It's not surprising to find coders, support techs, and sales folks at a modern software company. But at a la mode, we have another special employee who makes it his mission to know appraising inside and out — from day-to-day challenges to big-picture ideas.
Joel Baker is our VP of Appraiser Advocacy, a role he treats with both enthusiasm and integrity. His job is to understand our customers and their needs, and he's one of the reasons our software stands out from the competition. Joel keeps up with social media, attends conferences, and teaches appraisers of all skill levels how to work more efficiently. Plus, he works behind the scenes with our developers to make sure appraisers are well-served by the products we make.
How would you describe your job at a la mode?
Joel: Generally, I'm the surrogate for our appraiser customers during our product development cycles. I also run the Training and Documentation department and assist our Marketing department on certain projects. I've made over 300 training videos for a la mode, so you may have seen me on our YouTube or Vimeo channel.
What’s your favorite aspect of the job?
Joel: I love getting to travel around the country and meet our customers. It's great being able to pleasantly surprise appraisers with new or "undiscovered" features and workflow techniques. I get to help them become more efficient and perhaps enjoy their profession a bit more.
If a la mode were a TV show, which character – from any sitcom, drama, or reality show – who would you represent and why?
Joel: Josh Lyman, from The West Wing. I'm an advisor who knows my market well and helps the entire team with communicating our message. But, if we're being perfectly honest, Josh gets to be a little more snarky than I can be.
Who do you admire most and why?
Joel: I know it's a little out there, but Bertrand Russell. A logician, philosopher, political activist, writer, humanitarian, and a fantastic, biting British wit. "What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out — which is the exact opposite."
If you had to eat one meal, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Joel: Potatoes and Jameson. I'm a simple man.
What is your key piece of advice for appraisers that use a la mode?
Joel: An appraiser's job is complex, and an appraiser's toolset is also necessarily complex. There is very little you can do to increase efficiency which is better than learning about your tools.
You already study your craft in formal settings, but spending 5 minutes a day learning something new about one of your computer programs or devices will reap dividends in your workflow. You won't believe how well it works until you try it.
What's kept you working for a la mode?
Joel: When I was a teenager, my father told me to surround myself with people who "get it."
The people I work with at a la mode are some of the best around. Most of the people here are smarter than I am — and are experts at their jobs — so it pushes me to expand myself and do my work at their level.
We depend on each other to get through every day, whether our role involves directly helping appraisers over the phone or working behind the scenes to make things happen. We know you depend on us, too, which is why we get to come to work with a purpose. Thank you for that, and thanks for being part of a la mode.