November 2012

Figuring out how to get better at following up with people in person

November 1, 2012 - Categories: connecting

Networking is all about following up. I’m much better now at email follow-ups, thanks to a few tools I’ve found. A Gmail extension called Boomerang allows me to mark a discussion for following up if no one has replied by a certain date. I’m trying out services like Contactually (affiliate link; free plan seems decent) and ConnectedHQ (free!) to track when the time I interacted with someone was, so that I can get in touch with people whom I want to connect with regularly.

I’d like to get better at calling people and meeting them in person, too. I’ve been practicing calling by keeping in touch with friends, especially friends who are looking for the next opportunity. I’m keeping Tuesday to Thursday for consulting, so I’m working on booking Monday and Friday lunches. I want to hear more about what they’re interested in and what can help them. It’s important to do this because most people don’t blog or tweet nearly as much as I do. If I want to find out what’s on their mind, I have to ask them.

I could probably have more flexibility if I also scheduled lunches during my consulting time. It’s easy enough to clock out of work, head someplace for a conversation, and then return to work. However, I feel more comfortable keeping it separate from my consulting time. Mental task switching robs me of some time and focus, and I never want people to feel rushed while were having a conversation. I’ve had lunches stretch to two hours or more simply because there were so many good things to talk about.

I’ve updated my Google Calendar to account for travel time, consulting, and regular commitments until February. I’ve been experimenting with services like ScheduleOnce and Doodle to give people a sense of my availability and allow them to pick dates that work for them. Doodle is more visual, but ScheduleOnce is less frustrating when it comes to busy schedules. It seems like this is a bit of a challenge for people, though, so I might just suggest possibilities, book far enough in advance, and use those services as a back-up. Alternatively, Google Calendar supports appointment slots, and AgreeADate does so too. I can give those interfaces a try, and I can also ask a virtual assistant to help in scheduling so that I don’t have to worry about the back-and-forth.

I really like ConnectedHQ’s daily summary of my upcoming calendar events and the social updates for people who are going to the event. It’s a handy way to get a sense of what people have been recently interested in, and to remember to check out their social profiles. Good stuff. I need to figure out a good process for getting my post-lunch notes into the system, too – notes afterwards, then copy them into ConnectedHQ?

When I get more of my meeting-people processes hammered out, I’ll start working on a list of people who might be able to help me validate my business ideas, such as adding value by sketchnoting business presentations and conferences.

If you’re in Toronto, maybe you can help me practise meeting people and getting to know them – by reaching out and having lunch with me! Kinda like a small-scale http://lunchwithmary.com/. =)

Do you know anyone who does in-person follow-ups really well? What do they do differently?

Business experience report: Filing taxes!

November 2, 2012 - Categories: entrepreneurship

I filed my corporate taxes and HST today, well ahead of the deadlines. The money will earn negligible interest in my business bank account and I don’t need it for cashflow, so I’m better off paying the government early and not missing any deadlines. I’m still looking for an accountant to work with in the future, but fortunately, my first-year taxes (no home office deductions, etc.) are simple enough that TurboTax looked like it would do the job.

After reading and re-reading and re-reading the T2 corporate tax return it prepared, I took the plunge and e-filed it with the Canada Revenue Agency. For good measure, I also filed my HST taxes even though they’re not due until next month.

Paying that much in taxes triggers the monthly/quarterly installment requirement, which happens even though they don’t send you a notice. This has tripped up enough new business owners that people have written lots of forum posts about it. I’m glad I found out about that requirement—it pays to watch small business boards! (Actually, it would probably also pay to have a great accountant, but I’ll keep looking.)

There are several options for how much to pay in each installment, but according to the Internet and to the CRA agent that I called to confirm, the safest way is to pay a proportion of what you owed the government the previous year. That way, even if it’s less than your actual taxes owed, you won’t owe interest.

I think I’m eligible for quarterly installments of federal tax, but to be sure, I scheduled monthly payments for federal tax and scheduled quarterly payments for HST. I’ll pay a little extra in terms of bank fees, but it’s worth the peace of mind.

It is a large chunk of money to set aside for taxes. I don’t expect to make as much income this fiscal year because I’m forcing myself to experiment with more uncertainty, so it’s good that I’ve left practically all the money in the corporation.

So there’s another business milestone – surviving taxes! It’s better to plan for a future audit than to assume there won’t be one, so I’m happy to get my books in order. Next year, I’ll learn more about capital cost adjustments. It would be good to have an accountant who can explain these things and make sure I’m doing things right, but it’s good to know these things too!

Someday, when I need to get money out of the corporation, I’ll learn about payroll deductions and T

Sketchnotes: WordCamp Developers Toronto 2012 Day 1 (#wcto)

November 3, 2012 - Categories: conference, sketchnotes, wordpress

UPDATE 2012-12-10: Now with links to slides!

Quick notes from WordCamp Developers Toronto 2012 Day 1. Enjoy! Click on the images to view a larger version. Please feel free to share them! © 2012 Sacha Chua, Creative Commons Attribution Licence

Creating Your First Plugin the Easy Way, Christopher Ross

20121103 wordcamp toronto1

Slides

Intro to the Template Hierarchy, Al Davis

20121103 wordcamp toronto2

Slides

User Centricity in WordPress Design, Taylor Dewey

20121103 wordcamp toronto3

Slides

Panel: Building a WordPress Development Business – Shannon Smith, Tom Auger, Brent Kobayashi, Dale Mugford, Trevor Mills, Marko Heijnen

20121103 wordcamp toronto4

Unconference: Women in WordPress – Hosted by Shannon Smith

20121103 wordcamp toronto unconference women in wordpress

WP Theme Frameworks: Speed Up Your Development Process, Chad Mohr

20121103 wordcamp toronto5

If you like these, check out:

Sketchnotes: WordCamp Toronto 2012 (End users) – Day 1

Coming up with a three-word life philosophy

November 4, 2012 - Categories: learning, reflection, sketches

Because people like my sketchnotes so much, I’ve signed up for the Rockstar Scribe course to see if I can learn how to sketchnote even better. I’m curious about layout and figure and colour, and I’m sure this will be a good skill to develop over the next twenty years. I could probably learn a lot practising on my own, but I promised myself that I’d invest more in tools and education, so here I am!

