Sun. Food. Drinks. Entertainment. And meeting hundreds of highly talented, creative, and lovable humans wrangled from all over the world to work, collaborate, and just have a grand old time at a single location — what more could I ask for in a company meetup. This is a snapshot of my experience at my first Grand Meetup! 📸
Once a year, the entire company of Automattic comes together. We call it our ‘Grand Meetup’, as opposed to the other meetups which teams do individually — there’s usually 5-10 people. At the Grand Meetup, we bring the whole company. And it’s pretty much my favorite week of the year! People are so different, and everyone’s weird in their own ways, and unique, and has crazy hobbies… Matt Mullenweg, Co-founder of WordPress & CEO of Automattic, Inc. — commentary on Automattic’s Grand Meetup. (Original Source)
The When & Where 🏝️☀️🏰
The GM for this year took place in Orlando, Florida at the Hilton Lake Buena Vista, which spanned for an entire week from September 29th to October 6th.
The hotel was decked out with Automattic branding. You walked in there and you immediately knew who was running the show.
In addition to being housed in this magical Orlando getaway, Disney Springs was only a few minutes walk from the hotel!
During my downtime, I made quite a few solo trips over to explore and do some shopping, and then some more with other Automatticians.
The What 🎉🎙️🎶
Some event highlights (personal ones included) were the welcome party, keynote speakers, Happiness Hour, magical dinner at Harry Potter World, the VOID, Silent Disco, and to top it all off — the closing party at Epcot World Showplace.
A12S just arriving to the party.
Inspirational and thought-provoking keynote speeches were given by:
Cheryl Strayed — author of the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir WILD, the New York Times bestsellers TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS and BRAVE ENOUGH, and the novel TORCH.
Ari Meisel — best-selling author, productivity expert, CEO, real estate developer, green building consultant, and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business.
Ann Dunwoody — former commanding general of one of the Army’s largest commands, the US Army Materiel Command, and the newest board member of Automattic.
Dan Harris — co-anchor of ABC News’ “Nightline” and the weekend edition of “Good Morning America“. After covering the religion beat for ABC News, he discovered meditation and wrote the bestselling book 10% Happier. He’s been evangelizing to skeptical, scientifically minded folks ever since.
Happiness Hour was an event for the entire H.E. division to basically meet and mingle 🙂 We were able to grab some swag, have drinks together, and just enjoy each other’s presence.
Harry Potter World
Automattic reserved the entire Harry Potter portion of the park for everyone 🤩
There was food, a live DJ, rides, shops, and ALL THINGS HARRY POTTER — it was one of the most exciting nights of the entire GM!
The following night after our Harry Potter excursion, I took a stroll with my fellow Japanmatticians over to Disney Springs, and we did the fully immersive Star Wars VR experience. Thank you Kevin for arranging it!
You put on full body gear, helmet, and everything. Then, you enter an open environment where you can actually interact, touch, and feel everything — all senses engaged. Riding over a sea of hot lava, you can feel the heat below. Getting shot by a blaster, you’ll feel that too. It was so crazy!
Silent Disco was neat event. Three channels of music, and a room full of people wearing headphones connected to the channel of their choice!
Epcot World Showplace
Automattic reserved an entire showcase venue and a front row viewing of Disney World’s Epcot’s IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks show for the company’s closing party.
My Flash Talk
Finally, since this was my first GM, all new Automatticians were required to give a flash talk on any topic. I thought I’d share some of my unique talent with the group 🙂
The title of my talk was “The 4 Elements Of Breakin”, where I explained that contrary to the popular idea that breaking (breakdance) consists of only doing crazy tricks and posing, there’s actually a lot more to it than that, and that it’s an actual dance composed of four basic parts: toprock, footwork, power moves, and freezes.
The video below is only the media portion of what I showed. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get anyone to record the first minute of my talk, but if you missed it at the GM, here it is!
Oh right! Let’s not forget about the Swag
Aside from the usual swaggery, here’s some nice GM-specific memorabilia I received.
The Who 🤪👾🤖
I had the pleasure of meeting folks across the entire spectrum of our company: engineers of all the kinds, designers, business development & marketing peeps, human resources, and of course our very own ‘happiness’ crew! Here are only some of the groups I hung out with 🙂
My base lies with my team, the core group of members in which I’m in direct contact with everyday, Team Patronus <3
Two new additions joined the team since my last post! We had all but one missing in action at the GM.
Inclusive of any and all with an interest in Japan! The majority of members though are residents of Japan, while a few are based in other countries. It was especially cool to meet Takashi-san, one of the originals!
The most recent group I’ve been acquainted with — only a small bunch of us, but hopefully we can get everyone together next time!
How to accurately describe this bunch… we enjoy food, sharing pictures of food, and occasionally talking about WordCamps 😂
WSND2017 (My Trial Group)
“We Survived November December Twenty-Seventeen”. Only a fraction of us here. As it turns out, wrangling all of us together to take a single photo proved to be more difficult than the trial itself 🤯😅
True story: I submitted my job application to Automattic on October 3rd, 2017.
Exactly one year later on October 3rd, 2018, I meet Matt Mullenweg, my CEO for the very first time, in one of the most unlikely places ever — Diagon Alley 🧙♂️
It’s true that ‘in-person’ is still the best way to connect with someone. Virtual has gotten better, but there are so many more senses that are engaged, and ways that you can read people, and you can share a drink, or break bread, or share food, and you know when you’re in person… we just don’t have a virtual equivalence. Matt Mullenweg, Co-founder of WordPress & CEO of Automattic, Inc. — commentary on Automattic’s Grand Meetup. (Original Source)
I feel incredibly lucky to be working for a company I believe in, doing work that I love, with colleagues I know who have each other’s backs. And after having attended my first GM, this idea only became more solidified.
I’m fired up more than ever to make an impact in the company, and look forward to our future meetups 🔥🔥🔥
If this is your first time reading one of my posts, you’re probably wondering what exactly it is that I do at Automattic. I’m a Happiness Engineer and I help customers use products developed by Automattic — products like WordPress.com, WooCommerce, Jetpack, and more!
As of now, there are 801 Automatticians in 69 countries speaking 84 different languages distributed across the globe, all working remotely on different teams. Sound like an interesting company to work for? We’re hiring 🙂
P.S. Check out some more Grand Meetup pictures and updates snapped by other Automatticians! We’re on: