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36 min read

PODCAST: A Woman in Tech's Passion for Developing Problem Solving Software Products

7/8/20 1:33 PM

Star Talks: Episode 17 with Lisa Haggard: Star Talks is the podcast of small conversations that inspire you to do big things and in this episode Lisa Haggard, the Head of Product Strategy at Chassi, shares how at a young age her first encounter with the internet shaped her idea and curiosity of technology as the 'window to the world', how she worked as a QA tester on Xbox live games and learned that determination helps exceed natural ability, how Chassi's operational insights enables the ability to see an individual's success while using their tools, such as an ERP, and how that can result in driving the increase in income and earnings for people in operations.

Episode 17 - Haggard

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Here's the episode transcript:


Lisa, thank you so much for joining the show.

Lisa: (01:25)
Thanks for having me.


Yeah, it's my pleasure. I'm really excited to talk with you since we've met about six months ago. You know, I've, I have done a little bit of research into your background, but really not until kind of leading up into this episode. So I'm really excited to learn more and hear it from you and have our audience hear your story. You know, knowing you for a few months. I think we met at the end of 2019 and seeing what others say about you, you know, I see a consistent theme throughout is that you're a problem solver. And you know, I want to know a little bit about that. I want to know more about that, but before we get started into that, tell us a little bit about your backstory, where are you from and what was it like growing up?

Lisa: (02:13)
Yeah, I think a, that kind of connects the two things because before I was a problem solver, I was a problem starter and that's kind of how I grew up in a small town in Nebraska, middle of nowhere, Nebraska. My dad was the president at the local bank and my mom, she worked nights as a respiratory therapist in the local hospital. And so I had a brother that's 10 years older than me and the sister that's four years older than me. So that meant they were pretty much my babysitters. And so naturally what happens with that is I have no respect for those in charge of me. And also they want nothing to do with me being that much older than me. So I had to get real creative to figure out how to not be bored. And so some interesting things probably developed out of that scenario.


Naturally. Yeah, I can relate to that for sure. So I guess today, if we fast forward to today from, from where you were then to today, I mean today, your product, you're an UX and operations leader. You've worked on a lot of incredible products at incredible companies. You've started off testing video games for Xbox live. You've launched wireless services at Cox communications. You've played a key role in blitz scaling online auto sales ops at Carvana. Now you're the director of product strategy at Chassi. You know, I want to talk more about those experiences, but how did you get started on this path from being watched by your brother and sister causing havoc in the world to using products to help solve problems?

Lisa: (04:04)
Yeah, well, where it kind of started was my entry into technology. My dad and my mom got into one of their biggest fights because my dad bought a $3,000 computer in like 1990 and without talking to her and set it up in their bedroom. And I remember just looking at this weird thing and I'd seen commercials about like how internet is going to be the it's the window to the world. And it would talk about all these different things you could explore and do and communicate. And to me, I was like this chubby little red headed kid in the middle of Nebraska. I was like the female version of Chuck from the Goonies. And so this concept of like, there's this alternative world out there that you can like seek and explore and be a part of was fascinating to me. And there was a little AOL icon that I saw, like at first it was just windows 3.1. And I was like doing playing games from the command prompt. Hugo's House of Horrors, Where the World's Carmen San Diego, those kinds of things. Yeah.


Where the World's Carmen San Diego. Yes.

Lisa: (05:19)
And then we had windows 3.1 and there was this little AOL icon and it, it, it blew my mind. I said, that is what I need to click on to get into this, this new world they're talking about the internet and I would click it and nothing would happen and I would click it and nothing would happen. I had no idea what was wrong. It didn't even have a modem inside the computer. There was no way for it to connect to the internet whatsoever, but I had no idea in my seven year old brain that that's what was required. And so the, just playing around with computers and also at that point, like your parents didn't know more about technology than you did. So like there was no one to ask, which is interesting, as a 7 year old. Now he's like, mom, I'm helping with this video game.

Lisa: (06:06)
I'm like, okay. And I go and help her. And I actually stopped doing that because I don't want to just punish her being like I had to learn from scratch. And now you do too. But that curiosity of making things work, exploring different things inside technology, that you had no idea what they did or what, like back in the day, windows didn't have any kind of guidance as to how to do anything in the system. And so if you wanted something to work, you had to figure it out. And there was no guide. There was no instructions. You couldn't ask anybody, you just had to play around. And I think that curiosity with technology is what really captivated me and that transitioned well into gaming where there's this online world of people you could play with. And it wasn't about me and where I was at and who I was.

