A.J. Workman is the Chief Revenue Officer at Blue Moon Digital, Inc. (now MERGE World), and soon to be their EVP of Growth. A majority of A.J.’s career has focused on working with forward-thinking companies to uncover hidden opportunities that position themselves to achieve long-term growth. His professional journey over the past 20 years began with product marketing then developed into building retail brick and mortar stores and enterprise software.
Whether for B2B or B2C, his experience in developing businesses in multiple industries translated well into A.J.’s current world of digital marketing because he truly understands other retail concerns that a client might have outside of the digital marketing world. Check out A.J.'s LinkedIn profile to connect.
“We're within 96% of knowing what's going to happen.” - A.J. Workman
Max Traylor: Welcome back to a cocktail episode of Beers with Max. I was telling my guest, A.J. Workman, that it's kind of a pick your own poison thing. It's been Beers with Max for six years. Cocktails with Max doesn't have the same ring to it. I've almost been convinced that Margaritas with Max might be a thing, but today it's going to be Ketel One, brought to you by Ketel One handmade Vodka, family made. I don't know how they worked that one out, and some AHA because why not when you're... Anyway, I digress.
This is what my wife drinks, A.J. She also drinks Bud Light Lime and I can't bring myself to soil my reputation with a Bud Light Lime. Please tell me you don't have a Bud Light Lime sitting right next to you. What are you drinking today?
A.J. Workman: No, I actually have a lovely local Pilsner from a brewery called 4 Noses, here in Broomfield, Colorado, and-
Max Traylor: I've been getting more, the pilsners the Couch. First it was like every IPA on the planet, these are all different. Then they all just start blending together and you start to develop a taste for the finer things in life, including beers that you can drink more than one of without feeling like you're in medical distress.
A.J. Workman: Right. Absolutely. No, I was an IPA guy for years and recently found some wonderful pilsners that are a little more on the German side, lighter, go really well when they're super cold and you could do a two or three in a sitting and not feel like you need to go to bed.
Max Traylor: Indeed, indeed. Well, we're Kindred Spirits, Kindred Spirits in that regard. What do you do professionally, A.J.?
A.J. Workman: Professionally, I am the chief revenue officer of an agency by the name of Blue Moon Digital. What that really means is I go hunting for new clients, look for new strategies to bring to those clients and then are involved when it comes to really expanding their business. It's a glorified consultant, but also a lot to do with growth, both on our side as well as with the clients.
Max Traylor: Here's an off the cuff question.
A.J. Workman: Sure.
Max Traylor: You're charged with bringing in business. The first thing you said was going out and finding that new business. Second thing you said is you're in charge of the fund strategies that you bring to those people, which there's going to be a biased question because I like to talk to people about that second part there. Are you at liberty to say if it's more one or the other or if it doesn't have to be a combination of both? Do you see people fail because they're not creating new and exciting product offerings at a time like this?
A.J. Workman: Yeah, absolutely. Growth and strategy in my mind are really joined at the hip. You can't have one without the other. If you don't have a sound strategy, especially in the times that we live in right now, and things are changing so rapidly that a strategy that may have worked for a particular client even three months ago, could potentially be outdated because things are accelerating at a rate that we've never seen.
When I talk about acceleration, it's really from the technology that is available, the consumer mindset and behaviors that have shifted dramatically, especially over the last 12 months, but we're still seeing that play out today. Then also, just from a business standpoint, if you were not agile enough to re-evaluate your current go-to market strategy and your current operational strategies, literally every 90 days, your competitors are potentially going to jump to the front of the pack.
The reason for that is that the companies that are really paying attention are iterating over and over and over and changing as things change on a month to month, quarter to quarter basis. If you're waiting to evaluate that on an annual basis, game over. It's too late and you really have to iterate much faster than that.
Max Traylor: Make it real for me.
A.J. Workman: Sure.
Max Traylor: I use words like exciting and favorite. I get it. There's a pandemic, it's a terrible time.
A.J. Workman: Sure.
Max Traylor: When I say the things that you've been most excited by and some of the innovations that have come out of these new ideas, what are some of the new strategies you've brought to the table that were like, "I'll remember that forever?"
A.J. Workman: Sure. One of the fastest growing segments and strategies we're seeing being adopted, and I have to clarify, most of our clients are direct to consumer brands, so really anybody who's either manufacturing something and selling it direct or selling it through a retailer or wholesale channel, that's really where the majority of our clients lie.
