Startup Networking – Work Hard, Get Recognized

I’ve never thought of myself as someone who is good at networking—it’s all just natural.  I must be doing something right, though, because I came to San Francisco  knowing nobody in the startup or tech world, and now I feel pretty dialed in.

Recently, people have been asking me how I became so good at networking, which got me thinking about some of the things I’ve done since getting into the tech community, and I thought I’d share what I’ve learned.


Work Hard

The first thing you need to do is work hard, put in the time, and do a good job.  People will respect you for it.  This is the best way by far to build a brand and get recognized.  In the beginning, you need to mold your life around your work.  Work hard and long hours.  Stick around the office even when you aren’t actually working. Good things will happen.  When you aren’t in the office, stay focused on becoming better.

I worked in business development for an edtech marketplace startup, so I attended startup, marketplace, and edtech events weekly; read startup, marketplace, and edtech articles daily; and found ways to surround myself with people who knew more than I did in these areas.


Write & Share

Blog. “Open the Kimono” is the expression I’m looking for.  Feel free to share the processes you’re creating, and the experiences that you are learning from.  I share about 90% of the things I learn while building business and a career in tech.  When it comes to replicable processes, I’m happy to help other entrepreneurs trying to do similar things for their companies.

Am I worried that people will take my processes and call them their own, or implement them and not need me?  Not at all.  The truth is, most people will read what I write, and be impressed with the content, but they don’t have the capacity to execute like I can.

After all, they’re my processes, and I’m fairly experienced in using them.  Most junior hires won’t be able to execute like I can, and most CEOs or higher-ups don’t have the bandwidth to put them in place.  At this point, my blog is like my resume.  This is what I can bring to the table immediately.


Start a Group

At Udemy I spent a ton of time figuring out different ways to hack the sales process.  It’s all about being resourceful and doing more with less.  We’d build scrapers, use outsourcers, and find ways to make ourselves look more established than other companies.  My passion lay in hacking the sales process.

I was fortunate enough to find three other guys in San Francisco interested in the same area of startups, so we formed a monthly sales hacker group.  The group now has about 20 people per month, and has spawned into a 400-person conference.

Again, this is after you’ve put in the hard work, but you don’t need to be a big shot to get something started.  If you are a community manager at a marketplace, start a group for community managers at marketplace companies.

These groups are great for learning from others that are in similar situations, meeting like-minded people, and recruiting potential hires.


Throw an Event

When I was working at Udemy, we decided it would be a good idea to keep track of how many pushups we were doing at work.  The entire company got involved and it became a fun little cultural thing.  This led us to believe that other startups might want to challenge us in a pushup contest.  Two coworkers and I started an event called Pushup Charity, and invited startups all over SF to participate in our event.  We also added a few local charities that would benefit from the event.

We reached out through our networks to throw one hell of an event, sell out the venue, and raise over $10K for charity.  I didn’t need to be connected to anything in order to start Pushup Charity.  You just need to have the hustle to put it together and make it happen.  Anyone can do it.


Reach Out Directly

After you’ve worked hard and long, you should be beginning to become an expert at something.  When you become an expert at something, no matter how big or small, you can add value to the community.  This is when you can really start to meet people you have interest in.

If you are looking to connect with a certain individual, you can email them directly and be sure to offer value in return.

Here’s an example:


Hey {first name},

I’m working at an edtech startup that is similar to what you’ve worked on at ______.  I would love to get your thoughts on _______.

I see that you are working on _______.  I spent some time working on {similar project, with someone in the space, etc} and I think I can be helpful.

Are you interested in a brief chat?



Offering value is always necessary, even if the value is unequal to theirs, it’s something you should try to do.  In the message above, the recipient will know that I did my research on them and thought through how I could help them in return.  Sometimes, if you can’t offer value, offer beer.

Oh, and always follow up.  So many people fail to realize the value of following up after a call or meeting.  It’s so simple and goes a long way.


Demeanor, Respect, & Humility

I’ve added this section because it’s truly necessary.  Some people become well known or well connected, and are too free with their connections.  Some carry a big ego and name drop all day.  The latter are much more awful than the former.

I’m no big deal, but I do get a fair amount of inbound emails or Linkedin messages asking me to give advice or connect someone to someone.  When I was newer to the scene, I sent a ton of these cold messages.  I know how it feels to be on the other end.  Don’t burn bridges and don’t take it personally if someone can’t spend time with you right now.  When you’re in the position of the person being asked, remember when that was you hoping to connect with someone.

As for the respect part, this goes more for when you have a network and you are making an introduction.  I like to ask the person receiving the intro, before I make any introduction.  This is a courtesy that I think should be extended in just about every situation.

