#35: The power paradox, brutal truths about creativity, on security marketing, and how to combat manterruptions.

On this day in history, June 24, 1901, the first major exhibition of Pablo Picasso's artwork opened at a gallery in Paris. Good time to drop some Picasso truthiness:

Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.

Be found working!

In this edition (#35) of the World's Best Newsletter:

  1. Combating "manterruptions"
  2. The best fact I learned about Wonder Woman
  3. Power paradox - it removes empathy, causes brain damage
  4. Letting local jazz come through the sheet music of the brand
  5. Brutal truths about creativity you should know
  6. Boston Content event this Thursday night
  7. On security marketing by Gwen Betts


1. Combating “manterruptions”

There are many pieces out lately about the phenomenon of “manterrupting” - the very frequent practice of men interrupting women when it’s entirely unnecessary. (Hey, sometimes someone needs to be cut off, this isn’t referring to those times.)

It refers to the situations where you’re trying to get the job done, and a louder voice, a more arrogant personality, or worse, a bullying majority take the spotlight.

Read the NYTimes piece about it, then read how notorious RBG handles it.

(Sidenote: If you're reacting with "Hey I don't do that. Not all men do that." Slow your roll. It happens - unequivocally. Studies have shown it does.  Men interrupt women at disproportionate rates. So rather than argue it doesn’t exist, ask instead what you will do to stop it? To be aware of it? To prevent yourself from letting it happen?)

If you’ve been interrupted recently, here’s a great piece on combatting it next time. You can call it out, you can give private feedback, you can hold strong. Whatever you choose to do, ask why it’s happening - emotional control lacking? Power play? Fragile ego? All three? Good luck… 

2. The best fact I learned about Wonder Woman

OK one more about girl power, then we're back to marketing, pinky swear. 

I’m going to let this WIRED article speak for itself:

“William Moulton Marston was one of the leading psychologists of his time, but these days he’s not known for his work studying the human mind—he’s known as the guy who created Wonder Woman. But that doesn’t mean his psychology research and work in comics were separate, they weren’t. In fact, his scientific theories directly influenced the creation of his iconic heroine.

Marston’s primary aim with Wonder Woman was to acclimate young boys to the idea of powerful women, to help pave the way for a social upheaval that he felt was inevitable.”

The guy wasn’t perfect - there’s a rather awkward obsession with female bondage - but his 1940s Wonder Woman inspired fighters like Gloria Steinem with a female hero that saved Earth from space aliens and fought in the war… much preferred to one who cries over her boyfriend all the time. That’s just boring. 

3. The power paradox - it removes empathy, causes brain damage.

This one is fascinating. 

“Obhi studies brains. And when he put the heads of the powerful and the not-so-powerful under a transcranial-magnetic-stimulation machine, he found that power, in fact, impairs a specific neural process, “mirroring,” that may be a cornerstone of empathy. Which gives a neurological basis to what Keltner has termed the “power paradox”: Once we have power, we lose some of the capacities we needed to gain it in the first place.”

Empathy isn’t… gone in these leaders. It’s just anesthetized. 

Suppressed over time by “Wall Street analysts whispering their greatness quarter after quarter, board members offering them extra helpings of pay, and Forbes praising them for 'doing well while doing good'—they may have what in medicine is known as 'functional' changes to the brain.”

4. Letting local jazz come through the sheet music of the brand

The former jazz musician in me geeked out at this line in a piece by Phil Clement (global CMO of Aon):

One key for Clement in leading branding efforts on a global scale is to let the “local jazz” come through when interpreting the “sheet music” of the brand instead of strictly adhering to brand standards: “The essence of brands translates, but it won’t always translate in the same exact manner…”

Every jazz musician interprets a piece (even when guided by sheet music) their way - with local flavor. That’s what makes it great! I loved applying this thinking to brand standards. Embrace fluidity and let the brand be what it will be - reign it in when necessary but re-think what that necessity is when “brand control” gets in the way of making music. 

Oh man this got cheesy. My bad. Let’s move on. 

Wait, first here's a photo of me playing trombone in a Tigger costume:


You're welcome.


5. Brutal truths about creativity you should know

I've heard it a lot lately. "I'm not creative." Or "I can't come up with creative ideas." 

We all hit a wall, but there's just as surely always a road around that block. Sometimes "the wall" is this perceived limitation within ourselves.

I know, deep stuff.

But seriously, creativity is learned, practiced, and accessible to all. This week I want to absolutely share these "brutal truths" about creativity that strip away excuses for anyone saying they aren’t, or can’t be, creative.”. They come from an original article by Benjamin Earl Evans, curated by Carla Johnson.

1. Your ideas are not original
2. Inspiration is a myth
3. Everyone is creative
4. Creativity isn’t something you’re born with

and more. 


6. This week! Boston Content cominatcha

This week, Thursday to be specific, catch the first Boston Content event of 2017. 6:30pm at General Assembly in Boston. We have some exciting news to share!


7. On security marketing by Gwen Betts

The fabulous Gwen Betts was featured in Tripwire where she drops some knowledge bombs about what she’s learned getting into the security field as a UX designer and marketer:

“...there is no silver bullet when it comes to security. From a marketing perspective, we also need to be careful not to sell silver bullets. We have to be weary of fearmongering, too. Ultimately, it’s about balance.”

I also loved this excerpt:

“People of every background use digital products, yet the predominant stereotype for security folks is “nerdy guy.” If we bring in more women, more POC, and more diversity, we’ll bring in different perspectives and create more inclusive products for everyone, including security measures and how we approach design and implementation of these measures.” 

^^ This girl, destined for greatness. Read the full interview. 

Happy Saturday, friend. 

Tell a friend about this newsletter on TwitterLinkedIn, or Facebook. You'll get some serious karma points for doing so. 


On-Demand Marketing



#34: On empathy for the antagonist, ruthless prioritization, strategic ROI vs attribution, and ABM on-demand

Good morning, friends…

Sliding into the weekend like:



(Yes, you should see it.)

In edition #34 of the World's Best Newsletter:

1. Managing a remote content marketing team
2. Blink and miss how tech has changed retail
3. On empathy for the antagonist
4. “Ruthless prioritization is an art form”
5. What’s the difference between strategic ROI and attribution
6. "One of the top three webinars I've ever attended" now on-demand
7. Quote of the week
8. Open jobs!


1. Managing a remote content marketing team


The incomparable Devin Bramhall, Director of Content at HelpScout recently gave an excellent insider-baseball type view into how she manages a content team spanning three time zones and a blog with over 70,000 subscribers. 

One piece of advice that I felt really resonated is related to tools. Choose them thoughtfully:

“If the tool checks 80 percent of our top features and 20 percent of our “nice-to-have” features, and my team likes it, then I’ve found the right tool.”

And commit to them:

“We’ve adapted, leveraged integrations heavily, and tried not to sweat the rest. I’ve never found a 'silver bullet' tool for anything, so I focus on making what we have work.”

I also really like her template for a weekly communication update.

Read more in her full, excellent, post.



2. Blink and miss how tech has changed retail


This perspective from Millard “Mickey” Drexler, trendsetting chairman of J.Crew and the guy behind Gap’s 90s successes, Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Madewell, admits how quickly technology has changed the world of retail.
Excerpts from the full WSJ article:

“He didn’t appreciate how the quality of garments could easily get lost in a sea of options online, where prices drive decisions, or how social media would give rise to disposable fashion. Online, price has more impact than the sensory qualities of clothing.”

“Now, competitors with high-tech, data-driven supply chains can copy styles faster and move them in a matter of weeks. Online marketplaces drive down prices, and design details such as nicer buttons / richer colors are less apparent on the internet. Social media adds fuel to the style churn - consumers want a new outfit for every Instagram post.”

He admits, “we became a little too elitist in our attitude.” 

“Many visionaries focus on doing what they do best, even when the ground shifts beneath them. From newspapers to television, successful companies have been upended by disruptive technologies. Facebook Inc. is now the world’s largest publisher; Netflix Inc. is worth twice as much as CBS Corp."


3. On empathy for the antagonist


“You don’t really understand an antagonist until you understand why he’s a protagonist in his own version of the world.” - John Rogers

This quote has two relevant meanings to me this week. First of all, there are two sides to every story… something I think we forget in today’s sensationalist quick-share media landscape.

And, although this advice is intended for screenwriters, we can learn a thing or two as marketers. Much of marketing centers on our ability to identify a protagonist (hopefully our customers), and their foe, our antagonist. 

But, just as we need to understand the day in the life, the “why” behind our story’s main characters, we need to understand foes just as well.

Often the strongest antagonist in business is the ‘status quo’ - how customers were solving a problem before you got there. Think what they were doing with spreadsheets before a CRM tool. 

Related: Read Ardath Albee’s perspective on status quo: 

To change them from the status quo, you must first understand that state of being. 

Quoting Ardath:

“In a recent conversation, a client voiced concern that we were starting too early in the process. Comments such as, 'this is a mature market, they know they need to change,' came up as I probed deeper.

My response was, 'If that’s true, then why aren’t they actively pursuing change? What’s stopping them?'

There’s a big difference between knowing change is available and making the decision that change is needed, as well as taking action to do something about it. This human behavior is what marketing must address first and foremost.

Regardless of what you think your prospects and customers already know, they still have a status quo. If you can’t motivate them to move from that position, you can’t sell them anything. Period. End of discussion.” 

Get to know the status quo as well as you get to know your customer. Then, you can go about helping them realize the need for change - and guide them in how to get there through your marketing. 



4. “Ruthless prioritization is an art form”


(First spotted from a tweet by Elle Woulfe.)

Tim Kopp is a CMO-turned-VC at Hyde Park Venture Partners (he was CMO at ExactTarget through acquisition by SFDC.) Quoting his article:

“The real secret to success? Dig deep to uncover and understand the priorities and goals that are most important for you to achieve and work backwards to achieve them. Determining what to say 'no' to might be even more critical than what to say 'yes' to. In other words, you must become obsessed with 'the what' versus 'the how.'”


5. What’s the difference between strategic ROI and attribution?


From client Sam Melnick:

"Change the conversation from 'What did this activity do for me?' to 'What is marketing’s overarching goals? Are we meeting/beating expectations?' and 'What is the right formula for success?"

