Goals for 2019

If you haven’t read my Year in Review for 2018, please do so. It gives a ton of context for my goals for 2019. 2018 was a building year. We recovered from a rough 2017, grew together as a family, got healthy, and began dreaming of the future. That future is the one I’m building in 2019.

Builder Blocks

I launched Builder Blocks at the very end of 2018 after returning from WordCamp US in Nashville. I was looking for a new project and took Matt Mullenweg’s advice to heart. So 2019 is gonna be a year full of block building.

Builder Blocks will be focused on blocks that help site builders, those that help build sites for clients. If you’re an agency, freelancer, or DIY-er we want to build blocks that help you! Our first vertical will be restuarant websites. Next, we’re going to work on the medical vertical. We’d love to hear from you on what verticals we should plan for next.

BuddyDrive

BuddyDrive received lots of my time and attention in 2018. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite make it to my goal of a major release. So that’s what I’m planning on doing the first quarter of 2019. I’ve been slowly rewriting BuddyDrive and can’t wait to release the new version to the world!

Personal

I’m very excited about some of my personal goals for 2019. In 2018, I lost more than 100lbs. In 2019, I’m taking it up a notch and working on losing 150lbs. I’m also planning on working out 3 times per week. I focused on weight loss through diet last year, but want to work on building strength and cardio fitness in addition to my diet this year.

I also want to work on reading more books in 2019. In 2018, I read 15 books or so. But mostly I read articles online. I read several thousand. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the quality of what I read online was not as high as what I was finding in books. So in 2019, I want to read 25 books.

Mission Plannr

Mission Plannr is a passion project for me. I firmly believe in creating incredible software experiences for nonprofits and churches. Giving them the tools they need to further their missions is something I’ll always love.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to give Mission Plannr a lot of love in the past few years. So in the second quarter of 2019, it’s getting a complete rewrite. Currently, it is built on top of WordPress. While I love WordPress, it isn’t right for this project in the long term. So I’ll be choosing between a few languages and frameworks and putting it on a more solid foundation.

Unity

One of the ways I’m seeking to grow and stretch myself in the new year is by exploring a hobby that takes me outside of my comfort zone. For 2019, I’m doing that by creating a video game. I’ve been toying with this idea for a few years, but am finally taking the plunge. I’ve been exploring concepts for a few months and am just about ready to start putting code down and dive in. While I don’t have a lot of details I’m ready to share, suffice it to say it is going to push me further in design, development, and lots of other ways than I’ve ever been!

Wrapping Up

2019 is shaping up to be a fantastic year. Lots of new projects, lots of updates to old ones, and moving forward in my skills, personal life, and professional skillset. What are you planning for 2019? I’d love to hear!

My Year In Review – 2018

2018 was a year of foundation building for me and my family after a year of transition in 2017. In late summer of 2017, I joined the University of Florida Health as a designer and front-end developer. Transitioning into that role took up the remainder of 2017 in terms of time, onboarding, and getting settled into both my new role and our new location in Gainesville, Florida.

Spring

In the Spring, I worked on a project for the nationally syndicated podcasts Animal Airwaves and Health in a Heartbeat. That new site involved taking a design already established by another designer and translating it into a fully functioning website with podcast support. I’m extremely proud of the work done on this site, as it introduced me to VueJS and is syndicated by NPR each week.

In late 2017, I began the process of having a gastric sleeve surgery. My weight has long been a struggle for both me and my family. It has kept me from some great opportunities and was a constant drain on my health. Thankfully, our health insurance provided coverage which allowed me to begin the process. I spent the spring of this year going through all the steps necessary to get approval. This included multiple visits with a surgeon, a nutritionist, my general practitioner, a psychologist, and more! In the process, I lost 55lbs before surgery. I’ve gotten many reactions, mostly positive, many curious, and a few negative from those I’ve shared the news with. I’m incredibly grateful for all the support I’ve received. I will say that this has been the most difficult thing I’ve done in my life, but also one of the most rewarding.

