Meet our front-end lead Gedmantas. He started his journey at Vinted two years ago and today we caught up with him to find out his thoughts on achieving fulfillment in life and at work.
Tell us a little bit about your career path
I started by creating a website for a company which belonged to the father of my classmate. With more similar requests coming in from friends and relatives, my computer became much more than just a gaming device for me.
During eight crazy years of freelancing, the number of my clients was constantly growing. It was a great experience, but the workload was huge - I used to work from 8 am to 11 pm without any days off.
I also didn’t ditch photography - my other passion that eventually became a paid job, so I was getting close to burning out. At some point I realized it was impossible to master everything and had to choose one area to concentrate on.
At the same time, me and my friend were working on our startup, producing interactive solutions for exhibitions. Oddly, we worked from the same office as Milda Mitkute, the co-founder of Vinted (known in Lithuania as “Mano Drabužiai” at the time).
One day I received a call from the CEO of one promising local start-up. He had heard about me from one of my clients, and invited me to join their team. To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether to quit freelancing and accept their offer. The routine scared me. I loved the idea of having the freedom to choose how as well as when to work and the possibility to travel often. Nevertheless, I gave it a try.
Two years later, I got a message from Vinted’s HR manager. I was already familiar with the company and after talking with my future colleagues, I became convinced that I would like to join the team.
What are the main principles you follow at work?
Love and passion for what you do bring fulfillment. I consider myself a happy person because I see meaning in what I do. This principle applies to almost any kind of work.
I remember visiting a shoe store once and asking the sales assistant to help me. I wanted both of us to win in the end. However, my attempts to connect and share some positive vibes were fruitless. His response made it obvious that he was not interested in whether I leave happy or not.
Imagine if I came to work with such an attitude - the whole organization would feel it. Our emotions are easily passed on from one person to another. It would take less than a blink of an eye for people to catch my negative moods. It would lead to decreased motivation and commitment, lowered ethics and poor results.
For me, each day at work is a new opportunity to express myself. There has never been a morning when I would wake up thinking “Sh*t, work again.” If that happened, it would be a sure sign that I needed to take the next step to develop my passion, or start doing something else entirely.
I believe that this attitude helps us become experts, so that we don’t just point out issues and find solutions, but also understand the additional value we may be creating. Sometimes, the problems you’re solving may not be directly related to your field of work. Good examples influence others and the best solutions are born in the collective mind, right?
What is special about working for a startup?
Startups give you the level of freedom to question everything and provide insights to the problems at hand that can’t be matched by other organisations. Not all of our ideas are accepted, but our opinions matter.
I feel that the corporate environment, despite being comfortable, has less room for self-expression and fewer chances to make an impact (or do mistakes).
At Vinted, we start looking for alternatives every time methods that have worked in the past start limiting us from achieving desired results. This means that the way we work here changes often. The only constant is the opportunity to work among passionate, open people who help each other become stronger.
What are the key things for your improvement and helping others grow?
Self awareness is a must for improvement. One of the ways I develop it is acting as if someone was filming me. Thinking of how others portray me helps me behave that way until the new habits become natural to me.
Feedback is very important for the growth. First time I realized the power of feedback was when I taught children photography in Italy. I had to learn ways of telling these kids what they could have done better without harming their enthusiasm. They were very passionate about photography and eager to learn, so I knew that if I was too harsh, they could give up.
What I’d still like to learn is how to show people, especially the ones not from my circle, that there is another way of thinking and make them believe in my message. The famous “Effective Engineer” is talking about tools and strategies helping people succeed when they’re struggling. However, it’s harder to change their attitudes. For that, inconvenient conversations are necessary. Yet, while I feel confident giving feedback in usual work conversations, it is still hard to give a constructive critique on the spot, without preparation. In fact, I don’t get to practice it very often.
As much as important is constructive critique, it is also necessary to dedicate some time for positive feedback. If it comes out naturally, employees feel valued and motivated. People appreciate well delivered constructive feedback and tend to rethink their behaviours accordingly.
What do you do to recharge yourself?
Spending time in nature helps me recharge quickly, feel more energized and productive. It’s also said that greenery in the office environment boosts productivity and increases overall satisfaction.
I also feel happy about the possibility of being able to work remotely from time to time. Even though I love our office, working from home once a week has its benefits. If I manage to finish all planned tasks early, I try to spend time in nature, so that I could come back to the office full of energy on the next day, as if the week had just started.
Person who inspires you
I couldn’t name one person I’d follow for inspiration. However, if I had to choose, that would be Dalai Lama, due to his philosophy.
What do you listen to while working?
What’s a book that you’ve recently read, or one that you would recommend?
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
The One Minute Manager by Kenneth H. Blanchard
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
Is there any blog that you follow and would recommend to others?