Managing Yourself

This post introduces an essay with ideas and resources on personal productivity. It is the third in a three-part series on entrepreneurship. 

Like other business owners, I learned along the way and grew into my role as a CEO. Possibly the biggest lesson has been the importance of rigorously, even ruthlessly, managing my time and energy.

In practice, we tend towards self-indulgence and do the things we like to do, or want to do in the moment, rather than those things that help us achieve our goals. Having clear priorities and a sensible approach to managing time has helped me tremendously, and will help you, too.

Click here to read the essay.

Stories 2020: How Did It Go?

In 2017, I began submitting and tracking my fiction writing and then posted updates in 2018 and 2019. How did it go during 2020?

  • In 2020, I submitted versions and revisions of 33 stories 128 times to 64 different outlets. This included 5 contests.
  • Between January 1 and December 31, 2020, I received 114 rejections (including several for stories submitted in 2019) and eight acceptances (6.6%).
  • Several rejection notices included brief comments from editors. A few to give the flavor:
    • “Too much to pack into a flash piece…”
    • “Your avenging aunt is, of course, an attractive character, bringing justice…”
    • “It so accurately shows how cruel kids that age can be! [but] …it’s not quite right for [us].”
    • “Some great details put us immediately on stage… [but] …the narrator is lost in this draft.”

Stories Published in 2020

Seven stories were published by six venues in 2020.

On April 28thMystery Tribune published “Tour De Forest” (910 words, 4 minute read). This story went through several versions prior to finding a home. One outlet requested a stronger “sense of place” which led me to conduct more research on a mountainous region in France, where the story is set. 

On August 4thMicrofiction Monday Magazine published “Business as Usual” (100 words; 1 minute read). I know a guy who knew a guy that wore corduroys with lobsters on them.

On September 5th365tomorrows published “Carried Away Forever” (558 words, 3 minute read). This story started as a contest submission in 2017 soon after the Las Vegas music festival shooting. It was rejected 13 times and went through multiple wholesale rewrites. It came together after switching the narrator from a man to a woman.

On October 30th, London-based Storgy published “Substitutions” (48 words, 1 minute read). The original idea for this microfiction piece arrived while I listened to an NPR story about Thanksgiving family recipes, and a person discussed a few of her favorite (and secret) substitutions.

On November 3rdDaily Science Fiction published “Holes in the Fence” (935 words, 4 minute read). This story found firmer footing after a wonderful person and friend died in 2019. He made powerful arguments with a light touch. “Holes in the Fence” is dedicated to Jim Fendig. 

On December 1stMystery Tribune published “Too Hip to Upgrade” (583 words, 3 minute read). My first published noir story: in a dark, futuristic Beantown, two criminals struggle to cooperate or get the job done.

On December 22nd101 Words published my Christmas-themed “Party Crasher” (101 words, 1 minute read). Based on the comments and emails, this has been one of my most popular pubs to date.

Enjoy the stories and thank you for reading!

Ideas for Managers

This post introduces an essay with advice on managing a business, setting expectations and working with teams. It is the second in a three-part series on entrepreneurship. 

Starting Forisk Consulting was not part of a long-term goal. Rather, it came together serendipitously. When the phone started ringing with questions relevant to my forestry research, the two ingredients required for starting a business presented themselves: a product or service to offer and clients willing to pay for it. 

Since then, I’ve learned a lot about managing. I also absorbed more about insurance, taxes and postage meters than a person needs to know for the afterlife. In this second essay on entrepreneurship, I summarize lessons on managing a business and teams.

Click here to read the essay.

Ideas for Entrepreneurs

This post introduces an essay with advice on starting a business. It is the first in a three-part series

Forisk is not my first business. In elementary school, after reading all of the Encyclopedia Brown mystery books from the local library, I started a detective agency with my younger brother. We had one client and we helped her find a lost dog. She paid us in milk and cookies. They were delicious. 

Over the years, there have been other businesses, in addition to lemon aide stands and lawn mowing. Sometimes the businesses worked out, and sometimes they didn’t. You learn and try again. For this question-and-answer essay, I share a few thoughts on starting a business based on my experiences and what I’ve learned from mentors. 

Click here to read the essay.

Multitasking is a Myth

This post introduces a recent essay on the dangers of multitasking and the importance of deliberately choosing priorities and focusing attention

The world seems determined to manipulate our attention and encourage us to click, buy, like, forward or watch. These actions do more to spark emotions than to create value, meaning or a sense of accomplishment. How can we better flex our mental muscles?

Attempts to multitask degrade our mental performance and reduce personal productivity. Previous research describes the impacts as equal to a 10-point decline in IQ or about the same as pulling an all-nighter. In short, multitasking reduces our intelligence, energy and ability to get things done well.

Click here to read the essay.