Eric Steege is an energetic product leader with over a decade of experience leading large-scale innovation-focused product teams.
With what I think might be a perfect background for a product leader, Eric actually started his career as a pro soccer player and then a Division 1 college soccer coach with a masters in sports psychology! He’s been a founder and product director as well, and currently works at Amazon AWS, building the world’s largest community of product management and innovation consultants. Basically, his teams help other companies adopt Amazon’s secret sauce for building new products and businesses. He’s deep
This conversation goes into an area that I’m really interested to explore more deeply, which is about how to approach culture building. We riff a lot here, exploring different ideas around how to approach your culture like a product.
Please enjoy learning with Eric Steege.
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Transcripts may contain some typos. With some episodes lasting ~2 hours, it can be difficult to catch minor errors. Enjoy!
Andrew Skotzko 00:01:17 Eric, welcome to the show. How are you today?
Andrew Skotzko 00:01:21 Absolutely. Thanks for being here. I’m thrilled. We’re going to have this conversation. I think you have such an interesting perspective to come at this entire conversation from not just on a cultural lens, but also, you know, your working product. I didn’t realize that you actually started your career doing college soccer coaching. That’s right. I was like, wow, that is unusual. Like tell me about that. And how’d you get into that and how does that shape you today?
Eric Steege 00:01:43 That’s a great question. First off, excited to be here and I’m most excited. We were talking about this right before we went live, uh, talking about culture and transformation and product, but not sort of intuitively come together, but looking forward to talk through that. And a lot of these ideas are a little bit newer, um, and, and not super polished. And haven’t presented, you know, to, to hundreds of people in a, in a, in a conference before. So excited to dive in and just explore this new topic with you. So, yeah, I played, uh, college and so professional soccer and then after, uh, an injury and not getting my contract renewed, an opportunity to join the coaching ranks, uh, coached some division, one college soccer in the U S. And what position do you play? Uh, I started out, uh, in, at Ford, but the more, the more advanced the further back the field I went. So I don’t know what that meant.
Andrew Skotzko 00:02:37 I think it means you’ve got smarter and you could see the whole game better instead of just like trying to put it in the goal at the end.
Eric Steege 00:02:42 I, I think that’s right. I, uh, I read the game well and could organize, but maybe I wasn’t quite as, uh, as athletic as some of the other attackers that, uh, stayed up, stayed up top. Hmm.
Andrew Skotzko 00:02:53 We’ll go with that. It works. It speaks well to you to your mental capabilities, right? So you were doing pro soccer thing and then you got hurt,
Eric Steege 00:03:01 You know, injuries are part of the game and it’s sort of the classic it’s easy to do well when everything is running smoothly. When you get along with the coach, when you’re at the top of your fitness and, and it’s, it’s hard, it’s the hard part. And sort of, I think where, you know, this is true for anything like, you know, professional standout from sort of the more junior people is that you’re able to still perform well, when things aren’t going, going smoothly, we’re not all the cards are aligned. And so, um, yeah, got injured and just by the sort of right time to, to move on. And I didn’t really have a backup plan, but the opportunity presented stuff with coaching. And I think a lens also to, um, a little bit being the field general and organizing, you know, from a defensive standpoint, uh, that led me into coaching. So got into coaching. And first, first job was actually coach high school soccer, but then got into, um, coaching at West Virginia university and was there with the men’s team there for a couple of years, and then got into a couple of the jobs.
Andrew Skotzko 00:03:57 You always hear this term player coach, but you actually are a player. You actually were a player and the code. Right. How did that change your perspective on, on things like moving from on the field to the sideline?
Eric Steege 00:04:09 Yeah, that’s a good question. I, I, uh, you know, what I think is interesting about soccer and again, this is a funny cause like we’re diving at a sports here versus project culture, but I think the interesting, like lots of sports, you know, every sport’s unique and you have your individual sports where it’s just you out there. And like, if you, you know, like tennis or golf and so there’s a different kind of pressure and sort of mindset to that, and then there’s team sports. And I think what’s interesting about, uh, the team sports is obviously the people dynamic and you it’s, it’s, it’s in your own head, but it’s also like, how do you, how do you as a team sort of do something better than, you know, sort of a bunch of individuals. And, and then I think even in soccer, it’s interesting because this is true for like basketball and hockey, where once the ball’s rolled out there, so it’s a players game, there’s no timeouts or there’s very few timeouts.
Eric Steege 00:04:56 There’s not as many set plays, you know, like, like in some of the other sports where you literally, you know, a coach can, can call every pitch in baseball essentially. And, uh, you know, call in to call in the pitch to the catcher and the catcher relays it to the pitcher or football where you have a bunch of plays and even a football, you know, the, some of the strategy is you can script the first 20 plays and then after that you’ll serve, adjust. And so I think there’s, you know, the player coaches, you have to do all your work, you know, in soccer, like in preparation and sort of treat and sort of create problem solvers and create sort of, uh, sort of like now what put it in context of product, but like decision-making frameworks where players can understand, like, here’s how we’re going to play in this situation.
Eric Steege 00:05:39 Here’s what I’m going to try to do, but it can’t be completely robotic or scripted. And so you have to sort of build those capabilities in, in the practice field and sort of do the simulation. So people can then sort of feel confident and execute, you know, on their own, essentially in the game. And then in the game, you’re, you don’t really have that big of role as much as to yell and cheer for the sideline. It’s, it’s, it’s a lot less involved than, you know, in some of the other sports. And that, that was the biggest shift, not being directly, uh, able to impact the outcome of the game.
Andrew Skotzko 00:06:09 I didn’t take sports to the levels you did, but I also grew up playing a lot of sports and I’ve always been fascinated by coaching specifically. And it’s such an interesting pivot point from sport to, to the world that we spend our time in, in terms of company and product building. I’m curious to get your take, you know, in the world of sports, we have these very defined, you know, the games are very well-defined right. They’re finite games to use that language from Simon Sinek. And then he’s referencing, um, James Carsey, finite and infinite games from like 20 years prior. But anyways, the reason I bring this up is that soccer or any sport to find a game, you know, known players, set rules, we know how this goes and it’s well constrained. And so the way you develop players is much more understood, but I found that the analogy I I’m trying to figure out what’s the equivalent in the world of business or in product of, okay, like, what is our equivalent of running two minute drills from football? Or how are we simulating these complex intense situations for people when they’re kind of quote, performing, like playing the game all the time and there is less practice. Have you thought about that at all?
Eric Steege 00:07:16 Yeah. I mean, I think there’s always innovation. Um, but just like in product, you know, there’s no one metrics now, like there’s sort of a, a little bit of a, you know, a SAS B2B playbook, right. And, um, there’s some, some of the, you know, the, I’m sure there’s sort of the equivalent of two minute drills for like customer acquisition and growth, growth hacking and stuff like that. But you know, every, you know, every business model a little bit different than once in a while, you sort of have, you know, something fundamentally, you know, some new fundamental business model, like an Airbnb or an Uber, which, you know, sort of seems so obvious in hindsight, but it was actually pretty game changing.
