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Setting Audacious Goals and How They Can Cripple You

Posted by on Dec 11, 2017 in personal | 0 comments

Setting Audacious Goals and How They Can Cripple You

These days it seems like everyone had grand goals and plans. We set these grand goals for ourselves and our businesses, I’m going to get 1,000 new customers, I’m going to lose 50 pounds, I’m going to learn a new language, I’m going to learn to paint, I’m going to create a giant webinar series, and so on. We’ve all gotten great at creating these “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” thanks to Jim Collins & Jerry Porras and their book from 1995, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. But, beyond our BHAGs, we also have dozens, or hundreds, or smaller goals. We become slaves to our to-do lists. I am a charter member of that group. I have stacks of projects and things I want to do. Finish building the house (really, after nearly 4 years living here I still haven’t finished my office, all the fencing, the barns, or the basement), learn new skill sets such as woodworking, read more, play more games with friends, go fishing more often, build a boat, visit our daughter, and this list doesn’t even touch “work” related tasks. Find more clients, learn new tools, test new marketing ideas, go to more conferences, the list seems nearly endless. We have created all of these micro-goals in an effort to get to our BHAGs. And in the process, our micro-goals have created an environment where we find ourselves overwhelmed, sometimes even crippled, by the sheer volume of all the things that we need to do. We “burn out”, we fail, we give up on our goals. We fail because we are constantly looking at what has not been done “yet” rather than what we have accomplished.  We fail because we put so much pressure on ourselves to be Instagram perfect every day. We fail because we believe that inspirational slogans on Pinterest are orders rather than guides. We fail because we are spending so much time worrying about what our future self may think of us, that we forget to take current us into consideration. How Do We Learn To Live With Our Goals? 1. Make your goals achievable I love the BHAGs that we all set. They are a great way to look at things in the long term and allow you to think in broad strokes. But, along with these broad goals, we need to be mindful of creating smaller, achievable goals that will help us reach the BHAG.  Being the CEO of respected marketing agency isn’t reachable if you don’t have an early goal of just hiring ONE person. 2. Limit your major goals I suffer from shiny object syndrome. I want to do all the things. At one point I had four whiteboards packed with goals and plans and ideas for my ‘next thing’. I ended up doing ‘none’ of those things, at least not very well. Hobbies and relaxation don’t fall into this category. What does fall into it are real goals. I’ve found that, for me, keeping myself limited to three major goals at any one time is the most I can manage. For you, it may be 5, or 1. But, whatever that number is, do not add any new BHAGs without clearing away one of the others first. This keeps you from saying yes to things that...

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I Will Gladly Pay You Tuesday for Work Today

Posted by on Jul 27, 2014 in business | 7 comments

Or: Why pay for performance is bad for everyone One of the most common arguments in the SEO and internet marketing community is whether the work being done should only be paid for if there are positive results. There are plenty of arguments on both side, if you are really good at what you do you should be willing to take the risk and reap the rewards for a job well done, or even more aggressively the question is asked, why aren’t you confident enough in your skills to be willing to take on the risk of success or failure? There are generally three types of people that think this is a good idea. Type One: The Idea Guy We all know this website owner, he has this amazing idea that will make everyone millions, if only he could get your expertise behind him so that the rest of the world knows how great it is. Type Two: It’s All Snake Oil, I’ve Been Burned Before I actually have a little empathy for this business owner. She tried to do it right once before, but didn’t know enough, or research well enough, the company that she hired and they either had zero success, or worse, got her site and business penalized. Type Three: The Challenge This one tends to be the worst. He tends to dominate any conversation and is always demanding that you “prove” yourself. Or if you were “really” good you would take the risk for the huge reward. I admit that in the past I did these types of deals all the time. But the web was a different place back then. Very few businesses had websites. No one wanted to take the risk of developing a website and hiring programmers, this was long before DIY websites like WordPress or OpenCart existed, and very few people wanted put in the time needed to reach their goals. It was a lot easier to demand larger percentages back then, demand more control, and be in charge of everything that happened online. But even with all of these advantages, we got screwed on every single deal we made at some point. Worst Case Scenario In the late 90’s we joined up with an all natural cosmetics company. Being animal friendly and all natural was just starting to be a huge deal in the industry so we saw an opportunity to work with a small company and help all of us make more money. We signed a deal that looking back was a bad deal for everyone, but one that is common today, we would get 12% of every sale on the web. Nothing more. No monthly minimum, nothing. Our team put in 3 months building the website, then another 6 months on heavy marketing. Finally, 9 months in to the project we started seeing enough sales to think we were going to make it. Up to this point we had earned zero dollars. For the next 6 months we started to slowly gain more and more traffic and sales. Our monthly checks went from $1000 a month, to $2000 a month, to $3,000 a month. And there it sat for about 6 more months. Everyone was happy, we were earning back out time investment, the client was making a lot of sales...

