Author Archive for Cory Miller

You Wanna Know A Cop Like I Do?

You want to know a police officer like I do?

Then watch this … and see humans who care, who are funny, who serve and protect.

I worry about him every day. But my brother Matt is a human, with a wife, with kids, with a calling.

Watch this and see him like I do.

Love you Bub!

Lip Sync Challenge! Chris Mata your challenge has been accepted, and this is how you do it son! #lipsyncchallenge City of Ardmore – Police DepartmentPlease note: all participants are police officers.

Posted by Matt Miller on Tuesday, July 3, 2018

My New Blog Focused on Mental Health

Since I started sharing my mental health journey publicly, with this talk in 2015, and then later on through several posts here (which have become some of the most popular I’ve written), I’ve wanted a way to take that conversation further — erasing the stigma, helping others take steps to better mental health.

Additionally, I’ve realized part of my life mission and purpose is to make a meaningful, positive difference and impact in people’s lives related to their mental health, in any way I can.

So today I’m announcing Mental.Fitness … a place and space to talk about mental health and the regular, consistent activities, practices, habits, routines we can do to get and maintain good mental health, or … mental fitness.

You can read more about it on my announcement post …. but be sure to signup for the community email.

Entrepreneurs: Your Companion Guide to Maintaining Good Mental Health

Finally …. a tool, a resource has arrived for entrepreneurs on maintaining good mental health is here, written by my friend, psychologist and fellow entrepreneur Dr. Sherry Walling and her serial entrepreneur husband Rob Walling.

It’s called “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Keeping Your Sh*t Together: How to Run Your Business Without Letting it Run You.”

I wish I had had this book 10 years ago when I started iThemes. It would have helped me better navigate the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.

So I’m buying a dozen of them as gifts to my entrepreneur friends this week.

This book was written BY two of us, FOR all of us.

If you’re just starting on the entrepreneur journey or already deep on it, this book is FOR YOU (and me). Whether you’re going through a tough season of life and business … or just humming along gracefully … this book is for YOU (and me).

I think of it as a companion guide to entrepreneurship, like a survive handbook for entrepreneurs climbing their own K2s.

It’s written by a true experienced expert, but in intimate human speak, with studies and stories abounding that brings what we all know and feel out in the open, with actionable help. It hits all the big issues we deal with … from depression and loneliness to family, stress and procrastination.

Right now, it’s $3.99 on Amazon Kindle. But it’s an invaluable investment in your mental health, which makes a chill $4 seem like they’ve given you no reason not to go get it right now. (In fact, I’ve got it in paperback and Kindle versions.)

And by the way … I’m not just shilling my friend’s book. And I don’t get anything from it, other than to help other entrepreneurs know about a key guide in the often lonely, often misunderstood entrepreneurial journey.

Sherry and I met last year and we instantly hit it off. Not only is she an amazing human but she’s extremely experienced and talented professional.

We connected over our common interest in the mental health of entrepreneurs. Then we worked together on several initiatives for entrepreneurs (and their spouses) through her ZenFounder.com work and I hope to work with her again very soon.

So when she told me she was writing a book for entrepreneurs last year, I all but begged her to get it out as fast as she could as I knew so many entrepreneurs are hurting and in need of her work and help, just like I have.

In fact I recall saying to her, “We (entrepreneurs) need this in the world.”

When I started sharing My Iceberg a couple years ago, I longed to have a practical tool and resource to share with others to navigate their own Icebergs day by day.

And today … it is here.

Go get it. Use it. Reference it.

I have, I am and I will be doing the same.

P.S. — Thank you Sherry and Rob for opening up your lives and sharing your stories, experiences and expertise with your fellow entrepreneurs. Today, we’re better for it.

A Decade In Business: 10 Things That Got Us Here

In honor of our 10 year anniversary at iThemes this month, I looked back and reflected on what I’ve learned, that has made the most impact to our success and longevity in business.

Here goes:

1. It’s all about people.

The real reward in business is people.

Profit is awesome and kind of essential. But the people make it fun, joyful and special.

None of this would have happened without people, beside me, behind me, often in front of me. The ones who’ve done the overwhelming bulk of the work to get us here.

And it can’t just be any people … they have to be really, really, really good, committed, passionate, talented people.

The ones who care. The ones who love what they do and who they do it with and for.

When you get people like that the thing you must do is find out how to set them free and get the hell out of the way.

So invest in people. They will invest in you. Richly.

When you invest in people and they blossom and bloom before your eyes …. that’s what has made these 10 years so incredible.

