PressNomics: Fun in the sun and heat of Tempe, AZ

I had the extreme fortune to attend PressNomics 5, held at the magnificent Tempe Mission Palms Hotel and Conference Center.  This was a relatively last minute decision from my team to send someone.  I jumped at the chance, not just because this is the premier WordPress business focused event of the year, but also because so many of my WordPress friends were going to be there.  It was a real reunion in the desert, where I walked away with dozens of new friends who I can’t wait to see again.  The event was exhausting and there was barely a minute to myself, but I managed to fill a few of those hours by doing some improv.  Lots to cover this time around, so let’s dive in!

Food and Fun:

Opening Party:
After a long day of travel and doing some non-conference work I was eager to meet up with the Pressnomics crew. I was not alone in my eagerness as the party started a little bit early with some of us arriving well ahead of schedule. Soon enough though the patio area of Rula Bula was swarmed with conference folks. We had a few drink tickets provided by SiteLock and Mojo Marketplace. Aside from the libations there was a fine selection of shrimp skewers, some kind of flatbread pizza, croquettes, fried chicken tenders and an array of other delicacies. It was awesome to see so many old friends and to meet so many new friends for the first time. It was the ideal way to kick off the conference.

Lunch Day 1:
Downtown Tempe is a bustling little berg with a ton of small shops and restaurants. Pressnomics didn’t provide lunch for us, instead encouraging us to find our own small groups to go have a meal together with. I had many a great conversation with the folks who journeyed not too far from the venue to Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. Generous portions were met with tasty Butt Burning Hot Sauce at this popular Mexican spot.

After Party Day 1:
The end of day one snuck up on us and found us all in the courtyard of the Mission Palms where Mojo Marketplace and Envato sponsored a welcome party. The Arizona heat persisted even as the sun set on the day. Crab rangoon, sausage stuffed pastry puffs and miniature tortilla wraps made excellent finger foods for our networking and small talk. Dinner plans were made and new friendships began there in the courtyard. I ducked out to take a small detour.

I am ridiculously fortunate to be part of the global improv community. It seems no matter where I go I know a local improvisor and theater. Every so often, I am just exactly in the right time and the right place that my work travels align with an improv festival. Phoenix offered such an opportunity as Bill Binder invited me to perform as part of the Bird City Comedy Festival! I was overjoyed, as I always am, at the stage time, but this was extra special. I got to perform with 3 different friends from Camp Improv Utopia!Banner that says "Space 55 Theater Ensemble"
We performed an Armando using 5 different local storytellers for inspiration. The 80-ish minute show was essentially one long set with various pauses for a new storyteller to give us new information. We learned about the forgiving nature of dogs, even when you accidentally wrong them, we learned about the cruelty of schoolchildren to those that are different, and we learned about the innocent nature of children about their bathroom habits. There was a lot to play with and the set zipped by. It was one of the more fun times I have had on stage4 people on a stage under bright lights, 4 men and one woman, one of the men is addressing the audience recently. A huge thank you to the Torch Theater for letting me guest star. I was even presented with a performer’s pass good for attending any other show in the festival. My sole regret from this trip was I didn’t have time to go see any other shows. Still, this memory will live in my heart forever.


After After Party Day 1:
I am a member of the Post Status community and getting to go to the after after party they threw is one of the better examples of ‘membership has it’s advantages.” We gathered at one of the many brewpubs in Tempe, Blasted Barley. Food was not provided but we all got green wristbands that entitled us to free drinks until the tab ran dry. This turned out to be quite a while, much to our collective delight.
This was the party where I met a new friend outside the WP space, a theoretical physicist at ASU, working on some very interesting and promising research on radiation. I didn’t quite follow everything he was saying but we chased down the math with tequila and cheers-ed to his recent successful experiments and proven correct predictions about the data. I rarely write about such encounters, as I do find all people and their stories interesting but too much to write down, but this one stands out as a great case-in-point of talking to people outside of your prescribed peer group to learn more about the world.
It was at this party that I also learned about the ever interesting Mendel’s newest project: Go check it out. It will be in September and I can already tell you it will be the fall’s ‘not to be missed’ event.
Having drank my fill and after a very long day I called it a night and looked forward to the exciting day ahead.

