A couple weeks back I had the pleasure of being an attendee of the first (and hopefully annual) BeachPress event. The concept was beautiful in it’s simplicity:
Beach House + WordPress + Co-working awesome dev sauce.
A group of ~16 WordPress devs (BeachPressers?) got together for 72 hours of co-working… No expectations, no schedule, no rules. No surprise, I learned a few things…
WordPress is an unexplainably powerful thing.
3 guys flew in on their own dime. ~7 guys made 5+ hour drives to get there, and 1 with an infant child no less. Pretty sure most paid their way on their own dime… and all this effort with no promise of more clients, exposure, or even productivity.
Barriers create trust.
BeachPress was a completely open, pay-what-you-want, non-exclusive invite (kudos to Justin for pulling that off). Even so, the barriers to entry were significant: time, money, schedule flexibility, and perhaps the most important, the desire to spend 72 hours in a house with 15 other developers. I felt these barriers created an implicit trust… even though I didn’t know each BeachPresser extremely well, I trusted them. I trusted their intentions were similar to mine of learning and sharing in a respectful way (I mean come on, why else would they agree to this crazy trip).
Connect privately when appropriate.
These days it seems like we have an overwhelming amount of opportunities to network, but fewer and fewer ways to connect with others privately, one-on-one, or in a setting that promotes personal sharing over generalizing small talk. The size and barriers of BeachPress created an almost immediate opportunity for connecting privately for those that had the interest. Within the first hour I had already talked through some of the bigger issues I’ve faced with my business over the past year, and listened to similar ideas from others. That kind of connection spurs growth and insight far more than any generalized socializing, no matter the involved parties.
Try not to be the smartest guy in the room.
I was WAY out of my league at BeachPress. I’m a mediocre front end designer/developer, and among the group at BeachPress were core contributors, awesome agency devs, and some of the most trusted, experienced, and well known WordPress devs in the country. Most of the code being thrown around I’m familiar with, but will probably never be able to write or fully understand. Even so, the amount I was able to learn, extrapolate, and contribute, was significant. Being honest about your own abilities, offering what you can, and just sitting back and listening can be a really powerful way of improving.
Organizing is tough.
Putting together an event as simple as BeachPress is anything but simple. It was humbling to see Justin pull it off so smoothly. A big hat tip to Justin Sainton for having the idea, the courage take it on, and the fortitude to pull it off. For those of you who are a part of an event-having community of any kind, take a minute to give thanks to your organizers, or ask how you can help.
I feel lucky to have been a part of the first BeachPress, and I hope anyone reading this has a chance to participate in this great event, or another like it in their own community.