What is your position with MyCase?
I am the Vice President of Product and Design.
How did you end up working for MyCase?
MyCase was founded in San Diego, where I was born and raised, so when the General Manager put the word out that he was looking for an experienced product leader in the area, my name came up. It was actually one of my prior managers that made the introduction and from the very first conversation I felt like it was going to be a great match on both sides.
What does your job entail?
My team determines the direction that we’re going to take the product and works directly with the development teams to ensure that we’re building software that will delight our customers. We are responsible for reading all of the customer feedback, conducting user research and staying on top of industry and technology trends. But more importantly, we’re the connection between the customers and the development team so we need to really understand what our customers are trying to accomplish in order to be more successful in their practice and then make sure this insight is shared broadly throughout the organization so that it’s integral to everything that we build.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is engaging with customers, usually via email or phone calls, but also at trade shows, conferences or other customer events. There is nothing better than hearing directly from our customers about how they use the product, ways they think the product can work better, and insights about their practices in general. It’s always rewarding to reach out to a customer to share the news that some feature or capability that they’ve been asking for has been built and will be released shortly.
But the very best part of the job is receiving positive feedback about something that really blew someone away and will significantly improve their life—either by saving them time or allowing them to provide a better experiences to their clients. That’s our goal so anytime we get an indication that we were successful in doing that it’s very satisfying.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Prioritization and focus. I probably say those two words a dozen times a day to various colleagues. There are hundreds of things that we could do at any given moment but we have to figure out which is the best combination of things to execute on and in which order, relative to the development resources we have available.
We get a lot of feedback from MyCase customers—which is awesome. The fact that our customers take time out of their busy day to write suggestions via the in-product feedback link or share their ideas or challenges with our customer support agents means that they are engaged in the evolution of the product—and that we’re a team working through these things together. But the reality is that we can’t do it all—and we definitely can’t do it all today—so we have to choose wisely and then execute really well on the things that we chose. If we try to tackle 100 things, we’re guaranteed to do 100 things poorly.
Steve Jobs has a quote that I really liked about this. He said, “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.”
A lot of the investment in MyCase in the last year has been in things that are very important but not always seen by customers—things like enhanced security, scalability, and overall performance of the software. Basically we’ve been taking the product from a small start-up founded by a lawyer in his office to a legitimate competitor in the space–and one that intends to be the leader in the small and solo market. The good news is that AppFolio (which is a public company and well capitalized) is investing significantly in the MyCase business and so we’ve almost doubled the size of our customer-focused development team in the last two months—which will allow us to accelerate many of the items on our product roadmap. I think our customers are going to be very happy with the things we are able to deliver for them over the next year—and that gets me very excited.
Where are you originally from and how did you end up in San Diego?
I was born and raised in San Diego—so I’m one of the few natives in this beautiful place. I had one brief year away in Crested Butte, Colorado immediately after college and a couple of years slightly north in Los Angeles for graduate school, but other than that, I’ve lived right here in my hometown.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to read and generally have a half a dozen books stacked up on my nightstand at any given time. I like physical books—not e-books—I guess I’m old fashioned that way. And newspapers too–I love reading the actual paper on Sunday morning. I also like hot yoga and hiking and am just starting to spend more time cooking—enjoying the whole experience of planning and shopping and preparing versus just trying to put something on the table by a certain time.
Tell me about your family/pets, etc.?
I am raising two teenage daughters so that definitely keeps me on my toes and represents a large part of what I do when I’m not at work. Living a life that I’m proud of and being a good role model for them is definitely my highest priority. And I also recognize that my time with them is fleeting so I want to enjoy them as much as I can while they’re still living at home. My last child is a standard schnauzer named Justin. I inherited him from my dad and so he’s a special connection to someone who was very important and influential in my life.
Have you ever traveled outside the US? If so, what country was your favorite to visit and why?
I just traveled to Italy for the first time and it was amazing. I didn’t see Rome or Venice or Florence—although I intend to one day. Instead I spent a week in the Cinque Terre, a community of five villages that are perched on the rocky cliffs right above the water in the northwest part of the country. By spending an extended period of time there I really felt like I got to learn more about the unique attributes of that region (food, history, culture) as well as experience hiking and kayaking with the most incredible views I’ve ever seen.
Do you have a favorite saying or quote and if so, what is it and why?
“The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men.” George Eliot (who was a woman by the way) 🙂
I love this quote as a reminder to not limit ourselves or wait to start or do something until some unreachable point in the future when we’re “enough” —whether it’s smart enough, successful enough, etc. Everyone has the opportunity to have a significant impact in some way right now. Moving the world forward doesn’t require you to be perfect, but it does require you to move.
Biggest pet peeve?
Cell phones and the decline of civilization. 🙂