Another Cloud Podcast
A podcast designed to bring you stories from the smartest minds in IT, operations and business, and learn how they're using Cloud Technology to improve business and the customer experience.
Nicolas Cage and Digital Whiteboard with Jim Kalbach
with Alex McBratney and Aarde Cosseboom
Don't have time to listen? Read the full transcription.
Hello, and welcome to another cloud podcast, a podcast designed to bring you stories from the smartest minds in it, operations and business and learn how they're using cloud technology to improve business and customer experience. All right, well, welcome to another cloud podcasts with rd and myself. We are excited to have Jim callback on the on the call today on the zoom meeting, doing this podcast we're really excited to have you on the show. Jim, how you doing today? How's the weekend?
Yeah, I'm good over here. Thanks for having me really excited about the conversation we're gonna have
Welcome, Jim to the podcast. And tell us a little bit about your your title, your unique title. Chief evangelist. I love that that's that's a little bit better than what we've seen in the past. But tell us a little bit about what that title is and what your origin story is over the last couple of years.
Sure. Sure. Sure. It's It's not 100% original title. There are other folks who have that title, you can find them out on LinkedIn. Kai got a Guy Kawasaki, I meant to say it was kind of the first one that prototype that. So tech companies have had evangelists before. But my background is in in design and innovation. I worked in product teams for a very long time. And six years ago, I came to mural. And when I when I joined the company, I was actually doing webinars and writing content. And I had this kind of external voice for the company. Six years ago, I was employee number 12. So we were quite small, just trying to get our message out. But then, you know, the five or more years after that, I, I built up our customer success team, our support team and our education teams and learning teams as well, too. So I kind of got away away from that more external voice and face of the company. Even though I still continue to do that I continued to write and speak, that wasn't the core of my job. I was working with our biggest and best customers, trying to set up our customer success team and things like that. And then, you know, when the pandemic hit, it was great for us for a couple of reasons. Well, first of all, we believe we have a solution that can help folks. So having a digital whiteboard was a kind of a missing link in the collaboration toolset that allowed a lot of companies to be effective, even though they were all working from home during the pandemic. But, you know, there's no question that it was great for our business in return as well, too. So we just grew exponentially, we, you know, our employees doubled in the last year, we've like quadrupled our employees. And the number of customers has grown and usage has grown and revenue has grown. So so we're much, much, much bigger company now. And as we were kind of recalibrating my position in all of that to speaking with my CEO, we said oh, let's go back to the roots, and let him do what we originally brought him in to do, which would be that external voice, face to the company and that kind of thing. So we came up with this chief evangelist role. And I am in the marketing team, but I don't like to see that role as a traditional marketing role in terms of you know, top of funnel, and just getting as many eyeballs as we can on mural, I think about it a lot more in terms of depth, the depth of the content, the thought leadership and the depth of the relationships that I can form with customers and things like that as well, too. And there are other people at the company that do that kind of work. But I'm just kind of the center of attention for advocacy for mural from our side, right. And we also have a big network of partners and experts that work with this as well, too. So I can I can also work, you know, with our employees, our expert network with our customers, and it's really about deepening, you know, the thought leadership and what we're doing over here.
