Why Work in Sales

When we think of the archetypal salesperson, we think of a well-dressed person (usually a man), with a big smile, a firm handshake, an enthusiastic, friendly attitude, and the hidden goal of taking you for all you’re worth. We think, unfortunately, of a car salesman.

This image was crystallized in 2001 in an in-depth piece commissioned by, an online car marketplace, called Confessions of a Car Salesman, where they sent a journalist to work in two car dealerships for several months. He wrote about techniques like “bumping” and “packing payments” (both ways to raise prices on customers in a back-handed way) and the stressful, quota-driven management that drove salespeople towards these unethical practices simply to make a decent wage. It’s no wonder sales is sometimes a profession that high achieving recent graduates and young professionals shy away from. (more…)

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Goodbye 2013. Hello 2014!

Thank you to our clients, partners, family and friends for an awesome 2013. We can’t wait to grow together in 2014!









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Inaugural Jerky Jam

Last Friday (the 13th!) Percolate had our Inaugural Jerky Jam with three of our own jerky masters offering up their finest creations for a blind tasting contest. With five flavors to choose from, the tasters had a tough time deciding on their favorite. In the end a winner was chosen, and they received the people’s ovation and fame *forever*.

Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 10.07.17 PM

It all started earlier this year when I decided to vote with my wallet. Being a lover of jerky, I was excited by the recent renaissance in jerky by small makers. After the dark ages of mass-produced garbage it was a great change. However most of the new products were, while tasty, far too bougie at $12 for a mere 4 ounces.

A bit of research led me to discover that I don’t need any fancy dehydrating equipment to make great jerky at home. All you need is an oven and the following formula:

# Lean Beef + Great Marinade = Awesome

I came up with a simple marinade by including the spices that sounded yummy from other online recipes. I brought a batch into the office that I thought turned out well, and everyone seemed to really like it. A few other folks were inspired when they heard how easy it was and made their own too. When they brought theirs in to share we had critical mass and the Percolate Jerky Club was born!

Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 10.08.33 PM

After a few weeks of swapping stories and ideas among the members, we organized our first competition. Everyone had a week to prepare, and on the big day we asked everyone in the office to sample the flavors and vote on their top three favorites.

The flavors presented were:

* Whiskey
* Classic
* Thai
* All American
* Chipotle Cayenne

The winners were Classic in 1st place, Chipotle Cayenne in 2nd and All American in 3rd. Everyone had a great time and we’re looking forward to the next round!

Here is the recipe for the winner, Classic:


* big block of lean beef
* lots of chopped onion
* lots of minced garlic
* generous blob of honey
* so much soy sauce
* plenty of liquid smoke
* dash of nutmeg
* dash of cinnamon
* dash of cumin
* healthy dose of cardamom
* dangerously large pile of cayenne pepper
* plenty of peppercorns

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 5.12.23 PM

There are no amounts, because nothing was measured. :-) Feel free to choose your own ratio according to how spicy or savory you prefer the result. The meat can be any super-lean cut such as top round, sirloin tip, brisket, etc. Freeze the meat before cutting to make slicing easier, but either way you can choose your own thickness. Thicker cuts will mean a more meaty flavor and chewy texture (but a longer drying time).

Marinate the sliced meat for 24 hours in the fridge, and then lay the slices out on a rack of some kind. Metal cooling racks for baking are ideal because they’re cheap, durable and the grid size is perfect for keeping a nice shape to the finished jerky.

Set the oven to the lowest temperature and put the racks in for four to six hours. Keep the oven door open a crack with a kitchen utensil of some kind (e.g. that big serving spoon the junk drawer). This lets the excess moisture out, and further reduces the max temperature. The drying time is pretty variable, so start checking after four hours and pull them out when you have a nibble and your mouth says: “Jerky!”.



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One year at Percolate: How I’m designing

Twelve months ago, I was designing websites, mobile sites and apps for clients like Samsung, Oreo and Meredith Publishing. My previous agency’s approach to work had everyone responsible for a small portion of the work including strategy, user experience, visual design and engineering.

