They found me through Quora? An Unexpected Job Opportunity

Quora is a great place to post questions to knowledgeable folks and to answer questions that are interesting to you. So when I wrote an answer to Twitter: Is Twitter an effective customer service tool? (by the way—it’s awesome for that) I had no idea that a post I wrote in March about customer care evolution would end up in an amazing new job opportunity.

Matthew G Trifiro, SVP of Marketing at Assistly in San Francisco, contacted me on Quora to let me know he really liked the piece and wondered if I would meet him for dinner the next time I was in San Francisco. I was totally flattered, and of course I said yes to this kind offer. And it started some amazing things in motion that never would have happened had I not shared my thoughts on Quora in the spirit of learning and growing by interacting freely (something that my friend Eric Koester calls “karma networking.”) The way Matt reached out to me, the interaction that we had both over Skype and in person when we met in San Francisco, and the trust and openness that he demonstrated paved the way for great things.

I had heard about Assistly’s product before, and thought about adopting it for my responsibilities at Gist. Like many startup companies, at Gist we adopted a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model for our Customer Support, and I was one of the administrators of our Zendesk solution. I’ve used Help Desk software from larger companies like RightNow and BMC’s Remedy, and understood the value of having a inexpensive solution that delivered many of the features of these enterprise systems, without the big price tag and personnel requirements.

I immediately saw that Assistly had customer service and social channels in its DNA (See… for more info) The ability to respond easily to customer issues in Facebook, Twitter, and email and also to create custom data structures for an installation was really powerful. These were two of the things I had really wanted to do in Zendesk and had never been able to complete successfully.

But product functionality wasn’t really the point here.

The way Matt acted spoke volumes about the way his company engaged. He found me in a social channel; engaged me in that channel; and then we met in person in San Francisco and shared a meal. Guess what? We got along – and it’s not just because we both appreciate good food. Matt and I connected because we share a passion to provide great customer service (he calls it Customer Wow) not just in our jobs, but everywhere, because engage = win.

So I had met an interesting executive at an interesting company in a field where I had good experience (cool!) Assistly was a great potential fit for me, but I wasn’t really looking for a job—Gist was acquired by Research In Motion (company) in February, and we still had work to do to reach BlackBerry scale. And then Matt unleashed his Ninja recruiting move—which was really just an opportunity to collaborate. Would I add my thoughts to an e-book Assistly was finishing up—Customer Service at the Speed of Twitter—a sort of primer of best practices for delivering Customer Wow via the Twitter channel. Working on this project was a great fit for me because it allowed me to learn more about how Matt and his team interacted on a real project.

What happened next? Some great things. I met more of the teamDan Stern, VP of Customer Wow; Mark Briggs, the VP of Sales; and Alex Bard, CEO of Assistly. I was impressed by all of them, particularly because one thing kept coming up over and over again: being great to customers. It’s easy to find bad service—in fact, it’s all around you—and any company that provides (and demonstrates) service as a core value is one to watch.

One month later, I am the Director of Customer Wow at Assistly. I’m excited at the amazing opportunity to interact with our customers at powerful brands (and at the brands you’ve never heard of and might never hear about.) The passion I bring to Customer Wow is the same emotion I want to instill in everyone who uses Assistly or who contacts us—customer love and the expectation of being treated well as an everyday experience—I think it’s going to be fun. I’ve already been writing about exceeding customer expectations on my personal blog ( and on a companion blog where I chronicle those who Deliver the Awesome ( and now I look forward to meeting you! (And thanks, Matt, for believing in and participating in new social technologies where great conversations can happen.)

p.s. Thanks Quora!

Post on Quora

Starting a new job is never easy, so just jump in!

Diving Into And Out Of The Sky - Photo by

Tomorrow’s the beginning of a new chapter for me – I’m leaving Gist and joining Assistly. It’s been a great run and I am looking forward to staying in touch with my good friends and Gist and to gaining new friendships at Assistly (Seattle peeps – I’m not moving, and San Francisco peeps – I’m going to see you a lot more often ;).

There are a few key things I’ve noticed in this transition about starting a new job which could also apply nicely to most new things that you want to try, so here they are:

Act Like You’re Already Doing It.

Some might call this “fake it until you make it,” but I think the single most important thing you can do when you are starting a new opportunity is to act like you’re already doing it. For some jobs (like astronaut) this might be slightly impractical but for most folks there is ample opportunity to demonstrate both to yourself and to your new employer and co-workers that you are capable, willing, and eager to do the new job. (Who knows, you might learn some valuable skills as you’re doing it.)

Be Willing to Make Different Mistakes at Your New Job

If you’ve been in your current role for more than a year or two, you’ve probably made your fair share of mistakes (good! Hopefully you learned from them and they were the kind of mistakes that weren’t un-fixable.) So, when you move to your new role, if you’re willing to open yourself to the possibility that you will make new and different mistakes (probably also hoping to make fixable ones ;), you’ll probably learn more about your abilities and the new job while you’re at it.

Just Do It.

There’s no substitute for jumping in and doing the work. You can think about it all you want, but like the classic The Mythical Man-Month, throwing more preparation at your new job doesn’t guarantee success (if you’re an astronaut or if you work in an ISO9000 industry, it probably helps, but that’s a relatively small percentage of the working population.) Even if you have specialized skills that took you years to learn and perfect, using those skills in a new environment, with new co-workers and new customers is going to teach you some new things.

Keep Your Eyes Open

Pretty soon this will seem like “your job” again, so acknowledge that you are going through a special time where you have the opportunity to learn a lot and expand your brain (and don’t forget to have fun, too.) Victor Turner writes about the quality of being “liminal” and being not in one place or the other – this is the essence of the beginning of a new experience. So embrace it. I’m trying to do so this week, and in the coming months ahead.

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