Archive for October, 2006
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned in passing that we’d decided to move to Toronto. There were a few reasons for this, but by far the largest was b5media. While the VCs were very happy about the idea, they didn’t really push for it. From a business perspective, there were a few big reasons to do this:
1. The size of the team in Toronto will only increase. We’ll never be a “big” team, but the growth is almost certain to happen in Toronto. 2. Travel. The truth is I travel too much right now. Much of it is to Toronto, which means less travel. But, much of the time it takes for me to travel is connecting back and forth to Toronto as well. For example, it takes me 16 hours to get to San Francisco. From Toronto, this would be a direct 5-6 hour flight (minus customs). 3. Networking. While we’re a virtual company, the reality is that content will always have value, and we do lots and lots of content. Networking and partnering a huge growth areas for us. 4. Permanency. There’s something about having a real business address. Both for customers and suppliers, but also for the team.
End of the day, it really comes down to creating a sort of nexus of energy, resources and skills that the rest of b5 is able to draw on, and that’s able to represent b5 to the local and national community here in Canada.
Ultimately, lots of great business reasons to move. But, a great business reason isn’t exactly enough to convince my gorgeous wife ;-) So, yes, lots of good personal reasons as well. Closer to family, closer to friends, closer to potential longer-term baby sitters (so we could take our first-ever vacation), an IKEA nearby, etc.
But, this is an incredibly sad move for us. The community, people, nature, church and weather here in St. Stephen have become home over the last year and a half. I’ll be honest, we’ve moved a lot in our lives. I’ve moved more than 30 times personally. I don’t normally get all that attached to places. But St. Stephen has become, for the first time in more than 5 years, a home for us. Which makes this move incredibly hard. The goodbyes, the tears, the “last” everything… It’s incredibly hard.
I’ll have a post later this week trying to properly come to terms with the leaving. Not sure what words I’ll find, but yeah, to not try and find them would be a disservice to all of our great friends here :(
In terms of the move, the schedule looks something like this right now:
Nov 2: Movers come and pack everything up Nov 3: Movers take all stuff and our car away Nov 5-8: I’m in NYC at ad:tech Nov 9-11: Staying in a hotel here in town Nov 12: Last day at church (maybe I can play drums, Dan?), flight to Toronto (our first as a family, Evan’s flipping out, jumping around, running into walls excited that he finally gets to go on a plane with Daddy, hehe) Nov 15: Move into new house
And, Nov 12-24 or so is a series of on-site meetings with the b5 management, ops teams, VCs, etc.
I did an interesting presentation this morning. I went into it knowing it would be interesting, though, and it ended up largely as expected.
The overall topics was on the value of communities. I opened it with some thoughts on the types of mistakes companies who don’t use communities at all make. These were characterized as “3 Ways to Kill Your Business”, which I broke down as the following, and with the following examples:
1. Death by Deafness (Google) 2. Death by Ignorance (Dell) 3. Death by Stupidity (Apple)
Now while some might think this was the conference equivalent of linkbaiting (okay, it kind of was), there were 2 things going on, really. First, as any regular reader will know, I often blog half-baked ideas and improve on them through conversation. Instead of doing it in a blog post, though, I did it on stage and with audience participation. Second, I really just wanted to fuel some convesation.
Now, considering Mike Arrington was also on the panel and he fundamentally disagreed with me (which is fine, it’s an honor to be disagreed with live on stage by Mike), it probably came across as me kind of waffling. The truth is that this is really a large evolving thought for me.
My second session of the day was much more crystalized. This session was really just the second half of my original talk (we never got past the “how companies who don’t use communities suck” portion of the presentation). The second half was really about explaining the perception shift required to build proper communities, and the 10 things I believe are critical for doing so.
These were, in no particular order:
1. Align it with business goals 2. Plan for success 3. Plan for failure 4. Innovate 5. Respond to questions / comments / criticisms 6. Leave money on the table 7. Ask questions 8. There is no spoon 9. Assign resources 10. Fail weekly
Really, these are my “rules for business”, if I had rules. And they ultimately boil down to: respect and value your customers, take risks that you believe in, and think stuff out.
I know I didn’t come across clearly in the morning session, which is fine. Mike might think I’m a moronic jerk who likes to pick on Apple and Google (okay, I do).
But the point is that there is a massive opportunity out there for companies who are able to shift their perception and value users, create effective feedback mechanisms and take risks. I know it didn’t come across well in the first session, but my beef is really with companies that ignore customers, don’t think creatively, don’t plan effectively, refuse to innovate and won’t take risks.
The session was fun, though. 24 hours of travel, 3 hours of sleep, a new talk, a half-formed idea… It could have gone a lot worse ;-) Note to self, though, if you don’t want the whole audience thinking you’re a jerk, only “link bait” when you’ve got notes ;-)
We put in an offer on a house (lease) this weekend. Just got news that we got it! Official move-in date is Nov 15, though it’s likely we won’t really move until like the 24th or something :-D
I was in Romania once this year and absolutely freaking loved it. It was hard in a lot of ways, but absolutely amazing in even more.
I’m heading back now (en route as we speak), speaking at a massive business conference. Can’t wait to see everyone again :-D
Just a note that Ensight has moved to b5′s servers. Only glitch seems to be that I forgot to move the .htaccess file, so things like post pages and such won’t work until tonight.
As a side note, we put in an offer (lease) on a house yesterday in Toronto. Fingers crossed it goes through :)