Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Making education Fun

Friday, February 10th, 2012

The game I am co founder of Tune Hopper Just received an awesome review on Appolicious!

My favorite part
Jessica Daily says, “Ah, why isn’t all education so enjoyable? While aimed at kids there’s no reason someone new to music or trying to learn an instrument couldn’t use this to start learning music theory.”

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Let Me Help You Start Up!

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Let me help you start up your Startup!

Some work I have been doing recently:

  • Business development helping engineers, artists and visionaries monetize their interesting ideas
  • Designing Pitch decks that get the attention of Venture Capitalists
  • Pitching those ideas that I believe in to the Venture Capital firms
  • Creating highly detailed design documents for programming outsource
  • UX design for mobile projects
  • Architecture design for large online systems
  • Hiring of staff from Programmers, Accountants, Legal, Artists, Designers

email me at myname @ myname .com or call me at 512- 750 -9220

I love to help you make your dreams come true.  I think big and help people structure their ideas so they can grow.  See my recommendation page.  Also google me or facebook me to talk to people that know me…  Since it is best to always check references.  I prefer clients that do!

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Capture the flag!

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

If you come to a discussion with a set position you turn the discussion into a game of capture the flag.

The goal then becomes to affect the position you have staked territory on.  This greatly limits creativity in regards to end goals.

We often unconsciously do this by stating a position and settling on it before considering all of our options and talking with the people who matter most (friends, partners, employees, customers.) If you plan on negotiating from your position… you have already shot your self in the foot (going with the military strategy metaphor:-).)

Try stating things in regards to goals you would like to achieve instead of positions. Remember, it is EASY to add your favorite tactics or tools after others have contributed.  And try not to create goals that predetermine tactics. For example: “I want 10K twitter followers by tomorrow” as a stated goal instead of, “I want to have a viable two way conversation with our most influential customers.”

Don’t accidentally make tactics and tools the end goal and the primary focus for your team.  Goals are the true end game – don’t lose sight of them.

PS: Capture the flag is a great teaching tool for your troops when it comes time to determine how best to use the tools and tactics given :-) Just don’t limit them upfront!

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Starting a consultation process- framing communication

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

My top tool for framing communication with clients and partners is Google docs.

I use Google docs from the very beginning of the consultation process.  The versioning feature makes it safe for the client to feel free to brainstorm.  The commenting feature makes it even safer to ask questions without feeling intrusive.  The iterative process makes it a real exercise in a new type of “active listening.”  And because it is shared online it can be asynchronous. (Though I do wish there was a better change notification process. :-/)

Even before we do a legal doc I now create a google doc of expectations of what we will address in the legal doc.

It also makes it much easier to do NDA’s when clients can more easily post their appendixes of exceptions to my standardized doc.

Often I start the process by creating the document and sharing with the people that will need to own the process. I start with an outline based on informational interviews we have had earlier.  Sometimes I even start the document during the meeting with the client, esp. if they are new to google docs.  I can explain the use of the tool in person and this really speeds up the process of educating them. 

One nice thing about starting with an outline is that it gives structure and frame without dominating the process.  It is much easier to add to a outline than it is to rewrite more detailed text that someone else has written.

I try at first to focus on goals.  This might just be because I am a natural negotiator but I believe if we understand the true intent of all parties the rest is flexible and can change through the iterative process. Here is the order I like to use:

  1. Client/partner stated goals
  2. My interpretation of our goals
  3. Group goals (interpretations of other maybe not directly involved in process eg customers)
  4. Evaluation of value of the goal (prioritization etc)
  5. Assessment of if achieved
  6. Metric of success
  7. Constraints
  8. Deadlines

I also typically create a basecamp project immediately.  I admit I don’t often keep it updated daily but it is a good place to organize, add and assign action items in a shared, visible way.

And this doesn’t necessarily belong in this discussion… but I also typically immediately make clients create their social media presences.

