consolidating my online presence

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about my online presence.  As I am helping more and more people strategize about their presence online and how to maintain a consistent brand, I have realized that some pruning is needed for the different places I have created assets online.  I strongly believe that focus and intention are more important than being present everywhere at all times, so I have decided to close down some of my ‘outposts’ and redirect them here.  If you clicked on a link that got you here, that is the reason.

My focus now (until experience tells me otherwise) is that I am going to maintain two blogs, facebook, and twitter. I will occasionally produce content on other networks, but these will be the main components of my platform.

This is the purpose for each one:

  • This blog is my personal blog where I explore ideas and write about a wide range of topics without restraining myself to any editorial direction.  I loosely focus on creativity, technology, health and leadership – but once in a while, I write things that don’t neatly fit into those buckets.
  • MoreThanAHut Blog is where I write about platforms and tribe building, especially from the perspective of owning your online presence
  • Facebook is my choice for daily engagement and ‘in the moment’ expression.  I like the immediacy of the audience on Facebook and the ability to have a more personal engagement with my relationships
  • Twitter is mostly an announcement and article sharing platform for me.  I use it to spread my written articles and any other information I come across that I have not yet digested into more coherent ideas for a blog post.

This is subject to evolution over time because my goals will evolve and the tools will change – I will make sure I reassess the decisions here periodically to make sure the solutions that best serve my tribe are the ones I focus on.

autocorrecting myself

Did you know the average person spends 4 years of his life looking down at a cell phone?

Every time I watch the video below where I got this quote, something rises up in me emotionally.  Its weird to have such a visceral reaction to a commentary on our obsession with devices – but I know the reason is that I am often in many of the traps he describes.

Take a moment and watch it:

Some of the great lines:

Do I not have the patience to have ‘Cnvrstn’ without ‘Abrvtn’ / This is the era of media overstimulation

The news is a hundred and forty characters

And this is the one that really hit home for me:

No longer do I want to spoil a precious moment by recording it with a phone / I’m just gonna keep them

I don’t wanna take a picture of my meals anymore / I’m just gonna eat them

The part about precious moments is often me – scrambling to get my phone out and actually missing the moment.

What a shame.

But like he says, all of this is a choice. And each day I am making a point to choose a little better.

For one thing, I don’t get the neck ache I used to have after my commute anymore because I don’t spend the whole ride looking down at my phone.

handwriting, sketching now available in Evernote for Android

I’m very excited about this new addition to the Evernote app for Android.  Adding handwriting to the app means that now its possible to add sketches right alongside typed notes.  This will go very well with the way ideas flow for me because I often find it easier to work freeform on a piece of paper and then end up taking a picture of that piece of paper and adding the image to Evernote.

I see many possibilities for adding this to my workflow.

See for yourself in the video:

figure out how to use Evernote by doing a trial run

Often when I am asked why I like Evernote so much I find it difficult to give a brief answer that really does the tool justice. I think this is because the usefulness of Evernote grows in direct proportion to how much you use it.

My usual approaches to explaining Evernote are not as effective as I would like

So if somebody has never used the tool before, short of telling them to just try it, there is no real way to give them a good frame of reference. Sometimes I try to answer the question by explaining the main features of the tool – only to be met with a glazed over look by the person. Other times, I try to explain by showing them examples of how I use the tool. But the problem with this approach is that my needs are most likely not the same as their needs and my examples may not resonate with the core problem that Evernote could solve for them. It can also be overwhelming to look at my set up because I use so many notebooks and tags.

From now on I am going to try a new approach

  • Encourage them to do a small experiment to see if Evernote is something they could use to solve a problem.The great thing about doing a trial is that it takes a small time investment and allows you to ‘kick around the tires’ without trying to become an advanced user right away
  • Point them to useful resources that can help them tweak their system until the tool is truly personalized to their needs
  • Offer myself as a resource to help them ‘hack’ their system even further if they want to

So if you have been wondering about Evernote and how to make it useful, try the following steps to get started:

  1. Create an Evernote account and install it on all your devices
  2. Create 2 notebooks: Inbox and Archive.  Do this by renaming the default notebook to ‘Inbox’ and creating a new one called ‘Archive’.
  3. Pick one thing that you are going to use Evernote for and commit to doing that for a week.

During you trial run of Evernote, if you think of other ways you could be using it, go ahead and do so. Some will be good ideas and others you will abandon.

Its not a big deal because the purpose is exposure and not mastery.

I found the following resources very helpful in thinking about how I could use Evernote to keep organized

As you read them, try and incorporate any of the tips that look like they would be helpful to you.   After your trial, post a comment on this post to let me know how it went – or to ask any questions when you need help. I enjoy coming up with creative ways to use Evernote so it wil be fun for me to research for you.

You can also send me a DM @komasworld.

my early adopter bias

During lunch today I was discussing web applications with a friend and started thinking about some of Google’s products that are used widely today.  I realized that before Google Docs there was – and I had an account with them.  Before Google Voice, there was GrandCentral – I had an account with them too.

This trend is not limited to Google products though … I remember using ZohoCRM for a freelancing writing business several years ago before the whole suite of Zoho products existed.

