Weekly Update April 29-May 14, 2017

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, especially with Navy Reserve duties.   This update will cover some of the stuff I’ve been working on this month to make up for that.

I’ve made some changes to the way I track things and what I’ll be sharing here.  That means I don’t have the weekly goals this time, but they’ll be back June 12.  To make this more meaningful for both you and me, I’m also going to start including my takeaways for the week; this will show not just what I did, but what I got out of it too.


Support/Happiness

I completed a couple courses on Lynda.com:

I started reading Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet, by Ron Kaufman


Development

[WordPress Plugin] Hawaiian Howdy.

Purpose:  Hawaiianizes the “Howdy” message you see when you’re logged in to WordPress, based on time of day.  This is my first plugin and a very basic way for me to start learning development.

I thought I had this just about working and then I discovered a bug.  I basically started over and almost have the first version ready.  I’ll set up a page up on the site with more information and get it pushed to GitHub when I launch more content in June.

[WordPress Site] The Store.

Purpose:  This is a website re-design for a brick-and-mortar store I’m doing for a family member.

Weekly Progress:  I’m continuing to name and organize photos.

[Learning] Git & GitHub

Purpose:  As I start working on projects, I want to make sure my work is backed up the “right” way, and not by saving multiple different files/folders on my computer.  It’s time to start adding on to my toolbox.

 

Weekly Update April 22-28, 2017

Weekly GoalsWeekly Progress Report - April 27-May 2

I decided to record what goals I’m reaching each week.  This will help keep me on track and let me see how things are going over time.

WordPress.org Forums: 3 hours
WordPress.com Forums: 5 hours
Learning – Customer Service/Happiness: 2 hours
Learning – Development: 2 hours
Development/Projects: 2 hours

Support

Courses.  I took several courses on Lynda.com.

Writing.  Support Driven started their 2017 Writing Challenge today with the topic:

Motivation: What makes you excited about working in customer support? Each of us has a path that landed us here – but what keeps you going month after month?

I accepted the challenge and wrote a response called, “How Customer Support is Motivated by Selfishness.”  I haven’t written much in the past, but plan to continue moving forward.  This is definitely the longest post I have written, coming in with over 700 words.  It explains how I got into customer support and why I don’t plan on leaving.


Development

[WordPress Plugin] Hawaiian Howdy.

I did quite a bit of learning before I started coding anything, but I couldn’t wait any longer.  I started working on a very basic plugin (that I will share soon) that Hawaiianizes the WordPress “Howdy” message.  The plugin is object-oriented and displays a different message depending on the time of day.  The best part:  it’s mine and it works!

[Website] The Store.

Project Scope:  This is a website re-design for a brick-and-mortar store I’m doing for a family member.

Weekly Progress:  I reorganized product photos and did a little research into how other businesses have their sites set up.

How Customer Support is Motivated by Selfishness

Keep Yourself Motivated for Customer Support

The Support Driven Spring 2017 Writing Challenge starts today and there is a new challenge every two weeks.

The Writing Challenge is designed to be a fun way to encourage us to write more! The goal of the challenge is to write one “Presentable Piece” every 2 weeks – but you are welcome to set your own goals instead/as well.

Today’s Topic:  Motivation:  What makes you excited about working in customer support?  Each of us has a path that landed us here – but what keeps you going month after month?

The short answer is that I’m in customer support because I’m selfish.

How I Got Started in Customer Support

I was extremely lucky to be raised in a family that taught me the Aloha Spirit, even though I didn’t grow up in Hawai’i.  My upbringing taught me  to be caring, thoughtful, and respectful of others.  Beyond God, the phrase “Live Aloha” guides everything I do.  Everything.

Let me start by saying I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit Hawai’i with my grandparents for their 50th anniversary when I was 13 years old.  I was instantly drawn to the Aloha Spirit  and the scenery can’t be beat!  I’ve had a very strong passion – though others often claim it’s an obsession – for Hawai’i ever since.

I really got into customer service through the message boards on Hawaii.com around the year 2000.  I don’t remember if I started at the end of high school or the beginning of college, but it was around that time.  It started with me looking something up on their website, then I stumbled upon the message boards.  I had to read through a few of the posts out of curiosity.  It didn’t take long before I found an unanswered question that I knew and was more than happy to be able to share my knowledge.  After that, I started searching for other stuff I knew.  Pretty soon, I was spending a couple hours a day on there.  I was learning/teaching about Hawai’i and helping others solve their questions.  Perfect!  I knew this was the type of thing I wanted to do.  The message boards became a regular activity for me until I left for the U.S. Navy in 2004.  I still keep in touch with several friends I made on those message boards to this day.

Fast forward to the end of 2015 and the same exact thing happened with WordPress.  Now I have a daily goal of spending at least 90 minutes between the WordPress.org and WordPress.com forums.

I’ve mostly worked in customer support and that’s the way I like it.  Here’s a list of the main things I’ve done or am currently doing:

  • Volunteer on Hawaii.com Message Boards
  • US Navy (veteran)
  • Technical Support Analyst
  • US Navy Reserve (currently)
  • Information Technology Specialist (currently)
  • Volunteer on WordPress.org Support Team & Forums (currently)
  • Local Volunteer Fire Department (currently)
  • Volunteer on WordPress.com Forums (currently)

As you can see, I really like serving others.

What Keeps me in Customer Support

Now, back to the actual topic for today.  What keeps me going?  Like I said above, I’m greedy, selfish, or whatever word you want to describe it.  I do customer support because of the feeling I get when I’m able to help someone.

Some people don’t like customer support because you are often dealing with people that are already upset.  Guess what?  It’s that way by definition.  They wouldn’t be contacting you if there wasn’t an issue.  Put yourself in their shoes.  You’re not happy when something goes wrong, are you?

Instead of seeing it as “dealing with them,” try to look at things from a different perspective.  Think of the great opportunity you’ve just been given.  It may take a couple hours or it may take five minutes, but you can completely turn that person’s day around.  It may not seem like much to you, but to them it may be huge.  I helped a person with something I considered fairly basic.  Remember, things are only basic once you know the answer or where to look.  It took two minutes of my day to reply.  Here’s how they responded.

Thank you so very much for ALL this info! This is exactly what I needed and am grateful to you for assisting and pointing me in the right direction. This is super-duper helpful.

How can that not make you feel great?  That’s exactly the reason that I’m in customer support and will continue to be – month after month, year after year.

 

My Goal to be More Focused and Productive

Time to Focus

Happy New Year!  My New Year’s resolution is short, but it’s a big one:  increase productivity and spend more time learning.  And I want to do this while not sacrificing family time.  I’m starting 2017 off with a new daily guide and a “Now” page, wpadventure.com/now.

I’m not one of those people that always complain about having nothing to do.  In fact, I’m quite the opposite; I have too many interests and not enough time.  Having a lot of interests may sound like a good thing, but it’s tough.  With such a big list, it’s hard to figure out where to begin.  The result?  I have an ever-growing list of things I want to learn but haven’t started working on any of them.

This new page is what’s going to keep me focused.  It’s a simple but practical concept.  If I’m working on something that’s not on the list, I need to ask myself if it should be.  If it’s something that needs to be added, I’ll add it.  If it’s not something that should be added, I need to stop working on it and add it to my list of stuff to work on in the future.

Planning My Time

I’m referring to this as a guide to keep my priorities straight rather than goals or a schedule.  To me, a schedule is something you keep and goals are what you are trying to achieve.  With the craziness that is life, I have no intention of completing all these each day, as much as I would like to.  You can read about other stuff keeping me busy on my personal site, geoffreyshilling.com/now.  While I would love to devote more time, my ‘ohana, or family, comes first.  They are why I do what I do.  My family influences every decision I make.

