Dear Universe....

Today, I submitted this here:

Hello? Universe? 
I know I haven't talked to you in a while, but I really need your help.
If you recall, the last time I asked for your help, you gave me the strength to leave home at 16 in order to escape my emotionally destructive Aunt and sexual abuse by my cousin.  And I think I have been paying it forward ever since. But, I sometimes wonder if I have done something wrong to anger you. 
Just to bring you up to date...  I have been working in software development for quite a few years now (20+) with a focus on the Education industry.  I also serve as a mentor on Codementor.io/tekNorah and love working with creatives, like yourself, to get things done!  About four years ago, I quit my "day job" and started working as an Independent Software Engineer and Project Director for Small to Medium-sized businesses in the Manufacturing, Automation and Integration spaces.  My previous experiences convinced me that Innovation is Dead for Corporate America and helped to expose my real passion: the Freelancer community! 
Currently, I am focused on building a Freelancers Network for like-minded people that want to work with other independent freelancers on larger brand/web projects. The network consists of Dev, Design and Brand professionals, with a range of skill levels and rates with the goal of budget flexibility, while remaining focused on quality.
I am asking for your help one more time.  Would you mind sending me some paying clients? I know it is a bit tough for everyone out there right now.  But, I think I might just not be barking up the right tree or something.  Rent is really late this month and my relationship with my roommate us really shaky right now.  Plus, my husband is going crazy because he is without his instruments for over 2 years now, which we had to sell in order to eat at the time. 
We have a food bank nearby and moved up to Vancouver, WA in January this year, in order to let the green heal us and it has done a great thing for us.  But, it is starting to look very grim and I don't want to crash and burn so far from family. 
Just a reminder, our rent and bills are only $615 per month.  I am willing to wait, but we are also down to paper towels for toilet paper.  Ultimately, I just need some traction, so we get enough together to buy an RV and buy my Husband's music and recording equipment back. I know you want to hear his art and it breaks my heart to see him this way.  He is so patient and loving.  If it were just me, I would just live in a shelter right now.  But, he wouldn't do well in there and would end up homeless, I just know it.

Thank you for listening!

If you or anyone else needs some help with their website, software or project management, please reach out to me anytime. My email is: tekNorah@tekAura.com or message me using the social links at the bottom of my about.me page.

If you think I'm awesome sauce and just want to donate, you can send me money directly via paypal.me/tekAura or subscribe for rewards on Patreon.

And if anyone needs help with money, please check out this website.  Who knows? Maybe your story will resonate.


Freelancing In A Nutshell

I never thought my first post on LinkedIn Pulse would be about a talent service. But, here I go. I have been a freelance software developer and project manager for almost 3 years. Yay?!

My biggest challenge on this journey has been finding clients that can afford to keep me interested. People love to work with me, not because I am a yes person, but because I am patient, friendly and a realist.

Unfortunately, this often results in clients that don't live up to my expectations. Often, these clients do not make essential decisions and/or do not provide essential information in order for me to provide the level of quality I have promised. So, I found myself transitioning from Independent Software Developer to Project Manager. Sufficient requirements gathering is hard. But, it also absolutely necessary for success.

This is where I hope toptal will fill in the gaps. I myself have thought about starting my own talent agency and/or creating a project management tool the freelancer/small business space. Honestly, I probably will still do it. But, I need to regain my lost capitol first. Toptal appears to be the most promising option on the market right now. Where many other freelance bidding platforms fail, toptal would succeed.
Job Bidding Simply Does not Work

Freelancer and Upwork is filled with employers who want to pay too little for quality work and in turn this attracts low-skilled workers who overpromise and underdeliver. Sound familiar to anyone?

Essentially, this system is flawed at its core. If you allow someone to ask for a logo for $5, they will do it and they will get bidders for $1 or $3. However, what guarantee do you have that the work is original? What if you get caught? Are you ready for a lawsuit over a $2 logo? I wouldn't want to be that person.

I mean, if you are willing to spend $600 on your iPhone, why can't you spend at least half of that on the logo that represents your brand, your reputation as a new business owner.

As a freelancer looking for legitimate work, I have bid on 1000's of jobs on these websites over the past couple years and none have ever turned out.
Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Ok, so, these leads are not a good match, right? Right. But, I still believe in the quality work and fair compensation in the freelancer community. Everyone knows that you are only as good as your next contract. Well, what if all contracts were good. No, what if they were great?!

Toptal's concept appears to addresses this issue. Not only do they screen their freelancers, but they also screen client contracts.

So, I applied today and I will continue to post about my Toptal experience as a freelance developer.

Don't let me down Toptal Web development community, don't let me down. I want to join your community.


Market Research for the Entrepreneur

Primary and Secondary market research are the two basic types of market research.  Secondary market research is available, often at little to no cost through Trade Associations, Public and Government resources.  This type of research is often performed first because it gives you a general sense of viability and feasibility within a particular market sector or geographic location.  Detailed census data, for instance, can tell you about the consumer's attitude and tendencies. Primary market research's purpose is to provide specific feedback on consumer interest in an offering.  It is important to be careful to use a method that is appropriate for your target market. As mentioned by Karen Plesner in Part II of her video, using online surveys are only useful if people are willing or able to fill out a survey.

It is often difficult to determine how valuable a particular research activity will be to your bottom line.  However, it is often the assumption that market research is worth its weight in Gold.  Most will determine a marketing budget, then spend as smartly as possible, creating a diversified plan that addresses the highest priority marketing activities first. As a start-up, it is a good idea for the entrepreneur to start by focusing on secondary market research in order to determine market saturation and identify competitors.  This research, in particular, should help to determine your initial offering, to include the four P's: Product, Price, Promotion & Place. If these estimates warrant further research, an entrepreneur should follow up with primary research activities in order to solidify these assumptions. Primary research activities should start before launch and continue as part of their iterative innovations in order to gain momentum and become sustainable in the chosen market sector.  The entrepreneur should think of secondary research as a way to discover and verify which target market with which you need to focus your primary research activities.

Market research is often perceived too expensive or difficult for the entrepreneur to perform on their own.  Due to this, there is a market for Market Research!  If you are fortunate enough to have venture capital before research activities are performed, you could subscribe or contract with a market research firm.  However, keep in mind, there are many free resources available to the entrepreneur.  There is no set dollar amount that represents a successful marketing strategy.  A start-up should be prepared to invest most, if not all of its available funds, after expenses, into market research activities during the initial phases. Every minute the entrepreneur uses on performing their own research also increases the company’s knowledge, which will tie directly into the attractiveness of the start-up to potential investors and clients.

Ultimately, the entrepreneur should perform marketing research prior to any direct advertising.  It is not only a waste of resources, but also very frustrating when you find out that your advertising efforts have fallen on deaf ears.

The above excerpt was an initial response to Week 1's Discussion Question in the Market Research for Entrepreneurs course at Full Sail University by Shannon "Norah" Medlin.


Norah's 2¢: 5 Reasons Why Receiving Is Harder Than Giving

Thank you for this soothing camaraderie.  Coming from an abusive childhood, I  have developed a deep disdain for narcissistic behavior.  So much, that at times, I have to fight hard against the association of guilt when receiving a gift.  Last year, I quit my Corporate job to


Norah's Notebook: Why Innovation does not belong in Corporate America

Since leaving the corporate grind last year (haha! I can say that now!) and restarting my Software Development firm, tekAura, I have come across many articles in the start-up community that keep on selling our secrets upstream.  The only saving grace is that I don't believe the corporate goons are capable of comprehending the underlying message. Anyone that has been a part of a corporate innovation initiative or two, or three hundred... you know what I mean!  It takes a unique kind of person to recognize the fallacy in these efforts.  After all the paper prizes and shiny internal disposable marketing packages, some of start wonder.... where is the change they keep talking about?  And one day, you stop, take a moment to look around and find yourself in a sea of drones, a sea of vacant button pushers.  Then you realize why everyone thinks you are nuts!  You make them look bad, you make them work harder.  Those people don't want to help, they don't believe they matter.  Why?  Because you have proven to them time and again they are worth less than the dirt from the smoking corner out in the parking lot.  So, no wonder you can't innovate.  You don't listen, you don't include, you don't care.  Whether because passion and drive is beaten out of you over the first 5 years of dedicated service or because you have given in to the executive bottom line requirements, management continues to struggle to translate your hidden agenda in actionable results on the cutting floor.  For this and many other reasons I will likely detail for the rest of my life, I was inspired to write the following comment on an article titled, Stop Stifling Entrepreneurs in Your Company:

Corporate environments have never and will never be truly interested in innovation.  While some, like Google and Pixar may carry the intention forward, there will always come a point, due to it's sheer mass, when the demands of production quantity exceeds quality.  If left to their own devices, Executives are much more interested in acquiring Entrepreneurship capital after most of the Research & Development activities have been completed, which is the most expensive part of any project.  They would much rather purchase a product during its maintenance phase and ride it until it retires, maintaining warranty contracts and neatly billable work hours.  Entrepreneurship is innately risky, most do not have the guts for it.  Even those of us that do are constantly seeking a formula for ensuring success.  It is this unique individual, this brave soul, who should and does rightly serve society well by being ahead of the curve and willing to release a project at its peak potential.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it...   More and more Entrepreneurs are leaving the Corporate facade for rough waters and choosing not to create a rapid business development portfolio that only adds superfluous layers to the start-up soup, but rather, build a small B2B firm.  These creative houses incorporate social responsibility into every project and drive true innovation within the economy.  The most sustainable ones stay small and flexible.

Year in Review & Future Ambitions

Every year, about this time, most humans on this earth participate in some form of the New Years Resolution. This peculiar ritual was practiced the ancient Babylonians, Romans and continues to be deeply entrenched in tradition for Christians, Jews and Catholics. Being born and raised, but, ironically, never baptised, by a strange mix of Christian denominations, I was free to extend my religious studies into many others.  And have since developed my personal belief system, which includes a form of this practice.

As a natural Engineer and Project Manager, I tend to contemplate a sort of casual postmortem.  Instead of simple list of things that I wish I would have done better, I tend to perform a more detailed analysis with several areas of incremental improvement.  Ironically, seldom do I write it down this internalization.  However, this year has been especially tumultuous and I find it helpful, if not necessary to post it here.

The year began halfway through our first year's lease at our current residence at Missions Springs Apartments in Tempe, AZ.  Working at University of Phoenix as a Technical Support Analyst for 2 1/2 years, I was growing cynical and tired of the dead end corporate world.  I had come to realize that no matter what feat of intellectual prowess or participation, I was left abandoned at the bottom of IT pit. The depth of despair plummeted as the middle of the year approached and I reached a certain logic that the corporate world was no longer the adventure that I had once hoped.

In June, my frustrations with destructive micro management had reached a peak.  With a prospective freelance contract on the horizon, I jumped ship and cashed in on my savings.  This extreme disgust propelled me to leave the corporate life behind permanently.  In preparation for this realized independence, I enrolled in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Masters of Arts Degree at Full Sail University in September.  The program is extremely accelerated.  Each to be completed in only four weeks.  This week, I started my fourth course, Market Research for Entrepreneurs.  A more lengthy review of the program will be sure to follow.  However, for now, suffice it to say that quality education is determined by the student, not the faculty.

I ended up taking leave from the program for the month of December in order to focus on some contractual responsibilities, family and come up for air before plunging head long again into the chilly rugged rapids of the great river of Business.  Feeling prophetic in the coming of the New Year, I find myself wading in the calm pools between each challenging rapid.  I am reminded of a great movie, The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Those of us in the Molly Brown Fan Club love the rapids, we grunt and scream and cry, we persevere and hunker down and ride out the rough patches, to arrive on top, a hootin' and holler'n.

Ok, ok, enough of that... I think my cowgirl genes are peeking out... :)

Back to the subject at hand.... My plans, you ask?
 My ambitions, you are seeking?  Yes, well....

Besides all the selfish usual wishes and hopes to improve health, find time to play and move into a house (finally!!), in the spirit of Entrepreneurship, I would rather focus on mission and vision.

Without revealing too much of the boring detail, we are getting BIZ-aYY over here!!!  A comprehensive plan is about to launch, my friends.  This is a year of big changes.  Business ideas and plans are coming to fruition.  Our innovation engine is going to be taking a few thousand laps.  We are building revenue streams, creating new channels. Video channels, that is.  And networking, lots and lots of networking.  All of you that have paid attention, that have stuck with us and proven your worth.  We are soon to call upon your talents!  Lets build something significant, something to be proud of, something.... well, that just doesn't suck!


Google thinks Custom means Suggested

I am finding myself disappointed by our supposed innovation star, Google.  Maybe I just haven't been paying close enough attention or maybe it is because I am starting to see the world through a small business owner's perspective.  But with the recent hoopla about their YouTube Content ID service changes, I am should be surprised to find out that Google+ does not actually offer Custom URLs.  They are just Suggested URLs.  Their community Help page states that there is no review system or option to choose an alternate URL.  Meantime, posts on the page by users indicate that the option was available at one point, but everyone is getting rejection emails.

Google!  Ewe dun fuk'ed it up again!

Although these options do match my name on my profile, I don't want to use my name, I want to use my USERNAME.

Whatever happened to anonymity.  Does google not value it?  Another idea for a blog post, maybe..... hmmm....

Please leave your comments below.

FYI - I am thinking of switching to Wordpress or Drupal sooner than later, being unsatisfied with the limited commenting options available for Google's Blogger. What I really want is something like Comments Evolved which allows readers to comment in any way they prefer.

Is it time for a YouTube clone?

With all of the recent Content ID matching issues on YouTube, I am starting to seriously consider creating my own video hosting website as a replacement.  This would be an Open Innovation organization using copyleft licensing like Creative Commons, encouraging fair use content with an ad-revenue structure.

This type of venture would require a CDN (Content Delivery Network) that already supports this structure and if none exists, the creation of a new CDN.

The basis of this desire stems from the strong belief that IP Claims abuse is rampant and growing.  If we don't restrain corporate interests from being able to undermine the legal system in this manner, they will destroy the creativity movement entirely.  Worldwide, we are facing the potential for total disaster at every turn.  If we continue to discourage creativity and innovation in the same manner, we will surely experience further recession and other potential consequences.

Would you be interested in participating in this type of venture and/or do you know of any other organizations that are already attempting a media website like this?  Please leave a comment on this subject.  I would like to know what you think.

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Norah's Notebook: Artist or the Clay?

Video 1.8 - Design Thinking: Bringing Empathy and Collaboration To Your Designs

The perfectionist in me can't stop from noticing that the first video in this series covered the 3rd and 4th points. Where the second/last video covered the first two points. But, I digress.... This program is really trying to drive home the point that good product design is intuitive. Being a female engineer, I am intimately familiar with this concept. I find myself wondering if the world if starting to catch on to my personal passions surrounding open innovation and creativity or if I am being shaped by this world. Am I the artists hands and is the world my clay or is it the other way around?


engineeringdotcom. (2012). Design Thinking. Bringing Empathy and Collaboration to Your Designs. Engineering.com. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-tQJ9RHKRw

engineeringdotcom. (2012). Integrative Thinking and Experimentalism in Design Thinking. Engineering.com. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_kc80XumZY