"To become truly strategic members of the organization, CMOs must be able to demonstrate stewardship over every dollar spent. Only Strategic ROI can deliver that level of prescriptive, actionable insight. Attribution, to its credit, is an important part of the journey, but not the end game many CMOs and marketing executives will need to maintain trust, and job security."


6. "One of the top three webinars I've ever attended" now on-demand

Don't miss the replay of this week's ABM webinar hosted by me and featuring CMO and marketing technology expert Jon Russo. 


7. Quote of the week


The late Pat Summit, the most successful NCAA college basketball coach and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom award, would have been 65 this past week. This week’s quote of the week is hers:

“It is what it is. But, it will be what you make it.” 

I’m a fervent believer in our need to accept the duality of chaos as well as control. I said goodbye to a close friend this week who is moving home to take care of her mother, recently diagnosed with cancer. We spoke deeply about the nature of life - change is the only real constant. It is what it is.

At the same time, there is so much more within our control, how we react to life, what opportunities we create, what connections we make, what we can learn, how we bounce back, how we love and how we give back. All of that is within our grasp. It will be what you make it. 

8. Open jobs!

Marketing Associate at Catalant, Boston. I'm told your coworkers will be super smaaht and wicked fun. 

Content Writer at Version 2.0 Communications, Boston. I know for sure your coworkers will be super smaaht and wicked fun.  

Have a great weekend.


PS: Share this newsletter on Twitter or LinkedIn



#33: Fake news, RuPaul and entrepreneurship, millennial women are badass money-makers, and fear.

Good morning, friends. 


Espresso, achieved. Let's get into edition #33 of the World's Best Newsletter:

1. The four key elements of a successful fake news story.
2. Marketing lessons from RuPaul's book? Believe it.
3. Drag Queens as entrepreneurs?
4. New global study finds (NOT AT ALL) surprising facts about millennial women entrepreneurs
5. When fear works in marketing
6. Are you set up for ABM success? (Webinar 6/15)
7. Win your content independence! (Boston event 6/29)


1. The four key elements of a successful fake news story.


All those wildly effective articles that were shared in the 2016 US election can be broken down into a few key elements. Here’s what goes into a successful fake news story - take heed if you're tasked with creating content for the internet with the hopes of it being shared and for it to motivate people:

  1. Emotional appeal
  2. Veneer of authority: Story traces itself back to a leak or statement or something that supposedly happened.
  3. Effective insertion point into the online space.
  4. An amplification network (like Twitter or Facebook)

That’s all it takes, according to Ben Nimmo, information defense fellow at the international affairs think tank, Atlantic Council. 

For more, read the full article. Bonus: How Far-Right Trolls Spread Hoaxes


2. Marketing lessons from RuPaul's book? Believe it.


This week, the incomparable Carla Johnson asked me and 33 other smart marketers what non-marketing book we recommend to B2B marketers. My response comes at no surprise to anyone who’s a close friend, but to some it may seem a little odd — RuPaul’s Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style. 

Hear me out. 

Marketing is a job filled with new tech and new rules. It’s changing constantly. We’ve got to, in many ways, consistently reinvent what we do as marketers to stay current, relevant, and effective. Always be learning, and always be willing to do things our way, as we navigate uncertain territory. 

At the same time, I notice some who skip - or just lack - the basics of marketing. What, in the first place, gets people to pay attention, trust a brand, do business with them, and ultimately refer future customers? All the tech in the world can’t save a terrible marketing strategy. All the money in the universe can't sell a product that's targeted at the wrong buyers (or not targeted at all.)

So this quote (and the whole book) comes at the right time from an Emmy-Award winner and massively successful entrepreneur who has applied the advice within to the world of drag, entertainment, and show business for nearly 40 years. 

“You must learn the rules first before you throw them out, and then by all means throw them out. The future belongs to those who have learned from the past.” 

Relevant for gorgeous men in women’s clothing, and relevant for a marketer in 2017. The full article has a BUNCH of great additional reading - thanks for pulling it together, Carla.


3. Drag Queens as entrepreneurs?

Speaking of Mama Ru... I have a love-hate relationship with RuPaul’s now-mainstream ‘Drag Race’ - a TV show that plops brave queens playing up the camp of drag into the living rooms of millions of people around the world, and in endlessly-looping gifs on Instagram and Tumblr. 

I love it for bringing drag (a genre I have loved since my queer teenage self discovered Boston’s Jacques Cabaret) into greater visibility. Likewise, I hate it, in a way, for defining what drag is, what it means, and how it should be perpetuated. 

This article illustrates the “RuPaul Drag Industrial Complex.”

Drag used to be a wonderfully obscure, queer performance in gritty gay dance spaces, always with a sense of confidence where it was needed most. In those moments, it reclaimed some semblance of power in a world in which the LGBT community had none. Drag as a whole became the campy, beautiful, uncomfortable, strong, and unexpected spokesperson for an LGBT community that is now awkwardly being pushed into the mainstream… especially evidenced by the troves of bachelorettes who include “local drag show” into their celebrations. (They’re more fun to watch than the drag queens sometimes.) 

But, drag was never meant to be mainstream. 

By its very nature, drag was exclusive, special, kind of clandestine to the gay community. Going mainstream means seeing drag merch in Hot Topic, moving Drag Race from Logo to VH1, and seeing troves of teenagers (under 21, often under 18) at drag shows.

In a way, this has always been Ru’s intention. 

To quote the article, “No queen in the history of drag has so skillfully turned the art form into an industrious and lucrative endeavor, a testament to his ambition as much as it is to his talent.”

And through nine seasons of Drag Race, it’s pushed queens from local heroes (I remember seeing Katya in Boston well prior to this hullabaloo) to global acts, with hundreds of thousands of social followers, becoming paid brand ambassadors. 

Entrepreneurs. Talk about diversifying the world of entrepreneurship :)

Read more. 


4. New global study finds (NOT AT ALL) surprising facts about millennial women entrepreneurs


“…women entrepreneurs are more ambitious and have been more successful than their male counterparts.”

Let's not sugar coat it, I love this study.

“They also take a different approach to entrepreneurship in terms of leadership, financing and objectives.”

I’m just going to let this article speak for itself. It’s too good.

“The 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report, based on a survey conducted by the Scorpio Partnership consultancy, analyses the behaviour of some 2,600 High Net Worth and Ultra High Net Worth entrepreneurs across 18 countries in Asia, North America and Europe, with aggregate wealth of over $17 billion dollars.”

I also found interesting the article's top 3 criteria for success:

  1. Making a profit on their initial investment (35.2%) (That’s a high bar–women are looking for quick profits, but you can see more about that when you look at their funding sources and the capital they put at risk.)
  2. Passing the business on to the next generation (12.3%)
  3. Making a social impact (11.2%)

This study is just fascinating. Invest in women. It’s good business sense. 

5. When fear works in marketing

This piece is a great one, from Brad Smith, on the Kissmetrics blog:

“The Harvard Health Publications says that “chronic activation of [the ‘fight or flight’] survival mechanism” is bad for the health. You don’t want to be that company people associate with negativity. Therefore, incessant badgering of your target audience with fear-based marketing can be catastrophic for your company’s overall brand health.


Even though it almost always works in the short-term.”

There’s this trade-off between fear and hope we have to balance in our marketing. Fear and negative messaging piques the interest of cold prospects who may lack the awareness of a problem. It makes them understand there’s something to be solved.

But it requires the right context. Eventually, fear needs reassurance. Truth. Confidence that you won’t let them down. 

Read more. 


6. Are you set up for ABM success? Upcoming live webinar.

On June 15 I’m teaming up with Jon Russo, “recovering CMO” and president of B2B Fusion to walk through what needs to be in place for a company to truly maximize their investment in ABM. 

You can buy all the tools you want, but if your database isn’t in order, if you haven’t made the right decisions internally, and if you lack some critical buy-in, even the best of intentions will go awry. 

I've asked Jon to walk through what he's done with real companies who want to see value from ABM, but may not be quite ready. He's a marketing operations pro with a heart of gold. 

Register your spot here - it’s free and it’s going to be fun. Pinky swear. 


7. Win your content independence!

GA is joining forces with Boston Content to provide attendees the inspiration and ideas to be true content revolutionaries. 

The night begins with networking, then we’ll break into four smaller groups for discussion with industry experts on the following topic of your choosing:

1. Independence from Mediocrity: Creating Fireworks in a World of Content Duds
2. What's Your Declaration? Defining & Maintaining Brand Voice, Look & Feel
3. A Content Army of One (or Few): Making a Big Mark with a Small Team
4. Start a New Revolution: Content Career Hunting and Skills Selling

Reserve your spot for Thursday, June 29 at 6:30pm in downtown Boston. 

7. Quote of the week - on being fully here:


“If you want to be in the flow, you need to be present.”  - Ru Paul

Don't phone it in. In fact, put the phone away. Be here, right now. 

Have a great weekend,




#32: Stop gendering my whiskey, don't answer this salary question, and please change the language of VCs

Good morning! Hot and fresh, here's edition #32 of The World's Best Newsletter.



[BUT FIRST...] Wanna win $50? Answer a few questions about the state of PR + Content Marketing at your organization by May 31. 

In this edition:

1. The shocking difference in how VCs describe men and women
2. Stop gendering my whiskey
3. Speaking of Anthony Bourdain…
4. Followup to last week’s Dove ad takedown
5. Why they can’t ask - and you shouldn’t tell - in salary negotiations
6. Social Media’s effect on our mental health
7. Quote of the week - the professional

Let's do it.


1. The shocking difference in how VCs describe men and women

Trust me, when you walk into a meeting looking for funding, the only thing you want is to be taken seriously. 

To be evaluated for your potential, and your merits, and your achievements to-date. 

To be seen as assertive, innovative, and competent (just like your male co-founder will be almost immediately by walking into the room.)

This gender bias (AKA bullshit assumptions we make about people) has been proven to make it more difficult for female founders to get companies off the ground. New research brings this to life in an infuriating way, and it’s damaging for not only entrepreneurs, but our society as a whole.

Researchers in Sweden (CAN YOU IMAGINE IF THIS WAS DONE IN THE US) analyzed more than 100 recordings of closed-door VC meetings, to discover that the language used to describe male and female entrepreneurs was radically different. 

Note: not what they were looking for.

“The initial aim of our work was to study financial decision making and help the group to develop their processes, not to look for gendered discourse. But as we put together our data, the presence of gendered discourse was clear and abundant, leading us to take a closer look.”

