Technology is a Double Edged Sword

Robot Teacher

There's a recent article on Business Insider on how retail stores are closing and they predict it could affect 6 to 7 million workers.

And from all of the headlines (1, 2, 3, & 4) it seems inevitable that many retail locations are going to close. And this will mean the end of some jobs. But it isn't without hope.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

In 1979 the first spreadsheet software was created. It was called VisiCalc and it worked on the Apple II.

Now spreadsheets existed; they were just created manually (read: by hand). So when the owner of the company asks you a question like: “What happens to our profit if we increase production by 5%?” you would have to take the spreadsheet back into your office. Erase all of the existing data. And rewrite all of the affected cells. This could take the whole day. Or if the spreadsheet was especially big it could take multiple days.

After VisiCalc came out it took seconds. You would think this meant the end of accountants right? But it didn't.

Since 1980 (a year after the software came out) 400,000 bookkeeping and accounting clerk jobs disappeared. But 600,000 accounting jobs (different than accounting clerks) appeared (source).

So even though the costs of accounting dropped dramatically the jobs didn't disappear as they should have. That's because as the price fell people wanted more of that product. They wanted to ask more questions:

  • What if we decrease production by 5%?
  • What if we give everyone a 5% raise? What about 6%?
  • What if we could increase the efficiency of our production staff by 10%?
  • What if the whole company took off the week of Christmas?

Now it took just seconds. So businesses were able to ask more questions and make better decisions.

Old jobs were eliminated. And new jobs (where people had to use computers) were created.

Back to the Present

So new technology doesn't mean jobs die. It means some jobs die and new ones get created.

As Americans continue to buy more online it will mean the end of some retail jobs. But as we lose those jobs new jobs are created.

Lowe's has this robot they're testing in stores. And while it will eliminate a few retail jobs it could mean more jobs in manufacturing (robots) and in software (for robots).

And there are new jobs in logistics to handle all of the online purchases.

Higher Skilled Jobs

As we eliminate retail jobs which are low skill jobs and replace them with robot manufacturer & software developers which are high skill jobs. It becomes pretty clear that we need to keep growing and educating ourselves.

For the average retail worker (read: minimum wage) this can be expensive. And I worry about the growing inequality between classes. Those who can afford to learn new skills will succeed and those without will likely desperately look for those last retail jobs.

These are societal issues that we'll have to figure out. But for right now as retail jobs are lost start looking to learn new skills. Learn skills that let you create. Things like:

  • Writing
  • Software development
  • Marketing
  • Product development

These are skills we'll need for a long time. They might be automated (or partially automated) someday. But in the meantime they let you create things and earn a solid income. The key is see the changing landscape, educate yourself, and move into a higher skill profession.

One Feature Missing from the Top 50

Working Remotely

LinkedIn published their list of the top 50 companies that people want to work at. And there's a few things that most of them have in common.

  1. They're almost all technology companies (Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, etc)
  2. They are aggressive finding the best employees. They have very competitive wages, they have perks like Amazon's Leave Share program for spousal paternity/maternity leave, and they usually have a bit of fun at work.

Continue Reading…

3 Takeaways from Shopify Unite

Tobi Lütke on stage at Shopify Unite

I've been in the eCommerce world for a while. And generally speaking I'm a fan of open-source platforms because you can customize anything and there are no restrictions.

But Shopify has been growing like crazy. And I wanted to poke my head in and see if it's something to look at. So I attended their 2nd annual Unite conference.

I learned quite a bit. And I got to know the company a little better. If you're thinking about using Shopify for an upcoming project keep reading.

Invest In Your Partners

The conference starts with the CEO Tobi Lütke. He talked a lot about how entrepreneurship is getting harder. There are fewer and fewer of them. And since the costs of running a business are going down what could be causing this?

Lütke thinks that the issue is education, that the learning curve is too steep. ECommerce is admittedly very complex. There's SEO, pay-per-click advertising, managing inventory, QA, fulfillment, customer support, and a whole lot more.

To solve this Shopify is focusing on making that learning curve less steep.

Their ultimate goal to help more people build businesses on Shopify.

Harley Finkelstein, the COO for Shopify, talked about the economy around Shopify. And how they've built Shopify and the market place around it in such a way that their partners make more than they do.