Our first assignment was to draw a visual introduction. Among the guide questions was this one: What is your life philosophy in three words?

20121102 Three Word Life Philosophy - Sacha Chua

So this is me, at least right now. =) Learn, share, scale.

Rockstar Scribe (from Alphachimp University) – affiliate link, non-affiliate link

Sketchnotes from WordCamp Developers Toronto 2012 Day 2 #wcto

November 4, 2012 - Categories: conference, sketchnotes, wordpress

From Wireframe to WordPress Theme in 10 Minutes – Sam Xu

20121104 WordCamp Toronto Developers - From Wireframe to WordPress Theme in 10 Minutes - Sam Xu

WordPress for a Large Site – Brandon Hill

20121104 WordCamp Toronto Developers - WordPress for a Large Site - Brandon Hill

Mobile Apps in WordPress Version 2.0 – Trevor Mills

20121104 WordCamp Toronto Developers - Mobile Apps in WordPress Version 2.0 - Trevor Mills

If you like this, check out the sketchnotes from Day 1 of WordCamp Developers Toronto 2012, or see my other sketchnotes! Search Twitter for #wcto to see what people have been saying about WordCamp Toronto, or check out the conference site for more updates and slide decks.

Weekly review: Week ending November 3, 2012

November 5, 2012 - Categories: weekly

Second week of conference sprint. Toronto was buffeted by Hurricane Sandy, but skipped the worst of it. I stayed home instead of going to some of the events, although I went to Startup Communities and WordCamp Developers Toronto.

I skipped the MaRS Entrepreneurship 101 lecture this week, but for a good cause – a friend had a wisdom tooth taken out, and needed help recovering.

I think I’m through the most packed part. I have a speaking engagement on the 28th. I’ve been turning my discretionary days to good use, reaching out to my networks and looking for ways to help. This turns out to be lots of fun.

From last week’s plans

Business

  • [X] Earn: E1: Consulting (3 days)
  • [C] Connect: Sketchnote The Business of Awesome (Mon) – Hurricane Sandy, so stayed home
  • [C] Connect: Sketchnote Toronto Star Business Club event (Tue) – didn’t go
  • [X] Connect: Sketchnote Startup Communities (Tue)
  • [X] Connect: Sketchnote Entrepreneurship 101 (Wed)
  • [C] Connect: Attend Startup Drinks (Wed)
  • [X] Connect: Sketchnote WordCamp Developers (Fri, Sat?)
  • [X] Build: Purchase TurboTax and give it a try
  • [X] Build: Help Linda with post-sketchnote process
  • [X] Build: Back up my files
  • [C] Build: Perhaps find another accountant/bookkeeper who can doublecheck the work?
  • Filed my taxes and HST!

Relationships

  • [X] Get back into the swing of household routines
  • [X] Attend Emma’s get-together
  • [-] Set up regular get-togethers
  • Help Rachel recover

Life

  • [X] Work on art assignment
  • [X] Set up sketchnote lessons?

Plans for next week

Business

  • [ ] Earn: E1: Tue, Wed, Thu
  • [ ] Connect: Sketchnote WordCamp Developers 2012
  • [X] Connect: Follow up with Javed Khan (Empression)
  • [X] Connect: Talk to Myles Harrison about analytics
  • [ ] Connect: Reach out to Todd and Lynne Waymon (Contacts Count)
  • [ ] Connect: Tue: Attend $100 Startup book club at MaRS
  • [ ] Connect: Wed: Sketchnote ING Direct panel “Innovatively Speaking”
  • [ ] Connect: Catch up with Jeff Widman
  • [X] Build: Attend art class
  • [ ] Build: Prepare talk and executive summary

Relationships

  • [ ] Spend time at home

Life

  • [ ] Relax

Discovering the MaRS #startupbookclubTO: The $100 Startup

November 6, 2012 - Categories: reading

After a great day at work, I bundled up against the cold and squeezed into the rush-hour crowd on my way to to the MaRS Startup Book Club at 101 College Street. I wondered if it would be like The Jane Austen Book Club or more like the 400+-person entrepreneurship events I’d gone to at MaRS. I didn’t know what to expect. I think it was my first book club meeting ever.

I’d gone through my emergency stash of business cards at an unexpected clip, and I still hadn’t gotten around to experimenting with Moo-based sketchnote cards. On a whim, I footed it to a nearby shop and got a hundred copies made of my sketchnote of The $100 Startup. I figured that since we were going to discuss the book, my sketchnote would be a handy thing to give to people instead of a business card. Fortunately, I’d had the foresight to include contact information on the sketch.

Still-warm copies stashed safely in my bag, I dashed to MaRS a few minutes late. I found the room at the back of MaRS and walked in slightly breathless – to find my sketchnotes preceding me, printed out on individual large sheets (11”x17”?) for each attendee. Did that ever send me over the moon!

20120509-sketchnotes-100-dollar-startup

It was fantastic! We started with a round of introductions coupled with favourite stories from the book. For me, looking at the fish drawing reminded me right away of that point that sometimes you shouldn’t teach a person to fish, you should just keep it simple and give them the darn fish. We talked about joint ventures and strategic alliances. We talked about delegating. We talked about testing ideas and dealing with failures. We talked about building confidence.

And boy, were there ever so many book recommendations… I recognized some of the books like Predictably Irrational, and many were completely new to me. Fellow bookworms! Other people who fill index cards and type notes with thoughts and quotes and ideas from books! I think I’m going to have so much fun swapping notes with people.

It was generally agreed that The $100 Startup was an easy read, the kind of thing you’d give to people who are interested in starting their own business, but perhaps less of a recommendation for people who are already neck-deep in the Startup Owner’s Manual or things like that. I’m a relative newbie (I’m only just getting to apply those things I’ve been reading about for years!), so I got a lot out of this book, and I’ve been experimenting with the ideas in it.

