Tag Archives | brain

Three Thesis Sites in One Week


It has been a busy publishing week for me. I have had 3 websites go “live” this week that are based on WordPress and Thesis. Two of these website involved comprehensive design and the other involved functionality customizations. The point of this post is to share some recent work to show that all Thesis sites do not look totally the same. The best part is that I learned many new things about WordPress and Thesis in the process—some of which I will share soon.

Coming up next after this post will be a serious undertaking that I will chronicle on this website—the redesign of berchman.com on WordPress and Thesis. I will post the whole process from start to finish as a complete “under-the-hood” look at how it all gets done. So stay tuned. The posts on the redesign of berchman.com will start next week. Continue Reading →

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Paying the price. One way or another.


Today I was reflecting upon a common occurrence among people that I talk to with regard to their website(s).

The people I talk to either want a new website or they have one and want to update/add/delete a design or function of the site. These conversations either happen through email or in person and become a dialogue of  back-and-forth brain picking. They ask how they can do “X, Y, and Z” and I then ask questions relating to strategy, objectives, and outcomes. These are great conversations, and I love having them to figure out what it is people are doing, and how I can help them out. Continue Reading →

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Being around lots of brainpower.AKA “The Force”


This past weekend I had the fortunate experience of travelling to the San Francisco Bay Area. I was helping my wife drive her Equestrian team to a horse show at Stanford University. We left Ojai on a Friday afternoon and returned late Sunday night. So overall we had 12 hours of driving in 3 days time.

We brought our kids with us and since my wife was busy coaching her team, I was the ‘decider.’ I got to decide what the 3 boys and I did on our weekend. I smartly consulted with friends who we were able to spend some time with during our visit. We asked them if they knew of any kid activites in the area since we don’t really know the lay-of-the-land. From what offerings were available I decided to take the kids to the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose and to The Tech and what a Saturday it was-busy, busy, busy.

The one thing I noticed while in the bay area was being around brainpower. It’s no secret that there is an abundance of brainpower in that part of the country. It is arguably the tech “mecca” of the world. It could be the largest concentration of technology companies on the planet. I haven’t done the research and would be curious if anyone knows the hard fact and could point me to it. The fact that I am tucked away in the end of a wonderfully beautiful valley far from the trappings of the concrete jungle does contribute to my isolation from like minded people. It was interesting being around so many technologists. I couldn’t tell you if one person or another worked in the technology industry, but I am a betting man. I bet that I could have shot a spitball into the crowd and hit someone who does work in the industry.

It was like living a scene out of Star Wars. I was in the strong presence of The Force. I could sense it. I could feel it and knowing that was cool.

ps. I know now that I am truly a nerd.

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Working in a Vacuum


I experienced the contrast of working in a vacuum and working in a group and saw that contrast very clearly. Yesterday I was brainstorming my projects and tasks related to using the GTD system and methodology.

When working alone it was easy to crank out this lists of things I would like to do. However, there was a project I was hung up on. The project had to do with a marketing plan I am trying to implement. I was stuck thinking about what is the next step? In the exercise we were doing in a group our observer (there was an observer, questioner, and main guy) asked if I had shown the plan to anyone else—marketing pro or not—I hadn’t and now I will.

So it was made clear to me that bringing in an outside perspective on things is always valuable. Being a solo entrepreneur and finding the opportunities to share and show ideas for review and reflection is sometimes a tough task.

How does a small business person who is solo find a good outlet for professional collaborative, review, and brainstorming. You could join a chamber of commerce, local rotary, Score, or look for other ways.

If you are a solo entrepreneur I would love to know how you deal?

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Small Business (Non) Spender

Coin Jar

Interesting post today on Dawud Miracle’s blog titled “Why you need to invest in your business.”

For those people running a truly small business (less than $150,000 in gross receipts annually) spending money on non-tangible items can be a tricky game. Your marketing and promotion budget looks like the jar above.

What I mean is spending money on new file cabinets, or a new desk for a business owner at this level provides a physical object–something to put your hands on. Whereas investing in a marketing plan, or paying someone to brainstorm on developing your brand is not a definable physical object that you can point to and say “that is what I paid for.” This is a tough proposition for a truly small business owner to entertain.

