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March 4th 2022
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Community Interview – Bluehost

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Join Devin as he shares how Bluehost giving back to the community.

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Devin Sears – Community Interview – Bluehost

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Cathy Tibbles: Okay. We have another Michelle [00:03:00] coming in to interview Devin. Take it away michelle.

Michelle Frechette: Thanks. Good to see you. Thanks for thinking both were emceeing and Hey, there he is. You tell him that he was in hair and makeup still, but there he is. Okay. I’m going back to here. Thanks.

Devin Sears: It was great. Sadly, this is all they’re able to do.

Michelle Frechette: I was going to say, I just had to sit in the backseat of my car. I don’t know.

Devin Sears: I know. There

Michelle Frechette: you go. Right, for sure. Well, thanks for joining me. Um, we, first of all, I was so super excited to be able to Bluehost as one of our sponsors. But that meant that you and I didn’t have enough time to actually prerecord our interview. So we get to do it live, which is actually, you know, kind of fun too. So yeah.

Devin Sears: I’m doing good. I’m doing good. Uh, I’m based out of Austin. Uh, I, I can never remember the UTC. Uh, I think you and I [00:04:00] share, uh, Uh, difficulty with time zones sometimes, but challenged. Yeah, it’s it. Uh, the sun just went down, but it was 75 today. So it was a great day. And, uh, I’m excited to be here happy to be able to participate and to see a lot of my friends across, across the globe, even if it is virtual.

Michelle Frechette: Exactly it is nice. And one of the nice things about, um, what we can do with WordFest, because we have the great sponsors, like Bluehost is have those great community tents where you can go in and like there’s rooms already. There are people kind of sitting, waiting, and lots of opportunities to talk to each other in between sessions during the community time.

Michelle Frechette: Um, and learn more, not only about each other, but of course our wonderful sponsors too. So tell me a little bit about. Was it, why did Bluehost want to go ahead and sponsor? Not just WordFest, but Big Orange Heart for this year. Tell me a little bit about your, um, your desires to help out in the community.

Devin Sears: Yeah. [00:05:00] Um, I think that Bluehost has always had a desire to really engage with the community and participate within the community. And I think when, when we saw a Big Orange Heart, putting us together and we also participated last year, we knew that we wanted to. To, um, maintain our sponsorship and maintain that relationship.

Devin Sears: I think that the community is great. Uh, I’m a big fan. I’ve been a part of the community for a while. Now, a few years, we don’t need to go into how many, but it’s, uh, I’ve, I’ve developed lifelong friendships outside of even my role at Bluehost. And so I think that that’s just one small thing that contributes to how important it is to.

Devin Sears: Find ways for us to interact with each other, to learn from each other, to help each other grow either professionally or even personally. I think, I think both of those things are absolutely key. So I think Bluehost participating is, is one of the ways that we can, [00:06:00] we can help people connect. Uh, I think one of the main Bluehost missions is to help people tell their story online, you know, We try to implement as many tools as possible to help people get their site, their vision, their idea, their e-commerce store, whatever it might be.

Devin Sears: We try to help them get that online. And I feel like that’s a way that people can contribute their voice. And I think specifically now when it’s not quite as easy for us to all socially interact with each other, I think it’s important for us to find moments like this event where we can all come together and all kind of contribute to our voices and raise each other.

Michelle Frechette: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. It’s been, um, to say it’s been a trying couple of years for the WordPress community is an understatement. It’s going to trying a couple of years for all of us, for sure. Um, regardless of what community we’re in. And, but when we’re used to seeing regularly, [00:07:00] um, you know, like at WordCamps and meetups and things like that, it’s, um, it’s definitely been challenging, but what I’ve noticed is companies like Bluehost have taken opportunity.

Michelle Frechette: To turn it around if you will. So I have participated in more than one Bluehost chat, um, but y’all have on Twitter and that’s just brilliant. I love the fact the way that you kind of rally the whole community around a topic, but with, with questions, specific questions that you ask, could you tell us a little bit about, you know, what is the Bluehost chat and why do you not do it and how does it help the community?

