Itinerary
Friday
Jul302010

Countdown...

Location: Berkeley, CA

We're in the final stages of the countdown: three days to go before I leave for St. Martin. I keep thinking "it's only two weeks" because, you know, last time it was two months. But I seem to have forgotten that two weeks is a non-trivial trip in its own right. And so, here I am, going list-crazy of things to remember to pack, buying more books for my kindle, mapping out every day what we're going to do...

Oh, what, did that last one make you question my sanity? Yes, I'm serious. I've created a Google calendar and planned out every single day where we're going to have breakfast, lunch and dinner, and what beach we're going to visit that day.  It's amazing when you map out the list of places you want to go against 13 short days how quickly the time disappears. 

Of course, if it rains or a hungover develops, I'm screwed. But how likely are either of those things to happen? Oh. Right. Chance of thunderstorms every day in the forecast. And that's the less likely of the two...

As I've been mapping things out, I had to decide - if we're putting out a Grand Case Restaurant Guide, is it better to go back to the same restaurants we've already visited, or be sure to include a couple top restaurants outside Grand Case? I've decided repeats are more important. Though I almost always wrote up a blog post shortly after a good meal... well, there's just no substitute for going into the restaurant knowing you plan to analyze it. I'm excited to get to work properly on adding content for the book!

Meanwhile, Steve is working hard on the formatting of the book. It's kind of shocking what a design genius he is, especially for those of who knew him a decade ago when he owned red velvet couches... but I digress. He really does great design, whether it's a book, a presentation, a web site, doesn't matter. Mad skills.

So... you may have noticed that the pace of posts on www.lucindaslist.com has gone down, and I've restarted this blog. That's because www.lucindaslist.com posts now also show up on our Facebook fan page, which means we don't want to overdo it. We're working so hard to get people to subscribe, we don't want to drive them insane to the point that they unsubscribe. Hence the change in approach. 

On the home front, our downstairs office and future theater is shaping up nicely. Last week was a banner week on craig's list - made $1000 getting rid of old furniture. Who knew the "gently-used" bowflex would garner so much interest? Pure genius that site. Then yesterday our new sectional couch was delivered... or at least 3/4 of it was. When you're delivering a 4-piece sectional, of sage microfiber... wouldn't you wonder when one of the pieces is an orange leather loveseat? Seriously, the delivery guys were shocked when I explained that it was NOT part of my order. They even offered to leave it with me until the other piece arrives. Um... why would I want that in my house? And isn't there someone else who is going to be LOOKING for that piece and wondering why they received a left-arm sage chaise? But Apollo loves the new sectional; he was sound asleep on it within minutes, giving it the doggy snore of approval. 

The theater itself, well, that's not arriving until Aug 23rd. Apparently the screen needs to be custom cut, even though it's a standard size, and will take ~ 5 weeks. Ludicrous. But now we're on Amazon shopping Blu Ray discs, trying to decide what to have on hand for the premier. So far, we've got all trilogies in our basket: Lord of the Rings, Bourne Supremacy, Star Wars (only the original trilogy, obviously). In other words... don't expect to hear from me in late August. We basically need to finish the book before Aug 23rd or it might be Christmas before it gets out ;).

OK, back to the manic list-making in preparation for my trip. When is too early to bring out the suitcase and start actually packing without being declared clinically insane?

Tuesday
Jul202010

A Plan!

Yes, we actually have a plan. OK, it's not our first plan, but this one has actually stuck for a couple weeks now, so it's probably fair to share it.

Phase One: Quick Trip to St. Martin

Steve and I finally agreed that we need more content in order to publish our first book, the Restaurants of Grand Case. For one thing, it would be awfully lacking in photography at the moment. The challenge was that Steve didn't want to go back to St. Martin right at this moment, he wants to wait until Nov/Dec, when it gets crappy here. But we agreed we need more content so we can publish before High Season.

