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Columbus Geek Night January 14, 2014

Posted by Brian Link in Internet culture, startups.
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There’s a lot of events in town, but it’s rare to find a good cross-section of passionate technologists in a purely social meet-up. There are many places software developers come together and interact, but it’s often in the context of something else: Startup Weekend, Code Mash, Code and Coffee, startup pitch events, Tech Columbus or individual meet ups for smaller groups on their own like agile, PHP, ruby, hadoop, etc.

We have a lot of great talent in Columbus and I’m hoping to introduce something interesting I found while living in Providence, Rhode Island. A no-agenda, completely independent casual get-together for software engineers. If this sounds interesting, please check it out and join us: http://columbusgeeknight.wordpress.com. The first event will be Jan 22, 2014.

I’m also hoping that some subset of us can drive this thing forward, not just me or any one company. Please let me know if you’d like to get involved.

See you there.

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What do you really *love* on the Internet? June 29, 2012

Posted by Brian Link in agile, Internet culture, startups.
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There’s a few things that I have come across on the interwebs recently that have inspired this blog post. And I post pretty rarely, so this feels like a momentous occasion.

First, I clicked through the fun little app called “Fish – a tap essay”. It’s a great summary in poetic dramatic fashion of how we are overwhelmed by liking and sharing online and asks the question “what does it mean to love something on the Internet” when most sharing is fleeting and forgotten (reminds me of the business case for Toobla, a previous startup I worked with, which everyone has surely forgotten.) In short, the stuff you love is the stuff you come back to over and over again. Or share with multiple people over time. The apps on your phone you use everyday, those great reference sites or blog posts or articles that you repeatedly refer people to. These are the things that shine above the everyday “like”.

That little “Fish” app encourages us to think about what really matters when you share online and I like that. So I think I’ll publish a few of these things that I think matter.

Here’s a few of the things I’m most often referring people to are on entrepreneurship and building Internet startups. Here’s some resources I hope you find useful.

* Early Stage Startup Advice and Funding:

This blog post I wrote last week covers a lot, and I’ll keep adding to it over time just for fun

* Books for Entrepreneurs:

Here’s a few different sources of good books on Quora.

And an excellent condensed list here for startup entrepreneurs.

* Must Read Startup Resources Online:

http://steveblank.com/tools-and-blogs-for-entrepreneurs/

* Lean Startup:

http://leancanvas.com/ – this one piece of paper is more powerful than any 20 page business plan

* “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy” – First time I saw the phrase ambient awareness:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/07/magazine/07awareness-t.html?pagewanted=all

* My Favorite Awesome Apps:

Amazon Mobile – price check anything anywhere. and order stuff you know, whenever you think of it.

Evernote – this app is my brain so I don’t have to keep things in my brain

Pandora – addicted to the discovery and familiarity at the same time

PocketPedia3 – bring your DVD catalog with you anywhere so you don’t buy dupes!

Scrabble – nothing beats the real thing with words, friends

Starwalk – augmented reality astronomy interactive guide. shows the stars’ names and constellations, locations of planets as you hold it and rotate it over your head at night

Zite (iPad) – this is my secret news source. only tool that gets me and my passions (startups, entrepreneurship, particle physics, cosmology, apple, disruptive technology)

Image credit: Joe Stump

Facebook Needs Relationship Pages October 2, 2011

Posted by Brian Link in Internet culture, socialmedia.
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Now that timeline is coming out, I’d love to tell stories that are more interesting than just ones that decorate my own history. In fact, to help reconnect and reminisce with people, why not give us a place to tell stories like how we met. Or of old college friends, and the stories we share. Old work friends, the projects with crazy bosses. I know I can just create entries in the timeline and only share them with certain people, but what I’m looking for is Facebook to encourage people to share stories about their relationships with other people.

When you click on a friend, it shows you what you have in common as far as interests and other friends, but why not expand that into a full page. Prompt me for how we first met, things we did together and pull in any photos that have us both tagged. And use the timeline interface. The default should be to only share these timelines between the people who are mentioned in them but could of course be shared more broadly.

High schoolers would love the BFF-ness of it. College friends might enjoy talking about the raging multi-keggers they had. And married people would love to tell their joint stories, whether just to preserve them somewhere or to share them with just family or with everyone. I’d also like to capture a few fun stories about some of my lifelong friends, which would be fun to share with their wives, for example. Things like a running dialogue with a childhood friend and I remembering random things like trading star wars cards and what we were for halloween years and years ago.

