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Happy Quote

June 25, 2008 in Happy Quotes

"There is nothing that drives a team forward like the fear of public failure, debt, and starvation. Leap off the cliff and start building the airplane on the way down and you might be surprised with what you can pull off.

Tony Wright, founder and CEO of RescueTime (review eminent)

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The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

June 19, 2008 in 5 out of 5 stars, A book

What is it?

The Dip: A book dedicated to a simple, but powerful and inspiring idea. I'm struggling to decide if it's Seth's best or not. It's certainly a contender.


Who makes it?

Seth Godin

Why is it the killerest?

First of all - it's short (80 pages). And as anyone who writes can tell you, shorter is harder. And in this case, it's also better. The writing is focused, the idea is well developed, and the impact, at least for me, was very, very powerful.

A buddy of mine and I were whining the other day about how hard it was to invest significantly in creating something that should be great, but realize that creating it was not enough. Not nearly enough. We thought it would be hard to go from concept to reality, and it was. But how surprising it was to realize that the really hard part had just begun. Taking that reality, and becoming a market leader, taking that hard-won reality, and turning it into the success we dreamed about when we started, that was the hard part. The really hard part.

And boy, those early dream-filled days were great. That dream motivated us to tear into our projects with vigor and excitement. It was novel, and fun, and a fresh start, and endless opportunity. And that dream pushed us on in that way only the entrepreneurially-minded can appreciate. Past hurdles, and challenges, and finally our hard work and investment bore fruit.

And there we stood at the great unveiling, the shroud lifted from our creation, and the response? Awkward and empty silence. Because while creating the thing is required (you can't get anywhere without doing that) it's not enough. It's not nearly enough. Because many have done that. But only a few — a very successful few — have pushed through the next stage to actually realize The Dream.

And then I remembered that Seth had named this period we were starting to push through, he called it "The Dip." And suddenly the genius of the premise of his book struck me. I hadn't read it yet, only read about it. So I started here, my appetite was whetted. The idea had taken root, and then I bought the book and read it carefully. Letting his persistent presentation of the idea seep into me deep enough to last. And then I closed the book, carefully inventoried my situation, and made some drastic changes.

I don't want to oversell this, because your experience may be different from mine. But I can honestly say that this book, perhaps because of the timing of when I read it, has had a dramatic and positive impact on me. 

In it, Seth defines "The Dip." He discussed the value of pushing through it (because so few are willing to do it, the competition at the other end is thin, and the rewards are enormous), how to do it (over-invest, quit everything else taking your energies), why we don't do it (his list of excuses stung with familiarity!), how you can quit a tactic, but retain a strategy, and how to recognize when you're not actually in a dip, but just think you are.

Oh, and inspiration. Did I mention it was inspiring? There were sections of this book that had me clenching my fist in determination to make it through.   

And he ends with some probing and through-provoking questions. Like this gem: "If I'm going to quit anyway, is there something dramatic I can do instead that might change the game?"

So I finished the book a few weeks ago, and now I have a new perspective. I see with new eyes those around me who have pushed through The Dip.

Here are a couple examples:

Ira Glass - world-class host of This American Life. Here he talks about pushing through the dip. He doesn't call it that, but that's exactly what he's talking about.

And Dean Kamen. Is there any question that he pushed (and pushes) through The Dip? Sure the Segway was a joke, but you watch this and tell me he isn't one of the greatest examples in the world for pushing though the dip. When the Dept. of Defense needed the best in the world to tackle the most difficult of jobs, I suspect the list was pretty short, and now Dean is truly changing the world. (And don't forget this awesomeness too). 

And there are more. Just from this week's news: Tim Russert and Tiger Woods.

And someday, maybe, you. And me.

How much does it cost?



Reviewed by Carson McComas

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Get FogBugz for free for two users with "Student and Startup Edition"

June 12, 2008

Alert reader John Sheehan points out that FogBugz has an un-advertised offer for students and startups allowing you to get FogBugz On Demand (that's the hosted variety) for free for 2 users.

To get it, sign up for FogBugz On Demand 45 day trial per normal, then in your "Settings > Your FogBugz On Demand Account" page, you can switch it to the free edition.


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June 11, 2008 in 5 out of 5 stars, A piece of software, Hosted software, Issue trackers, Project management

What is it?

FogBugz: They say it's project management software, which it is — but its real strength (and reputation) is issue/bug tracking. They have hosted, and installable versions of the software. I use their hosted version (dubbed FogBugz on Demand).

Fogbugzlogo Who makes it?

Fog Creek Software

Why is it the killerest?

I like and use Basecamp, but on a current large project I found myself heavily using Basecamp's ToDo lists for issue tracking, and they weren't sufficient. So several months ago I signed up for FogBugz.

FogBugz didn't give me that instant love-at-first-site experience I've had with other software. But as I've begun to use it heavily, I have grown to adore this software, and I now completely rely on it to manage my projects.

Its genius is in its maturity. It is mature, seasoned, and polished software that makes tracking multiple issues with difficult sticky elements not just easy, but enjoyable. You know software is great if you still love it, and use it heavily after several months. Now I can't live without it.

It allows me to constantly keep on top of the hundreds of issues currently at play with my project, tracking them by sub-project, by team member, priority, and time. I have to say, it has also trained me to work more efficiently in managing my projects.

