Category: The Heartographer

Name Your Thing!

Name Your Thing!

I spoke at AltConference 2017 about how to name things.

Last year when I spoke at AltConf 2016, things went really well… and I was invited to speak again in 2017 on the spot! (And I accepted on the spot, haha.) I actually started brainstorming this talk right then and there, so I had an entire year to ruminate on what I wanted to cover.

However, life takes its turns, and I was about 8 months pregnant on this trip–needless to say, my life has been a lot busier prepping for a new baby in the family! I spent a lot of time thinking about this talk in my head, but not nearly as much time actually prepping, writing, rehearsing, polishing my slide deck, etc. I was also sweating profusely and having trouble breathing, thanks to the little guy taking up space for all my vital organs and wreaking havoc on my physiology, haha.

All in all though, I still feel pretty good about how it went–the content being more pragmatic and technical actually lessened the impact of my relative lack of preparation, since the content was actionable despite not packing the same emotional punch (by design). At least that’s what I’m telling myself, based on the fact that many people stopped me in the hallways or reached out on Twitter and mentioned that they found my talk helpful!

Lastly, I want to thank and shine a spotlight on Nancy Friedman, and her blog Fritinancy. She’s an enormously helpful, friendly, and accessible resource, whom I would absolutely hire to name something if I were in that position again. (Yes, despite all my great advice, I think the best advice I can give is that it’s worth paying for qualified expertise in this domain, because there’s SO much you can get wrong!)

Thanks a ton for watching, and please share with anyone you know who is working on a project that they’re struggling to name. And now, on to the naming resources I mentioned in my talk!

Name Your Thing Resources:

My blog post on domain hacks

    • – tl;dr; don’t use them

United States Patent and Trademark Office

    • – check your name ideas here if you’re based in the USA


    • – Nancy Friedman’s wonderful naming blog. Look up her naming brief exercises in particular!

Every Frame a Painting – The Marvel Symphonic Orchestra

    • – video about how easy it is to ship movies with temp/default music instead of something more original. Temp music discussion starts around 6:00, but I recommend you watch the whole thing!

Name Your Thing template (Google Spreadsheet)

    – please save yourself a copy

And here is the URL slide choosing hierarchy I promised to include:

    1. Your name dot com
    1. wording compromise (getsquare, etc.)
    1. Hyphens or .net etc.
    1. Funky Tlds (.party, .io, .fm)
    1. domain hacks (don’t ever do these)


Image directly from OmniGroup, with permission. <3When I first started listening to Back to Work, I had never heard of OmniFocus or Getting Things Done with David Allen. But since hearing Merlin extoll this system’s virtues, I got on board and eventually got the book (print AND Kindle), and eventually even wound up buying a Mac and shelling out for both OmniFocus for Mac and OmniFocus for iPhone. I’d literally never spent that much on any given product before.

And now, I feel like I’m finally starting to get it! I still haven’t even finished reading Getting Things Done (for shame; I know) but I’ve started implementing more and more of my obligations and commitments into OmniFocus. And you know what my real epiphany is? The “Waiting” category. As you knowI’m a big fan of email. But given that other people aren’t always great with email, I’ve taken to sticking my outgoing emails (and even phone calls) into the Waiting context after I reach out to someone. Now, if other people drop the ball, I have a much better record of who I need to re-nag. This is excellent for clients who pay me to bug them about their online dating goals.

I can’t tell if this is how the Waiting context is supposed to be used or not, but it’s been a HUGE help for my business. Not only does it track which outgoing contacts I need to follow up on, but it helps me learn which clients are email averse, so I can adjust my communication style and method to better reach them and ultimately to help them find love more effectively. After all, if receiving a bunch of emails from me is annoying, then that isn’t how I want to reach you! (But, ya know, go sign up for my newsletter anyway.)