In 20-30 years from now, when I look back at this decade at iThemes, the things I’ll remember are the people I’ve walked with, fought with (and for) and the things we did together.

Caring for, protecting, loving on, coaching, mentoring people is a big investment but one of the best I’ve made. It also makes you a magnet for more good people.

And frankly, it’s just the right thing to do.

2. Find your sidekick, fast.

For the first couple years of business, I didn’t have a sidekick. One who would make me better. One who was strong where I was weak, weak where I was strong. One that completed the picture for me as a leader and manager.

And truly I’ve learned … having a sidekick means you don’t walk alone. You don’t shoulder everything on your own. You don’t make decisions in an echo chamber. You don’t fight alone. And that person just makes you better. And what you’re doing together exponentially better.

Matt is my sidekick. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better partner. He is the definition of the ideal sidekick.

We met each other over 12 years ago now as friends. Then he started working with me … and eventually I named him the Chief Operating Officer.

Looking back, one of the smartest decisions I’ve made in business that has translated to our success and my happiness.

He’s not even 30 years old … but he’s an incredible leader, manager, all around Swiss Army knife. Those who know him and what he can do are jealous I have him. Those who hear about him, want to meet him. For good reason.

For years, we’d simply would use the hashtag #pals in our chats or texts to summarize our friendship and partnership when the going got tough (and it often has).

In the most recent season of time, we’ve got a new one … #backtoback.

Back to back is when you’re surrounded by an overwhelming force. You’re outgunned. You’re outmanned. It’s just you two against the world … you go back to back and fight your way out. Together.

He’s had my back. I’ve had his back. And I can’t imagine getting him without him.

3. Be early.

When I stated iThemes in January 2008, we were one of the first commercial WordPress product shops out there (starting with WordPress themes). We launched at a critical time in WordPress. The right moment. The right time. And we were EARLY.

I can’t overstate the momentum that gave us for the last 10 years. Mostly, I’ve just tried to keep riding that and using that momentum, adding more to it, to become a force that helped us arrive here.

It means more people know us, like us, trust us because we’ve had a lot of time to do it all and we were, yes, EARLY.

Being early was crucial for us, although so many others were not “early” and still have had great success too.

For us, though, we have used it and keep using it.

4. Be lucky.

I like to think of myself as a smart guy … but I know I’m a very lucky guy too.

I’ve joked with our team that if I wrote a book about the history of iThemes it would be called “Stumbling Successfully.”

We’ve made a ton of mistakes. But we’ve also been lucky and then made our own luck by doing good, working hard, taking care of people and not giving up.

We want to keep being lucky, which means we’re open to opportunities and will pursue them backed by hard work.

5. Email marketing was/is our secret sauce.

It feels weird to throw this in here, but it’s so true. We have used email marketing since the beginning, and only amped up how we do it every year to be better and better.

But if you were to see a chart of our sales over 10 years … I could show you when we sent out emails.

We used it when others neglected or thought it was vile black magic. But we did it right, respectfully and to the max.

6. Try not to puke on the ride, OK?

I got on this roller coaster 10 years ago. And so many times just when I think I got the ride down and know where all the big curves and drop-offs are … I find new ones.

I think of one of the key characteristics or strengths required as an entrepreneur is simply: resilience.

Being able to take a gut punch … and get up and keep fighting.

Sometimes the punch is in the face. Sometimes you’re lying face down on gravel and being dragged.

And so many times, I’ve thought, “Maybe the next action I’ll take is to just go throw up now.”

But you gotta keep going. One foot in front of the other.

Looking back at 10 years worth of key events, moments and crises, somehow I just kept going. Somehow we just kept going.

And try not to puke.

7. Seek out and cherish the people who run in, while others run out.

I’ve talked about this at length during my talks over the last couple of years.

I call my people my Life Support Team. (I talked extensively about this in the Iceberg of Life.)

They are the people who run into your life when everyone else is running out.

When you’re down, you’re crying, at your worst and maybe just want to quit …. they are ones who say, “I got ya, bro.”

So many times as the leader you’re the person charged with reassuring everyone else that “it’s going to be ok.” But sometimes, when you’re at the bottom, it really helps to hear someone else say to you …. “everything will be ok.”

There is a tomorrow. There is hope. Let’s pick you back up, brush you off and get you going again.

A huge part of that team, beyond my wife (who is my first and most critical partner) and family and friends, is my entrepreneurial peer group. Other entrepreneurs who are on a similar path, sharing the same values, and just want your best.

In times of troubles these people stand out … they stay. Right by your side. And vice versa.