  • Shopify: 389M
  • Partners: ~400M+
  • Merchants GMV: 15.4B

These numbers only include payments directly from Shopify. So app sales, theme sales, affiliate income, etc. Actually building websites for clients isn't included. So it's much bigger than the numbers they shared.

It's clear that Shopify is investing in their partnerships. If you want to build Shopify stores for clients you can expect to make good money. And you can expect more & better tools as they continue to grow.


Shopify has had an app for their merchants for a while. It's great to see new orders and how much money you've made that day. But it's never been as powerful as the Shopify website. You can't add apps, customize your theme, or do other administrative tasks.

But something happened last Christmas.

Shopify merchants used the app more than the website. Shopify has always focused on mobile. And their checkout experience is phenomenal on mobile. Now they're putting the same effort into their app for merchants.

And they've redesigned them all so the website, the mobile app, and the point of sale (POS) solution have a cohesive design.

Shopify knows how valuable mobile is. They continue to make the power of Shopify more and more available on mobile devices. You don't need an IT team. You can already run most of your store from your phone. And soon you'll be able to run even more.


Shopify is the biggest hosted eCommerce platform. They have an insane number of merchants on their service. And because of that they have a lot of data.

They've started to use that data to make it easier for merchants to make decisions (going back to that learning curve). So if you open a shoe store they'll recommend apps that successful shoe stores in your area already use.

But they're also using this data to make the consumer's life better. Many websites let you save credit card information for faster checkout. Which is great for repeat business. But it doesn't help the customer get through the cart the first time they visit you.

Shopify is fixing this with ShopifyPay. If I've ever checked out on a Shopify site before. As soon as I enter my email address. I'll be prompted to get an SMS confirmation code. As soon as I enter that code all of the rest of the checkout fields are filled out for me.

This is huge for merchants. It will drastically lower the abandoned cart rate. And it will make everything more secure.

Just to clear. Shopify doesn't share your actual credit card information with a merchant. They pass along something called a credit card token to the payment gateway. Merchants can't access your credit card number or anything like that. It's very safe.

Bonus – Be Flexible

I want to share one more thing. I've helped put on several tech conferences. And it is hard work. You have to find speakers, a venue, affordable ticket price, the right dates, etc. It's a lot of work.

And Shopify did all of this. AND they also had to deal with a city-wide power outage Friday morning.

Right before the sessions were supposed to start the venue lost power. And they handled it like bosses.

Color Me Impressed

I'm very impressed with Shopify and the Unite conference. They put on this event to inspire, educate, and grow their partners.

They're incredibly user focused. When they noticed that mobile was a big deal they invested in it. They're continuing that investment from the merchant stand point.

When they see a problem they attack it and do things no competitor has done (ShopifyPay).

I'm pumped about Shopify. I already have a Learn Shopify: The Basics course and I can't wait to look into Shopify theme & app development courses.

If you're thinking about using Shopify for an upcoming project. It's a solid platform trusted by hundred of thousands of merchants and thousands of partners. And I was very impressed by their conference. I'll be attending again next year.

Why High Performing WordPressers are Unemployable

Business Man on Street

Last week Jake Goldman, founder of 10up, sent out this tweet:

Basically wondering why 10up's applicants only seem to stay at their previous job for 1 or 2 years. I weighed in on how employees need to feel in control & they need to be committed.

Which turned into issues in management which turned into issues in employee expectations. And all of these are valid. They all impact how long someone stays at a job. But as I thought about it some more. I think there's another issue.

Continue Reading…

Equal Pay Day – What’s Good and What Needs Improvement

Piggy Bank

April 4th is Equal Pay Day. And it's making me think about my impact in the world around gender issues. And if they're positive, negative, or both.

The Good

I'm helping organize WooConf, a conference for WooCommerce developers, and we're trying to figure out how, if at all, we should compensate speakers. Some organizers don't want to compensate them at all. Some want to pay for flight, hotel, ticket, etc. And some suggest only compensating when they ask for it.

From a cost-savings perspective you'll save the most money by not giving anyone anything until they ask for it. But this can create an imbalance. People who are assertive get more than others. And if those people find out they're not going to be happy. Something like this:

I want to avoid this at all costs. And compensating people fairly falls in line with my ethos. So I set up rules that determine exactly how much you'll be compensated.

