What I don’t like about department-based marketing is the belief that the only people who can send the messages about what the products are, who the company is, and what they believe in are the people in the marketing department. That’s the way I see most companies today operating. In reality, it’s everybody, every single person. The customer service department has some of the most important marketing people, but they’re not traditionally in the marketing department. Their impact is marginalized, when actually they have a huge impact. I don’t mean to say we’re perfect at this, but everything we do considers the overall impression we make on our customers to be our marketing. We want all our employees to worry about that.
I’m part of this crew now. :)
Yesterday was my first day as a full-time employee of Automattic.
This is extremely exciting for me.
I have been creating and working with Web stuff ever since I first learned about it back in high school. In the mid-90′s, I bought a book, taught myself HTML, and not long after created my first ugly, colored-text-on-black, graphics-heavy, completely unusable Web site on AOL—using TeachText. (It didn’t last long.) Web coding and standards became an important hobby factor in my life all through college and beyond, and even helped pay the bills on occasion.
I started blogging in college, first rolling my own system in ASP (with the help of my roommate and best friend) and later using young services like LiveJournal and then graduating to hosting my own, hopping from software to software for a while. I remember what WordPress was like without themes and plugins. I first started using WordPress for my personal Web site “full-time” in 2003, and have been following its development and using it ever since. I’ve developed Web sites for other people using WordPress. I’ve helped lots of others set up their blogs and learn how to publish for themselves using WordPress.
In short, WordPress has been a big part of my life for years now.
In my last job, I created some learning materials for other employees and for customers, including documentation and a few tutorial videos. I’ve long advocated the use of the Internet—and specifically the WordPress platform—as a tool for building Web sites that serve a community of users and help them to get the most out of the tools and software they are using.
It was only natural upon hearing about the position of Reel Wrangler that submitted my name for consideration and hoped for the best. That was nearly eight months ago.
Days later, I was speaking on the phone with Michael Pick about the job and why I was interested in it. I remember that I had a hard time reserving my enthusiasm. A couple of months later, I began working in the evenings and on the weekends, helping to collect, organize, and publish videos from users and WordCamps around the world on WordPress.tv. That work has been great. I’ve met a lot of really interesting people, seen a lot of great WordCamp sessions as part of the review process, helped a bunch of WordPress users, and have come to know my coworkers at Automattic and learn what it’s like to work with the team. The “trial” of contract work was really fun and the company and I learned whether we were right for each other.
Thankfully, the answer was “yes,” and so on my 30th birthday, I signed an offer for full-time work. Automattic is a “distributed” company, which means that we all work from home and are located all around the world. I’ll be working as a Happiness Engineer; half of the time I will be focusing my efforts on customer care for WordPress.com and other services, and the other half of the time I will be continuing to update and improve WordPress.tv as a visual resource for WordPress.
It’s an interesting change to working from home and being disciplined enough to do that around my four children, but I’m looking forward to the experience and being part of something really, really cool. I have grown to believe in the power and importance of open source software, and to be working with a group of people who live with that kind of ethos is an awesome thing. My fellow Automatticians are a diverse, unique, fun, and supremely intelligent bunch of people and I am fortunate to be working with them.
So yes, it’s been an eventful couple of weeks, and I’m excited to be starting this adventure. I’m sure you’ll hear more.
As you read this, I have recently walked out of Concordia Publishing House for the last time as a full-time employee. Next week, I move on to another adventure.
I have not made this decision easily or lightly, but at the call of an absolutely extraordinary opportunity, I have decided that this is the best choice to make for me and for my family.
As I leave, I realize that CPH has occupied a unique place in my life. Only four years ago, I was searching for a job and worried that I would not be able to adequately support my family. After my plans for a career fell through, CPH became a safe harbor, bringing me on to an amazing project that engaged both my personal and professional pursuits.
For this, I offer my sincere thanks and appreciation to my managers, who hired one very rough-edged guy just out of grad school and gave me an opportunity to teach and engage a customer base in a new way of doing things—then made me a part of bringing a traditional publishing company into the future. I appreciate your support and guidance over the last four years.
Concordia has also provided room for me to grow, mature, and find and create new friendships with a team of colleagues both dedicated in spirit and extraordinary in talent. There are too many to mention here by name, but I want to especially thank my dear friends Bob and Peter for honest words, long lunches, and (when needed) mutual consolation as well as celebration.
To those whom I have served in various ways throughout the last four years, I thank you for the opportunity and hope that you will continue to be loyal and satisfied customers of Concordia Publishing House.
Leaving a vocation is never easy, nor is it comfortable. Today, I carry a measure of sadness at my departure mixed with a wonder and anticipation for the change in my life that is to come.
It’s going to be one strange drive home.
Work is work, and we must do what we must do. But when quality matters most, the old saw about “good or fast—choose one,” holds true. Pushing through to the finish line when you have nothing left inside you is great for marathon runners, but not so hot for creative professionals. In particular, if you’re trying to write clearly and well, it’s better to let a deadline slide by a day than to “just finish up.”
There are points of diminishing returns when dealing with creative work. The point is well taken.
Gary Hamel on managing what he terms the “Facebook generation” (I’m abridging the list to remove his explanations, so you would do well to read the whole article):
I compiled a list of 12 work-relevant characteristics of online life. These are the post-bureaucratic realities that tomorrow’s employees will use as yardsticks in determining whether your company is “with it” or “past it.”
- All ideas compete on an equal footing.
- Contribution counts for more than credentials.
- Hierarchies are natural, not prescribed.
- Leaders serve rather than preside.
- Tasks are chosen, not assigned.
- Groups are self-defining and -organizing.
- Resources get attracted, not allocated.
- Power comes from sharing information, not hoarding it.
- Opinions compound and decisions are peer-reviewed.
- Users can veto most policy decisions.
- Intrinsic rewards matter most.
- Hackers are heroes.
These features of Web-based life are written into the social DNA of Generation F—and mostly missing from the managerial DNA of the average Fortune 500 company. Yeah, there are a lot of kids looking for jobs right now, but few of them will ever feel at home in cubicleland.
The generation gap between the Boomers and Generation Y/Me/F/whatever-you-want-to-call-them is going to be a big battleground in the business world over the next few years, if it hasn’t already begun. These are two groups with vastly different expectations of what it means to be part of something.