086: Raquel Landefeld on the Power of Community


About Raquel Landefeld:

Raquel Landefeld is the Event Coordinator for Elegant Themes and a serial volunteer with a young soul. Intentional about community building, she believes that wherever her feet are is where the building happens. Currently, she is active in several communities from tech ➡️ government ➡️ neighborhoods, and more.
On the personal side of her life, she is a mum of teens (#momhard), an active ballroom dancer, a music lover, an outdoors lover, and has a 25ish-year-curated Wonder Woman collection.

Find Raquel Landefeld: Elegant Themes (Divi) & The WPMinute | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn


Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
086: Raquel Landefeld on the Power of Community
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Transcript

Amy Masson:

Welcome to Women in WP, a bimonthly podcast about women who blog, design, develop and more in the WordPress community.

Angela Bowman:

Welcome to Women in WP. This episode is sponsored by Ninja Forms, a professional form builder plugin for WordPress that allows you to make beautiful forms with ease. I’m Angela Bowman.

Tracy Apps:

And I’m Tracy Apps.

Angela Bowman:

Our guest today is Raquel Landefeld, who is joining us from a very hot Phoenix, Arizona. She manages the community and events for Elegant Themes and Divi. She also wrangles the community for new content and assists Matt Medeiros with the WP Minute, another fabulous, is it a podcast or a news?

Raquel Landefeld:

Both.

Angela Bowman:

That’s what I thought. Yes, exactly. Because I knew that it was also newsy related, so there was a lot of information coming out of there aside from the podcast. So welcome, Raquel.

Raquel Landefeld:

Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Angela Bowman:

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

Raquel Landefeld:

I got started in a joke like accidentally or maybe more so incidentally. My partner at that time lost his day job during the recession and had built WordPress sites on the side for years at that point. And we were both faced with what to do and just decided to take a little tiny WordPress agency full throttle. And that’s what we did.

Raquel Landefeld:

I didn’t expect to be a partner, but we took a business coaching course, like a 12-week course. And they were like, “Your wife has to do it with you.” And we were like, “Okay.” And then by the end of the 12 weeks, I was a partner and basically COO. I just basically ran operations for the entire company. And it’s actually though, I wasn’t really technically in the space. I just made sure everything was running accordingly.

Raquel Landefeld:

And then in 2012 I, attended my first WordCamp and it was WordCamp San Diego. And I was absolutely blown away. I was kind of jaw drop moment of like, is this real life? Because I had never been in a community where people genuinely wanted to get to know you and know you for no other reason than just you being a human and just so welcoming and so inclusive.

Raquel Landefeld:

And I was kind of simultaneously beaming, like beaming and also shocked because I come from a lot of communities and not ever were any of those communities this kind. So that kind of hooked me. And I actually started getting into the volunteering side of things, and so really kind of started contributing to the community early on.

Raquel Landefeld:

And that’s kind of just, I mean, the gist of the story. And then, I mean, for the sake of not getting into any further questions, but that was how I got started in WordPress.

Tracy Apps:

That sounds like pretty much a lot of people. What was your intended? What did you think before all those WordPress up, before the recession? What did you think that you would be doing?

Raquel Landefeld:

Oh, that’s actually part of my story. I mean, I literally say I have a WordPress story and I’ve actually given talks about it before, but I had no idea. I didn’t even have an identity, like part of … I literally say I found my identity through WordPress. WordPress in essence, basically sort of saved my life.

Raquel Landefeld:

I got married very, very young. I had kids very, very young and that was my identity. And I was a wife and a mom, and those identities are good identities, but they’re contingent on other humans. So that wasn’t my identity. It was an identity that was sub-Raquel, but who was Raquel? I had no idea.

Raquel Landefeld:

And so early on ahead of time, I just was busy being a mom and doing well being a mom and I’m still very much a mom, but I didn’t know who I was. And discovering WordPress and the community and all of that really honestly helped me discover my giftings.

Raquel Landefeld:

I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know anything about me. I didn’t know that I loved humans so much. I didn’t know that I was a true extrovert. I didn’t know that I was literally addicted to volunteering. So I mean that’s where I was.

Raquel Landefeld:

I didn’t know anything. I didn’t have any ambitions or goals. And honestly, getting into WordPress is what kind of opened my eyes to like, “Oh, my god, I don’t know who I am.” And it helped me discover who I am.

Tracy Apps:

Well, I can’t imagine the community without you. It’s always a joy because it’s like so great. I’ve loved that I’ve met you through this community. Anyway, go ahead, Angela.

Angela Bowman:

Oh, yeah. No, it’s an amazing story because I had kids very, very, very, very young and that was my identity. And just when you were saying that, I kind of was thinking, “Wow, I think the same thing kind of happened for me.” I was getting into WordPress in my late 30s and kids were getting older and my first child, and had another child, and it was like, the WordPress gave me that opportunity to shine, to be somewhere where I could kind of figure out like, “Oh, I can do public speaking and I can teach. And I have these things to offer that people liked.”

