Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area

Posts Tagged "Work"

Breaking Up with Facebook

Posted on Apr 5, 2014 in Featured |

Breaking Up with Facebook

For the past seven years, I have take a self-imposed hiatus from Facebook for about a month. Some years I learn something from the break, most years I don’t. This year I learned that I don’t want to be on Facebook anymore.

I get Facebook for work. I live it; it’s my bread-and-butter. But, I no longer see its value in my personal life, and it’s time to do something about that.

Facebook can make my work a smashing success (or a failure). It can make me feel like I’m wildly well-respected as a professional, and completely stupid as fuck all in the same week.

I coach companies to put transparency first in their communication strategy. Yet few marketers actually apply this to their personal Facebook personas. The truth is, we tell Facebook what we want to broadcast, transparency aside. We professional crafters are the worst offenders; we craft how we appear to our friends, a gentle balance of self-deprecation,humor, wit and humility. With Facebook, we build our personal brand right alongside those we are paid to build.

So, after much thought, I’ve determined that I can’t have both a belief in corporate transparency online and not be willing to be transparent myself. My Facebook account has to go.

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile…

In July 2013, I had 600 Facebook friends — people I am connected to for work, childhood pals, parents of my kids’ friends, ex-work colleagues and a zillion acquaintances. But, only a few handful of those I’m lucky enough to call Friends. My Friends knew all hell was breaking loose in my personal life last year, yet not one single FB post reflected what was going on. It was all crafted. So what about the other 580 people?

In October my login data on Facebook Account page showed that I visited about 35 times daily. This might sound shockingly high, but a new study reveals most people check their Facebook page an average of 14 times daily from their smartphones alone. Since I work on Facebook about 15 percent of my time, I’d say 35 times daily wasn’t so bad.

Except, I still felt bad. Why? Because I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. My posts had Zero Transparency. If I wasn’t going to post what was really going on in my personal life, then what was the point of having Facebook at all? It became clear over time: Facebook is my work, and, (as it should be) there is no room for my personal life at work.

Here’s how I broke up with The Face Book.

October 2013 — I parsed out any people on Facebook who I wouldn’t want to send a holiday card to. I took my Facebook friends from 640 to about 200, hoping to increase the signal:noise ratio and focus on better, more meaningful personal content. In contrast, however, in October I moved nearly all of my client’s marketing budget INTO Facebook spend — promoted posts, sponsored posts, retargeting campaigns, contests, sweepstakes, more.

November 2013 — My work on FB was at full-throttle but in contrast, my personal life was radio silent online. The irony of that still embarrasses me. How did I get from being an evangelist for social transparency and yet say nothing about my real life? My posts were hidden behind mildly entertaining content and prideful boasts of my kids. Nothing about ME was shared. I’m a peacock.

December 2013 — My colleagues’ work was bleeding into my Facebook stream, causing even more muddy waters between personal and professional life. During the end-of-the-year flurry, my blogger friends began posting on behalf of brands they represent at a furious pace — “Enter My Giveaway! Merry Christmas Friends! Here’s a Craft from Sponsor X!” We, the anti-spammers had become just that. Moreover, I was all-too-aware that I was both a client and a consumer of these Facebook pleas.

January 2014 — Vacation with the kids means no Facebook. On return, I got a sinking feeling logging back in. I started thinking of a customized FB home page where my work posts and groups appear first, and friend posts are suppressed. Maybe visa-vera? It sparked an idea to move away from personal content to a pro FB account.

February 2014 — I received nearly 100 Facebook Happy Birthday messages, and a dozen paper BDay cards in snailmail. I never read one of the FB messages and kept the paper ones in my dining room for a week. Meanwhile, my Facebook daily logins drop by nearly 50% as my work with The Mother Company ends. I felt a massive sigh of relief to be spending less time on the site.

March 2014 — I attended Spring Training (#GoGiants!) and changed my profile picture to one of me holding a beer at the ball field. For my 100 or so friends, it was hilarious since I barely drink beer at all. However, the next day I had four emails from non-Facebook friends about that picture. How? Because using Facebook Connect pulls in my picture data. Of course it does. Again, my personal and professional lives were colliding.

That was enough for me to put my plan into motion.

