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Mika has been involved with WordPress for about two years. Prior to that she was teaching small business owners how to build their websites.
This led her to start attending WordPress meetups and WordCamps; she’s been to three WordCamps thus far.
Today she tells us her story about a time at WordCamp Phoenix this year. She found the Wordfence stall where they were getting people to pick locks. Having done this before, she felt that this would be easy, but it wasn’t (on the first day).
She failed to pick any, but came back the next day to have another go and did it really fast.
But WordCamps are not all about picking locks, and Mika has other memories about talks that she’s attended which inspired her. The talks were about freelancing and blogging as well as distributed working and how to do this without feeling isolated.
This is an important message. You don’t need feel alone if you’re a WordPresser. You can go to WordCamps and get yourself into the community, to get some support, to hang around with people just like you.
And remember… Together we can #PressForward
Featured on this podcast:
Micah Dailey: 00:00 Hello and happy Thursday. Friends, you’re listening to the PressForward podcast. My name is Micah daily and this is edition number nine of PressPause, a mini series created in collaboration by WP&UP a nonprofit dedicated to providing mental health and wellness support to the WordPress community and WPMU Dev. The company that I work for, PressPause is an effort to remind you, our listeners, to pause and be reminded that you’re not alone for freelancers, small business owners and remote workers. It can be easy to forget or just never know the wonders of the WordPress community, but as soon as you walk into the doors at a WordCamp or local meetup, WordPress takes on a whole new meaning and that is what we hope to capture on this show. In each episode, Nathan Wrigley and I jump on calls with WordCamp attendees all around the world and ask them to share the moments that have stuck with them past the camps they went to. It could be a funny interaction, inspiring conversation, a session that has changed the way they do things or a special new friendship at its core. WordPress is made up of real people and who knows? Maybe these stories will inspire some of you to go out and meet them. Okay.
Micah Dailey: 01:29 This episode of PressPause is brought to you by WPMU Dev WordPress site owners know just how time consuming and frustrating it can be to run backups and updates. Stay on top of security and optimization and provide a streamlined process for reports and branding, especially for those of us who look after multiple sites. Well, never fear cause WPMU Dev is here and a single membership to they’re all in one platform can help you automate and manage every one of those things. Plus you get access to their dedicated hosting and 24 seven support. Visit WPM, udev.com today to start your 30 day free trial.
Micah Dailey: 02:18 All right. Just let me make sure I got the levels okay here. Can you tell me what you had for breakfast today? I’m actually, it had cereal today. All right, I think we’re good. Earlier this year I released a journalistic podcast series about WordPress called hello WP. A few weeks later, I went to my first local WordCamp, WordCamp Phoenix 2019 and that is where I met Mika.
Mika Benjamin: 02:44 Yes. So my name is Mika. Um, I got involved with WordPress about two years ago, I believe, 2017. Um, uh, for a while I was teaching small business owners how to build website using WordPress. So then once I started doing that, um, I got more and more involved, uh, attending meetups, going to WordCamp Phoenix. Also, you know, learning how to build my own sites using WordPress and getting more into WordPress development also.
Micah Dailey: 03:15 Cool. So, yeah, let’s, let’s talk WordCamps. How many have you been to, what was your first one, kind of, what’s your WordCamp history?
Mika Benjamin: 03:25 Um, this work in Phoenix this year 2019 was my third. And um, the first time I wanted it was, it was pretty interesting. Um, I didn’t know what to expect. Yeah, it was really funny. I’m going to all the different talks and meeting different people I’ve ever been able to put a face to, to companies. Basically, you know, seeing different plugins, companies and theme companies and seeing who works behind the scenes was pretty cool.
Micah Dailey: 03:51 That’s awesome. So, so what’s your favorite experience? What’s your favorite story from a WordCamp?
Mika Benjamin: 03:57 Um, I would have to see from a recently this year where it can’t, Phoenix Wordfence had a booth where they were doing a lock picking and I thought that was really cool and I’ve done it before. So I went over expecting that I was going to lock basically all of them. And I even mentioned like, Hey, I’ve done this before, so this should be sort of like a cakewalk. And it didn’t end up that way. I wasn’t even able to unlock the easiest one. So basically shot myself in the foot in the beginning. But they did still give me like the lock picking Kit. Like, hey, thanks for try, like we got to feel so sorry for you, but good effort. So then the next day I went back sort of with a vengeance. It’s like I have to at least unlock the first one. And I was able to get through mostly all of them.
