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92: Working in tandem: Jim Lyski and Shamim Mohammad of CarMax

92: Working in tandem: Jim Lyski and Shamim Mohammad of CarMax

(guitar theme song) – [Man] For all of us it’s
about predicting where the consumer’s going and
getting half of it right. – [Woman] One of the things we wanna do is create ads that don’t suck. – [Nasal Man] Embracing change
creates great possibility. – [Alan] I’m Alan Hart, and
this is Marketing Today. Today on the show I’ve got Jim Lyski, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at CarMax, as well as Shamim Mohammad,
Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at CarMax. CarMax is the US’s largest
retailer of used vehicles. While Jim leads all the
marketing activities at CarMax as well as product functions, Shamim leads information technology and the data infrastructure
behind those activities. These two guys are well-documented in terms of their
collaboration, their teamwork, the ways that they’re
adapting and adopting Agile and Lean methodologies
to run their businesses and drive collaboration among their teams. What we do today is we go a little deeper in terms of where those disagreements are, how they manage through those conflicts, how do they tackle talent development in an ever-increasing Agile environment, and how do they plan for the long-term? We find out today that both of these guys are from very humble beginnings. Very different beginnings,
but very humble beginnings. And I think it plays out
in terms of the trust that they put into each other, as well as their fellow
executive team members and the teams themselves
that they lead every day. I hope you enjoy today’s show with Jim Lyski and Shamim
Mohammad from CarMax. Well, welcome to the show, guys. – [Shamim] Thank you, Alan. We’re looking forward to the conversation. Thanks for having us. – [Alan] It’s great. Well, let’s start off. Your relationship has been
well-documented, I would say, and we’ll get to that in a few minutes, but I thought it would be fun to start off and just get to know each of
you as people a little bit. Where did you guys grow up? And did you always see
yourselves where you are today? As CIO and CMO of CarMax? – [Jim] Yeah, Alan, I’ll start
because mine’s pretty mundane compared to Shamim’s exotic past. So I grew up in Portland,
Oregon on a farm. A raspberry and strawberry farm. And I had no idea that there
were even corporate jobs. I just thought, oh, go
to work every morning and work all day and go
home and have dinner. And so I had no idea
that I’d end up anywhere similar to where I am right now. – [Shamim] So I was
actually born and raised in a small village in Bangladesh. So, interesting thing about that place was there was no electricity,
there was no running water, and no television. So growing up there, it
was very hard to imagine that I would be in my current role. However, what I did know that someday I’ll be doing something very different. Because most of my friends
that I used to play with, their goal was to join their family’s farm and was really spend rest of
their lives in the village. Obviously, I didn’t do that. So when I was in middle school, we ended up moving to the city, and I became fascinated
by science and technology. And that’s when I
decided to come to the US and go to college. And then over the last 20-some years, being very much fascinated by technology and how technology can drive
transformation and innovation. That’s what I’ve been focused on, that’s what got me to where I am today. – [Alan] That’s great. So I’m curious, since you
guys do work so well together, did you have brothers growing up? – [Jim] I am the oldest of four and the other three are all women. So no. (Alan laughs) – [Alan] That’s much like me. But yeah, (laughs) Shamim, did
you have brothers growing up? – [Shamim] Yeah, so I’m
the oldest of four as well, however I do have a
brother who is the youngest in the family. – [Alan] Interesting, interesting. All right. Well, like I said earlier, your relationship and
partnership’s been well-documented whether it’s or CIO Magazine. And you’ve talked a lot
about how you work together. But I’m curious, how
do you resolve conflict when it comes up? It has to come up, I would imagine. – [Jim] Yeah, look, we believe
that good, healthy conflict is actually productive
for both our relationship and the organization because it really gives the
company an opportunity to listen to two competing views. We argue passionately for what we believe. But the way we end up
resolving the conflict is first we both have the same objective. We have a unifying metric
here, and that is to either sell more cars or buy more cars, and we’re very aligned on that. But when we have different views on how to approach that objective, we, you know, air it out, listen, and one of us may change
his mind, but if not, we sit down and talk with
the rest of the senior team and whatever the decision
