Copy: The Devil’s in the Details

Posted on Jul 1, 2015 in Work | No Comments

The marketing team at The Iron Yard has been building out a myriad of projects, tools and campaigns over the past several weeks. From radio scripts to drip campaigns to deciding the layout for a new page on our website.

We discuss many things as a team, but I’ve noticed lately that we talk about copy constantly. Lelia, our Director of Communications, does a significant amount of actual copywriting, as do I, but the topic of discussion extends to the entire team, be it a creative director or developer. Sometimes our conversations are about really visible, high-impact decisions, like how we name new courses. Other times, we go back and forth about the title of a single part of a larger roadmap that no one but our team will ever see. Oftentimes those discussions—or disagreements—are fueled by intelligent, strongly-held opinions.

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Marketing Team Values

Posted on Jun 29, 2015 in Work | No Comments

At the close of 2014, I was the only full-time marketer on The Iron Yard’s staff. Today, there are 7 of us total, meaning the last few months have been quite a fun adventure in learning and re-defining how the team works. Several of the people I hired had worked with me (and many times each other) on Iron Yard projects before. As a result, we’d developed a way of working that transitioned naturally from contract work to full-time work.

As I began to hire people who had no prior relationship with The Iron Yard or anyone on the team, though, I knew that our way of doing things wouldn’t necessarily be explicit on its own. As the new kid on the block, learning a culture and team and where you fit in can be a tough business as a lone ranger.

We decided to define our values as a team—the core elements of the way we go about our work and interacting with each other. Becoming an efficient part of a company happens much more quickly if you have a rubric by which to make decisions about what you are producing and the ways you communicate (or don’t).

Here are the values of The Iron Yard MarCom team:

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The Other Side of the World

Posted on Jun 27, 2015 in Nerdery | No Comments

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The New Oxford American Dictionary defines the word worldview as follows:

A particular philosophy of life or conception of the world.

The other morning I opened the Maps application on my laptop to search for an address. The initial view that loads in the application defaults to a zoomed-in, city-level perspective of your current location. For some reason—perhaps I accidentally entered a zoom-adjusting key combination—the view was different that morning. Maps loaded a planetary view of the entire earth. Even though the image was manufactured digitally, I found the perspective breathtaking. I imagined what days were like for people far to the west and far to the east. Some of them were sleeping soundly, others were approaching the end of the day. For several moments, I felt very small.

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Thank you, John Saddington

Posted on Jun 25, 2015 in Life, Work | No Comments

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This week on The Iron Yard blog I wrote about my friend and former business partner John Saddington. He’s left The Iron Yard to pursue a new adventure, so I recounted the story of how we met, what it was like to grow a company with him and the impact he had on me. Here are a few excerpts:

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Productivity Requires Sacrifice

This is the eighth post in a series on productivity. The articles are based on content from a workshop I led at The Makers Summit.


The concept of productivity is easy to frame in the context of things we need to start doing. “I need to get better at managing my email.” “I need to make my meetings more efficient.” “I need to hire an intern to take some administrative overhead off my plate.” Fill in the blank.

Many times, productivity is as much about what we choose not to do as it is about implementing new behaviors.

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Sleep, Exercise and Diet as the Foundations of Productivity

This is the seventh post in a series on productivity. The articles are based on content from a workshop I led at The Makers Summit.


We have arrived at the practical implications that a solid philosophical foundation in productivity hacking allows for. The last post was called First, Know Thyself—an appropriate sub-head for this post would be Second, Care for Thyself.

Warning, if you’re a regular reader, this is mostly-recycled content from a post I wrote in a now-dormant series.

Healthy, sustainable productivity

In this post we are going to discuss what I believe is one of the key components of people who maintain a high level of healthy, sustainable productivity. I use the descriptors “healthy” and “sustainable” because you can be extremely productive in any number of ways and not all of them are good for you. People commonly employ substances (sugar, caffeine, narcotics, etc.) or sleep deprivation in order to get more done (or, at least, feel like they’re getting more done). Too much of a substance or too little sleep over time is unhealthy—something we’re all aware of and that I touched on in a previous post in this series:

Therein lies the problem, though: while these methods produce some sort of real or perceived short-term benefit, if used in excess or exclusively, none are sustainable, especially over the long run. In fact, repeatedly pulling one (or more) of these levers to force more output can be harmful to us. Sleep deprivation can wreak serious havoc (as we’ll discuss in an upcoming post) and no medical professional would recommend drinking 10 pots of coffee (or cans of Red Bull) per day.

The tricky part is that whether the levers you’re pulling are good or bad for you, the productivity gains are real. Unfortunately, it always seems easier and more convenient to make unhealthy choices, which creates a cycle of tangible productivity bursts followed by burnout or near-burnout—a pattern that takes it’s toll and almost guarantees severe burnout over time.

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First, Know Thyself

This is the sixth post in a series on productivity. The articles are based on content from a workshop I led at The Makers Summit.


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So far in this series we’ve talked about what we would do with more time, what productivity hacking is, how productivity isn’t intuitive and how research can reveal the difference between reality and perception.

Before we dive into more tactical subject matter, it’s important to take a moment and talk about knowing ourselves.

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Rustin Impsum: True Detective Filler Text

Posted on Jun 17, 2015 in Nerdery | No Comments

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I recently ran across a project called Rustin Ipsum, which was built by an Iron Yard student in Washington, D.C. Scott Ross, the creator, explains his motivation (warning: if you haven’t seen True Detective, this won’t be as fun.):

There are plenty of Lorem Ipsum generators out there, but I couldn’t find any channeling that contemporary spirit of post-modern despair so perfectly captured in True Detective.

There was only one obvious course: build my own Rust Cohle Lorem Ipsum generator.

For a weekend project after two weeks of class, the result is very impressive Enjoy some auto-generated filler text:

World needs bad men. We keep the other bad men from the door. Sip Lone Star. This place is like somebody’s memory of a town, and the memory is fading. It’s like there was never anything here but jungle. Drag on Camel.

Great work, Scott. I’ll be using this often.

Startup Marketing

Posted on Jun 16, 2015 in Work | No Comments

I was recently invited to mentor startup teams going through Iron Yard Ventures Digital Health Accelerator program. The topic of the day was marketing, which can be a tricky, make-or-break struggle for early-stage software companies.

Below are my notes from the mentor session.

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Dictionary.app’s Unfortunate Typeface

Posted on Jun 15, 2015 in Nerdery | One Comment

I write often for work and make constant use of Apple’s Dictionary app on my Mac. Every single time I open the program, I’m surprised at the typeface and treatment chosen for normal body text.

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