Just send over some quick info about the person and reiterate how you think it will be mutually beneficial.  Realistically, it should have to be mutually beneficial if you’re setting people up to connect.  You look better to both connections when everyone is happy with the conversation.

Always thank people for intro’s in the following email.  It’s also nice to write the person who introduced you to the person you just met, to thank them again.


Don’t Try Too Hard

What I mean by this is, don’t try so hard to build a brand and a network that you start to look desperate.  If you do the things above, the right people will know who you are.

Say no things.  You probably don’t need a blog, a vlog, a course, an ebook, etc.  Unless you’re trying to start a lifestyle business, pick an area to display your thoughts and stick to that.  In this case it’s better to do one of these extremely well than to spread it over multiple different platforms.  If you have a day job and are kicking ass at it, you definitely won’t have time to do all of these well.


Of course, all of this has been made easy and enjoyable because I love what I do.  Entrepreneurship is my passion, and I would’ve been screwed from the beginning if I didn’t enjoy it all.  It makes it a lot more casual.


Other considerations for this list are,

  • Find a mentor or two as early as you can.
  • Hang out with coworkers.
  • Don’t be a dick.
  • Give unsolicited feedback if you can be helpful.

Backpacking Like a Pro: What to Pack

Throughout my travels I’ve gained valuable experience and insights into how to backpack like a champ.  This is the first article I’ve written on travel and it’s packed with goodies that should help backpackers of any level, travel anywhere in the world.  Here’s a quick background on my travel experience:

  • I’ve been to 68 countries, many of them solo.  
  • I’ve lived in the US, China, Costa Rica, Thailand, Nicaragua, and Spain.
  • I’ve been to every continent but Antarctica.
  • I’ve been robbed, beaten, shot at, seriously electrocuted, hit by cars(2x), insanely sick with ecoli, went temporarily blind, escaped city splitting riots, seen dead bodies, all while traveling.
  • I’ve climbed volcanoes, glaciers, great walls, and ancient ruins.  Trekked through salt deserts, sand deserts, sand dunes, and sweaty jungles.  I’ve approached almost every situation a traveler could be faced with.

These are the backpackers best friends that I would not leave home without.

Underwater Camera

Especially if you are traveling alone, you don’t ever want to have to leave anything valuable on the beach.  An underwater camera allows you to keep it on you at all times.  You can also take some incredible pictures depending on where you are traveling to.  Sometimes I even use it as an icebreaker for talking to girls at a pool like in Vegas.  I ask them to take a picture of us in the pool and while I’m handing it to them I purposely drop it in the water.  You have to play it off like they just broke your camera.  The look on their face is priceless.  Retrieve the camera and tell them it’s waterproof, and now the ice has been broken.

Any one of these would do –

The Perfect Travel Backpack

This took me awhile to find but I’m glad I did.  Here’s a few that I like and the criteria you should look for.


This backpack opens from the front, not the top.  That makes it a lot easier to load and unload.  It also gives you an extra bag that you can use which sits on the front of the bigger bag.  When traveling you can use the small bag as a day pack or the piece that travels under your chair, and the big bag can stay in the cargo area or back at the hostel.

My Caribee backpack has metal zippers that allows me lock them together.  Someone would have to cut through my bag to get in.

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 7.50.50 PM

The Totruga Backpack has many of the same features as the Caribee such as the lockable zippers and is also front loading with plenty of space.  It has a few more pockets than the Caribee, which can definitely come in handy on long trips where you’re collecting things to bring back home.






Ski Lock

Allows you to lock your bag to things.  If you’re traveling alone, this is can be a life saver.

Story: I was backpacking through Israel and wanted to go from Eilat to Jerusalem with a stop in Ein Bokek(the Dead Sea) but did not want to spend a night there.  I was solo so I couldn’t leave my bag with anyone.  I changed in a McDonalds bathroom and used my ski lock to lock the bag to a metal pole.  I spent two hours on the beach and in the water, and my bag was safely tied up the whole time.  I also have a lock over the zippers so nobody can open it but you can use the Ski-lock for that too if you’d like.

Check this one out -


Two Credit Cards

Keep one on you and one in your bag at the hostel as a safety.  I have two BOA accounts just for this reason.  You don’t want to be in a situation where you lose your only credit card and you are stuck without a lifeline.


Multiple Memory Cards

I know that a 32GB memory card is cheaper than 4 – 8GB cards but what happens if you lose your camera with your card in it and you haven’t had a chance to transfer your photos.  I usually travel with at least 2 or more memory cards so I can rotate them.  Keep one in the camera and the others at the hostel. This buys me time to upload my photos to a computer and if I lose my camera, I will only lose the photo’s that I’ve just recently taken.


