As you may have heard, this is my last week at Lithium. Seems like only yesterday I first walked over from the Four Points in Emeryville to our little office near the Amtrak station. The 20-odd people at their desks were silent except for the furious clicking of keyboards. I think I was their first extrovert. (Phil was probably the second.) Thankfully, I was based in Chicago and only visited once a month, or I’m sure they would have had “fit” issues with me.
I’ve always said that what kept me at Lithium for 12 years was the endless stream of the world’s biggest and coolest brands coming through our doors. I knew from previous experience how rare that is, and how hard you need to work to earn it, and how satisfying it is when you do. But as I composed this note I realized that answer ignores the other side of the equation – all the great colleagues who helped, encouraged, and inspired me along the way. So, a few thank yous are in order:
To Michel, our first CEO, who hired me. And to our second CEO (and founder), Lyle, who kept that Chicago guy that Michel hired.
To Nader, my first manager at Lithium, who let me do my thing – but whose casual advice on management and business still sticks with me today.
To two front-line guys, Mark and Robb, who welcomed this outside “expert” even though he knew way less than they did.
To the moderation team Mark helped me hire, including Adam, Andy, Aubrey, Brian, Jon, Julie, Sheila, and Tashina, who taught me that leading a team can be fun, and who all went on to lead teams themselves. So proud of those guys.
To Katy, who asked me one day, “how about creating a certification course?” Eight years, nine cities, and 600+ graduates later, that was one good idea.
To Kirk, fellow hockey fan who shared good advice and his insightful perspective as a Lithium founder on our long drives down to San Jose to see the Sharks.
To our EMEA team, led by Bruno, who made us a truly international company and made me part of that journey – and to Phil, who has kept me involved til today.
To our Sales team, in particular my friends Karen, Neerav, and Greg, who by partnering with customers and selling the value, helped make our company and the whole community category larger, stronger, and more sustainable.
To Blake and Booth, who created our business value team and were amazing partners and collaborators; I’m still awed by the creativity they brought to everything they took on. As head of the business value team today, Grigor has been a great steward of what they created.
To Randy, an amazing programmer who created some of our best internal analytics tools, and who turned Booth’s and my vision for a robust benchmarking tool into a reality.
To all the consultants who do today what I used to be the only person to do, back in the day: Daniel, Eric, Jake, Jenny, Ken, Kerri, Larry, Patrick, Pete, and especially my partners in crime, Lisa and Jon. As I always said when you faced a new challenge or a tough problem: Who better than you to take this on?
To my fellow thought leaders, Michael and Dave. Michael, it was so much fun collaborating on the Community Health Index – you showed me that your algorithm could beat my intuition. Dave, my co-author on Social Customer Experience, visionary, social media guru, travel pal, drinking buddy, and all-around good guy … If I could borrow all your energy for just one day …
And finally, to our new leadership: to Pete and Katherine, who kept me engaged in conversations about our future direction and priorities, even knowing that I wasn’t going to be here to see those plans realized. As an old-timer with a lot of opinions, I really appreciated that. And especially to Mike, who I’ve had the pleasure to work closely with as he created his new CCO organization over the past six months. A true leader if there ever was one. Being part of his team, with my peers Adam, Jenn, John, Heather, Michael and Philippe, has been one of great pleasures of my working life. Couldn’t ask for a better group to finish my stint with, or to take Lithium into the future.
Apologies to anyone I missed (I’m sure there are many). Thanks and best wishes to you all!
P.S.: You probably haven’t heard the last of me. Katherine has invited me to serve as a judge for the Lithys competition this year – an honor reserved for friends and experts outside the company, which I soon will be. And Pete and Mike have both let me know they’d love to have me involved in the business in the future if I so choose (or if my wife wants to get me out of the house). In the meantime, I’m going to concentrate on sleeping, eating, and exercise, and following wherever my interests lead me. Should be fun!