Facebook notifications.

I have not logged into Facebook for over a month. Their apps are not on my phone, and I have zero interest in using them. 

Today, I received a text from Facebook notifying me that my stepdad posted a photo. 

When I logged into Facebook to check my notification settings, I noticed a new section under notification for text messages with all categories turned on. This must me new, and I figure giving Facebook permission to text me for 2-factor authentication must have given them permission to text me about whatever they want.

All notifications are shut off again. I will wait to see if they stay that way.

Physical books, creating development specs, and a book recommendation.

I didn’t spend time reading online this week. I have spent my time working our new application (website coming soon) and reading physical books. I just finished “The Bullet Journal Method” which I share more about below.

Next up on the list are two books by Cal Newport, “Digital Minimalism” and “Deep Work.”

I’ve noticed my capacity to stay focused and think critically is less than what it used to be. Thanks to my journalling habit, I figured that started around 2015. As a result, I am going back to habits which were in my life prior to that time: reading physical books, self educating, and writing.

Stuff I wrote…

scottreyes.com: Writing a development spec.

Scott Reyes:

Think about the features you need for the first version of your software. Make sure your instructions are clear.

This posts outlines how we lay out new projects. The development spec is like a blueprint for creating software.

Read the post on scottreyes.com.

Book recommendation…

www.amazon.com: The Bullet Journal Method

Ryder Carroll:

Intentionality is the power of the mind to direct itself toward that which it finds meaningful and take action toward that end.

I picked this book up to learn an analog productivity method. It’s way more than that. I found myself nodding my head and underlining passages as I devoured this book in two days. If you are feeling overwhelmed, busy, or just looking for something different in life, read this book.

Read the post on www.amazon.com.

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Rebuilding a boat and thoughts on brands.

This post is a list of my favorite articles I read this week and a recap of what I wrote.

Stuff I read…

www.fieldmag.com: How to Rebuild a Once-Sunk Boat Into an Adventure Surf Craft

Ian Durkin:

Trevor wanted to build a boat and take it on a trip for the maiden voyage. It sounded simple in theory, but also really ambitious. I’ve never built anything of that scale, but Trevor was confident.

This makes me want to get an old truck to wrench on. Our stuff today is so complicated. There is just something to be said about old quality stuff that you can work on yourself.

Read the post on www.fieldmag.com.

seths.blog: The elegance of nothing

Seth Godin:

If Nike announced that they were opening a hotel, you’d have a pretty good guess about what it would be like. But if Hyatt announced that they were going to start making shoes, you would have NO IDEA WHATSOEVER what those shoes would be like. That’s because Nike owns a brand and Hyatt simply owns real estate.

The tough part is staying consistent with what you make. I think the moment you realize decide who you are is the moment you can pull off creating, cultivating, and owning a solid brand. It took Phil Knight a long time, risk, hard work, and sacrifice to make Nike. It wasn’t Nike from the start. But once it became Nike, it never looked back. Also, Nike definitely started to serve a minimum viable market when that market was a fraction of what it is today.

Read the post on seths.blog.

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Writing a development spec.

I taught myself to code before I originally started my company because I wanted to have the freedom to create an application without having to wait on someone to do it. I also didn’t have any money to pay to get it done. While I am glad I learned the basics, this was short-term thinking. Coding is different than engineering software capable of being used by large companies and thousands of people. I was in over my head, and decided I needed help. I found a co-founder who knew what he was doing.

After building the prototype we needed to show proof of concept and raise seed money, we decided to outsource our early development to a domain expert because we wanted to get it right. Hiring a freelance developer is overwhelming when you are non-technical the same way trusting a mechanic is difficult when you don’t know how to fix a car. I am grateful for my co-founder because together, we were able to do planning work that saved us lots of time and money once we handed the project over to our developer.

These are the three things you must do before hiring a developer to build your application.

Plan how the software will work.

The best place to start with making software is to make rough sketches of how things will work. Pick a feature, and draw what the first screen will look like. Then draw what a new screen will look like if a certain action is taken. Keep going until you have a hand drawn prototype of your application.

You can use an iOS app called Marvel to take photos of your drawings and link them together. This allows you you interact with your drawings like an app. Don’t get caught up with making sure everything is perfect. These are rough sketches.

Finally, if you know how to write front-end code, create a prototype in HTML. This will be very helpful to your developer later on when they are writing your application.

Write the logic for your software.

Now that you know how your first version will work, write it out in words. Each process or work flow needs two things: a user story and a login outline.

The user story describes how someone will interact with the process or feature. Write it the same way you would tell a story. Be sure to describe what happens based on the input. Most of programming deals with conditions: if this happens, do this, otherwise, do that. These can get complex depending on what your software does.

