Thursday, November 29, 2018

What will you remember?

I'll start this post with a personal story.
I was part of the team that built the Mobile Apps Build Service (MABS). This is that piece of software that allows you to generate mobile apps using OutSystems, abstracting you from all the complexity of native mobile development. This service is supposed to run 24/7, we're targeting a 99.8% Service Level Agreement (SLA).
It was 1am on a Friday. The night was going really well, just had dinner with a beautiful curly-haired, “green eyed” woman who was now naked in my bed. I was also naked, “ready to roll” (whatever you want to call it). Suddenly I got a call. The number was from OutSystems. Well, at that time of the night it could only be support teams. My number was the first one to call in case of an emergency with the service. I picked-up the phone, Android builders were stuck and customers were not able to generate mobile apps.

There I was. On one hand “fireworks”, on the other issues with Android builders.

Angel vs Devil

Can you guess what I did? What would you do?
I know, you’re thinking "f*cking jump into the bed". I didn’t. I put on some boxer shorts, went to the living room and opened AWS console to start troubleshooting. 20 minutes later, great success: service was restored and… the girl was sleeping.
This was real. It happened. And now I have a story that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Of course I had to apologize to her and explain that decision. I would feel offended too if someone did the same to me. But I did the right thing. I had people depending on me. I’m not in it just for the money, I’m in it to be good at it. And that’s the only way to do it: Go big or go home.

When you're old, you won't remember the "normal days at work". You won't remember the 9 to 6pm normal work. You won't remember the routines. You'll remember the crazy stories, the nights when "shit hits the fan" (best team building events happen automatically when things go wrong), the applause when you do a kick-ass work. You won't remember the days you just did your job, you'll remember the days you excelled. That's where I want to be, where the adrenaline is.

"But... are you saying that we should always be in trouble or with high adrenaline"? Well, no. You would get really really really tired after some time. My worst job was the first one. I was working from 8am to 11pm, doing everything: project management (sort of ), writing code, talking with customers, writing specs... a recent graduate! Of course it didn't last long. I just held on for a year because I was too proud to quit. I learned a lot and I have lots of great stories to tell, but that was no way to live.

Nevertheless, point in case: give it all while you can. It's like sports: if a game has 90minutes, give it all you got until you can no longer stand up. Even if you can't breathe after 30min, doesn't matter. Be the best on those 30 min.

Side notes
- although my number was top1 on emergency call, the first task was always to actually gather the team. That story was the only example where I didn't and went on my own. Usually, we would all be ready to work after 5 to 10min. Amazing team spirit "when things are not working".
- I ended up getting married to the green eyed girl :)