October Memo: Time to Dig in and Warm Up

published Oct 1, 2018
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(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

Dear Team,

While I was expecting to see our usual seasonal audience rise in October, we are being faced with an “October surprise” courtesy of Google, which has now affected both sites, almost erasing all the gains we’d made on AT this year. We were on an upswing, and now it’s tough again.

Want a silver lining?

Well it’s good to keep in mind that these Google changes are global and a sites like Livestrong, Hunker and Well & Good, all of which are owned by the Leaf Group have also seen a scary drops across their properties. Here’s a taste of what that looks like below.

(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

Nevertheless, as we’ve been going through this for awhile, we must remember that it’s the first ones who figure out how to turn it around and correct the punishment that are the winners in the long run.

Which brings me to our work this quarter and the pace of it specifically. Just a few weeks ago we all committed to these objectives for the quarter:


  • COMMERCE: Develop the largest Commerce partnership opportunities ever with Direct Sales.
  • EDITORIAL: Develop the strongest slate of 2019 sellable content in ATM history.
  • AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT: Audit each 2019 tentpole experience to drive traffic and engagement cross-platform, in addition to dollars.


  • DIRECT SALES: Start 2019 in a position to significantly grow YOY revenue
  • INTEGRATED MARKETING: Create winning client concepts and materials
  • ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT: Strategically price and package winning plans
  • OPS: Deliver in full with compelling products + delivered inventory
  • PRICING/PACKAGING: Pricing + packaging to accelerate 2019 revenue
  • PROGRAMMATIC: Make programmatic premium


  • (Gen): Transform AT publishing to expand audience and revenue opportunities.


  • CREATIVE STUDIO: Create campaigns to write home about
  • VIDEO: Create series that catch fire
  • ART: Surprise and delight our audience with fresh art for top performing evergreen posts.


  • OPS: Keep the internal charcoal going to feed heat in the marketplace
  • HR: Create more heat in the marketplace
  • FINANCE: All Department Heads have their fingers on the (Financial) pulse

Now that’s a long list, and I don’t expect you to recognize each and every one, but you should have your one team’s Objective seared in your brain and pulling you forward each and every day.

So go back up and take a look at your department and then read through your team Objective slowly again.

How are you doing?

If we were all doing great, the whole company would be doing great, and we’d be hitting our biggest Heat Up The Marketplace OKR out of the park, but we’re not…. yet. Right now we are behind in our chase to hit our goals, we’re still at 75% of the way to our back half revenue goal and have barely budged our confidence levels across the board in three weeks.

(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

We are behind, and only hard work and extra work is going to make a difference, so let this be fair warning to everyone. The Executive team is hustling and working overtime, and we expect the same of the entire company right now. Reviews are coming up. This is also the moment when we start to think about who will be moved up in the next year and which teams need revamping.

This is go time.

If everyone responds, I am beyond confident that we will meet our Objectives, and I’m personally excited to see what we can do at full strength. So, I look forward to seeing the heat not only in the marketplace, but also throughout the office and our remote teams.

Best, M

PS. On a lighter note – a hat tip to the Commerce department for so totally capturing my attention on the post below that I actually purchased one of these skull logs and enjoyed doing so. You can too.

(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)