MageTalk Episode 195 – Solution Specialist Redux

Phillip sits down with Peter Manijak, Joseph Maxwell, Emily Dowd, and Caitlin Mekita and discusses everything about the new Magento 2 Certified Solution Specialist Exam.

Listen now!

1:21 Down One Host, Up Four Guests

Phillip lets us know by letting us know that Kalen will not be joining him for today’s episode, but also tells us not fear because Peter Manijak (@PeterManijak), Joseph Maxwell (@josephmaxs), Emily Dowd, and Caitlin Mekita (@CEMekita) are joining him as guests.

3:40 Why are they here?

Phillip asks Peter to talk a little bit about why this particular group of people has assembled on MageTalk today.

Peter lets us know that they all got together in Orlando and wrote an entirely new exam bank for the Magento 2 Certified Solution Specialist Exam. Say that five times fast.

4:34 A Quick Update

Peter gives a quick update on the progress the team has made since last year. They have added a Javascript Exam and a Cloud Developer Exam.

The Javascript exam is for people who know Magento and want to take advantage of their javascript skills.

They have also updated the Associate and Pro Developer Exams to include 2.3 within the past month. But don’t worry about the updates affecting your studying because 98% of the objectives are still the same.

6:08 New Quizzes on the Horizon

Peter lets us know that on June 18 through June 21 there will be an Exam Development workshop in Boston and he’s looking for some experts in Order Management to help them develop the upcoming Order Management exam.

Think you could help? Reach out to Peter.

6:55 Orlando Objectives

Phillip asks Joseph to talk about some of the objectives from the meeting in Orlando.

Joseph informs us that before the group assembled, a blueprint was formed to map out questions regarding each subject that was to be on the exam. Once they worked through the blueprint, each member picked an objective that they wanted to write questions for.

After a quick talk from Peter on best practices for writing questions, everyone set to work to start tackling their objectives. Once a question was determined a “keeper”, that objective would be crossed off the whiteboard to give everyone a quick measure of how much was still left to write.

8:48 How Far We’ve Come

Having collected all four of the original Magento certifications, Phillip asks Joseph to talk about how the recent exams differ from those that have existed in the past.

Joseph says that the old certification focused more on memorization as opposed to practical experience, but the new exam focuses more on the practical experience.

10:35 Question Relatability

Phillip points the mic to Emily and asks her to talk about some of her experiences exam from creating this exam.

Emily brings up that there were several instances where the team read each other’s questions and found them to be relatable.

Emily also discusses how they identified who a Solution Specialist was and what they did, and from there, they were able to base relevant questions on that.

13:24 Client Opinions

Phillip asks Emily what her clients feel the role of a Solution Specialist is and how Corra translates building requirements into functionality.

15:32 Post-Launch Approaches

Phillip turns to Caitlin and inquires if there were any challenges that she had to overcome while trying to characterize the right type of questions that went into the exam.

Caitlin talks about her different perspective on the approach due to the fact that her position has her work with client sites post-launch and after they have already been built. This brings maintenance and technical support into the picture but more importantly: how do you grow a site?

This post-launch perspective really rounded out the team as the majority of expertise was with pre-launch. Caitlin enlightens us with the fact that one of the biggest differences between pre-launch and post-launch is that the client is involved with post-launch.

When you have the opportunity to get hands on and do something you wouldn’t normally do, do it yourself. Don’t delegate it. That’s how you’re going to learn.

-Caitlin Mekita

19:15 A (Notso) Smooth Plug/Transition

Phillip reminds us that SWIFTotter is a sponsor of MageTalk (thanks guys!), but also that it’s a pretty amazing resource if you need to study for the certification exams.

Joseph lets us know that they are in the final stages of a new, free study guide. He also candidly tells us that practical experience is something that isn’t normally covered in study guides but has a larger focus in the upcoming guide.

23:35 Phillip Plays Devil’s Advocate

Phillip bravely asks Joseph how does someone utilize a study guide if the most important component is practical, hands-on experience. If someone is new to Magento, how can you use the study guide to navigate where you begin learning?

Joseph comes right off the bat by saying that the purpose of the study guide is to supplement existing knowledge. Magento recommends at least a year of experience working as a Solution Specialist before taking the certification exam and Joseph’s goal is to fill in the knowledge gaps that might not have been learned during that initial experience.

24:58 Practical Applications

Caitlin tells us her process on how she would use the study guide to steer her learning process and it’s such a powerful tool for self-learning.

26:19 Pre Imagine Prep Workshop

Peter asks Joseph to talk a bit about what he will be doing at Imagine. Joseph lets us know that on the Sunday before Imagine (May 12th), he will be presenting a Magento 2 Certified Solution Specialist Prep Workshop (with lunch included).

Caitlin also talks about “The Incident”.

29:44 Insider Trading? 

Phillip asks Emily to talk a little about what her preparation was before she went to the certification workshop as she has some insider knowledge from her team about what the session would be like.

Emily says that she learned the most on the first day of the workshop when she got her first submitted question torn apart by Peter.

She also goes into some detail about how Corra is implementing Solution Strategist into their organization.

33:08 A Pop Quiz?!

Peter holds a surprise pop quiz for the exam makers and asks them what are some of the things they look for when they have a question reviewed. Some examples are below.

  1. Do we care?
  2. How does it read?
  3. It is technically accurate?
  4. Is it congruent?
  5. Is it relevant?

Phillip also asks how they test questions if they trigger specific emotional responses within the individuals that are reviewing them. Do I sense some personal issues, Phillip?

Joseph ensures us that this most recent test is extremely relevant and contains things you actually need to know.

39:39 Parting Thoughts

Phillip opens up a roundtable for everyone to give their final thoughts on why certification is important.

Joseph opens up by saying that there are two aspects of certifications:

  1. It’s a great way to force yourself to learn about something by giving you an end goal.
  2. From an external perspective, others will look at your certifications and identify you as someone who knows their stuff.

Emily says that passing the certification should be held in high regard and once you pass, it will mean others will look to you for your experience and knowledge. This validation is a powerful tool in furthering your career. She also says that the certifications will boost client relations at Corra.

