Travelogue: Kiitos, Helsinki!

En route to meet Sahana in Europe, I was caught up in a series of unfortunate events that left me stranded in one of my connecting cities. To make a long story short, apparently five hours isn’t enough time for this seasoned traveler to change terminals and make a connecting flight through Paris. 

Plans changed, and I set off for a weekend in connecting city Helsinki, and the chance to reconnect with the city I first visited, lived, and studied in over 10 years ago.

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A Tool to Quickly Assess Your Business, from PointForward

As I've mentioned in another post on HubSpot, a happy workforce creates more effective products, offers better customer service, and wins more delighted customers. It all starts with the assurance that your employees are all invested, engaged, and rowing in the same direction. But how do you determine whether this is the case?

My friends at PointForward have developed a Business Health Assessment tool to "quickly corral the intelligence of your workforce, and to pinpoint what is working and what needs fixing across four areas critical to any company’s success."

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Recommended Reading: Newsonomics

AOL's Patch, a sizable investment in hyperlocal news and information, has been discussed at length by journalists and the tech industry at large. As a senior manager reporting into and collaborating cross-functionally with several members of the central organization, I had considerable exposure to executive decision-makers, and I formed many of my own opinions as to how the venture could be successful. 

While I cannot talk about my opinions or my experiences here, I applaud Ken Doctor's effort to discuss lessons learned in his piece for the Nieman Journalism Lab.

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Recommended reading: Michael Lewis on Goldman Sachs

Ever cry in your Cheerios wondering why, WHY not one individual or group at any of the major financial institutions has been held (seriously) responsible for contributing to the economic meltdown that broke dreams and ruined lives for millions upon millions of Americans? Fear not, the government nabbed an immigrant ex-Goldman Sachs programmer and is making him pay

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Dock Reading: Book Recommendations

Every year, late in the summer, my family gathers at Nelson North, situated on the shores of Mullett Lake, Michigan. We partake in quality time, chase the young ones (and the dog) around, enjoy boat rides, eat well (for us, anyway), throw back a few beverages, and more. It's also a great time to catch up on summer reading or dust off some of the books that we've been neglecting, and this year was no exception. With prime real estate on the dock, and no *real* responsibilities, I blitzed through several. These were the highlights:

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Weekender: The Grand Ole Opry + The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville

If you're a fan of country music even in the most casual sense, a trip to Nashville is not complete without visit to the Grand Ole Opry. I had the chance to visit the Opry for the first time this month while visiting my dear friends Meredith and Marcie on set (who also happen to be amazing and talented writers and producers of the show Nashville). 

While Meredith and Marcie were tied up with a cast meeting, I visited the Opry alongside Meredith's brother and his girlfriend, and we enjoyed an exclusive backstage tour with Pete Fisher, the General Manager. Pete was extremely gracious and answered every one of our questions with enthusiasm (no doubt the same ones he fields hundreds of times a week!) He also introduced us to artists as they went on or came off the stage, took us through some of the dressing rooms, allowed us to tour the sound and video booths, facilitated our conversations with technicians, and more. It was an amazing experience, and Pete and the crew at the Opry were all terrific hosts.

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Father's Day 2013

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, and thinking of those who are no longer with us. My brother Jack, now serving in the Peace Corps, wrote a nice piece about our dad in his blog, Carolina to Cameroon, to mark the occasion. The Peace Corps did a nice pick-up of the piece on their own blog

As Jack noted, my dad had fond memories of the Peace Corps, and some of the stories he told about his experiences in Liberia were among our favorites. To honor him on the fifth Father's Day following his death, I've shared an entry from his memoirs about his Peace Corps experiences (below). I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

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Travelogue: An Adventure Through Cameroon With Peace Corps Volunteers

 Ever wonder what it's like to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a remote village overseas, but hesitant to take the plunge and commit for two-plus years? 

I certainly was! 

I was excited when my brother Jack signed up for the Peace Corps and headed out for a new adventure in May of 2011. We were all very interested to learn about what he would discover in Cameroon (and how it might compare with what our dad experienced as a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia decades ago). We've kept up with him on Facebook and on his blog, so we feel lucky to have open and frequent lines of communication (as some other volunteers don't have that luxury).

I traveled throughout Cameroon with Jack for a little over two weeks, and we saw a fair amount of the country and visited with many of his friends, contacts, and fellow volunteers in a relatively short time frame.

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HubSpot has it goin' ON!

Have you ever worked at a company where the stated mission and values don't exactly sync with the day-to-day reality for employees OR customers? Over-promising and under-delivering cultural statements and programs can certainly rub employees the wrong way, for one. Unfortunately, that's not easy to hide from the most important stakeholders: customers.

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