It’s On Us – To end sexual and interpersonal violence.

STUFF YOU SHOULD SUPPORT

To end sexual and interpersonal violence.

Sexual assault happens in your community, on your campus… at your alma mater, regularly. So do other forms of interpersonal violence.

It happens here at Miami University… at Ohio’s “public ivy“… in the #1 Best College Town in America. And, assuming Oxford is similar to the national average, reported cases only account for 26% of the total that occur.

Miami launched a chapter of the It’s On Us initiative¬†in 2015 (check out the video below). But, to be honest, I’m disappointed about how little we really talk about this problem or what each of us can do to help stop it.

I highly recommend you support this organization and other efforts to stop violence and assault (no matter where it happens). ¬†But don’t stop there. Facebook campaigns and awareness efforts can help, but maybe the most meaningful thing we can do is take action, as members of the campus community. ¬†That means talking about these issues together and taking responsibility for the safety of others around us day-in and day-out.

STUDENTS – Are you alert and aware of what’s happening around you with respect to your own safety AND the safety of others (especially in situations where the risk is higher)? ¬†Are there people around you that are at risk and are you ready to step in and intervene to help keep them safe? Are you calling out people who say and do things that make assault seem justified or normal? Are you willing to sacrifice your own comfort and convenience to help protect someone else?

FACULTY & STAFF – Are we accepting that, as members of this community and ones in whom our students put their trust, their¬†safety and welfare are our concern even when they’re not with us in the classroom? Are we willing to proactively address this problem and talk about it with our students? Are we willing to hold ourselves and our administration accountable to addressing this problem in a real and meaningful way, not just assume that our tacit support of official campus initiatives is enough?

It’s On Us Miami

Learn to Play the Ukelele

STUFF YOU SHOULD DO

Learn to Play the Ukelele

I took up playing the ukelele just a few years ago – My kids gave me a uke for Christmas, and it’s still the greatest gift I have ever received. ¬†I can’t recommend it enough. The return in fun and relaxation compared to the investment in time and (virtually no) money is sky-high. ¬†Here are just a few reasons why you should consider it.

  • It’s really fun – Ukelele pairs well with all the best things in life: campfires, beaches, boats, hammocks, beer, sappy songs.
  • People will sing with you – The uke makes people feel happy and comfortable. ¬†It’s as unintimidating as you can get, and people really love to sing along. And, if you didn’t¬†already know… singing together is just about the best thing people can do.
  • It is intensely chill¬†– Takes me from a 10 to about a 3 in no time and drops my blood pressure by about 100 points… without fail.
  • It’s easy to get started – You can play a serviceable “You Are My Sunshine” with about 5 minutes of practice (seriously).
  • You can play some seriously cool tunes – Any Beatles song will automatically work, same with Willie Nelson and the Police. Standards all work too, of course (Stardust has some tough chord progressions but it is immensely satisfying and romantic to play). And, pulling out a Pixies song or two during an impromptu sing-a-long is about as rad as it gets.
  • It’s a great way to experience the benefits of dedicated practice – When you spend time playing and working at getting that really hard song down, you’ll really feel (and hear) the difference; ¬†Very satisfying.
  • They’re cheap – You can get a uke¬†for $20 that’s good enough to plunk around on and a really solid one for between $50-75.
  • They’re super portable – A uke will easily fit in any backpack, lap, or overhead bin.
  • It’s easy to find the chords for pretty much any song you want to play – Google has got the uke covered.
  • Over the Rainbow – ūüôā

Unsplash – For High Quality Stock Photos

CC- Unsplash - Courtesy of Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

STUFF YOU SHOULD USE

UNSPLASH

For high quality stock photos

 

This recommendation is a no-brainer.  Unsplash is a huge collection of well-organized, searchable, very high quality photos of every subject you can think of.

And here’s the kicker… all of the photos (ALL OF THEM) are licensed under Creative Commons Zero. This means you can use them (and alter them) in any way you like, for any purpose (including commercial use), no questions asked, FREE.

This is a great resource for any kind of media for your startup (presentations, printed materials, websites, social media, etc.) AND, Unsplash just released a new API today that allows anyone with a modicum of coding experience to integrate their library directly into any app or other software you might be building.  Fantastic.

https://www.unsplash.com

MOO – For Custom Printing

STUFF YOU SHOULD USE

MOO

For custom printing

There are plenty places to get stuff printed, and Moo is probably not the one to choose for cost-effective for printing in large scale.

That said, Moo is a really great option for creating high-quality printed materials in small batches for prototyping and testing parts of your business model.

Moo provides a¬†killer¬†feature that makes this possible. ¬†They call it “printfinity” which is, unarguably, ridiculous. That aside, what it means is, you can customize each printed item within an order (and on both sides). ¬†This, combined with short runs (meaning you can order pretty small batches of, say 25 or 50) makes Moo products very useful for high-quality prototypes.

Here are a few examples from Moo’s Inspiration Gallery

This is a simple example of a promotional item made in different colors, but they could just as easily have been different promotions. On the backside you could easily print several different marketing messages that would help you track where/how/by whom these were used for some easy A/B testing of a customer acquisition strategy.
This really shows how you could use the printfinity feature.  With one low-cost order of cards, this company can make a ton of customized fortune cookies each with a unique message. This same technique would be great for prototyping any product with a lot of customized parts.
Here’s another example of some A/B testing of a customer acquisition strategy. Like the example above with the glued-on tokens, these cards were printed (with different promotional messages that can be tracked for testing) and then customized by the company using them… they put a scratch-off sticker over each message.

