Monday, 22 December 2008

More thoughts on productivity

This is spurred on by a few of the conversations had at the Tweetup last Thursday, as well as (it seems) the constant effort to improve efficiency, and the resulting discovery that I am my own worst enemy.

Still, I'm in good company.

So I was at the Tweetup, talking with some very smart people about geeky stuff, including greasemonkey scripts that took hours to develop, that save a few microseconds when filling out a web form.

We all think we want productivity, but sometimes our actions say otherwise - specifically the actions that spend ridiculous resources making things theoretically more productive, some time in the future, instead of doing the (always harder) stuff of right now.

Like today. So often we think of a productivity app as something we add on. We're almost addicted to adding something on... but sometimes it's about what we take away. Like turning my second monitor off for a short while.

Works for me. Here's to less!

3-minute book review: The Game Changer - iJumpTV #43

How does innovation really happen in a large organisation? The Game-Changer shows you how Procter and Gamble did it. Great summer reading!

We're taking a Christmas break next week but we'll be back the following week with another 3-minute book review. And we'll be back in the office from Jan 12th onwards. 

Have a great Christmas, and thanks for watching iJumpTV in 2008!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Fancy a tweetup?

Even if you don't actually use Twitter, it'd still be nice to meet you as a reader of this blog.

When: Thursday 18 December, 4:30pm
Where: Galbraith's Ale House, 2 Mt Eden Road, Auckland

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RSVP in the comments below, or just show up and look for the geeky folks in the corner :)

Tuesday, 16 December 2008


thirty-seven: and this month, I joined a cultImage by dead_squid via Flickr
We are such strange creatures.

We need - or at least I need - deadlines to keep us motivated, full of a sense of urgency.

But those same deadlines, a tool designed to help us get to where we want to go, can become a harsh taskmaster. Tasks that you've waited months to do can become tiresome chores, simply because they're on a to-do list with deadlines.

This is the danger of implementing GTD only halfway. GTD starts with putting everything that's on your to-do list - everything - in one place where you can see it. The aim is to get it out of your head. But it's easy to stop there, and the relief you feel is only temporary.

So in this post I've not only diagnosed my issue, but found the cure: keep working at turning that GTD list into a strategic list, a list I'm in charge of, rather than a shopping list of things I must do before the end of the day.

Thanks for listening! That was helpful :)
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Mobile social networking - iJumpTV #42

Vodafone's new GM of internet and new media talks through how social networking is going mobile in 2009. Plus, your chance to win the book Tactical Transparency!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Marx Brothers are the cure to anything

If the Christmas - sorry, Xmas - rush is getting you down, take a little bit of Marx Brothers.

I had a bit of a Day at the Races last weekend after a busy week, and it got me in tip-top condition in no time.

Marx Brothers, the comedy you have when life is happening.

[No Caption]

Thursday, 11 December 2008

What I'm reading at the moment

It's called A Sense of Urgency and it's put a rocket up me - but in the right way.

See, when I heard the title, I groaned. We've all met people who have way too much energy, and put their own issues on you when you're already a little jaded and tired. This book is different, though.

It's talking about true urgency, a desire to move, and win, now! That's a feeling I can relate to in my best moments.

But there are dangers - on one side is complacency, the sense that things are generally ok. On the other side is false urgency, characterised by anger and anxiety. There's a lot of that going around at the moment.

So far I'm learning nothing specifically new - to my head. But to the rest of me, the stories are encouraging me to follow those practices I know work, but fail to do so often. Like maintaining a "to-stop" list, delegating, cutting out unnecessary activity, and considering the impact of my actions (not just my words).

It's a quick read, too. After a few days I'm half way through the book. Full review coming on iJumpTV soon, along with a whole heap of others.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Had your Warhol moment yet?

I was sitting under an umbrella chatting with Ben about what I call micro-fame, one of the things Generation C has to contend with.

It's the idea that we can experience just a smidge of the issues genuinely famous people have to deal with, stuff like:

  • Having a conversational comment quoted on someone's blog
  • Having people know you (or feel like they know you) that you don't know
  • Because people feel like they know you, saying stuff that you wouldn't say to a stranger (good/bad)
Andy Warhol said everyone would have 15 minutes of fame, but it's really more like 15% of fame. Or, as some have said, "internet famous". Which I compare to being real-world famous in somewhere like Te Kuiti. (Which is not a bad thing!)

Monday, 8 December 2008

Who is the ideal social media audience for a startup?

I've been privileged to meet a lot of exciting startup people in my social media travels. One thing they - we - all seem to have in common is an excitement about the potential of social media, to create awareness quickly and inexpensively among a core community.

As part of this process, you start to interact with others in your community, and spend a lot of time and energy interacting. This can create some great search-friendly content, which is useful for marketing, but can it also be distracting?

Like any really useful question, the answer is "it depends". It depends if your core target audience, your community, are other entrepreneurs like yourself. In many cases, like PlanHQ or Pocketsmith, this is the case.

