Execution Eats Strategy for Breakfast

with Smit Patel,

Head of Partnerships, Postman

In this episode, Pete is joined by Postman’s head of partnerships, Smit Patel. Together they give an inside look on exactly how Postman goes about navigating the challenges of being a hypergrowth company and the rewards you can reap from.
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Key topics in today’s conversation include:

  • Smit’s background and career journey (1:08)
  • The Postman journey (9:22)
  • Defining “partnerships” (17:17)
  • The biggest challenge in the last six months (21:00)
  • Practical tips for hypergrowth leaders (23:43)
  • Smit’s favorite leadership moment (27:20)
  • Advice for aspiring hypergrowth leaders (33:40)


The SaaS(ramp) Podcast explores how tech leaders scale from product adoption to enterprise success. Learn more at www.saasrampmedia.com.


Pete Thornton 0:00
All right. Welcome back, everyone. This is the SaaS(ramp) Podcast, and I’m your host podcast Pete, awesome guests with me today. Colleague right now at Postman, this is Smit Patel, head of partnerships at Postman. Welcome to the show, Smit.

Smit Patel 0:20
Thanks for having me, Pete. I’m excited.

Pete Thornton 0:22
I’m glad you came on. It’s kind of like partnerships week here as it actually turns out. And it’s been a, it’s been a fun go, mostly leaning on like colleagues and just wanting to understand what partnerships means for each place. But before we go dive in deep on all the partnerships related love to know more about you are head of partnerships at Postman. So a lot of people would love to be in your chair right now. How did you get here? What’s the personal and professional growth path?

Smit Patel 0:49
Yeah, that’s a good question. It’s a very interesting story. I actually don’t know if you remember, I shared this at one of our company, kickoffs, I think it’s very relevant to share here as well, because you never know, you know, when you’re a personal and professional, you know, paths converge together age. So, back when I was, you know, starting up my career, and I was actually in college, I had a blog, I still have a blog, Smith patel.com. And I was working at interesting companies at that point, like HubSpot, and, you know, companies in the Bay Area. And, you know, I would write about my learnings and shared with the world. So, you know, folks who were in my shoes could also learn, and, you know, one of my blog readers from India, actually, his name is Sue the, I will give him a shout out here, he actually ended up reaching out to me, and, you know, we got on a call, and we ended up just chatting, and, you know, I shared my learnings with him. And, you know, he was obviously super grateful to have, you know, that call with me, and we stayed in touch became friends. And then next thing, you know, he moved to the Bay Area, he also had a phenomenal run with his professional journey. And then one day, we were just catching up after my last job that I had a data dog where I was there for about four years. And, you know, you’re just chatting here, what do you think you’re doing next? And he said, Hey, you should talk to this company called Postman in another CEO Arb, and, you know, they’re just doing amazing. And I think that’s like, the next data docs, and you should go talk to them. So that’s how I got introduced to Alberto. And, you know, I will say this, this is something that I, you know, I’m a big proponent of is, you know, you can get the introduction, but you still have to, you know, figure out how you get your foot in the door. So, when I spoke with Alberto, you know, while there was got along really well, but there was no open role for me at the time. So I was very impressed with have enough, I, you know, I thought this is the leader that I want to work for next. And this is the company that has the signs of becoming the next big thing. So what I did is actually created a rule for myself, right, I pitched a chief of staff role to Abu Dhabi, and I said, Hey, look, I have all this, go to market experience that I can help you with that, you know, I think you could use based on what you’ve shared with me about the company so far. And I actually made a whole presentation that he wasn’t expecting, I just showed up, right? There’s this famous thing or insurer bearing gifts, so I just showed up, and I told him, this is all the areas I can help you with. And that’s how I ended up being a Postman. And then, obviously, you know, a pre-Ed, my previous company at data dog, I was the first partnerships hire, so I helped shape the partner strategy. So I always had the partnership experience, when needed. And, you know, organically, you know, over the last three years, I worked on several different initiatives for the company and for our CEO, and then ended up becoming the head of partnerships because the timing was right to actually start a partner program. And as we started to grow as a company, and so it was just a natural fit.

