Blog Entries

Episode #23 – Paul Gibbs from BuddyPress and WordPress VIP

paul-gibbs

In Episode #23, I had the pleasure of speaking with Paul Gibbs from BuddyPress and WordPress VIP. Stay tuned to learn the systems that Paul has in place to make sure he doesn’t accidentally break WordPress along with how he deals with the Imposter Syndrome.

Watch the Video

Paul is generously giving away a physical copy and an electronic copy of the BuddyPress theme development book (which is brand new, by the way).

Show Highlights

Some highlights from this episode include:

  • the reason Paul is sporting a clean-shaven face
  • Paul’s strategies for getting a good night’s sleep
  • Paul’s strategies for not breaking WordPress
  • what exactly a “happiness gardner” does on a daily basis
  • how Paul is learning to embrace travelling (and why he kind of hates it)
  • the benefits of meeting people you collaborate with in-person
  • how Paul tackled a major learning curve and persevered when a brick wall was placed in his path
  • how to deal with Imposter Syndrome

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Paul Gibbs on Twitter.

Suggested Guest

Paul Gibbs suggested I interview Andrea Rennick of WordPress All-in-One Desk Reference and Copyblogger Media. Andrea, keep your eyes on your inbox.

Competition Hint

Hint: to enter the competition, leave a comment below and share your experience using BuddyPress. What’s the number one brick wall or road block that you’ve come accross that you wish was easier to implement?

Links

Full Transcript

Click to read

Announcer: This is the WP Elevation podcast. Helping WordPress consultants
‘Elevate’.

Troy: Good day. Troy Dean here from WP Elevation, and I’m very pleased to
have with me, all the way from the UK, Paul Gibbs from
BuddyPress and WordPress VIP. Good evening, Paul.

Paul: Good evening, Troy. How are you?

Troy: I’m very well. Thank you for joining us on the WP Elevation Podcast.
For those of you that don’t know, Paul and I actually did this
back in October 2012 on the original compress podcast, when it
was, and my computer died and I needed a hard drive replacement.
That interview never saw the light of day. Back then you had
quite a bit more facial hair, Paul Gibbs.

Paul: I’m a little bit more clean shaven these days.

Troy: Is that because you’re now working at WordPress VIP? Is that why?

Paul: It’s just a new start to the new year. Just smarten up a bit, both
life, both work, and my own time.

Troy: Yeah. Clean slate kind of thing. Awesome. Hey, before we get into
this, quick competition announcement. Paul is going to give away
an electronic copy and a physical copy of the BuddyPress theme
development book, which is brand new, so stick around for
details on how you can enter to win that.

All right. Paul Gibbs, when you were a kid, what did you want to
be when you grew up?

Paul: I wanted to be, for a very long time, like, through I guess you would
probably call it elementary school, I didn’t really know. Then
it was, like, “I want to build video games. I want to build 3D
video games.” If I’m ever able to do that it would still be a
really interesting side project, but yeah. I’ve always wanted to
build 3D video games. I remember playing Quake One when it came
out. It’s the third three dimensional video game, and it’s,
like, wow, you can jump and move and step and it works. I
thought, “It would be pretty cool to see if I can build these
things.”

Troy: Yeah. What is it you think? Most young people, teenagers, when
they’re into the video game thing, they get so immersed in the
actual gaming. Why did you look at it from an objective point of
view and go, “Wow, somebody is making this stuff. Wouldn’t it be
cool to go behind the curtains and learn how this stuff is
actually made?”

Paul: I think having kind of grown up and become a professional web
developer, I think it’s just the way my brain is wired in as
much as there’s this kind of, I see something, be it a special
effect in a film or on television, or a website, or graphics,
and I wonder how they did that. Of course, in web development
it’s pretty straightforward. You can right click View Source and
you can see how people have done the stuff. It’s harder to do
that in a video game.

Troy: It’s funny, isn’t it, when you discover View Source for the first
time? You kind of think there’s all this other stuff in the
world that you would love to be able to right click and View
Source.

Paul: Yeah, exactly. Web pages aren’t secret. Yeah. It’s all free.

Troy: Particularly relationships with other human beings. When you come out
of an interaction you think, “Oh, what happened then? What went
wrong then? I wish I could right click and view the source of
that and analyze it.”

Paul: Yeah. View to error console in a web browser.

Troy: Yeah.

Paul: See what went wrong.

Troy: Turn debug on. All right. When did you discover the web?

Paul: The web? It was a bit about 1995. I was friends with a rich kid in
[Sound], and he was probably the first [guy] in our group at the
store who had the internet. So I was around at his house. We
were checking out the cool websites. It’s like, “You’re who?
AltaVista, Excite, GeoCities.” I don’t think I ever used AOL in
its heyday and that kind of whole garden thing. I kind of missed
that. But there was all these things, and again, I thought,
“That’s pretty cool.” I just saw it and it as obviously, like
anywhere, heavily pushed, like, “You can send emails to each
other and replace faxes,” or whatever they were saying way back
when.

Yeah, we got it back a year later in about ’95, ’96, just before
I started what we call secondary school here.

Troy: Right. Do you remember the first time you saw the WordPress
dashboard?

Paul: No. It’s an interesting thing. I’ve thought about this before. I do
remember I fell into the group of folks online who had a shared
server so we can go and throw in code for websites and get
ourselves hacked eventually and rebuild things, and learn how to
do it properly and all the rest of it. We were using some kind
of forum software as the website, which kind of worked, but not
really. We need a CMS of some [description]. There was two of us
who knew enough HTML to write pages. It’s, like, “This is going
to take forever!” We want more people to write on our little
site of 20, 30 people or so.

I remember just in my spare time, because it was a pretty fun
thing to do, just, not knowing what CMS was, just come across,
like, Joomla! and Drupal and WordPress, as well as other, bigger
platforms. There was a self-hosted version of SourceForge. I
don’t know if it’s still available or not. That was a nightmare
to set up.

Just all these things. That kind set me up later on when I came
back into WordPress. I thought, “I vaguely remember playing with
this some long time ago.” It was a way in.

Troy: We’re going to talk about your involvement with BuddyPress in a
little minute, but it’s a common story I hear from people on
this podcast. They discover WordPress. It’s relatively easy to
get up and running in comparison to the other options. They then
start developing it for their own projects. They then start
maybe building it for clients, or they start building products
on top of it, and it sounds to me like you’ve had a very similar
trajectory, which we’ll talk about in a moment.

Before we recap your journey, just moving forward to today, you
are currently working at Automattic. You are part of the
WordPress VIP team and you are, if I’m not mistaken, still lead
developer on BuddyPress. Is that all correct?

Paul: You get eight marks out of ten for that. Pretty close. So, yeah, I’ve
been working at Automattic for about a year and a month or so
now. I am one of the lead developers at BuddyPress. It’s up to
five at us, I think, now. So, my first year at Automattic I was
working on the VIP team. That’s where we’re posting and kind of
project management and support for large businesses like New
York Post, New York Times, Metro UK and all sorts of different
outfits.

So that’s fun. At the turn of the year I decided to switch
teams. I’ve joined our team that we use to support, our
happiness engineers, our customer service people. So I’m a
happiness gardener, which is a good name. Happiness gardeners.
Exactly.

Troy: A happiness gardener? Wow.

Paul: Basically, if our happiness engineers find a bug in WordPress.com and
they need a developer to fix it, they might go and get a hold of
a gardener and [we'll] go and fix the issue, fix the bug, triage
things, and we also do a lot of work on internal tools to make
it easier for those guys to do support to everyone.

Troy: Wow.

Paul: And work on improvements they suggest.

So that’s pretty new. I’ve only been on the happiness garden
team for about two or three weeks. Yeah. So I need a new shirt.
This one still says VIP on it. But, yeah.

Troy: So when you meet people for the first time and they say, “Hey, Paul,
what do you do?” How do you sum that up in one or two sentences?
What’s the elevator pitch, so to speak?

Paul: Hopefully you know, depending maybe on where we meet a person, what
kind of background. If they are not particularly technology
background, it might be, “I work as a developer for a website
that helps to power 20 odd percent of the web.” If maybe they
know a little bit about WordPress, they may have heard of
Automattic, I say, “I work for Automattic as a developer, the
company who runs wordpress.com.” They may or may not know what
Automattic is, where the lines are. That’s a good way into the
conversation.

Troy: Gotcha. So what do you spend most of your time actually doing day to
day?

Paul: Just writing loads of code. In my work job it’s just, this year I’ve
been focused on building out, along with a team of three or four
other people, a subset of the happiness garden team, building a
new version of an internal tool we use to manage certain kinds
of support requests and tickets. Typical story. The existing
tool that we’re using had different types of support ticket and
service stuck into it. It’s a bit Frankenstein. The user
interface doesn’t work very well. The code works, but maybe it’s
a little bit slow in places. So we’re kind of rebuilding this
from the ground up.

I’m doing a lot of JavaScript development of backbone, which is
pretty new to me. It has been fun to work on the early versions
of a new tool, but also as a developer to really dive into a
language or a platform that I haven’t really gotten into before.

Troy: I read Year Without Pants recently from Scott Berkun. He mentions
these internal tools that you guys use at Automattic, and I’m
always curious, and this is totally off topic, by the way, but
how do you make a decision about whether or not you launch those
tools into the wild? I know you just released O2, which is kind
of a version of P2 that you’ve been using internally for a
while. How do you get to a point where you go, “You know what?
This is actually really useful. We should launch this and make
this publicly available.”

Paul: I think it really depends what purpose the tool had internally. A lot
of our self-built tools are for managing things, like, managing
our servers to monitoring our severs, to recording statistics,
to building, like, PhotoNotice, an image CD which we exposed to
the wider WordPress population through Jetpack. I mean, Photon,
that is on GitHub somewhere, I do believe. That’s open source.

So some of the things we do release maybe aren’t easily
installable because they are intended for server gurus, people
who run that stuff, and more and more off the bits. [The add-
ins] to Jetpack have been launched as kind of internal things
that we just wanted done, or experiments people have tried, and
they have worked for us. Jetpack is perhaps a good way of
getting the best of those tools out. And, of course, conversely
things like O2, which you mentioned. Yeah. It has been really
solid. We have been using it for, probably, internally seven or
eight months now. It’s in private alpha, or beta testing at the
minute. I think people can check it out at Geto2.com. There’s a
[made in] list for full details.

Yeah. That was really built as something. We promote use of P2s
and we may have seen WordPress presentations about how we
organize ourselves as a company, and we use P2. I mean, the
WordPress core project, the open source project, uses P2. O2 is
just really the next generation. Again, with technologies like
Backbone, maybe getting rid of some of the technical [data]
built up in some of the P2 code. If you’re a developer and
you’ve ever looked into some of the Javascript in P2, it was
getting a little bit hairy in parts.

So that was more something that was easily identifiable and
built from the start as something that is going to be open
source, and that was something. That was built form the ground
up with that in mind.

Troy: It’s interesting. We’ve been using P2 for a few months now here
internally, and we’re just taking O2 for a spin. So I’m going to
put a link to that under the video in the show notes. Geto2.com.
Essentially, we think of it as almost like an intranet or an
internal communication tool where we can, instead of using
BaseCamp or Campfire or HipChat or one of those chat tools we
use P2 to make sure everyone on the team can have ongoing
conversations and keep abreast of what everyone is up to. So
check it out. I’ll put a link in the show notes.

Given the fact that you work on a product that millions of
people around the world use on a daily basis, I’m curious about
what it is that keeps you awake at night?

Paul: Insomnia. No.

There’s this internal joke between developers at Automattic, that
sooner or later someone is going to accidentally break some part
of WordPress.com, and we use IRC for, like, error reporting. So
if someone pushes a new piece of code and that breaks something,
everyone at the whole company can see the error message flying,
and it’s, like, “I better revert that change and push the fix
out pretty quickly.” Like you say, there are so many people
using it.

So every time, still, after a year at the company, every time I
have code ready for commit, I draft a commit message so it’s
perfect, and lots of detail and lots of links to bug trackers
explaining why I made the change. I would often check the code
to change that I’ve made for several times to check that I’ve
not missed anything stupid, like, missed a semicolon or a
bracket. We’ve all done that and we’ve all spent hours and
hours, and it’s, like, “Oh, this one bracket!” Somehow the whole
thing still works, but not in the right way, and it’s like one
bracket or one colon.

Troy: Yeah.

Paul: Really, every time I go to make a change, my last thing before I do
send that code live is sanity check. You triple check that I’m
not going to break anything trivial.

Troy: Do you have any tools to help you check those closing brackets, or
make sure the semicolons are in the right place?

Paul: Yeah. We have some. At Automattic tools we do have various scripts. We
use SVN, and the pre-commit hooks, which SVN make available. The
most basic example is, we use the PHP binary to check whether
the file that we’re committing is valid, whether the syntax is
valid. More and more of our code basis come out of unit tests,
both PHP, Javascript, and a variety of primary languages that we
use. But really it’s about just writing good code. There are
always ways to minimize a risk of code that might not be ready.
Like many companies, GitHub had some good articles on it, last
summer I think, about how they can launch futures and only
GitHub employees can see it and they test it out. They see
whether it works well, if the UI is good, if there are any bugs,
and once it’s ready for them they go forward releasing that
publically.

As we’re building things in development, the best way to get
that feedback and check whether something is robust and works
well is to let the other 210 people inside the company play with
it. So we launch quite a lot of stuff internally for a little
while first. Again, so, if we do miss a bracket or something,
hopefully it only looks a bit weird to employees rather than the
general public.

Troy: Sure. I remember talking to Gary Pendergast on one of the first
interviews on Compress, and we’ve all been here where it’s very
late, you’re very tired, you just want to get this thing
finished so you can go to bed, and you hit the Publish button.
As you’re falling asleep you realize what you’ve done and you’ve
committed some bad code, or you’ve broken something. The
question is, how do you know when it’s time to step away from
the computer and take a breath, and clear your head, and come
back to it tomorrow?

Paul: That’s a good question. Personally, you learn stuff from experience.
I tend to not push any code out after half past five in the
afternoon my time. If I do, and it breaks something, it’s going
to push back my dinner and my evening and it’s going to eat into
my own time, you know?

Troy: Yeah.

Paul: So I’m careful about doing that. If I finish something so late in the
day there’s no harm in letting it wait for another 18 hours or
so until tomorrow rolls around and getting it out then.

Troy: Good advice. I think that’s one of the things that a lot of
developers find hard. The thing about developing code is that
you push something out and it has an immediate impact, and you
can see that instant result of your work. I think some
developers find it really hard to resist that instant
gratification. You tend to publish things early, whereas, what
you’re saying here is, it’s ready to go. Just step away. Go to
bed. Sleep. Come back tomorrow and publish it with a clear head,
and I think that’s a really important lesson.

Paul: [After what] you were saying, I thought of a different angle to it in
as much as that, if we had some kind of deadline, like some
deadline that said something must be launched by the end of the
day somewhere in some city in the world, that would involve me
staying up until midnight or 2:00 A.M. As a developer, unless I
start my day at lunchtime, I’m going to be totally brain dead.
My brain is not going to be working.

All of our teams, I’ve got people in multiple time zones, so if
I finish for today and maybe it’s project work, I can hand off
something to maybe someone in San Francisco who is seven or
eight hours behind me. They have a half of day to finish it, and
maybe now launch it. So if there is that kind of deadline, or
something that, as a team, we really want to get out by a
certain time, we don’t want to push that launch back. It does
get tight. Sometimes you can just wrap up what you’ve done, send
it to another developer in your team who is still in the middle
of their workday and let them finish it.

Troy: That’s one of the beautiful things about having a distributed time
force in multiple time zones around the world.

Paul: Sure.

Troy: How do you clear your head? What do you do when you’re not working?
How do you unwind?

Paul: So, I quite like reading lots of books, lots of fiction. I used to
play quite a lot of video games. Perhaps three years ago I quit
playing video games as heavy as I used to and double downed on
web development, improving my code, and just taking those extra
hours in the evening or the day or whatever after my jobs just
to, instead of chilling out with a game, I might just learn to
code. But I think, generally, as long as what you’re doing is
[inaudible 21:20].

If I work all day coding and then I work on BuddyPress, perhaps,
all evening, it’s just one super long day of work. I’ve been
doing the same type of work all day long. So maybe I just shut
down a laptop and go and read a book. It gets my brain engaged
in a totally different way.

Troy: Yeah. Reading is fabulous, and I’m just discovering fiction again.
I’m getting away from reading business books in bed at night.

Paul: Yeah.

Troy: That’s not good for your sleep cycles. I’m just learning now, after
years of my fiance smacking me over the head with fiction books
and buying me fiction books for presents all the time, I’m
finally now just discovering the beauty of fiction. It is. It
takes you into another world and it completely transforms your
concentration and your mind and your consciousness from where
you were into this whole other place. It’s a really nice circuit
breaker to get your head out of code and out of work.

You say on your website that you’re learning to love travel. I
noticed that little quip on your website. What did you not love
about it originally?

Paul: The biggest thing that I’m still fairly nervous about travel is going
through airports. They have quite a lot of security, and whether
you think that’s warranted or not is another discussion for
another day. Things like airlines making you get at the airport
two hours early, which is fairly standard for international
flights over here, and they say arrive at the airport two hours
early. It’s, like, why can’t I arrive at half an hour and just
get off the train, go through the airport, jump on the plane? It
just seems to be such a tiring process.

Something that people don’t think about, or if you travel a lot
you quickly begin to realize that it takes up a lot of your
time. You have to pack, you have to unpack, you have to maybe
get used to where you’re staying, or the time zone. You have to
find places to dinner, because it’s an area you don’t know. It’s
just, all these little things add up. As fun as traveling is, I
always like coming home at the end of it. I know everything.
It’s safe, it’s easy, and then a couple of days after I’m like,
“Oh, I want to go traveling again! I want to go back to America
or Spain or somewhere,” all these places.

Troy: Had you traveled much before you joined Automattic?

Paul: No. Only family holidays growing up. Maybe one trip a year to Spain,
Canada a few times. That kind of stuff. So it has been very
different.

Troy: So you travel quite a bit now with Automattic? Is it the team meet-ups
and the company meet-up? Is that the travel you’re doing?

Paul: Yeah, pretty much. So each team will have a number of meet-ups each
year. Like you said, there’s an absolutely crazy companywide get
together. There were, I think, 190-ish people last year.

Troy: Wow.

Paul: Towards the end of last year when we had our meet-up. We’re up past
210 as of right now. So at the next company meet-up, when that
rolls around later in the year, it’s going to be crazy. There’s
going to be so many people. Some advice that we had from more
experienced Automatticians was, “Don’t stop introducing
yourself,” because there are so many people there.

It’s a really big networking event. You have to go around the
whole room and say, “I’m a developer. I work in a [store] team,”
or whatever. “I live in London.” Everybody tries to meet so many
new people face to face, or maybe you only see each other once a
year and you just do video conferences or Skype calls. There’s
just so much to catch up on. Yeah.

Troy: That’s crazy, isn’t it? The relationship is completely different when
you meet someone face to face, isn’t it? You work quite
intimately on collaboration, on products. So you have this
banter and this culture and this communications style, and then
you meet face to face. It’s a different dynamic, isn’t it?

Paul: It is absolutely a different dynamic, and it’s awesome. You get to
know people’s personality online. Some teams use text
communication. Some teams use Skype calls. Some use Google
Hangouts. Most teams are a mixture of all of these; just what
works best for them. But however you do communicate, you do get
to know the people, especially in your direct team, pretty well.

So by the time you roll around and it’s your team’s next meet-up
and you get to know them, you feel like you know quite a lot
about the person and you can just have fun listening to people
and seeing them. It sounds weird, but actually seeing them in
person and being able to just go for walks with them around
places and a photo walk, take your cameras somewhere where both
of you have never been before.

