Back From Hiatus: Six Years, Four Kids, and One Startup Later…

I used to write a blog called #KillingCorporateDecks. At the time, I was working at Oracle and a big part of my job was giving presentations – oftentimes introducing customers to the latest Oracle technologies and explaining how to use them. 

These weren’t your typical, run-of-the-mill corporate slideshows overloaded with bullet points copied and pasted from the speaker notes. I threw myself into my presentations, designing custom slides and talk tracks for every last one. The way I saw it, getting people into the room was only half the battle. Just because someone shows up doesn’t mean they will actually pay attention. You have to work for it. You have to earn it.  

I also just really enjoyed the creative process. These presentations gave me an opportunity to quench my thirst as an artist and bring creativity into an otherwise highly-technical role. I focused heavily on the design elements and visual storytelling to capture people’s attention and keep them engaged. I broke the mold and turned technical slides into artwork. 

The best part is how much people loved it. In some respects, the art of the presentation became my calling card. 

Personalized deck when presenting to Live Nation.

Before long, colleagues started asking if I could teach them how to do it. So, I launched a training program at Oracle to help people reset their thinking about corporate decks and discover new ways to build and present them. (I’m pleased to say the program still lives on to this very day.) As part of that effort, I created – first, as a place to save and share the various training materials I was developing at the time; and then later, as a creative outlet for exploring a wider range of ideas and observations about business, technology, and leadership. 

I kept up with the blog for an entire year, writing regularly and attracting a sizeable audience – and then everything changed. 

First, I left Oracle and co-founded Incorta. All of a sudden, my priorities shifted. I love writing – it helps me process my thoughts and often sparks new ones – but wow it can take a lot of time. As a co-founder of a new startup, I no longer had the luxury. Fast forward one year and my universe shifted once again when my wife and I fostered a sibling set of three children under the age of three. With that, my time – which was already scarce – became extremely precious and my blog went on hiatus.

Top Left Photograph: June 19, 2014 – Incorta co-founders at our first unofficial office, the Bay Club. (From left to right: Klaus Fabian, Matthew Halliday, Hichem Sellami, Osama Elkady.)

Now, nearly seven years later, the time has come to bring it back! My kids are becoming more independent by the day and Incorta is now supported by a team of 300+ smart, capable, and driven individuals. I’ve reached a point where I can finally take the time that’s needed to share some of the insights, observations, and life lessons that I’ve picked up over the past several years. I’m a big believer in the idea that you cannot get the full enjoyment out of an experience until you share it, and so this is something I need to do for myself as much as anyone else. 

Incorta is official in it’s 7th year now, so we are no longer in diapers. 1st grade here we come!

I was also inspired to pick this back up by a recent serendipitous encounter: At the end of 2019, I struck up a conversation with Vala Afshar over lunch during Constellation’s Connected Enterprise event in Half Moon Bay (#CCE2019). It was one of those invigorating conversations that just flows naturally – we talked technology, leadership, the world at large, and more. As lunch was wrapping up, he says to me, “You should write a book. In fact, I think you already have an outline.” That got me thinking…

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

As I get back into the swing of writing, it’s hard to say yet whether the thoughts and experiences I share here will turn into a book one day – time will tell. At this point, it’s mainly for my own benefit. I just need to get the ideas down. If others find these posts interesting and useful, even better. 

What will I be writing about? A wide variety of topics, from startup life and work culture, to product management, running teams large and small, being a leader, using data, finding balance – stories and ideas that I need to document and share. For instance, you will likely read about what it’s like pitching VCs who don’t believe what you are claiming, landing deals large and small, delivering keynotes, building teams, fostering three kids through to adoption, finding resilience and grit, and on and on the list goes.

I have only two requests: (1) If you find something useful here, don’t keep it to yourself. I want to live in a world where we all communicate better, share more, think bigger and longer term, and realize the importance of our work and where we fit into the grand scheme. (2) I want you to challenge me. If you think something is a terrible idea – or even just incomplete – I want to hear from you. Be courteous, but please push back. Enlighten my thinking. I see this blog as a place for freedom of expression without it being taken personally. 

Some of the articles you will find here are from 2014, back when this blog was still called #KillingCorporateDecks. They are standing the test of time rather well, and while I may make a few small updates here and there, I plan to keep them around. 

And finally, a note about this blog’s new title: Layered Delay. In the years since my last post on #KillingCorporateDecks, so much has happened in my personal life and professionally that the original title felt too narrow for this next chapter. You can read more about what Layered Delay means on the About Me page, but I think the following captures its meaning – and my intentions with this blog – better than anything else:

Life doesn’t always make sense during the journey, but often reveals a beautiful masterpiece when looking back. Let’s explore that together.

Matthew Halliday

While writing this post, I was looking for content to show the journey and came across this video of Incorta’s new office, which we moved in at the start of 2020 and planned to grow into over the coming years. Who would have guessed that an office that was 3-4x larger than our previous space would end up being just the right size a mere four months later as we think about how to ensure our employees wellbeing moving forward. I’m sure our office configuration will look very different when you visit us in the future.

Published by Matthew Halliday

Co-founder, EVP of Product Strategy at Incorta. Passion for design, UX, data, stories, and making beautiful things.

8 thoughts on “Back From Hiatus: Six Years, Four Kids, and One Startup Later…

  1. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts! You’ve led an adventurous life for sure. I was initially attracted to Incorta after listening to one of your performance on This Week in Enterprise Tech, introduced to me by Jon Clarke. You saw the opportunity and “found the gap”. Write the book!

    1. Thank you Lee for the kind words. I think all of us have adventurous opportunities. A lot of the time, we need to just accept them and step in the unknown a little. It can be scary but if you are not afraid of failure then that’s okay. What’s the worst thing that failure can bring? An opportunity to learn from it and probably help you in ways you don’t know right now. I had no idea you saw the This Week In Enterprise Tech TV Show. I have that show on the podcast section. I also have a funny story about what went wrong during the taping of the show. It was funny quite honestly. Probably another blog post on that subject alone. What did you think of today’s COVID19 and South Korea piece?

  2. Matt, it’s been great to see your journey from afar after our time at Oracle. You’ve always had thoughtful insights to share that helped me think differently about presentations and I look forward to learning more from you. Bravo on being able to pick writing back up!

    1. Salim, I’m so happy to see you here and engaging with the content. Thank you for your kind words. I wish I could take all the credit, but I believe I have been super fortunate to have great experience of which many people who read this blog were instrumental. I’ve learned something from almost each and every interaction. I hope this blog really inspires and captures some of what I have been fortunate to experience. I’m convinced now more than ever we need to share our journeys and inspire each other. I hope you enjoy the South Korea essay I just posted today. In a world where we obsess over data and think it’s the answer to everything I think there is something missing when we just look at charts without understanding people first. Thanks for the time you spent reading the content. Keep coming back!

    1. Thank you Jay. I appreciate you not only taking the time to read the article but to provide commentary and share with others.

    1. Thank you Harry, I hope you are doing well. Lots more to come. Stay tuned. Thanks for giving me your time.

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