When Are You An Entrepreneur?

So, David Krug and I have been working hard to build up PressTitan and serve our clients well, but I don’t think of myself as an entrepreneur. I just like to do cool things that make my clients happy and pay my bills. I have been a fan of Gary Vaynerchuk for a very long time and really enjoy his passion and energy. I also think Elon Musk is changing the world with all of his companies and can’t believe the sacrifices he’s made to make it all happen.

My path has been so different than theirs. I don’t think of myself as a salesperson. I am not trying to build a billion-dollar business. I am not as confident in my business abilities as those I hold in reverence. I do know that what we have built at PressTitan is amazing for the right clients. We have a stable hosting platform for WordPress that loads sites fast. We know a ton about themes and plugins and can provide guidance and insights.

With the two of us working together, Krug has been focused much more on the client acquisition and care aspect of the business. He also does the primary handling of most income/invoices and expenses. That frees me up to focus on what I enjoy and am really great at such as technology and problem-solving.

I will say, like many entrepreneurs, I’ve had many false starts, failures, and missed opportunities, but after a year working on PressTitan, I think it is fair to say we’ve hit on a successful path forward. Providing that personal touch to growing an online WordPress powered business continues to be inspiring and amazing.

But I still don’t know if outsiders would consider me an entrepreneur. A quick Google search defines an entrepreneur as “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.” I didn’t have to take much in the way of financial risk because Krug already had a large client lined up for us to help. I don’t really operate the business alone, so am I half an entrepreneur?

Why does any of this matter? I think it helps focus my mindset. What am I doing here? What are my goals? Krug and I talk all the time about how we’d like to see the company grow and evolve, things we want to focus on, people we may want to hire, and clients we covet. I feel so humbled to be in a position where I’m able to ask these kinds of questions and have the opportunity to self-reflect.

I hope to continue to be able to provide huge value to our clients for a long time. Thank you to everyone that has taken a risk on PressTitan in its early days. I really appreciate your support! I feel so fortunate in so many ways.

Malcolm vs David

So, I have started using the name Malcolm as much as possible. I have wanted to make this change for a long time, and you can read a bit more about that on a blog post from over two years ago entitled Name Change Thoughts.

With the support of my wife and some recent examples from other people I know, I’ve decided to make the leap. I am not doing the government/legal change as of yet, but I am considering it.

I have never really felt all that attached to “David” as a name, but changing it always seemed hard because my name was part of my “employment brand” in startups, but thanks to working at growing PressTitan, I am not required to limit myself to my old name.

I am not going to be changing my last name, as that would be too much of a pain for myself and for my wife, but that’s a compromise I’m willing to make.

As for “why that name”? I really can’t tell you the exact reason why. It has been a name I’ve wanted ever since I was a young teenager. It brings to mind someone strong, intelligent and confident, traits I’d like to embody more.

So while I know it will take years for people to adjust, and many people might shake their heads at a thirty-five-year-old changing their name, I am much happier being Malcolm and I hope you’ll try to be understanding and supportive.

PressTitan

I haven’t talked much about it on my blog yet, but almost a year ago now, I co-founded a company with a friend of mine, David Krug. He has an even longer history with WordPress than I do, though just as diverse in terms of experiences. The company was started to bring better technology and optimization opportunities to WordPress powered websites making a profit with a goal of helping them make more profit.

PressTitan is part managed WordPress hosting and part WordPress service agency with a focus on site performance and proactive care.

Often, the first question I get is “how is PressTitan unique?” Well, unlike many other WordPress care companies, we also provide top-tier hosting services so we aren’t limited/restricted by the poor technology of some of the budget web hosts that exist. And unlike managed WordPress hosting, we provide full proactive site care. We don’t just update your plugins, but we provide consulting on why a certain plugin might not be optimal, we point out opportunities that exist to make your site even better, and we look for improvements that can be made and chase them down, even if that sometimes means dusting off my intermediate programming abilities.

We work exclusively with businesses that understand that good technology, while not cheap, can provide large business benefits. We’ve seen this time and time again as we’ve onboarded customers who then in subsequent months receive more traffic, better search rankings and a higher amount of conversions. For example, we have recently helped a WooCommerce site that was loading in eight to fifteen seconds per page load. We migrated them over to our platform, fixed their WooCommerce install, and then optimized the site so that it now loads in about one and a half seconds per page. Some of our sites load pages in around half a second and feel like pre-loaded applications on your computer or cell phone when you view them. That probably excites me more than it would most people…

The business is doing very well, and Krug and I have slowly worked towards unique roles while keeping a finger on what the other person is doing so that we aren’t caught unaware or unable to fill in for each other. We are the only two full-time staff members right now, but we are looking at growing our team. Every week, he and I discuss new technologies, new WordPress developments, plugins our clients might be interested in, opportunities for performance improvements, and much more. The calls are always invigorating and keep me super excited and passionate about what we are achieving here.

