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Bowdoin Drops Third Episode in Executive Leadership Podcast

Posted by Lauren Kendall on September 10, 2020
September 10, 2020 The Bowdoin Group, a Boston-based executive search firm with deep expertise in executive leadership search and team expansions for companies across the Innovation Economy, shares the third episode of the leadership podcast series “Decoding the Journey: Stories from the Technology C-Suite.”

In the third episode of this executive leadership series, our own Rachel Kohn (Principal, The Bowdoin Group) speaks with Norman Guadagno, Chief Marketing Officer at Acoustic. Acoustic is an independent marketing cloud with the open platform needed for success in a dynamic world based here in Boston, MA. As CMO, Norman leads the strategic global marketing agenda to support the growth of Acoustic, bringing over 20 years of experience as a marketing leader for preeminent brands and agencies such as Microsoft, Wire Stone, and Carbonite.

In our latest episode, you’ll hear more about:

  • Where Norman sees the future of MarTech is heading
  • How Acoustic leverages AI and machine learning to make marketers’ jobs easier
  • What executives can do to position themselves as market leaders when it’s so hard to predict the future

Listen to the third episode of our new executive leadership podcast series below on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you stream podcasts:

For more ways to consume this episode, check out the transcript of Episode 03 below:

RACHEL KOHN: Hello, and welcome to Decoding the Journey, a podcast where you’ll hear more about stories from the technology C-suite, straight from the mouths of CXOs who built these companies. AI and ML have moved to the forefront in today’s enterprise software development, intersecting dozens of ecosystems. And as executive recruiters working with the software and technology companies, we are always curious to dig deeper into how C-suite leaders got to where they are today. I’m Rachel Kohn, principal at The Bowdoin Group. And along with my colleagues, Paul Manning and Jim Urquhart, we will explore the stories behind these companies and their leaders. And most importantly hear their perspectives to find out what’s going on in the industry today.

Today, I am thrilled to be joined by Norman Guadagno, the CMO of Acoustic. Welcome, Norman, and thank you for being here.

NORMAN GUADAGNO: It is a pleasure to be here, Rachel. I’m looking forward to the discussion especially after that impressive introduction. So, I feel like I have a lot to live up to already.

RACHEL: Well, I’m excited to hear from you. So, to start us off, why don’t you just tell us a little bit about yourself and professionally speaking, what got you to where you are today?

NORMAN: Sure, and I am the CMO of Acoustic. And I imagine many people have not heard of Acoustic, which is part of the job of a CMO to, of course, make things well known. So, to give you a brief history of Acoustic and then work backwards—how I ended up there. Acoustic is a marketing technology company. In fact, we’re the largest independent marketing technology company only focused on marketers. And we were formed in July of 2019 as a carve-out from IBM. And that’s why many people have not heard of us, because the name and the company really have only been in existence for a little over a year. But, we previously were a set of technologies that had existed inside IBM as IBM Watson Marketing. Most of which had been acquired, some which had been built by IBM, and the IBM and some of the team inside realized that they really weren’t going to be able to penetrate the market as IBM. And that—at the same time, there was a need in this marketing technology space for an independent company.

And so, that’s how Acoustic was born, we’re private equity owned and about 1,000 employees strong with about 3,500 customers around the globe. And I’m sure we’ll talk more about what the Acoustic is doing. I’ve been there since September of last year, September of 2019, as CMO. Prior to that, I ran marketing here in Boston for Carbonite for about four years. Carbonite is fairly well known in data protection space, and I helped drive that company to move from the a B2C brand to a B2B brand as well. We did quite a number of acquisitions over that time. Prior to that I worked for a number of years in the agency space. So, I’ve been on the agency side, as a leader in a marketing agency. And I also spent a number of years at Microsoft and early in my career at Oracle. So, I’ve been doing this for a while, and now I’m pretty excited about what we’re doing at Acoustic.

RACHEL: Awesome. And I would love to hear just a little bit more about Acoustic. You know, from a platform perspective—a little bit more about where you fit into the market, just to get a better understanding. Especially as you mentioned, right, it’s kind of one of those best kept secrets—that company that people haven’t heard of. So, you know, help us learn a little bit more about the company.

