Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

During the advent of the web, the dominant paradigm for advertising and marketing was built on the notion of frequency and reach. The idea being that if a brand or product was promoted enough, eventually the message would sync into your consciousness. We can all remember TV ads that struck the zeitgeist and were showed over and over again. In order to capture the largest possible audience, ads were geared toward the lowest/largest common denominator and there were mnemonic devices like jingles and slogans that embed the message into your brain.

For some fun, I am going to throw out a few examples and see if you remember the brand or product behind the slogan or jingle:

Plop Plop Fizz Fizz oh what a relief it is
The Energizer bunny
Quality is job one
Just Do It
Where’s the beef
The most interesting man in the world
We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two
MMM MMM GOOD
Melts in your mouth not in your hands
Don’t leave home without it
Because you’re worth it
A diamond is forever

My guess is that most of you’ll know the majority of these… I’ll send a copy of Ogilvy on Advertising to the first person who replies with the correct answer to all the slogans.

In the era of the mass market media, there were three basic forms of advertising: print, radio and TV. Targeted marketing began in the 80’s and 90’s with segmentations based on household demographic data (age, income, gender, and the number of people within a household). Snail mail was delivered to a home in an effort to provide a targeted offer that drove a business outcome. One could argue this was the beginning of personalization.

With the rise of the web, most marketers took the view that the web was essentially another version of print advertising. In the early days of the web, we spoke a lot about the promise of dynamic experiences, demand-based pricing, and segmented content – however, it ran contrary to the dominant paradigm and there were not enough CPU cycles, hard disk space and bandwidth to support many of these concepts. As a consequence, websites were built in a one-size-fits-all model and the end user was left to traverse the content as they saw fit – a choose your own adventure model.

In the late 90’s, e-commerce began to take hold, replacing the catalog business or the travel agent. In these scenarios, sorting the offers and providing recommendations became an explicit requirement. This began the next wave of personalization. We saw things like Amazon’s “people who bought this also liked this” and A/B testing models in which small units of content or offers were selectively presented to audiences to see what was most effective. Unfortunately, these models reinforce the tyranny of the majority; if 51% of the visitors respond to the red button then everyone eventually gets the red button.

Concurrently, many of the Direct Marketers began email marketing campaigns. Electronic direct mail with ads and offers designed to promote an action. While email marketing was dramatically less costly, it was also less effective because the second step in the process, taking an action – buying something or signing up for something – requires a landing page or a web experience that supported the offer.

Targeted marketing through e-commerce and email marketing became the new paradigm. Define a segment, create a variety of ads, test and then optimize… Rinse and repeat. We’ve spent more than a decade in this model. You could call it personalization, but I’d argue it’s just informed guessing.

Because these programs are relatively low cost when compared to TV ad campaigns, marketers have accepted shockingly poor results. We have one client who was bragging about their 1:1,400 click-through rate on banner ad campaigns. When I pressed on the results to find out how much revenue was being generated from these campaigns, I discovered that the click-through rate was measured by how many people visited the site, not how many insurance policies were issued!

The convenience of e-commerce has fueled tremendous growth, so the paradigm of targeting content, offers and testing has continued to reign, but the technology hasn’t stood still. As more and more information was posted to the web and the social media wave took hold, it meant that any purchase could be researched and validated with a broad audience of friends and consumers. The notion of a considered sales cycle, one in which a consumer conducted a fair amount of research, now applies to virtually any purchase – big or small. Furthermore, consumers began to share their experiences with a product or service supplanting or marginalizing the advertising delivered through a frequency and reach model. You can advertise that “Quality is Job One” but if your product sucks, everyone will know about it.

The nexus of information and social media has given rise to the experience economy. Not only does your product have to deliver on the brand promise, consumers need to be able to share their experience. I have written a long whitepaper on the experience economy which is available on my blog. Another way to think about the experience economy is, “it is not how much you have, it’s how good you have it”. A great product and a sharable experience work together to create brand resonance.

