New and Old Friends at WordCamp Philly 2014

A recap of some of the more amazing people with whom I spent time over the weekend of WordCamp Philly 2014.

Jeremy Pry + Liam Dempsey at WordCamp Philly 2014

Having just caught up on sleep from WordCamp Philly 2014, I wanted to thank the people who made it such a wonderful weekend. What follows is a list of just some of the amazing folks I met or with whom I spent time while talking about WordPress, design, version control and more. Clearly there were too many people for me to thank here, so please forgive me if I left you off!

Jeremy Pry

@JPry
Jeremy and I were introduced to each other about two years ago at a Philadelphia WordPress Meetup or at the Philly ‘burbs WordPress Meetup. Since then, I’ve come to have a deep respect for Jeremy’s prowess as a developer. He has the rare ability to not only write advanced code but also to teach the less technical how to write code or use version control. Crafting and delivering a presentation about GitHub with Jeremy at WordCamp Philly was a lot of fun. I learned a lot from him and his presentational style. Jeremy is online at jeremypry.com.

Tracy Levesque

@liljimmi
I first met Tracy in 2012, at the first WordCamp at which I presented. Since then, I’ve gotten to know her a bit more through our involvement with the WordPress community. Over the past few months as we worked together to help organize WordCamp Philly 2014, I have come to consider Tracy a friend. She’s smart, very funny, outgoing and very generous. Getting to hang out with her so much over the past weekend was a definite highlight. Tracy is a designer who codes and a co-owner of YIKES, Inc.

Brian Messenlehner

@bmess
Brian is a man who really knows code and is one of the owners of the amazing Web Dev Studios. Over the course of Friday night and a good portion of Saturday, I had a great time hanging with Brian, talking WordPress, helping people in the Happiness Bar and relaxing at the After Party.

Sonja Leix

@sonjanyc
Sonja Leix is a a New York based User Experience and Web Designer. I was lucky enough to meet Sonja on Friday evening, before WordCamp Philly. Her talk about UX was delivered to a packed room at WordCamp Philly and the reviews that I heard in the hallways afterwards were all very positive. It was fun chatting more with her at the After Party. Sonja’s online at sonjaleix.com.

Tom Rose

@slurve
A Philly-based designer/developer, Tom Rose is a classy, friendly guy. Although I’ve known Tom for a few years now through the Philly WordPress community, it was only over the weekend that I got spend any real amount of time catching up with him, learning about the etymology of the word slurve and some of the finer points of baseball. We may have also chatted about design, WordPress and the Advanced Custom Fields plugin.

Ben Lobaugh

@benlobaugh
Ben’s a nice guy with a welcoming smile and a full beard. He’s also an Automattician who calls Seattle home. When we discussed how to best to trim a beard, Ben was kind enough to share a bit of advice with me. Ben blogs at ben.lobaugh.net.

Spencer Hansen

@spencer_d_h
I met Spencer on Friday night at the Speaker’s Party. He arrived late, half starved and wearied by the journey. (There was all sorts of traffic coming into Philly that night.) Yet by the close of WordCamp Philly, Spencer had regained his stride and was able to carry us to victory in shuffle board at the After Party at Buffalo Billiards. I look forward to catching up with Spencer before too long at another WordPress event.

The #wcphilly Crew

When Brad Williams asked me to help plan WordCamp Philly 2014, I was thrilled at the invite. Brad is a professional for whom I have a great deal of respect and admiration. To be able to work with him, Doug Stewart and Reed Gustow was a wonderful opportunity — and I was grateful for the opportunity to do so.

Now that WordCamp Philly 2014 is now a memory, I must extend my thanks and admiration to these guys – along with the amazing April Williams – for putting together what was an amazing weekend of WordPress, community sharing, knowledge exchange and great fun.

Bring on 2015!

Harnessing the Power of Technology for Professional Development

A detailed list of some of the tools that I use for professional development.

