Possibly the most Boston news lede ever:
Former state senator Brian A. Joyce was charged in a federal indictment Friday with using his Senate office as a front to collect about $1 million in bribes and kickbacks that were laundered through his law firm, along with getting hundreds of pounds of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee for free. (The Boston Globe)
I’m looking forward to binge-watching Season 2 of “The Crown” this weekend. Season 1 hooked me, even though my prior interest level in royal family stuff was near zero.
Felicia and Josh are a wife and husband who left more traditional full-time jobs to start a family farm. They’ve been at it for a couple of years and have some great momentum going, primarily selling through farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture (CSA) memberships. But they are interested in expanding into farm-to-table prepared foods and exploring other ways to grow their business.
We had a great kick-off meeting today. Felicia and Josh are both bright and motivated, and the dynamic and mix of skills among the three mentors is also very good.
It’s really fun to get my mental wheels turning about a business that is completely unfamiliar to me. I also really enjoy working with entrepreneurs with a running start with their business, since it’s possible to make a more significant impact in three months.
Loved this format: “Raising a Teenage Daughter” …with annotations by the teenage daughter to keep it real.
Tip of the hat to the Celtics marketing person who turned Giannis and the Bucks’ visit to Boston into “Greek night”. 🏀
We checked out an open house at the murder house today and learned that it is now under agreement. So I will be spared any further mental gymnastics on that topic.
My wife and I have been eyeing this house for sale in a different town/state for a while, wondering why it hasn’t sold even though it’s quite lovely and priced very well. It turns out that a horrific triple murder occurred there in the 90s. Show-stopper or negotiating point?
Here are a few of my favorite observations from Micro.blog this week:
This is a very minor thing, but I really enjoy the quick little exchanges that sometimes occur when a Micro.blog user I follow sees someone they know pop up on the platform.
These posts are often short and free of any context. For example, “It’s nice to see you here”. Even so, it’s just nice to see people being nice.
And even if the new user has nothing more than a single “hello world” post up so far, I’ll sometimes follow them. After all, if a person I enjoy following appreciates them, maybe I will too. And if I don’t, the cost of unfollowing later is low.
I’ve seen a couple of Micro.blog users post short product reviews that are more than a link and short quip, but less than an in-depth product review.
For example, @singletary posted a short review of the Ring Video Doorbell 2 and @patrickrhone posted a similarly brief review of the GreenMade InstaCrate Collapsible Crate.
I really like this format and will likely try it in the future. In the past, I’ve enjoyed geeking out on product review posts by pushing myself to be comprehensive and weaving in five or six quality photos. The problem is that this is very time-consuming, so I rarely do it anymore.
I like the idea of pushing myself to write useful reviews within a tight length constraint. I also find this type of review enjoyable and helpful to read.
New Ways to Post
Micro.blog is friendly to third-party developers by design, and it’s fun to see developers experimenting and filling gaps.
For example, @jbwhaley created an Alfred workflow for quick posts from the Mac this week. And @mikehaynes is reporting good progress on an Android client for Micro.blog that will make the platform more useful to many people once it’s available.
“The Obsidian Serpent”, the latest from The Atavist Magazine, is a somber story that managed to make me feel sympathy for a serial killer.
Damn, LeBron. That’s just cruel. 🏀
I volunteer for a non-profit called Entrepreneurship for All. It’s a different kind of startup accelerator program. It surrounds people who want to start a small business with a team of two or three mentors from the local business community, along with a classroom curriculum and cash prize pool.
One thing I really love about EforAll is its geographic focus. It’s not a big city thing. The program serves Massachusetts “gateway cities” — places that have diverse populations, many challenges, but also significant potential.
Tonight, we kicked off the latest accelerator with an evening of “speed dating”. Each entrepreneur and mentor met one-on-one for six minutes to discuss their backgrounds and the basics of the entrepreneur’s business concept.
Based on how we scored each other, our schedule compatibility, and some other behind-the-scenes magic, we’ll be grouped into teams and spend the next three months getting a kick-ass business off the ground together.
The process is really fun and interesting, so I’ll try to write about it a bit more along the way.
Number of photos I’ve posted since the end of the Micro.blog photo challenge 10 days ago: zero.
One of the things I really like about Micro.blog is being able to favorite posts without thinking about whether it’s sending some kind of message or causing the post to be shoved in the face of other people. Usually, it’s just something I want to save so I can revisit it later.
I’ve noticed that more of the independent creators and small businesses I follow are jumping into the Black Friday discount email frenzy these days.
My reaction is usually:
- Oh yeah, that’s an awesome small business I like. Cool to be reminded of them!
- Wow, 25 percent discount? I paid full price in the past because I thought the product was worth it and liked the feeling of supporting a sustainable business. But now I feel kind of yucky.
I’m not suggesting that independent creators and small businesses shouldn’t market their products more aggressively. I’m not even saying that holiday discounts shouldn’t be part of the mix. There’s just a better way to go about it than mimicking the big box retailer playbook.
Imagine that rather than getting a deep discount email mixed in with 30 other Black Friday messages, I got a few other emails throughout the year with short updates about how business is going and appeals like:
- I’ve created something new that I’m really excited about. Since you’ve bought my stuff in the past, I’ll give you 10 percent off if you pre-order it.
- You’re part of a weirdo niche that likes our products, and it’s your birthday next month. Give this free shipping coupon code to all of your family members and see what happens.
- I know Halloween just happened, but we’re a small shop with big holiday season plans and only so much time and inventory to make it happen. If you help us out by getting an order in by Nov. 15, we’ll give you 10 percent off.
In each of these examples, marketing tactics and discounting are still used. But they are more about staying on the radar and making any discounts feel like win/win scenarios that preserve the positive feelings that come from supporting an independent business.
I just finished Vacationland by John Hodgman (Amazon / iBooks), a collection of stories in which Hodgman applies a humorist’s lens to small town life in Western Massachusetts and Maine. It was a fast and enjoyable read with enough of Hodgman’s “privilege humor” to make you think a little. If you check it out in eBook form, be sure not to miss the great cover design by Aaron Draplin.
Here are a few of my favorite observations from Micro.blog this week:
On Monday, several separate music discussions popped up on Micro.blog. I struggle with new music discovery, so I was hoping this would happen sooner or later.
New Tools to Play With
One of the perks of having so many indie blog enthusiasts in one place is that useful tools just show up.
This week, I enjoyed:
- Setting up an RSS feed of my Instagram timeline using a web app by @snarfed that @jeremycherfas pointed me and some others to
- Playing around with a “not even alpha” version of Evergreen, @brentsimmons’ forthcoming RSS reader for the Mac
- Jump-starting my Christmas shopping with Gftbot, a fun web app that @jack shared
I’ve occasionally seen @sketchbookb post original t-shirt designs to Micro.blog, but I finally took the time to take a closer look what he’s doing. He’s designing a new shirt every week for a year and accompanying each new design with an explanatory blog post.
All of the shirts are for sale on Threadless, and if you diligently check out the links I shared above, you might even find a holiday coupon code for 20 percent off.
I’m thankful that even though my job is demanding and sometimes chaotic, I have the time and location flexibility to be present for my family.
I’m thankful that my wife and I are good team in managing the daily circus of parenting two strong-willed young boys.
I’m thankful that my parents, and my wife’s parents, are in good health and finally getting to enjoy retirement after rocky starts.
I’m thankful that even though the leadership of my country is hopelessly broken, I see countless examples of people rising above it to support and care for each other every day.
Happy Thanksgiving if you’re celebrating today, and have a great day anyway if you’re not.
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