Goodbye Crash, Howdy Automattic

Yesterday was my last day at Crash.

A little over three years ago Isaac emailed me one morning asking if I had a few minutes for a phone call. I took it, then a month later I started full time at Praxis. A year and a half later we split the company and I went with the Crash team.

I’m very proud of the things I worked on with both teams. Here are a few highlights:

  1. Set up a custom curriculum portal for the Praxis students
  2. Designed and wrote a completely new curriculum for Praxis students
  3. Set up a talent portal where hiring managers could view student profiles and decide who to interview
  4. Ran the marketing team at Praxis for a few months, where I learned a ton about marketing, instituted some targeted lead capture systems with ConvertFlow, and did a deep-dive on retargeting and conversion tracking. This led to capturing tens of thousands of leads while I was there, and even more after I left.
  5. Migrating a Hubspot CRM and email automation system to Salesforce and Mailchimp
  6. Rebuilt the Praxis website from the ground up with a custom WordPress theme
  7. Leading a focused week where the entire team worked together in groups to create a course, including writing content and shooting videos to accompany it
  8. Creating Discover, a personality-style quiz that tells you which role is the best place to start your career. It took a few months, and I figured out the traits, archetypes, and mappings from scratch. As of this writing, 12,500 people have taken it.
  9. Some of the people who went through a Praxis apprenticeship when I started (and who I helped coach!) are now hiring their own teams or starting their own companies. This is incredibly rewarding.
  10. I set a goal at the beginning of 2019 to learn Ember.js enough to commit meaningfully to the codebase. By the end of the year I was shipping fully functional features and fixing bugs. I had over 1000 commits to the codebase last year.
  11. All in all, I estimate that I directly helped at least 500 people over those three years change the course of their lives by helping them land an awesome job with high growth trajectory. This will have compound returns for them over the course of their careers.

In addition to the above, I learned a ton about:

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Engineering
  • Coaching
  • Conflict resolution
  • Pitching

Morgan von Gunten wrote a nice goodbye for me in last week’s Crash Report.

I’m thankful for the time I had with these teams and what we worked on together. It was exactly what I needed at the time.

So why am I leaving?

I’ve been on the edge of burnout for the past 6 months. My role changed many times in the last three years. I’ve adapted rapidly to the changing needs of the company, wore many hats, and figured out a lot of stuff. That was fun for a while, then it got pretty taxing. I decided at the beginning of February that it was time for a change. I want to settle down into one role.

It is hard. I’ve poured my heart into these teams for the past three years. It is not an easy decision to walk away, but I think it is the best decision for me, my health, and my family.

I used the Crash philosophy to go land a new role. I did my research, crafted a personalized pitch, and sent the pitch in along with the regular application. I got an immediate reply and threw myself into landing the role through the trial.

Automattic was the first place I applied. Yes, I applied to a few other places as backup, but Automattic was the place I really wanted to go.

I have a long history with WordPress. This very blog started on WordPress back in 2008, and I’ve developed at least 30 WordPress sites since and helped Praxians with ~200 more. CookLikeChuck.com runs on WordPress, the Praxis curriculum portal runs on WordPress, and Crash’s content is powered by a decoupled WordPress instance. I’m a steadfast remote worker, and Automattic is one of the largest fully distributed companies, with 1100 people across 75 countries. I resonate deeply with their Creed and Open Source mission.

Thankfully, it worked out. I’m joining the WordPress.com Special Projects Team, working to empower people who are doing cool things, one website at a time.

I start at Automattic on Monday.

Celebrating 10 Years

I started this blog ten years ago today. I was in a room at the Doubletree in Tarrytown, NY. It was a Sunday and it was the weekend in-between my first FEE seminars. I ordered a pizza and some ziti from Capri Pizza and decided to tear down my old HTML site and give blogging a try. I figured out how to install WordPress 2.5.1 and went to town. Here is what the site looked like:

original blog

Here is the post that started it all.

Since then, I went on to work at FEE and move to NY, passing that Doubletree regularly. I blogged for a year straight. I’ve lived in 5 different cities and posted from every single one. I’ve written 763 posts on this blog since then and I average about 20,000 unique visitors a month according to my server logs.

The blogging has paid off. Here are things that have come from my blogging and showing my work:

  • Photography gigs
  • Selling my photos
  • Photos published in dozens of newspapers, magazines, and websites because they were licensed as Creative Commons
  • The Light Graffiti Guide Sean and I wrote has been used by teachers all across the world.
  • Photos being shown at the 2008 Nuit des musées at Le Compa, Conservatoire de l’agriculture in Chartres, France.
  • More contract gigs than I can count
  • My second full-time job (eResources)
  • My third full-time job (Praxis). Here is the post that put Isaac over the edge.
  • Weekly emails from people who found my tutorials helpful.
  • Meeting authors whose books I wrote about
  • Invitations to meetups and discussion groups
  • People using my code for their own projects
  • I’ve served up appliance repair manuals to hundreds of thousands of people. I let my Dad upload the ones he had back in 2008 to so that people could find them for free. Just doing our part to keep the Right to Repair/Fix It movement strong.

Also, not only is today my 10 year blogging anniversary, it is also my 5 year wedding anniversary! Amanda and I had just started dating when I put this blog up, so she’s been here since the beginning. Little did I know that we’d get married exactly five years later.

It’s been a fun ten years and I’m not done yet. cagrimmett.com is here to stay. Check out my archives and stay tuned for more.