WordCamp San Francisco 2014 Recap

There’s many reasons I like developing with WordPress. It’s adaptable and extensible. You can do simple things with it, but you can also do very complex things with it as well. It’s well supported. It’s continually being improved and upgraded, all the while staying backwards compatible. This means even the oldest sites running WordPress won’t falter.

But one of the best aspect about WordPress is the community. Instead of hoarding information, other WordPress developers tend share their knowledge, teaching each other so the platform as a whole can grow.

Many major cities have WordPress festivals called WordCamps. Recently, I attended the WordCamp San Francisco 2014. I met many people I had previously only talked to online. I met many people I had never talked to at all before. I listened to presentations from many great speakers, and took away new insights that I could use on future projects.

Continue reading “WordCamp San Francisco 2014 Recap”

Why Writing Is A Priority

Recently, a successful local designer asked me whether I got up in the morning and immediately started coding, or was I the type that slept in a bit and coded all night long.

This is probably a common question, but it threw me a little, because it seemed so binary in its implications. My response was that I tried to begin each morning by writing, when it was still quiet, before the working day started. I think this response also threw my designer friend a bit.

There’s a morbid fascination with workaholism as a badge of honor in our industry. My feeling is that you need to reflect often on what you’re trying to achieve, or you end up redoubling your efforts while losing sight of your original goals.

The writing thing is something that I’ve always done anyway. But when writing is a priority, it seems to focus your thoughts on who you’re trying to reach, and what you want to say to them. It helps you see what needs addressing. It helps you to teach yourself while you’re teaching others. It helps you crystallize your thoughts in a way that many people do not.

Writing seems to be secondary to doing in web culture. But it seems like a lot of bad ideas and wasted time could be avoided by thinking for a half hour and just getting stuff down on paper. We celebrate hackathons than happen for no other reason than to crush code, but no one knows who those people are unless they are another hacker.

There’s very few thought leaders that are inarticulate. The people who give us ideas and shape our industries are those who make the time to write each day. How valuable is it to share ideas or educate to you or the people you work with? Is it a priority, or is it an afterthought?

The work is always going to be there. You can work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and still find things to do. Time is a vacuum that we insist on filling. If we don’t fill it, we feel worthless, or we fear others will deem us worthless. As a survival instinct, we work harder and harder to keep running in place. That’s brutal.

Carving out time to write isn’t something I thought of on my own. It’s something that I saw a ton of other people who seem to be getting somewhere talk about. I try things to see how they work — hacking the laws of the Universe, if you will. So far, it seems to be working out. You’re reading this right now, after all.

So, I encourage you to try writing a bit each day. Even if you never publish anything, it will make you a better critical thinker, and quite possibly open a door or two for you. Writing things down makes them more concrete — it brings them into reality. It enables your ideas to be spread.

That work will always be there, but if you don’t decide for yourself how to use your time, someone else will.

How I’ve Changed Since Then

It was not all that long ago, but when I remember it, it seems like another lifetime ago.

I was a father and husband. My son was still very little. I was the breadwinner for our family. I had a lot of pride in my job and my profession. It felt like I was on the fast track to anywhere I could imagine going.

We moved to a large city with literally a week’s notice. If I had stopped to notice, I would have seen everything crumbling then, but everything was about work and keeping people happy, so they would elevate me how I believed they would.

Things went really well for a few years. My bosses bosses’ spoke to me a lot about business, and the future. I pretty much never stopped working. I didn’t take breaks and worked through lunch almost every day. Maybe this was why the higher-ups liked me. I didn’t ever stop to find out. I was addicted to feeling successful. My home life was a shambles, but at least I had work.

Right about the time I was in line for a promotion, everything seemed to change. One of the people who was in my district manager’s ear had it out for me, though I didn’t know this at the time. Not only was I passed for the promotion I had been told I was getting, for the next several years, I was quietly transferred to lower-profile locations and finally eradicated from the company.

To be honest, I would have done the same. At the time, my personal life was a mess. In hindsight, I feel most of it had to do with putting work ahead of everything else. The reason I was doing it was for my family, but I didn’t see how I should have said “Fuck It” to a whole lot of situations that I was enabling.

Fast forward seven years. Life still isn’t easy. There are still things that I have no choice but to deal with. But today, I’m a lot clearer about what I will and will not allow. I have my own lines in the sand that come from experiencing many less-than-ideal situations.

I’m very lucky and blessed to have a partner who has my back just as much as I have hers. I have a son who must find his own way and define who he is as he gets closer to adulthood. These relationships, and a handful of others, are things that I value and prioritize. This means having things like regular office hours, so that I have time to spend, and don’t damage my relationships with the people who mean the most. It means putting people first: always being honest and transparent with everyone. Remembering that family and loved ones deserve me at my best, not at my worst. It means having reasonable boundaries, and expecting the same respect that I give to others.

That’s another amazing thing that has happened to me in the last five years. Through dedication and work, I’ve been able to create a new career path for myself. No one gave me this education; I had to take it for myself. It has been a major component in reclaiming the personal power and self-respect that I relinquished from my life for so long.

Things are still growing. It hasn’t been all unicorns and rainbows. But I don’t regret my decisions for a second. Money comes and goes, but who you choose to become is what remains with you. That’s the part that endures and matters.

I feel good about my world. It took me a while to get here. But I know who I am, and I’m comfortable in my own skin. I’m not about to let that change.