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Today we hear from Jason Resnick. As is so often the case with this podcast, it touches on so many areas of Jason’s life.
We go right back to the beginning and learn about his childhood fascination with technology. How this meant that he spent quite long periods of time by himself, playing with his gadgets. We also talk about how his parents divorse affected him, both in the past and now.
We then jump forward and get into a discussion about how he has coped with episodes of depression and how he has been able to get support from himself and his close family.
So this is a trigger warning that in this episode we discuss depression and divorce.
Interviewed by Nathan Wrigley.
And remember… Together we can #PressForward
Featured on this podcast:
Nathan Wrigley: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 26 of the PressForward podcast. I’m Nathan Wrigley and I’d like to thank you for joining us again. And if this is your first time with us, I hope that you liked it and that you find it useful. I suppose that 26 episodes is a milestone of sortss half a year. Wow, where did the time go?
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We’re going to be talking to Jason Resnick. But before that, let me tell you a little bit about why we’re making this podcast.
The PressForward podcast is created by WP and UP. We’re a non-profit working in the word, press space to help you your colleagues. In fact anyone the work is just beginning and today. I want to ask you for your help. We’re running a campaign called hashtag never give up. You see the services that WP and UP provides are incredibly valuable.
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Enjoy a better web hosting experience for your WordPress website backed by 24/7 expert support and we thank green Geeks for helping us to put on the PressForward podcast today. We hear from Jason Resnick as is so often the case with this podcast it touches on many areas of Jason’s life. We go right back to the beginning and learn about his childhood fascination with technology how this meant that he spent quite long periods of time by himself playing with his gadgets.
We also talked about how his parents divorce affected him both in the past and now. We then jump forwards and get into a discussion about how he has coped with episodes of depression and how he has been able to get support from himself. And his close family. So this is a trigger warning that this episode discusses depression and divorce and so without further ado Jason Resnick. Please introduce yourself.
Jason Resnick: [00:04:39] Hey, my name is Jason Resnick. I am a web developer and also online coach and Mentor for other web developers and designers. I’ve run my own business at res.com. That’s with threesies. By the way for the past nine years and I. Established online businesses get more customers get more repeat customers and build raving fans through behavioral marketing and email Automation.
And as I said, I also helped other developers and designers focusing on their specialty so that they can build predictable income so that they can build a business around the de life that they.
So Jason works with the web and has done for many years. He’s got a background in development, but also has an interest in working with other developers to assist the marketing themselves.
I wanted to know if Jason worked with WordPress exclusively all with anything that was on the
internet. I definitely work with WordPress for the most part specifically woocommerce. My really niche down on that and I work with convertkit and drip specifically in the email automation side of things.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:05:56] I want you to rewind Jason story and start right near the beginning when I was at school. I was into the technology side of things. I want you to have the latest digital watch and the calculator with the most buttons. I’m sure that many of you can identify with this. Perhaps Jason can too.
Jason Resnick: [00:06:18] I think I was always a geek at some level. I was a unique one though because I was very athletic. So I played a lot of sports and and in school as you know, as teenagers, sometimes you fall into one camper another I told the line between the two and so now that you you know now that I think about it and reflecting back on it. There’s a few things in my life where I’ve told the line and Blended well and has served me.
Well, so technology for me has always been a big part of my life. I was a video game geek or addict if you will for as a kid. Yeah played I love baseball. That’s my sport still, you know played hockey basketball. But yeah, I mean, I skateboarded aggressive inline, you know, I was I’m still active.
Yeah, I’m active with my children as well. But you know being a geek I play with Arduino boards and things of that nature and you know with my nephew I build these I just there I think the company’s called little bits and they are like these kits that magnetized together but each little. Part is like a light or a switch or a some sort of mechanism that kind of when you put them all together.
