Well, I've completely converted to SlashChick.com. I was holding off since I didn't have the "put your email address here to receive updates" box, and I figured some of you would forget about me without the /. message system to remind you. ;)
Now that I've added that (and there's an RSS feed link on the right sidebar too, in case you want that), I think I'm all set to begin my journey over there! Go check it out, and don't forget to set up the RSS feed or enter your email address so you know when I've posted.
See you on the flip side!
There are a few more entries on SlashChick.com that you might find interesting, including how I'm doing since recent things happened and a few more things about IBI.
Go read it!
Mostly a bunch of little contracts that I don't have time to finish. Anyone game? Email/AIM me.
I've posted my first blog over at SlashChick.com. This will be my new home for blogs. Right now I'm trying out Wordpress, which looks like it will fill my needs quite well. (More on blog software on the new site.)
I'll come over here and post whenever I put a big entry up there, but you'll have to comment over there. Leave me feedback there as you wish.
I've decided to not use Slashdot to post personal journals any more. Oh, sure, I'll still post business updates, etc. But I need to move to a blog system where I have control. A friend of mine recently came to the same conclusion, and now I understand why. He, too, posted personal things to his journal and received a few astoundingly negative comments. Sad, too, because his journal entry, My Inner Bush Voter, was one I shared with several friends as something I thought was a great example of a journal. Even if I don't agree with everything he says in it, I still think he did a great thing by coming out and saying what was on his mind, and I respect him greatly for that. (Just needed to say that.)
Many of you have been asking about the comment that caused me to delete my previous journal (deleting a journal is something that I've never really considered in the past, btw.) I still don't know who wrote it. Either it's someone who knows me really well or else I show a lot more of myself in these journals than I ever realized. The comment bothered me because it was clear that although the person who wrote it loved and respected me, he was also upset with the choice I had made, and went into several details. I write this to all my friends, real life and virtual: If you have a problem with me, please say it to my face. Don't write it anonymously in my Slashdot journal and then not own up to it. I may be mad at you for saying how you feel, but as your friend, I do understand and respect your position, even if I don't always agree with it.
I know whoever wrote that is probably reading this. Please call, email, or IM me and tell me who you are. I want to talk to you.
Yesterday was one of the roughest days of my life. I had dinner with my best friend / on-and-off-and-now-off-permanently-boyfriend of 7 years. He said he could no longer be my best friend.... it was basically hurting him too much to continue to be emotionally invested in my life. We were both crying by the end of dinner. I was already emotionally wrecked, so I said I couldn't deal with that right now but I respected his decision, and shoved that away in my mind to mull over later.
I got back from the overly emotional dinner to find that comment in my /. journal, which caused me to lose it again and end up crying my eyes out for about an hour. I deleted the entire journal entry. Those of you who know me well had already read it, anyway, and that's all that mattered.
Then, I figured I'd go for broke, since I was already dealing with too many things, and say goodbye to C, as well.
I already knew he was gone when I woke up this morning. I'd awakened earlier with a tremendous amount of pain. When I finally fell back to sleep, I woke up again a couple hours later knowing that he was gone without him even having said anything. He read the goodbye email this morning, and said the words I never wanted to hear, but that I knew I'd hear anyway. He said "thank you."
I've lost a lot in the past 24 hours. My best friend (which I guess I knew was going to happen anyway; you can't heal from a long relationship while still talking to the other person every day.) My lover, who is gone as well. Now it's just me again.
It will take a long time to heal from all of this.
People-watching: My favorite sport
So I find myself today sitting at a Panera in Nashville, TN. How I got here is a long story which I will perhaps save for a later Slashdot journal. Anyway, having not been to Nashville in many years, I came to this particular food establishment since it has free Wi-fi and I have about 3 or 4 hours to kill. I figured I might as well kill them in style by going to a place with free Internet access.
It has been a long time since I've been to anything resmbling the South. (I do not count my parents' house in Indiana, although close, to really be the South.) Living in California, you tend to forget that there are more places in the country than 1) California 2) Arizona 3) Oregon 4) Washington 5) Colorado 6) Texas 7) Nevada (only included for recreational purposes) and 8) New York City. Most of the time, since you have a good 5-6 hours of driving before you can even get out of the state, it's easy to forget that there are actually parts of the country where most people are white and speak English as their only language.
Panera is a lunch joint that offers an entertaining cross-section of the people from the South. Most people are white and relatively well-dressed; they're on business lunches with others. The food is very American; I consider American food pretty bland at this point, unfortunately. If this were California, every sandwich would have bean sprouts, tofu, and/or avocado and weird mayo. I sort of miss that. Here, I get a roast beef sandwich and it's just that. No strange mayo ("garlic herb", anyone?), no sprouts to pick off, and no avocado option.
The people are also fascinating. Here in Nashville, from my (admittedly non-Southern) viewpoint, there appear to be two types of people: those who relish their Southern heritage, complete with the country twang that always makes me giggle, and those who are trying desperately to prove that they aren't really from the South. Listening to conversations, there is often a mix of the two. Older people seem to be okay with the accent. Younger ones struggle with it to a large degree... you'll hear it slip out occasionally, but they're really having a time trying to pronounce things without the accent. It is definitely fun to watch.
I should probably get back to work so I can at least get somewhat caught up before I leave. I'll try to write more as the next few days go by; it should definitely be one of the most interesting weeks of my life.
I Have A New Lover (Part 2)
This is the serious journal I wanted to write earlier. The Treo problems sort of blindsided me, but I've been meaning to write a serious journal for a while, and this is as good a time as any.
