Almost two weeks have passed since Word Camp 2016 Orange County, and even though I’m back in work-mode, I’m still on a high from the incredible weekend. With this, I wanted to share my best moments and highlights in a blog post.
In planning logistics for Word Camp 2016 Orange County, where scores of WordPress enthusiasts would gather for a weekend of impactful WordPress discussions and demonstrations, members of the Divi Community decided to combine this with an unofficial #diviwcoc2016 meet up, and poured in from all corners of the globe. My wife and I decided to turn the Word Camp 2016 Orange County conference into somewhat of a family holiday, and so in the very early hours of the morning of July 4th, we set off from our home base of Normangee Texas with our daughter Emily and our grandson Bradlee in the 40′ fifth wheel RV that we call home (my mother-in-law refers to us as ‘The Turtles; because we take our home with us everywhere we go.) Lisa and I are digital nomads and started working full-time from the road in April 2016.
After four days of traveling across the country, we arrived in sunny Orange County, California, and after setting up camp at the Orangeland RV Park in Anaheim, Lisa and I ventured over to the AirBnB house where other members of Divi Developers were staying at.
Meeting each of the Divi members including: Geno & Vivien Quiroz of Monterey Premier, Terry Hale of Mizagorn Inc., Tami Heaton of Undeniable, Leslie Bernal of A Girl and Her Mac, Adam Inlay of Adam Inlay Web Design, Tammy Grant of Sunflower Blog Designs, Tim Strifler of Tim Strifler Online Solutions, Andrea Walker of Jameson Management & Marketing, Greg Daniels of One Website Please, Jerry Simmons of Monterey Premier, some who traveled from very far such as Australia’s Sarah Oates of Endure Web Studios and England’s SJ James of Gritty Social and Divi Space, was an incredibly humbling experience.
Finally, after years of communicating with each other remotely, each from behind screens located at various corners of the globe, we were meeting face-to-face, and although we’d all just met for the first time, it felt as if we were all life-long friends, or family members, that had known each other forever. The chemistry between us was undeniable and connections were formed instantly. It was amazing to get to know the people behind the Facebook, Email, and Skype accounts, and we all enjoyed being given the space to share our ideas, passions, life stories and business goals – without needing an internet connection. #bestbusinesstripever
Friday began with an early tee-off as I joined in on the festivities in the Word Camp Orange County Golf Tournament. I had a great time participating in the annual golf scramble event, playing a sport that I love (and hadn’t played for nearly 15 years!) while meeting and spending time with other WordPress professionals and members of the WordCamp organizers during a fun-filled afternoon. After the 18 holes, I headed down to Newport Beach for an evening of appetizers and drinks with the Divi Nation gang. We all returned to the AirBnB house for an informal after party, where we were later joined by the Elegant Themes founder and CEO – Nick Roach – and other members of the Elegant Themes team including Mitch Skolnik, Nathan B. Weller and Andy Tran. After a few quick introductions, the same feeling of reuniting with long-lost family members crept in, and together, Elegant Themes and the Divi Developers spent the night hanging out, enjoying hours of relaxed chats and playing a few heated games of pool and ping pong.
We were all lucky enough to get an in-depth walk-through preview of Divi 3.0, and if I can share one little snippet: it’s going to be awesome! Being able to witness the speed, flexibility, and power of Divi 3.0 was mind-blowing, and I’ve found myself counting down the Divi 100 calendar even more hastily than before.
Saturday kicked off bright and early with the first line-up of talks and panel conversations at Word Camp 2016 Orange County. Of the presentations that I attended, one captured my attention above all else: a discussion regarding content generation, publishing, and marketing, given by Greg Taylor.
Witnessing the individual speakers selflessly give back to the WordPress community, in the forms of sharing knowledge, insight, and advice, was absolutely incredible. It inspired me so much that it has given me the courage to apply to speak at WordCamp Phoenix and WordCamp Dallas. Whether or not I am chosen to be a speaker is irrelevant, I will still be there supporting the WordPress community as a whole and proudly representing Divi Nation. So if you see me, please come over and say Hi, I would love to meet you! I feel strongly that our stories can benefit others that are beginning to walk along the same path I started only a few short years ago.
Also on Saturday, the Divi Developers spent the evening at the AirBnB house again for the second night in a row, enjoying a casual hang out session, joined again by Nick, Mitch, Andy and Nathan from Elegant Themes. Instead of attending the lavish WordCamp after parties and rubbing shoulders with top-dog representatives from large WordPress corporations, Nick Roach and the Elegant Themes team chose to spend their time with all of us to discuss all things Divi and web development.
The one-on-one time shared between Nick Roach, the Elegant Themes members and the Divi Community was invaluable. From asking input from the developers and answering questions about marketing practices, to offering guidance on improving individual business strategies, the interactions were incredible, and the level of help and encouragement from Nick and the team was extraordinary. I was humbled to receive such great feedback for the Aspen Grove Studios Divi Demo Zone, and I’ve taken all of the kind words of support and enthusiasm for our product to heart. This has driven me to keep on evolving the Demo Zone to continue being a valuable resource for the greater Divi Community.
Getting to know the guys from Elegant Themes has been such an amazing process. Their unwavering dedication to helping the Divi Communities at all avenues, as well as their overall enthusiasm and interest in helping every one of our companies grow is inspiring. Elegant Themes is an absolutely astounding company to be affiliated with and I’m sure each of our individual businesses will shape and evolve with the insight, advice, and guidance offered by Nick Roach and the team.
Sunday’s Word Camp Orange County line-up saw our very own Divi Nation representative, Tami Heaton, sit alongside Chris Lema, Alex Vasquez, Greg Douglas during a panel discussion – moderated by Jeff Turner – revolving around the psychology of business. Tami was phenomenal, and she knocked her Q&A discussion right out of the park! After one final Sunday lunch with the Elegant Themes team at Eureka’s – which included an out-of-this-world egg, bacon, and jalapeño burger, a hilarious SnapChat face-swap photo session, and the now infamous Weller drink – Tami attended a private Word Camp Orange County after party and decided to bring me along as her guest. Here, we got to meet a collection of prolific WordPress engineers and WordCamp organizers.
Finally, the weekend came to a close and members of the Elegant Themes team shared their goodbyes. We retired for our last night at the AirBnB house for a very casual night to rest, decompress and to begin processing all that had happened over this amazing weekend.
It was an absolute honor and privilege to meet each and every one of the Divi Nation Developers. Without a doubt, we’ve all cemented life-long bonds and have evolved our collective work partnerships into solid friendships. Beyond that, I’m fueled from the core with an even greater respect for Elegant Themes and even more love for Divi and this wonderful community that surrounds it.
I’d like to extend a huge thank you to all of the Divi Nation Posse (The DNP, I think that has a good ring to it) and Elegant Themes. Meeting all of you has been a life-changing experience, and I can’t wait for the next meet up!
Watch this amazing recap video, shot and edited by Elegant Theme’s Nathan B. Weller
If you missed this year’s Word Camp Orange County, head over to WordPress.tv to watch all of the live video recordings from WCOC as well as other WordCamp events from around the world.
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