If you are feeling helpless, help someone

I am currently traveling from Austin, TX to New York City for Stupid Cancer’s 2019 annual fundraiser, Toast. Hello from 35,000 feet.


At the age of 15, I worked as a Pharmacy Technician for the local mom and pop, Islip Pharmacy. A job at CVS followed, then our community hospital. I loved it, however, I knew I wasn’t going to be a Pharmacist when I got a 62 in high school chemistry. Even my failing grade had a bit of creative curving upward. It was obvious that my pharmacy career would have a ceiling and an eventual stopping point. Luckily, I was pretty good on the computer, and tech became my primary focus.

In the fall of 2009, I had a chance encounter with a guest speaker, Cyndy, in my undergrad Grant Writing class. I was in my 5th year, without clear direction on what I was going to do the following May when I graduated. Cyndy spoke of an organization called the “I’m Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation” aka “i[2]y.” Having been directly impacted by my father’s diagnosis in 2005, I was intrigued. I got in trouble for looking at the website during her talk. I was emailing the CEO about an internship.

Around the same time, I applied for a Community Coordinator position for the hospital system where I was working in the pharmacy. It was a marketing job to make the hospital seem more cheerful than it actually was. Despite it being a very junior position and my pending Bachelors in Communications, I did not get the job.

On January 23rd, 2010, I started my internship at i[2]y with founder Matthew Zachary. I was able to use my paid time off at the hospital to work most Fridays at the i[2]y office in lower Manhattan. It was exciting leading my double life as a pharmacy tech and putting a foot in the door at a nonprofit startup. Around April 15th, two weeks before Matthew's twins were due, I received a full-time job offer. I quickly accepted.

I would characterize 2010-2011 as building years for the organization. We knew what we wanted to do. We had a plan to get traction. We just needed everything to click.

In mid-2011, we decided to change the name of the organization from I’m Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation (2007-2011) to Stupid Cancer (2011-Present). Upon doing so, we immediately saw an uptick in Facebook page growth. We also deployed a creative ad that got us hundreds of thousands of Facebook likes. (Read more about that here.)

All of this intent we were putting out into the universe was amplified by us taking our patient conference, the OMG! Cancer Summit for Young Adults, to Las Vegas. We solidified a partnership with Volkswagen and me and John Sabia piled into the tiny coupe and drove west to the coast and circled back to Las Vegas. We would do this a total of five times after for a total of 5 road trips, 35,000 ground miles, and a lot of cancer center tours. (Thank you to GM/Chevy and Michael Savoni for believing in us.)

With limited warning, the Stupid Cancer train was rolling and we did not stop for anyone in our pursuit to deliver our mission of empowering young adults affected by cancer.

Between 2013 and my departure in mid-2016, I enjoyed a lot of personal growth in building out unrealized areas of the organization. I grew the Stupid Cancer Store from a sub $5,000/year revenue stream to over $150K in revenue. Not only were we making money, but our apparel was getting out there. Even on TV. (Thanks, Italia!)

MZ and I also sat through hours of choppy WebEx meetings with our offshore development company and created Instapeer, a mobile app for survivors and caregivers to connect and chat about their experience with cancer. It was the first of its kind.

When I think back to just how different life was from 2010 up to my departure in 2016, there are so many watershed moments for the organization. It was an incredible ride to be on.

Tonight, I am receiving the “Stupid Cancer Recognition Award” from the current Board of Directors and staff. It’s an honor that I could not have imagined receiving when I started out in the non-profit world 10 years ago.

When I think back to my motivation for inquiring about the internship, the feeling of being a helpless caregiver prevails most. Watching dad go through surgeries and chemo. We were bound to the process. Helpless.

If you are feeling helpless, help someone.
– Aung San Suu Kyi

I love this quote.

My Supercharged Email Management Strategy

If you have one email account, stop reading now…and enjoy your life.

Managing multiple email inboxes has become all too real in 2019. Personal email, school email, work email, your project, your other project. For years, the Gmail app was my go-to. Flipping between inboxes seemed like the best there ever could be. The thought of a native app with multiple logged-in email accounts plus efficiency?

No way.

2015 said “yes way,” in a big way, when Spark hit the app store and the next iteration of email management was finally here for both mobile and desktop. At long last, something intuitive, that wasn’t the Apple Mail app. (Disclaimer: I’ve never used it. It gives me anxiety.)

Spark makes it easy to get started, with a great onboarding experience to add your email accounts. Once complete, you’ll notice the emails you just saw in your other mail app roll in. This is when panic will set in and you realize you should have never signed up for that daily horoscope newsletter 10 years ago.

Fear not, I am about to break down Spark into a few easy actionable steps to get going and make sense of the private email hell you’ve created for yourself.

Start by focusing on the core features

1) Signatures

2) Smart vs Classic inbox

3) Looking at all your emails vs sorting by inbox

4) Short and long swipes on mobile

5) Snoozing emails

1) Signatures

Every good email author needs a really cool signature, right? Right. Once you’ve added all your accounts, go in and create the variations of your signature.