Angela Bowman:

And it did help me to figure out who I was as an adult, aside from being someone’s mom. And I’d say that probably more than anything really helped to do that, but we’ve never had someone on the show say that before. So that’s-

Raquel Landefeld:

I can imagine.

Angela Bowman:

… awesome. Yeah. And we’ve had a lot of moms on, but it was just like, I don’t know the way that you articulated that. It’s never been said, but I feel like, I think other people will resonate with that.

Raquel Landefeld:

Well, I did it, I say, backward. So back in the day, it wasn’t backward. We were all women, we were home and we’re homemakers, but considering timeline of now, I was the minority for sure. Even my kids and maybe you can relate Angela, but when my oldest was entering kindergarten, all the moms were 10 years older than me, if not older.

Angela Bowman:

Exactly, exactly.

Raquel Landefeld:

And so I felt very like, “Okay, I did things a little backward. I didn’t do my career first. It came second.” And I still am not fully able to go full throttle because my kids, I have got two more years and the youngest is 16 and I feel like, watch out, world. You’re not going to know when it’ll hit you when I’m no longer a full-time mom. I love being a mom, but not a full-time mom.

Tracy Apps:

That’s so cool.

Angela Bowman:

It’s so cool. You mentioned in your email to us, one of the biggest challenges in the field is feeling underrepresented. Talk to us about that.

Raquel Landefeld:

Yeah. Well, I mean off the bat, we know as women that we’re underrepresented in tech. It just is what it is. And that is, I guess for me, never really, that never bothered me too much because I’ve always felt underrepresented in the underrepresented. And I think I even said that in the survey and that is just because I am very multiracial in that my mother was indigenous and registered tribal member, and so am I, and actually so are my kids.

Raquel Landefeld:

But also her father was Caucasian, but culturally, her father actually died when she was young. And so it was all from her native mother, my grandmother. And then my father was Hispanic. But my father was always working. My parents were very, we were poor. It just is what it is.

Raquel Landefeld:

And in that you’re underrepresented. So I was always kind of adjacent to a full community my whole life. I never was full any sort of ethnicity. And so I was always adjacent to. We grew up poor. But then, in schools you’re adjacent to people from wealth. And so being tri-racial essentially, and also never feeling like you’re fully accepted, the only time I ever felt fully accepted was in my indigenous … With all of my family.

Raquel Landefeld:

But when my parents moved to Phoenix, when I was a little bit younger and Phoenix, especially inner cities, predominantly Hispanic and I wasn’t fully Hispanic. So then I wasn’t accepted and you know how kids are. We have hard times when we’re kids, we’re not the nicest. So that really kind of gave me a really big love. I think that’s where it started, was this love for humans and wanting to then like more so advocate for the underrepresented.

Raquel Landefeld:

So myself now in tech, women tri-racial, and also I feel like just that indigenous part especially is very, very lacking in tech and in design as a whole. So, I mean, there’s a lot. If you take all the underrepresented, you take like women or LGBTQ and all of the underrepresented, then you get like at the very bottom, there’s indigenous and that’s where I’m like, Ugh. But that’s where I really want to kind of like focus my effort.

Raquel Landefeld:

And there’s only so much I can do being one, but my goal and desire is to do what I can do to help that side of things. As it is, I heard of one other indigenous person in WordPress and I know of one other one and he often does come to WordCamps. And so when we see each other, we’re like, “Hi,” and we geek out together.

Raquel Landefeld:

So, there’s that. And I’m sure there’s more. Maybe we’ll find out more just from this interview.

Tracy Apps:

Yeah. And I think one of the things … How you put that, I’ve noticed that because of not being fully into any one group, I’m a quarter Hispanic, but I don’t look it. I was raised by a very white family. And so I don’t really fit into that, but I also don’t completely fit into this, so that kind of dichotomy.

Tracy Apps:

But I think that the way you said, like that awareness and how you see and how it affects how you carry yourself and care for others and see others that aren’t necessarily like in the spotlight. I think that’s … I mean, that is amazing. I wish more people had that kind of experience because once you really start noticing if you’re not just assuming that you’re the default, because then you’re just like, “Oh, well I didn’t notice because I was just doing my own thing.”

Tracy Apps:

So I think that’s really valuable. And I agree. I think, and especially like when you were talking about like there’s some … I can imagine that the indigenous communities is really hard because it’s like we have, since the very beginning, put them into little areas like you go over there. And so they’re physically separated and mentally forgotten about in mainstream world, right?

Raquel Landefeld:

A hundred percent.

Tracy Apps:

So what could we do to address that? How could we bring people in or go to where we are needed?

Raquel Landefeld:

Yeah. I mean, with that, it’s hard enough as it is just within my own community. And thankfully, and I guess this is just fate is my family in general are very good about helping everyone do better and get better because part of the problem is we’ve been so silented and we’re just so passive as a large, like this macro skill of indigenous in North America.

