Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dreamlines - Doing...

I little while back, I posted an insanely disorganized post about my dreamlines. Today, I can offer an update.

As a result of my inability to follow directions, I did my dreamline a few times in that post. A few recurring themes: 1) Relax, 2) Get in Shape and 3) Enroll in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and 4) Spend more time with family.

I can't say I'm relaxed and I'm definitely not in the shape I want to be in. But I did enroll in BJJ today! This, unquestionably, will get me in shape. I'm wiped out right now. I cannot believe how much of a workout I got in just an hour long session. I was drenched in sweat, am already sore and expect that tomorrow when I wake I'll have a hard time walking. I believe that this will reduce my stress levels and naturally help me relax more. Three birds, one stone.

As for spending more time with the kids - I can't say I'm where I want to be, but I did start playing the Wii with them. My 18 month old son brings the controllers to me and is so cute that I have to go in there for a bit. He loves the Wii, even though he doesn't actually play it. He holds the controller and makes noises during the tennis game! We high-five each other when we do well - so awesome!

I also play against the older kids. I don't let them win though - I'm too competitive and they are equal competition (if not better at times). All-in-all, I feel good about spending this little time doing something with them that we all enjoy.

I intend to go to at least 2 BJJ sessions a week - probably more when I'm not traveling. I look forward to learning more about it and I totally expect to enter tournaments within a year as my skill level warrants it. Right now, now way! I hope that I can be in a place within a year to be able to compete, even if I don't finish first (or second, or third, or ...) The experience will be great.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Another 4HWW blogger - welcome!

Today, I received a comment on one of my posts. Turns out, we have another friend in the 4HWW "journey/trial/diary" community! I wish to welcome hilarycat to the group and wish her and her husband the best in their personal journey to achieve the 4HWW lifestyle. Please take a moment to check out her blog and read through the various postings:

Keep it up hilarycat!

Slow, but moving forward...

I can't believe I haven't updated my blog since the 15th! Terrible. I have been consumed with work for my employer, our existing biz and one of the new businesses discussed in this blog. I have also made minimal progress on the original business idea that started this whole thing.

I think it is time to go back and re-read the 4HWW. My time is less and less and I really need more and more! :-)

It's amazing to me how quickly things can get started and then, as the details hit, start to slow down. Simple things, like getting corporate ID kits can take a while to get right. To this end, I no longer will support my positive endorsement of LogoDesignPro's. To be fair, I wish to expand.

We hired them to create a logo and corporate ID kit for my existing company about 2.5 years ago. Things went very smoothly and timely. The quality of work was impeccable. So I recommeneded them to my partners for our current startup. The result? We got a very beautiful logo - high quality, great design work. But when it came time to start the corp ID kit, well, they simply got lazy. Getting revisions was time consuming and the revised efforts were just as sloppy as the original presentation.

In an effort to save time, we went elsewhere. The design and turn-around time from the other company we selected was fantastic. After three revisions, mostly text related, we received the original graphic files. Now, for the fun!

Thank goodness one of our partners works in the graphics industry. Turns out, what we see on screen isn't necessarily what will be reflective of what ends up on the stationary, envelopes and business cards. This is because the design color selection was for presentation over the computer. The printers use a different color scheme. Can you imagine the frustration we would have felt after paying for and receiving 5,000 pieces of stationary, 5,000 envelopes and 5,000 business cards - just to see that they don't look the way we expected? This is possibly avoided if you use a local printer, but we are bargain shoppers and found one online. That introduces some risk.

How did we avoid this frustration? Thanks to a little research and pre-existing knowledge, we submitted our graphics to Costco for very limited prints. This allowed us to see what the end result should look like. Can you believe it took 3 trial runs and changes to the graphics before we got it right? This easy and relatively inexpensive step saved us a great deal of expense and frustration. We have now submitted everything to the actual printing company and cross your fingers that what we get back matches up with what Costco produced.

On another front, I'm growing impatient with some of my Rent-A-Coders! One very trivial task was assigned over two weeks ago. I still don't have my code and need it for part of this project. I check in every two or three days, and each time I check in, I'm told I'll have something in two days time. Bug here, downed internet there; oh, the excuses amaze me. On my first few projects I got very timely and proper results - as previously posted on this blog. My last few projects don't share the same excitement. But, alas, I have time and am not too worried. If anything, my own lack of time is going to cause bigger delays and the launch then these little efforts.

