How Does Eliminating URL Shortening Help Anyone?

Firebase Software Engineer Michael Hermanto says that the company introduced the URL shortener in 2009, and that since then, the ways in which people share information on the web has changed, while additional URL shorteners have grown in popularity. He notes that Google is refocusing its efforts by replacing it with Firebase Dynamic Links (FDL), which allow users to redirect to specific locations in iOS, Android or web apps.1

Yes, there are alternatives such as Bitly and FDL, however, does not seem like a direct replacement for


Why Unilever and ad money can’t clean up Facebook and Google.

According to prepared remarks from Keith Weed, CMO, Unilever will pull its large amount of advertising dollars from Facebook and Google as a result of them failing to improve the online environment of their respective networks.

“As one of the largest advertisers in the world, we cannot have an environment where our consumers don’t trust what they see online. We cannot continue to prop up a digital supply chain—one that delivers over a quarter of our advertising to our consumers—which at times is little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency.” – Keith Weed, Unilever

There are two main reasons why I see this more as a bluff, rather than a threat.

You put your money where the people are

The advertising dollars go to Facebook and Google because that’s where the majority of customers live online today. I cannot imagine Unilever or other companies of the same magnitude saying “We’re going to move our Facebook advertising to Twitter.” Or “We’re not going to use Google Ads. Period.” You just can’t do that because there are no legitimate alternatives to the scale Facebook and Google provide in 2018.

People are not going to leave Facebook (or Google)

While there certainly are concerns from advertisers and investors about people spending less time on Facebook, the overall numbers look good, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The same goes for Google. What other search engine is a verb? People turn first to Google for everything, and the only company that can play catch up is possibly Amazon through Alexa.

Only time will tell

Time will tell how Facebook and Google clean up their networks and decrease how bots affect their ad networks, if at all. If they don’t, there’s certainly the possibility that Unilever’s announcement is only the beginning.


Rising Nuclear Tensions in 2018

For decades, American presidents have threatened “first use” of nuclear weapons against enemies in only very narrow and limited circumstances, such as in response to the use of biological weapons against the United States. But the new document is the first to expand that to include attempts to destroy wide-reaching infrastructure, like a country’s power grid or communications, that would be most vulnerable to cyberweapons. (NYTimes)

I’m extremely concerned about the direction our country is taking, and the seemingly high and rising nuclear tensions. When you’re surrounded by people who think war is inevitable, war becomes inevitable. There seems to be no other part of society where I believe self-fulfilling prophecies are more true than the war posturing and mongering currently occurring in Washington D.C.

First released to the public by The Huffington Post, a new draft policy from the Trump administration states the policy “realigns our nuclear policy with a realistic assessment of the threats we face today and the uncertainties regarding the future security environment.” Naive as I may be when it comes to world politics, I understand there are people who want to harm the United States. I truly believe, however, there are many more people who have their own problems than hating America.

I disagree with the understanding that the world is generally hostile.

We may disagree on how the Obama administration handled (or didn’t) Russia and Syria (among others), overall the United States operated under the worldview that the place of the United States is to improve the quality of life around the world through positive change. Pundits dismiss this viewpoint as naive. The current administration seems to operate thinking everyone is hostile towards the United States until proven innocent (or agrees to build a Trump hotel.)

The new draft policy operates with the idea that we are headed towards conflict, and we need to be prepared to retaliate in-kind. We need to have a proper national defense. We do not, however, need to share the same dark lens with which Trump and his administration currently seem to view the world.

I don’t disagree there are those who aim to hurt us, to inflict pain, suffering, and even death upon the United States. I do disagree with the notion that the only way to respond to those who aim to hurt us is with threats of more violence. You may think I don’t know better, but we can always try to see the good in people and the world.


My Beef with Pardot

Remember, it’s a bad idea to assume that Pardot and Salesforce abide by the same rules, but once you’re aware of the quirks and accept their ways of integrating, then you will be able to run streamlined, impactful, Marketing and Sales funnels.

12 Things Salesforce Admins Should Know About Pardot,” written by Lucy Mazalon over at Salesforce Ben came across my feed the other day. I read with great interest to see what someone else thought my Salesforce Admin should know about Pardot.

First things first, the article should instead be titled, “12 Things About Pardot for A Person Who Knows Nothing About Pardot.”1 I do think that Mazalon approaches the topic from a good perspective, as it is also my experience that professionals with “sound knowledge of the traditional ‘core’ clouds” do hesitate when it comes to Pardot.

Lack of integration between Salesforce and Pardot

Mazalon notes in her introduction that “the Salesforce Pardot team are working very hard to integrate the two technologies into one powerful platform,” I personally have yet to see much fruit from those labors. We’ve been using Pardot at GreatAmerica Financial Services for almost four years and the product we use today is 95% the same as the product we signed up with back in 2013.

As we signed up with Pardot shortly before the Salesforce purchase, the first two years or so of using Pardot we were told (if not promised) that the purchase of Pardot would lead to greater functionality, focus, and investment from Salesforce.

Lack of seemingly coherent long-term strategy for integration

One such area, as Mazalon notes as a difference between SFDC and Pardot, is Salesforce Campaigns and Pardot Campaigns. This was a learning curve for us – albeit, small – that only added to the confusion between how Pardot and Salesforce can and should work together.

While we now know the difference between the two types of campaigns, it’s my professional opinion that users of both Pardot and Salesforce shouldn’t have to know the difference.

There needs to be a clear strategy for how Pardot and Salesforce work together, not as two separate products. I understand this falls more on the Pardot team, rather than Salesforce, due to the scale of the differing products. However, in both talking with Pardot reps at Dreamforce and in reading Salesforce marketing materials, one can easily get the impression that Pardot is truly a part of Salesforce, when that could not be further from the truth.

Lack of reporting options

If you’re looking for reporting other than the standard “How did my email perform?” then you’re out of luck. We ended up running most reports in Excel. Yes, Excel.

Why do we use Excel for reporting? Because there’s truly a lack of robust options within the Pardot platform to parse your lists, contacts, or data of any type.

A note of my own bias

As a Certified Pardot Specialist, I feel that I have a little bit of experience with Pardot. I was also the person at my company who drove the original decision to use Pardot several years ago. So, it pains me to list some of my complaints here publically, but when my team and I encounter the same obstacles repeatedly with little-to-no improvement from Salesforce, the high opinion of Pardot becomes a little stale.

As of October 2017, we are no longer a Pardot house. We used the summer and fall of 2017 to transition our company to HubSpot and we are not looking back.


Quick Notes on Affluenza and Materialism

Several good articles covering affluenza and materialism.

To cure affluenza, we have to be satisfied with the stuff we already own – Richard Denniss

Came across this article via “Becoming Minimalist” and their weekend reads newsletter. Something about reading Mr. Denniss’ article that made me think we can make progress towards curing our societal affluenza and materialism. Certainly, I think my own household is working on that goal. As Richard Denniss points out, however, just because our mass consumption has only come on in the last few decades does not mean solving it will be easy.

If having more no longer satisfies us, perhaps we’ve reached ‘peak stuff’ – Will Hutton

An older article, but worth the read, especially within the context of our current conversations surrounding the American GOP tax bill. The question I would frame for the GOP is “Does this tax bill help make people happy?” Or taking this thought a step further, “Does this tax bill help make more people happy than the status quo or alternative tax bills?”

When western societies were poorer, it was reasonable for economics to focus on how to produce more stuff – that was what societies wanted. Now, the question is Aristotelian: how to live a happy life – or “humanomics”, as Sedlacek calls it. Aristotle was clear: happiness results from deploying our human intelligence to act creatively on nature. To inquire and successfully to quest for understanding is the root of happiness.

Affluenza: The Psychology of Wealth – Adrian Furnham

The other two articles got me interested in learning more, so Google became my friend and I found this synopsis of two books on Affluenza: “Affluenza” by Oliver James, and “The Golden Ghetto” by Jessie O’Neill. Not so much providing any new insight, the synopsis provides background into the creation and evolution of the term “affluenza,” along with some of the political and psychological underpinnings of the term.


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?


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 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 Upload Widget.

I am happy to write that I was able to embed the 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

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 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.” 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.


Step 4:

Copy the embed code from

Step 5:

Now, instead of placing the embed code for the 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 Upload Widget.


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.



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

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 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.” 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.


Step 4:

Copy the embed code from

Step 5:

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


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 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.