We Are Joining HubSpot!

Today, my company oneforty is thrilled to officially announce we are joining inbound marketing software company HubSpot. You can read the release from HubSpot here and a note from my CEO Laura Fitton on the oneforty blog.

I’m here to tell you a little more about what’s next for me and why I’m excited to join HubSpot. I am honestly, genuinely happy to join them. You’d have to see the goofy grin on my face in person when talking about it to probably fully believe and appreciate that, but I am truly fired up about it.

For those of you who don’t know what HubSpot does, they make software that helps marketers get found by customers through blogging, social media and SEO. Since their Performable acquisition, they now include even more tools that help with “MOFU” or middle of the funnel activities like email and A/B testing. This video helps explain:

Ever since I learned about the company in 2009 and visited HubSpotTV, I’ve chugged the HubSpot Koolaid hard. I read David Meerman Scott’s New Rules of Marketing and PR on spring break in Cancun and Brian and Dharmesh’s Inbound Marketing Book on the T in Boston. I’ve downloaded me some eBooks, graced my followers’ streams with many a HubSpot blog post and gazed longingly into the slides of Dan Zarrella’s science of social media webinars. I am a fangirl who has learned a ton from the free content they offer their community members and tried to replicate that with some things for oneforty.

For me, HubSpot is a great personal opportunity and I feel really lucky to have this in front of me. First off, I look good in orange. :P Also, I’m looking forward to working with and learning from marketing pros Mike Volpe and Jeanne Hopkins. I will also still get to work with my friends and oneforty co-workers Mike Champion, Laura Fitton and Jeremy Crane. I will gain experience in inbound marketing at a much more massive scale. They generate upwards of 40k leads a month and it’s a chance for me to grow in areas like metrics and social media, working with an even wider audience. I hope we prove ourselves with content and customer service to the community I built with oneforty and show them why they should come along for this journey with us.

Throughout the past year at oneforty I’ve learned so much about marketing, building community and startups. Working last night I stumbled into old notes from back in April when we were still thinking of a name for SocialBase.

I gotta be honest with ya, this piece of scrap paper might be my new favorite material thing. It represents a time to me when we were building something from nothing. This. Is. Startup.

It’s not parties with brogrammers at SXSW, launch day when you get that one big press hit because you got funding and everyone loves you or anything at all like the movie The Social Network. This is hard work. It’s confusing. Like slow dancing in middle school. Know what I’m saying?

Most days in startuplife are unremarkable and they aren’t for the faint of heart. It means being up at midnight thinking about the name for a new product or coding. If the idea of the everyday and the creativity doesn’t excite you, with or without the glamour of press and “startup” label, then this isn’t for you. (And that’s ok.)

At oneforty I, along with my amazing freelance team, have written a lot about the tools you should use to manage and measure social media strategy for the oneforty blog. Blog posts have included:

I have something to admit: none of this actually matters. Tools, timing, keywords and ROI aside – community is really about making people feel like they are a part of something special. You need to understand people to do marketing and build community. The rest is details, but without this foundation, you’re screwed.

People want to feel validated – People not only want answers to the questions they have, but they like feeling as though you have had the same questions yourself before. Being a community manager is about striking the balance between being the thought leader and the informed friend.

People want fantastic customer service – On social media, just being responsive can win. For years we have emailed customer service “contact us” emails and not gotten so much as a peep. We’ve waited on hold. Twitter is real-time – it feels more immediate. Just feeling heard by a company when you’ve got a question or you’re complaining about an issue goes a long way. Usually in my experience, those who take the time to complain have also taken the time to thank us, publicly. It’s social proof.

People want you to have an opinion – It surprised me when our negative blog posts highlighting “common mistakes” or “things to avoid” did so well, but then as I learned about people more, it really didn’t. People want to know specifically what they should or shouldn’t do. They want actionable takeaways. B2B? Tell them what email marketing tactics suck. B2C? Tell them what nutritious food to buy to lose weight or what clothes to buy to “get the look for less.” Tell them. That’s why they visited your site.

Joining HubSpot means joining an organization that lives and breathes this. These are the cornerstones of inbound marketing. They have an opinion, offer educational content that helps community members learn about marketing long before the sale and deliver incredible customer service. They get people, engage them and help people with their businesses. I’m thrilled to be a part of an exploding company that aims to be nothing less than the “Salesforce of marketing” and can’t wait for this next chapter to begin.