Devin Sears: For sure. Um, first of all, I would love to take credit for it, but I cannot, that was, that was our social media manager. So I want to give them credit. Um, and second of all, thank you so much for your participation. I always am thrilled to see it. When, when you participate, I do, uh, sign into the Twitter handle and I try to help reply when I can, um, Twitter is [00:08:00] not my forte, but, uh, I do try to help out where I can, but the, the idea behind the Twitter.

Devin Sears: And the BHC hashtag BH chat is, is the hashtag that we go with. Um, it’s, it’s something that’s short. I feel like it’s, it’s very consumable. You know, it only takes, I don’t know, 25 to 45 minutes, usually on a Thursday afternoon. Um, and I feel like we really wanted to find a way to engage with the community, bring the community together and also have it be educational.

Devin Sears: You know, we didn’t. As fun as it is. And I know we all miss those hallway conversations where we can catch up and hear what Netflix shows were bingeing, or, you know, how, how our pets are doing or something like that. Um, I think it’s also important that we, we maintain the ability to help each other learn and to grow and to progress because everyone in the WordPress community at one point installed their first WordPress site, [00:09:00] you know, and some of us remember.

Devin Sears: Really well, you know, the, the, the different questions that might’ve popped up or the apprehension, you know, and the fear that you had when you were trying to navigate building your first website. And on the flip side of that coin, a lot of us also can remember the joy and the happiness that we felt when we stumbled across the community, or when we were introduced to the community.

Devin Sears: And we found there was this whole army of people that have this wealth of knowledge. That I could really benefit from, and they’re all so friendly and they’re also willing to reach out and to help me. And so we, we wanted to try to find a way that we could share our knowledge with each other. And when I say our, I mean, our as the community, not our, as Bluehost share the community’s knowledge with each other, help people that might be looking for a fun way to interact and.

Devin Sears: My my role. I usually try to be the person that responds with gifts. So if you ever participate and there’s a, a gift, [00:10:00] that’s usually my role. I try to, I try to find fun ways to respond and, and, uh, the, the perfect gift as a response. That’s, that’s my role in all of that, but we’ve enjoyed it.

Michelle Frechette: I am the gif queen when it comes to the BH chat. Like I, don’t not post an answer without, without a gif because there’s so many really good ones, too.

Devin Sears: And, and I’m a visual person as well. So I think that’s one of the reasons why I’m not as good on Twitter. Um, but replying with gifs. And, and I feel like that really brings a visual element in it. I mean, to some degree it tells like a small story.

Devin Sears: Right. And it just, I feel like it really, uh, Really can convey the emotion or the, or the point that you’re trying to make. And it always just makes it seem fun. And it’s always a little bit of a goose chase to try to find one that fits perfectly or is relevant or is currently topical or trending or something like that. So there’s a fine line. You got to find that fine [00:11:00] line.

Michelle Frechette: There are some on there that are like a little questionable, but I think if you can make somebody smile. In 280 characters or less plus a gif. I mean, that’s pretty awesome, right. Especially if you’re dropping some knowledge that helps people, um, move forward with their businesses and with their websites for sure. And that’s one of the things I love about the BH chats is it, isn’t just like, this is how you build a website. These are what plugins are. It’s not like that, like the basic building blocks of making a website. It’s the basic building blocks of being successful with the website that you build, which I think is.

Devin Sears: Yeah. And we really try to crowdsource our knowledge, which I think kind of comes down to the heart of the WordPress community. In some degree, you know, it it’s crowdsourcing our knowledge and it’s, it’s sharing it and receiving it. And. All at once. You know, so I think, uh, I like to think that that Bluehost has a few subject matter experts within its ranks, [00:12:00] but I also definitely recognize that there is a wide plethora of people out there within the WordPress community that truly are the subject matter experts. And so I think it reminds me a little bit of those, like, uh, Forbes, like we asked 50, uh, business millionaires or whatever, you know, how, how they became entrepreneurs or to tell their story. And so I, I like to think of it kind of like that, where it’s like, okay, well we want to turn this over to the community and like, tell your story. Like we help. We want to help amplify your story as well as educating people that are following.

Michelle Frechette: And it’s great because you do reach out to certain people. I don’t know how many, um, and ask them to participate in advance so that you kind of get that pump primed. But so many other people join into the conversation too. So it isn’t just like, uh, these people on stage and everybody has to watch. It’s like, oh wow, this is a really great conversation. And everybody can be included and everybody can put their 2 cents in and everybody can learn from one another. So, yeah, it’s brilliant. You guys do a really great job with that.[00:13:00]

Michelle Frechette: Absolutely. So what, what makes working at Bluehost, um, a special place and how do you, you know, as I’ve observed about community and things like that, what do you do for your own employees? As far as mental wellbeing?

Devin Sears: Two-part question. Um, let me go through the first one first. Um, what makes working at Bluehost special? I’ll answer for myself personally. Um, I’m honestly going to say the opportunity to participate and engage with the WordPress community. Um, if I’m completely honest, when I first stepped into this role, I did not know the friends I would make along the way. I don’t think any. I could imagine that I didn’t know the different places it would take me. I just kind of knew that I needed to get some swag together and maybe a banner. And I was going to go stand somewhere in Miami by a table and try to make some friends or, you know, try to see if people were interested in talking about Bluehost and little. Did I know that [00:14:00] that stepping into that door, you know, I have friends all across the country that you’re just, just from travel, some WordCamp US from WordCamp Europe, all across the globe that, you know, I’ll pick up the phone and I’ll call someone and say, Hey, I just, I haven’t talked with you in a while. I miss you. And it’s it’s for me, it’s, it’s been the friendship along the way, which I know is, is kind of cliche, but it, but it really is one of the main things that I’ve loved about working at Bluehost’s.

Devin Sears: Not only the friends I’ve made within the community, but the friends that I’ve made among my coworkers and my peers as well. The second part of the question is what does Bluehost do about remote working and mental health? Was that was that

Michelle Frechette: Yeah, talk about mental wellbeing with your employees? Um,

Devin Sears: I think there’s a, there’s a big push for people to take care of themselves, uh, and their mental health. Um, I know, kind of culturally, we, we try to [00:15:00] have a little bit of water cooler chitchat, somewhere along the meeting. I know that with zoom meetings and with online virtual meetings, it’s really, really easy for people to come into the meeting, talk about the business and then hang up when you’re done, you know, there’s you, you lose that.

Devin Sears: Hey, as we’re walking back to our desks, like tell me about your weekend. Like we can. Take a step away from the business side of things, just as we’re walking back to our desk or let’s, you know, go out and grab a bite of lunch together or something like that. You really don’t have those opportunities that you, that you had, uh, when you worked in an office space.

Devin Sears: And I think that Bluehost is, has been great at promoting and finding those opportunities. Say okay. You know, like before we get started, how’s everyone doing? You know, I haven’t seen you in a while. How’s how’s your kid, or, you know, like, I know you have this house project you’re working on, what’s going on with that, you know, and, and, and really making an effort to strengthen those relationships beyond just the, Hey, your, [00:16:00] the email channel manager.

Devin Sears: I need you to email, you know, I need you to, to manage this channel. Like it’s, I think viewing people as people, instead of. Tools in a, in a tool chest is something that they’ve done a really good job at doing on top of that. They also try to schedule, uh, events on a regular basis and sadly, I’m not able to attend all of them, but I attend as many as I can.

Devin Sears: Most recently we had a marketing Valentines Olympics, so it was a combination in February of a Valentine’s and the Olympics. Um, we set aside, I think it was an hour and a half or so, and everyone from marketing jumped on the same call and, and they, they had breakout rooms and everything. So you could get to know some people that maybe you didn’t know before they had awards, they had games.

Devin Sears: Um, so it was, it was a lot of fun. It really was. Uh, and in addition, uh, they also have employee resource groups or affinity groups, so they have, um, [00:17:00] Uh, I say they, we, I guess, uh, I say they, because I don’t personally contribute to that. So I don’t, I don’t want to take credit for someone else’s, uh, hard work, but Bluehost provides its employees with, uh, an affinity group.

Devin Sears: Um, one that comes to mind is the thrive affinity group. And they host regular breathing exercises and meditations where anyone can join and participate. And, uh, they have a focus on the, the mental health and mental wellbeing. Any employee that feels like they need a little bit of a boost or a pick me up or just want to be involved with that group.

Michelle Frechette: Wow. That’s great. Well, I can’t talk about Bluehost without also bringing up two very specific things. So I have two more questions. One, how many games of Mario cart have you played over the years since you’ve been part of the post and two, how many big screen TVs have you not given away in the last three years?

Devin Sears: [00:18:00] Oh man, that’s a great question. Games of Mario kart. I don’t, we’ve played so many games of Mario kart, uh, for, to clue in the audience that might not be aware, uh, Bluehost. Traditionally, when we have an in-person event, we will buy a. Large TV locally. And we bring with us and Nintendo 64 and Mario kart 64.

Devin Sears: And so usually on the first day of the event, we’ll demonstrate a Bluehost product or the newest features that we’re working on. But then day two, we’ll, we’ll break out the Nintendo 64 and, and attendees that are looking for a quick five minute break and stop by and race and things like that. And just over the years, after going to as many events as I have.

Devin Sears: I have played a lot of Mario kart, um, to the point where we have discovered if everyone ties. So if you do like a four race circuit and everyone ties, [00:19:00] we had discovered that the game prioritizes who wins by the, the controller position, like where you’ve plugged in your controller, if you plugged in his player, That’s prioritized so that you win.

Devin Sears: So I’ve paid enough to do all of these very weird tests unintentionally just over the years. But, uh, I would also like to take this opportunity to plug, uh, the Bluehost’s booth here during WordFest. Obviously we don’t have an intendant 64. We’re not able to give away a TV, sadly. Um, but tomorrow, depending on when you’re tuning in.

Devin Sears: Tomorrow, we are going to have an hour in our booth that we’re calling, switch it up. And anyone that has an Nintendo switch, if you like, you can stop by, uh, share your game code, make a new friend within the community, and we’ll be doing some Mario kart. If [00:20:00] people want to, you know, we’re, we’re there to play whatever game that that you want to do. So, uh, there’s still some more Meyer card to be played for.

Michelle Frechette: Um, I played Mario kart twice in my life. My daughter, she was in her late teens and early twenties at the time she brought it over just to see how I would do. I am terrible at it. And she laughs because I always like move my whole body what I’m trying to.

Michelle Frechette: Yeah. So. I do that when I watched the luge, um, like, and skiers in the Olympics too. So I just, I think, I guess maybe if I leave, I’m going to help them a little bit. I don’t know.

Devin Sears: I’m going to tell you something. I think you’re actually ahead of the curve because with the emergence of virtual reality, I feel like that’s how a lot of the games are played.

Devin Sears: I feel like it’s with the leaning and the head tilting and all of that. So I think you are just a savant. I think you were ahead of your time. You were just ready for the virtual reality.

Michelle Frechette: Can you text that to my daughter? Let her know that I am. I am a head of the head of the [00:21:00] well Devin. I’m going to go ahead and wrap it up so you can say hi to people. Uh, I don’t know what your whole plans are. I hope that you’re going over to your booth for a few minutes. After this case, everybody wants to say. And I know that you’re probably going to take some time to sleep tonight before you show up before you come back to the, with tomorrow.

Michelle Frechette: But, um, AF after we sign off here, go over to the community tent, see the Bluehost table, say hello to Devin, Devin. Thank you so much for taking the time to get to know you and Bluehost, uh, during this little interview, but also. For the sponsorship that blue house has provided, so that Big Orange Heart can do the work that we do in the community, which is reducing those feelings of isolation for people in the remote work community. So thank you so much for being here.

Devin Sears: Thank you for having us. We’re excited to be here and looking forward to chatting with some people.

Michelle Frechette: Sounds good. All right. Well, we will see you all later at, uh, let me actually, I want to read our thinking is real quick. I said I would do that. So I do want to thank our sponsors Bluehost, Cloudways, GoDaddy Pro, Nexcess, Yoast, and Weglot be sure to visit [00:22:00] their tents, to chat with them. You might even surprise us. Don’t forget to go to our photo booth and get your photo snap sponsored by a Multicollab and DreamHost tweeted out with the hashtag WordFest Live, and also thank you to our media partners and our micro sponsors in the community tent.

Michelle Frechette: In the next hour Cloudway, we’ll have their hourly giveaway. We do have about a 15 minute break now schedule. So go over to that community tech, we will be back on the. And also we would love your support. So please consider a donation via the button on our screen, or go to https://big.ht/march4th, you all make a difference for our Big Orange Hearts. Thank you so much.[00:23:00]

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