CookieMonster-plus v.1.3.13 now plays nice with ampersands

Had a report from Steve Dawson that ampersands were not being passed through properly. The short story is, now it is working when you type the & in the "Text" rather than "Visual" panel.

[cmp_tag "input value='Test?example=" example "&other=...' size='50'"]

The long version of the story involves digging into the WordPress core code to figure out where all the & encoded ampersands were coming from and finally finding all the places! (And nobody really wants to hear it, so ...)

Three new caveats:

  1. If you switch back to the Visual editor after making the appropriate changes in the Text editor, WordPress will be "helpful" and change them from & to & and break things again.
  2. Using this now turns off "smart quotes" and other things that wptexturize() does to the things we type. Most people will never notice the difference. This note is for those who do notice and may have issue with that.
  3. You can only put one cookie value into a given HTML tag. This becomes more of a potential issue in this use case where you might want to pass along a name and email as it passes from one site to another. Since the primary use case I'm aware of for this feature is to pass an affiliate ID, I think it is a fair solution until I process through all the potential implications of my next solution.

As usual, get the updated plugin and drop a note on the help desk if you have any questions, suggestions, or results to share!

CookieMonster-plus update (1.3.12) — WP 4.3 compatibility

The CookieMonster-plus plugin has had another big update. This supersedes the last update that dealt with the WP 4.2.3 security update that broke how and where certain shortcodes work. It also has a more general, if slightly more complicated, solution to the new behavior of WP core.

Cookie Image

C is for Conversion, that's good enough for me!

WordPress core changed up the shortcode behavior for security reasons and I understand their reasoning, but it broke plugins like CM+ that already had taken into consideration the dangers of user input being "injected" into your web page. What changed is that now they ignore any short codes that are a part of an HTML tag, but not all the parameters. So, for those who used a CM+ shortcode to fill in a form field's value, it stopped doing that with the WP 4.2.3 update.

For example

<input type='text' name='email' value='[email]'>

used to do the right thing. As of WP 4.2.3, it just left the value blank.

The way around this, as validated by WP core developers, is to have the shortcode generate the whole HTML tag. In order to do that in a robust way, I added a new shortcode to CM+ that you feed three unnamed parameters: before, cookie, and after.

This allows for mechanical translation from a tag with an embedded [cookie_name] shortcode to the new format. There are instructions for this, as well as a web-based translation tool, available from the download page.

The good news is that any other customization you're doing on WordPress pages with [firstname] or other CM+ cookie shortcodes should work as always -- as long as it isn't embedded in a parameter of an HTML tag. The even better news is that the latest version of the CM+ plugin gives us a way to use the shortcodes in the old way as well. The best news is that this means the upgrades to Paul Myers's Email Affiliate System that CM+ turned into The BEAST (Blog and Email Affiliate SysTem) should all still be viable with the security of the latest version of WordPress.

As always, feel compelled to download CookieMonster-plus and sign up for my plugin announcement list on that download page.

Are Sunk Costs Sinking Your Ship?

Recently I had a loverly example of sunk costs and making decisions based on the current situation, not on old information.

I was making a food run for my wife on a scale few people appreciate. Rather than running across town for a favorite dish, I drove from the middle of California to the middle of Oregon to bring back 165 pounds of blueberries. (There is a long saga that led up to this point that will have to wait for another time since it is more color than the point of this post.)

In planning the trip, I polled my Facebook friends for interesting things to see on I-5 during my breaks. I also realized I could take the 101 up the coast at the expense of an extra couple hours on top of the 9 hours Google maps was already predicting on I-5. The consensus from fb was to take the 101 if I had the time to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Photo by Donna Sutton

Photo by Donna Sutton

As I set out, I convinced Gmaps on my phone to point me to the 101 (I should have taken the hint when it was so difficult to get directions that way). It gave me several options between Middlebury and the coast and I opted for the extra 10 minutes to go past Clear Lake and the 10 more to take the far side that looked like it would have a better view of the lake.

