The Results: 10 Days of Keeping in Touch

Three weeks ago I started My 10 Day Experiment in Keeping in Touch. My goal was to contact a different person each day that I had fallen out of touch with and re-connect.

When I wrote the post, I thought I’d use a formula: say hi, give them some useful piece of information and ask them one question. I rarely did that.

Some people I wrote long e-mails to, some I wrote short e-mails. Sometimes I gave them an update on my life first, sometimes I just asked a question. Every e-mail wound up being customized and personal.

It depended on who I was writing, what our relationship was and what I was feeling in the moment. I aimed for an authentic connection first and foremost.

The experiment succeeded. I haven’t mastered the art of staying in touch, but I’m encouraged by my initial results.

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My 10 Day Experiment In Keeping In Touch

Relationships are both fun and valuable. That’s my takeaway from Business of Software this year.

Not that I didn’t know it before. But this year I hit my stride. I connected with more people, more deeply, than I ever have before.

Yes, I flitted around, trying to meeting new people—sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

But this year I had the specific aim of deepening my existing relationships. 

I spent time catching up with people and getting back in touch. I hosted a dinner Saturday night to spend intimate time with a smaller group. I reached out before and after to people I knew.

But the reality is that after a conference, life takes over.

Swept up in the whirlwind of trying to run a business, have a life and pursue exciting projects, I forget to stay in touch with people. And so those relationships that could be so much more fade a bit. We’re still connected, but the energy is lost.

The value of a conference like Business of Software is the people.

It’s a small conference—capped at 400 attendees—and everyone there is facing similar challenges running a software company. Being around others facing the same challenges as you, who speak the same language, energizes you—even if you’re an introvert like me (or maybe especially so). Wouldn’t it be great to keep that energy high throughout the year? Continue reading >

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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