January 18, 2016
In this episode we take a look back at 2015 and talk about whether we met our yearly goals, both professionally and personally. We also talk about what our goals will be for 2016. This episode focuses on our year in review and our year to come, so the talk about code is a bit light.
This episode is sponsored by WP Ninjas. They are about to launch Ninja Forms 3. The 3.0 update is a major overhaul, and they have a new blog series called Discover 3 which is a video series that shows all of the new features of the plugin.
Over the holidays, Brad took some time off to be with friends and family. His parents live on one side of the province, and his wife’s parents live on the other side, so there was some driving time involved. Pippin also shut business down for about 5 days and left the autoresponder on.
A Look Back at 2015
Pippin’s goals met
- Went from one to five full-time employees
- Added two new active contractors to Affiliate WP
- Merged teams for Affiliate WP and Easy Digital Downloads
- 45% revenue increase
- Sold off Easy Content Types –to Themeisle
- Pushed out 3 versions of Easy Digital Downloads 2.2, 2.3, 2.4
- 3 Major versions of Affiliate WP
- 4 Major versions of Restrict Content Pro
- 15-20 new extensions for EDD
- Numerous extensions for Affiliate WP and RCP
- Happy about growth and happy about health and wellness of the team
- Worked on challenging the team to take health seriously
Pippin’s goals not met
- Offload tasks like project management stuff.
Brad’s goals met
- Hired 3 full time employees in 2015, after hiring two at end of 2014
- Starting to hire again at end of 2015
- Slow revenue at first, recovered in March, up 81% overall
- Launched WP Offload S3
- Set up health and fitness Slack channel
Brad’s Goals not met
- Free up more time for creativity, concerns about letting project management tasks go
- Amazon SES plugin not done
- Blogging more. Goal partially met, which led to tripling traffic. Content marketing is not dead. Goals don’t have to be completely met to see improvement
A common goal for both of us this year is health and wellness. We are being smart and wanting everyone to do well. We are also using tools like a fitness slack channel, fitbits, and exercise and fitness apps. We plan to focus more on this area in 2016. Brad is doing fun things like using the Zombies, Run app. He also has a blog post about his team’s struggles to stay healthy while working from home. Pippin’s Easy Digital Downloads team is meeting for racquetball.
Brad 2015 Personal Goals
- Yoga found version that works for him by Sean Vigue
- He bought Sean Vigue’s book Power Yoga for Athletes
- Went to Mexico for the first time
- Doesn’t take vacation, so in summer decided to schedule a tennis match if it’s a nice day
Pippin 2015 Personal Goals
- Taking his health more seriously, high metabolism, kid who could eat anything, things have slowed down a bit. Last few years, spend more time at the desk. Needs to take a proactive role in staying healthy. Needs to do more. Walking, running, biking. More for next year.
- Went to South Africa–Flying with kids, travel early, travel frequently
- Brewing beer. He loves sour beers, it takes 8 months to 4 years to brew sour beer. He got to drink a Flanders Red he started a year earlier, which reminded him of patience and willingness to wait and do great things in end.
- Brew sour beers that take several years, helps to appreciate patience
- Continue With Staying healthy
- Get up to running a ½ marathon
- More long distance biking
- Travel to two or more new countries
- Blog more for Affiliate WP
- Start keeping daily journal. He doesn’t want to write by hand, but doesn’t want to get on the computer in the evening. He’s trying a tablet with bluetooth keyboard.
- He’s adopting Derek Sivers mantra, Hell yeah! or No! from interview with Tim Ferriss
- Go to Costa Rica
In 2015, business growth and staying healthy and travel were a common theme. 2015 worked out very well, and we are looking forward to 2016!
If you’re enjoying the show we sure would appreciate a Review in iTunes. Thanks!
INTRO: Welcome to Apply Filters, the podcast all about WordPress development. Now here’s your hosts, Pippin Williamson and Brad Touesnard.
BRAD: Welcome to Episode 53. This time Pippin and I will be taking a look back at 2015, whether or not we’ve met our goals, both professionally and personally, and what our goals will be for 2016.
First, a little disclaimer. You guys might be used to us talking about development stuff and geeking out on code stuff. This episode will be a little light on that. Actually, we probably won’t even get into any of that, so check out if that’s what you’re here for.
Pippin, how about those sponsors?
PIPPIN: This episode, once again, is sponsored by the WP Ninjas, who are exceptionally generous and gracious to continue to sponsor us here, and so we want to give a quick update on them. They’re getting closer to launching what they’re calling Ninja Forms 3, which is basically their big 3.0 update. It’s a major, complete overhaul of the plugin. It’s completely new.
As of yesterday, they have started a new blog series called Discover 3, and so they’re posting video previews of some of the new features, the interface, et cetera of Ninja Forms 3. If you want to go check it out, we’ve got a link in the show notes, or you can go to NinjaForms.com and go to their blog.
PIPPIN: All right. Brad, it’s a new year.
PIPPIN: Did you have a nice break? I hope you got to take a little bit of time off and enjoy the friends and family.
BRAD: Yeah, I did. It was nice. I took a couple weeks, basically. We made our annual driving around the province here. My parents live on one side of the province, and my wife’s parents live on the other side, so it was a lot of driving.
PIPPIN: How long of a drive is it across, like if you were to go east to west?
BRAD: Oh, yeah. I’m not sure. They’re not quite exactly at the other opposite ends, but the drives are about two and a half hours in each direction. Actually, on Christmas Day, we actually drive back to our house, which is in the middle, spend the night, and then drive in the morning to the other grandparents’ place. I’m saying grandparents – I mean my kids’ grandparents.
PIPPIN: Yeah. As a fellow parent of toddlers, I know what you mean when you say grandparents.
BRAD: Yeah. What about you? How was your holiday?
PIPPIN: It was good. As a full team, we shut down for a few days around Christmas, as well as the weekend, and then we also shut down for New Years Day. And so, overall, I think we ended up with about five days off or so. It was nice.
