Monday, November 28, 2005

5-minute Jobbing Event

I am working with 4 local seattle tech start-ups that are banding together to try a new way of recruiting. I will post the RSVP link when it is ready... but this should wet your appetite.

Monday, November 21, 2005

jobster groups launches today

today is a big day for me. today our team will release jobster groups, which will allow the first "professional to professional" networking functionality on jobster. there is definitely more to come in this area, thanks to the addition of a dedicated consumer pm a few weeks ago.

from the beginning of jobster, i have been super passionate about this piece of the networking puzzle.

i am just now completing the creation of a plu alumni jobs group and inviting about 6000 alumns from my directory. this will be a valuable tool for alumns to locate and network their way to positions at leading companies.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I'm back, renewed and ready

I just returned from a 2 week vacation that coincided with the birth of my son, Carson. Two weeks of family time gave me a chance to reformat & defragment the old hard drive (brain) and prepare for a great winter, driving into 2006 with Jobster Customers.

There is alot of customer momentum and break out companies that are taking advantage of the flexibility of Jobster to execute some very creative and effective recruiting/sourcing initiatives, and that is great to see. I will be posting some of these for the good of anyone interested in the coming weeks.

Monday, October 03, 2005, On-Demand Internet Radio

Re-published audio from our CEO's keynote at ERE last week. Also some customers talking about it:, On-Demand Internet Radio - The Voice of Career Success - Home

Thursday, September 29, 2005

targeting diversity

I have been really lucky in the past few weeks to be working with Starbucks on diversity sourcing- my customer there, Craig, is doing some very good work there.

Check out where you will find a link to join Starbuck's diversity talent network. This has only been live a short time and is creating a massive talent network of diverse professionals AND prospects for specific opportunities.

Jobster Search Unveiled in Boston today

The launch of Jobster Search is happening today, which brings back similar feelings I had when we launched Jobster.

This is another step toward driving some big change (good change) in the industry. Imagine a path of pre-qualification and verification of skills when jobseekers find your jobs on the Internet. Once pre-qualified, they become a future source for hiring and referring other great people. Using Jobster's relationship management capabilities, companies are building pipelines RIGHT NOW.

I explain Jobster Search as the employee referral program in reverse. Instead of a recruiting team initiating the process with employees, jobseekers can now initiate the process through people they know at the company. In the end, the employee continues to be a critical piece of this... they have to decide whether to vouch for the jobseeker. If they decide to, then the job seeker is forward directly to the hiring team.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

our professional service is live!

Kudos to our dev, test and product teams, who valiantly stayed up most of Friday night and Saturday morning to release our September bits. Now professionals who have contacts in companies can leverage their contacts to get in touch with & referred directly to hiring teams in those companies- really really powerful stuff.


Friday, September 23, 2005

Torrefazione no longer

I was really sad to find out thatTorrefazione, the Italian coffee shop that quickly gained my patronage when Jobster moved to downtown Seattle, is closing its doors today permanently.

Starbucks bought the 17 cafe chain back in 2003, and it looked like the brand was going to remain untouched for a while. The reason cited by corporate was that the chain "...failed to meet corporate goals."

My daily treat will be missed.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

two things

Other than the fact that my mind is consumed with a hugely important release in our company's history next week, I CANNOT shake two things out of my brain...

1) Podcasting is going somewhere fast. I have SO many questions, ideas, and concepts that apply to this new and phenomenally efficient form of distributing content to personal devices on a massive scale. I am watching closely... would love to have a hobby site that helped others learn how to take advantage of this new medium... but that is a project for another day.

2) Microsoft and recent news about them losing the war on talent. That combined with what I consider to be the most viable threat (and widely loved) Google; who is on a rampage, delivering very compelling and useful products in a very rapid & iterative model. The big question in my mind is will Google take their desktop beginnings and introduce an open source OS or Office competitor? Do they have secret teams already working on early versions of these? I know MS is watching them like a hawk competitively...

should be a historic battle with good results for consumers.

btw: I started using audio blogging on jack and carson's site. I also researched and bought some podcasting production gear to start goofing around.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

jack and carson

This week I decided to start breaking up the content of my blog into some distinct spaces. I think yarddart is ALL OVER THE PLACE in terms of content, so I plan to tighten it up and talk more about Jobster and industry related things.

My favorite thing to blog about right now is my son, Jackson, and about our baby boy on the way. Carson is due to join our family in the next few weeks!! Exciting, scarey and emotional... but I am ready.

A blog about two boys starts this week.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

welcome back carter

J and I met as housemates in college. It was funny that his jaw was wired shut for the first few weeks I knew him, but once he could talk we hit it off & have been good friends ever since. He was a year ahead of me in school, so when he graduated and took a position with a big 5 firm, he spent the next year helping me network my way to a job with them. Beyond the career stuff, we have had a blast over the years going on trips, kayaking, windsurfing or just hanging out having a cold one.

About 3 years ago, he and his wife moved to Portland so he could pursue his law degree. At the time, it was tough to see them go. I even bet him $50 that they would stay in Portland permanent.