The Breakup

April 3, 2014 — I executed on my plan to free my personal life from my professional life on Facebook. I did four things: (1) I created a new Facebook account for myself to run and administer the Pages I use for work and work networking. Call it my corporate account. Yes, it kills my ability to have a large personal reach, but why would I rely on my personal network to promote clients anyway? (2) I downloaded a copy of all of my Facebook data. You can do it too, it’s easy. (3) I added myself to any groups I needed to be a part of as a corporate persona versus personal one. (4) I deleted the Facebook apps from all of my devices.

What is there to net from this?

I’m observing that personal social media and social media for business are very blurry lines for those of us who are entrenched in the space. How do we draw the line? Where do we draw the line? And how do we examine what social transparency really is? I’m not sure I can sell the idea of marketing a brand with transparency if I’m not willing to do it myself. Then again, maybe it’s because I know how effective Facebook marketing can be that I’ve removed myself from it. And where do we reel back in our lives to being private lives?

In reading back over posts spanning several years, Facebook has served as a personal journal for me — what my first company FamilyRoutes was meant to be. But unlike Facebook, a journal doesn’t give you feedback, or likes or comments. It doesn’t take what you post, churn the data and market you a product to fix it or cure it. It just is words on a page meant for you and your eyes only. Somewhere for me, it crossed the line. For goodness sake, two years ago I announced my separation from La Gringa on Facebook. Do we really need to live that transparently?

I’m not sure this experiment will work. My career relies on me understanding Facebook, it’s power and value. And I believe deeply in both. The challenge ahead of me is whether or not I can simply use Facebook as a vehicle for work, or if I’ll find renewed purpose for Facebook in my personal life.

October 2013 — Average Daily Facebook logins 35
February 2014 — Average Daily Facebook logins 18
April 2014 — Average Daily Facebook logins 1

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Monday Night Family

Posted on Sep 20, 2012 in Featured, iVoices |

Monday Night Family

In our family, Monday Night Football is sacred — always has been. For as long as I can remember, Monday nights meant eating dinner by the TV (a rarity!), and getting the chance to scream and yell and jump on the furniture. I have a memory of my mom jumping on the couch in her Oakland Raiders t-shirt that said “Property of Oakland Raiders” — it was grey and black and I thought she was so cool to have such a grown-up shirt. My grandmother, too, was a huge MNF fan, cozying-up to her little TV to watch MNF, but really only if Dallas was playing. Then it was Roger Staubach time — number 12, baby. GO DALLAS.

When Dallas plays Monday Night Football now, I bring out an old photo of my grandmother, place it in front of the TV, and put a beer and a handful of Lay’s potato chips beside her. Oh yeah, we’re a little nuts, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

During the NFL season each year, I have a Monday Night Football open house. I make a big, giant pot of somethingruther because I am not about to be sitting in the kitchen while everyone else watches the game. Chili, enchiladas, make-your-own tacos or a big, kitchen-sink salad are always waiting in the kitchen. You can find me and my kids plunked in front of the TV, just like my parents did when I was a kid. We cheer and scream and let out all the inappropriate loud noises we can’t burst out with at work and at school: “OFFSIDES, SUCKERS!,”  howls my daughter, while my son, intense as ever, wearing his Brady or Crabtree jersey, fist pumps with a defiant “WHAT A HIT!” It’s our unspoken permission to let it all go.

Every Monday night during NFL season, I feel the sense of family all around — tradition runs deep with us, and football is no exception.

So if you’re in the neighborhood this season, stop on by for a Monday Night Football fete — the food the people and the TV are all warm, the beer is cold and we’ll be waiting for you.

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SCRUM for Startups

Posted on Aug 4, 2011 in Featured, Work |

SCRUM for Startups

I learned about SCRUM last year when @la_gringa moved to a SCRUM model with her engineering team and got excited about the simplicity, the huddle-up approach and the ability to be successful in small chunks, working up to a large chunk of success. And although it applies mostly to agile development systems and theories, the same application can be applied to startups.

I’ve had a killer engineer walk out on me after I was (correctly) accused of changing directions for the umpteenth time. I’ve watched exhaustion hit teams of awesome folks after scrambling toward Beta. I’ve pushed things in and out of priority in fear of exceeding my monthly burn rate.  I’ve seen frustation from product owners and developers who are kept from using emerging technologies because previous decisions have already determined the course. SCRUM helps curb eager entrepreneurs and keep focus.

