Fear Journey: I am leaning in with Robin Daniels

As the fear journey continues, Kyle Lacy, SVP of Marketing at Seismic, continues to uncover what fear is telling him. Helping him explore the topic is marketing leader Robin Daniels. As someone who has led companies public, Robin understands the pressures and responsibilities that come with impressive titles.

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I think fear is telling me what will happen when all these people who seek my advice or work with me find out that I have no idea what I'm doing.” —Kyle

As the fear journey continues, Kyle Lacy, SVP of Marketing at Seismic, continues to uncover what fear is telling him. Helping him explore the topic is marketing leader Robin Daniels. As someone who has led companies public, Robin understands the pressures and responsibilities that come with impressive titles.

How does Robin tackle the fear? He reframes it. Continue the exploration as Kyle wrestles with his big question, “what is fear telling him?”

After You Listen:

  • Join the journey with Kyle, text Tiffany to download a copy of the self-guided Fear Interview. Text the word FEAR to Tiffany at 317-350-8921.

I am leaning in with Robin Daniels

Kyle: Hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of Scared Confident I'm Kyle Lacy, kind of your subject for this season. I'm going to give you if this is the first time you're listening, which it might be Robin who's. Our guests has a big following, and if he's sharing this, then we've got some new listeners here, but I'm going to give you just a little bit of caution.

Of what this all is the premise. As I went through, what is called a fear interview a couple months ago, it's an interview that you do where you speak in third person as fear. The idea is that it kind of helps you fully understand how much fear controls your life. And many of us don't really know, right.

And kind of take back control from the narrative. And I have. More than I thought I did, uh, going through my head. And one of the examples from one of the interviews, this is just a quote that I said as a, as I was relistening to it. I think fear is telling me what will happen when all these people that seek my advice or work with me, find out that I have no idea what I'm doing.

I'm Kyle Lacy. And this is my fear.

I have a lot of respect for Robin Daniels in his career and as well as how he shows up on play, at least digital media and, and our conversations I've had with him. One-on-one outside of this interview, he has an optimism and a positivity that I feel like only somebody that lives in Copenhagen can have, or.

From Denmark, but I just have a lot of respect for it. And somebody that has that optimistic, I just wanted to talk to him about a fear of failure. As you know, he has been at the top seat to the COO at public companies, and he's had leadership roles that pretty much every cool software company, but he was a CMO.

I think he's had leadership roles at LinkedIn there's this he's just had a lot of experience at that at a very high level. Here's my conversation with my friend, Robin Daniels on how he tackled fear or tackle sphere. And the first step was buying a one-way ticket to San Francisco.

Robin: I've been in the marketing basically for the last 20 plus years or so. Hi. Hi tech marketing. I, uh, when I was 21, I bought a one-way ticket from Copenhagen Denmark, where I was born and raised, uh, to Silicon valley. Cause I always wanted to go and live the dream of, of, of being over there. And I always had this one driving thought in my head is I didn't want, wanna look back on my life when I was 50, 60, 70 years old.

And have thought to myself, I would have, I could have I showed up if only I had been more brave when I, uh, had taken the chance. So he always had this driving thoughts. I, I, when I was 21, I bought this one way ticket to California. And I've been there since, uh, 2002, 2020. And just last year, I'm back to Copenhagen Denmark.

So that's where I am right now. After 20 years in Silicon valley, it's been an amazing ride. And just to cut a long story short, you know, I've worked for some companies. You've never heard of that crash and burn, you know, it was kinda like a just experience taking some chances and I've worked for some companies.

I thank God that have done really well, you know, partly because of, uh, the product company, the leadership, and hopefully also by me being involved with, at Salesforce box, uh, Matterport, you know, recently went public this summer, which was an incredible experience, LinkedIn. I was also a rework where it was the CMO for, for awhile, you know, that I left there over two years ago, but at recently went public as well, which is great.

So it's just like, you know, you never quite know, but you just kind of, you trust your gut, you get better as you get older and trusting your gut and not letting fear stand in your way, but it's always there, you know? So, uh, so now I'm back in, in coping. I just left Matterport recently, uh, just about a, of.

Kyle: So, so that's, that's part of the reason why I wanted to talk to you other than I just enjoy talking to you in general, you bought a one-way ticket to California. How do you think about fear and went and think of, I mean, maybe take me back to when you bought that one way ticket, like. Yeah. What was there any fear?

Cause it seems like you just go do it and

Robin: it seems like it's probably on the surface, but since this, this is about fear and overcoming fear or how you deal with it. It's always there. I mean, from, even for me, you know, there's, there's many times where, um, I have thought I don't have the skills. I don't have the experience.

