Out of Office 2017 is today, have you signed up?

We’re doing it again. After last year’s successful edition, we decided to put together another Out of Office event.

Click the image 👇 to know more and sign up

What is Out of Office, exactly?

It’s a conference about all the things related to remote work. This year we’re having speakers from GitHub, Forbes, Zapier and other big guns of the Internet, touching on a fairly wide array of topics—from remote project management to culture, growth and team building.

It is ONLINE, so you will be able to watch it from any device as long as it benefits from an Internet connection. Wherever you are—co-working space, home office, living room, you name it.

It is FREE, so you won’t pay a dime for it. You only need to sign up and wait for today 4pm UK time. There’s still time.

It is INTERACTIVE, so you’ll be able to ask questions, upvote other people’s questions—Reddit style—and get answers from both our speakers and Human Made folks.

Cool! On social media?

We’re on Twitter and will be live tweeting the event with highlights from our speakers and other details. Make sure you follow us, even—and I dare say, especially—if for some reason you can’t watch the event live.

Want to tweet about the event? Awesome! Please use the hashtag #outofoffice17 so all the conversations will be gathered under one stream.

We look forward to see you!

How we do things at Human Made: The Human Made Handbook

Saying your goal is to prioritise people is easy. Doing it, a whole different beast.

People-first companies grow in number and like talking about themselves on the interwebs, but most workplaces around the world are still just workplaces—you put in your hours, get stuff done, and that’s it. As a result, resources on how to do things at companies that care about their employees are still limited.

At Human Made we live, work, and breathe in the open source culture. Restricting open source to just software? We’re not game. That’s why we’re releasing our staff Handbook: a constantly work-in-progress document where to find everything about working at Human Made, including work-related guidance and HR policies.

You are free to reuse it and apply its core concepts to your team. Please don’t assume it’s 100% fit for your own purpose: consult a HR professional to ensure it meets your cultural, operational, even legal requirements.

So here we go, without further ado…

The Human Made Handbook

How do you say “gin” in Latin?

Pótio iunípera. Literally junipery potion.

I’ve always been fascinated by how languages add new words to their lexicon. If you are as well, here’s a couple of links you may want to check out.

This article on the Guardian, written by Andy Bodle, lists the 13 fundamental mechanisms of word creation, from derivation—the most common—to portmanteaus.

This post by James Harbeck focuses on how Lakota, a language of the Sioux family, spoken in North and South Dakota by only a few thousands speakers, fills its vocabulary gaps.

Oh, how do I know how to say “gin” in Latin? Years ago the Vatican City published a huge list of Latin neologisms. It’s in Italian, but if you install a browser extension that adds a dictionary (i.e. Google Dictionary) you will be able to double click the Italian word and see its English equivalent.

My writing workflow at WordCamp Bristol 2017

Hey everyone, I’m super excited to announce that I’ll speak at WordCamp Bristol!

In my session I’ll basically explain my writing workflow. I think it’s very important to have a clear and well defined writing routine to release content (whether blog posts or internal reports etc.) without reinventing the wheel every time, and my talk will go exactly in this direction.

Sunday 14 May 2017, at the Watershed Media Centre, 10AM—my talk is the first one of the second day.

My speaker profile
My talk’s abstract
WordCamp Bristol 2017 schedule

My first tattoo: the design, getting inked, and other thoughts.

It finally happened. After several years of toying with the idea, I got my first tattoo.

Tattoo artist: Fran Tattoos

The design

Six years ago I asked Freakettona—a talented designer and friend of mine—to create a business card for me. Not that I couldn’t just put together a basic one myself with Microsoft Word or whatever, I was just too busy (cough cough, I mean lazy…) to do it.

I didn’t really give her any direction, other than the content—name, job title, phone number, email address and website. On the very first mockup she presented, there was this little logo she designed. She knew I was passionate about rugby, she knew I played the bass guitar, so she thought to create a Māori style bass clef.

