Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman

Welp, this isn’t something I ever thought I’d do.

Lorena is still battling her Grave’s disease condition, and as part of that, she has been exploring options in her diet. Through a roundabout way, she landed on a whole foods plant based diet.

We watched a documentary together, and afterward talked about what we thought about it. There were very interesting points made about the human health condition and how it is related to what we eat, specifically: the standard American diet.

The documentary makes a variety of cases for eating a vegan diet, so if you’re interested, then give that a watch.

So, I figured I had nothing to lose by giving a vegan meal plan a shot. I’ll miss eggs the most. I have been eating them daily for breakfast for a few years. But, in reality that’s not super healthy in the first place, so it’s a net-positive dropping those out of my food rotation.

In fact, these changes won’t be too hard.

Lorena and I will be on the journey together, so that always helps. I’ve already made a few meals (like cauliflower hot wings) and they were excellent. What is more challenging is finding suitable food options when traveling, or when visiting friends and family.

I’ll report on how it goes after a few weeks.

#personal


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Last month, I wrote my yearly reflection blog post, recapping the good and bad that happened to me in 2023.

I like writing it because it forces me to think back on the good that happened. However, I do feel it’s important to include some of the trials and tribulations. If for anything, to recall how we overcame them.

But now that 2023 is in the books, I’m looking towards 2024 and thinking about what I want it to look like for me professionally and personally.

For arguably the first time ever, my professional goal is modest.

Last year was a hectic year in terms of my professional life. The highs and lows of GapScout took their toll on me mentally. That said, I’m grateful for the experience, as it was ultimately the nudge I needed to get into coaching.

Which brings me to my professional goal this year: to grow my coaching by just a few more clients, and to help my clients get wins in their business by being their go-to person for anything, at any time.

That’s it.

No new markets, or new offerings, side-ventures, or anything like that. For the first time in my entrepreneurial career, I’m not creating a big, audacious goal. I need a break from that in my life.

Best of all, I already have the framework in place already to reach my goal:

  • Continue content marketing on Medium.
  • Direct outreach on X.
  • Productive 1-on-1 coaching sessions.
  • Group coaching calls.
  • 24/7 access to me via Slack for anyone I coach.

I created this formula last year, and it’s proven. So, I’ll double-down on it, refine it a little more, and make that my entire focus for 2024.

My personal goals are more elaborate.

The best part of life for me is the time spent doing activities you enjoy, learning something, or paying it forward.

This year I want to touch on all of these in some capacity. In my past, this stuff comes in spurts. For a while I’ll be learning something, then I’ll be doing other activities I enjoy, and occasionally giving my time or resources to a cause.

My overall goal is to spread these out over the year so that while not as persistent, they are consistent.

New travel destinations for this year.

Last year we were fortunate to get in more travel compared to the previous years. This year, I want to continue with that but throw in one or two more trips that are “just for us” as opposed to going somewhere because of a wedding or holiday.

Speaking of which, we already have two weddings planned for 2024 in Mexico. One in Mexico City and another in Cancun. We’ll go early to Cancun to get a couple of days to ourselves before the wedding.

We also want a bigger trip to somewhere new for us as a couple. It’s looking like that will be Hawaii around our anniversary. But Europe could be an option as well (or both, we’ll see).

All that said, family trips are still important. We’ll find time to get to Mexico, Connecticut, Michigan, and Illinois.

Making year five of Spanish better than year four.

Last year was interesting. I put in a ton of work in the first half of the year, but the latter half I sort of slacked off. That’s easy to do now since I became fluent. I can have conversations pretty comfortably, but there is so much that I don’t know.

I’ll be more consistent with my Spanish lessons, at least two times per week, possible three. For a couple of years, I would do three times per week, but now that I am coaching, I haven’t figured out how to work that into my schedule. I’ll sit down and block off time so that can happen more consistently.

My goal is to increase my vocabulary (as always) and to just be more fluid in certain circumstances and grammatical structures. To do this, I’ll need to make sure that my lessons are more than just chatting, but are focused on the workbook that my tutor and I have used for the past four years or so.

