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Someone I Admire: Day 2 Hubspot Blog Fitness Challenge

Someone I Admire: Day 2 Hubspot Blog Fitness Challenge

Image of Nassim TalebA Changed Man

There are many ways we are influenced in life and in business. It has been my experience that the most profound changes have been inspired by people I have known only through published work (books, interviews, etc).  Individuals who caused me to question my assumptions and reevaluate my beliefs thereby allowing me to arrive at new understandings, be aware of my biases, and continue the process of refinement. The list is long, but in this post I’d like to focus on someone who was (and still is) key in shaping my thinking. He is Nassim Taleb, the author of 5 books, a philosopher, professor, a statistician, a former options trader, adviser to the International Monetary Fund, and an outspoken critic of the financial industry.

Like many people, I was first introduced to Taleb through his book, “The Black Swan” in 2007 (although unlike some of his critics, I actually read the book). There was one phrase in particular that created a paradigm shift in my thinking: “absence of evidence, is not evidence of absence.” In other words, just because you can’t see something (or quantify it), that does not mean it doesn’t exist. It’s been over 6 years since first reading those words, and I still feel the weight of their implication.

Blissfully Ignorant No More

His books (The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness) opened my mind to the asymmetry of the risk return relationship in my business (investing) and life. Phrases within the financial industry became absurdities, and I soon developed a skepticism of commonly espoused strategies and instruction. It was this skepticism that led me into other bodies of knowledge and research that touched my life. Economics, politics, asset allocation, agriculture, the environment, parenting, the principles were consistently applicable, resulting in errors due to a lack of intellectual honesty. If you can’t accept or even consider that you might be wrong, you won’t look for alternatives.

His latest book, “Antifragile: Things that Gain From Disorder” is among the most insightful and directly applicable books I’ve read. The opposite of fragile is not robust…to survive is not enough. The opposite of fragile is antifragile. To benefit from adversity, volatility, and the like. As a parent, I can use an antifragile philosophy to prepare my children for adulthood, in business I can use it to turn a previous weakness into strength and benefit from tribulations.

NNT talks to the Stanford ETL Class

Nassim Taleb is someone I admire for his insight, commitment to excellence, and his ability to remain true to himself and his beliefs in spite of enormous financial success. Lately, he has also assumed the mantle of exposing charlatans and calling a spade a spade. It’s one thing to point out fallacies…quite another to name names. He sums it up nicely with his first ethical rule:

If you see fraud and do not say fraud, you are a fraud.

He follows it up with a promise:

If I call someone a dangerous ethically challenged fragilista in private after the third glass of Lebanese wine (white), I will be obligated to do so here.

Taleb is an interesting combination of a brilliant mind with a well read education and a practitioner who is acting on his philosophy.  I’m thankful for his insights and inspiration.

How About You?

Who do you admire?

What books have inspired you?

Update Your WordPress Website

Update Your WordPress Website

Secure WordPress WebsiteAn out of date version of WordPress is one of the primary ways malicious hackers gain access to websites.  Updating your site to the latest release is essential, but depending on how your website was built, upgrading to a newer version can come with it’s own set of risks.

Custom WordPress Themes Are a Bad Idea

Custom WordPress Themes Are a Bad Idea

Custom WordPress Themes Are a Bad Idea…

WordPress Websites For Business by Workshed

Just because you can do something, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. There are many things in life we can make from scratch, but don’t simply because it’s not necessary or practical. For example, if I wanted to bake a loaf of bread, I could plant wheat, harvest it a few months later, thresh it, mill it, and mix it with the other ingredients I had to grow.  Or, I could just buy freshly milled flour and other quality ingredients from a reputable company and get 99% of the benefit for a fraction of the cost.  The same is true of building websites.  Sure, we could code every line of HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and php from scratch, but do we really need to?  At Workshed, we think not.

It’s been our experience that custom themes for WordPress are expensive…at best.  Most of the time they end up being problematic maintenance nightmares,  wasting time and money for the duration of their existence.  This is not to say that websites should be templates or even that customization isn’t worthwhile, just that it’s what and where you spend your time customizing that matters most.

We prefer to start with a premium framework like Genesis or Thesis and customize from there.  Doing this allows us to focus our customization time on things like SEO, content, images and graphics (we are not fans of stock photos), as well as layout and functionality.  All of the security, maintenance, and updating is expertly handled by the teams of developers at the theme framework companies; software engineers that focus exclusively on writing excellent code.  This delegation of the core functionality means we can focus on the stuff that leads to more sales; things like creating content that makes your phone ring with new orders.

A full custom, built from scratch website is fine too, just know it’ll come with a few idiosyncrasies…kind of like owning a vintage British sportscar.

Contact us if you want to discuss how we use websites, social media, and our business perspective to grow your business.

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Marketing and Business Goals: A Love Story

Marketing and Business Goals: A Love Story

I heart WorkshedIs your marketing working?  Is it bringing in the right customers and helping you achieve your business goals?

If not, why?

From what we’ve seen, many small business people are too busy running their businesses to spend time defining their goals.  They come to us and ask for a new a website and help with social media.  Then hope this new website and some facebook posts will magically bring in more customers and all will be well.

We think there’s more to it than that.

Yes, we can build a great looking website.  We can optimize it for search engines and help get your social media infrastructure in place.  But none of it will matter much if it isn’t helping you achieve your real business goals.

This is where Workshed is a little different.  We don’t just build websites for the sake of it.  A website and social media strategy is an outcome of knowing where you want to go.  Before we work with you, we get to know your business on a deep level.  Marketing is about communication and we can’t effectively communicate your message to the customer you want without knowing who you are, who they are and where you want to go.

How do we define the goals?

First we ask lots of questions.  We try not to take anything for granted.  We help our clients develop tangible, quantifiable goals.  Then we put it all down in writing along with a plan for achieving them.  Once we’re in agreement on the plan and the goals, we’re ready to start creating.

Measure, report, adjust.  Rinse and repeat.

With the infrastructure created  it’s time to execute.  Then we measure, report  and adjust.   We love data.  Digital marketing is awesome because you get incredible real time information.  This allows us to quickly assess the effectiveness of each component of our marketing and make necessary adjustments promptly.

By continually measuring, reporting and acting on the data you can hit your business goals.

Ready for your marketing to get together with your business goals?

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Update WordPress for the Last Time

Update WordPress for the Last Time

Workshed WordPress 3.7 LogoWordPress recently released version 3.7 affectionately dubbed “Basie” in honor of “Count Basie,” and with it come automatic updating!  Of course, this might be a nightmare for older sites with “custom” themes, but for most people it’s a helpful way to improve website security. (more…)