Backup Camera Battery

You should also pickup a backup camera battery, so you can keep one charged up at all times back at the hostel.  Don’t miss out on capturing an incredible photo because your battery died.


Frogg Togg

This is a towel that can be rung out and re-stored back in your bag after use.  No need to wash in a laundry machine and no need to carry a big puffy towel.  It stays dry, wet, cold, or warm.  However you want it.

Check it out here -


iHome Mini Speakers

These things are awesome.  They’re no bigger than your fist so they take up minimal space in your bag. Talk about a clutch purchase for hostels, beaches, camp outs, or wherever you want to play music on the road.

Try these –


Portable Power Strip

Necessary for world travel if you have many devices that need charging daily.  Definitely grab a small travel power strip like this.

I use this one –

iPod Nano

These are great to travel with because they’re rugged and don’t take up space.  You won’t be worried if anything happens to it and it holds a ton of music.  In poorer countries, you can use it without having to worry about taking out your phone.

Pick a color, any color –


Cheap Digital Watch

This is a nice-to-have.  Many times you won’t be carrying your phone around as A) it doesn’t work or B) it’s too expensive to carry around in Nairobi(insert third world city). You’re going to need a way to tell time.  It’s also nice to be able to set an alarm on something that won’t die easily like your phone.  Don’t miss your ride, it will cost you.

Perfect –


Business Cards

Now now, I’m not telling you to go find new business at some run down hostel in rural Nepal.  People are able to keep in touch now easier than ever.  When I was backpacking in 2010 I made some fun business cards that had my contact info(email, facebook, cell) and my face on them.  Many people don’t carry cell phones or at least not smart phones, so this was the best way to exchange info on the fly.  I totally recommend looking into this for your travels, you never know what it might lead to.


Clearasil Wipes

These are great for feeling clean when you don’t have the cleanest water.  It also helps if you’re taking a flight because there’s no water in the bottle so you can put it in your carry on bag.

This will work –


Tide Sticks 

Sometimes you must face the sad truth that you can’t pack everything and won’t be able to do laundry as often as you like.  Deodorant and cologne can mask the smell but Tide Sticks allow you to spot clean on the go so you don’t look like a total slob, you just feel like one.

See –


Other notable must-haves:

A Pen – Don’t get stuck waiting to borrow a pen at immigration.  Don’t hold up the line or your friends, and be that guy.

Advil – You will be hungover.  You will want Advil on demand.  Enough said.

Stomach Meds – Almost everyone will eat something on their trip that doesn’t agree with them, and feel it almost immediately.  You’re going to want to pack some Tums/Pepto or Imodium.  Better safe than sorry and it takes up very little space.  Strike a balance between trying new things and understanding your limits.  Don’t be a hero.

Cash – Hide some in your travel backpack, some in your day bag, some in a sock, some in a different pocket.  Don’t keep your cash all in one place and definitely don’t keep it on you at all times.  I like to carry a US $20 in my sock or shoe wherever I go, unless I’m in the wild.

Spare Headphones – Nothing can put a damper on your day like losing a pair of headphones.  No imagine doing it in an area where you can’t buy one for a few hundred miles.  This one doesn’t apply to everyone but it’s come in handy for me before.

Chapstick – You won’t believe how expensive and hard to find it is outside of the US.  Even in Spain, you could only buy it at a drugstore and it was priced close to $6 for one tube.

Plastic Zip Sandwich Bags – I usually just grab 3-4 out of the box, roll them up and throw them in a pocket of my bag.  They’re very versatile and can come in handy for collecting tickets/souvenirs, wrapping up leaky toiletries, collecting change, etc.

Passport/Yellow Vaccination Papers – If you leave the US you should always carry these two together.  If you are planning on going to a third world country, you vaccination papers could stop you from getting into a country.  Keep these in your passport.


BD Blogs to Follow

I figured it would be helpful to add a few blogs that I like to follow for people interested in going deeper into BD/Sales hacks.

Ryan Buckley-

Cristina Cordova-

Scott Pollack-

Alex Taub-

Rob Ousbey-

Ilya Lichtenstein-

Andrew Dumont-

Scott Britton-

Gary Halbert Letters-  (Not really a blog but if you read the Boron Letters you will thank me later)

David Skok-


I’ll continue to add as I find new ones.

A Better Way To Read Business Books

Many young entrepreneurs and hustlers seem to always be wondering, “how do I best go about growing my young career?”

Your main options are usually:

  • Networking – meetups/events, connecting 1 on 1 with people to “pick their brains”.
  • Blogs – Reading startup/tech blogs and commenting steadily.
  • Books – Devouring business book after business book.
  • Writing – Start establishing yourself as a thought leader or subject matter expert in your space or in startups/tech/etc.

Since I’m all about efficiency, I would recommend finding a way to hack each one of these.  In this case, we’ll look at reading.

Business books are incredibly redundant and are created so that even the slowest individual will understand them.  Seriously, who has time to read a 467 page book on The Art of Seduction?  If you do, you are either extremely lucky or probably not spending your time wisely.  If you’ve read the book, Think and Grow Rich, you definitely know what I’m talking about.

So, in order to obtain the wisdom these books provide without spending an eternity reading examples of the same topic until it’s beaten into your brain, I recommend finding solid book summaries.

Here are some companies that already make book summaries:

I also wanted to share this book summary that was sent to me via email of a very interesting book on body language.*

Definitive Book of Body Language-

Reading body language comes up many times in everyday life and is an underrated skill to master, just ask the FBI.

Please enjoy and let me know if you come across any good reads (summaries) or new summary sources/sites.

*(Thanks to Eric Dubs and Teddy Daiell)


Biz Dev Interview with Scott Britton

Check out my recent interview with Scott Britton of Life-long Learner.



We discuss:

  • How I started a business making American money abroad right out of school before joining education marketplace Udemy.
  • Insight into creating a process to build out the supply side marketplace for Udemy
  • Business Process Outsourcing
  • Critical elements to successfully managing a pipeline
  • Ways we compelled teachers to take action on their verbal commitments to teach courses
  • Advice I’d give anyone whose looking to land a startup job
  • My new gig at Attorney Fee and what I like about the business

Take a look around Scott’s blog as well.  He’s got some great articles and pieces of advice that I use myself.


Hacking Email Productivity: Inbox Zero The Easy Way

Everyone wants to get to inbox zero, but there are good and bad ways to do it.  You need to stay organized or your productivity will not last.  Consider this my 4 hour workweek tutorial on email.

With my process, most normal people will only really need to spend time on email twice per day.  I do mornings before I head to the office and late afternoon.  I’m usually back on around 10pm because I find that I work well during that time, but my inbox is usually pretty clean by then and I’m working on bigger projects.

I’ve been using the new Mailbox App for a few days now and I like my way much better.  I’ve set up my email system to not only be productive, but to be organized, that’s how you form good habits that allow you to stay productive in the long term.

My weapons of choice are Gmail on Chrome/Mac OS along with the Gmail App on iOS/iPhone 5.  I find this is the best way to keep my accounts organized and utilize the features I use daily.  Let’s dig into the features first.

Labels-  Use these to color code your inbox so you can easily sort for the information later.  The individual inbox for these labels will come up on the left side of Gmail, underneath where it says Inbox.

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 10.56.44 AM


To edit and add Labels, go to your Settings in Gmail.  To get there, click on the gear looking icon on the top right.  Once in Settings, hit Label,s and under the word Label click the Create Label button.

Screen shot 2013-02-14 at 10.46.23 PM


Here’s an example of the main Labels I use.  Some of these Labels work for your Personal Inbox and some for your Work Inbox; you decide.

  • Now- For emails I need to do in a timely manner.
  • Later-For emails I need to take care of by the end of the day.
  • Boomerang-Emails that have been returned to me.  This is a plugin that I’ll get to further along in this post.
  • ToBeBoomeranged-Since I can’t Boomerang from my phone, I can label the email with this and the Later Label and do it when I get home.
  • Groups- This is for other groups I’m involved in.  I have one labeled Sales Hackers and another labeled Pushup Charity.
  • Bills/Receipts- Bills and receipts.
  • Instructors- Much of my job consists of exchanges between myself and Instructors so this makes sense for me.  For you it might be Clients, Customers, our whatever your company calls them.
  • Company/Team- I use a label for each of these as sometimes there are important tasks or threads I’d like to follow.  It’s also great for searching through past emails.

All of these are just examples and can be altered to however you feel most comfortable.  Once they’re created, you should go to the left side of your inbox and give each Label a color.  Click the upside down triangle on the right of the Label to find a color for it.  Also, Hide everything else you haven’t labeled since it is unimportant.  In “In label list:” choose either Show if unread or Hide.  Here’s how I did it.

Screen shot 2013-02-14 at 10.48.54 PM


Most Gmail inboxes come with everything in one section.  It’s just sorted by most recent email and this is a terrible way to stay organized.  Instead, we are going to split up your Gmail Inbox into four separate sections.

  • Unread
  • Now
  • Later
  • Everything else

Here’s how we set it up.

  1. Go back in to your settings and hit the Inbox button.
  2. At Inbox Type hit the drop down and select Priority Inbox.
  3. This should bring up the options for four inboxes.  Make the first one = Unread, the second one = Now, the third one = Later, the fourth one =Everything else.
  4. In the Inbox Unread Count section make sure the 1st circle is checked.  Show Markers and Dont Override Filters should also be checked on the page.
  5. Save Changes.

