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December 2020

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E125 – Finding Success at the Intersection of Design and Development (David Yarde, Sevenality)

In today’s episode, Joe talks with David Yarde, Creative Director and Partner at Sevenality. David’s expertise and experience is at the intersection of visual communications and software engineering with a focus in brand development, communications design, user experience problem solving.

Joe and David discuss the importance of knowing your customers and prospects, how to overcome stage fright when speaking in public, maximizing referrals to grow customers, and the interesting journey of being both a developer and a designer. 

Tune in to learn more about designing, developing, and business growth!

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 01:31 Welcome to the pod, David Yarde!
  • 03:15 How did you find yourself at the intersection of a designer and developer?
  • 08:35 Having a connection and passion for the industry
  • 13:13 Starting up Sevenality
  • 18:42 What introverts can do when talking in front of an audience?
  • 25:59 What’s it like to not have a lead acquisition channel?
  • 31:20 How to make referrals a little easier?
  • 37:08 Coming up with the referral discount program
  • 41:36 The Loveable Brands program

Episode Resources

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: [00:00:00] Hey folks, Joe Howard here this week, I got to chat with David Yarde. David was a really refreshing person to talk to this week as folks who’ve listened to podcast in the past Christie and I, you know, sometimes we say things that are a little off the cuff. Sometimes we make things up as we’re going along, you know, we kinda chit and chat and that’s just kind of the style of the podcast.

David man, he’s so thoughtful. In his, in his word selections. And just how he, I could tell while talking to him how focused he was really wanting to translate exactly what he was thinking and to something you wanted to say, super, super eloquent, and really was a joy to talk to him. One really actionable part of the podcast today was David talked about how he grows his agency through referrals.

And we had a really, really actionable conversation about exactly how he optimizes referrals and exactly how he does referrals to make it so that every. One person that finds his business, you know, two or three more being referred by that person. And so listen towards the end of today’s episode, because that, I think that was a really a magical spot and something I’ll be taking away a lot from and talking with my team about, Hey, maybe how could we implement something similar to that, to that.

So, yeah, that’s all for the intro. Enjoy today’s David. Welcome to the podcast. Tell folks a little bit about what you do with WordPress and in general.

David Yarde: [00:01:39] I’m David Yarde. One of those people does five of these in their names. I’m a designer in this whole development space of WordPress, but I’m also a developer that helps translate design as well. I run a brand development and, uh, Strategy firms with a partner of mine and we do some pretty amazing things. We, uh, help people figure out how to connect their ideas to the tech space and how to grow them, how to leverage WordPress, but more importantly, how to be lovable at their core. So, uh, yeah, it’s been a pretty fun run over the past 17 plus years. Time is flying. I can’t believe it. So yeah.

Joe Howard: [00:02:18] Wow. Yeah, it’s a long time to have been in the game. So I’m lucky to get to talk to you today. I get to talk to someone who has more experience than I do in a lot of this stuff. And I, I know that your brand stands for a lot of love because I was checking out the website and it evokes that for me. And I scroll to the bottom and in the footer, it has that made with the heart emoji.

So I always like that when people have that in their footer. So I know you’re, I know you care deeply about it. At the intersection of design and development too, which is when I was reading, just reviewing quickly, the notes for recorded here, I was like, Oh, that’s such an interesting thing to talk about because I feel like most people in the WordPress space and probably most people in tech space they’d either consider themselves a designer or a developer.

And to have those skill sets, crossover is I think. Pretty rare. I think most people would consider their strengths to be in one or the other, but you kind of live there in the middle. I’d love to hear like, kind of, did you start on design and move more to development or the other way around? How did you find yourself at the intersection of those two?

David Yarde: [00:03:18] I would say my space is probably like the smorgasbord for this, because it’s like, Oh, I can design a cute little cool layout or whatever, and then I can, you know, make it interactive. And so that’s kind of where I guess the interest in being able to do this professionally started, but before then, I would definitely say surprisingly enough, it just started with the writing.

I used to write a lot of poetry when I was younger. I used to write a lot about. Just different things I wanted to see happen. And after a while it became a thing where, you know, writing became sketching and then sketching became kind of like, Oh, maybe this could be a fun game or like a story or whatever.

And then I learned that, you know, what I was doing was very close to wire framing. And so it was kind of like, Oh, This is just basically storytelling in a different medium. And so yeah, that writing background just kind of fueled a lot of it. You know, you’re writing interactions for a website you’re writing transitions, you’re writing all different sorts of things.

And so, yeah, it became a lot more fun. Um, after that MySpace experienced. And then from there, I pretty much focused heavily on design. You’re a few years. I want to say four or five years where that’s all I did. Didn’t really care for development. They was cool. I liked what I could do with it, but at the time I felt like in order for me to understand that I really had to understand design a lot better.

I had to understand what it was that I was going to be building versus just hopping in and building it. And then things happened by the time I graduated, I want to say high school. I ended up in this odd position where it was like, Oh, look, there’s a recession. What are you going to do? You’re going into the job for right.

You trying to get into college, trying to do all these things, but college wasn’t an option for me. And I decided that if I’m going to survive, I’m going to have to have, you know, some serious skills. People are like, Hey, you know, you design, you should do this. You know, trying to find a job as a designer, good luck.

There are a lot harder than development jobs. And so I realized that maybe I should lean a lot more into the development side of things. And so that’s what I did. I ended up getting a job at an advertising agency, worked for like a insurance marketing startup. I just threw myself into those areas where I had no choice, but to learn how to.

As a developer and it paid off because I ended up becoming like a front end developer, full stack developer, you know, quote unquote, that and designer, which is basically just user experience person on steroids. And I got to work on cool projects. Right. I got to literally build the online dictionary for Merriam Webster and I’m like, wow, who would have thought?

Right. Because it’s a humble beginning. You don’t realize like these things could happen on that journey. And so like now legit, I am super thankful. Like we were talking earlier about how the WordPress community is still like a loving and like pulling together. But I got to say there are there just some outstanding of people in this community that like the days where I literally felt like giving up.

I got a call from them or they told me to, you know, come over, let’s have a chat, let’s take a walk with, do something. Yeah, let me stop because I usually don’t cry, but this is probably one of those times I actually will. It’s been great to be a part of this community is what I’m just going to end that little part with.

Joe Howard: [00:06:42] Yeah. I love that. Feel about the community, man. I feel like I remember finding the community for the first time too. Like I was, you know, doing agency work and some, some marketing and like SEO stuff. And I used WordPress for sites. I was building an, and I remember the day that I realized there’s like a community around it.

Like, it’s not just like this piece of software. Like there are people that like are WordPress people and like, Oh, I can go to this word camp. I’m going to my first like WordCamp, Lancaster. And it’s been like, wow, this is like, I th I’ve legit agree with you. I think you’d agree. I would say it like it did change my life.

The train changed the trajectory of what I wanted to do, because instead of just maybe using WordPress for some of the project I was doing, I was like, I want to like be a part of this group. I want to be a WordPress community member. I want to be part of this, something bigger than myself, but that also, man, it like makes me so happy.

Because everyone’s so positive and energizing and everyone wants to help each other, like really as an open source like that, that open source feeling like really, uh, supported by the community. So I’m totally with you, man. I try not to make you cry on the podcast, but I can’t promise anything because you know, in the WordPress community is super awesome.

So the design work, it sounds like the design stuff, some of the projects you worked on. You really just kind of like dive into these new projects, just kind of took opportunities as they were given to you. Um, I just had Joe Simpson on the podcast yesterday and we talked a lot about taking opportunities as learning experiences.

And I think this would reflect that a little bit. Like, I guess my question would be kind of, did you have. Like intense passions behind the actual like industry is those things we’re in like the insurance stuff. Like when people hear that they’re like, that doesn’t sound like the sexiest kind of project to work on, but it’s clearly a learning opportunity.

And clearly you can still do, you know, some storytelling and some user experience and, and good design work. Even if it’s not in quote unquote, the sexy industry. I just wanted to know if you had a connection with those industries before, whether you were really seeing it as like, I want the opportunity and I know I can. Do something regardless of this, I love this area.

David Yarde: [00:08:45] I like that question in the beginning. I don’t think I really had a passion for a lot of the stuff that I worked on outside of the fact that it got me to work on either design or code. I was very ethical because I didn’t really have the whole thing.

Like, I didn’t really care for alcohol brands. Didn’t really care for like tobacco brands. Yeah. Insurance. Isn’t like the. Oh, fun or attractive thing. But once you start digging into, let’s say high risk insurance, or you start digging into like the more nuanced insurance levels and you realize like here’s a difference that it can actually make in somebody’s life.

Or, you know, this agency was able to protect, you know, this community. Cause a lot of those smaller insurance agents, they’re very community driven. Like they have to get to know their community. They have to get to know the people around them that they’re selling policies to. They have to be very intimate in some ways with them.

And so kind of. Being in that industry at the time, it was a startup. I was employee number two. I got the opportunity in my very early twenties to build out a team, to set processes, to, you know, that project and product roadmap and to take a company from what I believe at the time was like a $50,000 investment.

To be valued in the millions and then be rolled into a larger company and then packaged and sold for a good chunk of million. Even though I didn’t get anything from that, except for the experience. I think I wouldn’t do it differently. It sounds strange, but I wouldn’t do it differently because a lot of it, the places you go and you end up working, whether you’re a designer or developer, you have this so weird pecking order that happened.

And the opportunity to learn is shrouded a lot more in don’t mess up. Don’t screw up. Don’t push bad code, don’t write bad code. And in this environment it was like, all right, we have, you know, three months where we can make as many failures as possible, but at the end of those three weeks, we need to have something that is stable, that we can work with, that we can push forward.

And yeah, two years later we had a system that was basically pushing outside within two weeks of onboarding a client, you know, capturing all their details, their product lines. You know, working like every department was communicating from that initial meeting. And, uh, yeah, I try to keep those principles going as time went on and I ended up other places that weren’t startups, but they still allowed.

That room for, um, not necessarily sailing, but growing and learning. And so, yeah, I would say anything that I saw that came up if I had 65% of the skills at four, at 50% of the skill set for like, Hmm, let me try this. Right. Or let me start with what I solidly know and then, all right, cool. I’m confident in there.

How does that work? Can I try that out? And then also being lucky to just have people who are like, Oh, I’ll help you figure this out or I’ll be a mentor to you. But then I would say the harder parts too were definitely when I started building out,  when we came up with the idea and we decided that this was the thing that we wanted to do.

It, of course was also right at the time when the major recession was happening in 2008. And so it’s like we were building a company and working full time. So it’s like trying to garner as much experience as possible because ultimately I wanted to work for myself and make that transition. And so, yeah, I mean, Experiences there when you see something, when you like have an idea for something that you really want to do, you’re not sure how to fully complete it start like most times the questions that we’re trying to answer at a fence though, can only be answered when we’re in motion.

Joe Howard: [00:12:30] I hadn’t heard it put exactly that way, but I totally agree with that sentiment. The learning a lot of times can’t come from a static position. Maybe some of like the theory and like quote unquote, best practices can, but. To actually learn how to be successful in the actual thing that you’re doing. You have to be like doing stuff.

You have to be active. There has to be some sort of kinetic energy going, because like that movement actually teaches you whether you get something right, or get something wrong, that’s going to always teach you. So I like, I’m going to quote you on that. I’m gonna steal that quote and use it. Cause I think that was, that was good.

So seven allity.com is. Your company. And so the website that you’re running, um, I think you mentioned that you started seven hourly while you were working full time somewhere else. And so I’d love to hear a little bit about that transition, because I think there are a lot of people who may be working a full-time job somewhere and are thinking about starting their own job.

And I think a lot of people think like, okay, the only way to do that as I got it, Quit my job. And then I got to go hustle culture, and I got to like, get it figured out with, by sacrificing the paycheck I was making. I’d love to know what your experience was. Did you do that or were you kind of working on it a little bit on the side on seven Audi while you were working somewhere else?

David Yarde: [00:13:38] So you’re going to love this one. I did the absolute. Do not ever do this, if you’re starting a business. Perfect. This is great. Great to talk about because this is a great conversation. So I don’t think I’ve even publicly gone into this story two months. So I was working for that start up for a while. And a few years after that, I was like, I really hate it here.

You know? So now that was pretty early. We’re starting to gain traction, you know, and. We were landing a pretty big client at the time. And I was like, all right, I’m going to quit. And I’m going to work totally on this client. Bad idea. Horrible idea. Number one, they decided that they weren’t going to sign the contract and do all of that stuff immediately.

Right? It was probably another two months after that whole thing. I didn’t have a marketing plan. I didn’t have a lead pipeline. I just thought that, you know, I am so good at what I do. People are going to instantly see it and want to work with me. I felt horribly. Okay. Like I, I tell you that was the worst space plan situation ever.

And I still didn’t learn from it. I really, I did that probably two more times solely because I was like, Oh, I’m just going to burn all the boats and I’m going to do this. This is what, you know, these books. They, you should do burn the boats and go all in. Yeah, no, no, no. So how I eventually made the transition a lot more with my sanity impact, I decided that seventh Avenue really needs a purpose.

Right. At that point, it was just like a cool name. We did design projects. We did web projects. And I think this is where the branding part of me or really started to bubble up where I realized naturally I was like starving this side off because I just wanted to be technical. I wanted to do the tasks. I wanted to knock everything out, but the strategy behind it.

Matters just as much. Right. And so diving in, I was like, you know what, the seven hours I really mean, what does it stand for? And we would get questions about it and I’d be like, Oh yeah, we’re just a design firm. You know, totality that, uh, and then one day it hit me what we actually do for people based on the reviews and everything.

We help them create an actual brand ecosystem. One that has a design components, the messaging, you know, the strategy and everything. That’s, self-sustaining so much of the story of creation. Not that awesome. But similar. And so we’re like, all right, this actually works. This is who we are, and this is what we’re trying to do.

And it became a lot easier to really address problems, you know, help and bring solutions about. But then to really get that transition going, I was like, well, How are we showing up? And that’s when we kind of like really doubled down on giving back to the workforce community, because started out we were community-based business.

We wanted to help businesses brand themselves better in the middle, the various session. But then of course, survival kicks in and you forget about that. We got back to that core, got a lot more involved in the WordPress community started helping organize our local meetup or they, you know, helping organize even virtual meetings happened really quickly.

I find that in this community, the moment you used to signal that you want to be a part of something and help people we’ll find places to like quickly put you. And so, yeah, it just kept going. And then after a while they were like, Oh, you should start speaking. And I’m like, yeah. You sure. Like I’m an introvert.

I’m okay. Where I’m at, you know, I’m, I’m okay. Doing all of this behind the scenes stuff over here. Why are you going to put me into that position? And then I gave my first talk and I was like, okay, this is terrifying. And then I got invited to do another one. And I was like, Oh no, This is big, bad, right?

Like what happens from here? Like what happens if I mess up and, um, I’ll never forget. I, it was a conversation with David  from work at Miami and he said to me, he was like, you know, don’t overthink it. Like when you’re submitting a talk or when you’re submitting anything, just submit, you know, two or three ideas that you want to talk about.

Because if you submit just one that lessens your chance of being accepted, right. But if you submit two or three, you know, here’s the thing that you probably will be accepted more likely for. And when you do it get accepted for one. Now you can just hone in on that one topic. Right. And that was a life-changing piece of advice because I was like, wow, I don’t have to try and be something that I’m not, I don’t have to try and talk about things that I don’t really know about.

Just to show that I’m a professional, I can talk about the things that I see, the gaps that I’m trying to feel and how they help people. And so, yeah, it became a pretty cool thing and kind of sharing, Hey, as a designer, as a project manager, as a UX guy in this space, there’s some cool things that we can do that, you know, we could probably help the world with a lot more. I mean, I haven’t looked back and I have no regrets and I’m excited to see where things go.

Joe Howard: [00:18:41] Yeah, cool, man. I’d be interested to hear what your, like, what you would say to other folks who would consider themselves introverts and kind of want to get more into the community. Maybe they want to give more talks and it sounds like it was scary for you.

I think honestly, even for extroverts, people who enjoy being in front of people or stuff, it’s giving your first word camp talk or talk in front of an audience is always a little nerve wracking. So if there’s someone listening out there who is consider themselves a little bit more introverted and maybe wants to. Try to give a talk somewhere. You have any advice for them, or maybe like how they can, how they can do it successfully.

David Yarde: [00:19:17] Yes. Um, have a lot of conversations with yourself. First people will think that you’re crazy, but who cares? How you communicate with yourself first is going to determine how you communicate with the world.

