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

That about sums me up.
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Jul 29

We All Skipped Steps, No Really We Have

Today was a good day. I mentored at the NWEN here in town (which is an amazing program we should all support if we can), I pushed through quite a few to-dos, I remembered to actually eat dinner (yay!) and perhaps my favorite thing today — I kicked off my executive coaching again.

Now I’ve done executive coaching in the past in a number of forms – calls, coffees, weekend retreats, etc. Not much stuck to be honest. It’s a hard thing to get right. You have to find the right person, you have to be in a place where you can really absorb it, you need time to invest in it…you need to not be jaded about personal growth.

I don’t say that last one lightly. There are times I’ve been jaded about personal growth. Jaded because I’m not sure “investing in myself is even working” or jaded because “I can barely keep up with my daily responsibilities to others” and so on and so forth.

Executive coaching only works if you can enter an hour long session with an open and clear mind and be [gulp] vulnerable.

Lucky enough for me I found an amazing coach here in Seattle – Stacey Sargent from Connect G & D. I’ve known Stacey for years through organizational trainings she has done, empowerment seminars she led, and more. I’ve sipped cocktails with her, and coffee (many times). She is a gem of a woman, and also the executive coach that finally pointed out to me…in the most perfect way…I need some freaking help.

That’s always fun to hear. But I do. We all do. I would ramble on about all these big goals I have, and all the challenges that are freaking me out, and I’d talk about these amazing people that inspire me, and so on and so forth. Stacey would always bring it back to – but what do I want? How am I going to get there? What tools do I have to overcome the inevitable obstacles.

Big stuff for sure.

So anyway, she’s great, we kicked off our official training again today and I am stoked. I’m hoping to blog after every session about at least one or two lines that came up. The ones that stopped me in my tracks. The ones I wrote done and underlined…okay maybe a few times.

So today’s standout: we’ve all skipped steps. 

Some context: Imposter syndrome is a real thing – for men and women (maybe more prominently in women, but let’s not make this blog post a gender discussion). Particularly in startups we spend a lot of our time kicking ourselves for what we haven’t done. I have never coded a wordpress blog – there I said it – I have only hired people and paid people to. I’ve never taken a design class. I’ve only hired in, worked alongside, absorbed theory and managed great designers.

We get pissed that we haven’t done X and Y, and we start to think – shit I wish I hadn’t skipped that step. But you know what?

Continue reading →

Jul 02

Sometimes You Have to Ask Twice…or Six Times

I’m three weeks into the new gig as CMO, and whoa…what a whirlwind it’s been. There’s a lot to learn when you start a new job. Admittedly, I underestimated how much there is to absorb and process. A new product. A new industry. A new team. A new set of processes. A new philosophy. So freaking much. While it’s been fun to completely envelop myself in newness, one thing has stood out as harder than the rest…

Asking for help. Yup. I said it. I have had to ask a lot of questions. And perhaps even more annoying to me…I’ve had to ask the same question twice, or three times…fine maybe even six (some of this is really hard!).

I like asking questions. Or I thought I did. I’m realizing I like to ask questions in tandem with people. I like asking questions for exploration sake. Like, “what are our options for the new homepage story” and then we banter. You first. Then me. Then you. Then me. It’s my favorite thing. That dance of creativity.

You know what I [apparently] don’t like? Asking for help, and then asking for it again. It disarms me. I hate interrupting someone else’s flow for my own reasons. I hate not being able to wrap my head around something when a smart person explains it well. But you know what I realized in the last few weeks? 

That’s so ass backwards.

Asking someone smarter than you to explain something (once, or twice, or in 100 bullets if need be…which I have in fact done this past week) is exactly what we should be doing, particularly in startup land – where time, and momentum are critical. Me slowing down to “go to the Googles” (as we have all done a thousand times) is detrimental for a number of reasons. One big one being — context in startup learning is everything. I think we like to generalize the path to success at a startup, and I think its dangerous. Continue reading →

Jun 18

In a Startup Messaging Spiral? Return to Your Values

I’ve spent the last week in meetings. The good kind of meetings. The “coffee fueled, big brained, lots of ideas, and so many questions” type of meetings. I’ve been running through a SWOT analysis, marketing positioning exercise and whole product analysis with my new team and its reminded me of something really important  - your values are more than just a cultural compass. They are more than the code on your wall, or the acronym you send around to new hires — your values are at the heart of your message, your product, and your promise. 

The values your team exudes are the exact words that you should want to share with the world. They should be laced in your headers, your bylines, and your positioning pyramid. I think too often startups think of their “values” as internal beacons, and then they go spend months trying to come up with a “sellable” story. Yuck. Not only is that poor marketing, thats just a waste of time.

Wondering how you should sell your product? Look around at your teams and ask them what they love about your product. Why do they work there? What are they willing to stand behind…no matter how f*cked up it is at times. I guarantee their answers are the ones that should fall in your “stength” column, they are your UVPs, and all that other marketing jazz.

Who you are and what you offer should not be fabricated. It shouldn’t be composed by marketing gurus, and pulled together like some mad scientist experiment. It shouldn’t be “just outside of reach,” or “sort-of-kind-of” the truth.

You are your values. Return to them and there is your messaging. That’s what you lead with. Continue reading →

Jun 15

Happy Father’s Day Dad…You Are One Hell of a Man.

Dear Dad,

I wish I could say there was a million things I wanted to say to you, but it simply isn’t the case. You’ve always appreciated honesty. You and I have been able to share every story, every question, every fear…always. I’ve said it all (okay, okay…maybe the wine helped, but whatever). We’ve said it all. Thank goodness for that.pic of dad I

I thought to myself – what’s left for him to know? He knows I love him. He knows I’m thankful for him. He knows that I consider him to be the most amazing father, and that he really is my best friend in this bizarre world.

He is the one that understood why I traveled to a different coast. He was the one that encouraged me to wander, and do startups, and explore. He gets that I put more pressure on myself than the world, and he loves me anyway. He slows me down, and reminds me just how lucky I am…just when I need reminding. So what’s left to say? Continue reading →

Jun 11

What I Did with a Month Off & What It Taught Me

Well that was interesting. A month off from work that is. As some of you know I finished my last day at SEOmoz Moz, back on May 15th, and I am kicking off the new gig at BigDoor, another Seattle startup, this Wed June 12th. Okay so it’s not exactly a month but let’s roll with it for our purposes here. 

So what did I do?

snack time on the beach

A few things—some more productive than others. Big things include spending a week in Kauai…by myself, traveling to Duluth, MN to keynote my first ever conference, and heading back to Vermont to enjoy over a week with the family. In between that I did a lot of pilates, running, sleeping in, and wine sipping. I called friends I’ve neglected for too long, I read a lot, and listened to some great music. 

Other random things include:

  • Staring out a window for half an hour…watching a squirrel. True story.
  • Played cribbage with my pops for the first time in half a decade. Best two out of three actually. If you MUST know…he won.
  • Painted my nails like 10 times in 30ish days. No really. Strange I know.
  • Got a massage/spa day in three different times in four weeks. Particularly gluttonous. 
  • Did a cartwheel (okay maybe a few) in my living room. I don’t know – it just felt right at the time.
  • I Vined for the first time ever. And the second, and third. Let’s be real – I’m hooked.
  • I read a book to my nephews before bed for the first time in years. I also was there to tuck them in three different nights. Goodnight kisses and all. #lovethemsomuch 

I also did a little work in there:

  • Loaded up over 20 post drafts up, expect some good ones coming your way.
  • I kicked off my stint with Entrepreneur’s Team Digital, and we’ve since published two posts. Honored to be contributing with such a crew of amazing people.
  • Went back and forth with my dev team on my ISITaYES app- which had its final build in TestFlight go out yesterday. Holy crap people, its almost time to launch.
  • I may, or may not, have done a ton of competitive analysis, and industry mapping in my new company’s vertical – customer loyalty and engagement– just don’t tell my new boss. I was supposed to be “recharging” and off the grid. Shhhh.
  • I revamped my daily feeds, killed a bunch of daily mailers I get (fine…I kept Gilt & Ideeli, stop judging me!), and enveloped myself in my favorite blogs again.
  • I watched SEOmoz launch into Moz, and took a deep breath of pride, and wished my old team the best of luck on this new chapter. They are going to kill it.
  • I keynoted my first ever conference –Zenith Social Media Summit in Duluth. I was a bag of nerves if we are getting honest up in here, but it went amazingly, and I’m really thankful for the day. Subsequently, I was asked to keynote two more shows this year. Wowzers. #stoked

Then what?

After travel, random things, and some work…the only other thing in there was the purpose of the break itself – the recharging. I did a lot of that. I ate a lot of whole foods, I slept a great deal, I laughed a lot. I practiced gratitude meditation (a new fave of mine) and I hugged a lot of people (sorry if this got weird for anyone). Continue reading →

May 13

Life Bitch Slap #6: “Be Thankful”

It’s been a crazy two months as I finish up my tenure at SEOmoz. I’ve met with dozens of entrepreneurs and had more coffee meetings than I thought humanly possible in that amount of time. I’ve talked about big ideas, following dreams, and getting after it. I’ve been inspired to say the least.

