Another Wonderful Day at the CIO Leadership Event

Today was fabulous! The day began with some discussion on gamification, then rolled into a great session from Tom Wilson, CEO of Allstate. Probably my favorite session of the day was from David Williams, CEO of Deloitte Financial Services.

The conference is a bit lite on vendors which is a good thing, but the vendors that are present have been very helpful. CareerBuilder, Dimension Data, Dell, Service Now, and Microsoft.

Looking forward to another exciting day tomorrow!

Becoming a Better CIO

This weekend I’m experiencing the wonderful weather of Boca Raton, Florida. However, it’s not all fun and games unless of course you consider that I love my job and the company I have the pleasure of working at for the last 12 years.

Since being appointed as the company’s first ever CIO in January 2012, I’ve been on a quest to grow my abilities to better serve the company. We’re very dependent on technology. It permeates every project, business and initiative that we undertake. That’s the driving factor of attending this year’s CIO Leadership Event put on by CIO magazine.

Today was just a warm up. As with any event, networking is a huge plus. The amount of knowledge you gain from a simple conversation is amazing. Playing golf with Dale from Blue Cross Blue Shield in Birmingham, Alabama, Shad from Elavon, and Bryan from Dimension Data was a great start to the day. Not sure I enjoyed getting up at 6:15 or being the worst golfer on our team, but at least I ended the game well by having the longest drive on the last hole! Other notable persons I was able to connect with today included Houston Ross with ING Life Insurance and Geoff Sinn with Dimension Data, a cloud solutions provider.

In the afternoon, I had the opportunity to attend a Cloud Maturity discussion facilitated by Dimension Data. About 30 people were in attendance with several CIOs, some directors from various verticals including B2B, Insurance, Education, and even the LPGA was in attendance. I didn’t walk away with any earth shattering information, but I did walk away with a great contact and possible future vendor in Dimension Data.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

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Great Mobile and Digital Info from Mary Meeker

I’m spending some time working on mobile and digital strategy today and came across some work by Mary Meeker. After discovering Mary a few years ago at the Web 2.0 Summit, her research has become some of my favorite to read.

If you’re working in the digital space, this is some great material

Mary Meeker – Internet Trends, 05/2012

Economic Factors in the USA, USA, Inc. Presentation by Mary Meeker, July 2011

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Leadership Lessons from Bill Hybels

Great leadership ability is not something you attain. It’s something you constantly work to improve and refine. I find it extremely interesting that the best leaders are always looking for ways to improve. They never see leadership from the lens of “I’ve arrived.”

On August 9th and 10th, our leadership team was able to attend the Willowcreek Leadership Summit. As usual, the summit was phenomenal event. While I was unable to attend the full two days, I was very fortunate to fit a couple of the key speakers into my busy schedule. One of my favorites was Bill Hybels. Rather than taking time to write up my own summary, I’m taking the easy way out and cheating a little. Enjoy these fabulous summaries. 🙂

Mark Sanborn

Mark Waltz

Lifepoint Leadership

Productivity Quest

To say 2012 has been an active year for me would be a grievous understatement. A new assistant at work, a promotion to CIO, joining our company’s board of directors, participating on the Nashville Technology Council‘s board of directors, moving forward the Iota Soul project to help orphans, and all the while raising 6 children. Wow. I’m exhausted.

This year as I turn 42, time has become especially sensitive topic for me. As a result of the demands on my time have increased, I’ve been seeking new ways to eek out some productivity. One of the items that’s high on the list is Producteev. Producteev is a slick, simple and robust little task management tool. While most online software like this grants single user free accounts, producteev allows task sharing and assignment. Now my assistant and I can share tasks. Producteev is also one of the few task management tools we’ve found that supports both PC, MAC, iphone and ipad. We’re still in trial mode, but so far, we’re loving it.

Producteev

A View on Innovation

As always, I had an interesting conversation with my friend Matthew Ensor today. Matthew is a Technical Team Leader/Programmer/Product Developer for Dave Ramsey’s MyTotalMoneyMakeover.com product. The topic at hand was functional business practices vs. innovation. A common contention between established businesses and companies that innovate. As the discussion normally goes, small companies innovate because they aren’t bogged down with bureaucracy. They’ve got nothing to lose. As companies grow from small startups to established businesses, they trade in this “nothing to lose flair” for the “we need to play it safe” which ultimately leads to their demise.

