ONEredpaperclip. ONE.

So since Kyle from one red paperclip was sent to me by several different sources and made ABC’s Good Morning America this morning, I figured I’d make a few observations. Part of why this interests me is that one of my “sidejobs” happens to be real estate investing. Kyle’s ultimate goal is to “trade-up” from a paperclip to a house.

  1. Kyle is brilliant.
  2. Kyle will succeed. I’m pretty sure he’s gonna wind up with a house purely through his trades.
  3. Kyle was the first. It’s One red paperclip. He will prove the usefulness of bartering through this activity, but won’t get nearly the attention, and probably won’t succeed (yes, I know this is very similar to Seth Godin’s article on the million dollar website). Go out and barter, yes. Just remember that Kyle beat you to the blogification of the idea.

bingbit The “coming soon” banner has been placed at and I’m working on getting the catalog digitized and forming a plan for the e-commerce side of things.

bingbit’s first official offering will actually be available from CDBaby in a week or so. Bedtime on Mars by Uncle Widget has been out for a few months now, but distribution has been limited to people I run into on the street. This will allow purchase of the CD from anywhere in the world and the album will make it onto the iTunes Music Store in 2-3 months.

The eventual plan for bingbit is to be an online resource for liturgical music planning, along with a for-profit source of rare and custom music for use in Liturgies. bingbit will also be responsible for publishing and distributing family and children’s entertainment and for creating custom modern soundtracks for video games, presentations, film and advertising.

New Podcast

Cindy (my wife) and I decided last week that we’d really benefit from spending the time together organizing, recording, producing and distributing a podcast.

So, we did it.

We talk about parenting, culture, life, family, faith, music and whatever else comes to our attention during the production process.

“justbc” should be has been listed on the iTunes Music Store Podcast Directory as a free subscription soon. For now, however, you can drop into your podcast aggregator, iPodder, iTunes, whatever you like and have a listen. I hope you enjoy it.

Who does Yahoo! think they are? (or How To Turn Away Your Biggest Fans)

Flickr: Really cool.

Yahoo!: Really big.

I decided to use a Flickr account for the youth group that I work with at church. In order to do so, I needed to create a Yahoo! account (yes, I got in after the acquisition). I created one, uploaded some pictures and then went a few weeks without signing in.

Of course, I forgot my sign-in information. I’m not a one-password-fits-all guy because that’s just too easy.

Here’s where the ridiculousness of big Yahoo! comes into play. A password retrieval from Yahoo! now requires your month, day and year of birth and your zip code.

Normally, I’m pretty honest on web forms and stuff in case someone decides to do something like this. But I don’t go back and check the form two or three times to make sure I didn’t fat-finger my birthday. It’s never mattered before.

OK, fine. They’re looking out for my security. I guess I’ll send a request to customer service and maybe they can help. No such luck. This was included in the automated response: “Please remember that Customer Care may not reset your password…”

This means I’ll have to start over again, I suppose.

  1. Go create yet another Yahoo! account (which I can’t use my existing email address for – so I’ll need another email address).
  2. Create another Flickr account.
  3. Upload all of my pictures again.

Or, I could go find another service that hasn’t been swallowed by Yahoo! and post my pictures there.

And encourage all of my friends to do the same.

What Happened?

Last Friday I celebrated my last day of work in a job I wasn’t suited for. On Monday evening, I flew to New Jersey to teach a 3-day class on a technical certification. Right before I boarded my plane home, my worst short-term fear was realized. The project: cancelled. I return home from my first gig essentially unemployed. Maybe I didn’t do an effective job managing my own expectations. Maybe I left a hole in my plan. Where’s plan B?

Unfortunately, there is a complex plan B gotcha. Before disaster, plan B seems like a silly — almost pessimistic — exercise. After disaster, plan B (or C or D or E) is an order of magnitude more difficult. After disaster, plan B becomes plan A. Now plan B doesn’t seem so silly, does it?

