Category Archives: Business

Looking for a tech job? Check out the KCITP career fair

kcitp logoAs a huge fan of tech in the midwest, I was really glad to hear about the June 21 KCITP Summer Career Fair.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking to switch jobs, but I know plenty of talented individuals who are looking to do something different. Plus, there are eager grads now entering the workforce and ready to start their careers.

Here’s a chance: The Kansas City IT Professionals Summer Career Fair will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., June 21 (one week from today) at the Regnier Center at Johnson County Community College. (Here’s a map if you need it. It’s a really nice, modern campus.)

Here’s the thing: The event is free, but you’ll need to register to attend. You can do register over at the KCITP’s Eventbrite page.

And in case you’re wondering, no, I’m not being paid to mention this. I truly believe the Midwest (Plains if you want to get technical) is a great place for IT. We’ve got a low cost of living, excellent work ethic and BBQ. What could be better?

If you end up going to the event, please stop by and let me know how it went. I’d love to hear from you.

Baby killing

Today I decided to kill one of my babies.

Before you call the police, I have to tell you that it’s not the 4-year-old or the 18-month-old baby I’m going to kill, but rather, the one that’s 11 months old.

On Feb. 1, my sidegig, Rumblestrut, launched a job posting website for nurse practitioners called If you’d like to know more about the technical aspects of the experiences, I wrote another blog entry called 5 lessons from the NPJobSearch launch.

Rumblestrut has done work for another NP-related website, 4 State APN, and  my mom also is a nurse practitioner. (My dad is a registered nurse, too, which has saved me a few trips to the ER thanks to their insight.) In the process of working on 4 State APN, I stumbled across some job posting sites catering toward NPs that were obviously successful – taking considerable amounts of money to have employers post positions – but were terribly designed.

I believed I could do better and make some good bank at it. When it launched, I was pretty happy with how it turned out. I thought the design was good, I had social media integration that posted the jobs from the site to facebook and Twitter automatically, and people could sign up to get e-mail notices of job postings when they were posted to the site. Pretty sweet, eh?

My goal was to keep it free for six months, then start charging to have people post to the website.

What happened was, shortly after I launched it, I realized that I had made a mistake. I tried to shake it off. Perhaps I was dealing with post-launch dénouement.

No, that wasn’t it. The cold, hard, bitter fact of what I was feeling was this: I wasn’t passionate about it. I’m not in the medical field. I don’t really run in the same circles (although I know some and have certainly lived around nurses long enough to know quite a bit about the life).

Should I have chosen something I know about, such as webbys or even Lawrencians, I would have been all over it. But trying for a nationwide job search for nurse practitioners? I look at some things going on in Lawrence such as the A.D.D. podcast, Police Scanner Action in Lawrence, Kansas or Those Polish Thingies (makers of Polish pierogies) and it seems so obvious now what to do. By whatever measure you consider something a success, people who go after things they’re passionate about seem to get more momentum than those doing something only for the scrilla.

I was doomed from the start.

And so, tonight, I’ve decided to finally shut down the site. I need to do a little cleanup, notify a few of the subscribers that are left and then I’ll pull the plug.

All is not lost. I’m going to repurpose parts of the site for some other projects that I’m much more interested in. I learned a great deal in the process and I have an excellent point of reference to start from when building out my own ideas in the future.

But believe me, the next time I get into something I’ll be asking myself “Are you passionate about this?” If not, I’ll move on and do something else.

Missing the mark

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Five things to achieve in 2011.

Number five on that list was Finish some personal projects. Mostly, when I say projects I mean websites. I have a large number of ideas that get accumulated in my Action Method subscription and a good chunk of them are web-related.

In the last week, I’ve seen two similar ideas launch. It’s not that I don’t want competition – I’m a big fan of it, actually. But what really sticks in my craw is that I didn’t get either of them done this year. Welcome to the world of me: full of ideas, half-full on the skills to make them happen, empty on execution.

In the last six months I’ve spent an enormous amount of time working on projects for other people. It’s not like I don’t like helping others out – be it for money or pro bono – but it’s taken away from the limited time I have to work on things for me.

At the beginning of 2010 I had similar plans. I had an aggressive strategy mapped out for launching three homemade projects, but only got one of them out the door. I might be a little too hard on myself. We did buy a house in May, and I managed to launch the Free Kids Meals and Deals! website, too. But because I was busy doing additional web work, I didn’t get to spend that time making the things I want to make.

I’ve definitely missed the mark on the things I wanted to achieve in 2010 and I’m a little bummed about it.

Grabbing a dream by the neck

My wife started a business on Aug. 1, 2010.

Tiny Tykes Playcare logoThe business, Tiny Tykes Playcare, is something she’s wanted to do for a long time. Amy has worked for some preschools in the Lawrence and Topeka areas, but she always had this idea that she would like to be doing her own thing.

Last year she got the idea that she was finally going to go out and achieve her dream. She wanted to start her own in-home preschool program.

So, she did.

How’s it going? She started in August with 20 open slots and currently only has six available.

I’d say she’s doing quite well. Actually, I’ll go much further than that. I will say that I am very, very proud of her.

Amy has tapped into the thing she’s really passionate about, teaching kids between 18 months and five years of age, and is rocking at it. The kids follow a curriculum, make art projects, sing, play and all the other great stuff that preschools should have you do. The TV hasn’t even been on during class hours since she’s started.

