I had a great time with my wife and my team (Tatooine) in Hawaii. We were there 12 days total. The only thing I would change is the location in Hawaii. Honolulu is very crowded. It’s a big city that felt like Los Angeles, only the driving was 100 times worse. It was hot and humid as well. If I was to go back to Hawaii I would choose a different island.

We rented a car for 7 days and left the city several times. Those were the best days! That’s when Hawaii was a lot more fun for me, the beauty and the draw of Hawaii became apparent. We snorkeled, went on many hikes to beautiful water falls, light houses and jungle like destinations. We even did a dinner cruise that turned out to be one of my most favorite things, that along with the ATV tour of Jurassic Valley.

The times with my team were fun as well. There was another team on meetup in Hawaii (Go Sparta!) and our hotels were close together, so we were able to do some cross training and general hang outs. Typically what we do is have our own rooms and then we get the penthouse suite as a common area, which is what we did this time. That made for some really fun evenings playing games and getting to know each other better.

The next meetup needs to be somewhere cold. We are talking about Amsterdam or maybe Lisbon, Portugal. That’s more my speed. ๐Ÿ™‚ The Grand Meetup is in 5 months, we return to Florida for the second year in a row. I am really spoiled weather wise being from the Bay Area.

Closing Party

Last night was the closing party which officially ends the Grand Meetup.

The party was held at Epcot Center not too far from our hotel. It was a blast! The food, the band (our own Automatticians), the fireworks, just an amazing experience as always! View the album here!

Harry Potter World

Tonight we took over Universal Studios and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Just us! The entire park to ourselves. No lines for rides, unlimited food and drinks, including my favorite beer and Butter Beer! I had 4 cups of the frozen Butter Beer! I can’t even begin to describe how amazing the experience was. My team, my co-workers, we are like a huge family and we got have a blast hanging out in Diagon Alley

After an amazing night at Universal Studios we all headed back to our hotel and continued having a great time! There was a latin dance party on the first floor and games and dancing in the part suites. I finally headed to bed around 3:00AM. What an amazing day!

Wizarding World of Harry Potter. from Shane Eckert on Vimeo.

Shane and Mike – Dragon! from Shane Eckert on Vimeo.

A8CGM Harry Potter Show from Shane Eckert on Vimeo.

Team Meetup in Austin Texas

Tatooine Meetup, Austin Texas.

Once a year our team has a Meet Up. A Meet Up is where, as a team, we select a location and then we meet in person. We do this because we are a fully distributed company. We also have a yearly Meet Up as a company that we call the Grand Meetup. The idea of a Meet Up is to bond as a team, tackle special projects together, mingle with other Automatticians in the area, teach and learn from each other, and have a great time.

Team Tatooine Logo Hats. Thanks Joel!

These Meetups have taken me all over the world, from Berlin Germany to Dublin Ireland. #TeamTatooine Meet Up 2018 was in Austin Texas. Austin is a really great city and we had an amazing time. One of my co-workers, Andrew, spent quite a bit of time setting up our week. We had great food, a great 8 room house to call home for a bit, and lots of fun team building.

We ate at some pretty amazing places while we were in Austin. A few of the restaurants we ate at were Gourdoughs Public House, The Cannon and Belle, The Elizabeth Street Cafe, Rollin Smoke BBQ, High Tower, and The Fareground. I would eat at each of these places again, they are all amazing. It’s also a must to try the many donut places around Austin. Maple Bacon. Mmmmm.

Keep reading below …

The night scene in Austin was a blast, a great way to bond further as a team. There were two nights that I really enjoyed above the rest. The first was a little dancing while a live band played 90’s hits at the Blind Pig Pub. The band was very good.

I really enjoyed watching Scott Pilgrim vs. The World for the first time at the Alamo Draft House. Imagine an old theater with a bunch of geeky folks watching a movie that I guess has a cult following and interacting with certain elements of the film. Bubbles, throwing coins, light sabers for when the band played … it was a lot of fun. You sit behind tables and can order food and drinks the whole time as well. I had some “adult” milk shakes and a carry out box full of candy. It was pretty awesome. I am surprised I have never seen the movie before. Quite a few stars in it and it was a really, really great movie.

Live 90’s Music at the Blind Pig Pub. Austin Texas. #TeamTatooine Meetup

I found a slide!

So did Yuki.

2017 Grand Meetup: Whistler Canada

Every year we get together as a Company, all of Automattic, and we have an incredible week together. It’s really hard to describe this event because you really have to experience it to understand. For a week brilliant and creative people get together and collaborate, learn, take classes, do projects, share experiences and make memories. We do this all over the world, this year it’s in Whistler Canada. If you are on Twitter or Instagram, you can checkout the hashtag #a8cgm to get a taste of the awesome.

Today, Day 2, started with a 5K around Lost Lake with a group of Automatticians. There were a few events during the day, along with a lot of great time with my team for Team Day.

I’ll be adding photos here during the GM.

The approach this year has been to be purposeful about three things. The first was to be sharp and alert for the PHP class that I chose to take this week. The second was to meet people and be involved while also being real about what I can handle and only pushing myself to do more when it made sense. The third and last was to eat well and participate in fitness with other Automatticians.

1. First up was to be sharp and alert for the class: PHP and WordPress: Building a Plugin. I was very excited to take this class and I knew I was going to have to be at my best to get the most out of it. That meant spending several of my evenings working on my plugin and getting to bed on time so I was well rested and ready for learning. Not something I really wanted to do honestly. There are so many amazing things to do at night, not just networking with folks, events, parties, and chilling out at open bars; nope you can also hit a party suite and play games, watch movies, play music, whatever you love, someone is doing it. I did all these things 3 Grand Meetup’s ago and it burned me out pretty early. This year was different and it was worth it because I have a working plugin that I will fine tune, add I18n, and then submit to the WordPress plugin directory. Woo!

2. Meet people and be involved. As an introvert I get my energy and feel a sense of well being when I am alone. But I do very much love being around people The thing is that when a typical introvert is around people, they desire the time to be meaningful and want to connect on a deep level with people. When there are a lot people… it’s hard to do this. So I mentally prepare myself for operating when there are a lot of people. The secret to a great GM for an introvert is to get the needed down/alone time so that you can stay in the game. Sometimes it’s not even alone time, it’s 1:1 time with someone where the conversation leads to friendship, which is not hard with Automatticians. This happens in part at the daily meals which I am really thankful for. Overall I met and got to know several people better. Including my team members.

3. Being healthy is very important to me and at events like the Grand Meetup, it’s easy to splurge. This year was great. I participated in several of the 5K runs in the morning, even got in a 5 mile run on the last morning with an really great Automattician. I skipped the 1/2 marathon because I am not able to run that far yet, especially on hills a trails but there were quite a few folks every morning out running some impressive distances. I worked out in the gym with one my favorite Automatticians and got some great tips! I stuck to the #keto diet the whole time, no alcohol, no carbs, no desserts or sugar. It’s been pretty easy actually. After doing it for so long and feeling as good as I do, it’s not very tempting because I despise the bad feeling I get from eating food that’s not good for me. Okay, the waffles and syrup I see folks with in the morning, that’s been a little tempting. Getting to bed on time and saying no to the late night activities has also helped, though unfortunately the cop shows I am addicted to were on A&E (Live PD and The First 48) and so I may have watched an episode or two as I fell asleep. I kept up my routine of pushups and sit-ups, reading and devotions.

The Grand Meetup was an absolute blast. Building relationships with so many different people was probably the best part of the whole thing. Doing that through classes and activities and impromptu get togethers. I could have had more of that if I stayed up later and attended more thing, but the balance I found worked for me.

