Treppin’ on Education
Education is a hotbed of entrepreneurship and innovation…said no one ever. Well, until recently. Over the past year, MOOCs have promised a revolution in how we learn; and yet they fail to deliver. As broad and intriguing as Coursera’s catalog is, as sleek and sexy as edX’s user interface looks, it seems these MOOC providers have only extended the capacity of colleges without reforming them. Furthermore, all efforts in this field have been fairly restricted to higher education, which is arguably our strongest educational institution. Where’s the love for primary and secondary school?
Our priorities seem to be inverted: we need stronger primary and secondary schools so more kids can get to college, and be better prepared when they get there — not stronger colleges for the kids who are probably gonna be alright.
The question is, what are the problems we can sustainably solve here? In higher education your market is simple: the people you’re selling to are the people using your product so the chicken and egg problem is minimized, and there’s a societal norm that college costs money, so charging for your services isn’t something that phases your customers — you just gotta get the price right. For primary and secondary school though, you wanna help parents, teachers, and students, but you’re gonna be hard-pressed to sell something to the kids, and if you’re trying to proliferate real institutional change then your customers will most likely be administrators, rather than your actual users. Administrators are notorious for being too far removed from the problem to give any real fucks, so if this is territory you want to tackle, you’ve got your work cut out for you.
Business in a Nutshell:
- get skillz
- find friendz with skillz
- combine your skillz and build cool shit
How I manage my todos, priorities and calendar
I find it a constant battle to keep my priorities straight. There’s always 100+ things pulling at my attention and if I’m not super-focused, I end up working on stuff that doesn’t matter.
My top three priorities are …
- Spending quality, focused time with my family and friends - Having good relationships is what makes me ultimately happy
- Leading Treehouse to success - I’m the Founder/CEO and I’m insanely passionate about our Mission
- Staying healthy physically and mentally - Now that I’ve gotten healthy, I’m much happier, so I want to continue to make this a priority.
Here’s my strategy
I divide Monday to Thursday (we work a 4-day week at Treehouse) into the four main areas of the business:
- Monday: Product - I spend time using Treehouse and sending bugs and ideas to the Product Team. I then research other products and competitors and use their products to get ideas. I also meet with the Product Team to check progress on our Road Map and discuss ideas and problems.
- Tuesday: Video & Teaching - I meet with the Leaders of the Video and Teaching Teams at Treehouse to discuss video output and any problems they’re having. I also spend time thinking about our Teaching methodology and how we can help our Members learn more effectively.
- Wednesday: HR, Culture and Finance - I meet with our Financial Controller to discuss our P&L, Balance Sheet and Cashflow. I then spend time thinking about things we can do to maintain our culture (the Zappos Culture Book is a great source of inspiration). I also check that HR tasks are being taken care of like on-boarding new staff, legal stuff, Level Ups, etc.
- Thursday: Marketing & Sales - I meet with our VP Sales and Marketing/Ad Manager and see how they’re doing. Sales: We discuss growing the Sales Team, how to tackle objections from potential customers and who we could sell to next. Marketing: We go over CPAs, conversion rates, AB tests, landing pages, SEO and more.
I use Asana for managing all my personal and work todo lists. It’s free and easy to use, so I’d highly recommend it. It’s run by a solid team, has loads of cash in the bank ($9m+ in funding) and is constantly being updated - so I feel safe putting ‘my life’ inside it.
Here’s my daily routine …
- Wake up at 4:54am
- Have a small snack to start my metabolism
- Jump in front of my iMac and get rocking …
- Open up Asana and go to ‘My Tasks’. This has everything that I’ve assigned to myself divided into …
- Inbox - To be filed
- Today - Things I’ve marked to be done today
- Upcoming - Everything I want do next
- Later - A bucket for stuff to do eventually but isn’t urgent
- Sort by ‘Date’ to see if there’s anything urgent I need to put on the Today list
- Categorize anything in ‘Inbox’ as Today, Upcoming or Later
- Go through ‘Upcoming’ and put things on the Today list that need to be done
- Check Google Calendar and look what today’s focus is for the business (see above). I then add items to the Today list accordingly
- Add any meetings (including going to the gym) to the Today list and tag them as ‘Meeting’. The reason why I do this is because they take valuable time up and when I finish a meeting, I want to be able to check something off my list to give me the mental satisfaction of completing something. This is especially important as you hire more people and your job becomes mainly meeting/talking with people.
- Go through our Treehouse ‘Road Map’ project in Asana and make sure the Team is actively working on the top priority items
- Prioritize my Today list by putting the most important things at the top
- Knock out 1-3 things on my Today list
- Check email (notice how this is the 13th thing I do, not the first)
- Add things to my todo list based on email and try to clear important or urgent email
- 6:50am - Kids wake up so I head upstairs with a cup of coffee for Gill and I to enjoy in bed while the kids run around for 40 minutes
- 7:30am - 9:00am - Breakfast, showers and preparing the kids for their day
- 9:00am - 10:15am - Cranking through my todo list or doing meetings
- 10:15am - 11:45am (Mon, Tues, Thur) - Cycling to/from gym and doing workout
- 11:45am - 6:00pm - Cranking through my todo list and doing meetings
- 6:00pm - Leave my iMac and help put the kids down (or cook dinner)
- 7:15pm - Dinner with Gill
- 8:00pm - 9:30pm - Hang out with Gill (talk, watch TV, do family logistics, read, call family and friends, etc)
- 9:30pm - Go to sleepI work at home so I’m fortunate to not have any commute time.
Friday - Sunday we don’t have a set schedule. It’s just time to spend time with the family and friends and do house maintenance. I try hard not to carry my iPhone around so I don’t get sucked in to work.
So there you have it. I’d love to hear how you guys manage your todo lists, priorities and schedules.
This is brilliant — GTD simplified. Just the inspiration I needed to do a bit of reorganizin’ m’self
So once 3D printers go through the same phases as computers and end up being appliances found in most households, the piracy problems we’ve been experiencing with digital media are gonna repeat themselves as people with 3D printers torrent blueprints for PS3s and guitars and all kinds of physical goods.
I’ma print me some swag, maybe a hat.
Thinking about starting a food blog
Writing off meals out as business expenses, writing full reviews for each one; I could start by hitting every spot in IV and then moving to Santa Barbara.
Any thoughts on food blogs, tax laws, incorporating as a freelancer/small business?