My life is a mess right now. Not totally a mess... I mean completely chaotic. Things are changing so quickly and I'm so busy that I barely have time to sit down and think about anything before I move on to the next item on the agenda. I mean, FFS, I still have moving boxes in my house, and I moved in late August. This is a problem.
On the other hand, since things are progressing so rapidly, I feel like I've grown a lot in the past few months. In particular, my week at IBI completed a huge growth cycle for me. In that 7 days, I grew more than I could in a year or more without IBI (both personally and professionally.) In that week, I finished growing up. At one point, about 4 days into IBI, I looked in the mirror at my hotel room (there was no one else around at that point) and realized I'd done it. I walked into a place where I knew absolutely no one and I walked out having met several lifelong friends, many of whom I've stayed in touch with (I've already gained 3 customers from IBI, as well as a business partner.) I have talked on the phone, over AIM, or over email with at least one person from IBI every single day since then, and I'm starting to realize that IBI will be a huge part of my future (I'm already planning to go back in December.) But for me, just knowing that these people who had no preconceived notions of me, who I was, where I came from, or what I did for a living... these people are now my biggest fans and supporters, and I theirs -- it's such a powerful thing as to be almost indescribable. On top of that, to know that I was the person who brought that home -- who convinced them that my company was worth investing in, being a customer of, or working for -- that's incredibly powerful in and of itself. It shows that I believe in myself and am confident enough to make other people believe in me.
That energy and confidence from IBI has settled into my heart as I've slowly begun to realize that I am an adult and that I can completely make it on my own. My heart has turned from an argument/war zone/conflicting place to a Zen-like garden of "if it happens, it happens, and if it doesn't, that's okay too" mentality. I used to push for things so hard, even if they weren't right. Now, I know that if something is right, God will make it happen. If it isn't right, that's okay too, and there was a reason for it.
I broke up with my boyfriend last week. We'd been dating on and off for nearly 7 years. (!) I think we were at that point where we realized if we took it any farther, we were going to have to get married, and getting married wasn't right for us for whatever reason. So we broke it off. It wasn't easy, and I'm still recovering (one big reason why I'm putting the brakes on any new relationship that develops -- I don't want to have a rebound, and I need some time to heal and think about all of this.)
Inside myself, I have found this fragile, but growing, Zen garden of peacefulness. It's great. I smile more now. I still worry all the time, but I am slowly getting over it. I have more self-confidence and a little less shyness about meeting new people.
There are still big mistakes from my past. (Who doesn't have those?) But those are being muted by my future, where I will try to make better decisions and learn from my bad decisions. My company is doing well. My life, though way too hectic for my newfound Zen preference, is generally moving in the right direction. And, for the first time in my life, I can say that I truly love who I have become.
I Have A New Lover!
I bet the title scared the crap out of some of you. (There are no less than 5 of you reading this journal who want to date me.) But that's okay... who needs men when I have a new Treo 600? :D
I went to the Sprint store today in Campbell and gave the girl there a good sob story about my poor Treo and its untimely death. My friend (after examining the dead Treo's butt) finally figured out what the real problem was -- I'd shorted the power connector out. Actually, some pieces of the power connector should be inside my car charger, because they were certainly no longer on my Treo. (I can exchange the car charger as well; I'll do that later today.)
Whatever pins I had damaged on the power connector were apparently critical to the operation of the Treo, so it decided to become a paperweight. The girl in the Campbell store was very friendly, and after establishing that I hadn't dropped it and that I'd owned it for less than a year, agreed to exchange it for free. So my friend and I drove up to the Sunnyvale Sprint store (location of the nearest working Treo 600) and I got a free refurbished Treo. My new Treo is sitting happily beside me, blinking its little green light. I haven't tried syncing it back yet, but I will once I get home later today. So a happy ending for all... there's a new man in town for me!
Edit (after reading comments): All 5 guys mentioned above have met me in person at least once.
One more edit: All data has synced up happily to the new Treo and I am now getting to know him better. Seems to be a smooth transition, all in all.
My Treo Hates Me!!!
You know, I was going to write something deep in my Slashdot journal tonight, but this will have to do.
My Treo 600 has decided to become a paperweight, so my last few hours have been immersed in a) trying unsuccessfully to fix it by banging it on the desk, b) calling Sprint (no love for me there; I bought it from a friend and warranties don't transfer), c) whining to my other friends who have Treos, who have given me many more fix-it tips that haven't worked... and, when all else failed, d) giving up and watching a bunch of mindless TV (Monster House arr arr arr.)
Now I get to make a trip to the Sprint store and beg them for mercy (pleeeeeease fix my Treo for free so I don't have to go back to my old Treo 300 until the 650 comes out!) I'm getting up bright and early to march down there as soon as they open (10AM.) Yes, 10AM is early for me.
I love you, dead $400 Treo! *sob*sob*
Tonight, a friend of mine sent me a 66-page PDF of some childhood stories he wrote down and gave to his mom. As I've been reading them (I'm about halfway through) and laughing as I imagine a terrified little kid in church or him having to put up with his family's antics, I'm realizing I don't have that many childhood stories to share.
Growing up an only child pretty much guarantees an existence where you are left to fend for yourself on most occasions. I have snatches of memories here and there, but mostly just little 5-minute snapshots or memories of people instead of events.
My childhood was mostly filled with two things: 1) books and 2) Nintendo. I devoured books. I read quickly and grasped concepts even quicker, so I went through hundreds of books. By first grade I had read almost the entire Nancy Drew series and was starting on the Hardy Boys and Bobbsey twins. By third grade I had read the entire children's section of the library and was hankering for more, so my mother (always the mystery novel fan) started me on mystery novels. In 4th grade I was reading V.C. Andrews ("Aren't you a little young to be reading those?" I remember my teacher saying), and that's how I learned about sex. Yes, I learned about sex from a book where a paralyzed guy in a wheelchair got stuffed by a younger lady. That's all I remember. (Someday I fully intend to read them all again just to see what that was all about.)
My parents were 37 when they adopted me (I was adopted at age 3 days.) Thus, their friends' kids were all grown up as well, and my childhood was filled with the antics of characters in books instead of real friends. That is, except for Meghan.
When I was young (too young to have started school), someone started building a house next door to us. I was fascinated by this. They dug out the ground and built a basement first, and (much to my mother's chagrin) I was over at the construction site every day climbing around in the mud and thoroughly enjoying myself. Soon, the basement was finished and the walls started to take form. My dad and I would take walks through the house at night, and I can remember being utterly fascinated with knowing exactly where the toilet was going to go. "How do you know?!" I asked my dad whenever he said "That's going to be a bedroom" or "That's the bathroom." So he'd point out the plumbing and doors and I was totally amazed.
Eventually, they put all the walls on and started locking the doors, and I had to be content with staring at it while the rest of the house was built. Soon, it was finished and our new neighbors moved in. It was very fortunate that they happened to have a kid almost exactly my age -- Meghan, who was born 12 days before I was. I was just at that age where I needed a best friend (5 or 6), and soon Meghan and I were constantly together. Meghan was the oldest of 3 -- I remember when the youngest kid, Seth, was born.
Anyway, back to my other childhood passion -- Nintendo. Somehow, Meghan (I think it was her dad's idea) got a Nintendo as soon it was out. We quickly figured out that if you held the gun riiiight up to the TV screen, you could kill ALL the ducks in Duck Hunt. (My childhood was perpetuated with "Don't sit so close to the screen! You'll ruin the screen/your eyes/the Nintendo!") Of course, after playing it so often at Meghan's house, I knew what my must-have gift was that Christmas. I had to have that Nintendo.
I remember that Christmas quite vividly. My parents aren't religious, so Christmas never held more significance to me than "presents." That morning (knowing I was going to get a Nintendo, as it was the only thing I really wanted), I ran downstairs, found the biggest box (a Nintendo had to be in a huge box, right? After all, it came with that big gun for Duck Hunt.) I opened it...and found a pair of snow pants and a jacket! "Nooooo!!!" I howled. (My mom looked like she didn't know whether to laugh or cry.) Furious at this "trick" that had been played on me, I lunged into the second largest box... and found my Nintendo, complete with Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt.
I've been a video game junkie ever since, and I still have that Nintendo. If you look hard enough around my parents' attic, you'll probably even find that gun. My poor mother. I think she thought I was going to be blind before I turned 20...
So that's one of my childhood stories. I guess I had a few. ;)
Hey! Stop Shaking Me, World!
So I'm sick again...the second time in two weeks. Getting sick appears to have a direct correlation to the number of hours I sleep. I had 7 straight days where I got 4-6 hours of sleep a night, and I still hadn't fully recovered from my other cold...bam, another one.
I went to LA for one strange event. I describe it as "strange" because it completely changed my life in unexpected ways. Officially labeled as a "CEO Retreat", it's basically where 200 or so entrepreneurs gather in a hotel in LA for intensive classes and training sessions. The company running the session is IBI Global, and if you've been thinking about joining IBI, then I must say it's totally worth the price of admission.
I had little or no expectations coming into IBI. For one thing, I found out about IBI about 5 days before I actually went to the conference. For another thing, I knew walking out of the local meeting (local meetings are free and highly recommended if you're an entrepreneur or small business owner) that I'd be going to LA in a few days for this conference/retreat/seminar/whatever you want to call it.
I hopped on a plane with a couple other Bay Area IBI'ers (Don, who is starting a wireless ISP, and William, who runs a company dedicated to managing the personal lives of incredibly rich people.) I knew it was going to be an intense 7 days, but I had no idea what I was really in for.
I've had a couple company ideas floating around for a while (a year, actually) but really had no idea how to get them off the ground. I even had people saying "Send me a business plan; I'd like to invest" and I still didn't know what the heck to do about it. (Write a business plan, right? Well, you sit down and write a 125-page business plan having never done it before and having no idea what to put in it.)
I quickly learned at IBI that I am a born salesperson. Ever heard of an "elevator pitch"? (That's the 30-second demo of your business that you give to people so they'll want to invest with you by the time the elevator gets to its destination.) IBI calls that a SNAP, and by the end of the conference, I was snapping not only for myself, but for several others at IBI whose projects I really got a kick out of. I started to realize that the real power of my pitch was confidence -- the more confident I was, the more confident others became in my success. Without letting myself become egotistical, I started to really enjoy myself, and impressed the heck out of a lot of other people (I had to be one of the youngest people there.)
What I didn't count on was meeting the people I met. I met several people there I put on my team (I now have a CFO and a law firm!) and several people who put me on their teams (I'm going to help build a radio station and a wireless ISP.) But there was one person in particular who really stood out in my mind. This guy bears an uncanny resemblance to...me! It's so wild to meet someone so much like yourself at one of these conferences (well, so he's 40-something and married, but you know, he also has a Treo and a Miata and is a complete geek.) Of course, I hired him, and put him on as my business partner. (Gotta convince those investors to invest in something other than a bunch of twentysomethings anyway.) So my business has completely changed (I won't own 100% of Simpli in just a few short months), but now I'm confident I can write the business plan and get investors on board, especially since they'll be investing in a company that already has a lot of revenue and is profitable.
