Scare yourself in 2013 with one big goal

In college I had my George Costanza moment. It’s not that every decision I’d ever made was wrong, I just realized if I never challenged myself to do anything differently my life was never going to progress. I decided to take classes that pushed me, buy cloths in styles I never saw myself in, turn down a Microsoft internship for one with a smaller company that offered more opportunity, etc.

Scaring yourself in order to grow is something you have to constantly work on. Three years ago we had Gabe. Two years ago I left a great job to start KickoffLabs with Scott. Last year we added Cora to our family. So, without an easy win this year what am I going to do?

Move the family to Ireland for at least a month

That’s it. One big goal. To start trying out the “New Rich” concepts of location independent work + life experiences. This is simple if you’re single… but we’re going to figure out what it means with a family.

I was scared to even tell Gretchen that I wanted to do something like this. That was dumb. She got it and was 100% onboard and we’re pushing each other to make it possible.

It’s going to be a grand experiment in life simplification. Our goal is to live in a city without all the amenities we currently call home.

  • My job can be done anywhere with wifi.
  • Gretchen wants to spend more time with the kids.
  • It’s just as hard to travel with a family of four for a week as it is for any longer period of time.
  • When you compare short term rentals internationally you can get great deals compared to Hotel stays.
  • Our kids are young enough now that we aren’t tied down.

It’s going to require some of my other 2013 goals to get accomplished in order to make this possible and repeatable if we like it. This goal has already proven to be a great motivational tool for Gretchen and I to start doing things we’ve been putting off for too long.

We may have added kids to our lives, but we aren’t going to wait for retirement to start “living” again. We’re going to live more, now, as a family than we did before we had kids.

Simplifying 2013

simplify

Simplify. We’ve had a sign that says this in our kitchen for several years, but starting KickoffLabs really drove the value of simplification home for me.

With limited resources (and your time on this planet is a limited resource) the best answer isn’t to improve, fix, or add things until you’re happy. The best answer is often to cut stuff, remove clutter, and focus on a few awesome things. To that end I offer you some simplification goals for 2013.

Reduce the number of your online personas and virtual things

Managing virtual things is as bad or worse than managing all your real possessions. For me this means:

  • Dropping “EvolvingWe” and simplifying my own site down to joshledgard.com.
  • Killing off at least one of the 3 personal email addresses I have.
  • Removing our family blog ledgards.com and porting the recipes over to joshledgard.com. We set this up before we realized Facebook would be the way we share stuff about the kids.
  • Deleting any app off my phone that hasn’t been used in a month.
  • Deleting our picture library down to ones we’re thrilled to have showing on the Apple TV. Do we need 11,000 photos?
  • There is music in my library I don’t know why I bought. Why do I carry it around on my phone?

Finish 2013 with significantly less physical stuff than you started with

When you get a house you realize that you begin filling it with stuff. When you have two kids it gets worse. I’m tired of owning, maintaining, storing, and managing all the stuff in our lives.

Gretchen and I briefly started looking into downsizing our lives into a condo. I dream we still might… but I’ll settle for ending 2013 by getting rid of more stuff than we acquire. I ended 2012 by selling off a bunch of things, but there is a LOT more to go through. You’re on the chopping block if you are:

  • Crappy plastic kids toy that makes repetitive noises and requires a tiny screwdriver to replace batteries.
  • Clothing I don’t wear during the season it’s are appropriate for.
  • Stuff the kids have outgrown. We’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of stuff passed onto us and it’s about time we do the same thing for some other parents.
  • Sporting equipment not used in the most recent season.
  • Video games or physical media not played in months.

Only purchase the best stuff

You can save time and money by owning less stuff. Then you can pour your extra dollars and attention into things you appreciate. After family and friends consider only purchasing things you really need, love, or will save you time. Use the money you saved not buying crap to buy higher quality items.

