Advanced Topics In Businessing at WordCamp Miami 2018

I’m giving a talk at WordCamp Miami 2018 this weekend called “Advanced Topics In Businessing.”

It’s a cheeky name because it originally started out as a joke.

Last year, at the inaugural WordCamp DC (which, by the way, was an excellent event and you should try to make this year if you are in the area), I attended Andrew Nacin’s talk Advanced Topics In WordPress. I sat with technology educator Zac Gordon and after Andrew’s talk, Zac asked me what I thought of him doing an “Advanced Topics In JavaScript” talk. I liked it.

Then he says, “what if you did Advanced Topics In Businessing”? I laughed and told him that was silly.

But then, he told me that he was going to buy so that I couldn’t have it. I’m a competitive person and I love a silly challenge, so $6 later, I owned

I first met Zac at WordCamp Miami 2017, so to continue the joke, I submitted “Advanced Topics In Businessing” as a talk abstract. Lo and behold, the organizers loved it, they spun an entire Micro MBA track, and now here we are.

The lesson: never take yourself too seriously.

I’m actually really excited to give this talk. In both Andrew’s and Zac’s versions of this talk, they talked on advanced topics that they thought people should know, in no particular order, about their areas of expertise. Over the last 3 years, I’ve certainly developed an opinion on which parts of my formal business education have come in the most useful (I graduated from Florida State University’s MBA program in 2015 which, by the way, is spinning up the country’s largest public entrepreneurship school this year).

I’m told fairly frequently that it’s pretty uncommon to meet entrepreneurs with business backgrounds in my industry. Most technology entrepreneurs are people with great eyes for design or minds for development who put cool things together, and figure out how to sell it later.

This is at the core of mine and Josh’s partnership at Caldera Labs. We have complimentary skills. When Zac was joking around about “businessing,” it wasn’t all jokes. As a professional educator, he is an expert in pedagogy, but not in strategic management.

It’s funny, because when I look at my talk slides for this weekend, and the list below, I think these concepts are pretty elementary. The other lesson in that: always realize that what is easy to your area of concentration, is advanced to someone else with a different area of concentration. We all have expertise to share – so share it!

The Topics

If you find yourself here after (or during) the talk, welcome! I hope you find this content useful. Below is the list of my 5 key things I think a WordPress professional should know about from a traditional business education curriculum in moving forward with starting, running and growing a business in this space.

If you find yourself here before the talk, catch the talk on Sunday morning at 9AM in Miami or on the livestream.

To get a copy of my slides, find them here.

#1 – Long term competitive advantage


A competitive advantage is an advantage over competitors gained by offering consumers greater value, either by means of lower prices or by providing greater benefits and service that justifies higher prices. Understanding the concept of long term competitive advantage is essential to answering the essential business question: why should anyone buy your product? See this link for more information.

#2 – Porter’s Value Chain

Porter's value chain diagram
Porter’s Value Chain from

After understanding competitive advantage, get a grip of Porter’s Value Chain. This diagram outlines all of the moving parts of a business, and separates them into two: the activities you do to make money, and the activities you do the make your business run. Figuring out where in your value chain your competitive advantage exists is essential to the next part of running a business: figuring out which parts you should do, and which parts you should outsource ASAP.

It’s also valuable to get an understanding of who Michael E. Porter is. This guy literally wrote every leading book about strategic management, and even as business changes his quickly, his concepts seem to continue standing the test of time.

Business is changing quickly, though. Certainly for those of us selling online, Porter’s Value Chain can start to feel especially clunky when procurement, inbounding logistics, operations, and outbound logistics all seem to be the same thing. For this reason, I recommend you also familiarize yourself with the Business Model Canvas. This other business diagramming tool is more apt for mapping out non-material businesses, and can still serve as a chart by which to understand what you’re doing, and what you should outsource.


