Fitness While You Work

I am a shameless multi-tasker, and that has both gotten me in trouble and served me well many times, thankfully mostly the latter. At my previous company we once tried to have a “no multitasking day” and we all failed.

As entrepreneurs, we have to step up the pace, even more than what we would normally tolerate. We have more to do in less time, and one of the things that suffers is our health. Specifically, good eating habits and exercise. I’m not an exercise fanatic or anything, but I’m in my late 40’s and I realize the value of a consistent exercise regimen and healthy eating habits. I refuse to let work get in the way of this. What good will it do anyone if I die of a heart attack or have a stroke when I’m 60. Right?!?!

So, I read business magazines while I walk on my treadmill. I listen to audiobooks while I jog, I watch CNN while I lift weights in my basement. I do isometric exercises while I’m listening to conference calls, and I stretch while attending webinars. And I change things around often.

Don’t laugh. It’s the only way I can make sure I do it. Some day I’ll also talk to you about how I manage to eat right. But for now, the next time you’re on a conference call, do a stretching routine – neck, back, arms, legs. If you’re sitting in traffic, start squeezing that pelvic floor — better yet, listen to an audiobook at the same time.

Resources: has most books available in digital format that can be downloaded to your mp3 player. I’ve been a member for years and the monthly fee is worth every penny!
– Many local libraries have downloadable books for FREE!
– Google “isometric exercises” or “easy stretches” to print off a quick list of brainless workouts to do while doing other things.
Wal-Mart and Target both have cheap hand-weight sets you can buy to keep in your home office. Or use soup cans or bookends or cans of paint if that’s all you can find. Be creative.

Just do it.

And the survey says…

I am a little behind on this post because I decided to extend the survey for a couple of days to get more responses… which we did!

People never cease to surprise me, and the results of this survey are no exception. The demo that we put together for the respondents to review before answering the survey question was, I thought, pretty well laid-out and the core purpose of the site was clearly described. But still, some people really just didn’t get it at all. Chalk it up to people scanning instead of reading and making a leap before they absorb the details (“Oh, I see, it’s just another social networking site/portal/cms/whatever.”) Of course, everyone’s opinion is important, but if they don’t understand what we’re trying to do, should their answers be counted in the results? My instinct tells me they should be filtered out. Someone who says we should include a stock ticker clearly doesn’t see the purpose of the site, and so their opinion about whether we should also include a personal blog becomes irrelevant.

The process of removing the results of those people is manual and subjective and time consuming. Needless to say I haven’t done it yet, so for now I’ll just tell you about the demographics and some of the more poignant comments that were made:

Total respondents 45 – not including incompletes

(All percentages rounded to the nearest whole value)

pretty evenly split @ 51% female and 49% male

Age group
18-29 7%
30-44 33%
45-59 44%
60+ 16%
(kinda reflects real life wouldn’t you agree?)

Employment Status
Employed full time 42%
Self employed 27%
Retired 11%
Other (unemployed, student, or part time) 20%

Calendar and Event Comments
The most common comment was that people want to see the calendar function integrated with Outlook or Google calendar. We didn’t even have that on the list, but since so many people mentioned it, I think we’ll have to do it.

One person wants to show the grouvia calendar as a pod on his/her iGoogle page. Yeah, great idea. Love it. How many people will use it though? Maybe we’ll do that one in the 2.0 version.

Another biggie was that people want to be notified of new events and updates via SMS to their PDA/SmartPhone. That one was already on the feature list (although only 55% of respondents gave that a high priority), but the people who did want it felt strongly enough to mention it in the comments as well. I’m pretty sure we’ll do that one. It’s easy to do anyway.

Post agendas and upload other relevant files specific to an event. Ok, we’ll do that too.

Miscellaneous Comments of Interest
“This could almost be like a for groups.” Cool, I didn’t think of that.

Two people wanted to be able to “introduce” people to each other. “Jim, this is my husband’s friend Shawn. Shawn used to be married to the Mayor of Sheboygan, and she now runs the upscale shoe boutique on Main Street. Shawn, Jim is the ….” Something like that anyway. I get it. Not sure how to do that, but it would be fun to try.

Integration with other social networking tools. Yeah, I know we will have to do this, but not for 1.0.

Customize my home page by dragging pods around like iGoogle. Yeah, absolutely.

Sprinkle the advertisements around in the content instead of putting them all in the right hand column. Hmmmm, that’s kind of intriguing. Will people like that or hate it? Can it be done tastefully?

* * *

So I have lots of slicing and dicing to get to. See y’all in a few days.

Revolutionary Ideas That Change the World

Last night, oh somewhere about 2:30 am (see my previous post on Productive Insomnia), I was thinking about a frustrating experience I had yesterday and I came up with a crazy idea.

The frustration came from trying to create a hard return inside a cell in OpenOffice Calc. Of course I tried the Excel keystroke sequence [Alt+Enter], substituting every modifier key available on the Mac keyboard for the Alt key. Then I tried the whole series again. Then I went to the help and typed in “carriage return”, then “hard return”, then just “return” and then a slew of other synonyms that I thought might be what the help was looking for. Goose eggs. After 10 minutes or so of struggling I finally went and did a google search and found the answer on a message board somewhere within seconds.

So what’s my crazy idea you ask?