Everything was fine as I wound my way through the creepiness that is post-burn Pope Valley and off towards Clear Lake. Then I get pulled over and ticketed for changing audio tracks and appearing to be "using my phone without a headset" -- something I had intentionally avoided by digging out an old MP3 player. Needless to say, I wasn't very pleased with that situation, but took it well enough that the officer thanked me for being so "reasonable" in asking, for future reference, whether it mattered that it was an MP3 player, not my phone. (FYI, he was non-committal and pleasantly said I could contest it if I didn't agree with the ticket.)

Continuing on, I found myself amazingly neutral about the ticket, but almost instantly wearied by the whole mess. (I really dislike feeling misunderstood.) Driving around Clear Lake I was able to appreciate the view and suddenly realized that I had hit my quota for appreciating natural beauty at the moment. I also realized I was adding hours to my trip (that I now wanted done ASAP) for more views like the one I was no longer enjoying within the first hour of the drive!

Pulling over at the next long turnout, I remapped the shortest route from where I was parked. I was not pleased to realize I had to backtrack a ways before I could get on the shorter route up I-5. Part of me rebelled and started throwing a bit of a tantrum about going back the way I had just come. Thankfully, the more sensible part of me did the math and realized it was an extra couple hours up the coast over the afternoon or 10-15 minutes now (that happened to be anti-parallel with a section of road I'd just driven).

In that moment, I was presented with one of the biggest hurdles we face in making good decisions -- the knowledge of what it took to get us to the point of making that decision. These "sunk costs" may be time or money. They may be energy spent or even other opportunities deferred in order to pursue the current path. Or, possibly the biggest one, the commitment and consistency of having previously made a decision and now wanting to stick with that choice as the right choice.

Who wants to question their own decision making abilities?! We would much rather make a choice and follow through on it. Who cares that the "reality" of the situation is different than the assumptions we made in the process of choosing! (Hint: we all should care...because they is always a gap between our map and the territory.)

The most "natural" choice is to just stick with the original plan and make the best of it. Now, I don't know about you, but that rarely works out well for me -- especially before GPS mapping was so prevalent and I thought I knew how to get somewhere based on looking at a map before I left. I have driven many, many miles (literal and figurative) in the wrong direction out of stubbornness over the years.

This time was different. All other things being equal, I wanted to get to Oregon and back as quickly as possible. Most of me had a very clear sense that things had changed and I wasn't as likely to enjoy the 101 scenery. That made most all those "other things" pretty darned equal.

That meant if I kept going forward and ended up on the coastal highway, it would be a case of shooting myself in the foot (while mixing my metaphors) to spite my face. The logical thing to do was to backtrack to the shortest route -- in spite of whatever happened in the past to get me to that new decision point.

I had several moments during my almost 7 years of PhD work where I had to do this same sort of evaluation. It didn't matter that I was 4 years into it. It only mattered whether the decision to stick it out still made sense. Fortunately, it did everytime I did the evaluation and eventually I got the dissertation written, approved, and defended!

Meanwhile, back at Clear Lake... I took a deep breath, committed, and pulled a U-turn to take the shorter, more optimal-in-the-moment, route. And, after the split second grieving process, I continued knowing I'd made the "right" choice with the new information I had available at that point.

So, what does this mean for you and your business? First off, you need to take the frame of mind that sunk costs are irrelevant. Sayings like "don't throw good money after bad" are more than cheesy platitudes. If a satellite is in orbit around the Earth and has gotten off course, we don't care what path it took to get where it is. We don't care about the complete history of micro-burns needed to get it here. We only care about the current situation (position, speed, remaining fuel, etc) and what actions need to be taken in order to get it back on track.

With that mindset in place, there are a few steps you can take to make these sorts of decisions easier to make correctly.

1. Have trusted advisers. In my driving adventure, I had an adviser that I trusted: Google maps. A satellite has teams of NASA-grade experts crunching the numbers and plotting the course to fulfill their mission goals.

2. Consult them often. Turn by turn directions are great -- as long as you listen to them. If you've ever made a stop while using Google maps, you know there really ought to be a "pause" feature so the voice prompts don't tell you to make a U-turn in the snack aisle (even if that is a good recommendation!). Muting that voice in the snack aisle can have disastrous consequences if we don't turn it back on later. Similarly, having advisers is pointless if you don't listen when they advise or don't consult them on a regular basis. When? How about those times we're about to make a turn (decision) or we look around and realize we don't know quite where we are now. Which leads us to the next point, ...

3. Recognize when the situation has changed enough or is sufficiently different than when you made the original decision/s. Life is full of changes. Ignoring those changes only gets us more and more out of alignment with what is happening around us. A rocket headed for space can't ignore gravity, no matter how "inconvenient" F=Gm1m2/r^2 may be. Markets shift, technologies change, and life keeps on happening. If we blithely ignore that, we are walking off a cliff and assuming gravity will ignore us back. (It isn't heights that are the problem, or even falling. It is that abrupt change in velocity when we bounce off the planet that puts a damper on someone's day.)

4. Have a clear goal in mind. This helps in two ways. One is that it gives us a clear direction to be focused. When we can keep our eye on the prize, we can more easily set aside the distractions to quickly get back on track. If you've put together a well-formed outcome, you should already have a step-by-step plan to get you to your goal. And, more valuable still, you will have gone through the planning process and know the territory well enough to navigate around unforeseen obstacles.

The other way a clear goal helps is that it generally has more emotional oomph to it that we can tap into when needed. The bigger and better we expect the outcome to be, the more we will block out those other voices in our head that may derail us further than an arbitrary obstacle. Whenever we turn our energies against ourselves, we are creating "dragons" and they love to take us on a merry ride if we let them! (We shall address dragon slaying and taming another day...)

So, by having trusted advisers, consulting them often, recognizing when we are in uncharted territories, and not feeding the dragons, we are more likely to make clear decisions in spite of sunk costs and reach our goals more easily.

It sounds so simple, doesn't it! 😉

A Friday the 13th Opportunity

or Through the "Looking" (Google) Glass

If you've been considering a new look for your website or are ready to build another site, let my weird week pay off for you big time.

What a strange week this has been. End of term drama with students, getting extra "Daddy days" while my wife nurses her mother back to post-surgical health, and fighting off some sort of cough-snot nastiness.

google-glass_techcrunchA couple more things that happened this week that are relevant to you: a client abandoned a project in the customization phase and Google invited me to play with their latest toy. These two together lead to an interesting opportunity for you.

I'm quite happy with the latest custom theme I built (that looks amazingly like the one you're viewing now!). Intentionally pared down visual elements, easily customizable, and responsive/mobile friendly. Unfortunately, the client is no longer planning to use the theme due to a shift in their business internals.

I suspect this will develop into my latest boilerplate for future custom themes. And in the meantime, I'd rather get it out there on some more sites rather than languish on my hardrive.

Combine that with a time-sensitive invite to get my own Google Glass unit, and I start feeling like the Godfather (as well as sounding like Corleone with this sore throat!) -- I'd like to make you an offer you can't refuse.

This project was over $1000 and we cut the customization phase short. I'd like to pick up there and customize this WordPress theme for a few individuals and cover the costs of the Glass unit without disturbing the rest of my budget.

When you take advantage of my shiny object syndrome (or rather the commercialization of technology I've been drooling over and attempting to piece together over the last two decades!), you get the leverage of the core theme I just built ($1,000+) as well as an initial round of customizations ($500) for just the cost of the customizations -- $500.

I will also include a .com domain name and cpanel hosting for a year ($100) and install and configure WordPress on your new site ($50). And if you have your content ready now, I will create up to the first 5 pages of the site ($250). (Including a "contact us" page with form that emails you and also allows you to browse all the entries within the WordPress dashboard.)

If you're updating an existing site, I will install and test the new theme on a representative subset of your site to ensure that there are no conflicts with any existing plugins on your site that may not play nice with others ($300-500).

And, once you've paid, I have a wide library of plugins that I can install from other vendors that I have with "developer rights," meaning I can install them on client sites as well as my own. These include plugins to run your own affiliate program, membership site, or appointment system (among many other things) -- all within your existing WordPress site.

Now, I can only honor this for a very small number of people over the next two days (through 9pm Pacific on Sunday) because I have a limited time to order my Google Glass (my invite is only good for 7 days!) and I also have very little time for additional client work between now and the end of the year. If you order and my schedule is already full, I will have to refund your money and I can quote your project after the new year.

