Gain 10 Years of Partner Knowledge in 8 Weeks with Scott Pollack of Firneo

Gain 10 Years of Partner Knowledge in 8 Weeks with Scott Pollack of Firneo

Scott Pollack & Aaron Olson 12 min

If you haven’t yet heard, we recently announced the PartnerHacker Education Hub. The Ed Hub is your go-to place to learn more about partnerships. We reached out to the best course partnership course creators, vetted them, and put them in one place.


I reached out to the profs in our Ed Hub to learn more. A few days ago, I released an interview with Mark Brigman, PhD, prof at Partnernomics.


Today, I’m releasing my interview with Scott Pollack of Firneo. Scott has spent over 20 years in BD and partnership roles.


Scott created Firneo out of his own frustration. At first, he floundered in partnerships. But he worked hard to learn the ropes, and he’s condensed all his knowledge into an 8-week course at Firneo.


The course at Firneo is cohort-based, meaning you go through the course with other partner pros. While in the course, you’ll work on case studies with each other, and do live mock sessions together.


A professional ugly duckling

When I asked Scott why he created the course, he explained that he felt like a "professional ugly duckling", and sought a path to become a pro. He wanted to help others shorten their partner learning curve.


Scott Pollack, the professional "ugly duckling", learned partnerships the hard way. 


Partnerships isn’t rocket science

Scott mentioned that: "Partnerships isn’t rocket science; it’s actually a lot harder!"

The partnership pro must draw on knowledge from psychology, emotional intelligence, and organizational leadership. To be a great partner pro, you must combine frameworks and tactics to be effective.




"Partnerships isn’t rocket science, it’s actually a lot harder!" —Scott Pollack


Learn by doing

At Firneo, you don’t just sit in a classroom and take notes. You actually get a chance to put into practice what you’ve learned. As participants in a Firneo cohort, you work as a team on case studies.


Each week you work through the type of challenges that a partner pro would face. You also learn from expert guest speakers who help you apply what you’ve learned by coming up with creative solutions to the case studies.



Firneo’s course includes case studies that you work together on with classmates in your cohort.


Full interview

Want to go deeper to learn more about Firneo? Check out the full interview I did with Scott Pollack below.




Aaron Olson 0:01

I’m talking today with Scott Pollack. Scott is the Co-founder of Firneo. Scott, thanks for joining me to talk about your course and our education hub.


Scott Pollack 0:09

Happy to be here. Thanks for having me.


Aaron Olson 0:11

Scott, it’s great to talk with you. Tell me a little bit about your course that we have over in our education hub that we’ve partnered up on to offer people who are looking to learn more about partnerships. Tell me a little bit about your background. How did you get started in producing courses and business development and partnerships?


Scott Pollack 0:31

Sure. So I spent the past 20 years in partnerships and business development roles that startups and large companies always feeling like what I would call a professional Ugly Duckling, right, I looked around me and I was surrounded by marketers, or lawyers or accountants and traditional salespeople. And I always felt like I was kind of alone on my career journey, kind of figuring things out for myself as I went along. And eventually, it came to realize that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. wasn’t the only professional Ugly Duckling out there.


And in the course of realizing that started to find my people and teach what I had been learning over the years, 10 plus years ago, I started teaching a course, called What exactly is business development, and, you know, really is focused on the idea of what makes for good partnerships based on the things that I had been learning. But I realized over time, that really resonated and led me down the path of writing, teaching, speaking building community, for other people who worked in partnerships, roles.


And that has culminated most recently, and in what we’ve built with Firneo, which is the an eight week certification program that we call the certified partnerships professional program. And in the course of that program, we teach the playbook for how to build really impactful partnerships. And that’s what we’re doing and really trying to provide, like, a comfort and insight, so that not only can you do the job well, but you can feel like you have the confidence that is often really hard to come by, because you’re in a job that most people like didn’t go to school for. And now you can.


Aaron Olson 2:09

I really liked that approach, how you have these cohorts where you can get together with another group of people to learn about partnerships, as people are going to through this cohort, do they interact with one another?


Scott Pollack 2:20

Absolutely. So the way that the program works is a combination of asynchronous and synchronous experiences. So every week, over the course of the eight weeks, we drop content that really covers frameworks, tactics, templates that help you learn how to do this job and apply those skills immediately. And so that’s content that’s available for people to you know, review on their time. Then also, every week, we have a bunch of ways to synchronously connect to peers, we have a weekly cohort meeting in which we do two things in particular, number one, is we go deep into what we call a partnership simulator, where we have a fictional company that we built a case study around, and as the participants in a cohort, you become the partnerships team for this fictional company that we call mindful.


And each week, we reveal a little bit more insight and together as a team, as a cohort, you’re working through challenges, you’re figuring out, how do you sell the CEO on this partnership opportunity, you’re diagnosing problems that arise in the partnership, you’re structuring, and negotiating partnership deals all in real time, you’re practicing the skills that you’ve learned, in addition to that, during those weekly court meetings, we also have opportunities to learn from experts.


We have mentors who shared their stories, their real world experiences, and we break those stories down to put ourselves in their shoes and say, What would you do if you were facing this particular problem that this head of partnerships had, and it’s an opportunity to build some pattern recognition and also really assess? Well, let me see how I can apply what I’ve learned. And so those are two things that really tried to focus on working with a group of peers to to kind of embody what you’re learning. And in addition to that, there’s opportunities to connect to others in the community with one on ones and, you know, on online community. So it’s a pretty robust experience. It’s meant to help you learn, but also learn alongside other people who are learning the same things as you.


Aaron Olson 4:15

You’re practicing what you’re learning, because so often, when I’ve gone through courses, like in college, you know, you learn things on the blackboard or on the PowerPoint screen, but you don’t always get a chance to practice it. So the ability to do that with your peers and with the experts that you have in the course is amazing. Tell me something about partnerships that people are surprised by when they’ve come from other roles that they learned while going through this course.


Scott Pollack 4:45

Yeah, I say, you know, partnerships is a role. That isn’t rocket science. It’s actually a lot harder. You know, partnerships a job that requires understanding how the human brain works. It requires understanding emotion. shins and organizational psychology. It’s it seems like a role that anybody could do. And it is certainly, but it’s a role that you have to learn the right way to apply the varying skills that we learn in life soft skills and in perhaps in school partnerships requires a deep understanding of frameworks and tactics to be effective in the job.


And that is what is a cause of a lot of, of the challenges and feelings of impostor syndrome that so many people in partnerships have been feeling in their career, whether you’re new, or frankly, when you whether you spent many years, that feeling is something that you’re not alone in feeling.


The solution to that, and that we really try to focus on is if you can learn how to apply those skills in the right order and understand how organizations think how stakeholders are going to assess the value of a partnership opportunity that will enable you to get buy in and get resources to understand how another organization, how a partner might be thinking about you as a partner. They allow you to structure partnership deals that can be truly game changing, and ultimately bring those deals to life, manage them, scale them build entire ecosystems that are modeled in the same way.


And that requires kind of taking that step back and really having a clear understanding of what are those steps in the process? What are those frameworks to follow? Because while it’s not rocket science, it’s something that we all can learn. And you know it, we just have to learn how to apply those skills the right way.


Aaron Olson 6:35

You mentioned that you’re taking a ton of this knowledge and partnerships that you’ve gained over the years, and you’re sort of compressing it down. How did you manage to compress 10 years worth of education about business development partnerships into just eight weeks?


Scott Pollack 6:49

Yeah, well, I think it’s a combination of things that we’ve talked about, which is, number one, is having a clear framework that to follow and having the clarity to be able to say, I know the situation that I’m facing right now I know how it fits into the broader picture of what I should be doing, what the right approach would be. And so having that clarity, that comes from having clear frameworks and tactics and so forth, is a huge part of being able to short circuit and shortcut the path to learn it. The other is the opportunity to practice, right.


You know, if you are, for example, an engineer, you are working on coding, you have endless opportunities to practice, you can run the code, see if it works, catch bugs, do it again, over and over again, it’s an iterative role. But in partnerships, you don’t always have that opportunity, you have a few chances in your career to create really impactful partnerships. And you don’t want to screw it up this course. And what we really try to focus on is creating opportunities to practice your skills and give you those reps that are built into many other roles, but are very hard to come by in partnerships.


And I think that’s the combination of those things, creates for a really important and impactful opportunity to, to come away feeling like you not only learn something, but you’ve embodied that knowledge, you are confident in that knowledge and you have a peer group that you can continue to get support from and give support to over the rest of your career. Yeah,


Aaron Olson 8:19

Scott, I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to come and talk with us about your course over at fonio. Is there anything that we didn’t touch on today that you’d like to leave people who are listening to this and thinking about maybe taking your course? Yeah,


Scott Pollack 8:32

I think, you know, the key thing that I think needs to be heard by everybody in partnerships, especially if you’re earlier in your career, is that you’re not alone. Because you often can feel that way you can often feel like I did as a professional, Ugly Duckling, you can feel like you’re the only one going through a particular challenge. And therefore you’re figuring it out for yourself.


But that’s not true. That’s, that’s good news. That’s not true. There are other people who’ve been in your shoes that you can learn from, there are frameworks that you can apply tactics that you can develop the skills, and opportunities to practice all that together, and that will help you not only feel more competent, and confident in the role but that you are not alone and that you are on a path that can be incredibly successful in a profession that is going to be game-changing for business as we know it.


Aaron Olson 9:28

Thanks so much, Scott. pleasure talking to you too.

Scott Pollack & Aaron Olson 12 min

Gain 10 Years of Partner Knowledge in 8 Weeks with Scott Pollack of Firneo

The journey that led Scott Pollack of Firneo to create his 8-week partnerships course.

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