Welcome to the last interview of the year. After talking to Samuel Aguilera a few weeks ago, it’s time to have someone from abroad. He’s one of the organizers of the upcoming WordCamp Europe, which will take place in Porto, Portugal. And that’s one of the reasons he’s here today: I wanted someone from Portugal to tell you why you should attend WordCamp Europe and why it’s going to be an outstanding event. But his resume doesn’t stop there: he’s an entrepreneur and consultant. He’s also passionate about “Magic, the gathering.” And he’s a great person. Please welcome Pedro Fonseca.
Thanks for the interview, Pedro. It is a pleasure having you here! For those who don’t know you, tell us a little about yourself and your relationship with WordPress.
Hello David, thanks for the invitation. I really had to dig up when I first worked with WordPress. According to WordPress.com I created an account in October 2007 and by that time I was looking for a CMS to build a blog for a company I was working. Nothing new, I suppose it’s similar to other WordPress users. Then I needed to customize the website, and I jumped to WordPress.org.
By then I was just a user, and as a user I applied to speak at a meetup (the first one) in Porto. It was at that meetup that I would get to know other users and professionals. There we were all challenged (by Zé Fontaínhas) to organize the first WordCamp in Porto. I was speaker at WordCamp Porto 2013 and then joined the local community as a co-organizer for our local meetups (did you know that in January 2020 we are celebrating our 6th anniversary with regular monthly meetups?).
One thing leads to another, and from organizing local meetups I found myself in the Organization team for WordCamp Europe.
You’re one of the organizers of WordCamp Europe 2020, which will take place in Porto. First of all, congratulations! It’s an honor to host such a great event in your city and you guys definitely deserve it. How has the experience of organizing such a big event been so far? What are your hopes and expectations for WordCamp Europe 2020?
We really feel the responsibility. Locally, we have been preparing this for more than 2 years and we are aware that the hard work is still to come, nevertheless we have an amazing international team and we all feel excited and prepared to host a great event.
In this case I know I speak for all the local team, we really want that all the attendees feel welcomed, enjoy the WordCamp and our city, and later feeling saudade when remembering Porto and WCEU2020.
Hosting WordCamp Europe is undoubtedly great news, but this doesn’t happen overnight… it’s the result of years of actively contributing to the WordPress project as a community. For those of our readers who don’t know much about the Portuguese community, can you please let us know a little bit more about it? How many WordCamps do you have and where do they take place? Meetup groups? We’d love to know!
Well, as I mentioned, in WordCamp Porto 2013 (which took place in November) we decided to start doing regular meetups in January 2014. These monthly meetups have never been interrupted and I imagine that the secret for this is that we always have dinner (usually Francesinha—a typical dish from Porto) and beers after the meetup.
Sometimes we encourage people to start their own meetup outside Porto, and we have a few now but aren’t mature enough, like Espinho and Caldas da Rainha. There is one that we are eager they plan the first meetup in Terceira. Terceira is an island in the Azores, and we really want to go there.
We have been having WordCamps alternatively in Porto and Lisbon, but maybe it’s about time to have two WordCamps per year.
I’ve been following your (daily?) tweets about Porto and WordCamp Europe and I’m loving them. I think they’re a great example on how to promote an event on social media. How do you do it? Where do you get the ideas from? Are all those pictures yours or did you find them somewhere?
As a local organizer, I feel I have the “responsibility” of being an ambassador for my city, and the truth is that sometimes even locals don’t know very well their own city. So, with this in mind I started my own journey of rediscovering Porto.
A few weeks ago, Rocío Valdivia was coming to Porto and asked on Slack where she should stay, and I gave her a tip about a not-that-well-known place that really is a great spot to stay and even organize a party. She loved it and told me that I should tweet it, so that others could know these places. Little she knew that she would create this “project,” because the next day I tweeted my first tweet and it became non-stop.
Now I force myself to get out and know my city, and each day I go out I have some ideas, but they only get tweeted out if I think it adds value to the experience I would like all attendees to have. Most of the pictures are mine, but sometimes I find some that are great and I just ask for permission to publish them.
