Obsessed with start-ups, coffee, and online marketing.

That about sums me up.
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Jul 26

Are You a Culture Creator?

Last week my team launched a new About section on Porch.com. It’s beautiful. The imagery, the promises, the culture video – they combine to really get at the heart of what it means to be a Porchie. With the new About section came an updated Value exercise. For the past 6 months the team has been working through a variety of offsites, meetings, emails, and more to help us understand just what we stand for.

Culture. Cultureeeeee. C.u.l.t.u.r.e.

It’s one of my favorite things about startups. We get to define it, we get to build it, and if we’re really lucky we get to spend the majority of our time sharing it with the world. So much has been written about startup culture. What it is and isn’tHow you can’t compromise it. How it’s not really about the startup at all.  And one of my favorites – how important it is that you don’t f-it up.

We can all agree that getting clear on your company culture, hiring in for those that align with it and upholding it are important. You know what we don’t talk enough about? How we can live it, stretch it, shine it. The question I’d ask you is…are you a culture creator?

What’s that mean? It’s a triangulated commitment between you, your team, and the culture itself. a commitment that this is a living and breathing promise that deserves your very best.

You. Are you living it every day? Are you representing it in meetings? Are you questioning your own habits, your own strengths, your own practice on whether they align Continue reading →

Jul 21

Personalizing the System Issues: A Startup Lesson

I’m a fan of accountability. Always have been. It plays directly into my pillar around “fairness” and into my pulse line of meritocracy. I very much believe we can all do better…every second, of every day. Every failure is a moment for learning, and every misstep is an opportunity to stand up and truly stretch into a taller, stronger version of yourself.

With such a strong sense of accountability and yearning to make every day better than the last comes the shadows of that – the self-criticizing, the self-doubt, the internalizing of everything so deeply that you are constantly shaking yourself at the core. I believe this has made me a great fit for startups. This ecosystem is built on over-achievers and life long learners.

Today, over coffee with a friend, I had talked for about an hour on challenges that have been on my mind. I walked through team dynamics, miscommunications, and the outcomes that  have left me pretty confused. “What am I doing wrong?” … “How can I communicate better?”…”What’s going on with me?”…were all questions that came up.

I then quickly spoke to other, seemingly unrelated challenges I’m seeing around the office. I easily dismissed them with the appropriate startup dismissals – “people are stressed given how hard everyone is working” and “this is a critical season” and “everyone is feeling it.” She quickly pointed out to me that maybe this was all related…

Maybe “my” issues were also a result of “system” issues.

Whattttt. Synapse fires. Boom. Bam. Maybe they are?

I think in startups there is such a focus on being “all in” and that has huge implications on our bar setting. It directly correlates with a promise to always do your best, to always do better. The flip side of that is if things seem hard you quickly assume “you aren’t doing your best” or even worse “you are failing at everything” [enter dramatic music here.] Continue reading →

May 17

The Correlation Between Intellectual Honesty and Great Companies

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes a great company. This is, of course, not an easy thing to answer. A lot goes into building a great company. There is product, culture, and community. In those there are promises, actions, and connections. In those there is integrity, authenticity, kindness, and the so on and so forth. Then there is a market, a need, real value. There are ripples that turn into waves that change lives.

Like I said, a lot goes into building a great company.

While I’m not yet at a conclusive answer, I can honestly say my year at Porch has brought me a lot closer to one. I feel so fortunate to be in the eye of this remarkable startup storm. We have so many great things in the works, and the team building all of this is just…so damn special. Sure we’ve got our challenges, but we’re better for it. We are dead set on trying to be a great company and I am learning as I go just what that means.

One thing that stands out to me lately is this concept of intellectual honesty. I read an article about how “great testing requires intellectual honesty” and it got me thinking – damn, that’s hard. Intellectual honesty means “you make arguments you think are true, as opposed to making the arguments you are “supposed” to make and/or avoiding making arguments that you think are true that you aren’t “supposed” to make.” Basically – it means you’re willing to rock the boat, shine the bright light, and say “that thing” that no one else wants to say.

This is…uncomfortable. Risky. Hard.

This is not…easy. Taught. Appreciated.

Well, maybe it is appreciated. I think great companies appreciate intellectual honesty. I’ve seen this at Porch. The past few weeks I’ve pushed on some big things and asked some hard questions. I’ve actually blown up a few email threads…not because I want to. Or even because I had to. But because I believed an argument needed to be made for the greater good. Greater good can be the customer, the team or even the bottom line. There are lots of “greater goods” that demand that sort of risk.