In December of last year, I was fortunate enough to be asked by the St. Elizabeth Chapter of Joseph’s People to speak about using technology for professional development. When I mentioned my presentation on Twitter, there was some interest in seeing a blog post that covered the key talking points from my presentation. I meant to get this post online back in December 2013, but the Fates conspired against. Hence, I’m publishing it now, in April 2014.

I appreciate that all the apps, social media outlets and technologies shared below wont’ be for everyone — and that’s okay. I also appreciate that my approach or system might not be a good fit for everyone else. That’s okay too. Lastly, I am all too aware that my list is very short. There is a never-ending stream of new apps, websites and technologies that we can use to be more efficient in our professional development. I am listing what works for me with the hopes that it might also work for someone else.

Okay, let’s get started.

1. Our Smart Phones

In our pockets, and often in our hands, we have more computing power than that which put Neil Armstrong on the moon. As such, we really need to think about using that technology in a more productive and more efficient way. Yes, we can browse sports scores, check Facebook updates, and flip through the latest musings on Twitter but we can do much more than that. We can make better use of our downtime (in doctor’s waiting offices, while riding the train, etc.) to enable ourselves to lead a better life.

TOOLS: Your smart phone

2. Get your Tasks Done!

As a practitioner of David Allen’s GTD, I am committed to getting all of my to do list items out of my head into a system that tracks them. I use an app called ToodleDo. Admittedly, the app doesn’t have the greatest user-interface, but it is very functional, very powerful and easy to access via my iPhone, iPad and laptop.

TOOLS: ToodleDo

3. Keep Yourself Informed

Through RSS, we can find the news and blog sites that cover the topics and industries that are relevant to our careers. Spend some time subscribing to the content that we should know, we want to know and really, we have to know. By aggregating those blog feeds in a single location, we avoid having to remember which sites to check. We can then organize our blog feeds by topic, by industry, by sport … in whatever way makes most sense to us as individuals.

TOOLS: I use Feedly and Pocket, while others recommend Flipboard and Zite.

4. Turn On and Tune In

Fact: podcasts are a great way to learn a lot of information about practically every topic under the sun. Podcasts are little radio programs or shows that typically last between 5-30 minutes and cover a very specific topic.

TOOLS: iTunes, Podcast app

On a side note, I previously wrote about some quality podcasts that are well worth a listen.

5. Adding to Your Reading List

Finding, downloading and reading relevant white papers are a great way to find industry insight, practices and trends. Often, companies and thought leaders will give away white papers in exchange for our willingness to join a distribution list – or to at least submit our email address. White papers are typically distributed in PDF format so we can read them on just about any computer device we have.

If we find a particularly good white paper, we can always consider engaging with the author through email or social media. Most authors (all authors?) love feedback about their work, so by submitting thoughtful and intelligent feedback (both positive or negative), we can work to grow our network with industry thought leaders.

TOOLS: white papers, PDF reader (on a smart phone, iPad, laptop)

6. Note Everything: Evernote

Evernote is a great cross-device for capturing and storing all sorts of information: client information, business data that needs to be accessed now-again-again. It’s also great for personal information: recipes, cocktails, scans of our child’s homework assignment. Evernote allows for different notebooks (e.g., one for each project, each client, each of our children, etc.), is searchable (entries can be tagged) and can store all sorts of file types (images, Word documents, PDFs, etc.)

For great tips and advice about how to use Evernote in creative and effective way, check out the Evernote blog.

TOOLS: Evernote

7. Charge Your Pen!

Livescribe is a digital pen that records what we have written on papers and electronically transcribes that for storing in Evernote. So, what we write, sketch or note down on a paper notebook become accessible, shareable and searchable on our phones, tablets and computers.

Perhaps ever more cool is that Livescribe can audio record our conversations or the presentation we’re attending and will sync that audio recording with our notes. Livescribe enables users to capture not only our own interpretations of content we’re consuming (through our handwritten notes), but also the original content itself (through the recorded audio.)

