Data Science

“Our ability to do great things with data will make a real difference in every aspect of our lives.” – Jennifer Pahlka 

Traditionally, advertising and marketing were based on the hope of a random chance. You’d see an ad at just the right time before you were going to buy or, as you walk down an aisle in a store, you’d see a display that would catch your attention. Brands were built through the strategy of frequency and reach. With enough positive impressions, a brand could create an idea in your mind, and, if done correctly, it would tap into the zeitgeist and become part of the culture. This has been the dominant advertising paradigm for the last 50 years. 

With the advent of TV and radio, advertisers were in the position to deliver their messaging at scale. For the first time ever, there was the possibility to overcome randomness with enough advertising and money. In 2014, global advertising spend exceeded $575 Billion and is growing at a healthy 8% per year. In the US for example, advertisers spend $565 dollars per person, per year on paid media. 
 
Unfortunately, most business models expand to a point of absurdity and then collapse. I’m not saying that the ad business is going to collapse… at least not yet, but we’ve reached a point where the number of touchpoints, channels, and outlets has become too expensive to dominate. The result is a chaotic mess of ads seeking to capture your attention. The model of frequency and reach is now reserved for only the wealthiest of brands. 
 
This is where disruption begins. Because the expense is too high, innovation is required to achieve similar outcomes. Tahzoo is a byproduct of this next wave of disruption. We are helping our clients transition into a new way of doing business. I talk and write often about personalized and relevant content – well, this is a way for marketers to break through the clutter and engage audiences. A new paradigm for the 21st Century that ironically has its roots in a more traditional business model of knowing your customers and building personal relationships. No longer do they have to deliver a one size fits all, lowest-common-denominator message to the broadest audience. They can now begin to transform the digital customer experience into something personal and relevant. 

Seeing this change in the marketplace is what compelled me to start Tahzoo. I was excited because I could see the change coming and I knew if we built a company with the right expertise, we’d be relied on by our clients to help them change. This is really what digital transformation is all about and what Tahzoo is all about. 
 
The way that Tahzoo uses data to understand customers and their expectations of the customer experience is unique. We see people in the context of the type and style of content they prefer to consume. We use data from many different sources, web analytics, social data, and behavioral data to understand the format and then the semiotics of the content required to influence behavior or provide a more pleasing experience. With our ability to implement sophisticated content management systems, we can use insight and data to deliver a differentiated customer experience. This is markedly different than the traditional model of understanding people by age or income or other demographic metrics. With the rise of the web, agencies moved to personas rather than demographic models, however, they are utilized to inform the creative experience and not the personal experience. We use data to understand people or discreet audiences, in an effort to provide a more pleasing customer experience. We are actively seeking to understand the models of engagement. Without data science, we cannot deliver personalized or relevant content. We are more or less guessing. 
 
With all the talk of “Big Data,” the real trick is to make the data actionable. If we combine our expertise in building the integrated marketing platform with great data science, we create the possibility of truly connected experiences. We need to continue to innovate in this area and focus on bringing the art of the possible together for our clients. The future of Tahzoo depends on it. 
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 
 

The Johnny Tsunami of Tahzoo

“Treat objections as requests for further information.” – Brian Tracy 

I had to get the windows in my home cleaned yesterday. There was a nice young gentleman who came over, he was polite and quiet. He proceeded to clean all of the windows inside and out over the course of a few hours. My house has a lot of windows, many of them floor to ceiling and some as high as two stories. There is not a lot of sunlight in Seattle, so the big windows help a lot in the wintertime.  
 
When it came time to settle the bill, he politely asked me if we’d ever had the roof cleaned as he had noticed a little moss growing in a few places. I said no. He lit up with enthusiasm – this mild-mannered, quiet guy practically erupted with energy. You would have thought that I’d given him the chance to jump on a stage and perform a guitar solo with his favorite band. He had been patiently waiting for this conversation. 
 
He immediately launched into how Johnny Tsunami had perfected a technique for keeping the moss off the roof permanently. Their approach was non-toxic, environmentally safe, and less expensive than the traditional solutions. He goes on to explain that just power washing the moss leaves the spores alive and the moss eventually grows back; with the Johnny Tsunami solution, they treat the house every other month in about half the time and at half the cost. 
 
I was in awe… as a sales guy, I love being sold, even if I’m not going to buy. I marveled at his technique. He had his pitch down, suggestive selling by pointing out a problem, positioning their unique solution, why the traditional approach was flawed, and then trying to close the deal with the Johnny Tsunami value proposition. One thing to point out here is that he was excited that I said no, not yes because he knew that was his opportunity to capture my interest. Most people think sales is about getting to the YESES but it’s really about responding to the NOS.    
 
As I pondered his pitch and asked a few questions, he then took the opportunity to tell me about the company, Johnny Tsunami. How the owner Johnny started the company, how they picked the name, and how much he enjoyed working there. While I believe that he really enjoyed working for the company, it was also part of the pitch. He’d done good work but wanted to affirm that working with the company would be as great an experience for me as it had been for him. At this point in time, I was really impressed with the whole process. This guy who was a technical resource had delivered a pitch that was in a phase “pitch-perfect”. 
 
Our service offering at Tahzoo is quite broad, consistent with any of the large consultancies. When Forrester did a review of Tahzoo and our competitors they suggested that our biggest competition was Accenture Digital and that our service offering most closely matched their approach. They highlighted that we need to take a stronger position in the market around thought leadership; it was especially important that we took a stand on the issues of the day and how customer experience was going to evolve, essentially leading our clients and the market with a future vision. Secondly, they thought that we were wholly lacking in evidence to support the impact of our work on behalf of our clients. They acknowledge our great work but emphasized that we need concrete metrics around our business impact to share with them, the market, and prospective clients. The theme of needing to be business results-driven is consistently echoing around Tahzoo’s market positioning. 
 
I began thinking about how the Johnny Tsunami experience can be translated into our Tahzoo world. Last week I convened a sales working group of about a dozen people from across the company. We had the first meeting yesterday and I had the opportunity to share the Johnny Tsunami story. We need to make it easy for everyone to tell our story and be able to consultatively explain how we can help our clients. The team is broken into five groups; The Tahzoo Pitch team, The Tahzoo Customer Evidence team, The Client Management and Success team, The Marketing and Campaign team, and the Success Measurement and KPI team. We will be meeting every two weeks with the company-wide deliverables being produced by each team over the course of the project. We are expecting this effort to last approximately 2 quarters with the goal of harmonizing our sales efforts and increasing our win rate. 
 
What can you do in the meantime? I want each of you to pick an area of the business that is not your specialty and begin to learn how that works. Ask someone you know for deliverables and get yourself educated. We will formalize this process eventually, but in the short term make an effort and get smart about what other people are doing. There is no substitute for curiosity and conversation with your peers. Re-read the Desk of Brad from January where I outlined our solutions, and spend time thinking about how what you’re doing could be more closely tied to our core value proposition: “We help our clients deliver personalized experiences that drive improved business results”. My last ask is once you’ve taken the time to understand one of our solutions, spend a few minutes trying to explain it to a friend or a colleague. Can you pitch Tahzoo as well as the Johnny Tsunami window washer? 
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 

Collaboration

I appreciated the opportunity to speak with all of you yesterday. I received a fair amount of feedback from many of you and I will continue to do these calls on a more regular basis. Let me reiterate that as we work our way through the transformational process, I want your feedback, either directly or through the weekly Voice of the Culture survey. 
 
As I mentioned in our discussion, we need to center our client relationships on business outcomes as the guiding principles of our value proposition. Understanding and contributing to meeting those objectives is the primary job responsibility of everyone at Tahzoo.
 
In my prior Desk of Brad, I asked each of you to go and read through our current thought leadership papers and review our Tahzoo Design Showcase – if you have not done so please take the time to complete this. It’s important that everyone understands our point of view and our solutions so that you can share with your clients, help us innovate and bring the best solutions to market. 
 
I think Chris Hibbard said it best, we define business requirements, which become functional requirements, which become technology solutions, and then optimize the solution for continuous improvement. When you examine most of our solutions they are patterns of customer engagement that should be measurable, optimized with data, and improved over time. Grounding ourselves in these patterns will improve the quality of our solutions and the value to our clients. As I mentioned on the call, the methodologies that we apply to our client’s solutions should also be applied to Tahzoo. If we can utilize this thinking and create a continuous improvement mindset, we will steadily improve the company. 
 
The last point to touch on is ambiguity. I read an article today from Brown University on how the tolerance of ambiguity improves collaboration. It’s an interesting read, and poignant, given the amount of cross-functional projects within the company. Take some time to reflect on how you might approach collaboration differently. 
 
I mentioned some organizational realignment as we embark on this new phase. While I’ll be publishing an updated organization chart next week, this is not the North Star for solving problems at Tahzoo. The organizational chart is designed to provide clarity around areas of responsibility but not to be the end all be all of the decision-making within Tahzoo. We will always be a matrixed organization; there are times when your obligations are to the account team that you work on, or to a project that supports the company or helping your colleagues when they need additional support. An organizational chart will not provide all the guidance required to navigate these obligations. Look to the Tahzoo values, use good judgment, focus on collaboration, and remember that taking the initiative to solve problems is never a bad thing. 
 
I will be working with all of the functional areas over the next week to define the goals for the next two quarters, and once those are solidified I will publish that in the Desk of Brad. Thanks for the hard work – I am excited about what we are going to be accomplishing over the next couple of quarters. 
 
Thanks, 
Brad 

Research

Hi Everyone, 
 
Our all-hands call is scheduled for next Thursday – I’m looking forward to speaking with all of you. John Kottcamp has created a SharePoint folder with all of the thought leadership the company has produced over the last few months. In addition to the whitepapers, I hope you took a moment to review the Tahzoo Studios Creative Showcase.
 
One of the things I enjoy most about Tahzoo is the diversity of intellect within the company. We have many different mental models – engineering, creative, administrative, and analytical to name a few – this brings me great joy. I get to talk with all of you and see the world from a slightly different perspective. If we respect one another and bring our collective talents to our clients’ business problems, there isn’t anything we can’t accomplish. 

About 10 years ago, I started following the research of the Santa Fe Institute. The following is an excerpt from the mission statement of the institute: 
 
Searching for Order in the Complexity of Evolving Worlds 
 
Our researchers endeavor to understand and unify the underlying, shared patterns in complex physical, biological, social, cultural, technological, and even possible astrobiological worlds. Our global research network of scholars spans borders, departments, and disciplines, unifying curious minds steeped in rigorous logical, mathematical, and computational reasoning. As we reveal the unseen mechanisms and processes that shape these evolving worlds, we seek to use this understanding to promote the well-being of humankind and of life on earth. 

 
One of the things that struck me when I started following their research is the importance of multidisciplinary research. For those of you who don’t know, multidisciplinary research is the combination of disciplines to solve various problems. As I began thinking about creating Tahzoo and what I wanted our company to be, it was clear to me that “making millions of people, a little happier every day” was going to require a combination of expertise and talent. As I’ve said many times we are agents of change. To help our clients change, we need to bring it all together for them so that we can deliver the best experience possible for each customer.   
 
I always have and always will see Tahzoo as a company of talented but different people who work together to make a difference. We have made a lot of progress over the last eight years, but we need to continue to evolve. During our all-hands call, I am going to outline the Tahzoo transformation to a fully integrated customer experience agency.   
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 

Memorial Day 2018

As we head into Memorial Day weekend – the unofficial start to summer, it’s important that each of us take time to pause and honor the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. For those of you who have lost friends and family members, please accept our condolences and gratitude for their service. While I hope everyone enjoys an extra day off for barbeques and time with loved ones, I want to remind everyone that this would not be possible without the commitment of our service members. So please enjoy the weekend, and know that our freedom is built on generations of great Americans who have fought and died for our liberty.   
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad

The Difference Between Average and Exceptional Experiences

“Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.” – Robert Kiyosaki 

We live in a time of change where the established patterns of consistency and sameness are being challenged. The new mediums of the web and social media are positioning everyone to contribute to the next big cause, the next cool band, the next great restaurant, or the next extraordinary customer experience firm. 
 
Good enough stopped being good enough a long time ago – So why not be great? Why not be worth talking about? Why not be exceptional
 
Average now equals mediocre  (i.e. not worth seeking out, not worth talking about, boring – you get the idea). Defending the image of an average is exhausting. Think about that… the difference between defending what you know is your best work versus something that is nothing special. 
 
