WordCamp San Francisco 2013 Liveblog: Carrie Dils

WordCampSFThis weekend, I’m watching the livestream of WordCamp San Francisco and liveblogging about some of the best sessions.

I’ve already blogged about the talks from Natalie MacleesTracy Levesque, and Grant Landram.

To round out my posts from the weekend, I wanted to share with you Texas-based Carrie Dils‘ inspiring and entertaining talk entitled “Collaboration Not Competition.”

Carrie began with an amusing anecdote about a childhood business and her preteen competitor, Andy. Amusing anecdotes are always a good way to engage people in the first talk after a soporific lunch!

She then went on to discuss competition and collaboration.

What is competition?

Two people moving towards the same slice of pie.

  • Competition drives innovation: For example, Android created the open-source Android marketplace, which was more innovative than the existing iTunes store ecosystem.
  • Competition improves products.
  • Competition empowers customers: Customers have the power of choice (for instance, between 50 types of toilet paper!).

What is collaboration?

The action of working with someone to produce something.

  • Collaboration ups our game: As in the proverb: “As iron shapes iron, one person sharpens another.”
  • Collaboration improves our ideas.

Think about what you are good at. Every person has a different skill set. When it comes to collaborating, you want to find someone who fills your void, so you will create a good package together.


However, after this discussion of competition and collaboration, Carrie turned her talk to the idea of both of these things coexisting. The term “coopetition” relates to exactly that: being both in competition with someone, and collaborating with them.

She used a quote from Jay Leno: “There’s no reason to think competition has to be adversarial.”

Highlighting this point was another amusing anecdote about running at 10k race side-by-side with her longtime running Dad, then getting near the end and deciding to beat him.

Next, Carrie talked about what I see to be the elephant in every WordPress-meetup room. She urged people not to mock and demean others whose skillset is not as good as their own, and encouraged people to look around and find someone to mentor who is inspired and wants to learn. “Be careful with your words!” she cautioned.

I know this feeling all too well, as it can be hard to break into the walled fortress of the WordPress geeks. And that is, in fact, precisely what I’m trying to break down here on WP SuperGeek. So that was music to my ears!

To finish her talk, Carrie outlined some ways to work together:

  • Officially at WordPress.org: look at make.wordpress.org (volunteer) as a great way to start collaborating.
  • Locally at WordCamps and meetups: volunteer, organise, speak, etc.
  • Globally: meet people online (in a non-creepy way, of course!).

I found Carrie’s talk really inspiring. It can be daunting, when starting out with WordPress, to dive into the community. It already seems like such a tight-knit group of people who know everything! But I love her democratising rally-cry of encouraging the experts to mentor others and embrace the spirit of “coopetition.”

The calibre of the talks at WordCamp this year was excellent. The speakers were engaging, entertaining, and passionate about what they were talking about. They all spoke from notes, as opposed to reading their talks from a piece of paper. This made such a difference to their message.

I hope you have enjoyed my posts from WordCamp San Francisco!

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