Welcome to our blog series: Meet the Team, where we will introduce you to the minds behind Command Prompt. This month we are talking with Amanda Nystrom, Owner & Senior Project and Operations Manager.
How long have you been with Command Prompt?
Six and a half years. I originally joined the team as a consultant in 2009 for about a year, and when the stars aligned I ended up back here in 2014.
What’s your background and expertise?
My background is in communications, business, and psychology. I’ve spent a lot of time refining company processes and policy in order to achieve a balance of efficiency and quality for our partners.
What has working in Open Source / Postgres taught you?
In the simplest terms, I’ve learned that there’s always another way of doing things beyond the status quo. I had no knowledge of open source when growing up; the only option I knew of was out-of-the-box Microsoft. When I discovered open source, I was blown away. The discovery that we have the freedom to create and design on our own terms was crucial to who I am today.
The fact that we have a complete database solution (and even more than that) that is community created, maintained, and free to the public is an amazing thing. It’s not just about making money; it’s about providing a stable, secure environment for everyone who doesn’t want to be limited by restrictions in order to do what YOU want. That’s what freedom is all about.
What is it like to manage a team of systems and database admins.?
It’s a lot of fun and has been a good challenge. There are moments of frustration but overall it’s a great experience. Earning each other’s respect while working toward a mutually beneficial goal was top priority when I started, and it was something that I had to build with each member of the team. This is part of what makes Command Prompt different: we don't just send out paychecks, we invest in people and get to know our team on a much deeper level. We aren’t perfect by any means, but we’re honest and open about it, and we try to improve. Because of that, we are able to count on our team and they are able to count on us.
What kinds of roles are available for non-technical people in tech? What should a non-technical person look for in a tech-based organization?
If you are adaptable and willing to learn, there are countless opportunities for someone who isn’t technical. From office management to marketing to business development to project management, every organization has needs across the board, whether it’s a tech-based company or not.
I love project management because it’s a great life skill and every business needs one to be successful. Being able to break down any project into its parts and lead a team to complete each part is infinitely useful in professional and personal life. It’s also a profession where you can grow, and you don’t necessarily have to know the project subject matter intimately in order to succeed.
For non-technical people looking at joining the tech field, do some self reflection and ask yourself what you are truly interested in and how much you are willing to learn. If the company as a whole represents something you believe in, then there’s no reason why you can’t learn the skills needed to join.
What’s your greatest motivator?
My greatest motivator is taking care of people. It was never my intention to become a mother hen, but now I feel like it was inevitable. I love taking care of my family, friends, and colleagues, as well as people I work with at Postgres Conference. It’s not just about getting the job done; to me, it’s about investing in the people around me and doing what I can to help their lives be better. Sometimes it can be to my detriment, but honestly I believe that if we were to focus on each other more and ourselves less, we would have less hurt and pain in the world.
What tips do you have for those now working from home successfully as someone who has done so for years?
Set a schedule for yourself and make sure you have a dedicated and comfortable non-interrupted space. Try it for a couple weeks, then reassess. Are there areas where you’re less productive? Are you distracted? Remove any personal items from your workstation (relocate to a folder) that remind you of things you’d rather be doing. Ignore your phone. Ignore the news. Stay off of social media. Take meaningful breaks every hour or so to walk around and stretch. Most importantly, take a break at least once during the day to kiss and hug your partner/kids/fur babies. It is a blessing to work from home and often we need reminders when it’s difficult. Taking two minutes with your family members can be a breath of fresh air that reminds you how blessed you are. (If you don’t have people or animals, get a plant and talk to it. They love it and it’s good for you.)
Where can we find you on a Saturday afternoon?
Depends on the season. In the spring and summer it will often involve sharp tools, swear words, gloves, and blackberry bushes. In the winter, I’m usually with a book or working on any number of home projects. When I’m lucky, I’m traveling somewhere in my short bus.
Would you rather battle one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?
100 duck-sized horses. I am a big lover of checking things off a list in order to show progress, which keeps me motivated. With 100 duck-sized horses I could just check them off and know that the end was in sight, as opposed to fighting a boss duck that may or may not show weakness until it’s at the end. Finding what keeps you motivated is really important to achieving your goals, whether you're fighting mythical mega-ducks, or in reality.
Desert island food?
My impractical answer: Any pasta dish from Italy. My practical answer: something like potatoes or beans. Basically anything where you have protein but also all of the nutrients your body needs to survive. Plants on the island may or may not be edible, so you need to make sure whatever your one food is has what you really need.
What book should everyone read?
There are so many fantastic books out there that I’d love to recommend but I think the top three would be Fahrenheit 451, Unbroken, and Cowboys, Mountain Men, and Grizzly Bears. Really any nonfiction book that sheds light on how far we’ve come, what our ancestors went through to give us our privileged lives now, or what we need to be careful to avoid in the future. Our lives are short, and I believe we should spend that time with an attitude of gratitude and respect.
What should everyone see/do before they die?
Travel, anywhere. Get out of your box and see how other parts of the world do things. Don’t just go to the tourist attractions; try to experience the place as the locals do. When I went to Rome in 2019 we didn’t wait in lines with hundreds of people to see the main attractions. Instead, we walked the back streets for hours experiencing the little shops, restaurants, and parks that most tourists would never see because they spent so much time at the “things you must see.” That said, if you are a “big sight” junkie, that’s great. My main point is just to get out there and experience other places and ways of life.
For those that can, take a road trip to Utah/Wyoming/Montana. It truly is a trip of a lifetime and opens your eyes to a world you never knew existed. From the dramatic landscape changes to the sheer power of Yellowstone to the nature and wild animals that make you appreciate the trek that our ancestors took through the “wild west,” it’s the most amazing area that far too many people aren’t aware of.
Other than project management, what topic are you an expert on?
Wifery. I love being a partner and housewife, as well as a successful professional. Being a successful partner is arguably one of the hardest things we do, as it requires a level of consideration, balance, and cooperation that most other jobs don’t. You have to work on it 24/7 and pray your efforts are good enough to take care of the other person’s heart. You have to learn to grow with them as you both change, and adapt when things get hard. Outside of being a parent, it’s the most important thing we can do.
Early bird or night owl?
I love early mornings...just not enough to experience them very often.
What subject should be taught in schools but isn’t?
Personal finance, and how to be self sufficient. For some reason “you can do whatever you want to in life” has turned into “you can do nothing and still make money” to an unfortunate amount of people. Working hard shouldn’t be something we turn away from; it should add motivation to achieve. Maybe also “How to survive without your cell phone.”
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer, a doctor, an architect, a lawyer, a singer, a business owner. Probably a wizard at one point. You know, the basics.