PowToon: Making my AppSumo addiction worth it


I admit it.  I’m an AppSumo addict.  For those of you that are unaware, AppSumo is not precisely a daily deal website but they push out deals on things that would be appealing to entrepreneurs, creators and technology oriented folks. I admit I am a complete sucker for a lot of these deals.  I have bought courses on marketing, I’ve bought Piktochart (which I’ve covered previously to rapidly develop infographics) and a whole host of other things here and there.  Recently though I had a deal on an app called PowToon.  Powtoon is a web based tool much like Piktochart, only what it does is it enables you to build out fairly professional looking cartoons that you can then use to drive home messaging.

One of the things that got me to pull the trigger was a conversation that we had recently. We were doing a review of our marketing materials with the product marketing director for Salesforce and while he was very impressed with our infographics, a lot of which was developed right out of Piktochart, he said we really didn’t have anything that spoke to the emotional side of people. Everything we had was very data driven. We didn’t have anything that was funny, or inspiring, or made people care for reasons other than sheer weight of the numbers.

Timing is everything sometimes and so when we got offered a deal to buy a year’s subscription to PowToon, I did. I thought I’d share with you my first draft of what we developed and then I’m curious what other people’s reactions ire.  It’s really kind of a unique way of presenting things and very user friendly. To put it in perspective, my first time out with what I’m about to share took about two hours to make on Independence Day eve while we were sitting around with family watching TV. So it’s really easy to use and there’s not a lot of ramp up time in developing it. I’d love to hear what everyone thinks.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Easing the transition from vacation back to work

Back form vacation

I take the first week of July off every year and one of the things that I try to do every time is make sure that I take as much of that week actually off as possible. I try not to do too many calls and I keep correspondence to a minimum because I want to come back refreshed and having really felt like I spent some time away and maybe even missing work a little bit. I was able to do that this time around and the challenge then becomes: how do I get back up and running after I’ve been missing in action for a week? So I’ve got kind of three things that I do to make sure that I can hit the ground running.

  1. The first is that in the same way that I try to makes sure that I’ve prepared well for leaving, I try to make sure that I come back well. That means that I don’t make my entryway back into the work-a-day world a distraction for the other members of the team.  I don’t want to have people have to take unnecessary time to bring me back up to speed. So one of the things that I’ll do is the Sunday night before I come back into work, I’ll send out a few notes to key people to get a gauge from them as to when is a good time for me to touch base with them. This way they have an opportunity to work it into their schedule and I actually make that entire Monday an open day if possible. I try not to have any calendar appointments on the day that I come back because I recognize that a lot of that day is going to be spent getting up to speed.
  2.  The second thing I do is I try to have a creative project as something to work when on when I come back.  I think one of the really neat things about vacation is it gives you the chance to separate a little bit from the daily grind. One of the advantages of that is it enables you, if you embrace it, to take a little bit different perspective on the way that you work. I want to try to take advantage of that to the degree possible. So I’ll try to use my time away as an opportunity to maybe think outside the box or maybe to take a new approach to a problem that has been a plaguing the office for a while.
  3. The last thing I try to do is I try not to sprint back. I think that one issue that a lot of us have is you don’t want to miss too much time away from the office.  If you’re a hard charger, the temptation is to always go, go, go. I almost feel that if you run too fast in the days right after you get back from the vacation you miss some of the opportunity to take advantage of the separation that I was speaking of earlier from the office. So I try tom the first few days that I’m back, take things in and see if that fresh perspective enables me to think about something differently.  A lot of what I’m trying to get out of coming back is ensuring that I take advantage of the opportunity to use that fresh look and fresh perspective to my advantage rather than trying to buckle myself right back into the grind.

If anyone else has any tricks or tips they use for coming back from vacation or ways that they try to leverage their time away from the office, I’d love to her them.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Maintaining good habits as easy as 1,2,3

good habs

Over the last few years I’ve gotten a bit better at seeing things through, disciplining myself to overcome some bad habits, and stick with my habits that I’d like to hang on to.  Today I thought I’d share a few of the things that I think are helping me accomplish that objective. The first of which is regularly scanning my environment for habits gone awry.  Many of you know I’ve recently changed my eating habits quite a bit. I’ve also focused in on how I stay organized for example I’ve worked to keep a cleaner desk and for better or worse I’ve pretty much been able to stick to those items. However, it hasn’t been without some setbacks. There are few things I like to do to make sure I stay on track.

