July 12: Traction not tractors

By: D. MillerCC BY 2.0

Traction is vital, getting early customers to commit to using what I’m offering is very important.  Both are vital and important for my finances and startup growth, sure – but mostly for my sanity.

I’m a maker and an artist.  I make the art that is in my head.  Many of the things I make are because I had a problem and I expressed a way to solve them.  When I bring them to the market (as ineptly as I do) and expect some meaningful response, I am investing emotional energy into that. I care that I get a response – much more than the nature of that response.  I can handle praise and rejection but much less so, apathy.

So my new strategy of trying to be found by prospective customers is off to a slow start, but a start nonetheless.  Here is my check in:

  • Mad that I am really struggling to keep my schedule on track, my options for being flexible are limited when I start late and end later.  If I start on time (9.30) , I am actually far more flexible to do other stuff (like going to the beach!) because I would have made some progress.
  • Glad that I can changed most things to get back to routine – this is a really valuable thing about working for myself.
  • Glad I had another idea and my technique for welcoming them and giving them a slot to explore them is successful at keeping me focused on finishing
  • I’m grateful for having different onion skins to other people and having mine not constrain me from being myself.

I’m in (onion skins and all).

Improve On…

Being a better marketeer – better meaning braver, more authentic, more dedicated, better organised. Avoid the schmoltz.

Being a better researcher –  everything – my potential customers, competitors , collaborators.

 

Today

The trello board says it all.  basically as much of the stuff I have on there as possible. Mostly blogs.  But absolutely must…

Write ServiceChat blog post on ‘I am the greatest customer service expert in the world’.

Do some promotion work on Twumps and ServiceChat and get at least 20 unique visitors to each today.

 

The Trello board…

My_ONE_Place___Trello

 

Ask yourself if you are doing everything* you can to be successful

* – whilst remaining congruent with your values, fair to those you love and kind to yourself

What you get when you make smart people do stupid things

By: aisling kelliherCC BY 2.0

This post is a little overdue.  I promised my daughter I would post her experience as she described it to me and here it is.

My daughter Brianna is 16.  She is pretty smart (aren’t all our daughters!) and recently did her GCSEs  (the exams young people do in the UK after 5 years of high school).

Actually when I say she did her GCSEs, I mean she did some GCSEs.  You see, Brianna’s been doing them sort of staggered over the course of a couple of years. Her school encouraged her to sit for the subjects she was showing strength in early (like a year early), basically to give her a few chances of getting good grades – a practice run of sorts. It’s a great idea – can’t fault it.  You can use the system as an improvement tool or as a testing only tool. Taking the exams repeatedly and exploring the student’s weak areas and then focusing energy on improving that is a great way to use a dysfunctional system that places so much emphasis on how you do in a 2 hour exam!

Well, Brianna did her English exams earlier on in January and she got a great grade – an A!  So when the exams came round again in June, she was surprised to be told she would retake the English paper. Hadn’t she already aced the exam? She may have had weak parts of her knowledge, but what did those matter if she aced the exam?  In any case, those could be improved without her sitting the paper again.

Side Notes

A side note about exams and the propaganda of how good a school is.  In the UK, schools are judged, in part, on exam results. On how many students got an ‘A’, ‘B’ and so on. Not much is given to the innovation and creative thinking of young people or the real life application of knowledge or how well their learning was facilitated.   As a school, if you put 80 students up for exams and 80 of them got ‘A’ , you are considered the best!

Ok, so now you have an idea of how the system works, perhaps it’s clearer why a school might put a smart kid into the same exam twice.  If she aced it once, she most probably would ace it again – so they get twice  the kudos for the same student.  It’s the kinds of academic double accounting that would delight Enron management. This is what what the Politicians make the ‘educators’ do in order to survive in this system. It’s simply bananas!

Also, a side note about Brianna and exams. They place a strain on Brianna, she gets tired and worn out. Her school know this and yet, knowing fully well both her previous grade and her health concerns they still insisted she sit the paper.

Brianna 10 – Silly School 0

Well, my darling Brianna did something that surprised and delighted me in equal measure.  As she sat for the English paper the second time, she took the decision, independently and without declaration, to stage a most fantastic protest.

She ignored all the set questions on the paper and penned a letter to the unknown examiner. Brianna wrote about pop culture, what bands she loved. She wrote about current news items and ,fantastically, about the unfairness of making a student sit an exam they had already passed, again. In her own words:

.. I wrote my opinion on current pop culture, my opinion on issues in the news currently, why I think it’s unfair to make someone who already achieved their target resit the exam when they have exams they haven’t yet got their grades in. I laid it all out the way we’ve been taught and used all the different presentational features but just didn’t look at the content of the paper

I always knew her intellect was sharp (goodness knows I have been on the receiving end of it once or twice), but to make such a silent yet bold act of protest gives me huge pride and a quiet assurance that at least one young person in this generation of gamers and stylistas is going to give the establishment a run for its money.

There is an examiner out there who marked a paper that was entirely a letter, who – whatever they think of Brianna – cannot have failed to be surprised. I hope as an educator that they recognise that they are not alone in challenging the nonsense that government policy vis-a-vis testing as a means of measuring learning is. I would give that paper a A+ for both ingenuity, civic innovation and creative expression!

From my generation to yours, Brianna, thank you.

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

Why I Love This Poem

Often when I get physically/mentally/emotionally overwhelmed, the next thing that comes along can just tip me into total exhaustion.
When this happens, I feel defeated by everything, unable to rise to the challenge before me. I want to just be alone, to lick my wounds and be still, to be silent and be unnoticed. I want to rest and recover.
All of which are sometimes hard to do in a bustling house and running a startup.

At these times, I read Invictus and I am emotionally renewed, almost immediately. I may not physically be stronger, but mentally and emotionally, Invictus recharges me.

Invictus acknowledges how bloody hard life can be, for some and sometimes, downright brutal. It recognises that life is unpredictable and , truly, we control very little that affects us. Yet, like a rock on a tumultuous coast, one remains determined and independent, shaped by life but not be conquered by it.

Despite being very descriptive about the brutality of life and a little short on the joys that life can also bring, Invictus, for me, is about courage.

The courage to take responsibility for what one can, to do it humbly yet defiantly. Courage to be unshakeable even in the face of terrors of life – whatever they may be.

This courage feeds my hope and self belief that in the end I shall triumph against anything that life throws at me.

And that is why I love Invictus.

You?

What do you think of Invictus?

What do you take shelter in when life’s winds get stormy?

What are your favorite poems and why do you love them?

I would really love to share them. (and if you don’t currently read poetry, this is a perfect time to start)