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Vanessa's Variety for the Week of February 20th, 2009

Posted on February 23, 2009 by Vanessa

Better late than never...

  • Facebook gave the cold shoulder to a family in mourning when they refused to take a profile down based on their policies.  The Consumerist lists the details of the story per correspondence between the deceased sister and she brings up an interesting point about the rights of the deceased in relation to social networking and internet profiles.
  • It takes time to build website authority and rank well for competitive keywords, which is just one of the reasons Aaron Wall wrote “Why it Makes Sense to Target Longtail Keywords First”.
  • Entrepreneurs that are looking to source their own product line will be interested in a new product, China Trade Database.  The product is a compilation of more than 500,000 Chinese manufacturers that span a huge variety of product categories from furniture to handbags.  These manufacturers are trusted sources which decreases the risk of being scammed for those that don't do business in China on a regular basis.
  • Matt Cutts is sharing past conference presentations for those that were not able to attend.  He recently posted State of the Index.
  • AdSense now allows custom font selection.


Inventory and Warehouse Visibility: Color Coding Returns to Increase Efficiency

Posted on February 4, 2009 by Arianna

Color coding has been used for many years and by many different organizations. A color code is a method that allows information to be displayed by using different colors. Restaurants use them to note what day of the week a salad was made, or when a food package was opened.  Even our Department of Homeland Security uses it to inform us of our government’s national threat level.  So when I was told that a customer’s return had been sitting in our warehouse for an uncaccpetable amount of time before being inspected … I knew that I needed to find a solution.

The Issue:

Large box returns were being delivered and placed in our “Inbound” section of the warehouse, while smaller packages were being positioned on top. When our warehouse manager went in to inspect the returns they would automatically collect all of the smaller packages first. At the end of the day when they were unable to inspect any further returns, the remaining boxes were taken back to our inbound section. The next day as UPS delivered more returns, the smaller boxes were again placed on top of the larger boxes, and so with this continuing cycle our customers return was continually overlooked.

The Experiment:

I remembered how easy color coding was when I worked at a café, and so I decided to experiment. I went to a local office supply store and purchased color coded stickers that were large enough to write on. There were five colors, one for each day of the week. Our warehouse manager was to place a color sticker on every box that arrived on that day. Mondays was a yellow sicker, Tuesdays was green, Wednesdays was brown…etc. That way we knew exactly what day a package arrived at our warehouse. On Tuesdays our warehouse would inspect Monday’s returns, on Wednesdays they would inspect Tuesday’s returns and so on. This seemed to work perfectly! However the cost of the stickers was pretty high.

The Solution:

As we realized how amazing the stickers worked we went in search of some less costly stickers and were able to find them on We began this adventure about two weeks ago and it has been amazing! Our warehouse is more organized, and our customers are made happy when their return is inspected within one or two days of its arrival.

When we first found out about the issue we had no idea how we would fix it. We started talking about getting more warehouse space and even hiring a new employee. Though the stickers solved our issue for now we know that as our company continues to grow this process will have to be reviewed – but for now we love it!

I was completely proud of the fact that we were able to solve the issue with color coding stickers! I’m sure that there have been many companies that were faced with an issue and found a pretty simple and cost effective solution. Feel free to tell us about your cost effective solutions – we’d love to hear about them!

Till next time, remember that a problem is only an opportunity for an excellent solution! 


Company Layoffs: Management’s Ability to Rally and Move Forward

Posted on January 29, 2009 by Vanessa

We saw more doom and gloom this week as large companies like Caterpillar Inc., Microsoft, Sprint, and Pfizer announced thousands of layoffs. In the midst of this news I was contacted by a friend who got laid off that very day. My friend worked for the company she was let go from for fourteen years, and during that time her efforts were rewarded with promotions and raises along the way. These promotions are what ended up being her handicap. Newer less experienced employees were spared the layoffs while my friend and her long term associates were let go. This, of course, left a bitter taste in her mouth, not only did she feel unappreciated and betrayed but she was also confused. I know that I was only hearing one side of the story, and maybe the company had other reasons for the layoffs, but in the eyes of the employees the company let go of the higher paid salaries to cut costs, and opted for less experience at a decreased expense to keep day to day operations going. This is not the first company to do this and it certainly won’t be the last. When I finished speaking with my friend I started thinking about how the remaining employees must be feeling and what the company would need to do to optimize their performance given recent events.

