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7 Questions with Matt Bramson
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7 Questions with Matt Bramson
Name: Matt Bramson
Current title: Partner, Managing Partner
Current organisation: Cloud Strategy Solutions
Matt Bramson is an entrepreneur and executive with diverse experience building technology companies with a focus on telecom software as a service. Matt’s hallmark is applying innovation to product and distribution strategy. With this approach he has contributed to several remarkable successes. As head of sales he helped build an IVR service bureau into a groundbreaking and diversified youth marketing company. As head of business development for a national CLEC, Matt built the first SaaS brokerage and fixed mobile converged commercial service offerings plus worked directly with the Chairman, legendary investor Carl Icahn, to develop inventive sales tactics that generated millions in new revenue from large enterprises. As chief revenue officer he built a small ITSP into a leading CPaaS and UCaaS provider. Today he is the managing director of Cloud Strategy Solutions, a management consulting firm that helps companies achieve significant revenue growth where others have failed.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
The greatest, and most important, challenge has been coalescing the organization around a clear, consistent vision that drives extraordinary customer experience and significant competitive advantage.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I was working for XO Communication which, at that time, had 6,000 employees and $2 Billion in revenue. It has since been acquired by Verizon. I was assigned to manage the company's largest customer, Standard & Poors, and they were in the process of leaving for a competitor. I not only saved the business but I got S&P to sign an expanded, long-term agreement. As a result, I was introduced to the company's owner and Chairman, Carl Icahn. He made me his personal liaison to XO and that progressed to me being responsible for Business Development for the company.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I generally start slow and finish strong. My day begins with an hour or so of reading and catching up on communications -- while I sip my coffee. Next is meetings with internal partners, prospects, and customers. From the afternoon into the evening I am working on my own initiatives: mapping out strategies, reviewing reports, developing insights and otherwise creating value.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
No one has to work for you. Everyone, but especially the most qualified, has other options. If you are not challenging, teaching, and inspiring people you are not really their leader -- and you won't be for long.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand helped teach me that exceptionally creative or productive people need to be respected and given opportunity and autonomy. Expecting them to "carry the weight of the world" is unrealistic and will cause them to burn out and leave.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
You need to make delegation a continual process. Every quarter I delegate at least two tasks, that I won't learn anything more from doing them again, to a direct report. I teach them how to do it and I monitor and coach them the first couple times. I expect each of them to do the same: delegate at least two tasks to their direct reports each quarter. And this trickles down the whole organization. The result is greater executive productivity and greater workforce empowerment. You create leaders by distributing leadership.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
I was running a telecom software company and we devised and developed a groundbreaking new service. Basically we took Caller ID to its logical extreme: instead of just providing the phone number and name of a caller as the phone rang we provided everything known about that phone number and the person or business associated with it. We were convinced this would have tremendous value and so we didn't spend much time asking our customers what they thought. When we launched it some customers were intrigued by it while many others thought it was creepy. Only one customer, a large insurance company, used it heavily and when we asked them why, their answer surprised us. They only cared about one simple piece of additional information we were providing and it was a huge benefit for them to get it when they received a phone call. We were sending more than 500 fields of information along with the call and they cared about only one. We had complicated our product, taken several extra months to develop it, and increased our cost based on our own assumptions. Had we spoken to our customers first we could have had a better, cheaper, more successful product out faster. I have never forgotten that lesson.