Awesome parking service at Malaga airport. Love this crew! /cc #shoutout @1_parking

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I had to park my car for a week whilst I was away in the UK recently. It would have cost me €75 one way for a taxi and I thought it would be cheaper to park my car for a week. I wasn’t prepared how great a deal I was about to get!

After a quick google search, I discovered 1parking.com and frankly I was a little skeptical of how good their service would be. Meet me at the airport, park it for a week, return it clean and for only €38 – fuggedaboutit! I booked them online and got the email with details of the service and the meeting time etc.

Well, I was blown away. The driver met me at the terminal building at the agreed time, she spoke English and was really friendly. After a quick check round and signing the contract -at which point the car is covered by their insurance! The lovely lady drove off with my car and that was that. Fast forward a week and I called them after we landed as instructed – from the baggage belt – and my car was waiting at the same meeting point. Safe, clean and ready to rock!

What I love about these guys is that they deliver what they promise and they  do so whilst being flexible and friendly. Of course their prices are keen  – but most of all I love the convenience and the service.

How is this for clever? Turns out they can do a range of mechanical bits to your car whilst it’s parked up – oil changes, servicing and even put it through its annual inspection (the Spanish equivalent of the UK MOT test). How wonderfully simple and sweet is that?!

Frankly it’s a service I would steal and try and do myself – imitation is the highest form of flattery!

Perfection Game:

With 10 being perfect, I would rate them 9/10.

To get to a 10, I would suggest a native translation of their site into English (now it doesn’t read very well at all) and support for French, Danish, German and other European languages (natively translated of course). That would make them the awesomest car parking service ever!

Why share this?

Because I want to see more of these kind of businesses – that are dedicated to great service and offer awesome convenience. Celebrate what you love so you can get more of it. Simple. I get no financial gain out of doing this. Sharing is its own reward.

What businesses have delighted you? I would really love to hear about them – wherever they are in the world.
 

10 #problems I need your help in understanding better.

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I’d really welcome your help to validate some problems I see in various spaces and that I think I might have an idea to help solve. Whatever seems to have some promise will go into the next stage of me (with your help) trying to build something viable.

To be honest the ideas came first and I had to retrace my steps to get to the original problem – it’s a habit I’m trying to break – because I might be better lingering on the problem first without really forming a solution just yet!

Why Am I Sharing These?

Because I need help and more importantly, I don’t want to waste my life solving problems no one cares about.

Because I am not afraid of sharing any of this, on the contrary I welcome you to take from them as much as you want, be inspired and inspire others still.

Because I invite collaboration – if you feel drawn to any particular problem and would like to be part of solving it, then let’s do it together.What a better story to tell the grandchildren (Mike and built this amazing thing vs I stole this idea from Mike and shafted him royally!)

Because 100% of nothing is nothing.

5 Things To Do Next

  1. Join  Trello, join Mike’s Problems and Ideas board (it looks just like the image above) – Sign up is free and super easy.
  2. Browse the problems in the ‘I want to fix…’ column and add comments. Tell me how might I better understand this problem, what am I missing. I would appreciate more of the problem and less of the solution 😉
  3. Vote for the problems you love using the ‘Vote’ button. The ones with the most votes will likely get built.
  4. Subscribe to the problems you want to keep updated on, just click on the ‘Subscribe’ button.Finding_great_music_based_on_music_that_I_love_the_sound_of._on_Mike_s_Problems_and_Ideas___Trello-11
  5. Share this – if you know anyone who would can add value to our understanding of the problems – invite them to join – the more the merrier.

This is just the beginning – start your own Trello board of problems or let me know what ones you would like to add and we can make that happen too. Let’s fix as many as are worthy!

Stay joyful!

 

 

@kevindewalt says passion is the fundamental key to #startup success and I agree

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Kevin Dewalt – a really awesome startup investor and mentor and all round nice guy emailed me today about some of the lessons he has learned from offering his free advice service to over 150 founders.
Having spoken with, and shared stories of success and failure with so many founders, Kevin surmised that passion about the space that your startup is operating in is the fundamental key to having a successful startup. Basically if you don’t care about the people in that space and care deeply about helping them solve their problems, you’re going to have a really tough time making it work.

I absolutely agree with Kevin. I believe that passion is the fuel that sparks your curiosity and keeps you interested. It is the energy you call on when you are at your wits end. It is what makes you ask the questions others don’t. It is perhaps also what makes your failures hurt more deeply and hopefully what re-invigorates your recovery and success.

So now I use a passion test to filter the many ideas that I am lucky to have. If I genuinely don’t feel passion for the people the idea is designed to help, I ditch the idea – instantly. Sure, some ideas tease me a little longer and I dig deeper to see if something ignites that passion. But they still get tested.

What I am now seeing is that I actually have lots of excitement rather than a deep passion about many ideas and problems – a lot less passion than I thought I had. That’s the trouble with excitement – it passes very well for passion in the first few days of an idea. It’s kind of lust vs love!This is great insight because it also leads me to explore more deeply what I am truly passionate about.
What are you passionate about? Whose problems do you want to help solve?

BTW – if you are new to startups and need some really insightful and relevant knowledge, I can highly recommend Kevin’s blog and his free advice sessions. Tell him I said ‘Hi’.

Would you recommend a company you've worked or are working with to a friend?