You know that feeling you get when you stumble across somewhere you actually, surprisingly fit in? Your tribe? I think this might be another great tribe to belong to. =) I have sooooo much to learn about business, and I think this is a great place to start.

Thanks for organizing this, Keri Damen and Marielle Voksepp! Can’t wait to get to know the others and to read the next book.

Interested in joining the book club? There doesn’t seem to be a separate LinkedIn group for it yet, but you can probably reach out to Marielle over Twitter and ask to be added to the mailing list.

Sketchnotes: #INNOTalkTO Innovatively Speaking – Joanna Track, Justin Raymond, David Nam, Brenda Rideout

November 7, 2012 - Categories: sketchnotes

Click on the image for a larger version! Please feel free to share this under the Creative Commons Attribution Licence.

20121107 INNOTalkTO - Joanna Track, Justin Raymond, David Nam, Brenda Rideout

The panel was moderated by Matt Hartley. If you like this, check out my other sketchnotes!

ING Direct invited me to this event.

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Sketchnotes: ENT101: Value Proposition–Joe Wilson

November 8, 2012 - Categories: sketchnotes

This talk is part of the free MaRS Entrepreneurship 101 series (webcast and in-person session every Wednesday). Feel free to share this! You can credit it as (c) 2012 Sacha Chua under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada licence. Click on the image for a larger version of sketchnotes.

20121031 ENT101 - Value Proposition - Joe Wilson

Check out my other ENT101 sketchnotes, or other sketchnotes and visual book notes!

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Buying time: Experimenting with scheduling

November 9, 2012 - Categories: business, delegation

One of my business validation experiments has suddenly kicked into high gear. People love the sketchnotes I’ve been taking. Since they’re interested in illustration and event coverage, I’m happy to take advantage of that opportunity to learn more about business. I want to see where we can take this. In addition, I want to connect with way more people and find out how I can help them.

I’ve been investing more time into delegation as a way to buy time and share opportunities. One of the small processes I’d like to delegate is scheduling, which can be quite stressful for me. I often review my mail on the subway, and it’s difficult for me to look up locations or refer to notes. I worry about time zones and missed connections, so I want to make sure that there are calendar entries at the right time, with the right people, and with backup contact information. As I dig deeper into validating business ideas and connecting with people, I’ll be trying to set up appointments with so many people that I’d worry about dropping the ball, not getting back to people, or not following up in case people haven’t gotten back to me.

Software tools such as ScheduleOnce aren’t quite there yet in terms of completely handling the scheduling process. I want to be able to delegate appointment-setting to someone who can arrange times, suggest venues, make sure important information is included in the event description, and follow up as needed.

One of my friends was open to the idea of working as my virtual assistant, so I set her up on oDesk and gave her access to my accounts. It’s good to know people you can trust with your Google account. While you can delegate without giving full mail and calendar access, some things are just easier when people can find what they need. I did set up a separate email account for her so that she wouldn’t have to clutter her personal mail with all the requests.

Even though we’re just starting out, it’s such a relief to be able to forward her mail and know that she’s going to keep track of things. We’re not quite at a smoothly running process yet, but maybe we’ll get there in the next few weeks. I’d love to get to the point where I have a few keyboard shortcuts for templates that explain what’s going to happen (including details she’ll need in order to plan), and she’ll follow up and make it happen. I’d also like to be able to keep track of the people that we’re trying to reach and where we are in the process. She’s been busy catching up with other work this week, but I hope that as her coursework settles down and we work out the kinks in the process, things will run even more smoothly.

I’m also experimenting with automated ways to make it easier to arrange times. ScheduleOnce seems to be the most promising of the bunch. Doodle often gets timezones quietly wrong, and Tungle is just about to close its doors. I’m not completely sold on ScheduleOnce, but people seem to have the fewest problems scheduling with it. There’s so much more to setting appointments, though.

If we’ve got a lunch, coffee, or call coming up in the next month or so, I appreciate your patience as we experiment with the scheduling process!

Weekly review: Week ending November 9, 2012

November 10, 2012 - Categories: weekly

Feeling under the weather, but delighted that delegation is going well. Working on connecting with people, too. Good week for business idea validation!

From last week’s plans

Business

  • [X] Earn: E1: Tue, Wed, Thu
  • [X] Connect: Sketchnote WordCamp Developers 2012
  • [X] Connect: Follow up with Javed Khan (Empression)
  • [X] Connect: Talk to Myles Harrison about analytics
  • [X] Connect: Reach out to Todd and Lynne Waymon (Contacts Count)
  • [X] Connect: Tue: Attend $100 Startup book club at MaRS
  • [X] Connect: Wed: Sketchnote ING Direct panel “Innovatively Speaking”
  • [-] Connect: Catch up with Jeff Widman – postponed
  • [X] Build: Attend art class
  • [-] Build: Prepare talk and executive summary – working on it
  • Earn: Set up conference sketchnoting agreement
  • Earn: Connect with N regarding illustration
  • Connect: Volunteer for various events / groups
  • Build: Delegated scheduling and research
  • Build: Described projects
  • Build: Post job descriptions for web scrapers, WordPress; interview applicants
  • Connect: Designed and ordered business cards

Relationships

  • [X] Spend time at home

Life

  • [X] Relax

Plans for next week

Business

  • [ ] Earn: E1 Consulting – Tue/Wed/Thu
  • [ ] Earn: N illustration
  • [ ] Earn: Put together presentation
  • [ ] Connect: Eric Boyd (Mon)
  • [ ] Connect: Sketchnote Small Business Network meetup at the Toronto Reference Library (Tue)
  • [ ] Connect: Sketchnote Entrepreneurship 101 (Wed)
  • [ ] Connect: Sketchnote #torontob2b (Thu)
  • [ ] Connect: Maria Marino (Fri)
  • [ ] Connect: Jason Varmazis (Fri)
  • [ ] Connect: Catch up on sketchnoting Entrepreneurship 101 (Sun)
  • [ ] Connect: Post my sketchnote review of book (Sun)
  • [ ] Connect: Follow up with Jeff Widman (?)
  • [ ] Connect: Follow up on scheduling
  • [ ] Build: Interview virtual assistants

