Archives for August 2012

An Accurate Depiction of Minnesota (map)

I saw this map on Facebook the other day and I couldn’t help but saving it to my hard drive for a future blog post. The map is hilariously accurate in its ability to stereotype the  state of Minnesota by regions.

I especially love the descriptions for the other states. South Dakota? “Mt. Rushmore or Something”

Iowa? “Corn and Idiots”

Canada? “Hockey and Santa Clause”

For those of you who grew up in Minnesota, there is surely a lot of head nodding in agreement.

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to visit much, it sure looks appealing doesn’t it?

Well, just know that the ghetto isn’t really that ghetto, the rich aren’t really that rich (except on lake Minnetonka), but the bad drivers really are bad drivers.

Print this out if you ever come to visit. Laughter is a valid currency in MN.

On Being CIO

I am about to leave for a photo and video shoot that be used alongside a story about an award I am receiving – the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal’s CIO of the year.

CIO stands for Chief Information Officer, and is often synonymous with the title CTO (Chief Technology Officer). While the explanation can be nuanced, I would say it can be generalized as the person in an organization responsible for making the technology choices needed to empower an organization to get work done more efficiently, effectively and accurately. This includes both computer hardware and software purchases, internal technology development and championing positive change in an organization.

While my title has never indicated that I am a CIO by any means, I have taken on many of the qualities of this role throughout my career. I stay on top of technology developments, I’m not afraid to evaluate new technologies, and I can easily summarize the positives and negatives of a technology in a matter of minutes.

In addition, by being a web developer for over 10 years, I especially understand how the underlying technology of the web works, as well as the database structure that powers most of our lives. The ability to understand how data is stored, accessed, and can be utilized to make decisions is a key part to the success of a chief information officer.

Preparing to be on camera talking about this role can be a little difficult, because this is an all encompassing role and there’s really no right or wrong answer. My only worry is that I get the definition wrong compared to my peers.

Then again, how can you be wrong when they already gave you the award?

Here are the questions and my answers as of now:

What is a CIO?

A CIO is the person in an organization responsible for making the technology choices needed to empower an organization to get work done more efficiently, effectively and accurately. This includes both computer hardware and software purchases, internal technology development and championing positive change in an organization.

What makes a good CIO?

A good CIO starts with being curious. They will want to know how everything works, have a strong understanding of technology and how to best apply it to organizations. They spend money wisely, balancing current needs with future investments. They don’t bring change to an organization too soon, but they should never be too late either.  They should know what they don’t know and confide in others to round out their knowledge.

What do you do for fun outside of work?

I like to travel – I have been to 6 continents and only have Antarctica left. I enjoy photography, especially using photos to document my world travels. I love to cook with my wife, and we make cuisine from all over the world, all from scratch. In addition, I have built several websites for hobbies, expanding my knowledge in several industries that expand beyond the marketing and technology world.

Wish me luck! Although, by the time you read this, my ugly mug will be forever emblazoned on a giant memory card in the sky.

Photo Opp: Washington DC Cherry Blossoms in Monochrome

Monochrome

The blooming of the Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC is a big draw each year to our nations capital. It’s the sign of spring, with pink blossoms decorating much of the city, especially the Tidal Basin where many of the trees are aligned.

The trees were a gift to the US from Japan, and they have proven to be the gift that keeps on giving.

I was fortunate to have been there at peak bloom in 2012, and took many pictures of the event. However, I’m not sharing them all today. Today I’m sharing the one picture I have that completely strips out the color and lends focus simply to the scene. It was beautiful.

Surely in a future photo opp we will examine more cherry blossom photos, that time in technicolor.

 

Being an Entrepreneur – How You See It, How I Live It

I stumbled across this image a while back and I decided that it was an extremely accurate depiction of life as an entrepreneur. Well, at least most of it.

I think that there is potentially a perception among friends who don’t see me every day that what I do is easy, filled with travel and leisure, and I understand why. That is the image I project on my blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Heck, I’m going to Mauritius in a month pretty much for free.

What they don’t see is the time spent in between these trips, where I am sitting in front of a computer for 12-14 hours a day trying to make all of this look easy. The truth is that it’s not very easy to own a business, but it’s also something I couldn’t imagine doing without.

These two I’m not sure about. I don’t really understand how Gordon Gecko (an investor character from the movie Wall Street) has to do with the image investors paint of entrepreneurs.

Also, I’m pretty sure that my mom doesn’t really know who Mark Zuckerberg is. She is just proud of me and happy that I’m not in jail ;).

These last two are frighteningly accurate. While I like to think that I am changing the world, inventing something, and solving problems, it can’t be that way without customers.

I can plan on having the greatest product, the prettiest looking website or the most coveted service in the world, and it really doesn’t matter if the phone doesn’t ring.

The phone ringing (actually, it’s really inbound emails), is what makes a business work. Without users, your company is useless. Without a revenue stream, everything is academic.

