Important versus Urgent

One of my biggest struggles in life is to constantly evaluate what is important versus what is urgent. This is one of the things that really stood out when I was reading the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People." This is even more important in the days when time and money is quite scarce these days. While it is very exciting to work in a start up, it is also extremely busy where we are working to get us to that tipping point of making Zoocasa a sustainable business.

Unfortunately, most things in life are seemingly urgent. E-mails need to be responded to, questions need to be answered and things need to be built. Every department has their own ideas and needs. Sometimes each department has their own goals which don't align and sometimes even contradict another department's goal. Trying to please everyone or do everything is going to quickly prove unproductive.

Goals and targets are important because they ultimately decide what is important. I often like to say that if everything is important then nothing becomes important. Because it can't be. That would cause the organization to be distracted and often causes quick burn out of resources. One of the things I really like to do in planning is to assign each work item a unique priority. It doesn't mean that the team cannot work on other items first but they recognize what is important. I find it more effective to manage the team this way. I think at the day, one of the key things I try to remember is to focus on the bigger picture and not on the inane details.

Minor problems with Evernote

One of the problems of trying new technology is sometimes things fall apart in the attempt. I’ve been trying to use Evernote as the primary means of writing blog entries but I’ve run into some issues doing so. You can bet your money that Evernote is in one of my upcoming posts. Overall, a good product idea but with some minor issues partly because of how I use them. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to catch up over the next few days. I’d like to try to top the number of entries from December. From a non-blog perspective, we’re on a full court press at Zoocasa. We’ve got some big plans for Q1 2009. It’s so weird writing that year still.

Busy, busy, busy

That's sung to the tune of Money, money, money… It's even more
unfortunate when it doesn't translate to more money for me. LOL. I've
had a bit of a slow down in terms of writing blogs as it's been
incredibly busy coupled with the unmitigated disaster that has been my
personal IT infrastructure. I had an outage of a couple of days because
of it. Thankfully it is up and running now.

On a work front, work has turned out to be really busy. We have had
quite a few last minute changes in the last few iterations and we're
paying the price of it in our schedule. Hopefully with the Christmas
break, it'll give me a chance to reset the cycle and catch up.
Internally, I'd like to change how we approach our development to help
increase the quality of our releases. Frankly, the next few iterations
are going to be rocky.

After being at Zoocasa for almost 3 months, I have to say that my
feelings are mixed about it. On one hand, I work with an awesome team
of developers. For the most part, they are talented, well rounded and
quirky of course. Some of them are already excellent leaders and I hope
they continue to grow in that manner. Some of them are cowboys that I
have to constantly steer but frankly, they do awesome work. I just have
to make sure that we are aligned. Sometimes I align them and sometimes
they align me. The downside of this job is that the days are extremely
long and it takes me away from my family a lot more than I would like.

I look forward to the Christmas break as I'll be spending it with my
"kids" whom I also haven't had much time to spend with in quite a while.

Sent from my HTC Touch Pro®

Loving what you do

I've always been fascinated with people stories of courage, tenacity and honour and I came across this video while looking at a profile of someone following a friend of mine. It really blows my mind sometimes. The words that rang out to me were "it's not doing what you love, it's loving what you do." It's so impressive that someone can have made as much as he has just selling a $5 potato peeler for all these years. I hope you are as inspired by this video as I was.

Settling in at the Zoo(casa)

Let's just start this by saying that the opinions I'm about to share is not necessarily of my employers. They're simply thoughts about my job and what makes me excited about where I am.

So, for those of you who don't know, I currently work for a company called Zoocasa. It's a start-up that is fully funded by Rogers. While I know I can't share why Rogers has decided to do this, it makes a lot of sense in a positive fashion. So a month ago, I was hired on as Head of Technology/Technology Lead of Zoocasa. I'm responsible for all things technical such as technology operations, development, QA and architecture. The team is a good size – approximately 10 people large with a good range of skillsets and experiences.

The business value in itself is extremely interesting. Zoocasa markets itself as Home Search in Canada with Smarts. When I look at the site, it feels like a natural way of searching for a home. I can search by neighbourhood, try to pick out the nearest LCBO (yes, I've become an alcoholic in the past few years), the nearest restaurants and the nearest shops. It's got things like a gas mile calculator – personally I haven't used it since I'm a big transit person in general. There has been a lot of focus is trying to come up with not only features that users might find useful but also data to support those features. Definitely a lot of cool things that I like about the site.

It's been a while since I last worked for a small company like this. While it's associated with Rogers, we use very little of Rogers infrastructure (i.e. networks, mail servers, etc). It's truly a start up in most sense of the term. Where we can, we rely heavily on open source technologies, web services and web APIs. The results on the front end is a mashup of sorts. The culture here is definitely one of go-go-go. My first day here consisted of starting at 8:30 am and going through all the way to around 6:30 with a 30 minute break in between. And that was an easy day. There are no fiefdoms here – everyone does what they can to help and everyone is usually more than happy to accept the help.

There are definitely opportunities here and it'll be interesting to see how the next few months turn out.

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Swamped

I'm
into week 3 here at Zoocasa and I've been swamped! Such is the life of
working at a startup. The technology is interesting but there are
definitely growing pains. At least the work is challenging. I'll
hopefully have the time to write more about my thoughts on Zoocasa over
the weekend. In the mean time, I've completed a more complete review of
PockeTwit. Just need to do some screenshots of the app. I am getting
around to do a review of Newsgator and Bright Kite. So more to come in
the next few days.

Other randomness that's going on in my tech
life: for the life of me, I can't seem to fix the 404 error redirect on
BlogEngine. It's also I haven't had time to sit down to figure it out
either. Also put together a mini (not micro) machine. I wanted to put
together a VMWare sandbox at work. Maybe I'll write about that too.

Sent from my Windows Mobile® phone.