Client Experience Manager
Jacey and I both grew up in Goshen, Indiana. We were two years apart grade-wise, so I did not know her well, but she always stuck out as someone with a sharp head on her shoulders. My sister, who is about as perfect and fair as they come (my brother and I caused enough trouble for my parents), gave Jacey the ultimate vote of confidence when she moved back to Indiana from Illinois: “Jacey is one of my favorite people in the world.”
We hired her, and that has proven to be a great decision. She’s patient, thorough, and not one to let to-dos fall through the cracks; plus, she makes solid jokes.
Client Experience Manager
Karlie and I met at a house party a couple years ago via a mutual friend named Haley. I remember leaning over to Haley after rapping with Karlie for fifteen or so minutes and asking, “Is she always this great?” The answer was yes. So, as soon as Corey suggested hiring another person on the client experience team, she immediately came to mind. Fortunately, she agreed.
Chief Operating Officer
Before we worked together, Conner and I shared a tiny apartment in Broad Ripple Village. Spending time with him made me a better person, and it left me in awe of his work ethic. When it came time to hire somebody to lead our partnerships and sales efforts, Conner was the obvious choice. Today, he oversees marketing, sales, partnerships, and client experience. Conner lives in Indianapolis with the love of his life, Lena, and a placid dog named Titan.
Before you get lost in the woods (or in a business), make sure Conner is with you.
Matt “Sheriff” Caudill
Matt is dry, even when it rains. He was introduced to our team by my dear friend, Jon. Jon is the funniest guy I know, so I was not surprised when I met Matt and his wit was sharp as a katana.
Matt started at Lesson.ly as an intern; then, we hired him full time as a writer. Now, he manages our sales and marketing systems. God only knows what he’ll be doing this time next year. Make Matt the butt of your joke sometime, and see what happens.
Director of Marketing
Mitch helps folks understand what we do, how we do it, and why. He’s married to Elyse Causey, who leads Indianapolis’s School of Rock, which is my way of telling you that he out-kicked the coverage by an astronomical unit.
Mitch does not stop smiling. Neither do the people around him.
Ryan has 50 bajillion followers on Instagram, all of whom love his scenic photos, many featuring positive captions about the wonderfulness of the world.
But Ryan could lose all his followers tomorrow and he’d still be just as cool. Why? Because he’s the kind of guy who gets calls from his friends when they are struggling with life and looking for comfort and reassurance; he’s the kind of guy who knows how to see the bright side and lead people through dark times. That is his gift.
Sales Development Representative
Scott Cook climbs, both physical structures as a rock-climbing coach* and personal hurdles as the wonderful, diligent person that he is. I have made a lot of mistakes in my time as CEO; waiting so long to hire Scott is up there among the worst. I am just grateful he had enough patience for me to get my act together.
*One of Scott’s nine-year-old rock-climbing students is ranked tenth in the United States.
Creative Learning Manager
Catrina leads our creative learning department. If everybody approached their work with her blend of focus and confidence, there would be no more talk of robots taking our jobs — those droids would not be able to keep up.
And get this: years ago, Catrina’s dad worked at the Stanley Hotel. He always wore a fedora and his coworkers called him Indy, after his home state of Indiana. Steven Spielberg got a room for a week one summer, speaking with Catrina’s dad on occasion. Years later, Mr. Spielberg made Indiana Jones. In short, Catrina is royalty.
Waseem’s LinkedIn profile led me to his design portfolio, which led to his office visit, which led to a job offer, which continues to lead to a lot of great memories.
Waseem is a student of human-computer interaction, and he brings a common design language and approach to Lesson.ly, improving usability and delight with every passing day.
Hang with him, and you will feel like this.
Josh just became a first-time father to a beautiful baby boy. That boy is alive because of a ping-pong ball that bounced off of a table and ended up between two reaching hands. One hand belonged to Josh, the other belonged to a woman named Megan. Josh did not know Megan before that moment, but now they are married, and she is the mother of his child.
Neat things happen to neat people, and Josh is nothing if not a neat guy. Thoughtful, hardworking, and appreciative of bad and good jokes alike, he joined our four-person engineering team and helped turn it into a stronger one. You can find him at his standing desk, wearing headphones.
Liz and I spoke on the phone for about nine minutes before Lesson.ly made her an offer. She was pumped, I was pumped, Conner was pumped, and Mike was pumped, so we didn’t waste any time. She accepted, rented a uHaul with her husband, Mitch, and drove here from Texas. Thankfully, months later, everyone is still pumped. Liz has a horse and the greatest telephone skills in Lesson.ly’s history. She also has two gigantic dogs who were spared by the asteroid that wiped out all the other dinosaurs.
Steve is a self-taught Ruby guy who studied philosophy in college. I tried to hire him many times in the past, but he repeatedly turned me down out of respect to his former employer, who had, at the time, shown him a tremendous amount of flexibility when he wanted to move from New Jersey to Indiana with his wife, Kate. That’s the kind of character I want on this team, so I just kept hounding him for months and months and months.
Eventually, he caved. What an honor it was when he did. What an honor it is to know him.
Brett “Hammer” Hamrick
Brett is a bizarre dude (he once ate orange peanut-butter crackers for breakfast every morning, by choice), so he fits in well at Lesson.ly. His only-child upbringing comes through via his generally reserved nature. But, once you get the guy excited about something (like growing a company or coaching youth basketball), his words come like water from an uncapped hydrant. The thing I like most about Brett is he acknowledges that he is bizarre (we are all bizarre, by the way; some of us just own it and others spend their whole lives anxious about it). Keep owning it, Brett.
Director of Client Experience
Corey takes care of our clients, providing them with the resources and guidance they need to achieve their goals. He’s married to the uber-talented lawyer Brittany Kime (again, coverage, out-kicked).
Like a lot of people, Corey has two ears. Unlike a lot of people, he uses them to be a damn-good listener.
Director of Sales
Matt and I were in the same Orr Fellowship class, which meant we spent a lot of time together right after college. I often told his now-wife, then-girlfriend Claire how one of these days Matt and I were going to work together. I wanted this to happen because he was personable and humble and confident and hardworking, and that’s the holy grail of characteristics.
The above attributes, plus five years of sales-management experience, make him the perfect person to lead our sales team.
Sales Development Representative
Ross is an Orr Fellow at Lesson.ly, and he just gets it done. No ego, no talk, all walk. I like people like that a lot. I first met him at a wedding, where he crushed a best-man speech in front of 250 people.
When we landed an interview with him months later, he was just graduating from IU and eager to try sales. Most people do not leave college seeking a sales role, but Ross was one of the enlightened ones. He knew how helpful sales experience would be to the rest of his career, and now we get to watch him take the bull by the horns.
Director of Engineering
Aaron once won Settlers of Catan with both the longest road and the largest army. I know; you’re thinking, “That never happens!” But, trust me, he did it.
Aaron speaks quickly and quietly, in inspired bursts, often leaving you smarter or happier than you were pre-conversation. Aaron lives with his wife, Noelle.
Technically, we would be lost without him.
Eric writes with the hopes of helping every company understand the benefits and best practices of employee learning software. He is a perennial go-getter, able to pick up this or that disparate task and capital D Deliver. Case in point: Mitch asked him to own our Instagram account, and he started making us look cooler than we are (love that).
Eric claims he knows nothing about fashion, but my girlfriend keeps commenting on how hip he dresses, so I am going to start saying I don’t know anything about fashion either and see what happens. Anyhow, I am proud to work with Eric and want to give a shout out to his parents for crushing it.
Jacob started with Lesson.ly as a contractor. He was so serious about his work, clear in his communication, and swift in his execution that literally every person on the engineering team separately told me they’d love to have him on the team.
So now he is, which means two things: we have a stronger product, and his calling card—a three-note laugh that he usually gives after impersonating something or someone—rings frequently throughout the office.
Director of Partnerships
One time I went out to breakfast with a guy named Mason and forgot my wallet. This was embarrassing since Mason and I were meeting for the first time. He jokingly told me that he would never let me live this down; nine months later, he introduced me to Katie. Three months after that, we hired Katie to lead our partnerships team, which is tasked with growing our reseller and partner networks.
Katie has a big job, but she is cut out for it. She brings amazing sales experience to Lesson.ly, complete with a heart of gold and a see-around-corners kind of brainpower.
Moral of the story: make Mason pay for breakfast and great things will happen.
Sales Development Representative
In 2010, Chris Baggott introduced JD to me over lunch. JD was running a nonprofit at the time, headquartered in an historic church building. He was kind enough to let me record a song in the church attic, and we started playing music together shortly after that. He would come to my cramped apartment on the weekends and we would record our simple songs with our simple equipment.
JD and I have long wanted to formally work together, so we jumped at the chance when it finally arrived. Three months into his role, JD shattered the monthly inbound-meeting record. I suspect his approachability and always-smiling manner played a big part in that achievement. JD is engaged to Carly, and they make a great team.
Mike has a knack for calming people down. If I ever get shot, he’s going to be the first guy I call to tell me it’s going to be okay. Or, maybe, an ambulance, and then Mike.
Mike is married to his better half. Together, they throw great parties.
I started a business before Lesson.ly that did not go well; Kyle was one of the most active users of that product. Now, we build products together and things are going much better. Coincidence? I think not.
If Kyle emails you with product feedback or guidance, don’t hire him (out of kindness to me), but do keep in touch with him. There’s no telling how much he might impact your future.
If you get a chance to sit down with Kyle and learn about his adult life, do it. Twists and turns galore that brought a lot of wisdom.
Evan works with Conner to connect more wonderful companies to Lesson.ly.
When he proposed to his fiancée, he used one of our office tables as a prop, so I take a lot of credit for her saying yes. Or, maybe it was the fact that Evan is so damn genuine and kind.
Probably a table+character combo.