Here is what that experience looks like:

To reiterate, you can create multiple signatures for multiple accounts. When replying, Spark knows which signature to add to the bottom of which email. It enables you to roll through emails like a champ without having to mess with how you sign the email.

2) Smart vs Classic inbox

Sometimes when you are presented with more than one option in life, it can make it hard to settle on just one, right? Recently, this was a usability issue in Spark with Smart vs Classic inbox. It was less than stellar to flip between the two, then they introduced a really nice on/off toggle.

Smart inbox off – Showing all emails

Smart inbox on – Showing emails that have been seen at the top. Would normally be broken into important, notifications (aka promotions), and then seen. At the time of writing this, I don’t have any new emails.

This is a super helpful mobile experience for when you’ve just woken up, come out of a long meeting, or any other time you haven’t looked at your email and are looking to cut through the fat.

3) Looking at all your emails vs sorting by inbox

Before you get overwhelmed thinking you’ll be bombarded by all your emails at once, you can look at them both in their entirety (all of your emails, from all accounts) or by individual accounts. This is accomplished by using the menu on the left side. It’s a helpful mechanism to focus on whichever headspace you’re in.

4) Short and long swipes on mobile

On mobile, I can dominate my email with short and long left and right swipes. Here is how I have them set.

5) Snoozing emails

This is my favorite part of Spark and my motivation to share this information with you. Snoozing emails has become the key to my success as an adult who sends emails.

Whether you’re on mobile or desktop, snoozing could not be more simple. When I am at my computer, I use my ⌘+D shortcut, which instantly pulls up a similar pop up to the one below.

When snoozing emails on my phone, I am presented with the question of when I want to see the email again.

Snoozing is perfect for situations where the ball is in someone else’s court and it requires a follow up to see if the action happened and what the outcome was.

Scenario A: If I send a request out and can wait until the next day to hear back, I immediately snooze the email for tomorrow morning.

Scenario B: If I get an email that is important but not more important than what I’m doing in a given moment, I will likely snooze it for a few hours or until 6 pm when I have completed my most important tasks, emails have slowed down, and I can think about something with a clear head.

Scenario C: If I get an email that I need to follow up on, but it’s not pressing, I will snooze it until the weekend.

Scenario D: Snoozing is also great for things that aren’t relevant for days or weeks. Those emails that start out so well-intended by saying “Just putting this on your radar…”

Sorry, radar is full.

Here is how my day unfolds

7 am – Smart inbox toggle on, swiping to quickly archive junk mail.

9:30 am – Emails prioritized by immediate action, snoozing for 2 hours later, the evening, the next day, Saturday, or next Monday. Occasionally, I set a date/time for emails to reappear in the distant future. (Helpful for those “let’s touch base in a month” emails.)

10 am – Prior day snoozed emails roll in.

Mid-day – Less important morning emails reappear and are dealt with.

6 pm – Lowest priority emails roll in.

Evening – Inbox zero!

That’s it. That is my email secret sauce which keeps me rolling fast through newsletters, promotions, and solicitations right on to the real emails.


Ready to get started with Spark and become the master of your own email destiny?

Download Spark

Clown's Prayer

via Chris Farley

I was watching I am Chris Farley (2015) the other night. I learned a lot about Chris, his family, and his quick rise to fame and subsequent death.

What stood out to me is something I’ve always felt, but could likely never articulate as well as his Clown’s Prayer.

As I stumble through this life,
help me to create more laughter than tears,
dispense more happiness than gloom,
spread more cheer than despair.

Never let me become so indifferent,
that I will fail to see the wonders in the eyes of a child,
or the twinkle in the eyes of the aged.

Never let me forget that my total effort is to cheer people,
make them happy, and forget momentarily,
all the unpleasantness in their lives.

And in my final moment,
may I hear You whisper:
"When you made My people smile,
you made Me smile."

A self-challenge for 2020

You can do it, Kenny.

Hello |*FNAME*|,

Just kidding. I don’t know your name. Neither does this thing.

I stumbled upon substack.com and was intrigued by the fact that it’s got a built-in mailing list feature. (hint hint)

From 2013-2015, I wrote a lot. I wrote something like 45 articles about nonprofits, eCommerce, and tech. I was paid $150-$400 a post and I loved it. I’ve written for Forbes, BigCommerce, Practical eCommerce, my own blog, and a random guest post here and there. You can find most of them here: https://www.kennykane.co/articles

I wrote for attention. I wrote to get noticed. I did get noticed. I got a job offer. I moved to Texas. Here I am.

In my 3.5 year hiatus from active writing, I’ve been busy. I continue to be busy, but one burning desire has remained…to write.

When I was 28, I wrote to put food on the table, living in Brooklyn well above my means. The $150 check for a blog post was a night out with my then-fiancé, Lauren.

At almost *gulp* 33, I’m writing for fun. I don’t need a job offer. (Go away LinkedIn recruiters)

You are more than welcome to join me. This website makes it really easy with the subscription thing. I think I can even charge you if I want. (I won’t do that)

I can’t promise how often I will write, but I encourage you to keep me accountable by tweeting at me or something.

Talking tech, nonprofits, coworking, and pop culture.

Welcome to Kenny Kane’s Newsletter.

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