Related to anyone famous?

My wife just shared this cool site with me:

If you’ve done any genealogy at all, you can authorize this app to go in, index your family tree, and look for famous people who you’re related to. One such discovery that I made was that I am a direct descendant of Martin Luther. He’s my 13th Great Grandfather Here’s the lineage between us:

How painful is your app?

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to the Tim Ferris podcast. His guest during this episode was Tony Robbins.

A funny side note: I typically listen to podcasts at 2x speed, but I had to slow this episode down, due to the rate at which Tony speaks. Another confession: I’ve always dismissed Tony as a bit of a self help snake oil salesman. I feel bad for judging him. Turns out, he’s actually a pretty amazing individual.

As a result of this interview, I decided to read his book, “Awaken the Giant Within“. I don’t typically read self help books, but I have to say that I really enjoyed this book.

One of the underlying premises in this book is that all of our actions are ultimately driven by either:

  • A) how painful something is, or
  • B) how pleasurable something is

The goal of the book is to get individuals to change their behaviors. That said, it actually got me thinking about how these same principles apply to web and mobile applications. One line in the book stood out in particular:

Link pleasure to any behavior you want someone to repeat.

With this as a filter, it’s interesting to think about which apps you use repeatedly, and why. What have those apps done to create pleasure for you?

If you have an app of your own, it’s also interesting to think about how painful, or pleasurable of an experience you’ve created for your users, especially within your onboarding experience.

Questions to consider

  • When is the last time you did a pain/pleasure audit on your app?
  • What specific things create the most pleasure for your users?
  • How long does it take for a new user to find pleasure in your app?
  • What can you do to reduce the painful elements in your app and in your new user experience (NUX) flow?
  • Are there things you can do to make pleasure more immediate? How might you reduce the time to pleasure (TTP) in your NUX? Could you reduce your NUX TTP from minutes to a matter of seconds?

My Dream Job

I work out of a 10×12 ft room in my backyard.

I wouldn’t change it for anything.

It’s my dream job.

Reflecting on how blessed I am

A couple of things this month have caused me to pause and reflect on how fortunate I feel to be able to work at Automattic.

First, my sister Lisa asked to interview me for her local college paper.

Second, Matt shared that Automattic just celebrated it’s tenth birthday.

Third, was a random thought tweeted by @bryce which turned into an epic thread. Bryce asked:

what message does early stage startup culture send to parents with kids? honest question for those wearing both hats.

This last one stood out the most. Mind you, it’s been a long time since Automattic was considered an early stage startup, but reading through that thread sort of re-confirmed that what we have at Automattic is something that’s unique, and special.

What makes Automattic so unique?

Before Automattic, I had never stayed at a job for more than 2 years. In September, I will have been at Automattic for 5 years.

I thought I might take a few minutes and share a list of the reasons why Automattic continues to shine (at least in my eyes) as an amazing place to work.

Our mission – (and the mission of WordPress core) is to “democratize publishing”. WordPress now hosts 24.1% of all websites on the Internet. That’s a sizable dent, but to be honest, we’ve only just started…
Our values – our company creed and designers creed though short, speak volumes about the types of things we care about.
I get to work with wicked smart people from around the globe.
We believe strongly in open source, which means a great deal to me personally.
We care about our users. No matter which role you’re hired for, your first 3 weeks at Automattic are spend doing support (a happiness rotation as we call it). Teams are also encouraged to continue to do 1 week happiness rotations once a year.
Our company is 100% distributed. We all work from wherever we live. I’m able to work out of a small town in North Carolina vs. needing to relocate to the Bay area just for a job.
I get to work from home. That picture of the shed-looking building at the top of this post is the backyard office I work out of most days. I’m able to work from home, and make my own hours.
Automattic trusts us to get the job done. I don’t clock in or out. If my daughter has a swim practice during the day, I can take her. I don’t have to ask anyone, or clear it with anyone, I just go. No one keeps track of the hours I’m online or off. All that matters is output.
– We’re paid a good salary.
– My family is expecting our third child any day now. As such, I’m about to head on paternity leave. At Automattic we are encouraged to take the time that we need for both Maternity and Paternity. That’s our official policy. No questions asked. I plan to take 4-5 weeks. Some people take 12 weeks. Some people take less. Some people take more. If you’ve been with Automattic for 12 months, your leave is fully paid.
– We have an open vacation policy. If I want time off, I take it. Again, fully paid, no questions asked.
We cover all costs of company travel. We all get together once a year for a Grand meetup. Then throughout the year, each team is encouraged to pick a location and meet together in person for a week. Earlier this month I was in Copenhagen with half of our designers. Last month I was in Atlanta with the other half.
– We have a generous home office setup stipend
– We have a monthly co-working allowance (if working from home is not your thing).
– You can replace your work machine once every 18-24 months.
Devices, hardware, and software are all 100% paid for.
– We have company-sponsored life insurance.
– You can snag a WordPress branded laptop at your four-year anniversary (Yes, the WP logo actually replaces the Apple logo!)
– Every 5 years we’re encouraged to take a 2-3 month paid sabbatical.
– We’re encouraged to swap around to different teams. In the ~5 years I’ve been here I’ve been on 6 different teams. Some people choose to stick to a team a lot longer. It’s almost entirely driven by you.
– We’re encouraged to continue learning by attending conferences, and by purchasing books, and can expense every bit of it.
– We have access to unlimited WP swag, more than most of us know what to do with.
– When you first become an Automattician, you get a free Timbuk2 bag of your choice with a WP logo embroidered on the back.
– Other benefits which are country-specific include health, vision, and dental insurance; matching retirement/pension contributions; childcare vouchers; income protection, and travel insurance.

I’m sure there are more, but I’ll stop there…

Needless to say, I love my job. I feel blessed to work for such a generous and trusting company who’s mission is to legitimately change the world by further democratizing publishing. Each day I’m grateful to work with such brilliant, and amazing co-workers. The way that we run the business (with a focus on long-term impact over short term gains) is something that I admire and respect. We’re not in this to sell out, or to cash out in a quick IPO. We’re in this together to try and make a dent in the world, so far a pretty sizable one. In the end, I can say without a doubt that after 5 years, I’m still really proud to call myself an Automattician, and that Automattic is still my dream job.