Hallway Chats Episode 150 - Cate & Topher DeRosia

Episode 150 – Cate and Topher DeRosia

Hallway Chats Episode 150 - Cate & Topher DeRosia


A Conversation with Cate and Topher DeRosia

The DeRosias are the founders and stewards of HeroPress. If you don’t already know about it, HeroPress tells the stories of people who have leveraged WordPress and its community to change their lives and achieve their goals. Through these stories, global connections are made and conversations are had that build a stronger community, more employment, and educational opportunities, and easier access to resources.

Show Notes

Website | HeroPress

Twitter | @mysweetcate

Twitter | @topher1kenobe

Episode Transcript

Tara: This is Hallway Chats, where we meet people who use WordPress.

Liam: We ask questions and our guests share their stories, ideas, and perspectives.

Tara: And now the conversation begins. This is Episode 150.

Tara: Welcome to Hallway Chats. I’m Tara Claeys.

Liam: Welcome to Hallway Chats. I’m Liam Dempsey.

Liam: Welcome to Hallway Chats. I’m Liam Dempsey.

Tara: And I’m Tara Claeys. Today we’re joined by Cate and Topher DeRosia. The DeRosias are the founders and stewards of HeroPress. If you don’t already know about it, HeroPress tells the stories of people who have leveraged WordPress and its community to change their lives and achieve their goals. Through these stories, global connections are made and conversations are had that build a stronger community, more employment, and educational opportunities, and easier access to resources. It’s a great resource, a great organization. We are such fans of HeroPress. Thanks for joining us. Hey, we’re glad you’re here.

Cate: Thanks for having us.

Topher: Thanks for having us. Tara…

Liam: You are very welcome. Go ahead.

Topher: Tara, you did an essay on HeroPress once.

Tara: I did.

Liam: Tara is awesome. Thank you for sharing that, Tara. And thank you for flagging that up, Topher. And welcome to you both, Topher and Cate. Thanks for joining us here today.

Topher: Yeah.

Liam: This is where we would normally say “tell us a little bit more about yourself.” I feel like because of your great work with HeroPress, most of the folks probably listening to our show or at least our regular listeners are going to know who both you Cate and Topher are. So we’re going to do things a little bit differently on this, our 149th episode of Hallway Chats.

What we’re going to do is in our little role change, we’re going to ask Cate and Topher really to interview Tara and I. And not so much from our individual perspective than individual lives, but really as the cohosts and organizers of Hallway Chats. So we’ll be really answering our two signature questions, not from our own personal perspectives, but rather from the perspectives of managers of this happy, little show. So if everybody’s all with us here, then I will turn the mic back over to DeRosias and invite them to get this interview underway.

Cate: So my first question would be, why did you start Hallway Chats?

Liam: And I’m going to turn that question over to Tara to start.

Topher: Well done.

Tara: We had a lot of free time. No, no. Well, in part, to be honest, inspired by what HeroPress was doing. And also at the time, for me personally, I listened to every WordPress podcast there was. And at the time, there were maybe four or five that I really listened to really regularly. And I noticed that a lot of times it was the same people on those podcasts each time. So I thought it would be kind of nice to hear stories of people that I meet at WordCamps and in Slack groups who aren’t on podcasts. So I kind of had this little idea of doing something like unsung heroes or something like that, not to take the word “hero” into it. But sort of just the idea of your everyday WordPress person that’s just like you and that can inspire you to see what they’re doing and what they’re struggling with. So that was my idea initially.

Liam reached out on Twitter—I told the story a couple of times—but Liam reached out on Twitter. We had met at a couple of WordCamps. You know, we’re friendly, didn’t know each other too well. And he said he was interested in doing a podcast and I reached out to him. We kind of talked about it and he was interested in the same idea. So we made some adjustments to the concept a little bit and came up with a name and really wanted to do something to give back to the community and give people an opportunity to have their story out there, to share, they can send to their friends and family and people can listen to while they’re out walking their dog or something. That’s the genesis of it from my perspective.

