Joshua McNary

Marketing Technologist

McNary Marketing & Design LLC


Do you want to see what is on my mind? I write here a number of professional, community, and personal topics. Don’t forget to chime in with a comment as well.

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Dev/Iowa: Just What An Entrepreneur Needs

July 16, 2014, Joshua McNary1 Comment

On Wednesday, July 9, 2014 I was asked to come and address a classroom of aspiring developers at Dev/Iowa, presented by the University of Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. The students have heard from a number of professionals in the software/web development arena this summer, so my talk took a look at the “business” side of the equation.

Let’s talk business

In a talk titled “Amazing work & delighting your clients: Client Expectations, Project Scopes, & Communication Realities”, I addressed the following questions, how do you:

  • * understand the clients real needs vs. their perceived needs?
  • * ensure the final layout/pages/UX/design of the project meets the expectations of the client?
  • * scope and estimate a project cost so you aren’t taken advantage of?
  • * scope and estimate a project cost so you don’t take taken advantage of your client?
  • * communicate with your client during the project in a transparent manner?  
  • * keep yourself, your team, and your client on task during the project?

photo 1-1

The students had a number of questions and seemed interested in not only how they can code better, but how to ensure they get a fair rate and provide fair work in return for that rate.  It was great to see, be asked to speak, and see the next crop of local developers charting a course.

After the session, they ask the mentors to stick around and learn about the student projects. While getting brief demos, I was able to share a few nuggets of information to most of the project teams. Each were working on a two week sprint project for a local business, startup, or non-profit.

Developer void, ideas voided

The level of development needed for each of the student project varied, but what was obvious to me was the desperate need for more training like this.  Each of the entities who had their project being worked on by these students needed some kind of solution to a technical problem – not unlike my Marketing Technology clients – and they simply do not know where to turn.

Development – or even tech savvy – skills are hard to get in Iowa (or anywhere), yet the great ideas, possibilities, and opportunities are endless in the minds of so many around us.  As has been discussed numerous times at Newbo Open Coffee Club #NBOCC (which I currently host), computer software and development talent is lacking in general. With seemingly everyone having an idea for an “app” there has to be some amazing ideas laying dormant if not only for a developer to allow the visionary to help validate it.

photo 3-1

More developers coming!

Thanks to Dev/Iowa for asking me to be a mentor and I look forward to the continued evolution of this program leading to more skilled professionals in our community, feeding our great ideas.  In the meantime, I’ll be attending the July 30th Demo Day from 3-5 p.m. at the THINC Lab, 122 E. Market St., Iowa City to celebrate the students’ success as they highlight their portfolios and final projects. Join me there and follow Dev/Iowa via email or social media to stay in the loop. I understand this Fall there will be some new format programming for developers of all levels which will be a great addition.

Now go code something awesome!

Need some help with your technology related project? Have any questions? Feel free to contact me.

The workplace is changing: Workplace Revolution

June 8, 2014, Joshua McNary0 Comments

I’ve worked in non-profit, corporate, and now self-employment environments in the last 15 or so years and during this time one thing has remained true: change. Aggressive change has been seen in technology, services, client needs, and employee work. Perhaps the largest changes has been in our workplace expectations – including mine.

This week in Cedar Rapids an all-star cast of speakers, both local and nationally known, will meet and speak on the “Workplace Revolution. This event appears to be my kind of topic – seeing as how I have been a “trouble maker” at my past employers with regards to this important topic. During my tenures, I pushed for continued pursuit of employee growth, forward thinking workplace cultures, and bringing the best of the new work worlds’ aspects to the organizations I have been blessed to be a part of. Now, as a self-employed entrepreneur, my role is different yet it echoes much the same for myself and my clients looking to progress their businesses.

The folks producing this new event were kind enough to interview me and include me in their pre-event video. I was there representing Cedar Rapids entrepreneurs and “Millennials” who have a prospective on life and work that often comes down to just wanting to live. I’m glad they also clipped my comment on the “abundance mentality.” I truly believe we can all make the pie larger and thereby have more slices to go around if we look to the new ways of doing business rather then the old. You can watch the short flick here.

Consider joining me at the Workplace Revolution event this week if you are in the Eastern Iowa region. If you are not in the area, I’ll try to tweet out some thoughts during the event.

