David Groth Interview

(mid-tempo electronic music) – Good morning, and welcome
to the 20 Minute Talk Show. I’m excited to introduce Mr. David Groth, senior project manager of
Charter Communications. And we only have 20 minutes and the time starts now. Thank you for joining
me on this interview. So how did you get into your position as
senior product manager at Charter Communications? – Great question. So, it started actually
University of Denver with a cable competition where I was able to participate with a real live case
competition and I won it. So after that, I had a
few interviews with Stars, Charter Communications, Dish and Comcast and decided to go with Charter. When I first started,
I was a project manager working for the SPMO team of products. It’s a whole different role, more as an analyst for product manager. Then I moved over to the product team where I now run strategy and analytics. I’ve had give promotions in
the last three and a half years and it’s just been a great place to work. We’re growing very quickly. And, per my career, it’s
exploded with Charter. – Great start. So why did you pick Charter? Compared to the other ones. – Yeah, so they’re a big company that operates more like a start-up. So our team is smaller, we
have about 130 people on it. But we have a gym, you can
go for runs in the afternoon. Everybody’s younger, likes
to go out after work. Go up to the mountains and go hiking. It’s more of a start-up feel than, say, a Comcast or a Dish or some
of the bigger companies. Even though it is a very large company, the team here in Denver’s great. You’d feel it right when
you walked in the door. – So when you started with Charter, so how did you start
building those relationships and being a team player? – Absolutely, so it started
with the competition at Daniels but the team I
was on for the competition, we competed in five
competitions that year, total. We had a great team. We actually won every single
competition we entered in the case world. So it was, the team I already had formed, we got along great, we knew
each other really really well. So when it came to this competition, they could tell that we had a
team that worked well together we had great leadership skills. So we all had job interviews immediately following that competition. And offers. – So how did you develop the relationship with those team members? With those few projects, can you tell me about those experiences? – Absolutely. It’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears. You spend that much time with a group of three or four people, you get to know everything about them. You get to know when
they’re about to be upset. You get to know where you can push and when you can’t push. We had our ups and downs but
we always stuck together. And it’s really just time, time with one another. Understanding each other. What motivates each other. It was great. – Okay, so what happens
if there’s conflict amongst the team members, what do you do? – What I do is take a
step back, just stop. Identify what the real issue is. A lot of times when people
or getting upset or angry, a lot of times it’s not necessarily about what just happened. It could be about what
happened an hour earlier. It could be that they’re exhausted. It could be that there’s something else going on in their life. So just take a step and
say, what’s going on. Do we need to stop for the night? It’s two in the morning,
should we stop working? Or what’s going on and actually
get down to the real issue of what’s causing the argument or fight. – So what’s your daily routine for a product manager and what do you do? – So I run the strategy and analytics. So I look at what our
peers, what our competitors are doing in the marketplace. What companies like
Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime are doing in the marketplace and then I look at the data. So I say, what do our customers, what are they watching most? How are they enjoying our content? What value are they getting? But additionally, what
are their pain points? What is causing them issues? What errors are they seeing? Are there outages? And how do we develop products
that meet their needs, that add more value? Not just their immediate needs but to the future of what they
need from a guide perspective and an app perspective. – Nice, great. So I’m sure you have some great fears and how do you overcome those fears? – So my biggest fear is failure. So I get up early. I make sure I’m prepared every single day. And make sure that I am
dedicated to what I do. Whether it be at work
or at home or wherever. Give it all. ‘Cause at the end of the day, if you’ve given everything you have, there is nothing else you can do. Out of your control. – Right. So what’s something you’ve learned from some of your failures? – That’s a great question. To… No matter what, at the end of the day, if you have given everything,
you have given it your all, you can’t be mad at yourself, you can’t be mad at what’s happened. You always have to keep pushing forward. And sometimes you may
feel down or out or tired, but if you keep going
and keep working harder, at the end, you’ll succeed, always. – Right, that’s a great answer and it’s very inspiring. Speaking of that, who is your inspiration? – So growing up, my
grandma’s my inspiration. She was a single parent with six kids with no education, growing
up in Michigan on a farm. And she decided she needed an education. So she went back to
school at the age of 42, same time my mom was
actually going to school. Worked two jobs full-time with
the University of Michigan. End up getting a PhD,
running a university, all later in life. Because she decided, I am
not going to be this person who just sits around. I have to take care of my family and the way to do that
is through education. So she’s definitely my
biggest inspiration. – That’s great, that’s very inspirational. She’s a big role model for you. – [David] Yeah, yeah. – That’s awesome. So I’m sure you’ve had some challenges. Can you share some of the
challenges you’ve faced? – Absolutely. So prior to this, prior to DU overall, I worked internationally
for a Belgium based company, working in Central and South America, working with governments. So it was my first real
big job out of undergrad and not only is it a different type of job I’ve never had before, but
you’re in different cultures, in a different country,
in a different language. So that was a huge challenge but when I woke up the
first day I was there, it was embracing that
challenge, really what drove me. So, not speaking the language,
learning as much Spanish as I could outside of high school, course one and two that
