Leave a comment
Get the GH Bookmarklet

AMAs

Edward is the CMO/CRO of General Assembly (GA), the world’s largest training school for new economy skills.

[GrowthHackers Team Note: Keep in mind that Edward may or may not be able to answer some questions specific to General Assembly's past given how new he is to to the company. This is a unique opportunity to get a glimpse into how a C-level executive transitions between roles at different companies and how past experiences inform what lies ahead]

Prior to GA, he spent five years leading operations, strategy, and marketing for the Warburg Pincus company, A Place For Mom. While at APFM Edward grew the company 4x and took it from unprofitability to 20% margins. The experience that led him there included McKinsey, Expedia, Procter & Gamble and Wharton Business School. 

On the side, he has raced marathons and an Ironman and competed in global comedy competitions including being a finalist at the Melbourne Comedy Festival and the Canadian Improv Games. His first book was “The Ultimate Improv Book”. His next book, “Good Enough: Why Good is Better than Excellent” is about how chasing excellence gets in the way of being successful. He has lived in six countries on four continents and has traveled to more than 50.

You can follow him on Twitter: @Ednever

He will be live on Nov 8 starting at 930 AM PT for one and a half hours during which he will answer as many questions as possible.

  • SK

    S Kodial

    10 months ago #

    Hey Edward - great to have you on.

    My head is spinning trying to imagine what might be common between APFM and GA.
    Can you talk about what you learned from your experiences at APFM (or earlier, if that's easier) that you've already seen be helpful at GA and/or expect to be impactful moving forward?

    • EN

      Edward Nevraumont

      10 months ago #

      Thanks for the question.

      After I took the job I met with the investors in A Place For Mom. When I explained GA's business they said, "Wow. It's the same business at APFM!"

      That's obviously not true on the surface. APFM helped seniors find quality care for their aging parents. GA helps young people get into, or advance their career in tech. Completely different.

      But the mechanics are the same.

      Both businesses require two types of marketing: Immediate customer acquisition (I need help for me mom NOW. I am looking for a course on data science NOW); and long term brand building (There is a solution out there when you decide you need to find senior housing. There is a solution out there when you decide you want to upgrade your skills).

      When someone expresses interest, both businesses need to be responsive and get back to them as soon as possible (answer the phone for an inbound call; call back for a form inquiry).

      When we get on the phone, both businesses need to verify the person is actually interested. About 60-70% of people who inquire at APFM didn't actually need the service. The corresponding number at GA is about 50%. We need to "screen" those people out to find the ones we can actually help.

      When we find the families / applicants we can help, we need to get them to a local advisor / admissions councilor. Both businesses had geographically spread out local teams on the ground. We had to work closely with them from a centralized office and make sure the handoffs go smoothly.

      Then the advisors / admissions need to work with the family/applicant over a period of time. Some people will move the same day - or sign-up for a course that starts tomorrow. But most take months between the initial conversation and the move/start of class. We need to stay in touch during that time.

      I spent 5 years "fixing" the processes and marketing funnels at APFM. It's amazing how much the things that I am working on at GA are exactly the same. Down to the details of the exact same vendors I am using...

      3 Share
      • EN

        Edward Nevraumont

        9 months ago #

        Anuj:
        I can't figure out how to reply to your follow-up.

        We did not have single vendors for anything. My genera belief is to use specialist vendors. If you are going to use generalists, you are better to hire the folks.

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        10 months ago #

        That's an amazing breakdown - love it!

        Could you tell us what vendor's you're using for your marketing/conversion/analytics stack?

  • MM

    martín medina

    10 months ago #

    Hey Edward!

    Thanks for coming on here and doing this AMA with us!

    How do you define your goals when stepping into a new position? What are the first things you do when in a new role?

    Where do you find inspiration for your books? Are there any books in particular you’ve really enjoyed lately?

    • EN

      Edward Nevraumont

      10 months ago #

      Four questions!

      (1) I spent a week with the team before I took the job. I built out a full plan for what the new CMO will need to do -whether that was me or someone else

      (2) The initial focus is not on low hanging fruit. It's fruit lying on the ground. My belief is you go after super short-term stuff right away that shows clear impact. That gives you the cover and flexibility to go after the longer term (often more important) stuff

      (3) I read a lot and talk to a lot of companies, etc. Bill Gates often says you should always be reading two unrelated books at the same time It helps you make unique connections no one else has before. I do that.

