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WordCamp changed my life – #PressPause mini podcast series – #010

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This is just such a great story. It’s all about the transformation that something like WordCamp can have, if you’re willing to attend.

Rich has been working with the web and WordPress for a few years, but he was yet to discover the WordPress community. In fact, he was not even really aware that there was all that much of a community. Then he discovered WordCamps and all that changed.

But, that’s not the story… the story is about the journey to get to the WordCamp and the fact that Rich was not all that sure that he even wanted to go. On the journey down he found himself doubting that WordCamp would be for him. It would be full of people who would know more than him, those same people would not want to talk to him, it would be easier to turn the car right around and just stay at home because that is easier and less of a cause of anxiety.

Somehow though, Rich made it to his first WordCamp and met some people. They were nice people and they got along together. Before Rich knew it the first hour had passed, and then the morning, and then the first day, and nothing bad had occurred.

That evening Rich began to think about a future that he’s never seen for himself, he got lost in thought and literally lost in the city!

From that moment on his life has been transformed. He’s found new friends, new opportunities, a new environment for his work and new future.

This is a story about stepping out of what’s comfortable and doing something new, and ending up at a place that you had no idea existed.

We hope you enjoy the show, please do subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. We’re always looking for feedback, if you have any thoughts or comments, please do reach out.

And remember… Together we can #PressForward 

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Podcast Transcript

Nathan Wrigley: 00:02 Once again, thanks for joining us on this our 10th episode in the mini series that we’ve called PressPause. This is a collaboration between WP&UP and WPMU Dev in which we ask people about their WordCamp experiences. I’m Nathan Wrigley and it’s been great fun to be joined by Micah Dailey and this endeavour. If you’ve not had a chance to listen to the previous nine episodes, I can highly recommend them. You’re going to find them over at wpandup.org forward slash podcasts. This is a show that gives you a moment to pause and remember that that’s it’s heart. WordPress is made up of real people, people who are just like you, they’re into WordPress, possibly for the code. Maybe they’re a freelance worker or perhaps they work out of an agency, whatever the reason might be. It’s fun and interesting to get them all together in one place at the same time so that they can share their passion with people who understand and that is a WordCamp.

Nathan Wrigley: 01:29 This show has two purposes. Number one is for you to be able to listen to WordCamp stories and enjoy them. And that’s great, but there’s also a deeper purpose and that is to encourage those of you who have not had a chance to attend, to go for it. Take heart from what you hear and realize that whoever you are, whatever you do, whatever your background, you’re going to fit right in. Right? Let’s get on with the show. This edition of press pause is brought to you by Green Geeks. Green Geeks offers an awesome managed web hosting platform that’s built for speed, security and scalability whilst being environmentally friendly enjoy a better web hosting experience for your WordPress website with Green Geeks. So today we’re going to be talking about how WordCamps can literally change your life. Quite a claim. So let’s get started.

Rich Flynn: 02:39 So my name’s Rich Flynn. I first found out about WordPress three years ago, uh, through WP Elevation, that was my sort of introduction to WordPress before that I as regards to building websites, only had experience with basically static HTML sites a little bit of Drupal. Yeah. So, and that was my introduction to WordPress.

Nathan Wrigley: 03:02 When we were setting up these PressPause podcast chats, we asked the participants to tell us a little bit about their story. And Rich’s story really sounded like it was transformational life changing.

Rich Flynn: 03:17 It was. Yeah. Well, so I was aware of work comes before London last year course. So what can you say? I, I just really didn’t take any, any heat of, of, of them I thought, you know, I thought they weren’t for me. I thought these are, these are, these will be for guys who’ve been doing WordPress for 10 20 30 years, but real developers, etc. And without even looking at any further into it, I just, you know, just decided that it wasn’t for me. Coupled with the fact that I still struggle in, in any sort of situation with other people. So if it gets beyond 10 people say, I mean, I could say less but you know, they forget the bigger the crowd, the more I struggle with it and dislike and have done over years, so the thought of going to an event with people, real developers, people who knew a lot more than me and have more experienced than all the rest of it and much more successful, etc.

Rich Flynn: 04:12 Etc. Etc. Scared me to death. When last year I remember cups. Okay. Come back on the horizon and a knew, a couple of people who were on the scene, knew sorts of probably online relationship with a couple of guys that that would going and that sort of encouraged me to take a little look for that. Uh, so I booked to go and then all the time after, after booking and even booking accomodation and all the rest of it, I spent hours and hours in every day thinking I’m not going to go, I’m scared. So if we cut to the, to the day of the day before the event, I was actually driving that actually does have to drive that out. So as I was leaving my house I thought, right, I think I might just go back in the house and not go. And that internal conversation I had all the way from how the Liverpool all the way down to London and at various points I stopped off at service stations and looked at the map to see where it was a convenient turn around points where I could just turn the car around and go home and did that all the way down.

