The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Coffee talk: Denise Jacobs, creativity evangelist and speaker — September 14, 2015

Coffee talk: Denise Jacobs, creativity evangelist and speaker

Denise Jacobs is a teacher, author and powerful speaker who will discuss processes and techniques for dramatically enhanced creative productivity at this year’s Sydney-based Web Directions Conference. While talking with Denise about her inspiring professional journey, we learned how to overcome speaking fears and procrastination. Read on for her tricks and story about finding her true passion.

How did you get to where you are today?

It feels like a long story, but I started making handmade soap in 1997 to get back in touch with my own creativity. My friends really liked it, and people kept asking if I sold it. At first, I found it baffling and kept saying, ‘no, no, no!’. But when people started asking what was in it, I started offering to teach them how to make it themselves. I had two small classes of about five people each at my house.

From there, I started teaching at an adult extension school. I discovered that I really loved teaching! Though I was working in the web industry on project management projects, I found myself without the passion I felt when helping people. I was knowledgeable about web stuff and had built some experience teaching, so I thought I’d combine them to teach web classes at Seattle Central College. About five years later, that job ended and I coincidentally went to my first web conference. I saw Molly Holzschlag, an open web evangelist, speak. What we were doing was so similar – but she was speaking in front of thousands. I instantly knew I wanted to do the same.

About four years later, I finally broke into the web speaking circuit. I had just authored my first book, The CSS Detective Guide, and it gave me the confidence to pursue opportunities. I took it by storm, applying everywhere, building a reputation as a good speaker. Now I get invited, which is a dream come true!

When did you realize that you had an ability to help others be creative and produce great work? 

It totally came from teaching. Through the soap classes, I realized that I was good at explaining, at helping people learn about the things they found interesting. Once I started at Seattle Central Community College, I knew I had found something that I was passionate about and wanted to do more of.

Today, you’re an accomplished public speaker. What tips do you have those with fear of getting up in front of people?

Two things. The first is to know that if you have one more piece of information to share than someone in the audience already knows, then you are helping. I find that people are afraid to speak because they feel like they don’t have anything new to offer. Remember, the lens of your experience is unique and people always need reminders. You are valuable!

The second piece of advice I can offer is to remember that people are rooting for you. Attendees aren’t sitting and casting an evil eye – they’re there to learn and be entertained. Think about this when you get in front of people. Know that everyone is supporting you.

You’re a featured speaker at the upcoming Web Directions conference. What’s special about this event? What are you most excited about?

I met one of the founders of Web Directions, John Allsop, at SXSW in 2006. I had long admired his work and used it in my classes, and he proved to be one of the best people I met! I’ve been wanting to speak at Web Directions for years, and was finally invited to do so this year.

Sydney, Australia: home of the 2015 Web Directions Conference

I’m also really excited to go to Australia – I’ve never been – and a lot of my industry friends like Hannah Donovan and Daniel Burka are taking part. The crowd is sure to be amazing, and I know it’s going to be a great time.

A frequent traveler, how do you stay connected when moving around? How do you stay focused?

To stay connected, I make a conscious effort to see people I know when I travel. This includes friends, or in new places, digital contacts. Connecting with people makes places more feel meaningful for me. One thing I like to do is shop for groceries wherever I go – it’s an everyday, self-care thing. Restaurants feel less grounded.

For staying focused, I concentrate on the thing that is in front of me. If I can, I don’t think about things that are too far out. I use an email auto responder with my upcoming schedule, Calendly for meetings, and airline apps like Tripit to help take care of little details.

What was your proudest, professional moment?

This past June, I was the closing keynote at a conference in Columbus, OH (an hour from where I was born/grew up). It was the first time I was able to have my Mother at a conference. As if that wasn’t enough, my 91 year old Grandfather also came from Detroit to hear me speak, and friends from my hometown, including my favorite high school teacher, were also in the audience.

This was one of my best speeches as I was really on and felt an amazing connection with the audience.

I had structured my talk in a way that helped me really speak to technical attendees, and made it a point to tie in the opening keynote with several other earlier talks from the conference. I was so honored to receive a standing ovation from that crowd, and in awe over audience feedback. It was a really special, magical milestone in my career.

How do you maintain work/life balance?

I bracket my time carefully when I’m home, and make myself stop working by using alarms. I deliberately don’t work on weekends. I also recently decided to start imposing a ‘mandatory beach day’ for myself after each work trip. This comes after a recent four-day staycation in Palm Beach (my backyard) which left me asking myself, “why don’t I do this all the time?!”

How can someone overcome procrastination to be more productive?

Instead of focusing on doing the task, trying just getting ready to do it. Open your app or document, get your notes together, maybe jot down a couple of ideas. By just getting ready, you may be inspired to do it. Another trick to try is the Pomodoro technique — block off a small amount of time for the thing you don’t want to do, knowing you only have to work on it for a limited time. You’ll be surprised how easily it can kick you into gear!

