What’s the Difference?

How we stand out from the pack.

We pursue focus.

Our team members focus on one project at a time. We’ve found this pursuit produces exponentially better results than spreading them across multiple projects.

We all know that great ideas happen when we’re on a walk or in the shower. When we’re working on one objective at a time, the value of that attention trickles down to our clients. For that reason it’s actually focus, not time, that we sell.

We educate clients.

Technology is moving fast. Rather than treating our knowledge and expertise as a secret sauce or back box, we give openly of insights and ideas. This allows our clients to grow along side us rather than becoming dependent on us. We’d rather a delighted audience than a captive one.

We don’t expect those who work with us to become an expert, but the alternative doesn’t have to be getting left in the dark.

We speak human.

With an industry so full of jargon and misused phrases, we cut through the clutter and use real words that can be understood by real humans. If you want further explanation, we’ll provide it. Technology projects can be particularly daunting for nontechnical teams. Understanding that, we do what we can to make the process as painless as possible.

Business to business is ultimately person to person in the end, so we like to start there.

We are transparent.

Work is clearly defined in two week chunks. Rather than promising the moon and missing the mark or coming up short, we simplify the work to be done, take action, evaluate the progress, then repeat. It’s a battle tested process we’re constantly redefining but we’ve found it delivers excellent results.

We’ve all heard horror stories, of projects that end 6 months over deadline or 200% over budget. Frankly, we’ve had some low moments ourselves. Today however, our process removes the uncertainty, surprise, and mystery.

Being different matters very little if it’s not also better. This is why we’re constantly investing in new practices and processes to iron out wrinkles that pop up. Excellent, not perfection, is our target and we’re continually making strides to improves each step of the process.

 

Originally posted on Medium.

A Human Centered approach to phone calls.

Call when works for you. I’ll respond when works for me.

We all know what it feels like. You are immersed in an actual conversation with someone and their phone rings. Within a moment, the phone is nearly to their ear before they excuse themselves. Just like that, the personal connection is severed.

At some time or another, we’ve probably done it to others as well. Today, it’s a social norm, but that doesn’t make it right.

Much like my pursuit of bringing humanity back to email, I’ve spent the last few years taking a batched approach to phone calls. Prioritizing human interactions, I only respond to phone calls a few times a day. You can call whenever you’d like but unless it’s scheduled in advance, I likely won’t answer. I will however, call you back… just not right away.

Early on, I received a lot of flack. People felt it rude that I rarely pickup my phone. Maybe they were right, or perhaps they were failing to appreciate what might be occurring on the other end of the line. Which is more rude, to cutoff the human within arms reach or postpone the random voice on the other end of the line? The most human centered solution I can justify is favoring the person in front of me.

To be clear, I have no issue talking to people on the phone. It’s the haphazard nature of phone calls I find disruptive.

If you want to jump on a call, setup a time… I have no issue. If you call without warning however, prepare to wait.

Bringing Humanity Back to Email

A more productive and engaged version of you.

While exchanging emails with Adam Walker, a fellow Atlanta entrepreneur and friend, I noticed a message on the footer of his emails.

Adam’s message circa 2017:

Having batched email communication for years, this seemed like a thoughtful solution to the fervent-mailers who expect a reply within hours or minutes. If nothing else, it properly sets expectations and outlines personal rules of engagement.

Continue reading “Bringing Humanity Back to Email”

How to Launch an Idea in 1 Month

A 4 week overview to move from idea to entrepreneur.

Keeping things simple is often difficult. When creating a physical product or software solution, there are hundreds of decisions and trade offs that impact time, budget, and end product.

We’ve put together a straight forward game plan for moving from idea to reality with speed and confidence. Success isn’t a guarantee, but it frames the process around well defined milestones. Our approach doesn’t claim that ANYTHING is possible in a month. Instead, the focus is launching something of value, start to finish, in a month.

