Marc Benzakein Speaker Interview


Marc Benzakein of ServerPress

Marc Benzakein has been working online since the mid 90s, starting as a Network Administrator for a small, independent ISP in Southern California and has been involved in almost all aspects of technology. In 2009, he started developing in WordPress, first for his own purposes and then for clients. In early 2013, he got involved with ServerPress, LLC, makers of DesktopServer, a local development tool created for WordPress designers and developers.

Marc lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with his wife, Jessica and two children, Eli (9) and Brenna (4).

Marc will be presenting “How to Rock a WordCamp Even if You’re a Total n00b”.

Why do you use WordPress?

Because WordPress is awesome. Not only as a CMS but as a Community Project. I’m a huge proponent of community in every possible aspect of life. The WordPress Project proves that Community can help businesses grow while maintaining a code of ethics.

When and how did you start using WordPress?

I started using WordPress for my own personal purposes in 2009 and once I discovered how easy it was to customize it into a website platform, I was sold.

What would you tell someone to convince them to attend a WordCamp?

Nowhere will you get more bang for your buck when it comes to business, community involvement and learning opportunities. It’s not like any other conference out there.

Tell us about something awesome you’ve experienced at a WordCamp in the past.

(1) It happened this past weekend at WordCamp Milwaukee. I sat down with one of the presenters who is blind. She spoke about accessibility and, after talking some, she wanted to test out our software to see how we addressed accessibility issues. To be honest, we had never really considered the layout of our software from an accessibility standpoint. While it made perfect sense to someone with sight, I was shown ways in which we could improve our software as I watched her work through the process.

It was a definite “”eye-opener”” for me and is not something that would have had as great of an impact had I not seen it first-hand.

(2) Also at Milwaukee, I was able to bring my kids down for Saturday. They had a BLAST! What other business conference environment can you think of where people can bring their kids AND feel welcome and part of the action?

Give an example of a cool WordPress project you have worked on recently.

We are working on DesktopServer 4.0. That’s all I can say right now, other than it’s going to be frickin’ awesome!

What advice do you have for anyone looking to start or grow a WordPress based business?

Get involved with the Community as one of your first steps. You’ll learn so much from it and you’ll get to contribute almost right away. Before you know it, you’ll have a leg up where you might have struggled before. It’s the most accepting, helpful community I’ve ever been a part of.

Tell us something awesome about yourself that is not WordPress related.

There is nothing that I do without my family in mind. Most people figure that part out within 5 minutes of meeting me.

Name someone in the WordPress community who inspires you.

Pippin (and not why you think). I was just recently at WordCamp Kansas City and I was lucky enough to spend some time hanging out with Pippin. After Saturday’s sessions, a group of about 15 of us went out to dinner.

As happens with many WordPress events, someone springs for the tab. In this case, Pippin paid for the meal. But that was not the amazing part to me. What was amazing was the understated way in which he did it. In fact, half of the people there didn’t even know WHO paid for their meal. While some might make a big show of paying for everyone, Pippin did it in the most humble way possible. I found that very appealing and inspirational.

The WordPress Community is full of people that will pay but finding the humble ones that have more talent and more to give in their little pinky than most have in their entire bodies is rare.

What has been your biggest WordPress related accomplishment to date?

Speaking at WordCamps. It took me a long time to conclude that I had something to give back in that way and then overcome my fear of speaking in front of a crowd (ok – I still cope with that). I am thrilled that I have been able to speak at several WordCamps now and it’s even better when people contact me later and tell me that they learned something!

How have WordCamps impacted you and your business in the past?

Plain and simple: If it weren’t for WordCamps, our company would not have gotten the exposure that it has. People use it in their presentations, both actively and as a reference. We would not be where we are if it were not for WordCamps.

Fill in the blank for other attendees: “If you __________ then you should come talk to me at WordCamp”.

Run a WordPress based business.

What should someone learn before attending your talk at WordCamp Ann Arbor?

Nothing. I am happy to answer any questions to the best of my ability and I try to keep my topics basic and understandable no matter what level of experience you might have.

What is your favorite WordPress related resource?

My business partner Gregg. He is always ON TOP of things. Always!

Where can we find you online?

Marc Benzakein on Google+
MarcBenzak on Yo (yes, I have yo although I’m not sure why yet)