Raquel Landefeld:

And so I come from a lot of family members, aunts and uncles who are very big on empowering native youth. And so thankfully, there’s that. But there’s so much generational oppression that there’s more that is needed. And so if anything, obviously WordPress does its best and does what better than most communities is being inclusive. But I think it goes beyond that, in that we need to invite. But the hard part is it’s like how many of us know where to invite?

Raquel Landefeld:

So it’s getting curious, getting curious about where we’re from. Every state has tribes, federally recognized tribes and it’s getting curious. It’s maybe teaching coding camp and [inaudible 00:13:08] or in an area where there’s a lot of indigenous people in your cities. Those are very simple ways to just even get … At least if we are curious and we go look and then we see the opportunity to then serve in some capacity like that, then it gets indigenous people to be curious as well because a lot of it is, there’s so much talent in indigenous, they just don’t know.

Raquel Landefeld:

And there’s definitely an awakening happening for sure. But there’s still a lot that don’t know or they don’t even know what we’re good at. It was like me being 20 and a mom and a wife, and not knowing who the heck I was. I just didn’t know. It’s kind of the same thing. They just need to be enlightened and educated and then they’ll know. And then we’ll have more. I’m convinced we’ll have more.

Tracy Apps:

That reminds me of, I remember when I was down in Costa Rica before the pandemic hit and they were doing kind of a similar outreach into the smaller areas like the towns and stuff and doing classes and doing free classes. And I think that’s an amazing thing. Look at Mary Jo. She’s going to places all around Africa, even other countries to teach people. And I think that that is a really … Because it’s like invite you to come to this crazy thing where all these very loud, typically white Americans are, but instead, “No, we’re going to take ourselves out of our comfort zone and go to you but also learn.”

Tracy Apps:

Because like you said, I have definitely seen that in indigenous communities I think because the arts, music and everything is so much more … There’s so much more weight to it and we just are like, “Oh yeah, we just do these things.” Everything is intentional. And I’m like that we could really benefit from more of that kind of mindset.

Raquel Landefeld:

No, absolutely. I didn’t actually wear it today, but I just commissioned a fellow tribal member of my tribe. She makes jewelry and my tribe is located in Nevada, just outside of Reno, which is my hometown and we’re really big on pine nuts. And so she incorporates pine nuts into all of her jewelry. So I commissioned her to make one, and I made it for Portugal to wear and I literally never wore it.

Raquel Landefeld:

But that’s all, I’m sorry. And I was like, so happy to like showcase it because it was very intentional like you talked about because it represents our tribe and the things that matter to our tribe. And it’s so cute. It’s pretty, one day you-

Angela Bowman:

I can’t wait to see it. You have to post it on Twitter, just selfie with it. I want to see those.

Tracy Apps:

Or on TikTok.

Raquel Landefeld:

I know. I haven’t done TikTok. You see, you were really good on TikTok. I’m like baseline level on TikTok.

Tracy Apps:

That’s all it requires really. That’s all. Who knows-

Angela Bowman:

You have to be a child at heart, like my granddaughter to do TikTok.

Raquel Landefeld:

Oh, a hundred percent. That’s funny. On my bio is a lot of places I say young soul because I joke that I’m an overgrown child. So yes, I get it.

Tracy Apps:

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Angela Bowman:

When you and I met in Porto, we started to have this conversation and I don’t even know what spurt it, but just kind of came out about women not tearing each other down. It just spontaneously something erupted and it was apropos, I think, of really nothing. It was just like, it just had to be said, and it was just … I really was curious. You were so articulate with me with that. And I just want to hear more about, because you did say that when you wrote to us as well, it’s like that you want to be passionate in your community and be quick to forgive and believe that people need grace.

Angela Bowman:

And we’re talking about online. We’re talking about TikTok, we have Twitter, we have Facebook. These kind of things can happen in social media. They can get kind of antagonistic and can go spiral downward pretty quickly and get out of control. And then we don’t really build understanding. And we honestly, I think really don’t know the intention of that person because I just don’t think that’s possible in social media to truly get underneath what’s really being said and truly comprehend. But I want to hear your take on that.

Raquel Landefeld:

I’m like, where do I start? I’m all, thank you, WordPress for putting this passionate fire inside of me, back to I was talking about earlier about like that’s where I found my identity. And I absolutely love humans. And I feel like my gift to this world is my love for humans. And I really endearingly believe that I’m going to change this world.

Raquel Landefeld:

And so it hurts me when I see a lot of tear down and a lot of, and I’ll say words like virtue signaling and things. It’s like, what is our purpose? And one, full confession right here. We’re going back. I was marginalized by women growing up, and probably with the same reasons, like not fully fitting into anybody’s crowd, even in high school. I was on the dance team, but I was also on color guard and Midwest Color Guard is amazing. So maybe that’s one of good, which is like the girls with marching band with flags and all that.