This means:

  1. Checking and getting domain names
  2. Twitter accounts
  3. Facebook page
  4. WordPress blog
  5. A designer for immediate branding :-)

I move fast because there are so many evil squatters out there.  I don’t know how many times I have been playing with a keyphrase and had some jerk decide that because I just tweeted it he should have it :-/  I am pretty sure that the process is automated at this point…

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Expectations – they aren’t just your own ;-)

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Expectations:

We all have them.

We try to capture and document them.  We all hope (or assume) that we have enough common starting ground that our documentation of these expectations makes sense.

We talk about concrete things like “I will give you X percentage of X profits.”  We try to manage the informational flow with things like “The consultant has a 2 week turnaround after the deliverable  is signed off on by the project manager.”

We list Requirements, Deliverables, Benchmarks, Resources, Allocations, Budget, Schedule, Dependencies, Roles, Responsibilities and hopefully even Goals 😉  But in regards to change and expectation management we rarely talk about the other expectations…

There are so many other types expectations projected on processes that are difficult to account for.  Things like cultural and behavioral and even emotional expectations.  I have watched these kill projects and partnerships esp international ones.

And while this seems too fuzzy or emotional to address, you would be surprised at how often it happens. We human beings enjoy working with people we like and trust.  If those emotional needs are not handled they can start to cause problems in communication over Resources, Schedules, etc…  If fundamental levels of trust cannot be supported this whole glass house of partnership can begin to fail on a basic communication level of shifting sand.  Perceptive filters are incredibly important. And a negative filter will kill a project or partnership.

So being the touchy feely girl that I am, I would add to the expectation management portion – an understanding of cultural, emotional and behavioral differences.  Trust is an essential cognitive filter in regards to understanding language and communication with others.  Once it is gone it is difficult to recover a level of positive communication that is needed to handle expectations properly… probably because those “expectations” can obtain a very tarnished filter.

Projects are always risky.  You can try to enumerate the risks at the beginning.  But the true interpretation of risks in that of perception which is often colored by the belief of intent.  The real risks are the unknown unknowns that you can’t enumerate at the beginning of the project that your partners have to believe you honestly did not see.

Also emotion affects perception, if communication is hurt then you can be perceived as underperforming even when technical expectations are met.

I think this is a substantial trap that women deal with often in the work place.  I can say the exact same thing as a man.  I don’t mean I say things that have the exact same meaning… I mean I say the exact same words.  And simply because I am in different packaging ( like a dress ) it will be heard differently.  This can be positive and negative.  I have had my looks and friendly approach guarantee I don’t set off Alpha Male paranoid in regards to position.  But it also means that I have to reframe myself at times in regards to leadership roles.  Awareness is key.

At no time forget that perceptive filters are in place.   Active listening i.e. repeating back your interpretation is crucial to creating accurate filters.  As I learned in India, Also have them also repeat back to you what they understood your requirements to be.  And never forget to check in with cultural experts and liaisons…

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You’re doing it wrong!

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

“You’re doing it wrong.”  I believe is one of the most counterproductive statements a person can make.

First of all – that statement gets little accomplished.  Typically it makes the person that is “doing it wrong” dig deeper to defend their work.  Why – well they are WORKING CREATING ACCOMPLISHING.  Something is vested and so therefore I must defend that time and effort on my part that I have vested.  It is a natural and some what justifiable human response.

And it be honest, “You’re doing it wrong” is typically an inaccurate statement.  Instead it should be “I think that you are not creating what I think I want.” Or perhaps instead “you are not doing what I would do.”  And sometimes “you are not doing what 99% of the rest of the world would do.”  That doesn’t actually make it wrong…  I mean Feynman talks about science being that constant challenging of norms and experimentation.  When is something actually 100% wrong?

I strive in life to be the person that helps people figure out that instead of them both fighting over the orange.  One person wants the peel while the other needs the juice.

So I am working on this citability codeathon.  It is interesting to me that many view me as dictating a standard that is incompatible with whatever they are doing and therefore my project must be competition.  This reminds me when I was at the National NonProfit Congress and I had to facilitate a discussion between two Nonprofits that were angry that the other was “stealing their poor people.”  I view this as losing sight of the cause or the reason we do what we do.

Our mutual goal is to make data citable and therefore more accessible to the people.  There are many paths there.