NORMAN: Yeah, it’s fighting words for marketers to say best kept secrets. We never want to hear that. That’s like, “NO! It’s not supposed to be a secret; it’s supposed to be well known!” But given that we still are a good secret—And I’m assuming we have about 20 to 24 hours to talk about the martech [marketing technology] space, because it’s a pretty complex one, but I’ll bring it down to the sort of simplistic view of the universe and how Acoustic fits into it. You know, 20-plus years ago, marketers came to this realization that, “Oh, we can send emails. Wow, that’s kind of cool.” And from there was an entire field of today I think they map 1,000-plus companies in the martech space overall. And that ranges from tiny, two- person companies up to Salesforce and Adobe and Oracle and very big companies, and they range all over the map. The simple way to think about the martech space is as follows.

Marketers use a lot of different tools, and they’re constantly adding new tools to find ways to connect with their customers. Some of those tools are platform-level, if you will, that try to do lots of different things. But at the core of almost every marketer’s effort is the concept of campaigns—what do they send them out through—email or through SMS or some combination. Most—a lot of marketing departments really sort of orient around this notion of campaigns. And that means the ability to touch customers through different channels, as well as typically get some sort of analytics as to what’s actually happening. There’s a lot of other pieces here. So, when you really reshape your perspective on the martech landscape, turns out of those 8,000-plus companies, there’s really only about less than 10 that are providing a platform. Providing campaign tools, content management, personalization tools, analytics tools; the ability to bring data in and out of the system. And those are big players. Like we mentioned Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle. There are what I think of as sort of up and coming players—that like HubSpot here in Boston, and then we have Acoustic. And Acoustic is, in fact, a full platform. We have a campaign tool. We have a content tool. We have a personalization tool. We have various analytics tools. And we have an easy way to get data in and out. But we come at it uniquely from the fact that we are only focused on marketing, and being able to deliver a marketing platform to marketers. Versus some of the larger companies that are trying to serve every department inside the enterprise. Or perhaps some of the smaller companies that don’t have the proven scale that we have.

So, we fit in a very unique niche in the market. And one we think is going to be very, very profitable hopefully for us. But also, a real opportunity—because you read a lot as I’m sure you have—about, “CMOS command biggest share of discretionary IT spent.” Yet, there’s not a lot of companies focused on delivering value just to that marketing organization. That’s one of the things that we do. And we also do it by being able to leverage things like AI and other technologies.

RACHEL: I appreciate you giving us a little bit more of the history of martech because I do feel like it is one of those—words that you hear significantly more, but it’s interesting to kind of hear it boil down to the fact that there really are a very small subset of players that are really making an impact in this space. I’d be curious to also just kind of hear from you—as you kind of look forward. Where do you think martech is poised to go and what do you see this technology doing in the future?

NORMAN: Martech’s at a unique place right now, Rachel. In that marketers are using more and more technology, but not necessarily doing better and better marketing. And by that, I mean, there’s this unfortunate drift. And this this is not uncommon in the technology space where all of a sudden the technology and being able to sort of use the technology becomes more important in some ways than the “why” in we use the technology in the first place. And I often term this as—when we think about martech, we’ve had this overemphasis on the “tech”, and underemphasis on the “mar” part. And I think that the future of success in martech, honestly, lies in being able to let marketers do what they’re really good at. Which is thinking big, creating interesting ways to connect and attract with prospects, with customers to build brands—and that the technology is in service to that. And unfortunately, we do see a lot of instances where the marketing becomes in service of the technology. And I can’t tell you, you know, the number of times over the past five-plus years that I interviewed candidates for roles that are focused on one aspect of the technology, and when I dig into it—someone who might be a, you know, an email specialist, they actually don’t know anything about marketing. They just know how to run the tool. And I think that that’s a miss—the martech space ultimately has to serve the needs of marketing, which is to attract and retain great customers. And to build great brands. So, you’re going to see not just from Acoustic, speaking selfishly—but I think for many of the companies in this space I hope a return to giving the marketer the ability to do their best work. And letting the technology serve that through the process.