Pete Thornton 3:52
That’s very cool. All the way back to like the, I guess it was the one-two punch of like, having something interesting going on, because you were at HubSpot again, you know, data dog, these are good places to bait This is not like, I mean, I don’t know, you weren’t doing an hourly wage job somewhere. And like just trying to make the thing swing after college like these are good places to be. So you’re in a good location. But the sharing piece, like you took time out of like what would otherwise be a busy day, or busy social calendar afterward, even if it wasn’t a busy day when you were younger, and then, you know, shared it out to the world and somebody kind of picked it up. And like you got that little snowball effect out of it. Is that something you recommend to others, like who are at in I don’t know, early in the career, any point in their career like you have a thought process around that?

Smit Patel 4:41
Yeah, I think anyone should be sharing great because ultimately, you know, I think there’s always someone out there who could You could read or you know, hear a podcast like this one and get value out of it. You know, I like to think that even if you’re getting the impact one person that still is adding value to someone in the world. So, you know, there’s no age, you know, there’s no time for it. Candidly, I could be doing a lot more than I used to before. But you know, we, as you know, we’re at a very high growth company right now. And you know, there’s only limited time in the day to, you know, to carve out time for writing and podcasting, but I tried to do the best I can. And I think, yeah, everyone should be doing it. Because, you know, that’s also a great way for you to network as well, right? Because, as I said, like, someone might read your blog, or might, you know, listen to your podcast and reach out to you, and who knows what it could turn into, you know, you and I’m a big fan of connecting the dots because it’s never a straight line ever. Right? As I said earlier, like how I ended up becoming a head of partnerships. And Postman it wasn’t like a straight line, it just, you know, it’s a dotted journey.

Pete Thornton 5:50
So that’s, yeah, totally interesting. I do find that it helps me like consolidate my ideas and my thoughts from like, the work day, if in the early mornings, or the later evenings or the weekends, or whatever it is, like, there’s a podcast and like somebody sharing something, and it’s like, putting it together in my head, because you’re hearing from other organizations doing similar things, or trying to, and like, I do find it helpful in that way. When you came to Arb and off, and I don’t know, if we said, I’m a co-founder, CEO of Postman, so like, just so anybody listening, like not like, you know, listening to a private story here, you came, like bearing gifts. So whenever I tell people that I’m close with him, I had this idea. Yeah, we’re doing like this. And they’re like, Oh, you shouldn’t tell anybody that, you know, like, that’s like, Oh, I’m like, Look, it’s not, it’s like, it might be like proprietary in a way, like the way you do something or handle something, but I don’t ever feel like it’s like, I don’t feel like the hard part is in doing it. operationalizing the idea in any of these cases, anyway. So any thoughts around just going in and saying like, hey, Avanade, like, here’s all this gold, I think I have, like, you can take it, I would love this Chief of Staff job, like I’m being creative here and trying to add value to you. But like, any general thoughts on that, and you just try to give away the farm? Or do you try to hold something back? Just so that, you have something in your clutches? If that question even makes sense, would love to know.

Smit Patel 7:11
Yeah, I think it makes sense. You know, you obviously, when you have these kinds of discussions, or you’re, you know, giving someone an idea or suggestion, you know, I think most people, you know, don’t realize that you also have to execute, right? So I could tell you, Hey, Pete, this is how you build a partner program. But you still need to have the skills and you need to have that hustle. And you know, you need to have that ability to execute, right? I mean, there’s a reason why, you know, not every sports player is as successful. I mean, one could argue that most of them work the same way. They train the same way. But they’re not all on the same level. Right? It’s the same applies to any career. So yeah, I’m a fan of not really holding back much. And also, you know, you’re not literally getting into the nitty gritty, right, you can say, Okay, I, I will launch. eXe program, but there’s so many, you know, minor sub-steps that you have to take in order to launch an initiative or to grow an initiative, which you’re not, you know, which you don’t know until you done it. So, you know, it’s always much harder than it looks on surface. And that’s where, you know, that’s where I think that journey comes in, when someone looks at someone like, let’s say, you know, Hey, Pete, I’m trying to build an enablement team, and they look at your journey. The reason why they want to talk to you is because they’ve seen that you build something from zero to one, and you understand what that journey looks like. And it’s, it’s tough. But you know, I always like to say that there are people who are really good at that zero to one stage. And there are people who are really good at that one-to-scale stage. And very rarely Can you, you know, flip the folks around, and like very rarely.