I tried out Freshbooks when they first launched …

And don’t get me started with to-do apps or other productivity products.

I watched the launch of Android and could not wait for my contract on Verizon to complete so I could get my first non-blackberry smartphone … in my haste, I purchased the Droid Eris which had so little staying power that the first major update release it received caused it to morph into the most annoying phone in the world – random crashes, freezing when a phone call comes in, applications taking so long to open that I would forget what I was opening them for – I loved to hate that phone.

With all its problems, most people still did not have smartphones and those who did had iPhones, so it was still special.

I have even extended this trend to my job where I enthusiastically volunteered my time to help with the launch of the collaboration platform, Jive, into our company. What drives this constant need in me to become a user of applications that are just starting out – or implementations of established applications into spaces they have not been before?

It usually starts with the following phrase in my mind:

“There has got to be a better way…”

When I come across a problem that theoretically could be solved with technology, I imagine the solution in my mind and rabidly search for a solution.  I sign up for the free trials of services.  I kick the tires of many potential solutions – usually getting more and more frustrated, until I settle on something that meets 60-80% of my needs with the hope that the solution will evolve and one day fill in the gaps.  Sometimes the thing I am looking for seems outright silly and feels like something only a handful of people will buy.  And then a few months (or sometimes years) later I see it as a product or service.

Until today, I thought this was a weird quirk in me, but then it occurred to me that it is actually a valuable thing to be somebody who so viscerally feels these gaps.  In the past, I have looked for a solution built by somebody else – but today, I asked myself, why can’t I be the one to build it?

I had a crystallizing moment for several threads of purpose that have been floating around in my head and settled on a unifying idea for them.

In no particular order, the threads are:

  • my desire to demysitify application development for myself by learning web development
  • my realization that I have reached the limit of self teaching regarding graphic design and need to become more serious with turning raw talent and interest into mastery
  • my total buy-in with the Lean Startup principles I read in this book
  • my fascination with web and mobile apps
  • my constant search for new revenue streams to make my family’s dreams reality
  • and my early adopter bias that I described in the earlier part of this post

I formulated the unifying idea when I read the following description of a business model by Clayton M. Christensen in the abstract of an article he wrote for Harvard Business Review.

A business model has these key compnents:

  • a customer value proposition that fulfills an important job for the customer in a better way than anything competitors offer;
  • profit formula that lays out how the company makes money delivering the value proposition;
  • and the key resources and key processes needed to deliver that proposition.

So my early adopter bias is driven by identifying ‘jobs‘ that I want to do, and what I need to start doing is doing is before I go on an extensive search for a solution, I should design my ultimate service or product that would meet the need and then move into ‘testing mode’, first by searching to see if a solution exists and if not, finding ways to identify if there are other ‘beta guys’ like me that are trying to do the same ‘job’.

In parallel with this, my desire to become an accomplished web developer now has a purpose – because even if I may not e able to build a whole solution myself … I most certainly can put together a minimum viable product if I can learn the basic skills and start using them.

Today I begin my journey and I will post on this blog to take you along on the ride with me.

every system is perfect

‘Systems are perfectly designed to achieve the results they get’ – Organizational Scientist, Marvin Weisbord

I had an interesting discussion with my wife recently about the ‘mail sorting system’ in our house.  The system consists of a plastic container on our kitchen counter next to a powerful paper shredder and the goal is to make it as simple as possible for us to enter the house with the mail and sort it immediately to avoid a large build-up of mail.

In the ideal scenario, the outcome of this system would be that we are always up to date with the shredding of junkmail, filing of important documents and general sorting of mail.  Instead, our counter looks like this:

The content of our discussion can be summarized as follows:

I think we need a better system

My wife thinks she needs to comply better with the system

Because we are both analytical people the discussion was rich with strong rational for each viewpoint but I had a hard time articulating the essence of my argument.

The quote at the beginning of this article very elegantly encapsulates what I think about our mail sorting system – it is doing exactly what it is designed to do because part of the design of a system takes into account the constraints that actors of a system will perform.

So the best way to measure the suitability of a system is to look at its results and not what it is supposed to be doing.  Its design is perfect for the outcomes it is yielding.

In the case of our mail sorting system, it doesn’t properly account for the fact that when my wife brings the mail into the house, she has a screaming 6-month old who most likely needs a feeding and two other young kids (four and six year olds) in tow.  Her priorities in that moment are not to shred the credit card offer from Chase or to file away that medical bill – its to get everybody settled down and fed.  So her default action is to place the mail – all of it – into the plastic container with no further action.

Repeat this several days in a row and she ends up with a pretty intimidating pile of mail to sort and she begins feeling like it is a much larger task that she needs to set aside time for.

But don’t forget the 6-month, four and six year olds haven’t gone anywhere – so there is no time to ‘set aside’ … so the pile just keeps growing and growing.

The solution? I don’t have one yet, but I think this is a perfect candidate for the two rules of simplicity.

We have to start by looking holistically at the problem and trying different approaches with constant tweaking until we find a system that perfectly yields the result we want.