Journal Entries

Filling in

I’ve been hanging out at the beach for the past couple days hoping to get some time to focus. Last night a friend hosted a comedy show at Hopmonk in Sebastapol. His middle guy was a no-show, so he asked me to do fill in and do 15 minutes.

I wouldn’t say I was prepared, but I do have a few jokes in the chamber for just this kind of occasion. I’ve always had this fantasy where someone coaxes me into playing a number at a party and I sit down at the piano and just start wailing on the keys like Ray Charles. This isn’t quite that, but it’s close.

I know what it’s like to have someone flake out at the last minute. In fact, the person who did last night, has done it to me a couple times.

It was good crowd, mostly women, who are way more fun as an audience. There was a party of 8 women in one corner. You zero in on them and you’re all set.

It was fun being up there and acknowledging I wasn’t planned. That’s a good way to de-escalate the expectations and build them back up. The fun part was asking what kind of jokes people wanted to hear. Did they want to hear sick or gross. I was a little surprised how many wanted sick. What’s worse, I couldn’t think of too many sick jokes that I’ve come up with over time. I can think of plenty, but I really don’t tell them on stage.

In the end, it went very well. People laughed, and that’s all you can use to measure success when doing standup comedy. That, and I got paid. Nice.

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Re-engaging

I’ve been detained from these entries due to other work stuff that I’ve been plowing through. Now that I’m back, I need to re-engage with Scription Network idea. I was building up so much momentum with it last week.

The concept of having both fixed solutions and hourly solutions isn’t new. The way I’m going to market with it, is. The trick is to thoroughly document things you’re doing the first and second time, so that it’s easy to spell out in terms of a prescription. For example, I just did a project for client that required me to do something I have done countless times before. Most of what I do is from memory or extremely reactive. I don’t always know ahead of time what I’m going to do. I just have a general sense of what needs to be done.

The collection of tasks I’ve come up with to complete the recent project I did is very easy for me to do because I understand the how and the why. That’s where the expertise comes in. If I listed all the things I did, it still wouldn’t be easy for someone else.

The hard part for me is to remember to take the time to document my steps. The reason i don’t is I don’t always expect to ever do these things again. While I was able to execute everything well within the time frame I told the client, i could easily do it faster if I just followed my own steps in an orderly fashion. It’s a recipe that’s all.

So maybe the piece for Scription is to make it easier for people to write their recipes?

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Leaf Blowing my Mind

Sunday, 7:30am and some asshole is out with a gas-powered leaf blower cleaning the massive parking lot of a church a block away. I finally had it. So I leashed up the dogs and headed over.

Of course the guy couldn’t hear me over the exhaust-spewing racket and industrial strength ear protection. So I used some universal hand signals.

He cut the engine and I flat out told him to stop. I didn’t ask politely. I didn’t make a case. I did what most people won’t do – which is make a stink. I rambled on about the timing and wanting some peace and quiet.

He started to explain his case, but I cut him off. What could he possibly say that would convince me that 45 minutes of noxious noise and fumes is necessary to remove a negligible amount of pine needs from a 2-acre parking lot.

Common courtesy would dictate you don’t make that kind of noise in general, on a Sunday morning. But common sense would tell you a leaf blower is an exercise in futility. Whatever work you do with one, is completely undone, within less than an hour of finishing.

If I were to pull up in their lot while they were holding their Sunday service, and blast a recording of the that leaf blower at the exact same level of decibels, you know the cops would get involved.

I’m on something of a personal crusade against those stupid tools. Crusade is probably too strong a word since I haven’t done anything other than yell at people when they use them. But honestly, following some actual process like getting a ban passed sounds absolutely futile. The only thing actually works in the moment is flat out telling them to stop.

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Mask Mandate Back

I’ve got a show tonight at 3 Steves and I am mostly looking forward to it. It’ll hopefully be our first outdoor shows, which are way more fun. Also, they just reinstated the indoor mask mandate for our county, and so I’d prefer not being inside for now.


Meanwhile, I’m still plugging away on the Scription Network (working title). I have been giving it the sniff test to friends to see if they get it and whether the differentiation is relevant and plausible.

My friend Mason had an interesting idea to go public with my idea as if I were a member of the network instead of telling everyone it’s a new venture I’m developing. It’s an interesting twist. Tell people hey, I’m part of this new thing for in-demand experts such as myself. It’s for people who like the shit show, who aren’t afraid to jump into the fire. We’re fixers and problem-solvers. We only like hard problems. We’re here to tell you what you should do, not to do whatever you want. If your way is working, then you definitely don’t need us.

People want simple direct solutions to sticky problems. They want to take a pill to make a problem go away. The old me would say that’s just not the way thing works. The new me says, fine, you want a simple solution to a hard problem. Here, take this. It’s $2000. Let’s see how things go. It might be a cure, it might just be a band-aid. It’s not guaranteed to work, especially if you don’t follow-through on your end. But if you do this, you will be in a better spot. And if we’re to continue to work together, this is what I need to be set and in place for us to be effective.

The concept is people in the Scription Network are experts. Full stop. You can’t be in here if you don’t have at least 10 years of domain experience. I don’t care if you sent 10 years at Apple. I know plenty of people that repeated the same year 10 times.

