James Lees is Upflowy's new Junior Application Specialist and their desire for growth and development make them a real asset.
Understanding Upflowy and product, an interview with Timothy Connell
Timothy Connell joins Upflowy as our new Head of Product, and we look into his journey, his processes and what the future holds for Upflowy.
Timothy Connell is Upflowy’s new Head of Product. When asked to simplify his role and journey he responded by saying he is the conduit between technology and people. Throughout his career he has helped solve critical problems and built great products, ensuring the meeting point between technology and humans is mutually successful.
We’re excited to have him here. Tim is a creative technologist, having logged over 20,000 hours of hands-on and exec experience. The experience ranges from Strategy, Innovation, Digital Transformation, Product Management, and all the way to Delivery.
Let’s dive into the questions we asked Timothy to get to know him a little better:
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
What am I doing today that excites me? This is a question I often ask myself.
I wouldn’t classify myself as a morning person, but when there is curiosity or a driving force, it becomes easy to wake up, I might even leap out of bed for the right things. If I return to bed at night still thinking about work challenges or puzzles, I know I’m in the right spot.
This is definitely the case with Upflowy right now. At this stage, there are many tough and wicked problems to unpack.
We’re building something that resonates with the market, but we need to manage our direction. Are we building something for the top end of town, elite operators who need specific degrees, or are we building something for everyone who can understand, use our product in 5 minutes, and immediately take value from it?
More broadly, I jump out of bed for:
- the craft
- the love for what I do
- doing something that’s making an impact
- making an impact with a bunch of great people
- to hear what those great people are up to
What was one of your key career growth moments?
I was working as a consultant in a digital transformation team, with organizations ranging from state health departments to payment gateways to industry associations. Helping re-imagine who they were and ensuring they were fit for survival, digital survival. Applying startup concepts to help their digital future.
My CEO reached out to our team. He has heard my customer relationships, and how they regularly sang my praises. He told us to immediately stop what we were doing and start something new. A consultancy within the business itself to find how they could be operating better. The catch? We’d have to fund ourselves. A startup within the company - serving the company itself whilst finding a new revenue stream without rails
I approached this like a puzzle and spoke to customers looking for pain points and commonalities. I use the term, the iceberg of ignorance, that those leading a company can only see the top of the iceberg, and it is the rest of the workforce workers (those at the coalface) who see the rest of the iceberg. Those are the people who have the answers.
I helped create, along with my incredible team, a crowdsourcing platform for innovation and ideation. We turned from a consultancy to a Saas company. The product would help you identify your major problems and priorities then helped you choose the right strategy, and ensure you executed them to the very end.
As far as the technology world is concerned, I’ve been a scout, trying to collect all the badges. Not so I could master everything, but so I could be the best partner in crime to those who have mastered their craft. At university, I studied the intersection of society and technology, understanding how tech shapes society. I wanted to understand what it took to build good technology. I then had to try my hand at all parts of a business. That included:
- marketing automation
- acquisition funnels
- pre-sales consultancy
- customer support
- digital transformation
- leading a team of architects and consultants
- working in Salesforce & Workato
- building content management systems
- writing books and more!
Working at Upflowy is the culmination of everything that I love, and I’m looking forward to being the conduit to ensure all levels of technology are perfectly meeting our customers. I come alive when my team and our customers succeed, it breathes life into me.
What would you change about the tech space?
I’ve found that technology is often too expensive, in order to get value, it’s likely you’ll need big teams and big money. Many current solutions for touchpoint builders or products that assist with customer journeys require a highly skilled team to map things out. Outrageous sums of money are spent before you’ve put anything in front of a customer.
At Upflowy we’re doing the opposite. You can quickly and easily put something in front of a customer that drives better results, and you can iterate on it for better results. You don’t need a massive team, a degree, or a million-dollar license. I believe that technology and the knowledge that makes the technology successful shouldn’t be difficult to access. The collective knowledge shouldn’t be hidden behind licensing and professional services.
Ideal team, what makes a great team? What are the dynamics that create success?
The ideal attributes for teams that I’ve worked with in the past have been transparency, openness, honesty, and vulnerability. There are a few rules that I’d bring to the team, but I’m a big believer in knowing you you work best, how your team works best and ensuring that you over-communicate.
Understanding how you best work (whether that be in 2-hour focus blocks, or needing to take a day off to tackle a problem better) ensures your bringing your A-game to the table. Harmony is created when a team is hyper-aware of each individual's methods of ensuring peak performance.
Overcommunication is helpful to ensure these work styles are clear but also assists with idea growth. If you have a nugget of an idea but you can’t quite articulate it, Try. You can then build your idea out with a team member. Be comfortable with saying “I don’t know, but I've got this thought”.
My role is to harness an open discourse. I develop and maintain a clear vision to work toward, but that is only possible by being open to forever suggestions and critiques.
How do you unwind, recover and maintain?
One of my best strategies prior to joining Upflowy was working a 3 or 4-day working week, and ensuring I had a day to myself. At a startup, that is harder to implement, and for that reason, I’ve turned up the dial on other recovery modalities that balance me out.
Meditation 🧘 :
A daily practice using Headspace, leaning on moments of mindfulness. I start the day with meditation and make sure not to check my phone, and naturally wake up. Before opening my laptop and starting my workday, I’ll also write up my day in a notebook to ensure focus on my tasks.
Drawing ✏️ :
This brings me such joy even though I am so bad at it. It’s a wonderful reminder of struggling with a task or returning to a novice state. There is a desire to be incredible, but I have to be consistent and practice, and this helps pull me out of my work.
Learning another language 🇪🇸 :
I love Duolingo, and learning Spanish has been such a helpful separation task. It’s often a moment of the day with difficulty but it is incredibly rewarding and turns on a different part of my brain that turns off the rest.
Physical activity 🚶 :
Whether it be a walk to enter a new space, or doing yoga, there is such a benefit to breaking up your day, and ensuring your mind is ready for new ways of thinking and perspective shifts. The best grounding moments come when you’re away from your desk.
Source of inspiration?
Art. Always art. I always try to find inspiration from areas that are outside my industry. That can be art galleries, arthouse movies, but my favourite place in the world is the National Gallery of Victoria. It’s constantly evolving but forever grounded. I have lost count of the number of life-changing realisations I have encountered through the experience of art.
Music while working?
That does depend on the type of work I’m doing. If I’m doing something communication-based, I need silence. As for problem-solving, then I’ll need something different, something that inspired new thinking, like Jazz. If I’m looking to bring clarity, I’ll want to play relaxed, chilled, or more lofi music, while if I’m looking to challenge my own thoughts, I’ll look for something a little more intense, moving towards the trance genre.
Some of my favourite playlists I have assembled are ‘Hip before hipsters’, ‘One beat and you are gay’, ‘Barcelona suena’, and ‘Fall into a couch’.
Advice to give yourself 5-10 years ago:
We did it. We invented time travel, now take your time getting through life and don’t rush it.