The Uptake

by Brad McCarty

Lessons learned, words written

Read this first

I #BlameDrewsCancer for Telling Me I’m Fat

april-conyers-drew-olanoff.jpg

The guy on the left there? That’s my friend Drew. He has cancer.

Again.

And when I say friend, I don’t mean “we’re friends on Facebook”. We are, but he’s also a real friend. I miss talking to him when we don’t chat for a while, I want to know what’s up in his life, etc. We’re friends. In the very literal sense of the word.

Drew is helping to raise awareness for BeTheMatch.com and hoping that he can maybe find a donor for his own cure in the process. But I know Drew, and even if he didn’t find a donor, if he got 1 more person to sign up to be a donor, he’d be happy.

So I went, and I signed up. I entered all of the information and got myself ready to order a kit to be screened.

Then BAM! I got told by a website that I was too fat to be a bone marrow donor.

I’m too fat to help save my friend’s life.

What a kick in the junk that was.

I’ve always had problems with my weight, but I’...

Continue reading →


“Why don’t you work for a Nashville company?”

Here’s a question that I get pretty often, so I figured that I’d finally address it in a blog post instead of having to rehash the answer in emails and chat messages time and again.

For those who don’t know, I live just south of Nashville. About 25 minutes south if traffic is good. 60 plus minutes south if I happen to be commuting during rush hour. Nashville’s infrastructure is terrible for commuters. Interstates 65, 24 and 40 are jam packed parking lots every morning and evening. If you commute, you’re stuck in it.

That’s reason #1. Of the companies that have talked to me, since I started working in tech almost 5 years ago, every single one of them has required that I would work from their office. Every one of them, without fail, has required a Monday through Friday, minimum 9-5, with zero flexibility and every day in the office. For me, in the day and age in which we live, that’s...

Continue reading →


Yes, Virginia

I’m pretty sure that I had heard the story of “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Clause” before last night. But coming home from the candlelight service at our church, Candace read it to me because I couldn’t remember it.

Maybe this post would have been more appropriate on Thanksgiving, but today is when things really hit home. As I woke up, my lovely wife reached over and wrapped her arms around me and wished me a merry Christmas.

And in that moment, life was perfect.

Here we are, going on our 7th year together, with far more trials behind us than either of us care to remember. We have our health, we have food in our refrigerator. Our bills are paid and we even get to have some fun money sometimes.

But above all else, we have each other.

If it weren’t for the childlike belief that “we’ll be OK” when things weren’t OK, we’d never be where we are today.

We believed in Santa Clause....

Continue reading →


#RIPTwitter

Count me among the most rabid of Twitter’s fans. But today I’m worried for the future of the service that I hold dear. I’m worried because Twitter is talking about moving to an algorithmic feed. I’m worried because an algorithmic feed is the antithesis of the very thing that makes Twitter great.

Six years ago, I met a woman on Twitter because of its search function. I later went on to marry her. To say that Twitter holds a special place in my heart is a pretty big understatement. Improving that search function is a wonderful idea. I understand the need and desire for surfacing important content as it relates to a search.

But the beauty of Twitter as it exists today is that it allows each of us to curate exactly what we want to see. By taking that choice away from us and injecting what it deems relevant, the core of Twitter’s value to me (and many others, from what I am reading) would...

Continue reading →


Your Marketing Team Has a Customer Service Problem

First off, apologies for the radio silence for a few months. Turns out that this whole “I have a job to do” thing takes up a lot of time.

There are a lot of traditional benchmarks for great marketers. The impact that a marketing department can have on a company is positively huge. But I think that many organizations are ignoring a bigger piece of the puzzle. They’re hiring marketers who don’t have a passion for customer service and that’s killing their brand.

Marketers are tasked with walking this line between being the voice of the company and simultaneously trying to think like the customer. It’s not an easy balance to keep. It’s far more simple to take one side or the other, but allowing that to happen is a potentially fatal flaw for the business.

People with a passion for customer service exhibit incredible amounts of empathy. They know how a customer will feel and they craft...

Continue reading →


This One Weird Trick Will Make You Infinitely More Productive

Totally not sorry for the title. I’ve waited for ages to be able to write one of those.

As I’m writing this, it’s 5am on a Monday. I woke up a few minutes ago because I was too excited to sleep. What could possibly cause that to happen on a Monday? I get to go back to work today.

I just came off of a 10 day paid PAID vacation, completely off the grid, and I can’t remember a time in my working life when I’ve ever felt better.

In the middle of winter, I took my family to Florida, we wore shorts and t-shirts for my kids’ first visit to Disney World. We ate incredible food, rode a crapload of rides and got soaked in a serious rainstorm.

And the Internet didn’t burn down.

photo.JPG

Everybody talks about unplugging, and that’s important. But what’s perhaps more important is to first have a system in place that allows for it to happen. At FullContact we’re growing really fast and that means that we...

Continue reading →


How to Find a Product Evangelist - Step 1

Since transitioning into the startup world a few months ago, I’ve come to find the role of the evangelist to be increasingly important. But the question that I’m often asked is how you go about finding and hiring the right person to be an evangelist for your product.

Turns out, it’s a really simple process - Build something great.

No, the process of building something great isn’t simple, but I’m not referring to that part. I’m talking about the fact that when you do accomplish that task, your users will love what you’ve made and they’ll want to tell others about it.

This process of evangelism seems to be a somewhat innate thing within people. We like to be the ones that others rely on for answers. So when we’re early to discover something great, we sometimes go out of our way to let others know.

I had hear this argument before, but I never really believed it until I found myself...

Continue reading →


No Room for Excuses

I had my first quarterly review a few weeks ago. Things didn’t go very well. Though I had exceeded a few of the goals that we set up when I started, there was one key area in which I had undoubtedly failed. That failure led to a stern discussion with my VP of Biz Dev (my direct boss) and the CEO (his boss).

The short story? I was probably really close to getting fired, and so I started searching for things to blame. I was grasping for excuses.

One of our core culture points at FullContact is that “we communicate with candor”. Bart was very forthright with what he needed to tell me. He believed that we could meet the goals that we had set, he was aware that there were roadblocks, and he was willing to help in whatever way possible to remove them. I just had to “do more faster”.

In the spirit of candor, I’ll say this now - Being told to do more faster initially pissed me off. I had...

Continue reading →


The Utter Failure of my Windows 8.1 Upgrade

I have a Lenovo machine that I use for heavy lifting, because my daily-driver MacBook Air just won’t cut it. With the release of Windows 8.1 I was fairly excited to see the new changes, so I clicked the Upgrade button, expecting all would go well.

Let’s compare the process between upgrading OS X and what I’ve experienced thus far for Windows 8.1, shall we?

OS X - Open App Store, click the purchase button, download, install, reboot.

Windows 8.1 - Open the marketplace, click the button, download, prepare for installation, reboot, begin installation, verify installation, hang, blue screen, reboot, hang, blue screen, reboot, revert to previous installation, reboot.

Attempts two through eight (so far) have been largely the same, minus the necessity to re-download the file. Given that I have a laptop that is literally 3 months old, I have a hard time believing that it’s a hardware issue....

Continue reading →


Things I Wish I Knew Before Joining a Startup

As of today, it’s been one month since I joined FullContact. Shortly after I started, I explained my thought process that led me to work with the company, but nothing could have prepared me for what I’ve experienced in the 30 days that followed. With that in mind, I thought that it would be fitting to tell you about the things that I wish that I had known before I started.

Learn Flexibility

You’re likely already familiar with the fact that working for a startup means that you’ll wear a number of hats. As FullContact’s Content Director I do produce a lot of content, but I’m also one of the press contacts, the corporate communications guy, the resident copy editor and handler of other duties as needs arise.

Nothing here came as a surprise to me, as Bart, Ben and I had discussed the various roles prior to my joining. But what absolutely did come as a surprise was just how much “stuff” I...

Continue reading →