9 Questions with John Jahnke of Tackle.io

September 19, 2019

Meet John

As a long time student of the cloud market John could not be more excited to be part of Tackle.io where they are leading the evolution of how software companies generate revenue through the cloud marketplaces. John has spent the last 20 years working as a customer focused leader for B2B emerging technology companies including EMC, Greenplum, Pivotal, Cognizant and now Tackle.

"Technology disruption is happening in so many directions, but very little has been done to change the way B2B software is sold. The cloud marketplaces provide a foundation to drive this evolution and our platform makes it easy for software companies to engage buyers where they want to buy in a streamlined app store type way."

Tackle has a unique opportunity to help software companies re-envision how they sell with the cloud providers and guide them on this journey to cloud consumption based models. Tackle is a remote first company with team members all over the United States. John lives in Buffalo NY with his wife and 3 kids. When not working he loves to spend time with his family, playing games, skiing, hiking, biking or doing just about anything outside.

Best piece of advice you were ever given?

Two pieces of advice have stuck with me. Firstly, always be curious and ensure you are learning. If you feel your learning journey is starting to come to an end you should think about how to kick-start a new learning journey. Secondly, Smile and say 'Hi'. This was the advice given to me by my older sister when I entered a new school. It is such a simple thing to do and brightens almost anyone's day.

What books are you reading at the moment? 

I love to read and I also listen to a great number of Audiblebooks when I travel. I have just finished reading 'The book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World' by Dalai Lama and Desmund Tutu and 'The Fifth Risk' by Michael Lewis. I am currently enjoying 'David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants' by Malcolm Gladwell and on deck I have 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail' by Martin Luther King Jr.

When did you realise you were wrong about something?

I feel like i'm wrong all of the time and the older I get the greyer right and wrong become. I love the saying "strong opinions loosely held" because as you learn more you are free to change course and ultimately there are many paths to a desired outcome.

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve faced along your career path and how did you overcome it?

I entered the technology industry at a pretty young age and definitely faced impostor syndrome early in my career. I had stumbled into technology as a career and ultimately worked through this by trying to always be of use and always be learning.  Over time you very quickly accumulate knowledge. Teaching yourself to truly be curious and unafraid of the unknown will serve you well into your future.  

"Teaching yourself to truly be curious and unafraid of the unknown will serve you well into your future"

Later in my career I ran into the scenario of thinking career growth was linear and that I needed to constantly be progressing. Over time you realize like most things in life your career journey is not a straight line and you need to embrace some twists and turns to unlock new pathways you may not have imagined were possible.

How do you ensure you focus on the right activities?

In general I focus on the team around me and how i can help them define and build scalable systems. I'm constantly looking for hotspots and how to help the team navigate through them. When all else fails I always leverage the customer as my guiding light and this has always served me well. I try to take lots of notes, action items and constantly prioritize and work through them.  I'm a big fan of knocking out little things fast so they don't linger as well as blocking time for strategic activities and thinking. It is very easy to get tactically consumed and you have to force yourself to find time to think strategically.

What one piece of advice would you give a CIO looking to develop a new modern culture in their technology organisation?

I'm a big advocate of remote work and truly believe it is the future of work. Remote work isn't just about any location, you need to enable teams with the right tools to collaborate and there needs to be organization-wide buy-in on use of these technologies. We are very active Zoom and Slack users and we are all video all the time. This tremendously increases employee engagement and efficiency, but require wide adoption to be successful. How do you set an example in your organization around new tools, remote work and collaboration? This isn't just about small teams, it is about changing your culture with new collaboration technologies.

"I'm a big advocate of remote work and truly believe it is the future of work"

What is the most interesting technology to you right now?

In general I'm a student of cloud and I'm always trying to keep up with the latest from all of the cloud providers including some of the new movement by VMware in multi-cloud. More narrowly I'm a fan of serverless as a new paradigm for efficient development and operation of modern applications.

What is the best example you have seen of an organization that has used technology to transform itself

The Adobe story is very impressive. I'm also impressed by what VMware has been doing over the last few years. For more traditional enterprises, fingerprints of transformation need to be seen at a business level in addition to a technology level.  Allstate and Comcast are both impressive to me as you could see active experimentation at a business level powered by technology.

"Fingerprints of transformation need to be seen at a business level in addition to a technology level"

What is true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

I'm from Buffalo NY and everyone that lives here, loves it here. But outside of Buffalo, there is this image presented by the media that we are a frosty tundra buried in snow 10 months out of the year! Part of me wants this to change and part of me loves the fact that we have this hidden gem of a city with no traffic, great schools, moderate cost of living and some of the nicest people on the planet!

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