52 Thoughts I had while Reading “Disrupted”: Part 1

I was really excited when I found out about the book “Disrupted,” by Dan Lyons. I’ve lived in NYC for 6 years, and worked at techy startups for the first 5ish. I’ve been in the digital marketing space in some form or another since I graduated in 2007. I tweeted a few weeks ago about wanting to do some kind of book club about this book. Since the people I’d want to discuss this book with live all over the place – consider this an open invitation to talk about this book with me whenever our paths cross in person(or hey, even on twitter or in the comments here)! I’m going to two email marketing conferences in the next two weeks. Let’s chat.

In late 2014, I left the startup world, and was so burnt out at the time that I had to take three months off from working entirely. At the time, I felt a little bit like a failure, since so many people around me seemed to love working at startups, and find it exciting. And going back and reading that post – I felt like I was burning out on email. A year and a half later, I realize that’s not the case. I still like email. I’m just…not the right fit for most startups. It was exciting at times, but for my slightly-older-than-my-average-coworkers’-age, extremely introverted self, it was mostly just exhausting. I struggled to find the balance of wanting to fit in with everyone, but also wanting to just go home at a reasonable hour instead of staying for another happy hour. So I took casual sips of the Koolaid, but didn’t really like how it tasted, so I switched back to Earl Grey (corporate/nonprofit), which is really a better fit for me.

I’m a little more than halfway through Disrupted now. Here’s what was going through my head for chapters 1-14.

  1. This is going to be great. I am so over startups.
  2. Aw, he’s an older guy at a startup. We had a few of them at the main one I worked at by the time I left. I always wondered how annoyed they must have been at all the 23 year olds. I was a 28 year old at a startup and I was annoyed by the younger people.
  3. Trying to think of where I was in 2011 – at a small, techy startup in NYC that was just hoping to get acquired, then did. Then the whole team was gutted because the company that acquired us just wanted the technology. That was fun. Whatever. I’m over it.
  4. Wait, are we not saying “Silicon Alley” anymore for NYC? Was that ever really a thing, or just briefly in 2011? Can I say I worked in Silicon Valley in NYC??
  5. Oh heyyyyy, a Warby Parker mention! From circa 2011 – slightly before I started working there. At least the mention is about the cool techy nerds wearing the glasses (when really, a lot of comparisons could be made elsewhere in the book).
  6. Story time: A few years ago, (but maybe a year or so after Dan left ReadWrite), a reporter from ReadWrite interviewed me and someone from an org my company was doing a collaboration with. The writer was TERRIBLE and kept getting our business models confused (one was a nonprofit that does crowdfunding for teachers. One was a glasses company). It was my first media interview like that, and I was terrified that the article was going to be terrible and I’d never get to do anything like that again. Afterwards, the person from the nonprofit (who is wonderful and has been a great mentor to me on multiple occasions) said, “Yeah, don’t worry. That article will never get written.” It didn’t.
  7. Commuting from Boston to SF every week sounds miserable.
  8. Oh look, an ~orange culture~.
  9. I’ve had a boss who was younger and wayyyyy less experienced than I am in my field (at a startup..). Even though I like him as a person, it totally sucked and was ultimately a big factor in why I left.
  10. I left the unicorn startup 3 weeks before the first portion of my stock options would have vested. I think about that a lot and wonder if I’ll ever regret that.
  11. Yeah, brogrammers are a real thing. Ugh.
  12. Do they have any women working in tech roles at Hubspot, or do they only hire women to write BS content? That’s kind of offensive.
  13. I may have been brainstorming a very similar book with a friend when I worked at a startup. Decided against it because burning a unicorn bridge is a bad idea, and we were unlikely to get a hit HBO show out of it. We also didn’t hate our company. It’s just weird when you see the media bowing at your company’s feet, but then you’ve seen how the sausage is made, and want to say something, but can’t, you know? But you’ve also kinda sorta been sipping on the koolaid a little bit too? It’s complicated.
  14. Oh yeah, this whole corporate culture thing is eerily familiar. I mean, sure, it’s cool to love your job and all, but geez.
  15. This is bleak.
  16. I would really hate it here.
  17. Spam blasts? SPAM BLASTS???? ::pounds head against wall::
  18. I mean, he’s kind of right though. The emails he’s talking about DO sound spammy. And blasty. Remind me never to give Hubspot any information about myself.
  19. Okay, but the people here are not WRONG about these emails TECHNICALLY not being classified as spam. People did opt in, and it doesn’t sound like they’re violating CAN-SPAM. Just really aggressive marketing.
  20. Oh, I think I was on that record breaking webinar. I remember another Hubspot webinar I listened to years ago, and Dan Zarrella was talking about metrics/email, and telling everyone that Saturday at 6 AM was the best time of day/day of week to send emails (oh, 2010 email thought leadership! Lol.). The hold music was “Umbrella” by Rhianna, and everyone in the comments was typing things like “Webinar by Dan Zarrella…ella…ella…hey…hey..hey…” and now I think about that whenever I hear that song.
  21. But, looking at online marketing from an outsider’s perspective… yeah. Marketing is terrible. WHY DO I DO THIS??? WHY IS THIS MY CAREER? At least I’m not in B2B anymore. I’m usually on the other end of those sales pitches now, and I hate them a LOT. And it sucks, because I’ve become friends/friendly with a lot of the people who are doing the pitches prior to them doing the pitches.
  22. Totally relate to the cult/koolaid concept. It really is alarming how quickly groupthink kicks in at some companies. When I left the last two startups I was at, it was a major culture shock getting back into normal life.
  23. A teddy bear? Um, okay.
  24. Journalists sound really funny and snarky. Maybe I should have actually gone into journalism since I majored in it and all…it seems like their meetings would be my jam.
  25. I definitely know “Mary.” I know she likes dumbed down content, but maybe if she had better content to read, she’d become better at marketing? Just a thought? Also, at WP, some of us were joking about a (now out of business) competitor that marketed quirky colorful (UGLY) glasses to women. We definitely came up with “Mary” as their target customer. She was definitely not our customer.
  26. Oh yeah. Startup employees are definitely encouraged to post the company’s content on their social media. I’m reminded of this all the time in my Facebook “On This Day.” But that being said – I remember being genuinely excited about the things I was posting, and wanting it to go well. There was definitely a sense of wanting everything to succeed. We had screens on the walls with our realtime GA page up, and I loved watching the site views climb up as soon as I sent out an email.
  27. Fearless Friday sounds incredibly obnoxious. Were people in that office actually afraid of submitting stories to Buzzfeed, even though their content was basically the same as Buzzfeed’s? Were they afraid of making bad paintings? Why are those things feared?
  28. As a marketer, I get why customer personas are a thing, and usually based on data, but everywhere I’ve worked that has had them didn’t have one that I fit in, even though I’ve also been a happy customer of the product. And neither did any of my friends who were also happy customers.
  29. I’m really glad I didn’t have to work with salespeople at any of the startups I worked at.
  30. Oh, startup Halloween. That was actually my favorite thing about Warby Parker. We definitely did everything Hubspot did, only we had a huge costume party at night (in addition to wearing costumes and taking pictures all day). I love sewing and spend most of my spare time making things, and I loved having a way to be seen as skilled/creative at work outside of my normal job, where I didn’t really get to be creative. It was great to see that my favorite outlet for creativity was rewarded there.
  31. Fine, this isn’t the culture for you. We get it. But Halloween transcends everything.
  32. Yeah, “Unlimited” vacation time is total BS. Everywhere I’ve worked that had it had a “Get your work done and take the time you need!” policy. Kind of hard to do that when your workload is so high, you CAN’T get your work done, and you’re a one person team. And when the office culture leans toward showing how dedicated you are to a company, it becomes a competition of who can take the least vacation time. Hard pass, no thanks, unsubscribe.
  33. Uh oh…. he’s going to talk about Salesforce/Dreamforce/Benioff. ::grabs popcorn::
  34. I mean, yeah. Hotels are expensive in a city when there are 120k extra people visiting for a few days. Math.
  35. I sat outside and ate noodles, then rode the carousel during the keynote last year at DF.
  36. I generally spend most conference keynotes live tweeting/snarking.
  37. YAHTZEE!!!! ET MENTION! If this book were a movie, this section where he’s talking about ET as a threat to Hubspot would have Bad Blood playing. Loudly. With some kind of glaring standoff between the two orange companies.
  38. Also- dude, Hubspot’s not the only one who didn’t love that acquisition. Trust me. I still don’t know what happened to the 4 stock shares I had in ET.
  39. Hey journalist man, a little fact check: It was ExactTarget Marketing Cloud for a few months, THEN Salesforce Marketing Cloud. But we all still call it ET.
  40. At this point I’m just typing a sentence in here every 3 sentences I read in the book.
  41. “Salesforce.com claims that its [Exacttarget’s] marketing software is better than Hubspot and works seamlessly with Salesforce.com’s core CRM software.”  
  42. ::Nods:: Yep this is exactly how I feel during keynotes at these conferences.
  43. Oh, do they do some ridiculous/awkward themed costume every year during the keynote? I at least appreciate that this one matched the band playing.
  44. A Tesla? They couldn’t get a DeLorean?
  45. YES! I hated it last year when they made a big deal about ~Women in Tech~, then had a panel about women in tech – with just Benioff and Parker. Like, seriously?!? Again, I appreciate the gesture, but herding all of the women to watch panels/speeches about how hard it is to be a woman in tech while the men are all off networking and attending sessions that will advance their careers is hardly a step in the right direction.
  46. I mean, yes, there are problems with tech/marketing as an industry. Absolutely. I don’t think it’s completely evil though. Some of us are just nerds who want to have a chance to interact with people instead of screens. A lot of us are one of just a few people at our companies who do what we do, and it’s nice to have other people to talk shop (and drink) with. Conferences are great for that.
  47. Funny that I’m reading this part about the tower the day after they announce turning the biggest tower in the Indianapolis skyline to a Salesforce tower.
  48. He mentions the Dreamboat from DF2015. He doesn’t mention the party at DF2015 that had the cast of Silicon Valley attending. Hmmm. (My friends and I tried to go to it, but the line was wrapped around a block for several hours).
  49. Is the pool installer guy they keep talking about the same guy that’s in Youtility?
  50. It seems like it’s become pretty normal to just do 1-2 years at a job and leave in this industry. Whew.
  51. Dan’s coworkers suck. Like seriously, if his articles are generating more traffic, putting them in your emails will likely generate more clicks/conversions, making your email metrics better. Math.
  52. I’m glad he got a new boss, and he seems cool. I had three different bosses in my two years at the unicorn I worked at, and…it doesn’t always get better.

I’m still reading the book – more thoughts when I finish it in the next few days!


Further Reading…

Hubspot’s reaction to the book

Hubspot’s Culture Code Deck


4 thoughts on “52 Thoughts I had while Reading “Disrupted”: Part 1

    • You should read it! I read the rest of it last night. It’s really funny, and as a marketer, you’ll relate to a lot of it .

      • Going to read it next, I need something a bit light after making my way through All the Light We Cannot See.

  1. I have so much to say about this I actually don’t know where to begin. I smiled a few different times while reading this. The “I’m right there with you, you just hit the nail on the head” smile.

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