This brings me to why the current personalization paradigm of targeted content optimization is not sufficient. Consumers want to learn about products and have experiences that are pleasing and sharable. This means they will conduct research and experience products over multiple visits to the web. Marketers need to sequence content and experiences in ways that help consumers learn about a product and that reinforce the brand. You can’t just test the red button vs. the blue button or review A vs. review B. You need to model human to human interaction, think in terms of how people learn, what their expectations are and how they want to be engaged.

To deliver true personalization is to closely model the same experience you would have when you walk into a Nordstrom store and ask for help. A good salesperson assesses your needs, guides you through a selection process and ensures that you leave satisfied. Tahzoo’s personalization solution provides technology to understand your customer, all of your content, the context of the engagement and where they are in the journey before the content is presented to a customer. We are not just testing units of content for a better result, we are providing a framework for unique experiences for each customer that is differentiated and evolving. Much like a good friendship, it grows and become more intimate over time. As the experience becomes more resonant it also becomes more frequently shared, creating a virtuous cycle. Next week I am going to get into the specific techniques and technical aspects of the Tahzoo solution, but this week I wanted everyone to have some perspective on where we’ve been and where we are going.

Let’s go be great!
Brad

The Pivotal Moment

In every sporting event, there is a pivotal moment that determines the outcome of the competition. While that moment may seem a matter of luck or stoke of greatness, it is inevitably the byproduct of years of hard work. We celebrate the wins, but what we should be celebrating is the tireless effort and dedication to excellence, to perfecting our craft.

When we started Tahzoo, we had an idea that we could change the nature of the customer experience for our clients and improve in some way – maybe just a little bit – the lives of millions of people every day. It’s a lofty goal, but it has driven me and all of you at Tahzoo. We began perfecting our craft by building large scalable SDL Tridion implementations, DIRECTV was our first client, then HP.com, Norfolk Southern, then TD Bank and the list went on; we haven’t looked back and we’re still consistently winning in the enterprise. We chose SDL because it was and still is the most scalable web platform.

If the goal was to deliver personalized experiences that customers found pleasing and clients could use to change their business models, then scalability is the biggest problem to be solved. Suffice to say that when it comes to building and running the largest web platforms in the world, we are among the very best. This is no easy feat and a result of the engineering excellence and rigor that has always been a part of the core of Tahzoo.

Over the years, we’ve added additional services to take advantage of our engineering prowess. Just like finding the right combination of ingredients in a gourmet meal, through trial and error we’ve perfected our recipes. For the first time in many years, my vision for the solutions we could provide our clients has been replaced with the confidence that we can deliver a complete and world-class set of solutions to our clients. This means we have the know-how, the acumen and the technical expertise to deliver personalized experiences at scale. In this respect, we have a healthy advantage in the marketplace. Is it easy? Do we have all the communication patterns and practices worked out? No, but we are well on the way. When we talk about ‘The Tahzoo Way’, there is enough experience and documentation for us to build just about anything.

Then it’s about the people. Do you go to work surround by really smart and happy people? I know that I do. The more time I spend with clients and each of you, the more grateful I am for the talented people we have at Tahzoo. There is certainly no shortage of passion and opinions, all of which when harnessed properly is the foundation for innovation and a great company. We have more work to do in this category; sometimes that passion is taken as an affront rather than something to be celebrated… I see this in teams frequently. One of my goals is to work with the teams and encourage ways to see the best in one another and to put the client first. Our individual differences can be resolved over time – our clients expect excellence from us in our work every day.

At Tahzoo, the quality and strength of the relationships both internally and externally are the single greatest barometer of success. If you wake up every day thinking about how to improve your relationships, then you are on the right track. Honestly, if you go to work each day and that isn’t top of mind, you should take a hard look at your contribution to Tahzoo. You may be technically or functionally excellent at Tahzoo, but that’s not enough; you need to have strength in your relationships so you can make others better. Occasionally I hear that management isn’t doing enough or that leadership is out of touch. I’d like to remind everyone that you are management, you are leadership… If you want to make changes in the company then just get started. We are not a hierarchical organization, we are a meritocracy… Go make Tahzoo great. Lead through influence and don’t be discouraged when you meet resistance. The power of your ideas and your conviction will win the day.