This cool feature makes creating a high-quality paper prototype for a lot of different things possible, and for a price that’s affordable enough to do it over and over.

https://www.moo.com

Squarespace – For Making Websites

STUFF YOU SHOULD USE

SQUARESPACE

For making websites

I cut my teeth in the¬†startup world back in the dotcom boom of the late 90’s, so I’ve been building websites since the very beginning. ¬†Back then, it took a lot of know-how and a ton of effort to create even the simplest things.

Today, my students routinely build production quality websites so quickly and easily, they can effectively use them as prototypes for testing their business models. It’s so effective, in fact, that they can easily update their prototypes, in real time, in the middle of a conversation with their customers. That would have blown my apathetic, Gen-X mind 20 years ago.

The emergence of tools like Squarespace makes this possible . Squarespace isn’t the only great website builder out there, and it certainly isn’t the only way (nor always the best way) to prototype. But, it is pretty great. I’ve yet to see their combination of polish, simplicity, and price be matched by any other service.

https://www.squarespace.com

In keeping with the 90’s throwback theme running through this review, I hereby give Squarespace a red-faced, enthusiastic, Clinton-style, tiny thumbs-up.

Getting Unstuck – Hidden Brain #56

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Getting Unstuck

Hidden Brain Podcast, Episode 56

CC Image - Stuck - Courtesy of Stefan Lins on Flickr

Design thinking is a big part of what I teach in entrepreneurship classes (and what expert entrepreneurs do). But, design thinking didn’t originate in startups, and its usefulness is certainly not limited to them either.

In this really great episode of Hidden Brain (#56 – Getting Unstuck) host Shankar Vedantam learns how design thinking can help people effect big (and really challenging) changes in their lives.

Brew Better Beer (Emma Christensen)

RECOMMENDED READING

Brew Better Beer

by: Emma Christensen

If you’re interested in learning how to brew beer (which I recommend, because it is great fun). This is a great book to get you started.

It is extremely clear and complete, and as a bonus, Christensen includes 1 gallon batch versions of all her recipes which are much more manageable and affordable than the standard 5 gallon if you’re just getting started.

Brew Your Own Beer

STUFF YOU SHOULD DO

Brew Your Own Beer

CC - Sleeper Train Stout - Courtesy of Adam Wilson on Unsplash

It’s no secret. I love great craft beer. ¬†I geek out trying different styles, talking about Belgian yeast strains, and testing the maximum IBU limit of my taste buds (haven’t found it yet). Heck, Prof. Rhett Brymer and I are even studying to sit for the cicerone exam.

But, you know what’s almost more fun than geeking out on tasting beer? ¬†Geeking out on making beer!

To me, making beer is equivalent to other tinkering-heavy pursuits like woodworking, fixing engines, or gardening (to be fair, I don’t do any of those things, but I feel pretty confident I make beer for similar reasons.) ¬†It’s something you can work on, do and re-do, and slowly become an expert. Given my strong belief in the value of dedicated practice, problem solving, and building expertise over the long haul, I suppose that figures.

Brewing beer also has an element of mad science to it because fermentation is a crazy phenomenon and it always feels a little like magic that it actually works.

Oh, and if you get really good at brewing, you’ll make lots of new friends.

If you’re interested, I highly recommend the book Brew Better Beer by Emma Christensen. It wasn’t my first book on brewing (not even in my first 10) but I think it’s great for beginners and intermediates (like me) alike. Also, it has the distinct advantage of starting you on 1 gallon batches which is much more manageable and affordable than the standard 5 gallon homebrew batch if you’re just getting started. Check out¬†my recommendation of the book for more details.

Also, if you live near where I do, there is a surprisingly good selection of great beer in the Cincy/Dayton metro (see a short list at the bottom of this page for my personal favorites).  Sadly, we no longer have a local brewery here in Oxford, OH. Quarter Barrel, founded and run by my friend, Brandon Ney, is no more.  Thankfully, Brandon is still brewing, now at Common Beer Co. in Mason, OH.  This means his award-winning Chapeau Gris saison will live on.

Meanwhile, the beer scene in Oxford proper is utterly sad.¬† There are precious few taps running in town that are stocked by people who know beer.¬† Steinkeller is an excellent German beer hall and O’Pub’s beer selection is surprisingly decent given the kind of establishments its owner typically inflicts on our town.

RIP Quarter Barrel

Do a Startup Weekend

STUFF YOU SHOULD DO

Do a Startup Weekend

In about 48 hours, you can build the beginnings of a new business, non-profit, or other organization; No previous experience required.

You can learn an awful lot at one of these events. You’ll also meet a lot of cool and very smart people and have a ton of fun to boot.

We run multiple¬†Startup Weekends on Miami’s Oxford, OH campus every Fall – you can even get course credit for doing it. ¬†Check out what some of the past participants have to say about their experience¬†(below) and go to the Miami Entrepreneurship website for more information (or just ask me about it).¬†

If you’re not able to join us at a Miami Startup Weekend, you can almost certainly find another one happening near you. ¬†I recommend you do.