072: Amber Pechin on Harnessing the Power of Stories


About Amber Pechin:

Owner, Head Storyteller and all-around nerd at Amplitude Media, Amber builds brands, websites, and big ideas.

Her specialty is crafting compelling brand stories about complicated topics for clients in highly technical, scientific, or academic industries. She believes harnessing the power of stories is the best way to help customers connect with brands while remembering and understanding complex ideas.

Amber loves humans (they are delicious) and believes the secret to world peace was best summed up by the great Bill and Ted when they said, “Be excellent to each other.” A writer of words and teller of stories, Amber is a passionate storyteller and entertainer and has vowed to only use her powers for good. She can usually be found using these powers on stage or around her kitchen table with her four teenage daughters (rolling their eyes).

When she’s not telling stories you can find her nerding out about behavioral economics, writing her (eventually forthcoming/almost finished) parenting book (Strategic Neglect: The Art of #Winning at Parenting), or traveling in her adventure van with Susan in HR.

Find Amber Pechin: Amplitude Media | Twitter | LinkedIn


Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
072: Amber Pechin on Harnessing the Power of Stories
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Transcript

Amy Masson:

So, and before we start, if my dog barks, just ignore it and keep talking, because we can cut it out later. And he’s sleeping right now, but somebody could walk quietly by and rile him up.

Amber Pechin:

All right. I also have a dog in the room and a cat and they’re both usually really good until I start recording. So we’ll see how they do.

Amy Masson:

Okay.

Angela Bowman:

Welcome to Women in WP. Today’s episode is sponsored by Ninja Forms, a terrific form-building plugin. I’m Angela Bowman.

Amy Masson:

And I’m Amy Masson.

Angela Bowman:

Our guest today is Amber Pechin, joining us from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Amber runs a creative agency where she builds brands, websites, and big ideas. Welcome, Amber.

Amber Pechin:

Thank you. I’m glad to be here.

Angela Bowman:

We like to start off each episode by asking our guests how they got into WordPress. How did you get started?

Amber Pechin:

Well, my first foray into WordPress was actually moving an old blog that I had from Blogger to WordPress in like 2010. And I think it was wordpress.com, even. And then when I launched my business in 2016 and started to build my own website, I went to wordpress.org because I have had some familiarity with it.

Amber Pechin:

I just remember it being so hard and so frustrating at the time. And looking back now, thinking about the different… the problems that I had were such basic elemental problems that now I don’t even think about it anymore. So I feel like that tells me that I’ve learned a thing or two.

Amber Pechin:

But I think what actually connected me most, though, is going to a WordCamp Phoenix event in 2016 and meeting the community; meeting people, making friends. And so I’ve been using WordPress ever since, because it’s so easy to get help when you are frustrated, but also just so many other people doing so many cool things.

Amy Masson:

Yeah. I think… As so many people have come on here and said how they were using WordPress, but not really deeply, and then went to a WordCamp and it just blew the doors off everything for them… And I think that the reason for that is because the WordPress people are awesome.

Amber Pechin:

I am going to agree. I second the motion. We’re all awesome.

Angela Bowman:

I was just talking about that on this trip that I was on about how the WordPress community, for better or worse, it’s like we have this kind of rag-tag bunch people who… you can be anything. I guess there’s a low barrier to entry. You can be anything and go to a WordCamp.

Angela Bowman:

And this person was talking about how they brought their wife to a WordCamp… so this is someone who’s a plugin developer that I’ve had dinner with… and brought his wife to a WordCamp and she’s a doctor. And she said, “Wow, that was the most welcoming, inviting group of people I have ever met because in the medical conferences, there’s definitely a division of, here’s the doctors and here’s the nurses, and kind of this hierarchy and things.” And she was just… felt herself comfortable.

Angela Bowman:

And what we were talking about later in the podcast on Tuesday was how you don’t just come in and be all developers. So Tara King, who was on most recently, is also a Drupal community person. So she’s kind of a double agent. She’s in the Drupal space and she’s in the WordPress space. And she says the Drupal conferences tend to be mostly developers, but with WordPress you would have business owners and people at all levels. So I feel like that was really welcoming. So did you have that sense, when you went to your first WordCamp? Like, “Hey, here’s people [crosstalk 00:04:09]”?