Restarting BJJ classes.

In the late Spring last year, I started BJJ.

For a few months, I really enjoyed it, and eventually earned my second stripe. In September, I injured my groin pretty badly. It’s a nagging injury I’ve had since my soccer days in college.

As a result, I took a month off, and except for about three classes, I never really got back into it the remainder of the year. It was a combination of burnout and also our schedules becoming more full of visitors and visits in the final 6-weeks of the year.

My groin has healed, so I think I’m ready to jump back into making it a regular part of my routine. Twice a week is probably my sweet spot. I was doing four times per week initially, and I think it burnt me out.

Ending my time on the weight loss app.

As of writing this, I’ve just reached my weight loss goal. I started tracking my macros in October last year in an effort to get to 15% body fat. It has worked, as I’ve lost more than 10lbs at this point, and I’m happy with where I have landed.

I have since transitioned to a “maintenance plan”. I’m tracking my macros on the new plan for a little time and once I have a good feel for it, I’ll stop using it altogether.

Achieve another certification in First Aid.

Last year I was going to take a course to become an EMT, but I decided against it as it was at the same time I started my coaching business and I couldn’t split my attention. Also, I don’t have an interest in being in an ambulance, which is really the primary role of an EMT.

So even though I didn’t accomplish that original goal, in December, I became certified in CPR, AED, and First Aid by the American Heart Association.

I liked the course, and feel like I’m not useless in case of an emergency. I think I’d like to further my knowledge in this space, but with baby steps. I don’t know yet if it will be more courses from the AHA (or Red Cross), or some other organization, but I’d like to find something, as it feels good to be prepared.

Get involved with nonprofit activities.

This has been something I’ve written about the past two years, and I haven’t made any headway with it. I still haven’t quite figured out in what area I want to dedicate my time & monetary resources.

Don’t get me wrong, made monetary contributions to and volunteered my time to a handful of causes that I felt passionate about, but it’s not on a regular basis.

I have also toyed with the idea of starting something myself, but then I get overwhelmed and end up not doing anything. I figure that there is no need to reinvent the wheel; I’d prefer to find an already established nonprofit that I am passionate about.

I think the main reason that I haven’t landed anywhere with this is because I haven’t sat down to really think about which cause I would like to get behind. This is something I’ll do in 2024.

Do something new as a couple once a month.

This is something small, but meaningful. Lorena and I met right before the pandemic, and as a result we got used to a slower-paced lifestyle as a couple.

This year, I’ll be incorporating a little more variety into our routine by doing something new once a month. From cooking and dance classes, going to a new restaurant, hiking, and more. The goal is for us to get out and create new memories.

Making 2024 better than 2023.

Last year was a tough year. Tougher than most with some of the health challenges that came our way. Lorena and I have a better understanding of that now, and are eager to make 2024 a different kind of year.

For me, this means planning specific activities for us again. Taking trips to new places, or even just around home. It also means getting into a good rhythm of life again with the activities that we enjoy while being home.

#personal


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I don’t know about you, but 2023 absolute flew by for me.

Perhaps it was the mix of trips, illnesses, big business decisions, and lifestyle changes that, upon reflection, makes everything seem like a blur.

Overall, it’s another year to be grateful for, but it did have its challenges. Starting with…

Two big updates in my professional life.

Since selling LearnDash, my professional path has been a little less clear. I’ve experimented with different ideas, but they never panned out.

In August 2022, I decided to give software another push. Things were going great, until they eventually weren’t.

Shutting down GapScout.

I won’t drain this topic, as I’ve written about it before. But on a whole, I’ll just say that my professional life was a bit of a rollercoaster this year.

I spent a year of my life building the brand, but the software kept experiencing so many technical hurdles that it never got off the ground. When legal complexities entered the equation, I decided to just step away from it altogether. It was costing me a lot of money, and in the end I wasn’t happy.

I talked a lot with Lorena during this time, as I was feeling pretty defeated. These conversations and self-reflection eventually led me to what I am doing (and enjoying) today.

Starting up a business coaching practice.