Raquel Landefeld:

But at the time in the late ’90s, early 2000s marching band in Arizona was a joke. And it was … So I was literally on all types of circles of bottom of the spectrum when it comes to popularity and in the top. And I wasn’t part of anybody’s group. And so I felt like, because I just existed and it was me. Girls didn’t like me and they hurt me.

Raquel Landefeld:

And so I went a lot of my adult life avoiding women, full confession and because of just being marginalized and hurt and bullied by women. And so now, as I started to discover my giftings and what I was good at, more and more and more, I look at my circles now and my trusted companions are women, where before my most trusted were almost all men, which I still actually have a lot of guy friends and I do have a lot of masculine energy. I won’t disagree or not call that out.

Raquel Landefeld:

But all of that, I have to say I still see some of that. And especially because we are in a community, there’s not a lot of women that sometimes, and maybe that is a masculine energy and I’m sorry if that’s wrong to say that. But sometimes, it is that I think there’s a little bit of setting up camp around my brand as a woman in WordPress. And I want to be the one who’s this person here and has this voice here. And I called it first and nobody else gets to have this with me.

Raquel Landefeld:

And I’m over here like, “Bro.” Sorry, I used that word androgynously but, “Bro, we’re all in this together.” So there’s no room for that here and especially on Twitter. And I agree with you, Angela, a hundred percent. I just feel like there’s absolutely no way to tell intent on social media. Do I use it? Yes. Am I active on it? A hundred percent. You guys follow me on things, I’m very active.

Raquel Landefeld:

But it’s not real life. And I will wholeheartedly forever fight for in real life interaction and exchanges. And that’s a whole other story. And we talk about pandemic, depression and trauma. But what I’ve been seeing is a lot of pitchforks coming out for other women. And I’m just not done with that at all. I feel like, if we want to see more women in our community, then we need to build each other up and we need to expect or assume good intent.

Raquel Landefeld:

And if someone makes a mistake, which we have, I’m not going to stay here and say women in our community haven’t made mistakes. We have, but we need to forgive because how are we going to get better? How are we going to get better? And now, we’re going to create a culture of shame and hiding. And then we already suffer with imposter syndrome, do we not? I was literally in a meeting today the whole time thinking I don’t belong here. I was like, you guys are really smarter than me. And literally in my brain, I’m like, “Oh, my god, shut up, Raquel.” That’s imposter syndrome going on.

Raquel Landefeld:

So we all suffer from it as it is. So we’re just going to make it worse by tearing each other down and by not forgiving? So when someone makes a mistake, the idea is, and I’ve heard this talked about in the past, calling in, calling out. 100% calling in, I’m just going to say it. And everyone could quote me on it. We call in because we want to get better. And in my mind, my motto is we want to get better together because we don’t have enough time in this world to fight. And we only have one life each.

Raquel Landefeld:

So why do I want to hurt someone or tear them down? Or it hurts me so badly to think that I’m going to get better by stepping on this other person. Granted, I know that not maybe everybody’s there and maybe they have traumas. And then their way that they process their trauma is to then bully others, which I get that is the response. But my thought is, what if my actions actually educate someone to not do that?

Raquel Landefeld:

So, that’s my goal. My goal is to be in our community and to forgive women and to help them see where their error was and help us to all get better together. And it is hard because I will say that, I’m not that loud in there. If I see another woman calling out another one, I will just be like, “Stop it.” And maybe I should, but it’s more of like on a macro scale, can we like educate everybody to be this way? And if I’m modeling it, then maybe it’ll be caught more as opposed to just like do it.

Raquel Landefeld:

I’m hoping that my influence would be that people catch it, this idea. And I feel like I just kind of rambled a lot right now and was all over the place.

Angela Bowman:

No, I mean, I love that calling … Yeah, the calling in versus calling out. And I feel that more poignantly because as a woman commenting on, let’s say, on a forum post and I’ll have some dude call me out and say, “Why are you even commenting? You’re not a real developer.” And I’m like, “First of all, how do you know I’m not a real developer?” And you’re just saying that, because I disagreed with what you said or had an ever so slightly different opinion that I’m sharing opinion just like you shared an opinion.

Angela Bowman:

But I’ve had men bully me to the point where I even had to get one kicked off a group or I left the group and then someone reported this person and they said, “We want you to join the group.” And they kicked him out because he was such a bully. So it’s like, men are bullying us enough.

Raquel Landefeld:

Exactly.

Angela Bowman:

We kind of don’t need to be bullying. And I don’t think there’s any real intention to bully, but I do feel like there’s so much sensitivity. And women in a way are very sensitive to different things. And so then we will have a tendency to just call out. But the calling in, I think, is going to be more constructive and more productive, and we don’t need to be building up camps for sure. So I’m 100% on that.

Tracy Apps:

And one of the things that like I really have seen just in my own growth in going from kind of being raised in that, well, white capitalist America to individual, whatever. You work hard. You do all these things and you succeed as opposed to that more communal like, no, we all … The whole idea of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is literally that phrase is because it is so impossible, it is like it’s over the top sarcastic.