Last week, they returned to the Puget Sound, even getting a place in our neighborhood. What fun to have such good friends back in the mix! Bobbi said I have been acting like a kid who's best friend has moved in next door. Not so far off I guess.

That reminds me- I need to stop by the ATM and get him that $50 bucks.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

a little behind the ball

I have known for a LONG TIME that I was missing out on something, not having an iPod. Everytime I came close to purchasing one, something else came up.

Yesterday was my 32nd birthday and my wife gave me an iPod Photo as a present. It has only been 24 hours and I am having so much fun exploring what I can do with it.

I am now subscribed to some interesting weekly podcasts that will automatically load, I have a small library of songs that I plan to grow over time.

This is truly music on my terms, and that is what makes it so compelling. I wonder if there is a recruiting product/service equivilent?? If there is, Jobster is going to find it.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

looking up

I think the Seattle market is heating up in terms of new ventures. I can count about 7 ventures at various stages that friends and colleagues have embarked on, of which 2 have landed some funding (the others are more early stage). This is huge!

Having weathered the downturn at Microsoft, I am very excited to see how these next few years develop. The investment community, entrepreneurs, and start-up employees are smarter, more saavy than '99. There is a solid focus on real business fundamentals- not the funny money days of searching for a revenue model while burning $1.2 mill a month -- OK WAIT, maybe I know of one firm doing that...

I am just happy to be affiliated with these people and the pursuit of their passions. Perhaps I will write about some of these ventures here... but there won't be much I can say... but there is still a lot to glean even if you do not know the industry, the opportunity, or who it is chasing it.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

winning over the masses

There is a wind of change that we are witnessing real time in the recruiting industry. Whether I am in Dallas at a Jobster Strategy Session with sales prospects, or meeting with the division recruiting lead of a Fortune100 client, the message is clear: "Something in this industry needs to change." The other consistent thing I hear from those same decision makers is that many companies are talking like us, even though their actual product does nothing of the kind - they see right through it.

Jobster is one of the agents of change in an industry that needs it badly- what a unique and exciting place to be. I will look back at this years from now and say remember when...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The S4 is making me rethink my A4

I have been super happy with my 2003 Audi A4. In fact, it is the most enjoyable car I have had since my 67 Chevelle in high school. The same weekend I purchased the car, we found out we were pregnant with our first son, so I hesitated a little and opted out of the "S" version. Mostly this was in an effort to prove to my wife that as a father to be, that I could make reasonably mature decisions...

The S4 is haunting me each morning on my way to work. We usually meet up around Fall City, both of us creatures of habit. He usually shows me a few moves as we drop down into Issaquah, demonstrating superior accelleration. Did I say haunting??

Monday, July 25, 2005

websites of past

This site allowed me to view old Internet projects of mine that are long gone. How nostalgic...

etonomy, paddlepoint, yarddart...

Monday, July 18, 2005

"D" is for dog, Da Da

Twenty two months old and he starts naming letters on my shirt as I am changing his diaper... T - I - O - S - E - L - O. The "L" was particularly fun, he starts with the sound of an "A" and then rolls his tongue.

It is times like this that make me thankful that we have read more than 10 books a day to this boy religiously. He has an amazing vocabulary, about 50 to 75 words.

Still, Jackson continues to amaze me each and every day... although yesterday when he discovered the power of the word "NOW" when demanding things from his parents was a little disturbing!

He always charms his way back with a triumphant, "I DID it!" at even the smallest accomplishment.

Friday, July 15, 2005

what does it all mean?

Every so often I need to take a small step back and take a deep breath. The work we are doing at Jobster is a lot of fun- we are making solid progress with customers and I am constantly amazed at this team that we have assembled. Having spent some time with our WorkZoo founders makes me realize what a GREAT addition they will make to the team. I hear Mark will be running the Jobster Search team, a perfect place for him to continue on his WorkZoo vision within the context of the larger Jobster vision.

These last few weeks we saw record PR levels for our company based on a solid combination of events. More than progress in the space, I think the coverage showed our customers, partners, competitors, and professionals in general, that

1) Jobster is for real
2) Jobster is here for the long hall, not going anywhere
3) Jobster is quick to make moves when it makes sense for customers
4) Jobster will boldly help move this industry to the next evolution

If you have a chance to hear our CEO speak in the future- take the opportunity while you can.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Welcome Workzoo to Jobster!

It is official today and the company & newswire is buzzing. Great addition to our company...

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

in good company

a few weeks back i had an entry about my buddy B and his new company that had just received funding.

How funny that our breaking news today was coupled with news about his company, who is tightly linked the PlayNetwork? He has taken his future by the horns these last months and is making it happen on every front. Good for him.

great progress, great news

We are firing on all cylinders here at Jobster, poised for another Q of major feature releases to customers, signing some new companies, and showing them the Jobster vision.

Had to pinch myself today. My former boss's boss's boss joined our board today. John Conners, formerly CFO & CIO at Microsoft, has joined the Jobster team. Read more about it in Business Week.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Audio interview of our CEO

Jason was interviewed recently about Jobster's place in the market- it was posted today. Have a listen

Welcome Colby

Welcome to the world Colby. Your parents have been anxiously awaiting your arrival. You have many fun and exciting times ahead of you - with family, friends and your dog of course.

We can't wait to meet you in person.

Friday, June 17, 2005

get my feed on

So, I just added a new feature to my blog. It is a job feed that will display the most recent 5 jobs that I have received in my job network. You will notice that over time these will change, based on the more recent jobs that are published to me by recruiters across a variety of companies and industries.

Tell me what you think of this new feature- one of our developers put this together in his spare time. Needless to say, that earned him a "get scrappy" t-shirt.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

back on campus

I spent some time back on the Microsoft Campus this week, working with the recruiting team. Having spent nearly 5 years there, it was surprisingly comfortable and familiar to be roaming the halls.

Also being a hiring manager at Microsoft, I am very familiar with the challenges that recruiting faces. That is what has made coming back so fun. Just so you understand, I left on really good terms- I had GREAT boss, a great team firing on all cylinders- my career trajectory was on track. In fact, I remember telling many friends that MS was my last tech job because there was no better place to be....

Well ALMOST no better place to be :-) When you then get a call from a startup backed by the legendary Microsoft Alumns like Brad Silverberg, Jon Anderson & company at Ignition Partners- you want to pay careful attention.

Anyway- glad to have them aboard as customers... btw if want to see some Jobster blog features in action, check out Heather's blog.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

keep moving forward

Tell me a story about a new company that, in its first quarter of a product launch, is hitting it's revenue targets... Do any come to mind?

How about Jobster?!? Yahoo News on Jobster, June 8th

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Week of relaxation in the sun (and rain)

After nearly 2 years of "start-up vacations;" you know, where you take your laptop and have at least 2 hours of conference calls booked per day, I promised my family and myself that Kauai would be different- and it was.

Complete and utter disconnection from daily work was relaxing. I did, however, think about work in a broader sense, but it was more reflective in tone.

- I thought about the day I packed up my office of almost 5 years at Microsoft to join a company and wasn't really a company yet.
- I thought about my newborn son and wanting to show him to follow your gut when it feels right (not sure he will understand for a few more years though...)
- I thought about the countless meetings (in borrowed offices, no less) pouring over our product plan, or customer data, and formulating a compelling customer experience and the "guts" of our business plan.

Then I fast forward more than a year, 50 employees, 10,000 sq feet of Pioneer Square loft space, 80+ customers using, and the nearly tens of thousands of professionals that have been involved in Jobster campaigns. Wow.

No matter what anyone here at Jobster says, it has been a sprint nearly the entire time, but no doubt exhilarating at the same time. Have we got it all right every time? No, but we don't let that fact get in the way; rather we course correct quickly, validate with customers, and move on to the next big improvement on our evolving roadmap.

Go Jobster go.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

no compromises

As I step away for a week to spend with my extended family in Hawaii, I am reminded that Jobster is the experience that I will talk about for years and years to come. We are not here to fit into a square hole that has been pre-defined in the industry. There is true opportunity to blow the doors off of the norm and improve the economics of the recruiting industry; I am more optimistic than ever!

Bucking the norm takes absolute discipline on the part of our leadership; and our team of 50+ was assembled with this in mind.

Pinch me- the shift has begun.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

What may not have worked, may work today

A lot has changed since the go go boom that went bust. Many of the ideas and businesses that saw a flood of money in the mid to late 90s seemed great at the time. There was a model, and in most cases, at least a distant concept of how money would be made- eventually.

We have said good bye to most of these defunct businesses.

I think it makes sense to go back and re-examine a few of them. Back then, the "last mile" had not penetrated enough households. Today that is a very different story. Wireless had certainly helped broadband become a key part of anyones day at home- even remote places like my hometown of Anaconda, Montana now have broadband providers.

Maybe some of these have a prayer if rekindled?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Great news close to home

Even though we just recently moved down the street in the same Snoqualmie, Washington neighborhood, I still stay in touch with my old neighbor, "B". He and I have now known each other for about 3 years- he is the National Sales Director for a B2B media distribution company.

We have the best time on the weekends talking about concepts or ideas that we have thought up over a beer or bottle of wine...

Great news that one of the concepts he was incubating locked in some angel money today (multi-million dollar deal). Now it is time to set up operations and get rolling.

Go B go.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

ideas, ideas, ideas

I LOVE talking about ideas. Ask anyone who has known me since high school, and they will tell you stories about ideas I was cooking up back then. Into college and the Army, I incubated ideas, built the young entrepreneurship organization at PLU, and spent countless hours preparing for business plan competitions.

Tonight my sister ran a brilliant business idea by me as we sat after dinner, visiting. Brilliantly simple, and a perfect match for her. Immediately my juices were flowing; mind racing through the possibilities. I also found myself steering conversation back to her idea even as it naturally moved on to other subjects.

I am a lucky person in that we at Jobster are now defining the next versions of the service, and I am playing a part in that. Having spent so much time focusing on other parts of the business while our development team built version 1, I nearly forgot how much fun this is.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

George Carlan?!?!

Thomas & Friends has been forever tainted for me. Of all the people in the world that are narrating the stories, George Carlan. Why does it seem reasonable that one of the most profane comedians I know of is also reading stories to small children?!? THAT BUGS ME!!

I may have to slowly move Jack away from Thomas given this new information...

Monday, April 25, 2005

another amazing day with my son

Jackson loves books. At the earliest of ages, we would read him 3 or 4 books in the morning, a book or two when I got home from work, and of course the marathon book reading session just before bedtime.

It has also been fun to watch the progression of the books he loves. At first, books like Red Hat, Green Hat were fun for him; he giggled with each punch line of "Oops!" Now we are reading books with more complex storylines, like Thomas the Train and Winnie the Pooh; he just soaks it up.

The reason for reading to kids from infancy came into clear focus this weekend. As Bobbi and I were making dinner, we overheard Jackson talking. He was standing, using the couch as a book stand, reading Thomas the Train to himself. Can you believe it??

What great fun this is...

Thursday, April 21, 2005

New Project

One reality exists for most all of our customers to date:
If you use Jobster as we recommend, you will find success.

Another reality also exists:
New technologies take time to be adopted and every customer has a different path & speed of acceptance.
I have a new mission at Jobster for the next 60-90 days.. I have been tasked, with 2 other colleagues, to assess this speed & path of acceptance and figure out how to help companies roll Jobster out to their organizations in a more seamless & effective way.

The goal of this is to get all of our customers successful - and I am all about that!

Friday, April 15, 2005

the flu is running amuck at Jobster

Most of our company is out of the office today with the flu. Unfortunately when you have so many driven individuals who refuse to let a little sickness stop them from coming to work, you end up with an office-wide epidemic.

Somehow I am still standing, which is funny- I am usually the first to go.

I am doing some covert analysis to figure out who is "patient zero," just for fun.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


It is really fascinating to watch the rollout and adoption of new technology in the marketplace. I have the luxury of being on the front lines facing customers. We are continually looking at our customers at both an account and user level, collecting metrics-metrics-metrics, tracking usage, understanding behaviors, and constantly iterating and improving our approach. It is working, but I have to say that helping recruiting organizations make the strategic shift away from inbox recruiting to a more proactive Jobster approach is challenging at times.

Once they see the value, though, it is clear that they cannot get enough!

I am on the front lines because I want to be... I cannot say there is as much glory here as in Product Marketing or Product Management- but I need to be here. I need to follow this through. Being the one who interviewed countless star recruiters to help understand what the first version of Jobster should be over the last year, I feel like i need to be right there with the recruiters when they first log in.

No matter what titles or organizations may exist or are tbd at Jobster, I will remain a focused customer advocate to the rest of the team.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

this is why I do it

These two, Bobbi & Jackson, are why I am here, doing the work that I do.

At 6 months of age, Jackson actually had a profound influence on me when I decided to walk away from Microsoft & join Jobster- more on that later...

Sunday, April 03, 2005

dirt is good

This morning we took advantage the dry morning and went for a walk. My mom always comments about how as a kid and even now I am a clean freak. I wouldn't even play with kids in sandboxes because it was dirty. Well, I am doing my best to make sure Jackson knows that getting dirty can be fun...

April fools

I have good friends at Microsoft. Not only did I spend 4 exciting years tooling the sales & marketing teams with systems to help them execute on their quarterly sales goals, I also made some great friends. Part of being a great friend is supporting a decision they have made even when you are skeptical.

Two of my closest friends from Microsoft, both former bosses there, we're very supportive when I was contemplating leaving. I knew that they were highly skeptical of such a move, but yet understood how a career move to an early start-up was important to me.

So, on Friday, I played a little joke on them. I left a voicemail with Brett, now a senior director in World Wide Marketing, telling him I have been let go from Jobster. Then, I had a mutual friend, a group manager in Microsoft's US Subsidiary, email him: "...I just talked to Neil and he is in pieces... what are we going to do??"

Within minutes, I noticed that Brett had signed into instant messenger and asked me, "Are you okay?" In the time since I had left him a voicemail, he had already lined up some opportunities in his organization for me to investigate. As soon as he told me this, I HAD TO FESS UP!!

I felt very badly that he had gone through the trouble of doing this so immediately. But I have to admit, though, that it felt pretty good to know that I have friends & colleagues like this.

Now, if I could just convince Brett to join Jobster ;-)

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Jobster Launch Video

The video from our launch event on March 30th is now up on the web for anyone to view at their leisure. Click here.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Year 1 at Jobster: what I've learned about building a company from scratch

Exactly one year ago today, I started as the first employee of Jobster. Although I was the first hire, Marty and I started together on April 1st. I remember the day pretty clearly.

Had you told me that one year later we would be 42 employees and just days passed the wildly successful commercial launch of our service and staring at a tidal wave of F1000 demand, I would not have believed it. There goes Jobster again, exceeding even my most optimistic expectations.

Here are just a few of things that I have observed- things I think have distinguished the Jobster story and kept us on track:
  • There are no sacred cows. Always be willing to re-evaluate your plans, assertions, and strategies based on customer learning. Taking a business concept and iterating it over and over leaves room for "over iterated," a.k.a. loosing touch with the fundamentals of the opportunity at hand. Pride, ego, or the love of one's own ideas cannot get in the way of developing a sound business idea. Be okay with the fact that your business concept may iterate to a point of not being recognizable from its source.
  • Implement forcing functions. There are times when a team can get caught in quick sand and not seem to make much progress for a while. It may be a standstill in good ideas, it may be the discovery of a show stopping issue, etc. There are a lot of reasons for the onset of quick sand. A forcing function provides a milestone or deliverable that a team can coalesce around and focus on. Our CEO has been a master of forcing functions on a variety of occasions- maybe I will tell you a story about one some time...
  • Ideas are cheap, people are EVERYTHING. Jobster the concept and Jobster the company was built on this notion. Being in touch with entrepreneurship and the venture scene since the beginning of my career, I have come across many great ideas. In fact, I have stared at what I considered to be great ideas that were huge opportunities. Ultimately though, great ideas are nothing without great people to develop and execute the business plan. I think most opportunities are not beholden to just the first mover, but to the mover who has experience on their side.

I will add more later... I have to get back to work!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

news blast

Buzz is building... news links below:

a scene to remember

This morning most of our 42 employees huddled together in our Pioneer Square offices (Seattle) to watch the webcast of our commercial launch in San Diego. Our CEO, VP of Marketing, and VP of Sales introduced Jobster to the industry with a lot of excitement.

We all sat and watched our company leaders forge us as an agent of change in the industry today. We watched them introduce our passion of the last year- to create a new service that will reinvent how Internet recruiting should work. It was pretty flipping cool to look at the faces of each Jobster employee as they saw their part of the service mentioned- PRIDE, EXCITEMENT, OPTIMISM.

Being the first employee of the company, this was extra special to me. I joined this company with nothing but a ppt deck and an impressive entrepreneur- now CEO, Jason Goldberg. Every hire, every milestone we have achieved has been personal for me. I took such a leap because I had faith in Jason's story- as a hiring manager at Microsoft, I also believed in the industry gaps, and was convinced there had to be another way. That better way is now...

The most powerful thing they talked about was our more than 40 enterprise customers already using the service. Not only that, this message was driven home masterfully by video testimonials from Boeing, T-Mobile, and Expedia- and also an in-person visit from Sean Huurman of BearingPoint- all talking about how Jobster is changing their recruiting landscape for the better. Sean talked about actual results that the company is experiencing with their first campaigns.

Jobster is for real, and this industry will never be the same. I will post the recorded webcast when it is ready.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

what is the deal?

when I first signed up with Netflix so long ago, I thought they were the greatest thing since sliced bread. Our entire neighborhood in Snoqualmie Ridge had Netflix and the subscriber base was growing exponentially. I didn;t buy stock, but as I watched it grow 10 fold & more, I wished that I had.

One thing that I CANNOT understand is how it took Blockbuster nearly 2 years to respond to Netflix competitively?? It seems that it is too little too late.

goal realized

Doing the start-up thing has had a few short-term negative effects on my personal life. Aside from missing time at home, I have also found that I go longer in between catching up with my pals. One of my pals is Poppe. He and his wife Jenn live in Kirkland with their beautiful 2 year old daughter, Natalie.

Tonight we spoke on the phone, after nearly 3 months. He had some great news- he was promoted to an 8 state territory sales manager for his franchise finance organization. His team is one of only a handful of financiers in the United States that back franchise chains like Quiznos, Applebees and the like. Great great news for him and his family.

More than anyone else in our circle of friends, Poppe has been chasing his career goal with maniacal focus for nearly 7 years. I remember driving up the Green River valley on our way to go kayaking and he was talking about the role he was working toward. That was before I graduated from college (he was a year ahead of me).

He may not say it, but it may have been frustrating to see some of us in technology industry move up quickly- continually adding a new job title to our resume and often changing jobs more frequently than most would be comfortable with. Unlike high tech, the finance world has a very structured career path; you put in your time in the trenches for a long time. For those that do their time, the payoff is big for them and their career, and can surpass the level of any tech person with the same time in service. Poppe is living that now.

Good on ya Poppe, good on ya.

true customer centricity

I have had the pleasure of working for a handful of companies over the course of my career, all of which at some level claimed to be "connected" to their customer. What I also know is that unfortunately the louder a company shouts about being customer centric, usually the less they really are.

Customer centricity is not the VP or CEO visiting a customer's management team or taking them out to lunch on occasion - although that can be part of it. I also think that true customer centricity is REALLY, REALLY hard to implement from the top down. It can and has been done, but it can oftentimes feel very superficial and "fake" from the customer's perspective.

