BrianBurridge.com Gets a Face Lift
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Original BrianBurridge.comI first published this web site five years ago. It’s gone through a few changes but for the most part it has kept the first look I designed in 2005. The old design served me well, and I’ve enjoyed writing for the blog, but it was time give the site a redesign. I hired my new friend and partner at PeepNote.com, Josh Hemsley from the Visual Click to redesign it. He was patient with my ever changing and often difficult to please creative direction, and the result is one I’m extremely pleased with. Everything Josh designs comes out looking beautiful and he did a great job helping me meet my objectives.

I plan to write a lot more in the coming year and I would be very grateful for your feedback, opinions and encouragement when I do so. Thanks to all my readers, both the silent ones and the ones who have left comments in the past.

Giving Thanks in 2009
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Last year I wrote about my 13 Technologies to be thankful for, but this year, I’m opening it up and listing everything that I am so thankful for (in no particular order).

  • iPhone
  • cigars
  • Twitter
  • Ruby on Rails
  • my MacBook Pro
  • Iced Venti Unsweet Black Tea
  • traveling
  • my new RV and SUV
  • awesome web site design
  • Florida Gator football
  • Taurus 24/7 Pro Compact SS
  • friends (new and old)
  • LessConf
  • family
  • Coke Zero
  • capitalism and the free market
  • 2009 Movies: Taken, District 9
  • 2009 TV: Dark Blue, Smallville, Fringe, Lie to Me
  • waking up to this for a few days
  • Borders and Barnes & Noble
  • Restaurants: Zaxby’s, Boston’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Varsity Club, Chipolte
  • Music: Firefly, Paramore, Breaking Benjamin, Red
  • Mentors: Jason Fried, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferriss, Eric Farewell, Seth Godin
  • Opportunities: Peepnote and WOMbeat

I hope you have a fabulous Thanksgiving and kick of the holiday trilogy in a big way. Now, what are YOU thankful for?

If you build it…why would they come?
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Surprisingly, the if you build it, they will come mentality still seems to be the practice of too many web site startups. Even those that say they know better, still practice the myth anyway, perhaps for lack of anything else to do. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, since I also see this practiced regularly in brick and mortar businesses. Family restaurants open, life savings are spent, homes are double mortgaged, and in three months, the restaurant closes. I often wonder why anyone would start a restaurant if they couldn’t afford to run if for at least 6 months without any expectations of income during that time. Yet so many close before there should even have been expectations to grow.

The list of overnight successes must statistically be near zero in comparison to those businesses that built what they have over a period of time, in a dedicated and determined fashion. So let me for a minute, properly reword the if you build it they will come mantra, as this:

If you build it, and
get people to try it, and
listen to their impressions of the site, and
make adjustments accordingly, and
get them to try again, and
listen again, and
adjust again…

Continue that process, while inviting more people to try it, slowly extending your reach, building a firm foundation of dedicated users who have clearly experienced your commitment to listening to them, and responding accordingly. Your product will be what they want, they will feel like part of it, and in turn, being the humans they are, they will tell others. Ask them to tell others; reward them for telling others. After that? Start at the top again…and repeat.

One more tip, don’t waste your time judging your success by your Google Analytics report. Web stats show views and nothing more. You’ll need to talk to users to really get a feel for the impression you are making on them. Stats can certainly help you see what recent marketing campaign worked, and some other helpful info, but at first, watching your site stats simply reinforces the false myth that you should expect overnight growth. If you are engaging your customers, and really paying attention, you’ll know if you are headed in the right direction, even if your site stats don’t see it yet.

Things I Hate NOT Doing
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I recently read Derek Sivers’ post, What do you hate not doing?, and it happened to be posted right before my birthday, when I traditionally take time out to review my year’s goals and progress, and set new goals for the coming year. A lot of changes in direction have occurred at this annual meeting with myself. I review last year’s personal journal entry, and compare it to the progress I made, then grade myself, record lessons learned, and write my goals for the coming year.

So Sivers’ post was timely and I liked his idea of focusing on what you hate NOT doing, as a way to highlight your passions, so I decided to write my version of, What do you hate not doing? to help me focus on Beginning with the End in Mind for the year ahead.

What do I hate NOT doing?

I hate NOT reading
I agree with Dave Ramsey, when he said: “You’ll be the same person in 10 years except for the people you meet and the books you read“. I don’t think learning ends with reading, but it’s a great place to start. You still have to try and experience things, but, you can save a whole lot of time in your trials, by learning from others, and reading is a great way to do that. You can expand your knowledge and your imagination, and I also find it stirs my creative juices and gets them flowing. Often times, I can’t even finish a chapter in a book without stopping to brainstorm.

I read a lot online all day long, but there is something about reading a book that is much more fulfilling. A book can develop ideas in much more depth than a blog post on the Internet. I pledge to devote more time in my schedule to tackle more books.

I hate NOT working to improve and implement a web site idea
Creating web sites is my biggest passion. I love the Internet and all the possibilities this technology opens up to make our lives easier and more productive, and like reading, it can expand our minds and our knowledge, and, unlike reading, allow us to meet new people and learn from them interactively.

I love the entire process of building an interactive web site, from concept to design and implementation, delivering the product and launching it for the entertainment, educational, or productivity value it provides to the target audience. I plan in the year ahead to continue launching new sites and expanding and improving the sites I’m involved with.

I hate NOT spending time with my family
Of all the things that bring me joy, little can compare to spending time with my kids. I love to watch them have fun, to watch them learn and grow, and experience new things. It’s a joy to mentor them, by sharing my experiences, allowing them to try and fail, and being there to cheer them on regardless of the result of their efforts. Books will come and go, web sites will be launched and taken offline, but continuing the family line and passing on family values to the next generation is truly the best way to leave a legacy.

I hate NOT keeping in good physical shape
This is the area I’ve been weakest in lately, due to both lack of time and past knee injuries. But when a schedule is as packed as mine is, besides passion, the next best source of energy is being in shape. For 11 years, I worked out regularly training in the martial arts, and simply have not found a replacement that motivates me to keep in shape as much as that did. I plan to do a better job with this in my 39th year ahead.

I hate NOT traveling
The contiguous United States alone is over 3 million square miles. Add in Alaska and it grows to almost 4 million square miles. North America is 9.5 million square miles. That’s a lot to see without even having to fly very far. In fact all of that can be seen via road travel. Certainly there is far more to see outside of the U.S. and North America, and this is why I love to travel. Every state and city in the U.S. I go to presents me with a new way of life. It’s amazing how different societies can be from city to city, even within the same country. I love to see the architecture, sample the foods, see the topography, and experience the culture of each new place. It’s also a great way to learn history, and teach it to your kids at the same time. My long term goal is to have an RV and spend a good portion of each year living out of it, particularly during the hot and humid summer months of Florida.

My perfect day
In summary, my perfect day would involve waking up in some new part of the country, preferably somewhere stunningly beautiful, exercising in the morning, enjoying a breakfast with a view of the beauty, while reading one of those books I really want to get to. Then sitting down to work on one of the web sites that really excite me, with a team of equally passionate and skilled individuals, producing useable, helpful, and aesthetically pleasing sites for its users. Then after a 6 hour or so day of that, stopping to enjoy our current location with the family. Teaching the kids about the history of the area we are currently in, and meeting the locals and finding out how they live. Retiring for the evening to watch some good television or a movie, read more, smoke a cigar, and enjoy a great meal with family and friends, both new and old.

So that’s what I hate NOT doing. How about you?


Need Your Help Voting for PeepNote
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As I mentioned on previous blog posts, I competed in Rails Rumble last weekend, a 48 hour competition to create the best web site possible in that time. Read more about it here.

We made the top 22 finalist list and are doing well during public voting, but I need your help.

Would you please try out the site, and vote for us here?

In order to win, we need more 5 and 4 star ratings to raise our average. I think the site is very useful for people who have a hard time keeping track of important information about the people they follow on Twitter.

Thanks and while you are trying it, could you use the ‘Tweet This’ link on the left of the screen (once logged in) to tell your followers about it?

And once again, here is the video about PeepNote if you haven’t seen it yet.

Update: PeepNote finished in 8th place. Thank you for all your votes. PeepNote will live on past the Rumble and grow to become even better, so watch the PeepNote blog for more announcements.

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