Emplify with Santiago Jaramillo

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In this episode, I speak with Santiago Jaramillo, CEO and Co-Founder of Emplify, a tool used to give a single metric to understand the hearts and minds of their people, and how engaged they are at work. In the early stages, Emplify began as a tool within a suite of other tools, and during a time of great growth, there were many changes within the company. By utilizing their own service, they could see feedback that employee engagement had dropped over 50 percentile points. Once they received that feedback, they got specific insights on how to improve the engagement, and the score went back up. From that experience alone, the team at Emplify understood the importance of this service, and decided to go all in with it.

This product is a must-have product, not just a nice-to-have product. The value that it delivers isn’t just fun vanity metrics, but is actually real business transformation and value ROI.
— Santiago Jaramillo

Emplify currently has about 65 full time employees, and just raised $7.5 million at the end of 2018 which they plan to use to grow their service. The next level of growth that they see for their company is to determine the best way to distribute the data to mid-level managers, on a large scale. Currently, this data is mostly limited to C-Suite executives, which are not typically involved in employee engagement. Santiago also shares other growth strategies, as well as an explanation of the market overall, and how they differentiate themselves from their competitors.

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Topics In This Episode:

  • History of the market and where it currently stands

  • Difference between growth equity model and venture capital

  • The categories of competitors they face, and how they are different from each

  • How to interpret the data they obtain, and the next level steps they take to add value for their customers with that data

  • How to hone in on your customer base and understand them, in order to best market your service to them

  • Geo-centric targeting and the power of word of mouth

  • Online versus offline marketing strategies

To get in touch with Santiago:

Emplify.com

Twitter: @santiagojara

Book: Agile Engagement: How to Drive Lasting Results by Cultivating a Flexible, Responsive, and Collaborative Culture

Transcript

Mike Kelly:                         
Welcome to the Startup Competitors podcast. Today we have Santiago Jaramillo from Amplify. Santiago, welcome to the podcast, man.

Santiago Jarami:              
Thank you. Great to be here.

Mike Kelly:                         
All right, why don't we start with a quick pitch for Amplify and what you guys do?

Santiago Jarami:              
Sure. So I think the super succinct pitch and I'll do a little bit more of an extended one, would be we give organizations a single metric to understand the hearts and minds of their people and how engaged they are at work and then we give an entire system of software and services to help them improve that metric. So what that really means is what we're seeing right now is lots of trends right now in the world with really tight labor markets. You've got a scarcity of skill talents, companies can't find enough skilled labor. You've got millennials coming into the workplace.

Santiago Jarami:              
You've got employees seeking a new and expanded set of value propositions from the work that they weren't seeking 20 years ago, primarily economic value propositions they saw 20 years ago. And they is just the general workforce at a really high level. And so with all of those changes, leaders are having to change the employee experience to give different value propositions to employees based on what modern talent and what the modern workforce wants. And what they have in every other of the business to lead them in whether it's digital transformation or any other big transformation that they're going on about in their business is they typically have data to understand their progress leading and lagging indicator metrics toward whichever type of initiative they're taking on.

Santiago Jarami:              
But on the people side of the equation, the people in culture most organizations have a lack of data in KPIs and metrics inform how they're doing with their employee engagement and culture efforts. They many times have lagging indicators like employee turnover is their best metric for how they're doing, finding out why employees are leaving at the exit interview. So what we have the opportunity to do, what we do for our customers is giving them a leading indicator metric. And then, like I said, an entire system of software to understand root cause diagnosis. What are some of the biggest, most important problems that they have in their employee experience delivery to their employees? What are their best opportunities and how do they involve employees and actually ideating and solving for those issues in a way that is actually actionable.

Santiago Jarami:              
So that's the promise, the promise of data-driven people decisions has been out there for a long time. And what we're doing is paying off on that promise by actually helping not just C-suite leaders, but also mid-managers actually take data-driven actions to improve how engaging the workplaces.

Mike Kelly:                         
And paint a picture for somebody who's listening kind of where you guys are as a company that could be any sort of vanity metrics that come to mind or I felt that could be revenue employees, transaction council, whatever you'd like to share.

Santiago Jarami:              
Sure so we're post series A, we just raised a seven and a half million this past three months ago or so and-

Mike Kelly:                         
Congratulations.

