It all started with an origami crane. I meticulously assembled it while waiting in line for lunch.
This origami crane was the entry in a raffle for an iPad mini, offered by SiteGround hosting; but the prize wasn’t what I was after. I honestly didn’t even care what my crane would look like when I was finished.
Instead, I enjoyed the process of making the crane.
I’ll come back to this crane in a moment, but as WordCamp Orange County carried along, I saw one theme underlying the entire event.
It was passion.
Passion for the Community
The WordPress community is full of passion.
And it was all exemplified in this clip Steve Zehngut opened the business workshop with:
Shia LaBeouf may come across a bit crazy in this clip, but you can’t deny that he is full of passion.
An outsider may look at the WordPress community and say we are all a little like Shia LaBeouf, crazy yet full of passion.
How can we be so crazy to wake up early on a Saturday or Sunday, drive or fly to Costa Mesa, to meet with our competition, and exchange our ideas and secret sauce?
As Steve said when his “competitor” Karim Marucchi took the floor:
We aren’t competitors. We are strategic partners learning from each other. There is more than enough work to go around and we all complement each other.
Or how can someone like Mika Epstein spend her time reviewing plugins for the WordPress.org repository?
It’s because Mika, Steve, Karim, and everyone else who is a part of the WordPress community has a passion to improve the community.
Mika reviews plugins because she knows she is helping others make their plugins even better, so that all WordPress users can benefit from those plugins.
It sure seems crazy, but when passion is involved, nothing ever seems sane.
Suzette Franck asked every member of the audience, “What is your passion? What would you do if money were no object?”
I think just by showing up that every attendee of WordCamp has a drive and passion to not only improve WordPress, but help each other out. To lift each other up and bring out the best in each other.
Of course, this weekend the most passion we saw came from Dave Margowsky who organized the entire event.
But the passion this weekend didn’t stop with the community.
Passion for Your Work
Greg Douglas, in his discussion of finding a design process, said “If you have no compelling reason for doing something, why do it at all?”
When we work, we aren’t working simply to bring money in and get food on the table. It’s only a part of our drive, but there really is so much more.
Suzette included a great quote from Steve Jobs:
“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right.”
We each see the world in a unique way, and see problems and ideas and wrongs and that is the spark that drives us to do the work that we do.
Everyone I met this weekend has that same passion for their work.
That’s exactly what I saw when I attended the Plugin-a-Palooza competition. Three people (Suzette Franck, John Hawkins, and Devin Walker) each presented a plugin they created specifically for this competition.
As each person discussed what drove them to create their plugin, I began to see a theme. Suzette created WP Art Store to help artists create an online store to sell their artwork as easily as possible. John Hawkins created CC Devs to solve a problem every WordPress developer has suffered from: forgetting to remove your email address from the admin email of a WordPress site you hand over to a client. Devin Walker created WP Rollback to make the process of rolling back a plugin or theme version, which is complicated and time consuming, as easy as hitting a few buttons.
They hadn’t created these plugins in hopes of winning a prize. They created them because they saw a problem and wanted to create a solution to that problem.
I also saw passion for work when I attended Mendel Kurland’s portion of the business workshop. He told us how one of his first clients was a boutique hair salon, a business he knew absolutely nothing about. But, he decided that in order to serve this business as best as possible, he needed to learn everything about it. So he immersed himself in that business. He went from knowing absolutely nothing to understanding every facet of the business, from the products, to the business’s positioning, to their clients.
Passion for the People You Work with and Your Customers
Cory Miller of iThemes, right off the bat, was asked to answer, in thirty seconds, how he retains employees. And his answer was simple, yet profound:
“Treat them like human beings, more like friends and family. Find good people who do work they are passionate about.”
He just said that he would only bring people onto his team that he wanted to invite to his house for dinner or go out and have a beer with.
As Cory talked, you could tell this wasn’t some mission statement that he had someone print out and paste on their wall at his office. It was something that was core to his belief system. You could see it in his eyes as he talked. It was a passion for his team.
On the other side of the fence, Levan Apriashvili of SiteGround discussed what it takes to provide superior customer care (notice he used care, and not support).
Levan explained how today, advertising is becoming less and less effective, but what people say about you and your brand is what really drives sales.
There are many ways in which you can deliver superior customer care, all which Levan walked us through.
But the number one point he left us with was this:
“People forget what you said or did, but will never forget how you made them feel.”
What To Do Now?
Whenever I leave a conference or meetup, I always find myself trying to digest what I learned and leave with one action to take.
It’s hard in this instance to come up with that action without spouting the rhetoric of: “Just find what you are passionate about.” We’ve all heard that many times, and while it is great advice, it is hard to act upon.
Instead, I’m going to give the advice that someone told me while at a buddhist retreat (yes, I really did go to a buddhist retreat).
I was told by one of the monks as we were going for a walk that we shouldn’t think about where we started or where we are going. Instead, concentrate on each step you take. Enjoy each step.
I now apply that to my business. Instead of always thinking about where I’m going with my business, I find that I am more successful and happier when I take a quick moment to plan where I want to go, and then spend my time concentrating on each “step” I take in the journey of my business.
While the results are important, it’s not what drives me. It’s my passion that drives me and keeps me doing what I do.
It all goes back to that origami crane. It wasn’t about that flat piece of paper I started with, or the finished origami crane, or an iPad mini. But it was the fun I had while making the crane.
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