How to stay on top of your game from the Head of Sales at YouTube- Ruth McEntee
10th Jun 2017
Belfast’s St George's Market was transformed earlier this month, taking on the air of a Glastonbury for thought leaders, forward thinkers, and entrepreneurial types. With talks from giants such as Twitter, HubSpot and Google, to local pioneering businesses including Tomorrow Lab, Polemic Digital and Loud Mouth Media, the critical path analysis to ensure ‘must see acts’ were seen was challenging.
One act we all agreed to see together was Ruth McEntee from YouTube/Google who was celebrating her 11th year in the business, to the day. Ruth has held many positions within the business and is presently Head of Sales for Ireland, leading a team of consultants to engage with top Irish companies in the Travel and Retailing space and is also a chair of the IAB video council.
During her talk, amongst other insights, Ruth spoke of the staggering shifts in engagement via YouTube, now the second largest search engine in the world. Ruth predicted the future of social so convincingly, we suspected many left the tent already planning which unsuspecting colleague was soon to make their debut business promo video.
Giving us 10 minutes of her time, we asked Ruth some questions which we hoped would give job seekers, hiring businesses and determined career progressives some insight:
This event really highlights the importance of creative thinking and innovation. We’ve all heard a lot about Google’s focus on this importance, does this stretch company wide?
‘Absolutely, aside from ‘Google X’ (Googles 9-5 creatives) we see creativity in two ways: Disruptive Innovation, for example, your driverless cars, we have a couple of hundred people working on big disruptive projects. Then there’s incremental innovation; ‘how do I improve this process? How do I think more creatively about how to service this client? Etc. And we have structures set up to encourage that.
So one really famous example is the 20% project. We give one day a week to people to work on a ‘Passion Project’. This has been a brilliant channel for the creativity of each individual, which keeps them happy and motivated in the job, but as a business, some of our best ideas have come out of this. Famously, Gmail – so it’s a win-win.
We hire ‘smart creatives’. People who are highly intelligent, adaptable and have technical expertise, but they’re also people who have the passion to be creative, to build and to change, so you can’t not give them an outlet for that.’
It’s exam time soon, and of course, there will be those a little despondent that they haven’t achieved what they’ve wanted to. What would your advice be?
‘Exams are one thing, Passion is another. We really look for rounded people. We don’t look for the straight A student who’s never done anything else in their life. That recognition is a whole part of our hiring process, it’s called ‘Googleyness’. It’s giving value to those that have done charity work, run marathons, contributed to their local sports team. That is equally as important to us, there are 4 separate bits to that process.
So, if you’ve not done incredibly well in your exams then it’s important to remember that there are a lot of other factors to consider in how you contribute to a business and to highlight those.’
Is it true that you ask really crazy questions at Interview?
‘I do. Kidding, no we used to do it a lot more. Actually, it’s not fair. In some instances, the scenarios are so abstract that it’s impossible to interpret a definite meaning.
We do ask questions that are going to give an insight into how a person’s brain works. For example, don’t quote me (sorry Ruth):
‘How many people do you think are on the internet right now?’
This kind of question is much more telling of an individual's ability to estimate and consider factors that we could all be aware of, the people on the planet, different time zones, availability of internet etc. So yes, that type of question is much better than the old ‘If you could be any type of biscuit, curve balls’’
Do you have any tips on how to stay on top of your game? How do you cope with the pressure put upon you day to day?
‘I think it’s really important to manage your energy and to be conscious about that. If you’ve done a talk, for example, that takes a lot of energy to prepare. You may have had to work the night before and be mindful of ensuring you were gathering information in the weeks up to. So, I find that I have to make sure that I clear my head regularly. I’m a gym junkie, but I genuinely do feel that your physical health is inextricably linked to your mental health and your ability to perform well at work. I don’t always succeed very well at that, but I definitely try.’
From a business perspective, how much emphasis do you think should be placed on this?
‘Wellbeing is so important. We hire really smart people, they’re all ambitious, it’s a really high-performance environment and that can be overwhelming for some people. So we look to do things like build resilience, you’re actively encouraged to leave your desk.
For example, Dublin has 6000 people in the office, we have a swimming pool, a gym, there are classes during the day. Taking care of yourself is so important for the person & also for the long-term career that they have with us.’
Do you have any book recommendations for people wanting to get ahead?
‘Ok, this is a really obvious answer, but I really did take a lot from ‘Sheryl Sandberg, lean in’. There is a lot around the conscious awareness of the institutional barriers that exist for a woman, and that is great, however, I really valued the recognition of the barriers you put upon yourself as a woman. It’s made me a lot more intentional about career planning.’
In keeping with the theme of the day. What digital apps could you not live without?
‘Again, it seems really obvious, but Google Calendar. Balancing being reactive, productive, strategic and so forth is really difficult.
At Google, we are very open to ‘calendar hacking’, so anyone can log on to my calendar see where I am and book a meeting with me at any time. This is obviously great and encourages collaboration, but suddenly you can have 8 back to back meetings and a speech to prepare. So, I use it to actually categorise my thinking time, valuable me time, to allow me to keep progressing and achieving.’
I suppose, other than that, I do have a slight addiction to Uber – pretty sure half of my wages go to that.’
Do you have any tips on YouTube for small businesses who perhaps don’t have a big budget?
‘I don’t think it’s about production value, I think it’s about tapping into what people on YouTube are interested in and providing utility or value in some way. It could be entertaining, if your business lends itself to humour, as a brand that can work really well.
The example I always use is called E-spares. They sell spare parts to washing machines. They’ve created a wealth of videos about ways to fix things independently and what better way to engage the relevant market? It was such a good way to make the brand unforgettable.’
Thanks so much for your time Ruth, Happy work anniversary & we hope you’ve enjoyed your first visit to Belfast.
‘Thanks, guys. Yes, I don’t know how I have missed out being here before as my auntie is from Ballycastle, Feedback from Belfast is always great, it stands out with such an entrepreneurial spirit, way more so than other places we might visit. People here have such ambition and I love that, so today’s been great. We’re really looking forward to being up a little more.’
If you’re a sales or marketing professional seeking a new opportunity. Please contact me, Sarah call on 02890918525 or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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