Caitlin’s number one takeaway from the process is how you should tackle the exam itself. She says to be brave, get in there, solve problems, get out of your comfort zone, be hands-on, and have fun. The exam is very inclusive because it serves people that are not just developers.

45:35 The MageTalk Special

Peter ends with a “MageTalk Special” by saying that anyone who passed the original Magento 2 Certification Exam that wants to take the new exam, can do so (at a tremendous discount) by following the steps below.

  1. Send an email to
  2. Reference MageTalk
  3. Mention that the passcode for the discount is MyCousinVinny



Peter Manijak (@PeterManijak), Head of Certification & Training Programs at Magento, an Adobe Company

Joseph Maxwell (@josephmaxs), Founder, SWIFTotter Solutions

Emily Dowd, Solutions Strategy Manager, Corra

Caitlin Mekita (@CEMekita), Strategic Engagement Manager, Something Digital


MageTalk Episode 194- There and Back Again (w/ Slava Kravchuk)

The boys sit down with Slava Krachuk and discuss his seven-month road trip in which he circumnavigated Africa.

Listen now!

Show Notes

Today the boys are joined by Slava Kravchuk (@slkra) from Atwix.

1:41 Today’s Episode is brought to you by…

…the MageTalk Expert Napper. Also, don’t forget to check out the rest of the items in the MageTalk Store to get your swag game on point.

2:06 Slava’s African Escapades

Today, the boys are going to chat with Slava about his recent escapades across the continent of Africa with Olena Sadoma (@OlenaSadoma).

Slava tells us that the idea manifested suddenly when he saw someone post directions on how to drive from Ukraine to South Africa.

It started with those directions, but Slava ended up circumnavigating the entire country by heading South to Capetown along the West Coast and then North back to Ukraine along the East Coast.

32,000 miles (52,000 kilometers), 1800 US gallons of diesel, 44 countries, and 7 months.

And yes, Slava converted these numbers for us. 

This entailed driving 6-7 hours, 6 days a week.

5:21 The Point of No Return

Phillip asks if there was any point of the trip when Slava felt as if he had made a mistake. Slava is delighted to let him know that that point was never reached. Slava also lets us know that in some of the more remote parts of Africa, the nearest escape point could be a five-day drive away so it’s a good thing that he never threw in the towel.

However, some of the days were hard and some of the countries were more dangerous than others. An example of this was when he entered Nigeria and travel advisories warned him not to go to cities that he had to pass through. Let’s just say that there were threats of pirates, kidnapping, and ISIS all in one territory.

12:50 A Quick History

Before they get into the reasons for the trip, Slava gives a breakdown of his history and involvement in the Magento community.

13:30 The Aim of It All

Slava goes into the mission of the trip and what he hoped to accomplish on his journey.

He ran some real-time reporting on Instagram and Facebook to try and share his impressions on every country that he visited. One of the key takeaways from this was that before this trip, Africa seemed like a single entity to Slava. He had very little knowledge of the geography of the continent or how different each county is from one another.

Slava was blown away by the differences between not only each country but from town to town. It also made Slava realize how disconnected we are from basic life and how narrow our perspective is.

15:42 The Vehicle

Kalen asks Slava about the car he took on his journey. Slava lets us know that it was a 2005 Toyota LandCruiser 79.

Slava also talks about the struggles to not stick out in a vehicle when traveling through Africa as well as some of the ways he interacted with the people.

18:18 How Do You Plan for Something Like This?

Phillip asks Slava if any of his project management skills aided him in planning for a trip of this magnitude and scale.

Slava enlightens us that he procrastinated for a large part of the year leading up to the trip. For example, he got the car two months before the start date.

Slava also tells us some of the intricacies of planning a route through countries that don’t necessarily have roads that connect with each other. For example, they only had three Visas before leaving Ukraine and got the rest while traveling to account for the constant changes in the route.

20:58 Setting Out Without A Plan

Phillip asks if it is scary to set out on a journey with so little planned and set in stone.

Slava lets him know that its just part of the process and something that you have to get used to if you are going to take on a trip like this.

22:50 Life-Changing Moments and Shifts In Perspective

Kalen asks Slava if along the way he experienced any life-changing moment or things that caused his perspective to shift in how he views his life.

Slava lets him know that a lot of the changes are gradual and you only really notice them when you get back home.

You probably don’t realize how much convenience you have until you’re in a situation where you will have to plan to be without.

-Phillip Jackson

26:53 Unexpected Meetings

Slava talks about some of the unexpected meetings he had on his trip and how unbelievable some of these meetings actually are.

Some of the most humanitarian and selfless people are in the world and trips like this help introduce you to these people.

34:04 How many dangerous moments were there?

Kalen asks Slava how many dangerous moments he experienced while on his trip.

Slava informs him that, thankfully, there were not that many. But this doesn’t account for moments when they could have been in danger, but just didn’t know it.

Slava then goes on to talk about a time when he was crossing the border between Kenya and Ethiopia in the midst of a local conflict between tribes. People began throwing rocks (all while holding AK-47s) and thankfully Slava was able to get through very quickly.

36:58 What were some of the highlights for specific countries?

Kalen asks Slava to talk about some of the more country-specific highlights.

Slava talks about the deserts of Mauritania, the beaches of Sierra Leone, and the forests of Gabon.

He was surprised at the lack of animals in a large portion of the countries he traveled through, but Gabon was the first place where they encountered some of Africa’s famed wildlife.

Elephant GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Namibia and South Africa were also highlights of the trip because of how developed they were. In these places, it was easy to rent a car and Slava was able to partake in some of the conveniences and hospitalities of more modernized countries.

Zimbabwe was also a special location for Slava due to the laid back and hospitable people who reside there despite the economic crisis that the country is going through.

East Africa and South Africa were great for their National Parks and for seeing lots of animals.

Ethiopia is a wonderful place for culture as it is one of the only countries that has not been colonized.

Sudan used to be off limits due to wars and sanctions and has recently been opened up. Slava also ran into difficulties here because Zoom was blocked from Sudan so he was unable to get on his conference call. The Magento dev docs also cannot be opened from Sudan.

