Costa Mesa Blogger Aids the Homeless

Costa Mesa Homeless

Costa Mesa Homeless

Many of you remember Dave, a homeless friend I met last year in front of Target in Costa Mesa (my hometown).  You can read stories about our time together here.  Last year, our story was picked up by a local paper (as you can see in the snapshot to the right) and repeated here to make it easier to read:

When one Costa Mesa man takes his simple goal – to get to know some homeless people – and tells the world about it through a blog, interesting things can happen.

Dave Rosendahl blogs about meeting homeless people. Since he started in January, people from around the world have visited the site, davidrosendahl.com, and donated more than $1,400 to his cause.

“My heart breaks for the homeless,” writes Rosendahl, 34. “I feel that the margin between my comfort (and the perceived security it provides) – and life on the streets – is razor-thin.”

One homeless man, also named Dave, has starred in at least six blog posts. Rosendahl takes readers from the point they met in a Harbor Boulevard parking lot, to the Orange County Rescue Mission, where “homeless Dave” intends to apply for residence. Rosendahl used reader funds one night to buy him a hotel room.

“I’m not suggesting that handouts are the answer,” Rosendahl writes. “I believe a better answer is probably figuring out a way to equip them to help themselves.”
– Mike Reicher (from http://www.ocregister.com/articles/one-498685-newport-costa.html)

I sometimes wish I could focus on issues like those faced by our homeless friends full-time.  Knowing Dave has been a huge blessing!

What about you?  If you could do anything to help other people (and not have to worry about an income), what would it be?

Airbnb First Impressions

Is Airbnb an alternative to hotels?

Is Airbnb a good alternative for business travel?

After searching for hotels near the Dreamforce event and finding them quite expensive, Moe and I decided to search for an available location on Airbnb.  It was our first experience using the service.    

In case you’re not familiar with it, Airbnb was started in 2008, and is a community marketplace where you can book spaces from people who have rooms or houses to spare.  There are places available in 34,000 cities in 192 countries.  Pretty amazing!

Moe ended up finding a nice place about 30 minutes from the convention center.

Described as a “Lovely Historic Italianate House, ” we had a bedroom, family room, and bathroom to use for $99 p/night.  You can see it here along with more pictures.

We entered through a door with a security code, and basically lived in the house with the owners for the 3 nights of our trip.

Our hosts were very kind and friendly.  I ended up getting a stomach bug the first night of our trip, and the lady of the house happened to be an ER nurse.  She was very kind in helping me feel better, which obviously isn’t part of the Airbnb service, but goes a long way in establishing the value of the brand (at least in my mind).

After this experience, I think we’ll definitely consider using Airbnb for certain business trips as opposed to the traditional hotel.  It may save money and help make new friends.

What else?  What are your thoughts on using Airbnb as opposed to hotels for business travel? 

 

Is Dreamforce Worth It?

Is Dreamforce Worth It?

Is Dreamforce Worth It?  (Wonder what this guy would say … must be hot in there!)

After attending this year’s Dreamforce, a number of friends and colleagues have asked whether Dreamforce is worth the investment of time and money.

Here are my thoughts after attending for the first time.

As an attendee (non-exhibitor)

  1. I think it is a worthwhile use of time for anyone involved in the industry, whether you are a marketer, executive, or software entrepreneur.  Any eager “student of the game” may find value, as the conference is a good place to soak in the latest thoughts, technologies, and trends.
  2. The quality of the conversations and information available are pretty high.  You can take part in a lot for free (although you won’t get meals and some other perks, but that’s not a big deal).
  3. The caliber of the speakers is very good.  For example, the Prime Minister of Haiti was there, along with Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook) and Marissa Mayer (Yahoo).  While money isn’t everything, it’s not every day that you get to participate in a session with billionaires, heads of state, and other people who are making a difference in the world via NGOs and other charitable organizations.

