Thursday, March 1, 2007

Ask the wizard

One of the gifts of working in a small company is the opportunity to interact with every aspect of the business. Not only is it rare for someone to look at a different part of the company and remark “That’s not my job”, but if the culture’s right, it’s actually frowned upon. I like that my team can diagnose feed validity errors, that Justin from the AdOps team is filling in for me on a panel next week at SXSW, and that the engineering team periodically lobs publisher leads over the fence. We’ve all got one eye on what the other guys are doing, because it keeps us engaged, and we all learn about the business we’re building in real time.

But a paradox of this is that when you catch the wave just right, you realize pretty quickly that there’s little (if any) time for reflection. Casual chats with the founders (who’ve built several companies prior to FeedBurner) are unusual, not because they are above such things, but because what time we have together is focused on growing the business.

Which is why I’ve been so thrilled to watch Dick’s new blog develop, Ask the Wizard. As you read the rest of this, you may be tempted to ask whether I’m not just sucking up by praising the boss’s new blog. To which I’d respond, “Why are you interrupting me? And why are you so cynical?”

The FeedBurner office environment is great – and by “great”, I mean “it’s really open and try as you might to be quiet, Dick hears everything and will tell you what he thinks right away.” If you happen to still be on the phone while he’s overhearing your conversation, he’ll even IM you to share his thoughts. I think that’s what they call “hands-on” management.

See? It’s not all sucking up.

Where was I? The blog. Right. If you aren’t reading Dick’s blog and you have any interest in a from-the-trenches view of how to start and grow a tech business, you should head over immediately. I can’t really single out any one post – in just the first couple weeks, he’s already tackled subjects like raising capital, attracting the right team, cultivating a culture, scoping the business, working with your board, and several others. Ordinarily, you’d need to work closely with someone like Dick to get this kind of insight – but now, thanks to these wonderful tubes we call the Internet – you can just read about him. (Bonus: by reading his blog, he won’t hear your phone calls.)

Chances are several of you reading my all-over-the-place blog are interested in tech strategy, FeedBurner specifically, or start-ups. If so, Dick’s site should be on your reading list.

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