Saturday, August 8, 2009

Phil Novack of Mindjet interviewed

It’s not very often I jump at the chance to interview a fellow visual mapping colleague. But, when Phil Novack: the manager of global communications at Mindjet agreed to answer a few questions posed to him regarding Mindjet; well here’s the result.

1. Tell us about your position and work within the Mindjet organization?

I’m the manager of global communications for Mindjet. We sell our products around the globe and have offices on three different continents. My job is to maximize Mindjet’s awareness in all of these different locales, focusing on spreading the message of Mindjet’s leading position as a provider of personal productivity and collaboration solutions that visually connect ideas, information and people to save time, improve business processes and drive innovation.

2. Overview the history of Mindjet to date?

Mindjet started in the mid 1990s as a programming project by Mike Jetter centered on the technique of mind mapping. Shortly thereafter he formed a company to sell his new software. With more than 10 years of development, Mindjet is the worldwide leader in providing visual information mapping and collaboration solutions to users around the world.

3. Why do you believe Mindjet is and remains to be the leader within the Mind mapping arena?

Mindjet is used by more than 1.5 million professionals around the world in six out of every 10 of the companies listed in the Fortune 100. By dramatically boosting productivity and team effectiveness, Mindjet has a proven track record of delivering solid business value for our users. Surveys across several industries show that Mindjet can increase productivity by up to 25 percent by making meetings, common communications and project management tasks more efficient and effective. When potential customers evaluate all of their options, they’re consistently drawn to what works; oftentimes the best sales reference is word-of-mouth. Well, almost 70 percent of our current sales come this way: a friend or a colleague telling another friend or colleague. Those are excellent references for us, and they have helped us maintain our leadership position.

4. Would you agree the term “Visual mapping” encompasses moving beyond mere Mind mapping?

Mind mapping is a technique, primarily a brainstorming technique. Obviously, MindManager is a great brainstorming tool, but it’s much more than that as well: people use it to drive presentations, manage complex projects, streamline complicated business processes and reduce time-to-market. As you know, many people also use it to keep their day-to-day lives in order. Lots of individuals have suggested several different names for what MindManager can do for you or your business, so something other than “mind mapping” would be accurate in that it goes beyond just the act of brainstorming. As it stands though, “mind mapping” seems to be the term with which most people are currently familiar.

5. Has the term “Mind mapping” been an impediment to the further infusion of Mind Manager as a Visual mapping product?

Sometimes people hear the term “mind mapping” and it conjures up ideas completely unrelated to what MindManager actually does. But one of our primary jobs is to educate potential users about the benefits of Mindjet, and that’s where we focus our resources. Once people see the power of what Mindjet offers and how we offer significant business value by cutting down time-to-market, reducing the length of the sales cycle, or smoothly managing a difficult project, they don’t care what it’s called. They just know that we made a significant difference in their ability to achieve success!

6. The business and academic environments has been the focus of Mindjet for some time; what about a more personal approach to productivity and self development?

One of the great things about MindManager is its flexibility. That means that you can use it to manage an enormously complex project; like for example all of the logistics surrounding production of a new airplane being built by a major aircraft manufacturer. Or you can sit in your office, at home or at work, and map out your personal goals, and keep your day-to-day life on track. At, you can find many use cases from individuals who use Mindjet in business and academic settings and also personal productivity use cases. I would also encourage readers to check out our blog at where our chief evangelist Michael Deutch often posts about ways to improve your personal productivity and accelerate your development.

7. Do you have any favorite add-ins you use for personal productivity and self development?

I think all of our add-ins provide potentially excellent added value for our users depending on their needs. All users need to do is to check out the Mindjet Partner Solutions site at to see the many offerings that are available and find out which may be best suited for them.

8. Why so many third party add-ins for Mind Manager?

I think one of the strengths of any particular software platform is the vibrancy of its developer community. The thousands of new apps each month in the Apple App Store, for example, are a testament to the iPhone’s popularity. While we’re not on the same scale as Apple (at least not yet!), we’re proud of the strong developer community that has formed around MindManager and we’re constantly encouraging innovative developers to produce add-ins that will augment the already significant value of our products.

9. Have users asked for specific add-ins to be integrated to Mind Manager?

Whether it’s for features or add-ins, we constantly get requests from our users. If you have an idea for an add-in or a way to improve any Mindjet products we encourage you to send your ideas to

10. Database qualities are being offered in competing benchmarks; can we expect a more robust approach to the data/information/knowledge management in future editions?

MindManager 8 in fact has a robust data linking ability that enables users to connect their MindManager maps to Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft SQL server, MySQL server, and .CSV format databases. You can find this feature in the Insert menu under “Databases.” We are always working on ways to improve Mindjet products, however, and anyone with any suggestions should send them to

11. How has Web 2.0 impacted Mindjet’s approach to SAAS?

We have a technology that is especially well suited to the social and community-driven aspects of Web 2.0. At its very core, a MindManager map is a very powerful way of sharing information. That information could be for internal use only, as is the case in many business implementations. But when you want to communicate information to the outside world, you can create a Mindjet Player file that can be shared on any website, blog or wiki. This can have a tremendous viral effect. Mindjet recognizes the power of hosted services and their ability to take advantage of user communities online. In the future, you will see a new approach to way Mindjet tackles sharing capabilities online.

12. Mindjet Connect: has it fulfilled your expectations regarding collaboration?

We’re constantly impressed by what our customers are doing with Mindjet Connect. We currently have thousands of Mindjet Connect users who are logging in and collaborating with their colleagues. They’re using it actively to do everything from implementing new sales force training programs to the planning and execution of academic conferences to information dashboards for remote workers and more. Visual collaboration is a central tenet of what Mindjet is all about, and we’re continuing to invest in, develop and expand our collaboration capabilities for our users.

13. Can you (within reason) give us a glimpse of what to expect from Mindjet in future editions?

Well I can’t say specifically what we’re working on, but I can say that we have an exciting pipeline right now. It’s so exciting that I’m anxious to just let all the news out now, because it’s that cool. From collaboration products to solutions to the different platforms on which our software is available, we’re working on a little bit of something for everyone.

14. What are users saying about Mindjet Mind Manager?

We have tons of great quotes from our users. One of the best, I think, is from Stu Schmidt, currently vice president of sales at Unisfair and former Webex executive. Stu recently said that MindManager "is the only application that I’ve said is never optional. Wherever I go I have to have MindManager." Stu has detailed for us the business value he gets from deploying MindManager throughout his organization, including the fact that MindManager has cut the length of his company’s sales cycle by 66 percent. When you get results like that for your customers, consistently and across the board, it’s not hard to find great testimonials!

15. What are the challenges for Mindjet, as we move towards a more monetized knowledge economy?

We prefer to see them as opportunities. As the knowledge economy continues to grow, knowledge itself becomes more valuable. As knowledge becomes more valuable, easy access to that knowledge will be very important. We believe we’re well positioned because Mindjet makes visual collaboration and productivity solutions that, at their core, provide people with instant access to both their own and their colleagues’ information, so they can make the best informed decisions to improve their bottom line, to make a sound organizational decision, or to simply organize their personal life so they can put themselves in positions to succeed. We believe Mindjet is an invaluable tool for the knowledge economy, and will become even more so in the future.

16. What is your elevator conversation piece regarding Mind Manager?

MindManager is a personal productivity solution that visually connects ideas, information, and people to help you save time, improve business processes, and drive innovation. MindManager enables you and your team work in real-time to organize, manage, and communicate ideas and information while solving real business problems.

17. What’s the link to your sales pages at Mindjet?

You can find our free trial page at or you can find out how to contact Mindjet Sales at


Brian S. Friedlander, Ph.D said...

Hey Wallace:

Great interview with Phil. Wonderful graphics- keep up the great blogging!


Kyle McFarlin said...


Thanks for doing the interview as I enjoyed it supremely. I'd love to hear if the elevator pitch works well as I had a brain fart the first time I read it but then was liking it the second time through.