They do things and so, you know, I like to spend time obviously with my nephew but as my son’s grow. Yeah, they’re my oldest one is to at this point in time, but as they grow up if that’s something of interest to them. I’d love to explore that with them as well. I was always very I had like I still do a very much of an engineer mindset.
And how my brain works I was like to try to explore that like how things work and reverse-engineer them and break them and put them back together and things of that nature. And so yeah, I mean while I loved all the sports that I played I’d knew I’m not going to become a professional but you know for me I mean through High School.
To be quite honest with you. And this was the early 90s. My father was essentially absent at this point in time my parents were divorced and you know with a single mom like college for me was it was going to be a huge expense in burden on the family essentially, you know, I pulled good grades. So I kind of just went to wear gravitated towards the math and science.
And Engineering aspects of it. I had an older cousin that became a mechanical engineer. So his guidance kind of help me steer in that direction. But as far as what I wanted to do in high school, I did had no clue like there was I was like, I guess I could be mechanical engineer because Steve was and I kind of had the same, you know liked Math and Science and such.
Yeah, even at that time the internet wasn’t even a thing, you know, so like I had no idea and that didn’t come around until a couple of years into college where the internet was even a thing like you could even make a webpage and such and the I kind of steered in that direction but technology for me.
I knew at a very young age even I distinctly remember. When I was 14, I was at work at a fabric store. Yeah, that’s where every 14 year old boy wants to be right. I was working at a fabric store sitting on the on the floor organizing zippers. I believe it was I said to myself I just as an adult. I want to be in control of my own time and not do wake up everyday loathing something that I have to do that day.
And so I knew at that young age that at least I wanted some sort of time for you to more flexibility or control in my life to be able to do the things that I wanted to do. Now at that time. I had no idea what that meant. Really what that was going to look like. But as I progressed through high school and college and such and the Advent of the internet and I was like, hey, I intentionally could use that or learn more about that and if I can sit on a laptop whole day and work from home on my couch and make a business out of that then awesome. Let me see if I could make this happen.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:10:21] Jason mentioned that he knew from an early age that he wanted to sit with a laptop and worked his own schedule. This sounds like a great model and for many people it is, but it’s not for all of us.
Some of us are required to work with the computer most of the day, but would rather that they did not have to they might desire to have a little more variety in their day WP and up recently carried out a survey. And whilst there’s no time here for a full discussion. It turns out that the WordPress Community do have mental health concerns in excess of the average.
I’m going to wrap this next sentence up with so many caveats. Because I don’t really know what it means but I asked Jason if he thought that the kind of people who love Tech other kind of people who might not take the time to ensure that their day has enough non screen variety in it.
Jason Resnick: [00:11:22] Yeah, I think so. I think that probably plays into it a lot. I mean obviously if it’s mental health a lot of that. I mean, I went through a couple of different aspects of poor mental health, you know over the course of my life and it’s definitely a selfish thing. You know, you’re very inclusive on yourself. You become reclusive right like, you know, push everybody away or you kind of put up this facade that everything is okay.
But in your own mind you’d like you just want to scream and so I think it’s certainly in our space one. It’s a lonely space right like, you know, we’re having a conversation, you know on this podcast, but most of the minutes of my day. Is me and my office with a screen in front of me, even on a full-time job when you go to a full-time job and you have that at least you have your neighbor at the next desk or you go to lunch or do you have that social interaction when we work for our own businesses as.
It whether they were Freelancers or designers and developers in a virtual agency. There’s this aspect of loneliness that you have to be aware of and a lot of us are introverts and we’re comfortable in that space. But as humans we need that social interaction and like I said, I went through a couple of different.
The things you know, I went through a real bad depression in high school when my parents were getting divorced and all that and back then I didn’t even know I was a shy kid, you know, I was small. My nickname was runt. Right? Like I’m while I embraced that but my, you know, my demeanor there was very closed.
And so I was in my own Head Thought really dark thoughts and things of that nature, but it was more of a period of time where I was really closed off and people didn’t even see it really because of my nature so until the point at which my friend at that time found a note that I had written to my mother.
