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Polywork is Much More Than the New LinkedIn

Rich Burroughs
Senior Developer Advocate at Loft Labs
Originally published at blog.richburroughs.dev ・6 min read

One day I was on Twitter minding my own shitposts when I saw this tweet:

Cassidy is on the amazing Developer Experience team at Netlify, and she creates fantastic content. She's so smart and funny . I'm a legit Casidoo fanboy, I'm not going to lie. So I figured if she was involved with this Polywork thing, I should check it out. When I looked at her page there I was very intrigued.

I'd been looking for a while for a place to showcase the work I do. I work in Developer Relations for software companies, and I do a lot of writing. But I also share my ideas in my podcast about Kubernetes, in conference talks, on YouTube, and way too often on Twitter dot com. I've wanted a central location to showcase all of that work, but I didn't want to build and maintain it. I could have just made a blog and linked to all of the things, but that didn't feel right either. And nothing personal LinkedIn, but you are not the platform for this purpose for me. I wouldn't want to post a lot of things I tweet there.

Polywork was not yet open to the public (it's still not as of this writing). I sent Cassidy a DM on Twitter, and she was kind enough to give me an invite code. And once I started playing around I was hooked. It was super easy to add things and begin generating a timeline of my work. It didn't take me too long to see the power in Polywork.

As I started setting up my profile, I noticed that another user had a badge labeled College Dropout. I've dropped out of college twice and joked on Twitter that I wanted to add it twice.

Soon I was DMing with the PolyworkHQ Twitter account, and someone had made me a badge that said College Dropout x2. I thought it was so funny and kind to listen to a user like that and engage.

I later found out that it was Polywork founder and CEO Peter Johnston who was answering those DMs late on a weeknight. (I think/hope Peter has since hired someone to do social media since then). We got to talking, and Peter's enthusiasm inspired me. He was thrilled that people were trying out Polywork and having so much fun.

Soon after that, I noticed that Cassidy had a blue checkmark on her profile, and I asked Peter about getting verified. We scheduled time to hop on a Zoom call. I showed Peter my ID, and that was it. It just took a few minutes. Peter told me that he thought it was a person's right to verify their identity, which was so refreshing to hear. I've complained many times about Twitter's elitist verification system, which often ignores the people who need to protect their identities the most.

I kept filling out my Polywork timeline, and I was having a lot of fun doing it, but eventually I had a much bigger realization about how Polywork could help me. I have ADHD. I'm middle-aged and was diagnosed in December of 2020. It's had an enormous impact on my life. There are a lot of behaviors that I had recognized in myself well before I was diagnosed, and one of them is that I'm terrible at remembering what I've accomplished. You know the thing where review time comes at work, and you're supposed to list the things you did that year? I usually draw a blank. I end up in a mad scramble looking through old tickets and Google Docs to figure out what happened. Or maybe I decide to be proactive and make a brag doc to track my accomplishments in, but I forget it exists.

There are a few reasons that I think I have this problem. First, working memory problems are one of the main symptoms of ADHD. That thing where you walk into a room and then can't remember why you went in there, that's me, over and over. Everyone's experience with ADHD is different, and I'm going to be generalizing some here, but that's a common experience for me. Second, the relationship ADHD people have with time is very different than neurotypical folks. It's often described as living in two times, "Now, and not now." I tend to be stuck in the present or daydreaming a lot of the time. Daydreaming can be great for creativity but not so great at review time. And third, I'm not great at appreciating things that I achieve. My excellent ADHD coach Dusty Chipura talks about the fact that we ADHD folks don't take the time to enjoy when we've completed something, to pat ourselves on the backs. I'm definitely that way. All three of these factors add up to me being lucky to remember what I did a couple of weeks ago, let alone last quarter.

As I was looking over my timeline one day, it struck me that Polywork could help me with this problem. My timeline is a map of the things I've accomplished. Items that aren't public won't be there, of course, but most of what I do is public. Having that map could help at performance review time, but it goes beyond that. I do my podcast as a hobby because I love the Kubernetes community. I've started this blog up because I want to write about things outside of work. I make TikTok videos and tweet about ADHD because it feels important to talk about. People have reached out to tell me that hearing my experiences with ADHD led to them getting diagnosed or getting their child diagnosed. Those are all things that I should give myself credit for.

I have a lot of self-image issues, which I think is pretty common for folks with ADHD. I was the kid in high school who got told that I needed to apply myself. I either got As in classes or barely passed, depending on whether I gave a shit about the subject. I really did drop out of college twice. I joke about it now, but it's not always been funny. Folks diagnosed with ADHD as adults have often spent many years hearing people tell them that they're losers or telling themselves that.

The day that I had that realization about the timeline is the day that Polywork went from a cute tool that was going to help me build an online resume to something different. I realized it was much more than the new LinkedIn. I talked about my thoughts on Twitter, and Peter reached out to tell me how excited the team was to hear about my discovery. It wasn't a use case they anticipated. I hadn't expected it either.

Polywork's tagline is "For Multiplayers." I didn't understand what that meant at first, but now I do. I create things for work, but I also make things for myself or the communities I'm a part of. Those things are all me. I'm more than just my job, and so are you.

As of this writing, you still need an invite code to sign up for Polywork. Since you've been kind enough to read my thoughts, I'm going to share my invite code with you so you can try Polywork yourself. Go sign up at polywork.com and use the code "richvip" (without the quotes). It's free. I'm not being compensated for folks signing up or for writing this.

I hope you enjoy Polywork as much as I have, and I'd love to hear about your experiences.

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