When you see the phrase “Work hard play hard” in a job description, run the other way.
It’s common in startup recruiting and it’s usually bad news for candidates and employees in regards to company culture, work life balance, and compensation. Startups often want cheap labor and with phrases like this, they’ll promote their fast paced, fun work environment where employees are often overworked and underpaid.
Now, there are plenty of great startups out there (I loved working at one). This is not a sweeping indictment, it’s just one insight to help you read between the lines about unhealthy startup culture.
I have an Amazon Echo in my bedroom and an Echo Show in my kitchen. I use both daily. They have more than paid for themselves in helping me get hands-free information or assistance quickly.
Echo is far from perfect but she beats Siri to a pulp and Echo will only get better with time. Also, yes – Amazon is spying on us. So are Facebook and Google. You can accept it and reap the benefits of the products while taking privacy precautions, or live in the woods (nothing wrong with the latter). But if you think not owning an Echo will make you safer from tech companies watching you, you’re kidding yourself. So, enjoy!
These are the four skills I use the most. If you’re on the fence about buying an Echo, these are the ones from which you could most easily and quickly benefit. (The Echo Dot is only $29.99 right now, so that’s just a no-brainer. It’s the cost of an alarm clock and does a lot more, while also saving your eyes and brain from that stressful visual of the time around 3:42AM.)
Find your lost phone.
There are a few skills for this but the cleanest, easiest to set up, and easiest trigger words to remember are from this IFTTT recipe. It’s ideal for when your phone is lost within hearing range (like in your couch).
You say: “Alexa, trigger find my phone.”
And your phone will ring. Bluetooth does not need to be on, as it does with the Trackr skill that Amazon advertises for finding your phone. The IFTTT recipe doesn’t require installing any additional apps. Plus, just for fun, you can have that 415 number leave any voice message you want. The default is a machine-read, “Hey, it’s your phone. You found me.”
Note: Available in the U.S. only. I like the simplicity of this skill. However, if your phone is lost outside hearing range, the Trackr skill is more detailed and can tell you where it was last seen (address included). That’s nice for finding a truly lost phone.
Find out what time it is.
You say: “Alexa, time.”
Use this anytime, especially while you’re in bed. It prevents you from having to move, which can awaken your body. Most importantly, it removes the need to open your eyes and look at your phone or a clock, which wakes up your brain due to the light. Studies have shown that seeing the time on alarm clock or phone can worsen insomnia and anxiety about getting adequate sleep.
You’ll hear ambient nature sounds. It’s relaxing. Good to play when getting ready for bed. Further, if you have Spotify, I recommend this skill for yoga, meditation, stretching before bed, or general soothing sounds:
You say: “Alexa, play meditation music from Spotify.”
Set reminders for anything.
From leaving the house to calling someone back to packing a lunch to putting clothes in the dryer to soaking black beans – sky’s the limit.
You say: “Alexa, remind me to ___________ at 2:15PM.”
The reminder will be audible from your Echo and also can appear on your phone if you’ve turned on notifications. I like this feature in case I’m not home.
I’m a fan of Amazon’s voice assistant, obviously. If you’re going to buy an Echo, please click through one of my links in this post. It chips in a few dimes to pay for my web hosting and my valuable hours spent arguing with Bluehost. Thanks 🙂
We discussed whether brands should still try to be their customers’ friends – which I think about daily. Gossage says no and you know I love me some simple Fina copy. But my favorite topic was at the end: social media and children – (Facebook’s new messenger app for children under 13). Yikes, right. I was the strongly anti-FB voice. More on why later.
The white supremacist internet radio advertising topic was timely because marketers are worried across all platforms about their ads being served next to problematic (racist, violent, or other discriminatory) content. And there’s no great solution today. Check out Mitch Joel‘s post-show insights on why internet radio is different from podcasting:
…But, there’s one fatal flaw that many brands haven’t considered: it’s largely a wild west on the content front. Without knowing it, many brands are unwittingly sponsoring some fairly unsavory shows including those supporting racism or even terrorist thinking.
It was a pleasure joining Mitch again and speaking with Kate O’Neill for the first time. Even with just the three of us and Bob, this was a solid episode full of debate and exploring tangible realities like tin foil tech when it comes to ads.cert, and more philosophical ideas surrounding brands and parenting.
I just found out that my first marketing boss, Kris Hart, died four years ago at the young age of 48. Somehow I hadn’t heard, and I’m processing. I want to tell you about what she meant to me. While I’m late in the sense of her passing, I’m right on time from a career vantage point.
I met Kris in August 2009. I had graduated from Michigan a year before and moved to Atlanta on a whim without a job. We connected online and she invited me to Murphy’s on a Thursday morning to interview me to be her nanny. After a year working for the Institute for Social Research, I wanted to work a couple part time jobs before committing to another 9-5.
Being on a budget and unfamiliar with the city, I declined her ride offer and volunteered to meet there. I walked what turned out to be two humid miles in 90-degree weather from Midtown, arriving sweaty and hopeful. Thanks, MapQuest. The literally messy nature of our first impression due to a lack of smartphone maps and Lyft makes this memory sweeter and more real. I remember falling in love with Atlanta a little bit on that walk as I hurried, checking my watch, and admiring the lush tree-lined streets and varied architecture of the homes.
It was 11am and quiet in Virginia Highland. Kris ordered us mimosas and we began an honest conversation about my background and her needs. I liked her immediately. Afterward, she told me I was bright, educated – not a fit: she wanted someone to take care of her toddler and new twins for years to come. I agreed and moved on. I also stored the memory of Kris in my nascent vision of whom I wanted to become: a very together woman – successful, magnetic, beautiful, kind yet firm, and seeming to have it all.
Eight months later Kris emailed to ask if I still lived in Atlanta and wanted a job. She was the new CMO at an entertainment company and offered me a marketing role reporting to her. For me, the rest is history. We lost touch but I’ve thought of Kris many times since.
Kris had poise and smarts and cool. She had an impressive resume, too. In 2007 as VP-brand management for Harrah’s Entertainment, she oversaw the historic $5 billion merger of Harrah’s and Caesers, creating the world’s largest casino company. Despite all her accomplishments, Kris was approachable and humble. You never saw her stress personality and she handled office politics, swinging dicks/male egos in the boardroom, and entitled consultants all with class and efficacy. Kris never micromanaged. She gave me autonomy even though I hadn’t earned it yet. She gave me public praise. She listened to my ideas. She asked great questions instead of instructing. And she was fun. I loved many things about working with Kris at Premier Exhibitions. And I learned a ton, which set me up for the next decade of navigating companies.
Among other sexy brands like BODIES: The Exhibition, Kris handed me the reins on social media for RMS Titanic Inc., the Salvor in Possession of Titanic. This was a few months before Expedition Titanic, a major dive that our company sponsored with an oceanographic dream team. I helped publish dive footage and launched social around it in partnership with History Channel, National Geographic, Woods Hole, and others. I was 23 years old with almost no experience. What an opportunity.
Kris saw something in me over a drink discussing babysitting, and I’m so grateful. I think she saw my potential because she had the gut for it. Working with her launched my marketing career, a field different from my psychology and academia plans. Her encouragement was instrumental in building my confidence in an area I had never studied, a craft I learned purely from books, blogs, podcasts, and paying attention at work.
I’m lucky to have had such a strong, competent, and kind woman as my first marketing boss. She empowered me. Thank you Kris. Sorry I’m so late. You were great.
Nextdoor is a neighborhood social networking app used by more than 150,000 neighborhoods in the U.S, It’s a great app in so many ways. The initial product was unique and filled a need that most people didn’t realize they had (like innovative, successful products do, #PC #ipod). Nextdoor offered utility and community that Facebook couldn’t. But Nextdoor is so focused on monetizing through local business promotion (sponsored content) that they seem to have forgotten the importance of user experience, namely in the P2P buying/selling area.
Until 2016, Nextdoor had been entirely funded by venture capital firms including Benchmark, Greylock Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Tiger Global Management and others.
Recently, we have begun testing sponsored content from a select group of businesses who we believe have valuable products and services to share with Nextdoor’s members. We are also testing allowing local real estate agents and brokerages to promote listings in their zip codes. –Nextdoor
The biggest problem is the search functionality, which is abysmal. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to search results. They are infuriatingly unhelpful. It’s like the app wants to show you that once upon a time there was a perfectly relevant post but now you’re SOL. Recency is paramount for this type of app, focused on quick sales or neighborhood updates. The content is mostly fleeting and time-sensitive.
For example, search “table” and you’ll see six-month old posts but nothing new, even if a table was posted to the classifieds section yesterday.
You can’t access your own activity easily. Also, I don’t know if it’s my issue but there is no way to get your iPhone to add a visual notification badge (red number) to the Nextdoor icon. So you have to check your email or keep opening the app, which you forget to do, and then miss PMs, and the agave plant you were eyeing gets sold to someone down the block.
I once worked for a home services review provider in the same space. I predicted Nextdoor would eat that company’s lunch. They are, as is Amazon Home Services (fantastic, smart model there – go Bezos GO.)
Why Nextdoor is Special
Here’s what I saw two years ago: Nextdoor offers a convenient, focused platform for a select group (a tribe, more importantly) based on location. It’s the closest thing to an inherently trustworthy digital community you can find and its geo restrictions keep it relevant. Neighbors on Nextdoor just trust each other more when transacting or discussing. There’s more respect. Because it’s literally your neighbors. That is unique online.
But Nextdoor is going to need to invest heavily in a better UX if they want to survive the war of Classifieds with Facebook Marketplace utterly dominating the P2P selling space.
Facebook: Talk about great UX. That GD app which is the entire internet for most people may well beat out Craigslist for (G-rated) selling because it offers social proof and greater trust among sellers and buyers, plus total convenience because its messages are right inside Facebook versus your throwaway email. Easy mobile photo upload and price adjustment notifications to users watching your listing make the experience better for all. It’s a better experience than listing on Nextdoor, and clearly Zuck has already figured out monetization. Nextdoor needs to clean up the selling/buying features or there won’t be many users left to see the ads.
By the way, here’s the funniest Craigslistmoment I’ve had in years. I was shopping for a table, and used my Google Voice number as usual to maintain some privacy: