Hate on me

Great post on Mashable from Tim Ferris today about the top 7 ways to deal with the “haters” when you’re creating something new.Without further adieu, they are:

  1. It doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it. What matters is how many people do.
  2. 10% of people will find a way to take anything personally. Expect it.
  3. “Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity.” (Colin Powell)
  4. “If you are really effective at what you do, 95% of the things said about you will be negative.” (Scott Boras)
  5. “If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.” (Epictetus)
  6. “Living well is the best revenge.” (George Herbert)
  7. Keep calm and carry on.

This great list brings to mind one of my favorite quotes from Guy Kawasaki from his well-known “Art of Innovation” presentation. I love it b/c it really frames what I consider to be the #1 challenge in a large corporation:

Don’t let the bozos grind you down. The bozos will tell a company that what it’s doing can’t be done, shouldn’t be done, and isn’t necessary. Some bozos are clearly losers–they’re the ones who are easy to ignore. The dangerous ones are rich, famous, and powerful–because they are so successful, innovators may think they are right. They’re not right; they’re just successful on the previous curve so they cannot comprehend, much less embrace, the next curve.

A big “thank you” to Tim and Guy for making thinking a little differently than colleagues seem okay. Even good. (And to Jill Scott for the incredible song that lead to the title of this blog post)

A final word on haters – and don’t watch this video if you are easily offended by the f-bomb or cursing of any kind (Mom, I’m talking to you) – Katt Williams’ take on why to learn to love the haters.

SPICY leaders

In her first blog post written for Ant’s Eye View, Kira Wampler (formerly of Intuit – I miss her already) writes about the qualities that make a great leader in the social space.

This was my favorite part of the post, the quality of being interested:

Interested: Are you naturally curious about the world around you, your customers’ lives and your products or services? Do you take a systematic approach for learning new “cultures” and new projects and, most importantly, then apply that learning to constantly improve on your teams and your work. And, my deep belief is that naturally interested people are naturally humble. We’re all learning our way here, and being humble goes a long way when operating in new cultures and partnering with internal teams. Speaking of…do you do more to recognize others than to gain recognition for yourself?

So well said, if for no other reason than the people most interested in life are the most interesting. Plus it’s hard to lead the way if you’re not interested in knowing where the path is leading or that there’s even a path in the first place.

Nice job Kira! Will you come back now?

Two reasons women leave tech jobs

On Sunday The New York Times posted a provocative story about why there aren’t more women in top positions in Silicon Valley. It’s not the first such article about subtle bias against women in business. As a woman working in the software industry I read the article with a combination of disappointment, mild surprise (at some of the more outrageous examples), and the grim recognition of common experience.

The NY Times article focused on the nature of people to revert to long-held biases (including those against women) in tough times, combined with the tendency for women to want to work more socially than men in similar engineering roles. It also touched on long-standing issues for women such as work/life balance and timing when (or if) to have children.

Here’s what none of the articles I’ve ever read touch on, although I can’t understand why. As a woman who used to be a web developer and chose to leave that mostly predictable, job-secure field to join a team of product managers for two reasons:

  1. The “Code Monkey” Bias: Even though what I was doing was far more technical than most of the sales/marketing people I worked with, I often got treated like I couldn’t understand, affect, or God-forbid drive strategy. Nothing pisses me off faster than people who treat me like I’m stupid, and ironically at this most technical time in my career it happened on a fairly regular basis.
  2. The Woman Bias: Never in my life until I was on a team full of men (who did the same thing as I did, btw) did I have the experience of giving an idea in a meeting that got ignored, only to have it brought up by one of my male colleagues ten minutes later to room-wide acclaim.

During that same time I went out to happy hour with a couple of guys I used to work with who had nothing to do with the technology field (the photographers from SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo). Over beers, I heard myself talking as fast and with the shortest sentences I could muster. I slowly realized I was doing it because I expected to lose their focus at any moment. When I looked at their faces, they were relaxed and waiting calmly for me to continue my stories – so different than what I realized I had gotten used to. The sinking feeling in my stomach at that realization was the beginning of the end of that line of work for me.

Sometimes I miss the feeling of satisfaction and control you get when you build an entire website, from beginning to end. But I can still build sites if I want to-and I never get tired of people respecting me and listening to my opinion.

Our office pools are not like your office pools

concurrent user office poolMost offices have a March Madness pool, maybe a Superbowl pool. A few have even have baby due date pools. If you work on online tax software, do you know what kind of office pool you have? Concurrent users. (concurrent users = how many people are online at the same time using your product) About 30 people have given their estimates for what our peak concurrent user count will be today.

Last year our analyst won, so this year we’re all triangulating off her pick. Here’s to hoping I’m $30 richer by tomorrow!

“Happy” tax day, everyone.

We’re Famous! Social Media Metrics

Jim Sterne Social Media Metrics

Social Media Metrics

A few months ago, Jim Sterne interviewed a handful of folks at TurboTax, including myself, for his new book. Today the book arrived: Social Media Metrics: How to Measure and Optimize Your Marketing Investment. We’re in there! Page 185. I know it’s probably childish, but I still get really excited every time I see my/our name in print. (Thanks Jim, for the thrill!)

In the TurboTax case study, Jim describes last year’s Super Status campaign and how we measured its effectiveness. I’m personally delighted he mentions Sue West from our research team in the book; her team really did some innovative research that allowed us to quantify our results.

TurboTax social media in Forbes

TurboTax social media in ForbesOur work in social media this year got featured in Forbes magazine; I take that as quite a compliment.

Although at first blush people may wonder about the connection between taxes and social media, I would say they aren’t quite looking at it right. The connection is between people and their friends and family. One of the things people do naturally – especially at this time of year – is talk with their friends about taxes. (Choosing a method to get them done, doing their taxes, getting help with their taxes, being done with their taxes, etc) Our social media efforts are based on amplifying those conversations and helping where needed. Until a few years ago, we called our work in this space “word of mouth marketing.” (I still do)

It’s not all that complicated in concept, but making it happen can be. This blog is about the hard-learned lessons in how I’ve learned (and am still learning) to make it happen.

5 things that matter in a social lead

There’s a lot of chatter among folks in social media about where in an organization the “control center” for social should live. Perhaps not too surprisingly, the answer each person gives to that question typically reflects where they live in the organization. Here’s the thing: if you believe that social is about partnering with customers to solve business problems, is there some area of the business where that won’t apply? (I’m guessing the answer is mostly no, Legal aside) So in the end, since social should be an end-to-end “how” that can solve many “whats,” does it matter where it lives in the organization? In my mind, the answer is no.

In my experience, here’s what does matter for the social strategy lead:

  1. Understanding the medium and how it applies to your business – does the person understand the importance of listening and understanding what your customer base really thinks and wants? Do they already know how your customers talk about you and want to be talked to? Do they already have experience “doing” social?
  2. Strategic thinking – can the person match up strategic assets and emerging technologies? As a former boss of mine used to say, you need to be able to “skate where the puck is going.”
  3. Communication skills – chances are, this person is going to be up against some pretty tall odds in your organization as they try and change the corporate culture to be more open. Can they present to large groups effectively? Can they establish relationships with people in the organization who will be future partners in social solutions they create together?
  4. Advocacy – can the person advocate for customers, even at the thought of short-term career costs? Can they balance what the customer needs are and the business needs are when they need to? Can they identify when to advocate and when to back off?
  5. Leadership – Does the leader in this area of the organization think social is a priority worth fighting for? If they don’t, it’s not the right place for it, regardless of how great the person leading social may be.

Whole Foods, you have my sympathies

Today Whole Foods (and a whole bunch of customers) got hosed by the bad guys on Facebook, who used the Whole Foods brand as a front to phish for personal information from unsuspecting customers. I guess it goes to show you, there are a-holes where-ever you go. Some of them are on social media.

I’d be lying if I said didn’t have a flash of “thank God it wasn’t us.” Because no matter what, if you’re working at Whole Foods in social media this would be a sucky time. Whoever those people are, they have my sympathies.

Seeing what can happen should act as a “teachable moment” for brands: let’s learn from this situation and establish our plans early for how to respond if it does.

A Golden Time

Team lunch

TurboTax Online Advertising Team Lunch

It’s one of those rare times in my work life: I’m on a “dream team,” a group of folks who are all world-class at what they do – no weak links. Every week when we report out on our week’s learnings for our channels, I marvel at just how much each one knows and brings to the team.  On top of that, we are kind to one another, pretty much all the time. When someone needs help, another steps up to assist, usually without asking. We laugh together – a lot. Even though it seems like that work environment should be standard, in my experience it isn’t. Especially when you work around smart people who constantly want to prove their own worth. Without question the credit for all this goes to our leader Seth Greenberg, who makes the culture possible.

I’ve had a chance to be on teams like this a few times before, and sadly it never lasts long. People get promoted into new jobs, they get married and move, and so on. Things just change. As Robert Frost said,

“So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”

Today our team goes on a much-needed team-building offsite day. When we arrive I’ll look around and be thankful for this golden time and these wonderful people I get to work with.