Lisa: (07:02)
It was just about playing together these first person shooter games, where there was an objective, like you had to work together as a team in order to, to capture the flag or blow up the bomb or whatever it might be. And so that, that consumed me and fascinated me from a really young age. And I knew when I would get with them, I was going to be older that I was going to do something in technology, and I wanted to do something creative and different and connect people. And that really seated, seated from that computer. My dad brought home and made my mom real mad.


Well yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I appreciate you letting me know that a modem is required to connect to the internet. Nothing else then, you know, that really helps me out. I'm just a sales guy, but so you talked about getting into gaming and sort of that, that sort of, you opened you up to that world. And so your first role as a QA tester at rockstar games for Xbox live. So tell us what you were working on there and what did you learn about yourself in that role?

Lisa: (08:16)
Yeah, well, at some point I was like, I'm leaving Nebraska and I'm going to California and I'm going to make something of myself. And so I kind of filled out my car and found a job on Craigslist and found a roommates on Craigslist. And luckily I didn't die, but the role at rockstar was basically you just play games over and over and over again. And that's what QA was. And I was the only female in the entire company other than the HR person. And so that kind of, I guess, now that I look at it, there's a lot of incident. A lot of that I was put in where I felt that I was kind of like the one that didn't belong or the underdog. And I had to prove myself, which I was naturally competitive. And so that really worked out for me where the expectations were low.

Lisa: (09:13)
And I really wanted to prove myself to increase those expectations that I could do this. And so then like finding in QA there's different bug levels, like one that crashes the game or one that are just visual bugs and things like that. And I would always try to set a quota for myself, like, all right, I'm going to find this many bugs, this many bugs, this many bugs. And I was just jamming through them. And I think my second week there, I was promoted to run the Xbox live testing where I would organize five or six people, which were these other dudes that have been there forever. And they would get so mad and try to sabotage me. They would hide. Like we couldn't lose these discs, these beta discs, because it was highly secretive in the gaming industry that when you were given a beta disc to test like you were responsible for it.

Lisa: (10:06)
And if I went to the bathroom or anything else, like I could be assured when I got back, that thing was gone. And so I always had to take like these extra precautions to make sure that I wasn't going to get messed with being like a female in the tech world. And especially not just in the tech world and the gaming world was very different. But I had really succeeded purely because like I have that chip on my shoulder that I had to prove myself. And it's amazing how much of a theme that is throughout my life. But that married with a genuine curiosity. Is there something that other people aren't saying, like, could I find something other people overlooked or when people start to get lazy because when they test things, it's fine, it's fine. It's fine. But, but if you believe there could be something out there that someone else's overlooked, it's more than likely that you're going to find it like nothing is perfect and technology, and that's true with insights and analytics. That's true with gaming and finding bugs, or just trying to find opportunity and features that people haven't tapped into yet.


So we, on our very first episode of star talks, we have Teresa seller who, you know, has, is a woman in tech. And she talked about some of the challenges that she faced. I mean, is there something to it? I mean, is it, you, you, you talk about there's, you kind of have this chip on your shoulder, you know, like you had to work you had to work harder, you had to overcome certain obstacles that maybe, you know, a guy wouldn't have to overcome. Is there something to that or or is that just is that not really the case?

Lisa: (11:54)
No, there's definitely something to that. And that doesn't just have to be like a female in tech. You know what I mean? The being faced with adversity and having to persevere. I mean, I really don't think I was the most skilled in many of the positions that I was in, but I knew that my determination exceeded my natural ability. And what's amazing is if you're determined enough, if you have perseverance at the core of everything you do, you're going to succeed more than those who don't, regardless of the skill set. And I've, I find that as an amazing opportunity to be put behind and say, see if you can catch up. And it's unfortunate that people have to start behind in a number of different ways. It's, it's a privilege to be able to try your hardest and work with those around you and succeed in spite of certain circumstances.

Lisa: (13:09)
And so that really changed like over the years of my career, it really changed from like, I have to prove myself, I have to succeed, which was a very immature way of looking at that. But I, but like, that's all I knew when I was younger too. Like we have to succeed. Like we have these constraints, we have these limitations and how do we succeed in spite of those? And that mentality shift, I think is really important that just certain things happened in my life that really caused that I, to we mentality to change. And I think that's just general business maturity people get as they get older, to be honest and not that young people don't, so there's some young people I've met that have that right out the gate, and that's really rare, but I think there is something to starting behind and having to work extra hard to get ahead. And that makes it just that more, that much more thrilling when you, when you make it.


