29 Jul 2008

Business Idea: Web App Competitions

Name ideas

Judging Criterion

Objective

To foster fantastic development principles through cutting-edge application development. And have a blast doing it. Create a burning desire in developers and their companies to create fantastic applications.Incentivize developers to innovate and be creative during the development process. Give Investors greater access to great developers and great apps that will generate revenue. When developers compete, developers get better. Stop dealing with the bureaucracy of development and write some code! Stop writing shortcuts and hack-jobs, write GREAT CODE.

Angle 1

Everyone puts in x amount which goes into the pot. Whoever wins based on criteria x, y, and z takes the pot. Pot = Pot input + investment capital - competition cost (revenue for company) - small payout to losers (or percentage off next competition).

Questions? Considerations?

Are they solving their own problems, or a specific problem? How do you regulate the rules? What are the payouts? How do you generate repeat developer competitions? Competition Blogs

Get an expert panel of judges:

Jeffery Zeldman Dave Shea Eric Meyers Joel on Software Dave Thomas Andy Hunt others?

Separate competitions by:

Team Size Opt-in price Time Period allowed Feature set required Specific Language Specific Frameworks Specific OS or Hardware

Additional Rules (how to enforce?)

Have to adhere to team size. Can't have previous codebase greater than 1000 lines of code? No OpenSource code that comprises greater than 30% of your application (excluding application frameworks) Inspection of codebase at each phase of competition. Short time periods

Why would people come back?

Discounts for subsequent entries. Getting your dev company on the map. Getting your dev company in front of investors.

Investors

Show investors viable companies/applications that are making a difference. No hassle for investors. They can peruse the database of clients and their apps at their leisure.

Angle 2

Bidding wars (?) for development companies for submitted needs from investors and other companies less apt to do the development. Companies wishing to bid, investors and companies wishing to buy, all pay a service fee to list their app/need for an app.

25 Jul 2008

Escaping Paralysis-Thinking

The following is an excerpt from chapter three of The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss, "Dodging Bullets: Fear-setting and Escaping Paralysis". Tim describes his paralysis-thinking that was keeping him from going on a short vacation away from his business.

Why don't I decide exactly what my nightmare would be, the worst thing that could possibly happen as a result of my trip.

Well, my business could fail while I'm over seas for sure, probably would. A legal warning letter would accidentally not get forwarded and I would get sued. My business would get shut down and inventory would spoil on the shelves while I'm picking my toes in solitary misery on some cold shore in Ireland, crying in the rain I imagine. My bank account would crater by 80 percent and certainly my car and motorcycle in storage would be stolen. I suppose someone would probably spit on my head from a high-rise balcony while I'm feeding food scraps to a stray dog, which would then spook and then bite me squarely in the face. Goodness! Life is a cruel, hard, beast!

Then a funny thing happened. In my undying quest to make myself miserable, I accidentally began to back-pedal. As soon as I cut through the vague unease and ambiguous anxiety by defining my nightmare, the worst-case scenario, I wasn't as worried about taking a trip. Suddenly I started thinking of simple steps I could take to salvage my remaining resources and get back on track if all hell struck at once.

I could always take a temporary bar-tending job to pay the rent if I had to. I could sell some furniture and cut back on eating out. I could steal lunch money from the kindergartners who pass by my apartment every morning. The options were many. I realized it wouldn't be that hard to get back to where I was, let alone survive; none of these things would be fatal, not even close; mere "panty pinches" on the journey of life. I realized that on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being nothing and 10 being permanently life changing, my so-called "worst-case scenario" might have a temporary impact of 3 or 4. I believe this is true of most people and most would-be "holy crap my life is over" disasters.

Keep in mind that this is the one in a million disaster nightmare. On the other hand, if I realized my best-case scenario, or even a probable-case scenario, it would easily have a permanent 9 or 10 positive life changing effect. In other words, I was risking an unlikely and temporary 3 or 4 for a probable and permanent 9 or 10, and I could easily recover my baseline work-a-holic prison with a bit of extra work if I wanted to.

This all equated to a significant realization: There was practically no risk, only huge life changing upside potential, and I could resume my previous course without any more effort than I was already putting forth. That is when I made the decision to take the trip...

I love the candor Tim speaks with that allows him to get down to the guts of his situation to define exactly what his vague fears were. Of course his "worst case scenario" is just sopping with sarcasm, as I'm sure any of the same conversations with yourself would be as well.

