Sunday, 20 March 2005

Make Meaning

There really is only one question you should ask yourself before starting any new venture:

Do I want to make meaning?

Meaning is not about money, power, or prestige. It's not even about creating a fun place to work. Among the meanings of "meaning" are to

  • Make the world a better place.
  • Increase the quality of life.
  • Right a terrible wrong.
  • Prevent the end of something good.

Goals such as these are a tremendous advantage as you travel down the difficult path ahead. If you answer this question in the negative, you may still be successful, but it will be harder to become so because making meaning is the most powerful motivator there is.

It's taken me twenty yeas to come to this understanding. [Guy Kawasaki - ]

For six months I've tried to answer that question. I've thought about the times I was happiest in my life. I realize that I am happiest when I am teaching and inspiring people to do something they consider impossible. That is my purpose in life.

What should I teach? I've thought about teaching technology, but that bores me to tears. One of the few good teachers I've had was my high school chemistry/physics teacher Mr. Seela. He won Iowa Teacher of the Year for 2004 and he deserved it. Mr. Seela was one of the few people who never gave up on me in high school. No matter what I did, he kept trying to reach me. I've thought about following in his footsteps and teaching high school science. But the pay sucks. And the system sucks. Mr. Seela deserves to make 10 times what he makes but most of my other teachers should not be allowed within 100 yards of the nearest classroom.

When I was younger I dreamed of being a software developer, a Navy SEAL, or a Navy fighter pilot. At one point I planned to become all three - a real life MacGyver if you will. Eventually I realized one of my dreams. I became a software developer. I should be happy right?

Last year I realized that writing code to make someone else more profitable, by making banks more profitable, isn't that fulfilling. That's when I decided to go into business for myself. I thought that if I chose the products I worked on, I could make meaning with the products I created. But the idea of writing code in my spare time doesn't appeal to me anymore. I want new challenges. More importantly, I want to spend more time working with people than I do working with machines.

Then I remembered one of the other passions from my youth - flying. I've thought about becoming a flight instructor in the past, but like many teaching professions, the pay sucks. But I see ways to change that. And I want to change it. I want to change the way the flight training industry works. I want to find a way to make flight instructor the premium position in the aviation industry. I also want to find a way to reach kids that are like I was in school. I know that Mr. Seela could've reached me by teaching me to fly. That would have been the motivation I needed to live up to my potential in school. I know that there are kids out there like me, who need something to focus their attention. I know that through flight instruction, I can change the world. And who doesn't want to change the world?

So thanks David Seela. Thanks Guy Kawasaki. Thanks Robert Scoble. Thanks Steve Pavlina. Thanks Dave Winer. Thanks Adam Curry. Thanks Eric Sink. Thanks Jon Udell. Thanks Seth Godin. Thanks Jack Canfield. Thanks Harvey Mckay. Thanks Duane "Dog" Chapman. You have all inspired me to change the world.

03/20/2005 11:16:06 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

 Sunday, 30 January 2005

Design Magazines

From the Department of Broader Horizons I bring you two excellent design magazines:

01/30/2005 21:04:31 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

 Tuesday, 18 January 2005

The best is the enemy of good

Joost Ronkes Agerbeek is documenting his experiences as he readies his first product for release. In his latest post he discovers that some times good enough is, well, good enough. This is a lesson that I am reminded of by my current employer every day. In fact, if you plan to start your own software business I recommend you work for a small ISV for a couple of years first. Or better yet, start your own ISV today and document the process the way Joost is. You are bound to learn a lot that way too.

01/18/2005 06:50:42 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

 Friday, 14 January 2005

Use LinkedIn to connect to other microISVs was started to provide an online community where all of us with similar interests can congregate and share and learn. After a few emails, several of us thought it would be good to facilitate networking and communication among the community using

If you’re interested, head over to and sign up and send me an invitation. Find me by searching for ‘brian microisv’. My email is brian at you can guess dot com. Be sure to include the word microISV in your Groups and Associations. [microISV]

You can use my WEBLOG at {my domain} email address to send me an invitation.

01/14/2005 16:12:10 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

 Saturday, 13 November 2004

Benefits of joining the Association of Shareware Professionals

Here are a few of the questions I was going to ask on the ASP newsgroups:

  • Is anyone using ClickTracks?
  • How many support requests do you get per sale?
  • Do you limit the support you provide?
  • Do you use demonstration videos?

But I didn't have to ask any of these questions. After a quick search of the newsgroups I found that these questions have all been asked before.

11/13/2004 00:30:43 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

 Thursday, 11 November 2004

Why isn't Microsoft a member of the Association of Shareware Professionals?

Speaking of the ASP, why isn't Microsoft a member? It seems like a natural fit. Inquiring minds want to know.

11/11/2004 21:24:37 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

Join the Association of Shareware Professionals today!

If you are in the shareware industry you must join the Association of Shareware Professionals now. After just one day I have learned enough to justify the membership fee.

The member-only news groups are amazing. They have the highest signal to noise ratio of any online community I have ever seen.

For the cost of just two typical programming books, you will have access to some of the most successful shareware developers in the world. Seriously, go fill out the application right now.

11/11/2004 21:14:17 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

 Wednesday, 10 November 2004

FRONTLINE: The Persuaders

Americans are swimming in a sea of messages.

Each year, legions of ad people, copywriters, market researchers, pollsters, consultants, and even linguists—most of whom work for one of six giant companies—spend billions of dollars and millions of man-hours trying to determine how to persuade consumers what to buy, whom to trust, and what to think. Increasingly, these techniques are migrating to the high-stakes arena of politics, shaping policy and influencing how Americans choose their leaders.

In "The Persuaders," FRONTLINE explores how the cultures of marketing and advertising have come to influence not only what Americans buy, but also how they view themselves and the world around them. The 90-minute documentary draws on a range of experts and observers of the advertising/marketing world, to examine how, in the words of one on-camera commentator, "the principal of democracy yields to the practice of demography," as highly customized messages are delivered to a smaller segment of the market. [PBS]

This documentary both disturbed and inspired me. My head is still spinning. I liked it so much I quit playing Halo 2 early last night so I could watch it. It will be online Friday. You should check it out. I've got it TiVo'd and I plan to watch it again in a few days.

11/10/2004 22:15:05 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

Introducing Griffith Software

I'm starting my very own Micro-ISV. Over the next few months I'll post about my thoughts, the challenges I face, the decisions I make, and the mistakes I make. At some point, if I work hard and get lucky, I hope to post about my successes too.

11/10/2004 22:04:22 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback