Tag Archives | management

Some thoughts on the first day of 2009

Photo I took of the sun setting where I live on New Years Day 2009.

Photo of sunset on New Years Day 2009. Ojai Valley, California.

As the sun sets on this the first day of 2009 I have had some time to reflect.

Many people look at New Years Day as a time to initiate their resolutions. In years past I have concocted my own list of resolutions only to find that 3 weeks later they were nice ideas and that was about it. Now every year I like to reflect on the year that has passed and take stock of my overall experience, strengths, and weaknesses from the past year. From this reflection I develop some overall areas of focus  in the coming year. This is not a hardcore set of resolutions like “I will lose 15 pounds,” or “I will stop smoking” (although I can add that to my belt—non smoker for 15 years). Rather they are ideas that I will spend mental energy on in hopes of making my life, and the lives of those around me, just a little bit better.

When I look back on my reflections from 2007 I can see just how far I have come during 2008. 2008 was a very good year for me professionally but more importantly I made great strides personally.

Time, time, time what has become of me.

2008 was a very busy year that presented a great many challenges for me. The biggest challenge of 2008 was time management. Using time well and effectively are so important to achieving goals and feeling accomplished. In 2008 this issue came up for me time and time again (pun intended). I continue to refine my approach to managing my time as no one tool or technique is the silver bullet.

Work, work, and work. But not necessarily in that order.

I am fortunate to be self-employed, learning new things, and been able to make a bit of money while doing both. It has been a great experience thus far. However, I basically make my money one way, actively. I do not derive any income from passive resources. An active source is like what I do. Trade your time and expertise for money. A very simple transaction. The passive model involves me building something (think e-book, etc.) that is created once and sold again and again without having to recreate it every time. In 2009 I am working on ideas of generating passive income and have some things in motion already. Lets just say that this year will prove to be a very busy working year to provide fruits of the labor afterward.

The suitcase and the onion.

Personally I have been working on myself quite a bit. We all have our suitcases of issues that we drag along with us through life whether we want to or not. Sometimes we open them up and deal with the issues inside, others may keep them shut and carry their weight with them all their lives. For me it was a year to open all the suitcases and lighten my load. Suffice it to say that I have opened all my suitcases, processed and discarded many heavy items, and I continue to find new items in the cases when discarding others—like the layers of an onion. I peeled much of the onion back in 2008—more than I have than at any other time in my life. I continue the work and discovery of self improvement with a much better toolkit going out of 2008 than when I went into it.

It looks like I will be spending mental energy (and time) on using time more wisely and effectively, working on passive income streams, and peeling back more of the onion. So here is to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

So what has your attention for the next 12 months?

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So much to say, so much to say…

The empty speech bubble.

Yes I have had so much to say these past few months. Really. Seriously.

I have had many good blog topics pop into my head. I have come across many good blog posts this year that have prodded me to respond either by replying after the post, or posting my own retort on this blog—alas, neither happened. There are many things I can point to and say, “that was the issue,” or “that was in my way,” but basically it comes down to one simple concept.

Time.

The management of time, the use of time, the juggling of time, the lack of time. ( I know that last sentence is a fragment but who cares, it’s my blog). It all boils down to time.

In 2008 the one thing that has sucked for me has been the management of my time. I’ve sucked at it for years, but this past year the chronic disease developed pustules that popped and started oozing goo that was stinky and foul to many people around me. OK, enough of the gross visual examples.

In some respects this may be a considered a ‘New Year’s Resolution’ or whatever—who cares. All I know that time management is something for me to tackle in 2009. I need to work on it and maybe, just maybe I might be able to post some more to this blog.

But really, who cares?

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Money. I Love It and I Hate It.

Money

I think everyone loves money. Those who say they don’t do on a very low level and are in denial. I know I love money because it fuels my life–provides food, clothing, etc. It also provides me a way to sustain my livelihood as a business owner. Some people manage it well, others do not. In the end it is a means of providing access-period.

However, I also hate money. I hate managing money. Accounting is not in my genetic makeup. When they were handing out DNA that addressed the issues of money management I must have been off getting an ice cream. I can add and subtract but cannot handle the modeling and forecasting that is a part of daily business life. It feels too much like voodoo (remember voodoo economics?).

Would life, more importantly business life, really be that much more fabulous if I could read an aging schedule? I don’t think so. But perhaps I need to be enlightened. Then again, I am busy and have too many other things to think about.

I wonder how much time a small business person should, on average, devote to the financial side of business? Or, as I like to to call it, an non-billable part of the business.

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Time management for parents

Parent Hands

I am the father of 3 terrific boys (7, 4.5, 16 months). Finding this post in my RSS reader and then reading comments made me think of some things.

  • The first child is a piece of cake after you have…
  • The second child. Definitely raises the bar. Manageable but your dealing with things to the power of 2.
  • By the third child you and your spouse are outnumbered. You go from man-to-man to zone defense.

I look back on having one kid and I think I could handle that blindfolded while juggling 2 chainsaws in my right hand.

Seriously though the combination of spouse, parent, and business owner is a challenging mix. Particularly without any sort of systems in place to help manage, organize and prioritize.

I worked from a home office for the first 2 years of my new business. Then sleep deprivation set in. Too many days of interruption in the office only to have Papa stay up late (2-3am) to catch up on everything only to get up by 7am to get the kiddos off to school, etc.

I now have an office 5 miles from home. Separation of personal and professional is key, at least for me. It has made me be better about managing my time. I’m no where near a zen master in time management, but it is getting better–slowly–but better.

