Author: Peter Kang

The Importance of Client Satisfaction

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I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how we can best get a sense of the health of our business at Barrel. There are the usual metrics like inbound leads, deals in the pipeline, and expected revenue from signed clients. There are also in-project metrics like profitability and how we’re tracking towards meeting milestones and deadlines. But the more I’ve explored this, the more I am convinced that the most important metric is one […]

Halfway Through My Thirties, How’s It Going?

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I turned 35 today. I spent the day watching some TV, going for a run, doing the laundry, catching up on work, and eating delicious meals cooked by my wife Mel. It was a peaceful and restful Sunday, just what I wanted. Throughout the day, I found myself thinking about how I’ve hit the mid-point of my thirties. I was reminded of a blog post I wrote 5 years ago, Three Things to Consider for My […]

Lessons from Pricing Creativity by Blair Enns

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Lessons from Pricing Creativity by Blair Enns

Pricing Creativity: A Guide to Profit Beyond the Billable Hour is a book that provides rules and tactics to help creative professionals charge more for new work and run a more profitable business. It’s by Blair Enns, the founder of Win Without Pitching, a training program that helps creative professionals win more business. I’ve been a follower of Enns for some years, having paid for access to his materials, enrolling in his online course, signing up for his webinars, and listening […]

What are My Deliberate Practice Opportunities?

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I recently paid for an online course called The Art of Focus (unfortunately, it’s no longer open to new students). It’s a series of videos and exercises designed to help increase my capacity for deep, focused work. In the introductory video, one of the topics is about Deliberate Practice. Here’s an excerpt: In the early 1990s, K. Anders Ericsson, a professor at Florida State University, studied experts and amateurs in an attempt to discern why […]

Themes from Our Partner Retreat

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This past weekend, the four Barrel partners held an offsite retreat in Old Chatham, NY to plan the company’s priorities and initiatives for 2018. The two full days of planning were incredibly productive and we came away with a roadmap that we’re very excited to execute on in the coming weeks and months. It also helped that the AirBnB we were staying at was stunning. A barn-style home, the layout of the home, the high […]

The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence Josh Waitzkin (Quotes & Thoughts)

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The real art in learning takes place as we move beyond proficiency, when our work becomes an expression of our essence. Josh Waitzkin grew up as a chess prodigy and competed at the highest levels of competition. In his early twenties, he left the chess world to pursue a career as a martial artist, specifically in Push hands, which is rooted in tai chi and a very popular competitive sport in Taiwan. His book, The […]

2017: Habits That Stuck

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As another year comes to a close, I like to take stock of the habits I built and also think about new ones I want to develop. I’m a firm believer in building a strong system comprised of good habits that promote healthy living, meaningful relationships, and continual stimulation for the mind. This also means being conscious of bad habits and finding ways to curb them, usually by replacing them with an alternative habit. In 2017, […]

Favorite Books of 2017

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As the year comes to a close, I wanted to share my favorite books list of the past year. Hope you’ll give one of these a try during the holidays. The Perfect Pass: American Genius and the Reinvention of Football by S.C. Gwynne If you love football and want to understand how the game evolved from a stodgy, run-first sport into one that relies more and more on passing and spreading the field, this book […]

Netflix Culture Deck: 7 Slides to Remember

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After listening to an NPR podcast about Netflix’s legendary culture deck (read here), I decided to take a look through the 125-slide presentation to get a better understanding. There were a lot of great points that resonated with me. Last week, I printed up the entire presentation for the Barrel leadership team and we read the slides together out loud. I know we’ll continue to discuss and adapt certain lessons in the coming weeks and […]

Managing Complex Change Applied to Projects

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Mel shared the Managing Complex Change model with me a couple years ago and it’s something that’s stayed in the back of my mind. I had trouble recalling all of its components, so I decided to make my own graphic version to help me remember it better. I like this model because it breaks collaborative change into five distinct elements: Vision, Skills, Incentives, Resources, and Action Plan. I also like it because I think it applies as […]

The Spiritual Journey

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I read Homo Deus by Yuval Harari back in March and one passage that stuck with me was his take on spirituality and why religions are anything but spiritual. Harari defines religion as such: Religion is any all-encompassing story that confers superhuman legitimacy on human laws, norms and values. It legitimises human social structures by arguing that they reflect superhuman laws. Religion asserts that we humans are subject to a system of moral laws that […]

Favorite Quotes from The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

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I recently finished reading The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, a novel about a double spy agent during and after the Vietnam War. It was one of the more memorable fiction reads I’ve had in a while. I really enjoyed Nguyen’s style of writing and found myself highlighting a number of passages. I’ve been trying to get better in general about revisiting books I’ve read and re-reading my highlights. With The Sympathizer, I found it a very […]

The Importance of Training in an Organization

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Training is, quite simply, one of the highest-leverage activities a manager can perform. Consider for a moment the possibility of your putting on a series of four lectures for members of your department. Let’s count on three hours of preparation for each hour of course time–twelve hours of work in total. Say that you have ten students in your class. Next year they will work a total of about twenty thousand hours for your organization. […]

Level, Listen, and Leave Yourself Out

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“Preparing and delivering a performance assessment is one of the hardest tasks you’ll have to perform as a manager.” – Andy S. Grove, High Output Management I’ve been re-reading sections of High Output Management by Andy Grove of Intel fame (he was president and then CEO at Intel during its years of incredible growth; Grove passed away in March 2016). There are a lot of valuable nuggets throughout the book. I wanted to highlight a section […]

How (and Why) I Built an E-commerce Store in Under 8 Hours

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AgencyDocs is a collection of documents and templates based on our work at Barrel. It’s an e-commerce store where other agency owners or managers can buy things like our employee onboarding checklist, our project brief template, or our functional spec document. Back in 2013, I wrote how I would gladly have paid for access to another agency’s documents to see how they did things. Over the years, we’ve seen bits and pieces of various documents […]

My Personal Finance Stack

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I’ve been revisiting the way I handle my personal finances in recent months and thought it would be good to list out my “personal finance stack” – the different accounts, tools, and workflows I have in place to handle my finances. Back in March 2015, I wrote about how I had missed golden opportunities in my twenties to invest earlier (see blog post). It was only when I turned thirty that I seriously considered putting my […]

Tower Defense and Business Management

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Tower defense (TD) is a subgenre of strategy video game where the goal is to defend a player’s territories or possessions by obstructing the enemy attackers, usually achieved by placing defensive structures on or along their path of attack. – Wikipedia I wanted to put my mind on auto-pilot for a few hours this weekend, so I downloaded a tower defense game on my iPhone. It’s called Pirate Legends and it reminds me very much of […]

Thoughts on “Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact” by Phil M. Jones

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Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact by Phil M Jones is a very quick read. As in, you can probably finish it in under 1 hour if not less than 40 minutes. But its value was in making me think about the words I use in my day-to-day conversations and what kinds of adjustments I can make to shape conversations in favorable ways. I’m not going to give a detailed summary of […]

Personal Accountability and the Pursuit of a Boring Culture

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In QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life, author John Miller offers a simple framework for handling ourselves day-to-day, both at work and in our personal lives. The Question Behind the Question is built on the observation that our first reactions are often negative, bringing to mind Incorrect Questions (IQs). But if in each moment of decision we can instead discipline ourselves to look behind those initial Incorrect […]

The Fundamentals of Knowledge Workers

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Whenever I think about fundamentals, I’m reminded of an interview that basketball player Andrew Bogut had on the Bill Simmons podcast in which he talked about the Warriors and how they practiced: I still remember the first training camp we had under coach Kerr. We were doing basic passing drills into the passing net, like left-handed passes, right-hand, overhead, and doing dribbling drills through cones, and a lot of guys were pissed because they were like, […]