Category Archives: Business

You Don’t Need to Attend a Prestigious School to Network Well

I spent my first two years in higher-ed at our local community college, followed by two more at the University of Maryland (UMD), where I earned a bachelors in computer science. Both schools ranked okay nationally–especially for public schools–but I got grief from certain life advisers at the time for not attending a more prestigious school, like Carnegie Mellon or MIT.

I valued my family and friends too much at the time to move away, and I didn’t want to accumulate crippling debt. I was inclined to stay local. One thing I weighed losing out on was the ability to rub shoulders with future leaders. Being a commuter student who lived an hour off campus meant I would be spending most of my campus time in class, at the library, or in the computer lab. My classmates and I weren’t the best at networking. It simply wasn’t in the undergraduate CS culture at UMD.

I appreciate the connections I made while there, while also regretting not taking more advantage of the time I had with them or seeking out even more connections. I have learned since then that I didn’t need a prestigious school to network well. Several of my former classmates or schoolmates I met for the first time in industry years after graduation. We compared notes, figuratively, and realized we were in many of the same classes and even had vague recollections of each other. They have been great coworkers, advisers, and friends over the years. They are leaders at significant organizations. And I’ve had the fun of seeing them run circles around people who attended more recognized schools. Here’s just a smattering of examples:

  • Director of Engineering at Stitch Fix
  • Staff Engineer at VMware and later Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft
  • Senior Consultant at Carbon Black
  • Senior Consultant at Microsoft
  • Engineering Manager at Capital One
  • Engineer at InstaCart
  • Principal Product Designer at Main Street Hub
  • Chief Product Officer at GlobalGiving
  • A co-founder at LivingSocial
  • And another I reconnected with at a private event at Skywalker Ranch

I have a wealth of connections and friendships that I’m extremely grateful for–all who attended the same public school I attended.

I’m not belittling prestigious schools in the least. I’m simply encouraging us all to get past the stereotype that to make significant professional connections you have to attend a prestigious and expensive school. Don’t limit your opportunities like I did those two years; you’re probably just a few feet from greatness.

A Solution to the Stay-at-Home Mom Work History Gap?

My mom and I just came up with a novel way to solve the work history “gap” that seemingly endangers stay-at-home moms’ résumés when they return to the workforce–especially those who have been at home awhile.

Traditional options for addressing the gap, although well-intended and somewhat helpful, either dodge the at-home period by suggesting a functional résumé format over a chronological one, or, at-best, infer that the time is not worth citing but should be glossed over. These approaches identify and define the time at home truly as a gap in one’s work history. This is simply not true for many women. It’s work!

Former stay-at-home moms, or those in-transition, here is an idea for you: instead of leaving a gap in your chronological résumé, list the mom position like you would any other job in the workplace. Give a high-level summary of your role, non-obvious responsibilities, and list your children with their professional accomplishments as you have most certainly helped them achieve them.

Here is an example of what my mom could put on her résumé:


Stay-at-Home Mom, Home School Teacher, Life Coach (1981-2015)
Raised five children full-time, providing homeschooling to each child K-8th grade. Helped my children discover their interests and gifting and provided counsel, advice, and support as-needed.

  1. Ian Lotinsky: VP of Engineering at LearnZillion
  2. Adam Lotinsky: Project Manager at JFW
  3. Lauren Pucciarelli: Commercial CRM Auditor at Architectural Ceramics
  4. Aaron Lotinsky: Project Manager and Fulfillment at Decorative Films
  5. Nate Lotinsky: Junior, Electrical Engineering at Montgomery College

Now, “Life Coach” is intended to be slightly humorous, but is, in-fact, entirely true. 5 out of 5 kids on solid professional trajectories. That’s a parenting accomplishment if you ask me.

What do you think of this idea? I want to hear from moms and hiring managers.

Google Analytics Crash Course Notes

Thinking that you will adequately learn Google Analytics by clicking around the product, even over years, is a foolish concept. You will only understand a subset of its features and how they work together. You need to do your homework.

I cannot improve upon Google Analytics’ (GA) own crash course, titled Google Analytics IQ Lessons. It covers just about all the material in the paid Analytics courses (101, 201, and 301) at just the right level–not too high, and not too deep.

Here are my notes of the key gotcha’s and items to configure for your GA Web Properties. As well, I’ve linked to other helpful learning resources. As is my standard practice, this is mostly for my reference down-the-road, so it’s not comprehensive. However, I figure others can benefit from them as well.

Gotcha’s

  • Incognito mode and other browser privacy sessions count as new Visitors, Visits, and Page Views, as if the user had cleared his cookies. Not a huge surprise to most, I’m sure. (Although other trackers can still track you.)
  • Visits are separated by exits from the site or a 30-minute cookie timeout while on the site. Advertising Campaign attribution expires after a 6-month cookie timeout. Both are customizable.
  • Time on Exit Pages is not tracked because time is calculated between page loads on the same site. This also means that Bounce Page time is not tracked either. This has serious implications for some genres of sites, like blogs where a bit of traffic goes into and out of a single article. Know how to track Exit Page times and Bounce Pages, if you need to.
  • A Visitor can only trigger a Goal conversion once during a Visit, but can trigger an E-commerce Goal multiple times in a Visit.
  • Filters are applied between raw data capture and the Account’s Profile where the data is ultimately stored. Even if you change a Filter that sits in-between the raw feed and Profile, you cannot recover historical data. Try accomplishing the same filtering with Advanced Segments instead, which don’t run the risk of losing data. At the least, you should use Advanced Segments or other features to test concepts before creating a real Filter for them.
  • Domains and subdomains can break tracking in many glorious ways–especially E-commerce Goal tracking.

Basic Checklist

  • Always have a raw Profile that has no Filters, Advanced Segments, etc.
  • Have a Profile that excludes internal IP address so you’re not tracking yourself and your staff as they click around your site.
  • Have a Profile that exclusively tracks internal IP addresses for debugging Google Analytics code on your site.
  • Use the Google Analytics Debugger Chrome Extension for your own debugging and analysis of competitors’ tracking.
  • Enable Auto-Tagging between Google AdWords and Analytics if you are using both products.
  • If you create an AdWords Profile, set up two Filters to focus-in on AdWords traffic (Campaign Source: google, Campaign Medium: cpc).
  • Set up E-commerce tracking.
  • Set up Goal tracking.
  • Set up Internal Site Search tracking. (It’s much easier than you think.)
  • Utilize _addIgnoredOrganic to attribute Organic Search Visits for your web site’s address (i.e. someone searching for “example.com”) to a Direct Visit instead.
  • Set up appropriate Custom Variables to track additional information about Visitors, Visits, and Page Views.

Hopefully, all these will help us do a better job optimizing our customer average lifetime value (LTV).