Monday, June 29, 2015

Observations and Reflections on #LoveWins

I think we can all agree how remarkably fast the country has moved to accepting same sex marriage.  It feels unprecedented.

In reflecting over the weekend, I had a few comments that I wanted to share. 

Would #Love your input.

How Powerful Social Technologies Are
The change may have been inevitable, however, to me, the speed of the change is a further sign of the global impact that connective technologies (social networks and mobile phones) are having on every aspect of life.

Most of the time, I focus on the impact of businesses, but this is another example along with Arab Spring, Hong Kong protests, and more of what happens when people can directly connect with each other at basically zero cost.

I highly doubt we would have seen this movement grow as far or as wide in a pre-Facebook/Twitter/blog era.

The Marketing of #LoveWins
Simply’s brilliant. I mean, how can you be for “Love Losing?” And who hates rainbows?

The combination of a position that is solidly defensible and a “visual hammer” that resonates with everybody--Those two things, I suspect, were key levers in bringing the “non-committed” center to the side of the Gay Rights movement.

There’s probably a much longer post here, but the hashtag and the imagery were masterful.

It is ironic that the rainbow itself plays an important role in the rebirth of the world following the Biblical Noah story.

Large Brands Joining In
It was fascinating to see the number of large companies that turned their logos to rainbows.  I certainly don’t recall this for any other type of movement (certainly not one that polarized many—i.e. no one is against the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge).

What’s Next for Gay Rights?
I found myself wondering about that.

Obviously, there’s plenty of work to do in terms of employment discrimination, etc., but we’re clearly past the “tipping point” of large scale societal acceptance. 

Do “Pride” parades/weeks become a thing of a past at some point? 

If being gay is as normal as being hetero, do you have need to celebrate the “pride” in otherness or will it fade away as something that is unique?

Just wondering.

Turn the Eye to International
If there is a place to focus the energy and momentum of Gay Rights, I hope it is in the international sphere.  On the same day that the ruling came down from the Supreme Court, there were attacks on 3 continents by radical Islamists. They—and countries such as Oman, Saudi Arabia, Iran—not only disapprove of homosexuals, they kill them.

Even the most virulent anti-gay marriage person in the US doesn’t advocate for public beheadings.

I hope the considerable energy will be focused on making those societies more open and tolerant.  They need it.

How does this impact religious institutions?
First amendment notwithstanding, I wonder what impact all of this will have on churches, synagogues, and mosques (plus others) where traditionally homosexuality is not consistent with their worldview.

While the government may not do anything to infringe, will people be castigated if they are members of a religious institution that, for example, denies membership to a married gay couple because it is inconsistent with their beliefs?

I certainly wouldn’t want all Catholics or Orthodox Jews to be labeled as bigots.

Is the Supreme Court’s ruling not even debatable? An Ironic Hint of Intolerance
It’s one thing to be pro-Gay Rights/marriage.

It’s another thing to speculate as to whether it is the right of the Supreme Court to make this decision (versus allowing it to be decided by the states).

For example, here’s an interesting video.

Judging from my Facebook/Twitter feed, it seems that everyone I know is 100% in favor of the ruling.

What I can’t tell is if that’s the case or if those who have concerns (either social or legal) are too afraid to state them.

Even leaving aside those with social concerns and just focusing on those with legal/constitutional concerns, I suspect that people don’t want to be labeled as “bigots,” “haters,” or “intolerant” for questioning if the Court overreached.

There is a great irony in being labeled intolerant for even asking the question.

At the far reaches of this, I was particularly appalled by one person in my feed, who said, “if you disagree with this ruling, de-friend me now,” without leaving open any reason for WHY someone might disagree.

And then, from a late 20-something part-time actor who basically said that Chief Justice John Roberts is an idiot when it comes to Constitutional Law.

It struck me as the height of arrogance and hubris.

The last thing we need is for the newly empowered to forget the feeling of oppression and begin to persecute those who disagree with them, when the disagreement stems from a position of intellectual curiosity and debate.

It’s obviously one of those watershed moments in US history which will have ramifications for years to come.

Curious about your reaction.

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.