Synopses & Reviews
Forty-eight of the top 100 blogs in the world are powered by software called WordPress. Nearly 50 million websites, or 20% of the entire web, use WordPress technology. With such a tremendous level of influence, most people would assume that a huge Silicon Valley corporation runs WordPress—but that is not the case. The force behind WordPress is a company called Automattic, Inc., with just 104 employees. They do almost no PR, advertising, or marketing, and have a fraction of the resources of similarly influential firms (like Google with 185 million unique monthly visitors and 26,000 employees, or Facebook with 150 million monthly visitors, with 3,000 employees). And yet Automattic has quietly positioned itself as a powerhouse for the future of the web. How is this possible? What is different about how Automattic operates and how their employees work? And what can other companies learn from their methods?
To find out what about Automattic’s corporate culture drives their phenomenal success—and what takeaways the Automattic way can offer to other companies—tech insider Scott Berkun decided to experience their culture firsthand. From 2010 to 2012 he worked as a manager at WordPress.com, leading a team of programmers. In THE YEAR WITHOUT PANTS, Berkun shares the lessons on what makes top-notch firms tick that his stint at Automattic taught him. The insights include:
- How, despite being a decentralized workplace (104 employees in 70 different cities, almost all working from home), Automattic’s employees barely use email, boosting productivity across the board
- How, and why, any new hire (from intern to exec) is first fully trained for, and works on, the customer support team, before receiving any training (let alone any assignments) for their permanent position
- How every WordPress employee has editing rights to every WordPress-powered site (that’s 20% of the web), how all hell doesn’t break loose, and what that means
THE YEAR WITHOUT PANTS delves deep into the characteristics of Automattic’s culture that make this phenomenal success possible. And Berkun reveals what any company can do to emulate the unique strategies that have made WordPress such a world-changing force—and, more importantly, emulate Automattic’s success.
A behind-the-scenes look at the firm behind WordPress.com and the unique work culture that contributes to its phenomenal success
50 million websites, or twenty percent of the entire web, use WordPress software. The force behind WordPress.com is a convention-defying company called Automattic, Inc., whose 120 employees work from anywhere in the world they wish, barely use email, and launch improvements to their products dozens of times a day. With a fraction of the resources of Google, Amazon, or Facebook, they have a similar impact on the future of the Internet. How is this possible? What's different about how they work, and what can other companies learn from their methods?
To find out, former Microsoft veteran Scott Berkun worked as a manager at WordPress.com, leading a team of young programmers developing new ideas. The Year Without Pants shares the secrets of WordPress.com's phenomenal success from the inside. Berkun's story reveals insights on creativity, productivity, and leadership from the kind of workplace that might be in everyone's future.
- Offers a fast-paced and entertaining insider's account of how an amazing, powerful organization achieves impressive results
- Includes vital lessons about work culture and managing creativity
- Written by author and popular blogger Scott Berkun (scottberkun.com)
The Year Without Pants shares what every organization can learn from the world-changing ideas for the future of work at the heart of Automattic's success.
What happens when an old-school management guru leaves the books and lectures behind to lead a young team at a revolutionary company, with no email, no offices, and no rules? The answer is an amazing and entertaining book about the future of work.
Automattic, Inc., runs WordPress.com, the 15th most popular website on the planet, and is the leading organization behind WordPress, the software that powers 20 percent of the entire web60 million sites and counting. Their success is based on challenging our biggest assumptions about how work is done:
- Employees work remotely, from wherever in the world they wish
- No one uses email, preferring customized blogs and online chat
- There are no schedules, few meetings, and fewer rules
- Workers launch new ideas and features dozens of times a day
In The Year Without Pants, popular author and former Microsoft manager ('94-'03) Scott Berkun reports on his challenging year working at WordPress.com as the leader of one of its most important teams. His bold and entertaining tale is filled with great advice for managers, executives, and employees alike about how great work is done and what Automattic's success means for the rest of us.
With his legendary humor and the unique perspective of a seasoned outsider-turned-insider, The Year Without Pants is the best book you will read on the ways leadership, productivity, and work are evolving on business's brave new frontier.
"The Year Without Pants
is one the most original and important books about what work is really like, and what it takes to do it well, that has ever been written."
, professor, Stanford University, and author, New York Times
bestsellers The No Asshole Rule
and Good Boss, Bad Boss
"The underlying concept—an 'expert' putting himself on the line as an employee— is just fantastic. And then the book gets better from there! I wish I had the balls to do this."
—GUY KAWASAKI, author, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, and former chief evangelist, Apple
"If you want to think differently about entrepreneurship, management, or life in general, read this book."
—Tim Ferriss, author, New York Times bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek
"With humor and heart, Scott has written a letter from the future about a new kind of workplace that wasn't possible before the internet. His insights will make you laugh, think, and ask all the right questions about your own company's culture."
—Gina Trapani, founding editor, Lifehacker
"The future of work is distributed. Automattic wrote the script. Time for rest of us to read it."
—Om Malik, founder, GigaOM
"Some say the world of work is changing, but they're wrong. The world has already changed! Read The Year Without Pants to catch up."
—Chris Guillebeau, author, New York Times bestseller The $100 Startup
"You'll be surprised, shocked, delighted, thrilled, and inspired by how WordPress.com gets work done. I was!"
—Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president, Microsoft
"Most talk of the future of work is just speculation, but Berkun has actually worked there. The Year Without Pants is a brilliant, honest, and funny insider's story of life at a great company."
—Eric Ries, author, New York Times bestseller The Lean Startup
About the Author
Scott Berkun is the author of four popular books: Making Things Happen, The Myths of Innovation, Confessions of a Public Speaker, and Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds. His work as a writer and speaker has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Wired, the Economist, Fast Company, and Forbes and on CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, National Public Radio, and other media. His many popular essays and entertaining lectures can be found for free on his blog at www.scottberkun.com, and he tweets at @berkun. (Berkun may or may not be wearing pants in this photo.)
Table of Contents
What You Need to Know 1
1 The Hotel Electra 3
2 The First Day 9
3 Tickets for Caturday 20
4 Culture Always Wins 28
5 Your Meetings Will Be Typed 41
6 The Bazaar at the Cathedral 53
7 The Big Talk 64
8 The Future of Work, Part 1 73
9 Working the Team 82
10 How to Start a Fire 95
11 Real Artists Ship 106
12 Athens Lost and Found 118
13 Double Down 129
14 There Can Be Only One 138
15 The Future of Work, Part 2 148
16 Innovation and Friction 161
17 The Intense Debate 166
18 Follow the Sun 171
19 The Rise of Jetpack 175
20 Show Me the Money 186
21 Portland and the Collective 195
22 The Bureau of Socialization 211
23 Exit Through Hawaii 223
24 The Future of Work, Part 3 230
Epilogue: Where Are They Now? 234
Annotated Bibliography 241
About the Author 245