Brian Yamabe

Inefficient and Imperfect

Goals Again

What Was I Thinking? Less than 4 months ago I wrote that I was done with goals. After re-reading that post a few minutes ago, I’m not sure why I was so down on goal setting. I said there were a lot of big goals I didn’t achieve and yet I was still happy. That is still true, but I’m not sure why I felt that not setting goals was the way forward.

Even though the big goals weren’t accomplished, a lot of the things that made me happy were goals as well. Going to church every Sunday, teaching the girls the Small Catechism, going to the gym everyday, building a robot with Emiko. Those were all goals that I set and achieved and are some of the things that make my life so good.

Maybe it was the big goals I was talking about. May be it was THE goal. The goal of making a living as an independent software developer. It’s been the goal in the background of my whole career. I was looking through some old list of goals and I found in a file of 2008 goals and I bet I hand wrote it as a goal at least 5 years before that. Even as I think about my 2015 goals, this is still the goal that influence a large part of my thinking.

Time to Step Out of the Shadows I’m going to stop kidding myself that this is going to go away. Even if it gets pushed to the back burner, I’m going to acknowledge that is what is going on. Even if I’m making no progress, I’m going to say it’s a goal I’m making no progress on. It has to be a goal I can fail at for it to be something I can succeed at.

2015 is a year where a lot of things I work on go towards the long-term goal of making a living as an independent software developer. I have some ideas for videos. I have some ideas for apps to build with my daughters. I have ideas for this blog. Connecting short-term actions with this particular long-term goal is challenging. I need to be more explicit when I determine the short-term goals and plan the specific actions.

I think a key for me will be to make small, steady progress and to document it. Even if it’s 20 years from now, if I make consciously directed small steps toward the big goal, I’m going to get there. Or if not, I’ll be a lot closer than if I never took any steps.

Podcasts

I’ve been listening to podcasts since about 2005. Looking back there are a lot of similarities to what I listened to back then and what I do now. Technology, small business, productivity, and theology were and still are the general areas of focus. But the specifics are quite different. In technology I used to listen to a lot of web design and web programming shows and now it’s iOS development and Apple related technologies. In small business I used to follow people doing startups and now it’s more solo and lifestyle entrepreneurs. The productivity space is a lot different. And finally the theological podcasts which had an American Evangelical bent is now overwhelmingly Lutheran.

Besides the diversity of content that podcasts provide, I appreciate the diversity of formats. There are news shows, topical shows, interviews, roundtables, single hosts, multiple hosts, rotating hosts, and shows that rotate their format from episode to episode.

Manipulation Free Marketing

Everything I understand about marketing is quid pro quo. I have never heard it described in any terms that didn’t come down to manipulation. Content marketing is giving people useful content so that they will trust you and buy your product or service. Email list building is giving away something of value so people will sign up to your list and you can then monetize them. Gary Vaynerchuk has something close to being palatable when he talks about giving away things with value (jabs) and not expecting anything for any one individual in return, but ultimately gives those things of value away expecting that at least some individuals will respond to his offers (right hook).

So how do I propose to do manipulation free marketing? For one, I’m not sure what I plan on doing can be called marketing. And second, I’m not sure if it will “work” – meaning aid me in reaching my $2000 / year definition of success. The plan is to give a lot of useful stuff away and sell a few useful things. Like I said, I don’t know if you can call that marketing or if it will work, but that’s all I feel comfortable doing.

This is really all I’ve ever done and it’s never worked at a large scale before, but I have an idea to give things away more consistently and I think that consistency will be the key. So what are these things I plan to give away? First is a podcast and second are small iOS apps.

I don’t have a timetable yet for either of these things but this really is the only kind of marketing I can live with.

Unprofitable Niche

In my last post I mentioned that I was focusing on a niche that is not known for being profitable. The niche I’ve chosen to serve is the devotional and educational needs of orthodox, liturgical Christians.

I have no illusion that this area is going to make me rich, but since I’m a member of this niche I know how much we could benefit from a wide range of resources and the satisfaction in serving this group is worth more to me than the profits. Plus, I do believe this niche can support the $2000 in revenue a year that I defined as success.

What are the next steps? Product creation and marketing. I have very specific ideas I want to test for both. The product has an actual business model and the marketing effort is something I could actually get behind (doesn’t just feel like sales).