With Livescribe, seminars, client meetings, creative brainstorming sessions can be easily and conveniently be better recorded in an unintrusive manner.

TOOLS: Livescribe, Evernote

8. Email

In an age where email seems like old technology, it’s important to appreciate that it’s a hugely powerful tool for connecting with people. Everyone checks their own email, so if we have access to that email address, then we can bring ourselves to the attention of someone who matters to us. Remember: we don’t have to know someone to email them. No, I am not suggesting that we spam people, but a well-crafted, personal note sent via email can be a great way to engage with someone.

It’s definitely worth researching how to craft introductory emails. Do your research so as to put the best foot forward.

TOOLS: Email regardless of the program or app

9. Twitter

Just like email, Twitter is not something people outsource except for maybe Justin Beiber and Tom Cruise. We can use Twitter to connect with the thought leaders, key influencers and others in our industry. We can use Twitter as a communication tool to follow and engage with those outside of our network.

TOOLS: Twitter

10. LinkedIn

So much has been written about how all professionals must be on LinkedIn. I won’t rehash those conversations here, but I can state that I have picked up work projects through LinkedIn. It has been worthwhile to make sure that my profile is updated and that I use LinkedIn to post the occasional status update.

TOOLS: LinkedIn

11. Blog it, Baby!

As I discussed with Joe McGonigal on The Dental Sales podcast, a personal website or blog can be a fantastic way to grow an online brand or reputation. We can use a blog to share our own thoughts on an industry trend, to discuss a hot topic and to share other content that we feel our network would find interesting or of value.

TOOLS: WordPress (either WordPress.com or WordPress.org)

12. Going Old School: The Phone

If email is considered an old technology, then the telephone is absolutely ancient. Yet, few communication tools enable such a strong connection like a telephone. The human voice with its inflection, its tone, its unique sound, has a way of making itself understood in ways that the written word cannot. Sometimes, a quick telephone call can do more to build trust, deepen a relationship and strengthen a business relationship than an email, tweet or online status update.

TOOLS: Telephone

13. Skype and Google+

If the telephone is the tried and true medium of communication for the human voice, then Skype and Google+ are the ones to take us that much closer to an in-person meeting. With the ability to speak over our computer, to use of webcams to see each other and to share our computer screens (for online collaboration), these two applications are profoundly changing the way that we can connect with each other remotely. Each technology has its own set of rules of etiquette, so it’s worth spending some time to see how others are using them. (When in doubt, Google it first.)

TOOLS: Skype, Google+

Harnessing Technology: The Slides

If you’re after the slides from my talk about technology for professional development, they are below.

What did I miss?

Lastly, please take a moment to let me know what technologies I missed. Do you use something else? Do you use one of the technologies listed above in a particularly cool or efficient way? Let me know!

The Power and Importance of Perseverance

Thoughts on the value of persevering towards one’s goals in light of Diana Nyad’s amazing swimming feat.

A map of Diana Nyad's swim

On Labor Day 2013, long distance swimmer Diana Nyad achieved one of her life’s goals. In case you missed all the press coverage, the 64-year old long distance swimmer swam from the shores of Havana, Cuba to Key West, in Florida. That’s a 103-mile swim through the shark and jellyfish infested waters of the open sea. It took Nyad just under 53 hours to complete the swim.

While I followed the story on Twitter and on the news outlets, I was very, very excited for Diana. I was so impressed by her willingness to work so hard — she trained for years to make the swim — to achieve one of her life’s goals.

What really got me was when I learned that Nyad’s successful swim this month was her fifth attempt. She had first tried to complete the swim in 1978. She was unsuccessful and was forced to give up.

She did not try again until 2009.

Then it took her four more attempts before she completed that journey. An astounding 35 years passed between Nyad’s first attempt and her successful completion on September 2, 2013.

When Nyad dragged herself out of the water, after 53 hours of swimming in the sea, she mumbled the following:

“I have three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team.”

