Updating My Personal Plan

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 02/01/2012

I’m a big believer in the personal mission. Two thinkers codified this for me: the first, Guy Kawasaki, the original Mac software evangelist, in his book Selling The Dream, where he laid out the 1-Page Plan philosophy, where everything worth understanding should be communicable in 1-page, or else you’re not thinking clearly. Such 1-pagers start out with the overarching mission statement, which is neither to broad to be meaningless not so specific that it is inflexible. Like Goldilocks’ porridge, it’s just right. The rest of the page is about 4 points, each with about 4 sub-points. It’s just the right size for memorization and reinforcement.

The second thinker to codify a personal mission statement is Peter Drucker in his book Managing in Times of Great Change, in which he says that the only reason a knowledge worker should work for a company is because he/she can be MORE productive with access to the company’s resources than without—only bringing to the picture his or her unique competencies that the company would not otherwise have. In other words, a knowledge worker is responsible for his or her own career, and carries it around like a toolbox from place to place.

In my mind, Drucker’s vision of a modern worker in the information age melds with Kawasaki’s call for clear-minded thought and planning. The result is a personal mission statement that you can easily memorize and use to keep you on-track towards your goals, no matter where you happen to be working. So many people’s identities are wrapped up in where they work and the nuances of their particular situation, but that path sets you up for dependency and disruption. It is better to extract the broader, universally applicable principles that you can carry with you wherever you go—reflected in your personal plan.

My personal mission has meandered and drifted over the years. I have written and re-written it countless times over the years, but that’s okay—to a point. There have always been large commonalities, and it has worked for me for the most part. I am fairly happy with where I am, but I am only 41 years old, and everything thus far is probably my first 2 acts—or maybe more accurately, one and a half. I am now in that most pivotal of time periods where I set the stage for Act III.

I need a good plan as I wind down Act II, preparing for my third act—one that can help me propel my career forward, create more free time in my life, and help make a positive impact on the world. There are wonderful endeavors on this planet, and I feel the two latest that I would have liked to have been me are the $35 computer, Rasperry Pi, and the teach-anyone-to-program Codeacademy. But no worries. There is always room to enhance other endeavors and connect dots that no one else is seeing.

In this case, it is becoming (and helping people to become) just really technically savvy through-and-through. By that, I mean a totally engaging student-like curriculum that provides both practical hands-on coding savvy, like Codeacademy, but also gives you such fundamentals that you could burn your own computers from sand given the right fab equipment—or assemble from Legos given enough pieces.

Having freshly read the Steve Jobs bio and the Neil Stephenson’s scifi book Diamond Age (about teaching kids to program), all these notions are swirling around in my head, combining with having a 15-month old baby daughter, plus having recently made the switch off Windows over to Unix/Linux. Like any good story arc, I feel waves of crisis and mounting tension, building up to the climax. I imagine that climax is still years away, as I’ve got half my life in me—but I should at least be building the tension to new heights.

And I suppose that in the end, this is the mission of my new one-page plan for life.

MISSION: Re-invent myself around a love-worthy endeavor that propels me at work, stirs global excitement, frees up more time, and helps me to raise my child.

OBJECTIVES

  1. Define a development platform that is deserving of love and durable for life.
  2. Actually use that platform to remarkable effect at work and in a public way.
  3. Passionately teach others how to improve their lives by using the platform.
  4. Achieve enough financial success so that I may freely control my lifestyle.

STRATEGIES

  1. Define a development platform that is deserving of love and durable for life.
    • Describe merits of continuously improving expertise on a small toolset.
    • Prescribe my particular special toolset recipe and provide the reasons.
    • Make readily available a run-anywhere download instance of this platform.
    • Build-in insanely useful feedback mechanisms that addict and motivate.
  2. Actually use that platform to remarkable effect at work and in a public way.
    • Design a system to help people become technical and achieve their dreams.
    • Use system as intended to get word out and continually refine in public.
    • Build in money-making features that have the potential snowball effect.
    • Get all those tiny details right that in the end make all the difference.
  3. Passionately teach others how to improve their lives by using the platform.
    • Create a compelling story, elevator pitch, and a cool way to roll it out.
    • Try to turn every day into a opportunity to publish what I’ve done.
    • Build-in the perfect documentation to make anyone an expert on the system.
    • Turn this into an open source curriculum that I use with my own child.
  4. Achieve enough financial success so that I may freely control my lifestyle.
    • Keep your eyes on the prize - make it as interesting as anything in life.
    • Build a “tribe” around your work, who can take it over in your absence.
    • Design the system to reward you financially with low work and maintenance.
    • Make it cleverly directly rewarding, like the milliondollarhomepage.com.