I constantly preach change and innovation… Often times I suggest change because I am trying to create energy and critical thinking for each of you about how to make our business better. In 2018, shake it up a bit, drive great ideas and work with your colleagues to create the change you want to see in the company. The guide posts are as clear: follow the company values and then make sure the solution has buy-in from your colleagues and the rigor to take root within the company. We need to be clear about our measurable expected outcomes and the specifics of how we get there. As I mentioned last week, the leadership team is tackling one idea per week, I suggest you do the same. If we all put our energy towards one great idea, one great improvement per week, imagine where we’d be in a year!

At the end of 2018, what do you imagine? What do you want to see out of your experience at Tahzoo? These are important questions for each of you to consider. There is no happiness, there is no greatness by accident. If you want a happy and successful life, you need a vision for your future and the willingness to work hard to make it happen.

There are always distractions; they present themselves in subtle ways, slight detours from your goal, shiny new opportunities you hadn’t expected or the temptation to do slightly less than your best. Whenever I am confronted by these distractions, they are never clear-cut, they always appeal to some base unresolved issue that I am struggling with… in short, they seem like great opportunities and hard choices. However, as I’ve gotten older and slightly wiser, I’ve recognized the value of holding true to my vision. It’s what drives me and it’s what prevents me from making big mistakes. Take the time to have a vision for 2018, write it down and hold on to it tightly. It will be your shield and your guiding principle through the distractions – think of it as the star you’ll sail your ship by.

Oh my gosh – being happy and successful takes hard work! There is just no way around this. There are no short cuts or easy solutions to dedicating yourself to your vision and then just doing the work. The issue is, there are always obstacles, unexpected challenges, random life changes or newly discovered knowledge gaps, no matter what it is… it’s always resolved through hard work. There is a saying that greatness is just 5% extra effort – I think that is a crock of B.S. Greatness is doing the hard work and putting in the extra effort even when you don’t want to. As a young man, I struggled with this mightily. I procrastinated, I found excuses… usually in others. I thought I could trade natural talent for less than my best work. It wasn’t until one of my mentors pointed out to me that giving less than my best was an insult to myself and the gifts that I’ve been given. I used to think that winning was where I’d find satisfaction. I’ve come to learn that the satisfaction, the happiness is in knowing that I’ve done my best. Then in those quiet moments alone you can enjoy the peacefulness of knowing you’ve done your very best. Hard work – it’s fuel for your self-esteem, it will bring you success, but most importantly, it will bring you happiness.

If you find what I’ve written about meaningful and you’d like to talk more about these ideas and how to put them into practice, I am always available to meet you and share my perspective in more detail. We are all here to help one another and in this way, I hope to help some of you.

Let’s talk about my vision for Tahzoo in 2018.

On a personal level, I will be spending more time with each of you, in the work and innovating on behalf of our customers. I find so much joy in selling the Tahzoo value proposition that it will be impossible to keep me away from driving new business opportunities. I will be working closely with many of you to complete the rebranding of the company and improving our go-to-market strategies. A great year for me will be measured in the amount of time I spend with employees and customers. My goal is to spend at least 75% of my time on those activities.

For the company, I have three major goals for the year. There will be many projects that deliver on the vision; but first the broad-brush strokes:

1. Making customers and employees first
2. Becoming a data driven company
3. Re-capitalizing the company for growth

We are starting our Thrive review process next month. It’s a great time for each of you to reflect on the year that you’ve had, identify areas for growth and set some big goals for 2018. Be bold and ambitious in your goal setting. There is nothing that you can’t achieve in 2018 with some vision and hard work. You have the vision for 2018, now it’s time to translate that into your goals and how you expect to improve and operate more effectively this year. It will take all of us working together in a concerted way to achieve our goals – I am confident that we have the right people married with great customers and market momentum to make our collective and individual aspirations come true.

Happy New Year – let’s go be great!
Brad

Digital Transformation

For all the advancements in our technology and methods of communication, it’s still just one customer at the end of all those devices. I am regularly asked to speak to our clients about their customer engagement strategies. More often then not, they are concerned about a particular channel of communication… mobile, web, promotional, etc. This is always a curious conversation for me, as no consumer engages with a brand in a single dimension.

My first task is to broaden the conversation to include all the ways in which a customer engages the brand. Actually knowing your customer is the most important step in customer engagement. Many companies mistakenly believe that content optimization thru A/B testing is personalization, when in fact it’s just better guessing. Not to say that it’s not effective at times, it’s just not personalization. Worse yet it misses the opportunity to create customer intimacy because it’s one dimensional and is a channel-dependent strategy.

I talk about “knowing” people in three contexts…

What is their expectation when interacting with the brand?
The notion of understanding expectation can be most simply described as facilitating the expected experience. Creating circumstances in which the task or activity is quickly and efficiently delivered. Do they want to download a user manual or pay their bill? We can use personalization techniques, not just to optimize the content but also the UX and the UI. For a large bank, we created a form that would change font size based on the age of the customer. This area in particular is under-leveraged when we contemplate building systems for our clients.

What is the type and style of content they would like to consume?
Do you like watching videos on your phone? And do you read on your iPad? Or do you source social media for information? Much of our social data science work is centered around understanding the type and style of content people would like to consume. We identify characteristics of frequently shared content to better inform the content strategy. As we build our personas and customer journeys, considering the basic format of the content is an important part of delivering a personalized experience.

What are the patterns of behavior that can be identified and addressed?
Some patterns are obvious – For example, when it’s bill paying time or I’m responding to a marketing email. Subtler yet, is understanding people in context. While shopping for my daughter, I might be very fashion conscious, not very price sensitive and frequently return items, however, when shopping for my son, I am cost conscious (mostly because he’s 7 and he destroys most everything). In an e-commerce context, the experience needs to be optimized for two totally different shopping profiles. A good salesperson at a department store would easily navigate this and provide appropriate options. Our data science practice is quite skilled to help clients built a dataset that becomes the basis for behavioral research and understanding.

Armed with this understanding we can begin to break down organizational barriers and silos that prevent our clients from delivering a consistent message across channels or devices. Most marketing departments are organized by channel; you’ll have the web team, the email marketing team, the direct mail team, etc. The silos are further promulgated by the way budget and rewards are based on the performance metrics within a single channel. I consistently promote the idea that marketing departments need to reorganize themselves around discrete audiences.

This idea, once it takes shape becomes the basis for digital transformation and customer centricity. Sometimes I am asked, what is it that we do? Among other things, I tell them we are agents of change. We encourage our clients to open their minds to new ideas and new possibilities for engaging with their customers. Those new ideas require change, we need to be excellent and simplifying and motivating our clients to embrace the necessary steps to move forward. Tahzoo is one of the few companies in the world that can provide the data science, the experience design and technology required to make this complex journey achievable.

Our evolution as a company – our success – will not be measured by the strength of ideas, but in the quality of our execution. The idea of a better customer experience is powerful, but if we do work and don’t fundamentally change the customer experience, have we really done the best for our client? Let’s walk the talk… let’s be the company you hire for the Transformation in Digital Transformation.

Let’s go be great,
Brad

The Experience Effect

The Experience Effect is changing how we do business. This is where Tahzoo comes in. No longer does one-size-fits-all content suffice. Today’s leading businesses need to consider everything they do in terms of “The Experience.” This goes for every company I know. If you make three-dimensional products; good for you, but that product is an experience. Look to the iPhone for inspiration, it’s as much an experience as a phone. If you provide a service, even better.

