Q&A with Automattic’s Josepha Haden Chomphosy

Q&A with Automattic's Josepha Haden Chomphosy

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A long, long time ago, I attended my first WordCamp. That was in 2017 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. To that point, the only thing I had ever attended was a WordPress Meetup in Fort Worth, TX.

Among the organizers was Josepha Haden Chomphosy. She was one of the people running the show.

I could tell right then she had the knack for leadership. She wasn’t afraid to take the lead, a skill I imagine she got from her mother.

Fast forward almost ten years later and she is one of the top people at Automattic, the company that oversees WordPress.com and all of its products.

Josepha is the Open Source Division Lead, so she is involved day to day with developers and makers.

Today, we visit with Josepha Haden Chomphosy to get her thoughts on leadership, what she does in her spare time, how many WordCamps in which she has taken part, her love of analytics, and how she ended up in the IMBD (International Movie Database).

What do you like doing when you aren’t doing WordPress? I heard you have some musical skills.

I do have some musical skills! Pre-covid, I sang in a choir which was absolutely delightful. Since the pandemic started, though, I have been trying my hand at gardening and bread baking (the classic “stuck at home” activities, it would seem).

I met you at WordCamp Fayetteville. How many WordCamps have you attended or participated in?

Oh…a lot. Attended, I would say probably around 50-60, and I’ve spoken at probably 20-30.

How do you stay grounded? How do you keep work from becoming the definition of self?

I like to think I’m pretty down-to-earth! I never really lost my connection to this idea that I am just paying my success with WordPress forward, which keeps me pretty aware of my privilege—not a lot of people get to have the freedom to give back to open source or community programs that helped them.

I do struggle with just “becoming” the job sometimes. WordPress has been so key in my life that it’s really easy to see the impact it can have on anyone, so I have a strong dedication to how to make that impact available to everyone.

When did you realize that studying analytics was something you loved?

The moment I realized that analytics was worth digging more into was when I started to notice patterns in the numbers and could tell what they implied. There was something really empowering about being able to look at a cloud of information and being able to tie it all together.


You take leadership very seriously, and you even recommend books for leaders. What are your top three pieces of advice for those who have become leaders?

  1. Plan for four hours’ worth of tasks in your day. The other four hours will be filled up with emergent things!
  2. Clarifying expectations can feel uncomfortable at first, but without them, you breed future resentment and set people up for failure.
  3. Meet people where they are and uncover your common ground. Knowing the starting point is just as important as knowing the finish line.

What tools do you use to help you stay on task at Automattic?

I use good old-fashioned pen/paper for prioritizing my tasks, but after that, I use a lot of WordPress blogs.

What is your advice for others who are non-technical contributors to WordPress?

Feel free to take your time as you’re learning the ropes of the open-source project. It can feel like everyone else was able to jump right in, but the secret is that many of us were silent learners for years before we made our first contributions.

What is your advice for other women and people of color in WordPress?

Try to allow yourself space to boldly try, without fear of “getting it wrong”. Getting things wrong and solving the problems together is the WordPress way!

How did WP Briefing come about? Who’s idea was it to start the podcast? And how did it end up in IMDB?

Matt Mullenweg actually suggested it! He had noticed how many WordPress podcasts there were in the ecosystem and thought it would be smart to start one that was sort of an official one. I was hesitant at first, but have really come to enjoy it! And… I have no idea how it ended up in IMDb. Definitely not me!

Wrapping it up

Thanks to Josepha for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions.

If you want to keep your finger on the pulse of the Open Source side of things at WordPress, Josepha is a great person to follow.

You can keep up with Josepha on Twitter, her blog, and the WP Briefing Podcast.

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Donata Stroink-Skillrud
Donata Stroink-Skillrud
President of Agency Attorneys

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