Job Perks

MacBook Pro with WordPress logo and only one sticker.

Aka. The stories a computer tells.

There are many things I love about my job, and two of them are:

  1. Getting to work with different types of technology, including new computers.
  2. Travel
My work computers

The average Happiness Engineer at Automattic works a machine hard. Long and hard. And to provide good support, we have to work as fast as possible while researching as much as possible. Soooo many tabs and browsers. This means it’s important to have workhorses (I mean computers) that hold up to our relentless boundary-pushing standards.

Fortunately the company realizes this, and we are eligible for new computers every 18 months. At that point, we can trade in our old computers or purchase them for the trade-in value. After four years of work, we get a treat. Instead of the Apple logo, we get to choose a Jetpack logo, an Automattic logo, Woo logo or a WordPress logo. I was actually happy with my computer and its performance so I pushed off getting my four-year special until after year five. I’m thankful for them all.

As I travel (mostly for company conferences, meetups, WordCamps, etc), I love to collect stickers. They bring back happy memories.

Macbook Air with stickers

This was my first computer (now my husband’s), and it’s a happy one since it included trips to Barcelona (my first meetup ever), Perugia and Portugal (a place where my heart lies). Also featured are the Buffalo from the Buffalo, NY Wordcamp, as well as Toronto, Saratoga Springs and New York City Wordcamps. Good times, indeed.

MacBook Pro with stickers

This second compute of mine is not so sticker-populated, but it holds some of my favorites. That Ben Dunkle signature on the support sticker from the Buffalo WordCamp? Priceless. And the WordPress is my super power! sticker designed by Michelle Ames for the Rochester, NY WordCamp is one of my all-time favorites. Two GMs in Orlando are reflected as well as one at Whistler. If you don’t know what a GM is, check out this super fun podcast on the topic.

See the coke bottle? That represents the Atlanta meetup. You can see our Montreal meetup represented as well. And Hogwarts represents my time on the mobile support teams. You probably all know that Deer Valley is special to me since a bunch of our kids work there, and Jiminy Peak is my snowboarding heaven.

The Jupiter stickers represent my team. I especially love the glow-in-the-dark planet my former teammate, Raul, gave as a gift. Now he’s on another team, but we keep in touch, and I love his thoughtfulness represented there. I also love that card-holder. That comes in super-handy at conferences for those of us who never remember to carry our cards around with us :). Chris got that idea from an attendee at WordCamp Buffalo a few years ago, and I copied it.

MacBook Pro with WordPress logo and only one sticker.

And now a new era begins with my new pretty. As you can see, it’s been christened with a Jiminy Peak sticker. I need to add a backup of my superpower sticker I have, and at least one Jupiter sticker. And a card holder. If all goes as planned, there will be another Utah sticker and a Panama one within a couple of months as well. So exciting.

I know I have worked with some of you readers. Those interactions, and times spent enjoying time reading the work of all of you I follow are also treasures tied into this technology. Everyday gifts that make the world a better place. I thank you for that.

**For the month of November each year, I try to focus on something I’m thankful for each day. It is the month that holds Thanksgiving where I live, after all. Focusing on the positive and remembering the little things that make life great are things I should do more often. Last year I found that writing every day during the holiday time got a bit stressful. So this year I’m writing throughout the year and scheduling the posts to go out in November.

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.

 

Customer Support Users who Leave Feedback

Day 6/30 – Today I’m thankful for people who not only use customer support, but also leave feedback.

I work at Automattic, Inc., the company behind WordPress.com, and I mostly work on helping people with the mobile app. It’s completely awesome working together with people who use our product, and I especially appreciate it when people offer feedback on how I supported them (using a feedback tool after each issue is closed)

It’s not always pleasant, I’m not going to lie. Sometimes the one-star reviews are really tough to take. But they help me become better at my job (and often make me a better person since they remind me to be kinder, or to be a better communicator, or a better researcher, etc.).

On the flip side, it’s super sweet to read those 5-star reviews with feedback. How often do I contact someone for support, get my answers from them then move on? Not cool. These people show me that.

Not only do their responses to my help feel good, but they remind me to always work to keep those strong areas strong. (And now I always try to do follow-up surveys when I ask for support with other products.)

So, yes, today I’m super thankful for all customer support users who leave feedback.

  • * 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.

Fortune Cookie

fortune-cookie

It’s impossible to be perfect. And this fortune cookie note I got reminded me that it’s okay. How reassuring is that message? My immediate reaction was “Hey, this is how I want to be for others” in my role as a Happiness Engineer. Then I remembered that since it was my fortune cookie, this was about me. And I realized that the statement is plain old true. It has been true in the past, is true in my present, and odds are high that it will be true in my future. This makes me feel really fortunate. And it makes me think about the importance of helping people in general.