During all of that I’ve watched as my team at SEOmoz nears the big launch we have been working on for a year. It will be, in many ways, a new beginning for our awesome company, and I’ve been lucky to see it through. I’ve been fortunate to see all those hours come to fruition, and truly couldn’t be prouder of what is about to go live. The team has worked so hard, and we’ve built something pretty special. I’ve been honored to work with that team to say the least.

I’ve also spent the last two months asking myself what I really want, and perhaps more importantly what I don’t want from the next move. I’ve weighed a lot of opinions from very smart people. I feel like I learned more about myself in the last two months, while asking myself hard questions like who do I want to work for and around? What industry excites me? What do I want my day to day to look like? How big or small a team do I want to join? It’s been enlightening to say the least.

The best part is through all of this I was some what of a hot mess. Okay, okay…quite the hot mess. I was here and there and all over the place. I would wake up in the middle of the night and wonder if this leap was a crazy one, I’d roll into weekends tired and weighing all the offers and options. Settled was not a word I can say I felt the past two months. Somehow I managed to turn these amazing opportunities into something to stress over rather than something to embrace and be thankful for. 

What the whattttt.

I was lucky enough to grab coffee with Andy Sack, a local entrepreneur and VC, and he brought up this idea of “serendipitous clarity” and how if you just open yourself up to it, it will find its way to you. Things will make sense. I love this idea. I’m a planner. I’m Type A. I calculate and spreadsheet the hell out of my life. But I am also a dreamer, a creative, a wanderer in many ways.

My moment of serendipitous clarity over the past few weeks came unexpectedly about a week ago. I’m not sure it’s exactly what Andy had in mind, but I certainly think it had the impact he spoke to. A moment that made me go “whoa. yes. be thankful.” Continue reading →

May 01

What is Product Marketing & Where Should It Live?

A friend of mine reached out and asked me my thoughts on product marketing the other day. Little did he know that question would send me off on a tangent. Because it did (and I thought I would piece together that tangent for this post).

For one reason or ten, I am insanely passionate about product marketing. I think it’s because I have seen the shift over the years from “two teams” to “one team”, from “hands off marketers” to “all in marketers”, and I couldn’t be more stoked about it. Today product and marketing need to be so closely tied, you can barely separate them. I believe that with my whole heart.

But alas there is a problem. The intersection of  the two functions often causes more friction and deeper silos than we could imagine. There is a turf war happening at a number of companies, and it’s too damn bad. The companies that solve for how these two teams can work together are going to win. They are going to win every time. Luckily for us there is a traditional function that helps lace us together for a common goal — product marketing.

Enter the second problem — most marketers don’t know what the hell that means. [facepalm] So let’s run through it shall we?

What is Product Marketing?

Product marketing as it traditionally exists solves for – what to build, who to sell it to, how to sell it, and what to price it at. Its a four cornered web of awesome that helps companies build something valuable for the right people, sell it well and make money. Wait a minute — that sounds super important? Why yes, yes it is. I have put together a magical picture (ridiculous attempt at a pun intended) to stress its importance…

what is product marketing

So how come so many companies screw this up? Enter the where should it live dilemma.

Where Should Product Marketing Live?

You know what I love? Cold, hard truths. So here are a few of them: Most of today’s marketers suck at what to build and how to price it. While most product managers today suck at who to sell it to and how to sell it. Don’t hate the messenger. It’s true. FWIW it’s not their/our fault, marketers weren’t trained in product planning, and product managers weren’t trained in market research and acquisition/take to market strategy. Let’s all just blame the system and move on.

So if it shouldn’t live on either team, then what? This is where it get’s interesting. I think you’ll see the rise of growth teams, or product planning teams that try to really drive those core functions (this is a lot of what growth marketing was at Moz for me and what you see growth teams do at other companies – FB, Dropbox, Pinterest, etc.). I think these hybrid teams will hire in curious cats that don’t want to do one or the other. And I truly believe that in a few years we may just see the structured “two team system” as we know it — be uprooted altogether.

With today’s companies being more product driven than ever and offering more products than before on more channels than ever before, the cornerstone that is product marketing has become the inflection point between success and failure. I’m seeing it. You’re seeing it. It’s happening.

Continue reading →

Apr 24

Do You Believe in Professional Development? I Have a Favor to Ask

Hey friends! I am helping a friend out with some market validation. Can I grab two minutes of your day?

My friend Kate Matsudaira is working away on her new startup popforms (you can signup to be notified when it launches!) and she is looking for some information into how you all develop yourselves professionally. She has a quick survey for you to take that seriously is only 6 questions long around how you spend money on your development, what you use to track goals, etc.

This space is near and dear to my heart, so I am really excited about what she is working on. I’d love for you to take it and share with your networks so we can try and collect as much information for her as we can. Out of all of this should come a pretty cool product we might all want to use down the road. So thanks so much for your help!