Leverage Networks

Over the last several months, my mission has been to focus on company scalability. As a community minded individual, implementing a business model that would encourage Talixa to grow only when we help others do the same has always been a priority. I would argue that this is the reason we saw so much growth so quickly. In April, Talixa transitioned from a part-time company to a full-time company. By July, we had enough projects to keep us booked full-time through the end of the year.

Initially, those were my goals. My work revolved around doing whatever I could to ensure that the company was an asset to the community. As we’ve brought on more team members, I needed to redefine what specifically I could do to allow Talixa to become an even greater asset to the community. What I’ve realized is that I need to make myself available to the rest of the community so I can see more of our community reaching their potential, through Talixa’s infrastructure.

Tom never needed me to help him grow his company. I firmly believe that. However, in looking at what happened as a result of my decision to be a part of the company’s growth, I realized that the element of collaboration, transparency and accountability could explain the rapid growth. When other people can see what we’re working on, we can get the necessary feedback to make the right decisions to position ourselves for sustained growth.

With all that said, Talixa Software & Service, LLC is offering a brand new service… one that I’m particularly excited to share. As far as social media is concerned, our community overall does a fantastic job of utilizing facebook to spread the word and market the products and services that are locally available. However, I have seen very few people utilizing twitter to its fullest potential. People like Elon Musk (Tesla, Space X, Boring Company) are utilizing twitter to accomplish unbelievable things and reach the masses, despite claiming that it is the most difficult platform to conquer.

I have been in the process of tearing the platform apart, breaking down every bit of information I can understand, in order to come up with a process to leverage our local networks and scale our community, catering to our strengths and capitalizing on them. Our business model has worked incredibly thus far, so I don’t intend to change it at its core. Talixa will only scale by helping our entire community do the same. For this reason, we have created twitter business packages to deliver exceptional value, and the reason we can offer the service at the most competitive price is because we’ve created a win-win scenario… a blue ocean.

If your business is on twitter, send us your twitter handle (e.g. @TalixaSoftware) and we’d be happy to give you some extra exposure through our twitter, even if you aren’t actively tweeting content. If your business isn’t on twitter, make an account right now! Otherwise, you’ll miss out on the huge potential to accomplish immeasurably more than you’d expect. If you’d like to learn more about our service, check out this link: bit.ly/2MuMPoF

If you have any questions or feedback about what we’ve ventured into, please reach out! We’d love for you to be a part of what we’re doing and reap the benefits alongside us.

Hack Day

In December, I participated in the MLH Local Hack Day. Hack Day is an opportunity for tech nerds of various disciplines to get together and collaborate on projects or to simply attend lectures presented by various people and organizations.

During Hack Day, I was invited to speak to the students of our local tech school – South Hills School of Business and Technology – about my experiences as a programmer and an entrepreneur. One of the topics of my presentation was advice for aspiring developers.  Below is some of the advice I gave.

Never stop learning.  The people who get ahead in life are those who are educated. They read daily. They are always learning the skills needed for tomorrow’s workplace. Those who are left behind – particularly in tech – are those who have antiquated skills.

Shut the TV off. At the end of your life, you will never look back and say “I wish I had watched more television”. TV can provide entertainment, but it will never help us achieve our goals. In fact, TV will derail our goals and dreams by preventing us from acting to achieve them.

Learn Linux. It’s sad the number of techies out there that don’t know their way around a Linux server. Given the number of things that run Linux such as Android, Docker, AWS, and Google Cloud; knowledge of Linux is crucial to your tech career. If you’re stuck in a Windows-only world, it’s time to diversify!

Master JavaScript. Like it or not, JavaScript is becoming the dominant language of development. Not only is JavaScript the defacto language of the web, it is increasingly being used for server side development (Node), build automation (Grunt), robotics (Johnny5), and has become the standard language for passing data between systems (JSON).

Master Web Development. Along with the growth of JavaScript, web technologies are exploding too. Cordova and Ionic allow web technologies to be used to create mobile applications and Electron allows JavaScript to be used for cross-platform desktop applications.

Write Code Daily. A weight lifter gets stronger by lifting weights. A runner gets faster by running. A coder gets better by coding. Reading books is great, watching videos is cool too. But if you want to write better code, get in the habit of writing code every day.

This is just a short list of the advice I provided. Nonetheless, it’s a pretty solid checklist to start down the path to becoming an expert software engineer.

Know Your Numbers

As a US based tech company, if someone were to ask which language we would use to be able to communicate with the most people around the world, “English” would probably be the expected answer. While English is second only to Mandarin Chinese (the most spoken language in the world), communicating nonverbally through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) would serve as a more universally effective method. Regardless of whether the person on the other end of the conversation can speak the same language, anyone can relate through numbers.

In business, numbers are considerably more important. From margins to revenue and analytics, companies live and die by their numbers. Some of my favorite businesses have closed, not due to a lack of quality in their product or service, but because they failed to understand how to properly manage and utilize numbers. Sadly enough, companies with millions of dollars in revenue can still have little to no profit. Likewise, companies can often easily fail to deliver on the value proposition of their product or service.

