A year of inspiration, action, tragedy, fear, hope, and love

A lot happened in my little world in 2009. As I look back, I realize the things I remember the most, and the events that have impacted me, are because of the people who have touched my life in one way or another. Some are family, some friends, some people I've met only once and others I've never even met. I thought it would be nice to enter 2010 by taking a moment to look at the people that had such an affect on my 2009.

I simply can't begin this post without writing about my cousin Cameron. He had just received his bachelors degree, when a few weeks after graduation he was killed in a bus accident. Our family was changed forever. Prior to his death, Cameron registered to be an Organ Donor and his heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and other organs have saved numerous lives. Cameron lived his life fully and he was truly loved by a lot of people.

His death is a reminder that life is fragile; that what we do with the time we do have matters. That very few things in this world are permanent, and that behind everything we're doing, what matters to us all the most are the relationships that we have with other human beings.

A website has been set up as a tribute to Cameron's life and can be found at CameronChana.org. If you would like to register as an organ donor, you can do so for any state in the United States at DonateLife.com. It takes only a minute, and it's a way you can help Cameron continue to impact people even after his passing.

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Jason Fried and 37Signals have been a huge inspiration to me. They make a project collaboration software called basecamp (along with three other products) and it is without any doubt my favorite software to use when managing a project. I often joke with people that in an ideal world we wouldn't even need project managers, and I think Basecamp actually brings that reality a little closer.

Some people think I'm a fanboy, but I think they've created something revolutionary that has changed my profession for the better. They also wrote a book called Getting Real that's about software development and we applied a lot of what they teach when we built GoFind. I believe every project manager should read Getting Real, and they have another book coming out in March titled ReWork that looks like it will be awesome as well. They preach a gospel of simplicity with a focus on superb design, and advocate vigorously the advantages of being a small business and working with small businesses.

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Because I thought so highly of Basecamp, I started learning more about the people and the company behind the product. By way of following Jason Fried on twitter I learned of Derek Sivers. Derek founded a company called CD baby to help independent artists sell their music. He later sold it, but not before giving the company to a foundation he started to promote music education. His blog at sivers.org is a treasure chest full of great information that could benefit just about anyone.

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Seth Godin is a marketing genius and as sure as the sun comes up in the morning there's a blog post in my feed reader from him. I had first heard of Seth Godin when a book he wrote titled Purple Cow came out, but it wasn't until this year that I really became engaged in what he was saying. I went to a seminar that I wrote about back in November, and it had a significant impact on the way I view business, marketing, social media, and a whole host of other things. Seth Godin has written over 10 books, and has another one coming out this month called Linchpin: Are you indispensable? I have read about half his books and will continue to read them until I have finished them all.

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I don't even remember how I first heard of Dragos Roua, but I'm pretty sure it was by clicking through random people on Twitter and I stumbled across him. I've followed his blog pretty regularly for a few months now, but there was one post he wrote titled How to be Ridiculous that was exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right time. I'll never forget it.

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Mike Shedlock is the author of Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis and a wonderful source for economic news. While I don't agree with everything he writes, I've never questioned his honesty and he's become one of my most trusted sources for economic news.

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The anonymous writers at ZeroHedge have been talking truth to power in a way unlike any others I've read. They produce so much good material that it's nearly impossible to keep up with their feed. They've uncovered a whole mess of things related to the economy, government, and politics and teach us all how powerful a free voice can be.

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I'm very grateful for all the work that Theresa Valdez, Camri McAvoy, RedDroid Software, and Michael Maitlen did to make GoFind a reality. We released our first version in just 5 and 1/2 weeks and continued to tweak things over the course of another 5 releases. We're not done with GoFind yet, but getting it out and having my first product out in the world felt really great. I still remember jumping up and down on the roof of my building like a little kid the very first time it worked the way I envisioned it.

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My father who overcame a brain tumor, and my mother who has been with him every step of the way, teach me constantly what it means to love the people in your life.

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My family - Maile, Leila and Kai - are the most important people in the world to me. Unless everything is all right with them, none of the other stuff I've talked about in this post matters. A lot of times people in business talk about family and kids as if they were burdens that prevent us from doing great things and reaching for our dreams. I don't feel this way. I'm grateful for every minute that they're with me on this journey through life and wouldn't have it any other way.

A sincere thanks to everyone for making 2009 so extraordinary, and I can only hope 2010 brings the same amount of inspiration - but with none of the tragedy.

Happy new year.