All you need to solve any engineering problem is a great team and some Expo markers. The foundation of every great team is trust. Trust fuels collaboration and ingenuity. A great team is the starting point to every great startup accomplishment (more about the markers later.)
What a wonderful time to be in the tech industry! Established companies are pampering employees with great compensation packages, lavish holiday parties, and even sprucing up mundane chores by offering on-site laundry! Like all good things, they come at a cost. I grew frustrated with the inefficient use of my time largely driven by the corporate culture that made these perks possible. As a former engineering alumnus of a prominent Seattle-based Fortune 500 company, I hope to share some of my experiences.
Differentiating your products in today’s highly competitive market is extremely difficult when there’s an app for everything. You need to create something that grabs the attention of the crowd, draws them in, and leaves them wanting more. These days it’s more important than ever to create experiences that engage the user’s emotional being. I’ve dedicated my career to understanding how to form the emotional bond between people and experiences and I’m going to teach you how to do it in my blog series!
The constant state of flux that exists within the startup environment requires each person to naturally fit into the culture, easily adapt to new things, and be able to draw on their experiences to get things done. We are hiring with these three perspectives in mind because ultimately, we are building a family. Our process is deliberate, straight forward, and time intensive, which can be difficult, even for the most hardy among us.
Napster co-founder emerges in Seattle with stealth ‘innovation studio,’ calls Silicon Valley unhealthy
Jordan Ritter grew up as an only child, never really putting down roots as his family moved between California, Texas and Florida. That nomadic and sometimes lonely experience impacted Ritter in his later years as the software developer and entrepreneur started companies such as Napster, Cloudmark and Servio.
Surfing is one of my passions outside of work. Having just returned from a surf trip to Nicaragua, for this weeks blog post, I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about how some of my experiences in the water relate to experiences in my professional life. Here is a (in no way complete) list of some lessons learned from surfing and how they can be applied to the work environment.
There is a saying in mountaineering that goes: “when your reach the summit, you are only half-way through your journey.” Reminders to the mountaineer that they still have to return alive. There are too many stories of the mountaineers who made the summit but lost their way, or fell to their deaths, because they underestimated the amount of effort, coupled with a sore and overworked body, requiring the climber to resort to physical will power in making the descent possible from the mountain. It is no surprise to those who climb regularly that the descent is the most demanding and risky part of the journey, especially when you consider the amount of energy used by the climber in getting to the summit. This is often undertaken in the demanding conditions that come with high-altitude climbing, which include severe weather, extreme temperatures and incredibly thin air. An experienced mountaineer knows this and plans accordingly to remove all the preventable risks from the equation. Ensuring a successful bid for the journey requires preparation both in terms of fitness and logistics, where the climber has to be wise enough to understand themselves, the environment in which they will be going up against and how to apply their acquired experience with the right skills and equipment, to ensure a successful bid for their summit, while making sure they get back down alive.
As we’ve been growing out the team here at Ivy Softworks, I’ve been observing the traits of individuals who really thrive in startup environments. From what I have observed, the individuals that really grow and succeed at a startup share a common attitude. I’m going to call it the “Startup Attitude”.
It’s a great time to be a software engineer: salaries are high, benefits are sexy, and you have the opportunity to grow your toolkit and own what you build. Whether you are in the market looking for a greener pasture or just want a change of pace, there is still a nerve-racking technical interview that stands in between you and your future dream job.
A year ago I would have defined myself as a Culture Joiner: a good person with good ideas but mostly just looking to ride the modern experience of start-up wealth and privilege. I wanted to be doted upon, with the usual free laundry service, affirmation circles, and pizza Fridays, much more than I wanted the hard work of starting from scratch. And being totally honest, I wasn’t at all stoked about leaving behind my beloved San Francisco to move up to Seattle. On the flip side, though, I started to see Ivy Softworks less as a compromise and more as something very special and unique: I was being given the opportunity to handcraft a culture from scratch, alongside some carefully chosen badasses. That by itself just seemed incredible to me: how often does anyone ever get the chance to skip past inheriting someone else’s compromised culture, and instead build one fresh and new, with the people they care about, around the values they think are most important? Never, for most. Thus began a pretty significant shift in my mind, from being a Culture Joiner to a Culture Builder.