#3 – Order winners vs. order qualifiers

Once you define out what you think makes you special and how it fits into the big picture of your business, let’s figure out whether you’re right. This is the concept of where order winners vs. order qualifiers comes in. An order qualifier is an aspect of your business that must be acceptable or better for a consumer to consider buying from you. An order winner is an aspect of your business that is why a person chooses you over another acceptable alternative. Observe the big brands in your life: what is the order winner? What is the order qualifier(s)? Now think about yourself. If you’re selling on Etsy, people aren’t buying from you because you have cute, handmade originals. That’s an order qualifier. They’re buying from you because you have an order winner – something that differentiates you from the crowd.

#4 The Marketing Mix

This hideous image is from

Most of us in WordPress will eventually default to a differentiation strategy, where our order winner is our marketing and personnel. For this reason, you should really understand how marketing works. At the core is understanding the concept of the “marketing mix” – this is the idea that marketing comprises of product (how’s the thing you sell packaged? Does it incite excitement?), placement (where do you sell it?), promotion (where and how do you advertise?) and price.

I’ve seen a lot of WordPress professional overlook this concept and use the word marketing when they’re actually talking about digital advertising. A marketing strategy is not an overview of what you’re going to post to your social profiles and blogs. Marketing strategy is about how you present the product to your customers, where you take payments, and more. Understand the marketing mix and answer all of the questions that arise from it, and you will have fleshed out a solid strategy for promoting your product.

#5 Price elasticity of demand


When I did a business panel in Montreal last summer, it seemed everyone wanted to know one thing: what should I price my products at?

The answer: I don’t know, it depends on your product. Sorry.

But what about your product? Well, I believe your pricing research should start with an understanding the idea of price elasticity and doing an assessment of how elastic or inelastic your product is. This will allow you to make a hypothesis as to whether you should price high or low. From there, run experiments. Familiarize yourself with this framework of decision-making here.

#6 BONUS: Covey’s Time Management Matrix


Not exactly a business chart, but the first thing I discovered when I started running my own business was “oh my god, this is really hard, and I have too much to do.”

One of my professors taught me about this matrix, and as simple as it seems, it began to restructure how I thought about my workload.

The key takeaway: do the things that further your goals before you do the things that call your attention. Oftentimes, things resolve themselves when they don’t matter. Learn about Covey’s Time Management Matrix here.

Finishing Slide: The Conjoined Triangles of Success

I couldn’t help but notice that my presentation bore a striking resemblance to this clever scene from HBO’s Silicon Valley. I couldn’t not include it. Never take ourselves too seriously, right?

Check out the full talk at WordCamp Miami 2018, Sunday at 9AM.

That’s All, Folks

I once said that I’ve only found about 30% of my MBA useful in the context of entrepreneurship. However, a businessperson I admire, Andrew Norcross (Founder of Reaktiv Studios), had a good retort to that: so far. There’s my so far summary above. If you have other concepts you think will end up coming in useful, drop them in the comments.

Here’s Why I’m Not OK With Your Praise of Last Night’s SOTU Address

State of the Union 2011, from Wikipedia Commons

This blog post was originally a tweetstorm, found here.

As a woman, an American immigrant, a mixed race Latina, and a newly minted American, allow me to explain to you why I’m going to react poorly when you talk to me about how inspirational the President’s speech was last night.

Among the special invitees sat a family whose child was murdered by members of a terrifying Latin American gang, and a Homeland Security agent.

The honored guests at SOTU, while I’m sure all lovely people, were specifically picked to illicit a single response from you: an unshakeable feeling of “us vs. them”

My entire life, due to all those “labels” I outlined in the first tweet, I have deeply and painfully craved a world in which I was seen as a human, and not as an “other.”

“Othering” is the crux of what is so deeply painful to me about a Trump presidency. I’m not screaming bloody murder about half-true perceived constitutional violations or alternative facts. I am screaming because this political moment’s success is based on taking us away from the unified world I’ve desperately craved my entire life. The #SOTU looked like a “celebration of othering we can all agree with.”