{Secure Payment Options removed after deadline}

For this, I don't have time (or interest) to put together a fancy direct-response salesletter or a bunch of compelling graphics. If this is something you want/need/find interesting, reserve your place now and you'll have a new site or new look by the end of the year.

Either way, have a happy Christmas and create a wonderful new year!

P.S. What do *you* think of Google Glass? Freakshow, fad, or phenom?! Comment below.

Coincidence & Preparation

I do not believe in coincidence.

Sure, I get the actual deconstruction of the word (co - incident, occurring at the same time), but it isn't something magical or mystical to me. Just like the "Law of Attraction" -- coincidence is all about tuning your awareness.

Photo by Lindsay Sorensen

I certainly subscribe to the notion of giving an idea more conscious processing time when I've noticed it in 3 different ways/places/forms in a short period of time. I'm not saying that any of those 3+ interactions were not divinely inspired. What I am saying, is that independent of the externals, I noticed it three times.

By focusing on the internal aspect, I have some control over what happens -- unlike what happened when I used to focus on the externals. I can only partially control what stimuli I'm exposed to, and that only by being aware of what environments I put myself into each moment of my day.

What I can take control of is my own internal state. I can apply that small amount of willpower in ways that have the biggest positive impact in my life, independent of the environment in which I may find myself.

The challenge is this: you can't dig your well when you're thirsty (HT to my friend Donna Fox). You have to plan ahead, do the work in advance, and have those resources at the ready when the need arises. It can be hard work, and you rarely have the extra resources available to do that hard work "on the fly" -- any extra resources you can gather are usually needed to deal with the current situation.

Athletes do not walk onto the field/court/ring without having spent many hours perfecting their craft. They don't go out on game day and expect to learn a new technique. They often spend years getting the mechanics internalized enough that they can then spend the rest of their life, or at least their career, perfecting the nuances of their craft. And that perfecting is a function of regular practice, tested through training with others, and proven through competition (HT to Scott Sonnon).

I take those "coincidence" moments, when I become consciously aware of a specific part of my world, and use them as triggers. This is a "privileged signal" from my unconscious that has become conscious. When I'm ready to receive that information, I know it is prompting me to "dig my well" and take some knowledge, awareness, or behavior to the next level.

What are the "levels"? Just like the athlete example, it is either going from nothing to gross skill, adding a layer of refinement to existing skills, or deconstructing a skill in order to teach it to others. These transitions correspond roughly, in NLP vocabulary, to moving from conscious incompetence (or possibly unconscious incompetence) to conscious competence, from conscious competence to unconscious competence, and unconscious competence to mastery modeling.

Right now, I am hyper aware of two related things: the physical ways in which we release our emotional tensions and the verbal mechanisms for shifting the beliefs that drive those emotions. I am putting in conscious time "practicing" by refining my skills at Sleight of Mouth language patterns as well as developing new skills in renewing joint mobility and releasing muscular tensions.

What do these promptings have to do with business? Only as much as your business involves you thinking clearly or moving smoothly. Last time I checked, even Internet-only business people have a body (all you brain-in-a-jar folks, please correct me) and that body influences your thought process (and vice versa)!

Taking a step back, business owners also need to know what skills need practice and training to prepare for the testing during "competition." It's also handy to know what situations are truly competition versus training versus practice. (My own rule of thumb: if it just involves internal skills, it is practice; if it involves your team or partners, it is training; if it involves other businesses in the same market, it is competition.)

For those of us not directly retailing, this time of year is perfect for practicing and training for the new year. While your competition is off thinking about the holidays, you can be digging your well -- developing the skills you'll need in the moment when things pick back up post-holidays.

Taking another step back, developing your awareness of how you're being prompted, internally, can lead to some great moments of flow -- both the "in the zone" type flow and cash flow! Of course, you need to do something because of that awareness and hopefully the little bit of knowledge shared here will help drive that behavior to prepare in resourceful ways.

If you'd like to find out more about the product I'm preparing to help "dig your well" emotionally, sign up on this page so I can send you updates via email.

How have you been prompted recently?
What are you practicing right now?
Please share below!

Massive Action

It's been a whirlwind of a month. I've gotten more done in the last six weeks than the last six months and I "blame" a few different folks for contributing to my high level of productivity.

