might save a month on the project just by walking over and
asking, “How’s everything going?”
When I’m in my office, Yammer is always up on my screen. If
you just need to talk to one person, e-mail’s fine. But Yammer
allows you to share information with a lot of people and have a
discussion about it. You can use it for status updates on projects
or to ask a question or to post an interesting article that you think
will be helpful. Basically, it’s a place to share and get help.
Every team at the company has its own group in Yammer. I’m
Product design is my main focus. Everyone in our company
most interested in product design, sales, and customer support,
so I’m constantly checking those groups.
uses Yammer, which is great, because you have better intuitions
about a product that you yourself use. I designed the first version
of Yammer myself, but as the company has
grown, my direct supervision over the
product has diminished. Now we have a
dozen product managers and designers
working on new features and upgrades.
In the past, I would walk around and
look over the designers’ shoulders to see
what they were doing. I’m impatient. But
I’ve been told that’s jarring for some peo-
ple. Now we have two scheduled product
reviews a week. The product manager and
designer present what they’re working on,
and I comment on it.
I check Twitter every day. I read every
single tweet that mentions Yammer. I also
get Google Alerts, so anytime somebody writes about us online,
I read it. I want to know what people are saying, so I can keep
improving the product and the company.
I’m in a perpetual state of frustration over the product. I
want it to be perfect, and it’s not. At least we can always make
changes and progress toward that goal. One of the things I
didn’t like about the movie business was that once you lock the
film, it’s done. I can’t really watch Thank You for Smoking,
because I always see these little imperfections that I can’t fix.
I meet with our sales managers at the beginning of each quar-
ter. Sales is probably the area in which I’ve had to learn the most.
Anyone can use Yammer for free. You just sign up and invite your
co-workers. We offer premium features, such as integrating Yam-
mer with a company’s intranet, for a recurring fee. When we first
started, I had this naive view that sales would just take care of
itself—people would just pull out their company credit card and
buy. But companies, especially large enterprises, like to talk to
somebody. They’ve got concerns about security, privacy, and com-
pliance. So you really need salespeople to engage with them. We
didn’t have any salespeople when we started. Now we have 30.
I do a few sales calls a week when one of the reps wants help
closing a deal. I like to hear firsthand what customers want and
what their objections are. If companies aren’t buying premium
upgrades, I need to know why. And that needs to be factored
in to the product or the overall company strategy.
“i’m in a perpetual
state of frustration
over the product.
i want it to be perfect,
and it’s not.”
make it home for dinner. I wish I were more disciplined. I don’t
have a set time that I go to bed or leave the office. I just do all
the work that’s in front of me, and then I look up and say, “Oh,
wait, it’s midnight; I should get home.”
I try to save my weekends to spend with my kids. I usually
spend the weekend doing things they will enjoy. Even though I
don’t go in to the office on the weekends, that doesn’t mean I’m
not thinking about work.
Disconnecting is very hard for me. I think about work con-
I don’t believe in hobbies—if you are really passionate about
stantly. I wish I had an On/Off switch. My wife is good at bring-
ing it to my attention. We’ll be at dinner or spending time with
the kids, and she’ll notice me tuning out. I’m trying to get better.
something, it should be your job—but I do like to play poker.
I play a couple of times a month. Phil Hellmuth is in my poker
group. He’s won the world championship and has 11 World
Series of Poker bracelets. I’m not in the same league as he is,
but I’m not a donkey.
Playing poker and running a start-up are similar in some
ways. Mostly, you have to be comfortable with ambiguity. If
you’re the type who likes to very carefully weigh 99 percent of the
data before you make a decision, you’re not cut out to run a
start-up. At best, you’ll have 60 percent of the data. And you have
to make a lot of your decisions based on intuition.
124 | iNc. | november 2011