Where to Start with Ruby

To be honest; I’ve been watching ruby tutorials, listening to podcasts and playing with RubyMine(a development environment for developing ruby on rails apps) for a few weeks already. I wanted to have a little bit of knowledge before I started writing because I like to have an overview or big picture of something before I start trying to systematically learn it.

What I’ve found in that time is that just reading a book doesn’t get you very far. It doesn’t hurt, but if you want to squeeze the most out of your time getting your feet wet with examples is the best way to do it.

That being said this book: http://www.humblelittlerubybook.com/ lays it out fairly well. I was still so early in learning that I didn’t take away much from it but just getting familiar with the terminology was a help. I’ll make a section eventually that holds all of the resources that I’ve come across and found useful.

The best things I’ve found so far are definitely the Try Ruby & Ruby Bits 1 & 2 at the code school website. Try Ruby is free but I paid for the subscription to get the others and definitely think it’s worth it. They have a video describing some elements of ruby then give you challenges to complete, the subscription also comes with videos and tutorials on a handful of other languages that I’ll tackle after. I took notes as I was going through the tutorials because the videos go really fast but I lost them when my free trial of TextMate expired so this is a good time to start fresh.

At the end of the Ruby challenges on CodeSchool they recommend some other material; Ruby tapas, practicing Ruby, Ruby5 podcasts and DSL .. but the one site they mentioned that looks the most useful (and is free) is Ruby Koans. They describe it as beginner so it’s a perfect place to make sure the fundamentals are in place before I get too ahead of myself.

First Steps to Learning Ruby

So after four years and half years working towards a B.Comm degree in Management/Marketing I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do, per se. Web development and programming is where my passion lies and I figure it’s better now than never to dive into it for real. I’ve outsourced projects and tinkered with html or xcode but never gained enough knowledge to the point where it was usable.

Besides the fact that I love the idea of being able to hack something together that you can actually click around and see if it holds merit I want to learn how to program because it builds your personal value. I’ve found the reason why a lot of people get stuck in one job is because they move up in a certain company, based on time and implied seniority, but if they wanted to move or switch positions they would be forced to take much less money because it’s hard to value what they’re worth. (I’m mostly talking about managers and sales people) It might be different if a sales person was to keep up a blog about their knowledge during their career or a manager was blogging anonymously about their experiences in a company but that’s usually not the case. With programming or web development your knowledge is apparent in your work and your worth builds as your skills increase. In this scenario a web developer with a specific skill set could move across the country on a whim and find a job easily if he had the portfolio to prove what he can do.

What I’m getting at is there are too many degrees that aren’t jobs .. it’s great to know stuff about business but what business or industry are you actually going to work for and create in? Very few people actually know when they come out of a generic field like I did.

The other reason I’ve decided to dive into Programming sounds cliche but I asked myself what would I do if I could do anything I wanted.. my answer:  build web and mobile based products that millions of people interact with and somehow make their lives better. That brings me here. I feel like teaching or even just organizing my thoughts in writing on a topic is a good way to learn so I decided I will write as I learn. It’s a good way to hold myself accountable to actually making progress.

I decided on Ruby partly because of its cool factor and a general consensus of being one of the easiest programming languages to start with. This isn’t going to be polished writing, it will be following whichever path I decide to tackle the challenge of going from almost no knowledge of programming to being able to code and read Ruby at a workable level.

What’s Stopping Your Career From Being Outsourced?

If I wanted to I could outsource my latest stats assignment to an MBA graduate in India, who also holds their CPA, CFA and is incredibly proficient in excel, for roughly $6.00 an hour. Sure they might not have perfect English, but they’re MBA’s..working for $6.00 an hour! Almost all businesses are aware of this option and many big corporations are taking advantage of it. Luckily there is still one thing on your side; innovation. The ability to make heuristic decisions is something you won’t get overseas. These types of decisions coupled with creativity, common sense and problem solving are the factors that’s keeping a large number of jobs in North America.

If companies are aware this then why are so few taking the steps to create a culture which encourages innovation? More importantly, what are the things we should seek out in companies that will help us become innovative and stay relevant in an increasingly outsourced global workplace?

Encourages Innovation Checklist:

-Self-Governance (Autonomy)

In a perfect innovative world an employee would have autonomy over their task, their time, their technique and their team. The principle of the four T’s is taken from Daniel Pink’s book Drive.

  • Task: Many businesses are starting to set aside time designated specifically for innovation. This may be an afternoon a week or a day a week, it’s different depending on the organization. The concept is; to spend your time working on anything that interests you. Facebook has hackathons and Twitter has hacker weeks. These are both a form of have autonomy over task. These short time periods have produced some important products and led to bug fixes in both companies. This goes to show that when people are doing what they are interested in, on average productivity goes up.
  • Time: Not only do people work more efficiently on projects that interest them but when they are working during the hours that they are individually most productive the results are incredible. Not everyone peaks mentally between the hours of 9 and 5. Knowing this, a company that allows it’s employees to work flexible hours is already way ahead when it comes to encouraging innovation.
  • Technique: A popular technique among the most innovative companies in the world is the idea of “lean production”. Eric Ries describes this process with detail in his book “The Lean Startup” The model has three simple parts; build, measure and learn, where the amount of learning being done is what your growth is based on. A company using this strategy is clearly focused on solving problems wherever they may be created instead of pushing them down the production line for someone else to deal with. These types of techniques mixed with a good team of people are key ingredients for creativity and innovation to flourish.
  • Team: Again, to use Facebook as an example again, a common corporate policy is letting new hires place themselves on a team of their choice. This way they don’t feel like they’ve been dropped into an uncomfortable situation, and they are hopefully excited to get started from day one. It is common to be in these small work teams for the duration of projects which could last months or years so the ability to pick the team you will be working with is a huge factor in employee satisfaction.

-Results Orientated Workplace.

Being able to focus on the end goal and not necessarily logged hours is another benefit of a being part of a forward thinking organization. Most large companies find comfort in seeing people at the office whether they are being productive or not, where as companies who place an emphasis on innovation prefer to focus more on results instead of man hours. This type of atmosphere allows for creativity, and encourages employees to find the best possible solution to the issue instead of showing up to work because you have to or you will get fired.

-How they structure rewards.

Contrary to popular belief, money is not people’s number one motivator for picking a certain job. That being said it is easy to tell an “old-school” company apart from one with forward thinking beliefs based on their reward system. This would be an interesting question to ask in an interview because it also gives away the competency and management style of the leaders who are conducting the interview. The most innovative cultures are not built around extrinsic rewards. This means that a positive behavior is met with a reward, usually monetary. In the best organizations they pay their employee’s enough to “take money off the table”. Meaning above industry average salaries to the point where people aren’t contemplating how much overtime they will have to work to make x amount of dollars. They also use the underlying goals and mission of the company to give people intrinsic benefits for being a part of the company. By using “carrots & sticks” as a reward/punishment policy, (Again taken from Drive by Daniel Pink) people lose their sense of intrinsic motivation while also diminishing performance and crushing creativity. Using this strategy can also actually encourage unethical behavior. A situation where these type of rewards proved to be a complete failure occurred when trying to reward teachers for educating their students. In this scenario teachers would receive monetary compensation if their classroom grades were, on average, above the norm. This led to cases of teachers blatantly helping the students cheat and just handing students grades that were signifcantly higher than actually earned. Jim Collins says in his book Good to Great, “Expending energy trying to motivate people is largely a waste of time”. This example proves it, if someone isn’t motivated by intrinsic factors then the motivation received from external benefits almost certainly has a shelf life.

-Do they encourage mastery?

If you are stepping into a career you are passionate about you probably have goals of eventually becoming a master of that profession. An important question to ask any employer is; what emphasis do they put on training their own employees to make them better at their jobs? Many companies have internal training programs as well as paid external workshops where they encourage employees to never stop advancing their careers. These types of incentives are not uncommon anymore and you should expect that if your employer wants to keep you around for a long time that they will be willing to invest in your future.

