034: Miriam Goldman Dancing Sensei


About Miriam Goldman:

Miriam is a WordPress Technical Lead for Kanopi Studios. She started playing around with WordPress for personal projects in 2009, and for professional projects two years later. Miriam speaks at various WordCamps across North America, and is also a mentor and instructor for Ottawa’s chapter of Canada Learning Code. She has been a member of the WordCamp Ottawa organizing team since 2017, and is lead organizer for 2020.

Outside of her web development life, she is an 3rd degree black belt, plays clarinet with the Barrhaven Community Concert Band, and also competes in the pro-am categories in international Latin ballroom dance.

Find Miriam Goldman: Kanopi Studios | Twitter  | Instagram


Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
034: Miriam Goldman Dancing Sensei
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Show Notes

Transcript

Amy:
Welcome to Women in WP, a bi-monthly podcast about women who blog, design, develop and more in the WordPress community.
Angela:
Welcome to the show. I’m Angela Bowman.
Amy:
And I’m Amy Masson.
Angela:
Our guest today is Miriam Goldman, a technical lead for Kanopi studios as well as co-organizer of the Ottawa WordPress Meetup and part of the WordCamp Ottawa organizing team since 2017. Welcome, Miriam.
Miriam:
Thank you for having me.
Angela:
As you know, we like to start off each episode by asking our guests about their journey into WordPress. How did you get started?
Miriam:
So, in 2008, I was helping some friends out with their church band and they decided that they wanted to go to other churches and do some worship sections there. So, they wanted to have biographies for their little band and they knew I was a web developer so they wanted me to build them their web page but they wanted to manage their content and I had only done static HTML sites at that point. So, I did my research into all of the CMS’s that were out at the time and I felt that WordPress was the most user friendly and the easiest to do things in and that’s where I got in.
Angela:
And what year was that that you did that band website?
Miriam:
I want to say it’s 2008, maybe 2009.
Angela:
Okay. So, yeah, that’s about the same time that I was looking for a CMS and trying to figure out what’s the best one and I also came up with WordPress after experimenting with several because I thought my clients would be able to do it.
Miriam:
Exactly.
Amy:
Yeah, and that’s about the time that I started in 2007, having been a Dreamweaver person and I was just blown away that you could add pages and have them be in a menu without having to create a button for the menu and add it in your HTML. That was the thing that I was most wowed about WordPress, besides the content editing, was that the navigation just happened. What was the thing that was your big, “Wow, I really love WordPress,” moment?
Miriam:
For me, it was just the ease of the content editing and also the fact with the templating system. Because I really, really like the templating system, I didn’t have to try and build something in a frame set or anything like that.
Amy:
Yeah, having to build tables or frames was very painful.
Angela:
Yup.
Amy:
And I started with the HTML websites, too, and I was also a Dreamweaver person, Angela. And I remember there used to be, maybe there still is because I don’t do it anymore, but some global type settings you could create in Dreamweaver and apply it to your site. So, your menu and header and footer would all be the same and you didn’t have to go back and change every single page. And I remember discovering that in Dreamweaver and thinking, “Oh, wow, this is going to change everything,” and then I found WordPress where that was just how it worked.
Angela:
Yeah, yeah. I think making that transition can be so liberating but then you also, having done that, you became involved with the WordPress community. How long did it take you to find out that there even was such a thing as a WordPress community and how did you get involved?
Miriam:
It took me a long time. So, in 2013, Ottawa had their first WordCamp. So, my manager at the time, where I was working, suggested that I go so I did and I thought, “Wow, this is really cool. There’s WordPress experts who are local, who could teach me things that I could take back to my job,” so I went back the next year. And then, the following year, we didn’t have any in Ottawa so I went to the one in Montreal, only two hours away, and I started to make friends with people then. So, that’s where I got to know Shawn Hooper, that’s where I got to know Megan Haynes and I’m like, “Okay.” And then the following year is when it started to click and I’m like, “Maybe I’ll speak this year.”