As I continue to help Talixa develop and grow through refining our business processes and my own social media processes (specifically twitter for the time being), I constantly am looking to see what the numbers can tell me. Experimenting is one of the best ways to learn, because it leads to a wider range of experience. Individuals, businesses, and organizations can develop and grow simply by taking action upon an understanding that numbers are a priority.

Looking for advice based on anything I’ve said? I’m happy to give it, free of charge. Reach out using any of these methods:

DM Talixa on Twitter: twitter.com/TalixaSoftware
Message Nick on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/nick-gordon
Email Nick: nick@talixa.com

Organizational Aspirations

Throughout my life, I have observed that there are two types of people out there – those who aspire to excellence and those who are content to get by. This extends to businesses as well. For example, consider Chick-fil-a. Just like McDonald’s or Burger King, Chick-fil-a is a fast food joint.  But unlike their competitors, it’s apparent that Chick-fil-a aspires to be something more. You see it in the quality of their staff and the quality of their food. As far as fast food goes, Chick-fil-a is the gold standard of excellence in all that they do.

Unfortunately, there are too few businesses out there striving for excellence. Companies try to cut corners, find the cheapest bidder, outsource their call centers to people who struggle to speak English, or engage in other practices that show anything but excellence. These companies try to gain our confidence but they never will. We may use their products and services, but only when we’re looking for a cheap solution. Indeed, these companies have turned their products and services into commodities differentiated by nothing but cost.

When people look at the goods and services your company offers, what do they see? Are you an organization demonstrating excellence in all you do, or a another in a long list of organizations content to push the mediocre?

Contagious Generosity

Social experiments are rather interesting. Looking back at my high school senior project from a number of years ago, I had almost finished preparing a research presentation about how collaboration, gratitude, and generosity are integral to the success of individuals, businesses, and organizations. As I stared at my screen, however, I felt as though something was missing. While the research was both accurate and interesting to me, I had my doubts that anybody else would care. Why would they? After finding out that I would be one of the first presenters, I quickly devised a plan that involved some scheming and a trip to the store.

From the start of my presentation, the other students could see that I brought a few shopping bags full of something, and it caught their attention. When the time came I unveiled the great mystery and passed around several different bags of candy to different groups of students. To go along with the candy were some very specific instructions. I not only gave each group the option to do with their candy as they pleased but also informed them that groups would go one at a time.

The first and last groups were the most interesting to watch, because the first group had the opportunity to set the trend of sharing their candy, while the last group had complete freedom to keep their own candy in addition to what was shared with them. Everyone willingly shared, and they ended up with a better variety of candies than they started with. As others presented in the following weeks, quite a number of them brought in more candy as well. I was pleased that a simple activity caused my presentation to become more memorable and effective.

In applying these principles to helping businesses develop and grow, I can’t help but relate this experience to what I see with Talixa. We hire people who offer something unique in certain areas and constantly fill in our gaps. The company has grown by focusing on serving others to the best of our ability, while delivering maximum value and doing the job the right way the first time. Our team has proven time and time again that our services greatly exceed the minimum requirements. I urge you to start implementing new ways to reach more people with your generosity, and prepare to watch your business grow.

Making Money

We all want to make money. While we know that “money can’t buy happiness”, it’s a whole lot harder to be happy when you are struggling to get by. So, how do we make money? As a business owner, I have been forced to think about how money is earned – not only by me but by those in my organization. I concluded these are current three ways that money is generated within my small business.

Perform Billable Work. The first and simplest way to make money is simply to perform work that will be paid for by someone else. In the software industry, this means writing code. In other businesses, it means performing the work that defines the function of the organization. This is the most visible way to generate revenue. These are also the easiest to consider hiring as their efforts directly generate revenue.

Bring In New Customers. Organizations can only grow and thrive if new customers are coming onboard. The best software staff in the world can’t work if there’s no work to be done. While bringing in new customers doesn’t necessarily generate revenue, it fills the pipeline of billable work that is needed to keep a business moving forward. As these staff members don’t directly generate revenue, they are more appropriate to hire based on commission.

Free Up Time of Others. The third way to generate revenue within an organization is to enable others to accomplish their mission unimpeded. Secretaries, assistants, human resources, accounting, are examples of this. They perform work that frees others do to billable work. This is even more apparent in a small business. My personal assistant does all the little things that need done so I can focus on billable work. These staff members are the hardest to hire as they must be paid from the money generated by other staff. However, the time they free for billable staff can make them easily worth well beyond the salary they receive.

As an employee, where do you fit in within your organization? How much revenue do you generate for your organization? Is it directly or indirectly generated? If you know the answers to those questions, you can better understand your value within an organization.

Goals Not Resolutions!

