WordCamp Miami 2018: The Mega-Review

Note: Yes, this recap is late. Sadly I’ve been dealing with family and health issues that have been keeping me busy. But I recently had the time to sit down and write my usual review.

WordCamp Miami 2018 was our 10th anniversary. That’s 10 CONSECUTIVE years of WordCamp Miami. We are proud to be only of a few WordCamps in this category (one or two camps exist that exceed that record).

Obviously as the lead organizer of WordCamp Miami i’m biased about the event, but it gives me a unique perspective and ability to relate some behind the scenes info. Since events like these ALWAYS have some sort of challenges and problems (in or out of your control) I’ll be including that as well. If you are an event organizer, maybe there’s something here you can benefit from.

Bridge Collapse

You can’t get too far into talking about WCMIA without bringing up the FIU bridge collapse and how that impacted the event. The tragic event happened on Thursday, a day before WordCamp Miami was supposed to begin. It would go on to impact the conference in terms of difficulty finding the right alternate entrances to get into FIU, and we did get some local people who decided to come later or only come one day because of wanting to avoid the area.

As a lead organizer, I was incredibly impressed with how the organizing team jumped into action literally immediately after the news came out. We established a command center at Jean Felisme office at FIU (he works on the campus) and within an hour we were communicating a game plan on Slack (and then on the phone with key people). Jean was receiving official updates from FIU as we were monitoring the news. Rick Tuttle, another organizer, was monitoring the general Slack and eventually helped rely revised directions for the following day workshops. Colleen Brady helped monitor and broadcast updates on social media, especially Twitter. All in all, we had revised directions and information out to the general public on our website, Slack, and social media channels within three hours (which isn’t much time considering that an event making national news happened only a few hours prior).

A big thanks to the WordPress community team for also reaching out to me and the team quickly during that Thursday as well. It’s great to have their support.

This tragic event impacted many people outside the realm of our event, and especially various people at FIU. It was a distraction on multiple levels for many people – it disturbed on various levels our volunteer team and technical support that weekend. But overall we pressed through that weekend, and the only event cancelled for WordCamp Miami 2018 was the unofficial informal “meet and greet” on Thursday event. We canceled this “just in case” and didn’t want people coming to FIU for traffic reasons primarily (the campus was not shut down, but a major street was blocked and traffic was going to be a nightmare).

We want to thank all those that provided invaluable support and help during this period, not only for WCMIA but to those effected by this tragedy. WordCamp Miami provided a moment of silence on Saturday morning, and donated food on Saturday and Sunday to the rescue workers.

Attendance

I was proud to note that WordCamp Miami 2018 was the largest it’s ever been with over 1000 attendees, including those attending the workshops on Friday and also the children from our kid’s camps. Not all of these attendees came at once, and this doesn’t include anyone watching the livestream. The count is an increase from 2017 where our official total was 850.

I was so amazed at this number i had to sit down with organizers and counted how many badges were given out. We had a higher percentage of no-shows this year (mostly due to the bridge collapse), so I can’t imagine what the numbers would have been with those additional people.

Registration

Tragically we lost our registration organizer and coordinator Efrain Rivera several months before the event. We miss him dearly, and they were shoes that nobody felt could be easily filled. Luckily Jim Wells and Steven Alig stepped up to fill the role together – and with a team of a dozen volunteers, they managed to make registration run very smoothly.

Kid’s Days + Competition

Our 2018 Kid’s Camp broke new attendance records – with over 100 kids attending. What was unique about this year is that we split the kid’s activities into two groups. The younger group was more focused on building their first blog on Saturday, with STEAM/STEM activities on Sunday.

Thanks to Sandy Edwards and Peta-Gaye Bisset, along with all the dedicated volunteers and speakers for leading those two days.

The older group (13+ years) was focused more on building their first ecommerce website THEN learning how to market it… with a competition at the conclusion with a panel determining which sites were marketed the best. Thanks to Chris Christoff and the volunteers for making this happen, and it’s something we got amazing amount of positive feedback on. Most camps have a single “track” that aims toward the younger side, and with this type of new format for WCMIA for older kids – we believe we have established something that young adults not only can enjoy at the event but learn new skills that can benefit them in high school and beyond (I would have killed to spend a weekend at no cost learning how to build and market a website back when i was in school).

Food

Our food planning is always something especially close to our hearts – every year (including this year) we get emails asking about the hydrogen frozen ice cream or the BBQ lunch before tickets go on sale. If we ever changed these particular things, we’d have a riot on our hands.

One particular area we wanted to focus on improving on providing vegan options to our menus. We reached out months before to a few of those with experience in this area (including vegans), researched surrounding restaurants, etc. WCMIA sent out it’s traditional email focused solely on food (which we have been doing for over 5+ years) to inform people ahead of time of our plans.

How did it go? It went well, but not as well as we would have hoped. We had trouble locating reliable vegan restaurants before the event, and our primary location wasn’t open on Sunday (which was learned a short time before the event) so we weren’t able to provide an option for Sunday. Costs and availability were also general issues. In addition to previous years, more vegan options were consumed at the event vs. who requested vegan during ticket registration – although this year the gap wasn’t as large as pervious. On the ground, our team did see everyone being fed so that’s good. 🙂

The greatest improvement was likely related to coffee. There was a “great coffee shortage” in 2017, but this year we provided fresh coffee each morning of the three days with additional coffee in the afternoons after lunch. There was more than enough coffee to go around, although we will have to ensure enough cups are delivered with the coffee.

Feedback on food was good overall, with Sunday vegan options being the only real improvement area.

There was more thought and attention put into reported food allergies and warning/advising people about them in the food (feeding people at large scale with the options WCMIA means that we can’t provide too many varieties for everyone’s needs). At some point i’ll be writing a post about expectations organizers can help set to attendees about food to certain groups and those with certain allegories, but there’s no way organizers can account for every allgery documented in ticket registration. The best you can do is provide enough time to people so they can plan (I personally bring food to conferences thanks to my diet, but I appreciate information in advance like most).

Speakers & Talks

WordCamp Miami had about 80 speakers (including those on panels and managing workshops), which is a new record. Thanks to hard working volunteers and organizers, there wasn’t any issue with this large number (which i believe is a record for number of speakers at a WordCamp or at least a US based one). A proud statistic was that we almost had 50/50 split of men and women speakers this year (the average WordCamp percentage for women is 30%).

Some of the highlights of the event (picking at random) included:

  • Gutenberg Workshop – Some of the best experts on Gutenberg development got together for this on the Friday of WCMIA: Zac Gordon, Josh Pollock, Grzegorz Ziółkowski, and Brian Richards. Not too many Gutenberg workshops were being done at WordCamps but March 2018 Gutenberg was at a state stable enough for WCMIA to provide a full day’s worth of training. I really want to thank the four speakers for the time and effort to coordinate. These things are not thrown together, but a good portion of time was spent on Slack coordinating.
  • Ecommerce Track – Chris Lema led a fantastic morning of showing people how to create an ecommerce site with WooCommerce. To top it all off, Liquid Web providing the “practice sites” to those who attended. The sites were already setup WordPress sites with WooCommerce and other ecommerce plugins already installed. Imagine paying $15 for a workshop that provided the site for you when you walked through the door, and getting a guided tour how to use it. There were some great talks in the afternoon about expanding your store and other plugins that can be used for ecommerce.
  • “Learn JavaScript Deeply” – This has become an annual thing for WCMIA, first started after Matt Mullenweg’s announcement at the State of the Word at the first WordCamp US in 2015. We were honored to be able to personally invite South Florid’s JavaScript meetups to the event, and got alot of positive feedback about reaching out to those outside of the WordPress “bubble” community. Attendance for this was excellent.
  • The format of our Sunday business track was changed a bit. Our feedback from previous years was that some business talks were a bit “lengthy” and some panels not offering deep enough insight (overall the track is always well attended but although these comments were in minority we took them into account when planning for 2018. Karim Marucchi reached out to us early on, and we helped form a cohesive series of talks for the morning. Rian Kinney assisted Karim with helping introduce speakers which included Pat Ramsey, Sherry Walling, Christie Chirinos, and Pagely CEO Joshua Strebel. That morning got great feedback – so lesson learned that if you put in the time and aren’t “throwing together some business talks in a track” then attendees pick up on that. Lightning talks in the afternoon helped keep the topics moving.
  • Our youngest solo speaker was 11 years old, and we had those on our kid’s panel as young as 6.
  • WCMIA had it’s first “Women in WordPress” panel, which we are proud to be among many other camps providing similar panels and discussions.

