Hiring a team is a lot like my business development experience, check everything

Today, I had two phone calls with recruiters. As a hiring manager for my own business and a large tech firm, I know how the story goes. Check everything. Any flags, yellow, orange or red – done. It’s not that I have an issue with mistakes, what I know from experience is that when hiring, you are building a relationship that will last years. Thus when building the relationship, you have to be picky. Mull things over, double check and follow the process. First, you phone screen. Then if they pass, you screen in person. In a large company, there are two phone screens. One with the recruiter, the second with the hiring manager. Before any given candidate gets through the door, they need to clear both hurdles. What’s interesting to me is what happens after the, “Lunch test.”

The evaluation is very straightforward. Get lunch together while you’re checking their skills. If they can eat, be good company and explain their experience in a way you know will add value, bonus. If they can’t, they are still good people. But they just aren’t the fit you believed from the phone calls. Google posted that after four interviews, they found zero value in extra people on the panel. For my small business, there were only two people on the panel, myself and one other co-founder. In my business development experience (a long while ago), the checklist was drafted by yours truly. More recently during my consulting experience, I screened businesses as much as they screened us.

Why would a consulting firm screen their potential clients?

Simple. Every client we had, I needed to know two things before I would bother sending a proposal. First, would they follow our recommendations? If not, the relationship would not be fruitful for them and it might have a negative impact on my reputation. So I screened for companies who would follow through, because while we didn’t get paid on success, I am only happy when working with a team that gets it and can deliver. Secondarily, I also wanted to know that after we kicked the ball out of the park that it might lead to a referral. Success creates success and in consulting, happy clients create more opportunity.

After a few chats last week about consulting, I’m tempted. The money is good, the work is flexible and the people are awesome. However, despite the temptation, I want to be on a team. I don’t have a business plan in mind, so, I’m looking at other plans. It’s amazing what you see when you lift your head up and take a look around.

Politics and family: I’ll say this once

There is nothing I wouldn’t do for my family. Politically, professionally or otherwise. I’ve seen the tweets, never in my life did I consider that being, “Famous,” would entail this sort of scrutiny. While I could share countless stories…that’s not who I am, and never will be. If you are reading this for political reasons, go ahead, browse the gamut. The only thing you’ll find is that I disappointed my kids last month; due to circumstances beyond my control, I couldn’t visit them in Hong Kong.

Do you want to know how many tears I shed? How much my heart broke when I had to tell my children it would be July when I hopefully visit? There is nothing in life to contend with the heartache of disappointing your children. Politics are what they are; I miss my kids. We skype, but it’s not the same. Sure, it’s better than when I grew up with a serious call latency with Indonesia and the US.

Point blank, how would you feel if you disappointed your children?

This is what drives me, what motivates, what makes me question, “How can I do better?” I get that every parent believes their children are the best, are perfect, etc. My jokers are not perfect, but they are a perfect blend of their heritage. These two I have as inspiration, as if I needed more. These boys are the future, for they will outlast my time in this life.

I wish that the politics would leave all of us out of it; however, your grandfather is a unique man. So, too, is your mother a unique woman. Eventually, I’ll also be a, “Unique father,” for a variety of reasons.

Have fun, stay safe and I’ll talk to you both tomorrow.

Relationships are the treasure every ambitious person should pursue

The last few days, I’ve had the honor and privilege to chat with some of my past business connections. Awesome, amazing people everyone of them. The other side of the coin is that they have skills I can’t replicate. In business, in product, in shaping vision…in getting stuff done, navigating the byzantine layers of a multinational corporation…these people are awe-inspiring. That they appreciate my skills and abilities is humbling like nothing else. I treasure the business relationships which I’ve built over my career; there are some who I would love to work with again that, for one reason or another, are out of reach. That’s totally fine but it won’t change my mind, sometimes when you assemble a team in soccer, you know who you’d have for striker, for mid-field, for defense.

The team I have today is legendary. Every day I work with them, I’m inspired once again to be the kind of leader that they appreciate, they feel who cares (because I do), the one who they would follow anywhere. Tonight, I had a quick chat with one of the team. I shared, candidly, I’ve had one manager in my entire career (Hi, Rob) who I would work for again at the drop of a hat. It’s not that I want to be like him necessarily, but I want to evoke that kind of feeling with the people who I have the honor to manage.