Here's what they found - the same quality was described as a positive on a man, but a negative for a woman. 

“Men were characterized as having entrepreneurial potential, while the entrepreneurial potential for women was diminished. Many of the young men and women were described as being young, though youth for men was viewed as promising, while young women were considered inexperienced. Men were praised for being viewed as aggressive or arrogant, while women’s experience and excitement were tempered by discussions of their emotional shortcomings. Similarly, cautiousness was viewed very differently depending on the gender of the entrepreneur.”


Only when we are AWARE OF and held ACCOUNTABLE FOR our bias, then we can work to change them.

Read the full article in Harvard Business Review.

2. Stop gendering my whiskey

It happened again last week - not that I mind. I find it kind of funny, something I look forward to every time I order my go-to drink: Johnnie Black, on the rocks, thanks. 

First there’s a pause, like he (bartender, always a man, the women don’t flinch) didn’t hear me correctly. Then there’s a lowering of the bottom lip, eyebrows raised in a mark of being impressed, and then, the inevitable nod of approval. There’s usually a “Nice… I like your style” or “Wow, atta girl!" as I kind of make this face in response:

Give me the scotch, take my money, and stop gendering my whiskey. 

Research shows that super oversimplified representations of male/female eating habits persist for many of us. 

How does a drink, like whiskey or beer, become gendered in the first place? 

"We're constantly bombarded with advertising and social messaging telling us that eating like a bird and dining on salad is feminine, while eating large portions and plenty of red meat is manly," Christine Brissette wrote in the Washington Post.

'These oversimplified representations of female and male eating habits may seem outdated, but research shows they persist for many of us.' Indeed, this kind of messaging is all around us. Take products like Brosé (rosé for bros), Powerful Yogurt (it's got a bull logo) and Skinny Cow for Him (truly a thing that exists), all of which take food products that are typically marketed to women and give them a masculine makeover. 

More than anything, it's the items' presentation that depicts who should be consuming it — there's nothing listed in the ingredients that make them better for men. So even though women have proven their interest in harder liquids like whiskey and beer (they were, after all, the original brewers), sale and celebration of these drinks are consistently, pitifully aimed at men.” 

Read the full article in which my favorite wandering drunk philosopher Anthony Bourdain calls out the silly stupid practice of assigning gender to food. 

3. Speaking of Anthony Bourdain…

You either love, or hate, Anthony Bourdain. He’s someone who I read or tune into whenever I have the chance to follow this lived alternative reality that I find myself inexplicably drawn to - 

I wrote once that I was inspired by his "give-no-fucks, capricious gallantry."

I was delighted then to learn more about the person tasked with following this enormous figure around the world with a camera - Lynda Tenaglia, the “Woman Who Turned Anthony Bourdain into a TV Star.”

“It became genre-defining, to follow somebody, to have a strong point of view, but then also to just capture people in their own settings and in the most intimate of fashions.”

My favorite part of the article… her recap of the American Dream: "Put your head down and work like a motherf*cker." 

Amen sister.

4. Followup to last week’s Dove ad takedown

Thanks to the power and reach of LinkedIn… my article last week welcomed a whole bunch of new subscribers (Hi! Welcome! Stick around, you'll like it here.) 

It was ALSO seen by hundreds of people who work at Unilever....


In it, I highlight the hypocrisy of the same company promoting both “real beauty” and the bikini-clad army of women in its Axe commercials.

This week, right on cue, Unilever/Axe released ads that attempt to be a major rebuke of their old commercials: “Is it OK for guys…”

Now… I’m still firmly in the camp of “can we, like, not exploit real societal problems to sell body spray” but the move deserved a call out after the public shaming I gave Unilever last week. 

(PS what is the plan with Tweets like this? #yougotsomething… got what? Herpes? LOL) 

Moving on. 

5. Why they can’t ask - and you shouldn’t tell - in salary negotiations

You’ve heard the question before in a job interview process. “How much money do you currently make?”

According to two very smart women: don’t answer.

Lilly Ledbetter is an equal pay icon, whose pay discrimination lawsuit led to a new federal law on equal pay. In this piece, she and NYC First Lady Charlene McCray illuminate the problem of equal pay for women. 

In NYC, CA, PA, and MA, there are laws related to the legality of asking this question as it traps women from the very first job they take.

Don't answer.  Instead, respond by turning the question around. “Let me tell you what I’d like to make.” 

PS: Let me tell you what I’d like to say to companies who pay hispanic women 46% of what their white male counterparts earn... Read the full article for more.

6. Social Media’s effect on our mental health - 

The very official sounding Royal Society for Public Health published a report this week that should surprise exactly zero people, finding that our obsession with social media is more addictive than cigarettes, and is causing sleep issues, depression, and anxiety (the latter of which has risen by 70% in the past 25 years. Yikes.) 

Instagram came in first as the worst for young people’s mental health. #anxiety #blessed #hustle

Read the full findings.

7. Quote of the week

Shoutout to the wonderful Liz (thank you) who sent me this quote on a week that I really needed to see it. It's from The War of Art by Steven Pressfield:

Have a stellar weekend.

PS:  Boston Content, a community of over 1,300 content professionals in Boston (producers, makers, marketers, enthusiasts, technologists) wants YOU! 

We're seeking volunteers for our leadership committee, with roles available ranging from a community manager to treasurer. 




#31 Dove's ad blunder, WTF is a martech stack, and the radical history of Mother's Day

Hello friends, and happy Saturday.

To all you moms out there, Happy Hallmark-induced influx of flowers, necklaces, pictures, and other tchotchkes in exchange for your labor, resilience, patience, and all the other things that go into being a Mom.

Tomorrow is a truly special day... at least for retailers and restaurants who will rake in $19.9 billion.




In edition #31 of the World's Best Newsletter:

1. The radical and dark history of Mother's Day
2. My new post on the Dove ad blunder shows the bar is higher for marketing to women
3. WTF is a Martech stack? 
4. Call for applications - Boston Content leadership committee
5. Boston's new Engagio user group
6. An exercise in language compression
7. Quote of the week: most important skills for marketers

1. The radical and dark history of Mother's Day

Today, it's a $20B day of shopping. 

But Mother's Day has a more radical history. It was "founded for mourning women to remember fallen soldiers and work for peace. And when the holiday went commercial, its greatest champion, Anna Jarvis, gave everything to fight it, dying penniless and broken in a sanitarium." 

PLEASE take a few mins to read the radical history of Mother's Day in Nat Geo and another perspective in the activist group blog Code Pink. 

(This newsletter is of course fair and balanced, just like Fox News.)

2. My new post on the Dove ad blunder shows the bar is higher for marketing to women

Have you SEEN this ridiculous, lazy, exploitative and downright SILLY campaign from Dove? Hilarious.


"Celebrate the many shapes and sizes of beauty." Ok, sure.

Every time I see the short stumpy one I want to crack up laughing. It's my favorite. 

Seriously, who among us would choose that one in the aisle at Target. 

"Oh, rotund and squat? That's me! Thank GOD a brand FINALLY understands me."

Eye roll.

The same company that was heralded by some for "leading the charge" against unrealistic beauty standards for women is also responsible for the Axe Effect commercials featuring unrealistically skinny actresses lusting over douchey men. 

Hypocrisy for profit always deserves public shaming, IMO. 

Also, regarding this phrase "femvertising" - no. Just no. NO. Go read my full post for more. 

3. WTF is a Martech stack? 

Industry giant AdAge published the perspective of (client) Allocadia CMO James Thomas during the MarTech SFO event this past week after a conversation in a combination laundromat/high-end coffee bar (I miss San Francisco.)

Reporter George Slefo had originally conceived the article titled "WTF is a MarTech Stack?" appropriate to describe the sentiment of many in the old-school world of advertising as the industry intersects with the fast-changing world of martech.

Alas, AdAge's editors ended up with "What Exactly is a Martech Stack?" an excellent piece about the state of martech in the context of our industry as a whole. Read on.

4. Call for applications - Boston Content leadership committee

Boston Content, a community of over 1,300 content professionals in Boston (producers, makers, marketers, enthusiasts, technologists) wants YOU! The organization is seeking volunteers for its leadership committee, with roles available ranging from a community manager to event strategists. Apply now, before May 31st.

5. Boston's new Engagio user group

If you're in Greater Boston and interested in Account Based Marketing, use Engagio, or want to learn more about either, join a new meetup founded by my friend Mark Feldman - the Boston Engagio User Group.

6. An exercise in language compression

Are pop lyrics getting more repetitive? This article in ThePudding by Colin Morris is a combination of interesting topic with new-media formatting that makes it fun to explore. Read the full visual essay, and enjoy

7. Quote of the week: most important skills for marketers

The quote of the week came in conversation with Brendan Cournoyer, VP of Corporate Marketing at Rt 128-institution Brainshark. We were talking about building a marketing team when he dropped this truth bomb:

"The most important skills in marketing today are curiosity and instinct." 

I couldn't agree more. Marketers need to constantly be asking "how can we do this better?" and cultivate their internal fortitude to navigate daily decisions with confidence. If anyone's heard me rant about "trusting their goo" this is what I'm talking about. (And someday I am writing that book, damnit.)

PS, rumor has it Brendan may be sharing more content career insight in an upcoming Boston Content event. Make sure you're on the list to be notified as soon as rumors MAY OR MAY NOT be reality. 

Jesus, I sound like Sean Spicer. 

Have a wonderful weekend, and Happy Mother's Day, you rebels. 


PS: Tell a friend! Tweet this, or post this to LinkedIn



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#30: Special milestone edition of the World's Best Newsletter!

Friends, we have reached TWO important milestones in our relationship as newsletter-writer and occasional-newsletter-reader... 

THIRTY issues & FOUR HUNDRED subscribers! 

Who are you people?

Shoutout to Kerri from GE Digital as lucky #400! 


Quick note about this lil old newsletter, skip ahead for the links

I started this newsletter when I left my startup to remind people that yes, I was still alive and no, I was not unemployed. (I think my in-laws still think I don't have a real job, but, you know, #consultantlife #YOLO.) I call it the World's Best Newsletter as a joke as I, honestly, thought nobody would read it.

You can read all past versions here.

Instead we've shared 28,222 words, grown to four-hundred strong, and I've heard amazing support from those of you who read it diligently. Thank you.

