I just got back from a whirlwind 8 days in Orlando for our annual company Grand Meetup – my second one since joining Automattic as a Happiness Engineer in 2018. Much like the first year, it did not disappoint.
Automattic is a globally distributed company, meaning we have no central office, and all work from home (or coffee shops, coworking space, air bnbs…) from all over the world. So the GM is our once-a-year opportunity to gather together in person with everyone! (or at least everyone that can make it). This means 808 of us shacked up in the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace for jam-packed days of keynote speakers, classes, team meetings, division meetings, so much eating, lazy river floating, dancing, open micing, gaming, and a million other fabulous things that happen spontaneously when you’re gathered with brilliant, talented, generous, hilarious, genuine people.
As last year was my first GM, my main goal was to take it all in. This year, I wanted to be a more active participant in creating the magic. What I admire most about the GM is how much we all do, voluntarily, to contribute our talents and passions to the mix to make this event so much more than a work conference and very much an epic experience.
Some personal highlights and accomplishments…
Leading a morning yoga class
Our days are intense and the evenings are fun-filled, so sleep is a rarity. I was amazed to see about 20 of my colleagues make it to their mats at 7am on the pool lawn to join me in a gentle flow. I haven’t taught a group class in over 5 years, but it all came back very naturally and these proved to be my most precious mornings.
Spending QT with Team Beaker
All times with team Beaker are good times. Thankfully, we get to see each other twice a year (the GM and our team meetup). Though the vast majority of our interaction takes place over Slack, we’ve grown very attached to each other making our in-person meetings extra special. During our team time this year, I led the group through an intro-speech activity I recently learned in Toastmasters, and it was a hit! We laughed uproariously and learned many random facts about each other.
Gathering with the G Suite Guild
Several months ago I started leading the G Suite Guild, which I now co-lead with my colleague Yuki. Over that time our guild has welcomed new members, launched G Suite University, and collaborated closely with developers to improve the experience of our G Suite offering. We do this all over Slack without ever holding formal meetings, so it was extra special to come together as a group from the US, India, Nigeria, Japan, and France, and share our successes and challenges.
Teaching a GM class on wellness
Since joining Automattic as a Happiness Engineer, I’ve found opportunities to share my passion for wellness with my colleagues. At the GM I was so excited to teach a class called Feel Your Best in a Distributed Work Environment. Working from home presents its own unique challenges to staying on top of your wellness game, and this class aimed to help folks prioritize what gives them the most joy and positive energy.
Glitter bombing the closing party
The theme of the closing party was Festival. For me that meant a blend of Coachella and Mardi Gras, so I donned my pink wig, cat ears, feather boa, and loads of gold glitter. Best of all, I came to the party equipped with said glitter in my sequined fanny pack and decorated anyone’s face that was willing, including our esteemed CEO Matt Mullenweg. Many of my colleagues are extremely talented musicians and bless us with their gift of music. I don’t have that particular gift, so it was a treat to bring some sparkle to the party in my own unique way.
Connecting with beautiful humans
Above and beyond any professional accomplishments, by far the best aspect of the GM is connecting with my precious colleagues whom I’m honored to call my friends. Even as our company continues to expand, we manage to bring together an exceptional group of humans in a culture of fun, creativity, and deep connection.