It’s my two year anniversary with Automattic and I’m in disbelief. How has it been two years? My life has radically transformed in many ways since starting work at Automattic. I went from feeling like an out of place psychology major thrown into the tech world unaware of what I got myself into to a confident and productive team lead who is endlessly learning about myself and the world around me.
Automattic has given me financial independence, control over my time, the ability to see the world, a place at the table, trust to lead two separate teams, a voice in important conversations, resources to run with numerous passion projects, access to world class events, and the luxury of seeing those I love no matter where they are.
I hinted about this freedom in a recent post on Facebook:
I’ve been able to go to multiple weddings this past year, reunite with family members on both sides of my family, and connect with new family members. It’s been fabulous to build on these connections and to have a job that doesn’t get in the way of what truly matters whether that’s seeing the world, getting a long workout in, reading a fabulous book, sleeping in, writing too many postcards, or being there to give my grandma a hug.
My favorite part of all of this?! I’ve been able to explore new cities with old friends (DC, Seattle, Austin, Denver, San Diego). I took my mom on a month long trip through Europe – Automattic made that possible. The fjords, the opera, the countless museums – I work for a company that lets me dig in deep into my work and into my life whether that means nomading for a year and a half or starting a brand new venture in the company. To have this level of trust and access to some of the world’s best coworkers is unbelievable at my age (or any age). I can’t get enough of it. I don’t take any of it for granted as I know how truly rare this is.
The last two years have been spent pushing the boundaries of who I am both personally and professionally. A year ago, I was asked if I wanted to step in as a team lead. I was shocked and terrified so of course that meant I had to say “yes”. Over this past year, I’ve grown into the role and have learned more than I can explain about leadership as I’ve been apply to actually apply values that I hold dear. This role has let me find my voice and my mindset as a leader. I have SO much more to learn and I’m committed to learning whether that’s as a lead or as my main role as a happiness engineer.
The more time I spend in the tech world, the more I realize the deep moral responsibility we have. I’ve read numerous books critiquing the tech world and one aspect that’s been discussed is how we’ve made those who understand technology into demigods of sorts. People oooh and ahhh when they hear I work in tech. They immediately downplay their own knowledge and, almost in a way that is reminiscent to learned helplessness, they accept the technological solutions we offer them. Those of us who are helping shape these technologies are given more trust than we may deserve because we have a level of access/knowledge that I’ve seen folks give up on understanding. If I’ve learned anything in the last 2 years, it’s that we must not take this responsibility lightly and everyday we need to work on being more inclusive in our solutions. There are very real consequences to the work we do and we get to decide if we want to do the hard work to make the best decision. We desperately need diversity in technology if we are going to accomplish this and it’s on each of us to fight the good fight.
Finally, I’ve learned how important having a “why” is in all that we do. Whether it’s leading a team, understanding a product decision, pushing a low performing coworker to be better, creating a vision for the next quarter, responding to a user about a bug not being fixed, or starting a new project. Having a deep sense and understanding of the “why” behind what I do in my work and communicating that to others is invaluable. The same applies to life – we need to have those stories and sets of reasoning to know where we are in the process. We need to be able to place ourselves and to see both our part in the overarching puzzle and what the picture it is we’re creating with every puzzle piece around us.
This puzzle analogy is apt for my two year mark here – I know where I fit at Automattic and I’m starting to see where I fit in the world as I see more of it. The firmer grasp I have on both of these aspects, the more ways I know how to make what’s happening around me better and to leave myself open to being made better too. It’s a beautiful balance beam of a time and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.
I’m probably more fiercely passionate about my work than when I started and I didn’t think that would be possible. I’ve always been told to slow down since I got to Automattic (marathon not a sprint!) but the passion within me drives me on and on. If anything, it’s grown since I got here and realized all the directions I could go in with the work I do. Having coworkers who care deeply only motivates me more as I realize I’m not alone in my pursuits and there’s always someone out there happy to help me on my way.
To close, I want to extend a warm “thank you” to the people I work with and who consistently push me to be better in all aspects of my life. It’s an honor to work with you all in such a thoughtful environment. Here’s to many more years.