Think about family vacations that could be told jointly, with entries into all of our main timelines too. And more importantly, our collaborative stories all in one place. We all upload pictures separately, but since we created this relationship page with its own timeline it would automatically capture our separate photos as a joint collection (think iPhoto event). And as photos are uploaded and tagged by anyone who was there on the vacation, they’d be included in this timeline and be able to contribute to the stories.

I’d use this product. And it would make my own personal timeline a lot more interesting.

What do you think?

Google+ and Facebook Observations July 12, 2011

Posted by Brian Link in Internet culture, socialmedia.
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{EAV_BLOG_VER:34b3e0baca916fff}
Jason Calcanis recently sent out an email asking for some feedback on Google+, so I took the time to reply.  Thought I’d post it here as well since there seems to be no shortage of discussions around the topic. It’s hard to get a really good summary of the issues and salient differences though, but it’s out there.  Here’s a quick attempt to round up some of the discussion:

1. Is Google+ better than Facebook? If so, why?

You’ll undoubtedly get a mixed result of answers to this question. The average user won’t be able to tell the difference, once they take a close look. But the subtleties will matter to us geek users. Three topics matter: Sharing, Privacy and Integration.

SHARING: You might love circles, for example (even though almost everyone I talk to or read on G+ doesn’t realize that Facebook actually still has better functionality here, they just don’t have the beautiful drag n drop UI. You can share or consume through friend lists or circles on either platform but you still can’t *exclude* circles from an update on G+).  Google has clearly brought some much needed attention to the creating and using of friend lists when sharing, which I’m happy about, but users who care do this on Facebook already. [Google wins the perception battle due to the fancy circles UI, but I think Facebook still wins, mostly because of the next topic – privacy – when it comes to sharing]

PRIVACY: So, to get even more granular in the sharing topic is the public vs. public debate. Strangers can jump into your conversation on G+ which some people like, but would scare the crap out of people less techie (or less Twitter-aware) over on Facebook who love their little walled gardens.  Google is encouraging more public sharing and people with large follow lists get a ton more engagement (which is great for the big geek early adopters, which is why folks like Scoble really like Google+ and Kevin Rose has redirected kevinrose.com to point to his Google+ stream) but Google clearly has an issue with privacy and I suspect news like this MSNBC article will continue to spread. [Facebook wins the privacy game, oddly by not making it front and center, but rather a de-facto walled garden of who you’ve friended – you just need to make sure you’re actually friending people you know!]

INTEGRATION: So people tout the google tie-ins that exist already (the sandbar, upcoming gmail integration and how easy you can bounce into G+ from an iGoogle home page) and the fact that many people are already in google apps; this will undoubtedly help tie together all Google services. If you’re a googler, this may be super compelling. Facebook has its hooks in people for many other reasons too. Not just the friend list lock-in (which is reason enough for the 40+ demographic to stay put I think) and the fact that Facebook doesn’t want you to take your contact list with you (see here and here). But the ubiquitous “log in with Facebook” and all those apps people have already authenticated is not going to change anytime soon. OAuth through Google will also be a factor, but I think the mainstream is already much more comfortable with those little Facebook pop-up login windows. And do you know anyone playing Zynga games? Yeah, they’re not going anywhere either. [Google is a strong contender here, but many people will not be leaving Facebook due to the various social lock-in factors.  This particular point is soon to be moot however, as people will soon learn how to connect their Google+, Facebook and Twitter all together at least for sharing and consuming their big streams, cross-posting everything everwhere even to LinkedIn. Many users will end up using both just as many of my friends use Twitter and Facebook equally today. The real trick will be if some new player can create a true friend-list syncher that keeps your circles, Facebook friend lists and Twitter lists all straight and privacy settings included]

2. Is it possible that Google+ could compete with Facebook?

It will, because it appears clean and open and everyone uses Google. But I wonder if the privacy concerns don’t hamper it’s growth beyond the early adopters and hardcore Googlers.  (And I wonder if some of the fresh and new wears off after extra noise from brands and spammers and too many people crowd into the network.  I’ve been playing with Google+ with the early adopter crowd which was kinda nice, but I wonder what it’ll be like once there’s many more people.  Pretty sure I’ll need to prune my follow lists and spend way too much time cleaning up my circles.)

