— me, duh
I’ve always wanted to start a toaster company. We’d make toasters that cook toast (and bagels, too!) and they’d be the best on the market. Pretty much every other company making toasters would copy us as best as possible within the limitations of the U.S. Patent system. Just imagine making money hand over fist selling $20 toasters. Hell, we could make like Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn and go crashing weddings, selling our super-toasters.
You: Why toasters, Dave? That seems to be a pretty weird market to want to get in to. Me: Because I don’t know anything about toasters.
That’s right: I want to start a toaster company because I don’t have the slightest clue about the toaster market.
But let’s look at this idea with my glasses on. The toaster market’s only innovation in my lifetime is making the slot larger so that bagels can go in there too. There’s got to be something I can do that pushes the market a little harder. The idea ends up being to take my knowledge and experiences from one unrelated industry and putting it together with another that hasn’t had much real change in quite a while. Add in there that toasters are in every single home in America and they aren’t really durable goods (like a fridge or dryer). It could even be considered a seasonal product during the spring and summer wedding seasons. Looks like there could be a few new angles to approach on the marketing side too…
There’s obviously great value in using people that already have specific domain knowledge for your industry. The process of getting up to speed on the toaster market would take time and energy. Learning who the players are in the electric coil supply industry take time and energy. When starting a business, it’s much easier to hire those specialized people and get to market faster. Plus, I don’t want someone coming in to my office that used to assemble toasters telling me that my web services I spent week developing and testing sucks because it’s old fashioned and can’t cook bagels.
You: Let’s crash some weddings! Yeehaw!
The toaster company is just an analogy and I’m not planning on going that route in business, so don’t get too excited about crashing the weddings and writing it off as ‘business expenses’. It’s more of an idea of finding new, (seemingly) unrelated knowledge sources and applying them to what you’re doing day in, day out.
Having an open mind and actively seeking for innovation are critical to long term success in any industry. Applying principles and ideas from outside sources is a great way to refresh your mind and vigor when ideas are stale.
One of the things in life I want to be is The Man. We’ve covered that in a previous post, if you’ve been paying attention. But being The Man comes with some serious implications. For one, you’ve got everyone else paying attention to your every move because they’re jealous. There could be many reasons for their jealousy, but the main one is probably jealousy because you’re better than they are at everything they wish they could do with their lives. Ok…so I say that with a little smile, but its true on some level.
The choice you reach when becoming The Man is to be the Example or the Exception.
The Example version is the guy who shows up to work early, extends himself out to peers (maybe too much sometimes), and leaves late. He got to where he is by working hard and not skipping a beat. He’s busy focusing on the hard problems to help make everyone’s job easier. You can’t help but be envious of how much this guy fits in to a day.
The Exception is the guy who shows up to work…..unless its going to get in the way of his Yoga class. Or unless its Friday. Or unless Hopjack’s ends up with some really killer special for one day only. He got to where he is by working smart and not letting anyone get the best of him. He’s busy focusing on finding the best person to solve the hard problems to make work happen quickly and efficiently. You can’t help but be envious of how much amazingly awesome stuff this guy gets to do (because he’s not at work since he picked the right guy to get the job finished ahead of schedule).
Which The Man is better? Both have their upsides and downsides. Is there a compromise between them? If you had to pick one as your boss, which would you rather have? If you had to pick which one you’ll become, which would you rather be?
I can’t help but keep that damn The Who song playing in my head now. Thanks, Dave.
How important is the word ‘no’? Could it possibly be the most influential word ever conceived?
It means the same thing in different languages. Hell, I can say it in English and I’d bet good money that no matter what language you speak, you’d know exactly what I said. Now, what I’m saying no to would be a different thing…unless you just touched my bacon. You’d know that you should never touch my bacon again regardless of the words that came out of my mouth.
