What am I doing now?
This is a now page, meant to tell you what I'm working on now.
Well hey! It's been SIX months since I've last updated here, and a busy 6 months indeed. I've been to Mexico and back, embarked on many new adventures, and spent a good deal of time thinking about what's next.
- This story, On the Sun-lit Side of Venus, got nominated for a Pushcart! (audio and text at link).
- My novel In the Streets of the First City is a finalist for the Big Moose novel prize from Black Lawrence Press!
- A novel I'm currently calling Let There Be Light-er Fluid is draft complete and in edits.
- I've been playing with interactive fiction (mostly choose-your-own-adventure style works), and differently delivery mechanisms...more to come later.
- I spent a month at Under the Volcano, with some fantastic Spanish-speaking colleagues and working under Sheree Renée Thomas
- I re-launched ideacog.net.
- I've increased my role at Street Books a little, to fill the technical gaps there.
- I am taking a lot of Spanish classes...
- I bought myself a packraft ;-). Pics of adventures inevitably to follow.
- Pics from the last six months include: Snow camping at a fire watchtower, a street art museum in Bisbee, AZ, the narrator working from a veranda in Teptoztlán, Mexico, Steelhead Falls, the Chiricahuas, and cats. Click on any for bigger view.
News: Today is my last day at the company I founded.
I laid down the first bit of code for Walker Tracker in January of 2006 after my brother gave me a pedometer. I thought it'd be fun to have a place where all of us could track steps online. People from all over the world registered, and a thriving community was born.
Through 2010 I did all of the programming, accounting, sales, product development, design, writing, marketing, and everything else. When I realized the hobby site implied very interesting business-to-business market possibilities, I brought on a partner, David Mays.
In 2011 we hired our first employee, Taylor Welsh. Six years later, after having run through nearly every role at the company, Taylor took over as CEO. I couldn’t imagine a better person to run a company with.
We sold Walker Tracker to Terryberry in April of 2022, and December 16th, 2022 will be my last day.
What a ride!
Here are a few notes on running a startup.
- We never took on funding. We never put together a board. While we did interact with many sage advisors, it was our company to run from start to finish. It was often scary. There were many sleepless nights. But in retrospect, all of it was a joy.
- We promoted from within, we didn't track time off, employees stayed with us for years and years. Companies seem obsessed with hiring 'rockstars'. We hired people we wanted to work with and gave them the opportunity to flourish. We didn't spend beyond our means, hiring instead when we had the budget for it. 'Work-life' balance feels like an empty HR phrase now, but I like to think that we lived this as if we'd invented it.
- With a team never larger than 16, we pioneered the virtual walking challenge (and still run the best today, IMO), bringing a new kind of wellness to companies and organizations. I remember looking through our database to find dozens of competitors emails. They all registered into our software to see what we were doing.
- While we grew to do much more than just walking, walking was our wheelhouse. We encouraged and nurtured the love of it in a ~million people. I'm really proud of that. We got cars off the road. People's lives were permanently changed for the better. I still love walking as much as when I started, and intend to do a number of 'long walks' (multi-day journeys) now that my time is freer.
- We maneuvered market crises while we watched competitors fall. We ran a company with the values we wanted. We ignored the hockey stick. We played the long game. If I could name a single factor in our success, it would be diligence.
- I love the start. I'm a 'zero to one' person. I like to workshop leadership and decision-making, I like the trenches. I like to sketch out and revise and re-sketch again, everything from a business plan to a software architecture. I like iteration, to market test, to release often and occasionally break things, and I like to question every assumption. I hate micro-managing and I'm not a huge fan of the deep-process stuff that stifles innovation in larger companies. I value fellow workers that like to just 'figure it out'.
- You don't hear a lot of business books using the word 'nice', but we operated that way. Taylor and I were nice to each other. We were nice to our employees. We were kind to our contractors and agencies. We applauded successes and forgave slip-ups. And all along the way, our mode of operation paid us back in kind. People were loyal to us. They wanted us to succeed.
I will miss my incredible team and the work I did there, and I'm thrilled to be moving forward to see what's next.
- The story On the Sun-lit Side of Venus, was published by Apex Magazine. (click the link to read it now)
- A few friends and I have been playing around with starting a publishing collective.
- Still working away at my weird road novel.
Work: Here's a big thing. We sold the company that I started as a hobby in 2006 🎉 ( I'm currently employed by the acquirer).
- Short story: How We Won the Demon War - forthcoming from a lovely anthology called Dreams For a Broken World, out November 1st, available for pre-order now!
- The story On the Sun-lit Side of Venus, was accepted by Apex Magazine 🎉🎉
- A few friends and I have been playing around with the idea of starting an art collective. More details to come later.
- Still working away at my weird road novel.
- My eldest son graduates from high school this Spring. The passage of time is utter crazyness. I'm unbelieveably psyched for him and the adventures he'll have.
- We keep threatening to open a 'yard bar'... a very informal, but curated, intermittent cocktail hour in our yard. I will definitely keep you posted (sign up for the newsletter below to make sure that happens).
A Few Recent Photos:
Big things in the works, but no major news to report other than:
- Dispatches from Anarres: Tales in Tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin - reprinted my short story Birds, first published in Strange Horizons. It's out now and would make a fantastic holiday gift.
- I turned in a story for a new anthology being edited by Julie Day, should come out next year.
- Laura Moulton's book continues to sell well!
- I am still working on a new roadtrip-ish novel (word count ~45k words as of December 1. And another POV character has entered the picture...
Work: Walker Tracker as CTO/Founder
Until next time!
This month I'm psyched about Laura Moulton's book debuting Loaners: Making of a Street Library. We have had many conversations about this book over the years and it's a delight to see it in the world. Please check it out.
My novel 'The Disappearance of James Chazky' is with my agent and being shopped.
I am working on a new roadtrip-ish novel (word count ~33k words as of October 1). It's the only first-person novel I've written. It has a distinctive voice, and the work is obsessed with NW Mythology and NW stories, and the everlasting battle between systems, and their parts...
I did an epic trip via tiny motorboat, from Portland, Oregon to the mouth of the Columbia river with my son and a friend, marking my 4th river trip of the year so far. These days, I'm happiest out of the city.
Work: WT as CTO/Founder
The novel 'The Disappearance of James Chazky' is with my agent and being shopped.
I am working on a new road novel and a few short stories.
I'm participating in the awesome Poetry Postcard Festival.
It's Summer, so I'm floating rivers when I can.
Work: WT as CTO/Founder
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