And if you keep saying to yourself, I can’t do this, it’s overwhelming. It’s too much. You don’t even begin to try. Right. But if you take it like the little engine that could approach where it’s like, I think I can. I think I can. I know I can. It becomes a lot easier because now you’re like doing that little incremental change and was like, all right, I think I can do this.

I can give a talk about this plugin that I love. I can give a talk about this design hack that I’ve found. Um, and it doesn’t have to be extremely long, right? A lot of meetups, especially now in this virtual space, have a little flash talks that you could give a lightning round talks that you can do, or you could even.

Open up your phone and record that video, talk about it and don’t post it, do it. So you get comfortable with it. I mean, I took courses online for public speaking. I took little Toastmaster events. I hated those. And then after awhile, I would just imagine that. So talking to a friend and it became a whole lot easier after that, because it was like, all right.

I’m sharing with my friend in the space about this thing, or having a deep conversation about it, you know, what are some questions that are going to come up? And then from there, just jump in. Uh, whether it’s a one meter, whether it’s a little sidebar at the meetup, whether it’s the happiness bar somewhere online, virtually offline, wherever, start building up that experience with connecting with people, with just talking with them, which sharing, you know, what you’ve been through your expertise and the things that you wish people don’t have to learn the hard way and becomes a whole lot easier. But if you try to play to that side of, Oh, This professional is sharing this thing this way. And I need to talk about this. You’re going to get overwhelmed and not even try it will knock you out.

Joe Howard: [00:21:14] Yeah. I love that advice a lot. Yeah. I think I might add onto that by saying like, as someone who myself is a pretty seasoned speaker and you yourself at this point, you know, you’ve given talks as well.

Like those of us who have lots of WordPress experience, I think there’s kind of this thought that like, those are the people that should be giving. Cox and they should be giving, you know, their experience back to the WordPress community. But I’ve actually found when I go to talks first time talks or people who haven’t done a lot of speaking or who are newer to the WordPress community, I learn so much really important stuff that like come from someone who’s maybe more of a beginner or like giving a talk then maybe I haven’t heard about before, because.

I, as someone who experienced in, in WordPress and the community, like, it’s almost like, um, I know too much, like I’m too high level. Like I, I need to like relearn some of the basics and beginner stuff. Totally, totally. And so I really value. Talks from people who maybe haven’t given a lot of word camp talks before, who are newer to the space.

Like your content is so important for everybody in the WordPress. Cause we need fresh ideas. We need new people thinking about how to do things differently. We need the, honestly like the next generation of WordPress folks to like come in and start giving talks. And it always starts with the first one. And so people are listening who are thinking about starting that, like this would definitely be like a. Your content is valuable, even if it’s a first time talk or beginner content.

David Yarde: [00:22:44] And, you know, I think I enjoy those talks a lot more as well because of their passion. Because they’re not necessarily jaded or cynical about, Oh, well we’ve been doing it this way.

It’s just kind of like, Oh wow. Like, look at what I had down. I figured. And like even problems that, you know, more seasoned people will literally curse their computer and walk away from, that’d be like, Oh, this is what I did. This is how I figured it out. And you’re like, Wow. I wish I had that excitement again.

And then you start to like, think back, when did I lose it? Right. And then you like, Oh, and then, so you want to start going again and, you know, connecting and helping. And so, yeah, I mean, It keeps community going. So definitely. If you feel like you can’t or you never had, please make 20, 21 the year, you do your first stop.

Joe Howard: [00:23:35] Yeah. Agreed. And it’s a digital year, all digital year. So you don’t have to travel and truly get up in front of people. You have a digital audience, which I think makes it a little less stressful. Maybe I don’t know about that. I mean, maybe some people will still feel stressed being on a camera in front of a lot of people, but I think.

Literally seeing, you know, a hundred eyeballs on you is definitely, that was stressful to me the first time I gave a talk. So, yes, for sure. I’d love to dive a little bit more into the work you’re doing at seven ality. Cause you mentioned before, I’m going to kind of like loop this back into when you started seven Audi, you mentioned one of the mistakes you made, or one of the challenges you had to overcome was you didn’t really have like.

A lead acquisition channel. He didn’t know how to like get new customers or you didn’t have that, like those funnels set up yet and, and running so that you were attracting new customers, getting new customers now, you know, 10 years later, or a little bit more, you know, in 2020, how has that evolved through the growing of seven Audi’s? How do you attract new customers? How to new customers find you or new clients, however, you

David Yarde: [00:24:34] it’s a smorgasbord of like my first three or four failures. Right? So I took the failure from. Actually predating all of that, like design and development stuff. I tried to do a clothing line and that failed, which pretty cool.

But the thing that I learned from that, that I pulled into seven reality was awareness is key. Like, if you feel as if people don’t know you exist, they probably don’t right. Promo yourself with like that confidence, like. This is a horrible example, but look at a crack head, right? You ever seen one on the side of the street?

They do not care, right? They have a mission and they’re going to let everybody know about that mission. If you look at the opposite side of like good people, we, we talk about good. But when it comes to like our opponents, They go the full distance of like converting people of like putting things out there and setting up, you know, institutions around them.

Meanwhile, good people are kind of looking at it like, Oh, this is what we believe our values will guide us. Right. So awareness is key. If you people aren’t aware that this exists there, aren’t aware that this boundary is there. They’re going to keep crossing it. Right. They’re going to ignore it. They’re going to, you know, do whatever.

And so taking that into seven Allity, we realized that awareness for what we do goes beyond just, Oh, we can design your logo or your website. In most cases, if I could, I would actually avoid it. People’s websites they include, because what really needs to be designed is the processes behind the business.

Is how you communicate, you know, your products and services. When you get to the website or your logo, that’s just the expression of the medium of what was actually designed. So when you think back and look at a lot of great companies, they realized that this awareness thing was also key Nike. Like they stick in your head with that, just do it.

You’re not buying shoes. But now you’re thinking about action. You’re thinking about sports. You’re thinking about fitness, that kind of a thing. And so that’s the approach that we took with, you know, really building out and creating lead pipelines and breaking it down to things that we can actually track and measure.

So you have referrals. Okay. Well, what type of referrals are they? You can’t really grow a business on referral, like traffic or stuff like that. But what you can do is make it a lot easier for people to do referrals to you, right. Or send referrals your way. And then if they do send it your way, how do you take care of them?

So they’re more likely to send another referral back to you. Right. And of course, this depends on the industry you’re in, because if you’re working with lawyers or financial people, there are certain things you can’t do in terms of giving them that’s a referral finder’s fee or whatever. And so navigating a lot of those things kind of determine some of the industries we really wanted to be in as well.

Um, going back to that earlier question about passion, we realized like for us, it was about education. Connecting people to new ideas and new thoughts, things that help better them help them reach that better version of themselves. And then from there, we realized that the hobbyist, the person that has the creative idea, that doesn’t necessarily fit into the normal thing.

They need a space to do their thing too. And so showing them how they can be creative and run a business and, you know, Manage the things that they don’t like, but be able to still do a lot of the things they do. Like, so, yeah, I mean, it was really just understanding here’s how to score a lead. Here’s how to, you know, move the lead from this stage.

And then by the time seven reality really was up and running and rearing its head the right way. It became a lot easier because we know, Oh, if we traveled to like three or four word camp, there’s a good chance. We’re going to reconnect with, you know, old friend or whatever, or meet new friends. And there’s a good chance that we’re going to come home with at least one or two projects.

Not that we’re going there for that. It just worked that way out. We get into one conversation. And they’re like, Oh, Hey, we’re trying to find a designer for something. You’re like, Oh, well, have you tried this? Or have you worked with this person? They’re like, Oh yeah, they’re booked out. You know, this one doesn’t know anything.

And in terms of like being able to do this, their print design, we need a web design. And then next thing you know, you’re like, Oh, we do web design. Um, what’s the problem. And you start talking, they were like, Oh, you guys would be perfect for this. Right. And it’s like, you have a little interview on the spot almost.

And no, one’s trying to look and say, Oh, I need you to do 10, get help pull requests before you can work for it. Right. So yeah, it became a lot easier to just really look and say, who are we trying to serve? How are we serving them? And, you know, once we step outside of the WordPress space, it becomes a lot different, uh, people aren’t as loving people, aren’t as, uh, empathetic, um, people can be a little bit cold and rough around the edges, but you learn that.

Everyone has that battle that they’re fighting and everyone has something that they’re trying to accomplish. And it doesn’t change the fact that you have skills that they need, and they have a problem that you are kind of excited to solve based on the skills that you have communicating to. That became a lot easier. And then it just kind of, after that, it’s really hard to say how it evolved. Things just kind of clicked in the space place where it’s like, you know, you have your marketing funnels, all the other stuff, and you just roll with it.

Joe Howard: [00:30:21] Yeah. I like how you said about just like knowing your customer. I think it’s probably like, everyone knows that at this point, there’s probably not a lot of people listening who are like, I need to know who my customers are in order to like, find those kinds of customers.

But I think that there’s a huge difference between does your customer serve as your customer, like a B2B organization or business that serves startups that are, you know, making maybe like. $50,000 a year and really starting out, or are they serving million $2 million a year businesses that are still not huge businesses, but they have a budget.

And like, this is like, those are really different kinds of clients. So just like knowing who you’re catering to is going to totally determine how you target those people. So I pick that out of what you said, which is important as well. It sounds like the two big. Areas for referrals for you are, or the two biggest, like lead-generation areas for you are referrals and just like WordPress community being active in the WordPress community and cultivating your network there a little bit to find either referrals or work with people in the WordPress space.

I’d be interested to even to dive a little bit more into that referral thing. Cause you mentioned kind of everyone knows like referral is a way you can get new customers, right? One of your customers says, Hey, they’re great. I have a friend like go tell my friend, you should go work for seven hours. But I think there is.

More ways you can make that easier to make that referral happen. And you were kind of talking a little bit about that. Are there any ways at seven out of that you make referrals easier for people? I feel like I have some ideas rolling around in my head, but I just wanted to first see, like, how do you, how do you guys make referrals a little easier?

David Yarde: [00:31:48] I didn’t do, I’ve gotten creative with that over the years, right?

Joe Howard: [00:31:52] Yeah. I’m sure you’ve tried some stuff that has worked and tried some stuff that hasn’t worked. And so. Any of it, I’d love to hear about the experience of it.

David Yarde: [00:31:59] So the thing that has failed are anything that involves those, uh, or the BNI groups where it’s like you come in with two leads or you refer someone and it’s kind of lead generation groups. Those have not worked for me,

Joe Howard: [00:32:14] Like a Facebook group or like a Slack group or something

David Yarde: [00:32:18] Like a Facebook group. But these are like, Pre chamber type groups in some areas, they call them B and I, I think it is business networking and international or something like that. I never heard of them before really weird.

Cause they were like, Oh, they only let certain people in, um, based on industry. So if I do design. Um, but I happen to do design for like marketing people and stuff  comes in and they do like advertising and whatnot. They’ll be like, Oh, there’s competition there. But to me, it’s like, no, that’s, uh, you know, that synergy, that’s where I get to focus on design.

They get to focus on ads and we could work together. So that was the first thing I didn’t like about those situations. Second every week they would make you bring like two or five people. And that’s the referral that you give nine times out of 10, the name that you got from someone else. They had no prior relationship with them, but it was like a cold lead, but it’s like, okay, you’re just basically Googling and handling me go cold leads.

Right. What we did. Yeah. It feels like there’s a lot of room for spammy stuff happening. So we did was we looked at that and we’re like, all right, cool. Initially, when most businesses started out, it’s friends and family that they’re working with, right. We didn’t really want to do that because friends and family expect a lot of discounts.

I don’t really believe in discounting things because there’s the appreciation side where it’s like, Oh, I didn’t really have to pay much for that. Or I got at a discount. Like I don’t value it much. Right. And so I really wanted to work with people that value our process, their value, what design can do.

And so what we did was whenever we’d have a client come in that matched like a really nice client profile, what we would do is if there was an objection about price, if there is an objection about, you know, something else you would say, Hey, we’ll knock off X amount. If you refer to us by the time he hit the third or second or third project, wait point to new people, right?

If we close one of those people by the time the ending of this is done. You get this discount. And so what it did was we had a very solid client profile. They love the fact that they could get a discount off of something. Some of them even got projects for free because they referred a bunch of people that also match that nice profile and that worked great.

And then after a while, you’re like, wow. You don’t even know where a referral is coming in because it’s like, this person just said, Oh, go talk to this person. And then they pop up later, like, Oh yeah. Did someone talk to you? All right, cool. I’m ready to start a project now. And you’re like, Oh, okay. This is going to be overwhelming.

Hopefully. Yeah. I mean, it was really great. I would say within like the first two or three years, we grew exponentially. Like it wasn’t a problem at that time, but I will say, you know, depression and all those things kind of jumped in there and cause problems, but it still works to this day. Like hands down referrals make up a good chunk of our business, which I’m shocked.

Not because it’s like, Oh, people are still referring people. It’s just kind of like, Oh, wow. I can say every month, one to two people may come in from a referral. Now it’s a lot more predictable. So yeah, there is a way to make referrals predictable in your business. It just takes some time, but you got to get creative too.

Joe Howard: [00:35:49] Yeah. I mean, that’s a cool idea. It’s kind of like a. Referral-based payout system that gives you a discount on your project, but it’s also time bound. So it’s like, by this time you give a referral, then it kind of pushes people a little bit to be like, okay, I guess I really should check out like my context today, as opposed to like, I can kind of do this whenever it kind of sounds to me like an affiliate based systems.

Like, but it’s specifically for customers, it’s more like a referral based system and there’s no like cash payout, but. Or commission payout, but there’s like the discount off your current projects, you know, and if someone’s paying $10,000 for a project, Hey, uh, for, for a couple of people over, it can be 9,000.

David Yarde: [00:36:31] Yeah. If they have a good chunk of money.

Joe Howard: [00:36:32] That sounds like it, easy thing to do. And Oh, if one of those people signs up, it’s 8,000. Yeah. There’s a, I can see how that could work. So, yeah. Cool. That’s like a pretty creative way to do things. I’m sure that. You had to tinker around a little bit while you were, uh, while you were trying out that were for a method to say like, Oh, do I need to make this time bound?

Like, how do I make the prep? How do I do the math in the back end to make sure that, you know, I’m still profitable on these clients, obviously with the free clients, maybe not so much, but if they’re referring 10 good leads to you and five of them sign up then totally. Makes sense because their profits coming from those five referred clients. But did you have to do a little, like, kind of back of the napkin math before you felt comfortable, like giving people discounts for referring folks?

David Yarde: [00:37:15] Yes. A lot of the back of the napkin math actually. And so here’s the other side, I’m a very strategic person. And so if I am giving out a discount or something, usually. There is a way, because if you think about it, money currency, it’s just whatever we assign the value to. So if there is a, say an introduction that would be super valuable for me. And I know this person carries the weight to make that introduction. Um, I’m willing to bet for that, right? If there is a leapfrog situation where if we finished this project and of course we get a great review from it, those work is out and about, and, you know, people are seeing it and relating it back to us.

It gives us a great boost in terms of brand positioning, brand strategy. Right. And there may be cases where, you know, I’ll say to someone, Hey, if I get your financial situation, isn’t really that, you know, perfect. Um, it may not match our ideal budget, but you have a drive where all you need is this little thing to get over the obstacle.

And you’ll be fine after that. And I’ll be honest with you. There’s actually a site that we did probably seven or eight plus years ago. That to this day still refers people to. They haven’t redesigned. It haven’t had to do anything to it because they loved it. It was very simple. We worked well with their illustrator and they were like, Hey, they will actually call us periodically and be like, Hey, are you still getting traffic from it?

I kept the link at the bottom. Like it is because we gave them a good experience. And so there are a lot of things where it’s not always about the money, but it is always about the value, like value is relative. Let’s say to a kid, a cookie could be supremely. Awesome. Right? Like I’m getting a cookie. So an adult it’s like really?

You’re just giving me one cookie. That’s it like, you feel like I don’t deserve more than one cookie. And so yeah, you have to understand the context of where your value is, how it’s being dispersed and received and all those things. And then just sometimes where it’s like, we’ll do work for a nonprofit and we’re like, I get it.

It’s small. They’re trying to do something. And we’re trying to test that in your process and your software and you, whatever. And we’ll just be upfront and be like, Hey, this may be a beta program that we’re running. This may be something here. We’re trying to do this. And you’re trying to do this. Can we put them together and both come out at the end and do something else?

Kind of same with what we’re doing right now with a, uh, like our brand development platform has been internal for so long. And then over the past, I would say maybe four or five years, it’s becoming a little bit more external. And so in order to do that, we have to run a lot of, let’s say training classes.

