Movies, TV, Games & Google: Podcast Interview

Chris Hood is on the show this week, a Googler who is head of business platform strategy and host of the similarly named Google podcast “That Digital Show”. Chris talks us through his rich history of how working in a movie theatre helped to develop a love for TV and media. This led to his work transforming how users engage in content at Fox for shows including Glee, Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, and American Idol.

We talk about his passion for gaming and his work at Electronic Arts And of course, we’ll talk about “THE GOOGLE”, what it takes to get hired there, the power of Google’s data and what it means to be head of business strategy.

Edited by: Simon Hoerner

Produced by: Samuel Gregory and Chris Addams

Theme Music by: Chris Addams

Sponsored by: Jupiter and the Giraffe

Website: https://thattech.show

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4paazkqrlwtB_WW28w4Gsg

Instagram: @thattechshow_

Patreon: @thattechshow

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/thattechshow/

Get in touch: [email protected]


Episode Transcript

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00:00
Chris H.
Hello. My name is Chris Hood and I do a lot of things. I am a digital strategist and tech guru will say, and I currently work at Google. 


00:11

Chris A.
How did you get into being a tech guru at Google? What’s the path to get there? Yeah, let me take my notebook out one second. Right? Carry on. 


00:22

Chris H.
Yeah, I’m sure that’s a question. A lot of people are asking. The beauty of it is it’s actually fairly easy. You just go and apply and hope that you get a call back. I get a lot of calls and emails and messages. How can I find a job at Google? The first thing I do always is say, go to Google careers, do a search, find a job that you’re interested in and apply. Sometimes it really is that simple. Now, granted, there’s a lot more on top of that. You are going to have some experience in the role that you want to be in. You’re going to have some flare to you and in terms of personality and interest and things like that, which we can definitely get into, but really it’s about following your passion. I think for a lot of people, they’re just looking for a job and it’s not necessarily something they’re passionate about. 


01:21

Chris H.
I think that’s the big key here, especially in technology is those individuals who can still express their passion for something are going to be more successful than just say somebody who’s in technology who just wants to have a technology role. 


01:37

Chris A.
Did you apply for a role in, or did they come for you? 


01:43

Chris H.
A little of both. Actually I was recruited, but in the process of being recruited, I then applied. My story is a little interesting. I actually was doing some freelance and consulting work for Google and I was doing that for about a year. They liked what I was doing for them. They said, you should apply because I think you would be a great fit for this particular role we had. I went through the process and I did it and, but I had my choice. Right. I, I could have done a or B type of thing, but I decided to, yeah, why not? It’s Google. I’ll take a leap of faith here and I’ll apply. See what happens and it all worked out and I’m very happy about it. 


02:29

Chris A.
It something that you and you wanted to work for Google for a while before you actually landed that? No. 


02:35

Chris H.
Oh, well look, if I could go all the way back to my starting job career, all the way back into eighties, 


02:47

Chris A.
It was unintentional coffin. 


02:50

Chris H.
I remember I was working at a retail software store and this gentleman came in and I was helping him solve a problem with his computer. Again, this was in eighties, no one had computers, we didn’t have the internet. He said to me, you would be great at my company. You should come and apply. I was like, yeah, I just wrote it off as some crazy dude. I look back on that moment and I’m thinking, heck, that guy could have worked for Microsoft or something. You know, I don’t know. I, I just didn’t think about it in that context at that time. Throughout my career, it was always this well, it would be cool to work for Microsoft. It would be cool to work for Google once they became Google, it’d be cool to work for these companies, but there was a lot of things in the way, right? 


03:46

Chris H.
My own mindset was in the way now I would never get hired at Google. My location was in the way, well, Google is up in Silicon valley. I can’t move up there. I can’t work up there. So I can’t do that. You know, Microsoft is up in Seattle. I can’t go there. Right. I put all of these roadblocks in my way to say, well, I can’t work for all of those companies that I would like to work for. For me it was simply, oh, a fantasy. Oh yeah, that’d be cool working for them, but I’ve got other things that I need to focus on. When there was an actual opportunity to work for Google, I didn’t even really think about it because I was like, oh yeah, here’s another company. And they need my help. I’m just going to go apply. All of a sudden, I remember getting the offer and I was like, holy crap, I’m working for Google. 


04:43

Chris H.
This is, but the scenarios are all completely different. I can work remote. I can travel for work. And I have the skill set. Now, at least I feel comfortable enough saying I have the skillset now to be able to do what I do at Google, but it was a journey. It was a lengthy journey. Mostly with me being in the way of it. 


05:09

Chris A.
Did you ever have a plan at any stage in that career of like, this is the path that I want to take to get from where I am now to, the next step rather than not necessarily the end goal. Cause obviously you’ve just found yourself at Google seemingly, but did you have a, like a, a plan that you woven from working in that computer store? 


05:29

Chris H.
Yeah. I tell this story a lot and I went from a computer store to working at a movie theater. At one point in time, I actually did both. I had two jobs in high school, senior year in high school. One was working part-time as a assistant manager at the software store at the local mall. I worked part-time as basically selling popcorn and cleaning theaters at the local movie theater. As I started to spend more time at the movie theater that was directly hitting my passions, my interests, I liked movies. I stopped working at the computer store because I thought in my head, well, this is really not going to go anywhere. I need a career that I think is going to take me somewhere. One day I want to direct movies. I’ll stay at the movie theater because that’s going to get me to where I want to be directing movies. 


06:27

Chris H.
I did a lot of work at theater, moved up, became a manager, actually started to do some marketing. I learned a lot of business and marketing skills working with that movie theater. That started to transpire into my degree program at college, same thing. I was like, well, I’m going to go into television and film production because that’s a solid career as opposed to computers, because at the college, at that time, there was no computer classes. There was very little interesting computers just in general. I just thought it was a hobby. So w what. 