Learning to trust, collaborate, be authentic, understand, believe, & do at EntreFEST 2014

May 20, 2014, Joshua McNary7 Comments
Thanks to Bart Schmitz (@bschmitz14) for snapping this photo of me presenting "Taking Your Email Inbox From Ridiculous To Inbox Zero" on Thursday of EntreFEST. Download the slides of that talk.

Last week in Iowa City, EntreFEST 2014 entertained around 500 entrepreneurs, business people, and community members who shared an interest in innovative business ideas from high tech-startups to messy pig farming.

Uniquely Iowan

From the speakers, to the venue, to the food, to the wonderful people this event had the flavor of the Iowa entrepreneurial community I am proud to be part of. I thoroughly enjoyed the event, which was produced by my friends at Seed Here (who also asked me to help with a few things).

The event was the first in Iowa I’ve seen which included some unique aspects I’ve seen at conferences I attended on the coasts (sofa stage interviews with keynotes, off-the-wall interaction/ice breakers/social times, centering around something other than a conference center [used Iowa City's Ped Mall], etc.). Plus, the speakers and topics throughout were so vast the biggest problem was what to attend during each session. There were 2-4 sessions during each breakout which I wish I could have attended.

Trust, collaboration, authenticity, understand, believe, do

During a session on sales tactics called “The Secrets of Getting To ‘Yes’” with Barry Boyer (Van Meter Industrial) I made a note of the themes I was already starting to hear from that session and the event as a whole: Trust, collaboration, authenticity, understand, believe, do.

To be an entrepreneur and to put yourself out there you need to trust yourself and others.  To do so you need to collaborate, seek to understand those around you, and in doing so be authentic to yourself in your relations.  The trick is, even when you master these challenges, you then have to believe in yourself and accomplish your mission by doing.

Valuable Reassurance

No wonder so few choose to be entrepreneurs and why even less are wildly successful.  The lofty list of values I noted are difficult, even for the largest of the optimists, to continually believe in and accomplish when you are on the lonely road of starting your own business.

The wonder of EntreFEST and any such gatherings of entrepreneurs is when we are together something magical happens.  First, we believe.  Then we understand those around us are just like us.  We in turn get in touch with our authentic selves, goals, and dream.  We then take advantage of the opportunity to collaborate on new ideas, trusting those around us to give valuable feedback.

This mix of trust, collaboration, authenticity, understanding, and belief provided a valuable boost of hope into all the entrepreneurs attending the event.  I went into the event knowing it would be a great networking opportunity (which is was) but it also was a wonderful reassurance I am in the right place in my life.  I am an entrepreneur and proud of it!

Now it is time to do

The true test of all of this activity will now turn to the last of the themes I noted: do.  I am looking forward to acting on many of the ideas I learned at the event as well as using the inspiration I experienced to explore ways to develop other ideas I have been considering.  Further, I’ll be curious to see what progress my fellow attendees make during the coming year (I made a Twitter List to keep an eye on them) and when we reconvene in 2015.

Would you like the slides from my EntreFEST talk “Taking Your Email Inbox From Ridiculous To Inbox Zero”? Download the slide deck to learn the six step process to Inbox Zero, how to quickly process your email, & get extra resource slides. Best of all, it is free!

Don’t Miss EntreFEST Next Week & Learn Inbox Zero From Me

May 7, 2014, Joshua McNary0 Comments

Next week on May 14-16, 2014, you’ll want to make plans to attend Iowa’s entrepreneurial and business innovation mecca, EntreFEST 2014 in Iowa City, Iowa. This year’s program is again produced by my friends Amanda West and Andy Stoll (both of Seed Here Studio). Andy has been quoted stating EntreFEST as “If #SXSW had a half-brother in Iowa.” If EntreFEST lives up to anywhere near such a high bar for conference innovation and content, it will be amazing. The best part is, I think the event will. Don’t miss it!

Speakers, events, & sessions

  • * Nate Kaeding, Founding Partner, Short’s Burger & Shine (& Former NFL kicker)
  • * Scott Bush, founder and president, Templeton Rye Spirits
  • * Carl Blake, creator of the World’s Perfect Pig
  • * Ben Gilbert, outgoing director, Microsoft’s Innovation Garage
  • * Lydia Brown, Skywalk Group and Ascent
  • * Small Business & General Audience Track
  • High-growth Startups Track
  • Women Entrepreneurs Track
  • Economic Development & Startup Communities Track
  • Corporate Innovation Track
  • * The EntreFEST Street Festival
  • * Dream Big, Grow Here State Finals
  • And many, many more…

See the full and amazing schedule.

