My first day itself was unusually pleasant but not surprising. I strolled casually to the Mumbai airport where I met my future teammates. Clueless of who I was, I saw some surprised gazes. Being the introvert he is, the only friend-colleague I had there didn’t introduce me. Not that I’m very outspoken myself but this annual trip wasn’t gonna be fun if I keep to myself. I started talking to some random people, from the Frappe team. I moved ahead, sat with some others, talked to a VP and quickly realized that positions or titles matter little in this company. With fear and excitement, I was thinking of ways to break the ice. Come evening, I was sitting there with a drink in my hand with the very same strangers that I had met in the morning. This is one of the things I’ll remember for life.
A small gripe I have is that my actual day one began just after the trip. So no telling the grandkids that I got paid to take a vacation with this new company. Oh well.
1st trip: Take off from Mumbai
How it all began
Anyway, let me take you back to where all this started. One day I was talking to my college friend, Faris. He said Frappe had an opening for a writer and I should interview. I asked him to set up an interview for me. His reply was “Apply via the web form”. So much for skipping the line I thought to myself and applied. The interview ended with the most casual “Okay, let us know”. For 15 minutes, I was pondering whether I was selected or not.
Back to the trip, actually back from the trip, I was energized and having met most of the team, I was ready for my journey with Frappe. Initially, I was getting to know the product like everyone. It was a bit challenging with scarce documentation/resources.
Persistence and consistency
Lo and behold, I was to start with ERPNext product documentation, quite different from what was initially discussed with me during the interview but what the hell how hard could it be, or so I thought. I was fixing the grammar like a good kid. Then I was told that the structure wasn’t proper, documentation needs information hierarchy. Ok cool. But after fixing the structure, the next problem appeared, the content wasn’t complete!
The first three months were okay. Wait a minute! I thought this was just some cleanup and would be over in a month. Four months go by and I feel the pressure, it was very daunting and felt never-ending. Added positive pressure from our boss added to the stress. I pulled through.
Throughout, I kept finding silver linings that’d keep me on track. When I looked at what other people deal with, often times I felt that my line of work has lesser problems and dependencies.
The result? All in all seven months later, I can proudly say that I completed the core ERPNext product documentation. Now, I review ERPNext product documentation to maintain quality.
While I disliked doing dedicated documentation for a long time, it paid off well in the long run. The frustration was temporary, the victory is permanent.
Talking at a conference!
The hard work put in documentation compounded itself excellently as I got an opportunity to present a talk at the ERPNext Conference 2019. It was was the first time I was going to talk in front of around 200 people and I was pretty nervous. Practicing a couple of times the previous day sure helped and my presentation was well received with applause. I felt almost like a celebrity after my talk since many people came to congratulate and appreciate my talk and work. I even got a few business cards which felt great.
Presenting at the ERPNext Conference 2019
Even before I was done with documentation, my presence was requested elsewhere. One of our most driven employees had taken up this marketing gig and we needed feature pages to demonstrate ERPNext’s features. Went on to do that, after a couple of pages, my state of mind quickly released from the monotony of documentation, I let my creativity flow. Always had a penchant towards humor, I made some pages which were funny, some which were smart funny, and some which were downright crass and aggressive, but still funny.
Having shipped a good number of feature pages, my attention was demanded towards something else - white papers. More specifically, business white papers. So I wrote one, turned out to be way bigger than I expected, finishing up another with this blog. Both of them of course outlined by our leader, Rushabh. He literally said, “I’ll give bullet points, Prasad will write them”. It seemed funny and encouraging at the same time. I wasn’t sure if I could pull off a white paper, but then he probably saw something in me that I didn’t at that point. I ended up writing a pretty decent white paper for which I also designed covers and made diagrams. My confidence hit a new high at this point.
When I was finishing up my first white paper, there again I was presented with an opportunity to write the website copy for an upcoming product. It was a great experience writing a whole website’s copy from scratch. Mentally taxing but fun.
1 Year timeline representation
As I was typing away my second white paper, there were talks of using comic style design for a product website. Rushabh had written scripts for two strips for it. He asked me if I’ll write more like this. I smiled and gladly accepted. This is something I had never done before but at this point, everything was anyway. I read up some existential comics, xkcd, and Dilbert. Of the lot, I only found Dilbert to be somewhat funny. Clever comics are okay but I wanted mine to be funny. I didn’t really find many ha-ha funny comics so I tried my best to make humorous strips. Some turned out to be great, some not funny but good.
Someone wise once said- knowledge only increases by sharing. To that end, I tried to share what I could. From creating notes on how to write open day blogs to an internal communications guideline are some of the other things I work on to contribute my knowledge.
When I joined, Bombsquad was all I heard in the name of recreation. In fact, that was the activity of choice during my first trip while I was playing UNO with a couple of others. What I experienced during my first year was that everyone went to football each Friday. I did not join initially but did later on. Although my stamina for running matched that of a 60-year-old chain smoker, I enjoyed the experience every time. My stamina got better eventually but of late we’ve been veering more towards cricket as a Friday sport.
We also have Open Day once a month where everyone gets the opportunity to present the work they’ve done the previous month. This is a good platform to showcase and keeps everyone on their toes. Then there are Friday forums where we discuss broad topics and everyone in the company is free to stay or skip the discussion. I don’t talk a lot in these yet, I like to listen more and understand before adding anything of value.
A lot of firsts
From the first time traveling with a bunch of strangers to the first time using a MacBook to the first time writing white papers and comic strips, there have been plenty of opportunities. I am going to send out my first newsletter soon and optimistically set my first step in marketing and leadership in the coming months. Although, as I write this blog, I have no clue what I’m going to send in the newsletter or do in marketing but my confidence and self-awareness give me courage.
Paddled a Kayak for the first time
Among other things, I also set foot in a gym for the first time in my life. Going to the gym regularly feels great and also teaches you a lot about time management and the importance of waking up early.
Low key confession: This is my first real blog after joining Frappe.
End the year with another trip
My first year ended with another trip and I feel smarter in some ways while ignorant in others. Either way, I’m pretty good at what I do and there’s considerable job satisfaction.
On this second trip, Rushabh decided to shake things up and provoked everyone to think about things very differently.
2nd trip: Returning to Mumbai
Frappe has put several amazing opportunities on my road and I have Rushabh to thank, for believing in me. My journey has been rocky but pretty safe for the most part. Not many serious things at stake in case of failure. The cocky subtitle aside, my nature is quite reserved.
So I look forward to taking more risks, making mistakes, and actually learning from them and bonus points if it contributes to the growth of a company.