Category Archives: PersonalOpz

National Entrepreneurship Month

National Entrepreneurship MonthNational Entrepreneurship Month just ended but I believe that every day is a great day to start, build, and grow a business. With that in mind PersonalOpz is extending entrepreneurship month through December! (Gotta make money to pay for all of that holiday shopping right?)

Look for a lot of content posted every day. I have a backlog of entrepreneurial advice gathered from my favorites lectures and podcasts that I will be rolling out throughout the month. There will also be a few books being launched that you can receive for free by signing up for the mailing list (look right).

Learn by DoingStart off the month by downloading the ebook Learn by Doing for free. It is a collection of advice from truly amazing entrepreneurs such as Ben Horowitz (Andreessen Horowitz), John Collison (Stripe), and Joshua Reeves (ZenPayroll).

To make sure that you remain productive this month I challenge you to write down one big goal you would like to accomplish during the month. Write it down on paper and tape it above your desk. After doing that break down the steps you need to do to achieve it. First the large steps (weekly) and finally the smaller steps (daily). Now you have a plan to make sure that you finish the month off with solid progress and build some great momentum into the new year.

Have a productive and rewarding month!

We Can All Change the World

We Can All Change the WorldI am pleased to announce that the latest edition of my notes on Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders is ready. You can download We Can All Change the World: Notes on Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Volume 9 for free right here.

Alternatively if you were to purchase it through Leanpub all royalties will be donated to Oxfam America which is helping the earthquake victims in Nepal right now. Your support would be greatly appreciated.

This book contains notes on lectures by:

  • Matthew Rabinowitz (Natera)
  • Padmasree Warrior (Cisco)
  • Cyriac Roeding (Shopkick)
  • Steve Teig (Tabula)
  • Bill Drayton (Ashoka)
  • Scott Harrison (charity:water)
  • Mike Olson, Ping Li (Cloudera)
  • Sharon Vosmek (Astia)
  • Halle Tecco (Rock Health)
  • Dave McClure (500 Startups)
  • William Hsu (MuckerLab)
  • Gurjeet Singh, Gunnar Carlsson, Ann Miura-Ko (Ayasdi)
  • Bob Sutton (Stanford)
  • Cameron Strang, Nate Ruess (Warner Bros. Records)
  • Hemant Shah (RMS)
  • Cameron Teitelman, Joseph Huang, Milt McColl, Smita Saxena (StartX)
  • Tristan Walker (Walker and Company)
  • Sal Khan (Khan Academy)
  • Morris Chang (TSMC)
  • Ed Catmull (Disney/Pixar)
  • Linda Rottenberg (Endeavor)
  • Geoff Donaker (Yelp)
  • Leah Busque (TaskRabbit)
  • Heidi Roizen (Draper Fisher Jurvetson)

You can change the world in ways big and small, local and global, through education, friendship, business, and charity. There is no try–there is only action and a refusal to fail.

Start with a simple smile to a stranger and go from there.

Do What Makes Your Soul Sing

(This is the preface to Do What Makes Your Soul Sing which is my latest free collection of notes on the Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders series.)

Do What Makes Your Soul SingPassion is one of the most common themes in the eight years of Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders talks I have taken notes on. It is also an idea that I give a lot of thought about in my life but in a way that creates negative emotions. Why? Because much of our everyday lives is dominated by work, chores, and other obligations we are not passionate about.

With enough wealth one can offload those tasks in their lives to free up time to dedicate to the things they are passionate about. But the rest of us do not have it so easy with 9-to-5s, kids, a mortgage, and other demands on our time and resources. The question of how to integrate passion in our lives is more difficult.

Defining what you are passionate about is the the first step in answering that question. The answer to that probably lies somewhere near the intersection of two other questions: If you won the lottery and did not have to work what would you do with your days? What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

Figure out what your passion is and pursue it with a vengeance. – Melinda Gates (Gates Foundation)

If I was already wealthy I would probably fish and golf more often. I love playing with my kids. However I know I would still have the urge to create. The past fifteen years my passions have been writing, filmmaking, cooking, programming, and trying to start and grow a business. I would spend even more times doing those if I did not need to trade my time for money to support my family.

If I knew I could not fail then building a business would be the thing I would focus upon. I love the idea that you can build something that generates wealth by helping others do the same.

If you can make other people successful you can make the world a better place. – Tim O’Reilly (O’Reilly)

And you know what? I won’t fail. With a long enough time horizon I can only succeed.

Have long-term time horizons. – Stephen Cohen (Palantir)

Finding success is going to require putting in the time. Circumstance is not always forgiving to freeing up time on the calendar. Time management (read the book Getting Things Done) is important. Mood is equally important.

Choose whatever version of reality that puts you in the most useful mental state. – Olivia Fox Cabane (Author)

Don’t linger on bad decisions. – Geoff Yang (Redpoint Ventures)

Overall my advice is to indulge your passion at least once a day in some manner no matter how small. If your passion is a charity then maybe it is saving a dollar or planning a fundraising party. If your passion is fishing then maybe it is tying a fly or organizing your tackle box (I did this at least weekly as a boy). Right now I try to do one thing every day that pushes my business forward.

Doing that makes my soul sing at least once every day.

The tools used to create the PersonalOpz empire

I use empire in the loosest possible way. Compared to what was the British Empire the PersonalOpz empire might be the size of a bar stool. And an uncomfortable one at that. That shall change. By the end of the year it might be booth worthy!

Anyway, these are the tools I use on a daily basis. I’m always looking to save time and improve my workflow so don’t hesitate to send any suggestions my way. You can reach me at will at this domain.

StartOpz:

I of course have to mention my own product first! With no employees I don’t use most of the features myself but I do use the Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable modules. I utilize the email summary so waiting in my inbox every morning is a summary of what is owed and what I owe and the dates it needs to be paid by.

Asana:

I love Asana. It is finally what enabled me to get to inbox zero. Any email requiring action, that I can’t get to that day, gets forwarded to x@mail.asana.com where it automatically gets added to my task list.

I also create projects with step by step tasks for all of my processes. They are easy to duplicate and they make sure that nothing is missed.

Trello:

While I primarily use Asana for tasks, I primarily use Trello for projects. Every project gets a new board. I usually add an “Ideas” column in addition to the default “To Do”, “Doing”, and “Done”. The cards in the Ideas column get researched before getting moved into the To Do column.

Evernote:

It has been two years since I first signed up for Evernote. I’m still learning how to use it best with my workflow. As it is now I use it to save articles for reference, articles to read later, and for notes. I scan in physical notes every once in a while and take photos of recipes I want to try from magazine. There is a lot in there about places I want to travel to.

Amazon Web Services (EC2, S3, and SES):

EC2 is what I currently use for my production servers. I like the simplicity of provisioning servers as well as how well all of AWS works together. It is what I know. Unfortunately from a cost/performance standpoint the servers are a bit underpowered so I might explore alternatives in the future.

I use S3 for file storage for my web apps as well as for backup for all of my servers. Every day locally stored files are synced as well as dumps of all of my databases.

SES is the Amazon service for sending email so I have to use that for any emails that my webapps send.

Digital Ocean:

There is a reason while Digital Ocean is the fastest growing cloud host in the world. They are a pleasure to use. It is incredibly quick and easy to launch a server not to mention being very cost effective for a young business. Their guides are also very helpful.

Right now I mostly use Digital Ocean for personal and test servers (I do have one production server there) but I’m likely going to expand my use over this year.

Google Calendar:

If something doesn’t go on my calendar then I don’t attend. Every appointment, call, and webinar goes on there. Also, every birthday goes in there and every birthday boy or girl gets a personal email every year.