This isn’t daycare. It’s a place of learning.

I’m really into the idea of the American dream. You know the one: work hard, go after your dreams and you will be successful. I know about the lizard brain and how you need to make it shut up to make your dreams come to fruition. I’ve read about how work sucks and how there’s nothing stopping you from pursuing your own work on your own time with your own terms. I’m inspired by people who have thought about “you get busy living or get busy dying” and have chosen to make their own way.

With all that knowledge, you’d think I’d be her biggest backer. I hate to say it, but I wasn’t – at least, not at first. Oh, sure, I supported her in the way a husband is supposed to back his wife, but there was a twinge of fear in me. She’s been working some dead-end part-time jobs to make ends meet since the birth of our first child four years ago and I was reluctant for her to give up the “security” of a make-ends-meet paycheck.

The thing is, deep down inside, I don’t believe in “secure” jobs that much. I believe in people and their ability to follow their passions and their capability to learn what it takes to have those passions also provide an income.

Amy is doing that. She’s happy now with her work. At the end of the day, she has tangible proof that her students are learning and absorbing the things she’s teaching them.

I think that’s awesome. It turns out I had the lizard brain, because my wife knew what she needed to do all along.

And so, the lesson has been learned. My wife doesn’t gripe about the economy and how it’s holding her back. She hasn’t griped about the government and how it isn’t friendlier toward business. She doesn’t mope around because she didn’t take action on what she wants. No, instead she works hard every day to make sure she’s kicking butt at being an excellent teacher to the kids whose parents have blessed us with their presence.

I am humbled.

I am inspired.

I am thankful to be with an amazing person who realized her dream and grabbing it by the neck.

Should you be doing likewise?

Four free ways to promote a Lawrence business

Last week, my wife, Amy, announced the opening of her new business, Tiny Tykes Playcare. The business is half parent’s-day-out, half preschool, and opened today.

Amy has taught at several preschools in the area such as the Head Start, Brookcreek Learning Center (now part of the Ballard Center), both in Lawrence, and three in Topeka: Community Action Head Start, Let’s Help, Inc. Preschool and Topeka Public Schools. Since the birth of our first daughter, Ember, in 2006, Amy stepped away from teaching for a bit to take advantage of some stay-at-home-mom time. But the opening of Tiny Tykes Playcare means she’s got to “get back out there” and get a little exposure. So, as her website developer and de facto marketing department, that meant I needed to find some places to help get her noticed. Here’s what I found.

Since we’re catering to people who live in Lawrence (unless they’re up for a drive), I looked at Lawrence-centered websites that we could post for free. I’m not opposed to spending a little on advertising, but when you’re first getting started it can be tight. Here’s the top (and perhaps only) three local websites where we could post the business for free. If you’ve got a small business, I hope these help you as well.


Facebook, the social networking juggernaut, is a far cry from being a local website – or is it? Facebook fan pages are free, and if you’re on Facebook, you’re likely already friends with many people where your business is located physically, too.

Pros: Facebook fan pages offer insights into the demographics of your fans: age, sex, location, language, etc. Most importantly, it creates an excellent opportunity to open a dialogue with fans and potential customers of your businesses. Can easily integrate into Facebooks advertising program when you’re ready to spead a little dough. Many online referrals come from Facebook to the website.

Cons: For the most part, you’ll only benefit from Facebook fan pages’ features if visitors to the page are already users of Facebook. Interface for Insights can be a little clunky.


If Facebook is the new order, Craigslist is the old school king. With a design that has barely changed since its incorporation in 1999, Craigslist is one of the largest threats to newspaper advertising. Because it offers mostly free advertising, it’s popularity and reach is unparalleled.

Pros: Depending on what your business is, you might be able to post on several different categories for the Lawrence area. You will get some web traffic just by being on Craigslist.

Cons: Prepare for spam. Because Craigslist is free, it’s also can be a spammer/scammer playground.


From 2003 to about 2007, was my No. 1 place to find information about products and services in Lawrence, particuarly in their forums section. In this section is the Larryville Local Business Websites forum and the Larryville SOHO Listings, both great for listing your Lawrence businesses for a little extra exposure.

Pros: Like Craigslist, Larryville is a good source of traffic. Although not as heavy of a referrer as facebook, it’s still good for a few website visits now and then.

Cons: Sadly, Larryville is a shadow of what it used to be. Visitors to the home page are greeted with news articles that haven’t been updated since April, and much of the website has turned from a useful resource to a political soapbox without much direction. It’s easy to tell by looking at the Last Post section on each forum that interaction on the site has slowed.


Marketplace is a product of the Lawrence-Journal World, the big newspaper in Lawrence. Marketplace serves as a virtual directory of many local businesses and upgrade options can lead to greater exposure in LJW’s other publications. I’ve had experience with Marketplace before, with the inclusion of my web development side biz, Rumblestrut.

Pros: Very clean design, well organized, search features are great, excellent integration with other media products.

Cons: From my experience, very (and I mean very) few onlne referrals come from Marketplace.

Ultimately, you should go with whatever works for you.

If Marketplace gets you tons of referrals but everyone who likes your business hates Facebook, then the choice is already made for you. It takes time to get the word out about your business and you should use whatever methods are available, then prune out unnecessary ones if you need.

Why not try posting to all of them today and see what happens?