Chris Hardie

Blog, Tech, Business and Community Building

adventures

March 14, 2014

How I learned to run a business

Meeting RoomContinuing in the theme of last week's post on how I became a computer geek, I thought I'd also share some thoughts on how I learned to run a business.

I get asked now and then what path led me to the world of business ownership/management, and I think the short answer is that I've always just learned what I needed to know to support my other interests and passions, and in one particular long-running case, that meant learning the world of business. I've never set out to run a business for the sake of running a business, and I don't have any formal educational training in that skill set.

I'm not sure that my story should be any kind of model for others; I don't claim that I've always learned to run a business well, and I'm sure that there are many things I could and should have done better over the years. But by at least a few traditional measures of my company Summersault's performance from 1997-2013 - profitability, financial stability and customer satisfaction - I think I can claim some success along the way.

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March 7, 2014

How I became a computer geek

chris-geekOccasionally people ask me how I got started working in the world of computers and Internet technology. There were a lot of different factors - from my own curiosity to the learning and discovering my parents and teachers encouraged to the timing of what tools/tech became available as I grew up. I don't think I can hold one particular decision or moment up over another as key, but I thought I'd try to hit some of the highlights.

As a kid I was apparently very, very curious about how things worked, especially appliances and other mechanical things. I would take them apart to understand the innards, and then try to put them back together again more or less in the same working order. I was fortunate to have parents who let me do this exploring, and where they might have had good reason to be exasperated by having household fixtures disassembled and strewn about, they instead were supportive.

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November 25, 2013

What's happening with Chris and Summersault?

Chris on Cadillac Mountain2013 has been a year of change for me in my professional life and at my company, Summersault.  The changes were set in motion by a combination of intentional planning and dealing with the unexpected, and navigating them has been challenging and stressful, but I think ultimately worthwhile.

The company has been around since 1997, and so we have a number of supporters and interested observers who we've connected with over the years, locally here in Richmond, among our clients and vendors, and of course among our friends and families.  As I get questions from them about "what's happening with Summersault?" and "what's happening with you?" I know I haven't always been clear in my responses, in part because the answers (or how to talk about them) haven't always been clear to me.

As I've built Summersault with care and attention to the complex interactions between business needs and human needs, so I've also wanted to give that same care and attention to times of transition and restructuring. It was - and still is - a challenge to share publicly about professional changes that have many layers of complexity. It's a challenge to answer questions about what these changes might mean for individual employees while honoring their privacy. It's a challenge to talk about new directions while acknowledging the interests and concerns of our clients and the services we might still provide to them. It's a challenge to speak about areas where we have encountered difficulty with our local economy, talent pool and business climate without seeming to disparage the good work of people trying to improve the same. It's a challenge to share about the specific difficulties, frustrations, opportunities and realizations that have led to these changes while maintaining harmonious relationships with coworkers, clients and supporters who might have their own and different narratives about Summersault's history and evolution. It's a challenge to distill the feelings, hopes, disappointments, anxiety and messiness that go with owning and running a business with a history and identity in a community I care about, let alone making big changes in that identity. So, when people ask me "what's going on at Summersault?" and I find myself speaking in vague or jargony terms about it, it's clear that I've not done a good enough job of meeting all of the above challenges!

Here, then, is an attempt at answering those questions more clearly, based on what I know and can say now.

Q: What's changing at Summersault? - Read More -

November 13, 2013

Videos: TedXRichmond, marketing with integrity

Here's a recording of a panel I was on at the 2013 Earlham School of Religion Leadership Conference, where we talked about marketing with integrity: And here's a video of me speaking at 2012's TedXRichmond (Indiana) event, about being stuck, getting unstuck, and some related thoughts:

August 16, 2013

A welcome to Earlham College's incoming class

(This article originally appeared in the August 16, 2013 edition of The Earlham Word, printed for new students beginning their first year at the college.)

Like many of you are doing now, I arrived as a new student on this campus not so many years ago, ready to see what college would be about. With too much luggage and an anxious but supportive parent in tow, I experienced the enthusiastic welcome as we drove up the main drive, the surveying of my dorm room, the slightly awkward and then quickly enjoyable meeting of my roommate, checking out the cafeteria, figuring out my mailbox, and breathing in the sights and sounds of the new place I would call home for a while.

These are moments and traditions that you'll all experience differently, but they're just a few in the many pieces of a journey that, across space and time, you're sharing with thousands of other Earlhamites who have also called this place home.