47:18 Experiences That We Lack

Phillip asks Slava if he now has a better perspective on how truly blessed and rich we are in regards to our modern conveniences.

Slava lets him know that the experiences are going to stay with him for a while. Even things that seem basic such as safety are not constants throughout the world and after being extremely cautious for half a year, Slava won’t take that for granted again.

49:10 Namibian Geocache

Last year Kuba Zwolinski (@snowdog) was running a marathon across Namibia and he planted a geocache in the desert and then sent the coordinates to Slava.

Fast forward half a year and Slava followed the coordinates and found the cache. Kuba planted it in a pile of old tires and warned Slava that there might be snakes…

51:35 The Show Must Go On

With the large chunk of time spent away from the business, Kalen asks Slava to talk about things went with Atwix when he was away.

Slava says that he had some time to plan and he gradually delegated things that were dependent on him before he left. He also did a test run of how things would work without him before he left.

Spoiler: things went well.

Slava was excited to get back into the work zone right away once he got back from his journey.

56:29 Any Publications on the Horizon?

Phillip asks Slava if he intends to publish anything about the trip.

Slava says that there is already enough material for a book on his Instagram and Facebook accounts and it has to be edited and put together.

There is also plenty of great material on Olena’s Instagram.

There are also lots of really great videos that chronicle on the trip on Slava’s YouTube Channel.

58:28 The Magento Association

Kalen asks Slava to talk a little about how the Magento Association is going.

Slava mentions that there might not be that as much communication going out right now as people might want to hear, but the Association is quickly progressing through lots of the tedious initial tasks.

Slava also lets the community know that the Magento Association will be present at Imagine this year and they will be able to talk much more about what the Association will be doing for the community.


Slava Kravchuk (@slkra) from Atwix


MageTalk Episode 193 – Slapping Elevators

The boys discuss Magento Order Management, Phillip dropping his album, Page Builder, and the new Adobe Commerce Cloud logo.

Listen now!

Show Notes

This episode was also live-streamed so if you wanna the boys’ beautiful faces, click here.

1:19 Gotta Get Some Shares Out

The boys guesstimate how many days out we are from Imagine. Respect the estimation skills.

Kalen also talks about going “full metro” if he ever worked for Something Digital.

3:10 April Fools Day

Phillip lets us know that it is April Fools day and his daughter’s birthday and that he has already been tricked several times before recording this episode.

4:14 “This Is My New Vibe”

Phillip hears a strange sound from Kalen’s audio and Kalen lets him know that he’s recording from his garage and that it’s his new vibe.

Phillip also asks Kalen to prove his darts skills. This is quality podcasting.

6:04 That Album Drop Tho

Kalen just did an entire Periscope talking about Phillip’s album that just dropped. Kalen is also very impressed at the fact that Phillip was able to drop an album amidst an onslaught of other activities and pursuits.

Phillip talks about the changes he made in his life that have allowed him the time to record the album and how these changes have evened out other facets of his day to day life.

Not to say I predicted the album drop but did I predict Phillip’s musician persona last year? You tell me.

12:13 The Spotify Thing

Kalen asks Phillip what it’s like to be on Spotify. Phillip lets it slip that the last time he recorded a project, it was recorded onto physical CDs. Gasp.

The boys then talk about how they still use CDs today.

Phillip talks about the platform he used to distribute the music on multiple streaming platforms (called DistroKid). He then lets us know that Instagram now has a music streaming service as well.

The boys also let us know their ages.

14:09 Atwix Is At It Again

About a year ago, Atwix did some MageTalk Artwork. Well, the boys are thrilled that the Atwix team has created another set of wallpapers for 2019!

Check out the sneak peek below!

Kalen fills for time when Phillip has to step away for a bit and lets us know that Slava Kravchuk (@slkra) from Atwix will be on the podcast soon to talk about his recent trip to Africa.

16:46 Stay Tuned

The boys will also be having several people from the Magento Certification Team on the show soon to talk about some of their recent certifications.

16:55 A Quick Throwback

Phillip mentions how amazing the most recent MageTalk Episode with Lee Goldsworthy from was. If you haven’t already done so, have a listen.

19:24 Does MOM Need a Certification?

Phillip asks if Magento Order Management is pervasive enough to require its own certification. Do you think it needs one?

Phillip might be deprecated soon with all these new certifications.

Kalen asks what the difference is between MOM and ERP.

24:47 Phillip’s MOM Situation

Phillip brings up a situation he was in recently where Magento Order Management would have been helpful for him.

Here’s a hint: it’s about shoes. Due to an error, Phillip accidentally ordered 4 pairs of the exact same show. Find out how he thinks this could have been prevented.

There also might be a show title in here somewhere…

Find out what Phillip means by slapping elevators.

30:17 Kalen Talks About Titles

Kalen talks a bit about how everyone uses different job titles for the same thing and how it’s impossible to tell the difference between some of them. Pretty much, a lot of different titles mean the same thing with different pay rates.

31:15 Shoutout for the Show Notes

Phillip (very kindly) gives a shoutout for the show notes and how he has recently used them to reference the content of previous episodes. Kalen also calls the show notes an “underrated gem”.

This was pretty much my reaction.

32:00 More Banana Content?

Phillip mentions using the show notes to find out when the inception of Kalen’s “pornographic” banana obsession took place.

We also find out that Kalen just bought three banana racks from Bed Bath & Beyond recently…

Some things never change…

34:05 Integrated Ad Time

The boys “seamlessly” work in an ad for MageMojo for all your Magento hosting needs.

They’re pretty cool if I don’t say so myself.

Kalen also creates a new MageMojo dance.

36:35 Phillip Has a Question

Phillip asks Kalen what he knows and feels about Magento promising that Page Builder would be a module, and then changing their minds and saying that it would no longer be a module.

Did Magento ever actually commit to Page Builder being a paid module in the marketplace? Phillip also lets Kalen know that the Magento Twitter community doesn’t seem too happy about the change.

Kalen lets us know his thoughts and also informs us that he hates parallax scroll.

41:34 Ward Has Left The Building

Phillip casually mentions that Andrea Ward (@awatpa) is no longer at Magento (because she went over to Adobe) and Kalen is taken by surprise that she no longer focuses on Magento at all.

Phillip cautiously brings up (at the risk of losing his MC of Imagine gig) the fact that Brad Rencher (@bradrencher) has recently left Adobe.

42:57 The New Adobe Commerce Cloud Logo

The boys talk about the new Adobe Commerce Cloud logo that was unveiled at this year’s Adobe Summit.

Check it out.

Phillip says that if you look hard enough and cross your eyes a little bit, the logo looks like the demogorgon from Stanger Things… He also says that it kind of looks like a demented “M” smiling at you.

Phillip also breaks down exactly what Adobe Commerce Cloud is and the fact that it is a completely different product from Magento.


-Slava Kravchuk (@slkra)
-Andrea Ward (@awatpa)
-Brad Rencher (@bradrencher)

Livestream of This Episode
Phillip’s Album
2018 MageTalk Wallpapers
2019 MageTalk Wallpapers
MageTalk Episode 192-“Lee Goldsworthy, Unfiltered”

MageTalk Episode 192 – “Lee Goldsworthy, Unfiltered”

The boys sit down with Lee Goldsworthy, a merchant who takes them through his extensive and impressive vetting of eCommerce platforms and guides us through his own journey towards settling on Magento.

Listen now!

Show Notes

1:35 A Gold Standard Interview

Today the boys are joined by Lee Goldsworthy (@leegoldsworthy), the co-founder and director of He joins the boys from Perth, so everyone please give him a collective g’day mate.

2:48 Some Nice Words About MageTalk

Before they began recording, Lee was leading with some kind words about MageTalk. Let’s see if those words stay nice.

3:26 First, Some Backstory

Kalen asks Lee to talk about his professional history and what brought him where he is today. Lee gives us some more information about, the journey he went through in finding Magento, and what finally made him decide on the platform.

Kalen gets really excited about a feature matrix that Lee has shared with him and proceeds to get nerdy.

Please take a look at this thing. It’s seriously impressive.

8:32 eCommerce Thunderdome

Lee and his team put Shopify Plus, WooCommerce, Big Commerce, and a couple different versions of Magento side by side. With these comparisons, Lee saw that the Magento commerce suite contained features that would be very important to his team.

Lee and his team also worked with each of the eight final choices in a two week sprint to see what worked best.

The final contenders (after the ungodly amount of effort they put into the sprints) were Magento Commerce Cloud (Starter) and BigCommerce for which they then performed a two month drill with each.

11:14 Some Winkle Wisdom

Phillip has an interesting benefit of being in the system integrator community and gives some insight into the process of shopping around for the correct solution.

He then asks Lee what led him to go through such an intense and hands on process while choosing their eCommerce platform.

Why do you think they did it?

15:20 The IT Failure Quotient

The boys drop some interesting numbers regarding the surprisingly high failure rate of IT projects. At 80%, this number easily dwarfs the percentage of failures in other areas, but why does this happen?

Lee goes into more detail and breaks down some of the numbers and the reasons behind them.

“In IT, we have an amazing inability to communicate the gravity and the duration of the decisions that are made to the rest of the commercial team.”

-Lee Goldsworthy

19:35 If It Only Had This…

Phillip asks Lee if there was anything he knew wasn’t as good in the Magento ecosystem as it was in other ecosystems.

Lee talks about the gaps in their research and the actual features of Magento itself. One of the main issues involved the marketing team and their difficulties with any and all SEO. CMS engines were much stronger in this regard.

They also had to have a look at the Magento Commerce space if they wanted to get more than 2/3 of the way through the Google Tag Manager experience. This was a big surprise because the Magento guides made it seem like the product was much further along than it was in reality.

23:40 Keeping it Positive

To balance out the negative, Kalen asks Lee to talk about the features for which Magento had a clear advantage.

Lee breaks them down into three main categories:

  1. The depth of integrator community
  2. The category ecosystem was more complete than other providers
  3. Configuration of all core components

Some really good information in this segment.

28:06 Payment Gateway Support

Another factor that Lee really liked was the depth of Magento’s payment gateway support, and not only support, but native core functionality.

Lee also breaks down the difference between core functionality and third party plugins.

30:25 A Standing Ovation

Phillip gives Lee a standing ovation for not only his idealistic approach to finding the best solution, but also for his technical ability to see it through. Phillip then asks Lee if this diligence is a part of the culture of the company or if it stems from somewhere else.

Lee says that it is because they are thrifty and don’t want to spend exorbitant amounts of money when all it takes to save that money is some effort.

He then goes on to drop some poetic bars about software engineers.

36:05 Cheapskates, But In The Wrong Way

Phillip talks about how some companies that he has seen are cheap in the wrong way. What does this mean? What is a spiderface?

All your questions might not be answered.

37:42 One Last Shoutout to the Magento Ecosystem

Lee harkens back to one last positive about the Magento Ecosystem before moving to the next topic: payment gateways.

Find out what Lee discovered in Magento that is miles ahead of other platforms. Here’s a hint: it’s Braintree.

Lee also talks about how they spiked the various Tier 1 Customers support responses from the platforms they were testing to get an idea of what the support experience would be like during the initial years of implementation.

42:30 Bundling Up

The final positive aspect that Lee brings up about Magento is configurable products and how this feature is vastly more mature in Magento than in any of the other ecosystems.

Phillip comments how people still find ways to complain about things even if they are more robust than they are anywhere else.

43:38 Phillip Wants the Cheat-codes

Phillip asks Lee about the things he looks for in an integrator that are automatic opt-outs or red flags for being able to have a long lasting relationship with said integrator.

Lee says that ecosystem buy-in from a vendor is the major telling point for knowing if a vendor will be a valuable match.

45:50 “Do you want me to plug a competitor?”

Phillip then asks Lee to discuss the types of community involvement that are positive indicators for integrator matching. Lee then plugs a competitor.

