Building a great brand

These days there is so much data and power in online marketing. We see many companies having a fantastic success acquiring customers on Instagram & Facebook. We see it in the metrics, CAC is going down and LTV is going up.

And with each success story, we see new startups following this path. Rounds are being raised with a healthy allocation for FB/IG ads. I get it. 

To be sure, todays age of performance marketing has a tremendous amount of benefit and insight that was unavailable to startups from an earlier era. 

But I’m a little concerned the pendulum has swung too far on performance marketing and not enough attention to the brand being built and what the company stands for. 

Before blogs became content marketing machines, complete with ghost writers and listicles, they were ways to connect creatives with their community. Joel On Software was legendary and I felt like I understood Joel’s values and principles long before we ended up investing in Stack Overflow and Trello. 

Same with Twitter. Go back and read the archives of Jack, Biz, Ev, Dick and Amac’s posts and you get a real sense of the foundation of the company and what Twitter stands for. Far more than some do no evil line in Google’s S-1. 

Same with Nike. The recent campaign supporting  Colin Kaepernick was met with massive controversy and blowback. Some state governments even lashed out, with political forces distracting from the real issues behind Kapernick’s  work (hint: it’s not about the flag). 

Same with Apple and their push back on the FBI’s over reach. They could have caved like AT&T, Verizon, etc. But they took a stand on privacy and told us all what they believe. 

So while I’m encouraged that startups are hyper attentive to their performance marketing efforts, I would submit that there is more to building and growing a company than metrics and data. Building a company on an authentic set of principles is make good on the mission and build an world changing brand.

A quiet house

These days our house is quiet.

My oldest left for her second year in college.

Our other daughter is studying overseas for the fall semester of her junior year in high school

So it’s me, Lauren and James. Going from 5 people all summer to 3 may not sound like a big difference. Buts it’s a massive one to me.

And I miss those girls more than I could possibly imagine.

I am so proud of them both and happy they are trying new things way outside their comfort zone. They are having ups and downs on a weekly and sometimes even on a daily basis. And while my instinct is to swoop in tell some jokes and/or try and solve the problem. But I’m learning to take a breath and just letting then air it out with me.

I never really imagined what being a parent would be like when the kids move out. But I’m getting a taste for it now and while I’m happy for them, I’m not happy for me.

Sunday musings

I don’t have a long post in mind for today. So here are just a few tidbits I thought I would write down. 

-I have been taking handwritten notes these days and bought a fountain pen. As someone who has struggled with poor handwriting skills, using a fountain pen for the first time is a whole new world. It’s a joy to use and mine is quite inexpensive. I’m using a Panobook at my desk and Field Notes everywhere else.

-I’m enjoying following my friends that are posting daily photos on their blog instead of Instagram (here and here). It feels old school but there is something so nice about having your own place. It just feels right. 

-My wife has had exactly zero interest in Apple Watch until last week when the new Series 4 was announced. She is super interested in all the health stuff, especially advanced heart monitoring. She pre ordered hers last night.

-I downloaded Fear by Bob Woodward to my kindle. I just can’t get into it. I read a chapter and then feel the need to put it away for a few days before returning to it. Each chapter is terrifying and worth knowing but at the same time depressing. I think I need another book. 

-I discovered the work of Gerald Cyrus this weekend. He was a recent guest on the Candid Frame. Really enjoyed the interview and you can feel his love or film and making prints. And his photographs are beautiful.

That’s it for now. Have a great Sunday everyone! 

Summer reading

I don’t read books as much as I would like. I don’t have a great excuse, I suppose I just haven’t made it a priority.

So this summer, I picked up a Kindle Oasis and started reading.

I began with 10% Happier, written by Dan Harris. Dan’s story is a fascinating one, about his life as a television host/journalist and his various adventures. As his career was accelerating, he turned to some pretty hard drugs and which eventually led to a panic attack on air. In a search for answers he ends up discovering meditation and takes it on as a skeptical journalist. While the title of the book is a humble one, Dan clearly is moved by the meditation practice and has inspired so many others with his incredible story. Including yours truly!

The next book I downloaded was The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes. Ben worked for Obama for eight years in the White House and shares an incredible set of experiences and moments in the room when things happened. It’s a powerful personal account of someone who has a unique relationship with Obama and all the challenges that the administration faced during those two terms: domestically and globally. It’s a great read regardless of your politics.

As I was reading the last few chapters of The World As It Is, Lauren bought me a copy of The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels by John Meacham (hardback edition). I came away with a set of of conflicting emotions and thoughts after I read this book. On one hand the book makes it very clear we have had darker moments in America before these days of divisive politics, corruption in government and extreme nationalism and racism. And with that perspective you come away with hope and optimism that as a country we endure, we push forward, make progress and find a way. On the other hand, the book also makes it clear that it wasn’t that long ago we had a Civil War in this country and the sentiment that led to war is still persuasive in our current day.

I am back on the Kindle Oasis and now reading, American Kingpin by my good friend Nick Bilton. I am about halfway through this book at the moment. It’s an amazing story of Silk Road (the amazon of illegal drugs). The book reads like a movie with such rich characters and drama. I am loving it.

I must say what countless others have already experienced. Reading on a Kindle is fantastic. I love the form factor, the screen, the lack of apps and 24×7 access to a bookstore. My only nitpick with the Oasis is the battery life isn’t great. It lasts a few days of solid reading but I would have expected more from an e-ink device.

I also (re)joined Goodreads and searching for my next book.