Scoble has said it will be wildly popular with the geeks, and that might be enough of a success. Many millions will “just try it” and get hooked. But once it becomes easier to hook up all your networks and share once and engage everywhere (much like people send their streams to friendfeed or twitter into facebook) it doesn’t really matter, does it?

3. Facebook: buy, sell or hold at $100B market cap?

I thought 80B was pretty huge. But those secondmarket sales keep rising… The more interesting story to me is the non-public markets and whether Facebook has a chance of evolving that drastically, more than they already have. I wonder if they don’t ever go public, just stir up the pot and tease us that they will – then go crazy with the secondmarket where they and the employees can control demand.

4. You can only have one, pick now: Facebook, Twitter or Google+?

There is no need to pick one 🙂 But if I personally could only share (and engage) on one it’d be Twitter because I have the largest audience there, including a wide variety of my friends. But Twitter isn’t as personal – and if I really thought about the most meaningful conversations to me, not just link-sharing and banter, I might just pick Facebook instead, because it’s a more comfortable environment where I know exactly who’s consuming my messages.

5. Any other observations two weeks

Huge hype deflated after invites became less scarce – I wonder how many people will try it once then bounce because their graph isn’t in G+. Most main streamers, I suspect. If you’re Facebook-only and don’t dabble enough with Twitter, then Google+ won’t appeal to you that much. It takes a little more savvy to figure out how to really navigate and control your signal to noise on Google+ – which is exactly how the bitheads at Google think, so I don’t suspect they’ll change that too much. Facebook will always cater to the lowest common person and focus on simplicity. They’ve tucked away their privacy controls because most people don’t care – the same people who’d freak out if a stranger started commenting on a public message in their stream… and they will blissfully stay ignorant in their Facebook walled garden.

My conclusion is that Google has created a very surprising and impressive social network with explosive growth that will capture a large part of the market, but there are hundreds of millions that are going nowhere on Facebook.  Personally, I think it’s great that we have a new network and I’m glad that Google finally got a social solution with some traction (RIP Buzz, Wave, etc.) but I won’t be using it extensively.  Time, ultimately, is the biggest opponent to a newcomer even if you’re Google… I just don’t have the time or inclination to setup the synchronizing/reposting strategy to be able to span both and its too easy to just keep doing what I’m doing.

Did I just share my location with an axe murderer? January 4, 2011

Posted by Brian Link in Internet culture, location-based services, socialmedia.
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You never know who’s out there on the Internet. Mike Myers didn’t know he was marrying an axe murderer either and he knew Harriet IRL.

Many people are just getting into the craze of LBS or location-based services. You’re an LBS user if you check-in on Gowalla, Foursquare, Facebook Places, Yelp, Loopt or use services like ShopKick or even Instagram.  And the trend is likely to continue as these services are integrating deals into their platform, so while you’re out and about with your GPS-enabled phone, you may learn about a special deal at Starbucks or a sale going on at The Gap.

As these services mature, there is still a large number of early adopters that are just using these services, like myself, because they’re fun.  By checking in, I’m telling my friends that I’m at Panera right now.  And once in a while, someone notices and we have this serendipitous meet-up just to say hi.  Friends of mine have discovered friends while making connections in airports or while visiting other cities.  (Honestly, in Columbus we don’t get the same advantage that my friends in NYC get with the greater density of people and LBS-users though.)  I also find myself, for absolutely no good reason, competing to win mayorships at the places I visit frequently on Foursquare. How proud am I that I’m the mayor at my local Kroger and the two Paneras that I work out of frequently.  It’s silly, but fun in a warped kind of way.

But here’s the thing.  And the real reason I wrote this post.  LBS is yet another way to broadcast some very personal information.  And it’s another filter through which you should look when adding friends on social networks. When you friend people on Gowalla and Foursquare, for example, you’re saying something like “I’m OK with you knowing when I’m away from my house or out of town on vacation”.   You wouldn’t go broadcasting that information to just anyone, so please be careful about broadcasting it online.  Last year, a site called PleaseRobMe.com was created just to illustrate that point – people oversharing on social networks.

What’s my advice?  Simply put: be diligent about adding friends to your network. And take a good look at your privacy settings.  Posting on Facebook, for example, seems so innocent, right? Because you know everyone there – or at least you should.  But it’s very easy to post using the setting “Friends of Friends”

Oversharing

Oversharing on Facebook

or “Everyone” and not realize that you’re broadcasting personal information to potentially thousands of strangers. And when posting to Twitter, realize that all messages on Twitter are public by default (which is part of what PleaseRobMe.com was trying to raise awareness of). Also be especially mindful of your status updates being shared between or sent to all of your social networks.  It’s hard to keep track of all your friends everywhere online and services like ping.fm and Facebook apps for Twitter make it all too easy to send everything everywhere.