Topher: I have one now. I’m assuming you did research before starting this about what’s involved in time and money and all that stuff. Is there anything that jumped out of the dark at you two months in and made you go “Whoa, I didn’t expect that at all. Do we really want to keep doing this? Is this worth it? Anything really jump out at you?

Liam: I’ll take that. I will share that Tara, is wonderful in so many ways, but one of her best qualities is if you look up in the dictionary the word “organized,” it’s just a picture of Tara. With Tara, she and I were able to really plot out kind of all the things logistically. How much time this is going to take? How much money is it going to cost? What do we need to spend? What equipment do we need to buy? Do we need to buy that end of equipment or can we get something a little bit this or a little bit that?

So we had done all the homework. And Tara and I were working on it probably for about six months, just shy of six months before we launched our first episode. We even recorded some test episodes that never went live just to say like how bad are we at recording podcast episodes. So we had done a lot of that. From my perspective, no, I never had a “oh my gosh, we’re totally in over our heads. This is terrible.”

I think that said though, one of the areas where we have consistently struggled is around finding new guests. We don’t want to talk to the folks that are on every podcast. They are wonderful people and have a lot of great things to share, but we want to talk to those that we don’t know. And we very much did not want it to be the friends of Tara and Liam show. Especially since COVID hit, we’re not going to WordCamps. We’re not meeting a ton of new people.

You certainly can meet people online and meet people on virtual WordCamps, but it’s not the same, “Oh, I sat down. I just happened to bump into this person and had a two hour chat. Oh my gosh, are they amazing?” So that’s an area where we’ve consistently struggled. I think we’ve done pretty well all things told but it’s been a real challenge. And I think we underestimated just the challenge of that. And certainly, you know, we had no idea that COVID was coming. So we were not able to really prepare for that in any kind of meaningful way.

Topher: That’s interesting. Are we going to someday see a producer’s cut, early release of Hallway Chats? Those episodes that didn’t get released.

Liam: Somewhere in Google Drive.

Tara: They are with my pets. So they’re not that interesting actually

Topher: Isaac Asimov has a book that’s out that is really, really early stuff that he didn’t want published. But people wanted it because he’s Asimov. He wrote the intro for it and he’s like, “I have no idea why you people want this trash.”

Tara: We have talked about outtakes or things like that, but there haven’t been that many. We only release the audio, but we do have the video of all our calls, of all of our conversations.

Cate: I do like the potential idea though of branching out to pets in the future. Like if things gets really slim or you know, particularly busy week, we can sit the dogs down and ask them how they feel about being a part of our crazy family.

Tara: My cat was just up here on my desk.

Cate: Right, exactly.

Tara: So he really wants to be part of it.

Cate: Cats do seem very interested in podcasts. This could be a whole new.

Tara: Yeah, for sure. For sure.

Topher: So I have another question—something I always wondered. It’s related to run costs of owning the podcast. Obviously, you want to have decent hardware. So you think, “Oh, I need a microphone.” What are some costs that surprised you? I mean, you need a website. You need a place to put mp3. You buy hardware. What else is there?

Tara: I don’t think any cost surprised us necessarily. The one investment that we make in every episode, which is really our largest outlay of funds is to have our podcast transcribed. So we’re very grateful to Evalyn Maina who lives in Nairobi and transcribes our podcast for us every single time and does a really great job. Before that we had a young man who also was overseas. I’m trying to remember where. He was in Eastern Europe somewhere.

So we have been very happy to spend that money because we really feel it’s important to offer that transcription, that written visual version of the podcast. And that’s really the main expense. We’re grateful to Liquid Web for supporting us by giving us hosting for our website where we hold our podcast. We use Blueberry for the hosting of the audio, which is not terribly expensive. I think it’s about $12 a month. So it’s really the costs are relatively manageable and low and we pay for that ourselves because this is not a business venture for us. But it’s been fine. If we did more with the podcast, I think there could be more expenses related to it.

Topher: Sure.

Tara: We used to publish every week. And that was because of the transcription cost that was more expensive. So not for that reason. But just because of what Liam described in terms of scheduling, we change every two weeks, and that cut the cost.

