Above and Below

Hopefully you’ve had a more productive day than I have. I knew exactly what I had to do today for my startup, and yet I found all sorts of things to do instead.

I’ve come to the opinion most of the time most people know exactly what they should be doing to finish their software, build their business, make something, love somebody. But it’s as scary as walking across a room full of hissing, crawling snakes, and it’s so easy to turn back again and again.

I don’t have any 12 step plans or five bullet point posts to make it any easier to make that walk. But there is some comfort knowing anybody who wants to create has to make that walk every time, and everybody “important” you’ve ever heard of made that damn walk ahead of you.

What’s more, if you can see how what you are trying to do actually makes this world even a minutely better place, I think you can levitate at least some of the time right over those snakes.

Give it a try.

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Bob WalshAbove and Below

Been there, done that, and you get the ebook free

The Developer's Code

Every so often, someone very nice who is walking ahead of you on the Startup Path will pass along information that can save you much pain.

Ka Wai Cheung, of Chicago-based web development shop We Are Mammoth is one such guy, and his new free ebook can save you from making more mistakes than you ever thought possible.

The Developer’s <code> is 50 lessons Ka Wai has learned over the past ten years, building sites and web apps. It’s an opinionated approach to how to create an app – “opinionated” like in Ruby on Rails, not just some guy (me) sprouting off.

Here’s how these pithy, short and useful lessons are grouped:

Check it out.

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Been there, done that, and you get the ebook free

Are you one of the few, the proud, the event organizers?

My good friend Corey Maass is just about ready to release Cue, an awesome app for people who organize events. Whether its a full blown conference, a meetup or just your seven-year-old’s birthday party, Cue gives you a control dashboard of what everyone needs to do by when and how they prefer to be communicated with. One click lets you ping everyone involved, by their preferred means of communication.

Corey needs beta testers the way I need to lose weight (urgently). If you’ve got any sort of event coming up or in the wings, why not make it easier on yourself and become a Cue beta tester today? Visit http://cueapp.com right now to sign up, use invite code “47hats” to get to the front of the line. You will be glad you did.

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Are you one of the few, the proud, the event organizers?

They’re starting to notice…

Among the dozen or so “flack shots” e-mails that I get in a day, one caught my eye about 10 minutes ago.

Dan Rather Reports

DALLAS (May 12, 2011) – Tuesday’s “Dan Rather Reports” presents a revealing behind-the-scenes look at Hashable – one of the many new social-media startup companies trying to prove they have what it takes to launch a successful social media platform  in a highly competitive new tech landscape.

Everyone wants to create the next Twitter or Foursquare, to get in on the venture capital that has suddenly started flowing once again into hot new tech startups.  “Dan Rather Reports” investigates what makes a mobile application, and the company behind it, successful.  As they set out to become the next big name in social media, Hashable created a free mobile application that serves as a rolodex for the Twitter age, an attempt to merge mobile social networking with traditional business networking.

Does Hashable have what it takes to break through the clutter? And even if it does, will it make money? Or is all the funding flowing to Hashable and other startups a sign of yet another bubble? “Dan Rather Reports” explored these questions speaking to key staff members at Hashable about their motivation, vision,  contacts, angel funding, potential users, and – possibly most importantly in today’s world – their buzz. From development and marketing meetings to investor pitches and user meet-ups, Hashable provided “Dan Rather Reports” a unique inside look at their journey  as they prepared to launch at the year’s most important tech conference, South by Southwest in Austin, TX.

“Dan Rather Reports: The New Tech Landscape” premieres on HDNet, Tuesday, May 17 at 8:00 p.m. ET with an encore at 11:00 p.m. ET.

To preview the show, visit: http://www.hd.net/blogs/2011/05/hashable/

If you go to the webpage for the show and play the two video clips, you’re going to be feeling a duh! moment. There’s Dan Rather talking to Michael Yavonditte, Founder of Hashable, about whether some startups are built to flip not to grow and are we really in the middle of a “mobile tsunami” that is going to change everything?