As an exhibitor

  1. It certainly seems like an investment worth considering.  Given that there are 130,000 attendees, one certainly has an opportunity to be in front of a lot of people.   However, I’ll reserve judgment on this until next year’s show (we intend to exhibit).
  2. I walked through at least 3 exhibit halls, but none were gigantic.  They were each manageable in the number of aisles to walk and absorb.  I believe there were 350 total exhibitors.   To me, this means that as a newcomer, it is not impossible to get good foot traffic and generate conversations.  How many of these turn into qualified opportunities remains to be seen.
  3. Because the aisles can get super-packed, it seems that companies who clearly state their value proposition (what they do for you) at eye-level or higher have an advantage.  In some cases, I could not see what a company did because there were simply too many people in the aisles.  However, if their value prop was placed in a location above everyone’s head, it was easier to decide whether or not to make a stop.

Overall, outside of getting the flu and having to stay within a few hundred feet of a bathroom (yuck), I had a great time at the show and am definitely eager to return next year as an exhibitor.  I would say that YES, Dreamforce is worth it and is an event that should be considered.

What about you?  Do you think the show is worth the investment of time as an attendee?  How about as an exhibitor?

The State of Marketing Automation at Dreamforce 13

Marketing automation

One reason I spent time at last week’s Dreamforce was to gather insight around the state of marketing automation.  At MindFire, we’re refining our product/market fit, so it is of particular interest to see how others are positioning themselves, and how the market is responding to the recent acquisitions and IPOs.

Attending the show were Marketo, Pardot (as a part of Salesforce and ExactTarget), Act-on, and Silverpop.  Hubspot and Eloqua did not exhibit.

Here are a few highlights:

  • I asked multiple Pardot, ExactTarget, and Salesforce reps how each of their solutions fit together, and here’s what I gathered:
    • After ExactTarget acquired Pardot, the directive was to integrate Pardot into the Marketing Hub.  Some of this integration is evident directly within Marketing Hub.
    • When Salesforce acquired ExactTarget, the directive was given to move Pardot into the Salesforce Sales Cloud, and move Radian6 and Buddy Media into ExactTarget’s Marketing Hub — which was renamed “Marketing Cloud.”
    • Over time, Pardot will become a more seamless part of Salesforce, with a focus on B2B marketers who need to nurture and score leads.
    • ExactTarget, as the Marketing Cloud, is pushing the concept of a single view of the customer, to which a variety of media can be used to communicate, including web, email, social, and products (like your car).
  • While some of Pardot’s functionality and ExactTarget’s “Journey Builder” seem similar, the official line is that Pardot is focused on lead nurturing and scoring in the B2B realm, while Journey Builder is targeted at B2C use-cases where communicating with existing customers is the goal (although it works in B2B acquisition campaigns as well).  The ExactTarget product does not do scoring, although it doesn’t seem a far stretch that they would incorporate it.
  • It was interesting that very few of the ExactTarget reps could speak to the cost of the Marketing Cloud.  The closest I could get to an answer was $5-$10k for the social aspect (Buddy Media and Radian6).

In listening to folks at the Act-on and Pardot booths speak about their products, it was interesting to hear how few claimed to know much about their competition.  It was refreshing to hear their honesty (“You know, I really don’t know too much about Hubspot …“), but I was surprised that there wasn’t more organizational awareness of how to exploit their competition’s strengths and weaknesses.

With respect to the marketing automation space, what else stands out?  If you attended Dreamforce, what did you notice?

Intel’s Andy Grove: How Should a Manager Be Measured?

High Output Management [Andy Grove]

High Output Management [Andy Grove]

At MindFire, we’re experimenting with using Objectives & Key Results (OKRs), which I wrote about here, to provide a clear set of objectives and key results to define “success.”  OKRs have been used at many companies, including Intel during Andy Grove‘s tenure.

During the process of researching how OKRs were used at Intel,  I re-read Andy Grove’s “High Output Management in the hopes of picking up other insights.