Rich Flynn: 05:14 Uh, even at the same conversation with me, with myself when I parked outside, my combination when I arrived, I thought it’s never to late I’ll just go. And that’s just continued. That continued through the night we met a of, that was the first time I met you bit I didn’t really meet you with sort of a pretty brief conversation in the pub. And that’s when I met Mike Killen face to face, which was I guess without Mike, I wouldn’t be able to got to WordCamp in the first place, through WP elevation and got to know Mike Killen, good rapport with them and got on well with them, you know, in the space so to speak. And then when I met him face to face, that sort of allayed some of my fears and I felt a bit more comfortable even though I had the butterflies all that Friday night and got up the following morning and saying beagain, butterflies, I can just get in the car, I can go home.

Rich Flynn: 05:59 All this non stop stuff. It’s just nonstop going through my mind even right up to the point of walking from the accommodation to the event. And then I want you to see event I met first of all walked in and this like, I was quite early, so freaked out about time as well. So I need to be early for everything. Three hours early for everything set. So walk in and I thought all these people, these look like the know what the hell am I doing here and all the rest. So walked the back into the copier and the first guy I spoke to was Mark. What a lovely, I mean just such a, I mean he put me at ease straight away. We had a chat and he’s, he’s, he’s got good experience and all the rest of it. I thought, well this guy knows a lot more than me, but he’s nice. And he’s friendly and he’s open and cool and then within and then Imogen Allen came in , I’d already known from a previous meeting in a different group, nothing to do with WordPress. And then more people came and spoke to Paul Lacey little bit and thought, wow, this guy is cool, everybody is so friendly. And, and that was just that from that point on, for the rest of the day, all my sort of fears and apprehensions were pretty much put to rest.

Nathan Wrigley: 07:01 So Rich made it to the WordCamp even though the entire journey there had been a battle. Then he got inside the event and met Mark, Imogen and Paul and they were nice to him and made him feel at ease. I wondered though if this was the end of his worries that weekend.

Rich Flynn: 07:22 Oh it comes back now now. That thing, you know I went to Lee’s events. Please do you want to have that massive that as well. I walked in and thought what the hell am I doing here? Same, same scenario. Really. So I don’t think that will ever go away. I’ll just those to control it better. I think as time goes on, I’ve done this, my, one of my goals for this year is to go through as many events as I possibly can that’ll just, you know conquer the issues I have. Yeah. So during the talks when you sort of, you’ve very busy cause your going from one room to the other and you know picking up swag and all that sort of stuff. You very busy. But then when it got to those time and just chill out time and people that she starts talking to each of them, that’s when I went outside and took 10 minutes, 10 minutes to stop and then went back in.

Rich Flynn: 08:06 And so yeah, it was, it was still at, yeah. still is s struggle. But, um, apart from that, apart from my personal stuff with that, I think that’s just the first day. It just completely blew my mind and really opened my eyes to the community that is in WordPress and what that community’s all about, which I knew nothing about, to be honest before that, I arrived to that day just thought it was a meet up for the people that did the same thing, but I didn’t, I didn’t have no idea. The openness, the value and the friendships that can be made from it and the impact it can have on you personally as well as your business and realized that that was there and available. So once that became apparent during the day and I was talking to more people and I’m so, you know, the cogs were starting to go in my head thinking what could do and I was still a I wasn’t 100% into this is what I’m going to do full time, you know, you could still go to my day job and yeah. So that sort of gave me the encouragement to carry on doing what I’m doing. So it was helpful in that way.

Nathan Wrigley: 09:03 What we haven’t yet really talked about is that Rich was by no means decided that he was going to continue working with the web. This event was a sort of litmus test to see if the web and WordPress specifically was a place that he wanted to invest his future in.

Rich Flynn: 09:21 I’ve run my own business in the past 20 years ago, used to run Chinese takeaways with my brother and a friend and did it really successfully. Well, it’s a hard job and it’s like 90 hours a week you don’t see the family really got no life and it’s not a particularly enjoyable job althoough I did enjoy it to a point. It’s all about the bottom line. It’s all about the money. I know that’s a bit soulless in that respect, so I built that up and it was quite successful from that. I did various things, but my last job was working in assisted technology, so I was a support worker initially for one of the programs in this company. He was totally blind so I used to drive around the country and you feel to meetings used to sort of system in what he was doing and that led me on to the more technical side of technology and stuff and started training up to go to to actually go out to people and help them to use different devices.

