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My Watch Seems to be Two Days Slow…

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Twinkle, twinkle, little bat! My product launch is where I’ve been at.

The Mad Hatter’s got a watch that’s only two days slow. Mine seems to be broken entirely and is now more of a glimmer on my wrist than a timekeeper. (Funny how time whistles by when you’re working hard.)

But I’ll get back here with more stories and more good stuff soon. I have a meetup group and another product that’s on hold, too.

Thank you all for hanging with me.

© 2010 Dummy Zero™ All Rights Reserved

Feuille Hawk Product Launch coming soon!

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Well, folks, my product launch for a new faux-finish designer tool is finally coming. It’s only taken a year – not to mention the prior two years of focus groups and tool engineering to get that tool to work its magic.

Our tool is called the Feuille Hawk™.

“Feuille” (pronounced foh-yih) is the French word for “leaf”, which refers to the intricate, leaf-like patterns created by this tool. The resulting texture  pattern is called the Feuille Finish™. It’s remarkably versatile, opening up countless interior design possibilities for walls and ceilings.

What’s really cool is that you can embed stones, glass, or tile into the texture to create a mosaic effect, something you might see in a premier Las Vegas hotel. You can also apply faux finishing and airbrushing techniques if you want a more colorful and contemporary appearance. (We were thinking that the finish on our ceiling would look really cool with a paintball spatter!)

All you need is a little drywall compound and our Feuille Hawk™, and you can literally transform those drab white ceilings and walls into surreal landscapes overnight – goodbye poopy popcorn and boring walls!

I realize this sounds like an ad. Okay, it kinda is. But I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished with my business partner and want to share it. Maybe some of you reading this would be interested in trying out our tool on your ceilings or your walls.

Unfortunately, our website isn’t finished yet.  So you won’t be able to find our Feuille Hawk™ or find anything about the Feuille Finish™. Heck, you won’t even find anything about feuille on the Internet because this is brand new (actually there’s more to that story, but I’m not going to spill it here). I’ll post our web address here as soon as our site is up.

And maybe when this launch cools down a bit I can get back to this blog and start writing again.

© 2010 Dummy Zero™ All Rights Reserved

A Big Dummy Try is All You Need to Succeed

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I was reading this sports story, St. George’s Calls an Audible, about a Rhode Island high school that pulled out of a game because of the size of the other team’s players.

The opposing team’s players were not just huge; they were NFL gigantic when compared to the “smaller” team’s players. And because of that disparity, the St. George coaches pulled out of the game because they were worried about the safety of their players.

So what does this have to do with my blog? Well, my issue with what the coaches did – understanding that I’d worry about my sons playing against those behemoths – is that the kids didn’t’ get even get a chance to test their mettle. They didn’t even get to try.

Playing that game for a kid would’ve been a good life lesson – it’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog. You’ve got to meet challenges head on and with skill, preparation, and the belief that you will finish no matter what. Okay, you may get knocked down more so than others. I did. But so what. You’re in the game to play and to win. So you get back up, get in the game, and you keep trying!

The takeaway from this story is especially appropriate for us creative types who try to participate in the business arena.

You’re going to find opposing players – both companies and individuals – exponentially bigger and maybe more talented than you are. You’re also going to run into people who nay say your creative bent. I know I did. But I continued. And so should you. Don’t sideline your talent, your invention, your idea or your tinkering because of what others think or say – or what you imagine they can do to you. Move forward. And keep your brain out of their gutter.

Eighty percent of the battle is getting out there and trying. The rest is how you use your gifts to realize your dreams. In fact, you can’t play if you don’t start. And you definitely can’t win if you don’t play. (Can you imagine what kind of junk we’d have in our lives if there were no competitors to beat or innovative products to use created by people like us? We’d still be reading those nasty DOS encylopedias. :-))

I didn’t give a crap about giant publishers like Wiley or Que because I knew in my gut that I was on to something. I already formed my own publishing company. And I went out and wore a path in book aisles for nearly a year before I made my move (that’s a really s-l-o-w game). Then I took action to make my dream of publishing and writing come true.

Now grab your ideas and gizmos and tinkerings and creative Pandas by the short fuzzy hairs. Then get that bloody helmet on and step up to the line. Time to show the world – and yourself – what you’re made of.

Game’s on!

© 2010 Dummy Zero™ All Rights Reserved

So I’ve Been Almost Crazy All These Years?

Guess my recurring happy-happy joy-joy behavior over the years finally caught my sister’s attention yesterday because she sent me this New York Times article to read, “Just Manic Enough – Seeking Perfect Entrepreneurs“.