Despite the disappointment with GapScout, I still find entrepreneurship invigorating.

My strengths are creative thinking, marketing & sales, brand positioning, and outcompeting competition. My experiencing starting, growing, and eventually selling LearnDash puts me in a unique position to help other founders.

In August, I was invited to be certified by the Professional Business Coaches Alliance (PBCA) to become a Certified Professional Business Coach. The certification gave me processes that I have since modified to fit my own style. I’ve also met some other great coaches, who I continue to work with today.

In September, I “opened the doors” for my coaching business, BrightGrowth.

I spent the whole of September and October offering free, 60-minute consultations to entrepreneurs all over the world. Things got so busy, that I’ve had to temporarily stop my marketing efforts to catch my breath and to just focus on serving my existing clients.

I’ve been posting on X about my journey with starting up a coaching business, and I plan to write more on this blog about what has worked and what has not. For instance, I’ve been pretty shocked with how useful Medium has been for finding new clients.

I’ll have my free strategy sessions again in January for the last remaining spots. If that’s of interest to you, then sign up here to book some time.

Personal life had some highs, and lows.

I think it’s pretty normal to have ups and downs throughout a year. All things considered, I am grateful for the positives that Lorena and I have experienced in 2023, but I’d be lying if I said 2023 was easy.

We managed more travel in 2023 than last year.

Lorena and I started our relationship right before the pandemic. This was very formative in ways we didn’t realize. For example, we haven’t regularly booked trips for just us.

We have travel to see family, but less frequently do we plan getaways (big and small) with one another. This year we changed that.

  • In February, we went to Seattle. It is such a beauty city, even when it’s cloudy and gray.
  • In March, we went to San Carlos for the wedding of Lorena’s friend. The wedding was nice, but for me the trip was defined by the place we rented, which was right on the water of the Sea of Cortez.
  • In May, we shot over to Connecticut for a family visit, and then took an extended weekend to go to Big Sur where we hiked, relaxed, and took in the rugged beauty of Northern California.
  • In June, we went to Mexico City. This was a family visit, but for me, it’s always special because I really love what Mexico City has to offer. The culture, the people, the food, and the language. I love it!
  • In August, we went to Lake Arrowhead for a chance to be in the mountains again. It was our second time there (last time in 2020). We liked it, but probably won’t be going back anymore.
  • In September, we went to Cincinnati to visit my grandpa. My family recently moved him there to be closer to my aunt so she could take better care of him. Physically, he does pretty well, but he has Alzheimer’s and needs to live in a facility. Afterward, we went up to Michigan to visit my parents.
  • In October, we rented a place in Idyllwild. We really loved the vibe of this town, the hiking, and the scenery.
  • In November, we shot out to Connecticut again to spend the Thanksgiving holiday at Lorena’s older sister’s place. Her parents, younger sister, and some extended family from Chicago came out as well.
  • In December, we have a visit planned for Cincinnati again to visit my grandpa, then we go up to Michigan before returning to California to host family over the holidays.

We hosted more people at our home this year as well.

This year we had a handful of visitors.

First, Lorena’s friend and fiancé came to visit us in January. It was nice to get to know them more before heading to their wedding in March.

Shortly after, my brother’s family visited us for the first time in California. My nephews loved it, and started working on their plans to move here, ha!

My parents came out for nearly a month in the early Spring, and Lorena’s parents and younger sister for her birthday in July.

In August, we hosted my childhood friends (and their wives) for about a week. We went to the beach, saw dolphins and whales, ate out, and just enjoyed being together (like “the old times”).

Lorena encountered a hurdle with her health.

Earlier in the year, Lorena got a blood test and all was good. However, a few months later, she was experiencing some troubling health symptoms (trembling, rapid heart rate, extreme fatigue, weight loss, and others).

Concerned with what was happening, she had another blood test done, and it showed that she was suffering from a hyperthyroidism, which was later confirmed as Grave’s disease. It’s a scarier name than the reality, but still quite disrupting to normal life.

