This Japanese expression meaning “one life, one encounter” is a favorite. Time flies, but memories can be made to last. Behavioral psychology points to the younger population choosing experiences over things.

How do we keep up in the business world? I’ve learned that treating every initial customer and prospect with omotenashi (selfless hospitality) increases the possibility that they chose to return. At the same time, loyalty is becoming a thing of the past with so many consumers addicted to the pursuit of new experiences. The bar has been raised so high that every interaction requires additional creativity on top of selfless hospitality. Sometimes, this creativity requires provocation.

It boils down to creating memories with every customer interaction. The best marketers are memory makers.

Steve Jobs may not have been the greatest human being, but he left a permanent footprint in the sands of time.

Salesforce Sustainability Cloud

Salesforce is giving core customers opportunities to make the world a better place by adopting solutions like Sustainability Cloud.

As a technology consultant I wonder if there will be enough demand (without global mandates) to implement these solutions.

Companies that Care

Employee engagement is easier when volunteering is ingrained in the culture (and not a PR stunt). I’m inspired by CEOs who drive social impact.

Here are some leading companies…


Repeat Customer


Great podcast by Mio Adilman and Zendesk. As a One Medical customer, I can vouch for the intuitive mobile app and on-demand availability of great docs. Frankly, the healthcare industry needs the most disruption.




Give local

This is Silicon Valley’s dilemma: To empower and train (give back locally) or to automate and outsource (reduce local opportunities). The tech sector should benefit local communities wherever it succeeds. The 99% lives here, too.

Inspire CX

Good podcast from Jeanne Bliss about Customer Experience at Inspire, a clean energy startup.

Interview with Michael Bair



Joy or Happiness?

Years ago Pico Iyer captured in an NYT column the desperate pursuit of silence and detox from our noisy world. The root cause of our anxieties according to him was traceable to the devices that wired us with info which we don’t necessarily need, certainly not all the time. A measured response meant going off the grid to a place intended to give back one’s bearings in order to consciously live again. The end game was potentially a happier life.

Joy of Quiet

Today, the end game careens towards an exciting life with tech — not necessarily a happy one — with microbursts of joy as we speed towards 2020. Laura Holson, a writer for the New York Times, spells out a different narrative from Pico’s — examining the ups and downs of our pursuit of happiness. Happiness may be quantified by the number of joyful moments one can generate (even if it’s from social media).

Are We Living in a Post-Happiness World?

I know this rings true in the customer experience world where happy customers tended to have more aha! moments.

Both NYT essays allude to a life prone to instant gratification which needs examination and recalibration. Mindfulness might be attainable for a handful of NYT readers. The rest of us tackle the world as an exciting scavenger hunt with nothing more than a small screen and tiny keyboard. It’s possible to collect joyful memories without using devices. Maybe the secret to joy is leaving the phone behind on the next journey.

What Nonprofits Can Learn About CX From For-Profits

Excellent podcast with John Corrigan and Valerie Leonard, founder of Nonprofit Utopia. I’ll be highlighting social impact leaders who are using CX methods. The CXPA is co-hosting an event with Tech for Good on 11/12.

Stay tuned.

JLF Houston – 9/14/2019

South Asian lit festivals have grown over time. As the population thrives in large metros like Houston and Seattle, South Asian book-readers stake their ground and share voices which go beyond the professional brilliance of the community. All that glitters is not gold. There is real pain felt in the community as immigrants.

Pain can be recorded and promoted in the form of art. I attended the Houston edition of the famous Jaipur Literature Festival. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni of “Arranged Marriage” fame along with Mira Jacob highlighted a diverse program. Both writers took decades to publish their first notable books. They were activists addressing community issues long before they became writers.

The festival also featured longtime Bollywood film actress Manisha Koirala who emerged in the 90s. She shared her first book, Healed, a memoir of how she overcame cancer. Cancer is pervasive, yet it’s something South Asian survivors struggle to handle publicly. Manisha brings forth her story and inspires anyone on the same journey.

