Writing What You Know with Winstina Hughes

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Winstina Hughes is an Assistant Regional Planner for the Maryland Department of Transportation but she’s coming to us today as a member of the wordpress community! Throughout the interview we talk about all sorts of things – life, WordPress, the New Jersey Transit…and it call comes back to the main takeaway for this episode: writing what you know and creating opportunities to share your insight. This was such a fun conversation where we covered a lot of ground. I enjoyed it, and I know you will too. 


Joe: Real quick before we get started, I want to tell you about the Build Something Weekly newsletter. It is weekly, it is free, and you will get tips, tricks, and tools delivered directly to your mailbox. I will recap the current week’s episode and all of the takeaways, I’ll give you a top story content I wrote, and then some recommendations that I’ve been using that I think you should check out. So it is free. It is weekly. It’s over at howibuilt.it/subscribe. Go ahead and sign up over at howIbuilt.it/subscribe


Intro: Welcome to Episode 196 of How I Built It. This episode is brought to you by Yes Plz Coffee, iThemes, and Hostinger. Today I’m talking to Winstina Hughes. Winstina Hughes is an assistant regional planner for the Maryland Department of Transportation. But she’s not coming to us in that capacity. She’s not representing the Maryland DOT today. She’s coming to us as a member of the WordPress community. I am so excited to share her story with you.


Throughout this interview, we talked about all sorts of things: life, WordPress, the New Jersey Transit we were able to bond over Secaucus junction, which is not something I ever thought I would say. But it all comes back to the main takeaway for this episode. I just made myself laugh. Sorry about that. It all comes back to the main takeaway for this episode, writing about what you know, and creating opportunities to share your insight. That’s exactly Winstina did here. This was such a fun conversation. We covered a lot of ground. I enjoyed it. And I know you will too. So let’s not delay any further. Let’s get into the episode.


But first, let’s hear from our first sponsor.


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And now back to the Show.


Joe: Hey everybody and welcome to another episode of How I Built It, the podcast that asks, how did you build that? Today my guest is Winston Hughes. She is an assistant regional planner at the Maryland Depart of Transportation. But today she is coming to us as a member of the WordPress community. Now, throughout this season, we have been talking all about creating content. But I get a lot of questions on, how do I stay consistent? How do I know what to write about? Well, Winstina is going to tell us all about that today. We’re going to be talking about writing what you know and ways to create opportunities to share your insight. Winstina, how are you today?


Winstina: I’m doing well, Joe. Thanks for having me. Thanks for coming on the show. I’m so excited that we got to do this. I think we started speaking in something like July and then my son was born, and we had different conflicts of schedule. So I’m glad that we’re getting together, finally.


Winstina: Yeah, my mom was visiting the second time we scheduled to talk. It’s always great when mom’s here.


Joe: Yeah, absolutely. My parents came up to visit a few times. My son was born in July, so it’s always nice to see them. You know, they get quality time with the grandkids too.


Winstina: That’s awesome.


Joe: Thank you for joining me today. So we are going to be talking about writing about what you know, and opportunities and things like that. But first, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.


Winstina: So my name is Winstina as you said. My family immigrated from Sierra Leone, West Africa, and I grew up in Maplewood, New Jersey. The writing that we’re touching on definitely is something that I learned when I was a student at Rutgers. When I graduated and I returned home, I started writing about what I’ve studied in college and applied it really to the town that I grew up in, which is Maplewood.


Just a little bit more about me, I created my first WordPress blog for a Geographic Information Systems assignment, which is GIS for short. For that assignment, I mapped public health data that my professor wanted us to do analysis on. Our final project was to add our maps to a blog and add some content to it and provide it to him so that he could see how we map the data, what we understood about the analysis, and also the ideas that we communicated. So that was the first time that I used a WordPress blog. It was actually a wordpress.com blog. That’s how it started. So I went from that GIS assignment to creating a blog on community development and suburban planning in Maplewood.


Joe: Wow, that’s fantastic. And since then you’ve participated in multiple WordCamps. Right? I came across you because you spoke at WordCamp us several times.


Winstina: Yeah, I have spoken at several WordCamps. I started off speaking at WordCamp New York City. And I was encouraged to speak by Kevin Christiano. He’s awesome. Kevin was very encouraging. And

Steve Bruner who leads WordCamp…Well, he’s led WordCamp before but he also leads WordPress New York City meetup. Him, Kevin, Rendy, Dana, at the time that I applied to speak at New York City, they were all co-organizers for WordPress New York City Meetup.


So I told my story of how my blog started and just the experiences that came from it. It just so happened that WordCamp US was coming up next and I had an opportunity to share my experience writing. I spoke about first WordCamp in WordCamp US. That was the inaugural one. It was amazing to just to be a part of that. It was just unexpected. That was amazing. Then, subsequently, I’ve spoken to other WordCamps.


Joe: That’s fantastic. I remember that inaugural WordCamp US it was great. I was living in Scranton, Pennsylvania at the time. So it was a pretty easy two-hour drive for me to get to Philadelphia.


Winstina: It was awesome. All I had to do is jump on New Jersey Transit and take SEPTA and then into Philadelphia, Penn Station and then just make my way to where it was at. So just the proximity to where I lived made it possible because, of course, I had a student travel budget, which is like tapped with New Jersey Transit and SEPTA. So yeah.


Joe: Awesome. I’m glad that worked out. That’s great. I will be sure to link in the show notes to a few of your WordCamp talks. The show notes will be over at howibuilt.it. And that’s just one of the many ways that you’ve been able to share your experience. But when I first reached out, one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you was because you have been published in newspapers like the New York Times. If you’re willing, can you share a little bit of that experience and how you were able to get published in the New York Times and things like that?


Winstina: Yes. I know that oftentimes people who are published online, at least I’ve read that people who are published online often go through the process of submitting their work to a media company or reaching out to a website and offering to create content for them. My opportunity to write for the New York Times just evolved from the blog that I’d started on suburban planning and community development in Maplewood. It’s a really large title. I always say this super condensed version of what the blog is. Essentially it was a website where I wrote about real estate development, new developments that were happening in town. I wrote about local sports. Ultimate Frisbee started in Maplewood, New Jersey.


Joe: Nice.


Winstina: I mean, it’s pretty cool. It started on Columbia High School land somewhere in the front or in the back of our school. And we have like this kind of sort of secret, but not really secret Ultimate Frisbee game that happens around the holiday season. So I wrote about that. I went and I took pictures. It was just an opportunity for me to just really talk about all the different things that were happening in town and how it really ties together within the context of planning.


Planning is something that happens, and it’s not until something doesn’t work that it’s kind of like, “Well, who’s responsible for that?” And then it’s like, “Oh, okay, someone must be working. Why are there potholes? Who’s going to fix those potholes?” Or “What do you mean a Starbucks is coming into my community? I don’t want Starbucks here.” Pothole is something that a local transportation department or your public works actually…that’s what public works in a town or city is responsible for—fixing the roads.


And Starbucks coming to your town, that’s actually an economic development initiative that your mayor and city council or local council is responsible for. Because they’re seeking ways of increasing your tax base so that you’re paying less than property taxes, or you’re paying less money towards different types of amenities or services that are being offered within your locality. So it’s not until these major noticeable things happen that the work that I do becomes…I don’t want to say evident, and I don’t want to say visible. But people become aware of it. I think that’s what I’m saying. Awareness. There’s an awareness to the fact that planners exist.


Those are all the things that I talked about on this website, on this wordpress.com site. I happen to have been writing at a very, very interesting time. It was a time where we were in the 2008 economic downturn and the New York Times was looking at creating hyperlocal news. The town that I live in Maplewood, South Orange happened to be one of the locations of the New York Times was interested in doing local news in. So it’s like my site started before the New York Times started. I guess they were creating their site and then they saw someone writing. Actually, the same time that the New York Times local started, a little bit before then, Patch started. Are you familiar with patch.com?


Joe: Yeah. Yeah. I was going to ask about that actually.


