My Word of the Year

In prior years, I wrote resolutions, picked a motto and chose verbs for the year.

This year I’m picking a single word.

Picking a word of the year no doubt has been a long, noble tradition for some people. In a strange twist of fate, my word of the year came to me via a circuitous route.

My friend Justina throws a New Year’s Day party each year, and this year asked her guests to pick a word for the year. She got the idea from Christine Kane’s Word of the Year worksheet. Christine Kane in turn was inspired by Kathy LaMotte, who picks a word every year instead of a resolution. Kathy happens to be married to my long-time friend and mentor, Eric Jackson. And it was through discussions with Eric that I realized my own word for 2014.

What is the word?
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12 Ways To Find Help for Your Open Source Projects

At Barcamp Boston yesterday I held a session to answer a question: how to you recruit people to help out on your open source and side projects?

The problem is one that vexes many developers. You develop a useful bit of code. Maybe it’s for your own use or maybe you created it during a hackathon. Then you want to give back to the community. So you open source it and upload it to github. Maybe you create a web page for it and a bit of documentation.

But then the requests start coming: can you fix this bug? Can you add this piece of functionality? Can you help me use it?

And while you’d love to develop and support it, you don’t have the amount of free time it requires. Yet it’s clearly useful to people. So the question then becomes: can you recruit other people to help?

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Why You Should Apply to Seth Godin’s 2013 Internship

Yesterday Seth Godin announced his 4th internship program. The aim: to change the world. Or, in his words, build something “useful, generous and powerful”.

If you have the time and the skills, you should apply.

Why Apply?

Everyone wants to work with Seth Godin. Here’s a guy whose written over a dozen books, started two companies and launched a handful of other successful projects. He’s had failures to give him wisdom and successes to give him confidence. Who wouldn’t want to work with him?

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Crossing the Chasm Revisited

Today I attended MassTLC’s “Crossing the Chasm – What has Changed in the Past Two Decades?”. At the event Geoffrey Moore spoke about what he’s learned in the past 20+ years since publishing the seminal book Crossing the Chasm, which taught how technologies get adopted and strategies for moving from early adopter customers into the mass market.

Below I mix my own remembrances from Crossing the Chasm with my notes from today. To learn more, definitely check out Crossing the Chasm, Inside the Tornado and Geoffrey Moore’s more recent books on the subject.

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What Is Your 100-Year Goal?

Steven Covey wrote: Begin with the end in mind.

As an exercise, he encouraged you to think of your funeral. Imagine how people felt about your death, what they say in your honor.

I encourage you to think even further. What is your 100-year goal?

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Habits vs Recurring Tasks

I’ve been on a quest to add helpful habits to my life. But what I’ve really been doing is setting recurring tasks.

There’s a difference.

I woke up this morning and went about my business. I created my to do list:

  • Answer e-mails
  • Talk to a customer
  • Exercise

All sounds great, right? But I forgot one: writing.

Only 5 days ago I committed to writing 500 words a day in an effort to develop a habit of writing daily. I even created a spreadsheet to track how many words I write each day, to make sure I don’t miss days.

Yet today I almost did.

I went blissfully through my day checking off items on my to-do list. I went out for my “daily” run (which isn’t exactly daily yet). After I got back, I jumped in the shower. Then it hit me: I had forgotten to add writing to my to-do list.

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In Search of a Universal Self-Tracking App

I’m a data geek and a personal improvement fanatic.

I want to improve my personal habits, skills and behaviors. I strive to be healthy, happy and productive.

And, for the most part, I am.

One way I achieve this is by tracking my life. Self-tracking for me has two benefits:

  1. Increased Awareness
    The simple act of tracking makes me self-aware and helps me to change my behaviors. Tracking calories helps me lose weight, even when I don’t consciously change my diet. Wearing my FitBit causes me to exercise more, even though I rarely look at the data afterwards.
  2. Actionable Data 
    Memory can be unreliable. Not only do we forget details, we alter them as new experiences change our perception of old ones. Confirmation bias can make us conveniently forget details that don’t support the conclusion we want. Tracking information gives me a more objective view, helping me to make better decisions.

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Reigniting Habits

I don’t retain habits well. My habits wax and wane. They need constant renewal.

I derive pleasure from seeking out new things. Too often that squeezes out the old, even when the old helps me live my life more effectively.

Luckily, I’ve discovered it’s easier to re-ignite old habits than to start new ones. Each time I fail to maintain a habit, I don’t beat myself up. I let it go until I’m in a place to rekindle. Until I have the energy to fan the flames and build my habit anew.

I am in that place again.

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Resources to Learn About Lean Startup

Yesterday I did a quick introduction to the Lean Startup methodology at the Asheville Lean Startup Circle. I focused on three key concepts: validated learning, minimum viable products and the build-measure-learn cycle. You can view my slides here.

If you’ve read Why Economic Developers Need Lean Startups or Lean Startup Conference Notes, you already know some  resources for learning about Lean Startup. Below I update this list to include resources I missed in those posts. Please add other resources I missed in the comments.
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Lean Startup Conference Notes

The Lean Startup Conference happened today in San Francisco. Here in Asheville, we livestreamed the conference at Mojo Coworking. Below are my notes from some of the talks, links to other people’s notes and links to other Lean Startup resources. I’ll be expanding this post throughout the week, so check back later in the week or follow me on Twitter for updates.

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