Office Hours: I’m the Global Head of Product and Customer Marketing at Eventbrite. I’m Jameelah Calhoun. AMA!Featured

Hey Elphas!

I’m Jameelah Calhoun and currently serve as the Global Head of Product and Customer Marketing at Eventbrite, where I focus on growing our subscription and ads products and repositioning us from B2B SaaS to a marketplace.

Before Eventbrite, I’ve held many diverse roles from Derivatives Analyst to General Manager to Product Manager at Citi, American Express, OnDeck Capital, and Audible.

During my downtime, I enjoy going to Soulcycle and listening to podcasts about politics and philosophy.

Ask me anything about product marketing, storytelling, career transitions, leading effective teams, or anything else!

Thanks so much for joining us @jameelahcalhoun!Elphas – please ask @jameelahcalhoun your questions before Friday, July 7th. @jameelahcalhoun may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hello Jameelah! I'm a Director of Product and Customer Experience at a growth-phase startup. Could you please give it to me honestly? What does it take to be an executive? How did you determine what to sacrifice and what your boundaries were?For context, I am currently going through effectively a divorce. I'm struggling with feelings of depression and though my boss says I am a high performer and "check off the boxes at a normal company" he is concerned that I don't have enough dedication to be an "executive". I appreciate your brutal honesty. Thank you for all you do! I use Eventbrite every month at least :)
First, I want to say I am sorry to hear about everything you are going through! Sometimes, the best thing for your career is to take the time you need to care for yourself and restore your battery. Personally, I took a career break when I knew I really wanted to make a transition and had family situations as well. I knew I didn't want to just jump into the next role, but to honestly re-evaluate what would make me energized about my career again. For me, I clarified that I wanted to move into consumer tech. When I was ready, I had the energy and drive to go for a bigger transition that I had not been able to do when I was burnt out. My career has truly benefited from me taking that time for myself. That said, being an "executive" does not mean working day and night. To me, it means having an owner mentality versus an employee one, which ultimately comes down to accountability. An owner feels accountability for the performance an overall company, business unit, or product where as an employee primarily feels accountability for themselves and their goals. An owner anticipates the challenges or opportunities they want to prepare the business for. You have to heavily prioritize the work that matters over busy work. Finding the 80/20 of your business, time, and customers (the 20% of your input that drives 80% of your output) is crucial to protecting boundaries for yourself and your team. The last piece of the owner mentality is that you must deliver impact through influence and inspiration of others versus through your own direct force of will. In this way, you have to release control over every detail and focus more on enabling a stellar team. What sacrifices are worth it will ultimately be personal to you. But here are a few things I would think about: 1) Are you energized by the type of accountability I mentioned above? For some, that level of visible pressure might be overwhelming. Many paths to success don't look like moving up the ladder, like becoming a consultant or a coach. Figure out what about "executive" roles appeal to you. 2) Is now the right time for that kind of accountability or a change? Psst, tiny secret...It is okay to coast sometimes, especially if there are other things going on in your life and if you're in a role where you are already established. Your career will still be there when you're ready for that next step! 3) What are your non-negotiables / essentials? I recommend listening to the recent podcast episode on Wisdom from the Top featuring Greg McKeown. For example, I protect my weekends and hate mornings, but don't mind working late when absolutely essential (which 80% of the time it is not). For others, the mix of non-negotiables may look different.
Oh wow I had no idea you had also gone through a divorce :( Thank you so much for your thoughtful and wise feedback!! It's really helping me see the light through a hard time.
What are some of your favourite philosophy podcasts? Need to refresh mine!
I'm all about The Gray Area right now! Would love to hear your favorites too.
Hi Jameelah! What are some of the challenges you face when you reposition a brand from a B2B SaaS to a marketplace?
Thank you for your time, Jameelah! I enjoyed reading your journey. My question is pretty simple, what's next for you personally/professionally? I am sure you are a high achieving person (just given by all that you've accomplished) and I am curious what type of challenges would be next for you?
Hi Naomi! Thanks for your question. Honestly, I am enjoying my role and am still challenged every day. I am excited about the transformation of Eventbrite's brand and see tons of potential for us ahead. Right now, my focus is on investing in my team. I am passionate about building a cohesive and intentional team culture and supporting my employees' career development. With such a large team, I think this will be enough to energize me.
