Who Do You Want to Work With?

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

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

For Those Who Love To Teach

Let’s get excited.   

Do you remember when you were in your early twenties looking for a job? What were you thinking about at that time…? What’s my future going to be… will I be successful, fall in love, buy a house, have children, be rich… You had lots of unknowns during that time and a lot of big decisions ahead of you. Now that I am a little older, I want to remind you, that at that age, you also had a lot of energy. Exciting and heady times for everyone.  
 
A really big question looming in your life at that time probably was what your job/career is going to be. You sort of know what you like, and you have ambition, although how much ambition isn’t always clear. So, you go job hunting in your field, talk to your friends and try to find a cool place to work. I remember Gabi’s (VP, Business Operations) story about when she was considering joining the company that she spent time looking at the Tahzoo’s Flickr page (I assume this was mostly because our website was only 1 page and didn’t actually tell you anything about what we did- but that’s another story) seeing our first Christmas party where we were giving away iPads at a cool whiskey bar in DC called Jack Rose. She thinks to herself “well that would be a cool place to work”. At that stage in life, you were also probably looking for a place to work that’s cool and where you can learn a lot.  
 
Most of you may not know this about me but I was on staff at a Presbyterian church as a youth director. I did not have the job for a long time, but it had a lasting impact on me. I was responsible for the middle schoolers 6th grade to 9th grades. All I’ve got to say about that job is that it is a really tough age, with lots of changes and confusion about everything. I also really loved middle schoolers because working with kids that early meant that it was not too late to keep them off bad paths in life. The moral compass may be unsteady for children at that age and sometimes they just need someone to talk to, to keep them from getting in with the wrong crowd, doing drugs, committing crimes, or worse. They are just trying to figure out how to grow up.   
 
I think it’s where I first learned about how much I loved teaching and helping people. For me, it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my career. More than all of the other successes I’ve had and by some measure. Helping people grow and mature in their career is my life’s calling, it’s why I started Tahzoo. Here is what I was thinking “If we could bring together a group of smart and happy people, we could make a hugely positive impact on the world as marketing technology evolved”. We’d learn together, focus on something noble, like great customer experiences, and try to make millions of people a little bit happier every day.  
 
As all of us know, it’s been a long road to get here, Tahzoo will be 10 years old next year! Shout out to Piti, Dara, Matt, John K, Gabi, Emil, and Chris W you are a part of the foundation of this company. We are finally doing really exciting work these days. 
 
It’s just awesome! And folks, I am super excited, but I have to be super honest, it’s time to go hire some people and do it quickly. The reason bringing this up today is that I want all of us to get on the bus about hiring fresh out of college young professionals, with no more than two jobs on their resumes into our business.  
 
We are only going to hire people who are interested in consulting and we will have two types of consultants; business and technical. There is no need for specialization in your first job. We want folks who are eager to learn and work hard, over time they’ll settle into the career trajectory. They need to be smart and happy and willing to work really hard because as we all know consulting is not an easy gig. We have more than enough work for them to help with client projects and the many initiatives we have going within the company.   
 

In the meantime, what a great opportunity for someone to come work at Tahzoo, learn the ropes from all of you, and be part of something pretty cool. Let’s ramp our social presence – start sending them content! Examples would be; where are you in the world? What cool thing is happening at Tahzoo, did we just have an international virtual happy hour from the US to Africa to Asia? Are you thrilled about a great presentation? Or dead tired flying back from Taiwan? Let’s build some buzz about our company and the cool things we do.  
 
Each of you has so much to offer to a relatively inexperienced person fresh out of college. Think about all the experiences you have and all the perspectives you have about how to be successful at a successful company. So, help me and the rest of the company hire some great folks.  
 
Please get the word out, let’s go get some great people. We will mentor them, steer them in a good direction, and create some Tahzoo superstars!  
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 

Client Partner and Delivery Lead

I am asked from time to time to better define the role of Client Partner and the Delivery Lead. As part of a project kick-off, I spent a few moments outlining the basic working relationship in an effort to ensure a successful engagement. The following is an excerpt from the letter that I wrote to the team…

Not unlike a pilot and a co-pilot, (the client partner and the delivery lead) they are responsible to fly the plane. It’s hard to imagine any circumstances in which they are not locked at the hip working through strategies and solutions to ensure the best possible experience for our client. As a team, they need to ensure that we have the right people on the job, that we are delivering a level of quality that makes us all proud to be a part of Tahzoo, and thirdly that we are building our business within the account. While the division of labor between the two may change based on the client and individual expertise, the entire company needs to be operating in support of the pilot and the co-pilot. It is their plane; their account they are accountable no exceptions. There is no delivery view and sales view of the world that is acceptable to me. Tahzoo is not a hierarchical company… we are all here to serve the client or serve people who are serving the client. If you are in a position of leadership or expertise or administration you are at Tahzoo to give the team what they think they need to be successful.