-They have a clear goal/purpose

Finally, you should consider whether or not the employer in question has a clear goal or purpose. Does the company have an all-encompassing reason for being in business beyond making a profit? Almost all companies that value innovation do. If they didn’t how would they entice people to work for them when they aren’t using extrinsic rewards to motivate people? For example, Apple has an overall goal of making life easier for their customers with beautifully designed products. Google wants to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Toms wants to put a pair of shoes on every child’s foot, and the list goes on. In these cases, going to work is more than just a job, you have a purpose and are working for something bigger than you. If you talk to successful people, many times the most satisfying moments of their life will be work-related and with that, their ability to create something of value or make an impact on people’s lives. This greater sense of purpose is a key element inherent of a   rewarding lifestyle.

Simply being aware of what the most innovative companies are doing to promote innovation will help you make a more enlightened choice when it comes to picking an employer to begin your careers with. You may prefer more structure, or think you do, but an innovative workplace has proven to be the most satisfying.

“It would be an impoverished life if you were not willing to value things and commit yourself to working towards them,” Daniel Pink.

Find Web Developers on oDesk

Recruiting Recruiters

The first post I made on this blog I briefly described the project I was working on at the time. That was in October and I was planning on launching by December, partially the reason that I haven’t posted here since that deadline. Either way, mid February and we’re finally “ready”. (Who said the first product had to be perfect?)

If your reading this you’ve likely been directed from an email from me and still have almost no idea what the site is about or what I’m trying to accomplish. So if you have five minutes to spare I will answer these questions for you and explain why I emailed you in the first place.

Brief Background

If you haven’t visited the site yet  (www.kareers.ca) we are focused on getting students and recent grads into entry-level careers. Prior to building the site we found there was a huge problem in this market. It was becoming increasingly difficult for graduates to find a career in their field and if they did it was usually with the first company that offered them a job. Two things were to blame for this situation; 1. Most employers were looking for an extensive amount of experience that graduates didn’t have. Without this experience and no way to show off their skills beyond a resume they were forced to take whatever job they could find.  2. New entrants to the job market had no say in what type of company they wanted to work for, they were simply happy to have a job at all. Because there was no “market” for the best entry-level talent, a strong graduate would have no leverage to find the best job possible.

Our solution to this issue is based on the idea of using video to show or teach what you know instead of just making claims on a resume. The video gives job seekers the ability to stand out in ways that were never before possible. We feel that the entry-level market is the perfect place to take video resumes mainstream because these candidates don’t have the experience to fall back on. Having the opportunity to show off their skills in a video instead of having to rely on family contacts and the sheer number of resumes sent out is a huge advantage over anyone waiting for something to “come up”. It also gives the employer a better idea of who their applicants are so  if they were to get called in for an interview they would know that employer is actually interested in hiring them.

The second and most important part of of our solution (where you come in) is our model of “for students by students”. We want Kareers to represent a community of students who have the same values and beliefs as us, not just another job site. This is especially true when it comes to education (See our homepage). We know that our demographic is a lot more capable in the workforce than we get credit for. We are so confident in this we want to give individual campuses the opportunity to run as a student ran franchise for Kareers. In business school we are presented with case study after case study of what to do in situations however it is rare to actually get the opportunity to make important, strategic decisions within a real company.

How you can help. 

There are three things that you could potentially do for us. First, there is a citywide manager position that we are currently hiring for Canada wide. Second, we plan to have campus rep’s running “franchises” in each post secondary institution. Finally if you are not interested or have other commitments we would greatly appreciate you suggesting this opportunity to a capable friend.

What’s in it for you?

As a city-wide manager – This person oversees the team’s of campus reps and citywide strategy for the company. The business model of our company is to sell job posts and the ability to view the profiles on our site. We initially plan to populate the job results with free postings however when selling the posts we plan to pay large commissions to our sales reps who are part of the on campus teams. As a citywide manager, however, you would get a percentage of every sale made from every campus you oversee. On top of this we want to offer a more traditional recruitment option for the exceptional student talent we represent. We plan to charge this out on a percentage of base salary. Again we offer a large percentage based commission from this placement which you would be entitled to.

As a campus rep – We eventually want to grow these teams to a large number of people so they can all participate in decision making and various parts of the business process. The positions among campus reps will vary from marketing and advertising to sales and HR. The sales people will directly benefit from commissions however the majority of each sale will stay within the “franchise” giving the team operating income to make monetary decisions on other facets of the business. To determine who initially occupy’s these positions on each campus we have added a “reffered by” section to our sign up process. Students who are interested in being campus reps can direct people to sign up on behalf of a team name, the team that gets the most signups for their school holds the inaugural position.

The benefits of being a campus rep include:  You would obviously get in-field business experience making important decisions on behalf of the company – You will have direct access to employers we work with and the best jobs in your area. (We want to build an awesome place to work but focus on helping even our employee’s achieve their career goals) – There is an opportunity to earn a real income while gaining experience – You are part of an awesome community and will have the power to find your deserving friends awesome jobs too.

If you are interested in hearing more about our efforts or either of these positions please email me- broc [at] kareers.ca. If not maybe you have a friend in mind who would be? The introduction would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers

10 Reasons Why Scotch&Soda Should Hire Me

 

Background – It seems anyone who belongs to Generation Y is assumed to have superior social media skills, I disagree. Sure we know how to use a computer better than our grandparents and most likely all have Facebook and Twitter accounts but that’s like saying all Baby Boomers are hard workers because they grew up in an Economic boom time. We may be more inclined to use technology on daily basis but knowing how to put it to use in a business sense is not a skill assumed at birth.

Social media is seen to the general public as a Facebook and Twitter account with a man behind both to upload photos like any other teenager does with their personal account.  This is far from the case. These platforms, along with many others, provide an amazing opportunity for brands to interact with their fans. Done right these conversations begin to spark up more often and the tie between company and customer becomes more and more personal. The end goal of these efforts is an army of brand advocates who are not only proud to buy your products but happy to convert their friends into fans as well.

As a company Scotch and Soda focuses on their product first. This motto has paid off in spades, having some of the nicest/ best fitting clothes i’ve ever seen (no joke). If you have ever ate at a restaurant where the food was so good you would literally hound your friends to go there and tell anyone who would listen to you how amazing the food was then you know how I feel about these clothes. Everything from how they present the them in the store to it’s atmosphere makes you want to throw out your whole wardrobe and start over with everything from S&S. This feeling is what inspired a burning desire to try and help the company get their product out to as many people as possible. The following list is how I can help and why they should hire me.

1. I love the brand. – As you can probably tell from above, I’m a big fan. The sad thing is I only found out about this company a few months ago by stumbling upon the store in West Edmonton Mall (Canada). The reason for this post is because I know there are hundreds, even thousands of people who would fall in love with the clothes like I did if they were introduced to them.

2. Conversations are being left behind. – There are currently dozens of conversations happening all over the internet that are being ignored by the company(Probably not intentionally). People like me who are passionate about the company are taking to the internet to show off their affection for the brand. These conversations can be found on individual blogs (by simply doing a blog search on google for Scotch and Soda), on photo sharing sites like Instagram and Flickr, and of course social networking sites like Twitter, and Google Plus.

To say that these conversations are happening is probably common sense but to actually interact with these people and lead them somewhere or help them become better brand advocates is where I think the company is missing the boat.

3. Twitter could be more effective. – Specific to the efforts made on twitter.com I think the company could be more conversational. Lately they have started moving more towards interacting with personal users with @ mentions but in the past they were using the feed specifically to broadcast messages. Constantly pushing content on followers is not an effective way of influencing them. To get an idea of what kind of effect the account is currently having on followers you could use sites like Klout. With a basic Klout search you can see that the true influence of the company is about 380 followers. It is important to know who those people are and at least show you appreciate them because they are the people who are going to help spread your brand to their followers and friends.