really teach you nothing. But learning about the
business place in the country. Learning about the culture in the country, what drive the people there. It was definitely the biggest
challenge I ever faced. It was also the biggest rewarding
experience I’ve ever had. Most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. – Well, that’s great. Well, what about your accomplishments? – So, there’s quite a few. But each small accomplishment,
I feel like you have it, it builds you as a person,
drives you further as a person. So I actually was just promoted
to director two weeks ago. So now with another accomplishment, that won’t stop when you
hit an accomplishment, you have to keep going and
keep striving for better and keep pushing yourself. No matter how many small accomplishments you have along the way, those will help but you really need the
drive to continue going. – Speaking of the drive, and so how do you stay focused for yourself? – That’s a great question. It’s a lot of work. So, when you have so many
different things in your life that you’re focused on, whether it be school, work, family, it’s sometimes hard to
push everything at once and so for me, it’s all
about prioritization. What do I need to focus on right now? What do I need to accomplish right now? Where do I need to spend time right now? And that way, you’re not
neglecting one side of your life, ’cause if you do, if you’re
only focusing on work, the rest of your life will be unhappy. So focusing on, making sure you focus on the family piece, the friends piece. But also school and if you’re
working, working full-time. So that way, you have
balance in your life. Without balance you’ll go crazy. – Right, it’s important to
have that balance in life. So what do you do other than work? – So I’m a big skier and a big traveler. I just got back from Germany last week. And Spain as well. So when I’m not working, it’s going to the mountains with friends. It’s going on trips. Getting outdoors as much as possible. That’s one of the reasons I love Denver. No matter what time of year it is, there’s always something to do outside. Even if it’s cold, you
go skiing, snow-shoeing. Most of the time the sun’s out, get on a bike, go ride around, it’s great. – Right, I see you’re a
very goal-oriented person. So what are your plans
for the next five years? Where do you see yourself? – The next five years, career-wise, I wanna be a VP at the company I’m at now. Additionally, personally, I want to have a family, have kids and continue investing towards the future. So rental properties and making sure that I
can retire at a young age hopefully, one day. – Wow. So product manager, that requires a lot of responsibilities, you have to work with
a lot of team members. Do you have a lot of projects
going on at one time? How many do you have going on right now? – So right now, I have over 10
projects going on, currently. Some are for our team. Some are for programming
or marketing or operations. We are kind of the pivot wheel, that all the different
organizations come to to provide analysis about the company and about the industry. So right now, I am working on looking at different programming groups like Turner, NBC, Universal, to see
what their real value is. While, simultaneously, looking
at how we package content. How is our new guide we just rolled out performing for customers? What are the pain-points of
it and how do we correct those working with the different feature owners? So it’s a lot to work out at once but I have a great team, so it’s all about
delegation responsibility and making sure we hit our deadlines. – So you have to manage your time, is that right?
– Correct. – And delegation?
– Yes. – That is amazing. And so for a product manager, for example, if I become
a product manager, what are the three main
things that I need to learn? To be successful. – Absolutely. I would say, it is, time
management’s number one. That’s probably the biggest priority. ‘Cause you need to be able
to manage that time and say, okay, I need to focus on this project, this needs to be done by noon. This need to be done by two. While, at the same time, make
sure your team feels valued. So I’d say time management. Number two, understanding
people that work for you. Understanding their needs and their wants and what drives them
and what motivates them. If you do all the work
and your team feels like they’re not doing anything,
then your team will leave, they won’t be happy. Or if you’re pushing
everything down to them and you’re not engaged with them, they feel like they’re a side-load and they don’t have support from you. So on focus number two,
I’d say, I’d focus on what my team needs from me. And number three, I would
say, it’s visibility up. Make sure that, make sure your boss looks good. Make sure the people above you, you help them look good. I would say that’s really
your biggest priority is if your boss looks
good, your team’s happy, you can prioritize well,
you’re going to be successful. – Yeah, that’s probably
right for ever industry. Making your boss look good. – That’s always your job.
(chuckles) – Right, right. And so, can you tell me about your experience
and your frustrations in being a product
manager, do you have any? – Oh, absolutely. You can’t control everything. So we require a lot of data
from different organizations. And oftentimes, they’re
delayed or not able to give us what we need on time. Which makes us delayed. So it’s really about
working with different teams and making sure you
don’t burn those bridges. You can get through one wall
with a wrecking ball, one time and blow everything up but they won’t ever work with you again. So how do you, it’s a lot about working with the right people. Working with people and working
with them the right way. – Right, right. Yeah, that’s building those connections. And so, if you were to
change your career now, what would you do differently? – Hmm. I don’t know.
(chuckles) This is the first big
company I’ve ever worked for. Prior to this, I’ve worked for companies with less than 100 people, my entire life. So I like taking this
approach with a larger company and understanding how they
look at business problems and how they are able to
adapt and scale quickly to meet the needs of the
industry or the consumer. Probably, I would change much. I like the experiences that I’ve had with all the companies I’ve worked for. Now, it’s about what’s next. And right now, Charter’s
a great place to work so I will stay here for a while. – That’s a nice goal. And so you were talking
about changing companies before you joined Charter. Can you tell me about those
other companies before that? – Yes.