Amber Pechin:

Yeah, I did. My background, I’d left an advertising agency where I was doing public relations and creative work and advertising, a lot of writing and things like that, and then started my own agency; mostly doing content was my goal at the time. And a friend invited me to WordCamp because she was running it. And so I went and I met people. But I was like, “I’m not a developer. I don’t really know… I can kind to do this for my own site and I can update content, but this isn’t for me.” But I went anyway, because I was bored. I needed to make business connections too. But I think my impression was that there were people there that were talking about how they built their business and how to run a solopreneur business and how to build for themselves the things that they wanted to build to be successful.

Amber Pechin:

And for me, that was this huge, mind-blowing thing where it was like, “Oh, I’m at a development conference, but a lot of the work and the conversation is about not how to be a developer, but how to use this product to build your business in whatever way you’re building your business.” And that for me was I think the golden ticket, as you say, because it was the connections I needed to be a solopreneur; to be an entrepreneur. Because nobody talks about how lonely that journey can be. That’s something that I think is really overlooked, is just how few people understand what it is you’re trying to do and how few people seem to get it, at least for me in my regular life. And so meeting all of those people who are doing the same thing, and not just doing the same thing, but were so incredibly generous to help me figure out how to do my own thing… And that’s where it was… That really resonated well with me.

Amber Pechin:

I’ve been to other conferences for businesses and I do a lot of work in the insurance space, which is kind of a super-dorky, nerdy space to be in… But it’s where I’ve kind of found a niche, is that insurance space. And you go to insurance conferences and it is very much like, “I’m only going to talk to you if you have something to offer me that I want.” And we have to be like, business, business, business; like the robotic men in suits kind of things. And you look around the room and there might be 500 people there and there might be 20 of them are women. And there are very few people of color and it’s just very, very non-diverse.

Amber Pechin:

And so it’s fun to go to WordPress conferences where everybody, I feel like, is willing to have a conversation. And they care more about you rather than what you can do for them. It’s the reverse; it’s the flip-side of… How can I help you? What are you working on? I’m excited for you. And it’s just like this whole group of cheerleaders. And since that first conference, I’ve spoken at a couple conferences. I’ve volunteered at all of the conferences I go to because that’s, for me, at least, that’s the funnest way to get involved and get to meet people; to volunteer. And it’s just that collaboration, just the collaboration and the willingness to work together. For me, the heart of WordPress is like, let’s work together and see what we can build. So.

Amy Masson:

And I think they don’t… You said, people don’t realize how lonely it can be. But I also think that those of us who do this don’t always realize how lonely we are. For a long time… I started my business in 2006, but I didn’t go to a WordCamp till 2013. And I had no idea that there was this whole community that you could be a part of that would really… I mean, not just make my business thrive, which it did… just everything I learned at that first WordCamp really turned my business around… but just enhanced my personal life too, because now I have these friends all over the country that I can go visit. If I’m out, “Hey, I’m going to be in DC, can I pop by and have coffee?” And everybody wants to do that. And there’s hardly anywhere I can go that I don’t know somebody because of WordPress.

Amber Pechin:

Right. Well, and-

Amy Masson:

And I’ve told this story… I’m sorry. I’ve told this story before. Back before I discovered WordPress, I kind of stumbled upon this e-commerce platform. And there was this builder, this developer that was using it and it was white-labeled. And I was really curious. And so I knew that she had a bunch of sites with it. So I sent her an email and I’m like, “Hey, what is this platform you’re using?” And she’s like, “I can’t tell you that. I am sure you’ll understand.” And it was so standoffish and so competitive. And then when I went to the WordPress, with the WordCamp, it was such a different atmosphere than my first experience talking to somebody else in my field.

Amber Pechin:

Yeah. Well, and that’s… I was having a problem with one of my sites several months ago and I just threw it up on Twitter. I’m like, “Why is it doing this? What am I doing wrong?” And I had like 20 different people. Some of whom I’d never met, didn’t know. They just saw other people talking about it and jumped in to help; to try and help me troubleshoot and problem solve when I couldn’t figure it out. And offers to do a phone call and a screen share or whatever I needed. It’s just… Every time, it shouldn’t surprise me, but it does. Every time I’m like, “Oh, yeah, that’s right. This is how we behave. This is…” And I just think that there’s enough work to go around that people just are willing to help and be kind and generous. And I just… That’s the kind of world I want to live in. So it’s why I choose to do work in WordPress, honestly.