I immediately printed up some stickers with that logo. They’re on anything and everything that belongs to me and can be confused with someone else’s belongings—laptops, chargers, adapters, battery packs, suitcases, et cetera. It really helps when both your wife and your colleagues have the same gadgets as you.

This is what you get when you unleash a creative mind, when you don’t try to guide them offering your useless, oftentimes counterproductive “requirements.” I didn’t ask for it. She did it for me, and very soon it became my logo. A visual element that over the years sort of became my non verbal and non photographic representation.

Do tattoos really hurt?

Yes. Saying “no” would just create false expectations. But it’s totally bearable. It’s also true that I did it on my calf, which is, I understand, one of the body areas where the pain is usually less intense. So don’t take my word for it.

Imagine a cat scratching you with a single claw. That’s the feeling. If you’re a cat person you know what I’m talking about.

If you’re not doing it because you’re afraid of feeling too much pain, it’s understandable. But if you’re sure of what you want don’t procrastinate further!

Why “follow your passion” is the worst career advice

I’d like to start this blog post with a quote that you’ve probably read somewhere on the Internet:

Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.

Often attributed to Confucius (which doesn’t really convince me—was “career choice” a thing in Confucius’s China?), this statement spread throughout a fairly wide range of sources, mostly from motivators of all sorts authoring self-help books or guest posting on business-themed websites.

As a result, it’s not that infrequent to hear recommendations such as “follow your passions” addressed to those who are striving for a change in their life. Blinded by their perhaps facile world view, people who suggest that the key for happiness lies in transforming hobbies into profit-making machines seem to ignore some of the very basic principles of our society.

Let’s start from the most obvious: most people’s passions, as a matter of fact, don’t fit well with today’s job markets. Most “passions,” oftentimes involving performing arts, literature, sports, traveling and whatnot, lead people to fight for a handful of highly desired positions.

There are quite a few examples that we could talk about. Take professional musicians. There’s no unlimited demand for them. Those who work with their music right now are basically good CEO’s of themselves—they sell their music as a product, therefore doing social media marketing, vlogs, podcasts, online stores, et cetera. Talent is not enough, unfortunately. Most successful musicians I know are better business-people than their less wealthy colleagues, not necessarily more talented.

Another example, much more painful—people in love with writing, who would love to write for a living. People ready to pen any kind of content that might be exchanged for some cash—usually a few cents—without realising they’re trying to make it in a space that is hyper-saturated to say the very least. All for their will to write, without focusing on the impact their content will have on people.

Every time someone shoots the “follow your heart” recommendation, what they’re saying might very well mean “sure, why not, spend your life wasting your time, doing something meaningless, maybe detrimental, maybe even dangerous for the whole world except you.

Doing “what we love” is not enough. What’s the alternative then?

Generally speaking, unless we’ve chosen to live as hermits, we’re part of a community. Something bigger than just ourselves. It might be our family. Our village, town, or neighbourhood. A community that builds around something, from a rock band to an open source software.

As parts of one or more communities, we’re bound to invest our time in activities that fits at least one of the next three categories.

Things we love to bits.
Things that can improve or even change people’s life.
Things that keeps us healthy.

Whether the money comes in from the first, second or third category, it doesn’t matter. What really matters is that you do at least one thing that makes you feel alive, at least one thing that has a positive impact on the people around you, at least one thing to keep you in good shape.

So the point is: Looking for a source of income? It doesn’t necessarily have to come from your passions. Focus on what you can do—or can become good at—that also happens to be valuable to the world.

How I apply this in my life

I try to make it simple. The healthy part is easy—I go to the gym and eat nutritious food. I aim at 5 workouts per week, and cook at home instead of living on Deliveroo.

What do I love to bits? I look at it from another point of view—I’ve worked to make sure nothing in my life makes me feel miserable. I love my job, I love the people with whom I work, I love working out (which fits the healthy category too, so yay), I love spending time with my bass guitars.

