Jul 262012

The Best Place to Work, Part 1: Surround yourself with the best and brightest

First in my series of posts around creating the best place to work  is to Surround yourself with the best and brightest.  This one is simple.  Build the best team you can possibly build…as you need it.

As a founder, you may be the best person at doing everything in your company, especially if you are a technical founder.  But as my long-time Board member at Return Path Greg Sands always says, when the organism grows, cells start to specialize.  Eventually, you need a liver and a brain.  Just like companies need a head of sales and a CFO (not to imply that Anita likes the occasional cocktail or that Jack likes math – turns out both like both).

How does this come into play as a CEO?

-Don’t be afraid to hire people better than you at their specialty – older, wiser, more experienced, more expensive

– Check references carefully – don’t get suckered in by resume or rolodex – some successful big company people don’t actually know how to do work or build a business, so you have to dig and find back-channel references

– Don’t overhire before you’re ready, but especially as a start-up, better to hire 3 months before you need the position, not 6 months too late

-Remember that you are the CEO.  Even if you hire very experienced people in specific roles, you have the best global view of everything going on in the company.  And you need to pay attention to people on your team and actively manage them, even experts who are older or wiser than you are

Surrounding yourself with the best and brightest can be daunting and even threatening to some CEOs.  But you have to do it to grow your business.  And you have to keep doing it as you keep growing your business (and your staff has to do the same!).

Jul 252012

Post on Return Path and People

Post on Return Path and People

For those readers of OnlyOnce who aren’t also readers of Fred’s AVC blog, Fred invited our SVP People, Angela, to guest post on his site this week as part of his series on HR/People.  Her post is here, and it’s a great encapsulation of a lot of what we do at Return Path from a People perspective.

Jul 192012

The Best Place to Work, Part 0

The Best Place to Work, Part 0

I keep getting questions about a deck I’ve used several times at Techstars, Seedcamp, DreamIt, and the like which is called “7 Ideas for Creating the Best Place to Work.”  So today I will launch a 7-part series over the next 7 weeks to describe my 7 points.  As always, this is not intended to be perfect or comprehensive, but it is a bit of lessons learned over the last 12-13 years at Return Path.  It’s just 7 ideas – not the only 7 ideas.  And there’s nothing magic about the number 7, despite what George Costanza says.  Or Steven Covey.

Here’s the outline:

  1. Surround yourself with the best and brightest
  2. Create an environment of trust
  3. Manage yourself very, very well
  4. Be the consummate host
  5. Be the ultimate enabler
  6. Let people be people
  7. Create a thankful atmosphere

Let’s go!  I will create a tag cloud for this series called Best Place to Work.

Jul 122012

Marketing Data: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

Marketers have blinders on when it comes to some aspects of data. We‘re so focused on using it to build relationships and businesses, that we don’t pay enough attention to data’s inherent risks. Those risks are real, though. Our brands are constantly under attack, and even trivial oversights in data handling can leave us—and our customers—unacceptably vulnerable. We need to better understand the risks. We need to know more.

If marketers don’t develop industrywide expertise in all aspects of data use, if we can’t demonstrate that we can be trusted stewards of information, we risk losing our rights to use it. The DMA is taking the lead to make sure that we, as an industry, gain the knowledge we need: It’s Institute for Data Governance and Certification  is a badly needed program that can make a real difference.

The Institute is a three-day intensive for marketers to learn how to protect their customers and their brands while using the power of data to connect with consumers—and ultimately to grow. The first course begins on July 18th in New York, with more scheduled across the country over the next year.

As many of you know, I chair the DMA’s board, so I’m not a neutral third party when I urge you to attend the Institute and get certified in marketing data governance. But if I’m biased it’s because I’m a passionate industry advocate and I believe that marketers should lead the global effort to champion intelligent, responsible data use. Before we can start, we all need to know what that means.

Please click here to learn more about how you can register for the DMA’s Institute for Data Governance and Certification.