I don't have maybe even the knowledge and so on to succeed in at any given job. Then I think of to myself, you know, the best I can do is just try. And it was the same one that when I bought that one-way ticket, you know, I didn't have the experience. I didn't really, I didn't have a job. I don't have a place to stay.

I didn't know a single person. I never been to California in my life. I just, again, thought, you know, well, I don't want to look back again on my life and, and have the regret of not daring or not having the courage to try. And this feels like it's been a theme for me throughout the last 20 years. I've worked in many companies where honestly, I've so many times been in meetings where I've looked around the room and thought about.

Uh, and I feel blessed to be surrounded by these people who are literally the best of the best. And it's been so many of the companies I've been at. And sometimes that then introduces itself as kind of this imposter syndrome of if they only find out that I don't really know what I'm doing, you know, maybe I'll get, find out and I'll get shown the door.

And so it's certainly shown itself many times, you know, I remember especially, um, At LinkedIn, actually, when I worked there for a few years, it was interesting because they had such a high bar for their hiring and their, their, their educational background. I'm like, I don't have a higher education. I didn't don't have an MBA.

I didn't go to Harvard or Stanford or any of these top schools. You know, I went to a school and nobody ever heard of in Denmark, Denmark's not even a higher educational school. It's just kind of like a, an average mediocre school. And here yet. I am surrounded by these people. I feel both blessed, but I also feel like, well, what happens if they find out?

You know? But that's also when I think, I feel like I've gotten better in my life to, uh, to know what my strengths and weaknesses are. You know, if I think about just a pure raw skill of market, Uh, which this is what, you know, what my domain is. I wouldn't say I'm the best at marketing. There are many people who are better at marketing than me when it comes to probably let's say brand marketing, communications, revenue, marketing, all kinds of things.

But I think my superpower is that I'm really good at seeing the fuller picture, like getting all of these different parts of marketing to row in the same direction and to be focused on a unified goal. And then my superpower is really about motivating people and getting the best out of people, taking chances on the skills that people might have or what the aptitude and that's a superpower in itself, you know?

And so realizing that, you know, it took me a while because there's many times when I wasn't the leader and you're sitting there just with your pure raw skills and you're like, how do I fit in with this group of super superstars? And that's always incumbent as I've gotten more confident in my ability.

It's, it's, it's easier. I think a little bit to, to, uh, Throw that voice. I, but it's always there, you know, it's definitely a fear that, uh, that I've had in my career. And even now, you know, when I get into, I try to dabble a little bit more with that VCs and advisory work, investment work. Like then I get into new territory.

I've always been the kind of person that, that, like I liked gleaning into the unknown and into the fear because that's the only way to grow. Uh, it's not always comfortable.

Kyle: Yeah. No, well, I think what's interesting is that we. I might be very fearful about the unknown and, and you know, not, not fully, uh, but I, I maybe not fully believe in myself to get it done, but I am bored as hell if that's not there.

Right. So I seek out the unknown and the chaos, you know, jumping into a VC firm or jumping in a leadership role. I've never done because if the opposite is actually worse and as I've, as I've thought about this idea of imposter syndrome and failure, I actually didn't connect the two until I listened to my fear interview.

And as we are talking, it's it's it's um, You might have your, your biggest fears might actually be the thing that drives you and makes you the happiest, which is correct, which is crazy to actually think about. But so if you, and one of the other things I've noticed from you following you, and it's your, you have a positivity that I, that I think is.

Well unnatural for me. I am not as positive, but I think that also plays into it. Right. When you're thinking about I'm going to buy a one-way ticket to California, you're, you're thinking of the positive things. I don't want the regret. I want to learn. I want to grow. I think that that also plays into it because if you're, if you're more, if you are somebody that's more narcissist.

It's going to be harder for you to figure out because if I'm buying a one-way ticket to Copenhagen, Which I've only been once, right? I am thinking what all could go wrong.

Robin: I mean, my uncle, he has this thing. He, he, uh, he lives in Boston, uh, and he's a, he's a great guy and I'm really close to him and his two daughters.

And he always said, you know, there's some people who are born with the happy gene and some people who are not. And I think I am born with the happy gene and he has to, that's why I think we, we, we bought, but I have two brothers. They're not as happy as I am. You know, they're not as optimistic as I am, and it's hard to say exactly where it come from because we all grew up the same parents and, and, and everything else.

But, uh, I think part of it is, um, In the formative years of my life, uh, I really had to kind of fight for, to succeed and in life in many ways, you know, we grew up, uh, my, my, both my parents were these, um, obviously spiritual teachers, they broke spiritual and wrote books about, um, spirituality, new age and so on.