So, I spoke for the first time in 2016, I did a lightning talk and, at the time, I didn’t have the confidence for public speaking. So, after I finished my talk, I’m like, “I’m never going to speak again. But hey, I’m good at organizing things, do you want help with running the camp next year?” And so, I joined the organizing team for 2017 and then things just took off because I had an idea to run a woman in WordPress panel and that was super well received and it just became accepted to WordCamp and WordCamp and WordCamp and so that’s when I started going to the more national and international community and that’s just where it all came out of, just me saying, “A panel would be a fun idea and I like helping out.”
Amy:
So, I really need to know more about the very first Women in WordPress panel. What inspired you to come up with this idea, who was on it and what did you guys talk about?
Miriam:
So, I became inspired with it because I realized that I was good at speaking, it was just the slides that I was bad with and this is when the Me Too Movement was really starting to pick up steam so I wanted to help give fellow women’s voices more of a platform at WordCamp. So, there is myself, there was my friend Christie Witt, who was also an organizer, Megan Haynes was our moderator. We also had Kathryn Presner from Montreal and we had Tina Torovic, I believe her last name is, from Montreal. Not Montreal, sorry, Toronto. And we also had another woman named Laura who wasn’t really involved in the WordPress community but she was new to WordPress.
So, I wanted to get different levels of experience, different roles. I’m a developer, Christie is a designer, Laura’s a user and we just talked about what our struggles were, getting into work for us, what our biggest accomplishments were and we talked about advice we would give women just getting started in WordPress. I don’t recall all the audience questions but we did about half prepared questions and half audience questions and we just turned it into a conversation, really.
Amy:
And why have I not ever seen this at any of the WordCamps I’ve been to? Have you been out of Canada with this idea?
Miriam:
I have. In 2017, I was in New York City, Seattle and Rochester.
Amy:
Okay.
Miriam:
2018, I was in Miami and LA and I did not go out of Canada last year. I was supposed to be in Buffalo this year but we don’t know what’s happening.
Amy:
Well, maybe some time when you’re doing that, if you need somebody from the Midwest as representative on your panel, you just give me a call.
Miriam:
And that’s actually what I’m planning on is, once I start looking at camps for next year, because I’ve already outlined my camps for this year, I’m looking at maybe Chicago, looking more around the Midwest, going out to those places. Places that I haven’t been to but I really think would be fun to visit.
Amy:
Awesome. No, I would love to at least see one of those. I haven’t been at the same camps and we did submit to do a talk, a panel like that at WordCamp US, we were not selected. I’m not bitter, it’s fine. I think, when I was newer to this, that would have been something that would have been very inspiring to see at a WordCamp is just somebody that showed up not really knowing anybody or much. I was like you, I didn’t know about the community until 2013 and, even then, it took me a few years to get comfortable introducing myself and meeting people and even longer to actually give a talk.
Angela:
Yeah, I just did a look up on WordPress.tv and there are these panels. And I think that should be assigned listening for all of the Women in WP podcast listeners and us hosts. But there’s-
Amy:
Well, we’ll put those in the show notes and-
Angela:
Yeah.
Amy:
… then everybody can go watch them and then come back and comment on them.
Miriam:
Yeah.
Angela:
I think that would be a fabulous virtual book club. We’ll have a little video WordCamp club.
Amy:
It’s homework which feels good to me since I used to be a teacher, so it makes sense.
Angela:
Yeah, good.
Amy:
Everybody go watch your shows, come back prepared to discuss, have your questions ready.
Angela:
In fact, every episode, I think, we should just assign homework and we’ll start feeling more productive with this. I am seeing here that WordCamp Miami 2018 is up, WordCamp Seattle 2017, New York City 2017, Rochester 2017 and there was, not related to you, but a Women on WordPress panel in Mumbai in 2014.
Miriam:
Oh, wow.
Angela:
So, lots to choose from there and I think that’s … Oh, and there’s also Los Angeles 2018. So, you were very busy in 2018.
