Jan Kubr

Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

I have become a startup co-founder

In Uncategorized on October 3, 2008 at 18:19

It’s been time. We are called Livispace and will be doing both consulting and our own products. The idea is the more successful we are going to be with the products, the less we can work for clients. The scheme is now 2/3 (products/clients), but it might change in a few months.

The idea is to have a “Living Virtual Space” of business applications that will integrate well with each other and will provide founders and employees of these companies to have more freedom. We are focusing on the Czech market, although we are going to have English versions of our products pretty soon after releasing the Czech versions (if not immediately).

Flempo has become a first member of the Livispace’s product suite, another one is coming up very soon. Telfa will be a virtual telephone exchange (VOIP PBX, a call center) which you’ll be able to set up in a day or two by simply going to a web page, sign up, and configure your number and dialplan.

Exciting times, keep fingers crossed.

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The essence of 4-Hour Workweek

In Uncategorized on March 19, 2008 at 9:49

As you might have noticed The 4-hour Workweek has kept surprising me with inspiring quotes. The story below could be the summary of the what I take away from the book (was lazy to type it in, found here):

An American businessman took a vacation to a small coastal Mexican village on doctor’s orders. Unable to sleep after an urgent phone call from the office the first morning, he walked out to the pier to clear his head. A small boat with just one fisherman had docked and inside the boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican of the quality of his fish.

“How long did it take you to catch them?” the American asked.
“Only a little while”, the Mexican replied in surprisingly good English.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the American then asked.
“I have enough to support my family and give a few to my friends,” the Mexican said as he unloaded them into a basked.
“but…what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican looked up and smiled, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Julia, and stroll into the village each evening, where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor.”
The American laughed and stood tall. “Sir, I’m a Harvard M.B.A and can help you. You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boar. In not time you could buy several boats with the increased haul. Eventually, you will have a fleet of fishing boats.”
He continued, “instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the customers, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village, or course, and move to Mexico City then Los Angeles, and eventually New York City, where you could run your expanding enterprise with proper management.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, senor, how long will this take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years. 25 tops.”But what then, senor?”
The American laughed and said, “that’s the best part, when the time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”
“Millions, senor? Then what?”
“Then you would retire and move to a small coastal fishing village, where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with you wife and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your amigos…”

Do you check your work e-mail at home?

In Uncategorized on January 19, 2008 at 10:50

Having read the Freedom = Success article I pointed to, I continued with an NYT article about “falling-down professions.” I especially liked this part of it:

“Especially among young people, professional status is now inextricably linked to ideas of flexibility and creativity, concepts alien to seemingly everyone but art students even a generation ago.

‘There used to be this idea of having a separate work self and home self,’ he said. ‘Now they just want to be themselves.’ “

My dream has always been not to have the work and “real” lives too separated. I mean you spent one third of your life working, so does it make any sense to detach it from the other third you’re awake? It’s just weird, I am one person, not two. This is what Paul Graham has to say on this topic in his Why to Not Not Start a Startup:

“The thing that really sucks about having a regular job is the expectation that you’re supposed to be there at certain times.

(…)

In a startup, you skip all that. There’s no concept of office hours in most startups. Work and life just get mixed together. But the good thing about that is that no one minds if you have a life at work. In a startup you can do whatever you want most of the time. If you’re a founder, what you want to do most of the time is work. But you never have to pretend to.”

Yes, “Work and life just get mixed together,” that’s what I mean. But does everyone who wants to live like this start a startup? Everyone has families, relatives, friends, hobbies, aka “life.” Now why can’t you do something you love (or like, at least) and mix it with the other things you are passionate about? Why do you need to sit in the office every day from 9 to 5, then shut your computer down and never check your e-mail before the next shift (how awful) starts?

Let’s say it’s an early afternoon and there’s nothing major you need to do, but you’d like to take your girlfriend out. Now, watch the brave and oh-so-daring part: You do it! And then there might be an important e-mail you need to take care of that came in Saturday morning (let’s say from another timezone). So many people would wait till Monday morning to answer it. Which I don’t get, but I think it’s just the company culture. You force me to work certain hours, I won’t work outside of them. But you should just work when there’s work to be done, no? With some balance of course, but it doesn’t have to be that rigid, does it?

