Saturday, August 13, 2011

Prepare for an onslaught of posts!

I'm on vacation, and you know what that means...it's clobbering blogging time!

I wrote a bunch of posts on the plane ride yesterday, and spent much of today loading them into Blogger. I have 28 posts locked and loaded--expect to see one per weekday for the next few weeks!

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Power of Love (And Investors)

In this post, I'll argue that the power of love comes mostly from stuff that doesn't happen, and for bonus points, explain how my theory of love impacts how a startup should choose its investors.

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My life is filled with love. I have family, friends, and last but not least (okay, maybe least) you, my blog readers. I've commented that I already have everything that money *can't* buy, which means that at this point, I'm basically working so that someday I'll be able to take naps whenever I want.

Then I thought to myself, "On a practical level, how is my life different from someone who is completely unloved?"

Sure, love means having people who care about you, but what is its practical impact? If I suffer some stroke of ill fortune, my loved ones would help and support me, but if my life rolls along without major disaster, having their love doesn't seem like it would affect my life.

Yet being loved most certainly does have an impact, even if you aren't getting concrete aid from it. Happiness research shows that close relationships are the major source of satisfaction in our lives.

It seems like the fact that simply the *potential* for loved ones to intervene in our lives produces a big boost in well-being. Take a moment and think about the people you love...don't you feel happier? And if a loved one tells you, "I love you," don't you feel fulfilled?

In that sense, most of love's impact comes from mere potentiality, not concrete action. Yet that doesn't mean we shouldn't seek it out. For one thing, most of us do suffer misfortune at some point in our lives; at that point, we'll appreciate our loved ones even more for their support. For another, the everyday boost we get simply from knowing that there's someone who's got our back probably has a major impact on productivity and achievement.

And that's where the power of investors comes in. If everything goes right for your startup, it doesn't really matter who you have as an investor. All our money is green, and one dollar is the same as another. The concrete benefits of having experienced, supportive investors only manifest themselves when times are tough. That's when good investors roll up their sleeves and open their wallets, and bad investors are suddenly unreachable.

But if we use my theory of love as an analogy, there's a benefit simply in knowing you've picked investors who will have your back.

Each day, your startup will face minor crises and setbacks--nothing big enough to get even a supportive investor involved. Yet if you know you have good investors behind you, you can quickly shrug off these issues, much like someone whose life is filled with love can shrug off minor nuisances like parking tickets.

In startups, success often follows emotion. Startups are like balloons that float along on the belief of their employees; if the people involved stop believing, you'll start losing altitude quickly. Good investors can help you succeed in good times as well as bad times, simply because their faith in you gives you faith in yourself.

So if investors are like loved ones, choose carefully. The Beatles may not have been 100% correct when they sang, "All you need is love"--after all, you need a great team, a solid business model, and traction--but they may be more on target than you think.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

How to sync your MyTouch 4G with your Outlook contacts

I recently bought a MyTouch 4G Slide to use as my primary phone. Since I'm a T-Mobile customer, I wanted to lock in a new plan and phone before AT&T can do something to screw it up. And since I'm a physical keyboard enthusiast (I hate losing half the screen to the virtual keyboard--a big issue for a guy who writes most of his blog posts on a handheld device) I got the MyTouch 4G Slide.

One issue that arose almost immediately is that the MT4G doesn't sync with Outlook. It does sync rather easily with any Google account (naturally) but if you're a traditionalist like me that actually uses Microsoft Outlook for email and contacts (via POP3 no less!), the lack of Outlook sync is a major problem.

After an hour or two of work, I think I've found a good (and free) solution, which I'm sharing with you now.

The key actually came from the folks at the T-Mobile store, who suggested exporting my contacts to a new Gmail account, then synching that account with my phone.

This was only half the solution, however, since this wouldn't keep my Outlook in sync; new contacts would only appear if I manually synchronized Outlook with Gmail. This did narrow down the problem considerably.

A quick Google search on "sync Outlook 2010 with Gmail" and I discovered GO Contact Sync, a free piece of open source software that 1) Syncs your Outlook with a Gmail account, and 2) Can re-sync on a regular basis.

Once I verified that GO Contact Sync had been well-received by both Lifehacker and PC World, I downloaded and installed it. I set it up to sync "Outlook to Google only" since I don't intend to use the Gmail account for anything but synchronization, and set it to automatically "Run program at startup." I don't need instant synchronization, so no need to run it any more often.

Since I have 2,786 contacts, it took a few minutes, but GO Contact Synch worked like a charm. From there, it was easy to add another Gmail account to my phone.

Voila! The MyTouch 4G Slide has all my Outlook contacts, and they'll be synchronized every time I restart my laptop.