is, we salute and go and get the job done after that decision. – [Shamim] So I would just
add to that, you know, having a very open and
collaborative culture at CarMax makes it easier to deal with
a conflict like Jim mentioned. We frequently meet, we have, you know, we discuss different topics, we’re regularly interacting
on various issues. So all those things make it extremely easy whenever we have a major
conflict that we have to discuss because it’s, you know, at most cases not a surprise to any of us, so that also makes it easier because nobody’s getting
blindsided on any critical issues. – [Alan] Interesting. Well, I know CIO and CMOs are, they need to be working together. But I thought it’d be interesting to see, well, what do you not collaborate on? – [Jim] Yeah, you know,
there’s actually quite a bit that we don’t collaborate on. We of course have many
things that we intersect, but we both have
accountabilities that the other just basically takes a hands-off approach. So in my sense, I’m accountable
for PR, as an example. I’m accountable for
producing our creative, whether that’s commercials or digital ads. I’m accountable for
the marketing strategy. And on those things, Shamim’s aware of, but I don’t really go seek his input. If he does have strong beliefs
or thoughts on a thing, I’m more than happy to listen. But I’ll ignore him and
do what I wanna do anyway. (Alan laughs) – [Shamim] So just like
Jim, I have, obviously, the responsibility to
support and run, you know, a company with 25,000 people
so all the technology, the infrastructure, the platforms, everything has to run
efficiently and flawlessly. So that’s a big part of my responsibility. But there lot of stuff
that we do intersect and we work together and
collaborate on those things. – [Alan] That’s great. Well, you’re known for having adapted the Agile method of working. And Agile’s great at really
moving the ball forward on kind of what I would
traditionally know as kind of broken-down or small tasks. Partly a part of a bigger project. But how do you manage the
big change that takes time or things that are hard to
break down into sprints? – [Jim] Let’s see. I would say that Agile really works better on the bigger problems. It sounds like it only works
on the little problems, but the beauty of the Agile methodology is it takes risks out of the system. So what you do is you
run little experiments. You know, sometimes those last a sprint, maybe a couple sprints. A sprint in our case is about two weeks. You run this experiment by putting out some minimally-viable product,
and we call that an MVP. So you put an MVP out, you
get it front of the consumer, you see what the consumer does, and then you pull that insight forward to develop the next round. And you keep running these sprints. And so by the time you get towards the end of the finish line, you know this thing’s gonna work. You know there’s gonna be a
receptive market for this. Versus the Waterfall
methodology, you have no idea. You hope and pray (laughs) and you did a lot of
research on the front end, but you’re gonna release
something via the Waterfall in a big bang environment. And the risk is incredibly high versus when we roll something
out for national launch, the Agile methodology, we already know what the answer’s gonna be. We already can start
booking the performance on our balance sheet. I don’t know if you want
to add anything, Shamim. – [Shamim] Yeah, that’s
exactly right, Jim. So as a company, we have adopted Agile and Agile initiatives
in our product method is not just specific to the work that we’re doing in Marketing
and IT or anything else. It’s really as a company,
even non-technical areas we’re applying a lot
of the Agile practices for the same reasons
that Jim has mentioned. The one thing I would like to highlight is at CarMax, we’re doing Agile. But in some parts, we’re
also doing something called Dual-Track Agile, right? There’s a whole, going back to this whole
test-and-learn mindset, so our product teams,
they use Dual-Track Agile where they have a discovery track and they also have a delivery track. So discovery track is where
they’re testing and learning lot of new ideas and
concepts with the customers. And based on the response
of the customers, then we are actually
making them a real offering to the customers. So the Dual-Track Agile takes the Agile to a whole different level in terms of innovation and speed and just coming up with different ways to exceed the customer expectation. – [Alan] Right, can you explain, I’m not as familiar with Dual-Track. Can you explain just a little
bit more how that works? – [Jim] Yeah, so I think, I’ll give you an example of– – [Alan] Yeah, that’d be great. – [Jim] A couple products that we did. So we did a online finance
pre-approval product. And so we set up the team and
the Dual-Track methodology and basically here’s how it goes. We go out and do discovery. So we take a minimally-viable
product, a prototype, sometimes it’s just a
concept on a piece of paper, and we get it front of the consumer. We see how the consumer behaves. We feed that insight into
the development team. So you have the development
team, largely the engineers, sometimes, you know, with
some other associates engaged. And they are coding whatever
elements of the product that we have the new insight on. And while they’re doing that, we’re running the next
experiment that’s gonna be used to provide insight into their next sprint. And so it’s an overlapping sprint track that continuously feeds what’s going on. And then the insight doesn’t just flow from discovery to development. Sometimes in development,
we run into issues and opportunities that we feed back up into the discovery team, and they go out and test
those and get those concepts in front of the consumer. So it’s two separate
tracks that are intertwined at numerous points along the journey. Did I describe that well
enough for you to understand? – [Alan] Yeah, yeah, no, it’s fascinating. It actually helps me think about
new applications for Agile. I didn’t know that there was
such as thing as a Dual-Track. That’s interesting. – [Shamim] Yeah, so adding
on that one, basically, so again, we’ve taken Agile
to whole different level. It’s really because our
focusing on product orientation. Right? This is how we organized our
teams, how our folks work, and this Dual-Track Agile is
one of the fundamental ways these product teams operate. And by doing this, we’ve been able to accelerate innovation even more, right? So that’s been a big win for us. – [Alan] Well, so walk me through, and Jim, you did a little
bit of this already, but walk me through a team. You know, how it’s designed, who’s on it, how the objective is created,
how long does it live for? Maybe something that your, both your teams are working on together. – [Jim] Well, every product team has both of our teams engaged. So I’ll give you a visual and
a little bit of an example. So view a product team as an atom. So in the middle, you have this nucleus. The nucleus is always
comprised a lead developer, a product manager, and a lead
designer or a UX designer. Every one of our product teams has those three at the nucleus. And then view the electrons
flying around the outside as kind of form follows function. So if it’s a product that is
really engaged with the field, like our stores, we’ll bring in somebody
with field expertise. If it’s a financing product, we’ll bring in financing expertise. We’ll bring in multiple
developers if it’s a lot of coding that needs to be done to
drive the product to market. We’ll bring in marketing communications. We’ll bring in data scientists if it’s a database-driven product. And so all of that varies in very much a form follows function type of approach. So that’s the general
construct of the team. One thing I wanna make sure
you understand, though, is these teams are durable. So unlike project teams, like
let’s get the project done and disband the team. These teams stay together
for the long-run. And they’re durable for a couple reasons. One is it allows us to get out early prototypes, early iterations, because the team doesn’t feel
like they have to put out the perfect solution. They can keep putting out
iterations of a product and see the improvement. So once a product launches
now, since they are durable, they can continuously look at
how to improve that product for whatever metrics that
it’s driving towards. These teams are very autonomous. As leaders, Shamim and I
tell them why they exist and we tell them what the objective is. We do not tell them how. So if you think back
at like at Simon Sinek and how he describes
the whole power of why. We make sure they understand the why, we make sure they
understand the objective, but we give them complete freedom to figure out the methodology
to get to that objective. And so those are the major kinda
component parts of the team and Shamim, I dunno the elements I might have forgotten here. – [Shamim] I think Jim did a very good job at describing product
teams and how they work. One other big thing is the work
that these products teams do are highly visible and transparent. And we encourage them to
take chances and learn. And the visibility is not just,
you know, within the peers. It’s actually with the
senior executive team. So every couple of weeks, the product teams have open houses. Jim, myself, our other executive team, we attend those regularly. And we get to listen to
what the team has learned, how they’re approaching their
objective and key results, what approach they’re taking
to achieving their goals. All those things that we
have tremendous visibility. So a company of our size, having that level of
visibility and transparency into the work that our teams
are doing in our innovation is really, really rare, but at the same time, very
exciting for us to see that. – [Alan] That’s fascinating. I appreciate all the examples. I think they will all be
extremely helpful to listeners. I wanna change gears a little bit. You’re focused, you know,
heavily on customer experience. How would you, you know,
suggest other C-Suite leaders, whether they’re, you know, more technical, functionally, or marketing. And maybe those are not great analogies because marketing can
be very technical, too. But how would you tell
them to think differently about experience? – [Shamim] So the
customer experience focus really needs to be a part
of the company’s focus. It needs to be deeply integrated
into the company’s culture and everybody in the C-Suite
needs to be focusing on that. So if you, you know,
CarMax is a company, right? We were founded on
delivering high integrity, excellent customer
experience, from the get-go. This is why we exist. So that the experience is
really, really awesome. So that we haven’t deviated. What’s happening now is, we’re continuing to
enhance that experience throughout the product orientation, through innovative technology, so that we can continue
to drive that experience for our customers. And it’s a responsibility
for everybody in the C-Suite not just the CIO or CMO or COO. That’s what I would recommend
to other C-Suite executives because it needs to be
everybody’s business to do this. Not just one or two
executives of the company. – [Jim] Yeah, I think I would
just pile on on that thought with a couple additions. One is, we’re big believers in you can only affect what you measure. And so we measure the
experience extensively. So a net promoter scores
the tool that we use against all different
parts of our business. So for example, for people
who purchase a car from us, we have a net promoter
score that’s north of 80 which is world-class. It’s as good as the Apple Store. It’s as good as I mean, it’s actually
better than both of those. And we measure that for selling cars, buying cars, financing
cars, our website, etc, etc. And we build that in
into the CEO’s scorecard. So how the CEO gets
evaluated and compensated from the Board of Directors. So that’s how important it is to us. Then the other thing that we
do well and would recommend is walk a mile in your customer’s shoes. I mean, we are all
customers of our companies. And we make frequent
trips to the frontline, whether the frontline is our stores and selling or buying cars, or whether the frontline
is at CarMax auto financing and seeing how the financing
process takes place. But we are in the field constantly and I think that also
gives you a lot of empathy for where the consumer
is at any given time. So those are two other things I’d add to what Shamim already described. – [Shamim] Can I add just
one more thing to that? – [Alan] Yeah, go for it. – [Shamim] The customer-focused
is so critical, right, that when are sitting around the table and discussing an initiative, we always make a decision
that’s gonna favor the customer. That’s really how significantly
important it is for us as a company, as a culture. – [Alan] I like it. I like it. Any suggestions, I wanna
lay out a scenario. Let’s say I’m a CMO or a CIO. I’ve just inherited this role. It’s kind of a turnaround situation. The experience we know is bad
across lots of touchpoints. Any advice on how I would
prioritize where to start? I know it’s kind of
the worst hypothetical. – [Jim] Wow, yeah, I’ve, yeah. First, I hope they’re
compensating you well for taking such a crappy job. (all laugh) – [Alan] Hopefully, hopefully. – [Jim] Yeah, well, I’ll
tell you how I would start. The way I would start is first, what are the inherent
strengths of the company? Like, what does the company
do better than its peer set, or what does it have the potential to do better than its peer sets? Like, what are you really
gonna differentiate on? That’s where I would start. And I would hone that
strength significantly. Then I would move to where do you think is the biggest opportunity or
unmet need in the marketplace that your peer set isn’t delivering? So those would be a couple starts. I’ll give you an example for us. Shamim already covered
the excellent experience that we provide. But another kinda hidden
gem about CarMax is we have a massive data
advantage in our industry. We appraise over two million cars a year. We know information about those cars, where they end up selling, as an example. We sell over 700,000 cars a year. We have all the information
from the consumers who shop us. We have 20 million
website visits last month. I mean, all of this data and think about, all right,
if we have a data advantage, how do I monetize that? And so bringing in a data scientist team, figuring out how to
leverage machine learning or artificial intelligence to
further drive our business. How to personalize the
experience to a degree that’s never been seen in our industry. Those are some things in my example that I would look for
analogies or similarities in your hypothetical company.