Relationships

  • [ ] Spend time with W-
  • [ ] Get food sorted out: quiche, congee, soup, …

Life

  • [ ] Have massage

Validating ideas and working with other people

November 12, 2012 - Categories: business

Here are the next chunks in my personal business curriculum: validating business ideas, and working with other people in order to make things happen. I might be able to learn both at the same time. In fact, that’s probably the only way I can learn either. If I validate business ideas but take on all the work myself, then I’m limited by my time and what I can do. If I work with people without checking that the end goal is something that’s valued by others, then that would be a very short experiment indeed.

I talk a lot about the intersection of what people value, what you’re good at, and what you enjoy doing. Reviewing my archives, it boggles that the core of the diagram I drew in 2009 is still true. Going deeper into my passions leads me to things that people value more. I’m building the foundation of my 5-year experiment on things I’ve loved doing for a while, and that’s working out decently. I could spend five years validating ideas and building businesses within that intersection. It wouldn’t need as much work. People have blazed those paths before. Proven business needs in proven business models.

But the hardest part of drawing is to see familiar things in an unfamiliar way. One way to break yourself out of drawing what you think you see is to draw the negative space – to focus on the gaps. If I look at business and life and focus on—what is it? the gaps? the missed opportunities?—and not just the hammer-looking-for-nail gaps I instinctively see because of my own skills and experiences (oh, yes, there, that just needs a web app, an Emacs Lisp script), but gaps whether or not I know how to solve them myself—who knows where that can take us?

If I want radical growth instead of just incremental growth, I’ll need to be able to work with lots of other people’s Venn diagrams, orchestrating the intersections in order to make things happen, and helping people get closer to their own sweet spots.

This path is rougher and more uncertain, but I’ll learn a lot in the process. I want to get better at scenting value and scale, getting a sense of where the opportunities are. I want to figure out what things really cost in terms of time and energy. If I do that, then I can go after the things that turn out to cost (me? someone? a loosely-knit team?) much less than the value they create.

Reinforcement is good. For some things, I can reward and attune that sense by earning some of that value back (another fun experiment). For other things, I can get the value back in intangible ways. So I’ve been working on making more things happen: nifty ideas and trial balloons. The more ideas I can move through this experiment of creating value, the more I can learn from the successes and failures. It’s easier to start with something that’s already a good idea. Besides, it’ll work out wonderfully; it always does.

I’m still learning how to draw with different colours. Now I’m learning how to do that with life, too. Whom should I learn from? Who does this amazingly well?

MaRS ENT101: Meet the Entrepreneurs: Life Sciences & Healthcare – Peter Adams, Joel Ironstone, Trevor Van Mierlo, Alex Hodgson

November 14, 2012 - Categories: sketchnotes


This talk is part of the free MaRS Entrepreneurship 101 series (webcast and in-person session every Wednesday). Feel free to share this! You can credit it as (c) 2012 Sacha Chua under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada licence. Click on the image for a larger version of sketchnotes.

20121114 ENT101 Meet the Entrepreneurs - Life Sciences and Healthcare - Peter Adams, Joel Ironstone, Trevor Van Mierlo, Alex Hodgson

Check out my other ENT101 sketchnotes, or other sketchnotes and visual book notes! (more…)

Sketchnotes from #torontob2b: Dragging an Organization into the Digital Age; 7 Steps to Social Media Success

November 15, 2012 - Categories: sketchnotes

Brainrider hosts these wonderful monthly meetups for marketers (digital and traditional) in Toronto. Click on an image for a larger version of the sketchnotes. Feel free to share these under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada licence!

Dragging an Organization into the Digital Age – Sarah Major and Jeanie Hendrie

20121115 TorontoB2B Dragging an Organization into the Digital Age - Sarah Major and Jeanie Hendrie

7 Steps to Social Media Success, Richard Marginson

20121115 TorontoB2B 7 Steps to Social Media Success - Richard Marginson

Like these? Check out sketchnotes for previous #torontob2b meetups or my other sketchnotes!

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Investing time–and money—to help make good things happen

November 16, 2012 - Categories: life

I want to get really, really good at helping make great things happen.

My dad is amazing at this. He gets this glimmer in his eye. He comes up with this crazy idea. He says the magic word “Imagine…” and people get swept up in his vision. Inventing a cultural tradition? Restoring the rice terraces of Batad? Teaching blind children photography? He’s figured out the process of going from dream to reality, bringing together lots of people in order to make incredible things possible.

I want to grow into doing that someday. Maybe it takes me 35 years to get to where he is. Maybe I can learn it earlier. I think it would be useful – and tons of fun.

Fortunately, it’s easy to practise. The world is full of good ideas that other people have already thought of and coalesced around. This means that I don’t have to wait for an awesome idea – I can already start learning how to help people make awesome ideas happen.

I’ve been ramping up my investment of time into things I like. For example:

I also occasionally help my parents out with awesome Manila things, but it’s easier for me to make stuff happen locally. =) Besides, I’m surrounded by people who volunteer their time and talents in order to make these and other great things happen. It’s fantastic!

But here’s something to think about: when I talk to other people about what they volunteer with, I often hear an underlying stress about time as the limiting factor. Many people work full days and squeeze volunteering into the evenings. They want to do a lot of good, but the lack of time sometimes gets in the way.

I’m poking at this constraint myself. It helps that I’m experimenting with how I want to structure my work and my time. But another experiment I’m also trying is to see time and money as fungible. If I think something is a good idea, I give myself permission to spend money on it. After all, what’s money but time and energy translated into something that can be traded easily?