Personally, I love sharing and believe in the openness of the web.  But I’m also very careful about who I friend on networks through which I share my location.  I try to never send my location updates to Twitter and make sure my location related updates on Facebook are set to only certain groups of friends (if you haven’t yet segmented friends into lists, you should).  It may seem strange to you to be so careful about these things, but privacy is a big deal online and a little bit of time and effort will help keep you and your family safe.

UPDATE: For those interested in learning more about LBS, Danny Sauter created a very well written summary of why people even use LBS apps on Quora here: https://www.quora.com/What-do-users-want-on-a-location-based-app/answer/Danny-Sauter

Happy sharing,

Brian

* photo credit Sony Pictures

Myths and Fears of Social Media October 4, 2010

Posted by Brian Link in Internet culture, socialmedia.
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There are many misconceptions about the ubiquitous term “social media”. Let me start addressing this first with a truth: Social media is not going to immediately or perhaps ever radically change your business.  It can however, make significant changes to the way you think about your brand, finding leads, recruiting, and communicating with and supporting your customers. I tell my clients that it’s the modern telephone; back when phones were brand new, not everyone had one, but soon everyone expected you to be using them. The same is true with every milestone in the way communication has evolved. Social Media is just another communication medium that facilitates conversations over the Internet.

Social Media may seem like a fad because of all of the buzz.  But it’s important to be able to see through the flurry of activity to the larger trend: 79% of Fortune 500 businesses are using social media everyday (according to the 2010 Burson Marsteller study).  There may be thousands of social networks of different kinds on the Internet, but there are really only so many places you are likely to find a significant portion of your customers, partner businesses and prospective clients. Most US based businesses need only address the following: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I also recommend that you produce a blog and share multi-media content on one other site regularly such as YouTube or Flickr.

Today’s Internet culture is unavoidable. Can you imagine a business forbidding their employees from even using the Internet to do their job?  It will soon be the same for social media sites, but today many businesses block Facebook, Twitter and other social sites at the firewall.  Clearly, businesses need to make a decision about how much their business will embrace the new social web and enact and enforce policies that both caution and encourage their employees to do the right thing appropriately.

Creating a culture that accepts the social web and having a management team that sets a strong example (think Zappos) is perhaps the best strategy, but it starts with great employees and an open culture.  If your business isn’t there yet, it’s important to start taking steps in that direction in a way that makes sense for your company. I think you’ll find if you trust your employees, you’ll be happy with their innovation and productivity. Employees are free to say what they want over email and in public already aren’t they!?  With a little training, you can trust them with social media channels as well.

Bootstrapping Startups For the Win February 5, 2010

Posted by Brian Link in bootstrapping, entrepreneurialism, Internet culture.
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Here in Columbus there have been a few Internet startups, and each entrepreneur if you asked them would tell you that getting started is the hardest part. Many people think they have a great idea, maybe even have written it down and dreamed of turning it into something big. But taking those first few steps of talking to other people, committing your own money, finding a team to help build it and figuring out how to tell the world about it is where you need great strategy (and some luck).

One strategy, if you’re lucky enough, is to borrow a million bucks from your rich uncle. You might also find an angel investor or venture capitalist and beat the one in a million odds and get funded before you have a product or revenue. The much more likely scenario and the smartest strategy is much more difficult, if you can pull it off. It’s called bootstrapping.

The term comes from a saying that started in the 1800s: “to pull yourself up by your bootstraps” which implies an impossible task. As a metaphor, it means to better oneself by one’s own unaided efforts. And today it often refers to starting a business that is self-sustaining and created with little or no external help.

Bootstrapping is hard. You need to stick your neck out; quit your job; have some money to spend; have a great network to lean on; and have a lot of confidence and guts. It’s certainly not for everyone. But for the brave who have a great idea, the reward can be huge. The best practices for bootstrapping can fill volumes of books, but here’s a quick summary of some ideas and strategies:

1. Equity. By bootstrapping, you can control your own stake and your partners’ equity percentages better. Equity is your most powerful tool to attract big talent. But be careful, there’s great need for balance here. Don’t dole out too much too soon and conversely don’t hesitate to share your equity for the right reasons. Many entrepreneurs fall into the stingy founder’s trap – they refuse to give up equity and because of that, they never get the help they need to launch the company.  In that scenario, they have 100% of a company that’s worth nothing.  Instead, offer equity to those who can dramatically move your business forward, but get advice about what percent makes sense at your current stage of growth. Equity, they say, is the most expensive compensation you can dole out (1% of your company when it becomes a $100MM company will be worth a million dollars!).