Topher: I’m amazed at how inexpensive drive space is these days. When Mp3 started coming out, being popular in the 90s, I was working at a hosting company, and relatively speaking Mp3s were huge compared to like a Photo. And you pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars a month for an archive of mp3, a podcast, or whatever. And you’re saying now it’s $12 a month. That just blows my mind.

Cate: So have you learned anything about yourselves while you’ve been doing Hallway Chats?

Topher: Or each other?

Cate: Or each other. Because I’ll be quite honest. I mean, Topher and I have been married well over 23 years, and I’m still learning things about him that I can’t believe that I didn’t know. Things like “this is my favorite food.” And I’m like, “That’s your favorite food.” I’m like, “How did I not know that?” But yeah.

Tara: Liam, do you want to go first?

Liam: Sure, I’d be delighted to. So, Tara and I, as she mentioned, didn’t really know each other when we started. We were WordCamp acquaintances. I could see her from across the conference hall and say, “Yeah, I think that woman’s name is Tara. I think she’s from Baltimore, Virginia, DC kind of thing.” But beyond that, we didn’t really know each other. We were part of a Twitter conversation. And… January of 2017, Tara? Joe Casabona was on the conversation and maybe a few others, and we were just thinking about podcasts not really sure where to go, yadi yada.

Topher: In hallway chat?

Liam: Yeah, yeah, on Twitter. Without vitriol. So we just started to get to know each other a little bit. In those early days, we were talking every week or every other week and sending some emails. And it was a mixture of: do I like the show’s concept? Do I really want to do this myself? Do I want to do this with this woman Tara? Does she want to do it with me? Do I like her? Well, like her enough to want to work with her as closely as we’ve ended up working.

I suppose on a deeper level, it was also is she committed to matters like community individuality respect for humanity, for people, for all the individuals as individuals as I think I am? A little bit that is, you know, you just have to start to talk about things and see how it goes. And I’ve been absolutely delighted to become as good friends as I am now with Tara. We could have hours and hours of conversations about how profoundly generous and kind and thoughtful and caring she is.

And I don’t use those words lightly. She thinks about things from a generosity standpoint two and three steps ahead of most people I know. She doesn’t really sector that off. It’s not like, “Oh, these are my WordPress friends, so I’m nice with them,” or “those are my running friends and I’m nice with them,” or “these are my family. In my experience with her, she’s been that generous person at every turn. That’s been pretty amazing to see and pretty amazing to watch and pretty amazing to learn from. So, I’ve learned a lot about Tara. And I love her a lot. She’s amazing.

Cate: I couldn’t agree more. I don’t have the pleasure of knowing Liam as well, but the last year or so I’ve really had a chance to get to know Tara and her support as I’ve dove into things over my head that have… has just been huge. You know, just the unconditional support and encouragement. So I’m glad that Liam got to learn that. I’m just so thankful for it. So now you get to talk Tara.

Tara: I’m all red-faced and just about in tears. That’s awfully amazingly kind. I’m a bit speechless about that. It’s certainly wonderful to hear that from someone like Liam who I consider a very dear friend and someone who has, for all of the nice things he said about me, I think he’s inspired me to think about things from a position, as he says, of love, to come at things first with love. I think about him a lot and how he has changed me in that way, I think. Not that I haven’t thought about being a kind person for a long time. But having more top of mind. And Liam’s very strong attention to value and his very thoughtful approach to everything that he does is something that I’ve learned and been inspired by.

He’s also really fun to chat with. He’s a great conversationalist. He asks really good questions, not just of our guests, but of me. I’ve reached out to him as a friend separately from the podcast at times when I’ve struggled, and he’s always been extremely supportive and patient with my struggles. So I think I look forward to continuing to be in touch with him and for a long time to come because he’s just an amazing spirit and my life. And I am very grateful for his guidance, really.