To close, I would just say thank you to the oneforty community. Getting to know many of you one-on-one has been a joy and continuing our friendships with the HubSpot community will be a fun journey to take together. And last, but most importantly I offer an admittedly vague “thank you” to my (*real*) friends and family, as you know who you are. Regardless of any professional success, there are people who loved me when I was an unpaid intern and a waitress. There are new people in my life who didn’t know me then, but would love me no matter what I did for a living. Those people have encouraged me and supported me throughout this journey. I’m like a freaking walking Hallmark card, but I love you to the moon and back.

“Where we’re going we don’t need roads.”

To the next chapter!

How to Build Community With Better Content

Creating interesting and informative content is a fantastic way to build a community within your target audience. Why is this important for your business? There are several reasons:

  • Content draws the right people to your company’s website by leveraging the right subject matter and keywords.
  • People share great content, and how much people share your content counts for how you rank in Google.
  • Helpful content builds trust. It shows your expertise in whatever your company is selling and gets your community excited about your brand. Content offers something of value to your audience before you ask for something in return (like an email address… or a credit card).

So what are some ways that you can do this at your business?

1. Blog Often

If you check out our friends from HubSpot’s Science of Blogging webinar by Dan Zarrella, you’ll learn some more specific reasons (like website traffic) why blogging frequently matters. Basically, switching from blogging once-a-month or once-a-week to every day will completely change the blogging game for you.

Hubspot and SEOMoz are two examples of businesses that create daily blog content, and hence have created communities and positioned themselves as experts in their fields.

 

HubSpot’s inbound marketing blog has helped build a community of marketers.

 

SEOmoz creates daily blog content about SEO, offering value to their community of marketers and SEOs.

We’ve recently shared some tips on how to organize your blogging team and how to set up an editorial calendar to scale this strategy for your business.

2. Monitor Social Media to Discover Your Community’s Pain Points

Understand the types of questions that your community members are asking on social media regarding your industry. Respond to those questions with good content. Set up a search terms and Twilerts for appropriate hashtags and industry terms. On Twitter, you can make conversational searches and see what people are really asking about. Here are some example searches:

  • “(industry keyword) + sucks”
  • “competitor + sucks”
  • “I hate _____”
  • “Is there a ______?”
  • “Anyone know of a ________?”
  • “What is the best ________?”
  • “How do you _______ with ______?”

To enhance your content even more, do some research with Google Insights to make sure you’re targeting the right keywords with your content. “Pain points” + keywords make your posts highly searchable. If they’re asking about it on Twitter, your community members are probably Googling for it, too.

3. Write a Decent Headline

So we make fun of link-bait headlines like “What Every Entrepreneur Could Learn from Justin Beiber” and the like… but you clicked it, and you ReTweeted it, didn’t you? Yep. Caught ya.

Clearly we don’t have to be this severe in our headline writing, but listen: There’s a lot of clutter out there and a ton of content being shared. If you write a headline that makes your content sound appealing and helpful to your community, you’re much more likely to get them to read it. See how Copyblogger and Problogger write great headlines for their content, but back it up with great content. They are role models to follow with this.

Most important: If you’re going to have a catchy headline like “10 reasons to ___,” first make sure they are 10 good reasons! No one cares about your catchy headline if your content is garbage.

4. Shake it up with different types of content

Offering a variety of content to your community is a great way to keep things fresh on your blog and keep your community coming back for more. It’s easy to get writer’s block when you’re writing about the same industry, products or company each day, but using a variety of tools and leveraging your community are ways you can continue to keep things interesting. Here are some content ideas:

1. Write how-to articles

2. Do a screencast of your product. Screenr is a free screencast-creation tool that helps you make Tweetable screencasts

3. List common mistakes in your industry and offer ways people can fix them

4. List hypothetical problems that your product can solve

5. Talk about recent industry studies and your take on them

6. Make an infographic

7. Dissect a couple key points from a webinar or ebook and repurpose that into blog content

8. Discuss a recent industry-related event or current news

9. Give takeaways from a conference

10. Do video interviews with community members and post them to the blog

11. Offer guest post opportunities to expert community members

12. Curate content from resources that your community cares about and do a “news-roundup” style blog post

13. Top-ten lists, Top 20 lists… Top 30…

You can also try digital storytelling tools like Storify and Tweetwally to offer a new way to show Tweets in your posts. So, if you had a particularly useful Twitter conversation with community members, include that in a blog post. Or, maybe refer to some great Tweets from a webinar, and refer to that in a blog post. These are two very beautiful ways to display that.