Amy Masson:

And the people listening to the podcast aren’t going to… We don’t do the video anymore, but Angela and I were just sitting here, vigorously nodding our head to this whole story about… Yeah. Everything. Yes.

Angela Bowman:

Yes, yes, yes.

Amber Pechin:

And well, and it’s true. When you work at a big company or at an agency, you have coworkers and collaborators and people that you’re working on things with. And when you’re working as an entrepreneur, you don’t necessarily have that. Even if you have employees, they’re not on the same… You can’t have the same relationship because they’re employees and you’re whatever. Right? But it’s nice to feel like you have colleagues and collaborators and partners in business, essentially, in a lot of different ways with the whole community. So that’s something that I really enjoy and has made it super-rewarding to be working in WordPress. So and I also-

Angela Bowman:

Yeah, that [crosstalk 00:11:10]… Oh, go ahead.

Amber Pechin:

Oh, I was just going to say, and also I feel like that there’s also a lot more equity involved where I feel like as a woman in WordPress, my voice respected in a different way than it is in most other communities; business communities specifically. So that I also really enjoy.

Angela Bowman:

Yeah. That’s really amazing. And that’s how I came to WordPress on my own but then I really ended up getting more involved when I was part of a all-women’s designers group. And we had a little meetup in this woman’s living room, had nothing to do with WordPress, but I happened to meet a person there who used WordPress. And it was one year. This was like, I got into WordPress 2007 and this was 2008. And so I was just fresh. I was really intimidated. I didn’t understand… I kind of knew there’s these files and a database. And I got that part. I got the CMS aspect of it. But every little thing was intimidating, of course. People wanted designs that were intimidating for me to build from a CSS standpoint and I was scrambling. And then I met this person and we would just sit and have coffee and lunch and pizza for dinner.

Angela Bowman:

We would just sit and get together all the time. And just the two of us talk WordPress and help each other and teach each other. And I feel like that whole network community thing is what allowed my business to grow and to, like you said, not feel lonely. Though I still feel like… I don’t know how you feel about this, but it’s an interesting topic to bring up. There is, because you don’t have a job and you don’t have a boss and you don’t have performance reviews and you don’t have anyone telling you, “Good job; you’re doing very well there, Amber,” there is this tendency to have imposter syndrome. And I’m wondering if you ever feel that and how you deal with that.

Amber Pechin:

Oh, man. Yes. All the time. Well, and because there isn’t… My training isn’t in development, but in the last five or six years, I have developed multiple sites and I’ve built things for people. And it’s just like, I still have this imposter syndrome to say that I’m a developer. I would never say that. I build in WordPress, but am I a developer? I don’t know. And then when people… If you pin me down, my answer’s like, “I’m a writer and I tell stories.” That’s what I do. I use WordPress as the platform to do that. But it’s still this sense of, “I don’t know, am I legitimate? And is this working? I’m paying my bills. I’ve been doing that for five or six years now. So I must be doing something right.”

Amber Pechin:

But it’s still like this sense of… Yeah. Almost like, somebody at some point is going to find out that I have no idea what I’m doing. And when that day happens, everything is going to come crashing down and come to… shining ashes below me, as my old world catches on fire. But… Yeah… I don’t know if there’s an answer to overcome that, other than to just keep going. But I do think sometimes it’s a good to remind yourself of what you have done and what you have built. And I did that… I was talking to this other person about doing some work together the other day. And she was asking for writing samples and some examples of branding of things that I’ve done before.

Amber Pechin:

And so I pull out… I sit down to write this email and I send this list of things. And by the time I’m done, I’m like, “Oh, I actually do have a lot of credentials here. I’ve done a lot of work with real serious people.” And, but it was like, if you’d asked me that three days beforehand, I would’ve been like, “I don’t know. I’m just figuring this out. The world is falling apart.” And so it’s hard to say, from day to day. And I think that’s something that is common to struggle with. And I think it’s actually shown that it’s more common for women to struggle with than with men, for sure. But a lot of times, an imposter syndrome is just reminding yourself that like, “Oh, yeah, you do know what you’re doing. You do have experience, you have done all of these things. And the thing that’s in front of you is really hard and really scary potentially, but it doesn’t mean that you aren’t qualified to do it.”

