Regenerate Thumbnails WordPress Plugin

May 23rd, 2012

I’d been needing a plugin that would fix my past thumbnails that I had already saved. I should have known that there would be a plugin that would do it that’s appropriately named Regenerate Thumbnails. If you’ve ever had to play around with Thumbnail size, then you can understand how great this plugin is.

Full Disclosure: I haven’t used it yet, but it’s from a popular WordPress developer and I found it from another WP core developer who used it successfully. In fact, this post is so I can easily find this plugin in the future as much as anything else.

Sabotaging Your Own Success

March 7th, 2012

Looks like it’s been a few months since I’ve posted on this site. I guess I’ve been a little busy with my other 20 or so blogs.

Luckily today I came across a post called “Stop Sabotaging Your Own Success: A Manifesto” that really got me thinking and ready to share my own story.

The crux of the post for me is Don’t be afraid to try things you don’t think you can do.

As I read through the various quotes in the post, I remembered back to what I believe is one of the most pivotal choices I made back early in my college career. The choice itself was actually somewhat inconsequential. In fact, looking back the choice really seems like a quite simple and silly choice. It barely even resembles a choice, but for some reason I had an internal fear that doing this would be outside of my comfort zone.

The story starts back in college on a Saturday when I was bored and really wanted to get out and play some sports of some sort. I didn’t care what sport, I just wanted to get some exercise and sports adds that competitive ingredient which makes the exercise fun. I headed over to a park close by the University thinking I might be able to find a game of football, soccer, or maybe even some volleyball. None of those were found, but there was a group of people playing ultimate frisbee.

I remembered back to my childhood days where I’d played at least a couple games of ultimate frisbee and so I asked if I could join in. Turns out, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I figured I’d played ultimate frisbee before and that this wouldn’t be a big deal. Little did I know that this group really played ultimate frisbee. They could throw the frisbee in so many different ways including what I now know is called the forehand or flick. Plus, they had cleats and I was just wearing regular sneakers.

After thinking I could throw the frisbee deep each time I touched it, one of the other players kindly instructed me that I shouldn’t just huck the disc as far as I could each time I got it hoping that someone from my team might be lucky enough to get to wherever the frisbee might end up. Instead, I should be more patient and look for the “easy” throws that I knew I could make to my teammates. Even if that meant I was throwing a short one behind me to someone who could throw better than me.

Needless to say, I obviously wasn’t as good at ultimate frisbee as I thought I was when I asked to play. While we were sitting down at the end of the game, I overheard a couple of the people talking about an ultimate frisbee city league. I heard them talking about putting a team together. For some reason they didn’t ask me to be on their team. My ego assumes the team was full, but I imagine I might have gotten a request to play had I been more skilled at ultimate frisbee.

However, I must admit that I was intrigued that their was an ultimate frisbee city league. I’d never heard of such a thing and so after a quick online search (This was before it was called a Google search) I found the website for the ultimate frisbee city league. Turns out, they accepted team signups or individual signups.

I’d like to say that I just ignored this past experience and signed up. To be honest, I nearly “sabotaged myself.” I remember thinking that maybe I wasn’t good enough to play. I remember thinking that maybe they wouldn’t want me to play. I remember thinking that maybe I wouldn’t fit in. I remember thinking that maybe I’d sign up and they wouldn’t let me play. The idea of riding the bench didn’t sound like fun. Particularly if I used my poor college student money to sign up to play.

Despite these emotions, I signed up anyway. However, the emotions continued even on the first day I went to play in the opening game. I had no idea what to expect and I’d already learned that I had A LOT to learn about playing ultimate frisbee.

The AMAZING thing is that I went ahead and did it anyway. I’m a very calculated person that always made very calculated choices. However, this time the calculations didn’t necessarily add up and I went ahead and did it anyway.

Don’t ask me why, but for some reason before I signed up for this ultimate frisbee city league I felt like this was an incredible stretch. For me at that time, It WAS! However, I think it taught me an amazing thing. I can learn to do things I’m not very good at and it’s ok to take the risk and try.

This lesson has served me very well and been re-taught to me over and over as I’ve learned to stretch myself in new, valuable, and unexpected ways.

You might thinking…what about the end of the story? What happened once I showed up at the city league?

