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Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Jon: DesktimeApp.

In Be memorable, Just plain fun, Networking, Super Helpful Info, Tech on 01/27/2013 at 4:17 pm

I met Jon at an event in town (I think it was 37signals related, which would explain Jon’s techiness). Our conversation went something like this:

Jon: What do you do?
Me: I make cupcakes. What do you do?
Jon: I make apps.
Me: Cool.

Then, I asked more questions and found out that Jon’s app, DesktimeApp, is actually really cool, really pretty, and really useful.

Desktime App Coworking

Whenever I travel, I’ve found it’s much more fun to work in a co-working space and meet new entrepreneurs, than it is to go to a coffee shop and share space with a potentially unstable person and a really loud steam machine.

Solution: DesktimeApp.

I’ve met so many cool people, discovered so many new places, and gotten such great feedback – all because of this tiny little web app that I keep bookmarked on my phone whenever I’m in a new city.

You may enjoy it too.

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Shannon: Grant For Good.

In Be memorable, Create, Dancing, Marketing, Networking, Organization, Relationships, Tech on 10/23/2012 at 1:29 am

I met Shannon when we were both on a panel last year in Chicago. She’s the super smart, hard working, inspiring founder of Pivotal Productions. We discovered that we were both tap dancers in a past life (although she won national tap dance competitions and I never even entered them). Here’s a snapshot of us doing a triple time step before our panel:

So, one of the best things she brought up was how she joined forces with a bunch of other small businesses to provide an amazing grant (like, $100K+ in business services) to one non-profit applicant via Grant for Good. Why is this brilliant?

1 – Two heads (or seven companies, in this case) are better than one. Businesses can do more when joining forces than operating solo.

2 – Harnessing requests for donated product or services – which is every small business’ challenge – is much easier if it’s handled in an organized, official way. (Saying, “Apply for our Grant for Good” > reviewing a million scattered requests for donations.)

3 – This gets more press. Let’s face it: we donate “in exchange for free press” all the time, but what does that really get us? A tiny logo on a banner? A quarter page ad in a program that nobody reads anyhow? By collaborating and doing something truly impactful, it’s likely to get more buzz.

I’m excited to apply this concept – and to tap dance again with Shannon. Next time, on stage!

Tony: Don’t Outsource Your Core Competency.

In Be authentic, Business, Experience, Strategy, Tech on 06/21/2012 at 7:53 pm

I met Tony Hsieh at a 37signals event (seems like I meet a lot of people there). He was doing a national tour to promote Delivering Happiness, and my friend Jason invited me to join them. There were only 30 or so people there, so it was a pretty intimate setting, which was great.

Tony talked about his experiences with growing Zappos, and one of the biggest operational hangups he experienced was when they trusted an external company to handle their warehousing and fulfillment. After losing money, losing customers and losing time, Tony writes in his book:

“It was a valuable lesson. We learned that we should never outsource our core competency. As an e-commerce company, we should have considered warehousing to be our core competency from the beginning.”

People think our core competency is cupcakes. But it’s not. There are a million cupcakes in this city. What sets us apart (according to our clients) is the service level that each of them get with each order. Yes, the cupcakes need to be pristine. They need to be impeccable. But what we’re GOOD at, what sets us apart from our competitors, is our personal service.

So taking Tony’s advice, we will never outsource that. You have my word.

Paul: What VCs Look For.

In Business, Create, Networking, Tech on 06/19/2012 at 3:04 pm

I met Paul when we spoke at an entrepreneurship dinner last fall. He’s a partner at Lightbank (which invested in some local coupon company and I guess did okay with that.) When I met him, we joked that we were the Asian invasion. I also told him that I never have and didn’t plan on going after any external funding. He said genuinely, “Okay, but if you ever think differently, you know you can reach out.” So I do, regularly – but just to talk shop and get his feedback.

The last time I lunched with Paul, he said he hears hundreds of pitches on a monthly basis. I asked him how he even starts to figure out what would be a good investment.

“When I’m looking at a business idea, I check to see if it’s relevant, non-obvious, and robust. That’s it.”

As I’m (finally, sort of, timidly) contemplating talking to investors about expanding our current offer, I’m for SURE making sure that it’s

relevant
non-obvious
robust.

Easy enough. Time to get back to work.

Jeff: Done in 10 Years.

In Create, Human behavior, Take action, Tech on 04/18/2012 at 3:36 pm

I met Jeff through a neighbor. He was a blind lunch date. He says he decided he liked me when I told him up-front I didn’t like to bake nor did I care much about cupcakes. I decided I liked him when he didn’t use any frilly business BS with me.

