WP BootCamp Austin Recap

WP BootCamp Austin

WP BootCamp Austin was our last planned training event for 2015 and we wrapped it up with a bang! There are so many incredible thoughts and highlights to share so let’s get started

Military Day: Friday

On Friday, October 16, we offered a special training and networking day for military veterans, military spouses, military caregivers, and active duty personnel. We had men and women representing all of the U.S. Armed Forces in a wide range of ages.

We started the day sharing the mission and purpose of Happy Joe with our attendees, before teaching them about the incredible career and business opportunities available in WordPress and the web technology industry. They learned the importance of building a brand and how to gain credibility in the WordPress community. Our attendees then had the opportunity to share their needs and concerns in a group setting, which was an amazing and eye-opening experience! The Happy Joe team learned how we could best help veterans in the Austin area.

After we had our fill of delicious Pok-E-Jo’s barbecue, the afternoon was kicked off with a great session, Starting Off Right with WordPress by Nick and Sandi Batik. Kerry Carron shared valuable advice on Five WordPress Business Strategies that Work and we had an awesome panel discussion with Enrique Macias, Allan Montalvo, Dustin Howes, and Clyde Melendez — all military veterans who work at WP Engine. The WP Engine team openly shared their challenges and victories in the web tech world.

One of the most touching events of the afternoon was when Steven Giddings told his inspiring story. Steven is a disabled veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as an 11 Bravo Infantryman before being shot in the neck by an enemy sniper. He told us about his battle with depression and alcoholism and how he had tried to commit suicide on several occasions. Steven’s life was changed when he met Glenn Banton, CEO of Operation Supply Drop, and was given the opportunity to serve with OSD.

The day wrapped up with questions and answers, networking, and relationship building. The feedback from our attendees was overwhelmingly positive and they truly appreciated WP BootCamp Military Day and the sponsors who made this happen!

WP BootCamp: Saturday

WP BootCamp Austin Attendees

Saturday was the complete WP BootCamp event where everyone was welcome to attend, whether they were military or not. We had 75 people filling the seats at For The City Center, a beautiful venue and coworking building.

Our day was kicked off with an overview of the Happy Joe and WP BootCamp mission, along with four powerful sessions. Pat Ramsey rocked it with his talk on Freelancer to Serious Professional and Stu Smith made a huge impact with Discovering the Perfect Clients. James Dalman imparted his wisdom on Focusing on Your Strengths and Earning More Money by Selling Value. We also can’t forget Taylor Christensen who taught several teenagers WordPress at Kids Camp!

Lunch was graciously provided by Pok-E-Jo’s and sponsored by WP Engine. The food was absolutely top notch!

The early afternoon sessions were fantastic. Sheryle Gillihan smashed a home run with her talk, The Art of Negotiation, and Ashley Kegley-Whitehead really brought it with her advice on Building Your Brand. We finished this off with a panel session with our cadre of instructors where attendees got honest answers to their questions.

In the late afternoon, our attendees received valuable special sessions including Starting Off Right with WordPress by Nick Batik, How To Theme: A Design Workflow For WP Theming by Joel GoodmanDesigner’s Experience: Professional Advice for Designers by Trent Walton, and Developer’s Experience: Professional Advice for Developers by Pat Ramsey.

While ALL of the WP BootCamp Austin sessions were outstanding, the best and most valuable aspect of our event was the time we built in for coaching, networking, and relationship building.

There were so many conversations taking place amongst all of our attendees and they had the opportunity to connect with our instructors and get coaching in the afternoon. I personally was able to meet with five people and help them in various ways. This doesn’t include the dozens of conversations had throughout the day.

Overall Thoughts

WP BootCamp Austin SponsorsThis WP BootCamp was different from the format we had used for our other three events but it was equally good. We didn’t have a perfect event and we learned a lot about how we can make the experience better, but overall I believe it was a huge success. The speakers, team members, support personnel, and attendees were amazing.

The best thing for me personally was the positive affirmation from our attendees.

The response to WP BootCamp was extremely positive. People told us they were blown away, that what we presented changed their lives, how much value we delivered in a short time, and how they can’t wait for next year’s bootcamps. Happy Joe has a lot of testimonials we will be posting soon so you can read for yourself what people are saying.

Happy Joe also recorded the entire WP BootCamp Austin event so we will have videos and audio available in the next few weeks!

Special Thanks!

None of these WP BootCamps would have been possible without the generosity of our partners and the individuals who donated tickets to veterans. There really are so MANY of you to thank and to give props too. Happy Joe would like to salute the following companies for being the forerunners in making a difference in the lives of the military community:


A very special thanks and salute must go out to Nick and Sandi Batik who went above and beyond the call to duty! They did all the hard work in making WP BootCamp Austin a reality and there’s not enough space to say how much they did. I look forward to our partnership with them and their help with future WP BootCamps.

All of our team members and support team who showed up, cleaned up, wrangled people, bought water, and did the grunt work: Mike Gillihan, Kerry Carron, Celeste Epstein, Kimarie Rahman Bey, Jackie Dana, Ryan Schoenbeck, Chris Schmitt, Donetta Dalman, and Joshua Shipsey are just some of the great folks who served. Props to Rachel Graham and the WP Engine team for being involved.


Pat Ramsey, Sheryle Gillihan, Ashley Kegley-Whitehead, Stu Smith, Joel Goodman, Trent Walton, Taylor Christensen, Steven Giddings, Nick and Sandi Batik, and WP Engine Team.


Last but certainly not least, thank you to all of our attendees! You showed up and brought the energy and even helped tear down at the end. It’s because of you we do what we do!


We sincerely appreciate For The City Center and The Vessel Coworking space for providing us the space to have WP BootCamp Austoin

Photo credits: Austin T. Wells and Sandi Batik

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