Sat, Aug 22, 2015
This is part two of a two part series:
Part 1: Introduction & Goal Setting
Part 2: Focus & Conclusion
Focus is your secret weapon for removing a lot of the decisions and emotions from the process of you progressing towards your goals. Focusing on only one thing at the time not only makes your workload appear less intimidating but allows you to give 100% of your attention/concentration to the problem/activity at hand, in terms, leading to a high quality outcome than if you tried juggling with few things at the same tame, or, had that other thing on your mind bothering your.
Focus: On What
When we speak of focus here, we mean it in the sense of focusing on one activity, one work item. Your goal setting time and planning/meetings should do the job of thinking out what is the logical next steps, in what order you need to accomplish tasks. But, when you are sitting at your desk, alone, ready to work, you should focus on the smallest next step to achieving the next item on your to-do list, that’s it.
Focus: As a habit
Many people don’t expect things like success, happiness, health, relationships to be things you have a lot of control on, but, most people that are doing really good in those areas of their life got their voluntarily, got there by working on having good habits so that cultivating all those becomes second nature. So many great books and resources talk about habits and how powerful of an impact they can have on your life if make a concious decision to weed out the bas ones and work on the good ones.
(TL;DR) Set your goal (note the lack of plurial) for the day, week, 90 next days, 5 next years, adjust them continusly as you progress, don’t forget it’s normal to have a set of goal for your work than for your personnal life than for… It’s essential that when you sit down to work you have already planned and prepared what is next too be done so you can simply focus on the next small task at hand, it’s a real productivity enabler. Focus can be built as a habbit, as many other healthy habits, it will definitively make a better you if you stick with it long enough
This was part two of a two part series, in the first post I introduce the subject and define what exacly we mean by goal setting:
Part 1: Introduction & Goal Setting
Part 2: Focus & Conclusion
Sat, Aug 15, 2015
Health and more generally less technical subjects are not talked about that much
among programmer (and more generally people working in front of a computer daily).
Don’t you think this is a bit weird, the people who would get the most benefit out
of good ergonomics and healthy habits are the least exposed to it. Although, this
is changing slowly.
As you may have came to realize, taking care of your body and health is central
to your daily mental performance, focus and tiredness, in terms, impacting your
happiness doing your work.
This blog post is a try at putting together a short list of simple habits / things
to look out for daily to instantly improve your health.
For most of the items that follow, the very best way to approach implementing one of them in your daily life is to track whether or not you followed them using a spreadsheet.
(I just started doing so not so long ago and it really helps)
Read up on the Bulletproof Diet it’s not
so far from the Paleo Diet, only, with a little bigger list of food to avoid and
tons more good fats (especially butter). To explain it quickly, it’s a diet that
promotes mainly eating raw foods, so, a lot of vegetables and meat in enough
quantities so that you aren’t hungry anymore, plus, it add a special concoction
called bullet proof coffee and promotes fasting from 8pm to 12-13 the next day,
only having that special coffee for breakfast. Benefits range from: easy to stick
with as everything is yummy, makes you loose fat with almost no workout and feeds
your body all the best. The best part is that it’s built on years of scientific
research and bio-hacking not on common sense, grandma’s saying of companies
Stand up and stretch, move around a little, do jumping jacks, push ups each
30 minutes. Your body will thanks you 100 times in the long run, plus, your
focus will be instantly improved.
Next up is a really general “no non-sense”, “the less the merrier”, list of
things to avoid as much as possible (here tracking with a spreadsheet really
helps staying accountable).
- No smoking
- No Alcohol
- No Sugar
- No dairy, soda, carbohydrates (mostly), fruits (in too big quantities or the morning), …
- No porn, masturbation, orgasm (more on that in the next point)
No PMO; In other words stop watching porn, masturbating and orgasming as often
as you do at the moment. Again, a lot of research has gone into this and you wont
believe the consequences of doing it / benefits of abstaining. You may have heard
of the nofap movement on reddit, well it’s not so far from that but applied to
anybody. A good source of information on this subject is a website/book called
Your Brain On Porn.
