Category Archives: Culture

RealSelf Learning: Owning Your Space

RealSelf employees practice their self-defense techniques.

This week we turned part of our office into a temporary dojo when we launched our new learning series with a self-defense class. Rachel and Jordan from Fighting Chance Seattle joined RealSelf for an afternoon to teach us about empowerment, awareness, and, ultimately, confidence.

The class started with a conversation about moments when some of us hadn’t felt confident in our safety and what we were hoping to get from the class. Jordan began by helping us understand why we should trust our intuition and built up to helping us practice feeling comfortable saying a simple and direct “No.”

“I believe in teaching you skills not only for an extreme situation but skills you can practice and build in your day-to-day experiences. Practice your firm ‘no’ with a telemarketer. Seriously! The more you practice, the easier it will be to clearly and directly say no when your intuition says you need to,” explained Jordan.

Fighting Chance Seattle demonstrates for RealSelf.

“Hearing out loud ‘Whatever your intuition is telling you: you’re right.’ was super cool!” said Kimberly Lund, RealSelf Office Manager.

Eventually, Jordan and Rachel moved to some training, both demoing some moves and letting us get some hands-on-pads practice. The bottom line? “Put something hard somewhere soft,” Jordan said as he pointed to his elbow and the base of his palm.

Special thanks to Fighting Chance Seattle for sharing their knowledge and expertise in an approachable, welcoming, and totally-not-scary format. For those interested in more, the Ballard dojo features a variety of martial arts classes and monthly self-defense workshops with a focus on empowerment and awareness.

The RealSelf Learning series will feature a different class, talk, or event every month that supports learning focused on personal and professional development to make us more confident in our daily lives.

Want to join our next class? We’re hiring!

RealSelf Fellow Changes Lives in Guatemala

As one of our first RealSelf Fellows, we were excited to talk with Dr. Larry S. Nichter about his recent volunteer trip. The Orange County plastic surgeon traveled to Guatemala and Cuba with the Plasticos Foundation in November.

This visit to Guatemala is Dr. Nichter’s latest in a long-standing relationship among Plasticos, Dr. Nichter, and the local medical community. In Guatemala, Dr. Ernesto Cofino was introduced to Plasticos through his local nonprofit group, Angeles en la Terra (Earth Angels). From their first meeting in the 1990s, Dr. Nichter was impressed by Dr. Cofino’s commitment to helping his fellow Guatemalans access much-needed reconstructive surgery.

Why Guatemala?

Photo courtesy of the Plasticos Foundation

Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America, but there is no plastic surgery training program. Dr. Nichter shares RealSelf’s belief that medical professionals can make a dramatic difference in these communities by helping build sustainable surgical resources. By working with local doctors, these efforts also help build self-sufficiency and reduce dependence on foreign care.

On trips to Guatemala, Dr. Nichter works with Dr. Cofino to show him how to correct progressively more difficult deformities. During Dr. Nichter’s last visit, Plasticos received a specific request to show doctors there how to make an ear.

Treating a condition called microtia, which causes children to be born without an ear, is one of the most complex reconstructive surgeries that can be performed. But with the help of the Plasticos doctors, Dr. Cofino performed his first procedure to treat this condition by the end of this trip.

Teach a Man to Fish or Build an Ear

“To have a significant impact you need to foster training of local medical personnel and support them to become independent over time,” Dr. Nichter said. “Just like the Chinese proverb, ‘Give a man a fish and feed him for one day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.’

“After we leave, surgeons continue to operate on many children with conditions they were once fearful [of] or could not treat,” he added. “That way our efforts are leveraged, multiplying the number of patients taken care of.”

Eventually, Dr. Nichter hopes to work with Dr. Cofino to start the first plastic surgery residency program to tackle the immense demand for reconstructive surgery in Guatemala. For now, he’s satisfied with the knowledge that he’s changing young lives.

“To have a child at that young age desire and look forward to the surgery and try to smile through the discomfort,” Dr. Nichter said. “Tells volumes.”

What is the RealSelf Fellowship?

The RealSelf Fellowship awards funding to medical professionals who donate their time and expertise to deliver care and training in underserved communities around the world.

Learn more about the RealSelf Fellowship and how to apply here.

RealSelf Makes Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work List for 2017

We made it!

Every year, Glassdoor announces the best places to work based on employee reviews, and we’re thrilled that we made the list for the first time ever!

