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            

Making Connections through Literature, Let’s Get Our Read On!

“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” – Aesop 

There is an old saying that “the difference between people is the books they’ve read and the people they’ve met”. As most of you know I enjoy reading very much. I still consider it reading if you listen to a book on Audible etc., (just to state my position on the topic). When I was in the Tahzoo Richmond, Virginia office, we had a quick chat about books and restarting Tahzoo’s book club. I read three books over the holidays: Designing Your Life, Partners in Command and Talking to Strangers. All great reads – thought provoking and good brain food. 

I enjoyed Designing Your Life the best. I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in a more conscious and prescriptive approach to living your life. Many of you are early in your careers, this book is a great way to frame how to approach the critical thinking and next steps for creating a fulfilling life. 

When I read, I am in ‘Flow’ … a state of total immersion where I lose track of time and I am fully engaged at the moment. There is an American psychologist named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who pioneered the study of Flow or sometimes referred to as “being in the Zone”. His work is fascinating, and at Tahzoo we used some of his methodologies for analyzing the quality and intensity of various brands and their customers. One of the main points of Designing Your Life is to make sure you are doing things that put you in a state of Flow. 
 
In an effort to sponsor more Flow within Tahzoo and to give us an opportunity to share ideas and perspectives, I am restarting the Tahzoo book club. The first book we are going to read is Range, by David Epstein. “Why generalist triumph in a specialized world”. It appears to speak to my belief that success and innovation at Tahzoo will be a byproduct of bringing together interdisciplinary teams in support of the customer experience. However, I haven’t read the book yet, so we’ll see. 
 
We’ll read one book a month and meet every four to six weeks depending on schedules, which seems like a reasonable cadence. If you’re excited about this, then let me know and I’ll send you a copy of the book to get started. 
  
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 

Tahzoo is 8 Years Old!

“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.” 
– Gail Devers 

Hi All, 
 
Happy Anniversary Everyone!!! 
 

Tahzoo is eight years old this week. We’ve been on a remarkable journey from a big idea with a few people; we’ve grown and continue to work with some of the most amazing brands in the world. 
 
I am truly humbled and thankful for the opportunity to work with such a talented and committed group of people. You exemplify Smart and Happy
 
We have amazing opportunities for our team. This week Gabi and I pitched with a recent client; it’s an early-stage opportunity but one that represents a huge upside for all of us. Opportunity for us in Asia is just exploding… I’ll share more about that next week. In the meantime, I need everyone to start learning Mandarin 😊 and as a reminder, we are hiring – please send us your referrals. Don’t forget about the new hire bonus! 
 
The last eight years has not been without its challenges, the last year being the most difficult… but I see a better Tahzoo now. We will grow organically, a little more slowly, and especially more thoughtfully. It’s been quite a ride… my sincerest thank you to each of you for caring about our customers. 
 
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

Why Tahzoo

I spent the week driving across the United States visiting BBQ restaurants and meeting people. I am always fascinated to hear the stories about how the restaurant was started and to feel the passion of the pitmaster. One thing strikes me about BBQ, nobody gets into the business for the money, maybe the fame but usually because it’s a family tradition. Inevitably, we have a discussion about recipes and techniques for making the best BBQ, there is a lifetime of debate to enjoy. But that conversation is about the How and I am most fascinated about the Why.

I was visiting the Richmond office last week, and Ari Ugwu who is a long time Tahzoo employee, one of the first 20 in the company, made a comment about how much he appreciates that we are spending more time talking about the Why instead of the How (full credit to Ari for pointing this out..thank you).

Simon Sinek wrote a great book called “Start with Why”. On these road trips, I get time to think and maybe more importantly I get extended periods of time to contemplate an issue and consider all of the possibilities. I’ve spent a lot of time on this trip asking myself… Why?

Tahzoo exists to improve the customer experience, that is our Why. That experience is delivered by how we help our clients take care of their customers and in the way in which we treat our clients. Not unlike the BBQ enthusiasts I met this week, I developed my passion at an early age but rather than being handed down through my family, I was taught by working with the Nordstrom family. It is an ideal that has driven me for my entire adult life… That is my Why.

