Blog of Roger Greene, CEO

What Does It Mean to be a Good Place to Work?

This year we have twice been recognized as a good place to work in Massachusetts, second best (mid-sized) by the Boston Business Journal and fifth-best (small) by the Boston Globe. Both were based on employee surveys.

It is easy to point to certain events to explain the survey results. For example, to celebrate our 20th anniversary we flew the entire company to a nice resort in Florida. But I think this misses the point. The Florida trip was a celebration of all that we have achieved, which was influenced by our work environment. In the absence of all else that we do, are and aspire to be, it wouldn’t be any more than a nice weekend, have a lasting effect, or make for a nice workplace.

Here is why I want us to be considered a good place to work. Because we have interesting, challenging work. Because everyone has clear direction, clear goals, a productive work environment, the right resources, regular feedback and feels that they are paid fairly for the work they do. Because we live our values, emphasizing honesty, integrity, diversity and treating people with respect. And because we attract ambitious people who like being around others who are similarly ambitious. Being simply a comfortable place to work is not our goal. We are here to think big and see what we can accomplish. We need to be a place where top people who like that message want to work.

On balance, I think we do a decent job of meeting these objectives. It helps that we recognize that being a good place to work is not binary, and that having been one does not ensure that we will continue to be. There are always ways to improve. As we grow, we will pay even more attention to our workplace with the goal that each Ipswitch employee will appreciate their role and feel supported in helping us achieve our ambitious goals.

It’s The Food, Stupid

Bill Clinton has been in the news for his increased health and reduced waistline. He attributes these changes to a mostly plant-based diet, which he chose in response to his battle with heart disease. One of  Clinton’s major influences was a book called The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. The China Study was an NIH funded 20 year study of the diet and health of people in China. The research concluded that a plant-based diet was associated with significantly reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, U.S. citizens have a staggering 1700% increased risk of heart disease as compared to rural Chinese citizens. In nutrition studies a 10-20% increased risk is considered significant.

The China Study attempted to determine the causes of good health. Up until a few years ago, China had much better health than most western countries. What is sad is that in the past 25 years, as wealth has increased and the Chinese adopt a more “western” diet, their rates of diabetes, glucose intolerance and obesity are growing faster than their GDP. This trend is particularly shocking in terms of Chinese school children.

Why am I writing this? Because health care costs are skyrocketing, and that hurts both businesses and employees. We need a new approach, and so far we haven’t seen anything close to what is needed from government, or from the healthcare and insurance industries, which seem to be spending all of their time arguing about how to pay for the increased cost of health care, rather than how to promote good health and avoid getting sick in the first place.

That food is a major cause of our deteriorating health is finally receiving the attention of formal medical researchers. Last month the Lancet published several articles whose conclusions, in summary, say “The simultaneous increases in obesity in almost all countries seem to be driven mainly by changes in the global food system, which is producing more processed… and effectively marketed food than ever before.”

With U.S. healthcare expenditures surpassing 2.5 trillion dollars per year, it is time to focus on the food we consume. Instead of continuing with the “western diet” that harms our health, we should use the lessons from nutrition science to reverse our own obesity epidemic.


What Everyone Can Learn from Sales

In this top-10 list (well, okay, top-13), Harvey Mackay explains how to adopt a sales mindset. As research has shown, success in selling is not related to personal style or charm. My favorites in Mackay’s list are stay hungry, never compromise your integrity, be authoritative (know your products backwards and forwards) and become a customer service fanatic. I attribute much of our growth and accomplishments to our many employees who have these qualities.


Boston Globe Article on Top Places to Work

Here is the article from yesterday’s Sunday Boston Globe that lists all of the winners in their Top Places to Work 2011 awards. Click on the ‘Top small employers’ tab to see Ipswitch at #5!


Boston Globe Top Places to Work!

Last night Al from our IT/Operations department attended the annual Boston Globe Top Places to Work in Massachusetts awards, with this report.


Last evening I had the honor to represent Ipswitch at an awards reception held by The Boston Globe to recognize the 2011 Top Places to Work in Massachusetts.

I am proud to announce that Ipswitch placed 5th (of 40 finalists) in the small business category!   We were the highest ranked software firm in that category, and one of only four software firms recognized in all categories. The award and a copy of the magazine are on display in the kitchen in Lexington. The results will be published In Sunday’s Globe, but they were announced yesterday. A preview article was posted by the Globe earlier today.

“The Globe’s Top Places to Work survey honors employers who care for their most valuable resource: the people who work for them. Those people – nearly 75,000 employees of the organizations ranked here – told us that their employers pay well, offer progressive benefits and creative perks, allow the flexibility needed to have good lives both at work and at home, embrace the diverse backgrounds of their employees, and offer a promising future to all of their workers.”   Click here for more details describing how the selections were made.

Congratulations everyone!


An Office Surprise


When she returned from her vacation adventure far, far away, Kaitlyn had some unwrapping to do.

More On Bill Gates 2.0

As I reflected on what I wrote yesterday, it occurred to me that other than the obvious differences in the magnitude of our resources, I would like to organize my life differently than Bill Gates has. Rather than follow his model of switching from a focus on business success to one on social well-being, I would like to help demonstrate that building stronger societies enhances business success. I believe they are integral to each other. A business offers a laboratory in which to experiment to see what community programs work, and a more prominent place from which to promote them. I think that on-going business success offers a better platform for influencing social well-being. Once you leave the business world, I think in most cases your influence starts to wane. I consider Bill Gates an exception because of his extraordinary accomplishments.

Bill Gates 2.0

I used to consider Bill Gates a visionary and brilliant businessman but think little of him as a person. He seemed Machiavellian and underhanded in the way he managed business relationships. I thought he was singularly and disturbingly focused on crushing the competition. These were indirect impressions, though. I had not met him, nor have I since.

Since Gates started his foundation, I have come to think differently. He is spending his fortune and time to trying to improve the lives of millions of people. This says to me that his ambition remains strong. It seems to me that he is applying his talents with the same level of energy that he did when building Microsoft. That impresses me. In this article, I read this that he wrote to the Harvard University community:

I hope you will reflect on what you’ve done with your talent and energy. I hope you will judge yourselves not on your professional accomplishments alone, but also on how well you work to address the world’s deepest inequities, on how well you treat people a world away who have nothing in common with you but their humanity.

 I admire that sentiment and am glad to have Bill Gates 2.0 as a role model.

Adam’s Pumpkin