What, if any, events/workshops/classes do you regularly attend or recommend?

I can’t recommend Improv classes enough. Not only do they teach you how to be creative, but they’re great for building self-trust. They also help you realize that you don’t always need to plan ahead, how to collaborate and rely on others.

BATS in San Francisco offers classes, along with IO in Chicago and Gotham City in New York City. Find a place and go!

Where can we find you online?

My website, Facebook page, and Twitter are all good places to keep up with me.

Last, how do you like your coffee?

I actually prefer a chai tea latte with soymilk over coffee (chai tea is the best!), but if I get a coffee it’s usually a decaf almond milk latte.

Coffee talk: Danny Fiorentini, music-making creative and founder of Muzeek — August 21, 2015

Coffee talk: Danny Fiorentini, music-making creative and founder of Muzeek

A gut-follower and passionate creative, Danny Fiorentini chased his dream to Sydney where he co-founded Muzeek, beautiful software that’s changing the way artists and venues book live shows. Here, we talk with Danny about his journey, making music, and what it takes to build a great product.

How did you get to where you are today?

A whole lot of hard work, instant coffee, and ramen noodles. My team today is the hardest-working group of people I’ve ever been around, so it’s really a pleasure to come to “work” every day.

You followed your gut and moved from the United States to Australia to chase a dream. What advice do you give to people looking to do the same?

Well, the initial move to Sydney was for some personal inspiration, growth and a need to explore a bit more. Australia’s creative talent is through the roof, so I was initially looking to expand our indie-record label (that we dumped all of our student loans into) while going to graduate school on the side. I didn’t really know what I was looking for at the time, but knew I wanted to step away from my comfort zone and figure out what dream I was actually chasing within the industry.

I had been on the artist side, then production side, eventually followed by the label/manager side. Meanwhile, I found myself just wanting to go back to creating cool stuff behind the scenes – like when my brother and I first started making music. Moving to Sydney made me realize I needed to focus and go back to building & creating again, rather than just managing people. 

My personal advice for anyone chasing anything is to step away from your current perspective and try to see things from the outside-in. Focus on what you’re truly great at doing; if it’s something you love, you’ll never need any other reason to get up in the morning and make it happen.

What inspired you to create Muzeek?

Several things went into it, but mostly the idea of creating something valuable for the industry as a whole. I’ve used so many music-related platforms, but I felt like the industry was missing an integral component to live tech. Obviously the idea of technology and booking isn’t a new one, but I certainly felt the way it was approached was never done correctly. I really wanted to help contribute to the industry in a meaningful way.

Admittedly, the Internet’s evolution in general probably wouldn’t have permitted this platform to exist 10, even 5 years ago. I think it’s a combination of luck, timing and opportunity.

The biggest inspiration now is our user feedback. The team stays motivated just knowing we’re solving a real problem that’s gone unnoticed for so long. 

Why should someone opt to use Muzeek?

The platform will drastically reduce operational costs, automate a lot of the tedious stuff that bogs a booker down, surface valuable data that people currently miss out on, and above all, create a sense of transparency within a team that allows everyone to work much more efficiently.

We want to become the operating system someone has always wanted, but never knew was possible. We’ve focused meticulously on the details. We’ve approached this platform with an entirely fresh set of ideas about what live music booking needs, what it’s been missing, and how technology can remove 75% of the unnecessary manual tasks that take so much valuable time.

How do you attract attention from venues, bookers, and artists? What’s been your biggest challenge while building Muzeek?

Our users really attract the attention for us; as they all send out booking confirmations to new people, and those actions introduce Muzeek to new users. Because of this, we focus on making our existing users incredibly happy. We want each new person who comes into contact with Muzeek to be equally stoked.

The biggest challenge, by far, has been keeping up with customer demand — a good problem to have. Our team was absolutely blindsided by the amount of feedback from customers, so we tripled our development team to keep up. Luckily, most of the feature requests were already on our roadmap — we just needed to work faster.

You clearly love and live music, having previously co-founded Outbox Records. Which artists do you have on repeat now?

MuzeekI’m a big Tame Impala fan, so I’ve been on that new Currents album for a bit. Plus the Mark Ronson stuff is awesome — I was lucky enough to catch them live last month. I also think ODESZA is the best electronic music out right now. Their originality blows me away with every release. Other recent plays include Pond, Joey Bada$$, 20syl, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, The Walking Who, and our very own Prof3ssor Blue.

Where can we find you in Sydney?

Usually in Bondi avoiding sharks, or our offices in Surry Hills. Wherever it is, there’s a laptop in front of me!

Last, how do you like your coffee?

