WordCamp Phoenix 2018: Amazing coffee and contributor day fun

An orange background with the words WordCamp February 16 and 17 with the airport code PHX for Phoenix

experiences the cold humidity of an Arizona spring. It had only been 4 months since I was last at Galvanize and I will be honest, I had my doubts about going from a ~200 attendee event to an over 500 person event in such a short turn around. Well, I was very pleasantly surprised and impressed with their organizing team’s efforts to put on a spectacular WordCamp Phoenix 2018!

Food and Fun

Speaker Dinner

I missed it. Due to some logistic issues I had to fly in while this was happening. While I am bummed I missed it, it was the only disappointment I found related to this camp and it had nothing to do with the awesome organizers or camp itself. It looked amazing and I want to give an extra special shout out to the coordination team who made us some of the best, individual personalized, speaker gifts of all time! I got a monogramed passport wallet and bag tag, since I am always traveling. I thought a pic of Isaac’s was a little more interesting visually for the purposes of a blog though. Anyhow, Thank You again for the gift Organizing team, lead by Raquel Landefeld


I’m just going to be lazy and repeat what I said about the amazing Luana’s Coffee Yard “They know what the heck they are doing. If you live in the area, go give them your money!” Just the nicest baristas ever and their coffee quality is second to none. Snacks flowed as well as plenty of cold water, which helped me keep hydrated in the dessert as I chatted with the morning rush of people.

Lunch was served as a giant taco line with OK options for those seeing plant based foods. Still a little hungry I found that there was a burrito stand, called Mi Salsa. Family owned and featuring their “mother’s secret recipes”. Some of the best salsa I can remember having and the more I talked to them the more I liked their company. It is not everyday you feel good about giving back to the local economy and get world class food in the same transaction.

Friday Night had no official plans, but some of us got together anyway for some food and celebration! Since it was unofficial I will only leave this tweet to remind myself of the event


More awesome coffee and snacks and snacks.
Lunch was way better on day 2 in my opinion, Japanese options. Soba noodle salad, rice and more veggies than I could eat. They kept piling them on and I had to actively tell them ‘that’s too much!’. I feel good about any lunch where I have to wave them off from filling my plate with plant based foods. I also like they are doing as much local sourcing of their menu as possible, so big shout out to Conceptually Social

After Party

I am always looking forward to any official after party, never denying that as fact. The after party last year at WCPHX set the bar pretty dang high and I am ecstatic to report that this year the party was arguably even better! Again it happened at Phoenix Public Market Cafe which has the nicest staff and great overall quality of everything. The video game truck was back again and we got to do more VR and Rock Band fun. GoDaddy went all out and brought their party bus where we got to do WCKaraoke (see vid below)! It was an amazing night of being together and celebrating the camp life!


Opening Remarks:

Imposter Syndrome: Stories from Two Different Perspectives
Sheila Hoffman
Dashon Hawkins

It is rare that you come into a talk late and are immediately thrust into what turns out to be the most important part of the whole thing. At least to me it was the most important part. As soon as I walked in the room I was told as part of the whole group, to find a partner and share a time we felt e had imposter syndrome. Immediately I engaged with a fellow camper and shared one of my stories and heard hers. This made me feel less alone in my imposter syndrom driven moments of doubt and engaged with the whole room at once. No one there didn’t have a story to tell. We all face this horrid condition at some point and the only way I think we can overcome it is together.

Raw Notes:
(I came in a little late)
Defining Imposter syndrome
Exercise to share with neighbor your experience feeling it
We ALL had stories
“Comparing the cutting room floor to the Sizzle reel”
Tech needs to know more than any one person Can know
WP community is great for knowledge sharing
Not just luck, Imposter Syndrome makes you think you are just lucky
IS is an act of violence to yourself
risk exposure
Stop playing safe
Greater risk is not knowing how capable and worthy you actually are
Q/A became people sharing stories
IS leads to Smartest guy in the room pissing contests
trying to look smart wastes time
Learn from students
Keep at it
What you have to do
Dev world is a big ocean
stay in the water until you master your lagoon
then swimming in other territories is so similar you can do it

What The West Wing can teach us about building products
AJ Morris

I walked into this room, having not read the session description, thinking this would be a case study on government applications of WordPress. Since it was AJ, I knew it would be a solid talk and I went more for that reason. I was correct on that second assumption, but the West Wing AJ was referring to was the 1999 Aaron Sorkin TV show. It so clearly illustrated the process of actual value creation in the product building process that I am not sure I really understood it at all before entering the room. The biggest take away for me was the idea of moving from a MVP driven process to a MVV one. Minimum Viable Value. If you can’t measure any value from it, is it really functioning? That thought shook me a bit and I am thankful to AJ for this talk.

