I had a chance to sit down with Matt Hertzfeldt, our very own Chief Experience Officer, on a chilly morning in our Fort Collins headquarters. I had stalked Matt on his Linkedin page, and discovered that he had a wide-ranging toolbox of skills that ultimately led him to his current role.
It was a pleasure to discuss not only his career trajectory, but gain some extremely insightful knowledge about the secret to success. As someone who is faced with tough conversations on a regular basis, there is nobody better to expound on the virtues of positivity, hard work, and a never-surrender mindset than Matt.
I arrived in Matt’s office a bit late because; through all of my research, I neglected to confirm exactly which building his office was located, (needless to say it was not the one where I currently reside.) Small hiccup averted, we sat down in a conference room with a gorgeous live edge table and a backlit Madwire sign softly illuminating the space.
We all knew Matt, but most of us here at Madwire could not articulate what he actually did for the company. What I wanted to get to the bottom of, was what Matt does, who Matt is, and what does CXO stand for anyway?
The common thread that ran through the interview, was value, how to make yourself valuable and how to provide value. Matt truly has a passion for both his team and clients. Matt’s personal philosophy is guided by an innate need to serve, and he has found the ideal setting in which to practice his passion at Madwire.
Ultimately, it is Matt’s unwavering positivity, willingness to serve, and technical expertise that make him a true asset to the organization. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did.
Matt, how long have you been with Madwire?
A little over three years now, it was actually three years on August first.
What initially attracted you to Madwire? Was it the culture, the technology?
It was really just the opportunity to be part of something bigger and something long term. My wife and I moved our family up here, one, because we wanted to live in Fort Collins and we wanted to raise our boys up here, but more specifically, to work at Madwire.
Things have changed quite a bit in those three years. What major changes have you seen?
We have essentially doubled in size since I started. I think I was employee 299. So we have essentially doubled the amount of employees we have in just three years. We have seen pretty significant change structurally as it relates to the way the teams are set up, moving the Senior roles into more traditional, Director-type roles. This has brought on challenges but also lots of growth opportunities there, and of course, the acquisitions of both Silveredge and SpaceCraft.
What would you say that you have done to personally contribute to these changes?
The best way I can summarize it is to say, really, just being humble enough to know that not every idea has to be mine, being able to identify that I am working with really smart people, and being quick to recognize really great ideas and even quicker to go all in on them and support them.
What does a normal day for you, the CXO look like? When you come in on a Monday morning, what do you deal with first? Just give us an overview of your responsibilities, things like that.
My role is primarily a pivot point of communication between clients and our team here. It’s really about identifying processes that are either in place and we can improve or identify areas where we can make things smoother for both our clients and our employees here. So, really I have two sets of clients, external and internal. My job really is to focus on the communication with both sides of that.
Many of us here at Madwire come from diverse backgrounds and experiences. What has your journey looked like to this point?
Well, 15 years of sales and management in customer service focused industries and companies. Out of school, I started with Enterprise Rent-a-Car and worked my way up there. And they were highly customer focused — you can't move up or get promoted in any way, shape, or form without a team focused on customer service at the highest level, so I learned a lot there. And then moved on to Service Magic, which is now Home Advisor. I was fortunate enough to be provided opportunities to run sales teams there; same thing, very customer service focused there as well. And then most recently, working for Stack Overflow, where I was able to build and run the sales team out of the Denver office. I learned a lot about customer service there. It was almost a different mindset there, (the customer service mindset).If you weren't completely satisfied with what we were providing, we gave you a 100% full refund, no questions asked. So it put a lot of pressure on the team to be on point at all times. That being said, the team was fantastic, and I think in the two and a half/three years I was there, we had very few clients request refunds over that time. So a tremendous nod to the team there and the work that they did.
I see that you are an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin. How did you end up in Colorado?
Go Badgers! When I graduated from the University of Wisconsin, I stayed in Madison and got the opportunity to work for Enterprise. I was there for, I think, three and a half years. I really just wanted to move out here for a change of scenery and a healthier lifestyle, that is what got me to Colorado. I was really fortunate to be working for Enterprise at the time and had the opportunity to transfer with the company. So, I went from being a branch manager there and transferred to working at DIA for Enterprise. In retrospect, that was, I would say, a really pivotal moment in my career. Because that was the first time, professionally at least, where I had worked my way up into a pretty high position and was successful, but made the choice to essentially take a demotion. Having to go through that experience and the humility that comes along with that, having to work your way back up — there were a lot of lessons learned through that process.
So do you wear your Denver Broncos Marketing 360® shirt very often?
I do wear it. Let's just say I wear it more frequently than my Green Bay Packer supporting family would want.
Being a somewhat non-traditional company, many of the positions at Madwire have been created out of a specific need and the unique talents of an individual. How would you say your trajectory to CXO was influenced by your past successes? Say a Marketing Consultant has a desire to move into a different role, how would you give them advice on how to do that?
First, the focus always has to be to provide value in your current role. What I have learned throughout my career is, first and foremost, always provide value. In every situation, at every opportunity, every interaction, you have to find a way to provide value. That is going to look different at all times. My dad asked me a question that always stuck with me when I was younger. He asked, “Do you know what you are if you are constantly providing value?” He would say “You are valuable, and people don't get rid of valuable.” So that has been my mindset later on in my career, and that was what really allowed me to have the trajectory here. I came in wanting to work for Madwire and really buying into the concept, the idea, and the mission statement here. It wasn't a short-term play; this is where I wanted to be. So starting out as a Marketing Consultant (my mindset) was, how do I make myself valuable to my clients and my teammates around me, and finding different opportunities for that. That sort of manifests itself when you are constantly looking to be valuable to the people around you. The focus is, how can I set everybody else up around me for success? If I am doing that, then my success takes care of itself;I cannot just have tunnel vision on my own success.
What obstacles, both personally and professionally, have you overcome to get to this point in your career?
I think, very similar to a lot of people, all the decisions you make along the way are made with the information that you have available at the time. Then, it is always a matter of retrospect when you look and see, now that I have different information, what would I have done differently? You can't go back and change that stuff, but you can constantly go back, look at it, and take some inventory based on the information you had, how you made the decision, and what you would do; then start to anticipate situations going forward. I think, more than anything, you learn and grow to have an appreciation for experience. The more experience you gain, the more appreciation you have for that experience. It just allows you to play things out, and things happen slower. You realize you don't have to react to everything that comes up, rather to be someone who responds to it. I think it is just a matter of learning from every decision you make and ultimately realizing that there are really talented and smart people all around you every single day and you don't have to reinvent the wheel.
What aspect of your job do you find the most rewarding? Could be client success, rocket ship growth of Madwire etc…
I think those two things are tied together, quite literally. We don't have the growth that we have as a company if our clients aren't successful on a consistent basis. With that, the most rewarding part of my job is still doing one-on-one coaching. I love doing that with clients on the phone and being able to give them a better perspective on why we do what we do here and how we do things. On the other side of that, with our team here, it is being able to help walk them through a situation and give them a better understanding of how to approach things or how a client might be viewing things. I think I will always be a coach at heart in everything I do, and so anytime I can get into those situations, those are the most rewarding parts of my day.
Personally, what are you the most proud of in your life? Give us a little bit about yourself.
Hands down, I am most proud of the relationship with my wife, my best friend, Meghan. It's built entirely on very open and transparent communication, and it takes a lot of work. Anytime you see couples that have really great relationships, or see great teams, the first thing I think of is how they put a lot of work into their communication. From that, I have learned the importance of that mindset professionally as well. Meghan and I have a concept at home and that is, “Nobody ever died from telling them how you feel.” So we just get things out on the table, and I have brought that into my work life. One of the things I constantly reiterate with the team here, and my main objective, is that I never want them to walk away leaving someone guessing at what I am thinking or how I am feeling. I tell them quite literally. If I am talking to you about it, it’s because it is on my mind. So conversely, If I am not bringing it up with you, it is not an issue. I don't ever want to have anyone guess how I feel about something. To me, that just slows us all down. But then that comes with the responsibility that, if I will say what is on my mind, I also have to allow for you to react to that however you will as well. I can't get mad at you for reacting that way. Through that process with Meghan and the work that we have put in, I have learned that focusing on and working hard to be a better communicator makes me a better teammate.
