Category Archives: Uncategorized

RealSelf Fellowship Assists Project Medishare’s Haiti Efforts

For 15 years, Dr. Seth Thaller and his team with Project Medishare have taken humanitarian medical trips to Port Au Prince, Haiti, every quarter. Some trips have been postponed due to social, political, or environmental factors, but whenever the barriers clear, the Miami-based doctor and his team are back helping the community.

Dr. Thaller’s team has treated hundreds of patients on these trips. Most need surgery for cleft lips, cleft palates, or significant burn injuries, patients with issues so severe that they struggle to adapt to regular society. Patients just like the 38-year-old woman Dr. Thaller treated on his most recent visit to Haiti. The woman suffered from a cleft lip. She complained of breathing issues and had trouble eating. She talked about the shame she felt from her facial appearance and how often she noticed people staring. A mother of two, the woman dealt with the issue her entire life.

Now, the woman never has to be ashamed again.

The woman was one of 22 patients Dr. Thaller’s team operated on during a recent trip to Port Au Prince. Although the trip was a familiar one for Dr. Thaller, there was a change this trip. This time Dr. Thaller traveled as a member of the inaugural class of the RealSelf Fellowship. The RealSelf Fellowship awards funding for medical professionals donating their time and expertise to deliver care and training in underserved communities around the world. Project Medishare is entirely self-funded and relies on programs like the RealSelf Fellowship to make these trips possible.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. There is desperate need for improved medical care. Not only for reconstructive surgical care, but for even routine, basic healthcare. Patients travel from all over the country just for the chance to receive care from visiting doctors. The trips are not only vital to the patients who undergo operations, but also for training and improving the standard of care.

“We have definite plans to continue our enduring promise to our Haitian neighbors,” Dr. Thaller said in an interview with RealSelf.

The procedures Dr. Thaller and his team performed don’t just fix issues, they change lives. The conditions can be debilitating and fixing them can be a platform to return to society whether it’s a child returning to or starting school, or an adult getting back into the workforce.

To make a sustainable impact, the effort needs to go beyond performing a couple dozen surgeries once a quarter. That’s why education is such a focus of the trips. Dr. Thaller said his staff works with the local care providers to assist in pre- and post-operative care. They also work with local surgery residents.

“They were able to closely observe our surgeries, and we could teach them directly,” Dr. Thaller said.

“You will always get more from these trips then you are giving,” he said.

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

RealSelf Hosts Asian Diversity Meetup

“I grew up not realizing I was Asian.”

This was a surprisingly common answer to the first question at our latest Meetup panel discussion at RealSelf, “The Misconception of ‘Asian’: Faces of a Generalization.” Organized by IncludeSeattle, it was the second event in the group’s “Removing Stereotypes” series.

As the Seattle community is home to many Asian Americans and people from all parts of Asia, we were happy to host this conversation.

Laughter, honest stories, and respectful discussion were the hallmark of the event. Attendees shared their stories in a town-hall discussion that ranged from the recurring question, “Where are you from?” to the pros and cons of living in a “melting pot.”

Being Asian in America is filled with challenges, from shattering stereotypes to finding your way in a company. The panelists shared stories from their upbringing, education, and now lessons they’ve learned in the working world.

Although Asian stereotypes are often positive, these mind-sets still cause problems. “Being Asian, and especially Asian female, you’re expected to respect authority, even to be submissive,” said Cecille Nguyen, a wealth strategist at Pacific Capital Resource Group. “There’s a corporate term for it: ‘Coachable.’ ”

Panel guests included professionals from the Seattle business community: Anousinh Siharath, senior recruiter at Nintendo America; Nguyen; Jess Estrada of freshjess.com; Ron Villahermosa, president of MediaDojo Inc.; and Sapan Parekh of Bellevue College. And RealSelf’s own Maureen Ezekwugo, VP of our Doctor Community.

IncludeSeattle organizes workshops and does consulting to help individuals and organizations grow more inclusive environments.

RealSelf is proud to participate in community events, the next one we are helping sponsor is the Tech Jobs Tour stop in Seattle on May 24, hosted by Lesbians Who Tech.

Want to work for one of Seattle’s best companies? We’re hiring! Apply to join our team today.

RealSelf Fellow Repairs Communities One Surgery at a Time

Dr. Andrew Wexler is no stranger to humanitarian medical trips just like this one. He has decades of experience and has performed hundreds of surgeries on people in need.

But it’s not often he encounters a patient with a case as challenging as Lydia’s.

Dr. Wexler met Lydia on his recent trip to Zimbabwe, as a RealSelf Fellow traveling with ReSurge International. It isn’t uncommon for him to meet teens like this 17-year-old. Many need surgery for cleft lips, cleft palates, or burn injuries. Lydia was in desperate need for something more. She needed significant facial surgery after suffering devastating injuries when she was run over by an ox cart.

Lydia suffered a panfacial fracture, which includes fractures in the upper, middle, and lower parts of her face. She needed significant and complex surgery.

Fortunately, Dr. Wexler and his team were there and able to help. His decades of experience proved pivotal as he was able to incorporate older technology and techniques to the surgery, even building a dental model, a skill not all facial plastic surgeons, even experienced ones, have.

“It was just a remarkable stroke of luck and fate for this girl that, 1) a team was there, and 2) that myself, a member of that team, just happened to be the right person at the right time for her injuries,” Dr. Wexler told RealSelf. 