Miriam:
2017, 2018, I was very busy. I was very glad for my timing in 2018 because, when I was in Los Angeles, Ottawa had a tornado. So, I basically missed a tornado hitting my city.
Amy:
Wow.
Angela:
Are you on these panels? Are you more the moderator or member of the panel and how has your sense of being a public speaker and in front of an audience evolved over time since you were so nervous that very first time?
Miriam:
So, I’ve been a moderator because I like to let other voices take center stage. I’ll interject once in a while but I rather help elevate other people’s voices than be the one who’s constantly heard. So, I found that helping to guide a conversation is just a lot more comfortable for me because, well, I’m not a teacher by profession, I’m a karate instructor and so, being a karate instructor, you learn how to guide your students. So, I’ve taken that and that’s another talk that I’ve done is called Lessons from the Dojo, that’s one of my solo talks. And so, I found that over time and then, obviously, getting comfortable with the moderation, getting more comfortable with slides, learning how to deal with Q&A and that we can thank Jill Binder’s diverse speaker training workshop, just another group that I’m involved in, and just all that combined, it’s just one of those things that just took time and just practice. And, every time I did it, I got more and more comfortable to the point where I was able to adapt one of my WordCamp talks and give it internally for whenever we do a weekly lunch and learn. And so, I gave one of my WordCamp talks internally to the company, I was very well received.
Amy:
So, for your day job, when you’re not elevating women in the WordPress community and attending WordCamps and organizing WordCamps, what is it that you do there and is it remote and tell us more about that.
Miriam:
So, at Kanopi studios, everybody is remote. So, it’s a fully distributed workforce across Canada and the US. So, my job is WordPress technical lead. So, I like to describe it as the go between the project manager and basically the non-tech lead developers, almost like I’m a senior developer with the extra step. So, my responsibilities are the architecture of the project, scoping out tasks, helping the project managers make sure that things are on track, working with the clients so they can have a face to their technical contact and also, obviously, coding as well because I’m not there just to assign stuff, I’m responsible for delivering good code as well.
Amy:
So, how many people did you say are part of the company?
Miriam:
I think we’re about 35-ish right now.
Amy:
Wow. And when you’re working on a project with that many people, I’m at some very small company and we have, depending on how you count, four to six people. I feel like, when you have 35 people, is everybody working on the same projects, is it broken up, how does that work?
Miriam:
So, it’s broken up because Kanopi does both Drupal and WordPress. So, we have a larger Drupal team than a WordPress team. So, I’m honestly not sure how they decide to divide the projects but usually you have an account lead, a client lead, a technical lead and then an additional developer or two depending on the size. So, right now, most of my projects have just one to two other developers and so, basically, I find out the task that they really like. One of my colleagues, we call her our front end goddess, she can do all these amazing things on the front end and then, we have another guy, he loves doing nav menus, he loves doing custom plugins. So, it’s like trying to figure out what type of tasks, interests fall under the strengths of my colleagues and give it to them and not just trying to hoard it all for myself. Because I like doing front end, I like doing back end, I like doing plugins but it’s share the wealth.
Amy:
That’s amazing, I feel like I just would have such a hard time trusting anyone to do anything that I was good at. So, that must be great to have colleagues that you feel are super competent in what they’re doing.
Miriam:
I truly believe that it’s good to work with people you think are smarter than you. You can be one of the most competent people in the world but I always like seeing people who are smarter and better than me in a certain aspect, it forces me to learn and get up to their level.
Angela:
Yeah, that’s awesome. Especially when you are in an environment like that, since I’m more of a solopreneur and the people that I end up contracting with or working with are doing completely different things. For example, I might be working with a designer or a content writer and I’m totally fine giving them that responsibility and I might give them more feedback about that’s going to be a bit hard to code or that’s not super practical for a responsive design and that kind of thing but what I miss in that environment is I don’t have people I can learn from. And I used to work in a software company and I love, love, love that I was surrounded by dozens of people who were smarter than me and it was just such a vibrant and an exciting space to be in and that sounds like what you have, you’re constantly stimulated by that environment.