You are part of the Why… You are Tahzoo. Every day in big ways and small ways you make the company great. It’s important that you know you’re why. You are part of something that aspires to change the world. Your contribution is unique and you have every opportunity to be a part of the Why. I am so proud to be a part of this great company, to visit each of the offices and feel the passion from each of you. On the best days and the worst days, remember why you are here.

Last Full Week in June

“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” -Peter Drucker 

Last full week in June…  
 
I saw my doctor this week for my annual checkup. Pleased to say I am in good health with the possible exception that my blood pressure was a bit too high as you could probably imagine, my stress level is likely to blame. However, this started an important conversation with my doctor about how to manage this situation, what were my options? How serious is this? Do I need to do something or just wait? What is the timing for treatment? And lastly, do we need more information to make a good decision? 
 
So the reason I am sharing this with you is that my doctor is a great consultant. 
 
He is smart and happy. I always feel great when I spend time with him. He is interested in me personally and we have a great rapport. Although he’s super busy I never feel like he is rushing with me. He’s fully present and engaged, I never see him check a phone or email while we are meeting. 
 
There is no doubt he’s smart, so much so that he’s willing to take the time to explain things to me. He entertains all of my questions, even when they are obviously misplaced or counter to his guidance. I feel like he helps me understand the issues so I can make good choices. It’s obvious he takes pride in educating others without trying to build his own ego.   
 
He explains to me how he is going to diagnosis an issue and then how we are going to use the data/information to make a good decision. I am never confused about the process or what to expect next, I feel like I am going on a ride (He’s driving of course) but I’m never surprised. Like the comfort you feel when you hear a song and you know what the next note is going to be otherwise known as cadence. 
 
When it comes to treatment, we talk about options, benefits, and risks at any level of detail that is important to me. My doctor is not shy about opinions or his recommendations, in fact, I’d say he is quite firm in his point of view, however; the process of deciding is collaborative. He doesn’t just lay out the options and then go with whatever I want; he is taking responsibility for ensuring a positive outcome. 
 
To simplify, the experience I am trying to share is that good consultants do four things really well:  
 
They personally care about their clients 
They freely share their knowledge and experience 
They make sure their clients know how we are going to get things done 
They take responsibility for the outcomes 
 
I want our clients to feel the same comfort and confidence in us as consultants. While we are growing and nurturing the relationships we have to keep in mind that everything we do or say is being weighed heavily. Remember the four principles of being a great consultant as you are building trust with our clients.  
 
Let’s go be great! 
 
Brad 

Let’s Get Social!

“What would you do if you believed you only had a few minutes to live? Don’t look back. Don’t be afraid. Don’t give up. Don’t Look Down.”       
-Sir Richard Branson 

Getting Social: Share and Share Alike  

 
I’ve been talking a lot recently about The Experience Economy my perspective on how I think the world of business has shifted over recent years from one of consumption to one based on experience. That is, doing things is much more important than owning stuff. As I say, it no longer matters how many goods you have; it matters how good you have it. 
 
As a leader in digital transformation, Tahzoo is at the forefront of all of this change. We are continually helping our clients, even the oldest of old-school ones, reimagine their businesses as experiences rather than as collections of products and services. 
 
One of the key drivers of this shift has been the proliferation of social/mobile media, but, more to the point, it’s about sharing. With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat I could go on and on our ability to share our experiences with our friends, family and the world has driven our need for bigger, better, more distinctive experiences. How many times have you seen blurry images of someone’s latest meal roll across your Facebook newsfeed? People want to share what they are doing with their lives. 
 
To that end, I would love for everyone at Tahzoo to become more social. (Speaking both digitally and personally, of course.)  
 
I’m planning to get more social with increased attention to my twitter feed and a new Tahzoo Instagram account, where I can post images from my travels to all those great Tahzoo locations around the world. I would love it if those of you with Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts would friend, follow, or connect with me and Tahzoo’s growing number of social entities. I will do the same for you if I don’t already. 
 
I’m likewise proud to announce the launch of letsgobegreat.com my new personal blog and the addition of Desk of Brad to the Tahzoo website. Through these social channels, I can muse about the topics that are most important to me (and, by extension, Tahzoo). This means core values, things I’ve learned along the way, experiences that have shaped me and my thinking, and, of course, lots of talk of technology and personalization and how they are reshaping business. 
 