Beyond knowing who you influence on twitter it is important to have a strategy of “acquiring” customers or being able to start them on an acquisition funnel so you can build a longer term relationship. Currently if a user follows a link from twitter to the blog there isn’t even a share button on this page. It’s great that the traffic is being driven back to the website but you should at least provide the opportunity to collect some information in the form of subscribing to the blog. Also making it easy for users to share this content is imperative.

4. Facebook efforts could be improved – With nearly 37,000 likes they are obviously doing something right but the sheer number of followers/fans is not the most important stat, it is engagement. So with every post, tweet, how many people are retweeting, liking, sharing, this is what actually matters.

The like us, we like you campaign is cool. Personally I don’t think that type of campaign is scalable however it could prove different. The obvious flaws are there is no real description on the Facebook page as to what like us? we like you too means. After searching the internet I found that the idea is to thank the customers or Facebook fans by randomly displaying the names in the flagship Amsterdam store.

I like the idea with the Black Dresses tab better. Here there are ten black dresses with half of the image covered, to see the full image and all the dresses you have to like their page. I think this type of withheld information requiring action should be used widely across all forms of advertising. Personally I would like to see Facebook as a landing page for Scotch and Soda that they direct traffic too from shared video content. Currently they have a few videos out that are well shot, mainly displaying clothing on their flagship model however I think the focus should be on building anticipation in these videos and linking to the Facebook page where a user can like the page and reveal the rest of the content of the video.

5. Engagement is low – As mentioned before this should be a priority. I find it interesting that the “social media” staff doesn’t look at their channels on weekends. But aside from @ mentions and answering Facebook posts there needs to be an underlying strategy of sparking interest and leading customers through a funnel. This process that requires interaction from them and leaves you with some information from, hopefully, a new customer.

7. Advocates like me are looking to help spread the word – currently the only thing I can do if I want to tell my friends about your site is tweet about it or post it to facebook. A key idea when asking someone to share your content is keeping in mind that people share things because want to look cool. This isn’t a problem here because your product is great (not necessarily the content but the product). To take it a step further if a user can make his friends look cool then that content or idea is much more likely to spread to many more people.

The exclusive content could be anything, a pre release video, early access to a certain line or clothes, a sale etc. As an example I’ll use a VIP sale. On the site you could mention that you will be handing out personal invitations to a VIP sale for brand advocates or anyone who is talking about S&S online. You could even come up with a hashtag for the event. You might not invite everyone who tweets but give priority access to those who go the extra mile, writing blog posts etc. These people who get personal invites can then invite three friends to view the sale as well. This way someone who makes a Facebook post about S&S gets invited and hands out 3 invites to close friends who might also appreciate the sale. You could continue this further with people who received an invite and purchased something also get three invites. Because people have something of value to give away to their friends they will share it.

8. There is no funnel. – A campaign like the one previously mentioned might generate a lot of traffic and buzz about the company but if you let all of those customers and people get away I would consider it a overall failure. Just because a person got an invite doesn’t mean you should give away this exclusive content away for free. Landing pages are one thing that is currently overlooked at S&S. If one was implemented before a user got access to this exclusive sale then you could collect information on them and have a direct means of contact. This eventual list should be your most engaged users because they are  already qualified. On this landing page you could simply ask for email, or anything you want, including whether they prefer shopping online, what is currently their favorite clothing brand, where did they hear about scotch and soda etc etc. The important thing here is to split test different pages especially with the more questions you ask.

9. Their reach could be expanded – As mentioned before Facebook and Twitter are a great start. The efforts on these platforms is definitely more good than bad but there are a few other main platforms that should be considered. For one a location based service like Foursquare could be an awesome tool to link online traffic/customers to offline stores. Tumblr is an awesome blog site that is hugely popular and has powerful sharing capabilities. Also having a presence on Instagram would mesh perfectly with the brand especially with so many customers already sharing and tagging S&S on the site.

10. The price is right and I can implement it all. I’d love to help implement some or all of these new ideas for free. I really do want more people to find out about the great clothes/ I would also like to gain some credibility in the field incase I ever decided to pursue a career in social media consulting.

