A to Z Challenge: Footloose and fancy-free

Footloose and fancy-free. I progress further toward a goal I’ve been reaching for far too long to turn back now.

Flying Over Malibu

Say cheese, Malibu, CA. #nofilter

Ferrying over SoCal in an airbus always fills me with a feeling of wonder. I don’t know if that or my insistence on sitting in a window seat when possible will ever go away.

Flexing my finger to push the button on the camera phone screen at just the right moment I attempted to use the screen to frame a good shot, but I kept lifting my eyes above the phone to take in the real view before it was too late. Eventually I pushed the button.

Fortunately I took the time to crop the plane’s oddly colored wing out of this photo, just for you. You’re welcome.

A to Z Challenge: Enumeration

Enumeration keeps you alert and responsive. If you learn to recall the good things that have unexpectedly happened to you each day you will soon learn to recognize the opportunity in being prepared for the unplanned.

Each time I make plans to do something they tend to turn out differently. Instead of getting frustrated when this happens I’ve learned to just go with it. Now I either plan for change or plan to be at least open to the likelihood that things will change.

Expectation management leads to something else getting reinforced.  It’s that I shouldn’t get too attached to my plans in the first place. Life will go on if things don’t go exactly as expected. They are only plans, not an algorithm. I am not a robot and neither are others I interact with unfortunately. It’s okay and even good to explore a diversion now and again.

Eventually I’ve become more at ease with change and I even look forward to seeing the degree to which things don’t go according to plan. Many times with a new perspective, things end up better than expected.

A to Z Challenge: Done and doing

Done and doing what needs done. Like brunch… oh, and the taxes.

Done with taxes for 2013! It’s one of those things that makes me feel accomplished though no one else really cares (except for Uncle Sam). Now that I’m through filing for the year I can move to the next daunting project: document filing.  I’m trying very hard to keep all the excitement under control. I’m kidding. I have so much to distill from my multi-year collection of papers of varying relevance (read – skimmed mail placed in piles). I don’t know how long the urge to pare the collection down will last so I’ll do my best to go with it.

During the dash to the filling finish line I did delay the urge to stop and do that sorting then, so now’s the ideal time. Moving from one tedious task to another one of slightly less tedium is better than the other way around.

Dull but required tasks interspersed with fun activities, like doing brunch, and hanging out with friends at some dog-friendly places (outdoor eateries and hiking) are sure to make the next few weeks somewhat delightful.

A to Z Challenge: Can I take a moment?

Can I take a moment to detail the unique and the mundane events of the day?

‘Crazy couple of weeks’ is how I’d describe the last 14 days. Wanna know why?

‘Course you do. That’s why you’re here. The first thing is that there were two sizable earthquakes in my area. One that I felt, a 5.1, though the epicenter was not near me. The other I somehow missed completely though the epicenter was closer.  There seems to be a significant earthquake somewhere every week.  The earth is on the move, and so am I.

Cause for celebration: Taxes! Sort of. Celebrating the act of having them filed. Amidst filing them. I put off doing taxes until the end of March but I’ve started and almost finished them in a day. Then I hit a burnout point so I stopped. That was a few days ago.  I have to do 10% more and celebration #2 can begin!

Cheers to progress AND completion!



A to Z Challenge: Because, that’s why

“Because, that’s why,” is my answer to the question being asked of me all the day.

Because more doge. Obvi.

Because more doge. Obvi.
Photo courtesy http://makeameme.org/meme/because-more-doge

Believe it or not, you never told me why you’re really interested to know. This is partially why I continue to provide the most unsatisfactory of answers. Is it because you’re interested or is it to judge? To gather fodder for shaping into a grenade that you can one day lob over the fence and cause a devastation known only by those who have unwittingly made themselves vulnerable? So very vulnerable that it is without distinction from the wide-eyed innocence of a child who didn’t know any better than to think that everyone was ultimately acting for good and looking out only for the child’s best interest.

Barely a couple of months have gone by and again the question is asked. I am hesitant to respond because I know that it will not stick this time either, and a few months down the line we will come back around to this.