As the new year begins, many of us will be making resolutions. “I’m quitting smoking” or “I’m going to the gym every day”. Typically, these resolutions don’t last into February. Why is that? Maybe it’s because we believe that, magically, just because the year changed our behaviors will change too. This year, instead of focusing on a resolution, why not set measurable goals for the year. For example, instead of a resolution that says “I’ll quit smoking”, you instead set a measurable goal such as “I am going to smoke two less cigarettes each month until I have quit this fall”.

Resolutions frustrate us because we see ourselves as failures when we mess up. When we want to quit smoking, after we’ve messed up once or twice, we abandon the resolution and continue with the old behavior. When we set goals instead, we innately recognize that we have a road to travel to reach our destination. We also acknowledge that there will be bumps along the way on the road to success. A setback today does not end our journey – it merely means we need to keep trying and working harder to reach our goals.

Where you find yourself next January will be determined by what you do this year. If you focus on resolutions, you’ll be in the same place next year with similar resolutions. If, instead, you focus on goals; you’ll start to see your life progress in the direction you want.

New Year New Me?

After Christmas each year, many people begin a process of introspection in order to help determine their New Year’s resolution. While resolutions generally aim to improve oneself or a particular aspect of life, few actually survive very long. In my own experience, the promise of change on New Year’s Day was more of a novelty than something that I truly considered and took seriously. In all honesty, thinking about becoming a better person is vastly more fun than actually taking action to make it happen.

Regardless, most people admit that they do, in fact, want to improve in certain areas. My greatest criticism of New Year’s resolutions and phrases like “new year new me” comes out of the premise that in order to effectively develop and grow, people need to constantly focus and reevaluate. Quite frankly, bringing others along into the process to create a feedback loop and accountability serves an essential purpose as well. When change is important enough, it should be implemented immediately rather than wait around for the first of January. Further, if a person needs a holiday to change, then how genuine is that desire?

With that being said, if you have been thinking about how to change going into the new year, might I suggest that you start now, instead of waiting for Tuesday to roll around. Whether you want to make changes to improve your health, family, work, or something else, be mindful of why you really want to change, how you plan to get there, and what consequences will result from your success. Every morning presents a new opportunity to become someone different than you saw in the mirror yesterday. Be encouraged, and feel free to save and return to this article to refocus throughout the year.

Opportunity Awaits

Timing is everything, and managing time properly is extremely important as well. Tim Ferriss might say it best, “If you don’t have time, you don’t have priorities.” Assuming people read the big letters that make up the title of this content, they may be asking “Why all this talk about time and timing instead of opportunity?” The simple answer becomes quite clear by taking a look at the second word: Opportunity AWAITS.

Now take a moment to think of some opportunities that impact life. Whether it’s a first date, a new job, or a college acceptance letter, these opportunities, regardless of magnitude, contribute to the direction of a person’s life. Smaller opportunities can lead to greater opportunities, and over a short period of time, life can radically change. While it’s impossible to anticipate every opportunity, people can prepare to capitalize on any opportunity, good or bad.

As a company, our preparation is critical to the success of both our clients and our business. We know that success does not happen by accident, yet we also do our best to put the needs of others above our own. In reality, we understand that the value of education far outweighs a pushy sales pitch, so we spend our time and money educating ourselves and others who express interest in who we are and what we do. In doing so, we hope that the friends we meet along the way appreciate what we do for them and help spread the word.

If you have interest in learning more about why we continue to work with new businesses to develop and grow, simply click on the “Contact” tab and choose your preferred method. Opportunity awaits!

Limit[ed/less]

Over time, there is an infinitely small likelihood that I would be capable of talking about this blog individually to everyone who will ever be interested and invested in the content. As more content meets more people, time would inevitably run out. Fortunately, with the help of technology, here we are. The limitations of the internet are not the same as the limitations of my mouth, and building upon this foundation brings some game changing ideas.

While the internet provides much better potential to reach more eyes and ears, nobody wants to give up the benefits of using their mouth to speak. Nobody wants to upload their entire life to YouTube either. If humanity would become incapable of speaking, however, the way we think about even the smallest aspects of everyday life would change, similar to how the internet has impacted how we interact with the world. This leads into what we can learn  and apply to tech and business.

Regardless of individual circumstances, people have areas where they are presumably limited more or less than others. For instance, the fact that I am 6’4″ implies that my height is much less limited than most. But how would things change if we alter the conditions? You might be pleasantly surprised at the result if you consider questions like this in a variety of circumstances.

When applying this thinking to finances and business growth, the effect becomes clear. Say a business operates on $200,000 per year. What would be done differently (and why?) if the business had an annual operating budget of $100,000? How about $400,000? Putting businesses into these hypothetical situations will inevitably help foster a mindset of growth by overcoming presumed limitations in a practical way.

Circumstances will certainly change over time, for better or worse. By asking these questions now, you can gain a better understanding of why you might choose to take one course of action over another. Hopefully this entire process will help you more adequately prepare for your next big decision. After all, with preparation and execution people develop and grow.