The Uptake

by Brad McCarty

Lessons learned, words written

Page 2


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:

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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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So long TNW, hello FullContact.

There are times in life when you truly learn the meaning of the word bittersweet. Today is one of those times for me. After 3 years at The Next Web, it’s time to move on to the next set of challenges. I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I will be joining FullContact effective August 1st. While we haven’t figured out a title yet, I’ll be focused on helping FullContact grow its marketing efforts.

I joined TNW as a part-time news writer while I was looking for a new job as a nurse. Little did I know that a short time later I would completely change career paths. Over the course of my time with the company, I came to know TNW as family. There have been countless times that Zee, Patrick and many others have gone above and beyond any reasonable expectations in order to help me fix personal problems, drive the growth of the site and to build something from nothing. As I sit here...

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The Dance

There are a few terms that I use to describe myself. The primary term is “problem solver”, but a close second is “observer”. It’s not just people-watching, but rather I’m a professional overhearer. That’s my word. You can use it if you want to. Some people would call it eavesdropping.

All too often I hear people talking about failure in their sales funnel. Almost without fail, they talk about each group as a separate entity. The problem? They’ve neglected the biggest part of their job - The dance.

There comes a point in your sales flow where every part of the team needs to work together, in a harmonious dance, in order to be successful. There is a constant flow of information that needs to be readily available, and it’s imperative that you have someone (or a number of someones) on the staff who can take that information and turn it into usable data.

Is your social team tracking...

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Rethinking Content: Email Marketing

I have a lot of thoughts about content, especially as it relates to content marketing and businesses as publishers. I tweet about this a lot, and I’ve even done some speaking on the subject, but I thought it was about time to write down some of these thoughts into a more coherent form.

First up, email.

If you were to go to your local mom & pop store, order something, have it delivered to your home and then wake up to their billboard in your yard the next day, how happy would you be?

Yet that’s exactly how we treat people when they provide us with their email address. That email address is, for most people, as close as they’ll come to providing us with a direct line of communication via the Internet. It’s every bit as real today as someone’s home address was 10 years ago.

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I did an informal survey of my Twitter followers. Of those who responded, 98 percent of them stated that...

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The Freedom in Letting Go

It’s 1am on a Friday morning. For the first time in longer than I care to remember, I am not afraid.

After losing my job a couple of years ago, I have spent every day since living in fear of being in that position again. But this past week, after talking to a few people and realizing that I have built up a marketable set of skills, I’m not afraid anymore.

What has happened because of that lack of fear is extraordinary. I have been able to tackle bigger problems, I’ve found true annoyances and figured out how to deal with them and I’ve been able to enact things that I know to be good sense in business.

Decisions by committee? Out. I was hired to do a job because people had faith that I would do it well so I’m exercising that autonomy.

Quiet reverence? Goodbye. I have a reputation. Be it good or bad, it is my own and I will own it in turn.

Humility related to product? Nope. We have...

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Stupid Things Startups Do: Bad PR

The series continues! Today let’s talk about something that is potentially draining your finances while providing less ROI than any other purchase.

That’s right kids, we’re talking about outsourced PR!

Let’s set the record straight - There is a huge difference between good public relations and bad public relations. Good PR people (and companies) know that you need help defining and refining your brand’s message. They know how to get that perfected message in front of the right people.

But most of them suck. And you’re paying them a lot of money. And they’re providing you with negligible results. And you still keep doing it…

Almost without fail, you will get a better ROI by hiring a brand manager in house. But here’s the conundrum – they need to not drink your company Kool-Aid. They need to stay as objective as possible at all times, in order to help you reach the world with a message...

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