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Is your work style get-it-right or git-r-done? That is, are you more process oriented or results oriented? If you’re habitually the former, chances are you pay for your obsessive tendencies with time. Remember that task you were totally sure you could bang out in one hour? The one you labored over for six? How did that happen? Sure, the final product was a marvel of perfection (or so it seemed at the time), but was it worth it?

They don’t say time is money for nothing, and tumbling down the rabbit hole without regard for the relative importance of a task is not a profitable business model. But is it really just a matter of poor time management? To avoid a time warp, some experts advise that you start by identifying the components of a task and budgeting time for each. This advice might be sound in theory, but it can be difficult to follow. To wit: I tend to set time limits and then blow them successively. One hour mushrooms to six because the finish line keeps moving. This tendency is not, however, entirely due to a pathological inability to accept that good is good enough.

It’s also partly the result of a tenacious devotion to quality. Great ideas do not form on command, after all. And occasionally I need to take the time to address a knowledge or skills gap. Sometimes good might be good enough for the job, but not for me personally. In such cases, the additional time spent is by choice. If I think getting something just right is important and I have the time to sacrifice, I will ignore the insistent tick-tocking of the clock. True, the extra effort might not be readily apparent to others or immediately rewarded, but the value of developing my abilities and doing my best is intrinsic.


Like most people I ask myself regularly, “What is important in terms of my career?” Typical answers include salary, benefits, type of work, location, hours, and the like—but recently I concluded that angst is my top concern when it comes to crafting my career.

Often, working conditions cause a lot of angst. You might have a difficult client. You might be managing a difficult employee. Your coworkers might drive you nuts. Your workload might be too much. Your deadlines might be too tight.

Sometimes angst is minor and other times major, but angst in any form can lead to stress, lack of motivation, and unhappiness. Why would anyone want to spend 8+ hours a day working in any state other than utter delight? Of course, some might say that a workplace where everyone is free of angst is a fantasy. I respectfully disagree.

Removing angst from the workplace has to come from two places: management and employees. Management needs to foster an angst-free workplace, and employees need to stand their ground and not allow the work environment to cause them angst. That said, simply ignoring things that cause angst is not a solution I would recommend or tolerate at Cloudmanic Labs. Instead, you must identify angst and destroy it (carefully, of course).

How Do You Build An Angst-Free Workplace?

Every workplace is different. Every manager is different. Every employee is different. Therefore, no one solution can work for every company. The best advice I can give is to encourage every member of the team to be the guardian of their own angst. For example, if the way tasks are assigned to you is causing angst, consider the possible alternatives and collaborate with your managers and coworkers to enact a solution.


In general, I tend to use top-quality products. This might not be for all things in my life (just look at my car) but it is true for most things that I really care about or use on a regular basis. I tend to seek the best of the best. Lately, I have been noticing a new data point in my decision making process: price.

I can think of several specific examples when price was a tipping point that made me use one product over another:

  • I really like my Android Nexus 7 tablet. In fact, I am in love with it. However, when I compare it to the iPad, I sort of wonder why I love it when the iPad is so much more loveable. When I compare the two, I realize that I’m more drawn to the iPad. Yet I own a Nexus 7.
  • I’m also in love with GitHub (such a great service). Side-by-side, GitHub is a better product than Bitbucket in all accounts. But I find myself using Bitbucket more.
  • I am madly in love with Linode. It’s a far better product than Digital Ocean, but more and more of my needs are migrating to Digital Ocean.

In all of these examples, I’ve found myself actually using the less expensive product. If price wasn’t a factor, I would only be using an iPad, Github, and Linode.


deadlines are bad

Here at Cloudmanic Labs, we pride ourselves on doing excellent creative work. To keep up a constant stream of high quality work from happy employees, we did something a bit unusual: We’re a deadline-free zone.

There were many reasons that factored into this move, but first and foremost: Deadlines are harmful to the creative process. Let me walk you through how that happens, and why losing the deadlines can be beneficial.

I would say 99% of all deadlines are soft deadlines. What I mean is, if a soft deadline is missed, the world will not come to an end, you will not be fired, your company will continue to stay in business, and profit will stay on track. When you look at most deadlines they are nothing more than a date a manager randomly picked on the calendar, or some date the sales guy told a client. Of course, if the deadline is external it’s never good for your company's reputation to miss; however, it is much worse to deliver crappy work just to hit a deadline.

