June 1, 2017

Company of Origin

Most psychologists, and lots of executive coaches, end up talking to their clients about their “Family of Origin” as a means of more deeply understanding the origins of their clients’ motivations, fears, hopes, and dreams.  Presumably they do this in service of helping their clients gain self-awareness around those things to be more effective in their personal or professional lives. A smattering of highly-ranked search results on the term yields snippets like these for its definition: One’s family of origin—the family one grew up in, as opposed to the people one currently lives with—is the place that people typically learn to become who they are From the family of origin a person learns how to communicate, process emotions, and get needs met People also learn many of their values and beliefs from their families …and these for its impact: As a worker, your experiences in your family of origin are likely to impact on the way you work Families always involve negative and positive dynamics, which may lead to members gaining strengths and abilities or experiencing difficulties Differentiation from family is a significant concept. Well-differentiated people function better Greater awareness of the impact of your family of origin on you […]


May 4, 2017

Why Our Executive Team Does Daily Standup Meetings

Another CEO with whom I trade notes on the craft of running a company asked me this question the other day, and I thought the answer would make a for a good blog post.  Any product team (or other kind of team) who has Agile practices, does some kind of a Daily Standup (DSU) meeting in which each team member reviews progress against goals for a given period and highlights issues where he or she is blocked and needs help.  I wrote about Return Path‘s journey to implement Agile across the whole company last year here. My meeting routines have been […]


March 2, 2017

Stamina

Stamina A couple years ago I had breakfast with Nick Mehta, my friend who runs the incredibly exciting Gainsight.  I think at the time I had been running Return Path for 15 years, and he was probably 5 years into his journey.  He said he wanted to run his company forever, and he asked me how I had developed the stamina to keep running Return Path as long as I had.  My off the cuff answer had three points, although writing them down afterwards yielded a couple more.  For entrepreneurs who love what they do, love running and building companies […]


January 19, 2017

Reboot – Founders’ Dinner

Brad wrote a fun post a couple years ago about rituals, including one about The Annual Dinner that he and Amy, Fred and Joanne Wilson, and Mariquita and I have been having not quite annually for almost 15 years now.  His most poignant comment (other than that apparently he and I are both getting larger and greyer in sync with each other) is about the power of marking the passage of time together with the same group of people.  We have a similar tradition at Return Path that’s worth noting in the context of my reboot program since it happened a […]


March 3, 2016

Agile Everywhere

I’ve written a bunch on this blog and in Startup CEO, about Agile Development and the Lean Canvas and Lean Startups in general (see a really old post on Agile Development from 10 years ago when we first adopted it here, and one on Agile Marketing here).  The basic premise of all of this is that there is an old way to build software products and businesses, and a new lighter way loosely based on Toyota’s lean manufacturing principles.  The old way is HEAVY — you spec out a product and build it and hope you got it right; you write […]


January 7, 2016

The Illusion and (Mis)uses of Certainty

September’s Harvard Business Review had a really thought-provoking article for me called How Certainty Transforms Persuasion.  Seth Godin wrote a blog post around the same time called The Illusion of Control.  The two together make for an interesting think about using information to shape behavior as leaders.  I’ve often been accused of delivering too many mixed messages to the company at all-hands meetings, so I enjoyed the think, though not in the way I expected to. Let’s start with Seth’s thesis, which is easier to get through.  Essentially he says that nothing is certain, at best we can influence events, we’re never […]


August 27, 2015

The Joy of Coaching

I was the head coach of my two older kids’ little league team this past spring.  The whole thing was a little bit of an accident – I vaguely volunteered for something and ended up in charge.  The commitment was a little daunting, but I was ok with it since the season was only a couple months long, it was both Casey and Wilson, and both kids, especially Wilson, are really into baseball.  Other than helping out a bit here and there, I’d never coached a sports team before. What started off as an unclear assignment ended up as one […]


June 25, 2015

The Difference Between Culture and Values

The Difference Between Culture and Values This topic has been bugging me for a while, so I am going to use the writing of this post as a means of working through it. We have a great set of core values here at Return Path. And we also have a great corporate culture, as evidenced by our winning multiple employer of choice awards, including being Fortune Magazine’s #2 best medium-sized workplace in America. But the two things are different, and they’re often confused. I hear statements all the time, both here and at other companies, like “you can’t do that […]


December 18, 2014

Typing as Core Competency

Typing as Core Competency We just had our annual typing tournament in the Return Path New York office, and it got me thinking on this topic.  Fits, hats off to my colleague Rosemary Girouard for her smashing victory this year, even with an injury, and to fellow finalists Caroline Pearl and Nicole Niemiec for excellent showings. So this is going to sound silly, but I’m increasingly thinking that typing speed is a core competency for many jobs.  With special thanks to my 8th grade typing teacher, Mrs. Van Vranken, my typing training on an old-school typewriter has paid off.  I type 100 […]


November 26, 2014

Autocorrect for life

Autocorrect for life I used to joke that life should have an undo button, the ultimate Control-Z for when something goes wrong. But lately, I’ve been more of the mind that life should work like an Apple device with a good Autocorrect function. Why just undo things when they can be fixed in the blink of an eye, before anyone even knows they went wrong? Press reply-all when you are bcc’d on an email because you forgot to look at the header closely enough?  No problem, Autocorrect for Life(AFL) will change it to a simple reply. Fender bender while parallel […]


May 13, 2013

Book Short: Getting to MVP

Book Short:  Getting to MVP Usually, when we hear the term MVP, we think Most Valuable Player.  But in my line of work, that acronym has come to mean something entirely different:  Minimum Viable Product.  Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works, by Ash Maurya, is an incredibly useful, practical how-to guide for any entrepreneur with an idea from concept through to MVP, or the smallest bit of functionality that you can get customers to pay for. This is one of the best books I’ve read that encapsulates most of the contemporary thinking and writing about […]