It seems like a no-brainer. Then why can’t most companies do what Best Buy was able to do?

‘Our whole notion of paid work was developed within an assembly line culture,’ Moen says. ‘Showing up was work. Best Buy is recognizing that sitting in a chair is no longer working.’

(…)

‘For years I had been focused on the wrong currency,’ says Thompson. ‘I was always looking to see if people were here. I should have been looking at what they were getting done.’

because today

It’s O.K. to take a nap on a Tuesday afternoon, grocery shop on Wednesday morning, or catch a movie on Thursday afternoon.

It is much easier to be flexible and have work freedom if you’re an independent contractor or work for yourself. In companies, this is apparently much harder than it seems. But it’s coming.

A link visited: Freedom = Success by Polly Labarre

In Uncategorized on January 17, 2008 at 12:20

I just changed the copy on the Flempo homepage yesterday to show better the point. Check it out.

And then I read Freedom = Success (And Not The Other Way Around). It is coming. Maybe not very very soon (especially here in Europe), but not only am I ready, but I am so so excited about it. Highlights:

“The really interesting shift isn’t from one profession to the next, but from one way of thinking about the arc of a career and working life in general to the next. It goes something like this:

Old version: work hard (for a very long time), achieve success, earn freedom (to retire and do all the things you missed out on while you were working)

 

New version: find work that affords you freedom = success

(…)

Our assumptions about how work works, where we work, and when we work are relics of the industrial age. That’s not a new problem. ROWE finally addresses it.

The basic principle: people can do whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as the work gets done. Period. You can come in at 2pm on Tuesday. Leave at 3pm on Friday. Go grocery shopping at 10am on Wednesday. Take a nap or go to the movies anytime. Do your work while following your favorite band around the country.

(…)

The results have been spectacular: an average 35% boost in productivity in divisions working in ROWE and a decrease in voluntary turnover by 52-90% depending on department. “

How does Amazon S3 make you free

In Uncategorized on December 3, 2007 at 18:53

I was telling a friend that Flempo is going to use Amazon S3 to store attachment files. He said, well discs are pretty cheap now and this and this friend can help you set up a RAID cluster from them etc etc.

Sounds great, right? You’d have YOUR OWN hard-discs and have a total control over them. Well you might have a control over the discs, but not so much over the data. And that is what matters. Having my own cluster would be one big pain for me:

1. The setup cost would be much higher than with AS3. Mainly because there is no setup cost with AS3.. But it’d take several weeks to set everything up by myself (with or without whichever friend). But setup is not really the issue.

2. Would the monthly cost be higher? I’m actually not sure about this one. How much maintenance would an own cluster need? Two hours a week in average? Less? More? How much would that cost? You can kind of calculate how much AS3 would cost. Except you have only a very rough idea (at least I have at the moment) how much data your users will transfer in and out and how many requests will you need. But even putting a lot in results in pretty low costs.

Now imagine I had a contractor taking care of my own discs. I’d need him/her to be available 24/7 because should something go wrong, I’d want it to be fixed immediately. That would be super expensive. But what more, it’d be a pain. You’d need to monitor the whole thing much better than you do your connection to AS3, do all the backups etc. I.e. this won’t make me free, really.

Until I have a dedicated system administrator (if ever) and need a very very large cluster, AS3 is the way to go. But probably not even then; many startups requiring large infrastructure use Amazon web services now.

The beauty is someone else does the hard work for you, you pay only for what you use, and can focus on what your core business is (which is not really building a highly reliable distributed storage). You can automate things rather than hiring someone just because you can (which I cannot, anyway..) and then be dependent on his/her knowledge.

The whole thing about Flempo (and I will need to stress it more) is that it allows you to be flexible and organized and on top of things at the same time. And the motivation is really very selfish – I want to be like that at the first place. Using AS3 is one more step to my own freedom without affecting the users’ experience.