Jobster has this one right so far. We continue to learn how to do this better. Here are some reasons why I think we are on track:
  • Our roots. The Jobster story started with recruiters and leaders in the recruiting industry. While in the concept stage, our CEO Jason Goldberg spent a lot of time understanding the gaps that existed in the industry from people that were living it. As we grew and began to define a sourcing solution, we spent months upon months sitting with recruiters at their desks and living their day with them. My job was to work with recruiters every day as we defined and refined our ideas.
  • Our service. Still working with customers today, I often say that Jobster was built for recruiters, by recruiters- and I believe that firmly. If we ever showed a prototype to a recruiter or recruiter manager and saw blank stares, we took it to heart and went back to the drawing board. When you look at recruiters in the industry that are great networkers, the Jobster service was architected to help ALL recruiters reach that level.
  • Our track record. Since late Sept 2004, some version of Jobster has been in use by customers and partners. In that time, feedback has poured into our team about how to make the service better. As the person who passed that feedback to the product team, I can say that all of the most important feedback will be introduced in version 1. We don't say we listen to customers, WE JUST DO IT.
  • Our people. We have had the luxury of hiring the best and the brightest in the Seattle area. Part of it was based on our buzz. Part of it was based on our customer traction. A lot was based on the story. The bottom line is that we have hired and continue to hire people that are passionate about doing the right thing and making sure we delight customers with our service. Everyone here takes it personally when a bug is found. This team cares- top to bottom.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

just finished the letter last night

Finally finished & sent the letter of rec for Griffith today. I wish him well.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

always been that type of person

Ever since I can remember, I have loved making lists and checking off things as I complete them. There is some great feeling of accomplishment that comes with it.

Yesterday and today, I spent most of my time installing 2 closet organizers, a pantry organizer, a under sink pull out system, and a permanent baby gate. What a great feeling!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

the reflection of a week

This week was unlike most in my recent memory. While my 18 month old son continues to amaze Bobbi and I will his daily advances & discoveries, it was also a week when she was as sick as I have ever seen her. The first 13 weeks of pregnancy are rumored to be tough, but this took the cake for me. I spent most of my time home - writing off a work week for all intents and purposes.

It was also a tough week because as my time and focus was required at home, the collective time and focus of my company was rallying toward a goal of launching our service commercially. It is hard to watch the company go one way and you go the other, especially after being such an integral part of every step up until now.

It is only short-term- my family needs me now and they come first. I will get back in it when the coast is clear.

Friday, March 18, 2005

the mad march has begun

Jobster is ramping heavily for our commercial launch on 30 March 2005 in San Diego. Very exciting to see a 35+ person company completely and utterly focused on a single goal. Keep your eyes out for us...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

not if, but when

I have mentioned over the past few days about how well things are going with customers...

Sitting in a senior leadership meeting today, I blurted out that I have turned the corner to not "if", but "when" for Jobster.

Does it uncover passives?... of course! Are recruiters finding talent beyond the normal reach of a referral program?... yes!

My mindset is FAR PASSED the question of "IF." So many companies are telling us how they are finding great people using Jobster. Not only that- but passive people. Not only that- but high quality people that do not require a resume...

on Martyman, for a sec

Marty and I started working for Jason almost 1 year ago. I say working for Jason, because at the time, there was no company yet- only a concept that Ignition Partners had full faith in, thanks to Jason's ability to paint a picture of an industry in need.

I mention the Martyman because is he one of the most under-rated pioneers in the recruiting industry that I know of. He was a key participant and designer in one of the first ATS products, defining an entire software sector. I can go on, but take my word for it that he has had a major impact.

On Marty for a sec- It has been 12 months, and I love this guy. I love him because, in joining Jobster, he continues a career-long passion of adding value to the life of a recruiter through technology innnovation. I love him because he values personal relationships above all else. I love him because he has the grounded perspective to keep us all honest. OH- Did I mention that he is the primary builder of the recruiter experience in Jobster? Rightly so...rightly so. I will be the first to tell you that Marty will remain quiet about his history, and is content to be one of a handful of smart people behind the Jobster service. Go Marty.

Let me get back on track -my point is that Marty told me the other day that my new hobby of blogging was a form of marketing & not my true thoughts. Of course, I argued with him incessantly about how that was NOT true. We have constructive arguments all the time about Jobster- but they continually challenge me to be more customer-centric.

I admit that I only write what I want people to read about... is that marketing- or is that just plain human nature? I only share what I want others to read- true for sure. But that approach is not blog only- that is what we do for anything.

Readers of this blog: I COMMIT that I am only writing about REAL things on my mind. I am only writing about things I REALLY care about. I am only writing about things that I REALLY think about. No BS here.

While I believe that Jobster is the Google of the recruiting industry (Shhhhhh! don't tell anyone I think that- it is not yet been approved by my Marketing VP!), I am not going to use my blog to build anything up beyond the plain facts. Marketing- Shmarketing!

dot dot dot. enough said.

thoughtful investor

Martin Tobias, a venture partner at Ignition (principle backers of Jobster), had a great entry about raising money for your venture. He spent some time to talk about examples when ventures should NOT raise VC money.

Having started my career as an analyst for a smaller VC firm, I have always followed the new venture scene. Prior to Jobster, I had several opportunities to join early start-ups, but never felt overly compelled about the business opportunity in front of them. Obviously that was how Jobster was different and why I joined as the first employee.

Today, I do spend some of my free time chatting with my colleagues and friends about ideas they are hatching- it is exciting to be a part of this, and hope that I can lend some insight into how to do it right.