Whoah! Those three messages are intense.

Let’s look at each one separately.

(1) We should never, ever give up: Nyad worked towards a major life goal for 35 years. 35 years! That sort of determination, if we could work it into our life, would undoubtedly push us farther than most, if not all, of our competition.

(2) You’re never too old to chase your dream: Chasing our dreams as we get older can be increasingly difficult, but it’s still possible. The focus and drive that Nyad showed in completing her swim is the same that can bring us success regardless of our age. Chase down those dreams with vigor, energy and focus and they will happen.

(3) It looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team: If that is not also true of life, I don’t know what is. In life and in business, we are never completely on our own. We’re constantly relying on our family, friends, colleagues and others for help and support. When chasing our dreams, we need to be mindful and grateful for the support we get from the team around us.

I am so pleased for Diana Nyad. More so, I am so grateful to her for sharing those three simple, powerful thoughts as she exited the water in Key West. I am inspired.

Diana Nyad is online at diananyad.com.

The Professional Value of a Personal Recommendation

A professional contact’s post about his favorite podcasts has led me to consider the value of making recommendations to others in the marketplace.

This past spring, a professional contact and friend published a blog post listing a few of his favorite sales-focused podcasts. After reading that post, I checked out the recommendations and have since become a regular listener of three of them.

Networking = Offering Value

Every time that I listen to these podcasts, I think of my contact — the guy who recommended them. I find myself feeling grateful all over again that I heard about these great professional resources from a trusted source in the marketplace. And that always gets me thinking about the value of making recommendations to professional contacts.

The basic premise here is that sharing knowledge, insight and skills is the most valuable way to approach networking. Don’t ask what a potential networking opportunity can do for you — ask what you can bring to that opportunity. The personal recommendation is the same. Consider what tools, resources or guidance you can offer to your contacts as a way to help them get ahead. (Tip of the hat here to Dan Kowalski, a management consultant who delivered that key message in a presentation that I attended in April 2013.)

Since my friend, Joe McGonigal of SCC Partners, shared that post, I’ve taken the following actions, some consciously, and some less so.

  • Paid more attention to Joe’s Twitter feed looking for other recommended gems,
  • Become a regular reader of the SCC Partners blog,
  • Made a point of recommending Joe and SCC Partners to other professional colleagues and friends.

Of course, I’ve also been learning from Joe’s recommended podcasts and have been taking actions from what I’ve learned in those podcasts. (In fact, I just implemented something I learned while driving and listening to a podcast on Tuesday of last week. That step, asking a question of a client, paid a return by Saturday of that same week.)

Joe’s blog post about recommended podcasts — The 7 Best Podcasts for Sales People — has delivered so much value to me that I know I owe Joe at least one favor, and probably a handful of them. I’m constantly on the look out for a chance to give back to Joe.

And that’s how networking works …

Recommended Podcasts

Getting back to the recommended podcasts, I’ll share my favorites from that initial list.

The Advanced Selling Podcast:

advancedsellingpodcast.com
Every week these guys cover some aspect of selling. While their audience is, strictly speaking, sales professionals, their messages, ideas and suggestions hold true for any professional. (Also, we’re all in sales anyway.)

HBR IdeaCast

blogs.hbr.org/ideacast
A wide-ranging podcast that covers all sorts of matters within the field of business – everything from being efficient in the office to growing your brand globally.

The Accidental Creative

accidentalcreative.com
A mix of tips, ideas and strategies to drive creativity, these short podcasts pack a lot of value for any listener looking for ways to up their professional game.

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Philly ‘burbs WordPress Meetup: Considering Purpose and Community

A thoughtful look at the purpose of the Philly ‘burbs WordPress Meetup and the role of community in that group.

Philly 'burbs WordPress Meetup

As the Philly ‘burbs WordPress Meetup moves steadily into its second year, I want to share my own thoughts on what I consider to be the purpose, goals and spirit of the group. Admittedly, the following ideas are my own and only mine. Yet, it is my hope that in posting this writing, I can shed some light on my own hopes and aims for our growing group.

