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November 7, 2019

Always Play the Long Game

By: Chris Rogers

I am a big basketball guy

The Suns were my favorite team back in the day.  Their smooth, up-tempo offense was art. Naturally, most of the credit goes to Steve Nash. I loved watching his work. He had a big influence on me while he was playing. But he’s had an even bigger influence on me since he retired.

In his Hall of Fame speech, he said: 

Play the long game. The secret is to build the spirit and resolve to enjoy the plateaus… If you’re patient the plateaus will become springboards.

It’s kind of scary how many places this fits into my life.

Let me bring it back for ya

My first sales role was in the tech space at a company called InfoScout. It was a true startup environment. We worked out of shared spaces and I found myself excited to go to work every (ok, slightly less than every) morning. As I continued to meet the team and learn the product, I found myself having fun at work. 

It was an entry-level role, but I still felt involved. I was sitting next to Marketing and Customer Success, keeping an eye on what they were working on, and learning by proximity. I was also sitting next to engineers keeping an eye on what they were working on … not learning, but hell, maybe I’ll pick up coding someday. 

The other thing that hyped me up was how unique the technology was. Quickly, I started to see how this tech was going to make an impact. It was terrific exposure to working toward a goal I could totally put myself behind.

Still a rookie at the time, I started thinking about what my next career move would be. Where the words of a certain Canadian superstar (not Celine Dion) rattled around in my head. “Play the long game.” I needed to figure out my own long game. 

What is my long game?

At Infoscout, I started to understand what I wanted to do with my career, what I wanted to focus on. I had developed an interest in early-stage technology and knew I wanted to work in a similar environment for a long time to come.

It’s a long game though, so what is the right next move? I wanted to add to my skillset & move in the direction of my long term goals. I also wanted to be involved earlier in the startup process. I felt like making the right next step was more important than it had ever been. 

I came to Narrative Science because the technology seemed like magic and thought the impact would be similar to my previous experience. I joined Narrative Science after they had been around for a few years, so not exactly the beginning stage experience I was looking for. But, I had the opportunity to grow into a role where I would be taking a new product to market. That excited me because it would be the best of both worlds: a mature company, but still the early stage product launch experience I wanted.

Are we there yet?

I underestimated how tough it would be to be on the go-to-market team. Generating awareness, walking people through a beta program, and starting to gain customers works up a sweat. It was tough. It took a lot of time. It will continue to be that way for a long time. But that’s what Steve is talking about. 

There were a lot of plateaus, shit – there were valleys too, but it’s inspiring to have been involved so early and to now start seeing success. We have a long road ahead. I’m sure it will be full of plateaus and valleys but also some mountains to carry us through. That’s what makes all of this fun. We have the opportunity to change how businesses operate and to make work life easier for people, period.

We officially launched Lexio in July, acquired our first customers in August, more in September and October, and we are officially in a full sprint toward the springboard. Our team’s spirit and resolve have gotten us to this point. They have jumped every hurdle, survived every trench and kept hopeful during the plateaus. I can see the springboard now. We can all see the springboard. It’s inspiring to have it in sight. We can’t wait to leap off and dive into the future of data storytelling.

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