The Magical WordCamp Tour Continues in Orange County

Recap: WordCamp Orange County, June 9, 2018

Be Like Mike

I didn’t know that I wanted to Be Like Mike. At the Speaker’s Dinner for WordCamp Orange County (#WCOC) on Friday evening at the Rancho San Joaquin Golf Course in Irvine, I had a great conversation with Mike “Judah” Baker. Just like me, Mike did double duty at a previous WordCamp both as a Speaker AND Volunteer and predicted that “I’ll be very, very, tired afterward” in relation to presenting “90 Days to Live”

The organizing team, David Margowsky (Speech Wrangler), Priscilla Christian (Volunteer Organizer), and Steve Zehngut (Lead Organizer) welcomed volunteers and speakers with a lively, pep-rally style session that got everyone hyped for a great weekend. What I appreciated most was how early on, Dave sought me out when I arrived to personally welcome me which again is why I enjoy the WordPress Community so much!

Reminiscent of an NBA game player introduction, when your name was called you’d run a gauntlet of high fives, cheers, and hollerin’ to grab your swag bag that included your t-shirt, cap, munchies and other goodies. I’d heard previously how lively the Orange County crew was from volunteers at WordCamp Los Angeles last fall, but this get together added a layer of excitement and anticipation that would carry the weekend.

Ready, Player, WordPress!

The Camp’s theme this year was Dungeons and Dragons, the iconic fantasy tabletop role-playing game. Dave appeared, almost as if out of the mist in a wizard’s robe replete with a British accent full of thous and whilsts. In character, he energized the crowd sprinkling in-game references or similarities between D&D and the WordPress Open Source Project. 

After a monologue, he handed the microphone to Steve and just like that, WordCamp Orange County was on. It also meant that I was up next in this very room, wearing my speaker’s hat to OPEN the Beach Room line up of speakers!

#WCOC Recap of the Recap

Can’t get enough WordCamp Orange County? I joined Steve Zehngut, Thomas Levy, Priscilla Christian, David Margowsky, Cemal Tashan on the panel wrap-up show on WP Watercooler, Episode 277 WordCamp Orange County 2018 Recap 

Wearing two hats: giving it all at WordCamp Orange County

Volunteer Organizer Priscilla Christian, Dave Mosso, and Mike Judah Baker (left to right)

Day 1: Good guys wear black speaker hats

Presenting “90 Days to Live” for the second time to open WordCamp Orange County’s Beach Room but I did have nerves. After all, in Chicago two months earlier, no one knew me. Here in Southern California, a new layer of jitters was added by the new speech length (50 mins vs 25 mins in Chicago), over 500 tickets were sold for weekend, familiar faces from the office where I work in Downtown Los Angeles, fellow WordPress Community members I’d met over the past eight months at area meetups, and this was the largest room.

As the introduction was read, I took a deep breath, rose to my feet and took the handoff. Day one for me was an initial adrenaline rush followed quickly by lots of sessions to get in on, a perk of speakers and attendees alike.

Speakers at this WordCamp sported black t-shirts and mesh baseball caps (which were highly coveted by sponsors and attendees alike), volunteers purple with a red dragon rising from between the white letters spelling out the event.

Here is some of the feedback I received from my presentation via Twitter:

As Camps go, this swag was epic from a branding standpoint:

  • D&D themed badges with a spot to add a sticker stating which character you identify with (barbarian, bard, cleric, fighter, paladin, ranger, rogue, and wizard) in-game;
  • Large glasses with the WordCamp Orange County for a pint of ale; and
  • Dice with a #WCOC pouch for gameplay

Day 2: Purple speakers hat

WordCamps take an enormous amount of time and efforts by lots of talented people to make happen. I encourage you, if you haven’t volunteered, to do so as you’ll get a different level of access to the Community and a sense of satisfaction. 

The second day at #WCOC found me pounding the pavement, helping attendees find the venue, monitoring rooms, indulging in incredible food trucks like Phoking Awesome, Ninjas with Appetites, and manning the swag table till close. Many speakers, sponsors, and attendees would wander by sharing stories about their connection to WordPress.

