Helping WordPress users at Austins Coffee

Helping Others to Help Myself

Last month I undertook an ambitious help-desk tour with the WordPress Orlando community. The goal was to meet with local WordPress users in a casual coffeehouse environment and help them with any questions that they had about their websites. Each meetup occurred over four hours at a different coffeehouse each day, with the goal of getting more businesses to each shop, as all of them are local shops with owners that are community involved.

While I didn’t keep exact count, there were about 25-30 people who came by over the course of the week, both to help and to be helped. I learned plenty of things myself, and a few things that I felt were worth sharing.

First impressions of projects or people may not always be correct.

It’s easy to get an idea of people, companies or tools stuck in your head. First impressions are huge, but can sometimes be way off the mark. I learned that people are more nuanced than I sometimes give them credit for, and that tools that I originally wrote off can serve my business and clients well. Reminding myself of how I might give off a bad first impression at times, I am trying to be more forgiving.

Empowerment is more than just handing off tools.

I love to talk about WordPress Empowerment a fair amount, since I truly believe that it’s a powerful tool to try new things and to get your idea out without a great deal of work to start. I have to remind myself that my skillset is unique, and that most of the people that I work with do not know how to use these tools as intuitively as I do.

There are countless ways to look at and solve problems.

Working with one of our attendees during one of the meetups, I tried to come up with a solution for a problem that they were having. We ended up talking it out, defining the scope of the work that she was trying to do, and applied just a bit of thinking outside the box. It turns out that a plugin that was built for an entirely different niche/industry had all of the features that she needed after stripping away the ones that she did not. Countless development hours saved by looking at the problem differently.

Sometimes you have to grin and bear it.

You’re not always going to like what you do. I love my work, but know that there are days that I don’t want to stare at a screen. When those days come, I have to remind myself of why I love what I do, and why I keep on keeping on. I agree with Steve Jobs on changing course when you wake up too many days in a row disliking what you are about to do. Redefine what it means to be in control of what you’re doing.

That’s it from me. If anyone who was there happens to read this, let me know what you learned in the comments.

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