiences. That's the magic juice that nobody else has.

The skill to effectively manage agencies is going to be majorly important

That's also the reason why vendor management is going to be more and more important, the ability to hire and manage vendors like agencies, freelancers and other strategic partners.

As a vendor manager, you need to be a subject matter expert yourself so you can ask for the right standard quality of work and can negotiate on the details. And super important: Can you recognize success and failure of something you outsourced?

I asked Peep the following question:

"You had an inflection point in 2016, where you said to yourself: "I need to stop with the small stuff. I want to play a bigger game. What is that bigger game for you? And how has it impacted your life?"

Peeps answer

"I initially started out with our marketing agency CXL. But agencies by nature are pretty slow-growth businesses. So while running the agency I started a side hustle where I was doing these conversion coaching programs. They looked like Zoom coaching cohorts of some 50 people. And through this side hustle, which took me maybe 40 hours a year, I was making an extra 500K a year. So I was like, what if I would build a real e-learning company out of that?

So in 2016, I added another business line to our agency which now is the CXL institute. And after four years we're making the same amount of revenue with the institute than the agency that's already nine years in business.

Soplaying bigger for me means having a bigger impact on the world and also making more money.

But actually what happened is, now I'm making less money than I was back then. Because scaling a company is expensive. As you grow you need to hire more and more people. You need an office. We are 40 people now at CXL and good people cost money. It's fun, but also more people means there's more potential drama, there's conflict, there's the whole people management layer. This is complex and it adds to your stress level.

So you start to realize: I could do without all that and move much faster if it was just me. I'm a creator at heart. I'm a writer. I'm technical. I can ship stuff. I would have next to no expenses.

So sometimes I think about whether I made a mistake deciding to build multiple businesses and scaling them. It's more stress and the payoff (if it comes) will come much later. But then on the other hand, you can't build a hundred million dollar company alone. It's just impossible. Nobody has done that as far as I know.

So prefer to play the bigger game for now."