2014 Goals: 3X KickoffLabs, Travel, Read, Write, & Simplify

What if you could triple your income, work less, & travel to spend more time with your family? It’s possible.

2014 Water

Triple KickoffLabs monthly recurring revenue. Over the last year we grew MRR by 73%. Our work in 2013 went into building a product that’s now ready to handle a much wider set of use cases and greatly increase the lifetime value of a customer. Follow us in 2014 to see exactly how.

Expand our international work-life integration adventure to two months. In 2013 we spent exactly one month living and working in Ireland. It was extremely rewarding. That month even ended up being one of the best for business in 2013. We’re going to take what we learned and expand this adventure to two months in 2014.

Read 12 books. I feel like I replaced a lot of crap TV in 2013 with crappy social media. Did staring at my TV get replaced by staring at my phone? I’m sure I’m not alone in that feeling. The quality of media you consume has an enormous impact on the quality work you produce.

So far so good. I bought a Kindle Paperwhite and I’m 27% of the way through the Steve Jobs biography. The best Kindle feature… not having Twitter and Facebook apps.

Write and publish a book. My goal to write more in 2013 just wasn’t inspiring enough. Having a huge target… a published book that generates revenue… is extremely exiting and motivating. There’s an english major in our family so you’d think this would have already happened. Guess I’m going to have to pick up the slack here. 🙂

Continue to simplify. Last years challenge still applies with some bullets.

  • End 2014 with less “stuff” than we started with. Continue selling and donating things we don’t wear or use regularly.
  • Simplify my garden. The last couple of years I’ve converted our front yard into a vegetable/fruit garden. Last year we weren’t around to enjoy the late harvest anyway. Just berries & quick growing cherry tomatoes this year.
  • Digitally I’d like to reduce the amount of photos in our library by at least 50% by removing the crap.

Outsourcing 2014

  • I’m looking at you 2014 Christmas lights. 🙂 Gabe and I are going to design what we want on an iPad and have professionals install them because “I’m worried daddy is going to fall off the ladder and I can’t catch him.” – Said Gabe.
  • Leverage a meal planning and preparation service. I love cooking… but only so many times in a week.
  • Get a pool guy until Gabe is old enough to clean the hot tub. Make sure he isn’t too attractive.

If you wondered how I did on 2013 goals you can read this. What are your goals for 2014?

Selling out your kids for fun and profit

I’m blessed with two amazing kids. My oldest was a big motivation for me to quit my job and start KickoffLabs. I think they’re my bootstrapping secret weapon. They need to eat. Lets not even talk about diapors or college funds. Point being… kids are expensive and can’t live on Ramen Noodles.

sellout_kids

We decided, at KickoffLabs, that we weren’t going to be ashamed of our size. We wanted it to be a strength. We wanted to appear boutique… which is what our service is right now… a niche boutique. The opposite of something like GoDaddy.  We needed to make it personal, so we got our kids involved.

They are featured on our company page and when we ask customers to tell people about us we say:

“Would you like to put a huge smile on the face of two scrappy co-founders with beautiful young children who like to eat three times a day? Do you like saving money?…”

Most companies are in a rush to grow up, look, and act bigger than they are. People expect more out of a big service (even if they shouldn’t). Why raise the bar too early? Embrace your size.

KickoffLabs is just Scott and Josh today, but our families took the plunge with us. We’ll take every advantage we can get. 🙂

French Fries on Sandwiches are Cool & Other Thoughts

photo 1I recently completed a cross country drive with a great friend that included a lot of culture/people watching that you don’t get to see if you live in Seattle, Silicon Valley, New York, etc. In no particular order here are some of my thoughts…

  • In the great depression the government invested in serious forward looking infrastructure that included large scale projects from efforts like TVA. The best we can do with billions of dollars now is repaving highways that Eisenhower built? That’s not innovative and it’s not going to make a bit of difference in the long run to the US economy. Where are the massive forward looking investments at a national level?
  • photo 5Lou Malnatis makes some seriously good deep dish pizza around Chicago. I’ll be ordering some from http://www.loumalnatis.com/ to share with Gretchen.
  • Minnesota is covered with wind-farms on farms as far as the eye can see. It seems that they are encouraging it pretty well by making it worth everyone’s while. FWI – I felt a lot of wind around the rest of the country as well that wasn’t being used.
  • I will never complain about a 4-5 hour flight across the country again.
  • Chicago felt like a city with a lot of energy on the verge of a new renaissance. Looked like more high tech companies around the city than I imaged.
  • Cubs fans are at least as crazy as Red Sox fans. After a 2+ hour rain delay that everyone spends drinking in a bar (in team apparel BTW) and they still packed the house.
  • photo 2I didn’t see a single Window Phone 7 device outside of the one my friend had once we left WA state. I think all 1.3 million of them went to Redmond. A LOT more Android phones than iphones around though outside the cities.
  • In a west coast city Starbucks it’s 90% Macs. In the middle of the country it’s 90% windows. But they are starting to use iPads and Kindles EVERYWHERE.
  • If you want to know what it’s like to visit another planet… go walking around Yellowstone national park while it’s snowing photo 1outside. Crazy.
  • 3G coverage, even on ATT, was nearly everywhere. We streamed an MLB game all the way from Seattle to Missoula MT only a couple of hiccups. (Yes, it was the same game for nearly 6 hours. ) The worst coverage was in Yellowstone and, for some reason, upper Ohio. Those people seem to live in the stone ages. But I never expected to be able to stream audio consistently from coast to coast.
  • Other than the lack of cell coverage Yellowstone was awesome… even in the middle of what felt like a blizzard.
  • The best roads were not tolled. Where does all the toll money go?
  • If you can stream internet radio coast to coast why do we fund public broadcasting anymore? Can’t anyone have their own show on the internet for the price of internet access?
  • photo 4I still can’t believe how quickly local news can travel around twitter. Found out about the Cubs rain delay and official start times by just running a twitter search for “Cubs” and watching the chatter. There’s location based opportunity though since their “by location” feature sucks. It goes too narrow. Opportunity++? (Nevermind. Twitter told me they’d poke out my eyes if I built a twitter client. )
  • Searching for food is more fun on Foursquare than Yelp. Foursquare seem to index tips and user comments. Yelp sticks with the basic business description. Example: Search for cookies in both apps. With Foursquare you’ll actually find out where you can get fresh baked cookies.
  • photo 3Driving on the top of the Tetons was awesome.
  • Photosynth, on the iPhone from Microsoft is awesome. Just wish it saved in higher resolutions.
  • Thought I was standing in the middle of an Apple ad. In Pittsburgh I literally saw a dude put headphones on someone and play them his demo from an iPad 2 with garage band.photo 4