I’m once again proud of the diversity in our speaker lineup, and we will continue for this to be a focus in the years to come. WordCamp Miami doesn’t just put out a call for speakers then sits back waiting for applications… like in previous years we made an active effort to reach out to those not in the “WordPress Bubble” or have spoke before. For 2016 and 2017, we had around ten speakers each year who never spoke at a large scale conference or WordCamp before and this year that number was 6. Approximately half of our speakers were what we would consider local. We had a number of lightning talks so we could introduce more local speakers to speaking, with the hopes of encouraging them and others to apply to future WCMIAs.

Feedback wise, it’s always hardest to tell from surveys when it comes to talks. Not every talk is going to apply to you since WordCamps host a wide variety of people. And there’s always a balance to establish – the person that said last year that you should have more lightning talks is the same person this year that said you shouldn’t have lightning talks (this literally happened a few times). You have to view feedback from a certain distance, and continue to be on top of what those in the local WordPress meetups are asking for. All in all, it seems we did particularly well. Thanks to efforts from Jesse Velez (Room MC coordinator) majority of our speakers were on time which means we were on schedule outside of very few expectations.

Matt Mullenweg

We were honored to have Matt Mullenweg pay us a visit on Saturday, and he closed out the day to a packed room (so packed in fact that we had to have a second overflow room that watched on the livestream – and even that was packed too). John James Jacoby did an interview with Matt, talking about the past and future of WordPress. This was Matt’s first official spot on the WCMIA schedule even though he’s visited WordCamp Miami before.

The volunteers and organizers did a fine job with crowd control, and Matt was a blast to have. He stuck around for the gameshow (and watched my daughter mock me, but that’s another story) and after party. I know Matt’s schedule is EXTREMELY hectic so the WCMIA team wants to thank Matt personally for taking the time.

Gameshow + WPBingo

We always try to put the “fun” in WordCamps and this year was no different. We had contests (some new, some classic – like the speaker trading cards) but two that stood out in my mind:

Brian Richards prototyped WPBingo at WordCamp US 2017 and brought it fully to WordCamp Miami in 2018. People could play the bingo game online starting Saturday morning and right before we started our gameshow hour later that day, we were calling out winners. I wanted to thank Brian for adding something fun and different, and several people had big grins on their faces walking away with prizes.
– We brought back the trivia games from last year (it was a huge hit) and made a Gameshow Hour on Saturday right before the after party. We had over 200 participate while alot of people looked on. Sponsors donated some prizes and we properly thanked them all as we moved forward. There were even rounds especially for the kids. The Gameshow is now a fully established tradition for WordCamp Miami.

Technical Issues

There wasn’t much this year to report – there’s always the occasional projector (or projector screen) malfunction. Sadly we did have some recording issues with a small few of speakers. But overall things were above normal and no catastrophic issues with mentioning. No wifi issues at all. 🙂

After Party Location

This year our after party was located on the FIU campus, within walking distance from where WordCamp was happening. In fact, from a logistical standpoint, it was great. Matt Mullenweg closed Saturday, we do the Gameshow Hour, and everyone who wanted to attend simply did a 5 minute walk over. The after party venue was a Chili’s restaurant and since it was spring break at FIU, it was completely ours. We estimated between 200-300 attended the after party at some point in the evening, including organizers and volunteers.

The venue, according to local law, had it’s own security… plus we had volunteers making themselves available if anyone had an issue or question. Even though the venue had a bar, we kept it family friendly. Limited drinks were available and the bar was away from the “game room”, where the pool tables and games were. WCMIA had it’s first karaoke night, and it was a blast based on the photos taken.

The restaurant was noisy but not REALLY noisy, and there were plenty of locations for “quiet areas”. In the last few years, we have made it a point to offer two expereience for after parties: (1) active areas where there are crowds, photo booth, pool tables, games, karaoke, etc. and (2) places where it’s away from the action, more quiet, and you can have a private conversation or just separate yourself socially for a bit.

