UX = User Experience Wed, 30 Nov 2016 19:12:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 32 32 2075023 Hiring UX Designer 2016 Wed, 30 Nov 2016 18:58:38 +0000 Continue reading "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!

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Disturbing Trends Mon, 21 Nov 2016 18:26:10 +0000 Continue reading "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.

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Happy is not my preferred state of being Fri, 18 Nov 2016 17:22:28 +0000 Continue reading "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?

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Hiring a Product Manager – 2016 Tue, 15 Nov 2016 21:40:17 +0000 Continue reading "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.

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The Electoral College is Bad Fri, 11 Nov 2016 23:42:24 +0000 Continue reading "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.

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Election 2016 Wed, 09 Nov 2016 17:43:50 +0000 Continue reading "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.


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How are we so evenly split? Fri, 04 Nov 2016 18:47:42 +0000 Continue reading "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)

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Eero Wifi Review (Day 2) Mon, 31 Oct 2016 18:09:26 +0000 Continue reading "Eero Wifi Review (Day 2)"]]> My house is shaped funny. This results WiFi dead spots. This weekend, we moved a bunch of furniture around to give two of my kids their own room, rather than sharing. Doing something like that always involves alot of work you didn’t expect and plenty of dust in the air which made my left eye blood red.

After moving the office downstairs, I realized that our dead spot problem was now blocking computers from the internet completely. I had to find a solution for 3 floors, 2 TVs and about 10 other roaming devices. Previously, I had tried WiFi extenders, but they always seemed to causing problems. Setting them up always was finicky and the speed was terrible. Also, I had a system using PowerLine adapters which was expensive and somewhat limited.

Enter Eero

I actually started researching this new technique when Google announced their own offering which is launching in December. I was going to wait, but circumstances intervened with the move.

The concept is called Mesh WiFi. You buy three pucks and plug them in. You install an app on your phone and control everything from there. I have used Web applications to control routers for almost 20 years. This was a very new concept for me.

I can’t emphasize enough how easy the whole setup was. Installing the app was obviously simple. Registration took virtually no time. It recognized the pucks below quickly. There was basically nothing to do. It just worked.

The app did a speed test and matched roughly the speed I wanted. There were no dead spots. I got rid of my router and got rid of the powerline adapters. Now, we are 100% WiFi. We have officially cut the ethernet cord.

It’s expensive. The three pucks cost $400 + tax. However, the amount of time this has saved me is worth it. I was considering returning, but if the speeds keep up. I think they earned the money. Nice work Eero.

Note: I didn’t try Netgear Oobi or Luma, but they are basically the same idea.

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The Gooey Emotional Center Fri, 21 Oct 2016 22:39:33 +0000 Continue reading "The Gooey Emotional Center"]]> Marketo Retrospective Part 9
As part of a series, I am doing retrospective lessons from my 9 years at Marketo. This might be the last one. It’s the part that very few people understand, but I think it is the reason Marketo did well.

Some people call it Product Market Fit, but to me that doesn’t do the concept justice. I call it the The Gooey Emotional Center of a product.

There is a particular thing Marketo power users say to me. They say, “Thank you for my career.” This is a big deal to me. We didn’t just build software that did a job. We created a category, created a career path for people with very few skills in the beginning.

In the first year of Marketo, we built a UI that replaced Google Adwords. It was a fancy UI improvement over the built-in Google UI. It flopped terribly. Marketo ended up deleting the feature because it wasn’t being used. However, it also had a landing page editor that worked like PowerPoint. This was a huge hit, people loved that.

I interviewed people to understand why they liked one and not the other. This is what they told me:

“Look at my resume. Google Adwords is one of the few skills I possess. How can I replace that with your little product? It’s the cornerstone of my skills bullet. However, with the landing page editor, I can add Marketo Landing Pages to the skills bullet. It’s not huge, but it’s something.”

I asked more about the landing pages and they described the following interaction to me:

A Marketer walks up to Web Developer Gunther. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

  • Marketer: “Hey Gunther, can you change this sentence on the website?”
  • Gunther: “Ahh, there a problem with the domain of the CDN, so I can’t FTP the HTML and jQuery to the server until the DNS gets propagated. Should be a few days.” (Gunther goes back to playing game on Linux computer)
  • Marketer: (looks depressed) “I hate you, Gunther.”

At this point in the story, the Marketer doesn’t know HTML, JavaScript, Programming, Database Management, SQL queries or anything a developer knows how to do. Their job is basically project management, procurement combined with writing. Marketers didn’t know how to do anything computer technical.

I saw this interaction and thought that we could solve the problem by giving the marketer drag and drop tools to achieve their vision without the help of the web developer. We made simple versions of the following:

  • Form Editor
  • Landing Page Editor
  • Email Editor
  • Workflow Engine (Smart Campaign)
  • SQL Queries (Smart List)

This is the core of Marketo and what makes the magic. These are the 4 components that tapped into the Gooey Emotional Center of the marketer. These 4 components meant they didn’t have to talk to Gunther anymore. They felt empowered with real skills.

Gunther is dead! Long live the Marketer!

This simple idea: Give the marketer tools to make them feel useful and skilled is what created a 1.6 billion dollar company. Talking about Product Market Fit misses the larger point about human beings and why they buy things. People buy based off emotion 90% of the time. They FEEL and then buy. Logic often has little to do with it.

The next big emotional improvement came with Sales Insight. This made the marketer look good to sales. Deep down, marketers want sales people to like them. There is a small inadequacy thing that happens to marketers talking to sales folks. A resentment mixed with a desire to look smart and talented. Sales Insight started to tap into that.

Unfortunately, that was the last time that Marketo found the marketer’s product-emotional fit. All of the following failed to improve the emotional well being of the Marketer:

  • Social widgets
  • RTP
  • Programs
  • Calendar
  • Mobile
  • AdBridge

The Marketo roadmap was filled with stuff that didn’t really matter to the Marketer. Maybe this has something to do with being a public company, maybe it was poor decision making, maybe it was group think…the bottom line is that the marketers emotions became less important.

My recollection of Marketo is filled with “what-ifs” and “shoulda done this/that”. It’s a useless endeavor. You make choices along the way and hopefully learn something for next time. There were great features built like the Engagement Streams, but if they fail to connect emotionally, then they will fail to change the world.

At Engagio, I am trying to tap back into those same people and find the Gooey Emotional Center. If we can, then we may be able to create another billion dollar unicorn. Sounds like a tall order, but I wouldn’t rather be doing anything else.


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Marketo Marketing Tue, 18 Oct 2016 22:32:47 +0000 Continue reading "Marketo Marketing"]]> Marketo Retrospective Part 8
As part of a series, I am doing retrospective lessons from my 9 years at Marketo. Today, I focus on the Marketo’s Marketing. Like building a Sales Team I think this is an area that Marketo really shined and set the benchmark for thousands of other companies in the past 10 years.

Content Marketing
This all started with Jon Miller writing the Marketo blog. He was talking about digital marketing even before we had a product. He built a loyal following with great content, so when we finally had something to sell, he had built up an initial audience. This was brilliant and new in 2007.

Jon extended this content with eBooks that he named the “Definitive Guide to [insert topic]” series. These were exhaustive (long) tomes on topics that were important to marketers. Some people read them, some skimmed, but everyone downloaded. This led to specific features in the product like Engagement Streams and Forms on Landing pages.

The content set Marketo up as a thought leader. This helped close many deals. The sales people may not have understood that factor, but they had a hidden advantage in all of their deals. Content Marketing wasn’t entirely new, but Marketo perfected it.

Inbound Marketing
I think Maria Pergolino invented Inbound Marketing. From Wikipedia:

Inbound marketing is the promotion of a company or other organization through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, newsletters, whitepapers, SEO, physical products, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing which serve to attract customers through the different stages of the purchase funnel.

Maria was everywhere on the web. She was answering questions on remote sites, she was tweeting at people, she was at every conference. You couldn’t talk about Marketing Automation without Maria being there contributing value and mentioning Marketo.

Maria earned her keep and more with that effort. She brought attention to the company in a non-invasive way. She hit a (glass?) ceiling in the marketing department and joined Apttus in 2012. Currently, she is their SVP of Global Marketing.

Marketing Automation
I’ve said this many times to Marketo customers, “Don’t listen to how Marketo uses Marketo. They are the worst users of the system.” I don’t mean this in a mean way. As a product leader, you have a vision of how the system ought to be used. The Marketo marketing team used it in avery different and extremely complicated way. Customers who tried to mimic that usually ended up extremely confused and unhappy.

One guy who shall remain nameless to protect his identity invented something called Traffic Cop. The dreaded Traffic Cop. This is the worst thing that ever happened to Marketo. It was a nightmare. It brought down arrays of servers. It flooded the activity log with non-sense. All to try and send email. Customers left and right complained that Marketo was too hard. All because of over-complications our own team tried to do.

I had to invent Engagement Streams to stop people from using Traffic Cop. I complained bitterly that customers were getting annoyed with the product saying “It’s too hard!” specifically complaining about the complex ways Marketo’s own marketing department said they use the system.  I think they poisoned the well for no good reason. It saddens me that the team couldn’t get their shit together enough to stop this bad behavior.

Brand Marketing
I remember one executive who sent around an “elevator pitch” of Marketo. It was 3 paragraphs of nonsense. I told them that engineers were not going to remember all that. They needed 1 (very short) sentence. She told me, “This has been approved from pretty high up.” That is the kind of bullshit that ruins companies. Logic and reason should win out over crap like that.

Marketo, sadly, never really built a strong brand presence. It was a simple corporate brand; clean and professional. However, it never had much to love or latch onto emotionally. The community was vibrant, but the brand itself left much to be desired. This is something we are trying to do better at Engagio with Gio the Whale. Some people might hate him, but as a tech startup, you need to be bold and take a stance. If you eliminate anything objectionable, you will end up with nothing.

Recruiting brand was also dismal. Marketo never actively marketed to potential employees. This is something you HAVE to do in silicon valley. Google, Facebook, Apple and Uber snatch up people by the boatloads. You have to stand out culturally. The values and positive work environment were never a big part of the marketing. I think this was a mistake and led to lesser employees being hired.

Customer Video Testimonials
This was another huge innovation of the Marketing Department. For years, Marketo was the #1 ranked result when searching for “Customer Video Testimonials.” Today, they are not even on the first page. However, this was truely ground breaking at the time. Eloqua didn’t show the product, but Marketo did. They hid their community and users and Marketo took videos of them and portrayed them loud and proud on the home page. I believe that this single marketing practice was responsible for a major increase in sales wins over Eloqua.

Marketo was a master of events. Tradeshows, roadshows, webinars, seminars, virtual events and dinners. It didn’t matter, Marketo killed it every single time. It has just been a joy and education to watch people like Maria Pergolino, Jeff Cowen, Lauren Moskowitz and their teams create experiences that seem to come from a much larger more funded company. They made us look big, bold and professional. I was so proud at those events.

The biggest coup, by far was the 2014 Annual Summit featuring the keynote speaker Hillary Clinton. I just couldn’t believe it. This was the height of my pride in the company. 6,000 people jam packed in the Moscone center and I was front-row center with my son. I was prouder than the IPO day. That day was created by the marketing department and I will never forget it.

Hillary Clinton and Glen Lipka

Marketo made a tremendous impact on Marketo. They influenced countless other companies and changed the course of marketing for a generation. Business classes in universities should study how it happened. They weren’t perfect, but they did an awful lot right. There is alot to unpack here, but it’s all worth it. I hope I did the experience justice in this retrospective. I hope you found it helpful, entertaining, or both.

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