Manage Your Day-To-Day: lessons from this 99U book on productivity

There is an entire industry of creative productivity self-help resources. My friend Sean Blanda gave me ‘Manage Your Day-to-Day,’ one in a portfolio of books from 99U, an effort from Behance, the Adobe division where he works.

It was a quick and energizing read. Buy it for $8.  As I like to do, I wanted to share a few of the directives I most acted on.

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Obamacare more than doubled my company’s healthcare costs: here’s what we did

Following the July 2014 final rules implementation of the Affordable Care Act, my company Technical.ly was impacted more severely than we expected. This is not a political article — I am not opposed to Obamacare — this is a small business owner’s experience.

With just eight full-time team members (excluding, of course, our part-time independent contractors), I am solely responsible for managing our healthcare coverage plan, and while I tried to prepare for what the change might be, I wasn’t ready for our costs to more than double, and, for some plans, almost triple. Here’s what I learned and what we did.

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Ideas are easy, execution is hard

Stop taking credit for ideas you didn’t execute on. We’ve all had those moments.  When you find out about a new project or initiative and can recall with great clarity having had that very idea before.

It’s natural to want to allow ourselves that moment of validation. It’s as if a thought of yours has sprung fully formed, so it’s rewarding to take some ownership over it. But’ it’s hardly fair and certainly not accurate.

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Founders aren’t scalable

Founders aren’t scalable. You can grow an organization only so far with a founder and her emotion, personality and drive.

So you shouldn’t build an organization around them. They’re great in the beginning. They’re the ultimate generalists, as a good founder will do anything to get the job done. But it won’t last. It can’t last. Even if a founder stays a lifetime, eventually that life will end.

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I put people first, then technology: Biz Stone

To promote his new book ‘Things a Little Bird Told Me,’ Twitter cofounder Biz Stone was at the Free Library of Philadelphia for a ticketed, breakfast event for which I interviewed him on stage for a half-hour before audience questions finished the morning.

My line of questions can be seen here. I tried to to steer the conversation away from what has already been said by Stone, a well-covered tech entrepreneur who is in the midst of a popular book tour, but we still hit upon some of what has already been covered: the designer by trade has focused on bringing the human touch to software.

That helps explain how decidedly simple Twitter is and how Stone’s new startup Jelly, a network-driven answer app, has stayed focused on getting social responses.

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Understand the difference between climate and weather

The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time, weather is in the short term and climate over the long term. It’s the same for your life in any form.

When traveling, when learning about a new community, knowing what is variable and what is constant is invaluable. That is, what is climate — the deep, long trend and narrative of a place — and what is weather — flighty, trivial and wildly variable?

It is challenging but absolutely imperative for understanding a new place or time. A late snow in May in Philadelphia would be a strange weather pattern, not indicative of its general climate. Likewise, when you are trying to learn something, you have to strive to now what is unusual and what is indicative of a trend.

What you need to know to work at a startup

I work at a startup. Not a tech startup or, to be honest, according to some, any kind of startup at all. I help lead a growing, young, small media business that happens to cover technology companies and startup culture, so I’m around conversations about definitions a lot.

Let me be clear: in this post, I’m using the definition I use for ‘startup,’ meaning a young company testing a business model. I’m writing here about what type of person I’m finding can work best in such an environment, which is different (but neither better, nor worse) than a large corporation or even another smaller, but more stable and more clearly defined, organization.

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