This issue comes at a time when I am personally forging three very distinct identities that normally operate in separation. I spoke last month at Out in Tech, an organization that builds community for LGBT professionals. From time to time I leverage this platform to speak out against the BS I see happening in politics, because silence leads to terrible consequences. And on this platform, as you know, I speak my mind on marketing. 

Politics, relationships, and business. Three things that are like oil, water, and a third unmeshable thing.

But when combined, appropriately, they form a more complete, more authentic, more whole representation of the girl behind the newsletter. A truthful personal brand. 

A friend recently asked me if I were concerned about sharing political links in the fear of alienating readers. Just one week prior, during that Out in Tech event, I was asked by a member of the trans community what I do to give voice to the one in five trans people discriminated against in the workplace. 

One group asking why I spoke up, another challenging me to speak louder.

Here's the deal. My clients who hire me know I'm good at what I do - we don't need to share the same political views to create great marketing. It has not yet been a problem in my professional life. 

But as marketers, as communicators, we have the ability to make people pay attention. To challenge the status quo. We're paid to garner attention to our products/services. 

What are we doing with our skills to draw attention to what really matters? 

I believe there is room for both as our professional lives and personal lives meld, and that this is a necessary balance if one seeks fulfillment in life. (Unless it involves hate - I'm not advocating for carte blanche trolling.) 

Long story short: I thank you for continuing to support this newsletter as I write fully, authentically, and with due attention paid to what I feel are the right things, whether they fall into politics, relationships, or business. And for those of you who play it safe in fear, I encourage you to start speaking up, as appropriate.

Mary Oliver said it best: 

In edition #30 of the World's Best Newsletter:

1. I went to Oracle MME and all I got was this lousy recap

We were told consolidation in the chaotic marketing technology world would come, and it has. The Oracle Marketing Cloud boasts six solutions all working in alleged harmony to meet the needs of an orchestrated customer experience (hence the name change).

That consolidation drove a 65% increase in net-new logos for the business, according to CEO Mark Hurd in the press room, part of an overall 72% growth rate – one that he was sure to point out as faster than that of Microsoft and Amazon.

What does all this mean? 

My recap post of Oracle MME / Modern CX features Fabio, a drone, takeaways, and that epic Jean-Claude Van Damme truck split. Read on.

2. Finding an enemy could be the best thing you do

I was invited to speak at the Oracle event this year on the topic of Finding an Enemy. 

In a separate email, you'll be receiving early-access to the accompanying eBook I wrote on this topic, and learn how the right foe can motivate your buyers (and team) to action. 

PS: I'll be speaking at Inbound this year on a similar theme, alongside Michelle Obama :-O

3. Yahoo's Demise is a Death Knell for Digital News Orgs

"Print newspapers will continue to fold, but Yahoo’s demise is a signal that web-native companies are next. If you run a business that relies on digital-advertising revenue for an outsized portion of your funding, you need to find new streams of revenue. Now. It may already be too late."

4. The new media message - Why innovation stories deserve innovative formats

This post from Velocity Partners says it all by the very nature of the experience you have when reading it. Click through if you're interested in new ways to tell our stories. 

5. Wonder Woman marketing takes a depressing turn with diet-bar partnership



PS: Want to share this with your networks? Click here for a pre-populated Tweet. Shucks.


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#29 ENOUGH with "girlboss," WHAT the font, buyers don't want NEW, and SCIENCE!


Last weekend, I took a break from our weekly newsletter party to spend time with family. 

I then took this week to recover from a weekend spent with family.

Just kidding.

In this edition (#29) of the World's Best Newsletter:

1. Buyers don’t want something truly new - they want the familiar, done differently. 
2. You like numbers? How you like dem numbers!?
3. Can we NOT with the cutesy titles for women leaders?
4. FONTS MATTER! Here's the science behind it.
5. The state of the union, I mean, the world of blogging.
6. See you in Vegas next week?
7. Quote of the Week

1. Buyers don’t want something truly new - they want the familiar, done differently. 

In this article, Nir Eyal explains the rise of the California Roll, and subsequent boom of the sushi market in the US.

$2.25 billion worth of sushi is consumed annually here - my contribution to which is larger than I care to admit.

Prior to this roll, which combined familiar ingredients like rice, avocado, cucumber, sesame seeds and crab meat in a new way, sushi had struggled to catch on. Over the next few decades, demand exploded. 

The lesson: buyers don’t want something truly new, they want the familiar, done differently. 

The same applies to the familiar metaphors in the GUI of PCs (folders, notepads, windows, trash cans) and the ubiquitously understood physical credit card design in Apple Wallet. 

Consider this the next time you’re introducing something to the market, launching a campaign, or otherwise fighting the resistance we all have to what’s outside the norm. 

We are fundamentally lazy. Read on.

2. You like numbers? How you like dem numbers!?

Steve Ballmer is characterized in this NYTimes article like a petulant child since retiring from Microsoft in 2014. With “nothing to do” (I can’t make this stuff up) he casually decides to buy the LA Clippers then build a new database that aggregates spending across all federal, state, and local governments. 

He calls it “the equivalent of a 10-K for government.” 

It’s available at and the information within has the potential to be really fascinating. Unfortunately, like much of what Microsoft does... it's difficult to use and takes a bit of effort to really find value. Oops.

3. Can we NOT with the cutesy titles for women leaders?

So, this week I’m seeing promos for the new Girlboss series on Netflix described by the Guardian yesterday as a “tone-deaf rallying cry to millennial narcissists” LOL. I must be in their target audience.

The best-selling book-turned-series is from Sophia Amoruso, a woman who has built a cult following on top of a women's empowerment narrative, even while filing Chapter 11 for her company Nasty Gal late last year. 

This is the woman who started “Girlboss” - this cutesy phrase for women leaders who, you know, buck the trends, do things their way, live BOLDLY, or whatever other nonsense they’d have you buy into to get you to spend your 78-cent-to-the-dollar paycheck on the pink and gold notebook, coffee mug, motivational t-shirt and laptop sticker to show the world you mean business, sister! (eye roll.) 

I have been called a “girl boss” many times and find myself making this face each time.

Clearly, you can see how I feel about the whole bullshit movement. 

This article sums it up nicely. “Please Stop Trying to ‘Empower’ Women with Cutesy Titles” 

It’s infantilizing. It contributes to the difference between a boss, and a lady boss. An athlete, and a female athlete. A “momtrepreneur” in a world where the phrase “dadtrepreneur” would be ridiculous. 

From the FastCo article:

“If we stop qualifying women’s successes by virtue of their gender, we can also hold their failures to the same standards as men. If you consider Uber CEO Travis Kalanick a bad boss, it’s likely because he reportedly helped foster a toxic company culture—not because he’s a man. Commending and condemning women leaders by the same standards is the definition of true equality.”

Yeah. "Boss" works fine for me, thanks.

4. FONTS MATTER! Here's the science behind it. 

In honor of the science march happening across the country, I wanted to share a fascinating article on the WHY behind typography. My friends know that I’m prone to pointing our font names in the real world (I see you Bleeding Cowboy on every tattoo parlor). I have such an appreciation for the role type plays in the world. Some takeaways:

Font have meaning. 

Because fonts are designed by humans, there is MEANING attached to them. Courier fonts were designed to resemble old memos written on type writers. Many associated Helvetica with the US Government as it’s used in tax forms. 

Size matters.

“As more reading shifts to digital and screen resolutions improve, the way we read content is changing. Many designers mention that 16pt font is the new 12pt font. A recent study has also shown that larger font sizes can elicit a stronger emotional connection."

I make this suggestion to my clients all the time - to increase the size of the font on their blogs. There’s a reason Medium has become such a popular reading destination. Even LinkedIn had copied its use of white space, minimal distractions, and large font choice. Its 22pt font is simply ENJOYABLE to consume. Imagine that. 

Line length energizes readers.

“Research shows that your subconscious mind gets a boost of energy when jumping to a new line (as long as it doesn’t happen too often) but this energy dwindles as you read over the duration of the line.”


5. The state of the union, I mean, the world of blogging.

I had the chance to introduce Andy Crestodina at last week’s Content Marketing Conference (in which I also made about 5 inappropriate jokes per minute on stage in front of 100+ people. It was great. Moving on.) 

His team has recently published a survey of 1000+ bloggers, revealing some interesting benchmarks, including:

  • On average, the average post takes over 3 hours to write.
  • Posts are getting longer, 1054 words on average.
  • Most bloggers publish weekly or monthly.
  • Social, SEO, and email drive the most traffic to posts.

More in the full post. 

6. See you in Vegas next week?

I’m speaking next week at the Oracle Modern Customer Experience, the event formerly known as Eloqua’s Modern Marketing Experience. It’ll be my first time back to MME in a couple of years, and I’m excited to see what is coming from the team at Oracle, especially in an industry that’s filled with so many point solutions. 

My session is on Wednesday, April 26th, on the power of using an enemy to galvanize customers, create a movement, and focus marketing teams. Can’t wait. Reply if you’re going and let’s meet. 

Oh, and save 50% on your ticket with code DIMC17. You're welcome!

7. Quote of the Week

While this quote has immense truth to marketers, its origins are from astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson in honor of today's Science March:

"If you want to assert a truth, first make sure it's not just an opinion that you desperately want to be true." - Neil DeGrasse Tyson

See you next week,

PS: Are we connected on LinkedIn?




#28 Break out of the "good-news cocoon," avoid the interruption bias, and ignore your title.

Dear reader, may you finish each newsletter with the following reaction:


In edition #28 of The World's Best Newsletter:

1. Titles in a startup are not the same as what your job is.
2. The danger of a good-news cocoon.
3. How to be right: admit you're wrong.
4. The interruption bias - and how to be heard. 
5. The rise of customer success
6. Dan Lyon's burn on all of bro tech culture
7. Quote of the week, on editing.
8. I'm emceeing a Content Marketing Conference, NEXT WEEK!


1. Titles in a startup are not the same as what your job is.

So says Steve Blank in his post titled "Why Some Startups Win." Steve argues that being a slave to process results in many companies losing the sight of the forest for the trees. In other words, our teams get lost in the duties they've been assigned to do, and lose sight of why. 

He shares an idea to combat this issue, a "Departmental Mission Statement" that tells everyone:

  • why they came to work
  • what they needed to do while they were at work
  • and how they would know they had succeeded.