For nearly five years, I co-founded and ran a niche consulting firm. When adding up the value created through acquisition, IPO, merger, etc…it was north of $1.5 billion. I’ve read the stats, I’ve seen the charts and I know the industry. It’s not bragging if it’s true: my firm was the single most successful in the category since the inception of the internet. Do I rest on that accomplishment, feel like I have been fulfilled and then simply dole out advice like somebody who believes their best days are behind them? No.

My best days are ahead of me, the business relationships developed over more than a decade are potential, the team I have built is reality. Together, we will accomplish the stuff of dreams. Of legends.

Treasure your relationships, my friends, my business partners, my team and my managers. Treasure them for they are the fuel that propels your career towards your dreams.

Brands as publishers and some newsworthy implications

Via LinkedIn, I spotted a link to this PEW Report about the declining state of the newsroom. The same amount less of real reporters matches the decline in American habits in obtaining news from traditional news media sites. It’s a new slant on an old meme, at this point, given John Battelle’s notion of, “Brand as media company in the digital age.”

Before finish getting ready for work, I wanted to say that while this presents an economic opportunity for brands, there are social repercussions to this trend that are not widely appreciated. On the positive, if the brand in question isn’t already in the publishing business, WordPress, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Youtube…the social pipes make it easier, lower cost and higher reward than ever to become a digital publishing powerhouse. Some of this is, to me, the online equivalent of the classic offline logo on a product, from the Swoosh on a shoe, to an emblem on a car.

If an individual wants to take advantage of this trend for their personal brand, it’s a great time to be a hobbyist writer. From a near unlimited free reach in a blog to thousands of satisfied down-loaders from legitimate places like Amazon, literature aggregation sites or second tier distributors like Smashwords, there’s incredible potential in the digital version of the clay tablet, the most archaic form for writing I can think of.

Have a fantastic day.

Giving, a prototype and who we should all aspire to be more like

There are two professors from my four year college experience I’ll never forget. One was an economics instructor; she kicked ass and made the students what, to this day, remains the most messed up deal in my academic career. She offered an easy, “A,” to whoever was willing to take notes. I raised my hand and felt a warm, fuzzy glow from being selected. Only later did I realize, I’d been had. From my feverish note taking and paying attention like my future depended on it to my copious notes (verbatim, thank you) her class is the only one from my four year experience where I can share what I learned and can tell you why it matters. I can’t thank her enough even though I got a 100% raw deal; there was only one other class in my academic history where I sweated bullets like that. Yep, Acting 101 is a nightmare. Like so many other amateurs, I thought I had a clue. The well intentioned instructor proceeded to break all of us down and let us know, in no uncertain terms, where we had failed.

Why the Spanish department head is one of my heroes

I’ll call you LV because I still remember the privacy keynote (despite my forgetting who gave it) at U of O. I had a few classes with you and you were helpful, kind and understanding. Patient, not condescending even though a gringo like me is never perfect at the, “Erree.” The older I get, the more I appreciate the class about Don Quixote. Finishing college for me was a singular event; none of my family has managed to follow through as I did. When you gave the graduation speech in 1999 to the group; I didn’t appreciate it enough.

If you’re still there, if you are open, I have a few suggestions. First and foremost, be patient with students like me who might take a decade plus to realize your awesomeness. Second is that I never followed through on the MBA program you wrote a letter of recommendation for; don’t feel like I let you down, because I owe you and the economics prof above so much. Instead, just in case other people, like me, don’t follow through on applying to grad school…give them permission to read the letter. I never did, and I’ve been wondering what you said for over 13 years.

Thank you both for everything. For me, personally, it’s taken a long time to realize the value of an awesome teacher. Going forward, I will try my best to be a better student.

X-men and first edition where Gambit made his full appearance ;)

After checking ebay, I realized this particular issue was worth something special. Friends of my teen years (what’s up?) will know that X-men was something special to me. While I never, ever, agreed with Logan’s, “Lamb chops,” his personality had a huge influence on my life. This understanding has shaped me in ways that non comic book readers won’t get.

“Music is like magic,” a quote from the song I’m listening to right now. I have about six hundred comics; there is now way I could ever appreciate enough the effort, the drive, the skill that they brought to create these precious books. To Todd, to Stan, to all the guys & gals who’s name I don’t know…I can’t thank you enough. Your work is immortal; people like me and my kids can only dream about your success.

Artists like you are the heroes of today.

