Reflections on 2 Years at Rocketgenius

Yesterday marked my 2-year anniversary at Rocketgenius. It feels like time flew by, while simultaneously feeling like I have been there forever. I can honestly say that the past 2 years have been the best of my life. Here are my thoughts.

Self-Management Can Be Hard (But Adapting To It Is Awesome)

I was hired as an expert, and I’m treated like one. If I feel something related to my responsibilities is needed, I just do it. There isn’t a lengthy approval process or task delegation for most things. While that’s great 99% of the time, it definitely takes some adjusting. I’m entirely responsible for things that fall under documentation, and choices related to it are up to me to make. When that sort of responsibility exists, it can be hard to appropriately delegate my priorities at times.

This is where communication comes into place. Over the last 2 years, I have learned to understand the strengths and weaknesses of my co-workers. Nearly everyone on the team is a jack-of-all-trades type and the amount of knowledge surrounding me on a daily basis is almost intoxicating. The phrase “I don’t know” simply doesn’t exist. Someone on the team always has the answer or can find it quickly. Many of our skills overlap, but in some areas, I’m expected to be the expert.

When you’re relied on in that sense, you have to be a bit “ballsy”. You have to be outspoken even when you disagree with your bosses and state your case in a convincing way with more than emotion. I’ve always been rather assertive but have learned how to appropriately channel that into a convincing argument. As counter-productive as it sounds, in-office heated arguments help with that quite a bit. If I have an opinion on something ranging from how documentation should be displayed, to my thoughts on a political event, I have to prepare to be challenged (usually by Dave). This breeds a culture of critical thinking that simply can’t be matched, and I couldn’t be more thankful for it.

From Decent Developer to Powerhouse

Over the last 2 years, I’ve gone from considering myself a decent developer to a force to be reckoned with. My skillset has improved on a level that I previously couldn’t imagine.

When you’re working with rock stars, you start to become one. Whether it be due to fear of criticism, exposure to different approaches, or simply a desire to be one of the “cool kids”, surrounding myself with arguably some of the more intelligent people in the WordPress product industry has been immensely beneficial. Rocketgenius has a reputation to uphold of being the gold standard, and you either thrive or become crushed under the pressure.

Everyone on the team has a bit of an elitist mentality (in a good way) and has a natural desire to make ourselves and everyone around us better. The people that surround me have all contributed something over the last 2 years to make me who I am today.

Personal Development Makes Way For Professional Development

I was told when I accepted the position is that life comes first, and work should always be more than just a job. A lot of companies try to push a positive culture, but Rocketgenius truly lives by it.

A few days ago, I had an appointment to be at in the morning, so I was going to be a bit later getting into the office than usual. Due to a suggestion from my office-mates, I’ve begun going to the park to work out on my way to the office. When I left the appointment, I was considering skipping my workout to get to the office since I was already a bit later than usual. I thought to myself, “fuck it, if I feel good, I work better” and made my normal pitstop at the park on the way there.

Quite a few companies would look at taking the extra time to exercise in a negative way. Rocketgenius’ company culture sees things a bit differently.

If I’m not taking care of myself it’s not just noticed. It’s frowned upon. I’ve learned to put my health first. A healthy body means a healthy brain.

Stress Is Bullshit

Life’s too short to stress over things. In the last 2 years, I’ve learned not to stress about things, but rather just get them done. Worrying about all of the ways something can go wrong isn’t productive in the slightest.

Not long ago, my wife was being sued over an old credit card that we had to max out when we moved up to Virginia but couldn’t pay back. Initially, my jaw dropped and I was a wreck over trying to figure out how to handle the situation. After discussing it a bit, I was able to come to the conclusion that stressing over it just isn’t worth it. Once I was able to reduce my stress levels, I was able to think more clearly and ended up getting the case dropped by fighting it.

Sometimes things may feel like the end of the world. In reality, they’re just a single moment in an overall lifetime.

Confidence Is Awesome

At first, I had reservations about committing code to Gravity Forms if I noticed something. What if I broke something? What if it’s not perfect? Over time I realized that I was hired for a reason and I should have confidence in what I do.

Does that sometimes lead to mistakes? Sure. I can’t count how many times I have broken something on our documentation site or even completely taken it down. If I always waited until everything was flawless and everyone had their input, nothing would ever get finished.

Each project that any of use work on is assigned because we’re the best person for the job. If I can’t be confident in something, nobody else will be.

Perfection Is Great. Results Are Better.

Often times I have an issue with handling things that aren’t perfect. I want everything to always be the absolute best and will constantly tweak things until they’re flawless in my eyes. Maybe it’s the OCD. Maybe it’s how I was brought up. Maybe it’s a combination of both.

About a year ago, I was chatting with Alex (one of the co-founders and original developer of Gravity Forms) at PressNomics. We were talking about a documentation project that I was working on when something he said truly stuck in my mind. He said to just get it done and stop trying to make it perfect. He told me that we have plenty of time to perfect it and it can always be changed later if needed. That conversation is something that comes to mind often and helps me to stop and think about what I need to do, rather than what I want to do.

If we’re releasing a new version of Gravity Forms, I don’t stress about trying to get the perfect usage example for a new hook; I think about it, document what’s needed, and move onto the next thing until I circle back around to it later. There’s no sense in wasting time beating my head against the desk when I could get everything to an 8/10 instead of getting a single thing to a 10/10. I can always make the 8 a 10 later.

Always Have A Side Hustle

While I put Rocketgenius first when it comes to my work time, I’ve learned that having side gigs is important as well. What’s the best way to document something? Use it extensively in practical scenarios.

Regularly, I take freelance Gravity Forms projects on the side. Far too often when working on a custom add-on, I’ll find that something in the documentation might need further clarification or might not exist in an official capacity. When I do, I toss it on a to-do list to better improve our documentation. By finding new and inventive ways to do something I’m able to provide a perspective that may have gone overlooked.

My Job Fucking Rocks

Working at Rocketgenius is amazing. Simple as that. It would be foolish to say that I will be there forever, but I look forward to the next several years continuing to make the top WordPress form management plugin even better.

Leave a Reply