Where most Freemium Games fail, Kabam Wins!

A few years ago I downloaded my first freemium game. I played it for awhile and then had an issue.  I submitted a ticket on the company’s support website.  48 hours later I got a response. By then I had already deleted the game and moved on to another one.  So I deleted the email and forgot about the game.

After unconsciously repeating this process seven or eight times, I began to wonder, why could I not stick to one game and why would I not spend time to get deeper into these games?

Through the lense of my support leader eyes, it became clear.  These gaming companies were not engaging me, they were not focused on my behaviors, and therefore I was not invested in their product.

They lost my eyeballs, interest, and my attention.

It then occurred to me. This lack of engagement, care, and sense of urgency is costing these companies tons of potential players and money. And they probably do not even realize it.

To prove out my theory, learn more, and lend my experience, I decided to join one, Kabam.

What is Freemium and why does it matter to gaming?

For folks new to this business concept, here are some additional details.  Wikipedia shares the Freemium concept in this way, “Freemium is a pricing strategy by which a product or service (typically a digital offering or application such as software, media, games or web services) is provided free of charge, but money (premium) is charged for proprietary features, functionality, or virtual goods”.

According to a variety of sources this term or larger business approach started circa 2006. Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, was quoted in an article on Business News Daily, which explains clearly the value of the Freemium model.  He states, “The easiest way to get 1 million people paying is to get 1 billion people playing.”

In the mobile gaming context, below is the revenue forecast from the Global Games Market report for 2016-2020.

Over the next 4 years the market share of mobile gaming will jump from 29% to 40% of all gaming revenue or $26.3B.   This means the more eyeballs you have, the more downloads you get, leads to more opportunities to influence players to play and spend in a Freemium game.

What I Learned at Kabam

Upon joining Kabam, I completed a comprehensive player listening tour across all disciplines.  It was very informative and helpful to understand how our talented designers, developers, operations, support, and producers think and operate on a daily basis. I was amazed at the passion and focus each role had for our players and that everyone in the company plays our games everyday.

As I dug deeper into my support and community discipline, I found some compelling challenges that were different than other industries I had worked in.

The first challenge is the word ‘free’ means something different to each player that downloads our game.  Often times our players, and us as creators, have a different understanding of what the value of free is. This complexity requires different ways of thinking and engaging our players, as well as how we operate our business.  A mapping of how players value themselves and how we value them has been a key differentiator to Kabam’s success.

The second challenge is how gaming board rooms around the world invest in their support and community teams.  The trend is to follow the same way they invested with their console games.  This antiquated thinking leads to a broad brush business approach to all of their players, even if many are more invested (time+money) in your game than others. Kabam thinks about this differently.  We have the ability to clearly identify who our players are and invest in them in kind.

The third challenge is best illuminated by IMPAKTER below:

The world has changed, everything moves faster, people want things now and on their terms, and a gaming company’s ability to engage and retain a player’s attention has never been harder.  At Kabam, it is not just about answering questions or how fast we respond.  It’s about listening, enabling, empowering, and engaging our players.  It is about building an ecosystem of players that are ambassadors for us, even when we are not in every conversation on every platform.

What I learned from benchmarking the industry

Upon reviewing these challenges with my team, stakeholders, and partners across the company, we found that certain ways of thinking that were happening in the industry, were legacy and detrimental to long term success.

In general we agreed that we must avoid industry approaches of thinking and talking to players in antiquated ways:

  1. Support is a necessary cost, let’s try to minimize it, after all we don’t need complainers in our game
  2. Let’s deflect all of our players to the knowledge base and hope they get their answers
  3. We had a longer response time on console so it will work for mobile, all players are the same
  4. I don’t need gamers to answer support questions, anyone can do it, with training
  5. I don’t need to invest in tech for support and community, the service experience is not a priority
  6. I don’t need to understand my players, all players are the same
  7. People love our game, it doesn’t matter if we engage them.  It is so amazing, they will keep coming

We strongly felt that disruption was the key.  Disruption to how we think about, engage with, and treat the players of our games.  Disruption in how we invest, disruption to how we prioritise our boardroom conversations, and disruption in how we allow our support and community teams to operate. We decided we must disrupt, think blue sky, and retire legacy thought processes.

How Kabam is Different

 

To help us drive this disruption, we aligned how to engage our players across the leadership team and all disciplines. We did not merely want to support players, we were going to retain them.  And not just for a day or month, but for the life of the game.

