How to Increase Your Influence at Early Stage Companies with Claire Suellentrop
The Co-Founder of Forget the Funnel talks miscommunications, wasted work, and increasing your influence by focusing on soft-skills.
Hey - it's Andrew
We're in the middle of potty training my (almost) 3 year old. He doesn't seem interested and it's not going well. So if you have tips, please send them!
Otherwise, in this email you'll find highlights from my convo with Claire Suellentrop, co-founder of Forget the Funnel, marketing advisor, and SaaS veteran about increasing your influence at early-stage SaaS companies.
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3 words talented growth operators struggle to say:
"I don't know."
These three little words terrify my coaching clients. They assume they should be experts in everything. They worry it shows weakness and makes them expendable.
This was the mindset stressing Claire Suellentrop (co-founder of Forget The Funnel) when she was hired as Director of Marketing at Calendly. It was early in her career, so she didn’t have tons of experience or perspective yet. And she also didn’t have any peers to rubber duck with.
She felt isolated and like an imposter.
“I was afraid to say, ‘No, I can't do that,’ or ‘No, I don't know how to do that,’ because I could get fired,” Claire recalls. “The team might think I wasn't adding any value.”
Over time, Claire learned a surprising truth: admitting what you don’t know can actually increase your influence. It feels counterintuitive, but even the best leaders don’t know everything.
Instead of putting unrealistic pressure on themselves to know every answer. The best leaders focus on finding the answer instead. They create support systems and feedback loops. They don’t feel bad or apologize about their gaps.
That’s what Claire did. Instead of beating herself up over her shortcomings, Claire leaned into what she’s naturally good at. That helped her showcase her strengths, amped up her confidence, and increased her contributions. A win-win.
In addition to this relatable and encouraging story, my conversation with Claire also included her thoughts on:
How understanding people’s unique work styles will help you avoid miscommunication and frustration
Why your best mentor is only a couple steps ahead of you (not twenty!)
How an outside POV can help you navigate challenges faster and easier
Things to listen for:
[04:25] How Claire fell backwards into growth
[11:39] Learning to catch up to a company’s pace
[14:47] The importance of learning from someone a few steps ahead
[18:11] Understanding everyone’s working styles
[23:46] Overcoming a skillset-company culture mismatch
[27:58] Leaning into your strengths
[30:23] Why heads of growth turnover so quickly
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