Santiago Jarami:              
Thank you. Congratulations will be in order once we use it wisely, but yes, it is good validation of what the team has done and the potential of where we're headed. So Edison partners came in from New Jersey as a growth equity fund, which is separate conversation, I love the growth equity model actually, when you contrast it as an entrepreneur with venture capital. So I love that about them that we're about 300 customers and we've got 10s of thousands of users actively using our software, actively throughout a quarter or throughout a month. And we've collected literally hundreds of thousands of responses from employees over the course of the last 18 to 24 months and we're about 65 employees full time.

Mike Kelly:                         
Got it. Do you guys use amplify internally?

Santiago Jarami:              
Of course, of course. In fact, we actually had a product line that we had before Amplify Insights, which is the measurement side of employee engagement. And we really went all in with Amplify Insights after an experience that I had where I thought things were okay, for about six months, as we're going through a high change period and amplify, we sold two of our business units. And we're going all in and in six months, we're supposed to take a quarterly, we skipped one quarter, and in six months, we lost over 50 percentile points in our engagement score, which was ... And I didn't know that it was happening. And this was a 45 person company. And so this for me, drove home for ... So number one, my team had been trying to get my attention saying, "Hey, we're having some morale issues. Hey, there's a problem here. There's a problem here. I thought it was just change and nobody likes change.

Mike Kelly:                         
Right.

Santiago Jarami:              
And so they were going to get over it and it was going to be fine. And actually what I didn't realize is that there was fundamental things that the company wasn't delivering people for why they showed up, for why they even work here that we weren't ... These were serious issues that I didn't know about. And it took data to wake me up and it took very specific insights of what I needed to do and what I need to focus on to get me to act and as soon as I saw the data, I had called my cold splash of water moments it was this kind of like humbled, shame but relentless commitment to change and improve and make it.

Santiago Jarami:              
And so soon as I saw those results, it became the number one focus for me and the rest of the team, we're an engagement company and we're having engagement challenges. I didn't know what was happening so we ended up focusing on the areas from the results and actually got the score backup and improved it. And it was really then that I realized this product is a must have product, not just a nice-to-have product, and the value that it delivers isn't just fun vanity metrics, but it's actually real business transformation in value in ROI and performance.

Santiago Jarami:              
And so based on that personal experience, which we went all in on Amplify Insights, essentially ended up sun setting our primary, then product, and now we're all in on this product after I saw the value of it personally. And then since then, we obviously use it every single quarter and try to be the best users that we can be of it.

Mike Kelly:                         
Is that the typical pattern of usage quarterly? Do some people use it monthly, annually? What do you see with customers that you roll it out to?

Santiago Jarami:              
Yeah, so what we've seen in terms of frequency, what we're talking about is how do we gather employee feedback to inform our people and culture strategy?

Mike Kelly:                         
Yeah.

Santiago Jarami:              
So making decisions, prioritizing, and then after we've prioritized focus areas, how do we involve employees in the ideation of what we actually do? Right? That's fundamentally we're talking about. This has been around since the 1940s when Gallup started this and it was super rigorous and scientific. It was quants, folks on the statistics and psychologist, PhD and organizational psychology, would do this thing once a year. And it was very rock solid. But it was highly expensive. It took so long to get your data back, two to three months to get it back. And you did it once a year. So you you felt like you had to do 100 things from it. And then by month four you were getting your action plan together, by month six, you were just starting to communicate it out. And then by month nine you realized you had done one thing out of the hundred and you're about to do it again. And you're like, "Why do we do this?" Right?

Santiago Jarami:              
So that's how it started. And then the market completely reacted to that in a almost pendulum theory like fashion over the last five years. Five years, software started disrupting this space that was primarily dominated by consultants. And they went where they weren't hyper rigorous on the science and not very often new software players came in extremely often frequency wise and not very serious and rigorous about the science behind it. And so you ended up with companies asking, "Are you happy at work every Friday?" Someone's from from once a year to once a week, from carefully crafted questions that industry organizational psychologists approved of to non-serious questions getting asked like, "Are you happy at work on a Friday."