And it had to mention the two words that marketing needed to live and breathe: revenue and profit. Read on.

2. The danger of a good-news cocoon.

In this great HBR read, "Bursting the CEO Bubble" Walt Bettinger, the CEO of Charles Schwab, describes the danger of a good-news cocoon. He calls it his job's “number one challenge.” 

"As he explains, it takes two forms: 'people telling you what they think you want to hear, and people being fearful to tell you things they believe you don’t want to hear.' Managers at all levels experience some form of this challenge, he points out, but 'its grip is most intense in the top office.'"

To fix that - the article argues - requires being approachable, and fostering a culture of speaking up.

"Bettinger has a comprehensive set of tactics for doing that. First, he checks in regularly with important stakeholders—employees, owners, analysts, and clients. Whenever he meets someone from one of those groups, he asks this question: 'If you were in my job, what would you be focusing on?'

...To ensure that the people he manages aren’t withholding or sugarcoating information, Bettinger requires them to write what he calls 'brutally honest reports' twice a month, offering observations in five areas, including 'what’s broken?' (He also urges them to follow the same practice with the people they lead.) 

And to help institutionalize a probing mindset at Schwab, each year he invites several employees who brought something potentially consequential to his attention to fly out and spend a day at headquarters in San Francisco—'not as a reward,' he says, 'but as encouragement.'"

 Read more.

3. How to be right: admit you're wrong.

I'm doubling down on that article. Yes, one article, TWO numbers, because it's chock-full of good advice. 

The other substantial point made in the article is this:

“The difference between successful executives and unsuccessful ones is not the quality of their decision making,” Walt Bettinger says. “Each one probably makes good decisions 60% of the time and bad ones 40% of the time—and maybe it’s even 55% to 45%. The difference is, the successful executive is faster to recognize the bad decisions and adjust, whereas failing executives often dig in and try to convince people that they were right.

... Innovation always involves at least an implicit acknowledgment that you were wrong about something before."

Yes yes yes.

4. The interruption bias - and how to be heard

What causes a supreme court justice to be interrupted more than 30X more than their colleagues?

Their gender. Yeah I bet you saw that coming. Here's how frequently women supreme court justices are interrupted by men. A lot. 

This Forbes article details more behind this phenomenon in MULTIPLE studies: 

"According to world-renowned gender communication expert Deborah Tannen, men speak to determine and achieve power and status. Women talk to determine and achieve connection. Given that in American society speaking is considered the power position, it is no wonder that men interrupt to take the floor more often. In using conversation to enhance connection, women are much less likely to interrupt, as it is seen as disrespectful."

My favorite anecdote:

Google exec, Eric Schmidt, was called out for interrupting the only woman on a panel, “Don’t Manterrupt When A Woman Is Talking About Corporate Diversity.” 


PS: to combat the interruptions (those that are not asking for clarification) Try:

  • "There are a few more essential points I need to make. Can you delay a moment while I do that?”
  • “I know I will appreciate your feedback, but can you hold off until I’m done?” 
  • Using shorter sentences so your breaths in between aren’t as long, making it harder to interrupt, and speak with conviction using words like ‘know’ instead of ‘believe’ and ‘will’ instead of ‘might.’ 
  • Studies show men tend to interrupt women more often when they lean away, smile and don’t look at the person they are speaking to, so look ‘em in the eye, lean in and take yourself seriously.

5. The rise of customer success

I love a guy who puts a callout quote by himself in his own article. 

“Customers may come for your product, but they stay for your people.” – Me

The "me" here is Paul Teshima, a whip-smart exec from the Eloqua days who is now building and growing a very cool tool (PS check out their new chrome app, it adds cool insights to any name in your inbox.) 

This week I'm recommending his post, "From Fighting Fires to Inspiring Customers: How to be Proactive in Customer Success"

6. Dan Lyon's burn on all of bro tech culture

What do you think?

"The real problem with tech bros is not just that they’re boorish jerks, It’s that they’re boorish jerks who don’t know how to run companies."

Burn... read more in the NY Times.

7. Quote of the week, on editing.

I do a lot of writing these days - and moreso, do a lot of editing. This one stuck with me:

“You rarely hear writers talk about the editing process. But editing is everything. The writing itself is no big deal. The editing, and even more than that, the self-doubt, is excruciating.” Jonathan Safran Froer

8. Next week's content marketing conference

I am emceeing an event next week in Boston. Join me if you're in town: Content Marketing Conference April 11-14 (Weds + Thurs are main conference days). 

Have a great weekend, make good choices, and tell your friends about my corner of the internet.




#27: Struggle bus, man bun, throwing shade, the courage to mess with success, and the true source of inspiration

Show, snow, go away, my flight to Miami leaves in t-minus 7 hours... 

We're going from this:

To this:

(That's an actual portrayal of me immediately upon arriving in South Beach.) 

Until then, this is edition #27 of The World's Best Newsletter, and in this version, dear reader:

1. Language as an evolution: Struggle bus, man bun, throwing shade. 
2. You are not your job.
3. Instagram's Courage to Mess with Success
4. Calling Bullsh*t on Faux Feminism as a Marketing Commodity
5. Content Marketing Conference - Boston 11-13, 2017
6. Bold Calls to Action from the 2017 Women's Leadership Forum
7. Quote of the week: where inspiration is born

Let's do it.

1. Language as an evolution: Struggle bus, man bun, throwing shade. published a new slideshow featuring new words in the dictionary, including, yes, struggle bus, man bun, and throwing shade. Read the full list. 

Language's evolution can be jarring. How can you change what is so founded in history and culture and identity? But it's obvious that language changes over time (there are many TED talks about this topic), it represents our evolving understanding of the world, and it always has. 

Slang, even texting... they're real ways we make sense of the world, and whether or not you agree or like it, these words hold meaning. 

The dictionary is not an authority, it's more of an evolving record of our time and our collective identity. Read author David Skinner's take on The Role of a Dictionary:

"Language is profoundly conventional, so few of us can claim to be innovators, but the ambitious writer tries to avoid saying what has already been said. This is true for ad copy, political speeches, quality nonfiction and most other types of writing. 

Journalism, obviously, rests entirely on the claim to be delivering something new. And what is new should sound new, seem new and maybe require quotation marks, your copy editor thinks."

2. You are not your job.

I met Jamie Bradley at one of the countless marketing trade shows I've attended. She's hilarious, smart, and someone you're going to want to know. You'll see why once you read her latest post on the difference between you, and your job.

"...You are not your job. Your job is not your worth. I am not the first person to say something like this. The first person was likely some Entrepremaker and Doer named Chad or a Content Rockstar Ninja Guru that has a soul patch and a kitesurfing avatar..."

"...The pain, the loss, the grief, the unholy mountain of obstacles you’ve faced. The opportunities you’ve seized and squandered. The people you’ve met. The hustles you’ve hustled. On and on and on and on. This is you. This is your worth.

Your job? That’s something else. That’s, most likely, someone else’s vision. Someone else’s purpose..."

See? Read more.

3. Instagram's Courage to Mess with Success

In business, there is risk in not risking. (Oooohh. Deep. I know. Am I in South Beach yet?)

This FastCo article is an interesting chronicle of Instagram's decision to change, before it had to. Many organizations are faced with the need to change when it's too late. Sales are dropping, churn is increasing... time to change, right? 

Actually, it may be too late. "Embracing change when everything’s clicking may be one of the hardest challenges in business."

If Instagram waited until there were signs the app was in dire need of revamping, it would likely be too late. By even considering changes (like allowing for non-square photos - I know, shocking), the company actually came to understand itself better, finding the courage to reimagine itself on multiple fronts - from app features, to internal team structure.

What really stuck with me, though, was the motivation behind letting go of "business as usual", as described by CEO Kevin Systrom:

Every recent change the company has wrought, he says, sprang from the team asking itself: What would the company do if Instagram as we knew it suddenly stopped mattering?

Talk about motivation.

4. Calling Bullsh*t on Faux Feminism as a Marketing Commodity

In late October I'll be in Columbus, Ohio (any of my subscribers there!?) speaking at Women In Digital's annual conference alongside some amazing women including the co-founder of the #grabyourwallet movement and head of social for Wired magazine. My session will absolutely call BS on the troubling trend of using feminism as a marketing commodity. 

Read my earlier rants on this topic, and join me if you're in the Columbus area. This event is the real deal, and founder Alaina Shearer is unstoppable.

5. Content Marketing Conference - Boston 11-13, 2017

I'm moderating a panel featuring my partner in crime, Katelyn Holbrook, VP at Version 2.0 Communications at the upcoming Content Marketing Conference in a few days. 

We'll be speaking alongside some of Boston's most well-known marketers including Ann Handley, Samantha Stone, Lee Odden, and many more. Join us if you're in town!

6. Bold Calls to Action from the 2017 Women's Leadership Forum

If you liked my post featuring advice from Madge Meyer, former EVP and Chief Innovation Officer at State Street, you'll love this larger recap of the full event. I share seven key calls to action from this recent AdClub event including:

  • “You represent millions of dollars of purchasing power. Do some good in this world.”
    - Mary Mazzio – Award winning director and social impact documentary film maker
  • “Find your own voice, and use that voice to lead.”
    - Sarah Hurtwitz – Chief Speechwriter to Michelle Obama
  • “Embrace emotions as an essential part of life, not a sign of weakness.”
    – Dr. Miriam Meckel, Expert on Media Economics and Communication

Quote of the Week: Nobel laureate and poet Wisława Szymborska on uncertainty. 

"Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous ‘I don’t know.’”

More of her acceptance speech is available here, give it a read if you're looking for some inspiration. She continues:

"This is why I value that little phrase “I don’t know” so highly. It’s small, but it flies on mighty wings. It expands our lives to include the spaces within us as well as those outer expanses in which our tiny Earth hangs suspended. 

If Isaac Newton had never said to himself “I don’t know,” the apples in his little orchard might have dropped to the ground like hailstones and at best he would have stooped to pick them up and gobble them with gusto. 

Had my compatriot Marie Sklodowska-Curie never said to herself “I don’t know”, she probably would have wound up teaching chemistry at some private high school for young ladies from good families, and would have ended her days performing this otherwise perfectly respectable job. 

But she kept on saying “I don’t know,” and these words led her, not just once but twice, to Stockholm, where restless, questing spirits are occasionally rewarded with the Nobel Prize."

