A Million Things On My Plate

I am feeling particularly overwhelmed this week.

I am almost glad the Grouvia beta testing is going slower than I had expected.  I’d rather have one or two people finding a problem than a hundred.  Especially since the development team seems to be dragging their feet with bug fixing.  It’s getting old.

But that’s besides the point.

The point is, I can’t even keep track of all the things that need to get done.  My desk is a disaster, my email is piling up, my VAs are asking me what to do next, and I have an SEO job posting on oDesk that is a month old because I can’t find the time to interview candidates.  And that’s only the stuff I can remember at this moment.

Example: (spoiler! embarrassing moment coming!) I spent the entire drive to my networking meeting this week practicing a new elevator speech about how Grouvia helps groups with four key areas: promotion, communication, planning, and sharing.  My mind kept wandering and I had to keep forcing it back to the speech.  I arrived at the meeting place and got my buffet-style, brown-edged lettuce and mayo-drenched “sea legs” stuff they call salad (don’t ask, cuz I won’t admit where we meet).

Then I sat through small talk with the guy at the table, the president’s intro, the 10-minute speaker, and 16 other elevator pitches.  When it was my turn I started out strong.  Then right in the middle I forgot one of the four things.  OMG.

Of course somebody reminded me what the wayward item was, and I made a joke out of it, and the embarrassing moment was over… but still!

I read Meg Hirshberg’s latest piece in Inc. this morning on the treadmill (yeah, I switched topics, just stay with me for a minute here).  She has real insight into the entrepreneurial mind, and she’s seeing it from the outside (which probably provides a lot more clarity than being on the inside).  But it made me smile, because the lady gets it.  I wish I had her cool in times like this, when I feel like I’m about to totally lose it.  (If you don’t know Meg, pick up a copy of Inc.)

Meg + treadmill = illusion of calm.  It’s temporary but that’s ok.

This crazy week will end, just like all the others.  It’s all part of the journey.  We learn from it, and move on.  I’m not sure what I learned yet.  Maybe just that life is weird and unpredictable and fun.

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Countdown to Public Exposure

Next Tuesday is the public beta launch of Grouvia 1.0, and the anxiety is building in a big way.

Development is behind, and I am pushing them really hard.  I made the decision to descope some of the features temporarily, because I really want to make this date.  What that means is that the “official” beta launch will still be November 17th, but we will follow it with a 2nd beta release a few weeks later to implement the final features.

I’m concerned about bugs.  They’re bad.  They’re everywhere.  They’re multiplying.  I hate bugs.  Where the hell is my flyswatter?

No seriously.  There are a LOT of bugs.  The new project manager (oh, did I mention that my development team got a new project manager this week?  sheesh, what bad timing.) has assured me that all the major bugs will be fixed by Friday.

Now that would be a miracle.

I’m also getting my hands into the code now.  I am a stickler for things that look nice and organized and line up properly and are symmetrical.  So every day after the developers leave for the day (mid-morning here on the East coast) I go into the code and start fixing things.  I fix images, line up form fields, and correct unbalanced drop shadows.  I test things and put in bug reports for stuff I can’t fix.  I correct typos and fix paragraph alignments and line spacing.  It’s tedious and it’s fun.

It helps my stress level.

On a more positive note, I have two groups who are literally waiting for Grouvia to come out so they can get their sites up.  One is a small local girl scout troop and the other is my weekly networking group.  Actually the latter is one I’m pushing to happen, and I’ll be giving the group a demo of it a few weeks after launch.

Still… I’m just sayin’.

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Grouvia Alpha 1 Is Here!

I’m so excited, today is the launch of the first release of Grouvia.com. My small team and I have been working on this site for seven months now, and I am thrilled that this day has come at last. This is the first step in what I’m certain will be a long and successful series of great releases for Grouvia.com.

The past several months have seen many long days, sleepless nights, and seven-day workweeks. The Internet changes at lightning speed and for an Internet application such as Grouvia to succeed we have to keep up the pace. Working on a tight budget has not hampered us, it has honed our efforts to almost razor sharp precision. Our focus is tight and our tactics are relentless.

