This day last year, I wasn’t the happiest person. I followed the rules of graduating college and getting a job; however, it seems rules are meant to be broken to get further in life.
After graduating college with a BS in Information Technology, I got a full-time Systems Engineer job in the city. It would have been great if I got paid more for being in the city, but I didn’t. As a result, the struggle to pay my bills, having trouble adjusting to the real world, and the long hours I worked provided no assistance to a healthy and happy mind.
One day in July, I came back from a strenuous day of work. I called my significant other, Holly, and complained again about my current life situation. She listened intently, paused, then said something so simple, yet so powerful.
“Then do something about it!”
It shocked me back to reality. I realized I was one of those graduates that blame everything on outside events instead of focusing on what’s inside and changeable. This realization lead me on a path of pursuing meditation, business, and positivity. It progressed to the point of finding Automattic.
In April 17, 2017, I managed to grab my life and change direction. I became a Happiness Engineer for the distributed company Automattic. I began working from home, traveling the world, and experiencing a world beyond imagination. I decided it’s time to let y’all know what’s happened since becoming an Automattician and how 2017 changed my life!
Working from home is like the new American Dream. When I mention I work from home, people always say “You’re soo lucky! I wish I could work from home!” To this, I usually say, “Yeah it’s pretty cool but it’s still tons of work.”
There is a misconception that working from home equates to work getting ten times easier. Rather, it’s easy in some aspects and harder in others. Working for home is NOT for everyone. It requires mental strength and focus. Being able to switch from work to home mode is not a simple task. You’ll be working and mail comes to the door or you notice your room is a mess or you notice the dishes need to be cleaned. Small distractions can get you out of your flow easily, ending in little or no work done.
Personally, I remedy this mainly with music. There’s a select few playlist I use to really get me in the zone. These playlists are usually instrumental in the genres of chillhop, funk, jazz, or hip-hop. With my noise-cancellation headphones, music bumping, and work windows open, I transport to my own world. Other ways are by working outside the house at a cafe. This also opens opportunities to meet new people consistently and change your environment often. It’s all about keeping the balance of work and play.
It’s been a decade since I’ve been in the sky. Two weeks into Automattic, I was on a flight to San Diego. I’ll admit, it was my first time on a plane alone and don’t remember the feeling of taking off from the ground. However, the adrenaline of being on my first work trip and meetup with my new colleagues was enough to diffuse the worries of the trip there and back!
My first team meetup with Automattic is a trip that will be an ingrained memory. It symbolized that my life changed for the better. I entered the world of remote working for the best distributed company in the world! During my trip to San Diego, I danced on screen at the Padres game, saw gorgeous red pandas, visited a zen garden, and had some of the best fried chicken to date! Since this trip, I’ve gone to Boston (work), Whistler (Grand Meetup), Ecuador (Personal), Nashville (WCUS), and Miami / Norwegian Cruise (Personal). I’m super grateful for what I get to experience now and do not take it for granted. I even get to take small trips to see my family more often which, even though I need to work on, helps bring me closer to them. This experience of traveling and going around the world at my age is very rare and I find myself lucky where I am now in my life.
“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”
– Tim Ferriss
A distributed company means that my colleagues live in countries across the globe. This comes with a language barrier and many uncomfortable conversations. However, I learned from speaking with my various colleagues at the GM that the language barrier is just a veil. Once broken, it unleashes a world of knowledge. Through my colleagues and trips around the world, I gain better understanding of the differences between my world and other’s.
I’m grateful and humbled by my colleagues/friends because through them, I get to learn about different cultures, languages, and lifestyles. A colleague of mine, Nagesh, teaches me a small bit about Indian culture each time we talk. I’ve even learned how to say “Good Morning!” in Sanskrit / Hindi, Su-Prabhaat! How Nagesh lives in comparison to how I live is different but I get to learn from his world each day which is something I’m happy to always hear about.
One thing to take away is that happiness and teamwork can be universal even through a language barrier. Our creed undoubtedly symbolizes who we are and it shows through my daily conversations within my team residing from Canada to Vietnam.
