Justin Ferriman

personal

Lorena and I just returned from a four-day trip to San Carlos, Mexico. The purpose of the trip was to attend the wedding of our friends (who just visited us in January). We rented a stunning Airbnb right on the water’s edge, located a little north of the wedding venue.

It was my first time seeing the Sea of Cortez. I find it beautiful in an untamed way. Steady breezes made for a choppy, deep blue surface. The sky was always blue with an occasional puffy cloud, but those usually blew through rather quickly. I enjoyed drinking coffee in the morning, watching the pelicans swoop down again and again to catch fish.

It probably goes without saying, but I had an opportunity to practice my Spanish quite a bit, especially during the wedding reception dinner. I met a lot of Lorena’s friends from the time she lived in North Carolina. Speaking became more challenging when the DJ put the music on volume 10.

Luckily for me, everyone was bilingual, and their English was better than my Spanish. This made conversations over the loud music more possible. I hope to get to a point where I can continue interacting effectively in Spanish in very loud bars or parties, but I fully recognize that is a very advanced level that will take years to reach. One day!

The plan was to get back to California late Sunday night, flying from Hermosillo to Tijuana, then using the Cross Boarder Xpress (which is amazingly efficient). However, our flight was cancelled due to weather. It was a bit hectic and stressful as we figured out what to do, but ultimately we were on the first flight out the next day.

I really enjoyed the wedding, and San Carlos. Perhaps one day we will return for another visit, but if not, I’ll always remember it.

Here are a few memorable scenes from our trip!

#personal


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

Prior to the new year, Lorena and I talked about taking the initiative to travel more. Sticking to our word, we just returned from a quick trip to Seattle.

For close to a year we have discussed the possibility of going to Seattle, so when we saw a gap in our schedule, we purchased tickets for a four-day trip.

Lorena and I are similar in the way we like to travel. We don’t plan many activities ahead of time, but rather “go with the flow” once in the location. Our idea prior to going was to walk around a bit, go to Pike Place Market, try some coffee shops, do a little shopping, book a nice restaurant, and to just discover Seattle’s beauty.

It was a brief visit, but we were able to:

  • Stay at a nice hotel that was centrally located.
  • Have a Washington wine tasting and food in the Space Needle.
  • Walk around the Chihuly Garden & Glass museum.
  • Participate in a guided seafood tour of Pike Place Market, where we got to sample amazing seafood and learn the history of Seattle.
  • Ride the Seattle Great Wheel.
  • Walk around the city and try new restaurants.
  • Drink coffee at the original Starbucks and try other Cafés with incredible coffee. Seattle is known as a coffee hub, and it was some of the best that I’ve ever had.

Of course, it rained, it’s Seattle after all. I’m a sucker for sunshine, but didn’t mind it so much. I feel like it wouldn’t be a proper trip to Seattle without a little gray skies and rain. More than anything, we really liked the vibe of the city. There is a big emphasis on sustainability, organic, and nature.

We are back in California now, and we are recharging our batteries quickly before we head out again, this time to Mexico for our friends’ wedding.

#personal


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

I use this blog for a variety of topics, one of which being a way to document my progress learning Spanish. Today is another one of those posts!

Recently, Lorena’s good friend from North Carolina came to visit us with her fiancé. We will be going to their wedding in March, and they were kind enough to come out to California for a weekend visit.

They were both incredibly kind and fun people, and I can see us having a strong friendship for many years to come. We are already planning a trip to go out and visit them.

They are both from Mexico, so as you would expect, they are bilingual.

Something that is important to me is that I don’t want other people to automatically switch to English simply because I am in the room. This is why I bust my ass learning Spanish – so that I can be part of Lorena’s culture, including the friendships she formed before we met.

As such, we spent the entire weekend speaking a mix of Spanish and English. I’d probably say it was about 50/50. It was a surreal experience for me, participating in deep conversations in Spanish, jokes and all. Yes, I sometimes screwed up conjugations, genders, and word order – but that didn’t matter. What mattered is that I got to know them better in their native language. It made it fun and easy for them.

A highlight for me was the last night when we went out to dinner. At one point I realized that we had all been speaking Spanish for the majority of dinner, and it wasn’t a struggle at all. Maybe it was the glass of wine that loosened me up a bit more, but everything was flowing easily.

This has encouraged to keep up with my studying, and to practice the more advanced structures as I work towards the C1 level of fluency (as of writing this, I am at B2).

#personal


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

Another eventful year is in the books, and I’m starting to think more about the coming year and what to expect.

If I’m honest, the past few years have been a whirlwind of activity for me and Lorena, with some huge life events. This coming year feels like an opportunity to slow down slightly and just enjoy life.

I am not one for making hard-set resolutions for a new year, but I do have general goals that I wish to achieve (or continue working towards) from a personal and professional standpoint.

The year of GapScout.

Since August of last year, I have been working on building GapScout. My goal for 2023 is to launch and grow the initial user base, ending the year in profit.

It’s hard to pinpoint a dollar figure for the business because there are still so many factors that I don’t know yet. That said, I think my first goal is making the first $100,000 in revenue for the business.

The beginning of the year will be quite eventful as I anticipate the release of the beta version, and finally getting real-world feedback from people. The one thing I am struggling with currently is pricing, so hopefully that will become more clear during that time.

Oh, and I want to do is stay small for as long as possible. I plan to use contractors to do this, and will likely do this all through 2023. To achieve this, I have been focusing on creating simplified processes that don’t depend on me specifically. Ultimately, I want GapScout to be a useful little tool that isn’t resource heavy.

A little side hobby.

While I am energized by GapScout, I don’t want to burn out from focusing on it every day, all the time. I like to learn new things regarding online business, and so this year I’m giving myself permission to pursue small side projects. For example, I enjoy building websites. Years ago (in my early 20s), I had success selling them too.

What is nice about this kind of hobby is that it’s not so technical. I can enjoy the process without the complications of building and selling software. I love that too, but sometimes my mind needs a break.

Paying it forward.

This is something that I have been thinking about quite a bit lately. When I was running LearnDash, I felt like I didn’t have the headspace to do anything else. I had obligations with employees, customers, and getting more customers. Then, I had to work on the sale of the business (which took about a year).

At the end of it all, I was burnt out – and I still had to help with the transition.

I started to reflect more on what I wanted to do with my time, and something that I have always enjoyed was teaching. I used to give presentations at conferences about areas of entrepreneurship, and I always felt energized by them afterward.

I have travelled a path that many wish to travel, but don’t know how. I have learned so much along my entrepreneurial journey, and I wish to share these lessons learned.

I am looking into ways to teach formally, starting by looking at adjunct professor openings at the local universities in my area. That said, I am open to bringing the world of entrepreneurship to children as well.

I am still working through what any of this will look like, but I do know I am feeling a calling to teaching, and I intend to explore that further.

Finally taking the time to travel just for ourselves.

Lorena and I first met just before the pandemic started. In a way, the lockdown significantly progressed our relationship, as we were isolated with one another without any of the typical distractions.

During the first couple of years, we couldn’t do much travel. Our trips always involved going to see family. I enjoyed the prolonged stays, but now that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, we finally feel that we are in a position to take trips for just us.

It’s not that we haven’t had some vacations. We have, but they have been more local to the U.S. or Mexico. We are excited to explore Europe, specifically Portugal and Italy. We also have an interest in going to Japan, as neither of us have been to Asia.

In addition to some of these longer trips, we intend to travel more around California, and the West Coast in general, such as to Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, and Salt Lake City.

We have the time and the ability to travel this year, and we intend to do so. Of course, we are also looking forward to seeing family as well in Mexico, Michigan, Illinois, and Connecticut this year as well.

My Spanish journey to C1 fluency.

I think last year will always be the year of my biggest progression in Spanish, and I won’t lose sight of that. It was the year that I finally reached fluency!

But fluency is not perfection – and I am far from perfect. I need to learn more vocabulary, get more comfortable and quicker with certain verb conjugations, and improve my general conversational understanding.

The point is, I do well today, but I could get better. I sometimes fall into a habit of saying the easier thing than what I really want to say because the grammatical structure is more complex than what I am used to.

This year, I plan to work with my online tutor four days a week. I started this process in the middle of last year, and it really helped me get to that next level. I reached the B2 level, and now my eyes are set on C1. I think realistically, being a strong C1 is the best I can hope for in the language. I am aiming to reach this level within one to three years. My tutor thinks that by the end I’ll be in the early C1 phases. We’ll see!

I’ll need to know more words (vocab will never stop), practice advanced grammar, and ultimate expose myself more to the language via television, books, and conversation.

Most importantly, I will try to embrace every moment.

