What Matters to Me At Work?

Three years ago, when I was deciding among six job offers, I asked myself what my top three priorities were.

Three years later, I decided to revisit what matters to me at work now.

I will share both my original list and my new list in this post.

My Original List

1. Product & Mission.

I wanted to work on a product that I believe in. I wanted to work at a company whose mission I agreed with. Ultimately, I wanted to contribute to society through work.

2. People & Team.

I wanted to surround myself with people I could learn from, not only on the subject of software development but also on the topic of being a better person.

3. Learning & Growth.

I wanted a job that provided me with ample space and opportunities to learn and grow. Particularly, I was looking for:

  • challenging problems
  • experienced engineers to learn from
  • room to make mistakes and learn
  • opportunities to take ownership and create impacts

Based on these three criteria, I ended up choosing Gusto over Facebook and Airbnb.

Two Things That Matter to Me Now

The above three points are still true and important. But I look at things differently now. I have no doubt about Gusto’s product and mission. Every day, I feel grateful to work with amazing teammates. Yet the type of things I want to learn has adjusted in the past three years.

Given the first two points will stay true, here are the two things that matter to me at work now.

1. Learning & Growth.

Three years ago, my focus was more or less in technology. I was eager to build complicated systems. In the past three years, I had ample opportunities to train those muscles.

But the most important thing I took to heart was that engineering is a means to an end. We write code to provide values to our business. Because we believe in the missions of our companies, we add values to society through our work.

The best engineer is not someone who can write the best code™. The best engineer is the engineer who delivers the most value.

Although I still have great interests in technical topics, they no longer satisfy me. Knowing my work delivers business values gives me the ultimate satisfaction.

As a result, I broaden the areas I want to learn and grow. It’s no longer just about software development. I’m interested in everything that brings value to the business. That includes things like communication, prioritization, improving processes, etc.

2. Creating Value

If the first point is about what I get from work, this one is about what I provide. I want to create value, either by writing code or by sharing knowledge, experience, and principles.

These two things are both necessary for my fulfillment at work. I won’t be happy if I’m not learning. I won’t feel satisfied if I’m not adding value to my company.

Listing these two things helps me recenter myself. They remind me of what matters and what does not. I think they will help me cut through the daily chaos and noise, so I can find focus and meaning in everything I do.

So, what matters to you at work? =]


My career plan for the year is to grow into a tech lead. I’m excited about all the learnings ahead and would love to share this journey with you in a brutally honest fashion. I will be sharing my weekly learning on the blog.

In the next few months, I will focus on growing in the following areas. You can expect to see posts related to them:

  • focusing on the big picture of the project instead of near-term implementation details;
  • balancing my efforts between leading projects and coding;
  • work-life balance for long-term productivity;
  • the human side of software development: making sure everyone riding with me enjoys the ride and feels fulfilled and inspired.

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