We live in a service economy. Services are experiences, too. Technology has allowed us the privilege of learning what our customers want, need and desire and we can use that information and some pretty remarkable technologies to meet them on their terms. We can speak to them in their language and we can treat them to experiences they really care about. This is what the customer experience is meant to be.

For you and I as individuals, the Experience Effect means we will increasingly define our experience by our ability to share them with our families, with our friends, and with the world. For the businesses of the world, the Experience Economy will mean understanding that no matter what product or service we deliver, we are ultimately delivering an experience, some make that experience something different, something memorable. And lastly, companies must be honest and truthful about the experiences they create. Only when experiences are sharable, different and authentic can they truly transcend.

The Experience Economy is real and it is changing the world. It has already altered every business on the planet and it will continue to do. Now, more than ever, the quality of what we experience is more valuable than the quantity of what we own.

Let’s use that knowledge—and this moment in time—to make millions of people happy.

Brad

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! I trust that all of you (in the States at least!) enjoyed your time with family and friends. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday – even more than Christmas. I appreciate a moment to reflect on the things I am grateful for and what I’d like to improve upon next year.

Over the last few months I’ve been spending time working with our account teams and our customers, and for this, I am truly grateful. More than anything else, time spent with all of you keeps me going. We have great customers who have a need, and the means to provide us opportunities to fulfill our mission.

Our business is about making millions of people a little happier every day. It’s a simple mission, but a big vision. Technology is changing everything – and while we certainly appreciate the efficiency, we don’t need to give up our humanity. We can help our clients deliver personalized experiences that surprise and delight customers. That is why I built Tahzoo and why I am thankful for the opportunity to work with each of you.

Let’s go be great,
Brad

Look For New Opportunities

We all love serendipity… Ever have a conversation with someone only to find out you have something in common? These common bonds are often the basis of romance, great friendships and important business relationships. If you have a strong relationship with your client, they are always excited to hear that you can support them in other ways. The serendipity happens because you’re communicating and asking questions.

Our best chance for business is within our existing accounts. Assuming that the habits discussed in the prior two ‘Desk of Brad’ notes are well executed, new opportunities will naturally flow your way. At Tahzoo we do a lot of different things, we have many disciplines within the company and learnings from virtually all of our accounts, both current and past. It’s imperative that each of us understand the full range of service offerings within Studios and Labs. More importantly, you need to know how the business objectives of your clients are tied to our service offering. As I’ve been spending more time with you in the field, it’s obvious to me that there is a lot of training and knowledge transfer required for us to be successful.

There are three critical dimensions to finding new opportunities: Know your customer’s business, know their success or reward metrics and know Tahzoo products and services.

New opportunities start with knowing your customer’s business. BCG isn’t in the business of consulting – that’s only part of it. They are in the business of recruiting and relationships. McDonald’s doesn’t just sell hamburgers; they are one of the largest real estate holders in the world. How can Tahzoo services and products be leveraged to create growth and profitability?

The second view of a customer’s business is the demand side business model. How do they generate customers and business? Do they have a direct field sales force? Are they channel driven with distributors? Are they marketing and ecommerce driven? This is important to understand and discuss as we are either enabling the business model, encouraging or preventing disruption, or adding new models to the existing business. Our solutions are either helping them grow faster or create efficiencies, with above the line impact or below the line impact. Either way, every person on the team needs to know how to build a business case for the solution against the business model.

Answers to these questions are something that I expect everyone in Tahzoo be able to answer regarding their clients. The questions are a great basis for starting conversations and enabling a more meaningful exchange of information. I’m encouraging each of you to talk with your clients, and if you’re not client facing that often, then discuss these issues in the daily stand up. We are “Driven by Big Ideas” – we need the best and most thoughtful solutions we can conceive for our clients.

So, let’s go learn about our clients’ business, ask some insightful questions and see if there are other ways that we can help them.

Thanks,
Brad

Adding Value

We are in the business of change. More specifically, we are agents of change. Change requires a reframing of someone’s perspective; and as leaders, we provide the guidance to help others achieve their goals.

I’ve been successful in sales because of my ability to diagnose business issues. Paired with my skills as a technical and digital strategist, I’ve been able to help many companies work through change. It has taken years of effort to develop my expertise in these areas. I share my white papers, presentations and my blog with our clients and prospects.

Each person in our company needs an area of expertise, outside of their functional area. One of our values is, “We hire interesting people who are interested in change”. What do you write or blog about? What presentations have you shared with your customers or within the company? Everyone needs a body of published work to establish credibility. The example being if you have a PhD, you are automatically considered smart… even if the topic being discussed isn’t your area of expertise.

I need each of you to pick an area of expertise that is related to our business. Research it, learn about it and occasionally write about it. I want everyone to contribute to the thought leadership of Tahzoo. I know we have smart and happy people. I know we have interesting people… but that’s not good enough; the rest of the world needs to know.

Jen and Chris are building out a calendar of content that will be regularly promoted to clients and prospects. It needs to be a blend of white papers, online articles, blog posts and infographics. We need everyone’s help producing enough content and thought leadership.

The next step in this process is for each of you to share Tahzoo content with your customers. Promote our subject matter experts. As I discussed last week, identify who you would like to build relationships with, and add value by sending thoughtful commentary and content to them.

In addition to thought leadership, there are a number of ways to build great relationships. How about thoughtful hand-written notes? How about delivering a Tahzoo logoed sheet cake to the lunch room for a contract award, final deliverable or the launch of a site? Drop off Tahzoo t-shirts, pens, stress balls and S’well bottles – they are also all thoughtful gifts. Candy wrapped with Tahzoo logos… the list could go on and on.

Most importantly – build relationships by adding value, exposing our clients to your thinking and the thought leadership throughout the company. We have lots of interesting people who have great ideas. Let’s share our vision for the 21st century.

Let’s go be great,
Brad

Being a Good Consultant

We are a relationship led company. In every respect, the quality and strength of our relationships determine the short and long-term success of our business. Qualitatively, this is the most important point of judgment regarding the health of employees, partners, clients and the company. If you can’t build and maintain great relationships, consulting is not a good career option for you.

My strategy for building relationships with my clients has always been frequent, short communication with all the constituents of the business. I’ve opted for quick calls and made myself available for insightful conversation and complaints, positioning myself as a point of escalation for any challenges. In addition to the quality assurance calls, I frequently share an article that I like or a white paper that I’ve authored. It is important to have a mix of thought leadership with QA and sales.

The model is simple… check in frequently, add value, and look for new opportunities. This allowed me to be the CEO, lead strategist and head sales guy for a long time before we added to our headcount. When I think about being a good consultant at Tahzoo, this model should be built into our everyday activities. It doesn’t matter what your role is at Tahzoo, we all have clients and customers that need to be engaged.

This is the first in a three-part series for the Desk of Brad. This week we are focusing on habits for checking in frequently.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a list of people that I would touch base with daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly. There is judgment required to ensure the cadence and scope of the relationships are sufficient to be successful. When you think about your clients, the folks you work with every day and the client with their broader set of constituents, how would you schedule connecting with them?

It’s safe to talk to people that like you, and we have all been trained to find a coach, however, the courage and the thought leadership to tackle objectors to drive consensus is essential for our business. Although a major portion of our work is deliverable based, we are all agents of change helping our client achieve what is possible.

In order to check in frequently, there needs to be something to discuss. There is an old saying “interested is interesting”… Meaning people often think to themselves that you are an interesting person because you’ve expressed interest in them. When engaging your clients and building relationships, just ask a lot of questions. They don’t have to be personal – for many clients, it’s sufficient to understand their goals at work or the complexities that they face. You can also discuss clearly defined success metrics, hard numbers and schedules for the project, or bring meaningful thought leadership to drive those conversations. I always subscribe to a Google Alert for my accounts, because I want to know the latest breaking news.

