A New Arrival

Saturday, October 3, 2009, 11:25 PM

I have some happy organizational news to share today. Our small staff here at Martenson Central welcomes our first general manager, Adam Taggart.

When I polled the community here back in June for feedback on how to better serve you and our overall mission, one thing came through loud & clear:  Hire help to free me up to focus on my info-scouting efforts.  Well, that’s just what we’ve done.  Adam is here to take as many business management responsibilities as possible off of my plate.

He brings high-caliber business and Internet expertise, coming here after a 9-year stint at Yahoo!. But more important, Adam is one of you.  He has been a member of this site for years and is a passionate student of, and advocate for, the movement we and others in the econoblogosphere are successfully creating.

I have great excitement at what we’re going to be able to accomplish with him on board.  Actually, he’s been working closely with me and the staff behind the scenes since early July, and a number of improvements to the business (some visible to you, some not) have already been driven through his leadership.  So I have a very good assessment of the quality of talent we’re bringing on.

I’ll let Adam introduce himself to you in his own words.  Please join me in giving him a warm welcome to the community now that his new role is official.

Hello, everybody. It’s wonderful to be here.

Similar to Chris, I’ve made my way here from the corporate world after coming to the realization that the future is going to unfold very differently than most people realize.  I’m deeply concerned about the colliding Three E trends and the inadequate – or more accurately in most cases, erroneous – action that our government, corporate, and social leaders are pursuing as they groggily awaken to our predicament.

Playing a role in how these challenges are met is important to me.  I’m convinced we’re entering into a critically significant moment in human history, one in which our decisions and actions will be studied for generations to come.  To weather this period successfully, people are going to need accurate, trustworthy counsel as well as help from communities they can rely on.

To me, is increasingly well-positioned to serve both needs well.  That’s a testament to Chris and his talents; but frankly, it’s due equally to the intelligent, passionate, and altruistic community that you, the members, have built around him. 

I see my primary role here as nurturing & growing these unique assets in order to magnify their global impact. Step zero for this plan is freeing Chris up to fully tap his scouting and synthesis skills – the more insights he produces, the more we all benefit.  But I’m also struck by the tremendous amount of potential to expand on and evolve what this business can offer.  I read through and cataloged every one of the ideas you submitted to Chris’ call for feedback earlier this year, which proved to be a treasure-trove for me in terms of orienting my priorities.

At a high level, my key takeaways from your feedback are:

  1. The insights available on this site are the universal foundation that this movement is built on.  Priority #1 should be increasing the frequency & quality of Chris’ insights (and those of other respected contributors), as well as making them available in new formats (e.g., adding video blogs, podcasts).
  2. Site members highly value the community that has evolved here and are passionate about preserving its integrity.  You also have a lot of great energy and ideas around deepening and enriching the community’s ability to share learnings and connect (both in person and online).
  3. There is a hunger for more direction in translating Chris’ macro perspective into actionable steps that we can each take in our lives.
  4. There is room to improve in empowering the community to get our message out, ‘wake up’ others to the reality we face, and get them involved.

Hopefully those priorities resonate with you.  If they don’t, I want to know what does.  I view input from this community as my MOST valuable tool in setting strategy.  I’ll read any and all comments sent through our email feedback channel or posted to our site feedback and comments forum.  Or I can be PM’d any time.  I will also specifically reach out at times to ask for your thinking on key topics that we’re noodling on.

As Chris mentioned, I’ve been working closely with the excellent staff in an unofficial capacity over the past 3 months.  Here is a short but fast-growing list of some of the new features and improvement that we’ve begun rolling out.  Hopefully it will give you some early faith in what’s to come:

  • The ‘What Should I Do? The Basics of Resilience’ series
  • Social media badges for easy sharing of articles on this site
  • Reviving our twitter and Facebook communities
  • The guest contributor series that ran while Chris was away finishing the book (we will be selectively featuring more guest writers going forward)
  • Redesigning the enrollment page
  • Streamlining the enrollment process (fewer steps)
  • Lots of small enhancements to the site – did anyone notice that when you click to read the next page of comments to an article you don’t have to scroll down through the entire post anymore?
  • Expanding the reach of Chris’ content to more mainstream audiences (such as his appearance on Yahoo! Finance’s Tech Ticker)

There’s a lot of strategy work going on, as well.  But I’ll keep things concise for now and simply commit to keeping you informed as we have new initiatives to announce.

And speaking of commitments, I do have a few to ask of you.  Here are things you can do to increase our odds for success in improving this business:

  • Provide feedback – per the channels I mentioned above.
  • Share content regularly– it only takes a few seconds to retweet or post an article via twitter and Facebook, or share via email.  Doing so instantly multiplies the audience we can influence with that story.
  • Create quality content of your own – blog comments and our forums give you a platform to enrich the dialog here.  If you have insights to contribute or share (and everyone's an expert on something), step up and lay it on us.
  • Volunteer your talent – is a very modest operation.  We are rich in plans for what to do, but limited in means to achieve them.  If you have resources (e.g., skills, connections, money) to donate, you can accelerate our ability to improve the experience here.
  • Bring opportunities to the table – marketing and business development are just two of the many hats on my head (which I took off of Chris’ crazy stack).  If you’re able to identify opportunities in your area – such as finding influential speaking venues for Chris, or setting up high-reach TV/radio interviews - you add to the scalability of our operations.

In closing, let me simply say how happy I am to be a part of this movement.  I consider the opportunity I have here, to make a positive difference, a true privilege.

I’ll sign off with a photo of one the helpers (my youngest daughter) I recruited last month when planting my first square foot garden.  I’ll let you know how that’s turning out in a future post.



PS – you can learn a little bit more about how I found my way to Chris and this site by watching the intro to Chris’ presentation at Yahoo! HQ (that’s me introducing him).

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