We have to do a lot of research and development. And I think that we’re doing to build out like this curriculum. We can just say, Oh, we’re going to charge you full price for it because we don’t even know the results that are going to come out of certain aspects of it. And so we’ll run a very, you know, well put together a cohort system of here’s what we’re tracking.

Here’s what we’re trying to do, you know, and those people may get a discount for it. Then at the end, when we’re done, it’s a different story. They end up getting. Full price. Like everybody has to pay full price after that. Uh, you should have signed up during the beta, that kind of a thing. And so we’re able to leverage a lot of, let’s say growth tactics or pricing tactics with different objectives that we’re trying to meet, make it fun, make it interesting.

And I mean, we’ve bootstrapped our company. Two or three different product lines, not just web development stuff. And I mean, it works with them and you have a strong community, you understand the value you get to know the people you’re trying to serve. It becomes a lot easier, like for, I think every hour of research that you put into a project, it saves you 10 hours of development.

So why wouldn’t I do the research and say, I’m going to give myself, you know, 15% of this total project is a research time. All right. That means once it’s 15% of used. Cool. Everything else from here is learning time, implementation time, reiterating on what we’ve learned. Right. That’s what it’s about.

Joe Howard: [00:41:36] Yeah. Cool man. And I think that you’re touching a little bit on the work you’re doing with these, this lovable brands program. If there’s anything else you wanted to chat about that I have that on my list of kind of like, Oh, that sounds pretty interesting. And it sounds like it’s kind of gone from internal to somewhat more external as maybe a new product line for you or a new product that you’re potentially offering in the future. I’d love to hear a little more about that.

David Yarde: [00:41:57] Yes. This is also where the WordPress community comes in and it’s amazing. Right. So when I started this and I’m like, all right, cool. I want to do branding. And I start talking about this. I didn’t realize I had notebooks upon notebooks of stuff that I was writing and like testing different module or you know, stuff.

And then one night I’m sitting and I’m starting to bring more of it out into the public. Um, you know, doing the local business incubators now, not really gaining as much traction and I’m like, maybe I shouldn’t give up. No, no one meetup. I ended up meeting John Meda. And it blew my mind and I was like, it was wild because the list is there and they’re like, yeah, you know, Matt Mullen was coming and I’m like, yeah, that’s pretty cool.

And they started naming off, you know, all the other cool developer people. And then, you know, but he goes John Meda. And so I pull out my phone, I Google it. And I’m like this John Maida. And he’s like, yeah, you know him? And I’m like, this is like a design. Person’s dream right here. All right. If you’ve done anything with design thinking with, you know, computational anything you’re like, all right, cool.

When I tell you my hands are sweating buckets, like I had paper towels in my hands clenched up like this, and my hands would not stop sweating. Like I was that nervous about it. And so I’m talking to him and he’s like, Oh, so how are you in the workforce space? And I’m like, yeah, I’m a designer. And he’s like, Interesting.

And so you started talking a little bit more and then he gives me this challenge, right? Whatever I’m doing with level brands 10 times. And I’m like, all right, cool. He’s gonna forget about this conversation that we end up reconnecting again in word camp Miami. And he has this whole conversation again and start going deeper into it.

And so lovable brands for those that don’t know is a way for creative people and non-creative people to communicate and build things that they enjoy. Being in this space, the hardest thing ever is communicating with creative. We either will tell you, no, we will look at you strange, or we will be like, wow, this person just doesn’t know what’s happening here.

Why are they having this conversation with us? And then the other side it’s like, the person is looking and saying, well, how do I even get this idea across? Like, if I say, make it pop, I’m going to get laughed at. Right. And so. Digging deeper into it. I realized it actually was a framework that helps people to create more of the things that help with pain upward.

And by that is, it looks at the individual. And actually that can do a quick exercise right here, right now as an individual, we have the things that we value. We have the things that we want to achieve, but then we also have the things that are so. They’re so special to us that we try to find a way to incorporate it into everything.

Right. And that little space right there, whatever energy we pull from there, that’s kind of like the lovable core or like your quantum lovable state. Right. Because if it’s design or development, even if it’s brewing beer, You will find a way to talk about that thing in something else, or try to map the world out with that understanding.

And so, you know, looking at the individual person packets empathy, then it jumps into the community portion, which is the one that I really love. And it’s really looking at what are the areas that you’re involved in? What are the areas that you could probably create stuff in or create a community in.

That bridges, the individual to let’s say the industry, most people look at the industry being the thing that defines the individual. In this case, we’re defining the individual or helping them curate and create communities that impact them as the person with a skillset in the industry. And so what this did in the past, I would say the top three case studies that came out of this one was an intellectual property law.

The other was in public equity and venture capital. Um, and the other one was just, you know, general, everyday people trying to create something cool. And each one of them had this weird light bulb moment where it was contagious. It literally was focused pages. I was like, Did you guys study something else?

Cause I don’t think this is what I gave to you right here. And what they found was having empathy, especially to oneself, may easier for them to be more forgiving, not only to themselves at mistakes, but lower the amount of burnout that they would have in doing things around groups of people and pushing their ideas forward because they were more excited.

They were less worried about failing. They were less worried about what other people thought. And they were more focused on being able to create things from that place where they just saw the world. Right. Like they just wanted to help the world do these things. And that was their skillset in doing it.

But they also had, let’s say two or three other skills that could compliment it. Right. And so, yeah, it was just the way to organize and build a bridge between creative non-creative. Or you as a person who feel that you aren’t creative and the part of you that is creative to be able to communicate with the world.

And so, yeah, now it’s, uh, getting ready to do the fun WordPress part of building the learning management system for that we’re using learning, we’re using it with WP fusion, of course, gravity forms and all that other good stuff. But it’s going to be a gamified experience where you get to learn about personal branding.

You get to see how it relates to building business brands for not building a business brand, how you operate within someone else’s business as an employee contractor, vendor. But really honing in on just sticking to what you values thinking to practicing more empathy, developing the soft skills that are transferable between any category that you go into. But yeah, having fun along the way. That’s literally all it’s about.

Joe Howard: [00:48:13] Cool man. That’s a, a great place to wrap up. I’m excited for that. You definitely got to let us know when that launches so it can help share around. And so we can check it out our team, you can check it out. Why don’t you tell folks where they can find you online website, social media, all that stuff.

David Yarde: [00:48:27] So I’m mostly active on Twitter. Uh, so if you’re looking for me, it’s D S M Y or David yard.com. Remember there’s that silent EA after the yard in there? Yeah, that’s pretty much the best places to find me. Newsletter that’s rebooting in the beginning of the year, but Twitter, if you want to get a quick question in or be like, Hey, have a thought or whatever it may with the DM hit me at the tweet, hit me with a fleet.

Joe Howard: [00:48:55] Oh man. Now we’re diving into stuff I don’t even know about. I think I heard about this, like. Is a Twitter turning into Snapchat, turning into Instagram and all that stuff. So, yeah, I just gave you a follow on Twitter, so I’ll be checkout and I hit that little alarm button. So I’ll be checking out some of it to some of the tweets and stuff last but not least. I always ask my guests to ask our listeners for little iTunes review. So if you wouldn’t mind asking our listeners for a review on iTunes, I appreciate it.

David Yarde: [00:49:22] For sure. So you guys have been listening to this podcast. It’s absolutely amazing in this space and what it does and the people it brings together. So head over to iTunes, leave a review and share why it has been so amazing to you.

Joe Howard: [00:49:35] Awesome man. Yes. If people go to WP mrr.com forward slash iTunes, it redirects you right there. If you’re on your iPhone, you can need a nice review in the iTunes app. And if you’re listening on YouTube right now, or if you’re watching Sasha sing on YouTube, you can just open a new tab.

wpmrr.com/itunes. And you have a little review. If you leave a comment, you can just leave five stars. That’s cool. But if you leave a review, tell us something you learned from this episode. Uh, we can send a screenshot to David and say, thanks, man. Appreciate it. It also helps us to know what new episodes, new content we should do.

Obviously do a lot more around the intersection of design and development. If we get a few nice reviews for this episode. So yeah. Feel free to go and leave a review there. If folks are new listeners to the show, we’ve got like 120 or so. Previous episodes. If you’re having a specific challenge right now, go to the search bar bar WP mrr.com forward slash podcast.

Do a search pricing, MRR fortune 500. Yeah. There’s tons of different searches you can make to S to find episode that hopefully will help you with your specific. Challenge you are having right now. Uh, if you have questions for us at the show Christie, and I do like to do the occasional Q and a episode, so you can shoot questions to yo@wpmrr.com or just hit me up on Twitter at Joseph H. Howard Twitter is probably better. I probably check Twitter more than I check email. I’m not, I’m not great with my email, but I’m a little better on Twitter. That is all for this. This week’s episode of the podcast, we will be in your podcast players again next Tuesday, David. Thanks again for being on man. It’s been real.

Podcast

E124 – How to Make A Name For Yourself in A Fully Digital WordPress Community (Joe Simpson, joesimpson.info)

In today’s episode, Joe sat down with Joe Simpson Jr. Joe is a Front-End Web Developer and Graphic Designer specializing in WordPress solutions. During days he works at a top-five transit agency, fighting the good fight to ease the commute around Los Angeles County. 

They discuss Joe’s responsibilities in the digital strategy team at Metro Los Angeles, how he started in the WordPress space, his continuous effort for the inclusion of people of color in the open source space, and the planning for the 3rd WordCamp Santa Clarita.  

Tune in to learn how the WordPress environment came to be more diverse!

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 01:11 Let’s welcome Joe Simpson!
  • 04:16 Visit The Source 
  • 06:02 How did you get into this area of WordPress?
  • 08:13 Getting involved in the WordPress community
  • 11:00 Ahmed Khalifa is a common connection
  • 13:00 African-American representation in the WordPress community
  • 17:27 Creating a more diverse space in the open-source environment
  • 22:14 Changes in the WordPress space since COVID
  • 29:20 Everyone’s first time in a WordCamp
  • 32:10 The backstory behind WPMRR’s new branding and design
  • 35:06 Planning for the 3rd WordCamp Santa Clarita
  • 38:30 Proper documentation helps shape a more successful virtual event

Episode Resources

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: [00:00:00] Howdy folks, Joe Howard here. Welcome back. We have Joe Simpson on the podcast this week. Obviously we always have great episodes when you’ve got two Joe’s on the podcast. Whenever Joe Casabona has been on, it’s been fantastic. And this episode was no different. Joe does a ton of stuff in WordPress. I’ll let him.

Talk about it all here in a second, it was really cool. Being able to talk to him about all of the community work. He does all the organizing, all the volunteering. It really is fantastic to hear about how he’s really stepped into the limelight in the WordPress community and has yeah. Really become front and center.

And from one African-American. In the WordPress community to another I think it’s especially cool to see. We definitely chatted about representation in the space as well, but definitely a lot about how folks can continue to become more central in the WordPress community, especially during these COVID times when everything is digital how can you continue to push forward and really continue to be a core part of the community.

If you want to be. All right, without further ado. Here’s Joe. Hey folks. Welcome back this week. We have, we got a special to Joe episode of the podcast. This week. We have Joe Simpson on here with me, Joe. How’s it going and tell folks a little bit about you your background, what you do with WordPress, you listed a bunch of stuff you with WordPress, when you, when we were booking this call and I was like, wow, Joe does a lot. So it may take a little while, but I’d love to get to tell folks, like all the stuff you do with WordPress.

Joe Simpson: [00:01:31] I’m Joe. Hey I just first wanted to say, Hey Joe, it is the year of Joe. I was just speaking part of the speaker team at Word Camp, Los Angeles. And I think we had six Jos. So I think 2020 is definitely the year of Joe. Yeah. Everywhere I go there, a gel now where it’s it’s a common name and it’s not really a intrude name anymore. So it’s just cool. Still around in the ecosphere. My name’s Joe Simpson. I work with Metro in Los Angeles, which is one of the largest transportation companies in the world.

I’m part of their digital strategy team. I manage our WordPress blog network. We have about 15 sites and it’s constantly growing. The cool thing about it is that all the projects that we’re doing, we’re trying to get people out of their cars and onto public transportation, because, you hear the famous or infamous Los Angeles traffic.

So we’re working to get people out of their cars and on a public transit. So every time a new project. Rolls out. We spin up what we call a vanity site. So we build a WordPress site. We have a really strong brand and I work with our marketing and design teams to bring these sites to life to provide information for our customers.

So I’m always in the WordPress space. So that’s my professional job, but then my alter ego or in my alter ego came into being about three years ago. I had a heart event. And I had to take a leave of absence. And during those three months, I decided to go back to the things that I really love doing.

And one of those things was I was exposed to WordPress about 10 years prior to that, I did a WordPress VIP event. I wasn’t just an HTML guy learning WordPress for the first time. And it was amongst all the automatic team, all the heavy hitters who did all the development for the core. And one of the first things they asked us to do was spin up a virtual site on a virtual box.

And I was like, I have absolutely no idea what this means, but the cool thing was my first exposure to the WordPress community was everybody bent over backwards to help me and make me feel comfortable and welcome me. So spin forward to when I had the heart event. I said, let me touch base with WordPress.

Again, I’d never been to a meetup. I’d never been to a word camp here in Los Angeles, but I said, let me find out what WordPress is really all about. And so I started attending meetups and going to work camps. And from that point for those three months, I think I did 18 meetups and work camps. And ever since then, I’ve just been over the top crazy about WordPress, just trying to learn more and do the things that I really love. So giving back is one of those things and being a part of the community has been incredible.

Joe Howard: [00:04:03] Yeah, man. It’s cool to hear all the different facets of WordPress you work in. I want to start on the first area you mentioned, which was like your professional area of WordPress. Is there like a site or sites that people can go to check out this like WordPress in this kind of environment?

Joe Simpson: [00:04:19] Oh sure. Our mothership site is currently under we’re in a transition. We’re looking to move that to WordPress, but our news blog we’re run by a board of directors, which is. Consists of like the mayor is the head of our board, the mayor of Los Angeles, mayor Garcetti, and a number of political officials.

So they run our site and we have a WordPress blog. That’s called the source and we have it’s Spanish language Academy equivalent. They’ll pass the hero and they’re basically the news arm of our agency. So those are two high profile sites. The source.metro.net. Gonna help pass that. Pass the herro.metro.net.

Those are both in WordPress and they’re really active news blog. So they, between five and 10 posts a day covering our agency, providing information to our customers. So they’re very active very high volume. And so that’s probably the first place you should look. And then we have other sites that are spun up based on projects, like the plan.metro.net. We had a ballot measure initiative a few years back. To fund some of our transportation products on up this site, which was a multilanguage thing. So we get to do some fun things in WordPress and that where I fit in with our agency.

Joe Howard: [00:05:26] Yeah, so cool. I think there’s so many people in WordPress are either like agency, folks or freelancer folks and work on those small, medium sized businesses.

There are some people that, are working on enterprise level stuff, but This is a, this big public space is not something. I think a lot of people in WordPress experience in their like WordPress journey. So it’s always interesting to, to hear about folks who are, did you get into that? Like how did you get into that area of WordPress? And was that something like you, you found a job doing this and then you ended up. Using WordPress for it, or were you involved in WordPress? And then you’re like, Oh, this job does WordPress in this domain. That’s so cool.

Joe Simpson: [00:06:03] The story that most people have, we had a lead developer in our CSS. God is they both left our agency within a month of each other and they handed me the source and they said, we need to redesign it. And here you go. And fortunately we have budget and they sent me up to the WordPress, VIP intensive workshop in Napa. That spring. And that’s how we started, previously our CSS goddess, she did all the wrong things on WordPress, not to disparate.

Anyway, she, we have all the records, all of us when we started out, she developed directly into the parent theme in those candidates. So my first thing was to build a child thing. And fortunately our site was migrated to WordPress, VIP, which is the enterprise flavor of WordPress. Time magazine. A lot of the CBS local television networks are on that and it’s like an enterprise flavor, but what it did for me, fortunately, it forced me to learn how to commit, to get up and work and develop the right way and submit code the proper way.

As a designer, I had to quickly learn how to work in a setting that most people that work in WordPress did. So I was fortunate in that way that I thought it was forced to learn WordPress quickly, but then I had to learn it correctly.

Joe Howard: [00:07:16] Yeah. Yeah. Gotcha. Cool. And the other side of the WordPress stuff, you do more in like the volunteering and the organizing. I gotta read off. All these things you listed here, man, you’re volunteer Wrangler. It was good. Easy in the most positive sense, you can be a WordPress crazy volunteer Wrangler or press accessibility day or press community. Deputy work camp Santa Clarita, lead organizer, or press Santa Clarita Valley meetup, organizer Elementor or Santa Clarita Valley meetup organizer, and programming team at WordCamp us.

