Reflecting on No Questions Asked

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Project: No Questions Asked
Get one new experience, per week, for 6 weeks.

It’s official No Questions Asked NYC is live and underway. Well it has been for the past 3 weeks but I needed a moment to collect myself and reflect on what I’d just done. This project had a lot of moving parts that in hindsight made the project more complex but also more attractive. As with every project I do, because they’re so drastically different, it taught me a lot. Here’s what I learned:

I can’t do this alone

I knew this but it really came to light on this project. I’m not too proud to ask for help but I’m always scared that no one will care to help me. Not that they don’t care but just that they have their own lives and things they’d rather be doing. Either way, this was the first time I put aside that fear and reached out to my friends. I’ll forever be appreciative of the work my friends Saron and Joe put in for me. They could’ve easily enjoyed their weekend but instead they gave me a little of their time to help me reach my deadline. The size of their contribution has no relevance because without their help I’m not sure what would’ve happened in those last 24 hours.

I should never be afraid to try something new

I was pretty close to falling back on what I knew to build the mobile app for this project; Phonegap. It was the easiest alternative for someone that knew HTML, CSS, and JS and wanted to build a mobile app but I also knew the shortcomings. React Native on the other hand was the harder but better solution because the code renders more closely to native app code. I spent a lot of days trying to decide which one to use given the timeframe and my limited knowledge on React Native vs Phonegap. Instead of immediately giving up however, I decided to try building a feature in one day to see how I felt and surprisingly, it wasn’t scary at all. I’m glad I didn’t just lean on the easiest option because now I‘m one step closer to being an app developer (sorta, kinda, not really lol).

I need to make more time for testing

This wasn’t the first time I built an app but it was the first time I did it the “better” way and I was proud of it. Since Im not new to tech, I knew that I had to make time for testing and though it was baked in my schedule, it definitely wasn’t enough. Especially since I stole some of that time to finish the build. Even though I was vigorously testing as I was building (as one does…), as soon as another user tried the app, it all went to sh*t. It was a devastating but enlightening bug to find that only one user was supported but luckily I had just enough time to catch it.

I need to make time for marketing

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll notice this is a recurring theme. I need to get better at marketing and I need to make time to execute on it. I do think I did better on this project but I abandoned half my plan and didn’t stick to the schedule. I did some marketing in the beginning of the project and that set me up for average success but I know I could’ve done waaaay more. I need to dedicate more than a few hours if it’s going to have a real shot.

I need to keep an eye on complexity

This project was complex. There were a lot of decisions I had to make upfront before I could even talk about it with anyone else. It’s so easy to get carried away with all the features, gimmicks and tricks a project could have so I had to constantly reel myself back in. Even though I don’t regret most of the decisions I made, one in particular stuck out the most. The decision to be as inclusive as I can be to decrease the barrier to entry for this project. Things like supporting vegan or pescatarian diets, price ranges and allowing people to choose their preferred boroughs. And while I removed as much complexity as I could while still being inclusive, I still created a TON of work that I couldn’t have foreseen until I started thinking abut curation. While I set aside a little time to focus on it, once again, it wasn’t enough and I needed more. Or, I needed more curators.

I need to get better at all types of outreach

I made this project for me so when it came time to curate experiences, I realized how ridiculous it was for me to be doing it. Or on any project for that matter, since it’s always in a subject I myself either just learned or need to learn. Luckily I was able to get a few curators on board before sh*t hit the fan so I mostly just had to fill in the gaps. Regardless, I wish I made an effort to have the entire project fully curated. I need to spend more time establishing these kinds of relationships before I get distracted by the part I love most, making the thing.

I can stay calm while racing against the clock

This was the first project I’ve done where I worked nonstop till the moment it went live. Literally, minutes before. I gave myself 2 deadlines, one that was ideal and one that was final. I worked for over 24 hours to launch, and for the the first time, I calmly made it despite the ticking clock. I realized, stressed or not, it’s the work you do each minute that counts not the amount of expletives you unleash or people you hurt along the way. In those hours I learned how to make every minute count.

I need to dedicate time to all the moving parts

Overall, the biggest lesson I learned was that every part of any project should always have a slice of time dedicated to it. I always schedule time for the production side but everything else typically falls by the wayside. If I spend as much time experimenting with marketing as I do designing or doing outreach as I do developing, I know I could take my projects to a whole other level.

Do it with passion, or not at all.
~ Kim Goulbourne, aka Bourn

CommentsHow do you allocate time on your projects?

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