Automattic had their 2017 Grand Meetup in Whistler back in September (if you’re not sure what a Grand Meetup is Read this). This will be my third GM (it’s crazy to me how time flies), and Automattic’s biggest one yet as we’re now at over 600 employees.
I feel like this year’s Grand Meetup was just perfectly timed. We’re actively hiring so there were are a lot of new faces and 3 new team members added to our team. Which made it great to meet everyone in person, and spend some time bonding as a team.
I’ve written about my amazing team Sparta here, but we work on WordPress.com support together. You’ll find us all in live chat, answering emails, and in general just crushing it. Our team is made up of members from the western half of North America, so we’re generally all in the same timezone. I was just SO excited to see all of them.
I posted a ton of pictures of last year’s Grand Meetup here and posted my thoughts here. And just realized that I forgot to post them for the Grand Meetup we had back in October of 2016 (which was around 5 months ago).
Wait, so what is a Grand Meetup?
Automattic is a remote company, which means that all employees work from wherever in the world they are. While we do have several offices or lounges in San Francisco, Maine, and Cape Town, no employees are expected to work out of there. The one time of a year we all get together is for the Grand Meetup (or what we fondly call the “The GM”) where Automattic flies all employees to one location where we all work together for a week.
I wanted to take a moment and share a really awesome picture from Automattic’s recent Grand Meetup in Park City, Utah….our Company Picture.
I feel like such a proud parent, because over the past few days I’ve been showing everyone this picture and pointing out some of my coworkers.
I think it’s also a bit of a proud moment because I’ve seen company pictures from past Grand Meetups, but this is the first one I’m actually in. Making it even more real that I get to actually work here.
And also as a bonus here is the most intelligent, caring, and hilarious group of women I know, the Women of Automattic.
I remember being on my Happiness Engineer trial back in April, when the dates were announced for Automattic’s Grand Meetup. I can recall thinking to myself, “I’m going to be there. I’m going to do whatever it takes to get this job and in October I’m going to be at that Grand Meetup in Utah.” Now I’m writing this on the other side of all of that… unpacking from my first ever Grand Meetup at Automattic.
It still kinda blows my mind that I get to work for Automattic. I honestly didn’t quite know what to expect from the Grand Meetup. I knew I’d enjoy myself and that I’d learn a lot. It just never occurred to me that it would make me fall in love all over again with Automattic, WordPress.com, my wonderful colleagues and our leadership.
This past year my life has changed so much. I truly just feel so blessed to be where I’m at today. I still can’t believe I get to work here among these amazing people. Since we work remotely we don’t get to see each other in person very often. This was first time meeting most of my coworkers in person. I was only able to meet about 40% of the company. My goal was originally meeting 50% of the company, but my brain started shutting off and I had a hard time remember names & faces.
From the start, I’ve always admired Matt Mullenweg for well… this wonderful thing we use called WordPress. Over this weekend I’ve come to admire much much more about him. His generosity, this laser focus, infectious passion for business and WordPress, but also this determination to create a work environment unlike anything else. Each time he spoke on any of these subjects, I couldn’t help but feel just how deeply he cared not only for WordPress but for each of us employees. Before, he was a talented man that I wanted to thank for creating WordPress. Now, he’s also become my fearless leader that is so easy to follow and trust. I really can’t imagine working for anyone else at this point.
I figured I’d learn a lot during this week… and I really did.
I took a class called The Live Chat Academy. I loved every minute of it. I felt like it was exactly what I needed as a New Happiness Engineer. Expanding my skills, but focusing primarily on making me better at my current job.
Another big thing I learned from… was so many little conversations. There was also so many amazing conversations about where we’re going, where we’ve been, and where we want to go. Each conversation left me even more motivated to learn more and work harder alongside some of the most talented and kind humans that I’m privileged to call my colleagues.
A few nights ago I had some of the best conversations I’ve had this entire trip. It was the kind of conversation, that just felt like I had been handed gold. There are so many Automatticians that I’ve looked up to, not only for their seemingly never-ending pool of knowledge, but also for their kindness and willingness to sit down and help me work through problems.
It’s been easy for me to put these wonderful people on a pedestal. To think that their skills come easy to them. What I found surprising this week was that they had the same struggles as me, working hard to not only develop these skills but also facing the same insecurities I do. They had even questioned whether they should even apply to Automattic, wondering if they’d get in. Sometimes, they feel in over their head or like they don’t know enough. I’ve felt the same. But the one thread between all those people… was that when faced with those challenges, they pushed through. They faced the things they were scared of and eventually mastered it. To me… that just makes them even more amazing. More importantly, it shows that I’m capable of it as well.
“You are here because you are one of the best in the world at what you do.”
That was said to me the other night. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. I find myself at so many moments, just thankful to be here. Sometimes I do wonder how the heck I’m even here around such brilliant people. I wonder if they made a mistake letting me in. *shrugs* maybe they did… but I’m okay with that. As long as I’m fighting to learn and grow, to get better… I’m just happy to be among them.
I really can’t say this enough… but every Automattician is so kind, friendly, and fiercely talented. I was worried because I am definitely an introvert. Being around people and talking can really drain me. I prefer to hide out and be by myself. While I can sometimes fake being an extrovert when I need to, I get tired quickly.
I never really had to worry about any of this around my colleagues. I’d just hangout and talk. When I got tired, I’d step away for a bit, then come right back. While I’m usually in bed pretty early, I’d find myself staying up really late because I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want the conversations to end. Even on the final night when we had a wonderful 10 yr Anniversary party for Automattic and there was DJs and dancing… I would typically find a night quiet spot for the night. Instead, I was up in the front dancing and singing. I just felt so comfortable around these awesome people.
I think the main thing I’m leaving the Grand Meet up with… is clarity and drive to not only work harder to make WordPress better, but to take on the things that scare me the most.
I’ve also left the Grand Meet up with is so much love, affection, and admiration for all 400 of my fellow Automatticians. Who are just amazing people. I felt nothing but kindness and friendship from every single one of them. It was easy to let my guard down, be silly, and learn from some of the most amazing people. Being a part of a company that is completely distributed (we get to work from wherever we want) is one of the most amazing things I’ve been a part of.
In the Live Chat class with Chad & Trevor
Park City is gorgeous
Party City Resort
A night around the bonfire
Enjoying the Townhall with Drew & Victoria
Inside the Lunch tent with a few team members
Our gorgeous resort
With Maureen & Chad
Hanging out with Sarah & Pam
Sarah, Chad, Sandy, Pam at the selfie wall. Of course
Sarah & Andrew demonstrating a side hug
Andrew & I
Hanging out with some awesome Automatticians including Matt Mullenweg
I’m in Park City, Utah for my very first Grand Meetup at Automattic.
This is also the first time I’ve met my team mates in person.
I have to admit, it’s a bit overwhelming to walk into a room of 400 strangers, when I’ve only met roughly about 10 Automatticians before this.
It was a weird sensation, seeing so many faces that I recognized from Slack or just in general “seeing them around” online. But yet not really knowing them yet. On the other hand, getting a chance to finally meet in person the people you’ve been through so much with. It’s just awesome. Everyone is so amazing.
I feel like it’s summed up best by this tweet from:
When everyone in the room is the most interesting person in the world. #a8cgm
Every Automatticians is extremely friendly, with a quick wit, and in general just really really smart and kind. Their stories are inspiring and hilarious.
Lunch and Dinner typically have assigned seating where you’re seated with people you haven’t met yet. Since I’m an introvert, the idea of sitting at a table for a good hour and a half with people I don’t know… is uncomfortable for me. It kinda feels like a blind date with 4 coworkers. haha.
In practice though… it was kinda awesome. I got to spend some time with some amazing people I wouldn’t have otherwise had met and learn their stories. It’s kinda cool, but I have yet to meet an Automattician I have nothing in common with.
In most companies there is a clear divide between developers and designers and customer support. It’s not that way at all in Automattic. Everyone is treated like one big family. There is no clear divide. Your opinion is valued and no question is ever too silly to ask. Everyone loves to teach and learn. It’s pretty amazing.
We still have a few days left, but I’m already dreading the moment when it’s all over. When we all leave and go back home. Where we go back to funny memes and gifs instead of making funny faces at each other. Working for a distributed company like Automattic has so many great things about it. We get to hire the best, no matter where in the world they’re located. But that also means that we don’t see each other often. That just makes it even more special when we’re all in one place together.