One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to spend 30 seconds after every encounter to find that one takeaway. You could be meeting someone new, attending a lecture, or organizing a conference. It isn’t about taking notes it’s about reflecting. By spending time reflecting you force yourself to prioritize information which is something we’re usually too lazy to do. And that’s what I’m doing here.
Last week we had our inaugural WooConf and since this was such a big undertaking it’s important to look back on what we accomplished so that we can make it even better next year. I’ve spent a lot of time mulling this over and came up with three important takeaways. All three are important but by far the number one reason is more important than all of the other takeaways combined.
3. The Speakers
Conference shouldn’t be measured by the number of speakers or the number of tracks. They should be measured by what you can take back home with you. And that’s why we stuck with a one track conference where we picked the very best talks.
We had one scaling talk, an A/B testing talk, a newsletter marketing talk, etc. And people loved it.
— Scott Salisbury (@iScottJS) November 4, 2014
2. Meeting Partners
As a developer myself I wish that writing software could solve all of the problems in the world. Unfortunately that just isn’t the case. If you really want to succeed (at anything) you need to work with people. To steal a quote from Cory Miller:
"Go Far Together" isn't a warm fuzzy slogan @ithemes – it's the way we do life together – so proud of my team
— Cory Miller (@corymiller303) September 25, 2014
And that’s why is was so great to meet our partners in person. By forming these relationships we can work towards common goals which helps our customers. I love that sort of collaboration.
1. Meeting Customers
My number one takeaway was how incredible it was to meet our customers. I ran into people that I’d seen in the support, people I’d seen on Twitter, people I’d seen at conferences, and a ton of people that I hadn’t seen anywhere and this was their first impression of our community. When you’re stuck behind a computer screen all day it’s so wonderful to be able to shake someone’s hand and help them with a problem. I love giving people suggestions on plugins, themes, settings, etc to get what they want done. Even when someone comes at me with a problem that I don’t know how to solve it’s good to hear because I want to fix that problem and I can add it to the roadmap.
One attendee in particular that I really enjoyed meeting was Bradley. I originally met him at WordCamp San Francisco a week earlier and we talked about his store. He literally loves making jam from home in his big copper pan and he can sell that jam using WooCommerce. How cool is that?
All of us here at WooThemes love that we can empower people to live the lives they want. Building the platform to do so is just a means to an end.
— WooThemes (@WooThemes) November 3, 2014
It isn’t just me. Tons of people on the team have told me that their favorite part of the whole conference was meeting people. Since that’s the best part we want to double down on that. We’re exploring the idea of doing two conferences next year. One in the US (not San Francisco) and one in Europe. We also are thinking about changing up the format so that we have a full two day conference where the first day is an optional hands on workshop day. Day two would be speakers.
It’s still too early for me to promise any of these things but I did want to let you know that we’re taking what we’ve learned and refining it for next year. I hope to meet you there. 🙂
Photo credit: Jeremy Waldorph Photography.