From Reddit to Hipmunk: What We Can Learn From Steve Huffman

As a general career path, Steve Huffman has had it pretty sweet. He has some pretty impressive skills under his belt and some pretty impressive achievements, too. But as with any successful business man – it hasn’t been plain sailing.

From his role as web developer and co-founder of Reddit, to the founder of new web start-up Hipmunk, although his career path has been full of wins – there have also been a few losses, too. So what can learn from this Internet entrepreneur? And how can we apply examples from his career to our own? Well read on to find out.

1. Think big.

Reddit was a simple idea with big aims – and the company have gone from strength to strength. While it may not be as big as other social networks, never undervalue the underdog. At the time of writing, Reddit hosted an “Ask Me Anything” social conversation with President of the United States, Barack Obama during his election campaign. Just goes to show – amazing things come to those who wait.

2. Be patient.

You may see yourself running the best travel website – but to get there and to reach that point you often have to build your experience in other places. Huffman built his expertise in online thoroughly with other ventures (such as Reddit) before he channelled that expertise into something he was truly passionate about – his travel start-up Hipmunk. This applies to everyone in business – it’s pays to participate in side ventures. It’s worthwhile to get to experience and it will eventually lead you to where you need (and want) to be.

3. When the time is right, sell.

For many people, selling their business is the last thing on their mind. Why would you sell something you’ve worked so hard for? But Huffman proves that selling when the time is right can only be a good thing. Selling online company Reddit at the right time (it was acquired by Conde Nast Publications in 2006) meant that he could then invest his newly found time in Hipmunk – an innovative travel start-up growing fast.

4. Do what you love

If you’re good at something, do it! If you have a skill, embrace it! Huffman has been working on his travel start-up Hipmunk for two years now and it is quickly becoming a leading competitor in the travel market. You’ll excel in something if you care about what you’re doing – so if you’re looking to go into business make sure you’re going into where your skills lie and where your interests lie, too.

5. Get the word out

Since their launch, Hipmunk has not only produced a fantastic website for booking travel but also a business class tool. Why have they grown so fast? Because they’ve been able to get the word out there and let people know about their service. Hipmunk haven’t been shy about promotion, in fact they’ve been avid with advertising and their product has backed up all their claims. They’ve had some great press, with big names like Forbes reporting on how impressive the app has been for them. The lesson here? If your product is good and you believe in it – tell people.

James Daugherty is a blogger(and snowboarder) from the Emerald City who loves surfing the World Wide Web and working in the online marketing world.

5 Reasons a Marketing Career is Awesome

Marketing is truly an exciting and interesting field to be in. Few other careers can offer a combination of so many different disciplines from psychology to art to statistics, all packaged together into one role. Additionally, marketing is one of the most vital functions of a business. Without attracting customers, a business could not survive for very long. Here are some other reasons why a marketing career is a rewarding and smart career choice.

Lots of Learning Opportunities
There are an endless amount of learning opportunities within the marketing field due to wide range of subject areas that exist from search to consumer behavior to advertising. Just within online marketing alone there are so many branches like search engine optimization, pay per click, conversion rate optimization, social media, etc., that it would take a years to master them all. If you have an insatiable hunger for knowledge, marketing can provide you with a virtually limitless amount of material to keep you learning.

Strong Community of Professionals
The community in the marketing industry is very strong and supportive of other individuals in the field. There are numerous associations like the American Marketing Association that promote professional development and hold frequent networking events. The search marketing community and social media marketing community are also very friendly and willing to help others to be successful which makes it easy to develop friendships and find mentors.

Rarely Boring
In recent years the marketing field has undergone a tremendous amount of change. There was the invention of DVR that made it possible for people to skip TV commercials while the Internet has disrupted about every medium of advertising from radio to magazines. With all this change, marketers have the exciting challenge of managing new forms of media and advertising that didn’t previously exist while adapting to paradigm shifting innovations like search engines and social media. It is truly an exciting time to be a marketer and you will rarely find yourself with too little to do.

Make a Difference
A truth in business is that it doesn’t matter if you create an awesome product if no one is willing to buy it. Marketing is the vital function that ensures that there is a intersection of consumer demand and product innovation. Marketing helps consumers find awesome products that they didn’t realize would make their life better. It assists great entrepreneurs with the challenging task of getting in front of the right audience so they can be successful and generate paying customers to fuel growth. An effective marketer can go to sleep at night knowing that they have made a dent in the universe.

