Where has Harlan Been? Where is Karmaback Going?

I’ve been away from my Blog lately, and recently realized that not only do I miss it; some of my faithful readers miss it.  What can I say, I’ve been busy working!  Read on to see exactly on what…

So where have I been?  
First, I’ve started living what I preach: I’ve taken on some major contracting/consulting work in Marketing.  I am leading the Marketing strategy and teams at 2 different companies, and advising on marketing at several more.  Why?  Well, I needed some steady income as Karmaback is on hold [more on that later].  Second, I really wanted to put into practice all I’ve been saying here on this Blog into the real world.  The great thing is, that because I’m working with several companies, I can leverage what I learn one place at another, and vice versa.  I can also take what I learn and post it here, for you!

What companies are you working with?
I think it may be interesting for you to follow some of what I’m doing, so here’s a quick rundown of companies I’m helping with Marketing.  First, an iPhone Game/App company called ingZ, Inc.  This is my primary contract and I’m basically full-time here running all of Marketing and Sales.  Second, a Facebook Game company called Night Owl Games.  This one is part-time contract only, but I’m fully in charge of all Marketing and Sales efforts.  (cool side-note, my Marketing assistant starts today!)  Third, I’m helping several young startups with their Marketing direction and also general strategy.  I can’t list those all here, but one of my favorites that I’m helping is CuttingEdgeGamer who “leases” high end graphics cards, WITH infinite upgrades!   Why all the gaming companies?  Well, mostly because I’m a gamer and love it.  But also because it’s been “my industry” now for almost 10 years… so my industry expertise and contacts help me to land gigs like these.  You’ll be hearing more about all these companies and all my goings on right here in the future!

So what’s up with Karmaback?
Very short answer is that it is “on hold” from a growth standpoint until our new server work is completed.  We actually grew too fast (really!)!  We outpaced our server infrastructure and had to move to a multi-server, cluster approach that is taking time to get just right.  When we’re done, we’ll be able to sustain a MEGA twitter blast from the likes of Kim Kardashian or Terrel Owens twitter feed: up to 10,000 hits per second shouldn’t be a problem!   We’ll be able to take on bigger customers and help smaller customers get BIG bang for their marketing dollar.  In addition we’ll be rolling out new products and new features at a very nice pace: and generally speaking, Karmaback will be back in business.  We’re hoping to get it all ready by the end of the summer.

So, what about the blog?  
Here is the good news, I’ve been reading Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin (for the third time) and realized I not only am passionate about Marketing, I am passionate about talking about Marketing: SO… This blog is going to grow.  I’m going to start doing regular video blogging, and also starting a Facebook Fanpage, just for blog readers.  Stay tuned: MUCH is coming very very soon!

Extroverts, plan your Introvert time. Introverts, plan your Extrovert time.

Seth Godin (and many other business authors) agree, growth comes from “stretching” your discomfort.  DO the uncomfortable and you will grow.  Don’t want to grow?  Stop reading blogs for goodness sakes!  Want to grow, here are some tips for HOW to Stretch and Exercise your “discomfort zone”.  (Extroverts and Introverts both)

Extroverts (like myself) prefer to think “outside their head”.  We like to draw on white-boards, engage in debate, and generally “talk & interact” with people.  The problem is this: if all you do is extroversion, you miss out on deep thinking, attention to detail, and most of all quiet focus.  For an extrovert, it is “uncomfortable” to have quiet, work alone, or focus on details.

Planning your introversion and “forcing yourself” to spend time alone, focusing on details, is the best way to stretch that uncomfortable muscle.  It will grow from there (or at least you will minimize the effects of lacking introversion).

