Dana's Life 1.0
I am a California girl. There is something about the title that elicits the idea of sunshine, fun, and bold personalities. I even had a "Killer Dana" bumper sticker on my car back-in-the-day. It came from the iconic Killer Dana Surf Shop in nearby Dana Point, California. I used it to bluff myself and others into thinking I was part of the “cool kids' group.” It was my anchor to generate self-confidence and show the world that I belonged.
In truth, I was shunned as a misfit and ridiculed every single day from elementary school to high school graduation. I did not understand why I was targeted, but I wanted to learn what was “wrong” with me and loved digging into the human psyche. So, ten years after high school, I gained enough self-confidence and the means to go to college.
To my surprise—having never excelled in school—I graduated Cum Laude, earning a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. I also made the university's President’s List, became a member of several Honor Societies, and learned to make myself marketable by minoring in Marketing. My educational path fortuitously set me up for a career in Customer Success. Whether I realized it or not, it taught me the psychological drivers and marketing strategies that can lead to success around customer adoption, retention, expansion, and advocacy. But that was not the only part of my educational journey.
UPGRADING TO 2.0
Catastrophic Car Accident
It led to the loss of my relationship with my significant other, my apartment, and the ability to drive. While in recovery, I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life. A girlfriend motivated me to teach English abroad, joking, “If my life blew up in smoke and nothing held me back, I’d go. Go so that I can live vicariously through you!”
So, I did! I went to Madrid, Spain, with a new teaching credential under my belt and all my earthly belongings in two suitcases.
For about a year and a half, I was an outside account executive for Groupon. While traveling on-the-job, I was involved in a catastrophic car accident, T-boned across a small highway by what felt like a Mack Truck. This tragedy left me hospitalized, suffering PTSD, and in long-term physical therapy.
MY AHA! MOMENT
CREATED TO MAKE
That was my “Aha!” moment, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I discovered two things. First, I was never built to sell. I was created to make a difference. I recognized that the “turn ‘em and burn ‘em” and “buyers are liars” mentality that many of my employers fed me was soul-crushing. It was only after I did the meaningful work of teaching and leading others to knowledge that I understood I finally belonged. I saw how my students needed me and teaching them gave me purpose. I also realized if I can run a successful teaching business in a foreign country, I can run one anywhere.
LIFE IN MADRID
Less than a year after moving to Madrid, I ran a successful English teaching practice, coaching professional Madrilenos who worked for the Ministry of Health, United Nations, Europol, Mars, L’oreal, Eli Lilly, JCDecaux, KPMG, Conde Nast, Telefonica International, Allianz, and Real Madrid Club de Futbol.
After a particularly memorable private English lesson with a student whom I enjoyed teaching, I posted this on Facebook:
MY NEW JOURNEY
Dana's Life 2.0
With my new life’s purpose metaphorically in tow, I asked myself, “Where should I go next?” I chose South Korea. Why not? However, life had other plans. During the application process to my new chosen destination, I received a call.
It was a former customer named Dave, whom I had known ten years prior when I worked in Artist Relations and Sales at a professional audio equipment company.
His conversation and offer transformed my life yet again.
Let’s call it Dana’s Life 2.0.
And it led to the most significant “Aha!” moment of them all.
Here's the abbreviated version of that wacky conversation I had with Dave:
💬DAVE: “I built a software-as-a-service platform, and I’ve always had you in mind to be my Director of Customer Success. I can finally bring you aboard. Are you interested?”
💭ME: “You built a what? I live in Spain. You want me to move back to the States? And what is Customer Success?”
(After that, all I remember was…)
💬DAVE: “Dana, it’s what you’ve been doing your entire life.”
MY CUSTOMER SUCCESS
Trial by Fire
His convincing conversation motivated me to leave Madrid, move back to the U.S., and pursue the customer success profession. After over six years of working in the customer success field, I found myself doing diverse work. I was part of foundational teams that...
Built and operated a bootstrapped little-engine-that-could SaaS startup that scaled by 900%
Lead post-sale expansion efforts of a recently acquired growth-stage SaaS business with average MRR growth of 24%
Delivered revenue expansion increases of 5-20%, 78-98% adoption, and 98-100% and 8.1-8.5 retention and NPS scores, respectively.
...by unearthing and improving operational gaps for some of the heaviest hitters in business like:
Dun & Bradstreet: a $2B public-to-private-to-public data and analytics giant
GE Digital: the household name and IoT software-provider (eventually spun-off into ServiceMax)
IFS: a $700M Netherlands-based multinational SaaS, Cloud, and On-Prem enterprise software provider
And now I have come full circle in my journey and proved my previous customer, Dave, right. Now, I want to bring others along on the adventure into customer success. The SaaS economy is making customer success an imperative. Many companies realize they need it, and people want to be a part of it but don’t know where to start. This need and my experience put me in a powerful position to help in an unprecedented way that speaks to my values, professional drivers, and my teacher’s heart.
My VISION is to empower, educate, and serve those who need customer success direction, strategy, or delivery. That includes a straightforward path for:
Startups/Growth Stage SaaS companies: both Founders and executives
Customer Success Professionals: both current and new entrant-hopefuls
I am driven to create ever-evolving and continuously updated custom and out-of-the-box DELIVERABLES, such as:
Easy-to-understand strategies and tools
I have made it my MISSION to create specific paths to your desired outcomes by making the practice:
Easily understood, and
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