When was the last time you guys talked?

 “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch” –  Garrison Keillor 

Hi Everyone, 

“When is the last time you guys talked?” 

I think about my old friends from time to time, I wonder what they are up to and how they are doing. Of course, there is the social media portrait of someone’s life but that is often a facade or just a snippet in time. They say the best thing about old friends is that they knew you when you were young. If you’ve been thinking about someone and haven’t spoken to them in a while, pick up the phone today and talk. Say hello and check-in. We are all going through a weird transition and you just never know how well-timed your call might be. 

We had our first book club meeting last night it was great fun. We reviewed the book “Range”, which was an argument for why being a generalist is more advantageous than being a specialist in today’s world. We had mostly positive but mixed reviews for the book. I enjoyed the dialogue and appreciate everyone’s contribution. We choose the book, “The Infinite Game” by Simon Sinek for our next read. We’d love to have you join our group. 

We’ve selected a winner for the T-Shirt contest.  We’ll be having the T-Shirt printed up for everyone over the next few weeks. Please continue to post designs as you feel inspired, you never know who will get picked next! 

We are making progress on a lot of fronts across the company. Keep up the good work everyone! I appreciate everyone’s commitment and dedication during this difficult period. Let’s keep pushing hard, taking care of clients, and each other. 

Thanks, 
Brad            

All Hands 2019

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” – Albert Schweitzer 

Ready for next week? We have the all-hands meeting on Friday, we’ll be broadcasting for those who are unable to attend in person. For everyone else, I look forward to meeting with you in person.
 
I am excited to have everyone together again. I know for many of you this is an opportunity to finally meet people face to face for the first time. We have plenty of time allocated to make sure you get a chance to socialize and build rapport with one another. This meeting has been nine years in the making and what an amazing nine years it’s been. We’ve accomplished so much and stuck together through thick and thin; I am so proud of each of you! 
 
No specific homework before the company meeting, I know everyone is super busy these days. What I would ask is that you take some time to consider the company’s mission and our values, take some time to reflect on why you’re at Tahzoo and how you’re aligned. Tahzoo is a great company that will only be stronger and more capable as each you of internalizes our mission. We will be effectively doubling the size of the company over the next year and each of you will play an essential role in teaching our new team members the Tahzoo way. 

Our Mission – We exist to help our clients deliver contextually appropriate and personalized experiences to their customers. This means we have the opportunity to create solutions that make millions of people a little bit happier every day!  
 
It’s a lofty mission and one that is worthy of your time, not only because there is ample opportunity for personal growth, but we are also creating positive change in our small piece of the world!  
 
I am practically bursting with enthusiasm; I’ve got a lot to say about how a small group of Smart and Happy, dedicated individuals can change themselves and the world. I can’t wait to see you all next week! 
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 

Guiding Principles

I had a nice visit to the Richmond office this week. As Dara said, it’s going to be “Richmond hipster”, replete with a huge mural along the main wall.

As we were moving various items into the new office, I came across a whiteboard that had advice written for new employees. It got me to thinking about the difference between our values and operating principles.

Think of our values as guiding strategic vision and operating principles as guidance for day to day activities. As we are re-engineering the company for this next wave of growth, I plan to spend more time defining the operating principles to help the decision making within the company.

This list is a good start and came from a series of conversations I had with Travis about the onboarding process.

ARE YOU TELLING THE RIGHT PEOPLE?
• There are challenges and opportunities for Tahzoo – do you have the right people involved to help you?

WILL THIS BE EASY TO FIND LATER?
• We are a geographically dispersed company and collaboration can be difficult; have you explored Tahzoo Connect and Learning Exchange to stay up to speed?

DOES THIS DECISION FIT OUR BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL MODEL?
• Stay focused on our market; always remember we are a premium shop.

DELIVER ON TIME, ON BUDGET AND WITH QUALITY
• This is central to our success as a company and core commitment to clients.

HAVE PATIENCE WITH GROWING PAINS
• Change is inevitable as we grow, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

NEVER LOSE ALONE
• When things aren’t going right, don’t suffer in silence, get everyone involved to create a win.

