Dedicated to Officer Matthew Hare, 2001-2023
***I’ve never done this before, but this week’s edition will describe a traumatic and potentially triggering event. If you’re experiencing distress or a crisis and you’re in the US, call the Lifeline by dialing 988 or visit 988lifeline.org. Otherwise, let me know if I can help you in any way.***
In just over a week starting the end of July, I covered nearly 3,000 miles of the country by train, going from NYC to Harper’s Ferry, WV, then stopping through DC. Next came the longest leg to New Orleans, then a straight shot north to Chicago before transferring to our final leg home back to the gleaming Moynihan Station abutting Penn. It involved about 100 hours on a train, though without delays, it should have taken 80.
The itinerary was my idea, in part because I can now say I’ve spent time in all 48 continental states (I’m looking at you, WV). The general idea was my daughter’s, as she wanted to do a 24-hour train ride for spring break, and this was how we one-upped that trip to North Dakota. For this trip, we did sleeper cars starting with our DC-NOLA mega-leg, following regular seating for the quicker jaunts to and from WV.
For those who’ve experienced the joys of cross-continental train travel in Europe and Asia, the US rail system is not quite as glamorous an experience. Here are a few marketing taglines I’d propose based on this year’s adventures:
“Play Coffin Roulette!”
This isn’t even the triggering part… more on that later.
We’ve seen three kinds of cabins for two-bed sleeper cars on Amtrak so far, all while booking the same kind of ticket. We booked Roomettes, the smaller and more affordable cabin, measuring 3’6” X 6’6”, and I’m guessing they’re about 8’ high. Private bedrooms are somewhat but not vastly more spacious.
Here’s what the 3 different Roommettes were like:
- Our favorite: there’s a sink in the room and windows on the top bunk, making the top bunk way more spacious; bathrooms are in the same train car
- The awkward one: windows are up top, and there’s a toilet crammed in by the sink, so it’s a little odd, and the nearest other bathroom is 1 or 2 cars away
- The worst one: the ‘coffin’ style with no windows up top and less overhead room, making it the most claustrophobic; there’s no sink, but the two seats below that lay flat and get converted to the bottom bed are oddly the most comfortable
I’ve found no reliable way to predict whether you’ll get the coffin other than knowing the train lines well. While that might suit the adventurous spirit for some, it’s odd to pay that much for a product where you have so little clue as to what you’re getting.
“It’s neither about the Journey nor the Destination”
I’d love to say that you can look forward to the journey. But a lot of the journey is less than desirable. You may wind up with bumpy, cold, thin-walled cabins where you’re woken by passengers’ 4am conversations. While most train workers were a pleasure and got a big kick out of my kid, one told me he didn’t like my attitude when I checked on my lunch order that was more than an hour late all because I asked where it was. Most dials in cabins, such as for temperature control or the speaker volume for announcements, were purely decorative. Three of our rides had delays of at least four hours. In a cabin that small, if your dexterity resembles mine, you can expect a few bruises from hitting yourself on everything.
What made all the trips worthwhile was the time spent with my travel companion. Even when a 28-hour ride wound up taking 36 hours, she rolled with it. It was what we signed up for. And when things go off the rails (sorry), she gets way more entertaining.
“You Better Not Be What You Eat”
The first trip out to North Dakota, the food was decent. One one leg, we got to sample what was said to be their famous flatiron steak, and it was a crowd-pleaser.
On this trip, the salmon looked ashy gray, and that was one of the better meals. Trains routinely ran out of listed menu options. After begging for a cheeseburger for my kid on my way back to NY, my attendant friend who had forgotten about us brought an inedible veggie burger (his slogan, for real: “I just bring you what they give me”). The packaged butter cake was the best thing we had for 3,000 miles of travel, and I ate WAY too much of it.
If you are what you eat, for a week, I was a butter cake, and I’m pretty sure my daughter had forgotten what produce looked like. At least the Hippeas were plant-based.