Miriam:
And it’s so good because, at my previous employer, it was a wonderful job and I loved my colleagues. I had a great boss and my colleague was great but we were three people, we are two designers and a developer. So, my boss got us the development work, he didn’t get us anything too crazy but, basically, he’s like, “Okay, this is what we need to get done. How long do you think it’s going to take to do and how much should I charge the client?” So, I pretty much had carte blanche to do what I wanted to make sure that we got that and it was nice but, if I ran into a problem, I had nobody to bounce it off of and so I had to use my Google Foo all the time.
Angela:
Yeah, welcome to my world.
Amy:
People really underestimate how important those Google skills are.
Angela:
Yeah, I definitely feel like the only way I’ve been able to do anything that I do is through Google Foo which has its limitations and, when I’ve had a chance to work with other people, it’s definitely been awesome. So, through all of these panels that you’ve been on, has there been any themes that have emerged for you as you are talking to people and asking questions of people in terms of women’s experiences in WordPress and their career trajectories or things that either come up as challenges? Give us some highlights from some of your panels.
Miriam:
I’m just trying to remember some of them. Everyone has been different and, definitely, I’ve noticed some differences between the American panels I did and the Canadian panels I did because I did it in Ottawa and I did it in Niagara Falls and I did it in Calgary as well. Calgary, last year, they haven’t published it yet. Oddly, I found that most of the women I’ve talked to have just been so resilient and the fact that, yes, a lot of people have had environments where they’ve been mansplained to and where they’ve been undervalued but, most of the women on the panels, they’ve just been like, “I don’t need to take this.” So, they’ve just taken it upon themselves to just keep on pushing through and not let it weigh them down. So, that’s been main theme is that resilience and just not letting the negativity and the fact that there’s that whole misconception. It’s gotten better but, let’s face it, there’s still that misconception of women aren’t as good and tech as guys which is complete BS, as we know. And also, one big thing is about 95% of the women I’ve had on my panel, and myself included, impostor syndrome has been a big, big thing.
Angela:
And that’s something that we have been talking about in some of our shows lately is how women seem, at least in what I’ve observed, seem to struggle more with impostor syndrome than men and I wonder why is that so prevalent among women and why do women never think they’re good enough? Well, that’s something that, I guess, in all aspects of our life, we’re always told we’re not good enough. Whereas, men, I think they experience impostor syndrome but it’s different and I can’t put my finger on exactly how.
Miriam:
Yeah, that’s a really good question. I’ve never really thought of it to that extent but that would definitely be worth exploring as to seeing as why do women tend or seem to struggle with it more than men or at least are more upfront with it, with dealing with it because I’m sure there are some men out there who probably deal with it but just don’t talk about it.
Angela:
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There are times when I’ve wanted to have some just a men’s day on Women in WP and just have a little talk with a couple of men and just ask them if they’ve listened to the podcast, their impressions and also if they resonate. Because I imagine that there are things that cross both genders but it’s more, like you said, who’s willing to talk about it or not and is some of our experience just about what we’re willing to make public and bring to the front. But yeah, it is interesting that people do have very different perspectives and experiences and they can’t even really relate to the other experience at all because they just haven’t experienced it and so they don’t understand what it’s all about. I’m trying to think of a good follow up question about anything else related to those panels in terms of what, maybe, level that community has maybe helped the women that you’ve had on the panels. Because you’ve gotten involved with the community and it seems like it’s benefited you and what-
Miriam:
It did.
Angela:
Yeah. What specific ways has it benefited you and have you heard that same thing from other people?
