Two Months Straight
The following two months, from July through August, are an absolute haze in my memory. I admit it: I’ve previously used the phrase I did nothing but work to describe busy stints in my career.
But these two months, it’s nearly literal. When I’m not sleeping, eating, or exercising, I’m working.
Amazingly, the work itself is not unbearably stressful during this period, but I’m going at it constantly. I’m actually more stressed out not working, because of the enormous scale of what we’re trying to achieve — I feel more comfortable hacking away at it than idling.
To my surprise, I adapted very easily to this lifestyle. I said that I wanted to work at a place that allowed me to create my own solutions to problems, and Hell didn’t disappoint me on this front. I worked with our engineering team to figure out what needed to be done, and then I’d implement it.
A couple of things made it easier: a) I worked from home continually and b) I didn’t have to do a whole lot of ‘knowledge upload’ type tasks like I did with previous employers — the background knowledge I needed to succeed in this role was, thankfully, already present in my brain. I already had 90% of the required skills, so for the most part, it’s all about just taking care of business.
But goddamn, there’s a lot of business.
Even though I’m not all that stressed out, tensions are running really high in the engineering group.
I knew because I worked so closely with them. We had multiple meetings every day, and were on Skype calls with one another constantly on top of that.
Two people in particular clearly rubbed one another the wrong way. They’d vocally disagree with one another at every opportunity. This was a problem because they’re making design decisions and need to play nice in order for us to move forward with software development. Imagine if you’re remodeling a kitchen and one person says they want double ovens and an island in the middle of the space and all stainless steel appliances, and the other says: We don’t need a kitchen at all. Let’s turn it into an intergalactic space arcade instead, and just use a hotplate in our bathroom to heat up soup at night when we’re hungry.
When the gulf between agreement is that wide, there will never be peace.
Luckily, I viewed this as Not My Problem so it didn’t really bother me all that much. On the other hand, the discord was driving Namager absolutely insane. He asked me several times for advice, and after a while I told him to pick his least favorite and fire them.
Not because I was being mean. But because it seemed to me that it was a conflict of core personalities, and those types of things rarely get resolved.
I mention this because when you work in the close quarters of a startup, who you are working with becomes very important. At a big company, if you don’t like someone, chances are pretty good that you can simply ignore them. But when you work with a grand total of nine people, there’s no escape from any of them.
And believe me, I thought a lot about this fact, as I had my own personality incompatibilities to deal with.