Angela Bowman:

Yeah. I have been embracing the word “developer” more and I was interviewed for this little commercial for a plugin that I use. So for Elementor, I was asked to be part of Elementor user stories, and they sent a film crew from Israel to be with me for 12 hours and film me all day. Which was a lot of fun. I just didn’t want to see this film, but it was really fun to be in the film. Like, “Oh, I want to make movies every day. But just don’t show me how my chin is looking from that angle,” or whatever it is. But I did use the word “developer” and I’m like, “Wow, I kind of boldly went there. I just said ‘developer.'” I can work my way around some PHP code and I can write a query loop. And I’ve got some PHP skills there, but I wouldn’t say I would write a full plugin from scratch.

Angela Bowman:

So it’s interesting. Like that line, “Can I call myself a developer?” And it’s like, well, I’m doing a lot more developing than a lot of other people are doing so maybe I can use that. And it is a challenging thing because one thing that we talked about, I think in a recent podcast, our conversation was that it’s hard when you work alone, because you don’t have colleagues to be with you. It’s hard to up-level your skills because you don’t have someone in the room saying, “Hey, will you look at my code? Can you look at this? Am I doing this right?” We don’t get the mentoring and that kind of thing. And I wish there was a way, like you talked about at WordCamps where we have our business support, like, “Hey, here’s how you can run a freelance business.” It would be really nice if we could get more opportunities to do code review with each other and have more conversations to help ourselves build up our skills in a better way and write more secure code.

Amber Pechin:

I think that that’s where my imposter syndrome would really come in strong. I’d be like, “I don’t want to be looking at this.” But I do understand just-

Angela Bowman:

That’s how we learn. That’s where we learn. Yeah.

Amy Masson:

Yeah.

Amber Pechin:

That’s true, yeah.

Amy Masson:

I get so fed up with the whole, “You’re not a real developer,” whole argument. And the way I look at it, I don’t I rarely ever say I’m a developer. But I have made hundreds of websites from scratch, from nothing, fresh WordPress install to a beautifully custom-designed site that has lots of functionality. To me, that’s developing a website. I mean, where are we going to draw the line? If you’re somebody that says, “Oh, that’s not a real developer,” well, then that just makes you an asshole. And I’m sorry, that’s what I’m going to say about it.

Amber Pechin:

I’ve two things to say. My first thing is that this is the breaking news, that Angela is now going to be a movie star. She’s leaving WordPress. She’s going to be a movie star all day, every day, because she enjoys that so much. My second thing is that I’m really… I’m not a fan of gatekeepers in general and I try not to be one. And so as a… I consider myself a professional writer, professional marketing person, a professional advertising person. And so when people are like, “I’m not sure I’m a writer,” I’m like, “Do you write? Then you’re a writer.” And it’s the same as like, “Do you paint? Then you’re a painter.” “Do you draw? Then you’re a drawer.” And I draw that line with myself where I’m like, I mean, I guess I’m developing things; that makes me a developer.

Amber Pechin:

It just puts me at a… It depends what level you want to be at. But it’s like, at least when I was growing up, there was a sense of like, anything you do, unless you’re getting paid to do it, it doesn’t count. But I’m like, “Well, I’m getting paid to do this thing.” But it’s like, you don’t have to be the best, and the most professional and the most knowledgeable to be a person who still is that thing. And I think that’s important to remember, is that it’s… If you do it, then you’re doing it. So.

Amy Masson:

Oh, I love that point.

Amber Pechin:

Then I’m going to put a little tack in that for myself.

Angela Bowman:

I’m going to quote that afterwards on Twitter: “If you’re doing it, you’re doing it.”

Amy Masson:

I mean, that’s so true. It’s like, so what if I’m doing it differently than how somebody else might do it? And there are many different paths to creating a great WordPress website. Like myself, I’m a Beaver Builder girl and Angela into Elementor and Tracy’s not into any of that stuff. But we all are still making great websites. So why does it have to be a competition? Why do we have to tear down other people to prove that we are qualified to do what we’re doing?

Amber Pechin:

Yeah. I honestly… I don’t see a ton of that in the WordPress space. I usually see it in other spaces with developers and stuff but I haven’t seen a ton of it myself. But I also usually remove myself from negative conversations because I don’t have time for that. So.

