Three Years at 10up: The Untold Stories

Yesterday marked my three year anniversary at 10up. I joined as the team’s first Senior Web Strategist, recruited to support both new business development and project execution for a then scrappy team of 5 full timers (including me) and a few specialized freelancers. Today I oversee project delivery and drive organizational planning for a team of 90 (and growing) web professionals representing a spectrum of talent from design to UX to monetization strategy to enterprise-class engineering.

It’s been an intense, unpredictable, fulfilling journey that’s given me the opportunity to grow not only as a professional, but as a person. With the support of a top-notch team, and a boss who’s given me the leeway to learn, I’ve worked with dozens of clients to design and build publishing systems, engaging interactive content experiences, and sustainable business solutions / processes that affect the bottom line in real ways. You can read about most of this on our website or in a transcript of one of Jake’s business talks. As special as it is, this story feels a little tired and too shiny, maybe even “done” in the preteen apathetic sense. Definitely not OG, as Helen would say. So instead of going on about where I (we) are, I’ll take you back to a few of the places I’ve (we’ve) been and reintroduce you to the special ones that helped me (us) along the way…

What do you mean you thought the background color would change once we went live?

This is a real thing I said just days before Helen and I launched one of our first websites together. Even though she’s not a designer, Helen graciously “fixed” the background while talking me off the ledge for probably (definitely) the 12th time that week. A few days later I stayed up the entire night before launch, watching the site with an irrational fear that if I didn’t something would fucking break again. There was really only so much Helen could do for me back then.

Jer-Bear and Dr. Tollman

Known to most of you as Jeremy Felt and Zack Tollman. These two taught me everything I know about how things are made on the internet with WordPress (Sorry, Helen, but you know we were usually talking about much less productive shit back then). I will be eternally grateful for the deliberate and patient explanations you gave me about all the things, reassuring me that questions were good and I should always ask them. You made me look awesome in that first year when I’m sure I was at least (mostly) mediocre, covering my ass on countless occasions and teaching me that no migration is simple, particularly the people ones.

Have a sec? / Go to bed, Carl…. Seriously though.

The Carl Danley introduced himself to me outside the WordCamp Miami after party in 2012. I have no memory of this, but apparently it happened. Jake had lunch with him the next day and he was our 8th full time employee a couple of weeks later. Legend goes that he stayed up the entire night before that lunch engineering his first WordPress plugin. The kid was a different kind of hungry. For about two years I had the privilege of watching Carl’s brain work. At least once a day I’d receive this Skype ping — Have a sec? — followed by an immediate Skype voice call and screen share of something insane (out of scope) he’d been toiling on for a client project. It was hard to contain that kind of raw talent and it always felt a bit wrong for even trying. But seriously, he needs sleep! Carl, if you’re reading this, go to bed right now.

And he has flowing locks…

This was how I first described Vasken Hauri to a fellow 10up leadership member after interviewing him for a Director of Engineering position. I’m a real asshole, guys. But this guy, he really gets it. His appreciation for and mastery of data-driven decision making is the daily slap in the face this manic, at times process-averse, (recovering) project manager needs. Vasken challenges me to prove my instincts, articulate them into processes, and trust others to succeed within them. I’m not great at being wrong, but he’s made me better at it. Oh, and for an entire year he forwarded me, tweeted me, and otherwise harassed me with materials that emphasized my childlike appearance / behavior.

Classic Moments from All Company Meetups

  • Where’s Jess? / She’ll be here.
  • Miss, you’re going to need to quiet down… / Jess, seriously, you’re so loud…
  • Cards Against Humanity
  • Zach Brown tries (is forced) to keep up with Jess. Hilarity ensues.
  • Did he just throw up on those people?
  • Tours of the Vegas Strip from Grant Landram
  • Screaming inappropriately during any competitive activity
  • Cigars
  • Dancing in the streets of Portland
  • Okay, I’m just going to make a decision.

Trekking the Country with Jake

  • in my 1995 Toyota Celica
  • on a Southwest flight
  • on a train
  • through a red light
  • running late
  • making plans
  • finalizing presentations
  • laughing

Here’s looking forward to another 3 years, a few hundred more 10uppers (Do you hear me, Paul?!), and even more stories along the way.

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