Bringing Human Back

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I had the privilege of spending the afternoon with Lain Shakespeare. Lain is not only my favorite descendant of famed storytellers Joel Chandler Harris and Shakespeare, he’s also my favorite MailChimp employee.

He’s spent the past year serving as an ambassador between MailChimp and social change organizations. And he’s loved every second of it. I can’t think of the last time I heard a millennial so happy and enthusiastic about their job and organization.

For those of you who don’t know, MailChimp is an email newsletter marketing service. Sounds pretty dull right? What is fascinating about MailChimp is how much people love it. For the most part, the average computer / web app user interacts with technology because it helps make their life easier, they need the service, but they don’t find the experience enjoyable. MailChimp is turning this on its head. I’ve heard friends exclaim how much they look forward to opening up MailChimp to work on their email marketing. Who would have thought?

With this in mind, I’d like to point out that MailChimp is killing it right now. They’re sprinting towards 2 million users globally after hitting 1 million in late 2011.

When I asked Lain why he thinks they are doing so well, he had a simple answer.

MailChimp is human. It was designed for people, not for computers. Their top priority is a delightful user experience, and every single way you interact with MailChimp is intended to make you feel alive.

Unfortunately we’ve become so used to technology that makes us feel less alive, less human, that MailChimp is a breath of fresh air.

I also suspect it is this humanity that has made it such a desirable place for millenials to work. Every interaction with the company, both inside and out, is authentic. The company is over 100 people and growing rapidly, and when I asked Lain if they’ve struggled with any internal politics through this growth he looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. It was a resounding no. When Lain goes to conferences and events to meet his users, he doesn’t collect or share business cards. He’s there to have authentic, human conversations with interesting people doing interesting things.

I love the MailChimp story. It gives me hope to see companies who value Authenticity and bringing their stakeholders Alive thriving.