07:05

Chris A.
Times are we talking? Is this a pre-internet. 


07:07

Chris H.
I presume, yeah, this is a 1990, we’ll say 89, 90 91. Okay. As we fast forward and the Dawn of the internet materializes, I start to see this trend. I start to see that we have a lot of businesses that need websites, and I have this media and entertainment style of background. I know I can create websites because I have the technical skill and I know media. I’m going to bring all that together and start producing websites, which I did. I built my first website in 1995. From there I saw a tremendous shift starting to happen to technology, obviously, internet, boom, lots of things happening, all these startups. I left the media and entertainment type of mindset and went to college, got my degree in it, and then went on to get my master’s and business. This big convergence happened, this, a convergence of technology and business where business needed to leverage technology, to reach a new audience, to get to people, new markets, make more sales branding, whatever it was. 


08:36

Chris H.
That was what the internet was becoming. Companies were really struggling with bridging the gap between their technology teams and their business teams usually, and a great story. I went to work at a company once I was the CTO. I asked the question, how does the developers and the technology team talk with the business to understand what we have to produce? They said, we don’t, we just throw our request over the wall. We hope we get a response back. I went to the business team and I said, how often do you talk with the technology team to tell them what you need and how it’s going to be built? They’re like, never, we just throw it over the wall and hope they do what we ask them to do. I’m like dudes, like we need to get you into the same room so that we’re all talking together so that we can hear what each other needs and wants and how we can be successful. 


09:31

Chris H.
That was really the epiphany, right? That was the moment where I said, this is a skill that is lacking in a lot of organizations. It’s ability to bring the business and the technology together to make these wonderful decisions that are ultimately going to impact customers, create better customer experiences, create better customer demand and bring customers in. That’s ultimately what I continue to do from say the mid nineties, all the way to now working at Google and at Google, this is what I do every day. I talk with customers and we work through those problems and we try to find ways to bring the business perspective and the technology perspective together so that we can create business value for customers. 


10:19

Chris A.
When you started identifying that in the mid nineties, I mean, this is like the very core of the agile movement. This something that obviously the agile principles manifested, et cetera, was 2001. Was there a community was at the time in the mid nineties, had other with other people with that we’re identifying these trends and these issues, 


10:41

Chris H.
I think on some level, yes. The probably a few geeky people like us, maybe, what you saw in the nineties was really this exploration phase, right? Well, we’re going to explore what’s possible on the internet. We had tools like Macromedia flash that could do all these really crazy things. 


11:03

Chris A.
First started learning how to program. 


11:06

Chris H.
Yeah, there you go. We had the beginning stages of different tools from like Microsoft and things that basically allowed you to create web pages with drag and drop. There was a lot of things and it was really all exploratory. The big movement, obviously in the mid nineties was also blogging because there was no such thing as a blog and say 95, but then by 97, 98, 99, all of a sudden you had other services like blogger and WordPress and these Drupal, these foundational web properties that we know today, all were really in their infancy, trying to figure out how to leverage the internet. What you would find is you might go to a conference. I remember going to like my first concert conference, which is primarily video games. There was not a lot of people there. What you started to figure out again was, wow, there’s a lot of excitement about what’s going on. 


12:20

Chris H.
Very few people who are really in it, if I look at like electronics entertainment expo in 1998 versus an electronics entertainment expo in 2010, we’re talking about the difference of hundreds of thousands of people, right? You started to connect with people in those very small intimate settings and talk and philosophize. Sure. And, you know, just discuss things. I think that’s really, again, if you look at it was an experimental and a growth phase. Obviously it went too fast. We hit the internet, boom, pop the boom, in 2000 the bubble, 


13:15

Chris A.
The.com boom. And then the.com bubble. I’m curious when you were, when you were identifying that there was problems with the teams not talking. I mean, it’s, I think it’s one of those age old problems, isn’t it? It still happens today on a daily basis that organizations have these problems where, or where different departments aren’t talking, where people open to having those conversations at that time, has it, has that changed over the last 20 years or so of, have we gone through cycles of teams want to get together and teams aren’t interested? 


13:47

Chris H.
Yeah. I think what’s interesting. You mentioned agile as an example, I think in the nineties, we’ll call it the two thousands. Now there was definitely a, an interest in getting people together to talk about what we’re going to build, but there is still a separation. There were still these silos, there are still us versus them when agile started to become a thing and granted in a lot of organizations, agile still, isn’t a thing. It’s the number one development methodology out there in the planet. You can go to any number of companies. They’re like, oh, we can’t do that. Which is mind boggling to me. I think when we got agile practices, it was almost like they were forced to start talking together. You, you had to bring people together to go through what your backlog was and vetting, what you wanted to build the problem of business and technology talking together. 


14:52

Chris H.
It definitely still exists today. The silos are still there and there’s still an us versus them mentality. I think it’s gotten a little better because I think people now understand that in order to achieve your business goals, you have to have the right technology team who understands those business goals. I think the communication is happening a lot more often and collaboration is happening a lot more often, but what it really boils down to, I think is there’s a mindset shift that has to happen. People, when you talk to them, like we are in this capacity, they go, oh yeah, I get it. Well, why aren’t you doing it? I don’t know. In the heat of the moment, like just on a daily basis, you go into work. They’re not just, they’re just not thinking in that way. It has to do their job and we have to do our job. 


15:52

Chris H.
Unless you have it rooted into your culture where you are collaborating on a daily basis and there is rhyme and reason and expectations for that collaboration, if that’s not rooted in that culture and it just doesn’t happen because people just are busy and they’re not thinking about it. 


