Are Freelancers Part of Your Team?

freelancer-593325_1280Did you know that according to, 53 million Americans are freelancers? If you own your own business, you probably have at least one freelancer that makes a significant contribution to your company’s bottom line.

How do you integrate them into your team? Here’s just a few tips to make your freelancers feel like one of the family.

1. Choose wisely. Hire a freelancer like you would an employee. They should fit just as well into your company as your employees do. They should have a similar set of characteristics that made you hire anyone else. It isn’t all about skills or experience, sometimes its about personality types and work ethics.

2. Communication. Actually, this is a major component of any team, employees and freelancers alike. Its also a major flaw in many companies, we don’t communicate enough and we don’t communicate properly.  Create a shared communication environment.

a. Start with email. Each of your employees and freelancers should have an email address that contains the domain of your website. Its very confusing to your clients when they receive an email that isn’t branded with your domain. They can white list you, so that it doesn’t go into their spam folder. Its a trust issue as well, they should know exactly who is sending them an email when it comes from your company. When they leave, disable the email or leave it active if they are a returning resource.

b. Use a cloud based communication tool. I love, but there are many others out there. Keeping all your communication, documents, tasks, milestones, and financial information in one place is a great way to keep the team together despite being in another location or another country. Email is great, but everyone has their own copy of ongoing conversations, email gets dropped, lost, deleted.

3. Manage time, money and status on projects continually.  This one goes for employees too, but is especially important for freelancers since they are invoicing for payment. You should have a simple process in place that lets you know what they did, when they did it, how long it took, how much longer is it going to take and what are they doing tomorrow.

4. Treatment.

 Hire them, train them, bring them into the team. Let them know how long they’ll be needed and give them additional opportunities within the company when possible. If you can’t use them anymore, give them plenty of time to find another position. Involve them in meetings, invite them to company gatherings, take them to lunch. Don’t treat freelancers like a fair weather friend. Send them congratulation emails, thank you notes, include them in your holiday card list, wish them a Happy Birthday. This should be part of your connection process with them, not something you do only when you need them. Recognize that they may have other clients and they’ll need to fit your requirements and projects into their schedule. There is another side to this. Don’t treat freelancers more highly then your employees. Sometimes a freelancer has a specific set of skills and you hire them because your team lacks them. If you treat your freelancer at a higher level, you’ll foster animosity from your employees toward that freelancer. Every one puts their pants on the same way, being a freelancer doesn’t make them more special.

5. Have a back-up plan. Just like employees, things happen to freelancers. They may decide to leave, get sick, go on extended leave, you may even give them a different role. Every one, employee or freelancer should have a back-up plan that includes a manual that helps them decide what to do and a plan in place that helps you replace them for a temporary period or permanently.

Companies may forget to integrate freelancers into the team. A freelancer that is treated like a member of the team will feel more committed to the company and the project. You’ll find that its not all about money, its about how they feel, how they are treated that impacts how they work for your company.


Have You Said the Magic Words?

Now all the magic words you’re mother told you to say are running through your mind.  I’m not talking about Open Sesame or I’m Sorry.  I’m talking about two magic words that you can say to nearly anyone when you ask them to do something and they do it.

Do you remember learning about Please and Thank you?

When you request something from someone, say Please somewhere in the sentence.  Not snidely, or sarcastically, but with genuine sincerity.

“Would you make sure that the xyz report is on my desk by 3pm”,  you tell your assistant.  “I need you to get those fifteen systems setup by tomorrow night.”  I need, I want, I have to have.   Insert a please in there somewhere.

When the report shows up on our desk, the next magic word is “Thank you”.  Instead of “Its about time” or even worse, no response at all, look up, smile and utter the two magic words, “Thank you”. “Thanks” isn’t enough, that’s an automatic response. “Thank you”. Look at yourself in the mirror in the morning and practice it.

At the end of the week, send a quick email repeating the thanks to people you have requested items from.  Thank them for their timely and efficient responses and tell them what it meant to you.  Tell them what impact their efforts have made to your work that week.

If you haven’t done this before, you may be greeted with a bit of doubt.  People may think you’ve lost your mind or are dying of some disease you haven’t informed them of.  Spouses may begin to search your pockets for illicit receipts. They may doubt your intentions.  Keep doing it, they’ll get over it.


UrbanAirship iOS Build Script Tip

UrbanAirship is a company that provides an API to enable a developer to add Push notification capabilities into an iPhone or iPad app.  They also have versions of their API for Android, Windows phone and others are on the way.

