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Marking 2 years at Obvious

I'm at my most introspective in December. And a work anniversary in that month leads me to look back at the year in work and make sense of the good, the bad, the exciting and the confusing.

I complete 2 years at Obvious today. I joined partly because their focus on craft resonated with me and I had heard only good things about the culture. But part of my decision was rooted in intuition. Even though I wasn’t entirely sure about what my role would look like, my gut told me that I wanted to be at Obvious.

But maybe my gut was wrong. Because a couple of weeks in, I didn’t have too much to do at Obvious and I found myself wondering whether they even needed to grow their Communications team. Maybe I had messed up. Maybe I’d done the wrong thing by leaving a fast startup environment and joining an agency full of designers and engineers, where I was one of two writers. 

Around the same time, I remembered something a colleague said to me in my first week at Obvious. He had said that Obvious has not had many people in the Communications team and that meant I had the opportunity to shape my role (and shape the Communications team) the way I liked. The path wasn’t laid out for me, but that was probably not a bad thing.

So instead of waiting around and doubting my gut, I decided to make myself useful. I saw that we were looking for a UX writer to work on a client project and I volunteered myself for it. I must have done something right, because UX writing is now a strength at Obvious. No designs go live without being intentional about the words. I’d like to take some credit in advocating for paying attention to the words and for writing the right words.

I, of course, looked at internal comms, which is what I was hired for. Writing for social media and writing for the website is the usual. The harder problem here was to overcome the documentation debt the org had acquired over 10 years. My personal win was to find ways to document projects we did 6-7 years ago and make that work visible for others to see.

And my latest pet project has been The Residency. Along with learning the most mundane things about taxation and invoicing, I've learnt how to get the first five customers, how to sell, how to negotiate. Setting up The Residency has been like setting up a small one-person business.

So when someone asks me what I do at Obvious, I rarely have a one-word answer. How do I condense all this to just a word? There’s UX writing, sales and marketing, and building another revenue stream for the org. And it's incredibly hard to capture the more intangible contributions to culture, to ways of working, to org mindset. 

There's a lot I've done in the last two years and I’m not sure right now about how all of it adds up, but I’m sure the dots will connect backwards. They always do.

It’s taken a lot of courage to embrace this ambiguity. I’m going to give myself a pat on the back for that. I also know that a secure workplace like Obvious made it possible for me to do that. It’s only when you feel secure that this ambiguity can open up the way for new ideas and new kinds of roles.

My career has been a series of happy accidents and of taking leaps of faith. Things have never worked out the way I plan for them to, but instead they always work out better. So my wish for the coming year at work, and for the rest of my career is that I hope there are more lucky accidents, that I always have good people to work with and exciting problems to solve.

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