Although it ended a little over a month ago, I’m already thinking about next year…

Setting the stage: Writing a great introduction for your (WordCamp) speech

Would you hastily leave the house in the morning without your left shoe, thinking your shiny right patent leather shoe will suffice? A well-written introduction sets the stage for your success and the hook your audience’s attention. Here are tips on writing an introduction to your speech, if you can’t access the services of the talented Bridget Willard.

Jump right in?

Any speech worth its salt has a great intro. Without it, there is no transition from your host and the start of your presentation. An introduction provides a starting pistol setting a tangible marker for all involved that something is starting.

T-minus thirty…

As the host grabs the microphone the countdown starts until you will be onstage. Keep your introduction to 4-6 sentences noting that your host has to read it aloud and expect the introduction to take between 15-30 seconds, and for longer speeches up to one minute.

Most importantly, an introduction gets you and the audience into the correct frame of mind by giving a glimpse into your topic and teases what you’ll be talking about.

Recipe for a good intro

A great introduction should position you as an expert on the WordPress topic you are presenting and the intro must include:

  • Your full name, job title, and company;
  • Speech topic and your background on the topic. For example, if you specialize in search engine optimization the intro should mention your client solutions provided with analytics, years experience, etc; and
  • Emphasize the speech title 

Sample WordCamp Speech Introduction

Five years ago while walking through the break room at WordCamp Los Angeles, Organizer Alex Vasquez handed him a microphone and asked him to talk about himself and his connection to WordPress. Afterward, Alex stated, “You should do a WordCamp speech someday.” That someday is today as Joe Simpson presents “90 Days to Live: Finding Your Place in the WordPress Community.”

Hostest with the mostest

Be sure to seek out your host that will do the introduction. Often, volunteers have multiple tasks throughout the day to find out who is working your session to personally hand them or text your introduction. For my WordCamp Orange County speech, I sent it in early — after I received notice of acceptance to present. Finally, ask your host if they have any questions to reach out before time. Unique phonetic pronunciations of names or project information can result in mistakes.

Laying down the law – WordCamp Chicago

Recap: WordCamp Chicago, April 28-29, 2018

Hosted at the Chicago-Kent College of Law, WordCamp Chicago brought together the brightest and talented members of the Chicagoland WordPress community to celebrate, network and share. Over two hundred fifty attendees, presenters, and sponsors descended on the corner of Adams and Jefferson to get the latest information on topics ranging from Accessibility, the 4th Wall and everything in-between.

My WordCamp experience was very different in Chicago. Since I was presenting, my focus Saturday was on being reading, practicing “90 Days to Live” and relaxing so I couldn’t really focus and fully absorb presentations on Saturday. During breaks, I’d walk the city, getting in my ten thousand steps and getting reacquainted with incredible public art around town. On Sunday, I could take in sessions and shared some great stories in the hallway track.

Nonetheless, here are some of the highlights from this weekend’s event:

Joe Howard

Converting new website visitors into paying customers
Saturday, 9 am, Track 2

Washington DC area’s Joe Howard gives us a peek into his process that turns potential leads into clients in the first presentation of the day. He provided a list that could help the audience with detailed examples of the key points being what his customers want or their backgrounds. Emails are his preferred method to get leads and convert via marketing.

Christina Varro

Don’t just survive, thrive as a freelancer
Saturday, 9:30 am, Track 1

If you want a glimpse into what you need to do to be a successful soloprenuer, check out Christina Varro at a future WordCamp. From Canada, she talked about her methods and best practices to be efficient with your time, billing and service contracts that allow you to maximize your time benefiting and growing your business using WordPress.

Chris Wagoner, Nick Goodrum

Falling in Love with Accessibility
Sunday, April 29th, Track 2

An interesting presentation using relationships as a comparison point with accessibility. Good examples.