Screen shot 2013-02-14 at 10.54.35 PM


Now click your inbox and check out your new look.

Clear Out Old Unread Emails

If you have 1,000’s of unread emails that are not relevant you should clear them all out.

  1. Click Settings and then go to your Filters and click Create a New Filter.
  2. In the Has The Words field enter “is:unread” (don’t use the “‘s) and click the Next Step button.
  3. Ignore the message if it appears and click continue.
  4. Check the boxes next to Mark as Read and Also apply filter to _ matching conversations. (if you want to discard these messages you can click Move to Trash instead of Mark as Read.  I wouldn’t do this.)
  5. Click Create Filter.

Screen shot 2013-02-14 at 11.59.00 PM


Check your Inbox as everything should be moved from the Unread section to the Everything else section.  Clean slate!

*Make sure you go back to your Filters after and click Delete on the right side of the filter you just created.

Now anything you add the Label’s Now and Later to will show up in the middle sections.  If you check your email and the message is going to take you longer than a few seconds to answer, label it based on it’s urgency.  If it needs attention right away, add the Now label to it.  If it can wait, add the Later label to it.

Anything else that comes in that doesn’t need a response just tag with Mark as Read.  Your Inbox will only ever be filled with new mail, and this enables you to compartmentalize your email into actionable, bite-size pieces.

Starring Emails

Starring emails is not necessary but can make you even more organized.

  1. Click into the Settings for Gmail and stay in the General section.
  2. Go down and find the Stars section.
  3. Drag the orange, red, purple, and blue stars behind the yellow stars (in that order), to the In Use section.
  4. Save Changes.

Screen shot 2013-02-14 at 11.04.16 PM


Go back to your inbox and click one of the stars next to an email a few times.  This is a good way to judge importance among a group of emails.  It’s literally now a 1-5 star rating, 5 stars being the most important.  This will be useful for some people, but is not necessary at all.  I’ll let you be the judge.

Screen shot 2013-02-14 at 11.20.06 PM

Sorted as an example for use here.


Mobile and Gmail on The Go

The Gmail app is way more intuitive than the Apple Mail app and is necessary for full productivity.  Go to the Appstore on an Android or iPhone and grab the free Gmail app.

Once you have the Gmail app, you’ll want to sync it to your Gmail accounts.  This should be pretty simple since they’re probably already synced to your native iOS email app.  Now that it’s setup, click the tab at the top left which looks like an equals sign with an extra horizontal line.  You’ll be able to see the four inboxes there.  I keep it on my Unread box screen.

Side-note: You won’t be able to see all your inboxes in one view with the Gmail app.  This has never been important to me but it may be to you.

When an email comes in, you can sort it straight from your phone.  Click the shadowed box on the left of the email and then the triangle that pops up at the bottom.

Mark as Unread to remove it from your Unread inbox.  Hit Label and select the appropriate label(s) you’d like to apply.  Make sure to choose New or Later as well as the other label such as Company to apply to it.

The Gmail app also allows you to select multiple emails at once and give them all the same Labels, discard them, or mark them as read.


photo 4photo 5photo 3













Combined, all of these functions make the Gmail app the best option.


Boomerang is a plug-in for Gmail that allows you to bounce emails back to you when you’re ready to read it.  This is good for emails that aren’t urgent, aka don’t need to be read today.  You can have it bounced back to you whenever you’d like; you just set the time.  Vist the site at and follow the install instructions, then check your Gmail.  It should show up on the page on the top bar and again when you hit Compose.

Screen shot 2013-02-14 at 11.36.30 PM


Sidenote:  This works well for sent emails that you’d like to follow up on.  Just send the email and click Boomerang. Then choose when you want to see the email again.  There’s also a great option to only bounce back the email if the recipient does not respond.  Just check the radio box in Boomerang.

Screen shot 2013-02-14 at 11.30.51 PM


You can also send an email at a later time that you’ve already typed.  Hit the Send Later button and set the time.  For example, maybe you want to show an investor you’re hustling at 3am.  Just hit Send Later for 3am and show him you never stop working ;-)  I encourage you not to start relationships like that but, hey, that’s your business not mine.  If he’s on EST and picks up the phone to call you back, don’t blame me!

Screen shot 2013-02-14 at 11.33.48 PM


Summary:  Here’s how I go about putting this all together.

  • If I can answer it in 30 seconds, I answer it.
  • If it takes longer than 30 seconds but is urgent, it gets marked as Read and labeled Now.
  • If it takes longer than 30 seconds and isn’t urgent but I should get to it by the end of the day, its marked as Read and labeled Later.
  • If it takes longer than 30 seconds and isn’t urgent and can be answered in a few days it gets boomeranged.
  • The ToBeBoomeranged Label is only for use on the Gmail app on your phone.  You can’t Boomerang things from there so I label them ToBeBoomeranged as well as label them Later.  When I get to a computer I sort them out via Boomerang.
Again, this allows you to be organized so you can allot yourself time twice a day to clear through emails instead of stopping and starting throughout the day.  Don’t let email become a distraction.

Try this out for a bit and try to make it a habit.  If you can get this down you’ll be more productive than ever.  Just get used to seeing this guy and thank me later.


photo 1


Hacking Email Productivity: Google Labs

If you’re not familiar with it, Google Labs has some excellent add-ons that will make your life easier.

This is a continuation of my last post, Hacking Email Productivity: Inbox Zero The Easy Way.

How to set up Google Labs

Go into Gmail.  Then Settings, and hit the Labs tab on the navigation bar.

Screen shot 2013-02-17 at 6.40.07 PM

Once you’re in the Labs area you can peruse the different add-ons that might work for you.  These were not created by Google, so they might break or crash once in a while, but they’ve been pretty solid for the most part.

Screen shot 2013-02-17 at 7.26.48 PM

Here’s a few that I love and use daily.

Canned Responses

“Save and then send your common messages using a button next to the compose form. Also you can automatically send emails using filters.”

I have a few canned responses that come in handy that are short and easy.  These are mainly for pleasantries.  For instance, if some accepts a meeting or emails you an update about it, you don’t need to respond but a simple “Sounds great” or “Looking forward to it” would be nice to reply and acknowledge them.  Canned responses make these super easy.

Screen shot 2013-02-17 at 6.48.13 PM


Extra Emoji-

“Compose messages with a richer set of Emoji characters.”

No real reason here; this one is just plain fun.

Screen shot 2013-02-17 at 6.50.46 PM


Google Calendar gadget-

“Adds a box in the left column that shows your Google Calendar. See upcoming events, locations, and details”

It’s great to constantly switch between tabs just to see what’s coming up in an hour.

Screen shot 2013-02-17 at 6.51.46 PM

Inserting images-

“Allows you to insert images into a message body. You can upload and insert image files from your computer, or insert images by URLs.”

Not really sure why this isn’t a normal feature but when I turn it off the icon is gone, so switching it on is the only way to have access to such easy image insertion.

Screen shot 2013-02-17 at 6.56.02 PM


Undo Send(personal favorite)-

“Oops, hit “Send” too soon? Stop messages from being sent for a few seconds after hitting the send button.”

Pretty self-explanatory, but could end up being a life saver for you one day.  I use it often when I catch a misspelling or forget a CC.

Screen shot 2013-02-17 at 7.01.36 PM


Labs to Test

There are others that I like but either haven’t had a chance to use or just haven’t found them useful for my individual process.  I’ll put a (*) next to the ones I’m going to test and will update the article as I go.

Create a Document-

“Allows you to create a Google Document from an email conversation or a new blank document if your keyboard shortcuts are enabled by hitting ‘g’ then ‘w’.”

Custom Keyboard Shortcuts-

“Lets you customize keyboard shortcut mappings. Adds a new Settings tab from which you can remap keys to various actions.”

Google Docs Gadget*-

“Adds a box in the left column that displays your Google Docs. Shows recent docs, starred docs, and has fast search.”

Could be useful.  I’m going to pay attention to how much I would use Gdocs within email over the next few weeks.  I don’t want to just add things I won’t use as it might end up being too much clutter.

Google Voice Player in Gmail-

“Lets you play voicemails left on your Google Voice account right from the email notification.”

Would be great if I used Google Voice.

Mark as Read Button*-

“Mark emails Read without opening them.”

Useful for my email system.

Multiple Inboxes*-

“Add extra lists of emails in your inbox to see even more important emails first. The new lists of threads can be labels, your starred messages, drafts or any search you want; all configurable under Settings.”

Could be interesting or could just clutter my inbox screen.

Message Sneak Peek*-

“Peek into a conversation without opening it by right-clicking on a message in your inbox.”

This could potentially make me slightly more productive so I’d like to give it a try.

Preview Pane*-

“Provides a preview pane to read mail right next to your list of conversations, making mail reading faster and adding more context.”

Sounds like the sneak peek add-on.

Quick Links*-

Adds a box to the left column that gives you 1-click access to any URL you would like to bookmark in Gmail. You can use it for saving frequent searches, important individual messages, and more.

Would be great when booking flights to have the link to the checkin page right in my inbox.  I can see it being useful for other things as well.