There’s really not much to say about the past almost nine months at Automattic. I’m comfortable here and I expect to be here for a good portion of my life happily enjoying what the world and work has to offer. Last year, I never imagined being on the other end of the of these posts. Since I joined, I haven’t posted at all and 2018 seems like the year to begin showing y’all my life in Automattic. I’m glad you have read this far into my journey and I look forward to taking you on this trip I call life!
Should You Apply?
That’s honestly up to you. If you resonated with any of my story, felt that a Happiness Engineer is in you, and have the work ethic for it, go ahead! If you wish to contact me about it, feel free to! I’ll be waiting for your email, future Happiness Engineer! We’re always hiring! 🙂
Where We Left Off
Last time on Journey to HE at Automattic, our hero discovered Automattic, did the research along with meeting Automatticians, and submitted his application to becoming a Happiness Engineer! In the months to come, he spent countless hours researching working on the WordPress.com forums helping anyone and everyone he could. Each day he vowed to do at least 15 tickets a day. This resulted in 369 replies in December and 753 replies in January. Then, on the fateful day of January 16, 2017, he received an email…
January 16, 2017 started the journey to my new life. I got an email (Thanks Pam!) from Automattic and set course to becoming a Happiness Engineer! The timeline for me can be found below; however, everyone’s timeline varies greatly!
- 12/12/16: Application sent
- 1/16/17: First email with assignment
- 1/25/17: First Interview
- 1/26/17: More ?s similar to forums
- 2/1/17: Second Interview & Trial Acceptance
- 2/13/17: Trial Start
- 3/20/17: Trial End
- 3/31/17: Matt Chat
- 4/17/17: START DATE
As you can see from this timeline, I passed! It started with the assignment and interviews. They weren’t too bad and were more on seeing your ability to problem solve and your current understanding of WordPress. However, the trial was a monster of its own.
The trial experience is not for the faint of heart. You really need to give it your all in these coming weeks. Everything around you becomes null and void and the trial becomes your life. For context, I was working a full-time job alongside my trial. My weekdays looked like this:
- 6AM – 7AM: Wake-up and get ready for work
- 7AM – 8AM: Commute to work
- 8AM – 5PM: Work as IT Consultant
- 5PM – 7PM: Commute home and have dinner
- 7PM – 12AM: Trial work at Automattic
- 12AM – 6AM: Sleep
On the weekends, I generally worked as much as I could. Somewhere around 7-10 hours per day. I took good amount of time into the trial and did my best to work hard and stand out. I’ll summarize my weeks briefly.
Week 1 — Organized Chaos
The first two days of training were intense! The training goes over all of the basics of what HEs use on a daily basis. On the third day, you get thrown in. The gif accurately describes what it feels like internally and externally on that first full day on your own! You walk in all excited and ready with your food (tools), take a look around, see many situations (tickets) everywhere, and just stare in disbelief. Also, I love Community and Donald Glover a lot.
The first week consisted of getting my footing and establishing what I knew about WordPress.com and enhancing it. It turned out that everything is organized chaos. When you read, “Welcome to the Chaos!” on your first days, they aren’t joking! That’s why you also get an awesome buddy (Hey Drew!) to help you out!
Week 2 — Let’s Talk Now
Support takes a turn when switching from helping via email to live chatting with the user. When live chatting, the user is there in real-time like you were talking to them without a picture of who they were. With a8c, I feel this is the most important aspect of support within the company and its goals. Providing consistent live chatting worldwide sets a whole new standard of supporting. Being able to provide high quality support, in real-time, and around the world is the biggest game changer in supporting our users. Also, we’re doing our best to keep a 24/7 presence as we go.
The second week proved that my mentality of support is right but my responses need adjusting. Coming from an IT background, it’s hard to break the habits of being straightforward with the user rather than actually trying to help them. I was told we need to teach others how to fish instead of fishing for them.
Week 3-5 | The Flow
As the weeks went on, it got better and better. My buddy gave me more tips on each feedback on what to do better, tools to use, dealing with tough users and general fixes/habits to my speech or formatting. Happiness Engineers always provided support and encouragement whenever we conversed through DM or live chat and the support felt like it came from everywhere! If you’re thinking that you won’t get to talk much with your colleagues in a distributed company, you got the opposite thought. As they say, communication is oxygen! If you’re not talking and working with others, things can go wrong!