Understanding front end engineering excellence: pop the top, and you get to see it all

Right now, I’m doing a bit of, “Code review,” on some companies. The awesome thing about my limited understanding of front end engineering is that I can pop the top and see what’s underneath, to a certain degree. This enables my biased POV to achieve some degree of understanding: Who are you targeting? What tools are you using? Does IE 6 still matter? Is Load Speed a KPI you measure via RUM or not?

Yesterday, I saw one company that was an out and out savage with regards to front end engineering. Sure, I can’t see the framework, the back-end that produced this incredibly awesome goodness…but I was floored. So few companies get it, when I saw their code, knew what tools they are using, (RUM, #FTW), I literally had to learn more. I get it: I’m a marketer, through & through: but nothing I produce matters if the engineers aren’t freaking geniuses, front end and back end.

How would you, as a marketer, grade FE excellence?

I’ll answer the question because I asked it. The way I measure is pretty simplistic and shows how, despite some technical background, this is NOT my forte:

  • Accessibility to screen readers…I ran a social network for years that had a top 100 member who used a screen reader; also, personally, I had a friend growing up in my early teens who was blind. Whenever I think about the federal, government mandated rules on this topic, I think of him. I don’t know about others, but the idea of letting down friends or family f!@#king kills me.
  • Pagespeed, yslow, or webpagetest – just like on 280 in the bay area, every prospect will feel immeasurably better when you are fast
  • Code quality…I get it, I’m being 100% nit picky here. But as one of the few marketers I have met in my career that understands RFC translates to, “Request For Comments,” even after the facet becomes part of the official HTTP spec…maybe, you’ll give me some leeway.

Selfish plug here: I wrote this because I saw two companies FE excellence this week. One was an out & out savage; I would bow down and worship at their code review alter if I could. The other…well, I have lunch next week and they seem cool. But when I popped the top, they were not the savage I expected.

Do not take this, or any other post, the wrong way: I am driven by KPI’s, the notion of a, “GSD quota,” moves me like nothing else. I am a marketer first & foremost; despite a few years slogging away in Perl, PHP and RoR, I know that’s not what moves me. I love the engineers I have worked with; past and present. If you as a reader take anything away from this post, it’s that FE engineers are awesome and they only do the kind of epic work you expect when they know you, as a manager, feel it. If I could, I would totally retrain & reclassify myself as a FE engineer. They literally make or break start-ups, enterprises and everything in between.

For the two funniest people I have ever met; my boys, this is for you

Via Skype this morning, our conversation was not nearly as seamless as I would hope. When compared to my own experience at thirteen calling a buddy from twelve thousand miles away, it was immeasurably better. My younger son was chatting, my older son stuck to texting during the call. My nephew was also involved and the whole thing was hysterical. I mean, picture two twelve year old boys getting into trouble; then add in a ten year old rebel. What do YOU think is going to transpire in that conversation?

If you can, picture the two funniest guys you have ever met. Then regress them to 10 (soon to be 11) and 12. Imagine how, considering their fortune, they have experienced only a limited flavor of emotional melt-down. Yep, that’s my guys. After chatting with them via Skype last night, I remembered why and how I, personally, could be all that & a bag of chips. Life is about points of reference, experience and despite the best intentions of any given individual, we all view things through our own specially colored glasses.

Fortune favors the bold, I have heard. This might be true, but in my case, fortune favors the grateful. Love is not a standard word in the corporate vernacular; but I love the extended group. The team, the extended team…I’m humbled by their ability.The chat with my boys re-enforced that; at my age it feels a bit weird to say, “I want to fulfill their dreams of what I can be,” but it’s true. The last time I visited my parents, I made my kids chop wood for the first time. There is video, so yes, it happened ;)

The transition from, “boy,” to, “man,” is a rough one. Unfortunately, you guys get to experience some of what I went through. There are awkward moments which you feel nobody understands, there are a myriad list of things which change and most importantly, it is tremendously hard to believe that anybody else really, truly knows what you are experiencing. I get it, even though I know you both don’t get that I get it. Life is only lived forwards, and understood backwards.

I’ll do my best to help and know that whatever happens, I’m here for you both. Only yesterday did I learn you guys are my Irish Twins; I hope one day, you can both be as proud of me as I am of you.

Digital strategy, the new public relations and genetic algorithms

Over the last few days, if you read the digerati, you will have seen that Yahoo! made a new acquisition. That’s freaking awesome in so many ways; it deserves to be reported, shared, tweeted, blogged and reblogged. I have yet to dig into the story, but what I find fascinating is the implication.

