I love this campaign. And I love it’s sibling parody.
A few months ago, I held my own Icarus Session here on the blog. In the time between now and then, I’ve crammed in small work sessions to move the project forward. It’s a messy process to launch a business. There is a lot of doubt, discouragement, confusion.
But there are also moments of clarity. In those brief moments I see progress and possibility.
This is one of those moments.
Introducing verso 6: platform design for authors and speakers.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the logo—please comment below.
In the coming couple of weeks, I’ll nail down the website and get it officially launched. Watch this space for updates.
In addition to their 2D, 3D, street view and satellite maps, Google has now introduced Treasure Maps. Where you can “explore 2D hand drawn landmarks and find hidden treasure chests.”
They also admonish us to, “Beaware of pirates!”
Treasure Maps is our Beta Maps technology and has certain system requirements. Your system may not be able to display at higher resolutions than paper print. Take care when unfolding the map to avoid ripping it.
I gave TeuxDeux a try back in 2009 when it launched. I liked it but it might have been too far on the simplistic side.
One feature that I absolutely need is a recurring to-do feature.
I’m happy to see the team over at Swiss-Miss added that and a whole host of extras. I’m also glad to see she’s now charging for the service. It makes me want to check out the skeptic package for a month or two.
After a week of bad news, this little gem brightened my day.
Rubén and Cristina rode 7,500 km from Beijing to Ulan Bator to Moscow — over a period of three weeks. While they rode, they shot this film using a single lens on a Canon 7D. It has some great tilt-shift and amazing shots of all that’s in between those destinations.
Trains have always had an effect on me that I can’t quite explain. Maybe it’s something about the simple magic of moving from point A to B. It could be that a train takes a route no car can follow and thus somewhat mysterious. Maybe my locomotive love stems from a my first train ride at the tender age of six when we rode from Grand Junction to Boulder, Colorado. We crossed the heart of the Rocky Mountains in the depths of white December to spend a Christmas with grandma. How can you not love trains after a trip like that?
Wherever that passion stemmed from, Trans-mongolian hit a nerve. It’s beautiful. It’s full of wanderlust. And it’s just what I needed to see tonight.
A few years ago, after reading Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek I was convinced outsourcing my work was the way to go. How could it not be? He pitches it as the end-all-be-all for achieving freedom from the daily grind.
“What could go wrong,” I reasoned. “Just follow Tim’s advice and be specific in your requests.”
Like any good salesman, Tim is selling an idea. He’s selling the idea of freedom. He’s selling to office drones who want out. But once you start outsourcing your life, there are equal parts “wow this is awesome” and “what have I done?” moments. While I haven’t figured out how to cut my life back to four hours (I doubt that will ever be a goal for me, truthfully), I’ve been able to shave off 15 of a potential 60 hour week—saving my sanity and the day at the same time.
For example, I hired a researcher that, for $20 an hour compiled a three-year editorial calendar and blog slugs for a client. Ten hours and two hundred dollars later, we had more blog material than we knew what do to with. And it was quality stuff.
Another time I hired a designer who plowed through a time-consuming project while I traveled. It worked out well: he worked while I slept and I gave him direction via email while he snoozed. Brilliant, right? There were some hiccups, but it came out alright in the end.
On the other hand, I once hired a guy and gave him very specific instructions on a project. I shared a Dropbox folder with him, assuming that he’d work directly off the files and I’d have immediate access to his changes for last-second tweaks. Instead, he downloaded them and worked off a local copy. When he uploaded the files…I spotted a typo. NOOO! Now I had less than an hour to deliver the project—it was safely tucked away on a his computer, a half a world away.
So it’s a mixed bag. Sometimes my off-shore developers will knock out a project in a third of the time for a tenth of the cost. Other times, they are so focused on solving the specific task I’ve set them to that they inadvertently break three other things—causing more revisions and added frustration.
If you’re thinking of outsourcing, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- You get what you pay for. My experience$10/hr developers and $6/hr VAs has shown me that I get what I pay for. I’ve had much more success by seeking out those who charge a bit more.
