GHDR Review 6: Unexpected Vacation Time, Relaxed Attitude Moving Forward

"Happy Groundhog Day"

THE AUGUST REVIEW

In years past, I’ve found July to be a difficult month to stay productive, and have designated it as an option “summer break month” in the official Groundhog Day Resolutions schedule. This year, I chose not to take the break, but my wishes apparently have had little to do with what actually transpires. It’s been a fairly unproductive month as far as last month’s goals. However, it’s also been an excellent month of new insights thanks to an extended visit from my cousin Jason. As a result, I’m feeling pretty good about the coming work this month.

Click onward for the details!

The Goals

Last month, I said this was what I wanted to get done:

  • Make international fulfillment a reality
  • Reorganize digital downloads section to help increase digital sales
  • Refresh calendar products to maintain current product relevance
  • For community connection, shift from meeting new ones to getting some work done for the ones I’ve already met, and close off those projects.

International Fulfillment: I actually have international fulfillment ready to go, and it’s going to be hideously expensive to ship anything from the US to Europe. It’s so expensive that I have to create multiple-unit packs to make it cost effective, and this means creating new packaging and package units. I’m not sure if it’s worth while, but I’m going to pursue it. I’m hoping to open the store to the public in a few days just to get it working. There’s a few things I need to hammer out, like deciding on a return policy and figuring out how to handle customer service, but the basic Shopify front-end and Shipwire fulfillment setup is in-place. I just have to have the guts to pull the trigger, and then start building up the stores inventory. Shipwire, I should point out, has been very helpful in helping me get that operation smoothed out. Their customer sales and support teams have been very proactive and genuinely helpful; they seem to be very good with the personal touch despite being an outsourcing solution. There are real people behind the website!

Reorganized Digital Downloads: Natch. Didn’t do a thing here.

Refresh Calendar Products: I did update the Academic Compact Calendar for 2013-2014. However, I haven’t updated the regular compact calendar. That is still due for a mid-year refresh, as are the Almanac versions of the Emergent Task Planner digital download.

Community Connection: I haven’t started closing off some of those projects, though I’ve been maintaining a trickle of contact. I did also restart some connections that had lain dormant for some time, which will become fruitful in the next few months I hope.

So I haven’t made much progress, and I feel sort of bad about that, but also I’ve had my cousin from California visiting for the past three weeks. It’s been 7 or 8 years since we’ve hung out for such a length of time, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to keep him entertained for so long. As it turned out, it has been great to have someone around to try to keep entertained. Fortunately we have some overlapping interests in video games, eating, music, and learning how to do things, so it’s been a pretty full month. Here’s some of the things we did:

  • Tried every fried chicken supply in the area. We tried six kinds of chicken, ranking them for flavor and preparation expertise. As a final exercise, we then made our own fried chicken to see if we could do a better job. The answer, using a fried chicken kit supplied by my sister, is a resounding yes.
  • Went over the rudiments of driving a manual transmission.
  • Embarked on a journey to eat 100 popsicles in a week (couldn’t do it).
  • Made pancakes. Oh, so many pancakes.
  • Reviewed hot web technologies like node.js, couchDB, and KnockoutJS over a couple of weeks, helping each other build some working prototypes of projects.
  • Deconstructed the lyrical structure of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”.
  • Discovered we both knew all the words to “Part of your World”, from “The Little Mermaid”
  • Broke through my childhood fear of roller coasters and spinning rides.
  • Went over basic pistol operation, safety, and marksmanship skills at the public shooting range in Manchester.
  • Spent a day at the Peabody Essex Museum, and saw the Yin Yu Tang Chinese house that had been painstakingly disassembled in China and rebuilt here in Salem, Massachusetts. Jason also got to try a North Shore specialty, a “Supreme Roast Beef, 3-way” from Nick’s Roast Beef in Beverly.
  • Critically reviewed parts of a college Calculus book, figuring out why it was so useless in my mathematical education. Shared a lot of theory about math education (Jason is a math teacher, which was very helpful).
  • Watched “World War Z” and “Pacific Rim” in the theater, followed by various movies I’d never seen but should have. I finally saw “Silence of the Lambs”. I made watch Jason watch part of “Real Genius”.
  • Tried poutine for the first time, though we were immediately informed by a Starbucks barrista that we hadn’t had the REAL STUFF.

