Claire Ratushny

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Claire Ratushny



So many brands with so many similarities. Is it any wonder that many brands are struggling? Does it surprise anyone that in every sector there are brands that are subsisting on an ever shrinking sliver of the pie?


The problem? Please reread the first sentence of my post. There doesn’t seem to...


It takes time to build a brand. Time to gain visibility, traction and trust. Time to build consumer sales.


Rebranding is a serious matter. It should never be undertaken lightly when it comes to heritage brands. Often, a simple tweaking is necessary to remain relevant—rather than a major overhaul....


We live in an ultra-competitive society. And we live in a society which loves winners and dismisses losers. That’s part of the reason why people take it so hard when they botch something or lose at something after putting in significant effort to succeed. I mean: what will people think? What will they...

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What to Do if Terrible Things Happen (Or Don’t.)

Mark Twain was quoted once as saying: “I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” He’s always been one of my favorite American writers because Twain had deep insights into human nature and an uncanny way of summing things up in a dry, succinct manner. He had more than the usual human share of wit and wisdom.


At any rate, this quote really resonates with me. The reason for that is that we’re seeing plenty of skepticism in business circles these days, if not downright cynicism. There are plenty of challenges out there, no doubt about it. But anticipating the worst and being a Gloomy Gus doesn’t help matters. In fact, it makes things worse. It makes us (and everybody around us) miserable, too. We can spend an inordinate and unprofitable amount of time worrying about things and you know what? Most of the stuff we worry about will never happen, as Twain so wisely pointed out.


I’m not a fan of lying awake at night and imagining the worst. That only deprives people of their much-needed sleep. We need to sleep and while we’re sleeping, our brains often tackle issues and problems, hence the adage: “Sleep on it (a problem).” How often do we wake up with more clarity about the situation if not a downright solution? So sleep we should.


Rather than fearing the worst, I think it prudent to prepare and make contingency plans in case the worst does happen, but then we also need to work to cultivate a positive attitude about things. Many wise people have cited Universal Law—that the universe will give you what you expect and not what you need or ask for. Intent and attitude go a long way to sending out the right kind of vibe and achieving your goals. I firmly believe that there is a basic truth here.


By working out the “what if” scenarios that might crop up for your business and thinking ahead of what you would do to meet these challenges, you can then dismiss a great deal of needless worry from your mind and be at peace. Remember: they’re not likely to happen anyway, but if they do you’re prepared so why continue to worry and fret that the worst is going to happen? It’s counter-productive to your health and the health of your business, and frankly, it’s illogical, as well, when we consider the law of averages.


Some things are out of your hands. Or are they?

These days, business owners and marketers have come to grips with the fact that their customers ultimately have control of their brands. That sometimes leads to uh-oh moments when something less than flattering hits the blogosphere or prominent social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn—at the hands of the customer—or disgruntled former employees.


Such was the case when former employee, Dan Lyons, wrote a book about his former employer, HubSpot, a prominent Boston marketing consultancy. The book: “Disrupted: My Misadventure In The Start-Up Bubble” cast many tech businesses, including and especially HubSpot, in a negative light and scathing things were said about the company. The book has gotten quite a bit of attention and attracted quite a number of readers.


Full disclosure: I didn’t read this book and likely won’t but what impressed me was the response to the book and to Mr. Lyons from HubSpot co-founder Dharmesh Shah in a LinkedIn article uploaded to the site on April 12, 2016.


The article: “Undisrupted: HubSpot's Reflections on "Disrupted"” observes in the third paragraph: “Warning: This is our honest take on the book and not a take-down. If you were expecting harsh, retaliatory attacks on Dan or his book, you can safely stop reading. You will be disappointed. This is not that kind of article, and HubSpot is not that kind of company. Instead, we’ll share some of the story, acknowledge some of the lessons learned and attempt to answer some of the questions that we know are swirling around.”


Mr. Shah goes on and answers the harsh criticisms posed by Mr. Lyons’ book after fully explaining how he was hired at HubSpot and stating that he resigned 20 months later. Shah goes on in a humble manner to talk about HubSpot’s steps and missteps as part of the company’s growing pains. He admits to their faults and talks of efforts to rectify the consultancy’s weaknesses. Shah addresses each of Mr. Lyons’ harshest criticisms and points of contention with class, rising above the human tendency to “strike back”, which I find admirable.


Not only does this reflect well on Shah and HubSpot, but it also helps the company’s image. How people choose to denigrate a brand may be justified—or it may not—but that’s out of owners’ and managers’ hands. However, the manner in which they choose to deal with it is very much in their hands. Rising above the negative and deliberately not choosing to throw barbs, to call people names or to be demeaning themselves takes self-control and class. Being humble and even using self-deprecating humor only makes them look better than those who would take them down. It speaks volumes and it helps to defuse the all-too-common coarseness and incivility we see growing in our culture. There’s just too much harsh rhetoric in our society and too much ratcheting up of dissension in society at large, and often unfortunately, within business circles, too.


Coming back to HubSpot: my overall view of the brand is positive and always has been. I’ve found their tips and blogs to be filled with viable, useful information. Much of their research and work is spot-on. Of course, having said that, I’ve never worked for them and can’t attest to their culture or how things are within the company. But here’s the point: Dan Lyons’ book could have been perceived as a terrible problem for the brand and it actually did happen; this kind of thing is a PR nightmare. Yet, HubSpot’s co-founders have risen to the challenge and handled the scenario presented to them in the right way to the point of sharing company information in a very open and transparent manner. They took the time to post some of the most vexing questions posed by readers of the book and answered them.


Everything has been done that can be done. So Shah says at the end of his article:

The HubSpot story so many of us know is one of being helpful. It’s a story about a fast-growing business working tirelessly to help others grow theirs. That’s the HubSpot we know will endure.

We’re going to go back to writing that story.  It’s going to be awesome!!

Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah
Co-founders of HubSpot

Cheers, guys. My bets are on you and on HubSpot. And thanks for the lesson on how to handle the worst. We could all use a positive example from time to time.






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