All the groundwork is in place. Now, it's about launching this thing. I have significant work yet to achieve on our website, but most other aspects are near completion. Bank Accounts, Corp Creation, Marketing Material, trademarking, phone system, fax system, email, etc... - all in place or very near completion. But....can't do much without a website, huh? I better start burning the midnight oil for a week or two so that I don't upset my partners who are eager and excited to get moving forward.

It will be interesting to see what happens after we actually launch. It took me about 3 months to get our first business up and running, but that was with me working nearly full-time on it. Once we launched, we started making money from day one. The nature of that business is a little different from this one, so we'll see if the same holds true. Time will tell - stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Ouch - no posts since last Thursday! That's not good. I have been very busy on my little vacation, which ends today.

It actually takes quite a lot of effort getting a new business up and running! :-) Can you believe that? Even with partners - there are steps that just take time.

I can say that we are about 70% of the way there with one of the biz ideas. Most of my time, recently, has been spent on approving graphics and doing web development for the actual functionality behind the site. It's coming along nicely.

I have severely violated the twice a day checking email rule! To be honest, I have never commited to it except to not check my email more than once an hour. However, I have sadly failed at even that. I have to get down to at least a few times a day because this is definitely a distraction. Especially when you have a few different projects going on with eLance or Rent-a-coder AND when you are communicating with your partners about various ideas AND when you are trying to do software development. Software development takes a great amount of focus, so when I check my emails so frequently then it really ruins my ability to be a productive programmer.

Which leads me to my next point: Email is a pain to begin with. Imagine having five or six different email accounts - some of which support POP clients and some don't. So I find myself regularly checking email not in just one place, but in multiple places. This makes a time consuming task even more time consuming.

Therefore, I need to eliminate a few of these email accounts. I can't get down to one - that's just not realistic. Let's tally these up:

1. I'm employed by someone. Can't get rid of that account until I quit.
2. I still help support a company that we started over two years ago. Can't get rid of that one.
3. I just acquired ANOTHER email address as a result of this next venture that's 70% foundation complete.
4. I'm getting ready to start ANOTHER company with one of my new buddies.
5. I have a personal email account that I won't let go of no matter what.

There: 5 email accounts that I kind of HAVE to keep (4 existing, one to be soon).

6. Then, I have an email for this blog - which is to allow me to stay anonymous until I wish to no longer be anonymous.
7. I have a general purpose email account that I use for various programming forums. I only check it when I make inquiries and anticipate responses.
8. I have a total junk email account that I use when registering on sites with whom I'm not familiar. I don't want 20million spam mails coming into any of my valuable accounts.

Shoot...It doesn't look like I can get rid of too many of these, huh? What I can do, however, is get everything consolidated into accounts that support a POP client (like Thunderbird) and get away from accessing web-only mail clients.

Contract Manufacturer: I have a few updates but still trying to nail down a specific cost. We are making progress though.

VA: Very happy with ALL of the work we have had done to date. However, my opinion of LogoDesignPro's has been downgraded. 2.5 years ago - they gave a great product with great service. Now, they have given a great product, but the service aspect has been less than adequate. If I were in a huge hurry then I wouldn't be happy at all. However, we do have time still on our side.

That's it for now. I'll continue to keep you updated on progress and any obstacles that come about.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Another Day...


-Finalized Graphic Design concepts for home page of web site. Had IM conversations with the actual designer - super nice guy and very quick at what he does. He lives half a world away from me, but totally understood all the concepts of what I was asking for. We spent about an hour going back-and-forth with ideas and concepts and we ended up with something that I think is perfect! It's nice to have access to this type of communication.

-Plugged voice-over recording into 800 line. Quality was too high (go figure) so I had to have VO artist reduce the quality! :-) She responded to my inquiry within minutes. I am super impressed with her and will continue to use her where applicable.

-Continued Research into Call Centers (not me, one of my partners). BTW, doesn't look like any of the call centers mentioned in 4HWW are going to work. They either require too much up-front money, are non-responsive or don't call anyone except existing customers.

-Continued development for web site/back end system. After struggling with FCKEditor on Rails 2.x, I found a nice little substitute that I rather like: TinyMCE. Very easy to use, easy to plug-in and does what I need it to do!

-Explored additional product/marketing options with my partners.