What I’ve learned from attending these events is that writing is hard. These activities inspire me to read more and share things online. Blogging helps me find my own voice.

Some things go away by themselves.

Building a Tech company like Sony

Sony is not what it used to be. Japan, Inc. is relevant, but no longer a powerhouse. Old school rarely gets noticed in this age of warp speed. John Nathan’s story of Sony is a cautionary tale but also highlights conscientious leadership. Sony might not have kept up with the growth of the new tech companies, but it didn’t have the volume of sordid scandals today which pose a greater threat to external growth for tech startups than the competition. The fastest-growing companies today are struggling to establish a work culture and hold onto their employees.

Sony was led by grownups who never left the room. The culture was refined and maintained by its co-founder Akio Morita. And it worked for a very long time as portrayed by John Nathan.

Based on my own experience in Japan, business life and work culture rarely changed every year. The monotony was a good thing for long-term career seekers. Professional stability also helped the Japanese maintain nuclear families. Some of my expat friends in Japan continue similar routines over two or three decades thanks to the stability of their tech employers. The same cannot be said about Silicon Valley.


CX for Social Impact

Nice clip highlighting the difference. Stay tuned for an event on 11/12 about implementing CX at orgs focused on social impact.

The problem with social media

What’s the point of connecting in the first place?


When I’m not thinking about changing the world, I think about Salesforce. Here’s an awesome blog by Rikke Hovgaard.

CCXP eligibility

Helpful webinar while preparing for the CX certification. It’s a lot more than I expected.

Caregiving 101 @MD Anderson

My family is grateful for the loving support of family, friends, colleagues, and many strangers. Some of the best tips we received in this cancer journey were from Uber and Lyft drivers.

Many caregivers are children of patients. It’s difficult to begin journeys into the unknown. Life can blossom or be gone in the blink of an eye. A mid-career disruption also impacts every other aspect of your life, especially if you are coming a long way to Houston. Along with its world-class medical facilities, Houston’s accessibility is its greatest asset. There are flights to most parts of the world.

Nonetheless, Houston is a rugged town with marginal infrastructure and poor mass transit. The weather is muggy and it’s not walkable beyond parks and recreational areas. Air conditioning and hints of Southern hospitality keep hope alive. If you are into sports, Houston is a mecca. If you are into sustainability and music, Austin is just 3 hours away by car. The coasts are just 4 hours by flight. Getting away is the most important thing for visiting patients and caregivers who get occasional respite during treatment.

Cancer treatment alone won’t ensure the survival of your loved one. Everything else matters, too. MD Anderson sets up caregivers well to provide the best possible care. Here are some tips from my MD Anderson experience.

  1. Use the online and mobile version of MyChart: Make sure you set up text alerts to track updates. Review the billing like a hawk. Every treatment plan is unique.  Changes are made frequently based on effectiveness and the need to reduce side effects. Have a daily check-in with your loved one to make sure that you are up to speed on appointments. Ask questions about the data in the weekly check-ups with oncologists and nurses. 
  2. Sign up for peer-to-peer support at http://mycancerconnection.org. Cancer hits near every family and should never be fought alone. MD Anderson will connect you with survivors and fellow patients. The caregiver can learn best practices and optimize care.
  3. Meet with the assigned caseworker/social worker and fully leverage patient services. At MD Anderson, caseworkers function like customer success managers and work hard to improve the patient experience. The services offered to patients and caregivers are truly world-class and they can improve overall care if used wisely. The key is to lower the stress of the patient experience. Recommend checking-in every 2 weeks.
  4. Attend MD Anderson activities. The busy calendar of activities for patients and caregivers will reduce stress. From integrated medicine (yoga, meditation, nutrition, support groups ) to seminars featuring the latest treatment breakthroughs,  your days in Houston will go by fast. You will make friends along the way. Recommend 3 to 4 times/week.
  5. Focus on the spiritual life. Houston offers houses of worship for every community. We discovered a meditation circle similar to the one we attended in the Bay area. Daily prayer and weekly spiritual fellowship strengthen the Faith.
  6. Free housing is available. The timeline for treatment tends to extend longer than anticipated. The bills pile on for those who have temporarily relocated. Connect with the MD Anderson caseworker and your place of worship to secure housing at lower costs. 
  7. Use ‘MD Anderson’ discounts in Houston. There are discounts for rental cars, restaurants, and even gyms. The American Cancer Society has partnered with Lyft in Houston to provide free rides to patients and their caregivers. Recommend signing up for this.
  8. Stay apolitical when visiting MD Anderson. Folks from all walks of life are fighting the same battle. I lean towards the Left. The philanthropists who helped build MD Anderson lean toward the Right. Avoid making statements using clothing.
  9. Watch movies, read books, and skip the news. Too much information from social media creates unwanted stress. Stress can influence cancer development.
  10. Nutrition is key. MD Anderson offers cooking classes. A cancer-fighting diet is hard to achieve. At the same time, eating something is better than eating nothing. There has never been a better time to go veganRecommend at least 6 small meals/day for your loved one.
  11. Stay connected to your network and remain current with your professional skills. Life may not return to normal, but you will have to resume where you left off.


