We’ve had a lot of crucial conversations lately about decisions that we made between 2006 and 2010. Yup, really. We are explaining now about how we are possibly too far ahead of the curve and why if you give it a bit of time, it will make you look like a rock-star.
MobileGeddon being a great example of how our early adopters are benefiting the absolute most!
We started using Python, the programming language named after Monty Python, in 2004 if not earlier. We first tested Pinax in 2008 if not earlier under J who was running our programming team.
We used Python extensively in our old environment to move files and push out content to our sites. Tasks that are now done by Puppet and Chef and Docker-Compose. We rolled our own using Python on Windows.
So for the curious, that explains why we have this huge depth of knowledge on Python programming dating back to when nobody heard of it. We’ve had to train numerous graduates of Tech, UofH, Aggies, Rice, Penn State, etc, what Python even was!
But that is all ancient history. Why? Because Python is now number 1!
It’s hard to predict the future. We started out writing our own compete web framework in ASP. We were too early in 2001. PHP soon arrived and, being basically identical but open source, the outcome was PHP won. It should have, and did, win. We were too early. But with timing there is also a bit of luck.
I’ll do another post about GIS and mapping and why our move to strictly Postgres with GIS enabled is working out so well. Another post. And I’ll edit this one with links soon. Just needed to get the content out.
Bootstrap3. – Because we know that we take gambles on technology and they have an impact. On you. And that is serious business. We take it seriously as evidenced by our decision to shut down Windows in line with Microsoft’s EOL policies. These are hard choices. Crucial Conversations. We’re the messenger.
And we CARE about YOU. Our clients. The future is bright. We picked our technology future amazingly well. Too well, so now perhaps our problems is more one of resources. And we’ll work through that.
Thank you. If I can leave you with one thought – it is this. THANK YOU! For those who stuck with us, WOW, um… our position for search and the future is crazy good. Open Source means freedom. Results mean donations and sales. Software means sustainable business models.
We appreciate you. Yes closure for some was hard. We wish you the best. We appreciated your time with us while it lasted longer than a Honda. As some depart and some charge forward, I’m especially excited about those who chose to charge forward.
We, you and us, we didn’t “guess” right. We did our homework and validation came ironically on April 21, the same day mobilegeddon hit and our Tendenci 6 clients jumped up in the search rankings. Luck? Hard work? I don’t know.
What do I know? I know how to serve. I serve y’all.
This image came up as a topic of conversation in a meeting we had this morning and I wanted to share it. It is a pretty accurate description of the open source rewrite of Tendenci from the ground up over the last four years. And I’m pretty excited about the software moving away from the squiggly part on the right in this image from Henry Bloget’s blog post.
Oh don’t worry, we’ll attack new challenges and make new squiggles which will make people think we are off track, or losing it, or “freak them out” as we get to the end of a road and go “oooops, that didn’t work.” But now we know that didn’t work.
It also reminded me of some of Hugh’s quotes in his book Not Sucking that I have always liked. For example:
THERE IS NO SECRET SAUCE
WORK HARD. LIVE QUIETLY. BE FRUGAL. SIMPLIFY. NEVER COMPLAIN. CONSTANTLY ELEVATE YOUR CRAFT.
Sure, a bit of talent and good fortune comes in handy. It’s nice that you could draw better than any other kid in your small town, or that your parents had the money to afford tennis lessons after class.
But that just gets you to the starting line. The actual race is what happens after that, day in, day out, for many years to come.
And the ones who win, the ones who really elevate their craft, are generally the ones who work the hardest. Life is unfair.
People underestimate the power of hard work. I like that he simplifies it all into Creativity, Mastery and Meaning. He doesn’t lie to you about a four hour work week, or tell you you have to wear Gucci to be happy, he doesn’t even list being happy as a goal. Meaning, Mastery and Creativity are how you don’t suck. Being happy is what happens when you don’t suck. But not always, because it’s hard work.
The best way to not suck is to MASTER something useful. Obvious, yes?
The thing is, I know TONS of super successful people, but none of them fit this extreme, celeb-lottery-winner-Reality-TV model. Some of them are actually pretty boring, to be honest. But they lead happy, friendly lives and do VERY well career-wise.
THAT is what most success looks like, if you think about it. The stuff on TV or in the movies just isn’t REAL enough for us to learn that much useful stuff.
So I was thinking about this again, recently, HARD.
What model would work for folk like you and me? A model that didn’t mean you had to sell your soul to Wall Street, Hollywood, Washington or the tabloids? A success model that doesn’t rely solely on the unlikelihood of outrageously good fortune or acts of evil?
