I Suck, and I’m Sorry…

This is an update I sent out to the USP Journal mailing list yesterday (December 4, 2012).


I’ve failed, miserably, and I’m sorry. I’m writing a somewhat lengthy update now, but there are things I really need to get off my chest and shoulders.

Over the previous years, I’ve been engaged in building an information and knowledge organization named USPJ Academy, including a subsidiary called USPJA Publishing.

It hasn’t worked out, and it’s my fault. I’ve dropped the ball and it’s taken a toll on everything I do, including my motivation for doing anything SharePoint related. In fact, in the past months, I’ve considered dropping out of SharePoint completely; just stop everything, get away, and start something new.

I can’t blame anyone or anything beyond myself. I’ve ultimately been responsible for everything that’s happened, including our inability to make a functioning and profitable company. I’ve been responsible for diverting our attention on far too many diverse operations, diluting our efforts, and making everything less focused.

I’ve had great advice too, and there are a lot of people who can now comfortably say “I told you so”. I didn’t listen, because I was too stubborn to admit I didn’t have the best answers all the time.

Today, we’re not close to realizing any of our potential. When I’ve started focusing on producing new journals, SharePoint Magazine has needed attention, and when I’ve focused a bit on that, then USPJ Academy has demanded work. I’ve been putting out fires for over a year now, not having the strength or motivation to produce anything truly magnificent.

I’ve put close to $250,000.00 and three years of my life into USPJA. I don’t worry about the money, but I do worry that I haven’t been able to turn that time into something that’s working better than it is. I’ve lost all motivation, to the point of being depressed, and I can’t keep living with things the way they are now.

At this point, I don’t know what will happen to a lot of the things we’ve built or acquired. Please don’t ask, I really do not know.  I know what I want to do with some things, like USP Journal, to get back to what was the success formula that spawned all the great ideas we’ve had over the years.

I need to make some changes, partially based on advice I received several years ago, and I need to stop doing everything for a while. I need to start focus on fewer things at a time. I need to get my motivation back.

The alternative for me, I’m afraid, is to stop doing SharePoint completely, and just walk away. I don’t want that.

This affects you, as a USP Journal reader in a couple of ways.

First, I’ve taken USP Journal back from USPJA Publishing. This may not seem like a big deal, but it does mean that the USP Journal is now ‘mine’ again, which is a huge motivational thing for me. In fact, although the change itself is a matter of updating a few addresses here and there, I’ve already gotten a surge of motivation, knowing that I am again back in control over my work. From a couple of weeks ago, when you’ve made a purchase, that purchase has gone to me, and essentially then to the furthering of USP Journal production (rather than funding a different organization with multiple and diverse priorities)

More important is that I’m also going to increase the price of the journals. There are several reasons for this, chief among which is that right now, sales do not cover the costs of production, least of all the time I put into them. My hourly pay is less than three dollars if you count the research, writing, editing, publishing, and promoting of the journals. Put that against the option of working as a consultant for around $200 per hour, and it’s probably easy to see why prioritizing USP Journals is difficult, as much as I love doing it.

Second, when I set the price before the financial bust of the US, the value of a dollar was about 20% higher than it is now. Although I have most of my direct costs (copy editing, hosting, etc) in US dollars, I still live in Norway and pay by bills in a non-US currency. All the work that I do needs to be paid for in Norwegian money, which still is the bulk of the cost of making an issue.

Third, the amount of work I put into each issue is much higher than I originally anticipated. When I wrote the first issue, it took around 48 hours of work from original idea to finished issue. So far, the regular issue that has taken the most time was USPJ 2/2 on SP Designer 2010 Workflows, where the time taken was almost 700 hours. For most issues, it takes around 150-200 hours.

My failure was in assuming that a one-time burst of ideas and productivity I had when I first started USP Journal would be replicable for future issues. I’ve been stubborn over the years by saying that I refuse to increase prices without adding value, but frankly, I’ve been adding value all along (inclusion of videos and other material, extended research, longer issues, etc) without changing the price.

So, as of January 1, 2013, I need to increase the price of a single issue to $19.95. This decreases the break-even point for writing an issue to around 600 sales (right now it’s over 1,000 on average) meaning it’s more likely that I can actually get back what I put into an issue.

This won’t affect any bundle codes you’ve purchased; they still apply for the number of issues you’ve purchased already or purchase before January 1. In fact, this is a great reason for buying a bundle now before the price increase. You get 13 issues for $149.50 or 6 issues for $74.75 and after January 1, the value of those packs will be $259.35 and $119.70 respectively.

http://uspjournal.com/discounts/

The new pricing will also make it possible for me to continue work on some of the issues I have started. I actually have five issues on which I’ve started and made preliminary outlines that I’ve just found I can’t complete. This is in addition to the Introducing SharePoint 2013 series, which I also haven’t been able to complete.

Speaking of Introducing SharePoint 2013, Microsoft released SharePoint 2013 much sooner than anyone anticipated, so I also failed in completing that series in time for RTM release. Normally, that would just encourage me to work even harder to complete quickly, but I was seriously demotivated and didn’t want to just write to get something out. I just can’t get myself to write for the sake of production; I need to feel that what I’m offering is valuable.

I’m sorry that this has meant a longer break in publishing of chapters, but now that I’ve regained at least some of my motivation, I have already started on the next two chapters (which may come out in reverse order, btw).

I’m also sorry, as I’ve said, for failing in other areas. I’m sure I’ll write more about it at some point, but as of now, I’m going to wrap up this lengthy update. I thank all of you for your support during the previous years, and I look forward to getting back in the saddle.

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Bjørn Furuknap

I previously did SharePoint. These days, I try new things to see where I can find the passion. If you have great ideas, cool projects, or is in general an awesome person, get in touch and we might find out together.

4 thoughts on “I Suck, and I’m Sorry…”

  1. Bjorn,

    You don’t suck. You have provided value and great insight as well as perspective to the SharePoint community. Those perspectives have often sparked many discussions that have helped many in the community learn and grow. SharePoint is stronger in part because of your involvement.

    Sometimes the cost of doing business isn’t what is expected. Prices rise, businesses succeed, businesses fail, businesses struggle…you get to experience all of that, but it isn’t because you suck. It is because you are human. Thank You.

  2. Dude, You’re being way too hard on yourself.

    To quote Randy Pausch – “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people!”

    1) Back up. 2) Take a breath. 3) Rethink your approach. 4) Go at it again. 5) Go to step 1 when necessary.

  3. .b,

    Cheer up mate. There are a lot of people out there loving everything you contribute to the community. I really like the way you look at SharePoint and the community, the good and the bad.

    That’s life, ups and downs. I’m sure you’ll find your motivational drive again and will reach great heights again 😉

    Thanks for all your work. Looking forward to more great content from you.

    Best regards!

  4. Dear Sir, being a newbie in SharePoint World, its really great to read and see people like you. Cut short i think what you are really missing is marketing and sponsors .. the USP site contains treasures of SharePoint Knowledge but look and feel of the tttp://uspjournal.com/ and your editions sucks. Sorry to being harsh ! but you need some color work for your site and journals !

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