Special props goes out to WCMIA organizer Patrick Alexander for locating and securing the venue, and leading the team to make sure the venue was secure and running smoothly.

Photography And Video

This being our 10th anniversary, we were especially focused on preserving memories. So we want to give special thanks to Erica Price for being the official organizer of photography. We had many photos added to Twitter and Facebook, and we also have alot of photos on our official WordCamp Miami 2018 Flickr account.

We also had two professional 2 minute videos produced – one focused on the event in general, and one focused on the kid’s group. We’ll post links to those shortly.

Organizers And Volunteers

If you have been reading so far, you’ll notice the mention of a number of organizers that helped step up. A list of organizers is up on the website, although many volunteers also helped. We had volunteer badges (for floating volunteers) and shirts (for organizers and full time volunteers). Volunteers were monitoring social media 24/7, and the public Slack channel was monitored as well.

Sponsors

Happy to say that the 10th WordCamp Miami brought more sponsors physically at the event then any year past. Giving proper thanks to sponsors and not forgetting anyone that should have been mentioned at the opening or closing remarks was a priority… and it’s a challenge. I’ve been to a number of WordCamps where either they forget to thank the sponsors (it’s usually the opening remarks) or they simply list through them really quickly. Personally, listing quickly i think is underserving the sponsors, especially the big ones. But when you have as many sponsors as WordCamp Miami has, it would take almost 15 minutes to thank everyone completely.

To that end, we included certain sponsors in the Saturday gameshow. These sponsors bought a certain tier with a very limited amount of spots. It went well, with two sponsors battling it out in front of a packed room. This is just one way WCMIA likes to give exposure to sponsors.

A number of WordCamp organizers picked up on the things we were doing at the conference (primarily i know because they brought it up in conversation), so it should be interesting to see if we see some of this happening at other events.

Update (7-10-2018): Here’s the list of all our Gold and Silver sponsors, and a full list of our sponsors is here. All sponsors large and small again deserve our thanks.

Hover
GiveWP
Avalara
FlyWheel
ilkli
Qualpay
DreamHost
Pantheon
SiteGround
WPBeginner
Jilt
Pressable
Bluehost
GoDaddy
BoldGrid
WooCommerce
Jetpack
SiteLock
Plesk
Miami Dade College
4GeeksAcademy

Gutenberg Table & Video

I do want to give a special shout out to Matt Cromwell from GiveWP who worked with WordCamp Miami exclusively to provide a custom video educating people on Gutenberg, which was shown at our Gutenberg table in the sponsor area (this was different than the WordCamp US “user testing” Gutenberg booth – this was just educating people on Gutenberg, which at the time of us planning it was the first attempt at a regional WordCamp).

Signs

Special effort this year was put into signs, and Wendy Pierre was the organizer in charge of this. He really went above and beyond, especially since signage was important to direct people to the right area of campus after the bridge collapse brought some confusion the first day.

Overall less people asked this year where things were, although as an organizer i can tell you that you could literally put signs every 20 feet and you’ll still have people asking where things are.

Misc Items

– 2018 was the first year we dedicated a private room just for nursing women, although it’s not believed this was used. All the same, offering this adds to our goal of more diversity and we plan on having it back this year.
– Some rooms were too hot or cold first thing in the morning, but the AC was out of our direct control. Luckily FIU’s people responded in what we thought was adequate time.
– This year we had for the first time (I think anywhere) Wapuu socks! Kids loved them!
– Added ‘# of years at WordCamp Miami’ to the conference badges. Believe it or not, we had a few “10 years at WordCamp Miami” folks that weren’t organizers like me!
– Thanks to Rick Tuttle for once again providing the Wapuu bot on Slack!
– Thanks to Valerie Pierce for providing hotel information and having my back at the prize giveaway and contests!
– Thanks to Roberto Remedios and Jim Wells for helping pack the WCMIA van!

Slack

This year we broke a record with the number of people joining the WCMIA Slack channel, with almost 600 in total. We didn’t really do anything different with Slack this year – we made our usual morning and evening announcements so people in the Slack channel would be reminded of the road/entrance changes, schedule, lunches, party info, etc. in theory before they left their houses or hotels to come to the event.