Okay, it’s an interesting read and although it described me in parts, I am not as extreme as the star of the story, Seth Priebatsch. The sleep part may be closer to home, but I watch tv and listen to all kinds of music.  And I like to talk to people and listen to what they have to say. Why limit yourself to only one caged stream of thought? Imagine getting to live other  lives and thoughts and ideas inside your own brain for a while. Sometimes I feel like the Universe’s personal business and idea incubator. How fun is that!

And I believe that my ratio of qualities and quirks, including my hypomania, is just right for my psyche as an entrepreneur. So I should be able to pass any test they have out there to prove it. In fact, based on the article’s info, I’m flying just under the medication radar because I’m the near-perfect entrepreneur. 🙂

But this article also got me thinking about the fact that I haven’t yet approached other people for money for my product ideas. I’ve always thought it was better for my creations to be self-funded, especially during the start-up. Loose lips sink ships. So does extra weight.

The  Dummies concept is a case in point: I brought in the writer and organizational contacts. But I think now that I could’ve owned the entire franchise (or a bigger piece) by getting the financing and building my publishing company. Oh, well. No sour grapes here. Why would I want more than I have already anyway? And I still have a few bragging rights left lol. 🙂

Still, I’m leery of formal venture capitalists because they’re the epitome of too many cooks and they always want the big half of the pie. My dad worked with them and taught me a good deal about how they work. So it’s fair to say that I’m jaded. But that doesn’t mean smaller contributions from smaller investors wouldn’t work as well. Now I’m going to make an effort to move in that direction as foreign as it seems right now.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

In the meantime I suggest that you read the article to find out if it fits you. Also, if you’re looking for venture financing you can always try out the company that found Mr. Priebatsch and cut him a check for his “crazy” idea. (Personally, I think that Mr. Priebatsch is using some kind of stealth technology to mask his hypersonic mania so therapists can’t find him.)

I learned something else from the article: I think being almost crazy all these years has made me a better dad, better friend, and better entrepreneur. I think my family might like me better, too.

Thanks for the tip, sis.

Have you borrowed money for your own venture? Are you looking for investors? Let me know.

© 2010 Dummy Zero™ All Rights Reserved

4 Questions to Help You Make Sense of Dummy Zero™ Sense

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You may recall I hiked Mt. Woodson last week, torn meniscus and all. Well, I did it again yesterday evening with my good friend RF and her puppy, a handsome German Shepard. This time I wore decent walking shoes. And I cocooned my feet in thick socks – no blisters was my mantra! I also gave my left knee a good Pharaoh’s wrap with an ACE bandage.

The climb seemed easier this time for me. Of course, RF and her puppy bounced along the trail while I huffed and puffed. Once again I found myself at the summit. But this time feet okay, knee okay. All that mummification of my parts worked like a charm.

Then RF suggested we finish “the loop”. The loop meant walking the trail that winds along the backside of Mt. Woodson. This is the kindler, gentler path down the mountain that runs over three miles and darts lizard-like back and forth through the shoulder-high brush. Nice. I pulled up my socks and tightened my knee wrap. And off we went. RF and pup jetted off happily, setting a fierce pace (for me at least) that more often than not left me trailing behind them noticeably.

Why wouldn’t my long legs keep up? Then I noticed RF’s secret: for each of my strides, she was taking three to four! I tried taking longer strides to keep up. But the trail was so bumpy with jutting rocks at times that stutter-steps were all I could manage. I managed to catch up with her when she stumbled on some slippery parts of the trail.

At one point we were passing through a grove of trees that sheltered us with an amazing canopy of leaves and vines. RF must have seen me eyeballing them as we were passing because she blurted out, “Don’t touch the poison oak!” (so that’s what those vines were). So I streamlined my 6′ 4″ bod by tucking my arms in tight to my sides with my forearms out in front of me like a downhill skier in a tuck. I had a run-in with poison oak and poison ivy as a kid and I didn’t want to repeat that miserable experience.

But I wish she’d said something about the spiders because I would’ve ducked, too – I was clotheslined by half-a-dozen of their sticky webs stringing between the trees. Yuck. (In all fairness RF probably didn’t notice because she walked right under them. Lucky her.)

About two-and-a-half hours later the car was in sight and our stomachs were grumbling. (I couldn’t help mention to RF that I counted all nine of her “stumbles”. Actually, they were more like trips. But of course, the dirt was rising to meet her step before she’d had a chance to lift her foot out of the way. And dirt being dirt, it was difficult to see the protrusions rising up underneath it.) We had a good laugh and headed out to find food.