This is the thing that most people don’t realize. When you are in the center of a business, trying to make it grow, you are desperately waiting for people to find your product and make good use of it. This was true for Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple before they hit it big.

Until you can have a steady stream of people in the door, none of the rest matters. Sure, the lifestyle looks amazing when you see planes and pictures, but for the most part that is just an escape from the stresses of trying to make things work 70+ hours a week.

Then again, you may always see entrepreneurship as a glamorous lifestyle until you live it yourself.

 

Photo Opp: Red Bull Crashed Ice in St. Paul

Sometimes the craziest things are in your own back yard.

Last January there was a buzz around St. Paul for about 2 weeks. It’s exactly what the city needed, because January in St. Paul is a miserable place.

So what would it take to have tens of thousands of people converge on an innocuous hill in St. Paul during 0 degree temperatures?

How about a lit up Cathedral with an iced staircase and grown men dressed in hockey gear skating down a massive ice luge?

Yes, that’s exactly what happened when the Red Bull Crashed Ice tour invaded St. Paul in January of 2012.

I happened to walk over to the festivities after work one Friday to check out preliminary action. After about 15 bone chilling moments I had my excitement, and even snapped a few photos along the way.

Presentation Block or Writing a Business Plan

You’ve surely heard of writers block, but that isn’t my problem right now. The words have been flying out of my fingers for the past week, and I show no signs of slowing down.

Right now I am having a different kind of block that is causing me to feel guilt, and that is what I am going to call Presentation Block.

Technically, it’s really business plan block, but that is too many syllables to continually write. As some of you know, Three Deep has launched a product called Crossfuse, and I am leading the team to develop this product and set us up for the future.

After good press from Tech.MN announcing that we have secured $750k in funding for the project, and a fantastic writeup by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, we have started to see momentum around Crossfuse.

In fact, we have seen enough momentum and we know that our target market is so strong, that we are looking into receiving additional funding to develop out Crossfuse FASTER. You see, up until recently, Crossfuse was a “bootstrapped” project, meaning that we used our own money and client payments to fund development. While this is a great way to get started, it also provides its own limitations – and that is you can only provide resources to the project that generate revenue immediately – so you are never getting ahead of the curve when it comes to development.

Here’s where presentation block comes in. In order to secure funding to the magnitude we need, we must first come up with a business plan and a “pitch” deck to get investors interested. For me, this should be easy, because I have had this business plan in my head for the past 5 years. I know that it can be done, and I know that the market needing Crossfuse is HUGE (about half of the Fortune 500 could use our platform for immediate impact). I am just having trouble putting it into writing.

This is supposed to be the easiest deck I’ve ever done

I know why I am having the problem, too. I’ve known it all along, but I don’t have a clear solution. I figure maybe writing about them will solve the problem?

  1. I’m afraid of being wrong. I have never written a business plan and I fear that what I write will be utterly preposterous to investors. What if people laugh at the stupid idea? What if it’s not a good idea at all?
  2. I’m afraid of the change. What if we do succeed? What does that mean for the company? What does it mean for me?

When I write it down it sounds stupid. There is no way that this is wrong – Crossfuse is something corporate marketers have lusted after for the past 20 years (they just haven’t seen it in a completed package yet). In addition, I have never been afraid of change before, and have structured my personal life and career to embrace change in every scenario. I love change, so why worry here?

Maybe this is all I need to finally get over the hump. If that’s truly all that was getting in the way, then there is nothing to fear.

I am going to try not let perfect get in the way of “good enough” on this deck, and submit a rough draft this week.

In the meantime, I am going to use the pitch deck from Mint.com as my inspiration moving forward. These guys clearly had their shit together!

Writing Roundup – July 30 – August 3rd

After pledging to get back in the writing game on Monday, I stuck to the plan and wrote several pieces of content this week. Here are the published articles, website pages and blog posts contributed!

On Jeffsauer.com

On Threedeepmarketing.com

On Crossfuse.com

Guest post on Aimclearblog.com (if you read one article I wrote this week, this should be the one):

Photo Opp: McCovey Cove

McCovey cove is a sight from the lovely backside of AT&T Park in San Francisco. For those of you who have had the opportunity to see a game at this Ballpark, you know that it’s regarded as one of the best parks in baseball.

This was my second time visiting the park in October of 2010, when the Giants took on the Phillies in the NLCS on their way to a championship. With standing room only tickets, we had no seat to watch the game, and not many opportunities to view the action. As a result, we spent quite a bit of time look at all of the action in McCovey cove.

You may recall seeing all of the kayaks lined up in the water on TV when Barry Bonds was setting the single season steroid fueled home run record. It’s a sight to be seen!

If you are ever in San Francisco on a summer day, be sure to check out a game at AT&T Park. Baseball fan or not, you will enjoy it.