I am frustrated with all sides of the political discussion in the United States. Because whether you’re talking about Russia collusion or Making America Great Again, you’re telling me you’re buying into the idea that some humans are more evil, and less worthy, than others. That’s shit.

But most importantly, your tacit approval of othering terrifies me. Because I know that the definitions of the ingroup and the outgroup are loose, and that one day I can belong, and the next day I could not.

I thought I found a unified world when I bought into the American Dream, when I moved to New York City, when I found the open-source community, etc etc etc etc, and then Donald Trump became President by selling the exact opposite.

Donald Trump’s political success is, by his own doing, contingent on convincing you that certain people are dangerous to you and therefore less human, and to eliminate them, certain other people – people like me – are acceptable casualties for the greater good.

So forgive me if I struggle to respond with calmness, rationality, and openness about how you were “pleasantly surprised” by the SOTU. Because nothing about it was pleasant or surprising to me. It was more of the same “us vs. them.”

What I hear is that your dislike of crime, your disdain for misinformation, your (insert other concerns here) supersedes your desire for a world in which we move past socially constructed differences and borders. I’m hearing “means to an end” arguments for temporarily suspending the one thing I have found to be nonnegotiable in a world of subjective opinion: to do unto others as we would want done unto us.

I was 14 the first time that somebody told me that I’m hard to talk to, and that it’s just easier to stay away from political discussions with me. I was completely heartbroken. I thought there was something wrong with me. I have spent so much energy apologizing, and acquiescing, for that.

I’ve learned that avoidance is a powerful self-defense mechanism – there’s few things more painful than the suggestion that you’ve behaved like a bad person. For so long, I’ve decided pushing further wasn’t worth it.

But I just can’t continue apologizing for making people uncomfortable with the most important thing in the world to me.

Feel free to discuss in the comments or in the original tweetstorm

This 2018, Social Media Will Change The World

Now that Christmas is over, I’m using the space between Christmas and New Year’s Day to come up with, and share, my New Year’s resolutions.*

Yesterday’s resolution was to make more music in 2018. I had a couple of instances this past year where I reconnected the music I used to create, and I really loved that feeling. I’m hoping to bring more of it back into my life.

My next resolution is to be bolder on social media.

This is probably borderline ridiculous to my friends and family. I’m already pretty bold on social media.

However, I think I quieted down in 2017. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first one was very practical: my naturalization application last year. I’m not silly enough to believe that social media isn’t part of the review, and while the United States does protect free speech, I doubt that loud, professional anti-government digital content published by the applicant would help. However, now that’s over.

The others were more emotional. For example, backlash from internet trolls. I would include screenshots from some of the messages I’ve gotten throughout the years, but I don’t want to go searching for them because they make me uncomfortable.

There’s also discomfort from family and friends. It’s easy to learn a lot about me via a quick Google search, this worries my mother a lot.

But the biggest thing was criticism from the people I love.

“You will never change someone’s mind over social media.”

Stop getting into internet fights, they said. You’re convinced they’re right, and they’re convinced they’re right, and nothing will ever change.

In 2018, I’m challenging that.

Can An Internet Argument Be Won?

Are internet arguments a waste of time? Maybe. Let’s ask a different question.

How much of a dense, unthinking person does one have to be to have free and unlimited access to all of their friends’ opinions, thoughts and emotions, presented in a completely non-threatening way (on the internet, you don’t have to respond immediately!), and not even, for one second, respond to it?

I just can’t imagine that our opinion of each other is so low that we think that being exposed to our friends’ and loved ones’ pains and struggles will have no effect on how we think.

Honest conversation among friends isn't just a little way to boost social change, it's the only thing that has ever produced it. Click To Tweet Proponents of “you can’t change anyone’s mind over social media” will tell you to engage in more fruitful pursuits, like political activism and donating to charity. I’m not saying that those things aren’t important, but I am saying that we know that massive social change always follows cultural change.

Maybe our reluctance to admit that social media could be the catalyst for massive social change comes from a reluctance to admit we changed. We like to think we are right, and we especially hate admitting we were wrong. Add to that the special stigma about being wrong on cultural viewpoints, and it’s easier to not change. Those who do change keep quiet about it. So, we think social media activism doesn’t work.