Instead of writing cheques to the library or other established organizations, I can dedicate that “giving back” part of my budget as a way to bring in other people’s time and skills. By doing this, I gain so much more than I would save by doing things myself. I learn how to systematize processes and train people. I learn to work with other people’s interests and skills. I create opportunities for other people to earn income and gain experience. It still takes time for me to set up and tweak processes, but I think it’ll pay off in terms of scale.

One of the things I love about developing code is the ability to take the solution to one challenge and make it more flexible so that it can accommodate another. If I help the meetups I care about with social media and build a process manual along the way, if I help spread ideas by sketchnoting (and maybe eventually involving other sketchnoters!), if I help people connect around such different topics, that diversity of experience and network gives me a solid foundation for making other awesome things happen. See, it’s all part of my Evil Plan. ;)

I like this. I can’t wait to see how this part of the experiment turns out. I think wild success will look like:

I think this will be fun. Tell me how I can make this even better!

Weekly review: Week ending November 16, 2012

November 17, 2012 - Categories: weekly

I’ve been ramping up meetings and helping people out. This is good!

From last week’s plans

Business

  • [X] Earn: E1 Consulting – Tue/Wed/Thu
  • [-] Earn: N illustration – postponed
  • [X] Earn: Put together presentation
  • [X] Connect: Eric Boyd (Mon)
  • [-] Connect: Sketchnote Small Business Network meetup at the Toronto Reference Library (Tue) – cancelled, prioritized working on hardlines.ca presentation
  • [X] Connect: Sketchnote Entrepreneurship 101 (Wed)
  • [X] Connect: Sketchnote #torontob2b (Thu)
  • [X] Connect: Maria Marino (Fri)
  • [X] Connect: Jason Varmazis (Fri)
  • [-] Connect: Catch up on sketchnoting Entrepreneurship 101 (Sun)
  • [-] Connect: Post my sketchnote review of book (Sun)
  • [X] Connect: Follow up with Jeff Widman (?)
  • [X] Connect: Follow up on scheduling
  • [X] Build: Interview virtual assistants
  • Learned how to use RMagick to create a photo mosaic
  • Worked on learning how to delegate some social media marketing, communications
  • Talked to Cassie McDaniel about Women in Tech

Relationships

  • [X] Spend time with W-
  • [X] Get food sorted out: quiche, congee, soup, …

Life

  • [X] Have massage
  • Planted garlic

Plans for next week

Business

  • [ ] Earn: E1 – social business consulting – Tue, Wed, Thu
  • [ ] Earn: Draw banner for Lean Startup Day at MaRS (Fri)
  • [ ] Connect: Sketchnote Rotman event
  • [ ] Connect: Interview another virtual assistant
  • [ ] Connect: Reconnect with Sameer Vasta
  • [ ] Connect: Talk to Bilal Jaffery about tweetchats
  • [ ] Connect: Participate in/sketchnote Girl Geeks Toronto discussion night
  • [ ] Connect: Discuss helping Girl Geeks Toronto out
  • [ ] Connect: Sketchnote Entrepreneurship 101
  • [ ] Connect: Sketchnote Venus Ventures Town Hall, or take a break that evening?
  • [ ] Build: Go to art classes
  • [ ] Build: Touch base with Ces regarding delegated tasks
  • [X] Build: Deploy the Quantified Self meetup mapper!
  • [ ] Build: Work with freelancer to add more features to the meetup mapper
  • [ ] Build: Do another Rockstar Scribe lesson

Relationships

  • [ ] Play LEGO Lord of the Rings
  • [ ] Set up regular date nights with W-

Life

  • [ ] Attend women’s self-defense course

New: Quantified Self Meetup Map!

November 18, 2012 - Categories: quantified

At our last Quantified Self Toronto meetup, we heard from Jason Brown, who had driven all the way up from Detroit – a 5-hour drive on the best of days, plus border crossing and Friday rush hour traffic – because there were no other meetups closer to him. How did he find us? Well, quantifiedself.com has a list, and Meetup.com also has a visualization of meetup groups.

image

The map there isn’t particularly useful – you can zoom in, but you can’t pan, and clicking on the markers doesn’t do anything. Searching for your postal code does get you a nice list of meetups, though.

I wanted to do something about that map, and I also wanted to explore the Meetup API so that I could start tracking meta information about Quantified Self meetup. Which meetups were growing the fastest? What were meetups’ typical frequencies of events? Could we eventually plot those with active discussions or mailing lists, and figure out what’s going on? In addition to being curious about these questions, I also wanted to experiment with delegating data scraping and Rails development.

Here’s the result so far:

image

I like the fact that this uses Google Maps, so it’s much easier for me to explore the meetups in the region. I’m looking forward to the other improvements we’ll be making, such as visualizing the member growth history per week.

You can find this meetup map at http://quantifiedself.ca/map . Enjoy!

When your personal value proposition shifts

November 19, 2012 - Categories: life

It’s odd to notice the shifts in the value I create for people. For example, tonight, Girl Geeks Toronto is hosting a discussion on women in technology. Initially invited to be one of the panelists, I suggested that I might create more value by sketchnoting the discussion so that the conversation can continue beyond the evening. A friend suggested that I submit a talk for TEDxOCADU in January. Talking to the organizers led to the possibility of my sketchnoting the event instead of speaking at it.

Of course, sketchnoting doesn’t preclude participation. I prepared sketchnotes for my “Shy Entrepreneur” talk at the Toronto Reference Library before I gave it, and I could put in the extra time to prepare a presentation for an event I’m already sketchnoting. But a prospective speech tugs at my attention at random times, fills my brain with odd audio snippets and visual concepts, and generally makes life a little crazy before the event. I like the fact that sketchnoting lets me connect with lots of people without the stress of having presentations rattle around my brain for weeks.

Speaking and sketchnoting meet different goals. Speaking positions you as an expert, while sketchnoting allows you to reach more people in the course of continuing the conversation. My primary goal for public speaking in the past had been to ease the process of meeting people – the introvert’s ultimate conference hack, because people start conversations with you instead of you starting the conversations yourself. Channelling other people’s ideas is a different sort of contribution from sharing your own experiences. It’s worth experimenting with, especially as I continue to build skills and collect stories for future talks.

