Working at Automattic comes with many perks, but none quite so amazing as a three month paid sabbatical to disconnect from work and do whatever you want to do, without having to worry about paying the bills.
Want to finally write that novel you never have time for? Ever thought of hiking the Appalachian Trail or riding all 9289km of the Trans-Siberian Railway in one go? What about that blacksmithing apprenticeship you’ve always wanted to try? Or perhaps you’ve been thinking of going back to school, finish that degree you had to leave incomplete, because life? The possibilities are endless.
Continue reading “Time for a break”
Yesterday, three years ago, I started my Happiness trial at Automattic.
Today I’m at the start of my third Automattic Grand Meetup.
Over the past three years I’ve visited the US and Canada twice, as well as Scotland and Portugal. I’ve given a talk at a WordCamp that inspired someone else to become a Happiness Engineer. I’ve learned stuff I never thought I would, and I’ve made hundreds of new friends from all around the world.
Thanks, Automattic, for letting me be part of making the web a better place!
I need to find a new reason for blogging. See, I recently realised that I’m not blogging for the sake of the writing. I started blogging as an escape from studies, a career and a life that was going nowhere. I started blogging because I was unhappy, and being silly and meeting new people online helped me forget that. I started blogging as a distraction.
For that same reason I started volunteering in the WordPress.com forums, but quickly came to love it and, one day late in 2015, decided to make a career out of it. And that’s how I came to be a Happiness Engineer at Automattic.
Continue reading “A day in the life of a Happiness Engineer”
Four weeks ago I was on my way to a foreign country for the third time in one year. But no 28-hour flight to a different continent this time. Instead, just a quick hop across the border to our next-door neighbour, Zimbabwe. Along with a colleague from Cape Town I was representing Automattic and speaking at the first ever WordCamp Harare.
It was amazing. This was only my second-ever WordCamp – the first one being WordCamp Johannesburg a few weeks earlier – and my first time speaking at one, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I found were some of the friendliest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.
There were freelancers, people who work for big internet companies, computer studies students, and folk who just run WordPress websites for their companies, non-profits, or themselves. I was pleasantly surprised to meet several WordPress.com bloggers there as well. Everyone united by a love for WordPress, and it can empower them to make a difference in their own, and others’ lives.
As for my talk? I realised I’m out of practice with public speaking – I kept losing my place in my notes and forgetting to advance my slides, and felt glad when it was over. It didn’t help that due to another speaker not showing up and a couple going over their allotted time I wound up in the last slot of the day.
But I received nothing but positive feedback from the other WordCampers, so maybe it went better than I thought. (Or the WordPressers in Harare are just really nice people. I think it might be the latter 🙂 )
Actually, the thing that finally prompted me to write this post which I’ve been putting off for the past month, was a tweet yesterday that my talk is now up on WordPress.tv, so you can go watch it there if you want. It was mostly aimed at people there who built WordPress products – sites, themes, plugins – and spoke about how a little time educating your customers about their WordPress sites can save a lot of time in helping them fix things if they break later.
I didn’t take a camera with, but here’s a few pics I captured on my phone:
The obligatory view from 20000 feet
My hotel room looked out on Harare Garden’s – Harare’s Central Park
It’s not a real WordCamp without shirts…
…or swag 😀
…and almost forgot again today. But yesterday was acutally a very significant day and I can’t have it pass without marking it.
Yesterday a year ago two things happened that changed my life beyond imagining. I started working at Automattic, and I found out that I was going to be a dad.
It’s a bit of a tradition at Automattic to blog about working here on one’s anniversary, but that will need to stand over for a later date when I have time to do it properly. But let me just say for now that it has been one heck of a ride so far. And it’s all about the people.
The magic of WordPress does not lie in the software, but in the community that surrounds it, and inside Automattic is only a small part of that community, but a very special one. Never before have I worked with a group of people that cares so deeply both about the work that they do and about each other (and I say that as someone who at one point worked for the church).
And being a dad? Earlier this evening I was scrolling through my Facebook feed on my phone and came across this very true statement:
If parenting had a GPS, it would constantly be saying “Recalculating”
And aint that the truth!
Just when we think we’re figuring things out, Elizabeth goes and changes the tables on us. But every single moment has been worth it. Seeing her grow and develop has been such an incredible experience. She has the most joyous laugh and the sweetest little voice. And the way that she smiles when she sees me…
I’m pretty sure there isn’t much in this world I wouldn’t do for that little girl.
That’s it for now, but I’ll be writing some more on both of these soon!