Why Elon Musk’s “People as Vectors” Analogy Resonates

In his keynote at INBOUND last year, Dharmesh Shah (Hubspot’s cofounder) shared a personal story of meeting Elon Musk and their short but powerful conversation about aligning people on a team as you would vectors in an equation. Unlike many folks in the startup world, I’m not a die-hard Musk fan. I appreciate his creativity and accomplishments, but also find…

Making Agency Numbers More Transparent

Benchmarks are an incredible tool for business owners and operators. They tell us where we sit on the spectrum and make our strengths and weaknesses transparent. Without them, we’re often left to wonder – am I any good at this? (Kitchen pie chart via Jotun Türkiye) Here’s a conversation I recently had with the founder of a marketing agency: Founder:…

What Can SEOs Do That No Other Marketer Can?

I recently read an article by George Nielsen on SEJournal entitled What are SEOs Even Good At Anymore? It struck me that this is a topic about which many folks in and around web marketing professions are curious about. With some of the recent changes Google’s made around link building practices, brand biasing, and intent matching. And, since my opinions…

Why “Checking the Boxes” Doesn’t Work for Hiring or Promoting

As founders, managers, and interviewers, we’ve all been tempted. The person we’re seeking for this position needs to be X, Y, and Z. We’ve already got someone on the team who checks those boxes. Let’s do the easy thing and promote from within. It looks good to the team because we’re showing that there’s a growth path, and it lets…

The T-Shaped Web Marketer

There’s been a good amount of talk on the web about the “T-Shaped” marketer becoming a model for the future. Several articles will go into more depth than I can, but I did want to share my thoughts on the topic and an illustration I made for a recent presentation.…

If Management is the Only Way Up, We’re All F’d

Geraldine used to love her job at Cranium (the board game startup in Seattle, prior to the Hasbro acquisition & layoffs). She wrote questions for the board games, and copy for the boxes and marketing materials. She was good at it. But, something weird happened – they tried to promote her. I remember her coming home at night and fretting…

What Company Culture IS and IS NOT

Frustrated. Disturbed. Disappointed. That’s how I feel after reading a recent article that appeared in Bloomberg Businessweek called “Job Applicants’ Cultural Fit Can Trump Qualifications.” I don’t typically like to rant against stuff on the web, but I’m worried this is a case where the popularity of the piece (note the thousand upvotes, 600+ comments, and hyper-negativity in the Reddit…

Startups Cannot Afford to Have Indispensable Employees (and not for the reason you think)

“Become indispenable to your employer.” That’s the advice I see from job training and professional coaches all the time. And I can empathize with why it exists. Many employers are not supporters of their teams, and treat human resources as, well, resources that just happen to be human. That fleshy cognition thus imbues them with all sorts of problematic and…

Why Every Company Should Have a Marketing-Focused Webdev Team

Ask any marketing consultant focused on inbound channels (SEO, social media, conversion rate optimization, email, etc.) what the most challenging part of their job is and 75%+ will say: “working with the engineering team.” This should come as no surprise. Engineering and webdev resources are, along with web marketers, the biggest scarcest and hardest to hire for web-based businesses. We…