Thyroid conditions (both hyper and hypo) are fairly common in the population, meaning that there is a well-known path forward — albeit a slow one. Lorena has been on the mend since June, and I’m happy to report that today she is much better (the symptoms aren’t as intense).

We aren’t out of the woods yet, but we are grateful for the positive progress.

Grandpa broke his hip.

My grandpa is 88 years old. As mentioned above, he has moderate to severe Alzheimer’s, but does well in my opinion. For instance, he still recognizes us and knows basics (like that we live in California). He just repeats himself a lot.

Shortly after our visit to him in September, he ended up falling and breaking his hip. He had surgery and the process went well, but it seemed to set him back mentally. His Alzheimer’s has gotten worse, and while it has bounced back a little, it isn’t back to what it was when we last saw him.

The entire situation is a reminder to me to not take life for granted. Embrace the moments of good health, because you never know what is around the corner.

My Spanish fluency is at an all-time high!

At the end of last year, I finally hit fluency, but of course that was just the beginning. I felt like after our trip to Mexico this year, my Spanish again reached a new level. I also continued my private lessons, but admittedly, they haven’t been as frequent as usual this last quarter because of life.

It seems that with each extended stay in Mexico to visit family, I make a leap. We have a few trips already planned to Mexico for 2024, so I think that trend will likely continue. Ultimately, my goal is to be a very solid C1 level of fluency. I’m probably at this level in certain scenarios, but I’d still classify myself as an Advanced B2.

I have some more thoughts on my Spanish goals that probably warrant a separate post in the new year.

I’ve lost about 10 pounds.

This year I was looking at some pictures of myself at the beach and, well, I wasn’t happy. I tried to get back on track with regular exercise, but it just wasn’t sticking.

So, I switched it up. For the first time in my life, I began tracking my macros (calories, protein, fat, and carbs). I am using an app called MacroFactor, and I have to say, it’s freaking working!

At the time of writing this, I’ve lost 9.6lbs (according to my app). I’m pretty close to my goal of 15% body fat, and I’m pretty excited about it! I haven’t weighed this much since college.

While tracking macros certainly works, it’s not sustainable — at least for me. Once I hit my goal, I’ll be going into maintenance mode and will drop the app.

Closing out this year a little tired, but grateful.

It was a big year.

There were ups, but more downs than I am used to.

I suppose that is just the flow of life. I try not to get too consumed by the tough times, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get worn out. All the more reason why I’m committed to resting for the remainder of this year, reflecting, and practicing being grateful for all that I have in life.

I have goals for the upcoming year, which I’ll get to in another post. For now, I’m just focusing on being in the moment, relaxing, and creating some final memories with family to close out 2023.

Have a happy new year, and see you soon in 2024.

#personal


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The end of the year holidays always means one thing: traveling to see family.

Lorena and I recently returned from visiting Connecticut for a couple of weeks to spend Thanksgiving with her sister, parents, and cousins who flew in from Chicago. As always, it was great to see everyone and of course to spend time with our nephew and godchild.

We get a short break in California before hitting the road again to Cincinnati to see my grandfather (who, at 88 years old, isn’t doing so well after his recent hip surgery). We then drive up to Michigan to spend time with my parents for Christmas.

Afterward, we then close out the year by hosting Lorena’s parents and sisters at our place in California for the New Year.

Something that is a bit challenging is that our family is located across two countries and various states. California, Illinois, Michigan, Connecticut, and Mexico. There are times when I wish we all lived closer. It would certainly make the holiday planning easier and less stressful for all involved.

#personal


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For whatever reason, Choice Juicery Nutrition information for their smoothies is nowhere to be found on their website. Normally, I wouldn’t care. However, I am tracking my macros, so I needed it.

I couldn’t find it when I googled it. I searched in my app (MacroFactor) and there was nothing listed.

So, I asked the staff.

The employee who took my order was really kind, and even let me take a picture of the smoothie nutritional info.

I am including it below in case anyone else out there needs the nutritional information for Choice Juicery’s smoothies. Hopefully this helps!

#personal


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As someone who grew up in Michigan, my favorite thing about living in Southern California is the year-round perfect weather.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the seasons, especially Fall, but there is something about the sunshine and ocean that just can’t be beat — especially in November!

Lorena and I will soon be spending holiday time with family. It will be a busy mix of traveling and having visitors. With this in mind, we wanted to get at least one more beach day in before the end of the year.

Fortunately for us, the weather cooperated!

The sun was out, and the temperature was in the mid to high 70s. We enjoyed the sun (something I very much need considering how pale I am) and appreciated how lucky we were to have casual Sundays on the beach in mid-November.

#personal


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Lorena and I just spent a few days in a cabin in the mountains. The mountain town, Idyllwild, is quite a charming town. Best of all, it’s just a little over two-hours away from home, making it an easy trip to make.

Just like we did when we went to Lake Arrowhead, we spent some time hiking and just being outdoors in the fresh air, walking around the downtown (which has a really great vibe), and relaxing in our cabin with an absolute incredible view of the treetops on the mountain.

We are doing these little long-weekend trips more often now as we make a conscious effort to integrate with nature, and to add a little variety to our daily lives — which is incredibly important when you work from home.

Our remaining trips this year include Connecticut, and then Michigan again. Both trips to see family. At the New Year, we’ll be having Lorena’s family in town.

2023 has been an eventful year. Some highs, some lows. I look forward to writing the recap! Until then, below are some photos from our trip.

#personal


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Through my business career, I’ve had the pleasure to meet so many smart folks. Many of whom I now consider friends.

Matt Medeiros of The WP Minute is one of those people.

Matt and I have known one another for many years, mostly interacting online, but occasionally in person. I respect the hell outta Matt and what he does. He has great perspective on business, life, WordPress, software, and services. Plus, I just think he’s a cool guy.

Earlier this month, Matt invited me to be on his podcast, The WP Minute. At the end of this post, I have included the recording.

Key Takeaways

  • I explain how I am now selling GapScout after running into challenges building complex AI technology and changes to review site terms and conditions.
  • The GapScout experience left me feeling defeated but taught me to focus on what really energizes me in business.
  • I have transitioned to coaching for founders, playing to my strengths in marketing, growth strategies and maximizing profits.
  • I am being selective about who I work with through warm outreach and relationship building vs trying to scale massively.
  • For WordPress entrepreneurs, takeaways are to focus on your strengths, cut out parts of the business you dislike, and be selective about services you realistically can deliver at a high level.
  • I have been using Medium for content marketing and gets great organic reach without having to worry about blogging or SEO.
  • Overall, it’s a story of reinvention, lessons learned from failure, and the importance of playing to your strengths as an entrepreneur.

#entrepreneurship


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For most of 2021 and a big part of 2022, Lorena and I would go to the gym in Austin nearly every day. We lived five minutes away from a Life Time Fitness, and during the pandemic, it became the main event that got us out of our home.

We went to the gym in part to work out, and also to record for Lorena’s fitness IG account, which worked its way up to over 100K followers. However, injuries, among other things, got us out of the gym rhythm.

Our bodies needed a change from the rigorous weight lifting we had been doing for practically a year straight. We remained active in different ways since fizzling out of the gym life. I continued to run and do a lot of body weight exercises along with BJJ. Lorena got into Pilates and does it pretty much daily.

We’ve decided to return to the gym.

After the long break, we’ve decided that we’re feeling well enough (no nagging injuries) to go to the gym again to get back into lifting. We won’t go as much as we did before, or lift as heavy, to avoid injuries.

The point is to just add a bit of variety to our weekly routine. I am looking forward to the change, and to getting back into the “gym life” that we enjoyed for so long while we were in Austin.

If I’ve learned one thing in my life about exercise, it’s that you go in and out of activities — and that’s normal. I’m glad we’re circling back to the gym again.

#personal


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Earlier this week, I published the longest X thread that I’ve ever published. I did this for two reasons:

  1. I had a lot to say.

  2. I wanted to test long content to see how much it’s shared.

The conclusion is that long content does quite well on that platform. The post itself was reposted, saved, and commented more than my shorter ones.

