Lizards. The war

Here are some stories from Mariupol, Mykolaiv, Irpin, Kyiv region, and Kyiv itself, told by the Lizards, whose February 24 began there.

About ones who didn't believe russians could start this full-scale war and others who felt that something horrible was about to happen.

About how our colleague from Mariupol, a mother of two, hid her sons under blankets while taking them out of the occupied city by car. So that they don't see dozens of mutilated corpses of civilians right in the middle of the streets. And the burned areas that were once their schools and kindergartens, parks and shopping centers. Their beautiful seaside town. Before the russian invaders.

About how our other colleague from Irpin, which is a few kilometers from Gostomel, that was being attacked by the russian invaders, got out of the methodically shelled town. She didn't have a car to leave right away, and the friends who had one left without her. She did not catch the last minibus to leave on her own, because the bridge on the way, which was still possible to evacuate by, was blown up very soon.

About how to live on, when everything around is collapsing – your life, reasons to live on, your house, your business...

And how we all did manage to live on.

Ihor, Kyiv: Lizard Soft in a New Reality

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What now
Lizards conquer the mountains! Winter mountaineering school, February 2022

I am now in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, I brought my wife here with her parents' family. There are seven of us here and this is our fourth place to stay. Here it's calm and comfortable. There're many people around, there're no problems with food. There is one more positive thing: my wife Kateryna's brother is a chef. All this time he cooked whatever you can imagine. It surely lifted everyone's spirits.

My mother and sister with her child left Ukraine for some time. My father, although not liable, works in the space industry, and all of them are now involved in fieldwork. So he should be in Kyiv several times a week.

Soon we'll leave our girls here and go further: first to Vinnytsia, to a small village without any signs of urban comfort. But these conditions don't frighten me, I've repeatedly gone to the mountains with a tent at low temperatures. Then, when the situation is stabilized, I'll move to Kyiv.

Of course, because of this, a certain anxiety is felt in the family.

"But in general, I consider this situation as normal: we gathered all together, thought of everything thoroughly, made up a plan B, plan C for various cases, and now we react and adjust our actions accordingly."

February 24

February 24th started with a very early morning call from my sister. I unconsciously rejected the call and fell asleep again. Soon I received a message in a telegram, «Ihor, wake up, the war has started.» We understood what happened from the news.

"The first emotions are confusion and shock. However, already within 30 minutes we mentally pulled ourselves together. I already had an action plan noted on a piece of paper a week before, similar to the one we worked out for the Company two weeks before the war began. So we started implementing it point by point: what to do in different cases, where to hide, what to take with us."

We contacted the relatives and determined their situations. Then I contacted Lizard, and Kateryna called her company.

We updated this morning's situation and then started working.

With wife Kateryna on vacation. Before the big war

Lizard Soft: first day of the big war

The first day of the big war was more or less safe for Kyiv. I remember early in the morning we already held a meeting with the directors, Vasyl, Vitaliy, Ilya, and I were on the phone.

"We quickly identified the Company's priorities – first and foremost, the safety of the Lizards – and our next steps. We all understood: to support the Lizards, pay the expenses, and not lose Customers, we have to pull ourselves together and work. The Company must survive."

So, when the daily meeting started at 10 am, I was already fully focused on the Company's priorities and positions. And then I started individual management: I found out what is happening in everyone's life right now, what thoughts, what problems, whether they have money, what about their families and children.

Remote workplace at home. Before the big war

We have quite large teams in outsourcing. I also include developers who work on various projects and are located in different cities throughout Ukraine. Some texted me, I texted some. And the first question was always «how are you?».

Lizard Soft: first week of the big war

At first, my wife and I stayed in Kyiv, in an apartment next to which there is a small military facility. Not the best place to feel safe (ed.: smiles).

Over time, the situation worsened, the future of Kyiv looked completely unclear. Air raid sirens began to sound, from time to time we went down to the parking lot. And so, running here and there, I chatted with everyone who needed attention.

The Sociology and Psychology Faculty of the University named after Taras Shevchenko, which I graduated from, taught me a lot about psychology. And I know that psychology always works for each of us. It must be understood, reflected upon, and explored in order to live a better life.

So I understood that in the conditions of the war that begins, less stable people will «fall out». And we won't be able to join the work. Although work is the best way to relieve ourselves, to switch from our worries to exact, practical matters, without «sinking» in our anxieties.

"I divided people into three categories: «everything is fine», «need help», «potentially need help». Then, Olena (ed.: Lizard Soft HRG) created the table, where I entered the data that I already had at that time."
«We work even at night during wartime.» A new workplace, a non-glare flashlight, a thermos with tea, a laptop, and
Lucky the cat

There are more «panicking» people, and it was easier with them: it's easier to get them out of this «pit». Also, there were morally stronger, more mature, with a clear self-centered – and this is normal – position. And it was also necessary to establish contact with them through negotiations: check up on their psychological state, find out what can be done to help, and encourage them to work in the mode that is possible – part-time, full-time...

No one canceled our work responsibilities, so we all worked.

"I do respect everyone on our team. I work for people. If they are not ok, the Company won't be ok. That is why, on the very first day, we confirmed the safety of the Lizards as our main priority."

Later, it turned out that while pulling people out of the mental abyss, all this week or one and a half passed. It was still one endless day for me.