Coworkers form bonds. This shouldn’t be surprising given the amount of time they spend together every week. When the company has to or chooses to do layoffs the employees that are left at the company feel a loss, coupled with feelings of loss are feelings of guilt because they didn’t lose their job. On top of these feelings the employees in this particular situation may be left with discouraged attitudes about the company and a resentment that hinders progress. This resentment sprouts from the fact that the experienced people were let go, so why would the remaining employees work to do better, get the promotions, and the raises, if they think they will be the first to go when the company feels a crunch? They won’t. In an economy where fear about job security and the unemployment rate is increasing on a more frequent basis employees are going to be worried about keeping their jobs and staying under the radar to avoid any up and coming layoffs. None of this is good for the company or the employees, especially the employees that have a natural will to succeed and in turn be a part of the company’s success.

If the organization is focused on improving the situation and the morale of the remaining employees there are some steps that managers can take to do so. One of their best assets will be the employees that are still with the organization that carry a positive attitude and a drive to get the company back to a successful state. Managers should be familiar enough with their workforce to assess who these people are and utilize them as leaders in the transition. Have you heard the statement “employees will treat consumers with the same attitude that their manager treats them with”? This can be utilized in this situation. The more positive management is the more positive the employees will be. Management can use this to celebrate small successes to increase morale. Along with increased optimism employees will look to management to communicate with them. Communication will ease their fears that they are next in line to be let go. Management should share plans for the future and ways in which the group will need to get more done with less resources. Management can also convey that they are all in the same boat and if they are going to stay afloat they will have to do it together. Using careful judgment about what to relay to employees is important. If management says that there won’t be any additional layoffs, but then has to layoff additional employees it will be difficult to regain the trust of those that are left.

While it may be useful for management to implement these tactics after layoffs happen I am in no way agreeing with the concept of getting rid of higher salaried employees for the pure reason that they are the most expensive to keep. I also wouldn’t suggest using these tactics if executives are showing up to the office with new Range Rovers or attending weekend getaways at the company’s expense. Employees are smart enough to see through managements words when compared with their actions.

Little Giant has been hard at work engineering pumps that their most loyal customers have been waiting for. is your destination for the new Little Giant TSW Sump Pump System and their NXTGen Condensate Pumps.

Pay No Attention to that Man Behind the Curtain

Posted on January 27, 2009 by Archives

Normally I try to keep my blog posts “above the fold” technically, and shield you from the code that makes everything work under the hood. I realize that there are many great tech blogs out there, many of which I read, and that readers of this blog are more interested in the business of eCommerce rather than the technical aspects that make it work. As such, I try to talk about technical things of interest, but without any tech jargon or degree needed.
Recently this has begun to backfire on me, however, as some now view my job as “plug and play”. In discussing the available technologies and possible usages of them, I’ve been hearing comments like:

“Doesn’t SQL just do that already?” – In response to trying to figure out the best way to write search relevancy logic.

 “I’m sure Microsoft has figured out a way to do that” – Yes, they have. They have developed programming languages and technologies that allow highly skilled professionals to spend long hours writing code to accomplish that task.

Or my personal favorite, when comparing our needs to a product written for a different database, in a different language, and has been in development for 7 years – “we can likely do whatever they are doing”.

In an effort to reduce complexity when talking to non-technical users and speak in plain English, I’ve apparently erroneously conveyed to them that there is really nothing technical involved in eCommerce development. As far as some know, we have a “website”, a “server”, a “database”, and a long 3 pronged cord that connects them all seamlessly. Fortunately for us, this cord also connects to Amazon, Google, and our supply chain network as well.
I considered just posting a few large blocks of code to keep you on your toes, but figured it would get the same blank look I do when I try to explain what I do to my kids. So instead, just a friendly reminder to all you business types to give your developer a hug today, and be thankful you don’t have to hear about fine tuning SQL procedures for maximum speed and relevancy.


Our UPS “Compass” Experience

Posted on January 7, 2009 by Jeff

Once a quarter I take a few minutes out of my day to read about what UPS is up to in their Compass publication: “The Quarterly for UPS Preferred Customers.” Each volume includes an individual success story that covers what businesses partnering with UPS are doing to integrate solutions for their everyday shipping needs. These articles generally end in quotes similar to Wil Kovacs, “There’s no doubt about it – we couldn’t have done it without UPS” (Vol. 2, NO. 2 | Spring 2008).  I’ve read these articles over the past couple years picking up useful tidbits along the way, all be it as much for a mindless moment in the middle of an otherwise busy day. Never have I felt we had a nugget to contribute along the way until we were recently approached by our account manager Kia. I’m not sure her actual name would make it past the Compass editors, but I wanted to make sure she was given credit for our success story.