We’re broken it down into 4 weeks:

  • Week 1. Research + Refine the Idea
  • Week 2. Plan your Approach
  • Week 3. Build Prototype + Audience
  • Week 4. Launch and Refine

Week 1. Research and Settle on an Idea

A solid idea solves an actual problem, provides unique value to customers, and aligns with the customers interests. Identifying problems involves a level of empathy with your ideal customers. Providing unique value to the customer requires research around existing tools and products. The most compelling offerings stand out from the competition.

What is a problem that you or those close to you have identified?

Week 2. Plan your Approach

Assess the constraints you’re working within. Common project constraints include desired features, time, and budget.

It’s also worth considering your endgame for the project. What are you trying to accomplish? Your approach to merely solving your own problem should vary greatly from someone seeking to redefine a category.

What is a solid first step in attempting to solve the problem?

Week 3. Build Product + Audience

By Week 3, it’s time to get started. Many find it surprising that you would get started on building half way through the month, but this demonstrates the importance of planning. Building the wrong thing and adjusting is more costly than starting ‘late’ on the right path.

It’s important to remember that promoting shouldn’t wait until the product is complete. You can build your audience before or during the creating of your actual product. Early stage customers and supporters are often your greatest advocates and appreciate being involved in the early stages.

Week 4. Launch

Done is better than perfect.

If people aren’t looking at it by Week 4, you’re behind the ball. It’s important that at least a few people are able to weigh in on the process. You don’t have to share on social or drop $1,000 on Facebook ads, but challenge yourself to email a link to 3 friends.

Of course it’s not 100% complete, but you’re going to learn more than you realize by putting it in the hands of prospective customers.

What do customers think of your product?

Your idea is closer than you realize to becoming reality. Thoughtful, consistent effort can have you validating your idea and gaining momentum in a relatively short amount of time.

Start somewhere. Start today.

For the month of November, we’re inviting startups and entreprenuers to take the journey with us. While many are participating in conjunction with the Product Hunt Hackathon, the insight here isn’t limited to one event.

If you haven’t already done so, register for the Product Hunt Hackathon and hold yourself accountable with thousands of other entreprenuers and dreamers around the world.

If you’re ready to go but don’t know where to start, shoot me an email: morgan@polarnotion.com

 

Originally posted on Medium.

We Teach Others How to Treat Us

In high school, I had a manager at work who was rude, deceitful, and generally unpleasant toward me and other team members. It was frustrating and counterproductive.

In hindsight, I’m forced to face a startling truth… it was my fault.

While I did not force his hand, his continued behavior was a result of my compliance. Every inappropriate comment, snide remark, or crude gesture that I tolerated, I inadvertently communicated to him that it was acceptable.

We teach others how to treat us.

The same principle holds true throughout life. Regardless of the words that come from your mouth, the behaviors you allow from others set the tone.

Your boss sends you 11pm email when you’re with family. If you respond, you reinforce that behavior.

A coworker shows up 15 minutes late to a meeting. If you’re still in the room when they arrive, a precedent has been set.

A customer demands a a discount. If you comply, expect more of the same.

In the end, repeat abuses are not their fault, they’re ours.

We teach others how to treat us… teach them well.

 

Originally posted on Medium.

Where to use your headshot?

Combined with our name, a profile photo is the only item that appears with each interaction online. Every email, every post, every comment… your name and profile photo.

Here is a checklist of common places that might need a refresh:

[ ] Email

[ ] Website

[ ] Facebook

[ ] Twitter

[ ] Instagram

[ ] LinkedIn

[ ] Youtube

[ ] Slack

Slightly less common:

[ ] Github

[ ] Gravatar

[ ] WordPress

[ ] Medium

[ ] Quora

If you’ve attended one of our events, we’d love to see our artwork in the wild. Feel free to share a screenshot or url: pictureday@polarnotion.com

If you’re wondering why this is relevant, we launched an event called Startup Picture Day. Profile photos are important, so make yours excellent!

 

Originally posted on Medium.