The adventure of that journey will almost certainly contain deep joy and exceptional challenges. There will almost certainly be love and loss, shocking moments of new perspective, and changes in course that you'd swear today could never happen to you. You will be changed by this place in ways you may not fully notice until months or years later, and you will change those around you both with your big ideas and with the quiet moments of understanding or kindness that you show them. You will undoubtedly screw up, maybe in a big and public way, maybe in a small way that only you feel, but you'll also learn new kinds of humility and forgiveness that will serve you well.

If I have regrets about my own time at Earlham, there are three worth holding up here in case they're helpful to you:

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January 13, 2012

I'm joining the Pal-Item Editorial Board

Postcard-likeI'm pleased to note that I'm joining the Palladium-Item's community editorial advisory board.  This comes after a number of conversations with the paper's staff about the role of the editorial page and its advisory board in prompting and shaping community dialog; I'm excited that I will get to contribute to those efforts in this new way.

The board is a volunteer group of community members who meet regularly with the paper's editorial staff to discuss issues facing our area, and to help ensure that the viewpoints expressed by the paper are the result of careful consideration and broad consultation.  In the end, it's the Palladium-Item staff (and not the advisory board members) who craft the resulting columns, but Dale McConnaughay and others responsible for that task rely on the input received (and strong disagreements aired) through the board's private conversations.  They also regularly invite community leaders to meet with the board for updates and discussion about projects underway.

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December 30, 2011

My 2011 Year in Review

Family PortraitIt's "year in review" week!

There's just enough time between the Christmas holiday and New Year's Eve for people to get bored, but it's not a good time to launch new TV shows or announce new political initiatives, so we have to have something to keep us entertained.

(As a kid this meant me listening to countdowns of the top one billion songs on the charts for that year, and somehow a Celine Dion or Aaron Neville song always made it into the top five...this was painful, but perhaps reflects more poorly on me and the particular genre of music station I was listening to than it does on all of the music produced in those years.)

But it's been an unusually full year for me, so I thought I'd take a moment to reflect back on what that has included:
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August 25, 2011

Back into campaign and election season

In the Spring, I mentioned here that I was running for political office as a candidate for Richmond City Council here in Richmond, Indiana - my first real venture into politics.  I never did post an update on this blog that I won the Primary Election held in May (YAY!), and so now I'm on the ballot for consideration in the November general election.

Despite having lots of overlap in subject matter between my political efforts and my writings here, I will generally continue to keep my campaign-related news and updates on my ChrisOnCouncil.com website (BOOKMARK IT), and on my campaign Facebook page (LIKE IT) and Twitter account (FOLLOW IT).  But, I thought I'd give you a taste of some of the material my campaign is creating as we get back into that season.

You can watch a YouTube video interview with me:

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July 6, 2011

Hail in the Badlands

BadlandsAs a part of the trip to Oregon, we took the opportunity to see some sights along the way, including Yellowstone National Park, Mt. Rushmore, Grand Teton National Park, and neat little towns like Deadwood, South Dakota.

The most memorable and terrifying part of the trip was our stop at Badlands National Park.  We should have known something was brewing when the gas station a few miles outside the entrance to the park was all atwitter with talk of the weather and the ominous storm clouds in the distance, but we pressed on anyway.

When we got to a particularly beautiful canyon area and went out for a walk, the winds were blowing hard and bringing some serious temperature changes.  The sky continued to darken, and we knew we were in for a storm.  The rattlesnake that lay in our path a few yards up ahead seemed to suggest Turn Back While You Still Can, so we did.

Kelly: "I think we should get in the car quickly."

Chris: "Oh, a little rain never hurt anyone.  It'll feel good!"

Kelly: "I think we should get in the car quickly."

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May 20, 2011

I'm getting married

Cute pairThis weekend I will have the honor and joy of marrying Kelly.

There are many things to say about the institution of marriage that I might normally be tempted to blog about; the legal, political, religious, cultural and social norms involved, the zaniness of the logistics involved when one decides to have a celebration with guests for the spectacle of what Ian Hay called "a ghastly public confession of a strictly private intention," the total failure of contemporary wedding rituals to incorporate modern technological tools and devices into their proceedings ("what do you mean I can't read my vows off my smart phone!?"), and so on.

But today, as friends and family gather to witness our commitment to each other and help us celebrate it, I can only speak of my deep appreciation for the community that has held and encouraged our relationship, the sense of adventure and happiness that I feel about what lies ahead, and my tremendous and growing admiration of and gratitude for who Kelly is - in my life and in the lives of so many others.

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