Just a reminder from the NYTimes cartoon department. Work toward the “Wow!”.
Just a reminder from the NYTimes cartoon department. Work toward the “Wow!”.
After I left 8z, I contracted for about a year and a half. It was great fun, moving between projects, meeting a lot of new developers, and learned a lot of new things. I worked on evaluating software products and processes, supporting machine learning systems, large workflow engines, and, most recently, backend systems to stop distracted driving (they’re hiring, btw).
But I saw an email from Angellist early this year about a company looking to build a marketplace for kitchen space. (Aside: if you are interested in the labor market for startup professions, Angellist emails are great–they not only give you the company name and job description, but also typically include equity and salary–very useful information.) I replied, the conversation started, and I did some research on the company. They were pre-revenue, but the founder had been grinding it out for months and had an extensive background in the industry. Was clear they weren’t a fly by night, “we just had an idea for an app and need someone to build it” operation.
After discussions, interviews and reference checks, it became clear that this was a fantastic opportunity to join an early stage startup as a technical co-founder. So, I’m thrilled to announce that I have joined The Food Corridor as CTO/Co-Founder.
Why does this opportunity excite me so?
If you are interested in following along with the TFC journey, there’s a monthly newsletter that will be focused on shared kitchen topics.
As far as the blog, I expect to be heads down and building product, but will occasionally pop up and post.
Here’s to new adventures!
Another year slipped by! They seem to come faster and faster, just as promised by all the old men in the comic strips I read when growing up.
I recently had a couple of conversations about blogging: how to start, why to do it, how to maintain it. I thought I’d capture some of my responses.
After over twelve years of blogging (that’s correct, in 2016 my blog is a teenager!), here are the three reasons that I keep at it.
Of course, these reasons apply to almost all writing–whether magazine, comments on social networks, twitter, medium, answers on stack overflow or something else. So why continue to write on “Dan Moore!”? Well, I did try medium recently, and am relatively active on Twitter, HackerNews and StackOverflow, and slightly less active on other social sites like Reddit and Lobste.rs. All these platforms are great, but my beef with all of them is the same–you are trading control for audience. As long as I pay my hosting bill and keep my domain registered, my content will be ever-present. In addition, my blog can weave all over the place as my available time and interests change.
If you blog, I’d love to hear your reasons for doing so. If you don’t, would love to hear what is keeping you from doing so.
That was what a previous boss said when I would ask him about some particularly knotty, unwieldy issue. “What would the end solution look like if you could wave a magic wand and have it happen?”
For instance, when choosing a vendor to revamp the flagship website, don’t think about all the million details that need to be done to ensure this is successful. Don’t think about who has the best process. Certainly don’t think about the technical details of redirects, APIs and integrations. Instead, “wave a magic wand” and envision the end state–what does that look like? Who is using
it? What do they do with it? What do you want to be able to do with the site? What do you want it to look like?
Or if an employee is unhappy in their role, ask them to “wave the magic wand” and talk about what role they’d rather be in. With no constraints you find out what really matters to them (or what they think really matters to them, to be more precise).
When you think about issues through this lens, you focus on the ends, not the means. It lets you think about the goal and not the obstacles.
Of course, then you have to hunker down, determine if the goal is reachable, and if so, plan how to reach it. I like to think of this as projecting the vector of the ideal solution into the geometric plane of solutions that are possible to you or your organization–the vector may not lie in the plane, but you can get as close as possible.
“Waving a magic wand” elevates your thinking. It is a great way to think about how to solve a problem not using known methods and processes, but rather determining the ideal end goal and working backwards from there to the “hows”.
Is it too early to write a takeaway post before a conference is over? I hope not!
I’m definitely not trying to write an exhaustive overview of Gluecon 2015–for that, check out the agenda. For a flavor of the conversations, check out the twitter stream:
Here are some of my longer term takeaways:
To conclude, I’m starting to see repeat folks at Gluecon and that’s exciting. It’s great to have such a thought provoking conference which looks at both the forest and the trees of large scale software development.
Think about decisions from all perspectives…
I recently explored a business partnership opportunity that was quite exciting. I had met the possible partner a few years ago. He has technical chops (a software developer) and runs a company in a sector I’m very interested in. He had a SaaS application that had real traction–users, revenue. It wasn’t profitable, but looked like it could be shortly. If we could find a way to work together, I could own the technical side of things and let him focus on selling and marketing.
However, it didn’t end up working out. No blowups, thankfully, just a failure to find an arrangement that worked for both parties.
It was quite the emotional roller coaster ride for me. A business partnership is like marriage without the sex, and so we were both cautious, but it was very easy to get excited about working together and building a big business. It was all the more exciting to me because he’d done this before.
Here’s what went right:
And here’s what went wrong:
All in all a great experience. I learned a ton. Of course, I would have been happier if we could have reached agreement, but I understand why we ended up where we did.
I had coffee with a friend the other day, and he shared a business idea. I thought it was an awesome idea–I certainly saw the need in the marketplace and believed he had the skillset and resources to execute on the idea.
He’s still in the exploratory phase, so I offered to send gentle intros to people in my network who I thought would benefit from his idea. (The target market is anyone with a custom web application that makes money, or anyone who builds custom web applications and is looking for a way to provide ongoing support–if that is you, contact me if you would like to learn more.) I asked him to write a small spiel that he’d feel comfortable with me sharing. If you are thinking of doing this, make your friend write a spiel for you. If they can’t write a spiel, chances are they won’t be good at follow up and your intros will be wasted.
Then, I went through my LinkedIn network and put contacts into categories:
And then I sent soft pitch emails to almost everyone in categories 1, 2 and 3. The content varied based on which category someone was in, but for category 1, the email was something like:
I have a friend who owns a hosting company who is looking to talk to consulting companies about a possible new product he is thinking about offering. Here is his spiel:
[…spiel from friend …]
I wasn’t sure if this kind of software maintenance was something that your company wanted to keep inhouse, or if you would be interested in discussing this with him. I wanted to check before I did intros. Is this something you think is worth learning more about?
This way, my friends and contacts on LinkedIn don’t get spammed from someone they don’t know. Instead, they get an informative email from me, asking if they want to learn more. If they do (and about 10% did), I do mutual introductions, and then the ball is in their court. (Side note: here’s a great intro email etiquette guide.)
Why did I do this? Well, there were a couple of reasons.
First and foremost, because I thought it would be a win win for both sides. My friend gets more data about his offering and how the market will react to it. My contacts/friends on LinkedIn learn about a new product from a trusted source.
Second, I was able to do some social network housecleaning. I was able to ‘unlink’ with all people in category #5–it’s always nice to clean up your social graph.
Third, I reached out to people and had some interesting conversations. Some folks I hadn’t talked to in years. It’s good to reach out to people, and always better to do so with something of use to them, rather than a plea for work.
This was a fair bit of effort (a couple of hours). I can’t imagine doing this monthly, but once a quarter seems reasonable, especially if I’m reaching out to a different segment of my network each time. And I don’t have to do the whole process every time–spiel, linkedin, soft pitch, intro. I actually like scanning news sites and simply sending interesting articles to old contacts: “Thought you might be interested in this <link> because of XXX and YYY”. Those are super simple to send, and again, provide value and raise your profile.
Next time you talk to a friend who has a great idea, who can execute on it, and who will follow up with anybody you introduce them to, consider reviewing your social graph for prospects. Gentle intros can benefit all three of you.
A bit of a throughback (first posted on my blog here), but here’s a 3 minute parody video from 2007 about the impending tech bubble. Fun, but not very accurate.