Pete Thornton 8:52
Oh, my gosh, this has nothing to do with any themes we even discussed. But like, anything more to say on that. And the reason why for context for anybody, you know, listening now listening later, like this, Postman journey has gone. Let’s tell him about the Postman journey. Well, you impact the Postman journey, and then maybe you can say, how many phases of growth? Have you been a part of here as you could even, like mentally break it down?

Smit Patel 9:17
Yeah, I mean, it’s a tough one to really, you know, sum it up. But I’ve been here for three years. And, you know, we’ve doubled year over year, basically. And today, we are at 20 million developers using the platform, half a million companies in the world using it in some shape or form. And, you know, when I arrived here, you know, we obviously, a lot of adoption from developers, but since then we’ve also, you know, established an enterprise adoption, we, you know, established and enterprise motion, which is starting to see a lot of success. And, you know, we are a full-blown API platform today when I arrived, you know, most people would really see Postman as a REST client or less, and now it’s become a full-blown API. platform that people can use to, you know, do various parts of the API lifecycle. So, you know, I think, just looking at from the founders perspective, you know, the story that all of us have heard it start as a Chrome extension, and then going from a Chrome extension to now becoming a unicorn. I mean, the journey is incredible. And I’ve, you know, I’ve personally met folks here, and even at my last company, and you in companies like HubSpot, you know, who’ve been part of that journey early on, and who were, brought on later during a scale phase? And it requires a very different mindset, right? When you’re starting something in that zero to one phase, you basically have to be very, very resourceful and you need to have solid decision-making of, okay, where am I gonna prioritize? And you don’t know how to do that unless you’ve done it before. It’s not something that you can just teach someone. You have to go through that journey because let’s say today we have six, 700 employees. Imagine having a 100 and still needing to execute. So you really need to know where you need to invest your time and your energy. What will ultimately move the needle? There’s this really funny saying, right? Execution eats strategy for breakfast. That’s the truth. You can have a lot of planning, planning, planning, but if you don’t execute, then the company doesn’t succeed and you don’t hit your goals. Or maybe your fundraising goals, you don’t hit your next goals that can ultimately lead you to an exit and, and, you know, so on. So, yeah, it’s definitely a very different mindset.

Pete Thornton 11:42
Okay, so I’m really interested in like, I don’t know how many we’ve been through here. So coming up on two years for me three years for yourself. So in that doubling year, over a year, like, I don’t know, if it’s every six months, every year, like like, it’d be easier to put into an infographic if it was every year, like, just keep it at that. So like you have like this scaling to zero to one, you mentioned being resourceful prioritizing, maybe there was like a phase where you’re trying to reach some form of like, maturity on the one like pulling together the loose ends from all the, all the messiness of just launching something. And then just the sheer scale afterwards, because we’re talking like doubling revenue, doubling headcount, the product, this product updates for coming weekly, when I first got here, they were just flying out weekly. And so now there’s a nice consolidated version 10 v 10. Launch, you know, initiating in a few weeks. So definitely a different phase, we’re reaching. So interesting.

Smit Patel 12:36
Yeah, it’s a good, you know, I think, based on that example, right, you also see, you know, more focus as well, as you grow, right? Because you don’t also, when you have a lot more team members, you have a lot more teams, you also want to always consistently share what the focus is. So you know, our focus is, hey, we want to be an API platform. We want to establish this API first world. And, you know, as you know, that the speed, right, we also, in our all hands always share the metrics that are really important for us as a business, right? And those metrics help all of us align on the same page. You know, you could argue that, you know, we can measure a lot of different metrics. But if everyone was looking at different metrics, then we wouldn’t really know what’s the singular mission, right? So even, you know, things, something as small as Hey, what’s, you know, what’s the monthly active user count, right? Or a weekly active user count, things like that? Because as a product, lead business, if we don’t measure those things, then it’s not going to lead to revenue, because, you know, our product needs to be solid in order to get that revenue.

Pete Thornton 13:44
Yeah, I love it. You say a couple things. It’s like, it’s like, execution eats strategy for breakfast. Going back to that one. That’s just I love that when if you asked anybody at the companies have been at it’s like, it’s like, they’re like, We don’t have the perfect idea yet. I’m like, I’m going to take the last idea that was that y’all thought was dumb. And I’m gonna go do it. And like, can we talk in 90 days? And tell me where you’re at? I’ll tell you where. And like, that’s my thing. I’m like, just like, it was more of a business development thing way back. It’s like, I’m just gonna hit.