Miriam:
It’s benefited me because it’s gotten my name out there, people know who I am. I’m not some random Canadian from Ottawa coming to apply to a WordCamp that they’ve never heard of. I’m somebody who’s involved in the community and I know people are not just coming with some random idea. So, it is likely helping me for the WordCamps that don’t do blind selections, that do weigh in is this speaker well known within the community, have they spoken before. It’s definitely helped me get into more WordCamps as time has gone on and, as for others, most of the people I’ve had are actually pretty well known already in the community. Tessa Kriesel, Bridget Willard, Machielle Thomas from Bluehost was on one of my panels, Kathryn Presner, she’s pretty well known up here in Canada. So, it’s just been one of those and, in the very least, it’s benefited me and everybody in building friendships. Sandy Edwards, I still talk to, Bridget.
Angela:
And how do you go about recruiting and finding the people that you want to be on your panel?
Miriam:
I usually get the organizers help. So, I tell the organizers that, “Look, I’m looking to try and get some people from your local community.” At least half of the panel I want to be local and I want to look for, basically, different backgrounds such as designer, developer marketer but I also want different ethnicities because I don’t want it to be a panel of White women. So, I want to get African-Americans, I want to get Asian-Americans, I want to get Latinas on there and my goal one day is to get somebody from the LGBTQ community on there and I’m even considering getting pepperdine a bit and getting a non-binary voice on there. Because I think their voices are important too and it’s just they’re not being heard. So, that’s what I do is I try and I talk to the organizers and, if they can’t help me, then I put out a call on Twitter for a couple of the panels saying, “Hey, would you be interested in being on this panel, please contact me at this email address.” Usually I don’t get a swath of applications but I get four or five and so, I chat, give them the expectations, how I think it will go and I say, “There’s no pressure but are you interested?”
Angela:
And before you submit, do you have your plan of who’s going to be on the panel or do you get accepted and then go looking for your panel members?
Miriam:
I look for my panel members afterwards because I don’t want to have a bunch of panel members who suddenly get like, “Oh, we didn’t get accepted. Coop.”
Amy:
That’s really fascinating.
Angela:
We’re taking notes. I think you could have started this podcast, Miriam.
Amy:
Yes.
Angela:
All right. So, you’re also involved with a diversity training for speakers. Is it for speakers, right?
Miriam:
Yes, diverse speaker training group, the one Jill Binder is the lead for.
Angela:
Yes, and I run two Meetups, one is a foundation sponsored Meetup and one is not a foundation sponsored Meetup. Where I live in my city, we don’t have a lot of diversity. I do try to get, at least, women to come speak and I’ve really had to encourage them in different ways because they might be super introverted and shy. And I just had a woman at our Meetup last week and she was very hesitant about it and I just told her, “Well, we could do it as a panel and just try to ease it, you don’t have to fully be responsible for this.” And then everything moved to Zoom, because of coronavirus, and she did this presentation that truly knocked our socks off and I thought, “Wow, I really had to pull teeth to get her to do this and it was one of the best we’ve had in quite a while.” So, what are the takeaways from your diversity speaker training that you feel like Meetup organizers can do to try to increase that diversity in there?
Miriam:
Yes. The great thing about this workshop, it really focuses in on realizing what are their barriers to speaking? Is it physical limitations? Is it the fact that they’re scared stiff about speaking? And so, the workshop, as it stands right now, gives different tools that tells you how to write your proposal for your talk, how to come up with the title of your talk, how to write a bio about yourself and then it touches on impostor syndrome a bit, it touches on how to make great slides. So, it’s just some great tools that you can do and the great thing about this workshop is it’s not WordPress specific. If you run a general tech Meetup and you want to get a diverse range of speakers, this is great. And it’s great for first time speakers, it’s great for experienced speakers who might come from a different industry, so there’s just so many tools that can be applied.
Amy:
And how would somebody go about finding that workshop and getting enrolled?
Miriam:
So, I believe it is tiny.cc/wpdiversity. So, if they go to that URL, they will come up, I believe … Because right now we’re shipping due to coronavirus but I believe we might still be offering the training for these workshops to get people to run the workshops. So, that’s what my role is. I’m the train the trainer. So, I’m the trainer who trains the trainers.
