Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman

It’s funny, when I’m not thinking about starting a software company, I start getting flooded with ideas. And since I’ve started coaching founders, I’m getting more of these ideas.

A few have come up that are pretty damn good. Or at least I am interested in them because I really like the industry, which is the e-learning and online course space. This is a market that I have been involved with my entire career – even before my foray into WordPress.

But unfortunately, that’s a problem.

Why is it a problem?

I am still bound by a non-compete clause after the sale of LearnDash, and that restriction doesn’t expire until 2026.

If I wanted to move forward in the e-learning industry, I would need to seek legal permission from LiquidWeb. Maybe that makes sense at some point, but for now I’m pretty content just continuing with my coaching. At the same time, I can start doing some more market research to see if any of these ideas actually have potential.

#entrepreneurship


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A couple of weeks ago, the plumbing system in our home backed-up. As you can imagine, this was a pretty stressful (and disgusting) time. The plumber came out at 9PM but couldn’t fix anything. So, after I spent an hour cleaning the most impacted areas, Lorena and I had to head off to a hotel for the night.

Over the next few days, we had the plumbers come out to investigate further, a restoration company come to remove affected walls and flooring, and a contractor come to give an estimate on repair work. Oh, and did I mention that we are trying to sell our house? Yeah, it’s off the market as we deal with all of this.

This has been a stressful time for us, no doubt.

Keep Life Small

When these kinds of things happen, I’ve found that I benefit by keeping my life small. What I mean is that I limit my thinking to the present. I don’t think too far into the future, nor about the past. This just brings unnecessary added stress.

By focusing on the present, I make sure all my energy and actions are relevant to the immediate items at hand. In essence, I “wall off” my thoughts from anything else. I have tasks to do in the day, and so I’m just staying in the moment. At the end of the day, I reflect on the day and what I need to get done the next day.

This process can go on for a few days or a couple of weeks. I don’t enjoy it, but it keeps me sane. I’m a dreamer. I like to plan the future, and reflect upon my past experiences. But these things take up energy, and sometimes they can come with emotions that I just don’t have time to deal with. Between that time, I have a few distracting activities (like playing chess), so that I don’t wear myself out.

As time goes on and the major drivers of my stress become, well, less stressful – then I allow myself to expand my thinking gradually until things are back to normal again.

Everyone has their own methods of dealing with stress, so I’d say do whatever works best for you. But if you’re open to new ways of thinking, I can vouch for this approach.

  • Keep life small.
  • Don’t think about the past or future, just the day you’re living.
  • Create checklists so you have a visual of your progress.
  • Pat yourself on the back for making that progress.

And remember: like everything in life, this is only temporary.

#happiness


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I’ve been playing online chess for a decade, which naturally means that I started later in life. I’ve played countless games over the years, at times more frequently than others. Chess online can be fun, but it can also get a little boring.

Typically, I play on chess.com and lichess.org, but recently I found the FIDE Online Arena (FOA). This is the online chess site sponsored by FIDE, the organizing body for all things chess in the world (similar to FIFA for soccer).

Anyway, I was checking it out, and I learned that they had chess titles for online players. Specifically:

  • Arena Candidate Master
  • Arena FIDE Master
  • Arena International Master
  • Arena Grandmaster

These are different from over-the-board titles:

  • Candidate Master
  • FIDE Master
  • International Master
  • Grandmaster

The Arena Candidate Master (ACM) title.

The prospect of working towards an official title online sounded appealing, so I signed-up and started playing FOA rated games. All I had to do was maintain a score of 1100-1400 for 100 blitz games. Easy, right?

Well, not so much. The FIDE Online Arena has strong players. On chess.com, my rating is typically 1800-1900. My rating on the FOA site started off in the low 1200s. I had to really focus if I was going to get this title.

So, I slowed down and started playing more sound openings. I started practicing tactics as well when I wasn’t playing games.

Last weekend, it all came to fruition as I earned my Arena Candidate Master title (with a rating of 1337), which appears on the official FIDE site.

I’m pretty happy about it if I’m honest. And no, this title isn’t something that’s highly respected in the hardcore chess circles (only over the board titles, like International Master and Grandmaster, get esteemed recognition).