Raw Notes:
5 steps of a product
Plays example clip from The West Wing
It was all about the ah-ha moment of ‘I can fix that’
These ideas come at us from all over
further clarity propels it forward
Going away and thinking about it and come back
Example idea he had
sending people coffee
sample subscription service is the idea
part of building product is clarifying the idea
if you move ahead too soon, will run into many issues
learn to say no to non formed ideas
You can have a lot of ideas, but they are all ideas
an understanding for a product needs more than that
enough clarity to move ahead
then Value Propositions.
Clear and up front
wp101 – learn WP the easy way
Provide enough clarity to make the defined end user clear
What could we make at a mim to get our product to function to prove it is solving a problem
Unsplash MVP example
free ‘stock’ photos
3 hours from idea to MVP
tumbler + $20 theme
10 photos by local photographer
uploaded for free use
Traffic? hackernews post
2 hours later 20K downloads
free dropbox overwhelmed
over 2 million photos are downloaded a month
tested and validated very quickly
Replace viable product with viable value
if value then people will pay for it
Knowing what to build
start simple, single product
Don’t do ti all at once
get it out the door asap
keep iterating, while constantly solving bigger issues
constantly communicate the vision of the grand problem to be solved
Ship it quick
product market fit means being in a god market with a product that can satisfy that market
Customer Feedback
feedback boxes
reaching out directly
usability testing

My Talk

Discovery, discovery, discovery, discovery! The most import part of the project

I was super excited to give this session again. I made a few refinements and think this was the best version I have made yet. Still, part way through I realized I could be making a few points better by further modifying it, there is always room for improvement. Huge thank you to every person that gave me feedback afterwards, it really helps and is encouraging!

Overcoming Your Fear of Sales
April Wier

If there is one thing that was beaten into me over the years of my time in sales it was ‘Always ask for the sale.” Also known as “Always Be Closing”. The easiest way to lose a sale is to not engage and get the sale. Getting over yourself and your fear of rejection takes courage, determination and a lot of stamina! Just do it, the rewards are far greater than the downside, but you have to know that it will take a mind shift to get comfortable with it.

Raw Notes:
It is terrifying to do sales because of fear of rejections
it is not just you, 80% of people also fear this
to solve this
Frist you got to get your mind right
Get over the idea of “I am bothering people”
Are you talking yourself out of sales?
Stop being a credit manager
don’t worry about if they seem like they should buy it
pool sales story
Pricing for what you think they can pay is all in your head
make more profit by charging what you are worth
In your head it is easy to only think about how the interaction will affect you
instead you need to focus on benefitting the client
Immersion therapy, must do this enough to get comfortable doing it
if it feels as scary every time like the first time you are not doing it enough
Do you want fries with that, repetition removes
You job is not to sell,
your job is to solve problems
Difference between ‘do you want to buy’ and ‘how can I help’
For whom do you solve problems?
Not the universe
once you have clear vision of who has what pain points you can solve, it makes it easier
They need a trusted guide, make them look like a genius
Ask about their business
Ask about their pain
Find what they didn’t like about folks they DON’T buy from
find out what they like about folks they DO buy from
Listen to what they say when agitated
THEN you ge to talk
bend your story to their concerns
hustle and communication story
Classic Sales Techniques, updated for the digital age
Going out of business ->
I’m booking up quickly, I can only take on one more project
Foot in the door ->
Tripwire product, little thing you can sell them that establishes trust, selling a session to find what they need, Keyword research high value and builds trust
Stalking the Client ->
Continue to demonstrate the prospect’s value to you
Sending article and stay top of mind without being annoying
He who talks first loses ->
Still works
What are some other old school techniques?
Make sure you are a fit
turn away business if bad fit
you want a relationship where you can make a difference
only so much time on the calendar
available start date = moving target
if they don’t have time to meet, that is a giant red flag
flipside of scarcity is abundance,
there are many, many opportunities

Yes, And: How improv basics build stronger teams, foster creativity and make the creative process more fun and less frustrating
Amber Pechin

Yes, I do in fact love talks about improv, and not just because it is something I have talked about at camps all throughout the world. I love it because every time I see a talk involving the core concepts there are always people who are uncovering for the first time the ways the key concepts apply to all areas of live, not just the stage. The ah-ha moments around being more positive, making your partners look good and ‘YEs, And…’ are just delightful. Rather than focus on a single role, this was a great general presentation covering those core concepts in a pretty engaging talk making it ideal for a group of people across multiple functionalities who want to learn about these things together.