  1. If you deliver a talk we'll compensate x.
  2. If you deliver a workshop we'll compensate y.
  3. If you deliver a keynote we'll compensate z.

This removes any unconscious biases about who deserves what. There are rules and you follow them. Every thing is transparent.

What I'm Working On

Outside of events I run it feels hard to contribute. How much you're paid is nebulous. And it's usually only close friends that share that information.

And when they do I'm sometimes really surprised at how little they're paid.

When I ask them if they negotiated their salary they usually respond with a no. They assumed that number on a piece of paper is what they're worth.

And I think that's such a shame. Men tend to have such a high standard of self-worth (I'm God's gift to the world!) and women tend to have such a low standard of self-worth (I'm not perfect will you still accept me?).

And if I were to contribute anywhere this is where I'd like to help. Because asking for what you want and believing that you deserve it is powerful.


Metorik: The Missing Analytics for WooCommerce

Metorik Banner

I've written about WooCommerce reporting in the past. And at that time the best solutions were plugins you installed yourself. That's no longer the case. Metorik is a service designed specifically to understand your WooCommerce data.

Metorik was created by Bryce Adams who used to work for WooCommerce. So it's well built, well designed, and it enhances the reporting experience in WooCommerce. And not just a little bit. But a lot.


One of my favorite features in Metorik are the digests. You can set up daily, weekly, or monthly digests.

And in that digest you can include sales KPIs like number of orders & revenue and it compares them to the previous period.

Metorik Digest

A monthly digest from Metorik.

You can also include data about your products. Like a summary of products sold. The top products sold. And it compares it to the previous period as well.

Metorik Digest Products

A product digest from Metorik

You don't like email digests? That's fine. You can also connect to Slack. And have them sent to a Slack channel.

Order Report

One of the most useful reports is the Order report. It reminds me of Google Analytics if it was designed for WooCommere. There's a lot of stats & graphs on the page. And right at the top there's a handy overview.

Metorik Order Report Graph

This is just a test store. Otherwise the last two weeks are terrible!

And after that are some KPIs all about your orders. So if you're like me and you really like to track your progress these numbers should really help you out.

Metorik Order Report KPIs

I love KPIs. And these are great KPIs for any e-commerce store.

Customer Report

And this is my favorite piece of data. Because is one of the most useful metrics for e-commerce and it's really hard to calculate. Metorik calculates your customer lifetime value (CLV).

Metorik Customer Report KPIs

Customer lifetime value (CLV) and other important KPIs for e-commerce

One of the downsides of self hosted software like WooCommerce is that calculating complex metrics like customer lifetime value is really challenging. If you can calculate it at all it'll probably slow down your site. So having a 3rd party tool like Metorik do it for you is really useful. Keep your site fast and get all of the data you need.


And I want to get them props for their onboarding experience. It's a primarily API driven application. Meaning you mostly have to grant access to your site through a modal window. Give metorik a few minutes to crunch the numbers. And you're up and running.

Metorik is for Winning

Metorik is a marketer's dream. And once you've built your e-commerce store you really should focus on the marketing and not your tech.

There's a ton of useful graphs I skipped over. Devices, countries, refunds, etc. And some insanely useful features like being able to filter (segment) all of your reports.

Bryce is a pretty ambitious guy. You can see what he's working on. Like reports for WooCommerce Subscriptions & integrating with Cost of Goods for WooCommerce. And you can vote for the features that make the most sense for you.

Metorik Mascot Jarvis

Jarvis – the mascot for Metorik.

Overall: I'm in love with Metorik (and their mascot). Once you get your store up and running Metorik should provide all the information you need to grow your store.

Happy growing!

KPIs for Google Analytics

Data Mining KPIs

There's a tool all of us use and just about no one knows exactly what it does. I'm talking about Google Analytics. I've been using it for almost a decade now and I'm still discovering new features. And by “new” I mean features it's always had but I didn't know about.

So to help anyone else out who might be in my shoes I've made a list of useful metrics you can track in Google Analytics.

Continue Reading…

Have You Heard of Trypod?

Woman Listening to Headphones

The month of March is all about #trypod. It's a month long campaign between dozens of podcast producers to get people who are podcast fanatics (that's me) to recommend podcasts to others (that's you). Since I find podcasts so valuable I'm helping out.