I’ve been using GTD for a couple of years now. I have fallen off the wagon 3 times. Systems crash and you start to use your head for keeping track of everything. One thing for sure is you need to figure out what system works for you, keep tweaking it, and be flexible.

Last bit. Meditation is HUGE.

Take 20-30 minutes a day to get “mind like silence.”

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Advertising Agencies need to wake up

Wake Up.

A blog post on NussbaumonDesign at Business Week hints that corporations may be beginning to get savvy about the future of marketing and PR on the web. Corporations are realizing they are literally wasting money. It is simply a matter of time for them to wake up and realize they are spending millions on a way of doing business that is dying a slow death and not getting very much ROI.

What do I mean?
The tools to communicate directly to customers and clients are right here on the Internet. The rise of easy, accessible web video, social networking, the blogosphere, the allure of viral marketing all provide the ability to communicate to millions of people for a much lower investment. The Internet of today is very much a do-it-yourself environment (or certainly not very much money). Think of how much bang for the buck you could get for all that Super Bowl advertising money.

A previous blog post I read and commented on at WebInkNow discussed how advertising agencies use their web sites as a form of digital ego stroking. The post goes hand in hand with Nussbaum’s above and should be a warning of things to come for agencies that are not swift to change their ways.

Here are my comments to his post:

 

Digital Ego Stroking is rampant among Ad Agencies, Architects, and Designers web sites. I own a design firm that specializes in website design and development. I can attest that a massive majority of these organizations have the logic of their own websites in reverse.

The focus of their websites should be on answering potential clients questions about their firm and what it can do for the client–giving the client substance. Not stroking their firms ego and trying to make their website look “cooler” than others.

People want content, substance, and answers from websites. They do not want animations, music, and other distractions standing in the way of what they want and need–information.

Don’t get me wrong, art and design have their place but it needs to be tempered with client objectives and goals. It is possible to design great looking websites that are information focused.

Just as the disconnect with their own websites is apparent, so too is their understanding of the power of the Internet. Granted not everyone at every agency or firm has their head in a cloud, I am not saying that. There are plenty of talented and smart people at these organizations that understand the Internet and its power. They just don’t seem to be in positions of power to make the necessary internal changes needed to cause a shift in “the way we’ve always done things around here” mentality.

What is the cause?
Perhaps its a generation gap. There is certainly some arbitrary dividing line between those that have technology integrated within their lives, and those that do not. I would say the 30 year old and under crowd is wired solid. They are using the web daily (if not hourly) for news, information, communication, and entertainment. Once you get above 30 the number tapers off unless you are involved in the worlds of technology in some way. Meaning that the older someone is, the more likely they are going to be separate from what is happening within this medium. That means knowing and understanding the power there is within the Internet. The key word in that previous sentence is understanding plain and simple.

Perhaps, are those in the upper levels of advertising agency management are just too old and out of touch?

I’m not sure, just a thought.

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Happy OneWebDay

Today is the second annual celebration of OneWebDay, a celebration of the Internet. Dubbed on their website as ‘the Earth Day for the Internet the mission of the day is simple “to create, maintain, advance and promote a global day to celebrate online life.” People are encouraged to share how the Internet has impacted their lives because they are responsible for its existence and the quality of its being. Sir Tim Berners-Lee (creator of the World Wide Web) created a video blog to commemorate the day as well. He makes a few points of note in this video message. Namely:

How has the Internet impacted my life?
Well its been both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that it has provided me with a path of career change. When I started out of college I only had dreams of graphic design. The World Wide Web just came into existence the summer I graduated from college and would take a few years to begin to collect critical mass. But once I logged onto the web for the first time I knew this medium was for me. So, it has been a blessing by creating a way for me to eek out a living. It has also afforded me and anyone else the ability to do research on any topic for simple knowledge or to help make a decision–for that I love it.
It is also a curse because it is my hobby as well and has been known to literally suck time away from me. I have spent a great deal of time working and playing in the Internet. To put it simply this can, and has, caused time management issues. The good that comes from this experience is reflection on what is important in life. Should I work and surf the Internet right now or spend my time in other ways?

Balance and moderation is key.

Everything counts in large amounts…” – Depeche Mode

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Catching up.

I’ve been busy.

Work has been consuming.

Along with the usual projects and clients, I am also trying to figure out an online project management solution.  My options right now are basecamp, or copper project.
I am leaning towards copper project because some of the timeline features could be very helpful to me in managing the many projects and clients that I presently have.  Part of the issue is that website projects tend to take a bit longer to complete than print work. Print work deadlines tend to be more immediate, and in order to build a website properly simply takes time. In additon to keeping my own sanity in check I would like my clients to have the ability to see where things are with their projects whenever they feel like it.
Other than work busyness I’m beginning to make plans for not one, not two, but three separate vacations this summer. There are many reasons for these trips:

  1. good friends of mine are getting married
  2. my company will turn two years old at the end of June
  3. I need a vacation with my family
  4. I have a reunion to attend

Needless to say, I am a bit apprehensive about planning my upcoming absence.  I do know that I will be communicating to my clients well in advance of each of these trips.  My goal is to not bring any work with me.  This includes a computer.  For me that is a huge challenge. I am looking forward to taking a break mulitple times this summer. I haven’t had a vacation in two years and I can feel it in my bones.

I am really tired. But, that comes with the territory of the self-employed entrepeneur and it is late right now as I type this.

More to come soon. I’m out.

Zzzz…….

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