Chaos – Year One

tl;dr Chaos is pretty amazing. Automattic is, too. Enjoy the chaos. Thanks for making my first year at Automattic amazing.

Exactly one year ago today was my first day at Automattic. Starting that day, every day since has been a whirlwind of chaos. And I love it.

When starting at Automattic, I was greeted with “Welcome to the Chaos.” I chuckled naively and moved on. From then on, the phrase popped into my head almost daily (sometimes far more). I’ve come to expect last minute travel, flexible daily routines, and, more importantly, I’ve become comfortable with the unknowns.

A few of the unknowns

I had never touched SVN, terminal (mostly), a proxy, or anything remotely like our workflow when working on WordPress.com. This was an incredibly amount of new concepts to learn in a very short time. The best part is that we have documentation on how to do all these things via our internal guide so I could jump in and learn efficiently (and also be super duper overwhelmed). Now, I’m BFF’s with terminal, sort of like SVN, appreciate proxying our traffic (Thanks @koke), and am generally comfortable searching and discovering how to do things I’ve never even thought of.

I had no idea which hotel I was staying in when I arrived in Glasgow (and frankly didn’t care). It turns out (due to a mixup) our hotel wasn’t even booked for the first night, but in a matter of a few minutes, we had acquired a new place to stay for the night.

I no longer worry too much about time/day/month it is. I choose my schedule and love what I do. If I want to take a four hour lunch break, I am trusted to come back and work extra that evening. Heck, we don’t even track hours, but I suspect if we did, 40 hours a week would be well below average. I think this lack of focus on how many hours I work and “closing time” allows us to really focus on what we’re doing and end our day on a logical stopping point.

I find myself picking up and heading to various spots to work on a whim. In one day I may wander from my apartment to maybe a coffee shop, a coworking space, a park, the library, the Botanical Gardens, the Denver Art Museum, a bar, or even my friends’ apartments. I find this really helps with sanity and progressing on projects in general.

I break stuff all the time. Kevin Conboy told me at some point that web design is all about breaking and fixing stuff. This concept has always been in the back of my mind since then, but its been a pretty standard daily bit of chaos since joining. We’re pretty good as a company at breaking stuff, but we’re even better at efficiently fixing and improving that stuff. I broke VaultPress’s dashboard a few times and was quickly notified by whoever spotted it and without stress, hopped back into the code, fixed what I broke an push it live. I’ve never busted anything bad enough for an immediate revert, but we have a process for that in place if needed as well.

In general, I’m presented with new unexpected challenges daily. Whether it’s new software, workflows, locations, meetups, projects, whatever, I’ve come to be pretty dang confident that I can efficiently understand and react to and take advantage of any chaos headed my way.

Since joining

I’ve visited 10 cities across 7 states and two countries.

I’ve been to nine conferences, four of which I spoke at. I hadn’t done any speaking prior.

I’ve added 175 contributions via Github, had my Gravatar in one major WordPress release.

I’ve added 95 contributions across WordPress.com and VaultPress.

I’ve walked more than 2,009,052 steps (missing a month or so).

I’ve become friends with hundreds of brilliant people across the planet.

I’ve tried over 60 whiskeys (hard to get an exact number because I was drinking).

I’ve created over 90 blog posts on WordPress.

I’ve changed 176 of my passwords. 0 are the same.

I’ve acquired a slightly embarrassing amount of swag.

I’ve run into the Chairman of Height in five cities.

I met the particular individual who created WordPress a few times here and there.

My laptop has acquired 22 stickers.

I’ve gone through three phone cases (because they keep falling apart).

I’ve grown beyond measure as a designer and developer.

On Automattic

Chaos is kind of awesome. The chaotic lifestyle working at Automattic has presented me with has forced me to be present and confident in my ability  to adapt. I’m truly thankful at how amazing Automattic is as a workplace. I’m truly humbled daily by the group of brilliant friends I work with. If you think you’re up to the challenge, come work with us.

P.S. Sorry about the rambling. Zero editing was done in the making of this post.

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