Interview with Chris Winchester

Posted April 6th, 2011 in Marketing, Tribune

Gantheaume Point Broome

Two weeks ago, I made the journey to New Zealand to attend the well-known web conference, Webstock. On my first day there, I spotted a man wearing a bright yellow T-shirt which read: Remember me? I met you at Webstock looking for a job.

What a great idea! Here he is, wearing a T-shirt promoting himself in a fun way, looking for a web industry job in the perfect environment — a web conference. Little did I realize, until speaking with Chris, that there was more to the story.

You see, Chris heard about the conference only two weeks beforehand, and traveled from the other end of the globe — the UK — to spend a few days in Wellington looking for a job.

Here’s the story in Chris’s own words:

Hi Chris, thanks for speaking with me. Tell us some background as to your decision to quit your job and travel over 11,000 miles across the world to NZ.

My great-grandfather’s brother, Tom Garratt, who like me was from Liverpool, jumped ship in Wellington and set up a printing business in the 1930s — a business that, I believe, is still run by the Garratt family today. In his way he was a facilitator of mass communication and, I guess, so am I but in a 21st century context; so it feels like there’s a resonance there.

I’ve had family and friends in NZ all my life, and spent a year in Christchurch as a little kid, but I rediscovered the country for myself when my wife and I came over a few years ago on our honeymoon. It might sound a bit cheesy to say we fell in love with the place and the people — but we did, so I will!

Then a couple of years ago, after our daughter was born, we were looking at what we could do if we sold our two-bedroom flat in London. We considered buying a small three-bedroom house a bit further out of London, but then we realized we might be able to come over to NZ and have some real space.

It’s a long way to move — about as far as you can go (the moon’s yet to open for business) — but we thought if we let the opportunity slip by, we’d always wonder about what we missed.

So, you told me that you only heard about the conference two weeks ago — how did you prepare?

We’d been waiting in a queue with the NZ immigration service for quite a while, and knew that if one of us got a job offer over here that should speed things up. So we were just starting to research potential opportunities. My wife, Nikky was surfing around and said, “Ah, it’s a shame you missed that.” She’d found the Webstock site. I realized there were still two weeks to go and therefore it was possible to come over and meet everyone. So I threw together a bit of a personal marketing campaign.

I went straight online and ordered a bunch of T-shirts from spreadshirt.net that read, Remember me? I met you at Webstock looking for a job. As soon as they arrived a couple of days later, I went into my parent’s back garden (as we’d sold our flat!) to take photos of me in the shirts. I was balancing a camera on top of a snowman as I didn’t have a tripod; wish I had a picture of the snowman taking the picture of me! Ah well …

So, once I’d taken the pictures I fired up Photoshop and put together a set of business cards saying, Web monkey seeks job with my T-shirt photos and web address. Then I ordered a big pile of them through moo.com by special delivery. It was getting a bit tight for time by this stage, as I needed to be on a plane a couple of days later. I even had to order myself a new laptop bag and suitcase, as the ones I had were unsuitable for the flight. Fortunately everything arrived just in time.

I had to retrieve my passport from NZ House in London as it was with the immigration authorities and I was up in Liverpool. So I had a mate pick it up and I met him at Euston Station for a Cold War-style handover, on the way to Heathrow on the Friday morning before Webstock. I spent Valentine’s Day in the air and arrived in Wellington looking (and feeling) a bit bemused on Sunday afternoon.

Fantastic! So what inspired your T-shirt and business cards campaign?

I have absolutely no idea! It just popped into my head. The four colors of the cards were chosen because they were the only colors that Spreadshirt had in organic cotton for the T-shirts, and I was trying to be vaguely green.

Although, how I can say that and justify the carbon hit of flying halfway round the world I’m unsure — I’ll have to think that one over. I really wanted bamboo shirts as they’re so comfy, but the European Spreadshirt site has yet to produce them, which is a bit of a shame.

Come to think of it, icebreaker shirts would be the ultimate … maybe one day!

Once I knew I had four different colors I had a quick think about what I could do to tie the card set together. I had a copy of the Beatles’ Help! album with them doing semaphore flag signalling in the snow, and I thought maybe I could do that. I tried to copy their poses, but a friend tells me the cards actually spell “NUJD”, not “HELP” at all!

You’ve been in Wellington for a few days now — how do you feel you’ve been received?

Everyone’s been great! They are really welcoming and encouraging, apart from one lady who said, “I don’t think people are really doing business cards any more.” But hey, fair enough, each to their own. I’ve had a really warm reception, including the weather!

I’d like to say a really big thank-you to the local web community — it’s been a real pleasure to meet you all, and I hope we’ll be working together soon!

Thanks for your time, Chris, and I hope you’ll keep us up to date in your adventures towards landing that job.

This post first appeared as part of Issue 436 of the SitePoint Tribune, a very popular email newsletter that I am co-editor of. Thanks to SitePoint for allowing me to reproduce the work here.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.