Everyone in the network is available on a retainer basis. That is you, can sign up for their time and pay them on a regular basis and they will tell you what you should do. These are recommendations and suggestions, yes. If you ignore their advice and things go wrong you only have yourself to blame. If you follow their advice and work with them, and things go wrong, they will know what else to try. That’s what make someone an expert.

Each member of the network also has prescribed solutions you can try as well. These are best practice approaches and tactics that you can pay for and be executed by the network. One can easily look at any of these prescriptions and opt to do them on their own, or find someone else who can do it cheaper. That’s totally fine by us. If you have that kind of time, you probably aren’t the right fit anyhow.

Recruiters

Don’t get me started on them. Gatekeeping should not be left to people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Scription Network is pre-screened. It’s self-selecting. Only an expert would want to be in this network.

We’re not doing the job of finding anyone any work. We’re just making it easier to find us, the in-demand talent.

Name Your Price

You heard that right. You tell us what you think the value of making your problem go away is worth, and we’ll tell you whether or not we can deliver it. Every engagement can be profitable for us.

If you can’t put a price tag on it, let us help you. The Scription Network is not transactional. However, when it comes to the Prescriptions, pricing is take it or leave it. That’s only because there’s no point in haggling and nitpicking over things

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Subscribe to Bri part 3

I have been talking the idea over with some trusted colleagues and it’s passing the sniff test. The idea has also evolved some since I first conceived it on Tuesday.

The original idea was to copy the retainer-based/subscription solution of DesignJoy. That was just another way to reinvent me as a freelancer. But as I dug deeper into the problem I wanted to solve for myself, I could see this being an issue for others too.

I’m an expert in a couple things versus just someone with skills. In fact, when it comes to skills, I’m not, nor am I ever the best person you will find for a particular skill. I know Photoshop, and I know Javascript. Both of those are skills, but there is always someone way way better at those than me.

An expert is someone who is familiar with a domain or situation and knows;

  • What to do
  • Why you do it
  • How it gets done
  • Who needs it

There’s probably more, but I think of those 3 things have to be missing before you realize you need an expert. Most people know one or two of the above. It’s when they fail or get confounded by the 3rd they realize it’s time to call in the expert or the fixer.

Someone with only skills may know all three, but they’re not paid to care about all three. Skills-based help is transactional and that’s why it’s always looked at through a time x rate lens. And that make sense to make that a subscription. You pay in advance and reduce the cost and turn it on or off as needed. I like knowing I have this skill when I need it and I have idea what it’ll cost me whenever I use it.

Time put in, is an essential ingredient for an expert. Not to be be ageist against young people, but it’s nearly impossible to become an expert in something [useful] in a matter of a couple years. It’s likely that person just has well-developed skills.

Back to the problem, I have. Again, I’m an expert. It’s not a boast. I’m just saying, I have seen a range of problems over and over, and have had to address them. I not only have skills that I’ve acquired doing the day to day work, but I also have amassed a large reservoir of knowledge. I don’t know it all, but I’m way ahead of others when it comes to knowing what the surface area looks like.

I use WordPress as an example. I’m an accidental expert in that platform. I never set out to do it for others. I developed all my experience and expertise having to use it for myself and my businesses, and some clients.

There are tens of thousands of themes and plug-ins for that platform, which is great. However, 90% of them are a waste of time for various reasons.

Plenty of people know may know the what, the why, or the how of a WordPress site, but it’s that imbalance that leads them to need help. If they knew all three, they would do it.

Supply-Side & Demand-Side

Right now, subscription is the hammer. But marketplaces and platform are either supply-side or demand-side driven.

Supply-side relies on an over abundance of experts. The more you have in your platform, the better you look to clients who are reassured by quantity. This is like Netflix. $18 a month for an all-you-can eat buffet. This drives down the price of the expert and reduces the value they can deliver. For example, an executive coach can be hard to find. Putting them all in one place makes them compete and regresses to a mean. Supply-side forces an apples to apples comparison when it’s really apples to oranges.

Demand-side relies on the popularity or scarcity of particular skills. It’s all about whether someone knows how to do a thing. This drives the price of the skill up, but reduces the quality of the expert. With demand-side, the popularity of the skill drives up the price of the expert while diluting the quality. When JavaScript is in demand, more people put JavaScript on their resume.

Subscription vs. Prescription

The subscription model makes sense (I guess) in supply-side and demand-side models. It’s a way to commodify the provider and commodify the solution.

As an expert, people don’t tell me what to do. They are asking me what should we do? When you subscribe to a magazine, you are making a trade-off. I could buy the magazine whenever I find it interesting, or see something I need. But it’s $7 on the newsstand. But if I subscribe to it, I pay $12 and get a whole year. Bargain. I may never read it, but I take comfort in knowing I could. Same thing with memberships.

This hurts the expert. I am negotiating up front a way for you to reduce your cost. You get predictable, but lower income. If I don’t use you to your best ability, that’s my loss. Never mind they expert doesn’t build skills.

The prescription is different. It’s telling people you need to do this. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. This will make your problem go away or mitigate it. It’s proven or at least tested.

Don’t believe me, that’s on you. Go ahead and get a second opinion. You may or may not come back. Are there other treatments? Probably. Do they work the same? Maybe. Do you have time to find out and experiment on your on? No. Okay then…

Here’s your prescription. It costs X. Can I try to find it cheaper? Be my guest. I found someone that will do it for half of what you said. Okay. Thanks for not wasting my time.

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