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I won NaNoWriMo 2016

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_winnerIt only took ten years, but I finally won NaNoWriMo.

If you’re not familiar it’s National Novel Writing Month. The goal is start Nov. 1, and by the end of Nov. 30 have 50,000 words written.

Every year for the last ten years I’ve at least done something. Some years it’s been open the site, be too busy to dedicate myself to writing, and close the site. Some years I’ve started writing, either something new, or picked up something I’d started randomly in the year. I’d get various amounts of words in, miss a day, then two, then four then I’d see that I was so far behind the average per day needed to win, I’d give up. Ten Years.

This year, my friend Tom and I both decided we’d do it again, both agreed to give it our all. I was especially motivated because a few months before Tom had shared a manuscript he wrote some 15 odd years before, and after reading it, I was more energized to create my own.

capture-2016-12-01-at-12-33-32-pmI don’t know what was different this year, other than being a bit lighter than usual on “stuff to do” work wise. But I was able to start strong, and even when I fell behind a few times, it was never so much so that it became impossible.

I actually thought I’d crush it over thanksgiving, but did the exact opposite, then when I was in the final week, the little author dashboard on the NaNoWriMo site was like at this pace you’ll finish on Dec. 2. “SO CLOSE” So I made time, and pushed through. I crossed the “finish” line around noonish on the last day.

I think one factor of the win was that I finally found an app I enjoyed using to write. I’ve tried most every app out there aimed at authors, and haven’t loved any. Some of come close, some haven’t, some have simply gone away. Scrivener, is here to stay, the iPad app is great for when I wanted to try to add a few more words but didn’t have my laptop, the Mac app is fairly intuitive to use.

Until the last week, I wasn’t sure I’d finish on time or finish at all. I have to say I’m pretty darned pleased with myself. My plan is to let it sit a week or two, then go back over the story with an eye for cleaning things up. Then anyone who’s interested may read it (warning it’s Sci Fi). Then Maybe I’ll toss it up on Amazon. Who knows.

Any how, wanted to share, because like I said, I’m pretty pleased with myself.

Denver Startup Culture

tl; dr;

Is Broken, but fixable.

the long form:

I got into a Facebook fight with a CEO the other day. He was mad i said a blog post on his site was click bait (which it was, but the popular term is content marketing). I was mad because it doled out praise for “making Denver Startup Week happen” to a group of people that certainly did participate in the week, but only 1 was a member of our actual team that drives the event, AKA “Making it happen”. As a member of the team that makes it happen i was a bit insulted. Not that i was not included, but that my work was being ascribed to others. Coincidentally in an effort to quantify my time, I track it (not 100% well, yet), this year i spent approximately 160 hours on Denver Startup week. Had I billed for that time it’d be over $10,000. That’s not a small investment on my part, it’s larger than several sponsorship levels in fact. I don’t say that as a “I do more than you” just as a statement of what i  do, and it’s relative value.

The next day (i kid you not) i see a blog post by builtin Colorado that says there’s no coworking in LoDo. When in fact I helped launch Uncubed, which started in RiNo but has been in LoDo (15th and Blake) for mmm 3 years now, and has existed longer than built in Colorado. Several other places were mentioned as “nearby options”, all are commonly written about in Builtin and/or Tech crunch because they raise money (which to be clear is totally fine).

That’s the crux of what I think is broken in our community. A focus on money raised. On exits. Not on who’s building and running businesses. 

I think raising money is fine, I think selling your company for tons of money is fine, i think talking about those things is fine. They’re obviously economic drivers, they creates jobs, etc. They’re sexy and attract attention.

But.

We’re making our focus around the “Denver startup community” solely about who’s raised how much, how much did the company sell for. We talk about how much VC money flooded Denver in a given time period, but we’re ignoring those companies that form, and continue to exist that don’t take VC money. Uncubed Started with no money from anyone but the three founders. 360|Conferences, started with nothing at all. Last year we had revenue of about $250,000.

We’re not talking about companies that have been around years, are profitable, are doing things. Sure they’re less ‘sexy’ and often (but not always) employee fewer people, but they’re contributing to the Denver community just as much (and I feel more) as the latest well funded Tech Crunch darling, that may or may not even exist next year.

