Don’t survey your employees….engage them.



Some people call me a serial entrepreneur, but I just like solving problems. I've started and exited several companies now and realize that my greatest asset to a venture is my ability to create magic in the first 12-18 months. If I could say I've found "my thing," I would have to say that creating amazing companies from scratch is it. I love building a tight-knit team of the right people, making meaning, casting an infectious vision, and baking awesomesauce into whatever we do.

I love being creative. I usually have whiteboard markers in one of my pockets and a pencil behind my ear.I love working hard. I'm most satisfied when I'm able to accomplish amazing amounts of important work every day.

I love making meaning. I learned a long time ago how to make money. That's easy. The rest of my life I aim to make meaning.

I'm currently working on a venture studio called Movement. Because I've realized that my greatest strength in a business lifecycle is the first 12-18 months, I've created a company that allows me to be in the white-hot zone of my skill set 100% of the time. Movement is basically a collective of talented, successful entrepreneurs, each with a killer skill-set complementary to one another. Like a nursery grows plants from their own seeds, we grow companies from our own ideas. Sounds fun, huh? I think so.

Webinar Transcript

Presenter: Josh is the CEO of Movement Ventures, makers of the products Qzzr, Pollcaster, and Boombox that are used by brands such as ESPN, Time, NBC, Mashable, Yahoo, and Red Bull to engage their audience. Josh founded Movement following an 18-month battle with boredom when he attempted retirement after selling his last 2 companies, Bloomfire and Maestro. Although Josh is a classically-trained singer and his degree is in Education, he had a successful corporate career in sales and sales training at 3 different Fortune 500 companies before his entrepreneurial ventures. Originally from Michigan, Josh now lives in Utah and loves getting lost in the beautiful mountains. And now, please welcome to Elevate 2015, Josh Little.

Josh: Hi there. My name is Josh Little. I'm with Boombox and I'm really excited to present to you today on a topic that I'm very passionate about. And let's get started. So the title of this session, "Don't survey your employees, engage them," could also be titled "How to engage your employees as well as ESPN, Facebook, Time, Disney, Red Bull and 80,000 others engage their audience" or "If you send me another survey, I'm going to puke." So whatever one resonates more with you, I just had a hard time deciding, but we went with the blue one.

Anyway, so a little about me, don't be nervous, I know I don't look like an expert at anything other than growing a really manly beard, but I actually am. I spent my entire corporate career at 3 Fortune 500 companies in training and development. And then I've left the corporate world and I've started two software companies before Boombox, all focused on employee development and training within the workplace. So this is a topic I know a little bit about in terms of understanding and gathering insights from employees and be able to understand where to develop and move them forward, so I'm excited to share this content today.


So let's just start out with Boombox. This is Boombox, I want to start out with the company because I want to talk about how the world is using this product and now how we're seeing companies use it internally. So this is our habitat, the mountains out the window here in lovely Utah and the product that we're using. And what Boombox allows anyone to do is engage their audience as well as BuzzFeed engages theirs. So think quizzes, polls, these interactive lists.


Boombox is a platform that allows anyone to create world-class interactive content and engage their audience like ESPN, "Which World Cup team are you," any of these pieces of content that you see here. And we have a really great list of companies that are currently using this. So many of those quizzes or polls that you see in your social media feed, if they're from one of these companies, they probably used our platform to create that. And there's a long, long list of some of the top publishers and brands in the world that are using our product to engage their public audience, to engage their followers, their fans, their readers. And I would love to show you some kind of product in the wild right now.

So let's look at this one. This is the TEDBlog, "Which TED Talk are you?" If you know the TED Talks, they're these really dynamic 18-minute talks. Well, they created this quiz and it's an outcome quiz where if you answer questions about yourself, don't judge me by what I'm choosing here, I'm just choosing things, at the end it recommends a TED Talk. It looks like, based on what we chose, we're the artist and we should view this TED Talk. So this can really be helpful in recommending learning content for your employees or recommending the next path of action because it's kind of like a little decision engine.

Here's a site called Car Throttle that's taking the automotive world by storm. This quiz, "Are you a true gear head?", this is a graded quiz. So in a graded quiz, there is a right or wrong answer. It's the quizzes we're typically familiar with, especially in corporate training. So in this one, "What's happening when a car backfires?", well, we all know, very common knowledge, unburned fuel is igniting in the exhaust system, right? Like, come on, any redneck like me knows that. But that's the example of a graded quiz.


Gawker, do you remember this dress controversy earlier this year? Well, this had one of our quizzes on it. And I'll let you decide what color that dress is, we're not going to dive into it. But just fun-use cases of the product in the wild. ESPN creates the "Which World Cup Team Are You?" At the end, it tells you what team you should root for, hopefully, it's the one you are rooting for. This Zenni Optical Quiz is essentially a decision engine that helps you determine which frames you should wear. "Choose your most intriguing icon, how you spend your free time, and we'll tell you which glasses you should wear."


So moving content, this is a list, if you are familiar with the idea of a list, an interactive list is, you've seen the "Top 10 Places You Should Visit before You Die," or "The 7 Headphones You Should Check Out This Christmas," or whatever those lists are. We allow anyone to make a list very easily, and they look beautiful, they're formatted nicely. But the cool feature is this interactivity where the audience can upvote or downvote these ranks, so the creator of the list can publish the list with their intended rank but they can really get feedback from the audience to learn how they respond or how they feel about any of these or how the list should be ranked. So in this list, you can also view the intended list of the creator versus the readers' list or the audience list. So that's one of our newest products that's very cool and we're excited about.


Here's an example of a poll on So a poll is really dividing opinion. Who wore it better? J.J. Watt as Batman or Russell Wilson as Batman? So I chose J.J. Watt, but it looks like I'm in the minority here. The cool thing about our polls is they allow you to dive deeper. So most polls end with just that breakdown, but here, if you click See the Breakdown, you can see the breakdown by region, age and gender.


So think of this used within your company, to be able to launch a poll on the Internet like, "What was your favorite moment of the sales training last week?" or something like that and be able to see how different people and different areas felt about different concepts. So here it's by region and you can also check out world and we can see who in the world has responded to this poll. Age, you can see how the curve runs by age or by gender, how the gender breaks down. So, really cool tool that could be used in so many different ways to create this real-time feedback and gather daily insights from your employees.

Here's another example of polls used at the Emmy's, "Who Wore It Best at the Emmy's?" Here you go. So here's an example of the poll, I think there's some others down the page, "Which of these six are best dressed?" So let's choose Danielle, and you can see the same interaction here as we saw before. So those are just some examples of content tools out in the wild, quizzes, polls list. These are currently the most engaging content tools on the Web, and that's why we've created these. Boombox, is going to continue to create these really engaging tools and put them in the hands of our customers.

So, I want to now turn the corner into the intended application that I wanted to talk about today. But I want to put out a word of caution here. Because this is really new, some of the most innovative companies in the world are now coming to us and saying, "You've created an awesome suite of engagement tools. We want to use those for our audience, which is our employees, or our team members, or our alumni," or whatever audience they have. And we think that it's really cool because we love to see these tools used in different ways. So essentially, they're choosing this, these highly-engaging consumer experiences that are super easy to create versus the traditional, which is the once-a-year stodgy survey that no one really wants to take unless you force them to take it, then they'll do it. But they'll begrudgingly do it and probably not tell the truth anyway.

So, if you think about the breakdown just of that one item, a quiz versus a survey, it's really interesting to think of the psychological dynamic that's there. Because when I take a survey, I don't care, I just want to get it done and, red, whatever, good, fine, fine, yes, four, four, four," except the one thing that I want to complain about. I'll take my time to really get my dig in there. So in my mind, surveys have a limited value in terms of quality of data that they can gather. I know they're the gold standard for research, but if you think about it, it's really a one-way street, it's me feeding you. I don't have a vested interest in taking a survey, that's why in the end of mini surveys, you see, "Hey, it only took 22 seconds," kind of letting you know that it's okay, that it only took 22 seconds to do someone else a favor.


But quizzes, on the other hand, are very different. People volunteer to take them. They tell the truth because they have a vested interest in the outcome and then they share them with thousands of friends. And that's why they're so viral, so ubiquitous on the Web. Quizzes have an 80ish% engagement rate, some have higher, some lower, depending on the content. But quiz-takers are really enjoying the experience because it's reciprocal, because a quiz-taker is getting feedback along the way, whether the answer is right or wrong or they really want to find out which Disney Princess they are so they're going to give the right answers. They want to make sure that they're who they are. They're willing to take more time and engage in it and offer honest answers and honest feedback.


So if you think about the new way versus the old way across a variety of different aspects here to gather insights, these companies that are approaching us now, like Viacom, Facebook, Nestle, some of the most innovative companies in the world, are really thinking about gathering employee insights and engagement in a different way. So the new way, in terms of method, is to engage the employees versus compel them to spit out answers, but to engage, give them something that they want to engage in and want to take. And one is, they want to see the breakdown of the poll, they want to see what everyone else thinks and how their opinion breaks down.

Frequency, you know, gone are the days that a CEO or an executive or a leader in a company should wait for once a year to get feedback from their audience, from their employees. Feedback should be happening every day, real time on the topics that are most relevant to today and in the interest and that changes and it's in flux and no one can predict that once a year. So we're providing a tool set that allows you to gather insights every day, bit by bit, on the topics that matter most.


The nature of the new way is that it's reciprocal. It's giving and getting versus one side, just taking. The data authenticity is higher just because of the reciprocal nature of that. That we talked about the difference between quizzes and surveys versus low, reluctant participation, which brings me to the last one, participation, willing versus reluctant.

So, let's actually just look and see how that's done. Our customers that are using Boombox for employee insights, they're using it in a private way. So I can't show you examples of those, but I can show you examples of how we use it within our company. And we can create some content together and just get an idea on what that looks like. So, there's my email for you.


I'm sorry. Let me give you a little tour of where we're at here. This is the Boombox dashboard. Here you can see all the interactive content that I've created. Now you can also go see any content that's been created by someone in my company. This is the back of the house, where you create content, not words published.


So, I'm going to create a this-and-that poll. I'm going to create a poll about one of the most pressing questions that any organization has to answer. So over or under, and can you guess which topic I'm talking about? Yes, of course, toilet paper rolls, over or under? And we can customize this and add text and crop images and do all the things that you could imagine a publishing platform would allow you to do to really make these customized and pop how you like them to change accent colors, randomized options, show poll title, add a different share image, or you can even turn off share options if you don't want them to be shared outside of your company. We have all of those options and different plans that we have.


So once I published this, you're probably wondering, "What do I do with that?" Well, there's two things you can do. You can either grab the embed code, just like a YouTube video, and you can embed that in your site or blog or if you have a little micro site or an Intranet that takes embed code, you can just drop that in there, and it shows up just like this over here on the right, and people can engage in it and take that poll in site. Or you can just grab this link and, our company uses Slack, so let's see, here we go. So I can drop this poll in Slack now and it will put it in, and you can see it on the fly and people can take the poll in Slack, or in Yammer, or in any Internet portal, or whatever dashboard, Bloomfire. Whatever you have, this works with it, whether it's an embed code or a link. So that's really how you distribute it to your audience.


And then, once it's distributed, they can see the opinion breakdown real time. They can also see the breakdown of those opinions. And that's really cool. So employees can get real-time feedback from real-time employee feedback, right?

So, let's just show some other examples of how it's been used within our company. So even on our website, if you go to, and you look at our About page, we have there "Which Movement Ventures team member are you?" Movement Ventures is the name of our company, Boombox is our product. So this quiz allows anyone to play with the team at Movement, choose the things that you are passionate about, and at the end, it tells you which employee you're most similar to.


I want to go and look at this one and just show you some of the stats behind the scenes because I think that's where the magic is for employee insights is really seeing how people are using it and what the opinion breakdown is and gathering the data from the content. So let's see. "Which Movement Ventures team member," here we go. So if we go to that, I'm just going to go right to the stats page, and now we can see the breakdown of how many times it's been taken, the completion rate, the average time spent. This one, this is quite a long time. Our average time across all of our quizzes is 2 ½ minutes, but some have more questions and more options, like the one you saw, take a little while longer. But here we can see most employees, or most people that took the quiz are like Brandon Bassett, because he's just the most even-keeled, most likable employee we have, must be. And then Leo's next and then I'm probably somewhere way down the list. Look, that's where I am.


So you can see how opinion breaks down, the spark-line graph of activity over time. But here, I think, is where the magic starts to happen, you can start to see what is the favorite content type of your audience? What's their favorite movie? What's their favorite TV show? You can ask any questions in these quizzes, whether they're serious questions like strategic questions about direction or how does everyone feels about this new product, or what's the response rate, or you can imagine the types of questions you can ask. And then, if you want to even take it to the next level, you can export all of these responses and we'll spit out a CSV and you can create pivot tables. You can know who prefers Star Wars and who prefers Breaking Bad at the same time, or who likes red and who didn't like the new water cooler that was put in. So you can get tons of data from this content.

Let's look at one other piece of content, maybe a poll, and see the kind of data that we're getting behind the scenes on that. So, let's see, I know I have a poll, "Which Josh hairstyle is your favorite?" There you go. So let's go check this one out, so this is "Which Josh hairstyle is your favorite?" This is back when I had hair, '93 and '89. So, I don't know how you feel but looks like most people prefer 1993, and if you go and you're allowed to just vote on this poll, and it requires you to put your age and gender, and we have an extremely high conversion rate there actually, about 85% of people are willing to offer that just to see the breakdown. But here we can just see people in Missouri prefer '89 and people in Utah prefer '93, and it's pretty easy to read these charts. So really interesting insights that you can gather and you can export this stuff and use it internally.


So that's about the end of my time here. The cool thing about all of this is if you go to, you can sign up and start using Boombox for free, totally for free, and start creating really cool interactive quizzes and polls to engage your employees and to gather insights, and you can get a lot of data just from our free plan. So I think if this is at all interesting, you should just sign up for the free plan, create a poll like you saw me create that Toilet Paper poll in just a minute, and launch it and just see who engages and see how fun it is. And you can even invite your colleagues and team members into the free account so that everyone can create content and share it with one another.


So we're really excited about this new development in how we've seen the world start to use Boombox. We know it cranks up engagement for your audience. It's definitely for publishers and brands. But we're really interested in how this can crank up engagement within your company. So if you are interested in using this, I would love you to reach out to me and just share with me how you are using it or how you intend to use it. Or if you have any questions, reach out to me. You can get me at, that's my email, but I'm all ears because this is a new developing area of our business and I'm personally taking a lead on this direction.


So, thank you for your time. If you have questions, I believe we can answer them now. But I hope you got something out of today's session, thanks.