Here’s Tweetwally in action:

Here’s Storify:


Content is huge for us at oneforty. What has worked for us? We try a lot of different things and see what sticks. We blog every day, so we have the room to do that. If something didn’t work that great, we try again tomorrow (we don’t wait a month.) Some posts are more popular than others, but trying different things each day has given us the freedom to search for, and discover, what seems to resonate with our community. But that’s just my take.

How do you use content to build your community? Let me know in the comments!

How I Got My First Job in Boston

This is a re-post of a guest post I did for Greenhorn Connect. You can find the original post here. Greenhorn Connect is a great resource if you’re looking to learn about the startup ecosystem in Boston. There’s things like a job board and events calendar to connect you to like-minded startupers in the area. Check it out!

I’m awful at math. In 1st grade we learned things like odd and even numbers. When other munchkins were ready for things like addition and subtraction, a perplexed 6-year-old Janet thought, “What the hell?” and scripted surprisingly well-articulated  essays about why I hated math during writer’s workshop.

Battling my “clinical inability to deal with numbers,” I always had to ask for extra help after class or do corrections on math tests in high school. I was pretty cool. My amazing mother reassured me on nights I actually cried over algebra homework that learning to work hard was preparing me for something later in life. It did.

This taught me to turn anxiety into action, that achieving goals boils down practical execution and that believing in yourself means trusting you that you’ll do what it takes to make things happen.

I’m from Buffalo, NY and I graduated from St. John Fisher, which is nearby in Rochester, NY. I moved to Boston right after graduation in June 2009 for a PR internship at SHIFT Communications. In August 2009 I got my first big kid job as an account coordinator for Kel & Partners. Every single day I feel lucky that I got to move to Boston.

Unless you’re a computer science major with a $10,000 dowry, finding your first job out of college is generally tricky. You have to get someone to give you your big break because you haven’t proven yourself professionally yet. That’s tough in any economy.

These are the specific things I did that worked for my job search to move to Boston.

1. Networking on Social Media

I joined Twitter in the fall of 2008 for Introduction to Digital Media class. I knew I wanted to be in Boston and do PR. I followed PR agencies and PR people working in Boston to learn about the job market. I read blogs and wrote about my job search and what I was learning about social media on my own blog. This helped me connect with the Boston PR scene even though I was still in Upstate, NY.

My passion for social media stems directly from the humbling generosity I experienced during this time. People I met through Twitter, who didn’t know me and who had absolutely no reason to invest time in me, answered my questions and offered candid advice. People commented on my blog posts and shared them and that built my confidence. I quickly realized that the connections you can make in social media are very real.

These people know who they are and all I can say is thank you. You really helped me. And I’m doing what I can to pay it forward.

2. Informational Interviews

Everyone told me the same thing: “No one is hiring.” I couldn’t get real interviews, so I did a ton of informational ones instead. I figured that way, they’d know who I was if they were hiring in the future. (It worked! That’s how I got my job at Kel & Partners.)

In February I went on spring break with friends from BC. I turned that into an opportunity to (skip a midterm and…) line up an intense day of 5 or 6 informational interviews. That day was great. I experienced that exhilarating hustle of Boston that people can take for granted after a while and that you don’t feel when you’re here for vacation. Boston swept me off my feet that day and I knew I would make my job search a success because I wanted to be here so badly.

3. Ignored the News

I was relentlessly bombarded with articles about the bleak job outlook for 2009 graduates. The media loves a good sob story. Early on in my job hunt, I made a deliberate choice to have a Pollyanna attitude about it all and focus on things I could control – my actions.

I couldn’t control the economy or what the government was or wasn’t going to do to help. I could have perspective: I could feel compassion for the thousands of people whose names I didn’t know who got laid off at companies across the country that were on the evening news. But I couldn’t let negative news get to me and slow down my momentum in my job hunt. So for the most part, I just ignored that news.