Do you have an idea for a technology product that could serve the devotional and/or educational needs of Christians? Shoot me an email at (brian@yamabe.net)[brian@yamabe.net] or tweet me @byamabe.

Getting Down to Business

How does a husband and father of two with a full-time job, elder at his church, and various other responsibilities start and grow a business in a niche which is not perceived to have a highly profitable user base? I don’t know, but that’s the journey I want to go on and document.

I’ve been walking on and around this path for a long time. I’ve created apps with no business model. I’ve done consulting with no long term plan for where to go. I’ve brainstormed and daydreamed. I’ve come to realize that this direction is where I’ve always headed, it’s just my definition of success that has needed clarity. At this stage in my life, with the commitments I have, success would be being able to pay for the development tools and software I use and honing my skills so that my technical chops are up-to-date if I were to lose my current job. On the revenue side that would entail generating about $2000 a year. On the skill side that would mean being skilled in a development environment other than Java.

That’s the introduction. Let’s see where this goes.

Erroneous Comments

I am more and more becoming aware that when I make poor comments, especially when responding online, I have been blinded by some preconceived notion about the argument the other person was making and not addressing what the author actually meant.

Most recently I asked the author of an (article on Swift)[http://owensd.io/2014/08/28/tuples-new-struct.html] why he used tuples instead of multiple return values. Well, if I had done a little more digging I would have noticed that multiple return values are tuples. But when I originally read the article, I saw the named elements of the tuples in his example and didn’t connect that the multiple return values were tuples. Looking back it was quite clear, but I just missed it. Yes, I look foolish, but because I asked the author a question, at least I don’t look like a jerk.

I remember a couple of occasions online where I commented with my own arguments and looking back I didn’t fully comprehend the authors points and my own arguments just made me look like a loudmouth.

So, the lesson is to really dig a little deeper on an article you want to comment on. See if you truly understand the problem or issue the author is trying to address. Then if you still have a problem with their point of view, ask a question. Never assert your own arguments, especially online.

45 and Done With Goals

I got an email today about having goals that inspire you. At least a couple times a week I hear a podcast or read a blog post about goals. What do you want to do? What makes your heart soar? What speaks to you? What can’t you stop thinking about? It’s this inwardly focused goal setting that I’m burnt out on.

I’ve dreamed of the big career, big money, independence, blah blah blah. But I’ve never followed through on the goals I set to achieve those things. Why? Mostly because they aren’t the things that are important to me. I’ll take a few steps on the path to the “big goals” and then jump off the path to attend to what my wife and daughters need. I learned very early in my marriage what focus on your career can do (80+ hours for months at a time) and I never want to do that again.

If my employment situation changes it might be necessary to compromise on some the family stuff I’m able to attend to, but I’ll talk to my girls and we’ll make a decision together as to how to proceed.

I’m 45 today. I can look a lot of the goals I’ve set in the past and see that I haven’t accomplished them, but I couldn’t be happier with where I am. I have a wonderful family, a nice place to work, and a Savior who continues to deliver His gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation.

American Ninja Warrior

I was a fan of the original Ninja Warrior show from Japan and while I’m still partial to the motherland version, American Ninja Warrior is very enjoyable as well. That said, at the 2:50 minute of the video below, is the most amazing feat of creativity and athleticism I’ve seen on the either incarnation of the show and maybe ever.

Thanks

The TouchID on my iPhone has been flakey for the last month so I took it to the Apple store and I got a replacement with very little hassle. The whole experience is why I stick with Apple products. I rarely have problems with any of my devices, but when I do I know where to go for support.

Keep Starting

I broke my habit chain in several areas yesterday. I was on a pretty good role for me, but the last day away on vacation got me out of a productive mindset. I’ve often stewed on failures like this and finally kicked myself into action after a few days/weeks got me feeling guilty or some external trigger got me to try to create another good chain. Or I would try to start the chain again right away, but the guilt of just having broken it would eat at me and I’d end up with a cluster of chains that were 1 or 2 days long.

This time I’m just going with the mindset that I will break the chain occasionally, but I’m going to keep getting better and have longer ones. I just need to start a new one right now. Not put it off, try to justify my failure, or any other kind of excuse; just start again. Of all the productivity tips I know, the one that hits closest to home is to just keep starting. Fail at something, just start again. Succeed at something, start again. Don’t like the outcome of something, start something else. Spinning on anything isn’t going to move you forward. It really is as simple as “keep starting.”