Portfolio, Program and Project Management 101 For Husbands

You’ve made a new friend at work after years. Ravi. He’s intelligent, smart and ambitious. You rarely find that combo in your friends. Even if you do, you don’t want to admit it. Ego, I hate ya!

Ravi is looking for a match. That’s one of his goals for 2017. The day finally comes when he joins back work after a break and tells you that it’s a done deal! Ravi tells you that You have to come to his wedding. There is enough time to plan. It’s January and the wedding is in April. And with family. No excuses!

Of course. I will come, you say.  

The e-wedding invitation follows.

With God’s grace, and our parent’s blessings, the day has come

when Ursala & I are taking a step forward

to begin a wonderful life together!

You want to attend his wedding. However, you can’t really decide right away. You have to go home and talk to your wife about it. Like all decisions where the family is involved, this has to pass through a selection process where you guys will decide whether this will be added as another item to the existing set of things you are already doing i.e. your Portfolio. 

This idea is hence taken to your HMO (Home Management Office) where this selection / filtering of ideas happens. Just like your PMO (Project Management Office) at work.

Potential Portfolio –> Pipeline Portfolio –>Active Portfolio

(new idea) (approved ideas) (in-flight)

The good news though is that your wife also knows Ravi. Ravi has developed a good rapport with all your family members in a short time since you have known him. So, she’ll not say no (although she always practices the Art of Saying No with you).

Portfolio Management is the Centralized management of one or more portfolios to achieve strategic objectives. It aligns with the organizational strategies by selecting the right programs or projects, prioritizing the work, and providing the needed resources.

Wife reviews your request and after a brief discussion, she seems to be okay with the decision of attending the marriage with our two lovely kids. She doesn’t share why she decided so, but the PM in you thinks that one of the reasons has to do with the fact that friendship ranks high on your Family Values Chart (well, if something like that ever existed.)

You’re not wrong but your wife has done much more analysis and modeling than that.

Sample Project Selection Scoring Model

SCORING PARAMETER Low (1 point) Medium (5 points) High (10 points) Total Score
Strategic alignment – fits with your family values     10 10
Value (ROI) kids miss school but they learn by visiting a new place   5   5
Complexity – remote place, managing leaves   5   5
Synergy – Lavesh’s (another colleague’s) family also coming along     10 10
Total Score 30/40


You are enthused with this little win. However, you don’t realize until later that this would be a lot of work.

This is what you thought was your Project scope to Plan for: Family to attend Ravi’s wedding.

Project Scope is the work required to be done to deliver a product, service or result with the specified features and functions.

You had thought it was just attending the wedding but as time passes, and details become available you realize it’s actually a series of interrelated activities (i.e. it’s a Program though you initially you thought it was a Project!).

Program Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to a program to meet the program requirements and to obtain benefits and control not available by managing projects individually.

Over time, you realize that this is what you will need to get done. And this list too is growing:

  1. Manage leaves not only for yourself, but your wife and children too.
  2. The wedding is at Oracha in M.P. (This place didn’t exist for you until now!). Travel arrangements and hotel reservations to be planned.
  3. Explaining to your folks why on earth do you have to attend a friend’s wedding at Oracha!
  4. Create your official backup who will offer the first line of defence to keep your phone from ringing all the time while you’re in Oracha, and, thus, protecting you from your wife’s cuss words.
  5. Plan for catching up on your return – for yourself, and wife and kids.
  6. It’s hot at Oracha (I’m trying to get used to the name) and your kids are delicate darlings. You’re not Mukesh Ambani!
  7. ..
  8. ..

Progressive Elaboration is the iterative process of increasing the level of detail in project management plan as greater amounts of information and more accurate estimates become available.

All the above are small (you now think otherwise) projects in themselves. It’s just that you realized it later but these are all to be done in order for you to make your plan to attend Ravi’s wedding successful.

Project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.

You start the planning. You apply for 4 days leave 4 months in advance. It will not be approved until one week before your travel. It keeps you anxious and brings you to a point where you say you’ll quit your job if the leave is now not approved.

Meanwhile, Lavesh, the other colleague who is also attending Ravi’s wedding tells you that now that you’re going there, there are other places we all can go and visit too. Khajuraho, Gwalior, Agra, Jhansi aren’t too far.

You get tempted. You don’t think it’s a bad idea at all.

You haven’t appointed a formal project manager to manage the plan but thankfully you have your wife. The de facto manager is such situations. You have to review this with your wife.