Because it is easy to use, we use it comprehensively, and because of that, it has helped us improve the quality of our software.

There are only four of us on our team, I'm sure it would really come into its own with much larger teams, and still be helpful for even smaller teams.

What could be improved?

My only real complaint is that it's packed with additional features, but they aren't real approachable. The usability, once you get the hang of the features you need, is solid, and even claravoiyant, but beyond that, the other features and capabilities of the software requires some hunting, digging and experimenting to get rolling.

How much does it cost?

Hosted: free for 2 users, or $25/user, per month

Installed: $199/user or less


Reviewed by Carson McComas

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Advanced Google Analytics: Conversion Goals Wrapup

June 5, 2008 in Analytics, Expert Advice

Intro_small_new If you're not using Google Analytics, you're missing out. It's ridiculously powerful, informative, easy to set up, and it's free. If you're serious at all about your web efforts, you need to be using it.

I just finished up a series teaching you how to take Google Analytics beyond the very basic setup. In it I cover the use of Conversion Goals that help you go beyond tracking page views, to tracking desired visitor actions like making a purchase, filling out a form, signing up for an account, joining an email list, etc.

Here are quick links to the full guide:

  1. Part One: Basics of goal set up. What they are, how they work, how to set yours up today.
  2. Part Two: Setting up Funnels. Learn how many people start the goal conversion process, how many finish, and where the stragglers stop progressing.
  3. Part Three: Tracking goals with no distinct associated pageview. Let's say you want to track a software download, or your goal doesn't have a unique page at the end.
  4. Part Four: Tracking income from your goals. Beef up your analytics with information about exactly how your web traffic is impacting your bottom line.

My hope is that you'll utilize this valuable resource to improve your chances of success. Best of luck friend.

p.s. I've had a couple people ask, and if this is all overwhelming and you'd rather just hire me to set it all up for you, drop me a note.

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Advanced Google Analytics: Conversion Goals (Part Four)

June 5, 2008 in Analytics, Expert Advice

In part one of this series I covered the basics of setting up goals in GA (Google Analytics).
In part two I covered setting up funnels.
In part three I discussed tracking goals with no distinct associated pageview.

Today, in the final installment, we'll be discussing how to track the income from certain goals.  Google calls this "goal value tracking."

It's for those of you selling something. It allows you to track the income you make from a given goal. Having this extra information in your web analytics is very powerful in helping you make the right decisions.

Tracking income from your goals

Ok, there are three common scenarios where you want to track goal values.

Common Scenarios:

1) You have a lead generation form as your goal. You know that you typically convert 10% of your leads to a $100 sale. For your Goal value when you set up your goal, you'd put $10. You're done.

Like this:


2) You have a store, and you sell a $25 eBook, and you only ever sell one at a time. Put $25 as your goal value, and you're done.

3) Let's say you have a store where you sell any number of items and your final ticket value is unknown.

First - make sure you website profile in GA is set to be an E-Commerce site. To do this, login to your GA account, click Edit next to the website profile in question, then on the next page (Profile Settings), click edit in the upper right corner (on the "Main Website Profile Information" panel). Then look for this radio button and change it and your currency as appropriate:


Second, we'll be diving back into some javascript code as we did in part three, but if you follow along carefully it's not hard. It will, however, require some programmer intervention to get it right as the sale values must be dynamically loaded into the javascript below.

Before we go any further, you need to make sure you're using the latest version of the Google Analytics code on your site. To find and make sure you've got the right code, do the following:

  1. Load up GA.
  2. Click edit in the settings column for the website profile in question.
  3. In the upper right corner of the edit page, click the "Check Status" link (dumb, I know).
  4. Make sure you grab the "New Tracking Code." This should be the code you have in place throughout your site (not the legacy code).


Next, as we've discussed previously, set up your goal.

Here's an example:


Note I have 0 in the Goal value field, don't worry - we'll be creating that value dynamically in a moment.

Now - on your receipt page, in the code itself, you're going to need to call some javascript to register the sale with GA.

Warning: this is decidedly technical, so if this is mumbo jumbo to you, your programmer will need to help.

On your receipt page, below the GA tracking code, you're going to need to make three javascript function calls.

  1. pageTracker._addTrans() to register a transaction.
  2. pageTracker._addItem() to add the item(s) (you can call it multiple times, once for each product purchased).
  3. pageTracker._trackTrans() to send it all to the mother ship.

The parameters for these functions are outlined in the example below provided by Google. You or your programmer will need to populate in the values for each of those items when the page is rendered. In the event that you don't have (or want to record) a value (like, for shipping) you can put 0, or leave it blank.

That's it! I hope this little tour of the power of goal tracking in Google Analytics has been helpful to you.

<script type="text/javascript">
    "1234",                                     // Order ID
    "Mountain View",                            // Affiliation
    "11.99",                                    // Total
    "1.29",                                     // Tax
    "5",                                        // Shipping
    "San Jose",                                 // City
    "California",                               // State
    "USA"                                       // Country

    "1234",                                     // Order ID
    "DD44",                                     // SKU
    "T-Shirt",                                  // Product Name
    "Green Medium",                             // Category
    "11.99",                                    // Price
    "1"                                         // Quantity


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