You may know Alan Armstrong as the founder and CEO of Eigenworks and a pioneer of win/loss analysis.
Alan was dedicated to the idea that by listening to buyers and their stories — really listening — you can understand their decisions much better than with data alone.
But he was so much more than a business owner and B2B SaaS guy.
Alan embraced life in a big way, delighting in travel, impromptu road trips, spiritual retreats, philosophical conversations with friends under a starlit sky, fine Italian reds, and the occasional high-speed motorcycle ride.
For those of us who worked with Alan at Eigenworks, he was a coach, a mentor, and a boss who challenged us to rise to our potential. He saw that potential, even when we didn’t, and generously extended opportunities to learn and grow.
Always perceptive, always encouraging, always kind-hearted, Alan shaped us as individuals and as a team.
We didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to Alan properly. But we’ve been reflecting on what he taught us and how he enriched our lives immeasurably.
Alan, you were always a superb listener, and we hope you’re listening to our tributes now.
Julie Payne, Senior Buyer Intelligence Analyst and Team Lead
“What I really respected was that Alan questioned everything. Nothing was ever taken at surface level, it was always: ‘Why is that? What led you to that? Why do you assume that is true?’ I loved that curiosity. Of course he started a market research company – it was all about the “why’s”!
“I think I sharpened all of my own questioning and curiosity because of Alan. I learned not to accept the first thing you see as the answer, and to understand how much work you need to do to uncover the truth. He taught us how to get there, and I loved the methodology. It was exciting working for someone like Alan – truly motivating – you always had to bring your ‘A’ game. He helped us reach deeper and do our best work.
“Alan pushed me to be more confident in my own abilities. He pushed me to acknowledge my capacity. I’ve spent my career in mission-driven non-profits, and I was really surprised that I felt like I had found a home here. If Alan were here, he would definitely ask me, ‘Why do you think that is?’”
Laurie Meyer, Research Success Manager and Lead Recruiter
“I learned everything I know about recruiting from Alan. He coached me on asking for the interview and handling different personalities. I learned how to convince someone, how to press forward, how to not give up just because someone said ‘no.’ I learned how to read the cues of the person on the other end of the line.
“Sometimes he would say to me, ‘I think you should call them back, you’re close, try again.’ He taught me how to push forward gracefully.
“Once we had a client that really wanted to speak to a particular customer. I persisted and finally the customer replied to me – while I was driving. I pulled into a parking lot, explained what we do, and what we do for our clients -– I did my best. He didn’t schedule a call, but I felt he just might agree to an interview. I hung up, called Alan, and said, “Call him right now!” He did, and the customer agreed to take the interview. From that moment on, I felt Alan and I were a team.”
Samantha Davis, Director of Training
“Alan showed me that you can work really hard and still make time to have some fun. We went on business trips that were jam-packed with meetings and work, but we always made time to go to special places – restaurants, espresso bars, a Broadway show. He loved to do things that were intrinsically valuable.
“Alan taught me that not everything can be planned – you can accept a short-notice project and still deliver well. Sometimes clients came to us with big requests that were, in my eyes, not feasible for us, capacity-wise. Alan would say, “We have to do this, this is a really important client.” Then he would roll up his sleeves and get right into delivery. I learned to be less guarded, and more open, to those urgent requests.
“Thanks to Alan, I realize I’m way more capable than I ever thought I was. He believed in me more than I believed in myself. I’ll do better in my life and in my career because of that. I’m forever grateful.”
Alex McDonnell, Client Insight Lead / Managing Director
“Before I joined Eigenworks, I sent Alan a sample interview that I’d done. He sent me back a long email full of feedback and reflections. I was kind of stunned when I read it. I’d never been on the receiving end of such thorough feedback. No one had ever had the expertise to be so thoroughly critical. It was incredible, and it was the kind of professional growth and steep slope of learning I had been craving. That email from Alan clinched my decision to come to Eigenworks.
“Going forward, as I develop my own expertise and I give and receive feedback, I want to share with others the same thoroughness and honesty that Alan extended to me.
“Another thing I learned from Alan was to be sure to capture your moments of inspiration. Alan had these frequently – he was never afraid to go off topic if that’s where his inspiration took him – and he would always record the conversation on Zoom and take a picture of the whiteboard with his ideas jotted there. It was like building an archive of creativity that you can always go back to later.
“Alan taught me all kinds of powerful interviewing techniques. We would use them on each other, and label them – “hey, don’t ‘what-if’ me on that!” We had a shared vocabulary of techniques and an appreciation of how you can use them to go deep in an interview. What a different kind of conversation you can have at that level, when you dig under the surface layer to get to the beating heart of what is driving people’s decisions and actions.
“I use those techniques in interviewing and also in my life in general.”
Cameron Boyce, Client Success Operations Manager
“I learned about Kanban from Alan – he was a big fan of that. We use the Kanban swim lanes – ‘to do, doing, done’ – in our project tracking system. I also learned about the Agile approach from Alan, as he organized a workshop for us with someone who taught Agile.
“Alan put a lot of thought into our physical office space. He brought in interesting touches like the San Francisco cable car bell, the countertop with the burnt edge from the St. Jacobs Market fire, the Biltmore sign and the reclaimed metal window frames. He set up this environment to bring people in here and hone their skills. He had the ability to see strengths in people.”
Andre Csapo, Client Insight Lead
“I learned from how Alan used and embraced technology. He loved tech. Our clients are SaaS vendors, and we consumed a lot of SaaS tools – he lived and breathed this space. We used Zoom, Box, Slack, the Google suite, Hubspot, Salesforce, Airtable, Pandadoc, LastPass, Upwork, WagePoint, ReceiptBank, WordPress, PowerPoint, Excel, and others.
“Alan would often say, ‘Would you like a pro tip?’ if he saw someone struggling with a software tool. He wanted people to be able to take full advantage of the tools. He knew them inside and out. He brought new ways of working, and I learned from that. Sometimes he would send a Zoom recording to someone instead of an email. He was very natural and comfortable on a video call.
“Alan was continually fine-tuning his interview methodology. He was always trying to improve so that he could extract the most value from those in-depth client interviews. He had chosen to focus on B2B SaaS, and he always wanted to do more and go deeper.”
Stacey Campbell-Coady, Finance Manager
Alan and I bonded over kettlebell workout stories and talking about our teenage kids when we first met about a potential job with Eigenworks. He was very persistent and convinced me that I was the right candidate for the job. Alan understood that I was looking for a flexible position that allowed me to work part-time and remain very present for my family. Not a lot of companies allow such flexibility, and I will always be grateful for his trust that I could get the job done despite having a busy home life.
“I always admired Alan’s ability to go with his gut, relying on a ‘vibe’ and intuition to help make decisions. He was a risk-taker and I am definitely risk-averse. He taught me how to trust my gut, that making mistakes is okay as long as you learn from them, and that nothing is gained from taking the road less travelled. Alan travelled many roads – he was diverse, eclectic, and even existential, and I enjoyed listening to his advice about ‘letting go of the small stuff,’ a term used a lot in our conversations. He often said I had to get out of my head and go with my heart when making decisions, even in the finance world.
“We as a team joked often about Alan’s love of spreadsheets, but I have to say that I was able to pick up many tips and tricks thanks to Alan’s expertise in this area. I’m more confident now using spreadsheets and many other software applications learned during my time with Alan. While many companies are still paper-driven, Eigenworks (thanks to Alan) was, in my opinion, cutting-edge in terms of using software to drive our business forward.
“I’m thankful Alan took a chance on me. I take with me knowledge and experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise.”
Kristine Culp, Business Development Manager
“Alan brought me into my role and showed me how to nurture leads and use the software tools to communicate and engage. He was a great mentor in the way he related to clients and prospects. He was direct and genuine. We had fun working on proposals together – Alan loved to finesse the Powerpoint deck and show me tips. I’ll always be grateful to him for taking the time to nurture my skills in such a warm, collaborative way.
“He was an inspiring leader, full of ideas and energy. He created an exciting environment and built a team to support it.
“Alan was an amazing listener. Once, he was talking through something with me, and I started to interject but held back, not wanting to interrupt his flow. He heard my intake of breath and that was enough for him to stop short and turn directly to me. “Yes?” he said. I was astonished at how closely he was listening – how incredibly attuned he was to the person he was in conversation with.
“For me, that was Alan – perceptive, engaged, affirming. A true mentor and friend, a kind and beautiful human being.”