So clearly you enjoy. The WordPress community and helping out and continuing to grow and evolve the WordPress community, this stuff, all you’ve done is this, how long have you been doing community stuff over the past couple of years? Over the last few years?

Joe Simpson: [00:08:04] Like I mentioned, my heart event was in 2017. So since 2017, I’ve just been like a ball up, house of flame of the things that you mentioned, there were just not enough. This year I’ve taken the COVID pandemic. As a way to get back into the process that I had three years ago, we’re all forced to stay at home. And a lot of folks took that as an opportunity to step back and step away from some of their community endeavors.

But I took it as, Hey, I have another eight going on nine month period where I can learn more and learn about an area that I’m interested in and WordPress. Like you mentioned the WordPress accessibility day, which is Joe Dawson’s event in October, it was a 24 hour accessibility focused WordPress event.

And I said, join their team on make and said, Hey, I’m willing to do whatever, because. I had some accessibility experience in my past, but I wanted to learn more. And we started a meetup here in San Fernando Valley. One of the people that are part of my team, she started a meetup that was really focused on WordPress accessibility, and we’ve just been doing more and more.

Actually, I submitted that information to you on the questionnaire. No ability in Austin, Texas is having an air competition, which is their air accessibility, internet rally. And so a whole bunch of teams from all over the world come together and build sites for nonprofits. So a group of word pressers, including myself, we just completed that.

So I’ve just been, trying to learn as much as possible on areas that I love to learn about. And it’s just taken me to places and I’ve been able to meet people. That I would have never met before, especially now in a virtual environment, it’s more like a war, the world has come together in terms of WordPress. So it’s really exciting. And that’s what keeps me going is it’s really an exciting endeavor.

Joe Howard: [00:09:46] Yeah, that’s so cool, man. I like, I really like the idea of, I think it’s important for everybody to, be a continual learner. Everyone’s heard that before. I’m not telling people anything new. You always want to be learning and try new things and experimenting.

But I really liked the idea what you just said in terms of. You can really do good for the world and give back and volunteer for things and get great learning opportunities from it. I think that gets lost. Sometimes people think I’m just, maybe I’m doing free work or I’m just, what am I getting back from this work?

There’s a ton you could learn about accessibility about all the things you’re talking about. I did a podcast recently with a med and he, we talked about all the additional. Pros you can have from making your content more accessible to everybody. And it was really eye opening to me because I hadn’t thought of half these things and it was total people should definitely listen to that episode, but I dig what you’re saying there. I think that’s very cool. Very true.

Joe Simpson: [00:10:39] It’s a small world. Med, I listened to that podcast, which is great by the way, he’s been to our meetup. Like when we did the work, when we did our accessibility meetup day. Yeah. We had him on to speak about captioning and he’s an incredible story. I first heard him at WordCamp Europe.

And like I said, now that the world smaller, I just reached out to him on Twitter and said, Hey, would you mind coming? And speaking on that topic, I saw it at work camp Europe. I was initially scheduled to speak at WordCamp Europe, but. When they downsized when they went virtual, I didn’t, but I saw his presentation.

I was like, this guy is, has got a great story. So he’s dynamic. And like I said, your podcast was awesome. I generally walk the Hill every morning before sunrise as part of my workout routine. And that, I usually listen to a podcast and that was a great. Podcasts to listen to while I was walking by the way.

Joe Howard: [00:11:28] Nice. Yeah. Thank you, man. Yeah. And this is a med Khalifa for folks who may not know who a med is, but he was on episode 118, just a few episodes ago, a couple episodes ago on this podcast. But yeah, fantastic dude, fantastic episode. I’d be interested to hear a little bit more about, because you mentioned during COVID times, there are a good number of people who have stepped.

Back from some of the community stuff they were doing, the community stuff has changed. It’s entirely digital. Now there’s no word camps. There’s no meetups. There’s no in-person meetups until 2022. So this is really, we have another, at least another year of this. I wonder to touch on that a little more, because I think that two things that kind of come to mind, one is Christie, who is on who coasters podcast with me.

She we’ve talked before about reinventing. Like the WordPress community leadership and not only reinventing it, but like always preparing for like the next crop of people to be leaders in the space and to continue to rotate that I was bigger into the WordPress community, probably two or three years ago.

And I’ve taken a step back with that thought like there’s a next crop of people who are going to come in and carry that torch. But I also want to talk to you specifically about what this looks like with a lot of people stepping back as. An African-American individual stepping into doing a lot of community work.

I haven’t seen a ton of African-American representation in the community leadership, especially in the community. There’s some, but in like community leadership, I have not seen a lot. So I’d like to hear your thoughts on it, what it feels like to be doing so much community work as a black man, as someone who’s coming into that, into this space. I just guess, want to hear your experience and your thoughts on how it’s been.

Joe Simpson: [00:13:05] It’s been a great full circle moment. And you may not know of color that I saw on stage an African-American male was you can see Pago and work camp Chicago. We didn’t play on it. I know it’s the perfect transition, but that was my very first work camp that I was accepted to speak at.

My son was attending Michigan state university. And back then it was, I think it was a new feature in the admin where they added the location to the admin. And you could search for WordPress or . That was cool. Yeah. And I put in East Lansing and work camp, Chicago popped up and I said, Hey, let me apply to speak.

And so I did speak that day. And one of the first people in one of the tracks that I saw was you. And I was like, wow, this is incredible. And you talked about your company, you were talking about all the things that I wanted to learn about. I want to learn how to be my own businessman one day. So part of my journey back was learning these things, learning.

I was setting about paving, these runways, where I could take off into whatever my career led next. And you were one of those inspirational people. I was like, wow, he’s on stage and presented. And like you mentioned, I think. In the three years since I think I’ve seen five people of color, five African-American men on stage.

So it’s just been something I wanted to focus on. I know for me, I want it to be behind the scenes too. I know initially when I got into the community, I wanted to volunteer for one of the local word camps, but their teams were so tight that they didn’t have an additional space for me. So I said, Hey, I’m crazy enough.

Let me start my own meetup here in Santa Clarita, which I did. And then within a year, We did our first word camp. And for me, it was an opportunity for me to leave. And I was like, I want to see what I can do within WordPress and in an open source environment, it’s really up to your effort. And so I was like, I’m going to get out front and see what I can do and see if I can inspire other people to get involved.

One of the best things about doing that was a couple of folks that started meetups in our area. There was one gentleman he said, and he saw me on stage. And he was just about to stop doing his meetup in Bakersville, his name’s Mike Kiley. And he saw me on stage and I talked about how I got into the community and why I got into the community.

And he said it inspired him to keep going. And they still doing it to this day or another gentleman at the West Hills meetup said he saw me and he volunteered to work on our work camps. So to me, it’s not just inspiring. African-Americans it’s inspiring diversity and people that feel like they don’t have an opportunity to get involved.

So that’s probably the biggest thing for me. It’s seen others do it and seeing others do it well, and it’s not even, I know for me, it’s not a thing that I put out there for people to say, Oh, he’s an African-American doing this and that. It’s just, when you see people do it, they do it. It doesn’t really matter. Where they come from. And like I said to me, it’s an added bonus that you were an African-American male that was speaking about business and marketing at word camp Chicago. And that inspired me. And I took that and took it back home.

Joe Howard: [00:16:04] Yeah, man, I totally hear that. I follow MKBHD on YouTube. He’s like a tech like reviewer and does a lot of cool tech videos. And I remember one comment is I don’t usually look in the comments, but one time, I guess I did look in the comments because I remember he did one on. Like what it was like to be like a black influencer and the, like one of the top comments was like, the reason I like all your stuff is I think you’re the best tech, whatever personal YouTube, not just the best black tech person on YouTube. And that always, that kind of stuck with me. And I hear is that resonating with you a little bit, man. I’m trying to remember exactly what my topic was and that word camp Chicago. I tried to look it up on word camp TV just now, but I think they maybe never got it up on word.

Yeah. But it’s all good, but yeah, I think huh, man. So as someone now who’s in the WordPress community speaks in the WordPress community organizes, like what are your thoughts about. Trying to make it a more diverse space. We talked before we came online here on this episode about kind of the lack of.

I’ll say African-American cause that’s what were talking about African-American representation in terms of speakers at WordCamp us. And I think, I remember from think it was 2017 or something. It was like one out of like 45 speakers was African-American and I was like, that’s crazy. I remember thinking I’m not even talking about it being like, this is that’s crazy.

That’s like way lower than the percentage of black people in WordPress. Like how come the representation isn’t there. Wondering if you feel the same and if you’ve. Thought of ways to continue to maybe recruit more people into the space to continue to give people equal access, to be able to speak, to apply, to speak, to be selected as speakers.

Joe Simpson: [00:17:36] I know for me it’s second nature of the family that I came from, my grandmother who was a matriarch. Was it a woman. My mom is the matriarch of the second level, my sister. And so it’s always been natural for me to work in unison with women or other folks of color to make the team stronger.

I know when we did, I’m proud of the fact that at both of our word camps, we had over 50% female speakers as well as male. So it’s just been part of, I know what we look for and I know what I look for personally. I always look for interesting topics. And it seems to work out that it’s a diverse pool that we choose from.

I know there’s, I’m working on a project with WordPress. We’re looking to do something with the historically black colleges and I’m working with Allie, your colleague on that. So we’re trying to bring more people into this space in the African-American community. I know for me, I’ve seen people in marketing in design of African-American descent, but I want to see more developers.

So how do we do that? And for me, While the events that I go to, I’m always scoping out connections or people to bring into the space. I know at our first work camp, there was a developer in the audience and African-American developer. So hopefully on our next event, he’ll speak. So to me it’s just a matter of being aware.

And I think if you raise awareness across the board, that’s how diversity happens. I think a lot of these tight-knit groups, I think I mentioned before, I wanted to get involved in a work camp earlier, but the group was so tight. You couldn’t really get into it, just opening up those groups to be aware that there’s other options is the first step.

Some folks have had me on podcasts that I wouldn’t think that I would be a guest on just because of my message and my message of inclusion. So to me, it’s working. Just through osmosis, it trickles down. So that’s exciting. I think it goes back to your point about where do we want WordPress to go from here?

And I think just being in those rooms and having those discussions where you haven’t been before is the first step. And then as you bring people along and bringing people that are talented, people that are interesting, that are creative, those different voices are going to take it in a different direction. So I’m excited to see what happens next.

Joe Howard: [00:19:45] Yeah, very cool. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Allie has a new initiative out teaming up with Michelle from the give WP team underrepresented in tech.com, where Joe, if you have not created a profile, you should create a profile. I created mine a couple weeks ago, and it just for folks too, who are looking for opportunities to be on podcasts or write guest posts to be on a webinar they can create profiles.

So that. We have a database of folks who are underrepresented in tech and also the ability for companies to come in and look for opportunities or provide opportunities. Hey, I’m looking for someone to speak at my WordCamp. I’m looking for someone to be on my podcast. They can find and make their collection of folks.

They have. In there, worlds a little bit more diverse. I remember when Allie came on to WP bus, one of the first things she said to me was like, Hey, you’ve got a lot of like white men on the podcast. Like when I go onto the podcast page, like six out of the eight people are like, just like white men.

And, that’s generally the makeup of the WordPress space, but how can we do more? To make sure we’re getting voices from every single corner of the WordPress space and every single every single kind of voice needs to be heard. And this is a great way for me to be able to do that. So we’re going through, all this database and getting some, a really diverse array of people for the podcast. Yeah, if you haven’t checked it out, Joe, definitely check it out.

Joe Simpson: [00:21:02] Yeah. I saw the link the other day. It was a current release. I know they did another story on it this week, so it’s definitely on my words. And like I said, Allie is pretty awesome. Her energy is very cool.

Joe Howard: [00:21:12] I know, tell me about it. That was on before we even hired her. I remember thinking like energy, we could use that, we have good energy, but she has like pure through the roof energy, positive, positivity and stuff. Yeah, she has been a great addition to the team. I wanted to even dig in a little bit more to the changes in the WordPress community during COVID.

Cause we did talk about this, but I haven’t been like super community involved in the past six months or so I have one year old now, almost one year old. So somewhat of a step back. Thank you. I taken somewhat of a step back, spending more time with my family and a little less time doing the online meetups and doing, obviously not going to.

WordCamp Europe and us, like our team usually would meet up with those every year. Cause they’re not happening. They’re not happening in real life. I wanted to see what your thoughts were on. Like how are people feeling in the WordPress community? Do you feel like people are staying positive and like transitioning well to the fully duty?

Or do you feel people are like maybe hurting a little bit and being like, man, like I really need like a meetup. I need that physical connection. I need that, WordCamp, Europe, I’m not going to. Europe next year. I usually would be. You feel people are doing okay or you feel like they’re having a tough time.

Joe Simpson: [00:22:19] A little of both. I think there’s a lot of pain out there and I don’t want to just, disparage that in any way. So I’m always cognizant of that. And there were quite a few people that say, Hey, it’s too stressful right now. And then when I feel better about things, I’m going to come back and that’s fine.

And I think the message that I’ve always stressed since that time is there’s folks like me that are willing to pick it up. And carry it now. Cause I know in the Los Angeles community work camp, Los Angeles skipped a year because a lot of the people that had done it for years and years, there was talk that they may have been burned out.

And to me, there were folks that were waiting in the wings that were ready to pick it up and it has resumed. But during this time of COVID, there’ve been a lot of folks in a lot of conversations in the meetings and meetups that I’ve been involved in. We want to pick it up and carry it until. Everyone comes back because it’s given so much to us and it’s been a sense of inspiration.

Like I said, you mentioned how how you described Allie as energetic. I feed off of that. I draft off of that kind of energy. So my messages, hopefully. The folks that have stepped back, hopefully we’re taking good care of it. And when you’re ready to come back, it’s that? I think people come in and out of the space all the time for different reasons, but this one is a major one and just know that there’s folks all over that are willing to step in.

There’s another image. And I wanted to give a shout out to back when I did my work camp in April, there was a gentleman that volunteered from Bangladesh. And I was thinking, wow that’s interesting. Why would he want to help? And ever since then he considers me a mentor, but he’s been on every single word camp.

Since as a volunteer and it’s grown the community way. So to me, that’s, what’s exciting. Those are spaces where it’ll grow. I think in terms of WordPress, I know at the beginning on our team, specifically half of our team quit, they said, I just want to take a break because of COVID. And that was totally understandable.

And so from that point forward, it seems like that split propelled what we’re doing and there’s, and like I said, there’s a number of people that continue. And I know for me, I’ve volunteered for most, I think. Most camps except for a couple this year. So it’s been exciting again, to get involved because I wanted to learn about the behind the scenes, how to be, how to manage these things.

Because again, that would benefit me in terms of running my own business, meeting people, networking, soliciting people, to speak at events, working with sponsors. So to me, all those skills are very valuable to anyone. So I would suggest. If you’ve taken a step back, or if you want to get involved, I would encourage you to, because it’s like life skills or business skills that you can apply elsewhere. So it’s been very helpful to me.

Joe Howard: [00:24:57] Yeah, totally resonates with me. I think you were mentioning before about how you started this WordPress meetup and turn it into eventually a word camp, which I think is a common route for a lot of WordCamps you start a meetup and get some local people there. And it really helps to be able to have a local word camp.

If you have a strong meetup there, I guess this is talking about in real life, with digital, you can reach out to the whole community, but you did that. That’s a crazy entrepreneurial thing. To build a community like that, a local community is like you built a business, if you have a hundred people in your meetup, it’s a hundred kinds of customers you have, right.

Or a hundred trial users. That’s the same thing. And so a lot of these, I think a lot of those skills crossed over. So people are thinking about, I want to build a business, that’s my main focus. Maybe I can find some time, do some community work or volunteer that work. Can and the learning you do in those volunteer opportunities and those organizing opportunities can easily transition over to building a better business faster.

And I think that’s something like you just mentioned that I made that connection to that. That’s totally true. And so if people are, I know there are a lot of folks out there who. May not have been super involved in the WordPress community in the past, or maybe a step back, but there are so many opportunities.

Now I know with, community leadership like Joe, you jumped in and the first time you said, Hey, what can I do? That’s all you need to do. You’ve got to find the right Slack channel and message, the right person and be like, Hey, what can I help with? What do you need help with? I’m here to volunteer. You can get a lot of those learning opportunities by just not even being super proactive, just like being a little bit proactive, a little proactive, and that can spark something that like leads you to being a pig person in the community, Joe.

Joe Simpson: [00:26:32] Yeah. And the great thing is that these opportunities like people need help, to run any event or run any company. You need a good team of people that are helping you. So I think a lot of times at the beginning, a lot of folks were like, who is this guy? That’s so energetic and wants to help. When they realize that I’m in it to win it, or I’m really there to make a difference, then it grows into a relationship.

I think a lot of the meetups are great opportunities that were work. Camps are great opportunities to see makers, to see people who created businesses or created plugins or created themes or products within the WordPress space. And those people want to share the information if they feel like they have something to benefit from too.

So that’s part of why I volunteer as well. I know I mentioned the WordPress accessibility day. One of the reasons why I wanted to volunteer was I was learning more about accessibility. And Joe Joelson is the godfather of creating accessible content in the WordPress space through one of his plugins.

So I wanted to pick his brain about, went into building that plugin and working on that event, we got closer and he said, and he saw that I was willing to really take a big role in helping him out. So it worked out both ways. And to me, it’s a mutually beneficial to someone that is looking for benefits. It works out for everyone. To me, it’s a great experience.

Joe Howard: [00:27:48] Yeah, that’s really cool, man. I think like over the past, I don’t know. Three or four years, like I’ve started to be known more in the WordPress community. Like people know about my company and then people know about it, makes them on podcasts. And I, I’m webinars and I promoted the company pretty well in the WordPress space.

I think. So I think like I’m somewhat, well-known in the WordPress community, but I remember my first word camp us where I came to word camp. Let me go back farther than that word camp Lancaster, which was. The first word camp I ever went to were camp Lancaster, like 2014 or something, 15, something like that.

And I remember going to get a shirt made WP buff shirt with our old, like pretty horrible logo on it. Get one shirt printed at a local thing to make sure I had a shirt. And it was just me and a few freelancers, like working on WordPress sites at this company. And nobody knew who we are and I was just there.

Hey being nice, helping out. I think I gave a talk that day that was like, please don’t go and look up that talk anybody. Like it was like, everyone’s first talk. You don’t ever want anybody else to see it a few years later. But I, that what you said, I think was important about what the first time you’re there.

It’s no one really knows who you are. They just know you’re just respectful, friendly person who wants to help. And that’s how it’s always going to start. So I would urge people like that would be my shout out from this episode, the people like. Don’t feel bad if you’re new or if you don’t really know what’s going on, WordPress community is so friendly and welcoming, go volunteer and help with something it’s not going to be until your third, fourth, fifth time doing something that people start to even recognize who you are anyway.

So don’t even worry about that part yet. The biggest thing you can do is be helpful. Try to make the world a better place. And if you do that over a year, Hey, you can continue to break through and it’s honestly, especially easy right now because you don’t have to go and travel to camp or go travel. Like you can do everything from your computer. So there’s actually I think less of a requirements to be able to do that.

Joe Simpson: [00:29:46] For me, when I had my heart event I had to start over at zero and what it taught me was all the barriers that I put up before that event, they were just bullshit. Excuse my French. All of those things went away and you can achieve so much more when you have no fear or you really want to really give. And to me, giving unselfishly has been really, that’s been the basis of everything. I know. Like we had talked about earlier, I don’t really expect personal accolades from this kind of work.

I’m getting other benefits from. Benefits may not be really apparent to everyone else. And I think that pureness or that, that sense of purity is what resonates with folks that I work with. And to me, hopefully it’s inspiring because. We can really do a lot more if we really truly give. And I did have a question for you though.

Joe Howard: [00:30:37] Yeah. Go for it.

Joe Simpson: [00:30:39] I want us to spend it. I know. Like I said, you are my first, the first African-American male that I saw on stage and what was inspiring is to see how your company has changed and grown. And I’m a graphic designer, so I love your new brand. Can you tell me a little bit about it and I love the vibrant colors. And who did you work with on that? Wasn’t an internal designer. I’m sorry, I’m sidetracking this show, but I always, when I see things that are visually interesting, I want to know the backstory.

Joe Howard: [00:31:06] Yeah, for sure. For folks who listen to this podcast pretty frequently, we actually did a podcast episode. I think we did two podcast episodes about it, and we have a nice blog post up on the blog about it. So people can go check it out. I’m looking up right now just to see like what the URL is, because I can’t really remember exactly what it is, but yeah, it’s just, if you go to the. Blog and do a search.

It’s just like the new WP buffs has arrived and it tells this whole story. If people want to get into the weeds of things of all this stuff, but I’ll do a high level right now about it. Yeah. We got to the point where we just realized we needed a new website, a new branding. There were a lot of reasons for this we’d grown a lot.

In the past few years, we were a much different company than we were three years ago. We had new services like our white label program. Which we plugged into our old website, but like we wanted to, we needed to re UX everything to make it all make sense. We’d raised our prices also. So I think we needed like a more premium, professional feeling brands to match some of those pricing increases.

And yeah, we actually worked with a company to. They did the rebrand and the website redesign for us, a company is called dos media. I think their company is dosed on media. I’m just finding there, I’m finding that website now so that I can give them a shout out. Go stop media is a website. They’re awesome.

Honestly, the reason how I got hooked into them is Brad tuner. Who’s been on this podcast before he runs delicious brains, which is a company you may have heard, but he has a whole blog post about how he worked with them on his rebrand for all his plugin. So I. Got connected with them. And man, they were.

Awesome. Two guys who run a premium design shop. They did our new branding and they did design the new website for us. Yeah, and working with them was super easy. And then we did all the development in house made some design changes last minute, not last minute, but in the development process, just for.

It’s because things are always changing and yeah, launched. And I think launch pretty successfully. We had like our record sales months, the month we launched and the month after we launched. So those are our two highest grossing months are our two biggest sales months ever. Not our two biggest.

Revenue months ever, but our two biggest sales months ever. So it did well. And then we had a new floor of of sales activity, which has been good. We usually get like one to two sales a day. One to two new customers are white label partners right now. Hopefully that kind of answered your question. I think you just asked random general.

Joe Simpson: [00:33:28] Yeah, it’s very nice. Like I said, it definitely stands out, which is what you want your Mark to do. Yeah. Very nice.

Joe Howard: [00:33:36] Yeah. I like answering questions too. I’m on a lot of podcasts too, so I’m always interested in people asking me questions. But one thing I did want to finish up, we can start wrapping up now, but the thing I wanted to wrap on wrap up on was that you are planning a new work camp right now in the middle of COVID stuff, or you’re at least in the beginning and planning cycles of starting to plan for the third annual WordCamp Santa Clarita. And so just want to know how that was going. I assume you’re having a digital event. I know you’re having a digital event. So what does that look like in terms of planning and how’s the planning going? How’s it different than how it usually is?

Joe Simpson: [00:34:07] We’re in the very, very early stages. Now I think the WordPress WordCamp events are going to be more regional. So there’s discussion of whether, we’re going to combine multiple Southern California WordCamps into one event. So that’s the big holdup right now.

What we were hoping to do was maybe, there’s been a work camp for publishers or, work camps that have a specific goal in mind. Again, since we’ve been doing work a lot of accessibility this year, we’re thinking of a work camp for accessibility. So that’s a theme that we’re thinking about.

It’s great because now that this past eight months, I’ve targeted a number of folks that I think would do great in a virtual space. I know they’re looking at doing more workshop type events in the WordPress space. So that’s exciting too, because our word, our WordPress meetups are really focused at beginners in hands-on like most of the times.

I speaking at word camps, it’s on how tos and it’s aimed at beginners. So we’re looking at doing more workshops than in previous years. We’re looking at making sure that the word camp is accessible. I know at the beginning, I know word camp, San Antonio did it on a different platform and it wasn’t as accessible.

And there was a dust up in the community about it. And so from that point forward, they went with a different process that was more accessible, but we still have more work to do so in this. Time since that first event, I met people like a med or someone like Meryl in Austin, Texas, who are people that have a disability.

And they’d given us a lot of good input on how to make sure that the next event is going to be as accessible as possible. So I’m really excited about that. We have a lot of great leaders in our region. Sumner, Davenport is our. Guru on accessibility. So she’s been my organizing team here.

So I’m looking for her to take a bigger role in shaping it in terms of accessibility. So we’re excited about that. We’re hoping to do something different, but something even more accessible and inclusive for all people. So it ties back in message of this talk, which is more inclusion, more diversity. So we’re excited.

Joe Howard: [00:36:08] Yeah, very cool, man. The accessibility thing is it’s hard to get a hundred percent, we did the virtual summit WP MRR virtual summit earlier this year, and we were probably about 90%. There in terms of accessibility, but we had a few things that weren’t as accessible as they should have been. And we learned from them and we’ll fix them next year.

I know how there’s so much should do. There’s a lot of different aspects from captioning to making sure the actual WordPress site is accessible to making sure it’s accessible on different devices and browsers. Yeah. I’m sure you can probably use some of the learnings from some of those word camps in your word camps, right?

Oh, now you know what to focus on a little bit more in terms of. Some of the things that didn’t go perfectly in other word camps while you can, no, you can use those. Hopefully they did a write-up or something. We did a big post summit write up of the things we did, things we did wrong to that I believe is on the WP buffs blog as well. So you can go read that and other people can not make our mistakes too. So definitely give it a read.

Joe Simpson: [00:37:01] Awesome. Yeah. And we’ve been doing a lot of documentation too, and that’s part of giving back to the community. Like a lot of the folks on the work I was on the work camp, US team before it was canceled. And we were trying to implement a lot of the lessons learned from the earlier word camps. So now we have eight months worth of work camps and as we go into 2021, it’ll definitely help shape a more access.

Joe Howard: [00:37:21] Awesome. Very cool, man. Thanks again for hopping on. This has been. Super cool. It was really cool to connect with you. I don’t think we connected here before. And so it was really nice to finally do that. Tell folks a little bit about where they can find you online, social media, personal website, all that jazz.

Joe Simpson: [00:37:35] Oh, sure. My, my site is Joel Simpson, junior.info. You can find me anywhere on social media, just Joel Simpson, junior. So Twitter slash Joseph junior Facebook’s last show Simpson, junior, that kind of thing. So Joseph Jr is a place to find me. I’m on Instagram, all the different social media places, and I’m just starting a YouTube channel. I just purchased a much better camera. Hopefully you can see what we’ve been doing here. And so I’m producing more videos and producing content, hopefully to set up a self service or a business where people can pick up tutorials and things of that nature. So hopefully that’ll be coming out soon with the focus on accessibility and user experience.

Joe Howard: [00:38:12] Yes. Awesome. Very cool. We also recently started YouTube channel and we do a WP AMA there. So I’m not sure if you’ve done it already, but if not, we’ll cook you up with Allie and she’ll have you on to do it and ask me anything session, because that would be cool to have you on there as well.

Joe Simpson: [00:38:25] Awesome. Thanks so much, Joe.

Joe Howard: [00:38:26] Yeah. Cool. All right, folks. If you are a new listener to the show you can. Give us a review. We love our five star reviews, at least something you learned about this episode. Hey, Joe taught us about, accessibility and how to do at word camp during COVID let us know so we can send Joe a screenshot and thank him. And it also helps us to know what new episodes we should do, what topics we should do.

Hey, if someone. It’s three, five people left reviews about Joe’s episode. We’ll have Joanne again, we’ll do more episodes. Exactly similar to Joe’s or parallel to Joe’s. So those reviews help us in topic selection as well. Also, if you’re a new listener go and binge mold episodes, we’ve got like 120. Are so old episodes of content, no matter what, your challenges building a business or trying to increase your monthly recurring revenue. I could say a million things right now, but any WordPress challenges you’re having, we’ve probably talked about it in the past. So go search for it on WP mrr.com/podcast, and see if there are any episodes for you right now.

If you have questions for us at the show Christie and I do like to do the occasional Q and a episode, shoot us a question or a collection of questions, yo@wpmrr.com and we will get them answered for you. That is all for this week. We will be in your podcast players again next Tuesday, Joe. Thanks again for being on man. It’s been real.

Joe Simpson: [00:39:41] Alright, Joe.

Podcast

E123 – How to Effectively Hire and Get Hired (Kyle Maurer, Sandhills Development)

In today’s episode, we look back into our conversation with Kyle Maurer, Director Of Operations at Sandhills Development. It’s the most listened to episode ever in the WPMRR Podcast. 

Joe, Christie, and Kyle discuss strategies in hiring right, how a good job listing is formatted, and how to make your applications stand out.

Tune in to learn how to hire and be hired successfully!

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 01:28 Welcome to the WPMRR Podcast!
  • 02:22 Let’s meet Kyle Maurer of Sandhills Podcast
  • 04:32 Give Get Options Podcast a listen!
  • 08:04 Hiring tactics to hire the right people
  • 11:54 How to get a more diverse pool of applicants
  • 16:15 What not to include in your job posting
  • 21:07 The impact of adding the compensation program
  • 24:29 Negotiations in salary discussions
  • 28:02 Advertise posting in several spaces to reach out to more diverse demographics
  • 33:20 How do diversity of new hires affect the team?
  • 36:25 There’s a shortage of applicants who go the extra mile
  • 42:30 Written and oral communication is important in a global setting
  • 44:56 How to create an outstanding application
  • 50:19 The biggest cheat: If you aren’t a stranger, you have an advantage
  • 53:10 Telling stories during interviews to sell yourself

Episode Resources

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: [00:00:00] Howdy folks, Joe Howard here it is the week after Thanksgiving here in the US I was supposed to record two episodes last week, actually, but one got postponed. The other actually couldn’t record because of the big AWS outage. So I was not able to record a new episode last week. So this week we’re calling a little audible.

We’re going to, re-release one of our previous episodes, but not just one of, actually our most listened to episode of all time. I thought folks would get a kick from either listening to it again. Or, you know, if you haven’t. Listened to it already listening to it for the first time. So we’re re releasing an older episode with Kyle Maurer.

It is all about how to effectively hire and get hired specifically in the WordPress space, but really in general, it’s got a lot of good information. So if you are potentially looking to get hired, there’s a lot of great advice in here from the people. Actually doing the hiring. And if you’re a small business looking to do some hiring, there’s a lot of great advice on men.

It’s in best practices, some strategies and tactics I’ve used at WP Buffs. Kyle’s used at Sandhills Development and yeah, hopefully it’ll be super helpful for you. All right. I’ll let you get on to the episode now. Happy December. Enjoy.
Hey good WordPress people. Welcome back to the WPMRR WordPress podcast. I’m Joe.

Christie Chirinos: [00:01:30] And I’m Christie.

Kyle Maurer: [00:01:31] And I’m your father’s brothers, nephews, cousins, former roommate, Lord Dark Helmet.

Christie Chirinos: [00:01:37] Off to a great start.

Joe Howard: [00:01:39] The only time I’ve ever broken up the intro to applaud. Wow. Amazing. And you’re listening to the WordPress business podcast. Lord dark comment on the pod this week. A big Spaceballs fan.

Kyle Maurer: [00:01:51] Happy to be here.

Joe Howard: [00:01:52] I haven’t seen Spaceballs in a long time. Is this a favorite of you and the fam years in the family?

Kyle Maurer: [00:01:56] It’s a favorite of teenage Kyle, I guess I was a teenager once. That was the most hilarious thing that was ever seen.

Joe Howard: [00:02:03] I remember the surrounded by assholes. That’s turning and bubbling it. Call this a radar screen. Yeah. They jammed the radar. Right? Transparency. There might not be the right flavor, but people have seen it. They know what I’m talking about. All right. We’ve got Laura dark coming on the pod this week, also known as Kyle Maurer. What’s up Kyle, you’re our first repeat guest in the podcast episode. People may know you already. And if anybody is in the WordPress space, they obviously know who you are, but tell folks what you do.

Kyle Maurer: [00:02:29] I work at a company called Sandhills development. Thank you for having me back on the show, Joe and Christie, I’m a loyal day one listener of this program and have learned a lot from you both. And I love everything that you do at WPMRR. And honestly, I would listen to you guys talk about, you know, just anything talk about the weather and I would probably tune in, cause I think that highly of you both in your expertise, but you’re talking about it WordPress business and earning recurring income.

And that’s important to me and important to the users of our products. At Sandhills Development, we make some WordPress plugins, e-commerce related stuff, mostly filet WP, easy digital downloads, restrict content pro. And so on. I run operations for the company. We’re a team of 26 people right now, and I’m in charge of making sure everybody essentially enjoys their work at this little software company and keeps working here. And it’s a lot of fun.

Christie Chirinos: [00:03:16] How are you 26 people now?

Kyle Maurer: [00:03:18] That’s right.

Christie Chirinos: [00:03:19] That’s a lot.

Kyle Maurer: [00:03:20] Yeah. Yeah.

Joe Howard: [00:03:22] I went on parental leave. I think you were 20, 27. Plus X and last, I don’t know, six to nine months. So that’s pretty cool.

Kyle Maurer: [00:03:30] Yeah, we did some hiring this year and I think that’s a fun topic to talk about.

Joe Howard: [00:03:34] Yes, agree. It’s funny. Cause we were talking before the show about what should we talk about today? And we kind of decided on hiring slash getting hired in the WordPress space during this time where. Well, there are some companies that are doing pretty well and continuing to hire. And then there may be some folks out there who are struggling a little bit.

Maybe people have lost business or like even lost their job. And so we also want to help folks who may be looking for new positions to be able to yeah, apply to new positions and hopefully be successful with that and what people can do to be more successful there, but appreciate the kind words, Kyle.

This is funny Christie like yeah. The only reason we have Kyle on the podcast is like to say how awesome we are and to get our spirits on me. Yes,

Christie Chirinos: [00:04:17] So we have Kyle, on the three-way interview podcast because he tells us both how amazing we are. And it’s just a little boost.

Kyle Maurer: [00:04:23] I could go on and on all day.

Christie Chirinos: [00:04:25] You’re amazing too, Kyle.

Kyle Maurer: [00:04:26] Oh gee shucks.

Joe Howard: [00:04:28] Kyle, before he even gets started, we got to tell people about your podcast a little bit as well. People are listeners to WPMRR podcast. They’re also going to love your podcast because, okay. Kyle already said he loves our pocket. We got to say, we love podcasts.

Kyle Maurer: [00:04:41] Don’t feel you don’t have to do this Joe.

Christie Chirinos: [00:04:44] I love it. I tell everyone about it.

Joe Howard: [00:04:46] Most fun one. It’s way more fun than this one.

Christie Chirinos: [00:04:49] So much fun.

Joe Howard: [00:04:50] I don’t want this to be self-promotional, but if people go back and listen to, I think it was episode 200, Kyle that I was on the get options podcast. Kyle did amazing. 100, 100, 400.

Kyle Maurer: [00:05:01] I don’t know.

Joe Howard: [00:05:04] He made up an amazing rap about me and it would be unbelievable. I need a copy of that crowd by the way, but we should go back and their show is so fun. And so people got to listen. So Kyle, what’s the podcast called?

Kyle Maurer: [00:05:14] The podcast you’re referring to is called Get Options. I do. I co-host it with a friend named Adam silver. We’ve been doing it for a couple of years and we try not to take it seriously. And we joke around and give sarcastic advice to people’s question. And it’s really just a bunch of silliness. Sometimes we play games. Sometimes we have guests like Joe has been on the show before. And a lot of other people who just like to provide sarcastic answers in response to serious WordPress related queries. I don’t know anything about whether it’s a popular show. I literally haven’t looked at any stats or reviews or anything in probably years, but it so far is still fun. So I keep doing it.

Christie Chirinos: [00:05:54] Can we do a get options episode with me? And it’s just bad advice from Christie Chirinos. I really want to do that.

Kyle Maurer: [00:06:06] Yeah. Okay. I’ll make it happen. Let’s do it. Let’s totally do it.

Joe Howard: [00:06:10] It’ll be upside down. World’s podcasts, do everything the opposite of this, and then you’ll be successful.

Christie Chirinos: [00:06:17] So funny.

Kyle Maurer: [00:06:18] I’ve never heard that advice before.

Christie Chirinos: [00:06:20] Oh my God. Let’s see. First time. Yeah. Get options is so fun. And for those of you who don’t know, we also did a co podcast event at our word camp us last year with Kyle and Adam. And it was super blast.

Kyle Maurer: [00:06:36] Oh yeah. That thing. Yeah. Yeah. That was fun.

Christie Chirinos: [00:06:39] It won’t happen because word camp us has gone completely virtual

Joe Howard: [00:06:44] we should do it anyway. Let’s do a virtual one. We should we’ll get everyone coffee or whatever, or tea, and then we’ll just have a little zoom room or something. I dunno.

Christie Chirinos: [00:06:51] It’s a really good idea.
Joe Howard: [00:06:54] I just decided here on the podcast. Okay, everyone, what’s your name? Yep. Create another slash page.

Christie Chirinos: [00:06:59] Now everyone knows how we plan our lives.

Joe Howard: [00:07:02] Yes. That’s the only reason we do. If we didn’t do the podcasts, we would never like move anything forward. We just have to recite everything in front of everybody so that we actually do it. That gives us the impetus to actually see it. Yeah. Productivity, hack, start a podcast. Tell everyone you do things. And then. They’ll yell at you if you don’t do it. Okay.
All right. Hiring, getting hired. Let’s start on the hiring side of things. This will be like a, like the first part will be more for employers. People running businesses or people looking to do hiring. We can talk about some of the things that we’ve found useful and maybe some of our strategies and things that we’ve executed that have been successful in hiring awesome people, hiring the right people for the right position. Maybe this is the right person for the wrong position, but then you found out.

That they needed to do something else. And they were still an awesome person and they shifted somewhere else. So I don’t know possible. There’s a lot to talk about here. So, Kyle leads the charge on operations over at Sandhills. Maybe you can start with some of the strategies you use or maybe tactics, whatever the difference are between those two things you do to hire.

Kyle Maurer: [00:08:08] I’m happy to share a recap of what we did this year, which I think we learned a lot of lessons from.

Joe Howard: [00:08:14] Yeah. I would love that because you went from 20 to 26 since the last time we talked and that’s you obviously had to do something right to get there. So let’s chat.

Kyle Maurer: [00:08:21] Sure. Here’s the short version of the story. A year ago, January of 2019, we were looking to hire, we opened up three positions, it’s a port position, a marketing position, and a developer position. We posted those on our sand Hills development, like corporate site. We shared that in like our email list. Sending out to all of our subscribers, tens of thousands of people. And we shared it on social media and not much beyond that.

Joe Howard: [00:08:49] So, and just a quick interlude had an audience already had an email list that you’ve been building for years. Totally. Now you can release this information for your folks.

Kyle Maurer: [00:08:59] List for each of our actual, like each of our product brands. So the santals development brand didn’t have any audiences of its own, but we’re sending it out to Easy digital downloads and a fleet WP, your subscribers and so on. This was January of 2019. We got over the course of six weeks for those three positions, a grand total of 58 applicants. And that was. Okay. It was enough for us. We build, I think we hired and we ended up hiring like six different people over the course of 2019. And we hired six in 2018 and six in 2017.

That’s been our trend for a few years. And all of those were people who did. That other one where people who applied during that round of soliciting applications. So 58 in total, and a lot of them were like familiar names and contacts in the industry and all things considered it is reasonably successful.

Joe Howard: [00:09:51] So, yeah. And just to touch on that even a little more, some people maybe you didn’t know they were new applications, people you were meeting for the first time and their application, but some folks maybe were folks, one either you already knew about in the WordPress space or two, maybe just someone who, yeah, maybe you didn’t know specifically, but it was like a name that was floated out that you’ve seen before in the WordPress space. So not totally new to you. So something someone has obviously done some sort of had some sort of visibility in the WordPress space that you saw before they were introduced to an application, which I think is probably important too.

Kyle Maurer: [00:10:23] Totally. Yeah. That application round went okay. But we wanted to do better. And in particular, like one of our key goals was to get a more diverse pool of applicants to begin because that application pool had people who were qualified for the positions. There’s no doubt about that. And we hired people that are still with us and we’re happy with the end result for the most part, but we wanted to improve.

Things in a number of different ways in the company. And one of those is we wanted to improve the diversity of the team, and that starts with having a more diverse applicant pool. And we also wanted, that was multifaceted. Of course, we wanted to bring people in with different backgrounds and perspectives and.
Different people in a lot of different ways. We looked at our pool and it, when it was far too homogenous for our goals people are all the same. They’re just people like us from our little WordPress bubble you know, our age, our location, our demographic and so.

Joe Howard: [00:11:23] Yeah, it’s a challenge a lot of WordPress businesses face, especially when you’re like getting applications from like your email list of people who you already know in the WordPress space or just in this WordPress bubble, as diverse as the WordPress space is pretty diverse compared to other tech bubbles.

Maybe it’s still you know, I’m sure 75% of the applications you got. Maybe white male there’s that demographic is pretty significant in the WordPress United States. Yeah. US-based so, yeah, a challenge. Everybody faces, including WP buffs worked, having a push towards that as well. So I’d love to hear more about yeah maybe some strategies you use to get a more diverse pool of people, because that sometimes requires like recruitment or like just a different strategy. So yeah. How’d you go about that?

Kyle Maurer: [00:12:04] Well, we acknowledged when we knew the hiring round was coming up, that we wanted to do things a little better, a little differently in 2020, that’s the result that we had in 2019 January, we did a few things over the course of 2020 for one, we redesigned the Santos website.
It was super plain and vanilla before, like just thrown together as like a splash page that had links to our main brands, just plain black text on a white background, minimally styled, super, super simple. And Sean, a member of our team is an expert designer, threw something really nice together over the course of like maybe the summer of 2020 looks grand.

We’re really proud of it. It tells the story of the company highlights. Everybody on the team tells about all of the unique projects that we do beyond just the WordPress plugins we’re known for and so on. And that really made a big difference. I mean, it’s look I think a more legitimate software company that serious people will be happy to apply for, even if they haven’t heard of us.

Joe Howard: [00:13:00] As someone who’s just gone through a rebrand. I totally resonate with that. And I agree. See the site and I’m like, this also was fine, but this one I’m like, I would totally apply to this company. This looks awesome. So I dig it.

Christie Chirinos: [00:13:12] I could really see that helping even within the community too, because I think that there’s people who are very involved with word press, but they know the names of your products, not the names of your company. Right. They don’t understand Hills. They know, I feel like WP, they know easy digital downloads.

Kyle Maurer: [00:13:26] Well, that was one of the things that we did. Another thing as I transitioned from a previous role where I was more marketing focused to operations in the summer. And as a part of that, I took on the responsibility of owning DNI and training and hiring and recruitment and team development and all that kind of stuff.

Everything from team diversity and inclusion. Right. So I took that under my scope of responsibility. Formerly there wasn’t anyone officially like being responsible for those things, but we all were kind of on the same page wanting them, but nobody was like actively responsible for them. So I took that over and said this is now my responsibility to improve our, the diversity of our team, the inclusiveness here at our team, and to grow the team in alignment with our long-term strategies and.

So I spent a lot of time looking at how we put things together on our corporate site and which positions we really want to fill to align with those strategies that we have for the future. And along with some colleagues, we put together some job posts for January of 2020. This is exactly one year later.
Similar situation. This time we posted. Two open positions. They were slightly different of junior developer position, which we never hired before, as opposed to a senior developer that we hired for last year. And then another support position very much the same as last year, the differences were, we had a newly designed website.

We spent a lot more time working on the actual job postings to provide a lot more detailed than before. It was really just a couple of paragraphs and outlined like a bulleted list of these are your duties and these are the qualifications we’re looking for before now. Lengthy described, like what your typical day might look like working here at sand Hills.

What emphasizing a lot of the good qualities putting making the appealing aspects of the position, highlighted first, pushing some of the barriers to the bottom of the post, like the things that we really need or that are important to us. And I’ll also like I spend a lot of time researching language and the effects that.

The language you use in these job postings can have on different demographics and their willingness to apply for a position. There’s a lot when we’re writing these that we don’t realize we’re writing something that may be. Would resonate with us or that we personally would connect with, but a lot of phrasing can dramatically affect way a message is received by a potential applicant and how excited they would be to submit their information. So I spent a lot of time researching that and rewrote a lot of our job posts in order to and make the language more appealing to a more diverse group and to be more welcoming and inviting.

Christie Chirinos: [00:16:06] What were some of the key takeaways from that research like top three phrases that you should not include in your job listing? I’m super curious.

Kyle Maurer: [00:16:16] Something that I would recommend doing a little research on if you have if you have job post writing in your future and on the spot, it might be tough for me to think of a good example of this. I’ve read some recaps that other companies like this have put together and some studies that have been done, there are some studies that people and companies have conducted where they experiment with like different phrasing and and mostly the evidence that I’ve been able to find.

Is pertaining to the difference in applications for men and women. Now it’s been like several months since I was actually doing that. So I’m trying to think on the spot, think of really good examples, but men and women do connect with different, like types of languages, as a there’s evidence that suggests that you know, I’m not thinking of a good example here. I would have to pull up our job posts. I don’t have to pull up our Dropbox.

Joe Howard: [00:17:07] No worries. I might think that when I’m writing job posts, I try to be. Inclusive by not using like he or she. Language maybe. Yeah. And that’s a whole area. People can Google and find like how to write inclusive job posts.

Because someone who like, as an example is like in the LGBT Q community, when they read a job post, those kinds of folks really realize when you’re using inclusive language, because they’re so, you know, they’re very aware for it to it. And. I think they’d be more likely to apply if you use LGBTQ friendly language, as opposed to he, who we want for this position is X, Y, and Z. Obviously you want to be pretty inclusive.

Kyle Maurer: [00:17:49] So that’s got to watch out for that sort of thing.

Joe Howard: [00:17:51] Yeah. That’s like a pretty basic example, but yeah, one night we try to definitely be aware of so.

Kyle Maurer: [00:17:56] I think they’re one of the things that we see that has seen in like a lot of job posts is language describing like the ideal candidate that gets a little bit that uses a lot of Strong descriptions that really connect with super ambitious driven people, using things like describing someone who has a go getter or a Ninja or a superstar at such-and-such. And that’s the kind of person that we’re looking for. And he’s saying.

Joe Howard: [00:18:23] We need a SEL.

Christie Chirinos: [00:18:25] Ooh. I would find that really annoying.

Joe Howard: [00:18:30] There you go.

Christie Chirinos: [00:18:31] That’s it. That’s interesting. I would, yeah, totally not apply for a job that was like, be a Jedi at this. I would immediately be like, I don’t have a problem with Jerry’s you know, but something about that, that felt weird in my stomach. Okay. This boy, nerd star Wars, culture, sweet. And I love star Wars, but it would be weird in the job listing. Ah, okay. Thing.

Joe Howard: [00:18:56] I totally get you.

Kyle Maurer: [00:18:57] So I think it is a lot of that, like adjusting your description of what you’re looking for. Just to be more inviting and make it anybody reading. It feels like I, that could be me. It doesn’t, it’s not conjuring a very specific picture in my mind of what, of a certain type of person. That may or may not be me. So watching out for that is really important. And there are really good articles that I’d be happy to share that I read where they describe at length, like a lot of key examples and the results from their studies and tests about how using some of them affected the willingness of certain demographics to actually apply.

Joe Howard: [00:19:36] Yeah. Totally. One other thing you could also do Kyle and it’s if you have a few people on your team and your team already has some level of diversity, he just got a few people to read it on your team, maybe from different backgrounds and say well, what do you think about this? And maybe have a really open conversation about posting. Would you apply for this? Which is there anything that’s stopping you? I bet you’d get some yeah, I guess I could do that. And maybe it would get some blood. I bet you would get some really juicy like stuff from that, that you wouldn’t even have expected.

And the, just the one other thing you mentioned before you mentioned putting like the positives of the blog posts or excuse me, the positives of the position in the job description about like how awesome it is to work at Sandhills. I think that you want to like on some hands, like vet the kind of people who are coming in to make sure that they’re like, somewhat, like they’re going to be a good fit for the position, but like selling the job post is or selling the job position is also like really important.

Like giving people all the benefits and getting people excited to apply. That’ll get you more applicants and hopefully like more applicants from more diverse pool as well. Yeah, I think that’s probably a good idea as well.

Kyle Maurer: [00:20:35] Exactly. What, another thing that we did on the post, very small, just like one line on the page that had a lot on it. We showed the salary. We showed the starting salary down to the penny.

Christie Chirinos: [00:20:45] That was going to be my next question to you. Yeah.

Joe Howard: [00:20:49] Let’s talk about that. Did you have a cause having a specific salary off the bat is not something everyone does because I know your team’s remote. Kyle people are from different places. They have different costs of living these different places, but you just said, I forget about all that, or maybe not forget about it, but you said that’s not going to affect the salary of this position. This is the salary of this position, regardless of some of those things, I guess you have the mentality of the people who are applying, know what the salary is. So I guess how that worked for you.

