Four years with Automattic

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve found my home. I’m surrounded by people who inspire me, keep me grounded, challenge me, and allow me to be myself. I’m at ease knowing that wherever I land in the world, there’s someone that I can call on.

Today I’ve reached four years with Automattic, which isn’t something that I ever thought that I’d be able to say. I’m still humbled by the opportunity to be here, and amazed by the life that it’s granted me. While work isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, it’s a part of me. Part of my identity. A part that I’m proud of.

I’ve seen a lot of personal growth over the years, which has brought me to leading an international team that spans from Los Angeles to Prague and every timezone in between. I helped to lead WordCamp US through two incredible years, and will continue to work with the new organizing team. I’ve been given countless opportunities to grow and expand myself, and I’m forever grateful.

I’ve seen more of the world than I ever thought possible. Since last March, I’ve been to Sevilla, San Antonio, Vienna, New York, Dublin, Vancouver, Orlando, Iceland, and Las Vegas. Since I started, I’ve traveled 154,967 miles to 43 cities in 13 countries. I’ve been away from home for 274 days. I’ve done everything from hike up an active volcano to riding a motorcycle to the Valley of Fire. Travel, like my work, opens me up in ways that I didn’t know existed and I’m incredibly excited to be able to make more memories.

I’ve built lifelong friendships and achieved lifelong goals with Automattic. And while I know that I will continue to grow and expand myself, I consider myself extremely lucky to have been able to experience all that I have.

In the next year I’d like to take my team to the next level and kill it, 100%. I’d like to grow more and be more open. I’d like to take a look at my weaknesses and make them stronger. I’d like to surprise myself more often, and share in the excitement of watching the company grow. I’d like to be a part of that growth.

Thanks for sticking with me, Automattic. I’m happy to have you along for the ride and I’m glad that we found each other.

My Name is Alx Blog

Like many of my co-workers, I have a brand new and shiny domain: alx.blog. I giggle each time I read it because Alx Block and Alx Blog sound so similar, and I can just imagine the conversations that I have when I tell people where to find me online.

This domain comes at a good time for me. I’ve been burnt on writing for a while because I didn’t want this site to be all about grief, and it’s felt hard for quite some time to write about anything else. Instead of forcing myself to publish, I just sat back and let this site get stale. But that’s lame. I know that’s lame. I need to find it in me to change that, and starting a new year with a new domain is as good of a time as any.

Three years with Automattic

Today marks three years working with Automattic, and I still pinch myself every day. I’ve landed in a place where I can be myself, work hard, and constantly be inspired by those around me.

My coworkers hold me up, and hold me accountable. They push me and make me want to be better at everything that I do. I’ve surrounded myself with people who are smarter than me, and its paid off in dividends. Life at Automattic is about moving forward; and not just in the professional sense. I’ve grown so much in my three years here, that it’s sometimes hard to imagine who I was before. What a wonderful adventure this life is.

I’ve accomplished a lot over this past year – not without help – but I’m super-proud of what I have done, and am really excited to see what comes next.

I was the co-lead organizer of WordCamp US, which was just the most amazing experience. Philadelphia really shined, and it was an incredible feeling to be so woven into the fabric of the WordPress community. December 5th was even declared to be WordPress Day, which makes me incredibly proud. We’ll be back here again this year, and I’m really excited about what’s in store.

I traveled quite a bit since last March: New Orleans, Dallas, Sevilla (and other parts of Spain), Amsterdam, New York, Park City, Phoenix, London, Lisbon, Las Vegas, and I’m getting ready for a few more incredible memories. All told, I’ve traveled 112,800 miles since I’ve started. This includes 34 cities in 10 different countries. I’ve been away from home for 184 days.

I’ve become the lead of my own team, which is an amazing experience. Leading a distributed team takes time and practice, and the group that I work with is the best of the best. They make it incredibly easy on me, and I’m lucky to serve them as best I can. I’ve found myself with an incredible group of passionate and talented people, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I’d be lost without them.

After three years, my job has changed quite a bit. It has evolved with me, and is ever-changing. This works incredibly well, and I’ve never once felt bored or unappreciated.

The only word that I have to express my feeling here is gratitude. I’m eternally grateful to Automattic and its people for helping to shape me. For being there for me, and pushing me to do my best work. I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of such a amazing group who makes me laugh, think, cry with empathy, and feel like I’m part of something big. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. These are my people. I’m home; and I couldn’t be more grateful for where I’ve landed.

 

Two years with Automattic

Two years ago, today, I started the current adventure of my life. I found a work community that appreciates who I am and the work that I do. I found friends that hold me up, and push me to be better on a daily basis. I found home.

In the last year, I’ve seen quite a few changes in both my life and my work.

I now help to lead our Store Team, and do less user-centric support. I harmonize happiness for 35 incredibly talented, driven, and passionate people. These people keep me up at night thinking about all that is possible. They drive me to push harder and be the best that I can be. These are the people that make the world go round, and I’m so lucky to be of service to them.

I lost the person who understood me most. Automattic held me up and allowed me to take the time that I needed to process and move myself forward. I would be in a very different place if it weren’t for this support. I’m eternally grateful for those who stood by me, and made this life transition as smooth as it could have been.

I started walking. After years of sitting all day, Automattic purchased a tread-desk for me. I now walk about 6 miles each and every workday. I have more energy. More focus. More happiness. Walking every day fixes something that was broken for way too long.

