Long time no speak, it has been a month of Sundays, How the hell have you been? The list goes on and on, all things that you say to a friend that you have not seen or spoken to in awhile. It has been in the back of my mind that it has been awhile since I posted something to my blog, and I knew it was something that I wanted to do, but everything else just seemed to take priority over this.
Back when I started this blog two plus years ago, I made it a point to blog several times a week. I had plenty of spare time then, I was not that busy at work, so I managed to multitask my responsibilities at the time and blogging, it was a win win situation for me. As time passed, I could not keep up the pace, and fell to once or twice a week. Before I knew it, I was blogging once every two weeks and then it happened. I got so busy with everything else in life, that I just turned a blind eye to blogging and before I knew it, it had been over two months.
WOW, a lot has gone on in the last two months. Here is a summary of things that I have been up to, in no particular order:
- Competed in another race, it was a four mile obstacle course (the obstacle course at Quantico Marine Corp base), it was a lot more difficult that I would have ever imagined. I fared way better than I thought I would, I even finished in the top 20% (go me!). I made it a goal of mine at the beginning of the year to compete in 4 races, and I have two under my belt already, and I am signed up for two more and am considering adding one or two more.
- After a year long hiatus, I am back to brewing beer. I found that brewing beer is like riding a bike, you never forget it. I must say, after a year long break, this batch may be my best ever.
- Lastly, and probably what I have spent the lion share of my spare time on; I launched a side project called www.tweetmart.com. In short, it is a classifieds site for Twitter. You can search items listed for sale, you can post something you want to sell, you can search job openings or you can post a job. It is all done via Twitter, so if you post something, the application will send a Twitter message out on your behalf to all those that follow you. In addition to that, the application searches Twitter for all things that are posted for sale and all jobs, and display them in a nice easy to read format on the site. I think it is a pretty cool site (but I am a bit biased) so check it out if you get a chance.
I am sure that I am missing a few things here, but those are the main things I have been occupied with (of course it goes without saying that I spent a great deal of my time with my wife and four kids, and let me just say that raising four kids is a full time job). Anyways, I hope that I will not stay away as long from blogging this time, but it is hard to say what tomorrow (and the next day) will bring.
Support systems, sometimes they are very visible and apparent, other times they are behind the scenes. Whether they are out in the open or are discretely hidden behind something else, their importance is still the same. Without a solid support system, things are destined to fall over, to fail, to collapse. Support systems are there for the trying times, when things are being tested to their maximum, stressed beyond belief, support systems hold everything together.
I was reminded this weekend how important my support system was, and got a good view on other’s support systems as well. See, several months ago, I decided it was high time for me to get back into shape, and what better way to get motivated than to sign up for a half marathon. Well this Sunday was the race, and my family cam out in full force to support me. Along the race, I passed several onlookers, families who were there to support their loved ones as they ran the race. They placed signs along the course, held signs as people passed by, yelled words of encouragement to not only their loved ones, but to all the racers.
Trust me, if you have never run a long distance race, there are times when you are questioning why you are out there, why you are putting your body through this pain. At these moments, hearing words of encouragement from strangers can help lift the spirits, help you take another step forward. I am thankful for all of the well wishers along the way, but what got me to the finish line was know that my wife and four children were waiting there for me. They were all excited to see me cross that finish line. They have supported me over the last several months in my training, and they were there to share with in the excitement with me as I crossed the finish line. I could not have made it through the training without them, and I definitely could not have crossed the finish line without them being there. There were moments that I just wanted to call it a day, but the thoughts of my support system kept me going. Little did they know that by simply being there that they were what was getting me through the race.
I am eternally eternally grateful for being blessed with a wonder wife and family, the best support system a guy could ever ask for.
This morning, as I was leaving for work, my daughter Maris told me that she was going to go to the window to watch me leave. This is not the first time that she, or any of the other three for that matter, have done this; but for some reason this morning it really touched me. Seeing all four of my children at the dining room window, waving goodbye to me and telling me that they love me made me realize (not that I have not realized this before, but) a few things. One, how proud I am of them and how proud I am to be their father. Secondly, it made me realize that these moments are short lived, that before I know it, they will no longer be coming to the window to wave goodbye, they will either have other things going on, or even worse, they will be out of the house.
In life, things happen so quickly, that before you know it, things are gone. If you blink, you miss out on your opportunity to cherish the small things. But that is just life, you need to slow down and cherish the small things, before they are no longer there.
The same thing can be said about your career, or your company, just about anything. You really should take the time to relish in the accomplishments, share in the camaraderie of launching a new product, enjoy every moment of your career and the things you share with those around you. After all, you spend at least a third of your days (at least the work week) with the people around you, take the time to enjoy them and all that you do, because before you know it, those small things too will pass and you may have missed out on some really important things.
Life is short, get as much out of it as you can. You get one shot at it, make it count.
I do not do this very often (not sure why, but I don’t), but I wanted to take the time to blog about work specifically. In case you have forgotten, I work for this little cool startup (at least we like to think so) called Mixx.com. Here at Mixx, one of the things that we pride ourselves on is our level of engagement with our user community. In this day and age, you can find countless examples of how companies are engaging their users in new and interesting ways, that they have an open line of communication with their users, blah blah blah and so on and so on. Yes, we can say all that too, and it is all true. However, last week I think we took that level of engagement to a whole new level.
Let me set this up by saying that it is not uncommon for us to exchange e-mails with our users, hell we even get phone calls from some (you know who you are) and we even engage in a little tomfoolery with them from time to time. Several months ago, a group of our users thought it would be a good idea to see who could come up with the funniest picture of me. Trust me there were plenty, but one in particular took the cake. I was a good sport and went along with it, knowing full well that after it’s 15 minutes of fame, I would never have to worry about it again. Boy was I sadly mistaken. For whatever reason (unbeknownst to me), someone decided to wake the sleeping giant. This time around, I figured well those that live in glass houses should not cast stones, so I took t upon myself to have a little fun of my own. In kind, I produced a picture that was equally as funny. I could not just stop there, so I decided to submit the photo to Mixx and to tweet it out to all of my followers. Well, needless to say that sparked a little battle and before I know it, the original picture of me was being retweeted all over the Twitterverse, and by some very influential people (social media speaking of course). It was all in good fun, everyone got a good laugh, no harm no foul.
In running a company, whether it be online or off, engaging your users is critical to your success. After all, they are ultimately the ones who wind up paying your bills, keeping your company alive and successful. Finding new ways to engage them and stay connected is sometimes hard, but every once in awhile it happens by shear accident and is a huge success. Am I advocating that you engage in the sort of shenanigans that I found myself in (perhaps not if you are the faint of heart type), but there is no rule that says you should not or cannot have a little fun with your users. We sure do, and it works.
In case you were wondering, here is the original pic of me and the one I retaliated with. ENJOY!