And of course, there are all these other ways I can create value – building systems, writing, social business consulting, and so on – but my attention can be on only one thing at a time, so I can leave the other capabilities for people to discover through my blog or through interaction. I can build a network of people to refer opportunities to as well.

If life is a start-up, perhaps this is a pivot – recognizing that your value proposition is changing in response to what people want and need.

Sketchnotes: Girl Geeks Toronto: Vexed in the City

November 19, 2012 - Categories: sketchnotes

Click on the image for a larger version! Please feel free to share this under the Creative Commons Attribution Licence.

20121119 Girl Geeks Toronto - Vexed in the city

This talk was organized by Girl Geeks Toronto. If you like this, check out my other sketchnotes. Check out Andrea’s sketchnote of the same event, too!

Capturing my sketchnotes with Camtasia Studio Pro; organizing the digital workflow

November 20, 2012 - Categories: drawing

People often want to sit beside me to see how I’m drawing my sketchnotes, so I thought I’d record one session and put together a short video. Here’s how I drew yesterday’s sketchnote. In this video, I zoomed in so that you’re not distracted by all the other controls I have open. =)

Most of the sketchnote artists I know work on paper – sketchbooks, large sheets of paper, whatever. A few use iPads or Android tablets. Few people use tablet PCs, possibly because most designers like using Macs and Apple’s not keen on the tablet PC / stylus combination. I love how I can use my Lenovo X220 Tablet PC to sketchnote, and I want to share what I’ve been learning along the way.

Working on the computer, it’s easy to:

I use Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. If I want to record my sketches while I’m doing them, I turn on Camtasia Studio as well. I used to use ArtRage for drawing and animation, and I’ve produced 1-minute animated sketchnotes using that, but it’s not as responsive and pen-friendly as Autodesk Sketchbook Pro is.

Working on a tablet PC is so different from working on paper or on a digitizing tablet like those small Wacom ones. On paper, you can use your peripheral vision to keep the big picture in mind as you’re working on some detail. With digital sketchnoting, I zoom in so that I can draw legible letters, so I don’t have that sense of space – but I can work at various zoom levels using very similar motions, so I can be more consistent. The ability to sketchnote an event in person without needing a special table or access to a power outlet allows me to put the spotlight on all sorts of events, while a digital workflow lets me publish things right away and spread the ideas even further.

Some organizational tips if you’re heading down this path as well:

Invest the time in developing your templates. I’ve been experimenting with different aspect ratios. Lately, I’ve been using a 7.5”x10” template at 300dpi, which means that I can print my sketchnotes on letter-sized paper, and they still look decent at 11×17”. I also have templates for a square grid and for credits so that I don’t spend time lining up my name, Twitter handle, and URL just so.

Save the colours and your favourite brushes to your palette. Make it easy to switch between colours by adding them to your palette. Experiment with the right brush widths too, and save those.

Pay attention to how you name your files and save your images. Exporting files with descriptive names saves me lots of time when it comes to filing and searching them afterwards. I sketchnoted more than a hundred 1-hour talks last year, and I often find myself using Evernote to dig up a specific sketch.

Lots of people tell me they’d love to learn how to do things like this. I want to help people improve their visual communication skills. What kinds of questions do you need answered? What would help you get started?

Tweaking my scheduling process for delegation

November 21, 2012 - Categories: delegation, process

Scheduling stresses me out. I’ve had several calendar hiccups before: wrong dates, ambiguous locations, no contact information (or incorrect ones!), and so on. I want to fix that so that I can get better at meeting people and following up.

What would success look like? I think it would be awesome to get to the point where I can easily set lunches, coffees, and calls with people. This is how that process might look like:

  1. I bump into people in person or get an email from them. If I meet them in person, I scan in or take a picture of their business card and add it to my file.
  2. I introduce my assistant through e-mail and ask him/her to schedule lunch/coffee/a call. I use an e-mail template on my computer or a snippet on my phone to make sure that I include all the information necessary. My assistant also refers to a note with my preferences and processes.
  3. My assistant contacts the person and negotiates schedule / location using http://scheduleonce.com or manual scheduling through e-mail, following up in case people don’t respond. If possible, we’ll suggest a venue with good WiFi near the person’s office or location. He or she would create a calendar entry for the meeting as well as travel/preparation time around it.
  4. We have a task board where I could see where people are in the process, so I can be sure that nothing slips through the cracks. My assistant updates it, and we review it periodically.

It’s important to me that the process doesn’t make people feel like I’m standoffish or self-important. I also want to make sure that we don’t drop the ball even if I change assistants or take tasks back, so I want to use something like Trello to track scheduling status.

Here are some templates that I’m thinking of using:

Sample e-mail introducing the assistant and asking her to set things up

Hello, John!

I’d love to meet with you for lunch to discuss sketchnoting – my treat. Criselda (cc’d here) will be helping us set up something that works with your schedule. Criselda: Could you please organize lunch for maybe the second week of December? Thank you!

Sacha Chua

Sample e-mail from assistant

Hello, John!

I’m Criselda, and I’m looking forward to helping you and Sacha get together for a great conversation about sketchnotes. For lunch, would either Dec 10 (Mon), Dec 11 (Tue), or Dec 13 (Thu) work for you? 12pm usually works, but she’s happy to meet earlier or later if needed. Alternatively, if none of those dates work for you, you can check her availability at http://meetme.so/sachac or send me a few dates and times that fit your schedule.

Also, where will you be at that time? If you’ll be near your office at 123 Anywhere Street, I can find a restaurant nearby. If you’ll be elsewhere, tell me and I’ll look for somewhere close – anywhere near the subway line would be fantastic. Got a favourite? We’d love to find out about it!

What phone number would be the best to reach you at in case something comes up?