If I ever do this again I’m turning around after the Badlands in SD. There is nothing more to see after that other than this…

photo 5

How I learned the Value of Meaningful Work

mortal-kombat-fatality-finish-himWhen you start a new job or formally meet new partners there are typically a round of introductions that may include the question “Tell everyone something about yourself that they wouldn’t know.”  With the internet this has become a more challenging endeavor.  Since I have no co-workers I figured I’d start re-introducing myself to the world on this blog.  So, here is something just about everyone reading this didn’t know…

When I was 11 years old I ran a magazine business. Well, calling it a business would probably be a stretch.  I convinced my friend we should try to make a living playing video games.  I figured that next to “Professional Toy Tester” a career playing video games had to be as good as it could get.  I fired up my Atari ST and we wrote game reviews and hard-hitting editorials that, for example, explained why it was OK for your kids to rip the heads off of characters in Mortal Kombat.

Each issue was self printed, copied, and stapled together en-mass.  We then convinced the managers of any rental shop within bike range to stock issues above the video game sections.  It turned out people liked them and the issues were being picked up by kids and parents alike.  It was awesome and it felt good to have people read what we wrote.   We simply forgot about the whole making money part at the time. Smile We were happy with distribution and doing something we loved at the time.

But doing something you love, even for a short while, can have long lasting impact on your life.  From this experience I can trace the following path…

1. Improved writing skills.

2. Learned about the state of the part in digital publishing tools.

3. Turned that into being editor of our high school paper for two years.

4. Leveraged that as a weapon to get into Vanderbilt and turned that education into my first career at Microsoft.

I also learned that because the work had meaning I was also able to rope other kids into helping us write, copy, staple, and distribute for free.  I may have simplified a few things along the way, but the seed was planted.  I loved doing meaningful work and was rewarded for it over the long run.

If I’m lucky someone reading this will have a copy for a second edition printing.  🙂

I’m not only the developer, I’m also a client

I remember how cheesy those ads all sounded, but it seems to be the norm lately. Maybe it has always been the case, but so many great apps have started with the developer tackling a personal problem. Such is the case with GoodDay.

I’ve lost 5 lbs since the middle of November by tracking goals for each meal and snack in the day. This included the holiday timeframe and, for sure, there have been some low points in my personal graphs, but having something simple enough I can open and track in under 30 seconds a day for 5 simple goals really can help you form good habits.

So far I’ve heard stories from users tracking their daily yoga, progress quitting smoking, and that they are drinking enough water in the day. These stories are motivational to me and I know it works because I’m also a client.

Friday will be my last day at Telligent

photo (2)Three and half years ago I left Microsoft to join Telligent.  At the time, Microsoft didn’t seem interested in being a player in the social software space, and I decided—to get the opportunity I was looking for–it was time to leave.   Telligent represented a tremendous opportunity to be part of the leadership for a growing company that has a truly rare opportunity to be very disruptive, dominate the social software space, and make a real difference in people’s lives.  It’s incredibly difficult to find a combination as cool as that in the software industry, and that remains true today.

In my time at Telligent, I’ve had a chance to ship 1.0 versions of the Telligent Enterprise, Analytics and Mobile products and continue to grow the Telligent Evolution platform with the addition of wiki, social profiles, and QnA applications.  Along the way, I’ve also had an opportunity to implement developer quality standards and introduce Telligent to the Program Management and Quality Assurance disciplines.

I’m grateful to Rob, Patrick and everyone else at Telligent for the opportunities I’ve been given and the wonderful people I’ve had the chance to meet and work with here.  I’m so incredibly proud of the work we’ve all accomplished as a team to get Telligent into the position it’s in today.  From the outside, I’ll be rooting for everyone’s continued successes. 

My co-workers, friends and the opportunity have made this an incredibly hard decision for me, but I’m making the choice to join the entrepreneurial scene and develop some projects and business ideas I’ve been putting off for a while.  In the end, it was a decision that really came down to a lot of personal timing and stars aligning.  I’ll miss everyone almost as much as I’ll miss ordering Texas meat by the pound. Smile

If you want to know what I’m doing next, you’ll have to follow my blog or twitter feed.  My personal email address is  jledgard@gmail.com and my business address after Friday is josh@evolvingwe.com.  This will get interesting.  Smile