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Understanding your customers and building authentic relationships with Augusto Rozo
About this episode
How is building authentic relationships related to LinkedIn?
How can empathy help you in customer success and interviews?
In this episode, Augusto Rozo walks us through the learnings he has gained from the startup and the corporate world.
What they talked about:
- The Why’s behind transitioning from startups to corporates and vice-versa
- Entrepreneurial Mindset and Roles
- How LinkedIn can be used for building authentic connections with other people
- Understanding people and how this affects customer success, customer experience and interviews
- Customer Empathy and Storytelling
Augusto Rozo: Well, it’s exciting to be here with you today. My name is Augusto. I’m a business strategist, and entrepreneur, globetrotter. Since I’ve lived in many different places around the world, a privilege, and someone who’s passionate about entrepreneurship and helping others grow, since I’ve experienced in my own life, the power that others have had in my own little journey.
Spyros Tsoukalas: Hi, hi. I’m Spyros from GrowthMentor, and we are going to have a very interesting discussion about entrepreneurship and all the transitions that Augusto has had in his career. So the first thing that I would like to ask you is, can you share more about all these transitions that you have made, you have worked for startups, you have started your own, you have been in the corporate world. You have worked for governmental agencies, as far as I understand. So how are all these relate? Like, what are the differences in terms of culture? And what have you learned through this exciting journey?
Augusto Rozo: Yeah, you know, when people talk about serial intrapreneurs, and I think that that is a very true concept, right? Now, what is interesting is that serial entrepreneurship does not necessarily mean that you’re setting up a new startup, every year, or every two years, or every five years, whatever it is, I genuinely believe there’s more. There are multiple ways than you are an entrepreneur, not just when you’re setting up a business, but also in terms of how you handle your life and what you want to accomplish. So since I was very young, I always had this incredible urge to go and see the world. And I, and the place where I grew up, which was in Colombia, was not exciting enough for me, I saw there was a lot to be seen out there. And I thought, I think that that feeling very early on in my life pushed me to go to different places to the states first, then to Barcelona, then to the Middle East. Now I’m living in Scandinavia. And what I what I recognize that is something important in any intrapreneurship initiative, is to act upon those dreams, right? Do you you identify a pain and you develop a solution to try and solve it through your product or through your service? You’re applying the logic that you also use when you say, I would like to go to these other places and work in these specific industry or understand how things happen in that particular culture, for example, right. So I think this appetite, and this curiosity that is common among entrepreneurs, is was had has made me be curious about working in different setups in different cultures. And I think that in every experience, I have learned something new that has now made me for example, go back to being an entrepreneur in the sense of setting up a new startup with all this baggage of information.
Spyros Tsoukalas: I totally understand that you actually gave an answer to my internal thought of how I introduced myself after joining GrowthMentor full-time. So I used to be a founder, and I joined GrowthMentor. I have a role in this super team here. But when I was introducing myself to other people, I had this urge to say, you know, I’m kind of not an entrepreneur. But like, still, I have the founders mindset, and they apply this mindset to my current role. But I wasn’t feeling comfortable saying, you know, I’m an entrepreneur, because I don’t own the business. And as a result, you just gave an answer to this internal thought that I had. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Augusto Rozo: No, I love that because in fact, there is a myth around entrepreneurship, that for you to be an entrepreneur, you need to have your own business. And I think that is completely misleading. You can be an entrepreneur, for example, within a corporation, right. And there, it’s there’s actual, actually, there’s a technical term for that, and it’s an intrapreneur. And there’s a whole bunch of literature, academic literature around the phenomenon of entrepreneurship. Right. And then, again, you are an entrepreneur, when you act upon your dreams, for example of moving out to a country where you are completely idle connection with this part of the world. But I acknowledged and after a bit of research and, and whatnot, I acknowledged that there was a huge opportunity here for new innovative projects, and also for sustainability related projects. And so as a family, we decided that this could be an interesting place to explore. So that specific decision and that action and that adventure East per se, and entrepreneurial action because we had to, you know, assess the situation, propose a plan to make it happen, you know, align our resources to get there because of course, we didn’t have a job we didn’t have connections. So we had to make a plan to cater for that, and to start from zero, right, so how is that not very similar to their? I feel? I’ve done both? And I can tell you they are.
Spyros Tsoukalas: So I would like to change the topic for to another direction. So I have been recently in Maine inspired by your activity in LinkedIn. So I understand that LinkedIn nowadays is a huge channel for various reasons and different purposes for different people. So can you tell me something I don’t know about LinkedIn?
