My goal with HeroPress has never been to help people directly. The idea was to find someone who’s solved a problem and have them tell how, so that people with that same problem can see a way out.
I have no idea if that’s ever been successful.
Many people have told me that the essays are inspiring, and they feel good after reading them, but who is REALLY being changed by HeroPress? I think about this all the time.
The week after WordCamp Pune I was talking on Slack with Saurabh Shukla, the lead organizer, and he casually mentioned that WordCamp took inspiration from HeroPress. Below is the conversation that followed:
topher1kenobe [9:28 AM]
How did WCPune take inspiration from HeroPress?
saurabh [9:35 AM]
In the sense that we wanted people to derive at least a level of inspiration from the speakers and that stories make more sense than presentations
Raghavendra was going to do a standard presentation on accessibility but we convinced him to an experiential workshop where people could experience accessibility issues for themselves
Almost all speakers were not just experts but had a back story that would tell people that they could become experts too!
topher1kenobe [9:37 AM]
That's amazing, I didn't know it was because of HeroPress. Tell me more.
saurabh [9:39 AM]
and more than anything else, instead of sticking to the business and code part of WordPress, in various ways HeroPress was one of the catalysts for introduction of more ideas based on WordPress for the community and the society at large
Mahangu was going to speak about Support but we were able to come to his final topic
Harish was specially invited to speak about WordPress for activism
HeroPress doesn’t change anything in my ability to code or write or learn more about WordPress directly
topher1kenobe [9:41 AM]
What was Mahangu's final topic?
saurabh [9:41 AM]
Beyond the Blackboard: Building Education Products for South Asia
It has sparked an initiative you’ll soon hear about
BOOM. That right there. Stories make more sense than presentations. I still get goosebumps every time I read that whole conversation.
The very idea of HeroPress impacted the WordCamp organizers. That led them to craft the speaker list with a specific goal in mind: change the world.
Harish is famed for being an activist. If he sees something wrong happening, he works to change it. Asking him to come speak impacted literally hundreds of people, who will in turn impact everyone they meet, however subtly.
Mahangu is from Sri Lanka and has been a teacher. He knows what needs to happen in the realm of education in South Asia. He was going to speak on support, but how many talks are already on WordPress.tv about support? How much more amazing is it to have him talk about things that are so unique to him? Sure there are other teachers in South Asia, but none of them were at WordCamp.
And I was part of it.
Indians have always seemed to me to be much more excited about and interested in HeroPress than anyone else. While there, I met people who were literally breathless with excitement when they met me. I asked several friends why they thought that was the case and the answers were all very similar.
Many Indians feel that their WordPress community doesn’t get the respect it deserves. They may not be as organized as in other places (though it really looks like it’s coming together now), but there are many people making an excellent living with WordPress. And not simply freelancers, but also rock solid agencies like rtCamp and Hummingbird. Not only are they making a living but also focused on making a significant contribution back to WordPress with code contributions, translations, and education.
To be clear, I’ve never told anyone in India how to “fix” anything. They don’t need me or anyone else for that. Sure there are problems, but they’re working hard on those problems, and they’re winning.
What I have done is facilitate their own work. Connecting one Indian with another and letting them work their magic. There’s nothing special about what I’m doing, I’m simply in the right place at the right time to pass on a message.
I’ve worked hard to respect everyone I’ve met in this adventure, regardless of location, and India has noticed. Saurabh asked me to come to WordCamp in part to show people there that I’m serious about this. Their work is noticed and appreciated. That is why India is excited about HeroPress. They’re getting respect. Not just from me, but from thousands of readers around the world.
Respect is an amazing thing. People who feel respected are happier, more confident, more excited, and do better work.
The End Game
I don’t know if my original idea of someone reading an essay and having a life changing experience will ever happen. At this point I don’t care if it never happens.
What has already happened is an enormous number of people have heard ideas about changing the world. If my stats are right, thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of people have learned that their work is being noticed and that it matters. They matter.
If HeroPress were to end now, I’d be content with the impact it has made. Fortunately I have many people telling me they want more. Not simply more essays, but more knowledge exchange, more wisdom exchange, more respect shared, more of the spirit of HeroPress.
So, as I learned in India, Jai WordPress!