Lee says that for their own integrator, they settled on Aligent Consulting. Lee then discusses the signs that made it obvious that this was a good fit.

50:12 Missteps

After all the tremendously impressive effort put in by Lee and his team, Phillip asks Lee where he thinks that the search went awry or if they made any mistakes.

Lee says that one of the more recent discoveries was that they underspec’d the continuous integration piece and they also made some bold assumptions about the maturity of some of the best supported extensions that didn’t quite come to fruition.

53:48 “I’d Love To Hear More About Your Commerce Hero Experience”

Kalen asks Lee to talk about his Commerce Hero experience. Lee discusses the process his team used to select their Solutions Architect.

56:38 Spotlight on Phillip

Lee asks Phillip how he feels about his designs being poked by a third party entity and then having those designs come back to him for implementation with modifications stemming from a third party architect that move away from his own organizational design patterns.

Phillip brings up a talk that he recently did at the Philadelphia eCommerce Meet Up that covers a situation very similar to this.

1:00:52 One More Commerce Hero Thing

Lee brings up one more glowing recommendation about Commerce Hero, this one specifically praising it for its ability as an upscaling tool.

Kalen must be glowing right now.

1:03:07 MageTalk Community Questions

Phillip is curious and trying to discern what MageTalk listeners would potentially like to ask Lee. Phillip also comes up with the idea of doing a live Q&A with Lee.

1:04:19 Time For YOUR Questions

Kalen asks Lee if he is at all interesting in helping out other merchants in a more “involved” way. Lee says that he is more than happy to happy any questions you might have and invites everyone to contact him via his LinkedIn Profile with your inquiries.


Lee Goldsworthy (@leegoldsworthy)

Lee’s LinkedIn


Lee’s Epic Feature Matrix
Aligent Consulting


MageTalk Episode 191 – “Fair Enough”

The boys get into some of the nitty-gritty details of UPWARD, talk about some of their failures, and play Yes/Yes/No with some confusing tweets.

Listen Now!

Show Notes

1:32 From “A” to “The”

The boys try to remember when they meant the jump for “A Magento Community Podcast” to “The Magento Community Podcast”.

2:38 Server Struggles

MageTalk has been running on AWS on WordPress for years now, and every once in a while, the server goes out.

Sad times for

Phillip found out the was down by visiting the site himself (thankfully it was only for 90 minutes).

Kalen hasn’t really experienced any downtime himself.

5:30 A Magento Community Meme

Kalen brings up a post from MageTest Fest that featured Anton Krill and in the comments, someone posted “#krillinit”.

Is this t-shirt worthy?

Phillip calls Kalen out for thinking that he has beef with people that he doesn’t have any beef with.

7:32 Do I sense a show title?

Kalen brings up that he almost tweeted that he doesn’t want people to say “fair enough” anymore because it’s just a catch-all for when you have nothing to say.

Phillip provides examples.

9:20 PWA Acronyms

Kalen was taking a look at the PWA Studio release and the first thing he noticed was the UPWARD specs.

Phillip asks Kalen to talk about what UPWARD is. Here’s a hint: it stands for Unified Progressive Web App Response Definition. Say that five times fast.

Also, every other Thursday, Phillip gets on a one-hour video zoom where he answers questions from the community.

14:20 Some Real Time Brainstorming

Phillip asks Kalen how he would code and bring together disparate services in his PWA.

Kalen goes into some details on what he would do and gets technical.

The boys also give some real-world explanations on what UPWARD is.

18:52 Don’t Talk Over Me

Phillip brings up a potentially controversial topic in that the Magento PWA team communicates and releases documentation that speaks above most of the general audience who reads this. Phillip also says how he should be the target audience, and yet it is still far too technical.

Phillip also gives a great example of how technical guides and publications should be written by bringing up a book called Eloquent Javascript.

Kalen agrees.

25:06 Options Upon Options

Kalen brings up another portion of the UPWARD doc was the part where it talks about the different options on how the PWA is going to run. They are as follows:

  1. Option 1- Use a node server in production
  2. Option 2- Do it with PHP (but can you actually do it in PHP?)

The boys weigh in on these implications and their potential uses.

29:09 Is there a spec?

Phillip finds that there is an UPWARD spec written for PHP and finds that he understands the whole concept better. Thankfully he explains it to us.

31:54 Off-doc AGAIN

Phillip once again goes on a tangent not listed in the show documentation. This time he gives us his thoughts on AirTable.

He also enlightens us with another project management tool called Coda that he has discovered.

Phillip also gives a shoutout to the guy who introduced him to Coda named Brian Schmitt (@techmirth).

Which one do you think he prefers?

37:32 What are your workflows?

Kalen asks Phillip to go over some of the workflows that he has been creating in Coda.

There’s some pretty cool stuff in this segment.

40:16 The failure podcast?

Kalen saw a tweet with an idea for a podcast that he thought was interesting.

The boys go back and forth on the possibilites of this idea and debate if there is something to learn from outright failures.

43:45 Some Failure Therapy

Phillip asks Kalen what he has learned from some of the items on his failure resume.

Kalen speaks about am engineering course he took at CalTech and how it was the first grade he had ever received that wasn’t an A. Did he learn anything from this?

Phillip speaks about the shutdown of NoMad and how it wasn’t handled very well as well as some of the factors that led to the shutdown.

50:58 And Back to Magento Things

Kalen borrows from the Reply All Podcast and plays Yes/Yes/No with a tweet that he posted. (See Tweet Below.) Basically, the boys will go into the details of a tweet that not everyone might understand.

Someone asked Kalen what he meant by this, and Kalen asks if Phillip knows what he meant by this.

Do you know what it means? The boys unpack the tweet.

Phillip asks and explores what it would mean if Imagine was a developer-focused conference.

The boys explore this idea and the direction in which the Magento community is headed and finally circle back to Kalen’s tweet to prove that Phillip knows exactly what the tweet was about.

58:14 Long Term Magento 1 Support

Kalen has been saying for a while that it would interesting for someone to provide a service that provides security patches to Magento 1 after its end of life.

Well, he found a company that is doing this.

Mage1 is providing long term support for Magento 1.9.x after 2020.

The boys talk about some of the specifics behind this and what they hope to see from the company and people running it.


Links / Mentions

-Brian Schmitt (@techmirth)

Eloquent Javascript
Reply All Podcast

MageTalk Episode 190 – “On the Go Vol. 2”

The boys talk about self-lacing shoes, the difficulties surrounding hiring Magento developers, and debate whether frontends matter in a headless world.

Listen Now!

Show Notes

1:12 Welcome To MageTalk On the Go

Kalen is walking around again in this episode so be prepared for an onslaught of auditory stimulation.

Phillip was inspired by Erfan Imani (@erfanimani) and is training for a triathlon on March 16th so he is currently on a stationary bike.

I can only imagine this is Phillip during this recording.

Kalen also wants to point out that there was only one comment regarding the audio in the last On the Go episode, and it was a positive one. Thanks, John Hughes (@JohnHughes1984) for the kind words!

2:54 Can Phillip talk about shoes really quick?

Phillip has fulfilled a lifelong dream (well since 1992) by acquiring a pair of Back to the Future-esque self-lacing shoes called the Nike Hypderadapt.

We live in this crazy future where shoes tie themselves and everything is possible.

-Phillip Jackson

7:40 Hard Time Hiring

In an interesting segue, Phillip brings up that the biggest issue with Magento is not any technical issues, it is finding Magento talent.

Sounds like he struck a chord.

Kalen reacts about the situation and gives some valuable insight into this issue. A major point includes the difference between hiring onsite versus remotely and the talent that is missed when companies are set upon hiring onsite only.

Kalen is a big believer in remote work and always goes to bat for the remote worker.

What are your thoughts?

13:16 Don’t Lower Your Standards, Change Them

Is there a legitimate need to have people on site? The boys have different thoughts regarding this.

Phillip’s concern is that, contrary to what he’s been told, what if the Magento ecosystem has not been growing, but has been becoming more and more specialized making hiring talent (especially onsite) harder. The demand for Magento is growing, but the talent pool is remaining steady.

Kalen discusses that building on top of a language or framework that has a wide base doesn’t necessarily mean that the intersection between that base and those who have knowledge in eCommerce or Magento is going to be large enough.

There’s a significant difference in the level of complexity that’s abstracted away when you’re working in a headless situation.

-Kalen Jordan

Will React make this process different? What skills do developers have to learn in addition to general knowledge in Magento that will make them viable candidates?

Some intriguing stuff in this section

23:10 How Developers Think

Phillip recounts a story of a time when he worked with a developer that developed a PHP frontend that (in his mind) allowed him to plug into any e-commerce platform you could throw at it.

How do you think it turned out?

Kalen drops some poetic lines.

History doesn’t repeat itself, it just rhymes.

-Kalen Jordan

Told you.

Kalen also explores some of the issues regarding what developers are enabled to do and what they desire to interact with. Should a developer react with the API? Kalen then elaborates that Magento should be focusing mainly on the API layer.

Phillip also weighs in with some ground that Magento needs to cover regarding the dashboard and the future with Experience Manager.

30:22 Hypothetical API Question

What if you had to have Magento Enterprise Edition to have full API coverage?

The boys weigh in on the various factors that contribute to full API coverage and what it means to have that included at various tiers.

31:40 Do Frontends Matter?

That’s what she said.

Kalen asks if something is headless, why should it matter what frontend you’re building on?

Phillip jumps in explaining that this is the story that Vue Storefront is telling and their go-to-market is not just Magento focused. Vue is trying to position themselves as an agnostic front-end layer for any e-commerce platform (although they seem to be the most active in the Magento space.)

Does PWA make sense for sites that are more complicated and feature rich? What are some features that Magento is missing out of the box?

35:10 SaaS Searching

Kalen says that everyone should be using a SaaS search. He just implemented Algolia and he can’t believe how good it is, how easy it is to set up, and how fast it is.

Phillip agrees that search is a complex domain with a lot of difficult issues to cater to and that SaaS solutions get the desired outcome faster and cheaper.

If you pick a specific problem to solve, there is a vendor out there that will do it better than you ever will.

-Phillip Jackson

The boys are so quotable today!

40:07 Competing Blog Posts

Phillip and one of his resident PWA expert at Something Digital both took a whack at competing blog posts regarding PWA with contradicting viewpoints.

Phillip wrote 5 Reasons to Wait on PWA against his PWA expert’s article entitled 5 Reasons to Jump on the PWA Bandwagon.

Take a gander.

Links / Mentions

Nike Hypderadapt
5 Reasons to Wait on PWA
5 Reasons to Jump on the PWA Bandwagon

-Erfan Imani (@erfanimani)
-John Hughes (@JohnHughes1984)

MageTalk Episode 189 – “Tell me about the intimate things that happen to your face”

The boys discuss the inaugural Magento Board of Directors, Magento Masters, the Top 50 Contributors, and Phillip’s aching back.

Listen Now!

Show Notes

1:34 Tooth Pain vs. Back Pain

Phillip can’t stop talking about how badly his back is hurting him. Kalen asks him to tell him about some of the intimate things that happen to Phillip’s face.

3:01 Athletes Abound

The boys bring up some of the outstanding athletes within the Magento community. Some shoutouts include Tobias Zander (@airbone42) for his monstrous swimming skills and Guido Jansen (@guido) also for his swimming prowess.

3:58 The Magento Board of Directors

The first big topic of the show today is the announcement of the Magento Board of Directors.

Phillip recounts when task force member Brian Lange (@brianjlange) was on the show a few months ago and discussed the bylaws and processes it takes to create an inaugural board of directors. Listen to Episode 183 for a good place to start getting caught up.

There were 100+ applicants to the inaugural board and 8 community members that were appointed. Check out the announcement from Magento.

6:29  And the Board Members are…

Rebecca Brocton (@RebeccaBrocton)
Juan Ignacio De Paula
Hilda Fontana
Guido Jansen (@guido)
Viacheslav Kravchuk (@slkra)
Danny Verkade (@dverkade)
Joshua Warren (@JoshuaSWarren)
Kuba Zwolinski (“>@snowdog)

The boys go into each member of the inaugural board and give some background on each one.