Friendly shoulder tactics

From the very first day, we communicated in the teams one of our key principles: supporting each other, doing more than we did before. This is exactly what the current moment requires of us. And I, of course, implemented this principle by my own example.

Self-made shelter1.5 m deep with covers

For example, one of our project managers in Mykolaiv (ed.: Maksym) started volunteering at the Red Cross of Ukraine. So I had to take over his responsibilities. In the same way, nearly as a temporary administration in banks, I entered all our project groups and operationally led each of our daily meetings. At the same time, having already moved near Kyiv to my relatives, I dug and arranged shelter facilities.

"On Monday, March 7, we were all working.

And a few days later, Arestovych (ed.: Oleksiy Arestovych, military expert, the then President Administration Chairman adviser) says that everyone who’s more or less safe should work, relaunch the country's economy by earning money, making purchases, etc. And I realized that the decisions we made were correct."

Since then, we have already implemented a tougher policy of collaboration, the main purpose of which was to «pull ourselves together and work».

«Some specialists began to show even better results than before the war»

We know that in IT there’re a lot of «subtle» people, somewhat spoiled. And it was necessary to make sure that this «corrosion» didn't spread through the teams. And yes, we succeeded: partially, where I could, I covered the business processes myself.

"Some specialists began to show even better results than before the big war, working part-time. And I didn't even see a drawdown in work, and this is taking into account the fact that many working days «fall out» for many people!"

When you, the developer, have a lot of money in your pocket, you can afford a lot of things, you are safe. When missiles fly above your head, people shoot around, people have machine guns with them, many of us get scared. And that's normal. So, someone has to give them a plan and lead them along. That's exactly what happened.

At the time, I think I was making the best possible decisions. And they have already shown their effectiveness.

Lucky the cat controls the quality of Lizard Soft's work

The new reality, new tasks
Lizard Soft's birthday 2021: a long-awaited gathering after a long quarantine. Ihor and his team make the Company's logo from improvised things

Now Customers, surviving in their businesses, reprioritize very quickly, and we need to make assessments from scratch very quickly. It's quite difficult: Lizard Soft is not used to such promptness. We have always asked our Clients to voice their decisions to us. But now the situation is the opposite.

That's why I'm currently acting as a «witch bad guy», clearly stating: within the framework of the Company's four areas of activity – the sale of O365 licenses, consulting, product business with the international division, and outsourcing division – three are currently on pause. Licensing business that generated our cashflow; consulting, because now companies are surviving, not developing, so it's not relevant for now; international division works, earns money, but getting money from abroad is difficult nowadays. So that now available reserves can be consumed very quickly.

"So now each team must become business-creating units and learn to earn money on their own, pay themselves money on their own supporting the Company."

The toughest week

The third week of the big war has its risks: people are already involved in work, but still very unstable. When a person told me «everything is fine», I already understood: two days, and he/she will be done. And this third week was probably the most difficult.

One of our biggest Clients requested revisions of all projects. Those are several sub-projects with estimates and decomposition. Considering that we haven't done much according to estimates, we had to take into account all the risks, complete teams, and organize their work. They were angry at each other, they didn't want to work... Plus, those people who were in the active hostilities areas (Kharkiv and its suburbs, Mykolaiv, Mariupol, Irpin, Bucha, the suburbs of Zhytomyr, etc) needed great emotional support even in the third week.

Lizard Soft's birthday, 2021: a team of business analysts together with Igor showed an unrestrained festive mood

However, in the end, this difficult week did focus us on work: we developed patterns of psychological behavior and synchronization at daily meetings. And on Friday evening (ed.: March 18, 2022) we completed the tasks we'd set ourselves.

Since then, although I work 24/7, I already allow myself to sleep on weekends.

After our Victory

When this war is over, we will rebuild this country. I'd join in with physical help, too.

I'll complete my psychological education in the direction that interests me, and then I will go into a certain life coaching: I will help a person, at their request, to take life in a brighter, more correct way. To see the beauty in those paradigms, in that picture where a person exists.

A message to myself for February 25-26
"1. Have a plan B, plan C, plan D. If you want peace, prepare for war. And play it safe.

2. Be ready every minute to start over with what you have now."

A message for the Lizards

To be the Team. Remember that at any moment we are a Team. It's never shameful to ask for help, offer help, ask «how are you doing», and do more than you did yesterday. To create something greater than you, Lizard, can do on your own.

Lizard Soft's birthday, 2021
"To believe in our Company. To create our Company, create a business and remember that any crisis is also an opportunity for growth. And the outcomes we're demonstrating now show that we're doing great, we're efficient professionals who pulled ourselves together very quickly, supported each other, and «broke» into work."

Yes, the Clients changed a lot of things. But now we have to overcome everything and understand that this new reality is for a certain time. And we have to adapt to it and become a Team, a remote community, and build something new now.

Lizard Soft Birthday 2021: Lizards, Baby Lizards, and Zowe's tail (on the right) are sure everything will be fine!

In conclusion
"Each of us is now creating and making history in the place we are at. We have to take responsibility for these historic developments and get involved where we can. And not to interfere where we can interfere."

Believe in our Armed Forces! Have faith in our volunteers!
Believe that everything will be Lizard!

And everything will be Ukraine!