BRAD: Did you put up any, like an auto responder, that said it’s the holidays?
PIPPIN: Yeah. We had auto responders on all of our support ticket forms and, overall, things were just very, very slow, in general. Even when we were technically back at work, it was pretty nice and calm and relaxed, which was nice. Things didn’t really start picking up again until Wednesday through Friday of last week was when things started kind of getting back to normal volumes, and even above normal volume because suddenly there’s a big surge of people coming back from work, getting back into things, and realizing where they need help, they have questions, or they’re looking to add new things to their site. I think Friday of last week might have been our highest ticket volume day of all time.
BRAD: Oh, really?
PIPPIN: Oh, yeah. It was almost double the volume of a standard day.
BRAD: They saved all the good stuff for when you guys got back, I guess.
PIPPIN: Yeah, apparently. Some of that was exacerbated as well because we had just done a big EDD 2.5 release, and so some of that was update tickets. But just even with that, the volume that we had, just in general, was pretty high. But, overall, yeah, it was a nice break. It was good to step away for a little bit, but also good to come back.
BRAD: Nice. Cool. Let’s look back at the year as a whole, I guess. Let’s start with professionally, so our businesses and our professional lives, I guess. How did 2015 go for you?
PIPPIN: I think, overall, it was a good year. We really can’t complain. A couple of the highlights is we went from one to five full-time employees, excluding myself, so six if you count me, for the company, which was awesome. We added people pretty quickly.
A lot of the people that we added to our team were individuals that had already been working with us as either contractors or third party developers, and so we transitioned several of them into full-time employees. That was great. It’s been a lot of fun and challenging to work through some of the finer details of building a full-size team.
I think I’ve said this before, but I’ve always worked so long kind of by myself, and then have some help here and there. Then, over the last two years, we’ve been working to really grow the team out and figure out what everybody’s defined roles are and where everybody’s strengths are. I think 2015 was definitely where we did the most of that, partially because we grew by so many people, but also just, I think, as we’re realizing that it’s important to have some of those things defined and worked out. That was good.
BRAD: Yeah, it’s pretty crazy that you went from just one employee to five employees. That’s a pretty big jump.
PIPPIN: Yeah, it was kind of nuts. Now, of those, of those five, only one had not been previously working with us.
BRAD: They were kind of no-brainers.
PIPPIN: Yeah. We already knew that we wanted to work with them. We knew that we worked well together. We knew that they were going to be valuable. And so, it was a pretty nice and easy transition for those.
We also added two new active contractors, one to Affiliate WP — actually, two to Affiliate WP. Then we did another thing with our team and company organization that I think was very valuable or a good move, looking back. In the first part of 2015, right when we were starting to bring more people on, I made the decision to keep two of our projects very separate.
Affiliate WP and Easy Digital Downloads were very separate projects. Yeah, they had some intermingling, but we ran different support teams. We ran different sales teams. The two teams, the two projects were separate. They are technically under different companies.
Then, in July, we decided that we didn’t like that and we wanted to merge everything back together. And so, we brought our teams together. We merged our Slack rooms. We merged some other stuff. That actually kind of made it seem like our team grew even more because the people that were working on Affiliate WP and the people that were working on EDD, now they’re all in one team. Once the dust settled from that, I think it was the right move.
How about you? Looking back on your 2015, I know you guys grew your team quite a bit as well, didn’t you?
BRAD: Yeah. We hired three full-time in 2015. At the very end of 2014, we had hired two as well, so it was kind of like–I don’t know–a four-month span there where we hired five people full time, so that was a pretty crazy four or five months. Yeah. Yeah, we’ve gotten quite a bit bigger in 2015. At the end of 2015, we started hiring again, so we’re still in the process of bringing someone onboard full time.
Another thing for us is revenue. It was really rocky in the beginning of the year. It was super concerning because that was when we were hiring full-time people. Around the holidays, our revenue took a dip, but it actually didn’t recover until March, which was really concerning because I figured it was going to come back in January, but it was still down. That was a bit concerning, but, overall, over the whole year, it was up 81% over 2014.
PIPPIN: There you go. That sounds pretty familiar to ours. Basically, all of spring was a little rocky, and we were kind of looking at it thinking, “Is this something to be concerned about? Is this just–I don’t know–spring not being very good?”
Then, as the year progressed, it actually worked out very well. I think we had a 45% increase over 2014. In the end, it was still a substantial growth.
BRAD: Yeah. That’s huge. What would that be?
PIPPIN: Almost 1.5 growth, so not quite double. Not doubling, but 1.5.
BRAD: All right, gotcha.
PIPPIN: For easy math, if you do $500,000, you’ve now done $750,000.
BRAD: Yeah, nice. That’s awesome, man. Growth is the way it should be.
PIPPIN: Well, and you kind of have to when you’re adding new people on because, let’s just be honest. People are not cheap.
BRAD: Yeah, of course.
PIPPIN: They shouldn’t be. And they shouldn’t be.
BRAD: Well, that reminds me of, like, I always look at other businesses, like physical location businesses, like restaurants and stuff. They have so much overhead, right? Like they’ve got to get a plow to come plow their parking lot in the winter. They have to pay the lights, heat, rent, and everything. They have just so much overhead, and then they still have employees too. It’s just like, holy crap; we’re so lucky.
PIPPIN: I think it makes it easier. It’s easier for us and other businesses in this kind of industry to have higher profit margins just because there is much less overhead.
BRAD: Yeah, for sure – for sure.
PIPPIN: Something else that we did in 2015, well, it was actually at the very, very end of 2015, and then finalized just a couple of days ago. We actually sold off one of the original products that started out the plugin business for me. Easy Content Types is one of the oldest plugins that I started about five years ago. I started building it when I was in college at the University of Kansas, I think, maybe my sophomore or junior year.
It was one of the first plugins that I put on CodeCanyon and kind of used it to jumpstart the plugin business. As of a couple days ago, we have officially transferred it to a new owner. This is, I think, the third commercial plugin that I’ve now transferred to a new owner.
This one was kind of significant for me because it was the biggest of any plugin I’ve ever sold off to someone else. Even up until recently, it still provided a pretty decent chunk of revenue for us, but it was time to get rid of it. It was time.
We kind of got to the point, or I got to the point, where I couldn’t maintain it properly anymore. I couldn’t give it the attention it deserved, and so if it was going to continue under my ownership, it was going to die a slow death. I put it up for sale and was thrilled to have a lot of different people interested in it. It’s been acquired by the guys behind Theme Isle, and they’re going to breathe new life into it. I’m pretty excited for that.
BRAD: That’s awesome. Another thing that we did in 2015 was launch WP Offload S3, so a new product.
PIPPIN: Oh, yeah.
BRAD: That was a pretty huge deal for us.
PIPPIN: Now that was launched — it’s been three or four months now, hasn’t it?
BRAD: We launched it in August, a soft launch, and then we officially kind of emailed the email list and stuff in September, like halfway through September. Yeah, it’s exceeded expectations, actually.
PIPPIN: That’s excellent.
BRAD: Just for that short period of time, so since August, August to December, it still accounted for 15% of our total revenue.
PIPPIN: Wow! If you look forward to 2016, it’s probably going to be 50% or greater, do you think?
BRAD: I hope so. That would be ideal because it’s always, risk-wise, that that would be better to have two products that do equally well, let’s say. Yeah, hopefully. Hopefully it’ll continue to do well and maybe even grow some. Hopefully.
PIPPIN: That’s a pretty promising start, that’s for sure.
BRAD: Yeah. I was planning on launching another product. I think I might have talked about it. It’s for offloading your email sending as well, so Amazon SES. We didn’t end up launching. We ended up shelving that one.
PIPPIN: Have you shelved that for the near term or completely?
BRAD: Oh, no. It’s indefinitely, let’s say, because I do want to do it eventually, and it’s actually very close to complete. We just don’t have the manpower right now. It was stretching guys a little too thin, so I just put it on the shelf so that we could focus on the stuff that’s higher priority.
PIPPIN: Looking back on 2015, as we grew the team, that was one of the biggest reasons is because we were stretched thin, and we wanted to be able to push forward faster without every single one of us being bogged down in support or things like that. Going forward, that’s kind of our same goal. Here pretty soon, we’re looking to bring one or two more people on, primarily for the reason of, well, a couple reasons.
First of all, a couple months ago, we launched a new website for Restrict Content Pro as the first step of kind of bringing it up to the level that Easy Digital Downloads and Affiliate WP are. Now we have three fully established properties, is kind of the way that we look at.
We have EDD, we have Affiliate WP, and we have RCP. Each one is a standalone project, but right now RCP does not get any of the love that the other two do simply because we don’t have enough manpower for it. And so, when we launched the new site, one of the goals with that, which is one of our goals for 2016, is to hopefully double the revenue that it brings in right now. Building the new site was the first one.
The next step now is to bring on another developer that either works on RCP or takes over some of what I do so that I work on RCP.
PIPPIN: Yeah, it’s a manpower thing.
BRAD: Yeah. I’m still struggling, struggling with that. What else? What else happened in 2015 for you?
PIPPIN: Well, from the development/product front, if we kind of look back as a general overview, we managed to push out three major EDD versions throughout the year, so that would be 2.3, 2.4, and 2.5. Sorry, no — 2.2, 2.3, and 2.4. 2.5 is in 2016. Each one of those is about three to four months apart. Then, in between those, there are numerous point releases to fix minor bugs and things like that.
We also did three major versions for Affiliate WP, and we’ll have another major. That will be one of the next things that we hit up in 2016 will be another major version of Affiliate WP.
Then, we did four major versions of Restrict Content Pro. Some were mixed in there. We also released probably 15 to 20 new extensions for EDD. Some of those were built by our team. Some of them were built by third party developers. Then there were also numerous extension releases for Affiliate WP and RCP.
BRAD: Yeah. Some of those extensions are probably pretty hefty, major releases for you as well, right?
PIPPIN: Oh, yeah, definitely. Then others are super simple.
BRAD: Yeah. That’s one thing I’ll have to do in my write-up, my year in review write-up. I forgot to or haven’t gone through our releases yet to see how many major releases we did and that kind of stuff. Yeah, I’ll have to do that. It’s always good to go back and see how much you did, like how much code you shipped.
PIPPIN: Yeah, maybe go back and look at GitHub and see how many lines of code you changed.
PIPPIN: In the end of 2015, I think some time in December, I was looking at GitHub and realized that at some point in the recent months I had passed one million changes to EDD.
BRAD: Wow! That’s crazy.
PIPPIN: In terms of, like, line numbers, additions and deletions.
BRAD: Yeah, you should probably just make up your mind then. You keep changing things.
PIPPIN: Yeah, apparently. Why are there so many changes? All right, so how about — are there any major goals that you had set for 2015 that you either met or didn’t meet?
BRAD: My goals were like grow revenue, hopefully double, and we pretty much hit that. It was pretty close. Employ more developers. All my goals were really broad.
PIPPIN: Broad goals can be adjusted.
BRAD: Yeah, exactly. One of my goals was to free up more of my time for creativity, which I think is one of the more valuable things I bring to the company, and I didn’t really do that. I didn’t do that very well. In fact, I think it got worse because we launched a new product, right? More of my attention, like, all the things that I was doing on Migrate DB Pro, I also now have to do on this other product, so it stretched me even thinner.
I have to start offloading things. I’m thinking like project management tasks, maybe getting a project manager or maybe getting one of the guys on the team right now to do project management stuff. Kind of maybe they could put that hat on half the day and then put on their developer hat half the day or something like that.
PIPPIN: That sounds very familiar.
BRAD: Is that what you’re doing or you’re thinking about doing?
PIPPIN: No, that’s the exact same problem that I have, but hope to solve it at some point this year is offload a lot of that project management stuff.
BRAD: It’s really tricky, though, because as soon as you take yourself out of that role, you all of a sudden have this big black spot where you don’t know really what’s going on with the project at any given time, and so you have to have reports. You have to get reports from your project manager, and they have to tell you what’s going on. There’s stuff lost in translation.
PIPPIN: Yep. You have to be a little bit more disconnected.
BRAD: Yeah, and here’s an example of what I’m worried about. Oftentimes I’ll be going through issues in GitHub, like going through our issues, and I’ll stumble upon one. I’ll be looking at it, and then something will fire in my mind. “Oh, we should totally do this other thing,” right? It almost breeds creativity, the process of going through those issues.
It brings things up that we should do, and I’m worried that that is going to get lost and that that’s going to be missing. I don’t know if I have a solution yet, but I think I’m going to just have to try it. We’re going to have to try it and see how it goes. I don’t know how much you’ve thought about this.
PIPPIN: Well, you won’t know until you try it.
BRAD: Yeah, exactly. Are you thinking you’re just going to try it as well?
PIPPIN: Yeah, I don’t know yet. One way would be to just try it 110%. Another would be just offloading one little piece here and there and just slowly move that way. I haven’t really decided.
One of the ways–and we did make some progress on this in the last year that I’ve started to address it–is by not having one other person that handles all of it, but having individual people handle small pieces. For example, one of our guys is now responsible for pushing out a lot of our extension updates.
It used to be that I would push out all the updates just kind of as the product manager. Now he’ll do a bunch, or one of the other guys will do some of them. Just basically putting a little bit more responsibility and onus into everyone else’s hands for various pieces here and there. That has actually made a significant improvement.
BRAD: Yeah. We’ve kind of done that, or we’ve tried to do that a little bit as well, give people ownership of certain kind of micro projects within the project and that kind of thing.
One thing I did do last year was I stopped looking at every single GitHub notification. I don’t do that anymore. Unless I get @ mentioned in it, I don’t see it. That’s the way I’ve been operating.
Yeah, I think I’m going to have to hire some more help or something. Yeah, what else do we got here, goals? The WP Offload S3, yeah, I did that.
We didn’t do the Amazon SES plugin, and we didn’t launch a solution to avoiding the database merging problem. That was one of my goals. But, we did build a prototype and proved that it worked, that our solution works, and we’re in the process of building out an MVP now, so we’re kind of like halfway there, maybe. Maybe we got half a point on that goal.
What about you? Do you feel like you rocked 2015 and got everything done, or what?
PIPPIN: Yeah. From the professional side of things, I think we did pretty good. I don’t remember actually setting any major goals at the beginning of 2015. Maybe I should look back on our review post and see if I did.
There are a few things that I think I am really happy about. One is the growth of the team, for sure. Two is kind of a renewed look and dedication to the healthiness of the team. Some time about five to six months ago, we decided to open up a new Slack channel called Health & Wellness for our internal team.
It was kind of the first step towards everybody, as a team, being considerate and conscious of the other’s health. It’s not like us annoying each other, “Ooh, did you go out to get your run today?” or, “You’ve been sitting down too long,” or, “You’re not eating healthy.” It’s more of just be more aware of it as a team.
BRAD: I think I saw a tweet that said that you guys are using Fitbits, the whole team.
PIPPIN: We are. About a week ago, we decided to get everybody on the team a Fitbit, and so now we do team challenges. It’s all very casual, but I think it’s very important that we all take our health seriously because somebody who is healthy and active is probably going to be far better at getting their job done than somebody who is not. There is so much research that backs that up.
Part of that is just being smart saying, “Hey, look. We want everybody to do well when they’re working on something, when they’re here sitting down, working through support, or working on a project. We also want everyone to be healthy because it’s a win/win for everyone.”
BRAD: Yeah, and it’s long-term.
PIPPIN: It is long-term. Absolutely.
BRAD: It’s a long-term investment versus, “Let’s order a case of Red Bull and kill it tonight.”
PIPPIN: Right. Yeah. The long-term, slow and steady, is going to win.
PIPPIN: We started doing that, and I’m excited for how much we’ll continue to focus in that area in 2016, for sure.
BRAD: We actually did something similar recently. We set up a health-fitness channel in Slack where we kind of share what we’re up to and what we’re doing. Ash is actually using an app. I think it’s called Zombie Run or something like that, where it plays zombie sounds in your headphones. It gets louder. As you slow down, the zombies get closer, so it gets louder in your headphones or something like that.
PIPPIN: That’s pretty awesome.
BRAD: It sounds kind of fun. I think it’s called Zombie Supply or something like that.
BRAD: Yeah, yeah, it’s every since we wrote a blog post.
PIPPIN: I remember reading it. That was actually, I think, one of the ones that kind of hit me. Honestly, of all the blog posts I’ve read, that’s one of the ones that kind of stuck with me.
BRAD: That’s awesome. That’s really good to hear, actually.
PIPPIN: Yeah, and it was for those exact reasons because a healthy team is always going to work better, individually and together, than an unhealthy team.
BRAD: Yeah. Yeah, so for those who don’t know it, the post is just our struggles of staying healthy. Each member of the team wrote kind of a few paragraphs about how they stay healthy and how they struggle to stay healthy in the job that keeps them chained to their desk. It’s so hard when you’re working at a screen all day to remember to get up and walk around a bit and then go for a run or whatever. Yeah. Anyway–
PIPPIN: Yeah, so super important. I’m looking forward to see what we all do in the next year. Things like, we’re having our EDD team meet-up in Phoenix at the end of February, and we’re going to try to get everybody out there to play some racquetball and do a few other things like that.
PIPPIN: A really good time.
BRAD: Oh, yeah. One of your team members is big on the racquetball.
PIPPIN: Yeah. Sean is a huge racquetball player.
BRAD: Oh, yeah.
PIPPIN: He plays. At least before he moved to San Diego, was playing almost every single day. He’s starting to get back into it now that he moved out there.
BRAD: Yeah, I met him at PressNomics in Phoenix. He was talking about going to see some celebrity racquetball player, coach, or something.
PIPPIN: Yeah. Yeah, there’s a coach there that he’s met up with a couple times now.
BRAD: Yeah, he’s really into it. That’s pretty cool.
BRAD: That’s good.
PIPPIN: What about — let’s step back from the professional side of things now, unless you have something to jump in first.
BRAD: Actually, there were a couple things I was going to mention for 2015. Just to show, like goals, they don’t mean everything. There are other things that can really have, like things that you haven’t set for goals.
For example, one of the things I’d been planning to do was blog more on our company blog, but do really good blog posts on there. That’s what we started to do at the beginning of last year. Well, if you look at our graph of our traffic to our site, it’s tripled. It tripled from February 1st when we started to December.
PIPPIN: That’s awesome.
BRAD: Which is crazy, and so if anyone tells you that blogging is dead, content marketing is dead, or whatever they want o say is dead, you can definitely do it. I think the key, go on Facebook. I see all these articles that are just such fluff.
That’s one of the things that we refuse to do. When we write an article, there’s no top ten lists. What are some of the titles? You’ll Never Believe What Happens Next.
PIPPIN: Stay way from those.
BRAD: You know those stupid articles. We refused to do any of those click bait stuff. We just write high quality content that we would like to read, and that’s all we do.
PIPPIN: Yeah. We definitely had a renewed focus in that area as well. That’s actually one of the things that we’re hoping to do in 2016 is actually for Affiliate WP. We brought on a new contractor some time in 2015, and she’s been doing a lot of writing for us, a lot of documentation, a lot of support, a lot of everything, but we’d really like to look at doing more of the content marketing side of things. At some point, we’d like to consider having somebody come on full time, somebody move to full time, or somebody change their focus in the team to just doing that full time or coordinating it because it’s so valuable.
BRAD: Yeah, absolutely. I have a question. How many conferences did you attend last year?
PIPPIN: Oh, man. I’m going to have to just try and think off the top of my head because I don’t have a list. I did WordCamp Cape Town, WordCamp U.S. in Philadelphia. I did Prestige in May or so. I did LoopConf. I did PressNomics. I did WordCamp Kansas City.
BRAD: There you go. How many is that?
PIPPIN: I’m pretty sure there was another one or two in there. I did something completely different than I’ve ever done before and I went to a gaming conference in Austin.
BRAD: Oh, interesting.
PIPPIN: That was pretty fun. It was RTX.
BRAD: Why did you do that?
PIPPIN: What was that?
BRAD: Why? What was the motivation for going there?
PIPPIN: One of my high school friends who lives around me still was really wanting to go down to it, but he didn’t want to drive down by himself, and so I offered to drive down with him and go for a day. Then, at the time, Sean, one of our employees, was also living down there. Then there’s a really great brewery down there that I wanted to visit, so we just decided to go ahead and make the trip. I went off and spent some time with Sean. We went to a brewery, met up with another WordPress guy, and then–
BRAD: Did you actually go to the conference sessions?
PIPPIN: I did, yeah, and so I went to the second day of the conference. It was awesome. It was really super fun, actually.
BRAD: Was it interesting? Well, I mean you go to mostly WordPress events, right? Was it interesting to swim in a different pool, to kind of get a different–?
PIPPIN: It was. It was totally fascinating for me. One: Just, like, seeing how different it is seeing the different kind of people that are there. Also, going to an event like that where I’m 100% unplugged from work was a different experience, for sure. I think that’s all of the ones I went to. There might have been another one or two in there. Oh, I went to WordCamp San Diego, and I went to WordCamp St. Louis.
BRAD: Okay. You’re, like, up to ten, I think, by now.
PIPPIN: It’s close to ten, for sure. On average, it was about one a month.
BRAD: Yeah. I only actually went to five, but that’s a huge increase for me. That’s three more than I did the year before. I feel like it was almost too much. I think I’m going to cut back this year a bit. I’m going to shave.
PIPPIN: I am cutting back this year, for sure.
BRAD: Are you? Yeah.
PIPPIN: The one I think I want to do more in what I would call exotic locations, going to places that are a little bit further away that I hadn’t been to before.
BRAD: Right. Pleasure traveling, I guess you’re saying.
PIPPIN: Yeah, pleasure traveling, but combining it with work as well.
BRAD: I see.
PIPPIN: So that it’s a little bit easier to do, a little easier to manage. Tomorrow, my family and I are flying to New Zealand, which will be fun.
BRAD: Right. Isn’t that where Andrew lives, isn’t it?
PIPPIN: Yes. Andrew is down there, and so we’re actually going to stay at his house for two weeks. It should be a good time.
BRAD: For those who don’t know, that’s Andrew Monroe, your business partner, right?
PIPPIN: Yes, with Affiliate WP and EDD. He’s also the designer and developer of PippinsPluggins.com and the RCP site.
BRAD: Nice. Cool. Should we move on to our looking back personally on the personal side?
PIPPIN: Yeah, let’s do that.
BRAD: All right. Cool.
PIPPIN: How about you? What are maybe some things that you did in 2015, and they could be good or bad?
PIPPIN: Maybe highlights or really big black marks.
BRAD: Lowlights. I don’t think I have lowlights for 2015. It was a good year on the personal side. Everyone was healthy and generally happy, although you wouldn’t know that with toddlers crying a lot in our house. But, yeah, generally, everybody was happy and healthy.
One thing I did take on was yoga. I took up yoga. I figured out how to do a version of yoga that works for me because the typical, “Feel the energy flow,” you know, it’s the phony yoga; I call it. I don’t really care for that kind of yoga, and I couldn’t get past it for the longest time.
But, I managed to figure out a way to do that. I found a guy on YouTube. His name is Sean Vigue, and he does yoga on YouTube. He’s like the number one yoga for men instructor or whatever. It’s just less kind of foo-foo, kind of silly stuff that I don’t like. He does a lot of up-selling in his videos, though.
PIPPIN: He knows how to do it.
BRAD: What’s that?
PIPPIN: He knows how to do it. He knows how to run the business.
BRAD: Yeah. Yeah. I guess the problem is, when you turn on his video, there’s like three minutes of him hocking these yoga cards or something, right? That’s a little much.
PIPPIN: There’s a home brewing for brewing beer podcast that I really enjoy, and he has the exact same thing in there. When I step back and look, I realize this is actually probably really smart. This is the way that he keeps it going, and he’s been doing it for ten years. But, the first couple times you’re like, “Man, this is a little much.”
BRAD: Yeah, that’s why I think they have to up-sell us videos without ads in them. I would totally buy his library of yoga videos if it existed, that kind of thing.
Anyway, what I ended up doing was buying his book, and I just use the book, which is nice because I don’t have to have a screen on and a video going, and I can go at my own pace. I’m really enjoying getting better at yoga.
What about you? What was a new thing that you started doing in 2015?
PIPPIN: In 2015 was when I mentioned this for us as a team, but it’s also when, I think, I personally started taking my health a lot more seriously. I’ve always been someone that has a very high metabolism and, to put it this way, was the kid in high school that could eat anything and still be thin as a twig. It kind of lasted that way through college as well.
Then, when I was in college, I was very, very active. I did a lot of rock climbing. I did a lot of biking. I did a lot of outdoor things.
A lot of that has really slowed down. After I graduated college, I moved back to my hometown where there’s a little bit less of just that culture in the area. Then, in the last few years, as I’ve been working to build the business, I’ve spent a lot more time in my office at the desk.
It became apparent to me that I needed to actually take a lot more proactive role in staying healthy because, since I wasn’t going out and doing a lot of rock climbing on the weekends, I wasn’t biking around as much, I needed to actually do more. And so, I started taking it a little more seriously and trying to stay healthy.
I started walking a lot. I started running a lot, and tried to bike a lot more. I didn’t do as much as I would like, but I think I did pretty good. I’m going to try and do even more in the next year.
BRAD: Right. That’s interesting. In that same vein, one thing I started to, in the summer I decided that since I don’t really take regular vacation time, I don’t really allot myself any number of days or anything, and so, therefore, I generally just don’t take any vacation, I decided, hey. You know what I’m going to do? I’m just going to be opportunistic. When it’s a nice day in the summer, I’m going to schedule a tennis match, and I’m going to go play tennis for the afternoon, for a couple hours, or whatever.
For me, that’s super important because the winters here are rotten, so I feel like I really need to take advantage of those summer months and get outside instead of being inside at the computer. Yeah, I kind of rationalized it by saying because I don’t take vacation.
PIPPIN: Yeah, and that’s usually kind of my way of taking a break as well. At least if the weather is permitting, I try to go out and go for a few miles of a run, a bike ride, or something like that. You know, it kind of kills two birds with one stone. It gives me a mental break. It helps take care of me, both physically and mentally. Yeah, it’s a nice combination.
BRAD: Do you usually do it around a certain time of day to break your day up?
PIPPIN: I find that I usually do it — so there are two times a day that I tend to do it. One is either first thing in the morning after I wake up. I find that a lot harder to do in the winter when it’s dark until 8:00 o’clock in the morning, especially because I’m usually up quite a bit before then. But then if it’s in the summer, I’ll do it early in the morning.
Otherwise, it’s maybe around 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon. It’s after the lunch lull. I’m sleepy. I need to wake up, and so there are three options. One: Sit or stand at my desk in a slump and get nothing done, but stare at the screen. Two: Take a nap. Three: Go for a jog or even just a nice walk around the neighborhood.
PIPPIN: And so I try to always opt for the walk.
BRAD: Nice. I usually do yoga or high intensity interval training. I kind of alternate between that and yoga. I do a 20-minute session-ish just before I eat lunch. I find, like, after I come back from lunch, I just feel less gross and kind of feel more energized to tackle the rest of the afternoon.
PIPPIN: Yeah, that’s good.
BRAD: Yeah. Anyway, what else? What else have you been up to in 2015?
PIPPIN: Well, I went to South Africa, which was pretty fun.
PIPPIN: It’s the farthest I’d ever traveled. Definitely the longest time I’d ever spent on a plane, especially with a toddler and a one-year-old. Actually, she wasn’t even one at that time. She was six months old.
PIPPIN: It was 36 hours of traveling to get there.
BRAD: Was that rough, or it was okay?
PIPPIN: You know, it was actually pretty great. We didn’t have any problems at all flying. I attribute a lot of that to the fact that both of them had already flowing three-plus times before that trip. We’ve been very conscious about trying to fly with our kids when they’re very, very little, so even when they were a month old or six months old.
I don’t think traveling with kids is hard, as long as you travel early. Travel early and travel frequently because they just get used to it. It’s something they know how to do, and then it’s not bad. I don’t think I would want to travel with a three- to six-year-old that had never traveled before though.
PIPPIN: I think that would be brutal.
PIPPIN: At least somewhere as far as like South Africa.
BRAD: I think it just depends on the kid too.
PIPPIN: Oh, absolutely. You’re right. Every kid is different.
BRAD: Yeah, because actually both our kids flew pretty well when we flew with them. But, yeah, if they woke up from a nap cranky or something, you know, it could be a challenge. Yeah.
Oh, one thing I did in 2015, I went to Mexico for the first time. That was pretty cool.
PIPPIN: That’s on my to-do list at some point in the next year or two.
BRAD: Oh, you’ve never been?
PIPPIN: I haven’t.
BRAD: Okay. Yeah, I love Mexican food, so to go there and have it there the Mexican way was awesome. Just ate. I basically just ate and walked around and ate some more. Yeah, that was really great. That was in February of last year, so that was in the winter months, so it was quite a switch going from below freezing here to Mexico weather.
PIPPIN: Yeah, that would be a huge difference.
BRAD: Yeah, so it was really nice.
PIPPIN: About two months, I had the opportunity to experience something that was pretty fun. As I’ve mentioned a few times on here, I’ve been very interested in home brewing beer for the last couple of years and have taken it pretty seriously. I personally really love a style or sour beers, which is actually a very broad range of styles, but there are a few subsets within that take a very long time to make, anywhere from eight months to three, four years.
In November of 2014, I started my very first sour beer project, which was a Flanders Red or Flanders style, which is a traditional beer style that comes out of Belgium. Anyway, so I made one in 2014, just after Thanksgiving, and I actually got the opportunity to drink it in November 2015, so it was a full year, and it was awesome.
PIPPIN: It wasn’t the best thing in the world, but it was really, really great. The reason I bring it up is not because I did this thing that was pretty fun for me and maybe for a few others, but because it kind of reminded me of patience and willingness to wait can do a lot of really great thing sin the end. It’s okay to go slow at things. This sour beer, the reason it got so good is because we let it sit and age very slowly over the course of a year or longer.
I don’t know. After the first time that I opened a bottle of it, it just made me step back and think about how I think we forget that. We forget how advantageous it can be to us to just let things move a little slower than you might like at times. It’s okay. It doesn’t have to go fast. It doesn’t have to be a two-week project or a one-month project. I think those that are willing to wait it out and play the long game are going to do very well in the end.
BRAD: I feel like that quality in people is so rare today.
PIPPIN: It is.
BRAD: Because of the on-demand world that we live in now.
BRAD: Whereas, I think, 50 years ago, it would probably be kind of almost the norm, right? Yeah.
BRAD: Yeah, that’s really good insight, I think, for people.
PIPPIN: To draw kind of a further parallel to the brewing world, it’s kind of interesting to me. There’s a lot of the brewing industry that is very much about how fast can we turn this around, how much can we reproduce very quickly? While that is still a very great art, and when it comes to the commercial side of things can be very important, but when you look at the true craftsmen of the trade, they are those that wait it out, take a long time, and really focus on letting their product or whatever they’re doing and producing really develop and grow with time. For 2016, that’s one of my focuses is brewing more sour beers that take a year, two years, three years, four years because it really made me appreciate how valuable being patient is.
BRAD: Right. Yeah. Cool.
PIPPIN: Anyway, that’s one of my, I think, highlights of 2015, for sure.
BRAD: Cool. What else?
PIPPIN: Moving forward.
PIPPIN: What have you got?
BRAD: What else in 2016? For me, one thing I’d like to do is start keeping a daily journal. I think I’ve failed at this pretty much every year for the last, I’d say, three years. I start keeping it, and then it just lapses.
I’ve kind of figured out the problem. The problem is I don’t want to write it by hand because then it’s not searchable. I like to be able to search my notes, basically. It needs to be on a computer, but I do not want to go back to my computer in the evening before I go to bed because then I’ll get sucked into doing work. It happens over and over again, so I just stay away from my office in the evening.
I just got a new tablet and a blue tooth keyboard for it, and so I’m going to start doing it on there. Basically, it’ll just synch to Dropbox, a little text file. We’ll see if this new system works.
PIPPIN: I like that idea. I found that I’m the same way as you. If I sit down on my laptop in the evening, I’m doomed. I’m back in code. I’m in support tickets. I’m doing something, even if I didn’t mean to be there.
But, if I work from my iPad, I don’t have that problem because it is a total separation. It’s a different device. It is not something I do a lot of work on. That’s also one of the same reasons why, in all of the home brewing that I’ve been doing, I actually keep paper notes because I like the complete separation between my work this hobby that I’ve built up. I like the separation of technology.
BRAD: You’re probably not going to need search. You’re probably not going to need to search through those brewery notes. Would that be something that you’re going to be missing?
PIPPIN: After five to ten years, let me come back to that question.
BRAD: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. The other thing people might say, “Oh, why don’t you use–” whatever. There are so many journal apps out there now, right? I think there’s a daily one, really popular.
Anyway, the thing I don’t like about most of those is that they lock you into their ecosystem. Then, what if you decide — maybe they update the software and all of a sudden you don’t like it anymore or whatever. How do you get your stuff out of it?
That’s why I’ve decided I’m just going to go with little text files. I’m not going to put any pressure on myself to write a certain amount. If it’s just one sentence, that’s fine. If I want to write three paragraphs then that’s cool too. This is an experiment for 2016, for sure.
Another thing that I decided to do is adopt this kind of mantra that I heard Derek Sivers. Do you know Sivers, Sivers.org, Derek Sivers?
BRAD: Yeah, so he has this thing. That’s just his blog. He writes about all kinds of stuff, but he has this mantra of, “Hell, yeah, or no.” If you’re not super excited about something where you’re like, “Hell, yeah, I’m going to do that!” then you just say no, right?
I have a habit of just kind of saying, “Um, yeah, okay,” or, like, “Yeah, I guess.” Right? I’m going to put the stop to that bullshit. I find if I’m not all in on something, I’m just not going to do it, right?
PIPPIN: Yep. I love that.
BRAD: Yeah. I mean, I guess there are exceptions to that. If you’re helping someone out and you don’t really want to do it, but you’re helping them, that might be an exception to that.
PIPPIN: Yeah, but that’s a little bit different.
BRAD: Yeah, but then again, maybe, hell, yeah, I do want to help them, right? Maybe that does work in that situation.
But, I’ll link to his blog post in the show notes. I actually heard it on Tim Ferris’s interview of Derek Sivers, so I’ll link that up as well. It’s a really cool interview. There are all kinds of life hacking tips and stuff in there. But, that’s the one that I took out that I’m like, I’ve got to start doing that.
PIPPIN: Yeah, that’s great.
BRAD: Anything for you? Anything else for you in 2016?
PIPPIN: I’ve got a couple. One: I want to just continue with staying healthy. I want to walk three to four miles a day. Beyond that, I want to go a little bit higher. I would really like to increase my running a little bit. I’d like to get up to running a half marathon at some point in the year.
PIPPIN: I’ve never gone above about a 5K. I don’t really have that much interest in running a marathon, but I think a half marathon would be fun.
PIPPIN: I’d like to do a lot more long distance biking. I would like to go out and do a 50-mile ride or something like that. I think the furthest I’ve ever ridden at this point is about 25 to 27 miles.
PIPPIN: I’d like to double it.
BRAD: That’s cool.
PIPPIN: Go out for the whole day.
BRAD: I was really hung up on biking across Canada at one point.
PIPPIN: I’d like to bike across Kansas or bike across the U.S. would be awesome.
BRAD: Yeah, like coast-to-coast, right? That’s many, many miles.
PIPPIN: So many.
PIPPIN: And Canada is about the same size as the U.S. in terms of east to west.
BRAD: Oh, it is. Exactly, so it’s a really long ride. I’ve talked to people that have done it, and they usually average about 100K a day or 100 kilometers, so whatever that is in miles. Yeah, it sounds like an awesome adventure, but I don’t think I’ll be able to do it.
PIPPIN: I was going to start a little slow. In the next couple years, I want to do the bike across Kansas, which I think it’s around 250 miles, maybe, 250, 300 miles. No, sorry. It’s more than that. It’s closer to 500 miles.
PIPPIN: From east to west.
BRAD: My reason for not doing it yet is that it’s super dangerous.
BRAD: To cycle on the highway with big transfer trucks going by and stuff. It’s ridiculously dangerous, so I think I’m going to wait until my kids are older.
PIPPIN: Yeah, that’s kind of the same thing that I thought of. Also, unless you take the kids with you–
BRAD: Yeah, you’re not with them.
PIPPIN: –you’re going to leave them for three, four, five weeks.
BRAD: Yeah. That’s a hard sell to the wife.
PIPPIN: Yeah. Yeah, I’d like to get out. I’d like to do some more long distance biking. I want to get a little bit more serious about, if I need to travel ten miles to visit someone or go to a meeting, I’m going to bike it. I tried to do that a lot this last year, and I’d like to do more of it.
Then, lastly, I want to travel to either two or more countries. Tomorrow, I will have crossed off one because I’m heading to New Zealand.
BRAD: New countries, you mean, like new countries that you haven’t been to?
PIPPIN: New countries I haven’t been to.
PIPPIN: Yeah, and so at some point in the year then I’ve got to figure out somewhere else that we’re going to go. Probably looking at somewhere possibly in Europe.
PIPPIN: Or Central or South America.
BRAD: Maybe Austria, Vienna?
PIPPIN: That would be fun.
BRAD: WordCamp Europe.
PIPPIN: That’s where WordCamp Europe is, isn’t it?
BRAD: That’s right. Yeah. We’re doing our company retreat there in June.
PIPPIN: That’s super awesome. Yeah, maybe.
BRAD: On that note, actually, or similarly, we’re going on our first kid free vacation since our first son was born. My wife and I have really just been traveling for work stuff. She goes to conferences. I go to conferences.
Then we’ve taken one kid to Mexico. We took our son to Mexico with us when we went. This April, it’ll be our first trip without our kids, first trip together without any kids, and we’re going to Costa Rica.
PIPPIN: Awesome! Which part of Costa Rica are you going to?
BRAD: I’ve been talking to Carl Hancock, who is a huge fan of Costa Rica.
PIPPIN: Oh, yeah.
BRAD: If you ever talked to Carl, he loves Costa Rica. Carl Hancock is one of the founders of Rocket Genius, Gravity Forms, so one of the WordPress communities, pillars. Anyway, he was saying the west, northwestern part of Costa Rica is his favorite place, and we’re only there for seven days, so I think we’re going to go to Carl’s favorite place.
PIPPIN: That’s awesome.
PIPPIN: If you end up needing another idea, for whatever reason, if you want more or if something doesn’t work out, you should try to make it to — there are two places to me that stuck out when I visited in high school.
PIPPIN: One is Capos, which is a small, coastal town on the Pacific side. It’s just beautiful. Then the other is Monte Verde.
BRAD: Oh, yeah.
PIPPIN: Which is way up in the cloud forests.
BRAD: Yep, we’re going to Monte Verde on our way to the northwest.
PIPPIN: Are you going to go through the Arenal Volcano as well?
BRAD: Yeah, Carl recommended both of those.
PIPPIN: They’re both just gorgeous.
BRAD: We’re flying in to San Jose, and then we’re kind of making our way across Costa Rica, hitting those two places, and then ending up in — I can’t remember the name of it. It’s just like the northwest coast, whatever town is there. Yeah, so we’ll see what it’s like.
PIPPIN: That should be great.
BRAD: I can’t wait.
PIPPIN: I’ve been wanting to go back to Costa Rica ever since I’ve been, so that’s pretty high on my list of places to go back to.
BRAD: Yeah. My wife and I, one of the things that we love doing is traveling, exploring, experiencing new cultures, and eating new food at these places that you can’t get back home. Yeah, this it’ll be our first time to do that in years.
PIPPIN: Their pancakes are awesome.
BRAD: The pancakes?
PIPPIN: It’s one thing that stuck out to me. For whatever reason, Costa Rican pancakes are out of this world.
BRAD: I’m going to think — I’m thinking — you were in college, you said?
PIPPIN: I was in high school at the time.
BRAD: Oh, high school. Okay. I was going to say maybe they were hangover pancakes, but probably not if you were in high school.
PIPPIN: Oh, no. No, these were just legitimately excellent pancakes.
PIPPIN: All right, anything else for 2016, before we wrap up here?
BRAD: I think we should just wrap it up. We could probably go on forever here.
PIPPIN: Yeah. Well, I think, overall, it sounds like 2015 worked out very well for you guys, and I know it worked out well for us.
PIPPIN: Looking forward to 2016.
BRAD: Definitely. All right.
PIPPIN: Thanks for your time, everyone.
BRAD: Yep, talk to you later.