Every year, Automattic has a Grand Meetup. We all get together to work, put faces to names, and voices to code. The GM is a week long, and while many of us are separated from our families for the duration, we ultimately think the GM is a powerful kind of magic that is more than worth it.

This year, as last, we are meeting in Park City, Utah. It’s a gorgeous location, and more fun to come back to than I originally expected. Something about the familiarity of the layout and decor makes this a much more relaxed GM than last years’ (this is based on an incredibly scientific polling of myself).

There are things I absolutely love about the GM, and I hope in my excitement to name them all, I am also intelligible, but do forgive me if not.

The people (a12s)

Getting to work with the smartest, kindest people in the world is really quite a rush. This year, I’m working on a project with seven other a12s. In May of this year, we acquired a company called Woo. Before the GM, other than helping people with their Happiness Rotations, I hadn’t “seen” very many of the new folks. They were a bit of a mystery. On my project team, I have a couple Woo folks and I couldn’t be more thrilled to get to know them better.

The people (still)

Everyone does a flashtalk at the GM. 4 minutes or less on a topic of your choice. It can be anything. You can make slides, a video, or neither. You can do a demo, or poll the audience, or anything you can think of. Remember, these are the smartest people you could ever hope to meet, so flashtalks get pretty creative. Many of you probably read that and got a familiar twist in the pit of your belly – public speaking can be very hard. Luckily, this is the most generous audience, and you find that everyone in the crowd is rooting for you. Yesterday I watched the most amazing, powerful flashtalk on vulnerability and how it’s an opportunity to be brave. It brought tears to my eyes – it was poignant and difficult; it was the epitome of what terrifies people before their flashtalk, and the standing ovation at the end and the copious hugs likewise demonstrated the true core of what makes Automatticians Automatticians. In contrast, I will deliver my flash talk later this morning, and it’s about unicorns.

The people (smart)

I mentioned I’m working on a project earlier. It’s on an internal tool and (in my opinion, see super scientific poll mentioned above) it is the best meetup project in the history of meetup projects. I am so excited! I keep drawing people aside to demo it for them (which… I should really wait until Demo Day at the end of the week). Working with developers directly as a Happiness Engineer is really intimidating. Well, the thought of it is. The actual work is fun and interesting. Seeing behind the veil as the project comes together and we go from the excellent, user oriented wire frames our designer mocked up to a working mock-up, to a pretty polished end product (of course with some fun easter eggs buried within) is thrilling. I feel like an imposter, of course, but I try to contribute in any way I can, from writing copy, helping think through the original layout, accidentally telling every Automattician I see about the project… it doesn’t feel like much. Fortunately for me, the generous feedback from the project team has been exceptionally kind and I feel like I’m a part of the project.

I have more thoughts on the GM, and how much it means to me, but I must go prepare for my flashtalk now, so you’ll have to excuse me.

Of course, we are hiring.

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