African Proverb about Life

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better start running.

Accept every offer!

A while back Garr Reynolds posted an article about the “Tips for creative success from Pixar“.

An interesting quote from this article is the following statement :

Accept every offer. Don’t judge it, you’ll stop it. It becomes a dead end if you judge it, but unlimited possibilities if you go with it.

To be honest, when being a junior engineer, you accept a lot more tasks without judging it. It’s a zen saying that one must approach things with the child’s mind. So approach it without judgement. Creativity & openness is something we have to maintain, as it’s something we loss over the year due to our prejudices & the context we’re accustomed too.

The teachings of Budo in Business

Source of inspiration : Wisdom from the principles of Budō: Lessons for work & life


The article from Garr states that the teachings of Budo are based upon the following pillars :

  • The Three Prohibitions
    • (1) To give up
    • (2) To misbehave
    • (3) To be clumsy
  • The Three Joys
    • (1) Vicissitude (change)
    • (2) Honesty
    • (3) Skillfulness
  • The Three Evils
    • (1) Fear
    • (2) Doubt
    • (3) Confusion

When going through this list, one can see that these points are also valuable for any business.

The truth about “To”, “CC” & “BCC”

The Origins
800px-karbonkopia_2008Carbon copying is the technique of using carbon paper to produce one or more copies simultaneously during the creation of paper documents. A sheet of carbon paper is sandwiched between two sheets of paper and the pressure applied by the writing implement to the top sheet causes pigment from the carbon paper to make a similar mark on the copy. More than one copy can be made by stacking several sheets with carbon paper between each pair. Four or five copies is a practical limit. The top sheet is the original and each of the additional sheets is called a carbon copy. The use of carbon copies declined with the advent of photocopying and electronic document creation and distribution (word processing).
(source “Wikipedia”)

The Rules
It is still common for a business letter to include, at the end, a list of names preceded by the abbreviation “cc:”, indicating that the named persons are to receive a copy of the letter, even though carbon paper is no longer used to make the copies. The contacts that are listed as adressed “to” are required to read the mail and take further actions (if needed), where those listed in “cc” are only assumed to read the mail (when the time allows it). The aspect of the “blind carbon copy” (bcc) adds an extra perspective where one could be informed without any of the other contacts to even know!

Practically Spoken : Privacy
Need to mail a bunch of people? Add yourself in the “to” list and -all- the other contacts as “bcc”. This way you avoid to violate other people’s privacy by exposing their private email accounts!

Freelancing during the lesser times

Freelancefolder.com features “8 Ways Freelancers Can Survive In A Troubled Economy” ;

  • Be a Bargain Hunter. Whether you’re buying routine office supplies or making a capital purchase, make sure that you get the most value for your dollar. Check sales flyers and compare costs to maximize your purchasing power. You can also look into barter arrangements to reduce your costs.
  • Don’t Spend Everything That You Make. I give this advice during good economic times as well. The advice to save some of your earnings is doubly important in an uncertain economy. Whenever you are paid make sure that you set some income aside for times when your business is slow.
  • Moonlight on Your Freelancing. You may have started your freelancing business by working a corporate job and moonlighting as a freelancer. There’s no reason why you can’t turn the tables and moonlight on your freelance business now. Consider taking a part-time job to bolster your monthly income.
  • Ask Past Corporate Employers for Gigs. Many employers have hiring freezes, but their workload remains the same. While they may not be able to hire a new employee, often they are allowed to hire temporary help to meet a deadline. (I’m told that the money for contractors comes out of a different “bucket.”)
  • Consider the Do-It-Yourself Question. Are you paying others to do tasks for you that you could actually do yourself? If your cash flow is slow, then you may want to consider whether it’s more cost efficient to continue outsourcing as you have been doing, or to start doing the tasks yourself.
  • Make Sure To Consider Your Tax Liability. Even if the economy is slow, it is likely that you will still owe taxes at the end of your tax year. To avoid being saddled with a tax burden that you can’t pay, start setting money aside for taxes now. If you paid estimated taxes during the course of the year, then ask yourself if you paid enough.
  • Broaden the Scope of Your Business. If your workload has slowed, then ask yourself if there are other products or services that you could add to your current offerings. Do you have a skill that you are not using? Broadening your scope could bring additional business from current customers as well as attract new ones.
  • Be Patient. Difficult economic times come and they go. It may be a matter of weeks, months, or even years, but this tough economic period will also pass.

The Bookclub

Next up some small reviews on some books I’ve read recently… Have fun!

Small is the new Big!

A book full of rants and ideas by Seth Godin. It had some good moments but I wouldn’t recommend it if you only had a few Euros to spare… 😉

Competitive Strategy

A lot of things where one would think that they are common sense. Yet I learned two wise lessons from this book. A company has to focus on building it’s brand, being low-cost or going for a certain niche. If you remain in the middle of those three areas, then it’ll lose in the long run. The second lesson is kinda basic; instead of growing, first think of losing the customers where you only have an uninteresting profit margin.

The Halo Effect

A good book for everyone who is reading a lot of management books! It puts popular management books (like for example “good to great”) in perspective by showing that statistics are affected by the “Halo Effect“.

12: Elements of Great Managing

Very good book! Yet another book where you’d think that it’s common knowledge, but all 12 rules are illustrated by “real life” examples. A very good read for every manager!

Good to Great

Probably one of the most known management books where researchers try to identify the reasons why companies make the leap from good to great. Put aside the comments made by the halo effect and you will find some good lessons in there. Just know that there isn’t a holy grail to management!

Presentation Zen

A MUST READ for everyone who gives presentations! Also check out slideshare or “death by presentation“.

The adventures of Johnny Bunko

I bought this book after reading Garr Reynolds his post about it and I found it amusing. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re a manga fan. The slideshare presentation made by Garr gives you all the insight you need… 😉

LogiTouch

About a month ago I started my own webdesign agency. So after almost 2 years of kvaes.be I’ve took the step towards entrepreneurship!

We focus on the “local” market, providing quality websites at an affordable price. It’s not “yet another high priced” bureau… The OpenSource world provides the means which enables us to provide a very interesting price.

Our Two Week Cycladic Dream

I’m back after two weeks of Island Hopping in the Greek cyclades. We first arrived at Mykonos where we were greeted by very unfriendly prices (read: 6€ for a beer, 14€ for a very simple spaghetti, etc). Yet the island hasn’t goet much to offer, despite that they out themselves as an exclusive Island. They have some big party beaches that can be compared to Ibiza, but that doesn’t justify the negative price/quality ratio. The second island was Paros; a very small & nice island. We toured the whole Island in one day with a scooter! Next up was Naxos… seemly bigger than Paros (about 3 to 4 times). Cruising this island with a scooter proved to be harder due to the hills. Yet it was worthwhile as the island has a lot of nice panorama’s and several different vegetations. We closed our tour with Santorini. It’s essentially what remains of an enormous volcanic explosion, destroying the earliest settlements on what was formerly a single island, and leading to the creation of the current geological caldera. This provides some spectacular physical beauty.

In short

  • Island hopping in Greece is great!
  • Rent a scooter on each island to discover it at your own pace.
  • Do a little research upfront on the island (to know which things to check out or avoid?) 😉