Dec 10

2016: A Beer In Review

2016: A Beer In Review

2016: crappy year. great beer

The end of the year is a great time to look back on times spent with friends and family. Despite being, generally, a sucky year, my family was blessed with good health and good experiences. That good fortune allowed me to spend time on my personal passions: mountain biking and drinking craft beers. Funny enough, a lot of my mountain biking friends are craft beer fiends too – wonder twin powers activate!

This year I decided to look back on 2016 through beer googles and it turned out to be a fun, boozy way to reflect on the year. So without further ado, here are my best beers of 2016.

2016: A Beer In Review

So 2016 sucked. Loads of great people left us and we elected a megalomaniac to lead the free world. Yet all was not lost! Although I didn’t get my hands on a few of my faves, no “Heady Topper” by Alchemist, no “Sip of Sunshine” by Lawson Finest Liquids and no “Red Wheelbarrow” by Maine Beer Co (and let’s remember that awesome beer makes a great holiday gift), on the whole, I drank some great beers in 2016! Here are my top 12 beers loosely ranked by my personal preference.

  1. “Doppelgänger” by Tree House Brewery

    I was lucky to get this one gifted by a friendly co-worker. I’ve had beers from Tree House before (courtesy of madman mountain biker Dave R) and I’ve loved every one of them. Doppelgänger was the only Tree House beer I got my hands on this year and it was fantastic. For my money, Tree House is making some of the best beers in America. I actually planned a trip to their brewery, in the middle of nowhere Mass, this summer but I called it off because at the time Tree House was limiting purchases to 8 cans. The can limit, along with long lines, the possibility of them selling out and it being a 90 minute drive each way made it a tough sell.

  2. “Focal Banger” by The Alchemist

    I recently lucked into Focal Banger by fellow beer enthusiast and mountain biker, “Johnny Shade.” Johnny was able to pick up Focal Banger at a small retail store in Watertown. Very shocking to see anything from The Alchemist available for retail in Mass. As I mentioned, Heady Topper did not find me this year but I really enjoyed Focal Banger.

  3. “Cutting Tiles” by Trillium Brewing Company

    In what will soon feel like a broken record, Cutting Tiles was a hit with me. Since Trillium opened up a brewery in Canton, MA, only 8 minutes from my commuter rail station, Trillium has become an expensive habit. At $5 a can, I have to budget how much Trillium makes its way to the beer fridge but I usually make the trip at least once month. Cutting Tiles, and it’s varietals, has become my favorite beer from Trillium.

  4. Citra Cutting Tiles” by Trillium Brewing Company

    Yep. Same beer…with a different hop featured in the brew. This time it was citra. Cutting Tiles is brewed with wild honey, which I wouldn’t have thought I would like, but apparently, I like it. I like it a lot.
    I’m just now realizing every beer on this list is a IPA or Double IPA. In 2016 I tried to expand my palate by trying more styles of beer, but I always come back to what works for me. #hophead

  5. Galaxy Cutting Tiles” by Trillium Brewing Company

    Like I said, broken record. This is the third Cutting Tiles beer on the list and they make up three of the top five spots on this list. Part of the fun of looking back at the best beers I drank in 2016 is, well, if you had asked me what my favorite Trillium beer would have said Vicinity. Only when I looked at the scoring did I see that Cutting Tile varietals were consistently my favorite.

  6. “Crusher” by The Alchemist

    Crusher snuck up on me. I hadn’t even heard of this beer until madman Dave R handed me one. Heck, I didn’t realize it was even from The Alchemist until I looked more closely at the can. I was very pleasantly surprised! In living up to the name, this beer stands out from other, more floral and balanced beers from this brewery. It’s like a Heady Topper pushed to 11. Hoppier. More Bitter. Like Heady Topper on crack.

  7. “Santilli” by Night Shift Brewing

    Another local brewery. I’ve had a few great beers from Night Shift, Morph comes to mind but because each batch is different, the results can be uneven. However, I had a few Santilli in 2016 and each one was fabulous. One of my favorite local brews from a Massachusetts brewery.

  8. “Susan” by Hill Farmstead Brewery

    I can still remember drinking this beer. It was in the Northeast Kingdom at Mike’s Tiki bar after a great day of mountain biking. Mike’s is an outside bar that caters to mountain bikers. It has great beer, a food truck and often has a band playing some sort of hippie-Greatful Dead type music (hey, it’s Vermont). Shaun Hill is some kind of beautiful beer genius. I haven’t had a bad beer from that brewery yet. They don’t have much of a distribution outside of the NEK, but if you visit Burke mountain, you’ll find a number of establishments with Hill on tap.

  9. “Grapefruit Sculpin” by Ballast Point Brewing

    Not only is this beer great for fighting off scurvy, it’s one of the easier beers to find – at least for this list. You don’t need to go to “craft beer” bar to find it and it’s always available at your local bar store (at least in the Boston area). I’ve had grapefruit beers from other breweries like Harpoon and Long Trail, but Ballast Point’s has been the best for me. I love this San Diego brewery. In 2016 I also dug some of their darker beers like Victory at Sea. I’m currently hunting their Red Ale DIPA, Tongue Buckler. Again, it makes a great holiday gift! 🙂

  10. “Vicinity” by Trillium Brewing Company

    This is the first Trillium beer I had so it’s special to me. You know…like your first child. (kidding!) I didn’t know at the time but later learned that Vicinity was originally brewed and served at Boston’s Row 34 restaurant. Since both Trillium and Row 34 established themselves in Boston’s bustling Fort Point area, I can imagine the purveyors of both shared some awesome meals and beers together.

  11. “Abner” by Hill Farmstead Brewery

    I enjoyed this Double IPA after an epic day of riding 25 miles of the best trails in New England. Drinking awesome beer with awesome guys is pretty much a recipe for a fantastic evening. Oh, and did I mention we were enjoying awesome pizza at Parker Pie? This beer is great and this perfect setting made the experience special.

  12. “Undine Double IPA” by Down the Road Beer Co.

    I might have forgotten this beer if it wasn’t for this end of year review. Only in reviewing my top beer ratings did this beer return to my mind. I’ve had their Pukwudgie Pale Ale from this local brewery before but I still don’t know much about this relatively new brewery.  I love supporting local brewers and I’ll keep an eye out for more of their brews in 2017.


So, what did you drink in 2016? I was able to do this post because I faithfully logged my beers using the Untapped app. If you use Untappd, connect with me, “iamreff

Oct 31

How to Gain Organizational Buy-In for MarTech Investments


Recently I had a chance to attend a local Boston event with about 50 Marketing Technology professionals. I had the pleasure of facilitating a table discussion on “How to Gain Organizational Buy-In for MarTech Investments.”  That is: how to get funding, resources and organizational support for your strategic plans. I created a discussion aid (download below) using the theme “Hot” or “Not.” I used this theme to recognize that different strategies and tactics would work for different individuals, organizations and cultures — and because I thought it was a funny, lighthearted way to present the material.

Key Take-Aways

Through two sets of table discussions, several take-aways emerged:

  1. The ideas we discussed were both strategic and tactical. Marketing Technology professionals will likely find some combination of the attached useful, depending on your situation.
  2. While it’s important to satisfy the “mind” of executives, you’ll likely need to also convince their “heart.” Decisions are often not made solely based on facts. You’ll want to gain passionate support for your plans.
  3. The mix of strategies and tactics that will work for you will likely depend on your companies risk tolerance. How likely is the company to try something new and innovative? Our discussions confirmed that how established a company is influences its tolerance for risk.  Startups are eager to distinguish themselves as a new entrant leader whereas established companies are likely to be more concerned about protecting existing revenue streams.
  4. On a related note, some organizational cultures react well to a strategic vision that demonstrates innovation. In these situations positive themes of advancement and market leadership are likely to win out. Other organizations have a more defensive than visionary orientation. In such cases MarTech leaders may need to focus on competitive pressures.  Competitive case studies showing how others in your industry are excelling using similar technologies may be the best strategy. #FOMO

You can download the Hot or Not guide to “How to Gain Organizational Buy-In for MarTech Investments” by clicking on the image below.