Personally, I like to collaborate and be involved with the team that is working on a project from beginning to end. A collaborative approach lets people contribute their thoughts and ultimately makes for an even better solution. As someone once said, two heads are greater than one.

I joined Percolate a year ago as the second designer working with our design director Dom.

My process as a designer has evolved with each product feature I’ve worked on. There is no handbook or checklist that tells you the steps to becoming a multi-faceted designer. So you learn as you go and most of all you learn from and build relationships with the team around you.

Here are the three lessons that have helped shape my development as a designer:

1. Thoughtful and rapid approach to design iteration

Percolate wanted to introduce a new streamlined workflow for brands who needed content approved before publishing. We kicked off approvals by talking to our clients. Understanding their daily workflows and how they’re working within their teams was imperative to designing the best solution.

Together with Kevin and Guillaume from our engineering team, we worked on developing hand sketched user flows.


It was important to be able to iterate quickly, discuss and then validate the various workflows with the team. Our collaboration helped us make decisions quickly and efficiently.

We then created a small prototype to test our approach with people across the company before moving into to visual design.


This process ensured that we solved for the user cases we identified in our research and that our product design would integrate seamlessly into Percolate.

The final result looks like this:


2. Understanding all the states

The post drawer is the center of creating a post in Percolate. It is also one the most complex user experiences to solve for. The post drawer is designed intelligently meaning the views rearrange depending on which platform the user selects.


When adding functionality to the drawer to allow for individual post customization, I was faced with the challenge of several dependent states. These states included: reset, empty, no data, expand and closed states to name a few.

At Percolate, one of our guiding design principles is to make things visible. We believe the intention of products should be obvious. Design helps us create intuitive interfaces that give users visual feedback to the actions they take. We are not simple for the sake of minimalism, we are simple to focus users.

For example, when allowing a brand’s post to be published to multiple Twitter handles we needed to have a selected, deselected and disable state for each channel. The challenge here was how to visualize these states so it was obvious to the user what actions could be taken or weren’t available. Working through all of the states in wireframes and visual design is the only way to validate a solution. Guillaume, who leads the frontend team, is a states superstar. Working with him has pushed me to be constantly be thinking this way.

3. How to deliver insightful analytics

Building an insightful look into a client’s performance analytics was a major undertaking. We wanted to surface the most relevant data stories and help our clients make more informed publishing choices. For example, we surface the most optimum time for a brand to post to their social platforms based on publishing and engagement history. This example showcases how and when a brand’s audiences are engaging with their content across platforms to capitalize on publishing and/or engagement trends.


I worked with Zach and Erik on our engineering team to work out the specifics of the data we could surface. Recently, there was a great tweet from Eddie Opara from Pentagram that rings true in this example:

The quote best describes my biggest takeaway when working with data. We need to identify the patterns which will ultimate structure the design.

Analytics was a large scope of work that we trimmed down into phases. Working with Stacy, our product manager, has helped me tailor scopes to a MVP. An MVP is the minimum viable product (though at Percolate, we often refer to the MDP – minimum delightful product). Working like this allows us to iterate and build upon a solution.

The designer I am today

Becoming a product designer is an evolution because you’re forced to become a better thinker who’s constantly refining your skills and learning from those who surround you. Percolate gave me the opportunity to work on product design from start to finish and to work in an environment that is continually challenging me – its awesome.

Come join us!

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So, you want to ride a bicycle in NYC?

In the spirit of NYC’s bike to work week, here’s some guidance around buying your first bike. Like most things you read on the internet, please take this with a grain of salt, but know that I’ve been riding a bike to work for about 7 years (5 in SF and 2 in NY).

First of all, get excited!

Riding a bike is incredibly freeing. What used to be a 45 minute G train ride from Williamsburg to Prospect Park is now a 25 minute cruise with plenty of scenic brownstones in between. And with the immutable presence of fried chicken in this town, we could all benefit from more exercise.


But aren’t bikes expensive? Not really! Depending on whether you want a used or new bike, you can find yourself a reliable steed in the range of $500. If you consider a monthly metro pass is $116 or even the cost of owning and maintaining a car (gulp!), bikes offer incredible value.

Buying a Bike

Option one – go analog (also known as, support your local bike shop):

Physically going into a bike shop and actually checking out the models is a great way to get to know what you like and see what’s out there. recommends calling two or three different shops to get a sense of the styles and brands they carry in advance to save time. You can also get a sense of how amenable the shops are to first-time bike owners. 

Two bike shops I’ve found to be very good are Velo in the East Village and Bicycle Habitat in Soho. Even if you don’t end up buying your bike there, you can patronize these shops by picking up a light, or a lock there.

For a great first commuter bike, I recommend going single speed. New York is relatively flat, and single speed bikes are easy to maintain with less moving parts to break or have stolen. A bike with a flip-flop hub will enable you to switch to fixed gear. Even if you have greater aspirations of going from being commuter to a proper cyclist, the single speed will carry you through many a long ride up the Westside Highway or around Prospect Park.

Option two – the Internet:

Once you begin to familiarize yourself with brands, you can read up on various reviews. Bike forums are chock full of information and personal feedback around different brands so its easy to start to learn how models stack up in terms of quality. 

For example, in reading up on a frame I was considering, I learned that an online retailer (Performance) had a house brand that was more affordable and getting great reviews.

Option two and a half – Craigslist is your friend:

Once have an understanding of what brands are good and pricing, you can take a much more targeted approach to your Craigslist search. For someone on a budget, Craigslist can be a great path to getting value. Just understand like anything else from Craiglist, caveat emptor.

The Gear

In my experience – some of the most important factors that play in when owning a good commuter bike are having a good comfortable seat, good wheels and durable tires (saving the headache of a flat).

For seats I really like the Fizik Arione, but everyone’s ‘seats’ are different. You can always go the route of the classic Brooks saddle, but don’t forget the not so classic Nylon chain to help keep it from being stolen.

As far as helmets, my number one recommendation is to wear one. After that, buy something comfortable and not too expensive, because that way you can lock it to your bike without feeling nervous. Giro makes a nice range at accessible prices and if you are looking for something more urban check out Bern.

Comfortable sneakers with a hard rubber sole like Vans, Superga or Chrome will do you right. If you’re aiming for a bit of a higher rung on the style ladder, maybe a good wedge sole will catch the discerning lense of The Sartorialist

Overall – Get a bike you like, that feels good to ride and you’ll be excited to hop on in the morning, or after a long day of work.

On the Williamsburg Bridge

So, I’ve Bought a Bike. Now What?

My Go to Streets for Navigating Manhattan are:

North: 1st ave, 6th ave & 8th ave

South: 2nd ave, Broadway & 9th ave

West: Spring Street , 9th St. & 21st St.

East: Grand St, Stanton St., Bleecker St. & 20th St.

A PDF of the 2013 Bike Map for New York can be found here.

Tips & Tricks?

Don’t be a jerk. Running red lights into oncoming traffic, darting in front of pedestrians and riding the wrong way is a fast path to getting hit, or at the least bad karma. And don’t get frustrated with salmon, those impatient cyclists or even roller bladers who feel the need to go the wrong way in the bike lanes.


Reward your new purchase by riding to Ferdinando’s in Red Hook and having their focaccia sandwich. It’s not easy to get to by subway and you’ll never look at ricotta cheese the same way again.

There are no shortage of jaywalkers, double parked delivery vans, and errant food carts to complicate your ride, but if you ride with respect and keep aware of your surroundings, you’ll do great and have a blast. Now get out there and enjoy yourself!

Questions? Say hi on Twitter. I’m @brosbeshow.

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Learning a New Language and the Vine to Prove It

Have you ever tried to learn a new skill that you know to be valuable, but you can’t find the motivation to follow through? I’m remembering a time when I tried to learn piano and harmonica and guitar, but not only was I mediocre, that’s generous, there was no concert, no group band, no end goal that encouraged me to trudge through the difficulties of learning a new skill. Although, I’d like to argue that I’m simply better at enjoying music more so than I am at making music.