– Okay. – [Shamim] And the problem is, CIO perspective, Alan, I would say, is that the first thing
the CIO needs to do is very quickly get
alignment and get the C-Suite fully on-board with the
need for a fairly sizeable or significant transformation
for the business. Companies that are probably struggling, one of the major reasons
might be the technology that have served them well probably is now becoming
an impediment for them for driving customer experience. So with that focus, they
need to relay the platform, they need to organize
the teams the right way, and they need to get the whole company behind this massive transformation because that’s the only way
they can turn things around. Doing the way things
have been done repeatedly is not gonna give them
the success they need. So that would be my advice to the CIO. And good luck to him or her. – [Alan] (laughs) Thank
you both for the examples and riffing there with me on
that hypothetical example. Hopefully it’s helpful
to some folks out there. You know, we talked about teams. We’ve talked about the Agile process and that there’s this nucleus,
this atom, if you will. I think that’s a great visual. How do you think about talent
and talent development? Getting those folks both upskilled to take on that responsibility and nurture them going forward? – [Jim] Well, we view talent
like a lot of companies. That it is the absolute
critical success factor and we put an extraordinary
amount of energy into finding the right talent. We definitely start at cultural
fit beyond anything else. We’ve been a America’s
Best Company to Work For I believe for 14 years in a row. So you can’t do that without just a significant cultural advantage. And we wanna make sure that
we are doing everything we can to continue that. So what’s where we start. Then we look at the, kinda like the IQ and attitude of our candidates. Those are two things
you can’t teach, right? Whatever IQ I come to work with today is probably what I’m leaving with. And either you’re a can-do or
a can’t-do kind of attitude and so those are two things
that we kinda make sure that our associates clear the bar on. Then there’s certain roles
where you just have to have technical competency whether that technical
competency is within, you know, marketing and communications or in information technology,
development, programming, etc. You have to have some of that. The way we look at it is
like analogous to a team, like a basketball team. You don’t want five point guards and you don’t want five centers and you don’t want five power forwards. You need a mix. And the mix is extraordinarily important. And so we make sure that
we have those capabilities that are complementary in place. And then lastly I’d say, we
spend most of our time on making sure that they know
where they’re going and why and then empowering them,
as Shamim mentioned earlier, to achieve the objectives
set forth in front of them. – [Shamim] So I think Jim covered a lot of the key areas already. Just a couple of more
things to add to that. First of all is creating an
environment where these folks or these talent feel like they can grow. And it’s safe for them to test and learn and really make a difference. So that’s what we’ve been able to do. By doing that, actually, we’ve been able to attract
talent from local markets and we also have been
able to attract talent from different parts of the country. Because CarMax is doing
some innovative work, and we’re using technology
and the way we’re organized, we’ve even been able to get
talent from Silicon Valley. You know, people move from San Francisco to Richmond, Virginia, to work for CarMax because they felt we’re
doing lot of innovative work. So that’s really the key. I know that the technology folks, they are very driven by
their ability to make impact and innovate. And that’s really what we
have created at CarMax. – [Alan] That’s great, thank you. Thank you for both of that. I’m curious, has the tight relationship between the two of you influenced your other business partners? Either externally or internally? (laughs) It may be a weird question, but you think anyone’s feeling left out? – [Shamim] I don’t think so. I think clearly by the nature
of the work we’re doing, Jim and I, and actually we have our incoming Chief Operating Officer. The three of us will have
a lot of interactions because our worlds intersect
quite frequently and regularly. With other executives of the team, because we are aligned at
the highest possible level, the goal and focus on customer experience, they’re actually supporting
us in all this efforts. So, let’s say our Chief
Human Resource Officer, without her help, we
wouldn’t be able to get all the talent we need and the changes that we’re going through. Our General Counsel, helping
us with all the contracts and vendors and all the
stuff that we’re doing, we wouldn’t be able to do it. So I think there is a tight partnership between myself and Jim and
Ed Hill, our incoming COO, but also a broader relationship
