2015: The Good Stuff

2015: The Good Stuff

This is the third chunk of my 2015 wrap up series. Here are my broad goals for 2016, and here are the things that I think I could have done better in 2015. 

My vision statement for 2015 was “Send value into the universe, selflessly.” Looking back today, in January 2016, I think that I stayed true to that vision statement. Both at work and at home, I spent a lot of time and brain power finding ways to create value, create connections between people, and unlock the treasures that were trapped inside their own little silos.

Like my list of things that could have gone better, I’m going to try to focus on things that I directly created or did, rather than simply thought about. These are the things that count, I think.

Stats & Visualization

2015 marked the first time I moved in a real serious way from thinking about math and statistics as something vaguely interesting into something that I wanted in my personal toolbox.

The first big move I made toward that goal was my visualization challenge using R, where I developed a new visualization every day for 30 days, using a single data set and a single visualization library (ggplot2). You can see that here. I see this as enough of a success that I am planning to do at least two more of this kind of skill-building challenges in 2016.

I also took a stats class at my local college (taught by another WordPress.com site owner!), Introduction to Statistics and Randomization, which served as a really excellent foundation for me. I am comfortable with R, especially visualizations, but at the time I lacked any kind of knowhow around the statistical underpinnings of the work. Now I’m comfortable running multiple regressions using statistical modeling software. Pretty cool right?


I had the opportunity to run Gamestorming-style workshops twice this last year, once for one of our support teams in Barcelona, setting goals and roadmapping for the year to come, and once in Portland following a conference. Both times went well, and it is definitely something that I really enjoy doing – seeing a group of people find insights through post it notes and index cards is a remarkable thing.

That being said, while it is something I enjoy and have found value in, I do not think I’ll invest further time in 2016 in developing that area or pursuing opportunities to run these workshops – it has not really gained traction, and it sort of strikes me as something everyone thinks they can do well themselves, so growing my own expertise won’t build me any sort of capital inside Automattic.

I also don’t see this sort of workshop as being part of my suite of side-hustle services, so it’ll be back-burnered for now. Sometimes focusing on fewer things more deeply means saying no.

Team Lead & Leadership Development

I returned to the Team Lead role in May of 2015, and it has gone pretty well, I think. In terms of creations / innovations, I think I am most happy with how my team approaches feedback, chronicled here and here.

In terms of leadership at Automattic more generally, my ongoing Developing Leadership Workshop series  has been a great success – folks are attending, the workshops themselves are recorded and transcribed, representing an evergreen resource for new and existing leads – I even invited and wrangled our first outside speaker, Kevin Goldsmith from Spotify.

During our Grand Meetup in Utah, I also put together and lead a Leadership Roundtable, a loosely facilitated discussion of the challenges of leading a team remotely, leadership at Automattic in general, and generally making the invisible visible – taking the value that was trapped in each of our heads and making it available for all of us. I’m really happy with how that went.


2015 was a pretty solid travel year, though I’d have liked to have done a bit more globe-hopping. Having a toddler right at the wobble-walk and no-words-but-I-must-scream stage makes traveling for leisure and adventure challenging. Locales this year included:

  • Barcelona, Spain: Meetup, Big Church, Soccer
  • Brussels, Belgium: Meetup Layover, Beers, Waffles
  • Locations around Upstate NY: lakes, wine country
  • Burlington VT: microbrews and storage container AirBNB
  • Boston, MA: PAX East & An Event Apart
  • NYC: Friends, Matrimony
  • Providence, RI: Friends!
  • Portland, OR: UserConf, workshopping
  • Park City, UT: Automattic Grand Meetup


In the last year, Mango has gone from a grunting creature who can barely stand on her own to literally sprinting around the house, leaning into corners and saying actual English words. This entry isn’t really about my creating anything – I don’t have any groundbreaking parenting innovation for you – but this little one has become such a huge part of my life and my heart it felt rude to leave her out.

Here’s a gif of her, in a superhero cape, putting fresh tissues into the garbage:20151115_175610-ANIMATION.gif

WordCamp Saratoga

This year was year two of our local WordPress one-day conference. It had its tricks and turns, but the organizing committee is gaining a lot of experience and I think we all leveled up in our own ways. I learned a lot about negotiating with venues, negotiating folks who don’t owe me anything, and generally maintaining an attitude of tenacious positivity.

Trellis to Table

In September I started a podcast! You probably knew that already though. I’m really pleased with how it’s going. There is a more thorough summary for this over on the podcast site, in audio and text formats. Check it out!

Enough Already.

All in all I feel very good about 2015. I’m looking forward to 2016, even though I’m not yet sure what the vision statement will be. Like everything else, I can figure it out as I go.

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