The sub-bullets provide a little more color to the principles. Take this guidance to work with you on Monday and keep this in mind as you make decisions about our business.

On a closing note, thank you to Kevin Parker and his two sons, as well as Sam M, Dara, Eddie, Olme, and Gabi for moving the offices.

Thanks!
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 overachieve – 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

Culture Book

Hi Everyone,

I am pleased to share the new Tahzoo Culture Book! This book was created to share our stories, talk about our values, and provide some guide rails for how to be effective at Tahzoo. Please take some time and read through this thoroughly. We are going to be hiring many new people this year, and it’s important that we let them know why we’re here and what we are all about as a company and as teammates. A great culture has a shared set of ideals and stories that define them. We want to keep Tahzoo a place full of smart and happy people. A special thank you to Jen Adamski-Torres and Gabi Macy for all their hard work putting this together.

View Interactive Book (Click ‘Fullscreen’ mode)

Thanks,
Brad

Being a Free Market Capitalist

“For all great innovations, someone took a risk. They risked capital; they risked their energy; they risked their opportunity cost; and more important, they risked failure. We can’t innovate without the belief that we can succeed, the confidence that others will be there to help us on the journey, and the security that we will not be punished if we fail to reach our goal. A fast-moving world demands innovation for long-term success.” – Dov Seidman 

Opportunity  
I’ve been in the Netherlands this week coordinating the final efforts for the restructuring of Tahzoo. I see how the separation of concerns will lead to greater opportunities for long-term success for all involved. I’ve spoken many times about the importance of caring for your customers and your employees as a first principle for how I approach my job every day. The new Tahzoo will continue to be centered on our core values. 
 
Next week we will be sharing our new culture book, and an updated organizational chart focused on ensuring that we can make decisions closer to our customers, grounded in quantitative metrics as well as the qualitative. 
 
In the final analysis, I am a free-market capitalist. I believe that everyone should have the right to pursue their passion, and through their work have a sense of accomplishment and achievement that is consistent with their life goals. As I’ve built Tahzoo, I have endeavored to create the freedom necessary for employees to have the opportunity to pursue greatness as they choose.   
 
It’s up to each of us, every day, to do the hard work and to make the hard decisions required to achieve our dreams. I wish each of you a life that is fulfilled and rich with a sense of accomplishment for the values you hold most dearly. 
 
Rest assured that Tahzoo is a great company and we will achieve our goals of being a market-leading CX agency. 
 
Thanks, 
Brad 

Sales – It’s Not Just Selling

“Service, in short, is not what you do, but who you are. It is a way of living that you need to bring to everything you do, if you are to bring it to your customer interactions.” – Betsy Sanders 

Sales – It’s Not Just Selling… 

 In a healthy company, everyone knows how they contribute to the mission and success of the company. I had many different jobs while I worked at Nordstrom – at one point in time, I was a phone switchboard operator; I managed all the incoming and outgoing phone calls for the store. At another point, I worked in security; keeping everyone safe and catching shoplifters. While these jobs didn’t contribute directly to selling clothing, they were an important part of creating an optimal customer experience. We have many different practice areas and capabilities within Tahzoo to assist our clients. The work that everyone does is important. 
 
I recently had a conversation with a developer who wasn’t entirely sure how his work contributed to the overall mission of Tahzoo. It’s not that he didn’t understand his work or the need to implement a content management system; rather, how that fits into the big picture of Tahzoo. As we were talking, I asked him to consider a few questions… We talked through his answers and it became clear to me that I should spend more time making sure each of you understands how you can contribute to making Tahzoo a great company. 
 
   1.     Do you understand the vision we have for our clients? 
   2.     What do you do every single day to contribute to the Tahzoo client experience? 
   3.     How are you advancing the mission of the company? 
   4.     How are you innovating in your work to improve the experience? 
   5.     How do you identify new opportunities for Tahzoo to help your client? 
 
What each of you does every day contributes to our clients becoming long-standing customers of Tahzoo. In other words, we could ask, “How do I contribute to sales and growth at Tahzoo?” This got me thinking about all of the sales and customer experience touchpoints that help contribute to the growth of our bottom line, even those touchpoints that may not engage with our customers directly. I would encourage everyone to review these five questions and consider what you could be doing differently. 
 