I'm going to share my favorite podcasts and why they're my favorite. I'll also share some podcasts I used to love and why I no longer listen to them. And then I'll share how I listen to my podcasts efficiently.

My Favorite Podcasts

From top, being my most favorite, to the bottom, the ones I'm probably going to drop soon.

NPR Politics Podcast

NPR Politics Podcast

The NPR Politics Podcast started about 1.5 years ago and talked primarily about the US 2016 election. And now that that's over they cover the current state of politics.

This is the only podcast where when they're late posting episodes I actually notice. They have a weekly recap of everything politics Thursday as well as episodes covering current events.

They do a phenomenal job summarizing the news into digestible bites. I feel like I can skip the day to day news digest and get a really good 40 minute summary with this podcast.

After I listen to this podcast I'll often see articles on Facebook that are missing the nuance of the situation… if only everyone listened to this podcast.

99% Invisible

99% Invisible

99% Invisible talks about the hidden design in everything. They have really well crafted episode that show us how things we use everyday are either poorly or well designed. Often these things are invisible to me until they point them out. And then I see them everywhere!

They just had a phenomenal 2 part series (1 & 2) on where Sanctuary Cities come from. Hint: nothing to do with liberal cities.

Planet Money

Planet Money

Planet Money is an NPR podcast all about economics. They talk about the economic principles behind water shortages in California, what the border adjustment tax could look like, and what effect, if any, refuges have on the economy.

My favorite episode from last year might have been a panel of 22 economists that weighed in on the primary candidates for the 2016 election (Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, & Ted Cruz). In short just about every economic theory they put out there had flaws in it.

eCommerce Fuel LogoeCommerceFuel

eCommerceFuel is both a private community and a podcast. The private community is 6-7 figure store owners who talk about everything e-commerce. And the podcast features that community and other e-commerce experts. There's really great content on here.

And it's higher level content. Very rarely are people asking about the best tool for X. They're talking about higher level strategies.

Unfortunately the host, Andrew, Youderian, has taken a bit of a backseat and now we're only getting monthly episodes instead of weekly episodes. But the content is still good. If you're into e-commerce at all you should listen to this.

Reveal LogoReveal

Reveal is an investigative journalism podcast. They talk about everything. They had a great episode on how the US Navy builds ships (hint: poorly), one on air pollution around schools, and one on current border issues and how that might change.

They tend to focus on one topic, ex. US naval industry, and then approach it from three different angles. For the naval industry they look at how ships are approved from congress, the working conditions on a shipyard, and how one fishery observer went missing. The different angles really help you understand how nuanced these problems are.

Apply Filters LogoApply Filters

Apply Filters is the go-to WordPress podcast for developers. And in this case by developer I mean people who code. They interview interesting people (and some not-so-interesting people 😉 ), discuss recent WordPress developments, and answer Q&As.

And my favorite part might be where Brad & Pippin give their updates. It's pretty amazing to listen to updates like these that go back for multiple years. You can see that things don't just happen. Life is a marathon and then only way you get somewhere is by putting one foot in front of the other over and over.

Unemployable LogoUnemployable

Unemployable is a podcast hosted by Brian Clark, the man behind the Rainmaker platform.

He talks about about marketing & audience building. And interviews a lot of entrepreneurs. My favorite aspect are all of the entrepreneurs he interviews. They aren't just people who have made a lot of money. And they typically aren't VC funded companies. They're usually people who have built a business with profit in mind since day 1.

Nerd Marketing LogoNerd Marketing

Nerd Marketing is a short but very tactical podcast. Drew Sanocki does awesome marketing for e-commerce companies. And he tells (and sometimes shows) how to do the exact campaigns he does for his e-commerce companies.

He goes very deep into e-commerce & newsletter marketing if that's your thing.

Invisible Details LogoInvisible Details

Invisible Details is an interesting podcast. They talk about branding. And all of the tiny things that matter but aren't directly related to business.

I like the podcast but it's a bit long for me. I'm hoping for the same sort of content but boiled down a bit more. I really like the hosts. I think I'd be able to have a cup of coffee with them. And their style is great.

The Independent Characters LogoThe Independent Characters

The Independent Characters is a podcast all about Warhammer 40,000. Yes. A podcast about my hobbies.

For a Warhammer nerd it's pretty great. The host, Carl, is just a phenomenal guy who cares very much about the hobby.

The Long War LogoThe Long War

The Long War is another podcast I really enjoy. They also talk about Warhammer 40k. This is more of a “most recent news” type podcast.

While The Independent Characters is really well thought out. Sometimes you want to hear whats going on every week.

Business Reimagined LogoBusiness Reimagined

Business Reimagined comes out about once a month which I enjoy. I can only listen to so many weekly podcasts.

Danny talks about online education which is something that is very relevant to me.

I enjoy the show but I don't love the format. It seems scripted. Like they write every workd ahead of time and they just read off of a script. I'd like something a little more authentic and a little less polished. Just a personal preference of mine. I'm still listening to this podcast but I might replace it soon.

Business Reimagined LogoShopify Masters

Shopify Masters talks to store owners who use Shopify. The talk about all sorts of things. If you are thinking about starting your own store I highly recommend this podcast. One episode they'll talk about sourcing your products, in another they'll talk about micro-influencers, and in another they'll talk about intellectual property law.

It's neat in that you can learn anything related to e-commerce. The only issue I have is that the velocity is a bit high for me. There are several hour long episodes per week. I have a hard time choosing which ones to skip and which to listen to. So I'll probably replace this podcast soon. But if you're getting into e-commerce definitely give it a listen.

Old Favorites

I also have some old favorites. I've heard them for years and learned just about all I think I can learn from them. But they might be useful for you.

How to Optimize Your Experience

I use Pocket Casts to listen to my podcasts on Android. Using a few features like:

  • 1.1X listening speed
  • Removing long silences

I was able to save 1 day & 1 hour of listening time out of 8 days & 22 hours total listening time since last year.

Try a Podcast

If you don't already listen to podcasts just look at the amount of content I consumed in a year! 8 days + 22 hours. That's 214 hours of content! That's an hour long webinar 4 days a week every week of the year. And I do that without having to be in-front of a screen. I could be walking my dog, washing the dishes, or walking to a coffee shop.

If you aren't already listening to podcasts. Now is a great time to start. And it doesn't have to be one of the above. There's a huge list of podcasts on #TryPod.

Happy podcasting!

What do you do?

mountain peak with flag - mission

It's been more than 6 months since I left my job. And when someone asks me what I do I still don't know how to answer. Because I've done a bunch of things.

  • I helped a WordPress software company market their products.
  • I helped debug a few WooCommerce bugs.
  • I helped a WordPress VIP company with a proposal for an e-commerce project.
  • I'm helping a hosting company create infrastructure made for WooCommerce.
  • I'm helping WooCommerce choose topics & speakers for WooConf.
  • And this whole time I've been making e-commerce courses for

So it's hard to answer. Do I go with what I'm working on today? Do I go with what I've been doing the longest? Or do I go with what I want to be working on?


I've found that what I do on a week to week basis varies quite a bit. But my mission has been pretty consistent:

Help people build their own business

And e-commerce is an arena where I have a lot of expertise and can help them succeed.


Some people obsess over plans. They want to have a 1, 5, & 10 year plan. And they stick to these plans even when they shouldn't. And I think this is because many people don't know how to make an impact in this world without large & complicated plans.

But large and complicated plans don't guarantee you make an impact. They just guarantee you'll accomplish some thing at some point. And this resonates with something that Seth Godin said:

A ten-year plan is absurd. Impossible, not particularly worth wasting time on. On the other hand, a ten-year commitment is precisely what's required if you want to be sure to make an impact.

And this is how I'm approaching my business. I have a mission: to help people build businesses. And anything that falls under that mission is something I would consider working on.

I have a 2-3 month plan and when I finish that plan then I start a new 2-3 month plan.

I'm working on different course ideas, talking to companies, and helping individuals. And my plans keep changing. And for right now that's okay. I'm trying lots of things and figuring out where I can make the most impact.

It's still a tough question when someone asks me what I do. But at least now I answer with:

I help people build online stores.

It covers my mission, provides a hook if they're interested, and it keeps my options open.

So if you have trouble answering the “what do you do question” just think about your mission. It's the most true thing you can say anyway. You can always go into more detail if they express interest.