The ‘no’ I’m talking about is the one that keeps you from over-extending yourself. There’s only so much one person can do and only so many hours in which to do those things. Growing up, I figured that it was nice to help out, to say yes to helping. Nice people get far, so I should say yes. Yes, yes, yes. All that made me was someone who’s time wasn’t ever valued. I was asked to help out or do something because they knew that I would do it. It was like I didn’t even have a choice in the decision. My time was for them and all they had to do was ask.
Now, that’s all good and well, but I found a better way to handle those situations: only say ‘yes’ when I really want to do it AND its something that they couldn’t do themselves. I feel as if it has given me a little more time to do things that I want to do (like having time to write). It has helped those that “needed my help” a chance to learn something on their own and find a new skill. Then, when they get done learning and I get done doing with what I actually wanted to do with my day, it’s time for a beer and more learning and good discussion.
Think about how many things you could say no to a year and the time you gain by doing so.
If you could say no to three things a year, do you think it’d be better in the long run for your stability? Would it allow you the time to pursue on more goal that’s in the back of your head?
So….about that whole ‘writing every day’ thing….
I know I have a huge viewing audience of 20 (when I force my friends to look at this), but I let down on a few of the things I wanted to do at the time I wrote my last few posts.
I wanted to be ‘the man’. Guess what? I’m working on it still. I don’t think it’s something that just happens one day and that’s a good thing. I feel like the past six months back as an FTE have been pretty solid. We’ve taken leaps and bounds in getting our clients taken care of and I’d like to think that I help to push that along. I’ve done some pretty cool projects with the big car companies and done them on time. We’re pushing towards releasing a new version of one of our main products; hopefully releasing some time in February. Still haven’t really gotten the down time to push new processes, but that’s on its way. I’ve done some prelim leg work around getting better source control. Unfortunately, for anyone who works in FoxPro, you probably know it’s going to be a tough battle. The options just aren’t there for the VFP folks (unless you like SourceSafe). I’ll be sure to update everyone on how it’s going.
As for finishing more stuff: it’s a work-in-progress. I’ve got a few projects on the burners (as always) but these MUST come to fruition. I have no other option but to make more money. But, this is almost by design on my part. I’ve moved from the Island back into town and rented out a pretty amazing historic home in Downtown Mobile. However, it happens to be more than I really wanted to spend per month on living. If it weren’t so damned beautiful and such a great location, then I wouldn’t have budged on the budget. But it is, so I did. Come stop by and be in awe.
Right now, I’m working on a Blackberry app that is in the hunting niche. Yes, you read that correctly. Hunting on the Blackberry. It’s not a game; it’s going to help bring new technology to an old world necessity. Quite a romantic feel to it, don’t you think?
I’m also trying out the Internet marketing. I’ve spent years on different forms of social media. I’d have to say it started with my obsession with gopher as a kid. Then we moved to AOL (because A/S/L may have been the coolest pickup line ever). And skip forward a decade and we have twitter/facebook/delicious/digg/blah/blah/blah. I’m going to take my background studies in psychology and learn some more about marketing, blend it with the technology and see what comes out. From the looks of things in the Internet, I could start making 10K a day! Wow!
wait….no? damn. How about 100 bucks a month? Yes??? Great!
I think that’s all I need to write about tonite. There will be more soon. I missed you blog.
I am not technically employed by anyone. I help people with my skills and they give me money. I like this situation, but I’m afraid it has to change. I didn’t put in the time to find more jobs just in case the other ones stopped needing my help and I’m behind now. So it looks like I’ll be taking up my former position as a FTE. But I want things to change. I don’t want to be just some guy working there; I want to be the man.
I can already foresee this is going to be a lesson in business and economics. I know there are things we could change and produce better code. However, I think that the bosses feel that change isn’t needed and isn’t going to be cost effective. But it isn’t their fault; they just don’t know how much is out there. So if they a) decide they need me full time and b) are willing to let me try to introduce some new ideas then life will be good. If anyone reads this at the office, I missed you guys. I want to do some pretty cool stuff that I’ve been learning and working on. I hope to share it with you!
