Posted By crranky ~ 5th October 2012
I fail a lot. I succeed almost never. My past successes are fleeting. My failures are constant.
As I wrote about here, my 5 figure
startup website income of a couple years ago is down to $680 last month. But I’ve started to come to a new realization.
There are just way too many forces working against me. It’s unavoidable. I can’t dodge some of the generally accepted priciples holding me back. Lack of resources like money, time, intelligence, drive, work ethic, people skills, luck. All of these are plenty to create disappointment and failure which lead to inevitably quiting. But most fairly well adjusted humans like myself can deal with the “life’s not fair” thing. Don’t like it. Don’t often know what to do about it at times, but accept it, yes.
Then there are those forces that I have difficulty accepting like Google search algorithm changes, Google Adword rejects, Google adsense stupidity, Google, Google, did I mention Google? How about DDOS attacks, orchestrated and targeted Malware, phishing attacks, identity theft? This list goes on. Let me just say this, if you think you can relate, let’s trade stories sometime. Whoever has the best stories buys drinks. Better bring your cash.
So here it is: Failure is like gravity.
Back a few years ago when I started traveling for my day job, I was a little nervous to fly. But a coworker told me something I’ll never forget. He said, “planes *want* to fly.” I liked that. It made me feel better.
Planes succeed at flying by overcoming gravity. They don’t *avoid* gravity. They overcome it.
But a plane is built to fly, right? It *wants* to fly. It is obsessed with beating the very force preventing it from lifting off the ground. It doesn’t avoid. It can’t.
It overcomes it. It understands it. It knows everything about gravity and owns it.
But a plane must also utilize gravity in order to land safely.
But a plane’s success does not come naturally, it’s learned and built for success. A bird, however, knows nothing of gravity. It’s all natural.
So if success does not come naturally to you, you’d better start understanding it in order to overcome it.
Don’t embrace failure. Understand it.
Don’t avoid it. Overcome it.
Don’t lean into it. Create an ethos of attacking it.
Then, be prepared to use it to your advantage.
How? By strengthening each and every force necessary to overcoming those forces working against you. Lack the drive to get stuff done? Learn to develop proper habits. Lack people skills? Look for opportunities which can help strengthen these skills. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
Everyday your weaknesses are pulling you to the ground. They don’t want you to succeed. They insist on keeping you safe and comfortable on the tarmac. Your past failures, your weaknesses, your competition, your enemies and even your friends are just fine with you sitting there, motionless, all full of gravity.
It’s time. It’s time overcome, understand and know everything about what holds us back. Our failures, like gravity are pretty obvious.
Very simply, I think the key to success is to run out of things to fail at. Then you begin to fly.
Posted By crranky ~ 13th September 2012
Very inspiring video of doing what was thought to be impossible – building a cardboard bicycle, and a pretty cool one at that.
Izhar cardboard bike project from Giora Kariv on Vimeo.
“… and then things started to click together.”
I’ll let you know when they become available.
Posted By crranky ~ 25th August 2012
I never thought of Mark Zuckerberg as naive until now.
1. Facebook IPO’s at $40.
2. Facebook’s current stock price is below $20, less than half of where it started.
Let’s stop here. If we were playing a game called “Sim IPO” and you were CEO, what would you do to turn things around?
3. On his Facebook page Zuck announces plans for a big ole fancy schmancy campus.
Dude, what you thinkin’ bro?
If I owned “a metric shit ton of Facebook stock” here is what I’d be saying to Mark Zuckerberg:
I don’t care about you having the perfect engineering space. I don’t care about you having the largest open floor plan in the world. I don’t care about you and your coders having plenty of private space, oh and quiet spaces as well. I know you might be suffering from spaceship office building envy, but have you looked at their stock price lately? Oh, and I also don’t care about the roof, parks, butterflies and double rainbows. I care about you making money for me and you are doing a very poor job. Thanks for all you’ve done. Good job. Now turn in your hoodie and step aside.
I can tell you from experience this kind of brazen, ostentatiousness makes share holders nervous if not outright pissy.
It took some pretty big cajones among other things to build Facebook. But maybe it takes someone different to make investors happy at this point. Because that’s all that really matters now, right?
I’d start by finding someone with a different kind of envy, Apple stock price envy and a little less naiveté.