16:13

Chris A.
Yeah. I’ve experienced this recently as well, actually with them, I’ve been working with one company for the last couple of years and we’ve been going through transformations, but we’ve actually just had the first onsite. Cause obviously it’s not off sites anymore. They’re on sites, the rarity of having, 10 or 12 people in a room. It’s amazing how much more stuff you can get through when you are, when you have that. Co-location and actually everybody’s heading towards the same goal. I think the other thing that’s interesting around the agile and more lean methodologies is that sometimes I think you talk about people being busy often it can be counter-intuitive to make some of the changes. I think I’ve seen it quite a lot where people identify there’s a problem in the process, or there’s a problem that teams aren’t talking to one another. They will, over-engineer a solution to that rather than just getting people in the same room. 


17:10

Chris A.
Is that something you’ve seen as well? 


17:14

Chris H.
Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I th I think the biggest pro how many times have you gone into a company and you ask, are you agile? The first response is, yes, the next box is, well, agile ask or agile, light agile, 


17:38

Chris A.
Or literally, yeah, 


17:39

Chris H.
Yeah, exactly. Or agile or agile fall or agile, Hal. 


17:47

Chris A.
Or fragile. I think that’s my favorite. 


17:51

Samuel
The issue is that no one wants to kind of claim that they’re doing it because there’s probably someone out there who’s going to say, well, you’re not doing this one little thing. So therefore you’re not agile. There might be a bit of fear of being called out there. If people do say they’re doing agile, 


18:07

Chris A.
I’ve seen, I’ve seen the opposite today. It’s like, no, we are agile. We don’t need your help go away. It’s like, well, let’s poke at that more. Are you actually agile? You know, 


18:18

Samuel
W which came first few, I’m just trying to put timeline CEO. We spoke about agile being kind of 2001, whatever, where you saying, these silos need to speak and communicate together. Agile kind of came into your peripherals and you were like, ha, this is the answer. Or was it you kind of knew about agile and you were the forefront of bringing that to people’s attention. 


18:45

Chris H.
It was the first actually, quite honestly, I don’t care if you do agile or not. Quite honestly, agile has nothing to do with, if your business is going to actually be successful by collaborating with each other, agile is a great tool that can help expedite that collaboration. It’s a great way for you to go through the process of producing things that meet needs of your stakeholders. Look, collaboration is simply two people agreeing to sit down and talk. If you can’t do that, there’s a bigger problem. And I’m going to go back. You know, you’re talking about agile. I think really the answer here is every single company out there believes they’re different. Because we’re different, we have to have a different flavor of agile to meet our specific needs. They over-engineer, and they add all this stuff in because that’s how they do business because they can’t possibly comprehend how they could leverage the true agile framework and make that work within their unique environment. 


19:56

Chris H.
The fact is not, there’s not a single business out there that is different. This is the hardest thing for people to understand, especially in technology, because every single technologist believes, well, we can’t do that. We’re different. You’re not, here are some examples. Do you have customers? The answer is yes. Every single other business out there on the face of the earth has customers. Do you care about security? The answer is, yes. Do we can break it down into the most simplest terms. Every single business on the face of the planet is the exact same. If you choose to alter your processes and procedures and how you collaborate and how your teams are structured and everything else, and you want to adapt agile to meet those needs and practices, that’s fine. At the end of the day, you still need to get somebody from business and somebody from technology in the same room, so that you can understand what you want to accomplish for your customers. 


21:04

Chris A.
I agree. 


21:06

Samuel
I want to, again, I guess some more clarification now, and I, the festival is your job title, digital guru at Google, or I just want you to call yourself. 


21:20

Chris H.
I, that was the first word that came to mind in my intro. My role actually is head of business innovation and strategy. I talk a lot about innovation and cultures of innovation and digital strategies. I really simplify it as I’m a digital strategist. My goal is to really help companies develop strategies so that they can be successful. 


21:45

Samuel
I resonate a lot with that cause because I would describe myself as a very similar, trying to do something very similar, but where I’m struggling to place, your day to day almost is I can imagine a consultant coming in, helping them do that with like a specific project or product or something was, what is your kind of day-to-day at Google having? Well, I, again, I’m just, I try to place what it is you’re doing from a day-to-day. Could you dig into that ? 


22:17

Chris H.
Yeah. So you basically touched on it. It’s, it’s a consulting type of role. My role is actually twofold. I spend a lot of time in marketing, thus my podcast, and I spend time producing the podcast, creating digital strategies on the podcast that we can then share with our customers and listeners. My other half is a customer consultant. So I do that. I will be called in to go into a business, sit down with them, whether it’s their executives or a team, if they’ve got a challenge, they’re trying to figure out how to do something. If they’ve got a new idea and they’re trying to figure out how to solve that idea or make the idea reality. If they just need help, I spend time bringing the business and technology teams together to figure out how to collaborate and develop these ideas, digital transformation. It’s kind of a cliche word or phrase now, but there’s a lot of companies that are trying to go through that digital transformation and I’ll go in and consult with them on how to think about it and how they can move forward with that. 


23:30

Chris H.
So, yeah, my role on a day-to-day basis is a combination of marketing, digital strategy and consulting with customers. 


23:39

Chris A.
The golfer from the Google, from the, as if there is the Google, it’s hidden in a COVID somewhere. The goal from Google’s perspective is that to get more people using Google cloud products. Is that the goal? 


23:53

Chris H.
Sure. Why not? 


23:57

Chris A.
Is there a more nefarious goal? 


24:01

Chris H.
Look, I think all smart businesses engage with their communities and engaging with your community does a couple of different things. It gets people interested in your products. It potentially gets people to use your products, but it also gives us insight as to what our consumers are, what people want. The biggest challenge, I think for a lot of organizations is really diving into understanding consumer needs and expectations, and then adapting your products to meet those expectations and needs. If, and companies who are doing that very well, like Google is why all of a sudden you come up with a new product and you launch it and everybody’s like, oh my gosh, this is exactly what I needed. Well, we’re talking to people about it. 