I have finally gotten settled down somewhat down in Mobile and ready to take on the world. Looks like I may be going back to full time employment at ACS doing FoxPro work in order to make me some fishing money. Unfortunately, that means I’ll be commuting between Daupin Island and Mobile almost every day (around 35 minutes each way). The Good News is that I get to enjoy time working with all of my old friends. I still will be writing ItsTweetTime, still doing freelance (although not as actively looking for stuff), and still be blogging.
It feels very nice to have a milestone (completion of my degree) to start fresh. It isn’t a total complete fresh start, but its close enough to work for now. The next plans are to start getting settled into the community of Mobile again. As many know, I am a member of the Jaycees and work on the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. I plan on trying to get involved with some other groups involved with the downtown revitalization efforts and maybe starting up a Ruby / Rails group down here. Let me know if you’ve got any suggestions or offers to help start up a group!
Today is the last day of my college classes. I woke up pretty excited, put on my amazingly pink plaid that has made me famous, and went on my merry way to class. As I write this, I’m just thinking about how many “lasts” I’m having today. Last time to eat Chick-fil-a in the new student union (new Foy). Last time to check out all the amazing college women that the South produces. Last time to watch someone run across the Concourse naked. Good thing its the last day for that one. (Side note: he should’ve tried wearing more clothes and some socks in the jock).
Today is also the first day of my new life. This is the life I’ve wanted and wished for. New beginnings are always refreshing to me. Its like January 1st for the rest of my adult life. So with that said, I figure I should attempt at some resolutions.
1) Finish more stuff.
College took me a while to finish. I took some time off to try to fix Softec and make it work and then ended up taking a great job with ACS. However, it took me longer than it should have and I wish I had taken it a tad more seriously in my beginning years. I don’t regret any of the things I did, though. I think my experiences were amazing and one of a kind. It’s just time to finish out some of these ideas I’ve had brewing for years.
2) Be smarter than you.
I’m rather competitive. I like to be better than everyone else. Knowing more about what I’m doing can only help me, so that will be my second goal. I’m going to branch outside of my normal teachings (mainly programming / computer science and philosophy). I’m thinking about trying to find a job completely outside of my comfort zone in hopes to get some more perspectives. Programmers seem to fall into the trap of only understanding how to program. I don’t want to be like that.
3) Write more.
Until this past semester, I had never written an essay worth of an A. My thoughts seem to skip over many details that are important in essays. I understand what I’m writing, but the teacher doesn’t. Since starting to write publicly (this blog), I feel like I’ve improved tenfold. I’m going to start with a small goal of writing 100 words a day and getting them online. I don’t aim to make money or provide a true focus for this blog, so they’ll go here. The blog will be turning into a blog about my life. You may find it interesting or you may not. Let me know what you like and I’ll try to keep your suggestions in mind.
I’ll go on and stop at three things to work on. They’re pretty heavy duty and broad and I don’t want to overload myself. I tend to over do things and burn out (read: not finish). This is the first step towards resolution #1. Pat on the back for Dave.
The future is pretty scary as of today, but good things will happen. I’ll be moving down to Daupin Island, AL which is a great town. There’s only a few hundred people that live there full time and I’m excited about meeting at least half of them. I don’t have a full time job as of today and that’s OK. I’ll be there for two months and moving again come August. I’m just looking to support myself and my vices until then while I develop my ideas and try to get ItsTweetTime up and running. Hell, if it runs at a profit by the end of July, I may just stay at the Island.
I also want to thank everyone who’s been reading the blog and coming up to me and saying something about it. It’s been a huge step for me to write publicly and to know you’re getting at least something from it has been a motivator in my life. You’re all awesome and hopefully you keep reading.
And to Auburn, the source of many good times and even more great people, War Damn Eagle. We were meant to be (WDET and WDE? Perfect Match!) I’ll be seeing you in the fall for a few games where the boys play the foosball.
- Oodles of doodles
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