PressNomics: Not all rainbow hopping unicorns and why that’s a good thing

PressNomics 2013

There’s a certain energy in the air when you first walk into the room at PressNomics.

In my perspective, WordCamp’s are light and airy, like a high school reunion.

This time, we were amongst other entrepreneurs, marketers and founders of the most respected WordPress businesses. There were no hugs and rainbows, but an immediate feeling of “things” being set in motion.

Ideas, collaboration, partnerships and strategies.

Envato asked for feedback from folks like Pippin, Shane Pearlman was literally surfing from person to person sparking collaboration and Carl Hancock was, well — Carl.

PressNomics is not all hugs and rainbows, it’s an environment that can act as a catalyst to spur innovation in the WordPress world.

Competition in the air

I was going to open this up with the softer side of PressNomics and why, if you’re in the WordPress business, this is a must attend event.

Instead, I’ll give you the harder side of why you should attend.

Competition.

This was the energy I could feel resonating at the event.

I love competition, it’s what drives my team and I every day. WordPress community in general tends to shy away from the competitive factor that surrounds us. Sure we’re all working for the greater good of the platform and spreading the adoption of this software — but at the end of the day we’re competing with one another.

I don’t care if you’re GravityForms and you think there’s no competitive offering. I respect the mantra and confidence, but…

  • The British empire thought they didn’t have competition
  • Kodak was synonymous with photography
  • Microsoft was unstoppable
  • General Motors had the more cash in the bank than anyone
  • Apple, yes Apple, is feeling the squeeze

You have competition. We have competition. 

Even the Matt Report has competition and I hung out with him during my time in Phoenix. You’re damn right I’m going to get sharper and work harder to be the #1 WordPress podcast for my fans.

The difference at this event is, the competition is willing to share and start a dialogue with you.

Envato and Mojo sat side by side.

WPEngine walked the halls of a Page.ly event

Countless plugin, theme and service competitors shared ideas, pain points and aide for others.

This is the positive side of competition. 

That’s what is unique to PressNomics and the WordPress business community at large. We acknowledge that at the end of the day we need to put food on the table, but it isn’t without helping our peers that will get us there.

Some of my highlights

Derek Neighbors

Hands down worth the entire trip. What have we accomplished on top of this software/community? Sold some themes? Built some plugins?

How are we changing humanity? Do you care?

In his example of “the stack” Derek challenges us to think about this example:

Linux > Apache > PHP > WordPress > you

What are we going to create next?

This struck a chord with me and encouraged me to dig deeper into my business and this very podcast. What can I do to inspire and put a dent in humanity with my art?

Envato

It was encouraging to witness the interaction of the Envato team and some of the key WordPress developers of our community. Support and splitting the revenue still seems to be an issue for most and it appears that Envato is listening.

Wether or not they cut special deals for the big volume sellers and adjust their support structure for those securing their own brands is yet to be seen. Either way they are listening and engaging which seemingly means they’re willing to adjust.

Networking

This was probably the most important element of the event.

You would see a couple  people in the lobby chatting and showing screenshots huddled around a laptop. Around the corner it was groups of people standing in the snack room sharing their pain points and how they can help one another after the conference.

If awards could have been given out to the most conversation’s started, it would have gone to Shane of Modern Tribe. I saw him in more circles and groups peppered throughout the event.

The event sparked from hallway talks did not let me down and affirmed it was the real magic happening.

Live Graciously

WordPress business is not the only reason why you need to consider attending and supporting the event.

Sally Strebel

Sally puts the humanity in this business conference.

From the $6,000 raised for the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital all the way down to the awesome mugs we received that were hand crafted from an artist on Etsy — truly your work keeps us connected to what this all really means in the long run.

This short paragraph doesn’t do you justice to the hard work and thought you put into the experience for all of us. I’m sure I speak for everyone at PressNomics 2013 — we wish you continued success and joy in your journey to help others.

Thank you for your hard work pregnant and all.

Cory Miller

“The sexiest voice on stage” and one of the most approachable founders at the event.

We had lunch, chatted about business, and it felt like we’ve been friends for a decade.

