September Memo: Passing the Equinox, Our Fall Work Ahead

published Sep 1, 2018
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Old Shaker Village (Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

Dear Team,

We have come so far in this short year together. From January, when we all gathered here in New York and ran our first sprints in many many groups and dreamt big for the year. Those days have infused the year, and I am so glad about that.

This was supposed to be our year to stretch our legs and run, but we have had to use all our energy in dealing with turbulence in our industry – some brought on by ourselves and some brought on by others, from Google to Facebook to nefarious video ad calls to asian bots – but through it all you have performed brilliantly. Content has adjusted, strategies have been tweaked, a new platform has been imagined & built, all operations have tightened up, and Revenue – from Direct to Programmatic to Commerce – has been – and is still in the process of being – transformed 180 degrees. More than all of this, I believe we have pulled together, focused together in the way I asked you all to at the very start of the year.

The results have been incredibly promising. Despite the crappy weather, our audience ranks have never been higher, our reviews from clients have never been more glowing, and our understanding of what we need to do, what we need to change, how much more we need to grow, as never been sharper. In a very real way the struggle of this year has clarified our work together.

But where are we now? What needs to be focused on with these last three months of the year?

For sure, we need to continue to put and prove more heat to the Marketplace. To bring this year in for a landing and successfully dig out of the hole we fell into early on, we all need to surround sales and marketing with our fullest attention as they connect with bigger and newer clients and explain to them in simple terms what a remarkable audience we serve and how they can get in front of them in the best possible and most organic way.

In our fields – home, design and food – advertising should be as good and helpful as our best content.

The challenge here is very, very specific. Our goal for the back half of this year is a big challenge, but it is possible. Let us all keep our eyes on this prize as it will mean not just more gas in the tank, but also that our clients are hearing us in ways they haven’t before. It will mean that we’ve moved up to the next level and our rebuilt sales expertise is working.

But in addition to this, there is something else we need to do.

Because this year has been bruising and hard, it is time to remember the heart of our work. We get up every morning to serve our audiences and improve their lives in ways they’ve never been served before. We succeed every time we receive a comment or email that says “Thank You!” Or “I learned to cook with you!” Or “That’s my favorite recipe!” Or “I love that home!”. For this, it is all about connecting and in this work only our heart can guide us.

So, for these last three months, let’s not just put more heat in the marketplace, let’s also put more heart into the marketplace. Let’s be as real, honest, and connected as the homes we cover. Let’s put more heart into our work with one another.

Remember that we give our audiences a gift with every word, picture, video or graphic we make, and let’s give them a little more this quarter. Let’s give them more of our heart than we have ever given them and connect with them more deeply than we’ve ever done, and let’s see what they say. Let’s surprise them so much that when we gather the next time, here in New York in less than 90 days, we can all raise a glass to not just reaching our goals, but also to sharing – from readers and clients – that we didn’t just make it through, we touched their lives.

Best, Maxwell