The first deliverable from this team should be a vision statement/document that details what success looks like for this account. Keep in mind that we are a CX agency – our view should include the entirety of our client’s customer experience. We need a north star so that everyone who works on this account knows what we are aiming for and what are the major success milestones. I would expect this deliverable to be a page or so and a must-read for everyone involved.

I Can Feel the Momentum

When I was buying clothing at Nordstrom, we used to have to figure out the right level of inventory for each product by size. So let’s take a men’s V-neck undershirt, size large. If on average, you sell 42 units a week and they are resupplied once a week what is the right inventory level? (Before you answer it’s a trick question).

Turns out that the rate of sale is important but only half the equation, the standard deviation in your rate of sale is equally important. For those of you who are really into math, we can discuss the various methods of calculating a standard deviation. The idea here is that there are volatility and efficiencies that are part of creating an ideal solution. You have to know that some weeks you’ll sell 42 units, some weeks 62 and some weeks 30. If you price your product right, margin minus the cost of inventory.

In a simplified way, the right answer for the right amount of inventory is the average rate of sale plus one standard deviation.

If you’re still reading this DOB then great, let me explain why you should care… We are hiring!!! We have a bow wave of work rolling through the company and we’ve been working hard to make sure we hire the right number of people. The reason I bring this up is that we need your help finding great people for Tahzoo. Referrals are the best candidates for our company, if you think they are “Smart and Happy” then half the interview process is completed. Please be on the lookout for a series of job postings over the next couple of weeks.

I have been emphasizing the need to hire and promote from within Tahzoo. If you see a posting that you’re a good fit for, please through your hat in the ring. I’d like to see our company and our culture be one that is fostered from within.

Tahzoo is doing great, we are blessed with so much opportunity within our accounts in Europe, UK, and the US… I can feel the momentum!

More than ever we need to expand the ambition of our ideas, the breadth of our service offerings, the geographies we are targeting, and the number of great people we work with every day.

The Four Engagement Models for Our Clients

The business we’re in is achieving business results for our clients by enabling them to deliver contextually relevant and personalized experiences. 

There are many people within the company working on the integration plan, exploring the opportunities and challenges of combining the businesses. A common thread in the discussion is what business we are in? I would like to add some clarity to that concern. 

We have an “as is” and a “to be” state in the business that needs to translate to both sides of the Atlantic. If we all agree that enabling our clients to create and deliver better experiences for our customers then we need to think about how the various dimensions of our business work together to achieve that goal.

We have four types of engagement models with our clients… 

Staffing Support, Project Work, Digital Transformation and Managed Services/ALM 

Almost a third of our work fits into the category of staffing support. This includes contracts we have with the Dutch government, but it also encompasses all the work we do for clients where they are leading the engagement and we are providing skilled and expert services to support their project and business goals. These engagements are typically bound in time and will bill according to the hours worked. There are many reasons why this is a great business for us, two that I’d like to point out is that we are able to build a wide base of competencies in the company which can support many different initiatives. The second reason is that it a fairly consistent and predictable business, so when we are planning for growth it’s nice to have stability in our client base. While I don’t see this business growing as fast as the rest of our business, there is still a strong market supporting clients who need a trusted partner to provide expertise. 

Another third of our business could be called project work. This typically involves Tahzoo assuming the responsibility of the successful implementation of some technology or execution of a strategy project. In these cases, we are hired because of our expertise and experience solving similar problems for clients in the past. We try to use this type of work to engage in a deep conversation around organizational goals and initiatives to win additional work. In the US many of our accounts are just an ongoing series of projects drive toward the goal of better customer experiences. On the strategy side of the business, these projects often lead to a retainer-based relationship but stop short of digital transformation because they are one dimensional and/or they are only applicable to a portion of the business.  

About twenty percent of our business is true digital transformation work. In these cases, our clients have hired a dedicated multi-disciplinary team to support a transformational initiative. These are long term strategic engagements in which Tahzoo provides the full range of services over many years. As we have discussed, there is a lot of organizational change required to provide contextually relevant experiences, its journey.

The last category, managed services/ALM, is evolutionary.  Today it’s mostly about technical support.  But where we want to go with it, is to include marketing operations, run campaigns and marketing programs, ultimately ending up as a type of business process outsourcing (BPO) for digital marketing. 

Next week, I’ll start taking you through some of our ideas on how to get there.