  • Each day, plan out 2 x 1-hour blocks where you will DO something introverted.  
  • (fix bugs, add comments to code, handle accounting, submit expense reports, research competition, develop formalized strategy/documentation)… 
  • most important do it ALONE, and make sure you force yourself to do it for the whole 1-hour block.
  • Because you set an “end-time” for the discomfort to end, you will find it less dis-comfortable to do it (just for 1 hour).
  • I find the best time for me to do it is 1st thing in the morning, and then again right before I leave work.
Introverts (like my wife) prefer to think “inside their head”.  They prefer to work alone, to think deeply on problems, and to focus on details.  In many cases, they fear (and are VERY uncomfortable) engaging “with people”.
Planning your extroversion is even more important!  Unlike extroverts, you have to make plans that involve other people.  Here are the tips:
  • Each day, plan out 2 x 1-hour blocks where you will DO something extroverted (WITH others).  
  • (brainstorming session, lunch hour, happy hour, coffee, phone call)… 
  • most important do it WITH someone.. preferably NOT someone you know really well.
  • Because you set an “end-time” for the discomfort to end, you will find it less dis-comfortable to do it (just for 1 hour).
  • Lunch hour and happy hour are the best times.
  • THE ADAGE: NEVER EAT LUNCH ALONE comes to mind… that can be one of your hours!
    • just invite people you are connected with on LinkedIn or Facebook to lunch… be sure to say “dutch, just to catch up”.
  • GO to those events you hate (the happy hours, etc.)… but just spend 1-hour there… for the whole hour set yourself a goal:
    • talk to x people
    • pass out x business cards
    • whatever
  • Then…. next time, try to improve on the target #!
    • You may find it turns into quite a “game”.. or you may continue to hate it… but at least…
  • You are out there!

Karmaback, my Seth Godin inspired company.

Sometimes, we forget where inspiration comes from.  I am a Seth Godin fan.  If you don’t believe me, read my blog… check out the movie I made… or consider my company: Karmaback.  Yes, almost everything about Karmaback is inspired by Seth Godin’s principles.  Permission Marketing is really the core of Karmaback.  We’re trying to match up companies that care about their customers with customers who appreciate permission marketing.  We want to leverage peoples social networks, WITH their permission, and help companies create great end user stories.  And the really exciting part: Karmaback is working GREAT for a bunch of really happy companies.

Here are a few “Seth” principles we live by:
Permission Marketing? (Very much so… we give points for permission!)
Purple Cow? (We think so, although our colors are green, we are unique in several key ways)
Linchpin Commitment to Service? (our customers think so, and I work dang hard to keep it).
Meatball Sundae?  (We’re different and we’re getting our word out “the right way”.)
Giving? (Yes, we frequently go above and beyond for our customers.  Plus, we have some amazing free programs, and frequently give our services to others at little to no cost).

Also, At last night’s Austin Seth Godin Linchpin meetup, I met Pace from FreakRevolution.com.  Pace is building a company to try to “change the world”.  She’s got a Linchpin factory that turns people with world-changing ideas into world-chagers.   It was speaking with Pace that got me re-jazzed about permission marketing.

Stay tuned for some “little tweaks” to Karmaback to get us back in line with Seth Godin’s principles.  We want to be the BEST place for Permission based Marketing on the Planet.

Austin is a Linchpin City

Announcing the introduction of a new short-film called: Austin is a Linchpin City.  A small group of very loyal and passionate Seth Godin Blog readers started a Meetup.com group back in June 2010.  We shared a vision.  We wanted  to “ship” something valuable and interesting for our city.  We all believed in the tenants shared in Seth Godin’s book Linchpin: Are you Indispensable. From that we wanted to do something cool and fun to tell the world, YES, we are, and so is our great city, Austin, Texas.  So here it is, just 2 months later: http://vimeo.com/13843742.

Special thanks to Ryan Jeanes of http://www.theriverislife.com/ and David Crews of www.CrewsCreative.com.  These guys are both Linchpins and were essential in the creation of this film.
Also special thanks to the entire Linchpin Group, Mark Katz of Katz Deli, Roppolo’s Austin, and all the others who made this film possible.
So, what makes Austin a Linchpin city?  Without a doubt, it’s the people who live here.

If you live in Austin, and want to check out our Linchpin Group, join us!  We meet monthly, and help each other “SHIP STUFF”:  http://austinlinchpins.com