Angela Bowman:

Oh, oh, it’s there. It’s there. But I think we could all learn because I think any of these tools that we’re using, we can use as crutches and we all could improve our skills and we could all write more efficiently or build more efficient layouts or whatever. But that’s where working on your own kind of does work against you. And part of why I like to be part of the meetups is because I’ve learned, like, “Oh, I have been writing these really bloated layouts because I didn’t know better.” Like, I just thought, “This way, everything’s a section.” And it’s like, “Oh, maybe that’s going to output too much HTML. And here’s a better way to do my layouts so it’s less HTML.” Things like that.

Angela Bowman:

And it’s like, “But I didn’t know, oh, I could do this thing or that thing and actually write more efficiently,” or whatever it might be. I think we do still need to learn from each other and need those opportunities to learn to improve our skills. But definitely you don’t want to be shamed over it, right?

Amber Pechin:

Right.

Angela Bowman:

You don’t want to be like, “Oh, you suck.” It’s like, well, maybe you just don’t know better. But sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know, too. And that’s where we really do have to foster, I think, those networking connections because we need each other.

Amy Masson:

Yeah.

Amber Pechin:

Yeah. The networking connections and…

Amy Masson:

I would agree with that, the networking connections. And I never realized how important they were until I got them. Because I spent so many years just being by myself. It was myself and my sister with nobody else. And then now, we know all these people and it’s like, “Oh, that really does make a huge difference in your business.” And I probably would’ve argued against it before I had those connections.

Amber Pechin:

Yeah. Well, and that’s where I find, too, that those are where some of my best connections come from, as far as building business as well. Because I do a lot more of the content creation and the branding to kind of bridge that gap between like, “I’ve built you a website and you still haven’t given me content to help people bridge that gap of clients.” And so it’s like working with people who are doing a lot more of the building and developing to be able to have them… help them get the right things to put on the website that they’re building. And those connections have mostly come from either WordCamps or meetups or just even Twitter and having those kind of conversations too. So there’re multiple benefits for having community, that’s for sure.

Angela Bowman:

Yeah. And this storytelling thing that you do… And certainly, getting content out of clients is like pulling teeth. And so how do you recommend working with clients to get them to tell their story? Do you have any special strategies to kind of get the pump flowing?

Amber Pechin:

Yeah. I actually don’t build websites for people that don’t do a branding workshop with me, mostly because they think they know what they want to say and they just never do. And I’ll say it’s the same for myself. If I sit down to write my own words for my own website, it is so much harder than writing words for somebody else’s website, just because I have a lot more second-guessing, a lot more imposter syndrome, all of those things.

Amber Pechin:

But so I have a series of workshops that I take clients through that helps them… Unless, a caveat, like if they already have brand guidelines, as far as their tonality and their voice and their persona, and they know who their ideal client is and all of those things, that’s a whole different conversation. I have yet to run across a client who has that. Even like, I’ve worked with a couple clients, just on content, who were rebuilding sites or doing rebranding, that are… they’re huge companies, 25, 26 years old, they’re publicly traded. They make millions of dollars a quarter, huge things, which… that’s imposter syndrome, right there; it’s to come in and be like, “Let me tell you how to tell your story.” And they don’t know. They have no idea and they’ve never done this work.

Amber Pechin:

And so I take them through the same process that I take my startup business who has zero money to start with through, in order to find what their story is. Because usually, they think they know and what they think they know is how to talk about their product. And that is not what anybody wants to hear, actually. They want to hear how their product is going to change their life. How are you going to make my business better? My internet faster? My feet feel better? My… Whatever it is, right? My site more secure?

Amber Pechin:

That’s what they want to know. And it’s really hard for companies to do that when they talk about themselves; is to not talk about themselves and talk about their clients instead. And so I have a series of workshops that I take people through that pulls that sort of information out. Like, what’s the most important thing you want to say? What’s the best thing that your product does? And walk them through that branding process to know what their brand story is and who they are and how they talk about it and what their voice is and things like that. And once we get there, it’s a lot easier to get the rest of the story told. And so by the time we’re done with that, we’ve really pulled out all the important pieces for a basic front page, for a basic About Us page. Things like that to at least get them to the point where we know what story it is that we’re telling and who we’re telling it to and how we’re saying it.

Amber Pechin:

And then I do not do graphic design because not my skillset, but I have some fabulous graphic designers I work with that usually can go from there with logos and colors and typography and all of those kind of things. And so… But you just… You have to do that work in between that’s a lot of conversation and a lot of thinking about your business in a different way, rather than just, “Well, we have a logo and these are my favorite colors and this is my favorite font. So this is what we’re going to use.” And instead, it’s getting people started in a place where they can actually make a difference with a beautiful website that also has words that drive their ideal customer to purchase their product, which is the endgame most of the time.