Change The World By Learning To Admit You’re Wrong

Can I start this trend? Let me tell you all the awful things social media worked out of my system.

My friends, over social media, slowly educated me to my own blindness about LGBT issues. While I’ve been described as “winning the underprivileged lottery,” (which is ridiculous on its own, but that’s out of scope for this blog post) I was privileged enough to be born a heterosexual, cisgender female. That means that I was ignorant to many of the struggles facing the LGBT community and I was hurtful without knowing.

It was my friends over social media, sharing content they loved, that shed light on my own transphobia, and my own lack of understanding of asexuality. And no, I never reached out to the people whose posts made me see that “being cool with gay people” wasn’t enough. But I looked at the content they shared, I absorbed it, I learned, and I adjusted.

I’m also going to admit that looking at my friends’ social media posts brought to light my own anti-blackness. Anti-blackness in Latin American and Asian communities is well-known, but I, like many others, engaged in “but I’m not deliberately hostile, so I’m not racist” behavior. This is wrong. I learned this via silent reading of my Facebook and Twitter feeds.

I felt sad because it was brought to my attention that I was actually pretty racist. But instead of resisting, I decided to be an adult, deal with those feelings, and adjust my behavior.

The biggest slacktivists in the world are the people who use the word slacktivism. Oh, you even have a word for how hard you refuse to be better? Congratulations! Click To Tweet

I became more compassionate through social media. If that happened several million more times, we would live in a different world.

Social Media Activism Is Real

As someone who uses social media for business, I would suggest that we’re letting our own human senses of pride and righteousness get in the way of admitting that social media activism is real, and even makes more sense than traditional activism in 2018.

Organizing via social media has the same benefits that we tout of social media advertising in the business world: it’s cheap per customer. It reaches wide audiences. And it contains a trust factor that traditional advertising (your so-called “real activism” of political organizations and charities) do not, because the content comes from friends.

There is no difference. The only difference is our resistance to it.

This is an ongoing trend in our quickly changing age of technology, by the way. It’s part of a broader, collective gasp at the advancements of technology. We say “overreach!” and “this is making us dumber!” but what we actually fear is change.

A person’s biggest fear is to become irrelevant. We’re afraid of artificial intelligence because if it’s smarter than us, we will become irrelevant. We’re afraid of social media activism because if our society’s values change, the structures we’ve built upon them will become irrelevant.

But, the structures that currently exist are shit. So in 2018, I am done being afraid: let’s keep posting to social media, especially about issues you care about. It’s not pointless, people are listening, and you are making a difference. Persevere: social media will change the world.

*I don’t actually believe in New Year’s Resolutions, and neither should you.

Continue the trend: what are some embarrassing confessions of personal growth via social media that you have? Share in the comments, or tweet about it.

How has social media changed you? #SocialMedia2018 Click To Tweet


Could your company’s social media strategy use some improvement? I’ve been promoting causes and products via social media since Xanga. Reach out. Don’t even know what Xanga is? Even more reason to reach out.

Let’s Face It: You’re Against Net Neutrality Because You’re Too Stupid To Understand The Internet

It’s Thanksgiving evening 2017 and I’m idly browsing social media as the house that took me in this year winds down. Then, I see this:

I’m not going to link to it because I’ve done enough of giving clicks to fuckery. You can look it up if you’d like. But let’s just say, unfortunately, it wrapped me in. I was like,

which sucked, because I was having a really great, mostly unplugged day up until that point. But I couldn’t stay away because this article made something apparent to me that I hadn’t previously realized:

People are against net neutrality because they think the internet is a consumer good. 


This explained everything. I thought everyone had heard the “internet access is a fundamental human right like water and heat” argument, but that was wrong. Many people see the internet like they see their cable service: a source of entertainment, news, and occasionally education. I had never actually realized that the public utility concept was a fringe idea, and not a commonly accepted principle.

