On June 4th I participated in the American Parkinson Disease AssociationOptimism Walk in Seattle and it was an extremely rewarding experience. Not only did I do this walk with my brother, who has Parkinson’s, but also discovered the generous support of my co-workers- Team Synapse.
This story starts in 2007 with my brother, Dustin, who was diagnosed with Young-Onset Parkinson's disease in his early 30’s. In the 5 - 7 years after his diagnosis it seemed like he was successfully managing the disease and it appeared to me that this was more of an inconvenience than something that greatly affected the quality of his life. In the last couple of years though, I’ve seen this change and it is starting to look less manageable for him. Dustin sometimes can’t will his legs to move when he wants them to, leaving him temporarily stuck in doorways or elevators. The motor symptoms are the most obvious symptoms of Parkinson’s, but there is a host of other, non-motor symptoms, that most people don’t see that can be even more challenging to live with. Naturally, I have learned much more about this disease than I did before my brother’s diagnosis. What I haven’t been able to do is to learn how to accept it. I’ve also had difficulty deciding how I can best support my brother as his condition worsens.
Something unexpected happened several months ago that helped me come to terms with Dustin’s disease. I knew the Optimism Walk was scheduled for June and Dustin asked me if I was going and would my company match my donation. Synapse was in the early stages of setting up a charitable giving program, but it wouldn’t be ready in time for the Optimism Walk. A few Synapsters bravely suggested we establish our own team and raise funds ourselves. Honestly, my initial thought was, well if we raise a few hundred dollars and show a sign of support at the walk that would be cool.
The five of us established a goal of $7,000, which seemed highly, “optimistic” to me. I was amazed to see my fellow Synapsters fly into action and start raising money. One raised money playing games of pool, another tapped into her social network. I took my turn at playing pool, donated some money and picked up some great tips. I spoke with one Synapster who shared a very personal story about Parkinson’s in his family which allowed me to feel supported as well. Many Synapsters rose to the cause, and in the end, together we raised $4,387 and placed 4th overall in highest team donation.
I was amazed! I couldn’t believe what the team had accomplished. I was so proud of my team and Synapse when I walked with Dustin that day. My brother has taught me how to have strength and hope in the face of adversity. My co-workers at Synapse have reminded me to take the time to be mindful and compassionate. I finally felt like I was able to support my brother in a way I haven’t been able to before and it makes me want to do more to support other Synapsters with their causes.
Choosing the right engineering partner is not a simple task of rapid-fire Q&A to fill in a decision matrix. It’s about making a long-term match that will accelerate your product development process. Whether still in the stages of early development or seeking a course correction from the path already traveled, it’s imperative to ask the kinds of questions that will bring the right players to the game.
Over the last six years, we’ve made an effort to build diversity, equity, and inclusion into the fabric of our organization. From the beginning, we’ve taken an iterative approach, revisiting our initiatives, processes, and policies to make improvements over time, multiple times. Now that we’ve made significant progress, we want to share insights that we hope will help you make positive change at your own organization.
Puget Sound has its share of challenges—homelessness, traffic congestion, and affordable housing to name a few. But, an underlying issue is that we're not working together to find solutions. I'm active with the Washington Technology Industry Association's Ion program—a collaboration incubator that brings together tech, government, and not-for-profits to tackle community challenges. In this video report, I explore this important topic.
GitLab was recently in the house for DevOps Stories Seattle, "a single day symposium dedicated to real-life DevOps transformation stories." Hosting the event here in our Seattle office was a great opportunity for us to cross-pollinate with other people and organizations that are using GitLab to solve their own challenges. Software Engineering Program Lead, Jason Haensly, joined in on the knowledge-sharing with a presentation describing how we use GitLab throughout the product development process, and why we think it's such a win.
Synapse is a product development firm. We work with the best companies in the world to drive innovation and introduce cutting-edge devices that positively impact our lives. Fueled by a desire to solve complex engineering challenges, we develop products that transform brands and accelerate advances in technology.