Archive | October, 2011

Why are we doing this?

21 Oct

Great questions to ask yourself as you consider new endeavors and opportunities or reevaluate current ones. (source: From Jason Fried @ 37channels) This is also one of those things i have printed out and in front of me daily…

These are questions we ask each other before, during, and sometimes after we work on something. That something can be as small as a couple-hour project or as big as something that takes a few weeks or more. Either way, it’s important to ask questions like this in order to make sure you’re doing work that matters.

Why are we doing this?

Ever find yourself working on something but you don’t know why? Someone just told you to do this or that? It’s pretty common I think. It’s important to ask yourself (and others) why you’re working on this. What is this for? Who benefits? What’s the motivation behind it? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you better understand the work itself.

What problem are we solving?

What’s the problem? Are customers confused? Are we confused? Is something not clear enough? Was something not possible before? What problem are we solving here? Sometimes when you ask yourself this question you’ll find that you’re solving an imaginary problem. That’s when it’s time to stop and reevaluate what the hell you’re doing.

Is this actually useful?

Are we making something useful or are we just making something? It’s easy to confuse enthusiasm with usefulness. Sometimes it’s fine to play a bit and build something that’s cool, but it’s worth asking yourself if it’s useful too. Cool wears off, useful never does.

Are we adding value?

Adding something is easy, adding value is harder. Is this thing I’m working on actually making the product more valuable for people? Can they get more out of it than they did before? There’s a fine line between adding value and subtracting value. Sometimes adding is subtracting. Too much catsup can ruin the fries. Value is about balance.

Will this change behavior?

Developers have a tendency to add stats to a screen just because they can. Counts, totals, sums, averages. Numbers can look cool, but do they change behavior? Does it matter if someone knows there are 38 of these instead of 42? Does it matter that someone knows it took 0.08 seconds instead of 0.02? Sometimes it might, but it’s important to constantly ask yourself: Will knowing this information change someone’s behavior? Can they do something useful with this information? Will they make a better decision because of this information? If not, pull it out of the interface. Data without purpose is noise.

Is there an easier way?

There are lots of ways to do things, but for simplicity’s sake let’s say there are two primary ways: The easier way and the harder way. The easier way takes 1 unit of time. The harder way takes 10 units of time. Whenever you’re working on the harder way you should ask yourself is there an easier way? You’ll often find that the easier way is more than good enough for now. Most people’s problems are pretty simple — we just imagine they are hard.

What’s the opportunity cost?

What can’t we do because we’re doing this? This is especially important for smaller companies that are more resource constrained. Limited time makes prioritization more important. If we work on feature A can we still do Feature B and C before April? If not, would we rather have B and C instead of A? Is A really worth the opportunity cost? Ask this all the time.

This one should come up all the time. Is what we’re doing really worth it? Is this meeting worth pulling 6 people off their work for an hour? Is it worth pulling an all-nighter tonight or could we just finish it up tomorrow? Is it worth getting all stressed out over a press release from a competitor? Is it really worth spending $1000/week on Google Adwords? Is it really worth…?

The questions listed above are just some of the questions we’re asking ourselves all the time. At the end of the day it’s all about making the right decisions about the right things at the right time. These questions help us get there.”

Doers or Great Leaders…

14 Oct

The 80/20 Principal…great thoughts to keep in mind as your are leading a team or volunteers…not mine, but still great 🙂

In an organization with 100 people:

  • 20 people are doers.
  • With a leader.
  • 80 are hanging around watching, experimenting, consuming, or complaining.
  • When the 20 expand to 40, chances are there’s 200 now in the organization (or will be).
  • The 20 tend to get frustrated with the 80 for not doing anything and at times will tell them. (They should avoid that.)
  • The 80 will ride the coattails of the 20 and feel like they did it and even take credit for it.
  • This sometimes frustrates the 20. They should not be frustrated. They should just do.
  • Great leaders pour vision into the 20 while casting the net out to the 100.
  • Frustrated leaders spend a lot of time trying to get the 80 be part of the 20.
  • Of the 80, some will become doers as the organization grows.
  • The doers that simply do will some day realize there are people following them.
  • Some of the 80 will become part of the 20 with a simple personal invite.
  • A leader will be turned down 4 times for every yes. This does not bother great leaders. It frustrates others.
  • Frustrated leaders have the opportunity to be great leaders.
  1. When I’m hiring, I’m usually looking for leaders, not doers. I know if I find a great doer, I’ll get a bunch of stuff done. But if I find a great leader, he or she will find and lead many teams of doers and we will see the capacity and strength of the organization multiply.
  2. If I had an organization with 100 staff and 80 of them were hanging around watching, experimenting, consuming or complaining…I would fire the 80, give the 20 raises, and use the rest of the money to invest in growing the organization.

Rejoicing Over a Brother…

12 Oct

If you don’t know…You need to be exposed to something, it’s called Hip Hop. Maybe you have heard about it…But some people still comin late to the game…it’s alright we ain’t mad attcha.

I can’t pretend to think that all of you are into the same stuff that I am…which presents the opportunity for me to share. It is a blessing to rejoice over a brother or sister in Christ who has embraced their God given talents and…are killin it in their field. This time this person is a personal friend, Lecare Moore. Lecrae is a Christian Rapper with Reach Records (check out Man Up). Lecrae recently did an I Am Second interview…which tells his story:


But truthfully what inspired this post was watch Lecare on the BET Hip Hop Awards Cypher…watch it, powerful to see the platform he has been given and how he uses it.


Keep doing what your doing Crae

My PHENOMENAL Story 2011 Volunteers

11 Oct

It is never to late to thank volunteers…I hope:

I had the amazing privilege to co-lead the Wonderful Magical Surprise and Delight team of Story Chicago 2011, here are the people who made my job a walk in the park…

Taylor: The greatest Candy Man you could ask for. Taylor has such a servants heart, he is the one willing and ready to do anything…like wear this costume and be cheery all day 🙂 He also has great ideas, even if he had to pitch it to me 3 different times. Thanks for all your hard work Taylor, and also if you went to Story 2011…Taylor was one of the volunteers responsible for stuffing your amazing Nolan Bags with goodies.

Julie: Wow what can I say about Julie, When Julie is around you will never be in want. She was always asking how she could help and did everything with amazing detail. Thank you sweet Julie! I wish I had a better picture of Julie…but this is just like her…working. She was an amazing addition to our team serving as a Cigarette Girl.


Bryce: The greatest Candy Man you could ask for…wait have I said that already 🙂 Bryce added his own flare to the Candy Man costume on the 2nd day. He got the pleasure of handing out the nostalgic Yoo Hoo drinks and did it with humor and grace…everybody was so happy to see him…or at least what was in his hand. Thanks Bryce for bringing your personality to our team.

Kristen: This girl LOVED dressing up and giving things away…what a great find! She selflessly served as Cigarette Girl both days of the conference. People by the 2nd day were on the hunt for her, to see what fun goodies she would be giving out. Super fun girl to be around…So glad we snatched her up on our team. She wants to work for Oprah’s New Network…got any connections?

The Trio: James, Matt, and Paul…These guys served their hearts out on the registration team, THEN… came and completed the Surprise & Delight team. These guys were on it before it was even a though in my head. They had a blast hand delivering Hacky Sacks to unsuspecting attendees. I told them to have fun with it and be creative so…instead of just handing someone a hacky sack, they asked them to at least hacky it 3 times before it was theirs. I had so much fun watching people try, try, and try again. They were so determined and laughing, just having a good time…exactly what we were going for. We couldn’t have done it without you guys!!

I have one more thing to say about Paul in particular. Often in my head I would have the thought “I need someone to….” I would only have to turn around and with out fail there was Paul ready and willing to do whatever it was I needed. Thank you Paul for your servants heart!

Josh: Oh Josh…words can’t describe and I was hoping videos could but even they don’t compete with the memory of you I have in my head. We called Josh our “Barker” This video shows a little taste of what a break session was like…full of excitement, including a magician and if you listen you hear the melodious soundings of Josh Wilis.

This is Josh getting in to his role of photographer during one of the session breaks

Blue: So fun so creative…I’m sure she was partly the master mind behind this surprise give away that had the attendees getting animated and creative with stories about nightmares. Sadly the guy pictured did not win…you should have seen the other guy! Blue was so sweet to have around!

Ashley: Anyone of you who enjoyed Chick-Fil-A for breakfast can thank Ashley for that! She traversed the treacherous road of Chicago to bring it to you…nice and hot.Thank you for your time and dedication Ashley!

Janae: (left) Came in to help us on the second day of the conference and gave an extra boost of energy and enthusiasm to the team. Janae had a blast as a Cigarette Girl and everyone loved her…chasing her down to get some cotton candy. We couldn’t have done it without you, Thanks Janae!

Michaja Prendergast: My Co-Leader…what a creative mind on this girl.

Not only is she a Pediatric Occupational Therapist but can plan, organize, and recruit for one dang good conference. Michaja handled the “live entertainment” side of the Surprise and Delight team. She got a Statue Artist, an Improv group, numerous musicians, a magician, and a dance troupe to bring “surprising entertainment” to the event. Loved! working with her…I think we made a good team. We set up a bubble machine to elevate spirits upon leaving Story for the last time…her is Michaja enjoying them, as well as a video of the dance troope she recruited to for us:

I had a blast at Story…as I know everyone did. Can’t wait till next year!