Work Travels Sandwiching my Summer

My teammates in Atlanta

My summer was wrapped by work trips. I knew this, and thought it was a nice beginning and closure, but I’m blown away by how quickly everything happened.

My teammates in Atlanta
Jupiter – My Team at Automattic.

It seems like just yesterday that I was with my team at a meetup in Atlanta, Georgia. And I didn’t even write about it (aside from a brief mention another post)!

This was partially because I knew social media was flooded with the summaries of the trip from my teammates, partially from my lack of time to give it due diligence, and partially because I didn’t have the words to focus on how much the meetup meant to me. I kind of still don’t have the words but figure writing something is better than writing nothing at this point.

I truly love my job and my team and my other colleagues. It’s not just the ever-evolving world of technology that fascinates me. It’s the people. My heart and soul back up what we offer. And though my job and this medium, I get to meet amazing people like those of you who follow my site.

Yes, I know, there are flaws. But I also see the inside story and know we have a committed team of people constantly striving to make it possible for people to tell their stories, share information and promote businesses. This is not a simple task since people do all this from their homes and on the road, using different networks, different browsers and different devices. It is pretty amazing.

Once a year my team gets together for a week of learning and bonding. The days are filled with general support as well as sessions for further learning and discussion on how we can improve on what we offer. And UNO. Lots and lots of UNO. In Atlanta this year I learned a lot more about WooCommerce and also learned how to troubleshoot in cases where plugin conflicts break sites (for customers using our Business Plan).

My teammates and I also got to spend time bonding at the pool and at meals. One day I even got to go to the Georgia Aquarium, which was a trip highlight for me.

Now I am writing this post from the airport on my way to the full company meetup in Orlando, FL. Tomorrow evening will find me at the kickoff party with almost 1,000 colleagues for a week of super-intense learning and bonding.

I’m flying out today because we realize it’s a bad idea to leave customers without support as we all travel, so a bunch of Happiness Engineers (myself included) offered to arrive a day earlier and stay a day later at the end of the week so we can cover support while our co-workers travel. And they are doing the same for the days we travel.

It’s a real treat to see my colleagues live. We meet each other at various conferences and as teams shift, but we mostly talk online while we work using Slack. There are some fun things we are going to do, and there are also various classes and seminars offered. I’m okay at CSS thanks to past meetups, but have a long way to go so getting better at that will be one of my goals for my week.

Later this week, on Sept 14th, it will have been five years since I was hired to work as a Happiness Engineer (tech support for WordPress.com), and I still wake up every day thankful that I get to work. It’s a blessing I don’t take for granted.

Highlighted Blog #26 – Annezazu

Another blog from another colleague. I truly have the best colleagues. Just sayin’ :). Anne is a powerhouse nomad who is one of my heroes in life. Her dynamic brilliance is ever focused on making life better for others. Amazing.

My card got declined today while grocery shopping. It was ironic as I have been “home” in San Diego for an extended period of time yet still somehow managed to set off alarm bells with some bot overlord in charge of tracing fraudulent activity. It normally only happens when I’m on the road and forgetful […]

via As close as we can — annezazu

Highlighted Blog #24 – Kat’s Thoughts

Often I will curl up on a day off and read through blogs. I particularly love reading a nice long blog post that broadens my world. Kat’s blog is one of my favorites for this. Through her writing, I gain insight into novels and get to armchair travel and learn about the world.

Trois-Pistole is a small town a few hours away north from Montreal. It is located on the shore of the Saint-Laurence river close where it falls into the ocean. Almost everything about the area makes you feel like you are at the seaside – the fresh salty air, the water full of seaweed, the seals […]

via Kayaking In Trois-Pistole — Kat’s Thoughts

Highlighted Blog #24 – Kat's Thoughts

Often I will curl up on a day off and read through blogs. I particularly love reading a nice long blog post that broadens my world. Kat’s blog is one of my favorites for this. Through her writing, I gain insight into novels and get to armchair travel and learn about the world.

Trois-Pistole is a small town a few hours away north from Montreal. It is located on the shore of the Saint-Laurence river close where it falls into the ocean. Almost everything about the area makes you feel like you are at the seaside – the fresh salty air, the water full of seaweed, the seals […]

via Kayaking In Trois-Pistole — Kat’s Thoughts

Routines

Tools for Establishing Routines
animation calm down GIF by Chibird
Oh May it be So

My life is kind of getting away from me – lacking routines. You know the feeling? I bet most can relate. It’s a struggle balancing life, home, family, friends, work, play, faith, exercise, etc. Fortunately, one of the perks of being an Automattic employee is that we get time with a job coach if we want.

My Job Coach

After some video training I browsed through a list of coaches to see who might be a good fit for me based on their backgrounds and their summaries of their points of focus. For a start, I could meet any coach I wanted for a 15-minute video session to see how we interacted. Finally, I picked one to meet with for 10 sessions.

There was one who stood out to me. Sara. She’s a mom who enjoys salsa and who lived in Lisbon. Maybe that’s all what drew me. Plus she is just simply inspiring and focused on establishing peace. We met, and I immediately felt really confident working with her.

Now I’m almost half-way through our sessions, and I have to tell you it’s amazing. I’m not overwhelmed with info from her (she definitely guides me, but at my own pace so I’m not lost in the currents of life). Sara suggests little tweaks that make me so much more productive and helps me see where to focus as I establish routines. She also gives me resources to study to become a better human in general.

So that’s been happening, plus some travel for the company’s meetup, during which I learned soooooooooooo much. After the Grand Meetup (GM), I attended  Rochester WordCamp and learned even more. So many thoughts. So much to write about.

