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Show Notes

Facilitating a digital mindset: On this week’s episode of Track Changes, Paul and Rich sit down to chat about the current job description for the Chief Digital Officer at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. We go over the demands of the job and talk about the many complexities that come with being a CDO at such a large and political organization. We also talk about why it can be difficult joining a new organization and why you might have to accept that people will hate you for a while. Sadly it’s part of the job sometimes. 

Transcript

Rich Ziade Is that the heat or is that a bird? 

Paul Ford Oh, probably both. Probably both heat and a bird. Our heat’s delivered by bird now [Rich starts to laugh, music fades in, plays alone for 19 seconds, ramps down]. Richard! 

RZ Paaaul. 

PF What do I love doing? Where do I love to go sometimes on the weekends? 

RZ To the park by yourself. 

PF No, to the park with my children but The Met Museum. 

RZ The Met Museum which is the—

PF The Metropolitan Museum of Art [music fades out]. 

RZ One of the most famous museums in the world. 

PF A year or two ago, I just decided, “You know what? I live in a city with wonderful, wonderful culture. I gotta take—I gotta get reconnected to it.” 

RZ Ok. 

PF You know, I looked at The Met online; I looked that they have an API for their collection—that’s cool! You can download the art. 

RZ Ok. 

PF And then I made sure to go there; I took my kids; I got a membership. 

RZ You’re a member!

PF I’m a member. 

RZ So you don’t have to pay fees every time you go. 

PF No, in fact, you just go in, you swipe your little card, and then you go. 

RZ Wow. 

PF Yeah, it’s nice. It’s fast with the kids. A little bit of a haul to get there from where I live in Brooklyn but it’s good. And, you know, I’ve looked at all their digital assets. I’ve downloaded the spreadsheets they make available, so on and so forth. So, I’m on LinkedIn where I go to reject people who don’t know who want to sell me services. 

[1:19]

RZ People who stretch their arms out—their hands out . . . in a sign of kindness and—

PF No! No! 

RZ—affinity and then you swat it away! 

PF You know what I love is like, “Dear Paul—”
 

RZ Do you want to make this connection?

PF Actually, let me pause really quick. Important side note: LinkedIn has skills tests now. Like how good are you at Javascript? 

RZ Really? 

PF And they’re awesome. I highly recommend them. Go poke around and find them. 

RZ Ok. 

PF I did HTML; Javascript; CSS—turns out I’m still up to speed. 

RZ Is there a test to see how well I can passive aggressively discuss with a colleague why their thing isn’t on time? 

PF No. They don’t have that yet. But that’s the true skill of management [Rich laughs]. Anyway, so, I’m on LinkedIn, and a job pops up in their. Have you—LinkedIn suggests jobs. 

RZ Absolutely. 

PF And the job is one where I have to admit like for a second I was just like, “Wow, that’s a—that’s a job.” It was the Chief Digital Officer for The Met Museum. 

RZ So by chance you saw the Chief Digital Officer job. 

PF It turns out that like three of my seven “skills” [yeah], in quotes, really align with this job. 

RZ Ok. 

PF So I was like, “Oh! What’s that like?” Cuz I love The Met. I’m like, “What is it like—” And because this is a public institution I feel comfortable talking about it. It’s a fascinating job description. 

[2:33]

RZ The description, not the job necessarily. 

PF Well I’m sure the job is gonna be really, really interesting but as you read the description, you can kind of—it’s not even read between the lines, they kept it pretty honest as to what you’re gonna be doing. 

RZ Ok. 

PF And so it’s like—

RZ Well let’s back up. I mean a Chief Digital Officer is one of those titles that got kinda jammed in between Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer. 

PF That’s right. Chief Information feels like it’s probably more in an organization that has really—like Reuters and Thompson and Westlaw. They need a CIO to think about all the data. 

RZ I think you think about tech strategically. 

PF Well a CIO is someone who is working for the CEO and making the data work better across the organization. CTO can be lots of different things but it starts at a kind of like infrastructural level. Everyone in the organization—

RZ Platform—

PF—has the tools and—

RZ And architecture. 

PF And we joke, and we’re like, “Ah, it’s about getting, ya know, email.” But it’s much more now. CDO and sort of like Chief Product Officer as well is kind of in the middle, like you said, it’s—you are—

RZ “Hey, guys!” 

PF Yeah. 

RZ You ever like been in a circle of friends at a party and that person just comes and wedges their way into the circle? 

[3:46]

PF That is the CDO. 

RZ That’s the CDO! [Laughs]

PF So, I mean, you gotta think, like, The Met is vast, right? You’ve got audience; you’ve got events [sure]—like these big institutions are half museum; half educational—

RZ Very digital. 

PF Very digital! Lots of apps. Lots of things. So there’s just an unbelievable amount of tech. So I’ll give you a few responsibilities and duties. We’re not gonna read this whole thing but there’s a few highlights—

RZ Oh, so it’s long. It’s worth noting. 

PF It’s a very long description. Look, it is—I put it up on the screen behind you. 

RZ Oh my goodness! [Paul laughing] It’s like 80 bullets. 

PF No, I know, it is a huge description. So let’s look at the general statement of responsibilities and duties. And remember [go], too, that like if you’re a not-for-profit you gotta be out there, right? So, 5,000 years of art; it’s three different museums; bah bah bah bah bah. [Reading] “The Chief Digital Officer will serve as the internal and external champion advocate and ambassador for The Met’s digital strategy and will drive innovation and new initiatives.” Ok. Connect global audience. That’s very nice. 

RZ Fine. Fine, fine, fine. 

PF Although, notice that internal/external champion is interesting. Right? Like what’s internal champion? 

RZ Convincing other groups—convincing people that don’t understand digital very well. I mean, I can help with this. I get it. You’re pitching. Cuz they’re asking you, “What do you mean you need this much money to put a thing on my phone?” 

PF Now here’s something critical: “Partnering with the Director and Deputy Director. The Digital Officer will take a leadership role in developing the vision and goals and management—managing the implementation of all digital activities, programs, and initiatives, to take The Met’s digital capability to the next level.” Now, let’s be clear: the Director of The Met Museum is a pole position in New York society. Like it is one of the most important things you can be besides the Mayor. 

[5:22]

RZ It’s just power

PF It’s just power because The Met’s board is the richest, most powerful human beings on the face of the earth. 

RZ Ok. 

PF This is a cultural hot zone. It’s very contested. There’ve been lots of books about it. This is one of the things when I got into The Met, I kinda got into the politics of The Met. The Met is like, you know, hundreds of billions of dollars [sure!] of collection—you want the people who collect art to give the art to The Met; you get, you know—

RZ Uh huh. Uh huh. 

PF Who gets to run what. 

RZ Or they get a chance to show something at The Met for a little while. 

PF Well you know where you get the power is The Met Gala, every year. 

RZ Right. 

PF When like the media just shuts down and Anna Wintour is like, “Here. There’s a theme. You’re very lucky to be here.” And we notice the celebrities but the people who are also there are like—

RZ Billionaires. 

PF Gazillionaires. Ok so all pretty straight forward, right? You’re gonna, “Lead the creation, production, presentation, and dissemination of all—” 

RZ This is all sounding pretty normal to me at this point. 

PF Ok, and then we get onto primary responsibilities and duties and, internal and external ambassador—well we already knew that. “Build relationships across The Met to create an interactive dialogue. Encourage and maximize participation and facilitate a digital mindset.” Hmm? Ok, fine. 

RZ Woooah! 

[6:31]

PF Yeah [chuckles], that is a lot, right? 

RZ Let’s read that again slowly. 

PF “Build relationships across The Met to create an interactive dialogue. Encourage and maximize participation and facilitate a digital mindset.”

RZ Ok. 

PF And let me be clear: we’re just gettin’ started. 

RZ Ok. 

PF Lemme give you another one before you even go in there. “Design the organizational structure and define the overall strategy of the digital to ensure functional alignment and the cohesive integration of a number of specialized groups.” 

RZ That’s horrible. 

PF That is—that, to me, is the red blinking caution light as to who this really needs to be. Cuz my fantasy is I go in there, right? It’s me. In my fantasy for like ten minutes. And I’m like, [in dweeby, nasally tone] “Hi guys, you have a really cool API here and what if we made it even more accessible and powered lots of apps?” 

