Archive for May, 2009

Courage and the entrepreneur

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Sometimes I think I’m nuts. Even though I’m more sane than others.  But seriously, what am I thinking, doing my own business? Where’s the safety net in that??

Sometimes I think I’m dense. Even though I got a hecka lot of education, and feel like I’m rather witty.  This “dense” thing comes mostly when I compare myself to others.

Sometimes I’m lonely. Even though I have a terrific wife and family support, and thousands upon thousands of people who read my stuff in my blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.  But when I’m sitting in my office, all by myself, with hours to go in the day, wondering which thing I should do next, I wish I had a team working with me.

Sometimes I feel poor. Especially recently as we paid for a new baby, a broken van and car, my doctor’s visit to get my calf looked at, working on getting our basement finished, and payroll… but then I think about the families I met in Mexico who know what poor, and poverty, and hunger, are, in a way that i’ll never have to know.

Usually I’m hungry. Not for food, but for success.  Actually, not even crazy-wild success, just the kind of success that pays the bills for a family with a modest lifestyle.  That’s what i told my publisher, and why I swore I’d make money from book sales.

Most of the times I’m scared. Scared of failing.  Or scared to take steps backwards.  I often wonder if I’m the right guy for the job, and then I just get back to work, day after day, to get the job done the best I can, and hope that indeed, I could be the right guy for this job.

I’m an entrepreneur.

I feel privileged, and hope that I don’t mess this up.

I feel like this is bigger than me… much bigger than me.

I feel like thousands of people need me to keep on plugging along, as my stuff (whether it’s JibberJobber or my books or DVD or blogs whatever) are making a difference to them.

I feel like my future is in MY hands. Not the CEO of Enron, or some board of directors, or some cranky boss… but my own hands.  Please let me not screw this up.

I’m an entrepreneur. While it isn’t easy, it’s rewarding.  I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

Fake Metrics

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

I’ve been thinking about something for years… since before I started JibberJobber.  A bit of history…

Back in the olden days, just 4 years ago, my old boss would talk about the number of hits on website.  When he reported hits the developers would snicker, because hits were not very well defined.

Most executives wanted to know how many people visited the website (unique visitors) or how many pages they looked at (page views).  But this notion of “hits”…. hm… let me tell you what a hit was:

Hit: the number of times our server served something.  You (the normal human being) thinks it’s something logical, like perhaps unique visitors or page views… but each time our server served an image we got a hit.

Get that?  If a page has 3 images on it, you get 3 hits.  Want to multiply your hits by 10?  Put 27 more images on the page, and now you got 30 hits!  Want to really impress the suits?  Put 300 tiny 1×1 (pixel) images on the site, you can even make them transparent (so they are invisible), and you get 300 hits!

Yippee!!!!

The programmers saw right past it.  The suits didn’t.

So there’s my introduction to this fake metrics crap.  If you like this stuff then pick up one of my favorite books, How to Lie With Statistics.

Now, fastforward to today.  There are some other metrics that a business like JibberJobber would measure.

Users.

What is a user on JibberJobber?  If I wanted to impress someone I would tell them the number of people who have signed up… which is usually called a “user.”

Not so.  Absolutely not so.

Let me differentiate between:

Signups: this is anyone who has signed up… regardless of whether they have ever logged in or not (much less use the system.  This is a super-easy metric to report, but most times I hear it I think it’s a fake number.

Users: Like… LinkedIn has 40M users.  NO, they don’t.  They have had 40 million people signup….!  I think users are people who… use the system.

Upgrades: These are people who fork over the loot… I’ve had peope in JibberJobber upgrade the day they signed up… without ever using the system.  Love that, of course… but it doesn’t guarantee they’ll be a “user.”

There’s a terrific post on TechCrunch talking about a freemium site called Evernote – the post is titled Evernote Stats: One Million Registered Users, 360,000 Active, 13,755 Paid

I love this because off the bat it declares the signups (which they call “registered users,” the users “which they call “active,” and the upgrades.  Nice differentiation!

