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Managing Creatives: An Owner’s Manual

Cover of 1981 DeLorean Owners ManualManaging creative people is both the best and the scariest job I’ve ever had. On some days I feel like the luckiest guy on the planet. On other days, I feel like I’ve gone nine rounds with Sybil. To become a decent manager, I read management books, watched what my bosses did (and didn’t do), and tried to figure out how I’d like to be managed.

The common thread here is that people want to know what’s going on and where they stand. Most people want to contribute to a team and feel like they’re doing something useful, if not important. Usually people want to like their bosses and be liked by them in return, even though it doesn’t always work out that way.

This led me to write down my learnings as an operating guide for me. I share it with all my team members because it has more lasting value as a document than as a conversation. Most of those I’ve worked with will tell you that I’m about the straightest shooter they’ve ever met. I mean what I say and I’m consistent over time. I hope this can help you get in touch with your inner manager and make your working life easier and happier.    Read More →

Hey Congress: We The People Want Jobs. Don’t Screw It Up

Over the Fiscal CliffLast Friday, the November jobs numbers came out and the jobless rate hit a 4-year low of 7.7%. Huzzah! While we should be slapping high fives all around, each and every one of us knows how fragile this recovery is and just how easily we can be dragged kicking and screaming back into a recession. Everyone, that is, except Congress; as we approach the fiscal cliff, their dallying and political gamesmanship threatens to stall economic growth and job creation for the first quarter of 2013, if not beyond.

That’s why I’m about to clue them in. Hope you don’t mind.    Read More →

Betting On Mobile in the Workplace: The Coming Change in How We Work

Pile of tablets, Droids, iPhones, iPadsThis article originally appeared on Wyatt Jenkins Product Jazz.

Mobile is reinventing how people work by moving previously complex tasks to smaller portable devices. This work process reinvention is one of my bets on where to place your development resources in the next few years. Lets review the facts illustrating the changes we’ve seen recently.    Read More →

What We’re Reading: Wednesday, December 5

  • Verizon has filed a patent for an in-living-room device allowing them to deliver targeted ads based on viewers’ activities. The patent application actually includes the word “cuddling.” via CBS

    big brother is watching you

    And he wants to sell you things

  • The manufacturing sector has shown surprising growth over the past few months with giants like General Electric acting as the tip of the spear in bringing those jobs back to the US. via The Atlantic
  • Citigroup will cut 11,000 jobs — an overall workforce reduction of almost 4% — and write down $1B as it continues to shrink. via New York Times
  • It’s not quite the clunky, beloved calculator watch of old, but it’s still pretty neat: meet Casio’s new iPhone-loving, Bluetooth-enabled Smart Watch. via TechCrunch
  • Five seriously good tips for helping newspapers transition into the Tablet Era. via Editor & Publisher


Mary Ann Vanterpool: Entrepreneur, Career Changer, and Extraordinary Cat Sitter

Extraordinary Cat SitterHere at The Hired Guns, we’ve got a boatload of interesting people doing interesting things. We like to profile them now and again because we think they’re neat. And because this is the Internet, we’re pretty much required to have something about cats. Lucky for us, there’s Mary Ann Vanterpool. A few years back, Mary Ann — a long-time event coordinator for New York’s storied Copacabana nightclub — decided that the time had come for a drastic career change. She left event management behind and now owns and operates Extraordinary Cat Sitter, the premier in-home cat care service in Manhattan’s Upper West side. Sure, it’s not exactly a digital career, but Mary Ann knows a lot about following your passion and building a successful business. And cats.

Before you became a cat sitter, you had a long career in event management. Did you start there?
Almost, but not quite. I started my professional life as a secretary at Lehman Brothers. It was a very different workplace back then. If you were a secretary, you essentially floated from boss to boss until someone decided they liked you. I worked for the three stock brokers there before I eventually landed with the vice president of a certain cosmetics company. That turned out to be a real Devil Wears Prada situation. I didn’t last long there.    Read More →

What We’re Reading: Monday, December 3

But there will still be robots, right?

  • Check out Fast Company’s 12 Best Business Books of 2012. How many have you read? via Fast Company
  • Put your jet-pack dreams on hold, kids. The future might not be as cool as you think. via Salon
  • IBM Smarter Commerce notes that social media accounted for less than 1% of sales and traffic on Black Friday. Is that proof that Social isn’t an effective driver of sales? (Go ahead and try to guess our opinion on that. We dare you.) via Social Media Today
  • Here’s some sage advice on Digital Body Language. It may seem intuitive, but not everyone gets it. Trust us. via LinkedIn
  • The Pope now has a Twitter handle. We’re still not quite sure what to say about that one. via Reuters

What We’re Reading: Friday, November 30

  • Feeling inadequate about your Klout score? Or maybe a little jealous of that friend from college who’s always posting jet-setting pics on Facebook? If not, Richard Branson just gave us 1 million reasons to feel a little behind on this whole social network thing. via Mashable
  • Footfall123, the Social marketing platform that bills itself as “the loyalty platform for the high street” just landed $1.7£ ($2.7M US) in Series A funding from backers including notables like Samos and Venrex. via TechCrunch
  • What can Big Macs tell us about the state of economies worldwide? You might be surprised. via TheStreet
  • Keep this list handy while doing your holiday shopping to help you decode all that cryptic marketing double-speak. via Inc.
  • What happens when your personal brand tanks? Ask Damien Hirst. via BusinessWeek


The Recovery is Here, Part II: Holiday Parties and Taxi Cab Economics

Photo from

Over the last several months, the conversation at The Hired Guns HQ has revolved around the feeling that the economy is finally rebounding. We’re getting more good news by the day. From improved housing stats to the Fed announcing in its most recent Beige Book that — wait for it — there are modest hiring shortages, particularly in high tech.

After a recession like the one we’ve just experienced, it’s like crawling out of a mineshaft after five years to find yourself staring at the sun: can a recovery really be true? While I am an optimist, I am also inherently skeptical and feel the need for constant gut checks. One thing I do is constantly talk to real people — especially job seekers — about how they’re feeling about the economy. Perhaps my best barometer for what’s in the air, as unscientific as it is, is what I call “The Taxi Cab Index.”    Read More →

Fatigue is Your Enemy: Tony Schwartz’s Words of Wisdom on Workplace Burnout

The Hired Guns are exceedingly proud to reprint this piece by Tony Schwartz, noted author and President and CEO of The Energy Project. The piece below originally appeared in the Harvard Business Review, for which Tony is a popular blogger.

Two years ago, I began hearing the phrase “It isn’t sustainable” over and over from senior executives. They were talking about the everyday demands at work.

The day of reckoning seems to have arrived. During the past month alone, no less than a half dozen senior executives have told me that fatigue, exhaustion and even burnout are the biggest issues they’re facing both for themselves and among their troops.

Sustainable capacity — meaning sufficient fuel in the tank — is what makes it possible to bring one’s skill and talent to life. Not even the most talented and motivated employees can run on empty.    Read More →

What We’re Reading: Wednesday, November 28

  • The next Silicon Valley is…Manchester, New Hampshire? DNS start-up Dyn wants us to think so. via Business Insider
  • Cyber Monday might be pegged perennially as a myth, but don’t tell that to the consumers. Spending was up 30% this year, with a healthy boost from mobile users. via Marketing Pilgrim
  • Employee engagement is hot term right now, but venerable Canadian brewer Labatt was ahead of the curve when they created an official booklet of company drinking songs back in the 1930s. via Retronaut
  • Forget bargain pharmaceuticals and pleas from imprisoned foreign royalty. It turns out that marketing emails account for 70% of all spam complaints. via eConsultancy
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