That I’ve never delivered obviously, but it was when I was gone essentially and so my friend found this note in my room and then he showed it to me cuz what’s this? Any kind of like talk me through some stuff and we explored some sort of his he his parents were going through a divorce. And so there was a lot of things there are a lot of common elements that we could speak to you, but it was just like, you know, I’m still thankful to this day for him because that he just happened to find this note.
And so it’s such a selfish thing that you know, you do these things as as people that only you know about. And you think about you dwell on and you especially nowadays like we want to celebrate and show everybody, you know on the Instagram and Facebook and photos and all these things the great things that are happening, but we hold back the bad things and so we dwell on them.
By ourselves when there’s a lot of people that are going through it and it’s a tough thing.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:14:21] When I was at school, there was an expectation that you would be willing to mingle with the other children in your class. There were hundreds of other children, and there was very little in the way of opportunity to have time alone.
This is after all a class made of many children and they’re always occupying the same space when I went home though, things were different. There was no need to mingle to that extent and I really enjoyed some quieter time now that I look back on it. I think that for me I became a bit of an introvert during this time.
Then when I was older one day school stopped and I suddenly found that I did not have the social set up forced upon me. I guess I’m talking about whether or not introverts and extroverts learn this behavior from an early age.
Jason Resnick: [00:15:18] I had a conversation with Janelle Allen and you know, she’s she has a podcast we were talking about introvert versus extrovert would she’s mentioned and to this day is awesome because I always called myself that I’m an introvert right and the fact that I am.
Talking with you or have to podcasts on a couple other podcasts in the archive. You know, I’m pretty front facing to the public people. Like, how are you an introvert? What she said was you have introverted Tendencies and what that means is that you get energy by being alone. Not around other people and when she said that I was like, oh, that’s perfect.
Because even though my wedding like it took me three days. I mean we were having a room full of family and friends. I knew what each and every single person that was sitting there but yet at the same time there was anxiety around the fact that like yes while I’m the. The groom in this party and most of the people they’re looking at the bride and that’s the center of attention.
But for me, it was like I’m going to be the center of attention for this afternoon. That for me is uncomfortable. I had literally for three days like kind of get my mind wrapped around that. Up until the point of the wedding. But yeah, I’m when she said this was like, you know what that’s exactly right because I do my best work when I’m home, even when I was working full-time and we had you know flexible time to work from home.
I was more productive right? I got more energy by just being by myself when I go to conferences now. Yeah, I go to the conference’s I engage and I interact and all that but then I’m perfectly fine that once the sessions are over to go back to my room and just crash on the bed for an hour by myself.
And I don’t want to talk to anybody just to try to get my mind wrapped around. Okay. Now we’re going to go to dinner or have drinks after the fact but yeah, I mean I think you know the idea of. School and having that social interaction and then once that’s done it’s like especially for a lot of people I hear it all the time in my Feast Community.
It’s a membership Community where the developers and designers in their talk about like I want to be at my desk in front of the screen. I don’t want to talk to anybody. We’re all kind of in that technology space. For reason we enjoy getting that energy by ourselves more productive were essentially more effective when we’re by ourselves, but we still need that interaction.
There’s tons of us out there and that’s that’s why I try to Foster and feast is that there’s a community there. Uh, Everybody that’s very like-minded very behavioral driven in the same way. And so if you’re struggling with something, maybe somebody else went over encountered that same thing and how can we solve that together?
And to your point? I think it is. I think it’s something that. What we do in as business owners specifically in the technology space WordPress base things of that nature. It’s it can be very polarising. It can be here by yourself or you’re with a team. But at the same time I feel that you do have to be uncomfortable.
In social interactions and putting yourself in the social interactions just to get you know, that human the native human aspects of us being social creatures on this planet into your body.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:18:38] I wonder how many of you when asked the question. What do you really want to do tonight would answer with something like I just like to stay in.
I know that I feel this way sometimes many people feel like this most of the time and would rather stay in close proximity with those that they know well or even by themselves is this healthy though, if you’re drawn to Solitude, is this something that you need to be mindful of something that you need to guard against do we need to ensure that sometimes.
Even if it’s just once in awhile, we force ourselves out of our bubble and go and seek some
Jason Resnick: [00:19:25] interaction.
A trick that I’ve learned over the years is to just ask questions and be curious even in social situations a lot of times I think come in a mastermind group were virtual, but then we had a meet up.
And like I was like, I haven’t told my wife I’m like, I mean, I’ve talked to these people through video chat, but that’s like an hour every other week or whatever it is. And like now we’re going to be in a the same. Place for a weekend. So like what? Is that going to look? I don’t know if I could talk to these people about things and so just to be able to have a conversation it meaning ask questions be curious.
It goes a long way in Breaking that ice as Troy Dino. He says it’s always great to see that people have legs. All we know is like from our chest up. Yeah with our avatars or even on video and you know video chats and such and just to be able to you know, you mentioned word camps is that you know, I spoke at wordcamp New York.
It was funny at that time. I had a podcast it was called I was a co-host on the podcast was called WP Dev table where it’s just a bunch of Geeks talking tools and Dev and code and all the rest of it and that was kind of like my first. Podcast that I that I was managing hosting and so somebody came up to me in the hallway chat right outside the men’s room and it’s hey you’re Jason, aren’t you?
I’m like, yes, I love your podcast. I’m like, oh well, thank you very much, you know like but they it was just an icebreaker there because it was like, oh, okay. This person had no idea who this person was right? Like being a podcast host. You don’t know who. Everybody that listens to the show unless they reach out but I had no idea and it was just like this this way of which like you said, they’re carbon copy of you and he was essentially a carbon copy of me.
That was just two years behind where I was and like he was like Hey, I’m starting to get into woocommerce and he was just asking me questions and it was a nice Icebreaker there because it was like he recognized just me from the podcast, but you could just go up to somebody in. The hallway chat and say hey, you’re so-and-so from whatever plugging or I heard you on this podcast as a guest or you know, that kind of a thing just break that ice and then go into the conversation.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:21:47] During the chats that Jason and I had had before we hit record. We discussed the fact that he had gone through periods of depression. So I wanted to dig a little deeper into that. So to give some context I asked Jason to give us a background into when he first recalls feeling depressed.
Jason Resnick: [00:22:08] Yeah, I’m in as I mentioned earlier on with in high school. I that time I didn’t know it was depression but it was just me it was depression not like now looking back on it and actually having conversations with other people who deserve. Bad one and it was the stem from it was I felt torn between my parents like their divorce affected me in a way that I didn’t know at that time and I went to Dark Places about running away and all that and even worse, you know, and so it was more of a thing where it was like, okay.
I got through that. How can I reflect on that? So that that doesn’t happen again my nature I’m I lean more towards the pessimists. I died. My wife calls me a pessimist. I call myself a realist, you know for me it was at such an early age. I knew that I wanted that time Freedom that flexibility and all that that was ingrained in my head.
And so as I progressed into adulthood in the early 2000s, I went I got laid off there was that. Dot-com implosion when all those startups basically went under I was laid off from my job. And so I said, hey, I’m a web developer. I have a skill that people want maybe this is my time to try that less than two years later.
I had to go get another job because I had rent to pay and all that and while my skills were fine my development skills. My business skills were lacking and so I realized that I had to learn a lot about sales and marketing and all that. But then jump forward to 2010 I struck out on my own. I was doing freelance and full-time and it got to a point where there was only about two or three hours of sleep a day and there was a tipping point at which like hey, here’s your time to do this stuff.
So let go of the full-time and. Let’s go ahead and try this and this is just shy of two years into that. I hit this wall again where I felt very much on a hamster wheel struggling to you know, I was like, I felt like I was hitting a ceiling and I wasn’t really sure what what that was, but I really started to close off and right at that time.
