Last month, I was lucky enough to attend and speak at the first annual WordCamp Dayton, Ohio. It was a two-day event with workshops on Friday and sessions on Saturday. Dustin Filippini of 10up joined me for the 6’ish hour drive and arrived in Dayton at about 3:00 in the morning (Ohio is on East Coast Time).
Upon our arrival at the venue, we were immediately greeted by Nathan Driver, the lead organizer and his crew. We got to know him a bit and then spent most of the day out in the registration/lobby area talking to people that we knew and meeting new folks.
As a sponsor, I was able to talk to several people and demo DesktopServer, showing them how they can save hours by using local development as a part of their workflow. Plus, I even got to show some people some tips and tricks to make their lives easier. I have to say that this is my favorite thing about showing our product, is watching their eyes light up when they realize how much easier we can make their lives.
My Saturday presentation went pretty much hitch-free, with only a slight glitch when I went into demo mode. Fortunately, my backup plan worked and the show went on. It was standing room only in my session, which was in the Developer Track, and so the organizers decided to move the track to a bigger room.
One of the many highlights for me was meeting and having some in-depth conversations with Cory Miller of iThemes. His keynote presentation was spot on and, from what I was able to gather, spoke to many others besides myself. I highly recommend that you watch it when it goes up on WordPress.tv. He takes you through his journey, both personally and professionally and what to do when you’ve reached the peak of that mountain you’ve been eyeing. My favorite quote from his presentation: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” which he attributed to an African proverb. I had never heard it before, but in that one little sentence, perfectly summed up one of my personal philosophies.
The after-party was also a lot of fun, where we all got to relax and just get to know the people we had just spent the day with a little better. The socialization aspects of WordCamps are always one of the most important parts of a WordCamp. I have recently started telling people that when they attend a WordCamp, it’s not only OK to skip a few sessions, but highly recommended. The take-aways you’ll go home with are almost always greater during the non-planned parts of the weekend.
Nathan and his team did a fantastic job of running a smooth show. You’d never know that it was their first WordCamp and I am looking forward to next year!
If you have not been to a WordCamp, you are missing out on great opportunities to become involved and integrated in one of the best communities out there! Check out http://central.wordcamp.org to find a WordCamp near you! Even if you have to travel a little bit, you’ll find it to be time well spent!