Then quite by chance, I saw a great documentary recently: “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”, a film about the world’s greatest sushi master, and a light bulb EXPLODED in my head.
Our man, 85-year-old Jiro Ono is the world’s greatest sushi chef– the only sushi master to ever have been awarded three Michelin stars. He’s also the oldest person to have ever been a recipient of that award.
The thing is, he doesn’t have a lot of money or own a fleet of trendy restaurants in all the world’s capitals, a-la Wolfgang Puck. No syndicated TV shows, celebrity-chef book deals or TV talk-show circuits, either.
He just has just a small, plain, dull, ordinary-looking, low-key sushi bar with ten seats in the basement of a Tokyo office building, near the subway, the kind of nondescript place you’d probably just walk by without stopping, if you saw it. Ten seats! Yet he REALLY IS the best in the world at what he does.
Jiro works seven days a week, over 350 days a year (he hates taking vacation), serves sushi and sashimi to people in very small numbers, and THAT’S IT. Just sushi. No salad, no appetizers, no deserts.
Like I said, JUST SUSHI. And by sticking to this minimalist, bare-bones formula, he’s become the best in the world.
A tiny little sushi bar in some random subway station. Yet people wait in line, people book a stool at his sushi bar as much as a year in advance, at prices starting around $600 a head. People have been known to fly all the way from America or Europe, just to experience a 30-minute meal. In an office basement!
I read that and felt humbled. And befuddled. And yes perhaps a bit justified.
I’m also really happy to know others are like me. I don’t particularly consider myself successful but I expect it will all work out. I have many blessings and I work with great people. I have a wonderful family. I’ve also had my share of loss and plenty of criticism, which I have learned comes with the role of CEO even for a small company (note: there are no books on how to be a CEO. You just do your damndest to learn fast!)
Back to Jiro. I get him. For me, I have been obsessing about one single software product called Tendenci built specifically for associations and non-profits for 13 years now. I’ve had a lot of help. I’ve never wavered nor lost the passion to keep improving it. I’m truly obsessed with making software in a way that makes our CLIENTS successful.
I started it in 2001, (the tech bubble had burst) on the premise, after reading hundreds of marketing books that clients who made money off of your software wouldn’t leave you. That they might forgive a missed deadline, but they would not forgive a security breach. That they wanted the freedom to leave at any time. So all of our clients were sold month to month, export your data and leave whenever you want. (this was before open source was an option and before PHP was around.)
What started on the Microsoft platform is now rewritten by a a great team of programmers who work here, and outsourcers, and hopefully more and more by people in the community. It is now Django/Python/Postgres and Ubuntu. We are working hard, and I am obsessing on adding donor management that integrates with Salesforce Foundation’s free licenses for non-profits. I’m completely obsessed with giving NPOs an alternative – that they can succeed on both bottom lines, financial and causes, and put more of their money and time towards the cause instead of spending 10k/user for Raiser’s Edge.
Can a 13 year old product built on Django give NPOs a real alternative to Raiser’s Edge and Blackbaud? And can it be an OPEN SOURCE product that you can integrate, extend, and experience with no vendor lock in at all? The odds are against me. And there are only 10 stools. And my obsession with achieving this success grows stronger every day, and it is not because I know anyone at Blackbaud.
I’m obsessed with collaboratively building Tendenci not because of what the software itself can do. I’m obsessed and seeking mastery because of what global-non-profits can do with the first open source Python software built specifically for them. That is my passion.
Tendenci has come a long way since it was started in 2001. I didn’t have a choice back then so thus began (at the time – we are now open source) a proprietary system. But we work mostly with Associations and Non Profits. They/You (and I can attest first hand after volunteering with several nonprofits over the years) don’t want proprietary – you want OPEN SOURCE!
So what is our roadmap for Tendenci, now completely open source, for donor management?
I have to say we weren’t feeling the urgency on the donor management part until recently. Why? Because Blackbaud (Nasdaq BLKB) acquired Convio and removed the only viable option. And now they are shutting down Common Ground. Not cool. (Side bar: Word is Convio used to advertise “Common Ground, because we’re not Raiser’s Edge.” If that is true or not, it’s still funny and was always a comment that came up at NTEN or Techsoup meetings over the years.)
Tendenci is written in Django and Python and will remain open source. We are adding a basic GPL CRM with modifications for donor management first. More importantly we are integrating Tendenci with the Salesforce Foundation and the Non-Profit Starter pack through their open source connectors and well documented API.
We are prepared and qualified. We have a former employee who now works at Salesforce, we use Salesforce ourselves, and quite frankly they seem to care about the non-profit world. We at Schipul are “all in” as they say as are Tendenci powers the majority of our clients are non-profits.
