I’m Ryan Malone, Founder and CEO of SmartBug Media®, a leading Intelligent Inbound marketing agency with a 100% remote business model since its inception fourteen years ago that employs 140+ employees from 40 states and several countries.
I’m hosting this AMA as a follow up to a session Jen Spencer and I hosted during World Certification Week kickoff, “Fireside Chat: The Benefits of Halting Business for a Full Day Every Quarter to Focus on Certifications”. I’ll be answering questions from Monday August 2nd to Friday August 6th, 2021.
You are welcome to "ask me anything" about Certification Day, how you can get started using Certification Day for your own professional development, or how you can develop a Certification Day program for your company.
Wondering why I’m hosting an AMA about Certification Days?
I started Certification Day at SmartBug Media in 2017 to create a company culture that encourages us to always be learning. It was so successful that it grew into HubSpot’s World Certification Day in 2020, and now World Certification Week in 2021.
Not sure what to ask? Here are a few questions to get started:
I’ll be answering questions throughout the week, August 2 - August 6th.
More about SmartBug: We created our remote model 12 years ago in order to hire the best of the best, and to provide a challenging career opportunity while embracing the flexibility to create memories with the people we care about. Our remote model enables us to recruit people who are passionate about their job and committed to the zest of their lives, resulting in a high-retention business, free from politics and the negativity often seen in office-based environments. SmartBug assists businesses in generating leads, increasing awareness, and building brand loyalty through inbound marketing, digital strategy, design, marketing automation, and public relations. It has been named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies four years in a row, was named one of AdWeek’s top 100 agencies twice, has won hundreds of awards for workplace culture and client work, and has more five star reviews than any HubSpot partner in the world.
Aug 3, 2021 1:00 PM
HubSpot expertise depends on the type of role we are hiring for. Typically, though, we are looking for certain HubSpot skills and the certifications are a nice-to-have. Most of our hires come in with core certifications like inbound marketing, marketing software, inbound sales, and sales software + contextual marketing and content marketing. We understand, however, that there are many skilled HubSpot users out there who have simply not taken advantage of HubSpot's Academy.
All team members complete self-assessments and are reviewed by their managers every quarter. In addition, we launched a career growth framework last year that provides a roadmap for each team member so they can visualize their own growth within SmartBug. Both the quarterly reviews and the growth framework are used in harmony with Certification Day so team members focus their energy on gaining the skills they need for their next role.
One thing that helped tremendously was looking at each role and identifying both the hard and soft skills necessary to be successful in that role.
I hope this helps!
Aug 3, 2021 12:31 PM
So here are some questions (for now):
Do you hire peolple without HubSpot certifications?
What are the main certifications that an employee should have to start working with you?
Do you plan a "career"and a "certification path"for everybody?
As an agency business owner, It is difficult to balance the need for immediate knowledge
with the path of learning and growth (that takes more time).
Aug 2, 2021 3:55 PM
Hi Gene. I'm a former classroom teacher myself (high school English and Theatre Arts).
Certification Day for us is in addition to our team education. Here's an example of what training in a given month looks like at SmartBug.
The Certification Days are helpful when you're doing a training and completing a practicum that require multiple hours at a time.
Hope this is helpful!
Aug 2, 2021 3:38 PM
Thank you for the most engaging talk of the day so far.
As a former classroom instiructor, it seems to me that one day of eight hours is fatiguing and potentially counter productive. One hour a day on eight consecutive days might be more effective for learning and especially, retention. I know this doesn't quite fit your model. None-the-less, I welcome your thoughts on implementing an alternate approach whereby each employee gets the first hour of the day to learn (the office opens for business an hour later) over a period of two weeks. Your thoughts are welcome.
Aug 2, 2021 3:55 PM - edited Aug 2, 2021 4:32 PM
Hey Gene, I think it all depends on your team and what they prefer. Our team wants to truly dive into the content without having the looming deadlines of the workday hanging over their head. So we felt if we shut down the company for a day, they could truly concentrate. Moreover, I think people will always be tempted to skip it because they have something else on their plate.
Certification Day for us is not just 8 hours in front of a screen. We make an event out of it, people gear up, hop online, brag about what they learned, share certificates, etc., so it is more of a pep rally than it is 8 hours of learning. By that, I don't mean that people are not learning the whole time -- they are. But I mean that when they come up for a break, there are 150 people cheering them on.
Maybe try both and see what happens? But really it is about your team, so whatever works for them.
Aug 6, 2021 1:16 AM
It is very impressive your job. I like the prep rally, it will give an asset to us.
Thanks for sharing,
Aug 2, 2021 3:47 PM
Great point, Gene. It’s worth testing 1 full day dedicated to training vs. 1 hour / day for a week, and see what works best for that company’s culture. We find that works best for SmartBug culture is to eliminate the context switching. So we turn off as many distractions as we can for Certification Day, and let our employees really hone in on powering through their training. There’s usually a lot of buzz around the virtual “office” making it a fun experience all around.