It’s time for the first quarter completion update(sort of, I’ll explain below):
This is a bit of a strange update. I was supposed to be doing ten week self improvement programs. I had classes lined up and goals set. Then, part way through this first quarter(as I was calling it), I jumped into a startup engineering course put on by Stanford through Coursera. There were two problems with that. The first is that it derailed the courses that I was already taking. The second, is that it won’t end until midway through my next planned quarter. So, saying I’m on or off track with courses is now harder to gauge. So, to handle a bunch of summer complications, I’m going to start my next quarter the week of August 11.
There are a few reasons for that date. First, the renovations to the garage can realistically be done by then along with some shelving and storage issues needed to move everything back in that needs to get moved back in. Second, it will give me some extra time to take my oldest son to do some educational activities during the four days he is between preschool and kindergarten without his little brother, who will still be in preschool. And last, my birthday is two days after kindergarten starts, so I might as well take two days without pressure on myself. I’ll consider it my summer break(sort of).
Now, all that being said, I’m still going to be working on the startup engineering course that whole time, I’ll still be exercising and doing almost everything I’ve been doing. I’ll just be letting go of the guilt of not being on track with those areas I haven’t been on track with. At least until the week of August 11. By that time, I should have eliminated enough speed bumps to allow me to get back up to speed.]]>
I’m going to stick with the quick status update for this week:
Things are going fairly well. Exercise is proceeding apace. Meditation has been pushed out of consideration temporarily. That comes more from where I am focus wise rather than time. I need to fix that, but last week and this week were not and will not be the weeks I fix that. I’m pushing that to possibly next week. Right now I have only been working on a single coding course. That’s because the startup engineering course is time based with homework and classes, so that has made the other classes hard to fit in in any meaningful way. So, I have done a little of one of the other courses, but not enough progress to mention. As for writing on this blog, I’m temporarily going down to this update and maybe another post a week until I can get past some additional responsibilities related to the house renovations.
House renovations are back on track. The current project is the complete renovation of a garage that is over 90 years old. It needed foundation, electrical, window work, trim work, drywall, paint, etc. It would be hard to do more work on that small building without tearing it down. In fact, tearing it down and rebuilding would probably have been easier, but would have destroyed a historic structure. I’m not doing most of the work, but I’ve been coordinating it. I have also been doing some exterior repair work and prep for painting the past week. That has been a surprising amount of work. There are numerous cracks, split boards, gaps and holes that all needed to be repaired. I still have quite a bit of that to do. That is eating in to some of my time, but it needs to be done and once that space is reclaimed, I will be able to work on certain projects more efficiently. More on that another time if it becomes relevant here.]]>
Many businesses go through the motions of defining a company culture. Others merely give lip service to the fact that a strong company culture is important. For the most part though, company culture is just something that happens to a company organically. That can turn out well or not. Usually though, it results in an inconsistent company culture at best. The experience in one part of the company could be vastly different than in another part of the company. At worst, the company culture can be completely at odds with the stated goals of the company.
Well, Netflix doesn’t fall into those traps. They focused on company culture early on. Not only did they focus on it, they kept their actual company culture aligned with their stated company culture by staying true to their company culture in hiring, firing and in crafting their work environment. If you want to get a good look at their company culture, their CEO Reed Hastings put out a slideshow outlining their company culture and how they deliver on it. You can find it embedded below. Let me know if you found their presentation compelling and, if so, what was most compelling to you about it?
I’m going to stick with the quick status update for this week:
Things are going well. Exercise is humming along. The exercise had become a routine with some help from my wife joining in.(She can always be counted on to join in where exercise is concerned.) Meditation is still out of my early morning routine due to a sense of urgency to put some other areas back on track. Once those areas aren’t driving me so much, I’ll start this week to move meditation back into the schedule. The key is going to be to just do it as the first task of my work day. My coding courses are slightly behind. That’s only because I put two of them on hold while I worked on the Startup Engineering course. There were a few areas in the prerequisites for the course that I was rusty on, so that meant a little extra work to get up to speed. Feeling pretty good about that now. I should be able to start working in more of the other courses again this week.]]>
The blog is a sobering (anonymous) account of how taking venture capital took a startup that was having some success and started it down the road to destruction. Of course, the blog is anonymous, so take what it says with a grain of salt. Unless the author decides to reveal their identity at a later date, we might never know if any of what is being written is true. However, it is an interesting read because it is all plausible. I would be surprised if there weren’t startups with similar experiences to those being described in the blog.
This blog shouldn’t scare you away from venture funding though. Instead, it should make you consider whether or not you should consider venture funding for your business. And if you take venture funding, you should remember that your investors might not always have the same interests or risk tolerances as you do. So, make sure you partner with investors that align well with you. And, in the end, make your own decisions. You might be spending the venture capitalists money, but they took a risk in you and you are also investing. You’re investing your time and your life. They have plenty of money. Your life is worth more.]]>
If you’re exhausted, you can take some time off to recharge your batteries. If you’re worn down, you might not be able to continue what you’re doing in the way you are doing it. In that case, you have to fix what has worn you down (maybe the way you work) and move on. Or if things are bad enough and you can’t fix what is wearing you down, maybe you have to move on to something new that you are still able to do.
A lot of people become entrepreneurs as a result of the second type of burnout. They’re worn down by either the meaninglessness of the work they’re doing or because of how they are being treated as an employee. So, rather than continue to either lose their souls to their work or allow themselves to be ground down for decades by less than desirable bosses, they decide to strike out on their own. While that’s a valid reason, it doesn’t work out well for everyone. It’s important to both know why you are burned out and who you are as a person before you can choose how best to fix your situation.
If you’re burned out because you have had horrible boss after horrible boss, you might decide that being your own boss is the solution. That could be a great choice for a real self starter that can do everything from finding business all the way through until billing. If you hate everything except for doing the work and would be ground down by hunting down work, dealing with customer complaints and doing your own billing, then you could be putting yourself in an even worse position. If that sounds like you, you might just have to hunt harder for a better work situation. That way you can focus on work without all the support tasks surrounding it. Or you could start a company with someone else who is willing to handle the aspects of the work that you just hate doing. In other words, there are always options, but for the best options you need to know yourself.
Now as for me, burnout isn’t something that I have ever experienced. I’ve been tired and frustrated during the busiest, hardest times in my career, but I can honestly say that I have always found meaning in the work I have done. Even more importantly, at least to me, I have always felt challenged by what I was doing. What I have done has changed so much over the years that I am always learning and doing something new. For me that seems to be one of the best protections against burnout.]]>
I’m going to stick with the quick status update for this week:
Things are going well. Exercise is humming along. I haven’t stepped it up to the next level yet, but it is firmly on track to remaining a routine. Meditation has somehow gotten forced out of my early morning routine. I’ll be working this week to move it back on. My coding courses are slightly behind. Notice the bold s at the end there. I added a startup engineering course from Coursera that I mentioned in a previous blog post. I also added a design course that I’ll mention later if I enjoy it. So, that trifecta takes more time than a single course, but I’m trying to push all three forward since the two new courses are on a fixed schedule and are being offered right now. Well, I have homework due soon, so I better get to it!]]>
Another part of the study that I found interesting was that the improvement in creativity didn’t hold true in work environments that didn’t use overhead lights, but instead used upright floor lights. The assumption made by the researchers is that work environments that have that style of lighting are usually more informal places where creativity would already be encouraged. What wasn’t mentioned in the article I was reading (I didn’t read the original study, since I don’t have access to that journal) was if the level of creativity in the environment with upright lights had a level of creativity that was equal to that in the environment with the dimmed overhead lights. It also didn’t mention whether or not the level of analytical work suffered in that environment.
So, what I take from this study isn’t necessarily that certain work environments should have dimmer or brighter lights, although that might not be a bad idea. I see this more as an indication that you shouldn’t expect people to operate at their peak creativity in just any environment. If you need people to be creative, you need to place them in an environment that they associate with creativity. And the same goes for analytical work. So, if someone has to do both kinds of work, they would perform better at both if they have two different spaces available to them; one geared to creative work and one geared to analytical work. I’ll be doing my best to see how I can modify my current work environment to reflect that.]]>
Unlike a lot of online MOOC(Massive Open Online Courses) classes, this one operates on a timeline, like a traditional class. That means it starts on a set day, has course material released on a weekly basis, has weekly graded homework and has a final project with a set due date. If you score well enough, you will get a certificate of completion. This is a good thing because it forces you to stay on schedule if you want to acquire the certificate. I’m definitely interested in the certificate if, but for the same reason that people collect badges on Foursquare. The reward of completing the class and learning is the real prize, but getting the certificate is a nice extra bonus.
So, that means I’m currently taking this course and an Objective-C class. I feel like I’m back in school again. The only difference is that I’m getting less sleep and hanging out with a lot fewer people. That’s okay though, I’m enjoying what I’m doing and I’m happy with the direction in which I’m heading. Enough writing for now, I have to get back to class before the professor notices I’m not paying attention.]]>
This is going to be the quickest update to date:
Overall, I’m doing better than expected because not only are my house renovations ahead of schedule, but I’m going to have to do less of the work myself. That means I’ll have more time to fix the areas where I am a bit behind, which is great news. My mood is slightly stressed due to too many balls in the air, but that is improving and I’m optimistic that the trend will continue to be positive.]]>