Augusto Rozo: Well, I think it’s not necessarily a secret, but it’s something that is clearly underestimated, which is the importance of your tribe of your community. So there’s a first level of people who use LinkedIn just as as a resource, and they just go and check information or connect with some people just because they met at a meeting in some in some business context or webinar, which is like the very basic use of LinkedIn, right? Then there’s a more sophisticated use, which is people who are creating, which, again, is rare right now, it’s estimated that maybe one or 2% of users in LinkedIn are actually publishing and I am one of those and I think you too, so that is already using this, this tool in a way that the majority doesn’t really use, right, like, post and create your content so that people can understand what is your position in regards to whatever your specialty is, right? So that already is a secret, in a way, right? But within the ones who post, then there’s a further secret, which is are you building an audience? Or are you building a community? Because sometimes I feel that people here are talking about okay posts for your audience, like what what, are you an influencer? Or what what are you what is your expectation? In my case, I am not like, I am not trying to build an audience I am making or aiming to make authentic connections. And by that I mean that, for me, the post is important, yes to like, what I what I create as content. But what is more important is what I received as feedback, the conversations that have been on the comments how I get to meet the people that are interacting with that you cannot imagine in the last 90 days, because I started this journey. But actually very recently, the amount of interesting people that I’ve connected with this, thanks to this right, one of the cofounders of my current project has come out of this. I have helped people land new jobs because of that. We are starting other mentorship initiatives with a bunch of people that I didn’t know that are based in the States, just thanks to this incredible opportunity. So my recommendation here is do not think of people here as your audiences are your followers. Think of them as your potential connections, friends, clients. And when you realize that your relation and your way of interacting with them gets transformed immediately.
Spyros Tsoukalas: I actually really like what you say it’s highly related to what Kate, our, the mentor that we interviewed in the last episode said. In the beginning, actually, in the first few minutes you mentioned, like social media, or about being social. So it’s a similar idea to what you describe, and the story about your co founder is really inspiring. My next question would be Sarin is in a story that has come out of that. And this is I think, the best example, like you found your co-founder, and through the of the authenticity of what you have been doing on LinkedIn. And actually, I got inspired by that I mentioned you, I mentioned that to you like a few days before, but like the way you share content, and your activity is quite inspiring. For me, you are one of the few people that I really follow on LinkedIn.
Augusto Rozo: Thank you, man, I appreciate that. Just before we started, I posted like just now, one minute before we started our call a little one about about this also is that entrepreneurial mindset that we were talking about. And it’s a little picture of me when I was two years old. You know, in a, in an astronaut, the this guy is a costume. And and it’s that reflection, right. It’s something personal, but it’s about thinking how we act upon our dreams, how we are entrepreneurs in every or we can be entrepreneurs in every opportunity, as we were discussing before, right. So it’s a great tool to share that business mindset but sometimes also with a bit of a personal tone. So I appreciate you see that because it’s a it’s a genuine way, way for for me to connect with people that might relate without feeling.
Spyros Tsoukalas: Great, thanks, thanks for your kind words. So I would like to move to the next question that I have, which is highly related with what we were just talking about and your background. In storytelling, you have been a filmmaker in the past. And also you have worked in, as I, as far as I understood from your profiles that I was browsing earlier, you have been related to the press or press releases in a way. So my question here is, so what can do? What can startups do related to what we call, traditionally a press release in the sense that startups want attention? They use social media. And I think startups are pretty disoriented on how they use social media, they might have a blog, but what can they really do to get attention out of their efforts? And I think your experiences in various roles are highly relevant, relevant to this concept?