Before I get too far, yes, I realize some deadlines are hard deadlines. I would say these hard deadlines only happen 1% of the time. For example, if you’re a retailer doing promotions for the Christmas season, missing your deadline and completing the promotions in January is pretty harmful. But I’m not talking about those deadlines. What I’m suggesting is that better management could lead to hitting the deadline, while operating as a deadline-free company.


I have been in the process of some major self reflection lately. Typical me, everything I conclude I want to translate to the business world. Give me a moment to setup my thought and then I will connect it back to the business world.

Point blank, learning is hard. Learning requires pain. Learning requires dedication. Something I have been wondering about for a while is: Why am I really good at learning something and completely suck at others? I was this way all through school, both high school and college. Get my attention and I am all in. If I am not interested, I am going to be a complete failure.

For over 8 years now I have been trying to master Portuguese. I have studied by myself. I have taken classes. I have visited Brazil many times. Still my growth rate is very slow. There is no question that I really want to learn Portuguese.

During the same period of time. I have learned a handful of programming languages. Studied the financials of over a hundred companies, and studied business concepts from the world’s leaders.

Why is it so hard for me to learn something that I want to learn but so so easy for me to learn something I really really want to learn? Why is my focus so hard to tame on things I am interested in but yet so easy to tame when I really really want to learn something?

I concluded this thought today while snowboarding with my wife. She likes snowboarding. She is not willing to really push it. She wants to get better and better. However, she is not willing to go through the pain and stress it might take to really become a pro snowboarder. She is ok learning the sport slowly, very slowly. I realize we all have a learning scale.

The Concept of a Learning Scale

So I would like to enter into record the concept of a learning scale. Maybe many people before me have come up with that. If you think I am a moron for just thinking about it now move on to your next blog post.

For those of you that have stuck around. I think a learning scale is a number between 1 - 10. A measurement of how much you really want to learn something. A learning scale is a measurement of passion. I guess my learning portuguese scale is about a 3. I want to learn it but I do not really want to learn it. My passion is just less than other topics. I am unwilling to go through the pain and suffering to be a master.

My learning scale for programming and business seems to be consistently at a 10. I am willing to put in the hours and stress to fully understand.


Ok, why did I bore you with my personal soul searching? I think this relates directly to business and the act of hiring. As a growing company we are always looking for talent. I realize today, I want to look for talent that has a learning scale of 10 when it comes to the subject of their employment.

I want to hire people that love the idea of learning new things (in relationship to their field). Most of the creative and engineering types we hire are people that need to be able to learn (and learn fast). They need to keep up on bleeding edge technologies and concepts. If they do not have a learning scale of 10 for their field they will be a waste of resources for us. We need to hire people that are currently passionate about staying current and always learning.

From now on I am only hiring people with a learning scale of 10 for their field. If you are a small growing company I would recommend you do the same.


Startups without a product are always asking me to sign a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), and everytime I think about refusing. It just seems misguided. There is a time and a place for an NDA but starting a company is not one of them. I realize lawyers are advising their clients to play it safe. This is poor advice, it does not holistically help your company succeed. Lawyers are focused on protecting you. They are not focused on building a great team, marketing to the masses, and building buzz around your company and product.

When you are starting a company you want everyone in the world to know about your product and service. Marketing is expensive and time consuming. Why not get the ball rolling? Why not tell everyone in the world what you are doing? The sooner possible customers, partners, and employees start to engage with your company and get energized, the better.

Most people think they are protecting some great idea. I would guess 99% of all ideas have already been thought of by someone else and someone is already working on it. If your idea is so powerful you should be filing a patent to protect it, not NDAs. It is about how you execute. It is about the million decisions you make day in and day out that leads to the special DNA of your company and your product.

Again, if your idea is so special, go apply for a patent. In all other cases start focusing on how you are going to build a great company with great products. Rather than hiding behind NDAs, stand on the tallest mountain you can find and tell everyone about how you are going to change everything with your company. Rally the troops and start building!


I hear the term “It’s business” over and over again. It seems to be this universal way of saying “I know I am doing the wrong thing but I can justify it because it makes my company more profitable”. It seems to be a crappy way of saying loyalty is not relevant in the business world. In my world loyalty has a higher currency than “it’s business”. To me “it’s business” is short term and loyalty is long term.

Let’s first define loyalty. Loyalty can be found in many different forms. Personal relationships are just one example. Loyalty is much deeper. An employee can be loyal to a company or its mission. A vendor can be loyal to a customer. A company can be loyal to a supplier, and so on. It is easier to talk about loyalty in terms of people and their actions, so I will stick with these examples, but organizations as a whole can be loyal to each other.