Smit Patel 14:13
That is an incredible, incredible challenge for a lot of folks is just getting in that mindset of, okay, let me just go and do it. Right. Anytime you’re starting anything. It could be building a product, it could be building partner program could be building an enablement program. I think a lot of times people don’t realize that easiest thing you can do is actually go and do things. So you collect the data points of what’s working and what’s not working. Like yeah, if you sit in your corner, and you’re just going to strategize all day, you know, you don’t know if that’s gonna work or not. It could, maybe it will, but there’s also a high chance it won’t. So, you know, how do you de-risk yourself is by actually going out and executing and starting to get those early data points. You know, if or beat? You know, as you said, like, if you’re a business development person, how are you going to know if your product is, you know, is good. Or if your pitches go to if your messaging is good if you don’t go on, you know, phone calls and test it out in the field, or, you know, if you’re building a product, if you don’t talk to customers, or users, how do you know what, what’s the next thing we should be building? You can’t have your grand vision and say, this is where, you know, we should be going, if that doesn’t meet the expectations of the customers, because then you know, you have a product that you love, but the customers will love that.

Pete Thornton 15:33
I love it. Yeah, I love it. It’s a, it’s a fantastic point. It’s like one of my favorite things. So that’s why the foray to the side, I like the it’s the software model a little bit. It’s just like, it’s like, every time we get a little, we get a little product update, that is actually telling you like we released it before it was ready. And it’s a product update. Oh, we got a product update. Yeah, but what it really is, is like them fixing whatever was broken when they told you to go ahead and spend your $1,400 on the phone with the software. So like, I’m kind of like, I’m just a fan of it. I think it’s I think is really cool. So good. Good point, bringing that up. And then the other one, I’ll just mention this, these are things like little quotable bites, and it’s just like, share the focus, share the priority metrics. So like, just on the summary of that just coming back into like we do have a regular all-hands call, we push these things out, which means talking about is Postman does a great job of like making sure we know at all times, like what is the Northstar we’re headed towards because it changes because we grow so quickly. And then they do a great job of, of sharing, I will have to admit to you that I do excitedly wait for our CFO Yonten to step up there because I’d like to see the graphs that he shows us. They’re, they’re simple, and they’re pretty. And they seem to go at 45-degree angle at all times. So that’s not always the case. So that’s, we’re happy about that. Okay, so let’s move into some partnership round. This term, like I feel for you on this one, like this term is like enablement. Like, it just means so many different things. So as far as a title goes, we’re only in a vague ballpark by the time you say it. So head of your leading partnerships might involve somebody outside of the Postman organization itself. And that’s literally all we know, at this point. So would you unpack for us like what partnerships is? And then what it is at Postman?

Smit Patel 17:15
Yeah, absolutely. It’s, you know, as you rightly said, it’s a loose term because there are so many different flavors of partnerships. And so you know, you have your traditional models, like reseller partnership, where referral partnership or affiliate partners, typically, you know, we call them channel partnerships. And then your, you know, more old school terms like OEMs, and things like that. But then, you know, as you’re looking at companies like Postman and data, dog and Atlassian, right, more modern software companies, partnerships, typically is focused on product. So you know, anything that can make the product and the user experience better. That’s what the focus is for us here at Postman and my team is, you know, we want to focus on a couple of things. One is integrating with tools that are in the developer ecosystem that will help you know our joint users get better user experience. And obviously, their goal is to ultimately lead to better adoption and retention. And, you know, as a product, lead growth company, your core, your core focus is to make sure the product is good because the revenue is the byproduct of a good user experience and product experience. So for us it here, we have a couple of teams under my work. First Team is the ecosystem partner team that’s focused on integrations in the space with developer tools. And then the second team is focused on our API network. So we have, as you know, it’s a marketplace of API’s. Where, you know, it’s the world’s largest collection of public API’s. So the team is focused on recruiting and onboarding partners. So any company that has a public API, say DoorDash, or Pinterest, anyone who has an API can join, and that’s what the second team support. So overall, you know, our mission is to make it really easy for anyone in the world to build API’s and consume API. So the integration, ecosystem squad helps folks to build integrations that will help make that API platform better. And then they up a network team helps other API providers get visibility through to our users.

