December 19, 2013

5 Ways to Get Your Staff on the Same Page

5 Ways to Get Your Staff on the Same Page [This post first appeared as an article in Entrepreneur Magazine as part of a new series I’m publishing there in conjunction with my book, Startup CEO:  A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business] When a major issue arises, is everybody at your company serving the same interests? Or is one person serving the engineering team, another person serving the sales team, one board member serving the VC fund, another serving the early-stage “angels” and another serving the CEO? If that’s the case, then your team is misaligned. No individual department’s interests are as important as the company’s. To align everyone behind your company’s interests, you must first define and communicate those goals and needs. This requires five steps: Define the mission. Be clear to everyone about where you’re going and how you’re going to get there (in keeping with your values). Set annual priorities, goals, and targets. Turn the broader mission into something more concrete with prioritized goals and unambiguous success metrics. Encourage bottom-up planning. You and your executive team need to set the major strategic goals for the company, but team members should design their own path to […]


October 17, 2013

Lean In, Part II

Lean In, Part II My post about Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In a couple months ago created some great dialog internally at Return Path.  It also yielded a personal email from Sheryl the day after it went up encouraging me to continue “talking about it,” as the book says, especially as a male leader.  Along those lines, since I wrote that initial post, we’ve had a few things happen here that are relevant to comment on, so here goes. We partnered  with the National Center for Women & IT to provide training to our entire organization on unconscious bias.  We had […]


May 23, 2013

Book Not-So-Short: Not Just for Women

Book Not-So-Short:  Not Just for Women At the request of the women in our Professional Services team, I recently read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In:  Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, and while it may seem like dancing the meringue in a minefield for a male CEO to blog about it, I think it’s an important enough topic to give it a shot.  So here goes. First, given the minefield potential, let me issue a few caveats up front.  These are deep, ages old, complex, societal issues and behaviors we’re talking about here.  There is no quick answer to anything.  […]


May 3, 2013

Firsts, Still

Firsts, Still After more than 13 years in the job, I run into “firsts” less and less often these days.  But in the past week, I’ve had three of them. They’re incredibly different, and it’s awkward to write about them in the same post, but the “firsts” theme holds them together. One was incredibly tragic — one of our colleagues at Return Path died suddenly and unexpectedly.  Even though we’ve lost two other employees in the last 18 months to cancer, there was something different about this one.  While there’s no good way to die, the suddenness of Joel’s passing […]


January 24, 2013

How to Wow Your Manager

How to Wow Your Manager Last week, I talked about how to Wow your employees.  Now I am going to discuss the converse of that – How to Wow your Manager.  Why Wow your manager?  Even if you are senior leader in an organization, the Wow factor is still important. What impact does a Wow have?  It sends the signal that you are on top of things.  Symbolism is important.  It also advances the cause further and faster.  Why do you want to foster Wow moments with your team?  High performing teams have a lot of Wow going on.  If […]


November 20, 2012

Not Just About Us

Not Just About Us When we updated our values this year, we felt there were a couple critical business elements missing from this otherwise “how” series of statements.  One thing missing was our clients and users!  So we added this value to our list: Not Just About Us:  We know we’re successful when our clients are successful and our users are happy. This may be one of the most straightforward statements of all our values, so this will be a short post.  We serve lots of constituencies at Return Path.  And we always talk about how we’re a “People First” […]


November 8, 2012

Two Ears, One Mouth

Two Ears, One Mouth Brace yourself for a post full of pithy quotes from others.  I’m not sure how we missed this one when drafted our original values statements at Return Path years ago, because it’s always been central to the way we operate.  We aren’t just the world’s biggest data-driven email intelligence company – we are a data-driven organization.  So another one of our newly written Core Values is: Two Ears, One Mouth:  We ask, listen, learn, and collect data.  We engage in constructive debate to reach conclusions and move forward together. I’m not sure which of my colleagues […]


November 1, 2012

Job 1

Job 1 The first “new” post in my series of posts about Return Path’s 14 Core Values is, fittingly, Job 1:  We are all responsible for championing and extending our unique culture as a competitive advantage. The single most frequently asked question I have gotten internally over the last few years since we grew quickly from 100 employees to 350 has been some variant of “Are you worried about our ability to scale our culture as we hire in so many new people?”  This value is the answer to that question, though the short answer is “no.” I am not […]


October 26, 2012

Exciting News for Return Path

Exciting News for Return Path If you’ll indulge me in a quick moment of company self-promotion, we are so excited at Return Path to announce that we have been included in Fortune Magazine’s annual list of the Best Places to Work — we are ranked #11 in the Medium Size Company category!  Our official blog post/press release are here. This is really exciting and a testament to all 360+ of our talented team members at the company.  When we talk about one of our core values as being Job 1 — a shared responsibility for championing and extending our unique culture […]


October 25, 2012

Think Global, Act Local

Think Global, Act Local At Return Path, we have always had a commitment to community service and helping make the world around us a better place.  We ratcheted that up a lot in the last year, which is why we added the following statement in as one of our 14 Core Values: Think Global, Act Local.  We commit our time and energy to support our local communities.   We feel strongly that companies can and should make the world a better place in several different ways.  Certainly, many companies’ core businesses do that — just look at all the breakthroughs […]


October 11, 2012

Return Path Core Values, Part III

Return Path Core Values, Part III Last year, I wrote a series of 13 posts documenting and illustrating Return Path’s core values.  This year, we just went through a comprehensive all-company process of updating our values.  We didn’t change our values – you can’t do that! – but we did revise the way we present our values to ourselves and the world.  It had been four years since we wrote the original values up, and the business has evolved in many ways.  Quite frankly, the process of writing up all these blog posts for OnlyOnce last year was what led […]