The Grand Meetup Gitters

This past week has had me getting caught up on a lot of things, trying to be prepared to go away for a week to our annual company Grand Meetup. Last year I started working at Automattic on my Trial just shortly after everyone returned. At least one of my interviews was as they were all together. While I am very happy that this year I get to go myself and meet a large group of people who I’ve never met before, I also have a lot of anxiety about the trip.

I love traveling. Getting to see places I’ve never been, and all the people I work with are great. A few I’ve met during my team meetup the beginning of this year, but there are so many I’m really excited about getting to meet. There are going to be fun activities and interesting classes going on. The whole trip I’m confident is going to be a lot of fun. So what has me so nervous about it?

It’s not that I’ve traveled a lot, but there have been a few trips, and many of them I’ve gone on alone, not knowing anyone where I was going on the other end, but somehow this is different. Part of it is certainly the flash talk everyone will be giving. Getting up in front of people, as I’ve talked about before, is not fun for me. My presentation has been prepared and submitted for sometime though and I feel like I know how I want to present it well enough.

Even just the traveling part stresses me out. Flying is by far my favourite way to travel. I love looking out the window and seeing clouds or everything far below. The whole process still amazes me every time I do it. Airports on the other hand I don’t like. It feels like I never know where or how I’m supposed to move through. Do I take a carry on only, or check a bag? Do I have to pick up my checked bag and take it to the next leg of my flight, or does it follow me along automatically? What happens if I miss a flight? So many variables, even though I’ve never had a really bad time it still worries me.

Part of it is leaving everyone else here at home, it’s not often I’m away from Jen and the kids. Having the incredible flexibility I do with my job has allowed us to arrange our lives where we take full advantage of it. Lots of times Jen and I are just crossing paths or going opposite directions taking kids to where they need to be, or going to PTA meetings etc. So leaving everything to Jen has me stressed. Not that she can’t handle it, because I know she can, she does the lion share of organizing everything and making sure our household runs smooth anyway. But just the driving alone will be impossible to handle for one person. Luckily we have family and friends who are great about helping whenever they can, but I know it is still going to be extremely rough for her.

All week I’ve been knocking things off my to do list for before I leave. Even just little things seem to be bigger when you know they need to get done. Getting a hair cut, flu shot, car to the garage. Getting the lawn mowed, making all the phone calls you’ve been putting off. Making more arrangements for the car when you realize it needs a lot more than just an oil change.

Being an introvert and being around people, even though I enjoy it, takes me out of my comfort zone and I have to work at it. Having just gone to a conference this week and remembering how tired I felt afterwards, both because of everything going on, and because it also takes a lot out of me being in social situations like this. So realizing that I’m going to spend a week with a bunch of people, and getting to know them, makes me a bit tired just thinking about it.

All that said, I’m very excited to go on this meetup. Every interaction I’ve had with anyone at work so far has been a positive experience. Getting to meet these people and build real memories with them will make relationships stronger. One of things I’m most thankful for was getting to go, so soon after starting with Automattic, to Barcelona and meet my team. I feel it made us much closer and really solidified us as a team. Getting to do this with more people in the company will be awesome.

Knowing how much it costs, both financially and by taking people away from their regular jobs, goes to show that Automattic thinks the employees are important and that building these relationships with each other is a huge benefit. Another reason I feel so lucky to be a part of this.

Date your spouse

By no means am I a relationship expert but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about having a happy and healthy relationship. My wife and I have been married for over ten years and we love each other deeply. She is my best friend. However it seems to become easy to let life and everything else in it take priority.

Lately that is where I feel we’ve been. With so many things happening between work and everything our kids are involved in, we don’t seem leave any time for us to even talk. Most nights we are together watching TV or relaxing but we will both end up having either our computer or phone with us. Sometimes just checking email and Facebook, but other times doing work or planning the coming days.

Having both of us work from home should make it even easier to stay connected. Somehow it is almost like we take the fact that we are in the same place together so much of the time for granted and not really be together.

We have a family vacation coming up. For the first time ever I’m not looking forward to getting away from work, but getting away from the rest of life is going to be a welcome break. It is still a family vacation though so there isn’t going to be any real time for just us.

This is me realizing that I need to make the time and deliberately ensure that we get time together. Set date times away from the house where chores and distractions are easy to get in the way. They don’t need to be big elaborate or expensive dates, but just together over a coffee, or a walk alone together. When we were first dating we used to love just going for a drive, no where in particular but just driving and talking. These are the things we need to get back to.

I encourage everyone to make time and to date your spouse.

More thoughts on relationship building

I’ve been thinking more about my post the other day building relationships and how I can apply it to my work.

When I wrote that post and was thinking about it I was coming more from the personal side. Building relationships with people I meet  or interact with. Why not look at it from a work perspective?

At work my primary role is talking with users. What an opportunity! It’s obvious different than spending time with the same people many times, but taking a step back these people might contact support multiple times. It might not always be me they deal with but the are dealing the company in general.

This means through every interaction I should be looking at it as an opportunity to build a relationship. It might take a while and they might only contact us the one time. But as I’ve seen in my personal life building relationships has proven to be good for me in the long run.  Therefore if I try to build relationships with our users it will be good for the company in the long run. If it’s good for the company than in turn its good for me as well.

The great part about this is it’s a no lose situation because even if the user never contacts again, by taking this approach it will make my conversation with our users a pleasant and good experience for them.

I’m still not sure how this will change my day to day work exactly, but for now I’m going to try and make things a little more personal and just look at things in a bit of a different way than I have.