In this interview, Paul stated that he was at the beginning of a “marketing career” when Google was just born.
Let’s see. Google was born in 1997 (same year as my son). I was a touring jazz pianist with 5 albums to my name. I travelled the world and appeared on stages like the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Hague Jazz Festival and the Yokohama Jazz Festival.
At the time, I was also at the beginning of my “marketing career”. I wasn’t signed to Arkadia Jazz yet, which meant I had to market my own career. I had minored in computer sciences in University, so I had the confidence to code my own websites from scratch.
Q. How did you get to know about WordPress? Share if there is an interesting story.
Ans: As a jazz musician in Canada, you basically were very much like a start up on a bootstrap budget. If you didn’t make the phone calls, put your own press kits together, build your own websites, print posters, build your own following and market your own music…you were dead in the water.
So I developed these skills. Still, when I earned enough money, I had paid someone to make me a new html site. I was very dissappointed with the outcome. In an effort to re-make it, I had researched my options. This was about 2003-2004. This is when there was a little buzz about this free thing called WordPress.
I never looked back. This became the vehicle for me. Eventually my jazz career came to an end due to injuries and a series of unfortunate events. But, I re-invented myself into a Certified Trainer and Speaker.
I also became a pretty good “internet marketer”. With proof under my belt, I started training across North America and made my first 7 figures by 2007.
Q. What’s the most interesting project you have done to date in WordPress? What were your responsibilities?
Ans: I’ve done hundreds of projects. From golf courses to jewellery stores, from big rig sales to workout gyms, from financial and bankruptcy services to legal services, from botox clinics to dentists, from personal development coaches to fishing reel manufacturers. From art festivals to entertainment sites.
When I lead a project, I first look at the results the clients are expecting, then I reverse engineer the result they desire. I often manage the project and delegate it. Or I will be hands on in every micro decision if need be.
I’ve had some clients for 10 years – it’s a long term relationship where we work together on quarterly goals. But the most interesting WordPress story is that of my son Adrian. He grew up in the family business.
He worked in my agency. One day, he took my wife and I out for dinner and asked if he could give his resignation and start his own business. We of course supported this decision with one caveat – he had to find his own financing and hire his own employees.
He became the founder of Groundhogg.io – I think is the best CRM in WordPress right now. Especially for agencies. My role was simple…I occasionally had to offer councel..share a little wisdom when it came to PR or haters.
But of course I championned him. I had a couple of dozen clients using other CRM’s and eventually they all made the switch to Groundhogg. These clients are still with him today.
When I think Adrian was born the same year as Google, and years later, he has his own WordPress business…it literally makes him 2nd generation WordPresser in our family. That is impressive in my books. He was a great listener. He did learn the skills he needed during his teenage years. I’m pretty proud of this.
Q. Have you ever been to any WordPress meetups or WordCamps? Share your thoughts on WordPress Community.
Ans: Yes. I’ve been to the Toronto Wordcamp (twice). I’ve spoken there once. I have not been to any meetups. So the WordPress Community I know right now, are my relationships on Twitter. I believe the WordPress community is pretty tight.
As far as the developers go, they all know one another either directly or through reputation. I think the key is to nurture those relationships. I’ve been keeping my ears and eyes open about all the plugins that have been acquired these past 24 months. I find there is a new energy about investing in WordPress businesses.
But I also find that it will be more difficult for new plugin developers to penetrate markets without solid partnerships from established plugins with existing “tribes”.
I think those that push to build in React will win. But finding human resources with react/wordpress skills is very tough right now…and expensive. It’ll be interesting where things go.
Q. How does your workstation look like? Can you send us a picture?
Ans: Sure. I have a stand up desk. Two monitors. Soft box lighting. Microphone . Good gear. I’m a virgo, which means I like things neat. I’m also a bit of a tech head, so only the best. And usually, I’ll have a Nespresso coffee on my desk.
Q. What interesting feature do you think you would like to see in WordPress and is currently missing?
Ans: I wish I knew the answer, because I’d hire a bunch of people to create the solution and do just that. If I could clearly define an opportunity, I’d do it.
But I’m not a programmer, so I do not clearly see the opportunities as a developer may see it. As a marketer, I was usually on the “services” end vs. “productization”. And I also integrated many SaaS products with WordPress.
So, the opportunities I discovered were more on the “training and integration” end of things. Having said that, I think wherever a SaaS product solves a problem, so can a wordpress plugin solution. I think WordPress is ready for “project management” type of solution.
Q. Out of the current plugins and themes which one do you like the most and why?
Ans: I used CRM’s since 2004. Well, the first one I used was AutoResponse Plus. If you remember that one, it was just a basic autoresponder.
It was a free for all in the early 2000’s and spam was “in”. Then, when the ISP’s became smarter, I switched to Infusionsoft. I was an award winning Certified Partner for Infusionsoft, which is a SaaS product. I toured the country selling hundreds of apps for them.
So, the answer to your question is, when my son thought he could make a product like Infusionsoft or Active Campaign…for WordPress…I was skeptical. I mean, we saw Infusionsoft go through heartaches with their products and they had millions in investments and hundreds of people on their team.
