I read an interesting article today regarding a renowned New York chef who recently received a negative review that was one of the most read critiques ever on the New York Times. It wasn’t a story around the duality of the newspaper that had just given the chef high marks 4 years earlier but rather a tale on how the chef responded to such a strong critique. He apologized.

We are not content resting on what we did yesterday. We believe we can do better for ourselves, our profession and most importantly our guests. We have the opportunity, the tools, the self-motivation and the dedication to do so.

When we fall short, we work even harder. We are confident that the next time you visit Per Se or any of our other restaurants, our team will deliver a most memorable experience.

— Thomas Keller, Chef / Proprietor

Last week at work my company went through an exercise that provided some feedback into our performance and a place to discuss our professional and personal goals. Overall there was good discussion and I think these types of exercises with proper thought and preparation can be really helpful. During my session I received some feedback I didn’t quite agree with and didn’t fully understand. At first this really fired me up and made me defensive but after some reflection and reading a story like this I’m inspired.
How much could I grow as a leader if I practiced accepting feedback from a stance of first reflecting and wondering: How can this help me grow?

There is obviously a limit to this practice as I’m not planning to just accept all feedback regardless of delivery, but I think it is a practice worth considering.


So in an act of love for WordPress I signed up to be the lead organizer for WordCamp St. Louis this year. Its been a lot of work but its also really exciting to work with the local community to put on a WordCamp. This year is looking to be a really good camp as its already sold out and we have a great list of national and local speakers.

I attempted to give up my spot as a speaker so I could focus on organizing but ended up needing to cover a spot for a speaker that had to back out. I’ll be giving a chat on automating your theme development workflow with tools like YeoPress and Grunt. I’m pretty excited despite all the pressure and hope to see tons of local users benefit from the camp like I have at previous ones.


So WordCamp St. Louis in my humble first time organizer opinion was a huge success and our local community really did a fantastic job. The speakers were awesome, the sponsors were super generous with swag and support, and despite the weather closing the day down a bit early I think everyone had a pretty good time, learned a lot and enjoyed themselves.

I thought my rushed chat came out pretty well even though I rushed a bit and forgot a few things because I was nervous. This year I decided to keep the slides lighter and styled but use more interactive sections to demo the tools and I really enjoyed the flow much better than previous chats I’ve done.

Pro tip: Definitely throw in gifs and funny pictures.

So yesterday was my 32nd birthday. Woot! This morning over coffee while slowly working my way through a tech book { javascript the good parts } I started thinking about where I was five years ago as a developer.

Five years ago I was writing css from scratch in a primarily Windows environment. And doing web hosting support for Yahoo!. It was an interesting way to cut my teeth and a lot of it was mind numbingly boring but I did get to learn some of the core concepts of web development from supporting their key services. I learned how to debug front end and backend code and the basics of a LAMP environment. I learned to use tools like firebug and photoshop. I took classes at the community college and online on javascript, php, and mark up languages. To think how my own development tools and skills as well as those in the industry have changed so rapidly in this timespan is just mind boggling.

Now I haven’t used a Windows computer as my primary machine in 4 years. I finally am gaining a real understanding of the value of semantic minimal markup and working with the DOM properly. I’m writing true classes and object oriented stylesheets with sass Bourbon Bourbon Neat. I’ve grown from supporting WordPress 1.6 to building custom themes from scratch and writing plugins. I’ve taken a deep dive into javascript and am trying to master it. I’ve automated and sped up my workflow by using better tools { sublime text , iterm, node applications yeoman ,grunt, version control git, and shell customizations .

It’s a fast moving environment and new technologies are coming out daily. Sometimes I worry about the direction some of them are going and the impact it may have on society and our culture. Not that I don’t respect the innovation of these technologies, but the levels of integration seem to be moving in a directions that are a bit too far for me { glass }.

The available information through different devices and platforms at this point on the web is insane. Through the past five years I’ve spent almost obsessively countless hours at this point on online as well as studying and researching, connecting socially with friends and family, building sites professionally etc.

