I was interviewed last week by Jennifer Sherman who runs a video blog called The Influencer Collective Show. I’ve included a link to the interview. Please take a moment to watch it in its entirety here.
The interview is a discussion of what it means to be an influencer, my philosophy about the Tahzoo corporate culture, and how it takes its shape. I would love to hear from you about what you think makes someone an influencer, our culture, or any other commentary you’d like to share.
Let’s go be great!
This is the first of a two-part letter about Tahzoo and our plan forward. I see the next six months as a pivotal time for Tahzoo and for each of you. We have a lot of opportunity to grow and be profitable, however that is dependent on how well we execute. We are a team; everyone has a role to play contributing to the success of Tahzoo. We talk often about how we are smart and happy people who are passionate about improving the quality of the customer experience for our clients. Those traits need to shine bright in the coming months for us to achieve our goals.
A strong, healthy, growing business creates opportunities for Tahzoo. It will allow us to expand into new practice areas and start adjacent businesses. The market is ripe for disruption, a new way of doing business and we are in the enviable position of leading the change in the marketplace. We are only limited by our ambition and our ability to work together as a team. Growth will provide career opportunities and financial rewards for each of you.
A golf tournament takes place over four days and 72 holes. The third day is called moving day. With only 36 holes left to play if you’re not one of the leaders by the end of the third day, you’re not going to win the event. Unless the tournament is a Tiger Woods style blow out, about 10 or so strokes separate the contenders from the leaders. If you don’t play well on moving day, you run out of time and you cannot make up enough strokes to win.
My swim coach Mike Troy used to say something similar “all races are won or lost in the third lap”. His point was that everyone has extra adrenaline as they finish a race but in the third lap you can make up ground or extend your lead. All his emphasis for conditioning and race strategy was focused on being at your strongest in the 3rd leg of the race.
With July just around the corner, Tahzoo is about to enter the third leg of the race or in golf parlance, Q3 is our moving day. Given the circumstances we have had a decent first two quarters, not great but we’ve set the stage for real growth and success for the remainder of the year. As I mentioned at the beginning, it’s all going to come down to execution over the next three months.
We have some ambitious plans to address the needs of the market. We are going to expand into three areas: growing our consulting business, launching our software business, and launching our Zoodio business.
Our market opportunity –
The pandemic has changed everything. Our value proposition is more in demand today than it’s ever been. Improving the quality of the customer and employee experience is being mandated by every CEO and Board of Directors within the Global 1000 companies. The sudden shift in consumer and business-to-business behavior is threatening the empires that our clients have built. For example, one of our clients were happy to have Amazon and big box retailers manage sales distribution of their products into the US markets. A marriage of convivence, that’s not looking like a good strategy these days as big box retailers are going out of business and Amazon is increasing their cut on every transaction. Left unchecked, their margins will be eroded and the connection between their customers and the brand will be diminished. While this may not be an immediate problem, over time this is how business fail. They lose touch with their customers and a cheaper or more efficient competitor takes away revenue and profit. There are so many examples of companies not responding quickly enough only to see their empires crumble. We create experiences that just work and drive increases in revenue and customer loyalty.
Our business-to-business clients need to educate their customers, so they can win the hearts and minds of potential customers. They typically have large sales forces and distribution models that are predicated on human-to-human interaction. Well as we all know, it will be a long time before the number of conferences, seminars and in-person sales meetings, get back to pre-pandemic levels. Our clients need to be excellent at sequencing content to prospects in a way that accelerates the sales process. A one-size-fits model doesn’t work, if your goals is to persuade all of your customers. Let’s take BCG for example, how do they communicate their thought leadership and eminence in a way that drives engagement and ultimately sales? It’s going to be through providing experiences that are tailored to the unique business needs of each potential client. We help our clients drive engagement which drive revenue and repeat business.
Often overlooked, but just as important – empires are built and managed on operational efficiencies. COVID broke many of the systems for how information is communicated within a company. We are fortunate to have digitally savvy employees who can easily navigate content systems to collaborate and find the information that they need. Most companies do not have this expertise embedded within their workforce. They are primarily built on specialization and more specifically, specialization within a domain of knowledge. Let’s take our client Deloitte, they are trained accountants and auditors who use technology, but technology is not their core competency, it’s accounting. When you’re not all in an office together, how do you share knowledge efficiently? We are much better at asking questions than we are at writing search queries. Deloitte has 80K auditors globally, that is a huge number of people who need the right information at the right time and in the context of the task they are performing. They can’t just walk down the hall and ask a more senior person a question about an accounting regulation. These are huge problems that all of our clients need to solve. Improving the operational efficiency of your staff by 10% is worth tens or hundreds of millions of dollars of additional profit each year. What do we do for a living … we help our clients get the right information in a contextually appropriate way, we drive additional profit.
To put a fine point on my examples, we help our clients, grow, be more profitable and build loyalty by providing experiences that make millions of people a little happier every day. We could not be in a better position to meet the demands of the market. Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time, that is Tahzoo.
Next week I am going to dive into each of the three businesses, our goals for the next six months, and how we will drive synergy and growth for Tahzoo. These are exciting times for us and I want each of you to remember that in business there are windows of opportunity that come along every now and then, the winners are not the ones that can see the opportunities, they are the ones who can execute against the opportunity.
I’ll leave you with my all-time favorite quote by William Shakespeare – From Julius Cesar:
“There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.”
Let’s go be great!
We launched a new Tahzoo.com today… Yeah!!! Not a full site redesign – we made updates and changes to give our brand a new look and feel. Please visit the site this weekend and if you see something that needs attention, please pass your observations along to Eddie.
Coming out of COVID we have had some good new account wins, but not nearly enough. Between the natural completion of existing projects and some quality and customer satisfaction issues, we are not growing our existing accounts as expected. We are also not winning enough new accounts to fill in the gaps and accelerate our growth. We should be seeing growth numbers in the 30% to 40% range for the year.
A couple observations that I’d like to share:
We have improved our case studies, we’re launching a new site, and we have several outbound direct marketing campaigns in progress. While I expect that we’ll continue to improve and attenuate our outbound marketing, that will never be a substitute for thoughtful and meaningful conversations with our clients, their personal goals and projects down the road, are a simple and easy way to find new opportunities for Tahzoo.
We don’t need everyone in the company to become business development experts, far from it. What we need is for each of you to feel comfortable talking with your clients about how we might be able to help. Ask about their martech stack, what is working well, and where they are missing their numbers. If you sense an opportunity, just drop a note to Darrell or your Experience manager.
The power of our company is that we are a boutique firm that offers many if not all of the services of others, we are just better and are less expensive than our competitors. We play on the A basketball court; we really are the best at what we do and I would take Tahzoo over our competitors any day of the week. We are not only a great shop, we are able to change our engagement model to fit our clients’ culture. Take a look at our new case studies and our client roster on the website.
If you have a complex customer experience challenge and you need a firm to help to drive change and deliver on a vision, then we’re the team for you. So get out there and ask a few questions the next time you have a moment with your client.
Let’s go be great!
Happy Memorial Day weekend! I want to take a moment to remember our fallen soldiers and give sincere gratitude to families who have sacrificed so much for this country and our freedoms. We owe all of them a tremendous debt. I hope that this weekend is a reminder to all of us that brave men and women have given their lives for our independence. The Bill of Rights and our unalienable right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness applies to all Americans. Although we have many differences of opinion in our country, we should have no disagreement about the need to protect our constitutional rights.
I’ll leave you with this though that keeps ruminating for me and what I’ve been talking to my children about lately… If our constitutional rights do not apply for every single American citizen, regardless of their race, color, creed, gender, religion or sexual orientation… for every single American, they are not constitutional rights, they are privileges. Equality under the law is an unyielding term of art; equality does not provide for other than or different. If we agree that we all have equal protection under the law, all Americans are entitled to these rights.
Let’s go be great!
Cheerful Leadership, Cheerful Coaching, and Cheerful Problem Solving
Over the last few months, I’ve been observing patterns of behavior related to customer and personnel challenges within our business. When things aren’t going right big and small, we need to communicate with one another, problem solve, and occasionally provide constructive criticism to those involved, so that we prevent the problem from happening again.