RealSelf landed the No. 17 spot out of 50 on Glassdoor’s 2017 Employees’ Choice Best Place to Work list in the small to midsize category (under 1,000 employees). We also have the honor of being the top-rated company in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.

This win is especially important to us because it is based on reviews. As we provide a safe platform for people to share transparent, honest feedback on aesthetic procedures, this honor reinforces our strong belief that reviews matter–whether coming from your community or your employees.

“A fulfilling moment for a team-oriented CEO like myself is to get feedback that your people feel connected to the mission and engaged with one another,” CEO Tom Seery said about the Glassdoor nod.

“The team has grown significantly over the past decade, and we have worked very intentionally to keep RealSelf a place where people can be themselves and create a culture that they want to come back to day after day,” he added. “To me, this award is an acknowledgment that this work has been and will continue to be worth the investment.”

To celebrate the Glassdoor Best Places to Work announcement, enjoy our latest video capturing a day in the life at RealSelf, and find out what unlimited beef jerky, office chihuahuas, and Flat Tom have in common.

We’re hiring! Please visit our Careers page to see what we have open for 2017.

Meet RealSelf Business Analyst Meredith Miller

We have a talented work crew at RealSelf, and occasionally, we’ll feature an employee who makes our team even more incredible every day.

Meet Meredith Miller, a business analyst on our growth and analytics team. In addition to her strong math background, Meredith has long held a passion for analyzing data, even as a kid comparing her swim times to her competitors (more on that later).

A Seattle native and graduate of the University of Delaware, Meredith has a bachelor’s degree in the science of economics, with minors in math and Spanish, plus an master’s degree in economics.

Meredith has been at RealSelf just over a year, but is already an essential part of the team. Here she talks about her background, what she does at RealSelf, and what everyone who’s thinking about a career in data should know:

How did you get into analytics?

I’ve always been very good at mathematics and statistics, so studying economics was a natural choice in college, as I wanted to find a field that combined math and practical applications.  

What did you do before joining RealSelf?

I worked in the economic research group at Zillow doing housing market research and managing data production. I previously interned at the U.S. Department of Agriculture economic research service doing research into the assets and debts of low-income households and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) participation in between stints in graduate school.    

meredith-millerWhat made you decide to join RealSelf?

I was referred by a former colleague who thought that I would get along well with Alan [Treanor], the VP of growth and analytics. I was especially intrigued by the possibility of joining a much smaller, still-developing organization and to have the opportunity to make an immediate impact on the business. I liked that the company was still growing and learning, and I would be able to help figure things out as we evolve.

What’s your typical day like?

I spend the morning doing small things I can get done, like addressing requests from PR and other teams. Then I look at longer-term projects. I’ve been helping the product managers put together insights about new features we’re launching, especially in the app.

What’s been key to your career development?

What’s helped me out is that I’m naturally inquisitive and persistent. Being inquisitive is great personality trait for an analyst. I always want to know the “why” behind the “what” when we see things happen on the site, and find the logical explanation behind the numbers.

As for the being persistent, I think that you have to be patient, but my success as an analyst is really determined by the quality of the information in accuracy and succinctness I can provide to the product managers, and if I can give the people I’m working with clear, actionable insights into the questions they’re asking.

Meredith kicks back with the other Meredith (Russian) at the 2016 Ragnar race.

Meredith kicks back with the other Meredith (Russian) at the 2016 Ragnar race.

What do you always find surprising when analyzing data?

I just did a lot of research into trends in Seattle and Portland [Ore.], and you can definitely see a difference in interest with us in the Pacific Northwest and what we’re seeing in trends nationally. I thought it was really interesting to see a lot of things people in the Portland and Seattle area do research on have to do with the face/neck, as compared to the more body-specific procedures in other places.

One thing that is generally interesting for me is to learn more about innovation and the science in surgical and nonsurgical industries. People are constantly trying to improve their surgical techniques and make them more effective, and in the non-surgical space, a lot of research goes into creating those products and making them more effective as well.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in analytics?

I’d definitely say to have a strong background in math and statistics. I kind of had a weird elementary school experience in that we didn’t follow a particular curriculum, but did a lot of math and science and logic puzzles. I did a lot of math classes in high school and college and grad school, too.

I always loved numbers. When I was a kid, I was on the swim team, and I would research the times of the others I would be swimming against because I would want to see how fast I would need to swim to win. I like to win.

We’re hiring! If you’re a business analyst don’t hesitate to get on board with Meredith’s team by applying to be our next Senior Business Analyst or Business Analyst.