But the way X works, content dies a quick death. As such, I feel it’s a good idea to republish it here on my personal blog:

An Open Letter to WP Product Owners

Let's face it... Selling WP products today is a helluva lot harder than it was just 3 to 5 years ago.

In fact, one could argue that ever since COVID, the entire space has become more crowded, more competitive, and more challenging than ever before.

Your product does great things, yet no one is noticing. You're not growing. Worse, your sales are starting to stagnate. 😑

Here's the blunt truth.

What worked before will no longer work today. You know this, because you can see your company's metrics.

  • It's not Matt or Automattic's fault.
  • It's not because people aren't as “hot” on WP as they were during the pandemic.
  • It's not because of bigger companies like Automattic, AwesomeMotive, and LiquidWeb investing into the WP space, eating up the market share.

The answer is actually more simple than that...

The market is changing, and you're not. Be honest with yourself — Have you really tried to up your game?

When was the last time you did a brand refresh? Or worked on your Inbound Sales Plan (you have one, right?) Adventured into new marketing channels? Leveled up your support experience (things like live chat... actual live chat, weekend hours, etc.)? Or made any kind of investment back INTO your customers with success tools, community building, or the like?

You haven't.

Admitting that you haven’t changed is how you start progressing.

WordPress is a cutthroat space. The competition has more money than ever before — and not just WP solutions, but the SaaS competitors who are snapping away WP users as well.

Your purpose, as a founder, is to stay on top of the market. If possible, to LEAD the market. So let's chat... how do you do that?

It's an exercise of INWARD and OUTWARD data collection.

INWARD... things like:

  • Connecting with your most active users and discussing their pain points and wishes for your product.
  • Listening to feedback on all the review channels, documenting themes devoid of the emotion.
  • Looking at your inbound sales processes and finding the gaps that need to be filled. Optimizations that need to occur. TRAINING FOR YOUR SALES TEAM (support reps ARE NOT sales).
  • Analyzing effectiveness of support in maximizing renewals. Also, strategies for decreasing churn.

This is just scraping the top. Each one of these can branch off into several other subsections for optimizing. New plans, new policies, new ways of measuring...

OUTWARD... things like:

Exploring new content marketing avenues to expand reach. Where are your competitors, and why are you not doing the EXACT same as they are?

Creating a variety of content, not just “helpful content”. Going directly after your competition IN AND OUT of WordPress.

Networking with people in the space with similar interests. Helping others make money, so they return the favor for you. Stop sitting behind your computer and put yourself out there.

Paid Ads... it's time. Do it.

Hack-y isn’t cute anymore.

There was a time when WordPress products had a “grassroots” feel to them.

Not anymore. I mean, you can go that route, but you'll lose to others who show up and put out a PROFESSIONAL, well-polished image and experience.

What do I mean?

Does your demo site just toss someone into the WordPress admin dashboard and have a bare-bones skeleton theme? That's simply not good enough.

Is your website just some cookie cutter template or Blocks Pattern with no real thought around branding? That's not good enough either.

Does your headline speak to the customer's pain points? Or is it still saying something dumb like, “XYZ for WordPress”? Yeah... needs fixing.

Does your website sales copy point back to your unique selling proposition? On every page? Do you have an about page with your face? Are you getting personal? Are you getting CLOSE TO THE CUSTOMER in their journey to build real connection?

This shit is hard. But the hard stuff makes you profitable.

I get it. This is hard stuff. These things can't be solved in a week or two. I wish this was easy, too.

Look at your business and determine where your biggest opportunity area lies. Start there. Go DEEP. Really understand the challenge and work towards resolving.

If you need help, get it.

I coach WordPress product owners on this stuff because, well, I've done this stuff. It doesn't have to be me though, there are other people in (and out) of WordPress who can provide direction as well.

The point is: start doing something different if you want to get different results. Light the fire 🔥 and don't stop... in a year from now, you'll thank yourself.

-Justin

PS: If you wanna chat about the pain points in your business, book some time with me. It's free.

#WordPress


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