My Jiminy Cricket and The Power of Parkinsons Law

June 4th, 2012

I believe one of the most important things to remember when it comes to the topic of time management in business is Parkinson's Law: "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." It's my Jiminy Cricket when it comes to productivity.

Here are some examples of what I'm talking about:

If I were to ask you the question, "How long does it take to clean your room?" What would you say? A half-hour? One hour? Two hours? The whole day?

What if I told you you only had five minutes to clean your entire room?

Would you be able to get it done in the shorter timeline?

If I were to tell you at 9 AM on Monday morning that I'd like you to have the company Quickbooks account reconciled by 6 PM the same day, what time do you think you would finish reconciling the books?

What if I told you that you only had two hours to reconcile?

Would you be able to get it done in the shorter timeline?

It turns out that time can be a really funny thing. Sometimes, I'm sure you look back at the end of a day and wonder where the time went. Other times, I'm sure time seems to drag on and on and on and on. In the world of startups, it is likely 90% vs 10% in favor to things moving fast vs. slow. However, just because you think life is moving fast doesn't mean you're not falling victim to the effect of Parkinson's Law. It is likely you are.

Do this the next time you think about a project you'd like to get accomplished by day's end. Think about how much time you think you'll need to get the project done right. Now. Cut that time in half. Can you still get the project done right? Now. Cut that time in half again. Can you stillllll get the project done right? What would Jiminy say?

You'll often find that if you think a project will take four hours... it will end up taking four hours. If you think a project will take one hour... it will end up taking one hour. If you think a project will take five days... it will end up taking five days. No matter how big or small the task, if you set a time limit around a project, the task will often times occupy the space allotted.

So the next time you think about managing your time, and the next time you're looking to be "more efficient" or "move faster" or "be more productive"... just remember my Jiminy. Remember Parkinson's Law. It's the only "time management" lesson you'll ever need to know.


Where Can I Learn the Basics of SEO?

May 10th, 2012

Samuel Johns is the Sr. Marketing Associate of Organic Search at Vistaprint. Samuel is from Australia, and has a strong Australian accent. My only regret in life to this day remains not having been born in Australia so that I could have his accent. I bet it pulls in ladies.

Samuel is a highly respected Marketing leader in Boston. The man drops SEO knowledge like Little Boy on Hisoshima. Total destruction. He's a great guy to have by your side.

I asked him recently to help craft a blog post aimed at helping young people in Boston who were interested in learning about SEO. And without further adoo... Samuel writes:

It’s the question Ryan asked me and it is the question I get from a number of people wanting to learn more about SEO: 'Where is the best place for me to get a basic understanding of SEO?' The question gets asked so often that I’d created a stock standard email of the resources to send out to people. Below I’ve taken the standard contents from the email and elaborated on each of them a little bit. Hope you find it helpful.

1. Google: The big brothers of search

  • Google Guide to SEO: A guide to follow and easy to understand for any novice. A great place to start, in combinations with the SEOMoz guide listed below.

  • Google Webmaster tools: With anything, you only learn by doing. Google Webmaster tools allows you to start getting your hands dirty and will provide great insight into how your website is performing from an SEO perspective.

  • Google Webmaster Blog: Provides education and updates related to Webmaster tools.

  • Google Inside Search Blog - Worth checking out to learn about the history of Google’s changes to the algorithm and keeping up with new features they are launching. They’ll post every so often about a number of the updates made.

  • Youtube Videos: Matt Cutts is the Search Quality Specialist at Google (SPAM Police). He often answers common questions through some really simple and quick YouTube videos. Well worth looking through and seeing which ones are relevant to you.

2. SEOMoz: The founders of SEO education and thought leaders in the space: http://www.seomoz.org/

  • Web Version or PDF of the SEOMoz guide to SEO. It is quite possibly the best guide to SEO for any beginner. The original version of this was written 2 years before Google even published their first version. Hence why the Google version has a lot of the same elements as SEOMoz.

  • SEOMoz Learn SEO: In the right nav of the “learn SEO” page on SEOMoz.com has some of the best and basic gems related to setting yourself up for success by building the base.

3. SearchEngineLand: The one stop shop for SEO news and industry updates: http://searchengineland.com/

  • SEO Table of Elements: To get a quick snap shot of the elements and various functions within your company that can affect SEO. SearchEngineLand has created a periodic table of SEO elements. The table will help give you an overview of a number of SEO elements to think about.

4. Blogs to follow:

How was that? Do you now consider yourself an expert in SEO, or soon to be expert?