Our discussion prompted Matthew to share this article from Cooper.com.

From Cooper.com (Matthew’s Synopsis)
The counter-argument to giving freedom to creative people is they will fritter it away enjoying themselves but not moving the company forward. This can be a valid criticism in companies that lack a worthwhile corporate goal. However, if creative people know what that goal is, they will work hard to achieve it.

What business leaders must do is make certain creative people know the goal. They must hear it stated clearly, unequivocally, boldly, loudly, unanimously, and frequently. They need to know what successfully achieving the goal looks like. They need to be publicly and positively acknowledged (rewarded is good, too) when they advance the business mission.

Article from Cooper.com

A Look at Website Split Testing

We started split testing over at daveramsey.com several years ago. When we first started, we used custom code to pull it off. In 2008, we took the jump over to Omniture’s Test and Target product line.

A/B Split Testing is an important tool in the arsenal of online business. That’s one of the reasons I found this post by 37 Signals so interesting. It was extremely clear and straight to the point.

37 Signals - Baseline Test

37 Signals - A/B Split Testing

Email Marketing

Email marketing has a been a mainstay of online advertising for over 10 years. Granted the spammers gave it a bad name, but it’s still a great way to get some killer ROI for your time and money. In fact, even with Facebook’s big time press, email still delivers more value.

Just like any industry, vendors come in at all levels. Entry Level up to Top Tier Enterprise vendors like Exact Target and Responsys.

Short List of Quality Email Vendors

While we’ve used several email marketing vendors over the years at daveramsey.com, I’ve been really jazzed this weekend while working on my side project to build awareness about the 175 million orphans worldwide.

My project is still in it’s infancy, so there’s no big budget to leverage. That’s why I was so jazzed to run across MailChimp. Yes MailChimp, but they’re not monkeying around. It’s a solid little tool just perfect for someone like me with a start up project. However, they’re also prime for some strong mid and high level business needs.

I’d heard the name before, but never had the need for an email marketing tool outside my work for Dave Ramsey. MailChimp is a feature rich tool, with a slick and easy to use interface. Honestly, it’s a lot easier than many of the other tools I’ve seen while researching email tools for daveramsey.com. Best of all, it’s free for lists up to 2,500 people, and it’s good for 12,500 email sends a month…FREE!

After an easy rollout of my first legit email marketing campaign for iotasoul.com, I felt compelled to put in a good word for the Mail Monkey responsible. 🙂

Mail Chimp - Email Marketing Vendor

Hiring and Recruiting Guidance

The ability to hire quality people is one of the most important tasks that any organization will engage. Get that one thing right, and everything else gets a lot easier. Get it wrong, and it could mark the downfall of your business.

After making my first hire in 2002, I’ve been honored to screen and hire 70+ people with varied skill sets including programming, support, admin, marketing, creative, and project management. Looking back over the years, I’ve been very fortunate. At the time, I did what came naturally. Each new interview allowed me to gain experience. Having never received any training on conducting interviews or recruiting, it’s been a pretty good run. However, I did encounter a few failed interviews and hires that would have been nice to have avoided. So how could this journey have been done it differently? Where do you get good training and resources for conducting interviews as a small business leader?

Several months ago, I was fortunate to come in contact with John Kepley, CEO of Teknetex. While meeting with John and conversing about the Nashville tech recruiting scene, he mentioned a book. Who? The A Method for Hiring. Recently, I finished the book on a rather lengthy plane trip to LA. I wish someone had given me this book 10 years ago!

Some high level takeaways

  • Hire A players. Hire the people that will give you a 90% chance to accomplish what only 10% of the people can achieve.
  • Follow a process: 1) The Scorecard, 2) Source: Generating a Flow of A Players, 3) Select: The Four Interviews for Spotting A Players, 4) Sell: The Top 5 Ways to Seal the Deal

“Who” is the first book I’ve read with a solid repeatable interview process. While the process I’ve been following for years has proven to yield solid results, I’ve already begun integrating some of the “Who” principles into my process. Thanks Geoff Smart and Randy Street!

Who? The A Method for Hiring