Author Archives: Jenny Chynoweth

Running Ragnar with RealSelf

Four vans, 22 runners, and nearly two sleep- and shower-deprived days later, RealSelf coworkers crossed the finish line for Ragnar, Reebok’s crazy race of 200-ish miles through Washington State.  

Van on the run.

RealSelf Van on the run.

What started as a simple, “Hey, let’s do a wellness event together,” quickly gathered steam as more RealSelf employees wanted to join in on the action. As captain of a van and part of RealSelf’s recruiting team, I was happy we had a great mix from across the org, including sales, engineering, product, finance, content, and analytics.

Over several months, some people trained, some didn’t, and lots of trash talking took place via Slack leading up to this insane relay race that had us wondering, “What are we thinking?”

Dave crashing out between runs.

Dave crashing out between runs.

At RealSelf, we’re considered a midsize company with just over 100 employees, and it can be a little difficult to get to know everyone. Our vans quickly became capsules for a bonding opportunity like no other. In addition to running long legs, at times picking up extra miles, we also endured hours in sweaty, feet-in-your-face-stinky vans, sleep deprivation, and questionable moments of personal hygiene.

But we also learned that we work with some really interesting, smart, and fun people. Our group included running newbies to experienced marathoners, but everyone was super supportive of one another and had a blast.

Along the way, we shared running advice via Slack, pictures via Google Drive, and texted and Social Media-ed our exhausted selves out. From all this, we have made memories that will last a lifetime. We learned things about one another that we never would have discovered otherwise, like one of our teammates used to be in an ’80s cover band, one dreams of retiring in a trailer park, and two guys played college football.  (There were many other things learned, but we won’t go there!)

Marathoner Cameron shows us how it's done.

“When we drive in the van, Cameron runs alongside to support us,” data scientist Ben on marathoner Cameron.

Of course, there were moments, usually mid-run, when everyone questioned why they were doing this. We had minor injuries, a lost runner, and the experience of trying to sleep in a high school gym.

It was all worth it. Jokes were made, friendships established, and a few well-earned laugh lines added.

Best part? Everyone said they’d do it again next year!

See a few more shots from RealSelf at Ragnar below:

Engineer Eddie crashing out in the van.

Engineer Eddie crashing out in the van.

Our Analytics Team proved to be superhero runners at night.

Our Analytics Team proved to be superhero runners at night.

Merediths in Sales and Analytics enjoy the spoils of finishing the race.

Merediths in sales and analytics enjoy the spoils of finishing the race.

Ragnar medals together spell out an awesome secret message.

Our hard-earned Ragnar medals come together.

RealSelf Opens Doors for Seattle Tech Startup Week

RealSelf recently helped host a week-long extravaganza of Tech Startup Open Houses. From August 17 to 24, we and 11 other companies opened our doors to people interested in learning more about Seattle’s startup scene. The company missions ranged from cloud management to social analytics to RealSelf’s focus of building an online community for people considering elective procedures.

dreamteamStartup Week happened thanks to a group of Seattle recruiters who started meeting earlier this year to share best practices.

At first, the group was small, representing only four companies. Soon, though, word spread. Now the “Dream Team” has more than 40 members from all around the Seattle metro area.

In Dream Team meetings, we share ideas on everything from which Applicant Tracking System to use to how to inspire executives to help with recruiting. Most importantly, meetings give us an outlet to share great candidates who might not have worked out our company but would do great at another. (We get the candidate’s approval before sharing, of course.)  

openhousemattIt was in one such Dream Team meeting that the idea for a week-long open house came up. Less than two months later, we made it a reality. We opened our doors to show candidates a peek inside the world of a startup. Geekwire even picked up the event.

In all, we had more than 200 people register with 130 people attending the event at RealSelf alone.

Besides the food, fun, and Apple Watch we gave out as a door prize, we even scored a great candidate. A new project manager is joining us at the end of this month thanks to the event.


Cheers to everyone who attended our inaugural Open House. We hope to have more in the future and have an opportunity to shake your hand!

To find out more about current openings at RealSelf, please visit our career page.

Defining the Damn Data

jenm-pro-headshot_largeAs a UX designer here at RealSelf, I collaborate with a larger team of product managers, developers, other designers and analysts (among others) to help create the best possible product features for our users. So I was excited to get the opportunity to share our design process with a larger audience, as one of the many speakers at the annual IA Summit, held last month in Minneapolis, MN. Each year at the IAS, information architects, user experience designers and content strategists come together to learn from each other and help advance our shared disciplines.

