Retrospective / March 2, 2021: Platform Next

Posted 2 months ago Posted 2 months ago

Platform

This last week I performed a massive edit to the Platform, having a single page for the entire business. Having a single page makes it exceedingly easy to run a business. However, right now, I have two interfaces I am using. The first is the Jupyter Flywheel, and the second is the Platform. Having both long-term doesn't seem like a good idea as I am duplicating functionality. 

Since the Platform is heavily biased towards software development, a few things will occur. 

  1. Reintroduce GitHub to the interface. All GitHub tasks should be a part of the interface.
  2. Move the Sales stuff into Jupyter voila webapps but embed within the Platform. 
  3. Have a cash section as part of the single page that's updated through an API.
So what will be kept in Jupyter? The primary thing to keep in Jupyter is the Flywheel and the 7 Powers. Everything should move into the Platform.

Lastly, I've re-migrated to multiple domains. The subdomain route was not what I wanted. It was ugly and subsumed a business under a single identity. In effect, I want to have a ton of different brands, each fulfilling a small task well as opposed to a single entity.

Trading


In terms of trading, I am cutting out day trading since building my own business is a better use of my time. I may continue playing with day trading every so often for fun, but it doesn't fulfill my long-term goal. Day trading is maximizing the day's returns not based on anything other than random whims. I want to be a long-term owner of something rather than being pulled in all directions by the whims of Mr. Market. If I do day trading, it will be around automation as opposed to sitting there looking at a chart for hours.

The primary focus of all my energy then is growing opsZero as that seems the best way to create long-term value. I want to continue learning more about investing and but I won't continue day trading actively. It will be valuable to understand fundamental and technical analysis, even if to know how to time entry and exit from markets. 

But overall, things are getting faster and faster, and simpler and simpler to accomplish. The next steps are to have clear week-by-week goals to grow each part of the business.

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Retrospective / Feb 22, 2021: Descoping

Posted 2 months ago Posted 2 months ago
I am descoping opsZero to its essence. I am no longer pursuing a marketplace model as I don't necessarily have the resources or marketing experience needed to follow that model. opsZero's will be an IT service provider using gig workers. It is less a public marketplace and more of an Uber model connecting people who need services with those who can provide them while ensuring the work is done with high quality. This model simplifies our delivery and will help focus the energy.

  • I no longer am concerned about selling the Platform. The Platform will cater to opsZero's needs.
  • Crowdsourcing will be built into the Platform as opposed to being separate.
This model makes the result a lot easier to achieve because we can configure the Platform for our exact use case.

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Retrospective / Feb 15, 2021: A Company is an Essay

Posted 3 months ago Posted 3 months ago
In 2019 I built a lot of stuff, a rough draft. 2020 I had to whittle down what I produced, taking the red pen and cutting everything that didn't address the thesis. I took a second to figure out what my thesis! This year, I deleted the monologues and removed the unnecessary paragraphs that just don't fit. The thesis is starting to shine. The remaining paragraphs strengthen my argument while getting filled out.

A company is an essay. Each part builds on the last, articulating precisely the value it is delivering and removing anything that doesn't strengthen or add to its argument. But a company is a living essay. It evolves with time, updated with new facts while proving its thesis. If the thesis changes, the company needs to change.

opsZero has a thesis. Each part has a precise definition, with anything unneeded is being removed.

What went well the last week?

  1. Deprecated Postswarm, Gitlead as they are not something I care about pursuing.
  2. Deprecated Notion and moving everything into Github.
  3. Setup a single Jupyter notebook to run every aspect of opsZero, making it easier to accomplish tasks.

What needs improvement?

  1. Remove the rest of Notion.
  2. Start modularizing the Flywheel into Python. 

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Retrospective / Feb 9, 2021: The Single Doc

Posted 3 months ago Posted 3 months ago
The heart of any company needs to be routine and straightforward, a model that can scale. I've built various tools, including the opsZero Platform and YieldPayroll, and use tools like Close, GitHub, and Airtable. However, each of these is a layer abstracting complexity. There needs to be a single place to run the factory.

