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.