As you all know we’ve expanded Tahzoo’s service offering to include Tahzoo Studios, which includes Data Sciences married to Experience Design. Our core offerings are around three key pillars, The Data Hub, The Content Hub, and the Experience Hub. The best way to think about the value proposition of each pillar – The Datahub provides you a 360-degree view of the customer, the Content hub allows you to efficiently publish content on any channel, and the Experience hub provides the creative experience and the intelligence to ensure a personalized engagement with the brand. 
 
Over the next few weeks, I’ll outline each service offering in more detail. I want to ensure that everyone feels comfortable describing what we do. Be on the lookout for my article, Getting Ready for Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence Technologies later next week. We have been adding more and more content from my Desk of Brad articles to my blog, www.letsgobegreat.com. If you start a conversation with a customer about Tahzoo’s service offering, positioning, or philosophy, please feel free to refer them to the site. 
 
As always, feel free to send me your thoughts and feedback. 
 
Cheers,  
Brad 

Innovation

As our Innovation Day (Innovatiedag Herfst 2016) events draw to a close this week, I’m proud to see the strong spirit of innovation clearly evident in our Tahzoo family. I’d like to thank the attendees, presenters, planners, and all of the hackathon participants who contributed to this successful event.

This is a perfect time to revisit a note from a while back, which serves as a good reminder about the value of innovation. It focuses on three of my favorite innovators and the lessons we might draw from their experiences that can inform our thinking about our own innovative spirit. You see, I believe that innovation is not a matter of fleeting inspiration, but rather a skill that can be learned, practiced, and, most importantly, improved over time. Like taking up a musical instrument, all that is needed to innovate is the right attitude and the receptivity to change ourselves.

For any new company to succeed there has to be innovation—often a lot of it. Apple. Amazon. Uber. Facebook. The examples are easy to come by. The message is pretty simple: to stand out, you have to do things differently than those who went before.

That’s why we talk a lot about innovation here at Tahzoo. We are not in the game of operational efficiency, or of trimming expenses to preserve razor-thin margins of profit, nor of selling volumes upon volumes of widgets. We are in the marketplace of ideas. Our clients turn to us for our ability to think differently than the herd of consultants out there. We must, therefore, place the highest value on innovation to assure that we always stand head and shoulders above the competition.

The first lesson of innovation is effort. In this, there can be no greater role model than Thomas Edison. The man held at least 1,093 patents when he died—including as you know the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, and motion pictures. Think about that for a moment. He “held” 1,093 patents, but there were surely numerous ideas the at didn’t pan out. He certainly knew more than his share of failure through all that. This is a lesson in believing in an idea so strongly that one is willing to soldier on in pursuit of the dream, never relenting, never giving up.

Speaking of dreaming, that brings me to another of my favorite inventors, Nikola Tesla, who, it was said, often dreamed of his inventions before he set to inventing them. Tesla bragged of his ability to perform realistic “dream experiments,” while fully awake.

This is a lesson in vision. Innovation often requires one to be able to imagine an ideal state or a solution to a particularly vexing problem in order to make that vision a reality. Interestingly enough, Tesla was such a good dreamer that many of his most interesting and ambitious ideas never came to fruition during his life because they were too ahead of their time. He imagined television and cellphones long before they ever became everyday things. He also dreamed of a way to power electrical devices without wires that is still a largely unrealized ideal today. So, take it from Tesla, if you’re going to dream, dream big!

Lastly, innovation requires perspective. No one but Einstein himself is our role model here. He conceived of his mind-boggling “Theory of Relativity,” while working as a humble patent clerk reviewing closed-loop train switching patterns. Einstein’s breakthrough was in his ability to apply learning from one field to another—of shifting perspective. It’s interesting to me that the lessons of perspective that Einstein imparts are in some ways a distillation of Relativity itself, which held that our perception of time is relative to the speed of light. That is: perception changes as perspective changes.