As I approach 40, I am starting to better understand that every single moment in my life is a blessing. Nothing is guaranteed, and time is so precious.

I am more patient than I have ever been in my life. I am now taking the time to appreciate the small moments that I have with Lorena, my parents, her parents, and our friends. I want to grow in this outlook. Like many people, I sometimes have trouble keeping the small things small – but I am aware of this, and I am trying to improve.

Overall, I am optimistic and excited to live life in 2023. I anticipate that it will be a year full of memories, laughs, and love.

#personal


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

Last year was a great year regarding my Spanish learning, finally reaching fluency in the language. Today, I reached another achievement that I never would have thought possible only a few years back.

In January 2020, I didn’t know any Spanish besides the very basics. In February 2020, I started my one-on-one lessons on iTalki, which led me to study more relevant vocabulary lists and to practice reading using books designed for language learners.

It’s January 2023, and I just had my first business meeting completely in Spanish!

It was a conversation with the designer working on the GapScout website redesign. He is from Spain and needed clarification on my feedback, and requested a meeting in Spanish, since he knew that I could speak it.

We ended the meeting with more clarity on the direction going forward. That was great, but more importantly, I felt extremely accomplished.

I’m far from perfect, and I still have a lot to learn. But it’s these little victories that both encourage and motivate me to keep up with my vigorous Spanish study schedule.

#personal


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

You know how some people like to say that time flies by? Well, that was not the case for 2022. The year was long, and full of big life events for me and Lorena.

Everything from personal to professional changes, this year had a little bit of everything.

Landing in California.

Lorena and I started the year trying to figure out where we wanted to permanently live. While we didn’t know exactly where, we did know that we wanted out of Texas.

Just prior to the start of 2022, we backed out of a deal for a home in Lake Tahoe. After the home inspection, we found that it had some foundational issues (and the owners never disclosed this in their listing, even though they knew about them).

They made life a little difficult for us, which was frustrating, but we knew that backing out was for the best. In the end, we were able to part ways without any major issues.

As we looked at new possible locations, we eventually narrowed it down to Salt Lake City and Southern California. Seeing as we met in San Diego, we were both drawn to SoCal. On a whim, we went there in early Spring, we saw a home that we really liked and ended up putting in an offer. It was official: California was going to be our home.

The rest of the year was spent bouncing between Texas, Mexico, and California, with our primary residence still being in Texas through the end of this year. This made us feel a little bit like nomads, but after the Thanksgiving holiday, we have finally landed in California for good. It becomes our official home in the new year.

I love California. There are just some things that cannot be replicated in any other state. For me, it’s the water. I love the ocean and the beach (hey, I’m a Pisces). The landscapes across the state are stunning, and the sunshine is good for your health.

My professional life changed significantly as well.

This was a transitional year when it came to work.

I started out the year very engaged with LearnDash as an advisor, continuing to help with the transition since the acquisition in September 2021.

A few months into the new year, and I decided that I needed to take a giant step back, accepting that it was no longer my ship to sail. I made myself available when called upon, which turned out to be a pretty rare occasion. The team in place has put the company on a great trajectory from what I can tell.

I realize now that taking a step back was the best thing for me. It freed up my mind to think about other things. I had dabbled in potential activities (like land investing and podcasting), but after some self-reflection and conversations with Lorena, I found myself drawn back into software.

Just prior to when my contractual duties ended at LearnDash, I launched GapScout, and since August, I have been chipping away at building an AI that helps other entrepreneurs to compete (and win) in their respective markets.

Progress is being made, though it hasn’t been without challenges. The beta launch is expected to be in late January, or early February 2023 – and I’m excited about it!

My biggest personal achievement: Spanish fluency!

At the beginning of the year, I set a goal for myself: become fluent in Spanish. I was approaching two years of study, and I could feel that I was so close.

Still, I was frustrated. By April, I was still struggling to get over the hump. I expressed this displeasure with Lorena, who suggested that we extend our stay in Mexico so that I could get some additional immersion. We were already going to Mexico City to become Godparents to our nephew, so an extended stay made sense.

I spoke Spanish whenever I could with the family and friends. When we went out, I always tried my best to have natural conversations. Some nights I would go to bed completely discouraged because I couldn’t understand someone, or with my inability to find the right words – but I always tried again the next day.

By the time we returned to Texas, I felt that I had made significant strides, but I still wouldn’t say I was fluent (but almost). I didn’t want to lose any of my hard work, so I began taking four lessons per week with my tutor, Andrés. I have been taking classes on Zoom with him since February 2020, and we have built a nice friendship. Our lessons can be formal, but also just involve us talking about life – which I find to be incredibly beneficial.

The result? Five to six months of this rigorous schedule, and my ability to both speak and understand Spanish improved significantly. I can now say that I have reached a CEFR B2 level, the first official level of fluency in a language! I really enjoy speaking with my family from Mexico, or just striking up spontaneous Spanish conversations with people that I meet. I can’t get enough of it now!

My next goal is to get to the C1 level, which I hope to achieve within two to three years. It’s a lot harder to get to this level as I’ll need to learn more vocabulary and advanced grammatical structures, as well as a better understanding of colloquial expressions. Still, I’m motivated and know that I can reach it with hard work!

Plans for 2023.

I think I will take the time to document our plans for 2023 in another post, but I can say that Lorena and I intend to travel more (both in the country, in Mexico, and Europe).

Aside from personal travels, I will be focusing exclusively on launching and growing GapScout, and Lorena has plans for a master’s degree. Seeing friends, and simply enjoying our time in California, will also be in our future.

But before any of that happens, we will be closing out 2022 by relaxing with family over the Christmas holiday. A perfect way to end another eventful year.

#personal


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

It’s that time of year again: time to make the rounds to visit family for the holiday.

To prepare for the travel, we got our COVID booster and flu vaccination. It had been a year since our last booster, and I keep hearing how bad the flu is this year, so it just made sense to get them both. Symptoms were pretty mild this time, so can’t complain there.

First, Lorena and I went to Connecticut to see her sisters, and her parents also came from Mexico. We spent time celebrating some birthdays and having a “pre-Thanksgiving” meal.

After that trip, we went to Michigan to see my parents for my dad’s birthday and for the holiday. My brother and his family, who live in the Chicago area, came for Thanksgiving as well. It’s always nice to see them.

We also took a trip down to Ohio to see my grandpa, who isn’t doing so great, especially with his memory. He is in his late 80s, so in some ways it is expected now. I just don’t know how much longer he will be able to live independently. This could be the last year before he makes a transition to assisted living. That said, he was pretty good when we saw him.

We are back in California for Christmas, and Lorena’s family will be joining us. It’s our first year not having to travel for Christmas, which is a nice change.

#personal


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

Unlike most folks who move from California to Texas, we are going the other way around. Earlier this year, Lorena and I purchased a new home in California. We are transitioning there this year and beginning in January, it will officially be our primary residence.

I will always have a special place in my heart for Austin, as it’s the place where we got married and officially started our life together. It was our home base as we travelled during the heart of the pandemic to visit family in Mexico, Michigan, Connecticut, and Colorado.

But ultimately, we both really value gorgeous weather, and SoCal has the best weather in the country. The culture is more in line with what we prefer as well. Plus, I mean… you can’t beat the ocean.

I am excited to settle in California and start this next phase of life together.

Seeya, Texas… it’s been real.

Real hot. 👎

#personal


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

For as long as I can remember, I have loved to win. I despise losing, so much so that it has always motivated me to outperform my competitors. I suspect that this started as a young child, when my parents enrolled me into every sport imaginable.

I vividly remember one day before a tee ball game, I asked my dad, “who are we fighting today?”

I was five years old.

He corrected me, explaining that we aren’t fighting anyone, but simply playing a game. I was confused, there was no difference in my mind.

If there is one thing I love about entrepreneurship that isn’t mentioned frequently, it’s the thrill of competing (and winning). I suppose some might describe this mentality as “old school”, especially as it relates to business. I believe there are winners and losers, and not everyone gets a trophy because not every has earned one.

When I am in a competition that I care about, I go hard. If you get one over on me, then I acknowledge it and respect your victory – but you better believe that I’m coming back, and even harder.

For me, there is no better way to show respect than by giving an opponent your absolute best. You show respect by running up the score. In business, that means getting more market share, winning customers of competing products, and being the go-to solution in a segment.

Competing makes me happy. It keeps me engaged, excited, and thinking creatively. It is for this reason that I decided to start another software company.

#personal


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

I am often very hard on myself when it comes to learning Spanish, so I want to take a moment and recognize a breakthrough that I had with the language.

Read more...