Santiago Jarami:              
So really what we figured out is how can we give insights that are frequent enough to keep up with the pace of change, yet actually be substantive and significant enough that, if solved, will actually add real business value. And so we will find out that the right frequency for most of our customers has been quarterly. It's an existing cadence and frequency that they already use for business planning anyway, from a strategic perspective. So we found that that gives them enough feedback to make way better decisions and finding out why people are leaving at the exit interview, yet makes it enough so that you can actually solve meaningful problems in 90 days and measure the impact of those recycle and try again.

Mike Kelly:                         
Got it. And rattle off the quick areas of results that the report covers or that the tool covers. Sorry, I probably shouldn't call [inaudible 00:09:12].

Santiago Jarami:              
No. Yeah. So some of the areas of scope that the tool covers is, gives you basic metrics, like how many employees participated? And things like that. But really the cornerstone of it is the amplify score, which is a single metric that we derive and we're able to benchmark that across our entire database of companies and employees, since we're able to give not only the Amplified score, but a percentile benchmark of how you compare, of how that organization compares to other organizations. And then of course it digs in ... Go ahead.

Mike Kelly:                         
Do you match that by similarity of organizations? If I did it for my company would I be compared to other similar sized consulting companies or right now is it just it's everybody in the database and we just show you how you compare to everybody?

Santiago Jarami:              
No, it's a great question. So there's there's industry organizational and even role level ways to benchmark.

Mike Kelly:                         
Oh, right on.

Santiago Jarami:              
Right? And so I think some of the more interesting ways that we think about benchmarking or comparisons is thinking about it from the role-based level, is if you're a consultant, it's comparing you to other consultants, is probably a better comparison in comparing you against an accountant at a similar Midwest, medium sized organization. A lot of those attributes could be the same, but what fundamentally is going to engage you at work is probably founded more at the role level for that specific person. So we keep thinking about how does that work and sometimes we even do benchmarks for communities like Vistage or YPO where folks are part of a community, they just really want to be benchmarked, not at the role level, not even at the industry level, but this kind of affiliation level.

Mike Kelly:                         
Yeah.

Santiago Jarami:              
And so depending on the customer, it makes sense I think to do it different ways.

Mike Kelly:                         
Got it. Right on. Sorry, I didn't mean to ... I cut you off there. Literally mid sentence on as you were talking about some of the different areas that you cover.

Santiago Jarami:              
Yep. So seriously, the Amplify score, you can get that to compare that against the other organizations or other dynamics in that way. And then it starts to go deeper. And certainly there's 14 drivers that we've seen that actually drive employee engagement for all different kinds of companies. And so basically you're able to see a heat map and on the x axis, you'll see the drivers of engagement and on the y axis, you'll see employee segments. So those employees segments can be man, leaders of an organization so the function or team that you lead. So what's their engagement Mike? [inaudible 00:11:36] by department, by tenure, by generation, by gender, et cetera.

Santiago Jarami:              
And so that heat map allows us to focus on one or two of the three focus areas that we think are the highest and most right before engagement improvement. And then from there, we do something called Smart Pulse where we ask employees, team members closest to the problem for their root cause insights and ideas for how to solve a very specific problem. So what we found is it's not very helpful to ask employees, "What would you change out here to make a better culture?" Because you get a lot of ... It's hard to filter that many open-ended comments and you get a lot of noise. Say, "I'm right. Better coffee creamer. I want the office closer to my house."

Santiago Jarami:              
But if you ask a very pointed question that you're prepared to do something about and you say, "Hey, to improve real clarity in the customer success team for this company, what would you start or stop doing?" That focus of a problem can yield really great ideas from the people closest to the work and so that's basically the system is give you a quantitative assessments gives you a number, helps you prioritize areas, smart posts then digs in on root causes and ideas for those areas.

Santiago Jarami:              
And then the last, the third step is we provide an employee engagement strategist for every one of our customers, that then helps them with the change management, action planning, communication, all those areas that are needed for good change management to occur, that are not part of the software and that we think are uniquely played by a human being, are a part of it. So that's kind of our system and our methodology of how to actually deliver actionable insights that people actually can take actions on.

Mike Kelly:                         
That's awesome man. When you think of competitors from Amplify, what's the first thing that comes to mind?

Santiago Jarami:              
Yes. So I think about different vectors of competition, right? So I think one bucket of folks are consultants that are being used. So they might be international consultants like Towers Watson or Aon Hewitts our Mercer's of the world, Gallops. And then they're huge and we beat them for different reasons that we be ... Another kind of vector of competitors which are going to be more of your tiny pulses, culture [inaudible 00:13:40], office vibes of the world. And then there's a different vector of competitors, which is kind of the DIY method, which is we're going to-

Mike Kelly:                         
Set up a Google Form and go.

