How to help people work better

Or what I would do as a manager

If you really think about it, we don’t work that much when we are in the office. Sure, we get things done, but I’m not talking about this. I’m talking about doing meaningful things, having ideas, being innovative.

Just remember the last time you had that great idea, or think about your greatest work. I bet it wasn’t done while you were sitting on your chair, surrounded by the 40-50 people you share your open space with.

For some it was really early in the morning, when you were the first one in the office. Or while you were commuting, or in the shower (I always have some great ideas in the shower or on the toilet). Or probably when you were sick and had to work from home.

And this because we get distracted. We get distracted by our colleagues, by our boss, by the endless meetings and conferences. The moments when we can work at something for at little as 1-2 hours without being interrupted are extremely rare.

Until we are able to work from whatever place we chose and at whatever hour we want here is what I would do and propose you all try:

  1. Make your whole team not talk with each other for a day once a month (or at least half a day) – you will see that a lot of stuff will get done and this because people will be able to concentrate on the their job without anyone bothering or interrupting them. This will probably be the best job benefit you can offer to your team.
  2. Cancel your meetings – go to your calendar and cancel half of your meetings and then go and do it again. If there are more than 3-4 people in a meeting, you can probably skip it. Even most of the 3-4 person meetings could be replaced by a short email. Give time to people to put their ideas in order and afterwards they can just send you an email with anything they would like you to know. The world won’t end, everything will be just fine.
  3. Replace most of the active communication with passive communication – if someone comes to your desk you will have to talk with that person. And even if it is for 20 seconds, you will have to stop what you are doing, don’t think at the problem you had in mind, and offer your attention to that person. But if we replace this with emails or even instant messages, we gain control on the moment we want to be interrupted. We can quit Outlook or our IM app, but we can’t quit our boss or our colleague. You finish your tasks and then you spend a few minutes checking you email. Also, it is enough if you check your email 2 or 3 times a day. For must of us there aren’t any urgent things that need our immediate attention.
    So encourage your team to use emails and IMs.

I hope these ideas will help or at least encourage you to change the way you work.

lego people

Day 145 – A thought a day challenge


A thought a day – 1 year challenge, 145 days later

I’ve always liked writing and I’ve been thinking about creating a blog for some years.
The first challenge was that I didn’t know if I will have enough things to write about. Another problem was that I’m lazy and I get bored really fast.

So I thought I should start easy and that’s why I challenged myself to write something each day. This is how A thought a day – 1 year challenge came to life.
And 4 months later I created this blog.
I haven’t decided what kind of blog would this be and what I will be writing about. But I will see how it evolves. The important thing is to keep writing, I hope I will add at least 2-3 posts each week.

Now let’s get back to the challenge.

Day 145 – January 14, 2017

Level 28 today.
I don’t feel that old, not at all.
We had some cake in the morning and Iarina made pizza, I read, played a little on my xylophone and played some SWTOR. We finished Supernatural season 11. We will probably watch season 12 after all episodes are online.
The xylophone is really fun and I’m sure I will learn some songs by the end of the year.
Before going to bed we watched The Notebook.

We have a lot of plans for 2017 and a lot of things will happen this year. Somedays I feel a little overwhelmed.

Financial Freedom

Financial Freedom image

I think it all started sometime at the end of 2014.
I’ve always been the type of person that likes to save and doesn’t like to be in debt. But two books really changed the way I see things: The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason and Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.
Since then I read a lot of books related to this and did my part of research.

The first step was creating an Excel and adding my income and all my expenses.
Now I can say that our savings in 2015 were only 4.7% from our income. In 2016 our income grow by 48%, but our savings were only about 4.87% from our income.
The savings rate reveal some crappy numbers. And as I said here, I want to raise our savings to 20%.
Is not that much, but it will be hard considering that we are having our wedding this year.

The books were just the start. In September I stumble on From cents to retirement blog and from this one I got to FI Fighter, another great blog, and from it to Mr. Money Mustache (which is my favorite one).