I don’t know how she does it, but my girlfriend makes the best instant coffee on Earth. She gets that milk-to-coffee ratio perfect every time. It’s definitely an art!

10 incredible Instagram accounts to follow right now — August 7, 2015

10 incredible Instagram accounts to follow right now

65% percent of people are visual learners, so it’s no surprise that brands, companies, and communities have taken to Instagram to share inspiration and information in engaging visual formats.

Eye candy with a bit of brain food is hard to resist, so we’re sharing ten incredible Instagram accounts that offer both. Follow along to fill your feed with new learnings and beautiful imagery daily:

  1. NASA

    NASAA feed that’s literally out of this world, NASA showcases planets, new technology, and all things celestial. Explore the universe through incredible videos and photographs while learning about each item shown.

  2. I Have This Thing With Floors

    ihavethisthingwithfloorsThoughtful design is everywhere — even under your feet! This insanely popular account features photos tagged with the signature hashtag, #ihavethisthingwithfloors. Photos of the gorgeous surfaces serve as a reminder to stop overlooking beauty (no matter how small) around you.

  3.  From Where I Drone

    From Where I DroneThis drone photography and cinematography offer striking, unseen perspectives of beaches, buildings, and people around the world. Are you a digital nomad or remote freelancer? Use these extraordinary images as inspiration for a future global work location.

  4.  Adventure Patch

    Adventure PatchGo to some of the best-known parks and places (with patches of each destination, held up ‘Dear Photograph’ style) with Keegan Jones, a talented Product Designer and adventurer who curates tagged images from the community.

  5.  Hand Drawn San Francisco

    Handdrawn San FranciscoA global tech community and adored travel destination, this brilliant account features drawings of some of the city by the bay’s most popular sights. Additionally, discover lesser-known places and hidden gems, as loved and sketched by artist Thomas Leach.

  6.  Folk Magazine

    Folk MagazineFolk Magazine inspires followers to live an authentic life. See beautiful environments as shown by the people who call them home, including ‘story-telling ramblers’ and millennial wanderers.

  7.  Coffee Cups of the World

    Coffee Cups of the WorldFolks around the world love coffee, as evidenced by the massive presence of the caffeinated beverage on Instagram. More than the lattes and cappuccinos, however, are the eye-catching cups the coffee is served in. Don’t miss the quotes, puns, brilliant business logos, and a medley of day-brightening patterns and colors.

  8.  Escape Your Desk

    Escape Your DeskYou’ll never want to break free of your office more than after looking through images posted by this account. Captures include creative workspaces, coffee shops, parks equipped with Wi-Fi and more. Get out there!

  9.  Breakfast in Sydney

    Breakfast in SydneySnapshots of Sydney’s best breakfasts may inspire you to prepare a delicious plate of your own. Arguably the most important meal of the day, breakfast will provide you with all of the energy you need to knock tasks off of your to-do list.

  10.  Passion Passport

    Passion PassportFollow some of the globe’s most active adventurers who capture breathtaking shots daily. Your next project may be your Everest, but you’re sure to find inspiration for accomplishing whatever you set your mind to after scoping out these photos.

Featured event: counting down to YOW! 2014 Conference in Australia — November 17, 2014

Featured event: counting down to YOW! 2014 Conference in Australia

This is a promoted post from our friends and Kickstarter backers at YOW! Conference.

News & updates 3

Melbourne 4-5 December | Brisbane 8-9 December | Sydney 11-12 December

Over 2,000 tech professionals will learn from the best and are expected to attend YOW! 2014 Conference which operates across three cities, with 42+ Speakers39 Talks and 24 Workshops.

There are over 42+ national and international software authors, thought leaders and world experts presenting this year about the latest practices, technologies and methods in software development and delivery. Many speakers have not presented in Australia before so this is a great opportunity to learn from them while they are in town! You can download the list of speakers here.

Topics covered in 2014 include the latest in Agile & Lean, Microservices, Architecture & Design, Functional Programming, Big Data & Analytics, Web & UX, DevOps, Performance & Security, Mobile, and Languages.

Check out the 10 Reasons why you should attend YOW! 2014 Conference.

So your mind is made up. You’ve seen the line-up and the location. You will be attending YOW! 2014 Confence in December. Now a common challenge… how to convince your boss to let you go? You’ll find some information that will help you and your boss make an informed decision here

News & Updates 1

To make the most of the opportunity, YOW! also offers smaller workshops with some of the visiting experts:

These workshops are a great way to learn specific skills, network and brainstorm with international field experts, local thought leaders and other talented developers about the latest practices, technologies and methods. Don’t miss out as places are limited.

Learn more about the workshops in Melbourne on 2-3 December or  Sydney on 9-10 December.

