Stay Calm
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I write this post moments after an hour long massage. Though some get massages to relax, I get mine to temporarily “fix”, the damage I’ve done to my body over years of abusing it. After this massage, I will hopefully once again, be able to stand straight up, and without pain.

Upon entering the massage room, I wisely remembered to shut off my phone. The last thing I needed was to hear the phone vibrating on and off for an hour. I’ve never had much of an issue calming my body down. I trained myself to do it in high school and ever since I’ve been able to fall asleep in minutes, at almost any moment and any location. Staying relaxed, I found, was also crucial to my martial arts (a predominant cause to the aforementioned body damage). A relaxed body takes less punishment, expends less energy, and moves faster and with more agility.

Almost immediately following my massage I entered a Greek restaurant for some lunch and work prior to another appointment. I was tentative to enter because I was in such a peaceful and calm state. But, my stomach would not relent with its insistence that I get food and soon, and so I entered the restaurant. I noticed almost immediately that the music playing inside was virtually identical to the music playing during my massage, and yet, the place was anything but quiet and peaceful. It was instead, a bustling room as one might expect during a lunch rush. I attempted to stay calm, while I ordered, took my seat and, riskiest of all, checked my email.

After the flood of email came pouring in, all from only an hour offline, I managed to catch the sound of that calm music still playing amidst the chaos. It reminded me of the importance of staying calm in all situations. I would guess that most of us rarely get enough opportunities for a relaxing massage, a walk in the park, or whatever other calming activity may work best for us. We should do those more for sure, and I highly urge it for both introverts (we seek it naturally), but also to extroverts, who can often find themselves feeling edgy and uncomfortable in such stillness.

It is the calm mind that thinks clearer, faster and with more agility. It is the calm mind that can withstand the extreme forces and stresses we often find ourselves living within.

This was a lesson Bruce Lee, a hero of mine growing up, taught frequently. For example, he said:

Defeat is a state of mind; no one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.

Stay calm.

Never waste energy on worries or negative thoughts, all problems are brought into existence -drop them.

Stay calm.

I’m intense; crazy intense, but I do my best to be as calm as I can and try to hide the internal fire, so as not to scare the children. For whatever reason, everything I do falls into two categories: those I’m intensely passionate about, and those I’m not. There isn’t a lot of in between. I would bet that’s a common attribute of an entrepreneur. It has both pros and cons, but because of it, those of you who are like me, have to take special care to stay calm.

I analyze everything; overanalyze, and that by very definition, isn’t being calm. Thinking while someone else is talking to you? Not calm. Reading in between the lines? Not calm. Second guessing yourself? Also, not calm.

If you find yourself doing any of these, be aware that your mind is clouded and you are distracting yourself, and wasting time and energy. I’ve found that although my mind is capable of deep thinking, innovative problem solving, and seeing things that other’s don’t, it’s often the state of mind of being free from such thoughts (a true state of calmness) that results in the most brilliant discoveries and insights.

It is only through remaining calm that we can attain that laser-like focus, determination and perseverance needed to overcome the setbacks of life, both personal and within our startups.

What do you do to calm down and be alone with and without your thoughts? What could you do today, to bring calm to yourself and take a time out from the distractions and chaos of our high tech, whirling, beeping and buzzing society?

Company Culture Must Be a Fit for Employee and Employer

If you’ve been paying attention to the startup world over the last few years, you are very familiar with the emphasis on company culture. 37 Signals and Zappos might be two of the most famous companies for stressing the concept, but many of the successful startups have discussed the importance and purposefulness of it as well.

When you think about company culture, you might think about the way the office is designed, the clothes people wear to work, the benefits provided, and the company mission statement for dealing with customers and employees. But what you don’t often hear about are all the other pieces that come together to form the company culture.

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When calculating development costs, the hourly rate is only half the equation

As I transition from full time employment to being fully self-employed (starting in September), I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to talk with a number of potential clients from all industries, with all types of past experiences and varied budgets. In the last month alone, I’ve talked with over 20 different companies. During these talks I’ve learned one major thing that surprised me. I suppose because I’ve been working for individual companies for so long I didn’t realize there were so many misconceptions about developers, web development, and productivity out there in the business world.

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The Use, Application and Future of the Agile methodology
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I recently received this question about the Agile method of developing software and thought I’d share it and my answer.

Q. I am doing some research on agile methods, and wanted to know what you think about the use and application of agile methods? Will they continue to be used more in the next decade in internet software development? And what agile methods do you use?

A. Many startups have been using a more “agile” project management methodology without really knowing it. It’s the formalness of the “official” Agile and Scrum practices that are gaining in adoption now. As to if that official set of rules will stay around for a long time it’s impossible to predict, but judging from history, I think certain exact sets of guidelines come and go in popularity. The principles behind what is considered Agile however, I believe will last a long time. Many of us have seen the failure of planning out year long projects, holding daily hours long meetings to discuss statuses, and building 100 page analysis documents before anything is ever built.

Small, lean, flexible teams, working on shorter production cycles will always produce better software than rigid, bloated teams working on long drawn out project timelines. But most teams will do so without ever getting certified as a Scrum master or some official title for following some group’s rules as to how to manage a project. They do it because they observe the failures of the opposite through experience, particularly if they ever worked in a large corporation and had to follow the time wasting mess of project management that typically emanates from such places.

For me, following rules for how a project should go is not agile enough in itself. Guidelines are great, and I recommend understanding the Agile method so you can learn from it’s principles, but true agility comes from fitting the process to the specific team and project at hand. So I recommend never becoming allegiant to a certain methodology of project management, nor even to a certain development process. Use them as guidelines, but adapt them to your specifics and let them grow with you as you learn and experience more. Ensure the team shares in the understanding of why the agile process is better versus things like the water fall approach. Once they do, wether you stick to the Agile Manifesto or not will not be the significant deciding factor in the efficiency of your software development. It’s the underlying principles that matter, and those I believe will be with us for a long time.

39 Reasons I Love My Mac
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As I mentioned previously in, Everything Changes, I switched from PC to Mac about two months ago. I’m still just as excited about it every time I turn it on as the first day, so I’ve compiled a list of what I love about my Mac. By the way, I previously used linux as my sole computer for almost five years and Windows before that every year since it came out.

These are only in the order I thought of them…too hard to order them:

  1. Ability to use a PC keyboard seamlessly (maybe I’ll write later about why I prefer this, and I tried the Mac keyboard for a month before switching)
  2. Quicklook
  3. TextMate (have to save the wows on this for another post, too many to list – goodbye eclipse, netbeans, texteditor, notepad++, text wrangler, sql tool and wordpress blog gui)
  4. Adium (better than gaim, trillian, gtalk, etc)
  5. Auto mute when I take out my headset (just like I asked for last year)
  6. Mighty Mouse (best mouse I’ve ever used)
  7. Ability to use external monitors (love my Gateway FPD2275W, 22″ DVI-D with built-in 4 port USB 2 hub and PIP)
  8. Font rendering (improves the entire Internet browsing experience)
  9. Fluid (use this for bloglines, remember the milk, gmail)
  10. Unix underneath
  11. Running Windows on VMWare Fusion (when I unfortunately need to test something in Windows, but at least rebooting is not as painful and it seems more stable)
  12. Quicksilver
  13. Coverflow in Finder
  14. Finder’s 3 pane folder view (genius!)
  15. Dashboard
  16. Intel Dual Core
  17. Slick, streamlined case, and lightweight
  18. Cheap memory upgrade (through of course)
  19. Firefox never crashes! (well, maybe on occasion, but it crashed consistently before)
  20. Hardware just works, from bluetooth devices to external usbs and hard drives
  21. Wifi just works (don’t get me started on Linux and wifi)
  22. iMovie and ease of using digital video cameras…plugged it in and iMovie sucked all the video in, with thumbnail generations, and sorted all the clips by date!
  23. Auto recognition of other devices on the network (lets see how do I connect to that linux server, hmm never done this, oh wait, why is it listed in the finder already…it already found it!)
  24. iSight, easy video chatting and recording
  25. the dock (love Mac’s take on this)
  26. Expose!
  27. Using external monitor as the primary and laptop screen as secondary monitor
  28. Running everything all at the same time while watching full screen video (on the laptop screen), running mongrel/Rails, mysql, textmate, firefox, and no problems!
  29. FrontRow
  30. Controlling my Mac with Ruby (instead of ActionScript…but haven’t actually tried it yet)
  31. Easy VNC with Vine Server
  32. Super easy installs (ugh, goodbye linux install tools, and command line builds) and uninstalls
  33. Small well-designed power brick, with fold out plug (don’t even need the 2nd part of the typical plug and brick)
  34. Being able to test my web development on all the main browsers on my laptop: IE 5 – 7, Safari on win/mac, Firefox 2/3 on Win/mac (see Running Multiple Browsers for Testing)
  35. The remote control
  36. Long battery life, excellent battery conservation when unplugged
  37. AppFresh
  38. Force quit
  39. Overall feeling that everything is more intuitive, more stable, and better integrated


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