RACHEL: So, speaking of the technology piece of it and how technology is serving the marketer, I know that Acoustic has artificial intelligence and really built into the platform in a variety of ways. Talk to me a little bit about, you know, what that looks like and how that’s integrated through the platform with the various types of offerings that you have with the Acoustic products

NORMAN: Yeah. And AI’s another one—AI and machine learning are another set of terms that often mean many things to many people. And what we’ve tried to do at Acoustic—coming out of the legacy of IBM, which obviously has a very strong AI practice with—and take technologies with Watson. We have tried to leverage that experience and do a few things. One, our AI capabilities are really there to make the marketers job easier, first and foremost. So, when we talk about it, we really talk about the ways in which it helps the marketer. The way in which it helps the marketing process. Whether that be through being able to quickly help pick the right subject line that’s going to work in an email campaign. Or, as we will be doing in an upcoming release of the tool—when somebody searches, be able to make smart selections for the marketer in the content they have that is most appropriate to the campaign that they’re building, at that moment. Or with our analytics tools—to be able to find ways in which there are problems occurring in a customer’s journey, sometimes called “anomaly detection.” Not an— it’s wonky term that I’m not usually a fan of, but it’s essentially looking for outliers. Thinking about the types of situations that a marketer as a human might not be able to see. But a machine learning or AI capabilities, looking across thousands or millions of data points, quickly sees patterns and can identify things like outliers. Or anomalies. Or quickly sees patterns of one thing is performing better than another

So, that’s where we see AI aiding the marketers job. No marketer wants to say, “Okay, AI is going to do everything for me, I’m done.” What they’re going to do is say, “I can focus on the parts where my expertise and my creative capabilities and my strategic insights are providing great value.” And that sort of large-scale pattern matching, pattern searching and or, you know—calculating which is the better outcome based on, you know—Bayes’ logic is going to be handled by the machine.

RACHEL: Hearing you describe it that way speaks to this idea of the art and the science of marketing. Right? It seems like it really provides a marketer with the ability to focus in on the science—focus in on their art and have a blend that makes them really exceptional at their jobs. So, it’s really interesting to hear you describe it that way.

NORMAN: And I like hearing you talk about that notion of art and science. Because marketing is a mixture. And yes, marketing is a very quantitative-driven discipline today. We can measure everything. And a-as one of my peer CMOS says—a lot of us all say is, “Just because you can measure it doesn’t mean you have to.” And some things actually can’t be measured and you shouldn’t try to. So, what I look for is that we want to be as disciplined and quantitative as possible on the areas in which we can measure, and those measures give us insights that help us do better marketing. But I don’t like spending a lot of cycles on the areas where we can’t measure. Where the measurement is essentially meaningless. And that sometimes is where there is that art. Yes, I can test subject lines in emails and data will get us to the best performing subject line. But, no amount of data helps you craft the right sort of product offering. And understanding of your target buyer. And understanding of the things that might motivate them to be the input to all those subject lines in the first place. And that’s where we’re at art and science come together, and where marketing really does happen. Because fundamentally, you have to create something of interest to your buyers. Or no amount of great, you know click through rates and other measures are going to matter.

RACHEL: Absolutely. And one thing—just to pivot us away from the technology and from the product and to focus a little bit more on you too, I remember—

NORMAN: Thank you, by the way. I love it lot when you focus more on me here. That’s—

RACHEL: Right? I mean, that’s what we’re here for to be totally honest.

NORMAN: (laughing) Thank you.

RACHEL: So, I remember when you first joined Acoustic that getting the chance to lead marketing for a marketing technology company was particularly exciting for you. So, talk me through a little bit about why that’s so special? And I’d also just be curious to understand how your background as a marketer has helped you from an executive seat position—inform the go-to-market strategy and really kind of influence across the C-suite.

NORMAN: So, a lot a lot of good questions embedded in that. You know, as a marketer—as we were talking about earlier, I am responsible, and I have been for a while of buying or influencing the purchase of a lot of technology and using a lot of technology. And in my particular case—having spent the bulk of my career in the technology business working for a number of large software companies, I’ve always had a great interest in tools that we use in marketing to do our jobs better. And then I do believe that there are great tools—and I-I’ve used pretty much every one of the solutions on the market, including all of my current competitors at one point or another. So, when I was given the opportunity to join Acoustic, it was one of those cases of, “Ah, after all this time of buying these solutions and vetting them and trying to find the right mix, I get to flip over and be in the process of building and selling—these various solutions for and to my peers.” And there’s something uniquely interesting in that. It’s hard to find a good analogy. But it’s really now—I get to take the things I’ve known, loved, and spend a lot of my own effort on—and be inside the business and represent, ultimately, that voice of the of the marketer. Of the CMO. The voice of, “Yeah, that’s all well and good, but that’s not actually how we do it.” Because often times, I’ll be talking with my peers and the product teams and others inside the company. And I’m like, “Well, th-that’s awesome, but I’ve never done it that way.” “I’ve never even talked about it that way.” “What am I missing?” Or, “How can I bring that perspective to the table?”

So, for me, it’s been a terrific opportunity to be really focused on that. Let me tell you my experiences. Let me bring peers and others that I’ve worked with to the table so that we understand what’s actually happening with the marketing leader inside a company. Like most marketing leaders in businesses today are held accountable for driving revenue growth, pipeline growth, all sorts of metrics. Most of them are using a good amount of technology in their departments. Not all of them understand the technology deeply. And th-that’s not a judgment call, that is the fact that the people who become marketing leaders come up through many different paths. Some from the creative side. Or the product side. Or the brand side. Or the technology side. And so not all CMOS have had the opportunity to be deep in technology. But today, they’re often held accountable for the use of the purchase app and the value that’s extracted from that technology. So, one of the things that’s important to me is to be able to make sure that what we build at Acoustic is speaking to the technical as well as the non-technical marketing leader. And that is understandable in its value—to both the technical and the non-technical marketing leader.

RACHEL: So, without giving away kind of th-the “secret family recipe,” if you will, can you talk about what Acoustic is focused on as a business right now and how you’re doing?

NORMAN: Well, that’s the secret recipe is basically mayonnaise and ketchup. And you know that pretty much makes—

RACHEL: So, a secret sauce.

NORMAN: Makes the secret sauce. Every time. Yes, you throw in some relish and you pretty much are 90% of the way there. But for us, it really is around this notion that—we can make the way in which marketing technologies used easier. Focus on a great user experience. We can make the way in which marketing technology interacts with other pieces of the technology stack— be open and be able to accommodate multiple types of data easily. And we sometimes talk about the fact that in some martech stacks—they’ve positioned themselves at the sun. And every other system revolves around it. We like to think of ourselves as sort of a big peer to peer network, rather than the center of the universe. And so, that we can move data in and out freely. We have a lot of great partners that we work with to access valuable data. So, marketers can do what marketers need to do. Where can I get the data? How can I get the data easily into my campaign tool? And how can I act on it? And then how can I see the results?

And so, that’s part of what we’re trying to do. I think another part of our “secret sauce”—if I was sort of sprinkling some seasoned salt in there, which is another great ingredient in any great secret sauce, is that we are really just an entire company focused on this problem. That means we see examples across all of our customers. And we can incorporate that knowledge, and we can bring those best practices back to customers as well. Versus a massive enterprise that’s trying to talk to IT. And marketing. And sales. And procurement. And finance. And HR. We really are—we have a degree of focus that allows us to make it even better. And, you know, for lack again of that, sort of overarching metaphor—but when you do a small number of things really well, you tend to do them really well. And we believe in that philosophy.

RACHEL: I really like that. And it-it’s interesting, right? To kind of just have—one that perspective, and two because you know, seeing that idea of focusing on something wholeheartedly and with intention. And really kind of doubling down on th-that go-to-market strategy. T-to—you know, see yourselves to where you go with, you know, across, you know, the next few years, from a strategic perspective. So, it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. And to hear also that across the board, you see that with your C-suite as well as, you know, other folks that are really bought into the fact that, “We’re just going to do this incredibly well and provide for our customers what they need.” And I think that is part of the piece. Interestingly enough, I sat in I had a podcast that I actually listened to with Carol Meyers, former go-to-market leader over at Rapid7, and one of the pieces she said was just around, “You have to actually think about what your customers want—”

NORMAN: (laughing) Yes—

RACHEL: “And you just deliver it to them.” Right th-that’s pretty much simple. You know, to be a great marketer and to be a great sales leader. You know, meet your customers where they are and deliver them something that adds value.

