David Lockie: First question: how did you end up working in tech? Tell me your story!
I think it started when I was a toddler. My parents bought me a computer. And basically, instead of going and playing video games, the first thing that I did was I opened the PC and looked at what was inside. And then I started playing around, just playing with the hardware and trying to figure out what it all was. My father got mad a couple of times because I broke something and he had to take it to the computer repair shop.
This was like the first touch with hardware. After that, I started with video games and then playing around with some editors and exploring the operating system. Of course, I ended up breaking my Windows operating system. So I had to reinstall it, and that was me hooked.
This got me interested in technology so I went to school and studied computer science. I also took this subject at college but I, unfortunately, dropped out because I was young and stupid, maybe too much energy, but not the energy for learning!
DL: Young and having fun?!
After that, I started working at my father’s company which is a metalworking business, and I worked there for a couple of years. But I didn’t like to always be dirty! So, I started learning web development and got my first freelance jobs which were for some smaller companies, and one thing led to another. One day I thought, why shouldn’t I open an agency, start hiring people and do more work like that.
So I did. I hired some people and we were working on some projects, and the company grew. But I noticed that the company started taking all my free time. And to start with that was okay, I knew I was growing up and needed to go through this. But also, I stopped programming, and this, I think was what affected me most. I wasn’t doing anything anymore that I loved to do. After that, I closed down the company and tried to find a job as a developer. After that I found a job developing a WordPress site, which I had also done in my company but on a more basic level. At that point, I had become a full time developer!
DL: That’s a cool story. I speak to loads of people who taught themselves how to make money with computers as a way to escape other jobs that they didn’t want to do. I think that’s a really common thing. I’m sorry that the agency didn’t give you the joy that you were looking for, but obviously pleased that this eventually led you to join Angry!
You don’t need to be sorry, it was an awesome experience. As I said at one point I just got sick of it and wanted to try a new page.
DL: It was enough. Yeah, I can totally see that. So you have run your own agency, and you have worked at another agency as well. Tell me, what has been different? What stands out about Angry Creative compared to other places that you’ve worked? What’s remarkable or notable?
I would say the other agencies that I worked at, were creative agencies. We were working with clients from all over the world but I wanted to try something new, I wanted to see how it is to work with a multinational company with people all around the world. So, this got me most excited to start at Angry. I also wanted to try some product development.
DL: Those were your reasons for joining, but since you have joined what’s been different about your experience compared to say working at your previous agency? Obviously running an agency and being a developer at an agency is really different but with both those experiences compared to Angry, what’s different? Better? Worse?
Oh, better. What I would say is I’m presented with some challenging tasks which are for me to figure out. I like it when something makes me feel that I really need to figure it out. From a bad perspective. I would say maybe remote work. It is what I wanted. But after a while, it can feel a bit empty and lonely. I know that we have the opportunity to go to work with the team face to face in Sweden or UK and that would be great. I would say COVID is the blocker and the bad part. So, let’s say COVID is bad!
DL: We can all agree that COVID is bad. It’s a shame that we have not had a chance to meet up yet. I’m looking forward to when we do. So you’ve changed from being an agency developer into a product development role. What has that changed for you on a day to day basis? Because it’s still writing code, still doing development. How does it feel different?
What changed from a day to day basis? I would say the task flow. Now I’m working on a feature, and it’s a big feature and it’s only one thing that keeps me occupied, so it’s not like when you’re working on the agency side you have multiple clients with multiple requests and multiple tickets. So you have, like all these tickets flying around! “I need to do this for this client” and then “I need to do that for that client.” So I’d say it is more mellow to have one focus. One feature that I’m working on and I can really put my mind into it.
DL: Yeah that’s cool I can totally understand that. So tell me a little bit about the feature that you’re working on and the product. What’s the wider product called and what’s the feature that you’re currently working on.
So the product (DL: actually two products) is called Qala Elastic Enterprise Search and Qala Elastic Enterprise Filters. Basically, it’s a plugin that enables integration with Elasticsearch so that we can get the benefits of Elasticsearch, not only through searching but also by filtering through products. So basically we have now a view with a bunch of filters that the client sets up, and it all works instantly. So, this is a really, really nice addition for every ecommerce client.
DL: Nice. Yeah, I’m a big fan of Elasticsearch and anything that makes websites feel a bit faster. So tell me what’s a day in the life of Kristijan?
Yeah, so basically how I start my day is with morning coffee.
DL: A standard developer morning…
Yeah, exactly. While the coffee is brewing I do some small workouts. I have like these videos on YouTube that I like that are great for working from home, quick workout routines. So I do one of those, or some stretching and push ups or something like that. When the coffee is done I sit at my computer, go through some news, some emails and stuff like that and then slowly go into my workday. We kick it off with some daily meetings where everybody just tells what they’re going to work on, if there are any blockers, that sort of thing. After that depends on the day; if it’s a meeting day then basically I’m across meetings with developers and I’m doing development, the whole day. Then suddenly it will be lunchtime.
