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Current Affairs

Book Short: Fixing America

Book Short:  Fixing America I usually only blog about business books, but since I occasionally comment on politics, I thought I would also post on That Used to be Us:  How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back, by Tom Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum (book, Kindle), which I just finished. There is much that is good about America.  And yet, there is much that is broken and in need of serious repair.  I wrote about some thought on fixing our political system last year in The Beginnings of a Roadmap to Fix America’s Badly Broken Political System?, but fixing our political system can only do so much.  Tom Friedman, with whom I usually…

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. …

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 to highlight here some of the benefits of being transparent, and the benefits of being direct (sometimes those two things…

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 face.  But it hit home in a different way for those of us who lived and worked in Lower Manhattan….

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.”  I am guessing the attention and click-through on anything other than today’s big news will be greatly diminished. But the…

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 interesting read about how our brains develop (a lot happens in utero), and about how men’s and women’s brains are…

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 usual thinking about the symptoms, their root causes, and potential solutions.  A typical entrepreneur’s approach, I guess.  So here’s my…

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 good intuitive understandings of supply, demand, and pricing.  But who knows what monetary policy is and why they should care?…

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 end. If you’re involved in social media and want to start breaking away from the “one size of friend fits…

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 vignettes are interesting.  There are many “hmmm” moments as we learn why ketchup always tastes the same but mustard doesn’t;…

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 me for its show of transparency, always appreciated but not seen frequently enough in “official” things.