Leadership

Connecting the (success) dots

Tracey Foulkes
Written by Tracey Foulkes

Backtrack in time and you’ll start to see how all the dots connect.

It’s easy to get pigeonholed into a role, a position, a business. I totally get how my closest friends, family, my parents don’t see how the pieces fit together. A reoccurring theme over the past few weeks has nudged me to write this post. Way overdue, maybe. Perfect timing, likely.

In 2002 I left corporate retail and started my own business. This was Get Organised, my second business, this one with an idealistic vision to help people simplify. True, I started out with a brief affair with residential organising. I quickly found my words splashed in multiple glossy print magazine talking wardrobe makeovers or home office/garage/kitchen decluttering. I loved the radical change from corporate life. Briefly.

Some few months in, one residential client asked if I could apply the same skillset I used with her at home with her team at the office. Could I create training workshops on simplifying, goal setting, organising office space (physical/digital) and time management. Easy. I figuratively danced my way into business productivity and efficiency finding a niche. A new happy place where I could make a massive difference. I was blessed with a regular column in Entrepreneur magazine, wrote for Your Business, was featured on radio, interviewed on TV and eventually, invited to speak to 600 people, my first ‘gig’.

Stepping out onto that stage for the very first time was euphoric. I remember pacing the passages before hand, deep breathing (and praying); but when I stepped out, I realised I’d never felt more alive!

So I started growing the Get Organised team. Some would do residential. Some would focus on business. We offered corporate training, and I spoke. That’s when I met Claire, around 2010, in a restaurant in Cape Town.

If you ever meet Claire Burge and I together in person, I imagine you’ll laugh. Not quite Laurel and Hardy, but close. Claire is 6 foot something while I’m 5 foot nothing. Besides being tall, she’s a magnificent 17 years younger than me. She’s extrovert, I’m introvert. She’s rocket fuel, I’m straight lines. She’s visionary, I’m operational. Chalk and cheese. While our differences were (are) many, we shared a tangible passion for humans, simplification, productivity, working and living smart, education. We knew we wanted to work together, we just weren’t sure how.

So Claire flitted off to Ireland. We stayed connected. We built parallel businesses, me leaning towards productivity, Claire, to change management. We’d meet to discuss strategy, brainstorm ideas, dissect ideals, question everything. We fought heavy and hard. Challenged eachother deeply and forged a relationship of deep trust and respect. Foundations solid.

It was only mid 2015 that we figured out how to work together. That, playing as we were, would always be too small an influence left on the world. Claire, on a paper serviette, in the airplane on a flight down to South Africa to meet me for a strategy session, connected the dot we’d been looking for and sketched out the blueprint for the business we’re growing today.

At that strategy session, we looked at the influence we’d experienced to date. My focus on efficiency and hers on change, meant we’d influenced companies at three distinct levels: leadership – process/systems (technology) – people. Our vision combined into radically redesigning the future of work. To do this we’d need to build a conglomerate that would most definitely outlive us. This massive mission means we’d need to focus in (at least) three distinct areas of development;

  1. human
  2. technology
  3. space

We’d outgrown Get Organised.  This is Productivity was born.

The problem wasn’t necessarily the software, instead it was the users not adopting the software.

 

Funny how things move so quickly when the dots align. Seriously not long after we had our blueprint buckled down, that a *SaaS (software as a service) company signed our first partnership agreement. The technology change work we’d been implementing on the ground with our clients had yielded amazing client adoption rates onto the SaaS companies platform. So in the past, when a department or a company would onboard a new software, with great intentions of solving their problem, they’d download it and start playing. Quickly they’d be too busy to setup the software to best suit their needs, they’d start to feel uncomfortable and less productive; some would ditch the software and start trialling another, others would stick with it a little longer, in general though, this would lead teams to more chaos, more fragmentation and more silos. Think technology overload.

The problem wasn’t necessarily the software, instead it was the users not adopting the software.

The SaaS companies spotted a trend, their clients who were working with us adopted the software better and faster which resulting in lower churn rates for them. By us partnering with the SaaS companies, we became an outsourced onboarding company. With technology being an major influencer in the future of work, we’ve been able to start influencing our blueprint in this area. And that was 2016. Building solid partnerships with SaaS companies so we could work with thier clients to solve the problem of adoption and churn. In turn, as we’ve grown this service side of our business, we’ve been able to create a testbed for the product side of our business which we’ll be launching early next year.

So what do you do? 

Well, right now as co-founder partner and COO of This is Productivity, I am responsible for building our truly remote small team of 30, that work across 4 continents, 8 countries and I’m not even sure how many cities. We challenge everything and accept working within an ever changing environment, sometimes as many as 16 flexible hours a day, to build on our vision and leave a legacy that will continue for generations way beyond those we’ll live.

This is Productivity is on a mission to become a major influencer and conglomerate in the future of work; my role is to take our CEO Claire’s astounding vision, and translate that into a working environment in an agile, collaborative way that allows our exceptional team of humans to make a marked impact on the world of work.

I’m also, by default, the chief shit shoveler. I work broadly across the company knowing a little about a lot. I also work deeply across the company on strategy, mitigating risk and streamlining.

What does the company do? (Elevator pitch)

We’re an outsourced **CSM (customer success management) company working with SaaS companies.

In 100 years, we’ll be a future of work conglomerate influencing human – technology – space.

*SaaS: Software as a service solutions: technology companies who provide a solution through their technologies offered online vs on-premise. The user pays a monthly/annual subscription to the SaaS company for the right to use their technology.

**CSM: Customer success management: proactively building and maintaining strong client relationships through setting them up for success. If the customer is successful using your technology, they’ll want to continue using it right!

About the author

Tracey Foulkes

Tracey Foulkes

2 Comments

  • This is awesome. Really interesting to see the trajectory of your career and good to share with students who are searching for a career – the world is wide open. Keep evolving.

Leave a Comment

Download Premium Magento Themes Free | download premium wordpress themes free | giay nam dep | giay luoi nam | giay nam cong so | giay cao got nu | giay the thao nu