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Mobile Software Creator’s Communication Skills

Interview with Kevin Legg

Over 1/3 of the world uses a smartphone, and around 80% of Americans have a smartphone. These devices have become essential across all contexts, including business. People use texts to communicate quicker and many companies either have their own communications apps or use industry standard apps to assist their work. If you have ever reflected on all the applications you actually use on your smartphone, it quickly becomes less boring, less cliched–all of the wonderful applications available on this little device can allow us to to so much more than the cell phones of yesteryear. Kevin Legg, co-founder of the mobile app developing company Five Pack Creative, discusses his path to where he is today, along with the skills and advice he deems most important to achieve a successful career…and the ways smartphones are facilitating our most important work.

  1. What is your professional history (include your timeline and roles)?

1994 – Graduated SIU Carbondale with B.S. Computer Science

1994 – Started at Tulsa University as a grad student

1995 – Joined CITGO as a Computer Analyst on the Data Warehousing team

1998 – Completed M.S. Computer Science Degree at TU

1998 – I moved to a pure software development company called Tax and Accounting Software Corporation (TAASC)

2001 – TAASC was acquired by Intuit

2002 – Moved to managing people and projects for Intuit

2004 – Took Director of Software Development role with Sage Software

2006 – Moved into Sr. Director of Emerging Technologies role for Sage

2008 – I took a layoff package from Sage that allowed me to open my own software consulting company

2009 – Took General Manager position with Frey Produce

2011 – Became co-owner of Five Pack Creative

  1. What writing advice do you have for professional communicators?

“Focus on clarity and purpose above all else.”

  1. What is your one pet peeve when it comes to professional writing?

“As a small business owner I do not have time to read volumes of text. I need summary and detail separated so that I can drill into details if needed but only if needed.”

  1. What kind of business reports do you read and/or compose regularly?

Harvard Business Review and Kiplinger Financial Report are the primary external reports I read. Internal reports tend to be more numbers based rather than text.”

  1. What are your writing suggestions to make those types of reports successful?

“The trend in many modern web and magazine publications are provocative or controversial to attract readers, but I prefer headlines or titles that match the articles. Then the articles need to deliver on the headline.”

  1. What speaking advice do you have for professional communicators?

“The most important thing is practice.”

  1. Name one thing you wish you had known about business communication prior to your professional career?

“I was fortunate enough to have been taught the importance of communication and that laying out a vision was critical to a company or team’s success but I underestimated the difficulty of getting to shared or common understanding of that vision (and maintaining it).”

  1. After assessing the Burning Glass list of Baseline Skills (2016), which skills not in the top 5 would you move into the top 5…and why?
Credit: Burning Glass Technologies

“Grit (or determination) in the face of adversity-without this I see really talented people fail to meet their personal or business objectives.”

  1. What team skills do you feel young professionals need the most?

“Critical thinking and communication are at the top of my list.”

Tyler Hooper is a freshman at the University of Southern Indiana. He is currently aiming for a marketing degree and hopes to graduate from law school sometime in the future. 

Key Takeaways

The most important takeaway from this interview is that your path does not always lead to where you expect it to go. Legg held many different positions before co-founding FIve Pack Creative. The path to success may be as easy as getting hired by a company and climbing through the ranks until you reach the top. That may not always be the reality. He held six different positions before being able to start his own company. He was laid off by Sage Software after achieving the role of Sr. Director of Emerging Technologies. Legg says one of the most important skills he believes is,

“Grit (or determination) in the face of adversity-without this I see really talented people fail to meet their personal or business objectives.”

The adversity of being laid off is enough to bring anyone’s spirits down, but he went and used the severance package to start up his own company. This goes to show that if you want something, you need determination and never entertain the thought of giving up. Since he never gave up, he is still with Five Pack Creative eight years later. He helped contribute to the creation of many apps through the last decade. Five Pack Creative helped design over hundreds of apps continues to work with high profile companies such as Match.com and American Airlines. If Legg had not had the determination to achieve his goals, some of these companies would have never became as successful as they are today.

Legg says whenever writing reports, he prefers the headlines to match the articles. You do not need to be flashy and provocative to be successful. You need to speak the truth about what you plan to write about and follow up with the supporting facts. Being different helps you stand out, but if you fudge your writings there is no way you will gain someone’s trust. It is better to speak the truth and have a job well done. A report is just like a car; just because it looks nice does not mean it runs. It is what is under the hood that matters. If you have a brand new sports car you will definitely attract more attention than a regular sedan. If the engine does not end up running though, people will move on to what they know will run.

Another important concept to remember is that the business world moves fast. By the time you master a type technology, more than likely something newer and more effective has come out, You have no time to slow communicating either. With the world advancing so quick, businesses need to be able to keep up to speed. Legg says,

“Focus on clarity and purpose above all else.”

So whenever you communicate, only say what needs to be said and done. The end goal is to be as quick and effective as possible. Any extra jargon is a waste of time. Time moves forward and so should you. This does not mean that little communication is the best route to take; it means that time wasted on unimportant details is ineffective. Understand what is important in your work and make sure that everyone else understands that too.

Kevin Legg received a B.S. in Computer Science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and went on the receive a M.S in the same field at Tulsa University. He worked for Citgo, Intuit, Sage Software, Frey Produce, and now is co-owner of Five Pack Creative all gaining experience working with computer software.

He can be found on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevin-legg-0809a9/.

Five Pack Creative’s website can also be found here: https://www.fivepackcreative.com/.

What do you think?

Written by Tyler Hooper

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