Answer? I'll be going with my mom. It's actually perfect because she's in the newly retired, likes to travel target market that is one of our key demographics. She's also a good writer in her one right, and someone with a creative twist. So, Vicki will get to have her own viewpoint in the book. What should we call her? Retiree extraordinaire? We'll need to come up with a way to reference her demographic... something other than geezer ;). 

I asked her yesterday if she wanted to go, and by the end of the day we had our plane tickets booked for Aug 2 - 16th. Perfect. I'll get home just in time for our home theater to be installed :). No, really, it's good that we go sooner rather than later so we can finish the book content by end of August, and hopefully have it formatted and ready to go by mid to late September. 

If possible, we'll also be collecting research for our Beaches of St. Martin guide. I'm hoping we can get that out around the same timeframe as the restaurants, but we'll be starting a little more from scratch, so it remains to be seen if 2 weeks is enough to get both done. 

Phase Two: Winter in the Caribbean

So... we haven't officially moved to the Caribbean as we originally threatened, but that doesn't mean we don't plan to spend extensive time there. In fact, our current plan is to up the ante from what we did last year. Instead of two months, we're shooting for four or six months, depending on how well our guide is doing.

The question is where to spend those months. We could easily spend half if not more in St. Martin, and build out our hotel, activity, spa, shopping, and other guides, or just put together the big kahuna St. Martin guide. Or, we could try to cover a bunch of islands, maybe do one per month. 

From a personal perspective, it's not as comfortable/stable a way to spend the winter, nor is it as economical - we could negotiate a far better deal if we agree to rent a place for multiple months. But if we look at it from a business perspective, the more islands we can cover this winter, the more books we can market for next year... and every additional book means a cumulative revenue stream. 

So... no firm decisions on where specifically to go this winter, but I think it's fair to make a call that we will be going somewhere for most if not all of the winter. If all goes well, and if we can make a sustainable business of Lucinda's List, then this will become our model. Live in California when it's beautiful; travel the Caribbean when it's not. 

Will this plan stick? We shall see, but so far, it's stuck far longer than anything else. We've made up with our house, and decided to keep it, at least for the foreseeable future. We're even investing in the basement. It's already finished, with french doors out to the backyard, and surprisingly good light. Up until now, it had been an overpriced storage room with old furniture.

Now, it's our office... and soon to be our home theater. Yep, we are taking the plunge. Got a big ole comfy sectional from Macy's, sold our souls at Magnolia for a projector and screen... and speakers, and blu ray player, and universal power supply, and oh my God how it all adds up! Steve must have slipped me a roofie. But we did it. It should all be done mid August. Can you believe the long pole in the tent is the F@#!ing screen? Oh yeah, they custom cut it. For a standard size. Ludicrous. But yes, by end of August, we will be screening blu ray films on our 92" screen. Steve wasn't sure that would be big enough, so I had to get medieval on him.

I was a little hesitant to invest in more stuff for our house, but if we're going to keep it, and be here all day every day, I decided we might as well treat it like a home and not a short-term rental. So we've made up with the house...

Friday
Jul092010

When are you going back to the Caribbean?

Ah, yes, this is the million dollar question, now isn't it? When are we going back to the Caribbean? We started a company that is all about traveling in the Caribbean. So what are we doing in Berkeley, CA?

Well, first of all, when you throw every aspect of your life up in the air at the same time, sometimes it takes a little longer than you'd like to get it all to fit back together again. Me, I'm impatient. Really, really impatient. So I want to make a decision and move on. Maybe even if it's the wrong decision. 

Steve smartly rebels against this drive to make huge decisions without really thinking through the consequences, like selling our house just because it seems like a good idea at the time. Or buying a house on the first Caribbean island we visited. 

So our problem of the past couple of months isn't that we lack a plan. It is that we have a plethora of plans. We come up with a new plan almost every morning at breakfast. And initially, each plan feels right. Then we spend the next day or week chasing after this plan before we realize it doesn't actually work. Our assumptions turn out to be faulty... like the idea that we can buy a mansion in DC or Annapolis, probably on the water or in the most desirable neighborhood, all for less than $1 million.

Faulty assumptions. Definitely the bane of my existence right now. If only thinking it could make it true...

We've already gone through more plans than I can possibly count, and it's sometimes unfair to the people we tell about them when they fall apart, so we're trying not to involve others in our drama quite as much. 

So here we are. Struggling with the fact that we actually do love our house, and what we have here in Berkeley, while at the same time, we want to travel the Caribbean and create our travel guide.

There's a lot of inertia keeping us here. I don't mean that in a negative way. I mean that in the sense of inertia keeping us from tossing away a life we've spent years nourishing just because we ran into a roadblock. 

The good news is we don't have to make a decision immediately. That's the part that has been driven largely by my impatience, and I'm finally getting a grip on how exhausting it is to try and force that kind of huge change. So... the new mantra... patience, patience. It will all become clear in time.

Right?

Friday
Jul092010

You're not *really* working, right?

All these years Steve has been an entrepreneur, I became accustomed to seeing him go through the early stages of a start-up, the days when it's just him and maybe one other person. Some days I'd come home, ask him how his day was, and it would sound as though not a whole lot got done... but in reality, a lot of talking and thinking happened. That's the thing about the early stages... so much of it is a process of talking things through, making decisions, trying ideas on then ruling them out. I think I understood that somewhat having watched him all these years, but now that I'm experiencing it for myself, I understand it on such a deeper level. Unlike when you're a cog at a big company, in a start-up there's no way to quantify a "start-up day." You can't say here's a clear block of work that has a specific value, and therefore every day you should complete x number of blocks, and if you do this, then you are making progress. 

Instead, you spend your days both completing work, and thinking up what new work you should be doing. It's kind of funny that way. No one is standing over you saying "here's what I need you to do today." Not that I have had that in many years, but in general, someone is usually saying "here's your next project" and you know what needs to be done. But not in a start-up. You have to determine what are the tasks you need to complete, and then go complete them. It's much harder. Moreover, you need to recognize that action doesn't equate to progress. Sometimes the right thing to do is to stop doing what you've been doing, and rethink it... and redo it... and no matter how much you may curse your partner when they point it out to you, you know they're right. 

And yet the irony is that when you're in the early stages of a start-up... no one believes you're actually working. I feel like I'm frequently met with surprise when I explain that we actually spend our days working hard: coding, writing, designing, strategizing, revamping, course-correcting, planning, etc. Creating a company isn't a code word for slacking. Or bullshitting. (Well, at least not for us, I can't speak to all start-ups). 

On the one hand, the upside of a start-up is that you can decide on a beautiful day that perhaps your work would get done more effectively if you were in a chaise at the pool, and you can make that happen. I admit, this is where some of the misunderstanding may come in, because it might appear to be slacking.

On the other hand... you never really stop working. Every conversation, every meal, every spin class, every walk to the dog park, every shower, you're talking and/or thinking about what you're doing. Because this is your creation. It takes over your view of the world. Steve has always said that being a founder is different from being an employee, even an early employee, because it's just yours. And he's absolutely right. It's a completely different level of commitment... and obsession.

So next time you hear someone say they're starting a company, and you think that's a euphemism for being unemployed or slacking... it's not. Consider that it's actually one of the hardest things you can do: creating value from nothing. With no guidance. And completely your fault if you fail. 

Wednesday
Jun022010

Lucinda's List

It may seem that I have been an absentee landlord the past week... in reality, I've been blogging, but I've been posting instead to our new site: lucinda's list.

What is Lucinda's List? I know I've been a bit cagey the past few weeks, but we're now at a point where we're getting really excited about it. It's time for a little disclosure. To find out about it, and what we're up to, check it out. Start with the first post: In the Beginning...

Eventually I'll put in a redirect. i may migrate everything over there, or I may just leave it here, haven't decided yet. 

Thanks for reading lucindanewcomb.com... and welcome to Lucinda's List!