Climbing the Bumps

What are you proud of? 

All things being equal it’s been a year of challenges and triumphs. I’ve watched many of you grow over the last year, myself included. I read a book when I was a kid named “The bumps are what you climb on”. The premise being that challenging yourself and enduring challenging times in your life promote growth.  
 
Smart and Happy is infectious. I see it everywhere and the company and I are jealous for more of it. One of the great joys of my job is participating in and watching each of you grow and mature. I see the confidence-building individually and amongst the account teams. I didn’t want to miss the moment to reflect on our accomplishments one more time. I’ve listed out the things you were proud of in 2018 and 2019. I know some of you don’t like to speak up or need more time for consideration, however, I strongly encourage each of you to review this list and if you didn’t have a proudest moment on the list, I have one request.  
 
Take this Desk of Brad, drop it in a word document and add to it the one thing you were most proud of in the last year, whatever it is. Then add one goal for 2020, just one thing that if you accomplish, you will feel like you’ve checked a major box. Save it in a file and when we get ready for our totally rocking 2020 10th Anniversary Company meeting, I am going to ask you to reflect on both 2019 and 2020. There’s a lot of power in writing things to down, so invest in yourself and Tahzoo and spend a moment reflecting on the last year and the year to come. 

Let’s go be great! 

Brad 

Maybe So

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein 

Maybe So 

   
My mentor at Microsoft used to share this Chinese proverb occasionally as a reminder that things are not always as they appear to be… more to follow after you read the proverb. 
 
One day in late summer, an old farmer was working in his field with his old sick horse. The farmer felt compassion for the horse and desired to lift its burden. So, he left his horse loose to go to the mountains and live out the rest of its life. 
 
Soon after, neighbors from the nearby village visited, offering their condolences and said, “What a shame.  Now your only horse is gone.  How unfortunate you are! You must be very sad. How will you live, work the land, and prosper?” The farmer replied: “Maybe so? Maybe not”. 
 
Two days later the old horse came back now rejuvenated after meandering in the mountainsides while eating the wild grasses. He came back with twelve new younger and healthy horses which followed the old horse into the corral.  
 
Word got out in the village of the old farmer’s good fortune and it wasn’t long before people stopped by to congratulate the farmer on his good luck.  “How fortunate you are!”, they exclaimed. You must be very happy!”  Again, the farmer softly said, “Maybe so? Maybe not.” 
 
At daybreak on the next morning, the farmer’s only son set off to attempt to train the new wild horses, but the farmer’s son was thrown to the ground and broke his leg.  One by one, villagers arrived during the day to bemoan the farmer’s latest misfortune.  “Oh, what a tragedy!  Your son won’t be able to help you farm with a broken leg. You’ll have to do all the work yourself; how will you survive? You must be very sad”, they said.  Calmly going about his usual business, the farmer answered, “Maybe so? Maybe not.” 
 
Several days later a war broke out. The Emperor’s men arrived in the village demanding that young men come with them to be conscripted into the Emperor’s army.  As it happened the farmer’s son was deemed unfit because of his broken leg.  “What very good fortune you have!”, the villagers exclaimed as their own young sons were marched away. “You must be very happy.” “Maybe so, maybe not!”, replied the old farmer as he headed off to work his field alone. 
 
As time went on the broken leg healed but the son was left with a slight limp. Again, the neighbors came to pay their condolences. “Oh, what bad luck. Too bad for you!”  But the old farmer simply replied; “Maybe so? Maybe not.” 
 
As it turned out the other young village boys had died in the war and the old farmer and his son were the only able-bodied men capable of working the village lands. The old farmer became wealthy and was very generous to the villagers. They said: “Oh how fortunate we are, you must be very happy”, to which the old farmer replied, “Maybe so? Maybe not!”  
 
Tahzoo will be seven years old later this month. It has been an unbelievable experience for me and many of you. We’ve focused on a core set of values and have been consistent in wanting to improve the quality of the customer experience. Good and bad things happen, but the consistency of our values and approach have carried us through. Earlier this week I had an important customer meeting cancel at the last moment; I was disappointed at first, but then reminded myself of the proverb. Everything happens for a reason and sometimes the real value is just obscured to me at that time. 
 
All of us get bogged down evaluating the moment. When things do not go according to plan, it’s easy to let disappointment or negative emotions take hold. For me, the moral of the story is to take the long view, enjoy the journey, and live your life by a core set of values. 
 
Tahzoo was started with values in mind. We have an aspirational goal of improving the quality of the customer experience. We are in a good place these days – the company is making great strides and I am pleased with our progress this year. Let’s try not to get too excited or too disappointed at the moment but focus on continuing to do the hard work to make Tahzoo great.  
 
