Resolutions Review #03: Community Making to the Fore!

Megapoptart It’s May 5th, so that means it’s time for another review of my Groundhog Day Resolutions! These are my yearly goal setting ritual, beginning on February 2nd and repeating monthly on 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, and so on.

The past month was a pretty relaxed one, though I’ve also started ramping up on a new NSF DIP grant for which I’m doing continued coding as part of the development team. It’s a cool project because I get to work with smart people I like for STEM, while learning new (to me) technologies. It’s also springtime in New England, which is kind of a big deal because the winters here are long. As soon as it’s 50 degrees, it’s NEW ENGLAND SHORTS AND T-SHIRT season. The celebration of warmer days makes it tough to work, but I’m also feeling refreshed and am excited about tackling some projects.

The highlight of the month, though, was making a giant pop tart for my sister’s birthday! I discovered that I like making pastry dough so I plan on doing it more in the future. There’s a HUGE difference between fresh-made and store-bought pastry dough, which I only noticed because I used the store-bought stuff to make another pop tart out of the leftover filling.

But I digress…onto the review!

WHAT HAPPENED!

Here’s a list of things that happened last month that are contributing to my overall GHDRs.

Objective / Key Results Tracking

I had said last month that’s I’d be posting my Objective/Key Results weekly, which I did in the virtual coworking chat room but forgot to do on the blog. Oops. Anyway, an OKR is an objective + a measurable result, and because I can’t do anything without tweaking it I’ve also added some strategic desire on top of that. Here’s a sample of one of the last OKR report I’ve posted in the #accountability chat room:

Objective & Key Results I think these have helped me maintain progress on more projects because they focus on easy-to- quantify achievements that accumulate toward an end; my Groundhog Day Resolutions tend to leave that level of detail out. Posting these in the #accountability chat room has also helped me feel that I’m doing something with others.

Livestreaming and Community

I’m up to 115 “episodes” of my semi-regular morning livestream Whats Up Dave, which means I’ve been doing it for about three months (!). Recently I’ve started to make some changes to the format to include a show and tell in the beginning, a mini design project that I work on every day, followed by planning my day/reviewing the previous day with the Emergent Task Planner. It’s really starting to turn into a regular hangout with my friends, which is the stated goal of the program. For me, it’s a way to share my day with people as a start-up ritual, and also to give a shout-out to people who are in the virtual coworking chatroom. I still like doing the livestream, and combined with the chat room I feel like now have a group of coworkers to work with.

Reducing Projects

One of the topics that came out of the chat room was the idea that we were perhaps trying to do too many projects. I forget who originally brought it up, but it struck me that I really am trying to do too much at once. My mind likes to race in many directions, which is exhilarating. The flip side is that when I can not mind-race, I tend to get very bored. I’m not quite sure what the solution is, but I think being able to control which “mental mode” I am in might be a start. By having fewer projects, I give myself more room for mind racing, which paradoxically might lead to more getting done on one project? As it is now, I end up not working on ANY projects while my mind runs away to find something more quick-to-do.

The Business of My Business is Community, But the Community is Not the Market

One of the major insights of this month was that I am happiest when I am in a community of like-minded people, and I tend to naturally gravitate toward finding things to do to make the community better. When I started up my experimental virtual coworking space, I reminded myself that the “culture” of the space was up to me to own and guide. This is a lesson hard-won by past organizational experiences, but it seems to be doing fine. I maintain a light touch, and I’m exceedingly grateful for the people who DID show up to the chat room and have chosen to make it one of their daily visits. The culture that is in the room now is a result of everyone’s contribution to make a friendly and comfortable place. It’s pretty amazing!

When I was describing the experience to someone, the question was raised regarding monetization of all the effort I’m putting into the chat room presence and livestreaming. I automatically recoiled from this suggestion, and had the big insight that I do these things because I want to do something good for this community, as it gives back to me hugely and I want my intentions to remain pure. That said, I’m seeing how participating in the chat room is giving me ideas for new products. The important distinction to make is that while people in the chat room (“the community”) may love to use these new products should they come to exist, they are NOT an exploitable market (“the market”). To think of them as a market to extract dollars from is anathema to my desire to have a great place for us to hang out. However, that doesn’t preclude me from putting those new ideas out for sale. The market that exists will be those people who find it on Amazon.

In other words, there are two classes of work I’m doing. The community work is the time I’m spending livestreaming and maintaining the chat room as a means to building our magic club house. The marketing work is the time I spend promoting what I’m making to a group of people who want to buy what I have; this is the group of people I think of being “the market”. There is some overlap between the community and the market, but I don’t want to mix them up. I think this is an important distinction to maintain ethically and artistically.

DID I MAKE PROGRESS ON MY GROUNDHOG DAY RESOLUTIONS?

To recap, I only have four this year:

  1. SEARCH FOR MINDBLOWING PRODUCTIVE SYNERGY – I would say that all the work I’m doing on the livestreaming and virtual coworking is helping contribute to finding ways to have productive synergy. It’s kind of mindblowing that it’s even working!

  2. RUN A NEAT SIDE BUSINESS – The neat side business is my stationery business, but I’ve also designated maintaining the community around the virtual coworking as the PRIMARY BUSINESS FOCUS. So, instead of focusing on stationery as the main task, it is now all about making a productivity-oriented community of like-minded nice people, with stationery arising as a side-effect of rubbing elbows with all these interesting people. Again, the market that arises from selling the product is not the same as the community I am trying to foster, but something else.

  3. DEVELOP CREATIVE INTERDEPENDENCE – I’ve been reaching out to people, offering 1-2 hours of my time to contribute to any project they might want some help on. I think this is very promising. Sharing the design work on my Patreon Page is another way of making creative interdependence, and I’m also starting to consider doing some co-design around some of the ideas swirling in the virtual co-working chat.

  4. PUSH ON THE 10-YEAR GOALS FOR 2024 – I’m reconsidering this goal. There are a lot of things that I have said I want to make or get good at, but I am starting to think that my 10-year goals are less important than creating a community that celebrates all of our goals. I’ll make a note of this and think of what this means over the next month.

See You Next Month!

So that’s today’s Groundhog Day Resolutions Review! It’s been a good month, and I’m also glad it’s finally getting warmer. Quite a lot of my energy has moved from this blog to the coworking chat room and the YouTube channel, but I do plan on somehow revitalizing this site as a reference for my work that is more easily browseable. I’m thinking of making it super-minimal just to get it off the ground; I don’t really want to spend a lot of time worried about how it looks.

See ya next month!



About this Article Series

For my 2017 Groundhog Day Resolutions, I'm challenging myself to pursue mindblowing productive synergy as a way to energize myself to do those boring (but necessary!) foundational projects like "making a living". All the related posts are gathered on the 2017 Groundhog Day Resolutions page.