Growing a company is more difficult than I thought, but David Krug has been and continues to be a strong co-founder, making this whole process so much easier and something we can both balance with our family obligations. We realize PressTitan isn’t for everyone, and we’ve turned down some people that have wanted to sign up because the fit wasn’t there, but with slow and careful growth and a reasonable, though premium pricing, we feel we have a winning formula.

Fortnite Fails and Frustrations

So, I took this week off from streaming because I have decided to level-set as I continue to struggle with anxiety and being too hard on myself.

I have been streaming a ton of Fortnite, a game that triggers my anxiety. I was hopeful that if I played enough of it, my anxiety would go away or I’d figure out how to control it and be able to learn something about my anxiety and be able to reduce its effects on my day to day life. I also learned something about myself with regards to my hobbies and career. I enjoy the mastery and not the road to mastery. This means I want to be good at the things I spend my time on and not struggle endlessly.

For Fortnite, I decided that I wanted to get to a five percent win rate in Fortnite for Season 4. That didn’t seem like too much of a stretch as it would only be a one in twenty game win rate, well below what many pros and experts are able to do and only twice what I was able to accomplish in Season 3. I decided to really spend time playing the game, researching strategies, watching professional players, reading patch notes, dropping in a variety of locations, dropping in a single location many times and on and on and on. I will admit to even having worked with someone to train me how to play the game better. I played as many as one hundred and fifty matches per week for a few weeks to the point where the game was a job and not one I was good at.

I got to the point where the game wasn’t fun anymore. I would get so frustrated that my mood would drop. It would sometimes take me two days to feel normal again. I would feel angry, agitated, and my mental self-talk would get dark. I would mentally berate myself for not being able to perform well enough.

With the success of Fortnite, the game has attracted more and more people, and I felt like the top people in most matches were getting better faster than I was. I was achieving many top ten positions but losing over and over. Sometimes because of my anxiety. Sometimes because of my lack of tactical understanding. I tried to remind myself that I hadn’t played many games like this. I wasn’t a shooter fan growing up. I adjusted my mouse settings, my key binds and tried a whole host of other things in hopes that I would be able to find the right combination to get myself able to come out on top. My win rate slipped lower. Instead of winning two out of every hundred games, I was winning less than one out of every hundred. My frustration only grew and my ability to not only enjoy the game but also to mentally be kind to myself was reduced.

In the end, I had to stop and look at what I was doing. I cancelled my training lessons. I stopped playing the game outside of grinding out some challenges and playing with friends and my enjoyment increased slightly. I can no longer stream Fortnite. I can no longer focus on the game as a hobby that I will eventually master and I feel a bit bummed about that. No one wants to feel like their time is wasted, but now I have to concede that it was a waste of time and effort. I put myself under immense pressure to do better at the game and it really ended up causing me more anxiety, more stress, and more emotional instability.

For many, I’m sure you’ll be rolling your eyes endlessly at this post. I get it…Fortnite is “just a game”, but to me, it was a competitive sport and a hobby that I was spending a not-so-insignificant amount of time on. I hope that some athletes can empathize with my experience, and I hope that others will find some empathy because you have felt or know someone that is or was dealing with depression and/or anxiety.

I can’t help but feel down at the prospect that I wasn’t able to achieve my goal and that I wasn’t able to make a noticeable amount of progress towards it. I feel like I really put in the time and effort but it didn’t matter and that makes me a little disappointed. There is something about Fortnite that was super engaging for me, the idea of being able to compete against 99 other people and try to come out on top in a game where we all start out exactly the same and I hope after a reasonable break from playing the game in a competitive way, I can really find the enjoyment in it again, otherwise, I’ll probably have to uninstall it and just move on another attempt at a hobby that I just put in my past because I was never able to get to the level of mastery that I wanted, and thus unable to find enjoyment in the activity…

My Idea: Ontario Provincial Election Edition

So, I have already voted in the upcoming Ontario Election, but it got me thinking what my platform would look like. There has been some controversy with certain parties not providing a platform yet with the main vote a little over a week away… So without further ado, here’s what I’d want to do.

