Browsing articles in "new idea!"
Aug
8

Pale Blue Dot

I recently attended HugNation where Halcyon discusses the most recent NASA Mars landing. Discussing the small cost associated with space exploration (the recent Mars mission is to have said to cost $7/per American tax payer) and its worthiness of an investment. Citing what space exploration does for changing the viewpoint of humanity. This discussion has actually shifted my viewpoint of space exploration or reasons for us to invest in such.

I, myself, thought the notion of space exploration was of little consequence to man and more of a sideways step at trying to protect what we do have. My past mode of thinking was that space and the exploration of, was a testament to “ultimate manifest destiny” or a “we’re going to trash this one, so lets start the next one” escape plan. But Halcyon makes some great points and cites an amazing body of work to back up and inspire change of opinion and view via Carl Sagan’s, Pale Blue Dot.

The Pale Blue Dot really speaks to me, because of Carl Sagan’s poignance of current and past world situations, that all of this greatness and ego sits on a tiny speck in the vastness of the universe. With this thought a sense of awe comes forth, everything we know is but a speck in the mass of chaos. Some would progress into, “well than why does it matter?” Shifting the perspective to a notion of how amazing all that we have is. The Earth is extremely unique, and it would be a shame for us to spoil this magnificent space.  Taking care of each other, commrades in a little spaceship floating in the universe, persay. I thought it was worth sharing, hope you enjoy it. :)

 

“It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

Jan
14

My Ideal Life

By april.holle  //  book reviews, life news, new idea!, self-reflection  //  4 Comments

This is my answer to Pam Slim’s “Your Ideal Life” exercise (pg 65) in her book, Escape from Cubicle Nation. Which by the way, I highly recommend.

Home

I live in a self-renovated historic bungalow with original hardwood floors and a fireplace that keeps us warm in the fall and winter months. The climate is temperate, and we enjoy the long growing season. Outside, the birds eat out of a feeder and play in a water fountain in my backyard garden paradise that I created myself with the help of my father (who is really the one with the green thumb). The neighborhood is reasonably quiet, but every so often is broken with the sounds of playing children, music and people having hearty conversations during back yard barbeques. The neighbors are extremely friendly and down to Earth. We often get together for neighborhood barbecues, coffee in the morning on each others porches or drinks in the evening. The main city center isn’t too far away from our community, allowing us access to downtown if we want to go out on the town or attend a business meeting.

Relationships

With myself

I treat myself with dignity and respect, allowing myself the time to enjoy doing things that don’t always involve financial profit. I allow myself to appreciate life in the finer details that money can’t buy. I am proud of my life and my accomplishments.

With my husband

I have a loving, supportive husband, he and I are good friends and really look out for one another, a partner who sticks by me through the tough times (which are reasonably few) and celebrates the great times. Someone that can appreciate the value of communication, understanding, respect, trust, love, and happiness. We make our relationship a priority.  If conflict arises, we sit down immediately and talk about it calmly. We give each other room to pursue our own interests, without laying guilt on each other. We are physically affectionate, and give each other positive verbal encouragement all the time.

With my kids

I have two great kids whom I provide love and guidance to, teaching them about my experience with the good and the bad all while not being too serious considering they’ll get enough of that when they’re older.

With my friends

I have a great group of people I call friends all over the world that I can depend on for support, guidance and a good night out.

With my family

I’m so blessed to have my dad living under my roof. He is my most favorite person in the world and it’s great to be able to share his remaining life with me and our family. I’m extremely close with my siblings and even though I may live far away, they know they are still close to my heart. We still make time to visit and to call each other to show we care.

With my clients

The people I do business with are good people with great ideas wanting to make a difference in this world. Passionate and driven to do the right thing, they trust my expertise to help them in their mission. They aren’t in business for the money it makes but for the drive they have inside themselves to create and serve their customers and communities to the best of their abilities. These people compliment me by being a sounding board for my business decisions, help build our businesses together and remind me why I do what I do.