WordCamp Miami 10th Anniversary Stats

The last ten years (shared during closing remarks on Sunday):

– 324 Unique Speakers
– 160 Speakers Have Spoken At WordCamp Miami More Than Once
– 484 Speaker Slots (although if you include some unofficial speaking, opening/closing remarks, this is over 500)
– 1000 Attendees For 2018 (Up from 850 in 2017)
– First Kid’s Camp: May 11, 2014

2019

Future dates for WordCamp Miami 2019 have been set for March 15-17, 2019.

Conclusion

Ten years is a long time for being involved in organizing anything, especially a WordCamp that has gone from 200 people to over 1000. We have mentioned on podcasts. We have even been mentioned in Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word. But with everything that we have accomplished, it all boils down to helping the community… not just the local, but the WordPress community in general. Sometimes this involves WordPress directly, other times it could be helping kid’s learn coding in general or helping that freelancer find connections and get that job they wanted (which has happened a few times over the years).

I hope WordCamp Miami continues to help, educate, and be a fun event for another 10 years. 🙂

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WordCamp Miami Speaker Data (2009-2018)

We announced some interesting data at the last WordCamp Miami for our 10th anniversary. One of which was the speaker data. I’m listing all the “official” speakers here (official as in there might have been some last minute replacements or cancels, but these are all the names reflected on the official sites).

Highlights:
324 Unique Speakers
160 Speakers Have Spoken At WordCamp Miami More Than Once
484 Speaker Slots (although if you include some unofficial speaking, opening/closing remarks, this is over 500)

2009

James Carcutt
David Bisset
Mark Jaquith
Ptah Dunbar

2010

Jake Goldman
Jane Wells
Tammy Hart
Syed Balkhi
Mark Jaquith
Scott Kingsley Clark
Jim Turner
John James Jacoby
Rick Tuttle
Michael Froomkin
Aaron Brazell
Roger Theriault
Brian Breslin
John Carcutt
Stephanie Rosenblatt
Shayne Sanderson
Pete Bernardo
Angie Moncada
Jim Gilbert

2011

Jeremy Harrington
John Carcutt
Matt Martz
Michael Chacon
Dezmon Landers
Kevin Zurawel
Brendan Sera-Shriar
Steven Mautone
Austin Passy
Jonathan Davis
Mark Jaquith
Andrew Nacin
Ptah Dunbar
Tammy Hart
Jhonatan Castaneda
Toni Gemayel
David Carr
Syed Balkhi
Adam W. Warner
Maria de los Angeles
Rey Bango
Josh Guffey
Stephen Gilboy
David Gewirtz

2012

Adrian Esquivel
Alex Gutierrez
Andrea Graham
Andy Stratton
Aubrey Sears
Ben Metcalfe
Blanca Stella Mejia
Brian Breslin
Chris Lauzon
David Tufts
Denise Jacobs
Erick Hitter
Gary Bacon
Jake Goldman
Jane Wells
Jess Jurick
John Sexton
Kevin Zurawel
Lisa Sparks
Maria De Los Angeles
Mason James
Melissa Venable
Myke Bates
Pamela Wynn
Ptah Dunbar
Rick Tuttle
Sam Grant
Stephen Gilboy
Steven Mautone
Syed Balkhi
Taryn Pisaneschi
Vicent Llopis

2013

Boone B Gorges
Tammie Lister
Paul Gibbs
Diana Espino
Syed Balkhi
Michael Chacon
Michael Alcantara
David Parsons
Brian Breslin
John James Jacoby
Bowe Frankema
Emilio Cueto
Federico Sandoval
Asa Shatkin
Erick Hitter
Mark Jaquith
Siobhan McKeown
Andy Vitale
Ernie Hsiung
Mason James
Mauricia Ragland
Nick Gernert
David Laietta
Jacqueline Jimenez
Myke Bates
Blanca Stella Mejia
Alex de Car­valho
Joshua Hansen
Cody Landefeld
Steve Zehngut
Ken Granger
Joe Boydston
Jayvie Canono
Suzette Franck
Zac Gordon
Andi Graham
Randy Hoyt
Denise Jacobs
Taylor Jasko
Grant Landram
Chris Lema
Brian Messenlehner
Michael Montgomery
Andrew Norcross
Shane Perlman
Tony Perez
Justin Sainton
Cliff Seal
Lisa Sabin-Wilson
Brad Williams
Pippin Williamson

2014

Aaron Jorbin
Adrian Cardenas
Alison Foxall
Amanda Blum
Anna Tuttle
Blanca Stella Mejia
Brad Touesnard
Brad Williams
Brian Messenlehner
Brian Richards
Carl Hancock
Chris Lema
Chris Wiegman
Cody Landefeld
Cory Miller
David Laietta
David Parsons
Diane Kinney
Dre Armeda
Gabriela Levit
Hector Torres
Hristo Pandjarov
Jackie Jimenez
Jared Atchison
Jared Easley
Jeff Chandler
John Carcutt
John James Jacoby
Jonathan Brinley
Josh Eaton
Karim Marucchi
Karla Campos
Kathryn Presner
Mark Jaquith
Mason James
Matt Medeiros
Michael Eisenwasser
Michelle Schulp
Mika Epstein
Nathan Hangen
Noel Tock
Pascal Depuhl
Pippin Williamson
Rebecca Gill
Rebekah Monson
Rick Tuttle
Rosie Taylor
Sarah Gooding
Steven Alig
Suzette Franck
Syed Balkhi
Sze Liu
Tammie Lister
Tomas Puig
Tracy Rotton
Trisha Salas
Zac Gordon

2015

Aaron Campbell
Adam Culp
Adam Soucie
Andrea Rennick
Becky Davis
Ben Newton
Bill Erickson
Brian Messenlehner
Chase Livingston
Chris Christoff
Chris Lema
Chris Wiegman
Chrissie Scelsi
Cory Miller
Dan Beil
Darcy Sullivan
David Bisset
David Hayes
Devin Vinson
Doug Stewart
Enrique Canals
Hristo Pandjarov
Ibis Arrastia
James Tryon
Jared Atchison
Jason Coleman
Jason Nickerson
Jeremy Pound
Jesse Petersen
John James Jacoby
Jonathan Brinley
Joseph Van
Josh Pollock
Justin Sainton
Karim Marucchi
Lisa Melegari
Marc Benzakein
Mark Jaquith
Mason James
Matt Cromwell
Michele Butcher
Michelle Schulp
Morten Rand-Hendriksen
Nakeesha Charles
Nancy Richmond
Nikhil Vimal
Pascal Depuhl
Rami Abraham
Roy Sivan
Ryan Fugate
Sarrah Vesselov
Shanta Nathwani
Shawn Hooper
Stephanie Brinley
Steve Burge
Syed Balkhi
Sze Liu
Taylor Lovett
Tim Sisson
Topher DeRosia

2016

Rachel Carden
Jim Gilbert
Adrian Cardenas
Jose L Pimienta
Bruno Cunha
Binod Purushothaman
Logan Kipp
Cliff Seal
Ptah Dunbar
Adam Culp
Karla Campos
Christina Siegler
Rocío Valdivia
Mark Jaquith
Dr. Nancy Richmond
Zac Gordon
Nizar Khalife Iglesias
Alex Oliveira
Shayla Price
Frank Corso
Bill Gadless
Chris Christoff
Andrew Norcross
Kimberly Lipari
Karim Marucchi
Michele Butcher
Jean Felisme
Patrick Alexander
Nicole Perpillant
Fridelande Rosas
Michelle Marin
Steven Alig
Ibis Arrastia
Carl Alexander
Dr. Anthony Miyazaki
John James Jacoby
David Bisset
Konstantin Obenland
Michael Cain
Josh Pollock
Ben Stoffel-Rosales
Kevin Stover
Camden Segal
David Yarde
Patrick Rauland
Marc Gratch
Marc Benzakein
Mike Hansen
Georgina Lewis
Ernie Hsiung
Pascal Depuhl
Matt Medeiros
Louise Treadwell
Adam Lamagna
Nile Flores
Dustin Meza
Devin Walker
Syed Balkhi
Stephanie Brinley
Catalina Valenzuela
Michelle Schulp
John Bloch
Adam Soucie
Steve Zehngut
David Laietta
Karen Dimmick
Victor Santoyo
Shawn Hooper
Sarah Pressler
Irina Blumenfeld
Chris Lema
Mindy Postoff
Scott Mann
Cal Evans
Sandy Edwards
Elayna Fernandez
Elyssa Fernandez
Elisha Fernandez
James Laws
Chris Wiegman