Tracy Apps:

But people have used it the other way. And that is something I had to kind of learn from, because I was an only child. I was kind of quiet. I didn’t really talk. I didn’t really have a lot of friends my age. I was friends with the teachers more, so I was a real popular kid.

Angela Bowman:

That’s awesome.

Tracy Apps:

But I had to like, yeah, I’m really sarcastic or I’d joke about something because my family would do that, because my family’s first language is sarcasm and it’s that passive-aggressive Midwestern sarcasm. And I had to learn and unlearn that, that just not even to use that because my intention was, oh, we’re joking around. This is something that my family does to show that they care.

Tracy Apps:

But it was interpreted much differently. And especially when it’s just a text thing, that can be completely understood the complete opposite way. And so I just am like, “You know it’s not worth it.” So I had to unlearn that kind of default of how to communicate with others, and especially in public forums and in social media and just be like, nope, cutting out all that and just going back to basics.

Tracy Apps:

And it’s been much easier because then you know that it’s not like, oh, you just didn’t understand my joke.

Raquel Landefeld:

A hundred percent. You’re totally hitting one of my biggest points in the way that I feel like, because we could talk about this all day long about how it’s not okay. But how do we fix it? They hundred percent believe it’s words, so I often say that I’m very passionate about communication and I don’t mean that in a major, you know what I mean? Like a communications major, like marketing.

Tracy Apps:

Yeah, exactly. Like, “Oh, what’s your major?” “Communications.” “Oh, another one.”

Raquel Landefeld:

I mean, our words are powerful and we take full responsibility for our words. So, you’re bringing up a perfect point because this whole idea of like, “Oh, our family’s just super sarcastic,” or that’s how you know they love you when they tease you. That’s not okay. We’ve gone decades, if not centuries, thinking that that sort of way to treat others is okay.

Raquel Landefeld:

There’s a little bit of like, “Yeah, like my closest friends who love me, they make fun of me because I did a cartwheel in public because I do that,” then yes. I’m like, “Okay, they love me. That was valid. I’m silly.” But if someone’s going to make fun of me because of the way like my eyes squint when I smile, which I have people, bad persons, in the past have said that, then that’s going to hurt me and that’s not okay.

Raquel Landefeld:

And so we can use our words to build people up, and we can use our words to tear each other down. And that’s like one of my … It’s the only talk I want to give the rest of my life, is I call it communication with empathy. The idea is that the words we’re using coming out of our mouth, it’s not about me. It’s about the person or my audience. And what do I need to say to them, for them to understand me? What do I need to say for them to feel my feelings?

Raquel Landefeld:

So then that way, we all have this shared empathy. So that doesn’t mean there’s no, like we can’t be sarcastic. Again, someone could tease me all day long but I 100% know that they love me. And I know that they love me because their words say it and their actions prove it. And it’s not just sarcasm all day long. So, words bring healing.

Tracy Apps:

And the communication with empathy, that’s a really big thing. So I don’t know if anyone else goes into these existential dilemmas, like when you’re just sitting alone somewhere or maybe it’s just because I was the only child. But I remember thinking like, “Well, I see this is a color red.” Everyone’s eyes are going to see red differently. How do I know what I’m seeing is red in the same as someone else?

Tracy Apps:

Yeah, we have a … Because so much is translated by our own eyes and our own systems that work all differently, it ends in someone who’s colorblind. They’re going to see a different color. I think about that, I’d be like, “This is red, but do I see red like you see red? Or do you see red in a different way?”

Raquel Landefeld:

And that’s okay.

Angela Bowman:

Yeah. It’s so true to this therapy called dialectic behavior therapy and also known as DBT, but they talk about interpretation of event. And it kind of goes back to what you were saying, Raquel. It’s like let’s assume good intent. And one thing that they say in DBT is assume the best intent that won’t cause you harm.

Angela Bowman:

So if your life is not in danger potentially from this situation, then it’s okay to assume a better intent than what you may be naturally from your past trauma or your survival strategies or whatever your way of getting through life would be to assume a worse intent. It’s okay. Assume the best intent, but it’s called an interpretation of event.

Angela Bowman:

And so that’s what you’re saying. You’re talking about interpreting the color red, but it’s like when we see someone say something negative on social media or something that just greets us the wrong way, it’s like, maybe I just won’t interpret that as horribly as that really sounded to me, and step back and not react to what that person just said and maybe see if there’s some other way I can address this, not on social media or even in person at a later time and not even go there.

Angela Bowman:

It won’t hurt you to not respond to something. It’s the other thing. It’s not going to kill you if someone says something offensive on social media and you choose not to reply and just make a note to maybe talk to that person.

Tracy Apps:

But are you sure?

