Investing in the mental health of your team

I stopped watching football games like ~6 years ago when I was starting to realize that sitting on the couch doing nothing but watching a 90 minutes game is a waste of time and I can spend that time instead with my new addiction .. my computer.

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - La Liga

Before losing interest in following football games and news, I was like most other boys in my age. following all European football games and spending the rest of my time playing football in real life and on the old play station 1.

Last week I tried to break the boredom and depression in my life and joined the folks watching the game between Real Madrid and Barcelona and the experience was good. I kept looking at the big screen for more than 90 minutes and wishing my old time favorite team “Real Madrid” would win the game, and for my surprise they won the game.

Watching a good game and talking about it with other people (specially, Barcelona fans) was entertaining and I decided to do that again from time to time. and here I’m writing this while watching another game between Real Madrid and Manchester United.

Actually I started writing this when I was listening to the commentator of the game talking about how big football teams use full time psychologist to make sure their players are always in their best mental conditions, because if the players are playing while in bad mood, their performance would go down.

It’s not the first time for me to know about that, but It’s my first time to relate this to work generally. I’ve been reading for years about how great companies try to make a great work environment for their employees to enjoy every moment of being part of that company. which comes back with benefits to the company in many different ways.

The first thing to come to mind when I talk about this topic is Joel Spolsky’s series of articles about building great place for software developers.  I even wrote about this topic before in 2010.

The 2 main conclusions I wanted to write about after watching the game are;

1. Money isn’t enough to make your team happy

While those football players are getting 7 figures salaries, and while they’re considered to be the best of the best in that industry, and that they shouldn’t be playing for fun as they’re professional players. still, this isn’t enough to make sure that they will play well and win games with high scores.

If they are sad, angry about something or having anything bad going around in their minds, they won’t play as expected, and all the other investments that their clubs invested in them would go with the winds.

That’s why clubs get full time psychologists to keep watching their players and taking care of their mental health.

2. Get your team a psychologist

Yeah, if you’re the CEO of a company or if you have the authority to get a psychologist psychiatrist to take care of your employees, then you should do it.

The best and most paid football players always need the support of a psychologist, and I’m sure that your team of software engineers, designers, marketers and every one else need to have a one meeting each month with a psychologist, at least. and if you’re a big company then I think that a full time psychologist would be a must.

The psychologist will be most valuable in those days when there’re conflicts between your team members, and when there’re tight deadlines that are putting great pressures on your teams. plus all the other daily personal stuff that may your employees be suffering of. didn’t you ever try working after having a fight with your wife/husband?! (for example)

You may agree with me about this or not, but I would do that someday in my startup when there’s enough budget, and would advise my CEO and other CEOs in other companies and startups to do the same.

update: from the comments and discussions, I found that what I meant to say originally is to use a psychologist. my use of the word psychiatrist wasn’t accurate.

Late new year’s resolution

I’m 2 months late to put a new year’s resolution but the idea hit me couple of hours ago. I was thinking about how to reorganize my life and plan forward for the coming few years, but I remembered that I didn’t even write a new year’s resolution since 2008.

anyway, better late than never. so here’s my list for the coming 10 months:

  • Ballet dancing! (turned to be a bad idea)
  • use Nodejs in a real project
  • reach a satisfying decision about the best way to structure an MV* frontend JavaScript app
  • build a mobile web app
  • build 2 mobile apps for Android with the same features and look. one as a native app, and the other as a hybrid app to compare both methods realistically
  • work on my UI design skills for web and mobile
  • read more about product design and UX research
  • buy a bike to use for daily transportations in Cairo
  • buy a new phone and give my 2 years old phone to my young brother or sister
  • go to gym (a big lie .. but I have to list it anyway)
  • start writing again for PHP Master
  • write a new blog post here each week
  • try to remember parent’s birthdays early enough (mom: Aug 7th & dad: Oct 9) to get them presents. I never did!
  • travel to another country for some days
  • learn to cook healthy food and try to stop eating fast food as much as possible
  • redesign this blog
  • stop caring about what others say or think about me
  • memorize and understand part of Quran
  • start a strict saving plan and pay all my debt

This isn’t everything on my mind, but I think this list is enough to keep me busy till the end of year. hope I will do +90% of all that -isA-.

Introduction to MongoDB [PHPMaster]

This is kinda old news for some of you. My 2nd PHPMaster article was published like a month ago but I forgot to write about it here. This time it’s a step by step introduction to using MongoDB in PHP.

In this article I’ll introduce you to NoSQL with MongoDB. You’ll learn how to install the MongoDB extension for PHP, and how to add, update, and retrieve document objects. If you’re used to working with RDBMSs like MySQL or PostgreSQL, you’ll find some of the concepts of working with MongoDB a bit strange, but you’ll soon grow to love the flexibility and power that MongoDB gives you!

You can read the article here and wait for the 2nd part which is scheduled to be published on jan 20, 2012 (published: MongoDB Revisited). it will discuss more advanced topics that you will need in real life projects.


New article on about Zend_Pdf

I wrote a new article about using Zend_Pdf , which was published on days ago.

The PDF format is currently the most used format to exchange documents. If you provide your website users with printable versions of invoices, event tickets and other similar documents, you’ll most likely want to generate them as PDFs on the fly. In this article you will see how you can use Zend_Pdf to auto-generate PDF invoices.

I’m glad to write for the first time for PhpMaster, ‘s PHP blog. I have been reading their online content and books since 2005 and having the chance to write for them now is an honer.

check the article there.

When Army officers break promises – #ArmyViolations

Egyptians went out to streets on Jan 25, 2011 peacefully trying to bring a regime down and get their freedom and dignity back. after 18 days, Mubarak leaved the presidential palace and moved all his authorities to SCAF (Super Counsel of Armed Forces). more people went out to streets celebrating their victory and SCAF started by talking about how the bad era just ended and how they will start to a new era of respect, freedom and real democracy.

Unfortunately, the dream didn’t continue for so long and things didn’t go like what SCAF promised. we started to see news about how the army forced 18 women protesters to undergo virginity tests. Army started to deal aggressively with citizens like what police used to do before Jan 25. Army started to attack protesters in Tahrir square every night and arrested many citizens and they were trialed infront of military courts.

On the first day of Ramadan (Aug 1, 2011), hundreds of Army soldiers with many police soldiers attacked the protesters camping in Tahrir square and arrested 111 of them who were released after 2 days. there were some videos and blog posts by protesters that show how Army treated protesters violently.

These violent acts were repeated again during the fifth day of Ramadan (Aug 5, 2011). citizens organized a group Iftar which let Muslims and  Christians have a chance to eat together in Tahrir square after fasting all day. army soldiers were ordered to attack these citizens again after moments of finishing eating their Iftar.

This blog post is part of an initiative to blog about Egyptian Army violations. all what we want our Army to remember is that “your mission is to protect me, not to erase me”.

We respect those soldiers and officers who protect our borders and I was one of them before, but this doesn’t give them the right to treat citizens like that.  we are all live in this country and have the same rights and every one deserves to be respected whether if he agrees with the decisions of the SCAF or not.

Remember that you promised to protect this revolution and remember that Army ethics tells you .. never break a promise and never betray your people.


Ramdan - Army soldiers attacking citizen