Category Archives: Take this Job…

Faith, Hope and Charity

Apparently this guy REALLY doesn’t want to get some of our work emails. And yet can’t find the unsubscribe button:



[redacted], LUTCF
[redacted] and Associates
317-[XXX-XXXX] fax
Faith, Hope and Charity.

Yah, read that last line of his signature again.

I’d love to actually publish this idiot’s name and business info, but I don’t think that would be particularly charitable.

Oh, Snap!

At this year’s Northern Voice conference, one of the more visible sponsors was TravelMasters, who were obviously using the conference as a launching pad into the world of DIY marketing. Marching in with gusto, and with cookies.

photo from @julieszabo

Now, I will be the first to admit that (being in marketing) my tolerance for campaigns that miss the mark is exceedingly low.

But, of the people I talked to about the cookies, I’m not the only one who was a bit confused and left wanting (for substance, not cookies. The cookies were delicious.).

I want to like TravelMasters’ efforts – they’re branching out into a market that might make sense and they were certainly going in the right direction. But they could have done so. much. better.

If you can’t quite read the picture, the text is:

Kathleen’s Gingersnaps

1. Scoop premium vanilla ice cream in between two Gingersnaps. Roll cookies in toffee chips, wrap in plastic wrap, place in freezer
2. Spread chocolate spread over one cookie, top with slices of banana (sounds funny, but it’s delicious)
3. Mix a vanilla pudding package and 500ml whipping cream together to make “vanilla fluff”. Spread vanilla fluff over one cookie, top with sliced fruit
4. Spice up a roast pork gravy by substituting flour with crumbled gingersnaps
5. Grab a cookie and stuff it in your mouth….they are delicious on their own! Yum Yum!

If we can think to do that with a cookie, imagine what we can do with your next vacation
twitter tag #TMcookies

First, what TravelMasters did right:

• Targeted a conference where it can be reasonably assumed that many of the attendees are worldly, enjoy new experiences and have enough disposable income to take vacations. An excellent departure from the standard places travel agencies advertise (wedding fairs & home shows) and a good way to stand out!
• Provided a snack during the conference afternoons, when people are hungry and looking for a sugar fix
• Added some interest to the packaging to showcase their creativity
• Included a twitter tag to track conversations about the cookies, tying them into the social media part of the conference

Now, here’s how it could have been orders of magnitude better:

Who is Kathleen?! Sure, she makes a tasty gingersnap, but why do I care? Unless she is important to the company and its message (in which case, tell me who she is!), she is a distraction. Just call them “Gingersnaps from TravelMasters.”

Using the bag to tout their creativity is a big win, but the TravelMasters’ team did it in a way that creates a lot of cognitive dissonance (one of the few $3 words I still remember from university). I’m already at a social media conference, eating cookies. Now I’m reading about ways to be creative with the cookies. And out of nowhere: THINK ABOUT VACATIONS, QUICK!

I am not thinking about vacations now. I am wondering where the hell that came from, and wondering what it has to do with cookies or the conference.

How about instead, you put something on the packaging that shows how creative you are about snacks (which I’m already on) and travel, which is what you WANT me to think about?

Five things to do when you travel with our Gingersnaps (and I pulled these out of my arse in about 5 minutes):
1. Stash them in your carry-on when you fly to Paris (not liquid, so they pass the airplane food rule) for a better nosh when those intolerable nut-snacks come around
2. Share the cookies with someone on your bus tour in Auckland, make a new friend
3. Take some downtime, feed broken pieces to pigeons in Central Park
4. Stick your nose in the bag and breathe in the heady, sweet aroma when you’re walking past another open sewer grate in Thailand
5. Combat the munchies in Amsterdam. ‘Nuff said.

Adding the suggested twitter hashtag was also a great tie-in to the conference, but it’s a bit empty without a reason for me to tweet about the cookies. “If you build it, they will come” only works in Kevin Costner movies. You can’t just say “here, take your social media and get to it” – give me a reason to engage.

Along with the tag, ask me what other ideas I have for the cookies, or where I’d take them. Better, tell me to share my idea and enter everyone who shares into a contest for a travel perk or accessory.

Finally, maybe give me a reason to engage with your website. Put up a page where I can download the recipe (and while I’m there, remind me why I need you to book my next vacation).

And speaking of wanting me to think I need you to book my vacation, have a reason (beyond the cookies) for me to think that way!