Angela Bowman:

But that’s the calling out thing where we just feel like, “No, I have to respond to this. I have to call this person out. And I have to call out the interpretation that I’m applying to what they said true or not,” anyway. But it’s so-

Tracy Apps:

I see that a lot in like marginalized community space that like for me, being very much benefiting from the white privilege that, “Oh, I need to have the last word,” that’s still centering myself in this. Even though if I’m like, “Oh, no, I wanted …” Nope, I’m just not going to say anything and I’m going to listen.

Tracy Apps:

And I think that that’s something that is definitely, I think hopefully has become more evident, especially through these past couple of years and all the protests that more and more people are starting to see this and start understanding, like listening and not centering ourselves around in the problem or like, “Oh, no. What?” No, just kind of listening and taking that.

Tracy Apps:

It’s something that’s not modeled in a lot of things. And we were talking about kind of toxic communication. Look at every single rom-com. Look at every single one of those relationships. And I’m like, that is modeled as this, “Oh, this thing,” and I’m like, “That is toxic. Healthy boundaries would be really helpful here because then …” So literally, I’ll be sitting in these movies, “I think boundaries would be really helpful here.”

Angela Bowman:

That’s really funny.

Raquel Landefeld:

You wouldn’t have a movie. I feel like I dissect every single movie ever. I’m like, “If you just would’ve done this, then it would be like solved” But then there would be no movie. But, no, to what we were saying earlier about the intent, it’s exactly the thing is you don’t disregard wisdom. If you have intuition, I mean, there’s people in our community that I immediately, the moment I met them knew they were bad news and I was right. And so that doesn’t mean that you ignore that. You use wisdom.

Raquel Landefeld:

But what I did from that point on, knowing that something’s not right here, all my radars are going off, then I’m like, again, it was like, “Okay, but then I’m going to assume good intent.” So then I’m going to respond in a gracious way or I’m going to maybe they’re going to try to persuade me into some sort of something and I’m going to be like, “You know, maybe not.” And I’m going to do it in the most gracious way.

Raquel Landefeld:

And I will say, if anyone’s curious about how to, you will just try and do it and change and you will stumble like crazy. Your words will be nonsense. You won’t know what you’re doing. And I will say right now, one of the most amazing things to say in any sort of situation is I have this desire to change the way I think, this desire to get all of us to be on the same page and to grow together.

Raquel Landefeld:

And so I’m tripping all over myself and I’m not doing this the best way I possibly can, but I want to and I’m doing it. And if you would just have the patience with me and allowing me to make these mistakes along the way, then we’re going to get there, because I full-heartedly believe in vulnerability. Vulnerability, like crazy and people say it. It’s a buzzword. It’s like the same thing with community building became a buzzword forever and it kind of drove me crazy because I’m like, who’s actually doing it?

Raquel Landefeld:

Or how many of us yell about our national level politics, which I get it, I get it. Or how many of us are serving our neighborhoods and our cities? How many of us know our city council members? What are we doing to actually show that we’re going to do what it takes for us to serve and to have intent? What are we doing other than like, okay, I think I want to have a good intent, so I’m just going to sit here and it’s going to zap me. Something’s going to zap me into having good intent.

Raquel Landefeld:

We have to start … And right now, I’m doing the call to action. I just shoved it all in here right now but we had to start somewhere. We had to start somewhere and not … I guess my point is don’t be afraid to stumble all over the place and do not be afraid to be vulnerable and say, “I am intentional about changing the way I’ve approached things in the past. And please bear with me and I’ll bear with you.”

Angela Bowman:

Oh, I love that. Yeah. Because we’ve all made mistakes even in our trying to be virtuous. And I’ve certainly feel like sometimes I come out about certain things that I’m passionate about and it’s like, was that effective? Was that the effective approach? And I felt very right and righteous about it, but I don’t know that it landed. Maybe it was some people who also feel right and righteous it landed, but the other people maybe not.

Angela Bowman:

And so I think to be honest about, yeah, maybe I was wrong about that. That’s challenging. I think having children helps because they’ll call you out on all that stuff.

Raquel Landefeld:

Oh, my gosh.

Angela Bowman:

Your teenagers will tell you when you’re full of it.

Raquel Landefeld:

Oh, my gosh. It’s so funny because when people say that they’re not sure they’re ever having kids and I’m always like, “Don’t do it.” “You’re right. Don’t do it.”

Angela Bowman:

Don’t.

Raquel Landefeld:

But however, I will say that my kids are the best things, persons in my life. And I would not be who I was today if I wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t. And so to that point, I joke at people all the time because I’m like, “Don’t do it. It’s 20 plus years of your life that is dedicated to another person.” But the other part of me is like, oh my gosh, but you will grow like crazy and you will be blessed beyond you can even imagine. Sorry, now that took a turn.

Angela Bowman:

So in terms of your work, so you do this work with Elegant Themes event coordinator, but you’re also doing things aside from that in your communities and stuff. Tell us, what does it take? If someone else was interested in doing the kind of work being an event coordinator, doing the kind of work that you do, how would you recommend they kind of get into that field and get started in this space?

Raquel Landefeld:

Yeah. Well, I mean, the way I did it was volunteering. So I started volunteering for WordCamps. Then I started organizing WordCamps like every WordCamp. I’ve organized six plus WordCamp Phoenix events and then three WordCamp US events. And really through all that discovered, this is what I love. I love doing this. What if I get actually paid to do it? And actually, my company that I started with my ex-partner I exited from, and it was all good exit, all good feels. I just really wanted to pursue this sort of work.

Raquel Landefeld:

So, yeah, I left it and then just kept volunteering. And at WordCamp Phoenix 2019, I met the content manager from Elegant Themes. And he was like, “We’re looking for someone to do exactly what you do.” And I was curious because that’s exactly what I do, is exactly what I do. That’s one way. But I mean, it literally is a walking resume. It is volunteering. And on LinkedIn, you can’t put it as a job, but there’s in part where you can put your volunteering. And I mean, that thing is jam-packed with all of my volunteering and I update it all the time. And when you look at it, you’re seeing that everything you’re doing is the job description of a lot of what people are looking for.

Raquel Landefeld:

So, that’s one way, to do it that way. Otherwise, of course we know networking, knowing people … Right now as it is, I’ve met a lot of people in the community and there’s been a lot of rules in the community that would absolutely fit with me as well. And there are times that people have said, “Hey, I’d love for you to be on our team, but the timing’s not right.” And I’m like, “You know where to find me.”

Raquel Landefeld:

I mean, honestly, I guess all that to say, really, if someone wants to be in this sort of role, just start doing it because this sort of role is something that can be done as a volunteer. And if you’re doing it and you have the time to or the ability to, then people are going to see. Especially if you do it well, people are going to see. That’s the quickest way.

Tracy Apps:

Just do it.

Raquel Landefeld:

Just do it.

Angela Bowman:

Nothing ever happens sitting at home just being good at something. You really do have to get out there.

Raquel Landefeld:

And they say, what you love you do for free. And how much of that is true. I went to school for photography and became a photographer. Literally, as soon as somebody started paying me, I hated it, hated it, like hated it. I was like, “Okay, I decided I do not want to be a photographer.” But I loved volunteering. I loved organizing these events, like loved it. I loved pouring parts of my life, like 40 hours plus per week, depending on how close you were into the event. And so it works itself out that way, just like organic the way it all goes down.

Angela Bowman:

That’s amazing.

Tracy Apps:

As someone that does not have those skills, I appreciate people that can do that and have that follow through. So I think it’s something that we just kind of don’t seem to celebrate as much because they’re all behind the scenes. They’re all doing other stuff. But that’s amazing. We wouldn’t have any of this stuff. This stuff would just crumble and fall into the sea if this wasn’t.

Raquel Landefeld:

Yeah. And then to that note, I wish I did more public speaking and I often kind of have these thoughts of like, “Oh, my gosh, I wish I was as good as Tracy when she gives her talks,” things like that.

Tracy Apps:

I just stand there and I flail my arms around a lot, basically. There’s times I basically kind of what I do, I feel like it’s like a public speaking blackout, and then I will watch it. I’ll look at what people have live tweeted afterwards. I’ll be like, “Oh, that was actually pretty good.” I’m like, “I don’t remember, I didn’t prepare saying that. I have no idea where that came from, but that was actually pretty good. Who was that?”

Raquel Landefeld:

That’s too good. Well, and to that point too of what I was saying earlier, because even what I do for The WP Minute, that’s because I’m really good friends with Matt. I love him like a brother and he was really wanting some help from the community side of just wrangling content. And I was like, “Well, I love you, so let’s do this. You’re one of my favorite peoples. So why wouldn’t I want to help you with this?” I mean, again, that goes back to just doing it and networking. Ugh, I hate using that word. It’s so like biz.

Tracy Apps:

I know. I know, but yeah.

Raquel Landefeld:

Got another phrase for that, another word of networking?

Angela Bowman:

I don’t.

Raquel Landefeld:

People hopping?

Tracy Apps:

I know we’ll have to think of something. We’ll have to put out a poll because, yeah, I think I agree.

Raquel Landefeld:

There’s so many different things to so many different people. People think network, the business cards at a networking event. Ew.

Tracy Apps:

Oh, gosh.

Angela Bowman:

Ew, ew, ew.

Tracy Apps:

I was just trying to think of what I could do with a business card. And actually what I was thinking is now I … We need to learn this, but I want a little QR code that then would have this augmented reality and then have a little Tupac on top of my business card presenting my work.

Raquel Landefeld:

The Coachella Tupac … Like the Coachella Hologram Tupac?

Tracy Apps:

Exactly.

Angela Bowman:

I had so much stuff that I had to pack leaving Porto from WordCamp Europe. And I brought the stack of business cards that I did not use at all. And someone had given me this little tiny disc, a plastic disc that if you just waved it over the phone, it would add you to their phone.

