Articles

Creating a go-to-market glossary

One of the biggest challenges in any organization is internal communication, especially across different departments. My personal philosophy is to embrace transparency, a common value seen in many technology companies today. However, open lines of communication and transparency don’t solve a core issue that I see at a lot of the companies I work with — that is, the words you actually use to describe the concepts within the organization, and what they mean for the business. When you are talking about critical business concepts tied to revenue, saying “leads” or “opportunities” or even something seemingly basic like “customer” can lead to confusion and misaligned expectations if those terms are not well defined and aligned across the various departments. I see this challenge particularly in aligning sales and marketing teams trying to achieve ambitious growth goals.

To that end, I have found there is a lot of value in sitting down to write out what I call a “go to market glossary.” It’s a straightforward concept but I’ve hardly seen any organizations taking the time to do this. What it entails is writing out (preferably in a Google doc or Quip to make it collaborative) all of the most important terms that describe the various parts of your marketing, sales, and customer processes, and defining them in as clear language as possible. I’ve advised different sales and marketing organizations on this and they often start off by saying, oh yeah we all know what a lead is, but when they have to actually write down the definition, they come up with fairly divergent descriptions.

How does one go about the exercise of creating a go-to-market glossary? It’s simple, but can take some time depending on the complexity of your organization. The first step in creating a go-to-market glossary is going step by step through your funnel, and ensure that the various funnel stages, and their components are described to the level of detail required so that all can understand. This should ideally be a joint exercise between marketing, sales, and customer success, although in my view marketing should serve as project leader/owner. So in that spirit, assuming the business is a typical SaaS B2B company, you’d start by defining leads, accounts, meetings, opportunities, deals, customers. Make sure you are thinking about this conceptually, now just how things work in your CRM. For instance when describing an opportunity, you might say “An opportunity represents a salesperson’s judgement of a non-zero chance in the future that a potential or existing customer will purchase one or more product subscriptions and agrees to note this in their pipeline.”

You can see how I didn’t write about fields in Salesforce or marketing automation in that definition, but you can elaborate to include the more technical details if desired. However I think it’s important to at least begin with the more philosophical view before diving into the tactical definitions of how things work in your systems. The fact is that individuals bring their own preconceived notions of how things should work based on past experience and intuition, and without being clear about the words you use and what the mean, the chances of misalignment grow.

Other types of terminology you should consider adding to your go-to-market glossary: definitions of verticals, internal departments / functions, other types of customer segmentation you use (like the difference between, SMB, mid market and Enterprise customers), common internal acronyms and industry vernacular specific to your companies business. In your first version don’t worry too much about getting everything included, as you can always add more to it later if need be. Better done than perfect applies here.

Besides the benefit of aligning internal departments, your newly drafted go-to-market glossary will also serve as a very valuable resource for new hires. I suggest adding it in as a key document to any new hire presentations or training you might provide, and distribute the link to all current employees as well, of course asking for feedback and suggestions if additional areas should be added. Like any living document, you will need to pay attention to keeping it up to date and adding new terms as needed.

Embrace the whitespace

How often do you hear from a colleague that they wish they had more time in the day to get work done? I hear that refrain constantly, and admittedly also say it more often than I’d like. Your coworkers don’t actually want more time, they want more productive time, and by extension less meetings.

I had to connect with a colleague of mine recently over a very important, time sensitive topic. The urgency of this was real because there was an external deadline and some serious consequences for missing it. I say that because almost all other deadlines and milestones set are usually done internally and somewhat arbitrarily. When trying to find a joint time to meet, this colleague’s calendar looked like this:

Now that’s not the worst I have seen, but it made it super hard to find a time to connect. I had already set up the purpose of the conversation with an email (having escalated the urgency) so they knew why I wanted to meet, but I had to then go back and ask them to tell me what time was OK and they had to move things around to meet. Nothing in that calendar you see above indicates any time of prioritization or urgency; as far as I know every single meeting scheduled could have been more urgent than mine, or totally pointless chit-chat. I realize that it’s kind of absurd for me to start a blog post about the important of white space with a story about scheduling a meeting, but the point I’m trying to make is that I had an objectively urgent matter that needed to be discussed, and the challenge in finding time with the one individual that could help resolve it due to the other meetings on the books. As a colleague of mine used to say, “When everything is urgent, nothing is urgent”.

When I was early in my career, I saw being busy as a signal of being productive and important. I observed senior contributors and managers hustling from meeting to meeting, taking working lunches, and speaking in clipped, stressed voices, emphasizing the urgency of whatever it was they were focused on. There was a senior executive who even had this sign outside of his office with different cartoon faces, ranging from happy (it was never turned to this) to the red ‘angry face’. There was even one with a skull and crossbones, which I interpreted as imminent death to anyone who dared disturb him. As I advanced in seniority, I of course also followed many of these behaviors because, well, I thought that’s what you just did. I delighted in scheduling (and participating in) meetings, having early and late calls, and never taking more than 20 minutes for lunch. The feeling of productivity was there, and I seemed to be rewarded with raises and promotions, but what I can’t say is weather my performance had a particularly high level, or if it was mostly the perception of my performance. A key metric I shared during a self-review was the number of calls I had done over the course of a year as if that in and of itself was an achievement worthy of praise.

