Join us for another interview in our blog series: Authenticated Answers! In this lighthearted interview series, we connect with experts from the email, IT, security, ISP, and authentication spaces to learn more about them and their experiences.
At Valimail, we take our work seriously but try not to take ourselves too seriously. This value inspires us to get to the heart of what makes people unique and how it affects their careers to provide valuable advice, inspiration, and insights to people working with email daily.
Today, we sat down with Seth Charles, Director of Deliverability and Compliance at Iterable.
About Seth Charles
While Seth has over fourteen years of experience with client services, account management, and email marketing deliverability, he has been at Iterable for over four years. Iterable helps marketers across the world unify customer data across all messaging channels in real-time so they can orchestrate seamless customer experiences at scale to connect people with products that bring them joy.
He has worked at various SaaS companies including Return Path, a global ESP, and also led an email marketing team. Today, he mainly focuses on leading Iterable’s deliverability and compliance teams.
They advise on email infrastructure, architecture, sending methodology, and security, and enforce their acceptable use and anti-abuse policies. He is also an active member of global anti-abuse communities, working with industry colleagues to make the internet safer.
Seth is a sixth-generation Colorado native; his children are now seventh-generation natives, which is rare to find in the state. He has no active plans to move right now, but he wouldn’t mind living somewhere with a little bit less snow so he could work on his golf game a little more.
Keep reading our interview with Seth below to learn more about the hill he’d die on, his favorite way to show gratitude, and how he’d describe DMARC to people who want to know more about it.
How do you stay motivated when learning something challenging or frustrating?
Anything worth pursuing will usually have a chance to be frustrating. But partly because it’s frustrating or challenging, the result will be that much more rewarding or impactful.
When learning and growing in the face of something challenging, I keep the end goal in mind. I ask myself: How will this improve the lives of my team, our customers, or personally like my family in the long term?
With any big project or knowledge I’m trying to gain, I try to apply and measure incremental improvements. So instead of trying to go immediately from Level 0 to Level 10 knowledge, I start implementing small steps to pursue that goal and put them into practice.
What was the last wall you crashed through?
Some of the last walls I crashed through were here at Iterable. I’m leading teams that can impact professional services, customer success, compliance teams, and more. I am lucky enough to have been in this space long enough to recognize somewhat subtle opportunities, so I have worked to try and inject our teams’ diverse expertise into a lot of projects that have helped us innovate and protect our platform.
For us, it’s about getting a seat at the table, and thankfully our tenure and experience got us that. Then, recognize and articulate some potential in an engineering or core infrastructure area, for example, and make suggestions that could help the team and would be worth considering.
To me, that’s crashing through a wall in that some teams wouldn’t typically consider a different, indirect team’s perspective. But when a difficult problem is looked at from multiple perspectives, a more thorough solution may be found. Things like that have been really rewarding to overcome; you can build that credibility with experience and results, which snowballs from there.
What’s your favorite way to show gratitude?
I love to show gratitude, whether it’s personal or professional. The way I show it the most is by paying it forward.
For example, I will try to find contacts or connections for a specific objective within my professional network. If I’ve gained anything in my career so far, it’s because I’ve been helped by a lot of really smart and compassionate people, so I try to be compassionate to others as well.
Similarly, when I’m appreciative of someone, I try to be really specific in how and when I thank them. I also make it a note to talk to their business managers. Even if they just joined the company a month ago, I’ll mention that this new person helped me with something I was working on, and it could help give them some visibility and also maybe even build some confidence.
It’s an excellent way to stay humble and motivated because you see how many great people you work with. It’s also inspiring; it makes you want to put your best foot forward.
Iterable is great at that too. We have a Slack channel to give others shout-outs for anything they’ve helped. It’s an active channel because there are a lot of gracious people here.
What’s the funniest mistake you’ve made, and how’d you handle it?
Most of my mistakes have something to do with technology, especially in the era of remote work and the pandemic.
For example, I went to share my screen for a presentation I was giving. I did the token: “Can everyone see my screen?” And they replied and said, “Well, we see it…”
But it was just a bunch of NHL stats.
I’m a huge hockey fan, and I was looking at them earlier, but I shared the wrong window. I played it off as a joke and was just like, “Oh, you guys don’t want to talk about the Avalanche plus/minus for a few minutes?”
Another time was when I worked at SendGrid, I presented a deck that I prepared for a company, and instead of having their data in the slide, I had some anonymized example data. So I said, “These are important metrics, but thankfully these aren’t yours. Boy, would THAT be embarrassing.”
You have to be self-deprecating and goofy. That’s an excellent way to get through the mistake, but it’s also a way to make that connection and not take yourself too seriously.
What’s the smallest hill you are willing to die on?
One hill I will die on is that the semicolon is the best punctuation ever; it’s not even a close competition. I even fire them into my text messages out of principle. Come at me, oxford comma people!
Another one is that you should always take your shopping cart back to the front of the store or at least to the cart corrals in the parking lot. It tells a lot about a person if they do this…
How would you explain DMARC to your grandparents, friends, or relatives?
The easiest way to explain DMARC to someone would be that it’s a way for a company to take direct ownership and have more visibility into its overall brand security.
Your brand is a reflection of your online presence, and I can’t think of a single brand out there that wouldn’t value having a high degree of security around their domain in general. They’re also protecting their customers from people impersonating them, therefore helping reinforce customer trust.
The other half of that, which is really important and powerful too, is that it gives the brand owners agency over how strict they want to be with security. You get visibility into potential threats you face and can then decide on policy type for how strictly you need to enforce your brand’s email. So it provides a ton of excellent data too.
If you don’t secure your brand, that apathy is taken advantage of every single day. Your customers will eventually not even get your email because of mailbox provider filters, but not before they lose faith in the authenticity of the content they get, so brands need to get ahead of it.
Get started with DMARC
As Seth mentioned, getting visibility into your domain is one of the first steps toward brand and domain protection.
Valimail Monitor makes it easy to gain that visibility into all of your domain’s sending services.
Sign up for a free account today and take that next step towards protecting your domain with DMARC.
If you’d like to share your thoughts with us or nominate a leader in the email space to be featured, don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org!