To me, there can be comfort in the chaos of "I don't know." It's either a personality trait, or something forged from years in startups wrought with ambiguity (maybe it's all that yoga I've been doing), but accepting a certain level of anarchy is... freeing. 

Speaking of a certain level of anarchy... time to work from Miami for a week. Because I can. #workfromanywhere




#26 Ode to bitch-face, browser history for sale, the problem with empathy, and my life as a consultant.

We received our full wedding video this week. 

It was beautiful. We're the luckiest people in the world. Life is beautiful and perfect and love is love and *cue the waterworks.* 

On to edition #26 of the World's Best Newsletter. This week:

1. So you wanna be a big company...
2. Next big shift in SaaS
3. Your browser history now for sale
4. Marketplace feminism
5. The problem with empathy
6. Ode to my bitch-face
7. My life as a consultant
8. Quote of the Week

1. So you wanna be a big company...

I want to kick off this week with a quote from communications expert and entrepreneur Maura FitzGerald from a recent Q&A in HuffPo:

"If you want to be a big company, you have to behave like one, even when you’re small. It’s never too soon to start building a strong culture around a big vision and implementing the processes and procedures that will help sustain high growth."

It's advice I've given to many of my clients, and some that I learned while working for Maura. Read the full article for more and act like the company you want to be.

2. Next big shift in SaaS

Tomasz Tunguz (VC at Redpoint) believes the future belongs to those who can change the way companies operate. Rather than better systems of record (ERP, CRM, MPM), he argues the next wave is workflow application systems that fundamentally improve processes like sales followup. This OpenView piece does a great job breaking it down as well.

"The next big shift in SaaS is an evolution from software as a service as a displacer to a disruptor. Displacement technologies compete with incumbents on the same buying parameters. Disruptive companies change the way a buyer thinks about solving their need. Most SaaS products today are displacers."

He should know, he's dumping other people's money into these types of companies :) No pressure. Read the full post.

3. Your browser history now for sale

In this week of the "real world" we now live in, our US Senate voted to eliminate broadband privacy rules that would have required ISPs to get consumers' explicit consent before selling or sharing Web browsing data and other private information with advertisers and other companies.

Consumer advocates are furious, as is generally their state of being. 

This means that internet providers will be able to share your web browsing history without your permission. 

It's a move ripe for marketing potential (file this under "times I cringe at the marketing profession") ... but with limited consumer options (how many choices do you really have for internet service?) and a lack of widespread understanding or control over consumer data, this sets a dangerous precedent of disdain for information privacy. It's being touted as something they've done in the name of protecting companies from "overreach." 

Not buying it. 

The acronym "ISP" is now being used to mean "information sold for profit," and "invading subscriber privacy," rather than "Internet service providers" in an attempt to clarify the real purpose of the bill. 

I understand this is the world we now operate in. I know firsthand the value of selling information. I just wish those who were not in marketing and aware of the supply-chain of personal data were more aware of what was happening, and able to have a real say in the matter. Wishful thinking.

4. Marketplace feminism

I've written before about the use of the "feminist" narrative to sell products that have nothing to do with women's rights (deodorant, soap, you know, WOMENZ THINGS), while the companies themselves employ a teeny tiny number of women at senior levels, and invest nothing in internal equality programs like bias training or inclusive hiring practices.

AKA, hypocrisy at its finest. 

This week I was encouraged to see mainstream (lamestream?) coverage in USA TODAY on the issue. My hope is for enough consumers to see these campaigns for what they are - pandering and exploiting the very real struggle for women's equality in the name of selling products! 

AND... women-owned companies are not excluded from bad behavior. Check the recent news of Thinx co-founder Miki Agrawal coming under fire for prohibitively expensive health care plans and a volatile work environment. Can you not. 

5. The problem with empathy

This article made me think and it's worth a read.

When I was CMO of Cintell, we operated in the persona world, where empathy is the driving force behind the effectiveness of buyer insights / customer intelligence / buyer personas. That led to my TEDx talk on the subject, and a lot of blogging/reading/speaking about the power of empathy. And I do still believe that it's a critical skill to be honed, and part of successful marketing.  

That said, I have been a little... well, unsure, about the feel-good nature of what we were saying. Empathy is important but it's not perfect. This article helped me round out a more practical understanding of the intricacies behind empathy, which is a very human emotion, and therefore, a very dynamic and complicated thing. 

What it comes down to is essentially this. "Empathy is a spotlight with a narrow focus; it shines brightly on those we love and gets dim for those who are different or strange."

It reminds me of the fact that one murder is a tragedy, while a million is a statistic.

We are only capable of so much empathy. It is a limited emotion that must be balanced with, as the author says, "self-control, intelligence, and a more diffuse compassion." 

6. Ode to my bitch-face

The author of this slam poem writes odes to the ridiculous things she's supposed to feel ashamed of, like her Resting Bitch Face. (I love that.) She explains, "shame works because we're told to feel a certain way about the way we live, act, walk, speak, and dress."

Watch her piece "Ode to Bitch-Face."

If you've ever been told you have a "resting bitch-face" or RBF, you're mistaken for being angry when you're really just... neutral. It's a real scientific thing, and calls for the same blood-boiling annoyance as being told to smile. (Please see the best response to this.)

7. My life as a consultant

I was asked to write about my life as a consultant - stories, lessons learned, and insights into the realities of the world of freelancing and solo consulting. Read on. 

8. Quote of the Week

"If you wanna be invited to the party, you must have something to bring." - RuPaul

Substance with the style please. Steak with the sizzle. One of either is not enough. 

And girl, you better work.

Put some bass in your walk this weekend,

Comments welcome, below, but only if they're nice and use proper grammar. Or four letter words. 




#25: Listen Well, Speak Up, and 3 More Lessons from Madge, a B2B Persona Is Not an Island, How a Mom Would Have Handled the BBC Situation

Happy Saturday, friends. It's St. Patrick's Day weekend in Boston (also known as "bro Christmas") and while I'm not Irish...


In edition #25 of The World's Best Newsletter:

1. Listen Well, Speak Up, and 3 More Lessons from Madge
2. My Rules for Increasing Retention and Creating Growth within Existing Accounts
3. A Look at B2B Buying Dynamics: A B2B Persona is Not an Island
4. Why Many Startups Fail to Live Up to their Brand Stories
5. How a Mom Would Have Handled the BBC Dad Situation
6. Marketers Are More Confident Than Ever - Should We Be? 
7. Take Your Damn Victory Lap
8. Quote of the Week: Chuck Palahniuk

Read on - before you imbibe that green beer (gross).

1. Listen Well, Speak Up, and 3 More Lessons from Madge

This week I was invited to the Ad Club's Womens Leadership Forum, where Madge Meyer spoke to a room of 1000+ women.

I could not get enough of Madge’s easy humor, or her confident humility. I realize “confident humility” may be an oxymoron, but what I witnessed was a delicate balance of touting her remarkable success, sharing lessons born of mistakes, all delivered with an empathy that left each of us feeling that her journey was – or could be - our own.

Read more in today's post.

2. My Rules for Increasing Retention and Creating Growth within Existing Accounts

Julie Persofsky is back with a set of advice for getting more from your current account base. 

"Most companies have revenue engines that run on delicately intertwined gears of new logos, retention and upsell/cross-sell. If one gear isn’t working effectively, the others have to work harder and exude more effort in order to make up the difference." 

Read more in her full article.

3. A Look at B2B Buying Dynamics: A B2B Persona is Not an Island

Ardath Albee is an expert in complex B2B marketing without all the fluff that comes with being an expert. She was an advisor for my startup, and I have learned MUCH from her and her books. 

This week she posted a new piece that sums up the relationship between each of the individuals involved in our products: 

"Let’s say your sales team says they must engage a CXO in order to close a deal. But they also share that there’s a Director of IT who conducts the evaluation of the software you’re selling. Also, because the software addresses employee communications, the VP of HR will need to sign off. And the purchase is pretty hefty so the CFO will need to approve a budget reallocation to pay for it.

So now we have 4 personas and we haven’t even considered whether the evaluation will also include feedback from a select group of end users since the ROI of the purchase will depend on user adoption...

  ... By being prepared with content that answers the concerns of other personas, you can help the buying committee work together to make progress and see it through to a successful outcome.

Don’t do your marketing programs a disservice by treating a buyer persona as an island. Get to know the dynamics of the buying committees and find ways to help them work together more productively."

4. Why Many Startups Fail to Live Up to their Brand Stories

I love this interview with Regis McKenna (called "Silicon Valley's original storyteller") as it speaks to the longevity of a brand vs. the allure of creating a fast narrative - something many startups do to attract investor attention, and often, overreach. 

The best dig at most startups? "They try to create a perception with words rather than with deeds."

Actions matter. Products matter. Impact matters. Context matters. History matters.

"Reality does eventually catch up with perception. In marketing, there is this concept that what you’ve got to do is to get people to have a perception, and you do that by constantly sending a ‘message’ out and basically selling a message. But that message must be grounded in reality."

Yes. Read the full interview. 

5. How a Mom Would Have Handled the BBC Dad Situation

We all saw the video of the father interviewed on BBC from his home office who was ADORABLY interrupted live by two kids and a panicked wife (who, incidentally, many assumed was the nanny. Rude. This is why we can't have nice things.) 

This parody shows how a mom would have handled the same situation. She keeps talking confidently, doesn't miss a beat, quells both toddlers, cooks dinner, and difuses a bomb. 


Watch the video.

6. Marketers Are More Confident Than Ever - Should We Be?

The unstoppable force that is Carla Johnson recapped an AMA survey, which found that confidence among marketers is rising among topics like investing in the right customers, ability to measure, and having the right tools/processes in place. 

One finding that I found interesting.... 86% of marketers 35 and younger are optimistic about the power and influence of marketing in an organization over the next few years.

Only 56% of those 56 and older felt the same. 

This has a lot to do with how technology is impacting the value of marketing today, and the uncertainty many feel as the industry changes so dramatically.

Full article, as always the case with Carla, is well worth the read.

7. Take Your Damn Victory Lap

File this one under "metaphors for life." Scotland's Laura Muir won a gold medal at the European Indoor Athletics Championships. Usually, winners get a victory lap - you know, with the flag held proudly over their head. 

This time, however, the event was running late. Watch as an organizer tries in vain to stop Laura from taking her lap. Laura persists, and scoots around the organizer's absurd attempt to steal her thunder. 