And if you get pass the funny names, there are a lot of interesting things you can read about. I know this because I read all their blog posts.

So right now I’m not thinking just about how to save money. I’m also thinking about how to have enough money so we can retire early. Enough money that we don’t care about money anymore.

The main idea is to spend less money than you gain. This not that easy.
But you can do a lot of things to help.
One thing you can do is to simply make more money (get a raise, get a new job, get new a part-time job).
Another important step (and this is overlooked by most of the people) is finding ways to spend less money than now.

And I’m not talking about moving under a bridge, eating cheap food or living a bad life. Not at all.
We tend to throw money on things we don’t need, things that don’t improve our life or things that don’t make us happy (not on long term).

This is were my Excel file gets really useful. I can see on what we spend money and we can find ways to cut some of the expenses.
I’m really anxious to see how this year will go. And I will also try to share some of the things I do to spend less money.

What movies I want to watch in 2017

2016 wasn’t a great year for movies, I think 2017 will be pretty much the same. But still .. there are some movies I would like to watch, so here is my list.

Watched the first movies, I loved them. Can’t wait to watch this too.

Another series I like. I didn’t enjoyed the last two movies as much as the first ones, but still I want to see how things will end.

The story of Ray Kroc and McDonald’s. It should be a good and interesting movie if they don’t change the original story.

Really liked the first movie, not so much the second one. But Vin Diesel should make the things pretty enjoyable.

RINGS – February
The sequel of the The Ring.

A lot of people didn’t liked the first movie, but I enjoyed watching it. I will also watch this one.

LOGAN – March
The last Wolverine movie for Hugh Jackman. I wonder who will replace him in future movies.

A remake, but an interesting cast with Samuel Jackson, Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson.
I didn’t liked the other ones, but maybe this one will be better.

I have big expectations for this movie. I really like the game.

I like the story and I want to see how Emma Watson plays in other movies.

Another remake. Loved it when I was young, hope it won’t suck.

Another one .. But I will still watch it.

I liked the first movie, it was really fun. This should be awesome too. I’m a fan of the Marvel and DC.

I like the trailer and it has some good actors.

Iarina doesn’t like this type of movies, so I will probably watch it alone. It’s directed by Ridley Scott.

Jack Sparrow is back.

I didn’t liked her that much in Batman v Superman, but maybe in her full movie she will play better.

Another remake, now with Tom Cruise. He should play in other types of movies. He is getting old.

I’m sure it won’t be that great, but it is the kind a movie you can watch while relaxing for 2 hours.

WORLD WAR Z 2 – June
The first one was ok, will also give this one a try.

Can’t wait to see it. The first two were a lot of fun.

He was pretty good in The Avengers. I hope the acting style will be the same. And the movie feeling will be more Deadpool, less original Spiderman.

I like the idea, but I think three movies are enough and I hope this is the last one.

The first part was really fun to watch.

This should be the movie where we see the last infinity stone. Thor, Loki, Dr. Strange and The Hulk.

SAW 8 – October
Not many things are known about it.

Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg.

Ep 7 was ok, but not what I expected. I hope ep 8 will be much better.

JUMANJI – December
The first one was one of the best movies of my childhood. Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Jack Black will star in this one.

Is it time to move away from Facebook?

Probably yes.
Privacy is a big problem with Facebook. But we already knew this, since we are the product. Even Zuckerberg doesn’t trust Facebook. Remember this pictures from June?

Salim Virani has a really interesting post about this: Get your loved ones off Facebook. And if you have 10-15 minutes, you should give it a read.

If not, here are a few things Facebook already does:

And with the new privacy change there are some other interesting stuff they’ll be doing, things like: tracking what we buy, our financial information (bank account, credit card numbers), tracking our location via our phone’s GPS (everywhere and all the time), and much much more.

This is how Facebook makes money, sells us (and our information) to other companies.

What I read in 2016

Back in June I was really dissatisfied with how much I was reading, I thought I should read at least 1-2 books each month.

