I work full time on Drupal core at Acquia: I’m a full-time open source developer.

I used to do freelance Drupal and WPO work during my university studies. My sole proprietorship was whimsically named Wimsical. See my past projects & clients.

How I like to work

I love technical challenges, “The Hacker Way” (see below) and the 10 Buffer values (see below), despise over-engineering and unnecessary complexity. Solitude is necessary for creativity. Working (and thus communicating) asynchronously enables this, but it sets in motion so much more:

Creativity ⇔ focus ⇔ solitude ⇔ asynchronous communication ⇒ distributed companies ⇒ less commuting ⇒ more time for family, friends and hobbies ⇒ more focus/creativity when actually working.

The major caveat that comes with the above: self-discipline is a necessity. However, over the years, I’ve mastered that skill.

Overall, I believe distributed companies lead to happier and thus more productive employees. Examples of great distributed companies are GitHub, Automattic, Canonical, Mozilla and Buffer.

I’ve also collected a list of great articles on what I consider The Perfect Job.

The Hacker Way

I like most of this section of Mark Zuckerberg’s letter to investors. Of course, since then, the 5th core value (“Build Social Value”) listed at the very end rings very hollow, ironic and even dystopian. Which is why I deleted my Facebook account. But the overall approach still makes sense: continuous improvement, iteration, data-driven, open, requiring managers to be hands-on.

The Hacker Way

As part of building a strong company, we work hard at making Facebook the best place for great people to have a big impact on the world and learn from other great people. We have cultivated a unique culture and management approach that we call the Hacker Way.

The word “hacker” has an unfairly negative connotation from being portrayed in the media as people who break into computers. In reality, hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done. Like most things, it can be used for good or bad, but the vast majority of hackers I’ve met tend to be idealistic people who want to have a positive impact on the world.

The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it — often in the face of people who say it’s impossible or are content with the status quo.

Hackers try to build the best services over the long term by quickly releasing and learning from smaller iterations rather than trying to get everything right all at once. To support this, we have built a testing framework that at any given time can try out thousands of versions of Facebook. We have the words “Done is better than perfect” painted on our walls to remind ourselves to always keep shipping.

Hacking is also an inherently hands-on and active discipline. Instead of debating for days whether a new idea is possible or what the best way to build something is, hackers would rather just prototype something and see what works. There’s a hacker mantra that you’ll hear a lot around Facebook offices: “Code wins arguments.”

Hacker culture is also extremely open and meritocratic. Hackers believe that the best idea and implementation should always win — not the person who is best at lobbying for an idea or the person who manages the most people.

To encourage this approach, every few months we have a hackathon, where everyone builds prototypes for new ideas they have. At the end, the whole team gets together and looks at everything that has been built. Many of our most successful products came out of hackathons, including Timeline, chat, video, our mobile development framework and some of our most important infrastructure like the HipHop compiler.

To make sure all our engineers share this approach, we require all new engineers — even managers whose primary job will not be to write code — to go through a program called Bootcamp where they learn our codebase, our tools and our approach. There are a lot of folks in the industry who manage engineers and don’t want to code themselves, but the type of hands-on people we’re looking for are willing and able to go through Bootcamp.

The examples above all relate to engineering, but we have distilled these principles into five core values for how we run Facebook:

  1. Focus on Impact
  2. Move Fast
  3. Be Bold
  4. Be Open
  5. Build Social Value

Mark Zuckerberg

The 10 Buffer Values

Since then, the company Buffer has appeared, and their 10 values are more explicit, more humane, and I quite like the way they framed things — and I’m fortunate enough to recognize many of their values in Acquia’s OCTO team, which I’ve been part of since May 2012. Quoted verbatim below:

The 10 Buffer Values

In Buffer’s founding months, Joel and Leo read, re-read and internalized Dale Carnegie’s famous book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Many of the Buffer values are derived from his deeply impactful words.

In January 2013, when Buffer was just 7 people, we discussed what words define the culture we have and put together this list of the 10 Buffer Values.

As with everything we do at Buffer, this list of values is a continual work in progress.

View the full slidedeck

1. Choose Positivity and Happiness

  • You strive to approach things in a positive and optimistic way
  • You avoid criticizing or condemning team members or users
  • You avoid complaining
  • You let the other person save face, even if they are clearly wrong
  • You are deliberate about giving genuine appreciation

2. Default to Transparency

  • You take pride in opportunities to share our beliefs, failures, strengths and decisions
  • You use transparency as a tool to help others
  • You always state your thoughts immediately and with honesty
  • You share early in the decision process to avoid “big revelations”

3. Have a Focus on Self Improvement

  • You are conscious of your current level of productivity and happiness, and make continual changes to grow
  • You have a higher expectation of yourself than Buffer does of you
  • You regularly and deliberately do things that make you feel uncomfortable
  • You practice activities and develop habits that will improve your mind and body

4. Be a “no-ego” Doer

  • You don’t attach your personal self to ideas
  • You let others have your best ideas
  • You approach new ideas thinking “what can we do right now?”
  • You are humble
  • You always ship code the moment it is better than what is live on our site - no matter what

5. Listen First, Then Listen More

  • You seek first to understand, then to be understood
  • You focus on listening rather than responding
  • You take the approach that everything is a hypothesis and you could be wrong
  • You are suggestive rather than instructive, replacing phrases such as ‘certainly’,’undoubtedly’, etc with ‘perhaps’, ‘I think’, ‘my intuition right now’

6. Have a Bias Towards Clarity

  • You talk, code, design and write in a clear way instead of being clever
  • You over-communicate, repeating things more times than you would intuitively
  • You use more words to explain, even if it feels obvious already
  • You don’t make assumptions, you instead ask that extra question to have the full picture

7. Make Time to Reflect

  • You deliberately find time for reflection, because that’s where your life-changing adjustments come from
  • You have a calm approach to discussions and ponder points in your own time
  • You find time to jump out of the trenches into the higher level thinking that will move the needle
  • You understand the value of patience and treat it as a muscle which needs practice to grow

8. Live Smarter, Not Harder

  • You value waking up fresh over working that extra hour
  • You always aim to be fully engaged in an activity, or resting
  • You single task your way through the day
  • You are at the top of your game, as you focus on expanding capacity of your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual energy
  • You choose to be at the single place on Earth where you are the happiest, and most productive, and you are not afraid to find out where that is

9. Show Gratitude

  • You regularly stop and are grateful for your circumstances
  • You are grateful for the work co-workers do to push the company forward and help you move faster
  • You approach customer conversations with humility and the knowledge that it’s a privilege to serve these people
  • You have gratitude for platforms, tools and open source that laid the foundation for the possibility of the company: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” - Isaac Newton

10. Do the Right Thing

  • You choose what’s best for customers and the company in the long-term
  • You correct the mistake even when no one would notice
  • You strive to provide the best solution, even if that means foregoing profit
  • You get excited about opportunities to help others