Lesser companies punish people for those risks. They shut you down. They ignore your concern. They silence it with sentences like “we’ll get to that later” or “good point, but we’re just too far along to rethink that.” Great companies stop. They pause. Acknowledge the point made Continue reading →

Jan 04

A Declaration of Interdependence

A New Year. I, for one, am ready.

Like many of you I have spent the last month putting things in motion, hoping that as Jan 1, 2015 came around I felt “ready.” Rested, healthier, excited, and ready…to live bolder and bigger than the previous 365 days. And I do.

I actually wrote down resolutions this year for the first time ever. Not ones to do with losing weight or getting promotions or to get more sleep but soul promises. Goals for myself that would make this next year worthy of the gift it is. My list is around seven themes and all of the resolutions are around things I can do for myself. Yes, many of them would benefit others…my team, my family, my relationship. But they are ultimately resolutions that I want to help me be better.

This got me thinking – something is missing.

I just started reading the book “Innovating Women” by Vivek Wadhwa and a sentence stuck out within the first few pages. He wrote, “This is not just a book; it’s a flag planted in the ground –a declaration of interdependence by the hundreds of women who contributed to this crowdcreated volume.”

I love this concept — “a declaration of interdependence.” That is what was missing.

This isn’t a new concept, in fact it’s been around in project management and organizational development for years, but for some reason it feels perfectly suited for this new year. As you kick off this year and make your promises to be better, to be kinder, to be healthier, why not also declare interdependence in these goals for “better” and “bolder” living?

As an entrepreneur, especially as a female executive in her early thirties, it can be easy to focus on investing in yourself. We are programmed to push ourselves, albeit for the better of the group. This year I resolve to invest in others and their goals more. I declare to intentionally intermingle my success with theirs. I promise to find out more of what you’re chasing, and what you need to wrestle it down and conquer it in 2015. I want more of me going to you.

It’s an interesting twist in new years resolutions – to resolve to help others accomplish theirs. A declaration of interdependence, who’s up for it?

#cheersto2015 #letsdothis

Dec 26

My 2014 Style Resolutions & How I Did

What a year it has been. Holy snap. If you all remember a year ago I made my 2014 style resolutions as a forcing function to be more bold and #wearwhatIlove. It only seems appropriate for me to look back and see how I’ve done. So here we go!

Resolution #1: Wear more dresses
Result: Success. 
Nailed it. I wore more dresses this past year than the previous five years combined. I have to admit I was often tempted to throw on jeans but remembered the resolution and went for it. Certainly made for some fun dates, some fancy events, and more. A few of my favorite dress moments (please note there was a great deal of twirling this year!)…

Resolution #2: Find the perfect pair of nude heels.
Result: Success. Done! This was one of the first resolutions to get completed. I’ve worn them a bunch since then as well. The rumor is true – they really do make you look taller. The boyfriend also loved them, so bonus points for that.

Resolution #3: Discover orchid accents.
Result: Loss. Meh. Confession: I bought a few things and honestly didn’t love them. They ended up sitting in my closet for most of the year. With that said I did wear a lot more bright colors this year and I am BEYOND excited for Pantone’s 2015 Color of the Year – Marsala. Deep, wine red? Yes please.

Resolution #4: Finally figure out boyfriend jeans and heels.
Result: Loss. Booo. Not so good. I didn’t wear them one single time. Sad but true. You’ve alluded me yet again boyfriend jeans. Wait until spring comes around and let’s see what we can do. It’s not the end boyfriend jeans…just you wait. Continue reading →

Dec 10

Authenticity is a Huge Deal

Jack Welch said that. You know who else said that? Anyone who knows anything. The reality is “authenticity is a huge deal.” It’s kind of the whole deal in a lot of ways. Over the past decade of startups and the chaos of the storm I have come to whisper that sentence (and at times scream it) over and over and over.

It’s easy to forget. It’s easy to get caught up in the “what’s the best way to say something” or “what will get you what you want right now.” You can tell yourself “it’s just a temporary front” or “this is what we have to do to get through this.” I get it. These sentences feel so real at the time. It’s hard for you to take a step away from whatever you’re working through and realize…

There is no excuse. Authenticity is a huge deal.

It’s also not easy, but it’s necessary for good living. For kindness. For heart.

