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It’s no secret that the past two years have shaped the ways we work with others. We have a growing constellation of tools at our disposal that all orbit around our sun: Slack. But why does it still feel like none of those tools talk to one another? This week, Rich and Paul chat about that disconnect and how it affects the way we work. They also envision a more streamlined future for tools and a better way to communicate.


Rich Ziade So now enter…

Paul Ford Sandman. [Rich hums Enter the Sandman]

[music ramps up, plays alone, fades out]

PF Rich, we are here live in the Postlight Podcast studio. 

RZ You know what, Paul, this is our 6000th podcast.

PF Over 60,000 podcasts, just two guys talking about the tech industry, product and what really matters. Get ready for some top 10 tips about what you can do to level up your product management career while working with Postlight!

RZ But first this ad… 

PF Oh my god. Casper!

RZ You’re hearing it here first on the Postlight Podcast. 

PF Alright.

RZ Casper has just announced mini mattress iPhone cases. 

PF Ah, this is really exciting.

RZ They’re taking the technology that makes you sleep comfortably–

PF And you can put your computer to bed. 

RZ No, you can put your phone in it and it makes your phone about six to eight times bigger because it’s a big mushy mattress. But when you drop that phone, nothing is going to happen. And talk about sleep mode. 

PF Anyway. Going on. What do you want to talk about today? You have a subject in mind. 

RZ Paul, what is the number one communication tool for consulting firms use?

PF Annual reviews.

RZ No, no, that’s not what I meant. PowerPoint. 

PF You know, the other one is money. 

RZ Money is a communication tool. 

PF That’s their number one communication tool. 

RZ What can I do for you, Jim? $80,000. 

PF Yeah, exactly. Or vice versa. Okay, so PowerPoint.

RZ People write in–PowerPoint is supposed to be for presentations.

PF PowerPoint is used for all the communication. Should not be shocking news to anyone in the audience.

RZ It’s a strange thing. 

PF Is it? Richard? 

RZ Well, I mean, usually presentations should have not many words. So you can pay attention to the presenter. And there’s big images and big pictures. But if you look at some of the hard core document artifacts that come out of–it’s a document, except it’s written in a presentation tool. Weird.

PF You know, how you can tell an agency like ours is a little bit premium. 

RZ How?

PF Our proposals are 8.5 x 11. But rotated. 

RZ Ohhhh.

PF We noticed that. When we started this business, and we started to see the proposals from our competitors, the up market ones. Nobody uses portrait mode. 

RZ No, no, they’re watching a movie.

PF Everybody’s in landscape. 

RZ It’s a movie trailer.

PF You’re always pointing to that that deck.

RZ Guess what the number one workflow management tool in the world is?

PF A guy yelling at you. That is actually true.

RZ Probably true.

PF Like if you’re at the ball bearing manufacturing company, there’s a guy and he says, How you doing the ball bearings? 

RZ Move faster, yeah.

PF Crazy thing is he went to Harvard. 

RZ He did?

PF Yeah, he did. It’s once you get that MBA, you got to use it somehow. 

RZ Yeah. Mechanical Engineering. 

PF Yeah, exactly. No, no, no, that’s an MBA. Absolutely. Then he gets the job at the ball bearing factory.

RZ Excel. 

PF Yeah, that’s what I do all day. 

RZ The magic of excel is it lets you do math and complex modeling and calculations and accounting and all that stuff.

PF I can’t remember where I was reading this. But somebody said something really good. Excel can be a programming language, if you want it to, or you can write in programming, programming. You know what Excel has that’s amazing? It’s not that it can do math. It’s that it lets you format things.

RZ In a tabular way. 

PF Yeah. Because so much of our world is actually tabular. Months with values. 

RZ Yes, lists of thing.

PF If you want to know, when the cognitive archaeologists come down and investigate the newest fear of the future. And they’re like, what were they thinking? How do they organize their world? Months across the top and numbers below is the number one artifact of our society and plastic.