Hi Jameelah, wonderful having you here! Thank you for making the time. I am fascinated by your career and especially how much you've accomplished. So inspirational and keep up the amazing work!You've had a few career transitions and in the past few years meeting our hundreds and thousands of members, at least half of them are going through or considering a career transition. My questions to you would be what have been the common habits, patterns of behaviours and actions you've executed in each of these pivots (eg going from traditional finance in derivative to general fintech to straight up consumer focused business like Audible and in product)? Like one pivot is HARD but you seem to have navigated it so well and I am just so curious to know what the secret sauce was haha? Other than hard work and grinding obviously!What would you tell Elpha members going through it right now?
Hi Iynna! Thanks so much for your thoughtful question. Career transitions are challenging, but I am happy to share my thoughts on how I've navigated these changes successfully. 1) Follow Your Intrigue - Career transitions can take time and require you to get uncomfortable, so you should move towards something you can get genuinely excited about. Sometimes we can feel pressure to move to something else simply because it seems like the hot thing to do right now, but you can burn out more quickly when working against your interests instead of in your flow. You've likely read more relevant articles and spoken to more people in a space that you authentically want to know more about than otherwise. This will make it easier to stand out as a candidate. For me, I knew I loved working on delivering consumer value through 2-sided marketplaces that were household names far more than derivatives and each move I made got me closer to the types of product, companies, and problems I could get energized about even during the weekend. 2) Understand Your Unique Transferrable Value Prop - As a product marketer, I am always thinking about how to position products to succeed in the market, and it's essential to do the same for yourself as a professional. What are the things that you consistently do well and receive recognition for? When your colleagues or friends ask you for a favor, what are the types of things they ask you for because they know you do them well? What types of organizations value those skills? I purposefully called out transferrable value, because this is not about explicit skills, but about capabilities. For example, if you are good at analyzing data, your unique value prop could be the ability to spot trends and derive actionable insights from customer data. In product marketing, we use the following framework for a value prop: For W, we do X to help them Y better than Z - where W is your audience or the type of organization, X is your capability, Y is what it means for your audience, and Z is your competition or other candidates. This is something you can use to sell yourself into jobs even when it seems like the function or industries are vastly different. The secret is that when you boil things down to capabilities and problems to solve, many companies and roles start to look more similar than different. 3) Clarify Your Priority Ingredients - You won't get everything you want in career transitions. So, take the time to prioritize the elements of your next role that are most meaningful to you, whether that's a change in function, industry, title, pay, location, etc. The most crucial step is to force rank these as it helps clarify which opportunities you should pursue, what questions to ask in your interviews, and decision-making when you land those offers! 4) Be Strategic - It can be challenging to shift multiple dimensions of your role simultaneously. Map out different paths or scenarios to your ultimate destination and pursue more than one in parallel. For me, I wanted to get into consumer tech from financial services. So I pursued Fintech, Consulting, and Consumer Tech as well as multiple different functions, as intermediary steps to break into tech. It worked out that I found my next role In product development in FinTech and then transitioned to consumer tech from there. 5) Go For It - Imposter syndrome can be debilitating during transitions. After likely achieving success in your prior roles, you are suddenly entering something new and needing to establish yourself again. First, this is completely understandable. But remind yourself that you have reached where you are for a reason and those same ingredients that got you here today are still there to help you navigate this new challenge. It can help to reconnect with prior colleagues who can remind you of what makes you so valuable and surprisingly, interviewing can help with this as well. Even if you don't move forward, getting the opportunity to speak abut your own successes can remind you that you've got this! Get those reps in and don't give up!
Hi Jameelah! B2B product manager here, so I'm really interested in Eventbrite's repositioning journey. 1. What signals did you and the team see that suggested it was time to reposition the company from B2B SaaS to marketplace?2. What does strategy versus tactics look like in a product/company/brand repositioning journey? 3. As I can imagine how big of a transition this seemed like in the beginning, what were some of the milestones and success metrics that you and the team planned for? And some other curious questions that I have: 4. What motivated your transition from GM to PM at Citi? 5. What do you consider to the core skills or knowledge that product managers/leaders should understand and be able to apply to some level of competency, to have a great collaborative relationship with product marketing managers? Thanks for your time and insights in this round of Office Hours!