We are in the business of helping people sort out the intersections between technology, marketing, and sales. We have important processes, tools, and talents to complete that task, and candidly we are good – but we can always push ourselves to be better. Do you know why our job is hard sometimes? We are in the business of helping our customers change. We are all agents of change… and people fear change. 
 
We need to help our customers deliver exceptional experiences. An experience that is worth writing about, talking about, and sharing. Average experience is the new mediocre; let’s help our customers be great
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 

Running Meetings

Hi All, 
 
This is a follow-on to my DOB a couple of weeks ago about improving the efficiency of our company, so we can have more time to focus on our customers and our partners. 
 
Let’s talk about running our meetings… I have a few observations before I provide the framework. We need to add more structure to our meeting process. I see that there are too many meetings that don’t have an agenda, or we invite people who aren’t really necessary to the outcomes of the decision-making process. 
 
In a meeting, you’re reviewing data, work product, and sharing perspectives so decisions can be made, and actions assigned. If you can’t fit your meeting into that framework, then I seriously question the reason for the meeting in the first place. Reviewing a report is not a good reason for a meeting or a substitute for an agenda. 
 
When scheduling a meeting to answer the following questions – 
  

  1. What decisions need to be made?  
    • This should be clearly stated at the top of the meeting agenda 
    • If you cannot clearly answer this question, then you should reconsider if the meeting is necessary 
  1. What are the different perspectives that need to be heard or considered? 
    • Who needs to be involved or which parts of Tahzoo need to be included? 
    • What are the topics that need to be discussed and confirmed? 
  1. What data is required to make an informed and data-driven decision? 
    • Do you have the data and reports necessary to make a data-driven decision? 
    • Reviewing a report is not a substitute for a meeting agenda, the reports should be read ahead of time so that we can ask the important questions that arise from the data 

In addition to the framework that I outlined above, the following recommendations were provided to the Microsoft field sales force as part of our project: 
 
Meetings 
 
Prepare for a meeting that you have organized by performing the following actions: 

  • Before sending the invitation, formulate a meeting plan and ensure that you are only inviting those individuals who can help achieve the meeting’s objectives. 
  • Provide an agenda at least one day before the scheduled meeting with a copy of the invitation, ensure that invitees are aware of the purpose and desired outcome of the meeting, and outline the role of each invitee. 
  • If there is prerequisite reading or work, send the materials in advance to ensure that invitees have context and include a note in the Subject line indicating “pre-reading/pre-work required.” 

If you have been invited to a meeting and these actions have not been completed, you have my explicit permission… don’t go! 
 
Follow these guidelines when conducting the meeting: 

  • Begin and end the meeting on time. 
  • Follow an agenda and keep a list of any items that stray from the core purpose of the meeting. 
  • Clearly articulate decisions, action items, and the next steps at the close of the meeting. 
  • Designate one person to document the meeting and provide a summary of the meeting. After the meeting, send a meeting summary to share the decisions, action items, and next steps with those who attended the meeting as well as with those individuals that did not attend, but should be involved in, or aware of, the meeting outcome. 

  
Scheduling Meetings 
 
When sending conference call meeting requests: 

  •  Include the conference phone number and passcode in the “Location” line. 
  • Attach links to reference materials — prerequisite reading, agendas, etc. — in the body of the request. 

If using Live Meeting: 

  • Include appropriate links so attendees can download the client if necessary. 
  • Include the link and authorization for attendees to join the session. 
  • Determine if you want to record and archive the session so that others who could not attend can review the actual meeting at a later time. 
  • Provide an alternative source for the file content if an attendee cannot gain access to the Live Meeting session. 

  
The guidelines are common-sense recommendations for running efficient meetings. Our time – your time – is too valuable to be spent not being action-oriented. I realize this will take a little more time and effort to be disciplined about our meeting process, but it will have huge payoffs for each of you. If you’re on the scheduling side take the time to be prepared, and if you’re on the invitee side make sure you’re an active participant. This is another important part of making sure we are becoming more and more data-driven in our decision-making process. 
 
Let’s go be great,
Brad 

The Zeitgeist

“Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.” 
– Yoda reminds Luke of the problem with trying too hard to predict the future 

Today I was going to write about ‘how to run a meeting’, but I’ve opted to save that for next week. 
 
