Our “DocuSign Innovates” blog series places the spotlight on employees and teams who create and innovate in many different and unexpected ways. Some build cool tools, analyze data or and write code in new ways. Others may redesign product and processes or create clever marketing campaigns. Still others may figure out a way to make a positive impact on the communities in which we live and work. We’d like to celebrate those individuals and teams here. This week we sat down with Tim S. from Global Customer Support in Seattle to talk about his innovations.
Outside of being DocuSign’s longest standing customer service employee of 6 years, Tim is also an independent hip-hop musician. During winter 2014, Tim was inspired to write, record, and produce a song to celebrate the contributions of all teams, all products, and the overall success of the DocuSign brand to date. From this inspiration, “Start With An ‘E’” was born and soon after a second song, “Universal Trust.”
- What was the lightbulb moment that you thought, “I’m going to apply my musical talent to celebrate what DocuSign does in such a creative way”?
The wheels began turning in Summer 2013 at a company picnic where a few members of our engineering department set up to play. I ended up freestyling with them. But, it wasn’t until Winter 2014, when I was writing one day and thought of the phrase, “Start with an ‘E’” – to describe eSignature. It seemed catchy. I wanted to write a song that would be a tribute” because to this day, I’m super grateful for all the opportunity I’ve had here. I wanted to write it as a way of giving back. During the writing process, I decided I needed to make sure I got all the departments in there at one time. That’s why it became the longest song I ever wrote.
How long in total?
It’s almost six and a half minutes. I finished the main hook and had a secondary hook. I kind of went against the rules. In a pop song, you don’t write four verses — there are usually two or three — and you rarely have two different hooks. But, there was no way to really shorten it.
And how long did it take you to write it?
I had written the first couple of verses by September 2014 and felt I should probably tell my managers about it. I showed the lyrics to our VP, and she loved it. Then she immediately said, “What are the chances you could finish this and perform it at our holiday party?” So I worked with one of my friends who’s a producer. He gave me some great ideas, and we just went from there. His wife actually ended up singing with me on the final hook. I rushed to finish it just in time for the Seattle holiday party in 2014, which is the first time I performed it.
What was the response?
It was pretty overwhelming. Our chairman and our founder actually ended up becoming the biggest fans of the song. They said, “You need to play this at every company event.” So I performed it at our Sales Kick Off that year, then at our user conference Momentum, then at the following holiday party in 2015.
I’m curious about your creative process. Do you think about lyrics or lines as you drive to work?
Words are constantly running through my head, I can’t help it. I have a little app on my phone called Evernote. Anytime I have an idea, I’ll jot it down. For the first song, I jotted down a list all the departments. It was a puzzle putting it all together and flushing out the entire idea.
You then wrote a second DocuSign Hip hop song.
“Start with an E” was getting outdated. People asked me when the second one was coming out. After hearing about our global standards-based signature concept, I wrote “Universal Trust.” This one is more customer focused and speaks to external audiences. I finished it in time for our 2016 user conference – Momentum.
How long did that take you to write?
It was about a three-month process. There were actually three different iterations of it. I debuted “Universal Trust” at Momentum in 2016 and then performed it at the Seattle and San Francisco holiday parties. The response has been great. People seem to dig it. My performances have become a company event ritual.
Have you created any other songs for DocuSign?
In February 2015, we had our first Customer Support Awards dinner. That day, my VP asked me if she sent me a list of the winners, could I write a verse/poem/stanza for each winner and present it at the dinner. And so I did—literally that afternoon, just in time for the dinner. As the awards were presented to each winner, I spoke what I’d written.
Is there something about DocuSign that encourages individual innovation or doing something completely outside the box of what employees typically do at work?
We have quite an eclectic group of people in Global Customer Support — all ages, all backgrounds. A lot of them are musicians on the side. In Global Support, we’re definitely encouraged to be innovative in coming up with new ideas for anything from events to policy changes to product implementations. The atmosphere here fosters creativity. There’s no barrier or limitation on it. For the very senior executives of a company to be a huge fan of my songs is a complete honor. I don’t think that’s very common among the industry. It’s just an inspiring place to be.
Do you feel you’ve inspired others to do something creative or somehow bring their personal talents or interests into the workplace?
I’ve worked with other employees on songs that aren’t DocuSign-related because of those songs. For example, one of the representatives is also a singer/songwriter on the side and he was really excited once he heard those songs. We then started working on a little EP together.
In our area, you see lots of art. One of our reps did the artwork for my latest album and a couple singles. He also has hand-drawn portraits of almost everybody here in my department which is around eighty people total. At my desk, I have a shelf with a bunch of figurines, Legos, robotics, Transformer, things I’ve collected. People see that and feel more inclined to start bringing their stuff in and show their own personality.
It also just speaks to DocuSign that you feel that way.
My six years just came up last week, and it still surprises me to this day that I wake up just about every morning and I’m looking forward to coming into the office. I love it here.
Interested in working alongside Tim and the Data Engineering team at DocuSign? Check out our DocuSign careers page.