A single document! In Bezonomics, the author talks about the 6-page narrative that Amazon uses. The narrative is updated as the product developed, ensuring the result is the wanted outcome. I want to do the same for opsZero. The single doc tracks three things:

  • The Flywheel
  • The 7 Powers
  • The Value Stream
The flywheel defines the loop and the metrics attached to them. The 7 Powers looks to see if we are increasing our market power based on our activities. The Value Stream is how we deliver our value.

So the flywheel and seven powers are in effect calculations and goals to aim. The value stream is marketing, sales, value creation, value delivery, and finance tasks, the set of manual tasks moving things forward. As we progress in our flywheel, more and more of these tasks will be automated and abstracted.

The doc's goal is to act as the single source of truth in how all aspects of the business behave, attempting to do the tasks faster and faster. It provides the blueprint for how it all works together while also working as the single place to get the work accomplished.

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Retrospective / Feb 1, 2021: The 7 Powers

Posted 3 months ago Posted 3 months ago

Ah, Feb. Where does the time go? Jan has been an overwhelming month with lots of problematic and inspiring things happening in the world. Capitol riots, GME, etc. Last week was suboptimal in terms of progress as I was consistently distracted. However, I have consolidated so many things there is nothing but forward momentum and optimizing for the 7 Powers.

The consolidation of everything under opsZero was a move that needed to happen ages ago as it simplifies and amplifies. There is a goal as opposed to trashing around in a mosh pit. One of the difficulties of not having a partner: it is hard to figure out what not to do! 

As opsZero consolidated, this retrospective will cover changes from the point of view of the 7 Powers. The Value Stream of opsZero currently looks like this:

opsZero Value Stream

It looks complicated, but each part is hyperspecific. Each piece is delegated to third parties to avoid writing a lot of code that doesn't need writing. Close, Pandadoc, Harvest, Slack, Notion, Github, Airtable, Upwork are third-party tools and services I use. The custom code I write builds off these tools and makes them more efficient for our goal. Lastly, finance is four pieces: bank, index funds, brokerage, and crypto. Again, this simplicity puts more wood behind a single arrow.

Scale Economics

opsZero's mission is to Democratize the Cloud. opsZero will achieve scale economics by providing a single place to find Cloud expertise for any industry.

Platform (www): Create a trustworthy directory where people can find expertise for different Cloud needs, including Cloud, Blockchain, AI, Serverless, etc. Also go horizontal in terms of expertise by implementing Cloud expertise for Sales, etc.
Gitlead: Use Gitlead to find engineers and teams that can sell on the Platform.

Network Effect

By providing a single place to find Cloud expertise, network effect is created. A single place for customers to find Cloud work, and a single place to sell Cloud services for freelancers.

Platform (Launch): Help freelancers onboard onto the Platform and provide an easy way to sell services.
MakeProspect: Quickly find companies who need Cloud help and do outreach.
Close: The Close CRM needs to be organized and simplified for outreach. Follow-up needs to happen promptly, and we need to systematically close deals.
Pandadoc: We need a document per service. A client proposal for different services, a freelancer proposal, a client contract, a freelancer contract. We should focus on making these attractive and continuously updated with changes.

Counter Positioning

Our counter positioning is in contrast to Upwork and Gumroad. Our focus is entirely on Cloud expertise. By focusing on this niche, we will create a blue ocean as we expand the Cloud services market while not directly competing with Upwork or Gumroad. 

opsZero (www): Focus entirely on being an Upwork + Gumroad for Cloud work. Nothing else. Our focus is connecting Customers who need Cloud expertise with those who can sell that Cloud expertise.

Switching Cost

Currently, opsZero doesn't have great power in switching costs. Our customers can turn to others quickly. However, as opsZero adds more freelancers, that risk will reduce.
Close: Maximize our relationships with our customers and freelancers by being high-touch.
Notion: Reduce the cost of delivery with templates and teach others how to do the same.
YieldPayroll: Make it easy for freelancers to get paid so they choose to use opsZero for providing their services.

Branding

Our branding is getting better but still not great. Having everything on one domain should expand our brand presence. The goal is to associate opsZero with Cloud expertise.

opsZero (www): Develop blogs and other content on the site to increase SEO.
Postswarm: Quickly promote content created on various forums, ads, etc. 

Cornered Resource

opsZero's cornered resource needs to be Cloud expertise. All exceptional Cloud engineers need to be on the Platform.

Gitlead: Maximize our ability to reach out to potential freelancers and see if they want to sell on our Platform.
MakeProspect: Maximize our ability to reach potential customers by selling Cloud expertise.

Process

opsZero has a stable process for improvement. However, the more we simplify, the better our ability to scale. The Value Stream is the process. Each part needs to be durable and reliable.

Platform (Stories/Impediments/Routines): Every part of the value stream needs KPIs to make effective decisions and resolve impediments.

Our weekly focus will be improving a single power a week. I do think my update last week of setting up the routine for my day is useful, and I will continue to attempt to get better and better at that.

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Retrospective / Jan 26, 2021

Posted 3 months ago Posted 3 months ago
This last week I have migrated opsZero to be simple. We are transforming to narrow down even further into an Upwork for DevOps. The final transformation of the company, hopefully. The objective is clear.

I have worked on routines every day, but I need to change some behaviors. This week's goal is to get a solid 4 hours of work accomplished a day while reaching ten companies a day.

I will attempt this:
  1. 8am-12 pm. DevOps and Investing
  2. 2:30pm-5pm. Sales
By focusing on client tasks as the first thing, I can improve reliability. I can also look at investing while taking breaks as it doesn't require my full attention. Second, by focusing on sales at a designated time, I can grow the business. The KPIs for each is simple as the improvement of one leads to the growth of the other.

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Reliability

Posted 4 months ago Posted 4 months ago
Reliability is a matter of quality. Quality is a matter of doing fewer things well. I've struggled with reliability as an individual paradoxically as I implement systems for my customers that need to be reliable. I have been wondering where this lack of reliability comes from, and I decided it is three things:

  1. Doing too many things
  2. Doing too many unrelated things
  3. Context switching
Over the last couple of years, I have been doing too many things. While great as a way to enlighten myself, this additional learning only covers the surface of what any task entails. The glacier is mostly below the surface. Like a glacier, a lot of the functions that any role has are below the surface. 

I excel at coding. I have seen below the surface and have gone pretty far to the underbelly of the glacier. By doing things outside of coding, I burn out, chase stuff I have little expertise in and which are in my economic interest to outsource. Doing the things I am not qualified to do, I spread myself thin and set myself for failure leading to unreliability.

The final nail in the coffin for reliability is context switching. Most of us will ever be good at doing one thing well. We are not Elon Musk. But doing too many things and doing too many unrelated things leads to context switching. Context switching is a form of waste.

I am the character Siddhartha in the book by Herman Hesse. He left his father, who ferried people across the river, to find a life of excitement, only to come back and to realize fulfillment is in focus on quality and reliability. 

What does this mean for me? My goal in 2021 is to become reliable. I will no longer focus on too many projects. I am a backend and DevOps engineer. That is where I will spend my time working on expanding and making better in the world. I will focus completely on that and not take on any commitments that don't fall within that scope.

At a personal level, I enjoy Drawing & Painting, Cooking, Writing, Jiujitsu, and Poker. I want to dive into each one, figuring out how to get better at each. 

Sales, Backend and DevOps Coding, and Investing are what I want to do at a professional level. I will stop doing or not put much energy into activities outside of these. I will focus on these three things because I enjoy these three things and because it removes context switching. Working on something should push the whole forward, not pieces.

I had broken up things too discreetly. In microservices, there is a cost of communication between services. There is hopefully minimal communication bottlenecks in a monolith. But if your monolith is doing too much, it can still break. A monolith should do few things well. 

Hopefully, by reducing the scope of the tasks I choose to pursue and increasing depth, I will improve reliability.

So to sum:

  1. Focus opsZero and have all business stuff be around Backend Engineering and DevOps.
  2. Focus on the few things I excel at.
  3. Be willing to say no to projects that don't fit 1 and 2.
  4. Build a routine and stick to it consistently.
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Retrospective / Jan 18, 2021

Posted 4 months ago Posted 4 months ago
opsZero is becoming a microservices, productized services, and microSaaS marketplace. Most companies don't want to run a ton of microservices. They want to get the job they are doing and build off existing services as much as possible—the API economy at work. 

However, many of the services launched may be highly specific, providing value to a particular group. For example, YieldPayroll is a product made specifically for users of Harvest Time Tracker. These hyperspecific products will likely only accelerate as companies try to do more with their products. We need to accelerate the adoption and creation of these microservices.

This last week to make building microservices easier, I moved everything under opsZero.com, a single place to find all the things I've built. I started promoting some of the things I've made. The routines are defined. Lastly, the opsZero Platform, for the most part, is feature complete.

Untitled-2020-12-24-1540-69.png 26.2 KB

The goal for this next week is sales. The only way to ensure growth is to bring in revenue, which will be the primary focus. To do this, I am building a tool on top of MakeProspect + Close CRM to do outreach via code. Jupyter Notebooks are excellent!


Screen Shot 2021-01-18 at 10.47.51 AM.png 64.3 KB

At this point, there is nothing new to build. It is time to sell and continuously update to increase the quality of the app.

xyz.opsZero.com

Posted 4 months ago Posted 4 months ago
Every year I pull my hair because I realize I’m diffusing my energy among too many things. There is a common thread in that all of the ideas are code. But then I try to build separate domains, etc., which causes pain.

opsZero Launchpad has allowed me to launch stuff quickly, but I’m diffusing my energy in promoting things by having them on different sites. After all, I am just one guy. Having multiple domains and trying to promote each uses a lot of energy and time.

Upwork and Fiverr do well because they provide a single place to buy and sell services, GitHub provides a place to find code, and opsZero offers a place to buy and sell microservices. Everything will now live on opsZero.com, and the focus is driving up the SEO of this one domain.

The simplicity will focus and accelerate marketing. There will only be one metric to track for marketing how well the opszero.com domain is doing. As I get older time is becoming essential. I have to ship! However, to ship, I need to focus and stop spending time on things I have no use.

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Go-to-market

Posted 4 months ago Posted 4 months ago
The go-to-market strategy focuses 100% on selling opsZero. The primary mechanism for doing so is through inside sales. As opsZero grows and we talk to other companies, we will pitch MakeProspect, crowd.sh, and YieldPayroll. Lastly, Primordial will be the R&D portion of opsZero focused on trading bots, investing, and other misc activities.

The content on opsZero will be on Kubernetes, Serverless, and Business. MakeProspect, crowd.sh, and YieldPayroll will cover running a gig economy business and going into our setup. By publishing in public, we will be creating a public record of our infrastructure, which others can reuse. That is it. Not complicated. All roads lead to opsZero. Each tool helps deliver opsZero's value faster.

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Retrospective / Jan 11, 2021

Posted 4 months ago Posted 4 months ago
Milestones

I will perform a public retrospective weekly. The problem with building a business by yourself is that you get into a cycle where your brain no longer thinks and regurgitates thoughts. These thoughts aren't critical thinking, but the shortcuts the brain thinks are useful. By writing publically and thinking about the problems critically, there is more value in deep diving and explaining what you are doing. Each week will be a specific milestone that I intend to update.

