Tom, Dick and Harry

  • Posted on: 18 June 2014
  • By: Shawn DeWolfe
Tom, Dick and HarryI love The Great Escape. It’s got everything: Nazis (I hate those guys), tunneling, Steve McQueen and James Garner (and a bunch of other cool guys). In that movie, the POWs build three tunnels and they code named them “Tom,” “Dick,” and “Harry.” Why divide their efforts? It’s because they don’t want to put all their eggs in one basket.

Last year, I was ALL DONE with web design. I have been continuing to do design much in the same fashion that some people keep eating popcorn. It’s money. I have listened to the voices (inner and outer) and I have started to progress further down the “former web design” path.

Part of that progression was the launch of three ventures. One I have been trying to do for a very long time. One that fell into my lap. And one that seemed like a verified money maker. That seemed really daft. But I was trying to build an escape route. An escape from web design. I embarked on the first one many years back-- heck, I’d argue that I started wanting to do my own software in the 1980s and things have come up along the way, namely some creaky self-confidence and playing it safe. The third one seemed awesome when I got it underway over two years ago, but two years is a long time to keep a baby in the womb. The middle child came along because it seemed like it needed to be a good marketing exercise (see image)-- it’s working. It’s working!

I shared my direction with a friend. In the 1980s, he and I both were destined to work in IT. He did it in the 1990s. I kept playing it safe. I didn’t say, “I’m building Tom, Dick and Harry and dividing my effort so as to keep all of my ventures beneath the flashpoint of success!”-- but I might as well have. He heard what I was doing and look upon what I was doing with a lot of skepticism, but he was polite. Yeah, I was fighting a war on three months. Yeah, I was losing.

In the movie, the Great Escape, the Germans found one of the tunnels on the July 4th and shut it down. The POWs dug for all it was worth to get the remaining tunnel to freedom.

I have been sweating it out this week to get my first honest full WordPress plugin. Like they say, "When you want to bake a cake; first you have to invent the universe." Making a WordPress plugin means you need to invent or put in place so many elements. I built a baseline version for WordPress plugins a few months ago. A couple weeks ago, I built out the licensing system. On my to-do list: I have to flesh out the documentation, I have to put in place a support system and I have to go back to that licensing site and make its brand match the rest of Those DeWolfes’ branding. Then I can do another round of testing, post the freebie version to the WordPress.org site and start the marketing in earnest. Easy, huh?

So many WordPress plugin developers who have “made it” look back at their history at how it has been a crazy ride to get to where they are. I wanted to take a pause long enough to recognize that Tom has been shut down by circumstance, Dick is okay, and I’m making my escape through the third tunnel (holy-- you cannot say “dick tunnel” or “harry tunnel” have it work). I want to have a slow-motion moment and watch the popcorn mid-pop.

Deep Thoughts

My “Doy” moments:
  • Don’t split your efforts. Exponential effort yields exponential gains. Hedging your bets is sensible to a point, but only so far.
  • Get an org chart and follow it. Big business is eating government’s lunch because democratic processes move more slowly than autocracies. I own controlling interest in the company I bought into last year. It’s worth a lot to not have ask, “may I do this?” because the time lost for consensus building can be a killer. I have heard that, according to physics, a bumblebee cannot fly its great size laden with pollen using those tiny wings. Still, it works because “doing it” always beats good theories.
My “Smart” moments:
  • Don’t launch until you have a system.
  • Don’t launch until you have a way to reproduce your plugins with consistency
  • Don’t launch until you have worked out how to monetize.
  • Don’t launch until you have a way to support users and customers
In The Great Escape, the prisoners got to freedom because they focused. They emerged with all of the paperwork they needed to pass. When they were out of the tunnel, their work was just beginning. They had to do so much more to get to freedom. In the movie, escapees did everything right and they still didn’t succeed. That’s a possibility, but it’s still important to try.

Last updated date

Friday, September 29, 2017 - 01:50