Jan Svoboda is the CEO and co-founder of Clever Monitor, an AI marketing and automation software company.
We caught up with him to find out how he came to be a part of Clever Monitor, how jet surfing and skiing help him do his job effectively, and why he likes to keep it “old school” despite being the head of a tech company.
(For a wealth of facts and commentary about marketing careers and development, subscribers can download Econsultancy’s Career and Salary Report 2019).
Please describe your job: What do you do?
As CEO, my job is to make sure that everyone working here is aware of the big picture and understands our strategy. I am in charge of keeping people motivated and boosting energy levels.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
I am one of the co-founders, CEO, and Chairman of the Board in our London HQ. I report to our investors, shareholders and customers.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Excellent communication skills so that I communicate my vision correctly and people understand it, being a patient listener so I can listen to new ideas, and most importantly: a problem solver. The buck stops with me.
Having a calm head and the ability to handle stress effectively is essential while making decisions. This can be exhausting and draws a lot of energy. Although it’s not a skill, being physically active keeps me mentally alert. I include different kinds of sports activities such as jet surfing and skiing in my routine to help me regain my energy levels and manage stress.
Tell us about a typical working day…
It’s vital to have a fresh body and mind, and hence I like to start my day with a healthy breakfast. When in office, I begin by meeting with my management team and colleagues taking a download of all the on-going projects. This gives an idea of how we are doing in terms of our short-term goals and if they are in line with long-term goals.
Then I am usually off to networking or business lunches. This gives me an opportunity to connect with potential clients and other inspiring business people. It is really good to hear how others are addressing specific issues in their businesses and listen to any advice which they have to offer.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
The best thing about my job is working around a product that I really believe in, and with people, I thoroughly enjoy working with. I have worked with a few team members for years now. In the corporate world, one is usually fulfilling someone else’s dream, but here I am following my dreams, together with my team members.
What sucks? With many things, I am on my own. No-one can help me out with solving some issues, and this includes delivering crucial decisions when needed. I am accountable for the whole company, and that’s a big responsibility. There is always a pressure that at any moment something could go seriously wrong, and people will lose their jobs.
This is something that actively motivates me to maintain a steady course of the company and accomplish our goals. It’s not only about me anymore – it’s about us, our team and their families, their futures as well.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Our goals for the next two years are clear and well laid out: focus on international expansion with our new software, and secure strong investors to invest in our business and help us expand.
For me personally, success is not measured in money. It is the constant growth of the company and employees who work with the same enthusiasm and passion day after day.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Although I’m the leader of a technology company, for me personally, one of the most essential tools I still use is my Moleskin diary. I’m a pen and paper guy.
It might sound old-school, but for me, the most important management tool is face-to-face interaction with my team. It just works better, at least for me. Face-to-face management gives me the option to convey the energy, spirit and enthusiasm that our management shares. This is something that email or Slack won’t be able to provide.
How did you end up at Clever Monitor, and where might you go from here?
Clever Monitor approached me around four years ago. They had a very small team but had some big and exciting ideas. I liked what they were doing, and we slowly started to converse every day, talking about the next course of action. The product was still in the blueprint stage, and therefore I had the chance to give direction to the business strategy. It worked, and I became a part of Clever Monitor.
Which brands, experiences or marketing do you admire?
I like Red Bull. They have created a loved brand that everyone knows via a connection between sport and the energy drink. This connection has created a bubble, that sells the product itself. Simple genius!
Do you have any advice for marketers unsure whether they should explore AI?
AI is becoming an integral part of the digital marketing mix. AI will save your time, give you valuable insights and help you streamline your marketing activities. AI is here; it would be a mistake to avoid it.