I decided to also write down what I was reading to see if I can accomplish what I had in mind. I was already having a list with books that I wanted to read, so I just added a new column to that table.

At the end of October the company I’m working for signed a contract with Bookster. Bookster provides the employees of their customers with the opportunity to borrow any books or article they want from their collection. You can also read online articles, watch videos and more.

So now it is really easy for me to borrow the books I want and I don’t even have to pay anything for them. Great work benefit!
This is why my reading target for 2017 is 50 books.

So here are the books I read from June to December 2016:

  1. Who Moved My Cheese? – Spencer Johnson
  2. Do you think you’re clever – John Farndon
  3. The founder’s dilemma – Noam Wasserman
  4. Extraordinary Leadership – Robin Sharma
  5. Originals – Adam Grant
  6. Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street – John Brooks
  7. The Lean Startup – Eric Ries
  8. What If? – Randall Munroe
  9. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History – Elizabeth Kolbert
  10. The Second Machine Age – Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee
  11. Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
  12. The Bed of Procrustes – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  13. The 4-Hour Workweek – Timothy Ferris
  14. The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business – Clayton M. Christensen
  15. How I see the world – Albert Einstein

My wishes for 2017

I think it is a good idea to write your wishes and at the end of the year reflect on what happen, how everything influenced you and how you evolved as a person.

So here is my list for 2017:

  • get married – not necessarily a wish, but an important step for both me and Iarina;
  • visit a new country;
  • move to another country – already working on this; I hope we will achieve this in 2017, if not maybe in 2018;
  • get to read at least 50 books;
  • raise our savings to 20% from our income;
  • learn to play an instrument;
  • work on this blog and write weekly on it.

Most of these depend only on me and are achievable. Will check in 12 months how it went.New year

Next 6 months plan

I had a few blog posts on the old website and I decided to move them here as they were. Originally written on May 11, 2016.

A lot of things had happened since my last blog entry, I’ve been really busy with work/learning/and some other stuff. I saw 2 new countries, finished a web development bootcamp, played with some new things and a few great things in my personal life.

Currently I fell a little burned out. Tomorrow I will soon celebrate 1 year in Allianz so I spent the last days thinking about what happened in the last year and what I want to do in the months that will follow.

Pretty soon I will launch 2 projects. I worked a few months on them and I will enjoy seeing them online. After this I will take a break from my front end freelance “career”. Right now I don’t know how long this would take by I feel I need it.

Now, what I wish for the next 6 months. I want to write more and hope to publish around 1-2 articles each month here. I have a long list of books I want to read. They are over 60 and I don’t think I will finish all of them this year. Another thing I want to do is improve my design skills, theoretical and practical. In my free time, programming will be on the second place for now, at least for a while.

More details will follow in my next blog posts.


“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” – 3 months later

I had a few blog posts on the old website and I decided to move them here as they were. Originally written on August 16, 2015.

There have been 3 months from when I wrote the first part to this (“Stay Hungry, StayFoolish”) and I didn’t even knew there will be more than one part.
A lot had happened since then and I hope a lot more will from now one, maybe I will even write a third part to this.

When I quitted my job I didn’t really had a plan, just needed a break. But still I though it would be a good idea to start applying to jobs, since I would have needed a job eventually. But it went better than expected and I was pretty astonished to get so many calls, and more than a few from some big companies. Initially I was thinking I should have a little vacation, for at least a few weeks, maybe a month.
But it only lasted a week.

I got the opportunity to meet a lot of great people from a lot of big companies and it was a nice experience, even though I really don’t like interviewing.
In the end I decided to accept the offer from Allianz, they offered me a position as a web designer. It came as a surprise since I started learning HTML and CSS just a year before getting the job. But they decided I was the right man and I said yes.
Even the recruitment process was really fast. On Monday I had the first interview and two tests (coding and design), got also the second interview at Allianz in the same day. On Tuesday I had the third interview, on Friday I was already signing the papers.

