Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sprinklr's New CMO: Why I'm More than "OK"

Many of my friends and colleagues saw the announcement that Sprinklr has hired a new CMO.

They have asked me, "are you ok with this?"

I certainly am touched and appreciate the concern, but I wanted to share that not only am I ok with it, I am ecstatic about it.

Here's why.

When I joined Sprinklr in January 2012, the company was valued at just about $20 million. I was employee #30.

I WAS the marketing department.

At the time, Sprinklr was one of 30 contenders (if not more) in the burgeoning social media management space. We had no brand awareness and certainly weren't considered the leader (how could we be? No one knew us).

From that time, until the moment when I handed over the reins to my new boss, we grew to a company with 900 employees, valued at $1.5 billion.

In those 3.5 years, we finished #1 in 7 different analyst reports from places like Forrester and IDC.

We grew from a handful of brands as clients to over 1,000. Now, we have offices in 10 countries. We executed hundreds of campaigns and built out a scalable engine for generating and measuring demand.

The marketing team of one grew to a marketing team of more than 30. Everyone in the industry knows who Sprinklr is and everyone knows we are the Leader.

Now, I certainly did not do it alone.

In fact, I often say that "if people want to confuse causation and correlation, that's fine with me." Still, I'm proud of the work we did and much of what I did.  I also know that I put in a ton of effort.

But I also know that the skill set required to lead a marketing team as a company grows in valuation from $20mm to $1.5bn in 3 years is VERY different from the skill set that is required to lead a marketing team as a company grows in valuation from $1.5bn to $10bn+.

Not better or worse. Just different.

I also know that at the young age of 42, there's a TON about marketing that I still need to learn. A TON.

Most people don't work at companies that grow at 300% per year (for 3 years in a row), so it's not easy to understand the rate of change that Sprinklr has undergone.

What Sprinklr needs now for us to realize our destiny is someone who has the requisite skill set to get us there.  I don't have the moment and there's no shame in admitting that.

That's not to say that I don't have any value that I can meaningfully contribute to the organization. I believe I do.

Even better...I get to learn at the side of someone who has more experience and a different skill set. It's like going to business school, but you're getting paid instead. A much better deal.

And we get to continue to lead Sprinklr to its next level of evolution.

So, you see, that's why I'm not only "OK" with having a new boss, I'm pumped up about it.

Plus, now, when someone says to me, "hey, I think Marketing should do X...", I get to say, "great, go tell Tom."

Friday, June 05, 2015

Definitive Guide to My Self-Proclaimed Titles

As it has come up recently, I wanted to just document what my various titles are and where they are applicable in the world.

Where Applicable
Count von Epstein
Europe and Silver Spring, MD
Senator Epstein
St. Louis
Jer Bear


Yes, I know I live in some sort of alternate reality, but hey…why not have some fun, right?

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Why I’m the JerBear…at Sprinklr

Given my penchant for nicknames in my personal life, it probably won’t come as a surprise to you that I’ve rolled this over to my professional life. In fact, on the Sprinklr marketing team, we kind of view it as a rite of passage.
Managers are given 1 month from a new employee’s start date to hand down the nickname, which is then listed in their official email signature.
Yes, you read that correctly.                                                                                    
Now, I’m pretty firm on what constitutes a good nickname (documented here), but the basic idea is that you should not be able to figure out immediately how the person’s nickname is connected to their actual name. Otherwise, it’s not really a nickname, more a term of endearment.
What may surprise you is that we’ve discovered that there is immense value in having a nickname in your email signature. Call it the ROI of the Nickname.
I’ve had some of my team members report that they have received responses from potential customers simply based on the fact that the nickname was a part of their email. It indicated that Sprinklr is a different type of company.
We’ve also had an article published in FORBES about it.
However, when it came time for my nickname…the rules were kind of suspended.
One of my peers started calling me “JerBear,” a moniker which then spread to my team.
They decided that they wanted to call me that because, as they said, “a teddy bear is cute, cuddly, and warm…it’s everything you’re not.”
Clearly, I have some emotional intelligence work to do, but that’s a different blog post.
While it’s not really a nickname, per se, I decided that I would embrace it…so it now sits in my email signature.
And now, I have clients, analysts, board members, reporters…and more…all calling me “JerBear.”
It’s a conversation starter—a chance to talk about our philosophy at Sprinklr…and an ice-breaker.

So, at Sprinklr…they call me “Jer Bear.” 