Earlier this year I had the chance to participate in WordCamp Lisboa as a speaker (thanks!). I had never been in Portugal before and the WordCamp offered me a great opportunity to travel to your country and enjoy a wonderful weekend. During the event I attended several talks, one of which was yours, of course. I really loved it (even though I might have missed a few things, since I don’t speak Portuguese and it was a little bit difficult for me to follow). Can you please share with our readers why “Magic, the Gathering” is important to you? How does it related to WordPress and its “sense of community”?
Well Magic, the Gathering (MTG) is a whole new world for me. I knew it was a strategy card game, but I had never played it before. As soon as I started playing the game I was addicted to it.
Besides, I noticed that there were lessons I could take and bring to my WordPress life:
- The community – MTG is much more than a game and has a strong community (sound familiar?). There are local events, usually in local stores, where some players offer themselves to mentor newcomers.
- The learning curve – When you start playing MTG, you don’t need to be an expert and the basic rules are quite easy. So, novice games are usually quick and with some errors, but with practice you start understanding how you should combine your cards, you start noticing that you may combine them in order to solve a problem. As soon as you understand how to manage your cards, you are ready to think in strategies to overcome your opponent.
- Gamification – I always loved gamification concepts, and MTG allows me to socialize without hierarquies (even inside client hierarchy), it allows me to think, and teach strategy in a playful way, it allows to sparkle creativity and even develop storytelling concepts.
In 2014 you and José Freitas founded Kaksi Media, a company that helps businesses, e-commerce stores, and freelancers to improve their online presence and better reach their potential customers. Your business is built around WordPress but you also focus on all the tools that surround it (social media, email marketing, and so on). Is it difficult to find customers? Sometimes, I feel like a lot of WordPress users are not willing to pay when they can “find all the solutions they need for free.” What’s your experience in this area?
There is a quote I really like from Bruce Lee that states: “Research your own experience. Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own.”
In Kaksi Media we have been fortunate enough to be able to deliver results to our clients. I believe this is because after all these years we found what really is our specialty: we understand communication. Meaning that we can facilitate our clients to spread their message. José Freitas has a great background of being a journalist, and my background is from developer and consultant (although I don’t write code since… 1999).
So, getting back to your question, I think that people can also absorb what is useful, reject what is useless as we do, but they don’t add what is our vision and method to communicate, and therefore they want to work with us.
How would you encourage someone to get involved with WordPress? What would you tell them to convince them they should contribute to the project and (maybe) build a project around it?
Getting involved with WordPress is easy. It’s free and very easy to learn. Before mentioning “Giving back” I normally talk about absorbing in a selfish way the most they can, and for that the best is to attend our meetups. People only realize they can give back after adjusting the mindset for being a community member. So the best is really to overwhelm them with all the positive things you can get, like good practices, the best tools to use, how to work with WordPress in a proper way, where to get support.
Only then, we start talking about sharing with the rest of the community, and even give back time and/or work.
And finally, who else should we interview? Tell us what 3 WProfessionals you’d like to see in the next interviews and why.
Takis Bouyouris, I had the opportunity of being in the same organizing team with Takis for WCEU2019 (volunteers team). I didn’t know him before and we did work quite closely during the event. We talked a lot about the Greek community and shared some experiences, since he organizes WordPress Athens meetup and WordCamp Athens. I really hope to visit Greece soon.
I met Nemanja Cimbaljevic, in WordCamp 2017 in Paris where we were both volunteers (we had the opportunity to talk a lot, since we shared shifts being door guard 😛 ). Love talking with him, and he’s non-stop in our international team for WCEU2020
Juan Hernando, because he has managed to build a great team and organize the best WordCamp I’ve ever been. It’s really true that Portuguese and Galician are hermanos.
Thank you very much, Pedro, for this interview. Obrigado! I really enjoyed it. See you in WordCamp Europe! And see you next January with a new interview in our blog, dear reader.