The cycle of problem awareness, collaboration, problem solving, and constructive criticism is a normal pattern of communication in every company.
I’d like us to do a better job of this at Tahzoo. We all grew up with a different family communication dynamic and we bring our experience from working at other companies to our work at Tahzoo. It feels like we are in fire drill mode a lot at Tahzoo. Under stress, all of us – including me, struggle to maintain emotional balance. Over time the constant fire drills wear us out.
I was watching an old Steven Segal movie with my son, Under Siege… don’t judge me, 13-year old’s love movies with Battleships. In the seminal moment of confrontation between the good guy and the bad guy (Tommy Lee Jones), he has a line of dialogue which I thought was brilliant, so much so, that I recorded the moment on my cell phone so I could write this Desk of Brad.
Tommy Lee Jones “I got tired of coming up with last minute desperate solutions to impossible problems created by other (%^&#) people”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDaBg56pU2k if you want to watch the whole scene. He’s so mad, he wants to blow up the world with nuclear missiles. Can you relate to his quote? Ever felt that way at Tahzoo?
I’ve observed three patterns of communication that I’d like to replace with Cheerful Leadership, Cheerful Coaching, and Cheerful Problem Solving.
- Getting angry with someone
- Blaming other people for creating the problem
- Ignoring the problem
We say all the time we are Smart and Happy People. We specifically hire for this so we can reduce the amount of friction in our company.
The Tahzoo Brand Promise
We are smart, happy people passionate about personalizing the relationships between our clients and their customers. You will enjoy working with us. We will enjoy working with you. Together, we will do great things.
We will never be able to deliver on The Tahzoo Brand Promise if we are not practicing good communication habits. For the good of Tahzoo, our clients, and each of you, let’s work on being cheerful. We will never get rid of all of the challenges in our business, but we can always be certain to always to be cheerful and kind to each other.
One more thing…
Tahzoo is hosting a Photography Contest for the Tahzoo.com Case Study Page. Those who would like to enter may select one of our previous or current clients in their area and submit one (or multiple) photos for consideration. The winner will be selected one month from now. The person with the best photo will be featured on the Case Study Page and will win a Starbucks gift card! Monika will post this on the “Creative Corner” of the All Tahzoo Teams channel and those interested may submit photos there. Any questions surrounding this, please reach out to Monika.
Let’s go be great!
It’s Friday … Yeah!!! It’s been a super busy week for me and I’m sure all of you. I was thrilled to read about the new CDC guidelines. While our Covid journey is not over, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate this important milestone. We are working on opening our offices and will have some formal communication out to all of you in the next week or so. I am looking forward to seeing all of you in person and not just on a Teams call!
“Kill the monster while it’s little” – Tony Robbins. It’s one of my favorite quotes from the Hour of Power show. If you’re ever in need of some inspiration and motivation, the Hour of Power is a great way to start your day. What I love about this quote is that it’s a great reminder that problems don’t get better with time. In fact, they grow and become even more complicated, emotionally draining, and disabling with the passage of time.
I want our company to be better at attacking issues early and resolving them quickly. We have a culture of Smart and Happy people so that we can work collaboratively for our clients. If you see something that needs to be fixed or something that is not going right, then say something. We provide custom consulting to Fortune 500 clients. That means every engagement is different and there will always be unknowns and unexpected complications in every project. A problem for one of us is a problem for all of us.
As Tony was trying to point out, it’s so much easier to resolve issues when you tackle them early.
I’ll keep the DOB short today. Have a great weekend… relax and rest!
Let’s go be great!
To all Moms here at Tahzoo, Happy Mother’s Day! Being a Mother is undoubtedly one of the most demanding and challenging jobs in the world and I can sincerely say, I respect and appreciate everything that Moms do to make their kids happy and healthy. Before I had kids, I didn’t fully understand the mental load that women carry as Mothers; it’s the doctors and dentist appointments, the little details about children’s personalities and preferences, and the hundreds (if not thousands) of things that go into caring for a child. So, here’s to you, ladies. You are awesome.