Job Demand/Job Security
Although marketing often does get cut in a recession (which is usually a mistake because marketing is a revenue generator) there is currently strong demand across the country for online marketers like SEO specialists. According to Monster.com, “In 2012, leading-edge Internet technologies will again be a leading generator of marketing jobs.” Additionally, marketers are being asked to manage the rapidly growing number of social networks and new marketing tools like remarketing and blogging. It is difficult to remove or replace someone who is managing so many important aspects of a business.

Are there any additional reasons why you think a marketing career is awesome? Please share them in the comments below.

Charles Sipe is an online marketer and SEO Specialist in Seattle and Executive Editor of Cool Marketing Stuff. You can follow him on Twitter at @charlessipe

Jonah Lehrer Talk on How to Increase Creativity

In the following talk, Jonah Lehrer discusses what science tells us about creativity and how that can be applied to increase creativity in the work environment.

Key takeaways:
-Einstein said that creativity is the residue of wasted time.
-Scientists can predict when an epiphany is about to occur based on measuring the brain’s alpha waves.
-Often insights occur when we are away from our desk and not overly focused on the problem.
-A study at University of Illinois at Chicago showed that when undergraduates were slightly drunk they solved 30% more problems than their sober classmates.
-The common characteristic of the most creative individuals is grit.
-Grit is about persistence, stubbornness, and single minded focus.
-Grit is particularly important in creative domains.
-Grit allows you to practice the right way which is not the fun way.
-In field after field, grit is the single best predictor of success.
-We have a feeling of knowing when we know we are close to solving a problem, like when a word you are thinking of is on the tip of your tongue.
-When we don’t feel like we are close, maybe we should relax. If we feel like we are close we should rely on the muscles of grit and stay focused.
-Steve Jobs put the only two bathrooms at Pixar Studios in a central location and it led to more epiphanies by employees.
-Creativity is not about efficiency, it is about serendipity.
-A great trend of the 21st century is a migration to cities.
-In the next 100 years more people will move to cities than in all of human history.
-Since the invention of Skype, business conference attendance has nearly doubled.
-Daydreaming turns out to be incredibly useful. People who daydream more score higher on tests about creativity.
-Study after study has shown that group brainstorming produces fewer ideas than individual brainstorming.
-Our free associations are pretty superficial because they are bound by language which is full of cliches.
-Studies have shown that debate and dissent generates more ideas.

Creative Commons Flickr photo courtesy of Viva Vivanista

Chade-Meng Tan Talk on Meditation to Boost Performance

Chade-Meng Tan is a early Google employee and author of the personal development book Search Inside Yourself, which discusses how to use meditation to improve your work performance and happiness.

Takeaways from the talk:
-Neuroplasticity means what you think and do can change the structure of your brain.
-The first step is training your attention.
-An exercise: bring a gentle attention to your breath. If attention wanders, bring it back gently.
-Bringing attention to your breath can calm your mind.
-The amygdala part of the brain lights up when it senses a threat.
-The amygdala can override other parts of the brain
-Accomplished monks can control primitive parts of their brain.
-100 minutes is all it takes to have a measurable effect.
-If you can perceive an emotion while it is arriving you can choose to turn it off.
-Imagine having the mental habit of thinking “I want this person to be happy.”
-Being loved is good for your career.
-Effective Naval commanders have been found to be more positive, warmer, and sociable (1988 study). Even in the Navy, being nice works.
-Emotional skills creates the conditions for happiness.
-Two factors needed for world peace: the end of global poverty and inner peace, happiness, and compassion on a global scale.

Check out Meng’s book to learn more:

4 Email Productivity Apps for Marketing Professionals

Are you a slave to your email inbox? Do you find yourself obsessively checking your email every few minutes? Or has your inbox spiraled out of control – do you feel like you’re drowning and don’t know where to begin to get things back on track?

Fortunately help is at hand – Simply Business have pulled together this infographic detailing solutions to common email productivity problems:

Click the image to launch the interactive version. Move through each of the questions – if you see an issue you can relate to move to the outer circles which contain links to resources and tools to help. Simply click on whatever takes your fancy and it will open in a new tab.


Click image to open interactive version (via Simply Business).

Despite never quite achieving Inbox Zero (normally I’m around Inbox 7, but I’m working on it), I am a massive fan of apps to help manage my email – here are a few I wouldn’t be without:

Rapportive

Struggle to put faces to names? Rapportive is the app for you. It shows you everything about your contacts right there inside your inbox. You can see their picture, where they’re based, what they last tweeted etc. It also makes it really easy to connect with them on other networks like LinkedIn.

Taskforce

This was a total game changer for me. A large proportion of the emails I receive require some sort of action from me, and Taskforce allows you to convert emails into tasks without the need to leave your inbox. Plus you can delegate tasks, and schedule them for later.

