As a long-time fan of the Open Source movement, I was happy to recruit open source advocate Jason Hibbets to be this month’s Designbox speaker in downtown Raleigh, NC. Jason outlined how using open source concepts can improve business and government, with examples from Raleigh and beyond.

You don’t have to be an open source veteran to appreciate his lessons-learned. His talk focused on how using the open source model of participation can improve any organization or process:

  1. Transparency leads to accountability
  2. Collaboration leads to innovative ideas
  3. Participation leads to more eyes, ideas
  4. Rapid prototyping leads to failing faster
  5. Meritocracy leads to best ideas, buy-in
  6. Passion leads to commitment

Here’s a 54 minute recording of his inspiring and entertaining talk and Q&A today at Designbox:

Download the MP3 of Jason Hibbets’ open source talk (54min, 38MB)

For the slides, you can download the OpenOffice presentation (you can open the file in PowerPoint and Google Presentation):

Got questions for Jason? You can reach him on Twitter at @JHibbets. Thanks to Beth & Aly Khalifa for making the event possible!


Dover Harbor service in the lounge

My friend Cristina Roman is doing a series of interviews with people who have unusual hobbies. She asked me to participate, based on my experience volunteering as a bartender on a 1930s railroad car.

The Dover Harbor is like a 90-foot long, 90-ton luxury bed & breakfast hooked onto the back of an Amtrak train. For passengers, it’s like something from an old movie, with beds that flip down from the ceiling, a comfortable lounge for enjoying hot meals prepared in our onboard kitchen, and a rear vestibule for waving at people along the way.

What prompted you to take up this hobby? How long have you been doing it?

A friend recruited me to volunteer on the 1930s Dover Harbor Pullman railroad car, as a way to combine my interest in trains, history, travel, and client service.

I’ve volunteered as a crew member since 2008, doing one to three trips a year.

I typically work as a steward/porter, our onboard client service role. My job is to work both in public and behind the scenes to create a memorable experience for our 8-24 passengers. This can involve everything from mixing drinks at 80 miles an hour to hauling 150 pounds of a ice a day from the Amtrak commissary to restock our kitchen’s original 1930s icebox. [click to read more…]


Meet Me in Raleigh: Office Hours at Videri in 2014

by Karl Sakas on December 24, 2013

Videri Chocolate Factory logo

Join me for Office Hours at Videri on Tuesdays in early 2014 from 11:30am-12:30pm

Got a quick question, looking for career advice, interested in volunteering with Triangle AMA, or just want to say hello? Inspired by Beck Tench‘s office hours, I’ll be holding weekly Office Hours in Raleigh, NC, in early 2014.

I’ll be at Videri Chocolate Factory in downtown Raleigh (327 W. Davie Street) from 11:30am-12:30pm on Tuesdays from January to May 2014. There’s free parking in the adjacent lot.

Why am I doing Office Hours? Having a standing one-hour block each week will help me fit more face-to-face meetings into my schedule. I’d love to meet you!

Office Hours aren’t a substitute for an in-depth Agency Firebox consulting project or coaching session, of course—but buy yourself a cup of hot chocolate or Stumptown coffee from Videri’s coffee counter and let’s chat.

If you’re visiting from out of town, Tweet me at @KarlSakas or call me at 919-410-6224 to double-check ahead of time, just in case (I may have an occasional conflict). See you soon!

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I recently published this article about marketing agency management at the Agency Firebox blog:

Do you know what your team is saying about you behind your back? Solicit 360 feedback to become a better agency leader.

Digital marketing agency CEO Greg Hoy of Happy Cog recently wrote on Medium about the results of soliciting employee feedback during his first 360 degree evaluation.

The feedback from his employees wasn’t always pretty—his team said he was doing a lot worse running the digital experience agency than he thought he was doing. Or as he titled his article, “My employees reviewed me, and I kind of suck.”

See what his team said—and my take on why you need to get that feedback at your own marketing agency—in the full article at the Agency Firebox blog. You can read Greg Hoy’s original article here.

Question: Have you ever given or received 360 feedback? How did it go? Don’t be shy—click here to share your comment.


UX expert Whitney Hess

UX expert Whitney Hess

Independent UX consultant and coach Whitney Hess recently blogged about reaching her five-year anniversary of self-employment. I noticed she’d shared an annual “lessons-learned” post each year.

As I start the fourth month of working full-time on Agency Firebox—solving business problems for owners of marketing agencies—I was curious to see what Whitney reported learning each year. I reviewed the posts to see what stood out to me from each of her annual updates.

My takeaway from Whitney’s Year 0: Compelled to Act

Whitney shared:

The notion of working for myself has always been there, lurking in the dark recesses of my mind. My parents are entrepreneurs and have been running their successful public relations firm, HWH PR, for more than 30 years. That’s what I grew up knowing.

I felt the same thing earlier this year. I grew up helping in my family’s small business, and I grew up hearing stories about my grandfather flying around the world as a management consultant to global corporations. I started my first business in high school, as a web designer and technology consultant to clients in the D.C. area.

As the head of business operations (as an employee) at two agencies, I’ve loved helping marketing agency owners make their businesses better, but I was ready to lead my own thing. [click to read more…]