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It’s Not A Train

Hi Everyone,

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that my first emotional response to a situation was sometimes wrong, or more often, incomplete. However, that doesn’t change the intensity of the feelings that I have at the moment. Our emotions are powerful motivators to action and can get the best of us if we don’t remind ourselves to seek understanding before reacting. Stress makes clear thinking and self-control even more challenging.

Covid and the political unrest in our country are creating stress for all of us; even if you don’t recognize it, know that it’s just under the surface, elevating the strength of your emotional response. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In part, it’s an evolutionary protection mechanism. However, I want to bring this to your attention to be more aware of this stress and how you might be feeling at the moment. I’ve spent a lot of time teaching my children that they can’t always control how they feel, but they can always control their actions. Or more frequently, I ask them, “are you in control of your emotions, or are they in control of you?”

I am sharing this with you because we have an incomplete picture of what is happening in our country right now. Over time we’ll gain a better understanding of the impact of Covid, the violence at our Nation’s Capitol, and of course, the transition to a new President next week. If you’re experiencing a range of emotions or you find yourself easily angered these days, try to take a moment of pause and remember that your emotional response may be based on incomplete knowledge. Right now, I need everyone in Tahzoo to focus on taking good care of one another and help each other cope or settle down if someone is having a bad day. We are, first and foremost, a family.

We have many reasons to be hopeful right now. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and to quote my brother Matt, “it’s not a train.” The vaccine is being distributed, we have a new wave of economic stimulus supporting our fellow Americans, and Tahzoo has significant opportunities for growth in the New Year. As the tapestry of time unfolds, we’ll see all these moments in context with clarity and certainty that we can’t possibly understand today. As I said on the call today, let’s focus on taking care of one another and taking care of our clients. I am here for any of you who need someone to chat with, are looking to gain some perspective or a shoulder to cry on. Please send me an email or call my cell at any time.

Let’s go be great!

Brad

Keep On And Carry On

Hi Everyone,

Oh my gosh, it’s so nice to write to you in the New Year. I hope everyone had an excellent holiday and had a chance to unwind. As my dad would say, “it’s been tough sledding the last couple of months.” I’m sure everyone enjoyed the break. I am proud of how well each of you managed the last year.

In 1939, the British Government, in preparation for the impending World War and to bolster its citizens’ morale, sponsored the now quite famous ad campaign “KEEP CALM and CARRY ON.” Given the first seven days of 2021, I’d like to share a similar sentiment with all of you. 

We are going to be okay, as a country, as a company, and as individuals. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and to see the world in a bleak way, but I’d encourage you to focus on the things you are grateful for and work on the problems in front of you, rather than worry about things that could happen but haven’t happened yet. So, let’s all keep calm and carry on, it worked for an entire nation, and it will work for Tahzoo. 

I know it’s hard not to worry sometimes, I am reminded of a famous quote by Mark Twain, “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” Every time I recognize that I am worrying about something that hasn’t happened, I think of this quote. It’s not to say bad things don’t happen because they do. It’s to say that worrying about what might happen deprives you of the energy and focus you’ll need when it matters most.

We have lots of work to do as a company. In 2021, we’ll grow by more than 50%. That means hiring a lot of new people, helping each of them learn the Tahzoo way, and of course, providing white-glove service to our clients. Focus on what is in front of you and on delivering excellent work. Each of us, including myself, need to take it up a notch this year.

Tahzoo’s most significant priorities of excellent customer service, exceptional quality work, and growing the business can only be achieved if we execute like a team. Everyone needs to focus on their communication, collaboration, and accountability within their team and their practice area. We did a great job supporting one another last year through some challenging times, and we’ll do even better this year.

Quoting the famous Class of 99 speech: “don’t worry about the future, or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.”

Let’s go be great,

Brad

Lessons Learned in 2020

Hi Everyone,

This will be the last Desk of Brad I send in 2020. Tomorrow is January 1st, 2021!!! It could not come soon enough. Wow, I mean, wow, what a year it’s been! I’ve been around longer than most of you (but not that much longer), and it’s safe to say that we’ve never seen anything like this before. I wonder how we will tell our Grandchildren about this year when they inevitably ask, “Grampa/Grandma, what was it like during the pandemic?”. I get the sense that history is unfolding right now, a series of events that will be consequential over the next century or more. And not just something that happened somewhere else, but something that is happening to each of us … So, what are you going to say?

For my part, I am going to talk mostly about the things I learned this year. Of course, the historical narrative will be woven into my discussion. It’s not many years that you have an Impeachment, Pandemic, An Economic Collapse, Millions of Fellow Americans Unemployed, Breadlines, Political Unrest, Racial Injustice, A Presidential Election, Developed Multiple Vaccines within a year, and the Loss of 100s of Thousands of American Lives. We all had to learn to stay at home, work from home, school our children from home, all while managing the low/high-grade stress of uncertainty and fear related to Covid. It’s safe to say that everyone has been tested mightily this year.

When I was a young teenager, I read a book called “The bumps are what you climb on.” The whole idea is that you learn from your challenges more than your successes. Along those lines, I’ve always appreciated Bill Gate’s quote, “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” In the famous Commencement Speech of ’99, by Baz Luhrmann, there is an excerpt that has resonated with me since I first heard it “don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindsides you at 4:00 pm on some idle Tuesday.”

None of us saw 2020 coming. I share these quotes with you to have some insight into how I choose to experience the world.

Lessons learned for me from 2020:

It’s essential to have your life in order as best as you can, especially when times are good, because you never know when you’ll need to handle a crisis. Said differently, Dig your well before you’re thirsty by Harvey McKay. It’s so essential to make investments in your life and your friendships before you need help; otherwise, it will be too late when the crisis hits.

Gratefulness is the secret to happiness. I had to provide a lot of emotional support to family, friends, and many of you this year. When I was out of energy, tired or sad, rather than wallow in emotional suffering, I focused on what I am grateful for, and that ALWAYS lifted my spirits. My Pastor once always said, “you can’t minister from an empty well.” I learned to take this practice to a new level this year; every day, I took time to count my blessings. This habit has changed me forever.

Consciously decide what is important to you and make time for those things. Don’t let the urgent overtake the important in your life. Ironically, in the last Desk of Brad in January 2020, I was worried everyone was too busy and needed to focus on what’s important. Little did I know that 2020 would be a crucible of clarity.

From the first paragraph of that DOB …

Ever notice how much work you can get done the week before you go on vacation? Isn’t it just a matter of focus and prioritization? I am reminded of the Stephen Covey exercise in which you have several large rocks and small rocks that need to be squeezed into a large glass jar. If you put the little rocks in first, you can never make room for the large rocks. If you put the large rocks in first, then there is plenty of room for the small rocks to fit in and around the large rocks. Another way to think of this is that some urgent activities and activities are important. Always remember that the important is more important than the urgent.

Tell the people you love that you love them more often. Show them you love them as often as you can. Frequent little gestures go a lot further than the occasional grand gesture. We are granted a limited amount of time in this life, express your emotions. Although we put it out of our minds most of the time, the clock is ticking.

As for Tahzoo – Work is more about who you work with than what you do. I’ve seen so many acts of overt kindness within the company this year that I’ve been overwhelmed at times. What has impressed me the most this year is our teamwork and collaboration. Not only did we manage our change, but we also helped our clients manage the changes as well. There is a reason we look to hire smart and happy people because it creates possibilities. It turns out that this year more than ever, being surrounded by colleagues who care made the year a little bit more tolerable. “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a teamwork, a company work, a society work, and a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi

Looking Forward 2021 

We have a lot to be thankful for, to say the least. We have so much opportunity, and we’ve spent the better part of 10 years learning how to drive and implement digital transformation. There is no C-Level Executive at a Fortune 500 company in the world who would not be the least interested in hearing what we have accomplished and what we can do. It turns out the enabling working from home, shopping from home, and being healthy at home, our core solutions are in high demand and will be for the foreseeable future. We’ve set the Tahzoo table for the next ten years of growth.

We really couldn’t be in a better market position, except maybe companies that sell Hepa Air Filters. True story, Matt Heidemann and I we’re playing golf on a muni course in San Diego in early February 2020, we were paired with two strangers. After the usual, I suck at golf speeches, and we talked about what we all did for a living. One of the guys owned a business selling Air Filters to hospitals, and he was already gearing up for a massive year. We should have offered to take over his marketing 🙂

We did okay in 2020 financially, we will be flat or just slightly below 2019 numbers in terms of revenue, and we’ll have a small loss from a profit perspective. I’m quite pleased with this performance, given what I’ve seen happen to many businesses. We managed to keep our accounts moving forward and avoid layoffs. 2021 will be a busy year, we’ve been hiring as fast as we can, and our pipeline is about as large as I’ve ever seen it. We will launch our software business in earnest, and the investments in operational excellence will not only improve the quality of our employee experience it will also improve our client experience.

We have a lot of work to do next year, and it will be challenging and rewarding. I am looking forward to this next phase of Tahzoo. We’ll call it Tahzoo 4.0. So much to be excited about, but as I always say, “don’t dance on the five-yard line, only dance after we score a touchdown.” Another salient excerpt from the class of ’99 speech “Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either — your choices are half chance; so are everybody else’s.” The grass isn’t greener on the other side; it’s just different grass. Control is just an illusion, and you can’t control your life; you can make decisions. Maybe they work out; perhaps they don’t. But we’ll do it together, as a team.

I’ll take these lessons and perspective to heart. They’ll be the basis for my storytelling to my Grandchildren one day. There are many good storytellers at Tahzoo, and if you have something you’d like to share with the company or me, I would be thrilled to hear from you. I am sure your teammates would too. Let’s continue to be generous with one another; we still have tough days ahead.

I am so proud and grateful to be working with each of you.

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year!!!

 Brad

The Most Important Metric: Employee Satisfaction

Hello Everyone,

Happy Holidays!!! I know it’s been a tough year, and I trust that each of you will find time to connect with family and friends, even if it’s over Zoom.

There are a lot of ways to look at the company’s performance. As I say all the time, employee satisfaction is one of the most important metrics that I use to determine how well we are doing. Our voice of the culture survey is a tool for each of you to express your satisfaction, concerns, and ideas for improving Tahzoo. Every week, just like writing the Desk of Brad, reviewing the VOC scores and commentary is a habit for me. While I don’t get to talk with each of you every week, I do get to hear from you each week, which is super meaningful to me.

2020 has been a tough year for all of us. Adversity can either bring a team together or tear it apart. I am so proud of all of you. In 2020, we came together as a much stronger team. We’re collaborating, communicating, and caring for one another. I’ve seen so many acts of overt kindness this year. You guys are doing an excellent job of picking each other up after a hard day and going out of your way to connect with your colleagues. As the pandemic subsides and things get back to a new normal, let’s not forget what it takes to be a great team. You need smart and happy people who care about one another that are focused on client success. It’s a simple formula.

I asked the strategy team to pull together a year-over-year comparison of our employee satisfaction. Meng built the following report for you. Thank you, Meng! You can see that we are consistently demonstrating a higher level of employee satisfaction in 2020 over 2019. When I see these numbers, I see each of you trying to make working at Tahzoo a better experience. I am excited about what we’ve achieved together during a challenging year, and I am thrilled about our possibilities in 2021.

Let’s go be great,
Brad

Responsibility and Resolution

Dear Team,

Thank you for a good week, everyone. We are making significant progress on several fronts. We need to focus on making our deadlines and taking good care of clients as our top priority. It’s been a year of difficult challenges and we had some big wins. Let’s focus on finishing the year strong with an eye towards 2021.

I’ve been thinking about the difference between responsibility and resolution. I am working with the Team to ensure we provide more clarity about who’s responsible and how we reach a resolution on issues. It seems to me that we have too many problems that are languishing and remaining unresolved. I want everyone to inventory the top 5 to 10 challenges that you regularly face that go unresolved. Think categorically, not specifically. We are looking to identify the top 10 issue types to work them out of Tahzoo systematically.

In the voice of the culture this week, please put your thoughts in the comments section. We’ll use this as a starting point for defining our plan for improving the experience at Tahzoo.

Let’s go be great,
Brad

Q4 Wrap-Ups and MarketerCX

Hi Everyone, 

It’s the end of another busy week at Tahzoo! We’re continuing to see momentum from our customers and prospects as Q4 wraps up, and it seems that many organizations are beginning to become ‘unstuck’ as they forge ahead into 2021. Perhaps it’s the hope for new vaccines becoming available, the clarity on the election, or the annual resourcing and budget planning process. In any event, it’s creating a burst of energy on the business development side of the house, which is fantastic as we close out what has otherwise been a challenging year. It is refreshing to have so many new opportunities and clients to look forward to!  

Today, our team pitched Tahzoo’s new software product, MarketerCX (www.marketercx.com), to a new prospective client. For those who may not be familiar, MarketerCX is a simple UI that consolidates all of the MarTech systems a marketer needs in their daily work, but without the complexity or time-consuming hassle of switching back and forth between disparate systems.  

A little background on the inception of MarketerCX, there are essentially two options for today’s modern marketer, to either engage with independent best-of-breed marketing platforms or consolidated suites. But we’ve found a few consistent problems with both of these approaches: 

  • Marketers are overtaxed – limitations on time, capabilities, budgets, and resources. 
  • Capability gaps – many systems were purchased and implemented at separate times and with individual needs in mind. Thus, many times the systems don’t talk to each other effectively without time-consuming human intervention.  
  • Inconsistent User Experiences – the average enterprise uses 120 different systems. Marketers cannot easily switch between campaigns because other channels use different software systems.

In addition to inconsistent UX and UI across MarTech systems, most systems rely on unique metrics that inhibit universal efficacy. Not only are the experiences varying, but they tend to be overly complicated and therefore ineffective, not to mention expensive.  

MarketerCX’s UI offers a simplified view of all of the following systems: 

  • Marketing Resource Management  
  • Campaign Management  
  • Customer Data Platform  
  • Content Management System  
  • Digital Asset Management  
  • Personalization/Decision Engine 
  • Web Analytics  
  • BI / AI  
  • Web Publishing  
  • Email, Social  
  • Direct Mail  
  • Print  

Imagine just one UI where you can take care of all of these activities with one comprehensive view… it’s a game-changer for Fortune 500 marketers. If you’re interested in seeing the full pitch deck, send a note to Christine Linn, and she will be happy to share it with you. Great job to Darrell, John, Bryan, Don, Christine, Dave, and everyone involved in making this pitch possible.  

We’re excited about the next steps and the future of MarketerCX. I feel this new solution will help marketers take inventory of how to make the most of their interactions with various technologies. We have less than a month left in 2020, now is the time to finish strong and set ourselves up for a fantastic 2021. 

Let’s go be great, 

Brad 

Being Thankful About The Better Things

Hi Everyone, 
 
I trust that you had a safe and restful Thanksgiving Day, that it was full of gratefulness. Although we’ve been through a lot this year, we have also been quite fortunate. As the holiday season begins in earnest, let’s try to be mindful of the grace and blessings in our lives. I know it’s been a tough year for everyone. I can see the company’s stress. Hopefully, we can lift one another when someone is having a down day. Let your character shine through when it matters most; build each other up and focus on taking care of clients and your colleagues. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, this year being the most poignant in my lifetime. More than ever, I recognize that the coming months will be difficult; we are entering a period in which we will need to come together and persevere. There is light at the end of the tunnel; the vaccine is on the way, we have many opportunities to grow the business and hire new people into our company. For this, I am very grateful and thankful that together we can make a difference. 
 
Let’s go be great, 

Brad

Visiting the Richmond Office

Hi Everyone, 
 
A big shout out to Tahzoo RVA!!! I had a chance to visit our Richmond office this week. I visited with several members of the team, in a socially distanced and masked kind of way. Easy to do, the office is quite spacious. It was great to see some old friends and even meet Jon Harrison on his first day at Tahzoo. Our first real office as a company was in Richmond, it has always been the unofficial headquarters for Tahzoo Labs. Many of our best ideas and the strength of our engineering excellence has been rooted in the Richmond team. I see so much promise in our RVA team and I am looking forward to their contribution to Tahzoo becoming a software-enabled services business. A big thank you to Dara, Eddie, Travis, Patrick, Fletch, and Sarah for all your hard work keeping the spirit of Tahzoo RVA alive and well! 


Let’s go be great
Brad 

The Power of People

Hi Everyone, 
 
Monday was Memorial Day and, in my DOB, last Friday I shared with you the importance of remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. There is a small graveyard on Bainbridge Island and on Monday my children put small American flags on the gravestones of our veterans. My in-laws are buried there and they both served during world war II. I think the United States of America is an amazing country and I believe in American exceptionalism. 
  
America is in the middle of a pandemic, the worst health crisis in over a century and we have the highest unemployment rate since the great depression. We’ve all been in various levels of quarantine for a couple of months and more than 100,000 Americans have lost their life to Covid-19. The country is trying to find its way back to a healthy and safe place and start rebuilding our economy.   
  
Times are tough, really tough and we need leadership. I shared Lincoln’s speech last week because it represented a set of values that I believe in. Given that Lincoln was 28 when he shared that speech, it was an early indicator of his character and potential leadership skills. As it turned out he managed the country through the most difficult period in our nation’s history. 
  
It’s was galling to have seen the pointless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Then made even worse by a series of riots that erupted across the country last night, including 7 people who were shot in Louisville. This morning I watched a new crew from CNN arrested on live TV while covering the riots.   
  
If that was not enough to raise my sense of concern for the country, I was dismayed to see two incendiary tweets from the President in the last 24 hours. The first tweet was a retweet of a video in which a county commissioner declared ‘The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.’, although the commissioner quickly recanted his position as a jest. While not likely to meet the standard of illegal speech defined by the U.S. Supreme court case, Brandenburg vs. Ohio, http://landmarkcases.c-span.org/Case/23/Brandenburg-v-Ohio It is certainly not a representative example of quality leadership, decorum, and civility in our public discourse. Aren’t we all Americans, regardless of political affiliation? 
  
The second tweet from the president was far more odious. 
  
…” these THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!” 
  
Read plainly, the President insinuating that the U.S. Military will be activated to assume control of Minneapolis and the if there is looting, U.S. troops will in an extrajudicial way, execute U.S. citizens? 
  
The Posse Comitatus Act https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R42659.pdf is a law the prevents the use of the US military as a substitute for civilian policing activities. Furthermore, the President can’t just assume control of a State or municipality. I could go on and on about how ridiculous that portion of the tweet is relative to our laws and the power vested in the executive branch under the constitution, but I want to get to the central point. 
  
There is a historical context to the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. During the late Sixties, The Miami police chief, Walter Headley’s aggressive policing of black neighborhoods was denounced by civil-rights leaders. At a news conference in December 1967, as tensions simmered in response to months of police brutality, Headley threatened violent reprisals if the situation escalated. “We don’t mind being accused of police brutality. They haven’t seen anything yet.” …. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Headley told reporters, according to media reports at the time. 
  
Twitter tagged this last tweet as glorifying violence. 
  
We all have a right to free speech, but it is not unfettered. You can’t yell fire in a crowded movie theater, and you can’t incite people to violence or illegal activities. While the President’s conduct may not be illegal it is unbecoming of a leader. Lincoln feared that erosion of the rule of law could potentially unwind our great nation. The following is from my excerpt from Lincoln’s Lyceum speech in the DOB last week. 
  
The importance of the rule of law… 
  
“I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is, even now, something of ill-omen, amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgment of Courts; and the worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice. This disposition is awfully fearful in any community; and that it now exists in ours, though grating to our feelings to admit, it would be a violation of truth, and an insult to our intelligence, to deny.” 
  
Our great Presidents, (to name a few) Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy brought the country together in service of a higher purpose. I remember vividly the tragedy of 9/11and how President Bush, with decorum and grace, brought our country together. The three first words in the constitution of the United States of America in the large font reads … WE THE PEOPLE. 
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 

Democracy is an Innovation

Hi Everyone, 
 
Happy Halloween!!! 
  
Thank you to the social team for setting up the spooky happy hour. It was fun to see everyone in costume and having a good time. I am finding gratefulness in the little things that we can do to keep a semblance of normalcy during this challenging year. 
  
I am also grateful that each of you will have next Tuesday off to go vote and/or participate in supporting the election process. I thought I’d share one of my favorite sections from the Declaration of Independence. 
  
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” 
  
Democracy is an amazing innovation. Instead of a revolution, which comes with partial or total destruction of a society, we cast our votes and every four or eight years, we peacefully transition our government. I know many of you may be worried about this upcoming election, let’s trust the 244 years of institutional strength we’ve built in our country. I am confident that regardless of the outcome, our country will continue to prosper. 
  
I’ll leave you with an excerpt from Ronald Reagan’s 1980 election-eve national address. “… These visitors to that city on the Potomac do not come as white or black, red or yellow; they are not Jews or Christians; conservatives or liberals; or Democrats or Republicans. They are Americans awed by what has gone before, proud of what for them is still… a shining city on a hill.” 
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad