003: Serverless Hosting and more with Miriam Schwab

Episode three of Women in WP, we talk to Miriam Schwab about unhackable WordPress sites and how to be an all around WP bad ass while also being a busy mom of seven.


About Miriam: Twelve years ago Miriam stumbled across WordPress and it was love at first sight. Since then, she has gone on to found one of Israel’s leading WordPress development agencies, illuminea. More recently Miriam founded Strattic, the “unhosting” platform that publishes Open Source CMSs as static and serverless, making them virtually unhackable, and exponentially faster. Five-time organizer of WordCamp Israel, regular speaker at WordPress meetups and events including three-time speaker at WordCamp Europe, and mom of seven. Advocate for women in tech. In her spare time, Miriam likes to…haha spare time as if.

Find Miriam: Website | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


003: Serverless Hosting and more with Miriam Schwab

 
 
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Show Notes

We spoke to Miriam about being a WordCamp organizer and speaker, traveling, being a mom, founding a company, and managing it all by being super efficient. In this podcast, Amy also appeals for sponsors, so we can take our show on the road and get free stuff.

Tools, services, people, and places mentioned in this episode include:

  • Strattic – Instantly transform your WordPress website into a static, serverless version of itself with absolutely no change in how you manage it.
  • JAMstack – Modern web development architecture based on client-side JavaScript, reusable APIs, and prebuilt Markup.
  • LAMP stack – What we typically use to host websites.
  • AlgoliaRelevant, scalable, and lightning fast search engine for websites.
  • Freemius – Freemius is the new standard in selling premium & freemium WordPress plugins & themes. It also happens to be an Israeli company.
  • Elementor – Another Israeli company founded this tool they call the best WordPress Page Builder, with over 2000000 active installs. Create beautiful websites using a simple, intuitive drag and drop Interface.
  • WordCamp Central – WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users like you. 
  • WordCamp Europe – Apparently, they throw the best after party. It’s in Berlin this year, which should be amazing.
  • WordCamp USA – Being held in St Louis this year.
  • WordCamp Israel – Plans are under way for this year!
  • GmeliusGmelius lets you automate your clients’ outreach and manage projects with your team from Gmail. Voted as the #1 Gmail App to try in 2019!
  • Zapier – Let’s you automate a lot of your process for greater efficiency.
  • Contact Form 7 – A super simple, free contact form builder for your website.
  • Gravity Forms – A premium contact form plugin which we all know and love.
  • Listen to Miriam’s talks at various WordCamps on WordPress.tv.

 

Transcript

Amy M.: 00:01 Welcome to Women in WP, a bimonthly podcast about women who blog, design, develop, and more in the WordPress community.

Angela B.: 00:12 Hi, welcome to Episode 3 of Women in WP. I’m Angela Bowman.

Amy M.: 00:16 I’m Amy Masson.

Tracy A.: 00:17 I’m Tracy Apps.

Angela B.: 00:19 I’d like to introduce our guest today, Miriam Schwab, who’s joining us from Israel.

Miriam S.: 00:24 Hi.

Angela B.: 00:24 Hey, we’re so happy to have you on the show. Miriam founded one of Israel’s leading WordPress development agencies and more recently founded Strattic. She calls the un-hosting platform. They publish open source CMSs as static and serverless making them virtually unhackable and exponentially faster. She is a five-time organizer of WordCamp Israel, regular speaker at WordPress meetups and events, including three time speaker at WordCamp Europe and mom of seven. She’s an advocate for women in tech and is a perfect guest for our show. I’d like to kick things off, Miriam, by asking you about your journey into WordPress and how that’s evolved over the years.

Miriam S.: 01:11 Okay. So, my journey started about, I would say 12 to 13 years ago when I realized I needed to not be in a nine-to-five type of job anymore. I had had my fourth kid at that time and kids are very dynamic and unpredictable, and I also didn’t understand why we had to show up at an office to work. I want it to work, but like, why do I have to be in a particular physical location when there is the Internet, you know, and that suited my lifestyle and my lifestyle choices more. So, I branched out as a freelancer just doing content and stuff, but I had a love for technology. So I took the opportunity of having very few clients at the beginning to teach myself how to build websites. And, first I did just, you know, html and CSS, there wasn’t really much javascript happening at that time. I start to offer it as a service and people actually wanted it. So I was building a few websites and it just became annoying every time they want to change something on their site.

Miriam S.: 02:22 Like, can you just add this comma? No over there. No over there. And I was like, this cannot go on. This was annoying for me. And also limiting for them. So exploring the content management systems at the time, which is basically what it is today. WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. I loved it. I loved it. The templating system and the tags, and I don’t know, it just worked well. And also the content management system side itself, my clients, it was pretty easy to teach them how to use it. So I started to implement that. And at that time people saw WordPress like a blogging platform, not for websites, but slowly but surely people’s attitudes towards WordPress changed. It starts to be seen as a more legitimate solution for businesses. Version three came out and it became a full fledged content management system. People got sick of their proprietary CMS is, and they start to look for WordPress suppliers. I was one of the first in Israel to offer it as like kind of like a business solution. It just grew from there. So yeah.

Tracy A.: 03:32 That’s really awesome. I’m curious, actually, I’m curious as to your second adventure, too. So what inspired that? That shift to, yes, we went from like we basically we’re coming full circle but with the ability to be able to content manage things, but then having that security of that. I’m fascinated by this, so I want to understand a little bit more of the story of how you started that [Strattic hosting] and why.

Miriam S.: 04:01 Yeah, it is like we’re going back, it’s almost like static websites that 1995, what are you thinking? But, if you keep your eye on the trends in the world of web development, there is a strong uptick in interest in what’s called static site generators. Which are, it’s like an easier way to create a static website. Static meaning there’s no underlying database. It doesn’t mean that there’s no interactivity on the site. People thinks static… Static, it’s an unfortunate word. It sounds like it’s frozen and stuck and not exciting, but it’s really just referring to the technical makeup of the site. So, the reason web developers are starting to embrace this approach, web development of static site generation is because anyone who is in our field has suffered from issues related to security. Right? I mean, you know, some kind of malware or some kind of breach, you know, needing to clean it up.

Miriam S.: 05:09 It happens regularly unfortunately. And the slow page loads. In my agency, Illuminae, eventually like we realized we had to take that into consideration when developing the sites and we ended up not using themes anymore that were commercial. We developed our own framework so that it wasn’t full of all the junk that just bogs them down. But no matter what we did, in any case, the underlying architecture of WordPress being that it has to query the database to bring the content and there’s an underlying processor processing server that’s running all the time converting PHP to HTML. Also, if that processing server has any kind of load on it, even if not really to the site, forget it, everything slows down. It’s just these are huge pain points. So I love to read up on our field, and you know, static site generators sound dreamy, but there’s no way you can offer that to a client because most people managing the content on a website are marketers, you know, or content creators and they’re not going to feel comfortable deploying a site using command line interface, CLI.

Miriam S.: 06:23 This is not going to go. It’s not. You can’t be like, here you go. You know, open a terminal window and just type in a few commands, and you’re good to go. You know, it makes the developers happy, but not the marketers. So I thought, why can’t we maybe bridge these two worlds together? WordPress is awesome, despite these weaknesses. I mean, it continues to grow tremendously and there’s a reason why. It’s because no matter what, it’s by far the best choice for, a company or an individual or organization that wants a website that they can manage the content, has a strong community around it, great plugin ecosystem, theme ecosystem, is constantly being developed. You know, it has integrations with third party services. There’s nothing else like it. Now with Gutenberg, which is controversial, it helps. I think it helps.

Miriam S.: 07:17 Like right now it’s still kind of problematic, but I think it brings it in line with the world of like SAAS [Software As a Service] website builders like Wix and Squarespace. So it’s awesome, but it has these huge pain points, which are, they are really painful. So maybe if we bring it together, then we get the benefits of WordPress with the benefits of static site generation. And then you have Strattic.

Tracy A.: 07:39 That’s where everyone wins.

Miriam S.: 07:41 Yeah, I mean the developers are happy. We’ve been in my agency and now also when we’re dealing with our clients. You’ll see, a company will have one to 10 wordpress websites and then the marketers are responsible for the content, but when they have technical issues, they go to some IT person in the company or even sometimes an engineer, right? The engineer wants nothing to do with that WordPress website, they’re not interested in it.

Miriam S.: 08:07 That’s not their area of expertise. It’s not just, they don’t, and it bothers them. You know, the LAMP architecture, and they still are kind of burdened with that. So this way that person is happy because the site that’s generated is up to their standards. The marketer is happy because they can continue using the platform that they know best and that serves them well. Yeah, everybody wins.

Amy M.: 08:34 Would you be able to give us like a brief, maybe simple, simplified version of how it actually works?

Miriam S.: 08:45 Sure. So our clients have a website. Let’s take a scenario where someone already has a website and it’s hosted wherever. It’s essentially like if you, your migrate the site from one hosting company to another. We can help them migrate a copy of their site to our staging area. So our staging area is, it’s a regular server where their WordPress website runs.

Miriam S.: 09:11 The difference between that server and what they have now is that only they have access to that server, not the bots that are going around the web trying to breach websites or that also weighed down websites. So you have to be authenticated by our system to access that, that site. It’s on a subdomain of ours, not on mysite.com. It’s in a container, a docker container, which spins down when it’s not being used. So right now when you’re running a WordPress site, it’s always running like the engine behind it. Even if someone updates their site once a year, the whole thing is always running. So in our scenario, it spins up when the user needs to make changes and shuts itself down when not. So you get like an additional layer of security there that the site actually doesn’t exist, you know, let’s say most of the time in most cases, for anyone’s even breach it. So our clients log into or authenticate into Strattic. They log into their WordPress website, they use it as they normally would. They can add plugins that can use themes. They can do whatever they want. I always say you can be as irresponsible with your website as you want, you can run Revolution Slider, an outdated version. You could have TimThumb on it, you can do anything!

Miriam S.: 10:34 Just be terribly irresponsible. And that’s all fine. And then when you finish making changes to your site or whatever, then you click this one button that we add to the Admin, and that publishes the site as a static version. So it basically takes the front end of the site, all the pages that are generated, and it deploys them as basically just the collection of html, CSS and Javascript, which are served up. I’m going to get into a little bit of AWS stuff. I only learn AWS by the way, when I founded Strattic, because in our world we avoid it. And for good reason, I mean, you know, I would hear about AWS and I would go in and then you have this list of like 50 services and you’re like, “Where do I start? What does it all mean?”

Miriam S.: 11:20 What is CloudFront and CloudWatch. It’s endless. I mean EBS and ES. So we’re running on AWS. So the static files are served up from their S3, which is their (Amazon’s) static file storage. So it’s like basically infinitely scalable. So there’s no load issues. It’s very hard to DDoS the site. That’s just a collection of static files. And an example that at Illuminae, at one point we accidentally DDoSed our own server. That’s because it’s so easy to DDoS.

Miriam S.: 12:02 I think we were running some kind of scraper and we meant o do it on one site, but it just ended up taking everything down. Yeah. So, but when it’s static files, even if you do something stupid like that, it’s not going anywhere. And then we serve it up through AWS, CloudFront CDN. So it’s actually like a copy of it as being served up from basically every geographical location in the world. So it’s, it’s fast for everyone, including like Australia, which some people care about. So you end up kind of with like three layers of your website. You have the original one, which spins up for you. Then you have the S3 files, which is your site and acts and looks exactly the same, and then that’s served up through the CDN. So you have multiple points of failure or not failure, meaning it’s much more stable and much more scalable. That’s how it works. I hope that was clear, and if you have any questions, please ask.

Amy M.: 12:57 No, it’s really super interesting. So I’m wondering with a system like that, are there any restrictions or constraints that you wouldn’t have with a regular served website?

Miriam S.: 13:09 Excellent question. And yes, there are. Okay. So our goal is to cover all use cases, but at the moment, so an example of something that we don’t support is WooCommerce because the shopping cart has to interact with the database. That’s just how it’s built. Right? And the database is nowhere to be found on our static version of the site. So let’s say the all the items that are for sale are fine because they’re essentially just front end, but once you want to start adding things to the shopping cart, and it has to communicate with database, it’s not going to happen.

Miriam S.: 13:44 We have plans for how we’re going to support it using Javascript and web workers and things like that. Another example of something that we don’t support is a client login area. Like you have an area for your clients log in and see content of some kind, that also needs database communication.

Amy M.: 14:01 So no membership capabilities.

Miriam S.: 14:04 We can’t support membership at this time.

Angela B.: 14:06 What about like web forms? How do you deal with web forms?

Miriam S.: 14:09 Right. So a few common use cases that we do support. So there’s forms, comments and search. So the way that we support it is, we’ll take forms for example. We started by supporting Contact Form 7 because it has the most installs. What happens is when we deployed a static conversion of the site, so when you click the submit button, there’s like an action. It’s like action equals something, something. We replace that with something called the lambda function, which is an Amazon serverless technology. And it grabs that form submission and emails it to whoever is supposed to get email too. So that’s a basic type of support. So that works fine. So you can still build your form using Contact Form 7, which is useful. Then it does what it’s supposed to do at the end. So that’s with regards to forms with regards to comments. At the moment, our clients are either using Discus or Facebook comments. So that works fine. There’s more and more commenting solutions that are being released all the time for the use case of static sites because they’re also growing in use. So our clients can use those as well. And for search we replaced the search with Algolia.

Miriam S.: 15:22 Algolia is a third party search solution, which is a very high quality search, better than the native WordPress search. At first we were offering, we did our own search solution, which was Javascript, client side, um, solution. It was very fast, but the search results weren’t high quality enough. So we’re like, all right, let’s use search developed by people who focus on search and are doing it really, really well. Instead of us trying to reinvent the wheel. So Algolia has a free tier and, you know, that works great for, for our clients. So yeah, so those are the three main use cases that we do have like solutions and work arounds for. And our goal is to develop support for the other ones going forward.

Amy M.: 16:05 So is Contact Form 7 the only one you guys are supporting or do you do other forms now too?

Speaker 1: 16:09 So Contact Form 7 we support in a way that I that understand the configurations that were set up by the users, meaning basically out of the box it knows who’s supposed to get the email submission. With the other forms systems, we’re using third-party form end points. With my favorite form system, Gravity Forms…

Amy M.: 16:34 Yeah, mine, too.

Miriam S.: 16:36 Yeah, it’s so amazing. So with that, we replaced the action also as an endpoint, but we don’t yet support all of the Gravity Forms functionality. Let’s say if they choose that they’re interested in, you know, they’re contacting us for support, email this to our support team [conditional notifications]. That’s kind of advanced functionality. So we don’t support that yet. In the meantime, the basic use cases, let’s say contact forms or whatever other types of forms, email straight to a certain number of email addresses and that’s it.

Miriam S.: 17:09 But the goal is also to support more nice functionality.

Amy M.: 17:13 That’s really interesting.

Miriam S.: 17:16 What was interesting about doing this at this time is that, um, there’s more and more solutions being developed using Javascript, which provide the kind of dynamic functionality that we get from database communication that you can now offer it on the client side. And a lot of sites use integrations with third-party services anyway. So for forms, a lot of our clients, in any case, use Hubspot, let’s say. So the form is going into Hubspot directly and that’s perfect for us. Tracking codes and all that kind of stuff, which is Javascript works perfectly. And then like I said, you know, there’s more and more things being released, such as open source solutions for comments and even search and all sorts of things. So in terms of the timing for us and for our users, it’s really good.

Angela B.: 18:05 That’s awesome. I think we could just speak for like hours, and we should, we should have a side conversation. It just, so many questions, but I would like to loop back to your involvement in the wordpress community and, you know, particularly speaking, being involved with organizing WordCamp Israel and speaking at WordCamp Europe. We, of course, want you to tell us we should come to WordCamp Europe.

Miriam S.: 18:36 Okay. I’ll tell you about WordCamp Europe. I did organize WordCamp Israel five times. Someone else had started organizing it and then they couldn’t anymore. And then my coworker Rebecca was like, we should organize it. And I was like, no. Okay. And so, and that is basically what happened. And we did it five times. It was amazing. Awesome and everything. And then WordCamp Central created a regulation that you can only organize up to two. So we’re actually, there is another WordCamp Israel in the planning stages now. It’s supposed to be somewhere in September, but I am not the lead organizer. I’m there on the side, but it’s great. I’m so glad it’s happening. Because the last one I think was in 2016 and then I couldn’t organize it any more. Someone else said they were going to take it on. It didn’t happen because it’s hard.

Miriam S.: 19:32 It is hard. It’s a crazy thing to take on. So I’m crazy. That’s why I did it. So, yeah, so it’s going to happen again. And we progressed to WordCamp Europe. So I, I spoke at the first WordCamp Europe, thanks to Andrea Middleton from WordCamp Central. She said they’re organizing this word Camp Europe. We want women to speak and I think it would be great. And she gave me the confidence to apply and I got accepted, which was so exciting. So, I ended up speaking at three. The last one was in Serbia. I’ve spoken in Leiden, which was the first one, Paris and Serbia. And now I just spoke at WordCamp US in Nashville, also. And um, all awesome conferences, but WordCamp Europe is on another level. I highly recommend coming. It is so fun and nobody throws an after party better than Europeans.

Amy M.: 20:29 Oh, I bet.

Miriam S.: 20:30 So it’s really awesome.

Amy M.: 20:35 I love a good after party.

Miriam S.: 20:36 Oh my gosh. Well now apparently I do, too. I didn’t know that I was going to, but I’m, the one in Serbia was so amazing. Leave it to eastern Europeans especially. So, yeah, totally. You should come. And the next one is in Berlin. I haven’t been to Berlin yet. But, it’s supposed to be an amazing city. So if you can, I know it’s far.

Tracy A.: 20:59 I’ll probably be there.

Miriam S.: 21:01 Oh, totally. Oh good. That’s amazing.

Amy M.: 21:03 We need to get sponsors. I’m reaching out to any sponsors that want to sponsor the Women in WordPress women podcast women to attend WordCamp Europe, we would be accepting of those sponsorships.

Tracy A.: 21:12 We could do a live show.

Amy M.: 21:14 We would have to do a live show. I believe so, yes.

Tracy A.: 21:17 I think so. Anyway,

Miriam S.: 21:18 I think that would continue to appeal to the WordPress community to anyone who is listening out there. Yeah. They should be supportive of your coming to WordCamp Europe.

Tracy A.: 21:29 What does the WordPress community in Israel looked like? Is it very active? Is it centralized in a certain area? Like, you know, I know nothing about the WordPress community there.

Miriam S.: 21:41 First of all, some of the big companies in the world of WordPress are from Israel. So there’s Elementor which is Israeli. I don’t know if you guys knew that, what’s it called? Freemius.

Angela B.: 21:57 I met the Freemius guy at LoopConf when he was just starting it.

Miriam S.: 22:01 Yup. Yup, Yup. Yeah. So he’s great. And he’s here. Oh, WPML.

Amy M.: 22:12 I use that one.

Tracy A.: 22:12 Me, too.

Miriam S.: 22:14 So they’re from Israel. So like some of the big systems are coming out of Israel, which is amazing. In terms of the community, when we were doing the WordCamp conferences, that’s really when we would all meet up. There’s some very active Facebook groups, and very helpful. Like people are really helpful to each other. There’s been some attempts to do Meetups, which didn’t succeed, but now actually in Jerusalem, my coworkers have been organizing a monthly WordPress meetup in Jerusalem and there’s been really great response. People are interested in. So that’s really great. There’s another conference that recently started in the last few years. Someone else started organizing it. It’s not WordCamp. He called Press 4 Word, and it was a more commercial (that’s a very Israeli name by the way, to have the number four in the middle).

Miriam S.: 23:07 It’s a much more commercial conference and being very like open sourcey myself, it was hard for me to digest it. But I decided to try to be open minded. And I went and then I ended up speaking at a few of them, actually. And I saw that I was very embedded in the, like core contributor type of people. You know, leading developers in Israel who work with WordPress and contribute to WordPress, different things like that. And that was what our WordCamps were more about. We’d always have two tracks and one was developer oriented and very high level, and then we’d have a content track. I guess it’s also Israel’s nature to be more like technology oriented, but this commercial conference brought just users and implementers and small business owners. He had a huge turnout, and I thought that was really nice.

Miriam S.: 24:02 Like I felt like I needed to reduce my snobby level and be like. When I was at WordCamp US, so you’ve got, let’s say like 1500 or 2000 people there. I don’t know. And they’re definitely like the core, but it’s like millions of people using WordPress, and they’re not those people. There are other people, and it’s important to see them and get to know them. And so this other conference really opened my eyes to that. Yeah, so it’s very diverse, like everywhere, ranging from top level developers, to implementers and builders and people who have like a small business or want to have a blog and that’s all great. That’s what we’re presses about.

Angela B.: 24:45 That sounds a little bit, do you guys think like PresNomics. I mean PressNomics here, I’ve kind of heard that, that it’s more builders, implementers, the business owners and stuff. I’ve never been. This year it’s in Tucson in September, and I haven’t been, but everyone’s like, this is a really fun conference because it is those kinds of people that you’re describing. So I’ll have to report back to you and let you know. Tracy, have you been to Pressnomics? You’re going, right?

Tracy A.: 25:16 Not yet.

Angela B.: 25:16 We’re going together.

Amy M.: 25:18 Now I feel like I have to go. I’m having a lot of fomo.

Tracy A.: 25:21 Well, we talked about it the last episode and then I was like, oh shit. And then I couldn’t resist the peer pressure. I was like, yeah.

Amy M.: 25:30 I have been trying to resist. It’s really hard. It’s a hard time of year for me to go places.

Miriam S.: 25:36 Yeah. It’s like the kids are getting back into school.

Amy M.: 25:40 School and sports and my son’s birthday and it’s just a difficult time to be away, but oh man, the fomo is big.

Miriam S.: 25:50 Major fomo about everything. I want to go to that. I want to go to other ones. I am going to WordCamp London in April.

Amy M.: 25:55 Oh wonderful.

Miriam S.: 25:55 It’s actually my first like I’ve only been to WordCamp Europe or WordCamp US, which are the big ones. So it was my first opportunity to go to a local one, and London is awesome. And I hear it’s a really great conference, and I’m really excited and I’ll be speaking.

Tracy A.: 26:11 Yay.

Amy M.: 26:12 And what’s your topic?

Miriam S.: 26:14 My topic is JAMstack. What is JAMstack? What we were talking about when I was describing what static site generators are. So the founder of a company called Netlify came up with this term. So there’s the LAMP stack, right? Which is what we all know. The Linux Apache MySQL PHP stack. So this is the idea that there’s a new generation of web stacks. JAM – JAM stands for Javascript API Markup, which the general architecutre of static site generators. So I’m talking about that and its relationship to WordPress. Can there be a relationship or not?

Tracy A.: 26:49 We’ll have to go and find out.

Amy M.: 26:53 If anyone would like to sponsor the Women in WP podcast to go to WordCamp London, please contact us on our web form.

Angela B.: 26:59 We’re taking the show on the road. We’re doing a tour.

Miriam S.: 27:03 You guys know Conan O’brien has a podcast. It’s really hilarious because every like break is basically helped me pay for my holiday home. You guys are like that.

Amy M.: 27:17 Episode 3 is where Amy asks for free stuff. The whole time.

Miriam S.: 27:20 Always ask for free stuff.

Angela B.: 27:24 Get us tickets and yeah. Hey, we have direct flights to London for like $250 each way from Denver.

Amy M.: 27:30 We have deals all the time right now. Yeah.

Miriam S.: 27:35 That’s cheaper than Israel and Israel’s closer.

Angela B.: 27:38 So yeah, it’s super cheap. It’s Norwegian Air.

Miriam S.: 27:43 Whatever, whatever.

Angela B.: 27:44 Whatever it is. It works. I did it in the fall and it’s awesome. And you’ll love London if you haven’t been.

Miriam S.: 27:48 I’m really excited, I was there one when I spoke at a conference there like years ago, and I had very little kids then. You saw my kid, she’s not a baby. I had babies, and I was in and out. So I saw London itself, like two hours and I was like, it’s amazing and I need to see it again. So I’m going to hopefully have the opportunity.

Angela B.: 28:08 That’s so great to be, you know, Tracy was asking you about the Israeli community, but you’re so close to Europe. So that must be really awesome to be able to tap into that.

Miriam S.: 28:18 Everyone’s really amazing and that’s, I had never even applied for WordCamp US or even thought about it because with little kids, babies and all that, I just, I couldn’t do it. It’s the flights, and I couldn’t But Europe, I mean going to Serbia, I think it was a three-hour flight. Paris is a four-hour flight. Paris was five. Leiden was also, I think it was three. We’re talking about maximum five-hour flight, no time zone difference. It made it much more doable for me as a mom really. So, so that is great.

Amy M.: 28:53 I wanted to ask you about as a mother of seven going to all these conferences, what do you find to be the most challenging aspect?

Miriam S.: 29:02 Well when the kids were much smaller. Now my oldest is 20, so you know. It’s almost like I have two groups of kids. I have my teens to 20, and then I have my little kids who are like four and three. So now it’s much different because my older kids do help out and you know, but when they were all little, that was really hard. So my husband definitely picked up the slack when I was away, but I also had to be very efficient about any time that I went away. I did it very rarely. And if I did it was, it was literally like get there the minute before I speak and leave as soon as I can kind of thing. That was, that was the only way I could do it. And I definitely didn’t go to as many things as maybe I would have liked to.

Miriam S.: 29:45 But that’s been my whole career. Like doing the motherhood thing with the career thing. Like I miss out on things and that’s fine. Like that was a conscious choice, you know, you missed out on something, another opportunity comes along, something else comes along and then at the right time, you know, that’s when I can do things. And that’s also with regards to the founding of Strattic. I had always wanted to found a company that was like a scalable product, but while I was having babies and taking care of babies, it just, I couldn’t, I knew I couldn’t, it was the wrong timing. But then once my little one, you know, it’s not like a baby anymore. And that’s when I came up with the idea of Strattic. The timing was good. Like I was like, okay, now it’s almost like phase two of my life or my career. I can do this kind of thing. Obviously the kids still need attention. I want to give him attention. I need to be a mom and I want to be a mom. But it’s different than when you’re juggling all the baby stuff. That’s a much different stage of life. Crazy.

Angela B.: 30:48 Yeah, it’s quite liberating. It’s like that four year mark is the liberating mark.

Miriam S.: 30:52 For sure.

Angela B.: 30:52 I had my daughter young, so at four years old it’s like, oh, I can go back to school, I can go to college. It opens up.

Miriam S.: 31:01 Yeah, exactly, exactly. And for me, I was never so good at getting my kids to sleep through the night. So at four that’s when they start sleeping through the night, and I’m actually well rested. My brain is functioning 100%. That also helps. Yeah.

Amy M.: 31:21 Originally when we started this, I was going to try to avoid asking questions about parenting and mothering. Cause I think that’s kind of a sexist question. But then on the flip side, as women, that is something that we have to deal with. I think more so than the men in our lives. Even the great, wonderful dads that are there helping out, we still take on and it’s not… I’ve seen this term called the emotional part of, you know, being a mother is so much different than with men because we’re always trying to figure out who needs to be where and when and what do they need and all these things that, you know, the men, even the great, wonderful dads out there, aren’t really always thinking about.

Miriam S.: 32:00 Totally. So I understand your deliberation about whether we should talk about it. I was interviewed on a podcast here in Israel for female startup founders. And she was like, you can’t, you don’t talk about anything related to being a mother. Like you can talk about it generally or parent, but like she really didn’t want it to be about that. And I totally understand why. I understand that point of view and I totally agreed with her. I also think that not talking about it kind of denies what our reality is. And like you said, I mean, who’s the one who is thinking about the birthday parties: our own kid’s birthday parties, thinking about the other kid’s birthday party, getting the present for the other kid’s birthday party. You know, like the logistics around doctor’s appointments, dentist appointments. I mean I take care of most of that and yeah, it’s definitely a thing, and there’s no question that in the bigger scheme, in some way it holds us back career wise or professionally.

Miriam S.: 33:07 But on the other hand, I think it teaches… Well at least I had to become much more efficient. I was basically like lazy as a teen, and then once the kids come into the picture, you can’t be lazy. It’s like the clock is ticking. If the kid is sleeping now or whatever, or they’re in school or in daycare now, like this is the time, you can’t mess around. So I had to become much more efficient and something that I love always learning about or implementing for my own work processes are different automation tools. Like, I use a tool for email for example, called Gmelius, which is like, I think there’s another one called Boomerang maybe. It takes away my mind space, meaning if I send an email, it will pop back up. If I don’t get a response after a certain amount of time that I define, it just automatically comes back after two days.

Speaker 1: 34:02 And I have some Zapier stuff set up to take this information, put it there, and I’ve just had to make sure to do those kinds of things so that I’m not wasting time. And I’m happy to pay for tools that make me more efficient. Like that’s for sure. Anything that makes me more efficient makes me more valuable, and I can accomplish more. So everyone has to do that. I’m not saying that men don’t have to do that, but, you know, having babies around means there is no other choice, like a, maybe a man or a parent or parents can like be like, I have a baby, but someone else is taking care of the baby so I can work late. This was not a reality for me, you know.

Amy M.: 34:47 I don’t think that we would be able to have a Women in WordPress podcast and not talk about the reality of being a mother and a person with a career in this field. So I’m glad that we have somebody that has a lot of experience in being a mother and having a very successful career in this field.

Miriam S.: 35:06 I would like to add that I think that WordPress is specifically good for mothers or parents. Because that’s what enabled me to work from home, having the flexibility that I wanted and needed while also doing something else that I needed and wanted was learning, being creative, meeting people like my clients, building out my network. WordPress is the tool that enabled me to do that even though I was limited as a mother. I think that’s amazing that we have that.

Amy M.: 35:41 I would agree. I think my path was similar in that I started my business when my kids were small because it gave me something to do to contribute to my family. But something that was mine. It wasn’t, you know, me wiping butts all day and you know, but it gave me the opportunity to grow as my children grew and still be active in their lives. But now that they’re teenagers, I also have a very fulfilling career and it’s not just me sitting at home waiting until they get home off the bus.

Miriam S.: 36:09 Exactly. Exactly. And I think that’s an important message to give to younger women who think that it’s all or nothing. Like they should give up their career to take care of the kids, which I totally understand, to be fully dedicated that. But what we don’t realize, I didn’t realize, I only realize now, is that they grow up. I mean, you know that they grew up but you think it’s going to go on forever, that they’re babies and they’re small. And suddenly they’re not like they’re, they’re bigger people and they are independent and they don’t need you to sit around for them, and it’s not good for you to sit around for them. So like you need to keep — I’m not saying one needs to — I’m saying it could be a good idea or maybe people should consider that if you keep building yourself up in some way, even if it’s slowly instead of taking 10 steps forward, you’re taking three steps forward, that’s still something that you’ll have when your kids inevitably grow up. That’s just what happens.

Tracy A.: 36:59 And one of the things that, I mean, I can’t speak as a mother, but as a daughter, like one of the things that affected me the most was seeing my parents doing the things that they love. Like that made them happy, it showed me that I can do that. So that’s an invaluable lesson to pass on to kids.

Miriam S.: 37:20 Totally. I think you’re totally right. Like right now with my own kids, it’s kind of two sided. On the one hand, they admire what I do. On the other hand, I was less available than some of their friends’ mothers. So, I think that as they get older they start to appreciate that. And It is an example for them to not just be about their kids. I think it’s really important for the kids also to not just be like, I am all about you. That is not a good message to give. I’m a human being. I’m also an individual. I also have needs and interests. And I love you and I want to do what I can for you, but I’m also a person. Anyways, there’s like all sorts of things about parenting and different approaches and it’s all good and whatever works for anyone, you know? Fantastic.

Amy M.: 38:12 I can talk about this all day.

Angela B.: 38:15 When your kids come to you when they’re in high school and they need help with their Javascript and HTML and CSS, they know where to go.

Tracy A.: 38:21 There you go.

Miriam S.: 38:23 Totally. My kids, I ended up being more like the IT person for them, but they love it. They’re like, my friend’s mom doesn’t know how to do that on the computer, or on their phones.

Amy M.: 38:35 And I’m like, the official teacher needs a website. They all come to me now. So it’s, but it’s fun to be able to be a part of their world in that way as well. You know, the cool mom that knows how to do websites versus the cool mom that bakes cookies.

Angela B.: 38:49 We’ll have to do a survey amongst all of our guests to find out who’s built their school’s websites.

Amy M.: 38:56 Not the school but individual teachers. But anyway, Miriam, I want to thank you so much for being here today. It’s been super interesting and tell everybody where we can find you online.

Miriam S.: 39:08 Well, okay, so I’m on Facebook. I am Miram Schwab. I’m am Twitter as Miriam Schwab and Linkedin. There’s our company websites Strattic.com (two Ts in the middle). I’m all over the place. If you search for me, I’m Schwab, you’ll definitely find me.

Angela B.: 39:26 Yeah. And I’m Ask WP Girl most places.

Tracy A.: 39:30 I’m TAPPS everywhere.

Amy M.: 39:31 Yup. Amy Masson everywhere. So thanks for being with us today. And until next time.

Angela B.: 39:37 Bye bye.

Tracy A.: 39:37 Bye.

Amy M.: 39:39 Thank you for listening. Want to be on the show? Sign up on our website, WomenInWP.com. Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter and join our Facebook group. Subscribe. So you never miss an episode. You can find us on Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, and iTunes.

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