I had been meaning to write this post for a while. Vacation finally gave me the time to talk about my feelings of doing something big with the company I love, Change Healthcare.
Who does this?—?freezing cold, alone on a country road, no sleep, wild animals all around ? I’m talking about running with a team two-hundred miles across Tennessee, or as it is more well known, the Ragnar Relay. This is my story…
I had the opportunity to talk to the Nashville Software School today as they wrap up their class. I chose to talk about my thoughts on interviewing techniques and freelance vs full time employment. I could have written the story either way, but this way was fun :)
I attended a great Jumpstart Foundry event this evening at the gorgeous new Entrepreneur Center (which is amazing, by the way). I want now to take a moment to offer up a bit of advice to the startups in this years cohort – and for that matter, for startups everywhere. I had a big problem tonight speaking with the startups, and it was not until I was at home and cleaning up for the night that I figured it out – they tried to make me go all the way.
Detail — it is not my job to help you, it is something that I want to do and therefor I do it for free. But here is the thing, you have to want it more than I do. You see, I am a sucker for a great startup. I found myself rushing around trying to make sure I spoke to 3-4 of the different companies and made sure that I offered to make introductions, offer advice and to provide tidbits of information that might spark a meaningful thought and/or conversation. And even though they are already more than a month into the program, they did not follow the magical 90/10 rule from the movie hitch (video below).
The 90/10 rule, if you recall, is this: When you are out on a date with a girl, and you get the signal that it’s ok to give her a kiss, you don’t swing in and go 100% of the way to the lips. No. You go 90% of the way and wait, and let her come the last 10%. In my startup meetings tonight, that was not the case unfortunately. I felt like I was the one trying to convince the startup to pick me! I sought them out. I sparked the conversation. I barged in to meetings. I connected the dots between the ideas I was presenting and their business. I knew about them, and even though some had already connected with me on LinkedIn and had setup meetings with me digitally, they knew nothing about me.
Startups are hard, no doubt. They take a lot of effort, time and brain power. But founders – do NOT make your mentors, your customers or anyone else for that matter do 100% of the work. Just like that magical moment when you are green-lighted by the man/woman of your dreams to go in for the kiss the first time – make your mentors (or your customers) want to go the last 10%. Trust me, you want them to want you back.
Clients are a blessing and a curse – in my line of work, you encounter a ridiculous amount of surprises when you get started on projects. Today I offer up a short post on some things I found out when formatting a custom email for delivery to a massive corporation … who primarily uses Lotus Notes (versions under 8). The email I created which was syntactically beautiful for all other email clients and web (GMail, outlook, iPhone, etc) became 100% unusable in Lotus Notes.
Here are my findings – I hope they help you in your journey to supporting outdated enterprise email clients.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Formatting HTML Emails for Lotus Notes
- Do everything possible in semantically correct HTML
- Do not put your style tags in the header. If required, put css in-line – but know this, there is a great chance that they will get ignored
- If you need to have padding or margins, most of the time those are ignored if done via CSS padding/margin attributes. If you need them, it is best to do nested tables and adding padding with the cellpadding=”10″ attribute
- When you use tables (and trust me, you should always use tables), I saw more success from applying fixed width sizing to the table and to the individual cells. Don’t forget — if you are using cellpadding, make sure you subtract those widths from the table cells too!
- Don’t use <p> tags. Use <div> tags or <span> tags. P tags are uncontrollable due to defaults in Lotus Notes. If you use DIV or SPAN, you should still use them inside of TABLES to have more control.
- If possible, use the BGCOLOR attribute on <table> and <td> tags as close as possible to where the color is needed. If you only do it at the TABLE level, the cells may inherit from the BODY tag or other parent instead
- Don’t use BORDERS at all! It seems that the minimum border width in Lotus is 5px no matter what you do !IMPORTANT :D Just get rid of all the borders both in your CSS and on TABLEs and cells.
- Lotus Notes (versions 6.5 and 7 at least) do NOT support .PNG. That means you have to make all images in .GIF or .JPG format. Have fun with that. It literally will not render a .PNG file
How to Do Testing?
I can not speak highly enough of LitmusApp.com – they are what I used to do 95% of my upfront testing (with the last 5% being sending test emails to select clients using Lotus Notes). They have tremendous support for many email clients and browsers, but important to my scenario, they have lotus notes 6.5, 7. 8 and 8.5 that I could test in within minutes.