Posts Tagged ‘Rob La Gesse’
February 21, 2013
[More thoughts on The Rackspace Book…]
6. ROB LA GESSE
Rob La Gesse is the groovy cat who first hired gapingvoid at Rackspace.
He’s also the guy who hired my friend, Robert Scoble.
He’s a lot like me and Scoble, i.e. very much his own man, very much an individual.
I suppose that’s why we get along.
Above is a T-shirt design I’ve never showed Rob before– he’s seeing it for the first time here on the blog, the same as you and everyone else. He may like it, he may not.
That’s how Rob and I work together. Like I said in my last blog post, “he lets me just post stuff without getting pre-approval. We like doing that way because it lets him see the work for the first time in the wild, which keeps the thinking fresher, somehow.…”
The thing is, there’s a method to the madness. If the idea fails, hey, it’s just a wee cartoon on a blog post. We can quickly and easily try something else the same day. It’s not like we blew money on a Superbowl ad that ended up bombing…
But if the idea works, it works REALLY well. The idea gets emailed around, both inside and outside the company, to employees, shareholders, customers and non-customers alike. It suddenly takes on a life of its own, on its own merit.
In other words, it suddenly becomes a cultural object (i.e. a social object that articulates the company culture), as opposed to just a usual piece of commercial, “Here’s-why-you-should-give-us-your-money” messaging (You know, the kind that noboday actually cares about).
Rob and I never planned it this way, we just started talking and this is kinda how it evolved. That’s kinda how we both roll. Rock on.
February 20, 2013
[Screenshot of the cartoon showcase page we did for Rackspace etc.]
I’ve started writing a book about gapingvoid’s experience working with Rackspace. Here are some initial thoughts, some more formed than others:
i. WE’VE LEARNED A TON IN THE PROCESS.
I thought I’d share what we’ve learned about Rackspace along the way, about how this small little web-hosting company from San Antonio, Texas turned their unique take on “just being social” into a billion-dollar business.
ii. CAN A BILLION-DOLLAR COMPANY ACTUALLY BE “SOCIAL”?
I know. Right?
We’ve all been bombarded with the Social Media catchphrases, we’ve all seen the hype spewing out of every Internet orifice out there, we’ve heard every cliché and platitude known to man, we’ve all rolled our eyeballs.
The number of people calling themselves “Social Media Gurus” on Twitter numbers over a hundred thousand. “Business is Social!” “Join the conversation!” “Don’t sell, engage!”
“Hire me!” “I’m available for consultation!” “Write me a big, fat check and I’ll solve all your Social Media problems!”
Like I said, we’ve all rolled our eyeballs.
And yet… what if it actually works?
iii. “DEATH BY COMMODITY”.
Rackspace basically sells a commodity i.e. web hosting and cloud services.
They basically sell a lot of ones and zeroes, that they move through a lot of pipes, back and forth between their customers and their servers.
Not sexy, and highly competitive. What’s more, they’re competing with a lot of blue chip companies A LOT Larger than them: Amazon, Microsoft, IBM etc
It’s an easy place to get your lunch eaten by the big boys.
It’s an easy environment to be killed in.
And yet, they thrive.
iv. THE SECRET WEAPON: “FANATICAL SUPPORT” THE CREATION MYTH.
Two young guys start a web-hosting company, with Graham Weston as an investor. Graham gets an email from an irate customers. “Guys, we have to offer our customers Fanatical Support or this isn’t going to work. An ethos is born…
v. SOME MORE IDEAS TO PLAY WITH:
“IF YOU LOVE YOUR CUSTOMERS ENOUGH, YOU WILL HAVE A GREAT PRODUCT, END OF STORY…”
“DON’T TALK TO ME ABOUT R.O.I., TALK TO ME ABOUT HOW WHAT WE”RE DOING IS ACTUALLY BEING HELPFUL TO OUR CUSTOMERS.”
“HOW THE OPEN CLOUD CHANGES EVERYTHING”
HIRE THE CRAZIES e.g. SCOBLE, LA GESSE, MACLEOD
“A SHOPPING MALL CAN BECOME A CASTLE”
“COMMODITY? ODDITY? OR BOTH?
“PRODUCT IS THE PEOPLE…”
“TAKE HUMAN BITES”
“LEADERSHIP IS ABOUT CREATING MEANING, NOT TELLING THEM WHAT TO DO”
“RACKSPACE HAS TO BECOME A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE’S HIGHEST NEEDS ARE MET, OR WE’RE WASTING OUR TIME.”
“IT’S WHAT RACKSPACE MUST BECOME THAT’S INTERESTING. IT’S WHAT ALL BUSINESS MUST BECOME THAT’S EVEN MORE INTERESTING.”
[To be continued…]
[UPDATE:] Rob La Gesse, the guy who hired me at Rackspace (and also hired Robert Scoble) left the following comment below:
I’ll be interested in seeing how this series progresses. Not sure everyone here knows this, but I don’t vet Hugh’s work — I see it when you see it. And that is pretty cool to me. I experience his work when you do. No preconceptions.
Yep. It’s what makes it fun– he lets me just post stuff without getting pre-approval. We like doing that way because it lets him see the work for the first time in the wild, which keeps the thinking fresher, somehow.…
June 13, 2011
Here are some pictures Rob La Gesse sent me- people at Rackspace who downloaded my cartoons off the web, printed them out and hung them on their walls.
“Crap jobs are created by other people, dream jobs you make yourself” and “Life is short, Make it amazing”.
No “Reason Why” to buy the Rackspace product. No top-down mission statement.
Nope. Instead I tried to talk about stuff that ACTUALLY MATTER to people inside and outside the company.
Like I said in my last post, ALIGNMENT is where the action is.
“A brand’s first job is to be interesting”. Aligned brands are far more interesting than brands that just want somebody else’s money.
Just because you work for a big company doesn’t mean you don’t have to think about REAL human values. In fact, it’s more important than ever.
Think about it.
[More Rackspace cartoons here.] [More corporate cartoon commissions here.]
January 25, 2011
There seems to be a conversation happening internally at my client, Rackspace. Spearheaded by people like Robert Scoble and the guy who hired him (and who also hired me), Rob La Gesse.
“Don’t be normal”.
Who wants a “normal” job, anyway?
Who wants a “normal” employer, anyway?
Who wants a “normal” life, anyway?
So why not say it, loud and proud?
So I drew some cartoons on the subject.
I’m thinking they’d make great recruiting posters…
[P.S. At the time of posting this, Rob hasn’t seen these cartoons yet. He lets me post my ideas “live”, without having to go through him first. THAT IS WHY I’m psyched to be working with Rob and Rackspace. Just so you know.]
December 19, 2010
[“Hugged”, which went out earlier this year in the newsletter. You can buy the print here etc.]
I love the backstory to the “Hug” cartoon above:
My mother, in her day, was a very successful education software consultant. “Have you hugged your client today?” was her line, not mine.
She always had about 6 – 10 Blue Chip clients on board at one time. Companies like Shell, Exxon, Coco-Cola etc.
And no matter what kind of day she was having, EVERY DAY she would make some kind of effort to demonstrate to each and every client that… she cared, that this stuff mattered, that she was willing to go the extra mile.
And it worked. It certainly paid for me and my sister’s education.
“Hugging clients” is really a no-brainer.
Unless you don’t really like your clients. Unless you’re just in it it for the money.
Then it just feels sleazy and wrong.
There’s nothing wrong with insisting on good chemistry, before you commit fully to working with someone.
Sure, we all need money. But I think we need chemistry more.
[P.S. Speaking of chemistry, I’m really grokking the work I’m doing with Rackspace at the moment. Thank CHRIST for people like Rob La Gesse etc.]
September 29, 2010
A cube grenade I drew for Rob La Gesse, Scoble’s boss over at Rackspace. [UPDATE: Rob blogs about it here as well.]
[Feel free to download the high-res version here.]
Disclosure: I’m currently doing a wee bit of consulting work for Rackspace. This cartoon was inspired after talking to La Gesse the other day. He tells me that with all their assets– and with over 3,000 employees, they have many– their culture is the thing that they’re collectively most proud of. Rock on.