Summer

Summer brought me to my surgery. I was in the hospital for about 24 hours and returned to work within 10 days. But the process was really just beginning. I’ve spent the 5 months or so since surgery working to not only lose weight but change the way I feel about and respond to food and stress. For the most part, it has worked wonderfully. As of December 30, 2018, I’m down 110lbs. My goal is to ultimately lose about 270lbs. I’ll definitely be updating both my blog and Twitter with successes and failures.

On the work front, I spent the entire summer in the world of design. Alongside the other designer in my department, I worked to come up with concepts for a redesign of the theme that powers more than 700 of our sites at UF Health. To say this was a challenge for me would be an understatement. Having spent less than a year learning the organization, I was thrown into the deep end of understanding the politics, users, and goals of our organization in order to present two concepts that could be used as a major part of our online presence. The process stretched me in ways that my creativity wasn’t ready for, but in the end, I am better for it. I’m definitely looking forward to stretching my design muscles in 2019 on some personal projects and perhaps some for UF Health as well.

The summer is also where I began planning for picking up some of the side projects I had let wither. BuddyDrive has been in need of a major redevelopment for a few years now and work began in the summer planning for version 3.0 of the plugin and its ecosystem. I’m hoping to have a new version built on ReactJS ready in Spring of 2019. This will provide a solid foundation for creating an add-on ecosystem providing robust functionality for customer social networks and intranets. Please drop me a line if you are interested in partnering up to offer an add-on for BuddyDrive.

I also began making plans for a new plugin and a new project outside of WordPress during the summer. More on that later.

Fall

The Fall was an intense time. My team at UF Health transitioned from design to active development after receiving approval on a concept for our project. If I didn’t respond on Twitter or through email during this time, I apologize. Our small team worked many nights and weekends during this time to meet our deadlines. I dropped the ball on a few people and had to reach out to apologize. But as we move into the new year, I’m SUPER excited at sharing what these many, many hours created. We’re in a private beta period at the moment, but when it releases to the public, I’ll be shouting it from the mountaintops. To give you a little taste, I’ve spent the better part of four months learning ReactJS, creating about a dozen custom blocks for the new WordPress Gutenberg editor. Those blocks are as simple as a WP Nav Menu block to as complex as a block that reads from a central database via a REST call and lets our editors create custom directories and profiles for people with data pulled from the database, storing the items in the WordPress database in a way that is both easy to manage and not a drain on resources, while still providing a beautiful interface. I’m super proud of the work our team has done.

I also spent a lot of time in the Fall reflecting on the last five years. I’ve done a ton of learning and growing in that time both personally and professionally. As I move into my thirties this year, I want to know that the foundation I’ve created for myself and my family is solid and that it is something I can build upon and grow for the next five to ten years.

With that in mind, I’ve refined and honed not only my skills (I’m looking at you JavaScript) but also explored opportunities for side projects that would add income but also create an outlet for creativity that isn’t available to me anywhere else.

Winter

While winter is just starting, I wanted to include it in this post for a few reasons. First, I started off December at WordCamp US! While I have tried to attend this event in the past few years (even when it was WCSD), this year was my first year to attend! It was awesome! The sessions were pretty good, but it was the conversation and networking that really made it an incredible experience. I met no less than 25 people that I have known for years through the internet but was finally able to shake their hand, hug their neck or otherwise meet in real life. One of the ones I had been looking forward to for the longest was Joe Casabona. We have worked together, been in a mastermind together, and been friends for ages. But I finally met him at this event. It was fantastic and I sincerely hope I can attend the next one in St. Louis.

The winter has also been a time to launch new things. I’ve launched Builder Blocks, a directory of Gutenberg blocks for web builders and site creators. I’ve begun work on an unnamed video game projects that I’m excited to share more on in the new year and so many other things I’ll be writing about shortly.

Wrapping Up

2018 was a massive year. I can’t say that enough. I learned new skills. I met new friends. I met old friends. I’ve stopped doing things that weren’t building up my business. I’ve begun new projects. I’ve worked hard to be present for my family. I’ve lost an entire person’s worth of weight. I’ve gotten healthier. I’ve read LOTS of books. I plan to read more in 2019. It’s been a hard year, but a great year. I can’t wait to share what’s next for the Pritchett family!