For the codeathon, I have several groups that will be attending.  At first glance, it might seem we are at odds.  For example everyone assumes that Joe Carmel’s Legislink.org must conflict w Citability.  He and I talked for several hours.  They don’t.  Actually citability may make his job easier.  We both know we could never get all the govt sites to adopt citability and that makes his tool quite necessary.

Also the Coins and URN:LEX crowd, those datamarkup standards can easily be added to the citability markups.  URN:LEX isn’t for everyone since it must be created and maintained by a governmental body but there is no reason why we can’t add a special parser to citability to add those fields when they are available.  Same with the semantic web.  Citability only requires 3 things: A unique location, datestimestamp and granularity.   There is so much more to be added.  When it was created, we KNEW it wasn’t perfect.

I suppose when you start a project from a point of view where you know what you are doing is not the complete answer, it makes it easier to see adaptive solutions.

I consider what we are doing with citability to be a baby step.  I don’t consider it to be right and other ways wrong.  I typically find that if we can sit down and talk there are easily ways to make things interoperable.  I believe that citability is right for a small part of what we are trying to accomplish.  I don’t think it is perfect.  Far from it.  I think eventually we will have some fascinating structures to build folksonomies, taxonomies and ontologies on top of this esp where we can specialize for different documents etc.

I know that Tim Berners-Lee is doing a huge project in the UK with Linkeddata.  I think that is awesome.  But I’m not sure about that project being available for the City of Austin anytime soon.  I am working within some very limited constraints.  I really want him to succeed. It would make many things easier if he does.  But this doesn’t mean I stop doing what I am trying to do.  It doesn’t mean our way of doing things is wrong. Life is evolution.  We use HTML 5 and XML now :-)

But for now, I am trying to do what I believe is right for now.  Doesn’t mean I think what you are doing is wrong.  Just maybe wrong for me.  But there are so few of us creating in this space… I find it sad to argue over someone stealing their poor people…  Instead, let’s talk and see if maybe you just want juice while I am eying that orange peel.  And yes you are INVITED to the codeathon to work on your project as well just make sure it is Open Source :-)

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Women and Twitter

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

@thenextwomen: New Article: Women on Twitter for Business Reasons Why http://bit.ly/914BaD

Made me think about my gaming days… And all the discussions we used to have about women in gaming and getting more women involved in gaming.  We noticed that games with low introduction barriers were the most popular with women and captured the casual gamer market.

Two major ones that stood out to me are Solitaire and Tetris.  (I actually had a 4am discussion about this w Alexey at Burningman this year too.  I was camped at Tetrion – a very loud camp esp once the two 40ft tetris screens were setup.  We were celebrating Tetris’s 25 yr anniversary.  Henk was the initiator of the idea and got Alexey out there in all the dust and noise.)

Alexey believes (if I heard him right – it was kinda loud ;-)) that women like Tetris because you are constantly building/creating/fixing something rather than destroying.  I’d like to say that was true but I think it is something deeper than that.  At Dave and Busters, all the girls play Day of the Dead.  I think it is because the interface is quickly accessible.  Also you are cooperating with your partner.

So adoption…It also wasn’t a time issue – I noticed many women getting lost in those games for hours.

To me it all come around to interfaces… women have less patience with overly complex interfaces.  I found that on average men would spend more time trying to figure out an interface than a woman would.  Women seem to adopt faster when the interface is simple.  We know how to create the necessary social structures/rules so we prefer interfaces that get out of our way and allow us to do so.

I think that is why women love twitter and have adopted faster.

***disclaimer all of this is said in recognition of “Sparkling Generalities.”  There are always exceptions to the rules.  I am just mulling over a pattern I have personally observed.  I am very open to opposing evidence esp scientifically gathered!

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WDYDWYD part 2

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

So I ignored the signs about identity. I waffled back and forth trying to create privacy on important things like home addresses while trying to maintain my brand. In a way I was forced into it. Whenever anyone hears the name Silona and they know me – they assume it is me. It’s a reasonable assumption. But when some students of mine discovered silona.ch, I realized I had more to do. Silona.ch was a porn site for a dominatrix in the Czech Republic. Unfortunately she never showed her face and hard dark hair and a similar build to mine. Everyone seemed to believe me that it wasn’t me but.. the seeds of doubt were there. I knew I had to work more on creating and preserving my own identity. And I was tired of addressing the issue – “no that isn’t me…”

So I gave up on privacy. For me it had become a lost cause. So many sites and agencies wanted my address and phone. It had accidentally been published. So many things depended on my SSN and name. I had already been stalked once and because of that Dad and I had done concealed handgun classes together. (Yes I own 4 guns. Yes I am a Texan and a military brat.) I realized privacy as secrecy was a thing of the past – it just took me awhile to completely accept it.

I know it’s hard. I mean I do large scale databases for a living.

So I went looking for a way to fix it… my first attempt was a royal failure.  I realized things don’t just need to be available.  They need to be equitable.

As individuals, the electronic medium was forcing us to be transparent to businesses and government but they did not have to report back to us.

I decided to strive to create more equitable relationships.  Step was get government transparent… step two was business.  But I didn’t tell many people.  See in 2004 in Texas – most people already thought I was a little “unrealistic.” (to put  it nicely.)

Recently though I refocused.  Now I am focused on citations for government documents, creating citable data, and openbanking.

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Banking: 1) trust and credit

Friday, November 13th, 2009

So I keep rewatching that clip of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJJN9qwhkkE the bank run…

And I can’t help but think about how intertwined it all is.  This notion of trust and banking and how it doesn’t work without trust…

So what is trust?

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Trust

Main Entry: 1trust

Pronunciation: \ˈtrəst\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse traust trust; akin to Old English trēowe faithful — more at true
Date: 13th century

1 a : assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something b : one in which confidence is placed
2 a : dependence on something future or contingent : hope b : reliance on future payment for property (as merchandise) delivered : credit <bought furniture on trust>
3 a : a property interest held by one person for the benefit of another b : a combination of firms or corporations formed by a legal agreement; especially : one that reduces or threatens to reduce competition
4 archaic : trustworthiness
5 a (1) : a charge or duty imposed in faith or confidence or as a condition of some relationship (2) : something committed or entrusted to one to be used or cared for in the interest of another b : responsible charge or office c : care, custody <the child committed to her trust>

in trust : in the care or possession of a trustee

Wow… look at how much even the definition of trust involves banking concepts.  I didn’t expect that… Primarily because  our main usage is something a bit more amorphous.

So I turn to wikipedia for something more:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trust_%28social_sciences%29

The wikipedia page talks about  trust being more emotional and deeper than just reliance…  I believe that is crucial to understanding how the public feels in regards to the banks and the banking situation.  It is not the mere disappointment of a broken system that they rely on instead it the emotional reaction of broken trust. But why such emotion?  I mean it is just a system right?

But if I search again on the term “regaining trust”… the majority of articles are about cheating spouses.  I think this is also telling in regards to the level of betrayal people feel in regards to trust.

Banking for most of time has been a very personal relationship.  It has only changed in the past 30yrs where people no longer know their banker.  I think that emotional connection is very important in regaining trust in banking.  I do think it’s going to take some serious work to be regained much like dealing with a spouse that has cheated.

My solution… transparency.

We have to admit what is wrong and put structures in place that illustrate we won’t do it again.  I can’t help but refer again to the art of apology from theartofmanliness.com website.  We might not be responsible (after all we are creating something new.)  But it doesn’t matter.  Apologize anyhow and show how it isn’t going to happen again.  Show how and why people can trust you again.  Show them how you will protect them. So they can believe and have hope. Because in the end… it is emotional.

I think that communicating trust is going to be key for creating a new bank and it’s why I made it my first topic for my series of banking posts.

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Open Banking – Compelling arguments

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

So I have talked to many of you about Open Banking at this point.  Now I am working on a presentation for the potential clients.  I keep doing and redoing and redoing and… you get the point so

I was wondering – What you thought were the most compelling arguments about openbanking?

I’ll add in some of my own in the comments section…

help me convince them!  As I know others of you believe in this as well!

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