Augusto Rozo: Yeah, I could tell you a number of things regarding that. The first one is, see I one of the topics that I also post about frequently is about the importance of human relations. Yeah. And the fact that people buy from people, right, like, sometimes such an obvious statement is clearly forgotten in the business arena. And sometimes in the startup, especially in tech startups, we get so obsessed about the functionality of our product, right? The the innovation that it brings, or the the features that we’ve developed through long journey, a long journey of efforts, that we forget what that solution is solving for who. So if you manage to articulate in your story, that necessity, if you connect with the pains that inspired developing such a technology, and you can you communicate that because again, that is a way to connect, it’s a principle of empathy. And sometimes in business, we forget that right. Like, everything becomes very numeric very, like, quickly, you know, we’re focusing on KPIs and isolates, and we’re talking about revenue targets, and how we’re missing data and profit margin. And, and those are indicators that at the end of the day, are just, you know, they are just how do you say that they are just portraying what is what is happening with people, people that are buying that are buying in a certain way at a certain price, right, in a certain speed or frequency. And so if we go back to those foundations to understand that we need to influence people, if we want them to act upon our service, then how do we connect with people, right, and that is the very basic principle. So and that is where this, the importance of storytelling comes in. Because when you tell a story, for example, from the founder, or the founding team, that is relatable for people, that that people can really, let’s say, understand where this is coming from how this wants to be a better, I don’t know, contribution for the world, or, or how this is solving a specific issue of a community, then that community or the people that are potentially interested in there will connect with that, from a values perspective, not a transactional perspective, sometimes we really emphasize the tactical aspects, the technical aspects of our products, but we forget the intangible and the relational and the human side of things. So whenever any company has the opportunity to highlight those elements from their team from their founding, yeah, community, from their clients, from their employees, right, because at the end, if you think about what a startup is, or what a business is, it’s just, it’s a bunch of people working towards a common goal. So how can we incorporate all of that as part of our journey? How are we being transparent? And about all of that it for example, in social media, people love stories? Are we telling stories? Or are we just talking about, you know, how quick this is, just because we like it to be quick? Is it important for our clients that this is quick, right? I think that that always having in mind that that mindset where we want to listen first, give to others, before maybe pushing our you know, speech or taking from others. Are you think that that really changes completely the outcome of those communication strategies.
Spyros Tsoukalas: I really I really like how customer-oriented your perception is, and putting the customer experience first or giving value and showing empathy is a priority in your way of thinking. I would like to move the needle towards, because earlier I asked you about what can startups or companies do when they are client facing, they are at the places they are meeting their customers. And but I would like to move that towards customer success, because I know that you have been active in the Customer Success sector in the past. So I would like to link these thoughts with how have you managed to support your customers in the past? And what were your elements of success? Were more details part of this recipe or the same principles that you just described? Where are those that were applied in customer success roles or activities as well?
Augusto Rozo: Yeah, I think I think you can apply those principles to because a key aspect for me in customer success is related to, to relationships. And so how, how do you build relationships that are beneficial for both parties on a long term? Sometimes we, we focus too much on the short term results, all of us once, personally and company, right? We want results fast, right? And there’s, there’s an obsession I feel in general in our lives and our current civilization, or moment of our history, for things to give results fast. And the truth is that some things take time, right? Like we cannot we need the seasons to mature. I don’t know if the food and and sometimes that’s true. And I would say most times, actually, that is true also for relations. So how do you develop those relations? What? What type of initiatives do you design, to make sure that for example, number one, you understand your customer and their needs, to an extent that would allow you to be proactive? In some cases, it’s possible, and TCP anticipating the needs of that customer. And thinking of ways that in which your solution can help them achieve something that they are not even thinking about, you know how many times I worked in an agency, and you know, how many times we beached for business that we were not briefed on just because we knew the client. And we would use that knowledge in both, like in the in their benefit, and in our benefit, right. And we were not waiting for business just to come in, would know what were the strategies, right in marketing wise, for example, and we would develop initiatives that then that would become a must have for them before even they knew it. And the amount of business that we closed in that way was remarkable. Because once somebody opens the door, and becomes your client, you know, right, you know, what they care about, you start to know their strategy, their people, who is the decision maker, what they like when how they make decisions, who is the person in charge of the financial sort of strategy and how you know, the different stakeholders that you need to tackle any view, just understand all of that, which again, takes me to understand your customer understand the people behind it, right, then you have a lot of levers in your hand to try and build a longer relation and a better relation, new business and new opportunities. I think that what matters here is let’s not just be reactive, how can we create productive business? How can we become somebody’s partner and not just provider? Right? And that entails a level of effort, a level of sophistication? Oh, yes. But that is what successful companies do.
Spyros Tsoukalas: Actually, I think that that if companies follow their customers pain points and their needs, they are hardwired to succeed. And what you describe is really a little more complex than that. But I think that’s how companies should be pursuing success nowadays.
Augusto Rozo: Yeah, I agree. I know there are levels to this, right. Like, again, there are certain services with probably this is not possible, entirely standardized. But still, I think that what is important is when it comes to the time of that you don’t act on things, for example, only when the rent or the renewal time comes for a subject option, because then it feels like you’re interested in me only as a client, when I need to renew my contract with you. And that cannot be the case, if somebody’s already paying for you, you need to have checkpoints, you need to understand what’s happening throughout that relation, maybe maybe there’s an opportunity to operate, there’s an opportunity to have a much more comprehensive relation. So of course, this needs to be adapted to the specific sector. But what I’m talking about is a general mindset, where we understand that we need to move from transactions to relations.