The world on your terms: why you can start a successful business anywhere — July 5, 2014

The world on your terms: why you can start a successful business anywhere

globeIt is common thinking that you need to be in San Francisco to start a big software company, in Paris to create the world’s best restaurant and on Wall Street to build the a successful hedge fund.

…but that’s not always the case. Chris Hexton explains…

Should Atlassian have thrived in Sydney? How did Noma become the best restaurant in the world, in Denmark?

These people broke the rules, and so can you.

There are three things that can empower you to start a company with major growth potential, no matter where you are:

  1. A global focus. When you’re driving a car at speed if you focus directly on an object, it’s likely you’ll hit it. Similarly, if you’re focused on being the best in your home market, that’s what you’ll be. If, however, you dream of being the best in the world from day one, you’re much more likely to find a way to turn this dream into practical steps that lead to reality.
  2. Access to the tools you need. Technology has changed the way we work. “Work” is now an action, not a place. This means that with a fast net connection and some elbow grease, you can serve clients all over the world from your home town, wherever that may be. Invest in the other tools you need to be successful – top-of-the-line computers, video conferencing gear, high-end software and most importantly, people. The right team can raise your company to new levels time and time again.
  3. A passion for where you live. If you aren’t happy, it’s nearly impossible to succeed at building a business. In order to maintain the necessary motivation and drive, it’s key to spend your time in a place you love. Whether that’s San Francisco, Sydney, Stockholm or Shanghai, the right atmosphere will fuel you with energy.

Global focus

When James and I started Vero, we lived in San Francisco. After just six months we decided to move back home to Sydney, Australia.

A big part of this decision was that we had committed to bootstrapping Vero and needed as much support as we could get from friends, family and the home city we knew and loved.

Over a year later, we’re more than happy with how things have turned out and how bright the future looks. The biggest fear we had before we returned to Australia was that people wouldn’t take us seriously.

After all, ”Why would customers in Europe or the US care about someone from Australia?”

It turns out that if you deliver a product that people want and customer service that impresses, customers don’t get hung up on location.

Moreover, we don’t act like we’re solely interested in Australian customers. In fact, we think big.

Everything we do – from marketing and customer support to development and strategy – is designed to help grow Vero into one of the world’s key email service providers. We wonder how we can build a template editor as good as Mailchimp’s, an audience as inspired as KISSmetrics’ and revenue as quickly as Dropbox.

Keeping a global attitude can be hard when you’re not ‘in the thick of it’ but there are a few things that have helped us keep our eyes on the prize:

  • Competitors around the globe. From San Francisco to Paris, Vero has competitors that we respect. Keeping the fire alive and challenging us to grow as fast as (and even faster) than these great companies is a huge help in terms of ambition and global focus.
  • The hunt for customers on the cutting edge. At Vero, customers that spend time exploring how email can grow their business are a pleasure to work with. Finding customers that want to push the boundaries usually means looking to the global leaders, regardless of where they’re located. We have amazing customers in Berlin, New York, Mexico and Israel, and we’ve seen first hand just how smart people are. These customers are located in some of the world’s most exciting cities and they inspire us each and every day.
  • An open mind. Is it cool to have customers in Berlin that have more customers than the entire population of Australia? Damn right it’s cool. Is it cool to have built something that helps them connect with these customers? We live in a crazy, high-speed, global world and you need to embrace every minute of it.

The tools

You need to be in a place that has everything you need.

If you’re a 23-year-old bootstrapping the dream, this might be your parent’s basement for a while. If you need $2 million, then you’re going to need investors. If you need a tech team of four, then you’ll have to find them.

Where can you best get the resources you need? At home, abroad, somewhere cheaper? I remember reading an article in Monocle advocating the pros of starting a company in your home city. The statistics suggested success rates were generally higher, as founders can get what they need from trusted connections they have made throughout their lives.

There is no doubt that legal, tax, employment and other advice has been easy for me to find at Vero here in Sydney: never more than a single phone call away. This has helped us immensely to date.

A passion for where you live

When my co-founder, Damien, sent me this photo a few mornings ago – and this is just around the corner from where he lives – it was a reminder of the passion and joy he has for where he lives (sunny Manly, in Sydney).

Coffee at Manly

There is an important distinction between ‘comfortable’ and ‘complacent’. You constantly need to find ways to raise the bar but, when so much of this comes motivating forces like customers, competitors and even an entrepreneurs internal fire to prove they can win, it’s important to live in a place you love, not hate.

This could be San Francisco or New York City, it could be Sydney or London, or it could even be Chang Mai. There comes a time in any business where most people can’t work 16 hour days every day. Rest is important (science says so, as does common sense). Being somewhere you can do the things you love, such as surfing in the morning, makes for happier people.

About our contributor // Chris Hexton is the co-founder of Vero. Follow him on Twitter via @chexton.

Image credit: via Martin Klasch

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: