Monthly Review: August 2016

A photo by Luke Porter. unsplash.com/photos/1DDFLlCz42k

I publish a monthly review of habits, work, etc. You’ll be able to find them all here.

August was a pretty amazing month. I was able to fly down to Florida and visit family and friends for a long weekend. When I got back to Colorado, I teamed up with some friends from the gym for a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from Copper Mountain to Snowmass. It was a ton of fun, and I can’t wait to do the next one.

As for goals and habits, I made progress from July. My reading was a big success in particular. Here’s a full breakdown and list of what I’m going to focus on in September.

Full recap of habits, books, etc below!

How All Hands Support Works at Automattic

A photo of 400+ Automatticians at our last Grand Meetup. Most of these individuals work in all hands support at least once a year.

We now have close to 300 non-support employees at Automattic. Yet, each year most one of them (even Matt, our CEO) helps out in support. It’s a practice commonly known as “All Hands Support” (also referred to as Support Weeks at Automattic).

I’ve been helping to wrangle Support Weeks at Automattic for a bit over two years now. As our company continues to grow, it can certainly get a bit complicated at times, but we think it provides great value to the company. Here’s a bit more about why we believe Support Weeks are important and how we go about implementing them across a 400+ person company.

Full disclosure, this is the process in place at the moment, but it’s bound to change and evolve as time goes on. Also, if you find yourself reading this and wanting to know more, join the Support Driven Slack group and ping me (@duvall).

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Looking Back on Year One as a Team Lead

clarity

It’s been a little over a year since I took on a team lead role at Automattic. The past year has been both fun and challenging. I’m fortunate to work in a culture where mistakes are viewed as opportunities and learning can happen rapidly. Last week, I was thinking back to everything I’ve learned over the past year, and I thought it might be helpful to share some of those ideas here.

One caveat I’ll mention before we take off: I share these ideas not because I’ve mastered the concept of leadership (or the concepts mentioned here to be clear). Read this not as “Jeremey shares the key secrets of leadership.” I’m still figuring it out, but I like to do so in public so everyone can level up together if they so choose. Another benefit: I can revisit this post in six months as a reminder to myself.

I subjectively chose five things below to focus on. Realistically, I probably made 1,000 mistakes that aren’t coming to mind right now. These are just the big ones that came to mind as I reflected on the past year.

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Monthly Review: July 2016

A snapshot of the mountains from Unsplash.com

I publish a monthly review of habits, work, etc. You’ll be able to find them all here.

I really dropped the ball on these reviews in May and June. I was fortunate enough to attend SupConf in San Francisco in May, a meetup in Durham, North Carolina in June, and a camping trip plus a trip to Vegas in July. The travel combined with family coming to visit meant that blogging slipped down my priority list. Now that things have calmed down (a tiny bit), I’m hoping to get back at it starting with a recap of all the awesomeness in July and what I’m focused on for August!

Full recap of habits, books, etc below!

Handling Negativity in Customer Support

Hi! I hate your product

Currently, I’m at the first ever SupConf, a conference for support professionals. I gave a talk about dealing with negativity in customer support. Here’s a complete recap of everything I discussed. The full slide deck can be found here. The video is embedded at the end of this post.

Talking about negativity with a bunch of support professionals is a bit weird. We’re a pretty positive group. After all, we got into this profession because we wanted to help people.

Still, one constant with building things (particularly online) is that your customers are going to tell you what they think good or bad.

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Building a Simple React Todo List and Timer

Theodoro—A React todo list and Pomodoro Timer

One of my goals for 2016 was to ship stuff, quite a few things in fact. We’re close to half-way through the year already, but I finally shipped a thing—a simple React todo list!

GitHubProject PageGIF

On Friday, I put some finishing touches on Theodoro (I know—terrible name) a React-based Pomodoro timer and todo list project I’ve been working on. It’s not perfect, and I’m sure there are some improvements I could make. The goal of the project was always to learn about React (with everyone’s first project—a todo list). At this point, I’ve gotten what I wanted out of the project so it’s time to put it out in the wild and move on.

I wanted to breakdown some of the trickier elements I ran into along with some next steps that I’m taking in particular.

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Leaders Adding Too Much Value

Leaders shouldn't have all the answers. They'll end up adding too much value.

I’ve been in the team lead role over at Automattic for just about a year now. One particular weakness I’ve noticed over the past year is my desire to provide answers to people on my team.

Need help setting a goal? I have a few examples I’ll toss your way.

Not sure what to do next for a certain project? I have some opinions.

In my mind, my primary job as team lead is to make my teammates’ lives a bit easier by removing obstacles, solving problems, and setting a clear path forward for the team. So, when someone approaches me with a question or problem, my immediate thought is, “Alright, I have to come up with a solution.” This can be helpful, but when it happens all the time, it’s a problem.

In What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith, describes this as “adding too much value.” Here’s a bit about how I’m trying to combat the issue.

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My Approach to Learning JavaScript

I discuss my current approach for learning JavaScript
I shared a variation of this blog post on learning JavaScript internally within Automattic a few weeks back. I thought it might be helpful so I’ve adapted it here for a blog post. I’m also asking for some accountability help at the end.

If you’ve read my blog, project posts, or weekly updates over the past year, you’ve probably noticed a heavy focus on learning JavaScript. About a year and a half ago, I decided I wanted to move more towards doing more development-oriented work at Automattic.

I’ve never been shy about talking about this. I’m a bit believer in sharing goals out in the open versus keep them close to the chest. I thought I would share my initial thought process and how I’m currently approaching the goal for anyone that might be interested. One warning before we begin—this is just my experience. Your mileage may vary.

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Monthly Review: April 2016 (And 2016 Goal Checkin)

Two Happiness teams take a selfie after our barbecue in Austin
Each month, I publish a monthly review, a sort of public accountability report, looking at goals, reading, habits, etc. You can find all previous months here.

April was a pretty fantastic month. I took a trip down to Austin to hang out with Sparta, the Happiness team I’m on at Automattic. We ate some great barbecue, listened to some live music, and even managed to get some work in. Our home renovation project was started (and almost completed). I felt relatively productive all month.

Since we’re a third of the way through the year, I’m going to tack on a little extra this month and review the previous month’s goals as well as how I’m doing for my yearly targets thus far.

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Monthly Review: March 2016

Loveland

How in the world did March fly by so quickly? There were a lot of areas where I fell short including some habits I was focused on. Despite those shortcomings, it was still a great month. We were able to get in a good amount of skiing as the season comes to a close. Workouts were solid. We indulged in some great food during Restaurant Week here in Denver. So many awesome things!

Full recap of habits, books, etc below!