My life changed entirely in 7 days, but it's been a good change. Simpli will become a multi-million dollar business in the next 3-5 years, and I'll be driving that. I've also built a team of people whom I am absolutely ecstatic to work with. It is a pretty cool feeling.
Waxing Philosophical About Music
There's an excellent article on Slashdot right now about the "long tail" of the creative industries like music and book publishing. The article reveals that less popular, niche items now have an audience through the Internet (which is quickly becoming known as the place to find obscure books, movies, etc.)
The article is a great read, and parallels what I see in my everyday life. Back in 1996, I was downloading MOD files (anyone remember those?) from the Internet. Some of them were awful, and some of them were really good. I eventually collected so many of them that I made a website about which ones I liked, which proved to be rather popular.
MOD files -- for those of you who don't remember them -- were stuck somewhere in between MIDI and MP3 (this was before MP3 came out.) Producers used what was called "tracker" software to produce them, and stuck synthesized sounds together to create music. The MOD files were labeled by the number of channels used to create them; the number of channels denoted how many different sounds could play at once. (4-channel and 8-channel were common.) Most of the music created in that tiny industry was pretty strung-out house, chill, and dance music. Some of it featured beats from popular dance mixes of that era; some was so far out there that the beats used to create them were unrecognizable or made up by the artist. (I've decided to throw one of my favorite MOD files up for download so you can see exactly what I'm talking about. This MOD was created in 1995, downloaded by me in 1996, and I've managed to move it to every computer I've owned since the 486 I used to download it.)
So there I was, back in the day, a geeky kid interested in this new "scene." I knew that the music I was hearing here bore little or no relation to what was currently on the radio, but that I liked it more than 99% of the stuff I heard on the radio. That was my first realization that the Internet held much more power than a simplistic "push" medium like radio; here we had an entire underground scene of music creators and listeners; websites with ratings for each song; and music publishers who were, in reality, just normal people "tracking" from their basement or computer room.
And this was in 1996.
Fast-forward to 2001. My mother (who was, by all means, computer-illiterate) discovers Amazon.com. My mother is a complete book junkie -- a habit which I've inherited as well. My mom, however, loves finding out-of-print and hard-to-find books by obscure authors (especially mysteries) and reading them. She owns hundreds of obscure mystery novels, and also has a list of which ones she's still actively looking for.
She discovered Amazon.com's out of print section, and the next day had ordered hundreds of dollars worth of out-of-print books. I don't think I saw her for another week! Mom has since become hooked on Amazon -- not just because they sell books, but because she can find what she's looking for with one click -- and then find out what everyone else who liked that book is reading, as well.
My dad really didn't get into the computer or Internet revolution at all. Even today, he won't email me -- he has his secretary do it. We (that is, my mother and I) couldn't get him to use the Internet at all until I got my parents a Netflix subscription earlier this year.
My parents live in a small town of 2500 people, which, by the way, is the town I grew up in. (2500 people is small...you don't realize quite how small until you live there!) Anyway, my father hated the local video rental store because they only carried "crap." "Crap," to my dad, is anything that a) is mass-produced; b) spends actual money on special effects; and/or c) caters to an audience larger than "older male who just wants to see some alien get the shit kicked out of it."
Enter Netflix. My dad promptly discovers that they have every horrible sci-fi movie ever produced, including a whole ton of Dr. Who movies, and plops down in front of the computer. An hour later, he had added over 120 movies to his Netflix list, and was on the phone with our neighbor (who happens to share the same love for bad sci-fi that my dad has) gibbering about how they needed to throw a Dr. Who party. "They even have 'It Came From Outer Space!'", I hear him yelling into the phone. (Meanwhile, my poor mother, knowing she was about to be subjected to horrible Dad-movies, was browsing the Romantic movie section, hoping to offset a few of Dad's selections.)
The Internet really has shaped my life -- but that's to be expected. What I don't think anyone anticipated was the impact it would have on "normal" people like my parents, who wouldn't really be using the Internet at all if it wasn't for me. People around the world just like my parents have found new music, new books (and really old, bad independent movies) that they never knew they would like. This Wired article summed it up from an economic standpoint, but I figured I'd share my own personal experience as well. Hey, if something can get my dad interested in the Internet, that's a sure-fire winner.
Client gives a tentative green light; more work ahead!
Today I approached my client (the one currently being hung out to dry by my friend) and gave them a stellar deal.
There is background to this whole story in my last journal, so if you haven't read that yet, read it first. Quick summary: I left this contract in May and gave it to a friend of mine, who flaked out on it about 2 weeks ago.
I left them after I had submitted a redesign proposal. I spent 8+ hours on the original comp (Photoshop layers and all!) and presented it about a month before I left. They loved it, but then their second-in-command suggested getting quotes from other web designers. Plus, their sales manager said I was "too expensive" (at $50/hour for design work? Please!) and hired someone else to do a project for them.
Having had enough of this negative feedback from their staff, I threw down an ultimatum. "If you like my work," I said, "hire me. If not, hire someone else and be done with it. I'm not splitting out projects with anyone else."
