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WordCamp MSP 2018: My Key Takeaways

WordCamp MSP 2018: My Key Takeaways Hello to all my Financial Freedom seekers!  In August 2018, I had the privilege of attending WordCamp Minneapolis. This event was geared towards web Developers and I found myself excited for this event since I am now managing MoneyByRamey.com. I was not exactly sure what to expect; had been to a Meetup event geared towards learning more about WordPress and found the information and people absolutely fantastic. I wanted to take a moment to write down some of my thoughts about the presentation and speakers in order to share them with all of you, my readers. Enjoy!

Business is Thriving and the Rest is Only Surviving by Katie Elenberger

The talk given by Katie was very interesting because she comes from a real-world experience, a growing agency, and her talk was all geared around how to make life more manageable. I found this very relatable in the sense that I will often take on so much in my own life that there can be a sense of overwhelm or a sense of being out of balance.

My Key Takeaways

  1. Double the deadline when giving estimates for projects.
  2. Only take on a few tasks per day – she even had some friends saying their to-do lists were only 1-3 items long.
  3. It is okay to say no in a nice way.  If it’s not a ‘Hell yes’ it is a no.
  4. Double down on services.
  5. Keep things in perspective (i.e. sure you might be late to a meeting but maybe the hurricanes in the Caribbeans just devastated the region.  Putting that into perspective, you’re being late is quite a small deal).  
  6. Find someone that is ahead of you to Mentor you in business.

Growing great teams by Drew Gorton

I really enjoyed Drew’s talk; though at initial glance the topic might appear straightforward, he dove into some fantastic information on how to build solid teams.

My Key Takeaways

  1. Developing a BHAG, or having a big hairy audacious goal that motivates your team. Although team members might have different individual goals, if you have one goal for the entire team, you are working towards setting a common purpose and creating a culture that works for your organization.
  2. Diversity.  Drew brought up how important diversity is to a workplace. He made the good point that if people are more alike than different, they have a tendency not to work as hard as they do not believe they have to prove their point as much. However if they are part of a diverse team that doesn’t necessarily share the same beliefs, background, or culture, that same person will be forced to work a little harder to prove a point as they will recognize there isn’t congruency in belief systems. I have never thought about diversity in this way and I am happy that Drew gave me more to think about.
  3. As a manager, you have to seek out issues, and the ugliest problems are your problems. Sometimes this is something I do not like to hear, as being a Minnesotan, I believe that my natural tendency is to avoid conflict, not embrace it.  Drew’s main point was that as a manager, you are not doing your job if you are avoiding conflict and hoping that it just goes away. A good manager needs to embrace, understand, and resolve conflict across the team. This is an area where I want to personally improve; instead of perceiving conflict as a negative thing, my goal is to seek out conflict to solve, improve, and grow relationships and trust on the teams in which I work.
  4. If you are repeatedly on teams in conflict, the fault may lie with you.  This is difficult for many to hear. No one likes to admit that they might be a potential source of conflict.  In my own career, I have worked harmoniously with some individuals and in steady conflict with other individuals.  I know much of my conflict comes from my value of time freedom, not wanting to be tied to a desk all day, and valuing worked hours above hours worked.  This is now an element I am keenly aware and cognizant of;I will look to walk the fine line between my value of time freedom and making sure others don’t think I am taking advantage of the system.  

What I’ve learned by from asking how did you build that? by Joe Casabona

Joe’s talk was based on the the proposal that sometimes all you have to do is ask to find out your answer.  He was inspired by Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. I forget the exact quote Joe used so I picked one of my own:

The questions are always more important than the answers.

Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Joe also runs a podcast HowIBuilt.It where he talks to various individuals to learn their stories about building products, systems, etc. It is a good reminder that if you don’t ask the answer will always be no, but if you do ask the answer might be no, but it might also be yes or something that one does not expect. I found this initial talk to be refreshing.

My Key Takeaways (Resources)

  1. Zapier
  2. Lifeforce EMS
  3. Learndash
  4. Jilt
  5. Woocommerce
  6. How to Sell Anything to Anyone which I will add to my reading list.