In the iOS version, they require the app to have a configuration plist file with a flag that determines if the app is in development mode or in production mode.  As you build for development you set a flag to NO.  When you’re in production mode, you set it to YES.

I don’t want to forget to switch the flag from one mode to another, so I added a build run script to my build process.  UrbanAirship already has a script that checks for the existence of this file, I just added an additional step to edit the flag according to my configuration.

# Copyright 2009-2012 Urban Airship Inc. All rights reserved.
# Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
# modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are
# met:
# 1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
# notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
# 2. Redistributions in binaryform must reproduce the above copyright
# notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
# documentation and/or other materials provided withthe distribution.

echo “Checking for file $SRCROOT/AirshipConfig.plist…”

if [ -f “$SRCROOT/AirshipConfig.plist” ];
echo “Found AirshipConfig.plist, and copying to $TARGET_BUILD_DIR/$EXECUTABLE_FOLDER_PATH”

if [ “${CONFIGURATION}” = “Debug” ]; then
echo “DEBUG Mode: Setting AirshipConfig.plist APP_STORE_OR_AD_HOC_BUILD to NO”
echo “AdHoc or Dist Mode: Setting AirshipConfig.plist APP_STORE_OR_AD_HOC_BUILD to YES”
if [[ -n “APP_STORE_OR_AD_HOC_BUILD” ]]; then
# if key doesn’t exist, add it
/usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c “Add :APP_STORE_OR_AD_HOC_BUILD $dist_key” ${infoplist}
# and if key already existed, update it
/usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c “Set :APP_STORE_OR_AD_HOC_BUILD $dist_key” ${infoplist}


echo “Did not find AirshipConfig.plist”

I Must Vent

I’ve been an insulin pump enthusiast since 2007.  I took a break for financial and to rest my weary stomach area, but I’m still an enthusiast, not a user.  My pump ran its life to its end this month and I received a call from Medronic, expressing their interest on renewing our relationship and getting me a new pump.

That means lots of forms to fill out, Dr appointments and so on.  So I began the process.  A bit behind the wheel before I even began, since December represents the end of the year and the end of my 2012 insurance deductible.  A new insulin pump is a major investment with our without the deductible, but not even a consideration without my insurance company kicking in.

The insurance company insisted on new paperwork as if I was a new pump user.  That means I had to see my Dr on the last Saturday before the end of the year.  I was seen and paperwork was signed and sent in on Saturday.

Phone call early this morning and a pump representative says the paperwork wasn’t received.  No problem, I have my own copy.  Scanned my copy and sent it in.  Received another call later in the day, the paperwork isn’t properly filled in.  The Dr office crossed of the Dr name and didn’t fill in with the new Dr.  Phone calls back and forth, we can’t identify the Dr information.  I managed to call the local pharmacy and use the internet to identify all the information.  The next phone call told me I had wasted my time, the forms have to be filled in again with the correct information and resent.

I’ve been rejected for the new pump.  Lessons learned?

1. Start the process on my own earlier.  If you need something done, you need to do it yourself.

2. The insurance company has nothing to gain, from their perspective, on getting me new equipment, supplies or medicine.  Don’t rely on the insurance company to initiate, process or complete any request.

3. Medtronic did their best to complete the request.  Or did they?  Shouldn’t someone have double checked the forms on Saturday before everyone closed for the year?  Instead of working with three or more people, couldn’t there have been a concierge type of person to make sure the process was completed properly?

4. I’m sure my Dr felt that putting me in at the last minute was above and beyond what was required and I agree.  Perhaps someone could have checked to make sure the paperwork was filled out properly and received properly?

Perhaps I’m asking too much.  Perhaps not enough.  The pump company will be without me as a customer.  The insurance company will be happy that I will be saving money.  I will be the one with the possibility of another year of high numbers, needles, and looming complications.

Ah, life goes on, doesn’t it?

iPad Printing

I have a great printer.  It does everything I need it to do except it isn’t AirShare compatible. That means I can’t print from my iPad using AirShare.  I also use my iPad away from from my normal WIFI connection quite a bit.  Enter Dropbox, my Mac with an Automator folder action and an app on the iPad – PDF Printer.

How to Print from your iPad from Anywhere with an Internet Connection

1. Create a folder in Dropbox.  You can call it anything you like, I called mine PrintQueue

2. Open Automator and choose Folder Action

3. Select the Choose folder dropdown and select the folder you created in step 1

4. Select Utilities/Print Finder Items and drag it over to your workflow

5. Select Files & Folders/Move Finder Items to Trash and drag it over to your workflow

6. Save it

7. Purchase and install PDF Printer for iPad onto your iPad

8. Open PDF Printer for iPad

9. Click on the settings icon on the left

10. Enter your credentials for your Dropbox account

Anytime you want to print from your iPad

1. Click on the browser icon on the left (Its the second one down)

2. Enter the URL you want to create into a PDF and print (Copy the URL in the Safari browser)

3. Tap the convert button in the upper right

4. Tap Convert to PDF

5. Enter a filename (Anything will do, you’ll be deleting it later)

6. Tap OK

7. Tap the Adobe icon on the left, it will have a NEW notification alert on it

8. Tap the share icon on the right next to the item you want to print

9, Tap Send to Dropbox

10. Select the PrintQueue folder (Or whatever you called it)

11. Tap Put Here

When you return to your default printer, you’ll find anything that was in the Dropbox folder is now on your printer.






Linking Your WordPress Self-Hosted Blog with Klout

Klout?  Do you have any?

What is Klout?  Klout is yet another website that measures your social media influence.  What the heck does that mean and why do you care?  You can’t improve anything without measuring it.  Klout provides a complex algorithm to measure your score across the networks and topics you participate in.  For more detailed information, stop by their website.

Ok, I’ve resisted Klout long enough to let it perk and see what happens to my score.  Without much effort, I’m up to 38.  But I’m not taking full advantage yet.  I’ve been slowly adding my various networks and inviting my friends in each in order to see the impact each change makes on my score.

The most recent one I’ve added is my WordPress self-hosted blog.  Now, you might have heard otherwise, that this Klout feature is only for blogs, not for self-hosted blogs.  I’ve got a way to link to my self-hosted blog, thanks to a WordPress plugin called JetPack.

Here’s what I did:

1. I signed up with for an account

2. I logged into my self-hosted WordPress blog and added a new plugin.  I searched for “JetPack” in the terms box and installed the JetPack plugin

3. Up at the top of the plugin’s settings page, I connected to WordPress by clicking on the big blue button that says “Connect to WordPress”

4. I entered my login and password

5. I Authorized JetPack to access my account by clicking on the Authorize Jetpack button

6. I visited my Klout profile, edited the settings and clicked on the Connected Networks link

7. I clicked on the WordPress W button and entered my login for the account I created in the first step

8. I also checked on to make sure that the blog was listed.

Who knows how this will impact my score.  I’ll let you know.


Oh Wow

Steve Jobs’ sister, Mona Simpson wrote a beautiful eulogy for her brother.  It brought tears to my eyes.  She chose to be a writer so she could give him this gift, a send off, a tribute to a very special man, father, husband and a visionary and dreamer whose last words expressed his entire life: Oh Wow, Oh Wow, Oh Wow.  I hope we all get to see the same thing you saw, Steve.  Thank you Mona.

A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs –

Now That’s Customer Service

I love Apple products, even if the shopping experience was terrible, I’d probably still purchase them for their quality and content.

When I read a story like the one below, I realize that it isn’t just the products themselves, it’s the experience and people that make me want to come back.

10-year-old girl has memorable experience at Apple Store

What can you do to make every customer’s shopping trip a wonderful experience?

Steve Jobs – Rest in Peace

Steve JobsMany years ago I did a bit of programming on a hugely expensive computer named Lisa. Years later, i saved up to buy my first Mac. It had no hard disk, just double floppy drives and an amazing ability to outshine my PC. It actually spoke. A colorful IMac and laptop followed. My first Macbook Pro lightened my backpack weight, eliminating my need for a heavy PC laptop.

Today, i have an iPhone, an IPad 2, a 27 inch iMac and a Macbook Pro. One or more of them are always with me. Steve Jobs is responsible for making technology accessible and portable. His innovative ideas and his ability to lead others to implement them changed our lives.

Steve Jobs died peacefully with his family around him. I hope he was able to die knowing his innovations had a huge impact on our day to day lives. He goes down in history with many others who changed our lives.

Apple, the company he co-founded, was removed from, rescued from near bankruptcy and ultimately led to being one of the world’s most valuable companies, will go on without him. I hope that it will pick up the vision and move beyond it, above it. I hope they learn to stop asking themselves ‘What would Steve do?’. Instead, concentrating on solving the problems that technology can solve and sometimes creates.

Steve has a lesson for us all. He loved what he did for a living. He rose every morning and lived it to the fullest. Steve, you will be missed, but thanks to your visionary mind, you will be remembered and your legacy will live on.

Surgery day

In this morning at 7:30 and in recovery by 9. Everything went fine, no complications. Home at 5. Tired, shoulder hurts, but i’m eating and coping with no shower for one week!

Thanks for the well wishes. Typing with one hand!