Andrew Skotzko 00:07:52 I think it’s a really nice pivot point into the main topic we’re going to talk about today, which is about culture and how do you treat your culture like a product itself. And one of the analogies that I think might help us make this, this leap here and make this bridge is there’s a, you know, as I was listening to you talk about being a coach on the sidelines, right. And building frameworks that, that goes to a lot of the ways I think about leadership in terms of one of the core roles that someone has to do in coaching and leading is teaching others to think basically, and to execute as you would want them to execute. Right. Even if you’re not around, I think that’s a really interesting exploration. Like there’s two ideas that are bubbling up here that maybe I’m going to just tee them up to you and see where you want to take them.
Andrew Skotzko 00:08:31 That’s the first one, the second one is this idea that, um, the job of a leader is to create an environment where people can sort of rise and play to their natural best right. To develop and express their, their unique talents in the best way possible. Um, and that by creating the right environment, those talents will be expressed and the whole team will rise together. So I just tee that up for you as a jumping off point. What do you hear in that? And, and where do you want to go with that? I think we
Eric Steege 00:08:56 Should jump up both of those, but those are good. I think let’s start on the second one. So, cause I think that’s a good sort of framing. Like, um, my frame of references, I’ve been involved with a couple, you know, big, big company. So think about like fortune 200 companies, you know, over 10,000 employees, you know, culture transformations. And in my current role today, I’m actually at AWS, uh, in a, in a consulting role, you know, we’re, we’re providing professional services to customers that, that sort of ask how help us build products like Amazon and help us build a culture of innovation like Amazon. I think, I think there, um, you know, I think the lens, I like the lens that you framed it as leaders. How do we create an environment where we make it easy for employees to do the right behaviors that we want them to do?
Eric Steege 00:09:43 To me, that’s like what your culture is really culture. You know, there’s some very sort of, uh, academic, you know, cultural anthropologic definitions of culture that are tied to like all the, all the rituals and all the artifacts and all the stories that, that, uh, that a tribal tell. And I think that’s an interesting lens to, to look at it through. But I think like at the end of the day, culture is about behaviors and our people, you know, what, what behaviors are, is a collective group of people exhibiting on a daily basis. And so, um, I think under that lens, you know, culture transformation is really about how to create processes systems, you know, to, to allow people to do a sort of the quote unquote right thing, however you’re defining the right thing is, and to me, those should be observable behaviors. So that makes sense.
Eric Steege 00:10:33 Um, you know, so there, how do you get, and then how do you get intentional about those, like behaviors can happen accidentally or they can be highly intentional or, you know, if you take it back to the sports analogy, like practice makes perfect, you could be practicing perfectly wrong and like, think you’re doing a good job. But if, if, if you don’t know what good looks like, or those aren’t clear definitions of what’s valued, what’s expected, you know, you know, being an employee in a company, I think, you know, that’s where, you know, cultures just happened versus, uh, leaders and, and a company are intentional about the culture that they’re crafting and building.
Andrew Skotzko 00:11:09 Yeah. I think you’re really onto something there, like in a sense that culture, well, culture, culture will always happen, but probably not the one you want. And so I think the more, maybe better way to say it is, you know, what culture do you choose to cultivate that is going to be maybe not just a competitive advantage for your company, but you know, the kind of place you want your company to be, or your team to be. One of the things you’d mentioned to me before we went live was this idea of that. I’d love to hear you talk a little bit about, about running experiments on your culture, right? Because in the world of product development or just, I mean, the lean startup blew this up 10 years ago, but we’re all used to the idea of experimental thinking by now H two H three innovation, et cetera, et cetera. But I think applying that to culture is very interesting. And I’d love to hear you
Eric Steege 00:11:54 Talk a little bit about how you think about that. Yeah. So, um, it’s always been curious to me and I, I sort of think there’s like a gap between, you know, every, every company has values, you know, they, they put them up on a wall or put them on their website. Um, probably there’s something around being customer centric and being agile and don’t forget integrity. Yeah. And so these are sort of, yeah, these are sort of like catch phrases, buzz words, and they don’t really, you know, even innovation doesn’t really mean anything, but you know what I would challenge and you know, when I’ve been working on some of these transformation initiatives, I said, how do we get that to the next level of detail and take it to an observable behavior level? And so, so first you gotta define again, what, what are the behaviors we’re trying to do more of and do less of.
Eric Steege 00:12:40 And so, and obviously if that will be mapped to like being innovative or customer centric, you let’s, let’s stay with customer centric. So when observable, what observable behaviors should we see, uh, you know, when we go walk the floor, you know, go, go observe employees to, to let us know that we’re being more customer centric. And so if you do that thought exercise with leaders or managers, even employees does it matter. And they come up with some things that probably can maybe come up with, um, using more customer data, more, you know, thinking through the lens, you know, the perspective of a customer, which is a great, but, or you’re, we’re talking to customers more frequently, whatever more frequently is, you know, then you create a definition around that. Um, we’re, you know, and if it’s really tangible, you know, they might say something like if we were really customer centric, where do you know on average, you know, one of our teams are interacting with customers weekly, we’re taking those insights and we’re then converting those to do XYZ.
Eric Steege 00:13:40 And so if you start look through it through that lens, through the observable behavior lens, um, you know, that should have our product spidey sense. Uh, I think sort of perk up because we’re all I think, you know, train now, you know, as, as sort of modern prac managers to think about product is really about behavior change. Like how are we in ethical ways, getting people to help get on stock, getting people to, you know, do something they weren’t able to do before, you know, an unmet need. And, and a lot of times that’s, you know, doing some new behaviors or being able to do a behavior they weren’t previously able to do, you know, as well as they would’ve liked. And so, so if you apply that to culture, you know, we run, we run experiments all the time on how do we, how do we reduce, um, you know, uh, new, uh, new customers onboarding time and cut it in half?
Eric Steege 00:14:29 Or how do we get, um, you know, pharmaceutical company that I worked with, how do we reduce like the, the, the days to fill and get their first sort of medication and take it by half. So there’s a lot of behaviors to get there and a lot of design and product decisions to make, but same for culture. If you sort of get down to like, we, we should be seeing more of these behaviors to live customer centricity on a daily basis, let’s define those less and let’s create some ways to measure them and then we can run experiments against them. So, um, you know, I’ve been on product teams where we’re gonna, uh, we’ll, we’ll serve at a localized level set. Hey, we want to, we want to think bigger. We want to be bolder. And so, you know, we’ll, we’ll track like, you know, has somebody called out like weekly or like daily, like, and we’ll keep it like Italian, a scrum board.
Eric Steege 00:15:17 Um, like, did we, did we think big enough, like, did we pose the question? Do we think big enough as we were brainstorming the solution and we’ll track, like how often in a week did we start ask ourselves, do we think big enough, or, you know, again, back to like, how many customer interactions did we have this week, um, and, and sort of run experiments, like what might we do next week differently to increase that, um, or, or, you know, improve that metric. And so there’s experiments, you know, at the team level. And then I think experiments at the, uh, at a company level that we can be running and, and to have a lot more sort of intentionality around, um, tracking behaviors, running experiments, and determining are we actually living? Are we improving, you know, the behaviors that we have defined, uh, defined for our culture?
Andrew Skotzko 00:16:03 No, that makes a lot of sense to me. And it really reminds me of, um, two former guests on the podcast, Josh Seiden, uh, who wrote outcomes over output, which is, you know, one of those awesome books that I hope everybody reads. And I think he even had a little bit in there similar to kind of what you’re saying now, where he was saying, great, you know, this all comes down, as you just said to what is the change in human behavior that creates value, um, and that human who’s changing might be in your company, or it might be your customer or a supplier, or, you know, whatever the case may be, what occurs to me as I was listening to you, just, there is, there’s sort of two things that are coming up that I’m wondering about, because I I’ve, I will, I will admit I, when I have personally tried to work on any sort of culture change initiatives in the past, let’s just say it’s been difficult.
Andrew Skotzko 00:16:48 Sure. It hasn’t gone that well. Um, and so I find myself wondering like, okay, why don’t we do, you know, there’s many companies out there where we know we should be more customer centric, or we should be being more experimental and re having more prototypes earlier on in our development process or whatever you want to take, but why it’s like, why don’t people do the things that we figured out we ought to do. I’d love to brainstorm a little bit about that. Like the buy-in side of things. How do you get people actually on board with this? And I’m curious if you have any, any personal stories that you’ve lived through about how that either worked or didn’t.
Eric Steege 00:17:26 Yeah. So I think there’s sort of two, there’s like a bottom up and a top-down sort of approach, you know, to, to this. So, I mean, again, I would challenge any team, you know, especially a product team as you’re doing your retros, you should also be, retroing like, obviously what went well, but like, again, how, how could we have behaved differently? You know, are there, you know, if, if you have an emotional connection to your company, you have clear values stated, can you ask yourself at our localized team level? How could we have been more agile this week? How could we have been more, uh, you know, more transparent, right. And I think, you know, again, it’s, it’s easy just to sort of take those words and say, they’re sort of meaningless without definition, but sort of own that, you know, ownership is another value.
Eric Steege 00:18:10 Like I showed ownership this week. Like, what are the behaviors that us as a team could have exhibited more of this week? So I think there’s a lot at the localized level you can do, but obviously, you know, there’s a dependencies and there’s only so much you can do at the, at, at a service team level. But again, I would say, don’t forget, you know, there’s a lot of power and how do you want to operate as a team and sort of organize and then hold yourself accountable to your behaviors. And what are you sort of be the change you want to see in the world type thing, which I think is needed, but you only can get that so far. So that’s where you need the top down. And I think, um, I mean, I think you need some clear direction from, you know, a CEO and S and I know before we were, you know, we were talking about going live, like, does this apply to big companies or startups?
Eric Steege 00:18:55 I’d say both. Like, I think, you know, it’s never too early to design your culture and it’s never too late. I think it’s just, there’s a, I think a little bit more effort that you need, if when you get 10,000 people, it’s a little tough, right. Um, so you need that, that, that leadership, and I think you need really clear, um, definition around what your values are. And, and again, I’d say define those out. And without that, you don’t know what good looks like. And so if we don’t know what, like the keep that the behaviors that are valued and, and look what good looks like for your company, then that’s really hard. I think a second thing, a second top-down thing is I do think you need to work closely with people that have a lot of levers around culture and that’s HR. And so in my previous role, I partnered really closely and then actually reported in actually into our, into our, uh, chief people officer.
Eric Steege 00:19:47 And, um, you know, I think there’s some, a lot of great things you can do to help help traditional product functions think like product thinkers. And so, you know, you have a bunch of HR policies that are AR in place. I think, you know, to put some checks and balances and sort of some, some legit, you know, business reasons, you know, around confidentiality and privacy and security and things like that, that, you know, that HR rules and policies are created for, but, but there’s also, you know, policies that are meant to create value for employees that, that I’m protecting the business, but protecting and trying to create value for employees. So there, you know, if you can, if you can run experiments and get, gets partnered with some of your HR leaders, um, you know, we had some things, you know, we ran some, some sort of scrum product sort of type initiatives with HR around, um, employees rotating, um, across different projects.
Eric Steege 00:20:43 So there’s sort of a business need, but also, uh, an employee desire to get, you know, for cross-trained and to sort of develop their from a career and skill development standpoint, kids get placed on a broader set of projects. And so this team from HR to essentially built the talent marketplace, but used a lot of like early discovery and sort of prototyping and built something just in a, in a, in an Excel spreadsheet that they manly, you know, manually updated and then started with a handful of managers and sort of grew and scaled it to an actually sort of automated process to match people with different opportunities internally. But they sort of didn’t jump to that solution. Or didn’t sort of jump to that scale, you know, before like starting small with discovery work and prototyping. So that’s an interesting example.
Andrew Skotzko 00:21:28 I’m reminded of the, um, what’s the, what’s the law where it says every, every complex system that works evolved from a simple one that works. I’m trying to remember the name of this right now. Gall’s law States, all complex systems that work evolved from simpler systems that worked. So if you want to build something complex, build a simple thing first and then scale it up over time.
Eric Steege 00:21:48 That’s I don’t know that one, but that’s a good one. Um, so I think another thing is, um, you know, it’s, it goes back to like intentionality around who, who you’re hiring and, and, and hiring, and then promoting. So again, I think there’s different experiments you can run around that. Um, you know, Amazon sort of has the famous interview loop, you know, where they, the mechanism they built for hiring at scale is this bar raiser program where they’ve, and again, th they, they didn’t, I, I wasn’t around when they did this, but I, I can only imagine they didn’t start with that as, as the, you know, as the, as the starting idea, but they’ve sort of,
Andrew Skotzko 00:22:25 For anyone, for anyone who’s not familiar with that, what is that?
Eric Steege 00:22:28 Yeah, so, um, basically there’s a bar raiser who is on every interview loop at Amazon, and there’s a biracial and training program, and it’s, it’s known as, as a prestigious thing and you have to do X number of interviews and then sort of shadow X number of interviews in this bar raiser shadow program. And they’re, they’re essentially, uh, on every interview to check for cultural fit. And so they’ve been, they’ve been nominated as somebody who exhibits great culture fit, and they’ve been coached and mentored to essentially look and assess for culture fit on, on interviews for really any job. It doesn’t matter again, the, the job role, but more, uh, across any job role, how, you know, is this candidate a good fit or not? And so it’s a mechanism they’ve built, allow for culture fit and start hiring for culture at scale. And obviously they’ve invested a decent amount of time in terms of this growing group of people, community of, of employees inside Amazon that spends a lot of time interviewing candidates spends a lot of time shadowing in this, this bar raiser training program. Again, there’s a lot of training, you know, shadowing and sort of mentorship that goes into that role.
Andrew Skotzko 00:23:38 Hmm. So let me ask you this, this idea, I love this idea of treating your culture like a product, because it’s something I’ve been thinking about as well for quite a while. And the reason I think I started thinking about it was I was in the middle of trying to affect some culture change within a, uh, a group level, not a team, but not a whole company. It was like a group level type situation. And I was running into just loads of passive resistance. You know, it wasn’t like there was, there wasn’t much overt, like out and out resistance where people just like this was dumb. It was more of the passive thing, which I think is actually where a lot of transformations end up dying because a lot of things get agreed to on paper. And then they just somewhere, the resistance becomes too much and you can’t overcome inertia.
Andrew Skotzko 00:24:20 Um, and the reason I thought of this was I was like, well, it seems like places that do this well, have a preexisting understanding that this is something we will always be doing, that we will always be working on our culture. Um, as opposed to many places where I think it just hasn’t been a conversation. And so introducing some aspect of change creates fear, frankly, because you’re like, Oh God, you’re changing my world, but I didn’t know you were going to do that. So now I’m like, what are you doing? Um, whereas if you came in, like, if from day one you were at this place, you knew we were just always going to be working on how we work together. Like, it’s just part of what we do here. Um, what do you think about that?
Eric Steege 00:25:00 I think that’s true to a certain extent. I think if you’re an existing company and then all of a sudden leaders or manager, you know, managers start talking about, we need to, we need a culture transformation. We need to change, you know, how, how we work, how we behave, it sort of feels, and I’ve been in some of those situations where it feels like you’re, you’re sort of who moved my cheese, right. Sort of the rules of the game are being changed on the fly. It’s like why, but I think that’s where you need, you know, there needs to be like a business imperative and it needs to be sort of the burning platform, you know, if the proverbial burning platform for somebody to care. And I think the, uh, there’s a great podcast. Uh, I think it’s on,
Andrew Skotzko 00:25:37 Um,
Eric Steege 00:25:39 Uh, this American life, I believe where it’s about me, which is the North America. We’ll, we’ll have to track this down,
Andrew Skotzko 00:25:49 Find it, we’ll put it in the show notes.
Eric Steege 00:25:50 It’s, it’s a car plant in California that was, and I’m going to, I’m going to mess this up. It was Porter Chevy does the buyer’s America company. And they were the worst performing car plant in terms of like employee injuries in terms of car defects in the country. And essentially through a forced change because of the plant was closed. And then Toyota said we wanted to open up. They had all the infrastructure in place on Toyota based to say, like, we wanted to create an America Toyota American car manufacturing plant on this site. And then they rehired back that the union auto workers to staff the plant, the transformation was successful. So, so they’re like the point of the story is, you know,
Andrew Skotzko 00:26:36 Same people was better cars.
Eric Steege 00:26:38 They needed a job, you know, basically if you want a job, here’s like the new rules of the game, you know, and basically then adopting the lean Toyota manufacturing process. And it became the number one performing plant in, in the, in the U S but they weren’t able to Toyota. Wasn’t able to replicate that at as well as at other plants. Um, because I would argue there, wasn’t sort of that burning platform of, Hey, your plant just got shut down if, you know, if, if you’re, if here’s the, if, if you want a job and sort of, here’s like the new rules that you got to play by, and that’s, that’s a little bit sad to think about like a little bit, like, does it really need to get to that stage to, um, to, to be successful? I don’t think it does, but that’s sort of a pretty extreme example of, um, you know, where, where it wasn’t working to then where it was B became high-performing,
Andrew Skotzko 00:27:27 You know, it’s funny, I’ve talked loosely around this topic with, with a whole bunch of folks on the show, and that is what you just brought up is the burning platform has been far and away the most common answer from folks I’ve talked to who have successfully done turnarounds, basically on a culture almost to a T to a person they’ve all said, I don’t, when I’m like, well, what has to be present for this to work? And it basically comes down to pain. They’re like, there just has to be pain, which I okay, fine. But I’m actually, I think I’m a little more interested in, and a lot of people I speak to, I think, are more interested in the second version of like, okay, well, what if it didn’t have to be that way? Like what if we could create this amazing thing without the world, you know, or the whole company about to implode. Yeah.
Eric Steege 00:28:10 Um, I mean, I think that’s where that is a great question. And I think, but there has to be the motive, the motivation has to come from somewhere. So, uh, I don’t know if I have a good answer to that. I do think there’s gotta be sort of a watershed moment of like, why, why do I need to change fundamentally how I’m working? Because again, I think of these transformations, it’s, it’s, it’s a pretty big, you know, pretty stark difference of how we’re working today versus how we need, we need to work in the future. And that’s, that’s pretty tough. I am a big believer in like continuous improvement. And so I think again, if you can put the right mechanisms in place and, and, you know, set, set the, the vision of where you’re trying to get to and allow teams to sort of self organize and try to sort of move in that direction, you’ll get pockets of change and you’ll get some teams that jump on that. But again, from a full scale across an entire company, I think it’s hard to get everybody, uh, you know, fundamentally working differently in a somewhat meaningful time.
Andrew Skotzko 00:29:14 Fine as we’re riffing on this what’s occurring to me, is that it, you know, a, it probably depends on the scale of the change we’re talking about. Right. If we’re talking about a wholesale, like cultural change, yeah. It’s going to take some kind of, it’s probably gonna take some big, some big watershed moment, the same way, you know, that’s usually how it goes in people’s personal lives as well. If there’s a big change, usually something triggers it. I think what might also be more in line with the kinds of cultures that we’re hinting at here is, and this is where it goes to the agreements, sort of an agreement that like, we are going to always be pushing the way we do things. And as a result of that, we’re going to be continually changing the way we’re going to continue to innovate in our processes. Um, yeah, that’s kinda what I meant
Eric Steege 00:29:52 Hearing. Yeah. Two, two thoughts there. I think a, I think that’s a culture you need to define and create, and I think partially that starts with who you hire. I think there’s a lot of, you know, again, are you hiring builders are you’re hiring people that are sort of continuously thinking about it, wanting to improve what they’re doing? I think a lot of people are wired that way, but some people aren’t. Um, so I think there’s intentionality on, on that and an incentivizing, you know, if you change this and it, it’s better, like, you know, there’s, there’s some, some upside or some, some you get something out of that, right. Versus just like a Pat on the back. Um, also as, you know, maybe jumping back for a second, um, I also think of this sort of change management through, you know, there’s a traditional sort of change management theory models, like add cars, one, so add cars, like, uh, uh, a group of people is aware, you know, it’s an awareness and then they move to desire and then they moved to a knowledge how to change.