How can 1 guy create something comparable for WordPress? And I thought, how could you even run a CRM on your own WordPress installation? It didn’t make sense to me. But I’m a good father. I didn’t want to crush his dreams, so I encouraged him. And prove me wrong…he did it.
Not only did he do it,his product won the Gold Stevie Award for Best CRM for Small Business and one for Tech start up of the year. And …it’s a great product. Don’t take my word for it, look at the reviews in the repo. The good news, is not many people knew about it.
He didn’t have a big marketing budget…so he really got to focus on the product and delivering great support. Now, when many people find out about it…he’ll have to hire more people to deliver great support.
I use groundhogg on my own sites, and still implement this for my own clients. I just did one today for the famous Dr.TenPenny in the USA. It’s such a great product, and it’s free in the repo.
Q. Any awesome technology you want to share other than WordPress?
Ans: I’m still a musician. And right now my pet project is growing a Youtube channel.I offer jazz tutorials to intermediate and advanced jazz pianists.
This was probably the hardest digital marketing thing I’ve done in my life. It took me 9 months to go from 0 to 1000 subscribers. But, there I have to use VidIQ to help optimize my videos so they rank. I wish I had shares in VidIQ.Great product. It’s way easier to rank a youtube video than a webpage.
Though, it’s harder to build content for Youtube then a landing page. But, once I can really monetize this channel and show results, I’m planning to keep this as my retirement project.
Q. Do you like/love what you currently do in WordPress?
Ans: I love what I do. Training Business Pros has earned me millions over the years. Knowledge is power. And I’ve provided my family by having the ability to transfer that knowledge to business owners world wide.
But more than that, I think my biggest legacy, is transfering that knowledge to my son. Who by the way, is smarter than me. So, I feel very fulfilled in that respect. And if I had to leave this planet today, I think I could stand in front of my maker and say “you know, I did good.
I helped a lot of good people”. I helped hundreds (or maybe thousands) of business owners understand marketing. I’ve helped hundreds of companies adopt digital marketing and deploy their own in house teams.
So yeah, I LOVE what I do. I’m good at it. But at the end of the day, I want to retire as a jazz musician. My hands are back in shape. I’m ready to make music again.
Q. Where do you find yourself after 5 years
Ans: I’m hoping you’ll find me on a concert stage. I’m also hoping that 6 months out of the year you’ll find me travelling with my wife in warmer countries. We are done with the snow season here in Canada.
I may be still consulting or sitting on a few boards. Probably investing in a few more tech start ups. I do want to do less micro work…and offer more consulting services. I’m a learn-it-all though.
So I’ll still be attending conferences and trying to scoop up the latest knowledge in tech. You can’t get lazy about that.
Q. Share something about your life other than work
Ans: First thing, is my wife Nancy. We’ve been married for 25 years. When I met her, she quit her full time job to become my music career manager. We toured the world together.
She booked all the gigs, took care of contracts, etc. She was my co-founder in Training Business Pros. Always by my side. She’s also fighting melanoma cancer. She was diagnosed in 2018.
We thought she was in the clear, but got a new diagnosis of stage 3 in spring of 2020. She is on a trial drug, and she’s doing well. So my focus right now, is on her and making sure some of her bucket list items get checked off. WE are very close to our son. He just bought a house with his girlfriend.
We live 30 minutes away. Family is everything you know. I’m very grateful for the happiness we’ve shared, and that is the greatest gift I think we’ve parted on our son. Do what you love and make sure you find a great partner in life. Happiness is important. Money will follow naturally.
Q. To whom you give credit for your success?
Ans: Nancy, my wife..is a very strong woman. Goals were important to her. Having a life purpose was always important to her. She gave me strength in times where I was weak.
I combined that with self discipline…and I created the results I never thought possible. Courage is contagious and she gave me that. Self discipline brough it home for us.
Q. Can you give us some reference for whom we should conduct an interview next and why?
Ans: You may want to talk to my son Adrian Tobey. I also find Leslie Sim very interesting…she is also a product developer and just in the throws of her start up.
She is a very humble yet decisive character. I appreciate what I’ve seen. I don’t know her personally, just through twitter and training I saw her provide.
Q. How do you reward yourself?
Ans: Cigars. Travel. Golf. Experiences with my wife.
Q. Any suggestion for WordPress beginners?
Ans: 1. Be a learn-it-all.
2. Only take advice from people that have what you want. Example: never take financial advice from someone that is broke.
3. Invest in yourself. Pay for training from sources you know and trust
4. Volunteer if you have to. Surround yourself by people you admire and have skills you want.
5. Read business books. People offer golden nuggets for you to find. If you don’t read, you’ll never find them
6. Help someone get what they want first, and you’ll get what you want.
7. It’s not easy or hard, it’s just familiar or unfamiliar. It’s your job to make it familiar.
8. Without self-discipline, you can’t change your current situation. Sorry…it takes long term thinking to create self discipline. That means, you need to reverse engineer your big goal.
9. Know what your big goal is!! Clearly define in.
10. Let everyone know what your big goal is. It creates accountability.