24:51

Chris A.
That’s really interesting. It’s almost using a certain level of what would be traditionally professional services as market research to a degree. 


25:02

Chris H.
Sure. Yeah. I mean, there’s still market research that I think has to go on, but there’s a lot of market research that you can do directly from within your community if how to gauge that interest. Right. Which is again, I think a piece that some companies might not think about. Yeah. I think we are leveraging social media a lot now to gauge people’s interests and to track the conversation. That can be a part of your market research. Obviously we’re doing market research from an industry perspective and customer perspective. You’re going to do your traditional polling and surveys to get an insight of what people want, but there is still this level of efforts that when we can engage directly with our customers, our consumers, our developer advocacy programs, it’s all about continuing to manage that relationship and build partnerships so that as we proceed with those individuals, we just have a closer connection and we’re able to accomplish more. 


26:12

Samuel
With that learning information that you’re gathering, how has that knowledge and learning and information then working its way into Google products, that knowledge is just in your head. Are you, are you then kind of asked to do a rapport or are you then consulted from within Google to then say, we think of doing this. 


26:33

Chris H.
Well, ask yourself, how is stuff in my head getting extracted by Google? 


26:39

Samuel
They just know they just think about. 


26:41

Chris H.
It. I’ll leave that out there for a moment. Maybe I’ll put it in another way. Data is king. A lot of people used to think content is king. Content is nothing more than data. Data is really the king of everything is in everything we do. Data is basically the world artificial intelligence, what you buy at the grocery store. It’s all data companies who are able to look at understand process, analyze data, better tend to be more successful. That’s why a lot of our products from search to big query is all about looking at data. Data for Google is throughout our entire DNA. A good example of this is that we even have a team at Google called people, analytics, people analytics is the analysis of data. As it relates directly to the people who work at Google, this has done so that we can build a culture that is thriving, that people want to work for to make Google the best place in the world to work. 


28:00

Chris H.
We do that because we’re looking at the data and we’re analyzing it and we’re removing the bias in our decision-making. Here’s an example. You have a product you’re building a product. And I actually I’ll tell a story. I was consulting with a company. It was an e-commerce company. The CEO came to me one day and said, we are losing sales because people are putting stuff in their shopping cart and they’re not finishing the sale and they’re abandoning the shopping cart. Okay, great. Very common use case. The CEO said, I believe the checkout problem. The checkout process is very confusing and that’s why people are abandoning the cart. So let’s change the entire checkout process. And I said, well, wait a second. Do you know that? That’s what it is. Yeah. I’m pretty positive. That’s what it is. No. Do we know that’s what it is? 


28:59

Chris H.
Yeah. That’s what it is. I’m like, how about if we do a survey, we’ll set up a system, we’ll ask people why they are abandoning their carts and we’ll send them a coupon. One, if you answer this quick question, you get a coupon and hopefully we can drive them back to complete that sale with a coupon. So we did that. We received a thousand responses. We had one question. The question was, why did you abandon your cart today? And it was multiple choice. The multiple choice was checkout process was too confusing. The cost of the product was too high. I didn’t find what I was looking for. The information was inaccurate, whatever I, there is like five, multiple choice. We got a thousand responses and it was by far, no question like 90% of the people said the cost of the product was too high. 


29:51

Chris H.
1% said it was too confusing, which I think they just clicked on the first response to get the coupon. I presented this back to the CEO and I said, look, the data clearly shows that the price is too high. The CEO’s response was no, I don’t believe that let’s change the checkout process. Now this is an example of a bias. This is an example of, this is what I believe the situation is or the issue is, and I’m going to ignore the data and I’m just going to do what I want to do. 


30:26

Chris A.
Is that company still in. 


30:27

Chris H.
Business? No, they are not. It’s a great, it’s a great question. No, they are not because that’s the key here. If we go back to data is king and you think about like people analytics, there’s a lot of times where you might want to make a policy change for your organization and you’re thinking, well, we’ll take like work from home as an example. Well, we’re just going to make a blanket work from home policy now because that’s what people want. Well, that’s your opinion. And that’s a bias. Let’s actually ask our employees to see where they would prefer to be at work. Our people analytics team actually sent out a survey and they asked a lot of interesting questions. One of those is where would you prefer to work in the office or at home? Where do you feel like you’re more productive in the office or at home? 


31:20

Chris H.
When we got the responses back, what we found was it was actually an even split. There was about 50% that wanted to work from home at 50% that wanted to work in the office. 50% that felt they were more productive at home. 50% that felt they were more productive in the workplace. And there was other questions. The policy was made based on the data, not on somebody’s initial gut instincts or bias. If you apply that process across everything you do within an organization, how you manage your products, like in the e-commerce example, how you manage your people, like in the people analytics example, how you manage other things, your processes, your agile, et cetera. If you’re doing it in that way and removing that bias from your decision-making, you’re going to always find that you’re going to be more successful. It has proven, this is how Google handles it. 


32:18

Chris H.
This is how a lot of big businesses like Amazon and Microsoft all handle it. They look at the data and make decisions based on the data. 


32:27

Chris A.
Yeah. It’s very enlightening that’s, that this is how you should be making decisions. What I’m curious of is if Google’s out there collecting all of this data, for example, the data you’re getting from going out and speaking to various partners, whatnot, do you have to be looking at a certain subset area of the data in order to come up with a decision to generate a new product? Do you already have to be looking for where there are gaps in the data, or do you have any other way of processing that data to identify bigger gaps? If that makes sense? 


33:00

Chris H.
Well, the great thing for Google is that we have products that do that for us. A big query, right? Big query and data analytics is designed to process big, large volumes of data from a lot of different sources. 


33:17

Chris A.
So, so how does that get into actually being, becoming a new product though? Like if you’re able to use the data to identify, here’s a thing. We have spotted anomaly in the data, a disruption and the space-time continuum. How, how does that then become let’s form the product team around this? We develop a new product and then we start testing the waters with, is this actually fulfilling what we thought it should do? Based on the data we had, 


33:48

Chris H.
There’s a lot of different ways at Google where we explore ideas and products and things. One of them is what you just outlined. It’s exactly what you just outlined. Hey, we found maybe anomaly and data. We’ve got this idea, let’s explore it. Let’s build a prototype. See how it works. Let’s go to market with some concepts, all of that. And it doesn’t happen overnight. I mean, these are lengthy processes and evaluations, but we also have two other mechanisms by which we come up with new product ideas at Google. This is all around building a culture of innovation. This is another challenge for a lot of organizations, because typically they have a, we’ll call it an innovation team that is assigned to come up with new ideas, whether that’s directly associated with your product team or not. 


34:48

Chris A.
It always feels like a bit of anti-pattern to me, that’s exactly, 


34:52

Chris H.
That’s exactly it. It’s anti-pattern every single person within your organization needs to be a chief innovation officer. They need to be empowered to be able to go out and create ideas. That’s what we do at Google is there’s two mechanisms by which we do this. The first one is very easy. We have what we call a 20% rule, a 20% role. When you get hired at Google, you are hired for a particular job. So we’ll call it a senior engineer. You’re going to be a software developer. And in most companies, that’s your role. A hundred percent of your time you’re working on that role at Google. We want people to grow and prosper and explore and have opportunities to learn, try new things, innovate on our behalf. And so we create this 20% opportunity. What that means is 80% of your time can be dedicated to the job you’ve been hired for. 


35:47

Chris H.
20% of your time can be leveraged to go off and do something else that might be learn a new skill that might be collaborate with another team and join them on a project so that you can learn something. It could be any number of things. Once you are now empowered to go off and do something, some of our employees say, what, I’m a software engineer. I have the skill, I have this really cool idea. I think I’m going to explore it. I’m going to take my 20% time and come up with a new idea. That’s not even going through the general data analyst process or the engineering and product definition process or the market research product. This is just one guy, one person, one individual at Google sitting there in their 20%, creating something new and then expose it. And what does it do? Maybe it works, who knows, but if we didn’t give them that time to do that, it would never have gotten done. 


36:46

Chris H.
That’s another way that we can create new products. De. 


36:49

Chris A.
The process of working in Google with this culture of innovation to support fostering of innovative skills does not anything creates people who are more innovative that could then go and do that elsewhere. Once they’ve left Google. Will they be more successful or is there something more, is there a difference in your mind between being innovative in Google and being innovative in your own company? For example, 


37:18

Chris H.
No innovation is the same, no matter where you look at it. When we talk about innovation also, it’s not always about capturing some lightning in a bottle, right? It’s not discovering electricity or creating the wheel. When we talk about innovation, it could also mean finding better ways to work. There’s a great story of a steel company. I can’t remember the actual steel company, but I believe it’s in Europe somewhere and they create a suggestion box and that was all, it was just the suggestion box. In that suggestion box in one year, they received, some hundred thousand different ideas. Out of those, they boiled them down to a couple and implemented a couple and out of the ones they implemented in one year, they were able to save the company over a million dollars in process costs. Now think about that. Any company out there where you can say, look, I can save you a million dollars a year annually by just making this change. 


38:22

Chris H.
I think most would be like, oh, okay, let’s do that. They came from people that you wouldn’t have expected them to come from. That’s the key here is to allow anybody to come up with ideas. Every single one of us have ideas we’re standing in the shower and we’re like, oh, that would be a cool idea. Or we’re talking with somebody, oh, that would be a cool idea. Some of us come up with more than others. Our entire history is ideas that people coming up with, things that have been successful, all you have to do is basically empower that and say, when you’re here, you’re allowed to come up with ideas and we’re going to listen to those ideas. We’re not just going to say, Hey, you can come up with ideas and oh yeah. Thanks Joe. Yeah. We’ll, we’ll look into this at some point in time. 


39:14

Chris H.
Yeah. Joe, I hope you’re. 


39:15

Samuel
Listening, 


39:17

Chris H.
Joe, you driving in your car right now, the red car. 


39:22

Samuel
Found to be one of them with Google being a data-driven company. Are there any brownie points or any kind of acknowledgement or encouragement to use that innovation time based on data or having some like marriage between those two things? 


39:42

Chris H.
You know, that’s a good question. I would say no, but I do think that your manager, so we’ll say like my manager might guide me and say, Hey, what are some of the things that you would like to do for your 20%? I give him a bunch of lists. My manager might say, I hear that we are trying to, accomplish whatever. Maybe your interests align with that. You can, you know, work on that. There’s also personalities involved here, right? Some people have the personality, we’ll call it an entrepreneurial mentality, a personality, they have an idea and they want to go and execute on that idea. Other people, they have the ideas, but they just don’t want to do anything with them. There’s other people who I’ll help you with whatever your idea is. But, I just wanna do something different on our job board, on our internal job board, we actually list our 20% projects. 


40:48

Chris H.
I can go just like a job and search through them and I can find something and I go, oh, here’s some idea on Joe’s red car having artificial intelligence. That sounds really interesting to me. I’m going to apply to this and say, Hey, I would like to help. And that’s not my idea. I’m just going to help somebody else’s idea. I think I have the skill sets to contribute to that. There are, I think, mechanisms in place to help guide us so that we’re still collaborating in that process. Most definitely if you’re an entrepreneur and you’ve got the mentality to come up with an idea and execute that idea, no one’s going to stop you on that either. I can’t. 


41:34

Samuel
Help stop thinking about Jake Knapp and his book sprint. There’s the three hour brand sprint that he’s gone on and productized and sold those ideas that were either used or developed in Google. I forget the story behind them. How has that relationship and is that allowed or encouraged to be able to then profit off of those ideas or anything like that? 


42:00

Chris H.
Yeah, absolutely. The great thing about Jake’s book sprint is that were able to take that and build internal workshops around it. So, as Google, we could go to a company, we’ll pick a company out of thin air, somebody like a target and conduct a sprint workshop. A full one week and just follow the guidelines that Jake outlines in the book. And that’s really exciting, right? Because these companies then start to see it not only from a Google perspective, but then they have an asset, this book that they can go and see as well and flip through it. What it really helped inspire, not just for benefit, but what it really helped to inspire was a lot of these companies were able to start looking at their processes, whether it was agile or the creative process completely differently. That had a lasting impact on a lot of businesses that we would go to because now you’re starting to instill some of that culture. 


43:16

Chris H.
If we go all the way back to what we started talking about, which is, agile is agile, that’s fine, but you have to have it rooted in your culture to have this communication between business and technology, sprint the book, allow those companies to start to implement that culture. For me, if I leave a company after consulting with them and I do nothing else, but get them to start thinking about things differently so that they can be more successful. I believe that’s success for me. 


43:49

Chris A.
We started with you being in the cinema. We talked about your involvement in games and you’ve carved a path through some of that throughout your career of video movies. You talked about your goal of wanting to direct a movie. Have you managed to do that yet? 


44:08

Chris H.
No, he’s not yet. One day. I promise you this one day I shall direct a movie, any studios out there looking for director, please contact me. So, yeah, I’ve been very fortunate because I’ve been able to merge my passions for film and media into my role. I’ve for a lot of great companies and studios throughout my career. The great thing about this was I have the passion and the experience and media and entertainment, and I can then bring in that technology component where it was still the same problem. How do we take technology and leverage that technology to create really unique and compelling customer experiences that are going to ultimately promote the brand of whatever it is. So, everything from something like American idol to, a show like Gotham, all of that, even though there’s a production element, we’re producing a TV show, there’s still technology behind that. 


45:20

Chris H.
How do we market that? Or stream that? How do we get that out to different platforms? What’s the experience of streaming, right? I’ve been really extraordinarily fortunate to take, all the way back to my days at the movie theater and be able to continue to apply that and then bring this element of technology and business together, directly into the media and entertainment space. 


45:43

Chris A.
Working in on that side of things for Fox, I guess it isn’t it with American idol and Gotham and things like that. What role were you playing in that scenario? Like where did you fit in the production versus the actual delivery of the current? 


45:59

Chris H.
Yeah, I was on more of the delivery and marketing side of it again. We’re talking about supporting consumer engagement with our content. That ranged from everything from simply the, a website or a TV show to an interactive website or the TV show. Like an American idol, as an example, you could log into a website and see, social media profiles of the contestants and vote for your favorite contestant and, an interact in different ways with them. Right? All of that kind of experience, as well as syndicating that content out to different streaming platforms at that time, the concept of TV everywhere, and being able to get different shows on any device was still relatively new and fresh. You know, you look at it today. I can log into my PlayStation and watch TV, right. I was basically at the forefront of a lot of that strategy. 


47:05

Chris H.
How do we move television from the traditional set top experience to a multi-platform type of experience across all of our devices? 


47:17

Chris A.
How, how do you find a role within an organization? Like a space for yourself, if you’re you have this mixture of different abilities. Cause I feel like there’s, I have some here in the, I, I tend to play different roles and I’ve got a background that also takes in like similar video, on demand delivery stuff for Amazon and the like, but I’m curious, how do you find a place to slot yourself in and say like, this is how I can bring people together. And these are the various different jobs. Do you, do you sometimes have to, I dunno, do you carve out your own role? Do you leave space for others to fill things that you could normally do? Or, I mean, how’d you slot in. 


47:58

Chris H.
Easily? Now? 


48:02

Chris A.
It was a long question with a very short answer. 


48:05

Chris H.
There are definitely elements of, trying to navigate and creating, some elements of my job that are unique for me. I think here’s the one thing that I can leave everybody with her or the listeners with is that if I look all the way back to my days at the software store or the movie theater, I’m still applying skills that I learned in those roles, in my jobs today. Again, we’re talking 35 plus years now, right? I think there’s a lot of people, especially some of your listeners who think I have the job is job a and I have to have skills for job. A and it’s got to be a one-to-one match, apples to apples, go and apply. I just don’t think that’s fair to you or a reality that we’re seeing anymore. All of your skills throughout your entire life are applicable to your career in some way. 


49:11

Chris H.
If you think about it that way, where even your job from 10 years ago, you’ve learned something and you could apply that into what you’re doing today. I think you have to add that to your bio or to your portfolio, especially for those who are looking to change their career. I was speaking with somebody a couple of days ago and they said, I’ve got a degree in fashion, but I’m looking to move into technology. What’s your advice. I go use your fashion experience in technology and his, well, I can’t do that. Why can’t you? Here’s some ideas in the video game space, every single gaming company out there is looking for some person who understands fashion so they can create costumes and outfits for their characters in retail. Right now we’re seeing an astronomical impact due to the pandemic where we’re getting full-sized mirrors, where somebody can stand in front of the mirror and see different outfits and how they might appear on you. 


50:15

Chris H.
Somebody who has that fashion sense can have a job in technology. This is not a stretch of the imagination. I don’t think we think about it in that way too much. A lot of people don’t again, I go back to, I’ve got a skill in Python, so I need to go find a Python job. If you love Python, go find a Python job and learn Python. That’s great, but it doesn’t mean that your experience from 10 jobs ago as a server in a restaurant, doesn’t apply. What’s the one thing that a waiter or waitress at a restaurant can bring to every single job that you have in your entire career. Do what that one thing is? Communication. You have to talk to people, you have to talk to strangers and customers. You can apply that to sitting around a table in an agile ceremony, talking about business and technology problems, but you have to make that correlation. 


51:16

Chris H.
For me, that’s all I’ve done is I’ve built correlations between what I’ve done in my past to what I can help people do today. I leveraged that and bring that all around so that as I’m talking and consulting with companies, the strategies and the innovation and whatever, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in a boardroom with a executive and they’ve said, we want to do whatever it is. I’m looking, oh, you mean like in Lord of the rings when they’re like, what? And I go, yeah, here’s the story. My media and entertainment still applies because there’s pop culture references or sports analogies, or, any number of things that are going to help you be successful in your career. And that’s how I look at it. 


52:05

Chris A.
I used the power of the analogy and the mental model. Isn’t it? I mean, I’ve always, I notice very early on that the people who were more senior and more successful seem to have better stories and abilities to actually create analogies and saying it’s like this, because it’s a thing it’s a mental model, a vision that you can get behind and bring everybody on the journey. 


52:27

Chris H.
Yeah. I, I totally agree. And you can think about that. Even in simple, we go back to Python. If you’re a Python developer out there right now, and you’re thinking, Hey, I’d like to do something more than Python. Think of every single possible analogy and story that you can come up with to explain why Python is incredible. And, and just that storytelling exercise will help you get farther because you can make those correlations between your experience and anything else. 


52:58

Samuel
Plus it makes it more fun, to say that I can now bring movie into my development career. I resonate a lot with that and it’s very refreshing to hear because, I have a high, had a very diverse education. I was actually very angry with the course I was on because I had no direction. It wasn’t, it wasn’t clear cut. I was doing a bit of editing, but of music production, some websites, and now we might, and that was now, I really appreciate that diversity because it introduced me to a lot of things and all of those things have really had an impact on what it is I do now. I’m able to just smash those things together and it’s like, it’s just more fun for me. So yeah, really refreshing. I do feel like we need to bite. We’ve heard it a few times now, Chris, what game are you playing? 


53:47

Samuel
What’s what’s this? How is this video game nonsense fitting into all of this? 


53:54

Chris H.
Oh, well right now there’s two games that are on my computer that I’m switching back and forth between the first one is league of legends. New season 12 started this past week. On my climb back through platinum, for anybody who is playing, you can ping me and try to find me. The other game that I’m playing is star wars, the old Republic online multi-player game. They’re getting ready to launch a new update in February. Bringing some additional storylines to that and excited about that. Otherwise I spend a lot of time on my mobile device, just playing crazy games. I let’s see if we can, the game that I just downloaded, like yesterday that I’m addicted to is called. We’ll see how many people start downloading this it’s called downhill. 


54:56

Samuel
Oh, it’s not like a 2d thing where you’re on a bike. 


54:58

Chris H.
Something. Yeah. But, okay, this is great. It’s called downhill smash and I’ve got it up on my screen here. They basically, those games, like you just said, you’re on a motorcycle and you’re going downhill and you’re jumping up and you’re, and you get to upgrade your tires and things like that. They basically took that concept and angry birds and put it together. Now you’re rolling down the hill in this like tank type of thing with all these guns and you can upgrade and you’re going through, and you’re killing zombies that are in structures and the structures get increasingly more challenging and woods stone and metal, and you’ve got to upgrade so that you can get through the zombies. It’s absolutely addictive. I’m telling you. So congratulations. 


55:47

Chris A.
It sounds like one of those flash games you would have seen in like the early two thousands or something. 


55:52

Chris H.
Totally. Totally. Yeah. 


55:54

Chris A.
But also sounds great. 


55:57

Samuel
It’s such a chaos. 


55:58

Chris A.
With you mentioned the star wars old Republic one, and that said that’s an EA game, I suppose. And you were atta EA, right? There a connection that is there a connection that goes all the way through? 


56:12

Chris H.
No, unfortunately, no. I left EA way before that game was produced my background. It was always in massive multiplayer, online gaming. So that’s where my passion is. And, and I love RPGs. So, star wars is a great fit because it’s an online game with multiplayers and there’s a lot of great storytelling involved with it. So. 


56:39

Chris A.
When you, when you got involved with the EA originally, what was that your first foray into games because you’ve got games companies throughout your career. Right? 


56:50

Chris H.
Actually my very first website that I ever created was a gaming website. My goal was crazy as it sounds, my goal was to publish bugs that were in the game to bring awareness to those bugs so that the developers would fix them. Now there’s a lot of controversy to this because the developers said, well, just send us a support ticket and we’ll fix it. In that day, very Dawn of online gaming. And, if you think about even the evolution of games, if you had an intender, if there was a bug in it, I mean, those cartridges still have the bugs and them, right? Yeah. They’re features now when we started to switch from like cartridge and CD to online, and this was also the Dawn of batch child, because we had now continuous development cycles. It wasn’t as easy for new online games to get into the routine of how to fix those things. 