I recommend this to all job-hunting 2011 graduates. It’s fine to be aware of the challenge ahead of you, but leave it at that and keep moving forward.

4. Kept it Real and Took a Chance

Of course I wanted a “real job,” but I was acutely aware of situation with the economy. I took a leap of faith and moved to Boston for a paid internship. I trusted myself that I would do what it took to get a full-time job for after the internship once I got here. This prepared me for startupland, where many times you’re faced with uncertainty and you have to trust yourself that you’ll just do what it takes to make a situation work.

Who Ya Calling Entitled?

People love calling Gen Y entitled, like we think the world owes us a job because we went to college. I’ve read news stories about people suing their alma maters because they couldn’t find jobs after graduation. Now that’s crazy talk, son.

I never felt like anyone owed me a job. Sometimes I felt scared because I was in Boston alone doing this internship, my student loans were coming and I didn’t really know where my life was going. (I’m only human; it’s called being 22.) Then I thought about hypothetical people with real responsibilities like babies and mortgages who maybe had just gotten laid off, and I clearly stopped feeling sorry for myself.

Most importantly: My story is not unique by any stretch of the imagination.

I am one of millions of motivated young people who want to work hard. We’ll stay late. We’ll rise to the occasion. We aren’t afraid of an uphill battle.

When you think about the future of Boston, don’t think of the entitled Gen Y-ers. Sure, there are people like that – from every generation. But those are the minority, the particularly odd and special cases, and that’s why they get coverage in the NY Times.

There are many young people in Boston who are not acting like people owe them jobs. They’re creating jobs by building companies and enhancing our startup community. HerCampus, Greenhorn Connect, Bostinnovation, Gemvara and Dart Boston are all led by Gen Y-ers and are all here in Boston doing incredible things.

A blurry sense of opportunity in Boston drew me here, but the very tangible innovation and optimism in our startup community is what makes me want to stay. I couldn’t be more thankful to those whose advice helped me move here, and I couldn’t be more thankful to that anxious, mathematically-challenged college graduate who took a chance on an internship and moved to Boston on a whim. You did the right thing.

How to: Get Started in Social Media for Small Business

I was so excited that SCVNGR invited oneforty to be a part of its small business social media summer school series. On June 27, I stopped over to SCVNGR’s (very cool) offices to talk about tips for getting started in social.

Here are my slides, as well as a little cheat sheet of tactics and resources that I handed out. Feel free to pass along to clients, your aunt with a coffee shop, etc etc. Whoever you think would find social media 101 tips to be helpful.

Something I said toward the beginning of my talk was that even though there are so many platforms to participate in and tools to choose from, there are universal things you’ll need to do on each platform no matter what. So, my message was to just understand these ideas, and that way no matter what platform you’re thinking of participating in, you’ll know how to approach them.

These ideas include:

1. Claim your page on that platform – Complete all the information, and represent your brand. (I used the analogy of, you wouldn’t walk into high school first day without your shoes on. You shouldn’t step out into social media that way either.)

2. Listen & Respond – Chances are, people are already talking about you on social media. First and foremost, set up searches so you can find these mentions and respond to these people, whether they are saying positive or negative things. This applies whether you’re monitoring FourSquare checkins or Twitter mentions.

3. Be Genuine - A first-person, human voice works best. Some brands’ styles are more casual and others are more formal, but either way people like to know that it’s a real human behind the logo-avatar. That’s how you build relationships and make the most of social media.

Here’s the information:

Are We Iterating When We Should Be Pivoting?

I think the unfortunate thing about caring about your job as more than just a job is exactly that: you care. You emotionally feel something for your idea or project that you are working on. When things change or don’t go well, you feel that too.

To be honest, this social business hub thing is a pivot and this is tough. I enjoyed a refreshing moment of clarity going home last week and spending time with my parents. They ask questions like “when is a startup not a startup anymore?” and just recently understood my job thanks to a news piece they watched on Fox News about Charlie Sheen. Far outside of the Boston startup/social media echochamber that I live in, they loved me when I was a waitress and don’t really care what I do when I grow up. I’m enough for them. I think a point of reference is important.

What is a pivot? I hear that word tossed around a lot and I wanted to make sure I was acurately diagnosing my experience. I researched a little and found this inspiring video. In this video, super angel Mike Maples outlines three different pivots he has advised and defines that pivots are not about product iteration, but business model. We’re not adding a couple new features; we’re re-drawing sales funnels, kids.

Yea, this is a pivot.

What does this feel like? I feel like the B2C, UberTwitter-loving Twitter App Store dumped me on prom night. And I loved that app store. It feels like a breakup. Like a Ben & Jerry’s, vodka and chick flicks breakup. I feel like this:

You fall in love with your original idea. You sweat and toil and commit to it. You’re quoted publically about it. You wear the t-shirt. You spend time away from other things, on the weekends holidays and nights, because you are working on this thing. Your passion for this idea re-prioritizes your life.

But then it’s not getting traction, so you have to breakup and make a change. Quickly. I’m not even a founder but I’m…sad. It’s the best way to describe it. (Don’t get me wrong: I actually love what we’re focusing on even more now. I just invested a lot into that original idea, and other people on my team who’ve been here longer even more so.)

I’m learning more about pivots. I found this post on Fred Wilson’s blog about Hashable. Did you know they used to be a company called Tracked? If you scroll down to their CMO’s fantastic comment, you can learn a little more about their process. It sounds like they considered simply focusing on a few good features of Tracked (iterating) but they ultimately chose to completely relaunch as a new site with mobile applications, Hashable. They pivoted.

They focused on finding product/market fit during the concept, alpha and beta stages and then once they had more confidence in their product, began to build buzz. (Although, they were never in “stealth mode.”) Will they be successful? It’s an interesting concept to me, almost like a “CRM for Twitter” in my mind and people seemed to be warming up to it at SXSW. And they have evangelists already. I know how tough it is to build community. I give them huge credit for that.

What I really give them credit for is making the big pivot. The big switch. Digging through research for this blog post I found a ton of Slideshare presentations on “pivot case studies” that to me weren’t about true pivots. They were about product iteration – which is important! I subscribe to the lean startups ideology and think you should iterate and iterate and iterate based on customer feedback until you find that thing that sticks. It’s about perfecting and not perfection. But what I’m wondering is this: How many startups out there are iterating too much? How much time are we wasting iterating on a concept that isn’t getting traction, when you should really make the big jump and target your business model?

I’m talking about mothballing that site you built while you missed your kid’s soccer game and moving onto something else. I’m talking about alienating half of a community you built because they aren’t in your target audience anymore. This is a difficult but necessary choice. I wonder if some startups don’t do this early enough and are left to wonder about the business model that got away.

This is my first startup and like I said, I’m not a founder. I just wish the Twitter App Store and I broke up at homecoming so I could take another business model to prom.

The Career-Girl Manifesto

Computer science Barbie inspires me. She happens to be a girly girl, and happens to like computers too. So that’s how she presents herself. The combination of her intelligence plus her authenticity shows her capacity for effective leadership. She’ll be your boss one day. I’m talking to you, lame startup guy.

Women are told that we need to act more like men to get ahead. We need to downplay our feminine ways and stop sabotaging our careers by doing girly things, like over-explaining ourselves, leaving crappy voicemails and using emoticons in emails. And we can’t cry – that makes guys uncomfortable. And God forbid we make people uncomfortable by being too girly.

But you know what makes people really uncomfortable? Downplaying your girly side. Embrace commanding body language. Be assertive, take charge and leave the emoticons at the door.

You just can’t win. The messages are confusing. They’re telling you you have to act a certain way to garner the respect and trust to earn a high-power position, but you can’t try too hard or else that’s distracting and threatening and people won’t like you. This message is conflicting, frustrating and unproductive, especially for young women like myself who are just starting out in our careers.

Men and women are not equal – we’re different. In Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk, “Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders”, she diplomatically explains some reasons men get ahead in the workplace and points out some things they do better than us:

  • 57% of men negotiate their first salaries. Only 7% of women do this. (Wonder where the pay gap begins?)
  • Men attribute their success to themselves (“I’m awesome!”) while women attribute their success to external factors (“So and so helped me along the way…”) No one gets a promotion if they don’t think they deserve success!

