GOOD

Figures of Progress: Tayloe Stansbury, Chief Technology Officer at Intuit


This content is brought to you by IBM. GOOD and IBM have teamed up to bring you the Figures of Progress series to explore the different ways that information has revolutionized our world. Click here to read more stories.

In the past, managing your finances often meant balancing your checkbook at the kitchen table at night or making an appointment with a financial advisor at the bank. But today, managing your finances with speed, convenience, and accuracy has advanced by leaps and bounds thanks to the powerful technology that anyone can access. Since 1983, Intuit has worked to simplify financials, and is the powerhouse behind household names such as Quicken, QuickBooks, TurboTax and Mint.com.


Behind the technology Intuit produces is senior vice president and chief technology officer Tayloe Stansbury. Stansbury leads the engineering teams as they create Intuit’s innovative products and services for small businesses and the everyday consumer. “Intuit is in the business of improving the financial lives of consumers and small businesses—and with our expanding global presence, that pretty much covers everyone,” says Stansbury.

But how do they go about improving financial health? Data, of course. Intuit utilizes data not only to improve the products it offers, but also to help its customers improve themselves. Stansbury says, “Data enables us to deliver personalized insights, products and features that improve our customers' financial lives so profoundly, they can't imagine going back the old way.” By using Mint.com, QuickBooks, or one of Intuit’s other offerings, customers are able to sort and organize their personal financial data in more useful ways to gain insights, find patterns about spending and savings, and ultimately have more transparency on their own financial lives to make informed decisions.

And consumers really are improving their habits. Take Mint.com for instance. The site allows users to easily track their spending habits and set financial goals in a way that is organized and tailored to each user’s unique situation. Intuit first launched the goal setting feature three years ago, which analyzes spending habits and identifies way users can save money to put towards reaching that goal. “Since the launch [of the feature], more than 6 million goals have been created and users have saved nearly $40 billion toward those goals, “ says Stansbury.

The team at Intuit is often turning to data to decide on features and improve existing products, which according to Stansbury allows the company to deliver a better customer experience. Another example of data being organized to empower users is TurboTax. Last year, Intuit received around a quarter of a million reviews on TurboTax, and now shoppers wanting to learn more about the tool can easily analyze those reviews based on their own situation such as becoming a homeowner or being married. “Every situation has multiple unbiased reviews. As a result, our reviews have become 15 percent more convincing to our new customers,” says Stansbury.

For Stansbury, he feels it’s important for leaders to have customer empathy and a focus on delivering great product experiences. “This means delighting customers not only with the product, but also with the shopping experience before purchase and the support experience after.” Intuit is putting this into practice with small business owners across the U.S. and one of their new offerings, QuickBooks Financing. According to Stansbury less than 35 percent of applicants aren’t approved for bank loans and many don’t even bother to apply because of the long and time-consuming process. But with QuickBooks Financing, small business owners can easily share financial information with lenders. The platform pulls data from QuickBooks into applications giving lenders greater insights and business owners less headaches.

And that’s important. With less complications and easy-to-use software consumers and business owners alike are empowered to do more. “By solving people’s financial problems we help them realize their dreams, freeing them up to do what really matters to them,” notes Stansbury.

Articles
via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

Communities
via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

Lifestyle

Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet