Sunday, February 21, 2016

Looking for a Good Book (or 3)?

Plowed through 3 books recently. All enjoyable and for different reasons. Thought I'd share if you are looking for a good read.

E-A Novel
What makes this so clever is that the entire book is written as a series of emails. Every single thing is an email. The novel unfolds as you see the intra-office politics played out via emails that are bcc'd, cc'd, and forwarded. If you work in an email intensive office, you'll love this.

The Circle
Obviously our lives have been changed dramatically by social media (heck, it's why I have a job, right?)  This book is a look at what happens if we continue along one path of continued sharing.  It's pretty intense and reminds us of the need to strike a balance between sharing and privacy in a stark, powerful way.

How the Mighty Fall
A bit more traditional business book, but a great study by one of the authors of Good to Great and Built to Last.  In this book, he examines the 5 stages through which great companies go as they descend into irrelevance. Some lessons for all of us so we can identify the warning signs..and some advice on how to avoid it.

Think: Kodak, Polaroid, Compaq, and others.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Story of How I Arrived at Sprinklr

I was asked by the People Development team at Sprinklr to share some of my experiences for others in the company.  I thought it might be fun/illustrative to share it here. 

Perhaps not. Let me know.

Feedback welcome.

What do you currently do at Sprinklr? 
I'm currently the VP of Marketing. I'm responsible for global field marketing, marketing operations, analyst relations, partner marketing, events, and marketing for the Advertising business unit. 

 Where did you start out? How has your career grown?
I started out as the VP of Marketing over 4 years ago, so I suppose you shouldn't really take much advice from me as clearly I haven't been able to get promoted since then.

What's been remarkable in that time, however, is that when I started I was the only person in marketing, Sprinklr had 30 people, and we had no brand awareness or reputation of any consequence.  

The amount of skills I have picked up across the entire marketing spectrum is mind-boggling to me. 

My career has grown because with every single day, I have had the opportunity to take on new challenges and new opportunities.  The single most important element is that I've been surrounded by people who courageously gave me constructive criticism in order to make Sprinklr and me better.

That's actually been a hallmark of my career at every step. I live and die by my professional and personal network. I am always trying to meet new people, ask them questions, and understand their worldview. Then, I try and keep in touch with them in a passionate and genuine way so that I can learn from them over time.

One thing I've done for over 20 years now is to call people on their birthday. I make about 1800 calls a year. It gives me a chance to keep in touch, but also helps me understand how they see the world.  By hearing all of these different voices--and reading a ton--I feel like I have a respectable understanding of how the world is changing. That prepares me to do my job better and adapt to change quickly.

 What path & opportunities have you taken? How did you get them?

My professional career began in Tokyo. I dropped out of graduate school to join a company doing what we might now call "Digital Marketing."  After doing that for a year, I moved to New York to join an e-commerce start-up during Internet 1.0. I worked in sales for 2 years. 

After 2 years of that, I left to start my own company with my brother. After the Internet 1.0 bubble crashed, we raised $500,000 and ran our company for two years.

Eventually, I moved to Washington, DC where I live now. I worked at Microsoft for 6 years, doing mostly marketing for the partner community.

One day, I was sitting in a meeting with about 25 people in Redmond, WA. We were going around the table sharing ideas of how we could do marketing better and I suggested that we use something called "Facebook."  There was a guy there...we'll call him B*** since that's his name...who said "Facebook? That's the craziest idea I ever heard. We don't control the platform. It's built on a competing technology. We can't do that. It's a stupid idea."

I walked out of the room feeling a bit embarrassed and also recognizing that although Microsoft had been very successful for a long time, their view of the future of marketing and mine were very different. So, soon thereafter, I decided to quit and start my own consulting firm.

I called it "Never Stop Marketing," which I like to say is not just a company, but a mantra and a way of life.

The focus was on helping clients understand not just that social media was here to stay but on HOW the world (and marketing) would change because of its arrival.  I started doing that and the best part was 2 years later when Microsoft called me to hire me to teach their marketers how to do it.

How did you get or what led you to your current role?
It was through my work for Microsoft that one of the attendees in a class said to me, "you know, I have a friend named Ragy Thomas. He says a lot of the same things you do. You guys should talk."

I still remember the day that Ragy called me (and where I was) when he called me. I answered the phone and he didn't even introduce himself. He just said, "Hey Jeremy....I read your blog. It's brilliant. You need to come work for me.'

And I was thinking..."this guy is crazy" (and I was right about that).  I said, "you don't understand...I have a pretty good gig here. I make great money, get to travel around the world, or I get to stay at home, wear shorts, and walk my kids to school in the morning."  

He said..."YOU don't understand. I'm going to build the next big enterprise software company."

The "You don't understand," "No, YOU don't understand" went back and forth for about 4 months until one day I went to New York and met with him in the office on 30th Street.

I saw the platform and fell in love...well, it was profile properties and profile tagging to be exact, and I said, "ok, this guy has figured out how to scale what I've been talking about."

He said, "there are a lot of marketers our there, but none of them who understand Social. I need someone who does. I need you."

I agreed, went home, told my wife that I was taking a 70% pay cut, and shut down my business.  Been here ever since.

What's your advice for people who want a role like yours? 

There are a few things I would say.

1. Always, always, always grow and cultivate your network of a genuine way. No matter what, it is people who make the world go round.

2. Read a ton about anything you can. Never stop learning.

3. Change is the only constant in your life and your career.  It's FAR better to force the change upon yourself than to have it forced upon you.  Practice adapting to change by seeking it out instead of being afraid of it.

4. Take smart risks. That's the best and fastest way to learn new skills which you can apply.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

On the road to State #49...

It may not be a lofty goal, but it is one nonetheless. Visit all 50 states (airports DO NOT count).

I've got 48. Here's the most recent one.

The schedule for 49 (Nebraska) is set. End of March. With my dad. We're going to see the sandhill crane migration.

I'll keep you posted.

#50 is, appropriately enough, Hawaii.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

End of the Jewish-American Golden Era?

I vividly recall a conversation I had with Josh Feigelson  around the year 2000. In it, we acknowledged that as Jews in America, we just might be living in the absolute high point of Jewish history.

Religious freedoms were guaranteed and protected (still are). As a community, by and large, a degree of economic security had been obtained. Socially, there were no repercussions to being Jewish within urban upper middle class or upper class demographic groups.

In short, Jews who had come of age in the 80s and 90s were living in a true Golden Era of safety and security.

That was then....

Fast forward 16 years and the picture is very different.

While much of those characteristics remain, it's pretty clear that a strong wind of anti-Semitism (disguised as anti-Zionism) is gathering force across America.

It's beginning on college campuses where the demonization and delegitimization of Israel as the Jewish state is becoming part of acceptable discourse.  What's more, those who disagree, are intimidated and threatened. (See ADL report on SJP, for one).

That's not a good sign for the future of Jews or the future of the Republic, I might add.

It's becoming acceptable, if not cool/desirable, to hate on Israel and the Jews who support her right to existence.

Some of the challenges, for many of us who grew up in the Golden Era, are:

  • do we have the strength and wherewithal to ensure that the ideals that the US and Israel share are protected and cherished?
  • can we help the "masses in the middle" understand that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism and that it's very existence is the hatred against which most of us stand?

I believe we do...though it may take some growing pains.

While the anti-Israel movement is trying to coopt the language of America, freedom, and liberty... I think it has many flaws.

The flaws need to be exposed and I hope, for my kids and for America's sake, tha we can.

Want more? Watch this video. Riveting.

Monday, February 01, 2016

The Night the NYPD Broke Up My Bachelor Party

Last night, I visited the Russian & Turkish Baths on E. 10th St. in NYC with my bud, Adam Schorr.

It was the first time I had been there in 15 years, so I had cause to reminisce with him about my
previous visit..the night of my bachelor party.

My brothers were excited about the idea of a Bachelor Party, but we knew we wanted to do something different.

So, around 3 in the afternoon (it was a Tuesday, I think), we invited anyone who could to join us for 2 hours or so for a "shvitz," a visit to the saunas (there are many of them).

I'm a big fan of saunas and we ended up with maybe 7 or 8 people who joined us for that part.  From there, we walked all the way up to West 72nd and Broadway where another 10 people or so joined us for sushi.

Finally, the party ended up on 112th St. in the apartment into which the NFO and I would be living.

Now this apartment was one that lifelong New Yorkers would tell you is one of the most impressive apartments they had ever seen.

There was a staircase from within the apartment up to a private section of the roof. I would work up there, hang out, read. Heck, we built a Sukkah up there.

Thanks to Google Earth, you can see it yourself.

Anyway, by this point, there were 20 or so guys and it was 11pm or so.  My pal, Rabbi Shu Eliovson, somehow materialized with his bongo drum and everyone is hanging out on the roof, chatting, having a few beers (nothing crazy, I promise you! I'm not joking) and having a good time.

That is until two of New York's Finest show up from one of the other doors on the roof and tell us that, since it's past midnight, we probably need to stop the party.

Fortunately, there was no resisting arrest and there were no arrests. The party dispersed amicably and those who needed to, slept in an apartment that, as I recall, didn't have properly working heat...but that's another story.

Anyway...if you have interest in going to the saunas with me, let me know. We'll keep the cops out of it, I promise. ;-)