One of the unexpected delights of founding Tahzoo has been seeing so many families grow. All the marriages and new babies over the years has been a wonderful part of my experience at Tahzoo. I can’t begin to explain the joy of seeing people like Piti, Dara, Laura, Travis, Matt, Gabi, Emil, Kseniia, and so many others become parents and develop a whole new set of talents.
Life is all about perspective and being a parent has certainly changed my viewpoint about the world. What do I care about, what do I want to change, what do I want to ensure my kids know about life and the world around them? My perspective about Moms also changed when I became a parent, in short – you are some bad ass individuals! I hope you all get a day of pampering, relaxation, family experiences or anything else that brings you joy. Also, and this is for everyone, make sure you call, text or see your Mom if you can… She brought you into the world and we’re all grateful that you’re here!
Let’s go be great!
I was watching my latest Netflix show last night and there was a scene between a Mother and her Daughter about how everyone makes mistakes. The mother dramatically said, “I’ve made soooo many mistakes in my life.” That spawned another internal dialogue for me about the mistakes that I’ve made in my life and especially as the leader of Tahzoo.
Have you ever said something embarrassing and then replayed the scene in your mind over and over again? That’s what mistakes are like for me, I just can’t quite keep them out of my head. It can be a simple miscue in a meeting, a blunder in chess or strategic decision at work. This cycle internal dialogue has plagued me most of my life. An old mentor of mine helped to channel this energy in a positive direction which I’ve been using ever since.
The advice that I was given was rather than replay this situation over and over again, think through what I could have or should have done differently. Consider what I expect to happen vs what actually happened and lastly, what I would do differently next time. His point was that learning comes from mistakes not from successes. There is a great Bill Gates quote, “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” This awareness has allowed me to channel all that mental energy and at times anxiety into a process for improving my self-esteem.
We need to treasure our mistakes as opportunities for learning. The key to success as my mentor said was not making the same mistake twice. I’ll leave you with a quote he frequently shared with me … “Success does not consist in never making mistakes, but in never making the same one a second time.” George Bernard Shaw
Let’s go be great!
As humans in the very early stages of our cognitive development (as early as two years old), we begin to recognize right from wrong. As we mature through our adolescence, we develop an understanding of morality, a moral compass. What is moral and immoral and how we are expected to respond or act in the presence of immorality.
The policing practices of African Americans and people of color in America is not just wrong – it’s immoral. If not from a sense of personal compassion for your fellow human beings, then as a citizen with an obligation to ensure that there is equal justice under the law, each of us must take action to rectify this situation. Racism has no place in our country, and it has no place at Tahzoo. We are an example of a racially diverse and successful company, but that doesn’t just happen by accident, it is by design, we will talk more about that in a minute.
Lawless and racially based policing has gone unchecked for far too long. I am proud to be an American and I am ashamed of how we have failed to ensure equal justice under the law. President Reagan once said, “America is a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere”. We are in a unique position to promote democracy and human rights around the world but how are we doing at home? We cannot hold ourselves up with high regard for the noble values and purpose of our country, while as citizens, we allow systemic prejudice and bigotry to continue unchecked.
I was living in Los Angles during the Rodney King riots; it was absolutely tragic and terrifying. When the riots started, I hiked up to the top of the Hollywood Hills so I could have a better view of the city. I’ve never seen that many fires in my entire life. It was apocalyptic and surreal. The National Guard was called in and the city spent several days under a curfew. I remember watching the video of multiple police officers beating Rodney King while he was on the ground. It was shocking, heart wrenching, and disgusting. Four police officers were charged with assault and excessive force, all four were acquitted despite overwhelming video evidence of their guilt. Eventually, the four officers were tried in Federal court for violating Rodney King’s civil rights, two were convicted and given modest sentences. It was in every respect, a total miscarriage of justice and as it turns out not an isolated incident. This had a lasting impact on me about the rule of law and racism.
With the advent of cell phones, now we are seeing on camera what so many African Americans have been experiencing for decades. Were it not for the presence of mind and courage of Darnella Frazier (a 17-year-old girl who recorded the murder of George Floyd), Derek Chauvin would not have been convicted. His death would have been remembered as it was at first officially recorded by the police department; “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction.” Imagine that? … The injustice and outright misrepresentation of the truth by police officers who are sworn to uphold the rule of law. Although Chauvin was rightly convicted of murder, George Floyd lost his life. Not a total miscarriage of justice but what about all the officers who stood by and watched the murder of a man who they are sworn to protect. This was not an isolated incident.
How can we call ourselves the land of the free and the brave when these crimes continue unchecked? It is hard to keep track of all the killings and injustices perpetrated on African Americans just in the last year. With story after story on the news, we cannot allow this to desensitize us nor let it become the new normal. We must act. It’s not someone else’s problem. I call upon each of you to search your heart and commit yourself to responsibly affecting change in your community and in our country. If not out of sense of personal compassion, then for the sake of the country, as written across the entrance to the Supreme Court of the United States of America, “Equal Justice Under the Law”. Do what you think is right and what is necessary, each of us should be exercising our constitutionally protected rights. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best, “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”
There are concepts in the law like Qualified immunity, no-knock warrants, rules about the use of force, and the role of policing in America. We’ve mixed up our policing function with our taxing function. Police departments should not be profit centers for state and local governments. Our elected representatives aren’t being transparent about how they are raising funds to support the government through ticketing and civil asset forfeiture. Do you know that in many states, the government can seize your assets if the police assert that they were used in or acquired as part of a crime? Seems reasonable at first glance, however you need not be convicted of a crime for the police to seize your assets, the mere assertion is all that is required. That does not sound like the 4th Amendment protections to me.
Should a simple traffic violation be a crime or an infraction? Since when is not having an observable license plate on a car a reason for a police officer to make a stop with his gun drawn? Read up on US Army Second Lt. Nazario’s encounter with the police in Windsor VA. I read the 58-page lawsuit against the two police officers filed in US District Court. There is a video of the incident, the behavior of both police officers is absolutely appalling. It made me proud of our armed forces after seeing the courage, poise, and discipline of an Army officer under untenable circumstances.
Reforming policing in America and addressing the problem of systemic racism will be challenging. There are many ideas and approaches that need to be researched and understood so that we can influence our elected officials properly. Peaceful protests and good legislation are going to matter if we are to make substantive changes to rid our country of this scourge.
Switching gears for a moment, as the founder of Tahzoo, I want each of you to understand what I expect of us as an industry-leading company. I believe that everyone is created equal and the each of us has an “unalienable right” to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” … full stop. There is no place for racism or discrimination of any kind at Tahzoo. If you have agreed to work at Tahzoo then you’ve also agreed to participating and promoting a diverse culture.
As the leader of Tahzoo or with liberties, as the Shepard of my flock, I take my obligations to each of you and our company seriously. I am so grateful for my life, the opportunities that have been afforded to me, to the mentors who have taken a profound interest in my success and the blessing of a loving family. I want to “pay it forward”. Our mission is to make millions of people a little happier every day, it’s one of the ways that we can pay our good fortune forward. We can do this through great work for our clients and set an example of how a 21st century company can not only be financially successful but also socially and culturally impactful. Each of you, every day, plays a critical role in achieving our shared vision.
As I mentioned earlier, we are diverse by design. When conceiving Tahzoo, I was concerned with the artifacts and structures that would ensure our lasting success. I started with our core values because without guiding principles we might as well be walking blindfolded through a forest. We send out the Voice Of The Culture Survey every week, so that everyone in the company has a forum to voice their thoughts and ideas. It’s only through a consistent and rich exchange of opinions and ideas that a culture can thrive. Most of our recognitions and rewards come through peer evaluations, the kudos alias or the Tahzoo annual awards. You might be able to fool a few people, but you cannot fool an entire company if you’re not committed to our values. On an almost weekly basis, I review and discuss with Gabi and other senior leaders within Tahzoo how to ensure that Tahzoo is diverse. Not just in terms of race, but also gender, sexual orientation, and intellectual acumen. These are my work habits that promote vigilance and focus my attention.
With our values as the foundation of Tahzoo and related to this topic, there are three that immediately come to mind.
If you care about you customers and you care about your employees, you’ll have a company worth caring about We hire for character before we hire for capability We believe in the marketplace of ideas.
Within each of these values is an expectation of you, how you will conduct yourself and your obligation to the greater good of Tahzoo.
If you care for someone, you help them become the best versions of themselves. If you have strong character, you act openly and honestly. If you believe in the marketplace of ideas, then you humbly embrace someone else’s genius.
It would be impossible to truly live up to these values and harbor racism or a less than opinion of your fellow colleagues. Being a values and mission driven company is wired into Tahzoo. Are we perfect, no! Can we do more to get better, yes! … and we will. Tahzoo is my life’s work, I am not done, and neither are you.
This is a long DOB and you may wonder why I am wading into these subjects. Frankly it’s because I am concerned over our shared future. We have got to pull together and focus on holding ourselves to a higher standard of involvement and accountability. I am admonishing each of you to recognize and embrace your responsibility as an individual, as an employee of Tahzoo and as a citizen of the United States of America. We can do better. As I conclude this letter, I am reminded of a quote from Edmund Burke – “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Let’s go be great!
Thank you for chatting with me today regarding market conditions and opportunity for Tahzoo. We are in an enviable position given our clients and the types of projects we’ve completed. Every Fortune 500 company needs a direct relationship with their customers. We are founded on the idea that personalized and contextually relevant experiences will help businesses grow and prosper. For Tahzoo, our mission is to make millions of people a little bit happier every day. We are the right company at the right time in history to make a big difference in the world.
This will be a growth year for Tahzoo. Growth will mean change and opportunity for each of you to progress in your careers. What sounds good to you? What skills or jobs would you like to have? Anyone interested in my job? I was at Nordstrom during its glory days – the company was growing rapidly; we were opening stores frequently. I decided I wanted to be part of the new store opening team, travel to new cities, hire new employees, and train them in the Nordstrom way. I opened 14 stores and learned so much, what a great experience it was for me. Foundational in career and an important step in building my career confidence.
As Tahzoo grows, what do you imagine is a good next step for you? Does your manager know your goals and are you working as a team to achieve those goals? I created Tahzoo so that each of us would have an opportunity to learn and grow. We are making significant investments in the Elevate and Accelerate program. Dori’s presentation on SMART goal setting is an important step for each of you to embrace as you plan out your career. Think about where you’d like to be in a year and then three years. Write it down and share it with your manager.
As always, I am happy to talk with you about career progression and share my experiences. I am on my third career; it’s been a great run. Many mistakes, many victories, and mostly many lessons learned. I look forward to hearing from you as you consider your next steps.
Let’s go be great!
I’ve spent much of the last year writing to you about change, I’d like to touch on where we are headed.
Every company evolves over time. We started out as an SDL Tridion Sites shop and grew from there into other aspects of the enterprise marketing platform. We have always “pitched” personalization as a core value proposition, although at times, we’ve struggled to deliver on that promise. Nonetheless, the core principle that personalized experiences will be a competitive advantage for our clients, is as true today as it was when we started Tahzoo.
In a post Covid world, Fortune 500 companies that engage their customers in a consistent, thoughtful, and personalized way will gain a lasting competitive advantage. You may think that Amazon has an insurmountable lead in the consumer goods market, however their lead is not based on a great experience, it’s based on logistics. It is the example of a one size fits all experience that panders to the lowest common denominator.
In the crowded consumer goods market, the question for the Brands is how can they market and sell their product, with Amazon as the intermediary? This is a real problem for most Brands and many of our clients. It’s not like they can just run more TV ads to break through to the customer. My prediction is that most of these Brands will move to a direct-to-consumer strategy; they will cut out the middleman which will drive additional profit but most important, they will be able to create experiences that are consistent and personalized.
We need to up our E-Commerce game, not just on the technology side but also the strategy side. If we can be the firm that brings the technology prowess to launch global commerce solutions and be the experts in user experience design, we will have a lot of opportunity in the coming years. Take all of that and embed structured content so that the post purchase consumer experience is also personalized, then Tahzoo will drive the marketing trifecta: Attracting customers, Converting customers, and Retaining customers. We need 5% market share in the Fortune 500, just 25 clients to achieve our goals. We have the market opportunity, the know-how, and a fantastic company full of smart and happy people. 2021 will be a breakout year for Tahzoo, a year of change.
Let’s go be great!