Monthly Archives: January 2016


Nate Bagley, A single guy who quit his job and spent the last year crossing the country, interviewing over 100 of America’s most amazing couples about what it’s like to be in love.

He interviewed gay couples, straight couples, rich couples, poor couples, religious couples, atheist couples, arranged marriages, polygamous couples; couples who have been together for a short time, and couples who have been together for over 70 years.

This is some of the best advice that he shared with Reddit:

Self Love: The happiest couples always consisted of two (sometimes more) emotionally healthy and independently happy individuals. These people practiced self-love. They treated themselves with the same type of care that they treated their partner… or at least they tried to.

Emotionally healthy people know how to forgive, they are able to acknowledge their part in any disagreement or conflict and take responsibility for it. They are self-aware enough to be assertive, to pull their weight, and to give love when it’s most difficult.

Commitment: After that emotional health came an unquestioning level of commitment. The happiest couples knew that if shit got real, their significant other wasn’t going to walk out on them. They knew that even if things got hard – no, especially if things got hard – they were better off together. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

Trust: Happy couples trust each other… and they have earned each others’ trust. They don’t worry about the other person trying to undermine them or sabotage them, because they’ve proven over and over again that they are each other’s biggest advocate. That trust is built through actions, not words. It’s day after day after day of fidelity, service, emotional security, reliability.

Establish that foundation, and you’re in good shape.

Intentionality: This is the icing on the cake. There’s a difference between the couple who drives through the rainstorm and the couple who pulls their car to the side of the road to make out in the rain. (Yes, that’s a true story.) There’s a difference between the couple who kisses for 10 seconds or longer when they say goodbye to each other rather than just giving each other a peck… or nothing at all. There’s a difference between the couples who encourage each other to pursue their personal goals at the expense of their own discomfort or inconvenience… even if it means their partner has to stage kiss another woman.

The couples who try on a daily basis to experience some sort of meaningful connection, or create a fun memory are the couples who shattered my perception of what was possible in a loving relationship.”

On the best advice he was given:
“One woman in Georgia gave some pretty amazing advice. She and and her husband have been married for over 60 years, and after being asked what her best relationship advice would be, she paused and said…

‘Don’t be afraid to be the one who loves the most.'”

On the best way to solve disagreements:

“Resolving disagreements was one of the topics that came up the most.
Here’s what I learned:

Don’t Fight To Win: A huge number of couples talked about how they didn’t fight against each other. I mean, if you’re in love, you should be playing for the same team. Your goal should be to resolve the issue, not to emerge victorious over the love of your life… and let’s be honest, you just feel guilty when you win anyway.

Seek to Understand: If you’re having a hard time playing on the same team, stop fighting and instead try to understand why your partner is upset. Typically what’s being talked about isn’t the real issue. People are inherently bad at being vulnerable, especially in threatening situations. Be willing to ask sincere questions. Let the answers sink in. If she is complaining that you’re spending too much time at work, maybe the real issue is that she misses you, and wants to feel connected with you. Rather than arguing about how you’re providing for the family, and she needs to respect how hard you work, try to listen to what she’s really saying. Then hold her. Come home early one day, and surprise her with a date, or some special one-on-one time. Reassure her that she, and your relationship, are a priority for you. If you don’t want that same issue to arise again, keep investing in the solution.

Just Be Nice To Each Other Seriously. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t call names. Don’t take jabs. Don’t try to hurt the other person. Argue naked if it helps… but just be kind and civil ad respectful. It will prevent so many bad things from happening.”

And his favorite quote from all the interviews:

“At the end of Ty’s life, I want him to be able to say, ‘Terri was the greatest earthly blessing in my life – the best thing that ever happened to me – and that I’m a better man because of how she loved me.’ And that’s the goal that I live with every day. That’s how I want to love this man.”


I didn’t worry much about SEO when I was starting out as a blogger, but over the years I’ve noticed that some things get a lot more search traffic than others.

If you’re serious about your work, and you want people to see it, then you’re going to end up learning some SEO – because that’s still the #1 way people discover things online.

This blog is a work in progress, so I’m going to keep updating with more details.

What do I know about SEO?

#1. Get your titles and headers right

When you’re publishing content, it’s good to have titles that have words or phrases that people are likely to search for.

You’d also want to organically have them in header text in the post itself.

#2. Get the best backlinks you can

The hyperlink is the currency of the Internet. Getting high-quality backlinks (ie a link from an authoritative source) bumps you up in search traffic. There are some nuances about specifics of the link (what the anchor text is, what the source post is, etc), but as a general rule you want to get as many backlinks as you can.

The best way to do this is to create content that people are compelled to share. At this point people usually say “so you want to make quality content”, but that’s kind of a duh. There are many different kinds of content that people like linking to. If you’re serious about getting backlinks, you want to think deeply about what people in your niche typically link to.

#3. Title your image filenames properly

I’m not sure how important this is exactly, but I’ve seen some decent blog traffic come from people using image search. Lots of images are badly titled around the web. If you title an image appropriately, and use it on a blogpost that’s relevant, it seems that Google will prioritize it.