If you read my last post about interning at Percolate, you’ll know that I have been learning about marketing and branding–both new skills with definite end goals of getting better at my job. Since getting hired full-time, I have been assisting in measuring our clients success across platforms, a process that requires an in-depth understanding of the posting and engagement metrics of Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, of our tools at Percolate, and of the programming design of our tools.

As was true when I started interning at Percolate,  I realized that once full-time I would have to learn a new skill in order to be better at what I do. Fortunately, Percolate is swimming with intelligent people, so I asked our ever-knowing product manager Stacy where I could a) stay updated on the changes made to social platforms’ APIs and interfaces, and b) learn the basics about markup language and coding. She gave great direction.

Now, I follow Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr engineering and developer updates, and I take daily mini classes from Skillcrush to teach myself HTML, CSS and eventually Javascript (I have also used Codecademy).

What is most thrilling about learning to read and speak these languages (forgive me for continuing the language metaphor from my last post) is that there is an end goal: delivering report cards to clients. In order to confidently deliver the data on these report cards, I need to understand how Facebook formats a user ID and a post ID in a single URL. If Twitter makes changes to its API, I need to know what effect that will have on the data we can deliver to clients. By understanding basic markup language I can read raw stats on a post or a user. And once I know these things, I can comprehend the capabilities and limitations of our tools in relation to the platforms that are most important to Percolate. When I encounter a problem or a difficulty, I have the resources–both in people at Percolate and in what I’ve already learned–to power through to find the bug, understand it and fix it.

Unlike piano, I’m still learning about changes to social platforms and markup language. The goal of delivering report cards is real, and they keep coming in. So whenever a developer on Team Percolate feigns being impressed by my work, I take a little victory lap to celebrate that I’ve learned a new skill. And I have to say–it’s pretty fun.

Sound fun? We’re hiring. Come join us.


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Driving Efficiencies by Thinking in Products

I began working at Percolate in October after having spent the beginning of my career working for a Fortune 500 company in Columbia, SC. While there, I learned sales, interfaced daily with clients and was exposed to a variety of procedural training. I quickly realized that the job, culture and city weren’t for me.

I’d lived and worked temporarily in New York a couple of different times and wanted to move back permanently. I’d always admired technology companies and been drawn to social media so I started applying to startups that looked interesting and would give me the opportunity to grow personally and professionally.

My search led me to Percolate where we’re building multiple products for marketers to create efficiencies in content marketing. Historically, social content creation has been a very manual process from ideation to managing content calendars to publishing across multiple social channels. Percolate’s technology creates a system around the content creation cycle to strip away inefficiencies by streamlining that process and rooting it into software.


Most recently we’ve partnered with Getty Images and Aviary, aiding in ‘Art & Copy,’ to visually inspire clients, mitigate risks associated with copyright law and allow for creative image editing.

My prior experience helped me implement a process-driven approach to my work. From prospecting new clients to sales outreach to client tracking, I’m constantly thinking about how to reach my goals efficiently and effectively, and that always involves products. I use products to systematize my sales process and drive efficiencies.

One product that has helped me manage tasks better is Asana. It helps me self-impose deadlines and provides structure to my weeks.


There are many other tools in my toolbox like Sparrow, Evernote and others that I’ll share in the coming months which are all meant to create a seamless workflow and reduce frictions. If you have any products you think I’d be interested in to help drive more efficiencies, please get in touch at

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PyCon 2013 Recap: Readability Matters

Part of the Percolate engineering team attended this year’s PyCon, held in (comparatively) sunny Santa Clara, CA. Attending the conference was an enjoyable, productive experience for us; it gave us a chance to think about the direction of our system and development practices outside of the frenzy of everyday development. Not to mention it was nice to relax in warm spring weather over a few beers.

Many good talks were given, and the hallways were abuzz with enthusiastic creators.

Relaxing after a “long day” of conferencing

“Readability counts.”