8. Always be tweaking, experimenting, trying new things.

For years business friends asked, with a very puzzled looked, why we kept venturing into new products and even areas. Often failing.

Part of the answer is it’s how I’m wired. I like experimenting. I like new challenges. I like new projects. And I like diversifying.

I know how fickle this game can be. I don’t want all my eggs in one basket.

But it’s also about making sure we’re continuing to experiment, to improve so that we can keep this thing going for a long, long time.

So we try new things and fail. Mistakes are learning though and we’ve tried to learn better from those mistakes.

I think the opposite choice here is complacency.

And that’s too often the easier choice. Just to coast, put things on automatic pilot and think nothing will ever change.

Just like our sales related to emails, I can probably show you the times we got complacent and put things on cruise control. It’s very dangerous.

9. Adapt and innovate or wither and die.

If we had kept doing only what we did in 2008 … we would not be here today.

If we hadn’t adapted and innovated, stepped out, took risks, made mistakes, lost money on experiments, I firmly believe we’d be out of business.

Year after year we’ve tried to look on the horizon and see where things are going and position ourselves to stay relevant.

It’s not easy. It’s often painful. But it’s necessary. And it’s the reason why we’ve lasted 10 years.

It’s often a hard pill to swallow, especially after you’ve been through a particularly rough patch and things are going well.

But if we were watching on the horizon and sensing the changes, we could have easily gotten consumed by them.

10. Just be good people.

This one is epicly simple: Just be freakin’ nice, generous, gracious, humble, helpful people!

I think it’s wired into my DNA and how I was raised … but I’ve always wanted to just be the good ole small town Oklahoma boy to everyone around me.

Ready to help. Ready to listen. Open to possibility. Open to sharing. Open to connecting.

And I think it’s been a huge part of our success here.

When others stirred up controversy, or choose to be the antagonist … I simply choose to be who I am — a good, generous guy to others (including many of our competitors).

I believe it’s the reason people want to do business with us today, whether that’s partnering with us, promoting us or coming to work with us.

***

So there’s my ten. The same ten I’d bet on to get us to through to the second decade.

18 Runs, 2 Swims And My Physical Health Support Group

It’s been way too long since I’ve done an update here about my physical health journey and so I took some time to catch you up. Here goes:

Raulks (Run/Walks)

“Rualks” is my new word for run/walks that I do. I always say, “I went for a run” and people mistake it for me running a solid X miles or X minutes. But it really means I walk and then run, then walk, then run, and on and on. Intervals of walking and running as I’m still mostly doing my 5K Runner app for my running exercise routines.

Here are some summary stats for my raulks, which have been a blast and a bit addicting:

  • Raulked 18 times in 46 days
  • Roughly averaging a rualk around every 2.5 days, which was inspiring and confirming to me
  • Most are around 30 minutes, going for around 2 miles in total
  • Raulked with a variety of people, which was something I hadn’t planned on but sincerely love
  • Raulked in a variety of places:
    • Around two State Capitols (Oklahoma and California)
    • Multiple states again (Minnesota, California) and even out of the country (Mexico)
  • Did a true trail run for the first time, which was a BLAST, and I want to do that more
  • Raulked in 47 degree weather, which is likely the most I can tolerate I think. (I’ve been spoiled by such great weather as I’ve started to run)

Here are the runs I’ve done since my last full post on Sept. 6, roughly.

Running Clinic

I attended OKC’s Red Coyote’s Running Clinic on Sept. 23 and learned SO much about how to run, how to stretch and some routines to do. It really changed the way I run in such a good way. I think it’ll help me prevent injuries.

Highly recommend taking a running clinic near you!

Better Documenting

Doing this blog post today, I had to go back and actually look at what I’ve done for the past 45+ days and I gotta say, it was inspiring. It feels like work to document everything but it’s got an incredible inspiring effect on me.

I typically try to take a private selfish during my exercises and post them to my private journal. And I also post updates on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. But it’s not the same as I get here when I do these digest posts.

And if I had to start over, I would have tracked ALL my actual runs in one app/journal from beginning. And right now that app would be: MapMyRun. I lost seeing the actual route I took on my rualks. And it’s been a quasi-journal for me, although I end up taking screenshots of the routes and posting to my journal.

But writing this post, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t posted anything here earlier. If anything it gave me a baseline of all I’ve done and revealed some interesting things about why this has actually been a WHOLE LOT OF FUN.

I need to do better documenting … and more scheduled digests like these. They are inspiring to me, if anything.