Amy:
And I did get on here and I got involved with this when it first came out and I wrote and said I want to do this, so let us know if you’d like to run a workshop but then I never heard back. And I’m wondering-
Miriam:
That may have been because-
Amy:
… should I go ahead and sign up again then?
Miriam:
I would sign up again because that may have been before I was involved, I may not have been a trainer yet. So, that happened about six months into the establishment of this group.
Amy:
So, how would it work? If I’m a Meetup organizer, would I sign up and you would teach me how to train other people but then would I set up a specific time through my Meetup to then invite people to be trained?
Miriam:
Yes, so that’s how it works.
Amy:
Okay.
Miriam:
People go to that URL, they fill in the form. Right now, just because of how everything is, we’ll do a one on one and determine the best time for myself or Angela Jin in Spain, she’s the other trainer. So, one of us will train you. It’s basically a two hour Zoom call where we do a quick run through so you get familiar with the workshop. We don’t try and teach you everything in there but to get you comfortable with it. Then we give you resources, here’s your slides that you can use and adapt, here’s our Slack group that you can join and we’re always available to help you. And then we encourage the Meetup organizers to let us know when they run their workshop and then we just continue to follow up.
Amy:
And I did send a message out to my Meetup group, which has a lot of people, over a thousand, saying, “Hey, I’m going to do this workshop, would anyone be interested?” and just crickets. But I think, I bet if I put it on meetup.com as a real event with a real date and I’m going to teach you how to do this, I’d probably get people signed up.
Miriam:
Yeah, definitely.
Amy:
And it’s nice for me to know this is how it works, that you’re going to train me and then I’ll train them and that might be really cool. I’m excited.
Miriam:
Yeah, [inaudible 00:33:45].
Angela:
Have you heard any feedback from people who ran this training? Did they end up getting people actually take the training and do talks and do you have success stories?
Miriam:
I personally don’t have them off the top of my head but I know there definitely have been some success stories and it’s something I’ll have to dig in and all. After this recording, I’ll send it to you but I know we’ve definitely had some success stories and it’s why Jill has been able to get sponsored by the foundation to allow her to continue her work and why we’re still able to run this group because there have been success stories. And I know, I think it was Vancouver that, through this workshop, they’ve actually managed to hit at least a 50/50, if not greater ratio, of women to men speakers.
Amy:
Wow.
Angela:
That is so powerful and I have heard that, anecdotally, that by providing training, by providing these formats and some hand holding and mentorship of potential speakers, it really, really increases that. Just like with this woman, I really had to say, “You’re going to do this. I know you’re frightened but you have knowledge that people want,” and she didn’t even realize how much knowledge she had until she did it and got all the great feedback for it.
Miriam:
That is exactly one of the major things that we try to drive home, I guess, in the workshop is you’ll be surprised with the knowledge that you have. You don’t need to be an expert, you just need to be passionate about the knowledge you have and be willing to share it with others.
Amy:
Yeah. When you spoke about how you gave your first talk and you felt like you never wanted to do it again, I identify with that a lot. I feel like I have a lot of knowledge but I get really nervous in front of my peers and I just have never felt that that was a comfortable space for me. So, that’s why I like the podcast because, then, I can talk and then I don’t have to see people approve or disapprove of what I say. So, it’s a much more comfortable space for me.
Miriam:
I totally get that.
Angela:
And I wonder, how do you feel your first talk would have gotten had you received this training yourself?
Miriam:
I probably would not have run, after the Q&A, in tears.
Amy:
Oh, that’s so sad.
Angela:
You left after the Q&A in tears? Why?
Miriam:
It was just a confidence issue, looking back on it, because it’s been four years. So, I spoke on multilingual plugins. I spoke on that in Canada’s national capital, I spoke on that to a technical crowd. My very first talk, lightning talk, but I felt at the time that I did not handle the Q&A properly and I felt that I had totally butchered the talk. So, I held it together while I was in the room and then I got upset afterwards when I went to go talk to Shawn and Megan. Of course, I got my feedback, not much, but it was all like, “Okay, just slow down when you talk and don’t talk about yourself so much.” I didn’t know at the time, it was my first talk. And I think I would have had better slides, I would have already known not to talk so much about myself. So, I probably would have felt better about it and I likely would have started to speak at more WordCamps earlier.