Twitter #IRL By Raquel Landefeld

Raquel detailed heart her strategy around networking and connecting with individuals. She stated that although the world is trending toward communications on social platform networking, individuals still need to connect on the human level.  Raquel also detail her strategy of connecting with others; whenever someone comes to mind, that she reaches out to them in that moment whether it be a simple hello over a social media network, a specialized card in the mail, or some other way of letting the person know that she is thinking of them. This type of ‘masterful’ networking is an area I want to grow in my own life. I find that I connect really well with my good friends and not necessarily with my secondary social or professional circles. I will be looking to maintain relationships in a  more purposeful manner moving forward.

Website Hacked By Laura Byrne Cristiano

This was a 15 min mini session and in it, Laura gave a very funny and witty talk on having her website hacked. Her and her friend ran the most popular Twilight forum on the entire internet, and ended up having their entire site hacked and as a result, they had to rebuild the forum from scratch. My key takeaway is asking myself: how secure is my information? Truthfully, I do not think I am where I need to be just yet. While I do have pretty strong passwords and a security system on my site, I’m starting to realize that I’m going to need to make additional changes to keep my information and site as secure as can possibly be.

Changes I Will Be Implementing

  1. Using a VPN whenever I’m on a public network (which I am doing right at this moment while working from a coffee shop on public wi-fi).
  2. Keeping my passwords in a more secure fashion instead of out in cyberspace or in a spreadsheet.  I will be looking into a safe storage mechanism for password protection.
  3. Making sure that all my passwords continue to be complex in nature.  Laura was hacked because one of her admins had a very easy password – her nephews name with the year he was born.  Brute force attacks can break these type of passwords very quickly.
  4. Have different logins for different areas of my site.  I.e. one user/pass to control the master login, one user/pass to control another aspect of my site, etc.  

Conquering the Imposter by Brenda Cimbura

Brenda delivered a hard-hitting session as anyone that attended most likely was dealing with or has dealt with some form of feeling like an imposter.  For myself, I have felt this at times, especially in regards to heading into areas where I do not have a mastery level skill set. What Brenda spoke of was common knowledge, however she presented the knowledge in a way that was very refreshing to all of us.  

My Key Takeaways

  1. As perfectionists, we tend to set the bar so high with our expectations being too grand.  We would do much better to have a more realistic attitude toward accomplishing and undertaking tasks and ventures.  
  2. The ‘imposter’ attitude already has a belief system that as we achieve success at new tasks and new areas of knowledge, we are lucky rather than we worked hard towards achievement.  We need to begin viewing abilities and skills as being developed; this new growth mindset will allow us to better counteract a procrastination type mindset. A growth mindset allows for learning through making mistakes, trial and error, and accepts that the only way to new knowledge or skills is through attempting new things while anticipating imperfections and failings.  
  3. PETS (Performance Enhancing Thoughts) vs PITS (Performance Interfering Thoughts). Our goal is to continue to grow our enhancing thoughts and to challenge our interfering thoughts.  
  4. Book: Strengths Finder 2.0.  This book will help us figure out what our particular strengths might be and once we know our strengths, to capitalize on those strengths.

The SEO Panel

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in this last session of the day the SEO panel although I was excited to hear what these speakers had to say about improving and growing SEO. Probably the biggest thing that I learned in this session was the fact that here are all these people with so much knowledge of SEO, but none of them knew what Google’s algorithm is to figure out SEO. They mentioned how the SEO formulas and rankings formulas are always changing, which makes it challenging for individual websites to figure out how to rank higher in the Google rankings.

My Key Takeaways

  1. Make sure that the pages of my websites load quickly; the metric is commonly 1.8 seconds or less.  Having a quick load time will help my page rank higher in Google rankings.
  2. Maintain basic practices such as doing some keyword research and making sure I have a keywords selected in each of my post.  Keyword research should also be done in incognito mode as this will help bypass google’s inclination to suggest targeted results, which could skew the keywords.     
  3. Do not buy back links.  The speakers really did not want anyone paying for links As this is just bad business.  It sounds like it doesn’t help a website rank higher and it actually might hurt a website via being put on google’s dreaded ‘blacklist.’  

Tools: SCM Rush, Google Keyword plan, Google Trends in incognito mode.

Build Process Automation by Kevin O’Brien

I must admit that much of what Kevin spoke of was above and beyond my current WordPress knowledge; regardless of this fact, it turned me on to the idea of how much I can learn and how much I can improve my website.

My Key Takeaways

  1. Thinking of  ways I can automate so many of my tasks on my WordPress and even extend this principle into my personal and professional life. A  main point is to keep it simple and keep it fast. 

Tools to research: Webpack, Npm.com – wpcom.js, Gulp, Grunt, yarn, nodejs.org

How to Be the Action Hero of Your Own Life by Ellen Goodwin

I really enjoyed the talk that Ellen gave.  While each speaker was fantastic, her presentation was the most refined and succinct of the entire day; you can tell she has presenting down to a masterful art. 

My Key Takeaways

  1. Action > Motion.  Her main talking point was action versus motion. She posed the question: “how many motion heroes do we know?” The answer is none. There are only action heroes.  Motion is the process of getting stuff done but not going anywhere. She classified planning as a necessary motion; for us though action needs to come out of the motion otherwise we are just spinning our wheels.  There needs to be a definite line between ending motion and beginning action (say 12pm on Monday, one goes from planning and preparing to actually doing).
  2. Gamify tasks.   The biggest enemy of action is procrastination. If there are low value low priority task, she suggests making a game out of it. For instance, one of her games was ‘roll the die’ in which you have 6 tasks, and you assign a dice value for each task.  You roll the dice and whichever number comes up, that is the task you do.
  3. Stop making decisions. Yes, she advocated not to make as many decisions which to me, is counter intuitive – I have always adhered to the idea of making quick decisions.  Willpower and self-control are available in limited quantities therefore it makes sense to do what we need to do to make less decisions to save exercising our ‘willpower’ muscle. This could be in creating habits where we don’t have to make any type of decision as the habit is already a built-in decision for us.
  4. Ellen also advocated for batch scheduling, where we focus on a specific tasks and remove all types of distractions.  This is easier said than done although once done, it is a powerful thing to work on a task uninterrupted for a period of time.

Building a Profitable WP Agency by Jocelyn Mozak

Joceyln has a very interesting background – Ivy league educated, Intel employee for many years, now running her own shop.  I enjoyed the real life examples of what it took to build a profitable web agency.

My Key Takeaways

  1. A good team is a collection of experts each working in their sweet spots.
  2. As employees, our goals is to work in the space where we are energized.
  3. As a business, there is a need to raise prices as time goes on.  This goes hand-in-hand with remembering what value we bring to our customers; our team of experts, systems and processes, multiple lines of support.
  4. Have employees create Amazon wish lists and reward them via purchasing items on those lists.

Tools to research: LOOM, WPElevation.com

Building a Startup into a New Brand by Andrea Trew

Andrea delved deep into what it means to create a solid brand.  Her talk had me go back to where I see my current businesses from a branding perspective.  Overall I think MoneyByRamey.com is branded well although after hearing Andrea talk, I do know there are areas of improvement to implement.

My Key Takeaways

  1. A brand is not a logo or marketing; rather it is how customers feel about your company or product.  A brand is memories and stories about the brand.
  2. Feel = Trust.
  3. Questions to ask: What do we do?  How do we do it?  Who do we do it for?  What value do we bring?
  4. Find a branding niche – look at what works and follow suit.

Bringing It Home

Being my first year at WordCamp, I was not sure what to expect; overall it was an awesome experience and I will be looking forward to WordCamp 2019!  The people are so welcoming and there was a ton of great knowledge on display.  I also really enjoyed interacting with the sponsors and received some cool items in return – a GoDaddy waterbottle, a WordFence Coffee mug, and a few penguin logos for the nephews!]]>

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