Pull Quote: Nothing happens in your comfort zone. Go beyond and find the magic.

WordPress made me walk 700km to Berlin

Since the year 2000 I was employed at a big IT hardware/software/services firm. After about 9 years I was not feeling quite happy about how things went. Let’s say that the plans the company had with me did not really line up with the monthly reward. So, I quit and started my own company, nostromo.nl in June 2009 (Tweetproof). The goal was to serve customers by designing/developing and maintaining websites.

A new beginning

Now the challenge begins. Where do I start, who do I call? “Hello, do you need a new website? I just started my company and I can help you”. Why would I be the right person to help this company with their new website? The first thing I learned was to be sure of myself. I know what I can do and the customer needs help, probably because they are not so skillful in building websites.

After a month I was talking with a potential customer, my first one (!), and I got the quotation signed. I was going to build my own CMS, and I soon realized (the hard way) that was not the way to go. I had to do a CMS comparison and WordPress won.

Here comes WordPress

The ease of use and the extensive documentation for developers convinced me. After having built numerous websites, and offering maintenance services to customers, I wanted  to know who the people were that built WordPress. Why? Well, because I was using free software and I was making money with it. That didn’t feel right, I wanted to give something back.

Browsing support forums and IRC (that’s something like Slack, but without the GIFs) I quickly became aware of the WordPress community and felt I wanted to get to know these great people.

WordCamp – how it changed me

It was 2010 when I learned about a thing called WordCamp in The Netherlands. The entrance ticket was cheap and I could attend talks by inspiring people. On November 6th 2010, I was waiting in line at the registration desk. It was my turn, and someone from behind the desk said; “Hey, nostromo!”. It was Remkus de Vries, he recognized me from my avatar on Twitter and those two words made me feel welcome immediately. This moment I remember very vividly and it marks the point where my enthusiasm for the WordPress community was sparked to life.

I volunteer – a lot

Giving back to the community got defined. Translating, helping out in the Dutch official WordPress support forum, organizing meetups/WordCamps (The Netherlands, the first WordCamp Europe, and WordCamp Rotterdam) and helping others join and be active in the WordPress community. These were some of the things I did, and yes, I had to push the brake on voluntary jobs sometimes, because I also needed to be productive and profitable in my business. Since that first WordCamp I have met amazing, inspiring and skillful people (in random order). I haven’t met new people, I met new friends.

Volunteering – taking it to the next level

It was June 4th 2018 when I got a weird idea. Yeah, that sometimes happens. Impulsive as I am, I tweeted it:

Little did I know, there was a body part that had a big objection. While planning to go to Belgrade for WordCamp Europe 2018 this happened:

And yes, I had to cancel our trip (my wife was going to join) and ended up laying in bed for about a week with an inflamed knee. I received antibiotics from the doctor and gladly the pain and inflammation disappeared. That aside, at the end of WCEU 2018 it was announced that WCEU 2019 was going to be in Berlin. I was happy, since that’s really close (about 700 km) to where I live.

Currently I am training, I’ve planned my route and I am looking for places to sleep in Germany. Please see this website walktowc.eu for more information. Since this hike is probably going to gain some attention in the community, I had another idea. Why not use this as a means to raise money, for a good cause. Walking 700 km in about 30 days is a challenge, and if I can get enough attention, raising money might work out. Now I just had to find a good cause to raise money for…

Raising funds for DonateWC

I have known Ines van Essen for a few years now and in September 2017 she started a thing called DonateWC. After a successful initial funding campaign they sent their first recipient to WordCamp Capetown in October 2017. Seeing this made me believe this is another sign of how friendly and supporting the WordPress community is, to make sure that people are able to attend WordCamps, while they do not have the financial means to do so. The community supports community members, and that’s the reason why I chose DonateWC as the cause I’m going to raise funds for. And as a side effect also raise awareness of the existence of DonateWC.

My message to you

Don’t feel obliged to do things you don’t like.

Do things you like.

Start volunteering.

Build your network.

Enjoy the community.

Step (or walk) out of your comfort zone.

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