Kudos to …

Voxility for unplugging tech companies promoting hate. This is ’Customer Success for Good.’


Kustomer Relationship Management

Recently discovered a new CRM. There are many support tools in the marketplace. Reminds me of the year 2000. Of course, I blogged about it. The tools are beginning to look the same. Salesforce is the market leader just like Siebel once was in 2000. Salesforce needs to improve its product for SMBs. Everyone has jumped in for a share of this pie.

I like Kustomer’s kanban-like UI and social media integrations. The focus is on the Retail vertical. It helps that Kustomer was founded by the same team which built Desk.com for Salesforce.

The most promising startups these days seem to be spun out of larger product companies which have become too unwieldy. Lengthy onboarding periods and hefty implemention fees have become a cash cow for larger software companies. This is a huge turnoff for SMBs. The key differentiator for SMBs is a high-quality product which can be rolled out fast…like in less than a week. Kustomer is doing the right things.

Houston Inc.

I’ve never liked Houston, but forcibly made trips here. Houston wins because of affordability and jobs. The oil and gas (O&G) industry fuels the economy, but younger generations may not stick around. O&G still makes the world go around, but it has lost its luster.

Life is too short to live in Houston.

Seth Godin quote


I’ve been passionate about skills-based volunteering throughout my career. Seattle-based democracyLab plays match-maker with their solution to address social, economic, environmental and civic problems; a good place to post projects and volunteer your time.


Universal Family Care

Nearly everyone I know is tasked with caring for an elder family member.

Hawaii and Washington have passed legislation to help their residents. This bipartisan concern deserves national attention.


Not surprisingly, Japan leads the way in tech for eldercare.

Observations about Cancer

This is a reference from a friend. Luke Coutinho is a nutritionist based in India specialized in holistic healing from cancer. Just another resource for anyone embarking on this journey.

The Indian diet is not the worst, but it’s not much better than BBQ and beer. Luke has developed a cult following in India while helping many folks recover from cancer. His program is not cheap, but a bargain compared to anything similar in the US.

Giving up the driver’s seat

Great talk here. I’m used to being in the driver’s seat. When it comes to helping a relative get through cancer treatment, I’ve relented to doctors and medical experts. Let experts drive when necessary. This is especially true in the world of customer success.

Age of work peak? 60?

Interesting article by social scientist Arthur Brooks. Air traffic controllers are forced to retire at 56. In Japan, CEOs power through their 70s and 80s. I’ll never forget giving a tech demo to Yashiro-San who became CEO of Shinsei Bank at 71 and still serves as the Chairman today at 90.  For me, it’s about a healthy lifestyle, staying relevant in my industry, and maintaining a strong professional network.

Japan may be a good place to avoid retirement if you love to work!


How to Deliver not so good news

Good tips here from Shep Hyken. As a customer of the Dollar Shave Club(DSC) (and one-time customer success account manager for a client delivering to DSC), DSC has executed this strategy well — achieving a price increase without encountering much churn.

Lincoln quote

There’s something wrong about a world bent towards rewarding crooks and con men. But it’s harder to make sense of the faithful and spiritually-inclined willing to support extreme agendas. Both liberals and conservatives focus on winning versus leading. What’s happened to moral leadership in America?

Are we teaching our children to win at all costs instead of making them into better versions of ourselves?


Third-party data makes sense for validation using sources such as D&B if in-house data quality is especially poor. No need to embark on red stapler exercises when things have to get done fast.

RIP Newstands

Less than 20% of newstands remain in NYC from their peak in the 1950s.


Only nostalgia remains for business travelers like me who were addicted to the experience of buying a newspaper and a morning bagel for the subway ride. All eyes including mine are transfixed to a small screen. Only few commuters are reading the newspapers of yesteryear.

Newstands have become snack trucks. Traditional journalism is becoming obsolete.

How to Import Data into Salesforce

This 5 video series along with a dedicated trailhead module will help if you are new to Salesforce.

The Trouble with Meetings

People analytics @Microsoft discovered the culprit behind employee dissatisfaction.

According to this NYT article, the meeting culture was out of control.

NYT article

An average of 27 hours per week were set aside for large meetings in one division. Self-driven work time @Microsoft got pushed to late nights and weekends. Sound familiar?

This has been the case at many of my enterprise clients.

I find the usage of tools like Slack and selective one-on-ones (which includes extended team members) can reduce the need for unnecessary meetings that clog up the calendar.

Oncora Medical

The startup Oncora Medical helps track existing patient data at MD Anderson for clinical decision support. Incredible user insights have been achieved through a myriad of cloud technologies over the past three decades. Yet, healthcare data has been difficult to parse. Enjoyed seeing this demo and meeting Oncora’s founders.

Cancer doctors are getting better patient insights thanks to Oncora’s data capture tool. Oncora and others @TMCx continue to unlock the black box mysteries of the healthcare industry.

Isaiah 65

TMCx Demo Day in Houston

Houston is not known as a cloud software hub or anything resembling Silicon Valley. It gets the world’s full attention when it comes to Healthcare and of course, Oil & Gas.

Looking forward to this startup event hosted by the TMCx accelerator…


What Cancer Takes Away

Poet and cancer survivor Anne Boyer writes a brilliant essay about her treatment experience for triple negative breast cancer — the same one my mom is battling.

The psychosocial side of cancer treatment requires extra attention because the pain alone from treatment can evict one’s sense of livelihood as Boyer accurately describes. The caretaker and hospital can make or break this narrative (which I’m learning everyday). I think integrated medicine needs greater attention in our healthcare system so that we can reduce the suffering from treatment. Nonetheless, better treatment methods are needed than relying on the brutal course of chemo, surgery, and radiation to treat complex cancers.

New Yorker article

During treatment, you must have a desire to live, but it is also necessary to believe that you are a person worth keeping alive. Cancer requires painful, expensive, environmentally harmful, extractive medicine. My desire to survive means that I still can’t bring myself to unravel survival’s ethics.

Sure Bet

I’m a proponent of soft skills. But without hard skills, it’s impossible to advance one’s tech career. Salesforce has created a plug-and-play ecosystem which enables anyone to pick up the hard skills to go along with their soft skills.

On top of this, Salesforce and its partner ecosystem continues to drive impactful projects worldwide.

Paul Greenberg, a longtime CRM analyst, has an insightful column here. Salesforce offers one of the safest career paths for change-makers beginning their careers in tech.

Top 10 Churn Causes

I won’t be able to make it to Gainsight’s annual conference. This Gainsight-produced video closely depicts the reality facing most SaaS companies. Take care of your customers like you take care of your health.

The enemy is fear







Integrated medicine

MD Anderson (MDA) leaves no rocks unturned. Specialists study cancer full time and embrace mind-body connection when treating patients. MDA offers a world-class integrated medicine program which includes Eastern perspectives and teachings. The mind needs treatment just like the body. Talks by gurus like this one are popular.

Houston is fortunate to have MDA.

Self-care matters

There’s an obsession with pleasing my customers and clients. Family is the key stakeholder. But there’s one relationship which I’ve managed to ignore for a long time.

As someone who’s constantly adding more responsibilities (including taking care of ailing family members), I end up doing less to keep my own engine running. In this classic movie scene from “Office Space” I can relate with the character of Dr. Swanson.

Personal health is my job #1. It requires selfishness. My body is my most important client. I listen closely and fix issues before it’s too late. The world can wait.

Redefining ‘Diversity in Tech’

I co-hosted a dialogue recently sponsored by Net Impact. Our group at the Table4Twelve program was diverse and represented a decent cross-section of who works in tech. Yet, I left feeling uneasy.

As someone who’s benefited from my ’model minority-ness’, I continue to ask myself what can I do to change the equation for others? It’s easy to hire and work with people who look just like me. Asian-Americans have a seat at most tables in the tech world. It’s easy to keep quiet and just make money. Very few of us went through civil rights struggles. I try to think outside of the box. As an American first and foremost, how do I give back to the landscape which has benefited me?

There’s a huge American population who’ve been disadvantaged for generations — unlike my Asian story. They went through Hell to get me the civil rights I take for granted today. Many underrepresented communities simply don’t have access to the education channels which enable careers in tech. In many cases, they were overlooked based on cognitive bias.

Overt prejudice is common, too. America elected a president who clearly does not like underrepresented minorities and recent immigrants. Yet, he likes the thriving Asian community. There are too many large companies and startups which I’ve worked for where African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans were not employed for whatever reason. We are in the 21st century. Shockingly, not a single employee looked the part in some of the most successful startups which I’ve dealt with. There were Asian and Indian faces in the room, but something didn’t feel right especially when I kept meeting customers of these same companies who came from underrepresented backgrounds.

A few companies looked like their customers, but most did not. Tech leaders set the tone and it’s clear that some don’t value diversity, including many executives from privileged Asian backgrounds. I think it’s a cardinal sin not to hire employees who look like your customers.

I have a perspective on how we got here. For many companies, the narrative of achieving ‘Diversity in Tech’ continues to happen organically. It’s not difficult to recruit South Asian immigrants and Asian-Americans for technical roles. The talent pipeline is significant within these tech-obsessed communities.

Another checkbox gets filled by women from Asian backgrounds who actively pursue STEM careers because of a cultural push from early childhood. Most Asians have STEM career paths woven into their DNA fabric. Any type of career outside the realm of tech, medicine, business, or law has generally been frowned upon by Asian families. I should know firsthand as the son of an IBM lifer.

As a result, ‘Diversity in Tech’ is largely an Asian immigrant story represented by over 20% of the workforce in large tech companies. Sensing opportunity, the talent pipeline from Asian communities grow, too. The tech industry is a growing pond where even the smallest fish can grow big and fast on diligence alone. The story repeats itself as Asian immigrants lock up green cards and start blazing trails for their children so that that they can overachieve— by winning spelling bees, achieving patents, becoming tech entrepreneurs, and so on. History has been made quickly by this close-knit, laser-beam focused population in the US.

A virtuous cycle gets fulfilled as American companies invest heavily in the homelands of where their Asian talent pool was born. For example, many Western companies have become top employers in India. My own experience dovetails this narrative after having been to India and Japan for work. Paths to success continue to regenerate from Asia. The East-West global pipeline was built over the last 30 years. Tech talent continues to flow back and forth.

Many tech leaders believe the diversity equation has already been solved because of the Asian narrative. The problem is that the tech industry has enabled a walled garden of Asian talent, not a place where other minority groups can easily set afoot. Gender diversity has improved given the strong emphasis of STEM in schools. However, efforts to increase underrepresented minorities have shown only marginal gains.

Based on the recent dialogue with Net Impact, I hope such conversations are mirrored in tech boardrooms across the country. How can we create successful narratives for minorities (who aren’t Asian)? How do we create similar tidal waves of opportunities for them? Shouldn’t your employee base look like your customers?