I had purchased a welder last year (2019) with the intention to begin learning how to use it – starting with small projects – and working my way towards a level of competence. The first project was a welding table – from weldtables.com. Essentially followed the instructions and it was nearly impossible to mess up.
My second project was dubbed “Project Trellis” and it started with some drawings as all good projects do. This was right around the beginning of the Covid lockdown and I was going a bit stir crazy and really needed something to do. The goal was to fabricate some simple yet good looking trellis for the various vines we have around the house. A little Adobe illustrator and the iPhone camera allowed me to put something together for my wife Sally to sign off on before got I started. The cut list is in the image below.
I first cut all the main frame pieces. Simple 45-degree cuts on the saw. Lined up and squared the corners with clamps before tack welding them.
In hindsight, I think I should have used 1″ square tube instead of 1×1/2. I was just really trying to keep the weight down. However the 1″ square would have made for a cleaner finished product as the 3/8in rod mesh would have been completely contained within the frame and hidden from the side view.
The 3/8in square rod had a lot of grease and mill scale so I hit it all with a flapper disk after cutting.
I made a pretty major rookie move and failed to primer the trellis before painting – so the latex paint (Left over from when they painted the house) just scratched off with a finger nail. Such failure. Wire wheeled it all off, hit it with primer, and then repainted.
The welder is a Miller Multimatic 255, using 0.30 wire and C25 gas. I used the auto settings more the most part tuned to the gauge of steel I was welding at the time.
The thin walled 1×1/2 tube was really easy to burn through and I had to be quiet careful.
The first 3 are done and I am quite happy with the finished project – and it’s 100% wife approved. Video Below.
I remember when I was little and my aunt turned 40, the decorations all made jokes about being “over the hill”. I remember being 14/15 and thinking 16 and driving was an eternity away. I remember in college, as a 21yr old working a summer construction job – my supervisor was 28 – and I verbally teased him about being so old. I could not even fathom what 28 was like. Most of my late twenties and thirties seem to be a blur – getting married, building a company, and then starting a family. I never felt any age during the last 15yrs or so.. So I could not tell you what 28 feels like, or 36 for that matter.
40 does feel older though, my joints are beginning to relive the trauma of my early 20s spent playing rugby and snowboarding like I was invincible. Besides gray slowly winning ground in the battle of my winter beard and staving off a beer belly it’s not too bad.
Invincible – that word captures the essence of what I think has changed over the last year leading up to turning 40 this month. Like a boss fight in a video game – I’ve discovered a few weaknesses in my world view. My entire life I have marveled at the pace of change and the advancement of culture and society. In school we learned about the Romans, the dark ages, the enlightenment, the industrial revolution, the great wars, the information age. I held a belief that it (sans dark ages) always gets better, that humanity is evolving beyond tribal sects and scarcity politics. Lol.. not so much. The idealism of my youth is being hardened by the wisdom of.. experiences lived.
There was also a time when people thought the sun orbited the earth and some wanker in Congress likely still believes that and many more ignorant things.
I contemplated what it means to grow old and die for what I think was the very first time a few months back. Nothing morbid, but the reality finally became known to my brain that at some point it just ends. Took me 39years to even entertain the thought experiment and I came to the realization I won’t live forever. At some point I guess we will all see the day come ing closer and either make peace with it and begin to live our best life, or don’t. I also realized – it’s a scary thought “not being here”.
End existential musings.
At 40, I am living a pretty close approximation to what would likely be my best life. After 15yrs of entrepreneuring our business is successful by any measure, providing Sally and I with the safety net and retirement nest egg responsible adults are encouraged to have, and the additional means to do anything or be anywhere we want. I’ve racked up “instagram stories” and passport stamps with increasing regularity as we’ve set off on what I like to call adventures – which are made possible by a glitch in the matrix I’ve stumbled on… when you arrive at a place financially where you can afford 1st class travel for your family anywhere in the world.. turns out you just don’t have to. It’s true – the game is rigged.
A favorite reframe between a friend and myself is “Can you believe this shit!?” as we giggle like kids questioning how we got to this place where money is not an everyday a concern. Starting from zero – with a bit of drive, lots of luck, and a massive early advantage of white hetro normative cis male privledge – It just worked out.
Our kids are most certainly the best kids on the planet, way better than any other pair of kids ever conceived, then, now, or ever. 2 boys, that are unique and special, yet seem to have pulled much from Sally and I into their little bursting spirits. I need to get better at slowing down with them and being more present, but I do marvel, daily, at the wonderment, joy, and fascination they live in. I love you boys – I am and will always be proud of you.