Work/life balance is an important part of the Madwire culture. How do you manage work-life balance?
I take my cue from our Co-CEO, JB Kellogg, on that. I think he sets the standard on that in a really positive way. When I am here, when I walk through the doors in the morning, Madwire gets everything that I've got, all in, all day long. Every person I work with, every person I talk to, you get my entire focus all day long. Then when I leave, I switch that off. The minute I leave here, my entire 100% focus is on my family.
In keeping with our motto, “Execution excellence is our standard, and our standard is non-negotiable,” what does Execution Excellence mean to you?
Very simple, see work, do work. Don't pass it up; the ball is always in my court. We have actually talked about that in the last couple of strategy sessions and meetings with our Marketing Executives in particular — this mindset that the “ball is in their court.” What came to mind, that phrase, in particular, is that it’s a phrase designated for talking about opponents, not teammates. I grew up playing hockey, so I don't pass you the puck and then just stand there and wait for you to do something with it. I get you the puck and then I have to work really hard to get back in position to give you an outlet for it or give you options or choices so you are successful. So my Execution Excellence is doing everything I can to set you up for success. If I need you to do something, I can either wait and hope that you get it done, or I can do everything that I can to set up as close to an “easy button” for you to get that done. That to me is Execution Excellence, see work, do work constantly.
Each one of us at Madwire takes away something different from the experience. If you had to pick one aspect of Madwire you find the most interesting, what would it be and why?
I would actually say what I love the most and find the most interesting about Madwire is the fact that all of our products and services are dependent on each other to be at their absolute strength. If I am doing content marketing but I don't have channels to distribute that content, then what is the point of the content? And vice versa, I can be running the greatest paid ads, but if I don't back those up with reviews, there is a lot of wasted money from people clicking on ads when the next thing they are going to be looking for are reviews — the interconnectivity of SEO and paid ads and what that looks like. One of the things I tell everybody when we do boot camp training for new employees is, all the products and services that we provide here are necessary for a business owner. They are not “nice to have” and all that, or “I will get around to adding that.” They all have to be accounted for by a successful business owner. The choice that they have is whether they choose to do that themselves, have some other provider or vendor do it for them, or they have us do it. That is the choice. The choice isn't ‘don't do the work’, there is no escaping the work in anything that we do. So in order for a business to be really successful, they have to account for every product and service that we offer. All of our products and services support and strengthen each other. If there is a weak spot in one area, it affects all the others.
We enjoy a very dynamic culture here at Madwire. What would you say is your favorite part of our unique team?
What I love more than any other company I have been with, and I have been fortunate enough to work for really good companies, which has been awesome, is that all the teams are effectively mini-Madwires, and they are given that leeway. You are given the opportunity to be an entrepreneur at your desk. We give you all the tools and all the resources, and then it is really up to you. What do you want to do with that? We are only really limited by what we can think of.
At Madwire, we like to have fun, and that means taking time off for a vacation. What has been one of your most memorable vacations so far?
Hands down, Cape Cod. Last summer, we took the boys. I have twin four-year-old boys and got them out there for the first time. It’s just fantastic; spending a week on Cape Cod, life just slows down. It's fantastic. Everything is an entirely different pace out there for that week.
Finally, being the CXO must be an incredibly demanding job. How do you like to blow off steam when you have the chance?
I still play men’s league hockey and pond hockey when I get a chance.
Do you play for the Madwire team?
I did, but I finally retired this year. The first thing I do when I get home is I have to strap on goalie pads and play goalie for my two boys in the basement. I have a replica Stanley Cup, and the boys play against each other every single night. When I am not doing that on the weekends, I do a lot of mountain biking and a lot of snowboarding. And those are really my two passions out here as it relates to Colorado life.