As of today, we are nearing 200 members in the Philly ‘burbs WordPress Meetup. Some are more active than others. Some attend more regularly than others. Some deliver presentations regularly, while others prefer to join in the open conversations. That’s all wonderful. The group thrives on the diversity of its members, on their varying professional interests, skills and their independent and unique viewpoints.

The Purpose of Our Group

When I first began thinking about starting a WordPress focused meetup, I really wanted to bring together the designers and developers who work with WordPress on a daily basis and the marketers, bloggers and site administrators who use this amazing software. As stated in the About us … section of our meetup page, “We focus on both design and development considerations (tips, techniques and hacks) as well as user concerns like expanded functionality and best practices.” After 13 meetups, I hope that we are fulfilling that goal.

As can be expected with such a remit, we have a great range of skills among our members — some are quite marketing savvy while others are more technically minded. Some code sites every day, while others steer clear of code like it’s the plague. That’s great. We aim to encourage both groups (designers/developers and marketers/bloggers) to push their limits and to step outside of their comfort levels. Only by pushing ourselves and taking on new challenges can we hope to improve our skills and develop professionally.

Fertile Ground for an Exchange of Ideas

A fundamental aspect of our meetup is the exchange of ideas from people with different perspectives and different professional backgrounds. The exposure to new ideas and practices has created an engaging dynamic among our group: people learn from each other, even if they don’t always adopt each other’s ideas or practices. By immersing ourselves in an environment of shared ideas, we can develop a wider understanding of WordPress, its use and its value. I know that I have certainly learned a lot about both WordPress and, more generally, web development through the presentations and conversations that have flowed at our gatherings.

A Challenge is an Opportunity to Grow

Invariably our approach challenges some of our members — and I feel that’s a good thing. I am eager for those less code-minded to improve their technical knowledge and skill. I’m also focused on encouraging our designers and developers to learn more about the needs, work and practices of our marketing professionals and bloggers. The idea is simply the more we know, the better we can be at our job — regardless of what our job is.

From month to month, the presentations do range in their technical focus or emphasis. We may have a tech-heavy presentation in one month, followed the next month by something less so. The presentations always focus on WordPress.

What We’re Not

To be clear, we have taken deliberate steps to avoid becoming a monthly WordPress training course. Yes, we want people to learn something every month, but as we rely on our members and other volunteers to serve as speakers, I don’t think turning our meetup into a formal training environment would be feasible or even desirable.

Constructive Feedback is the Brainchild of Improvement

The beauty of a group meetup is the exchange of ideas and feedback. In group settings, especially with such an informal setting as we have with the Philly ‘burbs WordPress Meetup, it can be difficult to get everything right for everyone at every juncture. That’s to be expected. As such, I truly appreciate when our members take the time to offer constructive insight and feedback on the comings and goings of the group. That sort of information, be it positive reviews or constructive complaints, is the only way that our meetup can improve, grow and continue to add value to our members.

Keep Moving Forward

As I look forward to our next meetup, I am reminded of a mantra of Lewis Robinson, the orphan turned brilliant inventor in Disney’s Meet the Robinsons. His byline was “Keep Moving Forward.” I hope that our own group embraces such an inspiring thought and continues to grow and flourish in the coming months and years.

As always, I welcome your thoughts, ideas, critiques and feedback below in the comments.

WordPress Plugin: Feed Anonymizer

A shout-out to a local developer who put together a simple WordPress plugin in between finishing his breakfast and getting his kids to the bus.

Feed Anonymizer plugin

As a co-founder and co-editor of chickenmonkeydog, I have a story to share with you. I want to share this story because it demonstrates a certain business savvy, a dedication to community and a professionalism that stands out from the ordinary.