(I offer all of these suggestions respectfully as the company is huge/ they make great products and have done A LOT of things right over the years.)

 

 

 

Dying in limbo, Inception style.

You would have to of seen the Leonardo DiCaprio movie Inception to understand the title. To be honest the movie was so confusing I’m probably not the best person to explain it to you. The just of it was being in limbo means you could never make it back to real life and were inevitably doomed. The movie isn’t great but it’s an awesome business analogy.

Being in business limbo means you aren’t necessarily failing, or you don’t know you are, but you also aren’t winning either. It’s the state where your too nervous to check your stats or implement any sort of metrics because you know they aren’t great. Your well aware of this but you push forward doing what you were doing anyway because it’s less painful. Maybe you even “try harder” with your current strategy.. ah that’s the key, why didn’t you think of that earlier!

Quoting Eric Ries from his book The Lean Startup, “If you cannot fail, you cannot learn”. Ignoring the facts or not having any facts to ignore in the first place isn’t doing you any good. Very few people get it right the first time or don’t pivot their businesses at all while they are growing. There is no shame in altering your course if you find out something isn’t working. Need some proof? The founder of Sony started out making rice cookers. Western Union originally boycotted the thought of a telephone becoming mainstream. Bill Gates’ first company called Traf-O-data, focused on collecting traffic data and creating detailed reports for engineers, ultimately failed. Ironically Jack Dorsey (founder of twitter) was also fascinated by the flow of traffic and spawn the idea for twitter from this. You don’t need to be reminded how all of these stories ended up.

Personally I would chalk up businesses or ideas that go into limbo to a lack of passion. Telling a grown man that his business isn’t going to work out unless he is passionate about it is like a 14 year old boy telling a girl that likes him it will never work out. She hears those words and thinks to herself, “he must like me”. Likewise, the business man hears the advice and thinks to himself, “yah for most people, not me”. The reason I know this is because I was one of those people. Somehow I thought that I would be different that the million other people selling software online or who has an idea for a niche social network. While I don’t deny that networking is extremely important and success can be found even if the site doesn’t scale I realized I don’t really care to tweet about and comment on blogs about principles of networking all day. Meeting people is awesome, talking about the best ways to do it all day, not so much. The key was I realized this quickly, I didn’t keep banging my head against the wall hoping one day something would click and all of a sudden I would love it.

A number of companies share this idea, some have even made it mantra’s to live by; “fail fast and fail often”. When used effectively your company stays in-tune to the needs of your customers and is always learning and adapting. This relates to a question I recently read on twitter for a startup enthusiast (I forget who). The question was; What is the best way to deal with arguments between cofounders? Answer: If the basis of the argument could be solved or identified with metrics they should look to this first. A test that had physical results was the most effective way of backing up an argument and would usually settle things. If not, they would usually both have to compromise.

The reason this answer is so interesting is because most people don’t do it. They sit around arguing hypothetical solutions. Even worse, when asked how a new feature is working will give vague answers like, “pretty good, people seem to like it”. That shouldn’t be a satisfying answer for you. In this scenario how do you know where you can further improve on the feature? You don’t. It’s all guessing games. You aren’t failing here because of ignorance not because of anything positive. Again, if you can’t fail how do you learn???

A popular excuse companies have for not using social media is they don’t want people posting negative comments on their Facebook wall. If your company sucks or a customer had a bad experience they will find a way to get their voice heard whether you have a Facebook page or not. The only difference is, if you aren’t using social media you are ignorant to the problem. Wouldn’t you rather be aware of whats going on so you can offer solutions and try to mend relationships? I’d hope so.

Don’t limbo!

 

 

Talk is Cheap

It seems everything I read these days has one underlying message: stop talking about it and go build it. Clearly a lot easier said than done or everyone would be selling books and not reading them. The most ironic thing is some of my friends will talk to me about ideas they have and I’ll give them the same advice. It’s good advice but without ever having launched something myself I was being a bit of a hypocrite. I talked in my first post Career Hacking: Step 1 about the long term project I’m working on, I even said I would be launching it this month. Needless to say that isn’t happening, the date has gotten pushed back to January (another two months ish).