That had to be addressed.

Let’s Get This Straight

When it comes to net neutrality advocates, consumer choice is not the point because it is not the discussion.

Allow me to start with a story. I grew up in a household where a single mother of two brought in $18,000 one year. These are the kind of United States households that you hear about that make decisions like groceries vs. gas for the week. Naturally, a decision that came to the chopping block was internet access. “Well, we have cellphones, so perhaps we can do without internet for our computers” was a discussion that came about the year after I moved out.

I absolutely lost my shit.

I now find myself paying for my family’s cellphones and internet access. Let’s explore why.

Internet Is The Greatest Equalizer

A true net neutrality advocate sees the internet as a colossal equalizing force. It is a never-ending library and a publishing house of low barrier to entry. Net neutrality advocates do not see the internet like much of the world sees it – a tool for consumption of games, social media, etc. That’s what it primarily is presently, but we think that’s highly unlikely to be its function in 10 years. That’s what rattled me about the article that started this whole thing: it divided internet use into social media, video streaming, gaming, and email. Wait, what?

Hold on hold on hold on, screamed my brain. That’s not the benefit of the internet. The real benefit comes from someone browsing social media then hopping onto a website of high-quality journalism. They read a long-form article and learn a new word. They look up the word, and land on an online encyclopedia. They contribute to the encyclopedia and learn the name of an area of study previously unknown to them. They purchase a course online for that area of study. Then, they start a blog about it. Then… you get the idea. You have probably done this. And in a world where education is becoming more and more crucial, and more and more expensive, we need this effect more than ever.

Now let’s draw back to the story. My family’s situation was brought up to me because I have been loud about my conviction that internet access was a single, massively influencing factor in my ability to progress economically. I could never forget being 16, mom barely speaking English, and seeking the help I needed from the internet. Blogs helped me figure out how to apply for jobs, college, and more. YouTube taught me to do my makeup for interviews. Google searches taught me about safe sex. As much as I love public libraries, the hours and privacy required for this kind of information access is not available at a public library. I couldn’t let my brother attend high school in a household where internet access wasn’t a laptop-flip away, so I ended up with the bill.

But most low-income United States households don’t have a Christie. So, if the regulations that currently exist which prevent “tiered packages of internet service” from being available go away, lower income households will inevitably choose packages that limit the internet experience, which, unbeknownst to them, will effectively limit the amount of learning, exploration, and ultimately, economic opportunities available to that household. 

This is not a statement intended to insult the poor. The poor are not dumb, the poor are, just like everyone else, actors with incomplete information making decisions at the margin.

I recently spoke to a room of 40 New York City city officials and I told them a story from when I was 14. I launched my first website, carolspianolessons dot com, to promote piano lessons to neighborhood kids because we were poor and I wanted to make money. My mom’s reaction really amuses me, saddens me, and inspires a lot of my work today. She didn’t say “oh my god, you just made a lead generation website on your own?” No, she said, “honey, you’re never going to make a good living teaching music.”

My mother is not stupid. My mother is tough as nails. My mother makes rational purchasing decisions. She just didn’t know.

Net Neutrality Is Protecting A Morphing Information Age

So why do we care?

It starts with this: there’s this troubling pattern that already exists where low-income households are disproportionate consumers vs. creators of online content. We’re worried about this because it’s no secret that the ability to produce using technology is becoming more and more crucial to being employable, productive, etc. Naturally, kids with richer parents are encouraged to create simply because parents know about the value of creating digital content, while low income kids’ families do not.

This is why there’s, give or take, 300,000 nonprofits currently trying to teach kids coding.

Where does net neutrality come in? Simple: this “harsh regulation” ensures that when I volunteer with nonprofit #293 or whatever to teach young people coding that every single one of them will either have a computer with internet access at home, or they will have unrestricted internet access somewhere else. I will not have to explain to a parent why the internet they pay for is not the internet they need for this class. You’ll know, if you’ve ever been in a similar situation, that that conversation will quickly turn into “sorry, we don’t have the right things to let our kid take this class.”