Right now, at 34,000 feet, the cities, roadways, and earth all look a lot smaller than they do when I’m lost in Newark or at home worrying about next month’s mortgage. February 9th, 2006 will look less and less significant as I take off from this runway. I know it will work out. I have enough faith in God and in myself to know that in 6 months, I’ll have something much more trivial to worry about.

There are a few odds-and-ends facts about me that seem relevant tonight.

  • I’m impulsive: I make decisions quickly.
  • I’m resiliant: Even though I take first hits poorly, I quickly decide (see the last fact) that it’s not worth worrying over (will I care about this in six months?).
  • I’m brilliant: Impulsive decision-making and poor-planning notwithstanding, I learn quickly, retain everything and am passionate about sharing knowledge.

Side note: I’m flying over DC right now and (in the dark) the Washington Monument is lit and clearly identifiable from 34,000 feet. Good design.

I’ll get back to bragging about myself (I don’t do this often, so let me have my moment).

This week reminded me how much I love teaching people things that I’m interested in. I’m good at it too. I guess that makes sense; My dad was a good teacher. Now I’ve got a fresh infusion of teaching mojo and no students to teach.

I think a lot about finding a purple cow. I am a purple cow.

  • I’m ideological (that’s dangerous).
  • I’m enterprising: I appreciate the freedom to make a difference.
  • I’m creative.
  • I’m personable. I like people and I’m easy to get along with.
  • I’m purple. There aren’t many people like me, you see. I have quirky behaviors, quirky memories, and off-the-wall ideas.

This is little more than a bragstream. Maybe it’ll give me enough motivation to completely turn this situation around in a few weeks time. Let’s hope so, I can’t afford any more plane tickets right now.

New Opportunities

On Tuesday, I promised you news soon. When I first did my ‘passion intersections‘ months ago, I listed technology instructor as one. About 3 weeks ago, my sister made me aware of a teaching opportunity with the company she works for.

I followed the appropriate process, and went to a 3-day training session in Philadelphia, PA. My employer graciously allowed me to take some unpaid leave time to train and keep my old job until everything was squared away with the new gig.

Today was my last day of work with my old employer. I’ll respect professional boundaries and leave out the name of the company, but will say that my last day of quality assurance work came just in time. I’m looking forward to the freedom I’ll have as an independent contractor teaching roughly two weeks a month.

This situation will allow me to pursue several of my passions while making a living doing another. Should be a great situation, I’ll keep you informed.

Use Your Experts Wisely

Congratulations on your new company. I hope you’ve found some experts that you expect to make your job as CEO easier. Hire a graphic artist to do your graphics, give him direction, but don’t hold his hand. That’s his thing. Hire an accountant to take care of payroll and taxes. Don’t ask him to cook the books for you. Hire a marketing guy to help design your product*.

Many CEOs (I’ve seen it too many times to count) have the best way around every problem. Or so they think. Maybe they do. Maybe they should be a one-man show. If you’ve made the decision to hire someone as an expert, let them be your expert. You’ll help out the company by getting the job done by someone who knows what’s up. You’ll become an employer people are dying to work for because they’re allowed to be creative, allowed to do their jobs, allowed to recycle the positive energy you’re helping them create.

Expect personal news from Bryan soon.

*This fact is outside the realm of this post, but make sure you go read Purple Cow by Seth Godin.

Meetings: Good Idea, Bad Idea

It seems that the one carryover from brick-and-mortar, manual, old school business to the new knowledge-based economy is that upper management likes to have meetings. Meetings are necessary. Meetings suck. Here’s my meeting school:

Meetings are good:

  • Task assignments are best identified by the team, rather than just direct orders by a superior.
  • Resource allocations are easier with the minds of many.
  • Well executed meetings facilitate brainstorms.

Meetings are bad:

  • Tyrants use meetings for short-sighted task assignments.
  • Long or frequent meetings waste the time of the team.
  • Reactionary meetings facilitate blamestorming.

Make your next meeting productive. Set a timer, bring a list of things to talk about, don’t shoot down ideas, and come up with next action lists.