Pete Thornton 19:29
Nice. Okay, that’s well said that’s like simply put, and it’s a good differentiator between like a lot of the partnerships, just colleagues that I have, when you ask what they do and how that seems to work and things like that. Helpful. Like, is there a so if we call it like channel? Would there be like, is it technology like technology partnership? Like is there any over-like, broad term that you’d give it? Or is what price?

Smit Patel 19:52
Yeah, I would say that technology, partnership technology alliances, you know, ISV partnerships. Yeah, those would probably fall into this category.

Pete Thornton 20:02
Okay, makes sense. And I was so rude that the slack is just railing off. If anybody, if everybody is watching this and heard that little nod brush, it wasn’t yours. It was mine.

Smit Patel 20:13
No, I didn’t hear anything.

Pete Thornton 20:14
Oh, that’s right. We’re coming to the mic. Hey, good podcast. And there we go. It is SaaS(ramp) Podcast after also, like, if they hear slack, they’re like, I just want to give it.

Smit Patel 20:21
Hey, If this slack wasn’t going, going on, that means you’re not at a hypergrowth company.

Pete Thornton 20:28
Just put up a Slack channel for that, it’d be fine to say Hello, in this slack channel here. Okay. Why don’t we just touch briefly on like, is there like, maybe I don’t almost don’t want to ask this TOS is like a whole nother rabbit hole. So it will be brief, but like, challenge with hypergrowth as it relates to your role at Postman like, what it may be just one thing, if you can think of it like a major challenge, say in the last six months with hypergrowth, in general, could be any realm you want.

Smit Patel 21:00
Yeah, I would say the biggest thing is people, right? Hiring really amazing folks, as you’re growing, but also want to have a high caliber and a high bar for hiring. Because, you know, as you can imagine, it’s a catch-22 situation, because you also want to hire, you know, a lot of people or you want to hire quickly. But then you also want to have quality folks who will understand your vision, you understand the company’s vision and can execute at the same pace, are you going back to our conversation earlier, it’s very, it’s very different. When you execute at a company that’s in a hypergrowth stage versus at a large company, I’ve seen it consistently where, you know, folks come from larger companies, obviously, you know, this is not any fault of theirs, you know, they’re used to a certain culture. And when they come to a hypergrowth company, that obviously, the expectations are very different, because you’re executing very fast very rapidly, because you want to have an iterative process, right, as a company, our culture has always been, hey, we test out something, we see how it’s working, we iterate on it really quickly, and then scale, right? Because that allows us to put the resources in the right place, we can’t just go you know, all out from, you know, guns blazing from day one, we have to be very cautious, and, you know, very pragmatic where we invest over time. So that mindset is really hard to find when it comes to hiring. And, you know, obviously, as we knew, you know, last couple of years, had been some of the most, you know, toughest times when it came to hiring.

Pete Thornton 22:32
Yeah, yes, the marketplace. Yeah, like being what it was, and trying to get good people for, for everybody. Yeah, they call it the great resignation. But it felt like just kind of a reshuffle, like they dry wit quit, they just move get round. So a lot of hiring, a lot of onboarding, big spike, big inflation. So you’re having those kinds of salaries and FTEs that you’re having to think about. So do you have any, any tips on this point, this is a little off-grid as well. But when you bring somebody in from a larger corporation, like, like, I’m thinking of like Tableau, for example, because it’s great technology organization, but they’ve definitely made it even acquired by Salesforce, like somebody who’s coming in from that environment at this point. And they’re so into Postman, they know about it. They know API lifecycle management platform, like their fan, they sit every piece of criteria, what do you in the first 30 days when they start blinking and being like, Hey, can I have this resource, this resource, this resource, when they’re asking for things that are not yet developed? Have any, like practical tips for other leadership on like, how to handle these things in a hypergrowth org?