Likewise, again, like with travel, it’s great. A mix of
different cultures. To me, as Brit, it’s pretty fun to wind the
Americans up on English slang and stuff, and confuse them.
That’s been good fun.

Troy: Excellent. All right, let’s talk a little bit about your career thus
far. You worked at the Telegraph before you were at Automattic,
yeah?

Paul: Yeah.

Troy: What was your role at the Telegraph, and were you using WordPress?

Paul: Absolutely I was. The Telegraph, I think it still does have two
WordPress pad websites in addition to the main site, which is
powered by a Java CMA switch called Escenic, just in case you
have any CMS fans out there in the audience, which was kind of a
bit of a beast to work with, but in terms of editorial publish
stuff, it worked pretty well for that purpose.

Troy: What was it called again, sorry?

Paul: Escenic.

Troy: Escenic.

Paul: E-S-C-E-N-I-C.

Troy: Gotcha. Okay. It was a Java CMS?

Paul: Java.

Troy: Okay. I’ll try and find a link and put it in the show notes.

Paul: Yeah. It’s a big enterprise-y thing. So if you think you’ve stumbled
into IBM.com by accident, you haven’t. It’s just another one.
There are probably three or four big newspapers in London who
use it. It is built specifically for big publishers, so that’s
the niche they’re aiming at.

Troy: Got it.

Paul: So they had two WordPress sites. The previous guy who happened to
know PHP and who happened to know a good amount about WordPress,
but he was doing it as a half Java, half PHP, half WordPress. He
was moving on to another position. It was really just about,
they needed a WordPress guy, and as luck would have it, I found
out about it and I made it work for me.

Troy: Was it competitive to get that job? At that time were WordPress guys
were a dime a dozen, or was it, like, “We need a WordPress guy,”
and you happened to appear with the WordPress cape on and said,
“Hey, I’m Captain WordPress. I can solve this problem.”

Paul: Very close to that. Very close to that in a good way.

They were specifically looking for a BuddyPress developer. I
was, like, “Holy cow, someone wants to hire me to work on
BuddyPress full time. This is cool. I must do it.” I found out
about it when a guy named Dave Coveney, who is up north in the
UK for a company called Interconnect IT.

Troy: Ah, yeah.

Paul: They’ve got a WordPress developer shop consultancy. I call them that.
He had done some work for the Telegraph before. He had built out
some of the early version of WordPress for the Telegraph some
years previous. He had kept in contact with their editorial
people and their developer managers. One of those people, one of
their editorial staff, just put a tweet out on their Twitter
account and said, “Looking for a WordPress/BuddyPress
developer.”

I had met Dave through a couple of WordCamps by then. I had
spoken about BuddyPress and I have done a number of plug-ins by
them. He just emailed me and said, “Hey, you should check this
out.”

They were specifically looking for lots of the work on their
BuddyPress platform. It was one of those perhaps rare
opportunities where you go, “You’re not going to find anyone in
this part of the country who knows more about BuddyPress than I
did.” So that was good.

Troy: Before you were working at the Telegraph, what was your involvement
with BuddyPress? I’m skipping ahead here, because I made the
assumption that working at the Telegraph was your introduction
to WordPress.

Paul: I see.

Troy: So how did you start using WordPress, and how did you start
developing on BuddyPress? What were you using it for prior to
working at Automattic?

Paul: This, again, goes back to a situation where I was involved with a
small group of people and we needed a social platform. By then
we had figured out WordPress and we liked moving our site over.
It sounds big and impressive, but it was a very amateur
operation. But we were having fun moving stuff open and testing
out WordPress plug-ins like you do. You download 20 plug-ins,
ten [inaudible 31:24] and watch your site crash.

Well, in those days anyway. We were looking for a social thing.
This was a couple of years after Facebook really got going and
Facebook found its stride. It was like, we need these kind of
social avenues for talking to each other, and our website can’t
do it.

So, I went to Google and I found BuddyPress in the first page of
search results somewhere. I checked out their webpage and it
said they could do at least ten different things. I thought, “If
it does everything it says it does, it would be pretty cool.” I
tried so many different platforms and different languages. Most
of them were so hard to install I gave up, or they were bug-y,
or they didn’t work. I would spend a lot of time on it.

By the time I found BuddyPress, and then it was, like, it was a
WordPress plug-in. I thought, “That’s okay. I know some
WordPress. I know a little bit of PHP, at a very amateur-ish
level.” So I downloaded it, looked at the code. It was nice and
tidy and organized. I thought, “This is promising,” based on my
limited understanding of what makes a good piece of code or not.
I [spanned it up] and did the memory I still had. It may be six,
maybe longer, I don’t know, many years ago. It did everything it
said it would. That was really big to me.

Everything it said it did on the front page of that website, I
was able to set up. Maybe some bits were harder to get going
than others back in its early versions, but ultimately did
everything it did. Then I got started. Because there was no
documentation because it was such a young project, I had to
learn how you set it up and customize things. I was asking
questions in the forum. And so I was learning stuff, getting
answers. I saw other people coming into the forums and saying,
“How do I do this?” And I’m, like, “I had to do that last week.
I will tell you.” [Tap tap tap tap], and send and share what I
had already learned.

I kept doing it and I built up a fairly general knowledge base
of WordPress, of BuddyPress specifically. I’ve always done
various hobby, programming projects, like four or five at a
time. Again, I wrote some attempts at video games, then
modifications for video games back in my Quake tournament days,
and then just side projects to learn about MySQL and PHP. Geeky
things, but stuff that sounded interesting enough to spend my
evenings learning.

That ended up with me pulling apart BuddyPress and making a
couple of plug-ins. I was, like, “What does BuddyPress not do
that I needed?” I have a bullet point list somewhere, still. I
was, like, “We need to build a thing for photo galleries,” or
whatever it was. I thought, “These are good, but these are big
things. I should start by finding some bugs.” There are so many
bugs and improvements in that kind of [thing]. This is before
version one came out, so this was super early. There was so much
stuff that I could improve on.

That really got me into learning how to use Track for ticket
management and what makes a good ticket management. The early,
big name BuddyPress developers, Andy Peatling and John James
Jacoby, really took the time to look at my attempts at fixes and
say, “This is no good,” and fixed it another way. I thought,
rather than get frustrated by that and give up, I thought, I’ll
look at what I said they should fix and how they actually fixed
it. Again, I was self-taught what the best way of doing things
in that WordPress development environment was based on the
feedback they were giving me for these code reviews and how our
fixes differed.

That first year or two I learned so much just by seeing other
people say, “You forgot about this thing,” or, “You didn’t fix
that thing properly.”