It surprised me how well everyone communicates in one fluid motion. Got a question or need clarification? Someone checks and gives direction. It’s about time to go and need to transfer? No worries, someone’s got it, go live life. Need something tested? You got it! Slack provided such a great gateway to communication I never imagined was possible! Everyone worked efficiently and in-sync (or should I say, async 😉 ). You can go to any channel for even more depth to your questions! It was great seeing all the different sides of a8c through one platform itself.
When it came to the users, they were fantastic! I began feeling like a Happiness Engineer with how the users reacted and feedback went. If I had to choose a favorite chat through this whole trial, it would be where I became a travel agent for a user. To briefly summarize it, a user was asking on how much a trip to WordCamp USA is from Italy. At first, I was hesitant to help since it was only tangentially related to WordPress. But, it ended with me helping them with finding prices, giving some information on America in general, and answering questions about a8c. It was a long chat that I thoroughly enjoyed.
The weeks passed by with ups and downs. Eventually, I was given one last project to work on. I completed the project within a day and sent it in. In a few days, I was told I passed my trial! After a bit, I was allowed to ping Matt and waited. This wait varies but I got lucky and got a reply the next day! The chat lasted 8 hours with a positive end! Afterwards, I received my offer and waited to start after my two weeks at my now previous job are over.
This whole adventure felt like a punch in the face to my world. What I realized is that it’s a new story beginning to a new me. From day 1 of the trial, I felt like I belonged. I got lucky and also had Anne, who I previously met in person, as one of my trainers. I felt like part of the family by the end of it. It seemed pretty effortless to feel a part of it, which is mostly thanks to the a8c environment.
I had my ups and downs through it but the whole experience has been positive. The downs were mistakes I made and learned from or the frustration/nervousness I had at times. Who doesn’t have those days? I learned that it’s about consistently improving and doing your best for the users, the company, and yourself. If we do so, we’ll continue to grow each aspect seamlessly.
The only thing that I will not look back on in this trial is the 70-90 hour work weeks between two jobs while sleeping only 5-6 hours per night. Now that it’s drawn to a close, I finished knowing I did my best and I’m proud to say I’m a new Happiness Engineer for Automattic!
Should You Apply?
That’s honestly up to you. If you resonated with any of my story, felt that a Happiness Engineer is in you, and have the work ethic for it, go ahead! If you wish to contact me about it, feel free to! I’ll be waiting for your email, future Happiness Engineer! We’re always hiring! 🙂
Today Is The Day
It’s finally here! Today marks a new beginning. I don’t know what to expect. Anything can happen. I will be pushed down. I will go through many hardships. I will get lost on the way. But, I WILL persevere! I’ll find the paths needed to get to the main road! It’s chaos time and I’m ready to take it head on. Watch out world, here comes a new superhero! His name is Erick. He has solar-powered confidence and a genuine smile of getting work done! If Chance can get a grammy, I can get this goal! Time to put one foot in front of another every day. Given time, there is no problem that’s insurmountable.
“Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.”
— Lao Tzu
You are cordially invited to attend the ceremony of living YOUR life!
You have the opportunity to live the life you desire; yet, you choose to live a life of mindlessness instead of mindfulness. Take a moment to be in the now. I encourage you to take a couple of minutes to close your eyes and take 5 deep breaths. Sit with your back straight and relaxed. Chest out like a gorilla (not too much here). Breathe in for 5, hold for 5, and breathe out for 10.
Taking the time in your day to breathe mindfully invokes a change within you. You begin to feel happier, more at peace with yourself. Life situations begin to slow down. Remember, you live this life through your decisions and actions. No one else controls your body and mind. The main factor stopping you is the excuses. Keep in mind that how you react to anything matters most. You can either yell or stay calm.
I don’t know everything, I just know that you have the choice to live a life you desire through all the situations life throws at you. I’m just here to give you a push in the right direction. Work hard in silence and let your success make the noise. Know that there is more to your life. You can do it, I believe in you. I hope to see you in the life you’re meant for.
Have you ever woken up to something, somewhere calling out to you?
I’ve always associated myself with the past. Justified it in many ways of using it as a tool to grow, a place to learn, and to cope with myself. I told myself that all I can do now is be positive! I realized that was wrong. The past is just what it is, past. We will never get our time back. As I write this—as you read this—each millisecond passes, we lose time. My positive attitude is personal. It helps in working hard and staying focused. It is not how I should face my past.
I decided that 2017 is the year of change. I have grown in 2016 not through reflection, but by action. My growth was due to changing my outlook. I stopped looking behind me and worrying about what’s in front of me. I started taking more risks, reading more books, and creating more opportunities.
The new year has begun. Each day has been energizing. It won’t last forever but I plan to hold the energy in front of me as I begin this new marathon of life. I’m directing this energy positively.
- Launched http://www.motivatingmango.com/
- Scheduled to learn from a knowledgeable trainer on Friday
- Learned the basics of JetPack
- Set a mastermind for Sunday
- Scheduled specific days for posts (Monday/Wednesday/Friday for this blog)
I also set an impossible list for the first quarter of 2017.
- Experience Automattic
- Improve in WordPress
- Meet an inspiration
- Book a trip to another country
- Budget more
- Begin working in Open Source
- Enhance my blogs and websites
- Improve in a new language
It’s a step in the right direction. I used to set small of goals. It’s time for a change. There is a change calling for evolution. An evolution of self. A new self that looks forward always, helping those along the way that need it. I may not be ready for this new chapter; however, this story book has many chapters. This one is trimmed with gold. I can’t let it go to waste.
We judge ourselves by what
we feel capable of doing,
while others judge us by
what we have already done.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,
Quotes are the phrases that some random person will say it to you that change your life. Once spoken, there’s a click in the mind that ignites a flame of change. It burns as bright as you allow it. It can ignite a fire large enough to turn itself to ash or it can dim out to nothing. When that flame ignites, keep a level head. Look forward and move towards the dream. You can look back as long as you don’t get caught up in that past. Stay in the present working towards the future. Let the past be a reminder of once was but never will be if you keep working.
We live in a world based on other’s opinions of us. Social media has disrupted the flow of human interaction. Many people base themselves around their social media. It’s a new kind of crowd sourcing where we must speak to the world in any of these platforms to show the world how awesome we are! When in reality, we all go through the same rounds of emotions. The struggles of life are inevitable. Then we look for validation and support from others.
There’s people taking selfies in areas where they should be focusing in the moment. They are more concerned on showing the world what they’re experiencing than fully immersing themselves in what they’re doing.
This is not to say that all usage of social media is bad. I’m leaning more towards over-consumption and overuse of social media stimulates unhealthy actions and thoughts. Having grown up in this digital age and working in IT now, it’s easy to see how technology has taken over. What once was a tool has now become a lifestyle. If we don’t tell the world, how will anyone ever know? We need to preserve every single memory.
As mentioned before, others judge us by what we have done. We want to show that we have done great. That we have done great and are continuing to live a fulfilled life. Many crave positive judgement from others and any negativity is lashed back with negativity. When we make mistakes, we’ll tell the world through our perspective and find validation from friends and family to validate what we did is right. No need to change it, we didn’t do anything wrong! But we did. That’s where we need to rearrange our thoughts.
What are you capable of doing? What do you do when no one is watching. When the social media is turned off and the phone is silenced, what is being done in your life to make it better? Ever since I began this change 5 months ago, I challenged myself each day to these and many more questions.
You see, I used to judge my self heavily through others. I got to a point where EACH LIKE on any of my social media made me EXTREMELY happy. That was wrong. I felt sad whenever a post/image didn’t get more than 75+ likes. It was bad. Overtime my girlfriend noticed and snapped me out of this cycle. The cycle of feeling empty and seeking validation from others. That the world owed me.
I began a new change. It had to find a method to stop my bad habits and begin new ones. I had to give back to the world that I owed for giving me life. Where do I start? I started by making sure to have non zero days.
The point I’m trying to make is that you have to make yourself, promise yourself, that the new SYSTEM you live in is a NON-ZERO system. Didnt’ do anything all fucking day and it’s 11:58 PM? Write one sentence. One pushup. Read one page of that chapter. One. Because one is non zero. You feel me? When you’re in the super vortex of being bummed your pattern of behaviour is keeping the vortex goin, that’s what you’re used to. Turning into productivity ultimate master of the universe doesn’t happen from the vortex. It happens from a massive string of CONSISTENT NON ZEROS. That’s rule number one. Do not forget.
If a day was not great, I make sure I did at least one productive thing towards my overall goal. I have created the string of consistent non zeros to get to this point. It started small like making my bed, doing some pushups, and cooking some food. It exploded to going to the gym, reading books, and making the effort to learn new skills online. All of it lead me to my current journey, Automattic.
Ever since the discovery of Automattic a few weeks ago, I have learned more about WordPress than I ever thought I would. I go to bed each night with a sense of accomplishment. A knowledge that is farther than it was this morning. Helping on the forums gives me complete satisfaction, especially when a situation someone once had is resolved. It’s like customer service through the Internet, my two favorite things! When I was a kid, I used to join a lot of forums online ranging from anime to coding to photoshopping. I enjoyed learning from others. I then gave it back to those who were new. I realized that I always enjoyed helping others but felt much more safe doing it behind a computer since I can rationalize my thoughts better before speaking it out. I believe that when I get to be a Happiness Engineer, I’ll fill the role with great pride. I’ll return my thanks to the company by living up to their culture and values each day. Why? I know my value now and that a company like Automattic is where it would thrive best. Watch me.
Hey, you! Smile!
Whenever you think of a smile, you suddenly begin to feel your lips turn towards the ceiling from side to side. Something in your brain stops you for a moment. You feel a bit brighter, lighter than you had a second ago. Your mind releases a bit and the world shifts slightly. You feel a calming for a moment. You gain… happiness.
Googling “happiness” explains that
Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Happy mental states also reflect judgments by a person about their overall well-being.
Happiness does not always come naturally; nevertheless, studies show every single person can control exactly 40% of their happiness. Scientists have determined that your happiness level is a result of a complex interaction of genes, behaviors, and life circumstances. This means that even though factors play into your happiness, you can decide each moment if you want to be happy or not. That’s where Automattic comes in with their Happiness Engineer position.
Working To Live Or Living To Work?
I’ve always lived in the moment. All my life, I rarely thought of consequences and always took action. When faced with decisions in relationships, finances, or ultimatums, I always leaped towards one direction that was positive for me. I never looked back after a decision was made. To me, life was just moving forward and doing the best you could along the way! If you’re given something, give it all you got!
I discovered Automattic a few weeks ago on November 21st and was immediately hooked. Their company, culture, values, and general outlook on life resonated within me. It got better when I saw that there was a position I’ve never heard of before; yet, I immediately thought, “Yeah, that’s me! That’s my dream job!” The position, as you guessed from the title of this post, was Happiness Engineer!
I always thought of myself as a happy individual who truly enjoys customer service and helping others. Naturally, I was drawn to this position. I thought about applying immediately. That’s what I would have done before. “No,” I said to myself, “I need to do this strategically.” I decided to create my plan of attack. I molded my story into 9 parts.
- Learn about the company and what they do/how they work. Get their in-depth information. Send emails (which later turned into post on their blogs then send emails).
- Read suggest books and more! Summarize and analyze them to utilize in video and email. USE FOR SCRIPT!
- Become a part of online support communities. WordPress forums of .com & .org.
- Read/Watch all news, articles, testimonials, and any other possible Automattic info possible. TAKE NOTES!
- Create websites utilizing both WordPress.com and WordPress.org to better understand both and their differences.
- MORE COFFEE
- Film the video. Hire professional actors & video crew AKA friends who have free time that I can get to help.
- Edit video. Revise email. Check Script. Fix Resume. Final touches.
- SEND EMAIL! NO FEAR! EVEN IF I DIE!
Strange list but it was a starting point. Much like any story, it won’t go as planned. Life happens and you learn to adjust for the better. One thing for sure was I am determined to become a Happiness Engineer within the next year or two.
Now that I created my possible story towards my application to Automattic, I set course and began immediately.
In the weeks leading up to applying, I read all about Automattic and what it meant to be a Happiness Engineer.
