Every year, when the date in the corner of my screen turns to October, I still get the chills thinking of it. No amount of pumpkin spice latte can warm my bones; no cozy fire can break the cold grip it still has on my very soul.

But here I am, telling my story, hoping someone can avoid the Curse.

It was a Monday, and was to be a momentous day for at least one person at our firm – our new CEO, whose email announcement would go out to our entire database in a news release later that morning. Not trusting this task to anyone else, it fell on my shoulders, as leader of our nascent marketing operations group.

The first email I saw that morning was from our Northeast Regional Sales manager, Dan. Timestamp: 2:24 a.m. He’d been at a tradeshow Friday and apparently in addition to free pens, he also got insomnia.

From: dmian@company.com
To: me@company.com
Subject: URGENT IMPORT NEEDED

Hey – got all these leads from the Widgets and Witches show on Friday in Salem. Can you upload them AS damn P in the morning so we can send out a follow up? These are hot leads man and I need to make quota.

Despite it being Monday, despite the fact I’d not had a drop of coffee yet, I opened the file. What I beheld cannot be described to any mortal without instilling fear and loathing into even the purest of hearts.

It was a data horror show.

Dan had obviously been under the influence of some kind of drug when he gathered these leads. There was a “Fullname” column. The first 10 emails were either “info@” or “sales@.” Job titles were a mix of all caps or no caps. There seemed to be a nonsensical amalgamation of random data across columns – leads from Atlanta had Connecticut as the state. New York’s famous zip code appeared in the same row as a lead from Wichita. It then hit me like Frankenstein’s bolt of lightning: HE HAD SORTED THE COLUMNS INCORRECTLY!!

I immediately popped my head over my cubicle and yelled in Dan’s general direction, “Good GOD man, what did you do??!?!!”

That part, thankfully, was in my head.

I was told this later by marketing colleagues who’d gathered nearby, drawn by the incessant tap-tap-tapping of my pen against the desktop.

Coincidentally – or not – it was then that Jim made his presence known by Slacking me good morning. Given the state of our industry, Jim, the latest member to join my team, was green. Proverbial wet behind the ears. Listed Mailchimp as a skill on his resume. I had no choice but to groom him and teach him the Ways of the (Marketing Operations) Force.

Hey dude – saw that email from Dan. No worries – I took care of it. Happy Monday!

I glanced again at the email. DAN HAD CC’D JIM. My fingers took to the keyboard with the fury of a thousand scorned ghosts:

What do you mean you took care of it???

His reply seemed to take hours to travel the tubes.

Dan came to me this morning. He said he’d screwed up the sorting, and also told me that he was worried we already had some of the people in Salesforce. So, I just downloaded our global database, did some Excel magic to match everyone, and BAM – we’re all set! .

Bing again:

Even ticked the “global” box

Global box? What global box?

Bing: Another Slack. From the VP of Marketing. The urgency of her words seeming to pierce my monitor. Was the news release ready to go, she inquired? I replied confidently:

You bet – I scheduled it before I left on Friday. Sending at 11:30am.

“Scheduled it”…I remember this vaguely from Friday. Deep in the mid-afternoon torpor of a post-bar-b-que lunch, I decided help my future Monday self and take care of the email for him.

Excellent – thanks. Had a bad weekend! Just want this to go right.

A curious tone and surprising emotional confession from a superior? Maybe this will line me up for a promotion…

My daydream ending, I decided I’d check the news release email before explaining the finer points of data integrity to Jim.

Under Lists, I couldn’t believe what my optic nerve was relying to my brain:

Company News (0)

Zero? Zero? How can it be zero? My heart racing, thumping, pounding from my chest I darted out of my cubicle and over to Jim’s.

“Tell me about the global box?? What global box did you tick?” I screamed, grabbing him by the V-neck of his office casual golf shirt.

“The box to update stuff globally when you’re importing prospects!” he said. “The one in Pardot!!”

“The one under ‘select action’??!?!” I yelled.

“Uh, I think so,” he said, looking to the ground, searching his brain.

“That was the global opt-out option! YOU’VE OPTED OUT OUR ENTIRE DATABASE!!! OUR ENTIRE DATABASE!!!” I sunk dramatically to the floor, out of breath, a pressure on my chest I was unfamiliar with. IT WAS THE CURSE.

When I awoke, it was well-past 11:30am. The news release that should’ve gone out, did not. In the end, a call to support was made. The data, restored. The email went out the next day. Jim was made to take a remedial course in Excel and was never allowed to import leads again.

BUT IT WAS SCARY. For a hot minute.

And each year on that day, no one is allowed to import anything into Pardot on that day, lest the Curse of The Unruly Import strike again!