The last days of the Grand Meetup were packed full of activities and work. They were early mornings and late nights, and I was just too exhausted at the end of the day to write. As I sit in the plane going back home, I thought I’d get caught up.
Lots of exciting things happened 🙂
Thursday, September 4
After waking up at around 8AM, I grabbed my breakfast and moved to one of the conference rooms where some of the flash talks were being had. Today the newest member of my team was going to give his 4-minute talk, and the whole team showed up to support him.
I then left the room and moved to our practice room to give another try to “We Built This City.” After a few runs, we decided we weren’t ready to perform it on the stage.
I then rushed back to the main lobby of the hotel to meet one of my team members. We had planned to have a 1:1 meeting at that time, so we decided to go for a walk and talk. It was a bit hot but it was nice. After that I went back to the hotel and prepared for another 1:1 with a team member I’d scheduled for a couple of hours later. I also prepared for a chat I was going to have with a potential new Automattician. That was followed by another walk with a team member as we had our face-to-face 1:1.
More practice! We went to the music room to try a few runs of George Michael’s “Freedom 90.” It was sounding great! We also rehearsed another George Michael song we ended up deciding not to do on the stage.
At that point, I went back to the main hotel room for a townhall meeting with our CEO, Matt Mullenweg. This is when any of us can stand up and ask Matt (or anyone on the team) a question. These townhall meetings can last a long time, and this time it went from 4PM until 11:35PM. I sat with my fellow team lead Chad and ended up staying until about 11:00PM. At that point I was really tired.
As I got ready to go back to my room to sleep, I stopped by the activity rooms to check it out. There was a “silent disco” party that we had organized that night, and I decided to check it out. The premise is really cool: You have one or more DJs, and the music is sent wirelessly to everyone’s headphones. So you dance and party, but the music is only playing in your ears. When you first arrive, you see everyone having a great time, but it’s dead silent! We happened to have 3 DJs, and each headset allowed you to choose one of the 3 tracks to listen to. Depending on each of the 3 tracks you were listening to, your headphones would glow either blue, green, or red.
So let’s say you’re dancing to track 1 and your headphones is glowing blue, you can look for other folks with blue headphones and dance with them, as they are listening to the same track as you. So it’s three parties in one. It sounds weird, but it was really, really cool. Here’s a little bit of footage!
On the way up to my room, I stopped at the Karaoke room and sang “A Whole New World” with a coworker because it is Orlando and Disney songs are mandatory 🙂
After that, I went to bed.
Friday, September 5
Today was the last day of the GM, as tomorrow is just our travel day. It was pretty special, though also very tiring!
I woke up a bit late and had breakfast. From there I moved to a hangout meeting with all WordPress.com Happiness team leads, which lasted for 2 hours. We got a lot done. I left a few minutes early as I had time booked with Kinsey Wilson, President of WordPress.com, who was hired last year. I had a great conversation with him about all things Automattic.
After lunch, I had a meeting with another team lead and the head of design for WordPress.com. We had a great conversation about doing more to ensure collaboration between design and support.
I had a lot of work to do still that day, so I sat in the main ballroom with my laptop. This was also the time where the teams working on projects during the GM presented the results of their work. It was great to divide my attention between watching their demos and working on my tasks.
I quickly went upstairs and decided I needed to do some laundry. While the laundry was happening, I put on a bathing suit and went to the hotel pool with a few coworkers. It was short but lovely. After 30 minutes I had to go move the laundry to the dryer, and while I waited for the dryer I FaceTimed home and talked to Amy and the kids.
After I had my laundry done, I went and had a quick chat with a team member, got showered and dressed, and got back downstairs just in time to catch the shuttle to the closing party.
The Closing Party
The closing party this year was pretty special, as we had our own section of Epcot Center reserved.
It was a huge ballroom with a massive stage, and we mingled and had dinner with our coworkers. There were also pool tables, foosball, a couple of pinball machines and old arcade games. We also had a few bars set up where we could grab drinks. We also had a photo booth where were took fun pictures like this:
The closing party was also when we performed some live music we had been rehearsing throughout the week. We ended up with two sets of about 10 songs each. Here’s the complete set:
- This is How We Do It
- Bad Romance
- Hit Me With Your Best Shot
- Should I Stay or Should I Go
- Misery Business
- Like a Stone
- All The Things That I Have Known
- Where The Streets Have No Name
- Party in the USA
- Are You Gonna Be My Girl
- Two Princes
- Just What I Needed
- Life in Wartime
- Under Pressure
- Ocean Avenue
- Bleed American
- Show Me How To Live
- Power of Love
- Time Is Running Out
- Freedom 90
Between sets we were guided outside to watch a fireworks show and have some dessert. It was really nice!
I participated in two songs: I played guitar on “Power of Love”, which had my coworker Bob singing while dressed like Doc Brown from Back to the Future. This was a nod to last year’s closing party, when I played and sang “Johnny B. Goode”, another Back to the Future reference.
I also played acoustic guitar on the last number, Freedom 90. All the musicians went back on the stage for that song, and it was a pretty special moment!
There was some dancing after the live show, and I ended up staying a bit longer to dance with a few people and say goodbye to a few others. I caught the shuttle back to the hotel, packed my bag, and was snoring by 2AM.
What a great couple of days!