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September 27, 2017

Meet Jim: VP, Product Marketing & Strategy - Making Marketing Look Easy

Congratulations on your return to Planet Portfolium, the only planet with an atmosphere comprised of personality and excellence! Our interviewee today will be Jim Milton, VP of Product Marketing and Strategy. Make sure your space suit is operational before you embark on this journey of Jim's life that will show you why he is so integral to our team!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is Jim's life like?

I fled New Jersey about 4 years ago after selling my startup to Oracle and haven't looked back East since. My dog, husband and I love pretty much everything about San Diego. Life and work tend to blur together, which is ideal for me because personal-life interests in philosophy and technology map to work-life responsibilities in strategy and business. My go-to media consumption consists of Bill Burr's Monday Morning Podcast, Waking Up with Sam Harris, and a variety of hardcore/punk on Google Play music. My caloric consumption consists of every beer and taco I can get my hands on downtown, including in the East Village where I live.

 

How did you get into product marketing?

I heard Jeff Wiener at LinkedIn once say, "we are the stories we tell." It struck me then that I wanted to shift away from telling stories (I was in sales at the time), to writing great ones.  Although I consider myself more of a generalist in business, the product marketing speciality more than others feeds my thirst to help define company and product narratives. It's a great role; a job that lots of folks want to do early in their careers, but to do well required an intuition that for me could have only come from connecting a variety of experiences in sales, product, and marketing.

 

Prior to wearing product marketing hats here at Portfolium and at SmartRecruiters, I did a mix of product management, product strategy, and product marketing at Oracle and SelectMinds. Before all of that, I did sales and sales management at LinkedIn and TheLadders.com. In the beginning, I was a college dropout founder/CEO of a digital music startup circa 1999- the original "dot-com" boom. I also happen to be a bit of a smart-ass who from childhood has enjoyed telling stories and making people laugh. Maybe that's where this all really began.

 

What’s the best piece of advice you've received?

Someone once persuaded me of the importance of asking the right questions, else one might spend all of their time solving the wrong problems. This changed my life because it helped me place my own strengths and weaknesses. The poorly understood and highly underrated domain of philosophy takes on the job of making creative guesses about what might be true or good. Anticipating interesting questions and untapped opportunities are what I try to contribute as a strategist. The faster I can give structure to the right questions - in the form of a product idea, market hypothesis, or even a bit of sales messaging - the faster my scientist partners can help me test them and close the loop with data. Science and philosophy need each other to explain what the world needs now, what we or our businesses ought to be, and how our products can best deliver. The power of deep explanations to help any person or organization reach its goals is, I believe, unbounded. For more on this topic, I recommend The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch.

 

What's your favorite thing about Portfolium as a company?

I work where I have the freedom to bet on myself, and if I win- the company wins. I work with others who are passionate about doing the same. Readers may already know from their professional travels that this level of alignment is rare. Winning personally doesn't always or often equate to helping your company win. But at Portfolium, there is just no such thing as a political or selfish win. There is no room for it. The culture doesn't permit it. The mission - connecting learning to opportunity for students - doesn't have time for it. If you want to experience the purest version of impacting the world directly through your work with no interference, you stop reading this and look at our open positions. That is, if you are ready to bet on yourself.

 

Favorite entry in my Portfolio?

This entry proudly reflects the work that the Portfolium dev team and I did to ship the first beta version of our employer product, which was a key proof-of-concept showing the world that Portfolium had the ability to match students work samples and projects to jobs and skills in demand by companies.

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