2. Partners. Choose your partners and co-founders wisely. They should complement your skills and pass both the beer and elevator tests. (Is this person someone you’d want to hang out and have beers with?  If you were stuck in an elevator with this person for 24 hours, would you murder them?) You’ll be spending more time with your co-founders than you might with your family, so best to have a great relationship and high level of trust and respect.

3. Business Plans. Don’t dwell so much on the format and length of your plan, but rather on the concepts of the business, the product or service and your competitive advantage. You should know exactly what your customer looks like, what alternatives they have, what the value is of what you’re offering and where you’re going to find those customers. And if you don’t have all those answers, get yourself some partners or team members who can. An executive summary of 1-2 pages is best. It should explain the big picture as concisely as possible. Don’t drag anyone through the details of your product until you’ve completely nailed it at a high level. Also prepare a Kawasaki 10/20/30 presentation and the two sentence and three paragraph versions. You’ll need those for marketing and email conversations to get people interested in having conversations with you.

4. Investors. You’re going to need investors at some point. Hopefully later instead of sooner. But as CEO of your company, your role is chief fundraiser, so start building great relationships. Find a trusted few to be part of your inner circle to give you honest and direct feedback. It’s never too early to plant seeds and start conversations. But be sure your message is polished enough before you request the face to face meeting. It’s not as hard as you think to get meetings with investors. But it’s very hard to build a compelling enough story to make them part with their money. Practice your pitch a dozen times on friends and friendly investors before you start talking to your big target investors. Also, do not assume that the big VC is your only option. Angel investors and chunks of 10-20K are extremely viable. It’s a lot easier to find a dozen people or more with 20K than it is to ask for large fractions of a million dollars from any investor.

At weBuild (http://webuildstartups.com), the Internet company accelerator where I’m a Principal, we are seeing more ideas and hearing about great things getting started in Columbus. One such idea came to us from an entrepreneur named Dave Cherry, previously of Limitedbrands. His idea was simple: help sporting teams and events sell more tickets. How? By offering deep discounts for seats that would normally go unsold. We brainstormed with his idea and helped Dave narrow his focus into something commercializable. TiXiT is now one of our portfolio companies and is launching today at http://www.tixitbox.com

I wish you the best of luck getting your own startup going. weBuild would like to hear about your best ideas. Submit them here at http://webuildstartups.com/apply.

On Being Efficient in the Startup Internet Culture September 22, 2009

Posted by Brian Link in entrepreneurialism, Internet culture, socialmedia.
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Coffee and a LaptopI’ve recently cut back the number of hours I’m working during an average day. Time with my family is very important to me. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve got a huge appetite for being involved with the high tech Internet startup culture. Being involved with startups often means you’re doing more than the average person in corporate America. That’s not meant to be a competitive statement – just a fact – startup entrepreneurs need to wear multiple hats. The CEO is often the product guy, the finance guy, the technical guy and HR rolled into one. It begs the question of how to keep up and stay efficient with all the context switching you need to do. This isn’t a new problem; it’s just exacerbated in the startup culture.

If you’re in San Francisco, you can witness said culture in any Royal Grounds, Peet’s or Starbucks from Fillmore to Sausalito to Palo Alto and everywhere inbetween. But here in Columbus, Ohio – I carry that culture with me everywhere I go. Sometimes like a badge of honor but usually like a cheerleader, trying to get the crowd here on their feet. (Somedays I feel like I’m begging them to participate, but that’s an entirely different blog post.) It’s too bad the Internet and social media aren’t closer related to OSU Buckeye football, I’d have a better chance of getting the crowd roaring here. But I digress.

My plate is extremely full: My fulltime job is the CEO of Toobla.com (which *will* be something I blog about soon because I seriously need to grow users fast). But I’m also a public speaker with thoughtLEADERS, LLC and a partner in weBuild, a web accelerator for mobile and Internet companies. I’m also on the board or an advisor or part-owner in 5 other companies: MobileXpeditions, Tixit, Innogage, 2CheckOut and eSoluTech.