Now that I’m a lot older and hopefully slightly wiser, I realize how counterproductive it is to fill your work days so completely. If anything, the situation is even worse these days with distributed work forces and the ease of online meetings. Less than 10 years ago I distinctly recall having to talk to several executive assistants and have them each look through physical calendars to set up a big meeting — today anyone at the office can ‘grab time’ from someone at anytime by putting a calendar invite in. As a result everyone is forever hustling from meeting to meeting, always showing up a few minutes late because of being back to back, and never really focusing on the topic at hand because they are still trying to process the previous discussion. Layer in omnipresent laptops in conference rooms, instant messaging like Slack with its never-ending notifications, always-connected mobile devices and you have an environment where everyone seems busy all the time, but aren’t accomplishing enough. I see a lot of noise being generated which feels like work, but isn’t necessarily helping us accomplish our objectives.

I’d like to be in this meeting! via GIPHY

How do we get to a better place? By treating the white space on our calendars not as unproductive time to be scheduled over, but as time to focus and get work done and also reflect on the key challenges we’re facing. Paul Graham, has a very popular piece about the Maker vs Manager schedule — I mostly agree with what he says, but I think a key difference now is that everyone has fallen into that Manager schedule and there’s not much value seen in time unscheduled. I believe we all need to push back on this and recognize that even for senior leaders whose time is at an absolute premium there is a lot of value in having large blocks of white space in the calendar.

In order to get more white space time each day, we first need to realize that we are all part of the problem. We’ve made it super easy to schedule meetings and take each other’s time, but there are many other ways to work effectively besides meeting face to face. There’s not a whole lot of discussion these days of asynchronous vs synchronous work thanks to the always-on culture but we really need to revisit how workers can and should engage each other, and which tools work best for different types of work. Before scheduling that next meeting, think about what you are trying to accomplish, how it might be accomplished, and consider if a face-to-face meeting is the best way to achieve the objective. Could you craft a well thought out email with specific questions that an individual could address? If you have a question could you research and find the answer yourself without taking your colleagues time?

The second way to reduce meeting time is to guard your own time a lot more fiercely. This is very very hard to do in the modern workforce! Do meetings have specific goals and a defined agenda, is there clear ownership of follow-up items, is the meeting time and duration respected? You have to demand the quality bar for what constitutes a meeting rises to the point that you won’t take meetings unless they meet that threshold. And even then you have to be prepared to say no to meetings when there’s not clear value in it. Always reject meetings with titles like ‘catch-up’, ‘discuss’, ‘connect’ with no additional context, unless you genuinely just want to chat with someone with no expectation of making any work progress. I’ve always been amazed at how focused someone will be on taking up your time with a meeting but when you are unavailable they somehow can figure out whatever it is they needed help with.

The third aspect of evolving away from the meeting culture is empowerment of individuals to be able to make decisions and move forward without the consent of a huge group. This one I find is more challenging in Silicon Valley’s collaborative, open culture where opinions from team members of all experience levels and seniority are often welcomed and encouraged. That’s not a bad thing, per se, and is one of the things I like most about working at a tech company. What does culture have to do with meetings and getting more time? I find that in flatter organizations without clear lines of decision making, consensus is often built through a series of meetings with various stakeholders, often reviewing more or less the same content, until a clear consensus is achieved and people can move forward. It is very important to be transparent, but managers and senior leaders are paid more because they have more responsibility and accountability, and shouldn’t be afraid to make a decision. Dithering is extremely costly, both in the direct cost of having people meet more then they have to, as well as the opportunity cost of keeping your team in second gear while they await a decision. If you empower your employees and make sure they understand they are accountable to take smart risks when it comes to important decisions (and of course allow them to seek guidance when needed) you’ll find your calendar slowly freeing up as people do the work rather than talk about doing the work.

Next Monday when you are reviewing your work week and see the endless color bands of meetings in your calendar, take a step back to think about how you can add more white space to your week. It’s well worth it!

 

What is Growth Marketing?

What is Growth Marketing? Its a topic I’ve written about in the past, specifically around the keys to hiring the right talent. All of my working life is devoted to this topic, as a result I often forget how fresh and new growth marketing still is for many people out there!

Recently, I was asked if I would teach an online course focusing on the basics of growth marketing for folks who are interested but completely unfamiliar. That was a really fun process and something new for me — what I realized is that I had never properly done an introduction to the growth marketing concept. This post should serve as a starting point for anyone who has asked the question, what is growth marketing?

Traditional Marketing

The most popular college major is Business/Management, and a large portion of these specialize in Marketing, or at the very least take Marketing classes. Despite this, in my personal experience most professionals who end up as marketers don’t have much academic experience in Marketing. While I am a believer that most useful knowledge relevant to work is learned on the job, I also believe it’s very helpful to understand some core ‘traditional’ marketing concepts nailed down before diving deep into growth marketing.

The American Marketing Association is a great resource for anyone interested in learning about Marketing. The define the practice of Marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” This is a good starting point for understanding what Marketing is.

