Jul 292008

Book Short: On Employee Engagement

Book Short:  On Employee Engagement

The first time I ever heard the term “Employee Engagement” was from my colleague David Sieh, one of the better managers I’ve ever worked with.  He said it was his objective for his engineering team.  He explained how he tried to achieve it.  I Quit, But forgot to Tell You, by Terri Kabachnick, is a whole book on this topic, a very short but very potent one (the best kind of business books, if you ask me).

It’s got all the short-form stuff you’d expect…a checklist of reasons for disengagement, an engagement quiz, the lifecycle of an employee that leads to disengagement, rules for dealing as a manager.

But beyond the practical, the book serves as a good reminder that employee engagement is the key to a successful organization, no matter what industry you’re in.  All managers at Return Path — this is on the way to your desk soon!

Jul 272008

Most scenic airport. Ever.

Most scenic airport.  Ever.

Most scenic airport.  Ever.

If all business travel started or ended like this (Jackson Hole), the world would be a happier place, I’m certain.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Jul 262008

Why Do People Behave Like Jackasses Online?

Why Do People Behave Like Jackasses Online?

I won’t disclose the name of the person who did this, but here’s the chain of events:

  • Person registers for our Postmaster Direct service to receive targeted offers via email.  This is a closed-loop, double opt-in registration process (so the person had to register and then click on a confirmation email)
  • Person receives a handful of relevant, targeted offers from us
  • Person finds my name on our corporate web site and messages my wife on Facebook to tell her that her husband is a dirty spammer who needs to learn a lesson, and would she please make him and his company behave?
  • Person finds my blog and comments on it saying “don’t give return path any email addresses, they spam the crap out of you. I’ve already filed a complaint with the BBB. If this doesn’t work, I’ll have to use some unorthodox means of getting their attention.”  As if said person hadn’t already used unorthodox means of getting my attention
  • Person finds a few other blogs on which I am mentioned, and posts similar negative personal comments
  • I politely email Person back, asking him if he had tried to unsubscribe (which works) or contact our customer service email (which is manned and emptied out daily) or email me directly if he felt so inclined to remove himself from our database, remind him that we are double opt-in, and somewhat less gently tell him I thought he was out of bounds for messaging my wife on Facebook
  • Person emails back, much softer tone, says he never tried to unsubscribe because he’s never had success doing that in the past
  • I email back, ask for all his email addresses so I can add him to our suppression list
  • He emails back, tells me that he doesn’t want to stop getting our emails, he just wants them at his Hotmail account instead of his work (.gov) account

Perhaps sometimes the anonymity of a keyboard isn’t a good thing.

Filed under: Technology, Weblogs

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Jul 192008

Book Short: Stick Figures That Matter

Book Short: Stick Figures That Matter

I have read a bunch of books lately to try to improve my presentation skills. The latest one, The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures, by Dan Roam, was good, and quite different from some of the others I’ve read recently like Presentation Zen and Beyond Bullet Points, both of which are much more focused on effective use of Powerpoint.

The Back of the Napkin takes a different approach. The focus is much more on creating compelling visuals. It’s not about Powerpoint so much as it is about teaching how to crystallize concepts into tight and compelling schematics. Roam creates two pretty good frameworks for thinking about this: one that breaks down the message of a given slide into its most simple element — are you describing a who (use a portrait), what (chart), when (timeline), where (map), why (plot), or how (flowchart)? And a second that takes that element and asks five questions about the best way to convey the information — simple vs. elaborate, quality vs. quantity, vision vs. execution, individual vs. comparison, or change state vs. as-is.

Both frameworks are good, and if you’re already doing really good presentations, this will help improve them. In short, I’d say The Back of the Napkin is a good read if you’re obsessed with creating compelling visuals, but it’s more of a deeper drill than the two books I noted above. I’d read and master the material from Presentation Zen for 101, then dive into this topic for the 201 course.

Jul 142008

Pendulum Swinging Back?

Pendulum Swinging Back?

The TechCrunch news du jour is that Jason Calacanis has stopped blogging and is instead using email to communicate with his circle. 

It’s interesting to note that after months (years?) of “email is dead” stories specifically around blogging, RSS feeds, and social media in general, the pendulum seems to be swinging back to email.  You should read Jason’s words yourself, but his notes are mainly that there’s too much noise and self-promotion in the blogosphere, while email promotes intimacy and efficiency.

Not surprisingly, TechCrunch is a doubter, but we’ll have to see.

Filed under: Email, Technology

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Jul 072008

Learn Word of Mouth Marketing

Learn Word of Mouth Marketing

Our friend, former RP colleague, and WOM guru Andy Sernovitz is hosting a small-group word of mouth marketing seminar. Usually he only does private training for companies at a very large price, so this is a rare chance for 50 people to get the best introduction to word of mouth that there is.  I blogged about his book a while back here.

We’ve arranged for a $250 discount for our clients. Use code “welovereturnpath” when you register (kind of catchy code, isn’t it?).

This is a very practical, hands-on course. In one intense day, you will:

  • Master the five steps of word      of mouth marketing
  • Construct an action plan that      your company can start using the very next day
  • Get the same training that      big corporations (Microsoft, TiVo, eBay) have received — for a fraction      of what they paid
  • Know how to translate word of      mouth marketing into real ROI
  • Participate in an active,      intense day of practical brainstorming (not boring theory)
  • Learn from Andy Sernovitz,      the guy who literally wrote the book on word of mouth marketing

Andy promises you will learn a repeatable, proven marketing framework that is easy to execute, affordable, and provides measurable results within 60 days.

More information: http://events.gaspedal.com

Chicago: July 30 and September 4

Pass it on: http://events.gaspedal.com/banners

Filed under: Conferences, Email, Marketing

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