Martin's entry struck me, because I had just been talking to some guys about their early stage venture, and if raising VC money made sense. In their particular case, I told them to hold off, because their planned revenue model seemed to suggest that they could grow organically to a certain stage.

Not only that- but I asked them point blank why they wanted to raise money, and they did not have an answer- which to me means they are not ready for money yet...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

today I had the opportunity

Today I had the opportunity to talk to one of our favorite customers. Other than developing and marketing some of the most memorable and functional athletic shoewear ever known, they are also a great bunch of people with a real passion for finding great people to fuel their growth.

As part of a team that is delivering a new service or technology, you wonder when that moment will come when you can begin to talk about other customer successes. That time had come and passed a few weeks ago.

But today, I found myself with so many examples of customer successes that I had to choose which ones to talk about. I actually was tripping over which one to highlight. Can you imagine that I already have a "library" of success stories to pull from and we are only in pilot?

Take this fact and combine it with a Jobster team that is fully commited to taking customer feedback to further refine our service in future releases, and the future looks bright for Jobster.

Monday, March 14, 2005

from "solutions" to "delight"

My team just renamed itself the Customer Delight team. For a while prior, we were the Customer Solutions team, which made sense at the time. Jobster is moving into a critical ramp-up phase now, where we will be adding up to 50 customers per week during the several weeks of launch activities- so it is important that we establish our identity early.

Delight.... this is a great word my CEO has been chanting from the 3rd floor since day one. I was slow to adopt this, because I was worried about my group being mistaken for a fancy cake frosting. It has grown on me now. Delight is a strong word, and rightly so. It sets a high bar for how we want every customer to feel when they use our service or talk to us. Delight doesn't mean we met a customers expectation or left them satisfied- it means that we exceeded their expectations. I now see what our boss is saying- our goal is to exceed the expectations of our customers at every turn. If we want to truly help our customers reinvent how great recruiting is done in the industry, why would we shoot for anything less?

Oh, if you are wondering, we will be adopting a theme song - " rockets in flight, Customer Delight. Cu-u-ustomer Delight"

mail spam is killing me

Just having moved recently, I had the lovely pleasure of changing addresses for all of my bills. That went fine- and I was reminded of how much I pay in bills every month...

What was the most painful part of moving is the sudden in-flow of junk mail in the first few weeks. Investigating this phenomenon a little further, I found that there are a number of ways in which spammers can get my mailing address:
  • Change of Address. The US Postal Service is a willing participant in this little scam. Of course, mail spam is a great thing for them, bringing is what I can only guess is millions of dollars per year.
  • Record of Purchase. Public record also does its part by plastering it out there for maillist builders to grab and steal.
  • Mortgage "Partners." My mortgage company, First Horizon gave me a disclosure form saying that providing my name to partners would only occur in cases where they are jointly selling something. Well, now that I have counted my 150th Horizon related peice of mail, I am more than annoyed.

What I have trouble understanding is why email spam is getting so much attention when in fact we have a much larger problem with mail spam. Email spam is easy to delete in bulk, and no one gets hurt. REAL MAIL spam overloads your mailbox to the point that you cannot weed through to find the mail that really matters, such as bills and personal mail!!!

Of course no one with any authority in the government would ever touch this, despite the millions of trees per year that are being wasted...

Friday, March 11, 2005

St. Helens still at it

My good friend, Jason Sommerset, sent me a picture of Mt St. Helens. He was on a trip the other day and could not figure out was this strange formation of clouds were. Link through his name and you can get a glimpse.

I was 7 years old when it blew for the first time...

Thursday, March 10, 2005

pinch me

I am just going to come out and say it: JOBSTER IS WORKING!

Nearly 30 companies are set up and running as of today- and they are finding prospects and hiring them as we speak.

About a year ago, 5 or 6 of us sat in a borrowed office next to our borrowed cubicles at Ignition. We had ideas, we had theories. Now fast forward 12 months and here we are- commercial launch is weeks away and pilot customers are clamoring with the success they are seeing.

Somebody pitch me.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Ruh roh, Raggy!

Sorry if the Scooby Doo reference has you on your heels. I have only been doing this blogging thing a short time, but I am finding a great deal of satisfaction in writing things down. Publishing to the web in the form of a blog adds an element of unknown that I find very inviting - who will be surfing blogs and come across this? How might what I write enrich someone with another perspective?

I am starting to wonder if this is the next phase of the Internet, and perhaps that most valuable phase yet. I am not talking dollars, I am talking value to society.

One of the most interesting books that I have read in the last 10 years was Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death." The basic theme is that discourse in American society has been plummeting, and that innovations like the television have further eroded things. Neil also takes special note of a time when presidential candidates like Lincoln and his opponents would stand on a tree stump and talk for hours about real substance - things they believed in- no spin, no evading true answers. Also, taking note of the dairies and written discourse of the time, Postman makes the leap (not sure I am there yet) that this time, the mid to late 1800s, was the pinnacle of literacy for America- something that may never be seen again.