Jasons vacation ended up being a vacation for me too, in that I did a lot of things that I ordinarily would not have done, and this has given me a new perspective on what I’ve been doing. As we talked and compared the details of our lives so far, it helped put my goals in focus. It’s been very relaxing and at the same time quietly eye-opening.

So, I didn’t get a lot of personal goal stuff done as I had thought. Instead, I have gained a renewed appreciation for having personal relationships, and have come to see my personal goals as being worthwhile again. Most importantly, I’m seeing that everything I have to do takes time, and I am more comfortable now with taking the time rather than pushing for speedy resolution on everything. After I made my list of Dave Seah jobs, I saw just how many threads I was trying to carry in my head at one time, and have decided that I can just focus on a few related ones at any one time. It seems obvious to me, if I put my manager hat on, that I have to respect that or risk burning out the talent with too many conflicting rules of thought. For example, I can’t be creative when my mind is on limiting risk. I can’t be a great project leader if I’m also responsible for getting difficult technical work done at the same time. I’m thinking that it will be, “One hat at a time, one day at a time”.

Upcoming Goals

So…what do I want to get done this month?

Getting the store up and out of the way is still foremost on my mind. It’s a great mental weight that I want to start moving under its own power. As I said, it’s largely ready to go. I just need to launch it and accept responsibility for returns, customer service, and other possible operational hiccups. It’s a fear of inconvenience and operational inefficiency that keeps me from opening it outright, but I’ll do it soon. I’d open it right now if it weren’t from the privacy, shipping, and return policy boilerplate that have to be written.

I think after the store is launched, I’ll be more inclined to start moving more product into it to make it into more of an attraction filled with goodness. I’m not sure what the direction is going to be, but I am actually looking forward to seeing what happens. This new attitude is a result of having ridden several roller coaster rides at nearby Canopie Lake Park. I found that I could control the fear reaction through breath control and rational thinking, which would get me through the tough parts. Even more effective, I found, was actively pushing into the scary part and taking control of the experience. At the end of the ride, I’m still just a passenger strapped into a ride vehicle, but there’s a world of difference in pushing into an experience versus suffering through it until it’s over. Such a difference. I’m hoping this carries over into the next month.

I’m also being tagged to help on some interesting projects related to science education and science fiction tsotchkes, so it’s going to be a busy end-of-year. Oh, and I finally have a certified public accountant putting my business finances (such as they are) into GAAP-approved form so I have a baseline to track the fiscal health of my enterprises. It’s me learning to outsource and let go of certain responsibilities.

A working store with a handful of new products in it: that would be great for September 9. Getting some of those ongoing community projects delivered and off-my-plate is also high on my list. I just want to maintain a simple focus on the jobs at hand, and get them done without thinking too hard about it. We’ll see if I can pull it off.


Groundhog Day Resolution Posts for 2013

Here are other posts about Groundhog Day Resolutions for the 2013 season.

  • 02/02 Kickoff - Setting 30 Products in 30 days.
  • 03/03 Review - The Aftermath of 30 Products in 30 Days; What's Next?
  • 04/04 Review - New Website, Increasing Opportunity
  • 05/05 Review - Winding down a long chain of external commitments, getting ready for a hopefully-productive month.
  • 06/06 Review - Reducing Friction from internal struggle, picking the winning attitudes and tasks that produce tangible assets.
  • 07/07 Review - Mid-year Review, Focusing Process
  • 08/08 Review - An unexpected vacation for me, Relaxed Progress Made
  • 09/09 Review - Slow progress made, but that's OK; I'm accepting the slow and mindful way!
  • 10/10 Review - After a month of experimenting with early rising, I realize that prioritizing my mission of creative independence might actually be what I need to do. Duh.
  • 11/11 Review - Not much progress made on Creative Independence, but I have attained a sense of surety and calm about what needs to be done--and how to approach it--while maintaining balance between external commitments and personal goals by accepting that they take time and that's OK.
  • 12/12 Review - The year ends without closure, but looking back I see that I've made progress. More importantly, I believe that I'm generally on the right path.