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[Mega Recap] WordCamp Europe 2018

You might have noticed that some members of Team Savvii visited WordCamp Europe in Belgrade. Birgit, Flip, Shad, Gijs have written down their WordCamp experience.

Contributor day

Contributing to WordPress – Birgit Olzem

As a member of the organising team WordCamp Europe in Belgrade, I would like to share some insights about it. I was on the community team. We were responsible for the contributor day, the tribe meetups and speed networking during both conference days.

The planning for the whole event started over a year ago. The team of over 50 volunteers worked remotely to make such big event happen. We worked over Slack, with Google Docs and Trello to keep in time and on the same plate.

The local team did a great job find a great venue to host the over 500 attendees who wanted to contribute to the WordPress project at the BelExpo in Belgrade. The contributors were split into 24 teams. There were also 52 team leads and mentors. Even with the WiFi turning bad half of time, all teams found a way to contribute offline. My colleague Paulina shared her impressions of the contributor day as a first-time contributor.

During the conferences days at the Sava Centar, there was a room dedicated as “Contributing area” for attendees who wanted to continue contributions after the contributor day. This room was a great place to be, because of the pleasant temperature and less loudness than at the hallway or bigger conference rooms.


Conference Days in Sava Centar

The human centered brand – Flip Keijzer

This afternoon I was lucky to attend the talk of Nela Dunato. She explains to us in a really accessible way what human centered branding means. She brings branding to small businesses, focusing on you as the main person in it.

First she starts with a definition of a brand: A brand is a collection of impressions our audience has about an organization, a product or a person. This is very in line with the definition given in the workshop “Building a brand“ hosted by Raffaella Isidori.

Nela teaches us that as a small business you have an advantage over big companies. Clients don’t connect with companies – they form relationships with people. The number one tip she gives us:

Stop imitating corporations! You don’t have to behave like Apple to be effective for your market.

To start with making your brand about yourself, you need to answer the following questions:

1. Who are you?

It’s about what clients would say about you. Be aware: your clients do not use corporate speak, so don’t start doing that yourself.

2. What value do you provide?

Insight #1: Value is a transformation. If the transformation isn’t clear neither is the value of what you’re offering – Tara Gentile

This means that value is telling someone how their idea of themselves, their environment, their relationships, their skills, or their behavior will change as a result of using your product. Value is making it clear that there’s a Before and an After and making that story come alive on the page, on the call, or in the conversation.

3. What do you stand for?

These are the things you would never compromise on.

4. Who do you serve?

Who actually appreciates you and your approach to work? Who needs the value you can provide? Who shares your value system? The clients that check all these boxes are your real target group.

Insight #2: If you’re a small business, your clients define your culture for an important part!

That means that you should really be selective in who you accept as clients. If you accept clients that are not true to your values, do not fit to your way of working or do not appreciate the value that you provide, they will directly hurt your culture. It will be harmful to yourself and your company. It will hinder growing your company in the right way as well.

Nela concludes why human centered branding works:

  1. Being on brand is easy – you can stay true to yourself.
  2. It attracts the best people to your business – the best as in working pleasure and fit to you and your company.
  3. It drives a healthy company culture – which in turn helps when you’re growing.

Insight #3: The easiest way to be different in your business is to just be yourself.

In the Q&A round I liked the following question and the simplicity of her answer:

Q: Do you have practical tips to determine and be concrete about the values you provide? How to find the good words for the value that you deliver. Nela: Ask your clients. Do that as well over time as it might change.

On her website she writes: ‘Complex topics explained in a simple accessible and organized way’. I fully agree! Nela makes it really easy to grasp. Down to earth, no corporate speak. It’s deep enough without making it overly complicated.


What we forget to test – Shad Raouf

K. Adam White is an engineer at Human Made and is passionate about what I thought was the most boring thing in the world before I listened to his talk: Documentation. He made a great case for the importance of properly documenting your projects for effective communication across teams, projects and contextualization.