It was great until now, but of course I always want more. So I started a few days ago to learn JavaScript. I knew some, worked with it (especially jQuery), but I decided I should know more.
So in the next period, JavaScript and Angular.
Maybe in a few month I will get pretty decent.

As a last few words .. it works. Risk, put yourself out there and you’ll get what you want sooner or later.

“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”

I had a few blog posts on the old website and I decided to move them here as they were. Originally written on May 3, 2015.

A few weeks ago I decided it was the time for me to leave the company I worked for in the last 3 years. Had a lot of reasons to do so and I really think it is the right decision.

Now I’m taking a break for a few days/weeks. Checking new opportunities, going to some interviews but I’m not really in a hurry to find a new job.

I want to concentrate more on web development, got some projects I want to launch pretty soon. Some books I want to finish. Maybe I will even start drawing again. I should also repair the bathroom door. In 2 weeks I’m running in OMV Petrom Bucharest Halfmarathon 2015 (the popular race, but still, I need some practice).

So, a lot of things to do and I’m sure good times are coming.

Milan trip

I had a few blog posts on the old website and I decided to move them here as they were. Originally written on January 29, 2016.

I wanted to write about this for a few weeks now, but couldn’t find the time for it. At the end of November I went together with Iarina to Milano. It was a really special trip, first time leaving the country and first flight with the plane, for both of us. We only stayed for 2 days in Milan, but it was really fun.

The first “problem” of the trip was to decide if we should take our car to the airport and leave it there until we came back or the bus. But the bus looked like the smarter choice.

Tip for anyone coming to Bucharest/Romania and landing on Otopeni airport: Take the bus, is really cheap, less than 1 euro, and it takes you to the city center (bus 783) or the train station (bus 780). They come pretty often, from 30 to 30 min.

In the airport we were pretty confused and didn’t knew what to do. So we decided to just follow other people. We got to bagage control, all went great, and then custom. The problem was that we arrived pretty early and didn’t took the time to check at what gate our flight was departing, so until the flight was shown we were pretty anxious to see if we were on the correct side of the airport. But we were lucky and found quickly the gate. The flight was pretty ok, Iarina slept most of the time, while I was watching the clouds.

When we arrived in Bergamo the things were pretty simple and we found our way to Milan center. There Iarina’s uncle was waiting for us and took us to Rho, where we were going to stay. In the same day we had the chance to check some stores and I was really surprised to see that prices for food were the same as in Bucharest or even lower. Even though here the salaries are much smaller.
We spent the second day visiting Milan, we walked around 15 km on foot. We got to see a lot of places: the Dome, La Scala theatre, Sforza castle, Sempione park, a few shops (Iarina) and we even got to visit a university by mistake. The way back went smoothly (Iarina sleeping, me watching the clouds).

We really liked Milan and hope to come back. We even think to move there (I started learning italian and is going great). I really liked the public transportation, much better than in Bucharest. We managed to find our way in the city even though we don’t speak italian. The city seemed greener than Bucharest, even if it is one of the most polluted cities in Italy. The streets were wider and was really nice to walk around the town. I was really impressed by the Dome and want to visit it again. I heard a lot of people speaking romanian in Milan, which was really funny. I saw more beggars than in Bucharest. Was nice to see people juggling for money in intersections (in Romania they only wash your windshield). It was strange to see the flight attendants selling perfumes and lottery tickets while we were flying, never heard of this.

In the end, we really liked Milan and hope to come back soon.

Instead of “Hello World”

My name is Hello World - Gabriel MergeaGabriel Mergea, I’m an (almost) 30 year old dude.

Currently I’m working as a Web Designer at Allianz. I’m passionate about economy, technology, genetics and sociology.

I have experience in design, web development, marketing, project management, product management and sales.
Now I’m trying my hand at blogging. For a full bio you can visit my LinkedIn.

I was born and raised in Targu Jiu, but now I live in Bucharest.

I’m still setting up the blog (adding/removing things), so bare with me until I’m done.