Winstina: So Patch launched in my community I don’t know if it was weeks before or a couple of weeks before. But I know I was writing and Patch reached out to me. And that threw me for a loop. Because I was like, “Who’s Patch?” Or “What’s Patch?” And then some time went by, and the New York Times reached out to me. And I was also thrown for a loop. So I had to kind of step back and ask a mentor, just to share what was happening and to ask for her advice. She’s super supportive and she just kind of guided me in the choices that I made.


Just from talking to her, I made the decision about who I was going to write for, and then I also had a chance to speak with them to ensure that my writing was focused on what it was before, like intentionally writing about planning issues locally. That’s how I started working for the Times on the local.


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And let’s get back to it.


Joe: I remember seeing a lot of hyperlocal things. I remember seeing Patch. So it’s really cool that you got in on this New York Times initiative. I think that’s fantastic. And your blog, I mean, that sounds like it was really interesting kind of talking about things that affect people on a bigger scale. But like you said, we don’t really understand how it all works. You know, like how the sausage is made, I guess.


Winstina: Yeah, that’s an excellent way of putting it. It’s true. And it’s not until you’re sitting in class and you’re taking real estate development or affordable housing or…we literally have classes or the titles of these different areas, or you’re taking a class in historic preservation, which is a huge thing in New Jersey, where I grew up in and where I went to school. It’s like all these different topics. It’s like it starts happening on a larger scale and you start to see the impacts or you start to observe changes. And I just decided to write about it. Like I would go for walks, and I would see homes that were going up on foreclosure. Because 2008 was a rough time.


Joe: Yeah, absolutely.


Winstina: It was rough. It was really sad. As someone who was interested in housing and real estate development, just walking around and seeing foreclosure signs really hit me just like in an emotional way. Because housing issues were my first love in a sense. I don’t know how to really describe it. Because you need a place to shelter. Shelter is fundamentally the first really…I want to say, between eating, finding food, having housing, and having transportation, those three things are the core of our existence. We need those three things. We need food, shelter, and we need transport. Like either walking or biking or taking a train or car.


Living in it in a town like Maple in South Orange, I was really interested in housing because the town has such a wide economic…it’s broad. You have middle class, you have upper-middle class, and then you just have really wealthy homes and really wealthy residents. I’m from a working class background, and the part of town that I’m from is like a working class, and we have really small houses. So I would walk from home to the bus stop, or walk from home to Middle School. And in the process of walking from my house to the Middle School, which is kind of like in downtown Maplewood, I would see such a range of houses.


So initially, that’s where my interest as a planner started. And it was really, really hard to walk through my town in 2008 and see foreclosure signs. Not just in the neighborhoods, you know, the working class part of South Orange Maplewood that I am from on the other side of Springfield Avenue. But I was also seeing much larger homes. We’re talking about upwards of I want to say like 500,000, 600,000, 700,000 to million-dollar homes. Like just seeing how the economic downturn was hurting everybody. It was hard walking around town and seeing that because that means people’s lives are affected. These are human beings. These homes and shelters represent something. They represent people.


I just decided to start writing about what I was seeing. I realized as I was writing about housing that I had to write about everything else because it ties together. That’s what I was working with and that’s the space I was in, and that’s the evolution of my blog. It started with something so close to my heart and then kind of evolved into more of that. I know I might be rambling, but I will say that I’m in the process of writing about real estate locally and housing, and foreclosures, I was also paying attention because I was walking to transportation locally.


What’s so awesome about North Jersey where I grew up is Springfield Avenue is really close to the part of town that I live in and we have bus stops all along Springfield Avenue, which is like an arterial road. That’s how I got to school actually. Towards the end of college sometimes just to go to classes sometimes and then definitely for graduate school, I would catch the bus into Penn Station, which is like a 45-minute ride. And then from Penn Station, I’d catch the train to New Brunswick which sometimes is like an hour and 20 or something. So I would do that going and do that coming.


Then I started to really experience transportation from the walking to the bikes and trains and stuff. And then I started really appreciating the transportation system that we had in New Jersey Transit. And I started kind of evolving just from that interest in housing and shelter into that next basic component like that we need, which is the ability to get around.


Joe: I will say as somebody who grew up an hour and a half north of New York City on Orange County, New York, the New Jersey Transit…because I would either take the New Jersey Transit rail to Secaucus and then transfer or I would just drive to Secaucus so I wouldn’t have to deal with driving in the city. And I would take the seven-minute train to Penn Station


Winstina: Yeah, you know about that life. I know about that life. It’s so funny you say that because I would leave classes…Our classes ended around 9 p.m. and I would leave class, get on New Jersey Transit. And sometimes, in order for me to switch over to the Maplewood line, I would have to go to Secaucus. I would go from [inaudible 00:26:08] to Secaucus and then switch over sometimes. So yeah, I’ve been in that Secaucus thing.


Joe: Yeah, just hanging out there. That’s my wife and I. When we were dating, we went to see Wicked on Broadway and we decided to get a hotel for the night because I was like, “It’s either we get a hotel or we book it from like 42nd to Penn Station so that we can get the midnight train home. Because that was the last train in Secaucus going to…


[crosstalk 00:26:40]


Winstina: You’re chilling for good five hours or something. I know about that.


Joe: That’s incredibly interesting. I love that story because I think a lot of people have trouble figuring out what to write about at all. It sounds like you’ve decided to take what really interested you and then expand on it. If we were to kind of generalize what you did, how would you recommend that to listeners?


Winstina: How would I recommend it? There are two parts of it actually. I would say, find something that interests you, like a topic that you’re really passionate about, and write about it. The flip side also could be, though, write about what you’re studying. What’s a better time to understand what you dedicated a minimum of four years of your life to. I mean, if you go for an associate’s degree, it’s like two years. If you go for a bachelor’s, it’s four. Five now because that’s more realistic. Then if you go for a Master’s, then minimum two.


You’re spending all that time in school. It’s like, why not write about it? That is where I would start off. If you’re in school right now, write about what you’re learning about. You have to write papers anyway at some point. You’re going to come up with a research document or a term paper or something. Like some professors are going to be like, “I need like, 10 to 12 pages off of you a week.” So why not take some time and develop that and make it palatable. Not just in the academic writing that professor is asking you for, but make it palatable, where someone can read it and understand it. Use that as content for a blog.


There’s really no telling what could come from that because so many of the sites that…the New York Times, for example, look at the different subjects that are covered there. There are transportation sections, there’s real estate sections, there’s the economy, broadly speaking, the national economy, even internationally, politics. All those topics are covered by, like, all these major newspapers. So if you’re in school and you’re studying economics, why not spend some time creating something that’s relevant on par with what a news outlet has a section dedicated to? If you really want to be smart about it, pay attention to the news cycle.


Joe: I absolutely love that advice. I freelanced all through College and I would have to do class projects. I would often try to pick a client project for the class project. Like I was getting paid to do school.


Winstina: Smart. Smart.


Joe: Yes. Write about what you’re studying. I think we can even expand that out, right? Especially my audiences, small business owners, people in the WordPress space, in web development, they’re probably learning new skills all the time. I think that there is, like you said, no better time to write about what you’re learning about than as you’re learning it. Because then you’ll remember what it was like. Or you’ll remember how you came to that conclusion.


Winstina: Yeah, absolutely. There’s so many sites that you can go on right now to learn how to code. I want to learn how to code. It’s something that’s been on my list for the longest time. I remember when Matt said, “Learn JavaScript deeply,” I was there. I saw him on stage and I heard what he said, and I was like, “This is on my list. When I graduate, JavaScript is like up there.” Kind of like number one and number two. Well, finding a job is number one. That was important. That’s the reality, right? But JavaScript was right underneath that reality.


If you’re learning to code right now or you’re learning a skill right now, it’s a great time to start a blog and to write about what you’re learning, what you don’t understand. There’s really no telling how much more you’ll develop in that skill. There’s probably someone who’s going through that challenge too at that time. If you share a link on social media, if you tweet it or on Facebook, or you send it to family and friends, you could get the feedback that could help you further expand it or kind of clean up your writing so that it’s palatable for someone who just comes across to read it. I mean, that’s a great way to come up with content. And there’s no telling like what that could lead to as well. I should take my own advice and write about JavaScript. I have a blog on my site so I should do that.


