The Best Books I Read in 2020

Every year I have gotten into the habit of narrowing down the best books I read to just a handful of the best. These books inspire me to chose the sets of books I'll read the following year, and commemorate awesome years of reading. While I didn't necessarily utilize the stay-at-home orders of 2020 to read more, I was able to average about a book a week (which is usually around my yearly goal). Every year, I try to narrow down all the books I have recommended and read for this email list down to just a handful of the best. The kind of books where if they were the only books I’d read that year, I’d still feel like it was an awesome year of reading. I know that people are busy, and we don’t always have time to read as much as we like. Nothing wrong with that (though if you want to read more—don’t look for shortcuts—make more time!). What matters...
Read More
Jay Nine Inc, 10 Years Later

Jay Nine Inc, 10 Years Later

I started this company 10 years ago. It was 2009, and (at the time) I was working at a call center for a large propane company. I was in the midst of wanting to become a famous rock star. I started Jay Nine, Inc (then it was Jay Nine’s Social Media Marketing) to focus on building websites and helping businesses with social media and SEO. 2009 was a hard time for a lot of people. The Great Recession was in full effect. Businesses were shutting down. We started to see local coffee shops replaced by Starbucks. Local banks by chain businesses. We saw Blockbuster start to falter and then go completely under. Many mom-and-pops and people's dreams came to a halt as the economy suffered. I was driving one night in May and drove past a strip mall in Rocklin, California. I had worked at a mailing center in this strip mall when I was in high school and was shocked to...
Read More
Applying the Socratic Method to “Problem Solving” in Project Management

Applying the Socratic Method to “Problem Solving” in Project Management

When utilizing the Socratic method, an instructor asks her pupils a series of questions designed to stimulate more complete thinking and insight. Applying the Socratic method forces you to look more closely at your ideas, beliefs, and assumptions. Did you know, more data has been created in the past two years than in the entire previous history of the human race?  While the ramifications of having access to this much knowledge are still to be determined, one thing is clear: we have (at our fingertips) access to an unprecedented amount of data. The key point of the Socratic method (that we apply to our project management systems) is using cooperative argumentative dialogue to stimulate true critical thinking. Put another way, we don't let opinions and non-facts stand in the way of making the best decision. In web and software development, a lot of tasks that seem like much simpler tasks are often found out to be more difficult. Take this example of updating the...
Read More
The Pains of Developing an MVP and How to Overcome Them

The Pains of Developing an MVP and How to Overcome Them

The fabled MVP has become the new sexy word to throw around when it's time to develop a new application, company, or product. MVP (or minimum viable product) is meant to achieve a concept called Product Market Fit as quickly as possible. The MVP allows for small improvements based on real feedback—as opposed to  the traditional school of thought,  which is to try to launch publicly with what we think is our final, perfected product. Think the quiet and inexpensive growth of Airbnb vs the giant release of the first iPhone. While the concept of the MVP is a great concept, and it does work very well when executed properly, proper execution is extremely difficult. I've found there are generally 3 killers: Ego Trumps All A lot of people's ego get in the way of the process. They want the software or the website to be "perfect" in their eyes, without really a care to the consumer. When this is brought up, the response is usually, "oh,...
Read More
Why Your Software Developer Needs To Go To Sleep

Why Your Software Developer Needs To Go To Sleep

"Well, you really want your IT guys [or department] to be the kind of guys that don't have a life or girlfriend. They just sit behind their computers all day and night." Um, okay. Time At Work Does NOT Equal Productive Output I was sitting on my couch reading the other night (okay, I was playing Madden) when a solution to a software problem we've been trying to solve suddenly popped into my head. We were trying to think of the best way to create a set of CSV files for a partner company to access to track some basic data entry. While I was sitting there debating whether or not Drew Brees was going to cut it as my new franchise Quarterback, I suddenly realized that we shouldn't be doing this with a CSV file at all, but rather (and contrary to task instructions) with a member portal. Does this mean I should just play Madden all day? Unfortunately, no. However, if I hadn't taken the...
Read More
Why Software Projects Make People Pull Their Hair Out

Why Software Projects Make People Pull Their Hair Out

There was a study done in 1995 (22 years ago as of this writing) that concluded: Only 16% of software projects were successful 54% were challenged (cost overruns, budget overruns, or deficiencies) 31% were outright cancelled The average project runs 222% late, 189% over budget, and delivers only 61% of the specified functions. Failure has become the IT norm. Today I want to discuss some of the reasons why, and in a follow up article, I’ll discuss my life mission to do something about it. No Time Most software projects I’ve quoted or started had a deadline date that was decided well before the project starts. 99% of the time, this is an arbitrary date of when “it’d be nice to have it.” OR, a project is started with the intentions of “doing it right,” but a few months into the project there becomes a sudden need for it "to be done now.” There’s an excellent quote from the Mythical Man-Month (a software development book...
Read More