This is a metaphor, people. Take your damn victory laps, whenever they're earned. If you don't toot your own, nobody's going to do it for you. 

8. Quote of the Week

Chuck Palahniuk is a dark guy- this is an understatement. But his books resonate with a stark honesty that makes him one of my generation's most beloved authors. 

Earlier this week, my beautiful wife was reading Lullaby, one of his national bestsellers. It was an old copy of mine, and so she discovered my habit for underlining passages ad nauseam (sorry, babe.) This week's quote of the week is one I had drawn a thick blue box around years ago:

"Experts in ancient Greek culture say that people back then didn't see their thoughts as belonging to them.

When ancient Greeks had a thought, it occurred to them as a god or goddess giving them an order. Apollo was telling them to be brave. Athena was telling them to fall in love. 

Now people hear  commercial for sour cream potato chips and rush out to buy, but now they call this free will.

At least the ancient Greeks were being honest."  

Always a cynic, that Chuck.

Thanks for reading. Head to the web version to leave a comment.





#24: What Happens When Two Women Lead a Tech Co, When Being Calm is Revolutionary, The Five Why's

And today, I am just feeling like each of us should channel Chris Farley at least once in a while.

In this edition (#24!) of the World's Best Newsletter:

1. Pitch the Promised Land: Designing Your Company Story
2. What Happens when Two Women Lead a Tech Company
3. Speaking of IWD - the Women's Leadership Forum is Next Week, March 16
4. How to Get a Shoutout in a Marketo Live Video
5. CMO, time to be BFF with the CFO
6. Marketing Tech in the Hub, March 14
7. The Five Why’s
8.  Quote of the week… to be calm is a revolutionary act. 

1. Pitch the Promised Land: Designing Your Company Story

One theme that has come up frequently in my work with clients is how best to articulate “the story.” How to describe not only what you do but WHY anyone should care about it.

When people ask “what do you guys do?” they’re really asking, “what change do you want to bring to my world.”

Read more in OpenView’s excellent article.

2. What Happens when Two Women Lead a Tech Company

OK that's not the headline for this press release but I really wish it could have been. 

I'm really amped about the chance to work with Allocadia founders Kristine Steuart and Katherine Berry, who set a fantastic example for the tech industry related to equality. This week, for International Women's Day, we shared some impressive stats:

  • A 46% female workforce
  • 39% of which holds technical roles
  • more than 50%+ female board
  • 33% female leadership team
  • 43% female managers throughout the business.

The company puts real, tangible initiatives in place to foster a culture of equality (detailed within this release) and the results are clear.  Uber, Tesla, and every other company in the news for the wrong reasons this week... pay attention.

3. Speaking of IWD: Join me at the Women's Leadership Forum

I’ll be attending the Women’s Leadership Forum by HerStory and the Ad Club here in Boston. The event is Thursday, March 16th at the Seaport World Trade Center. If you're in town, join us! 

BONUS: Why Don’t We Have an International Mens Day? 

4. How to get a shoutout in a Marketo live video

A. Know the illustrious Hally Pinaud, product marketing boss lady at Marketo (not her title)
B. Do noteworthy research on buyer personas 
C. Send Elvis Impersonator to Marketo’s offices for her birthday

Watch the video here, shoutout at minute 19. Thanks Hally! I'm all shook up.

5. CMO, time to be BFF with the CFO

My smart friend and client Sam Melnick has a great byline in on the importance of aligning marketing expectations with the CFO

"The CFO could be a highly influential ally for a marketer, one who could provide more power, flexibility, and a stronger voice within an organization’s leadership team."

Go on, buy them chocolates or something. It’s time to become their new BFF. 

6. Marketing Tech in the Hub (March 14 event)

Another awesome Boston event next week hosted by Sam and a cohort of fabulous people is Tuesday, March 14 at 6:00pm at WeWork South Station. Come hang out.

7. The Five Why’s

Anecdotally, asking why five times can help to get to a root cause of a problem. 

Or annoy someone incessantly. 

I found myself using this method this week as clients bring problems to the surface, to get to the root cause of what’s happening. 

Why? - The battery is dead. (First why)
Why? - The alternator is not functioning. (Second why)
Why? - The alternator belt has broken. (Third why)
Why? - The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced. (Fourth why)
Why? - The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule. (Fifth why, a root cause)

The technique has seen widespread use within Toyota, and now Kaizen, lean manufacturing, and Six Sigma. Love this kind of stuff and would be welcome your suggestions for any methodology or tricks you use in these situations. 

8. Quote of the week… to be calm is a revolutionary act.

“The world is increasingly designed to depress us. Happiness isn’t very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more?

How do you sell an anti-aging moisturizer? You make someone worry about aging. How do you get people to vote for a political party? You make them worry about immigration. How do you get them to buy insurance? By making them worry about everything. How do you get them to have plastic surgery? By highlighting their physical flaws. How do you get them to watch a TV show? By making them worry about missing out. How do you get them to buy a new smartphone? By making them feel like they are being left behind.

To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act. To be happy with your own non-upgraded existence. To be comfortable with our messy, human selves, would not be good for business.” 

-Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

I know, that's really something coming from a marketer. What can I say, I have my scruples. 

Have a fantastic weekend,

PS: Share this newsletter with your followers on Twitter, won't you?




#23 When to start a company, "I made that b*tch famous," the importance of high potential hires...

Tomorrow is Monday, people. Let's all start the week like Gaga:


In edition #23 of the World's Best Newsletter:

1. When to Start a Company
2. The Importance of "High-Potential" Hires
3. Marketers: Dust Off Those Personas and Use Them
4. Because I'm a Girl
5. The MVP is Dead. Long Live the RAT.
6. What Makes This one of TEDs Most Popular Talks?
7. "I Made That B*tch Famous"
8. Gloria Steinem: Women Have 'Chick Flicks.' What About Men?
9. Quote of the Week

Want to comment? Visit the web version. 

Here we go!

1. When to Start a Company 

Read my latest on LinkedIn, in which I share my Carrie Bradshaw moment during a Female Founders night at Venture Cafe last week.

"Throughout the evening I couldn’t help but wonder…. when should you start a company?" 

2. The Importance of "High-Potential" Hires

Julie Weill Persofsky explains - you need to find "high potentials" in the early days of a business. Compared to co-founder types, and junior aspirationals (both of which are important) these hires,

"are on the lower end of salary expectations, believe in the cause, and work their asses off. They are self motivated, require minimal direction, and want to learn. What drives them is the massive potential in career growth, and you’ve got to help them nurture that. They are team players and potential captains."

3. Marketers: Dust Off Those Personas and Use Them

I was interviewed for CMSWire about the B2B Buyer Persona study we conducted at Cintell. 

One reasons personas often fail to gain traction outside of Marketing is that they're not treated as a collaborative effort, but rather a marketing mandate. “Often times the marketing team will publish personas because, after all, it's their job to do so. But without first gaining some buy-in from other teams (who operate under their own understanding of the buyer), including executives, and sales teams there's understandable scrutiny of the final product.” 

4. Because I'm a Girl

Hubspot's Katie Burke eloquently shares a rebuttal to the moronic (but all-too-prevalent) haters who respond to promotions like her recent boost to Chief People Officer with "everyone knows you got the position because you're a girl." 

She also explains that every woman who works in tech (.... every woman on Earth) hears "because you're a girl" dozens if not thousands of times in her life, starting from a young age. It's a well-written piece from someone whose success is well-deserved. 

5. The MVP is Dead. Long Live the RAT.

Why you should focus on Riskiest Assumption Tests and forget about MVPs. 

"MVP is used so much it’s lost its original meaning. It’s often mistakenly applied to the first release of a rudimentary product. As a result, the “MVP” ends up much more complex than the quick test it was supposed to be and far too shoddy for a released product."

6. What Makes This one of TEDs Most Popular Talks?

The TEDxSomerville talk I did a while ago remains one of the scariest things I've ever done. But, to prepare, I watched dozens (ok hundreds) of TED videos. You can learn a lot from these compelling, engaging presentations. If you've got a talk coming up, read this piece, which breaks down why one of last year's most popular TED talks was so successful, including time management, early reveal of the premise, judicious use of slides, clear language, personal touches, and natural gesturing. 

7. "I Made That B*tch Famous"

Happy women's month. Here's a brief history of men taking credit for women's accomplishments, including:

  • cave paintings
  • Frankenstein
  • The first software
  • Monopoly
  • Nuclear fission
  • The song "Hound Dog"

8. Gloria Steinem: Women Have 'Chick Flicks.' What About Men?

"Adjectives are mostly required of the less powerful. Thus, there are 'novelists' and 'female novelists,' 'African-American doctors' but not 'European- American doctors,' 'gay soldiers' but not 'heterosexual soldiers,' 'transgender activists' but not 'cisgender activists.' As has been true forever, the person with the power takes the noun — and the norm — while the less powerful requires an adjective...Bias is, as always, unfair to everyone."

9. Quote of the week - in honor of International Women's Day on Wednesday March 8th.

"Feminism isn't about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It's about changing the way the world perceives that strength." - G.D. Anderson

Thanks, as always for reading. Click here to share this newsletter with your Twitter followers - or click here to share it on LinkedIn. 

Have a fantastic week,



#22 Birthday edition! The Myth of the Entrepreneur, What Young Women May Not Know, Are You Human?

It's my birthday! (And that of my twin sister - HBD, Julie!)

It is truly a gift to me that you are opening this silly newsletter. The list continues to grow week after week. Welcome to all my new subscribers, including MY MOM! HI MOM! 

It's my birthday! (And that of my twin sister's - HBD, Julie!)

It is truly a gift to me that you are opening this silly newsletter. The list continues to grow week after week. Welcome to all my new subscribers, including MY MOM! HI MOM! 

This is edition number 22, and in this edition of the World's Best Newsletter:

1. What B2B Marketers Need to Understand About the Power of Relevance in a World of More
2. The Myth of the Entrepreneur
3. What young women may not know
4. Are you human? 
5. The Sad Truth About Milo Yiannopoulos
6. Why Facts Don't Change Our Minds
7. No Happy Ears
8. Quote of the Week: Lauren Landry

Let's get into it:

1. What B2B Marketers Need to Understand About the Power of Relevance in a World of More

I'm very fortunate to be with a wonderful partner who just gets me. I know, because the birthday gifts she gives are always thoughtful, creative and spot on. 

