Insider's Perspective: My First Year At Lifeblue

by Daniel

When I started at Lifeblue (almost a year ago) I had just finished a coding hack school program for front-end development. Prior to I had some freelance gigs, but most of my professional experience was in non-profit project management.

Startling First Impression

In my second interview for the position at Lifeblue, one of the owners shared that if I were hired, I should expect to feel like I’m failing for the first six months. In fact, they would expect me to fail. While failure is not something I really like to embrace, it was somewhat of a comfort to know I would be joining a company where failure was expected, perhaps even encouraged.

So when I showed up for my first day on the job, I was eager to prove myself and curious to see if time would show that I had picked the best place to start my new career. I was also eager to get the whole ‘failing’ period behind me.

Failing Forward

I have to admit that after eleven months I find that I’m still not out of the ‘failing’ phase. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of successes, but I’m still seeing failures. But I don’t want to leave the ‘failing’ phase. If you aren’t experiencing failure then you are probably not pushing yourself enough. I have no desire to settle into complacency. I want ‘Onward and Upward’ to be my motto.

That entrepreneurial spirit has really been fostered during my time at Lifeblue. I have been encouraged to take chances, voice my own opinion and take ownership of projects. We work on small teams with a company philosophy that values collaboration and exploration.

We have to be lean (deadlines are quick) but quality is always being pushed for. As a company, we are just small enough to feel like a start up, but because we have multiple teams within we are able to lean on the expertise of others when we get stuck. The work ethic and inventiveness of my teammates is inspiring. I’ve seen some absolutely amazing problem solving happen and in a myriad of contexts (design, code, strategy, etc.).

Not Just a Cog

I don’t want to sound like a cool-aid drinker. I know that Lifeblue may not be where just anyone would want to work; but for me I really don’t think I could have picked a better fit. I find the work we do challenging and interesting, but perhaps more importantly I feel like I’m valued as a person. I feel it in an abundance of ways: lunch conversations, status meetings, post project retros, shared coffee tastings in the break room, etc. People are interested in my work but also in my opinions and in my family. I’m not just a cog here. And honestly, that feels pretty great.

For those that like lists…

My Top 5 Highlights of the Year:

  1. Going from junior front-end dev to front-end dev lead for a new team: I kind of feel like I’ve graduated or something.
  2. Heifer Hackweek: as an entire company we went to the headquarters of Heifer International to work on a myriad of projects. It was a great time with great people and I loved the sense of accomplishing something to better the world.
  3. Our Internal Design/FE Chat Rooms: I am constantly seeing great things posted from my coworkers - resources that I don’t know how I lived without, inspiring work from others in our field, and (of course) epic gifs.
  4. Team building with Dallas Comedy House: We had a professional improvisational expert take us through some improv exercises. Several nicknames were birthed that day.
  5. This:
baby head switched with dads
One of our developers and his son.

Just a little backstory to fill you in: we have a wall in our break room filled with photoshopped gems. This one is by far my favorite. That's one of our developers (in a way both figures are him, I guess). Honestly, I could stare at this for hours. It's such a great mix of hilarity and conundrum.

Sincerely,
Daniel Donaldson
Venturesmith & Front-end Developer