So, for every nice thing he said about me I can send it right back to him. And I’m so grateful to him for sharing this podcast with me because I wouldn’t have done it by myself. He’s brought so much to it. So yeah, both of us paying attention to the community has been something…it’s been nice to share that attention to giving back and to paying attention to who we’re chatting with and learning about them. And we’ve had some amazing guests and conversations that will always stick with me. So yeah, thanks for asking that question.

Topher: You both sound like really nice people.

Cate: You know, what I really like about all of that is that’s a lot of the reason that we put effort the last couple months into doing more of HeroPress is, you know, as a family, we have gotten so much out of just being involved in the project—the people who’ve been able to meet the friendships, the business relationships. Just that access to new perspectives and new resources that are out there. And we kind of looked as a group at where we were with the girls being older now and not having to manage family. And we can kind of move the focus we were putting into building our family and to building this stronger element of the community, and open up these opportunities that we’ve had for other people to be able to enjoy them and to be able to benefit from them. And hopefully, in the end, help everybody in the community benefit from them.

Tara: Yeah, I love interacting with your girls, and having met them and sort of your family. It’s not many communities where you have whole families that are known and contribute in very valuable ways to the community. So your whole family’s involvement and embrace of our community, the WordPress community, is really notable, I think.

Cate: And part of that comes actually from the reverse, where…

Topher: I was going to say that too.

Cate: Yeah. When they went to their first WordCamp, it was Chicago in 2014. It was my first WordCamp as an attendee. And they were 12 and 14 at the time, and they just were able to… because the community is safe, I mean, you still have to be cautious though the community is safe. So they were able to just go attend their own events. They made new friends. They met people in the community before I did. I remember the first WordCamp US, they were there, and we didn’t have to watch them closely. I would find them off in a corner learning something from my design friend. Or they would have questions, people would just take them aside and help them learn. The more we can do to help facilitate that for other people, it’s just huge.

Topher: I’m always surprised and happy when I learned that my kids know people in other countries that I don’t know.

Tara: Wow.

Topher: They made their own friend in Nigeria.

Tara: That’s awesome.

Topher: It’s cool

Liam: That’s really a pretty amazing way that your family has explored and involved itself in the WordPress community. I think that’s pretty unique in that approach. I’ve taken couple of my children to WordCamps. They were there but mostly because I brought along a dozen of donuts. And they did enjoy WordCamp US because that sponsor row for one of my children was like, “Wow, this is like Toys “R” Us, and yeah. All the sponsors were, “Have this and have that. Come play this video game. No, keep playing. Have fun. Yeah, you’re going to win it” kind of stuff.

So, yeah, it’s great. I’m so delighted that your family has embraced it in that way from what Cate had shared. That it’s really driven your relationship with each other to a more profound level. That’s so exciting to see and so exciting to hear about. Thank you.

Cate: I get so excited because I think about where I was at 19. Even as an educated person, or heading off to college, I was always a good student, all those things, there are things that are in front of them, like starting a business, learning about a business that comes from the internet, but also comes from the community that we’re a part of that just weren’t there if I had wanted to do them. And the opportunities for them to just do something huge with their life is amazing. Of course, they’re now both loading trucks at FedEx at the moment. But you now, you need people who are doing that too. But it’s just the options just sit there for when you’re ready.

Liam: Absolutely.

Topher: Yeah. For me, it was a real joy to have my family join what was becoming my life because, you know, I go away to WordCamp, and so it’s a wonderful fun time, and I’m off having a great time and my wife is home with the girls. That’s not fun for her. For a while, as I recall, Cate wasn’t sure that she’d be interested in going to a computer conference. It’s just not her thing. She’s not a computer nerd like I am.

But having them come along, especially having them enjoy the community and want to be there, made it so that I didn’t feel like I have to quit this and rush home to give my partner a break or even just because I want to be with my family. My family was there with me and we were doing something fun. It’s like those families they go RVing together and love that life. If they didn’t all love it, then it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun. And we all love it.

Cate: Yeah. In fact, the girls are starting to get a little antsy that there haven’t been any events lately. And so they’re excited to get… Particularly Emma. Emma is much more reserved. She likes to just be. She’s more cerebral. She’s very happy. Happy like I am to be back behind the scenes a little bit more. But even she was saying how she can’t wait for there to be another WordCamp so that she can go somewhere

Liam: Yeah, she and lots and lots and lots and lots of people around the world it’s hard to believe we’re a year under COVID already, at least here in America. Other countries have been dealing with it longer.