2017

Jon Brown
Kyle Putnam
Liam Dempsey
Bradley Cummins
Miles Lifton
Andrew Wikel
Sherry Walling
Karim Marucchi
Mason James
Jodie Riccelli
Diane Kinney
Mark Jaquith
Victor Santoyo
Andrew Norcross
Peter Carabeo
Michael Dyer
Brian Rotsztein
Jonathan Brinley
Hristo Pandjarov
Pascal Depuhl
Allie Nimmons
Chris Coyier
Krystal Galewski
Leah Halbina
Meagan Hanes
Melanie G Adcock
Mike Herchel
Naomi C. Bush
Paul Gilzow
Pete Nelson
Rachel S Lucas
Rebecca Gill
Shayla Price
Shelly Peacock
Shilpa Shah
Tanner Moushey
Tara Claeys
Tracy Apps
Troy Dean
Jayvie Canono
Jason Mazier
Eduardo Carreiro
Diana Espino
David Johnson
Christie Chirinos
Carrie Dils
Brian Messenlehner
Auston Bunsen
Andrew Taylor
Amanda Giles
Aleksander Kuczek
Carl Alexander
Pirate Dunbar
Karla Campos
Dr. Nancy Richmond
Zac Gordon
Nizar Khalife Iglesias
Alex Oliveira
Chris Christoff
Kimberly Lipari
Steven Alig
Anthony Miyazaki
John James Jacoby
Josh Pollock
Patrick Rauland
Louise Treadwell
Syed Balkhi
Michelle Schulp
Adam Soucie
David Laietta
Shawn Hooper
Scott Mann
Cal Evans
Sandy Edwards
Chris Wiegman

2018

William Jackson
Carole Olinger
Miriam Goldman
Naomi C. Bush
Matt Cromwell
Rodrigo Donini
Josh Pollock
Bobby Bryant
Jesse Velez
Jean Regisser
John Blackbourn
John Maeda
Tara Claeys
Lenora Porter
Francesca Marano
Matt Mullenweg
Aidan Lacayo
Pascal Depuhl
Keri Engel
Scott Mann
Rick Tuttle
Roxana Colorado
Christie Chirinos
Adam Warner
Patrick Alexander
Alejandro Sanchez
Andrew Taylor
John James Jacoby
Joshua Strebel
Dr. Nancy Richmond
Zac Gordon
Bradley Cummins
Kevin Langley Jr.
Sherry Walling
Mary Baum
Mark Ratcliff
Sandy Edwards
Melanie Adcock
Nakeesha Charles
Windy Pierre
Chris Flannagan
Jayda Washington-Boothe
Carlos Vazquez
Irina Blumenfeld
Cody Landefeld
Karim Marucchi
Syed Balkhi
Rian Kinney
Mauricio Dinarte
Chris Lema
Grzegorz Ziółkowski
Andrew Norcross
Andreas Lopez
Jean Felisme
Zach Stepek
Dwayne McDaniel
Karla Campos
Raquel Landefeld
Birgit Pauli-Haack
Natalia Real
Pat Ramsey
Michelle Schulp
Tessa Kriesel
Beka Rice
Anthony Miyazaki
Aleyna Harris
Victoria Dameus
Lindsay Halsey
Brian Richards
Marc Benzakein
Sze Liu
Georgina Lewis
Alyssa Harris
Victor Santoyo
Annejeanette Washington
Pam Aungst
Miles Lifton
Nicole Paschen Caylor
Louise Treadwell
Sebastian Rusk
Edward Pratt

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Efrain Rivera

It is with a sad heart that I am reporting that Efrain Rivera, a friend and volunteer to the local (and not so local) WordPress community passed on January 28th, 2018. He was 47.

