6 Life Lessons I Learned From Next Caller

 

By: Vanessa Pena

Did you just graduate from college, buried under loan debt and can’t find a job? You are not alone! Recent data revealed that colleges are failing to teach students critical thinking skills, which are often linked to finding a successful job or thriving as a young professional. This made me reflect on my own experience as a student and got me thinking: Am I truly preparing for “real life”? Am I ready to enter the workforce, or to have my own company, as I intend to do, someday?

 This past January, I started a 6-month co-op program, during which I took a break from my studies to work as a full time employee at Next Caller. To give a little bit of background I am an Economics Major with a strong desire to start my own social enterprise in Ecuador. So, why a tech company? I first applied because the company values and culture resonated with my search for an entrepreneurial and passionate team. However, I certainly couldn’t grasp the way in which this experience was going to shape my thinking. After reflecting on my experience, I compiled 6 invaluable, life-long skills and lessons I learned:  

6) Creativity Is The Most Powerful Tool

Working as a Sales Development Representative taught me that if something isn’t effective, you have to rethink it. When you are trying to get a meeting with a C-level executive from a Fortune 500 company, an original, personalized email is your biggest asset. In sales, you will face many “NOs” and endless objections. However, the real art hides in overcoming each objection by asking questions and thinking outside of the box. Recently, there has been a lot of dialogue about artificial intelligence and how automation is going to replace human jobs. Machines aren’t likely to outsmart creative thinking and emotional intelligence, so this is definitely a vital skill to have.

5) Technology Is For Everyone

When I first started at Next Caller, I was unfamiliar with many of the technology terms, such as API, ANI, and spoof. After six months of being immersed in different markets and situations, I have an intimate knowledge of things that I could have never learned from college books. I realized that you don’t have to be an engineer to be curious, ask questions and to try to understand how technology really works. People are looking for ever-faster, simpler and more cost effective solutions. Technology is the best way to achieve those goals. Most importantly, I now see the power of technology, the fast pace at which it evolves, and the exponential change it can bring.

4) Embrace Constant Self-Evaluation and feedback

In order to make progress and have an impactful job you must have clear goals and actively pursue them. Every Friday, we did “wins and shout-outs”, where each member of the team talked about weekly goals, the progress that was made, and gave a shout-out or a playful “burn” to someone on the team. This not only increased accountability and transparency but also created a cohesive team working for a common vision. It showed me the value of acknowledging someone else's accomplishments, setting goals, and welcoming constructive feedback.

 3) Good and On Time Is Better Than Late and Perfect.

Nowadays, change is the only constant. Next Caller showed me that things move at a crazy pace. Sometimes a product has to pivot 180 degrees from the original idea in order to fit a market. The important part is to get things out there and to test them, with real people or companies. The same principle applies to life, instead of trying to find the silver bullet or the perfect solution, you have to start experimenting. As long as you keep improving and learning along the way, you will eventually thrive. For an aspiring entrepreneur, this is a priceless lesson that I can take with me.  

2) See the Person Behind Every Interaction

This notion applies to everything that Next Caller does. The first day of sales I was very nervous. My VP told me, "Always remember you are talking to a real person, just like you.” The fact that Next Caller was started with the purpose of helping businesses get to know their customers to foster mutual respect speaks volumes.  Now, every time I see a product, I see a team behind it writing code, selling, or marketing it.  As consumers, even if we only see the end product of the technology, we must not forget that there is a human behind the scenes making it possible. This increased my empathy and desire to genuinely approach people to know their story and learn from them.

Nevertheless, if I would have to choose only one lesson, it would be...

1) Invest In People and Empower Them

People are the engine of every company; each unique member has a story and an invaluable role to play. Once at Next Caller, the CEO told us that his mission is to make everyone in the company happy. I thought that this was a virtuous statement. A few words of wisdom from one colleague I took were: if you invest your resources in finding the right talent, you must empower people, trust them and give them the tools to make your company great. I had the opportunity to get to know and work with amazing individuals and managers that trusted me with tasks I didn’t even know I was capable of doing. There is infinite potential in trusting, combining different talents, and empowering people to achieve a common goal.

Thanks to this experience, I am armed with invaluable skills that make me much more confident as I approach my graduation day and pursue many exciting opportunities in my future. Although I am leaving an incredible team at Next Caller, I know that I will always be connected to this strong network of inspirational mentors and friends for life.

Vanessa Pena recently completed her Co-Op as part of the Sales and Marketing departments at Next Caller. If you are a potential employer researching Vanessa's background and experience, we would enthusiastically recommend her due to her marketing expertise, creativity, self-starter nature, professionalism, and collaborative mentality. 

Next Caller Takes Dallas

contributed by Ryan Cash

After a Q3 of hard work by the prospectors, the Next Caller team took a trip out to Dallas, Texas as a celebration of achieving our goals.  The trip there was by no means a unified effort. Individuals from the team were scattered about the United States, taking flights at different times from different locations, to congregate at the hotel. Each Next Caller employee entered the hotel at a different period throughout the night, droopy-eyed, messy haired, and equally un-presentable. Eventually, the concierge just stopped inquiring about our identities at check-in. Instead, a comment like, “Ah, you must be with the Kirchick party,” was commonplace.

The team napped through the early morning and hit late morning head-on, the healthy way, with a balanced breakfast of egg mcmuffins, hashbrowns and caffeinated beverages out of a can. Today was Texas State Fair day; a congregation of thousands of people joining together to eat fried food, listen to country music, check out the livestock and consume some choice adult beverages. In typical tourist fashion, the team decided to Uber over to the fair, much to Texas native Sam Espinosa’s dismay. However, the Uber did not disappoint Sam nearly as much as Jeff’s purchase of a cross-laden cowboy hat from the local 7-Eleven… When asked his thoughts, Sam said he was “disgusted.”

The Texas State Fair proved to live up to all of the hype. It was the day of the Red River Showdown, hosted at the Cotton Bowl, which pits two of college football’s most elite teams and rowdy fan bases against one another. It was a sea of crimson from the Sooners of Oklahoma and burnt orange from the Longhorns of Texas as far as the eye could see. Aside from Longhorn fan Sam, Next Caller played Switzerland and went with their home light blue colors, not having an affinity for either side. After some failed scalping attempts to get inside of the stadium for the sold out event, we gave up and decided to explore the rest of the fair.

While wandering around the massive fair grounds, the team encountered challenging, though provoking questions throughout the day, such as: “Would you like that fried or deep-fried?” and “Should we get one more corn dog?”  Ian’s responses were predictably: “the latter” and “yes.” Finally, once the number of corndogs consumed had become 3x larger than the number of people in the group, everyone was thoroughly satisfied.  Or thoroughly sick to our stomachs is probably a better term. This was more than enough to send everyone into the proverbial food coma, and they made their way to the stage for some sun-soaked midafternoon naps.

Midafternoon turned to late afternoon and the marginal value of more corn dogs had dropped significantly for all parties.  There were a few who switched over to fried chicken sandwiches (Ian) to induce some self-loathing, but otherwise, the feasting was basically over. Everyone headed back to the hotel for some relax time to recharge before heading out to spend a fun night out in Dallas. Jeff decided he was going to skip out on the night’s events, as he needed to rest up in order to properly root on his beloved Patriots and man crush Tom Brady the next day in their contest against the Cowboys. He stuck to his guns and ignored the onslaught of insults and persuasion by everyone else. As a purveyor of persistence, he is apparently immune to its effects.

Due to the State Fair and the impending Cowboys v. Patriots game the next day, there were people in droves at the local bar scene. Locals and tourists were everywhere, amicably socializing and recounting the exciting events from the day. There was an exhibition wrestling match held between Sam and Ryan.  Some would say the results could be summed up by the saying “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Others could say that 14 years of training had some influence. Either way it ended in a handshake and a late night trip to McDonald’s.  Under the unreasonable assumption that the food for the day had been digested, Leo decided to combine a McChicken and a McDouble into one sandwich.  Leo still believes it was a great idea. Others do not agree.

The next day, everyone hopped out of bed to get ready to tailgate the big NFL game.  Jeff and Sam put friendships aside for the day, sporting their respective allegiances to the Patriots and Cowboys. Colleen, trusted carrier of the Party Pass tickets, showed up just in time for everyone to get a good standing spot for the bum rush. Thanks to her extensive Dallas connections, Colleen had the opportunity to sit smack dab at the 45-yard line, avoiding the impending mayhem and having some of the best seats in the house. The tailgating festivities had live music and drinks, before an eerie quiet came over the crowd.

Everyone stood at the ready with 5 minutes until 1 o’clock. The second the doors opened, it became an “every man for themselves” bum rush to the best seats. Gianni turned sideways, and his slender frame allowed others to brush straight past him, leaving him unscathed, while others were trampled in the madness. A few of the quicker Next Caller team members darted out ahead to get a great standing location, and made themselves as wide as possible to secure our seats. With some great real estate secured, everyone settled in to watch the contest. Adding insult to injury, Sam owed Jeff his first $50 of food and drink, as the Patriots handily took down the Cowboys. Gianni decided to take a nap. Being an engineer from Italy, he could’ve sworn this was a “fútbol” game, and took more liking to the marvel of the stadium than the players in the contest.

Once the game ended, it was time to head back to the hotel and crash after a long weekend of fun. Members of the team parted ways on Monday at different times, leaving in similar fashion to their arrival. This time, everyone was a little less disheveled, and full of a few more memories… and corndogs, than when they came. Leaving the only unanswered question remaining, “where in the world will the next Next Caller trip be?”

The Pulse of a Startup

contributed by: Leo Inguaggiato

Walking into our office in Soho, you’ll be met with a sight that few in the business world have the pleasure of seeing. You’ll encounter a team of individuals happy to be working. At the same table you’ll find our CEO, COO, VP of sales, and business development team all sitting together finding the best verbiage for a flyer for our next conference.

The startup life is a gift that I encourage everyone to pursue. Each team member is happy to be here because all of our efforts make a tremendous impact on our company. It may sound corny, but we are blessed to function as a family unit where accountability and honesty are held above all else.

Next Caller may be the new kids on the block, and it’s always hard to make new friends, but when the new kid has a heart as big as ours it’s hard not to like us. We will save American companies from living in the dark about their clients, and allow them to know their callers one at a time.

“Into the Wild”: Next Caller Camping Trip 2015

Contributed by: Ryan Cash

A few weeks back, the Next Caller team took off for our first (of what we hope will be many) annual “Into the Wild” camping trip.  Sporting matching t-shirts, which displayed a questionable interpretation of the spelling of “Kaatskills,” we boarded the van for a supposed 2 hour drive.  First stop was Wal-Mart to stack up on supplies on the way.  In the name of efficiency, we took a divide-and-conquer approach, splitting into different groups who were responsible for obtaining different items.  And in about half the time, the team bought triple the amount of supplies that would be needed for the weekend.  Luckily, the trunk did end up closing after some skillful suitcase maneuvering by Camp Counselor Sam Espinosa  

Five-and-a-half hours later, the van pulled up to Devil’s Tombstone camp site with a car full of weary campers.  Tents and sleeping bags were distributed, and, in a matter of minutes, the group had set up shop.  Some of the campers were given heavily insulated, sub-zero, military grade, tundra sleeping bags to exacerbate the effects of the oppressive, summer heat, and to test their will.  We’re happy to report that everyone was smart enough just to unzip the bag and lay directly on top.

For health reasons, the team ate a well-balanced meal of grill meats and s’mores the first night, and eventually turned in relatively early to prepare for an intense bout of hiking the next morning.  Sensing the impending crack of dawn, Counselor Sam popped up in the pitch dark and startled everyone from their deep slumbers with a “Rise and Shine” call.  The droopy-eyed campers wolfed down some breakfast and woke themselves up with some instant coffee, which was almost indistinguishable from sweeping a pile of dirt off of the ground and adding it to a cup of hot water.

Everyone piled back into the van and we drove to the trails to begin the hike.  We began with an intermediate difficulty trail up to Sunset Rock.  Jeff Kirchick would argue that it was “advanced” difficulty.  In order to counterbalance the inevitable bulk the seemingly strenuous hike would add to his legs, Jeff made sure to hit copious sets of push-ups to maintain his upside down triangular figure. 

The team hit Sunset Rock without too much struggle, and proceeded to the more difficult trail up to Newman’s Ledge.  While the humans huffed and puffed in the back, team mascot and best friend of co-founder Ian Roncoroni, Muesli, was scaling all of the rocks and leaving the group in the dust.  We attributed Muesli’s success on the trails to her small size of 8 lbs to avoid the embarrassment of realizing that a trip to the gym or 20 was in order for the next week.

Finally we arrived at Newman’s Ledge and took a break to admire the view (catch our breath).  Thankfully, co-founder Gianni Martire insisted on taking photos at every turn, or the trip would have gone almost entirely undocumented.  The group headed down the mountain back towards the camp site to complete the 6 mile loop, which apparently was a walk in the park compared to our camping neighbors, who politely informed Leo that they were engaging in a 13 mile trek, blindfolded, without food or water… Or something like that.

Back at the campsite, Eric and myself began to set up Ladderball, which tested our resolve.  After 30 minutes and a struggling effort, Ladderball was all set up and ready to go, with two broken goal posts held together by used ice bags and tape.  The first and only match up was Ryan & Lucy v. Sam & Colleen, as the dead-even game extended over an hour in duration.  It was basically dark and nobody else even wanted to play by the end of it.  Keeping consistent with the health kick theme, Sam cooked up some Frito Pie’s, which consisted of a bag of Fritos filled with chili and cheese.  The Pies still proved to be insufficient, and Jeff and Ian engaged in a double-hot dog, Frito Pie eating contest.  Leo called a stop to the madness after about 6 hot dogs a piece.  It was called off for “safety reasons,” as everyone was concerned that they would not have enough room to close the night out with some more s’mores.

The campers retired to their tents, while Ian and Muesli retired to the hammock.  Everyone awoke the next morning in severe need of vegetables and showers.  The team cleaned up, packed up and headed back to New York completing their adventure.  After a weekend of great team bonding, the only question remaining was how many days until we go “Into the Wild” again.

Next Caller Welcomes Cas Hoefman to the Team

by Cas Hoefman
         In early 2014 I met Ian Roncoroni and Jeff Kirchick at ICMI in San Diego. After they introduced me to Next Caller and the services it provided I immediately saw the incredible potential this company had to make a real change in this industry that is crowded with archaic companies that have not innovated in years.
         I realized that Next Caller’s approach to the technical and financial aspects of their products were both innovative and disruptive in this market space and would drive a fundamental change to the way customers interact with company’s sales and service organizations.
        When Ian and Gianni approached me with the idea of joining their team I had absolutely no reservations, although leaving behind the team at Oracle, where I spent the last 7.5 years working with Oracle Service Cloud enterprise customers, was not easy.
         After just a short period on the job I must say that I am even more excited about the company now then I was when I first joined. We have an amazing team, amazing customers, and every time I speak with one of our current or potential customers about how we can help them make a difference for their customers, I get even more excited.
          Using my past experience at companies like Intel, XO Communications, RightNow Technologies and Oracle together with the four core services, Advanced Caller ID, Data Cleaning, Lead Validation and Fraud Detection Next Caller offers today will help us grow this company rapidly while we keep being innovative and disruptive in the industry.
         In following blog posts I will, in detail, describe how I think each of the different services is changing both our industry and can make an impact for the customers using these solutions! 

Ice Bar Pictures

Next Caller co-Founders Ian Roncoroni (left) and Gianni Martire (right) On behalf of the entire Next Caller team, a giant thank you goes out to everyone who attended our Happy Hour event at Call Center Week in Las Vegas, a week ago today! The turnout was so great that we had to extend the event another hour on-site! Thank you for braving the wintry conditions, we’re sure the free drinks didn’t hurt. A special thank you goes out to the kind staff at Minus 5 Ice Bar, who fulfilled their promise to throw an unforgettable party that everyone was buzzing about (with droopy eyelids) on Thursday morning. We also want to thank our friends at Zendesk, Genesys, and BluIP for co-sponsoring. Not even the house party in Superbad could come close to this. Look out for more photos soon on our blog…some photos will be left offline. -Jeff Kirchick (@JeffreyKirchick)

Next Caller co-Founders Ian Roncoroni (left) and Gianni Martire (right)

On behalf of the entire Next Caller team, a giant thank you goes out to everyone who attended our Happy Hour event at Call Center Week in Las Vegas, a week ago today! The turnout was so great that we had to extend the event another hour on-site! Thank you for braving the wintry conditions, we’re sure the free drinks didn’t hurt.

A special thank you goes out to the kind staff at Minus 5 Ice Bar, who fulfilled their promise to throw an unforgettable party that everyone was buzzing about (with droopy eyelids) on Thursday morning. We also want to thank our friends at Zendesk, Genesys, and BluIP for co-sponsoring. Not even the house party in Superbad could come close to this.

Look out for more photos soon on our blog…some photos will be left offline.

-Jeff Kirchick (@JeffreyKirchick)