Raw Notes:
(came in a tad late)
not about being funny
Learning some basic improv tools and muscles
4 rules of improv
1 Yes, And
2 Listen
3 No wrong answers
4 I got your back
Bonus rule
if it is not fun change what you are doing
creativity can be painful but it should eb fun pain
She started doing stand up
got told that the high of performing is like nothing else
chase that high of being in front of people
and through creativity
nailing specific goals
Changing from less about the me and all about the we
Interactive session!
Alphabet game example
You should know the rules
Our job as creatives to to come the best idea
in business feels like competition to come up with best ideas
Goal is not be be funny yourself, but to make each other look funny
The most valiant thing you can do as an artist is inspire someone else to be creative
when everyone is winning the client is happy
no wrong answers – learning
failure is opportunity in disguise
we are highly skilled at suppressing action, good improvisors develop action
when something seems off we stop exploring
the magic comes from going to explore an idea
we overthink our way out of acting
Listen! It is super important
silence is golden
The third thing is usually the best idea, don’t rush to fill the gaps
give the process space and time
it might be awkward at first
yes, and
the and is the hard part
Allowing people to operate without having to explain themselves constantly turns out to be like the rule of agreement in improv, it enables rapid cognition
think so fast you can build ideas
Need diverse thoughts and teams

Why Expression is So Important Content/Strategy/Marketing
Tanya Moushi

When we have the courage to express ourselves, there are a lot of ways that can play out. In the best possible world, this means we are bringing forward the best and highest ideals we possess. The fear that it will not be this or that we are not good enough prevents us from expressing ourselves at all. When we don’t express ourselves, there are only really negative ramifications for ourselves, our organizations and ultimately the whole of society itself. This session was jammed full of encouragement and I think anyone who is in their heads around getting their voice heard would be uplifted in seeing this on WordPress.tv.

Raw Notes:
THink about biz same a speople
blog of energy and ideas
moves into a physical manifestation
german word – being, existence and also being with (both at the same time)
Are you open to feedback
periods of ideation and periods of feedback
as an individual, expression is an act of bravery
everything exposes you as you push out the ideas
Imposter Symdrome – “I’m not good enough”
don’t drop things you love because you are not a pro
don’t stop doing art or sports or anything because you can’t compete and have monitary value
for a society expression of the community is important
drives innovation and understanding
The Value of art thinking
orgaizational level
imagination game (or vizualization)
Empathy Mapping
Contextual immersion
Emotional method acting
point is to get to a point where ou really understand
individual level
Asks + Gives
“What if instead of using our jobs to pay for our lives, we use our work to express the highest part of our being”

Contributor Day

I LOVE contributing to the WordPress project. I cherish any chance to sit together to hack on making the code better, the docs more readable, and all the other small improvements that add up to a better ecosystem. At first I was a bit sad that there wasn’t one planned on the official schedule. Then I had a conversation with Aaron Campbell, who is lead for the security team, and we concluded there should still be some kind of contributor get together. We talked over options with some locals and set our sights on Cartel Coffee Lab as a location for Sunday morning. Without a lot of fuss we got more than a dozen folks to swing through throughout the morning. I was very proud to onboard a new person into Slack and help her find her team. I personally got to lend a hand on some serious work done on a project to help with onboarding for core contributors new to Trac. Could not have done this alone and I am super glad to be part of a global team that feels as strongly about this whole Free and Open Source Software thing as I do.

Wrapping up

If I had to compress my feeling into a single sentence: “It was a blast!” So many amazing people and so many meaningful conversations. That last part, the conversations that come from just being in between sessions, what some people call the ‘hallway track’, might just be the most valuable part of this or any camp. THe connections we make go well beyond the professional and I feel I am walking away knowing family members I had just not yet met. It makes me a little sad that they held this event in February since it will be a whole other year more before WordCamp Phoenix 2019!

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