I highly recommend the book, as it gives direct insight into the mind of Andy Grove (who by many measures, must have done something right).

In the book, Andy looks at the role of a manager, and asks questions about how a manager should be measured.  He argues that it is not the manager’s output which is the key result — rather, that the output of a manager is the result achieved by a group either under his supervision or under his influence.

Simple stated:

Managers are responsible for (and should be measured by) the output of their direct reports, and for the output of the people that report to their direct reports.

In terms of output, how do you think a manager should be measured?  Do you agree with Andy’s view?

Am I High? (aka How I Came to Discover the Mystical Sensation “ASMR”)

Earlier this week, I was driving home from work, letting my mind wander and reflect.  You know the feeling: you’re not really entirely present (scary while driving), but your mind is working.

As I got on the 405, Pandora started playing It’s Been Awhile by Staind. It’s something I’ve heard before (don’t make fun of me) — but it’s been years.

Suddenly, something odd happened.

At minute 2:18 (I’ve inserted the video below for reference), I felt an angelic injection of something golden in the back of my head.

It started like a tingle — and then exploded in warmth that spread to my ears (maybe a little more on the right side), then down to my shoulders, back, and torso. It evaporated somewhere around my toes, and was gone in 2-3 seconds.  What on earth?

Read more of this post

Thoughts on Marketo’s Q3 2013 Results

Marketo

In addition to enjoying S-1 filings (I know, nerd!), I love joining quarterly earnings calls, as they give a wealth of insight into the views held by leaders in other industries.

Last week, Marketo released their Q3 results (see the results here), and as a quasi-competitor, I find their insights particularly interesting.  Their success is admirable, but I believe the marketing automation space is enormous and still wide open, so there’s lots of room left to innovate.

Here are a couple highlights from the call:

B2C Marketing Automation: How does it compare to B2B?

Historically focused on B2B companies, Marketo has recently increased their focus on B2C companies.  In the 3rd quarter, their largest new transaction was a B2C company.

At MindFire, we’ve had a long history serving thousands of B2B and B2C companies, and have wrestled with which we are best suited for.  I’ve spent many days and nights thinking about the differences between B2C and B2B marketers, so it is of particular interest that Marketo feels their product applies equally well to B2C clients.

Phil (their CEO) claims that their B2C clients are moving away from batch-and-blast email campaigns, upgrading to Marketo to gain deep, personal connections to their customers and prospects.  We see much of the same.

During Q&A, Phil was asked if their B2C go-to-market approach is different than B2B.  Phil replied that they are essentially using the same 4-step strategy employed with B2B: (1) Innovating solutions, (2) bringing aboard beach-head Clients, (3) making those clients widely successful, and then (4) using the success stories to attain more Clients.

Phil said that their entire sales team sells both B2B and B2C, and that there is little specialization within the sales team.

Phil also said that they see many similarities between the needs of  B2B and B2C marketers.  In B2B, many of their clients have sales cycles that are weeks, months, or even years, with a high average selling price.  They’ve found that in many cases, B2C marketers are trying to solve a similar problem, in that they want to stay in touch with their most active buyers (to make sure they don’t go somewhere else to buy) — over a lengthy period of time.

Phil described their B2C pricing as also based on the # of records in the database, but utilizing a different price per record than B2B.  They peg the cost of each record to the value the name represents to the Client, since there is such a variety in the Client’s product price.  Phil stated that in B2C, they usually see more names in the database associated w/less value per name, whereas in B2B there are fewer names but each has a higher value.

Marketo’s Competition

An attendee asked around whether they’ve seen in changes given recent consolidation in the marketing automation space.

Phil implied that the recent 2 or 3 transactions have changed the environment, but that they feel Marketo (still) stands out as the gold standard for marketers.  Phil claims that they’ve seen Oracle bundling Eloqua into a deal when selling to CIOs, but beyond that, nothing major has changed.

In fact, he feels that the majority of the competition is standing still.  I’m sure the teams at Pardot and Eloqua feel much differently.

Another interesting question was whether Clients are using marketing automation to replace an older system, or another marketing automation solution.  Phil replied that it is very much all over the map, but that often they are replacing an email marketing solution (like ExactTarget).

In addition, they replace older technologies like Unica, Aprimo, Teradata, etc.  He also stated that there many enterprise and SMB marketers that are very ad-hoc, using spreadsheets and other manual processes.  In this situations, Marketo is their first mature tool.

I never cease to be surprised at how many well-established and mature companies are running successfully using ad-hoc tools and older technologies!

Marketing Automation = CRM?

A question I often get about our vision at MindFire is whether we intend to provide CRM functionality (there are some similarities).  Phil was asked a similar question, and replied that he sees Marketo as has having a strong data set about a Contact’s behavior, which he argues goes beyond traditional CRM (I agree); from this perspective, he feels they are a CRM of sorts — but they don’t want to be on the sales person’s desktop, nor do they have plans to declare war on the CRM market.

It’s great to see Marketo’s Q3 success, further validating the marketing automation space.  What else? What are your thoughts on Marketo’s future, and marketing automation as a whole?

How the Sausage Gets Made at the Whitehouse: Obama Staffers Reflect

The other night, I stumbled on this video from the University of Chicago, with a panel of Whitehouse staffers including Jon Favreau, former director of speech writing for President Obama, Katie McCormick Lelyveld, former press secretary for First Lady Michelle Obama, Chris Lu, Cabinet secretary and former assistant to the President, and Elizabeth Jarvis Shean, former White House research director.

All worked in the Obama Whitehouse.  Some (like John Favreau) also worked on the campaigns.

I have always been interested in how other companies and organizations structure themselves around understanding what’s important and juggling multiple (and conflicting) priorities.  Is there anywhere this is more pronounced than the Whitehouse working with the President?

If you can think of an example, I’d love to hear about it!

Here are some interesting tidbits about how the Whitehouse operates:

  • John Favreau says that yes, Air Force One is as frickin’ cool as you’d imagine.  Replete with multiple offices, a conference room, workout facility, kitchen, and a surgical operating room, he describes Air Force One as a pretty amazing place.
  • Things are routinely hectic, and much is made up on the fly.  I found this interesting because I often fall victim to the fallacy of believing that everyone else has it together – when in reality, we all face similar struggles.  The panel gave some examples where the world’s affairs threw them off course and they had to make things up as they went along.
  • Similarly, I found it interesting that while many assume there’s a grand strategy behind everything the Whitehouse does — sometimes, there’s not.  I find this is also true of companies we look up to.
  • The world’s problems don’t fit nicely into a 9-5 schedule.  I can’t imagine a more stressful and nonstop job than working in the Whitehouse.  The panel gave examples of how it is sometimes difficult to disconnect, especially because natural disasters have no plan or schedule.
  • Arriving at the Whitehouse in 2008, the team was astonished at the state of technology: old Gateway computers, no wireless interest, and limited cell coverage.  Apparently this has improved over the past few years.
  • The team was also surprised by the work environment: whereas they were accustomed to big open work spaces like those they had on the campaign or other high-tech companies, they found the Whitehouse to be composed of many small offices, with great distances between various parts of the team. As a result, communication slowed down, and tasks became more difficult to carry out.
  • Becoming President was Barack Obama’s first opportunity to “work from home.”  His children had never experienced a time where their father worked from home.  I never really thought about the President as “working from home” – have you?

What do you think?  What’s most surprising to you about how other companies and organizations run themselves?  What surprises you about the panel’s insight into how the Whitehouse runs?

How Google Plans Using Objectives And Key Results (OKRs)

Since posting this overview, I’ve received inquires asking for more resources to learn more about the OKR process.  One very interesting view is from the book In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives.  I highly recommend it for context around the OKR process.  I’ll post more resources soon.

In The Plex

If you’re looking for more resources outlining the OKR process, In The Plex is a great read.

One of the reasons I have not been blogging much the past few weeks is because of how busy things are at MindFire.  We are in the midst of a pivot to a new market segment with our multi-channel marketing automation platform, and anyone who has been through this before knows how hard it can be to repoint an organization that has years of built up momentum.  Exciting — but lots of work!

In late 2012, I flirted with the idea of using a method that Intel, Google, and others use for creating organizational focus and alignment, called Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs for short.

In a nutshell, the process starts by defining what is most important to the organization (as a whole), summarized in a handful of Objectives (somewhere around 3).  These are the key things the organization needs to do to.

For each Objective, there are a set of Key Results, which are measurable aspects of the Objective.  The Key Results allow you to define what success looks like.

Then, each functional area breaks apart the organization’s Objectives, and figures out how they will carry them out.  This results in an OKR for each functional area that is aligned to what the organization aims to achieve.  Lastly, each individual creates their own personal OKR, which aligns to their functional area.  

There’s a lot written about the process and its benefits, so I won’t go into great detail here, but not much is written from the perspective of a practitioner.  In other words, what is it like to roll it out?  Where do you start?  What are the problems that pop up?  How do you actually get it done?

I’ve done a lot of looking around, and I have not been able to find anything that provides details into real-life implementation.  If you know of a resource, let me know in the comments.

Because of this, I have documented the process from the start, writing down my thoughts and insights, objections from our teams and people, and methods we’ve found that help carry out the process.

However, I have come across a very helpful video on Tech Crunch.  In their words:

This gem is part of the Google Ventures Startup Lab‘s body of content, explained by current Googlers, and other technology execs; aimed at helping startups navigate things like A/B testing, holding productive meetings and more. While most of these talks are private, Google Ventures is gradually posting a number of these discussions online for all entrepreneurs to access. In the video below, Google Ventures partner Rick Klau, who runs the Startup Lab with Ken Norton, covers the value of setting objectives and key results (OKRs) and how this has been done at Google since 1999.

Klau, a former Google company employee himself, recalls the story of Kleiner Perkins’ partner and early Google investor John Doerr visiting the company early on to explain a method of setting goals he has witnessed at Intel (as told in author Steven Levy’s book, In The Plex). What’s super interesting about Klau’s presentation is that he found the actual deck that Doerr used when presenting to the Larry, Sergey, and the rest of the Google team in 1999 (around 7 minutes in).

Here’s the video; it is well worth the hour and 20 minutes:

I plan on sharing more details in upcoming posts around what it is like to roll this out, and how it fits into defining your corporate culture.

What do you think?  Have you used OKRs, or rolled them out to your organization?

Why I’ve Been So Quiet Lately

The past few weeks have been a blur.

Between our daughter turning one (wow, I can’t believe it has been a year), and all the incredible work our team is doing at MindFire with our multi-channel marketing automation platform, I have found little time to stop, reflect, and write.

Our team enjoying a collaborative moment

Our team enjoying a collaborative moment!

Oh, and Abby also picked up herpangina — which the ER doctor reminded us had nothing to do with herpes nor vaginas, but I digress — leading to sores inside her mouth, a sore throat, and fever (she hit 106).

I’m sure we have many many more of these types of illnesses ahead of us, but it led to a few difficult days and nights as she pushed through.  After a few rough days, she felt well enough to play at the park near our house.  Here she is the swing starting to look like her normal self again.

Our little birthday girl.  Happy birthday sweetie!

Our little birthday girl. Happy birthday sweetie!

This weekend in the US is a holiday weekend with an extra day off on Monday, so I’m looking forward to being able to slow down, disconnect, and live in the moment.

Here’s to a long weekend and time to reflect on what’s important!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,523 other followers

%d bloggers like this: