Monday, December 22, 2008

Out from the Ether

In case some of you think I have fallen off the face of the earth, I'd like to assuage your fears, or hopes as they may be, and assure that I am still here.


It's been very busy in my life lately. To say more would be to insinuate that I could adequately explain what I've been doing for the last two months since I posted. If I could do that, I wouldn't have been gone so long in the first place now would I?


Suffice it to say that I've been lurking and learning with fervor lately. I'm not here on the blog as much because most of what I've been doing you would find more boring that just reading nothing at all. Hence I've actually saved you all time by not wasting it any more than I am right now.


I'm hungry for knowledge lately, working more than ever, and sucking the information from every source that will voluntarily give it.... those that won't are locked up in a vault in my basement until they break fromt he strain of watching I Love Lucy reruns.


In the recent months, I've spent the vast majority of my time restructuring my business to ride the wave of this new economy. Some think that it's just business as usual and that life will return to normal shortly. To those, I extend my deepest condolences. You have no idea what you're talking about.


Others think that falling gas prices are a good sign (they're not), and that the specials they get in stores are because of the holiday season. (again, they're not).

The world around us is changing and if I am to be successful I must throw away what I think I know and open my thick head to learn from those who are better and more accurately able to see where the economy is going, where the IT market it going, and where the business market will be six months from now, 1 year from now, and three years from now once our economy actually starts to return to something it can call a status-quo.


I've spent a lot of time implementing the lessons I've learned; spinning down my break-fix mentality and ramping up my Managed Services Platforms to be able to offer full-suites of complementary services that can actually help my customers better survive their own economic troubles. If my customers are losing money, and they are, then I need to be able to better support them with less headache, more profit for myself, and less overall expense to them; creating a win-win that insures their trust as well as my continued operation and growth potential.


Thanks to brilliant minds like Erick Simpson, Vlad Mazek, Stuart Selbst, Anne Chase, Ted Roller, and a slew of others I've had the pleasure to speak to and learn from, I'm finally able to bust out in this market and grow when those around me fall into tatters. In the last three months our economy has taken the largest downturn in recent history. In those same three months I have managed to increase profits over 100% from just a quarter year ago, without ever raising prices, and in effect lowering prices on some items that have a sustainable margin.


I’m currently in what I call the “Squirrel” phase of the year, putting money away in case the worst does happen and I need to be able to sustain a month or two of no growth. Expenses have tripled, but the profitability of services has risen to match without costing my customers any more so I’m fairly confident that I’m doing most of it right, though I can definitely see spots where improvement is needed, mainly in my understand of how best to implement certain technologies or business practices. 


On a recent highlight, I’ve just acquired my first SLA customer this year. It took me two months to put the policies in place, test the technologies, form the necessary partnerships with the big vendors, and put tires to asphalt to get it moving. Even the damned contract took me over a week to get right.


My personal life? Well, not that I’ve had one much lately, but I’ll fill you in on that too in case you’re interested.

  • Went to see Dad and Becky and took Mom and my sister Karen out with me. Had a wonderful weekend and got tasked as the family historian; meaning they gave me every photo album ever collected and I’m in the process in my rare spare time, of scanning all these and putting them to a chronology. It’s been really interesting, though it’s also a crap-load of work. I’ve seen photos of family members that I never even knew existed.
  • Spent a week in Mississippi and another week in Alabama working for a new contract client. 14 days of bouncing around hotels in 4 states, $2,000 in gas, and 8,000 miles on my truck later I was back home again.
  • Installed two new security systems for new customers in Virginia, both up and running very smoothly.
  • Increased my remote services client base about 50%.
  • Wait… this was personal stuff wasn’t it? See, I told you I don’t have a personal life. I have work. That IS my personal life.
  • Got most of the Christmas shopping done, though it’s a much slimmer Christmas than in years past. My apologies to all of you who I wanted to buy for but just couldn’t this year. My only solace is that it’s not just me who’s broke, so I feel a little better sharing in the recession with the company of loved ones and friends.
  • Got a new laptop! Since Dave hasn’t made any effort to get in touch about mine, I can only assume he plans on keeping it and never returning it. That really scalds my goat but what can I do? He’s six thousand miles away with my laptop and has absolutely no reason to want to send it back other than that I asked for it and he promised to send it. Where I come from that’s enough, but Scottish customs apparently dictate less stringent bindings between friendly agreements.

Other than that I haven't’ been up to much. I mean I’ve been up to my freakin eyeballs, but not in stuff you’d care to hear about. The only thing left on my personal creative agenda is to recreate the blog. I get in this mood about once a year, but I think it’s about time the site had a name change. When I first started Scooby Central, it was for all the Scoobs, most of which weren’t techno-literate at the time.  Most of them now have married off, gotten other hobbies, mastered FaceBook and MySpace, or just gotten bored with the site. I’m pretty much the last one standing on here in the last 12 months who posts.


I’ve still got for my personal posting site, but the Google results are significantly higher here on SC, so I’m going to keep the address, but likely will change the name and the layout to reflect a more “me” feel and drop the community userbase off, unless there are some that actively want to stay. It’s not that I don't love all my Scoobs, just that there’s no point in having it advertise everyone else if it’s really just me ranting and raving about my own personal thoughts while masking that singularity in a pretend community. I haven’t decided on a new name, new layout, or new idea though, and I’m certain not to get around to it until at least the new year. It will mean re-categorizing every post on the site, which is over a thousand at the moment at least, though I’m not sure of the exact number. That’s a task I dont look forward to…


Well, I’m off to watch some TV now. You all have a wonderful evening and a Merry Christmas!

To those who prefer “Happy Holidays”, bite me you Jew.

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