I wandered up to the TravelMasters table at the conference and asked what made different from any other agency, and they gave me the line every other travel agency has ever given: “our agents have all traveled extensively, we have access to exclusive deals, we… (I tuned out).”

They had a captive audience in a pretty specific niche. Tell me something that matters to me and will pique my interest. I’m a tech-savvy person at a blogging conference. Set me up with a free travel blog, with a template customized to my destination. Give me a list of wireless hotspots in the city I’m visiting. Promise me one of the Lonely Planet iPhone apps for my destination. Something that shows you care about me as a customer, and understand me better than any of those other agencies who weren’t smart enough to show up at Northern Voice.

And on the chance that TravelMasters is monitoring for social media mentions and finds this – I’m going to New Orleans next week (first time) and Las Vegas two weeks after that (seventh time) – what would you suggest I do there with the cookies?

Nobody Has Shown up Naked to Work Lately…

The company I work for is in the HR/Recruiting industry, so I find myself floating around a number of online HR forums.

I found this absolute gem this afternoon (via The Business Insider) – if you have any interest in HR or workplace cultures, give it a look:

The company I used to work for was well on its way to fostering a culture like that. Focus on results. Foster innovation. Hire superstars. As far as I know, they are still walking that path. They didn’t always succeed and there were bumps in the road for sure – it’s not easy to maintain that culture of trust and innovation when there is a failing economy raining crap down on everyone’s heads everyday. But they tried. They try.

And I can speak firsthand to what an incredible experience it is working for a company like that. I had trust and freedom from my manager. I was encouraged to innovate. We all worked incredibly hard to get things done, but it never felt (at least to me) like a chore. If the joy in accomplishment and excitement for future projects was any indication, I don’t think anyone felt like it was much of a chore. Of course there were also bad days – it’s not a job if they don’t need to pay you to show up – but the culture as a whole was designed to foster success. I learned more and accomplished more in a little under 2 years there than in the 5 years previous.

The company I work for now is one of the procedure-driven risk-averse companies mentioned in the slide-deck. It’s not bad, but it’s certainly not incredible. Innovation and excellence are more difficult. I manage. And I’m incredibly glad to have had the experience I did. Knowing the importance of not settling into mediocrity keeps me going.

And I hope that these examples of success are what keep driving corporate culture into the future. Every employee should have an experience like that.

I often note that, from a business trends perspective, HR (specifically recruiting) is today where marketing and marketing automation were three years ago.

In marketing & PR the message these days is to not be so afraid of giving up the “command and control” style of push marketing. Because you don’t actually have control anyhow. Giving up control and instead building trust and engagement will be the keys to excellence and success gaining customers.

I hope HR departments and executive boardrooms get the message soon that the same tactics will work for winning excellence & success from employees.

Case of the Mondays

I rarely blog about work, but this was too good not to share.

I work for a company that sells HR/Recruiting software. This is what came back as a response to one of our outreach campaigns:

We are not as technical at [huge US company] with our recruiting process as you would think. since we hire anybody who fogs a mirror we use the standard Monster, local papers and yahoo jobs tools to find talent to interview. …[E]ach each district office handles it’s own recruiting which are as unique as thumbprints for some areas. [Huge US company] headquarters provides no real help towards recruiting besides radios adds every now and then, which hits the wrong audience we are looking for.

Sounds like somebody has a serious case of the Mondays!

Who needs Wit when there is Crank

I always know when I’ve been negligent in my blogging when my mom calls to ask if everything’s ok, because I haven’t posted in a while.

Sorry Mom.

But! to make up for the fact that some of you are refreshing this page day after day, or staring woefully at your RSS readers, wondering when they will alert you to the fact that I’ve gifted you with a new way to waste 15 minutes at work (I’m a superstar in my own mind), I give you:

The Cranky Product Manager!

Specifically, The Cranky Marketer’s Guest Post!

If you were ever in doubt as to what I do all day (besides read the Cranky PM – thankfully, she doesn’t update that often, so I do get some work done), this should give you a pretty good idea.

Oh, and for the record, I am a cranky marketer. I’d love to be a cranky pm, but decided to get a fluffy arts degree, because engineering is hard and stuff.


The Universe Giveth, and the Universe Taketh Away

Note that it’s very important to remember that the universe doesn’t always do it in that particular order!