Yeah, it really is. And, you know, being that we're coming, hopefully, out of this pandemic, and we've had this last year on so much growth with a lot of tech companies that we've talked to. And I'd like to give mural a shot, you know, that just highlight what the company does is digital whiteboard, right. And I know you've got the green screen behind you, let's, let's show us a little bit of what it can do just for people out there that haven't really seen a digital whiteboard, or how, how this technology can be used for collaboration, because you're obviously using it internally. But also as for your clients, your customers. So show us a little bit about how it works, how you guys use it internally in how customers typically use it. Right. So a digital whiteboard, you know, describes it quite accurately. But you can think about it like a canvas or board or wall that you can access in the cloud. And because it's cloud based, you can access it from your browser, or we have native apps, so really easy to get into it. And the way that I like to describe the interaction is a lot like Google Maps. So you get this big map and you zoom in and out. So it's not like a document where you have a page you know, that's kind of static
You get this big surface and you can zoom in and out of it. And, and pan around. And what you can do is you can add, you know, you can add sticky notes. So I just, I just added that sticky note right there, you know, and I can type in here, hello, Alex and are in here. And I'm collaborating in the cloud right now. so that other people can collaborate here with me a lot like Google Docs, if you've ever been in the same Google Doc, and you know, you can see people typing at the same time, it's like that, but you're doing it visually. Right? So I, you know, I have these visual elements that I can add, I can even, I can even add images. For instance, if I do, let's see what I have on my desktop right now, real quick, oh, we can go in here. Yeah, I'll just, I'll just take this guy here, I can, I can add images in here as well, too. So it's not just it's you know, it's not just about, it's not just about text and sticky notes, you can actually add images and documents in here as well, too. And then once it's in the cloud, you know, folks can collaborate on it together, right. And I even have, I have this monitor over here hooked up to it, as well, too. So you know, I can, I can draw over here, and it shows up right there, automatically. And that's all through the cloud. So it really allows people to collaborate with that visual context and the visual interaction that you might have from a whiteboard, but you're doing it not only across distance, but through the cloud, so that you can have different devices, different modes of input, you know, one person can be on their mobile phone from a Starbucks, the other person's at home, and the other person's in the office with a large touchscreen device. So as we start thinking about going back to the offices, right, we need to be thinking a lot more digital and mural is that we think of it as a missing link, right? You still need zoom for your audio and your video, or WebEx or whatever you have, you still need Asana for project management, and of course, your email and slack. But when you bring mural into the into the picture, you have this really complete set of capabilities to make digital and remote collaboration. It's a different ballgame. It allows for a different type of interaction.
And obviously, during the pandemic, this has exploded, the need for this has exploded. What have you seen on the adoption side of the house? Is it it looks like it's plug and play? Pretty easy. But, you know, are people having a hard time adopting to this? Or is it a Is it a pretty easy adoption? Yeah, I mean, that adoption has, has changed, what used to be a kind of a long nose of adoption, I used to call it you know, we'd have a small team at a large company and took them, you know, months and months, and sometimes even years to get used to it and be before others adopted. Now, it's going a lot quicker. But I like to describe mural as a tool that's easy to learn, but very difficult to master.
So the basic mechanics of mural, the kind of the zoom in a pan, and you know, moving around, and I can, you know, I can zoom out here, you can see I was playing around earlier today, I'm taking some notes, but you know, the basic mechanics, okay. And you know, even this experience here, where where you know, where I can draw, where I can draw real quickly. And we've moved by the way, we have handwriting recognition, so I can convert that to actual type texts and things like that. That's all real easy. The hard part is, how that changes how teams collaborate, how facilitators have to think about workshops. And then also, you know, combine this with, with an audio and video experience. So now you're driving zoom at the same time, getting all of that to work together, and then taking your methods and recasting them for this new digital world. That's the hard part. So zoom, I mean, I mean, neural opens up a lot of possibilities as a tool, and it's easy to get into the tool itself is the impact of the tool that is really hard to master.
