Over the last several days in Phoenix, I got to spend tons of time with some of the most spectacular and amazing people in the WordPress community. The location was Tempe, Arizona. The event? Pressnomics (2).
I don't know if you're a good news first or bad news first, so I'll start the way I like hearing it.
Oh, this could go on and on. But I'll try to focus in on three things that were great.
Meal times. It's true, I'm a person that loves to connect and talk with people. So meal times were awesome – and more importantly, the location of the event was fantastic because there were so many restaurants nearby. I enjoyed meals with my friends from Headway Themes, Gravity Forms, iThemes, WP Engine, Crowde Favorite, VeloMedia, Web Savvy Marketing, Paid Memberships Pro, WP University and more.
The hotel. This hotel selection was excellent. Sally Strebel knew what she was doing in picking a hotel that was nice, set in a perfect strip of places to eat, and had a great bar with a large outdoor patio. I'm not lying when I tell you that I was out there every night from about 8 pm to past midnight (often past 2 am).
The panels. There were presenters. I was even one of them. But my favorite parts of the agenda were the panels – one on the commercialization of plugins, and the other on the nature of distributed teams. Each could have taken a whole day, given the number of people that were on them (or could have been) and the amount of questions people had.
Very little about the event was bad. Honestly. But there were two things I would have adjusted.
The first were the after-parties, which were great. But they were way too loud to have any real conversations without yelling. I'm sure it's just me on this one, since I don't enjoy chit chat, but if you want to hang out and have good conversations, the after-parties made it difficult.
In both cases, I left them very quickly and headed back to the patio area of the hotel to host my own “open tab” discussion area. We had anywhere from 10 to 30 people hanging out, hearing each other, and enjoying conversations.
My recommendation, to all WordCamps and Pressnomics alike, is to host them at bars without background music. The dueling piano bar would have been fun as a show, but when people are trying to connect, having to shout was hard.
The only other thing was that it was too short. Or too full. However you say it, I wanted more. Some people took off Saturday morning, because the official conference was over. I think a Saturday un-conference where people hung out and grouped to chat about things would have been awesome!
Any time you head to a conference, you look at the agenda and see what sessions you're looking forward to. For me this year I was really looking forward to two presentations that didn't let me down. The first was Lisa Sabin-Wilson, speaking personally and with humility about her own experience, skills, and desire to keep growing – with all of the backstory of what drove her to merge with Web Dev Studios. It was fantastic.
The second was by Natalie MacLees. Her focus was on applying design to your business. Her message was that every. single. thing. you. do. could be / should be designed (and strategic). And you know how much this aligns with how I think and work. Again, another powerful message.
You'll notice that both of these talks were delivered by women, though I doubt their gender-parts had anything to do with presenting. But what I did notice was the sense (and I could be wrong, I didn't count) that there were more women at this event than last year. And with more diversity comes better thinking.
Oh, and the other thing that was awesome? I got to dress up like a cowboy. That doesn't happen every day.