Eric Steege 00:30:49 And then they moved to ability to implement the change. So not just, I know how to do it, but like I have, I have skills to change and then reinforcement. So then you’re sort of like in a sustain mode. And, um, I think that’s an interesting lens to look through in one sense. And again, that if you think of that and you sort of map that to, uh, like, uh, pirate metrics sort of, or like, you know, think of it as like we’re aware of a product, and then you, you have the desire, like I’m aware of this, like I’m kind of intrigued desire to use it. And then they, like, they acknowledge, they know how to use it. So maybe, you know, you have a, it’s a freemium model, or you have a, uh, you know, pilot program or, you know, beta test or whatever.
Eric Steege 00:31:31 And then they actually use it and get value. So they have the ability to use it and easily, and then they’re like, then you have them hooked. So I think you can get sort of look, look at culture transformation, sort of through that lens to a certain extent, um, think of it like you would, you know, through a conversion pipeline. And then, and then people move through that at different speeds. And some people can move from like aware to like, I’m ready to buy, like right away, like that’s your early adopters, or some people need to see a little bit more proof in the pudding, right. So those are your lagers. So I think you can think of it that way too. So not everybody changes at the same speed. And so in a big company, you know, maybe, you know, I’ve, I’ve used this, you know, when some of my transformation efforts is mapping people to like, uh, uh, product lifecycle curves.
Eric Steege 00:32:15 So like who, who are early adopters, how can we observe them? What are they doing today that we know that there are early adopters, let’s start there, let’s build some momentum with that group. Probably they’re already trying to change. Probably they adopted, um, you know, some of the new, new frameworks they’ve started doing lean startup. They started a sort of self stuff, self do, you know, design thinking, whatever. Um, same then with, uh, you know, who are the, who is the late, you know, the, the late majority. So like, you know, they just, they maybe need to see a little bit, but they, they, they’re not quite as ready to jump all in like an early adopter would, but then you have the laggards, right. And then the laggards, you know, you’d need, uh, you need to probably do do it more support, sort of treat them as a different type of segment.
Eric Steege 00:33:02 Then the first two, it’s like, what are the tactics you need to try to bring them and sort of help model the way for them or get them comfortable. And they might never get comfortable. That’s where you have to, um, make some hard decisions, just like, you know, you have to sometimes fire customers that don’t necessarily fit your profile anymore. Or they’re like too, too costly to service. Like again, I don’t think that, you know, I think that’s a last resort, but you know, again, if you’re being intentional about the culture you’re trying to build, and you’re giving people these pathways and, you know, being smart and empathetic to, here’s what we’re trying, here’s what we’re doing today. Here’s where we’re trying to get to from a culture standpoint and people aren’t sort of on board then, then there’s like just a fit question. And I think that’s, you know, sort of an interesting sort of analogy across like a product life cycle.
Andrew Skotzko 00:33:47 I was thinking when you said the pirate metrics thing I was thinking about, okay, how would we model this? I’m not deep on the world of change management. I know that’s an entire discipline unto itself. It occurred to me that we might even be able to use something like, are you familiar with heart metrics? Yeah. Yeah. So for anyone who’s not heart metrics is happiness, engagement, adoption, retention, and tasks, success. You’re usually sort of applied to like a given feature or a product to see how well it’s doing, as opposed to like pirate metrics, which is sort of let me model my overall conversion funnel. Yeah.
Eric Steege 00:34:18 Very conversion. It doesn’t have as much emotion, emotion.
Andrew Skotzko 00:34:21 It’s super conversion. It’s just about like, get the money in the door and off we go, you know, useful, but different thing. But I was just like, Oh, maybe you could, you could even potentially apply, um, some, some metric like that to your change management efforts to see, I don’t know, as you were talking, I just imagined this little dashboard in my head of like the, the, you know, the whole early adopter, the whole life cycle, and then mapping out like the penetration in the market. But the market is, is your company. Um, and how you might do that.
Eric Steege 00:34:49 I mean, I think that’s right. Um, you know, I’ve in, in some previous roles again, I’ve, I try to sort of speak the language of, uh, the HR change management folks that I was partnering with and the, you know, they use some of the, like, like I said, this ad car model, but I think it applies. And I, like, I like thinking about the suit heart framework, where are they able, you know, in this new world, like task success, if, again, if you’re defining like what, what are a new set of tasks that somebody needs to do to be considered aligning with this new culture, this new way of working, you know, how, how likely are users are, you know, can quickly and easily complete those tasks. And so like, if they’re not, like you can measure that and if they’re not like, how do you create more training support?
Eric Steege 00:35:29 How do you, you know, as managers, how do you reduce friction for people to, to have tasks, success? Maybe they have the best intentions in the world, like ghost go to the customer centric. One, like they don’t need to be convinced. They, they see talking to customers early and more often is a better way to do it. But you have some legal policy that prevents that, or you can’t find the right customer cause you, you don’t have the mechanisms of their tooling in place. So, so they’re like, it’s not, you need to convince somebody that that’s the right thing to do. It’s how do you reduce friction or, or improve that the, the, the ease to do that, that specific behavior. And so they’re like, I think that’s like a good example. Then you could run experiments, like less change your policy around, like, let’s run an experiment around changing our policy from having to ask permission, to talk to customers, to like, you know, guidelines to, as long as you follow these, these guidelines, you’re good to go, go talk to customers, run that with one single team, you know, pilot with one single team before you roll it out to 10,000 employees.
Eric Steege 00:36:29 But like you could run that experiment, right.
Andrew Skotzko 00:36:32 I’ve never heard anyone put it that way, where it’s like, Oh, well, we can model these changes the same way we would model the changes we’re trying to create in a product, frankly. I mean, it’s, at the end of the day, it’s people doing behaviors that hopefully create some valuable change I’m resonating with your point about it is a way of sort of reducing friction or even identifying the points of friction because, you know, wherever there’s friction stuff is not going to work. One of the things I’m wondering about is how early do you start working on a culture? One of the models that I have in my head is that basically your first 10 people sort of set your culture and then everything from there is going to derive from the culture that was formed with those first 10. I don’t know if that’s right, but it seems to have at least a grain of truth to it. What have you seen in terms of, you know, stuff you’ve worked on or folks you’ve engaged with in an advisory capacity?
Eric Steege 00:37:23 Yeah. So let’s jump on that. I want to go back one second and then let’s jump on like what’s the right time. So I also thought this is just sort of a compelling, how might we statement, but, you know, we have product dashboards and I know these, I know these exists, but I don’t think they’re super widely use. How can you create a culture dashboard? And again, like what would be the, like the inputs and data points, you know, what, what should you be seeing as like leading indicators that your, you know, your company has, has is that healthy culture, you know, is however you’re defining that. So, yeah, totally. Um, and again, you can track that you can measure towards that, um, you know, sort of, uh, think of it as like a product manager of culture, right. And so like, how would you run that?
Eric Steege 00:38:03 And I think we have all the answers in the toolkit, so we just haven’t necessarily applied them with intentionality on the culture side. Yeah. But going back to like, when’s the right time. And I said this earlier, it’s never too early and it’s never too late, but I think it’s early, he’s here on the front end. Um, and so, you know, and my lens, you know, again, I try to have a pretty simplified definition of, of culture. It’s, you know, collective groups, observable behaviors. And so, you know, you have a culture when it’s just two of you, it’s just, there’s only two of you. And so that
Andrew Skotzko 00:38:36 I like to use just to throw it out there is a simplistic as it is. It’s just sort of how we do things around.
Eric Steege 00:38:42 Yeah. That’s great. I think that’s right. So once you get a critical mass of people or how you’re behaving, what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis, you have a culture, you know, whether it’s defined or not. And so I think, again, the, um, you know, the, the, the funny, you know, sort of interesting quote, I can’t remember who said it, but it, it was basically like every organization has a culture. Unfortunately, many, if not, most cultures develop a happenstance. And so are you, are you being proactive about it or not? And I think that, that, you know, in today’s today’s age where people want to be connected to sort of a accompany that sort of bigger than themselves, and, you know, sort of have a culture that they agree, agree, and align to. I think it’s super critical. So how do you create, you know, how do you create a culture?
Eric Steege 00:39:28 You know, it should be part of your strategy, you know, what kind of culture do you want? Like what type of people, what type of employees talent are you trying to attract? Um, not everybody’s going to be a fit for every culture and that’s fine, but trying to be explicit about here’s, here’s, here’s the culture we’re trying to create. Here’s the behaviors and the mindsets we, we value and we’re trying to, um, foster and hire for, and then make sure, you know, there’s transparency around that. And I think that that’s important, especially early on, you know, for companies when having the wrong culture fit, having the wrong hire is, you know, is, is a lot more impactful than maybe, you know, once you get to the, you know, 500,000,
Andrew Skotzko 00:40:08 Well, there’s seven of you, every person has a bigger leverage than when there’s a thousand of you. I like that as a counterpoint, because I’ve heard many founders or early stage company, people say, you know what, don’t even worry about it until you’re at least like 25 people or maybe 50. Um, and I think there’s, there’s, you know, fair enough. They’re like, you probably don’t want to get too heavy handed about it, or even like, you probably are not going to have an HR person below 25 people, maybe 50 people. Um, but I think what is, in my personal opinion, what should be, non-negotiable what I would love to see every founder out there doing is thinking about it, right? Like having intentionality, I think that’s kind of the underlying sort of necessary ingredient here is like, well, you gotta know what you want. You gotta know what good looks like here. Um, and I think that is probably left by the wayside a lot in early stage because frankly, you’re just trying to survive. You’re just trying to, you know, get some default alive. Right?
Eric Steege 00:41:02 Yeah. I think that’s true. Um, you know, there’s a lot of like, you gotta, you gotta make your first sales, you gotta prove market traction. So that, I think that’s legit. I also think, you know, part of what we, you know, what investors are investing in and I’m sort of part of what, you know, the role of the first sort of founders and senior leaders are, is like being a magnet for talent and the right type of talent. Right. And so, again, going back to, you know, when the culture is not defined, you know, to me like, again, I’m internalizing this a little bit. Like if I’m interviewing in a culture is not defined and, and a senior leader, it doesn’t, if I ask them like, Hey, what’s your culture? Like what, what do you, where do you want it to be? And where do you need to improve to get it there? And if, if that, if he, or she doesn’t have a clear answer around that, like that’s a little bit of a red flag, or if I get a wishy-washy answer or a different answer from, you know, I asked a CEO what’s, what’s his, or her ideal culture and what are they trying to build to? And you get a different answer from, you know, a team member. Um, you know, again, that that’s a little bit of a red flag
Andrew Skotzko 00:42:08 Checking for misalignment. It’s interesting. Yeah.
Eric Steege 00:42:10 And so again, I, you know, as product people, it would be weird for us to, for somebody to say, you know, how can you design and develop a product with more intentionality? You know, I think now there’s, there’s a lot of acceptance around what, you know, what are the main levers you can pull? What are the sort of the main ways, you know, the may the main ways to operate, to, to build more intentionality around product development and product design. But, but I don’t know if, again, it’s, you don’t hear that as often as like, how might we be more intentional about our culture, right. Designing our culture. And so, um, you have a product roadmap. Why don’t you have a, a culture roadmap? Like what are you trying to build and infuse? And so those are just things that like, it’s easy to, it’s easy to have these bumper sticker slogans, but those are the things that I think about him by I, in my mind, like I would do build a culture dashboard. How do you build a culture roadmap? Just like you would a product.
Andrew Skotzko 00:43:00 It’s no wonder we’re talking about this because you and I have clearly had similar parallel thinking on this,
Eric Steege 00:43:05 What you’re talking about made me think of Ben Horwitz. Right? The hard thing about hard things where he talks about, um, so there’s technical debt, right. But there’s also cultural debt. And so if, if you, you know, and this goes back to like, when’s the right time to be intentional about culture. Like, if you let some things slide, like somebody’s being unethical or somebody, you know, being disrespectful or not showing, you know, again, what, what you think is the culture you’re trying to, to foster. Like, if you let some of those things slide, especially if you let it slide, because somebody is a sort of a high performer like that that’ll come back and bite you in the bud. And like, you know, I, I have business experience on that, but I also have like athletic experience on that. Right. So if you, if you sort of, aren’t willing to sort of hold your star player, you know, to the same, you know, or vice versa or somebody who is, is, uh, you know, not a starter, like you have to hold everybody to sort of the same bar. And if you let, if you let the star player that get away with, uh, swearing on the field, or you’re doing things that like, doesn’t, doesn’t, uh, represent like your team, well, people are going to take that person’s lead and really listen, you know, model after them more than like you saying some words around that. So,
Andrew Skotzko 00:44:16 Yeah, that makes sense. If we take the stance that culture is at its best, a competitive advantage, or that means it depends on who are you competing with and what are you trying to do? And so on and so forth. Do you think there’s any cultural universals? Well, let me think about
Eric Steege 00:44:32 That. I’ll be sure I’ll, I’ll be ruminating in the back of my mind, but I would reframe culture is a competitive advantage. I think it’s like, again, as a founder, it might feel too early when you’re pre product market fit. Right. But like, you know, once you get to product market fit, like people can copy, you know, there’s not very many, there there’s some legit moats in the world, like the number of the, the, the, you know, the two-sided market and the number of hosts that Airbnb now has on their platform is like a true moat, right? Like it’s going to be hard to like, yeah, like buy by Airbnb stock, like the next sub, it dips a little bit. Cause I’m pretty long on that. But, um, but like people can replicate products like relatively easily. Um, again, I think what what’s enduring is like a culture of, and I’m not here to endorse Amazon, but a lot of the Amazon leadership principles about thinking big about being customer obsessed about, uh, long-term thinking, you know, I think these are enduring, you know, we call them leadership principles, but really, again, their definitions around how to think and how to act that that obviously creates the culture of Amazon, which is innovative and highly customer focused.
Eric Steege 00:45:44 And I think that that is a competitive advantage. And, you know, I think, um, I think that is a competitive strategy in and of itself. How might we be the most customer centric company in the world that’s Amazon’s mission, right. Um, and it’s served, served us pretty well. And, you know, they try to figure out how to, how to, uh, how to build in mechanisms that allow that to scale across, you know, every employee in different ways. Now we don’t have a perfect and there’s obviously, um, things to get better at. But like, I think that, that, that is a competitive advantage in and of itself has to be, you know, the most innovative company to be the fastest learning company in the world and take insights to action faster than anybody in the world. Like those are enduring strategies. And then the question is like, how do you, how do you create the mechanisms and reduce the friction for employees to actually do that?
Andrew Skotzko 00:46:33 For sure. Yeah. And actually, as there’s, as you’re talking about that, not only is culture as a strong, and I think, I think I’m reminded of the book. I think it’s good to great where he talks about like one of the differentiators of these companies and we’re going to set aside all the stuff, all the issues of like selection bias in those companies, but whatever. But one of the things that set that set that apart was that it wasn’t what the culture was it’s that there was a clear culture and that that culture was made very clear, very transparent, and it was well implemented. And I think that I think might be even more fundamental to generating the competitive advantage. And I just thinking about this right now, I think a reason this might be worth early stage founders and managers thinking about is recruiting.
Andrew Skotzko 00:47:19 The talent war is so hard, right? Everybody is, is trying to get great talent and culture is not just a competitive advantage in your operations. It’s in terms of recruiting, right? If you have a clear and compelling culture that is going to give you a leg up compared to someone who does not. Uh, and so I think that might be a good reason to, for people to consider putting in the legwork. So last culture question, then we’re gonna go ahead and close out here, but who do you think is doing this well? Like if you were going to point listeners at some examples out in the world, is there anyone who comes to mind?
Eric Steege 00:47:49 Yeah, so, um, I mean, I, I think, you know, I have sort of an inside look at Amazon. I think we do a lot of good things around culture. Well, and again, I think the thing that’s been amazing and a great experience for me to think that just the scale. So, you know, how do you build mechanisms that easily scale that, that support the culture elements we’re trying to amplify. Um, and again, this, this there’s a lot of public examples, you know, you can go read about the leadership principles and there’s a lot of blogs around like the bar raiser program. But, um, you know, I think, you know, the intentionality and again, the, how do you design systems at scale to support this? I think Amazon is good from a at scale standpoint. Um, you know, I’ve been impressed with, um, at LaSeon, you know, they, I don’t know, I used some of their product suite, but I’ve, I’ve heard I’m blanking on his name now, but I’ve heard their founder talk about his points of view around culture.
Eric Steege 00:48:47 And, you know, he’s talked a lot about design and how to, um, you know, how to design a culture that they want. And, you know, he doesn’t get down into like, let’s run experiments and sort of measure, you know, measure up a culture dashboard. But I think just I’ve heard him speak in sort of had an intentionality around, um, their culture, their, um, you know, uh, outside looking in, it’s not surprising, but you know, some of the, some of like the design companies like IDEO, you know, I think they’ve done a good job and again, have a pretty unique, uh, defined culture and have shown some, um, intentionality around here. Here’s the type of people we’re trying to hire and why, and then sort of showing that. But, um, to be honest, I haven’t looked, I mean, I haven’t dug in too much, you know, except on some of my own personal searches to sort of understand and sort of, you know, vet like the product intentionality. So those are some that I’ve just seen externally that have impressed me.
Andrew Skotzko 00:49:46 Yeah. A couple of I’ll throw in there and I’m going to think about this more. And I, and the listener will add on to hear yours. This will all be in the show notes, a couple that come to mind for me, um, on the smaller side of companies compared to Amazon, which is very, very large. Um, let’s see, I can think of a couple, three or three right now, um, that I’m going to give a shout out to, um, I think 15 five, uh, which is a workplace engagement and management platform. They’re most commonly known as an OKR tool, but they’re, they’re one of these, they’re one of the sort of leading companies in the people, tech, HR tech space, um, interviewed, uh, their, their now chief product officer Diane from L a we’ll link to that in the, in the show notes there, their culture is fantastic.
Andrew Skotzko 00:50:33 Um, mad respect for them. So I’ll give a shout out there. I think one of the things they do really well is not just that they have one, but they also describe it in a clear, compelling way where you look at it and you’re like, wow, that’s amazing. Um, I think a sauna does a great job of this. Um, from what I have gathered, I haven’t looked as deeply into a sauna, but, uh, I’ve met a few folks who work there and the things I’ve seen when I’ve just looked at their company values and stuff seem quite good. Yeah.
Eric Steege 00:50:58 And I have to ask to clarify a sauna. Who’s what I meant Atlassian is the wrong a company and an important difference in it development to Lake. So it was a Sada. Got it. Don’t knock out into the last two yet. They might do great stuff too. I don’t know that, but yeah, Sinai, the eyeballs
Andrew Skotzko 00:51:12 I’ve been impressed with them. Yeah. Great. And then the third one, I’m gonna do another shout out to a previous podcast guest, uh, a lesser known company in the broad tech world, but a company called glow glow.com, G L O M. It’s my favorite of all the yoga apps out there. They were kind of the first and I still think the best one. It it’s the only one where you do it. And it actually feels like being in a live class, which has been amazing during a pandemic. Um, and I had their CEO and founder, Derek mills, um, on the show we’ll link to that. And he, that is another great episode to check out for folks who are interested in this conversation, because we spend a lot of time in that conversation, talking through the nuts and bolts of how, like, what worked, what didn’t work, the whole thing of the transformation of their culture to one that I think people would find deeply compelling today. Um, and it’s a great from the founder himself story. So I’ll give a shout out there as well,
Eric Steege 00:52:02 Was the glow example, like they sort of refound their culture, like, you know, sort of, there was some moment where they realized they didn’t have the culture they wanted and then
Andrew Skotzko 00:52:10 Yeah, they, they were, they were, I can’t remember the exact timeline here, but they were, they were already been up and running for several years. Um, they were at least four years and I want to say maybe six, seven years in and Derek was going through his own leadership journey and transformation and like, just really thinking a lot about what kind of company do we want to build here and that, and he’d already been thinking about it, but he just sort of had, has a bunch of epiphanies and said, okay, there’s a different way to go about doing this. And he, he said that, uh, unfortunately got to a place where I think he described it as toxic. And it was their journey from there all the way back to what I think now is an amazing culture. I remember walking in their office pre pandemic and like, you could feel it like you walk in and you’re just like, Whoa, like what’s, what’s going on here. There’s something something’s happening here. Um, so I, I want to give a big shout out to them and they also just launched their podcast by the way, which we will also link to in the show notes, the Glo podcast is now available. So check that out, dear listener.
Eric Steege 00:53:06 That’s awesome. I’m going to listen to that because again, I think it’s pretty unique where it’s sort of, you’re going down one path and then sort of reinventing sir, refinding your, your company culture, especially when, you know, when you’re still relatively startup phase. So I will do it
Andrew Skotzko 00:53:20 If I check that out. Yeah. I mean, they were already up and running and doing like they were doing well. I mean, they were very successful in bootstrap too. Um, and so it was, I thought it was just a incredibly compelling, honest story from, you know, directly from the person who led that transformation and he’s so vulnerable and open about it. I thought it was just an amazing example of like, wow, this is, you know, I hold up that example to people now I’m like, go listen to this, this guy, this is what you, this is how you do it. That’s awesome. It’s, it’s fantastic. So yeah, big shout out to them. So I want to shift gears here and start to close out a couple of rapid fire questions. Your answers can be as short or as long as feels good to you. Okay. So the first one is, you know, what is a small change you’ve made in recent memory, whether that’s a week or a year, um, that’s had an outsize impact for you.
Eric Steege 00:54:06 Wow. Okay. Um, uh, I actually gave up coffee. So at the time I felt a little bit bigger than what it was, but, uh, you know, pending a pre pandemic, I was on the road a lot and, you know, would be, get, get the Starbucks coffee or the coffee at the coffee shop and did a lot of that. Uh, and it just, you know, it was feeling like I wasn’t tricking lots of, you know, I wasn’t drinking like eight cups a day or anything, but it just, I could start to feel that I’d have headaches if I didn’t have it, you know, in a given day or just energy. And so I just, I stopped. And then, um, actually this is sort of a side plugin. I just used it as a product that I like. Um, I got onto this product called magic mind and it’s like matcha green tea. So it’s like, it’s a startup. And, um, it’s a sort of a, an energy shot, but it’s green tea based. And so it’s not even an energy shot. It’s a sort of a supplement that’s matcha green tea based. And, uh, I I’ve given up coffee and it, you know, I feel like I have better energy during the day than what I did before and, uh, drinking more tea. So that’s one, one thing that I,
Andrew Skotzko 00:55:13 I like that I’m going to match a mind. You said a magic mind magic plan. Okay. We’re going to, we’re definitely looking at that. I’m going to try that out. Yeah. Um, and then what is the thing, what thing would you say, you know, best at this point in time?
Eric Steege 00:55:26 Whoa, that is a existential question right there. You can go anywhere you want with it always spokes. Okay.
Andrew Skotzko 00:55:34 You can say bubble gum, if you want. That’s that’s, you know, whatever I probably know
Eric Steege 00:55:37 Inside of my house, best stride right now, uh, the list that sounded appropriate, answer this a serious answer. Um, yeah. Uh, I mean, I think right now it’s, uh, you know, I like, you know, I think my super power right now is I think on the continuous discovery piece. And so, um, you know, sort of moving away from the culture side, like I love and, you know, the various different ways to do customer research and sort of understand customers and bringing in quantum qual and then having that translate into like, what, what should we build versus what could we build and start prioritizing based on that. So nice. Uh, and sort of then, you know, that sort of a sports. So, you know, I’m not a, uh, a UX design expert, but you know, love having those conversations and even bringing in, you know, sort of engineers into those, you know, uh, customer research discovery interviews, and, and like that emotional connection. So trying to foster that environment of continuous discovery and sort of staying emotionally connected to your customer to make better decisions to invent on their behalf.
Andrew Skotzko 00:56:47 It’s huge. Huge. Yeah. So, and then what question would you have the listener start asking themselves to take action on these ideas that we’ve been discussing?
Eric Steege 00:56:58 I think I actually give too, so I’m going to cheat, but I think, you know, it’s sort of continuous improvement, um, mindset. It’s easy to sort of maybe complain or sort of feel like the victim on cultural issues sometimes with your company. And I would just ask what’s a behavior you want to exhibit and do more, do less of like this week and what’s a little habit or ritual you could, you know, start trying to, to make that happen. So like sort of take ownership of your company’s culture and ask yourself, like, what could I, what’s something I could try this week to be more customer centric, you know, anchor on you, your company’s values be more transparent, be more, uh, agile, whatever it is, but like, sort of take that ownership and ask yourself that question. And then I think something I’ve been interested about too is like, how can you partner, you know, in product, we talk about like high leverage things, right? So if you’re passionate about, um, creating a better culture for your company and culture transformation, how can you be a better partner? How can you go make friends and sort of, you know, start a work side by side with somebody in HR, somebody in, you know, in, in maybe even finance that has some like high leverage things that could, you know, change the culture at a full company scale. And so those, I think the two questions I’d ask. Awesome. Yeah.
Andrew Skotzko 00:58:14 I love it, Eric. Well, first of all, thank you so much for being here. This has been a really fun and exploratory conversation, one of my favorite topics. So always a pleasure. Um, what would you like to leave the listener with and where can people follow up and engage with you if they’d like to reach out?
Eric Steege 00:58:27 Yeah. Well, thank you. This is fun. And it’s fun to throw a tie in athletics and culture and product, and this was as sort of unscripted as I was expecting, and it was fun. So it was good. Um, yeah, I, I would just love to keep this conversation going. Um, I haven’t seen this talked about a lot and so if listeners want to follow up with would love to have one-on-one conversations, or if people even want to sort of follow up in some group format, you know, propose it and I’d love to jump on and sort of do an unconference type thing or one-on-one conversation. So the best places I’m pretty active on Twitter. So just, you know, Eric Steege on Twitter and DME or follow me and, uh, would love to love to keep this conversation going. Awesome, Eric. Thanks again. Have a great rest of your day.