Welcome to the fully redesigned Vladville. As you can tell all the pieces that I’ve been integrating into this site have slowly come together. This post is to announce what I’ve done and to explain some of the ambiguous posts over the past month or so.
Hey, check this out…
I originally started Vladville because I could not handle the volume of mail our partner mailing list generated. I had roughly 4,000 businesses on a distribution list where I’d post daily tips about deals, security, opportunities, etc. This is where the law of large numbers kicks in: no matter how irrelevant of a tip you give there are usually enough bored people that will find it useful and try to research it through you. So yes, a $850 Dell 1800 deal might strike an eye but because we know each other and it’s email let’s start a chat – “Thanks for the link Vlad, by the way, does this come with rack rails”
I looked at other blogs and saw them as a great solution to make it inconvenient for people to waste my time. It worked! Even better, it drew even more people into the business and gave me a creative outlet that I did not have before. It’s easy to create a braindump online or throw advice at unsuspecting strangers like a monkey at a zoo when you know you will not become the support staff behind that post for all eternity. Try that with a channel partner and you’ve not only created a dependant addict but also a lawsuit when you tell them to figure it out on their own.
Then something interesting happened. When you have a large enough audience that is not in a particular pigeon hole you start to hear things that you may not hear on the street or a phone call. People blow up their servers. People blow up their workstations. Why? Because they didn’t follow the documentation. So as a joke I figured that if people were illiterate I can perhaps serve it to them over radio. That’s where SBS Show came from.
So you read the documentation, you follow community sites, you listen to the SBS Show and you learn more and more about these people. They become your friends. Naturally, you want to see who you are dealing with. Sometimes that image is pleasant and causes people to call you and ask for the girls cell phone number. Sometimes the image is of Die Fuhrer and people wonder where she hides the pitchfork and horns. But by providing the audio and video to complete the picture you realize that we’re all people, all interested in pretty much the same thing and that inspires communication, drops reservations and preconceived notions we have on one another. Email is the worst way to convey a message, not to mention mood, attitude or character.
So about eight months ago or so I officially sold out to Google and put up Adwords on Vladville. I figured with all the traffic I could at least break even on the SBS Show traffic. I did. More than broke even. I believe I even bragged about making more money off the blog than the Jr. Crackwhore working at McDonalds.
Unfortunately, McDonalds was exactly the place I would end up at if I allowed Adwords to stay. You see, every time I posted about Exchange all the ads would target my competitors. I was literally sending people out of my wallet every time I said something useful. When I didn’t I would get all sorts of things that I either did not believe in or I found outright offensive.
That’s the problem with selling out you see. When you sell out you no longer control the message, you are forced into a spot where you might have to promote things you do not believe in. No thanks, I like to sleep at night.
Back to Basics..
So everything went really well on this blog until TechEd wrapped up. Someone left a relatively innocent comment that really rubbed me the wrong way. In short, they likened me to Paris Hilton of the IT scene because I seemed to be everywhere, know everyone and have pics, video, sound and everything short of the smell of the place.
Now I didn’t fail at an extended list of careers to end up in IT. This seems to make me more of an exception in this business these days. I’ve actually done this since about age 7. I went to school for this, went to college, worked and started a company based on IT services. As bad as it sounds, that’s really all there is to me when it comes to a profession. To be compared to some brain dead monkey that knew nothing about infrastructure or development that just hopped around conferences collecting business cards really hit close to home. Many (many, many, many) fights with Susan Bradley over just what we were doing and what we were encouraging or reinforcing by catering to the lowest common denominator brought up this post and I don’t think I’ve ever, prior to that moment, felt worse about what I had allowed myself to do.
So I changed my mind. I decided to look at all the positive things Vladville does and eliminate all the negatives. I pushed forward to open up Shockey Monkey to external parties for development input. I decided, against lawyers advice, to put the name of our business in the SBS Show. I decided to step in front of a camera and say who I am, what I do and then show people I respect in their own element. I firmly believe you can learn something from everyone you meet. I don’t mean that in a tree-hugging way because some people are complete fucking morons so from those you can learn what not to say and what not to do. You can follow the advice and suggestions from people that are at the top of their game.
Chris and Susanne really encouraged me in all the stuff I was working on while at Boston. I think I slept maybe 6 hours total in the span of a week but I came back with a lot of approval and encouragement that has allowed me to really crunch through a lot of stuff internally and externally. As Eric Ligman told me, sleep is overrated. I took that to heart. I don’t have to tell you what my sleep pattern has been lately but you can see by the times my posts appear on the blog.
So what was the deal with the suicide note? Well, the epiphany that I got from Susanne specifically is that whatever we do, we have a choice. If things don’t work you change them, if things are working you work harder at them. I really do not want to be Paris Hilton. Last years SBS conference in Redmond gave me pages and pages and pages of insight into what makes a successful IT practice and we’ve been implementing it ever since. I firmly believe you lead by example so I’ve put in some long days and months since last September. I am happy to say we’re almost there. How much effort you put into something usually directly dictates how much you are going to get out of things. I did not want to be the Jack of many trades, master of none. I did not want to be a billboard for half-assing things by letting projects I was temporarily not interested in fall by the wayside. After all, if it was so important to start them and get most the leg work done, what kind of a moron would drop them when they were finally showing some promise?
So this blog is about me. It is about what I do. It is about people I look up to and who encourage me to be better at what I do. Most of all, it is an encouragement to get you to think for yourself instead of blindly following what others tell you. I’ve done that fairly well over the last year as I’ve posted 549 messages (this is 550) but 2,418 people chose to talk back. Over 48,000 people choose to come back to Vladville every day to see what I’m up to. Thousands of people have tuned into Vladfire to see what SMB IT is all about. Millions of people have listened to the SBS Show. All the work I put in at Own Web Now and all the stuff I pour into Vladville is making a difference, is starting conversations, raising profiles of people in the community and it’s making people think.
Now that I’ve got your attention I hope to do something with it. Over the next year there will be more media here. I’ll open up a few more doors into my business and into the SMB IT community. I’ll give you something more to think about here in terms of both technology and business. Over the last year we’ve done a lot of hard work to make OWN capable of doing more and make it a lot more fun. I hope that shows in the posts and I hope what I want to talk about in the future inspires you (or upsets you) enough to look at things in a different way.