Mar 22, 2007

Down on the Cube Farm

EPrize CEO builds culture of creativity

I'm not quite sure of what to say about the article in today's Detroit News written by and starring ePrize CEO Josh Linkner. Of course it's self-congratulatory but it seems a bit self-obsessive as well.

Personally, there were times that I would have liked to have had a ho-down on a cube farm rather than sitting at a card table.

Mar 16, 2007

Intense or Just Tense?

I'm currently working with a former ePrizer and, strange to say, it's only been at this new place that I've ever seen her smile. The ability to smile is one of those things that one sacrifices in such an intense workplace. I think that all spouses, significant others, friends, and family members of exPrizers would say that they're much happier people now than they were then.

It's odd. There are dozens of people that I used to spend hours on end with every darned day of the week that I've managed to lose all contact with. They're either too darned busy or too darned pissed off to maintain any kind of links with me or any other exPrizers. The pace is just too fast and furious to worry about things like absent friends. Out of sight and out of mind. Worse, exPrizers are often demonized after their departure. All things wrong becomes attributed to them and their names are cursed with abandon. Upper Management doesn't do much to help stem this situation. Rather, they pile on and have been known to out and out lie about departed souls. "We talked to them several times..." "They were on a sixty day improvement plan..." "They just weren't 'A' players..." and other rote excuses come too easily when pressed about the departed.

If you're not spoken ill of, you're not spoken of at all. Letting anyone know that an ePrizer has "crossed over" is poo-pooed if not outright verboten. Sending out an email to wish people well and provide new contact information is the exception and not the rule. When one manager sent out a note to say his farewell to a team member and bid him good luck for the whole company to read he was later called on the carpet.

Thinking back on how intense everything was and how tense everyone was at ePrize it doesn't surprise me that we get some amazingly hot-headed comments from current employees here. But, more importantly, this has made me consider what I was like during my tenure at ePrize and I've come to the conclusion that I probably wasn't as nice as I could have been. I knew what was best for my department and for the company -- based on the information I was given. That said, I pursued things doggedly and waxed dogmatically. This didn't always lead to me coming across as the most perfect ray of sunshine. If I stepped on you along the way, I'm probably sorry but I'd have to evaluate that on a case-by-case basis. Just know that outside of ePrize, I and all of the other exPrizers that I've had the pleasure of knowing, are much more prone to smile and be polite than we used to be.

Mar 9, 2007

SweepsXpress Gets Press

You're Like a Toothpick in the Cake.

  1. ePrize Blog - Ideally, this could be Josh Linkner's baby where he could post any articles he's written, talk about his speaking engagements, and generally inform folks of what he and ePrize have been up to. A great PR tool and, perhaps, it might bump blogs like this one out of the ranks of search engines.
  2. News Page as RSS - Create a back end system to allow the ePrize PR maven to cut, paste, and format articles that would feed into the ePrize news page as XML to be parsed out as XHTML. Allow users to sign up for this as an RSS feed or as an email update (a la Feedburner). This would eliminate production time as well as increase SEO while also showing that ePrize can handle current technology.
  3. Promotions Page as RSS - Likewise, maintaining the list of current promotions via a tool that could tag promotions as the handful of categories (Automotive, CPG, Media, etc), sort them and utilize the promotion end date to pull any "dead" promotions could make this an automatic process rather than a manual drudgery. Likewise, if these could feed out as an RSS feed where users would be notified of new promotions would be ideal. Eliminate manual processes and increase visibility, sounds pretty good to me.
  4. Skin 404 Page - As I was surfing I hit a 404 page on It was very ugly. This doesn't have to be the case.
  5. ICO across the board - The <link REL="SHORTCUT ICON" href="images/e_box.ico"> tag should be on every page, not just the home page.
  6. Become Standards Compliant - The site is a mess of Flash and Table-based HTML. It's time to actually make this site as advanced as the compliant coding ePrize used to use on all of its promotions. This will increase flexibility, SEO, and make it look like the company actually can use web technology as it should.
  7. Fire Copywriter - Get rid of whoever wrote up the job descriptions on the Careers page. "You're like a toothpick in the cake" is some of the worst copy I've ever read. It's up there with "You're the sizzle on the steak." These Cole Porter wannabe lines are the cream in my coffee.
  8. Use Meta Tags on Promotions - I sent this one to a software engineer over a year ago and it doesn't look like it took hold. There's nothing more annoying than Googling "ePrize" to come across scads of expired promotion pages. Proper use of META tags would help keep promotions out of the search engines. Of course, there are some major promotions that would have done well with proper SEO and meta information (Palm, Pampers, etc) but those "one and done" promotions don't really need to live in perpetuity, do they?