“But are you interested in dating? Why don’t you ever go out? You should go out if you want to meet people.”

“I do go out, but in groups. I don’t really do solo dates.”

“Why not?”

“Because.” That’s why. I can tell by the look on his face that my answer must sound ridiculous, but I say nothing further.

And the countdown clock starts again.

I’m doing the A to Z challenge: After all

After all, the Rules of our modern society are meant to follow, bend, or break.

At times I get tired of the Rules, but I see why they are necessary.  I sometimes imagine that there were no rules, and that we all did whatever we wanted, at anytime, and any place.  We’d be up close and personal with an array of people in the most unanticipated of circumstances.  Everyone would assume the speech pattern of a chronic arguer.

Apparently, we would talk more but listen less, and pay even less attention to details– significance aside. Failing to notice what we’d have in common and grow bonds from our commonality, we’d all drift away from each other, eventually finding nothing to hold us together except for a basic desire to survive. Personal space would cease to exist. Pleasantries would be ignored in favor of catering to the attention span of the youngest person around. Any semblance of order, gone. Trust, broken. Self-reliance, strengthened. Agency obtained.

All told, these Rules are all I’ve ever known. Maybe it’s time to try something new.

I’m starting a daily blog series this month for the A to Z blogging challenge. It involves focusing each post around a letter of the alphabet. I  am starting the day after April 1st, I’ll make two posts the first day. Each post after that will begin with the next consecutive letter of the alphabet. I’ll take a break on Sundays and continue until I hit Z! Are you doing this challenge too? Let me know in the comment you know you want to leave. Best efforts!


3 Things You Need for a Successful Kickstarter Campaign

I was invited to a Girls In Tech LA event a few weeks ago at Red Bull HQ, in Santa Monica. It was an amazing opportunity to check out the latest tech product showcases (like an Oculus Rift demo!) and to enjoy a panel of women who provided encouraging tips and best practices for those, particularly women, who are interested in STEM entrepreneurship. I learned some valuable things which I’ll share below plus I met a lot of smart and motivated people interested in the challenges of starting something new.

Girls in Tech LA event

Girls in Tech LA evening of awesome at Red Bull HQ in Santa Monica

Out of three panelists, including execs from Disney and Vizio, Julie Uhrman, CEO of Ouya, a company that created an open-source (Android) gaming console, took the floor for about 15 minutes and unleashed a slew of knowledge that was utterly mind-blowing. She told the fascinating story of her foray into founding a company that ultimately allowed independent game designers to get their games made for TV sets to market, and talked about using Kickstarter to achieve the funding needed.

Now I’ll share the three important tips she shared with attendees on how to complete a successful campaign on Kickstarter. I have never run a campaign on that platform myself, but she did and raised almost $1 million to boot!

Tip #1 – Be authentic/genuine. Be a real person before being a marketer. Relationships are key to being successful here. They are formed making memorable connections with people, and not by beating people over the head with your marketing message. Let people know why they should care instead of only telling them that they should.

Tip #2 – Be concise. Most people are not going to watch a 10-minute Kickstarter video with you rambling on about some non-existent project they care/know nothing about, so get to the point within the first 15 seconds!

Tip #3 – Form a community. You don’t want to do this alone. You’ll need an army of dedicated helpers and support. Save some perks to release partway through your campaign to get more people excited to be a part of your campaign. Even after the allotted time has passed, your effort doesn’t end because you’ve been funded. It’s just the first step to getting your product/project released. Now you have new customers who have just given you their hard-earned money. You have people that you can form great relationships with who will be glad to hear about your progress and help you spread the word about your forthcoming project.

Sounds simple doesn’t it? The reality is that it isn’t easy. Running a successful campaign is like a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll need endurance to get to the finish line, but it’ll be worth it.

I hope you’re encouraged by the tips above if you’re looking to do a Kickstarter (or one of the 100 other crowd-sourcing fundraiser sites). If you do one that gets funded feel free to share your tips below! Oh, I also live-tweeted this event. You can check that out on my Twitter @SoCalMad (Feb 18) or by following the Twitter hashtags #gitla2014 or #girlsintechla.

Robert Finley

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