Must-Read New Blog
I’ve talked about Why I Love My Board a few times in the past. I was reminded at my quarterly Board meeting and dinner this week that it’s a great and unusually strong group, and we’re lucky to have them. Fred and Brad have both been prolific bloggers for years,and I know many of you follow their blogs closely. Think of that as getting a taste of the input and wisdom you’d get by having them on your Board.
In a very exciting development, one of my independent directors, Scott Weiss, has now started blogging on the Andreessen-Horowitz platform. Scott is probably our most outspoken and colorful director (and that’s saying something). Scott just joined Andreessen-Horowitz as a partner in their fund, so he now a VC, but his experience as an operator both at Hotmail in Internet 1.0 and then at Ironport have been incredibly valuable for me as an entrepreneur, and I expect most of his posts to focus on the entrepreneur’s perspective.
Two of Scott’s first three posts, Looking Bigger and Ridiculously Transparent, are perfect examples of the value I’ve gotten out of my six year relationship with Scott as a Board member. If you want a taste of what it would be like to have him in your corner…subscribe to his blog!
Blogiversary, Part VII
Today marks the seventh anniversary of OnlyOnce. I haven’t marked the date with a post in three years, but here was my last such post (with links to prior posts in it). In sum up until now, my reasons for blogging have been written up as:
- “Thinking” (writing short posts helps me crystallize my thinking)
- “Employees” (one of our senior people once called reading OnlyOnce “getting a peek inside Matt’s head)
- My book reviews help me crystallize my takeaways from books and serve as a bit of a personal reference library
- I like writing and don’t get to do it often
After seven years, though, I’m going to add another important point of value for me for writing OnlyOnce: now, at 672 posts (including 27 that are scheduled but not yet posted – easy a record for me), this blog now serves as a repository for me of my own lessons learned, best practices, anecdotes, and aphorisms. Thanks to Lijit, it’s easy for me and others to search. Thanks to the new WordPress format and design by my friends at Slice of Lime, the categories and tagging make it much easier to navigate.
I probably get one question a week from a fellow CEO or prospective entrepreneur or employee that, instead of typing out an answer or setting up a meeting, I can actually just send a link as a starting point. Sometimes there are follow-up questions, sometimes there aren’t. But the blog is proving to be a very efficient form of documentation.
New URL for OnlyOnce
A final reminder before I shut down the old Typepad site…this blog’s new URL is http://www.onlyonceblog.com.
OnlyOnce, Part II
After more than six years, my blog starting looking like, well, a six-year old blog on an off-the-shelf template. Thanks to my friends at Slice of Lime, OnlyOnce has a new design as of today as well as some new navigation and other features like a tag cloud and Twitter feed (and a new platform, WordPress rather than Typepad). I know many people only read my posts via feed or email (those won’t change), but if you have a minute, feel free to take a look. The site also has its own URL now – http://www.onlyonceblog.com.
With my shiny new template, I may add some other features or areas of content over time, as well. There are still a couple things that are only 95% baked, but I love the new look and wanted to make if “official” today. Thanks to Kevin, Jeff, Mike, Lindsay, and everyone at Slice of Lime for their excellent design work, and for my colleague Andrea for helping do the heavy lifting of porting everything over to the new platform.
Curbing My Enthusiasm
For the first time since I started blogging over four years ago, I have recently run into several examples in a short period of time where I’d love to blog about something happening in the business, and I think it would make for a great blog posting, but I can’t do it. Why can’t I? Lots of different reasons:
- Don’t want to telegraph strategy to the competition
- Don’t want to compromise an employee (current or former)
- Worried about downstream legal ramifications
There are other reasons as well, but these are the main three. I love transparency as much as the next person (and more than most), but these scenarios have to trump transparency in my position as a CEO. Hopefully the passage of time and the release of news will mean that I can still do the blog postings, but as more of a post mortem than something in the moment.
But I hate curbing my own enthusiasm. It’s a definite frustration in this case, and a new one.
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.
Blogiversary, Part IV
Four years on, as the British would say, OnlyOnce is going strong. Cumulative stats show a steady 457 posts, about one every three days on average (same as it’s been all along), and a scant 409 non-spam comments. Maybe some day I’ll start being more edgy and provocative. Or prolific. Or Twitterific. Or something.
Looking back over my initial “how’s it going” post and the last three anniversary posts, I’d say my reasons for blogging, out of my four original ones, have consolidated now around “Thinking” (writing short posts helps me crystallize my thinking) and “Employees” (one of our senior people once called reading OnlyOnce “getting a peek inside Matt’s head). But I’d also add two new raisons d’etre to the list:
Book Reviews: it’s not that I enjoy reading my own book reviews so much as I am glad I’m compiling a list of the business books I’m reading and what I think of them. While it’s not comprehensive (I limit the blogging to business books, probably about 50% of what I read), it’s come in handy a few times to have a little online library for my own reference.
I like it: I really, really enjoy writing. I used to write all the time when I was younger. High school newspaper editor, creative writing magazine founder, and all that. I miss it. Blogging is probably the only form of prose I regularly write now. And it’s great. The reawakening and sharpening of my writing skills has even inspired me to dive into a couple creative writing exercises, short stories mostly, in the past year. So I just like doing it.
And isn’t that reason enough to do something?
Blogiversary, Part III
OnlyOnce turns three today. While year 1 was exciting and year 2 was still a build, this year has been more about maintenance. I don’t mean that in a bad way — I still enjoy writing it, but I am finding it a little tougher to make time for it (probably more a function of other things going on in life). Also, I periodically catch myself starting some post or other and realizing that I wrote it, or something much like it, sometime in the past!
I think in honor of the third blogiversary, I’ll reinvigorate today by posting three times!
To My Email Subscribers
Just a quick note to let you know that for now, I’ve switched email engines, so the updates from my blog will come to you from Feedburner instead of Feedblitz. I like Feedblitz and think that its CEO, Phil Hollows, has done a very good job with the service. My switch to Feedburner is about testing out the consolidation between RSS delivery, ad insertion, and email delivery.
So, you shouldn’t notice too much of a difference — the posts will still be emailed to you daily — but the format and "from" address will be slightly different.
All feedback is welcome.