      (4) I saw Hamilton in June. It was mind blowing. Lin's book on how it was made is almost as genius as the play. And Chernow's biography is incredible. I meant to read it years ago, but never did. I am almost done now. It's even better being able to see what Lin left out of the story. It must have been painful to skip some of the stuff he did to make the play work

      2 Share
  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    10 months ago #

    Bonjour Edward,

    Thank you for doing this AMA.

    There is a saying in French "Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien" that appears to relate a lot to the title of your last book.
    And this theme resonates with me in my startup experiences.

    Could you give us more color on the essence of your last book's title?

    Merci!

    • EN

      Edward Nevraumont

      10 months ago #

      Book is still in progress. (and delayed now that I took this job)

      Obviously excellent is better than good (by definition?)

      But you can't choose to be excellent. You can only choose to TRY and be excellent.

      And my argument is that TRYING to be excellent almost always ends you up in a worse place than if you try and just be good. Good is hard enough. Most people fail at being good. And if you are good at a lot of things, it is almost indistinguishable from excellence...

      3 Share
  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    10 months ago #

    Great to have you on for an AMA with us Edward. I'd like to know what you found most daunting about taking on the role of CMO/CRO of General Assembly? And how have you tried to overcome that challenge?

    • EN

      Edward Nevraumont

      10 months ago #

      Not daunted yet.

      Hardest part right now is the travel. I was away from home most of October.

      Every time I see my 21-month old daughter now at the end of the day she says,

      "Dada! New York? Airplane? Taxi?"

      I have to explain to her I am not traveling in November. But it will start up again. It kills me every time I leave her for a week.

  • NW

    Nicholas White

    10 months ago #

    Hi Ed! Between writing books, speaking engagements, Growth Hacker AMAs, and prolific tweeting; you have an active personal presence online. Given the limited time you have in a day, how do you reconcile investments in personal branding with investments in the brands you work for?

    • EN

      Edward Nevraumont

      10 months ago #

      I focus on the companies I work for.

      I was consulting for 6 months this year between APFM and GA. That gave me time to exercise more and to work on the book. But when I'm on a job it's hard to do anything else (other than exercise and family).

      Most of the "other" stuff I do doesn't take much time once the processes are set up. I read a lot online, and I use tools to share what I think is good into a buffer that gets pushed out through social media on a regular cadence. Sometimes I get carried away with something I can't get out of my head and I lock myself in a room at night and write someone on the blog. But I am extremely inconsistent compared to what everyone says you should do.

      I do things like this AMA or being interviewed on podcasts or some speaking events. But all of that is inbound. I don't look for it. And most takes little time (except the speaking gigs - which generally help the brand I work for as much as they help me)

  • LS

    Logan Stoneman

    10 months ago #

    Hey Edward,

    I'm quite interested in the fundamentals of thought process that go into success. Can you speak to any philosophies or big ideas you came across, that helped you construct the content for you new book?

    Thank you!

    • EN

      Edward Nevraumont

      10 months ago #

      (1) Be good enough
      (2) Get lucky

      There is a divide in this society. The right thinks that it is a meritocracy and that people deserve what they get. The left thinks that life is random and that people start with big disadvantages and that we should re-distribute wealth because "there but for the grace of god go I"

      I think both are right.

      If you don't get pregnant when you are a teenager or before you are married, and you don't go to jail, then you aren't poor in America.

      We know how to avoid "failure"

      But, no matter what the self-help books tell you, we don't know how to produce a best seller or a blockbuster movie, or predict what it will take to go from an analyst role to a CEO.

      We know some things that will help. But many many people who do all the things we know "help" will not become CEOs (or millionaires, or whatever small "n" thing you think defines huge success)

      I believe you need to do a lot of good stuff. That will guarantee you do "okay". And each time you do another "good thing" you get another lottery ticket into doing "awesome"

      Good enough + random luck = big success

      2 Share
  • JD

    James Dunn

    10 months ago #

    Hey Edward,
    1. Can you talk about some of the major initiatives that led to 4x growth of APFM?

