Today, I’m honored to introduce you to the man known only as Norcross. We met in 2010 when my online business was a mess and I needed serious help. A mutual friend connected us, and it was all sorted out over a weekend. Only later did I realize how fortunate I was.
In online circles, Norcross is regarded as one of the best and the brightest, particularly when it comes to WordPress. Nearly daily, he fields tweeted questions from around the globe, suggesting fixes, plugins, or technical particulars. If Gary V says we should seek to be useful, he could write a case study on Norcross.
For those of us looking to sort out the new world of work, Norcross shows one path to success. Be exceedingly competent in your craft and relentlessly helpful to your network. On this Labor Day, I wanted to share this special profile.
How do you define success?
For me, success is being able to set my own terms, both in business and in life. While it’s never 100% the case (the IRS isn’t interested in my ideas), having the ability to choose what clients I take, what sort of jobs I’ll do, and how I want my time to be managed is the critical element for me. If I want to work until 4 am, I do it. If I want to take a day off and hang out with my wife and kids, I do it. No one can force my hand in how my life is lived.
Was there a time when you had a different definition? What changed that?
Like a lot of folks, I figured the wife / house / car / steady corporate gig was what success meant. Well, I got all of those things and was miserable as ever. I’ve spent a good portion of my life doing things my way, and when I initially decided to ‘settle down’ and live a more normal life, I found myself constantly at odds with my own conscience. And it’s funny, because god always seems to have a way of righting these things. In a funny way, no less. So the first marriage fell apart, the first house sank (literally, as in a sinkhole began to form on the left side of it), the car broke down, and the job became unbearable (it was in finance during the market crash in 2008). So after a bit of scrambling and soul searching, I decided to go back to my first love, computers. I haven’t looked back.
Can you describe a typical day in your life?
No such thing 🙂 With 3 kids (one being home schooled), running my own business, my wife running her own business, and everything that life tends to throw at you, rarely is a day much like the one before. The only constants are that I get up between 7 and 9, drink an ungodly amount of coffee, and start writing code. I usually spend 6-10 hours a day coding, sometimes more if I’m against a deadline I need to meet, or dealing with a complex problem that I simply cannot walk away from.
Do you have any particular habits or systems that you feel are essential to your success?
I have a few. The first thing was streamlining my workflow processes. I use Asana for my project management, and wrote a small WordPress plugin that takes all the inquiries from my site’s contact form and turns them into a task. That way I know everything that has come in, and it’s in a central location that can be prioritized. From there, I can make sure that I allot the right amount of time for my projects that day, so I don’t try to cram a 6 hour task into 2. Another habit is limiting distractions. I usually keep email and twitter closed during the day while I’m working, and only check those things while I’m on my phone taking a break. Those constant ping and beeps kill my concentration enough to that I got at least an extra hour or two of “work” done each day.
Are there any habits you’re working to develop next?
I’m still getting better at managing my project load. I usually have 3 or 4 concurrent projects going at once, with different scope and requirements, at different stages of the development process. There’s always something that pops up that requires me to shift my focus at least once a day, but I’m getting better at not immediately dealing with issues, taking to heart the idea that “a failure to plan on your end doesn’t constitute an emergency on mine.”
Andrew Norcross is the founder and lead developer of Reaktiv Studios, a full-service WordPress-focused development agency with headquarters in Tampa, Florida. He’s often found on Twitter, and entertains us with pigstagrams of Daisy.