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You Should be Fired!

Do Not Block Fire Exit

Maybe you should be fired.

I don’t mean like, right now, today, at your current job, but I do mean that, I think everyone should be fired at some point in their life. I think it’s a good thing, and helps people put things into perspective.

Some people get too comfortable, or stop caring about the work they do, and just show up, and somehow pass the time, all for that paycheck every two weeks.

Not everyone loves their job, or the work they do, and even those folks who do will have bad, annoying, failure days now and again…

It’s like that movie, where the main character has never been dumped, but is always the one doing the dumping. It’s probably good to see things from both sides of the table.

Being fired is like a reset button… hopefully in a good way.

There may be some wallowing, and drinking, and swearing, but hopefully in the end, it’s the right thing for all parties involved.

I’ve seen more and more people start their own businesses, and become much happier, due to losing their jobs.

Sometimes it’s the kick in the ass you need.

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The Zero Budget Fallacy

Another day, another couple of links to interesting projects…. projects that are interesting not just because they were executed well, and created something worth seeing, but interesting because once again the people behind them claim that they did it for “zero dollars” or “300 dollars” or some other number that is ridiculously low.

As someone who has worked in the creative industry for many (many) years, I know it’s not true, and I’m guessing others in the creative industry also know it’s not true, but does everyone know? Does the general public know? Do potential clients know?

One project was a film that someone worked on for 6 months, and the end result was pretty damn cool, but by claiming the project cost $300 the person is suggesting that their time was worth nothing, and their equipment was worth nothing, and somehow it all just materialized out of thin air.

Another project (again, a film) said it was done with “zero budget” which I guess means the experience of the people involved was worthless, and the $10,000 worth of equipment they used was just sort of magically handed to them, and anyone could have it.

If your band wants to shoot an epic music video for free, and you manage to get your friends with the experience and the equipment to donate their time, and the results are amazing, that’s cool… I’m all for it. Just don’t devalue the efforts of all involved by saying it was done for $0.00

I’m going to assume that the people behind these things know what they are doing, and my guess is that what they are doing is marketing. To that I say well done! It’s clever, I’ll give them that.

But wait, don’t I do the same thing? I mean, I shot like 50 free portraits at BarCampMilwaukee4. I could say it cost me NOTHING but in all honesty, Sam Dodge and I spent a few hours doing the shooting, and I spent many more hours editing and posting the photos, and I had to buy my equipment in order to even take photos (as did Sam) and I had to put in hours to learn how to shoot portraits… Don’t get me wrong, many things can be done for low-costs, but to assume it costs nothing seems silly.

If you look at a project like Help-Portrait, it’s about giving back, from people who are skilled, and have the equipment, and want to help others. It’s only made possible by the fact that people are willing to donate their time (which has some value) and that people have the needed equipment/supplies/etc. (which was probably paid for from some other paying job.)

If it’s a labor of love, and a project you want to do, by all means do it, do it well, do it great, and talk about it. I just have an issue with people telling other people it cost them “nothing” to create something. I’m working on a film and while I’m doing it for very little cost, and even though I’m borrowing a lot of the equipment, there’s still consumables like gasoline, and tapes, and paper, and ink, and things like hard drives and software, and web hosting, and there’s the many, many, many hours I’ve spent (and will spend) shooting, and editing, and eventually promoting it.

There’s an old saying that comes to mind: It’s only free if your time has no value.

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Business Disruption

I have this problem… whenever I see some commercial service demonstrated, I start to think of the alternatives to it. Why is that?

I got a demo of an interesting service recently, and the first thing I thought to myself was “hmmm, this is really similar to what I had running in Drupal two years ago” and then I thought about how the service could be cloned with a few Drupal modules and a few days of hacking. I was relatively sure WordPress also had similar plugins to attain the feature set. (I’m probably underestimating the amount of work, but we tend o do that sometimes, don’t we?)

Don’t get me wrong, the service I saw was not without value… it had great value! But the support for the service was probably the number one value. I mean, the software wasn’t magical (it may have some magical stuff on the inside or on the backend filter that I didn’t see) but the basic functions were not in any way amazing. For someone who doesn’t want to think about it, and outsource all the technical voodoo to someone else, it would probably appear pretty damn amazing, so if that’s you, then yes, it was amazing.

At that point I start to wonder… should they have built their product on top of any open source platform like Drupal, and then build things on top of the plumbing it provides? Expertise, customization, support, hosted services… and on and on.

Maybe it’s the whole “we have tiers, it’s $XX per month, or $XXX per month or $XXXX per month depending on the features you want” where I start to think that cloning it would be a great idea for someone, because somewhere, somehow, there’s always someone who wants to build it themselves, or modify it, or make it do something someone hasn’t thought of yet, or even just not pay $XXXX per month for something.

Maybe business deserves to be disrupted sometimes.