The next big concept to understand about traditional marketing is The Four P’s. This concept was popularized by Professor Jerome McCarthy in a classic text from 1960 called Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach. There are countless resources out there that can go into depth around each of the 4 P’s, but suffice it to say it’s important to understand that marketing centers around the mix of Product, Price, Promotion, and Place, as it relates to the target market you are trying to serve. The marketing mix idea is simple to understand, but incredibly complex to execute well. Simply put as a marketer your job is to put the right product in the right place, at the right time, and at the right price.

Note: you will also sometimes see similar models that include 7 P’s or 4 C’s. The basic concept around the marketing mix is the same.

 

marketing mix
Marketing Mix

 

What is Growth Marketing?

Now that we’re done with the basic marketing refresher I’m sure you want to know, well… What is Growth Marketing? Here’s how I define it:

Growth Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for growing an audience, community or customer base in a dynamic market with resource constraints.

As this is a relatively new area, you’ll likely find a lot of different definitions from experts in the field – at this point no one is wrong, and in fact, you might end up making up your own definition! I will share my view on it and you can form your own opinion.

Let’s break down my definition of what is growth marketing:

…the activity, set of institutions, and processes

This is the system of work for doing the marketing, the same as the marketing definition from the AMA I included above. I used the same start for the sake of consistency and also to make it easier to compare/contrast, but it’s a bit formal sounding. The point is, this is the ‘what you do’ part of growth marketing.

…growing an audience, community or customer base…

This is important because whereas traditional marketing tends to have a consumer focus on delivering a product to your target market and leading to purchase, in modern growth marketing you are more focused on growing your audience. The monetization (sale) aspect is important of course, but usually is not be the primary focus when you are in growth mode. There are some really big recent examples of growth companies that were very highly valued because of the happy base of users they built up, without trying to get them to pay anything. In fact, the modern consumer expects to get something for free from any product they are considering, and are highly resistant to paying until the value has been demonstrated. Also, due to the power of the network (which I discuss below) a lot of products have a lot more value when the network using them reaches a certain critical mass, so the focus should be on rapidly growing the base rather than selling something.

…in a dynamic market with resource constraints.

One of the cornerstones of growth marketing is taking a ‘scrappy’ approach and being flexible to the changing market you are operating within. When you are in growth mode your company likely doesn’t have millions of dollars to commit to a massive marketing campaign, and because the market itself is probably evolving fairly rapidly you need to use scarcity to your advantage and look for ways to engage your audience without pushing out messages super broadly. Often times, you won’t even be operating in a well defined market because the product is so new and unique! Be prepared to move fast, test things on a small scale, and go big when you find success.

Growth Marketing Principles

How do you go from definition to practice? I propose to supplement the ‘traditional’ marketing 4 P’s with a set of concepts for how to think about the growth side of marketing. Because I am a marketer first and foremost, I had to come up with my own clever naming convention, so I stuck with the P’s alliteration. In this case, I wouldn’t call this the growth marketing mix, rather I use this as a set of principles to align to.

The growth marketing principles are:

  • Power of the Network
  • Push vs Pull
  • Proving
  • Personality

What is growth marketing

Each one of these principles deserves its own article or series of articles, but I’ll start with basic summaries for now.

Power of the Network

Simply the value of a product or service is increased by the number of others using it. This is the power of the network. Facebook famously has more users than any one country in the world – with a little investment of time and sometimes money, any marketer can reach a vast number of people. Of course, others know that too and online audiences are fickle, so you are always fighting for eyeballs and attention. At the end of the day, the product that gets the most interest (if it does indeed deliver the right value for the audience) wins.

Push vs Pull

Push vs Pull could be confusing, but it boils down to a simple concept. You push out your marketing messages (like the ‘promotion P’ from McCarthy’s mix) but you also want a pull where your audience actually finds you and seeks you out. The easiest way to draw people in is through solving a problem via the product, or just making something better than it was before, and appealing to the network to distribute your message. That way you are amplifying the impact of your messages without additional effort. Sometimes you will hear this referred to as inbound vs outbound, where outbound tends to be using money to distribute your message to the desired audience. In my experience it’s very rare to see a high-growth company exceed without a mix of both – the exact mix is very dependant on the organization, the product, the competitive environment, and so forth.

Proving

Marketing is famously difficult to measure, but it’s getting easier and easier thanks to digital tools and technologies available to us. Modern marketing technologies such as Google Analytics and marketing automation platforms allow marketers to see their results in real-time and compare different messages and formats to determine to continuously optimize. A core principle of Growth Marketing is measuring the right things to be able to see where the biggest impact is in terms of money and effort spent, and to continue and increase efforts where successful, and reduce or eliminate those that are not. Growth marketers use the proof of the results to decide where to invest time and money in future endeavours.

Personality

The Personality of modern brands is hugely important, but is also one of the toughest concepts to think about academically, because it depends so much on the tastes of your audience. The core idea is that a brand must be relatable, and behave more and more like a friend you know and trust, rather than a massive, faceless organization. Brands can be relatable by making sure they appeal to their audience and the aspirational qualities they might have. The esiest example here is Apple – almost everyone that owns or uses Apple products or has been in an Apple Store knows this brand personality is strong. In fact, Apple is the most valuable brand in the world. This is because their core audience places such a high value on the products, specifically the aspiration of what those products can do for them. If you are a designer, it might invoke images of effortlessly creating prototypes. If you are a music producer, you are thinking of mixing songs on your MacBook pro in the studio.

