Tag Archives: startup

Receiving a Random Act of Kindness

3 Apr

Today, something amazing happened.

A few months ago, I signed up to be a beta tester for a site called GiftOn (and if you want to be a beta tester too, you definitely should sign up right now!). It’s a fun concept – people share stories of the best gifts they’ve gotten/received, and users can search for gift ideas by occasion, relationship, type of gift, interests, etc. I’ve submitted two stories so far, and one was a story about taking my boon companion for a bookish birthday:

“My friend and I are huge bookworms. We’ve bonded over books and spent many a happy day wandering bookstores (and lamenting the fact that we can’t afford everything on our to-read list). So for her birthday, I came up with the present I would want to be given myself.

I gave her a homemade coupon for a day out, in which I took us out for a meal (most likely brunch) and then we went to a bookstore – and whatever book she wanted was on me! She loved it and we had a great day together.

This had the bonus of being a shared experience sort of gift as well as having a physical reminder of our fun day out. We both loved it!”

I submitted this story a few weeks ago and got some nice reactions and comments, then gradually forgot about it.

Until today.

Today, the site’s founder (who is a lovely person I networked with on The Job Hunt) sent me an excited email with a subject line I would have rejected as spam from someone I didn’t know: “Surprise gift for you!!! $100 cash for books!!!

I furrowed my brow and immediately opened the email. She was almost as thrilled to write the email as I was to read it – someone had read my story and sent her this note:

“I probably can’t afford her whole to-read list, but I’d like to anonymously offer Allie $100 for her to buy at least a few of the books off her list.”

I sat there blinking for some time, then made some half-choked noises and looked up to see who I could stare at open-mouthed while pointing at my phone. (I did end up interrupting my coworker from dialing in to her conference call. NO REGRETS.)

I can’t get over this. I don’t know who this person is, but they made my entire day. I’ve never been on the receiving end of a Random Act of Kindness quite like this, and it made a grey Chicago day into a snuggly one with the thought of new books.

So, whoever you are – thank you!!! I can’t wait to spend the gift card (which will have a carefully-marked sticky note on it labeled “FOR BOOKS”) at local bookstores that I always want to support but can rarely afford.

I better get reading! There are new books out there waiting to be discovered!


My shelves runneth over. But only a little.


Advantages of Start-up Life

24 Mar

I’ve always loved startup culture, but until now, it’s always been as an outside observer, staring in through the window at offices who dress casually and eat snacks and laugh a lot. Now that I get to participate, I like it even more. Here’s what I’ve observed so far:

  • The office dress code is relaxed. Jeans and a nice shirt seem to be the norm, and I frequently see Converse.
  • Questions are always encouraged. When the COO mentioned our NPS score in a meeting, I waited until afterwards to ask him what that meant. After he happily explained, I started to walk away. But he called me back and demanded that next time I don’t know something, interrupt and ask him during the meeting.
  • Everyone is expected to know how the company works, inside and out – including how to use our meter, whether you have diabetes or not. (This led to an afternoon in which I discovered how much more difficult it is to draw and test blood than I ever previously understood.)
  • In a meeting to find out more about what he does, the VP of Operations literally drew a map of China and pointed out what parts of our device are made where, and how the entire shipping and fulfillment process works.
  • Hierarchy means nothing. I sit right next to said VP of Operations in our row of desks.
  • The company understands that happy employees are well-fed employees, so lunch is brought in every Wednesday, breakfast is brought in every Monday and Friday, and there is a constant supply of snacks available.
  • (On a related note, when we bemoaned the lack of pie in the office on Pi Day, we received pie.)
  • Everyone is focused, passionate, and friendly. I have yet to meet someone who acts like they’re only here because they’re paid to be. Everyone genuinely wants to be here and to do their work well. The office really feels like a team.
  • As long as you get your work done, no one really cares about the particulars of it. Work from home? Fine, just let us know. Doctor’s appointment in the middle of the day? Get yourself a check-up. Free to check emails at 8:00 at night? Neato. Work is done by 4:30? Go home. Need to say goodnight to your Israeli boyfriend at 3:30 in the afternoon? As long as it’s not during a meeting, step out and make a quick call.

One more thing I really appreciate is what my specific company actually does. Livongo empowers people with diabetes to better manage their condition. The blood sugar meter is friendly, easy to use (I’ll get the hang of it soon), and provides real-time feedback as it tracks your levels. Coaches are available for appointments anytime and, if your meter reads your levels at being outside of a normal range, you get a call within a few minutes making sure you’re okay. The testing supplies (strips and lancets) are all unlimited. And the best part is that it’s offered through employers, so employees with diabetes (and in many companies, their spouses and/or dependents too) get all of this for free.

I love that I can work for a company whose mission I completely support. Health tech startups are near and dear to my heart, and if my work helps someone else have an easier time handling a medical condition, I really feel fulfilled.