As a teenager, I had one of those motivational posters on my bedroom wall. It depicted an exhausted yet satisfied-looking German Shepherd with his tongue hanging out. He was sitting on a beach in front of an ocean at sunset.
The caption on the poster was a quote by Margaret Thatcher: “Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s a day you’ve had everything to do and you’ve done it.”
This is how I’ve always strived to live my life. Never one to sit idly by and wait for a chance to do something—learn, work, solve problems, have fun—I’ve always excelled and done my best in school, work, and life when I have a ton to do and I’ve done it all. This is why I love Articulate and the culture of productivity we’ve built here.
Productivity at Articulate
We hire people who want to get stuff done and who thrive when we’re producing tangible results—be it building or testing software, designing or coding websites, interacting with our user community, or onboarding and supporting customers.
So what does productivity look like at Articulate?
Productivity here means doing what’s right for our customers, our business, and our products in the most efficient way possible. There’s no red tape to bog us down. We’re passionate about our products and our mission, and that excitement shines through in everything we produce.
In the beginning…
As Articulate’s first director of customer support and fourth employee, in 2004 I joined VP of Sales Don Freda and the two developers that our founder and CEO, Adam Schwartz, had tracked down to make his vision a reality.
“Another startup? Seriously?” my wife asked me skeptically when I told her about the opportunity. Her skepticism was well-founded since we’d just moved cross-country with our two dogs to upstate New York from San Francisco, where I’d bounced around tech and e-learning jobs, including a stint at one failed startup during the original dot-com boom of the late 1990s.
But I could sense Adam’s passion and knew Articulate was going to be different. And I was determined to work my hardest to do everything in my power to make sure this e-learning company didn’t end up in the dot-com graveyard.
In those early days, we got a crazy amount of stuff done with relatively few employees. From day one, Adam trusted me to do my job and to produce results; I’ve always been empowered to get stuff done.
For example, a month after starting my job, we launched the Word of Mouth Blog, which lives on as one of the ways we provide an informal connection with customers, as I wrote in the first post. Along with authoring the blog, I secured a dedicated web server, installed the blogging software, and set up the design.
Over the next couple years, I advocated for taking the concept of community—this connection with customers—to the next level, and in 2006 we launched our original community forums, giving our customers and staff a dynamic venue to connect directly with one another. After installing the forums software on our web server, I got to work reading and replying to nearly every post. Of course, those original forums have evolved into the wildly popular E-Learning Heroes community, which now has 300,000+ members and continues to grow rapidly.
Along with my tech support, blogging, website maintenance, newsletter writing, and forum moderation duties, I saw a need early on for us to get a good handle on our customer data. That’s why I implemented Salesforce.com to manage support cases and an ever-increasing volume of customer data. Twelve years and hundreds of thousands of records later, Salesforce.com remains an integral part of daily operations.
In 2005, productivity for our support team meant rising to the challenge of an insanely high case volume. After launching Articulate Studio 2 (Presenter 5 and Quizmaker 2), our case volume doubled from one month to the next.
Having established early on the dual tech support pillars of quality answers and timely responses, we refused to let this massive spike slow us down or affect quality. We stepped up to the challenge of supporting the overwhelming success of that 2005 release and did what we needed to do to keep customers happy. Our then-small support team dealt with a massive number of cases. The team has grown quite a bit since then to keep up with increasing case volume, but it has remained lean and effective.
A Culture of Empowerment
I share these examples not to toot my own horn but to illustrate our culture of productivity and empowerment. I’m also incredibly proud not only of what I’ve accomplished over the years, but also of the foundation I’ve helped to lay here at Articulate—a place where anyone in the company can step up with a good idea and help make it happen.
Not only does Articulate support good ideas and the empowerment of individuals to get stuff done, but it’s a company that supports and encourages career growth.
Twice in my time with Articulate I’ve had the opportunity and motivation to move into wholly new roles—first from support into sales, and then from sales into my current role as product operations manager, which is the culmination of nine years of front-line experience on which I draw to usher new web products and features to market.
Twelve years, two kids, and one new puppy later, I still wake up excited to get to work every day. I’m proud to have helped grow Articulate into the company it is today, and am psyched for our continued success.
Sure, we’ve grown substantially over the years—I now have more than 150 colleagues around the world with amazing, hard-working teams dedicated to managing all of the projects I spearheaded.
But the spirit of what we do has never wavered: We build great software, we empower our customers to create awesome e-learning, and we get stuff done.