Linking In 


I would also appreciate it if, in your LinkedIn profiles, you would use some of our branded language to describe Tahzoo and what we do: 


“Tahzoo is the company of smart and happy people who are passionate about personalizing the relationships between brands and their customers. We are one of the largest and fastest-growing customer experience (CX) agencies in the world. ” 
 
Also and this is really important if you have personal blogs or websites, it is especially helpful if you could crosslink to the Tahzoo website and to posts on our blogs. As you know, search engines and especially Google highly value crosslinks from other websites in their algorithms and it would help build some valuable search equity to get these efforts off on the right foot. It would also be a big boost for Tahzoo’s social standing as a thought leader. The more we share with and about each other, the better we all do. 
 
Here are some valuable social handles and addresses to add your lists of likes and follows. 
Twitter:    @brad_heidemann         @tahzoo 
Facebook:    Tahzoo 
LinkedIn:     Tahzoo 
Instagram:     @tahzoosocial 
Tahzoo blog:     http://blog.tahzoo.com 
Let’s Go Be Great! blog: letsgobegreat.com 
Desk of Brad blog: deskofbrad.tahzoo.com 
 
Let’s go be (socially) great! 
 
Brad 

On Commitment

Commitment is a powerful word. I have been reflecting on that word a bit recently. When I started Tahzoo I had a dream that we could build a company that would change the way that companies engage with their customers. I have been and will be committed to that dream until we have accomplished our mission.

I’m reminded of my time at Nordstrom when I first started with the company. It was during the holiday season and we were very busy. An older gentleman I didn’t know joined us behind the counter to help ease the burden and make our customers’ experience better. As it turned out, it was John Nordstrom who helped me gift wrap packages for the afternoon. What an impression that made on me—not only of their commitment to great customer service, but his willingness to go beyond his desk job to actually roll up his sleeves and get behind the counter to help. His action was very powerful. And I was clearly impressionable, as I still recall this moment for the positive impact it has had on me.

The internet, while creating many efficiencies, has also removed much of the human touch. The digital age has depersonalized an important part of the human condition. Meanwhile, commerce—how we spend our money—is a very social part of the human experience … our cities are built around market squares, we create friendships at our regular cafés and we recommend to our friends and family experiences and products that we enjoy. We’ve resurrected a part of the human connection through social media, communicating with one another our likes, dislikes, and preferences, however, this hasn’t solved the problem of feeling disintermediated from the brands we enjoy.

The vast majority of companies provide a one-size-fits-all digital experience that requires you the end-user to find the bit of information you care about … to me the internet feels a lot like shopping in a store without anyone to help you find what you want and then if you’re lucky enough to find something, you have to go through a self-checkout process. We can do better, we can teach our customers how to do better and we can make the world a little bit better.

A great company must do two things well … care about its customers and employees … and be dedicated to changing the way that information is shared and how business is done.

Not too long ago Tahzoo was just a small team, only 10 people, however, we were committed to an idea and to one another … that if we cared about our employees and cared about our customers we’d be a company worth caring about. While at times this may seem trite, it was and is the fuel that propels Tahzoo. You see, businesses can be started for many reasons—to make money, to exploit a market opportunity, to arbitrage labor markets—or they can be built to do something meaningful. In our case, my first act at Tahzoo was creating our values, even before I decided what we would do as a company. I thought if I was going to start a company it should mean something, stand for something, and do something that makes a difference.

With all that said, I want to change our little part of the world. I want to help our clients figure out how to do a better job of taking care of their customers. It’s really just that simple. They should hire Tahzoo because they believe we can help them. And, we should help them. We should understand the trust they have bestowed upon us and act accordingly.

Making Tahzoo Great

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” -Edith Wharton 

Making Tahzoo Great… 

 
You know every week I end my letter to the company with Let’s go be great – I really mean that in fact I really want that for each of you and myself. We all have a choice; we can work at Tahzoo or somewhere else so what separates our company? What makes it worth spending your time and energy? I believe it’s because we were founded on a higher purpose. To help create a better world by helping our clients deliver exceptional customer service. The first value of our company is that if you care about your customers and care about your employees, you’ll have a company worth caring about. 
 
