Posts Tagged book

My first 12-week year

My first 12-week year

Hot Numbers Coffee

Hot Numbers in Cambridge, where I read most of the book. (photo courtesy: Bex Walton)

This past summer, when we stayed in Cambridge for a month, Ton adopted a new routine after reading a book: thinking in 12 week years. It’s a method developed by Brian Moran and its basic intervention is to set goals to reach within 12 weeks, instead of setting goals for a year. Despite being written in an overly enthusiastic manner (it is an American book after all), this basic idea somehow resonated with both of us. Once back home, I developed a 12 week plan too and set my goals for my ‘first year’.  These are my findings so far.

I set seven goals, such as creating a writing routine around a (probably never to be published) book, taking a walk on a daily basis and delve into some books that I see as being key to my work.  I’ve mixed results on working towards these goals. Some high- and lowlights.

What works:

  • I have definitely created a writing routine. Every week I set myself a goal in amount of pages to write. I chose a number that I could easily reach within one writing session of about two hours (or takes even less time when split into several sessions). Keeping the number within easy reach, really motivated me. Normally, I would set the goals so high that I give up at the first signs of the goal getting out of reach. Currently I’m a bit behind on schedule due to a very persistent cold, keeping me from doing work for two weeks and during those weeks I really missed my writing sessions. A very good sign!
  • I do tend to take walks on a daily basis, although during my illness I really couldn’t. Some days I don’t walk, but at least bike into town. Some days I skip due to general laziness. Oh well…it’s autumn you know. Not the most inviting season to go outside at times
  • I am getting better and better at having balanced working days, with a more steady flow of high concentration work, taking long breaks in between and creating more predictable rhythm. Being a solo entrepreneur offers little dictated rhythm, so I could swing from doing 12 hours of intense video editing for days, to doing nothing specific the next few days. I can tell you now, that is not a healthy routine on the long term.
  • As of yesterday I finally got to update my blog and its template. A few months ago Ton’s website got hacked due to a flaw in the template used. I used a different template, yet from the same developer so I figured I should change templates as well to be on the save side. I was supposed to do this before November first, so I didn’t make my self-imposed deadline, but I did it within my year. That’s the thing that counts most.[/list]

The struggles:

  • In general, knowing what goals to set at the beginning. I don’t really know what I can actually achieve within 12 weeks. Setting goals while being on the recovery route from a burn-out at the beginning of this year, was a complete guess.
  • Therefore I hardly spent time on the biggest goal I set for myself, reading and analyzing some books on storytelling and philosophical methods. I set this goal based on the assumption that I wouldn’t have any significant client work during the rest of the calendar year. Guess what. I actually landed a huge gig with an existing client. So most of my precious high concentration time (I set a maximum of 4 hours per day) was spent on this. Biggest bonus: it pays!
  • falling ill really set me back. Can we just globally ban all viruses? Thank you.
  • I think I would really benefit from taking yoga classes, yet I tried some and I really dislike the process of going there on a scheduled time that never really fits my daily rhythm. Either I need to postpone a meal for two hours leading me to feel nauseous, or it’s too soon after a meal which is not pleasant for exercising. One last resort is a website with lessons you can sign up for.

My first year ends on December 20th, so I still have some time to catch up and reach my yoga and writing goals. Thinking in 12 week years really helps me to set more specific goals to strive for, that are both stretching me a bit yet still achievable. So far it seems especially helpful in giving my creative side enough space to actually be creative. A year is too long to feel an actionable sense today, a month is too short due to life intervening, so I do think 12 weeks hits a sweet spot.

Curious? Order the book from Amazon (links to Kindle version) or visit the website.


The true case: self-publishing a book as a network

The true case: self-publishing a book as a network


Last Monday we, a group called LOSmakers, launched a book with 11 cases and cross-analysis on learning and organizing using social media. The real story that needs to be told: how we wrote, edited, designed and published a book with a group of 15 people, not binded by any contract, but for the willingness to commit time, energy and a only a little bit of money to get the job done.


This is the story of how a group of loosely connected people starts to grow into a brand.

How the group met

Four of us already worked together for a number of years, training people to use social media. We’re self-employed, forming teams for clients on a project basis. The four of us also know many others like us, working with social media, helping clients to get up to speed with social tools. Talking to eachother we noticed that we all dealt with similar issues to find solutions for and answer questions by clients. We also knew how pleasantly we worked together as a small network and at some point of time we, I guess it was Joitske in particular, expressed the wish to add another layer to our collaboration, with a peer network to share experiences around social media and learning.

We sent an invitation to people in our networks who might be interested in joining us and thus, in spring 2010, we met for the first time as a group.

First steps in sharing

Since that first meeting we started sharing. Sometimes in face-to-face meetings, exploring specific topics, more often in virtual settings where one or two of us would present something during a webinar. We showcased our projects during those webinars, discussed together and at the same time explored different tools to play with during these online meetings.

When the group becomes LOSmakers

One year after the groups’ first steps we felt the need to get a little bit more serious. We wanted to create something for a wider audience, so we could present ourselves as a group. In a meeting was decided to start working on a ‘book with ideas’ and that we needed a name for the group.

In June 2011 we did an online brainstorm for a name and opened a wiki for collecting cases to end up in our ‘book’. By the end of the month we branded ourselves LOSmakers and by the end of July we had a list of 11 cases to write about.

Working to a deadline

People who suggested a case were responsible for writing that specific case and a group of four took the overall responsibility for the process, in other words: kept the group reminding to deliver to the next deadline.

Our first deadline: all cases should be written by  October 6th (2011), which obviously wasn’t met by all of us Nevertheless, several cases had been finished as a draft and we started working towards polished versions from that point on.

The PDF grew into a book…

At first we had the idea of putting together a decent PDF and publish this for all to download for free. During that particular meeting in October this somehow evolved (I wasn’t present at that meeting) into printing a proper book, with the use of an editor and book designer.

For a text document to grow into a book you get into the messy process of editing and rewriting, re-reading and re-editing. I’ve lost count how many versions of my own case I’ve written and how many versions of the document I scanned for typo’s. And that times 15, the number of people involved creating the book.

We found ourselves a brilliant designer who voluntarily created a template for our book. He found us a printing house as well and between the 15 of us we could order enough copies of the book for a reasonable price. The hard copies would serve as our own marketing material, the PDF would be distributed in exchange for a tweet.

Idea to book conversion: 10 months

So then we’re back to where I started: last Monday we had the experience of taking our first glance, as co-authors, at the printed version of the book we wrote together and launched the website for people to download the book.

From idea to product in 10 months.

Ingredients: clients, writing experience, perspiration, co-working spaces, skype, pbworks (wiki), google docs, googlegroups (aka email), datumprikker (pick a date), dropbox, Erik Vos

…and of course the combined hours spent by the LOSmakers.

A special thanks to HanneloreSibrenneJoitske and Simon for pushing the group forward, one step at a time. Without you, it would never have become a product to be proud of


P.S.: you can download the PDF in exchange for a tweet or message on Facebook. Remember though: it is in Dutch. If you’re interested in a hard copy, drop me a line in whatever channel you prefer.

P.P.S: Monday we also expressed a wish to translate the book into English. Are you interested in reading it? Or are you willing to lend a hand translating to document? Drop me a line as well!



How to Unconference your Birthday – The Book

How to Unconference your Birthday – The Book

Schermafbeelding 2014-04-27 om 20.38.24

Download the ebook

Last year, when Ton turned 40, we organized an unconference to celebrate (of course we also had a bbq party!), and we invited people from our various circles. The topic was ‘Working on Stuff that Matters‘, ‘WSTM’. Some 40 people participated in the unconference, some 20 workshops were held, and it was an event that is still giving us energy almost 18 months later.

We always wanted to create something tangible as an outcome of the event, to create an ‘Epic Sh*t Multiplier’ as we called it on the day. We created an e-book, explaining ‘how to unconference your birthday’. The text was written during the summer of 2010. A professional designer (BUROPONY in Rotterdam, hire them, they’re great!) created the book itself in May/June this year. In the past days we sent out cards to all participants of the unconference to allow them to download the book. We’ll publish the e-book itself online later. Right now it’s a gift for those who attended. A small token of our appreciation for the big gift they gave us by attending the unconference, and the energy and inspiration that is still generating for us. Thank you.

Download it now, read it and share your thoughts on Facebook.

E-book shipping

E-book shipping (photo: Ton Zijlstra)