Now, the concept on premium upgrades, conversion percentage, etc. is a totally different discussion (and I disagree with how TC got the percentages)… but this is a good place to start talking about real metrics.

99 Designs – graphics artists contests

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Here’s a site I meant to bookmark… the model seems super-cool… I was trying to remember what it was, and even asked on Twitter a while back, but could not forthelifeofme figure it out.

Until recently.

I finally came across 99 Designs (again)… it is contest based.  As of now they say they have 35,359 “talented designers” who are anxious to participate in contests for logo design, website design, etc.  Here’s how it works:

Step 1: create your design brief (costs $39 USD)

Step 2: set your budget (usually from $100 to $600, paid to the person who wins the contest)

Step 3: work with the designers (rate the designs and give feedback to those who submit designs)

Step 4: choose your favorite design (YOU choose the winner and then get the art with the copyright)

I don’t have any projects right now, and honestly would rather hire a full-time graphics designer,… but I absolutely love this idea.

It’s good to have friends like Chip Hartman

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

I have liked Chip Hartman from the minute I met him… I love his creativity and sense of humor.  And he’s a genuinely cool guy, to boot!  Here’s an image he made for my new boy (this is not a pic of my son) – click the image to go to Chip’s site:

Thanks Chip – very clever!

My Twitter Baby

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Yesterday my wife gave birth to our fifth child.  Mom and baby are healthy, and we feel very blessed.  

I didn’t intend to share much about what was going on, as we’ve chosen to keep our personal life fairly personal… so all I did was write a blog post about going to the hospital (just a few sentences).  

When we got to the hospital, however, I found out we had a really nice internet connection. So I jumped on my email.  And I got on twitter.  And I had the crazy idea of sharing more than I intended about the birth.  Of course, I wanted to tie it into me, and my business, which is our life, and how we’re going to pay for this kid :p  here’s what I tweeted:

I wondered if I crossed a personal/private line, but the reactions I got were terrific!  It was fun, and I started to get some phenominal responses… you can see the thread at either of these (see jasonalba or #babytime (which has less)).  Really fun stuff, as you follow my tweets and some of the responses I got from others.

I was amazed, also, at how many Facebook responses I got.  On Facebook, I am Friends with a lot of people who know my wife… and I’m sure they were happy to get the news and updates.

I just spent an hour going through the reactions, and for the sake of recording history, I grabbed a few screen snippets of a few of my favorite parts of the conversations…. enjoy!

Here’s all of my tweets from the hospital… notice I tried to not flood the twittersphere with too much info.

An otherwise brilliant person, Mr. Druid (a good friend) was the only person who didn’t quite get the contest and submitted a guess on weight instead of time… !

Accused of not being supportive? Nah, not me :p

We kind of had a funky-cool communication thing going on… still, I wondered how many people (mostly women) would have echoed Gayle’s sentiments? (Gayle is a JibberJobber partner)

LOL – I thought my wife might not be too keen on this, but it worked out for us (maybe if I tweeted more she’d have been livid… )

After much frustration with all of the chair-things for me, I broke down and CUSSED!  Robert’s reply was classic :)

This was hillarious – advice from the wife of a guy who I used to work with.  I read this and then headed out for food :p

My coauthor, aka Mr. Sensitive, offering to help kill some time at the hospital.  I kindly declined his offer :p  ROFL

Al summed it up, and helped me realize there were people who were actually reading all of the updates!

This was a cool affirmation from Mari, queen of Facebook.

I was hopeful that @cnn would have picked up on this – alas, apparently they hadn’t :(

Hillarious.  If you have a fifth because of this, you have to name him Jason.  Or her Jason.  

Here’s the winner – he beat out the next closest by 3 minutes!

What started out as “should I??” became a really fun way to get to know my contacts and friends better!