She shows you what you were missing. I thought we were going to attend Ravi’s wedding. Your four day leave is still not approved and now we’ll add another day to show the erotic temples of Khajuraho to our kids!?! You can’t be serious!

You apologize and she stands proudly after having won this argument easily. You feel small and plan to kill Lavesh. His idea had came disguised as the project work itself, and hence you couldn’t tell it apart. Wife easily did. They have 6th sense.

Scope Creep: The uncontrolled expansion to product or project scope without adjustments to time, cost and resources.

Congratulations! Today, we have understood the following concepts of Project Management:

  • Difference and relationship among Portfolios, Programs and Projects
  • PMO and it’s corelation with Portfolio Management
  • Scope definition
  • Progressive elaboration and how is it different from Scope creep
  • Project Selection Scoring Model

All highlighted definitions are taken from PMI PMBOK Fifth Edition. Sample Project Selection Scoring model derived from http://www.thinktankconsulting.ca

By now, you know you are all Portfolio Managers. You do much more than you think you do. Better plan for it instead of just letting it all happen. I will look forward to hearing from your thoughts and questions on the topics. 

Until next time, Adios!

Risk Management 101 for Husbands

You are a middle manager. You have been married for ten years and have a beautiful wife and two wonderful kids.

All is going well. Well, except one thing- You are bored. Life is monotonous. That routine is killing you. You want to do something of your own but like most employed people, your dreams are bought over by the monthly salary. They are paying you more than you can ever think you can make on your own, after all!

It’s like any other day today. You are driving back from work, feeling drowsy and tired. No excitement whatsoever. Suddenly, the phone rings. It is a UK number. You have little energy left but you manage to answer the call.

“Hi ya!” says the voice on the phone. It’s a sweet voice that of a girl.

You feel better and reply. “Hi! Who is that?”

“You have to guess, Mister!”, comes the reply.

It sounds familiar now. “Is that Tina?”

Of course it is. Tina, an old flame back from the loo..ng gone college days.

You feel even better. You are speaking with her after over a decade.

There is so much to catch up. She’s married. She moved to U.K. She has three girls. Her husband is eccentric from what she tells you. 

She too is perhaps bored you think.

You start to get interested – in her life and your own too. Life is not as boring as it was before she called. You’re both the shoulder you needed to cry on that your spouses didn’t become. Conversation doesn’t end until you reach home. You drove slower to get more time. The traffic today seemed less than usual. The watch tells a different story though. It’s been an hour and a half that you’ve been talking. Your wife has called thrice during that time and her calls have gone unanswered.

You feel a bit guilty but decide not to tell your wife. Not everything has to be told to her, after all!

Tina inquires about your schedule. She calls you the next day. Same long conversations and you’re loving it. You’re loving life too. Wife’s calls are going unanswered and she is of course taking a note of the ‘engaged’ tone.

Your worry now is “What if she finds out?”

You recall how Tina had proposed to you in college. You had turned down the proposal politely because she would be a fantastic girlfriend but not a good wife, you had decided.  She’ll be too hot to handle at home.

You think that you’re not romancing with Tina, so may be you shouldn’t be so worried. But then, who knows what you’re talking about? Your wife certainly doesn’t. She can easily find out that you’ve been in touch with who she knows is your ex-girlfriend. You had told her that in good times. 

Risk Identification is the process of determining which risks may affect the project and documenting their characteristics

You think this could be a risk to your so called happily married life (project).

A Project risk is an uncertain event or condition that if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more Project objectives such as scope, cost, and quality. A risk may have one or more causes and if it occurs, it may have one or more impacts.

The PM in you makes a note of this risk in the risk register:

“Risk Register is where the results of risk analysis and risk response planning are recorded”

Risk Description: My wife could come to know of my daily long conversations with Tina.

You don’t want to let your wife to come to know of this secret. At the same time, you don’t want to stop talking to Tina. She’s fun to talk with after all and breaks the monotony of your life. You have fallen in love with life again. You are looking happier than usual. You should have anticipated that looking happier could very well be a hint for your wife. How could you be happier?

“Risk Mitigation is a risk response strategy whereby the project team acts to reduce the probability of occurrence or impact of a risk.”

You chose the following risk mitigation steps:

  • Never take  Tina’s calls in front of your wife
  • Delete the call history in case your wife checks
  • Delete the Whatsapp messages exchanged with Tina
  • Have an excuse handy in case your wife asks why didn’t you answer her calls. (Office conference call)

You feel relieved after having planned for all this.

You follow your risk management plan to a tee.

Days pass. You get used to talking with Tina. Life has a new meaning. Unlike your wife, Tina is full of life and conversations are keeping you glued. She’s nudging you to do your own thing too!

Meanwhile, your guilt is growing bigger. Is what I’m doing wrong?

But that’s not a strong enough reason for you to stop. You soothe yourself by saying – of course it’s alright. It’s alright to talk to a friend. It’s alright to feel good. It’s alright!

But following the risk mitigation steps is becoming mundane. Everyday you have to remember to delete call history and messages. You can’t remember if it was yesterday that you deleted it or today. You know you are forgetting to do it regularly. One day you forget. You reach home, leave your phone on the dining table and head to the washroom.

Inside the loo, you realize that you haven’t deleted the messages and call details. You come out after a while and do that as first thing.

Later that night, your wife confronts you.

Have you been in touch with Tina? Says she with her eyes telling more than you expected.

“Yeah”, you say “She called this week. I thought I told you.”

How long did you speak with her?

What do you mean?

I mean how long. 10 minutes. 1 hour. How long?

I can’t remember but she called after ages and there was a lot to catch up.

And messages. Did you exchange any messages with her?

If it smells like a rat feels like rat and looks like a rat. It is a rat.

You have to admit it. Yes.

When was the last time you exchange messages with her and spoke with her?

Has been a couple of days.

Sure? Will you mind if I check your phone now?

Yes. Feel free to check. But only if you don’t trust me!

She doesn’t  check the phone. But clearly, she knows. Not sure what she had read. You had been exchanging messages that you think are nothing more than harmless flirtations. “You look even more hotter now!”. But your wife is not cool enough to get it!

That night your wife doesn’t speak with you. Next day too. Your marriage is under threat.

You are now worried. You take the courage to ask her, “What is wrong?”

She doesn’t budge. She’s giving you a cold shoulder. You insist. She finally tells you she knows. She knows that you’ve been talking to Tina.  You didn’t plan for what you would do if she finds out.

“A contingency plan is a course of action designed to help respond effectively to a significant future event or situation that may or may not happen. A contingency plan is sometimes referred to as “Plan B”.

You fumble for words. You try to explain. I was just talking.

But the harm is done.

The risk has become an issue.

“The key difference is that an “issue” already has occurred and a “risk” is a potential issue that may or may not happen. 

You realize that you should have created a contingency plan in advance, which you didn’t.

Contingent Response Strategy: Response provided which may be used in the event that a specific trigger occurs.

Actually the problem is more than that. You have a major conflict with your wife. What’s a conflict? Well, that’s the topic for another time, when I share a personal story (not mine, but some person’s) to explain the concept of Conflict Management.

Good news! After reading this story, you have learnt something new about Project Management. You should now be able to confidently answer the following questions:

  • What is Risk register?
  • What is a Risk Management Plan?
  • What is Risk Mitigation and how is it different from Risk Contingency?
  • What is meant by impact of a risk?
  • How are risks different from issues?

All highlighted definitions are taken from PMI PMBOK Fifth Edition.

What are some of your personal examples of Risk Planning in your life? I am sure husbands will not want to spill the beans and increase the risk (probability) of getting caught. But then you can always share your friend’s stories ;).

I Was Dying..

“First, I was dying to finish my high school and start college.

And then, I was dying to finish college and start working.

Then, I was dying to marry and have children.

And then, I was dying for children to grow old enough so I could go back to work.

Not too long after, I was dying to retire.

And now, when I am dying…

..suddenly I realized that I never lived!

Please don’t let this happen to you.

Appreciate your current situation and enjoy each day.

Learn from children.

Live before you finally die.”

-an old friend

Add Colors To Your Child’s Life

For a child, life is a clean canvas. We are the artists. We add colors: colors which teach them values, manners, creativity, responsibility…and add meaning to their lives!

Here are the 5 colors that I would want to paint on my child’s canvas:

The ‘Priorities’ Color

We must encourage our child to help understand and write down what is most important for him/ her. For example, it could be Family, Health, School, Football, Dance, Travel. Once it is clear, work with your child to create a daily plan so that they can paint the upcoming day with the colors that work best for them i.e. their priorities because ‘Days are our lives in miniature’!