Smit Patel 23:39
Yeah, it’s, I mean, it’s always tricky, right? So one thing, one thing, you know, I would say, you know, just kind of helps me level set a lot of times when even our folks and you know, their onboarding is really focusing on getting that first small bin because that gets them in that mindset of execution. And it indirectly helps them understand that this is the culture that you are going to be part of, you have to deliver, you have to focus on outcomes doesn’t matter, you know, I’m not expecting you to go and deliver, you know, the most amazing thing or the, you know, biggest thing that’s gonna move the needle in the first 30 days, but it has to be something that you deliver, so that you get your first taste of a Lin of an outcome. And we always like to think that, you know, the best motivation is winning. Like if you’re winning, you want to win more. But if you’re not winning, then you know, that’s how folks become demotivated. So, I always try to encourage folks who like, hey, and you know, as a leader, I’m always encouraging, letting the person propose things and coming up with a plan of their own, so I always will put it on them that hey, just figure out what’s the first thing you want to tackle in your first 30 days that you will execute on as the first one and let them decide what it is and that also forces them to Think right? Because first you’re putting the seed in their head that, hey, I better start delivering, because that’s how the company operates. And to me, you have to get creative, you kind of really get in that mindset of, okay, what’s my top priorities? Because I’ve seen folks do it really well, where they’re quickly understand, Okay, well, if I have to deliver something, the first 30 days, doesn’t matter how big or small, then there shouldn’t be my priorities right for the next 30 days. So it helps them basically self-manage.

Pete Thornton 25:28
I do really like the like, the two pieces of it one is like the time to because we call it enablement, time to job done, because the job done varies from team to team to team, but like, what can we do to get you to that first, like, MVP, like the minimally viable product of your job, actually, so that you can just turn around and scale it again, like software, iterative process. And then the other thing is the little bit of itself selection, because like when you hire like smart people that are in this particular niche that you’re probably trying to work out, like, it’s really helpful to have them like, well, here’s the challenge, like, how would you solve that like, interesting, interesting dynamic there, and maybe like a little bit of training on like, this is probably how this is going to work. Like, there might not be a mandate that you’re here to scale yet, you might be creating the process yourself. So like actually giving them that and in opening days, those are, those are two excellent tips, I find that one thing I have is basically like when they bring up I’m like, that’s an excellent question. Do you think you could create that? Because like, because there are these different departments that we may or may not have at the time? And it’s like, is it in your skill set to actually pull that together as well not to overburden you? But like, is that your first project? Or is that what you’re kind of telling me? Just unpack it a little bit when we’re asking for the various resources? And so we can get down to, to the bottom line of like, what, what can we control? Versus what should we be asking for a building over the course of time? Super cool tips there. Okay, let’s save it on vision for scaling. Let me move over here. Let me like asking you, just to see if like, what would be a favorite leadership moment, then leading a team for its for the period of time at this point? There are highs and lows to it, like you’ve already mentioned, some hiring-type things? So what would be a favorite maybe in the last three years of Postman?

Smit Patel 27:16
Yeah, it has to do with people again, right is the best moments are when you’re, you’re able to hire solid folks, you know, a players who are passionate about what they’re doing. And then also as a leader, being able to, you know, marry that with the right opportunities for them, whether it’s through a promotion, or the right initiative, you know, I always tried to be ahead, you know, I always am like six to eight months ahead. Before I even know what that person’s doing, or wants to do in the next six to eight months, I always tried to have those conversations and an open dialogue. So they already know what they’re going to work towards in the next promotion cycle, or, you know, what their next role is going to be in a lot of cases, you know, there’s no such surprises when let’s say their one year mark comes up or their mid-year comes up, they already know how they’re doing. So as a leader, I think that’s the best is when you’re able to hire really good folks retaining them as well, right? Because you have to, you know, as I mentioned, in the last couple years, it was, there was this great reshuffle going around. So how do you retain people, you retain people by obviously providing a good, you know, team culture and, you know, providing them with, you know, solid company to work for, but also giving them the right opportunities and initiatives, right, because I always tell them, you know, everyone on the team that you can go work anywhere, right? I mean, all of you are incredibly talented. But the reason why you’re here is because you’re working on something that you’re enjoying, at, or something you’re passionate about. And, you know, the best people, they enjoy solving a problem, right? They could go work in a nine to five anywhere, but if you give them a big hairy problem, then motivates them. That’s that’s what really unlocks their, you know, creative juices that really unlocks, you know, their motivation to continue working and, you know, to deliver, you know, and that’s, that’s as a leader, that’s the best thing because I always like to think that as a leader, my job is to hire really amazing people, trust them, give them a little bit of guidance, but get out of their way. Only, you know, your job as a leader is to unblock them when they are stuck on that path.

Pete Thornton 29:24
Is there any particular time or like that outcome has like happened from one of your folks, and you’re just like, oh, and you’re like, Oh, I get like, like, you got some fruition like it, like something came about from like, the end of a long cycle of projects or anything, like any particular person get on-boarded to the API network or something through one of your people. And you’re like, like, did you have a proud dad moment or anything?

