Fourteen Years

Fourteen Years

To my best friend Jen,

There isn’t a day which goes by where I don’t want to spend it with you. For the past fourteen years you’ve stuck with me through many ups and downs. The whole time you’ve been my rock that I lean on, encouraging me to take risks, and holding me up when times get low.

You are one of the smartest, most courageous, hardworking, and kindest people I know.

A tiny list of the things we’ve been through together:

  • 8 moves
  • 9 vehicles
  • 12 of my jobs
  • 4 years of University
  • 4 children
  • Some immense heartache
  • Near death experience
  • Awesome vacations
  • Countless memories

Topping that list however is the endless love and happiness we share. I’m so thankful that we’ve had this time together, getting to know you better and better, and watching our family grow. It makes me extremely proud to tell people you are my wife and I’m looking forward to creating many more memories together for the rest of our lives.

 

Love What You Do

It’s coming up on the one year mark from when I started my Trial with Automattic and I’ve been working full time here for about ten months now. Looking back on my past jobs and places I’ve worked I really don’t remember a time where at this point I wasn’t looking for other opportunities. Not this time. There isn’t any part of me that wants to be looking to move anywhere else. When I realized this I thought I should sit and think about what makes this company so different for me.

There are the obvious things that you can see when you read the benefits on the Work With Us page, and although those go to show that they do value you as an employee and want to keep you happy, that is really only a small part of it for me.

One of the biggest things for me is that I’m doing something I really am passionate about. Helping people get online. The mission of WordPress in general is to democratize publishing. That is a short statement but very powerful. The goal is to make the same opportunity to have your message available online to everyone. WordPress already goes a long way to make this happen, but there is still along way to go as well. Automattic is dedicated to working towards this. Whether it is by offering the free plan to everyone on WordPress.com, working on getting the software available in many more languages, or by dedicating as much time and effort as we do contributing to the open source project.

One of the things that really makes me proud to be a part of is when it come to freedom of speech. If everyone is going to have the same opportunity to publish their views, that is going to end up including people who have views you don’t agree. Automattic goes above and beyond to fight for the rights of all people using the service. One example of this is scoring perfect on the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) Who has your back report. You can see some other examples on our transparency reports Hall of Shame.

Even though we all work remotely and I’ve only met a handful of my co-workers in person so far, the people that get hired here are amazing people. The hiring team and process do a great job to make sure the people hired are going to be a good fit.

When I was sick and in the hospital I received many well wishes. A co-worker from Scotland had a lovely plant delivered to me  and my team sent flowers as well. This in addition to everyone letting me know not to worry about anything. Take as much time as I needed and things would be covered. They were genuinely concerned with me getting better.

That’s an example of when something major happens and everyone showing their support. This also goes on in little ways every day. Everyone is willing to take the time needed to help you solve a problem, work something out, or even listen to you vent about something work related or even something outside of work that has you frazzled. The support I see given to me and to everyone else is outstanding.

A lot of these things come back to the Automattic Creed which I’ve previously written about. People here believe in and and live it.

I will never pass up an opportunity to help out a colleague, and I’ll remember the days before I knew everything.

When I did my Trial I had a Buddy, a full time employee who would be with me through the process to help me in what ever way they could. It meant a lot to have someone you knew you could count on to ask anything. I’ve been a buddy to a few new employees who were doing a support rotation after they were first hired, but currently I have my first Trial Buddy. It is exciting that now I get to be the person to help pass on the things I’ve learned to someone else in this bit more formal way.

I will never stop learning.

That’s the first line in the creed. There is so much to learn here in general, let alone that it is in the tech industry which is always evolving and changing. There is no way I could ever get bored unless I purposely avoided trying to learn new things. Automattic helps make this possible as well. Reimbursing for books, courses, and encouraging learn-ups between co-workers.

Trust. From the minute you’re hired you have the same access to everything as every one else. You’re free to make decisions and do what you feel is right. As a Happiness Engineer most of that centers around ensuring what you’re doing is best for the person I’m working with, or the people in general who use our products.

Automattic values their employee’s happiness and well being as well. That’s why there is so much flexibility left in terms of schedules and vacation policy. It comes back to being trusted as well. Recently I approached our Events Sponsorship manager with not much notice about us supporting an upcoming local conference BlogJam. She made it work and we were able to help out the conference. This is great for me as it is the first year it is running and selfishly I want to make sure everything goes well so it can be around for more years and just get larger and better.

Just the other day I was reminded in another way the value us when a co-worker was doing a support rotation, where one week you give up your usual role and spend it doing support instead. It is similar to the first three weeks when anyone is hired. They were working doing live chat and one of the users was abusive, intolerant, and making just rotten comments in general. When the lead of our Happiness group found out about this he personally refunded this person all the money they had paid us for services and emailed them directly letting them know with such an interaction they were better off not being a customer with us and asked them to move their services elsewhere.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this done, but it really shows they value all the employees and aren’t going to allow someone just because they are paying to treat people here like that. Luckily this is not a common occurrence as the vast majority of people I interact with are no where near like that and appreciative of the support they receive.

This ended up being a bit longer than I expected, but if you’re still with me think you and Automattic would be a good match, we’re hiring, come work with me.

First Date – Wolfville Reservoir Park

We took the kids swimming at the Wolfville Reservoir Park recently. This is one of my favourite places in the world. Not only does it have a nice walking trail and a mountain bike course, but it also has a swimming area and an amazing view over the Minas Basin to Cape Blomidon. Even with all these wonderful things going for it none of them are the reason it is one my favourite place, the reason is more sentimental than that.

Roughly twelve years ago this is where Jen and I came for our first date. We had known each other for a while but were only coworkers / friends. We met while working together at a call centre and thankfully we had an instant messaging type program that we could use to talk to other because I don’t know if I would have ever talked to her if I had to walk up face to face. Eventually things all aligned and we ended up going out together. I was driving but she told me where to go, it was a surprise for me. We ended up at the Wolfville Reservoir Park. I had never been there before but she had been a number of times. We ended up going for a walk around the water areas and then sat on a bench with a view looking out towards Blomidon, although I didn’t pay much attention to the view.

Even though I was incredibly shy, and thought she was more there just being nice to me than actually being interested, I made the most of it. We sat there and talked for a quite a while, though I’m not really sure how long. If we could have stayed there together all night I would have never left. Despite me being to much of a coward to of make any sort of move that night, we also had our first kiss. That’s when it really changed for me. Obviously, for some reason, she was actually interested and this had the potential to something more than just one date.

Fast forward to now and I’m very thankful for that first night. We don’t end up at the park all that often, but every time we are there I take at least a minute to go sit on the same bench and remember.

Disturbing Wakeup Call

As any parent knows broken sleep is pretty par for the course. There are still many nights when some kid will come into our room having a nightmare, or they aren’t feeling well.

This past while has been fairly bad because of a round of colds going through the house. It seems there has been at least one of them who is up coughing or waking up because they can’t breath through the night.

Last night however the kids slept great. Our cat Zeus however had other plans. It is a disturbing way to be jolted awake at 3:00am by the sound of a cat vomiting on your bed.

Our cross eyed Siamese friend was kind enough to try to get to the edge of the bed at least so only some of it landed on it. The rest splattered across the floor thanks to the height of the bed.

To top it off my wife got mad at me for not kicking him down off the bed. I of course apologized for not being totally aware of what was happening microseconds after being being ripped from my sleep.

If there is a positive to this story though it would be that it’s likely a good sign that at 3:00am, while cleaning up cat puke, you and your spouse are able to laugh with each other at the situation.