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Day 1 – Niagara

Great Wolf Lodge is something else. A great water park with many slides and forts.

There is also a Magic Quest the kids can do:
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After the slides we went to Niagara Falls and the Hornblower (was Maid if the Mist when is was here 20 years ago).



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What Many Startups Need…

…is sales.

Most startups are done by technical founders and even if they get some VC/Angel funding they may not be getting the help they need to properly sell their products/services.

I started looking around to see what the valley is doing for this and I found Upshift Partners (more details on why they are needed here).

I had an interview with them but they want their team in San Francisco for the next 12 months so nothing happened (at least not yet!). I found nothing like this in Vancouver, though there are several accelerators that could add this, like GrowLabs, Invoke, Spring.

So now I have two options:

  1. Go out on my own for this, or
  2. See if I can work with one of the local groups to get this going

The program would look something like this:

  • sales organization based on Predictable Revenue model
  • 12 week program – option to continue
  • $5-10k/month – option for performance bonuses and/or equity
  • very data based – several detailed reports/KPIs
  • complete sales process instituted – from marketing to sales presentation to closing flow

If you are interested in learning more, let me know.

How I approached my new career

My goal was to never truly apply for a role. I wanted to find a cool company that needed/wanted me and just make it happen.

To do that I had to really understand myself and what I wanted so I first worked with a career advisor to figure out:

  • what I’m good at – evangelism, sales, coaching
  • what kind of companies I like – small, startup, agile, fun
  • what industries I’m passionate about – green, health & wellness, education

Next I went through a huge list of local companies to find ones that fit my criteria and looked interesting. At the same time, I reached out to my friends and asked them for help (intros, company suggestions, etc).

Then I went though the list and found people I’d like to talk to and see if I had a connection to them via LinkedIn. It was rare that I did not have a connection. I really tried not to depend on the same people all the time (I have several extremely well connected friends), and that meant I sometimes had to reacquaint myself with some old colleagues, which was nice. If I didn’t have a connection, I reached out on Twitter to try to set something up. Surprisingly, that worked several times!

I set up meeting with my connections first, unless I knew them well, and then moved on to the key people I was trying to meet.

And while I did research the companies before I met, I never checked to see if there was a position. Good companies bring good people on even if there isn’t a defined position.

I never turned down a meeting, even if I knew that I wasn’t interested in the company because new connections are always great and you never know who they know.

I have been extremely happy with the results; met some amazing people and companies and have several interesting opportunities to choose between.

Is there anything more frustrating than…

…tough to diagnose, only slow at certain times, internet service?

Our internet is only slow in the evenings. Telus says that we have “foreign DC voltage” on our DSL line. Interestingly, I am using TekSavvy (which resells TELUS) and my tenant is on TELUS and he has the same problems.

His modem, etc are on a different circuit so I’m not sure what is going on here.

All I know is that it is extremely frustrating.

A New Story

After spending a long time figuring things out and a short time being frustrated, I have started my journey into something new.

It began a year ago when I realized I was not happy at work. I quickly jumped back into the Vancouver start-up scene; however, as I did not really know who I was (or why I was unhappy), my efforts were not very focussed and unsurprisingly not successful.

In the fall I began working with a mentor to figure out a) why I was unhappy and b) what would make me happy and c) what I’m really good at. I went through very comprehensive physchological testing and learned that I enjoy (and am good at):

  • coaching/training
  • helping people solve problems
  • investigating trends
  • getting people enthusiastic about new solutions

We also figured out that I am more suited for smaller, more agile companies rather than larger, more process-driven ones.

During this time my passions have also become clearer:

  • making sure kids are learning the right things in the right way
  • educating people about the importance of good food and regular excercise so they make it part of their lives

One of the reasons I became frustrated was that I was no longer passionate about what I was doing and who I was helping. If I don’t believe in what I’m doing, I won’t be effective nor will I truly enjoy it. I know that sounds like a cliche, but I didn’t realize how important it was to me. So I have started to find & meet like-minded companies in Vancouver to see how I can help them.

I am very excited.

A Good Time

Definition of a great weekend in Vegas:

  • Golf at TPC Vegas (tough greens)
  • Dinner at Margaritaville
  • Fun poker session at Bellagio
  • 3+ hour hike at Red Rock National Park
  • Great burgers at Burger Brasserie (Paris)
    • 2 Mojitos
  • Seeing Anthony Cools
    • 2 vodka 7s
  • Really drunken poker at PH
    • Green apple shot
    • 2 tequila shots
    • Vodka 7
    • Many many spiced rum & ginger
  • Delayed flight
  • Dinner in the LINQ
  • 6 hour poker session at Aria
  • Direct to airport with no sleep

What I Bring

  • passion for wanting to make people better
  • enthusiasm and humour
  • selling snow to eskimos
  • merging of technical knowledge + understanding how to present value
  • lots of communication and collaboration (I prefer to work with consensus)
  • willingness to jump in where needed to Get Things Done.

Where to have my data?

My current hosting setup:

  • mail is hosted at FastMail
  • Calendars are iCloud
  • Contacts are self-hosted (Mac OS X Server)
  • Website is WordPress on Dreamhost

My costs are:

  • $4/month for static IP
  • $9/month for Dreamhost
  • $9/month for 4 users on FastMail

Ideally I’d bring all those services in one place where I control everything. My options:

  1. self-host
  2. Shared hosting
  3. Cheap VPS
  4. Colocation
  5. leave it all the same

Downsides

Self-hosting:

  • if my consumer grade internet goes down then I can’t access much of my info.
  • have to worry about maintaining offsite backups
  • no support if nothing goes wrong

Shared-hosting

  • privacy concerns
  • how are their backups
  • email service is usually not great
  • don’t normally have Contact/Calendar hosting

Cheap VPS

  • have to do everything myself
  • no real support if something goes wrong

Colo

  • kinda pricey for a little server ($30/month + cost of mac mini)

Leave it

  • data is everywhere, multiple places to admin
  • inconsistent support

I think my favourite choice is a self-hosted machine. I’d like to get a mac mini so I can remove my iMac from hosting duties. The Mac OS X Server software is really, really easy to use and there’s tons of information out there about what to do. Going self hosted removes $18/month from my costs and gains me a ton of control.

My ideal company

If I ever ran a company I would have the following policies:

  • Transparent salaries
  • Unlimited vacation, including a 6 month sabbatical every 4 years
  • Subsidized fitness
  • Personal trainer on call
  • Regular nutritional consulting
  • BYOD
  • Free standing/walking desk
  • Revenue sharing for everyone
  • Open books

Did I miss anything?

What I want in a blogging platform

Continuing in my quest to own all my data and systems, I want to figure out how to take back control of my blog.

Right now it is a WordPress site hosted at Dreamhost. Been working great for years. However, I don’t really like that all the posts are a WP database in a proprietary (though published) format.

My ideal blogging system:

  • all data stored in text files, preferably Markdown
  • allows multiple authors
  • single button/step publishing
  • can write blog on all devices
  • some templates to choose from so I don’t have to write them from scratch
  • self-hosted
  • easy to upload media to reference (pictures in posts, etc)

Jekyll seems too complicated, especially for Christine.

Suggestions?

Update

I’ve checked out:

  • Dropplets
    • no DB and markdown textiles
    • can be modified to support multiple authors
    • multiple step publishing (put file in specific directory then “publish” on admin panel)
    • can write on all platforms
    • a few, though nice, templates
    • self-hosted
    • not easy to upload media
    • can’t use MarsEdit to post

Next up, Ghost.

Update 2

Ghost seems hard to install. Moving on to Statamic. No DB, easy to install.