I’ve been told I “tell it as it is” and at times that has caused trouble. I’ve been harsh, or too upfront at times. My bar seems too high, my transparency too much. People want me to sugar coat it, or lie for the better of the moment. God I wish I could. I wish I could look you in the face and tell you Continue reading →

Oct 06

Life Bitch Slap #7: Be the Plot Twist

Today was a day. A real day. You may have noticed I haven’t written in a while, as I’ve been busy jumping all in with my new team at Porch. In just under three months we’ve seen insane growth, solved really hard problems and made a pretty big promise to the world that I couldn’t be more excited to explore and execute on.

But things have also been a bit crazy. With any new job comes a new schedule and new challenges and adjustments and rhythms. None of it unsolvable but all of it is very real. New perspectives meet with others and hard conversations and big questions are asked. It’s both what is exciting and exhausting about taking this startup road.

One of our co-founders had this great quote the other day. He said, “Lots of people say it’s a marathon, not a sprint. But I don’t believe that. If it was a marathon, I’d be going a lot slower right now. It’s more like a series of sprints, and we are just at the beginning of one.” I loved that. It so perfectly sums up the last few months and what I hope to take on for the upcoming years — it’s like this series of sprints, all of them full of new challenges, each of them bigger and faster than the last.

So today was a one of those “real days” and at the end of it I found myself turning to an old friend…a video I’ve watched dozens of times at this point. It’s a video done by an agency out of Portland explaining their approach to beautiful marketing. You can watch it here. Every single time I watch it I get chills, because I believe it. I believe in that approach to authentic, beautiful, valuable storytelling. No matter how challenging or long a day is in marketing or startups for me, I can turn to that video and I’m reminded why I’m the luckiest lady in the world.

Tonight as I was watching it, I was bitchslapped by a sentence. It happens at 2:37 in the video where they state: “you’re like the plot twist.”

As marketers and storytellers, we are just that. We are the inciting incidents in the story of a company or a product or a brand. We take the storyline and we find Continue reading →

Aug 13

Perseverance as a Practice

I’ve thought a lot about perseverance over the years. It’s one of those words. The kind that takes on a new meaning every time you feel it, or wish you had more of it, or see it in others.

When I think about it a few things flash in my mind:

…I remember my dad getting up so early to go downstairs and keep the coal fire burning to heat the house and then heading to a job he hated to make sure his family was taken care of and happy – day after day after day…for years.

…I remember my family after my mom passed away and how no one wanted to really get up, or be awake, or do anything- for a long time. But we just did things. Ate meals, cleaned the house, left the house and saw friends. We just did things to move forward.

…I remember my graduate degree and working at the coffee shop in the morning, going to classes, and working nights as a hostess, and just going, until you couldn’t because that is what I had to do to pay for school.

…I remember watching a friend of mine go through so many rough things with her family for years, and just seeing her be the mom and the sister and the aunt and the cousin. She just did it day after day for years.

…I remember all the startups I’ve built and those my friends have built. The ones that made it. The ones that didn’t. Not much difference in the work you put in, the early mornings, late nights, and dreams you dreamt, and sleep you lost. It’s just our way…our days and our nights and the way of things.

When I was younger I thought perseverance was something you either had or something you didn’t. I used to think Continue reading →

Jul 15

Joining Porch.com!

Two weeks ago I announced that I had wrapped up my time at BigDoor, a leading loyalty software provider here in Seattle. It was a day of many emotions. I feel so lucky to have spent the past year working with such a scrappy, dedicated team. I was able to jump head first into the world of loyalty and retention and growth work with some of the top brands in the world. I am just so damn thankful for all the lessons I learned and what we built together.

It was hard to say goodbye, but I am so excited about my new opportunity. In a lot of ways it’s the type of opportunity I’ve been waiting for Seattle to have – a big consumer play backed by a brilliant team that truly believes in data and growth hacking. Throw in that it involves the visual web, online communities and actually has real-life value for those that use the service and I honestly couldn’t help but jump all in.

And that is exactly what I’m doing. In a week I’ll be jumping in as VP of Consumer Marketing at Porch.com, the home improvement network, and fastest-growing startup in Seattle. And frankly I’m over the moon excited.

Why Porch?

For about a million reasons to be honest, but let’s start with the big ones.

The Team

If you live in Seattle (or any of the tech cities to be honest) you’ve probably noticed that Porch.com has been snagging up top talent from some of the best companies out there to join in their mission of helping people love their home. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to collaborate with them and learn from them. After sitting down for just one day with their team I could tell this team was rare…passion, kindness and smarts all over the place.

About 6 months ago, I received a LinkedIn message from a woman named Asha Sharma, asking if I wanted to get together and jam on what “growth marketing” really means. I receive messages like this often, so I honestly didn’t think much of it.  After sitting down with Asha, the twenty-something CMO of Porch, I was blown away. She was data-driven, revenue-focused, high on life, and laser focused on building something really special.  Like once in a lifetime type special.

We met up a few times over the coming months over martinis or coffee, and formed a friendship. A previous board member once told me “when you meet someone you are going to build something with you’ll just know.” I had never felt that before Asha, but I just knew we’d do something together someday. Come to find out that something is Porch and that time is now, and I’m honored to be working for her and helping her build this company.

This team is special and our CEO, Matt Ehrlichman, has the heart and drive to build Porch into a household brand that brings value to millions. I can’t wait to help make that a reality.

The Mission

The past few years I was fortunate to spend a lot of time honing on what really matters to me and what I really want from my career and life. Recently I wrote about how I want to have a “beautiful impact” on this world. This to me means I pour my heart and soul and the hours of my day into a product I can get behind, design, share and one that truly makes life better.

Porch.com is that already, in many ways, and will continue to grow into it even more as we share it with the world. It solves a real problem, one that our CEO has talked at lengths about solving. We are helping home professionals do what they love, and homeowners love their home. I mean wow.

Funny enough, I spent a lot of time on my porch as a child. It was the place my family celebrated everything – from birthdays to “ice cream sundaes for dinner” nights, to graduations. My childhood is peppered with family memories on the porch. In fact, before my mom passed away we spent many afternoons on that porch talking about how much she loved it out there. Dad had it built for her so they could watch us grow up in the backyard and play in the pool.

A porch to me represents everything good…family, traditions, laughter, safety, comfort, peace of mind, and spending time together in something you’ve built as a family. Hell I get teared up just think about it.

I am 100% behind spending my days sharing the mission of Porch - love your home. We have very big plans for Porch and the value it will have for homeowners…more on that later, but get excited friends. I know I am.

The Challenge

My journey in marketing has been, unexpectedly, quite funnel like. So meta, huh? I started in performance, moved into engagement, ended up in retention, and fell in love with brand. I’ve gone from running campaigns to launching integrated customer journeys. I went from selling keywords to becoming obsessed with the visual web and what it has to offer.

I am a growth marketer, driven by solving the hardest problems with testing and data. I believe in viral marketing as a practice not a fluke. I believe in using our channels to activate and unlock growth at every turn. I believe that today’s best marketers have the platforms, and the guts required to build bold, beautiful experiences that catch fire and add real value to the consumer.

Porch.com combines so much of what I love. I’m coming on to Continue reading →

Apr 15

Your Decision Making Batting Average

I’m a big fan of moving fast. I feel very fortunate that somewhere along the way the idea of “taking risks” became one I was pretty comfortable with. While I haven’t always been right (obvioussslyyyyy), I’ve become very comfortable with what I call “my decision making batting average.” This isn’t an entirely new concept, but it is one that I have advised friends to embrace over the years and one that I believe has been a huge advantage for me as an entrepreneur.

The gist is this – you won’t always be right. But you will likely bat an average. The sooner you feel out how comfortable you are with that average, the more you trust yourself, the more honest you can be with those that work with you, and the faster you are at making decisions and providing value.

My batting average is 70%. I believe that if given ten decisions to make, I will likely lead us the right direction 7 out of 10 times. Of course this is high some days (say for example — days I am in my wheelhouse in marketing) and low others (like days that I’m out of my wheelhouse on a new product or something).

But over the years I have settled in at .70 and I dig it. I’m all cozy up in there. Getting comfortable with this has helped me so much. First and foremost I let my colleagues know. I’m up front – hey guys, I chill around .70 most of the time, so you can expect I might screw up 3 out of every 10 times. This sort of transparency builds trust. Trust that I’m not pretending to know it all. Trust that if I screw up, I’ll let you know right away and we’ll correct it. Trust in my abilities to lead us [generally] in the right direction the majority of the time.

These are good things.

Additionally, it gives me a place to jump from. You’ll be amazed at how much more you trust yourself when you spend time nailing down your decision making batting average. Some of you might be cool with .50 – you risky little cats you. These people move real fast, and are totally comfortable hitting it out of the park 1 out of every 2 times. Others might need to be closer to .90, which means you might need more information prior to a decision. It might take you longer to make a decision on something but from that you have higher confidence. The truth is there is a job and place for all of us. Continue reading →