He’s the brand-maker, the story-teller, the... lead-generator? That’s right, folks: it’s the one and only Director of Marketing Mohammed Ali!
So tell us, where did you work prior to joining Lane?
Most recently, I was the Chief Marketing Officer slash Chief Growth Officer for a company called Format. Prior to that, I was the Vice President of Marketing and Product Management at a company called Vertical Scope. And prior to that, I was the Director of Marketing and Product Management for a company called Yellow Pages NextHome.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Bad timing for this question, haha. It’s like full lock down right now, and with fasting for Ramadan, my energy is low from lack of food… so not much at the moment! But more generally, I like to spend lots of time with the family. I really believe in investing in your kids, especially in these formative years, for them to turn out well as good humans—building a good foundation, morally and structurally. So we do lots of outdoorsy stuff together: hikes, trails, nature walks, anything we can do on the water as well, cottages in the summertime, ski resorts in the winter…
What’s something not a lot of people know about you?
I was actually a personal trainer for a time. I owned a small gym. And I still like to work out every day, and I still help certain people with their physical fitness goals.
I also love sports. Both watching and playing. I’m still in some softball leagues and pickup basketball leagues, and that carries all the way into fantasy sports. I used to write for some blogs as a basketball journalist as well.
Nice… so what’s the most “interesting” thing you’ve ever done?
Probably trying to run my own business while managing a full-time job. I think that was the most interesting thing I’ve ever done in terms of most life lessons learned. Like, I lived in Richmond Hill at the time, I had a full-time job in Mississauga, and my gym was in Oakville. So just the dynamics of it.
Moving on to Lane. What made you want to join?
Great question. I would say the biggest draw for me was the value I saw that Lane could bring to the workplace. Once I started to really understand the product, the light bulb really turned on for me. So that market opportunity would be number one… Also the creative challenge of no one really being in this space. That made it interesting.
A good lead-in to my next question: what impact do you want to have at Lane?
Ultimately, I want to impact the growth of this business. So obviously ARR. But if we’re not talking numbers, I want to create a brand that is both visionary on the one hand and solves challenges and problems on the other. A brand that sparks that feeling in people so that when they hear the name Lane, they think that this is a group of people, a product, a brand that solves for the workplace and ultimately for end users. That Lane is synonymous with amazing user experience.
How would you describe your team?
The marketing team? Well, we’re a tight-knit group of people that trust each other and have a passion for excellence. We really, really love our craft. It comes through in my team’s work. They enjoy what they do. They’re not afraid to take on challenges. And they celebrate failures just as much as they celebrate wins. Oh, and they have a great sense of humor. There’s a real sense of humility on the team.
What do you like most about the Lane culture more broadly?
The thing I like most about the Lane culture is that we’re never satisfied. Across all teams, I feel like everyone’s pushing for better. People aren’t satisfied with average work. People who want to excel, who want to push the envelope. That’s what excites me about any environment, and I’m happy I found that in Lane.
What interests you most about the future of work that Lane is trying to bring about?
Work is a part of almost everyone’s life, right? And so the broadness of what we’re involved in and the impact that it can have is huge. Like, we’re not talking about a really small problem here. We’re talking about the workplace experience of the future. And in the wake of the pandemic, this future is coming a lot faster than even we anticipated.
Like it was a lot easier to define “work” pre-pandemic, where we all had the terms for it—the nine to five, the regular grind, everyone going into the same space. That’s just how it was for a really long period of time. I think all of that’s changing—I don’t think we’ll ever go back to just one way of working.
I think companies and players who are successful in this space will create flexible solutions that appeal to businesses and their employees. To be successful in this space, the more configurable, the more modular, the more flexible your solution can be, the better.
In the context of work, can you think of specific examples where technology can be of service?
Definitely. In a work environment, technology can make you more productive at communicating. The pandemic’s a really great example, actually. There’s been a lot of interest in Lane recently because, for property managers and other kinds of businesses, there is a lack of “where do we tell people this, where do we house information, etc.” so that their tenants and employees can be safe and sound when they come back to work. Technology can help facilitate a smarter and safer return to the office.
It can help solve these kinds of communications and logistical problems—bookings, access, RSVPs, payments, you name it—and it can help let them know how well they delivered on those problems from an ROI perspective, using data. Did they actually help increase tenant retention? Or reduce operating costs? Did they create new revenue streams?
What advice would you give to someone just starting out at Lane?
A lot of people say, “ask a lot of questions,” and that’s true, but specifically, try to ask questions that will help you understand the biggest challenges in the space. What we’re trying to do is so broad and ambitious, after all, and that adds a lot of complexity. So it’s good to step back as much as you can to make sure you see the big picture—the what, why, and how.
Do you have a personal mantra that you live by?
I have a couple. One is, “we all suffer the pain of one of two things: the pain of discipline, or the pain of regret.” The other is, “you can’t always control the things that happen to you, but you can always control how you deal with them.” They’re both key!
What TV or movie do you think is hugely overrated?
Man. I think I’m going to say Stranger Things. Especially because of the way people were talking about it, haha. It just wasn’t that good… Oh, and here’s another one. I’m going to get a lot of flack for this, but Breaking Bad. I don’t want people yelling at me, but I really did not enjoy it the way other people did. So overrated… Oh, and Queen’s Gambit was okay, I would say, but it just did not live up to what I’d heard about it. But no judgment, haha.