Well, we’ve talked a lot about community and building community. When we started this conversation today, we talked about how Topher and Cate were the founders and the stewards of HeroPress. While certainly the community contributes to HeroPress and it makes it what it is. And it takes a dedicated effort and a lot of time and energy to provide that platform for the community to share and connect. With that in mind, Tara and I are really delighted to share the news that Hallway Chat will be joining the HeroPress umbrella of wonderful content. And perhaps even more excitingly is that Tara and I will be stepping down as hosts and the wonderfully talented and generous Cate and Topher will be taking over.

Tara and I are kind of staring at each other through the Zoom window here and we’re both kind of stunned to hear me say that aloud and to realize, not the finality of it because nothing’s coming to an end but the gravity may be away. I’m going to just stop talking for a second and see if Tara has some things to share.

Tara: That’s twice my face is turned bright red, and I’m tearing up in this episode. I don’t know if I’ve cried twice. I know I have cried on some episodes, but maybe not twice though. I’m super excited for Cate and Topher to make this part of HeroPress. The timing is just great for us and for them. And it’s a bittersweet moment to be stepping away, for Liam and I to be stepping away as cohosts. But I feel like this child is ready to graduate and move on. And we’re really grateful and excited that Cate and Topher are going to do this because it is a natural fit for HeroPress and what they’re doing with HeroPress. So thank you for joining the Hallway Chats family and bandwagon and taking up the mantle.

Cate: And it really does feel that way. You know, we love Hallway Chats. As we’ve talked about a podcast, Topher has always wanted to do a podcast with HeroPress. There just was not enough hours in the day, enough resources to go around to make one more thing fit. But as we’ve been looking at ways to expand it and make HeroPress more of an asset in the community, something like Hallway Chats was on our mind, but we didn’t want to compete with Hallway Chats because we love what you two are doing.

So, to be able to bring it in, put the resources for people because both girls are interested in being involved in it to, you know, to be able to expand to the people who are involved and to open up some opportunities for you two to move on to your next amazing thing, it makes everything better. Every time I talk about things, it’s always an and these days, where it’s not HeroPress or Hallway Chats, it’s HeroPress and Hallway Chats. It’s not Cate and Topher battling Liam and Tara in some kind of weird smackdown, it’s us doing this, and then you each doing the new things. We’re also much richer when we just keep expanding and growing that way.

Tara: Yeah.

Topher: When Hallway Chats first came out, I thought, “Ah, what a great name. That’s exactly what we would have wanted for HeroPress. And quite quickly, I applied to be on the show and was told no. And the reason was that you were trying to reach out more to people who aren’t on podcasts all the time. Exactly as you said. And I thought, “Oh, that’s exactly what I wanted for HeroPress.”

Like Kate said, “I’ve always been a bit envious of what you’re doing and wanted to have something similar. So I am exceptionally delighted that this worked out. We had been talking about starting a new podcast that’s going to be a little different from Hallway Chats. That’s kind of how we got to here is I spoke to Tara and I said, “Hey, you know, we’re thinking of doing a podcast.” And she said, “Oh, really? We should talk.” And that’s how we ended up here today. But I can’t think of a better model for a HeroPress podcast than this. So I’m really excited.

Tara: Yeah, thanks. Thanks. Yeah, thanks for reaching out. That was fortuitous timing. I messaged Liam right away when you reached out. Each year we’ve just told ourselves, we commit to another year of doing this together. And so when it comes up before the next year, we start having thoughts and conversations about what we would change or do differently, or whether we would continue or not. So we were just embarking on those conversations when you reached out.

