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!
Thanks for the kind note, Joe. At the end of the day, you're one of the best human beings I know. That manifested itself in 3 key ways over the years:
1. Mentor - You may be hanging up your skates, but your sage advice and key insights on how to be a good manager, businessperson, and human being live on every single day in my approach. Although those that I interact with don't know it, they're actually interacting with echos of your wisdom (and a little bit of Brian personality thrown in for effect).
2. Manager - You were always great about steering me in the correct direction, especially the times when a little extra emphasis was required. In hindsight, those are the most important lessons I ever learned and I carry them with me today. Everyone needs someone like you in their professional life.
3. Friend - Over the years our relationship evolved into one of my most prized friendships. Our shared love of sport and common sense bound us together far longer than any standard professional relationship ever could. Thanks for always being there for me.
Congratulations on an amazing career! It shouldn't be lost that the recommendations you made to customers were literally experienced by millions of community users across the world. Wild stuff when you really sit back and reflect on it.
Thanks for everything and enjoy the next season of your life - incredibly well deserved.
To be spoken of the way people speak of you is a true testament to your character. I am sure you feel humbled given that is the kind of person you are, but you have the right to feel incredibly proud. You have made a great positive and lasting impact on so many people- which is really everyone's dream- to be truly respected as a great teammate when they retire. Well done- and yes, you are always welcome at Lithium!
I heard through the grapevine (well actually from Dave who I managed to visit recently) about your pending retirement.
First of all THANK YOU! You were a great mentor not only to your colleagues but to the hundreds of customers and Community thought leaders you helped groom over the years.
So many great memories of rolling up our sleeves to achieve great things in addition to many meals and drinks to celebrate the many milestones.
I often refer to your example in my daily work and say "What would Joe have recommended?"
Enjoy the new stage of your life and stay in touch! I will certainly give you a call when coming through the Windy City.
All the best!
Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and experience with us all @JoeC. I always felt inspired and armed with more knowledge to be a better community manager (and person) after listening to you or reading your work.
I've also loved the opportunity to share a few meals with you over the years, hear your stories and swap experiences. You're a wonderful person and I trust you cherish this exciting next phase of your life, offering more time to be with the ones you love (and demolish an awful lot of books).
Please let me know if your new adventures ever bring you back to Australia.
I feel so honored and lucky that I was able to learn from you during the first Customer Success bootcamp this past April/May. Coming in from so many years on the moderation team, your reputation was well-known to me, and I would have been so sad to have missed out on such a great learning opportunity. Fortune was in my favor this year!
Enjoy this next phase of your life. I know it is well-deserved!
I am deeply saddened by your departure but wish you well, wherever your interests lead you. Lithium has some big shoes to fill. Thank you for all the insight and tips on great restaurants in the SF area. 🙂
All the best @JoeC for the future and thanks for your advices and discussions. It was always pleasure to meet you.
Thanks for all your support and insight to get the Skype Community up, running and scaled.
Best of success for your next adventure, I hope our paths cross again soon.
Wow, I am heartbroken to see you leave the Lithium Family. I remember the many face to face meetings we had, the offline discussions, you coming to Amsterdam to meet the team and do great workshops with us. I have always admired your energy. You are such a wonderful human being. Smart, kind, funny and all of that wrapped in paper of humbleness.
You to me, among everyone else, have always defined the heart of Lithium.
Lately I found myself thinking, who else will be leaving now...if only not......
Well, that day arrived. And, I am blessed that our roads have crossed. I would love to see them cross again. For now, let me wish you a lot of happiness and success in all you do. May the wind be always at your back!
A huge virtual hug.
Just noticed this...
Joe, you're a true gentleman and an inspiration. It's been an absolute pleasure to have spent time with you over the years and taken so many many learnings from you and your epic knowledge and experience in this space.
It's people like you, Michale & Dave to name a couple who have really made Lithium the product it is today and I'm truly at a loss for words about how much you will be missed, both in terms o the advice and guidance you've shared over the year but the input you have had into the product. I really do wish you all the very very best in your next adventure! I only hope our paths cross again someday.
I have to say though, I was expecting, yet hoping it wouldn't happen. I totally get that everyone moves on eventually and in this industry, it's rare for anyone to stay in the same place for a long time. But speaking simply as a customer looking in, even since the Aura and Jive purchase it appears for whatever reason "maybe completely unrelated" that so many talented people have left the business and whichever way you slice it, is a massive loss to Lithium that isn't easily replaced!
You must be a registered user to add a comment. If you've already registered, sign in. Otherwise, register and sign in.