The outline is the same thing but is written in outline form instead of sentences. It looks like this.

  • User does this
    • If this happens
      • do this
      • and this
    • Otherwise
      • do this

This needs to fully describe the process or workflow, so make sure you spend time here. Do this for every process and workflow.

Assemble your development specifications.

Combine your drawings, user story, and outlines into an organized document. This becomes your development spec which you will use as your scope of work to get pricing and manage your software development project. Be prepared that your developer will have questions. As many times as my co-founder and I have done this process, we have overlooked details that our freelance developers have needed to create our project.

Spend as much time and necessary. Think about the features you need for the first version of your software. Make sure your instructions are clear. In the end, you will save money on paying someone to do this for you, you will have a clear set of plans your developer can work from to get the job done, and you will have knowledge about how everything works in your app.

Running, app design, and more Navy SEAL stuff.

This post is a list of my favorite articles I read this week and a recap of what I wrote.

Stuff I read…

www.fieldmag.com: A Rough Guide to Running the Grueling & Scenic Zion Traverse

Andy Cochrane:

As we stumbled into the East Rim Trailhead, my mind was nearly blank. We’d been running for over 13 hours, with short breaks just for food, water refills, and steep climbs. Our route took us from the northwest corner of Zion National Park to the southeast, along a series of trails known as the Zion Traverse. It was a day to remember, although not at all what we expected going into it.

This is something I want to do someday. I love running outside and exploring new areas. It’s the best way to experience a city or park. You’ll be amazed at how much different places you drive through look when you’re on foot.

Read the post on www.fieldmag.com.

nathanbarry.com: What iMessage can teach us about product experience

Nathan Barry:

iMessage is interactive. I can see who is typing, if my message was delivered, and when it was read. These are tiny features, but they change the interaction into a true conversation.

I have jumped back and forth between iOS and Android over the years. This hits the nail on the head about why I always come back to iOS. And it’s not just iMessage either. The whole experience is smoother and more consistent across the entire OS. The features they build are unnoticeable until they are not there in the same way you don’t realize how much you need your fingers until you hurt one of them.

Read the post on nathanbarry.com.

www.macstories.net: Pixelmator Photo: The MacStories Review

John Voorhees:

The Pixelmator team has released Pixelmator Photo, a pro-level photo editing tool that couples the core functionality of Pixelmator Pro for the Mac with the strengths of the iPad.

I am amazed by how many apps are coming out that rival what Adobe has been doing for both MacOS and iOS. I know you can argue the feature sets aren’t complete competition with Adobe’s products, but they are becoming so close it does not matter for most people.

Read the post on www.macstories.net.

seths.blog: Cognitive load is real

Seth Godin:

Every minute on a website is a minute not spent doing something else. Every decision about what to write in social media is enervating. It’s not like the old days, with just three TV channels and a TV Guide to make that difficult decision even easier.

It’s so important to pick your thing and go all in. Chances are, what you are missing out on is not worth the energy you spend wondering.

Read the post on seths.blog.

Stuff I wrote…

scottreyes.com: Building An App

Scott Reyes:

While you can build businesses around solving surface level problems, your chances of success are multiplied when you focus on root issues.

I am writing about the process of working on a new project at Envoy. It’s a management tool for restaurant owners and managers. Follow along.

Read the post on scottreyes.com.

Book recommendation…

davidgoggins.com: “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins

David Goggins:

For David Goggins, childhood was a nightmare—poverty, prejudice, and physical abuse colored his days and haunted his nights. But through self discipline, mental toughness, and hard work, David transformed himself from a depressed, overweight young man with no future into a U.S. Armed Forces icon and one of the world’s top endurance athletes. The only man in history to complete elite training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller, he went on to set records in numerous endurance events, inspiring Outside Magazine to name him “The Fittest (Real) Man in America.”

Normally, I only listen to audiobooks when I run. I carved out time to listen to this one and kept a notebook handy. I highly recommend the audiobook version because of the extra commentary they provide. (There is a lot of profanity. David is a sailor after all.)

Read the post on davidgoggins.com.

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Building an app.

The first place to start with building an app, or a service, is to focus on a problem to solve. People don’t buy products and services. People buy solutions.

The mistake most people make, and the mistake I’ve made in my career, is they assume that the surface problem is the real problem. They don’t take time to explore why a problem exists. Instead, they start putting their plan together, making their product or putting together their service.

This is a mistake because products and services that solve surface problems either create more work without providing value, or they become commodities.

The correct approach is to stop and ask why a problem exists and to keep asking until you get to a root issue. When you get to a root issue, chances are there are other problems caused when this root issue is not corrected.

While you can build businesses around solving surface level problems, your chances of success are multiplied when you focus on root issues.

Quiet your ego, building businesses, being trained by a SEAL and more.

This post is a list of my favorite articles I read this week and a recap of what I wrote.

Stuff I read…

blogs.scientificamerican.com: The Pressing Need for Everyone to Quiet Their Egos

Scott Barry Kaufman:

The goal of the quiet ego approach is to arrive at a less defensive, and more integrative stance toward the self and others, not lose your sense of self or deny your need for the esteem from others. You can very much cultivate an authentic identity that incorporates others without losing the self, or feeling the need for narcissistic displays of winning. A quiet ego is an indication of a healthy self-esteem, one that acknowledges one’s own limitations, doesn’t need to constantly resort to defensiveness whenever the ego is threatened, and yet has a firm sense of self-worth and competence.

The older I get, the more I realize my opinions are mostly what I have been told to believe or have been significantly shaped by my narrow life-experience. It’s way more fun to learn how other people think and learn to see the blind spots I have have developed.

Read the post on blogs.scientificamerican.com.

nathanbarry.com: 15 lessons from our first $15 million

Dave Nevogt:

Choosing a niche is the easiest advice to give and the hardest advice to take. When you don’t have traction, it feels like choosing a niche will exclude the few people who are coming in the door. In reality when we chose “email marketing for professional bloggers” everything changed.

The idea of launching to a hyper-niche market keeps popping up in success stories.

Read the post on nathanbarry.com.

www.fieldmag.com: This New Hampshire Prefab Finds Unique Inspiration in Nature

Field Mag:

An unconventional geometric cabin embraces the natural landscape with modular fabrication

I dream of living in a city and then escaping to a mountain house that looks like this on the weekends.

Read the post on www.fieldmag.com.

Book recommendation…

www.amazon.com: Book Recommendation: Living with a Seal

Jesse Itzler:

Living with a SEAL is like a buddy movie if it starred the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air…and Rambo. Jesse is about as easy-oing as you can get. SEAL is…not. He even shows up at Jesse's apartment with an inflatable raft just in case the Itzler family ever has to escape Manhattan by crossing the Hudson River.

This is a great audiobook to listen to while you are working out. No doubt Jesse was getting pushed harder than you are pushing yourself.

Read the post on www.amazon.com.

Stuff I wrote…

scottreyes.com: Systems + Accountability = Growth

Scott Reyes:

People spend too much time overcomplicating this concept. Growth is simple.

I have been thinking about this because I have started training for a marathon again. The plan is in place. Now it’s about doing the work. Growth will happen as a result.

Read the post on scottreyes.com.

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Creating a software company.

At Envoy, we are creating a new application. It’s fun. We debate features, how they will work, what should be included. We get lost in “what if’s” and “how about’s.”

When we built our first application, we naively planned out every little feature without any customer feedback. We made too many assumptions. Version one of that software had many features, but few of them were features our prospects needed.

That was a hard and expensive lesson to learn. Ultimately, we had to shift our business model for a few years while we learned how to build software people actually want to use.

The most used features, the ones that make FM Dashboard stand out, are features our customers asked us to build.

The Four Steps to the Epiphany, by Steve Blank, talks about two strategies for building companies. The first is the Product Development Model. This is what we did the first time around. You have an idea. You execute on the idea. Then, you go out and see if anyone wants it.

The second model, the one Steve Blank proposes as the best option, is the Customer Development Model. In this model, you pick a niche customer group. You learn about the group and the problems they are facing. You spend time discovering the causes of those problems. Then you come up with an idea to solve those problems. Before you developing the product or service, you meet with as many of those prospective customers as possible. You say, “We are building this. Will this help you?” You listen, learn, iterate, and get commitments from people who will actually buy from you. Then you build.

This second model takes more time to get a product out, but you waste less time and money getting to something people will actually buy.

Back to planning. Planning feels like work. You get to tweak and modify all kinds of prospective realities, but the truth is planning in a vacuum doesn’t get you anywhere.

A better way to look at planning is to take on the mindset of a scientist. Create your you hypothesis and test it in the wild. Get out of your office and talk to the people who you will be serving.

Then, make something small and and ask, “If this works the way we say it will work, will you pay us money to use it?”

If they say yes, you know you are on to something. If they say know, great! You just saved a lot of time and money. The earlier you face rejection in the process the better.

Most of my business failures have been because I protected myself from rejection instead of getting out and talking to people. Don’t make the same mistake.

With our new application, we decided to build this application in public, and let you all in on what the process looks like. I will share what goes into taking something from an idea to an actual product, and you will get to see the victories and the failures on the way.

This new software is for restaurant managers and owners and it solves a core problem (which I will talk more about in the next post).


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If you are a restaurant owner, district manager, or manager, we are building something that you will want. We will be announcing beta access to this software soon, and the best way to qualify is to be on this list.