Well, they sat on that for about a month and I got sick of waiting. Eventually, I canned the redesign, pulled back all comps of it, and had them sign a contract stating they were not allowed to use it without my permission (and they didn't have my permission.) I also gave them the name of my friend and recommended her as my successor.
Fast-forward to today. Their website still hasn't been redesigned. They're currently stuck -- they can't seem to find anyone who is both a programmer and a graphic designer. Their second-in-command, T, did manage to find someone who is a PHP programmer, but the programmer "is not into that graphic stuff," as T put it.
So far, the only thing that has been added to the website since I left in May has been one PHP page done by the aforementioned programmer whom T hired. My friend has not added anything new to the site.
I called T up today (remember, he was the one pushing "other contracts" that first caused me to be unsettled about this company), and pitched him. "Look," I said. "If you hire someone else, it's going to be December before they even have a grasp on this website. I'd like to come in and finish what I started."
T made some neutral "well, maybe that would work out" comments, so I added the one sentence I knew would close the deal. "If I don't have the website completely redesigned, up and running before November 30, it's free of charge," I said.
Stunned silence from T's end. Then, "Wow."
Of course, T still has to talk it over with the man in charge. And there are going to be some hurdles to overcome -- namely, finding people from my end to do the work I am too busy to do. But by convincing T, who was my hardest sell back in May, and having him convince the guy in charge, I think I can pull off this contract. Of course, I'll be charging them a ton of money for it. And I'll be outsourcing most of it (especially the PHP programming part...a couple of friends of mine are already interested in that part.)
I know I can pull this off. It won't be easy, but I want to finish what I started and close the door instead of having to train another designer/programmer about the website I already know like the back of my hand. Plus, the contract will be enough to completely pay for a hot tub.
Hot tub, here I come.
Sleeping Off A Cold; Still Too Busy!
Well, last weekend we moved all those servers and this weekend my body has finally decided that it's high time I got some sleep. To ensure that I get enough sleep, it has temporarily decided to disable my immune system.
This, of course, happened last night. While I was trying to sleep, my body woke me up and announced that it didn't feel well. When I finally woke up in the morning, I had an awful sore throat -- swollen glands and the whole bit. After deciding that it was too much effort to get out of bed, I went back to sleep and slept pretty much the whole day. Now I'm awake and realizing that I have a whole day's worth of work that didn't get done. Argh!
In May, I gave a friend of mine the lead of a lifetime -- a web design contract for a customer of mine. The contract requires writing, editing, graphic design, and PHP programming skills, which means it's awfully hard to find a single person to fill the role. I'd been doing this contract job (which pays between $1500-$4000/month, depending on how much work there is to be done) since 2002, and I'd finally decided that I wanted the company's website to go in a different direction than my customer did (a bad thing!). I was also getting swamped with work for Simpli and associated companies I'm working more closely with, so I called a meeting with the owner of the company and called it quits. I gave him my friend's name as my recommended successor and promised to stick around for the next month or two in case anyone had any questions.
Simpli quickly grew to take up about 150% of my available time, and I didn't think much more of the contract -- until about two weeks ago, when the complaints started to roll in. Apparently my friend had completely disappeared and the company was left up the proverbial creek.
So I found myself at their office at 10PM on a Friday night, doing work that had needed to be done the week before and realizing that I was completely screwed with regards to time. Already someone from the company had figured out that I actually responded to email, especially when it was regarding things that needed to be posted on the first of the month, and so the work started rolling in. The only problem was that I have no available time whatsoever to do any of this work. "We'll find someone else for next month, but we need you to do this now," was their reply. "This" was approximately 8 hours of work.
Of course, then I got nailed by the stupid cold and ended up sleeping all day today. So now, not only am I faced with about 6.5 hours of work remaining for this company, but I'm faced with all the other work that I need to do for Simpli and a couple remaining website design clients (one of whom is starting to get really pissed at me.)
It's 10:30PM on a Sunday and things are not looking good from my vantage point.
In an attempt to remember some good things about my life, I am going to make a list of all the exciting things I would like to spend money on. Of course, I have no problem spending thousands of dollars on business-related expenses (I spent over $14,000 in August alone on business-related expenses), but I hardly ever spend anything on myself. So here is a list I've been meaning to make of stuff that is NOT deductible that I'd like to spend just for me:
1) (The big one!) Hot tub. I knew when I moved in to my current residence that I'd be getting a hot tub; there's already a platform for it in my backyard and hot tubs are just cool anyway. About a month ago, I put down a $500 deposit on one. I'm trying to pay off my credit cards before I buy it, but at this rate I'm going to have to give in and just go for it. ($6000)
2) Car repairs and upgrades. My poor leetle zoom has some problems and general upgrades I'd like to make. Since I don't have a car payment any more, I've funneled that money into Simpli instead. That needs to stop. Upgrades include painting and installing his new rear bumper ($400), new hood and paint ($500), new struts ($1200), and dammit I want an XM satellite radio and a CD player that plays MP3s ($400?) I also want a full interior and exterior detail since he's never had that done before ($200). The leetle guy has over 80,000 miles on him and deserves to get treated nicely for once. I plan on keeping him for a while, so I need to treat him better.
3) A new TV. This one has been on my list for a while. I am sick of my Sony 27", but just can't justify the price for a plasma TV or projector. It's still lower on the priority list than the two above items, but is definitely a priority after I get the hot tub paid off. ($2000)
That makes me feel a bit better... now, back to work! ;)
Oprah's Wise Words To Live By (Yes, I Said Oprah!!)
