Removing Mental Health Stigma In The Workplace

Why does a mental health stigma exist in our workplaces?

I included the tweet at the beginning of the post because it shows the opposite of mental health stigma in the workplace; it shows how our employers should work with – instead of against – mental illness. There’s a grey area between what you share with your coworkers and what you share publicly. Where do you draw the line between private and public? Where do you draw the line between what you keep to yourself and what you share with others?

How does one navigate the uncharted waters of sharing your personal health?

It’s not easy for me to share with others when I’m mentally having a “tough time.” Even before I was diagnosed with clinical depression, it was easier to keep feelings to myself instead of sharing them with others. As difficult as it is for me to read others’ non-verbal communication signs when directed towards me, I rely heavily on others reading my own non-verbal communication when I’m feeling less than perfect.

It’s the lazy-man’s way of asking for help. It also makes it easier to hide your true mental health, as I found out later.

Defining Mental Health Day

I should be clear that I’m not talking about mental health days where you need to take care of extra chores around the house, or you’re “taking a day for yourself.” No, these are not what I’m talking about.

When you can’t get out of bed in the morning, and not because you don’t want to go to work or because it feels so nice in bed. When you can’t get out of bed because there is absolutely no reason why you should get up. Because the world doesn’t exist outside of your head and the bed that’s holding you. Those are “mental health” days. Those are the days when you sleep the entire day even though you’re not tired. The only thing you want to do is sleep. Not eat. Not drink. Not shower. The world is dead to you.

It’s those days where you send the requisite email or text to the boss, “Not feeling well today. Going to take a sick day.” But is it a sick day? A mental health day? But they’re really one and the same.

A sick day is a mental health day. A mental health day is a sick day. To say otherwise does a disservice to everything we’ve learned about depression and mental illness.

Making public your mental health.

I applaud Madalyn for having the courage to email her team about her mental health. It’s an action not many feel they can take for themselves because of the existing mental health stigma. Even I thought to myself, “Why would you email your team about this? I would never tell them this!” My thoughts on Madalyn’s tweet originally circled around my own personal feelings, thinking about how there would never be a reason why I would tell me coworkers about any mental health issues.

I’m still wrestling with that decision today: Should I or should I not?

It’s not as though I don’t have the need to inform my team. Over the last couple of years, I’ve used up all of my sick days, even ending two of the last three years by using vacation days for mental health days. I’m fortunate enough to work for a company that does provide generous leave benefits.

I find it hard to fathom how others at less generous companies would manage any type of mental illness.

Struggling to share.

But as I continued to think about why I struggle to share, the more I realized this is exactly why Madalyn’s email and the resulting media coverage are important. Mental illnesses continue to be relegated to the “lesser” illnesses, those illnesses where you are still expected to show up to work unless you are going to get other people sick (and bring down the world economy.)

Mental illness is not a real illness, in other words.

Is it important, though, to remove the workplace stigma around mental illness? What is important is to remember that everyone’s workplace differs. The experiences I have in my workplace with my coworkers and my leave policies are different from my wife’s, which are different from many others. It’s important to realize and remember this fact because this is the real answer to the question: Is it important to remove the workplace stigma around mental illness?

Yes.

We need to remove the stigma around mental illness in the workplace because of the fact that every workplace is different.

Every boss is different. Every HR policy is different. The implementation of those policies are different. It’s because of these differences that we need to remove our mental health stigma.

Why did this post take me so long to write?

I’ve been working on this post for close to a week, not including my initial thoughts a few months ago when Madalyn’s tweet originally became public. Why did it take so long to write?

I still wrestle with the fact that I have mental illness. I wrestle sharing that information.

Maybe the goal of this post is to really announce, share, my mental illness and remove my own mental health stigma.

While I wanted to write this before this last weekend, it almost takes on more significance after this weekend. It takes on more significance after how I feel like it ruined my family’s Christmas gathering. My wife can work with me, and understand me during “bad days.” But at the same time, even the people who raised you can’t understand nor know how to help in those situations.

If those people closest to you can’t even help you or understand your illness, how can you expect your coworkers or your employer to understand?

Understanding and empathizing.

The simple fact is that no one can truly understand another’s mental illness or lack thereof. The simple fact is that all of us should be empathetic to the problems and illnesses that other people face or encounter on a regular basis. Even if those problems and illnesses arise at the most inopportune times.

We need to remove – or at least, lessen – mental health stigma because not all of us experience mental illness the same way. Some of us will miss work or can’t work – even for long periods of time – while others continue to work each day but aren’t necessarily “present” at work.

We need to remove mental health stigmas because not everyone has the same resources and support systems.

I have generous PTO and health insurance covering my costs, but what about those people who don’t? How do we increase awareness so more companies are empathetic to those with mental health illnesses?

These may be rhetorical questions, but the actions that need to take place because of them are real and exist in the real world. I struggle in the real world. I struggle with the need, desire, to post and share my thoughts on this topic.

But when the end comes, the question remains, would I be happy keeping this illness to myself and suffering alone, or would I be happy in sharing my mental health journey and joining hands with those around me? I would rather help remove mental health stigma instead of letting it fester.

Pardot Lead Grading: Why Default Grades Don’t Work as Intended

One of my co-workers is in the final stages of implementing lead grading for their prospects. This has been a long process, both because of deciding what we want to grade and because of deciding how to grade what we want to grade.

Being this is the final stages before releasing to our customer-base at-large, we tested the grading process internally. Everything worked as planned…

…except one test.

Out of 15 tests, all but one had a grade associated with the prospect.

This is the one prospect out of fifteen that didn't have a Grade.
This is the one prospect out of fifteen that didn’t have a Grade.

Why didn’t this one prospect have a grade?

We looked at everything. We compared this prospect against the other 14 to see if there were any differences. Looked at the Audit tab to see if there was a reason why the Automation Rules didn’t run.

Nope, nothing.

Next step, we looked at the fields in question, the ones that drive the grading and the Automation Rules. This is where things got interesting.

“The Perfect Storm”

One by one, we looked through the fields and tried to determine if the test answers should have changed the prospect’s grade. What we found out was a perfect combination of answers over five fields that did not adjust the prospect’s grade.

And due to Pardot not displaying the default grade of “D” “until it changes either positively or negatively at least once,” there was no grade displayed for the prospect.

Our initial assessment that the prospect didn’t have a grade was incorrect. What happened was the prospect did have a grade, and did go through the grading process, but continued to have a default grade.

It’s our suggestion that Pardot remove this limitation on Lead Grading. If a prospect is assigned a Profile and has run through a Grading process, they should clearly have an assigned Grade, even if it continues to be a default grade.

Head over to the Ideas section at Salesforce to upvote our idea.

Pardot Workaround: How to Upload Files with a Single Pardot Form

I recently wrote on how to upload files using Box.com and Pardot Forms. That solution wasn’t totally clean and simple, as it required placing two embed codes on the page – one for the Pardot Form, one for the Box.com Upload Widget.

I am happy to write that I was able to embed the Box.com Upload Widget within the Pardot Form itself! This allows you to only place one embed code in the final landing page, and allows for a cleaner layout.

What you need:

  • Pardot
  • Box.com

Step 1:

Create your form as needed in Pardot. In our case, we were having customers place orders for branded marketing materials. This particular form needs to gather standard shipping-type information (name, address, etc.)

Pardot Form - Pink Button

Step 2:

Go to your Box.com account. If you haven’t created a folder for the uploads, do so now. Click on the […] icon to the right of your folder, and click “Upload Widget.”

Box.com Upload Widget Animated GIF

Step 3:

Fill out what you want the upload widget to say. You can place instructions here if you want, rather than on the resulting landing page.

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-3-40-24-pm

Step 4:

Copy the embed code from Box.com.

Step 5:

Now, instead of placing the embed code for the Box.com Upload Widget on your landing page, you get to place it directly in the Pardot Form! Edit your Pardot Form, and go to the “Completion Actions” tab. Click the Source Code button, and then paste your embed code for the Box.com Upload Widget.

pardot-form-thank-you-code

You can also include your Thank You message before the code, along with any upload instructions you want your audience to see.

Now you’re all done! Here’s how the final form and upload widget work together.

pardot-form-completion-box-upload

 

Make sure to test out the form and upload widget before releasing to the masses.

Workaround: How to Upload Files with Pardot Forms

If you Google “upload files with pardot forms,” you’ll find plenty of people asking for this feature or offering workarounds with Google Forms.

Here’s something we came up with the other day. (Note: This is more of a two-part solution, but can be varied — probably — for a one-column, or single-form solution. I’ll be trying to create that shortly.)

What you need:

  • Pardot
  • Box.com

Step 1:

Create your form as needed in Pardot. In our case, we were having customers place orders for branded marketing materials. This form needs to gather standard shipping-type information (name, address, etc.)

Pardot Ordering Form

Step 2:

Go to your Box.com account. If you haven’t created a folder for the uploads, do so now. Click on the […] icon to the right of your folder, and click “Upload Widget.”

Box.com Upload Widget Animated GIF

Step 3:

Fill out what you want the upload widget to say. You can place instructions here if you want, rather than on the resulting landing page.

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-3-40-24-pm

Step 4:

Copy the embed code from Box.com.

Step 5:

Open the source code of the landing page that houses your form, and paste the embed code from Box.com where you need the upload widget.

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-3-41-35-pm

Now you’re all done!

Make sure to test out the form and upload widget before releasing to the masses.

Something I may be testing out in the near future: The ability to place the Box.com upload widget directly in the Pardot form. I’ll keep you updated!

Update: September 23, 2016: I wrote another post on how to do this with a single Pardot form here.

How To Piss People Off In The Email Marketing Industry

Funny story.

Scrolling through Twitter this morning and I see the following:

Shit. This is quickly followed by:

This just got real. And I’m thinking to myself, “I do this.”

A few weeks ago, I set up an IFTTT recipe to add any Twitter user to a list when they use #emailgeeks in a Tweet. I thought this was a pretty harmless way for me to see who is talking about email marketing on Twitter.

Email Marketing Twitter List
832 Members! Whoa…that IFTTT automation is a little too successful!

I should have realized that when my list reached 500 users that I needed to re-think this method.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really think about this until I saw the aforementioned tweets. Nothing like a good public shaming to get people to change behaviors.

So, IFTTT recipe is no more! Tweetdeck is now “on deck” with a tab devoted to #emailgeeks.

Tweetdeck #emailgeeks tab
A snippet of what my #emailgeeks tab in Tweetdeck looks like.

What did I learn from this?

  1. Automation is not always your friend.

I’ve been on Twitter since 2004, so I have a pretty extensive list of people I follow.As anyone on Twitter knows, it’s hard to cut through the noise of the real-time updates from your entire network. I used the IFTTT recipe to be more efficient in my Twitter time and “curate” my Twitter Feed so I could get the pulse of the email marketing industry.

This method backfired like a boss.

  1. There’s probably another way.

In the Twitter conversation, I mentioned my reason for the IFTTT recipe and the list automation. One participant quickly pointed out Tweetdeck and it’s ability to save hashtag searches as “tabs.” This allows me to have a feed, per se, devoted completely to #emailgeeks.

As suggested, I will now manually add future #emailgeeks users to my list based on what I see in my Tweetdeck tab.

  1. Trust your community.

Whether it’s my time in the Pardot Success Community on Salesforce, or #emailgeeks on Twitter, I take tremendous pride in being a member of those communities. There are hundreds of people using those tools on a daily basis in ways different from myself, bringing hundreds of different perspectives and experiences. Trust those differences. Trust the community.

  1. Discuss. Don’t Freak Out.

I think the reason why I was humbled by this conversation, and not upset, was the way the community handled the conversation. When I mentioned that I could be one of those “bots” added people to Twitter lists, the conversation turned from address those “crazy, unknown robots” to “here’s a better way to do what you’re trying to do.”

That pivot means everything as Twitter can be an extremely hostile environment. The #emailgeeks community is anything but hostile, and that proved to be true in this instance as well.

 

Weekly Blog Roundup – August 26, 2016

There are many articles I read on a daily basis for both work and pleasure. Below are some of the most recent ones I’ve read in the last week, along with some commentary about each article.

Email Marketing

5 Things That Have Changed Since the FixOutlook Project” – Litmus

With the awesome news out of #LitmusLive a couple weeks ago, some email marketers are reticient to celebrate. Those marketers point to previous efforts to repair the horrible rendering in Outlook, such as the FixOutlook.org Project. Chad White from Litmus goes through a few of those concerns and how the environment (and Microsoft) has changed since 2009.

Lessons learned from Airbnb’s Email Specialist” – Really Good Emails

A look at Airbnb and their email marketing. In the vein of Ways We Work (one of my fave sites) and a great read.

Why Email Marketing Beats Social Media in Lead Generation, and What You Can Do About It” – StrongSocial

I had a conversation with a co-worker earlier this week about her Google AdWords test campaign to get more blog subscribers. In a two week trial, she’s quadrupled her blog audience and tripled her email subscribers! Email is incredible for reaching your audience, provided you do it right.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Email CTA Buttons” – Really Good Emails

I passed this article around work this week for the insight provided. It’s amazing how many CTA buttons still say “click here” or “learn more.” Try something new!

Marketing

How to Measure Brand Awareness” – Hubspot and Distilled

Researching “brand awareness” for work, and came across this wonderful video from Adria Saracino from Distilled. Adria walks you through the steps to figure out your brand awareness goals and how to measure those goals. I’ve already set up an Excel Spreadsheet based on the information from this video and measuring some of those important metrics!

Why GIFs are better than video

I check my personal email frequently throughout the day. Yes, big admission, I know. Not really. Most of the time I do this, however, is through the Mailbox app on my iPhone. Why do I feel it’s okay to do this? Because I just swipe-delay my messages until that evening. It cleans up my Inbox and brings back all the important messages that evening when I have more time to go through the messages.

But all that info is definitely not why you’re reading this. It’s to know why an almost 20-year-old feature of the web — the .gif — is better than video, in my mind, in one particular case. *Note: there are probably many reasons why the .gif is better than video for many cases. I believe this is just one such case that came to mind and I was non-sober enough to write about.

Used poorly, the .gif reminds many of the days of GeoCities:

But used correctly, GIFs can look like this:

This was in an email I got from The White House, and the .gif grabbed my attention more than anything else in the email.

If this was communicated through video, here’s what I would need to do to get the info.

  1. Click the thumbnail in the email.
  2. Browser opens if not open already.
  3. New window/tab loads in browser.
  4. Click video to play.
  5. Wait 30 seconds for ad or loading.
  6. Video plays.
  7. Finally get information I clicked on, almost 2 minutes after getting the email.

What do I need to do with the .gif? Open the email. It just works.
*Note: .gifs don’t work in every email client. Here’s a great chart from Campaign Monitor of who supports animated .gifs.

So, if you’re looking to use the versatile .gif in an upcoming email campaign, here’s what you should remember:

  1. Keep it concise and clear. The White House communicated one thing and one thing only through the above .gif.
  2. Keep file size smaller. Since this is loading when the email opens, a large .gif will take time to load.
  3. Know your audience. Use the above chart and your email analytics to make sure that your audience will be able to see your crazy, awesome, .gif magic.
  4. And remember, don’t blind your reader with flashing neon, construction signs, or dancing babies.

Weekly Blog Roundup – August 19, 2016

There are many articles I read on a daily basis for both work and pleasure. Below are some of the most recent ones I’ve read in the last week, along with some commentary about each article.

Email Marketing

Litmus and Microsoft Partner to Make Email Better” – Litmus

“…And on the 8th day, God created this partnership.” Amazing news out of The Email Design Conference hosted by email testing company Litmus. Litmus and Microsoft are partnering to make Outlook better for email marketers. You can get a lot more info on the link above, but the gist of the partnership is that we (the email marketers, #emailgeeks) will be able to submit rendering issues to Litmus. Litmus will compile these issues and work with the Outlook team at Microsoft. Amazing.

Four ways the Microsoft-Litmus partnership may shake up B2B email marketing” – The Marketing Practice

Good future-thought on how the aforementioned partnership could change email marketing.

Email deliverability is on the decline: report” – ClickZ

I’ve been on a deliverability kick lately and this article brings more of that info to the forefront.

Campaign Monitor Introduces Marketing Automation for Everyone” – Campaign Monitor

Pretty cool introduction from Campaign Monitor. While probably not as big as the Litmus – Microsoft partnership, this is a huge announcement for SMB who can’t afford enterprise-level marketing automation.

If you’re looking for marketing automation for your small business, you might want to see what Campaign Monitor is up to these days.

Email design at its best at TEDC16” – Nicki Graham

A wonderful follow-up and write-up from Nicki, who attended The Email Design Conference this past week. Nicki goes through some of the presentations/talks at TEDC16 and shares her thoughts on the conference overall.

Weekly Blog Roundup – August 12, 2016

There are many articles I read on a daily basis for both work and pleasure. Below are some of the most recent ones I’ve read in the last week, along with some commentary about each article.

Email Marketing

Lessons Learned After The First 12 Months as an Email Marketer” – Only Influencers

An interesting post from a new email marketer. While I agree with most, I do heartedly disagree with Joy’s idea that there’s nothing new in email marketing. Especially when there’s so much new information and happenings on the same site hosting her own post, Only Influencers. However, I will say that early in my email marketing career, I had a similar perspective. It would be interesting for me to put down my thoughts and experiences in email marketing in a new post.

What the Clinton and Trump Campaigns teach us about deliverability” – Only Influencers

A post about marketing and the presidential campaign that isn’t actually clickbait! Bravo!

While every marketer needs to be concerned and focused on their deliverability, this post dives deep into the nuances of deliverability and its place in the current presidential race. Definitely gets in the weeds a bit, but if deliverability is your scene, this is a post for you!

Email for President” – Return Path

The basis of the aforementioned Only Influencers post, Return Path looked at major deliverability statistics of the email campaigns of both presidential candidates.

Blogging

A 2-Week Publishing Hiatus to Make Our Blog Better (We Need Your Help!)” – Unbounce

We all need breaks every now and then to refresh the creative juices. Unbounce is doing just that — but not just to sit around and slack, but with the goal to make their blog better. Good read.

Lessons Learned After The First 5 Years as an Email Marketer

This post is a tongue-in-cheek response to a post by Joy Ugi over at Only Influencers about her first 12 months as an email marketer. 

It’s your fifth year as an email marketer.

Then you blink and a whole decade has flown by. It happened to me, and I bet it already happened to you. After five years of email marketing, you haven’t learned everything there is to know, but you damn well feel like you know everything.

But then you still get those rude awakenings when you feel a disturbance in the email marketing Force.

Learn. Do Something With What You Learn.

It’s easy to read what other email marketers are doing. I do it every day. I have a weekly blog roundup listing those same articles and posts I read. We go to conferences and attend webinars where we learn to be a better email marketer.

But all of that is for naught if we don’t do something with that knowledge. This is the biggest thing I’ve learned over the last five years in marketing, specifically as an email marketer.

It’s easy to see the new Engagement Studio from Pardot, get some best practices, some example drip campaigns, and go to your team saying, “Look at this great new addition to Pardot!” But what separates you as a “veteran” of email marketing is your ability to do something with that knowledge, something to make your marketing efforts and campaigns better.

Be Humble. Educate.

It seems as though the egos of those in Marketing are only second in size to the egos of those in Sales. It’s easy for us in email marketing to feel that we “know better” than most, because outside of marketing, most people still think of email marketing as spam. It’s easy for us to look down upon those who “don’t know better.”

Why educate someone who wants to buy a list and blast out the latest sales promotion?

You- the email marketer – educate them because it makes the entire organization better. You are only as strong as your weakest point, and if the stakeholders in your organization continue to believe email marketing stands alone and is meant for blast emails, well, you’re not doing your job. Period.

So you need to be humble and educate those around you. Teach them the same values you hold dear about clean email design, responsive and mobile-first principles, connecting email with marketing automation and your CRM. All of these take you, your colleagues, and your organization to the next level.

Be More.

Many organizations, mine included, don’t have the luxury of having one staff or employee focusing solely on email marketing, let alone having multiple staff focusing on email marketing. Here where I live and work in Cedar Rapids, I know a few email marketers from GoDaddy. They’ve presented to local marketers a few times about email marketing best practices. Now, they have the luxury many of us don’t: dedicated designers and dedicated writers. Awesome!

Most of us don’t have that.

And so we need to do more. Show value and bring value in other ways. For you, is that marketing automation? Analytics? Digital Campaigns? Social? Take the strengths you’ve developed working in email marketing and transfer them to another interest, find ways to bring value to your organization with your strengths.

It’s A Journey.

When I took my current job almost five years ago, I would be hard pressed to imagine where I am now. I code in my sleep. I know Pardot menus in my dreams. I know what Custom Fields are linked from Salesforce, and what Custom Objects we can only report on in Salesforce.

It’s been an incredible journey. And it’s not over, yet. Just keep swimming.