Dan Rather, in my opinion, is and has always been an excellent reporter locked in the boob tube trying to explain reality to average viewers. He’s not a programmer. He’s not a startup founder. He’s a reporter trying to make sense of the aptly named mobile tsunami of change that startups are sending downriver to the rest of society.

I wonder what they’ll think of what we’re doing when they realize that all the rules they thought applied are about to go out the window–again?

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They’re starting to notice…

Inbox Zero is dead for me

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My Inbox Zero sandcastle

For as many years as I’ve had e-mail, I’ve tried to keep my inbox empty. First it was because I liked neatness, then because David Allen’s GTD mandated it, and then because Merlin Mann came up with some excellent techniques for keeping your inbox empty.

The problem is, the problem has gone from out-of-control to beyond my control. I think it’s actually now beyond anybody’s control.

It’s like trying to keep the sea from washing away your sandcastle. You could do it early on – a folder or tag for every email you wanted to keep, a spam filter to get rid of spam. Those techniques worked not because they are effective, but because the ocean of email had not risen to your particular sandcastle.

And now it has. Five years ago, RSS was the bomb, email was overrun with spam, and the sheer volume of information from people you individually want to be in contact with had not flooded your inbox. For me, the tide has come in as every company, organization, and person I voluntarily deal with on the web lays claim to a chunk of my attention via email. I can’t blame them – I too want you to read my email. You – startup founder, microISV, what have you – do too.

Call this a self-inflicted wound if you must; but the reality is whether you dump everything from your inbox to some other folder or just let your inbox fill up with thousands of messages, it’s impossible to even file, let alone act on every single message that comes down the pike.

There is hope: I’m reading Douglas C. Merrill’s “Getting Organized in the Google Era” right now and maybe the biggest point that he makes that I’ve taken to heart is we’ve reached a point in the evolution of information where search isn’t justifiable strategy, it’s the only viable strategy.

So as of today I’m giving up keeping my inbox at zero, and will declare daily victory if I can only flag and capture emails I need to act on into OmniFocus which is my GTD master program. No more nice neat folders – it all gets crammed  into “Reference” once I’ve picked and flagged what I must do from the stream. File them all, and let search sort them out.

Incidentally, I’ve noticed that searching my IMAP-centralized Gmail in Chrome is about eight times slower than searching for the exact same term on my iMac in Mail. This could be because I’ve been singularly cursed by the gods of Google, or maybe everybody else has the same issue. Considering you can pick up a 2 terabyte hard disk for about $100, I’ll let Google continue to aggregate my email in the cloud so I can get it from anywhere, but will rely on my fast and trusty desktop legacy OS X Mail app to find what I need fast.

How about you? How are you turning the few nuggets of real, actionable e-mail into tasks that you can define, work on, and complete? I’d love to hear about how you do it – please comment.


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Bob WalshInbox Zero is dead for me

Three things quick

First off, a hardy thanks to those who commented on this post, or tweeted, or emailed, or IM’ed, or called. Like the song says, I get by with a little help from my friends…

Speaking of help, if you need to kick your web site into a higher gear, you could do worse than attend AppSumo’s Action Class today at noon, PST. Your’s truly will be critiquing the sites of nine brave volunteers already picked. I think it will be worth your while.

And lastly, now there’s only 16 days before GE stops paying for your copy of Do the Work. at Amazon. Tick Tock! And by the way, you in no way need to own a Kindle to read Kindle books – Amazon has free reading/managing apps for every conceivable platform, including the one you are reading this on. In fact, personally I do all my reading on an iPad, except like, in sunlight.

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Bob WalshThree things quick

I’m Back. Here’s Why.

For the past two months, hell for the past 3 decades, every time I sit down in front of computer to create I have to push myself to do it. It’s like a force field or some sort of invisble mind-sucking SciFi monster pushing me away from creating. I can spend all day answering emails, surfing the web, looking for new Mac or iOS apps to buy, doing essentially worthless things. But try and write, try and create, and a truckload of rationalizations, excuses, distractions, emotions and other crap springs out of my screen like some sort of weird airbag.

