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The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work

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3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  1,584 Ratings  ·  184 Reviews
A behind-the-scenes look at the firm behind WordPress.com and the unique work culture that contributes to its phenomenal success50 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 ema ...more
Hardcover, 258 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Jossey-Bass
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Lloyd Dewolf
Sep 17, 2013 Lloyd Dewolf rated it really liked it
Shelves: business, kindle, own
Wow, is it weird to read a book about your company. I was employee 10, worked at Automattic for 5 years, and left Automattic about six months before Berkun left.

I wish I had this book to read while I was at Automattic! It would have shaped my thinking!

Of course, this is going to be my favorite Berkun book, but I need to withhold two stars because of my bias. Berkun earns back the two stars because of the pithy prose, but I'll again dock a star for the awkwardness of it all -- are there other bus
...more
Gail
Nov 23, 2013 Gail rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I generally can't stand reviews posted by folks who didn't finish the book, but this is one of them. I struggled through the first fifty pages and simply could not engage (even though I can count on one hand the number of books I've failed to finish). The book felt like a decently (but not well) written journal about one person's work experience with a bunch of ho-hum colleagues. No interesting characters, no exciting insight into the company. I wasn't planning to post a review, but I recently s ...more
aimee
Sep 03, 2013 aimee rated it it was amazing
If sometimes you wonder whether everything possible hasn't already been written about startups, business, software startups, software businesses and so on (ad nauseum), you wouldn't be alone.

Certainly, the industry which examines this seems pretty healthily active. Books, lectures, blawgs, twits, you name it, the space is pretty full.

And so it might seem strange that I'm about to recommend a book on this very subject.

But I am, wholeheartedly. I'm endorsing this, yo :)

Scott Berkun's fifth and lat
...more
Mark Polino
Aug 27, 2013 Mark Polino rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013
I'm pretty stingy with five star reviews. To get five stars a book needs to be something that I think I will come back to. It has to have the potential to become an old friend. The Year Without Pants fits that perfectly. In the book Scott Berkun trades his speaking, writing and consulting life for some time working at Automattic, the creators of blogging platform Wordpress. I've done the consulting, industry, consulting dance and it's both fun and scary to be responsible for what you recommend. ...more
Andrea
Jul 17, 2015 Andrea rated it liked it
It's interesting that a book about the author's experience working for a company with a distributed work model focuses so much on his time spent with his team during in person meet-ups.
Brooke Barnhardt
Aug 19, 2015 Brooke Barnhardt rated it really liked it
I'm very happy that this book exists as proof that remote working really does work. I hope that other companies and leaders will be inspired by it to experiment with different work models. I thought it was inspiring that Wordpress agreed to hire Scott Berkun in the first place since he wasn't like their past team leaders (not from a development background). They also don't use emails, but instead blogs called P2s. Wordpress doesn't really have deadlines or set schedules which definitely has pros ...more
Femina Ernest
Aug 24, 2015 Femina Ernest rated it really liked it
"The Year Without Pants" by Scott Berkun, one of the good book which insists " a culture which gives freedom for an employee without compromising company's productive". When Matt Mullenweg, Founder of Wordpress explains about "Participatory Journalism" auto-smile mode of mine :) turned ON. He explains Wordpress's Work culture, growth, falls and transitions from an initial. Some facts like, 15th most popular website, powers 20% of entire websites etc... shows WordPress's power of today. I am not ...more
Jon Lay
Nov 10, 2013 Jon Lay rated it it was amazing
Strongly recommend this to any non-technical dev team leads, and of course, anyone looking into remote working. Some great insight - I took a lot from it.
Marisa Eikenberry
Dec 11, 2016 Marisa Eikenberry rated it really liked it
As a WordPress developer, I picked up this book hoping I would be able to learn more about WordPress, how it came to be, and even more about remote companies. This book gave me all of that and more.

Scott Berkun talks about how he was hired onto Team Social at WordPress as a project manager and how WordPress/Automattic operates compared to other technology and remote companies like it. One of the most interesting things I learned in the first half of the book was that every employee at WordPress
...more
Eric
Jan 18, 2016 Eric added it
Scott Berkun details his year of working at Automattic, the makers of the ubiquitous WordPress platform. Having come from the relatively staid Microsoft, Berkun evidently found many aspects of the culture at Automattic intriguing. In particular, Automattic's distributed workforce (all its employees work remotely) was a big adjustment (and lent the book its tongue-in-cheek title).

At first, Berkun feared his greatest strength as a leader, his ability to get to the bottom of an issue in a face-to-f
...more
Tadas Talaikis
Aug 06, 2016 Tadas Talaikis rated it it was ok
"Thousand tickets closed over the same period." Right, haha, from my own experience, when you get an idiotic answer from tech support, you simply ditch it. It is rare thing to find a business with professional technical support. Last great one was from Stripe: a simple frontend issue, but they quickly gathered the team (!) of three people on weekend (!) and solved it. I was amazed, no one works on weekends! Usually there sits some idiot from distant country who knows nothing about the industry o ...more
Helder
Sep 16, 2013 Helder rated it it was amazing
When I read a book, I typically take a few good ideas from it and move on. Now, imagine a book where you feel directly inside the story, told from the first person perspective, where you actually feel you are there, sharing with the author and laughing with him. Imagine a book where you not only feel inspired but you actually want to take action, not after having finished to read but during the process. For me, Scott Berkun's "The Year Without Pants" is such a book. I read many business related ...more
Wendy
Oct 09, 2013 Wendy rated it really liked it
I'm still trying to corral my thoughts about this book as I just finished it last night, but what's top of mind is that the book seemed to straddle two identities: a business book with the requisite take-aways and applications for other business people to learn from and a biographical sketch or first-person profile of Automattic and WordPress.com. It leans more heavily in my opinion on the latter.

I think the book would have been stronger had it focused on one or the other, but I found it an inte
...more
Lance Willett
Sep 24, 2013 Lance Willett rated it really liked it
This book provides an insider's look at the fascinating adventure of working at a tech company running a very popular web platform. Even more interesting since I was on the inside during the author's tenure. For "laypeople" I love how the book provides a clear view of the history and culture behind Automattic and WordPress. I'll be giving copies to my family. I loved the clear treatment of remote work and distributed companies, and I think it'll have an impact on how people think about their wor ...more
Brandon
Jan 09, 2014 Brandon rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
The narrative ends up reading, ironically, like a blog about working at WordPress. Berkun is a bit all over the place, and while he touches on some unique topics like the culture of WP, I couldn't help feeling that the picture is so very incomplete. He ran team Social, and yet the presence of any non team members is noticeable. As if there was no collective social personality of the company. Perhaps this is a net result of the distributed workplace. It's a quick read.
Niko Gamulin
Nov 13, 2013 Niko Gamulin rated it really liked it
Good description of goal-oriented company and the way the meaningful things with global impact are completed. What matters are the results and not the ammount of time killed in the office. According to its success Wordpress is a proof that physical spaces, job titles, and rules are irrelevant for idea-driven people.
Natalie
Jul 09, 2015 Natalie rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this story of Wordpress / Automatic and their work environment as experienced and shared by the author. As a remote worker myself, I liked the honest reflection on adjusting to work from home / work from anywhere vs in person. I think the book does a good job of illustrating the value of both remote and in person connections and how they're different.
Robert Fayle
Aug 28, 2013 Robert Fayle rated it it was amazing
A great book on what it is to work remotely and/or lead a geographically distributed team. Scott's first person narrative makes this an easy read and makes you feel as though this is a personal conversation over dinner with the author.
Tadhg Maccarthy
Sep 05, 2013 Tadhg Maccarthy rated it really liked it
Shelves: work-related, adapt
Good to get an insight into a major web distributed company - and how it operates. Maybe too much detail on the projects and gettogethers. Would have been good to have the perspective of other employees. Well written.
Jowanza Joseph
Nov 18, 2013 Jowanza Joseph rated it really liked it
A great look at the culture at Automattic and into distributed work environments. I learned a ton about myself and how I can work better. I also learned that If I ever start a company I hope to make it such that I can hire workers in a distributed fashion.
Matthias
Oct 17, 2013 Matthias rated it it was amazing
No simple conclusions and tips but great advice in general and many things to think about. Paired with an easy read I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in this topic.
AJ Ostrow
Aug 06, 2015 AJ Ostrow rated it it was amazing
Scott's surprisingly candid. I really enjoyed his inclusion of one-on-one skype chats and stories of meetups abroad. It was also interesting for me to size up his team, feature list, and schedule.
Samson Sunny
May 12, 2017 Samson Sunny rated it it was amazing
Scott Berkun is a former employee of Automattic. Here in this book he narrates his experience on working in Automattic which is the parent company of famous blogging website wordpress.com. The company is started by Matt Mullenweg after he finished his studies. But still the company look like a startup. Wordpress is a opensource project and which is build by many volunteers around the world.

All employees were working remotely and they meet once in a year. So far so many meet ups held in many cou
...more
Amy
Jul 12, 2017 Amy rated it it was ok
2.5 Berkun offers a insight into how actual work in a virtual office get's done. It was a lot of tech jargon that didn't make a lot of sense to me, but I tried to glean is insights on teams, leadership and innovation. It's worth noting that his team is very homogeneous - all males, all white and all roughly around the same age.
Howard
May 23, 2017 Howard rated it really liked it
This is an inspiring narrative about a new way of working, coupled with a new way of thinking about software. To those of us who have been around open source, the concepts are familiar, but hearing a first hand account of their implementation was highly engaging.
Christian Faller
May 30, 2017 Christian Faller rated it liked it
Not what I expected (too little practical takeaways about the actual "future of work") but entertaining nonetheless.
Taavi
Jul 04, 2017 Taavi rated it really liked it
Smooth read about AutoMATTic aka Wordpress and their growth from 50- ~120 employees with many insides to leading, teamwork and product development.
Perttu
May 06, 2017 Perttu rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
Soft writing which was completely devoid of critical thinking ensured I couldn't finish this book. I gave up after one third, which author spent just marveling at WordPress culture.
Chris Hendriks
May 14, 2017 Chris Hendriks rated it liked it
It was not shocking, maybe I'm old-fashioned, I think having my colleagues near is best or I heard to many new ideas and I'm becoming deaf.
Jujhar Singh
Jun 02, 2017 Jujhar Singh rated it liked it
Good book.
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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 have appeared in the The Washington Post, the New York Times, Wired, the Economist, Fast Company, Forbes, CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, National Public Radio and other media. His many popular essays and ente ...more
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“Fear of this uncertainty motivates people to spin their wheels for days considering all the possible outcomes, calculating them in a spreadsheet using utility cost analysis or some other fancy method that even the guy who invented it doesn't use. But all that analysis just keeps you on the sidelines. Often you're better off flipping a coin and moving in any clear direction. Once you start moving, you get new data regardless of where you're trying to go. And the new data makes the next decision and the next better than staying on the sidelines desperately trying to predict the future without that time machine.” 4 likes
“The bottleneck is never code or creativity; it's lack of clarity.” 3 likes
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