And I think we both have things going on separately with each of our own businesses, and community commitments, and that type of thing. And so we were thinking about stopping. So to be able to pursue other things and still have Hallway Chats live on is great. As we’ve talked over the past couple of months and kind of put together all of the processes and systems that we’ve put in place, as Liam mentioned, he kindly said that I’m super organized. I probably I’m like to a fault. But in some ways that’s helpful because you can get a whole set of processes that you can inherit, good or bad as they are, but that’s really…

You know, when you asked earlier about what was surprising or investment, the time investment in putting together all of the processes and learning how to do things so that you can get it down to a very quick and easy, repeatable process. It’s kind of what we’ve done over the past three years. So hopefully that will be helpful as you move forward.

Cate: I, for one, don’t think you can spend too much time organizing. I’m both thrilled with what you’ve been able to hand over to me, but also deeply, deeply on board with the systems and processes.

Tara: You have to let me know what you improve upon because there’s definitely stuff to be improved upon.

Topher: Another fortuitous thing about the time that we were thinking of doing a podcast and about the time we talked to you, a friend of mine in India, who was one of the organizers of WordCamp Mumbai approached me and said, “Hey, I want to do a podcast with you about HeroPress people and kind of make it like a Hallway Chat. I said, “Oh, really? Maybe this is the time.”

Liam: Yeah. So what’s happening with that? We haven’t talked a whole lot about it. I told him that we were working on this. We got a bunch of ideas. He might be another host.

Tara: That would be cool.

Topher: We’ve talked about the girls being involved. We don’t want to have four or five hosts and one guest. But maybe we rotate hosts. In one week is Cate and I and one week is Cate and Sophie and then maybe this other guy.

Tara: Cool.

Topher: We’ll see.

Tara: That’s wonderful.

Liam: I’m super thrilled to see how the show evolves over time under your stewardship and to see the exciting new ways that you take it and the way that you support the community and bring it close together in ways that Tara and I could never have imagined. That’s really I think what I’m looking forward to the most.

Tara: Mm hmm.

Cate: We had some ideas. We’ve been talking about maybe a family podcast. I would like to try something where it’s literally sitting around the table chatting about WordPress, have some hosts. So we might try some different formats. I know to get started we’re going to look at maybe some people that you are familiar with in the community, but that are doing some different kinds of things in that community. It would seem that COVID has been an opportunity for a lot of people to start thinking outside the box when it comes to events and meetups, and what does community look like, and how we can come together. So, I’m not quite as outgoing as Topher is, so it gives me a little time to get comfortable with the whole format. But also I think it’s nice to take a look at just the new things happening.

Tara: Yeah. I know you’ve been really involved with Big Orange Heart. So I’m sure that that connection also has introduced you to a lot of people in the community and are doing amazing things for the community. That would be great to chat with on Hallway Chats.

Cate: Yeah, it’s been crazy. I’ve talked to more people during lockdown than I think I did in any given year. But between I was initially involved with organizing WordCamp US. So I got into more of that angle, which brought me into helping out with Big Orange Heart. So the number of people I have met doing things has just exploded.

Topher: Something that I’ve been struck by in years with dealing with HeroPress is what it means to be a well-known person. I’ve run into communities that are very insular. The Nigerian WordPress community is very large. There are a ton of people doing really great things, and inside that community they kind of all know each other. And so if you would ask one of them, “should we interview this person?” they’re like, “Ah, they’ve been on a podcast a lot.” But you wouldn’t know them.

So I want to delve into those communities. I don’t want to find those people who are doing great things in some other community that you’re never going to run into by accident. I don’t know. Connect the strings around the world from place to place.

Tara: Yeah. Well, you have such an archive of HeroPress stories. I mean, it would be really interesting maybe. Liam and I talked about this. I’m just like, but it’d be really interesting to like go back to somebody who wrote a piece for HeroPress couple of years ago and see what they’re up to now and chat with them. That’d be kind of cool. You’ve got such a worldwide audience with HeroPress that I think you can take Hallway Chats all over. It’s great.

Topher: Yeah.

Cate: Well…

Topher: We’re going to…Go ahead.

Cate: I was thinking then as we… something we talked about as we launch life in, you know, living out of the RV and traveling around, maybe we can get into some more impersonal Hallway Chat conversations, you know.