The Social Media PR campaign is starting to show some great results, as Grouvia is seen more and more in the online universe. Thank you to Grouvia’s amazing PR man, Karl Schmieder at MessagingLab, who has also become my friend and marketing mentor.

The developers have done a nice job of implementing Grouvia’s preliminary set of features. And it’s no surprise because they have a very thorough and clear set of requirements to work with, thanks to the incredible talents of Regina Rubeo, an IT consultant and great friend who has tenaciously stuck with me through the ups and downs of the last six months. Regina, I could not have made it this far without you and I am oh so grateful for your help and strong shoulders.

Dad, Mom, Brenda, Karamjit, Deepak, Tajinder, Vishal, David, Vicki, Pie, Johnny, Patty, thank you all for the various roles you’ve played in making this day happen, whether that was offering time, understanding, support, friendship, great work, or helping to spread the word.

And while I’m at it I might as well thank David Meerman Scott, Norm Brodsky, Joel Spolsky, Timothy Ferriss, Guy Kawasaki, Robert Kiyosaki, Jacob Nielsen, Steve Krug, Michael Gerber, Dan Kennedy, and Markus Frind for sharing your knowledge and stories in the form of books, blogs, articles, and even personal assistance in some cases. The knowledge I have gained from these materials has been incredible.

And most important of all — I have to thank my loving husband Gus, who has supported me like a rock through it all. You’re the best, baby.

See you all next week!

[BTW, if you haven’t signed up to be on Grouvia’s mailing list, you should do that now :-).]

Letting Go of the (Bad) Past

I have this tenaciousness built into me that is extremely useful, both in my career as well as my personal life. It also has a downside — I have a hard time letting go of bad situations. I want to keep going back and fixing it, or making it turn out the way I wanted it to turn out. Letting it go feels like failure. My husband says, “Lisa, you hate to fail.” He’s so right.

But sometimes it’s really not failure. If the situation is truly out of my control, then my inability to move on creates stress and negativity in me and affects those around me.

I can be blind to these situations until after I’ve hit my head against the wall a few times, which knocks some sense into me. Let me try to help you by identifying some tell-tale signs, using a situation I recently had happen to me. Without going into boring detail, we were denied a mortgage on a rental property we own outright. I felt that we were denied it unfairly, and I spent weeks trying to fight this before I finally decided to hang it up. Looking back, I now recognize some fairly obvious signs:

1 The economy… hello? This was a no-brainer. All I needed to do was listen to the news. Lisa! The banks aren’t lending! Ok, got it. [Side note – this was not some little local town bank. This is a huge, national bank. Did I mention that I’ve had accounts with this bank (pre-mergers) since 1978???]

2. The mortage processor took days to call me back every time I left her a message. Clearly she was not going to fight for me or sympathize with me. She’s on the inside and she was giving me some not-so-subtle hints that this is not a battle worth fighting. Lisa, you can’t win this. Move on.

3. The reason the underwriter gave for denying the mortgage was unbelievably vague and not at all on point. This is a bank, not some teenager trying to get out of babysitting his little sister. This professional, trained analyst, with an arsenal of tools and high-powered financial calculators at her fingertips, was dissing us without feeling any need at all to give us a clear reason. [I’m still holding out for written documentation, though.]

4. The mortgage processor’s manager, while he answered the phone at least (unlike his subordinate), had no solutions to offer. Twice he said “I’ll look into it and get back to you”. Guess what? Right. No call.

5. My blood was boiling. Anger is a terrible thing. It gives you high blood pressure, insomnia, and stress. Not to mention it’s a huge time-suck. This is a sure sign I need to replace this negativity with something else, even something neutral.

So, while it still irks me when I think of it, I’m over it. Do I stress over the cash flow issues that this money would have alleviated? Sure, but I no longer feel like I need to fight. I just need to turn my sights to some alternative plan. Which I haven’t developed yet… but I will.

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