So I started watching Oprah the day she gave away all those cars. I had never before watched Oprah in my life...can you believe it? This woman is a billionaire (and if you know me, you know I can obsessively repeat the 5 self-made billionaire women in the world, as it's my goal to one day be there...or at least close.) Fortune describes her as a "media mogul", and with the way so many women love her, I'd say that's a fairly accurate description.
So when I heard about Oprah giving away a car to everyone in the audience, I decided to Tivo the show and check it out. After all, what better opportunity to watch a "media mogul" and woman billionaire in action than to Tivo what would surely be a landmark show?
Well, I Tivo'ed it and I was not disappointed at all! In fact, it was such a fantastic show that I decided to grab a season pass on the ol' Tivo and keep it busy in the afternoon. Now I watch Oprah every night (for the most part) when I get home (typically while I'm eating dinner) and I haven't been disappointed yet. She has a fascinating show.
The show that was the most significant to me was the one where she had the author of a book on. The book (based on a Sex and the City episode; the book's author was one of the show's producers) is called He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth To Understanding Guys. The show featured several women from Oprah's audience, each with a different sob story (some sad, some hilarious) about guys who were (say it with me) JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU! I got a real kick out of the show (no, the super-celebrity you dated 8 months ago is not into you just because he booty-calls you occasionally!)
The most important thing Oprah said on the show (and something that I am now using as a magnifying glass to look into my own life) was "Doubt means NO! Don't do it!"
It's so important to trust your gut reaction in a lot of cases. I can see a trouble customer from a mile away. Sometimes I take them anyway (and often regret it later!) But one thing I have learned is to trust my instincts. If you have doubts about something, especially if it's a new experience for you, figure out why you're having the doubts. If you're fearing for your safety or sanity, it's time to say "no."
This has saved me a lot of grief in both my business and personal life. Don't forget about your "gut feeling." It's there to help you!
3rd day and I'm blitzed
Why the heck doesn't Slashdot have useful topics, like "Alcohol"?
So, for the first time in my life, I've decided to get drunk when no one else is around (at least in person), just to see what it feels like. You, my faithful Slashdot journal readers, will get a chance to see me like this. I think I am just going to write whatever comes into my head and then pass out and go to bed. Sounds like a good night to me! :D
For me, being drunk means I want to dance. I really think it's as simple as that. I love dance music and I love dancing. I just don't know how to dance, so I end up looking pretty stupid. That's why it's important to have alcohol involved, because then I don't care if I look stupid...I just get out there and do my thang and everyone else can laugh all they want.
There's this really cool song by The Ark called "It Takes A Fool To Remain Sane." I highly recommend it. I love the lyrics:
And if you think I'm corny
then it will not make me sorry
It's your right to laugh at me
and in turn that's my opportunity
to feel brave ...
So, take it to the stage in a multicoloured jacket
Take it jackpot, crackpot, strutting like a peacock
Nailvarnish Arkansas, shimmy-shammy featherboah
Crackpot, haircut, dye your hair in glowing red and blue
Do, do, do what you wanna do
Don't think twice, do what you have to do
Do, do, do, do, let your heart decide
what you have to do
That's all there is to find
Awesome song. Someone said Americans wouldn't like it because apparently we're all conservatives who love George W. Bush. Yeah, right! I'm an American and I love this song and how it speaks of individuality and going against the status quo. That is what I am all about.
Speaking of that, I would like to record for posterity the following things that I would like to do in the next year:
1) Take at least one exercise class. Karate, kickboxing, yoga...whatever... as long as it gets me out of the house and exercising on a regular basis.
2) Learn another language. I already know French pretty well, though my skills have gone down the tubes a bit since I haven't practiced in a while. I also know a bit of Mandarin, but it's not incredibly useful here as most Chinese here speak Cantonese. I think Spanish is next on my list.
3) Start another company. Yeah, another one. Just for the hell of it. Doesn't have to make a lot of money. I just want to enjoy it. ...
I never graduated college. I went to San Jose State for a year and a half and it just wasn't right for me. Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been different had I gone to Santa Clara Univ. instead... I was also accepted there. I definitely would have enjoyed school more, but I also enjoy having the head start on my business. A coin toss, really. I never really was one for school. I got whatever grade I needed to get to pass class, but for me it was always about the extracirricular activities (yeah, interpret that however you want...LOL!)
I smoked a lot of weed in college. (Hey, I'm in California. What, like 70% of the population has smoked weed? They can't throw you in jail for it here unless you're dealing, and I didn't deal.) I drank a lot and went to a lot of parties. I had boyfriends. I had a job. Really, it was a blast except for classes (most of which I was bored out of my skull in!) A more academically challenging college would have been better for me.
Right now I'm anxious to find activities to fill my free time. The exercise one is one goal. I'd love to go with friends to encourage me to stick with it, but I don't really know any friends close by. I suppose I could drive to it with a friend. Eh.
Another goal is to join at least one business-related club. Women business owners, young entrepreneurs, whatever... I think that's important. It's important to get your face recognized in the community. Believe it or not, the Bay Area is pretty small and most people know most other people. Getting into one of those clubs and sticking with it will be important for my future.
I can feel myself starting to yawn and lose track of time, so it's probably time to hit the bed. Thank God I only have one more project to do tonight. Hopefully I can finally get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep (haven't had that in 6 days or so.)
What Does It Take To Be A Leader?
First of all, thank you all for your comments. You've given me a lot of food for thought -- in particular, the idea to throw a dinner party (I think that one's a winner!) and the idea that maybe, possibly, I should be more considerate of other people's feelings. (I completely agree and will take that one to heart, as I should.)
I really think this past weekend was a turning point for me. For the first time in my life (with regards to Simpli), I realized that I could do this. I had 3 other people there helping me with the move and I led and directed them -- okay, not perfectly, but pretty darn well for someone who is still new at this whole leadership thing. These 3 people all listened and respected me, which, again, was new and vastly refreshing. I stayed up 30 straight hours without either falling asleep or becoming incredibly bitchy. I respected the members of my team and earned respect in return. It was an incredibly awesome feeling and really proved to me that an executive management role is where I want to be in my life.
Something I have learned from talking and listening to business leaders is how to deal with setbacks. Obviously, every setback is a new and exciting challenge. The key to overcoming obstacles is to see them as challenges, not roadblocks. They are mountains, but you can climb them! Running around them doesn't work because there are always more of them; you really have to be a person who can say "Alright, folks, here's what we have to do to climb this mountain," and then execute the plan well, to be a leader.
Another thing I'm quickly learning is that you don't have to be perfect to be a leader. Here's the infinitely cool thing: people intuitively understand that you are not perfect. When we had to move all of those servers, there were a few whiners in the bunch. "Oh, I can't be down then" or "This is going to hugely inconvenience me", etc. There were a couple things I said to the whiners that made them, by and large, happy customers:
1) This isn't our choice either. We're in this with you together. This isn't a cakewalk for anyone. But it has to get done, and we promise you we'll do whatever it takes to make sure the move is as smooth as possible for you.
2) What can we do for you to make this move go as smoothly as possible for you?
I ran backups for our customers. I moved some of them in the afternoon or on complete other days. I spent extra time and effort to make sure not only that we got everyone moved, but that we communicated with and accommodated our customers to the best degree possible. That really is the key.
If you spend your life making sure your customers are happy (while keeping in mind your own goals and making sure that their goals align with yours), you will always be successful.
Keeping 100% of your customers happy 100% of the time is completely impossible. Just do the best you can, while bearing in mind the above.
And one more, that I just have to add because it made me much more sane...
Learn how to say NO!!!
I am incredibly proud of myself for this weekend. While it wasn't perfect, I did the absolute best I could under the circumstances, took the lessons learned to heart, and made it successful. We did not lose a SINGLE customer from this move. I grew (personally and professionally) this weekend. Sometime during my 30 hours with no sleep, I realized that my heart belonged right where it was now -- being a leader and being in control of my own destiny.
I am a risk-taker. No question about it. I run my bank account down to zero. I invest in risky stocks and I read, read, read (obsessively) about market trends, business trends, and customer trends. I firmly believe that things are more simple than most people want to admit.
I will tell you right now in this journal: I will make mistakes. No one is infallible. I will have climbed hundreds and thousands of mountains by the time I am finished with this life. Sometimes I'll fall down. My company will occasionally falter. But if I believe in the simple principles above -- namely, keep my customers happy, but not at the expense of myself -- I will succeed and my company will be successful. Believe it or not, it really is that simple, and it doesn't matter what kind of business you run -- from a gas station to a law firm to a web hosting company -- in the end, it boils down to your customers and how they feel. Are they happy? Then you're successful. If they're not, assess the situation and correct the problems, and you'll convert them. I believe that, in the end, that's all you really need to run a successful business.
Erica Goes Through 30 Hours Of Hell...And Then...
Writes About It! (Thanks, Slashdot title limit.) :P
Well, we've moved 125 servers from one AboveNet datacenter in San Jose to another. This move was not our choice -- AboveNet leased out SJC3 (the datacenter we were in) to another company, and so we were forced to "move 'em out" (as they say) and head on down to SJC2 in downtown San Jose.
So I'd like to take this journal entry to (first) admonish myself for not writing recently, as I feel writing is therapeutic, especially for me, and secondly, to record in history not just the logistical, business aspects of the move, but my actual feelings about it.
My personal feelings don't come out often in my Slashdot journal. I'm often hesitant to write about myself since this is such a wide audience, but to hell with that convention. I've talked about my business the whole time. Time for all of you to know the real me. And after 30 hours with no sleep, experiencing the strange effects of food and sleep deprivation, and work-work-work constantly, I'm going to carve out a little space for myself here. The real me -- not Simpli, and not web developer Erica, but me.
Although I run a successful business and, by all means, should be grinning 100% of the time, the reality is that I often find myself sitting at home alone mindlessly surfing the Internet. I tend to go through friends like some people change brands of cereal. My "friend lifespan" is approximately 6 months, and I've had very few friends (three, I think?) whom I'm still in touch with whom I've known longer than 1 year. I used to think that it was because I'm changing and growing so rapidly, and I believe part of that is true. The other part is deeper and much more subtle.
My problem is my personality has two very opposite sides. The one you meet at first (and the one you know if you've only met me a few times) is a very dynamic, engaging, fun personality. People have a hard time believing that I don't have many friends or that I'm anti-social. But there is a very different side to my personality -- a shy, quiet, bookworm-geeky side that only comes out when I'm really alone or with people I'm incredibly comfortable with.
Somehow these two personalities combine in strange (and often opposing) ways. One night I'll want to go to a concert or an event and the next night I'm absorbed in some bizarro Linux problem or programming dilemma and get irritated when someone asks me to take a break. I love good discussion, but often get intimidated by those who want to argue every point of mine: "Hey, I've made my decision. Leave me alone." For me, there is a very fine line between discussing different opinions and viewpoints (which I love) and arguing about them (which I quickly grow sick of.)