Yeah, that's, it's really interesting. You say that, because I'm so much so many of these sass companies, you know, in the cloud companies that we talked to, a lot of it is user adoption, right? And they're able to use, look internally at the data and see, okay, they're in the platform X amount of time. They're out of the platform in five minutes. We need to get them in there longer. How have you How are you using, like the data that's available to you mural to see, okay, like this is going well, or this is not going well, based off how users are in the platform. Right? Yeah. Yeah, it's interesting because there a lot of software is is designed for one person to use. So if you think of Microsoft Word or your email program or your calendar, mural is a collaborative tool, though it the benefit of it is that we can have a conversation. So when we when we look at when we look at adoption,
one person going into mural that can be beneficial for them and I've done a lot of my own kind of, you know, I plan out my day and that kind of thing, but it's really when there's two or more people together. So when we're looking at adoption, we're looking at all very often we use the team as the unit of analysis, not necessarily individual people. Because if we have a dozen people, and they all access it, and they're using it all the time, that's very, very different than 12 people using it at the same time, right? So we want to look at, we want to look at teams. So there's an equity in our space, there's that extra complexity of adoption of you know, first the individual has to get it quote, unquote, and then the team has to go to unquote, get it as well, too. And that's really where you get the aha moment. But that's really what we're looking at it for adoption is the team adopting, right. The other thing that's complicated about our space, too, is because we it's a blank canvas, it's literally a blank canvas, and I can put everything I want on it. Here, too. The number of use cases is exponential is like, what can you use mural for? And my answer is yes. You can think about anything that you might have, that you jot it down on a piece of paper on a sticky note on a flip chart, on a whiteboard, and beyond any of that, and all of that, and more, you can do inside of mural as well, too. So it's really thinking about, obviously brainstorming, design thinking design sessions, but everything from agile, you know, all the Agile rituals lean. But now we're starting to see like strategists and business development doing things like the business model canvas inside a mural, right, for which we actually have a template for that. So you know, it's like, okay, we want to reinvent our business model. How do you do that? Well, you can pull out this canvas right here. And get started with the business model. You know, design, right here. So I got the business model canvas now here behind me, right. So now we're starting to see executives and HR teams, and IT operations teams, and sales teams using mural to map out their their accounts and things like that. So the number of use cases is the next thing. So I get an individual to use mural, I get a team that use mural for one thing is like, okay, now, how does that team use it for five things or 10? things right, and extend their use cases? So there's, there's loops of adoption that we that we monitor, and we look at it kind of in stages or in different ways?
It seems like you have a lot of different industries that can use this. Have you seen a specific industry that that leans towards this? Is this? Or is it not even an industry, maybe it's a department within an industry, so like high tech, I can see product teams really using this, but also maybe higher education and online courses to get your degree like that can be used for education as well? What are your kind of core groups? And then what is it you work best with?
Sure. So we have a couple of core target areas. I don't know if arenas you might not call them industries, I guess they are roughly. But you know, software and tech companies is one financial service institutions, which very often have a software team kind of internal. We're often working with those themes. But then also consulting is another group of people that we look at, we recently in the past year, we ramped up our education team. So we actually have an education and nonprofit team as well, too, because we do see a lot of universities using euro as well, too. And then within those groups, the types of teams that tend to need mural the most and gravitate towards it tend to be more creative teams. So design, innovation, even things like business development, you know, anything that's kind of front end of the business cycle, the fuzzy front end of the business cycle, those teams tend to tend to gravitate towards mural more or quicker, let's say, but it doesn't exclude things like I mentioned sales teams or customer success teams as well too, that are you know, go to market, more go to market facing as well too. But it tends to be those design creative teams innovation teams lean if you think about that, running a lean project. But but then also education is another big one instruction just in general doesn't have to be like an educational institution learning and development team. We have a lot of learning and development teams that are using mural as a delivery platform for education inside of companies, but also education institutions.
Yeah, you know, it's really interesting and you talked about you know, this user adoption and having use cases and as they grow it's almost like your customer experience team. Your CSM. Yeah, are probably one of the most important parts is how do we get these clients to use it in different ways and more unique ways? Right? Really get them ingrained? And really, you know, once you're completely dropped the churn, right? Where people right? Well, we only use it for one thing and kind of tired of it and get rid of it. But the deeper that your CSM is can show like, Hey, here's how another customer uses that. Here's how someone else is using it. How do you kind of map that journey as far as like implementation to, you know, getting just rocking and rolling on the platform? Yeah, I mean, I think I think because
You know, I think you characterized it correctly, but because of the fact that we're a blank canvas, and you can do any number of things with mural, and because we can speak to so many different types of teams in different organizations, that conversation, particularly from a customer success standpoint, has to be a little bit customized. Right, that, you know, the way that you approach one company is going to be different than another company, because we're not a workflow tool. It's, we can't say, Oh, you do these five things, and you're successful, or it's sticky, right? It's, it's, it's always going to be a little bit of negotiation of, you know, the type of team, the type of company, and then also where they come in, they might come in with a really small team at first rate, right, and you have to grow, but they also might just buy a bunch of memberships upfront, as well, too. So that's all going to kind of affect the playbook from a customer success standpoint. That's it, to me, that presents a you know, decent challenge for you and your team. Because it's harder to scale. We can't just cookie cutter, they have adaptation, right? Because every customer, every client is so unique, right? There has to be more of a broader of imagine a broader approach, and then helping them just brainstorm and is that kind of how it works with exactly, exactly, yeah, I think I think we need to think about, there are common things across all of those industries and themes that I talked about. And it's looking at those things in a in a in a less context bound way, for instance, you know, like running a workshop, like, everybody runs, workshops and meetings, right? So you know, okay, how do we talk about that, so that you can approach anybody and still have a great play around workshops and meetings, the topic and the length and who's running, it might change from customer to customer, but understanding, for instance, facilitating workshops, and that's why we wrote a book a couple of years ago, called facilitating remote workshops, because that was kind of a thing that underlied a lot of what mural use was and still is, is, you know, facilitating remote workshops, right?
