In every sporting event, there is a pivotal moment that determines the outcome of the competition. While that moment may seem a matter of luck or stoke of greatness, it is inevitably the byproduct of years of hard work. We celebrate the wins, but what we should be celebrating is the tireless effort and dedication to excellence, to perfecting our craft.
When we started Tahzoo, we had an idea that we could change the nature of the customer experience for our clients and improve in some way – maybe just a little bit – the lives of millions of people every day. It’s a lofty goal, but it has driven me and all of you at Tahzoo. We began perfecting our craft by building large scalable SDL Tridion implementations, DIRECTV was our first client, then HP.com, Norfolk Southern, then TD Bank and the list went on; we haven’t looked back and we’re still consistently winning in the enterprise. We chose SDL because it was and still is the most scalable web platform.
If the goal was to deliver personalized experiences that customers found pleasing and clients could use to change their business models, then scalability is the biggest problem to be solved. Suffice to say that when it comes to building and running the largest web platforms in the world, we are among the very best. This is no easy feat and a result of the engineering excellence and rigor that has always been a part of the core of Tahzoo.
Over the years, we’ve added additional services to take advantage of our engineering prowess. Just like finding the right combination of ingredients in a gourmet meal, through trial and error we’ve perfected our recipes. For the first time in many years, my vision for the solutions we could provide our clients has been replaced with the confidence that we can deliver a complete and world-class set of solutions to our clients. This means we have the know-how, the acumen, and the technical expertise to deliver personalized experiences at scale. In this respect, we have a healthy advantage in the marketplace. Is it easy? Do we have all the communication patterns and practices worked out? No, but we are well on the way. When we talk about ‘The Tahzoo Way’, there is enough experience and documentation for us to build just about anything.
Then it’s about the people. Do you go to work surround by really smart and happy people? I know that I do. The more time I spend with clients and each of you, the more grateful I am for the talented people we have at Tahzoo. There is certainly no shortage of passion and opinions, all of which when harnessed properly is the foundation for innovation and a great company. We have more work to do in this category; sometimes that passion is taken as an affront rather than something to be celebrated… I see this in teams frequently. One of my goals is to work with the teams and encourage ways to see the best in one another and to put the client first. Our individual differences can be resolved over time – our clients expect excellence from us in our work every day.
At Tahzoo, the quality and strength of the relationships both internally and externally are the single greatest barometer of success. If you wake up every day thinking about how to improve your relationships, then you are on the right track. Honestly, if you go to work each day and that isn’t top of mind, you should take a hard look at your contribution to Tahzoo. You may be technically or functionally excellent at Tahzoo, but that’s not enough; you need to have strength in your relationships so you can make others better. Occasionally I hear that management isn’t doing enough or that leadership is out of touch. I’d like to remind everyone that you are management, you are leadership… If you want to make changes in the company then just get started. We are not a hierarchical organization, we are a meritocracy… Go make Tahzoo great. Lead through influence and don’t be discouraged when you meet resistance. The power of your ideas and your conviction will win the day.
I constantly preach change and innovation… Often times I suggest change because I am trying to create energy and critical thinking for each of you about how to make our business better. In 2018, shake it up a bit, drive great ideas, and work with your colleagues to create the change you want to see in the company. The guideposts are as clear: follow the company values and then make sure the solution has buy-in from your colleagues and the rigor to take root within the company. We need to be clear about our measurable expected outcomes and the specifics of how we get there. As I mentioned last week, the leadership team is tackling one idea per week, I suggest you do the same. If we all put our energy towards one great idea, one great improvement per week, imagine where we’d be in a year!
At the end of 2018, what do you imagine? What do you want to see out of your experience at Tahzoo? These are important questions for each of you to consider. There is no happiness, there is no greatness by accident. If you want a happy and successful life, you need a vision for your future and the willingness to work hard to make it happen.
There are always distractions; they present themselves in subtle ways, slight detours from your goal, shiny new opportunities you hadn’t expected or the temptation to do slightly less than your best. Whenever I am confronted by these distractions, they are never clear-cut, they always appeal to some base unresolved issue that I am struggling with… in short, they seem like great opportunities and hard choices. However, as I’ve gotten older and slightly wiser, I’ve recognized the value of holding true to my vision. It’s what drives me and it’s what prevents me from making big mistakes. Take the time to have a vision for 2018, write it down, and hold on to it tightly. It will be your shield and your guiding principle through the distractions – think of it as the star you’ll sail your ship by.
Oh my gosh – being happy and successful takes hard work! There is just no way around this. There are no short cuts or easy solutions to dedicating yourself to your vision and then just doing the work. The issue is, there are always obstacles, unexpected challenges, random life changes, or newly discovered knowledge gaps, no matter what it is… it’s always resolved through hard work. There is a saying that greatness is just 5% extra effort – I think that is a crock of B.S. Greatness is doing the hard work and putting in the extra effort even when you don’t want to. As a young man, I struggled with this mightily. I procrastinated, I found excuses… usually in others. I thought I could trade natural talent for less than my best work. It wasn’t until one of my mentors pointed out to me that giving less than my best was an insult to myself and the gifts that I’ve been given. I used to think that winning was where I’d find satisfaction. I’ve come to learn that the satisfaction and happiness is in knowing that I’ve done my best. Then in those quiet moments alone, you can enjoy the peacefulness of knowing you’ve done your very best. Hard work – it’s fuel for your self-esteem, it will bring you success, but most importantly, it will bring you happiness.
If you find what I’ve written about meaningful and you’d like to talk more about these ideas and how to put them into practice, I am always available to meet you and share my perspective in more detail. We are all here to help one another and in this way, I hope to help some of you.
Let’s talk about my vision for Tahzoo in 2018.
On a personal level, I will be spending more time with each of you, in the work, and innovating on behalf of our customers. I find so much joy in selling the Tahzoo value proposition that it will be impossible to keep me away from driving new business opportunities. I will be working closely with many of you to complete the rebranding of the company and improving our go-to-market strategies. A great year for me will be measured in the amount of time I spend with employees and customers. My goal is to spend at least 75% of my time on those activities.
For the company, I have three major goals for the year. There will be many projects that deliver on the vision; but first the broad-brush strokes:
1. Making customers and employees first
2. Becoming a data-driven company
3. Re-capitalizing the company for growth
We are starting our Thrive review process next month. It’s a great time for each of you to reflect on the year that you’ve had, identify areas for growth, and set some big goals for 2018. Be bold and ambitious in your goal setting. There is nothing that you can’t achieve in 2018 with some vision and hard work. You have the vision for 2018, now it’s time to translate that into your goals and how you expect to improve and operate more effectively this year. It will take all of us working together in a concerted way to achieve our goals – I am confident that we have the right people married with great customers and market momentum to make our collective and individual aspirations come true.
Happy New Year – let’s go be great!