Driving Change Episode 13 Software CEO Tom Goodmanson of Calabrio
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Tom Goodmanson is CEO of Calabrio, a customer engagement software company specializing in workforce optimization.
We took a ride with Tom to discover his thoughts on what has shaped his company and his own career. He revealed some interesting insights on what others have brought to the table, an explanation of the Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, and some sound advice for budding tech execs.
Let’s start with finding out a bit more about his role with Calabrio.
BUILDING A SOFTWARE PRODUCT COMPANY
Calabrio offers a workforce optimization suite of software, including features ranging from call recording and advanced quality management. One of their most recent offerings involves an engagement analytics suite that takes the voice of the customer and turns it into logical data. Extremely valuable, but this wasn’t always the company’s focus.
When Tom joined the company, its main focus (and revenue stream) was an agent desktop developed for Cisco. However, with that side of the business costing too much, he was soon tasked with growing a much smaller part of the company involving workforce management. They exited their contract with Cisco and went on a three-year run to develop an incredible product and haven’t looked back.
THE ROLE OF INVESTORS
The only capital they took in was on the split, but it was enough to allow them to grow comfortably. Split Rock Partners and BlueStream Ventures joined as investors, represented by Michael Gorman and Tom Erickson respectively.
So what did these partners bring to the table? Michael has decades of experience and knowledge of the space, a vast network, and knows how to grow companies. Erickson was originally an analyst and he brought that valuable knowledge with him. According to Tom, not many have studied as much as Erickson has and few are better at math. Watch the show to hear more about Goodmanson belief in math.
In short, they were both great partners and added to their success.
MAGIC QUADRANT INDUSTRY LEADERS
We asked Tom to explain a little about the famous Gartner’s Magic Quadrant in which Calabrio has recently been named a Visionary for workforce management.
“Any IT geek knows that Gartner is the gold standard when it comes to evaluating technologies.”
Their Magic Quadrant which plots ‘ability to execute’ against ‘completeness of vision’ can be fairly simply explained.
If you’re on the bottom left, you’re probably a niche player. You’re maybe missing some features and functions, but are generally small. Then you move to the right when you become more visionary. You might not be of scale yet but the things you talk about and are delivering to the marketplace are second to none.
In the upper left quadrant, your vision isn’t fully formed but you’re huge; you’re maybe cash-cowing that part of your business. Leaders are in the upper right quadrant, where your ability to execute is matching your vision. Both come together and you’re considered one of the better in the industry.
THOUGHTS ON HIRING AND CULTURE
Callabrio has been named the best place to work by the Star Tribune three times, so we were naturally curious about Tom’s insights into company culture.
“We’re only as good as the last person hired.”
As well as finding out if candidates have the smarts and capabilities for the role, Tom asks his hiring team “Do you want to go do lunch with them tomorrow?” If not, they might not be the best fit for the company. Culture, Culture, Culture.
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU DID CORRECT EARLY ON IN YOUR CAREER?
“The tangible thing I can point to is I always had my ears open.”
Tom had a great first job for KPMG, working with technology companies. He says “You can show up and do the work or you can show up and pay attention.”
He saw companies grow massively and suggests that simply being open to your surroundings and watching what’s going on can be a huge help.
25-YEAR-OLD SELF ADVICE
Do grad school. Tom wishes he got deeper into the theory of things. “I think all things are based on theory. Case studies are nice but getting down into the math of a problem is really important.”
He says he preaches to all of his kids about the importance of math. According to Tom “Math is the foundation of the world. You have to be proficient and take it where you can. It’s a basic problem-solving skill.”
“Scale. Flat out.” Tom’s vision is growth and his focus is keeping what they have that is great like culture and customer service without sacrifice as they scale. “We literally stopped last year and had a lot of town halls and discussions and actually workshops around stopping and remembering how we got here, because that’s what will help us get to the next level. As soon as you forget that and growth is your only focus, you’re kinda screwed.”
YOUR JOB ISN’T EASY, WHY DO YOU DO IT?
“I enjoy seeing tech companies grow.” Tom views his world as an eco-system where he can influence the growth of companies through various channels. He describes it as dual-edged where he’s able to help customers themselves, but also help his customers’ customers.
Tom also shares his passion for the Twin Cities and the satisfaction he gets from growing a business within the city he grew up in.
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