How To Get Through To A Decision Maker (Hustler’s Edition)

Would you like to know a few different techniques I use to uncover email addresses that aren’t available publicly and how to use them to get through to a decision maker?  Keep reading…

Finding an email address in today’s world is incredibly easy with all the tools out there but for this tactic, you’re going to need to be familiar with the Reverse Rapportive Hack.

Reverse Rapportive Hack and How to Use it

Rob’s done a great job explaining this hack and supplies you with video and a copy of his email permutator.  Check it out before you read on,

Using Linkedin and Crunchbase

After you’ve found your target customer you’ll probably have a list of companies that fit the bill.  For example, your target customer could be SaaS companies that have raised a B round or have a valuation of over $100 million or a sales team larger than 20 employees.  In the tech industry Crunchbase works well for finding these things out.  Outside of tech, well, you’re on your own but there’s plenty of resources if you know your way around a search engine.

Once you’ve found which companies you’d like to go after, you now need to find out who the decision maker is that you’d like to talk to.  For smaller companies, Crunchbase usually has the C-level employees listed.  For larger companies you may need to do some digging on Linkedin.

Sidenote: To see anyone’s full profile on Linkedin see section (ii) in this article (

For the larger companies, you’re not usually going to start talking to, or necessarily need to talk to, a C-level employee in order to make things happen.  For example, at Udemy we might want to go after a publisher to add their whole content library to the platform.  We would want to talk to a VP of Digital Initiatives or a Director of Business Development.  For small to medium size publishers it might be different.  I’ll run you through a test case so you can see what I mean.

Example –  Acacia Lifestyle DVDs

I came across their video library of fitness and lifestyle DVDs that would be perfect on Udemy.  They are about 50 employees and are between a small and medium size publisher.

As you can see, their contact page is useless for my case-

Example Contact Page

So how do I go about getting them excited to use Udemy for their content library?  If we look closer at the contact page we’ll see at the very bottom a note that says, “All site contents © Acacia, a division of Acorn Media Group.”  

Example Contact Page Highlight

Now were getting warmer but even when I click through, their contact page is still useless to me-

That means, it’s time to get to work!  I open Linkedin and search for Acorn Media Group.

Linkedin Search

Click “See All” on the right side of the page under the employee info.

Screen shot 2013-02-13 at 5.24.59 PM


Once you have the employees listed, look down to the bottom left of the page and start playing with the filters.  For this one I checked off Sales, Marketing, and Business Development under the Function category, Director and VP under the Seniority category. 

Screen shot 2013-02-13 at 5.27.24 PM

In your case, you may not even want to worry about seniority as maybe a Marketing Manager can help you quicker.  In my case, I think a Marketing Manager might be my best bet to read my email and get me in the door in a timely manner.  So I unchecked the boxes under seniority and see a list of about 12 employees.  The Marketing Manager is Alexis Logan, the 5th one from the top.

Screen shot 2013-02-13 at 5.29.23 PM


Now it’s time for the Rapportive hack to come into play.  If you do not have Rapportive, go to and download the plug-in.  I use Chrome and Gmail.  Once the plug-in is installed and enabled, you’re ready to go.

After a quick Google search for Acorn Media, I now know the domain name is

I can either use Rob Ousbey’s email permutator which is linked above or I can start trying some combinations myself.

We’ll know when we’ve gotten the correct email when we see that it’s linked to an online profile like Linkedin or Twitter.  Sometimes a picture will show up.  Let’s see if I can guess it in a few tries as most companies use the first four combinations I’ll enter in the demo.

Video Demo:

Bingo! was the correct email address.  It’s safe to say that anyone else at Acorn Media uses the same format of first initial then last name @ company name.  This true probably 95% of the time.

Does this work every single time?  No.  Does anything really work every time?  But hey, it’s been good to me and when it hasn’t worked I’ve figured out some work arounds and have gotten the information I’ve wanted.  If you have any questions or comments please feel free to reach me below or on the contact page.

Now it’s time to craft a cold email that will knock her socks off :-)  Stay tuned and I’ll show you how I write it.


If you’d like to learn how to build a bot that does this using Python, see Ryan Buckley’s Hacking For Sales articles.


Outsourcing: Training and Managing Outsourcers

When training your VA’s, you must give them the most exact directions and set goals that are easily trackable.  This is the only way to make sure you’ve selected a good VA.  If you hire more than one, you’ll start to have a sample size and will know what to expect.

The best way to start is to do the task yourself and see how long it takes.  If you’re having them do Lead Gen, you can set up the process and pipeline and do the task yourself for an hour or until you hit a certain number of leads.  Time it or count how many leads you’ve generated in the hour and that’s how many you should expect from a good VA.

For example, if it takes you an hour to collect 100 leads, then you know have a frame of reference.  If it takes your VA 2 hours to collect 100 leads, then they’re probably not very good.  It’s not unrealistic for them to be as good, or even better than you at this task, especially if they’ve done this before.

This will also allow you to create really solid directions for your VA to document the process, and take screenshots or screencasts with Jing or Skitch as you go.

I like to create a step by step training manual that has everything they need to know as granular as possible.  This should also have all of the logins and passwords that they’ll need to know.

Example (Had to remove parts that were too revealing):

If the test and the manual are good enough and they’ve been doing a similar job in the past, you shouldn’t need to train them much.  I like to just give them the info and the task and let them get started.  I encourage them to ask me questions in the beginning.  The first few you train will help you refine the process to the point where future VA’s won’t have many questions or if they do, one of the other VA’s should know the answer.

If I have multiple VA’s working for me at the same time, I can put them in a group Skype chat or Google group and ask them to ask their questions there.  This way I might not even have to answer because another VA will know the answer, or if I do have to answer, they will all now know how to resolve the issue.

This was the last part of my Hiring Outsourcers process.  Please feel free to reach out or comment if you have any questions at all!

Outsourcing: How to Hire A VA for Your Business

If you have a long process like an entire sales pipeline, you might want to try breaking it up and hire multiple Virtual Assistants for it.  I’ve found it’s best to hire for the exact thing that they are doing instead of making them learn a ton of different things.  You can test this if you wish.

You can pay more and have someone do the whole process, or pay less per VA and have a few do it.  You can also limit their hours so you don’t get charged like crazy.  However, with more VA’s comes more management.  Play around a bit and figure out what works best for your process.

At Udemy, we have VA’s for many different pieces of the sales process.

  • Lead Generation
  • Data importing and cleanup
  • Mass emailing via Toutapp
  • Video editing and uploading
  • Course sorting and cleanup
  • Building web scrapers

They’re seriously good enough to respond to customers in many different roles from customer support to lead qualification.  Thumbtack has built out a team of over 200 reps in the Philippines that run most areas of their business.

Here’s a sample job posting for a Lead Gen task that I put on Odesk.
Title:  Full-time Filipino Lead Generator/Researcher

Job Description:

About Us:
Our company xxxxxxxxxxxx

Where You Fit In:

We are looking for someone to help generate leads for xxxxxxxxx

  • Should be proficient in Excel and comfortable working in Google Docs.
  • Must have solid internet connection 24/7- we mainly communicate via Skype and email and expect you to be online and available during the day.
  • Must be able to communicate in English.
  • Past Researching or Lead Generation experience is a HUGE plus.
  • Must be able to work 9am-5pm Pacific Standard Time, Monday through Friday, as we are based in San Francisco.
  • Please send me a link to past work.

We work with a few other tools/sites.

  • Rapportive in Gmail
  • Google Docs
  • Salesforce
  • Web scrapers
  • Twitter
  • Toutapp

You should be able to pick these up quickly or already have prior experience with them.

Task Example:

We might ask you to find people with Twitter followings or Facebook fan pages of over 20K likes/followers.  We will want them in personal finance, personal development, business, or technology verticals.

Your job will be to find these people and create a leads list with their names, community size, type of vertical, link to their work, and email address.  We will also have you check our database for duplicates.

We will offer between $3-$5 per hour depending on experience and candidate selection.

If this seems like something you will be amazing at, please apply to this job post and take this brief test and fill out the Test Form below.

Find the names, # of Twitter followers, and email addresses for 10 people on this list,

Test Form:

Thanks and we look forward to working with you!
-Super Fun Udemy Family

Skills Required
english microsoft-excel lead-generation internet-research data-scraping keyword-research data-mining google-docs

*Notes on the above Job Posting:

  • Filipino’s are best for this type of task.  Most are retired at legitimate jobs like registered nurses and almost all have been to college.
  • Some people like to give an exact direction in the description to test if the applicant even read the posting.  For example your description would say, “when replying to the post, please send a cover letter and make the first line read, I’m a rock star lead machine and am ready to rock!”  This is supposed to show the employer that they read the post and pay attention to detail.
  • Must work during our hours.
  • We start them at 40 hours but usually increase to 60 hours per week when they’ve earned our trust.
  • I like to insert a form into the job description.  It’s easy to do and timestamps their response.  Make sure your first questions is: Name as it appears on Odesk so you know who responded.  I use Google Forms.

After about 12 hours you’ll have between 25-50 candidates.  I usually pick the top few and ask them to Skype with me before I hire them.  This is when I can give them a timed task which is the most important part.  We know how many leads per hour is strong for us, so a 20 minute sprint test is a good way to see if they can keep pace.