I joined Base two years ago. Today I want to share how I feel about Base after the, always biased, enthusiasm of a new hire wore off.
Null Till You Ship It
“A civilization is built on what is required of men, not on that which is provided for them.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
I like to create things. Seeing how my imagination is turned into reality gives me this rewarding sensation that I can do anything.
Do you remember this feeling when you are tired after a whole day, even though you haven’t actually done much? I don’t. No more. Here’s my commit activity. You can actually see my holidays, because most of work days are about coding.
Everybody here wants to do something important each day. And every month I am amazed to see how much we, together, have accomplished during that month. Doers value their time. There are no wasted days.
Do you know these “big changes” people talk about, years pass, and nothing happens? I’ve witnessed and helped such changes happen at Base. Everyday we do things that elsewhere aren’t even started because “that’s too much work”.
Base is a product company. My job is to make that product happen. I’m required to do it, I’m enabled to do it and frankly, that’s all I need to be happy at work.
The Five People
“A group of people excited about undertaking big challenges, thinking hard, getting it right and executing relentlessly. No bullshit, no patience for mediocrity and no drama. Striving to be better and smarter in everything they do.“ — Tal Tsfany, on Base culture
I like this idea of “being an average of the five people you spend the most time with”. So who have I become after two years with my coworkers?
I already talked about this joy of accomplishment. It is addicting. By finishing many work projects, I became more motivated to finish my private ones. In the past I often started something and never went back to it. Now I’m more likely to “ship it”.
All our product decisions are based on data. If we don’t have it, we first create ways to obtain it, then we decide. I’ve noticed that such data-based discussions have raised my personal standard for information quality. It is now very hard to watch news.
Another part of data-driven approach is making plans and setting measurable goals. All projects in Base have a defined “measure of success”. We don’t start until we know we’ll be able to see if things worked out the way they were intended. I’d lie if I said I always do it, but learning and using the same techniques has helped me in my private life. For example I managed to stick with long-term training plans that I always struggled to maintain for more than a month or two.
No office politics. No bullshit. No drama. Imagine you work with people who don’t spend lunch complaining about upper management, office supplies or stupid clients and stupid bug reports. Welcome to my world. In Base we value direct communication. If you have a problem with anybody, you talk with them. If you sit in a meeting you don’t find interesting, you can leave. Your work environment is your responsibility.
You know, it all may sound trivial and obvious. But after being with such people, seeing them in action and even more importantly, the positive impact they have, you start to live this way too.
“Apollo succeeded at critical moments like this because the bosses had no hesitation about assigning crucial tasks to one individual, trusting his judgment, and then getting out of his way.” ― Gene Kranz, Failure Is Not an Option
Failure Is Not an Option is an interesting book with a lot of information about NASA and Apollo space missions. More importantly, about the people behind them.
I’d read it and thought, how come many years ago some fresh graduates with no experience had managed to land on the Moon, while I was at work writing yet another simple back-end server that could be replaced with existing solutions? I got this disturbing feeling that I could do better than that. We used to have dreams as big as Moon landing, why settle for less?
Today I’m at Base. We’re competing with Salesforce, Microsoft, Oracle and other great players. I’m working on products that no man has built before. Everyday I know I must extend my limits to achieve our goals. Everyday I’m humbled by the complexity of our mission. And everyday I’m confident we’ll do it.
And, by coincidence or universe’s plan, my project is called Apollo.