It’s a much more economically approachable problem to have more expensive, consistent internet service, that we can figure out other more reasonable technological limitations to (ex. speeds), than the hurdles we’d have to jump over if these strict regulations were lifted. Because, to draw it back to the original point, the internet is currently erroneously being seen as a form of information consumption. It is not. In the long run, it will come to be understood as an ultimate equalizer of information, transaction (blockchain, anyone?), etc.

But we have to get it through this stage first, and we must protect it to do so. And we’ll never get there if we deliberately prevent a large percentage of people from using it and learning it as a creation tool, which is the only way in which this medium continues to progress.

Tl,dr; (a term brought to you by unrestricted internet access)

The benefit to society (plus the lowering of costs associated with an educated population, too) highly outweigh the costs of this regulation, and people who don’t understand this are, to put it bluntly, too technologically illiterate to think long-term about the technology they’re using everyday. 

Stop being illiterate.

Reconsidering your stance against net neutrality due to this post? Dope, it’d be cool if you left a comment. It’s nice to know one isn’t screaming into the void sometimes.

Take a sec to call your reps using this handy guide

And oh, yes, all subscriptions on are 20% off for Black Friday. Unlike internet access, those are goods to be consumed. 

Non-Cryptocurrency Applications Of Blockchain

My interest in blockchain has been skyrocketing right alongside everyone else’s, with the extra caveat that I’ve been interested in “stick it to the man” financial technologies since 2013 (does anyone 19-year-old me’s project, FinBot, anymore?).

FinTech was totally the reason I gave up the idea of being an economist. In this world, there are those who explain, those who speculate, and those who execute. I respect that we need explainers (academics) and speculators (investors), but I wanted to execute.

I find myself working the pure web development industry now, but my fascination with this topic has not quelled even slightly. That’s why I consider myself pretty lucky to have a business partner who shares my enthusiasm for this field in Josh.

Josh put out a fantastic guest post on Torque Magazine that outlines the ways blockchain will seep into our work as WordPress developers (read: beyond crypto) and our overall daily lives. I hate to just be a little echo box for Josh’s ideas, but in this instance he’s totally hitting the nail on the head, I’m equally excited as he is, and I have nothing else to add. So, you should check out his post.

I would, however, like to keep a list like the “Cool Applications of Blockchain Technology” section of his post and begin adding to it. It’s below, and right now it’s just a regurgitation of Josh’s post. I’ll be adding to it as I go. Of course, if you’d like me to add something to it to begin updating and adding to this list, let me know in the comments and I’ll put it up.

Non-Cryptocurrency Applications of Blockchain

  1. Accept cryptocurrency for online payments. Duh.
  2. Identity Management & Verification. We can encrypt personal information in the blockchain and then let users selectively share that data. This can be used to login to apps, verify identity or securely share personal information with employers or service providers as needed. ShoCard is an example of this.
  3. Content MonetizationRecently, Medium announced that they were adding a “Clap” button to articles. A clap is similar to a “like” but also is a part of the algorithm for paying content creators. Then, they could pay their creators by something like splitting a pool of money amongst content creators based on an algorithm that takes into account page views, likes and other engagement factors. The potential to remove selling ads, totally or partially, form content monetization is exciting. But it would require a new input of money or other valuable data. Potentially, speculation in the tokens that back this service provides that.
  4. Secure File StorageDecentralized cloud-storage is a rapidly emerging technology. Services like Storj and FileCoinallow users to sell unused space in their network for tokens that can be exchanged for storage or other currencies — bitcoins, eros, etc. In addition, you can buy their tokens in exchange for use of the file network.

P.S. I’m working on an in-depth blockchain & cryptocurrency post for January 2018 titled “I Was Asked To Explain Bitcoin From The Perspective Of Not A White Dude.” Have any questions or anything you would like for me to include? Let me know in the comments of this post, or reach out privately via my speaking form