Traditional Marketing vs. Growth Marketing

Traditional Marketing Growth Marketing
-Careful research, planning and execution
-Stable markets
-Large budgets
-Marketing at scale
-Time to measure
-Long campaign cycle
-Rapid hypothesis creation and deployment
-Dynamic markets
-Low cost
-Personal marketing
-Real-time results
-Iterate and improve

 

Applying Growth Marketing

There are 4 keys to keep in mind in applying a growth mindset to your yourself, your immediate team, or your broader organization:

  • Always deliver value,
  • Go fast but start small
  • Scale with success
  • Listen to your customers

Growth marketers always deliver value, by showing clear progress against a defined goal or objective. Progress in this case could be learning what doesn’t work so you can apply that knowledge and improve, so it doesn’t just mean being successful. The point is to make sure your efforts are focused on a measurable end result that will help you grow now or in the future.

Go fast and start small: thanks to the agility of modern technology, it’s easier than ever for individuals to create a hypothesis, then go to market and execute at a small scale to test it. In fact, you can have a series of hypotheses about any given challenge, and then test each one in turn, learning from each and then applying that knowledge. The important thing is to not wait until you have the perfect plan, because no plan is perfect and you never know how the market will react. The key is to test things in the market as quickly as possible to get feedback and improve.

Scale with success relates in a big way to the ‘go fast and small’ approach above. Once you have found some indicators of success, then you can scale your idea or program to capture as much value as possible. You’ll often hear marketers talk about doing A/B tests, where they test two things like ad copy or an email subject line against each other with a small sample, and then launch a marketing program using the winner with a much larger sample.

Lastly, always listen to your customers, both internally and externally. While it’s great to use data and analytics for an impartial view measuring the success of what you are attempting, you cannot lost sight of the individuals and the perception you have, whether it’s yourself or your company brand. Make sure you don’t just keep your head in spreadsheets and technology, but pull up to survey your audience to see how they are reacting to your growth efforts, and apply that feedback to what you are doing.

If you keep these keys in mind while attempting to adopt a growth attitude, you are much more likely to find success.

Hopefully this post helped to answer the question “What is Growth Marketing?” and provides a conceptual framework anyone can apply within their teams or organization. As always, feedback is welcome!

Sleep and Productivity – why it’s so important

Sleep is a fundamental physiological need for humans, and forms the base of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid. But we as a society don’t get enough sleep. We stay up all night studying, partying, texting, watching Netflix. Going without sleep carries both short and long term health consequences. Lack of sleep can affect judgement, mood, ability to learn, ability to retain new information, and may increase your risk for injury. That’s just in the short term. Long term sleep deprivation carries chronic health problems like depression, obesity, and diabetes. And studies have indicated that sleep-disordered breathing in adults can be associated with impaired cognitive function. These, in turn, can contribute to poor work performance, accidents and injuries, and a decrease in quality of life. Sleep and productivity and correlated strongly.

One of the most interesting but deadly proof points for the dangers of sleep deprivation happens by design once a year in the United States. In the Monday following Daylight Savings Time ‘spring forward’, there are noticed increases in heart attacks and driving accidents   – a fine but sad example of how bad sleep deprivation actually can be. The time change causes shifts in our internal clock and researchers have found that when the clocks change, peoples’ sleep cycles are interrupted just enough that they tend to be drowsy.  The general idea is that subtle enough changes occur in sleep patterns and circadian rhythms that can affect your alertness in just that one hour of difference.

Sleep deprivation also has an economic impact as well. Mathew Gibson and Jeffrey Scrader studied how cities on different edges of time zones see an impact as well. They found that permanently increasing sleep by an hour per week for everybody in a city increases the wages in that location by about 4.5%. All else being equal, getting more sleep is better for your mind, body, and wallet!

History of Sleep Patterns

Sleep patterns have definitely changed over the course of human history. Until the invention of the electric light bulb, we got up with the sun and spent our evenings sitting by candlelight.  Now, most of us spend our days bathed in artificial light.  Total darkness is a thing of the past. Have you ever gotten up in the middle of the night and noticed how light your house actually is? Many electronics now emit a glow, including laptops, TVs, and even electric toothbrushes.  The end of waking with the sun and going to sleep when dark out is having serious ramifications on our ability to get a good night’s sleep.

Other changes have been affected by the invention of the electric lightbulb.  Being able to light up the world all night long helped build the big cities, helped us with technology, and gave us an all nightlife. A move to the city and away from agricultural jobs means we our connected almost 24/7 with emails and text messages. We love our devices, but artificial nighttime lighting decreases our duration of sleep and affects the type of sleep we get, which we’ve learned can affect our total health. What I’m most concerned with, though, is how lack of sleep negatively impacts personal productivity, as sleep and productivity are strongly linked.