Health

I sleep well at night and wake up each morning rested and ready to take on the day. I live an active lifestyle – finding time to take nature hikes with the kids, garden, walk the dogs, go out dancing or relaxation through yoga and pilates practice. We have a great time cooking healthy meals at home or learning about ethic cultures while eating at local restaurants. My body feels alive and youthful since I started focusing on my overall health – mentally, physically, and spiritually. I don’t sweat the small stuff and I am no longer stress junkie. I respect myself by allowing myself time to reflect, stop and enjoy just for the sake of enjoying something. To make time for me and my passions that I do merely for the fact that they make me happy.

Work Style

I work both alone and with several different teams of people that vary from time to time. Allowing me to continuously create valuable relationships with a variety of people over a expansive network of industries. I work both from my home office and on the road as I travel once every one to two months for different speaking engagements. My schedule does vary quite a bit, allowing me flexibility in my day and to work when I really feel the motivation and to relax and not stress out if I’m just not feeling it between 8 AM – 5 PM. This also varies from week to week but with some lead-way, so that I can comfortably plan a few weeks in advance.

Nature of Work

I am blessed that I get to create and teach at the same time. I enjoy the strategy I do for clients and the analysis of the success of that work. I, through presenting my work, am allowed the opportunity to teach my clients how they can make their business better through more than just marketing, but through meaningful client interactions that can benefit them as well as the customer they’re looking to reach. Then overseeing the implementation of that strategy over many networks of integrated communications to put that plan into action. In addition to still creating, I also teach people within this process how to excel their ability to make these connections through design, communication, strategy, process and finally analysis which invariably leads to revision in most situations to increase each connections success. I enjoy solving real problems with ethical solutions in a way that is accountable and reliable. I help bring people together in a cohesive team that allows for better efficiency while allowing more honest, open communication among team members.

Financial Life

I make enough to help our family (costs split between husband and I based on % of income, dad also pitches in) to be comfortable in our 4 bedroom / 2 bath house, with the kids and a couple of trips a year, nothing crazy just your standard family vacation on the cheap, maybe skip a couple years and go some place exotic that requires a passport. I have benefits with my job, some of them people would call perks – insurance through either my husband’s full-time position or through our own insurance, my flexible schedule allows me to usually be around to pick the kids up from class if they’re sick at a drop of a hat, I can work mostly at my own time and set my pace, and even sometimes clients trade out for extras such as hotel stays or clothing. My income does fluctuate at times depending on the type of work I’m doing, but I have enough in savings (3-6 months of expenses) to wait out the dry times. I have a great credit score that I keep up on, I am extremely reliable with my bills and pay my contractors not only on time but maybe even a bit extra for an awesome job well done. Besides the house, I’m debt free and only have a credit card for emergencies for the business.

So what do you think? Am I asking too much? ;)

Dec
8

Rise Up Phoenix

By april.holle  //  life news, new idea!, self-reflection, things to do  //  7 Comments

A soapbox about Phoenix community, but first, a video about ants.

Last night I was talking to my father about the Climategate, Cap and Trade and other world issues all of which are way way bigger than either of us, and all I had was one question, how can I help? Then dad mentioned a lesson he had shown me many years ago, “Remember the ants we used to watch when you were a kid? We need to be more like them, instead of fighting and trying to move in all different directions, we should group together and work to solve the problem.” If ants can do it, why can’t we?

Lately I’ve been hearing the rumblings of a revolution, and I love it. I hear empowered passionate voices of community members looking for value, acceptance and critique, and I embrace it. And I ask of you, get behind it, because it’s YOUR community we’re creating, you simply have to be a part of the creation. We don’t all have to “start” something to be a part, but show your support for ideas, movements, businesses and groups that share your vision in for the Phoenix community and the world. Here are some examples:

