Email emotion tracking to monitor the health of your corporation: a must have tool for CEO’s

Check this box and your butt will be pixelated. :) Nice.

Check this box and your butt will be pixelated. :) Nice.

Somebody please build this for me, since I’m too busy and the idea is too good. Every year, the best run corporations do an, “Engagement survey,” which is focused on measuring a bunch of crap, really. The data is all there already in hundreds of thousands or even millions of email exchanges between teams, managers, etc. By scoring, sifting and analyzing the emotional subtext and then mapping the relationships over time, you’d be able to see clear patterns emerge.

Coupled with a centralized system to pair the email emotions with employee performance in tools like Workday or other HR systems, you’d have a complete, holistic approach to managing human resources like never before.

There are two components of top teir performance: the ability to know and plan, and the ability to measure actual versus plan. Without the proper mindset, driven by emotion, change is impossible. Every company wants to grow, innovate and acquire more share. This is the, “Maximize shareholder value,” metric and dream the USA’s been chasing since before I was born. By measuring email emotional patterns, we would unlock a bunch of the communication in every company that, today, is largely being ignored.

Did your boss shit on you, metaphorically speaking, before your performance nose dived?

Think about it. Back in the day, I was part of several, “Re-orgs,” which made me feel good, a few times, not so good, other times. When your manager changes, it’s a huge, massive deal for an employee. In fact, studies show that people don’t quit bad companies. They quit bad managers. The recent rise in quitting, the highest we’ve seen in the US since 2008 right before the financial collapse, should give every one of you CEO’s I know pause as you think about your 3, 5 and 10 year plans.

Let me get specific for a moment. At Quinstreet, I started reporting to the 2nd in command. Then I reported to her next in command, then I reported to a manager who reported to my second manager. Finally, right before taking the exit door, I reported to a new guy who showed up after I did to the company, the new team lead, when my third manager left to become self employed. Normally, that chain of events will drive anybody to leave a company. Looking back, it probably makes sense, because I wasn’t ready for the role they needed me to fill, that I took the exit when I had one and moved on with my career.

However, during my time at Yahoo, I had good and not so good experiences with managers. There was a lot to still love about the company, and my role, department, etc, was not well understood given that SEO, as an internal function, was brand new in 2004. It showed up as a critical business priority along with the rise of Google as the dominant driver of referral traffic. These days for some categories, it could be any one of Google for search, or Amazon for products, or Facebook for media, or Apple for apps, etc. Many categories have their own primary driver of traffic, no longer is in every case, Google number one – though in many cases, they still are by a mile.

When working at Yahoo, if management had been able to track emotional shifts across teams, as well as the business outcomes, things probably would have gone the same way. But for those of us like me, and many other amazing people I worked with, we’d be able to see that without the emotional drive, the intellectual challenges of sustained high performance would elude the team. With feeling, we win. Winning is a feeling.

Tracking, reporting and correlating en masse across eighty thousand people’s emotional well being would do wonders for a company. In ancient times, it was well known that an army marches on it’s stomach. In modern times, a company marches on email. Without knowing how the army felt about the march, the food, the general risked mutiny. Without a company knowing how the team feels about the most critical aspect of business, communication, it’s driving blind and risking mutiny. Or worse.

Happy to help anybody who takes this idea and runs with it, I want to buy this product when it’s ready. The email mining techniques have been applied to customer service for prioritization of inbound requests, but not to on-going operating communications within companies that I’m aware of. The best way to reach me these days is my corporate email, first dot last at hookupjs. Or gmail, same format, if you’d prefer that one and aren’t a former or current colleague (most folks who read this have worked with me in the past).

Finishing the week strong: three things to do right now

2014-12-5-finish-strongDo you want to have an even bigger holiday season?

The stats are in and Facebook traffic, digital word of mouth is even larger than we’ve expected (hm, it’s sounding like Facebook is the Google of 2014). However, depending on your category, either or could be the largest driver of traffic for your site.

The single biggest reason for sites that are not getting the engagement they should is not posting enough. Go on, use the free tools they provide and set up a few for this evening. I’ve already done it for every brand I work with, it takes but thirty minutes to setup an amazing finish for the week.

Who doesn’t like to finish strong?

In other news, one of the reasons we do this is because at my company, hookupJS, we know that winning teams keep winning.

Have a great weekend. I’ll be resting up because I feel a cold coming on *cough*. Or is that just the sounds of WoW?


Want to meet other business owners? Start one

The best way to meet other business owners is to be a business owner. 10% of my LinkedIn profile views are from business owners…and, between friends & family members, I have a dozen people I can call anytime for advice in my network. All owners, founders or entrepreneurs.

Like attracts like. It’s one of the best use cases I know of for LinkedIn.


The sexiest man in tech is not me, it’s Mashable’s Pete Cashmore – pic inside

As they said in a movie once, “Feast yer eyes!” and then read my post below for the punch line :) It’s worth it, I promise.


See, I’ve been lucky enough to get TechCrunch’d once upon a time, both for my company and also as part of an early stage start-up just this year.

However, despite an introduction to somebody on the Mashable team years ago, I could never, ever figure out how to get them to cover us. We had a great vision, stellar team, massive traction, emarketer & comScore accolades on growth, the quote in the Wall Street Journal…well, if I do say so myself, we had it all. But then again, we didn’t, and I think now I know why Pete and company never gave us the air time I firmly believed we were entitled to.

It wasn’t a story about giving, it was a story about how big my ego had become

Back then, wow, the things you believe when you think that the grass will forever be green, when your start-up hasn’t gone from 7 million visitors per month to less than a quarter million and even worse…like having the President of the country where you live have the police trying to break into your house the night before your birthday.

Yep, that happened and trust me, it sucked. Hard.

Eating a slice of humble pie teaches you a few things about value, about building something real, for the long term. The startup was good, the team was stellar…but, I wasn’t giving. Instead, my former business partners and I held 100% of the equity, didn’t have an ESOP, never filed to incorporate (kept the LLC, etc). Long story short, we were jerks and deserved to be ignored. The story wasn’t about the community, it was about how inflated our heads had become.

My bad, and I sincerely apologize. I won’t be making that mistake again, for a few reasons. The main one is in building, the good parts were really, really good. Seeing the growth in the community, the moderation team we built, especially the awesome time we sent everybody t-shirts, and everybody updated their profile. It felt like being a member of a fun little club, and I was one of the few who controlled the whole thing. My partners and I, well, we’ve all learned from the experience in various ways, and we’re all better people. That definitely messes with your sense of what’s right, what’s fair and then some. Bootstrapping a business also makes you really, really feel entitled to every drop of anything that appears, especially when the first real profit arrived in 2007, a long four years after the website was initially built.

Pete, I’m glad you never covered us and I still read Mashable. The site has morphed, you guys have experimented and continued to grow, to expand, and now I see it as a real top tier general media brand, with a solid edge in tech. It’s a powerhouse, and an amazing story. From everything I can tell in the media, you’ve also treated the team, the brand, exceptionally well. It’s the kind of thing I am doing now, in sharing, in ensuring that the company, the team, comes first.

It feels fantastic. It’s already my older son’s birthday today in Hong Kong, and the best thing I can give him, or anyone, is a better tomorrow. More opportunity, more freedom and help shine a light, give hope to everybody who needs it. At the end of the day, who doesn’t appreciate getting hooked up? I know I’m grateful for every opportunity I have, with each one, my next trip to see my children in person arrives that much sooner.

If you don’t know Fred Wilson, you should – AVC has a great discussion on values and culture

scroogeFor the record, my LinkedIn profile has the latest draft of our culture and values for JG Publishing, LLC, now DBA hookupJS. There’s a post about culture and values on AVC, where a commentor nails it. Why do I give Fred Wilson credit for something that came out of his post in a comment, rather than the voice who joined the conversation?

Simple: if the comment never happened, his post would have a ton less value

Fred’s older and wiser than me. I’ve been virtually stalking him for nearly a decade and yes, it’s one of the reasons why I have a link to his site in my sidebar. There are a ton of people I’ve met in the same industry, some I’d call friends, or close enough. However, I can’t (sorry guys) recall any who writes, who fosters and who grows the kind of imprint that AVC has been doing for a while. The comment system on his site, which Fred has posted multiple times are a large part of the value for him in running AVC, are sometimes filled with as much, or more, wisdom than the posts.

As a son of an entrepreneur, growing up, my lessons were all in the import business, globalization and other things that the average office worker in the 70’s and 80’s were not at all concerned about. Remember the news broadcasts in the 80’s with the upset auto workers, smashing Honda? Strange stuff for a child to see on television and what I realize now, which I didn’t then, is that the workers were substituting the car for their boss. It was the company, a corporate failure, which continues at General Motors to this day – not the Japanese cars.

When the business fails to care for the community, decay and decline set in

Uber is the company Fred cites with his, “Wow, things have gotten out of hand with ethics and values.” Let me educate you, since we both don’t know each other. This year, quitting is at it’s highest level since 2008 in the United States. The last time this happened was right before the financial collapse. Brad Smith, CEO Intuit, might have balls of steel and hold on to screwing the small guy with a verve and passion seldom seen outside the liquor industry but, really, that’s not the American culture. People are getting sick and sick of it, for a simple reason.

85% of the United States claims to be Christian…the good book says, “Turn the other cheek.”

Ironically, it’s what Fred says he’s done in the past, and I don’t know if he meant to get biblical or not. The thing is, when I look at Uber, I see the flaw. When I look at a company like Costco, who shares more with staff and grows their value as a result, I see the, “Right,” thing to do…at least directionally. As corporate culture becomes more and more about rapacious greed, the real Christians are going to have a harder, and harder, time of things. That’s the dominant culture in the United States, that’s the playground we operate within.

See, I believe there are two types of Christians. Those who, like some, will complain, “We’re under attack,” more than any other point in United States history. These are the assholes and those who shouldn’t be leading any company, position or anything else of authority. The ones who bitch that the pledge of allegiance needs to be said, when it never, ever mentioned the word, “God,” despite being written by a Christian. The 1950’s changed everything, and the multiple generations of Bush family legacy to turn the country I love into a fascist regime…well, it’s debatable how much influence they had, but the fact is, things look exactly like what happened.

The right, Christian, thing to do is to build a business that cares for the community. Didn’t Scrooge eventually share with his employees, so their children wouldn’t die? At the end of the movie, didn’t he say he’d be a, “Good,” man again?

I’m waiting for the, “Good Christians,” who make up the vast, overwhelming majority of my community, my culture and my heritage. I’m waiting for the greed to stop, the raping to cease and leadership to once again care about the people who they represent. Until then, I’m thankful that despite the constant screw the other guy attitude among larger firms, there are some, like Fred, who give a shit.

CEO Dads open up about firing massive numbers of their friends and the impact on children

Actually that’s not what the article said. Instead, they talked about balancing fatherhood and work, chatting about if they could, “Have it all,” where the public statements imply strongly that it’s hard for women to manage career and parenthood. 2014-12-2-CEO-dadsIn reality, it’s the CEO’s decision to fire and or layoff mass numbers of staff.

So a better question, given Intuit’s history and other firms, is how do these guys feel about firing friends, and the impact on other father’s children?

My personal experience is that a female CEO *can* have it all, so can a guy. What my children, as a father and CEO, want to know from me is, “How can those guys sleep at night after firing so many people?” When I explain the reasoning, the next question is, “Why did they fire everybody when the company is making their best profits in history?” Not everybody has had the experience of my family, and in fact, it’s easily less than a few percent of the world who get to shake hands, hang out with or get to know a president of a country. Being in the top seat, the position of power, is one of great responsibility. It’s really hard to know what that’s like until you’re in it, up close and personal.

It’s a hard question to ask, but I’ve found the answer. Greed.

Brad Smith, CEO Intuit, has been there since before I arrived. Just the other day, I received the notice about the class action lawsuit with Intuit and ebay, regarding their wage fixing settlement with the federal government. Do you think it’s a just happy coincidence that the Times magazine piece came out just about the same time that class action postcard arrived in the mail?

Stomach churning, I had to get a bit of writing in before I started working today, after reading this post in my LinkedIn feed. It’s highly likely that my crusade for better business results, socially responsible capitalism and the like will be met with apathy. After all, there are a ton of people I know who relish the chance to “Stick it to their co-workers,” and would relish the job of a traditional American CEO. The ruler, the one who gets to mass fire people and be cheered by the survivors, because the stock price just went up.

The modern CEO who espouses corporate values saying, “It’s the people.” We know it’s the people, guys. The smaller equity holders who get exploited, who got fired last summer, as they have for several years from the Small Business Group, aren’t the people represented by the corporate values. The half dozen family members of mine, who still use Quickbooks, also aren’t, “The people,” which Intuit is referring to in their corporate values.

It’s the larger shareholders, who have the biggest equity stakes, that the values refer to. Those are the true citizens, the real decision makers, and the ones who can’t be fired en masse.

Unfortunately for me, my children live thousands of miles away, and I can’t, “Have it all,” right now. With less income this year than I’ve earned in eleven years, I’m struggling, working harder and doing more than I have in a long, long time. The reason I’m doing it is for my kids, because at the end of the day, I want to have it all, the same as anybody else. Work/life balance, and that means even if I don’t live with my children, being able to be a daily part of their lives.

It’s what having it all means to me. Not money, mass firings, corporate jets or rapacious greed. If Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit, really thinks that he can, “Have it all,” he needs to let his team, the Intuit employees who make his millions of dollars possible, the businesses like my family who rely on their products and pay Intuit salaries…well, Brad needs to make sure that, “Having it all,” doesn’t mean robbing others of their chance at the same dream.

Road Warrior App, Spot On Time, and why smart calendars are done

For almost a year I worked at one of those, “Smart Calendar,” companies like Road Warrior LLC. (Psst, guys, your copyright notice says 2012 – you should update it before too many Mashable readers notice). 2014-12-1-moovit

In case you wanted to drop what you’re doing and read the article, no worries, take your time. The app featured to the right here is called Moovit, and is yet another entry into the space left vacant when Waze was bought by Google for untold billions. Well, more than a billion, anyway.

Why do I say the smart calendar is done?

Pretty simple, after working for about a year on a product in the category. We’ve all got a calendar, it’s on our iPhone, or the Android. Google Now has this, “Time to Leave,” feature that’s free – just like all the smart calendar startups. If somebody larger, more equipped to distribute new tech is in your space, and you have zero advantage over that large player, you’ll lose. It’s that simple.

Mynd, when you review their page, has clearly earned a ton of media and coverage, kudos to them. However when I review the site with the Angular (I believe) style redirect to a pound sign, non specific title tags and more…it’s clear that Accessibility, WCAG 1.0 compliance and more were not considerations of their site. Given that Target lost a lawsuit over accessibility in California some years back, it’s odd to see a California based startup miss on this one. Oops.

For those still thinking there is a “there, there,” please try reading up on “Disruptive,” versus, “Sustaining,” innovation. I’d call a new calendar sustaining innovation, not disruptive. Adding one feature – some basic, “Smarts,” – to my iPhone isn’t going to help me deal with much, nor will it help me sort out conference calls, etc.

Maybe I’m wrong, and the dawn of the smart calendar is just around the corner. Breathing heavily, off stage, with bad breath…just lurking in the shadows, waiting for their time to pounce.

Nah. We saw what happened to Netscape…shoot, even a few of the people running these companies worked at Netscape, when they got creamed by Microsoft and sold to AOL. It’s a different world now, and the company that’s likely to cream you is Google or Apple. They’ve both got calendars, smart assistants, multiple pieces of hardware with their OS strapped to your body and more.

I could see Amazon or Facebook, or even Yahoo, making a move here…but as a product category, it’s a feature in search of a problem to solve.


Launching in three, two, one… HookupJS: the next chapter

Earlier today, I couldn’t help but think, as we’ve been hard at work building HookupJS, about the late, great Steve Jobs. I’m a huge fan. The thing is, there are many ways of looking at any icon who has had such a huge impact on the computing industry. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page…wow. There are those in our industry whose efforts have reached almost every human being living today, in one way or another.

The splash we make is small today, but every action creates a reaction…and who can say what tomorrow will bring? Our blog is up, which is where you can find more and stay in touch.

Jeremy Goodrich in Steve Jobs Attire black turtleneck and blue jeans with macbook pro

Jeremy Goodrich in Steve Jobs Attire black turtleneck and blue jeans with macbook pro.

Docusign claims “test,” in Fast Company article about design theft

2014-11-30-fast-company-articleI’ve been wondering when the defense would launch from Docusign, and this seems to be it: “We only tested the theft with a small number of our users.” Fantastic. I’m sure that when Samsung was selling their iPad knock off with the confusing packaging, it was also only a “Test,” that would impact a small number of potential iPad purchasers.

Startups aren’t about greed, they are about the vision

In the case of HookupJS, the vision is well articulated and public. We don’t even have a website yet, but the team has five core values we’ve used to form the basis for the vision and mission of the company. There aren’t corporate filings yet, but I’ve shared this story with everybody. The startup isn’t about the money, it’s about instant opportunity in social and search, for anyone with a small amount of tech savvy.

Searching around the Docusign website, I was struck by their *lack* of vision. $230 million dollars later, theft and the only conclusion us on the outside can come to is greed, through and through.

The reason I don’t buy the test argument is that I’ve done very similar in the past – using a new look & feel to benchmark in an A/B test. If it was as easy as that, it’s a fast, simple answer – and no harm, no foul. Because all it means is that while Docusign might want to know how well the other design performs, it’s because they have another idea up their sleeve, which they want to be “sure,” can outperform the best they’ve found in the category.

Far more positive framing, and what Docusign should have come out saying in the first place. Instead, we’re all left to wonder what sort of thieving and unethical people are running a startup which raised a quarter billion dollars.