and partnership going on at the C-Suite at CarMax. And partly because also this
is how we operate as a company. This is part of our culture
that we collaborate. Jim? – [Jim] Shamim said it. Well, I don’t think anybody’s jealous. I think everybody’s thankful
that Shamim takes up so much of my time, they
don’t have to deal with me. (all laugh) That’s probably the more
accurate question for you. – [Alan] That’s hilarious. That’s hilarious. I was curious. I mean, one of the
things that comes through is that there’s this just
baseline level of trust that I think, one, you
two guys operate with of each other. But it sounds like the
entire executive team, any thoughts on how to recreate
that in other settings? Or tips on what makes it so good? – [Jim] Yeah, that’s a
really good question. So let me decompose it just a little. We’ve talked a lot about collaboration. We don’t really look at ourselves as a highly collaborative leadership team. We actually look at ourselves as a team. So in sports, nobody talks about
a team being collaborative. They talk about being winning
or excellent or something. And that’s what we look at ourselves at. We have a unifying metric,
like a sports team. Theirs is the scoreboard,
ours is sales and earnings. We are highly communicative. And I think that’s at the key. That’s something that’s probably different from some of the CIO-CMO
relationships that exist out there, that we basically talk every day, and for multiple times
every day, frequently. And so that communication
of where everybody is, what are they doing,
what are they working on, and just like a team, we don’t
all work on the same thing. We don’t sit around
collaborating on Internet or corporate security. I mean, we all know Shamim’s got it. We support him on it. We trust him. And that trust that you mentioned, that’s at the heart of a team
versus a high-performing team. And the greater trust
that you can pull through between the members of a team, the higher performing
they have a chance to be. And I think you see that in sports and you see that in businesses and you see that in almost any
other kind of team setting. And the only way you really get that trust is through frequency of interactions and frequency of deliverables that we can count on each other for. So that’s the way I would look at it. – [Shamim] And I would just add that the trust really comes from
the confidence on each other and each other’s ability
to get things done. And also that each other understands our each other’s perspective. So what I’m very, I feel very fortunate that I have a CMO partner
who is very tech-savvy. He understands data,
he is very intelligent as it relates to leveraging technology to drive marketing effectiveness. And I feel good that I also have very good solid understanding of marketing. So by understanding each other’s needs and where we’re coming from, I think it makes it
easier, for me at least, to say, okay, Jim making a recommendation, perhaps that is the best
interest for the company and it’s the best thing to do. So having that confidence
really is very helpful as we make decisions. And just having that competent people in the leadership roles who have a good track record and who you know have your back is really where the trust comes from. – [Alan] I like it. Well, thank you. Thank you both. So I wanna step back from this and we’ve got a series of
questions that I love asking folks just to get to know you as
individuals a little bit more. And I love starting off with, you know, is there an experience of your past that either defines or
makes up who you are today? – [Shamim] You know, Alan, that’s a very interesting question. So let me deflect on that a little bit. I’ve been very fortunate coming to where I have been able to come in my career and in life, coming from, you know, this
rural village in Bangladesh, Which I look back, a couple of things that probably define me the most. Number one is just
because where I came from, it always focuses me on what’s possible. And surmounting all these seemingly impossible situations, right? So when I came to the US, I
didn’t even speak English. I didn’t know a single person. Here I am, very fortunate to work with this amazing group of people in an unbelievably awesome culture, right? So that didn’t happen by accident because I’ve been able to do that by always focusing on what’s possible and going for something
that seemed impossible. So that’s one thing from
a personal perspective I think that helped. The second thing I would say is my experience working at a company called TravelClick in Chicago was a defining experience
for me and my career. TravelClick was in a marketing
technology kinda business. I was employee number five and over the next seven
or so years I was there, we grew that company to be over 500. So I had to build
everything from ground up. And I was doing that while
I was going to grad school. I was getting my MBA in marketing, operation management, and
entrepreneurship from Kellogg, one of the, a good school for marketing.