Consider it the “Applefication” of our lives. Stuff that breaks down and requires maintenance or extra effort to use just isn’t worth it. Stuff that just works saves you time. For example:

  • No more home PC. We just replaced it with a big hard drive and cloud storage. With laptops and iDevices that’s essentially what the PC had become to us anyway.
  • Replaced a car with one that requires less costly and routine maintenance/upkeep.
  • Replaced our boring point and shoot camera with a nice Cannon T4i. The iPhones replaced the point and shoot, but now if we want to take great looking pictures we can tell the difference in quality. 🙂
  • Higher quality clothing that we love, will wear frequently, and will last.
  • Kids toys that serve an educational purpose, imaginative play, or offer longer lasting value. We haven’t been buying Gabe tons of Hotwheels… just a few individual high quality cars from Cars as rewards.

We’ve had to tell Grandparents and friends they they are buying too much stuff for our kids. We’d like the kids to appreciate what they have and spend more time playing and learning with us.

Dissolve any side projects that aren’t paying off

Side projects are great if you are getting something out of them. But, I’ve been bad at knowing when to cut them off properly.

  • I’d been selling a series of videos around learning mobile app development. The videos are still good, but are quickly getting outdated. They don’t make enough money to be worth maintaining. So I’m going to figure out how to give them away for free.
  • I have two mobile apps in the App Store that I’m going to sell to another owner or just give away for free.
  • I had a website that talked about consulting work I could do. I hated it. I removed it.

Most of my income comes from KickoffLabs. The business also offers plenty of opportunities for side projects and experiments to keep me busy in the next year.

Ignore haters and the competition

When you run a business like KickoffLabs it’s hard not to take everything personally. What’s worse is that if you are doing things right there are a certain number of people who just won’t like you and your business. They’ll feel it should all be free or that it’s “fucking terrible that you don’t offer Y as well”. I’ve had to learn to stop writing back to these people other than “Thanks for your suggestion.”

I also used to watch competitors too closely. I’ve now un-followed them on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. I’m running the best race I can. Customers will tell me the important differences. If the competition does something that’s newsworthy I’ll hear about it anyway. Watching their every tweet wasn’t getting me anywhere and it wasn’t informing our plans.

That was a long post on simplification. I should probably have cut some stuff.

Josh

Quick Tips for Upgrading to PhoneGap 1.0 with OneDayApp

trailerLast week the PhoneGap team released version 1.0.  I’m a big fan of the PhoneGap platform because it lets me build amazing apps for mobile devices and keep my client side web skills sharp.  No need to re-learn java or Objective-C.  I’m happy to say that the code that comes with the OneDayApp training series is 100% compatible with the 1.0 release!

 

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If you have the OneDayApp series and the code for Local Note that it comes with here are some tips for 1.0.

Local Note Code PhoneGap 1.0 Upgrade Tips

1. You don’t have to do anything.  If you don’t want to upgrade your app to 1.0 then you don’t have to change anything. This is, in fact, the easiest option.  The code from OneDayApp should continue to work with the older builds of PhoneGap that you had installed.

2. The cleanest path to upgrading your app is the following set of steps.

A. Make sure Xcode is closed when you install the latest PhoneGap. (I Recommend an uninstall first. )

B. Install PhoneGap 1.0.  Follow those instructions. Smile

C. Create a new project from scratch.

D. Migrate your apps files over to the new project. Note that new directory layout and location of the icons and splash screens.  It’s OK to overwrite the sample files.

E. Point your script files to the new Phonegap script library.

F. Don’t forget to minimize the phonegap script when you ship your app. The newer builds of Phonegap are not pre-minimized for you.

G. Make sure you migrate your plist file settings, enable location, turn off acceleration detection (if not in use), and only enable the services your app is using.

H. Update the plist settings for bundle ID and name before you submit to the store again.

I. Don’t forget to test on a real device as per usual.

If you have an issue with OneDayApp and PhoneGap 1.0 don’t hesitate to let me know.

