Monday, September 30, 2013

My Truck Buddy needs a new home...

It's got to be some sort of cosmic irony when a moving company has to move...

MTB HQ has been at it's Alexandria, VA location for almost three years. As with almost every good thing that's happened with the business, it was complete dumb luck that brought us here. I'd been looking for a place to house our growing fleet, so I put an ad on Craigslist for parking. I figured it would be a one-in-a-million shot if anyone responded, and if I could afford it. A couple of days later I got a response -- "I have some parking for you. Need office space too?" I thought office space would be a luxury we couldn't afford, but when I got the price, I realized it was very do-able.

It might be too melodramatic to say that whatever success we've had has been due to our awesome location and access to the city, but not too much. It's been great. Heck -- we can even walk to the office from the Metro station.

My Truck Buddy's formerly bustling world headquarters. 
Alas, our building was purchased by a group that's going to renovate it and put some kind of school in here. We have the option of coming back in the spring -- minus the parking. As you can see in the pic, our formerly bustling hub of commerce and activity is a ghost town. It's a very sad place. All the master craftsmen who used this space have moved on, leaving us alone in one corner of a big warehouse. It's quiet and lonely, and definitely feels like the passing of an era. Sad face.

We have a few workable options on the table, but basically we need an official HQ. Ideally, a place with parking and small administrative offices. (We can ALMOST run the business on our laptops in coffee shops, but our bodies can only handle so much caffeine, and we'd need a lot to justify fourteen hour stays at the local Starbucks...) SUPER ideally, we'd need find an affordable place with storage, too.

And, of course, our sister company Rent Our Boxes needs a new home as well.

So, if you know of anyone who's looking to rent some space in the Del Ray area of Alexandria (again, ideally -- we can take only so much change), let me know. We're considering everything, including renting a room out of somebody's house, if indeed you can do that legally. (We already have a backup plan for parking if absolutely necessary...) We have three 16-foot box trucks that can fit in normal (as in "not compact") parking spaces. Our equipment can go into the trucks for the most part.

Thanks! (Here's to one-in-a-million chances).


Friday, September 27, 2013

DC first-time homebuyer advice

Looking to buy a home in DC? These folks have some advice.

Me, I'm more of a suburbs guy myself, but I can understand the thrill of living with rampant crime, corrupt government officials, and gridlock. ;-)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Time management: The Cat Wrangling Method

A common theme with the “gurus,” those self-proclaimed experts in business, real estate, fianance, or what-have-you, is time management. Some of it’s great, some of it is horrible or too horribly complicated to apply to your own unique situation. Having digested a lot of it, I’ve settled on a system that’s working very, very well for me:

I call it cat wrangling.

Quick background: I’m in a somewhat unique situation that seems like it’s going to be the reality for several more months. I’m a homebound dad taking care of my pregnant wife, three kids, and running a business based forty miles from my house. (Well, technically I run two businesses, but Jimmy at Rent Our Boxes is ably doing EVERYTHING on that front. If I made any money with that business, it would be a perfect situation.) My time is extremely limited. I’m unaware of any book, tape, MP3 or DVD series entitled “Running a moving business for a stay-at-home dad with three hyperactive children.” So, I have to do my own thing.

I’ve tried numerous things to keep on top of it all. For a while I’d take Sunday night to schedule every single thing on my To Do list. I had a spreadsheet with three columns: Ideas, Projects and To Dos. I dumped every random thought into the Ideas column. Later, if it was a big, multi-faceted idea, I’d put it on the Projects list. Then I’d break down all the apparent components and put those in the To Do column. When it was time to move on them, I’d put the To Dos on the calendar.

As things got busier, that system transmogrified into one where I’d just block out hours of time for things like “Content creation,” “Administrative catch-up,” “Email” or “Marketing.”

The problem with both systems was that if just one crisis or fire broke out, the whole week was off schedule, which, after a few weeks of that, could really destroy motivation. And every single day, there’s a crisis.

After several months of that frustrating system, I tried video games. Whenever I had a crushing workload with no discernable light at the end of the tunnel, I’d just play Angry Birds. That worked out AWESOME for a while, if the standard is “stress reduction and finding all the golden eggs,” but the downer is that not a hell of a lot got done.

Which brings me to cat wrangling. It’s a lot like the video game time management system, except I don’t play video games, but I don’t schedule anything either. Or, very, very little. Perhaps the best way to describe it is as a “project-based” system. That is, instead of trying to herd all these cats (To Do’s) at once, which is frustratingly slow and inefficient, I just grab that one calico and force him into the cage until we’re both bleeding and weeping. It hurts, and the other cats are afraid and confused and go into hiding, but you know what? The project gets done.

You have to be a certain level of crazy to try to get an uncooperative cat into a cage. Or, your love for the little critter’s health and/or safety has to be strong enough to disregard his “concerns” about incarceration in a little plastic box. I care deeply for the projects and mission of My Truck Buddy, so I don’t mind a few scratches. And I’m going to ever get this thing to a point where I can say “We did it. We’ve arrived,” it’s not going to be by trying to do 100 things at the same freaking time.

One cat at a time. The rest will get their turn. This new time management system is, for me, the best yet. I’m a horrible multitasker but a great procrastinator. I’m basically just using my natural skills. Hah.

Friday, September 13, 2013

And here's a pic of me as Mr. Mom and CEO

Bed rest and house arrest

We're expecting our new little girl in about a month-and-a-half. Well, more like any day now. Since my wife is prone to premature labor, the doctor has put her on bed rest, which means I'm basically on house arrest. Let me tell you, that's been a challenge for a whole bunch of reasons. But you know what? There's a whole lot of good in this.

Namely, it gives me an opportunity to test all those lofty principles I preach to the guys on a regular basis. I'm talking about perseverance, service, self-control, time management, and gratitude, among other things. I want to talk about gratitude.

I am so grateful for -- and amazed at -- at what my wife accomplishes on a daily basis. While I've been doing what I used to call "hard," she's been subjected to a daily crucible known as "motherhood." Don't get me wrong -- I've always known, in theory, how difficult her job is. On the occasional day when I had to watch the kids for a few hours while she would selfishly go get her nails done for the year, after two hours I'd whip out the phone to passive-aggressively ask when she'd be home. Every. Five. Minutes. "Hey--everything's under control here, but I really don't have time to fold laundry when I've got TPS reports to do..."

Every day I come home and the house is, compared to my bachelor past, immaculate. I've never asked for or demanded such a thing (#1, I'm not an idiot, and #2, I was never raised with the idea of "women's work." Quite the contrary, actually). But she considers it a point of pride. And while she's worked her fingers to the bone to do it, she's created, in her words, "a safe place to land." I wouldn't say I never appreciated it before, but I can safely say that I never appreciated it enough.

This is hard. Back-breaking, soul-crushing, emotions-testing hard. It's one thing to keep a household of five (soon to be six) in order, but to do it when three (or four, if you count me) of those in your care are seditious little traitors who will destroy a room WHILE you're putting it together, well, that doesn't just take grace -- it takes supernatural grace.

She's done it for years while I grind it out "in the field." My challenges are significant, but after this week where I've primarily been doing her job, with mine as a brief afterthought, I will never again blithely text her "You're doing great -- just be tough and I'll be home in six hours."

Oh boy. So many times per day I want a time machine to go back and slap myself in the face before I say or do something stupid. So. Many. Times.

So here's to you, hon. Enjoy your down time. I know it's not all Bon Bons and cabernet in the last stretch of a pregnancy, but I hope you can get a few minutes of peace, at least.