How To Start An Effective Church Podcast

Podcasts. Seems like everyone has one these days, and for good reason. Podcasting has taken off in the past couple of years and remains a strong way to increase brand recognition, communicate organization messaging, and best of all, tell incredible stories.

Always start with why

You may think that you can just “build it and they will come,” but that’s not how to succeed at podcasting (or really anything else).  You need a reason that is specific to you and your organization. In many cases, you’ll be able to take your mission, along with your vision, and translate them into a reason to start a podcast. However, some cases require you to dig a little deeper and ask some questions of yourself. Why are YOU creating THIS podcast? Who does it reach? Why does it reach that group as opposed to another? What are they going to get out of it? Why do they need to hear this now as opposed to months or years from now?

Asking these questions can be very illuminating and I encourage you to take time to write down your answers. Having a clearly defined reason for podcasting keeps your church from wasting resources and it keeps you from diving into topics, content, and platforms that might not be bad but aren’t truly successful means for accomplishing your goals.

Make a plan

Planning a podcast is a great way to set your ministry up for success. It can grow your membership, connect you with your community, breathe life into small groups, communicate healing on issues, and, most importantly, present the Gospel. But none of that happens effectively without planning. Simply showing up and talking does not usually go well. It presents you and your ministry as inexperienced, naive, and not worth listening to. Here are a few planning steps you can take to help realize success in podcasting.

Plan for who

One of the best things you can do after defining why you want to create a podcast is to determine who you want to create it for. Create a persona that you will talk directly to when recording. How old are they? What do they like? Do they have a spouse? Kids? What do they do for a living? Questions like these and the answers they provide allow you to write content that helps the right person, rather than not helping anyone.

Plan for what

So now you know who you are speaking to and why. The next step is to start planning the content. Are you doing a simple recording of your Sunday sermon? Or do you want to create a record of easy to consume stances on different issues? How about a podcast supporting families? Or young people? What about a dramatic, radio drama-like retelling of biblical stories?

Your content is the reason for this entire venture, right? Therefore, it is vital to spend time creating content that is engaging, helpful, and provides value to your listeners. If you aren’t doing those three things, most people would rather you not add your voice to the plethora of content that is available online.

Plan for when

When you release your content is important. This matters whether it is a podcast, blog post, sermon series, or anything else. Choosing the right time of year, the day of the week, and the time of day to release matters. Planning what time of year to release your podcast, whether to do multiple seasons, every week of the year, a short, one-time run, or weekly sermon podcasting makes a large difference. Since you’ve already determined who your audience is and what your content covers, you can make a strategic plan for releasing your content at a time when it will be most likely to be consumed by your audience.

Pay close attention to your audience’s habits, work schedules, and lifestyle as this will give you clues about when they need help with certain topics and are most likely to consume audio content. People are interested in content for their kids all year but may look for wholesome entertainment for them more during the Summer. Some professionals may not be able to listen to podcasts at work but may load them onto their phone the night before in order to listen throughout their commute. Taking time to think through this and testing your assumptions throughout helps you discover better ways to increase consumption and provide better content for your audience.

Deciding to release a podcast is not a simple undertaking, however, the payoff can be immense. With some careful planning, you can help ensure that your efforts will not go to waste. Be sure to have a plan – know your reasons for the podcast, know your audience, and create meaningful content.

I’m retiring the Underscores LESS (_s LESS) WordPress Theme

After much consideration (and not a small amount of neglect), I'm retiring the _s LESS theme that I forked from _s years ago. LESS was hot when I forked _s and created this theme and I was actively pushing for it at the agency I was work on. But in the last 4 years, SCSS and Post CSS have risen to almost completely replace LESS. I haven't used LESS in years. Thank you to all those who encouraged me and contributed!

Continue reading “I’m retiring the Underscores LESS (_s LESS) WordPress Theme”

Want To Be A High Performer? Here’s How To Start.

