Hiring UX Designer 2016

I am starting my search for a UX Designer to join our team at Engagio. I actually prefer people in the earlier stages of their career. (Directors need not apply)

Designer Characteristics:

  1. Creative. Can come up with new solutions to problems.
  2. OCD. Does it bother you that their is a mistake in this question?
  3. Productive. We have a lot to do. Lots of context switching and multi-tasking.
  4. Concise.
  5. Confident. This position will have interactions with lots of people, including executives.
  6. Positive. It’s not personal; it’s always about the work.
  7. Special. A parent or loved one must vouch for you.
  8. Smart. Knows designing is hard work.
  9. Eloquent. Can explain why.
  10. Clever. Can come up with a witty retort to this list.

Job Characteristics:

  1. Deliver engineering specs. Engineering needs to know what to build. This is your responsibility. Don’t count on PM to do all the detail work. UX Design owns these engineering specs.
  2. UX is not just UI. User Interface Design, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Graphic Design and even Curriculum Design are all part of user experience and this job entails all of them at some points.
  3. Iterating with Engineers. This isn’t an Ivory Tower department. We sit right in the middle of engineers and help drive a project to the highest possible quality in collaboration with engineers and other various groups.

When applying, please include a link to your website.

Hint: I am actually going to judge your design ability by what your website looks like. Don’t skimp on your own site.

About Engagio
We are a small but growing startup in downtown San Mateo. Engagio makes SaaS B2B software for sales, marketing and account management. Products include:

Account-Based Platform matches Leads to the right Account; identifies which accounts are engaging (MQAs); and aggregates account insights (Scout) to serve as the foundation for ABM.

ABM Analytics shows the impact of Account Based Marketing efforts with account-centric awareness, engagement and impact metrics that matter.

PlayMaker orchestrates cross-channel interactions across sales, marketing and customer success to engage accounts with personalized and timely human touchpoints.

Engagio is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Apply Now!

Disturbing Trends

Not all trends are bad, but some really scare me. For example:

Congress is supposed to pass laws. It’s kind of their job. I suppose I would rather no laws than terrible laws, but still, this is a disturbing trend.

How about this one?

The top 1% is earning more and more of the pie that is supposed to be shared. This trend got it’s first huge boost under Bill Clinton. Look at how the disparity is increasing below.

Also, the wealth is being centralized in white hands. This is not because white people are “smarter”. This is systemic bias of the economy.

But look who carries the most student loan debt…African Americans.

These trends are disturbing. We are also putting more people in jail than ever. Again, it started in the 80’s and got a huge boost under Bill Clinton.

There are so many more charts that show our society getting worse, not better. This isn’t a question of who is president. The Congress has lots of responsibility here as well.

How can we hope to reverse these trends without also reverting back to a time of racism and xenophobia? I’m not saying it’s hopeless, but it isn’t telling a very positive story so far.

Happy is not my preferred state of being

My mom asks me all the time, “Are you happy?”

I find the question to be annoying. (Sorry mom) The reason is that I don’t actually want to be “happy”. Happy to me implies blissful cow-like behavior. It implies sitting and staring at the sunset and thinking, “Gee, this is swell.” To me, it’s boring to want to be happy.

I want to be focused. I want to be filled with purpose and drive. I want to be a man on a mission.

Of course, there have been moments in my past when that purpose and drive led to a moment of joy/happiness. Wonderful days to be sure. However, those moments are the few and far between. Every day, I want to be aware and alert and moving towards my goals.

Yesterday was my 1 year anniversary of joining Engagio. People often ask, “Are you happier there than at Marketo?”  Again, I think it’s the wrong question. The right question is, “Are you more focused now than at Marketo?”  The answer is “YES, by 100x!”

I was focused at Marketo from 2007-2012. However, the last few years left me feeling unfocused, without drive and passion, rudderless. I didn’t believe in the company vision or how I personally could fit into it. This more than anything else led me away from a company I poured my heart and soul into.

At Engagio, I feel focused on a new mission. I am building a new product for new people doing new things. We chose a very ambitious scope and it will take years to fully realize it, but when we do it could change the SaaS landscape.

Happy/fulfillment is a destination. It is a momentary place. Purpose is a process, a journey. Purpose drives you. Happiness makes you stay still. Inspiration feeds purpose and purpose drives mankind forward

Ask yourself, “Do I want to be happy or do I want purpose?” Now ask yourself, “What is my mission?”  Are you happy with those answers?

Hiring a Product Manager – 2016

I just started a search for a product manager on my team at Engagio.

Smart, intuitive, empathetic, energetic, friendly, fun person who can put on a professional game face for customers and partners. Here are some additional qualities I look for.

Works well with others
A Product Manager works with engineering, sales, design, customer success, partners, prospects and customers. Did I miss anyone? Synthesising input from all of these sources into intelligent requirements is part art and part science. This is the key to success as a PM on my team.

Has long term vision and short term execution
We are building a really big thing that will take years to realize while giving strong value all along the way. We need someone who can think far ahead and translate that into an actionable game plan.

Bonus: Knowledge of SaaS Workflow
Understanding of systems like Salesforce, Eloqua, Marketo and other SaaS workflow/sales tools is a helpful.

Engagio is just under 2 years old but is already taking the market by storm. We are rapidly growing and have a huge vision for the future. Currently the team is small so you can get in on the ground floor.

Experience Requirements
Chemistry is everything. I would happily hire a smart, intuitive, empathetic, energetic, friendly, fun person who can put on a professional game face for customers and partners with no experience versus the opposite but has decades of job history.

It’s a special position for a special person. Bring your best.

The Electoral College is Bad

I’ve complained about the Electoral College before, 12 years ago. This thing doesn’t make any sense in today’s world.

From Wikipedia:

Some delegates, including James Wilson and James Madison, preferred popular election of the executive. Madison acknowledged that while a popular vote would be ideal, it would be difficult to get consensus on the proposal given the prevalence of slavery in the South:

There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to the fewest objections. – James Madison

The Convention approved the Committee’s Electoral College proposal, with minor modifications, on September 6, 1787. Delegates from the small states generally favored the Electoral College out of concern large states would otherwise control presidential elections.

So clearly, the original intent of the electoral college had alot to do with slavery. It also helped small states have extra power. Small states have incredible power compared to their bigger neighbors. They have the same number of senators, despite representing far fewer people.  Additionally, they have more than their share of congressmen and electoral college delegates.

There are tons of videos about how the electoral college sucks. Here is one:

We don’t have slavery anymore. There is no need to spend weeks to travel with your votes to a central location. We don’t need this archaic institution anymore. The popular vote is fair. People who live in small states shouldn’t have more power to elect a president than I do. We should have equal voting rights.

It’s hard to change things. Occupy Wall Street didn’t really change anything because they didn’t have concrete goals. I think it’s important to pin down specific goals and unite behind them.

7% of all presidential elections have failed the majority of voters. Al Gore and Hillary Clinton won the popular vote only to lose the electoral college. This is unacceptable. People can make a change when they are united behind a specific goal. Here is one: Abolish the Electoral College. Sign the petition below.

Election 2016

The election is over and the next President of the United States will be Donald Trump. To many people like myself, we imagine someone voting for Trump and it fills us with rage and frustration. However, with my empathy hat on, I know that the people who voted for him feel the same way about me. There is a huge gap between us.

Its tempting to imagine our electorate as a normal bell curve. Left is liberal and right is conservative.

However, the truth is that 50% of the voting public did not even vote, so this is just the top part of the curve. Also, the curve doesn’t actually look like this. It looks more like this:

There are not that many people in the middle. At least it seems that way when you watch television. You are either an ultra-liberal hippie who just wants to tax everyone and steal the money or an ultra-right wing racist nutcase who just wants to fire guns at brown people. It’s hard to tell the truth. Where does reality start and entertainment end?

It fills me with despair that I predicted this outcome in March. (Based on my Presidential Election Charisma Rule). I love Hillary, but I voted for Bernie in the primaries because I thought he had a better chance of winning. I think he would have beat Trump. I also believe Joe Biden (whom I voted for in 2012) could have beat Trump.

The problem with Hillary primarily was that she was not charismatic. She was competent and smart and would actually do a good job. Unfortunately, that is not what wins elections. We are not that bright of a people. She won the primary because of the super-delegates. This was a mistake on the democratic party. One that we will pay for dearly in the coming decades. Yes, decades because of supreme court nominations.

On the subject of polls, they were clearly way off. I don’t think I will trust a polls for a very long time. Here is my hypothesis of what happened. “Likely voters” are determined by poll data from previous elections. In this election, Trump energized a previously dormant constituency, white uneducated males. They typically don’t vote.

Remember the charts above. 50% of the chart is missing. It’s the iceberg under the water. This time, a significant portion of those people voted. They weren’t counted in the polls because they typically don’t vote. It is a real lesson in how you can change the formula by tapping into the untapped.

In the end, I am disappointed, but I understand what happened. It’s like when I design something that people find “difficult to use”. There is no use in fighting it and saying, “They are just dumb!”. I have to go back to the drawing board and make it better.

I hope the Democrats take this lesson to heart and start working on their presentation skills. If you (Democratic leadership) need some UX help, please don’t hesitate to ask.

One last thing: President Trump…please try not to start a nuclear war. It would be bad.


How are we so evenly split?

One of the strangest things in American politics is how evenly we are split between the two major parties. Look at the last few months of the popular vote between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Here is the same chart with % chance of winning

The second chart at times looks like a landslide. However, the first chart is neck and neck. This is a poll for voting for two very different candidates. Whatever your politics are, I think you could agree that they are wildly different people with huge chasms in their policy objectives.

How are we as a society so closely matched between democrats and republicans? One possibility is that the system has a market dynamic that forces parity. In other words, imagine two political groups Alpha and Beta. They have no specific policies. Then they start to develop their positions.  Each one of the parties chooses policy points and gets some people to love them and some to hate them.

Over time, each party moves only slightly and accrues some voters while shedding others. However, if a party ever gets wiped out in an election, they immediately change their tune to get the votes back. In fact, what it means to be a republican or democrat or federalist or even Whig has changed dramatically over the years. The democrats in the early 20th century were the racists and the republicans were the party of stopping slavery. Then in 1948, everything was turned on its head. (Look it up)

This is my only explanation, but it feels wrong to me. The market of ideas doesn’t seem so flexible. Here is a list of my policy objectives in general order of importance:

  1. Progressive Supreme Court (Highest priority!)
  2. Energy Grid Upgrade
  3. Cut Defense Spending by 50%
  4. End Gerrymandering
  5. Continue/Tweak Affordable Care Act
  6. Allow government to study gun violence (duh!)
  7. Research and combat climate change
  8. Fund Arts / schools / basic research (like we used to!)
  9. Support women’s reproductive rights
  10. Tax corporations/billionaires more

Not everyone has a top 10 list, but they should. They should have a list of policies and decide who supports their agenda the best. However, 99.9% of people do not have this. They vote the way they would vote for American Idol based on who like the “like” and who they want to have a beer with. We are mostly uninformed, uneducated people who are asked to vote on questions we are ill equipped to answer.

It’s like deciding which sports team to be a fan of. You usually choose the team your parents supported, simple as that. I am still stumped as to how each election is nearly 50/50. It seems that with all of the challenges facing the world that one sides (democrat) policies would become more acceptable. However, this is not the case.

Some economist should make a podcast about this. (If it already exists, please point me in the right direction)