Hello Mitch Katzer, Customer Success Director at Time by Ping

Mitch left a private practice in Wealth Management to grow Time by Ping with us as a Customer Success Director. He’s been involved since the early days, and his domain transference is something we value at Time by Ping in building a strong org. He infuses everything he does with his personality and tenacity, and is a wonderful example of culture at Time by Ping — present, caring, helpful, and ambitious in the best way.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

What’s your superpower?

Listening — it’s an undervalued skill, but it’s something we treasure here at Time by Ping. That’s how you’re able to understand what makes people tick, what’s important to them, and build trust and quality relationships with that information.

Secondly, I’d say adaptability. A mentor of mine always said you find out the most about someone when the chips are down. Having a productive response, especially when times are tough like during a pandemic, is a power of mine.

It’s been quite the road to get to where we are today. How’d you get to this point in your career?
"It’s been the greatest move in my career. I’m always growing and learning every single day…"

I went to the University of Washington in Seattle, but I would routinely visit my best bud Kourosh (our COO) at Berkeley. I would come down and hang out for two weeks at a time. I met Ryan, Niket, and Michael among the rest of what became a network of incredible people and friends who are now my coworkers.

I graduated with a Finance Degree in 2009, in the middle of a great recession, and was lucky enough to get a job at Wells Fargo. I’ve progressed by going to smaller companies but having larger impact, which was important to me. My last company Freestone Capital is a 70-person company in wealth management. I ended up taking on a client advisory role there, which was a massive step forward. I was always in touch with Time by Ping throughout their entire gestation process and as they continued to grow as a company, I always offered my help.

One day, Kourosh called me and said, “We need a customer success division and you’re someone who is adaptable. Would you like to join?” I was honored, but extremely scared. Once I went through the interview process, I got to see the culture from the inside, and I knew it was going to be a massive change to my career. I ended up letting my practice go, and it’s been the greatest move in my career. I’m always growing and learning every single day because this is a brand new industry.

How did your experience in Wealth Management prepare you for your role in Customer Success at a tech company? What are some of the similarities and differences between the two environments?
"In wealth management, everyone wants to hold onto ideas. In technology, we want to constantly experiment, push boundaries, and see what’s coming next…"

What I was able to translate between Wealth Management and Customer Success was relationship management. The ability to form partnerships, generate trust, listen and understand what the client wants; those are the things that I used to do in wealth management. Understanding the why, and then being able to plan, execute, and ensure the customer is successful was a big piece of what I did. I do that with our clients today.

There’s also an educational component, and now I’m educating users and timekeepers on how to use our product to the best effect. One of the main differences between the two is the speed at which things evolve. In wealth management, everyone wants to hold onto ideas. In technology, we want to constantly experiment, push boundaries, and see what’s coming next before anybody else does.

You made the ambitious decision of relocating to San Francisco just to work at Time by Ping. What was the driving force behind your desire to continue your career here?

I wanted to move to San Francisco and be amongst my colleagues, be a sponge and learn as quickly and as much as possible from everybody else. We know what happened in February of 2020, right after I moved, so it was like the calm before the storm. I’ve learned about resiliency, about relationships and how important they are, and how to really embrace the opportunities we have. I wanted to stay uncomfortable because that’s how I know when I’m growing. Being in San Francisco allows me to focus, and keep learning from the great people we have here. I really am holding on to enjoying San Francisco for what it has to offer, when that time comes safely.

What kind of difficult conversations did you have to have with clients around the pandemic?

What’s interesting about the pandemic was it really solidified a lot of relationships with clients because we were going through the same thing. Customers wanted to get it implemented as soon as possible, but timelines changed and budgets dried up. One of the first things that dry up is innovation budgets when things are tough.

We’re so glad that we were able to have that experience together because it really solidified those customer relationships.

Tough conversations can lead to customer relationships ending, how did yours get stronger?

Total transparency. We let the client know exactly where they stood, how our side of the coin looked, and didn’t try to sugarcoat anything.

They were honest with us as well about their budgets, and some of the limitations they would have with lawyers transitioning to work from home environments.

Sometimes we would make the choice together to put everything on pause because we didn’t want to overwhelm lawyers with change fatigue.

We set up weekly meetings, even though the project was on hold, to ensure that we continue to have touch points with the client. And in the end, we became closer because of it.

Traits like Tenacity have always been important and admired at Time by Ping. What does tenacity mean to you, and in what ways have you felt connected to Time by Ping’s core values?
""Ryan absolutely dives into his why every day, which is his mom. It drives the rest of the company because we see that as an example

When I think about tenacity, I think about words like grit, determination, and persistence. We’re attacking a big hairy problem here, but the reward is going to be huge. Ryan absolutely dives into his why every day, which is his mom. It drives the rest of the company because we see that as an example. Tenacity is the way that we can attack a huge problem every single day and never give up.

How have you felt supported in bringing your full-self to work?

I’ve been here over a year now and I realized that bringing your full-self is not just words, it’s meaningful to everyone. That means not holding anything back, and expressing ourselves fully. We set up these forums where these types of things can happen. We’ve had sessions on social justice, we’ve had Election Day off to vote. We have a life, health, and wellness budget.

One of the more important things that I really want to bring up is we’re able to provide completely unfiltered feedback to the company. We do Employee NPS scores twice a month. It’s anonymous, and we’re able to take suggestions, make changes, and really get a pulse for how everyone’s feeling. At the end of every one of our all hands meetings, we have a completely open session for questions. It’s a super communicative and healthy environment.

What do you think Time by Ping’s superpower is? What do you get here you couldn’t get anywhere else?

I think our biggest superpower is authenticity. We have a mission-driven culture. We believe that we’re going to give time back to people, and that we’re going to change the world with the Time Foundation by creating a more equitable world.

Lately, clients are starting to tell it back to us. We’ve heard things like, “You all are different at Time by Ping. It’s personal, isn’t it?”

Or they’ll say things like, “You all are serious about the mission, it’s in your bones.” All I do is say, “Yes, it is.”

Thanks for the time, Mitch.

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