So, all that said, I think that’s now the goal for my blogging efforts. I don’t know if that will be here on my blog or if I’ll spin up something new. I’d like to get a few folks to help me cover things. There’s more to the story of Denver’s amazing startup scene than is being talked about, and I think it’s time we fixed that.

Want to know more, stay tuned. Want to help, let me know.

10 Years

September 24th, 2005. I got hitched. To the most amazing person I’ve ever met.

10 years later, she’s still amazing, still my best friend, still the person i want to see when i go to sleep and when i wake up (and the times in-between! LOL)

10 years later and we’ve said good-bye to 4 dogs (Mojo, Scooter, Terrence and Phillip), welcomed 2 new ones (Paco and Winston) into our lives.

10 years later and we’re happy and thriving, living in an awesome city, walking and biking where ever we can.

10 years later and we’re still trying new things.

10 years later and we’re camping when we can and experiencing nature more than we ever did before.

10 years later it’s still the adventure of a lifetime.

 

I love you Nicole! And can’t wait for the next 10 years!

I built an app.

IMG_0627Ok I didn’t. I guess I product managed an app :)

Tom and his team worked with me on “Edit Me“. I’ve helped get lots of apps launched (no shortage of 360|iDev and Flex apps out there, that I helped with), but this is the first “not a conference attendees app” app.

Edit Me, serves a real purpose. Ever had a text message, tweet, Facebook post, etc  that you wanted to run by someone before sending? Maybe you’re a bit too heated, maybe too sad. Maybe just to check your tone, or make sure it’s not wildly offensive, etc. Or just to have a friend proof read it for you. Well that’s what we set out to solve with Edit Me.

The idea is pretty straightforward, i’ve got some short form text i want to run by someone before sending it, (Flying Spaghetti Monster knows I often need it)

3-5_1You fire up Edit me, pick your friend who’ll be the editor, throw in a title, and add your text. Off it goes. What’s cool is you and/or the recipient don’t need to register, the exchanges and notifications are bound to device not yet another set of user credentials. When they get the email it’s got an app URL (if they don’t there’s a link to get the app first) and it’ll pull up what needs to be edited.

Something more robust like users may come later, same for more granular edits, right now you offer up your edits and they’re accepted or rejected en masse. There’s no (yet) “Change this word or sentence” it’s “here’s my version of the entire text you sent” even if the change is only one or two words. We wanted to launch what we thought was the most useful version one we could, with plans to do a lot more cool things to the app as we go.

4_5I’m really excited about Edit Me, and find it really useful.

We also want to make a Mac version, which I think is going to be even more useful. While I do often need short form editing/proof reading, I do that a lot more on my mac than my iDevices.

Price: Not free. We went with $.99 because well free isn’t a sustainable model. We think Edit Me has value and utility, and is worth something. Plus really, isn’t not saying something stupid on the internet worth $.99?

NO IAP. While I won’t use the blanket “IAP is the devil” I will say when I am looking for new apps and games, seeing the “Contains In-App Purchase” label makes me think twice before even tapping to see the details. We wanted to make an app that was useful as it is, and requires no extra purchase.

If you’ve ever sat and looked at your messages, twitter or facebook app, and wondered “Should I send this, is mom going to get mad?” Edit Me is probably worth $.99 to you. Because then you could easily ask your sister or friend.

I’m Helping Organize RWDevCon!

So for a while now I’ve toyed with the idea of doing some event consulting. I’m good at what I do (at least I like to think so) and so I’ve thought it’d be fun to do it for others.

I’m officially working with Ray Wenderlich on RWDevCon (get your tickets now!), set for early 2015. I’m really excited.

Ray is an awesome guy (and his wife Vickie rocks!) and they’re huge parts of the iOS community. When he approached me with the idea of doing a small event centered around his website and it’s amazing authors, i jumped at the chance. It fits with what i love doing, events that are focused on community, not just doing an event to do an event.

Part of my 2015 plan is to get more involved, and helping organize other stuff is part of it, attending other stuff is the other. No I won’t be attending events that compete with me and trying to poach speakers, that’s shady. There’s lots of awesome events out there and I haven’t experienced them.

