A love letter to Koan ... aka, why I joined Koan to lead Customer Success
From customer to evangelist: meet Koan's new Director of Customer Success
Two years ago, Matt Tucker (Koan’s CEO) and I sat over a drink in Portland, Oregon. Matt had just moved me to tears. He was telling me about his new company and what problem he was trying to solve, a problem about which I am incredibly passionate. I don’t remember all of the details from that night, but again and again, I came back to two parts of our conversation:
Everyone gets a tool except leaders. Sales gets CRM tools. Engineers get to have repository hosting tools. Support gets to have ticket management tools. Project Managers get to have task management tools. But what do leaders get to help them do their job better?
Being a leader is hard. Leaders are expected to give guidance and mentorship, yet rarely receive it. And we all know what it’s like to report to a bad leader. Why couldn’t software help solve this problem? Why couldn’t software help make it easier to learn, adopt, and practice the behaviors that make truly incredible leaders?
Matt had just launched the first iteration of Koan and was looking for alpha customers. I was leading a small global support team at another software company and enthusiastically agreed to have my team participate.
The next day, like any good leader, I went into the office with a plan to launch Koan to my team. But then, the day struck. I got busy and distracted and before you know it, a few weeks had passed. With each passing day, the idea of launching Koan to my team felt bigger and more time consuming. The guilt eventually hit and finally, a few months after that fateful conversation with Matt, I took 15 minutes to launch Koan to my team. I know. I laugh about this now, too … it really did only take 15 minutes and I felt quite sheepish the next time I talked to Matt (he knew that I knew that he knew I’d spent more time stalling than launching).
At this time, my team was only 8 people. Half of my team was located in Portland and the other half located at company headquarters in Ghent, Belgium. We were instant fans of weekly reflections and goals, from the practicality of them to the ritual of pausing to share progress and plan. The team started connecting the dots quicker, seeing where to collaborate more, or who to pair up to solve a tough problem.
We found some bugs and had some moments of “wait, what?” with the product, but Matt and the entire Koan team listened. They took customer feedback seriously and worked quickly to resolve bugs that were truly show stoppers.
I couldn’t get out of my head the idea that Koan could be my ikigai (at least as summarized by Marc Winn, who created the now infamous Venn diagram you see everywhere about work purpose -- that he explained was born by him simply merging a diagram on “purpose” with Dan Buettner’s ikigai concept).
I mean, I really couldn’t get it out of my head that Koan could be my ikigai.
And so began several conversations with Matt and the rest of the team about what a world might look like where I joined Koan.
Fast forward to today, and here I am just wrapping up my first month as Koan’s Director of Customer Success. I am here to help you, our customers, fall in love with Koan the same way I did and then some. Your success is my success is Koan’s success. It is an honor to have the chance to give you, our customers, a reason to be Koan’s biggest fans and advocates. I look forward to partnering with you!
Cheers! Virginia Ulrich Koan Director of Customer Success