Last month when we launched Kazoo (formerly YouEarnedIt/HighGround), we also announced Paul Pellman as our new CEO. We had a few burning questions for him at this exciting juncture in the company’s history and we want to help you to get to know him. So without further ado, meet Paul!
Q&A with Kazoo CEO Paul Pellman
Rebecca: We’re excited to have you here. Can you start by telling us a little bit about your background and what brought you to Kazoo?
Paul: I’m excited to be here as well. My background is mostly in the ad tech space. I spent the last four years at Google, running all go-to-market activities launched under the Google Analytics 360 umbrella. Before that, I led Adometry as CEO for seven years prior to its acquisition by Google. After spending the last four years at Google, I’m excited to get back to my roots at a rapidly scaling company. I love the energy in a growing company like Kazoo where we are pushing ourselves every day to change the landscape of our industry.
Rebecca: So coming from the ad tech industry, what interested you about the People Management/Employee Experience space?
Paul: What really interested me about this space is that it’s something everyone can relate to. We’ve all either worked someplace or known someone who’s worked in an unsatisfying or thankless job. And, I’d like to think that we’ve all worked in a place where we felt a strong connection to the company’s purpose and mission — a place with a palpable culture that collectively recognized us for the good work we were doing, celebrated successes achieved by folks on the team, and provided clear direction and feedback.
What is so exciting for me about leading Kazoo is that our platform directly and tangibly helps companies create the kind of rewarding and purpose-filled workplace that we all strive to work for. We help our clients improve their overall workplace environment, which tangibly drives higher employee retention and productivity. But, just as exciting, we help their employees feel more connected and motivated in how they show up to work.
Rebecca: How do you feel culture impacts business success?
Paul: Culture and employee experience are critical for business success. Employee’s today have a choice and they want to work for a company that sees them as something more than a number. On average, 70 percent of a company’s operating expenses are spent on human capital, yet many companies aren’t focusing enough on their people when making business decisions. When companies put their employees first and invest in their culture, the impact of those efforts is easily seen in KPIs like higher employee retention, productivity, and customer experience.
Rebecca: Now let’s talk about the rebrand. How involved were you in the process of rebranding the company to Kazoo — and, why that name?
Paul: I came in about halfway through the naming process and worked closely with our marketing team and our branding agency to find the right name. During the process, we knew we wanted to maintain the positive buzz in the industry for what YouEarnedIt and HighGround accomplished for customers of all sizes. But it was important to make a fresh start as a brand, too, because we are now a much more robust, all-in-one platform that offers so much more than either one was able to offer separately. Our combined platform is a game-changer and so is our new brand: provocative, intriguing, and celebratory.
From a more philosophical standpoint, the work landscape today has employees wanting, expecting, and craving more out of their workplaces, and in fact demanding it for them to join and stay.
Leaders are faced with a challenge like no other time period, with multi-generations working together, the up-and-coming workforce asking for more transparency, more purpose, and more meaning than ever before. How do we thread the needle between what employees need and the organizations that must move faster, produce more, and innovate to survive?
When you find your Kazoo is when your employees are propelled and inspired, driven by their desire to achieve. When all boats rise together for the greater good. When the game is elevated and good talent becomes great. Kazoo is when employees are empowered to take ownership of their work, can see the bigger picture, and know how they fit within the collective success of the team and company.
This is what it means to find your Kazoo. This is what it’s like when work is working. Imagine that!
Rebecca: Tell me more — how does the Kazoo platform change the game?
Paul: We’re the only platform that brings together Recognition & Rewards, Performance Management, and Surveys into one integrated platform. Of course, clients can look to leverage any subset of these three capabilities (they don’t need to buy all three solutions to start). But we do believe that there is an additive and synergistic value when a company utilizes all three together.
For example, a key characteristic of a continuous Performance Management platform is around ease of getting and sharing feedback. What better way to gain more context about an employee than to leverage the recognition they’ve received through our robust Recognition & Rewards platform seamlessly within our Performance Management solution?
In addition, we typically find that our Recognition & Rewards solution generates exceedingly high usage (on average, more than 80% of our customers’ employees are engaged with the platform at least once a month). When customers are also using our Performance Management solution, this high recognition usage many times lends itself to higher compliance and utilization on Performance Management. All this means less nudging and follow-up from the HR team and more robust and comprehensive goal setting/feedback/check-ins within the system.
There’s also the additive value of having all the data and insights that come from having Recognition & Rewards, Performance Management, and Surveys integrated together within one platform. We’re making a significant investment this year in leveraging this unified dataset to drive more impactful and proactive insights and analytics to our customers.
Rebecca: What is the future of Kazoo?
Paul: The first phase of our integrated platform was just the beginning. Our goal is to lead the market in People Management and, with that as our focus, we will continue to innovate and evolve our platform. We’ve got a lot of great things in store for this year like expanding our analytics capabilities and enhancing our engagement surveys.
A round of confetti for Paul! 🎉 🥳