If you watch my interview with Cory, it’s fairly obvious and in person he just swoons you. I chat with a lot of WordPress folks and have bite sized 140 character conversations with them throughout the day. Finally getting to meet someone in person and shake their hand is another reason to get out from behind the Twittersphere.

Humility

It was a humbling experience chatting with a bunch of Matt Report fans that have been tuning in week after week. The best part about the feedback is when I hear they are actually applying the lessons learned from each episode.

I truly appreciated talking with all of you at the event and hope to see you there next year.

Is this event for you?

I’ll be honest, when I first saw the announcement for 2013 I was skeptical.

Do I want to attend another reunion of sorts?

Is this going to be clicky with a side of haves and have nots?

If you’re running a WordPress business the easy answer is: yes.

Even if you’re a veteran, you’re going to discover other companies around you doing amazing things. I’ll be honest, it’s not without it’s clicky groups in the hallway, but that experience is dwarfed by the positive energy and mix of WordPress entrepreneurs willing to chat with you.

Before I forget, all of the speakers were great and I have a ton of takeaway from each topic. Josh and Sally were able to bring together a great mix of voices. I’m sure I speak for the rest, we applaud you for this event.

Humbled to be there thanks to my friend Chris Lema and already looking forward to next year.

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Matt

http://mattreport.com

I am a web professional, entrepreneur, blogger and hopeful motivator. I co-founded Slocum Design Studio and blog about my experiences on MattReport.com. Success is when just one person benefits from what I have to say.

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20 thoughts on “PressNomics: Not all rainbow hopping unicorns and why that’s a good thing
  1. Carl Hancock

    Joshua and Sally work hard to put on an amazing event. Best WordPress event i’ve been to and I won’t miss it next year.

    Do I say that I don’t view other WordPress plugins as our competition? Yes. Do I say that instead we view much bigger services such as Wufoo and FormStack as our competition? Yes. Why? Because they are bigger competitors. We aspire to compete against the big boys in our space and when it comes to online forms, much larger venture backed companies such as Wufoo and FormStack are the big boys in the form space. We aspire to build something that is bigger than a “plugin”.

    I’m surprised no mention of my interactions with Envato. Out of anyone in the community i’ve probably been the biggest critic of Envato’s ThemeForest marketplace and I routinely rail on them publicly.

    But Japh and I have a good relationship and we had a great honest and open conversation with the others on the Envato team about the issue of ThemeForest, it’s new submission guidelines and how to bring up the quality of the themes being sold on ThemeForest so that theme conflicts caused by their themes are a thing of the past.

    We put our collective heads together and came up with a plan on how to tackle the issue, at least as it pertains to Gravity Forms. But if we can resolve the issues they cause with Gravity Forms, they are issues that all plugin authors are experiencing so it’ll help well beyond the scope of just our plugin.

    Troy Dean was right there for that conversation and also gave great input. It was a conversation that I expect good things to come out of.

    There is always competition. The companies that get left behind by the competition are the companies that rest on their laurels and let their competition pass them by. If you aren’t pushing your product forward, and think once you are successful you can just sit back and let it sell itself and set things to auto-pilot than you will be screwed. You also can’t be afraid of change. If you can’t change, if you can’t evolve, you will die.

    I have a lot of confidence in Gravity Forms because I know what we’re working on now, I know what we’re working on next month, and I know what we’re working on next year, and I know what we’re working on beyond that. Knowing what I know, the competition better bring it. And if they do, then kudos to them… they deserve the success they garner. But we’ll be right there with them. We aren’t afraid of change. We aren’t afraid of evolving. And we’ll never rest on our laurels.

    That’s something companies like Kodak, Microsoft and General Motors didn’t do. Kodak invented digital photography but was so afraid it would eat into their film business they did nothing with it. Microsoft? They got fat and happy off of Office and selling to OEM’s to the point that who needs to innovate when you have those cash cow? Or so they thought. General Motors made shit cars. Although they’ve come back from the brink since then. Although they still make shit cars.