Troy: You touched on an interesting point there that you could have just
said, “Well, this is too hard. I’ve submitted to my [inaudible
35:58] and they’ve gone and changed it.” You could have just
moved on to something else. There would have been so many times
in that process that you were up against a brick wall trying to
break through to the other side, so to speak. A massive learning
curve in such a short space of time, why do you think you kept
pursuing that? I’m interested in why you didn’t just give up and
move on to something else.

Paul: Yeah. I think I somehow saw potential in the idea. I thought, in a
loose sense of the word, “Here’s a programming-related thing
that I could learn as a hobby, or as perhaps a more long term
interest than some of these other short term projects I was
messing about with.” But it had a lot of potential. I thought
that it would be so cool to run your own Facebook. The early
versions of BuddyPress we pitched as “Facebook in a box.” You
could set it up, unpack everything, and you have Facebook on
your own site.

Facebook was, and is, such a cool platform, especially in those
early days when they came in and really trampled over MySpace
with its different ways of doing things. It just had an idea
that had so much potential. It still does, and that’s what keeps
me going. The core ideas have stood the test of time, both
generally to the public and to me as a developer, so I’m
interested in working on it. I think once you’ve captured that
dream, once you’ve captured the idea behind something and you
can’t forget about it and it just keeps going, it’s very hard to
let go of something once you’ve attributed so much worth to it.

Before, you asked why I carried on learning this stuff and why
didn’t I give up or move on or something, especially when some
of my code patches were turned down. It’s all about being
prepared to learn and having the understanding that sometimes
what you think is a good idea, you have to put a lot of time and
effort into it before it becomes a good idea for someone else.

Troy: And that there, ladies and gentlemen, is worth the price of admission
alone. That is a great gold nugget! I can’t help myself
sometimes. It sounds like you never took your eye off the big
prize and that you always saw the potential in what this thing
could be and that’s what kept you moving forward even when you
came up against roadblocks and frustrations and hurdles. You
just kept moving in that direction because you could see the
potential of what this thing could become if you just kept
going. That’s a hard thing to do sometimes, isn’t it?

Paul: It is a hard thing to do. The ways I get fulfillment out of
contributing to BuddyPress, someone else might feel equally
fulfilled by going to WordCamps and doing a presentation or
answering a couple of questions a week on the support forums,
either a particular plug-in they’re interested in or the main
project. You’ve heard spread the likes of Matt Mullenweg say
time and again that WordPress is in kind of the state of the
words from a few years ago. It’s like WordPress was going to
become an application platform or a layer on which to build
things that aren’t a traditional blog on.

I think it’s kind of interesting that I love WordPress, both as
a tool we use internally at Automattic and in the way it lets us
work all across the world from our own bedrooms, or wherever.
And also the fact that it’s such a solid platform. We can build
things. We can build social networks like BuddyPress or forums
like bbPress. We can build these very complicated pieces of
software and we don’t have to worry. We have that trust, that
foundation layer, that they’re going to carry on building things
in the right way.

Like anything that’s successful, it’s one of those things where
you have to sell the idea to yourself. You always have to take a
risk. Even day to day life, forget building apps or anything, if
you want to change something, sometimes you have to take a risk,
whether that’s going to an event by yourself, talking to a new
person, downloading a new WordPress plug-in to try out and
seeing if you like it or not. You sometimes have to be a bit
lucky in what you think is a really good idea is the right idea.

Troy: You’re at the Telegraph. You’re a BuddyPress developer at the
Telegraph. You’re still contributing to BuddyPress. When did you
get commit access?

Paul: Wow. When I did get commit access? I can’t remember. We’re up to
2014? It feels like maybe early 2012.

Troy: Right. Okay. So you were at the Telegraph at the time, yeah?

Paul: Yeah. I’m not 100% certain about looking at the calendar and dates,
but they may have overlapped, yeah.

Troy: So how did the job offer at Automattic come about? I’m pretty sure
that was just after we had done the first interview back in
October, 2012 that I saw you tweeting and making the
announcement that you were working at Automattic. How did that
job offer come about?

Paul: Well, the cheating answer is just to say I just wrote up a CV. I try
to make it unique and stand-out because I think a cool company
like Automattic would have perhaps tens or hundreds of
applications for all sorts of things every day. We do, really.
Maybe not hundreds every day, but we do have loads and loads of
applications. So I thought, like for any job, how do I make my
first point of contact? How do I make myself stand out? So I
came up with some good ideas for how to present my CV in an
interesting way. I feel that my credentials, contributing to
BuddyPress and having written my own WordPress plug-ins from
scratch, because you can just point to your WordPress profile
page and say, “I’ve done this stuff in WordPress. I’m not a
total green horn. See what you think of my ideas.”

Basically, I applied, went through interviews, trial process,
got the job. The longer answer was, I don’t think I’ve ever told
anyone this. I had been thinking about working at Automattic for
quite a long time because I had heard about the work and
lifestyle. You don’t have to get an office. There’s some travel
involved. All these things, and you get to work on things that
power some ten-something percent of the web back then. I had
always thought this idea, and that’s “I’m not good enough. I’m
not good enough to go to Automattic.” This was maybe when I had
just found out about BuddyPress. This was a long time ago, maybe
six or seven years ago. It was a long time ago.

I wasn’t a good enough developer back then. Career wise, I
wasn’t sure what to do with myself. I was hopping from small job
to small job, nothing major. I thought, “If I really want to
make something, I think my best way of getting a proper
developer job and changing that lifestyle and that career
switch, Automattic is a good company, in WordPress at least, you
might want to aim for to fulfill that kind of ambition of
working in that kind of environment.” I figured out, “No way am
I good enough. My patches for BuddyPress are still being, in the
nicest possible way, rejected.” I was still learning from it.
“I’ve got somewhere to go.”

When I eventually ended up applying for Automattic, I still
thought I wasn’t good enough. I thought, “I still don’t know as
much as, I see all these semi-famous names on the webpage at
Automattic.com.” Some of these guys built WordPress. I’ve seen
them at WordCamps or on WordCamp TV. They’re so much smarter
than me. It took a lot of convincing myself just to send that
email, to send my CV in. It was at a time where I had decided to
really look for moving on from the Telegraph, perhaps switching
to freelance I tried for a while, or working for one of a
handful of small, UK web press agencies.

I figured, at worst, Automattic would just send an email saying,
“Thanks, but no thanks.” I might learn something from the
experience. So when I applied, I didn’t think I was ready, but
clearly I was able to demonstrate and convince the people who
were hiring me that I was good enough. This is called imposter
syndrome. I’m sure many of the people listening, when you sign
on a new company, it takes a little while to acclimatize to fit
into the culture of the company before you feel you can really
make an impact. I’m a developer. I want to go in and build
something. But there’s this imposter syndrome. It’s like, “I’m
pretending to be here with all these smart people. When they
find out they somehow hired me, they’re just going to kick me
out!” They’re going to be like, “Why did they get that guy?” and
just bail out.