Open-source projects rely on independent contributors to thrive. These contributors depend on proper documentation to understand the goal of a project and how to contribute. Even corporations benefit from proper documentation for effective cross-department collaboration. In Adam’s own words: “Don’t make your colleagues guess.”

He even advised to start documenting before you start coding. Having proper documentation beforehand guides your coding practice and keeps you focused on the complete project when working on details. And if you do need to change something, it’s cheaper to change a word document than changing code. Definitely check out his presentation and slides for more info on proper documentation.

What struck me personally in this talk was that this idea can be extended beyond coding. Properly documenting any project could be a great way to create open-source projects which have nothing to do with coding. Have a project? Write everything down, include the philosophy behind, have a changelog for any updates, add how people can help and what resources they need to contribute and open your project up for the whole world to contribute to!


Going from freelancing to building a team – Gijs Hovens

Are you a freelancer on the brink of building a team? A lot of our customers are, that’s why I was interested in this talk by Karim Marucchi of CrowdFavorite and Sherry Walling of Zenfounder. They discussed all things to consider when growing your business to include more people than just you. My takeaways of their talk are:

The first step is to get the reason for hiring a team member clear. Is it to offer more services? Create a more sustainable business? Or maybe to free up some time for yourself? It is also important to line up reasons why you might not want to hire someone. It is a significant investment of time and money and introduces an extra element of risk to your business. Bigger is not always better.

If you do decide to hire someone, make sure you do it right the first time. 23% of small business fail because of the wrong team.

Step two is deciding on the type of team. There are three different ways to create a team: contracting, hiring and partnering. Each one has their own advantages and disadvantages. We recommend to check out slide on this topic in their slidedeck.

If you have made a choice, prepare yourself in step three. Be aware that the health of your company and you as a person depends on the choices you make. Reflect on yourself to form an image of the ideal colleague. Know your strengths and weaknesses, write down your values and check whether you are able to deal with the responsibility for another person.

All of the above will give you input for the ideal colleague in skill, personality and fit. Ideally, your new colleague should have overlapping as well als complementary skills. In personality, look for teachability, responsibility, flexibility and attention to detail. Make sure your colleague will deliver good work without your permanent guidance.

If you are looking to hire someone to work remotely, pay special attention to their communication skills over long distances. You also want to put very strong processes in place to make sure your company keeps running smoothly. In remote work it is also important to have clear boundaries on private time and work time, both for yourself as well as for your colleagues.

Karim also gave some guidelines for keeping your team happy and well performing in the long run. Four key elements are processes (again!), communication (again!), tools and expectations.  Lead by example, as Karim puts it: “The leader is the original author. The team has the right to edit & distribute.”

I really feel the main message rings true: hiring someone should not be a light decision and takes consideration and preparation. At Savvii we are investing more and more time in our hiring process because hiring decisions are the most important decisions for your company!


Yes, we volunteered as wel!

Unfortunately some of us had to leave WordPint a little earlier. But we did have a good reason: we had to get up really early!

At 8.00 am we were already at the Sava Center to do our volunteer duties. Lucas had to prepare his workshop, Gijs and Maik were there to assist.

I was in the PR team and had to make sure the interviewees were prepared for the interviews with the media partners and the Radio Televizija Srbije (national Serbian radio and television). Except for the fact it can be really hard to find someone in such a big venue as Sava Center, everything went incredibly well. I felt really appreciated and will recommend everyone to once take a volunteer shift during WordCamp Europe. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people in the WordPress community.

WordPint 2018

After the succes of WordPint in Paris last year, we decided to organize another one. We ‘d really to like to thank you all for coming. We hope you’d like the music, the drinks and the ping pong plays. Curious about he pictures our photographer Bas Brader took? You’ll find them on our Facebook page.

 

Berlin, we’re coming!

In short, we all had a great time during this WordCamp Europe in Belgrade. We’d like to thank all of you!

See you in Berlin next year!

savvii at wceu18

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