My job, my marriage and my family are all arenas in which I feel particularly blessed. And this fortune philosophy is a main contributor to why my life is so awesome.

Work? WordPress is a seriously powerful program. Every day I help people with networking issues, SEO, site building, writing-sharing, advertising, account changes, etc. I know a lot and do not feel as if I’m not qualified for my job. That said, I sometimes find myself facing situations in which I don’t have an answer. Every day I’m learning more. But I never feel isolated or backed into a corner where I can’t be helpful thanks to my co-workers.

We all have experience in different arenas. If I have a question about analytics or MX records, then a ping to a co-worker will bring someone with experience in those fields to help me (and I help them where I am strong). No judgement from anyone. Just helpful attitudes (and I’m over two years into this job, so I’m not being idealistic. That’s just the beautiful reality of my work environment). Together, we provide answers to those who come to us for help.

I can help because I am helped.

Family? Again, every family member has a strength, and we work together to create good as a unit. I think back especially to the years I was bed-ridden (rough pregnancies and a few surgeries that laid me flat for long periods of time). My in-laws moved in to help us with parenting and household maintenance (as did my friends and members of our church, who provided meals and childcare until my in-laws arrived). We ran a daycare back then, and my husband became licensed so he could cover for me when I was down. My children were young, but they pitched in to help where they could. This made my healing happen faster, and when I was back on my feet, life was manageable, and I didn’t have to deal with the chaos of backlogged tasks.

Again, I could help others (eventually, after I healed) because others helped me.

Marriage? If anyone knows every single weakness I have, it’s my man. But I am very fortunate in the fact that instead of using those weaknesses to knock me down, Chris takes his own strengths to help me grow in those areas if I’m capable. Or to cover for me if I’m not capable. I try to do the same for him.

So there it is. My fortune reminding me of how fortunate I am. I hope I always remember that and reciprocate.

Customer Service and Life Tips

Those of you in my arena know there is no other way of saying this. I have the best job in the world. For me. I have the honor of providing tech support to WordPress users around the world. And I have an amazing company behind me (Automattic) that understands that the way to provide the best support is to provide support for the supporters.

Support gets tough sometimes. Like today. My brain just wasn’t up to par. My heart wanted to help people, but my brain wasn’t spinning at warp speed, and I was out of sorts.

I know why.

In the past two days I was informed that one young person in my world-circle had an untimely, unexpected death, and another person who is greatly loved, was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

And I received a message about some unsettling behavior from others close to me. Behavior that dredged up a lot of past hurt and unfairness, making me want to retaliate, even though I knew that wasn’t the answer.

Bottom line? I was plain ol’ distracted, even while trying to focus.

I usually am very patient and have a knack for empathy. Today I was lacking in both. Really not cool for customer support. It was unsettling, and I felt like a failure.

But guess what?

My team had my back.

And my faith gave me support. By the end of the day, I was all right (and I even helped some people in the meantime).

How did this happen? By having caring people in my life.

When I was stuck (even on simple issues), my teammates backed me up, offering helpful answers and tips to help the people I was helping. And they never ridiculed me or made me feel sub-par. When I commented on the tough day I was having, they responded with cyber hugs and cyber coffee 🙂 (We work in places all around the world so it’s all cyber). No judgement at all.

This is an amazing thing in the work force, I am finding. In a world where the underdog is crushed, it’s incredible to find a space where everyone’s goal is to be kind and helpful. Amazing. And inspirational. I certainly hope I give that help to others.

While I never reached top-notch performance in the day, I was able to move on and provide quality support thanks to my knowledge that I had a team behind me.

I found out that one of the more difficult people I was dealing with today was really not mad at me personally. They were frustrated because of a work situation they were in. I really struggled to be patient with them as they swore at me through an issue they were having, and after we fixed their issue, they stayed on the chat line, venting to me about the pressure they were under. Thanks to my co-workers, I was able to have the patience and empathy to listen and support.

Because really, while we love WordPress and support it, the bottom line is that we care about the people who use it even more than the product itself. Thanks to my team and their support, I was able to dredge up the patience and understanding to convey that, even on a tough day.

When the work day ended, and the realities of life one again hit my brain, I went to my ultimate source of comfort. A daily devotional with Bible passages. Coincidentally, today’s section of reading was one of my absolute favorites, and it ties in with dealing with the harsh realities of life as well as customer service. Great stuff.

I have this color coded passage hanging on my wall at home. It’s from Galations 6 in the Holy Bible. I use the version called The Message:

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 7.37.29 PM

  • As always, thanks for helping me keep my sanity is also due to my greatest friend –my husband, Chris, who is always there to listen to me vent, remind me of passages like the one above, and point me back to the path of helping others when I go astray.