Let's, um, let's talk a little bit about your customer. So after you get them through the adoption, phase implementation, maybe something comes up, they need some sort of support, or they have a feature request, or whatever that is how, since they have this tool, how do they communicate with you guys? Do you guys create a community? Do you guys have a whiteboard where everyone just jumps and put stuff in, and then you guys all collaborate on a weekly or monthly basis? Or is it still traditional channels like phone, chat and email to get support, it's a lot of traditional channels a lot, a lot of phone, chat, email, but we do try to use our own our own solution in those conversations. And that's, that's a differentiator for us. And by the way, we've also seen with our consultants, that that's a differentiator for them, you know, particularly during the pandemic, that you know, their customers, when you're consulting with a client, and you bring neural into the conversation, you know, during the pandemic, for instance, that was, you know, an aha moment that elevated your status as a consultant, just right then in there, just from being able to do some of this, this type of stuff.
But, um, yeah, so we will we do try to do, for instance, a customer success play, we have around, like an account kickoff and account mapping together with the client. We do that in, in mural into Canvas, right? Yeah. So everybody's in there, which not only allows you to capture the information in a very dynamic way. But it also allows us to demo the tool, like right then and there, because those, hey, how did you do that? Okay, let me show you how I did that. Right. So you're, we're in the tool, having a conversation about the tool, but then able to show and talk about the tool, because that's what we're using as well, too. But also, because it's cloud, then next time you have that call, you have that continuity of the conversation, because where you left off is right, then it's right there. So mural is cloud based, and everything is automatically saved to the cloud. So anytime you add a sticky note, like if I double click here, and I just add the sticky note that's in the cloud, immediately, right. And it's available for anybody else to interact with. Right? So that's why when I when I go, you can see me drawing in the cloud, I drew over here on a different account that went to the cloud, and then and then got displayed over here. Right. So you have that almost instant cloud based collaboration that allows you to start and stop conversations, you just close your laptop, and you open it back up. And the conversation just continues right there. which is I think, going to be really important. When we go back to the office and people are talking about hybrid collaboration, right? They're talking about what what devices do I need? How can I How should I reconfigure my office, and I think as space, it gets reconfigured, and location where I'm collaborating from doesn't matter anymore. And also time shifts around. I think the constant is going to be digital collaboration, right? So used to think about project rooms or war rooms, right. You can think about amuro like your digital war room, but you close your laptop, you open it back up, you close it again, you open it back up, and you just continue your conversation, right? You don't have to take photos of whiteboards, you don't have to transcribe sticky notes, right? Because as soon as you pin, as soon as you pin something to the wall in an office that you know, piece of paper, it locks out anybody who's not in the office, you have the locked out of that information, right. So I think we have to kind of rethink not only our programs and our habits, but also our space, our physical spaces around us. And mural becomes a proxy for the for the project room.
Yeah. And you, you called something out that reminded me of a time when I worked for a company that was pre IPO. And we actually hired an admin to go around, and it was every 30 minutes on the 30 minutes, every whiteboard and clear the whiteboard off, because some of the stuff was, you know, Sox compliance, and like all these, like financial numbers and have a visitor come in and see that or take a take a picture. Right? It'd be detrimental. So have this in the cloud? Have it user based and permission space is really, really amazing. And, you know, you don't have to erase all that information.
You ever seen a whiteboard with that written on it? Oh, wait so many times, what's this all about? If this is important information, it shouldn't be in danger of the cleaning, crew erasing, you know, this is 2021, you know, right. We the fidelity of information needs to be greater, I think, right. And with neural, not only do I have all that portability, and shareability. But there's, there's a certain permanence, you know, and continuity from 1111 location and one team to the next. But there's also a higher fidelity of information because I can add, like I said, I can add links, images, documents, so I can actually bring things together. It's not just my scribbles with my pen, it's it's digital information that I can bring in as well, too, which I think is really important.
Yeah, imagine what the project management is just EOL is game changing, when you can bring in all those different aspects, right? Pictures files, I can see, you know, hundreds of use cases, just in many industries, that construction and all those types of things, the shift gears a little bit and kind of focus a little bit on more like on your, you know, the customer experience, and how you lead your team, like how we mentioned before that, you know, collaborating with your team showing leadership through, you know, making sense of the qualities that each person has, how do you how do you approach leadership just in general, with your team and other departments that you collaborate with? Yeah, it's, it's a great question. And it's one that we're working through in conversations with our customers, because they're thinking about that as well, too. And just to be clear, I don't need any teams anymore. So when I when I moved to this role, about six months ago, Chief evangelist role I gave up on my report, so I don't have anybody that reports to me anymore. But I had a team of about 35 people for, for the past, you know, fast past five years, I built a team of 35 people for the past five years. Yeah. And I think leadership need doesn't need to change that was a worldwide team that I formed completely remote from the beginning. So by the way, yeah, by the way, when the pandemic hit, as a company mural and kind of slid into the work from home setting fairly easily. It came very natural to us, I think. And then like I said, my, my whole team, we were remote anyway.
So that was just business as normal for most of us. But it brings up a question, it brings up questions about leadership, and styles of leadership and things like that. But I think, for me, the big key word is trust. That, you know, I had, I had people in Europe, and I had people in California, I'm here outside of New York City, you can see work happening in slack. And there's this digital peripheral vision, that's what I call it, that as a leader, I had to digital peripheral vision that you can see work happening, but it's not like walking around the office. And you know, you didn't see people typing on their computers, but you can see stuff happening. And you have to be sensitive to that, first of all, to see activity. But you also have to have a lot of trust, you have to have a lot of trust in your team, you have to you have to as a manager, you have to give a lot of trust. Right? And I found that the more trust you get, the more you get back as well too. But just just that just the mindset of leaders, I think, has fundamentally changed because of the pandemic in terms of how they're managing these days and things like trust things like inclusion of voices, diversity, empathy, humility, these, these are all things that I think that you know, modern leaders have to grapple with.
Yeah, and we mentioned when we spoke before about, you know, there's no more of this command and control mindset right in the military. Absolutely makes sense. We're talking life and death. But then the other thing that you partly kind of transitioned out into was you're a leader amongst other leaders. Right? So I thought that that just resonated with me, because that's a really unique way to look at it and like, have a unique perspective on that leadership role. Yeah, I mean, and when I, when I was hiring people, as I said, You know, I need a partner, I need a strong partner in Europe, I need a strong partner in the West Coast. So I always saw it, as you know, I was a leader amongst equal. And we were, we were working together as a team. But it actually led me to draw a different a different word chart, I once had an org chart that looked more like this, I think I was in the center. And I was basically
on the button that holds it down. But you know, this was team one, team two, team three, team four, whatever, and they overlapped with other teams. But I didn't want to draw a hierarchy, right, I didn't want to, I didn't want to show all the all the hierarchy or even me above it. So very often, I'd write myself out to the side over here, or something like that, you know, I put myself on the side or, you know, like, in this bubble diagram that I had, for my org chart, I put myself just as a key in the middle, but not necessarily higher, or lower. So and that that's, that's, that's a little bit of a gimmick. You know, over here, this is a little bit of a gimmick, but it reflects them, I think we have to think about organizations and hierarchy and in a different way, as well, too. And then when you couple this with a new attitude towards trust, new attitude towards diversity and inclusion as well, too. I think those are the harder topics. And it kind of goes back to my point before when I said, you know, mural is simple to learn, but tough to master, I think, you know, remote and distributed collaboration, or hybrid or whatever the new world is going to be that it's actually kind of easy, easy to learn. It's the mastering part, that's hard, right, because of all the much deeper changes that all the that levies on organizations, leadership is different matter of management is different. Hiring talent, attraction, and retention becomes a different thing. performance and performance reviews become different. I just read an article on the weekend. That said, people who are on site, so at headquarters or in Acts physically in the office, get more bonuses than people who are remote. Right. So there's this real potential for what I call unintended hierarchies that you have your you have your org chart, and you're in your hierarchies. But then there's this overlay of a phantom phantom power hierarchy on top of that, as well to which now that we're collaborating in all different ways remote in person mobile, across continents and time zones, you want to be you want to be kind of aware of these unintended hierarchies that could that could come up as well, too. But basically, leadership is in question. In my view management is in question in this in this new world of collaborating that we're in?
