Raw thoughts from Alex Dong

Lessons I learned from people in Avos

Today is my last day at Avos.

I’m feeling very grateful about this experience. I have learned so much in the past 14 months that I can’t believe it’s only a little more than 1 year.  This is my first “job” working out of mainland China, in a pure western culture. Also my first job working in the consumer internet space.   I’m sure that as the time goes by, the memory will become fuzzier.  So while the scenes are still fresh, I’d like to list what I have learned from all the outstanding people in Avos.  As my own way to say thank you and wave good bye to them.

  • Josh:  Remain calm and cool when some unexpected problem happens. Josh showed me what a truly talented engineer would be.  It’s less about how much you know but how you can get the problem solved using the tools on hand.  I have always considered myself a good engineer but Josh made me realise that I’m too emotional to keep my brain always cool and logic.  Josh makes me feel I’m more an artist than an engineer.

  • Alan: Been professional means high performance no matter how you are treated.  I cherish the night when Alan, Israel and me walked back from office to hotel when we were in San Francisco. I’ve been consistently stunned by how hard and consistent Alan works no matter how much mis-understanding there have been.  He never seems to care whose fault it is. He just gets there and tries to get things sorted.  He also taught me again and again that “form follows function”.

  • Gerwin: A team needs colour. Also what a young talent can learn and do in such a short period of time.  I love to tease Gerwin at work. I actually like to hear him cursing. It reminds me of my college years where I cursed like a sailor.  I think Gerwin brings colour and a bit spicy to an otherwise boring and too serious engineering team. Making us a better team really.   Besides that, his young age and how much he knows about javascript/css is clearly telling me that the web-native generation has grown up. Gerwin, you always makes me feel old.

  • Ben:  Reliable, quiet and he-speaks-and-people-listen. I totally under-estimated Ben at the beginning.  You see, we value what we know.  Ben is this quiet, shy guy who seldom speaks. But as we collaborate side-by-side for the last a few months, I get to appreciate how he works. He is almost totally opposite from who I am. Hence making him a perfect work to work with.  Every morning, if I open up the mail and notice the bug reports, I would close it right away. I get bored checking system status dashboard everyday.  Yet Ben would happily pour his morning coffee and quietly squashed all the bugs.

  • BH:  Myself 12 years ago. I like BH because I always looked at him and thought to myself: wow, I did the exact same thing 12 years ago.  We always value talents, passion and energy. We under-value consistency, professional and maturity. But as I work with BH through the up and down, sitting in downtown San Francisco’s hotel and listen to his rants, I found myself just loving him for all the youth idealism and energy. So pure and untainted.

  • Israel: The importance of knowing one’s strength/weakness well. Israel have had a rough trip. He was assigned to the roles that were needed but didn’t suit him.  Israel also keeps on reminding me how much a job means to a family.  For every job position, there is actually a whole family’s happiness associated with it. There is his beautiful wife waiting at home. There are his two young boys asking where Dad is. I will not handle job positions lightly just because of this. People are not switchable widgets. They have emotions and families.  They deserve to be treated with respect and understanding.

  • Steve: How leader works. I do not agree with Steve on all things but I’d say most of the times, I am quietly impressed by how laser focused he is on the product.  I learned the value of being firm about an idea and push through to get a vision implemented instead of trying to convince everyone.  I am also on the receiver end to know how productive and happy I was when I had the trust and freedom to operate.

  • Tim: Every engineering team needs a Tim. I’ve been working with Tim back in the old trunk.ly days but the past 14 months has shown the immense value of having a “tim” on the team.  To tight the loose ends and keep the whole team rowing towards the same direction.  I learn again and again from Tim the value of perform consistently no matter one gets the attention or not.

There are also others I have had the luck to work with that’s not mentioned here, especially Andy, Lucy, Cheng, Vijay, Walter, Brent, Doug, Matt, George and Sara. I’ve also learned heaps from you folks.  Thanks.