When I talk about innovation, it's things that I'm seeing that are being influenced by the end consumer itself. It could be changing how the transaction actually happens, and I'm seeing things like social commerce actually come to life. Mobile commerce has accelerated to a point that it is now a non-negotiable. If you're trying to sell anything, you need to have that transaction available on the phone and on the mobile device. There's really no option any longer. You can't say, "Well, go to my website to finish the transaction." You just lost the sale. It's that simple.
But some of the innovations I've seen are the interesting ways that SMS and text messaging are being used. Not only to tell you, we received your order is being shipped, or it's about to be delivered by Amazon or by FedEx or whomever. But even before that, so I'm starting to see things like proximity text, preempting a visit. If I'm now within a certain radius of a retail location, be it someone like a Whole Foods or be it someone like the Yeti store or things like that, I'm now getting a text that says, "Hey, you're in the area. Here's what we have going on today. Here's an offer. Here's a special. Here's something that you can only get in the next 24 hours."
It's really cross-referencing my geolocation with my behavior and my preferences that I've set up because of the things I've done online or the loyalty programs I've joined, things like that. Now it's preempting me to think, "I'm only a half mile away from that location. Why don't I pop in and see what's new?" That's one of the things that has changed pretty dramatically. In addition to the use of a video, and it's no longer, can I get a 30-second or a 60-second reel, it's can I get a five-second reel that will draw someone in?
We see it with the use of TikTok. We see it with micro video sites. We see it with all sorts of different ways that video is now being used because the technology backbone is there. It's not something you have to be on a high speed line anymore. All the mobile devices, all the phones, all these things now support high definition video and we're able to really leverage that in a way that we couldn't have, frankly even a year ago.
It was always, if I show this view on their mobile device, is it too heavy? Is it going to bog it down? Is it going to be jittery? Is it going to glitch, things like that. The changes in the backbone and the speeds with the proliferation of 4G and now 5G have really changed that game pretty dramatically.
Max Traylor: With all that, a lot of data floating around.
A.J. Workman: Lots of data.
Max Traylor: Like a lot more. There was a lot before.
A.J. Workman: Yes.
Max Traylor: But especially when you start talking about new channels of transaction. Let alone location data and things like that. I'm aware that as a consultancy-
A.J. Workman: Yes.
Max Traylor: ... you position yourself to be data-driven. Analytics, predictive and things like that. I happen to have a fun relationship with predictive analytics. I got into it a little bit too early and for every really successful business owner, you've got failures. Anyway, so I got to believe that we're in a spot today where we can finally take advantage of some predictive capabilities. As a CRO, what is your approach to leveraging data, to inform a lot of the strategic work that you do?
A.J. Workman: Well Max, you're right, there's so much data available now. And it's not just transaction data. It's behavioral data that's leading up to that transaction. What I mean by that is there are ways that I can now see that this group or this cohort of consumers has interacted with us at all of these different points. Whether it's on a mobile site, whether it's on an ad, whether it's on an email, whether it's on the actual E-commerce engine itself.
Now I can tie all of this back together to really predict some of the behaviors. What we've been able to do is with this data, develop a few models that do a number of different things. But one of the most impactful things we've seen is, I can now predict a client's revenue with an R square of somewhere above 96%, that allows me to really pinpoint what the revenue is going to be 30 days out, 90 days out, even six months out.
What that does, that changes the game from a client perspective. Think of the conversations that happen between the finance team, the marketing team and the merchandising team. Finance team will come to you and say, "Great. That was your growth last year. Let's add 35% to it, just as a goal and see if we can beat it." Across the board every month. Pretty typical conversation.
Instead now we're arming our marketing teams and our E-commerce teams to say, "Okay, I see your 35% goal. Based on the predictive algorithm I have now, I think in months one and two, I can hit it. In month three we're going to be a little bit below because of seasonality or because of something that's happened or something, or you've reduced my ability to spend, so you've taken my marketing budget down, therefore I'm predicting I'm going to come in low."
At that point it creates a conversation. Finance guys don't want the business to lose money or come in below goal. But at the same time, they don't want to spend money just to spend money. Now I can say as a marketing team, look, you want me to hit this benchmark 35% year over year, month over month from last year. I need to have this many advertising dollars or this kind of a marketing plan in order to hit that, and let's have a conversation about that. Let's have it not just once a year but let's have it every 90 days.