Cancer Took My Breasts. Reconstruction Helped Me Move On.

Pre-chemo hair shearing.

The week I started chemo, I got my hair shaved off and made into a wig.

Our employees have incredible backstories. Community Manager Mari Malcolm shares her experience with breast cancer during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I’d just turned 35 when I found a lump in my right breast. My doctor told me I was so young that it was probably nothing. It took a few months before I admitted to myself I should probably get that optional mammogram.  

My original diagnosis was stage IV. Thankfully, I was really only late stage III, so I’m still here. But the tumor was so big and close to my chest wall they had to shrink it with five months of chemo before they could do the mastectomy. They took so much tissue, I was left with pretty much just skin over ribs.

The first time I peeled back the bandage, my knees buckled and I had to sit down, which my surgeon said was totally normal. Nurses would compliment me on the neatness of my scar, but I felt like I had been (very necessarily) mutilated.

I kept working through most of my treatment and recovery, often from the hospital. In an environment where showing weakness wasn’t a smart career move, I went to the office in a wig, missing eyebrows and eyelashes, trying to hide how tired I was with makeup.

I was honest about my cancer, but I wasn’t comfortable with most people knowing I’d lost my breast. For a year and a half, I wore a prosthetic pocketed into a bra and avoided low necklines.

Breast Reconstruction Isn’t a Given

Whenever I see stark black-and-white photos of breast cancer survivors baring their mastectomy scars, and I’m in awe of their badassery.

Choosing to live without breasts in this culture is an act of defiance and intense self-love. When I’ve talked with women who decided against reconstruction, they’ve told me that by the time they’d finished cancer treatment, they were sick of surgeries and just wanted to move on.

After five months of chemo, three surgeries, and six weeks of daily radiation, I understood this.

But also I suspected reconstructive surgery would help me move on in the way I needed to. In my oncologist’s waiting room, I’d met a fiftysomething woman in for a follow-up. She heard about my upcoming mastectomy and came this close to taking her top off to show me her new breasts. “Look, they’re so perky!” she enthused, giving them a squeeze.

After that, I knew if I made it to the other side, I’d get new breasts. I wanted a reality where I didn’t have to think about cancer every day. Continue reading

RealSelf Turns 10: Staffers Share How It’s Changed Over the Past Decade

Ten years ago, RealSelf launched in CEO Tom Seery’s spare room. Today, we’re a fast-growing company with over 130 employees located in Pioneer Square.

Getting from there to here has certainly been an interesting ride. From the early days of bringing your own fork to work (huh?), to champagne toasts of today, it’s been quite the journey. We have employees who have been here from the very beginning, to newbies who’ve only been here a few months. For our 10-year anniversary, we asked them to tackle two big questions: “What was RealSelf like when you started” and “What has changed the most?”

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RealSelf Community staff attend a Mariners game.

Sharon Walls, Community Engagement Manager

Years at RS: 10 

What was it like? RealSelf was still finding itself when I started. My first article was about SPF labels on sunscreen! The site was based around articles and first-person “as told to” stories. We were less focused on elective surgery and more focused on what women did to look their best.

Tom always had the mission to empower consumers through information.

What has changed? The site evolved from a single perspective (via articles), to having consumer reviews and doctor tips, which became the Q&As. I think the doctor involvement is what makes RealSelf truly unique. Consumers can get perspectives from fellow community members and also professional opinions from healthcare professionals all in one place.

Peter Krengel, Manager of Analytics

Years at RS: 3

What was it like? When I interviewed at the office near the ferry, they had just moved and there were half as many applicants as employees in the office that day because the phone lines hadn’t been installed yet.

What has changed? What’s changed the most is the sheer volume of work and progress the company is able to make on a daily basis. Going from 20 employees to 130 is nuts.

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Doctor Advisors at a spa day.

Maureen Ezekwugo, EVP Doctor Community

Years at RS: 6

What was it like? When I started in 2010, RealSelf was mainly unknown. Traffic was at 900K unique users a month, there were only about 1,000 claimed doctor profiles, our revenue model was fueled by Google AdSense, and Tom Seery carried a pink water bottle around to each meeting. There was no coffee at the office. No snacks, not even a fork.

You had to bring your own fork.

What has changed? Unique users have increased 10X, claimed doctor profiles are up over 12X, and we no longer have any reliance on Google AdSense to pay the bills. We have ample snacks, coffee and beer, a great following by both consumers and doctors, and Tom Seery has upgraded to La Croix and Talking Rain.

Most importantly, the talent and experience on our team has grown exponentially and continues to expand with some of the smartest people I’ve ever worked with in my career.

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RealSelf staffers ran Ragnar, a 200-mile relay race through the Pacific Northwest.

Meredith Russian, Manager, Administrative & Billing Operations

Years at RS: 6

What was it like? When I started, there were seven of us in the office. There were a very conservative amount of office supplies. No one had monitor stands, so we’d stack up reams of paper. The only office snacks were coffee (if Maureen made it) and Talking Rain. There were basically three departments: Sales (four people), then the Dev team (two), and Community.

What has changed? The biggest change has just been the displays of generosity from RealSelf to its employees. The bigger and more successful we’ve become, the more RealSelf has been able to bless its employees.

Charlie Chu, Doctor Advisor

Years at RS: 1

What was it like? I started in July in 2015 and instantly loved the atmosphere and culture. I think we were around 60 people, maybe less?

What has changed? We are growing so quickly and it is exciting! The Doctor Advisor team has grown and developed a ton. When I started, we only sold doctor spotlights. Now we have a new and improved model, invited non-core doctors, renewed almost all our doctors, added business pages, and new treatments.

I love how our team and company is able to grow, adapt, and make an impact!

Debra Gravelle, Doctor Advisor

Years at RS: 4

What was it like? I was the fifth advisor on the team, and it was a very close-knit group. Because I am remote they keep a hangout open so I was always with the team. Even on a bad hair day.

What has changed? The number of employees has increased so much in four years that when I make my quarterly visits I always think, “When did all of these people show up” So now I get to be on a hangout for meetings and trainings, but don’t show my face any more because a bad hair day is my new norm.

Anthony Mendonca, VP of Engineering

Years at RS: 5

rs-office-1
What was it like? Much smaller! This is a photo of the developers’ office, just enough room for the four engineers we had at the time. This wasn’t even the first office, just two months before this, we had one developer, and we were squished into an even smaller office with everyone else.

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What has changed? Aside from the growth itself, it’s been amazing to see how our culture has flourished with every new team member that’s come aboard. I’m happy to be a part of this family.

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CEO Tom Seery.

Tom Seery, CEO

Years at RS: 10

What was it like? I liked that I got to work with my wife for the first, and probably last, time.

What has changed? My perspective on our purpose. It was an idea to empower consumers, and now is one that is about delivering on our mission to instill greater confidence.

See more of our 10-year anniversary celebration via #RealSelfLife on Twitter, and be sure to check out our Careers page and learn more about how you can help shape our next 10. 

Continue reading

Summer Fridays: Getting Real at RealSelf

If you popped by our office after 3pm on a Friday in August and no one was here to let you in, we apologize!  This August our team got out of the office a few hours early each week to spend time with friends and family enjoying the Pacific Northwest summer.

We made the most of those extra hours, and got to know each other a bit better by Slacking the fun back to the team on #MyRealSelf.

Here are some of our favorite #MyRealSelf moments – we hope #YourRealSelf has a great Labor Day weekend!

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“#myrealself getting our Asian on!” – Mia Fahmie & Marie Thacker, UX

Blueberry farm

“Blueberry farm #myrealself & @Eva.Sheie” – Maureen Ezekwugo, Doctor Community & Eva Sheie, Practice Development

Sea...what---

“#myrealself and my really happy family having a proper meal. Grateful to have the extra time to be able to show this kiddo how to use chopsticks and eat seaweed!” – Patricia, Product & Engineering

#myrealself #mybroinlawsfiestabday

“#myrealself #myrealbroinlawsfiestabday” – Kelcy Heringer (middle, right), Market Development

#myRealSelf on a boat

“#myrealself on a boat.” – Kirsten Mann (left), Doctor Community

#MyRealSelf ...when I get home from the gym

“#myrealself…when I get home from the gym” – Finnian Durkan, Recruiting

Molly Surf

“#myrealself” – Molly Brown, Content

#myrealself volunteering at the school.

“#myrealself volunteering at the school” – David Berge, Engineering

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“#MyOtherRealSelf” – The Analytics team + Tobin (Doctor Community)

Sharing our #realselflife a day early!

