Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist stumbles

Relatively recently, the site of which she is founder and figurehead – Brazen Careerist –metamorphosed into a social networking site, a 'career management tool for next generation professionals'.

(So Penelope's popular, linkbaity blog – which mixes careers, sex, 9/11, sex, networking, sex and sociology (spiced up with a soupcon of sex) – has, in one respect, acted as a protracted 'warm-up' and advance marketing tool for Brazen Careerist's social networking dimension. And a very successful and engaging one. Even the bits that aren't about sex.)

This new Brazen Careerist social network is scrapping against Linkedin on the established, slightly older and more traditional right-hand flank, and Facebook on the less targeted, more indiscriminate left. Quite a pair of combatants. But there may well be a niche. Well observed.

I've created a profile on Brazen Careerist (following Penelope Trunk's superb clarion call thereto), but haven't really done much else. To be honest, I'm not madly into that stuff. I have difficulty enough responding to emails.

Anyhow, that's the background.

Today, though, I received an email from Ryan Paugh, right-hand man of Penelope and CEO of Brazen Careerist. Not a message to my Brazen Careerist inbox (or whatever); an actual email, to my personal account.

Here's the text of the email. You probably don't need to read it all – the first couple of paragraphs and the PS should be ample:

Hey Guys!

I'm reaching out to you today because I wanted to share something our friend Ramit Sethi is offering for members of Brazen Careerist. You may know Ramit -- he writes about personal finance and entrepreneurship at iwillteachyoutoberich.com, became a 26-year-old New York Times bestseller earlier this year when he published "I Will Teach You To Be Rich," and has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, ABC News, etc. He's the only guy who's ever given me advice that I actually used for my OWN money.

He is THE personal-finance guy for young professionals, and he's offering an online Personal Finance Boot Camp that will help you automate your finances in 6 weeks. He'll be teaching...

Specific tactics to optimize your credit cards
Negotiate with banks (negotiation scripts included)
Set up high-interest accounts
Start investing in sensible investments
AUTOMATE your money so you can focus on the things you really care about.
Not just stuff from his book - he'll be doing weekly webcasts and inviting special guest speakers to cover entrepreneurship topics like marketing, pricing, branding, and more.

I know what you're thinking: "Why do I need to pay money for this? I could get all of this for free online."

Yeah, that's true. You can read How-To's until your eyes bleed. But taking action is whole different ballgame. (1) If you pay you're going to actually DO it, and (2) when you join the I Will Teach You To Be Rich Boot Camp you're making an investment to automate your own finances. I'm a fan because he never lectures people about spending money on lattes, but instead shows how we can spend EXTRAVAGANTLY on the things we love, if we cut costs mercilessly on the things we don't.

When Ramit came to us with his Boot Camp idea I knew it would be a success because (1) the man knows what he's talking about, and (2) he emphasized how the program was all about motivating each other to succeed. The point is not to just READ, but to take ACTION.

You guys know we don't think twice about spending money to go out, or see movies, or buy shoes or whatever. So I really encourage you to invest in yourself for 6 weeks and take action on your finances.

Registration closes in 72 hours, so sign up now to automate your money in 6 weeks and start 2010 off fresh.

Here's the link: http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/bootcamp


- Ryan Paugh, Director of Community

PS: In full disclosure Brazen Careerist has an affiliate deal with the I Will Teach You To Be Rich Boot Camp and will receive a portion of profit for every person we get to sign up. With that said, Ramit Sethi is the best of the best and you're going to get what you paid for!

... Mistake.

Brazen, you're a young social networking site, trying to carve out a difficult niche. Spamming affiliate sales messages to your early members only months after your launch is a VERY BAD IDEA.

Now, allow me to be clear: I'm not upset. I'm not offended or enraged. (I have better things to be offended and enraged by, honestly.) And I'm in no way implying that this iwillteachyoutoberich.com is a con or anything (even with a URL like that).

But when was the last time the CEO of Facebook sent something like this to my inbox? Or Linkedin?

This makes Brazen Careerist look cheapass and desperate for a quick buck. It looks insecure and unprofessional. It administers a whacking great blow to the careful brand-building of Penelope's blogging (which is so effectively personal).

And I reiterate: it doesn't matter if this Ramit Sethi is the best there is. The fact remains, you're spamming me with unsolicited sales messages. That's not a good signal. If you want to play with the big sites, Brazen, stop doing that shit.

Because the brand is a real fragile thing. Be gentle with it. O be gentle.


Ryan Paugh said...


I'll be the first to say that I think we made a pretty immature social media blunder w/ that newsletter today. As the Community Manager for the site, I take full responsibility.

The most difficult part of being a Community Manager for a brand that needs to make money is acting as the voice of the network. Deciding what's appropriate and what's not isn't always easy (this one should have been more obvious).

The good news is that we have people like you who aren't afraid to be vocal. I'm glad to hear that you're not offended or enraged. Rest assured, we won't make a mistake like this again.

-Ryan Paugh

Billicatons said...

Hi Ryan, thanks for commenting - and I'm glad you see what I was getting at and didn't take it as an attack.

And, yes, it's a positive sign that I care enough/am sufficiently engaged with the Brazen Careerist brand to be motivated to write this post ...

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