57:59

Chris H.
They were definitely not in an agile process. It was in like a waterfall that would, they were conducting every month, right. For a patch. I was publishing bugs and trying to build the developer community. That was my very first website, 1995. What came out of that was a job offer to EA to help them solve some of these problems, which, I did for about a year or so. I moved on to some other things, but I had been, I mean, all the way back into the eighties, when I was working at the software store, I was selling video games too. They were there on the shelf. Games had always just been a passion of mine. I did a couple of startup projects here and there. I helped start a video game company back in 2009. I’ve been a part of the international game developers association, which is a great nonprofit. 


59:04

Chris H.
Any of you who are looking to get into the gaming space, you can go join this association and they’re helping people better understand that the game space in general, help you find jobs within the game space, lots of great resources, there’s SIGs that are out there to, that you can get involved with. International game developers association, IGA, where I was the chair for in Southern California for several years. Yeah, I I’ve just had gaming in my background, for over 40 years probably. 


59:42

Chris A.
You said six, then I’m not sure I understand that to. 


59:46

Chris H.
Special interest groups. 


59:48

Chris A.
Okay. 


59:48

Chris H.
SIG S I G. 


59:51

Chris A.
Sometimes I show, I struggle with those TLAs, the three lesson abbreviation, sorry. It’s a terrible judgment. Yeah. That’s I mean, I think that’s fascinating though, having the idea of a special interest group in places that you can go to find out about it. Cause I think, I feel like it’s a harder industry to understand what skill set you need to get into. Am I wrong in holding that association, 


01:00:20

Chris H.
There is a challenge in the gaming industry and there’s a catch 22 that we, the gaming industry tends to want to hire people who have previous game experienced. Yeah. Well, how do you get previous game experience? If you can’t get a job in the gaming company, there are a lot of companies that will hire junior level gamers. They will tend to be attracted to students who have gone and gotten degrees in gaming or programming in some way around that the special interest groups are a good way as well, because let’s say you have a degree in cybersecurity. There is a special interest group for security video games. You could go get involved with that and you can express, your background and your interest. Like I was talking about, you just have to start building the bridges. I have a degree in cybersecurity. I love video games. 


01:01:19

Chris H.
I’d like to have a job. Where can I fit in and start looking for degrees or start looking for companies who are hiring security experts in the gaming space and they’re out there. So, the IGA is a mechanism by which you can start to build those networks and relationships. Think about it like LinkedIn, and they also have meetups. You can go to a local chapter within your area and meet up with other people who are either in the gaming space or looking to get into the gaming space and social network, all of that. 


01:01:56

Chris A.
That’s good. I think it’s that extracurricular stuff you almost have to do if you’re right at the start of your career, how would you start wedging into make yourself stand out? I suppose, like, I guess you could probably start by at least if you’d created your own little game and published it somewhere, you could say, oh, well this is of something I did, ? 


01:02:15

Chris H.
Yeah, absolutely. There there’s tons and tons of tutorials out there on building your own game, whether you want to build it in JavaScript, or if you want to build it in, a 3d tool or an engine like unity or unreal engine, I mean, you could go do it on your own and demonstrate what you are capable of doing, and then build a little portfolio that you can take to a job interview. Yeah, it’s a combination of networking, talking and meeting with people and building your skills. I think a lot of times people just want to skip over the skills part, but I think it’s a critical piece of it as well. 


01:03:00

Chris A.
Yeah. I think we’ve covered a good common theme about people and network throughout this conversation. And that how important that is. 


01:03:09

Chris H.
You mentioned people that brings me back to one other idea that I always share and it’s around this correlation and building these stories. And that’s what this concept of APIs. APIs application programming interfaces, and it’s a very basic concepts, APIs connect systems together and applications together. For those technical people out there, they know that API has have a lot more involved with them, but here’s the great piece of that. It brings back what you were just talking about. I always think that application programming interfaces is too technical of a term for what APIs are actually doing for us today. Avi’s are in everything that we interact with. Every single thing you do in your life. There’s an API behind it somewhere guaranteed. I tend to refer to them now as application people interfaces, because what they’re really doing is it’s connecting people together through the technologies that we’re using. 


01:04:20

Chris H.
Social media is nothing more than an application. People interface your ability to order Starbucks and go pick up a coffee. It’s a person who’s making that order to another person who’s fulfilling that order. There’s still people involved with all the technology that we end up engaging with on a daily basis. There are still people who are your customers that you have to fulfill their needs and expectations to be successful and are still people that are within your business and technology that have to come together so that your organization can be successful. It’s all about the people. 


01:05:01

Chris A.
Application people into faces. I like that. I think we’ve got a name for the show. 


01:05:10

Samuel
We’re just about ready to wrap up, but I have an interesting, I think that’s a good segue to my final question. That’s around web 3.0 and all the rest of it. We, we spoke briefly before the call about VR and obviously matter versus a big topic at the moment as an innovation ambassador for Google, what’s your take on web three and the metaverse, 


01:05:34

Chris H.
It’s another technology that will get replaced in three years by another technology, We have four web five web six web, whatever. I mean, that’s the joys of technology is it’s ever changing, ever evolving, and it won’t stop. Look, wait, if we go all the way back to our like Macromedia conversation, were doing some incredible things with Macromedia flash that got replaced by, other technologies JavaScript, primarily HTML four HTML, five HTML, six HTML, 7, 8, 9. It doesn’t matter. We’re just going to continue to evolve technology and it’s going to evolve for really one reason to meet the people’s needs. That’s ultimately what technologies does in our lives. 


01:06:28

Chris A.
With the downfall of flash websites are a lot less flashy. If you excuse the pun, we still haven’t. I lived through it while I was intros used to get to a website with all of the dancing things, ? 


01:06:41

Samuel
Well, there, you just got to go on Aww awards, a rewards website there they’re full of those three JS, crazy. 


01:06:50

Chris A.
Yeah. Well, thanks very much for joining us, Chris, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. 


01:06:55

Chris H.
Thank you. Appreciate it.