5 Evernote Hacks PivotDesk Uses To Do More Faster

On the eve of an awesome day 1 of #EC2014 I wanted to summarize a few Evernote hacks our team uses to work smarter and do more faster.

1. Use a @today tag
I forget where I read about this but it definitely wasn’t my idea.  Tag notes as @today and add a @today tag search to your shortcuts.  At the end of each day, think about what you are doing the next day and tag relevant notes with @today.  The next day you are ready to rock.


2. Use an Inbox notebook
I have a notebook called “Inbox”.  The web clipper and email forwarding default to that notebook and sometimes when I’m in a hurry I create new notes in Inbox.  Every few days I “process” the Inbox notebook just like I do with my physical inbox and Things inbox.  It also lives under shortcuts so it’s always top of mind.

3. Use Evernote for Company meetings
I heard this tip from Phil on a podcast long ago.  Every two weeks PivotDesk has an all-hands company meeting and multiple people update the company on parts of the business.  Funnel analysis, KPIs, Customer Stories and a CEO update are all components of this meeting.  I have a stack called “Company Meetings” and a notebook for each meeting.  I invite contributors to the notebook in advance then publish it to the rest of the company the morning of the meeting.  We typically have 5 -7 people attending remotely and the rest jammed in our conference room.  We use Google Hangouts so everyone can see each other and then use presentation mode in the conference room as we talk through the data.

4. Use Evernote for Board meetings
In the past, as we prepared for an upcoming Board meeting we would discuss good and bad things in the business that had happened in the past few months and look forward a few months.  We had a lingering feeling that we were forgotting to tell a fun customer story or leaving something out.  Now, with Evernote, we create a new notebook immediatelly following a Board meeting that we use to capture data points, customer stories, articles and anything else relevant to preparing for the next Board meeting.  This has eliminated the need for a long conversation to discuss what happened in the previous quarter because it’s already captured.  This has been a huge time saver for our Exec team.

5. Use a shared Travel notebook for business development
Our team is constantly meeting with customers, partners and prospects around the country.  As a 20 person company, each of us is very well networked in different ways.  We have a “Travel” notebook that we share, each note is tagged with a city.  If our CEO has a trip to LA in the next few weeks, we will clip LinkedIn profiles, articles and add notes about people to meet with, upcoming events and news in that city.  Our CEO is able to leverage the reach and insights from everyone’s network to plan a productive trip.

About PivotDesk
PivotDesk is an online marketplace that connects companies with excess and unused office space to startups and small businesses that need flexible, month-to-month space to grow their business.

When will it be done?

The physical world has a funny way of revealing insights into the digital world. Earlier in the day the PivotDesk Engineering team demoed a new feature that’s “almost done”. As I walked through our “almost done” new office without Internet, a floor or paint on the walls I didn’t really think things were almost done. It reminded me how varying the definition of done can be and how important it is to define that for any project.

office

We use a MVP approach at PivotDesk and I believe in iterating to make things better and better over time. Walking through our office had me thinking about how much effort should go into projects and when. For example, if our office had an Internet connection we could move in, sit on the dusty floor and start working. We would be in the environment and give real-time feedback like “this office would be better if we had desks and chairs”. On one hand this is true early feedback that should be useful, on the other hand it’s completely ridiculous.

How much effort should you put into the first version of a feature you are building? If a little more effort, polish, investment was made, how would your user feedback change? If the feature was a bit more stable, how much extra time and reduced costs would that provide to the project?

I am confident our office is going to “launch” on time and on budget just as features of the PivotDesk platform do. The trick is finding the optimal time to let the “users” in the front-door.

What Breaks My Heart

HBR blogger Umair Haque has a great post called “Have to Have a Year that Matters“.

In the post he asks “What breaks your heart?”

Follow your passion, we’re often told. But how do you find your passion? Let me put it another way: what is it that breaks your heart about the world? It’s there that you begin to find what moves you. If you want to find your passion, surrender to your heartbreak. Your heartbreak points towards a truer north — and it’s the difficult journey towards it that is, in the truest sense, no mere passing idyllic infatuation, but enduring, tempestuous passion.

When I ponder this, the collection of unsolvable global problems come to mind. But as I think deeper, I realize one common denominator in this collection is a fundamental lack of opportunity, people not getting the chance to try. Being pushed down, discriminated against, facing unfair rules and regulations, no education, no economic opportunity and being blocked by stupid shit that supports the status quo all crush opportunity.  This breaks my heart.

As I look at my own career and co-founding PivotDesk, I realize how connected things are. On the surface, PivotDesk seems like a marketplace for office space, but there’s something deeper. PivotDesk creates opportunity instead of destoying it.  PivotDesk helps companies be more efficient, to waste less and to do more.  We say all the time that “this is not just about office space” and we truly believe that.  PivotDesk is about setting people and companies up for success, doing our small part in helping them do something amazing with their opportunity.

 

 

The Energy of an Office

Spending the summer of 2012 surrounded by 11 other amazing companies in Techstars Boulder meant constantly bouncing software development ideas of one another, talking markets and strategy and bonding over financing discussions, mentor meetings and late night weekly Techstars meetings. All of these interactions and activities can be summarized as the Energy of an Office.