This brings me to the reason for this post. I tend to talk about doing stuff a lot, or used to, now I try and wait until I have something to show before I talk about it. But even still, I realized I shouldn’t be offering the “go do it” advice when I haven’t pulled the trigger myself. I have good intentions believe me. You know what’s a lot easier than actually doing something? Reading somebody tell you that you should do something. I don’t know whether it’s a human instinct to look for that encouragement or whether it’s procrastination but I’m a victim of it either way. I’ve watched Gary Vaynerchuk inspire audiences to the point of them cheering, I’ve read Mark Cuban talk about learning through failure on the job instead of in a classroom, I’ve even read James Altucher talk about acting on ideas (among many other things) yet I was still a virgin to launching anything other than this blog.

Enough of that. I’m about to go on a launching spree. But in my new fashion I’ll only talk about what I’m actually doing today. A little synopsis: I started thinking about what kind of product I could get out quickly a few weeks ago while lying in bed (I have a broken leg… that’s another story). Ideas aren’t the problem, It was making it simple enough that I wouldn’t have to deal with extensive outsourcing etc… since I can’t code. A blog post I had read a while back called The 9 Skills Needed to be a Super Connector  (ironically enough it’s by james altucher and has a picture of mark cuban in the heading) sparked my creativity. I loved the thought of being a super connector, I know some friends who are bar managers who have 5000 Facebook friends and it seems pretty fun. A page of jot notes later and I thought a business version of eharmony with me playing matchmaker was a good enough idea…. no joke. The beauty of actually starting something is you get to quickly see if it was a good idea or not. Implement, test, either pivot or move on to something else. If you can get the “product” out with next to nothing invested what’s the harm in trying out an idea? Nothing. The hypothesis behind this idea is that A. more businesses would get started if you linked people together who had similar ideas/passions B. people in general want to meet new people, especially for business purposes and with a third party intermediary the stigma of the initial introduction is taken away.

In my head it seems rational and with this new strategy I’ll be able to find out without spending thousands of dollars and wasting months of time. The product is painfully simple. It’s a premium wordpress theme with a facebook plugin. Domains were a little bit of an issue but I liked the idea of incorporating the suffix to the url so I called it youherand.me. Obviously you can’t just make a site live and people will magically find their way to it, unless you have some amazing SEO I guess. But i don’t. I’m forced to use twitter and basically any other way of finding people I think might be interested.

Getting something to mass market these days doesn’t seem that hard, especially with something like this because there is very little  resistance to signing up. My plan is to use guerilla marketing but not in the sense of spamming telephone poles with flyers. Guerrilla marketing has taken on a whole new meaning, maybe it should even be changed to Owl (they have good hearing) marketing because the goal is to listen for every conversation that is going on about your product/service/industry and be a part of it. These conversations could be on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or focus groups other places on the web, it doesn’t matter where it just matters you are a part of it. Not having time to interact with all these conversations is the number one complaint I hear from businesses. I don’t doubt that you are busy but like @Garyvee says; if the phone rings in your office your probably going to answer it, ignoring these conversations online would be like trying to run a business by constantly ignoring your customers.

Continuing with the do don’t tell mantra, I’ll be using mostly Twitter to start joining these conversations. The twitter account for this site is @youherme so if your calling my bluff you can see the ground work I’ll be putting in on that profile. Side note: the conversations won’t be completely open because If you just @ mention someone without them following you first it can be related to yelling at a stranger on the street, not very effective. My goal is to follow people who are talking about related topics such as networking, creating jobs etc and do quick research on the people who end up following me. I will then direct message them with something actually relevant to what they are doing and ask them to check out my site.

Before you can really judge whether something will catch on at least a few thousand people need to check it out. If the people who sign up have a positive referral ratio to their friends, you have something. If not it probably will never be mainstream. In this case having millions of users isn’t crucial and the service could be beneficial no matter how few of users however the more the better.

Let the sweat equity begin.