- Be clear. I’ve been on both ends of providing direction and feedback, and no matter what the skill level is for the person you’re managing, it’s always good to be as clear as possible. Kick off the project with a call—Skype preferably. When providing feedback, mark up a PDF or provide a screen shot rather than emailing a punch list.
- Test the waters. Often times when I’m hiring someone for the first time, I’ll give them a small assignment to see how they do. If they do good work, I bring them on for a larger or more complicated project.
- Be respectful. Recently a contractor apologized for the time it took to answer an email (it was maybe 30 minutes). “I was eating my dinner,” he said. Of course he as to eat, and sleep—not to mention live a life. It’s easy to fall into the idea that you’re hiring a tool. If you think that, you’re the tool. These are people trying to make a living, trying to carve out a life for themselves. Be nice. Be generous. Don’t be a jerk. Say thank you.
- Temper negative feedback. When hiring through oDesk or Elance, there’s an opportunity to provide feedback. Just one piece of advice: be nicer than you should: This is a human who’s trying to make a living, not a product on Amazon.
It’s a new age of flexible, ad hoc teams. It’s cloud outsourcing. There’s new territory to explore and new pitfalls to avoid. And while I’ve had my fair share of mishaps, overall I believe in the new flexible team model.
I’d love to hear your experience in how outsourcing has changed the way you live and work.
Work around here is getting nuts and I need some help. I’ve written up a job description below and will be taking applications over the next few weeks. Feel free to forward to someone you know.
Freelance Jr. Designer
I need a freelance jr. designer to handle some overflow work I have. Jobs include light design work (posters, brochures, stuffers, etc). There’s a fair amount of small edits and copy changes to existing templates too. Be ready to regularly create print-ready files. You should have an excellent eye when it comes to spotting good stock photography as well.
- InDesign (Seriously. I need a rockstar.)
- PowerPoint (and a willingness to use it even though it’s lame)
- Word (rare)
- Mac running Adobe CS5
- MS Office
- Fast internet connection
- Dropbox account and the Dropbox client installed on your machine
- Available for at least four hours on weekdays between 7am – 6pm Pacific time
- A decent portfolio (It’s corporate design. I’m looking for clean work (not edgy or grunge), with functional typography use.)
A bit about you:
- You love to crank out work. Every day.
- You’re consistent, determined, and unafraid of critique.
- You’re not a jerk. (Neither am I, but let’s all leave our egos at home.)
- You love deadlines and understand that constraints exist and can embrace them.
- You love to build a tight file — meaning you use paragraph/character styles, know how to build a press-ready file from the ground up. CMYK is your friend.
- You’re willing to get your hands dirty to create PowerPoint decks on occasion. (Repeat after me: Everyone hates PPT, but we do it because that’s what the client needs and it sometimes pays the bills. There is no shame in this.)
Send me an email with the subject line of “Jr. Designer.” Include a little work history, a link to your portfolio. Also, give me one reason why you’d make for a good ongoing working partner. Also include your hourly rate and availability.
Is it better to work out one day a week for three hours, or to do 30 minutes a day all week?
When starting a business, do we hope for overnight success by putting up a website and crossing our fingers?
The answers are obvious. But all too often, we look for reliable results from sporadic attempts.
We want to run a marathon, but we don’t stick to the training schedule. On race day, we show up and hope for the best.
We build the website, post it to Facebook, then stand back and wait for the money to roll in.
What’s the missing ingredient?
Marathons are run by training consistently. Businesses are built through small daily actions—consistent messaging, consistent customer service, consistent product. Mountains are scaled one step at a time.
Any worthy goal can’t happen in a day. It’s only through small and simple daily habits do we achieve greatness.
I propose three things that will help you achieve your goals through consistency.
- Think big, but start small — I heard a man who rode the 2700 mile Tour Divide mountain bike race say, “I start out slow, and then I back off.” Don’t try to do everything at once. Don’t go out strong. See the end goal, but move methodically and deliberately.
- Record your results — By recording your progress you can see how far you’ve come. When discouragement strikes, you have proof that you are making progress.
- Tell someone. Or everyone. — Sharing holds you accountable and keeps you pointed in the right direction.
So build that business, master that skill, hike that mountain, run that marathon.
But don’t do it all today.