Santiago Jarami:              
Set up a Google Form, Survey Monkey, pull Gallup's Q12 from the website and hope that our employees think it's anonymous and confidential so they actually be honest rather than give us totally invalidated which is what happens most of the time. And then there's really other ways, and when we think about how do we capture employee feedback to use it for decision making, right? You've got kind of those three vectors but even folks that say, I walk around and I ask folks how they're doing, right? To them, that's how they do employee feedback, they go and have an in person conversation or walk around the manufacturing facility et cetera. So those will all be ways I think that would be alternatives to what we're doing.

Mike Kelly:                         
This came out a little bit right there in your answer of kind of three different vectors that you compete in? How do you differentiate in that market? How do you either cut through that noise or even in a crowded space get people to even know that you're around and exist? I'd love your thoughts on just sales and marketing in general, and how you guys get in front of people.

Santiago Jarami:              
Sure for us it started with really zeroing in on who we're serving to understand what message is going to be compelling to that with integrity on, of course on what we actually deliver and making sure that those those two things matched up. And so from that perspective, we narrowed down in really mid-sized companies being a first good cut of it.

Mike Kelly:                         
Mid-sized defined as?

Santiago Jarami:              
As above 50 employees and less than 5000.

Mike Kelly:                         
Perfect.

Santiago Jarami:              
So about 5000 they have sometimes PhDs on staff that are dictating their own questions. They don't really have an appetite to try to do it more than once a year because it works so horribly that why would you repeat something that more often if it doesn't work already, and a whole set of different dynamics in the enterprise sector, but below 50 employees, the walk around method or the start, stop, keep every quarter via Google Form, it's not that bad of a way to do it, and you don't get into interesting budgets for us. So really, that 50 to 5000 became a really good swath.

Santiago Jarami:              
Then we started to look at, was it industries at region and then we started going deeper, focusing on a couple of metro areas in the US and doing kind of a geo-centered go-to market as well as finding out what would be some industries or pockets that are underserved and or get the most value from our solution. And so we really landed on professional services software, IT tech industries, mid-sized in specific geo pockets in the country where basically, our competitors aren't headquartered.

Santiago Jarami:              
That formula for us kind of combining that matrix of characteristics has allowed us to go in with a kind of a laser like message that applies to them. And the message is you want more business performance, the world has changed with people. We help you understand what has changed about people, how to meet them where they're at and help them to help you a better environment where they can perform better or they can be more productive where they can stay longer. And it's not just a win for the company, it's also a win for the employees.

Santiago Jarami:              
What we're trying to find out is what's the intersection of the Venn diagrams of what is good for the company and good for the the person and there's actually a really rich center in the middle of actions that you can take that on the one hand isn't just catering to your employees everyone and not running a business and on the other side, it's not about the business squeezing an ounce of productivity more from people. It's about business listening to people about what they need, meeting some of those needs and creating an environment that's right for people bringing their full heart and mind to their work which ... And knowledge type work isn't just like a 10% increase. Somebody's heart in mind being fully in something can mean the difference between one and 10 x type value outcome for an individual employee or a team or company at large.

Mike Kelly:                         
That geocentric targeting, what are some of the cities that ... There was like second cities like Indianapolis, St. Louis, Portland, Phoenix. Are these tier one cities? New York, Chicago, LA. How did you guys land on this specific cities that you targeted?

Santiago Jarami:              
Sure. And so it was really two factors, [inaudible 00:18:19] is big enough to matter and be worth sticking a flag on the ground. If we stake out a flag on the ground for the city of 50 and we're the dominant market leader will boo, right? That's going to feed our appetite for two hours.

Mike Kelly:                         
Right.

Santiago Jarami:              
Our sales team. So it was big enough to matter but underserved. So we looked at all sorts of things digital spend by region where competitors are physically headquartered, the're sales offices and where they were and based on big enough to matter and underserved we came up with kind of a short list of five and then we even looked at literally, what's easier to get to? Is it a nonstop flight to flight or two flights?

Mike Kelly:                         
Yeah, we did that too.

Santiago Jarami:              
And so that really ended up ... We got to five or six. And then really the nonstop flight became the tiebreaker of choosing the three that we're focusing for 2019.

Mike Kelly:                         
I was going to ask that, three for 2019.

Santiago Jarami:              
And we're not going to three all at the same time, we're really going all in on one and starting to test. So it's really kind of like three parallel paths, but staggered. So we're really going all in on one. But then the next one is kicking in in Q2, and then the next one is kicking on Q4, and we looked at our sales goals and the total addressable market that we needed.

Mike Kelly:                         
Yeah.

Santiago Jarami:              
And then kind of staged them so that we only went into a new city when we have to.

Mike Kelly:                         
Do you see network effects when you enter a city? Like an employee from one company that's using you, goes to another company and they're like, "Hey, why aren't we using Amplify? They do this." Or even like you mentioned, Vistage group stuff like that where you have one CEO is talking to another is like, "Hey, why aren't you doing this? We've gotten great results from it." How much of that happens when you think about going into a city? How much of it is your sales team versus you establish a B-chat and now you're hopeful and that catches on like-

Santiago Jarami:              
Yeah Crossing the Chasm right? talks about the one of the primary criteria for defining a target market is referenceability, right? The extent the vitality, well, you don't have a ton of vitality in enterprise or a lot more consumer in but same idea, right? Of that word of mouth.

Mike Kelly:                         
No, but it's there.

Santiago Jarami:              
It's absolutely there. So we take advantage of that word of mouth through affiliate groups like your Vistages or YPOs and we work with 50 Vistage companies now or something like that, right? So when we're talking about Vistage company were like, "No, people just like you. Et cetera. And the other pieces there are ... Think about software in Indiana, right? Maybe you definitely know the names, right? So if you find out that's Lessonly and Spring Back and high alpha companies and DT companies all use one, use [inaudible 00:20:57] for marketing automation. Well, that matters.

Mike Kelly:                         
Right.

Santiago Jarami:              
Because I might reach out to folks and I’ll hear... So this just happened. Terminus for example is a well known software brand and we landed them and we've hit it out of the park for them and so we've now started to spread in software in the Atlanta tech village which is very rest referenceabble in that way.

Mike Kelly:                         
Yeah. That's great. As you're talking about that I just this week, was it this week? My weeks [inaudible 00:21:32], maybe it was last week but is in a slack channel with a bunch of it's a TEO groups that I'm in and one of them started a thread on ... It was pipe drive versus HubSpot, right? For sales, started thinking about making a switch away from an another tool and they were there basically like, "Look, we're not using Salesforce. These are the two that we like. Who has experiences with them?" And it was just awesome the discussion that happened very, very quickly from I don't know, 20 different companies all sharing their perspectives on the tools that they were talking about. Sorry, I wonder how much you guys hit to see that as well.

Mike Kelly:                         
So when you think of marketing strategy within a geographic area, how much of that is physical, we need to be at events, we need to be sponsoring things, even know what those events or sponsorships would be. I'm not as much in the HR space in people space, but how much of that is physical versus digital versus content versus how do you think about dividing that up?

Santiago Jarami:              
Yeah. So my experience has been that depending on your buyers behaviors and the ACV, those are the two things that really regulate how much are offline marketing channels and how much are online. For example back in the Bluebridge days, part of the reason why we ended up selling Bluebridge and not going all in on this concept of multi-vertical mobile app platform, was because what worked for church marketing to get church leads and sales meetings and tourism worked totally the opposite. So basically, you to have two marketing teams, one highly skilled and online digital and one highly skilled and outbound prospecting, event marketing et cetera. And so for us at Amplify, it's been really a combination of content inbound, but the event and partnership angles have been important for us to.

Santiago Jarami:              
So I would probably say it's a 60-40 split of digital being probably a little bit over half of what we do. And then physical events, digital webinars, which are also events and partners that are well known in that geo location. That's kind of in our marketing mix that we've relied on.

Mike Kelly:                         
How different is your data science from other products that are out there in the market? And I do not know your market as well as you do, but lets have some passing familiar familiarity with the Q 12, right? If I'm looking at my Amplify core versus another ... It doesn't have to be that one, but right? Another solution out there that is providing me with some score that hopefully is actionable in some meaningful way, how much either data research, case studies, whatever do you have that you guys are really doing something different versus this is just another way to do it. And hopefully we're making it easier to do and more actionable but if you're doing any of those things, you're probably winning.

Santiago Jarami:              
Sure.

Mike Kelly:                         
How do you think about that? Is this really a better mousetrap? Or is it we're just trying to build the best in class tool for the market or going after ... And if they want to use any of those other things, they'll probably be okay. How do you guys think about that?

Santiago Jarami:              
Sure. So we definitely made sure to do enough validation, the data and the accuracy, validity, reliability on it to be really confident that we're delivering trustworthy insights for our customers because that's something that is really important when you're making big asset and bandwidth allocation decisions, making sure that the integrity of your data is accurate, and it's trustworthy enough to make insights.

Santiago Jarami:              
So we did that. But what we realized is some of the blockers actually using data to take actions down the layers of the organization weren't better algorithms for the data, but was actually differentiating at a system level where all of it playing together the software, plus the services, and the specific methodology of get a score, quantitative, root cause, diagnose and action plan, the qualitative and then put a human at the end to help with the last accountability coaching motivation piece. That's really what was missing.

Santiago Jarami:              
So we spent a lot of time focused on the entire system and how all the parts fit together. So while the specific data science of it may not be the most clever, most groundbreaking, innovative way of calculating an employee engagement score, when it's wrapped in the whole system, it actually works. So in terms of how we think about differentiating, you know those stationary bikes that we buy for our basements the workout and never actually end up working out, right? Those called stationary bikes, is that what they call them?

Mike Kelly:                         
Yeah.

Santiago Jarami:              
Yeah. So when Peloton was looking at that market, they weren't looking to build a better exercise machine in terms of the gears inside of the wheels would spin faster. It wasn't about that, it was about how do we actually get people to work out? It's not about innovating on the actual machine, it's like what entire system, what whole product is actually going to get people to work out? And they realize that sticking an iPad like device on top and having real-time and on-demand streaming of fitness classes with a coach and with music and with leader boards and with a heart rate monitor that's integrated, that that entire system actually causes people to not just have a dusty stationary bike that they spent too much on, actually they could have a potentially even a slightly inferior exercise bike that people use 10 x more.

Mike Kelly:                         
Right.

Santiago Jarami:              
And that's a better outcome for fitness. I think that's how we think about differentiation.

Mike Kelly:                         
That is a great answer. Wow, I have never thought of Peloton that way either. All right, so with that in mind switch gears to product roadmap.

Santiago Jarami:              
Yeah.

Mike Kelly:                         
So when you think of innovation going forward or when you think of the types of things you need to build out in 2019, 2020, where does your mind go? How do you continue to build that better system? What do you think some of those things are?

Santiago Jarami:              
Start really grounded with the customers problems in mind. So the first problem that we sought to tackle was how do you as a C-suite executive get actionable data to make better decisions and actually prioritize a few data-driven actions that you take to create a more engaging environment and they actually see if those are improving or not over time. It turns out that as we work with larger companies of 1000 and 2000 person organizations, they have this entire mid-management layer that can be two to 300 people in a two, 3000 person organization. And it turns out that those mid--managers are really the ones managing the people doing the real work.

Santiago Jarami:              
What I mean by that is if you're a executive at a 2000 person company, you're setting strategy, you're thinking, your head that people actually managing the sales reps with quota for this quarter and servicing the customer, this month and this week are actually mid-managers. Those are the folks that the organization truly turns a corner on engagement and sees dramatic transformation in terms of the employee experience they deliver, is when they can equip their mid-managers to make smarter, more intelligent and faster decisions that are based on data to inform how they think about running their teams.

Santiago Jarami:              
And so that's where our product roadmap is focused on. Is we have the most actionable insights for the C-suite. How do we operationalize those insights down the layers of the organization so that even mid-managers and even supervisors can actually in a very efficient way, take better people decisions from that data. And so a lot of it is focused on that, how do we scale our services to match what mid-managers can afford to consume? How do we create entire system that doesn't just work for the executive persona, but really, we're delivering value to an entirely different persona, who has a entirely different set of needs and motivations, right? As an executive, you have more of a desire for control. And as a mid-manager, there's more desire for recognition. And so understanding each of our core personas and then delivering on those, how come we think about the highest level of our product roadmap.

Mike Kelly:                         
How do you and your team do that kind of customer discovery today? Because there's an interesting thing there, which is ... One is your it's not a problem you experience and amplify right? So you-

Santiago Jarami:              
You got it.

Mike Kelly:                         
So it just one, you can't eat your own dog food.

Santiago Jarami:              
Yeah.

Mike Kelly:                         
Two, it's also, when you're solving problems, particularly for smaller businesses, it is often very easy to be able to go into those businesses and have a conversation, right? Like, "Hey, we're building this product, it's early, we're going to build this around you, we'd love for you to be a partner." You can do that in a smaller organization. Even if ... And by smaller, I mean, maybe a couple hundred people. And they're like, "Yeah, great. Let's do it." Right? Like, "That sounds like a great experience. I'd love for my team to be involved in something like that." But when you're going to company with 200 middle managers, right? That's a whole different conversation. I would love to know how you guys are doing that or thinking about, if you're not doing it, yeah, seeing about doing it. How do you have that conversation?

Santiago Jarami:              
Yeah, that's a great question. And you are absolutely getting to some of the edge of what we're working on now.

Mike Kelly:                         
Right on. Okay sorry. You don't have to have all the answers.

Santiago Jarami:              
No, it's all good. One of the things that we are trying this idea of can we actually ... And from our product, we can understand what managers are actually increasing engagement for their team and managers that are trying but failing, they're logging in, they're taking steps, but they're failing at increasing engagement. And so in the product, reaching out to them without going top down, but just reaching directly to that mid-manager and saying, "We'd love some feedback, can you talk to us?" Just spend a minimum, an hour of time, we're not asking for an hour every week." But just going directly to the person and making the case to that person. So far, that's been okay. And an hour on a call hasn't been overly taxing on the organization.

Mike Kelly:                         
Yeah.

Santiago Jarami:              
And so that's one of the things we're trying because you're right. Our internal SMEs, we're no longer around customer.

Mike Kelly:                         
Yeah, that's a super intersting problem.

Santiago Jarami:              
Yeah.

Mike Kelly:                         
All right. Again as you think through the roadmap, any technology changes that are interesting to us that you guys are watching that you think may change the way that you either capture feedback from employees, or maybe even present or interact with employees down the road in terms of findings?

Santiago Jarami:              
Sure. Yeah, the one thing that we're trying out is actually showing some results to the individual employee about their own results. And so saying, "Here's your three highest drivers of engagement. Here are the things that are really floating your boat about this organization. Here are some of the areas where that's lacking." And even talking points for, "Hey, you're lacking at this, here's a tip of how you might be able to speak with your manager about low lack of utilization."

Santiago Jarami:              
You could ask something like, "Hey, I'm ready for new challenges is anything ... Are there any projects I could take on that can help?" Things like that. So really talking about are different personas, right? The executive persona, the manager persona and that individual. So how do we return value to each of those personas inside of our organization? Obviously, the promise of non-survey ways to collect data that can inform employee engagement is a big promise out there.

Mike Kelly:                         
So that's things like ... And I actually don't know the answer to this. That's going to be things like measuring how many times they're interacting with peers in slack, what are some of the things that you're potentially tapping into there to gauge that?

Santiago Jarami:              
So to be clear, so far, we're not. The promise is there and we're dabbling in on that we haven't found any great, significantly impactful kind of high correlation data points there. Some of the classic ones that have been tried are email activity or calendar activity and this ripe with issues there for sure. So the promise of using non-survey data points to inform employee engagement measurement is a big promise. We're trying things there, but we haven't really found another data source that isn't a kind of a self-recorded survey question yet, that has the predictive power to better measure engagement.

Santiago Jarami:              
We continue kind of being tempted at going into the math and the science, either the psychology or the math to carve out more value for our customers. And we continue so far at least realizing that more value for our customers is on the system and how to actually operationalize our software and services down the layers of the organization that it is going deeper in the data and the science which is a non-intuitive realization but has been true.

Mike Kelly:                         
Yeah, as you think about moving more towards your interactions with the individual, has that sparked any thoughts or discussions around what would it mean for that individual to take their patterns with them across to employers? Like, I work here at my current company, and we use Amplify. And so we've got a couple of years of data around my engagement as an employee here at this company. And then next month I work in a new company and they use Amplify. Is there any idea that I as an employee would be able to see in my turn? So what is unique to me and my methodologies which I have many versus you know what, I'm just not going to be happy no matter what company I work for. Right? Because it's in me, it's not actually an employer problem, right?

Santiago Jarami:              
Sure.

Mike Kelly:                         
Have you guys ... Obviously we talked about that but any ideas around, is that something you can even try? What are the implications of that? That is super fascinating to me in terms of your ability to then coach an individual around, "Hey, this is something you need to be able to deal with." Or even then being able to wait a score for a company because you have an insight that is super unique in that, like, "Look this score when you adjust it for these set of individuals is actually a pretty good score." Right? Because guess what, you're never gonna make them happy, right?

Santiago Jarami:              
Yeah.

Mike Kelly:                         
How do you guys think about that?

Santiago Jarami:              
Definitely. So we do think about it. And one of the interesting things that we think about is, is there any way that we can use our understanding of the attributes of a company's most highly engaged employees and actually inform hiring with those? So if we know what character traits are common in the most engaged folks, can we understand correlation? And can we begin to then build a set of personas or set of traits or even some exclusionary traits like these types of people who need this to be engaged, don't do well here because the company provides very little effects. So from free hire screening, we think that's really interesting. We are set up for portability across companies. We haven't had a need to do it yet but remains an interesting path for the future.

Mike Kelly:                         
All right. What has you most excited going into ... Yeah, I guess for this podcast will probably drop in early 2019. We're recording this in the last days of December. What has you excited about 2019? As you look forward to the new year, what are you jazzed about either at Amplify or in the market in general that you're geared up for?

Santiago Jarami:              
Yeah. I'm going to cheat and answer with two things if that's okay, that are tied. So first I start from a customer perspective. Since the late 1960s when Gallup started tracking the state of engagement globally, there really hasn't been a meaningful increase and employee engagement levels. Think about how few areas of our lives are the same today as they were in the late 1960s but overall yes, our increase our expectations have increased what we expect of work. But work is still for most people, is as engaging as it wasn't late 1960s.

Santiago Jarami:              
So what we're doing today isn't actually working. I think that cracking the code on that mid-manager, how to actually give data driven insights to mid-managers, so that you can operationalize data-driven engagement decision making down all the layers of the organization, I think whoever cracks that I think will win the mid-size company space. And no one has really to this point and we have a real shot at it in 2019. So in terms of solving that problem for our customers how to actually deliver that to mid-managers at scale at a big company, nobody has done that. We have an opportunity and that's super exciting.

Santiago Jarami:              
At the same time, internally our team we spent probably four months this year clarifying our four year vision as a company and for product solution, and then a nine months strategy at the time, which is now June 30th, kind of Q1 and Q2 of 2019. So we have a clear vision. And we have a very specific way of how we're going to accomplish that vision in the next now six months, then we have the right people to do it.

Santiago Jarami:              
So in terms of having alignment and heading toward the right place, and having the right people mostly to pursue that, we've got that internally which ... So as an internal company craftsmen of crafting a company that will actually be highly competitive in the market environment, that's not easy to get to a place where everybody knows where we're headed, has internalized that and is committed and we've got the right people to run after that. So I think you mix the readiness of our team and this big rewarding problem to solve. That's what's got me really excited about 2019.

Mike Kelly:                         
It's an awesome answer. If people would like to learn more about Amplify or if they want to get a hold of you, how can they do that?

Santiago Jarami:              
So to learn more about Amplify, it's www.emplify.com. You'll see lots of calls to action where there's a download content, their own native data research on what actually engages employees. Really whether it's to reach out and have a conversation with us. And then I'm on Twitter @Santiagojara and santiago@emplify.com directly.

Mike Kelly:                         
And I think I have this correct, you released a book last year, this year?

Santiago Jarami:              
Yes, last year.

Mike Kelly:                         
What is the book man?

Santiago Jarami:              
Agile Engagements. It is basically bottling up the methodology that we are operationalizing with software. So how do we actually use employee feedback in the modern era to create highly collaborative, effective and innovative teams of people who do big things? So myself and Todd Richardson, my co-author who led HR at ExactTarget for many, many years, co-wrote that book and I speak all over the country on it as well. And so, yeah.

Mike Kelly:                         
Awesome. Thank you so much for joining us.

Santiago Jarami:              
Thanks for the time.