Amy:
I left a talk, I did. My first talk, I was a nervous wreck and they put me on the developer track and I didn’t feel like my talk was developer track talk and it was a huge auditorium, it was really hard. But then I did another talk, it was the same topic, it was on WordPress security and I had really come to some conclusions about WordPress security in that people were making it too complicated. And I had like, “This is all you need to do,” and I had my tips, my 10 things and it was also a lot of developers in the room. And I just thought, at the end, I was so nervous. Even though I felt confident in myself about how I had been experiencing this topic over many years with all my many clients, I wasn’t sure that anyone would agree with me.
I felt like I was really going out there with these crazy ideas of, “Hey, you don’t need to hack away at your htaccess and all these files, keep it simple.” So, I left a wreck, I didn’t even want to go to the after party because I was such an emotional disaster. And I got to the after party and Cory Miller’s wife came up to me and she said, “Oh, hey, our team wants to talk to you. They really liked your talk,” and Cory Miller [inaudible 00:38:57] and they have their, I think, security plugin. I’m like, “Really?” I was shocked, I just thought I bombed in the biggest way and didn’t want to show my face.
And they’re like, “Oh, yeah, our security guy who writes our security plugin just agreed with everything you had to say,” and I’m like,” Are you serious?” And they took me under their wings and they set me up and sat me down with their security developer and he said, “Oh, man. And I just really loved that you said that backups are not a security thing, they’re a disaster recovery but they don’t really help you when your site is hacked.” All these little points that I had made, he’s like, “I 100% agree and I’m rewriting our plugin along all those same principles that you’ve said,” and it was really affirming but it’s nice that you had those people to go back to and get that feedback. And I think, in a way, doing a talk all by yourself and you don’t have friends that you can necessarily ask for feedback would be devastating because you don’t know if you did a horrible job or not. And, even though you still cried, at least you had people to talk to and do you feel like that helped you to recover a little?
Miriam:
It definitely did because, again, I didn’t want to go to the after party but I got my butt up and I went. And again, Kathryn, that’s when I met her, that’s when we chatted and she was like, “No, I think you did a good job but here are some tips that can help you with your speaking.” So, it was just, not so much about honing in on my talk itself, but reassured me that I wasn’t a total failure as a public speaker and that they offered me resources to help me feel more comfortable because they all wanted to see me speak again and here I am, four years later.
Amy:
And you spoke a lot.
Miriam:
I spoke a lot. If you had asked me four years ago that I would be going on podcasts, I would have laughed in your face.
Amy:
Well, when women are speaking versus men, I just wonder if men think about the same things. I worry am I being judged because of my looks or because of my weight or because of my voice or because of my slides? Every single thing that somebody could possibly judge me or things I’m worrying about and I wonder if men, they just don’t think about all those different things when they’re speaking.
Miriam:
Yeah, that’s a good question. I’ve never really thought about that. That’d be interesting to ask men about that but with [crosstalk 00:41:38].
Amy:
We need a survey. We need a survey of men speakers and ask them. Have men and women both submit the same survey, oh, my goodness, homework for Amy. Create the survey and just find out because I just wonder if maybe the reason more men are volunteering to speak is because they’re not as attuned to all the different ways that women are focused on feeling insecure about.
Angela:
Yeah. I think tearing apart the whole ratio of men and women speakers is interesting. I think that with our WordCamp in Colorado, in Denver, we’ve managed a 50/50 but they’ve worked at it, they’ve consciously really looked at their speakers list and made an effort to make that have more women. But then, there’s other environments where I see, oh, yeah, there’s women but they’re the panel moderator and they’re not really the speaker. And I’ve been to other conferences where they have some dude just rambling on and on and on for an hour about his personal life story when you could have had a much more competent professional woman up there giving some real meaty talk and I feel like that’s partly on the part of the conference organizers and who they think is worth talking to or not.