What can you do now to get ready?
If you want to get ready to fully integrate your Tendenci site, hosted with us or self hosted with the open source community version, a good jumping off point would be to read up on the great work the Salesforce Foundation does for Non Profits. Sign up with the Foundation to get your free licenses even if you just want to play around with it.
I’ll try to keep everyone more up to speed on our roadmap, it’s been a crazy year. But make no mistake, we are building an open system that will reduce the costs of advocacy and non-profit associations and foundations by a factor of 10 compared to Raiser’s Edge. There is hope. (Programmer? – join us on github! http://github.com/tendenci/tendenci ) And in case you can’t tell, I’m excited about this!
This past Sunday marked the 4th Annual Silicon Valley Duck Race. It’s a fun event held in Vasona Lake Park in Los Gatos, CA where attendees get to sponsor an iconic rubber ducky as it floats down the lake. Ducks are sponsored for $5 a piece, and sponsors can win great prizes if their duck is picked across the finish line – anything from a Tahoe vacation to a gardening gift basket. There’s even a chance to win a million dollars! Sadly, none of my ducks were the lucky millionaire ones. That’s why I’m still here to write you this blog post.
The Silicon Valley Duck Race is not just an opportunity to have fun, it’s also a chance to do good. The event is coordinated on by the JewishFamily Services of Silicon Valley, but benefits a total of seventeen different non-profits and charities in the area. Typically the race sells out and all 15,000 ducks in the race are sponsored before start, but this year sales were sluggish. Leading up to race day only about 11,000 had been sold – a strong showing but another example for non-profits how overall giving is down. Media attention surrounding the low sales plus a gorgeous Sunday led to a last-minute push for a total of 13,502 ducks sponsored.
It was my first time at the duck race, and I really enjoyed it! I was most surprised to see the giant duck that resides at the top of the San Jose Children’s Discovery Museum down at ground level. When I was first exploring downtown San Jose, I noticed this giant duck on top of a building and couldn’t imagine what for. Then it dawned on me – that had to be the Children’s Museum! It was really cool to see it up close. The duck race was such a fun event, and made all the better by the non-profit support. Plus a day in the California sunshine didn’t hurt either. I’m already looking forward to next year! Photos from the Silicon Valley Duck Race are online at Schipul.com and you can watch the duck launch too!
Coffee table. Bed. Plates. Forks. Chairs. A lamp. Individually, they’re just items on a list of things found in a house. Collectively these items represent what makes a house a home, and when simply having a roof is your main priority, what to put under it takes the backseat. Shade of Hope is putting the spotlight on these details.
About Shade of Hope and The Furniture Bank of Houston
True to it’s name, artists for the event will use shades donated by Blinds.com as canvas for their artwork. We attended the artist breakfast meeting at Blinds.com and even had an opportunity to sign the first shade commemorating the event.
Of all the things I imagined seeing this weekend, a cheetah on a leash taking a leisurely stroll through the Houston Zoo was NOT on the list. But that’s the kind of thing that happens during Photo Day at the Houston Zoo.
Photo Day is a series of 6 outings during which photographers and photography enthusiasts can visit the Houston Zoo and take pictures of the animals. Fellow Schipulite Derek Key (@dereskey) and I had the opportunity to attend Saturday’s photo day…and that’s how we saw the cheetah.
Our Day…in Photos
The animals are likely to be active during the earliest part of the day, especially in the summer…in Houston. So for Photo Day, the zoo opens two hours early (at 7am) and lets photo enthusiasts catch the early risers. I’ve been to the Houston Zoo countless times, but this is the first time I saw so many of the big cats and rare birds.
The lions roamed their pen long enough for photo ops…
For the second year in a row, I am on the Host Committee for DiverseWorks’ Luck of the Draw Summer Auction. This is one of DW’s biggest events of the year, and one of the quirkier and memorable events in Houston each year. The concept is simple. DW asks artists from around the country to donate small works of art that are sold throughout the evening. Numbers are then drawn to determine who gets first crack at the 200+ pieces. As this is a DiverseWorks event, you can expect a great crowd, food and libations. And, to get you properly Gleeful, they’ve invited the choir from Houston School for the Performing and Visual Arts to perform at the event.
Art Change tickets start $100 (the price goes to $125 if you purchase after June 1.), but you can guarantee a Top 20 position for $250 (NOTE: Top 5 tickets costing $500 have sold out.) Regardless of what ticket you purchase, you’re getting a piece of art at a great price. Luck of the Draw is great because it introduces you to art collection in a fun and exciting way. Not interested in owning a unique piece of art? No problem, you can still be part of the fun for $25.
