Lessons Learned Filing a Software Patent

Over the years, we’ve filed trademarks and copyrights (which are interesting in their own right), and now I’m having a great time working on some patents for various aspects of our product suite.

I’ll share some information that might be helpful if you find yourself in a similar situation: Read more of this post

People Don’t Buy ‘What’ You Do, They Buy ‘Why’ You Do it

If you’ve never visited TED.com, you really need to take a look. It’s filled with glorious ideas that are candy for your brain. Each speaker does a short presentation (no more than 20 minutes) on a very specific topic.  It’s easy to get sucked in for hours listening to different thought-leaders.

One such presenter and topic is Simon Sinek and his “Golden Circle” philosophy.

In a nutshell, Simon believes that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.  He argues that for leaders to inspire action from their employees, customers, or anyone else involved in their mission, they have to successfully communicate the why behind their ideas.

As he puts it:

Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the ‘I have a dream’ speech, not the ‘I have a plan’ speech.

Simon has written a book called “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,” where he lays out a process for getting to your why.

If you have a moment, watch the video (18 minutes); I think you’ll find it worth your time.  What do you think of this concept?

How to Build a High Traffic Blog Without Going Crazy: Secrets From Tim Ferriss

A few years ago at the Inc500 conference, I had an opportunity to meet Tim Ferriss, author of “The 4-Hour Work Week,” “4-Hour Body,” and “4-Hour Chef” (all three are New York Times and WSJ best-sellers). Tim has a great blog at fourhourworkweek.com/blog/, and has built a successful empire around his content.

Around the same time as the Inc500 event, Tim spoke at the WordPress Conference about how to build and optimize a high traffic blog.

Even though it was a few years ago, some of the lessons are still helpful and relevant. Here’s a summary of some of the interesting points:

Read more of this post

Fact or Fiction: A Home Business = Freedom?

For many, the idea of owning a business is synonymous with freedom, flexibility, and riches. In another post, I’ll explore this notion, as I can argue both sides of that statement: I’ve seen many business owners become consumed by their business, to the point where the business owns them.  They’re miserable.

But that’s for another day.

Today, the question is whether it is possible to have a small at-home business that provides a meaningful level of financial and personal freedom. By meaningful, I mean something that generates the equivalent of a full-time income, with the possibility of scaling beyond that should there be a desire. Read more of this post

Success-hack: Using an Issue Log to Improve Personal Performance

Are you interested in what makes certain people and organizations more successful than others? Have you ever wondered what they do differently than you?

I don’t believe there is one magical formula, but I do think there are certain tactics that successful organizations and people have that contribute to their success.

One such tactic is an “Issue Log“. Read more of this post

[Video] How to Survive a Workplace Shooting

Warning: The video is graphic.

With the recent events at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Conn., I’ve thought a lot about how to prepare for such an event. My wife’s school has procedures designed to save lives and protect the children (and she’s had to use them a few times) — but at our office, we haven’t had any meaningful discussions about what to do. I think it is probably a good idea for every business to talk about their plans and procedures in the event that such a tragedy ensues.

Earlier today, I came across this instructional video (above) created by the Alabama Department of Homeland Security, where they cover what to do in a mass shooting situation. They recommend Read more of this post

Are You What You Do?

If someone asks you, “What do you do?” — what comes to mind?

If you’re like me, you probably have a one-word (or short-phrased) response.  You don’t even have to think about the answer — it’s ingrained in you. Maybe you answer “student” or “teacher” or “lawyer” or <fill in the blank>.

When someone asks me this question, I’ll often respond with “software“. Wait a second — what the frick does that really mean? I do software? (How’s that going for me?)

I’ve found that one way to grow (because the question is awkward) and have a memorable conversation with someone is to ask something slightly different: Who are you?

People may look at you like you’ve misspoken, or they’ll repeat “Who am I??” and give you a very quizzical look.

I’ll often respond by smiling (note from experience: don’t smile too much or you’ll seem creepy!) and replying, “Yes, who is <their name>. What are you about?”

If someone asks me this question, my answer is much more than “software”. In reality, I’m:

  • A (new) husband, learning to navigate what it means to honor my wife, and to serve her sacrificially (freakin’ hard)
  • A new father, learning what it means to balance my work (which I love), and my family (which I love even more)
  • A man seeking after high truths about who we are, who we serve, and what our lives are meant to accomplish
  • An Entrepreneur, full of ideas, responsibilities, and experiences that are much more than just “software”
  • … a whole heck of a lot more (insecure, moody, a dreamer, music-lover … the list goes on and on)

My guess is that you’re also a lot more than the one word or phrase you thought of a few moments ago.  Right?  You’re a lot more than what you do for a paycheck.

So next time someone asks what you do, what will you say? Or better yet, next time you meet someone new, will you have the courage to ask “Who are you?” — and come back and let us know what you learned?

Why I Love Getting Smashed

Dad and Abby

Abby (and mom) teaching dad a valuable lesson about marketing.

Yesterday, as we sat at our kitchen table — me scrolling through my blog idea backlog, my wife holding our 7 month old daughter — I mused, “What I should blog about?”

“Oh, oh! You should do a Christmas Photo Dump!” she excitedly replied.

“WTF is a Christmas photo dump?” I wondered to myself.  Guess I’m out of the loop.

She patiently explained it is fairly common to share personal pictures, especially on the blogs she reads. “That’s why I read blogs — not for the boring crap you normally write about,” she explained, kinda tongue-in-cheek but actually pretty serious.

“Why would anyone be interested in seeing our Christmas pictures?” I asked, still not convinced.

Boy was I wrong. Read more of this post

Blog Traffic Monthly Report: December, 2012

I’m often asked what kind of results to expect in the first month of blogging.  As of today, I’ve written 30 posts (including this one), meeting my objective of one short post per day.

I’m running a number of experiments with this blog (which maybe I’ll cover in another post), and so measuring the data has been an important part of the process.

Here’s a summary of this blog’s ROI (return on investment) for the first 30 days. Read more of this post

Why Writing Product Specs Is A Waste Of Time

I’ve developed software in two distinct ways: (1) writing very detailed and elaborate specs, or (2) writing very little and instead using lots of pictures and conversations.

There are certainly situations where writing specs seems to make sense, but what I’ve found is that by and large, writing specs in an agile environment can be a complete waste of time.

(Note: There are situations where I’ve found it worth spending time writing things out; specifically, when the process of writing itself helps you clarify in your own mind what you’re trying to do.  I happen to be someone who gains clarity through the writing process — but expecting your engineers to read pages and pages of your precious thoughts is usually a waste of time.)

Here’s the process we’ve found to work; most of the time, we’re using some variation of these steps: Read more of this post

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