I’ve started to give back more to the community. I became one of the organizers of the Philly WordPress Meetup, and of WordCamp Philly. I’m excited to give back, even a little bit, to the community that has given me so much in life. I’m excited to continue to learn.

I traveled quite a bit to meet my coworkers. Italy, Kauai, New York, New Orleans, Mexico, Charleston, and Park City. In the two years since I’ve been here, I’ve traveled close to 68,000 miles to 26 cities in 7 countries. What an incredible gift.

There are more words than I can possibly write about the gratitude that I feel towards the company that I call home. I have a true sense of community and ownership. I have a true sense of belonging, and I’m just as passionate as the day that I started. I’ve grown up at Automattic and have learned more about myself than I ever thought possible.

Thanks for the amazing two years. Here’s to many more laughs, ah-ha moments, forward movement, late nights, and making the web a better place. Here’s to the future.

My office

Here’s a really nice view of the office that I work from every day.

Or take a look at the full version.

WordCamp Philly

Yesterday I had the honor of speaking at WordCamp Philly. What an amazing event in an incredible community.

The whole place was alive and there was so much learning happening around every corner.

My presentation was WordPress for Non-profits: For when your Operations Manager is also your Webmaster. Here are the slides from that presentation:

One year with Automattic

It’s hard not to be passionate about the work that I do. We’re making the web a better place by giving the world a voice. We’re pioneers in an ever-changing world. It’s a marathon and I’m just so proud to be on the team.

One year ago today I started a new adventure and haven’t looked back. I’m forever changed by the decision to move towards happiness. The truth is that the years working on my own were tough. I had a ton of fun and learned more than I ever thought possible, but there was a tipping point. For the last year of being a business owner, I spent more time running my business than I did doing the actual work. I love doing the work.

Working with Automattic fixes this for me. I feel like I own something; like I make a difference. I get to work as hard as I like to work and I don’t have to worry about how the insurance is going to get paid. At Automattic we’re trusted to be ourselves. We’re trusted to be the best. To be thoughtful, passionate, hard-working, quick on our feet, and to learn all that we can. We’re empowered to do what we think is right. We’re human. We’re making a difference.

I work with some of the most talented people in the world. I’m inspired every day to be better at what I do and I’m completely humbled by the company that I keep.

I’ve found my home. This is my element.

Every day working with WordPress.com users is like opening a present. It’s true that it isn’t work if you love what you do. I get paid to do the hobby that I’m most passionate about and I get to do it in style.

It would be an understatement to say that I’m looking forward to what the future brings. I’m beyond excited about where we’re going and how we’re getting there. I’m ecstatic to be a part of it. Thank you, Automattic, for putting your faith in me and allowing me to put my faith in you. We make a good team. 🙂

I’ve moved to WordPress.com

So this is my first post on WordPress.com. It feels a little odd to admit that although I’ve been a WordPress user for at least 7 years, I’ve never tried my hand at using WordPress.com.

The move here isn’t surprising to me. I’ve been supporting WordPress.com users for the better part of a year, and have been thinking for a while that I should give it a try. Curiously, it isn’t my proximity to the system that spurred the change, rather, it was because WordPress.com rocks and I felt like I was being left out of the cool kids club.

So this begins the grand experiment to use WordPress.com as a user for the first time. I’m hoping that it really helps me to empathize and connect to our users in a way that I haven’t previously done.

Support is Sexy

Since I began my job in March, I’ve had a hard time calling myself support. It isn’t that I don’t feel like support is an honorable job, because it is. It’s more that I feel like I do so much more than support our users. I do everything from training our new employees, to creating and editing both internal and external documentation, and even what amounts to business consulting over live-chat to help some of our users build the best web presence that they can have. Something about using the word support has always felt a little. . . a little less than what I do.

Maybe it’s a personal hang-up, but I’ve been the Director of Sales and Marketing for various organizations and a successful business owner. I never once thought of what I did as support. I trained support. I helped support do their job. I’ve just never really thought of what I did as support, until last weekend.

On October 18th, I attended a conference called UserConf, which has really changed the way that I see myself and what I do. This was a conference for a new breed of support. The modern breed of kick-ass, hard-working, super-smart, super-dedicated, and amazing support. These are the people that take start-ups and make them trustworthy. These are the people that you reach on the other end of the line, or email, or chat box, or twitter. These are the people writing the documentation to use their products. They are recording the videos, driving the product with suggestions, and helping you (with complete empathy) to change the world one pixel at a time. These are my people.

UserConf was more about the how of support and less about the why, with the exception of one presentation by Rich White of UserVoice. Rich touched on how acquiring users is no longer the road to success. It’s retaining users, and growing them, that holds the key. It’s showing real people that you are real. That you are trustworthy, helpful, empathetic, passionate, and in control. The only way that your start-up will set itself ahead of the pack is by providing the best customer experience. Loyalty drives us, and without support, we are nothing.

All of this is to say that I’m mighty proud of what I do. Just because I couldn’t previously accept the word support for what it is, doesn’t mean that I don’t identify as support. This word has taken on new meaning for me, and it’s a positive switch.

I’m passionate about helping WordPress.com users be the best that they can be. I’m proud to be a Happiness Engineer. I’m proud to call myself support.