Because if I can predict what my revenue is going to be, then I can plan or shift if something happens in that 90 days. We have a strong competitor that comes in and blasts the market with all sorts of advertising. Which we're seeing a lot right now because many brands are sitting on quite a kitty of cash because they didn't spend a lot last year. There wasn't a lot to spend on, frankly.
Now, they're fueling it and we're seeing competitive pressures and competitive fights going on in particular markets. Now this conversation can happen with some real data and analytics behind it versus, the finance guy has been here 10 years, the marketing guy has been here 15 years. Their gut feeling who's going to win. That totally goes away. Now we can have a logical conversation with some predictive modeling behind it to really understand what's possible on a quarter to quarter, month to month basis.
Max Traylor: Are you light years ahead because you've hired some PhDs or do you feel like this is going to be the norm in one, two, three years? Is every agency out there going, "Come on board, analytics team, and bring your predictive capabilities." How protected is this positioning you got going here?
A.J. Workman: It's fairly unique because we do have marketing data scientists. We have two of them on staff. One is a full PhD who has multiple degrees and started his doctorate in statistics and regression analysis, but then backs that up with a master's in chemistry, an MBA and he's just this jack of all trades at the master's degree or PhD level and above. He actually has developed these algorithms to help us predict what's going on from a revenue perspective.
Max Traylor: So you need somebody to actually build intellectual property, defensible new stuff on the algorithm side?
A.J. Workman: Yeah. It's two algorithms behind that predicted model that allow us to predict 30 days, 90 days, even a year out, depending on how much historical data we have and what the behaviors coming in are. It's an algorithm that learns over time, so some folks have challenged us and said, "Well, did the pandemic just completely blow apart your algorithm?" The answer was, yeah it did for a little while. But now that we've come out and we're starting to see consumer behavior normalized and spending come up, the algorithm has adjusted and now we're right back at that really, really high R square factor of 96 to 97.
Max Traylor: You're also in a position to say, "Hey, we were one of the only folks that had this thing running when there was a gigantic change in consumer behavior." Which will happen again, and so theoretically you'll be competing against people that have data and algorithms for a period of consistent behavior. Whereas you can come in and say, "Hey, we know what it's like when shit hits the fan and we're prepared for it."
A.J. Workman: Yeah. That's exactly what we've done with the next iteration. We started with predicting revenue at a total top-line level. But now we've broken it down by channel. By channel I mean as a digital consultancy, I can now predict, what is your email channel going to do? What is your paid search channel going to do? What is your display advertising going to do? What's your affiliate program going to do?
And on down the line, so now I can peel apart that top-line to say, okay, everything seems to be on track this month, or but email's a little off. What's going on there? Now let's dig in and see why that prediction is a little bit unstable or a little bit unpredictable as the case may be.
Max Traylor: It's partly getting marketing on the offense from a financial conversation.
A.J. Workman: Yes.
Max Traylor: Typically they have reacted to a budget that they were given and sometimes they do impressive things and sometimes they don't. But this actually gives them the power to say, here's what I was thinking. Then secondly, of course it gives you warning signals to guide course corrections. Hey, it doesn't look like we're going to make numbers because of some unforeseen stuff, and thus we have to react to it.
Back to your point, people have to be really agile. It's not simply that we have secured a larger budget. Great, go do it. It's that I can't really tell you what we're going to be doing at this particular time with our full-time employees and with our contractors, but you have to buy into this system of change and prediction and data-driven stuff.
A.J. Workman: Absolutely. No, it changes... Think of it this way. It takes the uncertainty out of your decision-making. Now you have a true guidepost that's saying, this is where the revenue is going to come in. It's either above plan or below plan. To your point, if we see something off 90 days out, I have a short runway but I still have a runway I can react to. And I can either increase advertising in certain channels.
Maybe it's a merchandising issue. Maybe I'm running low on my most popular products and that's what's causing the demand issue. Or to my point earlier, maybe you have a competitor that's come into the market that is really throwing a bunch of air cover down from a media perspective and changing your top of mind awareness with some of your core consumers.
But 90 days out, most companies we work with, if I can say that for down the road, I can now change my insertion orders, my media placement, still a little bit tough to change outdoor advertising within a 90-day window, but I can certainly switch out my television ads, my radio ads, things like that because I can see something is out of whack. Now I have the ability to react, looking out the front windshield versus the rear view mirror, which we've all been marketing and building plans for for the bulk of my career in the last 25 years. It's always been rear facing and rear view mirror analysis, versus let's look ahead. Now I have something of an indicator I can react to as I build my plans and really allocate my dollars.
Max Traylor: Amen to that. Well said. Well hey, following the rabbit hole here, you've got the crystal ball. It sounds like the thing that will screw this up is culture, decision-making process. Like culture change in these clients and getting them to really buy into the idea that a crystal ball exists, and that you're going to have to do some things differently. As a consultancy, are you interested, are you positioned to jump that fence and have some executive targeted cultural change, strategic decision-making services or are you going to handle that through partnerships? How are you handling that side?
A.J. Workman: That's a good question. There's a fundamental mind shift that has to happen. Because as I mentioned, we've all been analyzing past data to understand what's happening today. Now we're totally shifting that dynamic to say, "Let's trust what the data is doing and the algorithm, and look ahead. Let's look to growth." That's a very different mindset for a lot of these folks who have been in these executive roles for even five years.
They're always used to, the finance guy's bring me this report, or the merchandiser's bring me this report. Now I'm going to react to it. Instead, they're in the driver's seat and they're able to see far enough ahead to turn around and say to the merchandiser, something's not right coming up in the next 90 days. Are we all set for these particular products? Another piece of that model is a true real time merchandise predictor almost, that says... I say almost because it's still built on what's going on from a true point of sale perspective.
Things like, questions we get all the time is, that's great if the revenue is going to hit that, but do I have enough product to actually hit that revenue? Do I have the right product mix to hit that revenue? Do I have the right marketing mix or media mix to hit that revenue? There's all sorts of other questions that start to come up. We actually have done, I don't want to call it a one-on-one course, but let's call it a 401 graduate course for these executives to change their mindset to understand, what is this data science stuff? What are these predicted models? How does that make me a more accurate decision maker for the business, and why should I trust it?
There's a little bit of a ramp up that has to happen. Frankly, we turn these algorithms on for 90 days to sometimes six months, and we do a bake-off. We're like, "Okay, we'll take your finance plan. We'll take our prediction and let's run it side by side. And every two months let's have a meeting and say, where'd you end up? Here's what the algorithm said. How close are we?"
It's pretty amazing, after about the third meeting they're like, "Okay, you guys clearly have this predictive thing right because we're either right on the money or they were off, and we were closer to the actual result." Then that just builds their trust. It's a try before you buy, if you will, and along the way we're educating them really how to use this predictive science to change their decision. Not just the process, but the fundamental ideals that they use to make decisions on need to go away and they need to trust in that data science and that predictive algorithm.
Max Traylor: Someone told me once that being right is insufficient for being effective, so a side question I have is, how does this go down? On one hand you could really piss some people off. Executives and these folks hate, hate to be proven wrong and they don't want to do things differently, quite frankly. They're set, they've got a little countdown going for retirement. Now you actually have to drive. They've been in the backseat having cocktails the whole ride.
A.J. Workman: That's right.
Max Traylor: Is it purely a mindset thing and you get some bad cats and you get some forward-thinkers or have you seen a trend of, it always pissed people off or... What's people's reaction to having to do things differently and to be proven wrong?
A.J. Workman: Well, it depends on who you're dealing with. If someone is a few months or even six months towards retirement, they don't want to see this. They want nothing to do with it. But if you've got somebody, the newer position of a chief digital officer, they're the ones that want to see this. They want to understand, how can I fundamentally change how this business is using data and employing data to make decisions?
Max Traylor: They're looking to make their mark-
A.J. Workman: They're looking to make their mark.
Max Traylor: ... rather than continue to ride their mark.
A.J. Workman: Right. Then we also see it in businesses that are super hyper reactive. If you think about a mid size brand going into, that banks 50 to 60% of their revenue in the fall to holiday season, if I can smooth out that roller coaster ride in any way, shape or form, they're all in. Because they're working 24/7 from about Halloween through January 15th. And they would love to be able to have some predictability or at least some foresight into what's going on.
In those cases we've actually taken it down to, we don't predict by the hour but we can pull real time data to feed the algorithm on an hourly basis in those cases. It really helps them understand what's going on in the heat of the moment. But again, it's got to be someone on that team that is looking to drive and looking to be, not just accurate, but to fundamentally steer that ship through whatever the growth and the changes that are out there.
There're some folks, they don't want their dirty laundry exposed. They just don't. They've been doing this for 25 years. They've got their method. They understand what's going on. And it's a new tool in some ways, but it's so grounded in very understood sciences and mathematics. That's where the finance folks frankly turn onto it more often than not. Because they're like, "Wait a minute. I do all of this finance work and all these mathematics to help me get to where I am, and I'm still 30 days behind at best. But if you can jump ahead and show me what might happen, then I can react and then I can do different things."
So you're right, there is a mindset shift that has to happen as well as an acceptance that this is where the best companies are going. They're starting to lean on this data science, not just to understand what's happening but really to predict what's possible in future.
Max Traylor: This is an ice cube for those of you listening. Yes, A.J. All that stuff. As a service guy, this kind of innovation has fueled my entire career. First it was MarTech that got me into doing the service stuff, because you realize that, there's going to be some people that can buy some low ticket, high volume training, the 401, of course to train the next generation of ship sailors or whatever your analogy was.
A.J. Workman: Sure.
Max Traylor: A lot of opportunity to train people. But there also comes a lot of opportunity where clients just turn around and say, "Hey, can we just pay you a lot of money to interpret this stuff and help us make decisions?" I'm excited about the products and the capabilities that you have. What are you creating or have already created on the services side to compliment this stuff?
A.J. Workman: Sure. We call it, it's a combination of insights and analytics, is really the service that we're calling it. What that means is it's a coupling of someone on our analytics team, in our data science team, coupled with that account director, who's very familiar with what's happening, deeply in that business on a day-to-day basis.
You bring those two together, someone who's looking at the numbers, looking at what the predictive analysis is saying, making sure all the data going into that engine is clean, and providing you accurate information. Combined with someone who understands the struggles, what's going on on a day-to-day basis, any operational challenges, any merchandising challenges, any marketing challenges.
You bring those two together and you have quite a team that frankly is very hard to find and who can work very closely together to help that client understand what those decisions should be, what the outcomes or impacts of the decision will be on the business, and then the operations person can push back and say, "Okay, that decision might be a little too far ahead from where they are operationally. Let's back it up a step or two."
The analogy of the crawl, walk, run is this decision, skipping the walk and jumping right to the run, or can we iterate to get there over time? That's the balance we bring together with insights and analytics service that's wrapped around the predictive model itself.
Max Traylor: How do you deliver it then? On one hand, organizations have some planning process. Some get very aggressive on an annual basis, some quarterly, EOS, Entrepreneurial Operating System has taken off so everyone's got their rocks. A bunch of degenerates out there. But yet you've got minute by minute decision-making capabilities. How do you package it up as a service and do you get together? Are you always on call or do you get together monthly for sprints weekly, quarterly? How does the delivery of that team and how they interact with [crosstalk] work?
A.J. Workman: There's two ways it happens. One, we've enabled the data side through a mobile application. That's through our partnership with Domo, and that goes in the client's hands. It's now these predictive analytics and the visualizations and the data, is literally in the palm of their hand and it's on their mobile device. That opens up a conversation that can happen over a text message between our team and their team. It can happen over email, but it also happens more formally once a week, at least, in-person over a video conference to really explore what's going on.
What's changed about that is, in the agency world, it has traditionally been, okay, agents team, you prepare your reports. Let's get together on Tuesday afternoons. Let's spend an hour, walk through those reports, essentially reading the numbers on the spreadsheet, and the meeting's over. That changes now. We have now had this back and forth in this conversation going over text messages because we saw something happened in the numbers on the weekend.
So we get to this formal meeting and it's no longer about, let's go backwards the last seven days and look at those numbers. Let's talk about what's happening now and what the predictive analytics is saying is going to happen in the next 30 days. Again, it changes the dynamic in the conversation to a forward-thinking discussion and what can we do to take advantage or grow what's going on, versus what happened last week? It changes the dynamic pretty dramatically. But yeah, the delivery is a combination of people-to-people discussion and technology delivering it in a way that our clients like to consume it. For them it's on the mobile device.
Max Traylor: Is it truly we meet every week, we make decisions every week, or is there some remnants of a quarterly plan or an annual thing? Or has that really been relegated to, we're going to teach you how to have conversations with the financial people to get them making decisions on a weekly basis?
A.J. Workman: There is still, I would say the QBR, the quarterly business review. It's more about that timeframe than it is the annual plan any longer. We see that changing pretty often with our clients that... And we as a consultancy, frankly, I can't tell you what's going to happen in a year. I don't even look that far out. My pipeline analysis goes 90 days. That's it. I'm not willing to go any further because stuff happens so fast that it's no longer I can predict, this is going to be a four-month sales cycle or six-month sales cycle. It's truly 30 to 90 days.
The reason for that is we can iterate so quickly and move, but we're also seeing our clients do that. The best clients, frankly, still have a quarterly business review that is no longer a review. It's more of an active working session to button up whatever's leftover in the current period, but more importantly, look ahead to say, how are we going to hit these goals that the prediction is showing us and what do we need to do to shore up to make sure we hit the prediction?
Or, if the prediction is lower than we want, now they understand the levers they can pull to change that outcome. It's a very different type of discussion where we used to hop on a plane, sit in a boardroom and go through, here's your quarterly business review. Here's what happened. Who cares?
Max Traylor: The spreadsheet numbers.
A.J. Workman: It's over.
Max Traylor: That they can't read and definitely can't be reviewed over a video call.
A.J. Workman: Exactly. Exactly. Now it's more of great, we're going to come to town, we're going to have the algorithm and the prediction for the next three months. Let's talk about how that aligns with the plans we've been talking about. And your media spend, and your merchandise that's available. Frankly, we see this outlier in month four coming because it's an unusual seasonal pop. Have you guys seen that? The algorithm is telling us something's going on there. Are your operational teams, are your warehouse teams, are you shipping and receiving teams, ready for this pop or not? It's a very different discussion than in the past.
Max Traylor: I got an off topic thing and a non topic thing. The on topic thing that I want to ask you is what you're most excited for. Usually I end with that, but I can't. I'm curious about... Just making a note because I always have an idea of what I want to ask next and then I forget. Thank you, family vodka.
A.J. Workman: Absolutely.
Max Traylor: What are you most excited about? Is it something that hasn't even happened yet that you know is going to happen and it's like after predictive comes, huh? Or is there something you've already been working on that you're most excited for? When you get up in the morning, what takes the cake?
A.J. Workman: What I'm really most excited about is, now the merging of the traditional offline marketing data with the digital data is very real.
Max Traylor: Where people are and what they see out at the mall?
A.J. Workman: Where they physically are, because now I can ping their phone, what they're watching, because I can see what we're serving them over the top TV or cable TV or what they're driving by, because I can now see the drive pattern past an outdoor billboard. Combine that with online behavior. Now I really understand what this person does at a granular level that I've never been able to do before.
Then if I take that marketing data, I cross reference that with things like the loyalty program. Loyalty program of a grocer, of a retailer, of a brand, what are they doing? I can now mesh all of that together, and now I have an algorithm that can really predict almost down to a person level, what they're going to buy next.
Amazon's done this in a couple of their replenishment areas, so I don't know if you've had this experience, but when you go into Amazon, there's all of a sudden all these little ads at the top that say, and they're pointing out things you may not have searched for before. What they're doing is they're running an algorithm saying, "Max will have a propensity to buy because he's done different things that we're analyzing. We're going to push this to the forefront." And it may be stuff you've never consciously searched up.
Max Traylor: Well, I'll tell you what I have noticed, that if I have to change a diaper, I get ads for diapers on Facebook. I don't know what Amazon's doing, but I know Facebook is listening to my conversations. I'm convinced of it. It's in the checkbox that we all checked.
A.J. Workman: Correct.
Max Traylor: But I say a word I've never said before, and all of a sudden I'm getting ads for golf trips in Nova Scotia or some [crosstalk] because I've-
A.J. Workman: I'm really excited for our-
Max Traylor: Certainty. You're excited about certainty. What a world of possibilities when it's like there's nowhere to go anymore. We're almost sure what's going to happen.
A.J. Workman: We're within 96% of knowing what's going to happen.
Max Traylor: Like thank you for your opinion, but we're going to talk about what to do with this information.
A.J. Workman: Exactly.
Max Traylor: That's a fun spot to be.