Ten minutes later we were dining alfresco, both of us in our still sweaty clothes. The puppy was lying under RF’s chair sharing his doe eyes with the couple sitting across from us. I guess that’s part of what makes puppies such great ice breakers. So as you’d expect we all started talking. First about RF’s puppy. Then about other dogs and how to train them. Then about what we each do. RF is a hair stylist. The woman is a horse trainer. Her date is a software engineer. In the midst of our conversation, RF adds that I’m the guy who wrote DOS for Dummies. “No,” I said. “I created the For Dummies® book concept.

I was now acutely aware that my Dummy Zero™ patch was emblazoned on my chest. So I launched into the For Dummies® story. I tend to talk with my hands and talk fast when I get excited. So my hands were blazing circle eight’s with all ten fingers spread out like I was palming a basketball. And my story was revving full-throttle from my mouth. No way a lip reader could ever keep up with that rush!

After we all said our goodbyes, I reflected on the For Dummies® conversation I just had. Then I thought about an earlier post I had made here about having a crunchy day, asking myself if I made sense. It reminded me of my dad who told me that for any venture you need to ask yourself four simple questions:

Is it believable?
Is it doable?
Is it achievable?
Does it make sense?

The answer to all these questions needs to be “Yes!”. The last question is the kicker. Case in point: I was asked to provide marketing consultation to a property management company. They wanted to expand their offerings to include tax preparation services for their wealthy property owner clients. Seemed interesting at first glance. But then I took one look at their existing skill sets, their core business resources, and their timeline (it was March) and it was a no-brainer, no-go to me. But not to them. They weren’t happy that I passed on the project. But last I heard their idea didn’t go anywhere.

“Does it make sense?” is the overarching question you need to ask about yourself and your venture within the context of where you are now and where you want to go. In fact, all these questions worked for my first Mt. Woodson hike, right? Others had done it successfully. I didn’t need any special equipment or training (okay, maybe some decent shoes for the first climb), and it took only a few hours out of the end of the day!

And for me, right now, this blog gives me a resounding “Yes!” to all of those questions because of who I am, what I’m writing about, and where I’m posting (Internet blog). And it’s this flash of my dad’s advice that’s started me on the path to transforming my Dummy Zero™ Blogpad from just telling the true story about who created the For Dummies® book concept to a destination for entrepreneurs, thinkers, inventors, and tinkerers to help them find resources to share their creations with the world.

I’m hopeful that you’ll understand the big point of my Dummy Zero™ Blogpad – you cannot create in a vacuum. Just take a look at the Newsweek article that I talked about in my last post for proof. How can you possibly have convergence of a stream of thought to the best possible outcome if your only stream is a single point of view? You must have disparate flows to connect no matter where they lie.

Does this mean that you have to brainstorm everything with others? Not at all. In fact, the related Brainstorming article from the last post tells you why. (To connect those disparate flows from a global marketing point of view, you should check out branding guru David Aaker’s book “Spanning Silos“. See how awareness of multiple divergent streams work?)

Along the way I’ll sprinkle bits and pieces of my life and my thoughts throughout. I’ll do this because I love to write. I’ll mention my family often because we all seem to have a similar entrepreneurial gene. Plus, they like to challenge my creative sensibilities. I’ll try to keep the stories and articles that I write relatively short (and entertaining) so you can get on with your day. But certainly, some topics require more attention and explanation than others and will be given more breathing space.

This blog is also an open forum for suggestions and comments. Everyone is welcome who would like to share and discuss new ideas or comment on anything that’s been written here.

These conversations are also the kinds of interactive streams that will feed your brain and possibly give you your own “a-ha!” flash of original genius.

© 2010 Dummy Zero™ All Rights Reserved

America’s Dummy Census 2010

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My mom suggested that I check out an article in Newsweek titled “The Creativity Crisis”. So I did, of course. (And thanks, mom!)

Surprise!

New findings in neuroscience are debunking the old “left-brain” right-brain” it’s-either-one-or-the-other myth. Creative types use both sides effectively and often. Plus, a fifty year study of creativity has given us a measurable framework that validates creative people’s thought processes.

Seems we’re not just dreamers. And we’re not alone. Not yet anyway.

Some highlights for us Dummy’s:

The accepted definition of creativity is production of something original and useful

There is no “one right answer” for a solution

To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).

Now the not so good news.

It appears that America’s creativity pool may be hitting the tar pits. And our educational system’s reliance on curriculum standardization plays a pivotal role in this potential demise.

In fact, when a researcher who studied the original data from this creativity study was asked by Chinese faculty in Beijing to identify trends in American education, he described the trend as a “focus on standardized curriculum, rote memorization, and nationalized testing.” The Chinese just started laughing and said, “You’re racing toward our old model. But we’re racing toward your model as fast as we can.”

Ouch.

Despite the revelation that America’s Creative Quotient is slipping into the mire, at least one school is trying to fight this tide. Teachers at the National Inventors Hall of Fame School, a new public middle school in Akron, Ohio, assigned a special problem-solving project to the entire fifth grade to work on. The results? Students met Ohio’s entire fifth grade curriculum requirements. I highly recommend that you read this Newsweek article as soon as you get the opportunity.

In the meantime, I think I’d rather look at this continuing half-century-old study as some kind of special Dummy Census for 2010. I do feel better knowing that folks like us have been counted, measured, and validated. And I’d like to participate next year as soon as I figure out who to talk to. (Any other takers?)

Still, the news about the possible dwindling pod of creative talent here in America makes me feel a bit like a Dummysaurus, creaky in the joints and cringing at the thought of another Ice Age.

Oh, well. Just call me D Rex.

For now anyway.

P.S. You’ll also want to read this related Newsweek article on Brainstorming.

© 2010 Dummy Zero™ All Rights Reserved

Dummy Me Can’t Drive 55

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I was talking on my cell and didn’t notice the Chippie hanging off my six until he pulled along side me to flash me five fingers twice.

Guess my foot was leaning too comfortably on the gas and I was hitting nearly 65 in a 55 zone. (Where I live there’s a stretch of road that’s heavily patrolled because some folks just drive way too fast. Imagine that.)

I was thankful I didn’t get a ticket. And thank you, Bluetooth. The CHP officer could have just as easily lavished me with a two-for-one special instead of a “Heads-up, Dummy!”

After dropping a few pounds off the gas pedal and finishing my call (close call?), I realized that I was so wrapped up in what I was doing and thinking that I completely spaced on everything around me. In fact, I wasn’t sure of what I had seen on the way from the house to the freeway. How many cars had I passed? Did I really stop at the red light? How long was that Chippie following me?

Aaaargh. I’ve been here before. And it reminded me that I needed to slow down – again.

Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in your thoughts and dreams. Ideas can come at any time and when they do it’s at the speed of thought. Capturing them can be work and can take time. I know at times I’ve caught myself thinking I must push ahead and get everything down on paper. Time is passing quickly. So I MUST be first. I MUST finish this thought. I MUST make this last recording.

But I’ve learned through several deep drops into the angst well that going hell bent for leather 24/7/365 eventually puts up a roadblock to my creativity and productivity. And it can be a real drag to a balanced life always being “on”.

So I decided to accept an invitation from several friends to hike Mt. Woodson. They wanted to show me the “Potato Chip”, a thin, flat outcropping of rock that’s famous in the area. A short drive later I was parking my car at the base of the trail. Oh, boy. This was going to be a long…steep…hike.

I think I counted 30 switchbacks on the climb up, places where the trail cuts back on itself slightly before continuing to the top of the mountain. I had to lean forward like some long jump skier just to walk because the slope was so steep. Thoughts of bumping my nose to the trail were starting to bubble into my head.

By the time I crested the summit I was 10 pounds lighter, most of that “lost” weight soaking my t-shirt. My legs were achy and my feet tender and hot. I don’t recommend wearing sneakers to hike in. But that gorgeous sunset vista massaged away the soreness of the blisters on my feet and the pinching throb of the ever-present torn meniscus in my left knee. The Potato Chip was just amazing, too. It jutted out of the face of the trailside boulders like Jay Leno’s chin. How cool was that! Great place for Yoga poses, too.

Finally, what seemed like a boatload of hours later, I was back down the mountain and on my way home. I started to think about how difficult that hike had been. And I thought about how I finished strong and about the other hikers I’d met along the way. That felt really uplifting. I also came away with ideas for some new products and an invitation to lunch to discuss a business opportunity. Not bad for two hours of hobbling sweat equity, eh?

So note to self and all you creative thinkers, entrepreneurs, and tinkerers: once in while take some time to check out your six. And slow down. Creativity — and Life — has a way of working itself out for you.

And you just might get where you want to go — without speeding.

Now that’s the ticket.

© 2010 Dummy Zero™ All Rights Reserved