To appreciate the nugget you must understand our humble beginnings. With little more than a dream for bringing customers together with everything necessary to realize their home remodeling desires, our negotiating options at UPS’s table were slim. Success hinged on collaboration between multiple shipping points spanning from west to east coasts, each with their own unique fulfillment system. This collaboration was met with a single UPS account number, in concert with UPS WorldShip allowing “installations” of our individual account number across a maximum of 13 separate shipping points. WorldShip provides our supply base the opportunity to ship directly on our account number’s which results in tracking information that seamlessly populates in our system and back to our customers.

From our inception we’ve enjoyed continued growth. It wasn’t long before we’d maximized our initial account. Additional account numbers were eagerly provided and consolidated to our original primary account number. With the number of shipping points growing, UPS ran into an interesting problem, sourcing. UPS’s visibility showed the volume for each account number’s 13 shipping points as originating from the account number’s physical address; our headquarters in sunny southern California. Now if you did the math you would realize that we had well over 30 shipping locations.  So why does this cause a headache for UPS as well?  A shipping point’s local hub wasn’t prepared for the actual inbound volume, while our southern California hub was over prepared. Meaning that as UPS was capturing our shipping data their system showed that all of the shipments were coming out of a southern California branch, when in actuality that particular branch wasn’t going to see nearly as many shipments as they were expecting based on the data.  On the flip side a UPS branch in Maryland may be struggling to keep up because of the unexpected number of packages to ship.  This not only affected the workers and resources at each individual branch, corporate was also using this data to allocate budgets to branches, again this southern California branch would be over budgeted, and another branch would be under budgeted.  Several additional issues have rose from this early solution.

Enter Kia. Once we addressed our concerns about making any changes to our shipping accounts, i.e. minimal disruption to our supplier’s processes, consolidated electronic billing (4 years better negotiating position), etc., we began creating unique account number’s by shipping point. Mind you someone from our office, that would be me, would find themselves over the course of several days traveling to supplier after supplier insuring a successful account transition; a very real cost burden. The removal of the original account number from WorldShip proved stifling. We had to insure our suppliers didn’t inadvertently ship on old account number’s lingering in WorldShip. You’d think a simple remove option would be present from WorldShip’s Shipper Editor Menu?  Surprisingly it’s not. Kia went back to the drawing board and not only provided a solution for removing lingering account number’s but did so with the help of UPS’s technicians remotely. No longer did I have to travel all over the country to resolve our current problem and implement the solution.  I spent one long day with members of their technical department working from our office remotely to transition our complete supply base over to our new account structure. Baring the normal technical hurdles experienced throughout the course of the day Adam, Enrique, and Scott successfully brought our shipping solution up to par with our current volume, provided UPS the visibility they desperately needed, as well as providing internal efficiencies without a single issue.

My Compass story would end as my email to Kia did, “We have a couple things to complete the transition, but all in all I’d say it was a success.”  A small nugget certainly, but who had the time to blog back then?


Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of January 2nd, 2009

Posted on December 31, 2008 by Vanessa

Happy New Year all!  I am out for the rest of the week so the variety is early.  There are some new posts that I wanted to share, but in addition to that let’s take a look at some of our favorite posts, top stories, and some of the biggest developments in the industry from 2008.

  • Google Product Search up 786% in the category of shopping search.
  • The Silicon Alley Insider reports on Digg’s revenue losses and why ad targeting, or the lack there of, could be a major factor in these losses.
  • Have your 2009 wish list ready for Google?  I know Zach does and Matt Cutts’ parents do, but submissions are coming in fast so add yours soon.
  • Jennifer Laycock released her second installment of “Six Lessons from a Wooden Boy”, but I recommend starting from her first post on the subject.
  • A legend about the inventor of chess may provide insight into internet retail growth.


2008 In Review

Internet Retailer released their top 10 stories from 2008, here they are in ascending order:


I know this couldn't possibly be everything, which events in 2008 were most memorable to you?


Feed Readers: Taking the Discipline Out of Decision Making

Posted on December 23, 2008 by Brian

First, this is exactly the kind of post I’m talking about in this post.  I had a thought driving back to work from lunch, I’m going to write a few paragraphs about it, and then I’m going to post it.  The truth is I’m not even sure I agree with what I’m writing.  But it doesn’t matter, it’s too easy to write and post it, rather than bothering to stop and really consider it.  Much less research and ponder it until I have some real conviction about it.  So what is this thesis I’m not sure I agree with?  Blogging has made speculative, opinion based content generation and regurgitation so easy that the quality of the content has dropped significantly.  As a result, those basing decisions on the content lack any of the discipline that would otherwise inherently come with the authors efforts to research and validate their content.

I’ve seen this phenomenon to an increasing degree as I study the economic climate and changes of recent weeks.  Maybe it isn’t new but rather I’m seeing it anew as I get deeper into researching these challenging times.  In particular, there is a plethora of opinion being puked out surrounding the general “what should small businesses/startups/entrepreneurs do/think during the down market” subject.  Everyone is weighing in and while there may be some common themes there are certainly enough conflicting viewpoints to prove that either no one knows the answer or few are thinking before they write.  I’m not sure what I should do…

  • Monday: Paint a clear, honest picture, control cost, get profitable and hunker down.
  • Tuesday: Stand up and lead charismatically with a focus on new innovation to grab market share and emerge victoriously.
  • Wednesday: Be nimble, or, oh wait, was that remain steady and stay the course?
  • Thursday: Focus on value oriented products, services, and promotions.
  • Friday: Roll back all non-profitable, price destroying promotions.
  • Saturday: Yard work.
  • Sunday: Go to church; decide to start a non-profit (yeah, I actually read a blog about switching to a non-profit, and I wasn’t even researching the subject).

And maybe worst of all, the underlying culprit, would be to react to every blog I read.  Why would I let un-scrutinized, rampant opinion and conjecture replace my own decision making discipline?  Even if it does sound smart, eloquent, and like the author knows my business.  Answer… either it’s easier to shirk responsibility or I’m not capable of taking it all in, filtering it, organizing it, and making effective use of it within my business, strategy, and timeline.  Maybe that latter ability will actually mark the difference between those who thrive, those who survive, and those who parish.

So, until it somehow gets tougher to publish, make sure you don’t knee jerk or you may end up kicking yourself in the butt.  Alternatively, scour until you find the good authors in the midst of the mess and then stick to them.  You’ll find even they don’t always agree and their opinions can’t be a crutch, but at least they’ve studied.

Finally, if you’re going to go with the “read more of what is out there” plan, make sure you also incorporate the “forget more of what you read” plan, including this post if you see fit.


Preparing Retailers for Economic Downturn: An Interview With eCommerce Analyst Linda Bustos

Posted on November 13, 2008 by Vanessa

We were lucky enough to catch up with Linda Bustos of Elastic Path Software and ask her a few questions that are likely on many retailers minds.  Both multi-channel and web only retailers face difficult challenges ahead, the holidays that are right around the corner, and the global economic downturn that has brought spending to a drastic halt.  The insight she provides may help many overcome this uphill battle.

Tell us a little about your blog, company, and your role at Get Elastic:

My official title is Ecommerce Analyst at Elastic Path Software, a role that involves keeping on top of all the trends in Internet marketing and retail, and translating them into actionable tips for online retailers on the Get Elastic blog in addition to ecommerce consulting for Elastic Path customers.  Get Elastic’s primary purpose is thought leadership rather than talking about our ecommerce software.  Get Elastic exists to communicate with retailers, ecommerce vendors, consultants, analysts and anyone interested in Internet marketing.


What is your approach to evaluating and prioritizing opportunities and aligning resources with these opportunities?

I’d divide “opportunities” into site features/functionality, marketing activities and customer service.  (Fulfillment is impacted by marketing and customer service initiatives).

For site features, first you must determine whether what you want to do is feasible with your current ecommerce platform.  Your hands may be tied until the next upgrade on certain bells and whistles.

Then you need to make sure you’re already doing the basics well.  I consider the basics to be product information, product images, intuitive navigation and good search functionality.  You have no business asking for a virtual fitting room when a customer can’t enlarge images and see multiple views.  Personalization takes a backseat to usability.

After all that, if you’re in a position to add functionality, a good idea is to find out what customers prefer on ecommerce sites.  If you can’t collect enough info surveying your own customers, subscribing to’s Smart Brief newsletter and Internet Retailer will alert you to the latest consumer studies.  Bookmark them as you go, so when it comes time to make decisions, you can refer to them.  You may discover customers consistenly cite ratings and reviews as valuable, but they don’t care about wish lists or reading retail blogs.  Use this data to invest in what will delight your customers.

As we head into a holiday season that is projected to be the slowest in our near history what advice would you give online retailers and multi-channel retailers?  Which do you think will be impacted by the economy more (Online only or Multi-Channel retailers), why?

Rather than increasing spending on PPC or shopping engines (buying traffic), work on optimizing landing pages to squeeze more profit out of the traffic you’re already getting (including “free” customers like repeat, type-in visitors and organic search referrals).  Not to mention your email campaigns would also be more profitable, which is a nice segue into…

Market to your existing customers (provided they have granted you permission) and those who have subscribed to your email list and segment, segment, segment.  It’s still true that it costs much more to attract new customers than keep existing ones, and segmentation is key to effectively delivering relevant offers.  If you throw random offers at your entire list, you’ll likely lose subscribers.

Jeanne Jennings’ Really Simple Segmentation Framework is a great resource for segmenting by behavior, but you should also allow customers to self-segment by indicating their preferences.  Disney Shopping and GAP are examples of retailers who do this really well. 

So change your email signup form to allow self-selection of what kind of offers or products the customer wants to receive, and how often they want to hear from you and ask existing subscribers to update their preferences.

It’s also important to have a strong value proposition that is clearly communicated on your site.  Not a slogan, not a tagline, but a clear statement that answers the question: “why should I buy from you and not your competitor.”  If you don’t have a clear value proposition (most retailers don’t) make sure you read up on value propositions at Marketing Experiments’ blog.

To answer the second part of your question, I don’t think one or the other will be better or worse off.  Because we know many people will use the Internet only to research purchases they prefer to make offline, the online retailer with a local store can offer free ship-to-store, inventory lookup and free returns to store – multi-channel retailers have an advantage -- while the pure-play has a small chance of converting that customer, and may even be paying high CPCs to provide the research service to a non-buyer.

But retail stores carry overhead that pure plays don’t have.  Also, multi-channel retailers may treat ecommerce as a separate operation, and the online channel may have to fight to prove itself and win human and financial resources.  Pure plays give their all to their online business and may be more advanced in efficiency and effectiveness.

What are some of your best and worst marketing channels?  What are the best ways you have found to increase performance for a given channel?

In terms of ecommerce marketing channels, it really depends on your market, your strategy, your investment and your execution which channel is going to perform the best for you.  Email might be the top channel for a retailer, but is that because they are sloppy with PPC and have an ecommerce platform that prevents them from maximizing their SEO?  Do they have an outsourced affiliate manager that’s doing a poor job? 

Also, there may be channels that perform better for one category vs another.  If there is much competition in PPC and shopping engines, click costs inflate and it’s harder to remain visible. 

You can even get more granular and say that some products will do better through PPC and others through email.  Again, when you focus on improving landing pages, your performance goes up across all channels.

If retailers are cutting back on spend where do you think costs can be cut or dollars can be saved? Is there any “must have” that retailers should only cut back on if it’s a last resort?

The first area I’d look at is your fulfillment – shipping costs, damage in transit, returns management, where can you improve?  Have a read through every blog post on ecommerce fulfillment, by expert Maxim Mironov on his blog Optimalogica.  Then I would suggest landing page optimization rather than “buying traffic.” 

An interesting thing that may happen is, as advertising spend is expected to go down, it will result in lower prices and less competition.  Since consumers are not flocking away from the internet, you may find PPC and shopping engine marketing is less expensive than it was in healthy economic times.

As we enter into 2009 what do you think will be the next big change in eCommerce (similar to the affects of “web 2.0”, social networking…)

I think video will be important from here on out.  It’s not cheap, so you might not want to offer it on every product you sell, but video can really ease a customer’s fears, uncertainties and doubts about a product when they can see a 360 degree view or see it in use.  Retailers that embrace it early will have an advantage over those who don’t.

Again, first things first.  Product copy and images are more important, get those right, then explore video.

What are some of your favorite online stores, and why?

This is the number one question I get asked Smile I can’t say one store does everything perfectly.  I like bits and pieces of stores like’s navigation and product pages,’s filtering options and Crutchfield’s product finders and informative content.  But if I had to pick an overall favorite online retailer – I’d choose Threadless because of its unique business model, it’s fresh design and it’s active, passionate community.  It’s just all-around fun.

Special thanks Linda!


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Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of November 7th, 2008

Posted on November 7, 2008 by Vanessa

What a historic week we have had!  Our President Elect has a lot to do when he takes office, and while 48% of the voters may have been disappointed by the outcome, I think it’s important as citizens that we give him a chance.  I mean forgive my opinions but Schwarzenegger is trying to pass more taxes than California has seen since he took office and he is a so called “Republican”!  I start with these comments this week because these decisions and changes are affecting the workplace whether the workplace is eCommerce, an entrepreneur’s start up, or a more traditional setting.  As the stress about the economy and unemployment rises, employees are likely to feel the stress on a more personal level.  There have been some great articles this week that relate to how this stress may affect the workplace so that will be the focus for this post.

  • Warren Buffet was recently interviewed about the financial crisis that we are currently in.  Bill Taylor of the Harvard Business Review touched on the interview and focused on a specific point that Mr. Buffet made.  When asked “Should wise people have known better?”  He replied with “Of course, they should have….”  Buffet then goes on to explain the natural progression of successful ideas that become failures.  One key takeaway: Don’t behave like a money hungry “idiot”.
  • The Rimm-Kaufman Group shared data regarding their PPC-driven sales this week, and the graph isn’t pretty, especially this close to Christmas.  The data shared is quite useful, and there is added value in the tips that are referenced at the end of the article.  Check it out here.
  • Yikes, the first sentence of this article might scare you away so I will give it to you ahead of time, and you can decide if you want to read on.  “Local interactive ad spending growth is expected to slow to around 8 percent in 2009 from 47 percent growth this year.”
  • The economic downturn isn’t having a negative impact on everyone.  Coupon sites have seen a 26% increase in traffic in the third quarter, and it’s expected to rise.  Retailers would be wise to follow suit and make sure they have coupon programs in place.  A couple other key tidbits from the article are to avoid cutting costs by eliminating free shipping promotions, and be prepared to advertise for Christmas earlier than usual.
  • What about employees?  Well, email may be adding to the office drama.  Email is such a staple in office communication that people may not even realize that their words are being misconstrued.  I think this video explains it best.

Who is "The Company" to You?

Posted on November 6, 2008 by Zach

Vanessa wrote a great blog recently entitled "Ask Not What Your Company can do for You – Ask What You can do for Your Company" I thought this was a great blog and it prompted me to put together some similar thoughts I had recently while dealing with some employee issues. As a department head I constantly get bombarded for every request and issue imaginable, everything from why a certain food item is not in the kitchen, to schedules and work quality, interdepartmental communication, even the dreaded last roll of toilet paper panic attack. To top that all off, it also comes from employees that aren’t even in my department. Honestly I don't really mind dealing with most of these issues because I enjoy helping people and want to see both them and the business succeed. The terms "the business" or "the company" can be real stumbling blocks for people depending on the size of the company and the organization structure, because I don’t think that some understand that they are a part of what makes “the company”. I think sayings like "Is this Good for the Company?" from the movie Office Space are both funny, cliché and, for small businesses, oh so true.

At the Gordian Project we only have a handful of departments and just enough employees to support each department, except for the 3 managing partners, no one else has ownership of the company; but, because of our company's small size, relationship and organization everyone is "the company". Let me explain, we are not some gigantic company, with hundreds of offices, thousands of employees and an endless management structure. If that were the case "the company" would mean something entirely different (depending on your position I suppose) and that's something that personally I did not want in a career. At the Gordian Project I can honestly say that I am part of and have ownership in "the company". I and every other employee play a huge role, regardless of title, in how the company operates and or how successful or unsuccessful it is. As much as I believe in our managing partners, they can't do everything and the success of the company is not hinged upon their every decision. Success will only come with all of us working together, following our goals and objectives and caring about "the company". I know that my decisions, success and compensation as an individual are closely tied to that of the company. While I may not technically own part of the company, because of how the owners have set things up and decided to run their business I feel as though I do.  I know that they fairly and realistically divvy out compensation, and their overall goals are for both all of their employees and the company to succeed. What this also means is that most of my decisions also effect more than just me or my department, they affect "the company" which at this point is everyone. Like I mentioned above, I think this is a hard concept for some people to grasp. They continue their attitude from past jobs of not liking to work for "the man", or that we are some huge faceless corporation which does not care, and should meet some unrealistic expectations. Having employees with those attitudes in a small business can be both unproductive and destructive.

Office Space Banner- Is This Good for the COMPANY

This is where I have to side with Vanessa wholeheartedly (and be excited that she is part of my department).  At some point depending on what "the company" means to you, many of those entitlements could melt away and or have another level of meaningfulness so that, hopefully, the larger company objectives and goals can be focused on. If you truly care, at least about your own well being and/or that of your coworkers, then perhaps it's time to understand what "the company" means to you, and act accordingly.