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Top Ten Life Lessons I Learned From Playing Seconds of Madness May 31, 2006

Posted by Amanda in New Squeaks.
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If you haven't heard of the game, Seconds of Madness, check it out at http://ghost.aesthetic.ru/ It's worth the time spent screaming at your computer screen. Many of life's lessons can be learned from analyzing your mistakes. So without further ado, here they are…

Top Ten Life Lessons I Learned From Playing Seconds of Madness

10. The more time you spend practicing, the farther you'll get.
9. Sometimes you have to jump through a few hoops to get where you're going. Expect a few speed bumbs along the way.
8. The simplest moves are often the best.
7. Don't over anticipate. Things can look different up close.
6. Sometimes being distracted by others IS a good thing. We often get the farthest when we aren't trying.
5. It's not where you're going, it's how you get there.
4. Provide your own music, Life is kinda dull without it.
3. Take heart when you can, the opportunity is few and far between.
2. Hitting solid objects at high speeds is not a good thing.

And the number one thing I learned from playing Seconds of Madness:
All good journeys must come to an end.

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Can’t Complete High School? Go Right to College May 30, 2006

Posted by Amanda in The Job Maze.
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Everyone know that a college education is the key to landing that high paying job, but what if you never finished High school? Apparently that’s not a problem, according to Karen Arenson of the Amherst Times. In her article, published today, she says that, “… many colleges — public and private, two-year and four-year — will accept students who have not graduated from high school or earned equivalency degrees.”

While I support people continuing their education, will this undermine Higher Education? If Employers see that you have your degree, they usually won’t ask if you have your High School Diploma. It’s just assumed that you do. Statistically, there may be more students like this than you may think. “There are nearly 400,000 students nationwide, accounting for 2 percent of all college students, 3 percent at community colleges and 4 percent at commercial, or profit-making, colleges, according to a survey by the United States Education Department in 2003-4. “

Not having your high school diploma also makes it harder for the students. Many college courses assume that you have that prior knowledge. I should know, just having completed a Plant Science course that expected me to remember everything from my Sophomore Biology class (that’s Sophomore year of High School, not college). Are you undermining yourself if you just skip over the HS diploma?

Also, there’s a big debate over whether or not the state should fund these students.

Gov. George E. Pataki, however, tried to withdraw state tuition grants from students without high school diplomas this year. Mr. Pataki said the students should show their commitment to education and earn 24 college credits before the state gave them financial aid.

“In too many cases, students fail to graduate from college because they were admitted to programs for which they were academically underprepared,” a spokesman for the governor, Scott Reif, said.

The State Legislature rejected the proposal. The state budget office estimated that it paid $29 million a year for 13,000 students who never graduated from high school to attend college.

What do you think? Click here for the entire article!

High School , Higher Education , George E. Pataki

Keep it Simple May 29, 2006

Posted by Amanda in A Better Mouse Trap.
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Kathy Sierra over at Creating Passionate Users had a great post a few days back about what Sudoku would be like if Tech Companies had made it (if you don't know what that is, you may want to start digging out from under that rock your hiding). 

 Sudoku

This isn't just a dig at Microsoft and Co. but good advice for all businesses.  It fits under the same thing I was talking about in my last post.  You can't please everyone, and if you try, you're just wasting those resources. 

In a great quote Jason Fried says, "You don't need to outdo the competition. It's expensive and defensive. Underdo your competition. We need more simplicity and clarity."  

So while you're debating the your analysis of the business situation, consider simplicity and streamlining.  Maybe you customers would like to have good old fashioned service, without the bells and gimmicks.  I've run into this problem with webhosts.  Especially my current one.  Instead of allowing customers to buy what they need for their website, you are only allowed to buy "packages" which consist of a bunch of useless things you'll never use, bundled with the one thing you will.  I had chosen a smaller most expensive host for the service, but as time has gone on, the service has only gotten worse.  They advertise, "TWSites is the provider you can count on for maximum availability and old fashioned, knowledgable, person to person support."  Yes, person to person support that takes two days to get a response from.  And though the owner (and the only person I have ever dealt with on this site) assures me that he can accomodate my needs, but that has yet to be seen.  Just realise that customers would much rather have a simple product and great service than a huge product with all the bells and whistles with horrible service[/end rant]

Entrepreneurship , Customer Service , Jason Fried , Kathy Sierra, Creating Passionate Users

You can’t please everyone May 27, 2006

Posted by Amanda in A Better Mouse Trap.
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Ideas  I'm sure almost everyone has heard the phrase, "You can't please everyone" and although that seems like common sense, I've seen some of my fellow competitors take it very hard when the idea they spent hours working on gets a bad review from the judge.  But judges are people too, and everyone has a different opinion. 