DL: What do you do at lunchtime? Do you just sort of sit down and have a sandwich or do you go out and have a walk around or is there a good cafe nearby you go to?
It depends. If it’s like a nice day then I’ll be trying to grab lunch somewhere outside, take my laptop and drink some coffee outside. When the battery drains out, I go back home to my office. Lunch depends – every day I try to eat something different, I also try to eat healthily. I’m not much of a fan of fast food. Stuff like that is only if it’s a Netflix movie night or something like that, then I might get a McDonald’s or KFC or something. During the day I try to eat healthy and get some movement as well. I used to take some breaks during the day, just to go for a walk. Now, it depends. Sometimes I run into an issue that I need to debug and it’s keeping my head spinning around. I feel the best thing is to just step away from it and take a walk, some fresh air and then get back to it.
DL: And if that fails you sleep on it overnight and you usually wake up with the answer right?
Yeah, sometimes this is the case so I try to sleep well. But it depends on what the issue is.
DL: These exercise videos, will you share them with me? Because I think other people would probably really like to see them.
Yeh of course. (DL: Kristijan sent me this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKJstVC2mF4 – I did it and it’s good! High Impact stuff 🙂 )
DL: I’m kind of the opposite, I always have the same low carb smoothie for lunch. And I find that helpful because it means I know it’s good for me and I don’t need to spend time thinking about it. What’s a good lunch for you?
I love to have soup for lunch. Mostly I order things. We have good restaurants here in Zagreb in Croatia where I’m from. They deliver really delicious food and they’re also healthy. So basically I try to switch my meal every day. Sometimes it’s chicken salad or some steak or salad. Friday’s mostly Mediterranean food or some fish or something like that. For the weekends, I usually cook so I find some recipes and then with my girlfriend, we really love to cook during the weekend.
DL: What’s the best new recipe you’ve tried recently?
We recently made a beef steak with mashed potato and green peppercorn sauce which was awesome.
DL: Alright so you’ve had a healthy lunch, you’ve been out in the beautiful Croatian sunshine, and then you come back for the afternoon. What now?
That depends. It depends on what time, what season it is. I really love wakeboarding. So basically when it is summer, I’m actually not that much in Zagreb, I have a small vacation home on the coast of Croatia, and I spend my days working remotely from there. As soon as work time is over, I immediately grab my wakeboard and go to the park and spend the rest of the day there, basically just wakeboarding, grabbing some beers with friends and so on.
DL: That sounds amazing. And how do you keep yourself busy in the winter when it’s a bit too cold for that?
During the winter I become like a bear! I just lock myself into my cave! I just eat. I try to do some exercise but I mainly just play video games during the winter. During summertime, I try to avoid being at home as much as possible. And when winter comes, I try to avoid being outside as much as possible.
DL: That’s a pretty good balance! What’s your favourite game?
I’m part of the PC master race. But recently I got the PlayStation 5, and I got hooked on it, so basically now I’m playing PlayStation games like God of War or Assassin’s Creed, or I really love the Souls games like Dark Souls, Bloodborne and stuff like that, really challenging games. On the PC I mostly play like first person shooters.
DL: I play Call of Duty (really badly). So I’m looking forward to the next one coming out.
Yeah, I tried this and those sorts of games are good if I want to stress out a bit. Try Escape from Tarkov! It’s a bit addictive. It’s like this stress that you can’t let go of so you need to try again and try again. I encourage everybody to try to Escape, but not to get hooked on it.
DL: Good advice! All right. So in the summer, you’re outdoors and active. And then, in the winter, you’re huddled over your PS five keeping warm and shooting up some 12 year olds (or getting shot by them!)
Yeah, that’s true.
DL: Well that sounds like a very good life to me! So my last question is that if you were going to tell one thing to a potential client or teammate about Angry Creative, what would you tell them? To give people a little bit of insight as to what it’s like being here.
I would say it’s really really nice being here. We are colleagues, and although you’re disconnected physically, you’re still a community. Everybody’s really helpful. What I will also say is that the HR team is organising these team times (DL: we host regular team socials!) and those are really nice and it’s a different approach that I didn’t see anywhere before. Also, the feeling that I can’t wait to meet all these people live. Because when I’m talking to them, everybody’s so nice and I really feel connected with them and then I just want to meet them and talk.
DL: Perfect. All right. I’ve actually got one final question. I’m going to try this out on you because I’m borrowing this from another podcast that I listen to (UpOnly TV). The final question they always ask is: What piece of advice or wisdom, what “alpha” can you offer people; somebody wanting to make it in a world of being a developer, or just be a happier, wiser person. What piece of advice or insight could you offer?
I will say this. Don’t tell yourself, I will do it, just go and do it. I will say this is the best advice that I can give, because I noticed a lot of people are struggling with, “oh I want to become a developer,” or “I want to start this.” Then start today. When I started it wasn’t so easy. There weren’t that many YouTube tutorials and all the self-learn resources you have now. Now you have material all over the place. So, just…
DL: …do or do not, there is no try. Yeah. All right, that’s awesome! Thanks for sharing with us Kristijan!
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