But so there were all these honestly struggling, uh, financially, and also I think with some happiness issues, for sure. You know, that kind of like manic depressive in some way. I think looking at that definitely made me lean into the other direction of, you know, I never wanted that in my life just to be candid.

And like, I always wanted to be, I don't, I didn't have to, I could see how debilitating it was when. You don't have freedom and you're bound by, I would say poverty or by, uh, like the emotions, letting the emotions just kind of like control you in such an unhealthy way. Um, and I always thought to myself, you know, I'd rather just be, try to be as much in control as I can.

That's not to say that it doesn't affect me, but, um, I'm always trying to think, well, you know, I owe it to myself to try. And work as hard as I can cause that's my, my skill grit, determination, positivity, optimism. Again, I didn't come from a wealthy background income from a, like a great education, but if I can apply those things, then, then that becomes my superpower.

And, and I've saw, I've saw, you know, early in my life, the impact that had on other people, like people want it to be around me. I have so much energy. When I go into a room, I always like, like in some way, give more energy to the room then if I'm not there and I could see, this is a thing. Right. And so even though I wouldn't, when it comes to work, that is my, that, that is what I bring to the table.

It's like, I want every meeting, every interaction, every one-on-one that I have with somebody who works for me or a peer or whatever, I want the meeting to be better because I wasn't, I wanted the one-on-one to be better because I wasn't in it. And I've always had that mentality. Yeah. Because that is what I bring to the table.

Um, and I saw that just early on because I had to like, you know, and my parents were off doing whatever they were doing, writing their books and taking care of themselves. There's always this weird thing. And I think the spiritual community where you're both focused on saying that you're for the world, but you're also a little bit narcissistic because you're trying to find yourself, right.

This is what spirituality is a lot of. So, so it's like you're left to fend for yourself as a kid. Um, and that just taught me, you know, being able to like go out there and having to learn how to deal with people if, to, for lack of a better word. Um,

Kyle: I think in general, it's just this idea that everybody has like some, some imposter syndrome, like the.

I mean, you're talking CMOs. We were talking about crazy high growth, chaos and all that stuff like, and he, he went for it. And I think we talked, we talked in the interview about how, uh, how he used fear for, for the positive gates. Right? Cause he's more like cup all the way full. That was my main takeaway.

I have always viewed fear and risk taking and more of the pessimistic Sandpoint. Like you need, you have to do it. You have to take risks in order to succeed his comments. I think kind of catered to, I get to take a risk. I get to buy a one-way ticket to San Francisco. I get to make a speech in front of all of we work and eventually get the COO role because of it.

I get to do this and that. Him leaning in constantly. That's kind of, that was my, that was my main takeaway is that you get to take the risk.

So part of this process, you, you get to the end of this spirit or view, and it says that he, he kind of walks me through. All right. So next time you hear that voice in your head, what are you going to say? And I think it's called it's called a fierce statement. And so I didn't like the first words that came to my head had were fuck you.

And that just shows the D as we talk, it shows the difference between the two of us, because I would assume that your, for, for your statement is probably a little bit more cheerful and maybe, I mean, What's what's interesting about this entire process is, is that my, my fear statement has changed as I have talked to people.

I talked to my cousin, um, earlier, who we lost, uh, his mom, my aunt and may. And she was, she was fundamental to our family. And my fear statement changed too. Like what would Wendy do? Like what would she say? And now as I talk to you, it's more. How would, how would Wendy, how would Robin, how were the people that I know, how would they celebrate this decision that has to be made?

Not, not necessarily the fact that fear you need to shut up, but the fact that fear, I know that I know that your fault. How can I celebrate the fact that I'm moving into a job that's new to me, um, you know, moving or whatever major life change is going to on a daily basis, uh, that when fear kind of decides is a chat

Robin: is a great example.

I mean, You being acquired by a bigger company, you know, probably a lot of fear. Like what happens if they find out about my skills, you know, to, to your point, you know, w w what will happen because I'm based here and what about my leadership? And I was like, oh, there's all these things that always go through same, you know, us.

I was just taking Matterport public, you know? Uh it's like, what if they just find out, you know, that I'm not the right guy to do it? It's like, because you announced, you know, I knew it was happening then your analysis, then there's like six months. You really want that experience, but what if they find out, well, we can actually be better.

It's like, oh, this shit going on in your head, but I'll give you a really real example where else, I think fear can be a great example, a great way to change your mind and see from a different perspective. So I was my first CMO gig as many years ago. Um, and it was a small company. I joined us like employee number eight was all engineers, but we were building like a cybersecurity solution.