Rich Flynn: 10:10 You have been dragon naturally speaking that to, to sort of training well on that and all that sort of stuff and that sort of in a way let me onto websites because the company website, was like 1970s it’s horrible and up to that point done it. I’ve done a few websites just as a hobby for local businesses like restaurants and stuff and friends and they’ve got quoted some ridiculous figure for this very basic website, like 25 grand. And I said to the boss, I can do that if you want. I’ll just do it in works time and stuff. So I did the website, everybody was super happy with it and that sort of led me on to doing more websites. And then it got made redundant from that job because the company went bust and that’s where they made the decision to start out on me own.

Rich Flynn: 10:51 But because I came to it quite late in the day agewise as well and experience wise, it’s the competence thing as well. And do I really belong here and that I can just go back to the and what I was doing before the comfort zone if you will, you know. Well it’s a bit crazy, the first day was crazy. So I went to and events at the event. So the right way of putting it. So there’s a few drinks going off in the night time. Well, the first day, uh, which I stayed to a few drinks, talk more over the guys that had already met, you know, Mike Killen and a few of this and decided at some point that it probably should go back to my hotel. Otherwise with drink too much and tomorrow won’t be good. So actually he left at the same time as Mike and me walked up the roa and, and that’s, I was walking with him.

Rich Flynn: 11:32 I’m so just all the stuff was gone and I couldn’t really rest, you know, this stuff was going through my hat then walk back to the hotel was what about 20 minutes. And I thought well I’ll go. I still tell, you know, I just write a few notes about today and then go to sleep as it was a approaching the hotel there was no way I can sleep. I just can’t, it’s impossible. Cause my head this sort of on fire with all these stuff, got all these ideas and so I just felt, I just saw, I’m just go for a walk. So I ended up walking. That was set up by, I can’t remember exactly, but probably about 10:30 and like that. So I thought I’d just go for a walk. Bare in mind, I had no idea where I was. So as soon as I decided, as soon as I made that decision to walk past the hotel and go of that walk, I was lost there wasn’t taking any notice of where it’s walking.

Rich Flynn: 12:10 Really. I remember walking past Aresenal’s stadium. That’s about it. Apart from that, it got lost and I just kind of walking, I’m walking and walking and walking and before I knew it was half past three in the morning. Yeah, I’ll try to just with doing this walk around the streets like randomly and had an internal dialogue with yourself, you know, so then it’s eventually found the way back to to where I’m saying and then got pen and paper out and decided it’s decided to write all this stuff that was going on in me head. Probably another hour, five 30 when I went to sleep and then I was up at seven 30 for day two. The main thing I got out of that first day and that first night and those all those notes that I’ve still got,now and of them don’t make any sense, but that’s another story.

Rich Flynn: 12:56 It’s just that it just gave me the confidence to carry on like that. So he gave me the confidence to sort of say to myself, I can do this, you know? So I came back from work. Um, so I came back from there and one of the decisions are made whilst it was on that marathon walk, uh, was that I needed to move up out of my bedroom. So my, at this point, my both both my daughters have left home so we have a few spare bedrooms and I was working at, one of them was that I could sort of converted to an office, which, which is okay with me. I know that Jane, my wife had issues with it occasionally. Like why can’t that be a bedroom, again, not that everybody, whatever, sleeping it, but essentially, so one of the decisions I made was to do that. So on the end of June, so the following month I moved that in my bedroom into this office where I am now, which is something that would be for where I come at.

Rich Flynn: 13:41 This was nowhere near my sort of vision. It wasn’t on my roadmap. It wasn’t even a passing thought, you don’t have to do this. But to me from the bedroom into an office, which a new for me would be would be a good thing. You know, I needed the structure that this office environment gives me, although it at work too effectively through a points at home, those distractions and all the rest of it and the structure is something that I personally need to because I do get easily distracted. Um, you know, this is what I’m doing now and this is what we’re going to do. So,

Nathan Wrigley: 14:12 So it’s fair to say that attending a WordCamp literally changed Rich’s life.

Rich Flynn: 14:19 Definitely 100% because I got, if I hadn’t attended WordCamp on last year, I would now be frying fish and chips with my brother. That’s the fact that is a fact.

Nathan Wrigley: 14:37 So there you go. WordCamps are great. You don’t need to worry about it if you’ve never been before. The people that share the same passion as you do and those people are down to earth and approachable, all of them. You don’t have to go to all the talks and there’s plenty of time and space to do your own thing. Now you’ve just got to take the first step and buy your tickets. The PressForward with podcast is a production of WP&UP this mini series is a collaborative effort by WPMU Dev and WP&UP not Micah Dailey me. Nathan Wrigley produced this episode and Micah created the original score. A special thanks to Rich for chatting with me today and thanks to you for listening and remember that together we can PressForward.

Nathan Wrigley