Tag Archives: work

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.



The Quick Brown Fox Takes A Nap

2 Dec

Is it possible to get carpal tunnel at the age of 24?

A few days ago, I sent an article to my mom’s friend’s husband, who I’ve done some odd jobs for in the past (data entry, transcription, editing, etc). I think this reminded him I exist and desperately need any dollars he can throw my way, so he asked if – and I quote – I was available to do a menial task for him.

So here I am, typing up a training manual.

Weirdly, I really like typing. When we learned how to type in sixth grade, I practiced all the time. And I don’t mean I sat at a keyboard and did the exercises like a normal human. I mean that while people were talking, I saw the keystrokes in my head. I fell asleep at night imagining the keyboard and twitching my fingers in the right directions to spell out my thoughts.

While this made me a weird eleven-year-old, it also made me an EXTREMELY fast typist. I’ve taken Words Per Minute (WPM) tests a few times, both at temp agencies and online, and I never get lower than the mid-90s (I just took one for fun right now and I got 110….that seems a little crazo even to me though).

Since I like typing, I’m good at it, I have a bit of time, and I really need the money, I took the job without hesitation. I didn’t really stop to consider exactly how long it would take. I’m good at this! How long could it be?

The answer is: longer than I thought. I won’t make excuses or anything; it is a training manual and I’m pretty lucky that a good portion of it is in bullets. But I do hope that my wrists and finger-joints won’t be mad at me forever for this.

(Good news! I was just glancing through the binder and discovered that I’m probably about a third of the way through. Apparently the other sections are significantly shorter than the ones I’ve been slogging through. Huzzah.)

Hang in there, hands!

I’ve even been following AJ Jacobs’ advice from Drop Dead Healthy and I try and shake my hands out whenever I remember, which seems close to the “every ten minutes” advice. I do wish I had a treadmill desk though.

What are some of the stranger odd jobs you’ve taken on when you needed the cash, blogosphere?


29 Nov

I saw something gross today.

I was walking back from lunch to my internship (lunch = peanut butter and jelly from home eaten at Caribou Coffee next door) and was generally in a pretty good mood. I really like the internship, and there was a good amount of work to do that I was actually looking forward to. The sun was shining and all that.

The woman walking in front of me was smoking. So, you know, ew right there. Walking behind a smoker is very unpleasant.


Then, without missing a stride, she threw her cigarette on the ground and kept walking.

It’s gross enough to throw your cigarette on the ground. The world is not your personal ashtray, everyone. But then to not even have the decency to step on it, make sure it’s out? That it won’t rub against some dry leaves and spark The Great Chicago Fire 2.0?

(Yes, I know that’s near impossible – we don’t have wooden buildings in the Loop, nor do we have wooden sidewalks with kindling hanging out underneath. Nor do we rely on a firefighting system of a guy looking out from a really tall building to point the firefighters in the right direction. But still, you catch my drift.)

Normally, I’d just roll my eyes and move on after one occurrence – but the sad thing is, I saw it happen again when I was leaving work. Guy smoking, hailed a taxi, threw it on ground before getting in.

This is not a Lonely Island song, people. We do not throw things on the ground.

Don’t worry, I glared at both of them. From behind them. So the backs of their heads got some real heat.

Is this a normal occurrence? Do people still just throw their cigarette butts wherever they like?

Unemployment’s Silver Lining

28 Nov

I’m getting laid off soon.

This isn’t news to me. The small nonprofit that I work for is run by one woman (I work out of her home). She’s been doing this for five years without taking a salary and, while she does such good things, her work has pretty much turned into a desk job. So she’s bored and busy, which is not a good combination. She’d much rather spend time with her kids, grandkids, dogs, and friends. I can’t blame her – she could have been retired all this time and instead helped people all over the country.

Instead of working my usual two days a week for her, I’m moving down to one. If she can find someone to take over the business, who knows what my job might be like…but if she can’t, I shouldn’t expect to stay employed by her much longer.

(I can almost hear you out there going, “Wait, she’s giving away a job – why aren’t you taking it?” I have three good reasons:

  1. No salary
  2. No health insurance
  3. Working at home by myself

So, not the best plan for a social 24-year-old who lives with her mom and would love to move out someday.)

Today, work was pretty fun though – I’m sort of running out of work to do, so after I finished, we went on a field trip to Party City to get toys for children she’s visiting on a tour of a Costa Rica nonprofit. We went with hacky sack soccer balls and Yo Gabba Gabba bubble dip. Seemed like some solid choices.

Then we were visited by a friend of a friend of my boss who sells Israeli jewelry. He showed her his pieces, which she examined quite thoroughly. They were GORGEOUS pieces, but the reasonable ones were $40 earrings and $70 necklaces. Believe me, I know that’s very reasonable for fine jewelry, but not in the case of a soon-to-be-laid-off worker. So I watched and sighed.

The irony of the situation didn’t strike me until the third or fourth case. Here I am, with an uncertain employment future in my soon-to-be-ex-boss’s house, watching display after display of fine jewelry pass me by during my normal work hours. A little cruel, don’t you think?

But I really can’t complain…after I recommended a pair to her for one of her daughters-in-law, she insisted I try them on and then insisted on buying them for me as a Hanukkah present.

Goodbye, irony. Hello, gorgeous silver flower drops and a Roti gift card for my boss.