Vida TEACH: Learning From the Passions and Expertise of Colleagues
By Jack Norman, Software Engineer at Vida Health
At Vida, we have a whole cast of characters, from the leather-working engineer to the car-racing product manager to the fencing summer intern. We started Vida TEACH to learn from the diversity and expertise of those around us and to learn about the hobbies and after-hours activities that drive each and every one of us in a unique way.
A typical Vida TEACH day begins like this: the lovely employees of Vida wake up earlier than usual, because they can no longer stand to sleep, buzzing with excitement for the day’s TEACH.
Once at work, they all raise their adjustable desks to standing positions. A murmur flows throughout the office when the Vida TEACH presenter arrives. At this moment, a message is sent company-wide announcing the day’s topic and conference room location.
Zesty brings lunch at 11:30. Vida employees rush to fill up their plates, so they can have the best chance at getting a good seat for the TEACH. While the presenter sets up, everyone discusses what they already know about the subject.
“Vida TEACH has been a fantastic way to build community at Vida. It’s a fun way to learn something new as well as more about my coworkers’ interests outside of work. I look forward to it every week!”
— Jacquie, iOS developer for Vida
The presentation begins. Sometimes there are slides, sometimes there are props, and sometimes there is an interactive component.
We learn facts. We learn subcultures. We learn things about the world.
We learn that the tip of a fencing blade is the second fastest moving object in sports, second only to a marksman’s bullet. We learn how to start designing a mobile app’s screen by learning about wireframe sketches. We learn that bartenders tend to dislike fancy cocktail requests because they’re so time-consuming. We learn that professional car drivers can brake more efficiently than a car’s built-in antilock braking system.
We are given tips: don’t put your vegetables in the refrigerator’s vegetable compartment; put them front and center so you are enticed to reach for those first. We learn about altitude sickness, which is a concern for back-packers and day-hikers alike, and how to help prevent it: spend the first night at the trailhead.
We learn of exciting use cases of artificial intelligence in mental health, such as predicting psychosis onset in high-risk youths. We learn that in Scrabble, the most “bingoes”” (playing all your tiles) possible in a single game is 8.
And we learn that there are areas around the world, called Blue Zones, where people live measurably longer lives than the rest. In Icaria, Greece, for example, one in three people live to be 90 years old.
All these facts, moments, and life-changing memories have arisen from just one forty-five minute lunch each week.
Jen, Head of Coaching, says it best:
“Vida TEACH has been such a creative and unique opportunity to find out more about my co-workers and what they are passionate about. It has led to us to finding common ground and working together in a more collaborative and meaningful way. We all look forward to the opportunity to learn about a topic that we may not have pursued learning about ourselves over a casual Friday lunch.”