Click to download

Click to download

Oct 11

Top Dreamforce 2016 Take-Aways


This was my first Dreamforce conference and while I enjoyed seeing U2 and Flo Rida, I was there to learn more about Pardot and the Salesforce universe.

Top Dreamforce 2016 Take-Aways

How Applying Design Thinking Drives Success

My newest Marketing man-crush, I had the chance to attend two of Cliff Seal’s presentations and I’ve become a fan and disciple.


Cliff Seal introduced me to the concept of “Design Sprints.” Created by Google Ventures, Design Sprints seem like a mash up of the Socratic Method, Agile Development and Rapid Prototyping focused on developing new products. I will be learning more about this tactic, but Chris suggests this process can be used to drive more customer value and Marketing campaign effectiveness.

Artificial Intelligence Applied to Sales and Marketing (Einstein)

A primary challenge with Sales and Marketing systems is the upfront and ongoing effort required to accurately  configure systems to suit your businesses needs. During configuration you’re describing your businesses values and business model to the software package.  You’re turning analog into digital.  It takes an immense about of iterative effort and is difficult to get a software package to understand the circumstances and rules of your particular business.

With the promise of Artificial Intelligence in Salesforce – the SOFTWARE learns about YOU by connecting unseen dots in your data.  Imagine not having to define personas, customer life cycles, prospect grades and scores, automation rules, etc.  If it works as demonstrated, and it may take a few iterations to work perfectly for most customers, Salesforce will use AI to make the right offer to the best prospects at the best time. I’ll start off as a doubting Thomas, a lot goes into understanding a business operation, but if AI works for Google, Facebook and Amazon – I imagine it can work for Salesforce too.

More on Salesforce’s Einstein.


Marc Benioff, Parker Harris and Einstein onstage at Dreamforce 2016

Salesforce Invests in Customer Success

I’ve been working with hardware and software vendors for twenty years. I’ve worked with some of the best including Sun Microsystem and EMC.  Yet I would say…

I’ve never worked with an organization as committed to customer satisfaction as Salesforce.

How Salesforce Commits to Customer Satisfaction

Most of my experience, albeit short-lived, comes from working with Pardot. Here are a few examples demonstrating how Salesforce commits to helping customers succeed.

  1. Dreamforce – Just look at the attention to detail paid to the event. As an attendee I felt like the event was managed with me in mind, which as anyone who has attended an industry event would likely attest, is highly unusual.  Some examples:
    1. The app provides attendees with everything they need to have a productive event including: personalized agendas, and walking directions to your sessions.
    2. Salesforce provided recommended course tracks by segment or industry to help customers and prevent anyone from feeling overwhelmed by the hundreds of available sessions.
    3. At just about any moment you could turn around and ask a Salesforce representative for directions. Sounds simple but remember there were over 170,000 attendees and the event is stretched over much of downtown San Francisco.  It’s very easy to get turned around.
  2. Success Community – the Salesforce community is the best online product community I’ve ever used. When I post a question to the community, it is always answered. Often a Salesforce employee answers but it’s just as likely that others in the Salesforce community, such as users and integrators, will offer suggestions. In my experience, this is uncommon. Sure, perhaps strong lifestyle brands have a loyal and vocal customers, but rarely do I see such a vibrant support community behind a tech brand.
  3. Pardot Customer Advocates – These people are simply the best. Don’t believe me? Check out their support site. The team is there with Open Hours everyday to answer questions and give advice. Here’s my newest example.  I brought a list of questions with me to Dreamforce.  I attended a Pardot live strategy session with the Pardot Customer Advocates and came with solutions to my questions.  I can’t wait to put new practices into operation.
  4. The People – Every person I met, be it an account rep, service manager or support person seemed genuinely interested in how my organization is doing within the Salesforce ecosystem and offered suggestions on how to get the most of out of Salesforce.