– A great school. – [Shamim] So that experience of working in a start-up environment where everybody was doing everything
they can to be successful, great team environment,
like Jim has described. We don’t really care who is doing what, we say okay, we just
need you to get it done and deliver results for the business and make the company successful. So that mindset, that
attitude, that behavior, are what’s, I believe, I
took from that experience to rest of my jobs. And that’s what made me who I am today. And this is why how I operate
here at CarMax, right? Because I’m focused on
delivering business results, driving innovation, and I
wanna challenge the team to come up with creative solution. I don’t believe there are roadblocks. I believe a lot of roadblocks
are something in our mind. We can really work on those. So that mindset has really helped. Another thing I think defined from CarMax, I mean TravelClick’s experience was building a solid team and relying on them and making them, positioning
them for success, right? So all those characteristics
of a start-up, successful start-up company is what I have ingrained in my leadership
style over the years, and thus how what I’m
doing here at CarMax. – [Alan] That’s great. Jim? – [Jim] I don’t know if
there’s any singular experience in my past on a personal level. I think you’re just a
culmination of every little event and as we mentioned, I grew
up with a bunch of sisters, a single mom, and not a lot of luxuries. And I think that makes an
initial impression upon you. And then professionally, I
think I had the good fortune to work at FedEx. That was a very much a
people-driven company. They put a lot of
emphasis on their talent. And I learned how to be a servant leader. I learned basically that my job was to provide some direction and then give my associates a
opportunity to be successful, create a really good environment for them. So I believe that those
would be two examples, but there’s literally
hundreds of examples. – [Alan] That’s great, thank you. Thank you, thank you. What fuels you guys? What drives each of you? – [Shamim] So what drives me is solving really complex, heavy
problems and overcoming them. That’s one thing. And because the reason I like that is because that forces me
to think out of the box, it forces me to be creative, it brings out the best in a
team to solve those problems, and also this is how we
innovate and we come up with solutions that other, nobody
else has thought about before and everybody learns
through that experience. So that’s what I look for always. Give me big problems, I can learn, always. – [Jim] On this one question, Shamim and I are completely aligned. The harder the problem, the
more creative you have to be and that’s the kinda work
that have in front of us and that’s why we really enjoy solving these two things together. – [Alan] I don’t know why
I thought you would be not aligned on something here. (all laugh) So, you know, stepping back from CarMax, are there brands or
companies or even causes that you follow, you think
others should take notice of? – [Shamim] Yes, I have passion
for start-up companies. And it’s because of my
experience at TravelClick. I remember every decision I was making that could have made or
broken the company, right? So that was the stake working there. I loved that mindset where people are taking ownership, where people are rolling up their sleeves and getting things done and making things happen. So this is why I spend lot of time talking to start-up companies. We do something at CarMax
called Digital Safari where we go to the West Coast
or other parts of the country, we’ve been to Boston
and a few other places, where you can spend focus time with smaller start-up
innovative companies. There’s so much you can learn from it, and so much we learn that
we bring back to CarMax and apply it here. A lot of the things we discussed today, the product orientation,
the Dual-Track Agile, just this innovation mindset, all of those are the ideas
that are being employed by very successful start-up companies. So that’s where I get my inspiration from. That’s where I get my good ideas from. I think most companies need to
be focused on remaining like and running like a start-up company. The moment a company
becomes too big to move, to slow to make decisions, then long-term, their
future may not be as bright. – [Jim] Yeah, I’m probably on
the other end of the spectrum. I like watching big
companies try to evolve and seeing them try to reinvent themselves or enter new markets. And so as an example, I’m
fascinated by what CVS is doing. So they gave up a huge revenue stream in selling tobacco products,
as an example, a few years ago, because they want to be a health company. And then they made a potential
acquisition of Aetna. – Right.