Posted By crranky ~ 21st August 2012
Back in 2007 I started a free Blogspot web site in the gaming space. Within 6 months, via Google Adsense (and a couple other rev sources) it was bring in $3,800 a month.
A year later the site was receiving 110,000 uniques, 1.5 million page views and over $10,000 a month (with multiple rev sources). This juggernaut was a simple blog of mostly daily posts about games and in some cases those blog posts were simple reposts from the game’s own blog.
Impressed with what I had done, or more accurately, shocked at what had happened to me. I mentioned this at a startup conference to someone.
But what was I told by a certain successful startup guy?
“That’s not a startup. That’s just a website.”
Sure, falling bass-ackwards into a revenue stream does not make a startup a startup. Tons of unique visitors and page impressions don’t either.
So what does?
Would anyone consider the front page of this site, Crranky.com a startup? It’s a simple idea simply executed by me, a non-techical guy with no programming help. No?
Moving on from this I’ve attempted a “real” startup this time. Now with a little cash in my pocket, hiring a programmer, spending a year in development of a profile-type platform for tweens and teens. Think of it as About.me for virtual world profiles, called Funhouse.
Several thousand dollars poorer, no revenue and about 6,000 members later can I now consider myself a start up guy? A real startup guy? What about a serial entrepreneur?
My list goes on but I’ll spare you the clicks. I haven’t had the kind of “startup success” I did back when I had a free website, ad revenue and lots of traffic.
If the definition of startup is (and from what I read on Hacker News at times seems to be) being broke taking a great idea to a well executed functional MVP with the hope of someday being acquired, then no thanks.
I’ll take just a big revenue generating “website” any day.
Why? Because I am not interested in making a dent in the universe, at least right now.
I just need to pay some bills.
Posted By crranky ~ 18th August 2012
My friend Bob and his family are in to children’s theater. They write plays, sing, act and do stagecraft as well.
They were working on an all-children’s stage play version of Narnia which called for a suit of armor like this as a prop.
Not something you can pick up at Walmart on the family budget.
Not being discouraged, Bob decided to make his own…out of foam!
This version of a coat of armor is about 7 feet tall, costs him about $35 and took him only about 5 hours to construct.
Very impressive and very resourceful!
He also makes puppets from kids drawings.
Go to his site Druppets to ask him questions and tell him what a great job he did.
Posted By crranky ~ 17th August 2012
This in response to a couple of Dan Shipper’s comments in his most recent article “The Now Syndrome.”
“Get rid of false constraints and move forward.”
I am the nontechnical founder of several great startup ideas (I didn’t say startups) sometimes very poorly executed.
I am a marketing guy. I can write. I can design. I can sell. I can do a lot of things well. But…
Coding is tough.
I appreciate the humble sentiments of Dan Shipper and other coders on Hacker News that say, stop whining about not being able to find a technical co-founder, just take 6 months and learn to code. Over and over I find myself captured and wooed by this.
I don’t often hear medical doctors saying the similar, hey stop coming to me with your ailments, just learn to be a doctor. I think being a coder is every bit as difficult technically as being a medical doctor. And yet, I slog through a few lessons on Lynda.com on CSS or PHP and I want to weep in frustration. Not because its difficult but because I want to stop and work on something that’s better suited to my temperament, strengths and likes. I don’t want to become a doctor. I don’t want to become a coder. But the later is a little more problematic in my situation. I love startups, I love the dynamic nature of the web. I’m beginning to believe this is a curse. Am I alone? Probably not.
And yes, I can appreciate the difference between being a coder and learning to code.
I want to learn to code. But what if I’m not built to be a coder? Guys, am I missing the point here?
So, Dan and others, they’re not false constrains, really, seriously, they are not.
Posted By crranky ~ 16th August 2012
Awhile back I thought I ‘d attempt to generate a little more traffic for Crranky.com. As I’ve mentioned before the idea of this site is very simple: It’s a minimalist site of curated cool stuff, mostly for men. Not a lot of text, not a lot of anything except the cool products themselves. And oh yeah, I’m in it to make money (shocker) so the products link to other sites where you can actually buy these cool gifts. Pretty original, huh? I make around 4%. I haven’t quit my day job. But it’s fun and I’m learning about web development.
So I submitted my first ad to Google Adwords only to receive this:
**** Google AdWords doesn’t allow ads that promote bridge pages.
Examples of bridge page websites:
Websites that feature links to other websites while providing minimal or no added functionality or unique content for the user.
Added functionality includes, but isn’t limited to, searching, sorting, comparing, ranking, and filtering
Unique content includes, but isn’t limited to, original user reviews and ratings
Websites that consistently feature a small number of merchants or service providers when displaying user search results with no additional functionality or unique content.
A shopping comparison site driving users to only one online merchant with no additional site functionality
A travel aggregator site driving users to only one hotel chain or airline with no additional functionality****
1. On most every product page, I have written unique product descriptions. I say most, not all. Most.
2. I don’t want much text on the front page. Seems to be a trend on curated site, huh?
3. I don’t want to link to tons of different affiliate companies. I want to stick to a very select dependable few, like Amazon.
4. I don’t want to clutter up my site with stupid, pointless or unhelpful reviews, star ratings, etc. That’s the job of the merchant site. I want clean.
5. I don’t want a comparision site. I want to curate cool stuff that I like and that I would purchase.
6. I don’t want to harm the user experience with “additional functionality.”
Hey Google, you may be mistaking quality content with busy, cluttered websites. Have you looked at the front page of *your* website? I like it. It’s clean, simple and , on the front page provides very specific yet little functionality.
And then they say:
Repeated violations of our Advertising Policies may result in a suspension of your AdWords account.
Ok, I get doorway, spammy sites that clog up SERP. I get it. I also get that if I want to complain about Google, the line starts back near where Mars Curiosity is currently roving. And I’m not trying to come off whiney about it. Rules are rules and I’ll follow ‘em.
So, I ran a few ads on the front page of Reddit. Funny thing about Reddit. They accepted it. It’s sort of a reflection of their community members, I think.
And as it turns out, Redditors not only visit my site and (mostly) like it, they submit unsolicited helpful tips to a
budding wannabe web developer. Thanks, Reddit. You’ll get more of my meager ad dollars. And oh yeah, screw you, Google.
Posted By crranky ~ 15th August 2012
Thought I’d start a new initiative on the Crranky. Blog. I’ll call it Cool but Pricey (clever name huh). I find a lot of cool things around the web but many items are just too pricey for must of us. So here’s an amazingly cool, but kinda pricey item.
The first installment of Cool but Pricey…. Go!
The Invisible Bike Helmet is pretty much an airbag for your head. Check out the video, it’s only 3 minutes and tells a pretty good story.
Hopefully in a few years you’ll be able to pick one up at Walmart for $29.99, until then you might want to try this Watermelon Bike Helmet.
Posted By crranky ~ 12th August 2012
Now you can actually buy many of the successfully funded items featured kickstarter.com.
I’ve started a list of a few of the best cool items here.
Successfully Funded Kickstarter Projects
Posted By crranky ~ 12th August 2012
I had an idea the other day. And like most days, my ideas are pretty lame. But once in awhile I have one that gets me a little excited about it’s possibilities.
I like minimalist shopping sites. And so I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if I could provide the ability to simply scan and shop for other things besides cool, unique gifts and such?
Like what, you ask?
What about music? What about Apps? What about video content?
My first problem is that I am not a programmer. Pretty sad because all my “good” ideas come down to some sort of web development. Why is that by the way? Why do we hear music in our heads but don’t have the ability to perform it or write it down? Is this the universe’s way of challenging us to learn a new skill? I think I could learn to program but I doubt I am meant to be a programmer.
Back to my “good” idea…
I love iTunes but I hate shopping on it. It’s too cluttered with text and it’s too hard to navigate. Now, in Apple’s defense this is a common problem of having just too much content out there – and the good content is difficult to find. And so, a term has been used for this, “Discovery.”
So, what about a super simple music discovery site based on iTunes Music Store’s Top lists?
So I thought, what about starting Crranky.fm for this reason. Then I thought, I could take this even farther. What about a network of Crranky content.
Crranky.com is simple product discovery.
Crranky.fm is simple music discovery.
Crranky.me is simple app discovery.
Crranky.tv is simple video discovery.
I love it! But oh yeah, I’m not a programmer. So I’ll take it slow. I’ll do what I can to sandbox this idea of The Crranky Network and see how it goes.
Who knows, I might find a programmer or two who likes my “good” idea (hint).
Got something helpful to tell me? mike (at) crranky (dot) com