  • Eat local, try Liberty Market or La Grande Orange
  • Pitch in and volunteer your time/services, if you hear of someone working on something you want to be a part of or have ideas for don’t be afraid to commit to helping that group
  • Donate to local start-up sanctuaries trying to make a difference like the Toys for Tots drive at Gangplank or donating items and services to Fractal/Dojo Collective
  • Ask for help,  are you working on an idea or have a movement you would like support with? Don’t be afraid to ask for help, there are so many people in our community that want to make a difference you just have to connect with the right ones
  • Buy your books locally (and perhaps even used), try Changing Hands Bookstore or Bookmans next time
  • Thank them, if nothing else, find something you support, go up to that person/organization/business and thank them for what they do for your community and your way of life
  • Share your ideas and your actions on how you support your community here and elsewhere

With all that I’ve said here, I want to thank all of you, you make up such a wonderfully rich diversity of community for me. I will continue to support the Phoenix community and I hope you’ll join me. I’m not asking you to change the way you live or how you live it, but to be thankful and support those who provide you with the that way and those means. Appreciate what you do have and support the change you want to see where ever you are.

With All My Love,

April

Dec
7

It’s Time to Dye

By april.holle  //  life news, new idea!  //  27 Comments

Alright, so “crowd sourcing” thing is all the rage, so I’m using it to my advantage. It’s time for you to choose my hair color. That’s right, leaving it up to you fine folks out there to pick what color my stripes are next.

I’ve been sporting the black with teal stripes for a while, and while I like it, I want to mix it up a bit… so below are your choices. Remember, black as the base, so you’re just picking the stripe colors you sillies! To vote, simply leave a comment with the color name. A winner will be chosen at 5 PM today and photos will be posted of the final outcome. :D

Nov
25

Growing Smarter Not Harder

First, a disclaimer, I’m not an economics guru or a politics whiz, so what I’m about to put out here is simply and observation from an American Gen-Y female in the technology and advertising industry. That said, feel free to read on if you’re interested in my perspective.

I was recently reading an article called The Smart Growth Manifesto posted on the Harvard Business blog and I thought it had some great points about smart growth and how we may be able to dig ourselves out of this economic hole we seem to find ourselves in today.

If it’s one thing I’ve learned about making mistakes it’s that there are VALUABLE lessons hidden inside each one that help us grow if only we can understand how we made the mistake in the first place. History repeats itself, and if you don’t understand HOW history happened you can’t evolve your process to avoid those mistakes again.

The Smart Growth Manifesto considers the 20th Century Economy to be based on a poor growth model that was unsustainable, unfair, and brittle. Using what we’ve learned in this 20th Century growth model, the article suggests we move to a smarter growth model that provides sustainability, equality and resilience.

This new “Smart Growth” would be based on four pillars, each of which I really agree with and see happening in many successful start-ups these days. These four pillars are:

  1. Outcomes, not income. We no longer base our net worth on how much money or product we make, but how much BETTER our lives really are. We need to create meaningful, authentic value that really makes a difference in peoples lives not just how much money we line our pockets with.
  2. Connections, not transactions. We don’t look at transaction volume alone but dissect how each transaction is connected and how to increase the overall value of the entire system from supplier to manufacturer to consumer by co-creating and collaborating together instead of fighting over “our market share”. We should know that globally our economies are connected and to rise above competition and create relationships for the good of the whole world.
  3. People, not product. We quit focusing on what makes a cheap product and start focusing on the people who make great products. While you may save money going with the lowest bidder, you also get what you pay for. The people behind great work is what really makes all the difference. We should empower people to learn, create, invent and innovate to help stimulate growth and provide new arenas to build better goods and services.
  4. Creativity, not productivity. We need to base success measurements on creativity instead of just productivity. Creativity would measure how much NEW value is actually being created as opposed to simply shifting old value around to different markets.  This would bolster creation of new ideas, shake up the “status quo” and push businesses and economies to become more resourceful and efficient.

These pillars aren’t only found in economies but in businesses, many new “revolutionaries” are already tossing out the old ways of business for these smart growth ideals. Myself, being in the advertising, internet and technology industries are seeing a lot of new businesses turning the tides of the economic climate that are based on these four pillars. The article states several and I have to seriously agree that when I’m reading these principles I can clearly see them in businesses such as Apple, Etsy, Threadless, Google, and others.

