The Accidental Launch of CS in Focus

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The Launch of CS in Focus is a perfect example of how you can start down one path, and end up reaching a destination you never anticipated.

I ended up in the Venture for Canada fellowship program because I overheard my brother and a friend of his discussing it, and decided to apply.

After graduating, I took a Customer Success position without knowing much at all about the role, simply because I was terrified of Sales (though I am now over my fear).

Shortly after, I joined the founding team of the Venture Out conference because it was a cause I was passionate about. This turned out to be my first experience in event-planning and community-building.

After a year at that first company, a family member was having some severe health issues, and so when SeamlessMD reached out to me, I jumped at the chance to get into healthcare and take on a role building out their Customer Success program.

After a year at SeamlessMD, I began speaking at different events, and people started reaching out to me for phone calls and coffee chats. I soon became bored answering the same questions about Customer Success over and over again, so I wrote an eBook The Beginner’s Guide to Customer Success to send to people in advance of coffee meetings, thereby allowing us to have a richer conversation in person.

My friend and mentor Erin Bury then suggested I have a small launch event for the book, just to increase awareness and drive some downloads of the eBook. I put out some feelers, began reaching out to other leaders in the Customer Success space, and that “small launch party” turned into a large event with lightning talks, a panel discussion, 180 attendees, and over 80 startups in attendance.

The feedback from this event was overwhelming.

It turns out that when you put 180 people in a room together whose job it is to build relationships, the connections and the results are quite astounding.

I began receiving even more coffee meeting requests, and people even began reaching out to ask if they could help me organize future events! Given how much fun I’d had at the first event, and how eager people were for more events like this, I decided to make things official, bring on a team of amazing people, and launch a community organization.

At our first meeting, we got to know each other, indulged in some pizza and Prosecco, came up with the name “CS in Focus” and we were off!

In the short-term, my goal with this organization is to help Customer Success professionals learn from each other, get more buy-in at their companies, and advance their careers. In the long-term though, my goal is to create a culture shift whereby we are all more focused on each other’s success than our own. True Customer Success means putting the success of the customer above all, and realizing that that is the best way for a company to achieve success. If we can adopt these practices into our daily lives, and focus more on helping each other be successful, I truly believe the world will become a much more positive place.

One of the biggest learnings I’ve taken from this whole experience is that it’s always best to steer into the skid. You never know what life is going to throw at you, so if you’re receptive and open-minded, you could end up somewhere you’d never even thought of.

Here are just a FEW of the “ifs” that I encountered, which led me to this point:

  • If I hadn’t overheard my brother’s friend, I would never have applied to Venture for Canada.

  • If I hadn’t joined Venture for Canada, I wouldn’t have met Jeanette Stock and joined the Venture Out founding team, gotten a role in Customer Success, or met Erin Bury.

  • If I hadn’t joined the Venture Out team, I wouldn’t have known how to put on events and build a community.

  • If I hadn’t gotten a role in Customer Success, I wouldn’t have had the experience to write an eBook.

  • If I hadn’t met Erin Bury, I wouldn’t have thought about putting on a launch party.

  • If I hadn’t put on the launch party, I wouldn’t have started CS in Focus.

I could go on and on, as I’m sure many of you can as well when you reflect back on why you are where you are today.

So here’s to many more twists and turns! I couldn’t be happier with where CS in Focus is today, and I can’t wait to see where it goes in the future.

Ben Winn