NORMAN: Exactly right. Be customer-centric. Our CEO is very, very focused on that. Customer first. Listening. As you know the name of Acoustic—the company comes from the science of sound. We focus on listening to our customers. I—just about three weeks ago, we ran our sales and marketing kick off for the year. And my team was responsible for putting it together. And one of the things that we did and I thought was really important was—and of course it was a virtual event, we’re all in work at home mode here. But the very first voice that you heard when we kicked off the sales and marketing kickoff was a customer voice. And we did that intentionally because we want that always to be what our team comes back to. What’s the customer saying?

RACHEL: Awesome. So, we only have a few minutes left but I want to talk through a couple more pieces—just to hear a little bit more about kind of you and your journey. And so, one of the pieces that I think is really interesting when you talked—when we just first kicked this conversation off is, you know, when you look at your past experience, you’ve been on the agency side. You’ve been entrenched in senior leadership positions. I’d be curious where you see some of the biggest differences of working in those respective roles or in those respective environments? And I’d also just be kind of curious to understand if one speaks to your heart more than the other?

NORMAN: Well of course, I’m assuming my boss is going listen to this. So of course, I want to be right where I am right now.

RACHEL: (laughing)

NORMAN: But—it’s an interesting question, Rachel. Because I’ve done this long enough, and enough different types of roles and types of businesses and different environments—that I came to a realization some time ago that I have a good general set of skills. As a business leader. As a marketer. As a strategist. As a technologist. But what’s really appealing to me at this point—and that is first and foremost what I look for is I look for hard challenges in roles. And I it—to me it no longer matters is it an agency role? Is it a startup-like environment? Is it an established business? Is there a big challenge that the business is trying to address? When I came to Acoustic it’s clear—well we’re a carve out which is filled with significant challenges, which we could talk about all day long. Trying to establish a brand in a very crowded space. Trying to build, essentially, just on the momentum of a set of customers.

When I joined Carbonite originally it was how to take this mostly well-known B2C brand and expand it into a B2B player through M&A activity and brand building. So, each time I work in a situation I’m looking for those core challenges. And can I take my experience across all of them and bring it to the table and say, “Okay, here’s how we decompose and recompose to be able to address the challenge.” I try to be as objective as I can, and can I help drive it forward? And can the challenge be addressed in the time, money, resources that my boss—or my boss’s boss—expect? And that’s one of those things where there’s certain things you can’t do. You can do anything if you have enough time and money, but you can’t build a brand overnight if you’re not willing to spend a lot of money. So, if you’re going to spend less money then you have to figure out, “How long will it take?” You can’t build a go-to-market infrastructure overnight. You have to iteratively build it. So, I look for big challenges. I love working in technology, but I also I enjoy the softer—the art side of marketing as well. And I still sneak in writing headlines for things occasionally or subject lines for emails, because I enjoy doing it.

RACHEL: And I know you’ve also worked on both coasts. I know that you’ve been—at least for the last five years, you know, entrenched here in the Boston ecosystem. And I’m a little bit biased, obviously, I’ve been here for six years and I think the Boston tech community is a special one. But I’d be curious to hear your perspective, especially having worked in tech communities across the country and across the globe. What’s special or different about the Boston tech ecosystem?

NORMAN: I mean the ecosystem that’s outside my window that I sort of only seen remotely for the past five months that I’ve been here in my home. So, the newest of the coasts I’m on is the “interior coast” I think. But that aside, when I came to Boston, I realized that it was a different environment than it had been. I was in Seattle immediately prior. I’d also worked in—in the Bay Area and in Silicon Valley before that. And what I found in Boston was it was a smaller, tighter community, for sure. It was—for lack of a better term, it was a little more corporate, in some ways. But I realized that was mostly on the surface and when you dig beneath that’s probably not the case. But there was this appearance of being a little more corporate. And I also found that th-the—what I think of as this sort of wellspring of talent in Boston tends to trace back to a smaller number of places. You get a lot of folks who are exceptionally well-trained, for example, at EMC. Just as one example. So, it’s— there’s a handful of those core technology companies, you know, even further back to a Lotus or other companies that were born and raised here in Boston that have served as a wellspring for talent and leaders. And that has sort of permeated itself throughout the entire community.