Best regards,
Criselda Hernandez

Sample calendar entry

Subject: Lunch: John / Sacha – sketchnotes
Attendees: john@example.com
Location: Restaurant Name (123 Restaurant Address St., Toronto)
Sacha’s phone: 416-823-2669
Your phone: 123-456-7890
Restaurant website: http://www.example.com
On Yelp: http://www.example.com
To reschedule, please contact Criselda at ______ . Need to reschedule on the day of the event? Please call Sacha.

<agenda / notes from e-mail>

Sample confirmation

Hello, John!

This is Criselda again. I’ve set up the calendar invitation for your meeting with Sacha for 12pm on Dec 13 at Restaurant Name. Please tell me if you’re having problems adding it to your calendar. If you need to reschedule, please feel free to get in touch with me. You can check http://meetme.so/sachac for Sacha’s updated availability. If you’re rescheduling on the same day, please call Sacha at 416-823-2669. Thank you, and I hope you have a great conversation!

Criselda Hernandez

What do you think? If I used a process like this to schedule something with you, would you feel weird about it? What would make it better? Have you delegated or are you in the process of figuring out how to delegate! I’d love to talk to you!

Sketchnotes from #ENT101: IP Management – Creating Value by Protecting Knowledge-based Assets – Nathaniel Lipkus, Matthew Powell, Ashlee Froese

November 21, 2012 - Categories: sketchnotes

This talk is part of the free MaRS Entrepreneurship 101 series (webcast and in-person session every Wednesday). Feel free to share this! You can credit it as (c) 2012 Sacha Chua under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada licence. Click on the image for a larger version of sketchnotes.

20121121 ENT101 - IP Management - Creating Value by Protecting Knowledge-based Assets - Nathaniel Lipkus, Matthew Powell, Ashlee Froese

And here’s how I drew it…

Check out my other ENT101 sketchnotes, or other sketchnotes and visual book notes!

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Sketchnotes: Venus Ventures Town Hall

November 22, 2012 - Categories: sketchnotes

Click on the image for a larger version. Please feel free to share this under the Creative Commons Attribution Licence.

20121122 Venus Ventures Town Hall

If you like this, check out my other sketchnotes!

Made my largest sketchnote ever! Painting the MaRS Lean Startup Day banner

November 23, 2012 - Categories: sketchnotes

This video doesn’t cover everything – there’s a gap in the middle when we started painting. I have to figure out how to reliably do time lapses with my phone or computer. =) This was fun, though!

Nathan Monk and Jennifer Marron reached out to me with this cool idea – in addition to sketchnoting Lean Startup Day at MarsDD on Dec 3, why not sketchnote the banner as well? I told them I’d never worked on anything that big, but they were up for the experiment and I was too. They rounded up canvas and paint, booked the boardroom, and away we went.

I started by drafting possible layouts using pencil and paper. They suggested some ideas to feature on the banner, and I added quick sketchnotes: an unfinished robot for the minimum viable product, arrows for “pivot or persevere”, and so on. I copied key elements of the first draft onto a second draft, and that was good to go.

Based on the proportions of the paper, we cut the canvas to roughly 68” by 120”. Coming from years of sketchnoting on a laptop screen (and doing the occasional blackboard/easel pad), it was certainly quite a new experience! It was so tall that I had to stand on a chair to reach parts of it. Glad to see that the proportion lessons I’d taken in art class paid off, though – I found it easy to work with the large space.

We started by taping the canvas to the wall and chalking outlines. I used my measuring tape to find the center and scribe a circle around it (hooray for high school geometry!). Then I lightly chalked the outlines of the MaRS logo and the sketchnoted quotes while Nathan and Jennifer chalked in the partner logos.

After chalking the layout, we stepped back to see what it looked like. It looked great! Then the duct tape gave way (canvas is heavy!), and we unanimously decided to move it to the boardroom table for the actual painting. If it collapsed that way while painting, we’d suddenly have an abstract art piece on our hands! We spread plastic wrap all over the boardroom table and the floor, set out the paints, and got going.

While Jennifer focused on the partner logos, I painted the MaRS logo, the Lean Startup Day arrows around it, and the sketchnote-style concepts surrounding the logo. We completed the banner in around 4 hours – about 1.5 hours to design and chalk it, and 2.5 hours to fill everything in with paint and touch up with white to cover up mistakes. The materials cost less than $200 – maybe $150? – and that was with way more paint than we needed, since none of us had any idea what to work at that size. I couldn’t get a good picture of it, but once it’s up on Dec 3, I’ll be sure to.

That was fun!

Lessons learned:

2012-11-23 12.08.56

2012-11-23 12.09.38

2012-11-23 12.09.28

Weekly review: Week ending November 23, 2012

November 24, 2012 - Categories: weekly

Temperatures are dropping! Time to break out the winter gear.

From last week’s plans

Business

  • [X] Earn: E1 – social business consulting – Tue, Wed, Thu
  • [X] Earn: Draw banner for Lean Startup Day at MaRS (Fri)
  • [C] Connect: Sketchnote Rotman event
  • [X] Connect: Interview another virtual assistant
  • [X] Connect: Reconnect with Sameer Vasta
  • [X] Connect: Talk to Bilal Jaffery about tweetchats
  • [X] Connect: Participate in/sketchnote Girl Geeks Toronto discussion night
  • [X] Connect: Discuss helping Girl Geeks Toronto out
  • [X] Connect: Sketchnote Entrepreneurship 101
  • [X] Connect: Sketchnote Venus Ventures Town Hall, or take a break that evening?
  • [X] Build: Go to art classes
  • [X] Build: Touch base with Ces regarding delegated tasks
  • [X] Build: Deploy the Quantified Self meetup mapper!
  • [P] Build: Work with freelancer to add more features to the meetup mapper
  • [P] Build: Do another Rockstar Scribe lesson
  • E1: Recorded voiceover, cool!
  • Connect: Talked to Stephan Spencer about delegation
  • Posted processes, business ideas at http://sachachua.com/business
  • Posted more sketchnote speed-drawing videos