The worry I do have in the back of my head going forward is will we eventually be too connected? I’m not thinking of shutting down all my accounts and getting an old Nokia phone but as I’m getting older and thinking about having a family, I’m working on having hobbies that counter my digital lifestyle and are more active because I want to keep in touch with the human aspect of life as well. Its not something I really got in my mid-twenties.

Maintain a steady balance with Work and Life, master specific skills instead of being a jack of all trades, give back to the open source communities and developers building the tools that help me succeed. Thats the goal for the next five.

So this year was my second year to attend WordCamp in Portland. It’s a great time to meet other developers listen to entertaining as well as educational chats from pro’s as well as fellow enthusiasts. As I pursue more and more development in WordPress these camps are essential to my growth and inspiration as I always learn something new, or how to do something more optimally. Here is a quick re-cap and some resources from the sessions I was able to attend that I hope inspire you to find a WordCamp in your area to attend.

The first change with this years conference compared to last years was it was primarily an unconference in format. If your new to this term it is essentially participant driven so other that a few planned main speakers all of the other chats were volunteered or suggested through those attending. At first I was quite apprehensive about this format as last year was very session driven and I had a clear outline of topics I could decide on sitting in on. This new format however panned out to be great due to the fantastic community of WordPressers in the local area which for me made it just as great as last year.

The first chat I sat in on was Scott Berkun’s chat. He had some cool perspectives on what he does at WordPress.com and what things he’s learned while studying ways to make people post more frequently. It was an inspiring chat that did a great job at reminding me at how bad I suck at regularly posting but contained some cool tips on trying to do better at it { guest post anyone ? :D }

After the first main session it was time for some unconference planning and the community filled out massive post-its and the organizers laid out a schedule for smaller groups to get together and have organized talks on specific topics.

The first one was labeled MVC and WordPress but was a bit rough as the speaker asked what MVC stood for and confessed to using the term to get people to come to the chat :( Over all it worked out fine and he had some interesting tips from his experiences in moving to the platform for usability for the end users in his company as well as some pretty cool technical workarounds he came up with in his custom theme. I think this kind of chat is what makes the whole experience cool as it doesn’t have to be someone who is a lead at Automattic to chat and share something interesting, good information and tips can come from any source and that’s why I enjoy WordPress and its community.

After this I bounced around for a bit but did manage to catch a great chat by the fine gents at 9seeds.com regarding plugin development for business. Todd and John are really great to listen to and seem like they would be an awesome company to do business with. I really liked their passion for open source and how they try and release code from projects with clients into the community. I love that model and really aspire to be in that kind of company someday.

Next came some lunch with great food and tasty Full Sail beer. Always a staple at a WordCamp in Portland and very much enjoyed as we sat and chatted with new friends and old.

Right after lunch it was time for Andrew Nacin’s chat on “You don’t know query”. Deep barely describes this chat but it was incredible to see one of the brains working full time on the core in person sharing some advanced concepts for the programmers in the room. I definitely was lost at a couple of points but still found this one of the most enjoyable parts of the conference and one of the key reasons I bought a ticket. I’ll still need some time to sort it all out but thankfully the slides are posted here.

Next I sat in on John from 9seeds chat on child themes but felt I should have gone to the SEO chat instead. John is a great guy and fun to listen too but the crowd in this chat was a bit green on WordPress and I honestly was a bit past the level this presentation was designed for. After attending Aaron Jorbins chat last year and studying child themes and themeing in general over the last year this was just too basic for my needs.

After this chat I checked out the plugin Q and A session with the Alex Mills { viper007bond }. It seemed awkward at first as he didn’t have a plan or schedule for the chat but it worked out great as the crowd got into the conversation and the dialog really took off. Alex is a really smart guy which has created quite a prolific array of plugins for the platform. I really enjoyed this chat and it was nice to hear some insight from the creator of some of the plugins I already use and enjoy.

Overall another great year of WordCamp all due to a fantastic local community of developers, designers and users. I hope to go next year in St. Louis and might even try and build up some nerve to do a chat.