Life in our new office… Day 1

Today was C2IT’s first day in our new office on Clark’s Creek Road in Plainfield. One of my employees commented, “this must be a pretty big thing for you,” and he’s spot on.

We’ve been in business for almost 15 years now and in all that time, I’ve never had my own office. Never had my own door. Never had to get up and walk down the hall to talk to someone or wonder if they’re even in the building.

It is a big thing. A bit surreal to be honest. And awkward. And incomplete. And exciting. And scary.

And all of that’s ok. We have a lot to figure out at the new place. Who will sit where and when. How much we will spend on furniture and decorations. How we will make it feel like “home.” Who our first guest will be. What our first issue will be over.

Im glad this day has come. In a way I don’t want to let it go, but I must. There weren’t any bells and whistles. In fact, we scratched the floor. It may get more scary before it gets exciting. The bumps may bruise us. But we will come out stretched and stronger. All of us.

Day one is behind us. Day two is right around the corner.

Today – November 12, 2012

My list of dreams of my life includes daily journalling about my life, whether it’s big things or small things, exciting days or boring days. I still think that’d be a great way of life, but it may not happen anytime soon, but then again, it all starts with today, right? So here’s today.

Today starts with a little boost of confidence from yesterday. I finall butchered my first two chickens. The first one was quite awkward. No gagging, but it did take me three tries to find the jugular (or was it the coradid?). Once I made it over that hump, though, things were rocking and rolling. Erin helped me gut the first one with her slightly smaller and nimbler hands, but when she had to head inside to be a mother, I stayed out and did another one, all on my own. Still made a few mistakes (like dropping the edible organs into the bile I had spilled onto the table and thus ruining them), but it was soo much better. And in the end, I walked away with a renewed confidence – I CAN DO THIS. I DID do this. There were several people that believed in me long before I did, but I’m finding that sticking with those things you know are true even though they don’t feel true often proves truth to be just that – true.

So anyways, that was a highlight of my weekend, and bled into today. Had a meeting with a new potential client in New Jersey that is a project I’ve been longing to do for years. I’ve written about it on my website, talked to some others about doing it for them, but haven’t found the right match yet. This situation is promising. The company is looking for exactly what I’ve dreamed of providing, and their budget – time, dollars, and commitment – appears to be there. More to come after I research a bit this week, but this may quickly turn into an opportunity to sit down together and truly discover needs and map some broad solution strokes. Exciting stuff.

Following that, I had another meeting with a client I’ve done work with for about a year now. We’ve built a very unique e-commerce system for them, and it’s coming to the point of being more ‘upkeep’ and ‘new features’ rather than big projects and chunks of code… which has meant the working relationship we’ve had until this point is starting to get a little awkward. I wasn’t entirely sure where this meeting would go, but once again, I found that facing it head on, confidently listening with the intent to first understand instead of trying to come up with my response first, works. Left with my client having the “to-do” list of “writing the proposal” themselves and then putting some flesh on it with them. Worked out great.

Had another meeting down the street with another client I really enjoy working with. Good people, good relationship with their other consultant, and a bright future ahead.

On the way home I spoke with another client about a roadblock we’d hit that cost us about 20 hours in time that he has to pay for and pushed back a project 2 weeks. Not exciting news to share (although we’re moving around the roadblock now), but this relationship has been founded on openness and honesty from the get-go, so it really wasn’t a hassle at all.

Came home to a family waiting for my return – what a blessing. Erin fried up our chickens that we butchered last night, and boy were they juicy! My wife is such an awesome cook. She treats us so wonderfully.

Snuggled up with my kids in the recliner while colton did homework and played a game, and Mak watched sleeping beauty. Washed a boat load of dishes, put the kids to bed, and then went for a 2 mile walk.

The walk did me good. My knee has been giving me problems since I played b-ball 2 weeks ago, and it was good to get a walk in without a bunch of pain. 