Imposter syndrome happens to everyone. I don’t do it anymore,
but I remember starting karate lessons when I was a kid, a very,
very long time ago. Again, I was probably seven or eight or
nine. I was totally scared and paranoid, but I think really I
was worried about all these people dressed up in these uniforms
with their white robes on with the belt and everything. They’re
all doing these katas, these drills. They know what they’re
doing. I’m just going to sit on the edge and copy them, but be
five seconds behind what they’re doing and see whether it’s
right for me.

Imposter syndrome is pretty hard. I didn’t think I would get the
job when I applied. I didn’t think I was ready, but someone
thought I was. Yeah.

Troy: I think there’s a lot of gold in there. As an entrepreneur, one of
the things that is in my head all the time is feel the fear and
do it anyway. It’s okay to be unsure about something. Just do it
anyway. What’s the worst that can happen? Not only did you apply
for this job that you had obviously built up in your mind. Your
imagination is far richer than reality, isn’t it? So you’ve
built this thing up in your mind that, wow, there’s this company
called Automattic and there’s this job that I want to go for. Not
only did you do that, but you presented yourself, you actually
consciously presented yourself in a way that would stand out and
that would get their attention.

So you weren’t just sending off an email going, “Well, I’ll just
send the email off for the sake of the exercise.” You actually
really wanted this job. So what did you do in that email? Can
you give us one idea of what you did that made it stand out to
get their attention?

Paul: Wow. I should say, as an Automattic employee, we don’t get to see the
applications that people send in. Unless I asked one of my
colleagues how they started at Automattic, I don’t know that
story and I can’t find out. I knew a handful of Automatticians,
people like John James Jacoby at the time, Peter Westwood who I
had met at WordCamps in the UK, Jen Milo, a few of these people.
I had looked and their blogs and I thought maybe they blogged
about how they got the job and I could learn something from it.
They hadn’t.

You said you saw my tweet that I was pretty happy to get the job
at Automattic. Everyone does that in some way, whether it’s on
Google Plus or Twitter or on their own blog. So I did a wider
Google for these posts. I thought maybe people would have a
nugget of wisdom in their self-promotion/self-congratulatory
message they put on their blog about how they got this super
cool, new job and they’re excited. Maybe I could learn from
something.

I don’t think I did. I found some interesting bits, but I don’t
think I found anything super useful. So I went back to doing
what any kind of regular young man or young lady would do and
Googled “how do I write a good CV?” Keep everything on one page.
Stand out. Put all the things by priority.

What worked for me was I spent a lot of time on Google image
search for people’s CVs, just visually looking at layouts. If it
looked like a one page [marks off] Word template, I thought,
“Nah, they’ve seen the Word template before. I don’t want to do
that. I want something a little bit different.” So I just went
through countless Google image searches finding people’s own
CVs. I came across a couple of interesting layouts, just the
typography and the spacing and how the page is split up, your
past jobs, in my case the programming languages. I think I had
spoken at one or two WordCamps by then so I said I’d been to
WordCamps and so and such. I joined a WordPress community in
some way.

In my case, just a lot of hard work and coming up with one or
two CV designs that stood out from my Google image search. I
took bits of both of them, did the whole open sourcing thing
mashing those ideas up.

Troy: That’s great.

Paul: Yeah. I made it work for me. I came up with something that I think
presented me, I was looking for specifically a PHP, WordPress
developer position. I thought, “I’d better list all of my
WordPress plug-ins. I’d better make a fuss of my contributions
to BuddyPress,” because BuddyPress was and is still owned by
Automattic. So I thought at least one person at Automattic knows
[staple] BuddyPress somewhere along the line. If I can say I
spent a year and a half contributing to BuddyPress at that
point, or however long it was, again, it just proves and
demonstrates I’m active in the community.

We hire lots of people, I should say, who perhaps are really
great developers but who haven’t used WordPress before, who
don’t write for WordPress plug-ins or themes. Those are probably
good things. If we’re hiring a systems engineer to run our
servers, whether they’ve built a WordPress theme or not is kind
of irrelevant. I put a lot of focus in CV. They always say to
tailor your applications to each employer that you’re
contacting, so there was a lot of stuff about, what is
Automattic? What is the exact job that I’m going for? And just
trying to figure out where my areas of experience overlap with
what the company was about and structuring my initial CV
positioned like that.

Troy: Great. I love that nugget that you’re not going to use the Word
template because they’ve all seen the software template.

Paul: Exactly, yeah.

Troy: All right, let’s move quickly into our elevation round. For those of
you who don’t know, WP Elevation is a business accelerator for
WordPress consultants to build a business. You can learn more at
WPElevation.com. And also, if you like this podcast please get
over to iTunes and give us a five-star review. That would be
great. And subscribe to the podcast at WPElevation.com.

All right, so a quick lightning round here. Paul, I’m going to
ask you some questions about WordPress freelancing and
consulting. These might take you back to your days at the
Telegraph when you first got that job. Just quick thing, off the
top of your head, the first thing that comes to your mind.

What’s the number one thing any freelancer or consultant needs
to know?

Paul: How to communicate well.

Troy: Ah, great advice. What’s the best thing you’ve ever done to find new
customers or clients?

Paul: The best? In my case, building WordPress plug-ins. Unless you’ve got
something that you can prove that you’ve worked on in your own
free time, I think it shows a little bit more that it’s
something I personally want to be involved in rather than it’s
something I want to do just to get money from it.

Troy: How do you stop competing on price?

Paul: Oh, it’s a hard question, because how much do plug-ins sell for? They
don’t sell, unless you’re like WooCommerce or WP WooCommerce or
these few things, you can’t sell plug-ins. I think reputation is
important. Word of mouth. If I go to download a plug-in or buy a
WordPress theme and if I know of the person who has built that,
I’m more likely to get that one over some other thing that might
be perfectly fine but I’ve never heard of before. So, building a
solid reputation.

Troy: Nice. Any ideas for writing better proposals?

Paul: It was kind of interesting. I’ve never really had to write many
proposals when I was doing BuddyPress freelancing a few years
ago because BuddyPress was, and kind of still is, a very
specific niche for WordPress developers. It was easy enough for
me to say I’m building WordPress stuff. Word of mouth. We like
to pass recommendations to each other.

Troy: Great. That’s actually a great tip for providing better proposals.
Just get really specific at your skill set and then you don’t
need to write proposals.

Paul: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Troy: Favorite tool or system for CRM?

Paul: I’ve never really had to use much CRM. When I have had a project that
involved clients, like more than one point of contact, I’ve been
fortunate enough to work with two or three other developers or
business people and let them handle that part. I just want to
write code.

