We chat to Glenn Manoff, SVP of communications & brand from Trustpilot about their rebrand after 11 years of Trustpilot, scaling up and getting better to ‘decide fast, learn fast, evolve fast’.
Please explain who you are, what your business is, and what it does/aims to achieve?
My name is Glen Manoff, I’m part of the team that’s building Trustpilot into the world’s most powerful review platform, and we’re well on our way. We’re a place online where every consumer can share their experience with a company and every company can invite and respond to their customers. By doing so in a free, open and collaborative environment we’re helping people fulfill their desire to shape and improve their world and companies to innovate and improve faster. Our mission is pretty simple but incredibly powerful: to bring consumer and companies together to create ever-improving experiences for everyone. I’ve led on our global rebrand which just went live.
What time does your day usually start and end?
I usually get up at 6:30 am so I can stretch for 45 minutes and see my kids before school, then cycle 60 minutes to the office, shower there and at my desk a little after 9am. I tend to be last in the office – I use the time to catch up on the emails I didn’t get to during a typically frenetic day, think and write. Then home at about 8:30 pm.
What is your favourite part of your job and what is your least favourite part?
By far the best part of my job is the people I work with both in my team and right across the company. We’re rapidly ‘scaling up’ globally and our mission to create ever-improving experiences for everyone is something that inspires and unites everyone and helps us attract talented people who are smart, passionate and fun to be around. The worst? That’s easy – email overload!
What inspired you to join the business?
Our founder and CEO Peter Mühlmann. Within five minutes of meeting him for the first time, I was hooked.
Where did the idea for the revamped brand come from?
We were founded in 2007 so this gave us a natural inflection point last year to start thinking deeply about how the world had changed during our first decade (an eternity in internet time!) and what insights and ideas would define our success in our second decade.
We knew we had to speak to hundreds of people – customers, employees, thinkers, experts – and boil those learnings down to one or two simple, powerful insights to build our strategy and their verbal and visual expression to life. It was a year’s process from start to finish
What has been the biggest challenge for your business?
Having reached a critical mass of more than $50 million turnover and over 600 people, we’re now a ‘scale up’ not a ‘start up’. That means that almost everything we’ve done to make us a success up to now has to be re-imagined. That means a shift not only in systems and processes but culture.
What do you feel are the biggest obstacles to growth for SMEs in the UK?
Well, Brexit obviously creates huge uncertainty for the next two years at least and that’s an economic overhang that affects all businesses, but SMEs the most. Brexit aside, every SME has the huge task of figuring out how to innovate and differentiate faster than huge behemoths like Amazon who have scale advantages in every area of eCommerce.
Have you made any mistakes along the way and how did you overcome them/learn from them?
Of course, hundreds! It’s a huge cliche but true nonetheless that mistakes are the raw matter that feed innovation and growth. Everyone says ‘fail fast, learn fast’ but it’s easier said than done. One specific mistake we’ve made in this regard is spending too long making certain decisions for fear of getting them wrong when our behaviour really should be ‘decide fast, learn fast, evolve fast’. We’re getting better at this – it’s a journey.
What previous experiences helped you in the rebranding process?
Specific relevant experience from other rebrands really helps. For example, I was fortunate to be part of the team that launched the O2 brand as well as The O2, and I spent 10 years building them up to really stand out. Previous experience in the fields of PR, employee engagement, public policy, and social business & CSR were also invaluable building blocks.
What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to anyone facing the same challenges?
If you’ve become more worried about protecting what you’ve already built than forging the path ahead then you’re probably in trouble, even if you don’t know it yet.
Would you do anything differently if you could start again from scratch?
Two things. First, I’d spend even more time engaging, involving and listening to colleagues from every area of our company. Second, I’d spend even more time talking to interesting thinkers from outside our company. You can never do enough of either. The magic comes from the alchemy of the two.
What do you do to relax away from the hustle and bustle of work?
Cycling an hour to and from the office is precious personal time for me so I protect it ferociously whatever the weather (icy roads are the only exception). On weekends in spring and summer I coach youth sport (baseball in my case) and love being outdoors, working with young people and exercising.
What would you be doing if you weren’t working in a startup?
I started my career as a teacher and would love to end my career as a teacher too.
Do you manage to achieve a good work/life balance?
I work long hours and travel part of most weeks, but I still say yes. If you don’t love your work and it’s not tied to a bigger purpose it’s almost impossible so that’s the place I start. I’ve also been lucky to have the opportunity to build a team of people I really enjoy being around and always learn from. And I’m pretty strict about not letting social media and email take over my family time.