Raquel Landefeld:

That’s awesome.

Angela Bowman:

So I had the stack of business cards. I never handed out even a single one. And so I threw them away in Porto, like threw them into the recycling and it was like, okay, I’m guess I’m done with business cards for the rest of my life. I’m just going to go round waving this little plastic disc, just enter people’s phones.

Tracy Apps:

That’s why I started doing stickers because I was like, I put my stickers on my computer and my water bottle.

Angela Bowman:

That’s more impactful. I think cute stickers. I love that.

Raquel Landefeld:

Or the QR codes, definitely. Because it’s not … The idea of a business card isn’t bad. It’s just like, as soon as someone hands me when I’m like, trash. And it’s not that I don’t want to connect with them. I do. And that’s why having some sort of bump, it’s the best. Or like QR code. Yeah.

Angela Bowman:

Well, it’s been great talking to you. I did want to just touch on before we go, the fact that you are an active ballroom dancer. Yes.

Raquel Landefeld:

Totally, just I love it. I love those videos.

Angela Bowman:

So you’re community queen, you are an extrovert. You love people and you ballroom.

Tracy Apps:

Can you do a talk and teach us how to ballroom dance?

Raquel Landefeld:

Wow, that would be amazing. Oh, my gosh, really quick story. For WordCamp Phoenix 2019, it was our 10-year anniversary and our whole theme was academics. So it was like a high school reunion. And for our after-party, we were literally calling it the homecoming and we had a homecoming dance and the whole team fought me. They said, “Raquel, no one’s going to do a dance.” I hired my dance coach to come and teach everybody bachata. [inaudible 00:46:33]

Tracy Apps:

I wish I could’ve been.

Raquel Landefeld:

And my whole team, every single one of them was like, “Raquel, I just don’t think that’s our community.” There were 80 people here actually in this room learning that now, dancing bachata, WordPressers. WordPressers you know, they were dancing bachata. And I was so proud. I was like, that’s great.

Angela Bowman:

I’m down with this. I’m down with the flash mob at the WordCamps. Let’s do it. Let’s make it happen every time.

Raquel Landefeld:

But I grew up, I was a dancer up … Actually I feel like even having my last baby to like 26, 25 anyway. And I took a 10-year hiatus, not on purpose, and I got to the point where I was like, “I need to dance again. Someone’s going to die. Either you’re going to die or I’m going to die. Someone’s going to die. Then I’ll dance again,” and then found ballroom. And so it’s so much fun. It’s so much fun. I’m very athletic. And my favorite styles are the Latin style, so salsa, bachata, or cha-cha, rumba, all that stuff. That’s absolutely my favorite.

Raquel Landefeld:

It definitely exercises that part of me, that artist part of me where, and actor like I used to do theater. And so it’s my saving grace for sure.

Angela Bowman:

That’s awesome.

Tracy Apps:

Well, I will look forward to when you will be doing a talk or workshop on whatever kind of dance. I want to learn all of it. So, I’ll be there.

Raquel Landefeld:

That’s so funny. I’ll have to give little tiny lessons out of WordCamp after party, because I don’t think any place will accept my talk if it’s-

Tracy Apps:

Well, they should.

Raquel Landefeld:

… how you can build community through salsa.

Angela Bowman:

Yes. Yes.

Tracy Apps:

Because some people might think that they’re, so you’re talking about salsa, the food, and they’ll be like, “Oh, yeah, I like chips.” And then be like, “Oh, salsa the dancing?”

Angela Bowman:

Well, my stepdaughter is a competitive salsa dancer. I’ll send you some videos, and she’s got community. I’d say there, you got something on there.

Raquel Landefeld:

Right. It’s commissioned.

Angela Bowman:

All righty. Let people know how they can find you online.

Raquel Landefeld:

Oh, yeah. So I am in the middle of sunsetting my last name because it’s my married name, but I’ve had it for over 20 years and I’m not married anymore. So, I’m trying to be strategic. So all that to say, I’ve now adopted my middle name. So it’s Raquel Karina in most places. So in Twitter, it’s @raquel__karina. And then Instagram, it’s Raquel. LinkedIn, like the URLs, it’s all like Raquel Karina, even Facebook.

Raquel Landefeld:

But my name is still Raquel Landefeld. But if you just search Raquel Karina or Raquel Landefeld almost anywhere, you’ll find me. In any Slack instance in WordPress, it’s just Raquel. Thankfully, I’m the only Raquel. So, it’s not too hard to find.

Angela Bowman:

That’s awesome, yay. And we would like to do a last acknowledgement for our wonderful sponsor, Ninja Forms. And that allows us to be able to edit the episodes, host, transcribe, all the good things. If you’re interested in being a sponsor of this podcast, please reach out to us, womeninwp@gmail.com. And thank you so much, Raquel, for being here today.

Raquel Landefeld:

You’re so welcome.

Speaker 1:

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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