Meditate daily, meta-cognition really helps you improve. Here, HeadSpace helps.
Writing or journaling as this meta-cognition moment when you are writing makes you internalize the lessons you had during the day, the new things you learned and realize what progress you did.
Reading, more generally learning constantly.
Fri, Aug 14, 2015
Ho boy, what a week!
You know what? I did it, I launched it: Prosty.io is live!
Ok, it’s not as grand as I wanted it to be when I started this project 7 days ago,
this is only a quickly put together landing page plus email list sign up. But, I said
I would launch what I had on Friday and that’s me honoring what I said.
I have a bunch more designed and coded up but it’s still missing a lot of work
to be a fully functional application.
The thing is:
1. I had a something pretty serious that approached “chronic fatigue syndrome”
symptoms. I wasn’t able to be productive at anything all, I wanted to do was
go take a nap or eat, always.
Seeing how serious it was decided to put an end to it and slept for a day and a
half straight, waking up only to eat. That got me back on my feet. I begin to
think I was simply really exhausted with all this travel, weather change, stress…
2. I also have client work to do and have been catching up after not doing
much since I landed in Cracow 1 week ago.
I really believed this 7 day startup launch was possible if I focused on the minimum
needed and stayed in a super-productive state, but, that didn’t happen.
So, let’s adjust the schedule and, following Amy Hoy’s ship by September challenge, Prosty.io will launch it’s fully-functional MVP no later
than the 31st of August at midnight (EDT).
Where’s the progress report?
Yes, yes, it’s coming, as this title suggests I will start making these progress
reports until I launch as I think it’s a really good motivator not to slow down
or stop, studies proved it. Shall we start?
What has been accomplished
- Write a thorough README for the codebase that includes a project description, technology choices, an outline of all endpoints & more
- Write an initial first part of the text for the marketing (/landing/home) page
- Design on paper the 50% of the planed for MVP pages
- Setup up the project’s codebase
- Setup Heroku (hosting), this was needed for publishing that current version
- Setup DNS properly in Cloudflare
- Define the Companies, Users and ComapnyUsers tables
- Finish the sign in & sign up page design in html & css
- Finish the backend code for the sign up page
- Finish the initial marketing/landing/home page design in html & css
- Start reading up Stripe’s documentation for OAuth integrations and thinking of how Prosty will use it’s api.
What is next
I am concentrating head down on making the initial client’s path work so:
Landing page -> Sign up -> Dashboard (/w on-boarding) -> Connect Stripe ->
Dashboard (/w next on-boarding step) -> Create client -> Client page -> Create
payment -> …
Like this the project makes progress in a structured way that is motivating as you
know how far a potential user can already use your application. Plus, you are not
working left and right on different parts not seeing any progress.
Sorry if you read my blog and didn’t find this post deeply interesting, I know fully
that this article was mostly for me, don’t worry, I will write other posts that will
be more educative/interesting that progress reports.
Sat, Aug 8, 2015
I have now been reading startup related books for quite a while, even smaller
books about ideation, launching quickly, launching now, this blog post is about
applying those lessons, this weekend! Enough putting off, enough being part of
the 98% that says tomorrow or not now or not for me.
Book I read related to this:
Even to some extent:
So here I am, jamming on Daft Punk, in a café, just started the Bulletproof
Diet, just landed in Krakow, Poland, just came back from vacation, had an
idea before bed yesterday and am building it now! Don’t ask me why it took
so long, the important thing is I am taking action now.
I wanted a simple thing to build, and ideally solving some problem I had.
That’s when I thought about my recent experience trying out at least 4-5
SaaS application aimed at helping freelancers manage projects, invoice their
clients and track their time. My main gripe with most of them was that they
all did really well at least one of there things but almost always had poor
support for receiving payments from clients (Xero was really good but a bit
to big for me at this point). But because they almost all adopt the do-it-all
strategy they often have less that well done features in areas that are still
important to running your business.
So, I am building an application with two business goals in mind: First, gather
payments from clients really well whichever gateway you use. Second, to
integrate with you other software that you might be using for invoicing
to sync clients and paid/unpaid status.
My Goal #1 is to solve my own problem of taking payments with something
else than PayPal in Freckle.
My Goal #2 is to monetize (read market and get users) this product to a
1000$ MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) to help attenuate the consulting ups and
Step 1: Defining launch date
Too many times I read about people afraid of launching, worrying they don’t have
enough, they need X and Y feature more. Also:
If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.
- Reid Hoffman
So, I will launch, whatever I have at that time, on Friday the 14th of August
giving me 7 days.
Step 2: Defining core a core feature set
The core feature set should aim to solve one use case, mine, like DHH often
stated, he built Ruby on Rails for his use case but is happy to put it on the
open for people to adapt it to their needs. Focusing on this not only makes sure
one group of clients is satisfied but also make you launch way sooner, obviously.
So, I want the product to have:
- Support for linking your stripe account using OAuth2
- Support for manually creating a client
- Support for manually creating a payment the client owes
- Support for sending an email to a client containing a payment link
- Page where the client can see his outstanding total and payments
- Page with all clients
- Page with client details and all it’s payments
- Payment processing sending money to client’s Stripe and taking a 0.5% cut
- A landing page linking to the sign up page
- A signup page
- A login page
Step 3: Building
… goes to work … (continued in following posts)
Sat, Aug 8, 2015
For the past six years I have been mostly focusing on becoming an awesome developer,
constantly learning new languages and technologies, working for a few different
companies. But, the past month, everything changed, I became a
consultant and started working on a per contract basis.
And wow does that involve a whole new skill set: marketing, networking,
designing my image, accounting, relationships, time tracking and plenty more!
As much as I adore the lifestyle it enables and the time I now have for side
projects there is one oblivious truth that surfaces (don’t worry I am coming
co-founders): I am far from being as productive, focused and growing of a
programmer than before.
You see, those added responsabilities of running a business really occupy my mind,
I have more trouble getting “in the zone”. Now this becomes even more prevalent
when you add up the additional challenges/responsabilities of running a startup.
That is where, if you start a business with two partners, you have the advantage
of the possibility of a clear separation in roles and a clear focused mind when
at work. This especially important as a startups most valuable resource is time.
With that in mind,
The technical co-founder brings:
- Knowledge of best technologies to tackle X or Y problem
- Experience building products from scratch
- Estimation of feasability of different features/projects
- Estimation of time it would take to build X feature/project
- Initial workforce to build the startup’s application
- Knowledge of what is a good hire when it comes time to subcontract/employ someone
- Often he will also be somewhat of a designer, UX guy and project manager.
- Deals/Talks to technology partners
The other co-founder brings:
- Domain knowledge related to the business you are starting
- Domain experience and knowledge of clients needs
- Takes on the initial marketing role
- Attend to networking events and generally gets the word out
- Constantly gathers client feedback and thinks of adjustments that can be made to the product to delight them
- Tries different acquisition channels
- Handles client relationships
And, together they both:
- Define the goals of the startup
- Define features that are musts and other that are nice idea for the future
- Talk about design decisions and how to delight users more generally
- Go found-raising when it’s time and if it’s right for them
- Moral support!
TL; DR; For any startup time is their most valuable resource, it’s their life
blood at the beginning, they need to optimize it’s usage. So, two partners starting
a business should aim to maximize the time spent by the technical co-founder,
head down, building their product. While, the other co-founder, aims to
constantly readjust trajectory/features to fit client needs from feedback gathered
and, more generally, build up traction, acquire new users.