Hi Tiffany! Thanks for your question. Eventbrite was founded over 15 years ago to help democratize ticketing for everyday event creators to easily collect payments, organize their events, and build community. We are still staying true to that critical legacy. But, we have also built a strong consumer brand and app experience. Over 90 million event-goers come to Eventbrite looking for things to do and Eventbrite-driven tickets accounted for just under 30% of paid ticket volume in 2022. These key statistics showcased that we are already delivering value to our event creators by bringing incremental demand to their events. But, being a marketplace is not just about enabling both sides of our market to transact, but giving them richer ways to connect and derive value from their peers and each other. As a product marketer, this is an exciting moment as we are playing a crucial role in educating customers on this journey and marketing to shift customer perception from a transactional platform to a resource for planning things to do. Over the past 18 months, we have delivered 5 tentpole multi-channel campaigns to creators and consumers, beefed up lifecycle marketing to celebrate wins and showcase our value, and elevated how we report on ticket sales to creators to increase awareness of Eventbrite-driven tickets. There are still more exciting developments to come, but I hope this helps!
Thanks for sharing your insights, Jameelah. Love that you shared your response as a story, like a true product marketer! 💜
I am a Product Manager but open to growing my career into more executive positions (not limited to product). What are the most important hard or soft skills to focus on to close the gap/make myself a more desirable candidate for these higher visibility roles?
Thank you so much @jameelahcalhoun for the AMA session. Your profile is huge! So many insights gotten from your profile as well. I am currently a CX and Operations Manager at a startup looking to expand. And I really need help in tackling some pressing issues. I have some questions that would really aid me resolve them 1. How do you balance the needs of customers with the needs of the business?2. What are some of the most important metrics you track for your products?3. What are some of the best practices for customer experience design?4. How do you ensure that your products are scalable and sustainable?5. What is your approach to gathering and analyzing requirements. 6. What methods do you employ for designing and improving customer journeys. 7. What has been your strategies for scaling and managing products. 8. What are your to 5 tips for planning and executing successful product launches9. What are some of the most effective strategies you have implemented to gather customer feedback and insights for product improvement? How do you ensure the voice of the customer is incorporated into the product development process?10. Could you share a specific example where you utilized data analysis and business intelligence tools to identify market trends and drive data-informed decision-making for product strategy?11. Could you share some insights on how you have leveraged customer experience data to drive product innovation and improve customer satisfaction in your previous roles?12. In your opinion, what are the key challenges faced by operations teams when it comes to scaling a fast-growing company like Eventbrite? How have you addressed these challenges in your role?13. As a global head of product and customer marketing, how do you prioritize and manage competing demands from different stakeholders, such as sales, marketing, and engineering, when it comes to product development?1
@jameelahcalhoun Thanks for doing the AMA! I work for a small start-up and we are preparing for our first marketing hire. Any tips or insights on what to look for in this hire?!
Hi Kristy! It sounds like your start-up is at an exciting stage of growth. In the early stages, I think it is important to hire a strategic marketer over a tactical marketer. In short, this is someone who not only has a well-rounded understanding of your key marketing channels (with a heavy emphasis on email and social), but will also serve as the voice of the customer in your organization. Tactical marketing skills like copywriting and social media can be readily contracted out. Product marketing is becoming a popular first marketing hire, especially as early-stage start-ups seek to solidify their product market fit and pull customers away from other established competitors. Having a marketer who can dive into customer research and translate into a holistic go-to-market strategy can be a game-changer
Hello, Jameelah. Thanks for taking the time. I’ve never done one of these before and hope I don’t step on any toes.What do you think Eventbrite has done that enabled it to remain dominate after all this time? “…repositioning us from B2B SaaS to a marketplace.”By this, do you mean if I wanted to go to an event, I’d turn to Eventbrite? Maybe Meetup, but with tickets? Or maybe it’s more Ticketmaster.I’m learning about PMF scores. What sort of customer do you think would be “very disappointed” if they could no longer use Eventbrite?
Hi @jameelahcalhoun, very excited to read your responses here. Which certifications, courses, or other credentials would you recommend to someone without a degree? I'm trying to break into product marketing but it's quite difficult to even land an interview since most roles require a bachelor's degree.