I’ve also learned how to apply radii to specific errands, which ROCKS. Now I have blips go off whenever I leave my little Ballard bubble and venture east of the freeway—one reminds me to pick up swanky cocktail ingredients at Wine World, because I am a lush who works from home and drinks sidecars when she damn well pleases; and others remind me to buy certain items whenever I geolocate near certain stores. Organic bagged lemons at Whole Foods, where they’re a fraction of the price. Cat food at the vet that carries our special prescription. Epsom salts at the drugstore since I use them constantly for my tennis elbow. I even have a reminder to think about whether there’s anything I want fixed, purchased, or demoed (demo’d? Demod?) when I’m near an Apple Store.

The yellow kind, people. Trust me.

Merlin mentioning this geo-functionality in relation to toilet paper in a very early episode of Back to Work is actually what got me interested in OmniFocus in the first place. What can I say? Icky though it may be to talk about, he’s right: you think about buying more toilet paper when you’re on the can and you run out, not when you’re out in the world near a Target or Fred Meyer (because those are the two places that carry Charmin Basic, the stuff that is nice on your derrière but doesn’t screw up our 1940s sewer system.) Not anymore, friends! Now I think about toilet paper whenever I drive near an appropriate vendor. Look, I never promised not to overshare here. If you’re a geek like me, you know that despite being an uncomfortable discussion, this is a friggin’ EPIPHANY.

Frankly, I couldn’t have figured all this out if the OmniGroup didn’t have such fantastic phone support. But they do! You can just call them! And they answer! And they’re super nice and patient! And funny on Twitter! So quit waiting. Go get yourself set up with this software suite ASAP if you’ve been holding out like a dummy. Heck, I’ll probably be confident enough to help you learn how to use it!

Shameless affiliate links, in case you didn’t already click to kick me a few bucks, you Scrooge:

OmniFocus for Mac
OmniFocus for iPad
OmniFocus for iPhone
Getting Things Done by David Allen

The Internet ROCKS.

The Internet ROCKS.

I swear, I don’t know what I’d do if we’d never come up with this whole interconnected awesomeness thing.

I re-launched my business earlier this year, which involved picking a new business name. It was incredibly hard to come up with a name I liked that was also what my business needed, and I was so much better at it when I had help from lots of Twitter and ADN friends. People were so generous and pragmatic and willing to share their expertise. Plus, I found a couple great blogs with loads of helpful naming advice. I wasn’t able to shell out for those experts like I hoped to, but they were still incredibly supportive of me, and I know I’d go to them if I had to name a more grown-up company with a proper budget in the future. I learned so much about this entire naming field that I didn’t even know existed when I named my thing this time around. Which is clear, because that name and URL sucked, and they’re much better now. :)

IMG_3978Since the big rename and relaunch, I’ve predictably had many woes getting the technical details of my new website together, not to mention the graphical stuff that just totally loses me. My husband Grant has been my biggest helper in the graphics department, but the amazing Berklee has been a close second. He’s been ever so generous with his time and energy, throwing business card ideas and mockups at me faster than I can download the files. This was the final design*, in case you were wondering, although I plan to change the “consultant” terminology to something that better encapsulates what I actually do. (“Coach” is the closest I’ve got right now.)

Bryan Redeagle of Capsule DX offered to help me with web stuff, and he was so appalled by some of the shoddy code in my former theme that he just full-on wrote me a new one, all custom from scratch and designed to fix exactly the stuff that was frustrating me. He never charged me a penny, because we worked out a special deal, but mostly because he’s fucking awesome and he honestly just wanted to help (and wanted code to shine like all perfectionist programmers do). I can’t thank him enough, or recommend his work loudly enough. I’ve never gotten this level of service out of anyone I’ve hired for any project, except for the amazingly affordable florist at our otherwise overpriced wedding. Most of you who know me know that praise does not come from me unless it is sincerely deserved.

Marie of Code it Pretty has also been a very generous donor of her time and expertise. She already generously writes a blog that just helps people figure out frustrating web crap, and she’s so cool about chiming in when I have something tricky to solve. And oh, remember when I wanted to make that app? Well, it’s still in the works; I’ve had to kind of put it aside in favor of earning money via my main business. But Marie is weighing in about user experience and will probably help with an Android port someday.

Martin and Doug and some other generous folks all piped up wanting to assist me, which is fan-freaking-tastic and also incredibly generous. (Oh, and I never would have gotten in touch with them if it weren’t for Rob Rix by way of The Modern Scientist, who connected things via Twitter, and whom I met via Keith Bradnam whom I originally connected to because of some Marco or some 5by5 thing.) Oh, and I’m totally going to connect with Brandon Wright to make completely different apps down the road, because we just find each other awesome to work with and he reached out to me because of Quit.

Dude, even my ergonomics are improving, not as much as I’d like but still some. Fellow standing desk enthusiasts, from Lex Friedman to Kelly Guimont have chimed in about footwear and other tips for making my home work setup more reasonable, and Twitter-whining about various aspects of it has often produced helpful results. The most helpful thing of all, though, was a visit to the Fully showroom in Portland. I urge you to set up an appointment if you’re near there. Either way, some of the best recommendations  and price quotes I’ve gotten were from them, and of course I discovered them online.

Oh, and you know how I suck at being new to Mac? Well, of course loads of people have helped me out with that. Heck, Paul Holbrook sent me a PayPal contribution towards buying the damn thing because he could tell how badly I needed to switch, and Michael Clifford straight up bought me a license for Moom because he knew it would solve my problems. Oh, and the fantastic Jean MacDonald reached out, helped me get settled with some fantastic software, and has generally been insanely helpful and fun. So all those folks and everyone else I’ve mentioned and then some have just been so full of great links, tips, and advice. Let’s see, what other resources have I fallen in love with online, thanks to Internet connections? Mixergy. Marie Forleo. Heck, even Jenna Marbles inspires me. Laura Roeder. So many more I’m forgetting. But I never would have found any of those sources on my own!

And how did I forge most of these connections? Why, by listening to shows on 5by5 and communicating with that network’s general audience. A huge chunk of my most interesting Twitter following also grew out of me baiting Marco Arment into retweeting something useful or funny or silly or random I posted, and then following every single person who favorited or retweeted whatever that thing was. And you know what? That strategy has put me in touch with some of the coolest Internet pals I’ve met to date. I’ve had great conversations with many a jackal, and I’m also launching a podcast soon with Kai Davis and Chris Zaborowski.

And, of course, Quit. Most people who are bothering to read this know that I’ve called in to that show a good number of times, and that I’ve finally taken my online dating coaching business full time thanks in large part to the nudges I’ve received from Dan Benjamin, and to the inspiration that a number of shows on his network have provided. I continue to seek ways to make it more sustainable thanks to his relentlessly business-minded approach. And, of course, his shows inspired me, but so do the connections I’ve made from listening to them and appearing on them. I even got one (just one so far, but still) paying client who heard me first on Quit! Altogether, the social aspects of the Internet and of 5by5 in particular have skyrocketed my own success and happiness and ability to easily and quickly find affordable and effective solutions to at least 75% of my tech problems on this earth.

Lastly, I made many of these connections happen because of my own output, lest you think it’s ALL just Internet magick [sic]. I made them because I was open to socializing with people and learning new things. I was willing to put myself out there even when exhaustion or shyness or House of Cards would rather prevail. I followed up on leads, wrote things down, Skyped/FaceTimed/GooglePlusHung my little heart out, learned a bunch of new stuff, flared up my tendinitis, lost sleep, called 5by5 and waited on hold for hours, checked my email/DMs/etc., read, wrote, retweeted, subscribed, shook hands, followed back, spent money, and generally put myself out there and followed up on shit. But that effort has been so incredibly rewarding, and SO much easier than it would have been without all this great Internet infrastructure.

So to my friends and family members who don’t get why the Internet is so important to me and why I sometimes can’t stop checking my iPhone, well, you’ll probably never read this anyway so never fucking mind. But the Internet rocks. :)




*Special Business Card Footnote: Futura on the front, since I know .05 people are going to ask, and a weirdly condensed Franklin Gothic Medium on the back logo. Vistaprint; wouldn’t use ’em again; saving up for proper letterpressing but first things first financially, thanks Dan. Going with a press guy in Chicago who can paint the edges red too because OMG sexy. Curt Stevens of Lithocraft if you need ANYTHING printed in Seattle; tell him I sent you. Avoid Allegra Graphics in Greenwood no matter how good a deal you thin you’re getting; you’re welcome.

Back the f*ck out of Marco Arment’s finances

Back the f*ck out of Marco Arment’s finances

This is one of those TL;DR scenarios. I’ll do my best to sum it up quickly.

Yahoo bought Tumblr for a boatload of money.

-Marco Arment used to work for Tumblr; he weighs in on the acquisition in depth and eloquence, with a small passing mention of gratitude for the generosity of his former employer and the deliberately vague and modest description of a decent safety net if he’s prudent with how he manages his finances. And I quote (emphasis mine):

As for me, while I wasn’t a “founder” financially, David was generous with my employee stock options back in the day. I won’t make yacht-and-helicopter money from the acquisition, and I won’t be switching to dedicated day and night iPhones. But as long as I manage investments properly and don’t spend recklessly, Tumblr has given my family a strong safety net and given me the freedom to work on whatever I want. And that’s exactly what I plan to do.

-Anil Dash, whose technical background is questionable to some*, was pissy about something else and in response to that flippantly tweeted this snotty message to Marco, with vaguely racially-loaded tones:

EDITED: Apparently, Anil’s dick tweet wasn’t specifically in response to Marco’s financial mention, like I originally thought it was. But that’s how I misinterpreted it, because Twitter. Regardless, the following rant remains valid to me, because attacking Marco’s finances, even as a tangent in response to some other beef, is a shitty and immature thing to do. Thanks for the correction, Tweeps.

Marco got understandably annoyed with Anil’s tweet, and flamed him a bit, with other members of the tech community chiming in.

I was bothered by Anil’s tweet too, because I’ve been paying attention to Marco’s adventures since I first heard of Instapaper and Build & Analyze. So I tweeted up a storm, and a Twitter buddy asked me to blog it (probably in jest, but I did) so here you go:

Why am I so up in arms about the finances of some software developer across the country? Because this shit is PRIVATE, people. The fact that Marco has EVER mentioned ANYTHING related to ANY of his finances on ANY of his projects is a GENEROUS GESTURE on his part, because he clearly takes some stupid shit for it. We really are like paparazzi in this weird little nerd world, and it’s uncomfortable to share figures and income. Heck, when my husband and I bought our home in 2011, I was incredibly uncomfortable with the questions some friends posed, and the fact that plenty of them raced off to Zillow or Redfin to look up the exact purchase price.

There is SO MUCH context to any financial aspect of anyone’s lives. You don’t know how much we had saved up, how much we were loaned or gifted, how long we scrimped, how many dollars in closing costs or repairs we were awarded in that one little transaction, or how long we’ll have to wait before we feel comfortable booking air travel that isn’t with rewards miles, or how scary it was for me to part with an Amazon income to try out my own venture, or how often home cost paranoia keeps me up at night, or what a pain in the ass the entire process is. That misguidedly public transaction record is none of your goddamned business, and neither are the details of Marco Arment’s stock deal from a company he worked at four years ago.

So please, everyone. Appreciate that we get ANYTHING more than a canned “No comment” response from this young, smart, talented guy who’s bombarded with inappropriate and deeply personal questions as if he owed entitled jackal world an answer. Just back the fuck off, go focus on doing your own awesome work, and appreciate that Marco has offered up ANY insight into what you might aspire to or expect or be able to pull off if you spent your time focusing on your own accomplishments. Sheesh! ;)

*Anil’s tech expertise level is not my business to explore, nor does it interest me much. But I assume he’s more technical than me based on his self-identity as such, even though I’ve worked at/on and been recruited by some pretty fucking major software companies and projects myself. I’m not trying to brag here; I’m saying I’ve had quite a bit of first-hand experience within the tech world on paper, but I don’t consider myself an authority on projects with which I had absolutely no involvement. So regardless of how technical Anil is, he too should shut the fuck up sometimes and focus on his own shit more, in my not remotely humble opinion. OK I promise I’m done yelling at everyone now!