TAXES

  • Increase Tax on the wealthy by 1% for families earning more than $200k/yr and 2% on families earning more than $500k/yr and 3% on families earning more than $1m/yr.
  • Close tax skipping loopholes for business and private individuals.
  • Tax corporate automation – businesses should be able to pass some money towards the support coffers as they’ve saved staff costs. Set typical employment numbers for corporations of different sizes as they are today. If a corporation has more employees, they aren’t hit with this tax. If they have fewer employees than typical revenue numbers would expect then levy a 5% automation tax on gross revenues.
  • Create a 5% consumption tax on certain product types. So in Ontario it would be 18% tax on qualified items.
    • Cell phones over $500 retail price (price change indexed with inflation)
    • Computers over $1000 retail price (price change indexed with inflation)
    • Cars over $50,000 retail price (price change indexed with inflation)
    • Junk food (chips, pop, candy, chocolate, popcorn, etc…)
    • Cigarettes, Marijuana, Alcohol
  • Increase tax on home purchases by 1% on houses above median provincial cost. (Currently around $500k).
  • Setup a better water tax for companies using Ontario’s water resources based on how much water they use. The more they use, the higher they’ll be taxed based on the amount of water used and gross revenue to make sure we don’t bankrupt small companies but also earn back more from larger organizations such as water bottling plants.
  • Simplify rules/tax system for businesses under $500k in profit and/or five or fewer employees.
  • Exempt minimum wage workers from Provincial income tax.

ENVIRONMENT

  • Increase the provincial budget for building renewable energy systems in Ontario.
  • Switch from Cap and Trade to straight Carbon taxation.
  • Continue and grow the electric vehicle rebate program to make electric vehicles more affordable.

HEALTHCARE

We can’t assume employees will extend more benefits and while we can attempt to mandate it, I believe a more comprehensive system is required by the government to fill the gaps that businesses have made.

  • Free glasses (up to $500/2 years) and dental care (up to $1000/year) for children 18 and under including any medically necessary procedures/requirements such as braces, retainers, eye surgery and of course any accidental needs.
  • For 19+ free basic glasses (no transitions, no coatings, frames under $200) [every 2 years] and preventative dental care (scaling, cleaning, fillings) for all.
  • Build new nursing homes and long-term care beds. Rush project (to be completed within 2 years) with 1 new bed per 5,000 citizens. (~2,800 new beds across Ontario). With a further 1 new bed per 3,000 in the next 4 years. (~4,700 more). And if I were to stay on for 8 years, I’d expect another 5,000 beds to be in place for a total of 12,500 beds in 8 years.
  • Mental health illness treated like any other illness. Increase training for nurses and doctors related to mental health needs.
  • Increase number of counsellors, psychiatrists and therapists in hospitals to a minimum of 1 per 10,000 people served by the hospital (1400 new positions).
  • Add 1 to 2 mental health care workers to each public and high school board (~200 positions).
  • Reduce wait times for a youth’s (under 19) first support appointment to no more than 14 days when dealing with depression, suicidal ideation, emotional issues that could lead to suicide by prioritizing it over other mental health needs.
  • Provide government health coverage to individuals earning less than $60k a year for counselling support through internet solutions like BetterHelp, phone solutions, and in-person options to a maximum of $2,000 per year.
  • Free drug coverage under OHIP for families making under $100k/year.
  • The government will cover the costs of minimally invasive fertility treatment options (such as medication, fertility testing and cycle monitoring)
  • Double the number of midwives from 900 to 1800 over the next 4 years.
  • The government provided benefits should be visible on a website to see what was used and when. So you can see what you qualify for, what you’ve used, what you have remaining and when it refreshes.

EDUCATION

  • Free college-level education for all.
  • Continue the new OSAP style system for University students where kids of families making under $60k/year have access to free education at any level.
  • Forgive 25% of each currently held student loan converting them to bursaries received.
  • All current and future student loans from the OSAP program should be interest-free.
  • Amalgamate public and Catholic school boards (elementary and high school). No more religious schools showing a priority for one religion over another. Allow high schools to have religion classes as optional electives, but it must be inclusive religion education.
  • Add mental health training to health classes in all high schools – managing stress, dealing with anxiety, combatting depression, identifying mental illness.
  • Eliminate the EQAO testing.
  • Cap kindergarten class sizes to 15 children per teacher/teacher assistant with a max cap of 30 in a room and stop any split year classes.

