If you have been around in the blogging or WordPress community for any length of time, am sure you must have heard of Chris Lema. If you have been living under a rock – let me introduce him.
Chris is a very, very, very, very active WordPress community member , author of several bestselling books “Creating a Done Done Culture, Building & Managing Virtual Teams, etc”, coach for startups, frequent speaker at WordCamps & other meetups. He is Chief Technology Officer at Crowd Favorite.
Chris is extremely passionate about coaching new entrepreneurs and shares his experiences in his own honest, no-nonsense manner. You can find some of his videos on Youtube.
With his ability to engage with people at all levels and give as much as he can, Chris is definitely a crowd favorite 🙂
Now, over to Chris Lema –
1. Tell us about your WordPress journey – your transition from being a beginner, to a blogger and eventually a coach?
I started working with WordPress a long time ago. So back then, it was much easier, and easier to learn. The benefit of starting then was that with each new change, all I had to learn was the incremental changes. I think sometimes we forget that when we tell people WordPress today is really easy. It’s straightforward, that much is true. But I’m not sure it’s easy anymore.
I started blogging with WordPress years ago as well, but only for my coaching clients. I’ve been coaching people for ten or more years, as I had started, run, and sold several startups by that point. So my blog was just for my coaching clients and I would write once a month (maybe). It wasn’t until 3 years ago that I refreshed the blog, changed the target and started trying to add more value to more people than just a few clients.
2. Chief product strategist, blogger, public speaker, passionate coach for startups and entrepreneurs…you are like a Swiss Army Knife! How do you juggle all these roles ?
I juggle the roles by keeping them pretty close to each other. So I blog about WordPress and WordPress products. I coach people who are creating WordPress products. When I speak, it’s about WordPress. And most of the entrepreneurs and startups I talk with are trying to step into the WordPress ecosystem.
And now, my full time job at Crowd Favorite, is about WordPress. So by keeping the circle close, I can tackle a lot of things that makes a list sound big, when in fact, it’s not that big at all.
3. You seem to be absolutely comfortable speaking at WordCamps and so many other conferences – were you always so confident ? Or have you ever had to deal with the fear of public speaking ?
I get nervous 45 minutes before I get on stage. That’s the same for everyone. Regardless of what they say. But the truth is that I’ve been speaking to crowds of people since I was 16. I’m not sixteen anymore. So I have a lot more experience than most.
I started blogging because I moved from Northern California to Southern and had no one inviting me to speak. So blogging was a secondary channel for storytelling. But I’m a speaker more than a writer. In the end, most of us get nervous about failing at something. Eventually you learn to manage that fear by doing it often.
4. In hindsight, were there any major mistakes that you made while starting out – that eventually taught you an important lesson ?
When I first spoke at a WordCamp, it was my second camp I’d spoken at, I made a comment about Facebook comments. Now mind you, I was a seasoned speaker who was new to this ecosystem. But I had the crowd listening, engaged and laughing. And towards the end I said something like, “you may want to check this out…” in reference to Facebook and what they were doing with comments.
It turned out Matt Mullenweg was in the room. He didn’t know me from Adam. And he publicly tweeted at me that I was wrong. I’m not sure how you can be wrong about “you may want to check this out,” but it was clear I had said something he didn’t like.
Several of his friends saw the tweet and RT’d it. So there I am – a new person to the ecosystem, but engaging a big group of people who were new to WordPress, doing it well, for free, on a weekend, and getting blasted on twitter in a way that didn’t feel very appreciative of my volunteering.
I went home that day wondering what to do – because certainly my skills and experience could be put to use in better ways. But here’s what I took away. First, tweets are ephemeral. They last on a wall for about 12 seconds. So really, who cares.
Second, the WordPress ecosystem is bigger than one person – even if he’s the founder of everything. Third, my goal and focus wasn’t to please a particular person, but to engage a community and help them move forward. So I stopped thinking about it, moved on, and started blogging and speaking to help evangelize WordPress.
5. What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs out there ?
Marketing is hard. Way harder than coding something. Coding is simple (in comparison). It’s binary. It either works or it doesn’t. Marketing is never so clear. So the founding pair of a company should include a developer but also someone testing the market non-stop.
6. You have quite a few books out on Amazon – can you tell us what’s the next book you are working on ?
I am wrapping up a book on corporate blogging.
7. With all the traveling that you do, how do you manage to find time for your family ?
I limit how much I travel in any month. Make sure I take time each day and week for family when I’m not traveling. And make sure I schedule vacations – in advance, so they’re a priority.
You can follow Chris on Twitter