The Uptake

by Brad McCarty

Lessons learned, words written

Page 2

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.


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...

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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...

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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...

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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....

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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...

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Operating from Respect

I learned something about myself about three weeks ago, and it has completely changed the way in which I approach life. I learned that almost everything that bothered me to any serious level could be attributed to a lack of respect. Since coming to this realization, I’ve never been happier or more challenged, so I hope that sharing it with you can help you in some way.

First, a little bit of background -

For most of my life, I’ve been perpetually late. If I said that I would be somewhere at a certain time, you could expect that I’d arrive no sooner than thirty minutes after I said that I would. But a few years ago, that changed. I gained a respect for the value of time, and I realized what my being late was doing to other people. This was the start of where I am today.

Two weeks ago, during an all-hands meeting at FullContact, our CEO Bart revealed what the executive team had been...

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So You Want to Work for a Startup…

When I joined TNW, I didn’t want to work for a startup. I didn’t know better, so I thought that all technology blogs were pretty much the same.

Oh the things that I would learn.

I learned that TNW was young, hungry and scrappy. I learned that some blogs sent 30 people to a press event, when we only had 7 on the entire editorial staff. I learned the meaning of bootstrap, as it relates to money. I learned to enjoy sleeping on air mattresses and eating ramen. I learned to be happy with less, and to find excitement in staying lean.

When I started talking to Bart at FullContact, I did so with a few more years of experience and understanding. I knew that there were important questions to ask, numbers to be discussed and concessions to be made.

Chances are, if you read what I write here, you’re either a founder, a startup employee or you’ve considered becoming one of these. Not that I’m...

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ABP - Always Be Pivoting

I hate the word “pivot”, in relation to the direction of companies. The fact of the matter is that it has become synonymous with “last-ditch effort” when the real story is that pivots should be a regular occurrence within a company.

As I was sitting with Bart the other day, talking about FullContact he mentioned that he had similar feelings and it made me realize that people simply have the wrong idea of the word and what it really means.

If you walked down the street every day, and every single day you tripped on the same crack, wouldn’t you move? If you went to work and did the same task each day without having any success, wouldn’t you change your tactic?

Why do we expect companies to be any different?

A pivot doesn’t have to be a complete 180 (or even 90) degree turn away from the current path. When your data finds that something is working or not working, the pivot is what you do...

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Your Job Listing Probably Sucks

I’m constantly amazed by some of the things that startups do. When you are building a company, you’re essentially breathing life into a new creation. You’re (hopefully) breaking every rule and learning as you go.

Why then would you want to abide by old methods for recruiting? Here’s a case in point that I ran across tonight on Hacker News:

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 11.26.11 PM.png

Note the problem? This isn’t a rant about education requirements (though I wrote one of those, and you can read it here). But I’m seeing two requirements in this job posting that are flat out ridiculous for anyone, much less for a startup.

“Detail oriented and results focused”. This is a job listing for a marketing director. The very method by which a director of marketing will be judged is the results of his or her work.

“Excellent communication skills”. Really? Having this statement in your job listing is like someone applying for a teaching...

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News Flash: This Makes You Sound Dumb

I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working with Hillary from Blue Microphones a few times over the past couple of years. One of the best parts about emailing with her is that she never speaks like a corporate clone.

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