But I don’t play in-person tournaments, so this is all I got.

I’m going to savor it for the time being and just get back to playing for fun. One day, I might try for the Arena FIDE Master. That’ll take a considerable effort, though. For now, I’m just enjoying this one.

#personal


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Lorena and I just got back from Mexico City visiting her parents where her sisters also came in from Connecticut and New York. It was a good way to get a break from the normal routine we’ve had the past few months preparing for a move to a new city.

We celebrated Father’s Day and her older sister’s birthday, relaxed, and got together with extended family during our week visit. It was really enjoyable, as usual.

Mexico is pretty hot in the summer, but not like Texas (which is terrible). It was nice to see the sun though because we have been experiencing a heavy dose of “June Gloom” this year.

We’re back in California again, as we get set to move for what is hopefully the last time for a long time.

#personal


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Yesterday, it finally happened: I got my third stripe in Gracie jiu-jitsu.

I started doing BJJ in April last year as a way to get some more exercise and learn some useful skills for both fun and self-defense. It also got me out of the house, which was another important factor.

In July, I got my first stripe, and by September, I received my second stripe. I was making good progress, but I was also feeling a little unmotivated by my gym after eight months.

I took a break over the holidays and then looked for a new gym. I tried out a few that were much closer to my home and really enjoyed them, but that’s when I re-injured my bicep tendon. It forced me to take time off from all activity.

I thought a lot about BJJ during that time. It’s something I want to continue to do as I age, and I talked with the instructor at my original gym about this goal. He was very supportive and really helped me out.

He has since left the gym, but I started to take private lessons slowly as my physical therapy started to work for my injury. It’s still not 100% better, but I’m able to attend classes now outside of private lessons, and that’s when I received my third stripe.

It’s been a long journey, but that’s something I’ve come to realize as I’m about to enter into my 40s: don’t rush. I look forward to gradually progressing, and (hopefully) staying injury free!

#personal


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Today marks three years since Lorena and I exchanged our vows in Austin.

In these three years, our lives have been filled with so many incredible memories, it has actually felt like much longer. Whether it’s the quiet evenings spent together or the festive gatherings with loved ones, I’ve really made a point to cherish every second.

With each year, our bond deepens, and just like on our first date, she continues to captivate me – and I can’t get enough of her laugh.

Here’s to another year, and many more moments and memories together.

#personal


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Two months ago, I re-injured my bicep tendon by pushing myself a little too much in my workout routine, and it was made worse as I ignore the pain due to being in denial. This was an injury that I sustained last year around the same time, and it took a few months before I was able to do my normal activities.

I’ve been rehabbing the injury the past 60-days, and I’m a lot better than before, but not out of the woods yet. I’d say that the pain is consistently a 1 out of 10, but it can flare up a little depending on the activity. This same thing happened to me last year, and it wasn’t until eight or so months after the initial injury that I was 100% healed.

I’m still recovering, but I have decided to take one private jiu-jitsu lesson a week! I’m really excited about that, and we are extra careful not to aggravate anything. It has been good for my mental health!

Took a Private BJJ Lesson

Last year, I started BJJ about two months into the recovery of this same injury. I’d have to ice and massage my shoulder after classes, and was always extra careful. Sometimes it would flare up quite a bit, and I’d have to cut back on the number of classes for that week, but I managed it well, and soon it didn’t give me any issue.

This time around, the one thing I’ve been trying to do is get back to a point where I could participate in BJJ again. I was extremely frustrated, board line depressed, at the timing of my injury because it sort of derailed that entire plan.

But my shoulder has felt better the past few weeks (despite minor setbacks). I decided to try getting back into BJJ, but slowly.

Last Saturday, I took a private lesson from the gym that I left. I’ve been communicating with them since my injury, and they were very supportive, answered my questions, encouraged me, and offered up solutions to help me out. It was really above and beyond. Quite frankly, it wasn’t like anything I’d experienced at any of the other gyms that I tried since leaving.

The private class went well, but I’m still not quite ready for action. I have other priorities to take care of right now, so that will give me an opportunity to rest for about another month. Once that’s done, I’ll begin incorporating classes again at a Gracie Jiu-jitsu certified training center.

#personal


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When I started LearnDash, I was going up against a very large competitor with deeper pockets. As time went on, the online course space in WordPress became incredibly saturated, and to stay relevant, I kept a watchful eye on my competitors, so that I could nullify any advantage.

In this interview on plugin.fm, I share exactly how I did this, the lessons learned, what to avoid, and how to win in a crowded market.

#WordPress


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One thing that Lorena and I are trying to be open to this year is taking quicker, shorter trips. For example, we are going for less than a week to Portland, Oregon in April (which we are both really looking forward to).

But this month, we took a cross-country flight to Connecticut to visit her sisters, and our nephew for a couple of days – then came right back home. Her parents were also in town, so that of course be nice. Actually, we did something similar last year, but stayed a tad longer.

While on the topic of travel, we are looking at the calendar for other mini-trips to take. Chicago looks like a possible destination as it will be an opportunity to see my brother and his family. I’m sure we’ll sneak Michigan and Mexico in there as well.

Oh, and this was our first time ever taking Alaska Airlines, so it only seemed fitting to include a picture of one of their airplanes. I thought that it would be less crowded for checking in, but it was about the same as Delta (United has been the best experience).

We had to pay an extra $100 for our bag too because it was over 50lbs. Normally the limit is 72lbs on other airlines – so that was a surprise. Aside from that, our experience was good. I would fly with them again.

#personal


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In late February, I re-injured my bicep tendon when working out. The pain is in the front of my shoulder where the tendons can get impinged. It's a dull, constant pain, and I lose strength for any pushing motions.

I didn’t know it at the time, but the day after I initially hurt it again, I made it worse by lifting, and then by going to two BJJ classes later in that week. I think a part of me was in denial.

The mental toll of this re-injury has been difficult. I wanted so badly to get into a solid routine with BJJ, but everything was halted before it began.

Fool me twice, shame on me…

I had this injury last year (about this same time) due to overuse of my bicep tendon from a rigorous weight-lifting routine. It knocked me out of all activities for 2–3 months, and I had to give up Muay Thai altogether. Actually, that’s what led me to start BJJ. I didn't do any physical therapy. I just rested, and then slowly started to do things like push-ups as time went on.

I’ve stopped doing any of my normal activities again, but this time I’m doing things a little different. I’m taking a more active role in my recovery so that I can strengthen my body in a way to prevent this from happening again:

  • Physical therapy exercises every day
  • Physical therapy appointment once a week
  • Acupuncture once a week
  • Massages once a week

Each week, I’ll assess how things are going. I can say that so far, I feel a noticeable improvement in the injury. It’s still there, but definitely not as pronounced as it was at the beginning. This is encouraging. Over the next two or three weeks, I’ll slowly increase the length of my physical therapy workouts to see how it holds up.

Going forward, I am completely changing the way that I work out.

The second (more important) part of my recovery is changing my entire outlook on working out so that this doesn't happen anymore.

For my entire life, I’ve always enjoyed pushing my body in various ways. Whether it was with HIIT workouts, or weightlifting, I tried to maximize the time spent. This often meant increasing the intensity.

As I am now middle-aged, I see that these workouts have a greater possibility of causing injury. Possibly due to the intensity and the frequency.

Funny thing is: I don’t even enjoy these kinds of workouts. I do them out of habit more than anything. What I really enjoy are athletic pursuits, like BJJ.

Work out to support my hobby.

Instead of working out to look good, or because it’s the “healthy thing to do”, my focus is now to simply support my ability to do BJJ. This means that I’ll only do some light resistance training on my off days, with the primary goal of strengthening and supporting my body for BJJ class. That’s it.

In addition, I will incorporate specific rest and recovery days (massage and acupuncture). I think this will help me to build a better mind & body connection. My mind has been 25, but my body 39. That disconnect has resulted in these frustrating injuries.

As shitty as this injury recurrence has been, I think the lessons learned will mean that I will enter my forties with solid health & fitness habits that are centered around enabling me to progress in BJJ.

#personal


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