And even people themselves being wowed by some guy who confidently speaks for long periods of time about nothing, versus a woman who has a lot of substance but maybe doesn’t have the same exuberant personality about their empty topic that they want to talk about. It’s just amazing, I guess, to me what dudes can get away with blathering on about. And maybe, as women, we’re just much more critical of ourselves, I don’t think we could get away with those kinds of talks.
Amy:
I think women are definitely much more critical of themselves.
Angela:
In that public sphere way. Tell us, in Ottawa, we got to talk with Christie Witt and now I’m all intrigued that there’s this whole Ottawa community and I’ve never been to Ottawa. What do you do up there for fun and what are some of your hobbies?
Miriam:
Well, let’s get into the hobbies first because it’s very eclectic. So, when we’re allowed to go out and do things, as I mentioned, I am a karate instructor, so I train martial arts, I’ve been doing that for 13 years. I’m also a competitive Latin ballroom dancer that I’ve been doing that for six years and I also play in a community band. I’ve played clarinet since I was in grade seven, so I’ve been playing clarinet for 23 years now. So, I continued with it past high school because that was my first love and I love it because we just laugh all the time. It’s all adults in our community band. So, we get to work, we get to play music but we also laugh in between and, our musical director, he’s a great guy, we just joke around all the time. So, those are my hobbies. And in terms of what I do for fun, it’s that and then reading or just watching random YouTube videos. I love watching things like Bon Appetit or Alton Brown because I love to cook and I love to get inspired for different recipes and everything.
One of my friends just sent me a YouTube channel called Sous Vide Everything so I bought a sous vide stick about two months ago and I have been obsessed with it and it cooks everything so fantastically if you add the right spices to it. And once I get a cast iron pan, it’s going to be even better.
Angela:
Describe this more and, also, you need to share a recipe.
Amy:
I have not heard of this stick, I need more information.
Miriam:
So, basically, it’s a stick that you screw onto the edge of a pot and you vacuum seal your meat or vegetables, you add herbs, spices, a little bit of sauce, not so much to overwhelm it, and it cooks under vacuum. So, that’s what sous viding means. So, basically, the stick basically warms up the water and it circulates it to be even cooking and you just submerge the vacuum sealed bag for however long you want to cook something and it just comes out evenly cooked and they suggest that you put a sear on it, I can’t do that right now, but eventually I will be able to and it just helps soak in the flavor. So, I’ve done pork chops, I’ve done steaks, I haven’t done chicken in it yet but I had some leftover maple syrup so I did some honey maple carrots. Just basically sliced up carrots on my mandolin, put in some garlic powder, some maple syrup, some honey, cooked it for however long it was supposed to be and I had it on the side of my rice. That, combined with my instant pot, I rarely use my oven now or my stove top.
Angela:
I was just looking at them on Amazon and I’m like, “Oh, this looks like something I can actually keep in my cabinet unlike my instant pot which is huge and I have nowhere to put.”
Miriam:
Yeah.
Angela:
So, I’m going to have to do some research and learn more about this item. UnWordPress related but I think WordPress related either, both.
Amy:
We have to eat.
Miriam:
Exactly.
Amy:
This is important stuff.
Angela:
Well, I would like to thank you for being on the show today and, before we go, can you tell everybody where they can find you online?
Miriam:
Well, right now I’m taking a little bit of a break from Twitter but, when I do go back in a few days, I can be found @miriamgoldman and I’m also on Instagram a lot, so that is dancing sensei.
Angela:
Dancing sensei, I like it.
Amy:
I love it, that’s awesome. Thank you so much.
Miriam:
Thank you so much for having me.
Amy:
Thank you for listening. Interested in being on the show? Sign up on our website, womeninwp.com. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram and join our Facebook group to have conversations with other women in WordPress.

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