doug blog

not the installation artist

So You Want to be a Happiness Engineer, Huh?

Something I keep meaning to write is a “So you want to be a Happiness Engineer?” type blog post… Sandy just knocked it out the park with this one! Essential reading if you want to apply to Automattic

Sandy McFadden

Since joining Automattic (and to the annoyance of some people, I’m sure) I tend to go on about how much I enjoy my job and the company itself. I’ve often been asked what it takes and what you need to know to get the job. Especially since I called people to join me in my last post, I thought I would put together my thoughts and some resources which I can point people to or they can hopefully find through searching online as well.

I’m going to go a bit further and not only talk about what you need to do to get the job, but what I think you need to be successful in the Happiness Engineer role at Automattic. Please note that there are a lot of points here and you don’t have to be an expert in all of them to apply, but having a good understanding…

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I’m sick of smiling…

…and so is my jaw.

So sings Jordan Pundik at the start of the album which undoubtably changed my life.

Released on 11th June 2002, New Found Glory‘s Sticks and Stones, I can’t remember how I first heard this but that summer while at youth camp with friends we finally found out (reading the lyrics book) that Jordan in fact was “drunk of your kiss” – we have no idea what that first time of their famous Hit Single “My Friends Over You” was, but now we knew.

I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough of this remarkable new-to-me sound. That week of camp, Bowling For Soup also released their Drunk Enough To Dance album and we blasted them loud and proud.

Over the years i’ve been lucky enough to see New Found Glory around 5 or 6 times and each time they have made me so incredibly happy. During Slam Dunk fest 2010 I was at the barrier watching them perform and I managed to grab the mic at some point during My Friends Over You while Jordan leaned over. I performed that same song with a few coworkers at the company meet up back in September.

Sticks and Stones, along with all of New Found Glory’s back-catalogue, and the bands I’ve discovered, listened to, watched, and talked to since then, have had more of an effect on who I am today than I can explain. Over the years I always come back to this album, says I’ve listened to the US release of this album 201 times. And I started that account in 2008 after years of CD and mini-disc listening.

When I get a tattoo, not the first, but one of them will be something related to this band, and maybe this album. Who knows, maybe I’ll get it done by Mr Pundik himself.

Sticks and Stones album cover. Source

Motivation for the long haul

This is the first post in the Support Driven Spring 2017 Writing Challenge

Motivation: What makes you excited about working in customer support? Each of us has a path that landed us here – but what keeps you going month after month?


I’ve been in Customer Support (s/Service/) in some form for as long as I have worked, and over the past two years I’ve accepted that this is where I a) want to be, and b) what I’m damn good at.

A month or so ago I recorded a video for the Automattic Meet Our Colleagues YouTube series with my co-worker KP from Theam, we chatted over Zoom and then I did a recording which was later edited by Tish, and Sarah gave it a blurb to make me sound interesting! (I’ll add a link here when it’s live).

Anyway, part of the questions was around why I enjoy working at Automattic, working in support, what skills you need etc and Kathryn loved one line I came out with – “I work for a software company who power at least 25% of the web’s online stores – that’s mind-blowing”. I mentioned how I love hearing back from customers when my advice has helped them set up their online store using WooCommerce.

This is core to what my motivation is – seeing results in the support I’ve given to people. 

We all get knocked back, motivation falters, we get a bad feedback rating, someone takes their frustration at the product or process out on us; but at the end of the day we are there to support people using our products, plus I will never stop learning from my mistakes.

The group in the Support Driven Slack has been a huge help over the past year, the community that Scott is nurturing there is fantastic. These people are a motivation to me as well – we help each other, we support everyone. If you believe in Support as a Career, please join us, or at least sign up to the newsletter.

Featured image by the talented Jeff Sheldon (AK Ugmonk) from his Unsplash Collection

Snorkelling and Cenotes

As part of each meetup at Automattic, the team will work hard and play hard. It encourages team bonding, allowing you to spend time with the people you work with each week, in a relaxed atmosphere.

Linda and Zach did some amazing wrangling for this trip, and today we had Guido the tour guide take us on a trip with snorkelling and enjoy one of the wonderful cenotes.

We took a drive down the coast, and our first stop was the Akumal Dive Shop. Kitted up with a snorkel mask, and a few guides, we got into the ocean. To swim with turtles!

Look how excited we are!


At first the panic hit me. I had never snorkelled before, so the “breathe through the mouth piece” wasn’t helping at first, my heart raced. But I took a second, and went for it. After a few seconds I acclimatised, my breathing went slow and deep, and I could see under the water. Which kinda helped considering I normally wear glasses and had to take them off – the mask magnified underwater about 20% apparently.

Here’s yer boy and one of his new mates:


Completely un-posed, I thought I was much closer, so I was trying my best to float over this beautiful creature.

It was an incredible experience, the fish came right up to us, I cut my thumb on some coral / rocks, and lost the group for the last 20 minutes. 10/10 would do again.

We then got out, grabbed a beverage our van driver had brought with him, and went back up the road a bit. We transferred vans into an old beatup minivan, and went into the forrest. After about 15 minutes of thinking I’d been shaken up with all the bumping, we emerged into a small clearing with a hut. Life vest on again, new masks, and down into a cenote which OH NOPE IT IS DARK AND DEEP AND OOOOH LOOK AT THIS!

We have photos somewhere, so I’ll try to update this later with them.

I had been in cenotes before, on our honeymoon, my wife and I went to the Xplor Park, but despite that, I was floor again at the beauty of these caves. Then Guido took us on a little exploration and NOPE IT GOT DARK AND DEEP WATER. It’s an experience. If you ever get the chance to visit a cenote – do it.

We got some time after to dive off the access boards, and Zach and I took a torch to see how deep it got in the main part. It was cool to dive under and bit and swim about with the torch.

We got out, and then made our way back to the villa. What a great day!


This week I get to work, in person, with my team. We’re in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, working together with some relaxing and exploring thrown in too.

We’ll be doing our regular jobs, but with an added meet-up project, add in some exploring of the area, and general relaxing, it’s sure to be a great week ahead!

You haven’t checked in to Newark Liberty International Airport since September ’12.

Cheers Foursquare, hadn’t really forgotten about that.

4 years, 5 months, 6 days ago. Funny how life has a way of completely 180’ing your thinking. I left the States that day thinking I had this future planned out with someone.

It wasn’t to be. I had thought about reaching out to her, but I decided against it. She is probably someone totally different, I know I am.

And I am because of those four weeks I spent in Long Island.

Past Doug – you will be back, but not for the reasons you think. You’ll be passing through on your second (!!) trip to Mexico.


I have a bit of a thing of making sure we recycle as much as we can. 

“You’ll need to let me know what I can and can’t recycle while you’re away” my wife commented the other night. 

I mean, what level of recycler are you? Wash your food waste caddy every week kinda person? 

I like to say I’m “dedicated”. 


I joked with Bamm-Bamm earlier that the last time I was away in Mexico (wife & I away for honeymoon), we came back to him properly walking (May 2016). I asked what would Daddy come back to this time? 

At dinner I mused it might be full sentences. But no, it might be toilet training success!

Earlier he went off and we heard his sister exclaim “what are you doing!?” He had taken off his pull ups and sat on the potty for a number one – BY HIMSELF! Yas! 

Then, as we’re getting ready for bath, he says “oh no daddy! Peepee!” I lift up the toilet seat, which has his training seat on it, and bam, up he climbs & does the business!

We’re having an afternoon cooking with the kids and enjoying time together before I disappear for a week. 

Banana bread cupcakes and chocolate Paw Patrol cookies (in cupcake miles of course).

Paw troll tookies!

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