On chickenmonkeydog.com, we publish anonymously. We think it’s part of our appeal. Our readers don’t know which of the writers shared which quirky observation. However, WordPress adds author information to the RSS feeds by default. Then Google Reader comes along (and perhaps others will in its wake) and picks that up, highlighting which author wrote a specific piece.

Historically, I’ve just hacked the WordPress core to override that functionality. Admittedly, that’s not an ideal approach, but it was for my own site and it was a single, simple hack.

Over time, my impromptu approach meant that I always had to remember to hack the core every time we update WordPress on the site. On at least a few occasions, I forgot to do so in a timely fashion, allowing our readers to circumvent our attempt at quirky anonymity.

This past spring, I emailed a web developer that I knew, asking if he’d be up for coding a plugin or an addition to the functions.php for me. I believe that my initial email made it clear that I was more than willing to pay for the help — I was not seeking a freebie or favor.

In looking at my sent items, I see that I sent the first email at 5:08 am. At 7:18 pm, I received an email from the developer with a link to a plugin on the WordPress.org repository:

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/feed-anonymizer/

My initial reaction was ‘How did I miss this plugin earlier?’ Then, after some gentle prodding from the web developer, I saw that the plugin has just been posted that same day and it was written by the developer. Whoah! I later learned that the plugin was actually written in between the time that the developer finished breakfast and saw his children onto the morning school bus. Double whoah!

In thinking about the story, I think we can draw a number of interesting conclusions:

  1. Good web developers are doers. They see a problem, they quickly assess a reasonable solution and they write the code.
  2. A quick favor is a solid business move. Since this plugin was created, I’ve involved this web developer on a number of small projects, and I continue to look for ways to involve him in others.
  3. The WordPress community is a giving one. As I mentioned above, I was prepared to pay for code. Although chickenmonkeydog.com does not generate income, I thought it fair to pay for web development to improve the quality of experience for our readers. That this web developer not only wrote the code for free, but did so in a single day, shows just how generous and giving those within the WordPress community can be.

By now, you’re probably asking yourself “Who is this famed web developer?” He is Owen Winkler, @ringmaster on Twitter and a regular contributor to the Philly ‘burbs WordPress Meetup. In fact, you can watch Owen develop and launch a custom WordPress site in 30 minutes at the July 2013 meetup.

10 Things I Learned in the First Year of Running a WordPress Meetup

A look back at 10 things I learned in the first year of running the meetup.

Philly 'burbs WordPress Meetup

When I first started thinking about organizing the Philly ‘burbs WordPress Meetup, I really had no idea what I might be getting myself into. Since those early days, first talking to Doug Stewart and Brad Williams, planning with Coreen Tossona, it’s been an amazing ride. I’ve met so many new and interesting people. I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve certainly learned a ton about WordPress. It’s been a fantastic ride!

1. Be Prepared to Be Surprised

After 12 great WordPress meetups, I’ve learned to expect surprises at all times. Some wonderful surprises. Some less than desirable surprises. But always something. The best surprise has been the level of interest in the meetup and the support that the established WordPress community has lent in our first year. Many experienced WordPress designers and developers have spoken to our group, generously giving of their time and skills. On the downside, the difficulties of relying on volunteers and the vagaries of hosting free events has thrown the most challenges in my way.

2. Focus on Community is its Own Reward

In Philly, there is a shining light of how to build a successful and productive community: Alex Hillman. Although I’ve never met the Fearless Leader of Indy Hall, I follow him on Twitter and learn from him every day. His focus on community as a goal in and of itself has shown me the light. Giving to a community always brings return to those who give. It’s a wonderful dynamic. I know that I have reaped more than I have sown with this great group.

3. WordPress: Build It and They Will Come

WordPress is a hugely popular content management system – and deservedly so. As word of its flexibility and scalability has grown, more and more people have become eager to join WordPress meet-ups. All I needed to to do was announce the new Philly ‘burbs WordPress meetup, and people started showing up. There is no need for any special event planning skills — just issue the call and people will join in.