A.J. Workman: It is.
Max Traylor: For a person that likes to be right, that's a really fun spot to be. For an, I told you so, like your career will do so... You no longer have a career and I told you so, because I told you so before it happened.
A.J. Workman: That's right.
Max Traylor: Which is unfortunate for I told you so people. All right, so my last thing here is I heard recently that we are in the middle of the great resignation. The great resignation is people deciding that life functioned when they worked at home and when they spent time with their families, and they realized that there's other things that they could be doing and so corporate has to tread lightly.
Because you've got these brilliant senior people that do have options, and more than ever, arguably, because of the gig network and because people are surviving out there on their own and they're hearing stories about it. What are you seeing? How are you handling that? The going back to work thing. I think it's a big shift in the conversation, much like marketing and finance, employer employee. How do we make work fit with the life you want? What are you doing about it?
A.J. Workman: No, we're experiencing that firsthand. And a couple of points just to ground my comments, before the pandemic, we were very focused on... We have our headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Not a bad place to live.
Max Traylor: Love Denver. [inaudible]
A.J. Workman: But we really had roughly 100 people in the office every day, and that was just the MO. Everybody came in, everybody did their thing, because we live in Denver, Friday afternoons, we're probably not around. We're out hiking, biking, skiing, whatever it might be. Pandemic hit, we sent everybody home, everybody, within two days. Send everybody home to their home offices.
Come to find out, a lot of people took that chance to move to other places, so we've got people who spent a year in Bozeman, Montana. We've got people who spent a year in Maui. We got people who spent a year at their parents' place up in Maine, all over the country. But we didn't skip a beat from a business perspective. We actually grew during the pandemic, believe it or not, as a business. And we added 30% to our staff during the pandemic. There are about 42 people we've hired I've never met in person, ever. It's all been over Zoom.
Max Traylor: The naysayers call that one out agent. They're like, "Well, for the people that have been here, this is fine. The new people, they have to do unreasonable things."
A.J. Workman: Yeah, well, so we-
Max Traylor: I can't see them as well over video A.J.
A.J. Workman: That's right. I can see their kids and their dogs and whatever now.
Max Traylor: I interrupted you. I apologize.
A.J. Workman: That's all right. No, we actually made a fundamental change. We're okay with everybody working remote if they want to. We actually recently sent out a survey because we're looking at reopening our office sometime right around Labor Day. 78% of our employees said, "I prefer to work from home as my primary location and I will only come into the office as needed for either company meetings or something that's more effective in person."
We've also changed where we used to say, "If we're going to hire you, we want you to be in proximity to Denver, frankly." We now operate in 19 states over the last 12 months. It's crazy what we've been able to do. Now, the talent we've been able to attract because of that is top-notch. We're trying to eliminate any barrier to come work for us from a work-from-home perspective.
I frankly don't care where you work from, and if you want to work funky hours because you like to do stuff early in the morning or in the afternoon you want to take the outside adventures that we have here in Colorado or in Montana or wherever you might live, all for it. Go for it. It was a shift, but we've fully embraced it and we are all about the remote mobile workforce. Frankly now, we started to map out where we now have folks out in the United States, and actually one in London, one over in Budapest, and they're actually closer to our clients than we ever were.
When we start to get these requests to come see us in person, we're actually in many cases, right in proximity. Because we've opened up our borders, if you will, or our hiring mentality, to be remote and embrace that.
Max Traylor: Well dang, A.J. Where can I download an application? I'm working on my analytics PhD.
A.J. Workman: There you go.
Max Traylor: I'm working on that one, but whew. Man, I tell you what, this is one of my favorites. I'm going to let you go.
A.J. Workman: Sure.
Max Traylor: I'm going to let you go but for those of you listening, I would not be surprised if A.J. makes his way into Volume 32. I've formerly skipped Volume 31 of Max's Survival Guide, my book that I told myself I'd update every year. It turns out having two kids is a recipe for not updating your book, ladies and gentlemen. But we're getting past it. We're moving on. A.J, thank you so much.
A.J. Workman: Absolutely.
Max Traylor: We're going to chop this up, make the best of it and we'll see out there next time. Listeners, don't operate any heavy machinery whilst bingeing on Beers with Max. It's not good. Tip your waiters and waitresses and we'll see you next time. Cheers.
A.J. Workman: Cheers.