Listened to my DAB and actually got to LISTEN today. Read Hebrews 11 – examples of faith – men and women living in light of a life that’s eternal, not limited by their day to day circumstances.

That’s where I want to be. All of these things – meetings, growth opportunities, family, it’s all something part of a life that goes on forever.

What Do You Do? (Part 1?)

One of the projects for my Sales Action Plan is to identify my business’ niche. What we are specifically here to do, and who we are specifically here to serve. I’m tired of answering the question, “What do you do” with the generic answer of “I do IT work,” or, “I do anything computer related.” While deep down I think I know my passions in the industry and what our company is uniquely positioned to do, I have never put that down into words. Now is the time. In this post, I want to do some writing to answer the question, “What do you do?” I want to describe our Ideal Customer. I want to crystallize our unique place in the land of business, IT, and solutions.

What Do You Do?

I’m going to start general, and move to specific. For several years, my business card has described our business’ offerings as “Data Driven Software and Web Development, Networking, and IT Support.” While that’s very true, and possibly even appropriate for a business card, it hardly answers the question I’m seeking to answer. Those may be the end products and services we provide, but I want to be able to tell someone what we have to offer them: what problems we can solve, what ideas we can transform into reality, and what efficiencies we can turn into profit. So here goes…

I help organizations transform ideas into reality by harnessing the power of the information and technology to create unique solutions.

Too Vague and too wordy.

I want something that is more specific than ideas/reality and “unique solutions.” While there are a variety of technologies and industries we have worked with in the past, I don’t think specifically naming them is appropriate, but perhaps listing them here is:

  • Corporate / Franchise relationships through reporting, data transfers, and remote access to information via the web.
  • Map-based information that incorporates geographic information unique to the organization, such as a route.
  • Integrating 3rd party products including Microsoft applications via software hooks and customized programming.
  • Creating and implementing networks that provide anyone-who-needs-it access to whatever-they-need, including VPNs, Remote Access, etc.
  • Maintaining secure and up-to-date computer systems across an office network connected to the internet.
  • Harnessing the power of available information such as public info on the internet, data available through third party applications, downloads from private sources, or even data stored in other applications / documents that can be linked / read into another application.
  • Facilitating communication between computer systems in a sometimes-connected environment (unreliable internet, employees with cellular access roaming the state, etc.).

I take an organization’s ideas that seem roadblocked by technology and develop a unique solution incorporating data-driven software, unique network designs, and already-available hardware and software.

That seems a little more specific. It’s kind of long-winded, though… also a little negative – a lot of people aren’t roadblocked by the technology; in fact, they may not even see it’s full potential. That’s where I like to step in and say “yes, that’s a great idea… and we could make that work. It would look like this.” I like to discover their ideas, how they want the system to function within the realm of their way of doing things, and then provide a solution that is efficient, fast, useful in the scenarios in which my customers find themselves, and better than other solutions out there, especially solutions that can be bought off a shelf for a lower price.

I help organizations reach their full potential by harnessing the power of technology and information available to them. I provide unique solutions to unique problems that integrate the complete technology system: The network, servers, PC’s, existing applications, and ultimately, unique software solutions.

That’s getting somewhere. Some things I like in that are:

  • I like the word help. I am not someone you throw a problem and money at and out pops a solution. We work with our customers, discovering the real problem / need / want and then working with them to provide a solution that not only solves the problems and meets the needs, but that also fits into the way they do business.
  • Reach their full potential“. I like that because I also enjoy helping people reach their full potential in my personal life. I like seeing those who think they don’t have what it takes step into what they long to be – teachers, leaders, fathers.
  • I also like the word harness. I don’t feel that my company invents everything we do. We don’t do everything from scratch. We take much of what is already there and put it to work. In fact, that’s a catch phrase I’m thinking of… “We put your information to work.”
  • I like the phrase “provide unique solutions to unique problems.” It’s kind of vague, but emphasizes the way we treat each customer as its own entity, not as something we need to fit into a box WE define.
  • I like the word “integrate.” I think we do a lot of that – putting things together, finding puzzle pieces that will make a solution work without reinventing the wheel ten times over.