CHILDCARE

  • For those not planning to immediately go back into the workforce, increase Maternity leave to 3 years with their position no longer guaranteed after 14 months but government benefits continuing through that time. Parents shouldn’t have to choose between feeding their family and heading back to work before they are ready. A single income family should be able to thrive.
  • Enforce a $15/day/child daycare standard.
  • Those earning less than $60k/yr provided free childcare at public, licensed, not-for-profit child care centres.
  • Increase the number of public, licensed, not-for-profit child care centres.
  • We will need to cut many current subsidies for parents/childcare for this plan to work.

MEDIA

  • Fight for tighter CRTC rules on telecom.
  • Cell phone plan with 1gb data, unlimited texting and local calling for $30/m.
  • Unlimited bandwidth 15 meg down Internet for $30/m.
  • Work with the CRTC to pressure telecom companies to provide Ontario with data plans similar to what is available in other provinces.

FIRST NATIONS

  • Reserves should be treated like any other city or town in Ontario with the same expectation for services (roads, water, power, internet). That should be a top priority!
  • Increase opportunities for First Nations teachers to be employed by public schools by carving out the budget for a First Nations Cultural Administrator position in all elementary schools with a goal of teaching First Nations history and culture to all Canadians. Find ways to help teachers include it in all subjects, organize cultural events, and train teachers.
  • Create a $5m per year fund for First Nations Cultural Archiving to employ people to collect First Nations language (audio, video, text), digitize art (to make it available for everyone to see), and create First Nations focused educational books (how to uphold traditions, history and culture information).

My overall goal is to incorporate the First Nations into Canada’s melting pot and provide them with the same opportunities as everyone else and providing them opportunities to share and hopefully strengthen their culture.

GOVERNMENT

  • Raise the floor so the lowest of us are taken care of (guaranteed basic income of $24k/year) the goal of getting people out of big cities and moving Ontario towards a digital economy. Every single person 18+ gets $2,000 every month to spend as they will.
  • It will require a raise in taxes on families making more than $85k (including the Basic Income, so an additional $37k/yr employment income) with the system able to recoup the full basic income stipend at $150k/family level and above (so $102k income from employment + the 48k in UBI).
  • End government support programs for low-income earners with exceptions for parents (child bonus should exist @ $500/year/child to a max of $1500/year) and those with medical needs (ODSP).
  • Decrease government staff by 10% through retirement and strategic hiring freezes.
  • End First Past the Post for Provincial Elections. Your choice matters. You shouldn’t be voting thinking about who you don’t want to win. Switch to ranked ballots using the Alternative Vote system.
  • Quarterly allowances for political parties should be capped at $500,000 (increasing at the rate of inflation) per political party. Election campaigns should not be able to take any type or style of corporate donations. Election campaigns should not be able to take free services or request free publicity.
  • Work with the Federal government to create a single source Government site. Citizens should be allowed to easily use data from one service, such as tax details and share it with another government tool. For example, OSAP, if proof of income is needed you should be able to request that the CRA sends it to OSAP by either a permissions management system or some kind of OAuth-esque/API solution that allows a one-time connection between the two services. This should work for all government websites.

BUSINESSES

  • Work towards a 50x max executive compensation based on the median income of non-executive full-time staff. So if the median wage is $50k, then max executive compensation is $2.5m which includes bonuses, stock options, etc… Every $1000 an executive increases median wage is another $50,000 they can increase their own.
  • Domestic contract workers and part-time workers that work 30 hours per week or more (4 weeks in any quarter) must be extended the option to “buy into” any corporate health benefits options that full-time workers receive.
  • 5 guaranteed paid sick days for part-time workers, 10 guaranteed for full-time workers with no doctor’s note required.

TRANSIT

  • We need some high-speed rail along the Ontario Corridor (London to Ottawa with stops in London, Hamilton, Toronto, Oshawa, and Ottawa) at a speed of no less than 250 KPH. I would fight to make that possible.
  • We also need additional spending in public transportation across the province. (Busses, trains, subway, etc).
  • Work with GO Transit to extend GO service to be constantly two-way between 6am and 6pm Monday through Friday.
  • Free transit passes for those 55+.
  • Trucks over 18’ long should pay congestion charges if they run on any 400 highway in the GTHA between 8am – 10am and 4pm – 6pm.

SENIORS

  • No income tax on seniors with an income equivalent to minimum wage.
  • No taxes on support products for seniors (walkers, wheelchairs, canes, etc…)
  • Exempt from consumption tax.
  • Creation of seniors clubs, exercise programs, and activity programs to keep seniors engaged and provided the opportunity to be as healthy as possible.
  • Public transparency on costs of senior care. We all need to understand the costs of serving an ageing baby boomer population and work together to look for solutions and opportunities to provide the best service at a cost that doesn’t cripple our province.