Joe: No, that’s actually great. Because as an educator myself, it’s sometimes hard for me to put myself back in the learner’s shoes. It’s something that teachers should struggle with. I just wrote a book called “HTML and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide.”


Winstina: Nice.


Joe: It’s out now. I’ll link that in the show notes.


Winstina: That’s great.


Joe: Thank you. I’ve been writing HTML for 20 years. So I would write things and then my editor would be like, “What does this mean to the beginner?” And I’m like, “Right, I need to remember that they might not know like ‘clear your cache’ means or whatever.”


Winstina: This even falls in planning. These industry terms that you know and someone that’s within the field knows, but someone who’s new to the topic has no clue what that term means. And that is where it becomes palatable. That plain language explaining what caching is. And that’s where I believe you’ll draw more people. It’s great that he was like, “What does this mean to the beginner?” Because it’s true.


Joe: Yeah. Yeah.


Winstina: That’s awesome that you’re…I want to write a book too, Joe. We should talk.


Joe: Yeah, absolutely. Wow, we’re already coming up on time. But I’ll tell you that if I get the itch every few years. I’m happy to have a connection to a publisher now. But this one at least was a lot of work because we started it a few months before the pandemic, and then the pandemic hit, and then things got delayed and there was like a video course too. So there was a lot. I was happy to…


Winstina: You’re committed to it.


Joe: I mean, I love it. While I was doing it, I’ll say my wife could probably tell you I said like, “Never let me write another book again.” But now that it’s out and I was holding it in my hands, I’m like, “This is amazing.”


Winstina: That’s the thing about writing. Just like you were like, “I never want to write a book again,” when I write too, it’s so hard. And that’s something I wanted to touch on too, because you asked me about it. Writing doesn’t come easily to me. Because it’s a question of identifying the topic and then physically committing, like sitting down to write it. So that’s time commitment. And it’s so hard for me to do it.


So when I do, I’m really happy that I’ve kind of forced myself to settle down and work on it. So it sounds like that point of creating for you is intense. But it’s rewarding. That’s what I feel like when I publish a post. It’s like, “Man, that took a lot.” But if I’m happy with it, then I’m like, “I’m glad that I took the time to do that.” So I want to hear more about books. Man, tell me. I want to hear about this.


Joe: This is great. This is actually a teaser for a future episode that I’ll be doing by myself about the book writing process. We’re talking about writing here. For blog posts, I don’t know if you outline your blog posts. For my blog, I just kind of write quickly whatever comes to my mind. But for my book, of course, I outlined the whole book and then each chapter.


Winstina: Okay. For blog posts, I start off with a topic. Actually, my blog itself is the topic. And then the post is like a subtopic. That’s how I see it. When I first started blogging, I just was writing. Then at some point, I was like, “Hold up, man. Stay focused. You could write about everything that’s happening in the world right now. But that is not the purpose of your blog. That’s not the purpose of this blog.” So I kept reminding myself this is a topic of suburban planning and community development in Maplewood.


So if a news topic came up, as wonderful as it was, it didn’t fall under it. So that helps me with the content that I create is reminding myself what the topic is, choosing a subtopic that is just simply appropriate. That’s how I look at it. And then I start writing. And then I’ll look at it and if it makes sense, then it’s something that I can work with, I can clean it up and publish it. If it doesn’t make sense, then, why publish it? So that’s the flow of what it’s like when I write blogs and stuff.


It’s interesting because I haven’t blogged for the longest time. I was having this itch to do that. Finally, I was like, “Come on.” I actually added the blog to my personal website. I kind of saw this just an extension of storytelling—telling my story. And that helps. It helps to have an idea of where I’m going. That’s what brought me to the point of, “Okay, let me create a blog now,” because I knew where I wanted to go with it. And then I started writing. And it was hard. I’m not going to play with you. The first two posts were really hard. But I got them out.


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And now back to the show.


