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πŸ”‡ Unmute Yourself

·585 words·3 mins·
In the beginning>

In the beginning #

Before joining GitHub almost a year ago, I was in the business of talking. In my role at Microsoft it was my job to talk to customers all day and help them adopt Azure. And when I say “all day” I really do mean that my agenda looked like an adult game of Tetris. Since the pandemic hit, like everyone else we moved online and that meant a full day of calls, calls, calls.

Tetris for adults

As much as I loathed sitting in calls all day, it did slowly but surely become my natural habitat. Before the pandemic I would visit customer offices physically at least once per day. Due to the pandemic we shifted to online meetings, as face-to-face conversations were still the norm. So like a fish stuck in a bowl, my world was limited to this vantage point and I accepted it as my only reality.

This fish was generated using DALLΒ·E 2
Async Collaboration>

Async Collaboration #

At GitHub however collaboration happens mostly asynchronously. We do most of our work in writing and communicate using tools like Slack - and GitHub itself of course. My team in particular is highly distributed, with people from all over the world. Our time zones start in New Zealand and extend all the way to the West Coast of the US, with a staggering eight (8) time zones in between!

Where my team is at

This means that in all practical sense we do not get to communicate in a synchronous way at all. It just isn’t practical. We only have one team meeting that is recorded and optional, and it happens once every 2 weeks. (while we are on the topic: PLEASE stop using the confusing term biweekly!)

Do not use the term "biweekly"

Dealing with anxiety>

Dealing with anxiety #

What I did not realise going into this job is that, though I am a natural talker, I am not a natural writer. Which complicated things when you are working with a team asynchronously through text. Ask any of my previous colleagues: I can quite literally talk for hours, sometimes unprompted. With talking, I have a certain confidence level and in fact had to learn over the years to shut up & listen at times. But at GitHub I cannot have the same impact without writing my thoughts down, and conveying my message to my team. Since I believe in learning by doing & showing your work, this blog is my attempt at writing in the open, and getting over my anxiety to write.

Unmuting myself>

Unmuting myself #

Kamala Harris: "Unmute yourself"

The original title for this blog post was “Writing about Writing” but as I was searching for nice gifs to go along with it, I found this nice one of Kamala Harris saying “Unmute yourself”. This is really what my goal is for 2023: to “unmute myself” by writing more.

In my Microsoft job, speaking was my main activity, so presenting in meetings and leading architectural discussions in groups was my modus operandi. Now my way of contributing has to become more writing oriented, and I am trying to get over my anxiety to actually write the way I talk. I am trying to “unmute myself” and share my thoughts with my team.

This is my first blog post ever. Me writing this is me “unmuting myself”. I hope you enjoyed reading it, and I hope to write more in the future.