Sleep and Productivity

We know that sleep is good for your brain, but new research shows that sleep deprivation can lead to fatigue-related productivity losses, which in turn can cost an employer $1,967 per employee per year. Not getting enough sleep impairs your brain functions.  It slows your ability to process information, kills your creativity, and increases your stress levels.  When you sleep, your brain has time to remove toxic proteins that are a build-up of normal neural activity during the day. When you don’t get enough sleep, those toxic proteins remain, wreaking havoc on your ability to think and having long-term career impacts. But, it’s not enough just to get a full eight hours of sleep a night — you need quality, uninterrupted sleep.  You need to afford yourself adequate time to fall into a deep sleep because this is where your brain is working, making connections from your day, and clearing out that toxic junk.

If you aren’t getting enough nighttime sleep, think about trying to fit in a nap. Even a short, 15 minute nap, can give you a rest and help restore wakefulness which promotes performance and learning. Naps offer several benefits including improved mood, increased logical reasoning and reaction time. Increase sleep and productivity improves, even if it’s a small amount.

Why it’s so hard to sleep well

Modern life isn’t necessarily easier than it was when we woke up with the sun and went to bed with the moon. We are stressed, there are deadlines, mile long to-do lists, and family obligations. But these aren’t the only reasons you and me and everyone you know is having trouble sleeping.

Too much caffeine or alcohol during the day can cause jitters. Too much light in your bedroom at night or the wrong temperature can affect one’s sleep patterns. Winding down with television or your tablet sounds nice, but artificial light from screens can affect our brain’s functioning, making it to harder to fall asleep. Being stressed out is a huge factor in our sleeping lives.  When you’re feeling stress, it triggers internal survival systems – your adrenal glands release hormones that keep you amped up and struggling to snooze. Obviously the best outcome would be completely eliminating stress, anxiety, to-dos and deadlines from your life, but  assuming that isn’t happening anytime soon, how can you put away your worries for the night to fall asleep and stay asleep?

Turn off disruptions to sleep well
Turn off disruptions to sleep well

Improving sleep life

As someone who strives for self-improvement, the impact of poor sleep and productivity are pretty scary. But what can you actually do about it? Here are 11 tips I think can help you improve

1. Consistent sleep routine

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on the weekends, helps set your internal clock and gives your body a consistency it craves. When your brain and body acclimates to this new routine, it can move through the sleep cycle easily, gradually releasing hormones to help you wake up feeling rested, alert, and ready to start your day with an improved mood than if you had to drag yourself out of bed feeling tired and cranky.

2. Relax before bed

Have a nighttime routine that includes restful activities starting at least one hour before bed. This could include a bath, reading a book, meditating or doing some sort of relaxation practice, or journaling. Avoid stressful or stimulating activities if at all possible.  For folks who lose track of time at night and then realize it’s later than they though, employing a bedtime alarm can help remind you to start the sleep cycle, especially if this is a new practice for you and you’re trying to change your hours. Everyone has their own ways to relax – do use whatever works best for you to get comfortable and ready to sleep.

3. Lay off the (bad) substances

Caffeine is a stimulant and can keep you awake, so avoid coffee, teas, chocolate, and sodas at least four hours before bedtime. There are decaffeinated versions of all of the above to help you get your fix. Alcohol might seem like it’s helping you by making you sleepy, but after a few hours it acts like a stimulant and can increase the amount of nighttime awakenings and ruin the amount of REM sleep you get.  Therefore, it’s best to limit alcohol consumption and try not to drink within a few hours of bedtime.

4. The sound of silence

Noises can interrupt quality sleep, even when it doesn’t necessarily wake you up. If you are in a noisy environment like a city, consider using earplugs or noise cancelling headphones. I personally use the various sleep playlists available on Spotify if I need to block out other sounds.

5. Put up your electronic ‘do not disturb’ sign

If you can turn off notifications altogether, the better, but at least turn them off or use nighttime mode on your phones during sleep hours so you can rest uninterrupted.  The key here is to eliminate any interruptions that are under your control. So if you have loud neighbors, wear earplugs, or to limit friends buzzing you too late, put your phone either on silent or use apps to keep certain people from being able to disturb you. Most phones come with a Do Not Disturb mode that you can turn on during certain nighttime hours to shut out the disturbance.

6. Turn off other electronics

Short-wavelength blue light, which most electronics emit, plays an important role in your mood, energy level, and quality of sleep. As the sun goes down, so does our ability to handle the blue light that naturally occurs during the day, and we become sensitive to it, especially when it’s very bright and in our face – like when you’re staring at your phone, tablet, or laptop. This exposure impairs melatonin production and can interfere with your body’s ability to sleep well.  The best thing to do is to avoid these devices after dinner, let your body’s sleep cycle get back to it’s natural processing to help with your sleep.

7. Track your sleep patterns

Using a fitness tracking device, like a FitBit, to track how long you sleep and the quality of sleep you’re actually getting might give you some patterns to look at, some habits that you might have control over – like drinks, meals, sleep and wake times, and other activities that might be affecting your sleep during the day. These trackers use a sensor, called an accelerometer, to detect motion along with the direction and speed of the motion.  When the tracker realizes that the person hasn’t moved in over an hour, the algorithm assumes you are asleep. Your morning movements, such as rolling over or walking, tells the device you’re awake and it records your sleep patterns.

