I started my career as a technical writer at the Nielsen Company, wrote the company’s first software manuals and training, became head trainer, then manager of the documentation and training department. From there, I moved to the Information Delivery department and started managing projects. I created Nielsen’s first PC-based charting product, its first server-based automated production system, its first eCommerce architecture, its first data warehouse product, its first web applications, and its first Java-based client server application delivered over the internet.
From there I became VP of Strategic Planning at a printer company that wanted to become an internet incubator. There I created a product roadmap for the company’s B2BXchange and other products, filled in as VP of Marketing, did investor and media roadshows, and presented to industry analysts.
Independent IT Strategist
Not long before the company failed, I left to become an independent IT strategy consultant, creating Sterling Commerce’s eCommerce strategy, doing some management consulting and creating Geneer’s wireless practice in 2000, and helping create their first online marketing campaigns, including writing white papers, and speaking at conferences.
SaaS Crowdsourcing CTO
In 2004, I joined early crowdsourcing startup Evalubase as CTO and led the conversion of their platform, integrating AJAX, which was in its infancy. I also was part of an early RFID startup, having come up with the concept of harvesting the product movement data from supply chains using the technology. I started the WiMAX Guys with a partner that same year, targeting WiFi installations in the hospitality industry as well as building and hosting websites.
IT Program Director
Anticipating that the housing bubble would burst, I joined the State of Minnesota in 2006 to run a national career information website called CareerOneStop.org. After two years of turmoil, the site was losing the support of its sponsor, the US Dept. of Labor, and needed a turnaround. Among the challenges were that most of my staff worked for a different state agency; both the staff and the technical contractor in suburban DC insisted they were in charge of the project; and all content changes on the site required developers to make edits in obsolete ASP code. In addition, the integrated job board was due to be defunded in mid-2007.
In the first six months of the job I wrote and awarded an RFP for technical services, removed all traces and connections to the job board, commissioned a risk assessment of the program, and lead a redesign of the site user experience.
The next year I procured a web content management system, which we integrated with a search engine; architected a system to replace all stored procedure/SQL queries with results from the search engine; and developed the vision for a fully-integrated object-oriented and business side staff-friendly architecture. (We received a Minnesota Tekne Award and were finalists for an American Technology Award for this effort.) Over the next six years, including an 18-month stretch in which we received only maintenance funding, I worked to realize my architecture vision.
Along the way, I obtained an average of an extra $1M a year in additional funding, including $2.5M to create mySkillsmyFuture (in six months), which was announced on Labor Day 2010 by the Secretary of Labor. My team subsequently completed four projects requested by the White House, including a dramatic overhaul of a portal in three weeks at the end of 2010.
In 2011, we created our first mobile-friendly tools. Rather than try to create apps for the 61 interactive tools on our sites, we picked the six most popular tools and, using a vendor named NetBiscuits, created mobile-friendly, web-based tools that were usable on more than 6,000 devices. In 2012, we started another redesign, this time based on responsive design—techniques that enable a web page to adapt to the user’s device so that phone, tablet, and desktop users could have the best experience with the same functionality. This effort culminated in a release in early 2015 in which much of CareerOneStop’s content pages were made responsive. In 2014, we released a hybrid app–an app available on the app stores that uses some native mobile coding and some responsive web pages to give the user a mobile experience. We also took the original six mobile apps, added one more, and converted them to responsive design.
From the beginning of my tenure, I introduced and implemented strong project management practices, adopted Microsoft’s Enterprise Project Management system (MS Project Server, SharePoint, and Project Web Access), and reorganized our development process to make it more Agile-like. We evolved a highly-efficient iterative process in which we run sprints, but use a hybrid business, functional, technical, and design requirements process. We have an almost perfect record of delivering on time, on budget, and on scope using this process. In 2015, we converted our project management system to the cloud-based Workfront system. We plan all activities on the platform, including maintenance activities, and can create detailed monthly fiscal and effort reports to track our efforts. I added social media to our marketing and outreach program and initiated efforts to improve search engine optimization including marking up pages with Schema.org schemas, making them more friendly to Google for search engine performance.
Enterprise Social Media Strategist
In 2010, after having done social media training for a year, I started Social Media Performance Group with two partners to do enterprise social media strategy consulting. In 2011, we created and ran a healthy games competition to support Boston Scientific’s sponsorship of a four-team basketball tournament in Indianapolis. I designed a healthy games-based wellness program for Boston Scientific that pitted their various offices against one another to perform healthy activities. We later proposed similar programs to the NFL, the NCAA, and several large companies.
Social Media Grant
In 2011, I wrote a proposal for the state of Minnesota to request federal funds to investigate using social media in workforce development. We were awarded the grant and proceeded to run several statewide surveys of social media usage, create more than 14 hours of social media training and YouTube videos, and produce the Minnesota Talent Network. MTN was LinkedIn on steroids, where all the state’s employers, economic developers, workforce personnel, and industry associations could create a storefront to engage with prospective talent and increase the bandwidth of the conversation, moving beyond the job req/resume paradigm. Features included real-time video interviewing, online questionnaires, friending, commenting, blogging, integrated email marketing and more. Featuring all the jobs on MinnesotaWorks.net, the state job bank which I also managed at the time, MTN enabled job seekers to show their expertise and employers to discover skills that might not appear in a seeker’s resume.
Demand-Driven Labor Marketplace Grant
In 2015, I wrote a proposal that made Minnesota one of six states awarded a four-year $6M Workforce Innovation Fund federal grant. The proposal was for building a Demand-Driven Labor Marketplace that would get information from employers about their forecasted need for workers and distribute that information confidentially to workforce personnel who could then find people who were ready-to-work or ready-to-train to fill the employer’s need. This grant was to turn MTN into a collaboration platform for all those invested in Minnesota’s prosperity to communicate their resources and their needs.
In 2015, I managed a project that culminated in the launch of Minnesota’s Real Time Talent a public-private collaborative that works to increase workforce alignment by developing tools and innovation to address labor force needs and support education and workforce systems. This effort derives labor market insights by analyzing online job banks. In collaboration with the federal General Services Administration in 2017, we developed an Alexa skill, Find Me a Job, which taps our Job Finder to provide job listings to users. In 2018, we created a website chatbot using Artificial Intelligence to help users navigate our wide and deep website. In its first year, CareerBot had 1.7 million interactions with our users.
In 2011, I wrote the Be a Person series of books–three executive editions and two 400 page reference books. These books provided the introduction, strategy, and methods by which an enterprise could start using social media to benefit their business. Starting in 2012, I wrote the Infinite Pipeline books—two editions for salespersons and sales executives. The Infinite Pipeline is a methodology for using social media for sales, known as social selling. The books include contributions from some of the world’s experts in social selling.
In 2018, I published my first novel, Misheard Lyrics: What if everything you heard was wrong? It follows the evolution of two main characters, an agnostic and a pastor, as they discuss the nature of reality and faith. Due to popular demand, I rolled out one of the characters from the novel into a book series called Jeannie in the Machine, soon to be published.