My partner of 17 and wife of 15years, my queen – I am often told how she was the best thing to ever happen to me. In the tussles of marriage I may forget that truth from time to time, but it is my truth. At 20 I was a beer-swilling, average college student, spinning compass in hand – man-child. At 40.. I do still act childish at times and I LOVE beer.. but I think I now know what I want out of this life and how to get it, and I also know what I want to give back to it. Thanks Sally.
40 – Over the hill my ass.
I am grateful for much in this life thus far. My family, all of them, yes even the wierd ones. The ability to adventure and explore, and to give. The last 20years seemed to have been all about putting the work in, to earn a place here now, that we like. Delayed gratification, the persistent execution of an business idea, the slow climb to the top of this hill. We created a life and we created 2 humans in doing so. (we’re expected and trying to raise them right too)
I’ll take a pass on strolling down the other side of this hill cynically into old age. What about drifting down the S curves in a 1000RWHP 6speed monster, maybe rally up to the next peak as well? That sounds fun, I think I’ll do that instead. Hello 40.
You followed the directions measuring and adding the proper amount of water to your sauce pan. You gently stir for the prescribed amount of time waiting in anticipation of your pending meal. After a few minutes you begin to think maybe you ruined it as the sauce seems to be overly runny and won’t stick to your noodles.
You refer back to the recipe and there it is on the bottom, nearly hidden is the last step. “Remove from heat, let stand 1 minute. Sauce will thicken“.
Is it not the same in business?
Sometimes a strategy just needs a little time to simmer for the flavors to blend. We get impatient and wonder why it is not working as well or as soon as we thought it should. So we set it aside for a moment wondering if we should scrap it and change direction or tact. And then it happens, the sauce thickens and it all comes together and you look like a genius.
We are in our 6th year now as Pagely having recently celebrated our 5th birthday in September. It’s been a long road filled with highs and lows, missteps and wins.
These last few months, it has really come together for us in a big way. Our topline is on fire as we are on pace to double revenues within a 3 quarter time-frame. We are augmenting our support and engineering teams with new hires. PressNomics 3 was a smashing success by all accounts and the goodwill that flows from that will only accelerate our upward trajectory.
Bootstrapping is not easy and takes a heaping dose of luck. Just remember to let the sauce thicken a bit before tossing it out and starting over.
He is my older brother and is a good guy. He has a few big passions in his life: His kids, Snowboarding, Tie-Dye, and the band TOOL
When I say he loves TOOL, he really really loves TOOL, like went to 5-6 TOOL shows this year alone, and maybe 20, 30 in his life. He’s a superfan, period.
Sally and I were out to dinner the other day with some friends, coincidentally it was the day after I attended the TOOL concert here in Phoenix (I’m a fan too). The FnB restaurant/bodega sells wine from the Caduceus Winery owned/operated by Maynard Keenen (TOOL vocalist). The co-owner of the restaurant secured me a hard to find bottle of Caduceus wine as a gift for my brother Jeremy who as you now know is a rabid TOOL fan. What a nice guy I am right?
Make him super happy
So I shoot off a txt message to Jay showing him what I got for him. (screenshots stitched in photoshop)
Notice that he said he got goose bumps. Jay is not a super outwardly emotional person. I am pretty sure this was a big deal for him.
Kick him in the junk.
Then a couple days later, on April 1.
Yeah, I did give away his Iron Maiden piece of mind tapestry to his friend when I was like 8, and I did shoot the neighbors chickens with his BB gun and let him take the blame when I was 9. Meh.
So, pretty sure in the few minutes before I told him April Fools, my older brother was most definitely tearing up. I do have the bottle, and yes I will send it to him soon.. Ha.
Unfortunately the post title is a self-descriptive term.
A couple days ago I began to think about and focus on my interpersonal relationships. With Sally, and with others. I have arrived at the conclusion, (and by all accounts I am very late getting to it) that I lean heavily towards being a overly self-involved, narcissistic, selfish ass. Sure I have plenty of redeeming qualities, but on the day-to-day I think my selfishness play’s a dominant role.
This is not a personality trait I wish to continue having. Means I am going to have to work on showing empathy, being a better listener, dropping my ego, and being more honest with myself and others about how I feel.
I am so stoked on the direction my company Pagely is going and the progress we are making. My kids and wife are amazing. Being a Dad with 2 small boys in pretty much the coolest thing I could have ever imagined.
However, I am so fucking tired. Like sleep for a week tired.
Get the kids down for bed at 7pm, smart thing would be go sleep myself. But the other side of my brain has been working on new wireframes, or code chunks, or marketing elements since around 3pm when I quit ‘work’. So with a rush of energy I flip open the laptop and get cranking again instead of sleep.
Come 11pm or midnight I know I have to get some sleep, so I crawl into bed. Sit there for 30mins while my brain keeps solving problems, then wake up an hour later to burp my youngest and get him settled back to sleep. Same thing again at 4:30am, maybe get a little more sleep till 7am before I brew some coffee and start the cycle again.
