Freshly on two feet, I was more than just a little bit excited to hop on a plane and join the GoDaddy team at WordCamp US in St. Louis last week. After all, I had missed a trip to the Leadership Summit in August, missed a conference in Florida, missed visiting my parents, missed my 30th-anniversary celebration and missed my most coveted trip of each year, NOLA. I still had WordCamp US, dammit!
As you know, last year I was the first GoDaddy Pro Ambassador at my local Seattle WordCamp and a few weeks later, I joined the team at WordCamp US 2018 in Nashville. It was my first ever experience at WordCamp US and I was just overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to attend. This year, the GoDaddy Pro Ambassador program has grown to a party of five and it was a real joy to meet and work with my peers. Many of them are WordCamp speakers, folks I’ve been following online, and one was a fellow Pro Council member. Meeting in person is always a joy for me!
I arrived on Wednesday afternoon and was happy to see familiar faces from GoDaddy and also new people I had never met before. What was apparent was that the feeling of “family” was instantly present, not just for me, but for all the Ambassadors as well. It’s something I’ve noticed in all my interactions with GoDaddy. It’s a big company with a tight-knit family vibe.
We gathered in the hotel lobby for a quick happy hour and split into two groups for dinner. Peruvian or BBQ. I chose the latter and we walked to SugarFire BBQ for smoked meats and conversation. It was delish and to top it off, we had the World Series on in the background. Everyone was pretty beat from travel and I returned to my room to call my Dad and watch some baseball with him over the phone.
Thursday was our booth set up day. I got up early to hit Starbucks and check in on my clients’ sites. Having a SBUX in my hotel was heavenly and a great way to run into friends staying at the hotel. Later, we all had a great breakfast at Rooster (a must-visit if you go to STL). Once at the venue, the booth was a new design and took all of us a few tries to get the pieces of the puzzle together. I soon headed to the room to ice and elevate my foot before making it back for the team photo. That night, we had a delicious authentic Italian meal downtown with Chianti and great conversations. It was Halloween and even though I had my costume in my suitcase, I opted to head back to my room. My ankle was in no shape for a pub crawl.
The event opened on Friday morning. There were so many talks that were on my list, but I only made it to one. Kori Ashton is one of my favorite WordPress speakers and has had a challenging year with both a divorce and cancer diagnosis. She talked about inclusiveness in the workplace and even though I work alone, her talk was inspiring to make everyone feel welcome as clients and friends. During the day, I was able to chat with Brian Garder at Starbucks, tell Jennifer Bourn how much she’s taught me, hang with Bob Dunn and make a ton of new friends at the GoDaddy booth. WordPress had a party a place called the City Museum. You have to view this link. I can’t even describe it. I ended the day doing over 11K steps. It was far too much and I paid for it later. A huge highlight of Friday night was attending the Women in WP happy hour. It was the hottest event outside of WordCamp! I got a chance to chat with good friends and you could see how happy all the LADIES were to get together. I loved it!
We’re honored to have met so many #MakersOfTheWeb at @WordCampUs. Special shout out to our iPhone Pro 11 winner, @Jonya. We can’t wait to see what you make next. #WCUS @wpmodder @webcami pic.twitter.com/H5sGZf7YL1
— GoDaddy (@GoDaddy) November 2, 2019
Day two was the day of our big giveaway. I was in poor shape from the amount of standing and walking the day before. I worked the booth in the morning and headed back to my room after lunch to ice and elevate before heading back for our drawing. We were giving away an iPhone 11 and doing headshots as part of the entry. Last year, a friend that came to say hi to me entered and won! This year, the winner was someone I had talked to at length before she entered. I’m two-for-two on being a lucky charm at WordCamp US! That night, GoDaddy hosted a big dinner for customers. It was great food and conversation followed by what else, karaoke! Epic evening. I was up past midnight.
My final day included a trip to the Gateway Arch. Please take note. If you have a foot injury, do not do the Arch. It was difficult with stairs and as you can see, the whole thing in on an angle up there. I had to recoup by sitting next to my football-loving friend for the entire Seahawk game! Next year, I plan to go to my first Contributor Day. Those that attended had a great experience.
Well, that’s it. My journal entry for WordCamp US. If you are considering going and wondering if it’s worth it, it’s totally worth it. It’s like a big family reunion. There are faces you know that you can’t wait to see. There are people you know are family but you haven’t met yet. WordCamp US has a vibrant community (family) just waiting for you.
Meet me in St. Louis, 2020.
RESOURCES: GoDaddy Pro at WordCamp US 2019