I love hearing about how the positive effects of what we learn ripple out into the world. Something seemingly small can have lasting impact.
🎉 thoughtbot20 CTA: Tell us something meaningful you’ve learned and how you’ve applied it in work or life.
Looking back on 20 years of thoughtbot, it’s clear we’ve accumulated a ton of collective wisdom and experience. We always have the opportunity to share and continually learn from each other and our larger community.
To celebrate our 20th anniversary, I invited past and present team members to share something meaningful they learned while at thoughtbot and how they’ve applied it in work, life, or both. Here’s what they said:
thoughtbot taught me to default to being open, trust my peers, and to strive to be better in everything I do.
— Eric Bailey
I learned to never be afraid to ask questions and to be open about my understanding of the problem the team is trying to tackle.
— Dimitry Nazarov
A deep appreciation for sitting in discomfort/conflict and asking meaningful questions. Will forever miss the NYC lunch table.
Code less, question more. Some of the most experienced developers I know ask a lot of questions before begining to work on a feature. This often leads to a simpler implementation, or sometimes, no implementation at all since the questioning revealed more research was needed.
I find that this “question first” mindset is helpful in other areas of consulting, and life as well. It provides an opportunity for others to share their ideas and feel heard.
— Steve Polito
The way we run weekly retrospectives at thoughtbot distill a lot of the lessons I’ve taken with me both in work and in life since starting here. Every week we structure the retro the same way; by having an established process for our meeting everyone knows what to expect. When I participated in my first retros I was in awe of the reflective and important topics that my coworkers were bringing up during these meetings, and some of them were tough truths that needed to be said. As the years have gone by I’ve tried to emulate that skill by taking a few minutes before the meeting to gather my thoughts and think about the bigger picture of what we’re working on to make sure I’m bringing up important topics and addressing the 800lbs gorillas in the room so that they don’t become even heavier. By doing this time and again and having positive reactions that result in useful action items, I’ve gained confidence in bringing up tough topics both in and out of work. I heard a quote recently: “When you tell people the truth, you’re helping them. When you tell people what they want to hear, you’re only helping yourself.” I believe retros are thoughtbot’s way of making sure we help not just ourselves.
Two phrases sum up the things I most appreciate learning while at thoughtbot. How to “ship working software” while “working at a sustainable pace.” Both concepts are nuanced and require a ton of context to understand if you’re doing it right.
— Matt Sumner
Writing tests in independent blocks. Prior to working at thoughtbot I wrote tests with rspec with before/after/let/let!/etc. but now I’m finding the isolation very nice when debugging a test.
I’ve learned so much at thoughtbot and I continue to. I’ll highlight that I thought I knew Git before joining the team. Thanks to an Upcase video on Git I got to learn that I was only scratching the surface of what Git can do. Now, I feel like I learn something new about Git each week!
— Silumesii Maboshe
At thoughtbot I learned the power of infectious curiosity and continual improvement, especially when given the space to learn with and from my brilliant coworkers. I’ve tried to carry that spirit forward in my career by fostering safe spaces where developers at any level can come together to share and level up their skills. It’s been rewarding to get comments from current coworkers about Upcase videos or blog posts that I made that were particularly helpful to them. How cool is that?
— Ian C Anderson
How using public channels instead of private messages is much more inclusive (see our blog posts on the subject). It was weird at first, but it makes so much sense now.
— Matheus Richard
Assume the best intentions from others by default.
I’ve learned so much at thoughtbot that it’s hard to boil it down. The way I create and collaborate (inside and outside of work) has been revolutionized by principals and experiences I’ve had here. It’s even changed my relationship with my own self in transformational ways. I learned I can demand more respect, empathy and compassion from a job, a company, and from teammates. I’ve learned that it’s ok to not have all the answers and be vulnerable. I’ve made some of my best friends at thoughtbot because the team is incredible. And I’ve learned the value of sustainable work on my life and my personal fulfillment. The way I’ve applied this is….. I am back at thoughtbot :)
Also shout out to Chad who I know doesn’t want this to be about him because it’s been a team effort and he’s just humble. But none of this would be possible without 20 freaking years of his dedication to making a place that is different and welcoming and making a positive impact on the world. It’s pretty special.
Thank you learning and celebrating with us. Remember to check out our anniversary month celebrations including: