Staying calm and taking care of yourself

“Life is 10 percent what you experience and 90 percent how you respond to it.”  – Dorothy M. Neddermeyer 

Hi Everyone, 
  
I wanted to follow up on my letter from last week. I ran into Tom and his wife Cori a couple of days ago and found out he closed two more remodeling contracts! Wow, I guess spending time at home has many people getting to all of those “Honey Do” projects that they have been putting off. 
  
About three or four months ago I changed the locked screen on my phone to a quote from Mark Twain. “I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” Read that quote again… it took me a second read to get it. 
  
I put this on my lock screen because I spend every day running through scenarios in my head about how to drive the business, manage conversations, make decisions, etc. It’s a very useful habit for the job I have but it was also adding to my stress level. When I read this quote it gave me the freedom to be more dispassionate and analytical about things. It was a way to remind myself not to allow my brain to run wild, generating anxiety around worst-case scenario outcomes. 
 
It got me thinking about anxiety and how I manage that in my life. First of all, let’s just be super clear, we are living in a time of heightened anxiety and stress. Each of our lives has been disrupted and the timeline for the end of all of this is at best, ambiguous. So, it’s normal and okay to be anxious these days and you won’t always recognize it when it’s happening to you. You could find yourself short-tempered, not sleeping well or just having trouble motivating yourself … anxiety manifests in many different ways. 
  
I want each of you to take a quick anxiety self-inventory – a little homework for each of you, so grab a pen and paper or open notepad and answer the following questions: 
   

  1. How do you feel when you recognize you’re anxious? Describe the physical feeling … do you feel tension in your shoulders or sick to your stomach? Whatever it feels like for you, write it down. 
  2. What was going on in your brain right before you become anxious? What were you doing or thinking about? For example, as I mentioned today, my Mom went into the hospital last night and I found myself working and the random thought of “what am I going to do if, God forbid she dies,” popped into my head. 
  3. What triggers an anxious thought or loss of focus for you? For me, it’s two things, random thoughts and when I consciously play out worse case scenarios. As with all of these questions, everyone is different, so do your best to write down your experience. There is no right or wrong here. 
  4. When you’re triggered how does your communication or thought process change? Do you talk differently, does your choice of language change? For example, when I am anxious, I talk a lot faster than normal. 
  5. Write out a list of 5 things you do that cause you to lose track of time. For me they’re reading, writing, tennis, chess, playing with my kids, going on long drives, watching movies and a few other things. Write out your list. 

I want you to do this exercise so that you can be more aware of when you’re anxious, and what is going on for you when that happens. I don’t have a magic pill for you but as you can imagine I have a stressful job, so I’ll share some of my techniques to manage stress. 
  
I watch comedies – laughter is great medicine. My brother Matt has a few impressions of President Camacho from Idiocracy that have left me rolling on the floor a couple of times. 
  
I’ve turned off all of the notifications on my phone, except the ringer. I make a conscious choice to use my phone, but I don’t let all of those notifications trigger my anxiety or remove me from the moment. 
  
I walk around a lot, I don’t mean I take a lot of long walks, but I mean I get up and move around. 
  
Several times a day I stop what I’m doing to focus on breathing and relaxing. I also try to enjoy a view. I look out a window or at a piece of art or at something that’s ascetically pleasing to me. 
 
I exercise. You just can’t beat the restorative power of exercise. Get up and do something, go for a fast walk. 
  
I write out a to-do list every day. Doing this gives me a feeling of control and I make conscious choices around how I am going to spend my day. 
  
Lastly, try to do something every day that makes me lose track of time. Go look at your list and do more of it! It will help inoculate you from moments of stress. They call it being in flow, go look up Flow theory, there are many benefits to being “in flow”. If you’d like to learn more start here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology) 
 
These are a few of my coping techniques. Each of us has our own patterns, take the time to be conscious and present about feeling anxious so that you can manage it. I realize that for some people anxiety is a medical condition and my techniques may not get the job done, that’s between you and your doctor. 
  
I want each of you to know how proud I am of you. As a company and as a collection of teams, we’ve come together in this difficult time and done an amazing job of supporting one another. We have done some of our best work in the last few weeks. I see everyone hustling and working hard, I am so appreciative and proud. Remember we are agents of change, that’s who we are and that’s what we do. We can spread positive energy and we can reduce anxiety in ourselves and for each other. We can make the world a little bit better every day. We are Tahzoo. 
 
Let’s go be great,  
Brad  

Spreading Optimism while Practicing Social Distancing

“Be the light in the dark, be the calm in the storm and be at peace while at war.” – Mike Dolan 

Hello everyone,  
 
As I mentioned in previous Desks of Brad, I was supposed to be doing my cross country BBQ drive this week, my how much things have changed in such a short period of time. I don’t know how it feels for each of you but for me, it feels like I was watching a movie in a theater and the film strip was torn in half. There was a moment of concern as the theater went dark and then a whole new movie started. This kind of feels like life right now. I was enjoying one movie, ready for the next part in the plot and then all of a sudden, an entirely new movie started. I don’t know about this new movie yet and quite frankly I don’t like it so far, it seems like a boring horror movie. Just scary enough to keep me engaged but no clear plotline or ending. Either way, life goes on and I have a story to share about the power of positive thinking. 
  
I’ve been contemplating the long-term impacts of COVID-19, focused mostly on the cultural and economic changes. For the last few years, the economy has been booming and most of our challenges as a country have been self-created. Everyone has been busy, enjoying new technology, spending money and sharing their adventures online. How many times have you stood in line at a coffee shop where no one was talking, everyone was just on their phones ignoring each other? We’ve been living with a different kind of social distancing for a while now. 
  
One of the best things about this new era is that talking with strangers (at the proper distance) has taken on a new meaning. Social interactions are much more precious when we are all feeling a bit isolated. The need to connect and share with others is an essential part of being human. I’ll write more about this in the coming weeks however, it’s my hypothesis that this pandemic, as bad as it is, will restore some centeredness to our culture. We will once again take time to invest in our families, our homes and our neighbors. 
  
I’ve had two interesting situations this week that I’d like to share with you. 
  
I visited with the Farley’s this week, they are old friends and mentors of mine. Jan is a Pastor at a church and Rick is a semi-retired Naval Officer and psychologist. I try to see them when I am in San Diego, it’s like visiting with my second family. Rick built a third story patio/crow’s nest on his house a few years ago. The view is great, you can see the ocean and the entire street. We sat up on the patio, there were lots of people out and about walking their dogs or just taking a stroll. Rick made a point of wishing good cheer to everyone walking by. He joked about how we can still be neighborly and keep the proper social distancing. You couldn’t walk by the Farley’s house that day without some good wishes and positive energy coming your way. Say hello to people when you see them, wish them well and be a good neighbor … right? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be or used to be? 
  
Another story I’d like to share happened at the hotel I’ve been staying at. Last Sunday night after grabbing a drink at the bar (the bar is closed now), I met a couple who was sitting in the lobby area. I said “hi” to them and they asked me if I wanted to join them for a drink. I sat down and we had a lovely chat; they are an older couple and were discussing their upcoming vacation that had just been canceled. Tom is in the construction industry. He was very concerned about his business, the economy, and how the stock market decline was going to crush his company. 
  
I had been thinking about the impact of COVID-19, so I shared with him my belief that people are going to begin investing in their homes. I told him that after spending a lot more time at home, people would be reminded of all of the projects that needed to get done. In my estimation, this would eventually be really good for his business. 
  
I am always the optimist, but I really believe this experience will cause all of us to be more narrowly focused on family, friends and our homes. Again, I’ll write more about this in the coming weeks. The point is that this man, Tom, was taken back with my perspective because for him it was all doom and gloom. My point of view gave him some hope and optimism that he didn’t previously have. We wrapped up our conversation, with the usual “nice to meet you,” and “hope to see you around,” we even did the elbow bump goodbye. 
  
A couple of days later, again as I was walking back to my room from the bar (you could only get drinks to-go then), I saw Tom and his wife sitting in the lobby area again. They waved me over and Tom shared how our conversation gave him encouragement, so the next day he met with his partners and told them that they shouldn’t worry too much about the economy and to keep driving the business forward. I thought to myself … “I’m glad I was able to share some optimism in a time of need.” He then continued to share that he closed two new contracts that day which represented more than 20% of their annual revenue and that maybe I was right about this culture change thing. He was beaming with joy and happiness. It was a really nice moment for all of us. I made a toast to the power of positive thinking (no clinking of glasses of course). 
  
I want to tell each of you to be positive in this time of concern and ambiguity. I want you to remember that little comments and stories of hope can make a big difference in people’s lives. You may not always get direct feedback as I got from Tom … but, please know that you’re making a difference. You can sit on your front porch and wish your neighbors well. You can say “hi” to people passing by instead of looking at your phone. You can drop off food to a neighbor who shouldn’t be leaving his or her house. You can make a difference … big or small it all adds up. I always end these letters with “Let’s go be great.” It’s time for everyone who is fortunate enough to be part of the Tahzoo family to “GO BE GREAT!” 
 
Have a great weekend,  
Brad 

On the road again

“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey” – Babs Hoffman 

Hello everyone,  
 
My journey across America … I start my trip from Seattle to DC tomorrow. I’ll be heading down the coastal states and then across the lower half of the country, mostly on interstate 10, straight through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and the rest of the southern states. Then I’ll swing up through the eastern parts of the Carolinas, Kentucky and then West Virginia to DC. No, I am not running for president or participating in a political campaign or, for those of you who remember, following the Grateful Dead. 
  
I am starting on one of my cross-country BBQ drives. Back in the late 90s, I needed a break from work and thought … road trip! I love driving, I love BBQ, and I love hearing people’s stories. I’ve never met a Pit Master or an owner of a BBQ restaurant who didn’t have a story to tell. Since then I’ve traveled every road across America from east to west, and many of the north to south interstates as well. I think America is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and driving is one of the best ways to experience it, thank you, Dwight Eisenhower, for building the National Interstate System. 
  
Back in the day smartphones weren’t available, so I would find BBQ joints by asking local policemen or talking to people at truck stops. It’s a little easier today but still, the best places are hidden gems or up and coming restaurants that haven’t reached national acclaim. I’ve been to just about every famous BBQ restaurant you can name and yes, I have opinions on all of them. BBQ has become much more popular in the last 10 years which has only made these adventures more fun. 
  
I’ll answer a few common questions in advance … My favorite BBQ spot is Smitty’s Market in Lockhart, Texas and my favorite rib joint is Pappy’s in St. Louis, Missouri. My least favorite type of BBQ is the Eastern Texas Louisiana style, it tastes like candied meat. I’ve only had one true speeding ticket, but I’ve been pulled over more than a half dozen times for random “traffic infractions” otherwise known as, “I see a guy driving by himself in a car and he might be running drugs, let’s find out.” I get the combo platter and the sides just as often as the BBQ. I’ve driven cross country in as few as three days, and in as long as a couple of weeks. I try to make two stops per day, yes that’s a lot of BBQ but I’m tasting more than I’m eating. My record is six BBQ joints in one day – that wasn’t a great idea. 
  
I enjoy getting out of my bubble and meeting new people. As I said, everyone has a story to tell. The difference in life is the books you’ve read and the people you’ve met, and hopefully, I’ll meet some interesting people. Sometimes I get lonely and after a few days of driving, I find myself hungrier for a spirited discussion than for BBQ. I swap recipes and techniques when I can but that is easier said than done, Pit Masters are notoriously secretive. Nonetheless, I am super excited about this trip and I’m looking forward to another adventure. 
 
One thing I am adding to my trip this year is Tiki Bars. I love rum and the Tiki culture, so if you have any recommendations for either BBQ joints or Tiki Bars, please send them to me. 
 
This year I’ll be posting my pictures and thoughts about my trip on Instagram and Twitter. My account handle is @wonderingbuddha please follow me and forward my username to those you think might be interested. 
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 

Who Do You Want to Work With?

“You can’t teach employees to smile. They have to smile before you hire them.”  – Arte Nathan 

Do they give you energy? I know we’ve been interviewing a lot of people lately. I was thinking about our clients and how helping them change corporate culture is hard. It’s not just that we invent strategies and implement systems, we also have to help them to adopt it too. It takes extra energy to drive change, extra get up and go, an extra force of will. There are many different models for change management which I’ll save for another Desk of Brad. 
  
One thing that we can do immediately to improve our change management skills is to hire high energy people. People with drive and passion, the kind of people who leave you excited when you finish talking with them. We should be on the lookout for these types of people to bring into our company. Enthusiasm is contagious, and who doesn’t want to go to work every day with a bunch of fired up colleagues who want to make a difference? 
  
It’s just another way of identifying happy people. The happy people in my life always leave me feeling better and as I’ve been thinking about it, give me the energy to be better, to do better. Our clients need the same support and since the work we do is hard, each of us needs people around us who feed us goodwill and provide us that extra burst of enthusiasm to go the extra mile. So next time you meet someone and think they’d be a good fit for the company or interview someone for a job after the interview ask yourself, do I have more or less energy than I did when I started the interview? 
  
People give me energy by asking smart questions. Or they present a point of view that I hadn’t considered, and they might just think the work we do at Tahzoo is super cool. I don’t know exactly how to qualify it, but I just feel better after talking with certain people. If someone doesn’t inspire you and leave you with more energy, then I’d strongly suggest you consider not hiring that person for Tahzoo. Let’s go round up a bunch of super-smart, super happy people who are excited about what we do for a living. 
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 

Be Interesting by First, Being Interested

“Be fast, be first, but never be alone. Nothing can replace the value of teamwork.” ― Farshad Asl 

Hi Everyone, 
  
I wanted to say thank you for all the feedback and thoughtfulness I received from many of you regarding last week’s Desk of Brad. Indeed, we are at the threshold of some very interesting times. Keep the ideas flowing and continue to reach out to me with your thoughts and suggestions. I also appreciated the book recommendations I received… thank you! 
  
When I was contemplating starting Tahzoo, the first thing I did was write out a list of values that I wanted to build a company around. This was before we had a name and frankly even before deciding what the company would be doing. In my mind, if we could agree on a core set of values and organizing principles, then we’d have the opportunity to bring together a group of likeminded people to solve problems. A careful note of distinction — I never expected to build a company where like-mindedness was centered around one or a few technical disciplines, quite to the contrary, it seemed to me that having a core set of values would be the glue that would hold the company together rather than consistency in our collective expertise. 
  
The purpose of these values was to ensure that we could bring together a wide variety of people from differing backgrounds and experiences to solve some very difficult problems and be able to count on these types of people every day. I think Smart and Happy is the easiest of the values to understand. Who wouldn’t want to go to work every day with a group of smart and happy people? It wouldn’t matter what you “did” for the company or that you’d work within integrated teams, but you could count on the notion that at least you’d be working with Smart and Happy teammates. It’s a simple hypothesis, “that consistency in values across a company would facilitate more effective teams and better solutions as we tackled difficult problems”. 
  
A quick reminder of the company values – The words have been tweaked from time to time but the sentiment remains that same. 

  1. If you care about your clients and you care about your employees, you’ll have a company worth caring about 
  2. We hire for character before we hire for capability or qualifications 
  3. We want to work with interesting people, who are interested in change 
  4. We believe in the marketplace of ideas 
  5. We hire Smart and Happy people 

  Touching on value number three, “We want to work with interesting people who are interested in change” … My DOB last week was about change. I approach change with vigor and curiosity, maybe it’s a way of dealing with my fear of change or a natural extension of my curiosity. Either way, I find the idea of change, understanding what is going to change, and the reward of experiencing change to be a central and driving force in my life. I am excited about all the change happening within Tahzoo right now, we are going places! We are doing great work for amazing clients and most importantly we are perfecting our craft. 
  
I was chatting with Dara Keo, VP of Technology, today about the importance of trust among teams and trust between Tahzoo and our clients. One of the first and most important steps in building trust is getting to know one another. We have a lot of interesting people at Tahzoo, take the time to get to know your peers, their interests, their hobbies, and their passions. My challenge to each of you this week is to go spend some time with someone in the company you don’t know very well and get to know them. Being interested is the start of being interesting, and if you work at Tahzoo you’re an interesting person. 
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 

The Next Big Idea

Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is a painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.” – Mandy Hale 

Hi Everyone, 
  
When we started Tahzoo, our tag line was Tahzoo “Driven by big ideas”. It was a way for us to communicate our ambition and the impact we expected to have on behalf of our clients. Aspirational for sure and it’s remained a central theme for Tahzoo ever since. Over the last week, I’ve been clearing my calendar so I can have time to think about the future of our company. When I started Tahzoo in 2010 my central thesis was that personalized experiences would replace the “one size fits all” digital experience. From a marketing perspective, it wasn’t that companies couldn’t figure out who you were or the experience that would be most pleasing to you, the gating factor was that they couldn’t get the right unit of content in front of you quickly enough to make a difference. Turns out that the trend I spotted was and is still true today. While SDL provides Tahzoo a platform to tackle some of these issues, there are still technology, strategy and process gaps that we need to overcome to fulfill our mission. 
  
My brain has been ruminating on this topic and how we need to position Tahzoo for the next decade of work. I thought I’d share a few questions with you that I’ve been exploring and invite you to engage with me if you have an interest in contributing. 
  
Mathematics continues to evolve at an accelerating pace, our ability to write equations that describe our world and our experience is developing rapidly. How should we be applying advancements in mathematics to our business? If I wanted to write an equation that would describe the relative likelihood that I’d visit a Starbucks at 4:30 tomorrow afternoon, what would that look like and what mathematical domains would be necessary to build a reliable model? 
  
What is the relationship between brand affinity and proximity? For example, you might walk two blocks at lunch for your favorite sandwich, but 6 blocks would be too far. Is there a level of discounting or incentivization that would impact your behavior to walk those additional four blocks? There is a comedian who does a routine on Amazon Prime becoming Prime Now, two-hour delivery is no longer sufficient, it needs to be Prime NOW. It’s funny, but there is some truth in our growing expectation that companies anticipate our needs. How do we help our clients write equations that anticipate what someone will want now? 
  
Given the advancements in mathematics, how are we going to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve the customer experience? The wonderful thing about digital experiences is that it’s given us sample sizes that are statistically valid, there are millions and millions of digital interactions to measure. When we move to algorithmically based personalization models from statistically-based models how will that impact personalization? What level of uplift will we get from a marketing and customer service perspective? 
  
What new technologies does Tahzoo need to master in order to lead the market in these categories? How will our engineering rigor need to change when the building of the enterprise marketing platform is only the first step in the experiment? What skill sets do we need? How should we be organized? 
  
We are still in need of a grand unified theory of content. We have good tools for searchability (thank you Google) and findability which is a byproduct of standardizing UX, but that’s not sufficient. In spite of all the improvements, consumers are still left with the task of finding and navigating content. We still aren’t able to describe the content in terms that allow computers and AI to understand the content well enough that we can effectively build algorithms for personalization. We’ve experimented with using the discipline of semiotics to codify content, certainly, DITA, XML, S1000D, and mapping ontologies are all helpful, but we need to bring all of this together into a unified framework for describing the content. I don’t have this all figured out, but I sense that there is a path that will combine all of these standards into a game-changing solution for Tahzoo. 
  
This leads me to the next set of questions that I am focused on, which involve complexity theory. A complex system is a type of system that is composed of many diverse parts that are highly interconnected and capable of adaptation. So, if you think about how a brand interacts with its customers on a global scale you have a complex system. When you think about Tahzoo as a company with many different disciplines all working towards a common goal, you have a complex system. How do we help our clients understand the complexity of their customer engagement? How would we visualize that? How would we understand the interactions well enough to make recommendations that positively impact business outcomes? Being a complex system in and of itself, how should Tahzoo be organized to support our clients? How do we make Tahzoo a learning system and culture?  
  
I recently connected with Kriell Benzi who is creating art by visualizing complex systems and data sets. You can see some of his work here. He is speaking at the Santa Fe Institute this week, unfortunately, I won’t get to see him this trip. I’ve been looking for ways to model complexity for our clients and his artwork might be an interesting approach. The reason I mention this is for those of you who are interested in complexity theory, the Santa Fe Institute is a great resource. One of the most important questions for Tahzoo in the next decade, is how do we build teams that are comprised of diverse skill sets that effectively collaborate to serve our clients? 
  
AI will be a couple of orders of magnitude more impactful than the advent of the Internet. Imagine how much the world has changed because of the Internet, now multiply the amount of change in the last 25 years by 100, that is what AI is going to bring to our world. We won’t experience a linear progression of change, there will be quantum leaps in technology and understanding. The advancements in science, knowledge, and technology will be astounding beyond belief. This will create cultural and economic disruption on a scale not seen before in human history. To put this in perspective, it took the Catholic church about 200 years to come to terms with Galileo’s notion that the earth revolves around the sun. It takes time for us humans to accept change, especially when it challenges long-standing beliefs. We won’t have the luxury of time to reconcile the change or ease into an “understanding”. There are countless examples of advancements in science or knowledge that are initially rejected by the orthodoxy only to become accepted with the passage of time. 
  
Beliefs are our brain’s way of making sense of and navigating our complex world. They are mental representations of the ways our brain expects things in our environment to behave, and how things should be related to each other—the patterns our brain expects the world to conform to. Beliefs are templates for efficient learning and are often essential for survival. What happens when long-standing belief systems are eliminated or proven wrong or different, virtually overnight? We won’t have 200 years to come to terms with the change in knowledge or perspective. How would we need to teach differently if accepted truths and norms are regularly in jeopardy? What long-standing principles are likely to be challenged in the next decade? 
  
For example, if capitalism is based on a risk-reward relationship, what happens when the risk is virtually eliminated by computing power? That’s not to say that randomness goes away, just that the calculation of risk will be almost perfect. How do you invest your money in a world where the rate of return is already a certainty? What does that mean for capitalism and will we need to invent a new economic model? I can tell you that all the people who owned big castles in Europe during the middle ages thought they would be the dominant economic model for the foreseeable future, now they are places to visit on vacations. 
  
Or look at healthcare, what happens when life expectancy skyrockets because we apply virtually unlimited computing power monitoring your health? What would that mean for our economy if that average life expectancy doubles in the next 20 years? What does that mean for managing resources and population? If you think that’s not a possibility, start reading and talking to scientists who are at the forefront of this next revolution in healthcare. What happens when we begin to use our awesome technology to genetically reengineer the human body? 
  
All of us can see how social media is affecting our democracy, do the basic concepts of freedom of speech apply to machines and computers too? It won’t be too long before computers generate more content than human beings. What laws and rules do we need in place to govern that scenario? How should we think about government, the rule of law and self? There is a great quote by the famous astronomer Carl Sagan written in 1995 “Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness”. Eerily familiar quote given the political climate today. That can’t be the end state of our world, so what happens next? 
  
We are seeing the beginning of cultural change at an unprecedented scale. How should Tahzoo position itself to be a force for good in the world? I say all the time “Tahzoo exists to make millions of people a little bit happier every day”. We’ve got the ambition and company of smart and happy people that are and will continue to make a difference. I am working on these questions and I invite your input and perspective. The work we do is important, and we need to make sure that our thesis for the next decade is a guiding light for our company and our clients.  
  
I am certainly not done thinking about what comes next and by no means am I finished with my question or journey. I am focused on considering and contemplating what comes next so we can anchor ourselves and Tahzoo to the prospect of creating a better future. While at times I am daunted by what comes next, I am also an optimist and I have an unshakeable vision for a greater and more fulfilling world. It’s up to each of us to make a difference, Tahzoo is one of the places I hope to be a force for a better world. 
 
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 

Work Hard, Play Hard by Prioritizing

Habit #7: Sharpen the Saw 
Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” -Steven Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People 

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 (pay no attention to the 90’s attire and cinematography) in which you have a number of large rocks and small rocks that need to be squeezed into a large glass jar. If you put the small 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 there are activities that are urgent and activities that are important, always remember that the important is more important than the urgent.  
 
I had a great week because I focused on the importance and then afterward made time for the urgent. I am heading out on vacation for a little while and I am feeling good about where the company is and where we are headed. 
 
So, let’s keep up the good work, focus on taking care of our customers and hiring smart and happy people. I’ll be doing one of my cross-country BBQ drives, this year with an added twist, I am in search of the country’s best Tiki bar. If you have any suggestions for either BBQ or Tiki bars, send them my way! I will also be BBQ searching in Texas sometime soon, I’m looking at you Chris W, Jen D, and Shawn W.  
 
I’ll continue to send this email every Friday and be on the lookout for updates on Wonderingbuddha.com and www.letsgobegreat.com   

Looking forward to recharging my batteries but that’s always countered by how much I miss working with each of you every day.  
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 

Get Involved and Remember to Vote!

In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” 
-Thomas Jefferson 

I’ve intentionally made the Desk of Brad an apolitical forum. Living and working in D.C. over the last 20+ years has given me a perspective about how the government runs and how politics intersects with policy. When I was working for Microsoft, one of my jobs was managing most of the Cabinet-level agencies. I became very familiar with the mission, operations, and budgeting of these agencies. I regularly advocated on behalf of Microsoft’s interests and even testified before Congress. I watched three different presidential administrations change the way the agencies operated and leave their marks from a policy perspective. I could go on and on about what I learned and how government works. 

I remember the Clinton impeachment quite vividly. It raised a lot of questions about ethics, the law, and our political system, to be debated on Friday nights at the bar by my friends and me. The two parties were a lot closer together back then and politics hadn’t quite devolved into something the resembles cheering for your favorite football team in a match against your arch-rival. I am a student of the Supreme court, I read most of the major decisions each year, including the dissenting opinions — there are many books in our Tahzoo D.C. office about the history of the court. I find the evolution of our laws to be a fascinating retrospective of our history and another way to understand how the values of America have changed over time.  
 
Being a citizen in a democracy is not something to be taken lightly or left to others to figure out on your behalf. It is the primary obligation of every citizen to be informed and educated about the issues. We should all be actively involved in understanding the issues and the proposed policies that affect your liberty and the liberty of others. A democracy sits on a razor’s edge and complacency among the citizens is a recipe for disaster. It’s not just the Senators that are jurors during an impeachment trial, each of you is a juror too. I strongly encourage each of you actually read the documents and the evidence presented by both sides. Turn off your favorite news channel and don’t leave your conclusions to the pundits. Tahzoo is a company full of smart and happy people, each of you should use your given cognitive horsepower to read the evidence and reach your own conclusions. 

2020 is an election year, each of you has a civic duty to vote. The rule of law is what has made and will continue to make America a great country. It’s not someone else’s work to ensure the values of our country are being upheld. Three times in history a president has been impeached, it’s a big deal. So, don’t shirk your responsibility, get involved, read and remember it’s your country too!  
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 

Relationship-Based Business

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” -Benjamin Franklin 

We are moving into our 10th year of being in business. It’s an exciting milestone and as I reflect on the last ten years; I am so proud of what we have accomplished. You are an important member of a team that is focused on providing groundbreaking, innovative, and meaningful consulting to our clients. We set out to improve the quality of the customer experience. We have lofty goals of making millions of people a little bit happier every day – our contribution to the world. 

We’ve learned that it doesn’t just require SDL Tridion skills, creative expertise or consulting skills, we’ve learned time and time again it takes great teamwork to achieve results for our clients. Teamwork is inclusive of our clients; our best accounts are the ones in which we become strategic partners with them. You can measure the health of a consulting company by examining the strength and quality of its relationships. 

When I think about goals for 2020, one is to improve our relationships, internally and externally. Go find a relationship that needs work and work on it. Make a difference in the little things and the big things. I always appreciated the saying… “people don’t care about how much you know until they know who much you care”. When I worked at Nordstrom, we sent thank-you notes to each of our customers, it was a little thing but a meaningful one. So, let’s show our clients and our co-workers how much we care.  
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 

Leading a Digital Revolution

“We all get the exact same 365 days. The only difference is what we do with them.” —Hillary DePiano 

Cheers to 2020! 

 
We are all on a personal journey with lessons to be learned, challenges to be overcome and joys to be remembered. I find this time of year brimming with reflections and ideas about next year. 2020 starts pretty soon, as a little kid, I used to think how far away 2020 was and now here we are. My better self has been looking forward to this for a long time. 

I feel the beginning of resonance, both personally and professionally. But let me opine briefly about Tahzoo for a moment. We are built on an idea that the customer experience should improve dramatically, that technology should be an enabler to better experience and not a crushing quest for efficiency that robs consumers of their joy. How you spend your money and who you spend your money with is one of the most quintessential of human experiences. Think about all of the cities built around a town square and market. There has been a marriage between commerce and community since we became civilized.  
 
Our mission is to improve the customer experience, to build the connections between community and commerce that are the moral equivalent of the market square in the 21st century. Amazon has built an unbelievably efficient distribution engine, it’s really awesome, but recommendations alone don’t make a town square. Our challenge as a company is to figure out how do we use all the technology at our disposal to humanize the customer experience. What is super exciting to me is that the technology is more like a canvas than a set of interstitial building blocks. 

We can now actually design experiences with interaction models that customers will find pleasing and personalized. Tahzoo is a company full of great builders, in 2020 we will become great designers too. It’s all coming together, technology, data, and design to create the company I envisioned 10 years ago. 
 
So, no matter what you’re doing at Tahzoo, remember your job is to make the customer experience better. Every interaction between our client and their customer should feel like opening a present. We are the company that will lead this revolution.  
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad