Zejoop Shares Notes on Kinko’s Founder Talk!

Recently, I had the privilege to attend a special presentation at Santa Clarita’s College of the Canyons surrounded by a number of my tribal friends in the budding community of SCV entrepreneurs. The event? A talk by “Paul Orfalea, CREATING A CAREER IN THE 21ST CENTURY”


Kinko’s founder Paul Orfalea, delivers presentation as guest speaker at Santa Clarita’s College of the Canyons Performing Art Center

Paul, an articulate and charismatic speaker, never gave his age (I’m glad, I don’t care! – I reject ageism!) but he sure did share a bunch of great information in a self-effacing and entertaining way! Paul started the photocopy service giant Kinko’s, giving the company the same name as the nickname of his youth. Apparently he used to have a lot of kinky hair, and hence the nickname “Kinko.” In the long run, it stuck as a corporate name; the hair did not (see picture). Side note – turns out that was a fortuitous choice because brand names that have two consonants represent some of the world’s corporate giants – think Google, Xerox… plenty more, right?

Paul started out his talk by citing the “good qualities” he possesses that set him up for success. He claimed:

  • …to be a “bad reader”
  • …to be “restless”
  • …to have “no mechanical ability” whatsoever

At first I had no clue how that added up to success, but, throughout the talk he made the case – these personal attributes both formed, and set the stage, for his success.

Paul Orfalea speaking! photo credit: Tania Garrett Mulry

Paul Orfalea speaking!                                                                                 photo credit: Tania Garrett Mulry

A central theme in Paul’s approach to business and life relies on his conscious choice of outlook. He repeatedly said this guidance was instilled in him by his parents. He sees a person’s outlook as a choice that can be either optimistic, or pessimistic. Do you look at the world and see “everything is screwed and and the world is going to hell in a hand-basket” (my paraphrase – not exactly his words, but the thought is the same)? Or, rather do you see “the world is a successful place, full of opportunity” (this is much closer to what he actually said in terms of a direct quote)? He stated this as a choice, and he emphasized that both may be valid. He said something like “both views are reasonable… one of them is better.” Still, it is a choice, and it is your choice to make. The take away is that if your view is the latter, you are much more likely to see, seize, and capitalize on the abundance of opportunity that surround us.

As far as characterizing his role as CEO he said his job boiled down to three things:

  • “…motivate (your) workers…”
  • “…understand (your) customer…”, and,
  • “…balance the books.”

A corollary to this summary was that is was “management’s job is to remove obstacles (for workers)” Associated with this notion was a decision he made to empower workers at all levels with the authority to solve problems (for customers) without having to defer to those up the management chain. This makes for a happy customer and can benefit the “co-worker” by giving them certain autonomy that promotes job satisfaction. I used the word co-worker instead of employee because several times Paul said he prefers the former descriptor; I did not catch his reasoning on this, but I accepted it as part of the corporate culture as he chose to set it.

Somewhere in the third portion of the talk Paul touched on a philosophical subject of great personal importance to me – the notion of seeking to be present , or as he put it, to “always be in the moment.” The subject is out-of-scope for this blurby blog post, but I will attempt a clumsy summary for the sake of completeness. He said we are born into the world living fully in the moment; we know nothing other than the now. Somewhere along the way though society imposes, for its own purposes the ideas of past, present, and future. Life ONLY happens in the present and much of our own anxieties stem from dwelling on regrets from the past, or worry about the future. Dwelling on an unchangeable past, and worrying about a future that may never happen is very detrimental. Not only is it detrimental, but it necessarily comes at the expense of our ability to experience the present moment, whatever it holds, either good, or bad. Clearly this factors into how Paul conducts himself, both is life and in business.

For me and many others the path to learning to live in the moment is facilitated by the practice of meditation. I am by no means an expert in this, but if you are interested in learning more about the reasoning for, and practice of meditation, I recommend the books, The Wisdom of Insecurity, by Alan Watts, and 8 Minute Meditation, by Victor Davich.

Paul wrapped up with a Q & A session, responding to those in the audience with courage enough to pose a question. I myself had a question, but I also had a galloping heart as I contemplated speaking from my forth row aisle seat. In the spirit of living in the moment, though, I took a few deep cleansing, meditative breaths and issued forth my query. I asked, to the effect, “do you have any advice for those among who are motivated to become entrepreneurs having already completed a career as an corporate employee.” In essence I was asking if it was even practical to start over in such a circumstance.

Paul carefully considered my question, and gave a thorough, thoughtful response. Conveniently though, despite many words of encouragement, his response can be summarized as “just do it!” Good stuff.

I have a great time, and learned a lot; I think the rest of my cohort did as well. Thanks to College of the Canyons and to Paul Orfalea for an entertaining and informative talk!

PS#1 – regarding “my tribal friends in the budding community of Santa Clarita entrepreneurs”, I am active in three local groups – please check them out, they are all great! EngageSCVOpen Coffee Santa Clarita, and, SCV Startup

PS#2 – you curious what I am up to? Check it out:

Visit Zejoop Now, and Start Planning!

Why I Decided to Build My Own Casual Event Planner


I’m a gamer and I had a problem. Some might posit that’s a problem in itself, but I guess that’d be a different essay. Regardless, my games were hard to coordinate among my friends. I wanted to fix this problem rather than live with it, so, I had to either find a solution, or I had to create one. This brief post explains why I ultimately decided to solve this problem myself.

Of course I wanted to solve my own gaming coordination problem, but, if done right, I might also produce value to others for planning of their own casual events.

The problem as I experienced it, was that, having set a date/time/place, and after sending out invitations by email, some annoying followup work was required. First I had to field and collate the responses, and then, either manually or mentally, I had to keep track of the status as the responses from my friends came in. Inevitably, one or more friends would reply to me only, while others would reply-all. Similarly some would phone me their response. Making matters worse, some would phone another person in the group, and not me. Either way, there was no communal knowledge of the status of a session. Furthermore, if a critical mass was attained, or not, it’d up to me to follow-up with another message – this time a ‘confirmed’ or ‘cancelled’ email. This process was clearly neither effective nor simple.

The spec then for the solution I needed was – “…provide a system that simplified planning, automatically tracked and maintained event status, and reduced ineffective communication between organizer and invitees.”

At this point I had reached a make or build decision. If something already existed, then great, I’d use it – if not, well, time to start building!

Calendar apps and planners are ubiquitous, surely there’s one that would meet my spec, right? Google Calendar, Facebook Event, Evite, Outlook and many apps let you easily set date/time/place and send notifications, and most have slick well-tested UI’s Many collect responses, and keep a tally of yes/no/maybe’s, and some even enable a de-confliction phase of planning characterized by back and forth proposals and counters. Remember though, my spec said nothing about deconfliction; I just wanted to float an event and see who bit. My feelings weren’t going to be hurt if an event fell through – in fact, the earlier it crashed, the better for me to move on and plan something else for my time. At best the above offerings solved only half my problem, but often at the expense of fancy UI’s and unneeded features.

Also, my research at the time, and since, for other similarly themed projects revealed a common property. They often seemed to be spec’d to solve the appearance of a problem without actually getting to the heart of the matter. For example, and this is often the case with design class projects, the spec was loosely written in the form “…simplify the decision process for the organizer and attendees of casually planned social activities.”

Solutions* emerging from the above type of spec often looked nice, and seemingly would provide nominally useable features. Still though, they did not address the fundamental problem I had which was, “what is the status of my event, how can I convey that as easily as possible.” Simply put, these solutions produced systems that had been cobbled together from what available technologies and frameworks could provide, rather than what they needed to provide. Some solutions actually complicated the process rather than simplify it with the proposal/counter-proposal feature.

To help visualize things here are a few models:

  • Based on my spec, these are the functions I needed in my planning system, presented in the form of a Data Flow Diagram (DFD):


  • This highly simplified DFD captures the functionality in many of the mainstream offerings:


  • Finally, the Use Case diagram on the left is representative of “the offerings” and on the right, my user interactions of “my system:”


Without having been explicit before now, the focus of this post is to draw attention to the functional analysis and resulting models done to respond to an informal spec. What I think has happened, especially in the offerings alluded to here with the purpose to simplify things, is that focus has been placed on the life-cycle of the planning process, rather than emphasizing the life-cycle of the event itself. This is true at least so far with respect to addressing the problem I had first identified and specified.

I haven’t attempted to describe “how” I have solved my problem; that will be better addressed in a followup post.

Instead, I hope the post adequately describes “why” I felt I had to take the initiative to solve the problem for myself, which, as it turns out, is the very definition of a “home-grown solution.”

With that said, you are welcome to try out my solution for yourself – it is available as a fully functional Beta at Zejoop.com

* Note: DCDR, Google Fiesta, Tossup, Planito (among others) are examples of well-intentioned projects or offerings that may be viable for others, but do not meet my spec for simplicity.

Visit Zejoop Now, and Start Planning!


The previous post mentioned another submission to Y Combinator; this time for Winter session 2016.

Even though I started early enough that Tuesday should have been a breeze – only should require enough effort to apply finishing touches – it turned out to be anything but. All of Monday was consumed making a Zejoop demo video, required because there’s been none previously and that probably reduced chances of success. Then Tuesday morning in its entirety was creation of the founder intro video. Both required many takes, but all told, they turned out great!

Then at maybe 2 PM Tuesday afternoon, a mere 6 hours before the deadline, I attempted to open my draft application on the YC ‘apply’ site. But then, BAM, it was empty – I had to redo all the previously invested work. Frustrating.

Anyway – finished it – was happy with the result. This feels like my strongest attempt so far. I’m very proud of how far I’ve come – Zejoop presents well, and I’m happy about that. The YC outcome is out of my hands now. May the hard work pay its reward.

Once Again, a Y Combinator Application

After two days of marathon video production, and enduring the shock of hearing “the draft application you thought you saved, and which only needed some minor cleanup was lost and is irrecoverable” I’ve once again submitted to a Y Combinator session, this time Winter 2016.

Here’s the proof:

every shot you don't take is a miss!

Video production you ask? Well, simply put the application requires [1] a short ‘founder-intro-video’ and [2] I created a ‘demo’ video to give an overview of Zejoop features and give a walk-through of a typical event planning example.

Stay tuned; notices for interviews in November will go out on the 28th of this month – exciting!

Wanna see what all the fuss is about? Check out the new landing page, create an account, and start planning! It’s fun and easy!

Visit Zejoop Now, and Start Planning!

Please help get the word out, and share on social media using the widgets!

Zejoop Casual Event Planning is for You!


Just when you thought there was no answer to your frustrations planning casual events with your friends, along comes Zejoop!

You already know it – planning by email or text alone doesn’t work! Use Zejoop, and start having fun with your friends. Avoid the mis-communication and headaches using built-in features that track event status and automatically confirm or cancel your meeting! It’s easy, and for most users, it’s FREE! Check it out!

Visit Zejoop Now, and Start Planning!

(please share on social media using the buttons below, thanks!)

The Y Combinator Fellowship! – Zejoop Applies!

Visit Zejoop Now, and Start Planning!

Zejoop has applied for a Y Combinator Fellowship – $12k grant, no surrender of equity, and 2 months of coaching, counseling and networking up north in the Bay Area!


Screenshot showing that Zejoop’s application has been accepted for consideration


Clearly, that’s a great opportunity. We’ll see what happens…

The deadline was yesterday, but if you are interested, here is the Y Combinator Fellowship program description

As long as you are here, do you want to try Zejoop? Click the button…

Visit Zejoop Now, and Start Planning!

PS… please share on social media using the widgets below – sharing helps! Thank you!

Jumping in the Deep End!

Marketing! A survey! Won’t this be fun?

Please help answer some questions about a possible “powered by Zejoop” spin-off. Click the Big Blue Button, and let the answers Fly!

Please Take a Moment to Answer this Short Survey!

Wasn’t that easy? Now Please Share with your Gamer Friends Using the Sharing Widgets at bottom – Twitter, Facebook, etc., …you know the drill! Thanks!

Thanks for participating! It’ll be fun, and I will appreciate your input and thoughts; thanks!

Michael LaRue, Founder & CEO, Zejoop (Patent Applied For)

PS… if you are so inclined, check out Zejoop by clicking the button below (after account creation you will be immediately presented with planning option for your gaming session)

Visit Zejoop Now, and Start Planning!

Please help get the word out, and share on social media using the widgets

Can You Help Evolve… ?

…a fast, new, casual, format for Magic: the Gathering? That’s what I’m attempting, and in a moment I’ll point you to just the place you can do just that – you can help evolve this new format. But first a little backstory so you’ll understand why this is relevant to Zejoop.

One day, in the not too distant past, a group of Magic gamers was having problems coordinating play sessions. This caused no shortage of headaches, and finally fed up, the undersigned had an idea for a way to solve this problem – thus emerged the idea for Zejoop! Originally Zejoop was conceived to solve the problems encountered by gamers – see, it even has a dedicated planning option as shown in this sequence of screenshots:


Since I am much more of an “around-the-kitchen-table’ player, and less competitively oriented, I like a variety of casual formats. Sometimes it is even fun to think of ways to come up with house rules or game mods to extend the casual aspect, but still have fun. It also occurs to me that there are many occasions when time is limited, but you’d still like to play. With that in mind I thought, why not try to create a new format – a format that was fast, fun, and casual?

You on board with this? I need some help. If you’d like to share your ideas, please review what I’ve got so far, and add your thoughts on this reddit – just click the button and let the ideas flow!

Go to this Reddit and Help Design a Format!

Thanks for participating! It’ll be fun, and I will appreciate your input and thoughts; thanks!

Michael LaRue, Founder & CEO, Zejoop (Patent Applied For)

PS… if you are so inclined, check out Zejoop by clicking the button below (after account creation you will be immediately presented with planning option for your gaming session)

Visit Zejoop Now, and Start Planning!

Please help get the word out, and share on social media using the widgets


As a young person growing up in the midst of America’s race to the moon, I was lucky to have exposure to the original Star Trek when it was first aired. Arguably a little young to appreciate it for all its nuance, it certainly made an impression on me and my friends. During many recess hours we were always able to improvise some makeshift ‘bridge’ among the playground equipment, and we were always destined to explore some new ‘frontier,’ if only in our minds eye.

It wasn’t until later in its syndication, while I was going to school studying Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland that I came to my full appreciation for the series. Both its characters and compelling storytelling, in no small part, probably helped get me through college. After a long day of classes, I looked forward to its airing daily over the dinner hour. I used to watch it as an essential break to eat, relax and steel myself for the long night of study that lie ahead. At that point, a few years older, and better able to appreciate it, the series spoke to me even more and inspired me – the friendship and camaraderie of the crew and exciting worlds they explored left a lasting impression. It did not escape me at the time, nor does it now, but I was studying aerospace engineering at the time – what are the chances (wink, wink)?

I even remember going to the first Star Trek movie with closet friends – making a party of it, and having a great time. We all had different views on which friend filled the role of each character most. Who we each thought we were did not always match what others had concluded. Regardless, the show and its characters had become important to us not just as individuals, but also important to us as a group.

Fast forward to the theater debut of the Wrath of Khan several years later. By this time I’d graduated and left Maryland, friends, and family to take my first career job. I was a young engineer working for Rockwell International on the Space Shuttle in Southern California. If I had left family and friends, I had not left Star Trek, because there I was – waiting in line for the first show. So new to California that I hadn’t had enough to have made many friends yet, I was there alone, and lonely, with the exception of one friend – Jack Daniels, he being present in the form of a half-pint bottle. To be clear, this story is not about getting drunk at the movie theater, but rather it is about a lonely guy at the time, who wanted to recreate a little bit the party atmosphere of seeing the latest Star Trek movie his friends. A lonely guy who just wanted to compensate for the absence of his friends – people with whom he had a deep bond.

So there I was, enjoying this great movie, and every now and then taking a swig off the bottle – UNTIL…. (do you see where this is going?) – until…. wait, what? NO, NO, no, nooooooo!!!!  – Spock dies!!! Gah… I was devastated, unprepared for that twist, and oh, uh, maybe a little tipsy. Surprised at how easily and unexpectedly they flowed, tears found their way out – I cried. Not just regular tears mind you, but hot tears that seemed to burn my face. Such was my appreciation for the character of Spock, and of his friendship with Kirk. This affected me greatly, and truth be told – I likely would cried without the slight nudge provided by the Jack Daniels.

If my tears were fueled in part by the whiskey when Spock died in the movie, now with the passing of Leonard Nimoy, I am sober, and very sad. With gratitude I have to acknowledge both the role that he played in bringing Spock to life and what he taught me about friendship. And so, a question; without Spock and Star Trek would I have become an Aerospace Engineer? Likely the answer is yes, but if you ask, would I have become the same engineer, then the answer is definitely no – I’ve been influenced, for the better by Star Trek, Spock, and Leonard Nimoy. Goodbye Leonard – LLAP, and thanks!

Goodbye Leonard Nimoy - LLAP

Goodbye Leonard Nimoy – LLAP


And Now, a Quick Question!

So, by now, maybe you’ve created an account and planned a few Zejoop outings with your friends. That’s great! You’ve had a chance to see how the interface works. Zejoop wants to evolve to meet your needs and insure ease-of-use, among other things.

Along those lines, I have a question for you in the form of a poll. I’d like to know which feature improvement to work on next. Specifically, for you, and for your friends, based on how you like to communicate best which of these options would make you happier to see next? Zejoop packaged as a native app on your iOs or Android device, OR Zejoop equipped to send out invitations in the form of SMS/text? Please make you choice below:

Which Zejoop interface improvement would make you happier?

View Results

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Thanks for participating! Your input is appreciated!

If you haven’t already, click below to create an account and start using Zejoop!

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