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Sparking Innovation and Inspiration

Posted by on Mar 12, 2013 in business | 0 comments

Many of us work reasonably alone or with the same small group of people every day. One of the hardest things to do when working solo is to jump start the creative process. Without a group of people to bounce ideas off of, or even serve as an intelligent distraction, you can lose whole days trying to find the inspiration or motivation to push forward. How do you get inspired? I used to go to trade shows. A lot of trade shows. Some to speak, some to listen, but mostly, I went to meet people. Meeting new people with new ideas, or just new ways of looking at old ideas, always inspired me to get back to work and attack. But you can’t always find a trade show on the day you need inspiration,  and flying around the world on a whim tends to get a little expensive. This is where skype and your cell phone come in handy. Like me, I’m sure that many of you have met someone at a conference, a Google Hangout, over lunch, or anywhere of a thousand other places and exchanged business cards and said, call me any time, I’d love to chat more. How often do you actually do that? Never? When I find myself totally blocked and no amount of fishing can solve the problem, I start scrolling through my skype contact list or my drawer of business cards. I pick someone I’ve always wanted to talk to, but never made the time for, and call them. It’s that easy. Of course, they may not be available right at that moment, but you can set up a time ‘soon’ to talk, or you can move on to the next person on the list. When I was designing and making jewelry for a living at Images Jewelers a few years ago I attended a ‘lot’ of jewelry conferences and training classes. I had collected a rather impressive stack of business cards from some outstanding designers, one of them was Steven Kretchmer. Steven was a truly mad scientist and created new alloys for jewelry that many people claimed could never be done. I found myself totally stuck on a design one week. No matter what I did I hated it, and the client hated it too. I was sitting at my desk shuffling business cards when Steven’s card landed on top. I decided to give him a call knowing full well that a world renowned genius would never have the time to chat with me, but just making the phone call would take up 5 minutes of my day. I was shocked when he jumped on the line and we spent the next 2 hours talking about everything from his metal alloys, to motorcycles, to the latest in milling technology. It was one of the most fulfilling phone conversations I ever had. Near the end of the call he asked me why I had called to begin with and I explained to him the issue I was having with what should have been a simple birthstone ring design but how the clients specific requests were causing me to struggle. the largest issue was that he wanted to include both of the birthstones for March, aquamarine and bloodstone. The design box I had worked...

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Aaron’s Law – Balancing Criminal and Civil Law in Computer Crimes