In late July, I walked through an integrated strategic development process and set an intent to serve more people, leverage tension management, and create sustainable functionality. If that all sounds like gibberish, that's fine, because going through the process (with a little guidance) kicked me into high gear.

The week after I started through the process I finished six client sites, had a breakthrough in my research, and started developing a new product in partnership with John Delavera. I was doing so much good work that one of my friends lamented "where's the fun Wayne?" (Don't worry, he's still here, just resting during this half of the tension cycle.)

The month was rolling along, I get the product ready for testing, and as I start sending out review copies -- disaster -- one of the web hosting companies I use disappeared and took the new product site with it. Annoying, but no big deal, they should be back in a couple hours.

That's when I made the mistake of waiting.
A week later, still no signs of the hosting company.
Two weeks pass, still no word and no hosting.

Fortunately, I caught myself in the hurry-up-and-wait mode and broke out of it.
Switched hosting providers, got everything set up again, and slipped back into hurry-up-and-wait for the reviewers. This time I noticed it after a few days (instead of weeks) and pushed forward anyway.

During this waiting time Marlon Sanders sent out an email recommending a book called The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone. Grabbed a copy, read it over the weekend, and kicked back into gear. The major premise of the 10x book is that success isn't something optional or nice to have, it is our duty and obligation to be successful. The title comes from Cardone's suggestion for reaching success: make 10x bigger goals and take 10x as many actions.

The funny thing is, I'll give Cardone credit for making a better meme, but I've taught the same principles that drive The 10x Rule before! It's the "shoot for the moon and even if you fall short you'll land among the stars" method of planning with what I call MnM goals.

Anyway, I kicked back into 10x high gear and leveraged the "do 10x as many actions" mantra, and my commitment to Delavera, to crank out my first product release into a particular marketplace (something I'd been considering for way too long without having committed). I found myself using the 10x mindset unconsciously, then realizing that the three solid reviews I got in time to release the product were the result of having given out 20+ review copies and if I'd given out the half a dozen I'd started with I would have been lucky to have any reviews!

This past weekend Marlon sent out another email with a challenge that meshed nicely with the 10x factor. The challenge was to implement two time blocks a day for 7 days, one for producing and one for promoting. I took him up on his challenge and set aside two blocks each day.

Again, time blocking is something I'd heard from Paul Evans and Derrick Franklin, but hadn't thought to label them with core activities. (Thanks for that prompting Marlon! You really are the best at breaking marketing down into simple pieces.)

From all of this, I created a cool product called WP Instant Minisite. It released on Tuesday, and is already in the black and poised to pay a nice return.

Lessons (Re)Learned This Month

  • Clarity from setting strategic intent generates lots of free energy.
  • Having a solid goal that is beyond what you'd normally set pushes up the activity level.
  • Thinking in terms of 10x actions generates enough action to reach those solid goals.
  • External accountability, commitment, and feedback remove hesitation points (thanks John!).
  • "Release early, release often" takes "80% done" into the marketplace for real feedback and iterative improvement.
  • Knowing your core activities and blocking time around other commitments gets them done everyday.
  • Faith without works is dead, no one is justified by the law; have faith and take action!

Basically, it's the same few lessons repeated on different scales: trust, set an intention, take massive action, get feedback often, iterate quickly.

How are you going to apply these this week?
Leave a comment and leverage that public declaration!

Quick Accountability Formula

You know the power of accountability, ne?


Leadership © by GrowWear

Having done a lot of soul searching and self-discovery over the years, I've come to recognize that I'm externally motivated and externally validated. Needing other people to get jazzed and to confirm straight thinking means the best way to kick-start yourself is to make sure you're reaching out and connecting with other people.

Here's the formula and a little explanation:

  • Far + Near + Past + Feeling = Action

This is a tested and proven formula that has been used by myself and others to get more things done than would have happened otherwise.

As a business mentor, my friend and some time business partner, Donna Fox has used this with spectacular results -- for herself and for those being mentored. She uses a daily meeting of about 5 minutes with these components. Check out her accountability blog post for the details of how she uses this formula.

In a productivity setting, my friend and fellow NLP Trainer, Stever Robbins has guided many groups through an hourly-check-in-for-a-day version of this same formula in what he calls Action Days.