Kyle Maurer: [00:21:18] Two questions like the impact that it had on the hiring process, I think was significant. So that’s one, we can continue that in a moment, but sidestepping a little bit, the question of salaries that also fell under my responsibility when it took over the role of operation. And one of the first things I decided to do was change how we handle compensation at the company, because I have strong opinions about how that should be done and wanted us to implement a structured, consistent, fair system. That is data-driven. That is fair for everyone that is easy to understand.

Absolutely consistent. And works well for now and for in the future. And that was a lot of work. And I had to learn a lot in that process. I’ve never developed a compensation strategy before, but I spent some months on it and we worked pretty hard together. Shoes. The specifics that are right for our organization, but ended up developing something where we have now a structured data driven system, which determines the salary levels for all the roles in our companies.
And now it is, we are moving entirely away from. Negotiation being a factor at all and the determination of one’s compensation. And there’s a lot of reasons, I think why this is important, but I think it’s the right. Ultimately I think it’s the right thing to do to move away from personally. I don’t believe that negotiation should be a factor in determining how much one makes I don’t think that’s right and we’re moving away from that.

And now we have a pretty consistent. System that works for everyone that determines based on the level that you are, what your salary is going to be for the role that you have using that we were able to figure out exactly what the starting salary should be for these roles we were advertising and just share that. So everyone knows what you’re going to be making initially.

Joe Howard: [00:23:21] Yeah, I think just the two pieces that jump out to me about that are the one I think it would definitely help. Hiring more diverse. Workforce because different folks may negotiate different ways. You know, as someone who’s loves talking with people and loves doing that kind of negotiation may get themselves a higher salary, but just as good worker, who’s more sticks to themselves, make it a lower one.

And I don’t know if that’s fair. So I totally agree with you there. Kyle, the other thing is that obviously helps pay discrepancy between men and women because. You know, that’s, if everyone has standardized salaries, then if everyone in the world, if every company in the world had standardized sets, standardized salaries, there would be no pay gap.

Christie Chirinos: [00:24:00] So there’s an amount of research surrounding how negotiation in salary discussions drives, pay disparities. Because there’s a lot of cultural and social aspects that feed into someone’s willingness to negotiate and somebodies even familiarity with negotiation. Right. And obviously that is the sort of thing that more negatively affects women and people of color.

And I took a class on negotiation because I knew that it was a weak spot of mine and I wanted. To know how to negotiate, like the best of them, you know, the richest, most confident. Yeah. I serve the world kind of dude, you know, and yeah. Taking that out of it does take out all of those cultural and social and economic forces at work that would then translate into weird salary gaps.

Kyle Maurer: [00:25:07] Yeah. That’s awesome. That’s interesting that you did, that is one of those kind of life hack skills, you know, that prosper in the future. They, you know, there’s one of those skills you can learn JavaScript or something like that. That’s growing, that’s an in demand skill, but really. Learn to negotiate is gonna dramatically affect every path that you take and the way that you’re compensated in every case.

And that’s one of the reasons that I got into like public speaking early in my career, it was because I just looked and observed how the people who were willing to stand up in front of everyone else and talk and just open their mouth and share their ideas. And those are the people who got somewhere.
Yeah. They got the opportunities. They got the spotlight on them and they got the cool chances. Wasn’t particularly interested in editing. I didn’t care about it, but I said if that’s the fast track to getting somewhere, well, I guess we’ll just learn to do that. I’ll get comfortable with that. And it’s been really rewarding.

Getting comfortable in front of a crowd is another like advantage if you will, but negotiation as well. But the thing is, it’s not a skill that. Is necessary for every job. That’s some might argue with that a little bit, but I don’t think that the skillset you need to negotiate in that context is.

Particularly useful for someone just answering support, tickets, writing code, or designing graphics. It’s a different skillset and how, why it should affect how much money you make is lost on me. But it does, but not here. I wanted to do away with that.

Christie Chirinos: [00:26:29] I love that.

Joe Howard: [00:26:30] You could argue that hiring someone for a position that doesn’t require that skill set of negotiation and requiring them to do that in negotiation, as part of bringing them onto your team might cause you to bring on someone who’s not.

As good doing the things that’s important for that position. So I think that’s, I don’t know if that’s true. I think that’s an argument one could make, so you may actually get someone who’s not as good of a fit for the position because you required negotiation, which may have pushed out some candidates who are actually a better position for that. They just didn’t have that negotiation like part of their skillset. So sure. I get that.

Kyle Maurer: [00:27:04] Yeah. Yeah. There’s that? Well, anyway, so we made a comp strategy and that was how we generated the number. And we decided to be transparent about sharing that on the job post. So it’s another one of the things that I’ve listed here.

You know, we redesigned the website, we wrote much lengthier job posts. We, it, we went combed over them to have the most appealing, inviting inclusive language that. We thought we could, and maybe we could do better. This is our first time, like really getting serious about that. We were transparent about the salary.

And the last thing we did is we actually advertised the posting in a couple places. So we paid a couple of hundred bucks here and there on a couple remote women in tech job boards to try and specifically get our posting in front of demographics, which we’re not. Applying in the past, our applicant pool was not diverse before. So we said we have to get these postings in front of people who are not seeing it.

Joe Howard: [00:27:53] Now we’re talking about really actively like getting in front of more diverse people. Do you happen to remember the names of some of those job posts?

Kyle Maurer: [00:28:00] One was like women in tech and another was remote woman. I’m pretty sure those were the two. We weren’t super aggressive on it. I think I just paid for the two. Then the application started pouring in. So in 2019, like I said, we had the post open for six weeks and we got 58 applicants in 2020. And over the course of four weeks for two positions, not three, we got 770 applications.

Joe Howard: [00:28:24] That’s more, applications in the first time.

Kyle Maurer: [00:28:28] Quite a bit more. That’s quite a bit, a lot more than we expected. I was hoping to like double or triple

Christie Chirinos: [00:28:33] How did you go through all of those?

Kyle Maurer: [00:28:35] It was a lot of work. Christy. Let me tell ya. That was a lot.

Christie Chirinos: [00:28:38] When you look at every single one,

Kyle Maurer: [00:28:39] You bet we did. You bet we did.

Joe Howard: [00:28:43] So this is also an example of you wanted to recruit a more diverse, have more diverse candidate pool by attempting to do that and putting measures in place to do that. You what? 700 times the application. So it’s all the work you put in had an enormous positive effect on the quality of candor you get at the end. So that’s awesome.

Kyle Maurer: [00:29:03] It did. And that was great. So this was like, awesome. We did it. And then it was like, Oh, man. You’ve got a lot of work to do. Oh man. I really thought that we would like double or triple our applicant pool, but to go from roughly 60 to, well, over 700 was a dramatic increase in a lot of work suddenly. So I dropped everything I was doing for the next month, basically to work on this, we ended up interviewing 134 people, which is 1700. Yeah. I interviewed over a hundred myself, passed those tickets along that I wanted to advance to my colleagues. And we did three rounds of interviews for each of these.

Joe Howard: [00:29:50] And are you using like hiring software or just is it kind of manual at this point? You’re laughing.

Kyle Maurer: [00:29:56] I mean, it was, yeah, it was a little manual.
Yeah, totally. You remember, like last year the applicant pool was so small though. I felt like we don’t need anything for that.

Joe Howard: [00:30:03] Totally. You didn’t think you would get 700 applicants. You would have 700.

Kyle Maurer: [00:30:07] We had to turn that form off. And we wished we would have sooner, but you know, it was great. I had a little Zapier set up a little workflow that made. The interview scheduling a lot easier where, you know, all the applications go into help scout and they would get assigned to me. And then I would just like. I would send like maybe a saved reply or tag something, or there’s a workflow that I would say this person needs an interview and then they would get the email invite to my Calendly link. And then that would schedule the interview Uber calendar. Right.

Joe Howard: [00:30:37] That’s why we do it because this is literally the exact same thing. We tags and triggers and say, send an email. Yeah.

Kyle Maurer: [00:30:43] Generates a zoom link for them. It depends. I had it automatically append a link to their application, to the Google calendar event.
So that I could just click on that when I was opening up the app interview link and it would also send a note to append a note to the help scout ticket that said, like interview scheduled at this time. So it was all kind of like interconnected and automatic. So when the time come came and over two weeks, like I had back-to-back 20 minute interviews all day everyday interviewed like 110 people or so myself and all I had to do was just like click on the Google calendar event, open up the zoom link and open up the conversation with a couple of clicks.
So it was pretty efficient. And it was grueling very tough couple of weeks, but it was great. It was really great. I got to meet so many amazing people. It was really rewarding. And and we learned a lot, there were a lot of observations that I made during the process, but in terms of the size of the applicant pool, like the first improvement that we have for the future is to somehow split the difference between 2019 and 2020.

And find something a little bit in between. And I think our goal in the future is going to be, to maybe require a little bit more information from our applicants upfront so we could do a better job of screening them. Pre-interview cause we asked the minimum questions we really wanted just, we simply wanted more applicants.

Let’s get more people let’s make it easier to apply. Let’s make it more inviting for anybody, regardless of whether you think you’re qualified or not. So we did that to a fault and got a lot of applicants.

Joe Howard: [00:32:09] That this is how it works a lot of places you don’t get as many. And you’re like, well, let’s try the other side of the, you know, of the, of everything. And then you get too many. I mean, right now, I guess, you know, it’s harder to get into Sandhills and it does get into Harvard or Yale. So two out of 700 plus. Yeah.

Christie Chirinos: [00:32:25] It’s a really small percentage rate. That’s what I was thinking. I was like, okay.

Joe Howard: [00:32:30] Yeah. But you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a high quality candidate. I think it’d be pretty hard to not get someone awesome out of 700 people who apply. So sounds like Kyle and you hired, you’ve hired six people over the last little while. How was, how did this like. How did this affect the diversity of the people who ended up hiring?

Kyle Maurer: [00:32:45] It’s good. Yeah. And that is something that we are, you know, never done with for sure. But we did hire a couple developers who are women and we had a lot of really great applicants. So now I was quite delighted to find once we got through a round of interviewing that our finalists and for both of the positions were very diverse. I was really pleased. By that. And we had great discussions internally about what we want this team to look like over time and the characteristics employees that are important to us and had really healthy debates about it.

And I’m really happy with that. The people that we ended up hiring that they’re not people that I expected from the first round, but they were like all men, all kinds of great people.

Joe Howard: [00:33:28] That’s I think I just want to touch on that for a second. Cause that is. That’s a really important thing that I think you just said, it’s like from the first round you bring in a lot, you know, a good amount of people, like you said, you interviewed a hundred people.

You’ll never know who the like great high impact candidates are going to be. Unless sometimes you give them a chance. Like we, one of our best developers, honey, Lou, like she is phenomenal. She’s amazing. And she was not the strongest at like application that we got when we hired her. But I remember being like, well, she’s, you know, really nice and she has good qualifications, so let’s like, try it out. And she’s arguably our best developer at this point. So I think that that’s a really important thing you just said, and I want you to like that. Right.

Kyle Maurer: [00:34:08] There’s so many interesting things that we learned about ourselves, those of us involved in the hiring process. And I want to kind of maybe factors that I want to neutralize or minimize like our own personal biases and preferences, which really can leak in.

Into the decision making process. We run through this like series of interviews and at each stage we’re kind of more or less ranking the candidates based on how they performed at this state and who we think is the best fit and so on. And that is a process which I think needs a little bit the improvement.

Like it was helpful and easy to follow, but imperfect. Yeah. And I definitely, it was like after the fact as I’m assessing, like how I ranked people, I’m noticing a lot of things, a lot of trends, like certain characteristics, which I ended up like kind of rewarding and not recognizing at the time and characteristics, which like I was essentially punishing candidates for, but not really conscious of when I’ve really thought about it. And that is. That is something that I want to personally improve upon.

Joe Howard: [00:35:07] Totally, you’ve mentioned a help scout earlier that you’ve seen applications come in to help scout. We I’ve had Leah nobler on the podcast before she’s from hopscotch. She is I don’t know if she’s head of HR there, but she’s part of the HR team and they talk, she talks, I mean, they have a team, probably like a hundred plus now at this point, I think when I talked to her, I was like 90, but yeah, she’s great.

And they have, they’re very big on this. Like how do we remove biases from our hiring process? How do you hire diverse? People to our team and all that stuff. So you’re echoing a lot of the stuff she said. So I think you’re on the right track. Can we talk a little bit about the, as someone who hires like an, I do have some hiring too.

A lot of the stuff I just learned a ton from what you said I’m going to, and this is something we’re thinking about a lot about what this looks like in the rest of this year. We want to make some big changes, but yeah, there are folks out there who are like, again, may have lost jobs and this time, or or maybe just looking for new opportunities.

Yeah, totally. As someone who’s like done a lot of hiring Kyle, like what positives stuck out for you? I know we talked, just talk about biases and stuff, but just for you personally, what are the things that stuck out really positively for you when you saw applications were like in the initial hiring pieces? So like a place to get people like people’s foot in the door and then what things were.

Kyle Maurer: [00:36:18] Oh man, Joe, you’re getting me started. We’re not gonna have time to cover everything that I’ve gotten for you. Coincidentally, I actually, some many jobs ago. I taught at a college, some career development classes a while, a couple of years, semester after semester of all about training, how to write effective resumes and how to interview really well and how to get jobs and advance your career.

And I really. You got into that for a couple of years and develop a set of curriculum that I thought was really effective. Some spiels that worked well for students and it’s remained a topic that I’m very passionate about. The reality is if I’m being honest, everybody’s stuck.

Joe Howard: [00:36:58] Thank you. Yes, everybody applying.

Kyle Maurer: [00:37:04] Yeah. It’s trash. The whole system is trash everywhere. All the applicants, like just don’t know what they’re doing and do a terrible job. And everybody hiring pretty much out there it’s also kind of doing a trash job. It’s just like the whole system is just garbage.

Christie Chirinos: [00:37:20] That’s the biggest thing I’ve told people who are looking for jobs and are looking for advice. I’m like, you don’t understand what it’s like to be on the other side of the hiring table. And we’re looking at a mountain of garbage. It’s so hard to find good people. And it’s actually a problem.

Joe Howard: [00:37:41] Totally way, like when we get applications in for positions, we get a ton of applications. Like we drive a lot of traffic to WPBS and a lot of people who are developers, so they’ll apply for a job. And like the list in teamwork desk, the same as fly with you have Scouts, like so many applications. Like I have to go through all these, this is crazy. So this is a good opportunity to maybe say yeah, How can people make their applications unique and how can people stand out from the crowd? Because I think that’s the first step towards if you’re applying for a job, like, how do you say I’m awesome. And you should like, look, yeah. Okay.

Kyle Maurer: [00:38:13] Oh man. Yeah. You’re getting me fired up, Joe. There are a lot of ways to stand out and if you try, like you’re going to be. One of the few that does, there’s not a shortage of good people out there, but there is tremendous shortage of people who.

Go the extra mile and stand out and do more than the minimum. 90, 95% of the applicants do the minimum. They provide their resume. They provide good information about their background. They provide a basic explanation of why they want the job. And in our application form, they provide links to relevant material and maybe they read through our website and become.

Minimally familiar with what we do. That’s the minimum and 90% or more of the people that we see do that. And that’s it. And there’s like a 5% of people who do less than that. And like hop on an interview with me and don’t know the first thing about what we do. And didn’t even look at our homepage obviously and do below the minimum.

But there’s a 5% group also that does above that. And it’s not actually that hard. I’m not talking about like a tremendous amount of work or huge time investment, but there are people who kind of go above and beyond. And so some of the things that I’ve seen, which I really like the kinds of above and beyond efforts.
Are getting really relevant. I’ve had some people make pages on their website dedicated to this particular employer too. I’ve had that too. And it’s always awesome. Or even a whole site dedicated. Yeah. This is really, it’s rare. It’s rare. Like one round of hiring, we might see at once where somebody has like my portfolio website.com/sandhills.

And that whole page is like dedicated to everything that we should know or have had some people make. Custom built for us with like them speaking and saying I really like the opportunity. I know a lot about you. I’ve done my homework. I think I’m a good fit. Here’s the skills that I have, which I think you need the ideas that I have, which I think would make a difference here. I had a company, the background, which.

Joe Howard: [00:40:18] I think is relevant to like, just go like in the video, like I’ve had that too. And it’s always thank you for stepping out from the field. Like it’s pretty cool.

Christie Chirinos: [00:40:27] Wow. Am I asked to grow because I’ve never done that application, but when I got those, honestly, yeah, honestly, that’s exactly it though. It’s like my experience with hiring has been that. It’s shocking. The number of applications you get that aren’t personalized that have grammatical and spelling errors that, yeah. And when you’re looking at a pile of 770 applications, it’s okay, you know, if you can’t bother to spell. The name of the company correctly then, right?