Eliminating the Paralysis

Tim then goes on and asks 7 important questions (well, really 7 topics of questions) that help you to pinpoint and identify your own self-inflicted thought-based paralysis. If you are in any way unsatisfied with your current direction in life, you NEED to do this exercise. Write down your answers to these questions, and as Tim says, "Keep in mind that thinking a lot will not prove as fruitful or as prolific as simply brain-vomiting on the page. Write and do not edit. Aim for volume. Spend a few minutes on each answer."

Note: I did not come up with this content or exercise, thus all copyright is retained by the author and/or publisher. I'm not trying to rip the guy off, but am extremely intrigued by his thought processes and insights.

Define your Nightmare, the absolute worst that could happen if you did what you're considering. What doubts, fears, and what-if's popup as you consider the big changes you can and/or need to make? Envision them in painstaking detail. Would it be the end of your life? What would be the permanent impact, if any, on a scale of 1 to 10? Are these things really permanent? How likely do you think it is that they would actually happen?

What steps could you take to repair the damage or get things back on the upswing, even if temporarily? Chances are it's easier than you imagine. How could you get things back under control?

What are the outcomes or benefits, both temporary and permanent, of more probable scenarios? Now that you've defined the nightmare, what are the more probable or definite positive outcomes, whether internal (confidence, self-esteem, etc.) or external? What would the impact of these more likely outcomes be on a scale of 1 to 10? How likely is it that you could produce at least a moderately good outcome? Have less intelligent people done this before and pulled it off?

If you were fired from your job today, what would you do to get things under financial control? Imagine this scenario and run through questions 1 through 3 above. If you quit your job to test other options how could you later get back on the same career track if you had to?

What are you putting off out of fear? What we most fear doing is what we most need to do. That phone call, that conversation, whatever the action might be, it is fear of unknown outcomes that prevents us from doing what we need to do. Define the worst case, accept it, and do it.

What is it costing you, financially, emotionally, and physically to postpone action? Don't only evaluate the potential downside of action, it is equally important to measure the atrocious cost of inaction. If you don't pursue those things that excite you, where will you be in one year, five years, and ten years? How will you feel having allowed circumstance to impose itself upon you and having allowed ten more years of your finite life to pass doing what you know will not fulfill you. If you telescope out ten years and know with 100% certainty that it is a path of disappointment and regret, and if we define risk as the likelihood of an irreversible negative outcome, inaction is the greatest risk of all.

What are you waiting for? If you cannot answer this without resorting to the previously rejected concept of good timing, the answer is simple: You're afraid, just like the rest of the world. Measure the cost of inaction. Realize the unlikelihood and reparability of most missteps and develop the most important habit of those who excel and enjoy doing so: ACTION.

It's high time I start thinking positively about my current situation in life. It's time for me to stand up and take action to accomplish my goals and dreams, and those of my family. How incredibly amazing is it that we have the ability to change everything about our lives, and it all begins in our minds. As President Benson (and Nike) say: (Just) Do It, and Do It Now.

25 Jul 2008

Achieving [Insert Life-long Dream Here]

Napoleon Hill's book Think and Grow Rich is a must-read. I'm saying this and I'm only 2 chapters in. It's fantastic. The insight into the psychology of human decision making is fantastic. My last post, Escaping Paralysis-Thinking, offers a few excerpts from Timothy Ferriss' brain child The 4-Hour Workweek and details possible steps to define your fears and how to get over them.

Similarly, Hill offers 6 ways to turn your ultimate desires into gold. He learned these six steps (or the principles behind them) from Andrew Carnegie, the early 20th century steel tycoon who created U.S. Steel, a company that earned over twenty billion dollars by today's rates. Although in the steps he illustrates that the goal is a certain dollar amount of money to gain, I strongly believe that these steps can and do apply to ANY goal or desire we wish to achieve. The psychology of the human brain is the same no matter what the end goal may be. So keep in mind that whenever he says "riches", or "money", you can insert your own life goals or desires and the effect should be the same.

The method by which your desire for riches can be transmuted into its financial equivalent consists of six definite practical steps:

  1. Fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire. It is not sufficient merely to say, "I want plenty of money". Be definite about the amount. There is a psychological reason for such definiteness explained in subsequent chapters.

  2. Determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the money you desire. There is no such reality as something for nothing.

  3. Establish a definite date when you intend to possess the money you desire.

  4. Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.

  5. Now write it out. Write a clear concise statement of the amount of money you intend to acquire. Name the time limit for its acquisition. State what you intend to give in return for the money, and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to accumulate it.

