Do Your Actions Reflect Your Priorities?

[youtube http://youtu.be/WxfZkMm3wcg]

I am truly, wholeheartedly, fully and utterly in love with this video. It’s about seizing the day. Carpe diem. Making it count. Your life, your days, your thoughts, your actions. It’s inspirational on so many levels and a reminder that life is too short.

I love to travel and I love to explore new places. My actions definitely express that (I travel quite often for work, but I do lots of personal travel as well.) I feel compelled to explore new places, as if I were a Spanish explorer braving the Atlantic in a previous life. The video deeply resonated with me on that level.

One of the best quotes used in the video is Gandhi’s, “action expresses priorities.” How true is that. We always have the time for things we think are important. So next time you hear someone say, “I’m sorry, but I wish I had the time,” you should know that they mean, “I’m sorry, but this is not a priority of mine.”

What are your priorities in life and do your actions reflect that? What compels you and are you doing it?

Hackomotive is Not Your Daddy’s Hackathon

After running internal hackathons at Edmunds.com for the past four years, I got to run my very first public hackathon at the company last week: Hackomotive: Reinventing the Car Shopping Experience. Our goal was to reinvent the car shopping process to make consumers love buying cars the way they do an iPhone or an item off of Amazon: simple, pleasurable and easy.

Hackomotive wasn’t going to be your typical hackathon where the participants needed to build a software prototype in order to win. This was going to be a business focused hackathon where prototypes of any kind, software or otherwise, were permissible as long as they told the story behind the proposed solution.

It was also going to be an Edmunds-sponsored hackathon. Translation: it’s going to be first class. This wasn’t going to be your daddy’s typical hackathon. This was going to be an event.

And it was 🙂

The idea for Hackomotive was born on June 11, 2012, after I got back from frog’s Reinvent Business Hackathon in San Francisco. I was so inspired by that event that I suggested to the Chairman of Edmunds.com, Peter Steinlauf, that we hold a similar event at Edmunds but narrow the scope to the car shopping experience and open it up to the public.

He loved the idea. Six months later, Hackomotive happened:

Thursday, Dec 20th – Hackomotive Announced!
Tuesday, Feb 26th – Evening Reception
Wednesday, Feb 27th – Day1
Thursday, Feb 28th – Day2

The event was a big success with folks already asking about when the next one will take place. I was humbled by the passion, commitment and positive spirit everyone brought to the event. There was a buzz in the air, and on the last day, the event crescendoed into a very high note when two teams, Tegrity and MyMotive, were crowned top winners and walking away with $10K each.

Needless to say, the event didn’t just happen.

It was the result of months of long and thorough planning by the following core team members that have grown to be my family at work during the past six months:

And Phillip Potloff, the senior executive who made sure we got what we needed to make it all happen.

The event literally wouldn’t have turned out the way it did had it not been for the dedication and thoughtfulness of the aforementioned talents. There was never any drama or unhealthy stress going on throughout both the planning and execution phases of the event. I learned so much about event planning from each and every one of them. I can’t wait for us to work together on something else very soon because I know it will be, dare I say, perfect.

Lesson learned: Want to put on a stellar event? Start with the core team. (thank you, Phil.)

Car shopping is an experience that affects us all and solving it is in our collective best interest. Everyone was welcome, as long as they were excited to join us and passionate about re-imagining the car shopping experience. As a result, we ended up with an incredibly diverse group of people for whom many this was their very first hackathon. Ever.

I’m not even going to cover the details of Hackomotive in this post because someone has already done that better than I ever could.

Matthew May, Hackomotive’s master of ceremonies, wrote a three-part article on the event starting with the evening reception and going into the first day where teams were formed and problem statements declared, and finally ending with coverage of the last day where judges deliberated and the winners were announced.

To stay abreast of everything that happens next, follow us on Twitter: @Hackomotive

Hackomotive for me was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my professional career. My hope is that it inspires other hackathons the way frog’s inspired it. Finding solutions that work for issues that matter is best done when a diverse group of creative minds physically converge on a single location to innovate for a very short, but intense, amount of time. I would love to see the same event happen in industries that haven’t been disrupted yet, like Travel, Housing, Government, and Finance. If you run one, I’ll be there in a heartbeat.

Here’s to the next hackathon that inspires us all!

Google Tech Talk: How Edmunds Reduced Page Load Time by 80%!

I was invited to speak at Google on some of the work I’ve done at Edmunds. The crowd was engaged and the questions were great. It’s very humbling to be surrounded by really smart people that like what you do.

Update Feb 13, 2011: Great feedback on the YouTube page. Please join in the conversation 🙂

Velocity 2010 Talk: Mitigating Advertising Impact on Page Performance

I had the pleasure to speak at Velocity 2010 about the approach we used at edmunds.com to lessen the impact of 3rd-party code on the performance of our pages. The response has been overwhelming and it was heartening to see folks from Google talk about reaching similar conclusions on their own 🙂

Velocity 2010 Interview: Talking Ads with Mac Slocum of O’Reilly Media

Here’s my interview with Mac Slocum prior to my talk at Velocity 2010.

Update on January 11, 2011: I submitted a proposal to talk about the impact of the work we’ve done had on the business and the bottom-line for Velocity 2011. It would be great to go back and talk about the positive impact of our work 🙂