The Uptake

by Brad McCarty

Lessons learned, words written

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Ad Blocking and the Who US?? Mentality

Having worked on the media side of the house for a good part of my adult life, I’ve watched the ad blocking debate quite closely. I used to make money off ads, so I know the feelings that are going on in the heads of the people who are now trying to equate ad blocking with stealing.

But the issue has far more facets than what most people have covered, and so it’s worth diving in a bit.

Back in my TNW days, I handled the ad partnership between Federated Media and our site. Every week, almost without fail, there was an ad or a campaign to which I had to say no. It wasn’t FM’s fault. They were just trying to do what was best for their company, as one might suspect. But often times what’s best for their immediate bottom line falls directly against the path of what’s best for a site’s readers.

It’s just business. Advertisers, more often than not, want the most obtrusive thing that they...

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I’ve Joined Eligible

I don’t remember how I first met Katelyn Gleason, but I definitely remember our conversation. I was working at The Next Web and Katelyn had built this application called Eligible. It helped people navigate the murky waters of insurance coverage. I remember thinking at the time that, based on my experience in healthcare, an API form of Eligible would be amazing.

Then they built it. And it is amazing.

Fast forward a few years. I’ve stayed in touch with Katelyn, chatting back and forth about building businesses, the healthcare industry and other random topics. I’ve seen her take Eligible through Y Combinator, watched as the business grew and all along my admiration of Eligible and its CEO grew.

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Over the past few weeks, Kat and I talked a couple of times about me doing some freelance work for the company. But in one of the conversations she made an off-hand comment that she’d...

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The Crucifixion of WeWork

As I sat down to lunch today I saw the story break about WeWork, the co-working (and soon, potentially co-living) startup based in NYC. The gist of the story, as BuzzFeed would have you believe, is that the people who have been cleaning the WeWork offices were fired, quite conveniently after there was a request from the workers to be given raises up to union wage standards.

Seems an innocent enough request, no? So why the firing? The problem, unfortunately, is that we don’t know.

BuzzFeed would have you believe that WeWork is turning its back on underpaid immigrant workers, even as the company raises funding at a $10 billion valuation. But the weak links of the story are buried deep in the text:

They are employed by a contractor, Commercial Building Maintenance (CBM), which pays cleaners as little as $10 an hour, less than half the standard wage for the majority of New York City’s...

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“But what do I know?”

My step-mother is a wise woman. Over on Facebook, she admonished two groups of people for their bigoted stances over yesterday’s Supreme Court decision. She took a moderate stance, expressing distaste for how far removed these groups are from what most of us would consider to be “normal folks”.

She ended her post with a question that many of us have asked, albeit rhetorically. “But what do I know…”

I started to type this long answer out on Facebook, but I think it’s better served here. I am not ashamed of my point of view, and I want to share it to whomever would like to read the words.

So Tiff, here’s what you know:

What you know is what far too few people care to understand.

You know that he greatest things in life happen because two sides agree to meet in the middle. Democrats no longer look like Democrats. Republicans no longer look like Republicans. The religious right and the...

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Nashville Tech and the Fool’s Errand

I’ll see another article every few days. They’ll talk about Nashville’s burgeoning tech community. They’ll talk about the potential that the city holds. Most recently, Eventbrite’s Kevin Hartz told a crowd that Nashville’s culture “does feel like Silicon Valley 10 years ago”.

Look y'all, no matter how much you want to stare at your own belly button, that ain’t a compliment.

Four years ago I wrote a piece for The Next Web about why there weren’t 20 Nashville startups that you needed to know about. The reasons were pretty clear:

  • Nashville needed more Angel and low-level VC money
  • The mid-south risk-averse culture had to shift
  • It needed a “hit” liquidity event

Over the past few years I’ve seen an increase in risk, an increase in money and a sizable exit all happen, yet Nashville still seems to be stuck revving its engine.

So where did I go wrong? What point did I miss?

I missed the...

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I #BlameDrewsCancer for Telling Me I’m Fat


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


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 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’...

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“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...

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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....

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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...

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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...

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