Welcome to the very first installment of Trend Tuesdays, where the Schipulites will bring you weekly trends in the web at-large! To kick off this shindig right, let’s talk about something that doesn’t often get a lot coverage in Internetland: charitable donations.
During a recent jaunt to the hilly and chilly city by the bay, I had the honor of attending the NTENNon-Profit Technology Conference. I learned more than I’d ever imagined about what makes non-profits tick, what makes non-profits boil, and what makes non-profits happy.
Of course, there are plenty of things that trip a non-profit’s trigger. Widespread public support, mass exposure for a cause, endless supplies of volunteers, databases full of donors, trays full of cupcakes. Okay, I inferred that last one.
But let’s be honest. What do non-profits really want? They want funding, Sherlock! They want donations! They want to have the requisite money to carry out their amazing missions with abandon!
One of the discussion points that threaded through almost every presentation or topic at NTC was fundraising, and getting those dolla dolla bills for your non-profit, y’all. Surprised that social media wasn’t the topic du jour? Sure, the social media ticket is trendy in the corporate and marketing worlds, but for non-profits? Social media only cuts the mustard when it can deliver resources. And I came to discover that a key element to using social media as a fundraising tool is Facebook Causes.
Now, most all of us are already quite familiar with the viral power of Facebook (and if not, let me assist you in emerging from under that rock where you’ve been living). You can consider the Causes application as the Facebook non-profit niche.
Causes is the world’s largest online platform for social and political activism, but with chutzpah. Boasting over 15 million active monthly users (heck yeah, you read that right!), and 50 million users in total, Causes empowers both organizations and individuals to mobilize their social networks. Every single Facebook user has the tools to create a Cause for an issue or campaign, recruit others to join, spread awareness, and raise money for a non-profit beneficiary.
Causes works ’cause it’s deeply embedded within the world’s leading social networks (there’s an application for MySpace, too!), and Causes benefiting a non-profit can:
Create community and spread awareness
Connect people and ideas in new ways; and
Attract new donors and raise money for specific projects & programs.
How does it work? Well, first, a non-profit becomes a Causes partner. By partnering with Causes, non-profits receive official profiles and access to a central dashboard, where they can manage causes, track donations, and download donor contact information. When a non-profit is ready to start its very own Cause, they can get the grab the Facebook Causes application.
HALT! There are a few things to note about the Facebook Causes application. First of all, it’s completely, 1,000% free, but it’s only available (right now) to registered 501(c)(3) organizations. This pretty much means that donations can only be processed for Guidestar-listed or Canadian charities. True, any average Joe (or Joanne) can create a Cause via the Causes application, but the recipient must be a registered 501(c)(3) organization. Non-profits get all the good schtuff, don’t they?
Another bonus? Since Causes is a third-party application, the non-profit partner is able to have Causes, a Fan Page, and a Group on Facebook, if it so desires. Talk about TRIPLE your fun! The Causes application, however, does MORE than a Fan Page or a Group. The Causes application has the ability to accept donations, it features advanced communication tools that Fan Pages and Groups don’t offer, and it comes bundled with great tools for fundraising, such as setting fundraising goals and matching donations.
So how do non-profits make the Facebook Causes application really sing?
Title: Make sure the Cause has an action-inducing, attention grabbing title.
Cause of Action: Convey a sense of urgency with the cause of action.
Make the Case: Make the Cause’s case in three points or less.
Background & Objectives: Provide a concise background for where the Cause is currently, and where the Cause is going. Don’t forget to include relevant links!
Imagery: Use an evocative photograph that inspires people to take action.
Recruit, Recruit, Recruit: Use the recruiting tools associated with the Facebook Causes application to invite the maximum number of potential supporters every day (which is 60), and personalize the ask and the thank you messages you send. But don’t stop there! Take your recruiting outside the Facebook borders to newsletters and email, too!
Of course, there are the naysayers of Facebook Causes. In fact, a recent Washington Post article pointed out that fewer than 50 of the 179,000 nonprofits that use Facebook Causes have raised $10,000, and only two (the Nature Conservancy and Students for a Free Tibet) have cracked the $100,000 mark. Yikes, right?
We can’t deny that online donations are only 3% of the donations that non-profits receive. But wasn’t it just yesterday that people couldn’t imagine shopping online, watching movies online instead of going to the theatre, or making friends with complete strangers online? What makes us think online donations to charitable causes are any different? If we’re looking at past trends, then they’re not any different at all. Facebook Causes is a great step in the right direction for learning how to better meet the needs of non-profits.
A non-profit’s priority is fundraising, right? Then we go to them, young Padawans, and we show them the way.