And, uh, they caught me kind of near a founder, but I wasn't the founder of the company, but I was the first business hire. It was all engineers. And, uh, I was there for just about two and a half years. So we built up the company to about 10 million in ARR ruined stealth. When I joined, we would launch the company, hired a bunch of people.

We raised about 50 million in funding, got 10 million in ARR, uh, got to about 120 people, but the last six months on. I was pretty miserable there. And the reason I wasn't miserable is because I did not love cyber security. It was just a drag to be in. If you know me pretty well, I'm optimistic. I'm in, it's just like a, such a negative industry based on fear and uncertainty and doubt and negativity.

And just like, just does not speak to me. I wanted to get back to something more positive, but this was my first CMA. And I, you know, it was pretty connected to a lot of VCs and Silicon valley. And I kept thinking, well, they've taken a chance on me. What, what will it say about me if I get. So so quickly, you know, and that I don't see it through and don't stay there for the growth.

Cause I was a big part of the company. I'd hired a bunch of people. I led sales for awhile, certainly marketing. And I was kinda like in some ways, uh, the calm, mature of this company. Um, and I kept thinking of what will it say about me if I leave? Cause I really wanted to leave, I would say after about two years, but then I thought to myself, you know, I started flipping it around, you know, what will it say about me?

If I say. What would it say about me as a person? If I don't have the courage to follow my heart and I, and I try to lean into something when they, I know they can get somebody who's more passionate about this who can probably lead the company better than Ida. What would say about me? If I stay as a leader, um, what was tell, say about my team, what will say about my reputation in the valley?

And I just started flipping it around and it was probably one of the best decision I probably should have made that sooner. You know, it's how fear can both stop you, but can also motivate you if you look at it from the right way. And I think in any, in any case, you know, you're just acquired by a company.

There is the fear of, you know, well, what if they find out what if they don't think I've got the skills, but then there's also, maybe you could flip it around and say, What if they realize that, you know, I'm actually the best person for the job, you know, and I can do it better than anybody they've ever said before.

They hired us for a reason. They, they, they acquired us for a reason. So there's always two sides. So I think that a lot of times in life, we end up earring on the doom and gloom pessimism side. Right. A little bit.

Kyle: So I didn't have fear at the acquisition where the fear came in was when. I was asked to step into the leadership role at the acquiring company, because the CMO decided that, um, great CMO, he, Michael launder, and decided that he was getting, he needed a break. Like he had been in high growth companies for like a decade.

And that's when I got hit with like, when, you know, when I was told that he was leaving and then I got the call, I got a call from the CEO asking me to step up. That that's when imposter syndrome hits you full force, but with Robin, the conversation with Robin, it just, you get to do it. I am, you know, it's a, it's more of a positive take on.

I could fail. No, I get to, I get to experience something awesome. I get to, I get to serve a marketing team and a much larger company. And, uh, I get to. Discover, and I get to experience what it means to scale at this stage and the conversation with Robin, since he's been through so many different ones. Like I, like I have, you know, it's kinda like, this is a new experience.

It's like when he bought the one-way ticket to San Francisco, it was all about the experience and how that grows you. So it's not about thinking, oh man, I might screw up. It's the fact that I get to do something pretty amazing.

One of the things that came up during the fear interview was like, I'm like borderline introvert. So it's real. It takes a lot of energy for me to go into like a networking room, which could be weird for people because I do it all the time. Right. And I've spoke, I've done keynotes and. 3000 people. And I get high anxiety just going to talk to one person that I don't know.

And your, your example is that you flip it, you say, okay, well, you know, this, person's not going to hate you yet. We're all at the same event. Right. But maybe you meet, maybe you meet somebody that you're, you are always going to. Talk to, or, or you create a relationship with somebody that's going to be very meaningful to your life.

And that the flip the script thing is very interesting because I actually didn't think about it that way until you and I talked.

Robin: Yeah, it's true. I mean, it's, it's unmanned my 17th day at, uh, rework. I was asked to go speak in front of the whole company, 10,000. I don't think I've ever been so nervous in my entire life.

It was my heartbeat. It was my boss who was supposed to speak, but he always told me when I started, it's like, oh, well, I'm about to have a baby. If the baby comes early, then you know, you're going to have to step in. I'm like fast I got, and then it happened. So I had to step in and I was, I was so. Nervous, but then I also thought to myself, again, flipping it around.

Well, what if I flip it around? This becomes maybe kind of my audition in some way. And my coming out party to the whole company, because it's a big company. I mean, how many people am I really going to meet? They're all going to see me. And I think that that one presentation, honestly, uh, because I really leaned into it.