For example: The way the competition is set up, you can submit the same plan at state more than one year, as long as you do not compete with it at Nationals.  So, since I normally compete in E-Commerce at Nationals, I've submitted the sample plan more than one year.  The first year, the Judge loved my idea of a small community bookstore, but there were problems with my financials and I'd forgotten a page of the plan.  The second year, the Judge hated the idea of a bookstore.  He gave me top marks for the plan and financials, but took off points for the idea.  He just didn't think a bookstore would work in this age of Amazon and huge online superstores.  And that's a matter of opinion until I try 🙂 

So, even if some people don't like it, that doesn't necessarily mean you won't succeed.  If you believe enough in your dream, and you have the talent, you can do anything you want!

The Passion of an Entrepreneur May 26, 2006

Posted by Amanda in A Better Mouse Trap.
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So, for my first on topic post, I decided to start on Entrepreneurship.  I have been an entrepreneur since I was about the age of 4 years old and I had the best Marketing plan there can be. It was based on cuteness and the utter inability of parents to say no when their  presents a rock, colored with crayons, in exchange for a couple of those shiney things called quarters.  Granted, the niche market was saturated pretty quickly. But my dad still has one of my rocks on his desk at work which he displays proudly as a paperweight.

Through the years, I've tried many other things.  From marketing fresh fertilizer from our horse farm (Happy Healthy Gardens never passed the passing around flyers stage.  It seems it was undermined by my competitors (Mom and Dad) giving away the product for free.  Darn that pentration pricing!) to selling my brother's old baseball and football cards.  As I've gotten older, I've focused more on the planning stages and less on the implementation.  I've written several business plans, but never taken that final step of investing my full energy and time into one.

Scott Burkett has some great ideas on filtering your entrepreneurship, and evaluating which are good and which are … well, not so good, in his blog Pothole on the Infobahn.  He starts at step 1:

Stage 1: Wouldn’t it be great if … ?

This seems to happen to me at least 2 or 3 times a week. Every so often, I even go through a phase where it happens almost daily. I’m driving down the road and all of a sudden I blurt out a string of expletives to myself, usually prefaced with the word “holy.” If I happen to be with someone else when I have such an epiphany, you get something a little more in line with coherent English: “wouldn’t it be great if they did x?”. This is the seed. The nucleus of all things entrepreneurial. The birth of the big idea.

As for exit criteria, most ideas never pass through this stage to reach stage two. It’s one thing to come up with original ideas, but it’s another thing altogether to muster enough energy, desire, and passion to drive them along.

And then here is where I usually end up before I stash the plan away in my box of business materials:

Stage 5: Hmmm … how can I pull this thing together?

By the time an idea reaches the final stage, the entrepreneur is examining the launch process. What resources do I have available? How can I build this thing? How can I bring this to market? How do I capitalize this operation? What does the management team look like? What are my strategies for partnering, growth, exit, etc.

Some people create business plans in this stage, some do it later. In either case, it is vitally important to have an understanding, even upstairs, as to what your roadmap for success potentially looks like.

When you exit this stage, you are going through a rite of passage. The idea is original, validated by people you trust, seems like it could be sustainable, and you’ve now made a conscious decision to pursue it.

As a simple, personal benchmark, I’d say that for every 100 ideas that I have, only one or two will actually make it this far.

But I never reach the final elusive step 6, where you actually register your business at the local clerk's office.  Where do you normally end up?  How many new business ideas would you say you have in a week?  Remember, you have to have an idea and the passion to implement it to ever reach that elusive stage 6.

Tags: Entrepreneurship, Scott Burkett

Ta Da! May 26, 2006

Posted by Amanda in New Squeaks.
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Books! Whee!*drumrolls* Well, here it is! Welcome to my very first attempt at a business blog. 

To tell you a little bit about why I started writing:  I'm currently working at a job that has me searching the wonderful world wide web for some of the best business writers.  And while this blog will not actually be about my job, it seemed to make sense to save everything I'm learning and pass it along, rather than just forgeting about it.

 I'm particularly interested in Marketing, more specifically E-Commerce Marketing (sometimes called e-marketing).  I am a marketing major at the University of Missouri – Columbia, and I will be graduating in Decemeber of 2007.  For more information about me, my work history and my education, please check out the about me page!

 So, if you have any great articles, great books, or pearls of wisdom harvested from your own mind, feel free to drop me a line!

Tags: E-Commerce, Marketing, E-Marketing