Amber Pechin:

So, and I say it’s a workshop, and that sounds really boring, but it’s really actually quite fun. And usually people respond with, “I don’t know how this has anything to do with what I’m trying to say, but it’s really fun.” And I’m like, “Trust me, there’s a method to the madness and the magic will happen.” And usually by the time we’re done, they’re like, “I had no idea this was where we were going. But it’s exactly what I need to say. I don’t know how you did that.” I’m like, well, “It’s magic.” That’s what I tell him.

Angela Bowman:

Wow. I want to do this. I want to do it. I need it. I need it. I need your workshop. I need this magic in my life.

Amy Masson:

Can we sign up for the workshop, even if we’re not getting anything from you?

Amber Pechin:

Sure. We can do the workshop just for fun. And, but you will… The problem is, you have to get something at the end. Otherwise, the workshop’s no fun if you leave the workshop and you’re like, “Well, I don’t know what that meant.” Instead you have to walk away with at least, “This is who my brand is. This is who my voice is.” So, but…

Angela Bowman:

So how are you conducting this with people now? Do you do it via Zoom? Do you send them worksheets? What’s the medium?

Amber Pechin:

No, it’s all via Zoom. It’s all live.

Angela Bowman:

Nice.

Amber Pechin:

But not… So the secret is, is that when you ask people a question, they’ll give you the wrong answer almost every time. And then you ask the question again and they’ll get a little closer to the right answer. And then you ask the question again. And the secret is, five times is typically how long it takes to get people to give you the right answer.

Amber Pechin:

And now you don’t just ask the same question over and over again, because that would be annoying. But you ask it differently and then they think about it differently and you expound on what they said. And so it has to be a live conversation or else they don’t get there. And so it’s like… And it’s not… I didn’t invent this. This is part of design thinking that was developed by somebody else and developed by somebody else in the psychology and things behind it.

Amber Pechin:

But so it’s the five whys. And so if you ask somebody why they’ve named their product XYZ, they’re like, “Well, we named it XYZ because of this. Because it’s my dog’s name.” “Well, why did you name your dog that? What is this like?” They’ll tell you and then you’re like, “Well, why is your dog like this thing?” And it really leads them down this path where it’s like, it becomes this, “Oh, the reason we named our product this is because it makes people feel good, like when we see our dog, who is loving and happy and fluffy and loves everybody and makes everybody feel better, and that’s what our product does, is it helps people feel like this.” And then you have a place to start from to tell a story, rather than, “This is what our product is named,” which is all they would give you if you sent a worksheet home.

Amber Pechin:

So although I do have… This is kind of off topic, or maybe not, but… I do a workshop that’s finding your brand hero. So what’s your product’s story, essentially, to kind of walk people through this whole thing. And then I send them home with a worksheet that’s like Mad Libs that they fill out to try and figure out what their vision and their mission and stuff is by answering a bunch of these questions. And so that’s a really fun way to send home actionable steps after just a presentation versus a one-on-one workshop that really seems to help get people’s gears turning and thinking differently about their business. So that I could share, if you want… If you’re interested, I could share and you could share with your audience, if they’re interested too, just to try it out and see what they think. But I think it should be fun. And that’s kind of my theory with most things in life, is if you’re not having fun, then you should make different choices. Which…

Amy Masson:

Not having fun, you should make different choices. I love that.

Angela Bowman:

Oh, there’s another one.

Amy Masson:

A quotable episode.

Amber Pechin:

You should rethink your life.

Amy Masson:

“Rethink your life.”

Angela Bowman:

Well, I’d love your creative approach to this, because like I said, like pulling teeth, you don’t want it to be pulling teeth, but I think that way of kind of getting around it, rather than just asking the straight, boring questions, what you’re doing is, you’re really kind of going deep, but in a very creative way to get those answers out. And wow. It’s kind of getting me thinking about things in a really different way and… Yeah.

Amber Pechin:

Well, that’s good. That’s my goal, is to approach things a little bit differently and with more fun. So one of the exercises that I’ll do is I’ll have an image and I’ll have a pair of hiking boots and a pair of spiky heels that actually have spikes all over them and a pair of flip flops and be like, “Which one of these is most like your business?” And then they have to think about it and inevitably, they’ll say, “None of them.” And I’ll say, “No, you have to choose. And then you have to tell me why you chose that one.” And that’s usually my first slide, actually, when we do the workshop.

Amber Pechin:

And it is so funny because by the time we’re done, they’re just enjoying themselves, but it kind of breaks down these barriers because then I’ll always say, “Okay, the spiky heels are now your business. Tell me why it’s your business.” Or whatever the opposite one is the one that they chose. And then they have to go like… I’m asking them why, again… “Why is this like your business? Tell me about your business. What is your business like?” But I’m asking in a way that doesn’t feel like that. And so they have to think creatively about it and come up with a different answer and different solution. So it’s a [crosstalk 00:33:02].

Angela Bowman:

Oh, that’s amazing. I love it.

Amy Masson:

I also noticed that you have done some time as a standup comedian, and you’re not the first standup comedian that we’ve had on the podcast. So I was wondering if you could tell us if you think that that has played any role in your work in WordPress; and if so, in what way?

Amber Pechin:

Well, it definitely… The thing that standup comedy will teach you better than anything else in your life is how to fail in front of large groups of people and get over yourself. Honestly, that is the number one thing it’ll you, is that when you think something will work, it doesn’t mean that it will work. And just because it works once doesn’t mean it’ll work again. It’s going to… You have to constantly change for your audience. And yeah, I did standup comedy for about four years and it really does… And I stopped when I started my business just because they both require so much time and energy and my business pays a lot better than comedy did. But it is also… It’s one of those things that makes you think on your feet fast, and it helps you interact with all kinds of different people.

Amber Pechin:

So many people in my life that I would’ve never met any other way, except that they’re other comedians that were in the Phoenix area… that’s where I did comedy… but that you just learn and grow from so many other people’s experiences and build a whole different kind of community. And I actually… I did improv; at the same time I was performing with an improv group, which… The two methods of comedy are very, very different. One is an all-in-group collaborative thing, which is an improv. And then standup is very much an isolation solo performance. And it’s kind of interesting that, well, standup comedy was really good for me in a lot of ways in building business. Improv is probably even more important because it taught me so much more about collaboration, about working together, about making sure that your teammate on stage with you is a star and all of those kind of things where it’s like, if your client isn’t winning and isn’t the star of the show, then you’re not doing your job right. You’re missing something.

Amber Pechin:

And that’s where being able to lift up other people and make sure that other people are succeeding is really where those improv chops come in. But also where… The first rule of improv is to say “yes, and.” So when somebody offers you something on stage, you accept it, you say “yes, and,” and then you build on it. Right? And that’s how business is. Business is a lot of… I thought I was going to start out doing content creation. I was going to do content for people and maybe some public relations and that’s what I was going to do. And now I do branding and I build websites and I do a lot more consulting and creative consulting than I ever thought I’d be doing.

Amber Pechin:

And it’s because when somebody said, “Can you do this?” I said, “Yes.” And then I was like, “Oh, and I could do this. And I could do this and I could do this.” And it gave me a launchpad to start from where it was like, you can really do anything if you put your mind to it and try and figure it out and work with people and have a community and all of those things. And that’s really where those kind of chops came in, probably stronger than anything else was to be able to do that where it was like, I thought I was starting out solo and now five and a half years later, it’s like, I’m not; I have a whole community around me that’s supporting me.

Amber Pechin:

And so it’s more of that working together and collaboration from the improv side of things than ever staying on stage alone by myself. So, but it also makes a very low bar for being funny on stage when you’re at business conferences and WordCamps, when you’ve been on stage in a bar where people are like, “Be funny every 30 seconds, I need to laugh.” And instead it’s very fun to go to WordCamps and everything I say is funny. Even if it’s not really that funny, it’s because the bar is so low. But it makes it really fun to be able to do things like that too. So.

Amy Masson:

I feel like my whole WordPress experience is “yes, and.” We should just rename it “Yes, And.” Oh, my goodness. Well, thank you so much for coming on today. We also want to thank our sponsor, Ninja Forms. Before we go, can you tell everybody where they can find you online?

Amber Pechin:

Yeah, you can find me… My website is amplitude.media, or you can find me on Twitter; @AmberPechin is probably the easiest way to contact me and connect and be friends and build cool stuff.

Angela Bowman:

Awesome.

Amy Masson:

Awesome. Thank you.

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