The Fun Begins
Yesterday was a momentous day. It was the start of what I expect to be a fun ride, a long and rewarding period in my work history, and a transition from amateur to professional.
Yesterday I emailed my “application” for the position of Events Wrangler to Automattic.
Ron Wayne, the little-known cofounder of Apple, recently said, “find something you enjoy doing so much that you’d be willing to do it for nothing… and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I’ve heard or read that general sentiment many times, and for me it will be a cliche come true when Automattic’s Matt Mullenweg tells me, “You’re hired as an Event Wrangler!”
My Events Wrangling Background
The initial technology unconferences in the Bay Area (BarCamp) and Seattle (MindCamp), which were inspired by Foo Camp, convinced me that similar participant-driven events were needed in the Midwest. After participating in the first BarCampChicago in 2006, I helped organize the first BarCampMilwaukee and have tried to be a key contributor to more and better events and organizations every year, incorporating and leveraging emerging trends, tools and technologies.
For more than ten years, I’ve had a blast cofounding, helping organize, running, and participating in local, regional and national events and organizations involved with technology, entrepreneurism and innovation. All this has been done as an amateur “events wrangler” because I enjoyed making it possible for tech people, innovators, makers and entrepreneurs to get together, meet new like-minded people, share what they know, learn about new topics and generally have a great time. Here are a few bullet points about the events and organizations I’ve helped launch.
- First large event: cofounded NorthEast Wisconsin Entrepreneur Networking Day (NEW END) in 2005.
- Cofounded and helped launch the first BarCampMilwaukee in 2006; recently helped with prep work and participated in the 10th annual BarCampMilwaukee in October 2015.
- Cofounded the Distributed Hacker/Maker Network (DHMN) in 2010 and the resultant Appleton Makerspace
- Attended initial meetup when the Appleton, Wisconsin, monthly Meetup.com group was forming in 2012, then helped the event founder grow the event by arranging for a monthly venue, promoting the meetup on my blog (post before first meetup and post after first meetup) and personally inviting people to participate in the meetups.
- Cofounded 3DPrintingCampWI 2012, a Midwest unconference for people interested in 3D printing.
- Cofounded NE Wisconsin civic hackathon and regional civic hacking community; published 150 consecutive daily civic hacking blog posts, starting with “What Is Civic Hacking??”
- Cofounded Humbloldt MCU Community for people interested in microcontrollers and electronics and helped organize and run the twice-monthly meetings.
- Wasn’t a formal cofounder of the MakerPlane open source aircraft project, but worked extensively with the project founder (a New Zealand native living in Canada) to help get Makerplane started.
- Currently collaborating with people in Traverse City, Michigan, to organize a participant-driven healthcare innovation event and a civic hacking community in that region.
All the event and group organizing above was done gratis, simply because I enjoyed bringing together geeks and like-minded people, getting to know them, learning from them and sharing my knowledge with them.
Transition From Gratis To Paid: Win-Win
When Automattic interviews me, has me successfully complete a trial work period for them, and hires me as an Event Wrangler, they will be paying me to do something I enjoy doing so much that I’ve been doing it for nothing. That’s a good deal for them and a good deal for me. Automattic gets a new team member with lots of experience organizing and putting on tech events, someone who can suggest new ideas from a different viewpoint, an employee whose experience and passion for what they’re working on will be apparent to coworkers, event sponsors and event attendees, somebody who will have impact, go the extra mile and put in extra effort to make every event better than the previous one. < That sentence is too long, but it’s true.
And I get the opportunity to learn from my fellow Automatticians and from each new person I work with or meet at WordCamps and other Automattic events. I can help Automattic grow, powering more of the internet than it already does. And I get the opportunity to help organize a whole slew of cool events around the country and across the globe.
It doesn’t get any better than that…