I ended up getting put on what I believe was likely the only team that accepted players that singed up individually. They were from the next town over and not very athletic. Although, a number of them had been playing ultimate frisbee for quite a while. So, I was lucky enough to become the fast one who would run deep. Plus, little by little these veterans taught me all the things I was doing wrong and how I could do better.

I spent the entire summer working on throwing the forehand and finally mastered it. At the end of the league I was invited to play on the club team that was traveling to another college to play against other college teams. I eventually went on to play at sectionals and regional tournaments in a number of different states having the time of my life.

In fact, ~11 years later I’m still playing ultimate frisbee as often as possible. I even help organize the non-profit Las Vegas Ultimate frisbee organization. When my first son was born I had him holding a frisbee the first day home.

Imagine if I’d been too afraid to sign up and “Sabotaged My Own Success.” I’d not only have missed out on learning something I now love, but I’d have set a terrible pattern for future choices.

Showing People They Matter

September 8th, 2011

In a community that I’m apart of, I mentioned to one of the members of the community (we’ll call him Steve) that I’d sent a text to another member of the community (we’ll call him Dave). There wasn’t much to it. I basically just sent a text to Dave that said, “Are you coming tonight?” However, I was completely shocked by Steve’s reply to me saying I’d sent a text to Dave.

Steve asked me, “Dave is such an attention whore that he came out after you gave him some attention?”

I must admit that I was complete blown away by this comment and still am today. As I thought about it, I realized that Steve was right about Dave enjoying attention. However, that wasn’t the intention of my text at all. I just wanted this person to attend and so I sent the text to encourage their attendance. I’ll admit that I don’t even understand the thinking that someone wouldn’t do something as simple as sending a text because they didn’t want to give someone attention.

This idea really came together when I saw a TedXDesMoines video where Angela Maiers talks about the idea of showing people that “You Matter.” Watch even just the first 5 minutes to get the idea:

As I thought about my experience with Steve and Dave above, I realized that all my simple text did for Dave was say, “You Matter.” Plus, Steve wants to know he matters almost as much as Dave, but Dave is just more vocal about it. However, I wonder how many people avoid showing other people around them that they matter all because of some idea that they’re feeding someone’s need for attention. It makes me sick to think about.

Let’s be honest. We all have a need to know “You Matter.” Who doesn’t like to feel appreciate for something or wanted? We all do.

I think Angela Maiers is on to something with “You Matter.” There’s a real power to showing people that they matter to you. Time to look for more ways to show this quality in more aspects of my life. Even if it’s something as simple as a text message.

A Steve Jobs Approach to Product Development

September 4th, 2011

Today I was reading a post from one of my favorite VC bloggers, Brad Feld, in which he included a really inspiring video (embedded below). In this video Steve Jobs is responding a pretty caustic question from the audience. Turns out that the question doesn’t really matter, but Steve Jobs offers a fascinating insight into the idea of developing with the customer in mind first as opposed to seeing how a technology can benefit the customer.

I love ideas like this that provide a new lens for looking at a business. I am quite sure that as I talk about ideas for businesses with people I’m now going to regularly ask them about the customer experience they want to achieve. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure a number of the responses to that question will go something like, “Umm…Yeah…Ummm…That’s a good question. I just really love this simple technology that’s able to do XYZ function.” Helping them understand the customer focused approach will be a challenge.

I hope others hold me accountable for it too.

Premature Scaling and Killing Your Startup

September 1st, 2011

I was reading some random blog link I got on Twitter that had the great title of “Premature Scaling Kills Startups – The Startup Genome.” At first I thought it was going to be a post about the Human Genome. I guess my recent post about the Human Genome and EMR might have influenced that thought. Turns out, the post was talking about the “genomic data” of a startup company. Something I actually love more than the Human Genome.

You should go read the whole post, but his list of bullet points at the end hit me:

  • The team size of startups that scale prematurely is 3 times bigger than the consistent startups at the same stage
  • 74% of high growth Internet startups fail due to premature scaling
  • Startups that scale properly grow about 20 times faster than startups that scale prematurely
  • 93% of startups that scale prematurely never break the $100k revenue per month threshold

He also provided 2 summary items which help you get the most out of the bullet points above. I’d describe them simply as:

  • Scale Consistently
  • Constrain Your Scaling As Long As Possible

Great advice!