Troy: Beautiful. What’s the best way to keep a project on track?

Paul: Again, taking me back to the Telegraph, my Telegraph days and what
I’ve learned at Automattic is communication. If something is
behind schedule because it’s been misestimated or it’s taken
longer than someone thought it would, or because the client
keeps changing what they want, as long as there is constant two-
way communication and it’s possible for the client to see what
you as a developer, what you’re working on and what you’ve done
recently, they’re not going to be calling you up every so often
to ask for updates. So if you can work in a way that is possible
for people to get up and see your commits or your P2 and just
put updates a couple of times a day, that’s the best way of
keeping things on track. It’s super important, communication.
It’s one of those things that’s easy to say, really hard to do
in practice.

Troy: Yeah, that’s great advice. Any ideas for getting referrals from
existing customers?

Paul: Do a good job. Actually, it’s hard. I’ve had a few jobs where, I must
admit, I wasn’t able to finish things because I was learning how
to do BuddyPress and WordPress development and learning how to
try to manage clients and learn how to not piss them off so I’d
actually get paid at the end of the day. I was trying to do too
much at once, so I have let a few people down in a distant past,
unforunately. Yeah.

Troy: So do good work and rely on word of mouth.

Paul: Well, I think so. Yeah.

Troy: What’s the number one thing you can do to differentiate yourself?

Paul: We said this earlier: find a niche. I don’t care if you build
WordPress themes. Why do you build WordPress theme? Whether you
build WordPress for schools or companies, very different. If you
really love building sites for schools, like intranets maybe,
maybe that’s what you should focus on.

Troy: Absolutely. You touched on this before when you were talking about
the Telegraph, “You’re not going to find anyone in this part of
the world that knows more about BuddyPress than me.” You found
that you loved this thing so much that you just owned it. You
lived it, you breathed it, you became the number one guy in your
hemisphere that knows BuddyPress. That’s exactly right. That’s
the best way to differentiate yourself. That’s all good advice
and food for thought in the elevation round. Thank you very much
for that.

What’s the future for BuddyPress? Where do you see it going over
the next 12 months to two years?

Paul: Sometimes it’s hard trying to contribute leadership to a project as a
developer because you want to write code, which is why we have
project leads, which is why we have development leads in real
life, real jobs as it were, people to tell you what to work on
because they’ve thought through the bigger architecture pieces.
Sometimes you just want to build stuff. You don’t want to worry
about all the small bits. And then sometimes it’s pretty fun to
be involved with contributing to the direction of these
projects.

Something that we always keep in mind is not getting your vision
stuck on one particular thing that you think is important
because you might build a project, we might build BuddyPress in
a way now that’s not too extremes or perhaps maybe we build it
in a way that people are already using it. Over Christmas, our
BuddyPress 2014 survey which is on BuddyPress.org at the moment,
it’s all about, how do you use BuddyPress? What bits of
BuddyPress do you like using? And when we get that feedback, if
everyone says they always turn on this thing and it turns out we
haven’t done anything big for that in two years, I think that’s
perhaps what we should focus on in this next release or the one
after that and evolve the tool that way the users are doing it.

I see a lot of stuff about start-ups. They have a product tool
service. They find that first customer. The start-ups [not
often] fail. I really like this stuff online. They continue to
build their [NVP] away from how their first customer is actually
using it. If their customer uses their product in a slightly
different way to how the original developers thought it should
be done, that’s fine. In that early stage, you should definitely
pivot. You have demand. You have your one customer. You don’t
want to lose that. You should build things to make it work
better for them because maybe they’ve seen something better in
your tool in what you do.

All BuddyPress developers have wish lists of, “I want to tidy up
this code. I want to add this thing.” Photo galleries aside, we
talk about and then kind of drop and talk about and drop. We’re
not sure if it’s something we should do or if we can do it well.
But it’s really hard to not just work on, to be fair, a lot of
the improvements we work on, most of the BuddyPress team, the
core team with commit, do BuddyPress development for a living.
There aren’t freelancers. I work for Automattic. John works for a
company called 10up which is a ginormous WordPress agency in
North America.

Again, all the work that 10up does for BuddyPress, if one of
their customers asks for something and John thinks that would
actually make a really great idea for BuddyPress core, just the
outside opinion of how something is used in a project influences
a lot as to how and what we’re going to build.

Troy: Cool. So the future of BuddyPress is really being driven by use case
and the way that people are using it, which is a really nice
segue into the details for the competition. Paul is giving away
a physical copy and an electronic copy (that’s two prizes) of
the BuddyPress theme development book. I’ll put a link to that
in the show notes under the video.

The way to enter the competition is this. Leave a comment under
this video and tell us your experience using BuddyPress. What’s
the number one brick wall or road block or hurdle that you come
across that you wish was easier to implement? Maybe it is, “Hey,
there should be a toggle box I can push to activate photo
galleries,” or, “Maybe there’s this feature I would really love
it to do which I can’t figure out,” or, “Maybe this thing is
supposed to work and I just never get it to work.” Leave some
comments under the video. Paul will swing by a couple of weeks
after the interview and award those prizes.

Sound good, Paul?

Paul: Yeah, it sounds awesome.

Troy: Awesome. I’m just going to make a note of that BuddyPress theme
development book link so I can put that in the show notes.

All right. Where do you see WordPress in a couple of years? We
talked briefly before about how Matt has been talking about
WordPress becoming more of an application platform or it sort of
becoming Lego blocks that you use to build things. Where do you
see it going over the next couple of years?

Paul: I think it’s likely that, and again, I know as much as you do about
it. I think it’s likely that one of the future 20 themes, like
we have 2010 and we had 2014 in WordPress 3.9 is it? I don’t
know what the latest version is.

Troy: 3.8?

Paul: 3.8. That launched a little while ago. It came with a new theme. I
think we’d be interesting in getting to the point in WordPress
fields, we should ship a theme that lets people publish blog
posts from the front end. I think that would be pretty
interesting because the goal behind WordPress, especially Matt’s
original idea behind it, is to democratize publishing. If it’s
hard to publish things from a mobile phone or a tablet, which is
what most of the web is being consumed on nowadays, people are
going to go away from WordPress.

I was listening to a podcast that Matt did at the WP Tavern
towards the end of last year with Sarah Gooden. There was a lot
of stuff there about where he said, I forget, he’s much better
educated than I am. But there was a point he made out this
ancient concept where if you replace, like, there’s this axe,
and if you replace the blade of an axe, is it still the same axe
it was before? Is it the same tool? So you have an axe that’s
passed down through generations and from your parent’s parent
and so on and you get it one day. It still looks brand new. Of
course the handle will have been replaced and probably the blade
replaced or sharpened because it’s been used. But you still have
the same item in your hand that maybe your great, great, great
grandparents might have once held in theirs and it’s still in
great condition.