Joe:  We’re coming up on time here. I think we covered pretty much all the questions that I sent, even if I didn’t explicitly ask them. But I do have one question that I ask everybody. And that’s do you have any trade secrets for us? And I don’t mean like the codes. I mean, what is something that you learned in your journey that you think is important for other people to know?


Winstina: My textbooks are great sources of information. I can confirm definitions and stuff from my textbooks.  I will give you an example. I was writing this piece on walkability. I was like, “Dude, we’ve talked about walkability before, and my post had walkability in it,” but I was like, “Hold up, is this even legitly a word?” And I was torn. I was like, “Hold up! I know, this is a word.” I know walkability is like a thing. Like the ability to literally walk through your community and the streets and the sidewalks and stuff. So I just stopped and I went and picked up a textbook, and I was like, “Is this legitimately something? Is it a word? And it was. So that helped me because it was one of my earlier posts.


So a trade secret is, reach to the source, or reach to a source that you know is correct or factual when you’re writing something. We spend a lot of time searching online. And I do that a lot too. But because I centered it on what I studied in school, I have books that are right here. I can pull one of my redevelopment books or commune development books or community organizing books and just look for definitions. That’s really helpful.


Because if you’re writing for like a news outlet, you want to make sure that the language that you’re using not only is it understandable, like you were deciding too, like, can a beginner understand this? You’re also writing for a larger network or a company or something. And what they publish, that says something about them too. So if you’re writing and you’re not using the right language within that field, that’s a reflection. So my trade secret is, find some piece of research document or book and use it.


Joe: I absolutely love that. And as you were talking, it made me think about, again, when I was writing my book. I have a bookshelf of web development books that have helped me and a bunch of them were just open on my desk all at the same time. And I’m like, “Am I using the right term here? What is like…?” Because professionals have their colloquial terms that they use. But if you’re publishing the written word for another source, colloquial definitions or insider definitions are not always going to work. You want to teach people the correct terms.


A good example of this. If this is a fun fact for you, this is a fun fact for me is the idea of SSL certificates. Are you familiar with…?


Winstina: I am, yeah.


Joe: I learned through this process from my tech editor that technically SSL is the old terminology and we’re on something called TLS right now, which is like a better form of encryption. But nobody ever says get your TLS certificate. They just say, “Get your SSL” because that’s what we’ve used.


Winstina: And it’s interesting. And you said that we’ve always used it, right? Because I look at it, too. I just installed an SSL certificate for one of the blogs I have and I really love now that there are plugins. There are actually some plugins that will just do it for you. There was a point where you were paying web hosts to do it for actual certificate. And then you need a developer to help you with it. Then at some point, we have some WordPress plugins and you just install it and it does it for you. And it’s so true.


It’s almost as if the concept is what they’re communicating now with the word SSL. But as a professional writing about it, you have to know what the latest version is. So what you put in your book can just be like SSL. It has to be what the industry standard is. That’s it. That’s exactly it.


Joe: The thrilling conclusion is that we decided to use SSL throughout the book because that is what everyone uses. But we had a note at the beginning of the section, like, “We’re going to say, ‘and everybody, if you google SSL, this is what everybody says, but it’s technically TLS.'” So that’s something that I learned. Because this was a learning process for me too, I guess. But it was really cool. That’s interesting.


Winstina: Because your readers are going to appreciate the fact that you know where we are with that particular piece of technology. And the fact that you’re mentioning it to them means that you’ve just given them a tip that they can connect to what it is they already know. I think also why that’s also powerful, too is not only are you defining something for them, but you’re telling them about the stage that we’re in. You’re giving them almost like a futuristic understanding of where we are presently. And that’s valuable.


Joe: Awesome. Thank you very much. This has been fun. I feel like I got interviewed a little bit too, which is cool.


Winstina: Don’t say that.


Joe: No, I love it. Because I mean, longtime listeners of the show will know I could just talk forever. Winstina, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. If people want to learn more, where can they find you?


Winstina: You can find me on Winstinahughes.com. Really it’s a site that just shares more about myself and the work that I’ve done. Sometimes it’s short. You know, there are parts of it that are short, and things are just listed out. But that’s just really me. So you can find me on Winstinahughes.com. My Twitter handle is @PlanningWrite. I’m also on LinkedIn, and you can find me at the New York City meetup webinar. Those are really the places that you can find me. If we weren’t in this COVID life right now, this experience, you would find me at a WordCamp, on New York City WordCamp. But you can find me online in those three places.


I want to thank you for reaching out. I appreciate it. This isn’t something common for me. The fact that you took the time and you saw value in something that I’ve done, I really appreciate that. And I hope that I answered well with what you wanted to ask me.


Joe: Absolutely. Thank you so much for saying that. I really appreciate your time. I think that we had a great conversation.


Winstina: Awesome.


Joe: You listed several links that I will be sure to link over in the show notes for this episode over at howibuilt.it/196. I know the episode number already for this recording.


Winstina: That’s awesome.


Joe: Yeah. So howibuilt.it/196.


Winstina: I should also mention that I just did an episode for Hallway Chats as well.


Joe: Oh, awesome.


Winstina: Shout out to Liam and Tara. That’s another place that you can find me on Hallway Chats. But there aren’t too many places.


Joe: Awesome. Friends of the show, Liam and Tara. I will certainly link to your episode of Hallway Chats. I don’t know if I’ve talked too much about their show on this show. But it’s really they want to highlight different voices in the community. And they do, I think, just a fantastic job of that. So I’ll be sure to link that in the show.


Winstina: It was a great experience. It was a pleasure talking to them. It was my first time meeting Tara. I’ve met him before and he’s just a phenomenal person. He’s so warm, and he’s so kind. And it was great contributing to Hallway Chats, and for him to even ask me to do that. He actually asked if I would be interested in podcasting right after I graduated from graduate school. And I was like, “I’m trying to figure out what’s going on in my life right now.” It’s like, “I’m not sure. Is it WordPress? Or is it planning? Is it WordPress and planning?” So I’m very happy that I had a chance to like to contribute, and that he included me in that process.


Joe: That’s awesome. I will share a fun fact about Liam on this show. He actually crashed my wedding because we live in the same area. We both live in Chester County, PA now and this is where my wife’s from. So we got married at his church because my wife’s church was being renovated. So he showed up for the nuptials.


Winstina: Nice.


Joe: It was really nice. He kind of came up and gave me a pat on the back during communion. It was really great of him to show up. I really appreciated that.


Winstina: So you were in his church in his home, so he came in, he like…? That’s cool during communion. That’s nice.


Joe: Absolutely. This is great. This was like a little bonus for the listeners. But Winstina, thank you for joining me today. This was an absolute pleasure.


Winstina: Oh, thanks for having me, Joe. I appreciate that.


Outro: Thanks so much to win Steena for joining us today. Again, I loved this conversation. It was candid and natural. And it was just fantastic. I loved the information that she shared with us, where she talked about the things that she knew. She provided a lot of backstory for what made her passionate. And I think that’s so important. You need to be passionate about what you’re doing. Because if you don’t care, then why should your readers or your listeners care? If I didn’t care about this show, you would know. But at the top of this show, I made myself laugh. Hopefully that showed you—I keep saying the word show a lot—that I still love this. It’s my favorite part of the day when I get to do these podcasts.


I’m saying all of this because Winstina talks about how she picks things to talk about that translate to her passion. And because of that, she was able to do things like write for the New York Times. Her trade secret, which is not directly related, but I love this: “My textbooks are a great source of information.” It shows that she went to school for something that she loves, and she’s continuing to do that in some way, shape, or form. I agree. I have textbooks on my bookshelf that I still reference. So awesome.


If you want to learn more about Winstina or anything that we talked about, you can head over to howibuilt.it/196. And hey, while you’re over there, sign up for the Build Something Weekly newsletter. You would get all of those takeaways in that email, the email that’s going out next week as you listen to this as a matter of fact. That email will reinforce what we just talked about here.


You’ll also be able to find out more about our sponsors Yes Plz Coffee, I’ve definitely had too much of that today because I’m a little bit wound up, iThemes and Hostinger. I definitely thank them. The show would not be able to happen without them or without you, dear listener. Thanks so much for listening. And until next time, get out there and build something.

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