Routines

But first, I had to get organized. ‘cuz I’m like that. I sorted arenas of my life into categories, made myself some new Trello lists (while looking into Asana), updated my calendars, cleaned out my Simplenote lists and updated my tags, and now I’m ready to write, by golly! There’s even a list of thoughts and topics from my last few weeks I want to write about.

Not all of it will be here — some will be on my Inspired by and Thankful For blog, and some will be for internal work documents, and some will be communications with family and friends, but I have scheduled time for daily addressing my own mind-dump needs.

I’m really looking forward to this new routine, and am feeling a bit less scattered already.

Winning Fun Things

IMG_4838.jpgDay 24/30 – Today I’m thankful for fun memories of winning things. In September I was at our company meetup at Whistler (since our company is distributed, we gather once a year so all co-workers can be together in person).

Some years I take classes, but this year I joined a bunch of others in working my regular support job while I was there.

There was a random drawing for those in the room, and I was the lucky winner of these awesome coasters 🙂 Now when I set my coffee down, I’m reminded of a super fun week and am also reminded of how fortunate I am to work where I do.

  • For November (the month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving in the US), I’m trying to blog about something for which I’m thankful for each day of the month.

Thankful for Flex Days

weekend-1756858_1920Day 8/30 – It’s 3:23pm on Wednesday afternoon as I sit down to write this. I’ve been cleaning house for over half an hour, and got a notification that the audio book I was listening to while cleaning has a broken connection. So now I deleted the bad file and am downloading the good one from the library and am writing while that happens. Really, anything I choose to do now is completely flexible because it’s my weekend.

I LOVE having my weekend take place on Thursdays and Fridays (and half of Wednesdays). Even more, I am thankful that I have the flexbility to adjust my week however I need to. Now that my kids are grown, there’s no problem working on weekends. (Actually, when there were here it wasn’t a problem either since we homeschooled. I got to see them all week then they were gone on weekends, hanging out with friends.)

It’s tough to work in support on weekends when it’s the only time you see your family. And it’s tough to need support on weekends if nobody is there. So I feel very fortunate to be able to help my co-workers and our product users by working then. And since I’m working, I might as well put in as many hours as I can. Pretty much I work until my brain fries out or I get cranky. I average 20-ish hrs on Saturdays and Sundays then 8 or 9 hrs on Monday then grab a half-day Wednesdays.

Another great part of having my weekend “flex days” on Thursdays and Fridays is that I can get business done with banks and such while they are still open. And the stores are generally not crowded.

Sometimes it’s an issue because friends invite us to things on their weekends, but fortunately my job comes with the flexibility to adjust for those times.

Who gets to set a work schedule any way they want like that?!?! I know some do, but I’m one of the fortunate few at a global level, and I’m highly appreciative.

  • * For November (the month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving in the US), I’m trying to blog about something for which I’m thankful for each day of the month.

 

Ageism and Automattic

Some of the over-40-year-old workers at Automattic (image taken by my co-workerJen Hooks at our company's Grand Meetup at Whistler).

Some of the over-40-year-old workers at Automattic (image taken by my co-workerJen Hooks at our company's Grand Meetup at Whistler).
Some of the over-40-year-old workers at Automattic (image taken by my co-worker Jen Hooks at our company’s Grand Meetup at Whistler).

About a week ago I read an article on age and the workplace that was a bit chilling. It linked to a study, which shows that in the tech industry

43% of employees worry about losing their job due to their age

The thought was sobering. Downright sad. And scary.

What really gets me about all this is the fact that this is the tech industry we are talking about. While I know computers “became a thing” over a century ago, the people who really got the momentum going for the techie-world we work and thrive in now are now are still alive. This is not a history lesson from some old moldy book. We have the pioneers living right in our midst. Why in the world would we not want to tap into this knowledge?

It reminded me once again of how fortunate I am to be working at Automattic, Inc where we constantly strive to maintain and cultivate an inclusive environment. Inclusivity refers not only to race and gender but also to many other facets of one’s being. This includes age, geographic location, disabilities, etc.

Our company currently has a bit over 600 employees, and over 80 of us are over 40-years-old. I was 42 when I was hired.

Not only do I not fear for my age being a factor in my job, I often feel that my age is considered an asset. Yes, we do have/have had young people working in the company. Brilliant, energetic individuals who might not have experienced their first legal alcoholic drink yet. But we also have people decades older than my current 45 years. We all have something unique to bring to the table, and overall, it helps us provide a better product for our customers and relate in different ways as we offer customer support.

I wish other companies would realize that.

The report suggests ways for companies to become more inclusive in regard to age. Our company not only implemented those suggestions long before my hiring, but it is constantly re-evaluating to make sure all our needs are met.

For example, as a mid-forty-year-old woman, I’m now in the sandwich generation. The company allows me to set my own schedule so I can take time to be with my kids when they are home from college or visiting, and I can also arrange my work days so I have the flexibility to take my mother-in-law to doctor appointments and on errands.

I, myself, have some of the fun health issues that come with age and life-experiences. My arthritic fingers balk at typing and mouse-use at times. The company provides me with the keyboards and special mouse options I need to relieve that pain.

What does the company get in return? Well, for one thing, I’m so grateful for flexibility in schedule that I will happily work overtime if it’s necessary (and sometimes even when it’s not because this job is so wonderful, it’s addicting). I offer life-lessons I have learned from things that have worked or not worked in past experiences. Also, as stated in the study linked above:

Research by David Galenson of the University of Chicago showed that approaches to problem-solving differ between generations, and Galenson found that older people tend to do better at solving thorny, complicated problems due to the deeper levels of understanding they have acquired over the course of their careers.

Good stuff, that. 🙂

Anyway, I just wanted to share this because it’s been in my thoughts this week. And I’m really thankful for my job.

BTW, if you are into tech and/or customer support, we’re hiring (and age won’t be a factor against you 😉 ).