January 3, 2012

Taking Stock

Taking Stock Every year around this time, I take a few minutes to reflect on how the business is doing, on my goals and development plans, and on what I want to accomplish in the coming year.  Although most of that work is focused on how to move the business forward, I also make sure to take stock of my own career trajectory.  I always ask myself three questions when I do this: Am I having fun at work? Am I learning and growing as a professional? Is my work financially rewarding enough, either in the short term or in the long term? Of course, I always shoot for 3 YES responses.  Then I know my career is on track.  But as long as I get 2 YESses, then I feel like I’m in good shape, and I know which one to work on in the coming year.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had a situation in the dozen years of running Return Path where I’ve had 0 or 1 YESses.  If I did, I’d probably spend more time thinking about whether I was still in the right job for me. I think these three questions can work for anyone, […]


December 20, 2011

Transparency Rules

Transparency Rules I think each and every one of our 13 core values at Return Path is important to our culture and to our success.  And I generally don’t rank them.  But if I did, People First is a leading contender to be at the top of the list. The other leading contender would be this last one in the series: We believe in being transparent and direct The big Inc. Magazine story about us last year talked a lot about our commitment to transparency and some of the challenges that come with being transparent and direct with people. I’d like […]


September 9, 2011

9/11’s 10th

9/11’s 10th I wasn’t yet writing this blog on 9/11 (no one was writing blogs yet), and if I had had one, I’m not sure what I would have written.  The neighborhood immediately surrounding the World Trade Center had been my home for more than seven years before the twin towers fell, and it continued to be my home for more than seven years after they fell.  That same neighborhood was Return Path‘s home for its first 18 months or so, across two different offices.  Like all Americans, the attack felt personal.  Like all New Yorkers, it was in our […]


May 2, 2011

Juxtaposition

Juxtaposition Once I stripped out the spam and the person:person emails from my inbox this morning, here were the five subject lines I was left with: Wall Street Journal:  Osama Bin Laden is Dead [eCommerce company]:  Final Hours to Shop Our Private Sale! Wall Street Journal:  Bin Laden Was Killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan Official Says [Travel site]:  Last minute deals from NYC and more! Wall Street Journal:  Osama Bin Laden Buried at Sea Return Path (yes, my own company):  Why Whitelisting is Important to Your Email Marketing Mix The cynic in me says “wow, nice timing on the email marketing.”  […]


April 14, 2011

BookShort: Vive La Difference

Book Short:  Vive La Difference Brain Sex, by Anne Moir and David Jessell, was a fascinating read that I finished recently.  I will caveat this post up front that the book was published in 1989, so one thing I’m not sure of is whether there’s been more recent research that contradicts any of the book’s conclusions.  I will also caveat that this is a complex topic with many different schools of thought based on varying research, and this book short should serve as a starting point for a dialog, not an end point. That said, the book was a very […]


March 10, 2011

The Beginnings of a Roadmap to Fix America’s Badly Broken Political System?

The Beginnings of a Roadmap to Fix America’s Badly Broken Political System? UPDATE:  This week’s Economist (March 17) has a great special report on the future of the state that you can download here, entitled”Taming Leviathan:  The state almost everywhere is big, inefficient and broke. It needn’t be,” which has many rich examples, from California to China, and espouses a bunch of these ideas. I usually try to keep politics away from this blog, but sometimes I can’t help myself.  I’m so disgusted with the dysfunction in Washington (and Albany…and Sacramento…and…) these days, that I’ve spent more spare cycles than […]


January 3, 2011

Macroeconomics for Startups

Macroeconomics for Startups I’m not an economist.  I don’t play one on TV.  In fact, I only took one Econ class at Princeton (taught by Ben Bernanke, no less), and I barely passed it.  In any case, while I’m not an economist, I do read The Economist, religiously at that, and I’ve been reading so much about macroeconomic policies and news the past 18 months that I feel like I finally have a decent rudimentary grip on the subject.  But still, the subject doesn’t always translate as well to the average entrepreneur as microeconomics does – most business people have […]


July 31, 2010

I Don’t Want to Be Your Friend (Today), part III

I Don’t Want to Be Your Friend (Today), part III My first thought when my colleague Jen Goldman forwarded me a SlideShare presentation that was 224 pages long was, “really?”  But a short 10 minutes and 224 clicks later, I am glad I spent the time on it. Paul Adams, a Senior User Experience Researcher at Google, put the presentation up called The Real Life Social Network.  Paul describes the problem I discuss in Part I and Part II of this series much more eloquently than I have, with great real world examples and thoughts for web designers at the […]


March 17, 2010

Book Short: Gladwell Lite

Book Short:  Gladwell Lite What the Dog Saw, And Other Adventures (book, Kindle) is Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book.  Unlike his three other books, which I quite enjoyed: The Tipping Point (about how trends and social movements start and spread) Blink (about how the mind makes judgments) Outliers: The Story of Success (about how talents are genetic, situational, and cultivated) this was not a complete book, but rather a compendium of his New Yorker articles loosely grouped into three themes. If you love Gladwell and don’t read The New Yorker, it’s not a bad read. He’s a fantastic writer, and his […]


January 26, 2010

Context is King

Context is King A small post with a good point.  I noticed in The Economist this week something that struck me.  They posted a correction to a prior article.  Publications do that all the time, but this particular correction was placed on a page in the same section of the magazine in which the error appeared a couple weeks before.  Most print publications tend to bury their corrections in the front or the back where they never get seen.  But this one was right in the middle of the magazine, saying “we made a mistake – right here.”  Noteworthy to […]


November 16, 2009

Book Short: Sloppy Sequel

Book Short:  Sloppy Sequel SuperFreakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t nearly as good as the original Freakonomics, either.  I always find the results of “naturally controlled experiments” and taking a data-driven view of the world to be very refreshing.  And as much as I like the social scientist versions of these kinds of books like Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and Blink (book; blog post), there’s usually something about reading something data driven written by a professional quant jock that’s more reassuring. That’s where SuperFreakonomics fell down a bit for me.  Paul […]