Chicago 10K per day: Getting your steps in during WordCamp

Sightseeing takes on a much different perspective be it by plane, train or automobile but a world-class city like Chicago is perfect on foot. For the first time in decades, I was in town for WordCamp Chicago the weekend of April 28th, took a different approach to getting around enjoying the art, architecture during free moments.

Walking Weather

A good walk for me consists of the following elements:

  • Steppibility or Distance – the ability to clear your mind, breathe during the stroll is important with 3,000 to 7,000 steps as an end goal;
  • Shade quota – I’m not good with too much sun, so the option of dipping into shaded areas along the path is important as well; and
  • Visual interest – a change of scenery is great for walking, I seek something different from where I am. At home I drive to a local area park with lots of terrain and level changes or in this case, Chicago has incredible public art and architecture, a river winding through the loop and people rushing to and fro

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I can’t feel my face; how to deliver your first WordCamp Speech

On Saturday, April 28, I presented my first WordCamp speech about the WordPress Community in sunny yet brisk, Chicago. Walking off stage during my ‘drop the mic’ moment, I took inventory as my emotion-driven adrenaline slowly began to subside. Almost as suddenly, thoughts of how to give back something helpful to future speakers to help them get through the myriad of pitfalls that can sidetrack success.

As usual, the WordPress Community came out in full force, as welcoming and supportive as ever. But as the hour approached, I was so nervous that my fitness tracker displayed “fat burner” even though I sat still. Why would a person with over twenty presentations under his belt be nervous?

Never as good as the first time

I remember my very first time. As a newbie in my office, representing them at a “how to” seminar put on by the biggest name in software tools for the design community for a product that I wanted to level up on. Fondly, I remember the eagerness and desire to learn, balanced by what the speaker delivered was perfect. Now as a speaker, I used this feeling as motivation when preparing for my first speech at WordCamp Chicago.

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The Windy City Miracle begins my WordCamp Speaking Journey

I’ve been confirmed as a presenter at my first WordCamp. WordCamp Chicago takes place April 28-29 at Chicago-Kent College of Law, 565 W Adams Street. If you’re in the city that weekend, level up in the WordPress Open Source Project as I begin my speaking journey on Saturday, April 28 at 3pm.

Turning Tragedy into Triumph

Here’s my introduction:

Five years ago while walking through the break room at WordCamp Los Angeles, Organizer Alex Vasquez handed him a microphone and asked him to talk about himself and his connection to WordPress. Afterward, Alex stated, “You should do a WordCamp speech someday.” That someday is today as Joe Simpson presents 90 Days to Live: Finding Your Place in the WordPress Community.

After years of general fatigue and tests, I discovered two blocked arteries. During the next three months (including a leave of absence from work), I set out to restore my physical, spiritual and emotional well being. This speech details a 3-month journey of rediscovery the things that nourish and nurture each of these three areas — a thirst for learning, unearthing my dormant creativity and all things WordPress — 4 WordCamps, 20 WordPress Meetups and Events and charity. From Castaic to Palmdale to Riverside and all ports of call in-between learn what makes good clubs while finding a network of common minds and colorful characters and gain inspiration to start the WordPress Santa Clarita Valley Meetup, over 8,000 miles later.

Attenhut! WordCamp San Diego 2018

Awakening at 4 o’clock in the morning is never fun, but it felt like boot camp reveille. Saturday, April 14th began this way because I needed to arrive in “America’s Finest City”, San Diego by 7:45 am. Why so early you ask? Today is the first of the two-day WordCamp San Diego 2018 and I was taking the 3 hours plus drive down from the sleepy town of Castaic in northern Los Angeles County.

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Swim Upstream: Attending WordCamp US from Your Living Room

How to Watch WordCamp US from the Comfort of your Sofa

This would be a perfect conclusion to my 90 Days plan [link later] — I’d finish with a visit to Music City, Nashville, Tennessee for WordCamp US in December. Unfortunately, my schedule was in flux and I could not attend WordCamp US. But I did notice something different from other Wordcamps I had attended — a LIVESTREAM link in the menu. Here’s how I enjoy being there without being there…

What is Livestream and how does it work?

