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Miguel Quiroga of Visible: “Out think or out grind the situation”

Nearly every industry has been touched by digital and ecommerce disruption — except wireless. The industry that has enabled so much of this transformation is still largely in an era not unlike that of Blockbuster or 1–800. Today, with just a few touches on your smartphone, you can ask for a car, order your favorite meal, stock […]

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Nearly every industry has been touched by digital and ecommerce disruption — except wireless. The industry that has enabled so much of this transformation is still largely in an era not unlike that of Blockbuster or 1–800. Today, with just a few touches on your smartphone, you can ask for a car, order your favorite meal, stock up on groceries, split a bill, donate to a new cause, or search for your next pair of glasses.

Now, consumers finally have the same opportunity with their wireless service — they are easily able to switch carriers (to Visible!) right now — without waiting for a shipment, without a traditional store environment, and without sitting on hold after dialing an impersonal 800 number. The future of wireless service is eSIM.


The telephone totally revolutionized the way we could communicate with people all over the world. But then came email and took it to the next level. And then came text messaging. And then came video calls. And so on…What’s next? What’s just around the corner?

In this interview series, called ‘The Future Of Communication Technology’ we are interviewing leaders of tech or telecom companies who are helping to develop emerging communication technologies and the next generation of how we communicate and connect with each other.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Miguel Quiroga, CEO of Visible, the Verizon company and first all-digital wireless carrier in the U.S.

A proven executive leader with over 20 years’ experience in every layer of telecommunications, Miguel is uniquely poised to revolutionize the industry with Visible, changing the way consumers get, pay for, and manage their phone service.

Visible has been named to Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list and was named “Best Telecom Brand” in Adweek’s 2021 Challenger Brand Awards.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I’ve worked in telecommunications for over twenty years. I’ve always had a passion for technology and creative pursuits, and an early interest in computers led me to graduate from UT Dallas with a degree in Computer Science. I got my first job at GTE, which eventually became Verizon. I then moved to NYC as part of the centralization of the Verizon executive teams in the tri-state area, where I also got my MBA from Columbia University. During my time in New York, I was able to see firsthand the Silicon Alley ecosystem and got to see the advent of many of the early stage direct to consumer businesses which gained traction throughout the 2000s.

As part of my time in the industry, I’ve had the opportunity to lead organizations and strategies in every layer of the industry, including wireless and wireline, and served in a number of key leadership and executive roles, including Head of Customer Business Intelligence and Employee Experience at Verizon. Prior to joining Visible, I was the Vice President and Head of Digital at Fios, where I led the digital transformation of the business unit while building out the product and experience practices.

I’ve been incredibly privileged to be a part of so many key moments in the telecommunications industry. It’s felt like being at the front row seat of one disruptive moment after another. Whether it was the open market telecommunications transition or the disruptive growth of Fios’s first commercial launch, it’s been amazing to see what’s possible when teams of people decide to band together and solve problems. Throughout my experience, the one constant was transformation and disruption — and I’m excited to continue that journey with Visible.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

In one of my first jobs, I was hired almost immediately after I started, my boss left for two months. I was asked to lead a major platform architecture discussion and ensure that we delivered the necessary scope and requirements on time. Everyone there had over 10–20 years experience, and I did not, and I didn’t have context for what the deliverables were. There was a moment of: What am I doing here? Very quickly I realized that a) there were people there willing to help navigate, and b) I don’t have to know everything, but I can learn and help make a difference. The principles I learned there of identifying the problem, getting alignment on a combined strategy, and rallying resources and teams to build solutions for the problem at hand are still key learnings I carry to this day.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“It’s not about if or how you failed, it’s how you recover when you fall.”

Great teams, athletes, companies, artists all have one thing in common: they got to their great achievements through many iterations, trials, tests, successes and failures. The truly great leaders and companies have stood through those inevitable challenges by rebounding, and, even if it takes many many attempts, they continue to move forward and make progress.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I would attribute a great deal to both my parents. My father was an engineer, and my mother was a teacher and English major. The intersection of arts and sciences were part of everyday life, and the mindset of learning about the world around me was instilled at such an early age. I’m forever grateful that the desire to be curious, to learn, to listen (and listen to understand) were things that were encouraged so much growing up.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I hope I’ve brought goodness to the world by paying it forward and inspiring connection, the same way my mentors and previous bosses did for me.

I’ve had the fortunate opportunity of working with many people, teams, functions, and companies, and if there is one thing I’ve come to learn, and value, above all else, it’s the opportunity to grow, together. I love building teams, products, and experiences, and I’ve learned that it’s critical to build an environment where people can learn, partner, create, dream, and ultimately, grow. My mentors have taught me that we are better together, and it’s a learning I’ve tried to pass along to my team, too.

Additionally, at Visible we’ve worked to spread a bit of goodness since day one. Before we even had a product, we launched Visible Connect, a virtual accelerator program that provides nonprofits with philanthropic capital, ongoing mentorship, and other support to help them scale across their communities. Since then, we’ve supported many communities, including college students who identify as homeless, and New Majority founders and entrepreneurs. Now in its third year, nonprofits who have participated in Visible Connect have used mobile technology to create meaningful impact for more than 5.5 million lives.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about cutting edge communication tech that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

In early February, we introduced eSIM, which stands for electronic SIM. This means that customers don’t have to go to a store to set up a new phone, and can do it themselves from home, in as little as 15 minutes. Visible members simply need to download our app. When Visible was founded almost three years ago, this was a central part of our vision. So the fact that we’re realizing it now feels monumental, especially since we’re living through a moment in time that’s requiring all of us to be at home. Who doesn’t want to set up a new phone from the comfort of their couch?

While it’s true that some other carriers offer eSIM, Visible is the only carrier that is truly able to leverage the power of it in unprecedented ways. For example, other carriers that offer eSIM would really prefer their customers come into the store — but not us. For us, and for the wider society, eSIM is the latest way we are making high-quality wireless service accessible to all. There’s no contract, it’s easy to use, and whether you are someone who doesn’t live near a wireless carrier store or if you’d prefer not to go in-store these days, it makes an essential service like wireless so much easier to use.

How do you think this might change the world?

Nearly every industry has been touched by digital and ecommerce disruption — except wireless. The industry that has enabled so much of this transformation is still largely in an era not unlike that of Blockbuster or 1–800. Today, with just a few touches on your smartphone, you can ask for a car, order your favorite meal, stock up on groceries, split a bill, donate to a new cause, or search for your next pair of glasses.

Now, consumers finally have the same opportunity with their wireless service — they are easily able to switch carriers (to Visible!) right now — without waiting for a shipment, without a traditional store environment, and without sitting on hold after dialing an impersonal 800 number. The future of wireless service is eSIM.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

There are truly none that I can think of. eSIM enables ease and convenience, which this provides. And if you need some help to learn how to leverage eSIM, we have video tutorials and blogs for that as well.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

As I mentioned above, we actually saw eSIM coming and designed Visible with it in mind before we launched to the public nearly 3 years ago.

From the ground up, we designed ourselves to be a direct-to-consumer ecommerce business, on a mission to fundamentally change the way consumers get, pay for, and manage their phone service. We imagined: what would wireless experience look if it were invented now — twelve, thirteen years after the first iOS and Android devices were launched?

People often talk about the “blank sheet of paper” approach to building and transforming, and our team took that challenge, focusing on keeping things simple with the consumer-centric approach towards building the company. In many ways, eSIM captures the promise of what we always imagined the wireless service experience to be — easy to use, simple, and an essential part of everyone’s life.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

The last year certainly accelerated the need for ecommerce in all categories. The pandemic has naturally taken what would’ve taken five years down to one, so already, we’re seeing that so many want and seek out an all-digital purchasing experience — which we’ve been set up for since day one with our digital focused approach.

The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. How do you think your innovation might be able to address the new needs that have arisen as a result of the pandemic?

We’re moving further into an all-digital world, and one that values convenience and real value. Digital connectivity is also more important than ever before, with the emergence of Zoom school and companies that introduced work-from-home models. We felt this too when we went fully remote ourselves this past summer.

Visible, and eSIM, tick all of these boxes. Now, you can set up a new phone with Visible easily, quickly, and from home, with service that is as reliable as it is accessible. Our new Party Pay plan, which offers service for 25 dollars/month, and our new referral program, which allows you to get service for just 5 dollars/month when you bring a friend, make sure of that. It is not an option in today’s world to go without wireless service, and Visible is providing a viable solution for so many consumers.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. “Out think or out grind the situation.” You won’t always know everything or have all the answers. To the best of your ability, problem-solve the situation at hand. If you don’t have the answers, work hard to find them. Talk to people, look for help and learn as quickly as possible.
  2. “Always be learning” Every day is another opportunity to learn and grow and contribute. Tostop learning is to stay in place. Whether it is for businesses or yourself, you have to make progress. I remember an early boss telling me to pay close attention to leaders who I was able to directly interact with. Watch their approach, the way they asked questions, and how they regulated their emotions. They made the point, “The really strong leaders are passionate, but don’t let their emotions rule the conversation, so they can focus on asking the right questions.” The right questions are so often the key to learning.
  3. Be relentless in your vision. Sometimes you have to go sideways, or backwards to make progress. In life and in business, results and learning are not linear. If only it were that simple. Learning and growing is much more like a series of hills and valleys. If you only made the right decisions all the time, you’d never truly know the background about why the right (or wrong decisions) were being made. Every major transformation that I‘ve been a part of, including Visible, always has its supporters — and those who might not believe or understand the opportunity as clearly. What I found is you have to be relentless in your beliefs and vision. You can (and should) listen to others and adapt your vision, but never stop selling, sharing, dreaming, encouraging people to believe in your story and truths. Almost three years after Visible has launched, it’s exciting to see how people are drawn to the business and believe in what we are building.
  4. Make better decisions faster. Leadership is about decisions and decision-making. How can we make better decisions all the time, and improve not just the speed of decision but the precision and clarity of the choices in front of us?
  5. Maximize your full potential. Few people will be the best in their fields, but you can always strive to maximize your full potential, and what you’re capable of. I had a coach tell me once that I would never be a professional athlete, but that I could work with my own capabilities, and maximize what I was capable of performing — mentally and physically. That stayed with me because as individuals, teams, functional groups, and companies we can always seek to achieve more and maximize what is possible.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most people, it would be focused on ways to expose children across the world to the beauty of the intersection of the arts and science — just like my parents did for me. Technology is the centerpiece of so much innovation, but without the humanities, the empathy and impact can get lost. I would want to find a way to bring that sort of curriculum to all children very early on. Not just access, but using technology and arts together to create and build our future.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

https://visible.com

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.


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