  1. One of the things that I think is really important is to monitor yourself. I think you need to really assess on a regular basis whether or not you’re holding tight to things that were important enough that you worked really hard to develop some better habits around them.
  2. The second is that I’ve tried not to beat myself up too much when I do slip.  I think it is important to evaluate yourself on a regular basis but I think, at least for myself, there’s a subconscious block against doing that if you get too hard on yourself with the results. I try to treat the results as a basis for moving forward and an opportunity to improve.  Evaluating yourself on the basis of have you 100% of the time achieved what you wanted to achieve in life is way too high of a standard, at least for me.
  3. The third thing that I do is if I notice that I’ve slipped in an area and I need to bring that habit back up to par, I make a note of it. Then I put it somewhere like on my desk, on a post it note, just someplace that I’m going to be regularly reminded of it so I can focus in on it.  It’s not that I’m stepping right back to the beginning of where I was originally but I think when you notice that you’ve slipped a little bit in a particular area where you’ve worked really hard to improve, it makes sense to focus in on it to remind yourself of it. So for me that can be as simple as if it’s a work thing, a little post-it on the edge of my screen is all it takes. Oftentimes one word is enough just to remind me. Just having something in my face on a daily basis like I need to clean my desk when I leave the office or I need to complete my getting things done list before I leave the office; whatever it is that triggers to me that it is important.

So I’m curious how other people maintain good habits over long periods of time.  That’s my simple formula.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Understanding the value of your everyday organizational decisions

7-8-13

One of the things that I believe most organizations could do a better job of is explicitly understanding what decisions they need to make.  Now most organizations certainly understand that they need to make decisions. They may also understand what information goes into those decisions fairly well. They may even have some standard reports available to support them but what I don’t see very often is a decision register or an explicit listing of all the decisions that a specific organization or a specific role is responsible for.

I think that’s a big weakness because it’s very hard to do decisions support, develop meaningful business analytics, or generate a return on investment on a decisions support or business intelligence system when you’re not sure what decisions need to be made in anything other than a general sense.  You don’t understand what the value of those decisions is to the organization. By value I mean if you’re going to spend hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars on a decisions support system, you should understand what the real value of making those decisions is to your organization; otherwise it’s going to be hard to sustain that program over time.

I think it’s worth taking a few minutes and looking at it because if you’ve been in an organization a long time you probably know in your head what those decisions are. You just need to take the time to run down that list, vet it with a couple other folks, and already you are much farther along than you otherwise would be in terms of understanding how your organization works. You can work forward from there to develop the informational inputs that support those decisions to develop business intelligence, or analytics to support those decisions but it all starts with knowing what they are and what they are worth to the organization. So this was just something that is simple that I was thinking about that we could all do a better job of and will have a large impact on an organization.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Using local sports to expand your network

sports and netwoking

The other night I had the opportunity to go to the Inaugural Monumental Sports and Entertainment Business league event at Verizon center and I think it’s a really interesting and exciting concept.  As happens in any medium to large city, you end up over time doing business with the same network of folks that you know and for better or for worse you stay within those networks. There’s a lot of benefits to that. It’s great to do business with people that you’ve known a long time and that you trust but it can be a bit limiting. The problem is that it’s hard to meet the right kinds of folks that you’re going to want to work with going forward and I think that is the neat thing about something like the Monumental Sports and Entertainment Business League. What they’re trying to do is draw on the fact that they’ve got a ready built community of people that share a common bond or common passion for something and in this case its hometown sports whether it’s the Capitals, the Wizards, or the Mystics. It’s a shared passion for something that gives you that sort of immediate common bond with other people.

I never thought about it this way but when they were opening up the event they were talking about the fact that Verizon center was the largest gathering point for people in the area. There are so many people that are so passionate about their hometown sports it does provide a sort of unique opportunity to group people around that and expand your network.  I know that as you meet, greet, and talk to different people it’s amazing how the fact that you have that common bond eases you into making some of the normal hurdles you associate with understanding where other people are coming from as a business standpoint easier to overcome.

Now I don’t know if there are other teams around the NBA or NHL who do this but I think it’s just and absolutely incredible concept. I’m excited to get to the next event and continue to meet some of the great people that I met at this past event.  So I’m curious as to what other people’s experiences were at sort of closed community network events. What other types of shared passions have helped bond together communities around something where the purpose of that event is one part whatever that activity is and the other part is about the networking and expanding your circle of folks that you may want to do business with?

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.