Duh. WordPress (WP) is offering a way for those that can’t attend an option of being involved via video stream. On the TICKETS page, you simply select the LIVESTREAM option under description provide the number of people who’ll watch (form WP tracking purposes I assume) and click REGISTER. You’ll be asked for your contact info including email, what you do with WP, if you make money doing so, company name and city where you’re located. You log in with that email and you’re in!

How to get free Livestream tickets

On the TICKETS page, you simply select the LIVESTREAM option under description provide the number of people who’ll watch and click REGISTER.

Play on, player

To access the content, select the LIVESTREAM menu item and select the room (Fiddle Track, Banjo Track, Guitar Track and State of the Word) based on the schedule of speakers. With so many great topics and groupings of subjects in each track, I’d suggest making a schedule for each hour so you won’t miss out. Don’t worry, WordPress is making the presentions available quickly through the players themselves and on

The player is accessible as well (see image) with audio captions accompanying the action so that all of our Community can listen in or watch. Along the top of the player is:

  • In the upper left, you’ll first encounter a status. LIVE appears red and shows you that preso that is currently happening in real-time. A blue DVR button shows you recorded information from Friday and presos as they finish. WordCamp has been awesome in getting things up and available!
  • The title of the presentation is next (on DVR items) and before the presentations start, along the bottom where the captions show;
  • An ABOUT information button provides data on which room the video is from/tied to; and
  • EVENT POSTS gives you the ability to view past content by clicking through on the title you’d like to watch.

As a county government agency tech worker, it is a great feeling to know WordPress is accessible forward in their approach. OPINION: So many developers, designers, and their clients don’t devote thought, time or effort to accessibility which along with responsiveness should be the first thing addressed.

Get Your Popcorn Ready

As the noted scholar, Terrell Owns, once said Get Your Popcorn Ready find a space in your home, co-working space or local coffee shop and grab your noise-deafening headphones. I was kicked out of my living room and moved into the mancave (see image) for a day two of Camping. Annually, my daughter attends Blizzcon virtually to avoid the crowds and when she arrived home from school she paused and nodded her confirmation so I guess I’m a bit cooler than this morning.

Wordcamp Livestream Watching Party

Here’s where I watched Day 2 of WordCamp US, aka, my mancave.

My set-up was for optimal productivity: in the living room I hooked into my television’s HDMI but in the mancave, I used my Wacom Cintiq to have two screens for working and viewing. This allows you to pop up tabs or multiple windows to see the schedule, stream and write, design or develop throughout your day.

Slurp it Up and Share

For my learning curve, I get the most by watching others demonstrate. Like Morten Rand-Hendriksen’s work and his awesome speech at WordCamp US on Friday, great speakers are like candy to a baby for me. Get in your zone by taking notes, screens blogging, chatting or whatever you do to absorb the wisdom. I blog as well to retain and if you’re reading this (excuse my blog, it’s a work in progress) this story is how I share with others on Twitter, Slack or wherever you see fit. As an aspiring speaker (and former Toastmaster), my blogging revolves around speaker presentations, their effectiveness and takeaways, good or not so much.

WordCamp US Livestream (Morten Rand-Hendriksen)

Great, great presentation by an awesome speaker, Morten Rand-Hendriksen.

See You, Same Time Next Year

I attended four WordCamps this year (US, Riverside, LAX and Grand Rapids) and will start a 52 Week Savings Plan to ensure that I’ll be wherever WordCamp US or another dream location (Europe, etc.) that interest so I can blog/broadcast in person. Will I see you there?

A First for WordCamp Riverside

Held November 4-5 at SolarMax Technologies, an appropriate space for an open source technology project conference, WordCamp Riverside was an awesome first for the WordPress Community.

Taking the Lead

I met Verious Smith, this WordCamp’s lead organizer in the break room at WordCamp Los Angeles. What I remember most was his friendliness, enthusiasm, and verve for the open source project. He made me want to do more with WordPress. These qualities show around the WordCamp in the location, layout and speaker line up.