28 Jan

Helping People Who Help Themselves

I’ve received a lot of help lately from very talented people. At the end of one of these conversations with Amy Hoy, when I was profusely thanking her for her help, she said something that will stick with me for a long time:

“I like helping people who help themselves.”

Now that I’ve achieved a tiny bit of┬ánotoriety┬áI receive a lot of emails from people asking for help or advice. The problem with most of these emails is that they appear to be searching for a magic solution. What can I tell these people in a few paragraphs that will change their business?

Nothing. Unless they take action.

So the people I really want to help are the ones who I think will act on my advice. After all, advice is useless unless executed. Stop sitting on the sidelines planning and dreaming. Take action. Do it publicly. Give people a way to help you.

You are much more likely to get help if you are already demonstrating that you are actively helping yourself.



Web App Challenge Update (Week of January 13th)

Alright, this update should have been at the bottom of the last post. Oops. I’m falling behind. Development really slowed as we worked to get servers setup. We considered Rackspace, EC2, and Heroku, before finally settling on EC2. The initial setup was quick, but then things really stalled.

After considerable frustration we decided to switch to Rackspace Open Cloud, which took a long time to setup. Eventually we got it working and now have test and production servers running with them. Yay!

I never expected hosting to be such a pain. Though everyone I talked to had issues with one provider or another. Even Heroku, which is supposed to be the easiest, had plenty of people saying they had trouble with SSL or other common functions.



  • Design: 2.5 hours
  • Development: 16.5 hours
  • Planning: 1 hour

Total I worked 20 hours on the project. I almost said the name right there. Oops! I am just working on the copy for the sales page, once that is finished, I’ll announce everything. I promise.


I paid my developer another $620 for a total of $1,100 spent on development. I also spent $11.30 on a two year domain registration and $6 on an SSL certificate (yes, that was using some awesome coupon codes).

I will owe Rackspace and EC2 something, but I’m not sure how much yet.

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8 Responses to “Helping People Who Help Themselves”

  1. Steven says:

    Glad to hear you settled on Rackspace. I’ve had a pretty positive experience dealing with them. I also had switched from EC2 to them. Nothing against EC2, but it definitely was an easier process with Rackspace.

  2. Keep it up Nathan! Looking forward to see the niche you chose.

  3. Ashit Vora says:

    So the name is “The Project” :)

  4. Have a blast in Costa Rica!

  5. I have read that transcript and this quote has stuck in my mind as well. Good point!

  6. The advice about sticking to your competitive advantage is gold. It’s so easy to get carried away when starting with a blank slate. Sometimes sticking to what you know for long enough takes discipline.

  7. Free hosting at Azure – http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/free-trial/

    PS: You can run any OS and platform – it’s not just windows.

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