    As for Apple, they aren’t really feeling the squeeze as much as the media and the wall street analysts want you to believe. Although the iPhone 5C does look like it’s a bust, but who wanted a “low” cost iPhone? The media and the wall street analysts. Something tells me Apple has learned their lesson on that one. But Apple is still doing what they do best: making money. They aren’t about marketshare. Who cares about marketshare in the computer, mobile phone and tablet space when you can have something better? Mind share and almost all of the profit in the mobile and tablet space.

    You have to be confident in your product. If you aren’t confident in your product, how can you expect your customers to be confident in using your product? What you can’t be is out of touch with reality. Never let yourself get fat and happy on what you’ve already done. You’ve lost your hunger if you do. You always have to be hungry and instead of looking at what you’ve done in the past, look at what you plan on doing in the future and make it happen.

    Instead of looking at another plugin as your competition when building one, think bigger. If you’re building an event management plugin, don’t look at Event Espresso as your competition. Look at EventBrite as your competition. Think big and execute.

     
    Reply
    1. Matt

      Carl,

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, really appreciate it. Totally agree with confidence and big picture thinking — it’s this type of passion that drives some of the most successful entrepreneurs and you’re no exception.

      Good meeting you at the event and hope to get you on the podcast some time :)

       
      Reply
      1. Carl Hancock

        LOL I’ll be in St. Louis on Saturday, Sunday and while I don’t have tickets for it possibly Monday… my flight home is on Tuesday just in case the Cards have a chance to clinch on Monday i’d be there to find tickets for a chance to watch it. It should be a good series. I don’t expect a repeat of 2004.

        Great meeting you too. There was too little time and too many people to be able to spend as much time as i’d like with everyone. Good events like this always feel too short. Just email me and we can make something happen sometime.

         
        Reply
    2. Troy Dean

      I was honoured to be able to introduce Japh to Carl and witness two very hardworking, passionate WordPress professionals talking openly and honestly about how to best solve a very complicated problem.

      Gentlemen, it was a pleasure to witness you in action. Here’s hoping those clever Strebel kids continue to facilitate this kind of invaluable face to face interaction amongst the WordPress business community.

       
      Reply
  2. Cory Miller

    Matt, it was great meeting you as well and thanks for this review … you hit some great points all around. But I’m also embarrassed by the “sexiest voice on stage” … never in my life have I been accused of that. hahahahaha

    Honestly, I was like you … I wavered on whether I wanted to go again or not. But the connections with cool people like you and many others, doing awesome work with WordPress made it a must attend event now also for me from now on.

    It’s always and forever about people for me. I don’t have much time or room for prideful egos anymore, including my own. I also don’t subscribe to the haves and have nots. To me, I looked around and saw a room filled with incredibly talented, passionate, hungry people doing some great things with WordPress and I wanted to hear their stories. (Next year I’ll be better prepared to hear even more of them.)

    It was both inspiring and utterly humbling. Special thanks to Josh and Sally and everyone involved for making that happen again.

    Viva WordPress.

     
    Reply
  3. Blair Williams

    Brilliant post Matt … really appreciate it.

    I really did feel the competitive energy but I do love how in the WordPress community it seems like we can all share with and respect our competitors. I had the opportunity to meet a couple of my competitors for MemberPress while I was there and we had some good conversations.

    Also, Carl brings up a good point about WordPress as a platform. It’s exciting to be working in this community because it is growing every day … and many of our true competitors are outside of WordPress. Right now those folks probably have the same opinion of us as Carl has of his WordPress competitors … but I’m sure that that won’t be the case for long. WordPress is a solid Development Platform and is gaining so much ground that our “Plugins” (which should actually be called “apps” at this point) will be beating out many of these other products and services if they aren’t already.

    But anyway, it was great hanging with you with this weekend Matt … thanks for the article it was a great recap of not only what went on but the vibe there.

     
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  4. Adam W. Warner

    Great to finally meet you in person Matt, and unfortunate that the noise at the piano bar kept us from a longer conversation.

    All the points made above are 100% valid and something that all should be aware of, even if they’re not in the WP space.