I usually wake up a few hours before I have to be at work each day and around the same time on weekends.  This is going to allow me to get most of this stuff done before the big part of my day begins.  I’m just getting started, so this list may change as I figure out what works best.

Daily Guide:

  • WordPress.org Forums: 30 minutes, plus regular moderator/spam checks
  • WordPress.com Forums:  60 minutes
  • Learning:  45 minutes
  • Blogging/Site Planning:  15 minutes
  • Reading (non-WordPress): 30 minutes

Are you interested in seeing what I’m working on?  Check the Now page.  Do you have a Now page of your own?  Please share a link to it in the comments below.  I’d also love to hear how you stay focused and manage your time.  Let’s get this year started off right.  Here’s to a wonderful 2017 for all of us!

The WordPress Adventure of a Lifetime

The Adventure

WP Adventure is where I’m going to share my experiences with WordPress.  I know that’s a pretty broad topic, but I’m interested in many aspects of WordPress.  You’re going to see everything from news updates to support and development.  I’m hoping others following a similar path will be able to take away some useful information.

This isn’t just some day trip to the beach.  No, this is going to be the trip of a lifetime.  Things may change as time goes on, but I’m planning to write about the following topics:

  • Tutorials
  • Resources/reviews of products or services I find useful
  • My experiences at WordCamps – I aim for three each year, including WordCamp US
  • Code snippets, plugins, and themes
  • Support-related topics
  • My successes to help others follow suit
  • My failures to prevent others from going down this path

Where I’m Starting

While you don’t need to know everything about me to follow along, it may help to know where I’m starting from.  This way you can see where you are in your own adventure compared to where I am in mine.  Here’s what I’m working with as I launch this site:

  • Member of the WordPress.org Support Team
  • Volunteer moderator for the WordPress.org Support Forums
  • Volunteer on the WordPress.com forums
  • Host a couple sites for friends and family
  • Hold a degree in Computer Information Systems that focused on more conventional programming languages such as C, C++, and Java. Outside of a few small projects, I haven’t done any real programming since then
  • Have no formal web development training
    • did have one HTML class in college, but my professor had less experience than me
    • Taught myself HTML and CSS back in the late 1990’s
  • Understand basic PHP and have worked on several small projects with the use of references
  • Understand basic JavaScript, but have little experience with it

Where I’m Headed

As with where I’m starting, it’s good to know what my plans are to see if you are even interested in following along.  Listed in no particular order, here’s some of the goals I’m aiming for:

  • Continuing WordPress Support
    • Be more active on both the WordPress.org and WordPress.com Support Forums
  • Learn PHP, JavaScript, Git/SVN, WP-CLI, Trac, and more advanced CSS, WP REST API
  • Become a WordPress Developer
  • Become a WordPress core contributor
  • Organize/Co-organize a local WordPress meetup
  • Get more involved with WordCamps I attend
    • WCUS 2016 was my first time volunteering at one
    • Speak at a WordCamp
      • This will be big for me because I’m generally a pretty quiet person

That’s it for Day One

You’ll notice the rest of the site is starting out pretty empty, except for a contact page.  I’m going to be creating the content for the “About” page next.  Part of this process will also be going over what I’m putting on that page and why.

Note:  I would generally not recommend starting your website this way.  Besides having the basics ready to go when you launch,, I would have at least 3-5 posts so your visitors have more than a single post to read.  Although I’m launching the site today, I won’t actually be doing much promotion or sharing until I have more content.

Things may not be the most organized at times, so please bear with me.  Like I said, I’m going to be figuring things out as I go.

In keeping with the open nature of WordPress, all content you will see on this site is licensed CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 and any code is licensed GPLv2, unless otherwise noted.

One last thing:  WordPress 4.7 (and the Twenty Seventeen theme) was released today!  Go check it out!  I am loving what I have seen of the new theme!

Let the Adventure Begin

I invite you to join me on this exciting adventure.  Happy WordPressing!