– A little bit more. – I’ve worked in consulting predominantly prior to this. While going to DU, I worked for a small oil and gas consulting
company here in Denver. And worked out really well
’cause I could work from home. Work after school, before school, able to focus on grad school
but still make good money and pay for school with
the consulting job. Prior to that, I worked
for a media company doing consulting work for governments, based in Belgium and I worked
Central and South America and western Europe. So that was a great experience. Be able to, at a young
age, travel the world and live out of hotels and meet very large influential leaders. Including the president of Costa Rica at the time, Laura Chinchilla. President Martinelli of Panama. It was a great experience. And prior to that, I worked in finance for a car dealership syndicate in Denver to pay for undergrad. So I’ve always been working my entire life. And it gives you an appreciation for what you put into it… Whatever you put in,
you’ll get back, 10 fold. – Right, right. Whatever you do, you’ll get that return. And then, going back,
what’s the difference between the consulting
and the product manager? – I look at if very similar, even though they are different roles. I’d say, one of the
reasons I have succeeded is because I have that consulting mindset that I am a service industry,
I’m here for my clients. My clients happen to be different
parts of the organization or different members of
our product organization. But I look at it myself
as, what can we provide, how can we add value to you? Whether it be through strategic research or through analytics or just raw data. How do we provide value
to whatever person or team is coming to us to ask for that? So having a consulting mindset definitely has helped a lot in this field. Even though I’m no longer doing it. – Right, yeah, you can
see how they correlate and how they influence that. And so, do you feel you’ve benefited from the oil and gas industry? And transitioning to the media industry? Do you feel that experience has helped? – Yeah, I would say, having
that consulting piece where I was working
directly with the clients in their offices and a
lot of times they’re, who is this person, why are they bringing this person in to do our job? Or why are they bringing this person in, we don’t need their help. So having to build those relationships, immediately when walking into the door and start building that trust. ‘Cause if you didn’t have that trust, after a couple weeks or a month, they may fire or company
and then that looks not only bad on me but
it’s bad for my company. So it was kinda being thrown into the den and having to find out who really do you need to work with best and how do you build
those bridges immediately. And that’s helped me tremendously
with Charter as well. – Speaking of building the relationships, how do you build relationships with your team members and other people and clients as well? – Absolutely, I would
say, it’s understanding what their needs are. Whether it be a client
or somebody on my team, what do they need to be successful? So from a client’s perspective, what is their real ask? What is their boss asking of them and how can I help facilitate them to make sure they look good? To add value to the
project they’re working on. On my team, building those
relationships is asking them, what motivates you? Whether it be having
every other Friday off. Really not supposed to but that drives them everyday. Or putting them on a
track to a fast promotion. Or giving them a longer longer lunch break so they can go for a run. Finding out what drives
each individual person can help motivate them themselves, them personally at the deep level. – Right, so are you involved in any other interests? Do you have any other things
that you would like to share? – Yeah, there’s a great
organization here called Impact Denver. They do a lot of clothing
drives, feeding the homeless. They take orphans out to
the mountains to go hiking, get them outside of the city. So I do a lot of work with Impact Denver. In fact, this Sunday is
feed the homeless day, every third Sunday of the month. So any opportunity you have to go out and make the world a better
place, you should take it. – Yeah, that is important
to contribute to society. – [David] Yeah, absolutely. – That’s awesome and touching
that you’ve done that, and you do that every month. And so, I remember you graduated from, you got your MBA here at DU. So what is your advice for MBA students? – You’ll have a lot of
opportunities that come through the process, through the program that you may not see as opportunities or you may not notice right away, so always be open to meeting new people. Going to events. I would say, the biggest
thing about grad school is, you do get out of it what you put in. That’s exactly true with the
events that are hosted by DU. I would say a lot of my friends were like, ah, we don’t wanna go. It’s a Thursday night, we’re late, we don’t wanna go to this thing. You’ll never know who you’re gonna meet, so do everything, if you have time. Experience everything
that DU has at offer. – Yeah, that’s how we met.
– Exactly, yeah. – In the case competition so. So what is your most satisfactory, satisfied moment in your life? – I don’t know.
(sighs) (chuckles) Professionally, it was probably… Working with the Belgium based company and closing my first
deal with the government. And just that initial rush of, oh my gosh, we’re really bringing
value to this country and to this economy and it just, the very first time you’re
able to get a government to agree to use our company
to promote the country. That was very exciting. I’ll say personally, going with my parents for my
mom’s 70th birthday to France and being able to be
there to get my family to experience that and
share that with them. A lot of those moments. – So we have 20 seconds left.
– Okay. – Describe yourself in one sentence. – Driven, passionate, hard-working, fun-loving person.
(chuckles) – Great, so thank you for joining me. And I’m inspired by your story and you’re gonna benefit all of us by sharing your experience. – Thank you very much,
I really appreciate it. – [Vaibhav] Alright, let’s do it again. (mid-tempo electronic music)

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