“Don’t Delay Being Grateful for Each Day”
(Trigger warning once again… please stop reading if needed.)
“The funeral and celebration of life service for the Easley police officer who died last week in the line of duty was held Tuesday morning. Matthew Logan Hare, 22, was struck and killed by a train in the early hours of Aug. 2 while assisting an individual undergoing what officials say was ‘a mental health crisis.’”
-Chalmers Rogland in Greenville News
This story is brutal in so many senses. One of this new officer’s first acts on the job was his final sacrifice. I can’t imagine what his loved ones are going through, along with his surviving partner – and the train driver. The individual experiencing the crisis survived.
I was on the train that struck him. It was, to say the least, a shocking event to wake up to. I turned to Twitter to find out what was happening as the train staff wasn’t at liberty to say, and the news kept getting worse as the hours passed.
Eight hours of delays is nothing. I was there with my kid, and when we pulled into New Orleans in the middle of the night, we were together, and we were safe. Everyone on the train was safe. The Amtrak staff was remarkable in doing what they could to keep people comfortable and calm.
What I couldn’t stop thinking about is what it means for worlds to collide like this, and here the meaning is more literal. I’ll never forget the loss of this hero because of the fluke of me being on the train involved in this. When you become part of someone else’s story, and when they become part of yours, you’re never completely the same again – however accidental or incidental.
“Slow is the Way to Go”
There’s a growing backlash against bro-y hustle porn. In a wider array of social circles, saying you took a mental health day (or week) will get you far more respect than saying you worked a streak of 18-hour days. While the bread boom spurred by Covid’s initial surge didn’t last as people had more time to stay at home tending to their loaves, searches for bread recipes remain significantly higher than they were pre-pandemic.
With a train, you lose two key elements of travel: time and control. For long trips, it takes far longer than planes and usually way longer than cars to get where you’re going, and unlike a road trip, you don’t have any control about where you stop along the way. The view, however scenic, is the view Amtrak wants you to see. As much as the view by trains is romanticized, you get better views filling your whole field of vision from a road trip. At least on the train, you can get more reading done — and play some heated Mario Kart races.
So would I recommend going on this kind of journey?
It’s not for everyone. It isn’t for most people. I’m also very curious to know how many passengers are brave enough to use the shower room in the sleeper car cabins.
And yet, if you’re up for being at the mercy of the rail gods, it is an adventure, and one where you may get some time to reflect on so many things in your life you can be grateful for.
It is good to be home. And even if Officer Hare is no longer with us, it’s good to live in a world where we can be inspired by such a hero.
WHAT TO WATCH & READ:
Recent content shared by Serial Marketers and friends:
- Unlock Predictable Traction with Remarkable Positioning w/ Ton Dobbe by Corey Quinn
- The 7 Types of Marketing Intelligence by Julie Livingston with David Berkowitz
- People Hire Phone Bots to Torture Telemarketers by Robert McMillan
HOW TO SHARE
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CONTENT MARKETING WORLD 2023
September 26-28, Washington D.C.
“Content Marketing World 2023, the largest gathering of content marketers in the world, is in an all-new location, Washington D.C., September 26-29. Produced by the Content Marketing Institute, #CMWorld is jam-packed with keynotes, sessions, workshops, and masterclasses, covering all aspects of content marketing. No matter your level of expertise, you can customize your experience at #CMWorld 2023. Come learn, network, and have fun making meaningful connections with fellow attendees and speakers before, during, and after the event. BONUS: Use the code SERIAL100 to save an extra $100 on your registration.”
AI FOR MARKETERS SUMMIT
November 14-16, 2023, Virtual
“Why AI for Marketers Summit needs to be your conference of the year. Here’s what you’ll experience at our marketing AI event. Hear from senior executives from cross-industry brands share how they’re investing in AI and how it’s transforming their marketing strategies. Gain practical knowledge and skills immediately applicable to your work, and get expert feedback to help refine your strategies. Determine how and when to capitalize on AI through hands-on workshops that identify real problems and potential use cases for AI in your work… etc”
Keep checking out the #jobs channel in Serial Marketers for more. You can also see our full list of job resources here. Here are some great opportunities shared in these places or sent to me directly.
Director of Marketing and Communications
San Francisco, CA
“In this role, you will be responsible for leading our marketing and communications efforts across all channels, including digital, print, and social media. You will also be responsible for building and managing our marketing team, and for developing and executing our marketing strategy and brand voice. We are looking for someone who is passionate about our mission of making home ownership intuitive, easy, and flexible, while also providing best-in-class service and tooling for our clients. We are obsessive about simplifying the homeownership journey. We are looking for a team member who can help us continue our path to becoming thought leaders in the field by generating content for trade publications, social media, and conferences.”
Growth Marketing Associate
Via Katie in the community
“Our mission is to give renters everywhere greater financial freedom to plan and enjoy their lives. Rhino has launched the industry’s first end-to-end deposit platform servicing all stakeholders in the rental ecosystem. Rhino is aggressively responding to the most pressing needs of renters and landlords alike and aims to service more than $45 billion in cash deposits and security deposit insurance for 43 million rental homes nationwide across the entire rental industry… We are seeking a highly motivated and versatile Growth Marketing Associate who thrives in a dynamic and collaborative environment. As a key member of our marketing team, you will play a pivotal role in driving our company’s growth and success through your diverse skill set and ability to work both cross-functionally and independently.”
VISIER SOLUTIONS INC
Customer Advocacy Manager
Via Jessica in the community
“Visier is the leader in people analytics. We are passionate about a ‘people first’ approach to business strategy and our addictive technology is transforming the way that organisations make decisions. Recently closing a hugely successful funding round and a landmark $1b valuation, Visier is embarking on an incredible phase of its 12 year growth Journey. In this role, you will be responsible for setting and executing the company’s customer advocacy and marketing strategy as part of our larger marketing program. You will partner closely with our go-to-market success teams to identify advocates, nurture, drive participation and turn customer experiences into compelling stories. You will also play a pivotal role in driving our online reputation and bringing our customer’s voice to life through a robust review program. If you are adept at storytelling, with exemplary written and verbal communication skills, as well as a strong ability to collaborate with internal and external stakeholders and manage cross-functional programs, we’d love to get to know you!”
FRESH WATER SYSTEMS, INC
Director of Operations
“Director of Operations is responsible for leading and managing various departments including 2 Warehouses, Assembly, Logistics, and Facilities. Duties: Responsible for the organization, development, and implementation of all strategies for the fulfillment operations for all warehouse operations at all locations. Lead the operations team to ensure our product flow is efficient and cost effective. Point person for various internal and external business partners to communicate, negotiate and coordinate all needs related to fulfillment operations. Scale assigned departments within the organization to meet the demands of the other business units. This is through both continuous improvement efforts and/or adding additional staffing as needed…etc”
Also, check out the Serial Marketers job board
Other job resources (see a full list here):
- Beeler.Tech: Job listings for ad operations, programmatic account management, sales operations, and more.
- Braintrust: A freelance platform where you are the owner and where freelance talent keeps 100% of the bill rate.
- Candidate: Featured marketing and sales jobs
- ExecThread: Senior roles spanning a range of verticals and cities; membership is free but fully vetted (this uses my referral ID to get you in faster)
- Lunch Club: Match 1:1 around predetermined goals with accomplished professionals (free)
- NYC Ad Jobs & Networking: A popular Facebook group
- Questions to Ask for a Marketing Role: What questions should you ask when starting a new marketing role or job?
- Serial Marketers Job Board: Post regular and featured listings and subscribe for updates.
- Venwise: Submit your job interests here and get in front of their roster of hiring leads; select “Serial Marketers” under “How did you find us”
Do you run or enjoy other job listing sites? Let me know, and I’ll share them.
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