The Grand Meetup thoughts

A heavy heart was all I had, sitting in the lobby for a couple of hours as I said Bye to a bunch of people I had met for the first time a week ago. I didn’t quite understand why I was feeling so sad when I don’t really know most of these people well enough to miss them. After all, they have been colleagues and friends for one week to at most 4 months.

It was the week of the Grand Meetup, the once a year gathering of 500 (and growing) a11ns – the only time of the year when all of us are in one place, while we work remote across the world for the rest of the year.


I work across products with many teams and so for the past week I had made an effort to introduce myself to as many people as possible. I usually find it quite difficult to meet new people – I am rather talkative once you get to know me socially, but I am not the one who will usually start a conversation – so this was expected to be and was an intensive week for me. I had increased my Meetamattician score (the people I have physically met and had a conversation with) from 11% to 41% during the past week.

There were a lot of stimulating conversations, both in the townhalls and also in smaller groups. I attended a class on A/B testing, growth, and sign up flows and had very interesting discussions with the small group of diverse people in the class which I found very useful. I appreciated spending time with the teams I work with, having us all around a table and discussing strategy, design, product, pricing, customers, and user experience.

It took me almost 6 days to get used to the timezone and have a straight sleep through the night. Most days I was very tired by late evening and I found it difficult to focus or stay awake through the town halls. Hopefully I can catch up on a lot of those when the recordings are available.

Whistler is a beautiful place, with a lot of things to do around. I went against advice and common sense, to sign up for too many things, and paid the price. But the few activities that I did do (early morning 5k run around the golf course, swing dancing workshop, and the Via Ferrata) were so much worth it. The Via Ferrata was a particular highlight as it may have been the scariest thing I have done in the last few years. I underestimated the effort and the duration of this one. I wanted to give up, screamed and almost cried, had to push myself and conquer my fears, felt cold and lonely, but I was jubilant when I finished it. A big kudos to Maya, my guide for being patient with me and getting me to the top!

I would have liked to do the walk to the lakes, some of the beautiful hikes around, ride the gondola between the mountains, ride downhill on the bike, and ziplining… but then we are going back to Whistler at least a couple more years, and I will definitely get a chance to do some of those.

During the final day or two, it got a lot more difficult to have conversations with new folks. And I am guilty of skipping the last day’s lunch because I didn’t have the energy to meet any new people. I was feeling rather unsocial and gloomy and needed to preserve my sanity and recharge for the final party that night.

There was a lot happening with a packed schedule, meeting 500 amazing a11ns in a week brimming with energy, having passionate conversations on users and products, having fun, but I would have also liked a few more silent moments to have 1-1 conversations and get to know people as more than just colleagues. It is going to take time, but I hope to be around in the Automattic family for a long time and make lasting friendships.

An A11n


For the past 4 months, I have been working for Automattic (the people behind, Jetpack, Akismet, VaultPress, Simplenote, WooCommerce and more). We are a pack of c.500 people who live and work from c.50 countries. We don’t have offices – our homes, coffee shops, libraries, and beaches with wifi serve as our offices across the globe. It has been a welcome change of culture and flexibility compared to any of my previous jobs, and I am left wondering why more companies don’t treat employees as adults as we do.

Mind you, it isn’t easy, it isn’t for everyone, and it is a difficult line to draw between when work ends and home begins. But even within 4 months, I have begun to appreciate this environment, and I am willing to trade one for the other. I am learning to get better at managing my work day, at improving my productivity to give my best at every working moment, at communicating by writing, getting to know information by reading, and collaborating remotely with my colleagues across timezones.

Once a year, we get all Automatticians (yes, all 500 of us and growing) to come together for a week to work together on projects, take classes, do fun activities, and get to know each other better. I am on my flight to Canada for this year’s Grand Meet-up at Whistler. I have been excited for far too long about this and I can’t wait to meet all the amazing a11ns.

Follow our adventures for the next week on twitter (#a8cgm and @AutomatticGM) and instagram (#a8cgm).

Join us next year? We are hiring.

An inherent love for sports – part 3

Continued from here and here

Sports and Remedial Massage Therapist  this sounds the most practical of all the options I have explored. Given the number of running injuries we all get and the importance of recovery for our continuous pounding of the pavement, roads, trails and hills, a sports massage is one thing A and I wish we could afford more often. And one that every good runner does invest in at least once a month. This combines human science, running and rehab and looks like something I can practically do part-time. I can do this course over Saturday sessions over 5 months at St.Mary’s (a tad expensive at £1600). The fact that this can lead to practical experience to advance into physio / sports therapy makes it all the more attractive.

Sports therapist / Sports Rehab specialist – this is the closest stream leading to being a professional sports doctor unless I actually pursue an MBBS degree – it would take ages and a lot of luck before I could get to working for a big level professional club, and is not the reason I want to do this. But the line of work – sports injury prevention, treatment and rehab is exactly what would make me happy. I could at some point follow this up with a post-grad course in Sports & Exercise medicine.

It bugs me immensely when anyone vaguely suggests that exercise and outdoors is so injury prone that they would rather suffer middle and old age ailments. Someone said at lunch that people spend as much on treating running injuries as much as they spend on smoking! Even if this was remotely true, I would rather run, injure myself (oh, know how to prevent, treat and recover) than spend on that dreaded cancer causing nicotine tubes – I want to help as many people as possible believe in this.

Physiotherapist – Even though the sports therapist is the ideal path I would like to advance into, this page explains very well what I have read about sports-therapist vs. physiotherapist.

In short, Physiotherapy is a much better recognised degree compared to Sports-therapy. Almost all the Sports Physios I look up have done a Physiotherapy degree. And there are career opportunities with NHS as Physios which don’t seem so wide spread for Sports-therapists.

But the biggest difference I can see is that a Physio degree can be funded by the NHS once I have my Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK (which I am eligible for from Feb 2016) – saving me £27,000 in tuition fee for the 3 year program! Given I really would like to be a Sports-therapist more than a Physio, I am hoping someone proves me wrong and shows me that the Sports-therapy / Rehab degrees also have this funding. For an added challenge, the funding obviously makes it very competitive to get into the Physiotherapy course – with only 35 accredited providers for all of UK.

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