Author: Dave Ambrad


Wednesday, July 11, 2019.

Did I really just do this?

These were the first words that went through my head as I paced my living room that morning. It was my birthday, but also my first day of unemployment after handing in my resignation and walking out of the office. It had been 12 years since I had accidentally started on what became an amazing career in the insurance industry. But it was time for a new challenge.

It felt weird: I had no emails, no scheduled calls, or clients to see. I had no risks to review, no concepts to explain, no issues to look after, or people to help. What do I do today?

My boss, my teammates, the whole company structure, my clients—some of whom had become close friends—but most importantly, everything I have gotten so used to and had taken time and effort to master, everything was gone, done, and over! It was a scary thought.

Fast forward to my first week at Arctiq

I was well-acquainted with a few people in the company already, and the new ones I met the first week were very nice and welcoming. I felt positive that it would be easy; I’ve done this a million times, I’ve got this!

See, growing up I had to change schools quite a bit, which forced me to become great at starting random conversations, making new friends, and adapting to new surroundings. Like I said, I’ve got this!

Except I didn’t at all. All it took was taking part in my first internal meeting to realize how lost I was. 5 minutes in I felt like I had been dropped in downtown Tokyo without any means to translate or communicate. I’ve never been so lost.

It wasn’t just the tech aspect of it. Yes, the tech was a big one, but I was already expecting to be a little lost there. Besides, I knew what a pull request was and could pronounce the word “Kubernetes”. That’s a pretty good start, right?! But, unlike most companies out there, Arctiq doesn’t operate as a traditional hierarchy. Nah, Arctiq uses “Holacracy.” “Hey Google, what is Holacracy? Quick, HELP!”

Not only was everyone speaking a different language, but the way the meeting was moving along was very foreign. There were circles, and roles, and people shouted “check” when called upon! Ok, no one was shouting, but to me, everything was very chaotic and it was a lot for my brain to handle.

When the meeting started, I was asked to check-in… A few seconds went by and thankfully one of my new colleagues noticed the blank stare on my face and helpfully explained, “as in, how do you feel?” I quickly answered, “About what? We haven’t discussed anything yet.” “No,” she laughed, “how do you feel this morning, how are you doing?”

Huh, well that’s a new question to be asked at the office. I won’t get into the Holacracy aspect much, but read this blog, and then this one. It’s fascinating and it has completely changed how I see, think, and do things now.

Shortly after my first tactical meeting

I was tagging along to a partner meeting to discuss accounts and strategy. Ah good, finally something I can help with and provide value. Wrong! All I was able to say was my name and a bit about my background. I remember very little of what was said in that meeting, other than Kubernetes Engine, containerized applications, and something something automation. Ok, well, at least I learned two new words. This is going to be my life for the next while I guess.

To put it nicely: it was rough. I had come from a place where I was a resource to many, mentor to some, and added value on a daily basis. Now? If I’m being honest, I felt like a zero to the left. I had no answers and all the questions.

But I am elated to say this feeling didn’t last long. See, Arctiq has done a great job putting together a team of like minded people who share some pretty amazing values and beliefs. The help and support I’ve gotten are unlike anything I’ve been exposed to. Arctiq is small but mighty, has a start-up mentality and agility, and all you see and hear about are fast-moving projects involving bleeding edge technologies. People zoom by talking about cycles and calling out roles in new projects like commodity traders at the old New York Board of Trade, yet they still find time to involve me in conversations about specific tech and use cases or provide opinions on rival environments and culture-conditioning. Best of all, they are great at entertaining all my questions and the weird analogies I use to relate to these concepts.

I’ve had more whiteboarding sessions than I can count; I’ve been pushed to help lead meetings; arranged my own meetings with outside partners; been sent to numerous events; reached out to clients; and attended meetups where I’ve been able to talk to people about the tech we use and how we put it to work. It’s been a crazy rollercoaster, and trust me when I say that it hasn’t been pretty, but I’m getting better at this, I understand it more and more every day, and I finally feel that I am heading in the right direction. I’ve been given an incredible gift, I’ve been given a level of confidence that would not have been possible without such an amazing level of support.

It feels like stepping out on stage for the first time, with your first band, with songs you’ve rehearsed only a few times. Is it going to sound good? Will my voice crack? What if I forget a chord? Do we all have the same setlist? How many times were we planning to play the chorus again? But we are just gonna go out and rock it, because at the end of the day my band is pretty awesome and they have my back as much as I have theirs. If all else fails and someone messes up a chord, or a lyric, or goes into a different part of the song, we can always turn it into a jam and have fun with it. It’ll be alright because we are a rock and roll band.

Two months in and I feel like I’ve been here since the very beginning

I’ve forged some great friendships both internally and externally. I can finally say that I no longer have any of those “Did I make the right move?” fears. In fact, I don’t know that I could’ve made a better move.

Over the past 12 years, I’ve been taught to think in worst-case scenarios. After all, when managing risk, you need to know what the Maximum Foreseeable Loss (MFL) could be when making decisions. In the case of coming to Arctiq, the MFL doesn’t come close to all the benefits I’ve gotten in my short time already. I can say with absolute certainty, this is an excellent risk.

I am very excited about this Arctiq Expedition I’ve embarked on. I am excited about all the good people I’ve yet to meet, and all the solutions I’ve yet to help implement. Who knows, soon you might see me up on a stage talking about all the good stuff I’ve learned and help accomplish with my team here at Arctiq.

If you want to know more about my journey, reach out. I am always happy to share.

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