RZ Ok. That voice is great. 

PF So, I mean, yeah, nobody wants that guy, right? What instead you need to do—and when we’re talking like “cohesive integration of a number of specialized groups,” you’re talking like the team that runs the Egypt collection. 

RZ Are you talking about managing across? 

PF It’s literally the most 720 degrees management job I think I’ve ever seen. You’re managing up, down, left, right, north, south, east, west. 

RZ Sure. No, and I think this is what we’re getting to here, and they need this skill. You have to be good at this to get anything done. 

[7:55]

PF And here’s where it gets real, right? Like this organization knows itself. It is saying, “Digital is a quarter what [sic] we do. And anyone who is gonna do this job is gonna be a person who builds consensus inside of a very large, sometimes very political, history-rich, deeply complicated organizations. And so I appreciate the other one that I wanna call out. “Ensure collaboration and partnership with technology; curatorial and conservation departments; external affairs; publications; development; membership; education and other functions; and facilitate cooperation within the digital department and across The Met for all media related projects.” Like you’re pretty good at big matrixed organizations. I’m ok. I know the culture and industry pretty well. I read this paragraph and I go, “Well, good luck to the better person than me who can actually do that.” That is hard. 

RZ This is a diplomat. 

PF Yup, that’s right. 

RZ You know when you say “Chief” fill-in-the-blank “Officer”—

PF Mm hmm. 

RZ Usually you would assume an immense amount of power, right? Like—and because you’re the Chief. I mean Chief—I don’t know where the origin comes from but it speaks for itself. 

PF Mm hmm. 

RZ You’re at the very tippity top. When you make a call, that call is going to get executed on. Like, you’ve made the call but what this thing is saying, which is it’s acknowledging something that, I think, because of our experience with non-profits, is unique to the non-prof—more unique, more pronounced than the non-profit world is that for you to get anything, you can’t just make a call. 

PF No, you’re gonna need to work—

RZ You simply can’t. 

PF There are a few things you have to do. First of all, your job here is clearly just managing meeting and setting agenda. You need a deputy who can execute and sort of run your department. 

RZ I wanna bring up something here that I’ve thought in my head and I wanna say out loud right now. 

PF Mm hmm? 

[9:44]

RZ No matter how high up you are, you are always managing up. Always. I am the co-founder of Postlight [mm hmm], we have a collaborative dynamic between you and I [mm hmm]. You’re the Chief Executive Officer. I am the President. But we work as peers on just about everything. 

PF I mean people know when they listen to this, too, that we’re very much equal and you’re operationally way more skilled than I am. And I do a lot of the growth stuff. 

RZ So I don’t have to manage up to anyone in Postlight. But! We have clients; we have stakeholders outside of this office; and I manage them. 

PF Absolutely! 

RZ I manage up. Everybody manages up. 

PF No, I do too. 

RZ This is the Chief Digital Officer of The Met. Where is up? I’ll tell you where up is! 

PF Oh, I know where up is. Go ahead. 

RZ You know where the up is, dude? It’s that nephew. That nephew that got put in there cuz he’s the nephew of the guy who made billions just selling that slug that sits in your car! And now he’s like—he’s looking for an internship. And he’s been there six years. 

PF It’s that—Do you know how many iPad apps you have to show to billionaires in this job? 

RZ Oh my God. 

PF You have to be like Mr. Bank of America. 

RZ Yeah. So—

PF Johnny Bank of America! 

RZ And the thing is—the truth is power trickles down everywhere, [mm hmm] it doesn’t trickle down just through the chiefs of an organization. It never works that way. Right? And consensus is hard to pull off. It’s political. I mean this all sounds kinda cynical but it’s just humans. 

PF No, no, this—that’s what I really. 

RZ It’s just humans! 

[11:07]

PF I gotta be clear: I love this ad because the rest of it is like, “Manage and direct staff to ensure the coordination of workflow, conduct performance reviews, and maximize—”

RZ It’s acknowledging a reality. 

PF 99% of it is like, “Here is what the job is.” And then there’s those one or two bullets where you’re like, “Huh! I wonder what it’s like to work with ‘membership; education and other functions for all media related project’?” 

RZ You know what’s interesting is sometimes you’ll see that new executive come in. It takes about 30 days. For the first 30 days, everyone reserves judgement. At least publically. They’re still taking you in. Ok? But at the—

PF Well, they’re always asking the people you used to work with, too, cuz everybody knows everybody in this world. 

RZ Yes. But at the 30, 45 day point, the organism—is it gonna reject you? If—

PF I always think of it as the liver transplant. Does your body—

RZ That’s great analogy!

PF It’s like, “We’ve done everything we can. And we brought you in. And we’re trying to lower rate of—you know, the risk of infection and organ rejection,” but at a certain they gotta sell you up and take you off the meds. 

RZ What is horrible about the corporate world is you can tell that the organism has rejected you but it could take six months. 

PF It really could. 

RZ And it’s a horrible, horrible six months. The smart ones, frankly, walk in—and that’s happened—and that does happen. They’ll walk into the CEO and say, “It’s not working here, is it? Let’s figure this out.” 

PF “Cut my head off now rather than later.” 

[12:29]

RZ It’s just a horrible, slow, grotesque death.

PF You know this is the thing is that the dynamic—maybe not for the CDO of The Met—but the dynamic of leadership is such that they hire you because you’re the person who’s willing to push past everybody not liking you on day one, cuz you’re the interloper and you’re the outsider and so on. And so like the people who are motivated to take these jobs and do really well with them and who have the track record are the ones who don’t notice—think it’s normal that everybody hates them for six months. 

RZ There’s that. A lot of the great executives know that a good percentage are gonna hate ‘em. They just—like that’s fine. That’s fine. Come to holiday party. That’s perfectly fine. 

PF Look, I think you and I—when this was a much smaller, newer organization we had these very personal relationships. Sometimes people just don’t wanna deal with their boss. 

RZ They make judgments. People make judgements [they do] because you’re in the room and the door is closed and what are you doing in there? 

PF You’re loud and brash, and I’m kinda fat and weird. You can totally see people going, “Uh—[Rich laughs] God. There they are! And they’re talkin’ on their podcast!” 

RZ Yeah, exactly. 

PF The thing I think—what’s weird is there’s a point where you just go like, “Yeah, I’m gonna keep talkin’ on my podcast.” 

RZ So, Paul, you know, I always like to turn these towards—cuz we rant and complain and mock but I always wanna turn it into some constructive advice and this is hard. I have a couple in my head. 

PF Well there’s a thing, I think, has been really fascinating for me is that I’ve been going and visiting The Met cuz I love it. So it’s truly just an unbelievable collection of artefacts. And so, what that means is you walk around and learn all the spaces in different departments of the organization. Like it’s very manifest. You can see it and feel it. And then knowing about organizations like, “Oh, wow! Look at marketing.” I get the emails. Like, I have a very good sort of truly amateur map of the place in my head [ok] and it’s fascinating to read a job description like this and sorta realize how much it maps to like the physical space. Right? Like there are different departments and different people and there’s a director above—Like if you go and walk around The Met and then you read this description, you kinda know what the job is, you’re like, “Oh wow. Your job is literally to walk all the way around. All the art and all [Rich chuckling] the people [chuckles] and say, ‘Hi,’ and know certain things.” And then also figure out ways to ship stuff and probably more importantly, figure out ways to get people to fund things digitally that will last for a long time and be pretty good. 

[14:50]

RZ How do you deal with that friction? As a leader? 

PF Which friction in particular? There’s like five kinds of friction I just described. 

RZ You need that group to buy in and they’re not buying in cuz you kinda have a feeling they just don’t like you. 

PF That used to be a much harder one for me. I’m better at it now. Here’s what’s—I mean—

RZ I have a couple of tips but I wanna hear how you deal with it. 

PF Well let’s be straight up clear: like the metric is power. Right? You need a certain amount of power to get things done or if you don’t have that power, people will shut you down. 

RZ Ok, so option one: slam it through. 

PF You could slam it through but that—a lot of times in big organizations whether they’re cultural or not, they’re gonna like draw the line, you know, people can go to the Director and say, “What is this lunatic doing?!? You know we have 180,000 years of uninterrupted history here, and then suddenly they come in and tell us that we’re moving everything to Windows XP. I mean—Woah! Slow down.” So you have to be very careful about that. The number one force is budget and money or outside support. 

RZ Ok, so, you’re saying: if we don’t do this, the donors or if you’re a commercial business, the clients—or whatever. 

PF Look, at this altitude, one of the best things you can do is like hang out for a few months, get the lay of the land, and then hopefully someone’s gonna write an article about you for The Times. 

RZ Wait, what? 

PF Try to get some lockin externally, man. Get in there so you’re like, “A New Digital Director with a Bold Vision for a Storied Institution.” Then you’re in there. If the public says that you’re cool and smart, then everyone will leave you alone. 

[16:24]

RZ So I wanna share my—I mean you pretty much said it in a roundabout way.

PF Mm hmm!

RZ But my number one trick—I wouldn’t call it a trick—It’s actually—

PF Cunning ploy! 

RZ No, it’s actually a reframing is all it is. How do I get this client or this boss or this department to do the thing that they’re digging their heels in on and don’t wanna do? 

PF Well you have to give them some motivation. Stick works. Carrot is better. 

RZ Carrot is better. I have one that’s even better than a stick or a carrot. And I say it usually this way to the product leads on different engagements and that is if you need to frame this such that if they don’t do it, it’s their failure not yours. 

PF Yeah. Let’s give an example. 

RZ They are going to look bad. 

PF Mm hmm. 

RZ “I need to move you off of Oracle. It’s not purely transactional.” 

PF “It’s costing us 700,000 dollars a year, we could get that down to like 50,000.” 

RZ And it doesn’t scale! And you’ve got a host of reasons of why people are digging in. Skillsets are better aligned, it’s theirs, it’s a decision they made. People defend their decisions, by the way. 

PF It’s not just that, too—They defend their decisions but also like someone has usually tried to fix it three or four times in the past and, for whatever reason, it didn’t work out so here we are again! 

RZ So, “You made a bad call. And now I’m gonna tell you the right one to make and you should just thank me.” It doesn’t work. Nobody wants to be told that the call that they made, ever, which at the time may have been the right call, was the wrong call. No one wants to hear that. 

[18:00]

PF This is a brutal lesson in our industry cuz our industry is filled with very smart, very self-assured people. I used to be one of them. And you go in and you’re like, “But I know I’m right.” 

RZ Yeah. 

PF “I know that I have a better answer for you.” 

RZ No, and I do appreciate that passion. I really do. And so how do I reframe it? And the way you reframe it is: “You’re going to be left with a situation on your hands. I’m long gone!” 

PF Yeah. 

RZ “That is going to be untenable, and that’s going to bring enormous pain to everyone.” 

PF “I’m gonna fix this. I hope you can get on the train. I got extra train cars on this train. To fit everybody. So I hope you can get on it.” 

RZ “It’s not for me, it’s for you.” Right? 

PF Yeah, “Cuz I know you wanna get there! You don’t wanna stand at the station while everybody else goes by.” 

RZ Correct, correct. And so what you want them to do is go home that night and think, “Ok—” 

PF “First of all, I hate that son of a bitch. I hate ‘im” That’s what they think for a minute. You gotta give ‘em that. 

RZ I’m ok with that. Yeah. 

PF You literally have to like—don’t manage around that. Let them hate you for a minute. 

RZ That’s ok. I’m—you’re trying to decouple yourself from the actual message. 

PF No, but they actually have to forgive you for existing because you represent so much annoyance in their life. [Rich laughs] For real. 

RZ That’s most of my life! 

PF No, people have to be essentially, like, “Ok, I guess they put him in because the last 17 people didn’t do the job and so this is the guy—” 

[19:20]

RZ Or whatever, like, “Why is he here?” Right? 

PF “He’s kind of a dick; he’s kind of annoying but I just need to like—I need to just get with the program probably.” Ugghhh! You know? It’s—people have to go through that. 


RZ And so, what doesn’t work as well, by the way, is if you do this, you’re gonna look really good in two years. What works way better is, “If you don’t do this—” 

PF “You’re gonna look so bad.” [Chuckles

RZ “You’re gonna look bad. I wanna minimize risk for you. I wanna make it so that you’re in a better place.” 

PF “You’re risking your career.” 

RZ And you see what’s happening now is you’re talking about them, [yeah] and their situation, and their status; and their future. 

PF Oh but if they’re in a giant, powerful org, right? It’s entirely possible for them to go back and say, “Yeah, I’ve been for years. You haven’t.” 

RZ That’s real. 

PF And so at some level you have to say, “Well, train’s leaving. And I wish you the best.” 

RZ Yeah, well, and that has happened. And that can happen. Some people dig in and they never come out, right? 

PF Well then they’re gonna retire in five to ten years and whoever inherits their role will then come knock on your day and say, “Hey! I know things weren’t so easy.” 

RZ Look, here is our reality, Paul, if everyone had it together and was making those right calls, Postlight wouldn’t exist [laughs]. 

PF No, that’s right. No one would ever hire an agency [yeah!] if you could just do it yourself. 

RZ And make all the right bets out of the gate. Right? But tech changes and there’s always gaps and then you gotta always catch up on ‘em. This is a really hard thing to do. Like, I just actually reviewed a deck with the team. And that was pretty damning. There was the findings and recommendations and the findings [Paul exhales sharply] side of it was damning. 

PF Yeah. 

[20:45]

RZ And I was like, “This is harsh, guys. We need to reframe this somehow. Like it cannot me indictment on—” 

PF You have to be really careful with a tech team presenting facts. 

RZ It’s tough! It’s tough. 

PF It’s tough because they’re facts! They’re just like, “Well, these are just facts. Why would anyone have any problem with them?” 

RZ Yeah, exactly. And the thing is it’s a big group, management’s gonna be there; there’s all these people that are gonna be there and—

PF I do think 99% of leadership is convincing people to show you their drafts. 

RZ [Laughs] That’s another thing. “Can I see it?” 

PF Yeah, yeah. Cuz they don’t wanna be babysat—

RZ No, they don’t wanna be babysat. 

PF But you’re just like, “Ok, the difference between this sentence and that sentence is I get to go on vacation if we send the second sentence.” 

RZ I think this is a page out of marketing. 

PF It is. 

RZ Like marketing is all about making the consumer feel like this is about them. 

PF Right, right. 

RZ It is always about—

PF It’s all the way back to rhetoric. 

RZ Yeah and I just saw the Ralph Lauren documentary on HBO which is lovely and very charming. He’s had a very charmed life and everybody’s very beautiful. 

[21:45]

PF Not a lot of drama or interest. 

RZ I was expecting something to shit the bed but everything just kept going smoothly and now he’s 80. 

PF It’s all floral pattern dresses. 

RZ And his wife is beautiful; his kids are well—You know what I expected for sure? One of the kids to fall into drug addiction. 

PF Well VH1 has trained you, right? Like—

RZ [Laughs] Behind the Music?

PF “Well it wasn’t all roses.” 

RZ [Laughs] But what he sold—he wasn’t actually a designer; he didn’t sit there and—he wasn’t a tailor. That wasn’t what he did. He sold like a fantasy—a fairy tale—

PF Oh like being on Long Island with a bunch of horses. 

RZ Yeah! He sold that, right? And so he was thinking about you. It’s a deeply empathetic thing. And so I think a lot of times it’s like, “Ok, it’s a battle. Street Fighter time. Get your fists up and we’re gonna figure out how we’re gonna get to the right decision.” 

PF Oh no what you wanna do is get to a place of mutual accord and love . . .

RZ Mutual accord and love where they feel like they are really the ones prevailing. That’s the hard [yeah] part. Like, if you know me, I’m pretty aggressive and kind of loud in a room but really what I’m trying to do is get you to feel like it is you who is making the right call here. 

PF Mm hmm. 

RZ And that this is best for you. And a lot of my—like sort of bluster and anxiety is actually—comes out of like, “I can’t let you do this to yourself.” [Laughs

PF I do hate to see it. I hate to see it. 