8. Herbs, teas, and other natural sleep aids

Natural sleep remedies might be useful to try if you don’t want to take prescribed sleep medication. One simple thing you can try is herbal tea. Not only is drinking a hot cup of tea before bed relaxing in and of itself, but certain herbs have been found to increase sleepiness, like Chamomile, Lavender, Lemon Balm, and Peppermint.

Other natural things you can try are melatonin, St. John’s Wort, and herbal supplements.  Melatonin is a hormone your body already produces which plays a key role in regulating your internal body clock.  St. John’s Wort is most commonly used as an antidepressant, but since worry and stress are common reasons why people can’t sleep, it makes sense to utilize as a sleep aid. Other herbal supplements can be taken in lieu of over-the-counter or prescribed sleep medication, like Sominex Herbal, for example.

9. Meditation and yoga

Many people who meditate during the evening report that it has improved the quality of their sleep. Meditation helps quiet your mind, giving space to breathe and think clearer about things. It gives you a way to let your day go, as it were, and can help make an environment of peace before settling down to sleep. If you want to give mindfulness a try, you can try apps for your phone like Headspace or Insight Timer.

Yoga can have similar effects with the added benefit of being good exercise for your body.  By lowering your stress levels with certain yoga poses, you can relieve the tension in your body and soothe the mind.  This practice can be an effective natural sleep remedy, particularly helpful in combating restfulness, anxiety, and insomnia.

10. Journaling your way to better sleep

Journaling is often not something you would think about as an anxiety reduction tool, but it can be surprisingly effective. Writing down your thoughts at the end of the day gives you an opportunity to get your feelings out on paper, in a safe space, a place where no one is going to judge you. It’s always available and can give you a much needed outlet for frustrations, worry, and stress. Journaling might not cure your stress and anxiety, but it will make sleeping with stress easier. Sleeping with a notebook next to your bed is also a best practice — if you get any brilliant ideas in the middle of the night, write them down so you don’t feel like you have to remember them.

11. Lay off the heavy meals and bedtime snacks

Eating that jumbo slice of pepperoni pizza at 10pm sounds awesome, and might make you drowsy at first, but it won’t help your sleep or your health through the night. Heavy foods close to bedtime can cause indigestion, heartburn, gas, or just an increase of discomfort that will have you tossing and turning or waking up altogether.

A light bedtime snack, with adequate protein and carbohydrates could be recommend, if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night hungry. Otherwise, try to finish most meals at least 2 hours before your normal bedtime.

CONCLUSION

As you have seen, sleep deprivation is commonplace in modern society and it can have dire effects on your productivity, your mood, and your health.  It’s far reaching effects on your cognitive performance can have consequences at work and at home.  Sleep better – you’ll feel better and perform better.

Best Ways to Multitask – 5 Tips for Increasing Productivity

You probably clicked on this article thinking you were going to unleash on me for writing about multitasking. After all, it’s been shown in many different studies and rehashed on blogs and news articles that multitasking doesn’t work. And while I agree that most forms of multitasking are actually continuous partial attention, I’ve noticed that highly productive people have managed to figure out the best ways to multitask and increase their productivity. If you want to find some pockets of time to learn something new, get a few more business calls in, or just relax then read on to learn more about the best ways to multitask.

Best Ways to Multitask

  1. Maximize your commute

Unless you WFH every day, you’re using some portion of your time to commute to work. While commuting is just terrible for you overall, whether driving or using public transportation, it IS prime time to do some other things. Listening to podcasts is a perfect example of being able to do two things at once, and something easily done while driving or on a bus or train, even when packed in like sardines. If you take public transit, of course you can read magazines, books, blog articles but I’ve found one of the best ways to multitask is by doing something you usually wouldn’t consider – why not use that time to learn a foreign language? Thanks to Duolingo, which is designed for quick bursts of language learning and has a great smart phone app for your phone or tablet, this is entirely possible. Or if you prefer the classic method, you can pick up foreign language downloads and play them in the car. My personal favorite is to download MP3’s digitally from my local library. I can brush up my Español when I want and it’s completely free! If you are driving yourself, no one has to listen to you (and your bad accent) while learning either.

If you commute by car, you can schedule phone calls while driving. Call friends that you’ve been meaning to talk to, or business calls that can be done during commuting hours. This works especially well if you work with team members in other parts of the country or world who may have different work times. If you don’t want to have a full conversation, but want to stay connected, use an app like Voxer – where you can basically send voice text messages to your contacts. What’sApp also allows you to communicate via voice rather than type out your message. Just remember – safety first here. I find it’s much easier (and safer) to do a personal call to a friend or loved one that attempt a business call that requires concentration, even when using a hands-free device. And absolutely do NOT text or attempt a call unless it’s using a hands-free device.

  1. Get fit, mentally and physically

Similar to commuting time, when you are working out you have a prime chunk of time to listen to podcasts, watch TV shows you haven’t had time for, or listen to audio books – either that juicy novel you’ve been wanting to read or use the time for non-fiction learning.  And if you have a tablet, you can even watch videos on an app like Udemy to continue your studies or learn a new hobby while you’re on the elliptical.

