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 parking?  AFL is there to save the day and fit your car perfectly into the spot and right up against the curb. It might even find you a space where there is time left on the meter for you. Did the boss overhear you complaining about her to a colleague?  Here comes AFL, changing your words to something nice and friendly. Of course, as I write this I am reminded that in older versions of Microsoft Office and the first version of iOS, the system kept trying to correct my wife Mariquita’s name to be Marijuana.  So, you’d probably want […]


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 […]


January 31, 2013

A Little Quieter Than Usual, For Now

A Little Quieter Than Usual, For Now As many of you know, I’m writing a book called Startup CEO:  a Field Guide to Building and Running Your Company, which is due to the publisher in a few weeks.  I’d originally thought the book would be an easy project since the idea was to “turn my blog into a book.”  But then it turned out that for the book I wanted to write, I’d only written about 1/3 of the content on the blog already! So the past few weeks I’ve been writing my brains out.  I now have a nearly […]


January 17, 2013

How to Wow Your Employees

How to Wow Your Employees Here at Return Path we like to promote a culture of WOW and a culture of hospitality.  Some of you may be asking, Why Wow your employees?   The answer is, there is nothing more inspirational than showing an employee that you care about him or her as an individual.  The impact a WOW has is tremendous.  Being a manger is like being in a fishbowl.  Everything you do is scrutinized by your team.  You lead by example whether you want to or not and showing your own vulnerability/humanity has an amazing bonding effect. Why do you want […]


October 4, 2012

Scaling Horizontally

Scaling Horizontally Other CEOs ask me from time to time how we develop people at Return Path, how we scale our organization, how we make sure that we aren’t just hiring in new senior people as we grow larger.  And there are good answers to those questions – some of which I’ve written about before, some of which I’ll do in the future. But one thing that occurred to me in a conversation with another CEO recently was that, equally important to the task of helping people scale by promoting them whenever possible is the task of recognizing when that […]


September 6, 2012

The Best Place to Work, Part 7: Create a Thankful Atmosphere

The Best Place to Work, Part 7: Create a Thankful Atmosphere My final installment of this long series on Creating the best place to work (no hierarchy intended by the order) is about Creating a thankful atmosphere. What does creating a thankful atmosphere get you?  It gets you great work, in the form of people doing their all to get the job done.  We humans – all of us, absolutely including CEOs – appreciate being recognized when they do good work.  Honestly, I love what I do and would do it without any feedback, but nothing resonates with me more than […]


March 8, 2012

People Should Come with an Instruction Manual

People Should Come with an Instruction Manual Almost any time we humans buy or rent a big-ticket item, the item comes with an instruction manual.  Why are people any different? No one is perfect.  We all have faults and issues.  We all have personal and professional development plans.  And most of those things are LONG-TERM and surface in one form or another in every single performance review or 360 we receive over the years.  So shouldn’t we, when we enter into a long-term personal or professional employment relationship, just present our development plans as instruction manuals on how to best […]


January 17, 2012

Help Us, Help You

Before becoming Chairman of the Direct Marketing Association, one of the things I’d noticed over the years was that the association didn’t have a ton of primary market research on itself, sort of a classic case of the cobbler’s children having shoddy shoes. Today we are launching a new survey to help us establish a baseline for awareness and perceptions of all aspects of the DMA on behalf of all members of the marketing community.   Whether or not you are a DMA or EEC member – in some ways, it’s even more important for non-members to take this – I’d […]


November 3, 2011

Learning to Embrace Sizzle

Learning to Embrace Sizzle One phrase I’ve heard a lot over the years is about “Selling the sizzle, not the steak.”  It suggests that in the world of marketing or product design, there is a divergence between elements of substance and what I call bright shiny objects, and that sometimes it’s the bright shiny objects that really move the needle on customer adoption. At Return Path, we have always been about the steak and NOT the sizzle.  We’re incredibly fact-based and solution-oriented as a culture.  In fact, I can think of a lot of examples where we have turned our […]


June 2, 2011

Try It On For Size

Try It On For Size I’ve always been a big fan of taking a decision or a change in direction I’m contemplating and trying it on for size.  Just as you never know how a pair of pants is really going to fit until you slip them on in a dressing room, I think you need to see how decisions feel once you’re closing in on them. Here’s why:  decisions have consequences.  No matter how prescient leaders are, no matter if they’ve been trained in chess-like (three-moves-ahead) thinking, they can almost never perfectly foresee all the downstream reactions and effects […]


May 12, 2011

GEOITS

GEOITS This is another gem that I picked up years ago from my boss at MovieFone — the “Great Employment Office In The Sky.”  It’s a simple but powerful concept: the organization is grappling with a difficult employee situation, and the likely path is that the employee needs to leave the organization either immediately or sometime in the future, and it’s impossible for the organization to figure out how to get from A to B for whatever reason, then the employee resigns of his or her own accord, or the employee does something that leaves the organization no choice but […]