During my travels this week, I’ve had a lot of time to think. I’ve written and spoken to all of you about personalization and how it will be the dominant marketing paradigm for the foreseeable future. I want to take a moment and refine that thought for each of you as you consider how we can better support our clients, and more importantly how we develop our solutions for personalization. There has been a lot of great work in the past few weeks producing papers on our business and technical solutions – thank you to everyone for all of the efforts, it is driving our business to a new level! 
 
There is a concept used in advertising called the “Zeitgeist”. It’s a word that comes from some fairly heady German philosophy, which translated means “the spirit of the age” or the “spirit of the times”. It refers to an invisible agent or force dominating the characteristics of a culture. In advertising, there are iconic ad campaigns that seem to resonate with the masses at a visceral level. These campaigns are effective because they speak to the culture well beyond the normal frequency and reach the strategy of showing a commercial every 10 minutes. They become a metaphor representing the cultural ethos… think internet memes. As a creative director, the goal has always been to combine imagery, writing, and music into a campaign that reaches the masses at their core. Each of us has a favorite TV commercial that we remember and can recite by heart. 
 
There has been a lot of talk about how politics have become tribal – groups of people banding together around a common theme or perspective. As those groups begin to share with one another, they create an echo chamber and continue a process of finding and selecting content that they agree with. This is known as confirmation bias. The internet and social media have allowed us to define ourselves into ever more discrete groups. There is a community for virtually every topic of human interest in the world. You are a unique combination of interests and ideas; since all the information of the world is available through the internet, you will explore, evolve, and change over the course of your life. Each of us has our own Zeitgeist, a spirit of the times that guides our choice for the experience. 
 
Now that we are all connected and our choice of experience is self-determined, a customer experience strategy designed for the masses is folly. Do not confuse efficiency with intimacy; we can enhance digital experiences to make them more effective, but that doesn’t build a brand the way an emotional connection does. Many of us have participated in discussions about the long lines at Disneyland and yet it’s still a brand experience like no other in the world. The real opportunity is to understand people, which is now possible through powerful analytical tools – and to deliver the content “Experiences” that speak to their Zeitgeist. Our software partnerships have given us the platform to deliver personalization on a global scale. Now it’s up to us to continue to develop and refine our techniques for helping our clients achieve the goal of reaching each of their customer’s hearts through personalization.  
 
Let’s go be great, 
Brad 

Email Etiquette

While I was at Microsoft, I participated on a committee chaired by Kevin Johnson (who at the time was leading Worldwide Sales, Marketing, and Services). As most of you know, Kevin Johnson is now the CEO of Starbucks. Our committee worked for several months to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Microsoft’s account teams. The principal goal was to return time back to the field sales force so that we could spend more time with our customers and partners.

At the time, on average, only 1/3 of the field’s time was being spent with customers and partners – the remainder was internally focused. Over the course of the project, we examined communication habits, meeting structure, the resource request process, and the systems and tools that supported the account teams. We came out with a broad list of recommendations to produce an end-to-end approach to increasing the time available to spend with customers and partners.

We need to continually improve our communication habits – This week I wanted to share the recommendations we made for improving email efficiency. Next week I’ll share the recommendations for meeting structure and etiquette.

Guidelines for E-mail at Tahzoo:
• Keep the message simple, clear, and concise.
• When sending an e-mail, only include those involved in the discussion or decision and include them on the “To” line (not the “Cc” line).
• Use the “To” line if you are assigning an action to the recipient.
• Use the “Cc” line if no action is required from the recipient (equivalent to the “Subject” line designation “FYI-Reference”).
• Use the appropriate e-mail subject line designation when sending an e-mail to increase recipient efficiency in processing e-mail, set expectations, and establish consistency across e-mail messages.
• Ensure that action items are clearly identified by using bold or colored type.
• When replying to e-mail, only reply to those involved in the discussion or decision.
• Limit the use of “Reply to All” to those individuals who need to act upon, implement, or be informed about the discussion or decision.
• When forwarding e-mail, revise the “Subject” line by using appropriate subject line designations.
• When forwarding a long thread, use the appropriate subject line designation and include an executive summary.

Per my DOB from last week, just a quick update… No follow up from Uber. Not that I expected one, but thought I’d just mention it.