My Newest Adventure: Swimming

Since it is starting to get colder and I’m not especially excited about running in the frigid Oklahoma winter, I decided to explore swimming. It has numerous health benefits, so I pinged my brother Travis, who is a phenomenal swimmer and in another life would have trained to be a Navy SEAL.

After much research and exploration of what I thought would work for me, I found a gym near our office with a swimming pool and got a tour and a 7-day free pass to explore. Here is what I’ve done so far:

  • Bought some awesome Michael Phelps goggles. And start organizing my Tom Bihn gym bag. Might have another post on how I’m trying to become uber-efficient at getting in and out of the pool and back to the office later.
  • Oct. 20 — My brother Travis drove down from Tulsa to OKC to do his signature “Swimming Bootcamp” with me. What this really meant is that my brother got to haze his older brother for 30 minutes in the pool. My goal was to learn some techniques and routines to do for 30 minutes. He kicked my butt, throughly, and, yes, like all rascal brothers pushed me in the pool a couple of times. He never let me stop moving either. It was a great learning experience: 1. I know what to do in the pool. and 2. Never ask Trav to coach with me again. Just kidding! Thank you so much brother!
  • Oct. 24 — went for my second swim. It felt great. Although the pool was crowded, I got in a 30-minute swim, with 5 minutes on each end for warm up and cooldown and tried to never stop moving in the pool. When I got to the deep end, I treaded water as much as I could until I got my breath back. In the shallow end I walked against the water and started swimming when I could. Incredible workout. 30 minutes after I was out of the pool I was still sweating. I can’t wait to go back and will be buying a monthly membership.

Bicycling

Haven’t bicycled yet … but Lindsey and I got fitted for a bicycle this month and are seriously contemplating buying bikes in the spring.

My Private, Online Physical Health Support Group

Another huge milestone for me on my journey to physical health.

At the beginning of September, I put out a simple tweet and blog post asking if anyone else wanted to join me for an online support and accountability group focused only on physical health. After sharing my journey for the past couples of months, it was surprising how many people said, “I need to get started now too.”

And after talking for the last couple of years about how my entrepreneurial groups have impacted my life so much, I realized I desperately needed a group for support and accountability in this area.

To my excitement, 7 other people asked to join me in this group, with our first meeting on Sept. 11, 2017, with a simple 8-week commitment.

So, with some basic rules (absolute confidentiality, show up, share highs and lows), we started with Zoom meetings on Monday nights and it quickly grew to a Slack group, that has channels for Activity, Food, Tools, Updates, where we share our successes and struggles and tips that are working for us.

We’re now on our sixth week and although some (including myself) have had to miss a couple of Zoom meetings, we are doing daily and weekly checkins via Slack. (We’ll see what the interest in our group is to continue on in two weeks and I’ll report back here on that.)

It’s been incredibly helpful for me.

I know I’m not alone. There are others on the same journey, with the same or similar obstacles, but we’re here to cheer each other on.

We’ve lost weight together. We’ve start moving more together. We’ve had setbacks together. We have wins togethers. And I feel incredibly inspired to keep going on my own journey, with our little group.

But I asked our private group via Slack for a couple of quick blurbs about how their experience in the support group has helped them and this is what they said (anonymously):

“Joining this group has given me the courage to take the necessary steps to ensure I’m around for my wife, my kids and myself. It’s taken away the fear of talking about my bad habits and fostered a commitment to pursuing better ones and a community that provides encouragement, feedback, and accountability. And I’ve lost 15 pounds so far.”

“Being part of this group has helped keep me accountable, not just to my wife, but also to a group of friends. When I wanted to start something new, if I stopped without explaining why, I was called out on it. Very helpful that we’re all in this journey together.”

“Working at home, for myself with an infant at home makes it pretty hard to want to stay healthy. Luckily, this group has helped me. I still have some trouble with snacking, but I’m so much more active, I drink more water, and I pause often to think, ‘Is this something I’d be happy to tell the group I did?’”

“I don’t think without the group that I would be taking my meal planning as seriously. It also helped while at a conference recently to know that I had some like-minded people around me to hold me accountable and to cheer me on.”

“Success for me is oftentimes based on my ability to focus. Joining this fitness group gives me the nudge I need to make my fitness goals a part of my every day concerns, Knowing that I will be checking in regularly with the group keeps me motivated. I also love that I share my progress throughout the week with others. I know I always have a cheering section. I’ve lost 15lbs and have established some really good habits because of the group.”

***

OK, that’s my report for now. I’ll try to do this more often and not just on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.