Lunch Day 2:
Day one lunch was a bit of a giant group that sorta walked the same direction, breaking off into naturally selecting groups based on our individual food preferences. On day 2 a few of us clustered around the courtyard looking for a smaller group to go exploring with. A suggestion of a House of Tricks was made and a few of us wandered that direction. The dinner menu was high end and very well regarded, while the lunch menu offered more sensibly priced and well thought out proportions. Everyone found the inventive offerings satisfying. I had a Bun Mee that was pretty fantastic and witnessed a “PB & J” that I will let you find the description of on your own.
We sat in the patio area, which would have been far too hot in the Tempe sun if it were not for constantly spraying misters. Some of the party members were closer to the nozzles and took measures to keep themselves dry:


After Party Day 2:
All great things must end and the teams of MOJO Marketplace and Gravity Forms provided quite the refined and enjoyable pool party to commencement of the finally. Drinks flowed and served to wash down spring rolls, stuffed pastry and tiny triangle tortilla wraps. The concrete of the pool area held onto the evening heat and the walls that protected the pool kept off the wind make it a hot time in the old town. The tab closed and people started to say their goodnights and goodbyes, but some of us made our way to the last event of the evening, WCKaraoke!


WCKaraoke stands for WordCamp Karaoke, and up to this point had been reserved for exclusively pouring out the encouragement to go sing at WordCamps. PressNomics marks the change of this policy and I am very glad to see them supporting all WP folks to go sing no matter what the event is called. We sang and we sang and we danced and we sang. So many good times until way too late.

Escape Room Saturday outing:
There was one last final ‘hurrah’ of the event and that was the extra social events, golf or escape room. Not being a fan of being in direct sunlight for hours, I chose the escape room over at Dare to Escape. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, an escape room is a series of puzzles that lead sequentially to you and your teammates opening the door and escaping. The scenario I sent through was one about getting out of a evil scientists’ abandoned lab that had a self destruct sequence counting down. 54 minutes into the puzzle we unlocked the door. They asked us not to take pics but you can check out their pics. I was exhausted but super happy to participate. All too soon I was on my way back to the airport after saying my last goodbyes to my fellow PressNomics attendees.

There was also golf:

The Sessions

Being a single track conference and not having to work a booth, I got to attend every session! Just for this post, due to wanting to get this out the door and not wanting to rewrite all my notes, I am just going to post my raw notes here. Enjoy a view into my stream of consciousness. 🙂

Day 1:
Speaker: Jason Coleman
Title: Haters gonna Hate
Some hate mail examples shown
takes persistence to proceed,
If you scared of failing
We need to talk about the hate
it holds back many businesses out of fear
hate scales 1 to 1 with users/customers.
People can leverage your care against you.
Go to Verizon page to see some fun hate mail
What do we do to invite hate? Anything. Can not be avoided
Anything worth doing upsets someone.
Some things you can do like
100% no questions, money back guarantee
quick turn arounds on refunds
Manage your expectations, can’t make everyone happy
it is hard
DEALING with haters
Look for constructive criticism — got to block out the curses and anger and read the real issue
Write a first draft, delete it – get it off your chest, then release it.
put yourself in the hater’s shoes – everyone is human, humans overreact, have bad days
Reply professionally – look past hate and address issue
working with hostage negotiaions several times a week
Deal with the stress
Use the buddy systemt o get some perspective.
Get a team or network and leverage your peers
Engage the Happy Customers

Speaker: Chris Hooley
Title: Humanity in the Streets
Just who is Chris Hooley,
He tells us
rap SEO got him rich
White guy adopted, lot of privilege
Why he is here, –
Despite all success and love
Still has depression.
Life is not about finding yourself, it is about CREATING yourself.
Gotta believe and be kind

Speaker: Lawdan Shojaee
Title: Creating and Riding the Wave
Saw a need
found an icon
Went ‘viral’ what does that mean
pushing forward no matter what
political/business arn’t supposed to mix
some clients wanted to avoid them as an entity due to politics
Sweden wanted to blast it as a national symbol
Keep riding wave, but took a lot of resources from core business
had to make a call on keep pushing forward. important.
Workshop opportunity for AmEx
Learned a lot, expanded skills
Easier to promote the idea as more known
Challenges: When do it in the company any backlash goes to team, hurdle is how much exposure for scrutiny,
Make optional to not want to, no need to justify if not want to.
Offense comes from culture, we will change culture but we need to talk about it.

Speaker:Andrew Norcross –
Title: Just Keep Showing Up
Sam Ramis story
Terrible, good, then obscure
You got to keep at it
not going to be an overnight success
will stumble along the way
keep going and believe

Speaker:Carl Hancock –

Speaker: JR Farr –
Title: 10 Years of WordPress: Reflection, Battle Scars and Wins
Crazy at beginning to think about trying something like this.
Idea was to take market and spread all over vendors
chasing carrots
Moment of reflection, is it all worth it?
important to share battle scars
stop doubting and stop doing what is failing, let’s build something bigger together
think of world we are creating in the future!


Speaker:Sean Tierney –
Title: Closing deals from 43 cities in 14 countries across 4 continents
(Pagely way to distributed work)
Closing deals from the street, lagoons, bowling alley
why not!
maybe see more of this digital nomad in future
Tools and tacticts you can really only learn doing it:
Redundancy Power and Internet and Machine and Everything!
think about points of failure
Infosec VPN everywhere
2 game changers
he was the only sales guy so did everyhting but in order to get first new perosn, needed scalable method
Pagely answering questions and
Living on road patience and tolerance
People come and go like seasons and you don’t always know why
Not everyone is kind but seed of tolerance is that understand how they grew up and empathizing
Advice to remote work, do it, life changing

Speaker: Kings Corners featuring Chris Lema
Topic: Marketing
Full transcript (as fast as I could write) here:

Day 2:

Speaker: Josh Streble
Title: History of Pressnomics Opening remarks
What if we take the hallway track and just make that a conference? That is Pressnomics!

Speaker: Syed Balkhi –
Title: Ecommerce Growth Hacks
Got to use tools to reduce churn
Make up a holiday! fun with physical properties
Upsales, targeted upsales,
Unlock bonus features
returning customer discounts
Only offer some things to pro route
Volume is the only reason to do joint venture deals, has to make sense, scale does

Speaker: Joshua Eichorn –
Title: Working together; a guide for plugin developers from a friendly host
Plugin dev goes host hopping
Jump from host to host and always slow
When go into admin paes take up to 5 seconds, super slow!
plugin not tested at scale
Plugins using SVN
Gihub is what the whole industry uses,
Start releasing on Github, tools can help you push out through SVN for WP
think through assumptions
SIte on Pagely, get on front of Reddit
last week site went down
Oscar had to figure out what changed
they added a plugin
cookie sets and that breaks cache
Everyone makes mistakes, take responsibility
every customer is a contract
if just spare time, that is OK if you let them know that is what it is
but if sell it as professional, have to match responsibility

Speaker: Maura Teal –
Title: My Journey to become a Developer
Started with equestrianism
Horses scar easy
got to learn as you go
all different weird fears
she is thinking of users are riders
can’t make riders do what you want
have alot of outreach and all the things posts
Intertwined her
Can teach horses to belive in you
hard to understand sometimes you can do the same with people
teach to trust
Need to keep improving everyday

Speaker: Jeannette Maré –
Title: Nice vs. Kind
Kindness kept her going when lost her son
she learned that kindness is super critical
Niceness is superficial
maybe even detrimental
Kind – of a good or benevolent nature
This is overall greater good
Niceness is not always the greater good, many times quick solution
Nice definition – pleasing, agreeable, delightful
world id messier than that
Takes work and self awareness
Knowing what is going on in own brain
Empathy vs compassion — emotional empathy vs Cognitive Empathy

Speaker: James Giroux –
Title: Pursuing Your True North
What makes Envato, Envato
True north is who they really are
These are the core true things that they do as a company
More customers
The right content
Iron sharpens iron
Creative leadership can come from best content living in Envato
Create space where creatives feel at home
meant some dramatic changes in products
Support is super important, understand people
Effective platform helps people do what they love
Future? Pretty amazing more creatives doing more of what they love
“Wiggle room creates chaos”

Speaker: Neill Feather –
Title: The Key to Successful B2C Relationships
Sitelock customers feeedback drives their business
Maleware, they deal with a lot of hit
We all know there is a lot
are people really doing all the many many things?
Software remains out of date
Human errors are a huge problem, 25% of data breaches are caused by human error

Speaker:Karim Marucchi –
Title All my mistakes, and then some
300% growth for crowd favorite
Crowd Favorite – Velo media merger
Lessons learned along the way

(We were asked not to report on the candid conversation on social, very valuable though to be there)


There were 8, lumping all pics into these two tweets:

Speaker: April Holle
Title:Six P’s before Profit
Purpose – affects everything, precious time, must drive you
Passion – fuel that drives you on your journey
People – the people impacted by your work, external and internal why do we care?
Problems – internal and external
Product – the thing you do, what you are producing
Play – impactful, adults forget how to

Speaker: Scott DeLuzio
Title: “Bite-Sized” Challenges
challenged himself to 50K situps and pushups
breaking down large goals to tiny steps to reach goals
story of finishing breaking down the byte sized challenge
Daily accomplishments, sense of doing something successful every day is good

Speaker: Karthikraj Magapu
Title: Visualize future success
We have all heard about visualization
almost cliché
See yourself clearly achieving your success
Touch and feel your success!
Write your goals down
talk to yourself everyday
be grateful, etc….
Does it work? Is that it?
NO! Why not?
visualization relaxes you and sets you back with urge to do hard work to acheive
Visualize getting over individual obstacles
Review yourself, belive in yourself, self acceptance
action plan
why does it work?
Your subconscious mind rules your life
Gatekeeper to the Subconscious
API to your brain
Reticular activation system!
everyday process 35 GB everyday
1TB every month
Use brain API to program your success!