    2. Also, could you talk about specific activities/tests you tried - including ones that didnt work - to ultimately get APFM profitable?

    • EN

      Edward Nevraumont

      10 months ago #

      (1) We fixed the compensation model for our advisors to one that was fair and attracted talent
      (2) We became FAR more open and transparent with the organization
      (3) We built full reporting ability so we could see what was happening with the business (what levers resulted in what impact)
      (4) We hired super smart driven people (we didn't limit ourselves to people with industry or functional experiences)
      (5) We did all the right things wrt paid and organic search
      (6) We did television and had a fantastic partnership with Joan Lunden
      (7) We used parallels from other industries and copied like crazy what worked in other places (SeniorAdvisor.com for example)
      (8) We created an extremely responsive, customer-centric process. If you inquire at APFM we will call you back within 30 seconds. Try it and see!

      What go us growth also got us profit. You do the right stuff with positive ROI and you will grow, but it will hurt EBITDA in the short term (I give you a machine that gives you $5 in a year for every dollar you put in. Your next question shouldn't be, "How to I manage my in-month P&L then!?!" It should be, "How many dollars can I put in the machine?"). Eventually you run out of amazing investment opportunities and growth slows down and profit starts flowing in. It's how Amazon did it (and continues to do it)

      3 Share
      • EN

        Edward Nevraumont

        9 months ago #

        Anuj:
        None of it is rocket science.

        In paid search you need to make sure your ads are relevant to what the person is searching for.

        In organic you need to make sure you have high authority (through white hat link building) and high relevance (through having the right site structure and great content).

        The hard work is in prioritizing those three things vs all the other distractions. And then executing on it.

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        10 months ago #

        re: We did all the right things wrt paid and organic search
        Are there any particular tests you can recall that led to big wins or deep insights you didn't have before?

  • JF

    Javier Feldman

    10 months ago #

    Hi Edward! It's great to have you hear today. Here's my question:

    I'm intrigued by the idea of your upcoming book that "good enough" is a far better choice than chasing after “excellence”. At some level, this feels at odds with the "don't be a jack of all trades" mantra or even the advice of being good enough at some things but still have deep expertise in at least one thing. So could you talk more about the idea you're proposing in your book and how it correlates with/flies in the face of more accepted advice?

    • EN

      Edward Nevraumont

      10 months ago #

      It depends on what you consider deep expertise.

      Most normal humans would think I am "world class" in Excel. But anyone who has worked for an investment bank would laugh at that idea.

      Can you tell the difference between a national-class diver and a world-class diver? Likely not. Only one has a shot at a gold metal. But on almost every other metric the diving skill of the two people are "effectively" identical. For most purposes "national class" is "good enough".

      What it means to be "good enough" varies a lot by circumstance.

      Neither you nor I are good enough to be in an NFL kicker (at least I'm not). But data suggests the worst kicker in the NFL is "good enough" in that he is as likely to be the best kicker next season as the best kicker this season is.

      Anyone who was good enough to be in the NFL would still be listed as having "deep expertise" on most people's list.

      In teaching the math knowledge of the least knowledgeable teachers in America is "good enough" to teach math (what matters is teaching skill, not math skill). But that isn't true in Peru where the relative math skill DOES predict student success. The worse teachers in Peru are NOT good enough at math to teach it.

      So like most advice, the answer is it depends. My book tries to provide a counter weight to the general argument that deep expertise is always the answer.

  • DH

    Dani Hart

    10 months ago #

    Hi Edward,

    What an awesome background! Thanks for joining us today. I'm curious...

    1. Being new to GA, what are/were your biggest challenges when it comes to leading a brand new team? Are there any new processes you're putting in place?
    2. Wow, an Ironman! That's impressive. How do you find time to train for that as a C level executive?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Cheers,
    Dani

    • EN

      Edward Nevraumont

      10 months ago #

      (1) Assess talent. Set priorities. Build metrics to track performance. Regular feedback cycles. That's it...

      (2) I took 3 months off to train full time for the Ironman. I believe experiences in life have more value than just about anything else. When 2008 happened and consulting slowed down, I took the opportunity to take time off and check the race off my bucket list!