“Sharing our #myrealself a day early!” – The Community Team

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“One week in and i’m already lovin’ it! Thanks everyone and I can’t wait to meet more of you all! #myRealSelf” – Fabio Pena, Finance

Join in the fun. Check out all our jobs

Giving Back: Celebrating the Start of School With a Treehouse Drive

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At RealSelf, we love to find ways to give back, and the Treehouse back-to-school donation drive seemed an especially great opportunity to contribute to our Seattle-area community.

An organization that supports foster children, helping to give them “a childhood and a future,” Treehouse has a strong focus on leveling the playing field for foster kids, so they can graduate on par with their peers.

A big part of feeling confident about going back to school is having appropriate gear and nice clothes. This year, Treehouse’s Wearhouse expects at least 900 kids and their foster families to come through its doors to prepare for fall classes.

During our two-week donation drive, we collected over 80 backpacks and 70 items of clothing.

There’s still time to help! If you’d like to host a donation drive or make a gift, contact Treehouse.

Learn more about RealSelf and all our giving efforts, including our new Fellowship for doctors. 

The Dogs of RealSelf

We’re a fast-growing company with 100-plus staff, but our favorite workmates tend to be our dogs. While every day is dog day at RealSelf, to celebrate National Dog Day, we’ve posted a few of our regulars seen around the office, coding skills optional.

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Name: Coconut Disco

Age: Around 3

Breed: Chihuahua with some Dalmatian, according to a questionable DNA test

Department: PR/Marketing

Favorite part of working at RealSelf: “Even though I can’t type, RealSelf welcomes me with open arms as a member of the team.”

If I were a human, I would be: “The Queen.”

Maggie

Name: Maggie

Age: 10

Breed: Everything!

Department: Community

Favorite part of working at RealSelf: “All the cuddles. Cuddles are my favorite!”

If I were a human, I would be: “A nurse. I love looking after people and making them feel better!”

pete

Name: Pete

Age: 10 (70 in dog years!)

Breed: Yorkshire Terrier

Department: Admin ops

Favorite part of working at RealSelf: “All the people and the attention!”

If I were a human, I would be: “A ladies’ man. You would probably find me on The Bachelor.”

bone

Name: Bone

Age: 8 months

Breed: Golden Doodle

Department: Community

Favorite part of working at RealSelf: “All the love.”

If I were human, I would be: “George Clooney before he met Amal — all the ladies love me, but I just won’t commit.”

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Name: Moose

Age: 5.5 Months

Breed: Field-line Golden Retriever

Department: Sales/Admin

Favorite part of working at RealSelf: “Inhaling food and crumbs off the floor because I am a living vacuum.”

If I were human, I would be: “A happy wittle toddler.”

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Name: Nico

Age: 8

Breed: Alaskan Klee Kai

Department: E-mail and Analytics

Favorite part of working at RealSelf? “I get pet a lot and sometimes get to play with other dogs. I’m also not left alone, which is the worst thing ever.”

If I were a human: “I could take advantage of my looks and be a model (everyone thinks I’m adorable), or my springiness and be an athlete.”

Oscar

Name: Oscar

Age: 2.5

Breed: Chihuahua/Terrier

Department: Content

Favorite part of working at RealSelf: “Smelling all the smells.”

If I were a human, I would be: “Justin Timberlake, a forever puppy.”

tully

Name: Tully

Age: 4

Breed: Italian Greyhound

Department: Doctor Advisor

Favorite part of working at RealSelf: “The love I get from the ladies, and the reprieve from my 4-month-old Dalmatian sister.”

If I were a human, I would be: “Al Pacino, a small Italian man with lady skills.”

Lucas

Name: Lucas

Age: 8

Breed: Pomeranian-ish

Department: Recruiting

Favorite part of working at RealSelf: “Being with Mom all day. The leftover hot dog pieces on Occidental Avenue after game days are also great.”

If I were a human, I would be: “Wait, I’m not?”

Find out more about working at RealSelf, and all the other perks of our office.

Watch: Why We Love Working at RealSelf

We’re excited to share two new videos about why RealSelf is such a great place to work!

Our Online Community

The RealSelf team talks about how our online community brings transparency to life-changing decisions, while also being a trusted place for people to share experiences. 

“We’re providing information and community for people that are in transformative places in their lives,” says Ed Anderson, a DevOps engineer.

Work Life at RealSelf

Look inside our beautiful new office space and hear what inspires us about working here.

“You definitely get access to have your voice heard, whether it be in decisions about what we do in the office, or big product changes that are going to impact millions of people in the community,” says Jennifer Moses, our PR director.

Want to learn more about working at RealSelf? Check out our careers page for information about joining our team.