I’ve put together a checklist for you to consider as a strategy for the check in frequently discipline:

• Create a list of daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly contacts in each account.
• Build an email list for sending out thought leadership articles.
• Create a document that outlines the relevant issues, topics for check in and areas of interest for thought leadership for accounts.
• Every week (Monday morning) review your contact list and create a schedule for your touch points.
• Read and collect information from the subject matter experts within Tahzoo and share with your clients.
• If you need an article, point of view or any piece of thought leadership, reach out to Tahzoo leadership and make the request – we’ll get you something to send to the client.

Relationship building isn’t hard, it just takes discipline and a little focus. It’s a habit – hard to get started, but after seven weeks in a row, you’ll have it down. You need to have something meaningful to share or your client with feel pestered, or worse yet, bored. The key here is to begin building relationships by checking in frequently, being genuinely interested in them and having something thoughtful to share… pretty straightforward. I’d like everyone to take an inventory of the number of active relationships they have within an account and double that number over the next two months.

Are You a Chicken or a Pig?

When I was working at Microsoft, I organized a large project called the Geospatial Data Gateway. It was a database project with all the orthoimagery of the US Department of Agriculture coupled with all the tabular data associated with a common land unit. In one system, you could visualize a plot of land and have all the associated soils data, crop yields, ownership rights, easements and regulations etc. Check out the site; it’s a late 90s UI, but it’s cool to see plots of land in your neck of the woods.

While this type of system is commonplace today (Google maps, as an example), back then it was a feat of computer science and engineering. I was working with a gentleman from Microsoft Research and Development who was providing the technical leadership and direction for the project. He was / is a remarkable man, who to this day, still leaves me in awe that he could be as equally gifted technically as he was at working with and motivating people. I’ll share more stories about him another time.

We were all sitting in a government conference room in Fort Collins Colorado… there were about a dozen of us. Tom opened the meeting by stating, “Are you a chicken or a pig? Because I only want to work with pigs!” For a moment, I thought Tom had invented a USDA farming joke and we’re all going to have a nice laugh. However, he went on to say that software development projects are a lot like breakfast, in that there can be different levels of commitment. The software project we were going to accomplish was going to require significant commitment. In the way that chickens provide the eggs for breakfast, they are involved… but to have bacon, the pig has to be committed. We did, in fact, all have a chuckle.

Tom was making a point that whenever you’re going to tackle a difficult project, you need commitment, not just from the leadership but from the entire team. All too often, I see projects struggle or fail because the team was involved but not committed.

Over the last three weeks, I outlined my vision for the type of company I want Tahzoo to become, and the passion I have for doing something remarkable that can change the world. So, my question to you is, “Are you a chicken or a pig?” Because I only want to work with pigs.

Let’s go be great,
Brad

Shared Values

In order to do all of what has been written about in my previous two notes, we need to be a team and a family of co-workers that share a common value system. The first act of the company was to establish a core set of values:

  • If you care about your customers and your employees you’ll have a company worth caring about
  • We hire for character before we hire for capability
  • We hire interesting people who are interested in change
  • We believe in the marketplace of ideas
  • We believe in Smart and Happy people


  • These values reflect my core beliefs about how to run a business. Often times this discussion is limited to moral values but I think of this more broadly. The careful orchestration between individuals and teams is what really gets me excited.

    In order to accomplish our goals, we need to have multidisciplinary teams execute flawlessly. So while many companies can achieve success – if not over achieve – with committed, hardworking employees, we cannot. We need to have teams of people who work for different managers with different skills come together and inspire one another to solve customer problems.

    Great teams and great companies are purposefully built and more importantly, the values and expectations are consistently driven every day at every level of the organization. If you want to know how healthy our company is or how well we are doing… don’t look at the balance sheet or the financial reports, look at yourself and your team and ask, “Are the values and expectations of the company being driven by me every day at every level?”

    Let’s go be great,
    Brad