The concept of SCRUM works for startups because, we simply can’t afford to do anything else. Streamlined communication, quick huddles, sprints and backlogs work for us marketeers and entrepreneurs too.

1. Ownership. As startup minds, we tend to own a lot of pieces of a project. Letting ownership creep into other vital parts of the business (say, um, sales), slows down the process and keeps the owners from having command and control over their domains. The next time you, the entrepreneur, thinks your hand belongs in every piece of the pie, remember: you are not the owner of ever piece of the process and meddling in someone else’s sandbox can extend the production process and cause development lags. So hand it over, honey, and let the project owners own. If you can’t do it, be your own SCRUM master and whip yourself a few lashes.

2. Define your SCRUM team. Cross-function is key for us. We’re startups, afterall. But not every function crosses over at the same time or on the same sprint. Assemble the teams, assign the backlog and sprint like hell. Rinse and repeat. This means that each piece of a solution is represented by the person who can accomplish the sprint’s task for their specialty. I bet you’ll put yourself at the tippy top of each of those. When that happens, remember that you and you alone do not a SCRUM team make.

3. Sprint and sweat. I remember one of our first clients who wanted to be able to play with his prototype as we went along. Crazy! How could we have one whole chunk of the process finished enough for him to tap around on?!  Sprints make a lot of sense for startups. The end-product (and the audience it serves) is a moving target. Competition, client needs and learnings all keep things fluid. Overall the product is moving in a forward direction. In a sprint, you bust ass on one thing with no interruptions or changes for about two weeks. Then you huddle-up and check-in. A sprint gets one.thing.done.completely. Put a few sprints together and you’ve got yourself a product.

4. Burndown, not burnout. A great VC told me to put a stake in the ground and move forward from it. The burndown chart is a visual way to track what is left to do during a sprint (and during a full backlog cycle). As a marketer I like the burndown chart because it shows us where we’ve come from and what we’ve got left to do. It puts all of us team members, team leaders and product owners on the same page. We know what we’ve done (YAY us!) and what’s left to do (time to bust-a-move).

5. The Daily Bread. SCRUM meetings are an ADD’d out, caffeine-deficient person’s heaven. A daily 15-minute meeting with three questions for each person: (a) What have you done since yesterday? (b) What will you do today? (c) Is there anything standing in your way today?  I love this method. For entrepreneurs, we have a truckload of things to do in a day. Are you kidding me? But apply a daily SCRUM approach to your day, to your team and create an environment where everyone is on the same page. When you’re head-down in building at the speed of light, it feels good to know where everyone else stands.

Applying SCRUM to a startup environment creates a sense of ownership, but not dictatorship. It protects the process (the sprint process and the greater product). SCRUM determines the collective path and knocks back daunting tasks by breaking it down into chunks of successful sprints. It shows you where you’ve come from as a startup, as a series of smaller teams and as a lean response team. We don’t code in a box. We don’t sell in a bubble. We don’t market in a funnel. We huddle, we call the play and we play it.

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“What’s Your Ideal Job?” and Other Recruiter Questions

Posted on Jul 7, 2011 in Featured, Silly, Work |

“What’s Your Ideal Job?” and Other Recruiter Questions

As most of you know by now, my company Threxy has closed. After six extraordinary years, I’ve decided to go in-house again. Why? Because I miss collaboration, I miss the startup feeling, the long-vision roadmaps. I miss the ability to see a project through instead of just advising others how to. I’ve been the Annie Oakley of outsourced marketing long enough and I can’t wait to begin working with a team again.

In the past few days, I’ve spoken with some fantastic companies and, as you’ve probably experienced yourself,  I’ve been asked the same battery of questions by almost every person I’ve spoken with. What do you say we make it easier on all of us? I’ll just go ahead and answer the questions now… then we can move onto the fun stuff like experience and interest and cool technology.

To the recruiters who are seeing my blog for the first time (welcome and, um, happy-ish reading), this, like most of my writing, is just plain silliness.

Q: What is your ideal job?