Spyros Tsoukalas: But then understood, totally understood, like build a real relationship there. So I know we don’t have too much time, I want to make one question, one more question and two short ones. So I know that you have experiences you have had experiences with interviews in the past. What is, can you tell me something that we don’t know about interviews? I have been interviewing people not in terms of podcasts that like for blog posts, etc. But like, can you tell me something that I don’t know about interviews?
Augusto Rozo: Again, I don’t know if it’s something that we don’t know, we might have heard about this a lot, kind of what we were saying about when we were talking about LinkedIn, but I’m not sure that it’s actually taking place as much. So see, I feel that many times candidates prepare their interviews, focusing on their own persona, right. And that is that is absolutely necessary. Because in some cases, people do not prepare even that, and that is really bad. You need to, you need to prepare, right? That is the major statement here, you need to prepare for an interview. And what does that mean, though? It means for me two things. One is to understand how your own experience relates to, for example, the job description, right and, and make a proper assessment so that I can connect specific elements of my journey to the needs that are spelled out, right, like, when a company is sharing his job description, they are telling you what you’re going to do and what they’re expecting. So you have your cheat sheet there? And how can you prepare enough before to ensure that you will bring in the interview elements that, that relate to specific elements that are outlined there, right? It’s an analytical job, where you get to see what they’re looking for. And you compare that against your experience, and you create a new output where you connect those two, and you’re weaving that story, because that is the story, again, back to storytelling. And that is the first level of preparation that I’ve seen that happens, in some cases, not in all of them. So people, they just call them like a bit more, you know, enthusiastic about their own journey, and they haven’t done enough connection between those two. But again, that happens, I would say, have have had seven times. But then there’s another, again, more sophisticated if you want level, which is, in my opinion, a game changer. And it is to do a similar level of preparation in terms of the company. Can you take enough time to understand what is the strategy of the company, it is spelled out sometimes in so many places, right social media, their website, news, whatever, but then also the LinkedIn profile of the person that is going to interview you, as an example, right, or any other material that you can access, because again, it depends on different sectors, you have reports, you have different things, so that you understand the exact moment at which the company is and then you again, connect that with both the job description and your experience, because then when you bring that up in the conversation, it will show that you are there not just to speak about yourself and about their role, but also about the company that is going to potentially hire you and how their values matter to you. Their strategy is something that you’re passionate about or where you have had experience. Right. So again, it’s about understanding the other. You see, there’s a common theme in this conversation where I’m trying to insist on the fact that we need to not just think about our own little, you know, things and worries, but about understanding the others because if you want to land the job, what you want to show is how you your value connects to their strategy, their journey, their needs, their job description, so whatever you can do to prepare for that and that you can bring that up and surface it during the conversation. Trust me it’s it’s a it’s a game changer too. Because then people will see in a matter of an hour, not only that you are well prepared and well informed, but that there is a genuine connection because of a multiple because of multiple factors, not just your technical abilities, but also, again, your values or your interests here and there. And if you can weave that story, through preparation, you’re going to succeed in the interview.
Spyros Tsoukalas: I was sure that the interview topic would link back to what we were discussing earlier. That’s why I brought that into the conversation. So last thing before I let you go, what’s your favorite tool nowadays? And what book has saved your life?
Augusto Rozo: What tool? Sorry, what tool?
Spyros Tsoukalas: So what tool is your favorite one nowadays? And what book has changed your life?
Augusto Rozo: Yeah, well, yes, right now I’m enjoying a lot of Notion. I am using it for LinkedIn, on a daily basis. That’s where I draft and organize my content, and I love it. I am a hardcore user. That’s probably the tool that I’m using the most right now. And book that recently changed my life is called the Doughnut Economics. And, and it is, it is what is helping me develop the foundation of this new startup around sustainability content, because the Doughnut Economics propose an excellent way to understand how economy, societies and environment. The three elements work together within our planetary boundaries, to create a society that can thrive. So it’s absolutely fascinating and it has changed it to a to a point that it is being the foundation as a concept, right for the new story that I’m working on.
Augusto Rozo: Thank you very much for sharing all this information and all your insights with us today Augusto. I hope that everyone will enjoy the episode once again as much as I did. And thank you very much for contributing to the growth mentor community.
Augusto Rozo: Thank you. It was amazing. Thanks a lot Spyros.
In this episode
Business strategy advisor with 20 years of experience in Europe, US & EMEA. Entrepreneur and experienced in corporate and government roles related to BD, marketing, supply chain, communications, recruitment and business strategy. I advocate solving business challenges using a holistic perspective.
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