FlashTags: A Simple Hack For Conveying Context Without Confusion

Written By: Dharmesh Shah March 18, 2019

The following was originally written as a post on the internal HubSpot wiki a couple of years ago. At the request of several fellow entrepreneurs (hi, Wade from Zapier!) I've mentioned this to, I'm sharing it publicly for the first time. Hope you find it useful. -Dharmesh

For easy reference, you can access this page using FlashTags.org (it redirects here).

From HubSpot Wiki, July 19, 2017

One of the things I struggle with is clearly conveying to someone how strongly I feel about something. This is sometimes referred to as "Hill Dying Status" (i.e. do I feel so strongly about this that it's a hill I'm willing to die on).  By the way, not sure who originally used that phrase but I think it was Brian Halligan or maybe JD Sherman. Doesn't matter.

Situations like the following happen for me multiple times a day (chances are, they happen to you too):

  1. I come across an interesting article or video (sometimes about a competitor) and send it along to someone at HubSpot.  Without context, they might think that I'm saying we should be doing that or adding that feature or somehow reacting to that news.  But, most of the time, it's just something that I thought was "interesting".
  2. Someone asks me a question or opinion on something. Turns out, I have opinions on everything. Sometimes, those opinions are even well informed.  So, I share my opinion.  Might be a hallway conversation or an email or whatever.  Now, based on my history with that person, they may think: "Well, Dharmesh thinks I should do X so I'm going to do that, even though I was going to do Y."  This is a problem because I almost always have much less information/data than the person asking the question – and I haven't really dug into the issue like they have. They're overvaluing my opinion.
  3. Every now and then I feel super strongly about something. (Often, these are "Solve For The Customer" -- SFTC -- related).  I "express" my feelings in a response to a long email thread.  It gets buried in there, and then "dies".  Nobody does anything. Not even a response. That makes me sad – but it's my fault. The person I had expected to at least respond had no idea that I felt strongly or wanted a response.

So, I now share with you my not-so-secret hack to quickly communicate important context (either in a conversation or in an email thread). I've been using this for a while, and thought you mind find it useful as well.

How To Use A #FlashTag To Quickly Communicate Hill Dying Status

It's even easier than Sunday morning (which I've always found to be a poor benchmark):  All you have to do is include one of the flashtags below in an email, Slack or even in a conversation. That's it.

The tags are in ascending order of escalation (starting with the “I don’t feel strongly at all” to the “I really, really feel strongly").

#fyi -- Had this thought/idea/article/video/whatever pass through my brain.  I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it. You can read it or not. Act on it or not. No response needed or expected.

Hill Dying Status (am I willing to die on this hill): I don't even see a hill.

#suggestion -- Here's something I would do if I were you. But, I'm not you -- and you own this, so your call.  Just consider it and weigh it against other things you're considering. I won't be offended if you go another way. A quick reaction/response would be appreciated (so I can learn what kinds of suggestions are useful/valuable), but is not necessary.

Hill Dying Status: I saw the hill, but didn't feel strongly enough to commit the calories to climb it.

#recommendation (or #strongrecommendation)-- I've thought about this a lot. It's kept me up at night. I dug in. I think I understand the tradeoffs.  You can choose not to take the recommendation, and go your own way, but please do it for good reasons.  Please dig in a bit yourself and have a well-reasoned rationale for why you don’t want to take the recommendation. Please don’t ignore or dismiss it out of hand. A response (either way) is politely requested. If it's a #strongrecommendation then a response explaining why you're not taking it is probably a good idea.

Hill Dying Status: I climbed the hill.  I breathed deeply I contemplated my life. I walked back down.

#plea -- We don't like issuing edicts or directives at HubSpot. But...please, please, please just do this. Trust works both ways, and I need you to trust me on this.  If you still feel compelled to resist, something’s not right, let's chat. Maybe even in (gasp!) person.

Hill Dying Status: Dying on a hill is not on my bucket list, but if it were this would be a really good candidate.
That's it.  With just a few extra characters in that email or Slack, you can quickly convey how strongly you feel about something. Use it if you find it useful. It's just a #suggestion.


p.s. Why did I call it a #FlashTag? Because it's about communicating something in a flash (and flash rhymes with hash). And yes, I asked GrowthBot for "words that rhyme with hash".  

Oh, and in case you need to find this article again or tell somebody about it, just use FlashTags.org (it redirects to this page).

Screen Shot 2019-03-18 at 6.50.45 AM



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