My point here is that blogs may represent the impending return of discourse in America, assuming that Postman's view is with merit. Even the media machine, in all of their hype and self-announced importance, have acknowledged the power of thousands of interlinked blogs on the Internet, to such important events as the Asian tsunami. Not only that, but I seem to remember reading that a blog recently uncovered a story that sent some news execs packing in recent months? Could there be a wave of relevence here?

At any rate, at least I can say for sure that blogs represent the return of my written discourse-for anyone willing to read what I have to say...

the new new thing

I am in charge of rolling out our company's service to our customers. Our customers are recruiting organizations within some of the most well known brands in America.

What we have built is truly a new new thing - built directly from feedback by recruiters dating back to my first days on the job-so you could say built for recruiters, by recruiters.

That being said, I am spending much of my time thinking hard about how we help recruiters make a shift and see the proactive nature and also how every use of Jobster is a value building activity. I wonder if there is an analogy for compounding interest in a bank account?

Then there are the plain facts (at a more tactical level) that Jobster will help recruiters find great people that they would not have previously found, and probably passive talent at that.

Let me give a real example; as users of our early versions of the service since Sept 2004, we are beginning to see a critical mass with each incremental use of the service. Economies of scale are at work for us as a company using our own service. My goal is to get our customers to that same point of scale & critical mass.

How will we do that? Good question- we are learning every day :-)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Dan G. from left field

So, an old Army colleague randomly found me the other day and sent me an email. I am still not sure how he found me- it has been almost 9 years since I out-processed. As my Sgt Major at the time said, "We gonna give you a ham sandwitch & a road map- and put you out da' Army." That they did.

Turns out that he is looking to rejoin as a JAG officer. I had questions about why a practicing lawyer would do this, but I will get to that later. The point is that his military record from the time we served together has a blemish. Don't get me wrong, he had an honorable discharge- but without getting into the details- attached to his record was something that was completely false and misleading to any third party reviewer.

Dan has spent the last few months tracking down Army buddies to write letters to the Dept of the Army JAG Corps and "testify" that no such situations/issues existed. He even found my first company commander, Captain Slaughter (yes, that is his real name- straight out of G.I. Joe comics). Now Colonel Slaughter, he also wrote up a memo and had an amazing memory of both Dan and I- which was impressive. I told him I would absolutely write something up. Knowing how the military works, I guess it is no mystery how once sentence on someone's record can screw him over.

Glad to do it, Dan- let's see if we can't get this squared away and "put you back in da' Army."

master of none - just let me contribute

Regardless of where life has taken me, I have always taken pride in being a generalist. I am not a soldier, an analyst, a product manager, a developer, a home builder, or anything else by trade. At first I thought that this was because I started out my adult life as a consultant (a.k.a big 5 workhorse)- but that is not it. My father was quick to remind me that this tendency goes back to childhood. Experiences like the Army only honed this skill - instilling focus on the objective at hand and being willing to get your hands dirty.

The jury is still out about whether I will look back and wish I could say I was a a master of foo, or an expert in blah. Right now, what I would like to be able say with certainty is that my "utility player" approach to business may be what is making me a valuable team member. Not only do I get to do a lot of cool & new things, but I will never get bored...

Monday, March 07, 2005

yes...yard dart

The great thing about yard darts (prior to being outlawed of course) is that as a kid you would muster everything in your being to hurl these metal, pointy spears into the air- usually with no inkling of where this flying projectile may land, or how far it would go.

This seemed to fit my career trajectory up until March of last year. I tried the consultant thing and the big company thing - only to find out that these were lousy tosses of my yard dart. I learned a lot along the way, no doubt.

In March of 2004, I came into contact with Jason S. Goldberg, former Clinton White House aide, T-Mobile Director- a guy who dropped everything to hatch an idea that he had. Sure, the fact that he and I had several meetings on location at Ignition Partners offices (Jobster's early backers) surely helped matters. He had a great powerpoint deck & a hell of a pitch that spoke to me on several levels. BUT, at the time he was a one man show- no other employees, no real company formed at the time. That said, there were many reasons why my cushy and promising career at Microsoft was the place to stay. Nevermind that my wife and I had a 3 month old newborn!

I remember distinctly what Jason said to me that sealed the deal. He told me a story about the Oklahoma City bombing, that horribly tragic event that very abruptly erased the popular American view that terrorism only happens outside our borders. Jason was the top aide to Clinton's Chief of Staff, who was traveling outside the country. Jason found himself, at a very young age, running the Administrations response to the tragedy, including the coordination of the President's visit to the site. Can you imagine?

His point in telling me this story was to say that he had reached the pinnacle of his professional career while in his early & mid twenties. His realization was that very few things he could do going forward would come close to the challenges of that experience. In what I would soon learn is "classic Jason" style, he vowed not to let that fact stop him from trying. Jobster is a company he has been building ever since. I guess I am not sure anymore that his pinnacle is truly behind him.

For the first time in my career, I feel like I have truly hurled my yard dart into the stratosphere with some sense of purpose- joining Jobster, an emerging Internet services company in Seattle. The great thing is that although I know not exactly where this will land, the experience itself will more than make up for the ambiguity of it all.