I like to see behavior differences between myself and my male peers and think about things they do differently (and in my opinion, better) than me. I find the guys I work with to be more direct in how they communicate than I am. They make decisions faster than me. I think that’s because they’re more confident than I am and they don’t waste time second guessing themselves. They take credit for their work. They never seem to feel like people are taking advantage of them, whereas I do. You teach people how to treat you. Is this a difference between men and women in general or just between some assertive guys and a learning-to-be-more-assertive girl? I’m not sure.

While these points are somewhat worth exploring for personal growth I think it’s more worthwhile for young women to identify and cultivate their personal strengths than it is for them to try and act like one of the guys just for the sake of downplaying our feminine sides.

Because honestly, no matter what you do to downplay your feminine side, your gender is still out there. It’s this pulsing theme in the background of your life. No, not all women want to be moms, but the potential and desire for motherhood has a huge impact on your career, the choices you make and the stresses you feel outside the office. Women have miscarriages at the office. Then they go to board meetings. Even the most conservative/prepared/cautious birth control-pill-popping-20-something career girl secretly does a little fist pump and thinks “Yes! Dodged another one!” every month. She doesn’t want kids, she’s focused on her career. She’s in law school or getting her MBA or something. All of this only to end up doing IVF at age 35 and squinting at a pregnancy test every month praying she gets the two pink lines. (Worth noting: 11 of the 12 female Fortune 500 CEO’s are moms.) Even if you do end up on Forbe’s 50 most powerful women in the world list, they’re still gonna list your marital status and the number of children you have. Sure it’s 2011 but we’re still somewhat defined by our ability to reproduce and get hitched, not only culturally but also by the personal choices we have to make along the way. You’re still a woman. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a push-up bra or shoulder pads.

I imagine and celebrate a scenario in which an up-and-coming sales exec will go out for manicures to chum up to her female CEO just like how men go golfing with their male bosses. Embrace who you are. I don’t think it needs to be an either-or situation of being taken seriously and being feminine. To encourage more female leadership in tech, it doesn’t need to be a choice between science camp or jewelry. Wear your jewelry to science camp. To get to the corner office, it doesn’t need to be a choice being between an iron-fist or a nurturing hand, it just means choosing a leadership style that reflects who you are.

Furthermore, you’re allowed to hate manicures too. Go smoke cigars with your up-and-coming sales exec if you ladies prefer that. And if you hate jewelry, wear a baseball cap to science camp. Just make sure you are being mentored by your CEO or role model. And get your butt to science camp. Be who you are. I demand this. To be anything else is a distraction from your goals.

I think the article “Can She Lead” offers a good solution:

It seems that authentic leadership is the most important factor women can maintain to rise as leaders for society. Women shouldn’t feel they must lead with an iron fist to thrive because, nor that this is the only way they will ascend the corporate ladder. Leadership should not be garnered by fear, but rather by consensus and a belief in the leader. In addition, women should not feel that they must act passively to conform to traditional ideas of female leadership. Rather, they must be true to themselves and realize their influence as leaders… Female leaders can rise to the top as they embrace their own strengths as women and maintain a leadership style that is embedded in their individuality. This is what will draw others near, inspire, and motivate.

When it comes to female leadership in the workplace, I hope my little blog post is just one piece of an increasing discourse centered around embracing individual strengths. And if we do generalize about differences between men versus women, I hope we see more conversation that emphasizes the benefits of a “female style” of leadership. Positive reinforcement, people: Let’s talk about what we’re doing right once in a while!

We’ve got a ton of work to do. 85% of PR practitioners are women but the top 80% of management is male. The glass ceiling still exists in many industries. I’m painting my nails and I’m getting a hammer.

How to: Be a Startup Kid

Considering a job at a startup? New to startup life? Based off of my extensive eight months of experience, here are my tips:

1. Be Agile

Take your job description. Print it out. Burn it. Be ready to wear many hats. Depending on the direction your company takes you may need to take on different projects or tasks that you didn’t initially set out for. Be flexible, learn as you go and multi-task.

2. Be Decisive

Make decisions quickly. Be really confident in your choices, knowing that usually things can be iterated on and re-considered later. Act quickly and trust yourself. Second-guessing wastes time you don’t have.

3. Drink

Chill with other startup kids. Mingle. Go to events. Startup friends understand your work life in a way that others usually don’t. They’ll be able to offer really great feedback and advice, and some of the best networking opportunities come from just hanging out. True story: I met my friend who I hired as a freelance blogger when we were just hanging out drinking wine with other startup geeks once. Networking doesn’t just happen at conferences.

4. Drop the Perfectionism

You do not have time to nit-pick over minute details that don’t move the needle. Some jobs are extremely detail-oriented and are totally focused on shipping only the most perfect product or document possible. At a startup it’s less about being perfect and more about perfecting as you go along. “Ship it and change it based on customer feedback”  or “let’s test this and see if it gets traction” are more the themes at a startup.

5. Get Over the Rainbows and Butterflies

Your bad ideas that you love so much but just don’t work? Love ‘em and leave ‘em. You can’t get emotionally tied to and hung up on specific ideas or projects at a startup. Test your idea, measure the results and be ready to scrap the whole thing and move onto the next one if it wasn’t the right solution.

6. Play Ping Pong. Wear a Hoodie.

Be the type of person who gets bored with the mundane and thrives under pressure. Learn to be happy despite a strong level of uncertainty. Show up at work and get stressed. Then, when you need to relax a little, play ping pong or something. Startups are nuts and being able to keep an even keel – in whatever way you do that – is key.

7. Know Your Needs

Feeling sick? Need a day off? This one’s tough for me too. Part of what makes you a successful startup kid is knowing your needs and taking care of yourself. If you need more sleep, sleep. You need exercise and a diet that doesn’t only consist of PBJ & PBR. When you take care of yourself you help your team by making sure their engineer or product person or marketing person is ok. Know your needs and take care of them.

8. Choose Your Choices

Not everyone is going to “get” the startup thing. They don’t understand how your job isn’t just a job to you or why you’d want to work such crazy hours or do what you do. Get behind your own life choices and commit to your own decisions. Then, it really won’t matter to you who does or doesn’t understand or approve. They’re your choices and you want them, after all, so who cares.

9. Be Hungry

Be hungry to learn. Be hungry to figure it out. Be hungry to find someone who already knows how it’s done and then go ask them how it’s done. Identify your weaknesses and seek the knowledge or experience that fixes them. You’ll likely be “punching above your weight class” and will be challenged with a lot more responsibility than you initially thought. If you are absolutely die-hard hungry to learn all you can, succeed in your own role and make your contribution to the team a success, that’ll be ok.

10. ELAMF

Execute like a ___ ___. There is a unique level of productivity and motivation needed (demanded) from each member of a small team. It’s beyond the level of just getting to the bottom of a to-do list, it’s about asking “What’s next?” and being able to immediately act on that feedback. It’s about bringing new ideas to the table, asking questions, giving your input to every part of what’s going on. Showing up isn’t good enough, and participating isn’t intense enough either. This is about being really involved and applying your expertise to each aspect of your new business.

Startups are crazy, but somehow I love this. What other qualities or tips would you add to the list?

A book I loved: REWORK

REWORK is written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeir Hansson, the founders of 37 Signals. With refreshing clarity and a flutter of snark, they share their ”cookbook” – a collection of short essays about lessons they’ve learned along the way from growing their product and business. I think it’s a great book for anyone working at a young company who wants a quick read and an uber-motivating kick in the butt.

These were some of my favorite lessons from REWORK:

Workaholism:

This resonated with me. They condemn workaholics, saying that those who like to burn the midnight oil just like to feel like heroes. They throw shear hours at a problem rather than effectively searching for a solution. Workaholics claim to be perfectionists, but that just means they focus in on needless details instead of moving forward onto the next task. I know sometimes I can get caught up in details too much, and it is incredibly time-consuming. Although marketing is very detail oriented in nature I think (someone has to nit-pick about grammar in copy!) you have to learn not to fixate on the stuff that won’t move the needle. You have to learn. I have to learn.

Draw a Line in the Sand:

This how you attract superfans.  Whole Foods is an example. They sell high quality foods, and sometimes it costs more. (Ever heard someone call them Whole Paycheck?) When you don’t compromise on what your product is offering you’re going to turn some people away. However, you’re also going to earn a loyal following of evangelists who agree with you. In a somewhat similar essay, “Pick a Fight”, they explain the value of taking a stand on something, or against a competitor. Dunkin Donuts is the anti-Starbucks. Under Armour vs. Nike is another example they cite. One example I thought of was HubSpot, and how they draw a line in the sand and chug the inbound marketing KoolAid. They pick a fight against old marketing tactics and create content around why inbound marketing is the way for businesses to generate leads.

Out-teach Your Competition

This essay preaches from the gospel of inbound marketing, whether that’s intentional or not. Your competition is buying advertising and hiring salespeople. You can do the same thing, but early on, you can’t out-do them. But you can out-teach them. They point the Gary Vaynerchuk teaching people about wine with Wine Library TV as an example. This is especially critical for startups. You can’t afford to buy a Superbowl Ad, but you can blog about your industry and teach your customers, and that actually creates a greater impact than any advertisement long term.

Hire When It Hurts

This concept is the idea that you should only hire when you absolutely need that position on your team – when there is a gaping, obvious hole in your organization and the quality level is slipping because you don’t have someone there doing that work. The thing is, each person you add to the team alters the structure and culture. You can always add people, but if you grow too quickly before you are ready, you can’t eliminate positions ( :-(!! ) without damaging morale. So only hire when you absolutely need to, and hire only after you have done that job yourself for a while so that you are able to properly manage that position.

Throughout the book, they seem to emphasize the advantages of being uncluttered. Desks, software, meetings, extra employees, extra policies – all of these things take a company away from focusing on their core, and well, getting things done.

Strangers at a Cocktail Party

When you hire the wrong people or hire too quickly, you might end up with a “strangers at a cocktail party” environment on your team. It’s a bunch of strangers in a room. This environment means that no one calls anyone out, no one gives constructive feedback or says what they mean. It’s too nicey nice. It’s too friendly. It’s too politically correct.

I couldn’t agree more. The NY Times had a great article about Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO and Mark Zuckerburg’s Work BFF. They work so well together because they are able to communicate. I’m pretty sure that not all of their conversations are rainbows and butterflies. They can probably call each other out, give each other critical feedback and say exactly what’s on their minds. “Nothing goes left unsaid” is vitally important to me, and it’s a cultural value I try to instill in my workplace relationships (and in my life in general.) One of my mentors put it this way: Transparency is freedom. Try it at the office.

Meetings are Toxic:

I. Love. This. Concept. I can’t explain this as well as they are going to. But, if there is one thing I want everyone who reads this post to realize, it’s that your next one hour meeting with ten employees didn’t just take an hour’s worth of time. It was ten hours worth of time. Also, how much are ya’ll getting paid per hour? Meetings are expensive, kids! Was that conversation actually worth it, or could two people have sat down for ten minutes to get those decisions made or that to-do list mapped out?

(I want to run a marketing department when I grow up!)

Just… cancel your next BS meeting and watch this 17-minute video from Jason Fried about why you can’t get anything done at work instead:

As you can tell, I truly enjoyed the book and I think you’ll benefit from it to. You can buy it on Amazon here. If you’ve read the book, feel free to share your favorite lessons from it in the comments.

Swim Off Your Island.

Let me know if this situation is unique to my experience.

You’re at a startup and it’s mostly engineers. There’s one marketing person. It’s not that you don’t heart each other, but you don’t collaborate. You feel out of the loop. You actually have no idea what the other person is working on because you don’t understand their language, so their projects don’t become real to you until you see them deployed on the website.

This was my experience for the first six and a half months of oneforty, and it boiled down to a communication issue. Product things that I knew were being worked on had titles I didn’t understand, so I didn’t understand how it could translate into action on my part. (Oh, so this fancy code thing is a sick new website feature that could be promoted in a screencast for our users? Oh, so this feature is actually kinda huge and I should do some blogger outreach about it?)

We devised an incredibly elaborate and complicated solution to this problem. Now, this may be hard to comprehend, so here is the visual map-out:

Ask more questions! Talk to each other more. Explain your projects to each other. Provide some context. In the wise words of one of my engineers, “trust me, you don’t want to hear about every piece of code I push out.” He’s right. I don’t. He doesn’t want to see all of my Tweets either. Don’t micromanage each other – just communicate.

Ever feel like you’re “on an island” at your organization? Here’s my challenge: swim away and communicate. When you’re all in the loop, you don’t feel so alone on the startup rollercoaster. And when you’re communicating things internally, you’re better able to externally communicate new features. So jump in the water. Start swimming.