We’ve brought together an all-star lineup of customer experience thought leaders to provide insights at Opentalk 2016. Among them is Nick Mehta, Gainsight’s energetic, football-loving CEO.
Talkdesk Senior Manager of Field Marketing, Leah Kahn, sat down with Nick to talk to him about everything… except customer experience and football. We thought we’d save the shoptalk for Opentalk and start by getting to know the man behind the leading Customer Success Management platform.
Leah: Thank you for taking the time to sit down with me today, Nick. We are so happy that you’ll be speaking at Opentalk in a few weeks. You are well known for giving engaging talks at summits. Do you ever get stage fright?
Nick: It’s relative. At this point, I have spoken on stage so many times that it has become normal. For a small event of 100-200 people, I don’t even think about what I’m going to say; I just walk on stage. The larger the event is, the more difficult it becomes to engage with the audience. In those instances, I would say that it’s really important for me to be confident in what I’m doing because I don’t get a lot of feedback from the crowd.
Leah: Do you enjoy public speaking?
Nick: I just like communicating with people. I have a natural style of speaking that isn’t perfect or polished, but it’s authentic.
Actually, it’s funny because when I was a kid, I was kind of a wallflower. I might have had more computers than I had friends. If someone who knew me then saw me now, I would look like a totally different person.
I credit coming out of my shell to my wife, whom I met in high school. I started to think to myself, “If I can get a girl like this, I’m probably not that bad!”
Leah: Do you have any formal training in public speaking?
Nick: The first year of our conference, Pulse, I didn’t practice at all. The next year, I decided to hire a speaking coach. My speaking coach was a great person, but I’ll never hire anyone ever again for that job. I felt like a politician while I was up there. My speech felt totally scripted and forced. I prefer to just go with my normal fast-talking, smiling, cheesy-joke-making style.
Leah: Do you miss being more hands-on with computers?
Nick: Let’s be honest: I’m not a closeted nerd at all. I still love technology and science. I love quantum mechanics. I love math. By day, my mind is on enterprise software. At night, I’m pondering existential questions about the nature of life in an infinite universe.
Do you want to hear a joke? I made this one up myself:
I encourage a love of science in my three kids, but I don’t do any of their work for them. It’s great because they’re just getting to the age where we can do cool projects. My first grader just did an experiment in which he dyed apple juice different colors and then asked people to guess what kind of juice it was.
Leah: How do you explain your job to your three kids?
Nick: Only my 10-year-old is able to kind of understand. It’s tough because if I was the CEO of Disney, it wouldn’t be abstract at all; I would tell them I made “Frozen.” To explain Gainsight, I have to tell them that there’s Disney, then there are companies that sell to Disney, then there are companies that sell to those companies that sell to Disney.
I basically tell my kids that I go to the office, I’m in a lot of meetings, I send a lot of emails and I talk to a lot of people.
Leah: What would you call your title, if not CEO?
Nick: CEO is a strange, arcane title. What does it even mean? If I had to pick a term that distills down what I do every day, I would say “Connector.” Every CEO defines their job differently. For me, I value my role as a connector. I connect Gainsight to the outside world, to other companies, to investors. I connect our employees to each other. I love helping people and I get to do it for a living!
Leah: Next time you take a vacation, what country do you want to go to?
Nick: I don’t really have wanderlust actually. I’m interested in New Zealand because it’s where they filmed Lord of the Rings and Japan because apparently (my wife sent me a link and this is an actual thing) you can arrange to live through a simulated zombie apocalypse.
I like America a lot. I’d like to get an RV and drive around all the small towns. I’ve been everywhere for work, but I’ve been each place for a short period of time. Sometimes it feels like I’ve seen every Marriott in America.
Leah: Thank you for your candor, Nick! We’re really looking forward to hearing what you have to say in your fireside chat at Opentalk.
Join Nick Mehta and a community of customer-centric business leaders at Opentalk 2016. There are 19 days before Talkdesk’s forum on the future of customer communication. Do you have your tickets yet?