karl taylor

5 minute read

There’s about fifteen other things I need to be doing right now, but I wanted to take a few minutes to share some thoughts on three themes I’ve noticed thus far in my time bouncing around this year’s sessions of Denver Start Up Week.

One of the great features of the program offering, is that the hosting team is able to run a number of concurrent tracks focusing on different topics. The advantage of an approach like this is that it makes it a lot easier for an event to appeal to a wide number of people. This has certainly been the case, I noticed a few minutes ago that somewhere north of 12,000 people registered to attend. That’s fantastic.

The disadvantage of this sort of offering is really the same thing. The work is often thankless, which makes the hours and complexities managing a multiple venue event longer than they need to be.

It also means that more often than not, some voices go unheard, that really shouldn’t. So before letting myself get swept up in the festivities of the day, I wanted to take a moment to draw attention to a few things I think more people should be talking about.

### Why Holland & Hart Has A Taste For Stock Photos That Would Make A Grown Photographer Cry (And Probably Doesn’t Care.)

Now, I’m being a little unfair with this title. Someone’s recently put in a ton of work to redesign Holland & Hart’s web presence and the proof is in the pudding — this is a big step forward and great work.

But there are still some old assets hanging around, and as someone who works to help businesses put their best foot forward online, I’ve always been startled by it. It’s the sort of thing you’d expect a company of that size to be doing themselves.

But since the fine folks over at Holland & Hart hosted a handful of StartUp Week events, I think I figured out where the money went.

The Handiwork Of The Fine Folks At Burkett Design and The Provident Construction Company. Upon entering, I was immediately reminded of a curiosity I encountered a few years ago walking through the neighborhoods of Havana, Cuba. You’d see all sorts of facades that had chipped paint. If you got a chance to peer inside, what you’d see was immaculate. I asked a few people about this, and the reaction I always got was the same.

“What’s inside is what matters, right?”

I’ve always remembered that lesson and I think there’s powerful example here to be followed by earlier stage businesses. You can’t afford to show off everywhere, you’ve got to pick the right opportunity.

### The Need For A Next Generation Applicant Tracking System: What I Learned From The Frustrations Of The People We’re Trying To Include In Our Community.

I’ve had the privilege of attending a few track events this week, and I can’t help but be bothered at the sheer number of truly heartbreaking stories I’ve heard about people who want to work in tech being unable to navigate the channels one has to to find a job.

I’ve been on both sides of the table of this issue, and one of the tremendous problems we’ve had has been around setting up a good applicant tracking system.

There are all sorts of things somebody has to do before they can publish an open announcement. There are a number of very popular tech solutions that offer to manage resumes and help hiring managers sort through those resumes to find the candidates they should move forward to the next step of the interview.

The use of these systems is widespread, and the troubles we’ve been running into is that many of them aren’t very good. Some of the leading solutions in the current generation technologies are based on the same keyword driven search techniques that power modern search engines like Google.

The trouble is, Google is working very anxiously to enrich their data with additional context. (That’s why you’ll get different results for a search for “food near me,” than a friend or co-worker might.)

One of the rather annoying truths of conducting focused interviews is that you’ve got to learn to be very conscious of how easy it is to influence someone’s reaction.

I’m rather confident that if you collected 10 people in the same role and asked them to describe their job in a focused setting, they’d describe it in about 10 different ways.

We’ve got to learn how to get past the data on this one, and engage with people first. That’s why I think there’s a pretty good appetite out there for a new generation of applicant tracking systems. This problem is far from solved.

### My Kingdom For A Cohesive Product Marketing Launch Strategy That Actually Works.

I think we might be overthinking this, a lot.

Product teams need to have things live on platforms for a few good reasons, but the best one I’ve heard is that there’s not all that much you can do that’s useful without the audience there to interact with what you’ve built.

Marketing teams need to know when things go live on platforms because while the popular conception may be that “people find the things they like on their own because if they’re good it works,” the reality is that getting this done means interacting with the company’s audience every second of the day. Feedback happens in real-time, and while I’ve rushed out more than my fair share of work, 24 hours can’t launch a product.

There’s information that’s key to resolving these differences that’s falling right in the middle of two key roles.

…which is one of those problems that has a playbook.

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