Help Preserve Sarasota’s Celery Fields

Sarasota’s Celery Fields are truly a local treasure—for nature lovers, bird watchers, fitness junkies, and outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. But they are being threatened with dangerous industrial development that could destroy the natural habitat for local wildlife, not to mention the peace and tranquility of the area that we’ve all come to know and love.

I plan to participate in the protest this Saturday to help spread the word about the proposed development projects that could destroy the Celery Fields. I hope you’ll join me as well.

Join me at WordCamp Miami 2017

Now that it’s been officially announced, I’m excited to invite you to join me for a discussion about “Getting Real Business Results from Your Content Marketing Efforts” at WordCamp Miami!

The event runs March 24-26 (Friday through Sunday) at Florida International University in Miami. The Miami gathering is one of the longest-running and most well-respected events in the WordCamp series, and it’s an honor to be invited to participate.

Last year, the weekend was outstanding, and my lovely wife, Jill, and I are truly looking forward to another spectacular time in South Florida!

Hawkins Road Festival 2017

My family & I are definitely looking forward to the first-ever Hawkins Road Festival on Saturday, February 18th!

This looks like a truly unique community celebration for Sarasota, featuring music, art, spirituality, and social awareness. Oh… and food trucks. And stuff for kids.

Should be fun!

KidsCamp at WordCamp Tampa 2016

Grace working on her blog at KidsCamp #WCTPA 2016

Earlier this week, I mentioned WordCamp to my amazing, talented, brilliant daughter, Grace. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that she seemed interested in going!

So… here we are at the beautiful Marshall Student Center on the USF campus with quite an assortment of WordPress enthusiasts. We opted to check out KidsCamp, and in less than an hour, Grace is already busily crafting her first ever blog post!

WordCamp Miami 2016: Day Two

WordCamp Miami 2016 - Day Two

My wonderful, gorgeous wife, Jill, and I arrived on campus at Florida International University for day 2 of WordCamp Miami 2016… just in time to enjoy another round of bagels & coffee from Einstein Brothers Bagels.

After the opening remarks, we got our dose of Cain & Obenland in the Morning, which was a riot.

A highlight of the “Morning Show” was when they brought in Mark Jaquith for an interview.

Their final segment on WordPress news was fun. Some of the tidbits they shared about what’s happening with WordPress Core were exciting, including the fact that we’ll soon be saying goodbye to the “Bleak Screen of Sadness™”

Jill and I stayed together for the first session of the morning, and we caught “Bootstrapping Your WordPress Business – Going from 0 to 10 Employees” with Scott Mann, who runs Highforge, an agency in Central Florida. Scott started with a compelling story about smoke jumper Wagner “Wag” Dodge and a famous firefighting incident at Mann Gulch which resulted in an on-the-spot innovation that continues to be used by firefighters today.

The point: when you’re bootstrapping your business, you’ll probably need to keep replacing your straps, because they’re going to get burned off!

Scott’s session ran the gamut from tools you can use as you bootstrap to finding and hiring the right talent and even when and how to raise your rates. Very practical. If you own a business and you’re bootstrapping and trying to grow, check out his slides or catch the replay if you can.

Next, Jill headed off to the “All Users” track, and I stuck around for “Product Marketing Tips for Commercial Plugins” with Chris Lema.  While he was specifically focused on developers who are selling premium WordPress plugins, his actual talk contained a ton of useful tactics for any business.

 

The Afternoon

The Business track that the organizers put together for today has turned out to be utterly fantastic.

A very pleasant surprise was the panel discussion which featured Brett Cohen, co-founder of emagine, Karim Marucchi, CEO of Crowd Favorite Andrew Norcross, founder of Reaktiv Studios, and Kimberly Lipari, COO, Valet.  The listed topic was, “How to Scale Your Business,” and the discussion was incredibly real and authentic. Most of all, it was really valuable.

 

WordCamp Miami 2016: Day One

WordCamp Miami 2016 - Day One

My amazing wife & business partner, @GracefulJill, and I arrived on campus at FIU today just in time to get a great parking spot and jump in the registration line.

Right away, the #WCMIA team showed that they had done a great job getting things organized—the registration line ran smoothly, and we got some great event swag.

After visiting some of the sponsors’ tables, we staked out a couple of seats for the opening remarks session

Welcome to WordCamp Miami 2016 - Opening Remarks

We planned to divide & conquer, but ended up both catching the session “How to Keep a Client Happy” by Christina Siegler on the Content & Design track.

After that session, I snuck over to the Development track to hear a couple of more technical sessions, and Jill stayed for more Content & Design goodness. She spoke very highly of the session with Michelle Schulp on “Becoming The Client Your Developer Loves”—so much so that I’m planning to catch the recording.

In “Writing Multilingual Plugins and Themes,” John Bloch didn’t shy away from tech issues, and he dug right into code samples while explaining the concepts around internationalization (“I18N” for short).

Then I caught Chris Wiegman, whom I’ve gotten somewhat acquainted with since he relocated to paradise Sarasota a little over a year ago. He’s known as an expert in WordPress security, and his “Application Security For WordPress Developers” was entertaining, informative, and thorough… not to mention somewhat over my head in spots.

On my way to the Development track, I bumped into Pam Blizzard, one of the organizers of the WordPress community in Sarasota.

Pam Blizzard, a valuable member of the Sarasota WordPress community
Pam Blizzard, a valuable member of the Sarasota WordPress community

I’ll try to come back and fill in more about our experience as time permits!

The Afternoon

There was an authentic, vulnerable talk on getting the most out of the WordPress community from Marc Gratch. He shared some very personal experiences (that I’m sure many of us can identify with) about working alone & working remotely, and how the amazing WordPress community can be a great support system.

His “give more than you get” approach was fantastic, and true to form, he gave a great of resources he’s built over time:

Resources Shared by Marc Gratch at WordCamp Miami 2016

Then a fast-paced session on building a 6-figure email list with Syed Balkhi, creator of Opt-In Monster, WPBeginner, and many other sites & tools.

Nile Flores did a thorough, informative session on Yoast SEO, but managed to cover quite a bit of “SEO basics” ground in the process. This session should be mandatory for site owners who are new to how Google’s search results work and need a nice overview.

Then I caught up with Jill and we got some great lessons from Dr. Anthony Miyazaki about what is an acceptable number of times to dip your chip into the guacamole. He showed how you have to plan ahead so that you have enough of your chip left to really maximize your dip.

BarCamp Sarasota 2011

**Update** The BarCamp Sarasota Fall 2011 event takes place October 15-16 at GWIZ. Epiphany Marketing is making presentations there as well. We hope to see you!

I’m writing this from inside an Entrepreneurial Roundtable session being facilitated by locally-based technologist Stan Schultes. The ideas being generated within this “open source” group of people are absolutely stellar. There are folks in the room who have been there, done it, and are looking for an opportunity to share back and forth.

This is just one example of the benefits of having an event like BarCamp Sarasota. This year’s event is being held this weekend at GWIZ, which turns out to be a perfect venue because of their various small rooms that seem ideally suited for sessions like those you’ll find at a BarCamp event. The sessions are on a wide variety of topics — both technology-focused and otherwise. Skimming through upcoming session for today, here are some of the topics on the menu:

  • “Leadership and Community Building, Why Now More than Ever?” with Sara Hand
  • “The Zen of Building Sustainable Technology” with Lorrie Vervoordt
  • “Programming Humans” with  Tracy Ingram
  • “Facebook Marketing & SEO” with Thao Tran

At 11am, we’ll be presenting…

David g. JohnsonMaking It All Pay: Growing Your Business with 21st Century Tools

Yes… technology is great! We love it… but without a comprehensive, written, measurable strategy in place, most every business will find themselves floundering in a sea of unfinished initiatives — nearly all of which have failed to produce any significant result from a business standpoint.

For example… how many businesses have websites, blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, etc. but can’t point to any new business that they have produced? Or (perhaps worse) know that some business has been produced, but the metrics aren’t in place to identify how much and from which initiatives.

So… we’ll be talking about the strategy piece of the equation… and lining up all the elements in a way that gets you the result you desire. For most businesses, this means new customers, bigger  market share and long-term profitability.

Hope you join us for our session… More reports from this year’s BarCamp event later!

Sarasota Private School Produces “Music Man” at the Sarasota Opera House

Sarasota Opera House
Sarasota Opera House

It’s widely accepted that Sarasota is a city of the arts. Dating back to the days of John Ringling, the arts are in our DNA. And since we have such a focus on the arts, it stands to reason that some spectacular opportunities exist for our children to be exposed to the stage from an early age.

Julie Rohr Academy’s recent production of “Music Man” is a perfect example.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a little biased. But as I often say when I talk about how gorgeous and talented my wife is, “Just because I’m biased, it doesn’t mean I’m wrong!”

Here’s why I’m biased: my daughter was in the show.

But here’s why I’m not wrong: my daughter (who is just wrapping up Pre-K) has had the most amazing experiences on stage this year in her time at Julie Rohr Academy. The school — the Sarasota private school with a performing arts focus — produces 4 shows each year. Each class is involved in each show in some way. And I’ll admit, most of the shows are parent-pleasers that feature the children singing, dancing, and otherwise enjoying themselves on stage for a production that you may not want to invite your friends and neighbors to… but the grandparents wouldn’t miss for the world!

“Music Man,” however, was quite the opposite.

In fact, aside from their diminutive stature, you’d have never guessed that not one of the kids in the show was yet out of the 8th grade. The school did cast a handful of adults in some parts — mostly as “extras” and members of the barbershop-style singing group. But all of the lead parts were played by the school’s students. And they were absolutely stellar.

Heading up the cast, and handling an enormous volume of lines, singing parts & stage time, were the young Bryce Vokus as Harold Hill and Kristina LePage in the role of Marian Paroo. Keep an eye out for the two of them — as well as many of the other young performers — they’ve got a future! Every last young man and lady in the production demonstrated a tremendous amount of poise and excellence in their work.

In addition to the excellent performances from the school’s students, the Center for Musical Theater at Julie Rohr Academy ponied up for a fantastic venue (the gorgeous Sarasota Opera House) and some amazing sets in order to produce this year’s big final show.

The school has a tradition of putting on one big show like this at the end of the year. And I’ll admit, never having previously had a child enrolled at the school… I would have been unlikely to attend one of them. But after what I witnessed this year, I’d go back any time for one of this school’s productions… regardless of whether I have a child of my own in the show or not.

Big kudos to Julie Rohr McHugh, the Center for Musical Theater at Julie Rohr Academy, and the family of teachers, faculty, staff, and parents for doing something that Sarasota can truly be proud of… and something the kids who were involved will never forget. It was no small undertaking.

Yes… I’m a proud papa. My daughter was (of course) the cutest 5-year-old who ever existed on stage in her period costume… bellowing out “76 Trombones” at the top of her lungs. But it brings tears to my eyes to think about all those kids who have learned so much from their experiences putting on shows like this one with Julie Rohr Academy. The school is truly an asset to our great city.

I have no idea what’s on tap for next year’s production. But I can’t wait!

Get Motivated Seminar Sarasota – New Location

Just in case you haven’t heard about this yet, I wanted to make you aware that the venue for the Get Motivated Seminar in Sarasota on May 14th, 2009 has been changed. Our previous post mentioned the originally-scheduled location (which was Robarts Arena on Fruitville Road.)

The event is now officially taking place at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Convention Center at 8005 15th Street East, Sarasota.

That location is on the east side of the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport on the road known as “Old 301.” Since it’s North of University Parkway, the site is technically in Manatee County.  And since I’m not connected in any official capacity with this event or with its promoters, I can tell you what they can’t: the building is the former location of Sam’s Club. For those of us who have been in the area for a little while, that can certainly help!

Here’s a map for you.

The official schedule says the event runs on Thursday, May 14th from 8:00am – 5:00pm. Doors open at 6:45am. I’m guessing that you’ll still be able to get in if you haven’t already purchased a ticket, but it may be worth a call to the Peter Lowe organization just to be certain: (800) 248-7640.

See you there!

Good Mental Food – Get Motivated Seminar Sarasota

**UPDATE** The Get Motivated Seminar in Sarasota on May 14th, 2009 has moved to a new location. The event will be held at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Convention Center. Details here.

World-famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar is coming to Sarasota on May 14th
World-famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar is coming to Sarasota on May 14th

No matter what your business or occupation, getting ahead and being successful requires a steady diet of good mental and emotional fuel. Having a great attitude — something so critical, especially in a tough economic environment — isn’t something most of us are going to be consistently good at without some outside input.

So… I’m looking forward to next week’s “Get Motivated” seminar. Formerly known as the Peter Lowe Success Seminar, this event has begun making the rounds to smaller venues in the last several years. And it’s great to see the whole crew coming to Robarts Arena the Sarasota-Bradenton International Convention Center in Sarasota on May 14th.

In particular, I’m excited to see one of our clients, Zig Ziglar. Zig will be focusing on “How To Stay Motivated,” which is one of his all-time most impactful messages. Since his head injury a couple of years ago, Zig’s short-term memory has been affected. So, expect him to be onstage with his daughter, Julie, for an interview-style presentation. This configuration has been extremely well-received by audiences all over the nation since they started doing it, and it should be the highlight of the day.

Also in the lineup:

  • Sarasota’s own Dick Vitale
  • Dr. Robert Schuller
  • Governor Rudy Giuliani
  • Dr. Earl Mindell,
  • and, Tamara Lowe (wife of Peter Lowe), who is speaking in support of her new book, Get Motivated, which she co-authored with Giuliani

Should be a great day. According to the literature that came in the mail, admission can be had for only $4.95 for an individual, or you can bring “the whole office” for $19. The registration number is (800) 248-7640. Tell ’em we sent you!

See you on Thursday, May 14th!