4. Involve Others and Others Will be Involved

Speaking in front of a crowd is not something a lot of people do regularly. By providing a welcoming and pleasant audience, our meetup group has encouraged a wide range of people to speak about WordPress, plugins, fonts and more. The friendliness of the group has made it easy (well, easier anyway) for me as an organizer to find new speakers. Whenever I asked a member to speak about a topic — any WordPress topic — unfailingly I received a ‘yes’ reply. We’ve had so many different people — men, women, older, younger, developer, designer, blogger and marketer — deliver great presentations. To see the community volunteering to share the load has been very cool.

5. Nothing is Free

While attending our meetup has been free to all comers, I’ve come to understand more thoroughly the phrase that “nothing is free”. I have a new found respect for those who expended their own energy and time to organize the many free events that I’ve attended over the years. Organizing a free monthly meeting that offers value to attendees takes a lot of work. I now understand that better than I ever have before.

6. The WordPress Community is AWESOME

I’ve talked about the special and generous nature of the WordPress community. My experiences at WordCamp Philly 2012 really cemented my deep appreciation of the WordPress community. That Matt Mullenweg would take time on his Sunday to travel to another city to hang out with a bunch of people who like the software he started speaks volumes. Closer to home, the Philadelphia WordPress Meetup Group, and its organizers, have offered much insight, support and friendship in helping us get off the ground.

7. Hidden Gems Are Everywhere

Never judge a book by its cover, and never, ever, judge a meetup attendee by their appearance. I like to think I keep an open mind, but running this meetup has pushed me further. Knowledge and generosity is hidden behind the faces and smiles of many a person. I’ve been surprised time and time again by what I have been able to learn from the most unlikely of sources. It really has been a case of “treat every stone as a diamond”.

8. Get Ready to Push Yourself

Organizing a monthly meetup about any topic is not easy. Delivering a consistently valuable, enjoyable and dynamic experience takes a lot of time and energy. Paying attention to the little details requires a committed focus. And that’s just the start. I’ve been forced to learn more about WordPress. To make sure that each meetup is as good as it can be, I’ve been forced to work harder and longer than I expected. That’s not a complaint; I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. (Well, almost every minute …)

9. It’s Not About Money

Open source software and GPL aside, WordPress meetups should not be about the money. At our meetup, we deliberately avoid the sales approach: speakers are allowed only a minute or two to introduce themselves and their work. Yet, we meet to discuss WordPress and to create a network that many of our group use for business. By focusing on community, sharing of knowledge and experience and building a strong network, our meetup grow has generated financial value for some members. Although I don’t have any firm numbers, I know anecdotally that a number of people in our group have worked together as a result of coming together through our group.

10. Consistency is Key

Anyone who knows me fully appreciates that I am by no measure an event planner. Getting it right takes a lot of focus from me. I struggle with it. Yet, I’ve learned that delivering consistency is key to a successful community building effort. Not boring repetitiveness but a level of predictably that allows members of our meetup group to develop a comfort level in our surroundings.

Advanced Custom Fields: A Designer’s Approach

Slides and thoughts from my presentation about the Advanced Custom Fields plugin for WordPress.

Liam speaking to the Philadelphia WordPress Meetup

On Thursday, 07 February, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak to the Philadelphia WordPress Meetup about Advanced Custom Fields: A Designer’s Approach. I walked the group through the process of using the Advanced Custom Fields plugin on a WordPress install.

My slides from the presentation are below.

That WordPress Community

Although it won’t be a surprise to anyone within the WordPress community, I have to say that I was blown away by the receptiveness of the audience. It was my first attempt at delivering a technically-minded “how to” presentation. Rather than pour disdain on my trepid steps to improve my code-knowledge, the audience was supportive and respectful of “a designer’s approach”. In retrospect, I should have expected nothing less from the WordPress community.

Yet I think it says a lot about the community when it is so welcoming and supportive of different professional approaches and backgrounds.

Photo credit: Andy Christian. Used with permission.