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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.

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VR is the Future

I pre-ordered an Oculus Rift for $600 and I’m incredibly excited. I watched the countdown tick on January 6th to 8 am 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 the 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 you 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.

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Releasing Photos under Public Domain

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.

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WordCamp Milwaukee: Creating an Engaging Community and Membership Site

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.

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

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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.

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.

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Joining Automattic

Exciting news this morning as it has been officially announced that WooThemes in joining Automattic.

I joined WooThemes April 15, 2014 as a Support Ninja. At the time we were around 20-30 employees. Within a few months, I moved into a new role leading a small support team for many of our enterprise level extensions. Then on April 1st I became a Developer Advocate to help foster the developer community around WooThemes products like WooCommerce.

We’re now at 55 employees joining a team of 325 putting us at 370 total from all over the world.  I’ve talked to many of my fellow ninja’s and can report that we’re all excited to be joining the Automattic family. I can’t wait to get started and get to know the new family.

This is a great opportunity for WooThemes and to bring WooCommerce to a whole new level.

Further Reading:

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One Year at WooThemes

Today marks my one year anniversary at WooThemes. Time flies! I’m truly grateful to work along with so many funny, creative, and talented people.

As of April 1st, I’m happy to announce I’m now the Developer Advocate for WooThemes.

My journey at WooThemes started as a WooCommerce Support Technician while I was still living in Sayulita, Mexico. A couple months later I became a support lead for a group of support technicians. It’s been an amazing experience and continue to learn so much. WooThemes provides so many opportunities to grow and learn.

Before joining WooThemes, I was already applying to positions at other companies as a Developer Advocate/Evangelist. There were very few companies offering this position along with offering the opportunity to work remotely. After I accepted my position at WooThemes, I did not try to pursue the role again intentionally. At WooThemes I started taking on responsibilities outside of my role that I was passionate about and found great joy in doing that aligned well with the Developer Advocate role without thinking that’s what I was pursuing. A year later I became a Developer Advocate for WooThemes.

I just do what I love to do and it points me in the right direction.

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On Writing and Routine

It’s been quiet here. My intention for this blog was to write about topics unrelated to travel since Art of Adventuring was exclusive to travel. Since I’ve taken a break from travel writing it seems like what really happened is I’ve taken a break from writing anything at all. This was not my intention.

I’ve never felt like I was a good writer but years of writing about my journey around the world it became a routine and reading my first few months of writing on the blog I could tell that I’ve become a better writer. My new routine was to write about non-travel related essays on this blog here. I never created that routine and instead told myself I’d write whenever I felt like it. I thought that feeling would come up more often but it rarely did as you can tell.

Without a regular routine of writing, I feel like my writing has gotten worse. This simple entry is taking me longer than it should to write. It’s become harder to write down my thoughts and feelings. It doesn’t come as easily as it use to. I use to be really good at this.

This is not a New Years resolution, it’s something I have to do to stay healthy. I will write more often. I feel better about myself when I write. It doesn’t have to be good nor about any particular thing. I feel writing makes me smarter and confident about myself and my thoughts. This entry here is a promise to myself that I will create a routine and write more often.

I’m certain there’s a few grammatical and spelling errors in this entry. I hope that over time with my new routine that I can feel more comfortable with my writing and these words flow easier.

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New Job at WooThemes

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be working full-time for WooThemes as aWooCommerce Support Technician.

Everything led me to this point

I’ve started many businesses and have been freelancing for over five years. I’ve worn many hats in those years and learned a lot that has brought me to where I am today.

I started using WordPress in 2008 to blog about my upcoming travel plans around the world. I loved writing but part of what kept me going was creating the site itself. I taught myself everything that had to do with WordPress. Sometimes I would break my own site just to see what would happen. I got into the code and experimented with thousands of themes, plugins and created several of my own. I taught myself PHP, JavaScript, CSS, and later expanded into other languages and improved on my workflow.

The travel blogging community was relatively small in 2009. As one of the only WordPress experts within the travel blogging community, I started to make a name for myself as the go-to guy for all WordPress related issues and questions. I’ve now spoken at conferences, provided support for many of the top travel bloggers in the industry, and created several tech guides and lessons.

Without even realizing it, I started to become a teacher. I was teaching others and fixing WordPress sites on a regular basis and I was darn good at it too.

Art of Adventuring

Art of Adventuring will of course continue on with articles on my adventures. I’ve been taking a much slower approach to travel in the last year so not much will really change with that. I’ll have another update later on where we’ll be living next (hint: It’ll be in the US).

The Next Chapter

This is the start of a new chapter in my life. Since the position is remote, I can still live and work from anywhere. I’m excited to be working for WooThemes and to further my career as a developer and support technician.