Posted by on Jan 23, 2013 in activism, politics | 0 comments

By now every one knows, or has at least heard, the story of Aaron Swartz.  Arron was a brilliant person how fought for what he believed in and in the end, paid the ultimate price at his own hand. Aaron was prosecuted under felony charges for what any one with a reasonable view of life and computers would view as an incredibly minor issue. Even JSTOR, to site involved, stepped back and was content to let the issue drop. But, a federal prosecutor was hell bent to make her bones on the back of some kid who committed a computer crime. It didn’t matter that no one lost anything, it didn’t matter that it would ruin him financially, it didn’t even matter to her that the people who were wronged felt the issue was over. She used the law to make a name for herself. American law has become a twisted mess of self promotion, lies, half truths, and selective prosecution all in the name in politics. Thought and reason has been removed from the process entirely (3 strikes, RICO, 2nd Amendment) and replaced with zero tolerance and prosecution based on success rates vs actually doing good for the country. Fortunately, once in a while, some possible good comes from an event like this. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced a draft of a bill on Reddit (appropriate)  The basic intent of this bill is to remove the criminal aspect of violating a website’s TOS and place them back where they belong, under contract law. This would remove the “easy conviction” that some prosecutors go after in computer crimes where there is no illegal activity other than violating the website’s terms of service. This is a _*VERY*_ good thing and something that we should all be behind regardless of your political leanings. It is long since time that we begin the long process of taking back control of our legal system and the people that are supposed to be enforcing it. I have created a Community to discuss and support this amendment to the CFAA. Please join us and lend your hand to the effort....

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Using Google Plus As A Blogging Platform

Posted by on Jan 13, 2013 in blogging | 1 comment

Recently I realized that I like doing way too many things to be a decent blogger. My life is full of passions and desires that simply do not overlap in a way that makes any sense at all. This is how I ended up owning 7 different blogs. And also how I ended up finding that I couldn’t force myself to blog often enough to build any sort of audience at all. Take a look at all the blogs I own – Steam Driven Media – work and SEO Lunker Links – Fishing Fire and Gemstone – Jewelry Feydakin – Personal blog Steve G – Personal / Business oriented Red Fence Ridge – Farm blog Plus maybe a half dozen more for various products and ideas I’ve had over the years Today I watching a Hangout with +martin shervington and +Guy Kawasaki and +George Sepich when Guy mentioned that he doesn’t blog any more. He posts to G+ and uses social media to push people to specific posts. There are certainly some drawbacks to using G+ as a blogging platform. But I think that the pluses outweigh the negatives pretty quickly. The biggest plus is that I can put everything I do in one spot. I can blog instantly about whatever strikes my fancy and I can simply select the proper circle to blast it out to. Or I can set it public if I feel like it should be seen by everyone. The negative, of course, is that it’s unlikely that the people that follow me for marketing ideas are likely to be thrilled if I go on a fishing trip and write about fishing for 2 weeks solid. But I could be wrong, maybe that’s exactly what it will take to build a bit of a following. It’s certainly worth giving it a shot. It can’t be any less successful than 7 rarely posted to blogs. Of course, it could also end up showing a lot of people just how crazy I really...

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Learn Something New Every Day

Posted by on Mar 5, 2012 in personal | 0 comments

You never know when today’s success will depend on what you learned yesterday.

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Venture Deals [review]

Posted by on Jan 23, 2012 in books, venture capital | 0 comments

I recently finished Brad Feld’s and Jason Mendelson’s fantastic book on venture capital deals. The book is based on series of blog posts from the blog at Foundry Group. It takes much of what has been written there over the years and pulls it all together in to an easy to comprehend format that will most likely stay within easy reach for some time to come. The book starts off explaining the basic parts of the VC deal process, but really hits it’s stride when Brad and Jason breaks down the various aspects of each part of the deal in to what the investor expects and what the entrepreneur expects. Having both sides of the deal presented helps put in to perspective what is important to who and why. As with most deals, what is important to you is very likely a non-issue to the other party, but knowing that going in makes it easier to give and take in the negotiation process to get the deal you want. For me, the best part of the book is the detailed explanation of the Term Sheet. Easily the most confusing part of any financing deal, the Term Sheet can set you up for failure before any money changes hands at all. And without at least a basic understanding of what various aspects of the deal mean, you can find yourself regretting the deal and looking for a way out. Brad and Jason do a wonderful job of making even the most technically challenging areas understandable, even if the answer is ‘get a good lawyer’. Even if you don’t read the book clear through, it is worth holding on to as a reference guide to look back on should you become lost in your own deal making process. Or even if you simply want to sound more educated on the subject than you really are when you first start meeting with VCs and Angel Investors. I know that I feel a little better prepared for the path ahead having read the book, and if you think that you may find yourself in a venture capital deal in the future, you need to read this book as well. ==================== Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist Learn all about the art of the venture capital deal. From beginners to experienced entrepreneurs, knowing how a venture capital deal works before you start is best way to be sure that the deal you get is the deal you want. Rating by Steve: 5.0...

