Open Vacation Policy

The first benefit that’s highlighted on Automattic’s Work With Us page:

Open vacation policy (no set number of days per year). We encourage all employees to take the time they need for vacation, to pursue their own interests, to stay healthy, and to spend time with friends and family.

Since working at WooThemes and now Automattic, I’ve never worked for a company that cared more about the personal well-being of their employee’s than at WooThemes and Automattic.

Typically on Labor Day, employee’s in the US have off. For us at Automattic, it’s completely optional. I prefer this. I can take off on days that are important to me rather than a holiday that I’d sit around playing video games all day anyway. It’s important to me that days off are days that are productive in some way and not taking off for the sake of just having the day off.

I choose to rarely take off on US holidays and instead save those days for days that are important to me and my family. This allows for greater flexibility and planning around travel and family visits. I can avoid the high costs of travel around the holiday and instead take time off when it’s convenient for me.

Due to the flexibility of vacation time and remote work, sometimes I work even while I’m on vacation and on weekends but there’s no pressure nor is it expected to work on those days. I just do it because I want to.

VR is the Future

I pre-ordered an Oculus Rift for $600 and I’m incredibly excited.

I pre-ordered an Oculus Rift for $600 and I’m incredibly excited. I watched the countdown tick on January 6th to 8am PT as I hit F5 often. As I ordered my Rift, I took a step back and realized I’m witnessing history. It sounds melodramatic but I think it’s true. I just pre-ordered the first consumer ready virtual reality that will hit mass market and change technology forever.

If you’ve never tried VR, please try it. Go to a friends house that has an Oculus Rift DK2 or HTC Vive. By April (after release of Rift and Vive) there’s going to be a lot more devices out there and a better chance of you finding a friend that has one.

With VR we’re going to be connected in ways you never could have imaged seeing in your lifetime. It’ll change gaming forever but more importantly, our everyday lives. You’ll be able to virtually attend school from anywhere in the world, virtually time travel to any major event in history and see what it was like, virtually transport yourself to a hangout among other friends while watching Netflix on a giant movie screen personally made for you and your friends, co-work with your coworkers in a virtual office space. Once you try on VR, your imagination will explode with ideas on all the different use cases this could be good for.

To prepare for this amazing future, I’ve been very involved in the VR community locally and online for a long time. I’m learning Unreal Engine and Unity Engine to create my own worlds and have experimented with WebVR for a virtual web. I really enjoy all things VR and can’t wait to see where this all leads us.

Releasing Photos under Public Domain

I will be releasing photos from my travels as Public Domain (CC0).

I will be releasing photos from my travels as Public Domain (CC0).

This will waive all copyrights related to my photos. Everyone will be free to use these photos for any purpose without attribution.

I have thousands of photos that have never been published online from my many years of travel. They are being stored locally on my computer with no other purpose other than to look back on my own memories. I want to everyone to be able to use them and share them.

I feel giving everyone access to my travel photos will help teach everyone more about the world.

I will be somewhat selective in which photos get published as CC0 to avoid publishing photos of myself so I don’t see myself in a random ad. There is a possibility the photos could be used for purposes I don’t agree with but I know it will be used for more good than bad.

This will be a monumental task of correctly giving a title, description, and tag to every photo. I’ll be releasing photos in batches as I edit them.

All CC0 will be released via Flickr. The reason is because I find Flickr to be the easiest and most popular to tool to find Creative Commons and Public Domain photos. Follow my Flickr account and more photos will be published over time.

WordCamp Milwaukee: Creating an Engaging Community and Membership Site

I helped co-found a company that grew into more than 1,500 paid members that uses bbPress forums, courses, exclusive benefits, and an engaging community. I will share my experience on how I encouraged community engagement and built it all with WordPress, WooCommerce, Sensei, bbPress, WooCommerce Memberships, AffiliateWP, and more.

Description of the talk:

I helped co-found a company that grew into more than 1,500 paid members that uses bbPress forums, courses, exclusive benefits, and an engaging community. I will share my experience on how I encouraged community engagement and built it all with WordPress, WooCommerce, Sensei, bbPress, WooCommerce Memberships, AffiliateWP, and more.

While I’m no-longer co-founder of TravelBlogSuccess.com, it continues to rapidly grow today and is highly successful WordPress membership site.

By building an engaging community, your users will help promote your site further building an even larger community.

Slides from the presentation can be found here.

Installing and Developing with WooCommerce Locally

If you’re a developer working on WooCommerce or want to try out WooCommerce before installing it on your own site, you can use VVV WooCommerce to quickly create a WordPress instance that has the WooCommerce plugin and Storefront theme installed and ready to try out locally. You will need Vagrant, Virtual Box, and VVV installed to use all of which are easy to install and configure.

If you’re a developer working on WooCommerce or want to try out WooCommerce before installing it on your own site, you can use VVV WooCommerce to quickly create a WordPress instance that has the WooCommerce plugin and Storefront theme installed and ready to try out locally. You will need Vagrant, Virtual Box, and VVV installed to use all of which are easy to install and configure.

If you have trouble setting this up, please comment below or create an issue on Github.

Starting a New Chapter – Moving on from Travel Blog Success

June 30 will be my last day as a co-founder of Travel Blog Success.

June 30 will be my last day as a co-founder of Travel Blog Success.

I’ve accepted a position at Automattic continuing on as a Developer Advocate for WooThemes. Automattic has a Conflict of Interest policy that does not allow most side-businesses. Unfortunately Travel Blog Success is considered a conflict of interest and thus I had to make a difficult decision to cede co-ownership of Travel Blog Success to David Lee and I will no longer be involved with the business.

I’m very proud of what we accomplished with Travel Blog Success. Nothing has taught me more about business and web development more than my experience with TBS. It has been wonderful getting feedback from customers on how Travel Blog Success has changed their life. I was part of a team that helped people travel the world, tell their stories, and help them make money doing it. I felt good working on it.

It was not an easy decision but working for Automattic is a dream opportunity for me and my career. I am excited for this new adventure with Automattic and feel I am making the right decision for my future.

I’m confident that Britany Robinson and David Lee will continue to build on the excellent products and services of Travel Blog Success. There are so many exciting things coming soon for TBS and I cannot wait until they announce them. I feel very fortunate to have worked with such wonderful, hardworking people. I’m proud of what we’ve done together.

I will forever be grateful for the opportunity I had to be a co-founder of TBS. We never would have gotten this far without an amazing and dedicated group of members. I will continue to be active on the forums and Facebook Group but as a regular community member.

Thank you everyone for all of your support. See you in the forums!

Read the departure post on the TBS blog for more information.