WordCamp Ann Arbor and WordCamp NYC 2017 Experience

A few days ago I attended my first CaboPress. On the same trip, I attended and spoke at two WordCamps in the USA – WordCamp Ann Arbor and WordCamp New York City. Here’s a bit about my WordCamp experiences and the US trip. For CaboPress experience, please check this post.

WordCamp Ann Arbor

From the moment I left my home to the moment I checked into my hotel in Ann Arbor, it took 36 hours. The long journey had three flights and two road travels. But it turned out to be worth all the hassle!

WordCamp Ann Arbor was quite lively and very well-managed. I met many people I already knew or worked with before so it felt like home!

I was on a panel on Day-1 and had a speaker session on Day-2. The audience was very good and I received tons of feedback about my session on Day-2.

One thing that makes WordCamps stand out is that each of them is different! After having attended more than 20 of them across 7 countries, I thought I have seen it all! But the WordCamp Ann Arbor turned out to be a completely new experience.

On Day-1 there were no sessions after lunch. It was only outdoor group activities.

On both days, there was a concept of lunch group. There were almost 10 lunch groups for each day with different topics. Each lunch group had almost 15-20 people. You could join any of them and discuss your favorite topic with other WordCamp attendees over lunch!

Apart from this, every evening there was an event or the other. On Eve-0, there was a warm-up event for new attendees and people new to Ann Arbor city. On Eve-1, there was a speaker & sponsor dinner. On Eve-2, there was an afterparty for all attendees.

Overall, the WordCamp Ann Arbor was full of action and plenty of networking thanks to Kyle Maurer, Ross Johnson, and entire organizing team.

In between WordCamps!

From WordCamp Ann Arbor, I flew to Portland to meet my colleague Daniel Bachhuber. If you missed it, rtCamp now has a US subsidiary, and Daniel is leading it.

From Portland, I flew to Cabo in Mexico for CaboPress. CaboPress was a grand experience, and I covered it at length in a separate post here.

After five days in Cabo, I flew back to the USA to attend WordCamp NYC.

WordCamp NYC

If there is one thing that set this WordCamp apart, then it’s the venue! The venue layout and facilities were top notch.

I missed speaker dinner as it was on the Friday evening when I was flying from Cabo to NYC. But I had enough time to interact with people during WordCamp.

On the first day, I reached rather late. Checking in at 3 AM previous night, I decided to catch an hour of extra sleep, counting on NYC subway to take me on time from my Brooklyn Airbnb to the NYC venue in Manhattan. When I went to the nearest station, it turned out that the station and the train line were closed for the entire weekend for maintenance! I will never count on NYC subway again!

On the second day, I had my speaker session on Selling WordPress to Enterprises in the morning. It was very well received!

Here are slides from the session in case you want to check.

After lunch, I met two of my neighbors – Asim Bawany (from Pakistan) and Imtiaz Rayhan (from Bangladesh).

Unlike our countries, we got along very well and decided to roam around post-WordCamp. Imtiaz being a student had exams next morning, so he had to leave. So Sujay, Asim, and I went for a long walk, talk and dinner together.

I wish we can have similar dialogues with our neighbors! While I have met many people from Pakistan and Bangladesh before, our discussion usually focused on WordPress. It was the first time; there was no WordPress involved in a lengthy conversation that went on for hours. We talked about many sensitive issues and the common perception of each other's country.

Now, this is the kind of WordPress "feature" which will make WordPress live much longer than other software projects.

The real power of WordPress lies in its community! 🤗 ❤️

Extra Days in NYC

I could take a flight back to India on Sunday night after WordCamp itself. But I decided to keep two extra days in NYC for possible client meetings and some rest.

It was also Sujay’s first US trip so I thought these extra days would help him explore NYC.

As I had few meetings on Monday afternoon, Sujay explored NYC with his friend Kevin. Kevin flew all the way from Minnesota to meet Sujay. He also helped us with our bank account opening earlier in the day. I joined them in the evening for dinner together.

Kevin stayed with us and our Airbnb host Allen happily accommodated him. I would highly recommend Allen's place for your next stay in Brooklyn!

On the final day, it started raining so that messed up our few plans. After spending almost 2-3 hours in a pizzeria we headed straight to the airport even we had an evening flight!

Overall

I have attended the big WordCamp in the US before – the first two WordCamp USA took place in Philly and it's predecessor WordCamp San Francisco 2014. But on this trip, I attended the first time, what could be considered as a local WordCamp in the US!

The most amazing part was to attend two WordCamps in a country, a week apart and have completely different interactions and experience.