Building My Own Product

Jenga Board Game

I've been thinking a lot about how we learn. And more and more I find value in experiential knowledge (things you learn by doing) over academic knowledge (things you learn by reading). For example…

  • I learned how to skydive from someone who has skydived thousands of times.
  • I've talked with parents about their experience raising their kids – rather than reading a book about raising kids.
  • While preparing for a marathon I read a ton of blog posts about running and the advice I really appreciated was from people who actually ran marathons.
  • I want to learn computer science from someone who has participated in computer science projects. Not someone who just repeats what their professor told them.
  • I practice acro yoga and when I want to learn a new pose I do so with people who have done those poses before – not with people who just read about them.
  • When I moved to Denver I decided to move and live in the city for a year and see how it went. Worst case scenario I would move back to Wisconsin. I looked up all of the stats before moving (crime rate, weather, cost of living, etc.) but ultimately I just couldn't understand that information until I actually experienced it.

You can consume a thousand articles, blog posts, books, videos, and conversations with people about a topic. But some topics are so big that you really can't understand it until you live it – like moving to Denver. I could pull up every metric about Denver (and I did make a spreadsheet), but I could never imagine what it's like living downtown in a big city versus living in Green Bay, Wisconsin (a much smaller city with very different values).

Mountains

Denver is surrounded by gorgeous mountains

This isn't to say academic knowledge is useless. It's incredibly useful. Using academic knowledge I realized the Denver has way more sunny days than Portland & Seattle which is why Denver made it to the top of the list. Now, I can't fully imagine what it's like living in Denver surrounded by mountains but I was at least able to narrow down the list of cities based on some really useful data. And from there I had to experience Denver to know if it was the right choice for me.

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Schedule a USPS Pickup At Your House or Business

Learn how to schedule a USPS pickup at your house or business.

When I'm talking about WooCommerce, Shopify, or some other eCommerce platform one of the most challenging aspects is fulfillment. Store owners always want to know how you can efficiently and affordably ship products.

USPS is one of cheaper options, and with both WooCommerce & Shopify you can get live shipping rates during checkout. And you can print out the shipping labels on your home printer. This automates a lot of the boring work.

The last step is scheduling USPS to come by to your house (or business) to pickup the packages. And the best news is that it's easy, free, & you don't even have to get out of your PJs.

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WooCommerce Security

Airport Security

I talk about the features about eCommerce platforms all the time. But I don't often talk about related but important concepts. Every store owner has thought about security and how to keep their store safe both for their customers and so they don't get sued. When it comes to security there are two things you need to worry about.

  1. The security of your site
  2. The security of payment information

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What I Learned Organizing Three Events This Year

Female Speaker in Front of Crowd

Now that the wrap up post for WooConf is out the door I can finally relax. WooConf was the latest event I worked on this year and by far the most intense. Working on three different events – all at different levels of complexity – taught me a few things about running events.

I'm going to share some lessons but first let me give a little context:

1. Lift Off Summit – I designed this summit to help people develop a marketing strategy for their online store. It's a virtual summit so you can tune in and watch ~20 hours of content for free and you can pay to watch the sessions whenever you want.

Event cost: free to stream / $97 for recordings

2. WordCamp Denver – I've always loved helping my local WordPress scene. I've helped organize several meetups and WordCamps in the past. This is my third year organizing this particular conference and it was one of the best we've done.

Event cost: $40

3. WooConf – I've been heavily involved with WooCommerce for years as a customer, developer, product manager, and now educator. So when they asked me to help them plan the content I couldn't say no.

Event cost: $500 early bird / $700 regular

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Value of Making Mistakes

Dark Profile Shot

In 2011 Netflix made an announcement that they’d be splitting into two companies:

  1. Netflix would focus on streaming &
  2. Qwikster (the new company) would focus on DVD rentals.

Netflix claimed they wanted to make it easier for customers and doing this gives both companies the best chance for success. The feedback was instantaneous & almost uniformly bad.

There were numerous reasons this separation didn’t work (it didn’t add any value for customers, costed more, required more work, was rushed, terrible name, etc. They made a mistake and that mistake cost them nearly 800,000 customers.

The most important part of the story is that two months later they reversed their position. They could have continued down the path of “I know best” but they didn't. They stopped all plans for Qwikster and haven't looked back. They started earning back the trust of their customers and they went on to dominate online streaming.

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Spending Time with Friends & Family

Exhausted Traveler

The other day a friend asked if I could hang out. So I pulled out my phone and started looking through my calendar.

scroll past a week

scroll past another week

scroll past yet another week

Well I can hang out with you next month how does that sound?

Does this sound familiar to you?

I've been spending a lot of time at conferences over the last year and I wanted to do a little digging and see how I could optimize my time so I'm still learning & networking and I can also spend time at home with my friends & family.

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Feeling Guilty

Man Feeling Guilt

I've been using this blog as a place to record my own thoughts. A place to document so that I learn and also so that others learn. And today I want to document a feeling.

I feel guilty.

I feel guilty about my job organizing WordCamp Denver. This past year I was speaker wrangler. That means I set up the procedures so the organizing team and myself can pick speakers and add them to the schedule.

And this is the 3rd year doing this for WordCamp Denver and 4th overall. So I have a good idea what I'm doing. The reasons they didn't go smoothly don't matter too much. But in short we tried a different schedule and that led to a lot more work.

What is so strange about me feeling guilty is that I'm used to projects going sideways and encountering obstacles. I'm okay with “failure” because I know I can improve and do better next time. So why do I feel different this time?

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How to Sound Like an Idiot While Introducing Yourself

Business Man Introducing Himself

This is a story about how I'm terrible with introductions and how I'm going to fix that.

I was at a conference recently. And before the conference a group of attendees got together to form a sort of mastermind group. We were there to talk about business problems and I was really excited to be invited to this group.

Since most of us didn't know everyone we started with introductions. And the host asked us to share our name, where we live, and what we do. Pretty standard stuff right?

Well as I was listening to other people introduce themselves I started going through my introduction in my head. Do I share this detail? Is this job title too boring? Should I be funny? How funny?

My palms started sweating and I was only one person away. I pan the room as all of the eyes turn to me. It's my turn. And here's the pile of garbage that came out of my mouth.

I'm Patrick Rauland from Denver Colorado.

Off to a good start! I said my name & where I love correctly! This introduction is going to be amazing!

I'm not the smartest guy I just make a lot of mistakes.

The host mentioned that we were all smart people which was why we were invited and I tried being humble and making a joke about it. It probably would have been funny if I pulled it off. But if you don't well you feel like not the smartest guy.

I used to do a lot of stuff with WooCommerce. So yeah that's what I'm doing now.

And when I finally said the most important part of the introduction I totally flubbed. I still don't have a solid definition for what I do. It's a bit of a challenge because I don't do one thing. But what came out of my mouth was terrible.

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