I see a few problems, too.

  • I think I may be over-using the word unique.
  • I think the list at the end is a little long. Perhaps useful as additional explanation, but probably would draw the focus away from everything else if someone had to keep track of all that.

Well, that’s a lot further than I was earlier today, or even earlier in the past six years. I’m sure I’ll be coming back to this, but this has been good. I’d welcome your thoughts, criticisms, or ideas.

Good Quotes from Howard Thurman

Me thinks I need some Howard Thurman reading… these are some monster good quotes:

  • Community cannot for long feed on itself; it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond, their unknown and undiscovered brothers.”
  • “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that. Because what the world needs is people that have come alive.”
  • “There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days at the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.”
  • “Commitment means that it is possible for a man to yield the nerve centre of his consent to a purpose or cause, a movement or an ideal, which may be more important to him than whether he lives or dies.”
  • “A dream is the bearer of a new possibility, the enlarged horizon, the great hope.”

A weekend full of rocks – Part 1

This past weekend was full of events, stories, fun, and lessons. I need to get some of them down.

Saturday morning started with a family shopping trip to Menards for material for a new chicken tractor. If you don’t know what those are, you haven’t been to my house and looked out the back window. We have these portable pens for our chickens, one made of 2×2’s (good idea), and one made of 1″ PVC (not so great idea). Each day we move them around our pastures, giving the chickens access to fresh grass, while at the same time fertilizing, mowing, and clearing bugs and weeds out of the way. So the PVC tractor’s life has come to an end… wood is easy to repair, glued PVC, not so much.

On the way home, Erin, Colton, and I took the “messy road,” as my son likes to call it. It’s the state road that’s technically closed right now, but is still mostly paved, and on Saturday, there was no construction traffic, and we were in the truck… ADVENTURE awaits! So we took that road to the Orchard County Store‘s fall festival. A straw tunnel, corn maze, and miniature pumpkin decorating made for a great time.

From there we went on home, waited for Adam to show up, and started our “work day,” which equated to taking nine years of scrap metal, wood, and junk and separating it into an organized mess. The highlight had to be the old reel mower that weight 500-600 pounds that Adam and I more or less flipped, end over end, until we got it to the new “fenced in” scrap pile, and then rolled it up a hill. Such hard labor had not been done in a while. In the end, it finished as all good work days do, with a fire, full of toxic smoke in pretty colors that rivaled a rainbow.

Fast forward to Saturday night, around 10PM. Colton’s in bed, we’re getting ready to head to bed early, when suddenly, the evening goes down the tube. One of our lovely dogs (Ruby), has stolen a round bone from the other dog (Otis) and has been chewing on it. Normal behavior, no big deal. But now she’s done it. She’s got it stuck on her lower jaw. Half of it’s in her mouth, behind her canines, while the other half is stuck under her chin. What to do now… Of course, Chet has the answer… if we can’t pull it off, we’ll hacksaw it off! What a novel idea! I’m sure the dog won’t mind. After about 45 minutes of trying, I give up. After a “pleasant” discource with Erin, we decide that even though we’re both frustrated with the situation, and with each other, the real creature with frustrations is the one standing on 4 legs, waiting for us to do something productive with this mass of bone stuck in her mouth.

So I head into the 24 hour animal hospital, which is about a half hour drive away. After about 15 minutes, and $200, I’m back on my way home. Fun night, but all ended well… except the bank account and my good night’s sleep, I suppose.

So, that’s the first day of the weekend, and part one of my recount of it, as I pile up rocks to monumentalize the wonderful family God has graced me with, as well as friends, experiences, and a life I wouldn’t trade for anything. Stay tuned for Sunday, and more chronicles of Adam, Tabi, Katie, Paige, Colton, and me and my wife… along with probably a few other minor characters.