Ireland Days 1-13

Ireland Day 1

The day started with a wake up kiss from my wife and a long hug goodbye. She was off for a field trip in San Jose and had to leave early. That was also my signal to start my day. Got the kids ready and off to school and then finished the last minute packing and off to the airport. Overall the travel was not too bad. LAX was a long lay over and I met up with my fellow Automattician Yuki. After that 7 hour lay over was a 10 hour flight to Dublin. Upon arriving we grabbed a taxi with a driver that could have easily been a character in a movie. A native to Dublin and very outspoken. He was great. Got some good local tips too. Then we met up at the place we were are staying with several more members of my team. We set out to explore Dublin a bit and did so for several hours ending our exploration with a very long dinner at a nice 3 story pub.

Got some really great photos and had a great time with my team. The place we are staying is pretty nice. The challenge is the jet lag and schedule. I forced myself to go to bed at 10:00 PM, which was really 2:00 PM my time. I was exhausted from the long trip but managed to catch 4 hours of sleep on the plane, which never happens. So far, so good! It’s now 5:45 AM and I have been up since 4:15. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Looking forward to CrossFitting in Ireland and getting some project work done with my team.

Ireland Day 2

Day 2 started with working together with my team at a co-working space here in Dublin. After that we hit a nice place to eat and grabbed some coffee on the way back to work on our project for the rest of the afternoon. Following our project we did an Escape room that was a lot of fun and then had dinner at The Crack Chicken. Not the best place we have eaten here, but it was okay. Looking forward to tomorrow and getting to CrossFit here in Ireland as well as meeting the local WordPress group.

Ireland Day 3

Day 3 started at 4:00 AM. I know, right? I could not sleep much at all. Being 8 hours ahead is just not fun. Knowing I had to be up at 5:00 and navigate my way to CrossFit Navitas by 5:30 made me a little anxious, but it was easy. Sunrise is 6:53 AM, and so it was dark, but walking 22 minutes to Camden was very enjoyable and felt safe, even though it was dark. The perfect amount of cold, one might say “a brisk morning”. ๐Ÿ™‚ I got to CrossFit early and chatted with the coach. Everyone who came, about 7 people, were warm and welcoming. We did 3RM deadlift, I paired up with a really great guy and I think we did around 300+ pounds at the end. A little lighter than I am used to, but it was fun. Then 7Min AMRAP 30 Strict Pull-ups and Max Effort Calorie Row. It was really great. Not as aggressive as home, but we follow the outlaw program, which I don’t really like that much, and with some Jet Lag and lack of sleep, it was perfect. The coach also told me about Crossover Symmetry to get my shoulders back into shape from the injury on 2014. It looks promising.

The rest of the day was working on our project and then ending the day with a WordPress Meetup where we answered questions about WooCommerce and WordPress.

Ireland Day 4

Day 4 was mostly spent seeing Ireland! We all piled into a tour bus and traveled all over. We saw two different counties and even passed through the town where “P.S. I love You” was filmed, which is our favorite movie! We went to Kilkenny and Glendalough. Glendalough Monastic City was pretty amazing and we hiked a rather difficult hike to the top of a hill for a killer view. We saw so much and had such a great time together. This has been just so amazing. I love Ireland so very much.

When we returned we had a really great dinner where I had three different stews and some great cider. It’s the first time since being here that I went of my clean eating lifestyle. It was worth it.

Ireland Day 5

Day 5 was all work no play … well until the end. ๐Ÿ™‚ We attendedย Celtic Nights Traditional Irish Dance Showย and it was a lot of fun.

Ireland Day 6

Day 6 was mostly working, but we did have a really great time in the evening eating a second time at Boxty and then Karaoke. You’ll need to be on our Instagram to see those videos. ๐Ÿ™‚

Ireland Days 7-13

I just got back to California and will work on the finishing touches for this blog post in the next few days. My wife joined me for days 7-13 and we had an amazing and magical time. We rented a car, which deserves a post of it’s own, driving in Ireland is it’s own adventure! We drove all over and stopped at places tourist never see, interacted with people and got an excellent experience. I have so many photos to work through, castles, scenery, people, our B&B, lighthouses, cliffs and the ocean and even dolphins. And of course some amazing food. It’s been a long time since I put a lot of time and effort into a blog post, I want this post to be perfect. Ireland was everything I had hoped for an more, and it’s rare in life to be able to say that.