Loyalty is about being 100% dedicated. I don’t mean by this that your entire life is consumed by the relationship. I mean that you are always going to do your best work when in a loyal relationship. You are always going to prioritize based on loyalty. You are not going to jump ship for a brighter future when you are truly loyal. You are going to continue to think about how you can make the loyal relationship stronger via continued growth.

A great example of loyalty is Sheryl Sandberg COO at Facebook. She has made her money at Facebook. She could move on to bigger and better things. It is publicly known she has been offered many CEO jobs. It appears she is loyal to Facebook. She is committed to the mission. She is not going to leave a company that has been so good to her. Loyalty is going to vend off temptation. Maybe she will jump ship someday, but it does not seem to be something she is going to do anytime soon. I am sure Mark and the Facebook board recognize this and are giving her the same level of loyalty back.

Loyalty has always been very important to me. Something I have learned over the years is you can’t force it. Everyone has their own level of loyalty. Just because you feel loyal to a person it does not mean you can expect it back. True loyalty is not something that just happens. As a manager, as a friend, as a husband, when loyally binds it is truly a magical thing and the long term dividends will be big.


People say business is cut throat. It is a snake or be snaked world. If you run a business you are in a dark silo where it is you against the world. As far as I’m concerned, these are just strong statements that get thrown out into the wild to get people’s attention. Companies like Wildbit are proof this is simply not true. Wildbit, the makers of Beanstalkapp and Postmark, are working hard to help out fellow bootstrapped companies.

The team at Wildbit knows how hard it is to grow a company without piles of cash in the bank. To help bootstrapped companies they are willing to give away extra services for free (contact Wildbit for more information). Wildbit is also building a mentoring community called Think Strapped. Think Strapped is “A mentorship community for encouraging sustainable growth in software start ups”. You can learn more about Think Strapped at their website http://thinkstrapped.com.

It is not every day we highlight other companies on our blog, but we was overly compelled to express our gratitude to Wildbit for their support of the bootstrapped community.

Thank you Wildbit.


I am currently reading Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck—Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen.

First of all, what a great book! Second, the book mentions two explorers on a quest to hike to the South Pole. Each explorer leaves at the same time to try to beat the other to the South Pole. The two journeys have a great deal of parallels to running a business.

One explorer uses amazing focus and discipline and hikes 20 miles a day every day regardless of weather or conditions. He progresses 20 miles a day. Never more never less. The other explorer would sit in his tent on bad days and hike big long days on nice days. One day he might hike zero miles the next day he might hike 40 miles. The first explorer made it to the south pole and back. The other explorer died.

The point is, being disciplined and focused every day (in business) makes for a better outcome. Trying to grow too big too fast is a mistake. Continue on a 20 hike every day. Even if you think you can do more. Even if it is tempting to go faster.

I think in general at Cloudmanic we have maintained a pretty good 20 mile hike, but I am going to be more aware of our pace after reading the above book. Sometimes I get frustrated that we are not moving fast enough. Sometimes I want to add more features or products. Sometimes I want to be all things to all people. Sometimes I want slow down and relax. I think if we stepped on the gas pedal or became complacent we would not build great products. We would get lost on our hike.


Over the last year or so Google has rolled out a new consistent look and feel across all their properties. While I am not in love with the design, I am in love with their consistency. One aspect that I think all start-ups should learn is being consistent between the apps and the marketing sites. Every google property has a marketing site that tells you about the application and convinces you to sign-up for it. Every software as a service start-up has the same thing. So many start-ups do not carry the same look and feel all the way through from the marketing site to the application to the mobile app and beyond. Here at Cloudmanic Labs we are guilty as charged.

Most users do not know what a marketing site vs an application site is. Nor do they care. They just want to be able to get what they want when they want it. So when you start with one look and feel and transfer to another look and feel users might think they have left the site. Imagine driving down the road in a desert. All of a sudden, you blink and you open your eyes to find yourself in the middle of a city. You are still driving down the road. You are still fine. However, you would have to take a few moments to process the change.

I think we owe it to our users to focus on a consistent experience across all our properties at Cloudmanic Labs. Users should be able to flow between our sites and apps fluidly without having to recompose when going from one site to another. It might take a while (well over a year) but we are going to start refactoring our properties to be more consistent.