Looking for a farewell gift for a colleague... but,
- You're working at a remote company and nobody wants to handle the administrative tasks of collecting money and handling deliveries?
- You're not sure if a physical gift is a good idea?
- A virtual gift is just easier?
Well, consider a Goodbye PDF.
What? What is a Goodbye PDF?
It's not anything fancy, just a PDF document of a compilation of messages from colleagues and photos of memories made during all our meetups.
I am the appointed Goodbye PDF Generator. I got this unpaid gig accidentally; The Marketing team started it first, and then requests continued to pour in for a few long-term colleagues. Over time, almost everyone will get one (as long as the team lead requests for it
and I don't dislike the person leaving).
The joke is that I'm the Grim Reaper of the company, sending leavers off to the other side 💀
What do I get out of it?
Intrinsic satisfaction and enough content for a blog post 😆
I have done a total of 24 Goodbye PDFs, and am wrapping up the 25th one this week.
I thought it'd be cute to make a quick list of the ones that I have enjoyed working on... because no lie, I definitely do enjoy working on some more than others.
Criteria of a "fun PDF"
- A good PDF theme. Each PDF is customized based on the leaver's interests. Some interests can be too specific or too granular that they are difficult to work with. The PDF theme also eventually decides how much time I need to spend on a PDF. My most time-consuming PDFs are the ones where there's a difficult theme to work with.
- Enough content, in terms of messages and photos. No content, no PDF, period. I'll always take more messages (even if it means more work) over less messages because the PDF might end up looking too sparse with too little content. I have noticed that with time, people were suffering from PDF fatigue wtf and not as many were leaving messages anymore. I eventually implemented a minimum number of messages required before I start working on one.
- People working together. I don't do it all alone, of course. Someone still needs to compile the photos too. My most memorable PDFs have been the ones where people contributed more than the required messages or photos, such as discussing interests, suggesting theme ideas, and coming up with additional content to supplement the PDF theme.
- A theme where I can learn a new design skill. You'll see an example later.
Here's the list of my Top 6.
#6. The One for the Shopaholic
This leaver just loves to shop, so what other theme than an ecommerce site!
Features include product features of the human and the messages as reviews.
I take no credit for the design idea. This was 100% the UI of this Blunt Umbrella website.
This one is double-fun because a group of us actually got him a Blunt umbrella as a birthday gift, so the whole PDF was actually an Easter egg. If only the umbrella delivery wasn't delayed for 5 months due to Covid... 🙃
#5. The One for the Scout
The leaver is a scout! How cool is that!? I know nothing about being a scout except my not-so-great attempt at being one in elementary school. I liked the camping aspect, not so much the leeches I met along the way.
Anyway, I didn't have a grand idea related to scouting except scout badges. So I went with a photobook idea. When in doubt, always go with the photobook or sketchbook idea. I got a few team members to list down some of his achievements and made badges for it.
This is one where I get to learn something new! I had to search for a bunch of Photoshop tutorials to learn how to make the badge effect. It's very simple and not too challenging that the project doesn't feel like a burden 😀
#4. The One for the Apple Fan
The leaver is a fan of Apple (among other culture things). Not only that, he left to work for Apple!
One of the ideas contributed was to make it similar to the Apple website, specifically the iPhone product pages. The outcome was hilarious. One of the main feedback was "This [PDF] goes on forever!"... yeah, pretty much just like that Apple page so I guess I nailed it 😂
The cherry on top is that everyone really went to town with his name—Juan. So. many. puns.
#3. The One for the Lego Enthusiast
This leaver likes a whole lot of things—gaming, dogs, coffee, the outdoors, the gym, and is really good at tinkering with devices and equipment. I concluded that if you need a friend, this one is useful to have wtf.
And he also likes Lego!
For some reason, I was very enthusiatic about this idea, despite it just being Lego? I had two PDFs to do this particular week, I thought I was going to die with all the work involved 😂. But do I let that stop me from implementing a very time-consuming idea? Hell no.
You see these little Lego brick men? I thought it would be cool if we made one of the leaver. So I did.
Except that there's no Lego website to customize these things (not that I have found anyway) so I had to illustrate them. I'm not an illustrator, so these took a long ass time.
The execution may not be flawless but it's good enough that you look back and remember the good times fondly. Kind of like coding—you suffer so much but because the end result is good enough and satisfying, you tend to forget the suffering.
And then you go back to coding the next day.
Long story short, I tried to make one for most of the ones leaving messages too.
#2. The One for the Comic Artist
The leaver is a very skilled comic artist. In fact, you might have seen some of the Toggl comics, either from your tech friend sharing it with you while bitching about software development, on Reddit, or as Facebook ads (I ran those ads, sorry).
So a comic-themed PDF is in order! I also converted his 'comic handwriting' into a real font for the messages and that is probably one of my favorite decisions for a PDF.
#1. The One for the Foodie
The leaver is a foodie so of course he gets a menu/cookbook-like PDF.
Features include a recipe titled "How to Make a [Leaver's Name]", where the ingredients are a list of his positive characteristics and cooking instructions are a bunch of inside jokes you wouldn't understand.
The idea is very simple but this one takes the Number 1 spot because a good number of people contributed to the additional content. It was spearheaded by a project manager who collected data from the rest of the team. This is proof that you need a good PM for a project lol. The whole project was just very pleasant thoroughout.
- For the one who loves ice-cream. We converted all names into ice-cream puns. By 'we', I mean I asked people to come up with their own if they can, and then voluntold 2 other colleagues who are much better with words to fill in the blanks later.
- For the one who loves Avatar: The Legend of Korra, where we went with an Avatar farewell book? I have no idea what I'm talking about, I just know there are elemental things involved. So I converted programming language logos into 'elements'.
The execution is terrible 😂 I was in a rush and you know, totally not an artist. But the leaver 'got' the idea even said, "I WANNA TATTOO THAT CUTE GOPHER" (caps and all) so this was a win. Fingers crossed the tattoo artist will do a much better job though.
I'll conclude this blog post with some time data!
By now, perhaps you have already figured out that I just wanted to make this blog post for fun and not actually convince you to make a Goodbye PDF for your colleagues 🙉
That said, if you're really thinking about doing something like this as a gift but wondering if it's too much effort, here's some data for you. I had tracked the time for 23 PDFs done and total time taken is 105 hours and 38 minutes. Average time per PDF is 4 hours and 35 minutes.
This is pretty cost-effective imo. Of course, this is just designing the PDF and does not include time spent chasing people to write messages and compiling photos. However, if everyone is willing, this should be easy-peasy.
You can even save more time by cutting down the customization aspect and just use a Google Slides presentation or Canva. I personally believe that even if the customization aspect is very cool, the heart of the PDF is really the farewell messages.
Some colleagues have asked me what kept me going in making all those PDFs (for free, and usually on my own time too, not company time). I see this as a personal gift to the leaver. In 10 years, the leaver's time at the company will just be a distant memory. But if they so happen to stumble upon this PDF in the Downloads folder some day, I am 100% sure that the messages in the PDF will make their day. That is enough for me.
And maybe that is enough for you too 🙂
Just a word of advice though: Seriously do try to get a Project Manager on board.