Mika Benjamin: 04:48 Um, and they had a competition going on that second day for whoever got the fastest time would win a, I believe it’s a $200 gift card. So me and some friends were over there, you know, trying, and we got through the first, second, third pick and the lock. And then a few people were actually really breaking the records. Um, I think the fastest when I first got there was about a minute or so, and then someone did it in 16 seconds and another person who didn’t like nine. Wow. So we had, uh, a challenge ahead of us. And the funniest part is that I completely forgot about the competition when I picked up the competition lock. We’ve got to tell them, hey, time me, I’m going to try this one. And I solved it in about three seconds. As soon as I did it, I’m just like, wait a minute, I forgot to tell you to talk to. They’re like, no. And I didn’t do it over again. And of course I didn’t beat the fastest time, but it was really fun just to be over there and to talk to them. They’re really cool. Everyone looks for Wordfence there. They’re really awesome team. Um, but just to be over there and you know, picking the locks in, just having a great conversation there. Enjoying the time. That was, that was definitely the best name rate by far.
Micah Dailey: 06:00 That’s cool. What if you, if you can remember what’s like a really memorable session you’ve been to?
Mika Benjamin: 06:07 Um, interesting enough, the ones that I remember off the top of my head aren’t necessarily WordPress related. Yeah. So I would say the first two are for the first word Camp I went to, which I believe was working at Phoenix 2017. Uh, Shayda Turabi had a great one talking about how she started, you know, doing a blog and in freelancing and working with WordPress, which I thought was really great. Um, another one was from this year was, uh, Chris from Sand Hills. Oh yeah. So, um, he did a talk about working remotely but also mentioned the challenges and made sure to go over how it’s important that you still need to either be involved in some sort of group or a club or if you are working remotely to try to go to coworking spaces so that you’re around other people because he can get lonely.
Mika Benjamin: 07:01 Um, you’d cover, uh, you know, mental health as well because it is, you know, um, very important to make sure that people do know that there are resources out there and there are people who have similar experiences and that if you are going through things like that and working remotely and being home alone all the time can sort of, you know, sometimes make those situations a bit worse. So he was putting that out there and gave out resources for people to contact depending on what you’re possibly going through or how you can sort of do, make sure you’re, you’re just not alone and single down all the time.
Micah Dailey: 07:41 Like I said earlier in the show, it can be easy to forget you’re not alone when you’re alone. So often on the first day of WordCamp Phoenix, back in February, Mika came up to our booth with a big smile and told my brother Josh and I that she liked hello WP. No, I’m the first to admit that I liked validation probably too much, but this compliment was more than that to me. I had been working alone for nearly seven months on this project and that isolation was starting to wear on me more than I think I realized at the time having Mika and a few others find me to basically say, Hey, I see you and what you’re doing really meant a lot to me. We need community because sometimes we need validation and encouragement and we need community to help us learn and grow. Last question for you. If you had a, an opportunity to kind of invite somebody to a WordCamp, what, what would be kind of your, um, your way of being like, hey, you should check this out. Why should, why should people check out WordCamps
Mika Benjamin: 08:46 um, I feel like if you’re, even if you’re not familiar with what WordPress is or you do have an interest in, you know, building a website or building website for yourself or your business or other people, I think it’s just cool to hear from the different sides and different perspective of how WordPress would have runs. It’s just also really cool to just be around those who are also involved. Um, you get a lot of cool things, you know, stickers and shirts and so forth, but I feel like it’s just a well rounded learning opportunities.
Micah Dailey: 09:19 The PressForward podcast is a production of WP&UP the PressPause mini series is a collaborative effort by WPMU Dev and WP&UP Nathan Wrigley and me, Micah Dailey produced this episode and I created the original score, a massive thank you to Mika for her time and willingness to chat with me on this episode and thank all of you for listening. Remember that together we can #PressForward.