For months I’ve known StartupToDo.com was deader than the half-eaten lizards one of my cats likes to bring in. I’d even figured out what I need to do to “Pivot” (polite-speak for dumping this baby into the garbage and starting over) and just maybe ship something that people want. And for about the same time I could not bring myself to posting to this blog.

As creatively constipated as I’ve been, there would be days, or at least hours, when I could confront my own Resistance and it would fade for a time. And during that time, I could create, I could have a few brief hours of just being able to make things to have fun we were all promised as children.

So how and why am I writing this?

The how is simple: Steven Pressfield’s Do the Work. Kindle version free at Amazon for another 18 days. It’s my garlic and Star of David to wave in the face of all the rationalizations and excuses Resistance puts in front of me.

When I think, it’s not the best time of day for me to be creating, or that I need to check email again, or I’m too tired, or that I can’t succeed because I’m whatever, or I really should go do this or that instead; when Resistance in its seductive voice whispers, “relax, take it easy, you can do that later, you can’t do it at all” I think of this one short book I’ve read a dozen times. And I pause – is this reality or just Resistance?

Nearly every time, it’s Resistance, that enemy with a thousand faces and 10,000 lies. It will fuck up your head, play on your self-doubts, do what it takes so you can’t do what you can do and create something.

The why is simple too: When you look, really look, at what’s in your way, at the excuses/rationalizations keeping you from creating, they fade. This post is my way of looking at Resistance in the face. One small victory. Think of it as a small note smuggled out to the prisoner in the cell next to mine to not give up hope.

If you’ve read this far, but you haven’t downloaded Do the Work, ask yourself why.

It’s not the cost – it’s free, thanks to a bit of unexpected corporate generousity. It’s not that you can’t read it – you’re reading this, afterall. It’s not that you don’t need any self-help crap, or you’re too busy or you should be doing something important, or you’ll get to it next week, month or year. Unless you are doing this instant the one creative thing that above all else you exist to do, you’ve bought into the same con that derails so many of us.

If you’re pissed off, indignant, angry that I just wasted your time, as yourself why – I’m just some guy with a blog.

The one thing good about Resistance is it’s the ultimate game cheat – the more it pushes you away from something, the more likely that’s what you need to be doing.

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Bob WalshI’m Back. Here’s Why.

Poking you about Poke the Box

I’d like ask you to do one small thing.

Not for me – for you.

Right now buy Seth Godin’s about-to-be-unleashed Poke the Box (Kindle version).

While it still in experimental pre-release the bigger the buzz, the lower the price mode and it costs one buck.

Don’t cycle through all the old lame excuses – He’s a marketer, he wears funny glasses, he doesn’t understand all the work I have to, how hard it is to write an app, blah, blah, blah – just buy the book!

Before it’s released Tuesday and the price goes back up.

Tuesday is when everybody you know will be recommending you should read Poke the Box because it reads as if this guy was writing about you.

You can buy me a beer at the next conference with the money you save.

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Bob WalshPoking you about Poke the Box

A real Knowledge Factory…

If you are wondering what the big deal is about Seth Godin’s Domino Project, watch this video:

While the factory machinery, Linotype machines and such are gone, the process is just as mechanical and industrial today as 60 years ago. If that sounds as crazy as building and selling a “car” that’s a mechanical horse pulling a metal cart controlled with wire reins, you’re right.

By the way, if you know who Seth Godin is, if you’ve ever read any of his books, if you’ve ever heard of permission marketing, tribes, linchpins or purple cows, do yourself a BIG favor and go buy, for a measly buck, Poke the Box, before it starts to ship March 1. You will be glad you did.

(Thanks to Thomas Fiffer for sharing this video his sister-in-law, Sharon Fiffer found.)

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Bob WalshA real Knowledge Factory…