The world seems all skewed to the ’employer’ – clearly because they are doing all ’employees’ a favour by hiring them 😉

But seriously though, I think it is high time that people looking for work should be able to easily search organisations seeking people to work with using recommendations, endorsements etc. to determine if they would really want to work with them. If social media is going to make a difference, it surely should start in the world of work.

I would like to disrupt how people find work because I deeply believe this skewed world is keeping the world of work soulless and joyless. And that sucks, let’s change it.

As I start to explore this, I’d like some help to understand how people feel about the organisations they work with and whether they might even want to work with organisations that their friends work with.

 

10 things I learnt from being off the Internets for 30 days.

 

I took 30 days off all social media and most of the distracting internet. That really meant – no Twitter, no Facebook , no LinkedIn and most news sites were off. The only things in were Github and stackoverflow and a handful of other sites directly connected to my work.

Here are some insights from my time away:

  1. The first 3 days were the hardest.
  2. I had a habit – who knew! Checking my timeline and Facebook updates within 2 minutes of waking up is WTF!? This habit is really about my needs to learn and to feel part of a community, to be an audience for others and to have an audience for my ideas too.
  3. Deleting Twitter and Facebook apps on my phone and my laptop were essential to breaking the habit!
  4. Not checking Twitter and FB the first thing after I wake up gives me more time to cuddle my wife.
  5. My internet of everything is actually pretty small. The internets is vast but actually I only visit 5 to 12 non-work related sites a day. Mostly news and startup blogs – a miniscule percentage.
  6. I use my mobile mostly for Twitter, FB and email. With 2 switched off and the last on essential service only, I really didn’t need the expensive plan or expensive phone.
  7. Having a great interaction on Twitter or FB does not mean I actually like the other person or they like me or we will every be friends. It is a mirage of a relationship and it was rewiring my brain. There is more to a person than their tweets or Facebook updates. Without knowing this person, my brain fills in the blanks based on their tweets. If I like their tweets, chances are I like them and vice versa. This emergent behavior is pretty concerning, I am making value judgements based on very little data.
  8. I get a lot more done without all that Twitter and Facebook checking or updating – at least once I got my head away from thinking about going on them.
  9. I didn’t miss how I was using Twitter and Facebook. I think there is a better way to use both that gives me and others far more value. The really interesting conversations I wanted to have need more than a tweet. They need some thought, perhaps a blog post (more than 140 characters) and some conversation. I think this is where the power of Twitter really is. What I really missed was TED. I think it’s awesome and I need to keep watching – just a little less.
  10. Twitter and Facebook as I currently use them are not very useful to me. Moderately entertaining maybe, but not really useful. A useful network is more than people –  it needs purpose. Twitter is a channel –  a pretty meaningless one for most of the time until someone gives it substance and context – like an Arab Spring.

What Next?

There’s no denying that there are some interesting conversations to be had on Twitter and Facebook and over the last 4 years of using both I have had lots of conversations with lots of seemingly interesting people. But those conversations have overwhelmingly been shallow and throw away. If I consider the time I spent on Twitter as an investment, the returns are pretty low. So I’ve decided to significantly limit the time I spend on it even just having it running in the background.

Check in a couple of times a day

So I won’t be running Twitter whilst I work, it’s way too distracting. In fact I shall be using the cool OSX Mavericks feature of ‘Do Not Disturb’ to make sure all notifications are muted.

Since I work with a timer utility and my working day is divided into timed units, I’ll simply add a couple of 5 minute slots in the daily routine to see what interesting things are going on, reply to mentions or queue up longer post-replies on my blog. This goes for Facebook too and for the TED talks that I watch.

Less social distraction. Blog more about what I care about.

One of the things I really love about being on Twitter are the thoughts that the tweets I read inspire. What I really want to do is to reply deeply but the medium does not allow this. So I will blog a little more rather than tweet and post the blog as my response to those tweets. If the conversation is to continue it will need to do so on my blog site in a much easier to follow thread.

I would highly recommend taking a break from all things connected – you get more of your life back. Your real life –  the one with people and feelings and stuff. You also get your time back – to think, make and do versus simply being titillated by cute cats and clever 140 character quips.

 

Memo to me: Buying Paper and Pencil iPad gizmos won't make me draw or sketch like the cool kids.

Screen capture from http://www.fiftythree.com/pencil. It's their copyrighted imagery!

Screen capture from http://www.fiftythree.com/pencil. It’s their copyrighted imagery!

I love FiftyThree.com.

They are just the creative types that I’ve always aspired to. Whilst I am a creative thinker – in people solving mostly – I am not a natural drawer of attractive things. Stick figure drawing is more my style. Actually it is my only style and badly too.

Yet when I see Paper and it’s natural accessory – Pencil, I am sorely tempted to indulge in the app, the accessory and a new iPad Air to do it all on. Tempted but I won’t, because I know this is all aspiration marketing. See the cool kids do it, think you can be cool – buy the gadget, try it at home, fail repeatedly, eat ice-cream for comfort, get fat, the End.

Seriously though, if I were a drawer of attractive things I would actually buy this stuff, it looks like it was made with love and deep passion for the craft. When I first got my iPad 1, thought it would be cool to have a pencil shaped stylus – but there wasn’t one on the market and I was too busy to invent it. But that was many moons ago and I’ve come to terms with my inability to do the cool drawing thing on 3 iPads (and a token Android tablet too!).

And…what an awesome product website! Totally love the way they decompose the pen.

If you end up buying this stuff and it actually improves your drawing ability and revolutionises your ideation – please come back and share your story – I might change my mind.

Stay joyful.