The “Discuss Employee Spotlight” is a Q&A series dedicated to showcasing all of the amazing talent at Discuss.

For this month’s profile, we talked with Adam Mertz, Chief Growth Officer who joined the Discuss team in August of 2022 and is based out of Portland, Oregon.

  1. Tell our readers a little bit about your role at Discuss.
    The role I play at Discuss is absolutely one of the most fascinating, fast-paced and broadest roles that I’ve played in my 20+ years in the tech industry. My job, ultimately, is to ensure the Product, Marketing, and Sales engines are running efficiently, connected and working together to execute against an ambitious go-to-market strategy.

    I get to go deep with our product teams on our roadmap, share that roadmap with customers and listen feedback, roll up my sleeves with our demand gen team as we build and execute campaigns focused on target audiences, help craft our brand narrative, and then work with our sales team in meeting with prospective customers as we create strategic partnerships with some of the largest organizations and brands in the world. It’s a role that requires strategic thinking, an incredible amount of collaboration (although I need to figure out how to have fewer meetings), and ultimately drives action. One thing is for sure, there is never a dull moment in my day.
  2. Which of Discuss’ core values are most inspired by? (Empathize, Collaborate, Obsess, Out Innovate, Excel)
    Out innovate speaks loudest to me. We define this core value as:
    We’re never comfortable, even when we’re at the top. We don’t just innovate, we out innovate everyone around us. We look for the better, smarter, faster, more efficient and genuinely mind blowing innovations in all that we do. 

    This core value hits on two big traits that I focus a lot on – being curious and courageous. In the last couple years those traits and the culture of out innovating that I’ve focused on building has resulted in being bold in several key approaches that have unlocked massive growth for Discuss.

    For example, it was the holidays of 2022 when OpenAI’s ChatGPT had just come to life. I was curious about it and remember playing around with it for hours and just thinking about how this could be applied to qualitative research. By early January, I brought several members of our product and dev team together, along with our CEO and Chief Strategy Officer (and co-founder) and we brainstormed.

    We started our discussion from an outside-in approach, talking about the key challenges we hear from customers and value in solving those challenges. We landed on how speed to insights is just so valuable and that GenAI was not a fad, but rather something that could help us deliver a game changer when it came to speed to insights, and ultimately could help us become the dominant platform if we could out innovate all other vendors in this area. We made bets, acted fast, worked collaborated, and I’m thrilled to see that we are now getting feedback in virtually every customer and prospect meeting that we, in fact, do stand out in this area.

    That’s a product example, but this mindset on the sales and marketing side has also been huge. This mindset has led to a completely revamped sales approach and packaging of our solution and services over the past year, where we moved to an unlimited seat based model, and again this type of thinking and innovation is setting us apart.
  3. Tell us about your team and the mindset (and approach) you’re instilling.
    I guess I kind of answered this question as part of my answer to the previous question, but I’ll expand just a bit further. I love the idea of ‘falling forward’ and encouraging/promoting an environment of “going for it” and not letting perfection get in the way of progress. I like to encourage a mindset of turning tough dilemmas into enjoyable challenges. A quote mentioned in one of my most recent reads, Fearvana (great book and shout out to the author, Akshay Nanavati), that really connected with me was, ‘It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult’ — attributed to the ancient Roman philosopher, Seneca. I couldn’t agree more!

    I also try to encourage a mindset of being ‘all in’. I want to have a team that’s committed to our mutual success, and working together to think big and come up and act on great ideas. Ultimately, it’s about turning that curiosity, courage and commitment into action!
  4. What project or initiative are you most proud of at Discuss?
    I’ve already mentioned our approach to GenAI – which led to our Genie virtual assistant and how that has had a huge impact for our customers. I’m so excited about that initiative because of how well many teams work together to deliver what I call ‘value innovation’. So often tech companies come out with new features and capabilities but those don’t move the dial for their customers. Our approach is focused on value innovation and Genie is a perfect example of that approach.

    But again, our unlimited seat-based model is another project I’m proud of because it was a completely different model than the company had for almost a decade, and within 1 year of introducing it we now have the vast majority of our customers who are on this new model

    I’m also proud of the work we’ve done in focusing our vision on providing an all-in-one qual platform, and one that’s not pieced together via acquisitions but is simply world-class on both the live and async side.
  5. What is something unique about you (a fun fact) that few people know about?
    I’ve got a few ‘outside of work’ things that not everyone knows about me. First, I enjoy studying about and being in nature – and by that I mean I’ve studied a lot about foraging and go out in the Spring and Fall to get all sorts of mushrooms – oysters, lobsters, bears head, matsutake, hedge hog, etc. – and then also lots of different wild edible plants. My most important plant I forage though is stinging nettle, which I dry and then use for a green tea, and just one cup every day has led me to not have to take any allergy medication this time of year.

    I also got into Search and Rescue several years back which has been incredible in many ways, both in what I’ve learned about wildlife survival as well as the many search missions that I have participated in. There’s a lot of forests right outside of Portland with extensive trail systems where cell coverage drops and people fall, get hurt, or get lost. Getting certified as a search and rescuer for Oregon took months of studying and practicing everything from shelter building to crafting splints with sticks, to medical assessments, to missions where we were up for 24 hours straight. You learn to push yourself and embrace the suck, and it certainly brings everything into perspective when you are on one of those missions.

    On the lighter side, I am a ping pong fanatic. I got into this amazing sport about 6 years ago, have a coach, play 3 times a week, and have a goal to get to master level by the end of 2025. It’s a great sport that attracts an international group of players and I think that’s something I’ve really enjoyed is making friends with people from different places around the world.

    So if anyone is ever in Portland and you’re looking to do out of the norm things like foraging, going on a hike or playing ping pong, I’m your guy.

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