One of my favorite best ways to multitask is by combining #1 and #2 above and commuting while working out – a solid two-for-one! If you can swing it, running or biking or walking are all amazing ways to get your heart rate up and get you to work at the same time. You’ll need to plan ahead of course, making sure you have fresh clothes, a place to shower, etc, but once you’ve done it a time or two it’s actually much easier than it sounds. For me, living in a dense urban environment like San Francisco, it’s much more enjoyable than taking a crowded bus to work.

  1. Sleeping time

You’ve probably heard of people listening to language or other kinds of self-improvement tapes while sleeping. Did you know this actually works — research has shown it is possible to learn while sleeping.  It’s extremely helpful in learning a second language for instance. There have been reports of students recording lectures and playing them as they fall asleep to remember the lesson without memorizing paper or electronic notes.

And if you’re trying to improve specific areas or break a bad habit (or two) hypnosis can help there too.  According to this NBC news article hypnosis can overwrite parts of your brain to trigger improved sets of behaviors. It’s definitely something to look into if there are any areas of your life you’d like to get better at (or if you want to kick your smoking or chocolate habit).

Best Ways to Multitask
Can you really multitask?

  1. Tiny unplanned-for pockets of time

Are you running errands?  Having to stand in line at the bank or pharmacy?  If you know you’ll have these microscopic pockets of time, then have your to-do list ready.  Can you batch all your texting to this time? Can you send emails?  Can you make a quick phone call?  Make sure you keep a list of these kinds of task and have them handy and ready for when you need to wait for any reason. One of my favorite apps is Pocket (so aptly named!), which allows you to save website articles to read later. Catching up in my favorite blogs is a great way to pass a small bit of time.

  1. Manufacturing more time

Want to give yourself more time?  No, I don’t have a time machine….yet….but I have the next best thing.  I have a Virtual Assistant.  Okay, so she’s not the TARDIS, but she does help me.  I know this isn’t true multitasking, but it is a big productivity boost that I think most people could take advantage of. I use my VA to outsource certain tasks I don’t need to personally do – like internet research, social media management tasks, etc. This can free up big chunks of time in my week.  My personal preference is TimeEtc, although these days there are many different options for virtual assistants.

So, in summation you should avoid multitasking as a general rule, but I’ve found the things I talked about above are the best ways to multitask, and will help you increase productivity, free up time for other work, and let you find some much needed time during your everyday activities for learning, entertainment, and fun.

The Power of Being Connected in Marketing

If you’ve read my post on the PHACE framework, you might recall the C stands for Connected. It also happens to be a core value at New Relic. That’s not a coincidence – I’ve seen the power of this value in action. For me, being connected isn’t the same as being extroverted. You can have introverts who are connected, and extroverts who aren’t. I look for folks that demonstrate the willingness to connect with others: certainly they need to connect with colleagues in your marketing team, and also elsewhere within your organization (Sales, Finance, IT, etc). The value in connectedness is not purely social. What being connected does is provide an amplifying effect for your employees and by extension the entire marketing team. By being able to make (and keep) connections and establish deep, mutually beneficial relationships, each employee is adding man and womanpower to their own abilities.

This isn’t limited to internal connections either. It’s important to seek out the kinds of employees that are eager to network externally and attend conferences, technology user groups, and other local events to broaden their knowledge and network. Much as Metcalfe’s Law applies to telecommunications networks, the power of any individual’s network is amplified exponentially with more connections. On the Marketing team at New Relic, there is a clear expectation that we support individuals attending external events. We only ask that folks create and present a summary afterwards to recap key takeaways of the conference and specifically how we’d apply those takeaways to New Relic. This has led to some of the most important innovations that we’ve applied on our marketing team.

Metcalfe's Law - being connected
Metcalfe’s Law

 

Think about it this way – if you’re having operational issues between Marketing and Sales systems do you want to turn to a competent, but silo-ed team member, or someone who has made meaningful connections with others in the organization (and externally)? Even the most skilled individual will hit a limit in what they can do on their own — someone less experienced but better connected will not only usually be able to make progress on the current initiative(s), but has a higher ceiling over the long haul because their skills are amplified by the power of their network. I’ve observed that high performers often seek out others proactively to help them achieve their goals, that is they value being connected intrinsically, but it’s also a trait you can encourage and develop in those who don’t do it naturally.

How to encourage being connected as a value within your team:

  • Ask employees each year to put together a prioritized wish list of events and conferences they would ideally like to attend. Have them list them out by location and date, and state the anticipated business value of attending. Support them attending as many as are reasonable – I’d say 2-3 is about right. By planning ahead it’s easier to make it happen.
  • Create a list of the people you’d ideally like to have lunch or a drink with over the next few months – people you most admire in the industry for instance, and share it with your team. As you meet those folks, make sure to share details of the conversation. Demonstrate how beneficial it can be.
  • When new employees start within Marketing, make it a habit to meet them even if they aren’t a part of your individual team. At the end of the one-on-one, give them a list of the other folks they should meet with, trying your best to think of colleagues they might not meet naturally. By doing this you give them an ‘excuse’ to meet others and make connections that could be helpful in the future. If you are starting new somewhere, make sure you ask that question of people you meet with during onboarding. Your goal should be to come out of every conversation with at least 3 other folks you need to meet.

