“Sharing your unique personality traits with your team is one way to cultivate positive team culture. And those traits don’t have to be just organizational or business related. You can use your unique talents to infuse your team with personality as well.”

Anh Dao Pham

How I started writing jingles

After working for four years at Ticketmaster as a project manager, I moved to Virginia to take a role as an early hire at Opower, a green tech startup. Opower drove energy savings by partnering with utility companies to educate customers about home energy consumption. Opower was founded in 2007, went public in 2014 and was acquired by Oracle in 2016.

Starting in August of 2008, I was the sole project manager for the engineering team and the head of their QA team. Together, we launched the thirteen integrations with utility companies across the United States.

As one of the early leaders on our engineering team, I also was also responsible for touting our accomplishments at quarterly all-company meetings. During my first presentation, I bored the audience with facts. Determined not to repeat that mistake, I conjured my first jingle for our second all company meeting. It was a tune to celebrate the launch of our website product, set to the “The Brady Bunch” theme song. Three members of the team and I sang to our unsuspecting coworkers, who applauded our creative method for featuring the engineering team’s good work. While I’m unable to publish the lyrics here due to copyright infringement law, I can say that the jingle was so successful that it became a tradition at every all-company meeting, until I left Opower in October of 2010.

Introducing my jingle talents to Edmunds

In November of 2010, I moved back to LA and started working at Edmunds as a Senior Technical Program Manager. Edmunds had planned a month-long workshop to kick off 2011 to train product development teams how to practice user-centered design principles. For four weeks, I lead my newly assigned team through a series of user interviews, paper prototypes, and user testing sessions with a goal to discover a product we could build to improve Edmunds’s status as an authority for pricing cars. The workshop was an amazing bonding experience for the team. To celebrate its conclusion, I penned my first jingle at Edmunds. To my surprise, my entire team sang it willingly and enthusiastically. While I was still very much an Edmunds newbie, a recording of the jingle found its way to inboxes across the company. That little stunt was a seed for establishing my reputation at Edmunds as an approachable and authentic project leader.

(To the tune of “Jingle Bells”)

Make us measurably
The pricing authority
Our price for sure will be
Defacto industry

Help our customers
Find the price that’s right
What fun it’ll be to save money
On the Edmunds site tonight

Oh Pricing Team, Pricing Team
Pricing is our thing
We won’t rest until we’re done
Making car pricing a dream!

(To the tune of “A bicycle built for two”)

Dealer, dealer
Please let me text with you
You can use CarCode to help you with this too
It won’t be your typical runaround
You won’t believe my turnaround
And you’ll look sweet
When we both meet

Shopper, shopper
Please let me text with you
I’ll use CarCode to quickly respond to you
It won’t be your typical runaround
You won’t believe my turnaround
And you’ll feel sweet
When we both meet
And you buy a dream car
Or two

A startup within Edmunds

In June of 2014, I was asked to take part in an internal incubator program called “Fastlane” at Edmunds. Four startups whose business models had the potential to complement Edmunds’s business lines were invited to participate. The goal was to find a catalyst for future growth. I was assigned to be the ambassador for one of these companies, CarCodeSMS, a three-man startup that had built a texting platform for communication between customers and dealers. During the three-month incubator program, we launched a series of tests to prove out CarCode’s potential value to Edmunds. As a result of those tests, CarCodeSMS was ultimately acquired by Edmunds in October of 2014. At the onset of the program, CarCode had only been deployed to a handful of dealers. It is now used by thousands of Edmunds dealer partners. I wrote this jingle to commemorate CarCode’s success.

My biggest Edmunds project

During my tenure at Edmunds, I’ve played a leadership role in three website redesign initiatives. Each of these projects required heightened commitment from dozens of people across the company. The “Edmunds 2017” site redesign (which I described in more detail in Chapter 9) was no different. We asked a lot of our teams that year and did everything we could think of to keep morale high as we marched toward a hard deadline. This jingle was written and sung to our team in October of that year, when the team had hit a major mid-term milestone. It was intended to motivate folks through the remainder of the project, which would require long hours during our final crunch period, until the site redesign was successfully launched on New Year’s eve.

(I’m not able to quote the tune here due to copyright infringement laws, but perhaps you can guess it.)

We’re building the best website
The best Edmunds site for cars
It’s fast, engaging, the best of the best
In our history so far

It’s easy to use, It’s truly a star
We’re raising the bar, for sure we are
Because, because, because, because, because …
Our customers need to find the right cars!

We’re building the best website
The best Edmunds site so far!

(To the tune of “Yankee Doodle”)

Edmunds university
Is here on Thinking Thursday
Bring your curiosity
And fuel your brain for one day

Wear your favorite spirit gear
Learn a fun new hobby
Boost your daily workplace skills
At Edmunds university!

What inspired me to write this book

Edmunds organizes an educational week every year, during which employees with specialized skills are asked to teach courses to other employees who are interested in learning that skill. In 2017, I was asked to teach a course titled “The Art of Project Management.” It was my first attempt to organize and share the lessons I’d collected in my career, and I was delighted both by how many people attended as well as how many thank-yous I received after the course. So popular was my first course that I was asked to teach a second the following year. I am truly grateful to Edmunds for giving me that first opportunity to teach what I knew. It was that experience— seeing I could help people by sharing my advice about how to successfully lead projects— that ultimately inspired me to write this book. This jingle was written to kick off “Edmunds University” during the opening ceremonies in September 2018.

Please keep in touch, good-bye!

This final rhyme is an excerpt from the jingle I sent to my coworkers at Opower when I left the company in 2010. I hope you have enjoyed these silly and heartfelt worlds and that you will keep in touch with me!

(To the tune of “Old MacDonald had a Farm”)

Anh Dao Pham bids you farewell,
Auf Wiedersehen, Good-Bye!

It’s been so great to work with you,
So much, I cannot lie!

With some memories here
And some laughter there
Lots and lots of good friends
Here our friendship does not end

Anh Dao Pham bids you farewell,
Please keep in touch… Good-Bye!