I have to keep in mind that not every day is going to have ground-breaking progress. As I get into the programming aspects of the site things can go slowly at first. Once the foundation is put in place then things start happening very quickly. I typically try to handle the harder parts of things first and then go to the easier aspects. This strategy doesn't always lend itself to quick "eye appeal" but works out best in the end and, from a software perspective, helps keep things architecturally sound.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Dreamlining - Step by Step w/o read ahead

I read the book quickly to establish concepts. Now, I must go back and re-read certain things to do the excercises. One thing I recalled was "Dreamlining" - so I looked in the index and it put me on page 53. I'm doing this step-by-step - I haven't read to the end of the section. Let's see what happens:

1) What would I do if I knew I couldn't fail? If I were 10 times smarter than the rest of the world. Instructions say to list up to five things - six months and 12 months. Here goes (yes, would look much better in a table or spreadsheet - but, oh well - goes back to my original statement of writing w/o trying to be pretty about it):

Six Months:


Free Time

Freedom from financial stress (note, different from financial freedom)



Me, but better

Me, with less stress


River Trip - just me and lady and then with entire family, with boat that I may or may not own or owe money on.

12 Months:


Backup plans with respect to finances.

Time to explore things that ultimately makes me happy


More relaxed

Better in my relationships with children and lady.

In better shape - specifically with respect to stamina (see Doing)


Tryout for a show or movie. Why not! Always thought about it, let's try it out!

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with one of my sons - at least two times a week (I was a pretty damn good wrestler and I would love to introduce all of my sons to a sport like this. However, they don't share my same desire. My second youngest will need this for some discipline - I can already tell he's a mini-me - and if I do it with him then he may want to do it too.) I think this form of Martial Art is perfect for me and my children.

2) Not applicable - it helps you if you can't figure out one above - which I was able to do.

3) Convert each being into a doing:

Me, but better - uhhh...hhhmmmm... :-) Maybe I should now go back to step two! LOL

Me, with less stress - Yoga, Excercise, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (as already stated in DOING)

More relaxed - Same as above. Practice deep-breathing as though I were in labor - which is scientifically impossible - I think, for me! :-)

Better in my relationships with children and lady - ahhh... be sweeter, focus on her needs instead of mine. Spend more time with kids in sports activities. Play the Wii more often and let them beat me (uh... they already do).

4) What are the four dreams that would change it all?

Hhhmmm....was I dreaming? Shoot. Now I recall that these were supposed to be unrealistic! Hahaha... Shoot. Freedom from financial stress, River, Better in my relationships, Me, with less stress. Can I go back and change my answers? Hah... Seriously, hitting it big with a biz should have been listed. Okay... I want to hit it HUGE with at least one of the two biz ideas on which I'm currently working. I think financial relief was assumed in my statement, but not stated. Therefore - make at LEAST one of my biz's successful. BTW, thanks for letting me cheat! You would too!

Okay...after second thought - I realized I didnt' follow directions (it said to think unrealistically). Sorry, but this is about me! Endure it!

1) What would I do if I knew I couldn't fail? If I were 10 times smarter than the rest of the world. Instructions say to list up to five things - six months and 12 months. Here goes (yes, would look much better in a table or spreadsheet - but, oh well - goes back to my original statement of writing w/o trying to be pretty about it):

Six Month:


A Live in a lakefront home In Lakeway, TX (so I can go to Austin for the nightlife, enjoy the lake by day)

My children (all of them) with me in Lakeway, TX.

A hugely successful biz that doesn't consume more than 40% of my time.


20lbs heavier - which means I'm back in shape (I'm one of those odd freaks who loses weight when not working out instead of gaining weight)

Totally happy (never experienced it for long periods). Maybe I should say less manic! :-)

A movie star or famous in some other way


Working out 5 days a week, not including the two or more sessions of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Whatever it takes to free me of what I now know as reality

12 Month:

Same as above! ;-)

2) Same as above, but with more relevance since I clearly didn't follow directions

3) Convert each being into a doing:

Start working out! Enroll in BJJ.

Uhhh...shrink? Nah... exercise will help!

Get off my butt and go to a tryout for some show or movie. Suffer Humiliation, then do it again and again until the humiliation goes away (sorta like Tim's concept of lying down on a sidewalk in a busy place!).

4) What would change it all?

Well, movie star would be a good start. But successful biz would be a nice second! Money changes a lot. I'll take that for now.

5) Cost of dreams and Target Monthly Income for both six and 12 month timelines

Hhhhmmm....I think this should be kept private, don't you? Thx! the format shows up! Page 57 has a sample layout. w/o embedding a spreadsheet of some sorts or table that I don't see from blogger then this would have been hard...just deal with my vertical, ugly, flat layout - thx.