The ‘Seek Help’ Color

There are times in life when the child will feel stuck or trapped in situations. The test he/ she is not prepared for, the bully who troubles him/ her in the bus, or even the color of shoes they want to wear. Tell your child that it’s perfectly okay to seek help when a situation like this comes. Don’t we all get in situations like these?! Help is available and solutions are possible. We just have to tell’em to use the seek help color!

The Gratitude Color

Many of my fellow parents tell me that their child is often worried or scared – scared of going to the washroom alone at night, someone under the bed, worried about grades. I am surprised that they still don’t know that Gratitude is the antidote to fear. This is one color that we must always have in our life.

In the night, before sleep, ask your child to write down the 3 things he/ she is grateful for today. It will take away their fears and make them focused on gratitude. Shift their (and your own) focus from what went wrong to what’s going right.

The Color of  ‘Happyness’

Teach your children to be happy – is it as simple as it sounds?! Well, it is, if you teach them to enjoy their own company, if you help them take out time to reflect and be the Director of their own lives rather than being an actor all the time, if you encourage them to define what ‘happyness’ means to them!

The last and the most important color…

The ‘Keep Looking For’ Color

Some of the children are gifted -in academics, sports, or art. For them, it is clear what they want to do in life. But for others, it is important for the parents to help the children try ‘new’ colors, until they find the one that suits them the best. It is alright to make mistakes. Not all colors will suit everyone after all. Keep looking and keep enjoying the process.

So, while you pick up the brush to paint your child’s canvas do not forget to give a few strokes to your own lives. Remember, we have to lead by example! It is impossible to expect our children to be colored unless we ourselves are colorful. Parents after all are the ones who start coloring the life canvas of their children and then pass on the paint brushes to the child. So, take an oath mommies and daddys’ :

“I, [your name], pledge to add strokes to my own canvas before I stand up as an artist for my child.”

– [Sign]

Ah! What better occasion to start coloring than the festival of colors itself!

Happy Holi Everyone!

 

They’ll Do What You Do, Not What You Tell Them To Do!

“Is this magic?”, I am left wondering nowadays.

As a parent, I always wished that Tanav, my 7 year old son, reads more and expresses himself better. Perhaps, I would have told him too several times in the past but that counseling hadn’t helped one bit.

And today, Tanav, is sitting next to me and writing his journal! It is about 10 PM and he has been following this daily nightly ritual since last 7 days!

It’s such a wonder to see this little guy, who was in my lap till not so long ago, write his mind! 

Curiosity could have killed me so I sought his permission to read his diary and thankfully I was granted that (..well so far so good).

He has a section called Thank You For, where he is writing about what he is grateful for –  for giving us this life, the house, food..

Another section called I Want To, where he writes about what he wants to do today, tomorrow and in life. Some of his words are eye-openers, like when he wrote, I want to be a Science Teacher!

There is another section called Doing,where he writes about what he and others in the family are doing. Papa is writing, Mom is sleeping..

There are also, of course, a lot of his random thoughts on the pages.

He is also reading a lot these days.

Gerenimo Stilton’s The Phoenix of Destiny. It’s not an easy book to read, not for him. But last Sunday, he was sitting on his desk for over an hour reading.

I am not sure how much he is absorbing, but that doesn’t matter at the moment. I am so glad that he is enjoying reading and that too independently! This would have been a far cry till a few months back.

It’s more surprising that Tanav is continuing to do the above despite the fact that my nieces, his cousins, are here. He still takes out the time to read and write from his busy play schedule!

Now, you must be wondering how this change happened?

Answer is pretty simple but yet, we parents keep forgetting it.

Tanav does so because he is observing what his Mum and Dad do. The sections in his diary look familiar to me because my journal also has sections for Gratitude, Random Notes, What I want to do.

They'll Do What You Do
Tanav and Me ‘Cleaning’ after a Rain storm

I read quite a bit and write daily. Deepti, my wife, does so too.

The point I want to put across in today’s post is that: Those small eyes and ears are observing you in what you do. They are learning from you.

They will do what you do, not what you ask them to do!

Question: How has your experience been in inculcating a new habit in your child? Share your thoughts below.


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7 Reasons Why You Should Join “Toastmasters Club of West Delhi”!

In my case it was love at first sight!

I remember my first meeting as a guest. The next thing I know is falling head over heels in love. Here’s why:

  1. The Trust Factor: Each one of the role players was performing their role for the first time: Toastmaster or the Day, Timer, Ah Counter.. Unique and courageous idea. Is that even possible? And each one of them did so well that one couldn’t tell they were first timers until told! Putting that kind of trust in the members would have taken their confidence to another level!
  2. Makes You Feel at Home: Speakers were free of fear– felt at home, perhaps even more than that. As if they knew they’re in a place where everyone is there to bring out the best in them. 

    Evaluation should be like your best friend’s advice – Rajendra Popli

  3. Timings and Location: Excellent for me! Actually not just for me, working people and students will all prefer to attend the Sunday morning (1030 to 1230 hours) meeting. Besides the learning, it’s a great way to kick start and gain momentum on your otherwise lazy Sunday mornings.
  4. Guests are Guests:
    1. It was a pleasant surprise to win the Best Table Topics Speaker award. I didn’t even think I was eligible because usually clubs don’t consider guests for evaluations/ certificates / awards. But then these are the things that make this club unique. They made is so special for me (and for all guests!).
    2. The acting President asked me and other guests to come on the stage and present the most important award – The Best Speaker Award. I haven’t seen that in any other club. It’s totally like TMWD stole my heart in a subtle and yet very genuine way.
  5. The Little BIG Things:
    1. I loved the fact that they offered snacks and drinks during the break. (Well, I know some clubs who keep you hungry!). Especially liked the fact that they had kept bottled water also (easily forgettable) because I don’t take sodas at all.
    2. As I was stepping out after the meeting, I met the lady who played the Table Topics Master. I told her, “It was lovely to be here. You all were very welcoming.” She responded very matter of factly – – “That will be na. We’re family..” Then she added, ” I want to see you next time.” Her simple words have stayed with me.
    3. Guests are referred as “Potential Toastmasters” instead of “Guests.” Yet another subtle and yet very powerful way of making guests feel a part of the ‘TMWD family.’
  6. Lights are ON and Everyone’s Home
    1. The acting President indicated to me to enter the meeting only during applause. She was present. In fact everyone seemed to be so fully present.
    2.  I was encouraged to give a Table Topics speech. At the end of the meeting, guests were invited to say a few words. As I was thanking the club, the acting President said, “We’re honored to have you here!” I was floored!
  7. Genuineness!: Everyone at the club is following and encouraging others to follow their dreams and passions. They’re all from different walks and in different seasons of life and yet they all exuded a strange genuineness. All trying to make the world a little better in their own small little way. It shows. It attracts. 

I am blown with TMWD. Hats off!

In a Toastmasters world where clubs do many things to push you into joining them, here is a club that you will get naturally pulled towards. Attend a meeting as a guest and find out for yourself.

Meanwhile, TMWD folks, keep doing what you are doing. You are awesome!

Why Being a Good Dad is Not Good Enough!

There are two fathers and two sons, how many people are there?“, shouted Tanav, my eight years old son, to overcome the volume of TV news.

Dad and I were watching TV, holding our glasses of Whiskey, as he said that.

We both looked at Tanav, our attention going away from the evening news.

We looked at each other, our eyes made a mental agreement to not steal Tanav’s thunder. Then we looked back at Tanav and said, both at the same time, “Four?

Tanav bounced back, “It’s three. Count the people in this room, there are two fathers, Grandpa and Papa, and two sons, Papa and me. How many are in the room? Three, right?”

“Oh yes”, I said. “Didn’t strike us at all.”

Why Being a Good Dad is Not Good Enough
Two Fathers and Two Sons

As Tanav danced out of the room, there was silence in the room. TV had been switched off now. The silence was asking us to speak with each other!

“Now that you are a Dad yourself, would you bring up your children any differently than how I brought you up?”, Dad asked me sounding proud of himself. 

I took a larger sip of my drink, let an ice cube enter my mouth, bit it, chewed it and then said, “Nothing at all Dad! You did very well as a father and I will do the exact same as a Dad myself.”

His question had come suddenly and besides, I didn’t want him to feel bad. I did think, after all, that he’d done fine as a Dad in my growing up years. In fact, I had always thought of him as my Hero!

But his question stayed with me after our conversation ended. Perhaps because in the subconscious, I did think there were certain things he could have done differently. However, it was not clear what and I didn’t want to delve deeper into it since it was past.

That night, I had a dream.

I saw the growing up child I once was, speaking about what all he expected from his father. I tried to look closer to infer the age of the child in the dream. He was smiling at me and I realized that his age was the age where all my growing up years converged!

He looked seven at one point and looked fifteen at another. He looked at me in the eye and said, “I am here to teach you The Great Dads ABCs or as you might understand better The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Dads”:

THE GREAT DAD’s ABCs:

  • AAccept me for who I am– Clearly, I am different from whom you expect me to be. I am not merely an extension of you!. I am not as strong, or as clear as you. Please accept me for who I am. If you do, it would tell me the person who I trust the most accepts me for who I am. Once I know that Dad, I can conquer the world!
  • BBelieve in me – Don’t quash my dreams before they take wings. Don’t cut me off when I tell you something. Listen more and talk less. That, Dad, would boost my confidence to a totally different level.
  • CCare for me – I am not a task to be checked off. You pick me up from school but please don’t keep me waiting those endless hours when you try to get your other work done on the way –  mixer repair, business purchases or visits to stockbrokers. And, if you really have to, please ask me how I felt while I was waiting – Did I feel hungry or thirsty or under the weather or did I miss my favorite TV program. It would make a world of difference if you ask.
  • D: Let me Decide– Don’t stop me from seeing Grandpa or Aunt just because you had some temporary discords with them. Don’t decide for me that I don’t need those books to read. That may save you money but you’d not win my heart. Don’t say, “Have you finished reading the previous one yet?” It will make me a far superior decision maker when I grow up if I am allowed to start making these small decisions as I am growing up.
  • E: Don’t take the Easy way – I want to know more from you about those taboo topics – what it was all about – sex, drugs, smoking, and boozing. You are someone I trust and look up to. I won’t understand all that by you taking the easy way of not talking about it. My curiosity will push me to seek out and learn from the school of hard knocks – talking to friends or looking up those CD or trying out what it feels like to have a puff.
  • F: Be more Fun – Please take out the time so we can have more fun together, more 1:1 time, more outings! I want to play more table tennis which I know you love to play too but you never have the time. I have the fondest memories of the one or two times we played Carrom together. But, we don’t do that enough. I wish we do
  • G : Be Good – Don’t just be good with me, but with everyone, especially the person who means the world to me, my Mom! I wish you don’t quarrel so much with Mom. I try to stop you but you don’t listen. Please do. Don’t consider me too small, and ignore me. Please don’t say, “Now you are going to teach me how to behave?”

“Despite all that, I love you, Dad”, he said.

“I always have and I always will. You are and will be my Hero always. But this, Dad, would make you my Super Hero Dad.”

This dream was full of learning for me. When I woke up the next morning, I jotted this down and decided to use this as a checklist in my current role as Dad.

So, all the Good Dads, what else would you add to this checklist to become Great Dads?


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Do You Have a Home Base?

Sometimes the best place to learn something is the School of Hard Knocks.

I say that because we’ve all heard the good stuff about taking a back up or setting up your own platform instead of relying on others. And yet, we usually realize this only when we experience a laptop crashes or when a seemingly nice website eats up our blogposts!

Truth be told. I have had a laptop crash and lost all my data. It couldn’t be recovered no matter how much I offered to pay or how much time I invested. What hurt the most was losing the personal files – Tanav, my son’s baby pictures and our honeymoon diaries.

Since then, I have all my important documents and pictures backed up on Cloud. If my phone dies or laptop crashes now, it wouldn’t hurt as much. I will, at most, lose only a day or two of data which was yet to be backed up. Google Photos compresses the files when it stores it on Cloud which means the quality is not as good. But I can live with that. At least, the data is there when I need it.

In fact the only photos from that time which I could get back after I lost it to the computer crash were the ones which were shared on Picasa.

While I have learnt my lesson about keeping a back up, I still had to learn the hard why the importance of a home base i.e. using your own hosted platform for writing your blogs.

There are sites that offer a plethora of good features – 750words for instance – and they help you get your act together as a writer. Some of them are reliable as well but it’s nothing when compared with your own site!

Some of you may be thinking Linkedin, Facebook, Google Docs. These are reliable, you’d argue. Perhaps more than your own site. Besides, the world is here and so it’d be a lot easier to share your ideas here.

Well, you never know. Yahoo is a living (or should I say dead) example of how sites can die a slow death. There are others which have gone off suddenly or started behaving erratically. Another such example from Google world itself if Orkut. Remember? These seemed impossible to fall apart once. But they did.