Recommended reads:


  • How is P&G’s marketing different from a startup’s?
  • Why is content curation so crappy?
  • What are the different ways of thinking about content? (Hunting, Farming, etc)
  • What have I learnt as a marketer?
  • What are the best hardware startups in the world?

Missing the point

  • I never thought I’d actually become a marketer. At one point, my goal in life was to become a flight steward to pay the bills, and I thought I’d write essays and short stories in quaint little cafes in Europe.
  • And then I got hired to do marketing for a tech startup, and life has taken a turn for the interesting. Because people are weird.
  • I wrote my last post about Thought Leadership because I was frustrated with the idea that there was a guide on how to BRAND yourself as a thought leader, and that was being shared. Because then what happens if people follow that advice? We have a whole bunch of people who brand themselves as thought leaders. Why can’t we just focus on the thinking? Maybe because the thinking part is the hard part.
    • The same thing replicates itself all over the Internet. There are Tweet chats- #blogchat, #smchat and all sorts of chats- where people talk about things like, what sort of font size should you use on your blog? What sort of background, what sort of color? It’s really quite odd.
    • In a blogpost titled “How to Get 247% More People to Read Your Content”, Neil talks about how, according to Harvard Business Review, conversations produce oxytocin, encouraging people to feel more open, trust you more, and feel a personal connection with you.
    • “When you have a conversation with your readers, they release more oxytocin, which makes them feel more open, trust you more, and feel a personal connection with you. This encourages them to read your content and even participate by commenting.”

Perverse incentives in marketing

Marketers Can Be Weird (And Kinda Sad) #VVmarketing

  • I’m a marketer myself, and I like the idea of marketing. But I think a ton of us have got it wrong. And the end result is depressing.
    • I think marketing has an important role to play in making the world a better place. But I think a huge number of us are doing it wrong, and that bothers me. I think we have really intelligent people who are focusing on all sorts of silly details that don’t really matter, and I’d like to make the case that we could be doing better.
  • The most basic role of the marketer is to move a needle. That’s what you’re hired to do. If you can’t do that, you’re not worth anything. The converse is also true: As Shopify VP marketing Craig Miller says, if you can move a needle, you’ll never be jobless.
    • Moving the needle requires manipulating human behavior. Influencing what other people do. We believe that incentives influence behavior, so we try to devise a system of incentives that get us what we want.
      • This is the bread-and-butter. This is what you get paid for. If you can’t move a needle, it doesn’t matter how clever or smart or genius you are. You’re failing. David Ogilvy has written some pretty sobering stuff about this. If you can’t convince someone to buy something, you have failed. We can zoom out about this and look at a broader, bigger picture. Sometimes something that doesn’t sell something overnight is part of building a relationship that sells more in the future. Sometimes you’re selling something that doesn’t deserve to be sold, that people don’t actually want. It’s pretty complicated, and if you want to simplify it for yourself you have to start by building your own internal compass. You have to be able to have taste, you have to be able to decide for yourself if something is worth selling or not. And then you have to work towards selling things that you do think are worth selling.
  • We’re led to believe from a young age that incentives influence behavior. And they do, to some degree. If you point a gun at somebody’s head, they’ll agree with you that 2+2=5. But the problem with incentives like that is that they’re conditional, contextual. The really good stuff isn’t there.
    • This is why discussions about A/B testing can get so infuriating, why talking about the color of a button is silly. It’s not that these things don’t matter at all. It’s that your time is precious and limited, and you’re spending on really superficial things.
      • I had a realization recently when I was reflecting on how frustrating my experience in school was. A teacher is assessed according to the outcome of his students’ assessments, so his job is to improve his students’ grades. The teacher tries to do this by incentivizing or disincentivizing student behaviors.
      • People do respond to incentives, but not nearly as much as we think. There have been cases where people have heart diseases- they’re literally going to die if they don’t change their habits and practices- and they don’t. And they die.
      • Incentives are not enough.
      • Results are influenced by behavior. What is behavior influenced by? Incentives, yes, but also social groups, and also identity. (Writing this now makes me think about militaries, and a great post that Jon Davis once wrotes about what the marines know about leadership.) (ELABORATE)
      • If you want to get different results, in your personal life, if you want to write more, if you want to run more, you can’t just set up a clever set of incentives and call it a day. They’d have to be really dramatic. In the marketing world, this might mean giving exorbitant discounts. And you know when you do that- you’ll move the needle, sure, but you’ll attract the wrong kind of customers, and you’ll damage your brand. Short term gain, long term pain.
      • What do we do then? We have to think beyond incentives. We have to think about social groups, identity and beliefs. In the context of marketing and branding, I think we have to think about what really matters to us. I feel like this is a conversation people have had so many times that we cease to be mindful of it. Kind of like “How are you?” is a question we don’t actually pay much attention to, and we don’t really take the trouble to answer properly.
      • Great marketing, great branding, that happens when the brand asks “How are you?” and really means it. It’s about attention to detail, it’s about obsessive, pathalogical focus that you can’t quite pay for in a contractual sense. This is a conviction I’ve been building over time- the realization that you can’t just pay for quality. Quality is something that requires more than you can bill for in a contract. The only way you get amazing writing is if the writer thinks about what she’s writing 24/7. If she wakes up in the morning and it’s on her mind, if she goes to sleep thinking about it.
      • Well, you can’t ask for that in a contract. You can’t say “We’re hiring you to think about this day and night, to bother your family and friends about this.” Yet this is the attribute that amazing founders have. The Bonobos founder Andy Dunn, he was a guy who brought his clothes to a friends’ wedding. Chris Peters of Opena Case would bring his prototype around wherever he went. If you’re serious about something it has to consume you. Or, to be more practical about it, you have to find something that consumes you, or has the capacity to consume you, and find a way to get serious about it in a way that is economically viable.
  • Marketing should begin, not end, with human emotion.
    • I’m really exhausted that we spend so much time talking about how to get more people to read our content, how to get more people to open our emails, how to get more people to convert and buy our stuff. I mean, those are the results we want to achieve. We’re ultimately paid to move the needle. But we have to realize that the needle is just the heartbeat. We keep the needle alive so we can do interesting, wondrous, beautiful and empowering things that make life worth loving.
    • We live in a world where a lot of people really dislike math.
      • But the reason for this isn’t that math is intrinsically bad. The main reason why people hate math is because they hate the way it was thought. To quote Dan Meyer, a math teacher who’s really passionate about math, Math is the vocabulary for your own intuition.
  • 1: Marketers obsess about open rates, about getting 247% more people to read their content. This is silly. It’s like obsessing about grades. It makes people suicidal.
    • 15 Twitter Hacks That Will Turn You Into A Twitter Ninja is meh. Do enough of it to pay the bills, but you have to have an exit strategy or you’re going to go mad. (Check out “I Am A Social Media Community Manager” by Valiant Lowitz, which is presented as satire, but is actually closer to the truth than most will admit.)
      • #sharan funny but you can write funnier i think
  • 2: What we ought to obsess about is- how do we identify what is gratifying?(Jiggity) How do we identify what matters? What is genuinely delightful? What do you want to do with your life?
    • Who’s really doing this? When you look around, who’s saying “Wow, this really needs to happen, this is great, this is really cool?” I personally think that procrastination is misunderstood and needs solving, that’s one thing. I also think that we need to accelerate the rate at which we experiment with and adopt technology, because I think that will make the world a more interesting, compelling place. It’s a kind of distributed science that we do.
  • Marketers: What do you see when you look in the mirror? Why? What do you believe to be true? Why? What do you want out of life? Why?
    • Once you have answers to all those questions (it might take a long while, and you might not be satisfied with the initial answers you get- but that’s okay, you can refine them over time), the question to ask is- how do you figure out parallels between what you believe to be true, what you believe to be important, and the work that you’re doing? There are multiple stages to this. If you can’t afford to work on stuff that you care about, you ought to work towards being able to work on stuff that you care about, with people that you care about, towards an end that you care about.


Everything Worth Knowing About Jeff Bezos #vvmarketing

  • 1: Yegge Rant 1:
  • 2: Yegge Response To Rant:
  • TEDtalk
  • regret minimization framework


Jobs iPhone #VVmarketing


Evolution of ‘social commerce’

  • It’s very, very interesting to me to see how “social shopping” and “social commerce” have emerged as ideas over the past few years. In both cases, the term “social” is obtained directly from social media.
  • A simplistic way of thinking about it, which I’m not a fan of, is the idea that social shopping is the attempt to recreate the offline shopping experience online. So people can shop online with their friends. According to Wikipedia, ” Social shopping attempts to use technology to mimic the social interactions found in physical malls and stores.” I actually disagree with this. I anticipate that the social interactions found online are going to be quite different from the social interactions found in physical malls and stores. There may be some skeumorphic mimickry- perhaps an app or bot that helps you to suss out a product might be called a “personal shopper”

evolution of social relations on Facebook

  • An interesting thing to think about. Most of us started using Facebook with no idea how it was actually going to turn out almost 10 years later. When I started Facebook, there was no newsfeed. People would send friend requests to pretty much every last acquaintance.
  • Before Facebook there was MSN Messenger, ICQ, etc. It made sense to add everybody you knew, and even people you didn’t really know, because you never know when it might be useful to have access to somebody that you talk to maybe 0.1% of the time. LinkedIn still works like this. There is almost no cost to accepting a LinkedIn friend request, it makes it likelier that you’ll have a connection to anybody you want to be connected to.
  • Status updates were a new thing.
  • News feed/mini feed. Real-time stream. Pages. You might like a band, but you might not be interested in getting updates from them.
  • Then comes the Ticker. Facebook progressively began to realize that people love receiving updates about what everybody else is up to.
  • Wall -> Timeline
  • subscribe/follow