“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.
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.
“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!
Today marks the last day that our headquarters will be at 1005 7th St NW, starting Monday we will be taking up residence in a different office space at 1015 7th St NW- located just down the block.
Many of you may recall when we first got our soon to be former office space… we announced it at our 4th Anniversary party in August of 2014. It was such a momentous occasion to open a “cool” office space and we were all so proud to see our name on the side of the building.
We took over that office as a leap of faith in what Tahzoo could be. We were a small company. It was a big commitment. It was scary and intimidating. And it was totally worth it.
When I think back to all of the milestones, people who’ve come through those doors and the challenges and victories that we’ve faced here I couldn’t be more proud of where we’re going.
I feel the energy changing in the company. It might be slower than I’d like, but its building…We are winning new projects, we are hiring and we’re not sitting around waiting for change- we’re making it happen. But the only way we will continue gaining traction is if we don’t lose sight of the priorities. We need to take care of our clients and our colleagues, we need to be good stewards of our finances and our relationships and we need to continue to be innovators and leaders in our space.
So cheers to 1005 7th St- you were a milestone in our history and I’m grateful we had you through such pivotal years.
I can’t wait to see what new adventures await us in this next wave!
“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
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.
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.
“First we thought the PC was a calculator. Then we found out how to turn numbers into letters with ASCII — and we thought it was a typewriter. Then we discovered graphics, and we thought it was a television. With the World Wide Web, we’ve realized it’s a brochure.” – Douglas Adams
Living Through Experiences
Thank you for a great week. What a pleasure it was to celebrate 7 years of Tahzoo with each of you. I am so excited to see the progress we’ve made and the opportunities we have before us. This is the healthiest I’ve seen the company since its inception. We are on the precipice of some truly remarkable account wins and the team that we’ve assembled is truly “Smart and Happy”.
Take what you’ve learned this week and apply it to serving our customers and one another. Remember that we are in the business of improving people’s lives, we CAN make millions of people happier every day. We live our lives through our experiences; let’s help our clients make customer experiences that are more memorable and sharable.
A special shout out to the winners of the Tahzoo annual awards, Shawn, Kevin, Chris, and Tal – you set the example for all of us and you make this company great!
“One way to meet new people is to listen more carefully to the people you see every day.” – Robert Brault
In Search of Bernbach
As I sat on an airplane and came across an Ad Age ‘interview’ of advertising legend Bill Bernbach, the thought crossed my mind, ‘How would one respond to these questions in the context of the 21st century?’. It proved to be a beneficial exercise for professional reflection – by no means am I setting myself on a pedestal beside the likes of Bernbach – rather, responding became a means to clarify my own perspective. I highly suggest giving this approach a try the next time you find yourself waiting in a terminal or stuck in the middle seat of a plane.
We can glean much from Bernbach – he was named the single most influential person in advertising in the 20th century by Ad Age, but unlike others in the industry, Mr. Bernbach didn’t leave behind an opus in book form. So David Andrew Lloyd took it upon himself to track down the man and “interview” him.
In Search of Bernbach, Advertising’s Greatest Thinker By: David Andrew Lloyd
To learn the secret behind such classics as his Volkswagen “Think Small” ads and Avis “We Try Harder” campaign, I decided I must find Bill Bernbach, the leading force behind the Creative Revolution.
He had the ability to analyze a product’s qualities, and extract its raw personal emotion. He knew a place where he could actually touch the human soul.
With his American Tourister Gorilla as my guide, we traveled over the Mountain of Focus Group Research, through the dark Jungle of Behavioral Sciences and past the Tomb of the Unknown Edsel. Eventually, we found Bernbach in the Valley of Intuition, celebrating his 100th birthday.*
LLOYD: What’s the key element for developing effective advertising?
BERNBACH: The purpose of advertising … is to sell. If that goal doesn’t permeate every idea you get, every word you write, every picture you take, you’re phony, and you ought to get out of the business.
HEIDEMANN: This has not changed; we are here to help our clients drive revenue.
LLOYD: Then how did you justify your radical style of showing empty bottles in ads, teeth marks in Levy’s bread, models without smiles?
BERNBACH: I realized that the growth of television, along with all the existing media, would result in consumers being bombarded with more messages than they could absorb. So the advertiser would have to deliver his message in a different way — memorably and artfully — if he was going to be “chosen” by the consumer.
HEIDEMANN: Ironically, Bernbach’s prediction couldn’t be more true. The proliferation of channels and the distribution of content has only made it more difficult to reach the consumer. Now the consumer has access to information and peer review through social channels that were not possible 10 years ago. This means that content, the style, and type are more important than ever, while the one too many models in which the zeitgeist of the masses was the defining characteristic of success that now needs to be delivered to an audience or segment level.
LLOYD: What was wrong with the old scientific approach?
BERNBACH: I warn you against believing that advertising is a science. Artistry is what counts. The business is filled with great technicians, and unfortunately they talk the best game … but there’s one little problem. Advertising happens to be an art, not a science.
HEIDEMANN: The artistry now is in the experience and not just the message or the content. We need to craft experiences that are contextually appropriate whether that is in the context of a device, channel or the customer’s state of mind.
BERNBACH: The more you research, the more you play it safe, and the more you waste money. Research inevitably leads to conformity.
HEIDEMANN: In an emerging market in which technology is a disruptive force, research only gives you the rearview mirror. In today’s age, innovating around the experience requires agility and artistry.
LLOYD: At least you won’t offend anyone.
BERNBACH: (Laughing) Eighty-five percent of all ads don’t even get looked at. Think of it! You and I are the most extravagant people in the world. Who else is spending billions of dollars and getting absolutely nothing in return? We were worried about whether or not the American public loves us. They don’t even hate us. They just ignore us.
HEIDEMANN: Those numbers are getting smaller and smaller over time. Interestingly, the opportunity to connect is getting larger. Customers are expressing their preferences in more and more specific ways. The ability to deliver experiences and content that are meaningful and relevant will materially impact the engagement of an audience.
LLOYD: So how do you get into that desirable 15%?
BERNBACH: The only difference is an intangible thing that businessmen are so suspicious of, this thing called artistry. … Try riding the bus … and you just watch the people with Life magazine flipping through the pages at $60,000 a page, and not stopping and looking. The only thing that can stop them is this thing called artistry that says, “Stop, look, this is interesting.”
HEIDEMANN: By taking the time to understand consumers at an audience or segment level we have the opportunity to develop experiences and content that exactly meets their needs. No longer do we need to broadcast one-size-fits-all messaging we can speak to customers as individuals.
LLOYD: Shouldn’t market research improve those odds?
BERNBACH: Research can be dangerous. It should give you facts and not make judgments for you… We are too busy measuring public opinion that we forget we can mold it.
HEIDEMANN: Research should be a measure of efficacy and a model for improving the connection between audiences. In today’s world, taking the time to truly understand the expectations and desires of an audience is where research is valuable. In this way, we can begin to craft and refine experiences that are considered relevant.
LLOYD: Advertisers still need to judge their ideas against something tangible.
BERNBACH: I have found, by and large — I know this is heresy — the better the marketing man, the poorer the judge of an ad. That’s because he wants to be sure of everything, and you can’t be sure of everything.
HEIDEMANN: We live in a world of measurement in which the quality of the experience and the content can be measured. Gone are the days when we had an opaque understanding of the efficacy of our advertising, now we can measure to the exact expected business outcome.
LLOYD: Doesn’t it seem logical to test your ads?
BERNBACH: (Grinning.) I’m beginning to believe, incidentally, that logic is one of the great obstacles to progress.
HEIDEMANN: Now that Branding, Experiences and Content can be modified with relative ease, the 21st-century model requires constant attenuation and experimentation. We need to test, but more importantly, we need processes by which we measure and methodically improve the experience by audience.
LLOYD: How do you suggest advertisers make their “guesses” accurate?
BERNBACH: Know his product inside and out. Your cleverness must stem from knowledge of the product. … It’s hard to write well about something you know little about.
HEIDEMANN: Again in the 21st-century model, it’s true that you need as much product knowledge as you can accumulate, however, it is as important or more important that you understand your audience.
LLOYD: Ha! That’s research. Why can’t you admit advertising is a science?
BERNBACH: (Annoyed.) The greatest advances in the history of science came from scientists’ intuition. Listen to one of the greatest scientific minds talking on the subject of physicists. “The supreme task of the physicist is to arrive at those universal elementary laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no logical path to these laws. Only intuition can reach them.” The scientist’s name was Albert Einstein, the greatest scientist of them all!
HEIDEMANN: Since the beginning of time, the experience matters and the experiences should be different for each of us.
LLOYD: Nevertheless, clients want to feel secure before spending their money.
BERNBACH: In advertising the big problem facing the client is that he wants to be sure that his new campaign is foolproof. Even we can’t be sure that there are certain things that an ad must contain. They are no more predictable than that a play will be a hit or a book a best seller.
HEIDEMANN: We help companies fish; but mostly we are teaching them how to fish. They spent decades building institutional models of how to drive business which has been significantly disrupted by technology, now they need to learn how to integrate these new capabilities into their business and organizational models.
LLOYD: Can you blame them for being cautious?
BERNBACH: Playing it safe can be the most dangerous thing you can do.
HEIDEMANN: We live in a time of disruption and an opportunity to gain lasting strategic advantages.
LLOYD: It’s their money. It’s their right to make that decision.
BERNBACH: We don’t permit the client to give us ground rules. It’s bad for the client.
LLOYD: Come on, Bill. That’s a bit egotistical.
BERNBACH: I don’t mean to be arrogant, but we have deep convictions about our work, and we believe that one of the greatest services we can give the client is to honestly state our convictions.
HEIDEMANN: I couldn’t agree more – Our clients hire us to give them the honest truth, 100 percent, and just like any relationship, it requires both parties to be forthcoming.
*Answers are actual Bernbach quotes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR David Andrew Lloyd is a third-generation Bernbachian. His first boss, Chuck Bua, a five-time Clio Award winner, worked under Bernbach at DDB. Lloyd now lives in Studio City where he writes film and TV comedy — because that’s all he can take seriously.
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.
As our colleagues in the US prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, I’ve been reflecting upon the impact of gratitude in our day to day lives – both personally and professionally.
Our HR team has a long-standing practice of sharing their ‘weekly gratitudes’ at the end of each week via email. This simple, yet profound gesture encourages a focus upon not only what is going well, but in how challenges became opportunities and struggles became successes. This sharing of stories often provides encouragement to others.
Gratitude is powerful when made part of a regular personal practice, and even more so when we share those observations with colleagues, friends, and family. I am grateful for each of you, and for the invaluable opportunities we have to do great things together here at Tahzoo.
Have a great week as you enjoy time with family and friends, reflecting and celebrating.