This last week the goal was to have every opsZero project be sellable. Though I got sick, I finished! opsZero, Primordial, YieldPayroll, MakeProspect, crowd.sh are all available for sale. Some of them don't have much, but the goal was to create milestones. Further, each of the projects of opsZero relates in the following way. Each piece fuels the other.


The opsZero companies and their mission.

The OKR objective for this quarter is simplicity, speed, and quality. Having everything sellable and starting to promote it makes it easier to start focusing on this goal. I have already discovered some ways to simplify crowd.sh as I had an order I was fulfilling for it.

This week will set up the routines and commence content promotion. Routines are a way to ensure that tasks are done and, as a secondary, to ensure those tasks create value. By writing down and creating a procedure for every job that I do, I will have a foundation. For each foundation's piece, I will attempt to remove impediments that prevent me from delivering the value better. Second, by starting to promote the things I've built, I can improve SEO and hopefully gain new customers if the content is valuable.

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The opsZero Value Stream

Posted 4 months ago Posted 4 months ago
I’ve been ill for the last few days and away from the computer. Fortunately, it has given my brain time to wander and figure out where I am going. What does it all mean? What am I building? Where am I going? How does it relate? I figured it out!

My mission is to accelerate the API and AI-gig economy.

The opsZero Value Stream


The end goal is nothing more than what has been happening in big silos like the stock market, big tech, etc. I want to democratize that and allow anyone to participate. I want anyone to become an Amazon, Koch Industries, Tiny Capital, etc.

To accomplish the mission requires a combination of machine+human intelligence applied to different problems. We won’t get anywhere by just focusing on machines, nor just humans. Both must be part of the equation to solve the most challenging problems facing the world.

The products and services I have built thus far are in support of that. And once I figured out the Value Stream of where each fits, it makes sense. Each service has been launched thanks to Launchpad. Each is a web equivalent of a Unix tool. The goal is to feed one service into the other, continually optimizing the stream.

The primary goal and what will be the condition of success condition is if I can run these without any full-time employees. The goal is to maximize freelancers and keep each tool we launch hyper-specific enough to accomplish this. All the products are built. It is now time to optimize.

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Platform, Kubernetes, Serverless

Posted 7 months ago Posted 7 months ago
Think about a vending machine that creates a request for a person to refill it when it is running low on supplies. Or consider a vending machine can call an API that can automatically negotiate the best price for the supplies among multiple vendors and have it create an order and then inform the human to come to refill it once the order arrives. The latter is the world I want to see, where the interchange between human and machine blurs and we create a completely new economy: The Fourth Industrial Revolution!

My ultimate goal with opsZero is to push us faster towards this Fourth Industrial Revolution. To do this opsZero will be a vertically integrated platform that provides services for Kubernetes and Serverless while at the same time building a Platform that helps entrepreneurs launch Machine to Machine and Machine to Human businesses. The benefit of focusing on these three things is that it is where the world is moving.

The global economy is reconfiguring from a primarily full-time worker based to a Gig and API-based economy especially as people work from home and use the Cloud for more and more tasks. There are two benefits to gigification. The first is that businesses can do more with fewer workers. The second is that companies can be started quickly by using this relatively cheap Cloud infrastructure.

The second major movement that technology is going through is the migration to microservices. The benefit of migrating to microservices is that a microservice itself can also be a company. A microservice provides a service after al albeit a very specific one, we will see more and more of these API first companies out in the world. We started seeing them recently with Stripe and Twilio, but these are just the surface and they will expand.

This leads to what are we trying to capture in terms of market share. As stated before our goal is to completely focus on Kubernetes and Serverless as the primary technologies that we think are the future and really expand our ability to deliver these services quickly and efficiently. Kubernetes and Serverless are the two pillars we see computation and businesses moving to and it is what we will be completely focused on which is how to deploy Code as fast as possible and launch new APIs. 

Business needs to be simple to scale and we think the following three things are the most important things we can provide:
  • Migrate customers to Kubernetes quickly
  • Build new Serverless code using crowdsourcing quickly
  • Build a Platform to launch and sell API-first businesses quickly
Our platform will focus on these types of businesses:
  • Development Agencies
  • API
  • Content
  • Data
  • Directory
  • SaaS
Whereas platforms like Webflow, WordPress, Squarespace, etc. are primarily focusing on the human to human businesses we are not going after that market. The consumer of our services are not the people requesting the services, the consumer of our services is the software that people use. For the Fourth Industrial Revolution to be successful software needs to talk to each other in a smarter way than it currently is. In that regard, our Platform is made for machines to use as much as humans.

Vision 2025

Posted 10 months ago Posted 10 months ago
With everything happening in the world at this particular moment: the pandemic, the political unrest, mass unemployment, etc. to know what to expect in 5 years would be a fool’s errand. We may all be dead, America could be a failed state, China may become the sole superpower. Or it can be a great boon for a “New Deal” policy, a resurgence of the political left, and a new wave pushing to fight socio-economic and racial inequality.

I have extraordinary optimism for the future and choose to think the latter is the more likely output. Creation can happen from the messiness of destruction. Life, after all, couldn’t exist on earth with that many stages of destruction and turmoil caused by the Big Bang. My goal is to build the future to create a world that is better tomorrow than it is today. 

The fight against Climate Change and the permeation of technology into all parts of life as 5G and Edge Computing roll out will be the two significant changes that will happen in the next five years. In that regard, I wanted to write some clear specific goals as to where I want opsZero to be in 2025 and where we will spend the entirety of our time and energy.

There are potentially hundreds of different ideas we can try because they are too small for the big players but can still generate an immense amount of revenue and value. However, we do not have the time to do this. We cannot try every idea as there just isn’t enough time. However, we don’t need to do every idea. Our goal in the next five years is to bring Operational Excellence to everyone. We help others be more effective by bringing their ideas to market faster.

In essence, we have two plays:
  • Help launch Climate Change businesses and make climate entrepreneurs more successful
  • Help bring Operational Excellence to those businesses
Hopefully, this focus on a few things will allow us to say no to things.

Help Launch Businesses to Solve Climate Change

Climate change is going to be a significant issue that governments will be spending money on to restart the economy post-pandemic. It is the only way to create an economic boost and bring a lot of people back to work. While the economic turmoil as I am writing this is awful, this government investment is a silver lining. Because of the pandemic, many people are moving rural. These people will push local governments to be more active in building out and promoting green infrastructure. And because of this migration, there may be a lot of companies that will start whose objective is to help address the Climate Crisis.

A lot of climate change mitigation involves putting together software and a business model to deploy new ideas quickly. We need to be able to help launch new ideas and try them out in days, not weeks, not months. Days! Helping start new Climate Change businesses is the number one priority for opsZero. We need to help launch and bring Operational Excellence to Climate Change companies. If we don’t address Climate Change, there may not be humans and a market to matter.

Key Results:
  • Help launch 1000 startups working in the climate change space, locally and internationally.
  • Partner with 20-30 different institutes to bring ideas to market quickly.

Operational Excellence via Code, Cloud, and Data

Secondly, the Cloud, 5G, Edge Computing, and NoCode solutions are going to transform the world. Companies will need help transitioning to this world, and we will help companies use these technologies to attain Operation Excellence. By creating Operational Excellence, we can mitigate a lot of waste that happens at companies. By focusing our energy on helping Climate Change companies, we can help them fight against legacy polluting industries.

We must work on all the business logic layers that make the business more efficient if that solution involves the Cloud, Code, or Data. However, we will not work on design, UX, or other things that include frontend technologies. We will either use third party tools or providers for those.

Key Results:
  • Setup a Crowd of 5,000 people who we can send work to and get tasks done within a day or two for most projects.
  • $5 million in revenue a year.