I made sure to watch the talks that Automatticians held at conferences and wrote notes on each one. I watched the provided playlist of the Automatticians describing their experience with Automattic. Seeing how they all love what they do and their lives are changed, it just raised my hype even more! This company is both hardworking and exciting because the people that are a part of it come from all walks of life; nonetheless, share the common trait of every Automattician which, from their page, was curious, driven, compassionate, tenacious, autonomous, friendly, independent, collaborative, communicative, supportive, self-motivated, and amazing with .gifs! They want to work with people interested in making the web and the world a better place. These were people I could see myself working alongside. These were the inspirations and mentors that I would look up to and learn from. I began absorbing the Automattic creed. I read every blog I could find on being a Happiness Engineer. I commented on the more recent ones, asking questions and thanking them for an insightful blog! They replied happily and even gave me more tips!
To get myself going, I began helping in the forums alongside creating my own websites. Keep in mind, I know NOTHING about WordPress and how it works. So, this huge leap was one I would have to dive head first into. It was a great swim. I’m understanding how the current works. The first day I started helping out in the forums, I was pretty intimidated. A week later? The documentation really teaches you a lot. It’s like reading a book that just tells you how to do it all. There’s still tons of questions I have trouble answering, but I feel I’m getting the hang of how WordPress as a whole works. Having an IT background, answering support questions aren’t as bad. I’m going to continue learning more about how WordPress.com & WordPress.org works. I plan to master the basics, it’s always foolproof. After this, I’ll upgrade to another software and learn that!
The Happiness Engineer role also recommended a book, Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. I bought it the day after I decided my journey to Happiness Engineer. I took my time to fully absorb the book and live in it. It took me a couple of weeks to complete an exciting journey. The book was very insightful on customer service and pursuing one’s goals! Being an Asian-American, I already created a small connection between Tony and myself as I read it. I understood the need to please your family while desiring more for yourself. That’s where I am now. I’m desiring for something more than myself. Something to change the world. That something is Automattic. If they suggested this book and see their company in the same sense as Zappos, I’m 100% on board the Automattic train!
One thing that stood out to me with all I was learning ended up being the CEO, Matt Mullenweg. I see Matt equivalent to a Zen master. Peaceful in his words. Soft spoken with rational thought. Doesn’t seem to worry too hard about what could come. Just looking at him, he seems to radiate peace and happiness. He knows how to work hard and to relax. Now, I’m not trying to put him as some God that I worship. I have major respect for him. At 19, he founded WordPress. That’s already impressive in itself. I can go on talking about my respect for him. I try to make myself better everyday by looking at those who I wish to mimic in some forms. Matt has become one of those people after my extensive research of him.
Around week 2, I discovered that Automattic was going to be in New York. I was EXTREMELY ecstatic. “THIS WAS MY CHANCE!” I thought to myself. I ordered a ticket instantly. By the time AlterConf rolled around, I had been somewhat active for about a week and a half on the forums, I read Delivering Happiness, I had a solid understanding of the job and what it entailed, and even spoke to a few of the staff through their blogs. Turns out, one of the staff I spoke to in their blog was there, Kathryn! She had an inspiring video about Automattic. It was an interview detailing her day-to-day activities and advice on aspiring Automatticians. I also met Anne, Megan, and Nancy. The four of them were very relaxing and fun to talk to. I spent a big portion of the conference getting to know them, the company, and really understanding what I’m in for. I explained what I’ve done and how I’m working towards applying. From what I told them, they all told me I should just apply! I was hesitant at first. After talking with them the whole day, that hesitation was gone. They gave me the best advice:
“DON’T HOLD YOURSELF BACK” – Automatticians (They weren’t yelling it though)
It clicked in my head. I flipped my own story and ripped up the scripts. I’m applying! I had a busy weekend but Sunday night I sat myself down and completed the application. I went a bit overboard with it. I added gifs, music, visuals, and words, words, words. I submitted it around 1:30AM and now sit at work pretty tired but feeling accomplished. I believe that they’ll enjoy my application and resume. From here, all I can do is wait and see what happens now! What do you think?
. . .
Oh! By the way, if this story inspired you, I want you to know, we’re hiring!!