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Angels and Entrepreneurs

Posted by on Nov 16, 2011 in venture capital | 0 comments

I was recently asked to take part in a round robin interview with Rand Fishkin (@randfish) of SEOMOZ and Nova Spivak (@novaspivak) of NovaSpivak.Com and hosted by Sheldon Campbell (@docsheldon). The three part interview revolved around the the problems and pitfalls that an entrepreneur can meet while searching for investment capital from venture capitalists or angel investors. I enjoyed to interview and learned quite a lot from the other participants since we come from different points with Rand being a successful fund raiser, Nova being an Angel investor and me being in the early stages of investigating raising investment capital. I just wanted to take a minute to thank Doc for inviting me to participate and spread the word here. You can find the separate parts of the interview here: Part 1: Angels and Entrepreneurs Part 2: The Right Entrepreneur – Angel Part 3: Don’t Snatch Defeat From The Jaws Of...

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the difference between pre-money and post-money valuation

Posted by on Sep 16, 2011 in venture capital | 2 comments

Recently I was working with a few people on a new project we are collaborating on (all hush hush right now) and one of the topics was determining how to place a valuation on the company. While it’s not terribly important at this point, it can become an issue later in the life of the company if we don’t address these issues early. In passing I mentioned pre and post money valuation and got a virtual blank stare over skype. It’s one of those terms that is tossed around a lot in the VC/angel world and a lot of people nod and pretend to know what that means. Fortunately, pre and post money valuation isn’t a terribly complex issue grasp. In a nutshell, pre-money valutation is better for the entrepreneur and post-money valuation is better for the investor. It refers to how the the shares of a company are valued, before or after the investor adds his money. Let’s assume that the owners and the investor agree that the company is worth $1,000 and the investor intends to invest $250. If they use a pre-money valuation the company is now worth $1,250 after the investment is made. If they use a post-money valuation then the company is worth $1,000 after the investment is made. The important thing to understand here is what happens to the ownership percentages. In a pre-money valuation you have this: Amount % Ownership Owners $1000 80% Investor $250 20% Total: $1,250 100%   In a post-money valuation you have this: Amount % Ownership Owners $750 75% Investor $250 25% Total: $1,000 100%   The obvious difference is a loss of 5% ownership for the entrepreneur and a 5% gain for the investor. It may not seem like a big deal, but what would you do for 5% of Facebook right now? So, how do you determine whether you value your company pre or post money? That’s a tough call and can depend greatly on what the investor brings to the table other than money and the entrepreneur brings to the table other than an...

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eric schmidt starts spreadin’ it around – again

Posted by on Jul 29, 2011 in venture capital | 0 comments

We beat up on Eric Schmidt on the podcast quite a bit mostly because he makes it easy by speaking what is on his mind without much in the way of a filter. But he really is a brilliant man in his own right and he tends to do things in a way that hasn’t been tried before. That’s the case with his new VC firm. Google’s former CEO and current executive chairman has reached in to his back pocket for a little petty cash and funded a new venture capital firm called Innovation Endeavors about a year ago. Based in Palo Alto this VC firm is being headed up by 33 year old technologist Dror Berman. The interesting bit is that Berman has no formal investment or finance background and this is his first startup, something unusual for someone running a VC firm. IE is taking a new path toward finding ideas to invest in, calling itself  Runway, it is a pre-team and pre-idea. Instead of investing in companies individual entrepreneurs are brought together to create new teams and then brainstorm new ideas together looking for a problem that needs solving. The intention is to invest in people and not companies. It’s getting late, but if you hurry you an apply to be a part of this new program. You need to be willing to commit to a full time, six month, program and be ready to go from zero to hero in just six months. Are you going to step up for a piece of Eric’s cash? I know I would love to, but I have a feeling that my wife would be a bit ‘unhappy’ if I were to suddenly take six months off to spend in Palo...

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