Tara: Mm hmm, love that.

Cate: You know, just pull up next to a coffee shop and have a chat.

Tara: Yeah. Wow. Awesome. Great ideas.

Topher: There are two or three sequels essays on HeroPress. People who’ve come back years later and done one. And I can see this being a replacement for that sort of thing. Because they’re cool stories but a lot of times, it’s more of the same. “WordPress continued to be awesome in my life.” But a podcast would be a different way to say that. So I can see totally going back into the archives of HeroPress and finding people that… sometimes I don’t talk to people for a couple of years after an essay and say, “Hey, what’s going on?”

Cate: Yeah. One thing we want to be really careful with and we kind of started at the very beginning is making sure that as we look at expanding HeroPress that there’s something more. That we make sure that all of the offers, all the essay contributors are included in that process, and get to be involved in ways that fit them best, you know, so that as new things are opened up, they have first opportunities, they have the opportunities to be a part of Hallway Chats. Because, I mean, it’s great that we had an idea and HeroPress happened, but without people contributing essays, without the community really being behind it, HeroPress is nothing.

Topher: I recently went to look up a HeroPress contributor from four years ago. I pulled up an essay, and there are all the links in the sidebar, you know, and I clicked on her Twitter handle and it was closed. Like, “that’s sad.” And I clicked on her website. She had her own little agency and it was gone—404. And I checked Facebook, gone. I thought, “Oh, no.” She’s in England, so I went to the UK slack. I said, “Does anybody know this person?” And somebody suggested a guy that I talked to who happened to have the same last name as her. And he said, “She’s doing great. We have a 2-year-old now.” And I thought, “Oh, boy, that’s so much better.”

Cate: I was going to say having a 2-year-old is not better. But I see where you’re going with that.

Tara: You had me worried for a minute.

Cate: Yeah, profoundly beyond the 2-year-olds make things better stage.

Liam: I don’t know. Every stage is just magical in its own way and a headache in its own way.

Cate: I’m enjoying the magical stage where the kids go out and buy groceries and bring me back a Starbucks.

Topher: They did that during this podcast—while we were recording. We got a text that said, “We’re going out for coffee. We’ll be back.”

Tara: Wow. We did not build in that support stuff into our Hallway Chats process. That’s definitely something to add on, I think. Nice.

Cate: I’ll add it to the checklist. You know, this is my first contribution to an organizational process.

Tara: Coffee delivery midway through.

Liam: Value of team. The value of team.

Cate: Exactly. So are we at a good spot to talk about what you two are doing next?

Tara: Sure.

Liam: Sweet. Yeah, I think so.

Tara: Yeah, Liam go ahead.

Liam: So what’s next? What’s next? In recent years, I have really started to focus a bit more locally in a geographic sense and a little bit less centric on the internet itself. So less focused on WordPress and the WordPress community in a global sense, and more kind of who are the folks and the businesses and the community directly around me. Again, in a geographic sense.

I don’t really know why. I didn’t wake up any day and say, “You know what, here’s where I want to go.” But I think over time, influenced by the fact that I’ve now lived where I live today in suburban Philadelphia longer than I’ve lived anywhere as an adult, it really feels like home to me. I could see moving at some point, but I have no immediate plans. So it was just kind of a… what’s that silly little song? “Who are the people in your neighborhood?”

Topher: Yes.

Liam: And just kind of getting around that. So I’ve been doing some networking, doing some podcasting locally, doing some community work, getting to know some more of the nonprofits in the area. And really that’s where I’m going to continue to explore and put in my own time and energy, particularly as we try to transition out of COVID and see what that all looks like. So many businesses and sectors really got hammered by all the different challenges of the pandemic. That’s what is on my immediate horizon in terms of community activity and podcasting. Tara.

Tara: So, a couple of years ago, year and a half ago or so, I started niching down my WordPress website agency Design TLC to focus on building websites and working with small schools enrichment programs and education-focused nonprofits. That is a mouthful. But it is something I feel pretty passionate about. I had worked with a few organizations within that industry category and decided that’s what I wanted to do. So I’ve been spending the past year and a half or so really getting to know that community and engaging with that community in order to be a thought leader there and to meet other thought leaders there.