6) Basically, determine three steps for each of the four dreams in the six month dreamline and take the first step right now.

I guess this will have to wait for a future post! It's 10:15pm my time and it won't happen tonight - but I get the drift. I expect you to push me along if I haven't posted any updates to this post in the next few days.

There you have it! My dreamline. Hopefully w/o too many spelling errors. I seriously did this as I read each page - probably a good exercise and I hope you will do the same.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Progress, Not Perfection?

Today turned out to be slightly frustrating. I spent all day trying to get authentication going with Rails 2.x. As I mentioned in a prior post, quite a few differences exist in Rails 1.2.x and Rails 2.x. I'm trying to do things the new way - without really reading too much - and that is probably my downfall. The changes are enough that a quick read would certainly be beneficial.

On another front, let me discuss a little about eLance and RentACoder. I've posted some projects on both places lately and I think I've drawn an opinion that is simply that, my opinion. I'll probably continue to post development related projects on both sites, but I think RentACoder is going to consistently be the winner. That said, eLance has turned out to be a great resource for graphic design (web and other) as well as other professional services. Both are very useful. I continue to be blown away by the low rates and surprisingly great quality work that results from those low rates. This explains why I got laughed at for the rates I was seeking a few years back! :-)

Progress does continue to be made on several fronts. Things go in spurts. Everyone has opinions and it's fascinating to see how the same images affect different people. I'm really enjoying the process and look forward to the next steps after we get past this initial grunt-work.

To prove that I'm following the 4HWW - on page 200 and 201 he lists the names of a few call centers. Two of those companies have merged into one. I didn't place those calls directly, but had one of my partners start researching call centers for both inbound and outbound calling activities. Interestingly, he wasn't able to get in touch with ANY of them directly. Rather, voicemails were left and we are pending callbacks. Let's hope they check their voicemail more than once a week! I'm not impressed. A business that focuses on handling calls SHOULD answer their phones, don't you think?

Hope this helps!

Monday, January 7, 2008

In the last 24 hours - Something Rare Happened... Twice!

I know you've been following this blog, so you should ALREADY know what I'm gonna say - but for those of you who HAVE NOT been following my blog...get ready.

I'm a pretty easy person to please, until you get to know me - then I'm demanding as hell! Hahaha... I generally just want people to do what I ask and to do a good job at it.

That said, it is RARE that I'm blown away. I've learned to adjust my expectations of others to be REALISTIC - it saves a heck of a lot of frustration. the last 24 hours, I have been STUNNED by the BEAUTIFUL and QUALITY work of those I have found on eLance. WOW - that's an understatement. WOW WOW WOW....Triple WOW (that's redundant).

Last night I got my voice-overs for the 800 number. NO REVISIONS NEEDED! Can you believe that? To be fair, I did get a VERY early version of it last week just so I could help pick the background music - easier to do when a voice is on top of it. But it was just a sentence or two and I gave feedback based on that. So imagine the sweet surprise last night when I got the final version, with various edits to fix my choice of words in the script. I LOVED it! Passed it around to a few people - they loved it! DONE! PAID and future work going back to them because of the great quality.

Then...and this is even better...this afternoon I got THREE prototypes from our graphic designer. I AM BLOWN AWAY! Two of the three are AMAZING - the third is actually okay and probably in line with what my EXPECTATIONS would have been. But two of them - TRULY UNIQUE - beautiful works of art. OMG - you can't possibly imagine HOW HAPPY I am right now. I think I said in an earlier post, or in a comment, or on one of the blogs.... I didn't take the lowest bid for this one. In fact, I took the second to highest bid. I paid more than TWICE the MEDIAN bid. This was a big gamble. But when I looked at their portfolio - the sites just STUCK OUT as unique and professional. Unique - can't put my finger on it - but maybe just "a step or two (or three) above the rest. The gamble, for me, was that it was just these lovely portfolio sites and it wouldn't trickle down to my task. Not the case - I'm so delighted I may even have to overpay them when this is all said and done. Mind you - this was THEIR FIRST VERSION in front of me. AMAZING!!!! Can you tell I'm excited? Heck yes I am. I'm lovin' it (I'm pretty confident that's taken by McDonalds - no infringement intended - please consider it free advertising).

May the upcoming days be filled with wonderful surprises like the one's I have just received.


p.s. - Don't ask me for the name of the companies because I won't give them out yet. Only once my little project is no longer anonymous will I do such a thing. So you can ask, but shall not receive - YET! I do hope you understand!