Github:

Up until early last year I hadn’t ever collaborated with anybody for programming. When I started I made an attempt to set up my own git repository. Then I realized that I had already wasted $7 worth of my time. I promptly signed up. Even though I’m not currently collaborating with anybody I still love using it.

VirtualBox:

I install VirtualBox on every system I use and setup Linux (I use both Ubuntu Server and CentOs). I then share my code folder from my host so that I can test code in real time in an environment that is identical to my production servers.

Sublime Text:

I used Eclipse for years on Linux (mostly) and Windows (a little). It has always done the job but the performance finally got to me after moving to a Mac desktop. I’m not great with Vim so I tried Sublime Text and it is a pleasure to use. There are a few features I miss in Eclipse but I probably just need to search the Sublime Text plugins a bit more to find what I need.

Google Apps:

A few years ago I wouldn’t use Google Apps. I spent my days in Excel and Google Sheets fell short. However it now is good enough for most of my uses with the added benefit of being accessible from any computer, tablet, or phone. I also use Google Docs to write all of my blog posts. I recommend turning off smart quotes (Tools/Preferences/User Smart Quotes) so that it is easier to copy/paste into other editors.

Google Analytics:

I’m still a analytics amateur but I’m using it on every site as well as on my LeanPub pages.

LeanPub:

I originally struggled formatting my first ebook in Word. I then stumbled upon an article that recommended using LeanPub. Once you create a new book you can choose various options as to the size, style, fonts, etc. to use. You write in Markdown in text files that you share with LeanPub via Dropbox or use a browser based editor on their website.

Kindle App on Android:

I’ve been using the Kindle App since my Kindle took an ill-fated dive from the second floor of my house. It isn’t quite as nice as reading on the Kindle but it does the job. Need to get myself another Kindle…

Dropbox/Box:

I keep my code in my Dropbox folder so that I’m ready to program no matter what system I’m on. It also is a cheap version control system (thought Github is far superior in that regard). I also sync photos from my phone and have a “to read” folder of PDFs.

Box had a special where they gave away 40 free gigs of storage space. The one caveat on their free plans is that no files over 250 megabytes will sync. I save many of my personal and business files in my Box folders.

Stripe:

Stripe is the service I use to process credit card payments. It was simple to implement (the two hiccups I did have were quickly handled in their online chat) and since them I haven’t had to think about it. Where there is a bit of extra work is if you want to send your customers an invoice you need to handle it on your side through webhooks.

Mailchimp:

I’m still new to the mailing list game. Mailchimp is very simple to use and gets the job done. There are a couple of features with the custom fields that I think could be improved but I’m sure there are reasons why they’re not. Free to start with so you really can’t go wrong.

Ideas are a Dime a Dozen

Ideas Are a Dime a DozenHappy New Year!

I hope you had a great New Year’s Eve and are looking ahead to what will hopefully be a successful 2014. I’m trying to get the year off to a great start by releasing my latest collection of notes on Stanford’s Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders series.

This volume contains notes on lectures by Steve Ballmer (Microsoft), Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), and Steve Blank (serial entrepreneur) among others.

Download Ideas Are a Dime a Dozen.

Capital is No Longer a Constraint

Capital is No Longer a Constraint CoverI’m proud to announce the completion of my second ebook which is titled Capital is No Longer a Constraint. This is a collection of notes on the Tropical Talk Radio podcast which is focused on helping people start and grow lifestyle businesses. If you’re interested in travel and building a lifestyle business you should look the podcast up in iTunes.

Download Capital is No Longer a Constraint now!

Free entrepreneurship book: Passions and Other Lessons

Passions and Other Lessons CoverThis is the 100th post on the PersonalOpz blog and in celebration I’m offering a free ebook of some of the blog posts on the Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders series. Download Passions and Other Lessons now.

Stick around for more tips on business and life. There will be more free books coming down the pike soon and mailing list subscribers will be the first to know.