Which brings me back to the whole friends thing. My personality's two sides make it difficult to retain friends since half the time I'm "too busy" to go out and the other half of the time I'm not busy, but people have given up asking me since I'm "always busy." I don't really think I have an abrasive personality or anything that scares people off; they just sort of give up after a while since I'm so often not interested in doing anything.
I met a cool friend a few months ago who introduced me to a couple other people here in the Bay Area. A few weeks ago I was talking to him on AIM (yeah, I'm an AIM junkie) and he said that I should call up one of the other guys and see what he was doing since I was free and bored that night. "What do you mean?!" I said. A good talking-to (er, conversation ;) ensued when he realized I hadn't called up someone I didn't know that well just to see if that person was free and wanted to do something in approximately 2 years. Well, I finally gave in and called him, and go figure -- he was busy. (He must have "Erica syndrome." ;) I haven't called him since, even though I think we'd be good friends. Why? I guess I'm too busy. :)
I know a lot of people, but I can't say there are a lot of people out there who know me very well. Some nights (like tonight) I end up sitting at home alone, hoping something will happen. Most nights I just work my butt off until I go to bed. I have a good friend who is a quite obsessive PHP programmer, and I teased him one night about him living in New York City and never going outside to explore and have some fun. I commented that we were some of the only people in the world who look at life through a window in the room where the computer is.
Is it possible to be too busy looking down at your work to get up once in a while and really enjoy just getting to know other people? Sometimes I'm tempted to just go somewhere else for a while and completely forget work. I hope I remember what fun is by the time Simpli is a multi-million dollar company and I actually start having free time again. Or is it possible that I will schedule my life so that I will hold myself at a distance from people forever just so I can get more work done? These are the things that go on in my head...when I'm not too busy to think about them, that is. ;)
I'm Back With A Strange Question. Do You Have The Answer?
My apologies for not updating this journal more often; I've been extremely busy with work (Simpli). Simpli is doing well, by the way, and we're set to introduce a new website soon, so stay tuned! ;)
I have a strange question. Upon pondering this question and realizing I knew nothing about it, I immediately wondered where I could find the answer. So I've decided to mine you guys -- the geekiest people I know -- for an answer.
I have a client who wants to rip 300 CDs to a hard drive. He'd like me to come up with a solution, so I've been studying various methods of ripping CDs. Obviously no one wants to sit there all day and feed CDs into a computer, so there needs to be a better solution.
I've Googled and it appears that the best solution is a robotic arm that attaches to a computer. My basic idea is to have two spindles of CDs: one spindle which hasn't been ripped and one which has. The arm can pick up a CD from the spindle of "not yet ripped", drop the CD into the open drive, and, when the CD is done, it can pick it back up and place it on the "ripped" spindle.
Obviously this requires some communication between the computer and the robotic arm. The best solution would probably be to use Linux, a serial or parallel port for communication, and a script ("Arm, pick up CD from 'non-ripped' spindle. CD drive, close. Ripper program, rip. CD drive, open. Arm, pick up CD and put it into 'ripped' spindle. Repeat.") Okay, so that's kind of what this guy did. But I don't care about getting CDs out of cases or anything.
I'm willing to spend up to $300 for a complete solution (not including computer, which I'll buy separately.) So that's $300 for a robot and a script to guide it. What do you think? Is this doable or reasonable? Do some research and I might give you part or all of that money to build it. ;)
EDIT: To all you people who said "Just hire a teenager," well, that's just not nearly geeky enough for me. Plus, I may want to do this again in the future.
How NOT to apply for a job.
Well, I just had a rather interesting and funny conversation over AIM with a hapless job-seeker. I thought I'd post it here for your benefit (names have been changed to protect the innocent.)
[14:12] Hapless Job-Seeker: hello
[14:13] simplisales: Hello :) This is Erica from Simpli sales. How may I help you?
[14:14] Hapless Job-Seeker: i was wondering if u could check out my resume :p
[14:14] Hapless Job-Seeker: (Link: [to posted resume])
[14:14] Hapless Job-Seeker: thanx a lot
[14:15] simplisales: You know you messaged me about this before, right? :)
[14:15] Hapless Job-Seeker: :p
[14:15] Hapless Job-Seeker: did i?
[14:15] Hapless Job-Seeker: its possible :p
[14:15] simplisales: And I said:
[14:15] Hapless Job-Seeker: what was ur answer
[14:15] simplisales: [12:47] simplisales: Then why the heck are you using "u" in your resume? Do you expect companies to take you seriously?
[14:15] Hapless Job-Seeker: ahha!
[14:15] Hapless Job-Seeker: thanx
[14:15] simplisales: And I see that advice went straight to the pooper.
[14:15] Hapless Job-Seeker: *looks for exscuse*
[14:15] Hapless Job-Seeker: *cant find one*
[14:16] simplisales: ;)
[14:16] Hapless Job-Seeker: so
[14:16] simplisales: You need to brush up on your professionalism.
[14:16] Hapless Job-Seeker: no mind changing revalations then :p
[14:17] simplisales: I would also recommend reading a couple books on how to write a professional resume.
[14:18] Hapless Job-Seeker: in fact, i have decided that this is not going to get anywhere :p
[14:18] Hapless Job-Seeker: and have made a concious desicion to go and smoke lots of dope :p
[14:18] Hapless Job-Seeker: goodbye
[14:19] simplisales: Talk to you later.
Now there's a winner! ;)
By the way, we have filled the position advertised in my previous journal entry with someone from Slashdot. More about this later!