The first part of my plan is RWDevCon. I’m excited to see this kinda once in a lifetime (or year) gathering of the folks that contribute to making raywenderlich.com such an awesome asset to the iOS developer community.

Go grab your ticket now, see you in DC!

Events are easy

until they’re not.

They’re easy when it’s someone elses money you’re working with, or when there’s no real money on the line to begin with. Or when your name and reputation aren’t attached to it.

They’re very much not easy when it’s your money and/or reputation on the line.

Last Friday afternoon i made one of the hardest business decisions I’ve ever had to make, whether to cancel an event.

I cancelled the event. 360|intersect 2014, that was to take place in Seattle next week, isn’t happening. Ticket sales were way too low. I had kept hoping the flood gates would open in the last two weeks, as often is the case with events, but finally had to admit defeat, no one was coming. Well not no one, but not enough, by a long shot.

I’ve never had to cancel an event before, I’ve been in spots where i probably should have, but didn’t. This was the first time i made the call. I spent the weekend calling the speakers and talking to them about it, thankfully each one has been awesome and supportive of the decision.

Today I’ve been emailing sponsors, the venue, the hotel, refunding attendees, etc. Working out the details of unwinding an event.

I’m losing money, but I’m losing less than had i gone through with it, in terms of money but also my reputation and the reputation of the event.

 

Events are easy, except when they’re not.

Why 360|intersect means so much to me.

tl;dr;
Buy a ticket to 360|intersect, thank me afterward. Hate it, I’ll give you your ticket fee back.

But really, read this.

I created 360|intersect last year, after 3 years of it sitting in my brain, waiting to hatch. The seed was planted by Doug McCune, in 2010 at 360|Flex DC. One of our worst performing 360|Flex events.
Doug gave a talk about “taking the Tangent” (The link is to a recording of the talk, watch it now and come back, or save for later, but watch it).

That talk really stuck with me, like i said, it was the seed.

Since that talk, I’ve made sure every event after it no matter the audience, had at least one or two talks that stoked the fires of inspiration and creativity.

Last year, in talking to Ben Reubenstein and Brent Simmons at very different times they both suggested something like 360|intersect. I mentioned Doug’s talk, and similar ones, and both agreed it sounded like something that should exist.

So I did it. I hand picked people from all the spaces of tech i knew (Flex, Mobile, web, business, and more) and invited them to Seattle to share their stories. You can see the recordings here.

It wasn’t a large event. It wasn’t supposed to be, i wanted it small, exlusive, cozy. I didn’t want a TED or TEDx sized monster. I wanted something approachable, where speakers left the stage, and took a seat in the audience, where everyone could fit on a single duck.

From what I can tell, everyone loved it.

From the moment we wrapped up 360|intersect 2013, i was thinking about 2014. Who to invite? Who to ask for recomendations?

I think this years line up is every bit as awesome as last. In fact maybe more so, because there’s a few people in the line up that are recommendations from people i admire. The speaker line up has grown beyond my meager circle of friends. WIN.

360|intersect, isn’t a technical conference, it’s an inspirational one. Hell it’s not even a conference, it’s an ‘event’. Everyone there wants to learn and grow, whether speaking or sitting in the audience.

TEDx type events are great, and the ideas spread are amazing, but they’re not approachable, and they’re not exclusive. I look back at 360|intersect, at the Millennial Media Jones soda contest, at the duck tour, at hearing people i know and admire for their technical expertise talking about running, race care driving, magic, hiking, and more, and i can’t help but smile.

I’ve watched and re-watched last years recordings, because when i need a kick in the pants to write, or be more involved in Denver and get outside my shell, they do the trick.

Go get a ticket, you’ll thank me, and if you hate it, well you had a nice few days in Seattle, and I’ll give you your ticket fee back.

I don’t want to see 360|intersect go away. I believe in it’s value to people. I believe it can have a positive impact on people’s lives. Marketing something like this is hard, really hard. I don’t have crazy TED money, or crazy TED name recognition. I have me, this blog and twitter.

Can’t make it, want to help me out? Share this. Share a link, it all helps. If i had a passion project within 360|Conferences, this is it.