How do I improve people’s life? That’s the part that might be tricky. As part of our jobs at Human Made, we’re encouraged to give back to the WordPress community in any way we can. As a non-engineer, I do several things that are not necessarily linear or consistent. Right now, I’m mentoring new speakers for two WordCamps (London and Turin). I’m helping people find the confidence and using the right tools to share their knowledge. Was it my childhood dream? Not necessarily, but that’s not the point. I’m contributing to something bigger than me. I’m having an impact on someone else. It feels magnificent.

Adjust or lose.

If you’re about to leave college, if you’re looking for a job, if you’re in the middle of a change career, don’t just look into your passions. Don’t be the selfish person that does something whether it has a impact on other people or not. Following your “passion” could lead to a life of misery and the alternative can actually be not that bad: something beneficial for others, that you at least don’t dislike, and maybe comes with a real job market connected. And who knows, maybe you’ve found a new passion. They usually change during a lifetime after all.

And if you are already working and at the same time doing what you love, don’t brag about you not working because Confucius allegedly said so. First, it’s a bit disrespectful towards all those people who once had dreams whose path of life brought them to, I don’t know, flip burgers at Five Guys. Second, you sound like you live in the 19th century: you still believe that work is by definition unpleasant and tiring. Third, it fuels unrealistic expectations on how people should invest their time, leading them to give a genuine shot at something potentially irrelevant to the rest of the world.

The product mindset at WordCamp Torino 2017

I’m super excited to announce that I’ll be speaking at the next WordCamp Torino!

I’m speaking (in Italian) about my mindset as a product person. In a nutshell, I’ll share with attendees how I apply my identity as a product person to everything I do.

Saturday 8 April 2017, in the beautiful Toolbox Coworking, starting at 10AM—my talk is at 10:45, in Track A.

My speaker profile
My talk’s abstract
WordCamp Torino 2017 schedule

 

Remote Work & Digital Nomadism: My interview on Merita Podcast

I’ve recently had the pleasure to be interviewed on one of my favourite podcasts, Merita. Giorgio Minguzzi, the host, is a true professional when it comes to using the Internet to grow a business, so I think you’ll enjoy the conversation—as long as you understand Italian.

We chatted about remote work and digital nomadism, particularly focusing on the challenges and dark sides typically connected to them.

Listen here ⬇️, or on iTunes. If you speak Italian and are on the lookout for great growth and marketing advice I’d recommend you subscribe to the podcast.

Another type of digital nomad: the independent musician

There’s no shortage of content about the digital nomad movement out there. But the vast majority of blog posts focuses entirely on people who can afford to travel light, according to the one-size-fits-all claim that “you only need a laptop and an Internet connection to get stuff done.”

I’ve been following Janek Gwizdala for years. He’s not just a terrific bass player: he runs a successful membership site for bass guitar lessons, vlogs pretty much every day, uses social media probably better than most pros. He definitely qualifies as digital nomad. as he never stops to manage his business while touring the world. Performance after performance, flight after flight.

Janek can’t travel with just a carry on. Bass guitars, amps, pedalboards, they’re all heavy, expensive pieces of equipment he must bring with him.

In these three episodes from his vlog Janek discussed about traveling with his bass guitars. Tips & recommendations from one of the leading figures in the independent music industry. Enjoy!

Mute tab: a relatively unknown Google Chrome feature

Some months ago I stumbled upon one of those “The [prime number] Google Chrome features you should know.” It was a good list, but I threw in an extra one in the comment section that received a lot of praises: Mute tab.

When you open one of those sites that have background music or an autoplaying video, Chrome makes you identify the noisy tab immediately thanks to a nice audio indicator:

Chrome Tab Audio Indicator

So instead of muting the whole machine, looking for the pause button in the page, or maybe closing the tab altogether, you can just right click on the tab and select Mute Tab.

Right click menu on Chrome Tab that has the Mute Tab option

From the reactions I got when I posted that comment, it seemed clear to me that not many people were aware of this feature. Did you know about it already?