Joe Howard: [00:41:03] How are you going to bother to put your heart and soul into this company when you work here? Not going to happen? Yeah.

Christie Chirinos: [00:41:07] But then for people who are seeking for jobs, it’s this sort of reminder that, let me tell you what it looks like on the other side of the table, half these applications are spelled incorrectly. If you can spell. And include two sentences about why you want this particular role. You’re already above 60% of the competition.

Joe Howard: [00:41:31] Yeah. Grammatical things I think is huge Christie, it’s a small thing, but yeah. I mean, it depends on the role kind of, but like everybody has to be able to write well and communicate well, especially in a remote team. So there’s no room for Obviously, if he’s built a company named wrong, like it’s probably not a good indicator, but like even just like putting good sentence structure together. And I, this is also part of people have English as a second language and part of being inclusive. So it causes and talking about, it’s hard to find I don’t just want to like, delete those applications and weren’t worded, right?

Like I want to read a little bit more into them, but there’s also it has to have some sort of semblance of like strong English language. Not that I’m trying to like, not hire, you know, So there’s this funny middle ground you have to find, but I like. I have to be able to communicate with folks and Dave, you have to be able to take care of the rest of my team, or how are they going to be a strong team player on our specific team?

Christie Chirinos: [00:42:20] I mean, I believe strongly in judging people by what they’re going to be doing and educating ourselves on the cultural nuances and differences between the ways that different communities use the English language since it is sort of how our global business language can be really helpful. Right. I don’t write people off for insignificant things that don’t actually matter, like writing, sir, Madam, right?

That’s still taught in a lot of countries. I don’t write people off for things that I know to be simple cultural nuances, and somebody’s doing their best in their context. I do write people off if you spelled the name of the company wrong, because it shows a lack of attention to detail. Right.

Joe Howard: [00:42:58] We have another company in there that you copy and paste it.

Christie Chirinos: [00:43:00] So, you know, I look for attention to detail. I look for care, right? That one sentence that says, I think I would be a great fit here because you do this. And I do that. Bam already 60% above the competition. And I definitely look. More closely if your role is going to involve external written communication.

Right? So if we’re hiring for something that’s a little bit more inside, then, you know, the written communication, if we can communicate with you, that’s what I’m looking for. But if you’re going to be applying for something that requires you to talk to customers, I’m thinking about what the customers are going to expect. I mean, I think it’s super important. To be mindful of the way that communication is different and nuanced cross-culturally while also keeping business goals in mind.

Kyle Maurer: [00:43:57] If I were a job seeker right now, and I saw it, you know, which I’m not super happy, but if I were seeking a job right now and there an opportunity that I really want, I feel like I could get it.

I feel really confident that I could get it if I wanted it. It’s not really that hard, this isn’t rocket science. It doesn’t require a specific skill set that you just have to have requires like working harder than the other. Applicants and I would do that. So here’s what I would do if I were a job seeker right now, there’s like the bullet list of the minimum that I would do first, I would make a page or even a dedicated website for that employer.

But once identified a specific employer that I actually want to work for, maybe they’re hiring. Maybe they’re not. If I decide it’s I decided I wanted to work for a specific company. If I like, I want to work for the buffs, like I would just. Learn everything I can about their company, I would make a, my website.com/wp buffs would have a custom video on there where I tell Joe everything that I believe about me and about the bus and why we’re a perfect match made in heaven.

I would get videos of recommendation from other people, especially people that I think Joe knows, and I would have them sing my praises and share those videos on the page letters of recommendation, kind of a thing. But I would have somebody like, you know, I’d get whoever I could recommended tweets. Yeah. Joe is awesome. He’s in the best.

Christie Chirinos: [00:45:16] That’s awesome.

Kyle Maurer: [00:45:17] I’d put those on the page. Them saying Joe, you need to hire Kyle. I’ll get somebody to say that.

Christie Chirinos: [00:45:22] Will you guys make my video recommendations next time I’m looking for a job.

Kyle Maurer: [00:45:26] Yeah, absolutely. Christie for small fee totally. Whatever you want. I would memorize things like my dad always loves this story because once I was a young applicant and I was applying for a job at the library and I was just a teenager at the time, but I sat for a long time in the waiting room and they had library’s mission statement printed on the wall. And I just memorized it while I was sitting there.

And in the interview, everyone, it was a big panel, a lot of people. And they, somebody asked me the question what do you think is the purpose of the library and word for word verbatim? I just recited the mission statement. Like, it was coming to me off the cuff and everybody in the room was just like, Oh, that’s a good answer.

Joe Howard: [00:46:08] They’re like, wow. That is the mission. How do you feel like they did?

Kyle Maurer: [00:46:10] They didn’t know. Didn’t know, literally just recite it word for word. And I got the job. Yeah. That’s such a silly, but know who you’re talking to and know about them and their mission and speak to them in their language is like extremely powerful. So those are some of the things that I would do. I would also remember that. You don’t stop trying until you’re officially rejected. It’s not over when you have sent in the application, you’re still potentially a candidate and there’s still work that can be done. So I’d be checking in with the potential employer.

I would be sending updates about the things that I was learning, and I would make sure that at every stage where I’m interacting with the employer, I would be asking questions like, what can I do to get this job? What can I learn? What could I add? That would set me apart. Those kinds of questions.

Joe Howard: [00:46:58] I liked that piece about keeping the employer updated. If you’re sending in an application, sending an email, if you haven’t heard or, you know, there are people waiting on, you send an email like a month later saying Hey, I applied for this job. Here are like the three big things I’ve been working on this month. That actually, I think make me an even better candidate just want to keep you updated on my progress.

As an employer, I would love that. I think it would help someone to stick out for me, just not even I’m trying to get the job thing, but like kind of subtly yeah, you are trying to get the job in here. Why I’m here? The things I’ve been improving on to be even better for this position.

Kyle Maurer: [00:47:29] Our application process took a while. It took a month and a half before we were actually sending out job offers and we did have some candidates kind of updating us along the way on their journey. Some candidates like in the first interview asked me like, what. Do I have to do to get this job? I’m like, what do you want to see?

And I would give very honest answers, great answers about what I think is maybe lacking in their resume, what skills maybe they haven’t emphasized, what are the things that I would like to see more of? And they went and did that. They went and learned WordPress and installed the plugins that I recommended and played with them and learned about the code.

Concepts, which I saw were missing in their expertise and updated me on. I said, I’ve been studying this, I’ve been taking this course. I’ve been familiarizing myself with this code base. I’ve been learning, you know, this JavaScript library or whatever it is. And some of them, I even been blogging about it.

There were a lot of the junior developers were kind of doing a good job of documenting their process. I can read there. Journey on Twitter as they were like documenting everything that they have learned through like the boot camps and courses that they’ve taken. Many of them were blogging about the exercises that they run through and the skills that they’ve learned. And that was really helpful to watch them grow and see the efforts that they’re putting in to become the candidate that we want.

Joe Howard: [00:48:43] And as an employer, you know, this is the kind of. You know, action. You can expect if you were to hire this person, which is huge, like you hire people who are gonna be helpful for your business, we’re going to help, you know, fit into your culture and stuff obviously, but who we’re going to be like proactive, like contributing members to the team.

And if they’re just doing this, the application you know, that’s, it’s like the most, the biggest thing you can say to say is this person going to contribute? To our team is have they contributed to like other teams and other projects in the past. And they’re just like proving that in this application process, that’s cool.

Kyle Maurer: [00:49:11] The biggest cheat that I would probably try and pull off. And this was, I think like an unfair hack kind of like the fast track, the one that is it’s a cheat, it’s unfair because it’s kind of from the employer’s perspective, it’s not like perfectly fair. But it’s a real thing. The fact that if you are not a stranger, you have an advantage, a big advantage.

So I would not be a stranger. I would make sure that when my application actually went in, they knew me. They knew who I was a minimum, they recognized my name. But that is like the cheat. And it makes a big difference because the things that you guys all know as employers or former employers, is that.

Hiring an employee is taking a risk, is a big risk that you take and anything we can do to make it feel like this is less of a risk is a good thing to us. And so if we recognize someone, if we recognize their name, we see them. There’s some level of familiarity. We naturally feel like they’re less of a risk.

Joe Howard: [00:50:06] Totally. And I think I understand why you. We’ll categorize that as like a cheat or it’s just, it’s kind of a fast tracked way to get your application looked at. But I also think that, cause it doesn’t mean I’m a better candidate. Correct. But it also doesn’t mean that like we haven’t put effort and time into Cultivating our network in the WordPress space.

So it’s we’ve put it’s the result of time and effort we’ve put in over years to like, be part of the WordPress community. So while I do agree that it’s like, it may get you a little bit ahead in the application process and people can argue whether that’s fair or not fair. We’ve also put the time in to make it that.

So that’s the case. It’s kind of like making your own luck a little bit, but it does take time and resources on our end and years of time that we’ve put into the WordPress community to do that. So I just want to. Just throw that out there. It’s sure. I don’t know. I think an idea.

Kyle Maurer: [00:50:51] There’s a lot of ways to not be a stranger, you know, many companies have online communities, there’s forums, there’s Facebook groups, there’s social accounts.

You can engage them there. You can be first and foremost, a user of the product. That’s like a bare minimum. I was shocked. I was actually shocked at how few applicants. Had ever used or leak even took the minutes it takes to use any of our products because they’re free. You can for free use one of our products and just run through it and familiarize yourself with what it does.

Almost no one did that. And so when someone actually did if you were applying for a company that sells an app or ships, like some kind of a phone app, doesn’t it make sense that you would try and install it and like fiddle with it before you interviewed with the company? Makes sense. No one does that. Nobody does that.

Joe Howard: [00:51:36] Yep.

Kyle Maurer: [00:51:37] It seems like so obvious to me. So I’m familiarized myself. With the product actually use it, be a user of it and subscribe just whatever. And, you know, listen to Joe’s podcast. If I want it to be a buff, I could only if only I could only be so lucky, but maybe even review the products publicly.
And so on little things you can do. Yeah. I think I used to teach a lot was about telling stories in your interviews. And that is something that I think. Most of us, I’ll just say pretty much everybody could work on. I mean, maybe not Chris Lama, but most of us could could really work on our storytelling.

And it’s a means to practice this a lot in the classes that I taught because it’s one of the hardest things for people to do. Like storytelling in your interviews is just about the most powerful thing you can do to really to sell yourself and to paint a picture of what kind of a worker you are. And they resonate with, they mean a lot to people and we all suck at it. We’re just terrible. We’re just terrible storyteller.

Joe Howard: [00:52:34] Totally. I have three things I’ve written down here that I want to just touch on quickly because I feel like they’re important. I’m like itching to get them out. One is like being a power user could put you in a great position to be a.

New team member there. I know the team at BeaverBuilder hired Anthony, who is like their marketing guy and does a lot of the marketing and content stuff over there. He was just used to be a power user and he applied to a job there and they just knew him. And he was like, Oh, he loves Beaver builder and uses it a lot.

Yeah. Let’s hire that guy. So I think that’s like a, I think Kyle, what you said is totally perfect there. When people apply to WP bus, a lot of it, like I’d really like to see like personalized stuff. We have a question, all our applications, it’s like, what’s your favorite blog post on our. Website and the amount of people that are like, I haven’t read any blog posts.

That’s literally the answer is okay, I guess they don’t go. It’s like the opposite. I don’t know what else to do, you know? So yeah. But people who like have listened to the podcast even like a half an episode, Or like a minute of an episode, they have something to say about the podcast. That puts you in the, like probably the top 10% of applicants really like spending your time to research.

The company is huge. The last quick thing I’ll say is I think it’s job hunting is kind of counter intuitive in the idea that like, People think if they put out a hundred applications, it’s just like a numbers game and they’ll like, get a job. And that’s actually probably way more time consuming to get a job than applying to 10 companies and putting the time into those 10 applications that you would have put into a hundred applications.

And it’s counterintuitive. It really is because. I’m a numbers guy. Hey, throw a bunch out there and maybe one will come back. But that’s not what job seekers are looking for. Especially in this economy, they’re looking for someone who can contribute, who can do an awesome job for them even more so right now.

So I think that take. Two hours to apply to one job. Don’t think like I’m just going to throw in a whatever boiler plate resume and cover letter. And they’re going to look at it like that’s not 2020 job application anymore. So, so forget the counterintuitive things. I know it’s hard, but like job seekers.

Put the time into applying to these jobs because the time will be reflected in what people see. And especially from Kyle and I and Kristi as a former employer or someone who to hire, we know when the someone copy and paste it a thing. And we know when someone’s really put the time in. So I think that’s just a huge thing I’d want to, I want to out there, but I don’t know. Christie, any final thoughts on?

Christie Chirinos: [00:54:49] Yeah. When people ask me for advice on this, I always say the one thing though, That I think you should really remember is interviewing is a two way street. You’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you. Not only because that helps you be a happier, better, more productive human, but because it also makes you a better interviewer.

If you come in with the approach of, I’m just looking for a job, it’s okay, so is everybody else, like, why do you want to work here? Do you want to get paid obviously. Right. But also, you whereas I think that job seekers who come in with a curious and the careful mind and are thinking, I’m looking for the next place, that’s going to feel like home to me that comes across.

The interview process and their relationship and this mutual desire to build something cool. And that comes from empowering yourself to realize that if you shoot 100 applications out, you probably don’t want to work. 80% of those companies. Yeah. So just start spending the time, applying at the companies that you want to work on, that you can actually legitimately sit back and honestly be like, this would be really cool.

Kyle Maurer: [00:56:11] Yeah, for sure. Go deep. Not wide is a spear, not a net, whatever the analogy is, but focus on one, get one job. All my jobs are yours for the taking. You can get them. Any of you can get them. You just got to put in more effort than everybody else.

Joe Howard: [00:56:25] Totally. After listening to this episode, I mean, Kyle, you talked about five, 10 different things people can do to make their applications more unique and just to apply to things that prove your chances. And I think Christie, what you said at the end, there is just. Totally spot on. It’s don’t just try. I mean, obviously in this economy, it’s hard to, you know, everyone needs a job. Everyone needs to make a little money, but look for the jobs you’re really going to want to work at for the next 10 years, not just the ones that are going to be, I just need a stop gap with, and whenever possible, that’s going to help your application, you know, shine out because you are passionate about it and really want to do something that entails that job.

So cool. I think that’s a great spot to end for today. We had a nice extra long juicy episode today, so, and I learned a ton too. I know the good episodes cause I learned a ton just sitting here, listening to you. So let’s finish off Christie. You want to do a little, well, before you do the wrap up, Kyle, where can people find you and Sandhills and fancy new websites online?

Kyle Maurer: [00:57:17] That’s right. Yeah, man, this just flew by a ludicrous speed. Right? You can find us at Sandhills dev. Dot com. I encourage you to check us out, take a look at our products. Maybe it will be higher end soon. Who knows?

Joe Howard: [00:57:29] Cool. Oh yeah. Kyle, can you wait, hold on. Cause Kyle has asked people for iTunes review.

Kyle Maurer: [00:57:35] This show is like under appreciated. This is like one of the hidden gems. Right?

Joe Howard: [00:57:40] Mom loves it. Okay. She says, that’s a great show, Kyle.

Kyle Maurer: [00:57:45] I don’t know, but your mom could only leave one review.

Joe Howard: [00:57:47] She’s got a thousand fake accounts. She’s one of those Russian trolls. She just for us.

Kyle Maurer: [00:57:54] Well, folks, you guys got to review this show. They deserve it. Christie and Joe work hard to bring you great content that is going to help you succeed and grow your business and WordPress. They are an asset to you. They’re here to help you grow and prosper, and the least you can do is give them five stars on iTunes. That’s the absolute least you can do. So do it. Get to it right now.

Joe Howard: [00:58:16] Nice.

Christie Chirinos: [00:58:19] Send us your questions at yo@wpmrr.com.

Joe Howard: [00:58:25] Anything else they want to learn WordPress businesses. MRR, listen to some past episodes. We got almost a hundred episodes now coming up. So go back and listen to some old ones, Christy and I, and some guests have scraped combos in the past. That’s all for this week. What could be in your podcast players again next Tuesday, Kyle. Thanks again. Thanks again for being on. It’s been real.

Kyle Maurer: [00:58:42] My pleasure. You guys are awesome.

Joe Howard: [00:58:43] Woo.

Christie Chirinos: [00:58:44] Bye guys.

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