I rehearsed and rehearsed and that rehearsed, I must've given him maybe 40 times in front of a mirror over and over. And I was still nervous because I was just like, instead of so much. But afterwards, I ended up becoming the CMO for the whole company. I actually wasn't hired to be the COO for the whole company.

And we work as a hire to be the COO that we were technology, this new thing that they were starting up. They saw me at this event and they're like, this guy is really good. He should be the CEO of the company. I don't know if that's what they say, but I think that it played a big part in it. It accelerated my position in the

Kyle: company.

Yeah. Well, I mean, but that's, that's the example of what we talked about before. You. And I know a lot of people that have CMO roles, CEOs like high growth tech. It's very strict. I mean, it's stressful. It's quick. It's fast change management is very important. I don't think there's anybody that would say they haven't had imposter syndrome at some point, unless they're a complete sociopath.

Right. And even sociopath's I think have a little bit of fear, but that being said, what we do differently is that we lean into it and use it as fuel. To, to enjoy what we do. And I, like I said before, if there wasn't chaos and there wasn't that fear, I probably wouldn't enjoy it. Which I, which at the fear interview, that's not the first thought that came to my mind was shows kind of this evolution as we continue to talk about fear and imposter syndrome.

It's if you can use it for the positive and, and practice it because for me, I have to practice it. It comes very naturally to. The

Robin: other thought I always have is, um, I'll try anything. What's the worst that can happen. It comes to food or eating something, or an experience, Joe jumping off a mountain doing sky.

Like, I'll try anything once, unless it's like crazy, dangerous, but mean how often do we really get increased, dangerous situation, but like, what's the worst that can happen. Go for it. If you go try something new at work, what's the worst that can happen either it will succeed and you'll be like, wow, shit, this sparks.

And you'll learn something new or it won't, and you'll learn something new as well. And we rarely do do we in our. You know, work, deal with something that's life or death. We're creating PowerPoint and strategy decks and you know, stuff like that. We're not like, so it was like, just go for it. You know, this, this, this, this monkey brain, oh, there's always trying to stop us, you know,

Tiffany: so reflecting on that conversation, what do you hope listeners take away from the courage and optimism that. I heard from Robin,

Kyle: I think in general, it's just this idea that everybody has like some, some imposter syndrome, like even, I mean, you're talking SEMA what we were talking about, crazy high growth, chaos and all that stuff.

Like, and he, he went for it and I think we talked, we talked in the interview about how. How he used fear for, for the positive gates, right? Cause he's more like cup all the way full. That was my main takeaway. I have always viewed fear and risk taking in more of the pessimistic Sandpoint. Like you need, you have to do it.

You have to take risks in order to succeed his comments. I think kind of catered to, I guess, Take a risk. I get to buy a one-way ticket to San Francisco. I get to make a speech in front of all of we work and eventually get the COO role because of it. I get to do this and that and him leaning in constantly.

That's kind of, that was my, that was my main takeaway is that you get to take the risk

stepping into a much larger role. it's not a fear of failure anymore. it's how do I lean in to the experience? You know, it's either gonna work or it's not. And, uh, I believe I can do the job and my team can do it with me. So, no, I don't. I don't fear failure. At least in this context from a career perspective, as it relates to the conversation with Robin, I just don't fear it anymore.

It's not even, I don't fear failure. That doesn't mean I'm not scared because it's a new experience. Right. But I think being, uh, being scared is not the right word. It's not a fear of failure. It's just, it's being uncomfortable and being okay with being uncomfortable like Robin and I talked about, I think before we started the interview, there's a reason why, and I was talking about this today with another CMO, two CMOs.

There's a reason why it changed around my room almost all the time. When I was a kid, like I moved the bed, I moved the dresser. I moved, like I always had to reorganize. I enjoy changing and chaos. And I think that that realization just shows me that I will always have this being uncomfortable as part of how I exist.

And it's not a fear of failure. It's just the joy of being uncomfortable.

Tiffany: You can continue to hear his journey by listening to the following episodes. And I encourage you to listen to each of these and think through. What are your own fears and how would your life be served by having intentional conversations about the fear is so desperately wants to quiet the greatness that is inside of you.

If you're interested in more intentionally exploring your own fear, going on your own self guided. Download the fear interview that we developed with Nathaniel Maguire, Nathaniel is who did both my fear interview and Kyle's link is located in the show notes. Or you can also text me 3 1 7 3 5 0 8 9 2 1 text the word fear to 3 1 7 3 5 0 8 9 2 1.

And that's how I'll know that you would like a copy of the self-guided fear interview. Thanks for listening.

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