My talk, Defining the Damn Data, focused on how we use data at RealSelf to help inform product and design decisions every step of the way, from prioritizing features to validating specific designs with our users. While a podcast with audio will be posted shortly, for now you can view my slides to take a peek into our evolving process.

Jen Matson

Tom Seery, RealSelf CEO, Talks Creative Culture at IN-NW

Our CEO, Tom Seery, joined an impressive lineup onstage at the recent IN-NW: Digital Innovation + Leadership Conference. Moderated by Hanson Hosein, Director of Communication Leadership at UW CommLead, the panel also included UX Designer Olen Ronning of Artefact and Susan Howe, President of Global Consumer Marketing at Weber Shandwick. As they explored what it means to build a culture of creativity, the conversation ranged from how technology sparks creative ideas to the fact that we can’t expect just one person or team to lead the creativity revolution: creative cultures need contributions from everyone.

Thanks to the team at IN-NW for including RealSelf!


From Boob Job to Dream Job

When I first walked into the RealSelf office, I was impressed with the full-sized cabaret-style lighted sign in the lobby spelling out CONFIDENCE.  Wow – this office is cool!  The furniture was modern and sleek, the reclaimed wood wall screamed Seattle.  I had actually been in the same building a week earlier to meet with another Seattle start up.  They had garage doors in their office that opened up to a conference room.  I have worked in some pretty amazing tech companies in Seattle.  I was part of the Amazon HQ move from PacMed on the hill to the now overly-populated South Lake Union district.  I was with Concur Technologies when we moved from a very small building in Redmond to take over part of the old Microsoft campus.  I had also just left Whitepages in downtown Seattle following a $2.5M office renovation.  But there was something special about this place.  The brick archways and the hardwood floors were cool, but there seemed to be a buzz that I had never felt anywhere before.  It wasn’t a busy-just-to-be-busy buzz.  It was the buzz of pride.  I had a feeling that the employees who worked there felt like they were doing something important…something that made a positive impact in people’s lives.

 So you can imagine my curiosity when I sat down in the conference room called “authenticity” and noticed a fake boob sitting on the table.  What the….?! As I sat there through the standard tech company interview loop, every person that came into the room absent-mindedly picked up that fake boob and proceeded to squeeze it as if it were a stress ball.  “What is going on?”  Finally, I had to ask.  “Is that a silicone boob implant?”  <Straight-faced reply>  “No, it’s actually a saline sizer.  Silicone would feel much different, more like a gummy bear.” At that point, I had to decide.  Am I comfortable with this subject matter?  Is this company’s product something that I can get behind and support?  I am going to be convincing people to work here, after all. As the conversations continued, my interest started to pique.  How could a company focused on people’s vanity be doing any good?  That’s when I started to learn.

It wasn’t about vanity (okay, some of it is!) but it was more about helping people regain their confidence.  This was something that resonated with me.  I had been feeling pretty unconfident as of late and it felt good to have a conversation about supporting a community and helping them find the answers they need.  The idea is to create a space that allows users to have open and honest conversations about stuff that bothers them about their bodies and learn about their options to fix them.  Without judgment.

I learned about the mom that had the mommy makeover and finally felt confident to swim with her kids for the first time.  Her kids were 9 and 12.  I learned about the women that had a breast implant after she lost her left breast to cancer.  I learned about the gentleman who had life changing experience with a Gastric Bypass surgery.  These stories were inspiring!  They also offered the users the opportunity to make a decision to *not* have a procedure done.  The site offered doctor reviews and ratings for procedures and surgery buddies.  Seriously?!  Where else would someone find this information?  You certainly aren’t going to chat about it over the fence with your next door neighbor.  They even had a giving back campaign which supported plastic surgeons traveling overseas to complete procedures on third world country citizens with deformations who would not otherwise have had the opportunity.

Finally, the light had come on.  This company wasn’t like the other Seattle tech companies.  This was personal!  This company was doing some amazing stuff.  They had just hired a new CTO to come in and make the data more robust.  They had busted through the wall in their office and expanded to meet the company’s growth.  They had a board of directors that read like the “Who’s Who of Seattle” list.  The decision was made.  I wanted to work here.  And thankfully, it turned out that they wanted me to work here, too!  Talk about a boost in confidence!  That was almost three months ago and I haven’t looked back once.  If you are interested in learning more about finding your dream job at RealSelf, visit our careers page.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll get to squeeze the saline sizer, too!

– Jenny Chynoweth, Director of Talent