In case you haven’t read any other posts of mine, I talk about Chris Lema, a lot. Chris is someone that has made several big impacts on my career and life. He hired me at Crowd Favorite to solve big client services problems. He helped me build a foundation and vision for my own business at CaboPress. He has been a constant source of wisdom and encouragement to me, both professionally and personally, since I first introduced myself at WordCamp Austin in 2014 about as awkwardly as possible. 🙂

But I bring Chris up today to tell you to go read his latest post on hiring amazing people. Seriously, stop reading this and read that first. It’s awesome. Not only because Chris has hired some amazing people in the past and is doing so now at Liquid Web and can teach you how to do the same, but he is also showing you how to BE an amazing hire and high performer in the process. Here are the lessons that Chris writes about and that I believe he’s shown me.

 

Always be learning

One of the things that I hear great leaders talking about constantly is what book they are reading, what principle they are studying and a new skillset they are working on. This has always stuck with me. So I work very hard to find time to read. I always want to have 3-4 books going at one time. This way, I can read based on what I’m in the mood for. Believe me, as a father of 3 kids, a husband, a person involved in dozens of commitments, I know busyness. But I can always find time to read a few pages here and there and find that I finish books much more quickly than I ever thought I would. I also invest in my craft. Whether it’s taking a course on the latest JavaScript framework or trying to better understand the underlying code behind WordPress or Laravel, I am working on my skill set and mind whenever I can in a way that is both healthy and specific. High performers better themselves. It makes them more marketable and more helpful. It future proofs them. Someone who can always learn and adapt will never be without work for long.

 

Completely understand the problem

One of the things that I’ve always considered a true differentiator between senior level employees and mid-level or even junior employees is how well they understand the problem presented by a client, boss or other entity. Do they just read the given notes? Do they research? Do they ask questions? Do they take the time to think about the problem and not just solutions? These are all important steps. I know as a developer, my first instinct is to jump into a solution. My second is to think of as many solutions as I can and then pick the best one and dive in. But the truly best way to solve a problem is to tackle the idea of what the real problem is first. The person that understands the problem the best will always perform higher in the long run that those who just seek the fastest solution.

 

Never do something because it is easy

Stick around any agency long enough and you’ll hear a conversation like this between developer and project manager. One will say something like “the client wants to know if we can do X.” The developer will say, “sure we can do that, but it will be really hard and really expensive.” Or maybe even just flat out say no, because secretly it is “too hard.” One of the lessons I learned while working for Chris is that saying no because it is too hard is a missed opportunity for you and for the client. First, you could have presented the new request as a change order and made more money and been the hero. Secondly, a hard opportunity is almost always a place to grow not just your skill set, but also resilience and fortitude.

Build relationships

Chris points out that one of the keys to finding amazing people to hire is to always be building relationships. Not just to further your own goals either. Truly caring about people and their success is a great way to make friends and to build a network that is caring and passionate about you and your business. But that same principle is true for employees too. Care about your coworkers. Your boss. Your clients. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen coworkers become bosses, bosses become partners and clients become both. Business and life are always changing. How you treat people could be setting the stage for your next job or your next important relationship on a personal level. But beyond that, treating people well inside and outside the office is important. Don’t be a jerk.

Communicate Always

I and a growing group of people work remotely. I love working remotely. It allows me the freedom to spend time with my family while also solving complex challenges for clients all across the globe. For remote workers, communication is the single most powerful tool at your disposal. But beyond that, communication is vital for ALL people. My simple rule of thumb has become communicate early, often and always. I’d much rather be someone who over communicates than face the consequences of not communicating enough or at all. Communication opens the door to grace, mercy when things don’t go well and helps everyone feel the victory when success happens.

Communication, more than any other skill, will take you far in life and in business. Click To Tweet

Take Ownership

The single biggest idea that I took from my time with Chris Lema was about taking ownership. The idea that I don’t just work for a business. I’m not just pushing code. I own that code. I’m an owner of our business’s reputation and culture whether or not my name is on the building. People who take ownership, who strive to do their best work, be their best self, and make sure their team is doing the same, are performing at their best. Their desired employees. They are trusted colleagues. Managers don’t have to worry if something will be done right because those employees take ownership of making sure it’s bug-free, tested and ready for the client. They don’t just do “my part.” They make sure every part is in sync, ready to go and flawless. It’s not about perfection, it’s about responsibility and passion, caring about your work, and making the effort to improve everything around you. As a developer, we often delivered one section of code. A feature, a page, a set of styles. But ownership requires that we test to make sure everything else still works after integration. Ownership tests the entire project to make sure bugs haven’t come up. Ownership makes sure that the functionality doesn’t just match the spec, but achieves the client’s desired outcome.

Wrapping Up

So you want to be a high performer? Do you want to be someone who is sought after instead of having to interview at dozens of employers? You have to work on yourself. Work on these things. Improve them. Work hard. Build relationships. Communicate. Make a difference. Take ownership. Those are the people that I notice. Is that you?

 

Building A WordPress Plugin Business From Scratch

Have you met my friend Daniel?

Daniel is a super nice guy who has tons of eCommerce and WordPress experience. He’s written lots of plugins and consults on awesome WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads projects. A few years ago, Daniel started Shop Plugins as a marketplace for some of his excellent plugins. But more than that, Daniel has his wife Amanda, have been a source of inspiration for my wife and I. You see, they have traveled extensively with their kids, they homeschool and are just generally kind and generous people.

As my family explores the next few years and what we want our lives to look like now that we’re a family of 5, we’ve been giving a lot of thought to homeschooling, work, and our goals. We’ve found that we value several things very highly. One of those things is investing time and energy in being together as a family. Another is our education, both the kids and our own. Another is financial freedom. We arrived in Chattanooga with a fair amount of debt. We’ve been working hard to get rid of it. But one of the things we have been working on to get us out of debt and into financial freedom faster is building products and offering services outside of our normal work life. For me, this is selling products. For Cindi, it’s tutoring, writing, and editing on the side.

As part of this journey, I want to catalog some of the lessons I’m learning as I’ve started my business, Pritchett Media. It’s been a trying time but filled with awesome rewards and learnings. Recently, we began to see the first real financial fruits from this pursuit. While in no way do I believe this makes me an expert, it does give me an awesome opportunity to share. So over the next few months, look for a series of posts on building a plugin business from scratch as I journal thoughts, trials, and victories.

Constant Improvements Make The Host – Liquid Web

One of my goals for 2016 was to get several plugins into the WordPress.org plugin repository. Not only do I value giving back to the community which has given me a job and lots of friends, but I saw this a viable way to raise my professional profile and possibly a way to start a business. I adopted a plugin, BuddyDrive, in 2016. Unfortunately, it took me into 2017 to create and submit my own plugin, WP Media Size. But now that I have two plugins in the repository, I can’t just sit back and wait. There are new features to write, updates to make, and bugs to squash. As a plugin author, I also never want to see that dreaded notice above my plugin that “This plugin hasn’t been updated in over 2 years!” that is such a turn off to so many. So I work hard to write new features and make updates to my plugins.

Updating Features

In much the same way, we’ve seen web hosts pull off massive brand and identity changes by releasing impressive new features, focus on customer service, and really invest in their product. Remember GoDaddy a few years ago? Most people shudder and quietly admit that they used GoDaddy back then, because they had no other choice. But now, GoDaddy does great things and has revived their brand and their product.

But then there are also hosts out there who don’t update. They are the same as they were in 2007. They promise everything and anything for three bucks per month. Never mind that they are shared hosting on outdated, overcrowded servers that haven’t seen a PHP upgrade since 5.2. In fact, I just worked with a client who was still on one of these hosts this past week. I brought the entire shared server down by running a migration script that I’ve run on hundreds of other sites and servers. It wasn’t a good experience.

Liquid Web Does Updates Right

So when I say that Liquid Web’s Managed WordPress Hosting platform is releasing an amazing set of new features at lightning speed, I’m not just talking. Chris Lema and the rest of the awesome team at Liquid Web have been working hard to add features and really listen to their customers wishes and needs. They’ve made improvements to speed, security, image processing, caching, staging sites, migrations, domain redirects, SSLs, and much more just in the time I’ve been using their platform. I’ve never worked with a host that has moved so fast on so many items in a way that was both well thought through and responsive to customer needs.

A lot of places try to respond to customers’ needs and end up screwing up their platform or building too many features to maintain. But Chris and his team have been in this game a while. Chris has been using and writing about hosting in detail for years. He knows what questions to ask and what the right solutions are. So when requests come in for a change to their platform, his team knows whether a solution is viable as well as if the problem presented is one worth solving. Here’s what Chris had to say about the innovative new features they have and are releasing at Liquid Web:

 

“Innovation is not just about playing with new toys – though we’re playing with lots of new stuff. Innovation is about thinking about problems in new ways – ways that change how we define the realm of solutions. It’s how we came up with our visual comparison feature.”
– Chris Lema

It’s why I’ll be sticking with Liquid Web. It’s why I recommend Liquid Web to anyonewhose site IS their business, not merely a part of their business. If Liquid Web sounds like a company you’d like to partner with, click here.

Have You Tried Liquid Web Managed Hosting?

I’ll admit, I never saw a post about Liquid Web managed WordPress hosting coming.

Don’t be scared, but note that there are affiliate links in this post. I only recommend products I use and enjoy. You can read more here.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve used a web host or two in my day.

In fact, I’ve used several dozen in the past nine and a half years of professional WordPress and web development. Only a few have made the list of recommended. Great places like WP Engine and Flywheel. Managed hosts with great customer service, excellent product, and narrow target audiences. These guys know WordPress, they know hosting, and they know how to create an experience that impresses.

But this post isn’t about them. It’s about a host that is relatively new to me. But one that is making impressive leaps in technology and in securing impressive market share in the WordPress space.

Enter Liquid Web

When I heard my friend and former coworker, Chris Lema, was joining a host, I was intrigued. Having spent time working in client services as a developer under Chris, I know that he’s a pro at team building, managing developers, and growing leaders. He’s also got a knack for knowing what clients need, winning big projects and sharing incredible stories. While he writes posts about great hosts and fantastic experiences, joining a hosting company was the last place I thought I’d see him.

But he did and I am glad that he did because what he and his team are creating over there is impressive to say the least.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been trying Liquid Web’s Managed WordPress hosting solution and I’m impressed in every way. From support to speed, features to communication, Liquid Web is making a strong foray into the managed WordPress hosting space. I’m excited to see how they grow the platform. Every week I seem to be getting another look at some awesome new feature that I never realized I really needed. From automatic image processing and automated plugin upgrades with front and back-end bug checks. I’m so impressed that over the next couple of weeks, I’ve got a series of posts detailing my experience and some of my favorite features. Stay tuned!

 

Will I See You In 2017? Let’s Find Out!

UPDATED 3/9/17 6:38 AM – Again, unfortunately plans change sometimes. after much discussion, the wife and i have decided that cabopress wouldn’t be in our best interest as a family this year and so I have withdrawn my application. i will miss the event and the incredible people a ton this year, but know that i’ll be applying next year! If you’re going to cabopress, have a great time and drink a jack & coke for me!

Updated 2/7/17 2:35pm – Unfortunately, my plans for Pressnomics 5 this year will not be coming true. Several priorities have changed for us as a family since planning this trip and I will not be heading to PN5. I do have a ticket which I am looking to sell. So if you’d like to grab a discounted ticket, hit me up on twitter or in the comments. That said, all of the other events below are still on!

The older I get the more I realize I function better and am less grumpy if I have a plan well ahead of time and allow that plan to work itself out in my brain. For those that have known me since I was a teenager, this is a fundamental shift. I grew up very disorganized. I constantly lost coats, lunch boxes and pretty much anything that wasn’t attached to me permanently.

Around the time I got married, I experienced a shift in my attitude about work, patterns, and started to become more mature. I attribute this partly to my wonderful bride who encouraged and continues to encourage me to be a better man. I also attribute it, in part, to graduating from school. I always hated school. I love learning, but always struggled with busy work (i.e. homework) and sitting quietly through lectures. I did very well on tests, papers and presentations, but terribly on homework. Graduating from college and beginning to work was a dream come true (even though I had been working in some capacity from a very early age).

Fast forward to 2017 and I have begun to plan an entire year’s worth of travel between December and January. Secretly, I’ve even started planning 2018’s schedule, but don’t tell anyone. I’m hitting four events this year. That’s actually an increase by one for me over previous years but since each event is planned in advance it feels much less stressful.

I traveled extensively as a teenager and early in college. I’ve visited most of Latin America and many of the United States. However, as I’ve grown older I’ve also started becoming more and more of a homebody. In fact, I barely traveled the first few years of my marriage and it took work trips to bust me out of that! So this year I’ll be expanding to four trips and would love to see you at one of them! I’m excited about each of these trips as two of them are completely new to me and have been on my wishlist for years and two are events that I have immensely enjoyed in the past and am excited to visit again.

I’m also planning on brining my wife and possibly my kids on a few of these as I believe that they would enjoy them and people like Katie Richards, Lindsey Miller, Cate DeRosia, and more have all reached out and said that my wife should come or have just been generally encouraging to the women in our community. Each of you has been so welcoming without having even met the much better Pritchett.  I sincerely hope that she gets to meet each of you and that she becomes friends with you as you and your families have become with me!

WordCamp ATL

After leaving Dallas a few years ago where I had my first WordCamp experience in both attending (technically Austin, but it’s all Texas, right?) and my first two years of co-organizing (I blame Carrie Dils for this), WCATL and the awesome organizers there welcomed me in and put on a fabulous camp. Seriously, I loved this camp and it’s different vibe from WCDFW. I met some long time friends from online and got to see old friends. I don’t live in Atlanta anymore, but I’m still close enough for a short drive down for this camp. Can’t wait.

Pressnomics 5

This year I’m giving equal time to WordCamps and WordPress-centric events outside the Foundation. Pressnomics gets rave reviews every year and has been on my list since the original event. Well, I finally bought tickets and am going to be in Arizona come April! I really am excited to meet some of the awesome business owners that hit PN as well as spend some time growing my business, getting new ideas and I’ll even get to hang out with the owners of my day job Chris Wallace and Brad Miller (plus I’ll be meeting Brad for the first time in real life. 🙂 )

WordCamp US

San Francisco was on my list until it became WordCamp US. Sadly, the first year fell during a bad time for our family to be traveling and last year I had tickets but needed to cancel last minute as we ended up moving during December. But the next two years WCUS is in Nashville, just a stone’s throw from my new hometown of Chattanooga. I’m very excited for this camp as I’ve never been to one this large and I’m excited to meet new people, experience the largest WordCamp out there and parTAY!

CaboPress (maybe?)

I got the fabulous opportunity to be invited to join Chris Lema and so many other wonderful people in Cabo for 5 days of growth, community and business building in November in 2016. This event changed my life as well as my business. I’m STILL going through my notebooks from the event in January and coming up with new ways of implementing the things I learned there. Because it is such a focused event, it’s limited in the number of people that can go. So being an alum, there are only so many spots open for those that have gone before. So I’m very hopeful I’ll be invited back, but don’t want to take up spots for those that haven’t experienced this awesome event. But if I’m invited, I’m hoping to take my wife and I on an extraordinary trip to grow out business, relax, drink, and grow new and old friendships with fabulous people in our industry.

So, will I be seeing you in 2017? If so, leave a comment, tweet at me or drop me a line in my contact form. I’d love to meet you, say hello, grab a drink or catch up.

Want To Change Your Business? Start With CaboPress.

A business conference in Cabo? Sure…

This was the response I received from many of the people that I told about my recent trip to Mexico for a conference. While humorous, my experience was much more than margaritas on the beach. I had the awesome privilege to spend five days in Cabo San Lucas at Chris Lema’s CaboPress. Chris has put together the top minds in several different verticals and disciplines inside of WordPress and created a truly unique and insanely helpful experience in the WordPress community. Having launched one Software as a Service (Saas) product in 2016 and preparing to launch my second in early 2017, I was ready to start attending conferences that would help me grow as a business owner and not just as a developer or WordPress community member, which has been my focus in the past. CaboPress was a truly transformative experience for me in regards to my business. Here are a few of the reasons why:

The host

Chris Lema, in case you didn’t know, is a fantastic leader, conference organizer and all around good guy. I read Chris’s blog long before I ever met him. My first real interaction with him was to say hello awkwardly at WCATX in 2014. Just a year later I would be interviewing with him to join the team at Crowd Favorite as I came to trust his skills as a leader and was excited to work with and under him as a developer to grow my talents. While neither of us is at Crowd Favorite anymore, working for Chris elevated my respect for him and the knowledge that he can bring to growing companies. So when he put out the call for CaboPress and then accepted my application, I was floored. Having now spent five days with Chris at his favorite resort and getting to speak to him one on one about life and business, I can say that I can think of no greater person than Chris that I would want to head up such an amazing conference. I only travel 3-4 times per year for business and anything from Chris in the future is on my list.

The sessions

The sessions were overseen by “hosts” whom Chris had brought on to lead conversation in a general direction. While anything was up for discussion, there was a specific topic for each hour and a half discussion. Ranging from hiring to branding, the discussions were a place to ask scary questions, hear from industry experts, and offer advice on things you had been through that were pertinent to other’s lives and businesses. Each discussion was needed by at least a few people in the group and most of the time they were fairly even in attendance as the topics were desirable and helpful to most everyone in some way. Each session left me with actionable intel on what to do in certain areas of business. On top of that, how easy is it to talk about business while hanging out in a pool?

The people

Wow. To say that Chis lined up an extraordinary group of business owners would be a massive understatement. People came from all over the United States and the world to grow and learn. There were agency owners, freelancers, product makers, podcasters, and bloggers. Each person was there to learn, but also to share. Rarely do you meet a group of people that pay that kind of money to grow and invest their business who are so willing to listen as much as share and truly care about helping the person sitting across from them reach the next level without ulterior motives. I was paired with two amazing couples for lunch the entire week and cannot say enough how encouraging and smart they were. To have face time with such awesome people and to listen, talk, encourage, and share with them was an experience I would have paid 3-4 times what I did. Thanks to the Danner’s and Levesque’s for being so welcoming, encouraging and real. Thanks to all the other folks that took time to sit down, learn my name, and just talk about life, business, and struggles.

The Resort

The Fiesta Americana resort is one of only two five star resorts in Cabo San Lucas. The rooms were spacious, well decorated and the beds were comfortable, even for a big guy like me. Having spent a lot of time in Latin America growing up, I didn’t feel like I was anywhere but the highest quality resort. The staff at the resort were some of the best staff I’ve ever encountered. Whether they were desk concierge or hedge trimmers, the attention to detail, friendliness and passion for their work spoke volumes about why the Fiesta Americana is awarded so highly. The restaurants were amazing and there were plenty of places to choose from everyday. The food was a healthy assortment of flavors and palettes from throughout the globe and I didn’t have anything that I didn’t enjoy. Part of the experience is that everything is included. So food and alcohol were available to you any time day or night and came with a friendly “can I get you anything else?” from the staff. My wife and I are considering vacationing at Fiesta Americana ourselves in the future based on my stay at CaboPress.

Chris, I want to say thank you for this incredible opportunity. CaboPress 2016 changed my business in so many ways before I even got back. It changed my thinking, my priorities and my community. I built new friendships, revitalized old ones, and came back with a renewed vision on what my business could be. If you’re looking for a way to change your business for the better, CaboPress is a great investment and definitely a must have. Here’s to seeing you there in 2017!