Even if they don’t fall apart, you never know how they might decide to use your data. You are not in control once you give your hard work to someone else.

The worst that can happen to you is that you may lose it all. Like it happened with me. In my last Platform blog, I wrote about a site called Morning Pages. I hadn’t used it in a while, but after having written a blog about it, I decided to use it for a couple of days. In fact, I wrote my dreams (literally, dreams) there so I could reflect on them and get to understand my self and my fears better (step one in overcoming them).

But boom, after a couple of days, I wanted to see what I had written and it was all gone. There is no place to go to look at the archive of ones blogs! I searched all over and googled as well. Nothing helped.

I went back to the landing page which looked all prim and proper.. until I scrolled down a bit where it casually mentioned this:

Shutting down the forum: We’ve decided to shut down the forum, as it was rarely used, and seems to have attracted the attention of a lot of spambots lately.

We invite everyone to use our Github repo instead for reporting bugs, asking questions, submitting pull requests etc.

Holy crap! And what about my work? Please give it back to me. If you are shutting it down, then do it. Why are you still letting people fall in to writing only to end up realizing there is no way to get it back? Please.

This is just venting that I cannot do on Morning Pages. They don’t have a place for me to write to them. So, I am doing it here. On my home ground.

And if you think your audience is on Linked in or Facebook. Then you can always put a link to your blog on these platforms. if you’ve written something that’s worth it, people will read it. They will also come back to your site and register if they see value in what you write. You can create an email list of your customers to serve them better. Can you do that with someone else’s platform?

You can’t afford to build your house on a rented lot. - Michael Hyatt Click To Tweet

Question: Are you convinced that you should have a home base for your platform? If yes, what steps will you take to get started?


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Tools to Nudge You To Write Daily!

I have been a HUGE fan of 750words.com. Have used it for a long time and have been looking to find something similar to embed in my WordPress site. It works. It nudges me to write 750 words daily. It may not seem a lot, but when I don’t write a words for days together, I so realize how worth the little magic is.

In the quest for looking for something similar, I stumbled upon this free WP plug-in: Editor Colors on Word Count. It changes the background color when you’re writing depending upon the number of words you have written. You have the ability to change the count after which you want the color to change.

This can be done from Settings->Editor Colors on the WP Dashboard, after the plug-in is installed.

Well, to be honest, I am still not settles with the idea of using this plug-in as a replacement for 750words. If anyone is an equally die hard fan,  lets partner and create something for people like us. I am not savvy with creating WordPress plug-ins alone but we can do something about it.

750words.com creators, sorry don’t want to act mean to use your idea, but seriously you have got me hooked to it so much that we do need a WP plugin for it. Perhaps, you can create one, charge for it if you have to. But yes, its needed.

Till then, lets try to get used to this. But the problem is that it doesn’t have the ability to close the day’s writing and push the user to start the next day’s like 750words does.

There is one more option that’s available (non WordPress, i mean). It’s Morning Pages. I guess that’s free unlike 750words which lets you use it for 1 month for free and then charges a nominal amount each month ($5).

But if you ask me, there is no comparison between 750words and Morning Pages. 750words founders keep enhancing it with features and keep gathering feedback from the users. That’s simply amazing!

One of the best features of 750words is that you can use a tag for adding a special meaning (metadata) to a word.

For example, if I want to compare how I felt over last month on a scale of 1-10. All I need to do is write the following in my daily writing:

OVERALL-FEELING: 7 (or whatever I think it is each day)

At the end of the month (or at any given time), 750words will let you see how you did over the time period in a graphical manner. This is such a powerful thing.

Here’s what I used as the measures that I used, which I believe will help me over time :


Metadata you’ve entered (from 750words.com)



If You Can't Measure It, You Can't Improve It. - Peter Drucker. Click To Tweet

Drucker means that you can’t know whether or not you are successful unless success is defined and tracked.
 
Oh Gosh, this article was meant to be to introduce to you this plug-in as an alternative for 750words. But see, the more I wrote the more it became clear that I am still so much in love with 750words.
 
This page has just turned green (indicating that I have crossed 500 words. That gives me a little bit of comfort.
 
I will leave you on that note. What tools and plug-ins do you use to encourage you to meet your daily writing tools? Would look forward to hearing from you.

If you like this post, then show the love by sharing it with friends and family. The best part of writing a blog is the discussion that follows, so do register your thoughts and views below.