Some things fall into my ‘extremely picky’ category: doors, windows, pillows, seafood, and tomatoes. Doors and windows make or break a home design. Pillows make or break a good night’s sleep. There is nothing like local fresh seafood (think Pacific NW salmon). And chips with salsa are divine. Excellent salsa requires homegrown tomatoes. Once you’ve tasted homegrown tomatoes, it’s hard to consume the inferior store-bought variety. And there it is — I have evolved into a food snob who is fond of beautiful architecture and deep slumber.
Similar to excellent seafood and tomatoes, I am picky about the company for whom I work for. Returning to a less mature job experience is hard after the palate enjoys mature working practices. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some outstanding companies throughout my career — places where respect for people abounds, where inspiration thrives, and remarkable products get created.
It was in Portland where I caught my first glimpse of one remarkable product during a series of brief presentations in April of 2017. The unique capabilities of this product immediately intrigued me along with everyone else in the room. Oh, the possibilities to connect all the different tools teams use! The ‘too-many-tools problem’ is as common as the too-many-meetings problem. Invisible work, duplicate entries, and replication issues between multiple tools are no fun.
This product caught my eye with its delightful visual aspect. Bringing visibility to otherwise invisible problems is a major win in my book. Using this product, we can actually see the paths work takes as it flows across the value stream from beginning to end through different departments — including upfront business teams such as finance and marketing. I thought to myself, “Where do I download this? I know about 1000 companies who could use this capability today!” But before I could ask, another impressive presentation began, followed by lunch, followed by a writing session, followed by life, and the need to focus on my highest priority of the day.
Fast forward two months later, on a call with a friend, I mentioned my upcoming availability. The response was immediate, “I know the perfect place for you! Let me make a call.” 15 minutes later, my phone rang. It was Mik Kersten, CEO of Tasktop and presenter of the remarkable product in Portland. Must admit — this is my preferred way to land an interview. Distributing resumes into black holes and succumbing myself to a stressful job search is something I’d rather avoid. A friend’s recommendation and a call from the CEO certainly helps, but it in no way seals the deal. Additional introductions commenced.
Every once in a blue moon, an introduction to someone new results in an immediate bond. And so it was during my interview with Tasktop COO, Neelan Choksi — whom I could have talked to all day — an unusual occurrence for me as I usually work to shorten meetings where possible. Neelan exuded everything I look for in leadership — respect for people, a sense of humor, excitement for what they are doing, smart, experienced, a mannerism of confidence from success – yet unpretentious, and someone who could mentor me.
Located in Vancouver BC, Tasktop headquarters is conveniently located in my same time zone. I like math, but I can get used to less addition and subtraction when scheduling meetings. Same time zone offers more options to connect with people during normal business hours. Three options exist to travel to Vancouver from my hometown of Seattle. A one-hour flight, a three-hour drive, and a four-hour train ride that passes through some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in the world. Options are good.
Checking out headquarters, curious about the ever-so-important cultural aspect of the company, it was a delight to observe a leadership meeting. And lo and behold, the number of women roughly equaled the number of men sitting around the table. Everyone was invited to speak (including me) while everyone else listened.
A key measure of a great team is where everyone on the team has equal floor time to talk while everyone else listens. Communication is an important predictor of a team’s success — in order to do great things, we need everyone to listen more than they talk.
Smart people – check. Necessary product – check. Respect for people – check. Good communication – check. Nice location – check.
It’s a pleasure to announce that I work alongside brilliant, talented and respectful people (they are Canadian) on one of the most elegant and important tools needed in the interconnected world of business. As Director of Digital Transformation at Tasktop, I get to help people automatically visualize their workflow and reduce coordination costs across siloed teams – – an effort near and dear to my heart.