Where I Would Be Now

It’s hard to chart an alternative course for my life had I not started blogging, because every significant event in my career during the last ten years has come from this form of writing.

My connection to 800-CEO-READ came from an author who found my blog, saw my love for business books, and thought I should know that the nexus for the industry was less than 20 miles from my home. His introduction led to my first position at the company as a blogger paid to write about business books and continued for seven wonderful years.

When I left 800-CEO-READ in 2009, blogging directly led my to my next pursuits. A tweet from an editor in Spain connected me to the world of literary scouting. My renewed blogging about the future of publishing led to a project with the awesome folks at O’Reilly. My clients for book development have all come to read what I am about and what I believe and the conversations start at a much richer point.

As Hugh says in his new book, “Freedom is Blogging” and I couldn’t agree more.

Best of 2008

I know I am suppose to write this post before the year end, but with travel and children I ran out of time.

So, in no particular order here is what has happened and what rises above the rest when I think of 2008:

  • E started kindergarten and Z started preschool.
  • I posted my favorite business books of 2008 over on the 800-CEO-READ blog and Inc.com worked with us on their selections.
  • Jack and I turned in the manuscript for The 100 Best Business Books of All Time in April. And we just got finished books today and they look great. The book hits shelves February 5th.
  • My 91 del.icio.us bookmarks remind of these yummy sites:
    • Spoonflower for custom fabrics based on your designs
    • Sticker Robot for custom stickers
    • Moo for business cards, holiday cards, and sticker books from your Flickr photos
  • We survived the snowiest winter on record in Waukesha. I think it was 109″.
  • That turned into a flooded basement after warm weather and some huge rains.
  • Mac Apps you should be using: NetNewsWire for RSS feeds, Ecto for blogging, VoodooPad for note taking, and possibly WriteRoom for a clutter-free writing space.
  • Mac Apps to consider: Things (I use to manage to-dos in BaseCamp, but I think I like this desktop/iPhone combo better) and TweetDeck (allows filtering, grouping, and searching all in one Tweeter app)
  • I posted 305 tweets this year. I would have never guessed that and TweetStats tells me I have been accelerating my use of Twitter.
  • Music that worked for me:
  • This American Life provided the best description of the credit crisis I heard, read or watched anywhere. Listen to The Giant Pool of Money. It is worth all 58 minutes. In second place is Michael Lewis’ Panic, an anthology of articles, reports, and missives on the bubbles we have gone through since 1989.

Four Things…

  1. If you really are interested in what is going on with me, bookmark my tumblr blog or subscribe to the RSS feed. I pull together my blog posts from here and 800-CEO-READ, my del.icio.us bookmarks, flickr photos of the family and twitter posts from when I am in a hurry.
  2. I have been feverishly writing to finish a book manuscript for a title that will be coming out early next year. It is a part of my gig at 800-CEO-READ. The book is the 100 business everyone in business should read. It has been a great project in a million different ways and I’ll be talking about that more over this coming year. So, that explains why there has been close to nothing here at the Astronaut Projects blog.
  3. Marc Orchant’s More Space essay Work Is Broken was published on ChangeThis last month.
  4. Check out Grant McCracken’s This Blog Sits at the : Intersection of Anthropology and Economics. I was hestiant to recommend it because I was having problems with the RSS feed. I upgraded to NetNewsWire 3.1.3 and don’t see any issues.

The passing of Marc Orchant

The news is spreading that blogger Marc Orchant has passed away after suffering a massive heart attack.

I am so saddened by this news. I got to know Marc through his work on The More Space Project. I asked eight bloggers to contribute an essay to the project and I left one spot open for proposals. Marc got the spot with a submission that was smart and tactical, a wonderful balance to the other works.

Work Is Broken: Here’s How We Fix It


Meetings, presentations, and e-mail are a part of many people’s work day. Used effectively, each can help keep teams aligned, impart important information, and move projects forward. We now are bombarded with information from the web, blogs, wikis, intranets, search engines, and other digital sources in addition to paper. We’re challenged to develop and maintain a system for collecting, processing, and acting on all of this information. And the classic techniques we’ve relied on in the past have either ceased to be effective or have simply broken. In this essay, I’ll share some proven techniques for fixing what’s been broken.

You can read or listen to his More Space essay here.

I’ve been tagged…

My dear friend Andrea has drawn me into this little game of tag.

I now have you tell you five things that you didn’t know about me:

  • When I was 13, I had to have brain surgery to remove an infection that started with a freak water skiing accident. I spent three months in the hospital recovering.
  • I was kicked out of the band in 8th grade for playing too loud and talking back to the teacher. I was heavily recruited for the high school band (can you believe that?), joined on a fluke, and played all the way through college; serving as student director for my last two years.
  • Just as our GE careers were starting to take off, my wife and I quit our jobs and travelled for a year – first to Australia and New Zealand, and then three months around the US. It is #4 on the life highlight reel after my marriage and births of our two children.
  • Products I manufactured during my operations career – Ziploc Bags, industrial diamond, motor control systems for steel/paper mills, reverse osmosis water filters, transformer enclosures, and PET scanners.
  • My favorite holiday is Groundhog’s Day. It is so pagan. We still worship of a large rat to see if we are going to get more snow.