Let’s go be great,
Brad

Showing That You Care

Saturday evening, I was traveling home in an Uber after a long day. I was tired and ready for a good night’s rest. My best friend had given a podcast on meditation, mostly related to the mind-body connection. The two hosts had those dreamy, serene voices that you’d expect when talking about meditation. Although tired, I was in a peaceful state, and I might add, the weather was fantastic. The windows were rolled down and the warm air added to the sensation of Spring… it was great.

For some reason I looked up – maybe the mind-body connection was at work, maybe I was in such a peaceful state that I could sense something was wrong, or it could have just been serendipity. A car in the far-right lane swept in front of us as she tried to make a U-turn across four lanes of traffic. We had no chance.

We broadsided her car (a Volkswagen Jetta) at full speed. My driver had just a moment to angle our car, a full-sized Suburban, so that we didn’t strike the driver side door head-on. Most of the impact was just behind the front wheel. Out of my peaceful state, everything went flying – my cell phone bag and headphones. Because I looked up, I was able to put my hands up and brace for impact. Needless to say, it was a serious accident, fortunately, no one was grievously hurt, just a lot of cuts, bruises, and soreness.

The Jetta was totaled, and as you would expect the Suburban was damaged but will likely see the road again. My Uber driver was amazingly professional, he checked on me to ensure that wasn’t seriously injured and then attended to the driver and passengers in the other car. It wasn’t long before a fleet of police cars and fire engines arrived; there was a bunch of fluid leaking out of one of the cars. After providing my information and report to the police, I was allowed to leave the scene. As I left, the police were giving a sobriety exam to the driver of the Jetta. I don’t know for certain, but I think she was either drunk or at least very affected.

I was a couple of blocks away from home, so I decided to walk the rest of the way. I figured after being shaken up, a walk would do me some good. I was reflecting on the fact that sometimes life has a way of interrupting – in spite of my mindful state, the world had grabbed my attention. In some stroke of irony, because I was so relaxed and connected, I was able to absorb the impact without significant injury. I’ll say that I had a moment of gratitude that my friend had recommended the podcast. By the time I got home, I began to think about how odd it was that the Uber driver had just “stopped” my trip and that if I hadn’t been so close to home I would have had to call for another Uber. I went to bed with a large glass of wine and some Advil.

When I arose the next morning, I expect to see an email from Uber, but nothing. I went to the app on my phone and the first thing was a prompt asking me to rate my driver. I thought, ‘Well, he did a great job, but what about the fact that we were in an accident?’ It took me a while, but I figured out how to report that I was in an accident. Again, how weird they were expecting me to provide details including a picture of the cars (this was a mandatory field in the application, what if I hadn’t taken a picture?) I was sent an email from support notifying me that they “corrected” my fare with a refund. I appreciate the refund, I suppose – but I wasn’t looking for a refund. Seemed to me that someone should know that I was in an accident. That was it, the fare “corrected” email – was the last correspondence I had from Uber.

At Nordstrom, we used to talk a lot about service recovery and how to take care of customers when something went awry. This was our moment to shine, to make it right, and to give our customers a story to tell about how Nordstrom cared and solved a big problem. You’ve heard the stories and they are true, someone did return a pair of tires to the Alaska store. Where was Uber in all of this, I thought. I am a good customer and yet they couldn’t figure out a way to check-in and show they cared? You’d think the Uber driver’s application would have some notification that would call for another car to get you home and set up a series of emails or messages to see if you’re ok and let you know they cared.

There is no doubt this would have to be done carefully as there are legal considerations, but any legitimate legal team and PR firm could figure this out. What a missed opportunity for Uber to give me a story to tell about what a great company they are, and how they took care of me in an unfortunate circumstance. But sadly, I think the lack of any interaction belies the corporate ethos.

The driver, however, was my hero. My earbud case and one of my earbuds flew out the window during the accident. He and I both looked before I left but I assumed they were gone, run over, or just lost. My driver kept looking and eventually found them and returned them to me. On top of that, he sent several text messages to make sure I was ok. If there is a rating higher than five stars, he deserves it.

Things go wrong, life happens, mistakes get made – you can’t always prevent them but you can always show your customers that you care.

Let’s go be great!
Brad