I'm passionate about building customer-facing teams that thrive in chaotic startup environments. I've managed support, community, training and professional services in both early and mid stage startup environments. I understand the challenges startups face with regards to product/market fit, business model changes and constrained resources.
Feel free to scroll down and learn more about my background, core values and preferred techniques.
I love startups
I am technical
I listen well
I have led a lot of teams through adversity and growth
I am an experienced trainer and coach
I founded my first startup right after I graduated from university. My co-founder and I did a class project for a cost-accounting course that turned into a software solution for municipalities to better understand their costs. Since neither of us had any idea what we were doing, we folded the business after about a year and went our separate ways.
My path took me to the Silicon Valley where I've mostly worked in VC-funded startups. The pattern has been early or mid-stage (Seed/Series A/Series B) when the product is coming together and the company is looking for a technical leader to manage customer relationships.
Because I have a technical background that includes programming, networking, database design and systems architecture, I have gravitated towards software companies whose products have technical complexity. This has included fintech, developer and API platforms, SAAS and eCommerce.
Concurrently, I've also had a career in the US Army as an infantry officer. That gave me an early exposure to formal leadership training and opportunities to put it into practice. I have developed skillsets in strategy, planning, operations in resource-constrained dynamic environments (sound familiar?) and training design and management. I've applied these skills in complex training environments, organizational development and combat deployments. Later in my career, I transitioned to Civil Affairs where I was formally trained in information collection, cultural assessment and human interaction.
I've also been blessed to have worked for startups who were founded outside of the United States. This gave me the opportunity to build and lead teams in very different cultural contexts.
Over the past 20+ years, I've developed a reputation for being a thoughtful, innovative leader who attracts great talent and develops effective leaders while improving performance that is aligned with business goals and outcomes
My work is driven by a deep-seated passion that is ignited by optimism and new ideas. The spark of a new concept doesn't just intrigue me; it fuels my drive to push boundaries, innovate and drive others to win. I thrive on the energy that comes from working together, believing strongly in the potential of collective effort and shared goals.
I immerse fully into projects, dedicated not just in time but in spirit, striving to make a meaningful impact. I embrace challenges as opportunities to learn, grow, and inspire others.
I am committed to being candid, direct, and clear everything I say and do. My approach is to be forthright, believing that honesty is the foundation of trust and respect.
As an authentic individual, I don't conceal my true feelings or opinions just to fit in or satisfy others. I live by my values and beliefs, understanding that this honesty not only builds trust with others but also enriches my own life.
Acknowledging both my strengths and weaknesses, I aim to lead a life full of personal integrity and self-awareness, making it more fulfilling and meaningful.
My engagements start with curiosity. I ask a lot of questions and take a lot of notes. My goal is to understand how others are experiencing the current environment and get to the "why".
Too often, experts come in, see things that are clearly suboptimal and render their judgments before asking anyone WHY things are being done a certain way. Having been on the pointy end of this more than a few times, I know the frustration and distrust that can quickly build.
In my experience, the overwhelming majority of people are trying to do the right thing. So my goal is to listen, build trust through a deep understanding of the problems and then develop solutions that address current and foreseeable future challenges.
Assuming an organization has a vision, the critical next step is to evaluate the organizational structure to ensure that it aligns with that vision, the culture and the people. I learned the importance of this in the Army, where our planning is anchored around defining a goal ("mission") and then task organizing the team to best achieve this mission.
Poorly designed organizations will suffer from poor communications, misaligned incentives and frustrated team members.
Organization is more than an org chart. It is the sum of the management structure, processes and the knowledge archiyecture. By designing all these to work together, the team can focus on what they do best - create value.
I develop strategies that leverage customer relationships to create business value, not the other way round. Customer-centricity is a technique, not the goal.
Support teams often see themselves as lonely, embattled representatives of the customers interests. This is usually because leaders have failed to connect the team's activities to any meaningful business outcomes. "Just keep our customers happy" can be a recipe for dysfunction and frustration.
I recognize that the value that Support creates will change over time, usually correlating with product and commercial maturity.