Our designer, Carol, had her year anniversary yesterday. She put together this awesome collection of thoughts about her first year at MindSumo and in the Bay Area:
I don’t really know what I was looking for when I started applying to jobs in the Bay Area. From my hometown in suburbia Maryland, California was a vast and sunny land of opportunity, where small companies produced big ideas and made a lot of money, where all you needed was your passion and your mind, and where everyone had compost bins and grew their own arugula. Basically, I had watched The Social Network and that’s about it. I didn’t really know what a “start-up” was. I didn’t have a smartphone. My laptop, if you can even call it that, was a 6 year old lunker of a Dell (it was lime green, ran Windows Vista, and I loved it).
Being at MindSumo has been a journey unto itself. It has been a humbling learning experience, and an empowering opportunity for growth. With such a small team, we don’t live the glamorous techie life perpetuated by larger companies. We don’t recline in pod chairs in glass lounges. We don’t have kitchens stocked with organic fruit, granola, and kombucha on tap. We don’t drive our electric cars to work. We have an office (finally), some IKEA furniture, and our own computers. We have each other and we have a lot of fun. Aww. </sap>
Anyway, I had started writing a rather epic personal essay but scrapped it in order to make this ramble more internet friendly. And so, I present to you 6 things I’ve learned from one year at this great little company.
1) Age doesn’t matter
I will not disclose the average age of our company but I will say that it has made me realize that you are capable of great things at any point in your life.
2) Good design is not just about making things pretty
Growing up in the 90s and watching a lot of anime made me want to embellish everything with swirls and sparkles and animated gifs. It’s not user-friendly. Don’t do it.
3) Engineers can be fun people too
Not always, but our engineers are almost like normal people!
4) Fake it ‘til you make it
I do feel like one needs a certain level of competence and skill to get anywhere, but a lot of it does come from a learned and well-practiced art of selling yourself. If you say you can do something (ie make a website) that you can only sort-of-do, then, well, you’re forced to learn it right? All’s well that ends well.
5) It’s not always sunny in San Francisco (or in Sumo-landia)
With such a small team, any sort of grudge-holding would potentially be the end. Sure, we all have different ideas about how our product should evolve, and our opinions can get rather loud sometimes but we try to keep our minds open. It’s not always possible to fulfill personal creative visions, but that’s the point of creating something as a team. Otherwise I’d just be making my own rainbow sparkly animated unicorn gif site by myself.
6) Companies don’t produce ideas, individuals do
Going off #5, as much as we are a team, we owe it to each other to put forth the best self that we individually can be. The team collaborates and refines ideas and ultimately gets things done, but each of us MindSumo-ers have our own strengths. All of our big ideas came from somebody’s “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we…”, and it’s knowing that I could be that spark at any time that keeps me going.