I think it is hard for business owners at this level to see beyond the quarter or next quarter. Business at this level is happening on a day-to-day basis. Business owners keep their view on the short distance game. Being able to “let go” and see the big picture can be a challenge.

I would suggest that a small business owner take time to define their goals with their business.

  • What do you want from it? Money? Independence?
  • Envision wild success. What does that look like?

The idea is to define what you want and from there devise a plan to make it happen. Breaking things down into smaller and smaller tasks is key to moving ahead and there are hundreds of blog posts about the topic of getting things done.

I think that many times small business owners look out and think they can’t get to the “pie-in-the-sky” goals and then just give up on it. Thinking you have to spend $10,000 to achieve your goals may actually be reality but that does not mean it has to be all at once. Do what you can with the resources you have now. Build a foundation that can support future endeavors and even handle a change of direction if need be. The key is to, as Walt Disney said, “Keep moving forward.

I know, being a small business owner, that I too can be a (non) spender. If you are a small business owner, do you spend on the non-tangibles? (marketing, promotion, etc?)

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Enjoy, Learn, Profit

Happy People.

Three things shared with me from friend Steve Barlament the other night at dinner. We were discussing my upcoming marketing campaign for my business and the fact that it will be my first ‘true’ marketing campaign. Everything to date has all been word-of-mouth which has been fine, but the level of success I would like with my business will not be achieved through word-of-mouth. The services of my business and skills I possess are not going to become the next viral wave to hit the Internet. It would be cool if that were the case, but it ain’t going to happen.

When I told Steve about the idea I am proposing for my marketing he said that there are three things that are key to any business endeavor. You need not have all three of these (which is ideal) but we agreed that if you can get 2 of 3 it is a valuable experience.

  1. ENJOY
    You should enjoy what you are doing, right? Otherwise you are toiling away valuable hours of your life on something that sucks–plain and simple. I did say above that having 2 of three of these components is important, but if this one is missing the other two had better be HUGE in scale to make up for this important component.
  2. LEARN
    It is always good to learn something new. Sometimes learning is an intentional experience, other times it shows up on your doorstep gift wrapped or not. In any event learning from what you do is key to advancing your mind, your cause, your life, and the evolution of humans.
    “It’s all about the Hamilton’s baby!” When it comes right down to it, when in business it is about being in the black and making cash money. While we would hope that every hair-brained idea we think of would create profit it just doesn’t happen that way. It is a game of hit and miss.

So, if you can manage to get 2 out of 3 of these with any business initiative you should consider it a success. The level of each component is, of course, open to interpretation. However, when looking back up at the list right now I would love to Enjoy and Profit all the time but we all know that is not going to be the case. One thing is true, if you do nothing at all, you will not have a chance at any of this.

What do you think?

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Over-thinking to Non-thinking


I was thinking about the post from yesterday (talk about irony). It would be interesting if we could somehow measure the speed at which we think—a speedometer to thought. Perhaps this exists in the world of neuroscience and I’ll admit I’m too tired from thinking to go and do the research on this. This speedometer would tell you how fast your brain is working on its thoughts. Better yet perhaps what is needed is an RPM (Rounds Per Minute) gauge. That would actually be a better tool because it measures motion, how fast the gears are turning inside the engine, but not necessarily movement, how fast the engine is propelling the machine over distance.

Yes, the RPM gauge is perfect because many times when burdened by over-thinking the gears are turning at a high rate but not producing any results (distance covered or decisions made). I feel that sometimes my RPM gauge would be off in the ‘red zone’ somewhere for many hours of the day.

There is the flip side to this idea of over-thinking and that is non-thinking. I’m not talking about setting out into the world without a care or thought in the world. I’m referring to the process of meditation. The process of quieting the mind. I have begun meditating at least once a day a few weeks ago and it is a very interesting experience. The task of trying to “quiet the mind” is difficult but from what experienced practitioners tell me gets much easier and better with time and practice. I must admit that over the past couple of weeks I have let the practice slip just a bit.

I presently find myself getting the mind quiet for a moment and then start to think about something. The mind latches on and starts to think it over and then… “thought.” I say the word “thought” and then return to focus on the breath. At first this is very frustrating because my conscious mind continually wants to work on something. It has been conditioned that way and I am trying to unlearn old habits. I am trying to achieve a place of non-thinking in the moment. A place of relaxation that is free of high RPM thinking. I know this is possible but is it possible within me? I also wonder how many people have issues with over-thinking?