     
    Reply
  5. Carl Hancock

    One thing I was going to actually ask during the Q&A after Derek Neighbors talk, but didn’t as I got pulled away by a phone call is pretty simple. Actually I took exception to a few going Derek said during his talk but I’ll touch on two of them.

    The first one is something you actually quote in the review. Although in his talk, he basically gives all the credit for WordPress to Matt. You showed the chain above:

    Linux > Apache > PHP > WordPress

    My question would have been simple:

    Would WordPress have “put a dent in the universe” if it were for the community? The themes? The plugin? The amazing thing everyone in that room has brought to WordPress? All the contributions of core contributors?

    The answer is an emphatic no.

    WordPress would not be what it is today without them. So to imply Matt did it all and “put a dent in the universe” was disengenious and completely discounts the community involvement. I got the impression he didn’t know enough about WordPress and the factors involved in making it a success to be making such statements.

    WordPress has a symbiotic relationship with both themes and plugins. Without each other, none would have been a success. Although technically Gravity Forms could have been built as a web service like Wufoo, as could other major plugins. But I digress.

    I’d also argue that he gives far too much credit to WordPress for putting a “dent in the universe”. How big of a dent is it when nobody outside of who I work with and interact with within the community even knows what it is? My parents only know it by name because of what I do. They don’t really get it and neither do my non-techie friends.

    His other example, Steve Jobs, obviously put a dent. I’d argue he went beyond dent. He put a gash in the damn thing. Everyone know who he was. My parents have iPhones and iPads. Comparing WordPress to Apple is like comparing Oranges and well… Apples.

    I also chuckled that he talked about Richard Stallman, the open source movement, open collaboration, etc. while holding up Steve Jobs and Apple at the same time. A person and company who were on the complete opposite end of the spectrum when it came to being open. They ran, and still run, one of the most closed and secretive organizations and platforms in the tech industry.

    His presentation seemed to be purposely inflammatory and he even opened it up by saying he would probably piss people off. It came across as being aggressive for the sake of being aggressive. It seemed manufactured. Right down to co-opting Steve Jobs “dent in the universe” quote as a major theme in his presentation.

    I thought his talk was overrated. I also think the notion that every person is capable of putting a dent in the universe is absurd. Just like I think the American notion that everyone must go to college after High School is absurd. But us Americans love to have engrain absurd expectations that seem to get more absurd with each generation.

    How many actually do what Steve Jobs did? How many even need to? Not everyone needs to change humanity in order to live a fulfilling and successful life. In fact the vast majority of people obviously do not.

    I’m curious though, he asked the audience what have you done? But what has he done?

     
    Reply
    1. strebel

      Carl, That is Derek’s style, and your reaction is exactly why I chose him to speak. Spend an hour or so reading over his blog at http://derekneighbors.com/, he’ll be happy to have a dialog with you and tell you about the dent he made reshaping an entire city economy around collaboration (gangplank) and leading agile teams on massive projects.

      Thank you for your contribution as well Carl. You know a few things about ruffling feathers too… ;)

       
      Reply
  6. Troy Dean

    Hey Matt, it was an absolute pleasure and honour to meet you right at the start of Pressnomics and decide to claim ours as the media table – yes Matt and I sat next to each other for the bulk of the conference, traded ideas and waxed lyrical about podcasting in general. I must admit though I don’t see you as competition. As Noah Kagan said at a recent start-up conference in Melbourne “the world is a big place and there are lots of people in it.”

    I believe the WordPress marketplace is big enough for all of us to be able to carve out our own niche. I feel the same way about Shawn at WP101 as is evidenced by the fact that I interviewed him recently for our podcast and I even shared dinner with Ben and Bart from WP University during Pressnomics.

    In fact it was Cory Miller who gave an outstanding presentation at last years Pressnomics about telling your own story and not being distracted by all the noise around you.

    I love what you do at the Matt Report. You have a unique and distinct style about you and I hope you keep ploughing on forward no matter how much you might feel like I’m nipping at your heels :)

    Keep up the great work. I look forward to seeing you again next year.

     
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