Dr. Wexler and his team operated on Lydia for eight hours. The results are dramatic.

Photo courtesy: Dr. Andrew Wexler

Remarkably, Lydia was released from the hospital just a few days after her surgery.

In addition to Lydia, Dr. Wexler treated five other patients and spent a significant part of his trip training local medical professionals, focusing on using the equipment available in the local facilities. It forced Dr. Wexler and his team to adapt to what was available, but also to help train local providers on the equipment they use every day.

Dr. Wexler traveled to Zimbabwe as one of the Fellows in the inaugural group of the RealSelf Fellowship. The RealSelf Fellowship awards funding to medical professionals like Dr. Wexler who donate time and expertise to deliver care and training to underserved communities worldwide.

Photo courtesy: Dr. Andrew Wexler

Traveling and teaching is somewhat of a life’s work for Dr. Wexler. In 25 years worth of humanitarian medical trips, he’s visited more than a dozen countries and performed hundreds of operations.

“When you fix a child with a deformity you not only fix the child, but you fix a family,” Dr. Wexler said.

As part of every trip, Dr. Wexler says the educational component is key to leaving a true impact. “It is a little like throwing a rock into the water and watching the concentric circles move out from the center,” he said.

“My goal is to stand on the banks of the water and throw as many stones as I can with the distant hope that with each change of a child, a family, a community, in some little way I can make a difference in the world.”

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

RealSelf kicks off book program with ‘The Upstarts’ about the new rules of Silicon Valley

What are the new rules when it comes to being successful in tech? This week, RealSelf staffers got a firsthand look with our new reading program RealSelf Reads and Brad Stone, author of the new book The Upstarts

As a veteran journalist covering Silicon Valley for Bloomberg news, Stone visited RealSelf to talk about his latest book and participated in a wide-ranging conversation about Airbnb and Uber, and how these groundbreaking companies are rewriting the rules of tech. He covered topics ranging from how to build a brand, to flying cars, and other emerging technologies.

Stone specifically talked about how both companies are ushering in a new era and redefining the way millions of people travel. He pointed out that neither Airbnb or Uber were the first to explore their markets — they just did it better than their predecessors. Both companies achieved success by finding and connecting with large audiences with needs and providing the best experiences to satisfy those needs.

“When you create an alternative that people love, and present them with new economic options where the options are very constrained, they’ll flock to your brand,” he said.

Why talk about Airbnb and Uber? As recent upstarts that have gone global, there are a few ways RealSelf can benefit from their playbooks.

Stone stressed the importance of building trust with your audience to succeed, adding that companies need to embrace that responsibility and “walk in their customers’ shoes” to understand what they really want.

As for flying cars? Stone had some good news for everyone commuting into the office.

“Everyone from West Seattle will be flying into work pretty soon.”

We’re hiring! Look over our career ops and apply today.

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.

We Made the PSBJ Washington’s Best Workplaces List

We keep getting nods for being an awesome place to work, the latest coming from the Puget Sound Business Journal.

PSBJ just announced its list of finalists for Washington’s Best Workplaces, and we made the cut! RealSelf landed among 21 other midsize companies in the 100-249 employees category.

RealSelfer Madison Philips rocking the red dress at last year's PSBJ Workplace awards.

RealSelfer Madison Philips rocking the red dress at last year’s PSBJ Workplace awards.

With 100 employees and growing we made PSBJ‘s Best Workplaces list for the second year in a row.

According to PSBJ, employee surveys determine the finalists. Workers rate their companies on “questions related to job satisfaction, relationships with their bosses, camaraderie with fellow employees, opportunity for advancement and more.”

The top three companies in each category for PSBJ‘s Washington Best Workplaces will be announced Aug. 11 at Safeco Field.

Engineer Turned Rap Star Has His “Code Goin’ Up”

Being the star of a rap video was never in the cards for me. I’m a software developer, gameCodeTuesday_BTS-8r, and cellist born to strict, conservative Asian parents. So when Brandon O’Larey, our executive video producer, approached me with the idea for “#CodeTuesday,” I’m sure you can believe I was stunned. So much so that, at first, I declined.

It wasn’t until we met for coffee the next day that I got a true sense for his determination and dedication to the project. His excitement was infectious. He told me he believed I could do it. Who could say “no” to that? (Our CEO, Tom Seery, couldn’t.)

CodeTuesday_BTS-7

It took the collective effort of the engineering, product, and design teams to land the lyrics for the rap. We went line by line, a group of nerdy RealSelfers pulling together to write Grammy-worthy lyrics which would inspire software developers far and wide. You know you’re in good company when a colleague suggests you add the words “tight-ass code” to improve the flow of a line. There were no merge conflicts with that change.

I practiced and practiced until I could see myself on stage with Drake at CenturyLink Field. It wasn’t until the morning before tCodeTuesday_BTS-3he recording session that I began to feel anxious. Lucky for me, Brandon had a 24 of Olde English and a brief hip hop history lesson prepared as we walked into the studio. After a few short hours of head bobbin’, hand wavin’, and beat droppin’, we were out the door brimming with confidence. This is going to be good.

The track was ready and the beat was right, so we threw a party in the office. If you cover the windows, turn down the lights, and blast some rap music, our office becomes a club and our team hot and poppin’. We didn’t wait for an earthquake to bring the house down. I’m glad we caught it all on camera.

CodeTuesday_BTS_BW-4

Want to join the RealSelf Crew? Apply now!