So, there you have it: innovation in a nutshell. It takes effort. It takes vision. And, it takes perspective. If we all apply these lessons to as many aspects of our personal and our professional lives, we cannot help but develop innovative ways to see and do great things.

We’re in the Relationship Business

When I think about the skills required to execute our mission, not only does it include a high level of expertise in the areas of marketing and thought leadership, it also means that we are excellent at building and maintain great relationships with our clients.

If you were asked what does Tahzoo do? Would your answer be; we build great relationships with our customers so we can help them change? Or would it be something like we do digital marketing? Or we’re a customer experience agency?

We are in the relationship business. It just so happens that the primary value add of Tahzoo is we work on customer experience problems. Here are my thoughts on developing a great relationship with your client.

You care for your clients –
Caring is not defined by how you feel, but by how you act. I’d go on to say that it’s a commitment. A commitment to your client’s success, to treat them with respect, and to care enough to do your best work on their behalf. If you truly care about your client, you are obligated to find a higher purpose in your relationship with them.

You’re a servant –
You put the client before yourself, before the company and before profit. With a servant’s heart, you assist your client in any way necessary to ensure their success. Zig Ziglar, a famous sales trainer used to say “you get what you want by helping others get what they want”.

You’re honest –
Honesty requires courage. Good consultants have opinions and in a respectful way, they share their perspective and experience. If the primary goal is to ensure the client’s success, then they need to hear from you what you really think. The better the communication, the stronger the relationship; build trust, and have the confidence to engage your customer in the marketplace of ideas.

You make friends –
I make friends with my clients. Many of my clients from my Microsoft days are still friends. Your work is important but a friendship creates a basis for trust. We are a company full of smart and happy people… share your happiness, be friendly, and get to know your client.

You’re patient –
The work we do is hard… we are agents of change. Our clients built a tremendously successful business over a long period of time and although technology and consumer expectations are changing rapidly, they need time to catch up. Be patient, take the time to explain things, and don’t be afraid to stick with your client while they work through the internal challenges of managing change.

You’re loyal –
Trust is a function of consistency over time. The client needs to know that you’ll be with them through and through.

You check in regularly –
If you have a great relationship with your client, then you’re be continuously checking in to ensure that you share a common vision of success. Working together, building together, failing, and succeeding together (all while pursuing a common definition of success) is what great relationships are made of.

You have fun –
Find the joy in your work and share it. Enthusiasm is infectious and sometimes your client will need your energy. All great relationships have an element of fun. Smile, laugh, and find reasons to celebrate.

Where are we going?

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”    -Confucius 

Where are we going? 
  

We are going to be a world-class Customer Experience Agency. 
 
I get asked a lot about the strategic direction of the company. I am working on our 2017 plan which I am excited to roll out to all of you in the next month or so. In the meantime, I have been framing a set of attributes that define my vision for the company and thought it would be a good time to share them with you. 
 
You’ll see that it is a blend of characteristics, outcomes, and extension of our values. Please take some time to review. 

  • We will provide leading and innovative solutions to common marketing problems 
  • Which means we have the capabilities and competencies expected of a leading agency 
  • We will be innovative and explore ways in which we can solve problems that give Tahzoo a lasting strategic advantage 
  • We are going to be good and trying new things experimenting with solutions or businesses failing quickly learning and trying it all over again 
  • We are going to be great at building businesses within our company 
  • We will deliver and execute our work with the highest level of caring and concern for our client 
  • We will always put the wellbeing and success of our client before ourselves and our profit 
  • To the fullest extent possible we will strive for transparency and openness in how we deal with our clients and one another 
  • We will be a data and metrics-driven company 
  • We will work hard to find the right measurements to help better inform decision making and provide clear expectations for ourselves our teams and our rewards 
  • We are going to work hard to ensure that we have a harmonious and pleasant work environment 
  • We will systematically eliminate chaos from our business 
  • We will over-invest in our facilities and benefits to ensure that we provide a great work experience for our employees 
  • We will have robust training and professional development programs for our employees 

I hope this will provide you a framework for how to align within our company. We are working diligently to ensure that we deliver on this framework during the last half of the year and in 2017. 
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad