30 Minutes with Zac Carman

In life, both personally and professionally, relationships and connections are everything. Have you ever met someone and thought this experience will be important later on? I’ve had a few of those instances, one being last Friday with Zac Carman and his team.

52fdcd72497ca.image(Photo courtesy of Tulsa World)

Zac is the CEO of ConsumerAffairs in Tulsa. And as he tells it, in a previous life he worked in private equity. He was also an engineer at IBM. In short, he’s a rockstar and crazy intelligent.

Zac and I connected on LinkedIn months ago and chatted back and forth. He mentioned next time I was in Tulsa to let him know. He could have completely been saying that out of politeness but I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity. I pinged him early last week and let him know I’d be in Tulsa Thursday night and would love to meet with him Friday morning. To my surprise, he had his assistant squeeze me in. This was a great reminder to me that sometimes all you have to do is ask… even if it’s just days prior and trying to get on a busy CEO’s schedule.

I arrived at the Petroleum Club off Boulder in downtown Tulsa, Friday morning. Based on what I knew about ConsumerAffairs as a SaaS company and what I knew about the stuffy Petroleum Club, it seemed like an odd placement but I’d see. I headed up to the 16th floor and walked out to an insanely cool, industrial open office plan. Turns out it was bacon Friday so I was immediately greeted with the aroma of bacon. Leslie met me and directed me to open seating by the kitchen while pointing out all of the remodeling work they had recently finished. They did an incredible job on the space.There is such a happy, chill vibe in the entire office. They put a hole in the floor and inserted a staircase to keep the open collaboration rather than closing off the separate floors. That is very similar to what we did with our expansion at HireVue. I think it is a techy thing. Leslie was telling me about their current dilemma of trying to get a 12 foot, 700 pound shuffle board table up to the 16th floor. I’m wishing them the best with that feat.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 3.35.18 PM.png Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 3.36.27 PM.pngScreen Shot 2016-03-29 at 3.35.00 PM Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 3.34.39 PM.png  (Photos courtesy of ConsumerAffairs Instagram)


After a few minutes, Zac came and grabbed me and we sat down in a glass-walled collaboration area. Immediately, he gives off a different vibe than your typical intelligent engineer. He is that rare breed of insane intellect with a high amount of social skill. He is a very engaging guy but completely down-to-earth. He pulled out his leather bound notebook, began making some notes and we started chatting about a mutual interest, Domo. I just attended Domopalooza and he is friends with Josh James so it made for some nice storytelling. After a few minutes, he shared with me the past, current and future of CosumerAffairs. The growth they have already achieved and the growth they are projected to achieve is phenomenal. To help me understand their company, he drew me a bubble diagram in his notebook and showed me how the bubbles work together and make up the giant bubble. I later learned this is a pretty infamous explanation of his. He was running a few minutes late to his meeting so he shook my hand and ran off to the next place he had to be, making sure I was all set to meet with Dustin later that afternoon.It speaks volumes to me that Zac was willing to take time to meet with me. There is a quote by Zig Ziglar that says, “If people like you, they’ll listen to you. But if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.” I think that is a good testament to why Zac has been so successful thus far.

Dustin Brasel, the brand development manager, and I had also connected a while back. We had done some networking and sharing of best practices. I was looking forward to meeting him since he tended to be hard to pin down via email and phone calls. I wasn’t sure what to expect with Dustin based on our previous conversations but I was pleasantly surprised. Dustin was very personable and laid back. We chatted for about 30 minutes and shared some stories and experiences. He told me about the progression of ConsumerAffairs since joining the team. As we were wrapping up, he told me about the move to the Petroleum Building, the architect who designed the space and the artist who created their awesome artwork. Dustin is a great guy and undoubtedly a wonderful addition to the ConsumerAffairs team. He is also apparently an Ausssie Football pro if you’re into that.

 Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 3.41.54 PM.png   (Photo by me)

When I left Tulsa and moved to Salt Lake City, I was primarily intrigued by the rise of the tech culture moving to the area and creating what’s been termed “Silicon Slopes.” After working at a very conservative, old-school financial organization, it was amazing to see how tech companies operated. I was elated to become a part of that industry. As a native Oklahoman it is incredible to see what Zac and the ConsumerAffairs team are bringing to Tulsa. Zac told me he is proud to be able to bring the culture, salaries and mentalities of Silicon Valley to Tulsa. It’s no secret people like George Kaiser and other developers have been pumping money into the revitalization of Tulsa but to see a true tech culture being created is exciting. The current success of ConsumerAffairs has been astounding and I know the future of the company is going to mean big things for Tulsa. I can’t wait to see what happens. If you’re looking for an amazing career opportunity, I know they are looking for exceptional talent to join their team. Go check them out.

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Sometimes it’s hard to put an experience into words. I love to connect with awesome people and strengthen professional relationships. I am very intellectually curious and have a passion for learning from others. Pharrell is attributed with saying, “Collaborate with people you can learn from.” I felt like an hour at ConsumerAffairs taught me way more than I expected. I am thankful for the opportunity to absorb some of their awesomeness and look forward to staying connected. You can feel the drive and motivation in the air and it’s hard to not take in. My goal in life and my career is not to just have a list of contacts, but rather a list of friends and relationships. I have also realized, you have to be assertive and take chances in life. Zac is quoted in a Tulsa World article saying, “I tell myself there’s always room for a scrappy defender who boxes out.” While he was talking specifically about his love of basketball, I think this can be carried over to most aspects of life, especially business. Lesson of the week – immerse yourself in opportunities and experiences.

Thanks for reading and have a beautiful week, friends.


KPP_8452.jpg                                                               (Photo by Kirstie Clark)


A lesson from my Starbucks’ barista

I was running a bit behind schedule this morning. Still, I knew my Keurig wasn’t going to cut it and I pulled into the Starbucks’ drive-through on my way into the office. I was immediately a little annoyed with the line wrapping around the building. Why? I am the one running behind and choosing to stop by Starbucks. I quickly realized I needed an attitude shift.

After I paid the man for my grande flat white with coconut milk, the encounter became different than my usual drive-through experiences.  My coffee wasn’t ready and rather than turning back to his coworkers and chatting or pulling his iPhone out and texting, he leaned in to the window sill and asked me how my day was. I told him my day was going well so far. He asked if I was going to work and said he assumed so since I was dolled up. Then we laughed about many girls get dolled up just to run errands. It was only a few minutes before my coffee was ready but that engagement left me with a positive feeling about my morning Starbucks’ experience.

Now, normally I would think this was just a chatty barista and not think anything of it; However, this previous Sunday morning my friend and I ran to the same Starbucks’ for a quick coffee fix. While we were waiting on our drinks, the bubbly girl leaned out and rested her arms on the window, asked us how our morning was and engaged us in conversation. After a few minutes, we had our drinks and were on our way.

Now there could be a few things going on here.

  • There could be a new Starbucks’ initiative going on to further develop the culture – think Chic-fil-a’s “My pleasure.”
  • There could also be great leadership at this particular store encouraging engagement.
  • Or it could be they’ve just hired really great employees who are rockstars at their job.

So what is the lesson I am taking away from this…

Jim Elliot is famous for saying, “Wherever you are, be all there.” I feel like these baristas have perfected that idea and in the process, are creating a brand experience. This is the sweet spot of selling, marketing and consumerism. As a sales person, this resonates with me.

As a sales person and a professional in general, I try to relate my experiences to my own career and life. This thought brings me to recent hubbub in the social selling community.  Jack Kosakowski recently argued how ineffective the idea of spamming people with inMails or other forms of outreach is. The experience and the connotation is a negative one. Sales people need to get back to creating personal relationships and experiences. Far too many reps are only concerned with quotas and burn relationships and networking opportunities while on the war path to hitting their number.

My thought on sales is to first and foremost develop a relationship with your network and anyone you come in contact with. David Oldham recently spoke with other panel members at our first Salt Lake City Sales Hacker Meetup. One bit of advice he gave is to give to your network and be a resource for them before you ever try to get anything. Self-serving is the quickest way to burn bridges. Jen Spencer was also on that panel and her advice for the year was to be authentic and create a good experience. This completely encompasses what I felt in my Starbucks experience and what I hope to emulate in my sales career. Life and work is about relationships. You have to learn to create meaningful, authentic relationships if you want to reach your maximum potential.

My final thought – as you go out and interact with others throughout your day, focus on how you can positively impact them and create a positive experience. You never know how what impact and positive repercussions will follow.

Have a beautiful weekend, friends.

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