GHD Resolution Review Day 3/3/2009

It’s my first Groundhog Day Resolution Review Day for 2009, and I still haven’t gotten around to defining my Groundhog Day Resolutions (GHDRs). In my last rambling report on the process, I had attempted to outline a comprehensive approach to the definition process; rereading it, my attention wandered within seconds, so I have just distilled them into a set of steps:

  1. First define A VISION: a story of the “more-awesome” version of the life that I want.
  2. Next, itemize my existing strengths and tendencies (both good and bad).
  3. Finally, create three levels of action, built around the existing strengths from step 2:
    • Define several tangible steps that can be achieved in a short amount of time (15min to 1 hour)
    • Define a tangible achievement levels, built from tangible steps, that results in a new vision-related resource or capability.
    • Devise a means of measuring the effectiveness, through counting or direct observation, of your new capabilities.
  4. Tell people you’re going to do this, and then do something.

This methodology, incidentally, is based on the basic video game theory I apply in designing simple games.

I’ve procrastinated long enough in defining step 1 and step 3, and it’s probably because my mind automatically is trying to optimize my decision making with thoughts of THE BEST WAY, THE MOST EFFICIENT STRATEGY, and MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITY, which tends to make me want to go read some more books or babble onward because there is no way of knowing which approach be the one that is most optimal. So I’ll just pick a place to start and, trusting to hindsight being 20/20, will find out later.

THE VISION is, in its simplest form, to live a meaningful life of individual creativity and contribution. I’d like it to be self-sufficient, and I want to have a sense of authorship. So without mulling it over too much longer, I’m going to declare just one resolution: Create a shop filled with stuff I like. This has been a long time in the making, starting with the original drive to sell printed paper pads over a year ago. And most recently, I’ve been inspired anew by reading British fashion designer Paul Smith’s book You Can Find Inspiration in Anything. My sister had given it to me some time ago, and while I had flipped through it I had not read it closely. There is a marvelous introduction by author William Gibson, which makes perfect sense editorially-speaking if you’ve read Pattern Recognition. The philosophy of the Paul Smith enterprise itself is not about fashion, but about connecting playfully with individuals; fashion just happens to be the medium through which Paul Smith makes this happen world-wide.

So…let’s make that shop. Just make it. Design and optimal thinking can come later, once I have something I can look at.

To this end I have hired a personal assistant for 40 hours this month. The way this came about was completely serendipitous: I was talking to my friends Sid and Sara at Plastic Camera Studio. Sid shoots portrait and editorial photography in the Southern New Hampshire area, and Sara shoots fine art photography using the albumen process. Sara also works in various adminstrative capacities at educational institutions nearby, but I had never thought that this was an opportunity until we were all hanging out one night in the studio jabbering about trips. I was thinking about planning a trip up through California over a month, meeting people and doing design gigs while writing about the process. Sid told me about their plan to someday return to California for a photographic expedition, California being the only place they didn’t linger the last time they did a cross-country tour. As we discussed our ideas for funding our trip, it occurred to me that there was quite a bit of overlap in the planning. Shared interest + administrative experience + willingness to see what happens lead to me commiting to 40 hours.

I’ve never had an assistant of any kind before, but I’m finding that it’s sharpened my attention on certain matters. For example, I’ve had to think of how to explain what I’m trying to do to someone in the room with me. Also, some old management habits surfaced to be reshaped in the context of “being in charge”. And as always, Clarity is Fleeting, so we’re trying to establish some means of communication that helps provide the continuity and context for the work. Right now that solution is BaseCamp plus brief meetings. After assigning the rather nebulous task of reviewing all my Printable CEO material, we regrouped and decided to focus on getting the store working. That means (1) making new product and (2) selling it online. She’s gathering contact information for all the printers in this area (and a few online) that we can establish some kind of relationship with, and after that she’ll be establishing how one goes about using Amazon Fulfillment. The goal is to have something in operation at the end of this month, or be ready to do it.

In the meantime, I am in crunch mode on the Museum project I’ve been working on over the past year, a large-scale interactive children’s exhibit for a Holocaust museum opening this April in Skokie, Illinois. This is the final crunch, so I have had very little time to blog or think about new business in May. However, I’ve had a few ideas:

  • I may be offering some coaching hours to see if I like it; this isn’t much different from the highly-appreciated “executive sounding board” service I sometimes offer to clients.
  • I also do want to pick up the development of the long-dormant Flash version of the Emergent Task Timer as a way of getting familiar with the current crop of Flash development tools. Adobe AIR? Maybe even iPhone development, though I dislike AT&T so much that I would probably just develop with the emulator and team up with someone.
  • There’s the repackaging and reorganization of content on davidseah.com itself into a more accessible magazine-like format.

I’ve always liked the idea of having a magazine, but I’ve never known exactly what it would be about. When I started blogging, I blogged about what I liked in hopes of discovering just what those main categories would be, but never thought that was enough reason for itself. Reading about Paul Smith’s approach, in which he just sold stuff he liked, I’m getting the idea that this might be the approach that work for me: write about the stuff the catches my eye, with trademark obsessiveness. There is always a market, though small, for quality obsessiveness packaged well. Will it be enough to sustain me as a business operator? We’ll see how it looks on April 4th, our next GHD Resolution Review Day.