So, now I need to pull five more people into this:

  • Jory Des Jardins – she tells great stories, just go read her More Space essay.
  • Bob Sutton – he often blamed me for getting him into blogging; I think this a great way to get him a little deeper into the blogging community.
  • Rob May – I still feel like Rob and I were pioneers in the business blogging community.
  • Steve Farber – Mr. Farber is also relatively new to blogging. I hope he can share some great stories under his banner of Extreme Leadership.
  • Tom Ehrenfeld – Tom and I share a passion for business books. I have always wished he would blog more. Here is a little nudge.

Stats at the New Site

It has been interesting to watch what has happened since I moved over to TypePad.  My audience has dropped dramatically.  I get about 7 page views a day now and there are 43 of you reading through Feedburner. 

I am not particularly upset about it.  If I wanted to build the readership again, I would need to start writing every day.  I have found that really hard to do with all blogging I do for 800ceoread.

So, thanks to those of you who are still visiting.  I will trying to keep it interesting from time to time. 🙂

SXSW – We Got Naked, Now What?

More Space authors Evelyn Rodriguez and Jory Des Jardins are speaking on a panel called We Got Naked, Now What? They are talking about blogging and the combination of personal and business lives.

Evelyn and Jory have had pretty positive experiences. Laina Dawes says she was fired for complaining about not getting a raise. She did not talk about the company specifically, but people at work knew she had a blog. She is certain her comments and opinions led to

Elaine Liner worked as an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University. She was teaching a writing class and asked students to start blogs. At the same time, she decided to start a blog. She started telling about stories about things she was seeing on campus–binge drinking, cheating, petty theft, drug use, eating disorders. SMU chose not to renew her contract.

Liner does not know for certain that blogging was the cause. The university did hire lawyers, but quickly found their was no grounds for libel. Students shared stories about the university hiring PIs to tap phones and scrub her computer.

Interesting stories…


I am at SXSW this weekend.

I’ll give you my thoughts on the happenings over the next four days.

The first panel I am checking out the Beyond Folksonomies. They spent the first half of panel talking very philosophically about tagging (Zzzzz). The interesting parts include:

  • The other 99.5% of the world is not using tagging. (All of us forget that).
  • Mary Hodder from Dabble (video bookmarking) says their users look that two things to determine what they will watch – tags and clip length. This is unique for photos, audio, and video. Text search can do pretty good on blogs, but other forms of media can really benefit from tagging.
  • More people need to think about uses. Do we need a 45th social bookmarking site?
  • If you look at the folder structure on someone’s computer, they are using folksonomy already.
  • Folders are hierarchical, and tagging is better because it is flat and can show multiple relationships.

Tags: sxsw2006

Marquette University Suspends Student for Blogging

It seems my alma mater continues to make very rash decisions about things they don’t like.

Marquette University has suspended a student and removed their scholarship after they wrote comments on their blog about a professor and the other students in his/her class.

The Marquette Warrior has an excellent write-up of the entire series of events.

The student’s comments were careless and crude, but they did not justify the actions the university has taken.

More reasons to say no when Marquette calls looking for donations.


I finally shut down the BizLinkBlog and got everything moved over to my del.icio.us account. Here is the RSS feed.

There is alot of good stuff over there and I thought I would highlight a few.

Being Open

I scheduled a call today with someone who I thought was doing some cool stuff. I told him I had read about his company recently and wanted to find out more.

“Are you writing a story?”

“No, I am just interested.”

I told him I had a similar idea for publishing.

“We work with authors too.”

I said that it wasn’t really the same thing. I explained a bit and said I just wanted to know what sort of things he had learned through starting the company.

“Before we go any further, are you looking to partner with me or set-up some kind of consulting.”

I said again that I wanted to know more about his business.

“It would be great to sit here and throw around ideas with you, but my time is really limited.”


And I thanked him for his time.

I guess I have gotten use to talking about ideas freely and openly. It is such a natural part of the blogsphere.

Ideas that are shared, flourish and prosper.

Not everyone shares that view.

The State of Things

The frequency of posting here is way down.

Part of it is time. We were gone for two weeks on vacation. You know what that can do to things.

I have been putting most of my extra time into getting More Space done. We have been in kind of a quiet period. We are putting the final touches on the essays and the layout. We are pushing to get it to the printer and I promise more news on the project soon. We are going to need your help to make it successful.

I have said this before, but with all the blogging I do for 800-CEO-READ, I am low on energy and material by the time I get here. That may actually get worse.

I have accepted a full-time position with 800-CEO-READ. I have been working with Jack as a consultant for the last 14 months. We have been talking for some time about me spending more time with them. I have been really happy with the things we have accomplished and I see all sorts of potential for the future. I think it is going to be a great place to hang my hat.

I think with a place to focus my energy I don’t have spare brain cells to spend thinking and commenting about the general affairs of the business day.

What does that mean? It means you are going to hear from me less here. I want to lower your expectations a little. If you like my angle on things, check out the 800-CEO-READ blog because you will continue to see alot of me there.

I know I still need this outlet, so don’t worry about me disappearing completely.

More soon…