I’d love to hear your point of view on what you think of this article and if this really is a full economic movement to “smart growth”. What do you think?

Jan
28

Walking on the Ceiling

I was in a meeting with one of my co-workers today when she mentioned that as a child she would lay on her back with her feet up in the air, as if she could walk on the ceiling. It brought me back to that time in my life, remembering how life would be if you had to step through door ways and your head would bump on bookcases and chairs hanging from the ceiling.

Remember playing that the floor was lava? Jumping from one piece of furniture to the next, trying not to scald your feet on the red hot bubbles below? Your mom screaming at you to get off the entertainment center or the refrigerator?

The days in life, where you could make rabbits and dragons out of clouds, where ants crawling on the ground still made you point and stare.  Those days when rain drops and bubbles made you laugh and when that soft blanket made the worlds troubles go away.

Stop when the 9 to 5 starts to grind on you, when your love life seems not so lovely, or when you have to rush groceries in between the post office and the vet. Then remember, laying on your back, pretending that you’re walking on the ceiling and smile.

Jan
13

New Year, New Me?

Sorry I’ve been in hiatus the past three weeks or so… I was all on track to get some serious blogging done over the break and instead found myself in a mess of personal life crisis that made me wonder if Doctor Phil needs me to fill in some days.

In the last three weeks I’ve hatched an awesome Christmas plot to give Kaleb an HD TV, purposed to, had my dad visit from Kansas, took my father to San Diego to meet Kaleb’s parents, built a website for my father’s dream, landscaped my backyard with dad, drove straight through to Kansas to say good bye to my grandmother on her death bed, kicked out my brother’s girlfriend and some of her friends who were living off my dad in his house, enrolled my brother in college, realized how much my grandmother sacrificed her entire life to provide for her family in the time of her death, held confession for past love and realized crossroads in my life, flew back to Arizona the same day as my grandmother’s funeral, found good in restructuring our department for the second time in the past year, sent home from work for poorly executed light-hearted comment, became unsure of my employment for twelve hours, went back to work, met with co-worker to find our friendship completely intact, had life realization.

I touch so many lives, trying to right wrongs, trying to make life easier for people to cope with. Sometimes people need to see it for themselves, sometimes people will never be able to see through the haze, regardless, I need to realize that I cannot force people to see at all. As much as I want to open the eyes of the world to have people see what’s really important, they slam shut. I need to learn to open my own and remember the gift that has been given, free will.

I am not perfect. No one is. We all make mistakes, but the beauty of life to to realize those mistakes and become better for them. Don’t waste time wishing you had said this or done that. It’s done, it’s over, look at what’s next. What will tomorrow bring?

Sometimes we get so caught up in the daily grind that we forget there’s a higher purpose for us all. Realize your purpose and live through it every day.

Don’t be scared of change, the ebb and flow of life seldom is stagnate for long. Sometimes you’re at its mercy, but after the storm, you may find yourself washed up on a better shore than the one you left.

Dec
10

Happy Webbies

By april.holle  //  new idea!, user experience, XHTML/CSS  //  No Comments

Love website design and development? Love the people who make it great? Check out Happy Webbies! It’s like Happy Bunny for web geeks. You can get desktops of your favorite web gurus bashing bad design or better yet, Eric Meyer can span your chest on your very OWN eric meyer happy webbies TEESHIRT! Watch out! **closes her p tag**

Dec
9

THE Brian Shaler

Brian Shaler

So I got to sit down with Brian Shaler yesterday during the Phoenix BarCamp and really pick his brain regarding his recent boost in popularity on the net.

I’ve been on a big personal branding kick and I’m trying to talk to anyone who’s someone to ask them how they “did it”. Not necessarily to find the best way “in” but to be able to at least assess my possibilities and think of it another way. So when I heard Brian was getting some SERIOUS digg attention and had over 6k followers on Twitter… I started to wonder if he was my next brain-sucking victim in the quest to become immoral. Sounds kinda creepy when I put it that way eh?

Anyhow, when Chuck Reynolds and I finally hog tied him and tossed him into the back of the van, after HOURS of threating to toss him into a vat of scorpions, THE Brian Shaler gave up his secret to his AMAZING popularity rise.

When he first found Twitter, he realized the growth potential of seeding the popularity contest that is viral marketing. How you ask? It’s brilliant really. You follow people… doesn’t matter who really, the more active the better I suppose. Lets say you start following… 3 thousand people… then all the sudden, even HALF of those people return the favor by following you. You instantly have a captured 1,500 user audience in which to broadcast yourself and things you want to become known. Once you have a decent size user audience, communication back and forth can continue the viral campaign, since every @brianshaler twitter statement someone makes is broadcast to all the users twitter followers as well, and these people start to ask, who is this person they’re talking to? Perhaps they too will start following you. All the sudden you have over 6 thousand twitter followers just like Brian Shaler.

He uses this captured market as a launching pad for things to become viral and tracks every link he sends out to this base group so that he can track the SEO effects of his experiment in viral activity. So, lets say… he has a site that he wants to promote. He sends out the link to his twitter followers saying, “Hey check this really cool thing out…”. Because of his extensive research on the SEO traffic produced by his Twittering alone, he knows that he can pretty much rely on about 100-300 click throughs from his Twitter followers alone. So perhaps his twitter followers actually think that this thing that he has sent them is a great idea, so they send it to a friend, two friends or three friends. The viral exponential factor already starts working its magic… but lets say that someone submits it to StumbleUpon or Digg, and the their own viral patterns start to build on top of this small 100-300 base click throughs. Suddenly you have created a mountain out of an ant hill.

The craziest thing about this, is that due to the way the internet naturally is a sharing device, people who will never ever meet Brian are now his number one fan. During the BarCamp we were recording and streaming the presentations. A Brian Shaler follower from Germany found out about the web broadcast and came into the web chat, this follower actually asked Brian to tell his friend (who was also a Shaler follower) that he had flown to Phoenix and had actually hung out with Brian. Crazy eh? Off of merely creating a viral platform to toss things out on, Brian has actually become internationally famous.

Besides creating that viral base for yourself, Brian also seriously recommended building your own brand of yourself. As cocky as this may seem, it really helps promote the idea of “he is someone” much like personalities such as Oprah or Michael Jordan. Then using this identity for everything that you toss out into the sea of the internet, or even in real life. Brian actually has business cards that just say “Brian Shaler” on them… on both sides, nothing else. Why? He says, “If you can’t contact me in 30 seconds using the information on that card, don’t contact me.” This very small piece of printed material just adds to the effect that Brian really is someone you should already know of.

Brian also chalks up his fame to some of the side projects he’s put effort into in the past, and believes that it’s better to have many sites to your brand with lower search rankings than one site with a high page rank. Why? Because different people have different interests and you can reach a larger, broader audience. He has recently broken out his blog from his personal portfolio site, widening his name sake that much more. But you can really see this effect in his creation crappygraphs.com. The whole site’s premise is crappy graphs that really don’t display accurate data at all, but more so a point. After creating only 20 crappy graphs, he decided to create a flash application on the site that allowed users to create their own crappy graphs and submit them to the site. After ten hours of intense manual labor over the course of one weekend, he now gave his crappy graph followers a way to really express themselves…crappily graphically. Crappy Graphs now has over a thousand graphs… why? Because of user submissions. These user submissions have been Dugg, StumbledUpon, and spread throughout the viral universe, and how did Brian accomplish this? By creating one, 10 hour application that allowed his users to express themselves.

So while the rest of us are trying to figure out the best way to market some silly viral ad campaign, Brian will be tossing links out into his twitter feed and reaping the click throughs, Diggs, and Stumbles.

** I was forced against my will to name the following links… part of the verbal agreement to be talked to by THE Brian Shaler. But do check them out anyhow. ;) You’re welcome Brian. **

For those of you who DON’T know you Brian Shaler is, check out his blog, his personal portfolio site, his famous twitter account (6k followers and counting), the ShalerJump and of course Crappy Graphs.

