Somehow I hadn’t caught much of the development of the twenty fifteen theme from WordPress— but I like it so much that it’ll be my theme for a while on

Strangely enough, I have sat down to create a theme from scratch for this site a couple times over the last couple years, and my end goal was something that looked eerily similar to this very theme, needless to say, I was happy when I discovered this.

If you were making a theme for yourself, what would you be looking for?

to 2015


I always love the energy that comes with a new year- there’ something that feels revitalizing about a chance to refocus and start moving towards accomplishing your goals.

This is the time of the year where many are aspiring to better themselves, where many people are dreaming ahead to greener pastures, and I’m no different.

And, perhaps like you, I tend not to accomplish all of my pie-in-the-sky new years plans. Though I would love to say that I HAVE accomplished everything i’ve set off to accomplish in 2014, in reality there were a few things that I fell short. But it’s a new year, and another opportunity to relace my shoes and go for it.

I spent a number of mornings earlier this week going through Michael Hyatt’s Life Plan book. — He offers it for free at his website. It was a pretty cool exercise to finish.  With the turn of a new year, it was a good time to reflect on the last year and a build a plan that would go beyond just 2015.

I did more than just work through Michael’s Life Plan book. I love to listen to podcasts while I’m in the car and one of the podcasts that I’ve been very much enjoying is the Fizzle Show. One of the ideas that they’ve mentioned in several of their latest podcasts is the notion of a Body of Work, and you should be working on things today that will contribute to the body of work you want to have in 5 years. This was an especially motivating idea to process as I worked through the Life Plan. 

What are the things you can work on today, that will contribute to the body of work you want in 5 years? 

For me, reflecting over this question made it obvious the next few projects to work on when I’m not working on Client work with Five Espressos (and our much needed rework of our website/branding).

I have made no real resolutions this year, but I still want 2015 to be a year of rapid goal achievement, and you’ll see that focus coming with changes to my blog and future projects.

What do you hope to accomplish in the coming year?  


Ten Times


What would happen if your clients were paying you ten times what you’re charging them currently?

What would your business look like if you had ten times the customers? How would your role change?

What would change if your website had ten times the traffic?

If you had ten times the twitter followers?

Ten Times as many people reading your facebook statuses?

Ten times as many emails coming in?

Things would change.

I have another question for you.

Why not behave like this is already happening?

This is how I’m challenging myself.

I don’t have a large following online but I know that I could do more to care for the people that have chosen to have me in their facebook feeds, and those that have chosen to hear my offhand comments on twitter.

It’s my responsibility to make grow that relationship on those platforms, and to show up in a way that I haven’t before.

the web

How would my web design activites change if my clients were paying me ten times what I’m currently charging?

1. I would be more attentive to them

2. I would be more proactive with suggesting changes in their best interest

3. I would find as many ways to add value to their experience with my company and the web as a whole.

These are great things, but when I take a step back, I realize that my current clients already deserve this attention from me.

Now it’s my challenge to deliver on it.

new projects

I’m a big fan of the Lean Startup methodology of creating a company— by starting with a light version of your product and service, you can gauge customer interest before you’ve sunk an extraordinary amount of time and energy into the concept. You can take any feedback collected by this first intial offering and wrap it into your product to make version 2 better than version 1, and version 2 is more of what the customers want!

With the theme of this post, how does lean methodology fit into everything? I don’t think you want to skip the early iterations!

My first web project that I released was a small productivity group experiment called Hustle Month. I did what I could to market the site- emailing it and sharing it across my networks, contacting people i thought might be interested, I know a lot more now than I did back then!

In the end, I had less than 50 people join me on that first go of Hustle Month and at some point I might find another way for that project to live on. However, how much different would my product have had to have been had I had 500 people join me?

What was missing in the experience?

Did I have the email autoresponders set up?

Was my site infastruture ready for a consistent high traffic month?

Did I have the time to give myself completely to the project for the whole month? (I launched the month while i was on vacation… it was KINDA an oversight on my part!)

I guess at the end of the day. Putting effort as though you have ten times the reach doesnt mean you’ll get there, but I know the people you come in contact with are worth the extra effort.