That means the continual replacing of parts because they wear
out or better ideas come along. I think in five years, it
wouldn’t surprise me if WordPress, maybe WP Admin goes away,
maybe there’s a back end. There’s maybe 15 different option
screens in the default WordPress install. Maybe all but three of
those go away. That’s a lot of stuff to think about how it’s
going to happen, but as these things, like the Media Library and
back in WebPress 3.6 maybe when the Media Library change came
in, no one is crying about the old Media Library going away
because it was replaced with something better.

WordPress always had a Media Library. It’s always let you upload
pictures from some earlier version, but the way that’s done both
under the hood and how we usually use it has changed so often.
All I want to know is when I get on my mobile phone and I take a
picture and I hit the Send To button, why I can’t I do send to
WebPress blog? I don’t want to have to sync the pictures to my
computer and log in and drag them.

It’s to really democratize all forms of publishing. The way we
make that accessible for people to publish I think is going to
change quite a lot. It kind of sounds scary, and I think it is
scary, but sometimes if you know what all the answers are going
to be, it probably means you feel confident you know what the
road map is going to be. Maybe you’ve missed something, or maybe
something happens in a way that you’ve not predicted because
it’s so different from what you expect.

Especially in a long five, six term lifespan, BuddyPress, this
is its 11th year. I think the ten year anniversary was last
year. Half as long again, in another five years WordPress will
be half as old again and there is going to be a lot of stuff
different compared to today. I think it’s still going to be
WordPress. The axe might have a different handle on it but it’s
still going to be the same tool.

Troy: Great metaphor. It’s going to be very interesting to see how it
unfolds over the next couple of years.

Just before we wrap up, what’s the number one piece of advice
you would give any entrepreneur trying to build their own
business or establish themselves in their own marketplace?

Paul: I’ve kind of already said this, but I would say, find a niche. Find a
niche that is interesting to you. Maybe not. That might be
different from find a niche that you know you’re going to be
able to make money out of. Sometimes people don’t know and they
want to give you money for something that doesn’t exist yet. You
have to find something that you’re passionate about. Like we’ve
spoken, you have to find something that keeps you going through
those hard times when you lose all hope in a project that’s,
like, “Why am I wasting all my time on this?” You just have to
keep going. Sooner or later, someone is going to find the idea
and you might build the next Reddit, or you might build the next
Skype service. In those early days, all that hard work is going
to seem totally worth it when that happens.

Troy: It’s really good advice to find something you’re passionate about and
that interests you and that is going to give you the fuel you
need to keep going because it is hard work, even if you’re not
trying to build your own business. Even in your situation, if
you’re trying to land the dream job with Automattic, you still
had to go through a massive learning curve and work really hard
to become the BuddyPress lynchpin, if you like. You became so
valuable, it made perfect sense for them to bring you on board
and start contributing with them being able to support you with
resources.

You still had to work really hard to get to that point. Doing
that just for making money is just not enough to keep you from
banging your head against a brick wall, is it? You need to have
that passion, that fire in your belly.

Paul: Exactly, yeah.

Troy: I think that’s a really interesting point you made.

Hey Paul, where can people reach out to you and say thanks for
the interview?

Paul: That’s a good question because people email me and I never look at
email. So don’t email me. Unless I’ve told you to email me,
don’t email me because I’ll probably never get around to reading
it. Best way is to reach out to me on Twitter, @pgibbs on
Twitter, at just say hi and let me know what you want to talk
about. We’ll take it from there.

Troy: Beautiful. I love the fact that you’re honest about your email.

Paul: It’s like a to-do list sometimes. I don’t want another to-do list.

Troy: Awesome. Finally, who would you like me to try and interview on the
WP Elevation pocast and why?

Paul: Have you spoken to Noel Tock before?

Troy: I have, actually. It’s funny you mention that. Noel and Tom’s
interview, I spoke to Noel and Tom at the same time. I’m pretty
sure their interview is going live tomorrow.

Paul: Oh, cool. Good timing. Well, when this goes up, now it’ll happen
before.

Troy: Yes, that’s right.

Paul: Yeah, I’m looking forward to that one. Noel, I’ve met him at several
WordCamps and he’s the best person I know in the WordPress
community who has that kind of entrepreneurial, if I think of
the word entrepreneur it’s hard to think of, for me, someone
other than Noel.

Troy: Yeah. I met him at WordCamp Europe last year and at PressNomics I
hung out with him and Tom again. They’re great guys and it’s a
great interview. I’ll send you a link when it’s published, man.

Paul: Yeah. Okay, so another person you might be interested in is perhaps
Andrea Rennick.

Troy: Okay.

Paul: I forget who she works for. I’m a bad person.

Troy: What’s her last name?

Paul: Andrea Rennick.

Troy: R-E-N-N-I-C-K, maybe?

Paul: By the magic of the internet.

Troy: I haven’t heard of Andrea Rennick.

Paul: Well, you’ve been missing out. I’ll tell you what, I’ll drop you her
contact details after we’re done here. She works on one of the
WordPress theme shops, I do believe. She’s perhaps best known
for doing a year’s worth of service in a WordPress support
forums in the support community. She gets involved with
[make.wordpress.org/forumsupport]. She’s a super friendly
person. Her and her husband Ron did a lot of work about
WordPress multi-site when WPMU was separate from WordPress all
those years ago. If you had a WPMU question like, “How do I set
up domain mapping?” Go and talk to these guys. They’re the
experts.

Troy: Beautiful. Andrea, is it? Is that how you say it?

Paul: I’m not sure. She’s Canadian.

Troy: We’ll figure it out. Andrea, I’m coming to get you either way
courtesy of Paul Gibbs. Keep an eye on your inbox and I will be
hitting you up for an interview.

Awesome. Hey, Paul Gibbs, thank you so much for spending a
ridiculous amount of your time with us here on the WP Elevation
podcast. I really appreciate the time that you’ve given us. I
wish you all the best for your future at WordPress VIP,
Automattic, and BuddyPress. I really look forward to seeing how
it all evolves over the next couple of years.

Paul: Yeah, thank you. We should talk again soon. These podcasts are always
great fun. Yeah. We should do it again.

Troy: Awesome. We’ll definitely keep in touch. Thanks, Paul.

Paul: Okay, cheers.

Troy: Cheers.

Troy Dean

I am co-founder of WP Elevation and Video User Manuals.

The reason I get out of bed every day is because I love helping WordPress consultants build a successful business.

I do this through webinars, coaching, speaking, consulting and heading up the awesome community at WP Elevation.

Latest posts by Troy Dean (see all)

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