Some Things I Learned From “The Year Without Pants”, a Book About and the Future of Work

Blog post #67 is not about sewing. We’re going off on a tangent and shining some beams on the software company which allows me to write this blog:


I usually stop in my tracks for any book title that is fashion related. Therefore author Scott Berkun’s book caused a stop-in-your-tracks moment (um, the word “pants”). A second look at the cover image indicated that it could be porn for all I knew (shudder). The sub-title cleared it all up – it was an inside look at, the blogging software I use every day. It’s like someone writing about your friend although I have no personal or business affiliation with Automattic or author Scott Berkun, and probably never will. So, in the interest of turning the tables, below are some things I took away from the book about and their work style.

  • It was eye-opening for me on several levels. Scott Berkun joined Auttomatic on the condition that he could write about it. Not as a fly on the wall, but actually working as a team leader. In the book he has divulged the unconventional work style of a successful software company from the inside out. To use a sewing analogy for all my seamstress readers, it’s like turning an unusual piece of couture clothing inside out to see how it was created (there, this post is not totally devoid of a sewing reference).
  • As a reader, a user of and clueless about programming/coding, and one who will never use the information about unusual work styles for the rest of my life, I found the book engaging and simply written.
  • Matt Mullenweg owns Automattic© which owns Get the play on words? Matt…. Automattic©
  • Employees are called Automatticians. Clever Matt, taking cues from Disney and their “imagineers”.
  • Automattic© operates by dividing the entire company into mini (as small as four people), self-motivated and autonomous teams. This is referred to as a “distributed” company. There seems to be minimal input by the CEO, and the employees are driven by their own vision and love for their jobs, which somehow seems to dovetail into the CEO’s vision. In my next life, I want Matt Mullenweg to be my boss.
  • The teams are given names like “Team VIP” (for big clients like CNN, Time, Inc. and other biggies), “Team Social” (the author’s team which worked on the Comments section and social media connections, if I understood correctly) and so on. The most aptly named is “Team Happiness” (you and I know it as the Help Desk or Customer Service). Members of Team Happiness are called “Happiness Engineers”. Their job is to keep users happy. Can you guess what “Team Theme” does?
  • Working with Team Happiness is required for all new hires before moving on to their own specialized team. Why? Because Team Happiness has the most thankless job ever – dealing with issues/complaints from customers/bloggers like us, fixing reported bugs and the like.
  • It’s a global company in the most authentic way. Employees work from anywhere in the world on a daily basis, interacting with each other online, through Skype or other ways. When they do meet, its in places like Athens, Greece or Hawaii. Each team chooses its own meeting destination when a face to face interaction is scheduled. Verrry nice. I repeat, in an alternate universe I want to work for Matt Mullenweg.
  • New updates, improvements and features are released frequently and seamlessly; I don’t even know what was done and when.
  • Scott Berkun refers to what he calls the “Future of Work”, defending Automattic’s distributed work style, and at the same time calling it “chaos”. It’s a successful chaos.  Is this the future of work? I, personally, think so. Automattic beat most others to it.


PS: If you’re a blogger and into attending blogging conferences, the BlogHer 2014 conference is being held next week in Silicon Valley, CA and will be there, and there will be a”Happiness Bar”. Way to go Team Happiness! People, take your blogging questions there and get happy.

PPS: I promise to go back to sewing posts. Thank you for reading!



4 thoughts on “Some Things I Learned From “The Year Without Pants”, a Book About and the Future of Work

  1. how fun to read — interesting to hear about the company’s philosophy- sounds like I might need to get the book. And clearly read more on the wordpress forums – still struggling with my blog!


    1. Lynn, after more than a year of using WordPress, I’m still afraid of changing the theme. I guess I’ll have to take the plunge soon.
      I loved the Rio posts on your blog! By the way, received my Stitch magazine and saw your pillow in it. Beautiful, and congrats!


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