And so, it’s always interesting to me to be able to trace back those lineages versus on the west coast. Where, you know, you might have that, you know, Apple or Oracle or Cisco, or, you know, Microsoft or, you know, others in Seattle. I think there’s a longer, deeper history in some way here in Boston. And there’s that lineage that allows you to see people who’ve had perspective across the generations of technology. So, it’s—I think, in Boston, there’s also a little more of the long-term view. Honestly. In the tech community then I’m—we may see on the West Coast. Or certainly there’s some companies, like an Amazon, which takes a long-term view. But I think Boston has more of that built in to it.

RACHEL: When you reflect back on your own inspiration to get into the technology industry, you know, what was kind of the impetus for you and what keeps you excited about the space?

NORMAN: I’ve been in the technology industry a long time. (laughs) And I often think back on had I sort of stumbled into it, but not really. When I first started, I came out of graduate school actually to take an internship or working for a software company long-gone, that a previous graduate of the same graduate program had—was working at. And yet what has appealed to me and ultimately is that I am—I love technology. Because it is something that is, in some ways, so clear that you can see the value that technology can create. And you can control and manipulate that. That’s the beauty of programming. You can take a blank screen and you can make it do something. And if you just keep up—leveling that there is really no problem that in some way or shape you can’t apply thinking around technology to. And that appeals to how I think about the world. I like to think—and certainly, you know, here at home, people know that I like—there’s a tool for every job. There’s a reason a tool exists, and that’s why you use it. And in the technology world, if there is a tool or not, you can go build the tool to get the job done that you want. And that has just always been very appealing to my sense of the universe.

RACHEL: So, when you think about—kind of forward looking, how do you see the rest of 2020 playing out? Are you optimistic? Pessimistic? Somewhere in between? Neither of those things?

NORMAN: Yeah is there a word that’s neither optimism nor pessimism nor, you know, any of the above—I like to think that’s pragmatism. But 2020 has certainly thrown us off for a loop. For those of us that like to sort of try to predict the future, it’s a little bit harder. But the reality is that I actually see the back half of this calendar year as one that is going to continue to capitalize on the difficulties of the moment. And by that, I mean—and I use capitalize very carefully here, I don’t want to mean “take advantage of.” I want to mean—as a business person and a technologist, we have to look at the situations we’re handed. Some of them very difficult. Some of them very disturbing. Some of them very, very fundamentally changing of the landscape. And we have to figure out—what is our role and our responsibility in running a business to be able to take that and use it to push forward?

And the concept, honestly, that that I’ve been using and that I think applies here, when I think about the rest of this year—coming out of the issues with COVID. Coming out of the issues with the social justice movement. Coming out of the issues around politics and the issues to come up ahead. Coming out of macro-economic changes. I believe that businesses and individuals have gone through having their trust—and I used that word very carefully, their trust completely shattered. It’s hard for individuals or businesses to trust anyone or anything very much right now. And the opportunity in the months and years ahead is for businesses, individuals, public institutions, governments, to figure out how to reset, trust, and then rebuild trust. So, I talk about the “trust reset,” as this broad concept that has really been as if a big reset button was pushed on society over the past six-plus months. And trust has dropped down. And now we have to figure out after this trust reset—how do we rebuild it? And I think of that in an optimistic way. I think of it as a chance to establish better practices. As individuals. As businesses. In how we operate. In who we hire. In how we go to market. In how we speak. There’s great opportunity in this trust reset right now.

RACHEL: And if you double click on the business part of it, so much of that comes to the marketer. That ability to tell the story and to really re-instill trust in the customer. And in the consumer. And all of those folks that need to have those pieces of that repaired in order to feel a little bit more of a sense of normalcy after what we have experienced for the latter part of the past six months.

