Sunday, November 29, 2009


Dear Community,

This morning I went to Wal-mart with my mom. I'm leaving for Dublin today and was in need of underwear because I have a packing problem and always bring useless crap instead of things like socks and underwear. As in, I bought 4 pairs of running shorts (for Dublin in the middle of winter) and 2 pairs of underwear for a 10 day trip. Im an idiot.

Anyway. Here I am in the underwear isle there trying to decide if I wanted hot pink with stripes or teal with Hawaiian flowers (what happened to white?), something neat happened. All of the Wal-mart employees gathered and then some manager looking type (and by that I mean she was wearing a fake tie with her vest) started reading off Wal-mart sales information. Pharmacy was up by 14%, liquor was up by 7, floral by 3. People seemed eager to how their department had done. When manager type announced that the Miley Cirus line was up 23%, a women yelled 'I set up those displays'.

And then they did a Wal-mart cheer. As in, high school football, give me a 'W' style. That was weird.

But the meeting itself was really cool. I mean, come on, this is Wal-mart. People there probably don't think about their work as a 'career' but listening to them was a little bit inspiring. It would be easy to treat employees like 40 hour a week labor, but by making them part of the larger mission of the company, it not only motivated them, but it recognized their contribution to the success of the company. For a company that gets tons of flack for being terrible to employees, I was impressed.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Under The Sea

Dear Community,

I think people suffer from "career satuisfaction misatribution". (Maybe, if we all start using this phrase, people will casually throw CSM around at bars "ya total case of CSM- if you know what I mean", and wearing ugly rubber braclets with 'CSM awareness' printed on it- although I think the bracelets would have to be a gross tan color because its pratically the only color left that has not been claimed by some cause).

I digress. The point is, I don't think people understand why they like their jobs. I think most people would say they like their job because its interesting, or because they have a lot of responsibility- and while these are true, I think the reason we always forget is "the people I work with are amazing" (it should also be noted that, when we hate our job, we frequently think to blame lame people, but when we love it, its usally not returned).

Which brings me to these Sea Monkeys. My coworker in the office next to me gave them to me today. I always complain that I don't get mail (probably because I don't order things online) and so he put these in a box and delivered them to me. He actually does these things all the time. And, it wasn't until I was sitting around with all of my friends, complaining about the woos of being in your 20s and having a job that you didn't love- that I realized, these little jestures make me love my job. They really do.

I think we all want to be a part of a community where we feel appreciated- where we feel like people notice when we are not there. This is why people like responsibility- it gives us the chance to show up, do something great and have people notice. But what we forget is that you don't need responsibility to do this- you can just show up. You can let people around you know that you are thinking about them without them asking. And when this happens- its like magic. Magic because there is no apparent motivation, no explanation, its just kind, and for me, this type of kindness feels magical.

So I want to figure out how I can grow this magic in all of my communities. How I can inspire people to be kind and giving without a call or a demand, without a title or an incentive. Because it not only makes your job wonderful, it makes your life wonderful.

So cheesey, but so true.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dear Community,

The AdWords Help Forum just turned one! My friends think its weird that I talk about this online community in the same way that I would my small niece, but they just haven't managed a community before now have they.

To celebrate, I decided the most fitting thing to do would be to bake all of the forum members a cake. So this weekend, I settled on a pumpkin recipe because its fall, and forum kind of sounds like pumpkin, if you really force it:

This makes the cake look gross. But my stand mixer looks good, so I left the picture in.

Into the oven! It should be noted that I put the cake in the oven originally without turning the oven on. I kept thinking, man this is taking a long time to bake....

And it turned out! I frosted the pumpkin cake with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting. And I topped it with a candle- so you are all entitled to one wish. Ready- blow!

I know virtual photo cake is not nearly as delicious as the real thing, but I wanted to do something to thank all of you who helped make this forum grow over the past year. Maybe if you lick your computer screen, you can detect some of the fall flavors. Then again, people might just think you were weird...

Happy Birthday Everyone!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Anything you can do, I can do better

Dear Community,

I know it has been awhile since I posted. I have been busy. First there was the apple- bob competition (which we did blindfolded, after performing bat spins. don't ask), followed by a bake off, paired with a 2 liter soda chugging contest, a pumpkin carving competition and finally a pie eating extravaganza (and by that I mean, how fast can you shovel a pie in your face with no hands).

Its almost embarrassing to tell you this- outside of the bake off and the pumpkin carving, most of the activities make me sound like a crazed freshman in some bad fraternity hazing scheme. But, I'm not gonna lie, it was fun. Mostly because I am really good at chugging 2L of soda. Step right up, I'll take you down, sight unseen. It also turns out Im pretty good a eating pie with my face quickly. Who knew?

Which made me realize, its not so much about the content as it is about the competition. I love to win. If there was a how fast can you ingest plain white paper contest- Id be there. How long can you sit perfectly still on a bench? sounds like a blast. I can't quite figure out why this is. There were no prizes involved (except for the fact that I can remind people of just how fast I am at drinking huge quantities of carbonated soda) so it really is "winning for winning sake".

So, as a community manager, I think I need to create more of these opportunities for users to "win". Because, if you're like me, what starts as a "contentless win" turns into a real affection for the activity. Maybe forum wide soda drinking contests? Ready, go.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dear Community,

I'm a coffee drinker. Im also grossly impatient. If there were two lines- one with 10 people serving the most delcious treat and one with no line serving stale white bread, I would broably choke down the bread. Unless I could be banking online while inline. Which I would never do because I hate those people.

But there are a few exceptions. A bakery. And a coffee place- where I got the coffee pictured left this weekend. Both of them are incredibly slow. As far as I can tell, every employee there is required to have the attitude of 'i am in absolutely no hurry and if there is a 25 person line, I will probably slow down, because i can'. You finally get to the front to order and are sweating and angry and impatient and they give you this really slow smile and then take a good 30 seconds to ask you "what would you like"- which is a serious feat- thats like 7 seconds a word.

But I keep going back. I take my friends there. I tip them. And I have decided its because I know what to expect. You can't go there if you are in a major rush. And, as a result, for the most part, people in line are some of the chiller line waiters out there. And that makes waiting in the line better. Everyon has their first angry sweating experience, and then they either never come back, or they adjust. And take 45 minutes to get a cup of coffee. They bring a book. They chat with the other chill people in line. Hopefully the chat about how we should do away with the word 'chill'.

Its almost like the coffee place has its own little set of community rules. Everone is waiting an exhorbitant amount of time for (really good) coffee, but no one is upset. So the new commers get the idea that this is to be expected and they don't yell. Its the trickel down affect. The employees set a culture which the regulars pick up and pass down to everyone who visits.

At Starbucks, you get a free drink if it takes over 5 minutes. If someone calls corporate to complain about an employee they get fired. And, Im not sure it makes the customer happier- maybe just more entitled. Everyone there is always yelling- especially in the morning- especially if the clientell is wearing an outfit that cost over $250. These are important people who Starbucks makes feel even more important. And important people yell a lot.

My coffee place has decided that they are the important ones. Which is a unique customer service model in an age where everyone is trying to give us exactly what the customer wants. They make delicious coffee. And they know it. And you can wait.

And it would seem they are right. I can.


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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Problem With Incentives

Dear Community,

I really like this talk. It is given by the psychology professor at Swarthmore and I have made everyone in my life watch it. If you invite me over for dinner and there is a lull in the conversation, I will inevitable start in with "I was watching this amazing talk last week..." (this can be awkward when I start to go to dinners with repeat guest who wonder why I watch the video every week). So, if you are looking to sound like a total snob at your next social function (Lets face it 'I was reading this article in the Times' isn't going to cut it anymore), you should check this out. It makes you sound smart....mostly because he has a lot of really smart things to say.

Have a good week,

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Good service.

Dear Community,

My car got towed. Actually, it got towed (and impounded) twice. In 3 weeks. Part of me wants to spend the entire post regaling just how terrible it was (did I mention this happened twice) because Im a sympathy whore, but I'll spare you- don't let this keep you from lavishing the sympathy on though.

What I want to talk about is the people at the auto return place. It works kind of like this: you drive in California with a Colorado drivers license. The police pull you over and tow your car (you walk home). The towing company then takes your car to this third party auto return place where they immediately start charging you exorbitant fees for storage. If you want to get your car back, you go to this place and pay the exorbitant fees.

Which is exactly how I met "Ronald". When I went to pick up my car, he informed me it would $786.43. $786.43! Are you joking? For storing a car? And what the hell is the 43 cents for? The paper for "wait in line till your number is called" ticket?

I can't say I was nice to him. I was actually really mean. As if me yelling at him about how I actually was a great driver, with an impeccable record would cause him to suddenly break down and let me go with a lollipop. No luck. And no lollipop (although, its a great suggestion for a future customer service initiative).

And the truth is, Ronald was really nice about the whole thing. He told me about a similar experience he had driving across the country- which, at the times, being the self centered jerk I am, I responded to with "are-you-serious-this-is-the-worst-thing-that-has-ever-happened-to-anyone-ever-dont-even-try-to-compare-your-little-"accident"-to-my-life-altering-event". Which is too bad, because he was, in hindsight, a really good guy about the whole thing.

But all stories have a happy ending, because, as I explained earlier, my car was towed again a few weeks later. And who was there when I needed to pay another 700? Ronald! And, not wanting to make the same mistake, I was as pleasant as a peach. We were practically like college roommates meeting for a play date with our kids 10 years after graduating.

And here comes that annoying "conclusion" paragraph that is borderline pedantic. Some experiences just suck and its not supports fault. They are just the bearers of bad news. Which I rarely remember. Fortunately, I got to have the same terrible experience twice and correct my error. Lucky me.

Your favorite (now California registered) driver,