The same components are there to some degree in both of these protocols: far, past, near, feeling -- and they both generate more action than not employing these components.

Here's the breakdown on what each piece is and how it helps:

  • Far -- this is a goal to be met several accountability cycles into the future. When meeting daily, that means on the week-month scale. When meeting hourly, that means on the today-tomorrow scale. Stating this gives you a direction to focus your efforts and a "big chunk" to double check yourself against before the next accountability session. When I declare I'm releasing a product next Monday, it is simple to check against this "product release" direction and say yes-or-no on whether my action at a given moment is headed in the right direction.
  • Past -- this is reporting what happened in the time since the last accountability session. A brief "got X & Y done, not Z" is a valid report on the past. The mere fact that we ask "what did I get done, or not get done" helps us track our results by noticing what is/isn't happening between sessions. It's amazing to me how small an amount of tracking can keep you making course corrections almost immediately.
  • Near -- this is laying out what you're going to do before the next accountability meeting. Again, just a brief "I'm going to do A, B, & maybe C" kick starts actions. This Near is like the Far because it sets direction. The primary difference between Far and Near is that the Far sets a more strategic or bird's-eye direction and Near sets a more tactical or on-the-ground direction.
  • Feeling -- this is where you take a moment to notice what you feel about the other components. Does your Far still have the same feelings surrounding it? How do you feel about what you did/didn't do in the Past time frame? How ready do you feel to finish your proposed Near actions? How will it feel to hit those Near/Far milestones and be reporting them as Past accomplishments? (I'll skip the explanation on how this component works. It will be quite obvious for those it will help, and moot for those that it won't!)

There you go -- a formula for getting a lot more done with a little accountability.

  • Far + Near + Past + Feeling = Action!

How have you noticed these pieces as a part of your accountability?
When have you successfully used accountability to drive your own actions?
Share below.

Business Planning Gratitude

It is amazing to me what a little gratitude can do and how much difference a lot of gratitude can make. I wasn't raised sending thank you cards, so I am having to be intentional as an adult -- sometimes with more success than others.

Last week I developed an internal editorial calendar and, thankfully, it was prompted by a desire to be more intentional in expressing gratitude. What specifically prompted it was connecting with @TimBerry on twitter.

Tim is the president and founder of Palo Alto Software who makes the best business planning software I've ever seen. So what does that have to do with gratitude? I've gotten two great gifts from Tim over the last few years: a copy of Business Plan Pro and an hour of his time, both in connection with the McCloskey business plan competition.

Not only can I recommend the company's software, but I highly recommend connecting with Tim as he is articulate, experienced, and an all around nice guy -- especially when it comes to business topics.

And as I continue to practice my gratitude, we can all thank Tim for the inspiration -- unintentional or not!

Who are you grateful to today? Share below in the comments.

Lesson Learned from Accidentally Getting #1 Search Result

The punchline:

  • Know your desired action
  • Focus on the right things
  • Beware when being sold
  • Know your desired action!

Here is the list of folks from the video -- these are ones I listen to (and think you should too):

(And yes, I've gotten value from every one of the above links -- that's why I value and trust these folks!)

What do you take away from my top search rankings shown in the video? Comment below.

CookieMonster-plus update (1.3.6) — CF7 integration

Just a quick announcement that I updated the CookieMonster-plus plugin (since I realized I hadn't announced the last minor update).

The new features include a config option for setting the cookie duration (default is 30 days) and integration with Contact Form 7 to allow pre-filling text and email fields based on cookied values. I'm considering the same feature for hidden fields, but I ran out of steam just getting the visible fields to work properly.

In case you missed the significance, you can use CM+ to pre-fill people's name and email address in contact forms so you can pass them from, say, a squeeze page to a survey page. CF7 has lots of flexibility in configuring forms and can be easily setup for surveys. When combined with the Contact Form 7 to Database Extension you can get something akin to the Ask Database survey functionality but self contained within WordPress.

CM+ 1.3.6 added CF7 shortcodes text+, text*+, email+, and email*+ to pull values from cookies or other parameter string values. They behave just like the non-plus versions, they just check the cookies and parameter string for default values to pre-fill the form.

As always, feel compelled to download CookieMonster-plus and sign up for my plugin announcement list below.