Yeah, you hit on some really good points here with trust and communication and in office. And back at one of my original companies that I worked for, I oversaw a tech support team of about 300 people. And we had found and we did a heatmap, based off of performance that certain pockets of areas on the physical floor were performing higher than others and trying to figure out why that was. And it was because the they were the team members around the leaders, like physically next to the leaders was built two things. One was, they're constantly communicating with their leader, you know, if you ever have an issue, you just turn to your left to your right, and say, Hey, well, how do you do this thing again, so there's constant communication. And then the other thing is the leaders can trust the people around them the most, because they can physically see the work and the productivity. So as we migrate into this, like futuristic collaborative work from home environment, the better that we can communicate or tool using tools like yours, communicate, can build that trust. So without that, it's really hard for us to know like is my employee doing X, Y, and Z, because maybe I don't see the digital workspace that they're working on in and out of every single day. And then we have to set up touch bases. And then we have to set up performance reviews and all these like meetings just to have meetings, and it's not really a elaborate use of time. So yeah, Talk Talk to us a little bit about Is there a next phase of your product? Like what what is the next phase? And if so, is it just building out more features so that it can be the go to place for everything? Or are you guys gonna go down a certain path and use it to, you know, help some sort of larger mission or vision?
Yeah, sure. I mean, I like to see I like to see it and kind of two halves are two sides of the same coin. The one is the software and we are a software company that that's our roots are firmly grounded in software, our business model. Pricing is around, you know, SAS, SAS software sales and that kind of thing. So we will continue to develop the software. In fact, the exponential growth that I mentioned in our employee base, a lot of that is programming and engineering. But I think it's the way that we're doing that, that that's unique. And we're really focused on what we call facilitation features. So we have a lot of features in the product that aren't just about getting content out, but also then managing the conversation on top of the content. So we have a voting feature, we have a private mode feature that allows you to kind of anonymously add, there's a timer there, you can make comments. You can you can follow people, we even have we even have some fun things like we have to celebrate feature. Have confetti come across your board, I can, I can, you know, give a thumbs up? And you know, let's see if that came up there and get one of these thumbs up in the way Yeah, that's
There you go.
Yeah, there's, there's a thumbs up feature, which is interesting, you know, you know, when you talk about, you know, your proximity issue, which is great, great example, art. Having having a tool like mural is a missing link. But it also it also gives people an additional way to express themselves that they might not have otherwise had, right. So imagine now the folks who are in person and physically close to that leader, you know, they're able to see each other's eyes and have that face to face communication. But remote folks can do something like, you know, float floating this, I can't quite see it here, in the canvas, you can put the thumbs up as well, too. Or I can add my thoughts on canvas, you know, in a sticky note. And I can be contributing here. And what we see with mural is actually sometimes an inversion of contribution, where in a physical room, the person that folded their arms and sat in the back of the room never spoke in mural, they're very vocal, as well, too. So it's a way to have a level playing field, right. And the facilitation features, talking about software, I think help facilitate those conversations and let people have a voice right out. The other side of the coin, though, is outside of the product. And this is where this goes back to my role as chief evangelist. And a lot of the work that I did with the customer success and support teams as well, too. And is that, you know, mural is software and you have to get it installed and pay for it and learn the software as well too. But there's a whole nother set of skills that you need to have in order to facilitate around methods around visualizing work, and then all of the all of the conversations that you want to structure because mural allows you to structure conversations. So we also we also have experts, we have experts on staff, we have customer success, folks who are experts, we have experts, facilitators and trainers. And then we also have partners as well, too. So we see in addition to our software, we also see an ecosystem of collaboration and facilitation that we can offer to our customers outside of the software through human capital. And we're looking at features right now, for instance, called experts on demand, where you can you can get in contact with contact with us. And we'll we'll set you up with an expert who can help you facilitate or create a canvas or whatever that is outside of the software as well, too. So I think both the software, you're gonna see that developing very rapidly and with more features, and particularly collaboration features, but I think outside of the software is where it's even more interesting.
Yeah, I like the idea of like having that ability to bring in an expert, right. And I think that's all part of the, you know, customer journey and how to get bring more value to them. I wanted to touch on the actually might parlay a little bit into the mapping experiences, which is the book you wrote about that. And how that how does that play into, you know, that the the idea that we have our customers and try to give them those experts and try and make that that experience really high touch and you know, boutique feeling. Talk a little about the mapping experiences in the book, and how that kind of parlays into you into your job today? Sure.
One of the key points that I make in the book book is called mapping experiences is that the, you know, expressing a complex problem, like customer experience, like what is a customer experience, right? It's hard to even define the word experience. But if you create a map of it, then a team can rally around that. So it becomes an artifact that gets alignment. And I would argue that the visual nature nature of experience mapping is also a critical part of that. Because I could go out and do research and talk to, you know, three dozen customers or whatever you need to do, to do the research and write a 50 page report about it. Right, but that doesn't have the same impact as mapping it out. Visually, because once you map it out visually, you have a compact and a compelling artifact that that people can approach. So it's approachable. It also sparks conversations, it allows you to see cause and effect all in one area. So you know, I talked about a lot of that in the book, as a map, a map as a as a conversation starter, it's a catalyst for a conversation, right? And it's that visual alignment, you can see the first of all, you can, you can see in the diagram, how you align the outside to the inside, but then also the team gets aligned as well, too. So there's kind of two levels of alignment. And that's really, really important to have that visual aspect. And I think that's what mural then brings to any conversation, is that alignment through a shared visual artifact as well.
I know we're coming close to time here, we usually like to end with a specific question, a little bit more whimsical, but I'll ask you maybe a different question. Because I love this technology is probably one of the most technical advanced podcasts we've had. So this is amazing. I think my question is, as you know, most of your customers and client base, what is one of the funnest or most whimsical way that someone's used your product? Is there a story behind it? And you know, is it something kind of interesting, other than it just being a mundane? meeting? Or, you know, something like that?
Yeah, I mean, there's a lot of personal uses. We've heard tons of stories, you know, people planning the wedding, I used mural to plan my move my house move, and you know, I redecorated my house on a floor plan in mural. And, you know, it was great, because it was very participatory, and my wife couldn't do it, you know, very easily, like you don't have to, you don't have to know Photoshop, or AutoCAD Who would ever to, you know, to kind of play around there. So there's lots of stories like that, vacations, you know, planning your vacation. But one thing that we recommend here at mural is to take time to connect As humans, we found during the pandemic, I do a survey every year on remote collaboration, we found during the pandemic, the number one frustration with working in remote teams, is missing the social and the personal contact with your colleagues, right. So what we like to talk about is, you know, in addition to the, to the yearly retreats, or the you know, the big all hands events, which are great, and you know, you continue to do those, but on a regular basis, like on a meeting by meeting basis, what what's the smallest thing that you can do to connect as a human being in an ongoing kind of way. And we'd like to think about a lot about warm ups, and debriefs, and, and ways that you can be fun and creative. Just as a matter of course of your work day, we have this one exercise, I have it over here. We call it you see if I can pull this out, we call it pick your neck, I'll just pull it out here onto the canvas behind me. And I'll set it up for you guys real quick. But basically, sorry, I got to extend the canvas a little bit. It's a really simple exercise. There you go. Basically, you come in here, and you pick a color. So imagine you're on a zoom call. So I have the audio and the video like this. And then everybody has access to the canvas as well too. You come in here and you pick you put your you put your name on a sticky note, that can also be your color for the rest of the meeting. By the way, if you need to color code, the rest of the conversation. And then in step two, you grab that. And you come down here and you got some Nicolas Cage characters. By way of Nic by way of Nicolas Cage characters, you just let everybody know how you're feeling today. Right? So I might, I might even put my you know, put my chip on to to square so to speak. Right. And then once the whole team does that, what you can do is rather than going around one by one and saying hello and how you feel you go around emotion by emotion, right saying, you know, I got a couple people who are unhappy, or they just launched the project, right? So adds a little bit of context as well, too. But then, you know, the BS is a popular one. By the way, when we do this, a lot of people feel like bs these days. But that allows you to have a brief conversation. You know, Alex, why do you feel like these today, right, and you're like, I just have so many of them. And that allows me to have empathy with you as well to, um, the important thing. So I think you can connect as humans and socially in this remote context with something as simple as pick your neck. But here's the thing, it's not just a gimmick, and it's not just a novelty, it actually makes for a better meeting later on. Right people have the webcams on, they're talking, they're moving around in the mural, they've just declared how they felt. So they're a little bit more vulnerable, which adds psychological safety to the group. Right now they're all a little bit more willing to share when you get to the tough, tough problems later on, and you actually get better results. So if I had an hour long meeting and I took three minutes, it only takes three minutes to do pick your neck right if I took three minutes at the top of the meeting To do pick your neck, you're going to have a better meeting. And guess what, when when, when people say, what's the thing that frustrates them most about remote collaboration, maybe it won't be social. Because you got a little bit of social aspect in here as well to love it too. And then you lead the meeting with it. And then people will be on time because they don't want to miss.
Like, they want to, they want to collaborate and hang out with their friends. So very cool. Very awesome. I love the carefree nick. I believe that's from Khan air.
Right? Yeah, these are all movies, right? Yeah, this Yeah. Over here, is that's conair. I never saw the bees movie. But then I saw a video clip of it. And it seemed ridiculous. So I was good. Actually, bees actually were. Yeah, so that's it. But we also have variations of this as well, too. So we have a montage of cat photos. And so you can you can make your you know, your own. And that's actually what we recommend, as well, too, is try some things out that work for you. And that works for your, for your team and for your culture and what what really works. But again, you know, three minute little thing like this, at the beginning has a lot of practical aspects to it gets people talking and their cameras are on and they are used to the tool. But it also opens people up socially so that you get better results from your meetings as well.
Absolutely, I think that's so great. And it's these little nuggets of, you know, ideas and what other people are doing, which is so valuable, because it's changed so much over the last year. I think people are hungry for how do we engage our team when the remote, you know, when we go back to that hybrid model, like people that are in the office have a better chance of being on network with their with their higher ups, which is you know, so it's, it's, it's a, it's gonna be a fine balance to see like how that all plays out. Okay. But, Jim, it's been an absolute pleasure having you on. And I'm glad I'm really glad you were able to show us how the platform works. Because I think for customer experience, and customer support, and all those things that we talked about on this podcast, this is a big piece of it. And being able to use that to accomplish some of these goals around customer experiences is really cool. So I appreciate you coming on. Yeah, thanks.
Thanks for having me, as always happy to talk about any of these topics and related topics. Yeah.
Yeah. And Thanks, Jim, again for for joining us on the episode today. And I'm gonna be posting a link to your book at the bottom. So everyone who's watching on the podcast, feel free to clip click that link. Very informative. Very cool, very collaborative. I love it. You know, Alex and I might have to buy one of these spaces and start, start using it for our podcasts.
Let me know if you do Aarde and Alex. Thanks for having me on the show. You got it. Thanks.
Well, that wraps up the show for today. Thanks for joining. And don't forget to join us next week as we bring another guest in to talk about the trends around cloud contact center and customer experience. Also, you can find us at Adler, advisors.com, LinkedIn, or your favorite podcast platform. We'll see you next week on another cloud podcast.