Find a novel angle for an acqui-hire and leverage it…blogs, media outlets and more will go to town. When Yahoo acquired the company, if you’re really thinking it through, maybe they had a PR angle in mind. Genetic algorithms, those capricious mathematical formula that tweak and optimize based on inheritance, success rates and other KPI’s…these are reasonably new territory for all of us. I’m nowhere near qualified to even begin to comment on Summly, the product, the acquisition or anything. But reading the blogosphere and the digital, visceral reaction…I was interested in learning at least a few details.

Family connections and generational wealth give you access which is hard to come by

An interesting topic and an issue, I could only find after reading for a fair bit about this startup, the backstory and the Yahoo acquisition. Generational wealth is not a protected class; nor is having family and friends with the kind of rolodex money, alone, can’t buy. However, despite the connections and some other details…genetic algorithms. Wow.

Even though I have spent countless hours in college and then professionally learning and trying to understand the potential of the algorithmic future we have, it always impresses me when I read about somebody who has not only invented something truly modern but also made it successful in a business sense. Human potential is so much more than where we are today; the quantified self, optimization of personal, professional and medical aspects of life could do so much for all of us. Google Now, their glasses project…it weaves the internet into our lives in a new, seamless and beautiful experience. I’m old school; this post is being written on a macbook pro.

Everyone involved in building, developing, promoting or selling technology should be celebrated. They are the heroes of the modern era, those brave souls who for a myriad list of reasons, embrace possibility and share it with the world. I am humbled by the breadth and depth of reach from my career thus far and can’t thank enough every interaction, every person and every company that’s helped me become the person I am.

While the present is a gift, the future is a bright, shiny place. I hope whoever is reading this, like me, is excited about their contribution to enabling human potential like never before.

Always have a plan b and when you need to execute it, try to stay calm

Stressing out the past few weeks has really done a number on me. Despite the paperwork which clearly indicates, “I should be fine, financially,” I’m not. Plan B was supposed to be if things hit the fan, which they weren’t supposed to do. My backup was just that, my backup. It was not, “The plan.” So on Friday, I took a sick day because, mentally, I couldn’t keep it together. Having a Plan B is one thing; following through, another. Feeling miserable the entire day, I slogged through a ton of paperwork, figured out how to pull it all together and then started.

Next week, I’m taking a few days vacation to finish up the work I have to do. I’m feeling a bit better now, and will be fine in a few days, before I head back to work. I miss it already, even though I was there Thursday. When work is awesome, when the people you interact with are fixtures in your life, unplugging can be a challenge on it’s own. However, when you’re stressed to the max and feel like you’re drowning, you have to hit the pause button. Figure things out, and then resume.

Why it’s not about me, and it’s been hard to stay calm

Yesterday, I had to tell my twelve year old son I wouldn’t make it overseas this month and that it would be July, more than likely, when I come for a visit. Hearing the disappointment in his voice hit me like a ton of bricks, and unfortunately, Plan B is where I don’t end up visiting this month like I had planned. It’s one thing to understand, intellectually, that I’m experiencing, “First World Problems.” It’s another entirely to feel the emotional roller coaster of missing your children.

The big lesson in all this has been to have a better Plan B in place, and also craft a safety net. I don’t have the kind of family I can call up to bail me out; if I want options in life, I have to make them. So far, I’m the black sheep of the family in many, many ways. Often, I ignore the advice I get from my older brother. A week ago, I chatted with him for a while on the phone, and he agreed, my situation sucks. He also confirmed, “You need to execute Plan B.” That helped. I know that we don’t get to pick our family, but between him and my dad yesterday, offering a hand…it feels good.

I love my job, I love the people in my life and I will do better going forward. It hurts to share even this much but for the past month, ever since I knew I’d have to pull the rip cord on my backup fiscal strategy, I’ve been depressed. Knowing I can’t see my kids for another few months hurts; any parent understands.

For whatever reason, there have been two Goodrich boys each generation the past three. My dad was one of two, I’m one of two and so far, my boys are the only two for this generation. While generations past, my surname came from England, I’m an American, through and through. The idea that I leave my progeny better off than I was is part and parcel of what being American means to me.

Today, I’m not writing this about work, about me, or about my challenges in life. I’m writing this so that maybe, just maybe, my boys understand why I can’t be there with them for a week this month like I had promised. I’m sorry. I know how to solve this for the future, but the reality is, that’s months from now. I’ll Skype more often until I see you again.