Yeah. And it's not necessarily the circumstance, all those circumstance can definitely cause you to, to start from behind so to speak, but it's really the, the attitude and the way that you're looking at the situation and ultimately determines the outcome.

Lisa: (14:27)
Right. Right. And like, so I always was in sports as a kid and which is funny, cause I was not athletic at all. But I found it a way to be competitive. And if I practiced enough, like I was a first pick softball player as a pitcher I did really well at soccer. Again, it wasn't because of my natural ability or whatsoever. I was just really determined to feel like I had value based on being able to succeed in different areas and show people that I was worthy. And I think a lot of us have, I don't think anyone's immune to those feelings no matter who you are, where you grew up, that we all feel at some point in our lives, the need to prove ourselves.


Hmm. That's deep. So that, that determination that you have that spirit of determination, you know, I'm a sales guy and I was excited to see your experience in sales and sales, operations, X at Cox communications. You actually had a pretty good run there. Tell us about your time at Cox and did your, you know, your natural determination helped to drive your experience there and what you ended up accomplishing?

Lisa: (15:53)
Yeah, absolutely. So when QA wasn't paying the bills at minimum wage testing, video games, regardless of how fun it was I kinda, I was like, let me try sales. I think I could do that. That'll help pay the rent a little bit better in Southern California. And so I got a job at Cox communications selling cable, internet, and phone. You're going to get the bundle like, Oh, you just want internet? Nope. You're getting a home phone too. Cause you need the bundle. And what was interesting is like, I, I am have this sick curiosity to not only get to know people, but like figure out how I can help to a fault actually. But the interesting thing is like, you can't fake that very well, like really wanting to know or help somebody. And the way I took the approach of sales wasn't to really like here, get everything and you need HBO and all these things and try to cram as much stuff to an, to an individuals services, just to get all the marks on my quota.

Lisa: (17:02)
And I really wanted to know, like, what do you enjoy watching? What are you doing online? Are you playing games online? Do you have kids playing games online? What's your budget look like? Let me see how I can maximize, like, look, I know where I'm not supposed to start there, but let's kind of start there and let's see what we can fit into there. And those kinds of conversations were longer. They were more meaningful. They were really fruitful. People came back to me to set up more services. And that kind of loyalty was really kind of really kind of unheard of from the people that you walk into the stores and be like, Hey, can you set up my internet? And so like everything I do, I want, I want to be passionate and maybe to go a step further, everything I do in my career I've I was automatically passionate about it.

Lisa: (17:56)
I kind of say like, I could be passionate about selling ketchup, popsicles to women and white gloves, which is my favorite Tommy boy quote, just because like, whatever it is, the excitement part is like, okay, what needs to be achieved here? And okay, this is what I have to work with. Okay. How can we achieve that? And it was so exciting to me from a quota perspective that I could just do, like tap into my natural, like curiosity and competitiveness and determination and make money off of it. That was shocking. It's like, why doesn't everyone do sales? This is so easy. And so like at that time, Cox was consolidating and my friend candy she had lived in, in Atlanta, in the corporate offices, said, Hey, we need to sell wireless service. And she saw that me and my team had the highest national sales for wireless sales.

Lisa: (18:54)
And she's like, okay, if you're able to do that here why don't you head to corporate and you'll teach the different regions on how to sell the service and how to make quality guidelines around it. So people actually want to add it and they keep it and there's retention there. And I think that was a big game changer in my career that she saw that potential in me and without any political or red tape around it, she's like, okay, you're promoted. And from then on me not having gone to college and went straight into the workforce that really set the stage for me being able to have better and better careers after that.


Hmm. So that sounds like the being outwardly focused, you know, and starting with, you know, your conversations with customers and prospective customers was turned around then.

Lisa: (19:51)
Yeah. Absolutely ended up proving some good results for you. Yeah. I mean, like you can go to your job and just like clock in and clock out. I see people do that and I don't get it. Like I don't get why people don't try to find meaning in their, in their day to day lives. And the thing is, is you really can't wait for someone else to do it for you either. I mean, it's nice when you have coworkers or your boss or someone really rooting you on and motivating you. But like ultimately if internally, you're not looking at what, what can I accomplish today? When you wake up in that morning and you have that hunger, you know, like I want to achieve something today. The one thing I'm thankful for is that somehow I was born with that and I can't imagine living life, not hungry to do something great with it with the time that have.


So obviously that, that inspiration that you have, that, that that knack for finding purpose in your work seems to be a natural inclination for you, but we're human beings, right. We go through, we go through seasons, you know, we have things that we're doing with you know, on and off the field that may impact the way that we're feeling. How do you maintain that consistent approach to your work even when you don't feel like it?

Lisa: (21:21)
Yeah, that's a great question. I mean, Carvana specifically was one of the best opportunities to grow and learn in my entire life. And now I never thought I would talk that, and this being at a startup at Chassi has stretched that concept even further. But what's interesting is with that drive, when you wake up in the morning to just like, alright, this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to tackle it even in the darkest, like hardest, most discouraging times in my career, which there's a lot, especially at the reason I mentioned Carvana is it's not to do with the company it's to do with, with being with, with the business that took off like rapid fire and all of the heavy decisions and risks and constant questioning yourself and trying to understand better, to make better decisions around that risk and trying to get buy in rapidly among a lot of people simultaneously growing sales while trying to make sure operations doesn't fall apart and playing that fragile dance back and forth.

Lisa: (22:36)
Like there's a lot of times where I put my daughter to bed and then I would go back to work and then go back to work from like seven 30 to midnight and then started all over the next day. And it never felt like it was enough that, that you got enough done and that's not, obviously that's not sustainable. But when they talk about that entrepreneurial spirit, like that's what they're like, you gotta have something that gets you to do that, at least for the times that you're needed to, when you're trying to get something off the ground. And like in the days where I just felt like I don't have anything left in me.

Lisa: (23:13)
I mean, I think I just pity myself for the drive there. And then you gotta say to yourself, like on the drive there I'd be like, I just don't have it left, but I could never stay in that mentality that long. Like there's, it's, it's the recognition that it's just not productive. That you're the more you wallow, the more unhappy you are at your job. And I had the, I had the privilege of seeing if I just kept at it and I was patient something would come of it. And I don't think a lot of young people have that yet because they went to college and there's just a different mentality in terms of time. Like they get out of college and they start in the workforce and they're so they're so ready to show off the skills that they've learned, which are most mature skills, but they don't have the business maturity yet to know how to apply those skills.

Lisa: (24:11)
And even at Carvana, like mentoring people in the call center, cause I saw some had some product ability was really strong in their problem, solving ability with strong. I'd be like, I'm going to try to see what I can do in the next six months to see if we can get a program together and see about maybe a junior product manager. And they'd be like six months. I have to wait six months to even see in my mind, like I've had, I've had to work so many jobs over the course of 15 years slowly making incremental progress, like at the latter. But, and, and it's just a different concept in time, right? And so if you have the patience to really, to really say there's things I don't know yet, that I need to learn, right. That, that helps you look at your day today and be more engaged in your day to day, then feeling entitled to what's going to come tomorrow. And looking to tomorrow, I think it's maybe the opposite of what all the songs say is like, it'll be, it'll get better tomorrow. It's like, who cares about tomorrow? Like figure out how to make it better today. And I think having that, that mentality is really what it takes to be happy in your job because you don't even know what those outcomes will be.


Yeah. Someone really wise said to me one time and it always stuck with me said, you can't think your way into better acting. You have to act your way into better thinking. And that has always stuck with me when I, when I hit a rut, you know, it's just simple action. You know, it's just getting to work and stop thinking, stop over complicating and stop living in fear and get to work and gets into action and things, things clear up pretty quickly after that.

Lisa: (26:08)
Right. And I think that's why I naturally gravitated towards product. Like the, I would say the whole troublemaker thing, I think is pretty common among product people, as well as because you, that sick curiosity, curiosity killed the cat. I really don't know where that came from from the phrase perspective. But it's that, it's that not being able to be told? No, not being able to told it's just the way it is. Like can't be told or convince yourself that this is the best it can be. Like, you just don't believe any of it and you don't follow the rules you should be following or people think you should be following. And so it's interesting. There's when you marry that, like, okay, I want to accomplish something today, but that also means isn't just doing your job the way you should be doing it. It's, it's challenging yourself to find different approaches to it.

Lisa: (27:10)
It's challenging yourself to go a little bit deeper on that issue that you don't fully understand, then the person next to you. And that, that is interesting when you do things like that, doing tasks in a way that you always do them. To me sounds like the most boring thing in the world, trying to do something in a new way, trying to see something in a new way saying, okay, this problem has been sitting in front of me for two weeks now, and I'm stuck. It's just trying to throw out all mental all mental thoughts around what you have seen. That problem have categorized that problem have studied that problem up until now, throw it away and start fresh as if you were a brand new person looking at the issue or pick someone, you know, and think about how they would look at it. And that's actually helpful. And it's amazing like how you can reenergize yourself in your work. If you're constantly challenging yourself to see it in a new way, approach the problem in a new way, form a hypothesis and see if it plays out.


So you brought up Carvana and I want to learn more about that. So Carvana it's obviously, you know, that the forefront of completely disrupting the way cars are bought and sold online. You started there as a manager of operational insights and analysis, and then ended as a product manager operations. Tell us about your time at Carvana and what challenges were you faced with solving as Carvana scaled to become a household name?

Lisa: (29:56)
Yeah, so I mean, at that point, I can't, I can't, I kind of equate it to the movie Forrest Gump, but they're like Gump go check that hole. There was, there was just these messy areas of the business when you're trying to grow that rapidly. Like people hate buying a car from a traditional dealer. And so the product really sold itself immediately. I mean, it took a little bit of steam to get that brand recognition up and for the early adopters to come out of their holes and be like, huh, I'll try this out. That's kind of cool. But once that started taking off the growth was absolutely insane. And as you know, like the car buying process, isn't just like, Oh, I bought a car online, like magically, it's going to appear on my driveway. That's working with the DMV, which is like fully paper and not digitized at all.

Lisa: (30:56)
That's underwriting and financing. That's a ton of work. It's conditioning, the cars cleaning the cars, the logistics of driving the cars across the country cause it's nationwide. There was so much dependencies between processes and operations. It's like in front of the curtain, it's like, here's your car online? And behind the scenes, it's like all the hamster wheel spinning out of control, right? And so that became a ruthless prioritization game. Like what can we do today that is going to have the maximum benefit to scale and support the, the growth of the company. And that means rapid decisions that means researching constantly on end, how things work together. If you run ads and put a bunch of subprime people into the underwriting process, that's going to take longer than if that that ratio was just pure prime customers coming through that require less work.

Lisa: (32:02)
There's so many aspects to it. That it, the one thing that I felt like I had an advantage on was like that quickly connecting the dots between if this thing fails, what else fails if this thing succeeds, what else fails if this thing succeeds? What other things succeed? And like trying to make sure that everyone's thinking about the right things and that you're not leaving a massive hole that's not being looked at. And I think I just kind of played that person that hopped around in lieu with the tiger team around. Okay, here's a problem. Let's understand it. What are the options? Low, medium, high effort on how we're going to tackle those issues and let's execute. It was a massive execution game. And then as I got better at doing that and worked with better people on the data science side, we got better and better at measuring that work to really concretely note, did it work or not?

Lisa: (33:02)
Because I know some, sometimes in businesses, people feel the need to massage the truth around, like, was this initiative successful. And honestly I could slice and dice an Excel spreadsheet and turn it into a banana bread recipe. If I wanted to, like, you can make the data, say whatever you want it to say. And where I learned a lot was working with some people in the analytics side that our only goal was to understand the truth of it. Is this, is this succeeding or is it failing? And we wanted to know that so badly that, that put ourselves in the right mindset in terms of prioritization. And it really was a team effort and less about like individual success. So


We've heard a lot about your past really interesting leading up to this point. What are you working on now? What problems are you solving? Who are you serving?

Lisa: (34:02)
Yeah, so I was connected with some mutual friends to Andrews Zwerner. Who's our CEO awesome leader, great team builder. Brought me in I think it was like 10 months ago now. Wow. if it doesn't feel like it's been that long, but what we ended up realizing is we wanted a fresh take on on a product and an underserved market that would truly help build allow people to build high performance lean teams for the small to medium businesses, because there's so little tools that help small to medium businesses, breakthrough, whatever ceiling they have and really grow to their potential. And so when we were looking at that, we're seeing the manufacturing and distribution like wholesale distribution businesses use these systems called ERP and these ERP manage their, their orders. Mostly a lot of other things as well, but we're, we're focused on is like that quote to cash process.

Lisa: (35:16)
And there's almost no visibility into the operational effort that it takes to, to digitize workflows in those systems. And if you don't know the effort it takes to do those things, it's very difficult to scale your operations. And there's a lot of parallels to where a lot of the technology built there that we use like Salesforce, we used a number of different work item, routing tools. Like none of these systems had metrics that looked at work from an employee perspective. What they did was see what work is being done from a system functionality perspective. And an example of that is like in an ERP, you create a quote and it shows in the database a single action happening, which is when you hit the button, create quote and nothing else. And what everyone knows is that someone took the time to open up that quote, start working on it, talking to the customer, building out line items, making sure X, Y, and Z fields are there before that, that create button, this hit.

Lisa: (36:35)
And none of that is captured. And that's a prime example of something very systemic with technology where the actual focus around making people successful with technology was completely lacking. And that's representative into how little visibility you have and inside of it. And so what we knew, well, we didn't know this, but we have a great engineering Wade, his name's Aaron Harrison, and he's fantastic. So I said, I wanted all these things that are happening inside these systems, and I don't want it to slow it down and I want it near to real time. And he was like that's like 60, 60 to a hundred thousand events process, like in a snap of the fingers. I'm like, I know it's like, all right, let's see what we can do. And his team got to work. And we, we went through and were like, can we do this?

Lisa: (37:32)
And we built our first prototype. We built within three months and we realized we can do this. We can collect all this information and start painting a picture of how people use systems and what that means in terms of performance, what that means in terms of business outcomes. Cause we can tie that to revenue. We can tie that to cancellations. And so that's really the focus of chassis right now, which I'm very passionate about because I know like in order for me to have been engaged in my jobs before I needed that measurement, I was competitive by nature. And I wanted to see how I was doing, how I could do better, how I compared to my peers and the concept that people are working today, endlessly, where they're just jamming work into a system and not being connected to it, not being connected to the accuracy of it, not being connected to what does this mean to the overall business and is my job meaningful and being able to answer those kinds of questions is something that makes me extremely passionate about developing this product.


Why don't you think this has, I mean, it seems like such a breakthrough, right? And this concept of, of helping break through the barriers that are preventing small and mid market companies from really maximizing their potential. And it's, it's, it's a lack of visibility into their business processes and where those processes may or may not break down and where improvements can be made to those business processes, where the bottlenecks are what, what the return or what, what's the outcome of making certain business process changes? I mean, these, this seems fundamental right. As right as you and I are talking about it and seems so critical. Why it's 2020? Why are we only talking about it now? ERP technology has been around for decades, right? Why, why, why, why is this conversation just happening now?

Lisa: (39:44)
I mean, there really is a novice advantage to a lot of this stuff. Like at some time, I mean it's, sometimes it just takes a fresh look at it. Like when I was working at Carvana, I didn't know anything about cars. Like my dad had negotiated the entire process for me because he didn't want me to be taken advantage of and knowing nothing about the auto industry or the negotiations or anything was allowed. A lot of us there to see it in a perspective that was new and different and all about experience and how it should be and not about how it was. And I think this, that same thing is with these ERP systems, we know a lot of really intelligent people that are working with these systems and other software too. Just generally speaking, it's pretty systemic and software where they're looking at it to serve a purpose.

Lisa: (40:37)
And they're not saying the purpose as also being the ability to show the, the human success of using these tools, the individual's success. And there's a little bit of that in sales, where you can track your metrics and you can see your quotas, but when it comes to operations, it's like a, it, it, it was an afterthought. It's an afterthought until it becomes critical. Right. And when it becomes critical, it's, it's too late because there's no visibility into these systems unless you've completely customized them in order to get maximum visibility, which is what the, the big mega corporations do. They do stuff like that to some degree. But for small to medium businesses, like you're completely in the dark with what's going on. And I think just looking at things from a perspective on like, how do we make people succeed with the systems versus how do we make the systems?

Lisa: (41:38)
Function are two different things. And especially when you look at like consumer driven products, like there's so many tools to see, when did you land on the website and what shirts did you click on? And did you add them to the cart or not? And how long did you spend looking at them? Like, we've put all this effort towards the consumer side as a focus around sales, but we never thought about doing that kind of tracking and visibility for employees and operations, which means you can't really improve it like that, that kind of visibility allowed for front end iterations of SAS products. And so how are you supposed to do iterations if the purpose of the iteration to improve process means, you know, if it worked or not, you, you can't, you can't know if it worked or not. Right. Which means you can't improve it.


Hmm. So do you see this as, like you talk about like these technologies that we use to measure, you know, sales activity, whether that's on the consumer side or when it's on the front end of a business from a sales and marketing side, I mean, there's a lot of technology that's built up to measure performance and you know, there, there's a lot of there's a lot of Bravo or there's a lot of emphasis put on, you know, closing deals and making sales and driving revenue. And, you know, it's almost, you know, you forget about what it actually takes to fulfill on that, right? So do you see this as being an opportunity to maybe drive the earnings and income up for people in operations, as you gain more visibility, you start to see output being tied to operational effectiveness, and then maybe reducing you maybe instead of having, you know, 15 people in the warehouse, you need 12, and now you've got more capital to pay these people more, to incent them to perform at a higher level. Do you see that as, as being a, a byproduct of, of this sort of visibility?

Lisa: (43:43)
Absolutely. So that whole goal of like driving lean high performance teams, the only way you can do that is to know what high performance looks like. And when you tie that to outcomes, you know what it's worth, it would be risky just to increase everyone's hourly without any performance metrics, because you have no visibility, there's several things wrong with that one. There's no visibility into what the ROI on that is. And two, without someone's ability to know their own performance, how are they supposed to be engaged in their job at improving it? There's no point there's no meaning to it. So actually being able to see, you know, what I'm Tom over is has 98% accuracy, which means customers get their orders fulfilled. 30% faster with, with 20% operational corrections having to go into the orders for when it's a mistake, which, which is a lower overhead.

Lisa: (44:51)
That means you can with higher confidence reward Tom, more for that work, right? If you don't have visibility into who's doing well and who's not, or what those outcomes mean for your business, you're kind of gambling on what you think the truth is. And that's a lot of pressure for an owner or an operations leader to try to feel like they're hovering over people's shoulders enough to know who's working or not. And that's just a bad situation. That's really leading to high churns and these kinds of jobs. Like you're not going to be able to retain people anymore unless they have some kind of connection to their work that's meaningful.


So you've talked about connecting the people with the systems and the tools that they're using as being sort of fundamental to how you approach creating technology or software products to solve problems. Am I correct in that? And then if I am or correct me if I'm wrong, but why, why do you believe that that's the right approach?

Lisa: (46:03)
Being connected to the work regardless of the system is pretty important?

Lisa: (46:11)
I can't, I can't imagine doing work that I didn't know was valuable or not. And, and there's that personal accountability that I think everyone does desire because if you don't have it, like where does your drive come from? Where does your motivation come from connecting people to their work? Allows them to think twice before they make a decision that could really hurt or, or really help the business. Maybe I'll pick up the phone a little more because I know this is being measured. Maybe I'll put a little bit more effort into this because I know that it's going to come up in my review. And if I keep doing this well, then I'm going to get a higher performance that I know has a reward to it. If you remove all those things, there's a natural psychology to disconnect and disengage from what you're doing.

Lisa: (47:09)
And that's the position operations workers have been across industries of not knowing what, picking up a phone for a customer and answering some questions for them. They didn't up sell anything, but what, what, how meaningful was that work, right? Someone that typed in a sales order and did it perfectly and picked up the phone and contacted someone in the warehouse to just double check, is this there or not? And, and seeing if there's anything else that they can do, if you want people to do their best, you have to let them know what their best looks like. And if you don't have that, then, then you're just speaking hypothetical so that no one can really wrap their brains around and be motivated by.


Wow. yeah, that's some exciting stuff. So you talked about it really stretching you, you were challenged and sort of pushed to to new Heights and new places and your, your, your capabilities at Carvana. And then you're saying the Chassi is even stretched out even further. Why?

Lisa: (48:18)
Yeah. So it's, it's, it's in different ways, which I love, I want, I've always wanted to feel as someone who didn't go to a traditional education route, I've always used the workplace as my educator, as my mentor. Finding mentors within all the companies I've worked at has been absolutely crucial for not only my engagement, but my growth and to anyone listening, like you have to seek that out. Like a mentor is not going to walk up to you and be like, Oh, I'm going to mentor you. Like, you have to find someone that looks like they're a master in their field and say, tell me more. I would love to know more about what you do. I would love to know more about this project. And usually people are pretty hungry to be able to share that with people that are interested in it.

Lisa: (49:06)
And so what really stretched me and Carvana, I think was pure adrenaline and drive and late nights and, and getting introduced to making risky decisions or just decisions that had big impacts if you were wrong. Right. And being comfortable with that. And then at Chassi, what's interesting is I got to make I got to spend more time really thinking more broadly about what, what impact do we want our team to make in the world? And where is that needed? And starting really, really broad and trying to narrow that down to a very specific thing that you can execute on is something that was a huge challenge, like going into Carvana. When I started there, like, Hey, we're selling cars online. There wasn't anything to figure out around that, like, that's what we were doing, starting zero to one at a startup where there's, you're at zero.

Lisa: (50:13)
And you're saying, what do we want to accomplish? Where are people underserved? What is something that we can execute on quickly and get feedback, build prototypes and iterate our way into greatness? What is that thing? And the only way, what I realized is it's, it's not my ability to do that. It's an it's bringing people together from multiple perspectives, from diverse perspectives, from diverse skillsets and, and bouncing ideas off each other in a way that's a safe place where you can mention things that you wouldn't normally mention or be nervous at, at a larger company, and really just have fun with it. Like, alright, hear me out, guys. What if in a lot of conversations start like that, but it can't stay like that forever. And you just have to tighten and tighten and tighten and tighten and tighten. And that was very difficult process, but it's, I think it's my favorite so far. I love this season of my life and having it married up to the startup world.


Hmm. So if our listeners, our subscribers want to connect with you and get involved in what you're doing, maybe they want to learn more about Chassi or just get connected. What's the best way for them to do that?

Lisa: (51:35)
Yeah. I mean, you can just hit me up at lisa@chassi.com. You can go to LinkedIn connect with me on LinkedIn, send me a message. I am always open to talk with anyone and everyone, and almost always, I learned something more from, from those people that reach out to me than probably they do for me.


That's how we met is on LinkedIn.

Lisa: (52:01)
Yep. It is. I was like, who's that cool guy in this ERP space. I need to talk to him because we want to do some cool things here. And it really was. I really cherish our partnership with stellar one. The, the interesting thing is we had met a lot of people that were service integrators in this space, coming up with technology solutions for businesses and what was clearly different with stellar one. And I don't mean, I know this isn't about stellar one, but I really want people to know, no, this was, I've already referred friends, that own businesses to them because of it is that they take a look at what your success looks like, and they build solutions around it, which is so connected with how chassis looks at issues, which is why this is a strong partnership together that we have.

Lisa: (52:57)
And so if there's anyone listening, that's wondering like who should I come to in terms of needing new meeting, new systems, system upgrades, I need a new CRM. We need to find a ways to make these processes more efficient. Stellar One has been really great with, and the customers we're working with of theirs are just rave reviewers of it. So I wanted to at least call that out here. I know you're humble. I know you guys are very humble and don't Pat yourselves on the back enough, I think for how great of a job you do, getting people up and running and one of the most complicated areas of their business.


Yeah. Well, we appreciate that. And we're, we're super excited for the future with Chassi. I think it's, you know, I've coined it. I don't know if I coined it, but I I've been saying it. I feel like it's the, it's the next frontier in business management technology. It's, it's white space and it is what it's going to do for small and mid market businesses is something very special. And you know, I'm going to go to the mountain top screaming it because. . . 

Lisa: (54:12)
No pressure.


So what's the most rewarding thing I ask this of every podcast guests. What's, what's the most rewarding thing about what you do, Lisa?

Lisa: (54:22)
The most rewarding thing is getting to know, especially about with Chassi, getting to know small and medium business owners and understanding like what made them start a business? Where are their struggles? Where do they get excited and eventually, what do they need? Like what do they need to help them? And why isn't it created yet? Like I love breaking those apart because even if chassis, isn't the, I hear so many issues that people are struggling with, which what's interesting is even if it's not Chassi through conversations and just having an external person to collaborate with around problems is so, is so helpful. For everyone that's including myself, like I reach out to friends all the time. I'm like, I'm really struggling with this problem. And I want your take on it, even though you know, nothing about it. And I think that just shows how important connectedness is and partnership is. And getting outside perspectives are to really solving problems for each other. And I really hope in the future, we find ways to build ecosystems of support like that.


Well, Lisa it's been totally awesome having you on the show. Thank you so much for joining us.

Lisa: (55:43)
It was fun. Thanks for having me, Sam.

 

If you'd like to suggest a guest, be a guest yourself, or if you have something to say, leave a comment below or send your message to StarTalks@StellarOneConsulting.com.

Kelsie Linden

Written by Kelsie Linden

Marketing Specialist at Stellar One Consulting

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