  6. Read your written statement aloud, twice daily. Read it once just before retiring at night, and read it once after arising in the morning. As you read, see, and feel, and believe yourself already in possession of the money.

It is important that you follow the instructions in these six steps. It is especially important that you observe and follow the instructions in the sixth step. You may complain that it is impossible for you to "see yourself in possession of money" before you actually have it. Here is where a burning desire will come to your aid. If you truly desire money so keenly that your desire is an obsession, you will have no difficulty in convincing yourself that you will acquire it. The object is to want money, and to become so determined to have it that you convince yourself you will have it.

If you have not been schooled in the workings of the human mind, these instructions may appear impractical. It may help you to know that the information they convey was given to me by Andrew Carnegie, who made himself into one of the most successful men in American history. [...] It may be of further help to know that the six steps were carefully scrutinized by the famed inventor and successful business man Thomas A. Edison. He gave his stamp of approval, saying that they are not only the steps essential for the accumulation of money, but also for the attainment of any goal.

There is so much more after that I wanted to transpose, but my fingers are tired. I highly recommend picking up this book. This material is where many many motivational speakers (see Anthony Robins) have gathered much of their curriculum and teachings. Even the cult hit The Secret uses near-verbatim teaching of Hill's concepts, though technically Hill's concepts are not his own, but are the concepts he learned from many successful people whom he met with and studied.

As for myself, I intend to follow Hill's instructions to the letter. Hundreds (or thousands, or millions) of successful people can't be wrong, can they?

24 Jul 2008

The "Key" to Success

Recently, I've started listening to Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It's a classic business novel aimed at grooming current and would-be entrepreneurs to be fantastically successful. Recent books I've read in the same vein include Rich Dad, Poor Dad, The Cashflow Quadrant, Rich Dad's Guide to Investing (all of which are authored by Robert Kiyosaki), and The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris.

I feel like I've been continually brought towards an ever nearing event or events in my life by reading these books. Each one has changed the way I think, often in large ways, and has allowed me to once again take a personal inventory of who I am, and what I feel like my purpose is.

Thus far in Hill's book, he has talked about the power of "the secret". After talking to Dustin, who has read Think and Grow Rich numerous times, I realized that the "creators" of the cult hit movie/book combo The Secret have borrowed many of the same ideas that Hill points out in the book. Anyways, this secret that Hill keeps alluding to (he doesn't say exactly what it is) is a power that has propelled many men (and women) throughout history to achieve great things and accumulate large sums of wealth. Thus far, I have taken the definition of "the secret" to be unrivaled determination. I am so excited to continue to grow and learn through reading the success stories and habits of those who have been successful before. In the end, I am determined to grow and progress as a human being. I am determined to write my own history (not literally, at least not yet) by making choices and decisions that improve who I am. There is definitely going to be more to follow on this, but I'm writing this several hours after I read the book and apparently am not that fantastic at writing... yet.

Small, measurable, achievable goals is the name of the game. Oh yeah, and solid determination to achieve them.

24 Jul 2008

Narrow Your Search Results

In light of the current thoughts and inspirations that I have been experiencing, I thought I'd record this epiphany that I have had in the last few days with regards to achieving goals. Like many people I know, every so often I get the gumption to set a bazillion goals to improve my life. I've had lists with 10 things, and lists with 110 things, yet each time I've created a goals list I am on fire for a short time, and then subconsciously decide not to do them.

I generally bail on a set of goals because of the scope those goals entail. I'm often setting goals for things like hygiene, eating/sleeping habits, work ethics, etc. What's more, many (or all) goals that have been set and abandoned are truly worthwhile things that I'd like to achieve... which is all the more frustrating. So here we go again. Only this time, I plan on succeeding.

This time my M.O. is to focus entirely on one goal at a time, overshadowed by a much larger goal that I could work on for the remainder of my life. A singular focus. By focusing on a single goal, I will have the ability to devote all my time and energy into incrementally achieving it, and getting incrementally closer to the "pie in the sky".

A few weeks ago in church I had a similar stroke of inspiration and took some quick notes... so here it is.


PERSONAL INVENTORY

Bad habits I don't like

Good habits I do like

Goals I'd like to Achieve

Ways to overcome bad habits

The next few posts will likely start boiling down to "whadda you want, whadda you want, whadda you want, whadda you want, whadda you want, whadda you want" so that I can decide what it is that I want to focus on. This is where the fun begins.