We re-wrote and embraced new guiding principles that engage and listen to our players:

  1. The core game mission, once players get into the game, should be to keep them playing, everyday.
  2. Leveraging technology and people in new and innovative ways will be the difference in winning the eyeball game
  3. Every player has value, understanding it, categorizing it, and maximizing it through engagement will be the key
  4. Deeply embedding and measuring this approach in our Support and Community teams, as well as the reinforcing it in the company culture, will be essential to long term success
  5. Support and Community is a means to an end.  Investing in the means will derive multiplicative results on the end
  6. The end result is how often our players play our games, how much they play our games, and then in turn how they share their enjoyment by spending and investing in our games

Our ability to disrupt the vision, strategy, purpose, and deployment of the resources and technology that engages our players everyday, has had a profound impact on our player base and our bottom line.

Stepping back into my player mindset. Like many of you, I love mobile video games.  I like free things. I will continue to try and test them out.  Just as I do in other walks of my life, I will choose to care about and invest in the ones that reciprocate and engage me in kind.  It will be an unconscious behavior.   I know each of you are the same way.

Where many Freemium companies still operate in legacy and failing ways. Kabam tries to win players affections and loyalty everyday, by finding new and innovative ways to engage our players we enrich their gaming entertainment experience.

Our willingness to disrupt, re-imagine, and adapt how we think and operate has put us in a great position to grab part of the amazing $26.3B opportunity that sits in front of us.

Jerry Leisure is a Customer Success leader that believes the heart of every company is their customer. He can be reached via LinkedIn , @J2leisure on Twitter or byujerry@gmail.com

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freemium

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/2591-freemium-model-infographic.html

http://impakter.com/impakter-essay-mobile-devices-and-consumer-behavior-decoded/

https://newzoo.com/insights/articles/the-global-games-market-will-reach-108-9-billion-in-2017-with-mobile-taking-42/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nozomi-morgan/finding-strength-in-being_b_10893012.html

Best In Show: Your “Heart” depends on it

When I was younger, I would enjoy the day at the theme park. I noticed immediately a way to do more for my money, the fast lane. It gave me the ability to derive more excitement and pleasure from my day (IE more rides). I really appreciated the opportunity to get better access and more value. And I was totally comfortable spending the extra money for the better experience.

Fast forward to this decade, I have noticed a lot more companies are starting to understand this concept. Video streaming services provide faster speeds and no commercials for a slightly higher fee. At ballparks, I get a better experience, if I purchase the VIP pass. Console games now offer the gold and platinum packages of their games. Which provide the gamer a leg up as they start playing. Even my food delivery service will pick up from any restaurant, if I pay a higher fee.

With all these amazing incentives at the point of sale, it strikes me as intriguing that companies will go to all this effort to encourage us to get more from their service or spend more, but still keep your support experience the same. All too often I pay more for a service or experience and then the support team lets me down. And in return I end up leaving the brand or getting a pretty bad taste in my mouth. The good news is that some companies have started to differentiate on the support side (IE Airlines, Hotels). The bad news is you have to join a club or scheme to get this premium level of support.

I submit that companies should consider a few factors and build their support experience around their consumer, the “heart” of their company. After all, if the consumer is not there enjoying the service or experience, the company doesn’t exist. So for all the companies that want to nurture their “heart”, here are some 21st century ideas on how:

  • Build your support process and policies around the consumer, their spend levels, and full purchase history. Create a support experience that keeps them sticky for a lifetime
  • Consider setting up your support teams by consumer persona, not all consumers are the same. Often times a small % of your consumers drive a lion share of the revenue. Don’t lose them by jumping over dimes to find pennies
  • When consumers buy a premium service, automatically give them a premium support experience. The revenue vs. cost trade off will be worth it and you can easily retain the consumer as a promoter
  • Make the tough trade-offs and be more flexible. Consumers understand a great support experience comes at a cost, so make tough tradeoffs that give your better consumer, a better experience. Don’t be afraid to treat your consumers that don’t value you, worse and be nimbler and creative with those that are loyal to you
  • Use technology to your advantage. The world is changing, consumers don’t need to talk to someone all the time. They don’t always even need a human. They just need a resolution to their issue. One that gets them back to using your product again

The worse and most frustrating thing for me as a consumer, is to have to leave a brand I have become loyal and addicted to. I generally do it because I am forced to, by bad support or a bad product experience. On the reverse, when companies delight me, the “heart” of their company. I find it very easy to stay and spend more. In fact, I often don’t pay as much attention to my spend levels, if the value is known and felt.

My hope, as customer success executive, is that more companies will continue to evolve their point of sale value options, while aligning it more intrinsically to an excellent and unparalleled support experience. 

If they can do this, they will have me and I am guessing you for a lifetime!

Jerry Leisure is a Customer Success leader that believes the heart of every company is their customer. He can be reached via LinkedIn , @J2leisure on Twitter or byujerry@gmail.com

Feedback, the Power to Achieve

This past week I completed the DISC program.  It was not the first time I had done it, yet the results were an interesting surprise.  Not only for me, but also what I learned about my team.

Rewind about decade.  I was an annoying, think I have it figured out, and don’t understand why everyone can’t keep up leader, or perhaps human being.  I was impatient, easily frustrated, and generally irritated about the incompetence around me.  Yea, I was that guy.

It was a pivotal moment for me in my career.  A crossroads of sorts.  I was delivering, what I considered, amazing results and had built a great team of all stars, doing pretty great stuff always.  Even if I never told them how great they were.

One day my boss pulls me in and recommends I get a 360 degree review.  I guess there was some feedback he was hearing from others and he wanted me to better understand it for self improvement.

I went in thinking this was going to be just your standard everyone is happy, you are doing great, yada yada yada.  Turns out it wasn’t.  I guess I learned how bad my general lack of self awareness was.  And while I was having what seemed like great success, the bridges I was burning would soon leave me stuck out on an island somewhere, by myself.

So I had choice, I could listen to the feedback and attempt to accept and address it or ignore it.  I chose.  Perhaps if tons of people were saying I wasn’t good at something, maybe there was something there.

With this in mind I made some pretty big changes in my life and career.  Firstly, I needed to find someone that was good at, what I wasn’t and then go work for them.  So I did that, I took a temporary step back in my career (or that’s how I saw it at the time), and found someone I knew was great at my gaps.

Secondly, I got a career coach, Steve Gutzler.  I thought, my basketball coach helped me get better in sports, so perhaps I needed something like that for my career.  It turns out, everyone probably needs a coach.

I guess you might be wondering, what were the areas everyone thought I was not that great at, here you go:

  1. People – listening, supporting, enabling
  2. Emotional Intelligence
  3. Collaboration
  4. Influencing

For me, it was a blow.  I was surprised by this, especially as I loved people and really appreciated them. My sole purpose is really to help and serve and I was severely failing at that.

One of the first things my career coach had me do, was a few different personality profiles.  The goal was to better understand who I was and then consider how that played out on a daily basis.  The side benefit was that I might find I am acting certain ways that are not in alignment with what I think and feel or my character.

It was a telling moment.  I learned a ton about myself, who I thought I was, and who I wanted to become.  It was at this time that I wrote down my first ever core values and ethos statement. And shortly thereafter a leadership charter or a group of principles that I wanted to be as a leader.

As with real life, this is not a fairy tale.  Recognition and immediate action does not mean instantaneous evolution.  It was the beginning of a journey.  One that I am still on today.  One that I will be on for some time.

Fast forward back to today, the surprising results from my DISC profile, was that many of the things I have been working on for 10+ years have naturally worked themselves into my everyday life, work habits and behaviors. And that these changes have allowed me to collaborate and co-create a successful present and future with a team of very different and diverse individuals. A team I absolutely respect and adore.

The message I think about as I write this is, being who you want to be, is possible.  It will take time, failures, hard work, and many moments of small success sewn together over many years.  Each of you have it in you, to be the person you want to become, grab it, own it, and know all those people around you, are there for you.

Courtesy: truecustomersuccess.com , https://www.discprofile.com, http://www.stevegutzler.com/, https://www.wikipedia.org/

Jerry Leisure is a Customer Success leader that believes the heart of every company is their customer. He can be reached via LinkedIn , @J2leisure on Twitter or byujerry@hotmail.com

Are you made for Startup Life?

Text Startup

 

It was second grade. In front of me was a pink sheet. I knew the drill. If I could answer these 100 multiplication tables the fastest in the class I would win. It was our teacher’s weekly “weakest link” drill. I knew there was a reward on the other side or 2nd place, which was the first loser. I was happy to be the winner that day.

Fast forward to 3rd grade I was standing in front of the school, with 300 people looking at me. I was one of 2 finalists to be considered for the regional spelling bee. I was up, the word was government. The pressure was on, I failed, and I forgot the n after the r. I was devastated. Not because I did not go to region, but because I made a stupid and preventable mistake. I let myself lose focus. I lost that day.

I remember when I was 17. The doctor, staring at me and informing me I would never walk again and that I would be in a wheelchair the rest of my life. I also remember secretly making a promise that I would not only walk. I would run. I completed a Tough Mudder a few summers ago. I won that day.

Take a moment and consider your most intense and challenging moments of life. How did you step up or handle those challenges? Did you choose to win or learn? If you did not do one of those two and do it fast, Startup Life may not be for you.

I was asked recently how it is to work at a startup company. Simply stated it is a fluidic set of experiences that are like my most challenging and rewarding moments of life. But in the timespan of one day or in some cases a few hours. The ability to be as fast as a jeopardy champion, as nimble as a ballerina, and engaging as Oprah is a must at all times.

The brilliance of a working at startup company is the set of super intelligent colleagues that are riding the wave with you, which you are learning from and with. The challenge is that you will never have so many wrong and right decisions in your life. Since humans focus on the wrong decisions, if you can’t grow a strong backbone, Startup Life is not for you.

If you are considering joining a startup company here are some pro tips:

  • Check your ego at the door – everyone is smart and it’s not about being right. It’s about team and customer success
  • Adapt to change fast – In a fluidic environment changing directions, strategies, or live decision changes happen often. The principle; fail fast, forward, is never more true
  • Be a T shape employee – You will join and go deep in your certain expertise and then you will need to flex your muscles across multiple disciplines to ensure company success
  • Be the Glue – Communication is key. Ensuring you stay connected and that you are the glue that keeps people aligned and on the same page is a crucial component of agile and flawless execution
  • Prepare for the Race – The race in this space is real. The competition is intense. Customers are won and lost every minute of every day. You will be running a mile at a 100 meter dash pace, be prepared physically, mentally, and emotionally.

As I reflect back on my last 18 months, I often joke I just got my PHD. In reality I have learned so much about myself, my potential, and what a committed group of professionals can accomplish. Much more than I expected. I also learned what sacrifice really is and what being part of something way bigger than myself is all about.

With that said, this experience won’t be for everyone. Similar to how my teacher was testing for the “weakest link”, working for a startup will quickly expose those that cannot make it. In a very non-emotional way, I truly believe some things are just not meant for some people.

True success and potential inside an individual comes with open eyed and minded self-awareness. As an example, while I love music and dream of being an amazing musician. I also know this will never happen. Not because I don’t want it, but because I don’t have the natural talent.

For me, I joined a startup company because I loved the product and am in even more love today than the day I joined. I can only imagine what the next day will be like and what I will fail and succeed at. What I do know, is that whatever hits me I can handle. Largely because of an amazing group of colleagues I trust and my own self-awareness of my capabilities and potential. Cease the day!

Customer Delight at the Speed of Thought

man is choosing happy,positive smile icon, concept of satisfaction and improvment

As a 7 year old I was a very curious lad. I was the kid that was asking all the questions. I expected that my parents would know all the answers and fairly fast. One day I wandered around the house and discovered something new, an encyclopedia set. I soon learned that I could get the answers for myself. I was excited.

Soon after I began to see the immense value of the school library, almanacs, and many different resources that would answer my questions. As time progressed I became more addicted to this ability to ask a question in my mind and then find an answer fairly quickly. However, I was unnerved that some of the questions I had, could not be answered by the library in country town I lived in.

As time progressed the computer revolution began and soon after the Internet. This changed my whole paradigm. I could now get almost every answer I needed based on how fast my fingers moved. It has become such an addictive resource, now my wife just randomly asks question to the air and expects me to find the answer! And even further, I have questions that haven’t even popped up in my head yet. Answered via an app push notification to me on my phone. My excitement and delight is complete.

This human behavioral transformation into immediacy as the norm has developed in all parts of our lives. I remember the brick and mortar call centers of the 90’s. How we were all comfortable waiting for an email for a few days. Then we transitioned to waiting on hold for a few minutes. Now we are addicted to getting an on demand response. We have a problem and we want it solved now. If it isn’t solved, we will just find a company that will solve it on our terms.

Companies that get this, really thrive. Now pulling on that string further, imagine a company delivers a service on demand. Now the customer’s expectations are even more immediate, they want you to predict when a problem may exist and prevent it from ever happening. The appetite for error or service latency is non-existent. Customers pay a premium for now and they what they pay for. I mean you would to, right?

The future of customer service draws me back to a book I read a decade ago,“The Best Service is No Service” by Bill Price and David Jaffe. The concept being that customers actually don’t want help, they just want a simple, seamless, and high quality product or service that works. They want companies to anticipate their thoughts and build and evolve around them. They want to be delighted by never having a negative experience. They want delight and that’s all they want.

The future of customer service is actually not service at all, its product delight. If companies build products that never require a question, that never elicit a negative feeling, then true customer success arrives. It is these companies that invest in the beginning of the cycle that will be the future of industry and business. In the late 90’s an old measure of the cost of service in a company was if your service costs were 6% of revenue you were world class. I would propose that if your service costs are greater than 1% of revenue, you are failing at true customer delight.

If you are a CEO or Founder in a company, I would encourage you to not hire people to solve customer problems after the fact, I would implore you to hire the smartest, most talented product managers and engineers. Empower them to build it right from the beginning and never allow your customer service team to be more than 1% of revenue. If you do it right your customer service team will be the smallest team in your company. And your customers will have no choice, but to be loyal to you.

Ultimately the choice is up to you, as a customer that wants delight at the speed of thought, please make the right product decisions today, so I don’t have to talk to your customer service reps tomorrow!

I mean think about it, if I am talking to your customer service team, I am not spending time getting addicted to your product.

 

Courtesy: “The Best Service is No Service” by Bill Price and David Jaffe.

True Clarity and The Heart of your company

iStock_000086714015_Large

In different seasons of your career and professional journey you have opportunities to experience many diverse moments.  These moments often produce decision points.  Inside these decision points you determine your path.  The path you travel will often provide you many different choices.  Your journey is made up of choices that lead to decision points, that deliver experiences, that in the end help you reach your true potential.  All of which influence and impact you.  Which determine the type of professional you become and relationships you build.

The challenge we all face is that our ability to make the decisions we really feel and know are the best for us, are often unclear.  We all accidentally put on our “lenses”.  These lenses are stress, timelines, deliverables, other people, politics, and other professional dynamics.  We wear these lenses and it blocks or blurs our vision on what we feel and know is right.

In a very similar way, when I don’t wear my glasses at home, I trip, fall, or don’t see obvious things; we have the same issues at work.  This lack of True Clarityensures that we are not making the decisions we feel and know are right.  Which in the end undercut the true purpose we have and limits our potential.

As you pivot that line of thinking towards your customer, it can lead to some interesting and powerful reflection opportunities as a company.  Your customers are what build the company.  They are the lifeblood of everything you do.  They are the heart that pumps the blood that enables life to exist for your company and it’s people.  How often do you allow your “lenses” to cloud the vision of what you feel and know is the right thing to do? How many customers have you lost because of this?

Companies often portray that they are customer focused or centric, especially as it is what customers want to hear.  This placation is often exposed in the first or second engagement the customer has with your company.  Often this placation is not what was intended when they started.  However it slowly crept in over time, especially as “other priorities” were allowed to blur your vision. And let’s be frank, sometimes these are hard priorities to manage: budgets, investors, shareholders, profitability, and growth.

If we think back on our worst customer service experiences, we can identify companies that are probably blurred by their own “lenses”. Finding companies that understand this True Clarity principle helps illustrate the point, I can tell a huge difference between the experience I have at The Apple Genius Bar vs. Comcast customer service.  One company invites live and personal engagement; focuses on first contact resolution, the other requires me to traverse a crazy phone tree, wait on hold for an hour, and in the end I talk to an unempowered support person that is not allowed to solve my problem, without approval.

We can see that it is not enough to have a great product or service.  You must take care of your heart (your customers) to keep your company alive and healthy.  I have chatted with 100 people and asked a simple question, Apple or Comcast? 100% say Apple and the number one reason is based on how they were treated.

Companies that have True Clarity on the value and importance of their customers and make the right choices are the companies that will succeed.  These are the companies that ensure the customer is at the center of every decision made at all levels.

You are a critical part of your company.  The “lenses” we all have start at a personal level and then are portrayed and eventually influence decision points that determine your company’s path.  I challenge and encourage every employee in every company to be reflective and identify if your “lenses” are causing you or your company to do things that are against what you feel and know is right for your customers.

I propose we all take a moment and find our own True Clarity and then adjust our line of thinking, way of doing, and decisions we make to put us on the right path.  The path that focuses on our customers, that build the company, and that unlocks unlimited potential for short and long term success for all!

 

 

 

The Power of True Purpose

There was a team of one hundred. They were responsible for the customer experience of a company. These were one hundred super smart and talented individuals. You would recognize their credentials and hire them into your own company. They worked hard everyday and were paid in kind for their commitment. This team of one hundred over the years wandered into mediocrity. They never stopped working hard; they didn’t lose their intelligence or commitment. They also never differentiated the customer experience for their company.

Slowly over the years the team dwindled. As time moved on the A players left. This left B players, who recruited C and D players. The company never delivered on its promise and it’s customers left for a competitor. The company eventually began to struggle financially. A few years after the team of one hundred were recruited; the company closed its doors. Why did one hundred of the smartest, most committed, and talented people fail the company?

The team had no true purpose. Many will say yes they did, they were the customer experience team. Let us contemplate how a stated purpose and aa true Purpose are different. Also let us consider a stated purpose is just words on a page. A true purpose becomes the DNA of a team.

A true purpose permeates every level of a team. It becomes the oxygen the team members breathe. It is their state of being. What happens when your oxygen is cut off, you suffocate. What do you do before you suffocate?   You fight to get your oxygen back. If a team’s true purpose is permeated and is the oxygen of each member, then no one team member will ever be successful at pulling down the true purpose.

So you might ask, what can I do to ensure my team has true purpose? Here are a few things to consider:

  • Be the voice of true purpose in your team – Everyone should be the CEO of his or her career and role. Individuals have immense influencing power. Don’t be afraid to be the voice that inspires your team to a true purpose beyond what is stated. We need not be afraid to share our ideas, as it might be your idea is the one idea everyone can rally around.
  • Steer Clear of Informed Mediocrity – There was a popular television show out years ago. One character had to push a button every 48 hours. This character was told the world depended on it. So he never stopped pushing the button. How often do we just do what has always been done? Do we respectfully question the status quo? Or do we just push the button, because we want the paycheck?
  • True purpose starts with You – If an individual is looking for a company or a job to give them their purpose, they do not have it. True purpose starts with each individual thinking about who they are, what they want, what are their core values, and what motivates them. You must have a true purpose yourself to truly realize the great potential of a true purpose at work.

Now imagine that when those one hundred individuals were hired. Imagine that they received a true purpose like Amazon, which is to be “The Earth’s Most Customer Centric Company”. Amazon decided early on that it was not good enough to be the best in their industry or geography. They started with an ambitious true purpose. If you track Amazon since their founding in 1994 until today, you can see how their company has benefitted from growing and delivering on that true purpose.

What if those one hundred or if your team had a true purpose that everyone rallied around? What if that true purpose became a war cry that inspired the team and became their oxygen everyday. I would submit that the customer experience team of one hundred and your own teams would be able to reach a potential true purpose beyond what was thought possible.

So my question is what are you going to do to find true purpose and make it a reality for you and your team?

 

Courtesy:  http://www.amazon.com/Careers-Homepage/b?ie=UTF8&node=239364011

Anna wants to do amazing things, so why does IT get in the way?

Anna walks in the door. She is starting her dream job. She has always wanted to work for this company, doing this thing, and be in this field. She has already imagined what the next few years will look like. She is ready to get to work, be productive, and make an impact.

The question is, does the company she chose to work for really think about Anna like she thinks about herself? From the moment Anna opens the door, her end user productivity experience begins. This is the experience that is going to enable her to do what she loves—her job, and hopefully do it really well.

A lot of companies build this experience from a technology, cost, or infrastructure view. They believe IT and the company make decisions that help the business, provide tools and solutions, and are cost effective. Then, they think about the end user productivity experience and hope it works out.

For Anna, she wants to work for a company that thinks about her, how she works, and how she and her team can be most productive together. For her, technology that supports an anytime- anywhere workplace mentality is vital. That’s the new world; that’s the productive world.

User Centric IT organizations have the ability to influence, empower, and drive productivity at the same rate as the businesses they support. At the same time, IT must manage and hide complexity from its end users, while managing risk and security for the company.

I believe in creating a simple, user centric experience that enables IT end users to be highly productive. This game changer will create more revenue for a company and create employee loyalty. Aternity, an enterprise software company specializing in end user experience management solutions, breaks this concept down in great detail on their End User Experience website.

In simple terms, employees may make future employment choices based on the experience with the technology within the company and how productive they can be with it.

We all have an Anna join our company every week. Are we going to help Anna reach her full potential? Will we enable her to truly grow and make lasting impacts within the company?

EQ+IQ=Amazing Business

Nicola Roark wrote a great piece about the difficulties of working together as spouses or partners titled – Why My Husband and I Won’t Work Together.  I found the piece to be a super insightful read.  It is always interesting to understand the person behind the professional.  I have seen family members work amazingly well together. However, I have also witnessed family businesses fail and marriages ruined.

As I was reading Nicola’s post, it reminded me of a recent workshop I attended that was led by Steve Gutzler, author, speaker, and executive coach. The workshop was titled Emotional Intelligence for Extraordinary Leadership.  If you have not invested time in emotional intelligence or EQ, I definitely recommend it.

Ok, back to Nicola’s great topic and how EQ plays a role in making it a success between spouses or partners at work…  I have worked together twice with my wife.  The first time it was a new thing.  It was odd and fun to have her a few cubes down from me.  The fun part was having lunch together daily and to see her in her work environment.  I definitely gained a new level of respect for her.

The odd part was that in the past, work was work and family time was family time.  As we worked together, I noticed that they started to intermix. As they intermixed, I started to see that our work personas were showing up at home, and our home personas were showing up at work. This created a new type of conflict and confusion. Our lives became homogenous, and our positions in each place changed. My wife and I definitely had some bumps in the road when we first started working together, but she helped me gain a new perspective. From her observation and feedback, I learned that I was not very self-aware and did not truly understand how people think and act. I was able to make changes in my behavior, which advanced my career. In turn, I was able to help her network and give her advice on business practices and relationships. Overall, it was a win-win situation. We both learned a lot from each other and were successful business partners.

A short time later I attended Steve Gutzler’s workshop (noted above).  It was like a light bulb went off for me.  Better stated, the IQ side of my head finally understood the EQ importance.  Perhaps it was because I am an introvert, perhaps it is because I placed a lot of emphasis on results instead of relationships, or perhaps it just took a hard headed guy a while to get it.  Whatever it was, it helped me truly understand the value of relationships and people.  A friend of mine once said, “people do business with people.”  This phrase stuck with me then and stays with me today.

So now you may be wondering what happened the second time we worked together? Overall, it was great.  We had very little conflict or confusion.  We were able to keep different parts of our lives in their proper area.  We were also able to intermix our different personas much more effectively.  This time I felt like it was a great success.

What was different?  I credit it to better understanding the Emotional Intelligent side of me and allowing my EQ to become more influential in my professional life.

I personally believe that if we all let our true selves out a bit more and understand other people’s true selves, we will always work better together.  We will be kinder to one another, work harder for one another, better support each other, and ensure success for each other as a team.  Whether it is a family member at home or a colleague at work, I believe treating everyone with a good measure of emotional intelligence can make all the difference for the company to succeed!

The 5 Minute Difference

Life is busy. It seems that each year it gets busier. I stop and smell the roses and the seasons have already changed and the roses are gone. There is so much to do. I must go, go, go. It is all important stuff, right? I can’t drop a ball or let anything fall between the chairs. People are depending on me.

How many of us have felt like this? I imagine all of us to some degree or measure. We all react differently to these situations. Some people do it all, perhaps cutting corners. Some people let things fail and then are overly critical of themselves, and then some just give up and don’t try. So how do people really balance the busy?

Perhaps it is just 5 minutes. 5 minutes to:

  • Brainstorm and do blue sky thinking
  • Plan out the day and all of your work
  • Prioritize and decide what not to do or what to delay
  • To finish what you are doing and ensure it is always done in high quality

I remember growing up my mom would ask if I know the difference between a good job and a great job…5 minutes.

I guess that what I learned as a child can be completely relevant to what I do in business. And maybe, just maybe I can enjoy the roses this next go round.