On starting to drink coffee

Surely there will be others, but presently, the summer of 2015 was one of the hardest, busiest and most stressful of my life.

In the last few years, I’ve been blessed with a nice calendar rhythm I’ve enjoyed — hectic and busy and big spring, fall and winter, with calmer summers to re-tool and a few weeks of December to get primed for the new year.

2015 was different. In the span of three months I bought a house, got married, rented out my former house, effectively acquired a company, grew our business  staff headcount by a quarter, transitioned out an internal leader, took a road trip near Calgary, spent two weeks in Ecuador and, you know, just did the normal stuff too.

Though I do strive to have -some- work-life balance (here is where SACM and others close to me roll their eyes), this incredibly time-crunch resulted in the inevitable: I slept a whole lot less. I did more successive late nights and early mornings than perhaps ever before. So I started drinking coffee.

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My proudest professional outcomes of 2015

I want to keep developing as a small business owner and leader.

That’s why I keep track of my professional goals each year — in addition to personal resolutions. This past year was no different. Most of those goals involve my company Technically Media but not all.

Below see what I’m most proud of having accomplished in 2015.

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Religion as tradition, not rule

Like others I knew in the middle class U.S. Northeast in the 1990s, I was raised Roman Catholic by a family who felt limited by the religion’s slowly moving moral structure. I was there for a foundation that I could return to later in my life, by my parents encouragement. For all the complaining I did then, I am thankful for that.

For the first time in years (excluding weddings, though even mine wasn’t Catholic), later this week on Christmas Eve I plan to be in a church service. But there still isn’t much there for me. I’m saddened by that.

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Here’s the audio from my on-stage interview of Philadelphia Mayor Elect Jim Kenney

In front of an audience of 150 civil servants and economic development executives from throughout the mid-Atlantic, I interviewed last week Philadelphia Mayor Elect Jim Kenney for the second annual Rise conference on civic innovation we at Technical.ly organize.

Find the transcript and write-up here. Below listen to the audio,

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Surprises from our inaugural Delaware Innovation Week

We at Technical.ly hosted our inaugural Delaware Innovation Week. It was our smallest community yet to do something like that, so we anxious to see what would happen.

The early signs show the model worked — new people came to take part in the week and join the community. So we’ll be back in November 2016.

Since it was the first year, I thought I’d share some surprises that came across.

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What happens to old customers when your prices go up

Raising prices for a product or service is challenging. One strategy is to keep the headline price but simply offer a cheaper product — fewer chips in the bag, fewer deliverables in the sponsorship package.

But what happens when you so misfired from the get go that you can’t sneak in a change? Or, what if your product or service has simply gotten far better and more competitive?

I’ve heard lots of advice on how founders and early stage companies often start off by charging too little and need to try to maximize their ask early on. Too bad I didn’t know that starting Technical.ly — because our business team still struggles with the legacy of our pricing strategy from our founding, some six years ago.

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Generalists and specialists: when to hire for habits and when not to

When you’re building a team, each role is best filled by someone on a range between generalists and specialists. The first is flexible but lacking expertise, and the latter is experienced but lacking range.

Of course, like the term use among animals, most of us are somewhere on a spectrum, but it still can be a helpful prism to see your applicant pool. Some celebrate the generalist and others honor the specialist but both are necessary and nuanced. And perhaps most important to remember: anyone can move along that spectrum, depending on their willingness and adaptability. But be conscious of your choices.

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The news business is the only where the CEO isn’t meant to control controversy

This summer, I was really proud to receive a leadership award from Temple University’s Fox School of Business. The next day the local tech news site I cofounded, Technical.ly, ran a highly critical analysis of that school’s signature business plan competition and widely panned it as having lacked any real successes in 15 years.

Awkward.

A year ago, we replaced me as Editor in Chief and I have been transitioning to more of a publisher (connecting and overseeing business and editorial). The experience brings up an interesting reminder of my role in a news organization I helped found but no longer have complete control over.

Continue reading The news business is the only where the CEO isn’t meant to control controversy