RZ I mean, stuff across the top, and then many items running down the rows.

PF If you need to rebuild society, that’s your number one tool, right? 

RZ But.

PF But.

RZ But.

PF But.

RZ So look, we’re in our own heads right now. Nobody knows what the hell we’re talking about. 

PF They know we’re talking about Excel, a product from Microsoft, which is a spreadsheet.

RZ I want to talk about the profound change with how people are working today. Let me illustrate through an example. We use a tool in the office to hire candidates. We’re all hiring at Postlight, by the way. If you are a product designer, product manager, engineer, mobile engineer, web engineer, reach out, this is a really cool frickin’ place to work. 

PF It’s really good. or go to 

RZ We understand, we have seen people graduate out of this place. People who we made a bet on who leveled up their game because the talent around them was so good and they’ve gone to big, big places. Slack, Adobe. 

PF That’s right. 

RZ Facebook. 

PF This is confusing I think for a lot of people. You measure the success of an agency by where people go.

RZ Of course!

PF An agency is a transitional place. I want to level up my career, I might be really experienced, but I’m only in media. Because I’m going to come and learn how to work on other kinds of products so that I can then go work in a pure software company, things like that. That is success. 

RZ Yes. Check out the job openings, 

PF We want you. We want you to apply. Absolutely 100%. Let me just be clear, you should have if you’re listening to this, you should have your resume updated, your LinkedIn updated. Applying to Postlight should be like, you know what, why not? I’ll give it a minute and see what happens. If it takes you more than a minute to apply for a job, what are you doing? Get it ready. You need to be taking care yourself. 

RZ Now, if you apply, it gets–I’m going to avoid naming.

PF Don’t name this thing.

RZ The recruiting platform. Okay. It’s not bad. It’s okay.

PF No, it’s called Job Toilet, which is how it works. 

RZ Anyway, this tool is highly specialized. It stores everything that comes in through the application, the PDF resume, the name of the person, their contact info, think it lets you put in a URL, if they have a website.

PF It also encodes them in such a way that you will never find any of them ever again.

RZ It’s hard to find stuff in this thing. 

PF You know, one of the things I like to look at when somebody applies for a job? Just take a guess what the artifact might be that I think is really interesting. 

RZ The resume. 

PF Yeah, that’s a good one. Where is it?

RZ Let’s walk through that journey. Denise XYZ applies for the senior product manager position at Postlight. She submits it through an external form, it gets put in this system. Someone in People Ops at Postlight is reviewing the candidates that are coming through.

PF Okay, it comes through the web, and the API of the career tool system stores all this data.

RZ It stores all the data.

PF It’s in a workflow tool as a software as a service provider. 

RZ That’s right.

PF Get in there and now gives you a list of all the things to go through. 

RZ That’s day one. Application comes through.By day three, someone in People Ops has gone through that list and is decided that Denise is worth talking to. 

PF That’s right.

RZ They set up a phone call and they have a conversation. By day five, they’ve decided that they’re going to have a round of interviews and Postlight’s process is not one interview, it’s more like four-ish. And four interviews are going to get lined up. 

PF There subprocesses too, right. So there’s the conversation, there’s take home test, which we pay people for. It’s actually a lot of processes–

RZ A lot of steps in there. 

PF That get kicked off. Also because people be thinking about it, we’ve worked really hard to build an equitable hiring process that is as open ended and inclusive as possible. What that means actually, though, is that there’s a lot of different kinds of paperwork and accountability internally that we need to keep track of to make sure we are meeting these goals, tracking things, being respectful, getting in touch in a certain amount of time. Stuff like that.

RZ That’s right. But what’s happening, though, is once this candidate comes through, the team members have to talk to each other about the interest level, how interested are we in hiring them? 

PF And this is where it all goes wrong. Team members should never talk. 

RZ Team members should talk. 

PF Oh, you’re right. I’m sorry, no wonder I resigned as CEO.

RZ The thing is this, the tool that has memorialized Denise’s resume, is not where we gather to make these important decisions. We gather elsewhere, we may have a meeting.

PF It literally repels usage. 

RZ It repels usage. 

PF When you fill out the little form about what you thought about the interview, it is a gamble if it’s going to be stored.

RZ Well, it’s not that bad. It was just hard to find it.

PF Session timed out…

RZ It’s hard to find the scorecard–forget it. I’m not going to get it. I don’t want to vent about the tool. The point I’m trying to make is the tool is the filing cabinet for the resume. The actual dialogue and conversation happens in a meeting. We used to have meetings at Postlight, where we’d run down the candidate list. Yeah, talk about each one for about five to eight minutes each, because everyone is in the room and we could talk to each other. Yep, I’m a fan. They’re too expensive. Their ask is too high, etc, etc. 

PF Wrong experience, so on so forth.

RZ We do a lot of that in Slack now. But in Slack, you’re not going to create a Denise XYZ channel to talk about her and decide and make an offer and then close it.

PF Neither De-niece nor De-nephew.

RZ Oof.

PF Sorry, just trying some new material. 

RZ So now we’re at day eight or nine. We’re about to make a call.

PF That’s a Postlight week.

RZ We decided to not move forward with Denise. And we’re done.

PF Sorry Denise.

RZ If you drew an activity graph, for the journey of Denise’s resume from day one to day nine, what you find is various spikes in conversational activity. And then silence.

PF When does the silence happen? 

RZ Whether we hired Denise or whether we passed on her.

PF We’re never gonna talk about her again. 

RZ You will never talk about her again.

PF Not in that context. 

RZ You will never talk about her. If the offer comes through and she accepts and they’re coming in. There’s a different process. There’s this onboarding process that kicks in. It’s more of a checklist, but yeah.

PF That’s interesting to think about unifying those. There’s also the fact that Denise is now essentially kind of a customer of HR and HR is a customer of Denise.

RZ If she comes on you mean.

PF Forever. But totally different systems, different workflow.

RZ Different workflow, different systems. 

PF So we’ve now retired the Denise card or listing inside of the HR tool, the hiring tool. 

RZ What are the tools Postlight uses to store stuff today? We’ve got the HR tool, which I think you called Toilet Box.

PF Job Toilet.

RZ We’ve got a tool for tracking our sales leads. 

PF That’s right, that one–that’s called PipeDrive.

RZ It’s pretty good. 

PF It’s okay. 

RZ We’ve been using it for a long time. 

PF We use three fields of PipeDrive. It has over 200 million fields.

RZ Then there’s Coda, which there’s a three and a half hour intro to code a video that you can go watch on YouTube to understand Coda. 

PF Our product managers love Coda. 

RZ Product Managers love Coda. 

PF It’s how they organize the world. They’re like, look, I put emojis by things. 

RZ There’s Google Docs and Google Sheets. 

PF That’s–I’m basically I’m Google. I’m Google docs in the streets in Google Sheets in the also the streets.

RZ I think there’s a little bit of Shortcut which used to be called Clubhouse, but Clubhouse the podcasting tool has got the name back. 

PF That is a good one. The major thing there is speed, it just moves along really well.

RZ It’s a fast app. We recommend Shortcut. It’s a good product. 

PF It’s a good product. We had the design director on this podcast.

RZ And then there’s Figma, if you’re looking at designs.

PF Figma took over, we do still see some Invision, but Figma has really taken over. 

RZ Figma has taken over. What you have effectively, is this constellation of apps–god, we spend a lot of money. If you add it all up. It’s a lot of money. 

PF We don’t even see the invoices but when we were still CEO and President–‘cuz you like to look at all the credit card incoming. 

RZ I do?

PF You did.

RZ Yeah. 

PF You’d be like, What is this $1,800 charge for–