I had the opportunity to talk to the Nashville Software School today as they wrap up their class. I chose to talk about my thoughts on interviewing techniques and freelance vs full time employment. I could have written the story either way, but this way was fun :)
I attended a great Jumpstart Foundry event this evening at the gorgeous new Entrepreneur Center (which is amazing, by the way). I want now to take a moment to offer up a bit of advice to the startups in this years cohort – and for that matter, for startups everywhere. I had a big problem tonight speaking with the startups, and it was not until I was at home and cleaning up for the night that I figured it out – they tried to make me go all the way.
Detail — it is not my job to help you, it is something that I want to do and therefor I do it for free. But here is the thing, you have to want it more than I do. You see, I am a sucker for a great startup. I found myself rushing around trying to make sure I spoke to 3-4 of the different companies and made sure that I offered to make introductions, offer advice and to provide tidbits of information that might spark a meaningful thought and/or conversation. And even though they are already more than a month into the program, they did not follow the magical 90/10 rule from the movie hitch (video below).
The 90/10 rule, if you recall, is this: When you are out on a date with a girl, and you get the signal that it’s ok to give her a kiss, you don’t swing in and go 100% of the way to the lips. No. You go 90% of the way and wait, and let her come the last 10%. In my startup meetings tonight, that was not the case unfortunately. I felt like I was the one trying to convince the startup to pick me! I sought them out. I sparked the conversation. I barged in to meetings. I connected the dots between the ideas I was presenting and their business. I knew about them, and even though some had already connected with me on LinkedIn and had setup meetings with me digitally, they knew nothing about me.
Startups are hard, no doubt. They take a lot of effort, time and brain power. But founders – do NOT make your mentors, your customers or anyone else for that matter do 100% of the work. Just like that magical moment when you are green-lighted by the man/woman of your dreams to go in for the kiss the first time – make your mentors (or your customers) want to go the last 10%. Trust me, you want them to want you back.
Clients are a blessing and a curse – in my line of work, you encounter a ridiculous amount of surprises when you get started on projects. Today I offer up a short post on some things I found out when formatting a custom email for delivery to a massive corporation … who primarily uses Lotus Notes (versions under 8). The email I created which was syntactically beautiful for all other email clients and web (GMail, outlook, iPhone, etc) became 100% unusable in Lotus Notes.
Here are my findings – I hope they help you in your journey to supporting outdated enterprise email clients.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Formatting HTML Emails for Lotus Notes
- Do everything possible in semantically correct HTML
- Do not put your style tags in the header. If required, put css in-line – but know this, there is a great chance that they will get ignored
- If you need to have padding or margins, most of the time those are ignored if done via CSS padding/margin attributes. If you need them, it is best to do nested tables and adding padding with the cellpadding=”10″ attribute
- When you use tables (and trust me, you should always use tables), I saw more success from applying fixed width sizing to the table and to the individual cells. Don’t forget — if you are using cellpadding, make sure you subtract those widths from the table cells too!
- Don’t use <p> tags. Use <div> tags or <span> tags. P tags are uncontrollable due to defaults in Lotus Notes. If you use DIV or SPAN, you should still use them inside of TABLES to have more control.
- If possible, use the BGCOLOR attribute on <table> and <td> tags as close as possible to where the color is needed. If you only do it at the TABLE level, the cells may inherit from the BODY tag or other parent instead
- Don’t use BORDERS at all! It seems that the minimum border width in Lotus is 5px no matter what you do !IMPORTANT :D Just get rid of all the borders both in your CSS and on TABLEs and cells.
- Lotus Notes (versions 6.5 and 7 at least) do NOT support .PNG. That means you have to make all images in .GIF or .JPG format. Have fun with that. It literally will not render a .PNG file
How to Do Testing?
I can not speak highly enough of LitmusApp.com – they are what I used to do 95% of my upfront testing (with the last 5% being sending test emails to select clients using Lotus Notes). They have tremendous support for many email clients and browsers, but important to my scenario, they have lotus notes 6.5, 7. 8 and 8.5 that I could test in within minutes.
Here it is, my obligatory year in review. With as bad as my memory is, I require myself to at least once per year document the cool things I can remember that happened over the course of the year… and this was definitely a year of ups and downs. It’s always hard to believe as I try to remember all the things I do in a year how blessed me and my family are, and how lucky we are to have so many great friends and experiences. Thank you 2012, here we come 2013!
- Remembering my grandmother, who died in early 2012 from cancer. So happy to have been able to see her for the months leading up to her passing.
- Mourning the loss of our 10 year old golden retriever, Cason. He was the only constant in our family, sad to see him go.
- The happiness of 11 years of marriage. Every August I cant help but think of how lucky I am to have met someone so perfect for me at such a young age.
- The pure joy of learning of our first child. Coming in March, our little boy has been hands down the most exciting thing we have ever planned for.
- A trip to Memphis with friends, Dave & Sherry. We probably would not have made it there without your prodding.
- A trip to Mexico with family. A week, unplugged, with loved ones. Always worth it.
- Spending time on the mountain (Monteagle). It’s awesome to learn who your greatest friends are, and to be able to do cool things with them.
- Brewing beer with Rob, Matt and Jeff. We’re not the best, but we make amazingly drinkable beer.
- Finding companies to start to mentor, and to continue to mentor.
- Backing cool projects on Kickstarter that range from underwear, to gadgets, to food and a book. More great companies.
- Another amazing year at the Jumpstart Foundry. The 2012 companies truly amazed me.
- Being part of the wedding of my good friends Matt & Rachel.
- The tremendous execution of Checkd.in. We built so many cool campaigns, its hard to mention them all: Taylor Swift, Pink, Kenny Chesney, Dunkin Donuts, Less Conf, Pitbull and so many more. The team is just crushing it.
- The explosive growth of Change Healthcare. The stats are still unpublished, but before this year is over – peoples minds will be blown.
- The launching of Curious
- Fangtastic 5k with John Wyckoff and family
- The warrior dash complete, and highly recommended. Drink beer, costumes, live music and giant turkey legs.
- Ran the 200 mile Ragnar with team CHC. It’s amazing what you learn about people and their desires to succeed when you spend that much time in a van with them. This was a great experience, hope I can do it again one day.
- Bought my new Cervelo R3. Decided if I was going to commit, I needed to commit.
- Trained 700 miles (small, but moving). My hopes is to do so much more in 2013
I’m sure I have left out soo many moments, but this is what my memory (and facebook, and flickr) remind me to write about. I can only hope that 2013 is more impressive than 2012 in every category. To those I know, much love – lets go get it!
From October 2001 to October 2012, Cason lived a good life. At 11 years old and more than 120 pounds, he was the only thing that stayed constant in Amy and my life from the day we got him. While we moved from city to city and coast to coast, charging through new adventures and startups, Cason followed along happily at our side. I’m glad he died at home, without pain, and with family. The photos tell a lot of stories, but if you spent any time with him, you know all you need to already :)
Some of my favorite Cason moments:
- He used to spill your beer just so he could help you clean it up
- He has eaten: a pound of reeces cups, a pound of chocolate chip cookies, a stick of batter, fiberglass insulation and the orange netting bag that your oranges come in – just to name a few
- He has chewed holes through both drywall and a mattress, just to see what was on the other side
- He loved being covered in towels – a towel was actually his favorite toy
- Cason is “kill me dog” (just google it)
- and so much more.
11 years is 1/3 of my life and as long as I have been married to my wife. It will be hard to get over, but his memories will of course be with us forever. He was loyal, loving and part of our family. But most of all, he was a great friend.