Launching Onceupon.io in private alpha

Onceupon.io

We threw caution to the wind, and built a quick site to test our ideas. Onceupon.io is available only for a limited group of about 80 users, friends of ours, including many writers.

We built it quickly, in a couple of weeks, using Drupal7, a powerful CMS. We’re going to see if we can motivate anyone to write for us. That will be step one.

The Beanstalk Foundation is Live!

Beanstalk Foundation Logo

After four months of learning all about Drupal, and getting re-acquainted with Apache and PHP, I’m proud to reveal the new Beanstalk Foundation website.

I was helped in crucial ways by Beanstalk’s creative director Johnny Vanderweit, wordsmith Nate Ragolia, and my old friend Mark Harris. Still, I’ve had more of a hand in every element of this website and crowdfunding platform than in anything else in years. And it was so much fun! I’ve got engine grease up to my elbows.
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3 questions you need to ask at any job interview

Photo courtesy of Faramarz Hashemi

My friend Lauren contacted me this morning, very excited. She’s got a promising interview this afternoon, so I offered her my time-tested magic interview questions. And then I thought I might as well share this with everyone.

Anytime I interview, I always bring along a list of questions to ask the interviewer. These are mostly based on my research of the job, the company, and the industry, but there are three that are always there, no matter what. They are the questions that get you hired.

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How was your weekend?

I hope you had a nice weekend, but I bet you mine was better.

I took part in Startup Weekend Denver, as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Week. The gist: Dozens of people pitch their startup ideas on Friday night, a half-dozen are upvoted, and participants form teams. Each team builds a business before Sunday night, when they present it to a panel of judges.

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Ah, but the view!

Interesting tidbit about Steve Jobs’ conversation with his friend Larry Elison about not buying Apple, and about the price of integrity:

In 95, Ellison wanted to buy Apple, so he could walk Steve back in as the new owner, and they could both make lots of money. Steve convinced him otherwise. Here’s the money quote from the Business Insider article:

Ellison thought it was stupid that some “fund manager at Fidelity” would make more money on Apple’s success than he or Jobs.
Jobs responded by saying, “I think if I went back to Apple and didn’t own any of Apple, and you didn’t own any of Apple, I’d have the moral high ground.”
Ellison’s response: “Steve, that’s really expensive real estate, this moral high ground.”

Most people overestimate the value of money. The wise know to give up a little money, or even a lot, for the infinite returns of not having to compromise.

It’s a luxury, it has a price, but it’s worth it. I’ve once walked away from a years’ salary with my integrity intact… And that has earned me goodwill and trust from some long-term business partners.

Have you ever paid the price of the moral high ground? Was it expensive? And how’s the view from up there?

Wanderjahr

The old German tradition of the “year of wandering” is just what I need right now. A sabbatical. I’ve finally quit my job at BT INS, after the eighth year in that company, to explore other things. And to recover from the constant state of quasi-burnout I’ve been in the last few years.

We’ll kick it off with a Mexico vacation, go visit my mother and father in France and Reunion Island, and I’ll finally have time to put together “The Ten Buddhist Tales”, the play that the Department of Redundancy Department has been working on for four years.

It feels good to be free.

Rallying the troops…

Had a good day. I delivered a presentation to a new client in Colorado Springs, and I’m pretty sure I blew their minds.

UX Presentation thumbnailIt’s all pretty hush-hush, but this is basically an old media company trying to break into a lucrative new growth market through the web… and I was brought in to assess their efforts.

I walked in with my 30-minute presentation, and was told the President could give me 10 minutes. So I crammed through, with more passion and less detail, and he stayed in the room for 20 minutes. Then he left, and I re-started the presentation for the executive who was the intended audience, and who had come in late. Ten minutes later, the president re-enters, along with his Senior Marketing VP, his Senior VP of Ops, and a couple of others. I felt quite vindicated!

A passionate discussion ensued. Clearly some people there were ready for change, and emboldened by my talk. Clearly the President was enjoying this.

I look forward to going back in there and stirring things up some more!

Back to my roots…

Well, it’s official! After seven years in the consulting business, I’m returning to my roots in the marketing department: I’ve switched positions at BT INS, and will be maintaining all our corporate websites. My new title: Internet Marketing Manager…

It’s going to be fun to get back to creative work, and to service. Most of all, what I’m looking forward to is being able to work in depth on a single project, for the long haul. And a whole lot of creative freedom, as long as I deliver the goods.

It’s also an exciting time to be a corporate webmaster: With blogging and podcasting coming of age, there’s a big strategic difference to be made in how this company communicates. That’s something, isn’t it? Best part, though: I get to work from home again!

Immedient becomes INS

INS logoWell, it’s nice to move to a bigger, international company, without leaving your desk. Immedient was purchased by INS (International Network Services), a consulting firm with a related, partially overlapping portfolio. INS is big in network and security consulting, and there’s a lot of cross-sell opportunities with Immedient, which is in the IT business services field. Now we can offer the network, the software, and the security all from one shop.

INS is also big, with offices around the world, although it’s not quite a true multinational yet, since the meat of the business is still in the US. Still, I’m allowing myself to dream of a return to Europe again, maybe, someday. In the meantime, for me and my team, it’s business as usual.

A chance to shine?

Immedient LogoOn this day I joined a new company, Immedient, as Information Architect. Immedient is a sizable IT consultancy, headquartered in Denver, with offices accross the country. They’ve been on an acquisition binge, recently, and the HQ is buzzing with activity. Immedient is a new name for the dot-com era. The company was formerly named Raymond James Consulting. I did some freelance graphics work with RJC a few years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. This is the job I’d been looking for, and that will allow me to truly make a difference. As a graphic designer, I was asked to put lipstick on a pig. As a developer, I was only given enough time and budget to build a pig. My hope is that as an information architect, I’ll get a chance to design a whole different animal. Interestingly, although I found this job on my own, I had to jump through some hoops to get in. That’s because my previous employer, USA.NET, is a client of Immedient, albeit in an area that is totally unrelated to the marketing group I was a part of. Immedient was consulting with USA.NET on their MS Exchange services… So I had to get my boss, the head of marketing, to sign a paper confirming that, in effect, Immedient hadn’t “stolen” me from their client. Kinda funny. It’s a strange position to be in, when you’re telling your manager: “Hey, this is my two-week notice… if you agree to it.” But everybody involved was very professional and things went very smoothly. And I’m happy as a clam in a can. Finally, a chance to shine!