Relationships

  • [X] Play LEGO Lord of the Rings
  • [X] Set up regular date nights with W-

Life

  • [X] Attend women’s self-defense course

Plans for next week

Business

  • [ ] Earn: H: Revise presentation
  • [ ] Earn: H: Send invoice
  • [ ] Earn: H: Give presentation
  • [ ] Earn: E1: Wrap up consulting before December break
  • [ ] Build: Got my notice of assessment, paid a little extra tax
  • [ ] Build: Attend art class
  • [ ] Build: Sketchnote content marketing webinar
  • [ ] Build: Learn about launching online businesses
  • [ ] Connect: Have lunch with Scott and Nolin, discuss sketchnotes
  • [ ] Connect: Attend Awesome Foundation pitch night
  • [ ] Connect: Sketchnote Entrepreneurship 101

Relationships

  • [X] Cook a lot!
  • [ ] Spend time together relaxing
  • [ ] Put package together for family

Life

  • [ ] Attend women’s self-defense course

Growing into an artist

November 26, 2012 - Categories: Uncategorized

“Are you an artist?” people ask me when they see me carrying a sketchbook or drawing my notes on a tablet PC.

My first instinct had been to say, “No, not really. Look at these. They’re just stick figures. You can do them too!”

Then I realized: this is it – this is that self-deprecation-of-what-you-do that I’ve heard so much about, but so far had managed to escape as a woman in technology simply because I learned that confidence early. In a new field, I found that familiar ghost.

I’ve been learning to answer, “Yes, I am. I turn business and technology ideas into one-page visual summaries.”

The journey to that response has been about giving myself permission to accept this identity as part of my self. Working with technology has been part of me since childhood. I’ve built the habit of writing over the past decade. Sketchnotes are so recent – just two years since I posted my first one! – and yet because they’re visual and more useful to more people, I get more accolades for them than for anything else.

Is this art? If so, it’s a very practical one. I take notes to remember and to help other people learn. But art is in the eye of the beholder, too. If people see a sketchnote as art, then it’s art. Who am I to invalidate the joy they take in creativity, especially if they end up learning along the way?

I play around with keywords. Do I introduce myself as a sketchnote artist, a sketchnote communicator, a visual communicator? And yet “geek” is a much larger part of my identity – tinkerer, developer, builder. Then there’s this 5-year-experiment where I’m learning about business and capitalism and making good things happen. Fortunately, other people have dealt with the complexity of combining many passions in their life. They’ve figured this out. I can too.

Getting ready for my Hardlines Dealer Conference talk: So You Don’t Have an Army of Online Marketers

November 28, 2012 - Categories: speaking

In a few hours, I’ll be talking about social media with hardware and home improvement dealers at the Hardlines Dealer Conference.

Hardlines 2012: So You Don’t Have an Army of Online Marketers from Sacha Chua

I’m excited! I’ve been looking forward to this presentation conversation for months. It’s a different crowd. Most of my presentations and consulting engagements so far have been with people who are in front of computers all day, and it’s hard enough to address people’s concerns. What about people who are in stores or on the road all the time, particularly small businesses who might not have dedicated online marketers? I expect that some people in the audience will be very savvy when it comes to social media, and lots of people will be more hesitant. Instead of bombarding people with lots of tips or making mainstream people feel left out, I want to use that valuable face-to-face time to address concerns, show people that they’re not alone, and help them find small, concrete steps they can take that fit in well with their business goals. The Internet is changing so much that it makes no sense to give bleeding-edge one-size-fits-all tips; it’s better to make sure people have the confidence to take the next step and an idea of how everything might fit together.

We’re also going to test this idea of an enriched speaking engagement: not just a talk, but also slides, transcript, additional resources, answered questions, and maybe even sketchnotes of the two talks before me. Because I don’t like boring people with bullet points, my slides have very little text on them. I want people to be able to remember and share the key points afterwards, though. I’m going to record the talk, turn it into a mini e-book, and share it with people as a follow-up.

I’ll post the mini-e-book on my site within two weeks. If you want to be notified once I’ve posted it, please leave a comment there or e-mail me at speaking@sachachua.com with the subject HARDLINES.

Here we go!

Sketchnotes from #ENT101: Business Model Canvas–Mark Zimmerman

November 28, 2012 - Categories: sketchnotes

This talk is part of the free MaRS Entrepreneurship 101 series (webcast and in-person session every Wednesday). Feel free to share this! You can credit it as (c) 2012 Sacha Chua under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada licence. Click on the image for a larger version of sketchnotes.

20121128 ENT101 Business Model Canvas - Mark Zimmerman

Check out my other ENT101 sketchnotes, or other sketchnotes and visual book notes!

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Awesome Foundation Toronto pitch night: Kensington Mesh Network, Women and Tech, Lovecraft TO, 360 Screenings

November 29, 2012 - Categories: sketchnotes

Got an awesome idea? Every month, the Awesome Foundation Toronto trustees get together and award $1,000 in a brown paper bag to the coolest idea and team!

20121129 Awesome Foundation Toronto - Kensington Mesh Network, Women and Tech, Lovecraft TO, 360 Screenings

Congratulations to Lovecraft TO – good luck with your project.

Check out Awesome Foundation Toronto or my other sketchnotes!

Sketchnotes: The 5 Key Elements of a Better B2B Content Marketing Strategy–Nolin LeChasseur

November 30, 2012 - Categories: sketchnotes

Nolin LeChasseur of Brainrider shared these 5 key elements of a B2B content marketing strategy:

  1. Prioritize measurable objectives
  2. Articulate the business you’re in using customer terms
  3. Profile target customer segments
  4. Identify content that’s working now
  5. Develop content aligned with what your customer wants to know

Click on the image to see a larger version.
20121129 Brainrider - The 5 Key Elements of a Better B2B Content Marketing Strategy - Nolin LeChasseur

For more details, check out the slides and the video of a previous talk!

Like this? Check out my other sketchnotes for business- and technology-related visual summaries. Want me to draw for you? Get in touch!

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