Just as with any endeavor practice and persistence are important to succeed.

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Its all about the Focus

I recently attended a 2-day GTD seminar.  I must say that it is very different to have the GTD system presented to you versus what you get out of the book. Don’t get me wrong, you can read the book and “get it.” However, having someone there to answer your questions about the system (David Allen himself) was great.

I got 4 large things out of attending:

  1. New confidence in using the system
  2. An understanding of how detailed to get with tasks and be observant
  3. The power of focus
  4. The natural planning model

The new confidence in the system is a product of attending. The presenter, Maurice, was infectious with his love of using the GTD system and the power it provides you in managing your life. The man has 5 children and having 3 of my own I know what he is talking about when it comes to managing your life and time.

One issue I have had with using GTD has to do with levels of detail. I never knew how far I needed to drill down to with any given project or task. I took a moment at one of the breaks to ask Maurice this question, “How do I know when I’ve drilled down to enough detail?”

He responded by telling me to look at what level does the complexity not serve me. Already this is helping.

Focus is HUGE. It’s not a matter of whether you focus, but on what you are focused. We are unconciously made concious of information. We notice what’s relevant and we tend to focus on what we identify with.

Finally the natural planning model was also a great tool to be introduced to.

  • Clarify purpose and guiding principles
  • Define mission, vision and desired outcomes
  • Brainstorm
  • Organize
  • Decide next actions

It was interesting to work the model on a project the first time and have it take 17 minutes, and then a second time and take less than 10. With more practice I would like to get it close to 5 if possible.

Now back to getting things done.

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My Business, Version 1.5

This past week of work, the first week of February, was an interesting one for me in terms of my career and my business.

Last week was a transition period and if felt like it all week. January was a very busy month for my business with the first two weeks filled with many meetings about new projects while at the same time working on many of my current design projects already underway. At times it felt as if everything was up in the air and I had no control over anything. I guess this feeling of “losing control” is not uncommon. I read recently that the sense of control one feels as a business owner, or just a plain human being, is really nothing more than an illusion anyway. Who really has control over everything at every moment? I mean isn’t reality nothing more than your perception of the present? OK, I digress…

Anyhow, the beginning of last week had me scrambling to finish tasks on projects that I had worked on over the weekend, catch up on other projects that had been put on the back burner because of meetings in the first couple of weeks in January, and start to develop proposals for the new work that I had the meetings about the weeks before. Whew!

I did manage to make it through the week because I was looking forward to Friday. Friday, February 2nd, was my first official meeting with my new VA (Virtual Assistant). Now I can tell that I was very excited for this phone call because it was an actual “line-in-the-sand” if you will with regard to a transition for me and my business. I was now going to have someone other than me involved in the “day-to-day” activities of the business. Furthermore this person is invested to help my business succeed. As one of my business mantras in “your success in our success” so it is with my VA. This is cool for a number of reasons.

First, what I already said above. Second, once we iron out workflows, etc. this relationship will help me be more productive by allowing me to focus on what I do best, help my clients. Third, I should get to have a bit more sanity in my life by not having to do absolutely everything for my business. Fourth, I can’t think of a fourth at the moment but I know it exists along with a fifth, sixth, seventh, etc.

The most intriguing part of starting this phase of the business comes down to one thing for me, delegation. I must admit that during our one-hour phone call I felt completely disorganized (although I asked and was told that I was actually pretty well organized). Before we had our meeting I filled out and sent a few pages of questions relating to what things I need help with in terms of tasks. However, when I was on the call my brain was like a giant void.

The question was asked, “What can I help you with right now?”

A long pause–my brain scrambling for a task. I honestly could not put my finger on a task. How stupid I felt. Lucky for me we had already stumbled across a significant task, helping with data entry to get my companies new project tracking system online (btw, if you have not seen or heard of activeCollab, I highly recommend it!)

So, for now I will close this entry here. I could probably ramble on for longer but this is enough for now. I’m sure to have more to say soon.

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Wishes, wishes everwhere…

There are wishes flying everywhere this time of year. Tis the season… Continue Reading →

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