How To Prioritize After a Conference

Action Plan ScreenshotYesterday I returned from MicroConf Europe 2017 and my head has been full of ideas from the conference talks.

Today I spent the day compiling all of the ideas and prioritizing what to act on first. My result was an action plan and a prioritized list of projects.

Since I heard others at the conference wondering what to do first, I thought it would be helpful to write about my process.

This post also serves as an example of the tools that I’m developing for Strategic Life Tools to help others do self-guided life coaching to plan and design their life (though most tools will be less complicated than this one).

If you’re interested in using tools like this to improve your life, sign up on the early access list.
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My Next Startup: Strategic Life Tools

What does one do after one sells their business?

1) Work for the acquirer
2) Take a vacation
3) Start a new business

How about all three?

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My 2015 Report Card

Last year I wrote an extensive plan for what I wanted to accomplish in 2015. If you’re interested, you can download the Word document.

As part of developing my plan for 2016, I decided to grade myself on how well I achieved my 2015 plan. I know report cards can be stressful for some people. I personally view grades not as judgments, but as feedback on how I performed. Grades are a convenient language for me to rate myself and identify areas for improvement.

How did I do? Overall, I would give myself a C+. I achieved most of my important goals, but fell short on many others.

Below you can see the details of my report card, as it relates to my 2015 plan. I’ll be using this to improve how I plan the upcoming year.

If you’re interested in conducting your own annual review, check out Chris Guillibeau’s How To Conduct Your Own Annual Review, or see examples by reading Sacha Chua’s 2015 In Review or James Clear’s 2015 Annual Review.
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Surveys Are Not Customer Validation

This weekend I was coaching at Asheville Startup Weekend and noticed how many teams were relying on surveys as their “customer validation”.

While surveys can be useful during customer discovery to understand the problems of potential customers and how your idea might solve their problem, they don’t validate that you have a market. They only suggest that a market may exist for a solution like yours.

To validate a market, you must have potential customers give up something of value in exchange for the hope of your solution.

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How to Recover From Habit Failure

Habit failure happens for me often. I make a habit or resolution, and inevitably, I break it. Yet people still consider me a disciplined person who’s good at keeping resolutions.

I have a secret: I recover well.

Today, in fact, is a major recovery day. I’ve been working on six daily habits. I broke my daily networking habit last month when work got intense. Then this past Wednesday, I broke all the rest in one fell swoop.

Recovering from habit failure is an rarely discussed key to habit success. Today, in honor of restarting all of my daily habits, and to fulfill my monthly blog post habit, I’ll discuss my strategies for recovering from habit failure.
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How To Start Anything, When You’re Unsure How

Starting can be hard, especially when the path is unclear. We lose motivation quickly when we don’t know where to start.

Whether you want to change your habits, clean out your basement, write a book or develop a revolutionary new product, learning techniques for starting can help. Continue reading >

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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