A: Well, I could be snarky and say, “Not having one,” but that’s not true at all. I love to work on projects I can wrap myself around. My ideal job today would be a VP Marketing role in a smaller size company that is building out or rebuilding their marketing initiatives. My ideal job would involve working with smack-down-smart brainypants, because, well, that’s what I call fun. I’d throw in a tasty product that is actually exciting to market and one that could benefit from my experience. I’d like to learn from my colleagues. Mama always says, “Learn and teach, learn and teach to keep the balance of work just right.”

Q: What is Threxy? It sounds a little dirty.

A: Threxy is not an adult business, although I’ve made sales programs for enough of them to know more than I should about it. Threxy stands for “Three Ex-Yahoos!” and it’s a company we started in 2005 with three ex-Yahoos (product, engineering and me, the marketer). We had a product idea that we incubated and took through the funding stage. A killer VC told me to scrap it, take the assets and create something new. He was right. From the bones of FamilyRoutes came a six-year business that built online products, developed product and marketing strategies and knocked back about $1 million in revenue. Not bad for a true cottage (like, really, in.my.cottage) startup.

Q: What are your salary requirements?

A: Now, really. Etiquette says to never talk about money, sex or politics and we’ve already covered two of the three. My consulting rate is about $150/hour. That would be over $300,000 per year if I applied the same metrics to a 40-hour work week. I’m not asking for that much, not even in the same ballpark. So there you go.

Q: What makes you a good fit for this role?

A: See, this is a trick question. No one is the perfect fit. It doesn’t happen. It’s about having the right skills to apply to the right company, at the right time, with the right team. Stars have to align — that or a great recruiter. Which is why I’m on this call anyway. So tell me, what makes me a good fit for this role?

Okay, maybe not the way to answer that one. I know people apply to hundreds of jobs online. I’ve known friends and colleagues who click Apply to every job with their keyword search results. That’s not my approach. I’m looking for a company to call home, a place to sink my brain into, and a place to enjoy watching a company grow and develop. I’m only applying to companies where I think I’m a good fit. That said, I’ve had two calls already where the job description and the job offered were different things. Thank goodness for great recruiters who can navigate it with me.

Q: So you graduated from Syracuse University in 1992?

A: <<Crickets>>. Most people don’t know that I didn’t ever receive a degree. I left Syracuse University in 1992 with a good education and a lot of life lessons, but no, I did not graduate, despite my genius IQ. Did I just say that out loud?

Q: Are you willing to relocate?

A: Nope. San Jose to San Francisco is about the max I’m willing to shift. I have too good of a life to consider anything else.

Q: Do you do SM, SEO/SEM, CRM, UGC, SCRUM or PCP?

A: Yes, I have been doing social media since before SM was a catchphrase and I’ll be doing it long after it is called by another name. Social media to me = customer engagement where customers are. SEO/SEM are in my planning and management suite but not my day-to-day job. There are people a lot more skilled than I at executing on SEO/SEM. CRM is old fashioned lead generation and customer retention. So yes, I’m a marketer to customers and CRM is about customers. I earned my chops building, monetizing and growing UGC. I’d consider myself well versed. I know the SCRUM philosophy because two of my clients are using it and because I try to follow what product and engineering are doing. After all, the whole reason you have a company is for the product, right? PCP, nah, but thanks.

Q: Tell us something unique about you so that your resume will stand out!

Are you telling me my resume doesn’t stand out? Okay, fine. Here you go: I once spent five minutes alone with Michael Jackson. There you go. Does my resume stand out now?

Q: It must be hard closing your company and going in house.

A: Not really. I’ve been looking forward to it for a year. This step was planned and I’m literally thrilled and like a kid waiting to open birthday presents over finding just the right company to work for. I am very proud of the company I built, but I’m also proud to say that phase of my career has finished and I’m onto this next one.

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My latest iVoices: Traveling with Kids

Posted on Mar 8, 2011 in iVoices |

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V-Day: The Worst Holiday Ev.ah

Posted on Feb 7, 2011 in Holidays, iVoices |

The worst holiday ever? Valentine’s Day, of course. Watch fellow iVoices reporters and me chat about our most, um, memorable Valentine’s Day gifts. Love, hearts and twinkles. Blech.

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