Feel free to ping across any questions you may have and remember to share any other helpful tools to get you find on getting started in SEO. Twitter: @samuel_johns


5 Things to Do to Learn How to Code: VP Engineering in Boston says

December 7th, 2011

Mike Miklavic is a very good buddy of mine. He also happens to work alongside me at my company. The second happened first. But the first takes over the second. Friendship is a beautiful thing.

Mike recently wrote a blog post titled Learn how to Code. Read the post. If it interests you in even the slightest morsel in your body, please contact Mike at mike@campuslive.com with questions / thoughts / comments / love notes. He'll be happy to speak with you. His goal is to help as many young people in the city interested in programming. Even if you haven't touched a lick of code...

Here's the recap:

1. Go to CodeAcademy. Try this puppy out. It will get you understand what it even means "to code."

2. Download Notepad++ if you are on Windows. This is where you'll type your code.

3. Buy this HTML and CSS book and learn it: Beginning Web Programming with HTML, XHTML, and CSS. This will teach you to code basic websites.

4. Learn a server side language. Mike suggests PHP. Buy this: Beginning PHP and MySQL: From Novice to Professional. At this stage, you’ll need to set up an apache server, if you’re on windows, try this: http://www.wampserver.com/en/.

5.) Go and build things.

HOLY SMOKES. BUILD THINGS!!! But I don't know how!!!!!

That's why you need to do steps 1 - 4 first peepoze! Try it out. GO! And reach out to Mike with questions. He's here and happy to help. Mike for Web Development Presidentttt!


Awesome Intro Video to Lean Startup by Eric Reis

November 15th, 2011

I've been really diving into this Lean Startup way of thinking, and I can identify with it through and through. Mostly because of the scarily similar problems we've dealt with in building our own business, and also through the massive opportunities I see that await when looking through the correct lens. I hope that I can help influence young people interested in building a business / startup / product to dive into this as well. If it is able to help even one person learn faster than they normally would, I will have accomplished my goal. To make all of this easier to consume, please watch this video. Maybe toss it on in the background while you're hacking through homework, while you're lying in bed, while you're ready to relax and listen to something truly great. Then dive into it more for yourself.

For more information on Eric Reis and Lean Startup, check out his blog here.


Startup Libraries | Build One Today

October 19th, 2011

To any startup owner in Boston, NYC, the Valley, Detroit, Miami, and Antarctica, too.

If you own a business, you should think about building a startup library for your fellow employees. I don't care if there's only one of you, ten, fifty, or if you run a company of thousands. I highly suggest you buy books (whether physical books or through a bunch of Kindle's or iPads) that your fellow co-workers can take with them at their leisure, at any time, anywhere. At our business, we've bought about 25 books thus far for employees. No. Not hundreds. Just 25. It's a start in the right direction. I imagine by year end we'll be hovering around 50.

If you were to look at our "library" you'd think it looked pretty bare. And while many people may scoff at that, it makes me smile. What would you rather have: A library with all of it's booked neatly stacked on shelves? Or an empty bookcase, with the books in the hands of employees?

Buying books for your fellow employees sets a tone within the office that you value productivity. It says that you value progress. That you value deliberation and thought and curiosity. That you value enhancing individuals lives through knowledge. And most importantly: It says that you care about them.





Here is a list of my favorite books of all time that can help you popular your own startup library. In order...

1. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand (my #1 favorite book of all time)
2. Never Eat Alone - Keith Ferrazzi
3. How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie
4. Lincoln the Unknown - Dale Carnegie
5. What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School - Mark McCormack
6. The Definitive Book of Body Language - Allan Pease, Barabara Pease
7. The Art of the Deal - Donald Trump
8. The Art of the Start - Guy Kawasaki
9. Rework - Jason Fried & David Heinemeier
10. Do More Faster - Brad Feld, David Cohen
11. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickins
12. Inc. and Grow Rich - C.W. Allen, Cheri S. Hill, Diane Kennedy, Garrett Sutton (Not Think and Grow Rich... but INC. This teaches you about taxes and saving money in unique ways).
13. Manhunt: The 12-Day Hunt for Lincoln's Killer - James Swanson

Education is the light. You cannot escape it. Embrace it and make it a staple of your office. Promote education and reading amongst your peers. Be the champion of your startup library. Add new books to it each month. Talk amongst the office and see what others are reading. People work out to build strong muscles. Now build the strongest muscle of all: your brain. The mind is a beautiful thing. I'm sure you saw the movie. Now it's time to put that puppy to work.

Tell me what you think gangsters.