What if… my computer could *sense* my frustration by tracking what I was doing. The computer knows what keys I’m pressing, it knows what fields I’m typing words into, and it knows what words I’m typing. The fact that I was also cursing under my breath is not relevant to the computer. So, if my computer could tell I was struggling, through some intelligent “frustration sensing” software, it could pop up a window on my screen that said “Are you having a problem?” and then walk me through a quick solution.

Yeah, I know, it’s pretty far-fetched. BUT, I read an article in Inc magazine recently that talked about truly successful companies that revolutionize their industry and change the human experience forever (think Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Wendy Kopp, etc). I think my software idea would fit that bill of revolutionary ideas.

So, could one of you go out and develop this software? I don’t have time right now, but I’ll be waiting in line to be your first customer.

Preliminary Survey Results

It has been so much fun watching these survey results come in. It’s been a little distracting too so I haven’t gotten as much done as I would have liked to!

If you haven’t taken the survey yet, please go here:

But I’m dying to share this with you because it’s SO interesting. It’s only been 2-1/2 days and we still have 4-1/2 days to go, but as long as you understand these are preliminary, I feel good about recording them here. Next week I’ll have final numbers, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, check out these rather surprising stats:

– 0% of the people in the 18-29 year old age group felt that personal blogs are a high priority. Like Wow Man.
– 54% of the respondents are in the 45-59 age bracket, 23% in 30-44.
– majority of respondents (46%) are employed full time, & 23% self-employed
– the vast majority (76%) felt the member home page design was “fairly well laid out” or better. Does that say someting about my design skills? 🙂 HOWEVER, one person felt that it was very confusing. Hm. The survey is anonymous so I can’t ask follow up questions but the comment implied it is too “wordy”, e.g. there is too much text. I’ll have to consider if there’s anything I can do to reduce that. This respondent is in the majority age group so no assumptions can be made there.
– so far the priority of high importance features looks like this:
1. Send messages to other group members
2. Email notifications
3. Event RSVPs and attendance tracking
4. Photo and Video upload for events
5. Mobile /SmartPhone access
6. Stringent User Data security (tie with #5)
7. Search groups by interest and location
8. Group Home Page – Public and Private (tie with #7) (gee I thought this would have been more important)

I won’t do the entire list, but I will share what some the LOWEST priority items were:
Lowest: Non-group/external calendar entries
Next-lowest: Support for carpooling
Next: Spontaneous Group Formation
Also-ran: Group blog, personal blog

I have some initial reactions to this…
… I’m pretty bummed about the lack of interest in spontaneous group formation, I thought it was going to be a big differentiator for grouvia. I might have to put it in anyway (just not in the initial launch) because I think people might appreciate it once they realize how neat it is.
… I was quite shocked at the lack of interest in blogs. The only conclusion I can come up with is that there are so many other blogging platforms out there already that people just want to stick with the status-quo and have a link to their existing blog. Or maybe most people don’t have blogs and don’t want them either. I started a blog last year and abandoned it for months before trashing it and starting a new one (this one). Some people haven’t found their muse yet. That’s ok, blogging is not for everyone.

I hope you have enjoyed this. Next week, final results! In the meantime, I’ll be polishing the preliminary deliverables list for the core players on the grouvia team.

Survey, Week Two

This is Week Two of the creation of the first Grouvia feature survey. I had originally hoped to get the invitation out this week but that was overly optimistic. The actual process of creating the survey is kind of fun and interesting, and it’s not even that hard, but doing this along with the 20 other things I’m trying to do at the same time is quite a challenge. Well… enough whining.

I read that the best day to send someone a survey and have the best chance of a response is Tuesday through Thursday, and avoid the beginning and the end of the week. So I’m going to target next Tuesday afternoon.

I’ve chosen for my platform. I had also looked into QuestionPro and LimeSurvey, both of which were either lacking in features or had too complicated a billing structure. SurveyMonkey is simple, but has enough features that, if you’re creative, you can pretty much do everything you need to. The one area where it’s completely lacking is the ability to add a multimedia presentation for the user to watch prior to answering the questions. So to get around this I put the demo on my own web site and will send a link to THAT in the invitation to participate. When the user gets to the end of the demo, there will be an automatic redirect to the survey. I still have to test this out to make sure it will work right, but I think it’s a good solution.

In an effort to keep the survey as short as possible, and since the demo takes up part of the time people will spend on this, we had to really cut the number of questions to a bare minimum. In hindsight I think it worked out for the best, because it is forcing us to focus on the list of features, which is the critical piece of information we need now. I also have to make sure we collect at least a minimum set of demographic information so we can use that to explain differences in the results.

This first survey will go out to a collection of family and friends. I will also post an invitation on my LinkedIn and FaceBook pages and groups. SurveyMonkey lets you define different “collectors” with which to distribute your invitations. Hopefully this will mean I can tell in the results how many respondents I got from each of my invitation methods.

Talking of getting participants. An interesting “best practice” I’ve seen several times is to make sure you don’t use spam tactics to invite people to participate. Along with that is the admonition that your participants must always Opt-In. Now of COURSE I would never do any kind of spam marketing, but it brings up the question… How DO you get people to participate in your survey? If you can’t buy or rent a mailing list, and people need to opt-in before you can invite them, where does one get people to participate? It seems like a Catch-22. I suppose I could advertise… Anyway, I’ll deal with that issue when I do my NEXT survey.

Hopefully next week I’ll have some results to share with you.