Solve your overflowing email inbox with my talk at EntreFEST

Are you buried in email? Who isn’t? People who follow the principles of Inbox Zero – that’s who! Become one of these email ninjas by joining me Thursday, May 15th from 10:45-11:35am in the Sheraton – Dean Ballroom C for “Taking Your Email Inbox From Ridiculous To Inbox Zero.”  This is a discussion of the Inbox Zero methodology and how to get your inbox under control using David Allen’s GTD methods and borrowing from Merlin Mann’s advocacy of Inbox Zero. Come, learn, and get control of your email.

Core to the ideas of this email management method and to be discussed in full at the talk:

  • * Getting a system for your email – you control it vs. it (and the people sending you the email) controlling you
  • * Touch all email and process it once
  • * Create a task and archive folder to process email to
  • * Learn to use your email client’s search to find old stuff
  • * Set specific times of day for email and don’t get distracted by it others times of day
  • * And many more tips!

Awesome other features!

In addition to the creative Street Festival and utilizing the Iowa City Ped Mall as the venue, EntreFEST will be packed full of other innovative event features which will set it apart and only more reason to attend.  Local Hosts, of which I am proud to be one of, have been tasked with making attendees welcome with on the fly icebreaker activities like you’ve never seen before (trust me they are cool), an Iowa Ecosystem Map, and fun/informative badge stickers so you can add flair to your event ID (which I developed for the event). This is not going to be just be “any other conference”!

I helped develop the 2014 EntreFEST badge stickers to help you highlight your entrepreneurial talents & values. Find these (and many others) near the registration area when you check in!

I developed these 2014 EntreFEST badge stickers to help you highlight your entrepreneurial talents & values. Find these (and many others) near the registration area when you check in and add them to your badge!

Get a discount, register now

If you have not already signed up, you can still get a $10 discount on your registration by using the code JOSHSENTME when signing up. You can book your slot at the EntreFEST site. It is really a steal even at full ticket price and even more so when you get a discount!

Don’t miss this event if you are anywhere near Iowa City, Iowa. I’ll see you there!

Need some help with your Marketing Technology? Have any questions? Would you like an audit of your situation for ways it can be improved? Feel free to contact me.

Duo of Security Issues: IE & AOL

April 29, 2014, Joshua McNary0 Comments
On April 30, 2014 at 10:24am, you can hear me live on 600 WMT-AM talking this week’s Internet Explorer & AOL security hacks with Doug Wagner. Listen: http://i.mcnary.me/QXVQZt

This week both Microsoft and AOL noted security issues which could have effected you if you use Internet Explorer or AOL.

Internet Explorer Hack

Any edition of Internet Explorer (IE) 6-11 is vulnerable to this new hack where visiting a booby-trapped site or image will allow a 3rd party user privileges to control the local computer account.  The bad guys then can install malware, make new user accounts, etc. Really ugly stuff. The hack relies on Internet Explorer and Adobe Flash working together. The issue is severe enough that The US Department of Homeland Security is advising Americans from using IE until a fix is out. The best thing to do is switch browsers to Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. If you must use IE for a specific computer or business purpose, be sure to disable Flash. There are some more technical fixes possible, but they are complicated for the average user – see Microsoft’s website.

More info:

AOL Account Data Breach

AOL users account email addresses, postal addresses, address book contact information, encrypted passwords and encrypted answers to security questions may have been collected by hackers who got into AOL’s systems.  The issue became apparent when approximately 2% of AOL’s millions of users’ email addresses sent spoofed emails.  These spoofs make it look like the mail came from you, usually with links to spam or leading to viruses to your friends. AOL is asking users to reset their password. You might also tell friends to which for any odd email from your AOL address. If you don’t have AOL, be leery of any odd email from any AOL addresses.

More info:

It is a dangerous tech world out there. Stay informed on any issues in security and use good computing habits. More than anything else, don’t let the hackers win! Don’t stop using tech because of such attacks; if you are smart/informed you can avoid many security issues.

Need some help with your technology security? Have any questions? Would you like an audit of your situation for ways it can be improved? Feel free to contact me.

Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids “The Movie” from Cycle Studios

April 23, 2014, Joshua McNary0 Comments
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A few weeks back, our pals over at Cycle Studios released their short film documenting this Winter’s first ever Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids. I can say from firsthand experience, Will Lenzen Jr. and his team were all over the event, start to finish, recording all elements of the happenings. I have no idea how they were able to edit all of that content down into 8 minutes and 24 seconds.

The film is great and does a nice job to highlight the essence of the weekend. As I said of the weekend, it was really a special time allowing for work in ways not normally seen. Yours truly appears a few times, prior to the event talking about my expectations for the weekend and after my weekend’s team (Major Trading Cards, now Turnstile Cards) won 1st prize. I suppose my off-the-cuff comments are one of the story arcs.

Check out the piece over on Vimeo and please do share. Hopefully it will encourage you and everyone you know to join us for the next Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids to be held October 3-5, 2014. Mark your calendars.

“Heartbleed & Password Practices” radio appearance on WMT600AM

April 16, 2014, Joshua McNary0 Comments

On Monday, April 14, I made an appearance on WMT600AM radio out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This is the second time I was on Doug Wagner‘s new show called “What’s Happening?” Doug has me on to discuss marketing and technology topics; this time we talked about the Heartbleed computer security bug and password security for your various accounts.  It was fun and I hope folks gained insight in staying safe online from listening to it.

The audio is now online in case you missed it. You can listen to via the embed below (I’m the first guest in the hour) or you can download a MP3 clip of just my appearance.  Also, I created my own Heartbleed bug link page to help you consider changing your passwords in response to the issue and also encourage you to start to use better password practices.

If I’m on with Doug again in the future I’ll try to post it out with some notice on my Twitter account, so keep an eye there.

Need some help with your Marketing Technology? Have any questions? Would you like an audit of your situation for ways it can be improved? Feel free to contact me.

WordPress Meetup (& Google Hangout) with WordPress Theme Developer Konstantin Obenland

April 14, 2014, Joshua McNary0 Comments

At this week’s Creative Corridor WordPress Meetup on April 16, 2014 at 5:15PM Central, the third in our so far popular series, we have a special treat. Christoph Trappe, the Meetup’s co-founder, met one of WordPress’s default theme developers, Konstantin Obenland, at WordCamp St. Louis 2014. When the March Meetup discussed ideas for discussion for April’s event, Christoph said “why don’t I ask Konstantin if he’d join us via Google Hangout.” The wonderful thing about today’s connected culture and digital tools is such a suggestion is plausible! Within days Konstantin agreed to join us.

Konstantin Obenland, whom is a Professional Scrum Master and Certified Scrum Product Owner, is a Code Wrangler at @Automattic (thee major WordPress contributor/product developer). Born and raised in Constance, Germany, Konstantin moved to Southern California in 2012. Over the last few years he worked on three default WordPress themes, Twenty Twelve, Twenty Thirteen, and Twenty Fourteen. 

It will be a great honor to have Konstantin join the Iowa Creative Corridor WordPress Meetup as our first VIP and Google Hangout guest. This is exciting for our group and we want you to join us as well! In you are in Eastern Iowa, you can join us in person by RSVP on Meetup.com or if you are not in the area or cannot otherwise make it to Cedar Rapids on the 16th, you may join us live on Google Hangout.  We’ll also plan to provide a recorded version of the event after the fact.

We hope you can join us! See you then. Click these links to get more info!

Need some help with your WordPress website? Have any questions? Would you like an audit of your situation for ways it can be improved? Feel free to contact me.

Heartbleed Hack Means You Need To Change Your Passwords

April 12, 2014, Joshua McNary2 Comments

Last week a major security breach in OpenSSL was revealed. While the term OpenSSL probably does not mean much to you, the hack does. Most all of the online services and sites you use employ OpenSSL in some way to secure your information. Depending on websites’ configurations your data, passwords, and credit cards information may have been or are now exposed.

Just because it may have been exposed does not mean you are in any immediate danger from hackers, but as precaution many web services and websites are advising you update your passwords after they patch the problems.  Below are a number of links which I found useful in considering which passwords I needed to change and which were most urgent to do so.

What You Should Do

You should change your Google/Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and Dropbox account passwords right now. Then research other sites you use whom may have been effected. 

Also, I suggest you get a password manager program to help you have unique and strong passwords for every site you use.  This Heartbleed hack is an ideal example of why you need such a system in place!

Don’t delay and regret it.  Update your passwords and consider a password manager today!  Stay save out there on the inter-webs.

Information & Links

About Heartbleed

Sites Affected (Change Your Passwords)

Test To See If A Site Is Currently Affected

Password Managers

Need some help with your technology? Feel free to contact me.

Kids coding: it is not dorky anymore, it is necessary

April 7, 2014, Joshua McNary1 Comment

Back in the day…

When I was in High School I recall signing up for a free Geocities website, a pretty dorky thing to do in the mid-nineties.  What was perhaps even more dorky was it was to create a webpage for my High School marching band’s drumline. A friend of mind and I started the site one night during a sleepover (or something) and fought for hours figuring how to get a simple image to show up via the raw HTML code we were just learning about. Eventually we got it to work, after realizing we were forgetting a trailing slash or something. Humble beginnings.  From there I went on to help with the school’s web development club in which I engaged early before school (usually 6AM?), because of course I had drumline after school.

For me, this simple start led to my teaching myself web coding throughout the rest of my High School years and continuing into college, where I also got formal graphic and web design training at Ohio University’s Visual Communication school. After some other windings in life, I found myself in my marketing leadership which has been the theme since I joined the workforce.

Code Camp Launches - CoderDojo Cedar Rapids

Fast forward about 15 years and now I have kids. The digital age is no longer in the pre-dawn stage it was when I was learning to code websites. My kids and the generations around them are expected to be very computer proficient. In the future they will likely be expected to know to how to manipulate computers in ways my generation will only marvel at.  This is where the “CoderDojo” kids coding camp comes into play. 

On April 5, 2014, a full room at the Cedar Rapids Metro Alliance held Eastern Iowa kids from pre-schoolers to teens, along with many of their parents, meeting up to start a journey not unlike mine two decades ago.  However, as seen by the excellent first time turnout of kids/parents, people obviously now understand the need for future humans who are able to code. Even when my boys join the workforce in another 15 or so years, there likely will be a dearth of skilled coders to enable the future and  some of the kids in that room will help fill the void.

Can a Five Year Old Code? Yes.

photo 4I took my five year old to the event and he was one of the youngest there. My pal David Tominsky, who I supported in getting the event started by developing a website for the chapter, encouraged kids of any age to come. We planned to have both a Sphero robot ball and Lego robot to help the younger ones to engage. However, upon some suggestion from other mentors from Iowa City’s CoderDojo, our event started with all the students, regardless of age, working with the Code.org’s Hour of Code tools. The first lesson included a simple “game” based on the characters in Angry Birds. It allowed the kids to learn the basic concepts of Computer Science with drag and drop programming involving repeat-loops, conditionals, and basic algorithms.

My pre-schooler learning to code.

My pre-schooler learning to code.

My youngin did amazing well working with the intro to programming tool. He loves to play Angry Birds, so I think this helped. At one point, as he worked through one of the puzzles almost entirely on his own, I was shocked. This lesson included math, logic, motor skills (via mouse use), and reading which he used together in ways I had never seen him do before. As one of my friends in attendance Jarod Smith noted, computer languages are not unlike foreign languages, children tend to be able to learn them better at young ages. My son proved this with his interest and display of understanding.

After we ate our brown bag lunches, the varying age/skill-level students tried out other programming tools like Tynker, Scratch, Lightbot, and Gamesalad. We also gave the kids the chance to play with the Sphero ball and Lego robot which changed up the activity style enough to keep them interested, yet still was in the realm of technology to teach them about what is possible with programming.

More Dojos To Come – Father Like Son?

The plan is to have CoderDojos in Cedar Rapids regularly into the future. The exact schedule, agendas, and lessons to be learned will be developed in time, but if you or your kids are interested, you should follow the group at http://coderdojocr.com.  The group is free to join and run by volunteers, so let the group know if you are interested in supporting us as an organizer or mentor, with ideas for programming, or as a funding sponsor.

In the meantime, I plan to keep working with my little guy and see how engaged he remains with coding. He is starting around 10 years prior to when I began to learn to code. Imagine the possibilities.

Need some help with your Marketing Technology or Coding Project? Have any questions? Feel free to contact me.