Archive for November, 2009

Two Handy Apps You Can Use From Anywhere…Even Turkey!

FROM DAVE: This is a guest post from my buddy, Jake Olson, regarding a couple of handy apps that he uses. Jake works from his home in TURKEY! How cool is that? Speaking of Turkey, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! And here’s Jake:

Hi there Anywhere People! My name is Jake Olson. I know Dave, the original AnywhereMan, from high school and have greatly enjoyed his website AnywhereMan.com. I also live the AnywhereMan lifestyle and enjoy it quite a bit. I’ve been working full time for a Distribution company called Lukas Media that sells DVDs and Woven Gifts from Turkey since last winter. Although our company is based in Tulsa OK, I am able to run the company from my home in Adana Turkey. Prior to this job, I was working as a freelance English tutor here in Turkey. Although that work was very fun, afforded incredible flexibility and very good pay, I was financially tied to one geographic location in that if I decided to travel to visit family, I was unable to make any money, despite having family in both Turkey and America (my wife is Turkish).

In the midst of that, I read The Four-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris and was inspired by the idea of being able to work from anywhere in the world. I decided to take the part time work I was doing for Lukas Media at the time and craft it into a full time position. Although I’m not exactly working four hours/week, I have managed to create a job that is rewarding and unrestrained geographically. I am truly able to do my work from anywhere in the world that I can get wi-fi, and I love the Anywhereman lifestyle.

Well, that’s my intro and my Anywhereman Testimony. The main reason I offered to do a guest post today is that I have two strong recommendations for products we started using in the past two months.

Check out the video I recorded about the products. Don’t knock the quality, it was recorded on free software that required no download. If you need to record training videos of your screen as a resource for employees or clients, I recommend checking out Screencast-O-Matic.com. If you are in an industry where people still insist on using Faxes, you can’t really just say “I’m from the 21′st century, I don’t do fax” you have to go with it. We finally broke down and found an online fax service; Metrofax.com it’s a pay/per/month service (unfortunately) but for us it’s so worth it. $15/month vs. hassling with a fax machine, fax line, etc is worth it. Check out the video to see how easy it is to use.

I hope these are helpful to you. Please connect with me on Facebook.com/JakeDOlson or Twitter.com/JakeOlson. Happy Thanksgiving and long live the AnywhereMan lifestyle.

DAVE: Thanks Jake!

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Motivating Yourself While Working Independently

If you are operating a one-person business like I do, who keeps you motivated? Who makes sure you are completing things on time and not slacking off?

It’s all you.

Sometimes I feel like the absolute King of Slacking Off but I’ve come to the realization that if I keep enough “fun” things spread out through my projects (especially big projects), the excitement will linger throughout the parts of the project that I might not normally enjoy that much. This helps me stay motivated, focused, and on-task.

What keeps you fresh and excited during various phases of a big project or the day-to-day routine?

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Review of Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk

I finished reading Crush It a few weeks ago and am finally getting around to doing a review. If you’re building a business of any sort, read Crush It! There are some great tips in this book and it was well-worth the read.

Example: I uploaded today’s video to Viddler, Vimeo, and YouTube using TubeMogul, a little trick I learned in this book.

NOTE: Sorry for the lack of true HD in today’s video. Waiting on a new cable for my Canon HV30.

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Telework: It IS Easy Being Green

If Kermit was a teleworker, being green might be a little bit easier.

I was recently approached by the folks at Broadband for America to see if I would be willing to write a post about the environmental benefits of teleworking. Without hesitation, I said “yes” as I think the conversation of telework with regards to the green movement is just one of those things that makes sense (regardless of your political position, pollution is bad, right?!).

I’ve mentioned this before, but when I lived in the Twin Cities I made the daily commute to work each day. Not only did sitting in my car for 45 minutes drive me nuts, but so did the idea of wasting gas to sit in front of a computer all day. A person can sit in front of a computer at home, the library, the coffee shop, a co-working location, or Anywhere…right?

Now that I work from home, not only do I save on gas, I save money from having to pay for gas. And by not driving to work each day, that is one less car on the road to slow traffic down. Think of how quickly traffic would move (and save gas by minimizing stop-and-go traffic) if even 25% of daily commuters converted to telework.  Obviously, not everyone can perform their job in a telework arrangement so some people would still need to make the daily drive.

In order to push this movement towards telework, one of the main requirements is fast and dependable broadband access.  I am lucky enough to live in a region that is not only beautiful, but has fantastic options for broadband access. Grand Rapids has three primary choices for broadband service providers and there’s actually a local grant devoted making sure everyone in the area has access to broadband.

The provider I use has installed fiber optic cable right up to my house, and though I pay for a 1 MB up/down line, I’ve never clocked it at less than 3 MB up/down. We also have numerous dependable public wi-fi locations and a growing tech-incubator location.  It’s awesome to live in an area where I have access to the great outdoors, yet I’m still able to work like I’m in a metro area.

