Published in Online Spin, February 13 2015
Back in 2009, I attended a conference called X Media Lab, designed for startups in the creative and tech industries. At the time, I was the CMO of a startup virtual world for kids. On the opening day, we got to have 20-minute sessions with a few of the speakers, to get their input on our fledgling companies. We sat down with a guy named Nat Torkington, who’s been involved with the Web since it was born.
“Go check out Startup Lessons Learned,” he advised us. “You guys need to start using a lean methodology.”
We checked it out -- and found it to be a revelation for our business.
Published in Online Spin, Februray 6 2015
The world has changed, they said.
Creative industries have been democratized, they said.
There are no more gatekeepers, they said.
I call bullshit.
No, you no longer need a big record label in order to be discovered
Published in Online Spin, Janurary 30 2015
I love Matthew Inman, AKA The Oatmeal.
I love his writing style, his drawing style, and the fact that he has all this technical skill and yet chooses, in his words, to “make my living from drawing fat, frog-eyed, stick-armed oval people.”
From him, I have learned about mantis shrimp and angler fish. I’ve laughed at his description of the Web design process and been surprised about how much cats actually kill. But all of these things are just my baseline measure of appreciation for Inman. Below are five times he blew it out of the water.
Published in Online Spin, Feburary 23 2015
I know, I know. Hyperbolic clickbait. But bear with me, OK? ‘Cause I genuinely believe this to be true: One simple habit can completely transform the way you behave, how effective you can be, and how others perceive you.
If you want to be a highly regarded powerhouse, all you have to do is be a chaser, not a chasee.
First, the definitions. The chaser is the person who is following up. “Let me chase him for that quote.” “I chased her for the specifications this morning; she said they’d be here by this afternoon.” “I’m calling to chase up on the invoice from three weeks ago. When can we expect payment?”
Published in Online Spin, Janurary 16 2015
It’s generally accepted that childbirth is painful, right? I don’t have any personal experience with it, but the consensus seems to be bipartisan enough that I have no reason to doubt it. And when you ask mothers of two or more kids how they can go through it again, the answer is pretty consistent: Because you forget. You forget how painful it was, you forget how much you were hating life in the deepest, darkest moments, you forget how you begged for the epidural or the laughing gas or the morphine, because any level of druggedness was preferable to the agony in which you found yourself. The most excruciating experience you’ve ever had -- and you forget.
Despite being commonly perceived as a negative, the ability to forget has tremendous value.
Published in Online Spin, Janurary 9 2015
In 2004, Patagonia published an essay titled, “Don’t Buy This Shirt Unless You Need It.” The following year, the company launched the Common Threads initiative, to make every piece of clothing it manufactures recyclable. In 2011, Patagonia took out a full-page ad in the New York Times with the headline, “Don’t buy this jacket,” alongside an image of the company’s R2 coat.
Strange, no, for a manufacturer/retailer to encourage us away from buying its products? But Patagonia’s reasoning was simple and compelling: We have too much stuff already, and when we buy stuff we don’t need, we waste money, destroy the environment, and contribute to a culture of disposable consumerism that has yet to offer any benefits to society or the planet.
Published in Online Spin, December 19 2014
On whatever day of Christmas we’re currently on, my inbox gave to me 47 emails.
47 people reaching out. 47 collections of words waiting on my response. 47 miniature jobs to do.
Some of the 47 are new. Some are old. Some have been there so long that surely they’re no longer relevant.
I know a Zero Inbox is easy. The most common strategy is tripartite: respond immediately, throw away, or star-for-later-follow-up. But star-for-later-follow-up feels “easy,” the way cleaning the house is “easy” if you just shove all the junk in the closet. On the rare occasions I do clean, I like to clean, know what I’m sayin’?
Published in Online Spin, December 12 2014
Nearly every week for the past two years, my colleague Geoff Brash and I have coached people to deliver five-minute pitches. We’ve seen people pitching for money and for customers, for staff and for beta testers. We’ve seen pitches that are persuasive, funny, compelling, vague, wandering, insecure.
With each one, we learn. We learn more about what works and what doesn’t. We learn more about what resonates with us and what turns us off. We learn more about exceptions to rules. And we thought it was time to share some of it. Without further ado, here are the five essential elements of a good pitch
Published in Online Spin, December 5 2014
Holidays can be hard. On the one hand, they’re meant to celebrate, to acknowledge and honor, to offer perspective and prompt reflection. We have days for love and labor, for generosity and gratitude. These things are awesome.
But on the other hand, holidays can be exclusionary. They can be hypocritical. They often serve as distortions of the historical record and they are often gamed for commercial gain.
I consider myself a positive, upbeat kind of gal. I co-founded an organization called Ministry of Awesome, for Pete’s sake. And yet, I find myself easily repelled by holiday-affiliated marketing campaigns. They seem to be even more manipulative than usual, even more reinforcing of the message that if you haven’t bought enough, consumed enough, spent enough, you’re doing it wrong.
Published in Online Spin, November 21 2014
It’s Twitter founder Biz Stone’s latest venture: Super, an app designed to let people speak their minds.
“It’s loud, it’s bright, and we think you’ll dig it,” they say in the FAQ. It is, of course, well-designed. It’s got Bill Murray on the homepage, which is almost unfairly awesome. There’s a virtual certainty that Super will gain some measure of success, depending largely on how you define such things.
The bigger question, however, is potentially more profound: Do we really need more people speaking their minds? Do we need more opinions on Kim Kardashian’s rear end or Renee Zellweger’s new front end? Isn’t it true that what we really need is more people listening?