Smit Patel 29:46
Yeah, I mean, I have it all the time. Because, you know, the way that I, you know, manage the team is I give them a lot of ownership. So, you know, I really sit down, we’ll figure out what our roadmap is for the Order or for the year. But then, you know, I also give them a lot of room to come up with their own plan. So let’s say, you know, even for the FBI network, when we started there, yeah, we had the goal that, hey, we want to build a program that would allow, you know, allow us to recruit interesting companies on the PA network. But, you know, that was the goal. But then I let the team propose what the plan is, I had some bare bones, but I don’t, you know, I don’t give the ideas from day one, I let them sort of come up with a plan. And then I marry that with what they have in mind. So they have ownership, they feel like, Yes, I created this. And then I’ll you know, and a lot of times, they will surprise you as well, right? Because they could already be thinking what you’re thinking or something even better. So that’s, you know, that’s the best part, right? Is when you have when people feel like, Yes, I have ownership of this project, or this program, or this initiative, they will do an amazing job of just coming up with, you know, the full plan. And, you know, you basically have to say, yeah, yeah, this looks good. Or, you know, this is where I would change a few things. And, you know, let’s go execute it. Let me know, I can help. And that’s how it is, that’s really the secret.

Pete Thornton 31:07
Okay, cool, like this solid intrapreneurship at that point.

Smit Patel 31:10
Yeah, I’m a fan of that because you at a company like Postman or any hypergrowth company, you cannot, you cannot have the model of, you know, being told every little thing that you’re doing. I mentioned the team about Jira, right, as an example. Like, if you’re just talking about, you know, I solved X amount of JIRA tickets today, where I, you know, I did X amount of, you know, task management tasks. That’s, you know, that’s not really, you know, going to motivate anyone, right? It doesn’t matter, like we shouldn’t be talking about that we should be talking about what was the outcome that you drove, so I, you know, I don’t care about your process, I don’t care about, you know, how you’re going about it, as long as the outcome is the focus, right? Because everyone has a million different ways to go towards the same dirt.

Pete Thornton 31:58
I’m just picturing a bunch of people coming into your org and being like, okay, so I have this idea here, and like, pitching you a PowerPoint, and then at the end, like, I would like to be your chief of staff, and you’re like, oh, like you like, circle and stuff. It’s basically what you’re looking for. Same thing as an office looking for whenever he spoke to him?

Smit Patel 32:17
Yeah. Well, you never know. It’s, you know, folks, always pitch ideas. And, you know, I think it’s, it’s our job as leaders to encourage them, sometimes you, you know, you have to, you know, push back a little bit in the sense that you have to kind of, you know, because you have to tell it, hey, you know, just let’s, let’s wait for this one, let’s we can do this the next quarter because there’s always amazing ideas. But it’s never, you know, I always, it’s a good problem to have, you know, I always run, the team has a lot of ideas, or they have a lot of amazing things going on. Right? Those are Ferrari problems, right? You want those problems you don’t want, you know, you don’t want to have a team where, you know, you’re worried about things happening. You want a team that’s just, you know, going above and beyond and firing on all engines.

Pete Thornton 33:01
Yeah, yeah, totally. I like that term Ferrari problems as well. Okay, then let’s, let’s finish it on this one. Because, I mean, because I’m skipping stuff, too. But we took like fun rabbit holes, I can’t help it. This is for me really like this, I get to do what I want. This is my conversation, like, so I got to take it take me down some of these other ones to get these great insights. This one’s a little more personal, but it would help other people in their careers. And so like, let’s kind of like loop it all the way back 10 years ago, like knowing what you know, today, like what would you have told yourself like, personally, professionally, whatever, 10 years ago, to calm your nerves to accelerate your growth and progress, like anything happens to be whatever comes to mind?

