Tilting at Windmills

StockSnap_SBDZFQ3UHL By Joel Taylor, Backend Engineer

In Don Quixote, a novel by Miguel de Cervantes, the title character and protagonist Don Quixote sets out as a knight-errant to fulfill his chivalrous ideals. Early in his journey, Quixote comes into view of a large number of windmills on the horizon and is convinced that he is standing before giants. For Quixote, this is a fortunate event bound to bring glory and riches that drives him to declare battle against the giants. Despite the warning cries of his squire that the giants are merely windmills, Quixote gallantly charges at them only to be knocked down when his lance is caught in a windmill’s sail.

Thanks to to the above anecdote, the idiom “tilting at windmills” was born as a way of expressing the act of jousting with imaginary enemies. I’m particularly fond of its nuanced meaning — as it’s not simply the act of believing there are enemies, but it’s believing in so much that you are compelled to engage with them whether that be by attacking, wrestling, or perhaps even fleeing.

Early in my software engineering career, I had a bone crushing fear of contributing to open source projects. In part, I made it hard on myself by following projects that were maintained by heroes in the Ruby community and felt overwhelmingly inadequate. In my mind, I saw them as giants not to be reckoned with, but unlike Quioxte, I choose to flee and refused to challenge myself.

Luckily for me, I had a mentor who was fearless (and less starstruck than me) when it came to open source and demonstrated how easy it was to dive in. Eventually I submitted my first contribution, recevied valuable feedback, and had my code accepted. While it felt great to have finally given back to open source, the big deal for me was realizing that the giants in my horizon were nothing but windmills (or in this case regular people.)

Since that realization, contributing to open source has proved to be a consistent catalyst for growth. Instead of being afraid, I’ve been able to converse, question, and learn from individuals all over the world that I respect. It’s astonishing how many lessons waiting to be explored behind the mirage of giants.

I’m convinced fear is one of the most incognito adversaries to professional growth. Just as it was with Quioxte seeing giants, the line between the fiction we tell ourselves and reality can sometimes be hard to discern. The best way I’ve found to combat that distinction is to look at my fears and ask, “am I tilting at windmills?”

Embracing Change at Work

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By Bridget Schultz, Director of Marketing

My professional career has taken me on a journey from coast-to-coast. Two years ago I couldn’t have imagined working for a company as progressive as Glassbreakers but I trusted my gut and embraced change to find myself working in Oakland, by way of Brooklyn.

I never thought I’d move to California, ever. I’m a native New Yorker through and through and started my career in the publishing industry. I never thought I’d do anything else or be anywhere else. Then, as the years went on, I felt as though something was missing. I wasn’t learning anything new and I wasn’t happy. I was craving change.

Change is inevitable no matter what industry you work in but sometimes you have to set the wheels in motion yourself. As wonderful as it was to grow my skills in the publishing world, I found that the processes were rigid and it was harder to creatively break out of the same marketing and sales cycles. That made working at a startup intriguing to me and, to be honest, a bit scary. Yet, when an opportunity arose to join the Glassbreakers team, I jumped at the chance and never looked back.

It’s hard to believe how much I’ve learned throughout the past two years. I’ve learned how to quickly present a product demo on the fly, how to compromise with teammates who have different work styles than me and that being a manager means you can’t always be diplomatic. These lessons feel like they weigh heavier at a startup because we are a small team. One day we won’t be, so it’s important to learn them now as we grow and change.

There has been a ton of growth and achievements throughout the years since Glassbreakers inception but at times it can seem like a rollercoaster. We have to ride the waves of change to survive. We are the ones who worry when we are having a bad week and rejoice when the company is doing well. The team is included in every step, from new product developments and partner successes to the real-life struggles. We work hard, together, and we share the benefits of the company’s growth, together.

Once I realized that change is a critical part to a company’s success, it helped me to move past setbacks and celebrate the wins even more. That realization has even spread to other aspects in my life and I ended last year by adopting a kitten named Cole. I never would have had the joy he’s brought into my life if I hadn’t welcomed that change.

Working here has opened my eyes to the vast opportunities that are within our reach and that it’s okay to start over in a new industry. Take that chance. Be able to roll with the punches. Be agile. Most importantly, embrace change.

Your team will be there to support you and you will learn so many new things. Challenge yourself, you won’t regret it.

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 6.59.27 PM                                  One major benefit to embracing change? Kittens!

From Boxer to Engineer

StockSnap_W0RUS6FWBJBy Anders Howerton, Software Engineer 

Prior to becoming an engineer. I was at one time ranked in the top ten amateur boxers in the country, and I also graduated top of my class as a Master of Poetry at East Anglia. These may seem disconnected from programming, but with my first line of code, I knew that I’d found the juncture between the agility fostered in boxing and the care with language required of poetry. Computer code is language as architecture. It is a series of physical responses, an orientation and a refinement (a constant reorientation) to objects.

My boxing practice was rigorous, but what was unique about it was that my coach taught not only physical skills, but he also indoctrinated an awareness of what boxing can bring to all areas of life. Finding my own personal rhythms and patterns, recognizing efficiency, honing intuition, and learning to work from and with my weaknesses – rather than avoiding them – were instrumental to staying and succeeding in the ring.

In my writing, boxing was instrumental in bringing down my watcher at the gate, in helping me to accept those innate patterns and to work with form and techniques compatible to my natural style. The tuned coordination of sense and reflex helped bring to fruition a voice and a signature.

My work with Glassbreakers has been as a generalist; I’ve handled assignments spanning from the database to the CSS. The agility fostered in my past experiences has bolstered my ability to dive in and take on a range of projects. Our mission at Glassbreakers is funneled in part through the construction of mentorship relationships. Internally, I have had the opportunity to receive the tremendous mentorship that we project in everything that we strive to do at Glassbreakers. As a result, every one of my pull requests and successes this year have been emblematic of our company’s mission, proof that what we are doing does extend power and opportunity and does foster inclusive and creative innovation. As someone with a diverse, non-traditional background, experiencing our company’s mission as it’s enacted internally is incredibly powerful, and it inspires me deeply in terms of what our team can accomplish.

Every Thing Matters

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By Jeffrey Qua, Senior Product Designer

Every thing matters.

There is no such thing as a small action. Consider every word, every step; consider anything and everything that you do. Every action you take is a complete expression of who you are and what you believe.

Every moment matters.

Every minute is precious. The moment you take your first breath the timer is running. Your time on this earth is limited.

As time is your most limited resource, consider every moment and project, and whether or not it helps you progress forward, or if it is a waste of time.

Make sure you are doing what makes you happy, because you’re never going to get that time back. Does this lead me forward?

“Is what I’m doing making me happy? Does it bring me fulfillment, joy or love?”

Be highly intentional. Ask that question. Always.

Everyone matters.

It is easy to judge blindly someone who has made a mistake, but it only serves to achieve a sense of self-righteousness or vindication. In these cases, challenge yourself to see if you have the moral fortitude to forgive someone for their actions whether it be right or wrong, in order to achieve something good out of something bad.

Be patient. Be kind. We all have faults.

No person is more important than another, and you should aspire to inspire others (and yourself) to be better.

Challenge yourself every day to rise above.

Don’t trust your emotions. Listen to it, but then ignore it. It is your interpretation of reality and is only as accurate being of your own perception. Nobody lives in the real world and we only live in our own reality based on what our senses tells us is real.

Open your heart and see it from the other person’s eyes. Feel what the other person is feeling before you speak a word. Speak with compassion; not with judgment.

Empathy leads to true understanding and allows you to effectively communicate with clarity and grace.

Every action matters.

Until your words result in action, all of your intentions, motivations, and inspirations are merely an illusion of will. Action is action and words are words.

Commit yourself to greatness by making sure every thing you do aligns with your values.

Don’t ever do anything that compromises your integrity. You will know it in your heart if you ever do anything that goes against your values, and it will erode your soul.

So if it’s worth doing, it is worth overdoing.

Be exceptional in your grand actions. Be exceptional in your small actions.

All in. All the way.

We are what we do.

No matter how large or how small.

Everything matters.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

— Will Durant

 

A New Year

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By Abhishek Chandrasekhar, Head of Engineering

A year gone by, my age plus one
And it keeps on rising like the morning sun Did I use this year well? Only time will tell
What memories from this year will prevail?

It all started with the hangover from 2016
Where we lost some of our idols and stars, our kings and queens
But now hollywood is exposed for being untrue Making me, you, and millions say #meToo

The Oscars were boring, no surprise there
But some last minute antics made everyone glare Moonlight? LaLa Land?
Was the winner the former or latter?
I don’t even remember now, that’s how much the oscars don’t matter

Shout out to Equifax and those idiots who run it
With your staggering incompetence I don’t have to guess ‘whodunnit?’
You had one job, which was to keep our information secure
No punishment for the rich, still a burden on the poor

“DACA” and “Dreamers” become buzzwords at home
As thousands of Houstonians took shelter in the dome
To keep safe from the winds of Irma and Harvey
If we still can’t help Puerto Rico, what kind of people are we?

Through North Korean threats and constant instigation
And divided opinions on Mueller’s investigation
It’s hard to tune out the barrage of news that politics brings
But we all feel bad for Sutherland Springs

And Las Vegas and Manchester as well
There’s too many to count, and this point I can’t tell
We’re de-sensitized but at the same time we all remain bitter
What’s our president’s stance? Maybe he’ll share it on Twitter

But on a positive note, we had some happier news to remember
Beyonce had twins and Bitcoin spiked in November
The Eclipse blocked out the sun and let us stare at the sky
And not talk about politics for a minute or five

Jupiter’s red spot was captured by NASA in July
And the Women’s March in DC sought to defy
We saw a world of change and a new season of Stranger Things
We can only go up from here, let’s see what 2018 brings