Telework and broadband-availability are positioned to have a tremendous effect on conservation and the decrease of greenhouse-gas emissions:

“According to an American Consumer Institute study, over the next 10 years, broadband applications will decrease greenhouse gas emissions by one billion tons. That study attributed this environmental savings to several broadband applications, including telecommuting, distance learning, teleconferencing and e-materialization.”  (“Telemedicine: Helping Consumers And The Environment,” The American Consumer Institute, Posted 3/4/08)

Switching to a telework arrangement with your employer does not have to be an abrupt, all-or-nothing change. You can start by suggesting a teleconference instead of a drive across town (or flight across the country) to meet with someone in person. You might try to attend a training session online instead of in-person.  By continually thinking along these lines, you may start a movement to telework and save on greenhouse emissions at the same time.

The question to ask is “Do I really need to be somewhere else to get this done?” Basically, do your computer and internet connection allow you to do here what you were intending on doing somewhere else?

Chime in with your thoughts, and take a look at Broadband for America whose mission is “to make broadband access to the internet available to every household in the nation; to provide data transfer speeds to make that broadband experience valuable to users; and to provide the bandwidth necessary for content providers to continue to make the internet a cultural, societal, and economic engine for growth.” Sounds good to me!

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How I’m Using Tumblr

tumblr

I signed up for a Tumblr account a few months back and I’m happy to say that I’m finally using that account. If you’re not sure what Tumblr is, I can only describe it as Twitter meets WordPress meets FriendFeed. It’s kind of a blogging platform, but it’s also set up well for short bursts of content. You can also follow other Tumblr users.

It’s not that I didn’t like the platform at first, it’s just that I didn’t know how to fit it into my growing assortment of blogs, feeds, blah blah blah. There are so many places for us to put content on the web in a variety of formats, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted one more in the form of a Tumblr account.

That’s the exact thinking that finally gave me the perfect use for Tumblr: Use it as a central location for all the content I’ve got out on the web. Whether it’s a blog post, video content, a photo, or any other RSS-able piece on content, I’m going to funnel it all through my account. It does a great job of importing feeds and allowing you to post content directly. This post itself will automatically show up there within a few hours of publishing.

I’ll also use Tumblr for quick little tidbits and random pieces of information; the type of content that is too large for a Twitter update and maybe too small for a full blog post. Also, this will be a place where I can post things that are both personal and professional…just kind of an “all things Dave Yankowiak” place to go. Sometimes it gets tricky when you combine business with personal life with faith with hobbies and more, but who cares? I always try to keep a level of transparency as part of my personal brand.

Another super cool feature is the ability to record audio for Tumblr from your phone by simply calling a toll-free number. I’ve played around with the iPhone app as well and it’s really easy to use…much easier than the WordPress app for iPhone.

What’s really nice is that Tumblr let’s you point a custom domain to the account, and I have had my personal domain daveyank.com just pointing at my Lift Development site for the past few years. Now I’ve got a place to point it that will be a central hub for both friends and colleagues to find me.

If you’re on Tumblr, give me a follow and I’ll be sure to follow you back.

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Employee Turned Teleworker Turned Freelancer

My wife and I moved to Grand Rapids, MN in early 2006 after spending our time previous to that in the Twin Cities. I had been working at a small marketing services firm in St. Paul and ended up taking a job with an even smaller web company based up here. After a few months of getting settled in, my old company wanted me to come back to work for them and offered to rent me an office in Grand Rapids with a telework arrangement. I took it.

Today I was reminiscing on the year and a half of teleworking (I was still calling it telecommuting at the time, which it was, but I like “telework” better). I’m glad I did it, and it was my eventual leap into the Anywhere Lifestyle. Here are a couple of simple things I learned when contrasting my time there versus the way I live my life now as a freelancer.

Desktop computers are not ideal for the Anywhere Lifestyle

During my time working from my remote office, I used a custom-built PC with a VPN connection to our company’s network.  Obviously I couldn’t take my machine with me to places like Caribou (which is where I am right now). I could connect to my machine remotely using LogMeIn (which works great!), but connecting to a machine that is then remotely connect to another just isn’t ideal.

Notebook computers are simply the way to go, unless you never want to go ANYWHERE.

I have more human interaction working from home than an office

Though I sometimes complain about the kiddie-noise when working from home, I definitely have more human interaction there are opposed to the office I had previously.  My office was located on the lower level of a building which included a dentist office and counseling center. Neither of those were social hangouts…obviously. There was another person with an office on my level, but she was an insurance adjuster and rarely in the office. I also was not an active member of Twitter or Facebook at the time. It was not the most socially stimulating environment. Not that my home is either, but the option to escape to coffee, lunch, or the library and hang out with others is much better.

Cleaning a home office is easier

Well, for one, my wife is fantastic and really keeps our home clean. Hey, don’t yell at me – she stays at home and manages the family and I stay at home and run a business. Back to the point: when I had my own office, I had to keep it clean, and by that I mean I had to clean it. Yep, I did that about twice the entire time. I also had to supply my own cleaning products and supplies. Again, I only needed them about two times.  Well, needed might not be the right word since they were “needed” more than they were “used.”  The point is, the office didn’t get cleaned much.
These are just some random memories I had regarding my time working from a remote office. I enjoyed the company I worked for and what I was doing, but I will admit I am enjoying my time working from home and elsewhere. It’s good to take time to compare situations as you make changes in your life.

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