Category: work / life

My 2010 “How Good Grows” Update

How Good GrowsI was fortunate enough to be selected again this year to participate in the Yahoo! “How Good Grows” program. The program is a combination of the concepts of “pay it forward”, microphilanthropy and social networking – Yahoo! selects a pool of people, gives them $100, and asks them to go do something nice. This could range from buying a group of strangers coffee to purchasing ARV drugs for folks in sub saharan Africa. The use of the funds is up to the donor and ideally the use is impactful and inspiring.

My choice this year (with the help of my wife and daughter) was to donate the money to my daughter’s classroom at her charter school in Sonoma. Her teacher Rachel was inspired by the program and decided to let the kids in on the action. The class decided to donate  a portion of the funds to another first grade class at the school, and also to send some of the money to a charter school in the developing world. The kids are choosing the charter school in the developing world when they return from Christmas break.

Given the state of funding for education in California, the old adage of every little bit helps truly applies. My daughter’s teacher was truly appreciative of the funds, and she and the class were really inspired by the opportunity to “pay it forward” for another class at the school, as well as a school in the developing world.

To check out the other acts of kindness inspired through the How Good Grows, check out the site here:
http://kindness.yahoo.com/

A big thanks again to the folks at Yahoo! for the opportunity to participate, and for continuing to support this program.

Work 2.0: Why I (mostly) <3 working from home

Approximately one year ago, I left a large corporate environment (Autodesk) to work for a small company (Forum One), using my home office (the Garoffice) as my base of operations.

The following post by Alex Iskold, The “Work From Home” Generation, does a really great job of summarizing the pros and cons of the 20 foot commute.

From the post, the main points are:

Pros:

  • No Commute
  • Saving Money
  • Flexibility
  • Increased Productivity

Cons:

  • Brainstorming is difficult
  • You never leave work
  • Entropy is after you

Working from home has given me back at least 15 hours a week that I was burning commuting in to San Francisco from our home in Fairfax. That time translates into quality time with the family, and in particular, getting to spend at least a couple of hours every day with my 2 year old Daughter. I also feel much more productive than I did in an office environment, mostly because my work environment is genreally free from distraction, barring the occaisional family emergency.

For me, the main downside to working from home is the creeping sense of isolation. I plan several local and national community and social media conferences throughout the year, but in the weeks between the conferences, I can go for a week without meeting someone face to face in a work-related setting. I didn’t realize this would bug me, but it does. I guess I’m more social than I thought 🙂 The other thing I miss about the office environment is the spontaneous collaboration… somebody popping over the cube wall with a wireframe, or pulling me over to a whiteboard for a brainstorming session.

I’m activley looking for co-working space in Marin to use a couple of days a week. I still want to spend the majority of my work week at home, but after a year, I definitly feel the need to get out of the house part of the week.

I’m interested in hearing about other’s work from home experiences. Are the challenges Alex outlines above consistent with your experience? What did you do to alleviate the issues?

Update: Apparently there are a lot of “homeworkers”. I’m finging or being pointed to all kinds of great content. In particular:
Top 30 Tips for Staying Productive and Sane While Working From Home – Zen Habits

Miphone: love it, love it, love it

I have had my iphone since around lunch today, when FedEx dropped it off.

I have to say, I LOVE IT. I really haven’t even used it as a phone yet… I think I’ve made 2 calls all day. I seriously can’t stop picking it up. Ok, ok, I know I’m totally geeking out.

What do I love about it, out of the box?

  • email setup: I have my work and personal account humming along, and it took less than 5 minutes. It took me an hour to set up just my work account on my bberry
  • UX: this has been beaten to death, but the UX is just superb. It’s really a pleasure to use. The gesture control, like flicking and squeezing are totally natural
  • ID: it’s a beautiful object. It just looks so hot.
  • Media: photos, music and video… to me, these will likely be “nice to have’s”. Although, as I think about it, I watched about 30 minutes of you tube today. Haven’t done that in a while.
  • Online: Apple really nailed this. IT’s not as great as sitting at my desk with my 27″ monitor and 8 gbps downstream, but it is light years away from any WAP-based web experience.

That’s all for now. I’m going to continue to play.

I’m quoted in Inc.

I made this month’s Inc. Magazine, in the “Ask Inc.” section of the magazine.

It’s a small quote, but I got a nice plug for the Online Community Report blog. The question to Inc. was about how to increase activity in a company’s online community. The part of my answer that was quoted (more or less correctly) was to to strive to be your communities most active participant.

http://www.inc.com/magazine/20070501/ask-inc_pagen_2.html

Back from Seattle

Sharon and Mel joined me on my trip to Seattle this week.

Mel sleeping on the way home

I had really great meetings with folks from Microsoft, Sony Erricsson, and the LeFevers from CommonCraft.

Have I achieved a work / life balance nirvana yet? Not quite, but having Sharon and Mel on the trip was a blast, and I still got a ton of work done.