Speaker: Chris Wallace
Title: Recovering workaholic
Workaholism – scary to him
almost ruined him
1-Own our won time, don’t let others set your schedule
protect your time
2 – Don’t trade $ for promises. Not worth it
3 – more work does not equal more success.
4- Protect your mental and physical health, don’t ignore warning signs,
if putting ‘the future’ over your health now, you will regret it
5 -replace bad habits with good ones
turning point, throwing his back out reaching for remote
that was moment realized had to get better

Speaker: Aaron Jorbin
Title: Divorcing yourself from your ideas
every contribution matters
wear reverts as badges of honor for trying
he had record for fastest commit to revert
Divorce your ideas from you
ideas not tied to single person,
share ideas early with your team
feedback needs to be actionable and true to be great
especially Design

Speaker: Seth Carstens –
Title: Only Hire Owners
only work with people
Pets obey, owners innovate
cow path theory
Once cow finds water, that is always the path,
pave the cow path or don’t higher cows
Be a leader not a boss
“TPS reports___” don’t invite this culture!
treat people like people
Character, Culture and Capability (this is the order, it is important)

Speaker: Kyle Maurer
Title: Strategic Product Iterations
Prioritization with a product team is ridiculous and impossible
Deciding on what to do next is hard ….
typically master to do list
ship and look at next item on list, what makes biggest impoact
Common strategies for prioritizing featues
Gut feeling – flawed due to unique perspectives skewing view
Chronological- FIFO, Flawed does not take into account emergency or tech changes
Poll/Surveys – flawed: customers normally don’t have same imagination you have and price concious driven
Score based model, numerical score: flawed: tedious and complex and does not work everyone
Fight! – hurt feeling and sometimes we all lose
But what is voice of the business?
step out of the weeds and look at what the business needs most
4 concepts of how to do this
1)All projects need these 5 things: Validation Users Revenue Savings Retention in some order
Which does your business needs most.
then ready to look at issues and tasks
2) Flaw Tolerance Scale
Tolerant to sensitive, reality of how flawed a produc are you willing to live with?
feature completeness, integrate with all browsers, etc
3) it’s not jus the code
docs, sales, blogs, vids, inline docs, upsells, tooltips, social media, FAQ, testimonials, analytics, advertisements
ID big need, consider stage of business, reflect on flaw tolerance remember there is more than code
listen to Get Opinions Podcast 🙂

Speaker: Scott Bolinger
Title: What I learned from YOU
Be good people
learning from goog people
Pippin all start team!
Being first to market like Pagely was not always good thing
First mover advantage does not always or really exist.  Persistance is key


Normally I don’t do a write up about schwag but the thank you gifts but the PressNomics schwag was pretty amazing. We got some fantastic quality all natural and locally produced lip balm, a must for the parching conditions of the desert. We also got some fantastic seasoning that is at once simple and subtly balanced. There were of course t-shirts and hoodies from the sponsors, but the biggest surprise gift was a transparent lock and lock pick set. It was the first time I had gotten any schwag that made me consider local laws about such things and worry about transporting it back in my carry-on luggage. Very fortunately Pagely was quite generous and offered to ship all of our pick sets back to us via USPS at no charge for us. The only item that stole any thunder from this unexpected and unusual gift was a full set of Cards against Humanity type cards featuring WP dev terminology called, of course, Cards Against WordPress. I really look forward to playing this with my team.

The Charging Stations
One of the little things that made this event really nice to attend was the registration table’s ‘coat check’ like charging station. You got a claim check by way of a playing card and could leave your phone or laptop in their care. This was critical because most seats in the convention area could reach power.

Wrapping up

And that was that! 3 extremely full evenings that resulted in amazing connections and unforgettable ‘you-had-to-be-there’ experiences. I know I will for sure be doing this event next year.

Finally, on a personal note: I am going to be completely honest here, I am pretty road weary as I write this, with miles to go before I sleep. I am in love with this life and can’t imagine not being part of this community to the extent that I am currently, but I am going to be glad for a few days at home.

Stay grateful and kind my friends!


2 thoughts on “PressNomics: Fun in the sun and heat of Tempe, AZ”

  1. Glad you got to attend and enjoyed yourself. It’s a Small word re: Torch Theater. Jose is a long time friend of mine.. Love what they do. If you have some time, google “unicorn diggnation” Myself and the guys at Torche may or may not have had something to with that..

    Thank you for the write up. Cheers!
    – strebel

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