World Domination 101.5: Trudging through the Desert

World Domination 101.5: Trudging through the Desert

SUMMARY: I thought I didn’t get anything done last week, but after listing everything that happened it’s apparent that I’m actually pretty active. What creates the feeling of non-productivity is not the general lack of continuity, but the lack of measurable distance traveled on the metric that is most on my mind: funding all the things that I do every week that make the journey interesting and exciting. In this article, I lay out the services that I think are viable offerings for 2010 and how they relate to my mission.

I’ve been preoccupied by maintaining continuity on my so-called “desert journey” to find productive fulfillment. As I was going to sleep last night, I tried to recall just what I had done last week, and I couldn’t recall one thing. A quick flash of despair was followed by a steely resolve to see myself through to the end. Fortunately, I also have been Doing The Wave with Colleen™, which as a byproduct results in copious activity notes. I just went through it and made a list of what I did, in roughly chronological order from Sunday to Sunday.

  • Made a WordPress Theme. It’s based on this blog’s look-and-feel, which runs on Expression Engine and therefore was not available in modern WordPress 2.9.x form.
  • Designed one more screen for the Secret iPhone App I’m working on with Al Briggs.
  • Received my digital printed 2-sided sell sheets from Digital Lizard out in Idaho. Good quality, great price! 20% of the cost of Kinkos!
  • Showed the sell sheets to several people, who thought it was a cool idea and have taken it on themselves to pass it along. Neat!
  • Read about the differences between male and female metaphors.
  • Signed up on Mint, and imported all my financial data from all my accounts into it.
  • Cancelled the Collective group meeting due to crazy snowstorm. Good thing, too…very bad driving conditions.
  • Thought about packaging, owning the means of production, and distribution.
  • Sent out invites for an upcoming “strategery” day I’m having with fellow productivity blogger Stephen Smith. It’s the cute, down-home version of strategy, which is the kind I like!
  • Got a few blog posts done, but not as many as I’d hoped.
  • Looked more closely at [Vimeo][vimeo], which I’d known as the place to upload high-resolution videos, but not as a repository of motion graphics portfolio reels. Good for inspiration.
  • Did some meditation to figure out what was really bugging me. Got a good night’s sleep out of it.
  • Pondered how “The Dave Brand” compared to “Dave”, and whether I was comfortable with making that distinction.
  • Manchester, NH Jelly at the Archimedes Space, and stayed to watch “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”. As a bonus, I also got to complain about Jakob Nielsen’s website.
  • Determined that I didn’t actually have an actionable roadmap, so started to define one.
  • Got my monthly haircut, and also a Nick’s Super Beef with BBQ Sauce, Mayonaise, and Horseradish. An amazing experience.
  • Rewatched ALL 26 episodes of Cowboy Bebop, which is still an incredible series.
  • Started researching international shipping for the ETP pads.
  • Read about “Imposter Syndrome” and “Lack of Sense of Entitlement” issues, which I believe may be one of my psychological barriers to doing more.
  • Great conversation with my high school buddy Duncan, who gave me the insight that the “ease” of an action does not necessarily correlate to the amount of effort expended, and hence value is not correlated to easiness. This was a psychological barrier to me charging money for what I love to do.
  • Nashua, NH Jelly at Studio 99, where I listened to two Jelly newcomers talk about their projects: Tammy Hildreth who founded Network for Work and is on the board of the NH Women’s Leadership Institute, Beth Eisenberg who has a very cool Floating Gallery concept to connect businesses, artists, and community. It felt like mini-SXSW!
  • Elise also told me about her 10 Minute Practice Rule; she doesn’t make herself practice if after 10 minutes it isn’t working. And I helped Sid set up his lights for a photo shoot later in the day, acting as his stand-in and secretly observing how one goes about setting up a location shoot.
  • Great conversation with Gary, who helped me make an important connection between “making stuff” and actually doing something with it. His long-time manufacturing experience and entrepreneurial perspective is just what I needed.
  • Prepared the guest room for Robert, who’s visiting from NYC and wants to go through programming bootcamp under my baleful eye. I don’t know anything about ASP.NET, but this is as good a time as any to look at it. We’re looking at fundamentals first, and have a pretty good playbook for absorbing a new computer development environment relatively quickly.
  • Made a new web template and updated my CSS Notes. I’m starting to get a feel for the web design stuff again, which is probably a good thing.

The Review

As I look at the above list of things, I am surprised by how much there seems to be. At the time I was doing each of those tasks, they didn’t seem substantial or particularly meaningful, but looking back they actually all fit into some master plan. And this is a pretty typical non-billable week for me.

What bothers me, I think, is that there’s no sense of distance traveled to the destination; all of this stuff is useful in some sense, but it feels like I am passing the same landmarks over and over as I make a great wandering circle in the desert. Breaking the events of last week down into categories:

  • Inspirational or Inquisitive … no immediate payoff, but certainly possessing future “pay it forward” potential.
  • “Packaging a Service” Related … supporting potential future sources of revenue, figuring out how to sell.
  • Social Networking and Organization … the potential for future collaborations of any kind!
  • Asset building … fixing processes and “tangible” design works into a form that can be distributed.
  • Figuring out where I am and what’s next … trying to keep motivated and moving in the right direction.

What I need the most this week, I think, is a very clear and simple plan to generate the cash flow to keep my caravan operating. That means creating assets/services for sale, show them to people, and create marketing/sales support materials. That’s the distance I can measure that counts right now. Continuity is important to maintain sanity and to see what I’ve done–without the Wave Experiment with Colleen, I would not have known that I did get stuff done last week. I can see that this largely takes care of itself. The continuity I need to maintain NOW is that of generating and maintaining cash flow to fund my natural proclivity to research, communicate, and make.

Starting the Revenue Ball Rolling

Just to get the ball rolling on “creating assets/services” front, I’m planning on offering the following:

  • Professional Sounding Board: Need to lay a groundwork of understanding for a plan of action in the face of unknown variables? An hour on the phone or in person, followed by an hour of me distilling it all down on a comprehensive document, will go a long way toward clarifying your course of actions, and I’ll take on just about any subject. This is like a guided question and answer session that results in the illumination of previously-unclear principles, assumptions, and dependencies in both process and motivation.
  • Task Coaching: For March 2010, a retainer of $250 will get you 2 hours of one-on-one time with me on the phone to figure out what you’d like to accomplish plus customized PCEO forms for you to follow for the month. All communication will be managed in a private BaseCamp project area, and I will check in with you to see how you are doing with my assessment on what’s working and what could be. This is an experimental offering, for which I have 2 slots available.
  • Design and Web Consults: If you’re interested in learning how I design productivity forms or how I have created my web presence, I can tell you how I do it if you book some hourly one-on-one time.
  • Simple Website Development: I’m developing “Internet Starter Kits” through my Agenceum design group, which are pre-fab websites that help get people get a modest-but-effective website online for the first time for a fixed price. They’re designed to be low-cost, simple and self-editable without the use of a CMS, and I’m developing a library of support materials to explain stuff like “how to get a domain name”, “how to pick a hosting company”, and “how to write content”. My goal is to give people what they need to be self-sufficient with their Internet presence, and be able to grow with it.
  • Interactive Development: Flash development used to be my bread and butter. I can’t see a reason not to continue doing it, other than I’d like to have a project manager to jam with.
  • Information Graphic Design: Need information expressed visually and clearly with Illustrator, Photoshop, or InDesign? Yes, I do that.
  • Partnering in Digital and Interactive Media: I know an awful lot about digital media, computer graphics, blogging, community management, and interactive design. Not only do I do it every day for my own blog, I have quite a bit of experience working for game companies, web agencies, and museum exhibit designers. On top of that, I can talk programming all the way down to the hardware level. I’m looking for creatives, project leads, and business types who develop (or are interested in developing) any aspect of websites, software, and interactive media in the Nashua, New Hampshire area. I hate working by myself, so I want to get a few people in the room with me to make great stuff. Local people only…sorry! You must be willing to meet and work in person periodically.

So that’s that. I’ve been holding off on listing any design service offerings as I’ve worked on the “what is my life direction” question. After the umpteenth time of doing this for the past six months, I’m at the point where there’s nothing left to do but put it out there and see what happens. I also have the various products under development, but they are not generating significant income at this point. The income from services will help fund those longer-term projects. The going will be tough this week, as I’m facing a veritable sandstorm of social engagements and calls this week: all the more reason to maintain the line of cashflow continuity. Wish me luck!


  1. Stephen Smith 14 years ago

    My $0.02 regarding your caravan metaphor: the caravan hasn’t started yet, you are still building your camel-train, assembling your support-team of guards and handlers, plotting your course, and laying in supplies for the journey.

    It may *feel* like you aren’t getting anywhere, but if you left the caravanserai before you did all of this groundwork you would find yourself in a tough spot.

    Rememember, the caravanserai is a base from which you can “support the flow of commerce, information, and people across the network of trade routes” (from Wikipedia), without them there is no flow…

  2. Mike 14 years ago

    The Way out of the desert…