Efrain was one of the longest standing organizers of WordCamp Miami (he is still listed – and will remain listed – on the WordCamp Miami organizer’s page). What Efrain brought to the table was an amazing organization of our Registration system – thanks to him we were able to process hundreds of attendees Saturday morning in the short span of 30 minutes. Not only did he fill that vital volunteer role – he did it with a smile on his face. I never saw him without that smile, even under the most stressing circumstances. Whenever me or another organizer was getting stressed – perhaps with a sudden issue we had to deal with – Efrain was a source of calm.

Efrain wasn’t just a fellow organizer, but also a supporter of the local WordPress meetups. There was no ulterior motive in anything that he did. Never once did he ask for anything – he was just happy to be there and help out. He was 100% about giving back to the WordPress community, but even if the community didn’t exist he would find a way to help out folks.

Efrain wasn’t just a supporter and volunteer. He was a good friend to have – someone you could speak to frankly to.

I am personally still dealing with the news. I am glad that the WordPress community found out before I had a chance to spread the word, and that many people have already given their thoughts and condolences. Although i’m not surprised – if you were ever at a WordCamp in Florida… you would remember Efrain. Always helping. Always dedicated. Always with a smile on his face.

And I believe that’s how i’ll choose to remember him.

For those interested in memorial services, his wife Crystal has asked me to pass this along: https://memorials.serenitymemorialchapels.com/efrain-rivera/3417849/obituary.php

Efrain Rivera and his wife Crystal
Efrain Rivera and his wife Crystal

 

Snapshot of the registration volunteers, all lead by Efrain, during WordCamp Miami.
Snapshot of the registration volunteers, all lead by Efrain, during WordCamp Miami.

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Tips On Talking With People Whose Names You Can’t Remember

In a few days, i’ll be traveling to WordCamp US before that I would like to share a secret.

I’m horrible with names. And slightly less horrible with faces. I have a “face blindness”. And “name blindness”. And “Twitter avatar blindness”. And “I’ve talked with this person 20 times in the past year via email but still can’t remember this person” blindness. So conference times are hard for me.

Turns out it’s hard for others as well – I’ve had a few admit that to me. But for natural reasons few want to admit that in public or social media. Allow me to be your sacrificial lamb and offer some tips.

Scenario: You are side-swiped as this person approaches. You need a name.

Tip 1: Obvious first move is to look at the name badge. Although the universe is against you and the name badge is covered by a jacket or reversed (this is why as a WordCamp organizer i recommend when doing conference badges to make front match the back for this reason). If by some reason the conference badges print Twitter handles, it gives you an excuse to look and ask “Has That Always Been Your Twitter Handle?”.

Tip 2: Introductions. If you have someone with you that hasn’t met the person (at least that you are reasonably sure hasn’t) allow them both to introduce yourselfs. You’ll get the name that way.

Tip 3: Get into the conversation and make up a reason to ask for their email address or Twitter handle. Odds are good you’ll get something useful from that.

Tip 4: Some conferences have “unique” info on their badges and you can ask to see their badge to see what theirs looks like.

Tip 5: Ask for their business card.

Scenario: You are the one approaching, but you forgot the name (slightly better scenario because you have time to prepare).

Tip 1: It’s harder to get line sight of the name badge from a distance, but sometimes the odds can be in your favor.

Tip 2: Approach said person, excuse yourself for the interruption, and ask them for their Twitter because you want to follow them (or Twitter accidentally dropped some followers – it happens). Walk away knowing you’ll be prepared for your next encounter.

Tip 3: Never hurts to ask someone else. Believe me, everyone has crappy memories. Or mostly everyone.

Tip 4: Ask for their business card.

Wait – Why Don’t You Just Ask?

This blog post is a bit of a parody, because you shouldn’t be afraid to ask someone’s name. All of us endeavour to remember people, but stress and time put a strain on our brains. Especially if we are at conferences outside of our local area. Outside of those with total recall, this effects ALL OF US at some point or another.

If you are talking to someone, be understanding if they can’t recall your name at the moment.

Especially if that person is me.

See you in a few days, WordCamp US.

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