Between the time we met and now, Jeff has taken his superstar status to a whole new level with Insight Labs. He’s worked with a lot of really big names and has gotten the ball rolling with a ton of organizations to make changes for the better. (I participated in a lab discussing how to effectively merge retail with tutoring/education.)

So, at lunch today, I asked him what direction Insight Labs was headed. He gave me a list of “here’s what we’re doing,” and then said this:

“Howell [one of his partners] and I were flying to a lab one day, and decided that we would be done with this in 10 years. It has changed the way we approach everything – since there is now a deadline for everything we want to accomplish.”

If I approached my business with a drop-dead date, would my bucket list of desired business accomplishments be a lot more ambitious? Probably. Would I act more aggressively? Yes. Would I waste as much time as I do now? Definitely not.

Jason: JotNot for Receipts

In Money, Organization, Super Helpful Info, Tech on 10/25/2011 at 2:57 pm

Jason is a super talented, smart and very hard-working developer and the owner of Surprise Highway. We share an office, play footsies when his obnoxiously long legs cross the line into my space, and often go to lunch together.

Once at lunch, Jason snapped a picture of his receipt. I asked him what he was going to do with that.

“I scan it using JotNot, and it automatically syncs with Dropbox or Evernote.”

Take a picture of a business expense receipt, save it to the cloud easily, get rid of the receipt. If ever audited, turn over the digital folder. Brilliant.

Other scanning apps don’t make this as easy. I’ve looked. They make you email yourself a PDF version, then download it, then save it manually. At least three extra steps.

So I invested the $0.99 today and am scanning receipts happily, and pitching them.

{And if you’re stuck in 2003, you can also send faxes directly from the app.}

Decluttering is so ahhhhhhh.

Melissa: 10 minutes.

In Brainstorm, Create, Human behavior, Parenting, Take action, Tech, Web on 04/01/2011 at 10:21 pm

I went to a party last year, which was a total dud. The only good thing to come out of it? My introduction to and friendship with Melissa. (Which made the event totally worth it.)

Melissa is a fierce, bold, action-oriented, passionate entrepreneur/idea girl/supermom/friend. She decided she wanted to make a film, so she did. She decided she wanted to start a company, so she did. She decided she wanted to interview Seth Godin, so she did. Why not.

I admire everything about her.

She joined me and a couple of girlfriends for lunch the other day. I think we were talking about website domains that she bought for fun. And she said, “If an idea is good enough to stick around for 10 minutes, then it’s definitely worth the $5 it costs to buy the domain for it.”

So basically, don’t waste time. Act.

I should do more of that, and less of what I’m good at: procrastinating.

Thanks, lovely – as always.

Andrew: In-box Zero.

In Organization, Tech on 03/27/2011 at 4:00 pm

I share an office with Andrew, the cuddly, touchy-feely, entrepreneurial web app developer and project manager, husband and dad of two.

A few months ago when we moved in together, I was complaining that I couldn’t keep up with my e-mails and that I was spending all day responding to them.

His solution? In-box zero.


(Disclaimer: I’m pretty sure Andrew didn’t invent in-box zero, but he’s the first to tell me about it, so he gets credit. :))

1 – Choose three or four times during the day that you’ll check your e-mail.
2 – When you go into your e-mail, close all other distractions.
3 – Take 20 minutes or so to reply quickly to any e-mails you can.
4 – If something is a project or will take longer than a couple of minutes to respond to, add it to your to-do or project management list, or delegate it to someone else. Then file it appropriately.
5 – In-box ZERO. Close your in-box and don’t think about it until the next time you check e-mails.

In-box zero has changed my life. Thank you, Andrew. You are brilliant.

Maiko: Go Paperless with Evernote.

In Organization, Tech on 08/09/2010 at 9:38 am

Evernote Japan made its debut just a few months ago, and it hasn’t taken long for the Japanese to get swept up in its usability.

Here’s one tip from my friend Maiko, who’s a magazine junkie like I am:

Instead of tearing out pages of magazines you want to keep, take a picture of it and post it to your Evernote account. Sort the content into whatever folder/tags/categories makes sense, and then share the folder with whomever you want. Done and done.

So, like:

  • Redecorating your house? Take pictures of pieces/colors/layouts you like and share with your decorator.
  • Want to keep track of book, travel or recipe recommendations in those flight magazines? Take pictures of those lists and share with your spouse.
  • Discover a new gadget or pair of shoes you really really want in a magazine? Take a picture and share with your family/friends so they’ll know what to get you for your birthday. 🙂