Of course it doesn't have to be an exact match. Entrepreneurs can be a subset or overlap with your larger audience, and they can help spread your message.

But a startup like BizChat has shown remarkable restraint, focusing on making the user experience easy, and avoiding the temptation to cram the site with as many widgets as possible. (Ahem)

It's a lesson Rowan Simpson points out very clearly, and the approach we tried to take with our current iteration of the iJump site, showing that we use the tools (as you can see from our Twitter updates) but not overwhelming or distracting people who visit.

What do you think? Where's the line between networking with like-minded individuals, and getting lost in the fishbowl?
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Friday, 5 December 2008

Can you be a good communicator online and off?

Hemingway posing for a dust jacket photo by Ll...Image via Wikipedia
I'm weird.

I've been a writer all my career, perhaps all my life, and I can string together sentences pretty well with a pen or a keyboard.

But put me in a small group conversation, and I am an idiot.

A friend of ours thought I was putting it on once, thinking it was a business thing: he doesn't start getting articulate until you pay him!

But alas, it's just that we can't all be good at everything.

Have you ever noticed that the people who find it hardest to "get" social media are usually very competent at speaking in person. They may be great orators or salespeople, or just very confident conversationalists.

On the other hand, the people who naturally embrace social media understand what makes it special - that there's another way to get your message across apart from talking face to face.

We tend to judge people who are different from us, and I've tried to keep the language here neutral. But here's what the background conversations often look like:

Natural conversationalist: People who communicate better online are actually passive-aggressive, they can't handle reality, they're hiding, avoiding confrontation, etc.

Online conversationalist: People who communicate better in person just don't get it, they're behind the times, they're luddites, they're afraid of technology, they don't understand.

Methinks some cross-cultural dialogue could be really helpful. What do you reckon?

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What do NZ bloggers want? - iJumpTV #42

Should companies and PR firms contact bloggers with story ideas? Pursuit PR took part in a worldwide survey of bloggers and got the NZ side of the story. Simon Young interviews Stephen Knightly, director of Pursuit PR, about the results of the survey.

Read more on Pursuit PR's blog:

Also mentioned:

The PR Spammer wiki:

David Farrar's Kiwiblog:

The Cluetrain Manifesto

Jeremiah Owyang's "Three impossible conversations":

The Social Media News Release:

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

What does "infrastructure" actually mean?

Just an addendum to yesterday's blog post, where I said

I - have to spend some solid time developing the infrastructure of iJump

What does that mean? It means we've discovered a lot of the tools of social media in a very haphazard fashion. We know them well, but we wouldn't recommend people copy exactly what we've done. Instead, we're making it really simple and systematic.

Simple and systematic. That's catchy. Might put that on the wall as I work.

Senior moment - but some good stuff about community

I've written a note on my Stickies programme, but have forgotten what the notes were from. I know they weren't my thoughts, but I can't remember whose they were.

But they're good, so here they are:

1. Build a community that your audience wants, not what you want. Eg travel vs travel insurance.

2. Launch - involve target group early. Ask them what they want, identify the ambassadors and make them VIPs.

3. It's an ongoing event. Not just something you launch. People change. A few months it's discussion forums, the next is blogging. Ongoing process. If you decide to have a community, have a community manager or ambassador.

Right. Now I can clear that off my desktop!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Buying me time

The office is echoing quite a bit this week, because not only is our officemate Charlotte is away this week, but so is Marie. And she will be until February!

There's a plan behind this. For some time now we've realised we - more specifically I - have to spend some solid time developing the infrastructure of iJump. That's been difficult because we've got to keep paying the bills. It took a while to figure out the best way to do it, but the answer is for Marie to grab a temp job over the (traditionally quiet) summer period while I get my head down and create some solid systems.

So she's back at her old employers (where different departments are fighting over her) while I'm trying to quickly finish some SimonYoungWriters work and then get into development mode.

It's just helped me to see how many interruptions there are in a day:

  • Phone calls (landline and mobile)
  • Email
  • Events, meetings etc
  • RSS feeds, Twitter
  • and worst of all, the distractions that come from my own mind!
As much as possible, I'm turning off what can be turned off, and switching them back on when I can give them my full attention. As for that last item on the list, well, I can only try and switch those off.

Today's amazing pic brought to you by gadl.
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Monday, 1 December 2008

The problem of choice

An arrangement of fruits commonly thought of a...Image via Wikipedia
I know those far more learned than me have written about the problem or the paradox of choice, but I saw it in action at the Avondale Markets yesterday.

It's a great place, full of colour and life, but fear stalks every corner. Fear of the better bargain, just after you've decided to buy something.

This is worst with fruit and veges, where it's actually pretty difficult to compare apples with apples. Yes, those apples are cheaper, but they're also smaller and not as good quality.

So after a few circuits of the fruit and vege section of the market, our bags were still empty, and we had to just buy something.

Of course, we could have brought paper and marked down prices for absolutely everything we were after, but that would kind of be boring and/or irritating. Much better to enjoy the sun and the craziness that is Avondale market.
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