CMO Insights: Banking on a Priceless Network

an interview with
Tim Suther Managing Director , JPMorgan Chase

One of the joys of my long-term association with The CMO Club is that I have had the pleasure of getting to know a convocation of really interesting and smart people.  Among my true buds is Tim Suther, whose top secret job as Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase has prevented us from talking on the record for years now.  Nonetheless, we’ve found many other things to discuss, from the rise of digital marketing to the legends of rock n’ roll to the latest cool iPhone app.  No matter the subject, I always walk away having learned something and more to his credit, I’m pumped up to do or try something new.

So imagine my enthusiasm when I learned that The CMO Club had honored Tim with its President’s Circle Award and this meant he’d not only need to chat with me on the record but also we’d be able to talk about something he’s a master at — the fine art of networking.  That conversation follows and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Drew: How important is having a strong peer network to doing your job well?  

I can’t think of a single successful executive who doesn’t have a strong peer network.  It is fundamental to success.  No one knows it all.  No one is awesome at everything.  Furthermore, many great breakthroughs thread together previously disparate concepts.  So, having a diverse network enables the divergent thinking needed to succeed in an ever faster moving world.  So, want to make a difference in business, or for that matter, the world, build your peer network.

Drew: Making time for networking is always a challenge.  How much time do you invest in peer to peer exchanges and how do you rationalize this investment?  

I don’t have a firm budget time for this, because it’s integral to what I do.  I travel frequently and try to use the time at the ends of normal business hours to meet and listen to people.  Meeting for an early coffee or an adult beverage after work, pre-dinner are my favorites.  I like the informality of this format, because it promotes relationships over transactions.

Drew: Effective networks are ones in which there is a lot of give and take and some would say, start with giving and the taking will follow.  What’s your approach?  Do you keep a mental scorecard?  How do you handle the takers?  

My approach to peer networking is to be a maker not a taker.   I try to be very accessible….I’ll take your calls, respond to your emails, etc…but my Spidey Sense is also active; ultimately the relationship has to have a mutual value exchange.  I also want diversity in my network…a blend of millenials to boomers, startups to established companies, senior executives to specialists.  The mosaic of perspectives is valuable to me.

Drew: Are there any software tools that you use that are particularly helpful in keeping up with your network?  

I’m pretty prosaic with software tools to keep up:  LinkedIn is my primary/preferred tool, although I do have some Twitter/Facebook connections.  I capture business card contact info (phone/email) onto my Mac, just using the basis contacts software.  That’s all pretty traditional stuff.  One thing I do that’s a bit different, is I write a POV on interesting companies (and the people that work for them)…I have hundreds of these POVs in the cloud, accessible on demand.  I find that helpful in a world where it’s easy for everything to sound the same.

Drew: Looking ahead to 2016, what is the single biggest challenge that you’d like to overcome? 

Every day is a learning opportunity and 2016 will be no different.  Keeping in tune with the customer mindset, and the various new ways to delight them will remain top of mind.

Final Note: Given its importance to career success in any field, I actually devote two chapters (Networking & Power Networking) to this topic in my upcoming book, The CMOs Periodic Table: A Renegade’s Guide to Marketing, which as you may already know, is available for pre-order this very minute on Amazon.


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