Smit Patel 33:39
Yeah, I would say just identify what you’re really good at, early on. Having self-awareness, because it’s, I had those moments, relatively early, but I feel if I had it even earlier, I would have probably saved a couple years, maybe, you know, of doing roles, that were actually more aligned with what I’m doing right now as an example. So, you know, I learned that every opportunity I had and every role I had, but I think the earlier you can figure that out. It’s really important because then, you know, by the time you’re, you know, let’s say you’re eight years, 10 years into your career, you’re gonna be you know, the best, right? I don’t like doing something if I’m not going to be amazing or the best at it. So if you know like, what’s your you know, and there’s no such thing in my opinion that as passion I think there is a thing that okay, I enjoy doing this, you enjoy doing something and that’s what you want to figure out like I enjoy doing, you know, partnerships, or I enjoy you know, building software or you know, I enjoy doing enablement, if you figure out what you enjoy doing, the passion comes later, right because I had moments where I figured out okay, I enjoy doing, you know, partnerships or business development or go to market. And then the passion came when you started with meaning when you start doing really amazing things and, you know, you start getting big, big wins under your belt, then it really, you know, you get excited about like, tomorrow or your next opportunity. So that’s that would be my advice to you.

Pete Thornton 35:13
Okay. Yeah, like grab something, at least where there’s curiosity, and then take that. Yeah, energy take you on to some wins, some victories.

Smit Patel 35:21
Yeah. Because he, I mean, you’re you don’t know where you’re gonna go, right? I mean, if you asked me 10 years ago, I wouldn’t, I would remotely not be able to tell you that I would be in the role I’m at Postman or in the position I’m in because you don’t know what 10 years from now looks like. And just I would say, the second piece of that would also be, you know, you don’t know what’s going to happen 10 years from now, I, you know, I used to when I was early in my career, I had heard this advice from other traders, you know, write down your goals, like, you know, figure out where you want to go, you know, three years, five years, 10 years from now, I tried that. And the reality is, I actually ended up becoming in a much better positions. And they were completely different than what I would have imagined. Because if you just do your current role and your current, you know, job really, really well, and you keep, you know, going at it, you will be in much better positions. And you can even imagine, like, people have a lot more potential than they realize a lot of times.

Pete Thornton 36:20
I like that. Okay, very, very cool. All right, one more place then with this one, because it’s like, it’s like what you are good at. So some people are big on like, what’s your, what is your weakness? Can we improve that a little bit and stuff like that? It sounds like you’re just like, hey, what’s your work? What are you good at? Can you triple down on it? Is that more of the approach that you would kind of like pitch to yourself 10 years ago?

Smit Patel 36:44
Yeah, absolutely. And just, you know, and just be okay with the fact that, yes, you know, this is my strength. A lot of times when you’re starting out, there’s also like, Hey, you should go learn this, you should go learn this, you should go learn this. But I do like the concept of being T-shaped, where you have your one specific vertical, that you’re really, really good at. And then you know, you have things that you have a little bit of expertise in. So like as an example, I mean, you know, I live in brief partnerships and product lead growth and SaaS all day, like, that’s my expertise or developer tools. But then I also have other like skill sets that I learned over a period of time, because they are helpful to any career, like say, copywriting, you know, which I learned because I was at HubSpot, you know, writing helps you in any career communication helps you in any career, so, things like that you should still continue working on.

Pete Thornton 37:38
Nice, okay. And they it’s like cool because they can kind of relate in, like you can have like something to put them against at that point, like he might write copy for something that has to do with like, the partnership initiative, there’s like.

Smit Patel 37:48
Yeah, exactly. I, you know, I don’t have to rely a lot on, you know, on, let’s say, marketing, we’re over editorial team, of course, I, you know, send them the final drafts, but a lot of times, because I build those skill sets, I will write the first draft, or I will write that email or a copy. And, you know, I’m pretty confident that this looks good enough that I, you know, that it just needs one edit, let’s say from the editorial team, but if I didn’t have those skills, then you know, you’re adding more complexity and more rounds of iteration and whatnot.

Pete Thornton 38:18
More JIRA tickets. Smit, totally enjoyed it. Really, really a pleasure. I don’t think we’ve really gotten to do this since like, almost like my second week on the job or something when I pinged you like, hey, let’s chat with see what’s going on or something. And then, of course, from the presentations from time to time, which are always well done. So back in April in La Jolla got to see that presentation you go. But anyway, big banks appreciate you participating in being on and, man, let’s go see if we can cross into some crazy, more doubles in ARR and hit count here at Postman.

Smit Patel 38:53
Yeah, I’m excited. I always amazing to work with folks like yourself, and yeah, looking forward to sharing this journey. More and more.

Pete Thornton 39:01
Awesome. Well, thanks again. Talk soon.

Smit Patel 39:04
Yeah, thank you.