Always be publishing

giraffe zebras

Join 28,000 others and follow Sean Hull on twitter @hullsean.

As an advisor to New York area startups & an long time entrepreneur, I’ve found writing & publishing to be extremely valuable use of time.

I follow the motto “Always be publishing” here’s why.

1. Form your voice

According to Fred Wilson, blogging has been one of the seminal decisions contributing to his success.


“It’s like Venus Fly Paper. When I write about topics that are relevant, suddenly anybody with a startup solution in that field will approach us. This works brilliantly.”

Also: 5 Things I learned from Fred Wilson & Mark Suster

2. Get in the conversation

The world online moves quickly and it can move in surprising directions. Hype, hysteria & buzz can direct the conversation as much as facts.

Getting into the conversation allows you to weigh in. This builds your credibility. As it puts you in the line of fire, you stand up & get heard.

Related: Is blogging crucial to career building?

3. Be in the line of fire

In sales there’s a saying, “always be closing”. It means always be in front of your customers, always be on point, always be getting deals done. That’s embodying your role as a salesman.

For builders, consultants, advisors, speakers & entrepreneurs, writing puts you directly in the line of fire. You express your opinions online loud & clear. Sometimes you will find critics picking apart your ideas. Sometimes they may correct you.

This process will help you hone your ideas. Strengthen some & modify & adjust others. All of it is good.

Read: Is building traffic & pagerank possible through active blogging?

4. Share your knowledge

As an advisor, entrepeneur or professional services consultant you sell your knowledge & expertise. Why not share a bit of that with the world at large.

This is one part good samaritan, and one part testimonial of your skill & style.

Also: Is Ryan Holiday about the internet & the death of journalism?

5. Learn by doing

Back in 2001 I wrote a book called Oracle + Open Source.

Along the way, writing chapter after chapter of material, there were times when I had to brush up on material. Or write & rewrite sections. Some of it wasn’t explained well, and other material I didn’t know as well as I needed to.

Today I intersperse howtos with writing on consulting, or industry trends. Inevitably a howto like Wrestling with bears or how I tamed Tungsten Replicator involves a lot of hands-on learning.

All of this is driven by blogging & publishing.

Also: Is the difference between dev & ops a four-letter word?

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Why I use Airbnb chat even when texting is easier

airbnb

If you’ve ever traveled & stayed with an Airbnb host, you know that once you book you can easily switch to text messaging. Sometimes this is easier. But as I found out, it’s smarter to stick with a channel that we all can share.

Join 30,000 others and follow Sean Hull on twitter @hullsean.

I had a similar experience with a recent consulting customer. The lesson was much the same.

Choose your communication channels wisely, for you may need them for other reasons later on.

1. Not what I paid for

I’ve been hosting travelers off & on through Airbnb for some time. It’s a fun past time, as you can meet some interesting people, and share a little bit of *your* city. That and there’s a little bit of extra income too, which doesn’t hurt.

One visitor I had wasn’t particularly happy with the setup. I’ve hosted dozens of people before, so I know that the space is popular to most. However this one guy seemed unhappy from the start. He didn’t read the fine print that it was a shared space with separate rooms. He was unhappy with the specific location too. And later he complained about a bicycle I had loaned him.

Also: Is Amazon too big to fail?

2. How Airbnb chat helped

At the end of his visit he asked for some of the fee to be refunded.

As I dug through our Airbnb chat, I copy/pasted our various communications, and in the end this helped clarify & remedy the situation. It also didn’t hurt that Airbnb themselves were there behind the scenes and could review all these messages as well.

Having a third party to arbitrate can make a big difference. Lets hope it doesn’t come to that, but if it does, you want a communication channel they can also see.

Related: 5 Reasons to move data to Amazon Redshift

3. Consulting engagements & corporate emails

Over the years I generally use my own email for projects & engagements. However recently I took on a longer engagement. At the start there was some insistence on using an internal email for communications. I was hesitant, but eventually conceded as it tied in with google calendaring and various internal aliases.

As the months went by, I tried & failed to use both emails for correspondence. It was a habit that was hard to change. What’s more forwarding *all* emails to my own was also difficult. With an ongoing barrage of all@company.com messages numbering in the hundreds, it simply blew up my email account. That wasn’t sustainable either.

Read: Do managers underestimate operational cost?

4. After you leave

You may not be thinking of after your consulting assignment at the start of it. But you should be. You’ll engage in many communications, about a lot of different topics. Some about what is & isn’t in scope. Some about deliverables & timelines.

You’ll also have communications has things unfold, and as they are delivered. All of these are crucial to the engagement, as evidence of what was done when. If after you leave, all those emails are gone (at least that you can reach), it can be problematic.

What’s more once you set a precedent communicating one way, it’s hard to change habits. Best to set the precedent strongly up front.

Also: Are we fast approaching cloud-mageddon

5. Your channel is your paper trail

In todays mobile-heavy world, there are tons of channels we can use to communicate. From Whatsapp to Slack, Hipchat to email & text. They all have their strengths & weaknesses.

But sometimes we need to choose based on future needs. Leaving a paper trail can be important. Having future control over those past communications can bring legal benefit.

And all of these communications can help avoid misunderstandings if they’re available for review later.

Also: Which tech do startups use most?

Get more. Grab our exclusive monthly Scalable Startups. We share tips and special content. Our latest Why I don’t work with recruiters

Is Amazon too big to fail?

aws fault tolerance

Amazon is the huge online retailer everyone knows well. However there is another side of Amazon, namely Amazon Web Services that hosts many of the internets largest websites.

Join 28,000 others and follow Sean Hull on twitter @hullsean.

In the infrastructure & operations world, Amazon is the Citibank, JP Morgan or Goldman Sachs of cloud providers.

1. Outage takes down Yelp & Netflix

As reported on Thousand Eyes among other places, Amazon had a major outage yesterday.

Amazon experienced a problem with how they route data over the network. Routing is the technical term for how the internet moves data around. When routing goes wrong at a provider like Amazon, the websites they host will go down too.

Also: Are we fast approaching cloud-mageddon?

2. Automation can’t save you

Netflix is famous for their great streaming service, and shows like House of Cards.

On the technology side they’re also pretty famous. They deploy legions of Amazon servers to stream movies using Chaos Monkey. This open source suite allows them to remain resilient even if individual servers or components go offline.

Yet a heavy reliance on Amazon itself, meant a wider outage for them was also an outage for Netflix.

Related: What tech do startups use most?

3. Of cloud monopolies

Amazon’s dominance in the cloud hosting space is incredible. There are providers that can beat them in compute power, speed & price. But with their incredible reach of global datacenters & relentless growth they are still the first choice for most internet shops.

What is the downside of such dominance? What happened yesterday illustrates it clearly. When Amazon goes down, so do financial companies like Experian,

Read: Do managers underestimate operational cost?

4. Diversify your data portfolio

In the banking world we can put together legislation, regulating banks. We can enact capital requirements or consider breaking up the largest ones. For investors & consumers you can diversify your portfolio, putting money in different asset classes & institutions. If one fund fails, others will balance it out.

We can do the same with cloud hosting. For larger internet applications, deploying on multiple clouds can be very beneficial. In that case an outage at Amazon, would merely mean your global load balancer kicks in, sending traffic to your plan B servers.

Also: Replicate big data to Amazon Redshift with Tungsten

Get more. Grab our exclusive monthly Scalable Startups. We share tips and special content. Our latest Why I don’t work with recruiters