OTHER

  • Libraries as community centres/technology training centres – invest heavily in providing 3d printers, VR, AR and training for librarians.

I understand that this plan contains something that everyone can dislike, but hopefully, it also contains a line item that everyone likes. There are a lot of needs in this province and the choice we have to make is between taking care of those in need and going into further debt or making this province another “everyone fend for themselves” place. I will also admit, I don’t know the money side of any of this. I tried to think of ways to increase the revenue of the provincial government to be able to pay for some of these plans, and it might be a bit too much tax and spend, but I believe that is the kind of solution we need. In my opinion, we can’t cut services right now as there are too many people in at-risk positions, but we also can’t keep spending a ton of money we don’t have forever and think that’s okay. A compromise must be created while continuing to hold true to the ideals of Canada.

I hope you found this interesting. Feel free to comment, to pick it apart, to point out what you liked and didn’t like. I really don’t mind as I am no expert in this arena, just a creative citizen fortunate enough to have the time to imagine.

My 1,000th Post on This Blog

I can’t help but think about my career, both in blogging and just in general, as well as my life as I hit 1,000 posts on this blog according to WordPress.com’s software.

Some of those blog posts were brought over from a previous blog, and others are less about my life and more focused on my creativity, but overall, I think this site paints a pretty reasonable picture of who I am. If you go through the archives, you’ll learn about my life, my family, my struggles, my victories, my career, my hobbies and so much more… But this site only gives a small snippet. My goal with blogging, when I first started was to share my thoughts and feelings more readily and to have a place to archive my life and so much of what I’ve done has been lost to the ether or just to my poor memory. I continue to wonder about the periods in my life that have all but faded away, and I chastise myself for not having written more, taken more pictures, and finding ways to make sure that information was safe for me to archive away and be able to look back on.

With one thousand posts written, I also have to think about what lies ahead. I am in such a great place in my life, and sometimes it feels hard to write about that because I’m either busy enjoying it, or I don’t want to brag as we all hit high points at different times in our lives. I don’t know what the future has in store for me, but I will endeavour to do better about archive it so that one, five, or even twenty years down the road, when my memory of these times has faded away, I can look back on who I was, what I did and how far I’ve come.

I have had over 25,000 unique visitors to this personal blog. My five most popular posts since starting are:

Thank you so much to everyone that reads this blog, and even more so to those that take the time to comment on the posts, you have all helped me feel more connected, more cared for.

Anxiety When Gaming

Many of you are going to find this pretty silly, but that’s okay. This is a post about me and for me.

I suffer from anxiety while playing competitive games and especially Fortnite: Battle Royale. The easy solution would be to stop playing the game, but there are aspects I really enjoy about the game, and for some reason, I want to get better at this game. Unfortunately, I am hitting a wall that I’ve always had in my career, hobbies, projects and just life in general: depression and anxiety are stopping me from achieving my goals. They affect my life like anchors around my neck and while my medication is doing wonders for my depression, my anxiety still hounds me.

I need to overcome this issue. I need to find a way to enjoy the game. I need to get my brain to relax, to not speed up my heart so much, to not constrict my chest, to not make my hands and feet cold. I feel so frustrated that after so much time in the game, I haven’t been able to get past this. I thought that if I trained heavily that eventually, I wouldn’t care and my body would relax. I even try to tell myself it doesn’t matter, and I have thrown some top 5 positions just to try to relax and reduce the weight that I’m giving to my performance and need to excel.

I have started working with a trainer to improve my gameplay, and while I am getting better positions in the matches, my anxiety is still extreme. I feel that I have some skills in the game and that I am above average in most situations, but any time I get to the top 20 players, my body reacts in negative ways.

I deal with this same kind of thing in real life in certain circumstances, so as silly as it might sound, I’m hopeful that if I have a breakthrough in playing this game, I might be able to translate some of that to my real life and handle situations better in my day to day life because I don’t deal with anxiety every day in my normal life, but I can in most games of Fortnite that I play…

There are times where I feel so frustrated that I’m being held back by my anxiety that I just want to uninstall the game, but then I remember all the fun I have and the sense of accomplishment I feel when I do really well or win. I’m hopeful that I’ll find a way to get over this. I don’t want my anxiety limiting me or slowing me down in anything I do, even just playing games.