Evan is about 12 weeks now, so I know it wont be like this forever.. another 10 or 12 weeks and he should sleep most of the night thru. That is the hardest part as the sleep I am getting is so crummy since I am up every couple hours.
Worth it? Hell yes! <Yawn>
There are parts of my life that I would like to improve of course, but overall I feel like I am in a great place.
Ethan on the left who is nearly 2, and Evan who is 3 mos.
We make our Managed WordPress accounts as secure as possible. To help achieve that, we blacklist a number of plugins known to cause security issues. This list uses the name of the folder the plugin creates when you install it. You can view this directory by connecting to your Managed WordPress account via sFTP
If you have been comparison shopping for Managed WordPress Hosting you may have run across another competitor of ours that also publicly posts a list of plugins they “disallow”.
The two lists are identical which leads me to believe that the GD engineering team did not actually research or vet their listed plugins but simply played copy-pasta from someone else. Since they did not validate the list themselves, I think it would be fair to say they really have no idea why they are banning a particular plugin.
Here is a little more insight: I noticed a plugin on both lists called hcs.php which happens to not exist in the .org repo or could be found on google, but is the exact name we gave one of our internal mu-plugins that was used to manage Pagely sites early in 2010: hcs stands for “Hosted Client Service” which is the white label name some of our Reseller system ran under at the time. I got a good laugh after the one competitor added it to their banned a list a couple years ago, twas a small display of gamesmanship between rival offerings.
However for the life of me I cannot decipher why GoDaddy’s brand new managed hosting service would ban a plugin that has not been used in over 3 years and likely only a handful of copies ever left our servers when a customer migrated out. Their engineers that in theory should have supplied said list after researching and vetting each plugin were asleep on the job, or really bad at it, or both.
In the life of my company we have turned away more inbound solicitation by VC firms then I can remember. Jr. partners and research analysts fill my inbox with polite requests for a meeting to discuss Pagely raising a round of investment. One in particular I remember seems to blanket the whole segment as in each email they would reveal who else was raising capital and that we should take their cash as well so as not be ‘left behind’. Even Automattic, the 800lb gorilla in WordPress, and a backer of 2 our competitors politely offered a few bucks to ‘show support’, not sure how genuine their support is when backing other horses in the same race. On the flipside, in 2011-2012 we toyed with the idea ourselves and spoke with a few VC firms to explore the waters.
With each, and every conversation, the outcome has been the same. It’s just not what we want to do right now. The reasons sometimes change but they are always rooted in the philosophy that as founders, Sally and I feel our customers should always be the top priority.
“We do not have investors, we have customers. We exist only to serve them.” Who said that? I did.. about once a month for the last 4 years.
My friend Micah said this yesterday on the subject:
If you are building a venture backed company, you are not building a company to feed your family, you are building a company with an expected return. You will have to sell it privately or publicly. Your investors goals may (or may not) align with yours. But the only goal of a venture backed company is the big exit. It’s what gets lost in the game. I dont care if you want to change the world, if you take venture money the goal is the exit (and if you change the world along the way, great.) If the entrepreneur doesn’t want to operate in that reality, don’t take the money. – Micah Baldwin
We never took the money.
With every announcement of a big raise heralded as a milestone of success by the myopic press covering the tech sector there is the story of a founder being demoted, kicked out, or burned out by his new VC controlled board. There is the story of the founder’s wife (a co-founder herself) that was cut from payroll and pushed out by the lead investor without even consenting the other founder, her husband. There is the Founder+CEO that makes the blog post about stepping over to new a title as CTO or CMO or “Chief of product awesome”, but it all sugar-coated fluff papering over the real fact that the ‘adults’ with the money made the decision and let the guy take the new title to save some face.
A company that once existed to serve it’s customers and founders, now serves the board and the preferred stock shareholders. Customers are no longer the life blood of the company, they are wallets to extract shareholder value from via upsells, cross-sells, cost-cutting, and lock in.
I have many friends in this world of venture backed companies. And the common thread between all of them is the frustration of always being on the brink of running out money and needing to go raise more. Which means further diluting their own shares and their financial incentive to work in the company they started. It also means another seat on the board given to someone who’s only goal is to to achieve a return on their investment, no idealistic founder, or set of company values are going to stand in their way.
Yes I realize I am sounding a little Polly Anna, and this is not always the outcome. Many a founder/company have taken the rocket fuel and have been happy with the outcome. However they are a minority of the minority of the minority.
In our WordPress space I look at Envato as a role model. Self-funded, great set of company values, and very very successful. They know what got them to that success, and it was not outside VC pushing for an IPO or exploding the top line to increae valuation, it was treating their employees and authors/customers right and making sure everybody won along they way.
If you raised a VC round and still lead and love your company, and your customers still love you. Then you sir/ma’am have my congratulations. Dead serious, you beat the odds and I applaud you.
Maybe one day we’ll raise a round. Until then I would like you to meet our current investors.
I am lurker of sorts, I read your blog post but I don’t comment. I scan your tweets and go back to work without replying. I read the words of many a WordPress dev/biz owner espouse their commitment to the community and how what they do is for the betterment of such. I get it. I drank the kool-aid too. I felt kool, dammit I was kool. I wrote something regarding this before, and something else before that. Community rules! Right?
Today I read an article about Shaun White, the snowboarding phenom. This is the guy that pisses excellence in the morning. He was younger, better, and didn’t play the social game by the established rules. What rules do I mean?
The story that White tells himself is that he never clicked with the other snowboarders because nobody likes the kid who always wins. Many riders see it differently. They resented White for snubbing them, not even pretending they were all friends, an attitude that is central to snowboarding’s self-concept. “He didn’t hang out with them,” Finger says. “He didn’t show any of that camaraderie, stoking each other out, knuckle-bumping and high-fiving. He’d just show up and then win and then leave.”
This kid is the best there is in his chosen field. He showed up, won, and bounced. For whatever reason he did not hang out and socialize with the snowboarding ‘community’. The guy had shit to do, like get back to training for the next competition. According to this article he was not well liked because he did not play the social game.
But perhaps the main reason White is not a leader inside the snowboarding community is that he’s barely even in that community at all. “Physically and mentally, he’s one of the most incredible athletes,” says Jayson Hale, a snowboarder who was on the 2006 Olympic team. “But the truth is he has few friends on the snow. He’s able to put that aside. He has the gnarliest black cloud I’ve seen at the top of the halfpipe of all these dudes who hate him and who are talking behind his back. Yet he still comes out first.”
The best the sport has ever seen, is not a ‘leader inside the community’. Why? Cause he plays to win. He does not play to have friends, or create the appearance of winning, he just fucking wins.
So how does this relate to the WordPress community? It is pretty obvious to me. I see folks playing the social game, tweeting back and forth cheerleading for WordPress. I also know of folks that barely make a social media peep and are never seen at community events, yet are absolutely crushing it. I ventured to ask someone in the WordPress community what the backchannel on “Josh” was. He replied simply that “you come across as really confident, and that intimidates people”. He later expanded on his answer and left me the sense that was his polite way of saying I’m an asshole. Okay, I’ll work on that.
Is Community involvement paramount to the success of a WordPress focused business?
I don’t know is it? For the last two years, my company Pagely has taken the time and expense to host an event called PressNomics for other business owners in the WordPress Community. By all accounts the events have been a huge success in terms of everyone that attends gushed about it. Relationships were made, new ventures were formed. We even covered our costs and had some left over to donate to charity (St. Judes Children’s research Hospital). Where other companies we know may invite you to dinner and lay on the hard sell to use their service, we host PressNomics as an altruistic act, only asking attendees to enjoy themselves and help support St Judes. Matt Medeiros picked up on it.
Earlier is the life our company we sponsored WordCamps and I have spoke at a dozen or so. We saw after the first one the ROI on sponsorship dollars was nearly zero, but “we did it for the community” became the rationalization that I and many I know have used to explain the spend (One reason why we try really hard to deliver value for PressNomics sponsors). Hell there is even social pressure for successful companies to sponsor WordCamps as heaven forbid if you don’t you clearly don’t support the Community.
We played the social media game, buddy buddy with all the players. We host a unique and well respected annual event for the community. We sponsored and participated in other community events. Was it all vital to our success? I think it played an important part but I am skeptical on whether it was a make or break decision. 60 million WordPress sites, with millions added every year. Relationships drive business, there is probably no way to escape that fact so some involvement is surely needed.
Win and get back to work.
I am trying to get at a simple point, a take-away from the article on Shaun White. Win, and the get back to work training to win some more. The folks in the community that are your “friends” are the same people in most cases you have to beat to win (Matt Mederios nails it). Does friendly competition exist? They are playing to win, so you better be as well. They will give you high-fives at the top of the half-pipe and cheer for you on camera when you win gold, but to keep winning, you need to get back to work. Say thank you, walk away, and get the fuck back to work.
You are the only one responsible for your success. Just don’t take yourself too seriously.
White is aware that his life has a tendency to make him self-centered. He also knows this is a problem — not one large enough to scuttle the documentary he’s financing about himself but enough to think he should work on empathy. “All of today was about me, and that’s a bummer,” he said once we moved down the street to a cafe on Rodeo Drive.