I arrived in NYC on Sunday and will be here for an entire week!
In addition to being asked to speak at the awesome Web 2.0 conference, I’m excited to be back and this time plan to spend time connecting with people and companies I always seem to run out of time for. The weather is super warm in the 70’s and 80’s with those oh-so-warm nights one comes to miss when living in San Francisco. Continue reading →
Hipmunk totally saved my butt when I had to travel back to back from San Francisco to Park City, Utah to speak Friday and then depart the next day for Los Angeles, CA to speak Saturday!
I met with Florence (@flo_hipmunk) from Hipmunk for coffee to talk about the travel service. At first was a bit unsure about using it because I’ve been using Priceline since 2000 and have been using Yapta for price tracking on flights for the last year so I didn’t see where Hipmunk could fit into my travel planning for the public speaking I do…until last month.
When you travel to multiple cities before returning to your departure city, it’s known as “open jaw”. Searching for flights can seem like a “hit or miss” type thing but there are strategies like flying mid week and buying your tickets between Tuesday and Thursday (when airlines let go of tickets reserved by travel agents over the weekend that were not fully booked) and buying at least 21 days in advance.
For $352 I was able to travel from San Francisco on a Thursday to Park City , UT, speak Friday morning then fly out that afternoon so I could speak in Los Angeles, CA Saturday morning. It was friggin’ awesome to plan out my flight using Hipmunk because I could see all the legs of my flight and choose them by departure time!
This is one of the screenshots I took in early June when I was researching flights. I needed to make sure my departure and arrival times would allow me time to get to the conferences, socialize, network and of course speak!
Check out this fun video Grumo media did explaining Hipmunk:
I’ve arrived at my one year anniversary consulting with Zendesk and have been offered a full time position at Zendesk in Business Development!
Moving On Up: Business Development
In this new role, I will work to bring on new companies to Zendesk and expand our integrations + partnerships. So basically it’s geeky stuff plus relationship building. Right up my alley! I’m both excited and squeamish about the opportunity as it means learning new things and creating measurable success for Zendesk yet I will have to put my personal brand on hold. I start full time January 2010.
Want to come and work with me? Check out Zendesk Jobs including:
A year ago, I agreed to undertake creating the Zendesk webinars. At that time, Zendesk was receiving several requests a week for demos. This was not efficient. Since I’d been a long time customer of Zendesk, having left Cerberus in favor of a cloud based helpdesk solution, and a vocal customer, they asked if I would be interested in creating a webinar series for them. Uhm, think about it….heck yes! And so began the journey of chubby buddah, Adria and San Francisco. The Sunday after Blogworld ended and I’d delivered my 500 hugs for John Chow, I flew to San Francisco for the very first time…
The goal was to reduce demo requests and increase conversions of trial customers to paying customers. Also, if the webinars could answer common questions customers had, there would be less support tickets in the queue. I set the work learning what the customers wanted to know. I interviewed Zendesk staff (much smaller group a year ago), looked at tickets and talked with customer support advocates. I drafted an outline for the very first webinar, Zendesk 101 and out it went through the Zendesk email system for feedback. After a few tweaks, a brief set of slides and a lot of practice, I was ready to hold the first webinar!
Initially we had technical problems with the internet and audio quality. Webex was the first company we went with to deliver the webinars and thankfully now we’ve switched to Citrix’s GoToMeeting / GoToWebinar / GoToTraining packages. I made sure from the first day surveys were sent out to collect feedback. Being a consultant, it’s very important to collect feedback early on and then keep it coming in. Not only for quality validation but to improve the delivery of your services. I used Google Docs spreadsheets for the form to collect the survey responses. We’ve now switched to SurveyGizmo which has advanced reporting and survey logic.
I’m no longer doing the Zendesk webinars. Amy has come on to run them.
Zendesk Webinar Content
Since I have a technical background and and enjoy training, the webinars were focused on showing attendees how to accomplish things within the Zendesk backend like creating tickets, managing queues and activating widgets. I spent time doing QnA, taking people through specific questions they had about workflow. Eventually we started doing special webinars that dove deeper into a specific aspect of Zendesk like customizing the CSS or setting up email routing. Webinars featuring partner integrations came on soon as well. Of course, I picked Harvest as the first integration to do a webinar with because…well, they rock! They were also how I found out about Zendesk. I was using Harvest for my time tracking and invoicing and they mentioned on their blog about their integration to Zendesk and probably in a newsletter.
Then with the creation of the marketing team at Zendesk, webinars focused on product launches and lead generation came about.
The goal of the webinars was to help prospective customers decide and guide existing customers embrace Zendesk more. I enjoyed developing the content, talking with integration partners and reading the awesome feedback attendees left! I’ve seen many of them at conferences like DrupalCon and Blogworld so it’s a nice way to circle back.
Hello San Francisco
Things were going well and I was liking this webinar thing for Zendesk! I came to find out I also liked San Francisco. I was highly focused on my first visit to San Francisco last October. I didn’t go out much and left exploring the city up to the real tourists. Several things about San Francisco gave me pause: the weather, the racial diversity of the people, the architecture, the food and the saturation of people working in technology. Zendesk wasn’t half bad themselves! They invited me to return in December for the holiday party and that’s when it truly hit me; I could move to San Francisco and work for Zendesk!
Upon their invite, I contacted several people living in San Francisco, asking if they would meet with me to give me their opinion of the city. Cheryl Contee (@ch3ryl), C.J. Hayden (@cjhayden) and Mike all happily agreed. Wow, did it make a difference to hear their own personal stories! Just six months before at Blogging While Brown, my table had decided I should move to San Francisco vs buying a condo in Minneapolis and I had happily added it to my list of goals but had no idea how it would manifest.
The Zendesk holiday party certainly cinched it for me. I had an excellent time, the Danish food was great and the mood was festive. We had the first company meeting and I was awed by the CEO’s vision for Zendesk. I wanted to be a part of their success!
Moving To San Francisco
Traveling has always been a hard thing for me to do. I hate getting lost. I would print out my Google directions and hop into the car to see a client. God forbid, I had to make a change in my route because I would have to print out more directions! This all changed when I started using GPS and the TomTom software. This improved even more once I got my 3GS iPhone. Due to the number of conferences I was speaking out, I eventually overcame this dislike of travel in 2009 so then the thought of making that “Move To San Francisco” goal became a bit more realistic.
I began researching places to live and stories of moving to San Francisco. I talked with the kindly folks mentioned above. I told Zendesk my intentions, announced it on my blog and asked Twitter for help. I made the move to San Francisco in 4 months time (January to April) and it was the right choice. I spent a lot of time talking about the move and made quite a few videos. I have a lot of videos that haven’t been published yet. Thinking of how to
One of the things that’s been a challenge is settling into working in an office. I’ve been working remotely for four years so coming into an office with people everywhere has taken a while for me to adjust to. Being an introvert, I prefer to spend time alone and quietly. That’s when I do my best work. The office has people, stuff and everyones talking to each other. Oh well. Adjust I will.