Dec
8

Letters from Bar Camp…

I had a GREAT TIME at the 2008 Phoenix BarCamp today! I was a little… OK maybe more like VERY nervous about having to stand up in front of people and tell them about things that I might have some expertise in. But once I saw that everyone else was just as informal, I got into the grove of things. All the discussions were very informative, some of them so much so they were over my head, but thats ok!

I’ll just go over some of the great points some of the speakers had regarding their topics and discussions. Anyone that was there, feel free to pipe in regarding what you thought was interesting, points I missed, etc.

……………………………………………………………………

Pam Slim author of Escape Cubical Nation started off the day speaking about how growing start up companies can avoid becoming the cubical corporate environments that the entrepreneurs came from to begin with. There was a fairly voiced concern from the business owners in the room regarding how to avoid becoming that which they didn’t want to employed by to begin with.

Pam offered a simple common sense approach to really keeping the soul to your company, meet and get to know your employees. That a business owner should know what his/her employees really want to get out of their time with the company, and to realize there really isn’t any binding contract for these employees to be invested in your company if you don’t return their investment by investing in your employees. She mentions that open, honest communication is key to this relationship between employee and employer.

To really spend the time to know what each of your employees is interested in and their personal investment and interest in your company. She says to build on what your employees want to learn and do, this will enforce trust in you and foster a real value of your company to your employees instead of merely being a “job”. This will help take the pulse of your company’s true interests and values from the ground up.

Understand that perhaps some of your current employees final goals in their career may mean starting their own business, or moving away from your company in some other way. Foster this growth in your employees, perhaps once they have broke out on their own they’ll send business back your way, or other potential employees that will be a great fit for your company. Make sure you aren’t buying into the mafia mentality of you’re either with us or against us, and if you leave you’re against us for sure.

Open, honest communication allows for huge growth potential in your company when your employees are allowed to honestly express their ideas and true feelings on company projects and directions. Instead of wasting six months on a dumb idea, Fred over in development, will simply be able to express… “you know that’s not the brightest idea, but I’ve been toying around with this other thing and I think it might work…”. Don’t make yourself or your employees “check their soul in at the door”, make sure everyone is in agreement that all your companies practices align with your company’s overall goals and values.

 ……………………………………………………………………

Derek Neighbors from Integrum Technologies spoke regarding rapid business growth and how your company can live through culture changes from creative culture to command culture and back again.

Derek started out with a recap of Integrum’s rapid growth due to new projects and contracts that they were taking on at a very rapid pace at the very beginning, and that when you loose sight of your company’s core values things can get messy VERY fast.  They had become a beast of command and control with sour employees.

So, once they finally realized that they had become the beast that they tried to run away from, they revisited their core company goals and values. Then they took the pulse of their employees, finding out what really motivated them every day to get out of bed and drive to work, and how those motivators aligned with the company’s goals and values. Aligning your employees goals and the company goals will make each teammate personally responsible for their part within the company, allowing for self-motivation and interest in the company as a whole. Making you less responsible to your immediate manager and more responsible to the company as a whole. Derek says, “Sometimes people have a hard time figuring out who’s the boss when they visit the office.”

Derek sighted that these key communication between employee and employer was an extremely important part of really getting back to their creative, coordinated company that they had originally envisioned. Today, Integrum is a team of eleven VERY talented, VERY driven close-nit people that get things done and done right. But, without that reassessment of their goals and how their employees fit within those goals was key to that success.

I asked Derek, as part of a fast-growing company, what can I do as an employee to help foster that feeling of a creative culture instead of a command culture. Derek’s advice was to share my opinions and ideas candidly, build team activities that bring us closer together as a whole, and become entrepreneurial within my own company (build activities to promote and foster teams and the company within itself).

What is this?

This little blog happens to be the personal ramblings of one April Holle - I'm female, outspoken, webbie, a community evangelist, and Principal of Made Better Studio. Check out the about section for more info.

What People Are Saying…