Ben Marks (@benmarks) is also on the board as the representative from Magento. Brittany Mosquera (@brittanycarnes) is also on the board as a non voting member. And finally Joshua Berman from SmithBucklin will serve as the Executive Director of the board.

Congrats, all.

15:00 Task Force Diligence

Phillip brings up some of the hard work that the task force completed to form this inaugural board.

16:02 The Magento Masters

The boys talk about the 2019 Magento Masters.

Check out the three categories below.



Qualified Alumni

Kalen realizes that there have been a lot of Masters that have not yet been on MageTalk.

25:38 MageTalk Love Fest

Kalen has been messing around with Vue Storefront and has been having lots of fun. He likes that he’s doing some coding again and getting into the nitty-gritty.

Phillip commends Kalen for picking it up so quickly and already making full websites. Phillip also calls Kalen the Master of solving problems with new coding languages that he teaches himself.

Kalen has realized that Phillip is really good at podcasting and publicly admits that Phillip is the talent and that Kalen is just along for the ride.

32:22 The Top 50 Contributors

The boys briefly mention the Top 50 Magento Contributors List. It’s a great list full of great people so check it out.

Kalen might make an appearance on the list…

33:24 Enhanced Bug Bounty Program

There are some changes to bug reports including faster payments and quicker responses to reviews and responses to submissions.

Phillip commends Magento for keeping on top of this issue and following through.

36:03 “Can we talk about the headless thing?”

Phillip heard an idea about letting customers use a mobile app in a store to check themselves out. Is this a viable possibility? Will this set some brick and mortar stores apart?

He has seen two big brands recently launch headless sites and was intrigued that they chose to go headless.

Kalen one-ups Phillip by discovering a curated list of modern e-commerce sites called that lets you see what other business are up to.

Pretty cool stuff.

42:30 Phillip Complains about PWA

Phillip brings up that PWA looks like it’s a B2C feature and that you have no reason to use Magento for B2C in 2018 without PWA.

Does this bring Magento back into the B2C game and a more viable competitor with Shopify?

45:59 Abstract Periscope Art?

Kalen highly suggests you check out James Zetlen’s Periscope videos for a weird mix of abstract art and live streaming.

46:20 A Time to Learn

Kalen noticed a tweet regarding a company giving every developer two hours a week to watch Laracasts. He also asked the Magento community if there was anyone using a similar model to give their developers time with Mage2 TV.

Phillip talks about how Something Digital provides a 40 hour per year self-guided, offsite training for their employees in addition to ample opportunity per month for self-guided training.

49:10 How do you feel about this?

Phillip was talking to a potential senior dev hire and asked him what technologies he was interested in. The dev said that there weren’t any technologies he was interested in and that irked Phillip. How do you feel about that?

Kalen says that there is a difference between creative professions and non-creative professions in regards to furthered interest in the subject.

52:45 A BIG Announcement

Phillip is the MC of Imagine 2019!!


Phillip wants to hear everyone’s ideas on how to make this year’s Imagine the biggest and baddest one yet. Tweet him @philwinkle and let him know your ideas!

Links / Mentions

MageTalk Episode 183 with Brian Lange
Magento Association Board Announcement
2019 Magento Masters: Makers
2019 Magento Masters: Movers
2019 Magento Masters: Qualified Alumni
Top 50 Magento Contributors List

-Tobias Zander (@airbone42)
-Guido Jansen {@guido)
-Brian Lange (@brianjlange)
-Rebecca Brocton (@RebeccaBrocton)
Juan Ignacio De Paula
Hilda Fontana
-Viacheslav Kravchuk (@slkra)
-Danny Verkade (@dverkade)
-Joshua Warren (@JoshuaSWarren)
-Kuba Zwolinski (“>@snowdog)
-Ben Marks (@benmarks)
-Brittany Mosquera (@brittanycarnes)
Joshua Berman

MageTalk Episode 188 – Passionate About Bananas

The boys are back to bantering about bananas, PWA, the landscape of development, and the fact that Kalen might be more of a Laravel guy…

Listen Now!

Show Notes

1:50 Inception Woes

The boys recount some of the trials and tribulations they endured in the development of MageTalk and how the processes behind the show have evolved to where they are today.

Phillip admits to a double rookie Podcasting mistake. Kalen is disappointed.

A shoutout to Brian Lange (@brianjlange) for being an SD Card hero when Phillip forgot to bring one to record a live event.

4:52 The Meta Segment

Kalen has noticed that the first few minutes of every episode have become a “meta segment” in which the boys talk about the show, pat themselves on the back, and are just self-referential in general.

5:19 An Assistant or A Butler?

Phillip thinks he needs an assistant. Brian Lange says he needs a butler. Either way, he is very close to hiring an assistant.

Phillip proves his knowledge of Louie Vega lyrics.

Kalen says that Phillip reminds him of PWA.

7:40 Bananas about Bananas

Phillip informs Kalen that he has been taking pictures of bananas all week since their discussion on bananas in the previous episode.

The boys also struggle to avoid all the off-color jokes about Phillip sharing his banana pics with Kalen.

I guess you could say that makes Phillip a…

And no, I don’t apologize for that.

9:18 Let’s get into PWA

Kalen lets us know that he has been getting back into coding, which has sparked this episode PWA discussion. He’s been trying to wrap his head around the face there is no direction from anybody on the Magento core side regarding what third-party extensibility is going to look like within PWA.

He also points out some companies that have PWA support such as ShipperHQ.

The boys delve into how these companies actually are implementing this extensibility.

17:22 The Landscape of Development

Phillip is excited to see Kalen get back into hardcore Dev Mode. Phillip also thinks that PWA studio is going to change the landscape of implementation yet again.

Phillip also casually mentions that he is still #7 in the world on Stack Exchange without having done anything there in about two years. Righteous Updoot.

19:20 Is it SaaS Exclusive?

Are SaaS models the only business model that can afford PWA implementation?