RZ [Laughs] “I’d hate to see this happen!” Right? And that’s, I think, huge here. And you know when you read a description—a job description like this, that’s what all of it is. People—I’m not good at this part of it, to this level. This is a special breed of human. 

[23:20]

PF No, this is one of the things—like I’m reading it down and going like—you know, like I said, I love The Met and I’m like, “Woo!” And then I’m like, “Oh. Wow. Ok. You gotta be good.” Museums are also hard. Like museums are really tough places. And The Met is probably one of the—it’s one of the best places to work in the world as a museum person. 

RZ You mean it’s one of the best museums in the world, right? 

PF Which means it’s tough. 

RZ Have you met those people that can just sorta glide in a room and there’s stress and anxiety and they just somehow diffuse it. And they do it smoothly and calmly and they walk out and they don’t fall apart. 

PF I have. I have. 

RZ That’s a skill. 

PF It’s really unusual. 

RZ That is a real impressive skill, to bring the temperature down, all the time. 

PF If that person can also operate and execute in any way, it’s a miracle. We’ve definitely met some where it’s just like the person’s entire job is to look and make other people feel good and all of the work happens elsewhere. 

RZ Yup. Is there training for that? It’s probably books. I don’t know. I think it’s a personality thing—is a big part of it. Especially in this world, the nonprofit world, we’ve met some people who, frankly, are doing it to help raise money, and that is an art in and of itself. A lot of the same skills and tools are there, which is “How do I get you here? To point B?” Like that’s all they’re thinking about. 

PF So look I mean I wanna be really clear: this is a tough job and congrats to The Met for accurately describing that your working on something really big and complicated. 

RZ Well, you’re managing humans. 

PF No, cuz most of these jobs don’t actually—most of these descriptions never—

RZ No, they’re idealistic. They make it sound like you’re gonna be whiteboarding. 

[24:51]

PF You’re gonna put on a black turtleneck and tell everyone what to do. 

RZ Yeah. 

PF The reality of the job is you’re gonna wear a blazer and walk from office to office and feel kinda maybe a little beat up at the end of the day. And then you have to go tell your team what to do and it probably isn’t what they really wanna do. 

RZ Well, never.

PF Yeah! 

RZ I mean never, right? 

PF No, cuz they would rather do the other thing, that’s more interesting. 

RZ Of course, of course. 

PF So, we should look at more job descriptions cuz this is the real world. 

RZ Rarely is it written like that. 

PF No, I know. 

RZ You know, the interview is really where it reveals itself. We’ve had interviews where on paper it was killer and clearly the person had the tools but you could tell personality-wise it was gonna be a tough—a tough match. 

PF Yeah. That’s real. 

RZ There’s no other way to get that. You cannot pull that up—

PF Humans have to be in a room. 

RZ Humans have to be in a room. All paths lead through other humans . . . to get to anything, right? And so you have to meet that person [music fades in] and see what it’s like. 

PF This was also a good reminder for me of like—that there’s a big world out there. Like, you know, we’ve got Postlight running pretty good. Got a lot in bound; we’re doing a lot of services, and then it’s like, “Woah! [Chuckles] That would be hard!” 

RZ Yeah. Yeah, yeah. 

PF You know I can feel pretty good about myself some days and then it’s like, “Woah!” 

RZ Well as you get bigger, too, you’re dealing with more—

PF Yeah, that’s right. 

RZ And more humans. And that makes it harder. 

PF That is exactly right. Alright, friends—

RZ Well, listen, you know who manages people exceptionally well, Paul? 

PF Oh, Postlight. 

RZ We like to partner with our clients to take them through digital transformation journey—yes, I just said that. 

PF Mm hmm. D-T—

RZ J. [Laughs]

PF Journeys. Oh God! 

RZ We design, architect, build big sprawling platforms, apps that ride along those platforms. Clients across all sorts of sectors: med tech; banking; media. We’re here in New York City, reach out to us. We love to talk to you. [email protected]

PF We love fine art. Love The Met. Good luck to everybody there. Ok, [email protected] Let’s get back to work. 

RZ Have a good week. 

PF Bye [music ramps up, plays alone for four seconds, fades out to end].