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

And Why I'm a Count in Europe...and Maryland

Continuing on with the explanation of the multiple hats I try to wear...mainly to just amuse and entertain myself.

Given the history of the Epstein family and how we were cheated out of some money by one Count von Eppstein, I figured that the least I can do to restore the family honor is not just take the family name, but the title as well.

Hence, in Germany (and by extension the rest of Europe), I go by "Count."

And, in my neighborhood when parents ask me what their kids should call me, (e.g. "Jeremy" or "Mr. Epstein"), I tell them "neither. Have them call me 'Count'."

One funny story (at least I think it is funny) occurred a few years ago when I was head of the technology committee for the synagogue.

I got a call about a technical issue and discovered that the financial database had been corrupted. So, I went in to repair it.

Once I had, I needed to verify that all the data was working properly. I didn't think it was appropriate for me to look at other people's financial records, but I figured I could look at my own.

So, I went into my account and changed our titles from Mr. and Mrs. Epstein to Count and Countess von Epstein.

For 3 years, all of the mailings from the synagogue to our home were addressed to 'Count and Countess von Epstein."

Monday, June 01, 2015

And Why I'm A Canada

When Tonka was 6 months old, we were invited to a wedding in Toronto.  I dutifully went on line, secured the reservation for the hotel, and didn't think much about it.

I will admit that I did have some fun along the way. When making the reservation, the drop down menu (because it was Canada) didn't have the standard Dr./Mr./Ms. etc. Instead, there were 25 different options or know, British Commonwealth stuff.

Being the marketer that I am, I knew that most of this info sits in a database and is never really accessed, so I figured it didn't matter which title I I picked "Senator."

Then, I moved on.

A few weeks prior the wedding, the NFO asked me if I had secured a crib for Tonka. I hadn't, so I sent a note to the hotel asking that they make sure we have one in the room.

I returned home one afternoon and the NFO told me that the General Manager of the hotel had called.

"He was so nice," she said.

"Well, you know those Canadians," I replied.

"He said that when we checked in, we should be sure to let him know that we are there and that he would like to come greet us."

"Hmmm...that seems excessive...even for Canadians."

A few minutes later, I came back to the NFO and said, "you know, I wonder if there's any connection between his attitude and the fact that I wrote 'Senator' when I made the reservation?"

Naturally, the NFO was mortified.

When we checked in, I was wearing sandals, shorts, and a Grateful Dead t-shirt...and discovered that our room had been upgraded and we had a fruit plate waiting for us.

That's why, at least in Canada, I go by the title "Senator"...which goes nicely with my honorary Canadian status.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Why can’t non-doctors be “on call?” They can. Here’s how I plan to do it.

I recently was chatting with a family where the husband is a physician.
They were invited to a wedding in another city and the wife and one of the kids were going…but not the husband because he was scheduled to be “on call” that weekend.
I joked that it was just as well because he probably didn’t want to go anyway…and, well, I wasn’t too far off. In fact, I was spot on.
I started musing about how convenient the “on call” excuse is for doctors. The equivalent of the “get out of jail free” card for pretty much any social obligation.
It’s like that Larry David/Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where he uses the “death in the family” excuse…but with a lot less baggage or fall out.
But, wait a second…I work in an industry that is also 24/7, right?
I mean a client could have a social media crisis at pretty much any hour of the day and, if they do, they need us to support them, don’t you?
I’ve had nights doing exactly that until 2am.
So, in essence, many of my teammates at Sprinklr and I are also “on call.”
I don’t work in a 9-5 job. My day doesn’t end at any point. The whole premise of Sprinklr is that customers are connected and empowered and engage with large companies when and where they choose. These companies…and the companies like Sprinklr (oh wait, there aren’t any companies like Sprinklr! ;-)) need to be able to respond anytime and anywhere.

Yep, that’s it. I’m “on call” by default unless I’m specifically not.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Fitbit, Smartphones, and an Integrated Work Environment

At Sprinklr, we don’t talk about “work/life balance.” Instead, we talk about “an integrated life.”

More than 60% of the company works from home and our CEO often says, “look we have all of these tools and technologies to make us efficient from various places, let’s use them.”

If you think about it, the very premise of Sprinklr is that the arrival of the connected and empowered customer changes everything…and this includes how we work.

How I Live the Integrated Lifestyle

I was a big runner but suffered a foot injury which prevented me from continuing that activity. Until that point, however, I would often send a note to the CEO (my boss) and my team saying “hey, going out for a run, I’ll be back in an hour.”  This was at 11am or 2pm or whenever.

When you’re an outcome and not an activity focused company, you can do this.

Similarly, I’d say, “I’m taking this call while driving carpool,” or “I’m about to go watch my son’s baseball game” or whatever.

Since my foot injury, I was walking on the treadmill, which was fine. I’d watch Netflix or TED talks. It was good, but not great.

Then, my wife got me a Fitbit and being the competitive guy that I am, I enjoyed tracking my progress against my friends and motivating them (and vice versa) to walk more.

So, I started looking for more opportunities to walk.

I’m always taking the stairs now. I’ll walk from the parking lot to the terminal instead of taking the shuttle.

But the real breakthrough came when I looked at all of the phone calls I was on during the day. 

I have a lot of the 20 minute “catch up/check in” variety where being in front of a computer isn’t required. Maybe some notes, a few emails, etc., but I discovered that I could take all of the calls I had to do like that and compress them in a 2 hour window on most days.

And during that 2 hour window, I walk outside of my house, across the street to a great regional park (full of trees and paths and gardens), with my phone and a headset and just walk and talk.


What happened was remarkable.

Not only am I more focused on the calls (I’m not distracted by the email or Skype on the computer in front of me) and able to address the issues more efficiently, but my blood is flowing and my brain is more alert.

So, I walk 7 or 8 miles while doing the conference calls that I have to do anyway, during which I normally would be standing or sitting in my office (and possibly eating).

Now, I’m out in nature, I’m getting exercise, I’m more focused on the person on the other end of the call…and I’m totally connected.

I’ve participated in (see our case study) presentations, Skype video calls, looked at Google docs, and more…all while walking.

Obviously, there are some times when I have to be in front of a machine (if I’m giving the presentation or have to do serious creative work), but by aligning my calls into a specified block of time, having my smartphone, and the motivator of the Fitbit, 

I’m able to integrate exercise w/work in an organic way and be more efficient.

A St. Louis

I’m the Godfather…in St. Louis

I was very fortunate during my time in Japan to have some great friends in Rabbi Carnie and Paulie Rose. 

After we all returned to the US, we kept in touch.

Thirteen years ago, after the birth of their 3rd child, they asked if the NFO and I would be the Godparents to their son.

Now, the concept of “Godparents” is not super common about members of the tribe, so I asked what he meant.

He explained that it was important to him that each of his kids would have a non-parent adult whom they knew their parents trusted, but were not their parents and of whom they could ask questions, seek advice, etc.

That did make a lot of sense to me, so I agreed…on one condition.

“What’s that?” Carnie asked.

“The kid has to call me ‘Godfather.’”

And he does.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Solo Mothering and the Role of Men

I'm sure it has been going on for a while in larger society, but I'm only noticing it now because it is happening among my age cohort.

In the past few months, I've had 3 female friends in their late 30s/early 40s who elected to have children on their own.

All of them wanted to become moms, had spent time unsuccessfully looking for the so-called "Mr. Right" (as the NFO knows full well, he doesn't exist), were successful professional women, and ultimately chose to embark upon the adventure solo.

Again, this is probably nothing new for many people who follow this issue closely, but it made me think about the long-term role (or even need) for men in the child-rearing process.

I'd like to think there's some value, but it's obvious that for women it's now a question of "if" in terms of whether she wants a man to be involved.

I wonder if the age at which women choose this route will get increasingly younger or are there other factors involved?

(For example, you would need to be established financially as an individual which might take longer).

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Why I call 1800 people per year to say Happy Birthday

Honored that my friend, Marty Isaac, who now runs HooplaHa offered to do this story.

So, if I've ever called you on your birthday, now you know why.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Is Runway Model my next career?

Today,  Sprinklr hosted an event at ASOS, the leading online fashion retailer in the UK. After the event, I had a chance to strut my stuff on the catwalk.

Next career?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Why Father's Day Reinforces Gender Inequality

Stemming from a conversation I had with Jacob Licht...

While it is certainly nice that we have a culture that celebrates the contributions of Fathers (witness the recent spate of Super Bowl ads about dads), I think the movement seeking to address gender inequality issues should take aim at Father's Day.

The goal should either be the elimination or, more likely, the relegation of the day to a more minor status.

The problem with Father's Day is that it is put on the same level as Mother's Day. This implies that Mothers and Fathers should be equally revered and that the contribution of men and women are equal.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The contribution of women far exceeds that of men.

As Jacob pointed out (roughly paraphrasing):

The relative Return on Investment of the effort exerted by the woman or the man to earn the relevant title is complete disproportionate.

For a mother, while the end result is worth it, the process is full of sweat, pain, blood, and a ton of labor, literally.

For a father, however, it is a few minutes of work that he would gladly do again.

It's really not equal.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Ode to Mother-in-Law

Being that tomorrow is Mother's Day, I figured I'd give a shout out to my mother-in-law who, I think, is the best mother-in-law one could ask for.

I've met guys who have the stereotypical relationship with their mothers-in-law, e.g. they are criticized and second-guessed.

I don't have that at all. In fact, the opposite.

My MIL basically leaves me alone most of the time.

Then, when she comes to visit, she takes care of my kids-thereby relieving me of responsibility and saving me time. What's more, she brings me highly personalized gifts (usually books) that are always on target.

I definitely scored well in that department.

See what I mean? ;-)

Happy Mother's Day to my MIL.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

And my #1 favorite thing about Japan....

The toilets. Hands down.

Heated seats...and more. I think I need to get one.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Parenting Lesson Learned

Paco was going on a field trip that involved a 2 hour bus trip each way.  He asked me if he could take my iPad.

I was initially very reluctant, for two reasons.

  1. I felt like it was unnecessary given that he was going to be with his friends for the entire time and that, well, in my day, we didn't have iPads to "keep us from getting bored."
  2. I was assuming all of the risk for the damages and I wanted him to figure out a way to address my concerns.
After some aggressive lobbying by a key advocate (aka the NFO) on his behalf, we arrived at an agreement and he was able to take it.

Around 4pm, I get an iMessage from Paco

And then he proceeded to give me a play-by-play account of what was going on.

In fact, 2 minutes later, the NFO calls me and says 'I just heard that one of the buses broke down, but I don't know if Paco is on it." [Note: she doesn't actually call him that.]

"He is," I responded. 

"How do you know that?"

And I explained that I was getting real-time updates from my reporter on the scene, almost like a Twitter feed, that was beating the information being sent out by email via the school.

A classic disintermediation due to disruptive technology.

And, of course, I had to tell him how right I was for my forethought.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Who is "Gusto?"

As you may know, I have a propensity for nicknames. A lot of them.  Even now for Paco's friends in the 4th grade.

They are Chuckdog, Vito, Frankie, Tony, Hunter, and Stefan. And believe me...those are a long way from those kids' actual names ;-)

Anyway...the other day, I saw Paco in the youth groups at our synagogue through the window.  He was actively participating.

As I reported back to the NFO at lunchtime, with Paco present, "yes, he was in groups. He was praying with gusto."

To which Paco (aka Jokinen) said: "who's Gusto?"

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Skills, Network, Challenges Career Path

When I was 18 and opted to take German in college, one of the reasons I decided to do so because I looked at the state of the world economy and thought, “well, if Germany is the largest economy in Europe, it probably can’t hurt to learn that language.”

And, after college when the opportunity came up to go to Japan, I thought, “well, Japan is the 2nd largest economy in the world [it was at the time], that could be useful one day.”

What I didn’t realize is that it’s more than the language, it’s the culture and history of the countries that help you really work within those environments.

In my Never Stop Marketing days, I was able to travel to both Germany and Japan to provide services to clients.

And, now, as Sprinklr expands globally, those same skill investments I made over 20 years ago are paying off.

In February, I was in Germany as part of the SAP partnership we have and in April, I visited Japan to help the Sprinklr Japan team get off the ground.

(And, heck, in the middle, I went to Israel-keeping the Hebrew fresh.)

It’s been rewarding and exciting to see how this part of my life/career has played out to date.

Same goes for the combined 3 years I spent living in those 2 countries. Not only did it help me learn the languages and cultures of those particular places, but it served to expand and enrich my ability to function in any foreign environment.

In a globalized world, that’s obviously a good thing.

When people ask me about “career path,” I cast it aside. I don’t think a “career path” exists. How could I have predicted the rise of Facebook, Twitter, etc. 15 years ago?

What I tell them is this:
·      Focus on building your skills. Develop new ones because you never know when they will come in handy.

·      Focus on building your network.  People whom I met 20 years ago (and stayed in touch with for genuine, non-selfish reasons [that is the key] end up being great resources for you in unexpected ways.

·      Take on big challenges: No one likes to feel like they failed or might fail, but forcing yourself to do new things that may fail is a skill in and of itself.  It’s better to force the change on yourself than have the change forced upon you. It’s Darwinian. Need to be able to adapt.

Anyway, I’m writing this on the plane back from Japan and I suppose I’m a bit reflective right now.

And inspired.

Now, it’s time to think about “what are the skills I am going to need 20 years down the road to stay relevant?”

I don’t know for sure, of course, but I do know that it involves looking at the larger trends and following the skills, network, challenge approach.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Still more things I love about Japan...

How you have the name of the counter agent at ANA airlines. So personal.

And the famous Hachiko statue...
See the movie. Even the one with Richard Gere is good.

Reconnecting with Old Friends...

Thanks to the power of social/digital media, we're all blessed with the possibility of reconnecting with friends from another time and era.

While it could be sometimes construed as awkward (not for me, but so I'm told), I find that seeing people in person after 5, 10, or 15 years (which is why I have so much fun at reunions) gives you a chance to reflect on who you were, where you are, and have someone help remind you of things that influenced your path.

In this case, I had a chance to see Petras (with whom I worked at Fact Communications in Tokyo) and whom I hadn't seen in 17 years, Jim Weisser (who I saw 5 years ago, but knew from 17 years ago) and Brent (who was at Int'l University of Japan) with me.

I would encourage you...even if it's only for 20 minutes/coffee, next time you are traveling somewhere, make the effort and reconnect with a friend from a past life.

With Brent Mori...

With Jim "Bud" Weisser...

With Petras Petroskevicius 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

More Things I Love About Japan

Koi Ponds

Best Vending Machines On the Planet

Got to love those organized, disciplined lines at train stations.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Things I Love About Japan

I'll tell you...some things that the Japanese confound the heck out of me. But, at the same time, I don't think there's a country that is more customer-focused in the world. That's just a part of it.  Here are a few things that I just love about the way things are done here...and some that I could do without.

More to come.

They have chargers for your phone in taxis.

 The order of the numbers in the elevators is pretty straightforward.

People line up for the subways (there are lines on the platform) and wait patiently for everyone to exit.

On the other hand, the subways are pretty packed and there's not a lot of personal space.

And anyone who knows the country, knows that the names of products are somewhat unique...but entertaining nonetheless.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

How a Car Mechanic Can Earn Trust

We've all been there (well, maybe most of us have). Your car is broken down in an unfamiliar locale and you have to confront the fact that you are at a mega-disadvantage when it comes to your relative level of knowledge vis a vis the mechanics.

It is my hope/belief that the arrival of technologies such as social, mobile, and user-generated content sites will change that.

Part of that is making sure that people know you are holding them accountable.  Here's how I did it with Elite Automotive in Potomac, MD. Their willingness to go on video showed me their trustworthiness and then, of course, I validated it with my trusted mechanic (unless they are in cahoots with each other :)

Seriously, these guys were great and I highly recommend them...even when your car isn't broken.

Enjoy the videos

And afterwards

Thursday, April 16, 2015

LOVE Starbucks...How my son got to mop the floor, literally

How can you not love the amazing commitment to customer satisfaction by Nick at the Cabin John Starbucks?

My car's radiator blew out so we ended up being stuck for about 3 hours. I got a coffee, got him a hot chocolate and we sat down for the long wait. I gave him a copy of the paper, but he quickly got restless, saying "I need to DO something."

Right about that time, Nick comes over and says, "I hope you guys don't mind, but I am going to mop now."

So I said, "hey, my son needs something to do, he'll do the mopping for you."

And Nick said, "ok!"

So, he let me do some mopping.

Boy happy. Father relieved.

And SBUX delivers yet another great customer experience!

Don't worry, Starbucks, Nick eventually took over and did the job perfectly!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

For the college sports fans out there...

I happened to catch part of SportsCenter last night when I saw that Providence beat Boston U in the NCAA "Frozen Four" to win the national title.

Now, normally, I wouldn't care, but seeing as I had also seen SportsCenter a few nights ago (now you get my viewing habits) when they had a guest appearance by Jack Eichel who was the player of the year.

So, it led me to thinking...

  • Boston U had the player of the year in hockey and they lost in the championship game
  • Wisconsin had the player of the year in college basketball and they lost in the championship game
  • Oregon had the Heisman winner (same thing) and they lost in the championship game
So, I was curious if this tri-fecta had every occurred before and, if so, when?

ESPN...what say you?