NORMAN: Agree completely. I’m not just self-serving, but the marketer can be and should be on the front line. And I think this is a great opportunity for marketing and for marketers—to take the lead and to be able to speak up and find ways to push companies forward into this new landscape where trust is not simply given, but actually does have to be earned. And businesses have to work hard to earn that. And no matter which domain you think about it in, that’s the opportunity that’s in front of us right now.

RACHEL: Awesome. So, I’ll wrap us on the business-related questions, if you will—

NORMAN: (laughing)

RACHEL: And I want to push us towards—on more of a personal note, and just and kind of hear your thoughts on this. For those that don’t know Norman, personally—I will go ahead and tell everyone that you are a bit of a foodie. And have—

NORMAN: That is true. I’ve already used one food analogy in this sad discussion.

RACHEL: That’s true. And I—you know, knowing Norman personally I know that he also spent a brief period of time as a short order cook. Which makes you exceptional at breakfast foods and burgers and things like that. Which you know, we can all benefit from I—those special skills. But I’d be curious—and knowing kind of what a foodie you are. And I am as well—but curious what your favorite meal in Boston is. So, I’m helping you narrow it down. So, we don’t have to go globally, or across the U.S. or any other city. But talk to me, maybe—and maybe your favorite meal that you’ve had in quarantine, if that helps narrow it down a little bit for you.

NORMAN: Well, you know, it’s interesting, Rachel. Because I do love food and wine and drink—and socializing, which I not been doing in quite some time. And you know, certainly my wife and I have been trying to enjoy the food here in in the south end. And one of the things I found during this quarantine time was two-fold. One, I love to cook and I cook a lot more. And I’ve been doing evermore of it and—I won’t say getting more adventurous, I’ve always been fairly adventurous. But, really just making sure that I can quickly cook a good meal many days of the week. And that’s fairly straightforward.

But the other thing I’ve noticed—has been as we go out and visit lots of restaurants, I’ve actually sort of drifted back towards simpler, in the foods that I’m really enjoying. And, you know, as you asked that question, I flashed back on, you know—just this weekend, we were out eating and I actually had what I considered as near a perfect small meal as possible. Which we were—we’re here at Black Lamb in the south end which I love and I can recommend. And I had half a dozen raw oysters, half a dozen fried oysters and a side of fries. And you know what, that’s about as perfect as you

can get right now.

RACHEL: Especially in the summer when we are so lucky to have some really good oysters from just down the cape or up in Maine. So, I—

NORMAN: That’s right.

RACHEL: I appreciate that recommendation very much. So—

NORMAN: It was good.

RACHEL: (laughing) Awesome. So, Norman, that is all the time that we have today. I want to thank you so much for joining me to share your expertise, but most importantly, to share your story.

NORMAN: My pleasure, terrific to speak with you and dig into these really meaty topics because they’re worth thinking about. Thank you.

RACHEL: Absolutely. Pleasure was all mine. And thank you all for listening today to our episode of Decoding the Journey with The Bowdoin Group. Don’t forget to subscribe and like our podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you stream. And subscribe to our blog at for the latest episodes when they drop.

Do you know an incredible technology C-Suite leader who has a story to tell? Send an email to Jim Urquhart, Rachel Kohn, or Paul Manning if you have a suggestion for our next guest on “Decoding the Journey.”

About The Bowdoin Group

Founded in 1994, The Bowdoin Group is an award-winning executive search firm that specializes in leadership and strategic roles, recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) services, and major hiring projects for a wide range of companies, from small firms building out their executive team to larger firms sourcing talent for rapid market expansion. With deep expertise in BioPharma, Digital Health, FinTech, and Software & Technology, Bowdoin is a national leader with the ability to source talent and service companies globally. The company’s service reputation has earned it a ranking in the top 2% of the recruiting industry for client satisfaction year after year. The Bowdoin Group is also active in supporting the local entrepreneurial ecosystem as well as several non-profit causes, including Life Science CaresNEVCAHack.Diversity, and FinTech Sandbox.