I don’t recommend taking this much on. But if you do, or if you find some parallels between your life and mine, you might find the following tidbits of advice and tool recommendations helpful.

  • First of all, you need to pick your primary area of focus. For me, it’s my full time paying job: Toobla. When any conflicts come up, Toobla wins.
  • Next, and this may sound very idealistic, you need to know what your goals are. If you’re going to dabble, decide why. Maybe you just want to learn Ruby or Python and are going to tinker on weekends. Maybe you want some excitement to complement your cubicle job. Whatever it is, be aware of it and let your goals guide you. Without goals, you can meander and just end up with a clutter of things to do that aren’t helping you.
  • Make sure you work on your own personal brand in parallel with whatever you do. Social media is not a job, in spite of how many people are trying to be social media consultants out there. It’s so easy to learn and master, everyone should at least try it on their own. Read the blogs of the people on my Luminaries tab and try things out yourself. Be active to some degree daily on Twitter and Facebook and weekly on LinkedIn and you’ll make great progress very quickly and figure it out as you go.
  • Centralize your contacts if you haven’t already. One single repository. Whether it’s Outlook, Gmail or the Mac Address Book, do it. Add every new connection to your address book of choice. And sync them to some online source (I recommend Gmail) every week or two (if not real-time) so you can keep your online world synchronized with your desktop and/or email client. Gmail does a great job as the source for importing into Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn so you can be sure to establish connections there with people you’ve added recently to email.
  • Follow people on Twitter that you aspire to be like. Find them on WeFollow or look closely at the people you do know and see who they follow.
  • Use TweetDeck, Tweetie or Seesmic or some tool that helps you get comfortable with keeping up with your closest friends and business sources and influencers. I use TweetDeck because I like how it lets me create groups of friends; there’s only so many people I really want to read every tweet from. Everyone else is my virtual cocktail party: I pop in and out, learn something, bookmark something, comment on something, retweet something or just occupy time at stoplights browsing 🙂 Find a client you like for your main computer as well as your mobile – there’s a ton of great apps for iPhone and Blackberry.
  • Let me focus on Twitter a sec. If you do it right, it finds its way into your normal routine and doesn’t take over your day. If you concentrate and stay focused on what you’re doing, you’ll get good at finding 15 seconds every 15 minutes. Twitter is the filler for me – I visit my cocktail party every time I get a chance. Walking, driving (carefully), while getting ready in the morning, waiting in line somewhere, and probably 20-50 times throughout the day. But in such small chunks, I try hard to not let it be the distraction – but rather where I go when I am distracted.
  • In order to stay focused during 9 to 5 on Toobla, I schedule my other meetings outside that window, often meeting with startups once or twice a week at 7 or 8AM and sometimes over lunch. To make it easier to schedule meetings with multiple people from multiple companies, we use TimeBridge to find good timeslots. We used to meet on early morning weekends but that’s gotten more challenging to do. Maybe we will again once the weather gets nasty. And all my calendars are integrated and up to date with iCal on my Mac and wirelessly through MobileMe to my iPhone (Google Calendar works well to consolidate calendars too)
  • Google Apps.  Add instant enterprise email capabilities with Google Apps, on your own domain. Google Docs, Google Calendar and Google Analytics are critical to many of the businesses I’m involved with.  Amazing free stuff.  I have 4 gmail accounts consolidated by gmail into one mailbox on my iPhone and laptop.  Use IMAP wherever possible instead of POP so items are perfectly synched no matter whether you read them on your iPhone or laptop.
  • DropBox. Share files seamlessly with distributed groups. Auto-synchronizes your files in the background with whomever you’ve invited. Much better than clogging your inbox with lots of big files.
  • PBworks. Collaborate with disparate groups with a wiki. Everyone contributes, everyone wins. I’ve created more dozens of wiki’s for various projects and brainstorming efforts.
  • 37 Signals. Basecamp is a great tool for managing projects and tasks with people across company boundaries.
  • Things. On Mac, this is my favorite ‘Getting Things Done’ task manager. There are many GTD clients – find one and break up your task list by project, or by company and prioritize ruthlessly what’s absolutely critical. Now, if only I could keep up with all the little things…

One of these days I’ll finish my eBook on “Utilizing Best Practices in Social Media for Small Businesses”. If you’re interested, send me an email – it might encourage me to finish sooner 🙂

What do you do that helps you stay focused and productive while working on multiple projects or companies?

Brian