Thursday, March 11, 2021

An Industry Hero

All of us have heroes, people who inspire us and help drive us to become the very best people and professionals we can be. Sometimes we’re not even aware who those heroes are, people we’ve encountered, who exhibit a quality, practice, or characteristic that impressed us—and which we’ve adopted and picked up on our own. Sometimes we know exactly who they are, and why we admire them and aspire to be more like them. That could be a family member, a colleague or co-worker, someone in our industry or trade, or someone larger still.

When thinking about who I admire in my industry—or in this case, an industry adjacent to mine—the first person who came to mind was a woman I’ve never even met. That surprised me. Since about 2006, when I started working at DoubleClick, I’ve known the name of Leslie Laredo and have been aware of the work of her company, the Laredo Group. If she comes across this post, she’ll be surprised. I don’t expect her to know me, either. In fact, I’m slightly conflicted writing this, but I think it highlights that inspiration and role models can come from unexpected places—and from people we might know just by reputation or other people’s perspectives.

The Laredo Group, which Laredo founded in 1996, is a sales and account management training, and digital media training company that concentrates on the sales of advertising and marketing technology, as well as the sales and purchase of digital media. That includes mobile, programmatic, social, and video media. The company also assesses and analyzes sales performance skills and attitude to help sales teams and organizations benchmark their performance and potential. And it provides instructional design services for new hire on-boarding training, compliance and certification, internal product training, talent development, and sales training.

I was surprised to learn that they don’t yet offer marketing or sales research training, which seems a logical outgrowth of that focus. Laredo and the company don’t make the news often, but when I think about online media sales and marketing training, I think of the Laredo Group first. And I’ve never been a client.

Given that limited exposure, I’m impressed and inspired by a couple of things.

First of all, I’m impressed by the strong connection between Laredo as a professional and the activities of her firm. The connection is clear—it’s in the name. That speaks to the company’s ongoing ties to its origins and Laredo as an individual. It also speaks to the persistent dedication and investment of the firm’s founder. You don’t put your name on a company or keep your name on a company after 25 years unless you plan to consistently offer your best work and fully support clients and customers to their satisfaction. The company’s brand and your professional reputation become intertwined, and one can easily strengthen or weaken the other. Every action undertaken by an employee is an action taken on your behalf.

Secondly, I’m inspired by the ongoing focus of the company’s offerings. The Laredo Group identified a niche—sales training—early on in online advertising and media’s history and has continued to focus on that. That was a needed service in 1996, and it remains needed now, perhaps even more so as the industry continues to evolve and become broader based. While the company has expanded to sales assessment and instructional design, those are closely adjacent to the original practice and make tremendous sense as natural outgrowths. The Laredo Group took what it learned from the wide range of skills possessed by people, teams, and organizations seeking sales training to apply to skills assessment. It also leveraged its ever-developing experience in online and offline training to help other companies develop their own in-house training programs.

Other organizations, teams, and people can learn from that. I know I have.

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