Learning to Blog – True Slow and Steady Entrepreneurship

August 27th, 2011

I always love when people ask me what I do. I use to give all sorts of convoluted answers, but now I just simply say I’m a blogger. After they close their gaping mouth, they then start trying to ask questions which basically ask the question, How do you do that?

Of course, the real issue is that most people don’t understand the type of blogging I do. Most of them just think of their wife’s blog or a family blog that they might know about. They don’t realize that blogs have an amazing power outside of just sharing stories about your family.

The other assumption that people make is that as a blogger I JUST write stuff. While I guess at it’s core, writing blog posts are essential to blogging, there’s so much more to creating a successful blog.

I’ve been pondering on how to share the knowledge I have with other people that want to do what I do. At first I considered teaching a summer course, but finding a location and the right pricing model made it so I never did it. A few recent happenings have prompted me to basically create a new premium blog that will teach someone how to blog.

It will probably take me a few months to create, but here’s an off the top of my head outline of the topics I want to cover:

-Choosing the Right Blog Topic (Passion)
-Key Points to Setting Up a Blog (plugins, hosting, platform, etc)
-Creating Great Content
-Marketing the Content
-Monetizing the Content

There are a whole lot of sub-topics under the above topics, but you get the idea. I think it shows the real core of what you need to be a successful blogger.

My approach is different than many other people. I won’t be claiming any get rich quick scheme. In fact, I’ll do quite the opposite. Blogging is the epitome of slow and steady entrepreneurship. However, done consistently over time it can have amazing rewards!

I just wanted to put this out there. More details to come in the future. If this interests you, let me know in the comments.

2011 Tech Nevada Honors – #vegastech

August 16th, 2011

TechNevada Honors is an annual event to celebrate those individuals and companies that have greatly enhanced the growth and prestige of the technology community in Nevada. Considering many of the great things happening with Vegas Tech and particularly this great list of Las Vegas Startups, I hope that we see a bunch of those startup companies featured at the Tech Nevada Honors event.

Qualifications for the awards are outlined on the nomination form (PDF). Nominations must be made in the following categories:
CIO/CTO of the Year
Tech Company of the Year
Tech Entrepreneur of the Year
Tech Transplant of the Year
Tech Educator of the Year
Tech Start Up of the Year
Tech Star in the Public Sector
Technology Hall of Fame
Green Company of the Year

Tech Nevada Honors is hosted by Technology Business Alliance of Nevada (TBAN). The Awards Banquet will be held on the evening of October 19, 2011, at the Springs Preserve, 333 South Valley View Boulevard – Las Vegas, NV 89107. Limited seating & Sponsorship (PDF) are still available if your company is interested in sponsoring this event.

The Humble – Confidence Dichotomy of Successful Entrepeneurs

August 9th, 2011

When reading this post by Brad Feld, I was reminded of the challenge that is being an entrepreneur and leading a company. In Brad’s post he talks about a couple of strong, capable entrepreneurs that were starting to have self doubt. Brad suggests a way out of this self doubt using inquiry. Go read his post to learn about that.

What hit me about his description of self doubting entrepreneurs was how much of a challenge it is to be an entrepreneur. As the founder and leader, you’re constantly walking the tight rope of humility and confidence. You have to be humble enough to not compare yourself to others (and other companies), while keeping your confidence for the rest of the team.

Both of those characteristics are hard to manage.

I think by our very nature we want to start comparing ourselves to other people. If it’s not in our nature, then it’s in our culture. Either way, the ability to not compare yourself to others is a challenge. When you talk to other entrepreneurs you rarely get the whole story. They only tell you the exciting and wonderful parts of their business. They seem to avoid telling you about their fears, anxieties, pressures, stress, and even failures.

Since all you’re hearing is the great things about other companies, it’s not even fair to compare your business to another. Even if you do hear the challenges of another company, there’s still little value in finding your self worth in your company being better than another company. Guess what? It doesn’t really matter.

Related to the above challenge is the entrepreneurial challenge of remaining confident for the rest of your team. There’s a reason that a coach is so great for an entrepreneur. It gives them someone to share their deepest fears that they’ve kept bottled up from the company because they want to maintain the culture.

I’m not talking about lying or misleading people in your company. You should always speak frankly, honestly and openly with the people who work with them. However, the best CEO’s know when is the time to keep your fears to yourself and when is the time to share those fears with the company. Often some things are better kept unsaid.

Thus the dual life of an entrepreneur. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this challenge. How do you deal with it? What have you seen?

Startup Weekend Las Vegas Thoughts

June 29th, 2011

As I posted a couple months ago, I was part of the organizing committee that brought the Startup Weekend event to Las Vegas. By all accounts, it was a huge success. The sold out event was completely packed and full of great startup energy. It makes me wonder how many more people would have come if we hadn’t sold out.

We even got a ton of great media coverage over the course of the weekend. The RJ did a great article on Startup Weekend Las Vegas before the event and Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, talked about it on Jon Ralston’s Face to Face (which I embedded below).

Then, during and after the event we had news coverage from the RJ, ABC Channel 13, Fox, CBS Channel 8, and I’m sure I missed some others. It was really great to have all this coverage of tech startups in Las Vegas.

However, more important than all that coverage was the buzz that happened within the tech and startup community in Las Vegas. The connections that happened thanks to Startup Weekend is what I really wanted to have happen because of Startup Weekend. I wanted startup companies and internet startup minded people to have a chance to meet and come together. That happened in spades during startup weekend.

Whether any of the ideas that were started this weekend at Startup Weekend will continue after the event really doesn’t matter to me. What I do know is that many of the relationships and connections that were made at the event will endure for many many years to come. This is why I call Startup Weekend a raging success.

I was also really excited by the caliber of judges that we had on the Startup Weekend judging panel. I think it was best summarized by a tweet from @JonMumm:

No doubt, it was an incredible opportunity for entrepreneurs in Las Vegas to be able to present and interact with the likes of Tony Hsieh, Kevin Rose, Tom Anderson, Josh Reich, and Ryan Carson. Not bad to have founders and investors from a number of billion dollar companies on the judging panel.

I think the weekend is nicely summed up in a quote of mine the RJ published:

“We learned that Las Vegas has enough tech companies to actually have a tech scene, but none of us knew about each other,” said John Lynn owner of Crashutah.com, a website creation and marketing business in Las Vegas. “This event was the start of bringing those companies together so Las Vegas can begin to build its tech scene.”

Certainly this was the start of something and not the end. The question is, Where will we take it from here?

There’s no one individual that’s going to make it happen. Instead it’s going to take a little bit of effort from a whole lot of people to continue to grow the Las Vegas startup community. I’m committed to continue doing my part to grow the community. I hope everyone will do the same.

I love the quote that says, “Many hands make light work.” That’s definitely applicable to growing the tech startup community in Las Vegas. Let’s all help grow the community.

Fall Back Las Vegas Startup Companies

June 20th, 2011

I know I’m kind of crazy to admit it, but one of my hobbies is to read venture capitalist and startup entrepreneur blogs. Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to go after VC money for a startup company of my own. I haven’t needed to do so yet, but maybe one day. Until then, I’ll continue to enjoy it as a hobby.

As I mentioned in my last update, I’ve been doing what I can to help grow the internet startup eco-system in Las Vegas. As I continue to meet more Las Vegas entrepreneurs, I see all sorts of challenges and issues related to the Las Vegas startup eco-system. One of those issues is having more Fall Back Las Vegas Startup Companies.

This is one of the powerful features of a city with a strong startup environment. The numbers are against every startup company. If I remember right, it’s something like 9 of every 10 startup companies fails (and that might be being generous). That means the majority of new companies that are created are going to fail. We need more Las Vegas startup companies so that if and when a startup company fails the founders and employees of those companies know they have other companies they can go and work for.

One beauty of silicon valley and other startup hubs is that the culture accepts companies failing and there are other opportunities if and when it does fail. Certainly even in silicon valley they aren’t happy when the company they’re working for fails. However, at least when it does happen, they have a lot of other companies that will hire them. They don’t have to go start parking cars to pay the bills, but can move on to another startup company. Rinse and repeat.

Ok, I may be oversimplifying it a little bit, but the ability of a city to absorb talented people who worked for a startup company that’s failed is something I’d love to see happen in Las Vegas.

Creating a list of Las Vegas startup companies like we’ve started to do is the first step. Events like Startup Weekend Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Jellies are another step. Little by little, we’ll get there. The strip wasn’t built in a night. A Las Vegas startup eco-system won’t be either.