– Which I think that’s gonna be another
reinvention of this company. And then if they bring in some big data, because they have that purchase data, and the pharmaceutical data, and they bring in the health side, the insurance data with Aetna, I think they really have a
chance to position themselves as a very consumer-friendly
personalized health brand, and that’s, 10 years ago that’s
not what they were. (laughs) They’re selling cigarettes,
bubble gum, and sodas. And that would quite an
evolution of a brand. And so brands that are going through that and looking at what the macro
trends are in the marketplace and figuring out how they
can take their key strengths and leverage those trends. Those are pretty interesting to me, and that’s really what
we have in front of us. We have a consumer who
is eventually gonna be doing quite a bit of their
car buying process online, or e-commerce, and
they’re gonna be looking for trusted partners to
be able to deliver that. And we intend to win that market and to leverage off the
strengths we have as with a great physical footprint, a great consumer experience,
a great data advantage, and turn that into kinda
the next generation or the next disrupter in our industry. – [Alan] I like it. I like it. Well, last question for you both. What do you think the
future of marketing holds or looks like? – [Jim] Shamim, what is
the future of marketing? (all laugh) – [Alan] I’ve always wanted
a CIO to answer that. – [Shamim] Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, the
future is now actually, where customers are in the driving seat and they want full control. They want to own their experience and they want companies to make it easy and simplest for them. How we do that is what Jim just mentioned. It’s really taking advantage of the data. Taking advantage of the information the customer’s already sharing with us and using that information to
make the customer’s experience far, far superior in ways that they, customers can’t even imagine. But they know, they
feel it, when we do it. So that’s really the future of marketing. It has to be done through machine learning done through artificial intelligence, done through effective use of data. I think that’s, the companies
need to do that effectively to remain successful. And that’s the future. – Thank you.
– Yeah, I would, this time, Shamim’s probably right again. I really think the next
traunche of great marketing is going to be how do you deliver a personalized experience
in a way that is going to surprise the consumer? And that’s what we intend to do and I think the big winners in marketing are the ones that are gonna
be able to demonstrate that. Personalization to a
degree that’s surprising. And that’s what the consumer
would love right now and it’s probably what
they’re gonna demand within the next few years. – [Alan] Love it. Well, thank you both so much
for coming on the show today. – [Jim] Alan, thanks for having us. We really appreciate you
listening to our ramblings on this topic, so.
(Alan laughs) – [Shamim] Thank you, Alan. Really appreciate the opportunity. The one thing we, Jim and I,
do not, are not aligned on, one is the football teams we support. So he and I have totally different teams. And we’ll never align on that. – [Alan] Well, I had this image of, so I don’t know if you’re basketball fans, but I had this image of you two being on the same basketball team where, I don’t know if, you know,
size match-up wise makes sense, but Jim sounds more like
the center of the team and Shamim, you sound like
a small power forward. So, you know. (Jim laughs) There’s a lot of passing going on down low and then it sounds like Jim
most likely kicks out to you for the big shot every once in a while. So I thank you both for coming on. – I appreciate it.
– Thank you. – [Alan] Have a good day. (guitar theme music) – Marketing Today is
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analysis, and creativity. Check us out at A-T-O-M-C-K dot com. (guitar theme song) Hi, it’s Alan again. Marketing Today was
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