DaedTech

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DaedTech Digest: Do You Worry about an Unoccupied House?

In past DaedTech digests, I’ve talked about the topic of whether we miss our stuff and about packing.  This kind of naturally gives rise to something that people ask me here and there.

Do you worry about leaving your house unoccupied for long periods of time?

The simple answer to that is no, we don’t.

But that wouldn’t make for much of a mini-blog-post, so let me elaborate a bit.  There is a set of circumstances that apply to us, but may not apply to others.

First, as I mentioned once before, our primary residence is something we purchased originally as a lake house.  We don’t exactly think of it (or anything) as a primary residence, and that informs our lack of concern.  In short, this is a house that we have a lot of practice leaving unoccupied for long stretches.

Also because this is a lake house, it doesn’t exactly make for a rich target for thieves, particularly during the winter.  The house exists in a sleepy little town with the sort of crime rate you’d expect in such a place.  Plus, most of the houses on these lakes around here are vacation properties or rentals, meaning slim pickins when it comes to things of value.  People tend not to stash their bearer bonds and family heirlooms at summer homes.  So, between that and our ADT alarm system and Nest cam, we’re not overly worried about break-ins.

And the final point is that my wife and I have lived life in transit for quite a while now, which creates an existence that necessarily deemphasizes material stuff.  So even if a break-in or Biblical flood or something happened, we’d just be out a bunch of stuff we hadn’t seen for a while anyway.  An insurance check, and we’d be all set.

If you decide to go the slow travel route, it might feel nerve-wracking at first to leave your place.  But practice makes perfect.

And so, without hesitation, we pack up the car, assign one of the cats as navigator, and hit the road.

Picks

  • This is kind of a strange pick because it’s not a service that I’ve used myself, but rather one that someone recommended to me today.  It’s called wealthfront, and it’s apparently a savings/investment tool that lets you specify your risk level, including a “never let this go below my original investment” setting.  So you can get a nicely higher return than a savings account, but without risk.
  • This is sort of a weird pick, because it’s more like a tiny hack.  But if you have a card or a board open in Trello, and you delete the URL information after its basic identifier and add “json”, you can see all of its API details.  This post describes it.

The Digest

And, that’s it.  Kind of a thin content production week for me, obviously.  I’ll have to try to step up my game on various other blogs.  As always, have a good weekend!

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Value Prop Workshop: A “State Matrix Audit”

Alright, let’s try something new for this week’s reader question.  As regular readers know, I do a “you asked for it” column where I answer reader questions.  But lately, I’ve been getting a specific form of questions.

People ask for help with their free agent/moonlighting value propositions.  Sometimes, these requests even involve offering to pay me some sort of hourly consulting rate.

Well, since I don’t do B2C consulting, and since I do have a blog to write, I’ve decided to start using these requests as fodder for blog posts.  My hope is that some examples round out various posts that I do on the subject.

So here’s what I’ll do.  If you have nascent ideas on positioning and value propositions and want feedback, hit me up via email (erik at daedtech) or on Twitter or something.  Let me help with your positioning ideas.

I haven’t yet fully worked out the best format for this, obviously, but I figure we can iterate.

The Value Proposition

Alright, let’s get down to business.  Here’s the first idea for a value prop that a reader sent to me.

I sell State Matrix Audit to small dev teams.

My ideal client is a team that built an app which works most of the time. But the devs or the management want to be sure it is correct and has [high availability]. My contribution is to audit the tech stack and application code and provide a report – which sequences of failures would lead to error states (downtime, data loss, etc). Along with estimated recovery times, automation suggestions, stack tweaks, etc.

I have a great track record of doing just this as a salaried employee and am thinking about converting this into a consultancy company of one.

The request was some help in refining this value proposition.  So let’s dive into this.

There’s a Lot to Like Here

First of all, let me address the state of the current prospective value prop.  And, I think it’s a relatively strong one on its face.  There’s a lot to like here.

The first favorable thing is that this sits in the realm of road-mapping.  In a post I wrote some time back, I talk about four phases of problem solving.

  • Diagnosis of a problem.
  • Prescription of a therapy.
  • Application of the therapy.
  • Re-application/maintenance of the therapy.

The further left (up?) you move with this, the more you’re perceived as an expert.  This means higher rates, better treatment, more demand, and generally a better life.  One of the problems with miscellaneous app dev is that it tends to sit squarely in the third bucket (with the first two often given away for free and called “discovery.”)

We don’t have that problem here.  This is diagnosing and prescribing therapy.

There’s also a clear appeal to the people within the organization that hold the purse strings.  People in leadership have a definite interest in acquiring knowledge ahead of time when it comes to potential outages, errors, etc.  It also helps that you offer remediation.

This is the core of something good.

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DaedTech Digest: Our Decision to Leaf-Peep

Each Friday (Thursday night, really), I publish a digest post.  And these posts are about the slow travel life.  For instance, last week, I talked about how we pick where to go.

Today, I’m going to diverge from the normal practice answering questions people ask me about slow travel.  Instead, I’m going to announce our next expedition.  We’ve made the decision to leaf peep.

Specifically, we’re going to be heading to Vermont for the entire month of October.  The last weekend of September, we’re going to pack up all of the boats, water-things, and general lake toys.  We’re going to store everything, and then we’re going to blast out of the area, heading for the very northern part of Vermont, near the Canadian border.

As I understand it, we’ve got an AirBNB that’s both remote and scenic.  This is the perfect location from which to take in the changing leaf colors of the season.  And we’ll probably do a couple of weekend excursions to locations like Boston and Montreal.

This is the perfect instance of what I was talking about last week.  Amanda and I just started talking about fall in northern New England kind of out of nowhere.  And then we pulled the trigger.

This, “screw it, let’s go to a place,” is the essence of what I love about the remote, slow travel life.

Picks

  • I’m in San Francisco (actually, San Mateo) this week, and had a style of dinner called Mongolian Hot Pot at the Little Sheep.  This is good stuff!
  • If you’re in the market for sunglasses, check out SunCloud.  I’m a convert.  Historically, I used to buy really expensive polarized glasses in the vein of Oakley or Rayban.  Sun Clouds are less expensive and every bit as effective, if not more so.

The Digest

As always, everyone, enjoy your weekend.

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The Servant Leader and the Illusion of Corporate Empowerment

Last week, I answered a reader question about what scrum masters are worth, financially speaking.  This gave rise to another reader question that I’ll tackle this week, and it has to do with the idea of the so-called servant leader.

Now, I usually follow sort of a FIFO approach for reader questions.  But I’m making an exception here because several people asked me the same question in the immediate aftermath of that post.

What do you have against the term “servant leader,” anyway?

They asked that because I threw some shade at the term in last week’s post, using the words “loathe” and “detest” to describe my opinion of it.  So I suppose it’s fair for people to follow up asking what my deal is.  And I should probably respond.

Here be dragons, like this one, when you accept a counter offer.

The truth is, up until now, my revulsion had been mainly visceral and subconscious.  But the exercise of outlining this post has helped me put more thought out bullet points behind a better thesis.

First Things First: Servant Leader, The Accepted Definition

Before I go any further, let me briefly explain the term itself.  This section will be journalism, rather than op-ed, as I explain the term to anyone unfamiliar with it.

A servant leader is, tautologically, one who practices servant leadership.  And servant leadership was defined in an interesting essay back in 1970, I believe, by a gentleman named Robert Greenleaf.

This essay is categorically not about line management of knowledge workers in the enterprise, nor was it about the enterprise at all.  Instead, it was a journey through ethical, moral, and even metaphysical considerations contrasting Messianic (servant leader) leadership impulses with will-to-power (autocratic) leadership impulses.  Greenleaf does not explicitly mention God, but he touches on faith, parables, societal ethics, and even, without irony, concepts like telepathy.

Eventually, the corporate world discovered this and does what the corporate world does — adopted it as the inspiration for a management fad.  It interpreted the historical, Taylor-esque corporate pyramid as the autocratic force in the corporate world.  And it defined a new, Messianic analog in which management exists to empower, rather than boss around, the line level employees.

So fast forward to the present, and “servant leader” is an in-crowd signaling term that represents “manager as enabler” rather than “manager as dictator.”

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DaedTech Digest: Picking Your Next Temporary Home

At one point of the week, I forgot what day it was.  Probably due to the US holiday last week.  But fear not.  I’ve recovered my equilibrium in time for yet another digest Friday.

Moving on from last week’s discussion of how we started slow traveling, let’s talk about perhaps the next logical subject.

How do you pick your destinations?

I wish I had a satisfying answer for this question.  I’d love to pro forma lifestyle blogger thing and lay out some complex evaluation matrix.  This would probably cross reference cost of living, seasonal trends, and a handful of other metrics that attempt to quantify happiness.  And then it would spit out, “yep, Charleston, South Carolina!”

But honestly, it doesn’t go like that at all for Amanda and me.

I’d compare our decision making process more to how we decide where to go for dinner.  There’s no conversation at all about it, and then, bam, out of nowhere “hey, do you feel like Thai food?”  When that impulse strikes, all the reasoned consideration in the world doesn’t deter you from gut feel.

So it goes with our slow travel ventures.  We’ll idly think of different places with a kind of “that might be interesting someday.”  Or, perhaps it’s destinations that would be really interesting right now, but won’t work logistically.  But there’s always one that sticks in the metaphorical craw, in a good way.

Like the Thai food, it’s out there, and you can’t send the idea back from whence it spontaneously emerged and embedded itself in your head.  It started out innocuously enough as “hey, I’ve never been to New Orleans” or “the leaves are really pretty in New England in the fall,” but it was destined for whim fulfillment.

And, that’s really it.  The only exception I can think of was a decision to spend time in Phoenix to see Cubs Spring training.  And that was because there was an obvious mission with an objective.

Picks

  • We had our wedding anniversary on Wednesday, and my wife got me this awesome present: a super durable leather wallet that’s nice to the touch.
  • Speaking of which, if you’re celebrating the leather anniversary with someone who doesn’t really like leather, you might be interested to know that leather roses are a thing.
  • A few weeks ago, I used NordVPN to get around a series of mlb.com blackout restrictions (boo!) and it was pretty seamless to setup and use.  That type of tool has come a long way.

The Digest

As it turns out, Hit Subscribe’s growth has left me in a position where I’m writing ever-fewer blog posts myself (at least publicly, I do also handle some ghostwriting for the business).  So this week, I’ve got nothing but podcast appearances.

As always, have a good weekend, everyone.