AwayFind

Lack the discipline to leave your inbox alone? Worried that you might miss something really urgent? AwayFind notifies you of important messages via your mobile so you’ll never miss an important email again.

Boomerang

Boomerang allows you write emails and schedule them to send later. It also reminds you to follow up or if you don’t hear back from people.

Got some productivity tips of your own to share? Or apps you can’t live without? I’d love to hear about them via the comments!

About the author: James Daugherty enjoys being as productive as he can be while watching cat videos

Stock photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

3 Steps for Successful Professional Networking

by Morris N. Mann, P.D.

Social gatherings offer great opportunity to make some professional connections. Usually when professionals who run their small businesses go to any social gathering they are interested in giving their business cards to other people. These business people give their business cards to people with whom they have a conversation at the party because they think that it is easiest and cheapest way to do marketing of their business. However, giving away your business card to everyone with whom you talk in the party is not among the best practices. We suggest that you only give your business card to the person with whom you have some conversation regarding your business and who offers you the opportunity to follow up. Here are the three important steps of networking in social gatherings:

Step # 1 – Verbal Business Card

Before you take out your printed business card out of your pocket it is better to present your “verbal business card” to your potential business client. The verbal business card means that you introduce your business to the person and the person what products and/or services you offer. It should also talk about the problems which your potential client is facing and the solution which your you can offer.

Step # 2 – Give Something Which Shows Your Integrity

After the verbal introduction if you sense that the person is a potential business client, you can give him/her your business card, but give your business card along with something which has value and which shows your trustworthiness. This can be an article, a report, a new research, an award, etc. If you are not able to give that thing to the potential client, then ask him or her if you could send it to you later via email or post. This information of value will give you the opportunity to call the potential client for a follow up later.

Ask permission of the potential client to call him/her later to discuss the article/report/award, etc. It is better that you ask for the suitable time or date to call. You can say “can I give you a call next week to brief you more about how our services or products could benefit your business?”

Step # 3 – Follow Up

This is the part which many people find very difficult to do. The main reason behind the difficulty is that people fear of rejection. What you need to remember here is that this is not a sales call, it is just a follow up to explore the opportunities of working together. There is nothing to fear. You can call your potential client and introduce yourself again. Remind him/her when and where you met and that you had given or sent the information of value to the potential client. If the potential client is willing and able to talk then continue talking about how the products or services which you offer can benefit the business of the client.

Why People Do Not Make Follow Up Calls

First of all, many people think that if the potential client is interested he/she will call himself/herself. However, this does not happen often. Actually they might so busy that they would not be able to call although they might be interested in doing business with you. Moreover, some people also do not call themselves because they do not want to appear too interested.

People think that everybody hates cold calling. Well, this is not cold calling. You are calling someone whom you have met and you had taken the permission to call later. If you are one of those people that needs help with follow up calls, business coaching programs can help.

Some people wait too long to give a call. The longer you wait, the chances increase that the person would forget you and would not do business with you.

Why should you make follow up calls? Follow up calls are made by professionals and committed businessmen. So potential clients actually value follow up calls.This will certainly increase your sales and revenue. Besides getting business from the potential clients, you will be able to get hold of some referrals and other connections through follow up calls.

By following these simple steps you can ensure that the next time when you go to a social gathering or party you will be welcoming a significant increase in sales!

Morris N. Mann, P.D. – As a personal coach, Morris helps solo business owners and professionals with their goals of higher personal happiness and greater success in business. For over 15 years he coached business executives responsible for marketing and systems management in international product and service companies. With his Ph.D. in psychology, he has been practicing successfully for over 10 years.

5 Qualities of Highly Effective Marketers

The following article is a guest article by Rachel Hyun Kim.

Have you ever considered a career in marketing? For people-oriented, outgoing individuals, marketing may appear like a natural career choice. However, this field requires more than a can-do attitude and an affinity for social media; marketers often share certain personality traits that help them succeed and spread their brand.

In order to be successful in marketing, the candidate must possess the right attitude and mentality to help them address the challenges ahead. The following traits may indicate you have a marketer’s soul, waiting to come out:

1. Passion for Communication

One key characteristic of marketers is the passion for communication, or the love of spreading the word. Oftentimes, people confuse marketers with the sleazy individuals that rely on telemarketing to promote their products. However, a true marketer is not looking to make a quick buck; he or she is truly passionate about their product, service, or company, and this enthusiasm transfers to their communication methods.

2. Numbers Oriented

One common misconception of marketers is that they simply connect to others through social media and talk to community members. However, marketing departments often require that their employees have numbers to back up their results. Therefore, marketers often have an affinity for numbers, and are not afraid to handle large sets of data. With an analytical mindset, marketers enjoy problem solving and are persistent at solving problems.

3. Early Adopter

The early adopter is constantly at the forefront of new technologies, signing up for beta releases or trying out new social media platforms before anyone else. This is an essential trait for marketers, who are always on the lookout for new ways to connect to their audience. The internet is constantly shifting and producing new communication channels; by trying them out, marketers can determine which best benefits their organization.

4. Love of Social Media

Nowadays, most companies understand the importance of social media, and often integrate this into their marketing departments. In order to succeed as a marketer, it is necessary that the individual possess knowledge of social media networks and platforms. However, this requires more than understanding how to create an account; social media marketers delve deep into the dynamics of the community that are created within a social media network. They integrate themselves within the community, and seek to understand how individuals interact. With this knowledge and the accompanying love of social media, marketers are able to better place their brand amongst community members.

5. Focused on Achieving Goals

This may seem like a common trait, but marketers especially benefit from this particular personality trait. Marketing oriented individuals create goals, and spend the majority of their time and energy striving for them. However, it is important to distinguish the type of goals that marketers focus on: in general, individuals focus on measurable, achievable goals, related to obtaining leads and increasing brand awareness. Therefore, individuals who are looking for a career in marketing should make sure that they’re dedicated and passionate towards accomplishments.

Rachel Hyun Kim is a writer for Resource Nation, an online resource that gives advice on B2B lead generation to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

7 Job Hunting Tips for New Marketing Grads

Start A Blog

Starting a blog can be a great way to put your online marketing skills on display. You can show potential employers that you can create quality content, earn links, and build an audience – things that many companies need to excel in online marketing. Ideally you should create your blog on a personal domain like charlessipe.com so that you can build your personal brand and rank first in Google for your name.

Attend Networking Events

Many new graduates have the misconception that most of the jobs available can be found on job sites or Craigslist. While Craigslist does have some great job postings, a large majority of job openings are not advertised or posted online. Often the hiring manager is too busy to spend time seeking applicants so they just ask people they know for referrals. This “hidden job market” can be accessed by having a connection to someone who is hiring or knows someone who is hiring. Building your network can help you find these “hidden” opportunities. One of the best ways to build your network are professional networking events such as American Marketing Association, Social Media Club, or Chamber of Commerce meetups. A multi-year project I worked on was a result of talking to a fellow alumni at an alumni networking event who happened to have a mentor who was looking for an online marketer.

Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

Optimizing your LinkedIn profile can help you get found by people looking for talented individuals with a specific skill. Including keyword phrases like “Seattle marketing specialist” several times in your profile will help you rank highly when people search LinkedIn. Additionally, having more connections increases your second and third degree network which helps you rank as well according to a Mixergy course on LinkedIn. Joining and participating in LinkedIn Groups can also be a great networking opportunity.

Request Informational Interviews

Marketing professionals are typically very open to helping those who are just starting out. If you contact marketers and request to buy them coffee or lunch so that you can ask them how they got to their position, they will often say yes. Often this relationship can lead to a possible job later on or introductions to other good contacts. Just make sure that you prepare some good questions and even research their background. You might also want to bring a pen and pad to take notes. One time I was conducting an informational interview and the person got very upset because I wasn’t taking notes.

Hire a Career Coach

A skilled coach can teach you how to be more effective in your job search and help you prepare to perform well in interviews. They can teach you things you don’t know that you don’t know and notice mistakes you may be making. I have never hired a career coach, but I would consider it in the future.

Become Active in Social Media

Building a social presence can help you get noticed by potential employers and it can also help you build relationships with key people in your industry. With Twitter you can often talk to people you would be otherwise unable to reach. You can use the @ replies to respond to questions or comments people make and get them to notice and engage with you. I recently was able to attract the attention of one of the top people in the field of online marketing by responding to his plea for help on Twitter.

Offer to Work for Free to Gain Experience

Often times new marketing grads face a Catch-22. A position requires that you have marketing experience but you can’t get experience unless you get hired. One way around this is to contact a marketing person at a company you are interested in and offer to work for free. I know a person who did this at a Seattle startup and eventually became the number two person at the company.

Do you have any additional tips for new marketing grads or comments. Please leave them in the comments below.

How Exercising Before Work Can Boost Marketers' Productivity

The following article is a guest post from James Madeiros.

working out before workMost people understand the value of exercise, but higher rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are indicators that knowing does not equal doing; it is often a matter of incentivizing, or demonstrating the potential benefits of exercise in a way that makes it more attractive.

One strong incentive for many people is that exercising before work has been shown to increase work productivity. This is a good way to start a healthy cycle of activity, because once people boost their work productivity they often find they feel better through reduced stress and feelings of accomplishment, which in turn gives them more energy in other areas of their lives.

This approach to work efficiency is embraced by many corporations and is even encouraged by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC offers advice on how to assess employee health needs, balance them against the bottom line and then develop health programs that will result in a healthier workforce that is more energetic, less depressed and therefore happier to be at work.

Those who may argue they are too tired to wake up even earlier before work to exercise will take heart in results of a Swedish study that found businesses that set aside time for exercise during work increased productivity even though employees spent less time doing actual work. The conclusion, of course, is that people who have had some exercise can accomplish more work in less time than those who have not.

A boost in productivity is the cumulative result of the many benefits of exercise. Exercise increases the levels of serotonin in the brain, which helps improve thinking. It releases endorphins that create natural energy in the body, improves cardiovascular performance and provides a boost to the immune system.

Considering the many perks to exercise, it really should come as no surprise that work might seem a little easier after a quick jog around the block. The incentivizing nature of this is that an individual can see immediate results in productivity if they cared to measure it or look for it. This sets it apart from the other primary drivers of exercise: losing weight and feeling better.

Anyone who has attempted to begin an exercise regimen only to quit after a week or two knows that seeing and feeling results takes time. Studies show, however, that improving work is only a few stretches away. And, in a best-case scenario, that means that entering a positive cycle of activity can deliver the instant gratification people crave in any workout routine.

James Madeiros is a Staff Writer for Cascade Healthcare Solutions, an online seller of medical supplies.

Image Source: lululemon athletica

Why Blogging is One of the Best Ideas for Marketing Professionals

blogging marketing careerBlogging can a tremendous personal branding and self development tool for those who want to grow in their marketing career. When I was a new business graduate, I reached out to alumni from my school to ask them for advice on being successful in a marketing career (a great idea if you are a new grad). One of the best pieces of advice I received was to start a blog. My blog started slowly, attracting very little traffic. But after years of adding helpful content, my blog started to snowball until it reached a point of attracting thousands of visitors each month. I sell about one book on Amazon a day which helps fund by affinity for marketing and business books. Additionally, my blog has helped me build relationships with several amazing marketers and learn a ton about the marketing field. Here are a few of my tips for building a marketing blog and how it can help your marketing career.

Interviewing Leaders in the Marketing Field
There are many marketing professionals who would be thrilled to be interviewed, even if you have a small audience. It is a great compliment to tell someone that you respect them enough to want to interview them. You may even be able to get high profile marketers if you approach it the right way. Use the Dale Carnegie advice of thinking in terms of what other people want. For instance they might want to promote a book they recently launched, promote their marketing business, or get a valuable link from your site that can help their search rankings.

Some recent marketing interviews:
Danny Dover, Author of Search Engine Optimization Secrets
Anika Lehde, Founder of Projectline

Blogging Encourages You to Learn More About Marketing
When you write about a topic it tends to be helpful if you have a lot of knowledge about the topic or have conducted some research. Sometimes the act of putting your thoughts into an article helps you find gaps in your knowledge that you can usually fill by reading some good articles. Not wanting to look bad can be a strong motivator for studying areas of marketing that you have not yet mastered.

Serendipitous Networking
When you have a lot of high quality blog articles, you tend to attract a lot of visitors who are interested in marketing. Some of these visitors will be curious about you and follow your Twitter account or read your about page. These serendipitous meetings could potentially lead to your next job or client.

Blogging Showcases Your Marketing Skills to Potential Employers
Writing intelligent and thoughtful marketing articles is one of the best ways to demonstrate your marketing acumen and how you think about marketing. I have heard some say that blogs are the new resume. A strong marketing blog can be like a agent who is constantly selling your talents to prospective employers.

Dominate the First Page of Google for Your Name
Companies constantly Google the name of prospective employees to learn more about them. The first position in Google for your name is valuable real estate that helps you control how people experience your personal brand online. One tactic that can work well is using your name as the domain name of your blog like ChrisBrogan.com because Google still favors sites that have the keyword in their domain name. Having great content on your blog that people link to will help you get the number one position which gets a high percentage of clicks (roughly 30%-40%).

Charles Sipe is the Director of Search at Sparkplug Digital, an online marketing agency providing tech and startup SEO, PPC, and social media. Follow him on Twitter @charlessipe