The boys discuss some of the technical and financial requirements of PWA implementation. They also talk about some more specific changes in how things will change in this new model.

21:04 Server Still Matters

The Server-Side Rendering Challenge. How do you approach this? What are some current fixes?

Phillip gives some insight into how this challenge affects development across multiple facets of the development process.

Technical Jargon Abounds.

24:28 An Odd Realization

Kalen realized that he might be more of a Laravel guy than a Magento guy and that made him kind of uncomfortable.

Phillip reiterates that he is glad that Kalen is back into coding.

Kalen says that he wants MageTalk to get back to being a devoted development podcast. Phillip sounds thrilled.

27:52 Zen Mode

Phillip states that he is in a zen mode right now where he is content about everything that he is doing and doesn’t currently have the coding itch.

Kalen says that his coding itch had been long gone and he’s happy now that it’s back.

There’s a cream for that…


Mentions / Shoutout


-Brian Lange (@brianjlange)

MageTalk Episode 187 – A Whole Inch-and-a-Half of Growth

The boys usher in their fifth year of MageTalk by talking about banana business ideas, the Magento Partner Kickoff, transparency, and how Phillip predicted the future.


Listen Now!

Show Notes

1:20 A Very Happy New Year

The boys start out the episode by wishing all of you a Happy New Year and letting us know that they are officially entering their fifth year of MageTalk.

Phillip reflects on the four Magento Partner Kick-Offs he has been to and how they have changed.

3:08 What is up with you?

Phillip asks Kalen what he’s been up to as they haven’t spoken for a few weeks and also asks the important question: “Can you get fat, eating only fruit?”.

Kalen lets us know that the banana industry is ripe for disruption.

Seems like things never change.

5:12 Kalen’s Been Blogging

Kalen has been blogging and lets us know that he has moved away from Medium and has been publishing on GitHub pages using Jekyll. Gettin’ fancy (even if he’s 18 months behind).

Kalen finds that Medium had too many pop-ups and paywalls. Phillip’s issue with Medium is that they are a content company, and yet you are the producer of the content and not them.

7:08 Is there money in the banana business?

Kalen talks about his subscription bananas idea because all he wants in life is optimally ripe bananas every single day.

Lots of a-peeling content here.

14:38 A Banana-A-Day

Phillip recalls a product packaging concept from South Korea that displays six bananas in various degrees of ripeness. Could this help in Kalen’s Banana Business?

Also. You’re welcome for finding the image.

And yes, there have been 20 minutes of banana content and you have all hit your potassium quota for the day.

19:55 The Good Ole PKO

Kalen brings us back on track by asking Phillip to speak more about the PKO. That’s Partner Kick Off for all of us who don’t speak Kalen.

Phillip enlightens us with some updates on Magento’s growth in 2018, Black Friday/Cyber Monday performance, changes that will be made to how they deliver cloud to smaller companies, and lots more cool stuff.

He also hints at some brands that Magento has added and he’s very excited about them.

The main theme of the kick off was “Experience-Driven Commerce” that integrates the Adobe Experience Manager into Magento.

He was also impressed that it was 45 minutes into the session before he heard anything about PWAs.

23:14 On the subject of PWA

Phillip gives us his opinion on PWA and how it makes him cringe a little bit. He also mentions that a lot of the companies that are excited about PWAs don’t have use cases for how they will benefit from them.

Phillip also notices how Magento’s growth chart had no X or Y access and yet they experienced a “whole inch-and-a-half of growth”. Whatever that means.

27:20 The Big Roll Up

Kalen asks if Magento’s numbers get rolled up into Adobe’s numbers when they are presenting growth.

What do you think the answer is?

Adobe has also been talking about Magento and Marketo on primetime television.

31:38 A Quick Bit of Love

Kalen gives some love to some recent tweets by Matt Asay (@mjasay) after Kalen had made some noise about the Adobe Experience Manager. Matt replied that he’d been responding to concerns individually over email.

34:10 Transparency Schmansparency

Phillip points out that Matt Asay has also been calling out people and companies that have not been transparent enough.

Kalen defends his use of the word enterprise-y and what he feels the ideal Enterprise company should be like.

Phillip details what his ideal Enterprise company would be and that Adobe can learn a lot from Magento.

“Getting people excited about something isn’t just about transparency, it’s also about ubiquity and use case.”

-Phillip Jackson

39:40 The Microsoft/GitHub Thing

Kalen brings up that people were tentative about Microsoft acquiring GitHub mainly because Microsoft didn’t have the best reputation in the world. However, Microsoft made recent changes for low-end GitHub customers by granting unlimited private repositories for free accounts.

Kalen thinks this is pretty cool.

Microsoft is making GitHub even more friendly to users on the low-end and strengthening their down market.

42:20 Magento Titles and Roles

Phillip remembers another topic that was discussed at the PKO and that was Mark Lavelle’s title is now Senior Vice President of Commerce at Adobe. Phillip also discusses some of the new hierarchy within Adobe.

Phillip also pulls up some interesting salary information for an Executive Vice President at Adobe.

Phillip also mentions Jason Woosley’s role was listed as Senior Vice President of Commerce at the PKO. But that was Mark Lavelle’s role…

Kalen also says that there is a possibility for Mark Lavelle to be a part of his banana business.

49:05 A Quick Commerce Hero Ad Spot

Kalen gives some updates on some recent hires for the Commerce Hero team.

Congrats All!

Kalen also reads a message he got from someone he recently put in a position and Kalen just wants to let the world know how great it felt to hear something like that.

52:30 Future Commerce Cross Promo

Kalen surprises Phillip with a surprise Future Commerce cross-promotion. Awwww. Kalen lets us know that Future Commerce predicted the interactive Black Mirror episode that was released.

Phillip enlightens us with how the prediction came about and all the clues that led to them guessing that the episode would be created.

Phillip also lets us know that Brian Lange hates Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books.

Is this the future of content?

Mentions / Links

Kalen’s Blog
Banana A Day Packaging

-Matt Asay (@mjasay)
-Mark Lavelle (@mklave1)