Let’s go be great, 
Brad 

Fearless

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a great week, I certainly had an exhilarating one. There were some big highs this week and some real lows, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I was chatting with someone about Tahzoo and they asked me, “How do you keep going and how do you have the energy to keep pressing forward?” It gave me a moment of pause for sure, but then I simply said, “I cannot turn away from what I believe is my calling.”

The following are the lyrics to a Pink Floyd song called “Fearless”. As with most Pink Floyd songs and great poetry, the words leave a fair amount of room for interpretation. Spend some time on Google and you can draw your own conclusions.

As I’ve made big choices in my life, this song has been a grounding point for me. There is always the balance between what you are supposed to do, what is expected of you and what you actually choose to do. So as not to be too esoteric, our culture – and often our friends – don’t want to see us too far out of the mainstream or taking risks that they believe are too big or that could harm us. As well-intentioned as all of this is, what matters is doing what you believe in… and I’ll share that because I believe in what we are doing at Tahzoo so much, that more often than not, I am Fearless.

You say the hill’s too steep to climb
Climb it.
You say you’d like to see me try
Climbing.

You pick the place and I’ll choose the time
And I’ll climb
That hill in my own way.
Just wait a while for the right day.
And as I rise above the tree lines and the clouds
I look down, hearing the sound of the things you’ve said today.

Fearlessly the idiot faced the crowd
Smiling.
Merciless the magistrate turns ’round
Frowning.

And who’s the fool who wears the crown?
And go down,
in your own way
And every day is the right day
And as you rise above the fear-lines in his brow
You look down, hearing the sound of the faces in the crowd.

Let’s go be great; it’s on my website, it’s in my signature, it’s what Tahzoo is all about. You made a choice to be here. You made a choice to work at a company that aspires to do big things and change the way the world operates. We do work for some of the most influential companies in the world; you have the platform to think big and go for it. So what is it… what is that one thing that you want to do… do it, be fearless.

Let’s go be great,

Brad

Tahzoo 2017 Strategic Direction

“Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary a qualification for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write.” – H.G. Wells 

The Tahzoo 2017 Strategic Direction  

A few weeks ago, I wrote out our mission for 2017 in the Desk of Brad. I thought I’d send it out as a reminder and a pretext for our focus going forward.  

Our challenge in 2017 is to make Tahzoo a recognized leader in Experience Design and Delivery. Our results, deliverables, and service must exceed our client’s expectations. We will consistently approach our clients with new ideas about how to improve their business. We will know we are doing well because our clients will be excited about continuing to spend more money with Tahzoo. A consequence of doing these things well is that clients will pay us a premium, and this will be reflected in the financial health of the company.  

I’ve been meeting with the leadership team each week to ensure that we have alignment around our priorities and the habits necessary to ensure our success. The following are what I consider our major priorities in the first half of the year. As we closed out 2016 it became clear to me that we needed to reinvigorate our enthusiasm and enjoy a more disciplined approach to reaching our success. See these priorities as our guideposts for measuring our results.  

  • Renew the Company and Have Fun  
  • Enjoy a Sense of Accomplishment Towards our Goals  
  • Run the Company by the Numbers  
  • Alleviate Complexity  
  • Clarify Decision Making  
  • Define Ourselves as Recognized Leaders  

Digital Innovation

I spoke this week at the Digital Innovation Summit in Utrecht. It was a wonderful event with over 100 attendees, including customers, prospects, and partners. My speech focused on the experience economy and how the quality and shareability of experience is a hallmark of good marketing. In the experience economy, it’s not about how much you have but how good you have it!

There are many examples of companies like Uber and Airbnb that are not only delivering exceptional technology-enabled solutions, they are also leveraging underutilized assets in innovative ways. My charge to the marketers in the audience was that they need to focus on individualized experiences and brand interactions that can be easily shared.

On my blog www.letsgobegreat.com there is a short paper that I wrote if you’re interested in having a more detailed overview of my hypothesis. I continue to focus on more public speaking engagements, building our social network, and providing more thought leadership around the experience economy and digital marketing. We are building the marketing engine across the company with a particular emphasis on partner outreach and geographically authentic experiences.

Thanks to Jen Adamski-Torres for getting up at the crack of dawn to live tweet some sketches that linked to my speech. Check them out on Twitter if you are interested.

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.

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 

Drive for June

Team Tahzoo, 

This month’s theme is DRIVE. For me, drive is very personal. I am constantly pushing myself to learn more, do more, and excel. The folks in DC probably picked up on this when I was addressing them last Friday and shared that Tahzoo’s year-over-year growth sits at 80% and while that is superior (not many 5-year old businesses can say that) it’s not 100%. That’s my drive talking. And perhaps it’s been ingrained in me from my days at Microsoft where we had to be driven to hit our sales targets. And even outside of Sales, it was just a part of the culture. So what drives you each day? What are you hoping to achieve by working here- for yourself, professionally, for our clients and the greater good of Tahzoo? Send me an email – I’d love to hear your thoughts!