I asked my. Future wife to be my wife a month later. I told her I said I think this whole thing of me doing my own thing is is a pipe dream. I think I go back and get a full time job because I’m at that when I had that conversation with her was complete burn out. Yeah. I felt like I was burning the candle at both ends not and I didn’t want to bring her into that world.
If it was just me sitting in my apartment trying to figure out how to keep the cable on that was fine, but I didn’t want her to go through that. And so, you know, she looked at me and she was like look, I know that that’s not what you want. So we’ll figure it out and I was just like wait a second what like she’s the rock.
She’s the one that wants predictability. She wants to this stability and all that. She’s always asking me like hey, what’s our plan and those kind of things and she’s telling me the complete opposite of what I thought. But she was there to support me in my dream and Neil knew that at this point in time half my life was focused in on this and so I was like, I gotta try to figure this out in some way right like but the thing was for me, it was like one I had to recognize where my headspace was and I was completely burnt I needed a break and then it was a reflection on how do I fix this?
Like how do I still go all along the dream and that was more of figuring out how to become a specialist in all and rebuild predictable income and things of that nature, but the burnout the the symptoms if you will are usually when I feel very overwhelmed like the initial signs for me are feeling of overwhelm feeling that I end each day.
That it’s hot wasn’t a productive day. Even though let’s say I did 17 different things and always thinking like I got to keep working. I got to get that next thing or something of that and those are the really my early signs and that was only because I started reflecting on that after I had that conversation with her.
I literally sat on the couch for hours at night. I wasn’t sleeping at that time my head my brain just would not rest but to a point where it was like, I got to reflect on what’s happening in my own world almost from remove myself from my body and look at me for as a person, you know, and it was weird.
It’s kind of hard to describe but it was just really a lot of self awareness of where I was at and what I was thinking what were my physical behaviors? I mean, I was drinking, you know things of that nature where it was just like I was trying to escape. But knowing that I couldn’t.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:26:52] Jason mentioned that he’s been able to understand his depression by being introspective spending time alone with himself and giving himself the time to reflect and take stock. I was curious about whether or not he had also sought support from elsewhere perhaps through a friend or an external service.
Jason Resnick: [00:27:15] I would say about 90% of it was me figuring it out and talking with my wife and friends and stuff. The thing with me was that like I’ve and I said early on that there’s a lot of different camps that I blend and for me, I’ve always been a student of human behavior.
I have a minor in Psychology from college which just happened stance. I didn’t even know until I got the diploma and I. They said I had enough credits for the planner. It was just an interesting class that I just kept on going. Right and I realized like hey, if I’m going to figure this out, I kind of need to understand me and get out of my own way a little bit and try to analyze myself and not that I’m a psychologist or anything of that nature, but it was important for me to try to figure out these things so that it didn’t repeat.
And so, you know for me, you know, the other 10% was friends. Yes, there was no professional help per se while I did talk to professionals. There wasn’t any ongoing monthly visits or anything of that nature. It was more of just like hey, I’m thinking about this, you know, like what’s your thoughts, you know and those kind of casual conversations just through connections of other people that I had met and so yeah, most of it was.
Pretty autonomous. I didn’t really think about that until you today. To be honest for me. It’s just self-awareness. A lot of it is and that’s always for me. My nature of things is like I’ve learned based off of that early time period when my parents were going through a divorce is that what came out of that depression stage of my life was.
I don’t have control over everything. There’s just some things that you have to let go up there other people and other human beings and other relationships in your life that you can’t know what’s going on in their own head that’s impossible and the relationship needs to evolve in that way where you are two individuals, but the relationship between you.
