What I learned in 2 years at Liferay

Jul 09, 2014

Seems like yesterday when I decided to move from this huge company based in Rio to this not-so-well-known company based in LA. That was not an easy decision, but I'm glad I made it.

Now, two years after that day, here I am to share some of the things I learned.

My first retreat

Passion is the most important skill

Hiring is a very delicate topic in every tech company nowadays. As developers we're usually doing more stuff than we should do. And we all know how hard is to find talented people, specially if you're very selective with who you hire.

I had the opportunity to interview some people and it's interesting to find out that those who got the job are not always the most skilled developers or designers. They simply demonstrated more passion about what they were doing.

After all, we think that learning technical skills is much easier than changing how someone feel about doing their work.

There's life beyond the software community

As an open source company we care a lot about the software community. We go to conferences all the time. We push code to GitHub like there's no tomorrow. We essentially live this whole atmosphere all the time.

This is a very nice thing, but when you go deep into a particular community you may end up forgetting that there are other communities out there. Communities with much bigger problems to solve. Communities that could use your help somehow.

By leading Liferay's EVP (Employee Volunteer Program) committee in Latin America along with Cleydyr, we're able to collect more than 700 kg (1543 pounds) of food in less than 24 hours to help poor families in the state of Pernambuco, Brazil.

Being part of initiatives like that is just incredible.

EVP initiative in Brazil

The mentoring cascade

The way I see, Brian Chan, the company founder, grew the engineering teams with an amazing mentoring cascade model.

It's really hard to describe how it works because it's a kind of mentoring that goes beyond code review. We spend a huge amount of time teaching other people.

Brian mentored Nate, Nate mentored Eduardo and a bunch other guys, Eduardo mentored me and a bunch of other guys too, now I'm mentoring Henrique, Thiago and so on.

The cool thing is that I'm just one leaf of that tree, there are many other leaves like that spread all over the world.

People before profit

Last year I went to Europe for couple presentations and ended up in a hospital in Madrid for 3 weeks. I got there alone and had many troubles to communicate since I don't speak Spanish very well and they didn't understand English or Portuguese at all.

Fortunately, many of my coworkers from the Spain office went there to visit me. They were all very friendly, trying to entertain me all the time. They even brought my Macbook and a 3G USB modem, so I could "escape" from that situation using a computer (interesting fact: the dracula theme was created in that hospital).

During the second week there, I had to leave my room for 15 seconds and when I got back my computer and tablet were stolen.

The only way I had to communicate with my family was gone. I was totally devastated.

Again Liferay was very kind to me. They brought me a new computer, some DVDs to watch, and most importantly they flew my sister all the way from Rio to Madrid just to be there with me.

Those were, by far, the worst 3 weeks of my life. But I learned so much from it. Specially 'cause those are the moments that you truly get to know those around you.

Any other company could be angry because I wasn't working for a long time, worried about the hospital bill or simply didn't care at all. But not Liferay. They did much more than I could expect and for that I'll be always grateful.

Zeno and his sister in the hospital

Thanks you guys, it's been two wonderful years :)