I’ve made some friends with some people who consult with small schools in various ways. So I’m actually launching another podcast around the same time that this episode will air. So no resting on my laurels, but also utilizing those processes that Liam and I created to do a new podcast called Mindful School Marketing, which will be talking about marketing for schools, but also talking about all the things that help people be better marketers, better people, doing things more efficiently. This is network success that we use on Hallway Chats, just finding success however you define it, which is a holistic thing, right?

If you are healthier, happier, more mindful, you will probably be better at what you do, whether it’s marketing for a school or working at FedEx, or whatever you’re doing. I think that it’s really important to think about that. So it’s very broad, which is kind of nice in a way to have that broadness of topics to cover. So we’re just getting that underway and just starting to record some episodes next week, actually. So yeah, from one podcast to the other. But this one is definitely a community-focused podcast, but it also for me, to be honest, is also a business endeavor. So I’m looking forward to that as well.

Topher: Don’t forget to add the coffee delivery to your new podcast.

Tara: I’m going to add. Already noted. Already noted. Coffee delivery.

Cate: That’s just so exciting. Those are both areas that I think you get glossed over and areas that can really use some extra attention, particularly coming out of the pandemic. The pandemic really highlighted some weaknesses there that I think you both are going to do an excellent job of helping to turn around. And it’ll be exciting to come back and see how it’s gone and see what impact you’ve been able to have in a new community as well.

Topher: Maybe you can be on Hallway Chats in a while.

Tara: Yeah. Well, we appreciate your support. Thank you so much. Do we want to wrap this thing up and get it ready to go?

Topher: Let’s do it.

Tara: All right. Well, normally we ask people where they can be found online, but when this airs, you can be found on Hallwaychats.com.

Topher: That’s right.

Tara: Anyplace else you’d like people to follow HeroPress?

Cate: Yeah. We’ve got all the HeroPress things. So HeroPress on Twitter. We’ve got a website and I think we have a Facebook page. I’ve recently made a LinkedIn page. It’s really funny HeroPress has always just kind of passively happened in our life and it’s a very strange getting everything organized and figuring out where the weaknesses are, what we still need to focus on. Yeah, HeroPress and Hallway Chats will both be around together working together.

Topher: Years ago when HeroPress first started, I thought, “I need to be absolutely everywhere.” So I created a Tumblr account, an Instagram account, and all kinds of stuff. I didn’t really do much with them. But just this week I’ve been experimenting with a new plugin from Emile called Revive Old Posts, which will go into your archive and bring one out. You can connect it to all kinds of stuff including Tumblr, and Instagram, and all that. So just to test it out. I did that. So, HeroPress essay one came out today, pushed to Tumblr and also Russian social network called VK, which is very popular in Europe. So I expect we’re going to start being a lot more places.

Tara: Cool. I can’t wait to see what…

Liam: Great things already. Great things already. I’m thrilled to see where it goes.

Topher: Your best path is Google HeroPress and pick the network you like best.

Tara: All right. Okay. Well, this has been a monumental episode and talked more than we usually do. But we are excited for you and we’re grateful to you. And apparently, Amazon is too.

Topher: Great.

Tara: I did not follow my instructions in muting my phone.

Topher: Thank you. Thank you both for what you’ve done and giving us the opportunity to continue to make it great.

Tara: All right. Well, until we meet again.

Liam: Thank you for taking over the mantle.

Cate: Thank you.

Liam: Tara, it’s been a huge pleasure. Thanks.

Tara: Thank you, Liam. Love you.

Liam: Love you too.

Tara: All right, I’m going to be to stop recording. Farewell.

Tara: If you like what we’re doing here – meeting new people in our WordPress community – we invite you to tell others about it. We’re on iTunes and at hallwaychats.com.

Liam: Better yet, ask your WordPress friends and colleagues to join us on the show. Encourage them to complete the “Be on the show” form on our site, to tell us about themselves.

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