  • TN

    Tri Nguyen

    10 months ago #

    What's the common thread, if any, between running marathons, competing in iron man, improv comedy and writing books?

    • EN

      Edward Nevraumont

      10 months ago #

      Life experiences.

      Life is too short to do only one or two things. I like to pick random things that pique my interest and then go deep in them to accomplish something. I would have loved to qualify for Boston or to race in Ironman Hawaii, but I wasn't that good. Maybe I could have been if I dedicated everything to "one thing" but that's not my style.

      It was my style to do comedy well enough to be good enough to compete at the national level. And running good enough to race full marathons. When I knew Boston wasn't in the cards without more time and effort than I was willing to put in I looked for new related challenges. I raced in an Ironman with a good, if not great, time. And a couple of years ago, before my daughter was born, I entered all of the Rock n Roll marathons in North America and did 11 races that year. (Not impressive compared to folks who run a marathon a day or race on all fifty states in a year or something, but it was a personal challenge I felt good about).

      I like personal challenges I feel good about.

      2 Share
  • DO

    Danielle Olivas

    10 months ago #

    Hi Edward,

    It's great to have you here today!

    I'd like to ask if GA has a dedicated growth team? If yes, how is it structured within the organization? If not, do you anticipate the need to create one moving forward?

    Thanks in advance!

  • JP

    John Phamvan

    10 months ago #

    Hi Edward

    You've clearly been in C-level roles for a while.
    For those in the trenches thinking about getting into such roles, what would your advice be to best position themselves for these opportunities - and in as quick a time-frame as possible?

    • EN

      Edward Nevraumont

      9 months ago #

      I answered this obtusely somewhere else.

      (1) Get good at what you do
      (2) Continue to learn
      (3) Have a plan for advancement that makes sense
      (4) Ignore your plan when good opportunities arise
      (5) Get lucky

      I applied to business school as a back-up when I left P&G to go to a small company. My visit to HBS was so awesome I made going to B-school a plan. I applied to McKinsey because it was McKinsey and it was early in the recruiting cycle. I worked their for the summer because I thought it would open doors in the future. I loved it and went back full time. I left McKinsey because the economy collapsed in 2008 and the job was a lot less fun. A recruiter happened to reach out to me at the right time while I was taking 3 months off to do an ironman.

      Going to Expedia was very lucky. Most people leave consulting for individual contributor roles. I just happened to have the right expertise to oversee loyalty and CRM at Expedia. When the head of email left I had the right expertise to take over that and get my first VP title.

      Then a buddy of mine from business school led the acquisition for APFM. It was an opportunity to help him out and fix and grow a mid-market business.

      The GA opportunity came when another friend from business school asked me to help out a portfolio company for a week. The CEO and I got along and decided to turn it into something more.

      So do good work and then get lucky. The more good work you do the more lottery tickets you have towards getting lucky.

      When I don't tell in that story is all the things I did that didn't go anywhere. It's easy to forget the failures when you tell the story of your life if it turns out pretty good.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    10 months ago #

    Hey Ed - so cool to have you on!

    Could you give us some insight into how you're thinking about how GA evolves & grows from where it is currently?
    What trends/technologies and other things I'm not even thinking about excite you about the future of GA?

    • EN

      Edward Nevraumont

      10 months ago #

      There are four way for a company to grow:
      (1) Better marketing / processes
      (2) More products
      (3) More geographies
      (4) Different customers

      I expect GA will do all of those things over the next few years.

      Stay tuned!

      3 Share
  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    10 months ago #

    One more that takes off from my earlier q.
    Of all the 4 ways to grow you listed - which do you believe is the biggest opportunity for GA and why?

    • EN

      Edward Nevraumont

      9 months ago #

      Short term: Improve the marketing
      Mid term: Some new products and new geographies
      Long term: A different group of customers

      There is at least 3 years worth of #1. Which will give us the breathing room to accelerate #2, 3 and 4.

Join over 70,000 growth pros from companies like Uber, Pinterest & Twitter

Get Weekly Top Posts
High five! You’re in.
SHARE
42
42