Share your top take away from Dreamforce 2016 in the comments below…

Sep 29

Connect with me at Dreamforce #DF16, if…

Connect with me at Dreamforce

Connect with me at Dreamforce

As I finalize my preparations for my inaugural trip to the Salesforce Dreamforce conference, I’m reaching out to the 170,000+ attendees. If you have potential solutions to specific projects I am working on please respond back.

My agenda is already packed but I welcome hearing from solutions providers that can help me solve specific projects I am working on.


  1. Marketing Material in Salesforce – I’m looking for solutions that allow Marketing to create a library of materials for use by Sales within Salesforce.
  2. Advanced Segmentation – I’m interested in tools that go beyond the basic capabilities of Pardot segmentation.
  3. Business Card Capture – I need a tool that will scan a business card, look up a prospect and allow the field team to enter notes on that contact.

If you have solutions for these three projects, by all means, please connect with me on Twitter @iamreff or leave details in the comments. (if you don’t meet the criteria above, don’t contact me!)


Mar 11

How To Amp Up Your Digital Marketing #CoolTools

The recent MFEA Digital Summit drew digital marketers from the asset management industry.  The agenda covered important topics including: Marketing Automation Platforms, Sales Enablement, Content Management Systems, Content Distribution, Data Management and Integration, Customer Experience Management, and Lead to Revenue to name a few.  Attendees got to hear from select partners and, most importantly, each other on how to advance their Marketing program. I was super proud of the work Julia Binder and Victor did in our panel on the Rise of the OmniChannel Advisor.

One of fun things attendees enjoyed was hearing about the “Cool Tools” used by others to solve specific challenges. These aren’t the major platforms used by digital marketers – these are the nifty gizmos that make your job easier.

How To Amp Up Your Digital Marketing


Crystal Knows uses what individuals have shared on the internet (or what others have shared about them) and runs that through a series of personality tests. The result is guidance on how best to communicate with an individual.  For example, if a person favors brevity, you best get to the point, but if they prefer a well reasoned explanation you better bring the facts!  It’s a great prospecting tool and it likely plugs into the tools you already use. To demonstrate I plugged Jeremy Floyd into Crystal Knows. It provides a lot of advice. Here’s what it said about emailing Jeremy: 🙂


Credit: Jeremy Floyd


Studies have shown that the title of online piece is as important as the piece itself. If the title is not compelling, your audience is unlikely to click through.  CoSchedule provides a free headline analyzer that scores your title providing insights on how to get the best results. The site favors “How To” posts which may not work for everyone but it will get you thinking about your audience and what messaging will connect with them.

This post was originally titled “Cool Tools For Digital Marketers,” you can see my Headline Analyzer results below.


Credit: John Refford ← yours truly


As discussed in this tutorial, Jenkins is a free, open source tool to perform continuous integration and build automation. Jenkins is configured to execute a series of steps such as performing a software build → running a shell script → archiving the build result → starting integration tests.

Credit: David Roe


Seismic is a Sales Enablement platform used by a mobile sales force to access content designed and approved by Marketing. It is used to ensure field sales has easy access to latest proposals, presentations, contracts, etc.



Knowing that developing engaging, interactive content is critical to prospecting and top of the funnel activity, digital marketers are turning to tools like Jebbit to create micro-content that engages your target market segments. Jebbit’s solutions cover display, on-site, native, social, search and email.

Credit: John Stone

Share your Cool Tools in the comments…

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