Thanks,

Josh

Google Sucks at Authentication UX

Like a lot of entrepreneurs I have a love/hate relationship with google.  But I’m just going to come out and say they suck at UX.  I know that’s not a popular opinion. Everyone praises them for their fast and simple looking UI.  The latest example of this suckage can be seen if you happen to have both a personal gmail account and a Google for your domain account… which a lot of entrepreneurs and sole proprietors have…

I’m sure you’ve all seen messages like this one I received trying to be an early adopter of Google+.

There isn’t even a link that tells you to log out and log in with an account that works.  Of course, I understand that it may take time to integrate Google+ so that their PAYING customers can use it but YouTube…

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Well, at least they told me what I can do about it. But, come on, how long have they owned YouTube?

KickoffLabs is Live… What Next?

Today I wasn’t able to figure out exactly what to do for about 30 minutes.  It was the first time in a while I’d found myself at a complete loss.  I published the announcement blog post and should have walked away for the next half hour. 

What is KickoffLabs?

All new businesses are experiments that start with customers. You don’t know if your idea is going to work, but you know you need customers to make money… whether it’s through ad sales, subscriptions, or walk-ins buying your bagels after you’ve set up shop.  KickoffLabs both simplifies and reduces the costs of the online part of your experiment.

Tomorrow I’ll be hunkering down to work with our first customers, spread the word about KickoffLabs  a little wider, and work on features for the next deployment. 

For now I’m enjoying a nice glass of red wine in celebration…  But we’re bootstrapping, so it’s a cheap bottle. Smile 

Why are you still reading this? Go sign up for your site today!

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A GoodDay for this Developer

Most days I’m thrilled if GoodDay buys me coffee, but there are some days I get an even better feeling… the one you get from helping people achieve their goals.  Here are some recent reviews and customer quotes that people have left about GoodDay.

Goodday is a great app. Has huge potential. Very useful for keeping track of goals but also tracking moods, virtues I’m working on, and vices I’m trying to overcome. – Jay

An excellent tool. I use it repeatedly throughout the day with GREAT success – I’ve reached some pretty lofty goals lately. This app has helped greatly. If you want to stay on track with an aspiration or two, or more, this lets you quickly and easily track your efforts. I had started a googleDoc to do this and when I found it I bought it immediately. It’s simple, clean, clear and incredibly easy to use. In addition, I’ve submitted a number of enhancement requests that I hope will be considered. Even without them, in just two weeks I’ve managed to maintain a high level of awareness and consciousness of my personal goals by updating my assessments throughout the day.Aid my efforts to do my best and achieve my goals? For $0.99 cents? Yeah, I’ll buy that for a dollar. – msg_man in an app store review.

I am a writer and Good Day is a useful calendar and motivational tool.  It helps me track my morning writing hours. – Alexandra

It’s great to be helping people that also believe change comes from simple daily goals.  And yes, now that OneDayApp has shipped there will be another GoodDay update that takes more customer suggestions.  In the meantime… what do you want to track and change?

Cross Sell Your Products

imageI agree with Amy Hoy – “Niches don’t work – But worldviews do”.  If someone that’s part of your “audience” likes one of your products they are likely to also like (or at least recommend) another.  I don’t just agree with her, I have proof: On the free version of GoodDay I run house ads for the paid version of GoodDay, Local Note, & OneDayApp

You’d probably expect the link to the paid version of the app to have a decent click through rate, but you probably wouldn’t have guessed that the ads for Local Note and OneDayApp each have a click through rate of over 15%!  That’s only 3% less than the 18% click through rate I get for the advertisement of the paid version.  But it’s also 14% higher than the non-house ad click through rates!

That tells me that the thousands of people who downloaded GoodDay free share a worldview with me as a product creator. Because of this I’m upping the percentage of ad space dedicated to my house ads dramatically and may cut non-house ads altogether since people obviously aren’t finding them worthwhile.

Speaking of ads… this is just one of the tips you’ll find in my OneDayApp series.

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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…

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