Of the many topics that were discussed at the conference, there was one theme that resonated strongly with me: the community’s focus on clarity and simplicity in the language. In particular, Raymond Hettinger gave a number of good talks that promoted using Python language built-ins to simplify the expression of ideas in code.

Let’s take a fairly contrived (but illustrative) example. In Java, if I want to sum the squares of a list of integers, I’ll probably write something like

public Integer sumSquares(List list) {
    Integer sum = 0;
    for (Integer i:list)
        sum = sum + (i * i);
    return sum;

The same idea expressed in idiomatic Python would read:

def sum_squares(alist):
    return sum(i ** 2 for i in alist)

I don’t mean to pick on Java here; it’s a language I admire for many reasons. That said, the relative readability of Python is a big win. Less boilerplate for the eye to parse means quicker comprehension. Logical omissions or faults are more easily identified, which decreases bugs and time spent reviewing. A clearer language facilitates more frequent deploys.

The contrast above might not strike you as being significant, but if you consider magnifying that kind of difference to web applications that are thick lattices of complex business logic, the contrast goes from pedantic to essential. I won’t sell old news, though; this subject has been well covered.

Hettinger also mentioned exciting additions to the standard library in Python 3 that will help make commonly-expressed ideas concise. For example, take the way we’d disregard an exception in Python 2.7:

    content =
except IOError:

versus a built-in context manager in Python 3.3:

with ignored(IOError):
    content =

Pretty nice, huh? There’s nothing like being in a big room of people who get excited about this sort of stuff.

@raymondh delivering the goods.

One of the things I enjoyed most about the talks at PyCon was watching core developers negotiate the balance between language simplicity and convenience. Any additional “conveniences,” by necessity, introduce added complexity to the language. But if no conveniences are ever introduced, the result is overly-verbose, stiff code. Python’s leaders do an impressive job of managing trade-offs in this department.

“One– and preferably only one –obvious way to do it.”

So, readable code helps us build Percolate quickly and safely. But the speakers at PyCon weren’t just concerned with simple syntax: they also discussed conceptual simplicity. Oft quoted documents included the sometimes-cryptic but profound Zen of Python and PEP8, the canonical source of style.

We’ve found PEP8 in particular to be a huge aid as the size of our engineering team grows. Many other environments I’ve worked in have been wrought with argument and frustration around proper code formatting; Python provides a standard. This encourages a uniform, consistent presentation and allows us to avoid many style-related arguments by appealing to a neutral document. This kind of standardization allows us to use automated tools that ensure new code is easy to read.

“Flat is better than nested.”

One of the most exciting parts of the conference for me was hearing Guido Van Rossum, Python’s Benevolent Dictator for Life, discuss his work on the new asynchronous framework Tulip. This project seeks to combat the hairy problem of asynchronous execution with a mechanism called coroutines. It is Guido’s attempt to unify a few disparate approaches in the Python ecosystem into a standard, consistent way within Python.

Almost every experience I’ve had with callbacks as a solution to an asynchronous problem has resulted in deeply-nested code that seems more difficult than necessary to trace through. The result is often lengthy debugging sessions. Guido’s approach with coroutines is exciting because it is an augmentation of Python’s flat function calls (prefix a “yield from” to the call), so we can read through code in a consistent way, independent of concurrency.

“Simple is better than complex.”

Percolate as a tool has many of the same aims that Python does, namely simplicity and effectiveness. Our trip to PyCon reminded me that there is huge value in studying the tools that we admire as we construct our own.

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What’s in a head of talent?

As we continue to grow the team we’ve realized that we need someone who is focused on recruiting, onboarding and nurturing employees. The challenge is that we didn’t have a good archetype for what we were looking for. How much should this person be focused on recruiting versus onboarding? What sort of background should we be looking for? So I tweeted out a request:

Luckily a handful of people came to my rescue and made some amazing introductions to folks at various talent/people/hr disciplines inside companies big and small who were willing to give me some of their time to help me understand what they thought the job took. As I was sitting in my fourth of these meetings this week, I got to thinking that it was worth writing up a blog post describing some of what I learned and how I think our approach is a bit different.

Director or Recruiter?
The first thing I needed to understand was where to start. Do we bring in someone more senior to oversee the process, build a team, etc. or do we bring in someone more focused on day-to-day recruiting? As I talked it out I realized that it was the former, not the latter, that we needed most as we were already doing quite well on the recruiting front and the primary need is to ensure that as we grow we continue to have a culture we’re proud of and employees who believe in the mission.

Growth, Growth, Growth
Another thing I heard over and over again, which shouldn’t be surprising, is to make sure that whomever we hire is able to deal with the ambiguity and change that comes from working in a high-growth environment. The company is changing, the product is changing, and whoever we hire to oversee talent will need to be able to adapt with us as we change. Along with this ability to deal with change was the need for creativity generally. Frequently HR is thought of as a dry discipline, but what’s really needed is someone who can come in and create talent products that are designed specifically for the needs of Percolate and can scale with the organization.

Listener First
Building on that last point, the person needs to be able to listen very very well. Not just to current and prospective employees, but also to the needs of the organization and the culture. I have a deep belief that the number one job of a product company is to find opportunities to build products everywhere. These products include processes and, for a head of talent, those processes need to be custom-built for who we are as a company. We have spent a lot of time documenting and building out these internal products already, so any head of talent needs to come in and fully immerse themselves in both who we are now and who we want to become before being able to properly understand how to build a talent department here.

HR Background?
This was a big question that I had for everyone I talked to and I got pretty consistent answers. Does someone have to have an HR background? No. It’s less important than the creativity, ambiguity, organizational, and listening skills. Is an HR background really helpful? Yes, it definitely is. There’s lots of specifics that come with an HR background that will save a ton of time as you get up to speed with overseeing talent at a company like ours and having experience dealing with those things will be hugely helpful. In the end it fell in the “nice to haves”.

Broadly where I ended up is that we’re looking for someone to come in and help take on the role of growing and nurturing the employees and culture. It needs to be someone rooted in working in a people-related role, but not necessarily someone so deeply rooted that they can’t come up with new ideas for helping us reach our goal of being the best place to work in New York City. If this sounds like you you should apply for the job right now.

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Are You on the Right Team?

Each basketball player who’s made it to the NBA/WNBA has been ‘the star’ for a portion of their career. I include portion because these young men and women were likely the centerpiece of their high school or college team. That status likely changed once they made it to the highest levels of basketball where there are 14 other ‘stars’ on the roster.

The great equalizer in NBA/WNBA isn’t height. It’s humility. Would you be able to accept your new role on a team of all-stars? How would you adjust after spending most of your developing life being told you’re the best only to suddenly be the second or third option off the bench? That’s the reality these players are facing.

One of my all-time favorite players, Chauncy Billups, is one example of someone whose years of hard work, right timing and a new team propelled him from role player to NBA All-Star. But, before becoming a five-time All-Star and 2004 Finals MVP, Billups was a NBA journeyman playing for five teams in his first five years.


I’ve followed Billups since he was in high school, watched him play at the University of Colorado and was excited when the Boston Celtics took him 3rd overall in the 1997 draft. But, things didn’t work out like he, or the Celtics, imagined. They shipped him off in a trade and he remained on the wrong teams until he joined the Detroit Pistons in 2002.

It all began to change once in Detroit. He was surrounded by equally hungry and talented teammates and had a visionary coach who saw the team’s potential to disrupt the Western Conferences domination from 1999-2003. And disrupt they would: Billups and his teammates in Detroit won the championship in 2004 and returned to the Finals in 2005.


We think about teams everyday at Percolate and over the last many months, we’ve attracted some incredibly talented individuals. Their backgrounds are diverse, and include banking, journalism, the art world, a major social network and recent college graduates, to name just a few. But everyone who joins Percolate, whatever their background, has one thing in common: he or she bought into our vision to redefine the future of digital marketing. And every single person at Percolate is doing his or her part to make this an incredible place to work.


Good news is we’re still hiring. We have 14 job openings. If you’re interested in joining our team, please get in touch because unlike the NBA/WNBA, you can choose where you play…


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