Key Takeaways from “Talk Data to Me,” Season 1

Rarely do we link data to storytelling. 

Instead, we link it to the boring chart on the fifth slide of the presentation, or the part of the article we skip, or our high school math teacher. And all of that is correct.

On the flip side, though, looking at data as a wealth of information — one that sparks questions, gives answers, and reveals patterns which ultimately help us arrive at meaningful insights — is equally as correct.

This is what the first season of ZoomInfo’s new podcast, Talk Data to Me, aimed to explore: What does data have to say? Whose story does it tell, and whose does it leave out? How can it be used to change the conversation — or start a new one?

This season’s guest list featured a range of experts who are both highly accomplished in the professional world and rich in life experience, giving us key takeaways that range from tactical business advice to broader wisdom that applies to us all.

“Just keep swimming.”

When the pandemic confronted Mike Volpe, CEO of travel company Lola, he lost 97 percent of his business and was forced to lay off half his staff. He was flooded with the fear and stress of remaining employees whose personal lives were, because of COVID-19, inevitably bleeding into the workplace.

There were a lot of things Volpe did to combat this, like brainstorming with colleagues on how to change business directions and reaching out to mentors. But the one thing he didn’t do was overthink.

Kristal Mallookis, who started a business at 19, and CEO Kathy Garfield, who was faced with immense adversity in the workplace due to being female, both agreed with Mike: Just keep swimming, even (and especially) when emotions are high.

Focus on the long term to yield better results.

In the quest to bring in more candidates of differing cultures and backgrounds, Debbie Tang, diversity recruiter and partner at Bridge Partners, sees a lot of companies prioritizing hiring over retention. They set goals to create a more diverse workforce, but don’t always build the infrastructure to maintain that roster.

Without giving diverse employees the tools they need to succeed within an organization and a clear path to get there, why should they stay?

Focusing on the long term over short term means committing to improving your company and creating a more inclusive environment for the long run.

It’s not what you have that matters — it’s what you do with it.

ZoomInfo found that companies use more than 75 digital tools on average. With marketing technology growing at an explosive pace, it seems that the emphasis on which tech we buy only continues to increase.

Scott Brinker, the man behind the Martec Supergraphic, an image that organizes marketing tech companies by logo, posits that although the tools we buy matter, what we do with it is more important.

Creatives have a place in corporate America.

At 19, Mallookis used her dream of becoming a dancer — and the community of performance and artist friends she had built as a result — to start Mustard Lane, a brand ambassador staffing agency that hires actors.

Rather than ask the actors to sideline their careers for her brand ambassador gigs, Mallookis works with their unpredictable schedules, even encouraging them to take any last-minute acting gigs that pop up.

By making her employees’ top priority her own, Malookis used Mustard Lane to build a bridge between corporate America and creative people that serves both sides equally.

Data drives insight.

Although our guests had varied responses to the data we presented them with, they all agreed on one thing: It told a story. 

Tang felt that the sudden uptick in diversity and inclusion execs caused by the events of 2020 spoke to the performative nature of diversity in corporate America.

Lori Sokol, executive director at Women’s eNews, was not surprised to hear our statistics on women in the workforce, but stressed the importance of breaking them down by industry.

Brinker pointed to the prioritization of data quality as one of the most prominent shifts he sees happening within marketing.

Overall, the first season of Talk Data to Me taught us a lot, but the ultimate takeaway was this: 

Data contains answers. 

And even when it doesn’t, it helps us ask smarter questions.

Listen to the first season of Talk Data to Me wherever you get your podcasts. For updates on future seasons, make sure to subscribe.