After Techstars Boulder Summer 2012 ended, several teams stayed in the office to continue growing their businesses, PivotDesk is one of them. I am never the first one to the office, the lights are always on, there’s always buzz, phone calls, meetings and random important people that I don’t know walking around. I have thrived off this energy in just the few short weeks since Demo Day. Being around other smart people, saying hello around the water cooler, random chit chat about cycling, skiing and software….these things are important. The Energy of an Office, much like the ambiance of a restaurant, cannot be quantified but should always be appreciated.

Find a great home for your business, for now. Visit PivotDesk to find Office Space for Startups with great energy.

Great Jason Calacanis Riff About Boulder, CO

In an interview with Kindara, a Boulder based startup that helps Women monitor fertility, Jason Calacanis discussed Boulder’s business culture.

“The thing about Boulder is everybody is so damn smart and fit and active and intelligent and friendly, it’s absolutely disgusting as a New Yorker but God, you go there and people are like How Can I Help You and Let’s Have An Interesting Conversation and I’m well read and I’m fit and let’s go for a mountain bike ride and talk about the NY Times I just read cover to cover.”

I love this rant.  With Techstars Demo Day a week away, it’s a good time to reflect on the unique ecosystems like Boulder. The Work-Life Balance, Entrepreneurial Density and Exciting Tech Scene make the days fly by and my personal productivity much higher.  Techstars is a prime example of the support a Community can provide, this summer has truly been inspiring.  I’m just happy to be a part of it all.  Thanks for the kind words @Jason…and if you’re wondering, Yes I had Tofu today, read the NY Times and am running a 1/2 Ironman on Sunday to clear my head before Demo Day Aug 9th  😉

Discussion of Boulder, CO starts around Minute 20 of this interview.

The Definition of “Going Live”

Today, Brad Feld walked into my office (well, the Techstars office) and yelled “Time to spin up more dynos PivotDesk!”  5 minutes earlier he and Jason Mendelson had tweeted about PivotDesk which drove 50 concurrent users to our Beta site looking for flexible office space in Boulder.

Our site caved, I added more dynos and restarted all processes and we were back (Thanks Ryan Cook).  The dumbest 10 minutes of my summer at Techstars Boulder thus far.

2012-07-25T22:45:23+00:00 app[web.1]: Started GET "/" for 174.29.90.125 at 2012-07-25 22:45:23 +0000
2012-07-25T22:45:23+00:00 heroku[router]: Error H12 (Request timeout) -> GET beta.pivotdesk.com/assets/layout/denver-img.png dyno=web.1 queue= wait= service=30000ms status=503 bytes=0

“Going Live” is a tricky thing in the enterprise and in Startups.  Leading a large team for the past 2 years at a global enterprise software company, “Going Live” was always about when we felt comfortable telling the disjointed Marketing department that they could make banners for conferences and write whitepapers to put on the website.  I heard “When will it be ready” thousands of times.  “Being Live” meant a 100% bug free, feature complete product that everyone thought was perfect.  Of course this was not realistic and we struggled constantly to come to a shared understanding across the company about this.

In a Startup, “Going Live” means people start tweeting about you.

Here are 2 lessons I reflected on today during my long run up Boulder Canyon to cool down after my fuckup:

1. The day you turn off some kind of basic auth is the day you should increase your infrastructure.

I was kicking back listening to Jeff Clavier drop knowledge on the Techstars teams when my phone started buzzing and the New Relic alerts started arriving.  I had no expectation of increased traffic today and we had not had a single infrastructure hiccup in 60 days since deploying to production for the first time.  My mistake was not thinking of the site as live even though it absolutely was.

2. “Being Live” is not the same thing as MVP, Alpha, Beta, Prototype

You’ve probably heard the question “Are you live?” and the response “Yes, live with a MVP” or “Yes, live with an Alpha”.  That’s all well and good.  Getting feedback fast, not being afraid to put things out there and iterating quickly are wonderful things for software development.  Powering those early versions with weak infrastructure is not acceptable.  Although I had all of the right stuff in place (monitoring, backups, analytics, ability to scale), I was not ready for today’s traffic increase.

So, learn from me and don’t let this happen to you.

Find flexible, scalable office space for your High Growth Business in Boulder and Denver right now with PivotDesk

Hiring Senior Rails Developers at PivotDesk

Position:  Senior Rails Developer, Full-Time
Company: PivotDesk
Location:  Boulder, CO

Our ideal candidate is an experienced Ruby on Rails developer that is comfortable making architecture decisions, especially around eCommerce. We offer an environment where highly motivated, self-learners will grow their knowledge and capabilities in all tiers of Rails application development and deployment.  Our offices are located in downtown Boulder in vibrant, open space.  We use PivotalTracker, utilize Lean Startup methods and work with many interesting technology companies in the Boulder/Denver area.

Our Environment: Ruby on Rails, PostGres, Heroku, Redis, Resque, jQuery, HTML, CSS

Required skills:

  • Proven experience developing significant web applications
  • Solid Ruby on Rails development experience
  • Commitment to agile development practices
  • Knowledgeable in relational database technologies, including PostGres
  • Proficiency with Git
  • Proficiency interfacing with and developing APIs

To apply, please email kelly@pivotdesk.com.