Bottom-line: being Connected is a win-win for employee and employer. I can’t really say it better than Reid Hoffman in The Alliance: “growing their professional networks helps employees transform their career; employee networking helps the company transform itself.”

Sales Marketing Alignment Best Practices

Sales Marketing Alignment is a hugely (and always) important, yet contentious focus area for Marketers. Sirius Decisions has shown that companies that maintain a focus on company alignment achieve up to 19 percent faster revenue growth, and 15 percent higher profitability than other companies. While it is becoming more prevalent to work on aligning the two functions within a company and is a topic that’s frequently covered at marketing conferences and on webinars, I’m often left unsatisfied with the lack of actionable recommendations to improve alignment.  Based on my experience as an adviser and marketer, I have put together some of the techniques I’ve seen drive improved go-to-market alignment within organizations.

1. Communication

The first key to Sales Marketing alignment is communication. Bringing these two functions together will be a continual effort — while there is some foundational work that needs to be done, the players change and the relationship is always evolving. Often the first step is the hardest – reaching out to your counterparts in Sales and starting to engage to figure out how who you need to align with, and on what level. Start with casual conversations between Marketing and Sales leaders (coffee outside the office is always a good option) and then start to formalize the relationship with regularly scheduled check-ins. While it’s crucial that alignment starts at the top, at the exec level, you actually need all levels of the organization to be connected to their colleagues on the other side of the fence. Marketing Ops Analysts need to be connected to Sales Ops Analysts, and so forth.

2. Joint Training

Another method to improve Sales Marketing alignment that isn’t employed nearly enough is combined team training or coaching. It’s best not to do this as a two-hour webinar, but rather in-person interactive group training. As Heidi Bullock, VP of Demand Generation at Marketo, mentions in her webinar ‘Sales and Marketing Alignment Tips’ the amount and type of training you implement is incredibly important. On the webinar she mentions a study where companies that went from two days of training annually to ten plus days annually of combined sales and marketing training saw an increase of 29% more business from new logos for sales. While sales and marketing training alone did have some positive outcomes it wasn’t as effective as combined group training. This just goes to show that jointly investing in your personnel can lead to excellent returns and better alignment.

3. Go To Market Glossary

Another best practice, and one that is rarely done effectively, is aligning around the vernacular of the business by moving from a spoken to written culture. When sales and marketing teams do not speak the exact same language, the amount of misinformation that can flow back and forth is astounding. The solution for this is simple but yet rarely employed: building out a Go-To-Market Glossary. Most organizations spend a lot of time on joint definitions around leads, or they might go a bit further and define all the various funnel stages, but they usually don’t go far enough. What organizations really need is a codex far beyond the formal definition of what qualifies as a lead, and gets in to things like product definitions, explains the acronyms and terminology used by the different teams, the selling motions, etc. This way there is a reference document that can always be referred to and reduce confusion from the respective teams. Some of the things that are difficult to achieve alignment on will surprise you – for instance, I’ve had hours long discussions trying to nail down the difference between ‘inbound’ and ‘outbound’ sales activities. Without common understanding of the key vernacular in the business, you end up wasting so much time and effort (and can even lead to angry conversations) because you are using similar words to refer to different things entirely.

4. Sales Marketing Alignment Metrics

With at least a draft version of your Go-To-Market Glossary in hand, you can really narrow in on the set of common metrics to better align sales and marketing. When creating your shared dashboard, the key thing to focus on is accountability and transparency. As for the actual metrics themselves, it will depend on your business, but some of the most helpful metrics in calculating effectiveness of marketing and sales efforts will be pipeline influence. Pipeline uses the leads generated by marketing and combines it with the estimated value of said lead based on lead close rates and average revenue per sale to give you the potential bookings for a given time period, typically quarterly. However you need to also track leading indicators at the top of the funnel, especially because it can have an impact in future quarters, depending on the length of your Sales cycle. Reach is a metric that is fairly self explanatory but I don’t see it tracked and shared with Sales enough. Reach is the inventory of people you can reach with your marketing such as social media followers, email newsletter subscribers, folks in various funnel stages, free users of your product, etc.

 

Of course when it comes to quantitative metrics, your key component will be qualified leads, based on the common lead definitions agreed upon between sales and marketing. This must be put on a common dashboard for sales and marketing leaders to review at least weekly, but preferably something update real-time. Ideally you want this to live in your CRM, through dashboards to help everyone easily stay on the same page and up to date with accurate data, but as long as the data is regularly refreshed and available to everyone in sales and marketing, it will be something to align around.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 8.28.12 AM

 

People often ask me, “How do you know when you have achieved Sales Marketing Alignment?” – well the smartass answer is that if Sales and Marketing leaders are meeting every single day and there is nothing to talk about and everything is going perfectly, TA-DA! you have achieved alignment. The reality is that never happens because healthy, growing businesses always have tension in the system, and that’s not a bad thing. What Marketing has to do is embrace the tension and move it forward positively. By focusing on communication, joint training, common written definitions, and shared metrics, you can build a solid relationship and win together. After all, no one is happy and high-fiving if Sales isn’t successful, so it’s up to you to do your part to align with them and ensure that success.