I’m stepping up my game, are you?



Luna Blue

Earlier this year, I was introduced to the Jumpstart framework for WordPress by my friend, and fellow WordPress, Scot Rumery. This spring, Scot ran an idea by me about working with him on a theme based on JumpStart, but one that would take advantage of WordPress’s built in post formats.

If you have read my blog over the past few years, you’ll know that I have long loved the Tumblr platform. One of the main reasons i’m so fond of Tumblr are the use of post formats.

Photo of Tumblr's post type selector

If you want to write an essay, you can
If you want to just post a picture, you can.
And if you come across a quote and want to share it on your page, you can.

And every one of these use cases appears perfectly onto the website: pictures are beautiful, quotes are styled well, and your big text blog posts are standard big text blog posts.

Tumblr Post Layout

I haven’t been posting on tumblr as much as I did in my days before WordPress, but there are days where spending some scrolling endlessly through tumblr is exactly what I need.

So that’s what we’re looking to do with the Luna Blue project: create a wordpress theme that handles different post formats elegantly.

In short, we want to create the theme we want to use on our websites– even if i feel like my criteria for my page design changes monthly.

In the meantime, I have installed with Luna Blue, but this is before we really do any changes. As we add features to the repository, I’ll update the website on what we’ve done, as well as update the theme to the current version of Luna Blue

Everybody Sneezes: Even your heroes are human

I was sitting and eating lunch at a restaurant last week, and I had a piece of food get caught down the wrong pipe. I proceeded into a coughing fit, which lasted an awkwardly long time.

I finally recovered as I could feel the pressure in my eyes as relief was coming my way, and then the fresh air tickled my nose and I started sneezing.

Sneezing generally comes in sets of two or three for me. Soon, though, this episode was over. I looked at my hands and realized that I was in dire need of a napkin. I located one and cleaned myself up. I thought to myself that, to an onlooker, I must have looked like the most disgusting and pitiable person possible.

As I resumed eating my lunch, i was struck by the fact that anybody in a similar situation would look disgusting and pitiable.

Jeff Bezos in the middle of a sneezing fit? Still Rich, but please talk to me later.

LeBron James choking on a McNugget? Take your talents to Hawaii.

I could go on… but the point has been made. I find it really easy to compare myself with others. However, when I look at this activity objectively, I’m often comparing a failure on my part with a success from the other.

Comparing apples to apples when it comes to successes is very difficult, and is best avoided. For example, I was working in the banking industry a couple years back while using my down time to gain the skills necessary to launch my first business. Meanwhile, I had a few friends that were moving to big cities, and getting good paying jobs, living in cool apartments and living what seemed to be the good life. So while my financial success could hardly be compared to my friends, if I were in their position I wouldn’t have been able to make progress towards my goals- of being a business owner and building my own brand.

The only productive person to compare yourself to is *yourself.*

Write out your goals, and work towards them.

The things that others are doing around you should have no influence on your progress and your goals.

You might fail at things.

You might fall short.

You might choke on some food and make yourself a nasty mess. Just remember that even your heroes are human, and they sneeze too.

Shiny Object Syndrome

So. I have a problem.

I want a lot of things I don’t need.

I want to buy new moleskine journals when my current journal is less than half filled.

I want to buy a kindle when I have a pile of books on my floor that could take more than a year to finish. This is ignoring the fact that I ordered 5 books from Amazon yesterday. It is very easy to rationalize something like this when a guy like Dave Ramsey requires everyone that joins his team read these books in their first couple months of working for him.

A couple of months ago, I was in my car heading to barnes and noble to pick up a sketch pad so that I’d have a big sprawling surface to outline out business ideas, but about half way towards the mall, I realized how needless this was, and I turned around.

The biggest hurdle for me as a guy who likes to build things on the web is my devices. I have a desktop computer, a laptop, an ipad mini, as well as an iPhone (which is having severe battery issues.)

Lately, my MacBook pro has been the latest on my hitlist. I want to get rid of it. I want to upgrade to something top of the line, to something fast, to something that will undoubtedly make me way more productive. After doing tax returns, I am in a similar spot to many Americans: I have more disposable income that I generally do, which generally leads to big ticket purchases. Even though I might make better use out of a piece of technology than the average person, the bottom line is that as long as my computer is still working, still able to connect to the internet, and still able to do the things I need to do to keep Five Espressos and ymLaunch going, I don’t really need an upgraded machine.

Now, it’s very possible that in the next few months, there will be a new models of both the MacBook air and the MacBook pros, each with the high definition retina display that makes a techy like me drool. Ultimately, as long as this old faithful is working, I should be using it!

My business partner is one of the most frugally minded people I know, which is NOT an insult in my book. He’s encouraging me to drive this laptop into the ground. I think he’s more right than wrong.

warning, tech talk ahead!

I decided that if I wasn’t going to be splurging on a new macbook pro, I would at least make a couple quality of life improvements to my personal laptop. I purchased a solid state hard drive to install into my Computer. This hard drive will drastically improve the startup speed of my computer, as well as the speed at which new processes and applications are started.

I will also be cleaning things up with a new backup drive and starting this computer from a new install of Mavericks.
I want to run this thing really lean, keep it going fast, and hopefully be as close to a new computer as I can.

Also, spending less than 200 is a lot better than dropping over fifteen hundred!


So I left the banking world last summer to start working at a screen printing company, primarily holding a sales role.

It has been quite the learning experience.

At the bank, I could expect to a steady stream of customers. And because I’m slightly gifted in small talk, it didn’t take much time at all to become well-liked by a majority of the customer base.

Being in sales at the screen printing shop was different. I was starting from the bottom: I didn’t immediately have customers that I could call on. I didn’t have a list of people to contact, I didn’t have any sort of customers coming to see me.

Definitely different, but I enjoyed the challenge.

It was always my goal to work in this job, and grow my side businesses (both ymLaunch and five espressos) to a point where they were ready to support someone full time. However, we aren’t there yet.

Last week I was laid off from the screen printing shop because of how slow we had been for the winter. Screen printing is a very seasonal industry- as many orders for t shirts go from April to November. This winter being both very cold and very very long, didn’t do much to help, so the owner was forced to lay off all of the office staff in an attempt to cover the overhead. The boss said that he’s hoping we’re back within the next month, however there’s no definitive date.

That also means that it’s really unclear what direction for me to head. Filing for unemployment was very strange, however I need to be actively searching for new jobs, and not just actively searching for new work for 5e/ymLaunch. However, discerning the proper balance between these two choices– as well as taking care of my customers from the screen printing shop — has been a pretty paralyzing process.

Unpacking some options.

When I was notified last week of this situation, I took some time to walk out to one of my favorite locations in West Michigan. There’s a house that overlooks the Grand River, and if it wasn’t owned by the county, I would expect to live there someday.

I sat on the deck and started writing down my options on a small legal pad I had brought with me. I had a few options:

  •  ignore the situation, and keep drumming up t shirt business.
  •  new jobs
  •  new work for 5e/ymL.

What struck me as I spent some time fleshing out what each of these might look like, the ideas for my own businesses and possible new opportunities with that just seemed to flow out.

Non stop.

Ideas that I had previously shelved because I didn’t have time were suddenly vibrant and extremely viable options. I’ve actually been taking the steps to make some of these happen.

So yeah.
That’s that.

Hustle Month Day 2

I’ll get to the chase with this. I’ll end the day not feeling like I really earned my sleep. But that’s largely due to it being a wednesday night, and being a worship leader at my church means that a significant amount of my time is chewed away on wednesday nights. I love doing it, but it does take quite a bit of my time.

What did I do?

I played some with, I worked some on a new client site, and I tweaked a site for my sister-in law.

Why does it matter?

I’m always trying to be better, so making better is important, making progress on a freelance project is always good, and getting closer to completion on a site for an artist… it’s important!

Earn your sleep?

No, but I didn’t have enough time to myself to say I earned it– Also due to giving up certain things in lent, i’m strugglign through a bit of a caffeine headache right now… Not having pop is huge for me!