Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How Disciplined Are You?

I have a new favorite tree- the Utah Juniper.  What makes this tree very special is that it will cut-off water to healthy branches when there isn't enough water...a self pruning tree.  Every time we spent time at Axium doing strategic planning, it was always easier to put things on the todo list than to put things on the not to do list.   Looking back we did so many things simply because that is what we had done despite not being able to quantify the return for customers or shareholders.  When there are plenty of resources (e.g water) this isn't a  problem.  That said, we were always constrained by talented people and their ability to focus.  We built a great business, but what if we had more discipline to turn off somewhat healthy sections of the business to divert our focus to even better parts of the business?  That's what has made the Utah Juniper such a tough tree in the inhospitable canyon lands of Utah.https://plus.google.com/+DanielLaun/posts/ez9Lij33iKd

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

There is nothing like momentum

Momentum- it's hard to get and all too often is easy to lose.  For small businesses it's critical to gain momentum.  Driving into Vegas reminded me just how powerful momentum can be.  Driving into Vegas I was stuck in a two hour traffic jam in the middle of the desert.  Californian's were driving past California casino's and Nevada state line casino's for Vegas...why? because Vegas has used it's casino momentum to create a destination.  The San Antonio spurs also reminded me of momentum when they signed Lamarcus Aldridge away from my beloved Blazers.  Over the past two years the blazers worked hard to get a bit of mojo working with 2 consecutive seasons of 50+ wins only to have Wes Mathews snap his achilles...and there went all of our momentum.  The spurs on the other hand haven't missed the playoffs for 18 years...in a word momentum.  If you don't have it you have to work 2 to 3x to get it.  Once you have it...don't squander it.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Slice of Americana

I've always been a fan of camping- I like sleeping outdoors, bonding with my camp mates and even sharing a knowing glance with a stranger to indicate how awful the bathroom is.  Usually you have just a bit of space separating you from others...  Well this week at Morro Strands was a bit different.  It was a parking lot where you could sleep next to the parking lot basically in sand.  Our neighbors on the first night weren't great...in hindsight I wish they had stayed.  Attached is a picture of our neighbor who showed up with is Pa...Sadly this picture only starts to capture the image...moonshine, missing limbs, cuss word bananza, beer for breakfast and dinner from a can....then came the intimidation, threats etc.  But after a interesting two days, we ended up in a hotel...thankfully we had the money to do this.  I suspect everyone else simply left.  It does setup my observation about C
alifornia- the gap between the have's and the have not's is incredible.  There is the homeless and near homeless and then the vineyard folks.  It's an astoundingly visible gap.  I suspect that it is also a gap of education, access to jobs etc.  If California is the american dream, we need to get back to work on making that dream come true.

Be sure to zoom in and weigh in on if he's wearing shoes...

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Robbed- In Broad Daylight

Two days ago we were robbed in broad daylight of three bikes with a kids trailer bike maimed in addition.  While I went to look for bikes disposed someone came and grabbed a third bike off the trailer between 8 and 8.08AM.  This aggression has occupied my mind since.  A few thoughts
1.  If you are bringing bikes invest in real security- cables are useless.
2.  Bike theft is quiet- insurance is tagged (homeowner and renter policy deductables are most likely too high) and cops have no way of recovering.  I'm not even convinced our robbery will be part of the official statistics.
3.  Beware of hotels that back to greenspace/bike trails. The cop noted that this bike trail was known as the transient highway.  By day nannies, kids, housewives and atheletes....during the dark- homeless, etc.  It provides a quick escape route and most cops can't follow.
4.  Thieves aren't looking for real value- they will take anything.  Our bikes wouldn't have sold for $500 combined but it will cost us a lot more than that in aggravation.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

CA Water Conservation Observations

California is in the midst of a 4 year record drought, so I've been trying to observe what changes I might see taking place.  It's important for Oregonians as well because almost half of our counties declared a drought this year.  Here's what I've observed so far....not much.
1. a few yards have stopped watering (and maintained their yards)...hard to tell if it's water conservation or neglect.
2.  reclaimed water being used for irrigation (along with don't touch signs...wash your veggies!)
3.  notes at our vacation rental about conserving water.
4. note at campground to play in the river, not the water fountain.

Here are some things I thought I would observe
1. increased costs for showers at campgrounds (still only $0.50 per 5 minutes, in Oregon its $1 for 5 minutes at parks, $3per 5 minutes at private facilities.
2.  water saving shower heads- not at parks nor at rental house
3.  alternative yard planting with more native water independent plants

We're still in the north so it will be interested to see what happens as we travel to drier lands.

Quick update:
1.  At hearst castles they had shut down the bathrooms opting instead for portapotties...
2.  Beach cities still have free showers
3.  One restaurant noted they were only serving water to those that requested it.
4.  Vegas, 108 degrees....water conservation? ha ha

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Fishing Vs. Fly Fishing

Diamond lake is apparently good fishing.  Monday morning there were at least a 100 boats on the water by 6.30AM.  To put it in perspective the path around the lake is 11 miles.  I haven't seen one guide though?  Why, to easy to just get out and figure it out?
Later this summer I'll visit one of my groomsmen Ron who is a professional guide in Yellowstone and Argentina.   I think he does pretty well for himself, especially doing something he loves.   I don't know a ton about fly fishing but I believe there is a lot more technique and local knowledge required to be successful- key ingredients for any business.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Great Local Business Secret

They say in real estate its all about location location location.  The same is true in business.  This business was started by a enterprising state park employee who recognized a pattern- she kept answering the same question over and over about where campers could do laundry and get a shower.  She then built her business right next to another source of customers- RV travelers.   This is like shooting fish in a barrel right?  Not quite, there is still competition.  This owner differentiated herself by providing a better environment, clean working machines.  The online reviews spoke volumes about the differentiation this owner provided on a coin operated laundry.  I saw it immediately when I came in- her name and cell# are prominently posted on the front window.  As I walked in and looked confused, I was pleasantly greeted by another launderer and she helped me decide which machine to use...I knew immediately this was the owner.  Great businesses share some common practices- they provide a great service at a great value.  They listen to their customers and then they act to provide a better experience.  Making money is an outcome of operating a great business.  Hats off to this entrepreneur!37th st coin operated laundry

Uneven Oregon Economic Recovery- Visual Sighting

As a kid I remember going on trips and seeing hundreds of logging trucks- on the main freeway, I5 but also on small roads trucks would be coming and going full of big timber (4+feet diameter).  This trip is young but I've only seen one logging truck and it looked like it was carrying pencils, they looked so small.  The rural towns seem equally affected with almost 1/2 of the storefronts closed up and the remainder needing serious work to maintain.  The oregon unemployment rate is inching towards 5%, but the rural counties are still close to 10%.   This is not an even recovery.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Phase 2> departure

Today is departure day for our trip.  The kids have said good bye to their besties.  It's funny how little you understand as a child.  Both girls are talking about how much they already miss their friends, even though they don't see them every summer.  I don't think they understand how special this is.  I asked Isabelle what she wanted to do when we finished getting our campsite put together and she said sleep.  For me it's been 22 years since I've been on a trip anything like this.  If that trend continues, the next time I'll go, I'll be 65 years old and may not have the health to hike, climb and bike...I need to take advantage of every minute of this trip.  As I think about it, it's important to make the most out of every day as we don't get any do overs.  We'll be posting stories at google.com+daniellaun and I'll also be posting pictures on instagram at dslaun.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Goodbye and Thank you to Axium

I want to thank everyone who has put me in this place where I can take this time off.  I've had the privilege of working on behalf of so many wonderful architects, engineers and their business people over the years.  I've been truly was excited most mornings to get to work to help you run and grow your businesses.  I know there is a lot of anxiety about the future of Ajera under Deltek but I believe that through the combined efforts of customers and the legacy employees of Axium,  Ajera has landed in a good space that will continue to grow....because it is the best mix of product and service in the a/e space and will be for a long time to come.

I'm excited to get out and enjoy the time with my family.  I know that there is a future beyond my career at Axium and I trust that it will become more clear after this epic journey with my family.  Today is a good day to be thankful for all of you who helped me get here.  I hope you can enjoy this trip vicariously through this blog and the photo essays that will come once we launch.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Opal Creek Falls- dry run

I can't believe that I've lived within 2 hours of opal creek falls for almost 40 years and never been.  What an unbelievable place.  There is a 3.5 mile forest access road that you can hike/bike that runs along north fork creek through an old growth forest.  We did both- because I failed to get my oldest daughters bike in working condition prior to leaving.  The forest however- absolutely unbelievable.

Also unbelievable...how much stuff a family of five needs to go.  I should've taken a picture of our rig.  We added an skybox that has 18 cubic feet of space plus a bike rack...we still barely squished in enough stuff for one night.  The good news is the kids don't seem to like to change when camping so maybe we won't need so many clothes!

If this were a software pilot, I don't think we would release on June 15th.  But this project is mostly about schedule.  We've paid for homes, hotels etc through early August so we just  need to get there. Now how to get another 21 cubic feet?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

the plan is settled

We now have places booked for our trip.  51 days, 4482 miles,69 hours.  Now the detail planning...what will we do at these places?

Follow along with our trip planSummer plan 



Monday, May 18, 2015

Travel Planning without internet?

It's unbelievable to think how I would have had to plan this trip without the internet.  In 1994, Betsy and I planned a western states backpacking trip which included 7 back packing trips with a few days driving in-between.  We had a book that gave us most of the 7 backpacking trips, but we had to organize the drive.  We went to AAA to get regional and local maps.  We counted miles along our route to get mileage and then guesstimated at travel times.  Now some locations had identified mileage like Portland to Seattle, but getting to remote camping spots?  Forget it.  Now you just type in the locations and boom...you've got mileage, time, and housing options.  Unbelievable.  I remember thinking my grandma had lived through everything (1898-1993): planes, ww1 & 2 etc. That said, I think the internet has opened more up than anything she experienced.  We are truly lucky.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Initial 3 week itenerary

Starting to get more and more excited as we move from draft form to actual bookings.  Booking a trip is a lot of work.  Good thing that my prior employer set me free.  Here's the itenerary
1.  Diamond Lakes (10 minutes north of crater lake.  2 days.
2.  Florence Oregon (Sand Dunes) 1 day
3.  Cave Junction (near oregon caves) 1 day
4.  Redwood National Park- 3 days
5.  Arcada (near Redwood national park) 2 days.
6.  Santa Rosa (wine country) 1 day
7.  SF ( with alcatraz tour) 1 day
8.  Monteray (north end of big sur) 1 day
9.  Morro Bay ( San Luis Obisbo) 4 days
10  Sequoia National Park 2 days.
11.  NYNY Hotel Vegas- 1 day (July 3rd(
12.  Moab- 4 days.

It's also starting to sink in that for the first time since I graduated college I will have no job or school- that was 22 years ago.  Based on this timeline, I will be 65 when I get my next summer vacation.  Whoa.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The last time Betsy and I spent a lot of time camping was after my senior year in college.  That was when we set our sights on hiking the pct, a 2200 mile trek from Mexico to canada.  This is much more than a hike it's a test of your planning skills and logistical competancy.  So too is a six week road trip with three kids.  The five p`s are in play....proper preparation prevents poor performance.   Stay tuned.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Grand Plan

The plan started rather innocuously with a discussion about our annual summer trip.  I floated 18 ideas for our summer trip and asked the family their thoughts.  At the end, Isabelle (my oldest) asked, why not take the summer off and do them all.  Crazy I thought.  Then I thought some more.  By 3AM the following morning I had a preliminary map made and the plan started to take root.  What a great way to pay my family back for all their sacrifices while I helped build Axium.  And a great way to move on from the great employees and customers that I've worked with for over 12 years.

Stay tuned for more stories.