That is strong and can grow and nurture that is a two-sided Street. It needs to be both ways. And so for me, it’s like okay when I run into a problem where I’m struggling I say, okay, wait a second. This is something I can control if I can’t really affect anything that I have to let it happen. Or only work on the things that I can control and that allows that basically gives me permission to say okay, whatever if you know what I mean and like that is helped me through a lot of difficult situations over the years similarly in business.
I can only suggest certain things to clients. It’s their prerogative to take that suggestion and run with it or not and. You know if it comes down to you know, a conversation even with my sister, but me and my sister black and white cat and dog like oil and water like we are two ends of the spectrum and we’ve fought tooth and nail.
I mean when my wife was dating she even said like I don’t understand how you guys are even related right and like I know when she’s going to start going down the rabbit holes that trigger off certain emotions in me, and I said, That’s her Rabbit Hole. I may not go down that and bring it back to the original conversation that we were talking about.
And so it’s a way and it’s a mechanism that I use nowadays is like a who has control of what in this problem or situation or struggle or conversation. Just worry about yourself at this point in time.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:30:54] So Jason has explained some of the mechanisms that he uses to recognize and deal with depression and they seem to be working for him. Jason is trying to assist other Freelancers to understand themselves better so that they might be able to smooth out some of the problems that may cause anxiety. He’s trying to help people in their businesses. So that things are more predictable. Does this mean that Jason has himself overcome all of his struggles.
Jason Resnick: [00:31:23] At some point in time. I’m struggling. I think everybody does even in business as a business owner. Obviously, I’ve. Righted the ship and it’s going in the direction that I wanted to go in. I have predictable income. I know that you know, our house is going to be paid for our bills are going to be ready for we have food on the table.
We can take vacations those kind of things I built the business to do that but my goals for the business shift, they change things of that nature. I mean not you know for almost a decade I’ve been. Doing Services work and while always do Services work. The goal is shifted much since my son. My first son was born to I want to help as many other people realize that their dreams and their goals because that was a goal of mine to have that time freedom and flexibility to hear his first words and see his first steps and.
Wow that has happened for me. How do I help other people because I don’t feel that I’m anything special. It’s just I figured out my path and if there are other people on a similar path, maybe I can help them and so my business is kind of in a transition where I’d like to split the business. Right and have services but also have time and leveraged assets to do more coaching and be a part of the feast community in a broader sense bring more developers and designers into that ecosystem to help them build a business that they.
Right because ultimately they didn’t build the business to work more or be in this like torment, right they built it because they either want to spend time with their family or they do want to travel or they want to work on certain kinds of projects. Whatever that thing is. I want to help as many people to do that as I possibly can.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:33:19] At some point Jason mentioned that he’s now a father. Having children is a life-changing moment. It brings new pleasures and new pressures. I wondered what had brought into Jason’s life.
Jason Resnick: [00:33:34] Focus I don’t even know what I was looking at before I thought I was focused before he was born but like I don’t know they like it and it’s funny I. Troy before we had a conversation because he just had his first son right around the same time. I have mine and we both said the same thing. We were like, I don’t know what I was doing beforehand. Like now I sit down at the keyboard. I am super focused on doing what I need to do. And once that’s done then I get out that’s good.
Because time we were talking before the podcast about sleeping in a lot of the stuff like time is the most valuable asset. For me, I don’t want to sit 16 hours a day at this desk. I have specific hours a day. Now. I have my second son. And you know, I have a split schedule where I work in the morning usually around 6:30 or 7 to about 11 and then I stopped I give my wife a break she goes and does her work for a couple of hours and then comes back and then. I go back to work for the afternoon and I stopped at dinner time that structure and that constraint if you will has allowed me to really be hyper focused on what’s important for the business.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:34:59] One of the purposes of the PressForward podcast. Is to lift the lid on topics that don’t get talked about often enough to allow people to share their stories.
So that others might listen and by listening they may gain an understanding that they’re not alone. There are other people out there who have faced the same situations that you are facing. They have found a way through and can offer support to you on your journey. Maybe that person is already in your life.
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