In my guest post this week for Evergage, I relate the feeling of getting a really perfect gift to great marketing. Both require someone to know a lot about the other person. It's relevant. And it's this sense of relevance that makes it special. 

2. The Myth of the Entrepreneur

In this excellent piece, Janessa Lantz tells the real story of what drives innovation. It's not the lone entrepreneur creating innovation (as charming as those stories may seem). It's funded academic research, entrepreneurial education, and a shift in VC funding. 

Today, VCs invest $63 Billion in startups, the majority in late-stage internet companies. If we follow this model, Steve Blank says, 

"We risk running out of new technology — 5 years, maybe 10 — then we’re buying from China. The next layer of innovation comes from basic research.”

Janessa implores us to continue to provide STEM PhDs with funding to conduct research. 

It has "long been the unsung secret to the United State’s innovation edge. It might not be as exciting as the entrepreneur myth, it certainly doesn’t grab as many TechCrunch headlines, but it’s the real story of how we got to where we are today. And it’s a story that will shape how we invest in our future." 

3. What young women may not know

"Many people are not aware that a select group of white men, a board of education in Texas, has been charged with the job of editing all of the history textbooks for decades. Their editing is final. That is the reason you probably didn’t know..."

Read the STORY of the real fights for women's rights in our not-so-distant past that lend important context to today's narratives. Then, go send it to everyone you know who is "completed satisfied with life" and does not understand why we need to be discussing such things in 2017. 

4. Are you human? 

Have you ever wondered: Am I a human being? Ze Frank suggests a series of simple questions that will determine this. Please relax and follow the prompts. Let's begin … (4:25 video)

5. The Sad Truth About Milo Yiannopoulos

He is an attention-seeking provocateur. He is the most boring person on the planet. He should have never been given an iota of opportunity to SPEAK ON BEHALF OF anyone: he does not represent conservatives, he does not represent the gay community. He represents the worst of human nature. Shame on anyone who fell into his trap of media-manipulation. (Read Ryan Holiday's writing for a playbook.) Enough.

6. Why Facts Don't Change Our Minds

New discoveries about the human mind show the limitations of reason. Facts don't persuade like we think they ought to. 

7. No Happy Ears

On the other extreme, a lack of the truth does not help when facing tough choices. Actually, facts are necessary when making difficult decisions.

Quoting friend and colleague Denice Sakakeeny "optimism is not a proxy for facts. Facts pretty much always help make difficult decisions easier." 

8. Quote of the Week: Lauren Landry

Lauren Landry is a friend, a writer, a teacher, and a whip-smart ball of intelligence and optimism. I had to share her recent Facebook update:

"Think of the last time you were truly excited about something or someone. Maybe it was a project that motivated you, and you couldn't fall sleep until it was finished. Or maybe it was a person who made your stomach flip; whenever you were with him or her, you didn't want the night to end.

If you don't feel that same level of excitement, that passion, ask yourself if you're settling. If you're forcing something. If you're making decisions out of comfort rather than love. Just some food for thought."

Want to comment on this newsletter? Do so here, on my website.

Want to tell the world about this newsletter? Click here to post to Twitter (it's a pre-filled Tweet that includes OTTERS.)

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!


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#21: The mayo sandwich trap, flexibility stigma, the President is lying, and the disease of more

Good morning! 

Thanks to a suggestion by loyal reader Doug Fox, you can now comment on each edition of this newsletter by visiting my website. I know, two-way communications... eek.

See today's edition here.

The link will henceforth and forevermore be available at the start and end of each newsletter. I imagine Doug's face right now looking something like this:

On to edition #21 of the World's Best Newsletter:

1. What I love most about my job - (and what it says about us) 
2. The agency of the future
3. The Disease of More
4. 5 Things Every Left-Brain Marketer Should Consider Before Accepting a Job Offer
5. Positioned Like a Mayo Sandwich? Blame the “Why” 
6. The Flexibility Stigma: How a Weekly Meeting on Monday Nights Can Shut Off your Access to Top Talent
7. Why Nobody Cares the President is Lying
8. Quote of the week


1. What I love most about my job - (and what it says about us) 

For Valentines Day, LinkedIn reached out and asked what I loved about my job, along with 9 other marketers.

If you read the full article… you realize each of us loves a similar aspect of the job: there’s never a dull moment, there’s always something new, there’s a beautiful variety.

But I can’t help but feel that this mini-experiment in uncovering what we all love about what we do instead revealed an ugly truth about the profession: it’s unpredictable and discombobulated, and very hard to describe without sounding frivolous.

But, alas, it’s what we do. And it does matter. And we do love it.

2. The agency of the future

I really like this take by marketing freelancer Matt Kendall. He articulates the journey I’m on, and many in my network are on - assembling teams like Ocean 11 to solve problems for clients with greater agility.

Sure, there are downsides to going with a group of freelancers over an agency with different skill sets and expertise in-house, but for many companies, like my clients, it can be the right fit for a certain amount of time.

Matt says “It’s re-directing the promise of the digital economy away from exponential automation and corporate profits, to making it about human potential. Having it work for us, rather than us for it. To have these incredible technologies augment human autonomy rather than replace it.”

That sure makes working from home in my yoga pants sound more grandiose. 

3. The Disease of More

Ever meet those people who are constantly working to self-improve (self-help junkies) or reach the next personal milestone or just keep hustling because it’s all about the hustle, bro and they’ll be happy once they chin the next bar? 

Of course you do, we glorify them.

We give them Inc features and pat them on the back and tell them they’re inspirations. But in many ways, we're sending the wrong message.

Mark Manson says it really well in his article: “Some psychologists call this constant chasing of pleasure the “hedonic treadmill” because people who are constantly striving for a “better life” end up expending a ton of effort only to end up in the same place.”

We trick ourselves into thinking, if we just do / have a little more, we’ll be that much happier. And it’s an endless cycle that we never actually reach. Chew on that, bro.

4. 5 Things Every Left-Brain Marketer Should Consider Before Accepting a Job Offer

Congrats to my friend Mark Feldman on his new role at Building Engines.

As VP of Marketing, he looked for five things before joining the company. 

He designates them as specifically geared to left-brained individuals — but they’re five good things any marketing leader should look for. 

5. Positioned Like a Mayo Sandwich? Blame the “Why” 

We have all heard the advice made famous by Simon Sinek: “Start with why! Nobody cares what you do, they care why you do it!”

And that’s true and decent advice for marketers — to the extent that it gets people to stop using marketing as a conduit for “listing product features on every possible f*cking channel thank you”

But, like everything in life, messaging is a balancing act - one described brilliantly by aforementioned Doug Fox, branding expert. 

“I see companies all the time now that come right out and tell you why they exist without ever saying anything relevant to their audience. It's like unfiltered, dreamy mission statements without any support.”

Don’t forget the what, the how, then the why. 

He also manages to use a sandwich metaphor throughout, something that so effective it’s making me hungry.

6. The Flexibility Stigma: How a Weekly Meeting on Monday Nights Can Shut Off your Access to Top Talent 

Thank you to wonder woman herself Kristin Farwell for sharing this article with me this week. Stacey Epstein, CEO at Zinc, describes an interview for a CMO role she was jazzed about a few years ago.

Everything was great.. until she was told by the overzealous founder that management meetings were held Monday nights. With young kids, she knew this was not only not going to work. How could it? She sets aside 2 out of 24 hours every day to be with her kids (I know, how dare she, 6-8pm!?) 

But more importantly, Stacey explains brilliantly here why it’s the absolute wrong mindset for any founding team to have. 

“Especially as the workforce becomes more gender balanced, allowing time for parents to be present at home is important for moms, dads, and the future generations we’re raising.”

The takeaway is this: work/life balance matters, for both you as a founder, and for your employees. It’s a great way to build a successful company, and it’s how you attract (and keep) great talent.

7. Why Nobody Cares the President is Lying

I am baffled, daily, at the tendency for so many in our country to believe what they see on the internet. I believe the pace of media literacy has not kept up with the pace of true “fake news” (those memes, sensational headlines, and conspiracy theories that clogged the internet leading up to the election).

It’s just too easy to read a headline you agree with, click “share” and feel good about yourself. You’ve done your political discourse for the day. Pat yourself on the back. This is for both sides of the aisle. And now, we have an administration re-defining “fake news” to further complicate the mess.

Charles Sykes’s piece in the NYTimes (FAILING! SAD! FAKE NEWS - give me a break) articulates the problem:

“Discrediting independent sources of information has two major advantages for Mr. Trump: It helps insulate him from criticism and it allows him to create his own narratives, metrics and 'alternative facts.'”

He cautions media to refrain from being unduly oppositional, saying:

“We must recognize the magnitude of the challenge. If we want to restore respect for facts and break through the intellectual ghettos on both the right and left, the mainstream media will have to be aggressive without being hysterical and adversarial without being unduly oppositional.”

Personally, I think the bubbles created by social media (see red feed vs blue feed, by the FAILING AND SAD WSJ) are as much to blame as the “mainstream media.”

Every generation reads and consumes media and their facts differently. What is the right way? How do we understand the media? But… how do we trust any of them when each is driven by advertising and page views and subscriptions and clicks?

I believe a 24 hour news cycle is just unhealthy. 

We don’t need it. We can’t think critically anymore because of it - the result of which we are feeling today.

8. Quote of the week


Backstory: although there’s a general rule of “don’t read the comments” and “don’t feed the trolls” when writing on the internet, go browse through the comments to my article about the $$ behind female empowerment. Brace yourself. 

SO many angry people (mostly men but women as well) attack the very notion of female equality. The internet equivalent of “shut up and stop making up problems, I'm not affected by this and so your experience must not be valid." 

..... silent scream into my pillow ..... 

The hero image is of a woman holding a sign saying “we are better than this!” and I wish I could copy/paste that text below each of these ridiculous, short-sighted, insecure, ridiculous comments. 

O... the quote of the week:

“Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions, for safety in the streets, for child care, for social welfare, for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law. If someone asks ‘Oh I’m not a feminist’, I ask, ‘Why? What’s your problem.’”

- Dale Spender, Man Made Language

What do you think? Unleash your inner troll on my new comment-friendly version of this newsletter. 

Thanks, as always, for reading. Tell a friend? (You're gonna like this week's Tweet...)



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