As you already know, on Monday I was laid off.

And on Friday, five short, busy days later I had a great offer of employment on my desk.

How did it all happen? With a happy dose of great timing, the fact that I’m awesome, and the power of the internets.

On Monday I tweeted about being laid off from Company A. I needed to distract myself since with all the free time I had I became very gear hungry for stuff to go camping and forget about the city and its troubles for a while.

A friend who used to work with me at Company A and got laid off in the first round back in October, and now works at Company B (who we already had a relationship with at Company A – we used each other’s products) pinged me to send him my resume, as Company B was hiring for a position in my area of expertise.

Turns out my resume got in to Company B quite late in the process, but thanks to the relationship between Companies A and B, there were a few people at Company B who know I am highly proficient in using Company B’s product.

At the same time my resume was circulating at Company B, their product manager was talking to new clients at Company C, who were talking about replacing their existing Graphic Designer & Company B product point person with a marketing generalist. Hopefully a generalist who either was, or was willing to become an expert on Company B’s product.

So Company B’s product manager (who I’ve worked with in the context of using Company B’s product at Company A) thought of me and asked me if I minded if he passed my resume on to Company C. I of course said okay.

Clear as mud, right?

Anyhow, that all happened on Tuesday morning. Tuesday afternoon I got the phone call from Company C to come in for an interview on Wednesday. I instantly clicked with the person who’d be my new boss, and had great interviews with the three others I met with. It’s still in high tech, and exactly the kind of environment and role I thrive in. I had another interview on Friday morning, and Friday afternoon I had the offer in hand.

My first day is Wednesday.

I can not believe the good fortune that came out of all this. I’d seen the writing on the wall about the problems with Company A. I was already thinking about what my next move would be, but didn’t want to leave because of the amazing relationship I had with my boss there. I figured I’d ride things out. I even knew about the position with Company B that my resume was originally requested for, but had decided not to pursue it, because I didn’t want to quit my boss.

Then the decision was made for me, at exactly the right time for things to fall into place.

So to celebrate, I bought a new MacBook!

I’m going to be working overtop of my severance, so instead of a sudden belt-tightening, we’re in the fortunate situation of actually receiving a bit of a windfall. Since my existing home computer’s newest component is about 8 years old, it’s something that’s been long overdue. I was resigned to waiting until our debt’s paid off, but now I can afford a new computer, and even give our line of credit a bit of an extra kick with what’s left.

I quite obviously owe the universe a great debt of gratitude, so I’ll be looking to re-align the karmic balance PDQ. If you need any favours from me at this point, now’s the time to ask!

Dose of Reality

Last week was a tough one around chez watercooler.

Generally I’d been a mostly curious observer of the financial crisis. Oh sure, our investment accounts are taking a hit right now, but our fund manager has been great (recommended pulling out of AIG about 6 months before the crisis began) and I’m confident our accounts have plenty of time to recover before we even think of retiring anyhow.

Also, with our variable rate mortgage & loans, the dropping prime lending rate has been nothing but good for us.

But the magnitude of what’s going on hit a bit closer to home last week. Because of the current financial outlook there was some necessary restructuring at work, and a number of my colleagues on Tuesday ceased to be colleagues as of Wednesday. And it sucked. Still does. I’ve been on both sides of “restructuring” before, and it’s a crap situation either way.

There’s a big part of me that gets a huge charge out of the tumultuous nature of these things when they happen in startups – when some unexpected chaos hits and everyone needs to change focus on a dime and pull together and everything gets kindof rough and wavy and frightening and exciting for a while. I do love it.

But then there’s the bit that realizes what it means for those who are no longer in the lifeboat and puts a bit of a damper on the whole thing.

And while (for various reasons that make sense, that I’m not at liberty to discuss here) I’m not nervous about being laid off in the immediate future, I’m not naieve enough to think that with the current global fiscal situation, things couldn’t rapidly swing again – expected or not. So I’m a bit personally financially paranoid, getting slush funds and some padding in order that we’ve been a bit lax on building up, and putting some other projects on hold while we do it.

I’m still not entirely convinced that the world is a scary place, but it’s getting a lot less comfortable these days.

So that’s where I’m at right now. I have a job, that I still love, that’s awfully exciting right now – especially since an incredibly shitty week is finally over. But I no longer consider myself not-quite-affected by the current financial crisis.

How about you?