Think about that for a moment. Our first goal isn’t a financial metric or achievement in the marketplace or delivering an innovation. It’s about creating an environment in which people are excited about. If you care about your team members and your customers, you act differently. This is why I go to work every day. I wanted to be a part of something that was transcendent, that the quality and strength of our relationships would be the measurement of success. How many companies do you know that have this as their first ideal? 
 
So my challenge to each of you is to think about how you contribute to making your colleagues and clients cared for…?  Help me build a company where we achieve greatness because of the strength of our bonds and ambition. 
 
Let’s go be great means that we are great because we do it together…. thanks for being a part of Tahzoo.  
 
Brad 

Measuring Our Employees and Our Clients

This week I am going to focus on the measurement of the two most important areas of our business: our employees and our clients. As we start the final quarter of 2015, it’s important to take a look back at both our successes and areas of improvement so that we can end the year feeling accomplished and prepared to take on 2016 and achieve all of our goals.  

You may recall, in June you were asked you to participate in the Internal Thermometer Employee Survey. We now present to you the results of this survey. In highlights, this is the feedback you are giving us: 

  • The Tahzoo Worldwide Leadership Team should focus on communicating the organizational purpose through changing times. 
  • Tahzoo Worldwide needs streamlined goals and betterfit assignments. 
  • Tahzoo Worldwide generally does well in client systems but needs better communication with former Hinttech employees. 
  • Tahzoo Worldwide needs to clearly link exceptional client service to promotions and incentives. 
  • Tahzoo Worldwide can do a better job of sharing client satisfaction data across the business. 

So, what have been our follow up actions?  

1. We realize that clear communication about the direction of the company is very important to you. That is where this email plays an important role.  As you may have noticed I have been trying to pay much more attention to explaining the course of the company, the core values, the way we will organize ourselves, and so on. In addition, we have organized Town Hall Meetings dedicated to communicating the strategy and our new global organization. Others around the company will be stepping in to play a much larger role in communicating with the company and sharing their perspectives and hands-on strategies for their teams. Remember this is our company, let’s collaborate and work together as a global force to take on our client’s needs.  

2. We have started several workstreams in which we are implementing the Tahzoo WorldWide Integration Plan. Two of them, the People Workstream and the Culture Workstream are populated with employees from all countries. This will help us keep in touch with what is really important to you. Additionally, Tali Barak Keren has been working on a “History of Tahzoo” and “History of HintTech” project for me to capture the legacies, communication styles, timelines, and even some of the struggles that both companies have faced over the past few years. We are working to make everyone aware of the differences amongst HintTech and Tahzoo, but also some of the patterns and similarities between the two organizations and how we will be able to better relate to each other.   

3. A third and most important area to pay attention to is the Employee Experience. It’s important for you to know: I see the great efforts you have been making, to ‘hang in there’ and contribute strongly during such a time of change. Thank you. It seems some of you have felt the frequent changes as ‘stops-and-starts’ that have made personal progress feel more difficult. I am committed to getting our business structure and organization working in sync on both projects and internally as it is the lifeblood of the company. I care deeply about our employee’s experiences and how they feel about Tahzoo as an employer.   

While this is all taking place, we want to make sure that you experience the results of these actions. We will, therefore, keep the finger on the pulse and perform a new survey in late October. 

As many of you know we conducted a survey of 17 Tahzoo customers to see how we can improve our customer experience. While our customers all stated that they were satisfied only one-third of clients were ‘very satisfied’ with their experience of Tahzoo; we have some work to do. 

  • Challenges to satisfaction are change in personnel and general delivery issues particularly the perception that working with us can be difficult at times and that we don’t necessarily deliver on the vision that was sold. 
  • The main drivers of satisfaction are the personal relationships that prove we care for our customers – that while it may not always be smooth, we will always “make it right” as well as our innovative/visionary approach to solving their problems 
  • There a number of steps we can take to address these issues, from providing one clear point of contact to improving how we handle changes in personnel. Many of these we have already begun to address, we will continue to improve our customer’s experience with Tahzoo 

Meanwhile, do not hesitate to give us your feedback through other channels too. We are creating a new company and for that we need all your help!  

Let’s go be great!

Brad