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American singer-songwriter and actress

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Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots
459: Adobe Express with Kasha Stewart

Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 26, 2023 50:41


Kasha Stewart is the Director of Growth Engagement at Adobe Express. Victoria talks to Kasha about finding advocates that encourage her to chase problems, getting more women into product development and why it's essential to bring different perspectives into this area, and ways to bring connection between the end users and customers, engineering teams, and the rest of the organization to the business. Adobe Express (https://www.adobe.com/express/) Follow Adobe LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/adobe/) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/AdobeExpress). Follow Kasha Stewart on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/kashastewart/). Follow thoughtbot on Twitter (https://twitter.com/thoughtbot) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/150727/). Become a Sponsor (https://thoughtbot.com/sponsorship) of Giant Robots! Transcript: VICTORIA: This is the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots Podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Victoria Guido and with us today is Kasha Stewart, Director of Growth Engagement at Adobe Express. Kasha, thank you for joining us. KASHA: Well, thank you for having me. VICTORIA: Well, I thought I'd start off by asking you to tell me a little bit more about your background and how you found your way to product from starting out in film and video production. KASHA: I originally started...I have a fine arts background and did a lot of digital story narrative, post-production. Back in the day (I'm going to date myself.), you had to do...it was a very manual process of chroma keying and removing backgrounds, or refining someone's skin, or some type of background. That was where I kind of...it was my bread and butter. I really loved it. It was creative. Then in 2008, 2009, the housing market crashed, and the recession happened. And I thought, you know, I'm not a homeowner. What does it have to do with me? I'm taking these freelance jobs. I had just finished my grad program. And then all the jobs kind of disappeared. And I was thinking; here I was; I had gone to grad school. I had a really specific skill set. And then everything just poofed overnight, disappeared. And I thought, okay, well, what's more stable? Like, what could I do to secure a little bit more stability in my job, career? So I started applying for jobs in all these very different tech, like, they wanted people to be what we used to call a preditor, like, a producer and editor, someone that knew how to do this but also knew how to like FTP massive asset files and also knew how to flag something for when things were going wrong. And so I thought, okay, well, let me just apply for one of these. I have some of the skills. I tick the box on some of the requirements. And there was a job...it was actually on Craigslist. I actually didn't even know if it was a real job or if it was a scam situation, but I applied. It had a very unusual title; I think it was content distribution editor. And I thought, okay, well, this is interesting. And it was for abc.com. And this is about 2010. I applied. They called me. I thought, okay, why is ABC on Craigslist? But never mind, it was a legitimate job. And I got into what we call content distribution, so understanding content management systems. And I would be the last person that would actually process the content that would then be delivered to Hulu platforms, abc.com, many different affiliates. There were also Verizon mobile deals at this time, where the cell phone carriers had their own television networks that they tried to stand up. In that process, I started to really learn about licensing, how content is distributed, meta-tagging, and then also the architecture of a CMS. And I just for the life of me couldn't understand why this was built this way. It was a very cumbersome tool. And like clockwork, around 11:00 p.m. at night, it would crash. And if you hadn't saved your metadata on a notepad or in a spreadsheet, you're basically starting over from scratch. And I remember asking all these questions, and they were like, "Well, it's proprietary software, and it was built in Seattle." And I was like, "Yeah, but did they ever talk to the, you know..." I didn't know the terminology like end user at the time. But they never talked to any of us that were part of this small team that had this really pivotal role of publishing the content. And I remember asking all these questions. I had a supervisor at the time. And he jokingly said, "Well, you should go into product management since you love to ask questions." I didn't even know what product management was. I was like, well, I'm on a producer's track; that's my goal. I have this film and narrative background. And a role came up internally, and it was for a product specialist. I would say I needed a little bit of convincing to apply. I had some advocates in HR that saw this role and thought I would be perfect for it. And I was like, I don't know, it has all this data analytics. And what does this have to do with people and storytelling? And they were like, "We think you should apply for it." And I made the transition, which is rare sometimes in corporate and internal transitions. But I did make the transition, and I became a product specialist. And I kind of dived deep in into understanding consumer products from a front-end experience. So before, it was more from a distribution and back end. And now it was really focusing on the UX flow, the UI. What are the targets? And how do we position the content? And then, what are our consumers saying about the content? So I did open up a whole new world for me. I went ahead, and I made plenty of mistakes. There were times that I was like, I don't know if I'm for this if this is right for me. And people definitely weren't shy then. They would tell me, "You don't look like a product manager." Or "You don't have that background of CS or data and analytics person." And I totally didn't, and I never sold myself as a false representation. But what I did have was I had this really strong inclination of really understanding from the consumer perspective. I always took it back to even in my own circle. And I think I'm an early adopter. I love technology. But I also have friends that are still using Yahoo or Hotmail. And I'd be like, "Oh no, you got to try Gmail, or what about Gchat? This thing came out. You have to check it out." And I would think...back when I was building out these products, and this was, to level set, this is around the time of Web 2.0. I would think, oh, well, how would my friend in New York use this? Or how would my mom find her content? Or, how would my brother... And I think sometimes we get very seduced when you're building something, especially as a product manager, that everything is from your lens and from your perspective. And the data and then also the feedback was telling us that we weren't really hitting it where consumers were. They weren't able to find the content as easily as we hoped. And from there, I jumped into kind of entertainment streaming platforms, building out architecture, CMS, and then eventually transitioning into growth-led roles and then leadership roles later in my career. And so I've had the pleasure of working for startups like Beachbody, which was a fitness company big in the fitness space but smaller on the digital perspective, all the way to going back to Disney leading a team at Movies Anywhere. And now, I'm leading a growth team at Adobe. VICTORIA: Wow, thank you so much. That's so interesting. And we have a couple of different tracks we could get into here. One thing I want to note that I thought was interesting is when you got into your new role, what really kind of presented itself to you is that you identified a problem in the UX. Like, you kind of lateral moved, and then you found this problem, then you had advocates who pushed you to go in that direction. And so, if you have advice for people who are looking to make that transition, how do you find those advocates that encourage you to chase the problems that you find? KASHA: Oh, that's a great question. People ask me this frequently because I think on paper, it is hard. And no one's going to find you in your cubicle...or now a lot of us are working remotely in our houses. So you have to be your best cheerleader and campaign manager. I also think, like, what is it that is on your top three lists? In product, we have nice-to-have, must-haves, and then we kind of prioritize or stack rank our work backwards from that. So I ask people, "What's the most important thing for your next role?" And then those are the things that you need to either lean in and start to amplify that you're already doing and how you would make a great candidate. I think internal candidates do have an advantage because they know the culture, or they may know the players, or they may see something from a different perspective, but they know what the company's challenges are. So I would start by first talking to your manager, and you can have a great manager or not-so-great manager, but start there. Show them that, you know, I'm on this track plan, but I really want to be here. Are there things that I can do in my current role that would support that transition? Are there people that you can recommend? And sometimes, you can get traction with your manager, but if you can't, then start to search within your network. And if there's a product manager who's maybe in your org or actually would be maybe at the same leveling or someone new, start to explain to them, "Hey, I would love to set up a coffee chat, a 15-minute informational just to hear how you did it or what's your perspective?" And constantly, as you're taking notes...people usually like it when they get an opportunity to share their story or talk about themselves. And as you take notes, "Ah, I am actually looking to transition to that. Do you have any advice for me? If you had something in an open role, what would you want from that candidate?" And so you're constantly planting those seeds of like, I am this candidate, here's why. And product managers and, I think, also hiring managers, we have a room full of distractions. But if something's laid out to me in concise language and it's showing results of like, oh, well, I did this on the content management side, and I think this would be transferable, and here's why. And you don't have to be long-winded. I'm not into people writing dissertations and producing 20-page decks. I don't always have the time to read that, as lovely as it sounds. Drive in on your skills. How are they relatable or transferable? And then, what are the goals that you've been able to achieve in your current role? And what are you looking to do in your next role? And I think if you start to place yourself there...and definitely get out and start talking to people in your employee resource groups. And then also, internally, there's always, at some companies, there are HR or employee resource groups that will have at least a blog post on how to transition within the company, and if they don't, search out those people. And it's not an overnight process. I've seen people where it's been a flip of the switch, and they're on a rocket. And I've seen other people where it's taken time, but they've built those rapports with people that started to get to know them outside of their current role. VICTORIA: That makes a lot of sense. And you're also involved in many professional networks. And so, do you also get a benefit for your career growth from that? KASHA: Yes. I feel like I never stop learning. As much as there's always something new coming out, I mean like now I'm into the chatbots and AI. And I'm like, okay, here's another thing I got to learn. Let me [laughs] add this to my to-do list. So I never want to take that for granted. So I feel like the communities kind of keep me, you know, it's a temperature check of what's going on, either from a challenge perspective or what type of new technologies people are integrating into their existing platforms, and how it's actually growing or benefiting them, whether it's from a machine learning and building out recommendation engines that have saved time, and then actually gets smarter. And we're building out algorithms all the way to, you know, what would it be like to have AI enhancements on an existing platform and still help drive that high-value consumer experience? So I don't take for granted. I also recommend people that, even if you're not in product to, join product communities so that you start to hear the language and you start to see how product managers think and how hiring and leadership think. And LinkedIn is a great resource. I belong to Women in Product, Black Product Managers. There's a slew of Tech Ladies. And I'm always kind of looking. There are newsletters that I love, Lenny's Newsletter. And I'm always like, oh, that's a nice one. Let me take that away for my team, or, oh, I didn't actually see that. I didn't think about that. I didn't see that playing out with NFTs in that way; hmm, really interesting. Or that TikTok is taking over search. And now I'm like, okay, how can my product that I'm growing from an engagement standpoint also have really strong representation on TikTok in a way that's authentic and users can find us, and we can continue to engage with users that way? Start small. Find the right community that works for you. There's also Product-Led Growth, Product Alliances. There are so many of them. And I think you just start to kind of join them if you can. Some of them are free, some of them have dues. And they're really worth it. It's a value add. And you never know who's going to be posting in these Slack community groups too. You might see something where they're okay with associate level or okay with someone transitioning, or looking to help someone transition. And I often mentor and direct some of my mentees in that direction so that they don't feel like they're in the passenger seat of their career and waiting for something to happen. You have to be active in this pursuit. And you also have to be a driver in it. VICTORIA: Right. I felt that myself in my career. I felt like my network was my number one source of learning like you said. And also, when you're considering a career change, sometimes you don't even know what else is out there or what other types of jobs are out there. [laughs] I love what you said about that. And you also mentioned Women in Product and Black Women in Product. How can we promote those groups more [laughs] as we get more women in product? And why is it important to bring a different perspective into product? KASHA: Yeah, that's a great question. I mean, I think podcasts like this, you know, letting people know. And then also, when I do a post on LinkedIn, I do the hashtags of all the groups that either I belong to, or I might tag them. One thing that I do when I do start to mentor someone I say "Be active in the community, share your voice. You're going to start to get comfortable." Product managers have it...it's not a career for the weak, I'll say that. [laughs] And you have to have an opinion, so start small and start promoting yourself in those groups or hearing what people are saying. And even if my company is hiring or someone else, another hiring manager, and it has a post, I'll say, "Oh, did you think about posting this or adding this hashtag to this? This would definitely help give you a different type of candidate and also get more traffic." And it's important to me because if I think about the world population and how we're changing, and who's showing up, you want that representation of the people that are working on it. They're going to be thinking about it from a different lens that I didn't even realize that that was an issue or oh, wow, we need to really tap into that. Or actually, we should promote this in a different way because we're going to cast a wider net, or we're going to cast a really specific net. With this demo, it can grow by 10x. Versus us thinking very generally and saying, "Well, we're happy with a 2x growth." So that's why it's important to me. I'm also always balancing, like, do I have enough representation of women? And do I have enough representation of men on the team too? I don't want to go one side too far and then I'm out of balance and I'm just hiring the same people that are like me. It is kind of challenging sometimes because I have to think about what does the team need? What is the team dynamics missing? And who is that person that can bring in or usher in that different perspective? And then also work cohesively with the existing team. And so that's a lot of balancing act that I do in my current role and really thinking about okay, well, we're serving small businesses. We're serving social entrepreneurs. Has anybody ever done that? We can be very kind of elitist in tech, especially in product of, like, well, I do it this way. I've [laughs] got Discord, and I have all the NFTs that I've ever wanted to collect. And I can hear and listen to all that, and I can geek out. But then I'm like, if I go back to my friends, they'll be, "Kasha, what are you talking about? Can you speak English to us?" [laughs] And they'll be like, "Can you please calm down?" And I'm like, "Oh, but there's this thing." And then I'm like, well, maybe I need to have someone who is not like me because they're going to be thinking of that person who really just has a simple task they're trying to solve for. They have a limited amount of time, and they also have limited patience. They're not in a place where they want to learn and go on YouTube and watch a tutorial. They're really just, you know, "Hey, I need to get this birthday card or this invitation out for my kids. And this was a free product that I saw from SEO results, and I'm here." And that's the value in finding that person and then carrying them through a journey. Me, I'm going to be picky. I'm going to probably research. I'm going to look at reviews. I'm going to look at two other competitors that I'm going to start to line up. [laughter] And then you've lost me by that point. You want to get that person, and you want to make it a frictionless experience. So I do encourage, when I'm building teams, to think about the dynamics, always going for people that are, you know, want to be there and that are really dedicated to the product but also bring a different perspective than I did. And I come from an untraditional background in tech, so I think that's probably why I'm so conscious of this and how we can make these changes. And I think, historically, or the data proves that diverse teams often excel faster and better than traditional teams. VICTORIA: Right. And teams that are diverse and are in an inclusive environment where they feel like they can bring their authentic selves. KASHA: Correct. Yeah, it's one thing to have diversity, but then it's also another, you know, the counterbalance of inclusion. And how do you set people up for success that have different backgrounds? And I have a great strong team of rock stars, as I say, but they all are different. They all need different things. They all have different kinds of needs from a coaching or leadership perspective. Some I'm more hands-on, others I'm hands-off. But as a leader, it's being perceptive of that and saying, okay, well, this person likes to run their own ship. I'm going to be here on the sidelines. And this person I'm going to be out front. I'm going to be walking with them side by side. I don't know why I have all these sports analogies because I was terrible at sports in junior high, in high school. But I always feel like I'm this coach out here with a whistle and a clipboard. And I'm telling them I'm like, okay, I'm going to set this person up. This person is going to happen here. And that's how I look at it from a growth perspective. When I'm really assessing the roadmap and the backlog and what's going to be our impact, I'm also thinking about, well, how is everybody working cohesively? And is there a way that we can have shared experiences so that that way, oh, we learned from such and such an experiment, and that's going to influence the other half of my team? Or, actually, I'm going to have them focus, or I know that we're going to have too many mobile tests at the end of Q2 because the monetization team is also trying to test something very similar. So it's a constant juggling act in my role. VICTORIA: Right. I very much relate to that. I was a competitive rock climbing coach a few years ago on top of my full-time job. KASHA: Oooh. VICTORIA: And my kids would ask me if I was also a motivational speaker [laughs] because I was always pumping people up while they're climbing. So yeah, I find it fascinating how you think about the needs of your team and your own growth from an individual contributor into a leader. And how do you coach people in your team along that path, like making that transition from being really strong in product to managing a team of product people? KASHA: Oh, that's a great question. And I love that you're like a rock climbing...I love that. I'm like, [laughs] what we call thumbs. I would just be looking; I mean, just thinking about rock climbing, my hands are probably getting sweaty right now. [laughs] And for my team, I do have people that they're getting to a senior PM level, and they're like, "What's next?" And I really like to do an assessment of, like, "Well, what do you think is next? And what is really going to help your career growth?" And some of them are like, "Well, I want to do leadership. I want to do this." And I ask, just like I ask in any product question, "What's the why behind that? Is it a financial contribution? Is it a recognition? Or is it that you are really invested in people development?" Because one thing I do like to preference, especially people that are in early or mid-level careers, is that managing a product versus managing people are two different skill sets. And I didn't even understand that when I started to get into management; I kind of fell into it. I had a leader that exited the company, and it was like, "Oh, gosh, what will we do next?" And I was just like, "I think we should still continue to pursue the roadmap [laughs] is what I would think to do first." So one of the things I do say is that your work is going to change. I don't PM, and I'm not regularly with the engineering team on a day-to-day basis. And so I will say to the team that first, at certain points, you can balance it. You'll have both where you might own still part of the portfolio, but then you have maybe one or two direct parts. But as you start to grow, you will start to transition out of the day-to-day or building individual features or initiatives. And I do ask my PMS, are they ready for that? And if they check all the boxes and say that they have a strong why, then I start off by, okay, well, let's see if our team is eligible for an internship. We're going to open up an internship this summer, and instead of this intern reporting to me, they're going to report to you. What's your onboarding plan? What's your growth strategy for this person? And then, what do you want this person to accomplish at the end of the internship? And it's a baby step for them to kind of get their feet wet on what is it like to lead someone? And then also, what are the challenges? There's always a perfect storm where things go great. But what about the times when things are not going great, and how do you communicate with that person? What are the nudges that they need to give for them to either redirect them, or what are the things that you need to do to kind of show them the happy path to success? So those are where I start. We have international teams and people onboarding. I work for a huge company, so there are more opportunities there. But then I will also say if someone wants to drive and be in a leadership role, what are the mentoring opportunities within the company? So, how would you mentor somebody? And what would be your advice? How do you set up a weekly cadence? What are your expectations of this? How should they measure success and goals? All these are things that are going to be transferable when that opportunity comes up. And then also, too, what is the right situation? Is it a mix of where I'm 50% IC and then I'm, you know, this other 40%-50% of people management? I encourage them to look at opportunities internally, even if I'm at the sacrifice of losing what I call one of my rock stars. I know that it's inevitable for people to grow. And I never want to be the person that held someone back out of jealousy, or fear, or my own insecurities. And I do have a strong network that when I post something, I get so many candidates. It's almost to the sense of like, wow, this person is greater. Wow, this person...wow, they went to Stanford, and they did this, and now they're transitioning. And I'm like, oh my gosh, they want to work with me. And so that's always very exciting. So I never want to get so trapped in the ideology that the team is only great with these people. I'm like; the team starts with me and my leadership. So I need to be able to build a team. I need to be able to grow a team. And sometimes, you might have a great talent pool, and other times you don't, and then what do you do in those? I mean, that's what leadership really is. It's not always when you have everybody applying for your job, and you have all this funding, and your P&Ls are going incredible. It's those times where they come back to you and say, "Yeah, we're not going to get that done this sprint, so you'll just have to figure it out." Or someone's resigning that you didn't see coming. And then you're like, okay, I might have to roll up my sleeves and take over their part of the roadmap just as a stopgap till I have someone. And that's the things that can make or break your leadership. VICTORIA: Yeah, it's easy when everything is going great. [laughter] KASHA: Yes. Don't we love that? [laughter] Mid-Roll Ad: As life moves online, bricks-and-mortar businesses are having to adapt to survive. With over 18 years of experience building reliable web products and services, thoughtbot is the technology partner you can trust. We provide the technical expertise to enable your business to adapt and thrive in a changing environment. We start by understanding what's important to your customers to help you transition to intuitive digital services your customers will trust. We take the time to understand what makes your business great and work fast yet thoroughly to build, test, and validate ideas, helping you discover new customers. Take your business online with design‑driven digital acceleration. Find out more at: url tbot.io/acceleration or click the link in the show notes for this episode. VICTORIA: You mentioned a few times, switching more into your approach to product management about the experiments that you run. Sometimes those go great, and sometimes they don't go so great. So can you tell me about a time you ran an experiment, and the results were really different than what you expected, and what did you do from that? KASHA: Oh gosh, yeah. There are so many. I'm trying to think of what's the best example. Gosh, I'm like, do I go for mobile? No, web. [laughs] Well, I think in growth, a part of your experiment should fail because if they're not failing, that also means to me you're not taking enough risk. And you're taking things that you already know, in some ways, are like low-hanging fruit, and you're very comfortable in it. And I do encourage my team to take a big risk of how do we start to find something? We recently had something to help users on the AI side. It was a really unique feature. A user uploads an image, and AI automatically spits out templates with this user-generated content. And we were so excited. We were watching the demos, I felt like on replay, you know, as we got out the meaning. It didn't necessarily do what we thought it would do. And so then we had to take a pause, like, what happened? And one of the things that we learned from the test is that people just didn't understand what they were supposed to do. They didn't understand the process of their workflow. And they also weren't engaged with what the results came back. So I think that's one thing that, you know, I know there's a lot of chatter in the space about AI taking over and where are we going to be. And I still think we need to have that human perspective, that person that is like, hey, these search results are really not what the consumer is looking for. And yes, it solved a requirement of picture upload output, but the output is not matching what the consumer's needs were. It didn't solve their problem. And we have to constantly continue to filter and refine the algorithm. So our first output back was not great. But what we learned is that we have to have more variety of the type of output of content and that we also have to do more hand-holding. As much as we think that people are going to dive right in because it's in the press, and it's in TechCrunch and on Verge, that is not our general population. I can talk to my girlfriend; she's a doctor. And she's like, "Hey, I'm just really trying to do this for my local women physicians network." All this other stuff, she's like, "It's kind of overwhelming to me." And I didn't even see that. I was just like, "Aren't you excited that you have five options? She's like, "No, I just kind of needed the one thing with the squiggly backgrounds [laughs] and the template that I could alter." She's like, "These don't actually really speak to me." And so we had to come back and re-define the algorithm and also think about less choices for people; as much as we were like, we can randomize it; we can output more types of templates. It's really about finding the cues that the user is giving us to find that right match, and it's not something that I think we're going to get...and knowing from the test, we're not going to get on the first try. We're going to continue to test this, and that's what's going to make it better because we stress-test it. I mean, in growth, sometimes, I tell my team, like, don't get our hopes up, our hearts set into it because we can spend a lot of time in crafting the experiment and doing the 50% and then the other 50% control and variants, and then when it comes back, they're just not excited, or the consumer just didn't really gravitate or attach to it. And so then we have to stop, and I think, okay, there's a lesson here. Is it the education? Is it the guidance? Isn't the language that we use? You'd be surprised how one word can throw off someone's context. And they're turned off, or they don't want to do it. Or they like, "Oh, this is kind of cool. Oh, I didn't realize that this was a free service." Or, "Oh, I didn't realize that I could save this, and it's removing the background for me. And then now I have all these options." Growth is a hard challenge. I mean, we move so fast, which is what I love, but then we're always kind of looking at the data and having to constantly pivot and transition based off of our previous tests. [laughs] Now I'm thinking about a time when I was at Beachbody, and I was so excited because I got to do native app development on mobile platforms, and I'd never done that before. We were all excited. We had an iOS product that was really strong. And, of course, many of the people that worked in the office were all iOS users. So they weren't even thinking about Android. And we had just missed the mark as a company not really focusing on building out a great Android native app experience. And we were just kind of relying on the mobile web experience. And I remember thinking like, oh, okay, well, you have something. And then I went into a Facebook community group, and I just saw all the complaints. I saw all the people's frustrations. I saw also all these user-generated hacks. People were sharing what to do when your video stops. And I just was like, oh my gosh, we need to get on this. And so from that experience, I was able to champion and be one of the people that was like, hey, we need to help drive this. On Android, we need to really, like, this is really a problem. We could set ourselves up for success. And then we can also grow in other markets outside of the U.S. And I remember looking at the first designs, and they were all done by our creators' team, which were iOS users. So even in that situation, I think of that as more of growth internally versus putting something out user-facing to the consumer. It still was a challenge. Like, how do I influence? How do I show that this is not the right path? How do I show that, hey, we're not using material design or best practices, and this is going to hurt us in the long run? Because people that are on these platforms on Android they're used to seeing things in this manner. And we're presenting it to them in another way, and then now we're wondering why they're confused. VICTORIA: Right, right. And you mentioned a couple of different tactics to connect to that consumer voice. What other ways do you try to bring that connection between the end user and the customer, to the engineering teams, to the rest of the organization, to the business? KASHA: I'm very privileged in my organization. We have a really strong user research team as well. As we're doing our experiments, depending on how large or how much time we'll invest into an experiment, we will do a prototype kind of test in a smaller pool, let's say, before we go out to A/B test or have a controlled and variant situation. And sometimes those are the little things that I can take back, a video, or likes, comments, and send it. I don't even need to wait for it to be polished into a presentation or to a Confluence page, or even in Jira. And I can say to my counterpart, "Hey, Ganesh, do you see this? This is what I'm trying to solve for." And then it's like that aha moment. And I can say, and, you know, and engineers are always delightful. And they'll say, "Well, that's only one data point." And I'm like, "Yes, but it is a significant point. And I think if we tested this more, we will see more people are struggling with this." And how can we change that? What are their solutions? And I'm really big on collaboration. Product owns kind of the deliverables and the path and is accountable for the results. But this is a joint effort between design, between data and analytics, and engineering. So early on, I present the problem. This is the why; here's kind of our best path. But what do you think? And that to me and my career has always yielded such a higher result instead of coming from an authoritative or dictatorship of, "Well, this is the way that I've envisioned it. Here's my mocks, here are my wires, and this is why," and then kind of leaving it out to pasture or throwing it over the fence and saying, "Okay, and I need it in a week and a half." And I've been on both sides of different product teams, and different engineering teams work differently. But I have found that when you get people to buy in, to care, and then also give them that consumer value of that person is frustrated; I mean, that's what was the trigger for me when I went into the Facebook groups. I really didn't have the biggest inclination that we were having such a problem on Android. I was an iOS user. I was happy with the product; I could get my workouts in, or I could find what I was looking for. And then, when I did that, I started screenshotting. And then, I started to share this out in the Slack channel. And then there are also ways...now we have so many things where you can have bots that will record the feedback if someone says something in the App Store. That's one way to kind of bring it up to people. And then, if you don't have the funding or have an in-house user research, there's always usertesting.com. That is one way that you can start. Even if you work with design, and you guys are a small team, "Hey, I am so committed to this working. But I really would love to run a test." And then also running a survey after people test or even in product, you know, what did they think about the experience? And if you can't even get that, you can always do thumbs up, thumbs down. [laughs] You can always do is this a four-star experience or a five-star? Would you like to tell us more? I would say that sometimes we have blindness to surveys and to people asking for our opinions because you just want to get to that thing. But that small sampling of people that do respond, I think, is a way for you to kind of, if you're not sure, think about this directionally. I was leaning more towards this, but, wow, this user research came back, and I think people are going to really appreciate having this extra step. Which is something like an oxymoron for me because I'm always thinking about, well, what's the easiest path? Or what's the least path of resistance to getting the user into the experience? And then sometimes you're dropping them into a whole new what we call canvas or experience, and they have no idea what to do. VICTORIA: I liked the way you described your approach or how not to do it was like, just throw things over a wall [laughs] and say, "This is the way." KASHA: [laughs] Yes. VICTORIA: One of my questions that I like to ask people who have design and product backgrounds is just what does product design have to do with DevOps? KASHA: Yeah, so everybody has to have a starting point. And a lot of times, I was definitely a product manager when I was more in the day-to-day, and I see where...in my mind, I like to figure things out on my own. And that way, I like to come with this pretty package of, like, I thought of all the different angles. I thought of the best use case and the worst use case. And as much as that was delightful for me, I noticed that the people in engineering would kind of check a box too, and they'd be like, okay, done. And then we might get to a certain point, and they would be like, "Oh, well..." one time when I was building something for Beachbody, and, again, it was on Android, and it was the search. And I didn't think anything of it. I was just like, oh yeah, top result, then stack rank alphabetically. And then I hadn't thought about new content. And I remember thinking, like, why didn't my engineer say this? Because this is something that we do on iOS. And they said, "Well, you never asked us." [laughs] And I was there, you know, "But you work on the product too." And they're like, "Oh yeah, but you run the show. So this is what you wanted, so this is what I coded." And I just remember feeling like I had egg on my face in a meeting because now we had all this new content coming out, and the search results weren't accommodating for new content. They were accommodating for the existing metadata. And I just remember thinking like, never again. And from a DevOps perspective, I think of there's a lot of change in the industry where we also have product ops people as well. And I think of it as additional layering; it can be good and bad. I think there are positives and advantages. I think there are always growing points. And I think you have to give what is the ultimate goal? Like, if you do have a DevOps team, are they also early in the iteration? Are they part of the brainstorms? That's how I run my small pod. We have design, analytics, and engineering part of our early brainstorms. So instead of us kind of holding our ideas in a huddle, we will kind of tee up, let's say, our top five and say, "Hey, directionally, this is the direction that we're going." And we're framing it to the problems that are most important for us to solve. So we don't turn it into a hackathon where people are trying to build a spaceship in a brainstorm. That's not the goal. The goal is that, hey, we have these particular problems. This is the direction that we want to go in, and this is how we carry it through. And then, what do you guys think? And then we're in a Miro board in real-time. And we put the timer on and then get everybody's opinions. And some product groups I've seen where product team doesn't actually talk to the engineering. They just talk to the technical PM, which then translates out what the actual specs and requirements are. I haven't been part of that type of org yet in my career. I have been traditionally where it's a one-to-one ratio where if there's a product manager, there's going to be a data and analytics analyst assigned to them. There's going to be an engineer assigned to them. There's also going to be a designer. And that's been my sweet spot. And I've had a lot of gains and tractions for that. In my mind, ideas can come from anywhere. It doesn't have to start with product, but product is going to be the leader. And I don't want to think of it as a gatekeeping situation. But we're the ones that are going to drive it through with our own cross-functional teams as a partnership. So I hope that answers the question about DevOps; I'm not sure. Sometimes I can get into a little bit of a tangent [laughs] and start talking about my own experience. VICTORIA: I love talking about it because some product, people will say nothing. [laughter] KASHA: Oh really? VICTORIA: And I'm like, no, you're supposed to talk to people. Bring everybody in, and that's the whole philosophy of it. And I like that you mentioned product ops and design ops as well, thinking about how you can automate the process of what you're doing or how the information flows across your team. I'm sure with your designs and end product, and everything is more on the product ops side. KASHA: And I think having an ops, you know, it does have like one central point of contact. So if you want to think about alleviating steps, or reducing the white noise, or the friction that you may have in the organization, you have one kind of point of contact. And that person will own it, and they'll almost become a mini pod and then distribute the information, which is definitely like a gain and a positive. I just wonder on the reverse side, though, how does that engineer or how does that designer then surface, "Hey, what about this?" Or "I think this is a better way," or "Actually, we tested this two years ago, and the results weren't great." And so that's the only thing where how does that two way-communication go back and forth when you have ops? I think ops definitely gives more structure. You're definitely in a high performance. Everybody knows what their marching orders are. We know who's on first. And we also know from an accountability and an escalation process where all these pieces are working together. So I can see the benefits to it. I'm not opposed to it. I just want to make sure that the people that are actually building the product also have time to have a say and have an opinion. And whether that helps change me, I want to at least hear the feedback first. And then as a product leader and as a product manager, it's up to that person to make the decision of, like, okay, you know what? I've thought about this looking at the data, or this person raised a really significant point that I hadn't considered. I do think that we need to think about this and focus. That's the advantage for me, I feel like, of having that bottoms-up approach to development and then running your teams. VICTORIA: I think that makes sense. And you're right; I think it can be successful. But I think there's a good warning there about...and people do this with DevOps teams as well where they create a DevOps team and then put them in a silo, right? [laughs] KASHA: Yeah. VICTORIA: And that's kind of missing the point about the whole thing. It's like we want to power these people. KASHA: Yeah, everything new is old again. I remember when I didn't even talk to an engineer. And I remember...and this was early in my product when I had the product specialist. I would be at my cube writing requirements. I thought they were great. And then we switched to an agile format, and I remember going into a meeting thinking, okay, we're just going to go over the stuff that's next. And they had all these questions for me, and it terrified me. [laughter] Because it made me think, like, maybe I don't know what I'm talking about or, yeah, I didn't think about the error messaging. Oh, okay, yeah, what happens if someone loses internet connection during that session and they've started the process? Oh, I don't know. What should happen? [laughs] And so there were all these kinds of questions. But before, I would just process my requirements, put it in a Jira ticket. And then you might get some Jira comments, but there wasn't this back-and-forth in real-time. And then, I had to really step up and write my requirements better. Because at that point, I had just had like, oh, this happens in check one. This happens at step two. And then step three, the end. That was my own kind of naive perspective at the time when I was writing requirements. And I didn't know that the engineers had all these questions because we had that layer of...they didn't call it a DevOps person. I think they called it, you know, an engineering lead where he would just take the tickets, and then they were doing their own sub tickets to make it make sense. And so then, when we started to transition into more of an agile and rating things and giving value to them, I really had to change. And it helped me grow. And it was definitely uncomfortable. But it definitely pushed me into thinking, okay, someone's reading this. They're an engineer. They're not thinking about this. How can I get as clear as possible but also still think about the consumer or the persona that I'm thinking about that is trying to solve this problem? VICTORIA: That makes sense. It reminds me of one of my first jobs actually was in Washington, D.C., which you went to undergrad there. I would actually pass by Howard University on the bus every day to work. [laughs] KASHA: Oh wow. [laughs] VICTORIA: I wonder, are you familiar with BisonHacks and their annual hackathon that they have there? I know you're from the film department. But the computer science does a hackathon there every year. KASHA: I am not familiar with that specific one. But I participated; I mean, we have some at Adobe. We have our regular hackathons internally. But I would love to hear more about the one that you're describing. It sounds pretty fascinating. Do they have an ultimate goal? Are they building from an existing product, or is this something new? VICTORIA: I think it's something new. So I believe that they come together to create solutions to help improve the livelihood of the DMV community. KASHA: Oh wow. VICTORIA: So I think every year they make it a different purpose. KASHA: Okay, I got it. VICTORIA: But they interact with students and do different projects. And it's a super fun organization. So, yeah, I'll send you a link. We'll share it in the show notes as well. [laughs] KASHA: Yeah. I love it. I love it. This podcast I'm already growing [laughter] in the short time we've talked, so I love that. VICTORIA: And we're coming to the end of our time here. I have one final question before I ask you if you have any other final takeaways. [laughs] But what are you most excited about on the roadmap for Adobe Express that you have coming? KASHA: Well, I'm excited...gosh, what can I share? [laughs] I'm like, I see legal tapping me on the shoulder. [laughs] I'm excited that we are making so many improvements to really simplify the experience and that we're also diversifying our use cases of the types of people that will be coming to the platform. So when I say that, let's say we've been focused on what we call the social creator, or the small business owner, or hustler, I really want to lean more into that and expand that. We also have more of what we call our pro users coming to Adobe Express. So if you think of someone that's a professional graphic designer that may need something where they need to have a collaborator, we're enhancing that process. And then also, I'm most excited coming into 2023 is that Adobe's Express is going to be what we think of as the doorway to all the Adobe ecosystem. So whether you start with Express on a small scale and building out a template, you can really grow with this product. And whether you use it for your everyday either social needs or even in your everyday work or marketing, you can start to have people come to the platform and collaborate on it. We have so many exciting things that it's interesting because my team is focused on activation and repeat engagement, and how do those two worlds kind of marry each other? Getting the user in from having them on a first great day one experience and then carrying them through for when they return. And one thing that I'm excited for is that we've had this recent pivot, and this came out of user research. We don't have to wait for the user to leave the platform to remind them of all the great things that we can do. And I'm really excited about having machine learning capabilities on the platform; where, if your next step is this, what's the next best available action? And then how does that help enhance not only your experience of the product but then also starting to plant those seeds of you can schedule this in advance or creating this type of content once a week will drive exponentially your growth on your platform? And that, to me, is making us stronger and really looking at it not only from I want the consumer to do these series of high-value actions, but I really want to see them grow on their own personal platform level. And here's a tool that can help you do everything that you need to. And whether you're someone that posts once a week, or whether you're someone in an office that is collaborating for a marketing meeting, or if you're a professional that has something that, you know, I just really want to use a template. I have an aesthetic. I know how to use Photoshop. I know how to use Illustrator. But let me put this in Express. I can send it to the client. They can make comments, and then they can also feel like they're part of the creative process. That makes me happy because I was this fine arts major. It feels like 100 years ago. [laughs] And I remember thinking like, oh wow, I love these products. They're expensive, or saving up for them. And then now there are so many different plans. There are so many different ways. And I would have loved an opportunity to have a free product that allowed me to just start to understand my own type of style and capabilities without having this feeling that I have to be a designer and that everything has to be perfect. So I'm excited for that. We have so much growth planned, new, exciting ways on the platform. And, also, you'll see some new looks. I can't share too much more than that. [laughter] So I hope the little bit of tidbit doesn't get me in trouble. But sometimes you got to break some rules. You got to break some eggs to make an omelet. [laughter] VICTORIA: Any other final thoughts for our listeners today? KASHA: I would love for, you know, to give me feedback. I always love doing these. I'm active on LinkedIn. You can find me at Kasha Stewart. Shoot me a note. I get a healthy amount of mail, but I promise I will reply back to you if you have questions and what your biggest challenges are. Check out Adobe Express. It's free, by the way. And continue to, you know; I just remember being this, like, early in my career and having these questions, and at different points, I was afraid to ask questions because I was like, I don't want to sound silly. Or maybe I'm not understanding that, or, you know, maybe I should have been a CS major. And I say to people now, like, you have to have a starting point. You never know what is next on the horizon. Or that everybody had been thinking about that and they were just waiting for the person to raise their hand. That's one of the things that I always want to encourage people and to check out these products, communities. And thank you to this podcast for allowing me to share my journey and my story. It's always a pleasure. I learned something, and I'm like, oh yeah, I did actually do that. But that was a while ago that; I might forget. So it's good. It's like having my own little mini retro. So I thank you for inviting me here and to, you know, share my journey. VICTORIA: Well, thank you. That's a very powerful message, and I appreciate you coming on today to share it with us. You can subscribe to the show and find notes along with a complete transcript for this episode at giantrobots.fm. If you have questions or comments, email us at hosts@giantrobots.fm. You can find me on Twitter @victori_ousg. This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot and produced and edited by Mandy Moore. Thank you for listening. We'll see you next time. ANNOUNCER: This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot, your expert strategy, design, development, and product management partner. We bring digital products from idea to success and teach you how because we care. Learn more at thoughtbot.com. Special Guest: Kasha Stewart.

The Bike Shed
368: Sustainable Web Development

The Bike Shed

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 24, 2023 36:03


Stephanie talks about hosting a "Soup Group"! Joël got nerd-sniped during the last episode and dove deeper into Maggie Appleton's "Tools for Thought." Stephanie has been thinking a lot about Sustainable Web Development. What is sustainability? How does it relate to tech and what we do? This episode is brought to you by Airbrake (https://airbrake.io/?utm_campaign=Q3_2022%3A%20Bike%20Shed%20Podcast%20Ad&utm_source=Bike%20Shed&utm_medium=website). Visit Frictionless error monitoring and performance insight for your app stack. Maggie Appleton's Tools for Thought (https://maggieappleton.com/tools-for-thought) Tangrams (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tangram) Tessellation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tessellation) Hexagons are the Bestagons (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thOifuHs6eY) Sustainable Web Development with Ruby on Rails (https://sustainable-rails.com/) Transcript: AD: thoughtbot is thrilled to announce our own incubator launching this year. If you are a non-technical founding team with a business idea that involves a web or mobile app, we encourage you to apply for our eight-week program. We'll help you move forward with confidence in your team, your product vision, and a roadmap for getting you there. Learn more and apply at tbot.io/incubator. JOËL: Hello and welcome to another episode of The Bike Shed, a weekly podcast from your friends at thoughtbot about developing great software. I'm Joël Quenneville. STEPHANIE: And I'm Stephanie Minn. And together, we're here to share a bit of what we've learned along the way. JOËL: So, Stephanie, what's new in your world? STEPHANIE: I'm excited to share a winter survival idea for folks out there who are, like me, in a very cold place where all your friends don't want to hang out [laughs] and bear the cold temperatures of deep winter in January. Because tonight, I'm hosting my first soup group where I'm basically just going to make a really big batch of soup and have my friends come over with bread, and we're going to eat soup and bread and be cozy. And I'm really excited because I was trying to figure out a way to combat the winter blues a little bit. And, yeah, I think this time of year can be really tough after the holidays to get people together again. At least for me, I was feeling like I haven't seen my friends in so long. And I was like, well, I could just be the person to take the initiative [laughs] and be like, "Come over to our place." And the goal is to eventually do this regularly and just have this low-stakes open invitation for anyone to come and show up however they want to. It doesn't have to be, like, big pressure or anything. And if they can't make it at any one time, then there will hopefully be one in the future where they can make it, so I'm excited. After this, I am going to make soup for ten people, and it's going to be great. [laughs] JOËL: I love this idea. Soup on a cold day is just the coziest thing. STEPHANIE: Yeah, exactly. I definitely wanted to just make people feel warm and cozy. And that's what I want, so I'm really doing this for myself. [laughs] JOËL: And you know the advantage of hosting is you don't have to go outside. STEPHANIE: Yeah, that's the real thing is I'm probably going to kick everyone out at like 11:00 p.m. and then go straight to bed, and it's going to be great. [laughs] JOËL: Have you been experimenting with a particular kind of soup recently? Are you going to bring out an old favorite? STEPHANIE: Yeah, I'm excited to make ribollita today, so kind of like a Tuscan style of veggie hearty soup. And I've just been bookmarking soup recipes left and right. [laughs] And I've outsourced the bread situation. So I'm excited to see what kind of bread people bring. And yeah, it'll be very fun and kind of surprising in a comforting way. JOËL: I'm not familiar with this soup. It's ribollita you said? STEPHANIE: Yeah, that's it. JOËL: You said it's a vegetable soup. STEPHANIE: Yeah, mostly veggies and beans. So I have this giant cabbage, a lot of kale, multiple cans of Great Northern white beans, and they're all going to get mixed together. And we'll see how it turns out. I'll update the podcast on how the soup group goes. It is the inaugural one. So I can't think of a time that I made that much soup before. So, hopefully, it goes well. We'll find out. So, Joël, what about you? What's new in your world? JOËL: So, in the previous episode, we talked a little bit about some of the things you had learned about note-taking. And you'd mentioned an article by, I think, Maggie Applebon -- STEPHANIE: Maggie Appleton. JOËL: Appleton...on tools for thought. It was linked in the show notes of that episode. And I went back and read that article, and it was so good, particularly the section, I think, on historical tools for thought and how they, over time, were sort of groundbreaking in helping us to either remember things or to think about problems or ideas in a different way, or to sort of interrogate those ideas and see if we think they're true or helpful. And these were things like writing or the number system but even some more fancy things like the scientific method for the Cartesian coordinate system. STEPHANIE: Yeah, I was really excited to share this with you because I think it was the intersection of a lot of your different interests, including note-taking, diagrams, history, and human cognition, so I'm glad that you found it interesting. JOËL: I definitely got nerd-sniped there. STEPHANIE: [laughs] JOËL: I think one thing that really struck me was the power of having multiple different representations for ideas. And one that jumped out at me was the Cartesian coordinate system, which, among other things, a really powerful tool that gave people...when this was invented, it allowed you to convert algebra problems into geometry problems. And so now, something that used to be an equation you can draw as a triangle or something. And we know how to find the area of a triangle. That's been known since the ancient Greeks and even earlier. And so now a problem that sounded hard is now easy, or at least we have a different way to think about that problem. Because if this equation is equivalent to a triangle, what does that mean? And vice versa, you can use this to convert geometry problems into algebra problems. And so sometimes the power of a new tool for thought might be in that it allows you to sort of convert between two other existing ways of representing things. And making those connections, all of a sudden gives you a whole new way of thinking about things. That blew my mind. STEPHANIE: Yeah, I agree. I think the other really cool thing is that a lot of these ideas that humans are discovering also already existed in the natural world. So when you are talking about math, you can see representations of math in plants and nature, and I was reminded of how honeycomb from bees is one of the strongest shapes. And yeah, it's really neat to draw inspiration from a lot of places and learn from things that, like, figured it out before we did. JOËL: Have you seen the video on YouTube called "Hexagons are the Bestagons?" STEPHANIE: No, I have not. Tell me more. JOËL: It's a video on YouTube. We can link it in the show notes. Basically, the hexagon shows up everywhere in nature in part because it has a lot of really fun mathematical properties. It's one of the few shapes that you can use to completely cover a surface. So if you want to subdivide a two-dimensional surface into smaller shapes without leaving any empty spaces between them, you really don't have that many options. I want to say it's like squares and triangles and hexagons are the only shapes that can do that. And hexagons have these really fun properties around strength. They also are one of the best balances between volume versus the amount of material that it takes to give you that volume and for strength and things like that. So it's good for honeycombs because you can store a lot of honey for very little amount of wax. But it's also good for all sorts of structural engineering because you can build things that are very strong yet light because they require very little metal or other material to create them. STEPHANIE: When you're saying hexagons filling a lot of space, I also thought about how they've become kind of popular in tiles or interior design in kitchens, and bathrooms, and stuff. [laughs] I've definitely seen that trend a bit. [laughs] So that's really cool just to see, like, yeah, this thing in the natural world that we have adopted for other uses. It's really fun. JOËL: I want to say this idea of taking a 2D space and being able to completely cover it without spaces with a shape is called tessellating a plane. It's a fancy term for it. And if you want to do it with just a single shape, I think there are only like three or four shapes that can do it. STEPHANIE: That's really interesting because it reminds me of those tessellation puzzles that I used to play with as a kid. Do you know what I'm talking about? JOËL: You're thinking like a tangram or something different. STEPHANIE: Yeah, yeah, tangram, that was...oh my gosh, those were fun. Wow, I was learning math as a young child, [laughs] just didn't even know it. JOËL: Another random fun fact: the logo for the Elm programming language is a tangram. STEPHANIE: [Gasps] JOËL: And the community is sort of encouraged to then remix it because the tangram is just a square tessellated out of a bunch of these shapes. But then, if you're building a library or you've got an event or something, the community will take those shapes and remix them into some other shapes that might fit your event. STEPHANIE: That's really cool. Is it a metaphor for how Elm can be used in different ways? [laughs] JOËL: I'm not sure about the story behind the logo. We'd have to look that up. STEPHANIE: That'll be a good adventure for later. [laughs] JOËL: In...I want to say Moroccan art, but I think it might be broader than just Moroccan. It might be more broadly North African or Moorish or whatever you want to call that. There's a long history of building these tessellations, I think, out of tiles, but maybe other things as well where you're doing it with a variety of shapes. So you might start...a classic one, I think is an eight-pointed...is it eight, or? I think it's an eight-pointed star, and then you sort of add other shapes around it. And those can create patterns that take a long time to repeat. And there are these beautiful geometric patterns that just keep on going and expanding without necessarily repeating over a lot of space. STEPHANIE: Whoa. That kind of blows my mind a little bit. It seems so counterintuitive, but then I feel like there are a lot of things in math that are like that as well. JOËL: So, yeah, I think a classic pattern you might start with something like an eight-pointed star. And then maybe to fill in the spaces around that central star, you might put some squares, and then maybe you put some triangles around that, and you sort of keep trying to fill in. And maybe eventually you get to another eight-pointed star, but it's not always perfectly symmetric. STEPHANIE: Someone should make a board game or something out of this idea. [laughs] JOËL: Oooh. STEPHANIE: I bet there's one that exists. But I'm just thinking about people who like jigsaw puzzles and that being the next level challenge of, like, can you figure out how things fit together without the confines of a little jigsaw shape? [laughs] JOËL: Right, right. You have a rectangle shape that you have to perfectly fill in with all of these other smaller shapes, and there is a single solution that will work. You have to figure it out. STEPHANIE: I personally would be very overwhelmed, [laughs] but it sounds fun at the same time. JOËL: So those are a lot of thoughts that I've been having inspiration reading that article that you shared on a previous episode. Have you been reading anything interesting recently? STEPHANIE: I have. I'm really excited to talk about this topic because during my investment time this past week, I've been thinking a lot about it, taking a lot of notes in Obsidian, which is a callback to the last episode, and yeah, I'm excited to kind of get into it. So what I've been reading is Sustainable Web Development with Ruby on Rails by ‎David Bryant Copeland. And I think a lot of fellow thoughtboters have referenced this book or talked a little bit about ideas from this book; at least, I've seen discussion about it in Slack, so that's kind of why I wanted to pick it up. But what really blew my mind was honestly the first chapter where he talks about why he wrote this book and basically what sustainable web development is because it is a little bit, maybe, like a buzzy word. It's like, what is sustainability? How does it relate to tech and what we do? And he basically gets down to it by saying that the software that we write is sustainable if it continues to meet our needs years into the future or has longevity and continues to be something we can iterate and work on and not feel that pain or friction, and we feel like we want to, and we feel joyful working on this codebase. So that was kind of my interpretation of his definition about sustainability. JOËL: I love that definition of sustainability about code that can grow and live for a long time. And I feel like that's not a universal value in the tech industry. And on the extreme end of that, you'll have teams that promote the idea that maybe every few years, you should throw out your old codebase and rewrite. I want to say some teams at Google may have done that as a practice for a while, and, of course, then people quote that as a best practice. To a certain extent, I want to say that's kind of what happens with Basecamp in that there are multiple versions of Basecamp. And I want to say each of those is a fresh Rails app. So there's a sense in which those or that style of development is not sustainable in the definition that you were just giving there. How do you feel about that? STEPHANIE: I definitely think the industry has a bias towards newness and change. And a lot of people want to pick up the hot, new technology and, like you said, rewrite code, especially when it's become hard to work with. And honestly, I think that could be its whole own episode, rewrites because I think you and I have pretty strong opinions about it. But I genuinely think that most of our work is, at least, you and I on the Boost team, in particular here at thoughtbot, where we embed on existing client teams, and usually, that means legacy code as well, but I think that the work of development is mostly extending existing code and trying to sustain applications that have users and are working for users. And I think that that's certainly a value that I wish were highlighted more or were invested in more because sometimes that change or wanting to hop on to do something different or do something new has a lot of consequences that I'm not sure we talk about enough as an industry. MID-ROLL AD: Debugging errors can be a developer's worst nightmare...but it doesn't have to be. Airbrake is an award-winning error monitoring, performance, and deployment tracking tool created by developers for developers that can actually help cut your debugging time in half. So why do developers love Airbrake? It has all of the information that web developers need to monitor their application - including error management, performance insights, and deploy tracking! Airbrake's debugging tool catches all of your project errors, intelligently groups them, and points you to the issue in the code so you can quickly fix the bug before customers are impacted. In addition to stellar error monitoring, Airbrake's lightweight APM helps developers to track the performance and availability of their application through metrics like HTTP requests, response times, error occurrences, and user satisfaction. Finally, Airbrake Deploy Tracking helps developers track trends, fix bad deploys, and improve code quality. Since 2008, Airbrake has been a staple in the Ruby community and has grown to cover all major programming languages. Airbrake seamlessly integrates with your favorite apps to include modern features like single sign-on and SDK-based installation. From testing to production, Airbrake notifiers have your back. Your time is valuable, so why waste it combing through logs, waiting for user reports, or retrofitting other tools to monitor your application? You literally have nothing to lose. Head on over to airbrake.io/try/bikeshed to create your FREE developer account today! JOËL: It's interesting you mentioned the types of projects that we tend to be on. I feel like there are a lot of projects that I've been brought on where my goal, specifically coming onto this project, was to make the software more sustainable for the team. It's very easy to sort of start moving very fast in the beginning with a greenfield app, and then eventually, a lot of your choices catch up to you. And then, as your team grows and your product grows, it becomes less and less sustainable. And that's often the point in the lifecycle of the product where I might join the team and try to help make things better for them. I love the keyword sustainable. I don't think that's one that I've used a lot, but it's a great label to put on that kind of work. STEPHANIE: Yeah, I agree. I think what you mentioned earlier, too, about values that, really stuck out to me in this book because it basically says, "This book is for you if you value these three things: sustainability, consistency, and quality." And all of the recommendations and techniques that he then presents in the rest of the book, using Rails, those decisions are recommended with those three values in mind. And I think, one, those values are personally important to me as a developer. But it also helped me develop some guiding principles around decision-making and provided a lot of clarity around times that I've been on teams where we were doing things that didn't quite align with my values, and I didn't enjoy it. And I couldn't really figure out why. But now I'm able to see that, oh, perhaps this team or organization was valuing something like speed, or profit, or change, or something like that that I just fundamentally value differently. And that was kind of where my internal friction or contentment or discontentment was coming from when working on these teams. So, yeah, that was really clarifying for me. JOËL: Would you say, for you, when you talk about these values, that these are fundamental or ultimate values for you when you write code? Or are they values that are a good way to sort of be a means to some other end? You know, for example, sustainability, do you care about sustainability just for its own sake? Or do you care about it because you want a product to be able to live for a long time? You're building for ten years or 20 years or however long you want this project to last. STEPHANIE: I think the thing with values is that they are really fundamental to a person's identity or belief system. In fact, the definition that I'm kind of working off of here is that values are those fundamental beliefs that drive our actions. And so when you say, like, are values driving how you write code? I think they drive everything. [laughs] But the point that he makes in this book is like, here's how they drive code and technical decisions. So the book is actually quite specific about technical recommendations that he has in the context of Rails. And it's funny because we're talking pretty abstractly and big picture about values and things like that. But then I think it's because he sets the stage to be like, everything I recommend here is what I believe to be sustainable, and good quality, and consistent. And just for an example, one of the recommendations he makes is to, when you're kind of setting up a greenfield application, is to use a SQL schema instead of the default ActiveRecord DSL, so using a structure .SQL file. Because, in his eyes, having the flexibility to write SQL and use the most you can with those tools when it comes to database work is more sustainable in the long term than using the DSL that might not have all the tools available to you that SQL does. And so he kind of gives his reasoning about, like, this is what I recommend, and here's why it contributes to sustainability, in my opinion. And so I have found myself, while I'm reading along, either agreeing, like, oh yeah, I can see his reasoning here, or maybe even disagreeing because I might think about things differently or have other considerations in mind that are more important to me and what sustainability means to me. But what I hopefully want to take away from the framework or understanding of values is evaluating technical decisions that I make based on my values as an individual but, more importantly, the values of the team or organization. JOËL: I love mental frameworks like that that give you clarity into your own thought processes or how you make decisions moving forward. Sometimes you can look at something that's very concrete. Somebody gives you some advice on maybe structuring your database schema, and that might be helpful in and of itself. But if you came away with a larger thought process, I think that's doubly valuable. As an aside here, I love this approach to writing where he sort of lays down almost like preconditions for this book. If you don't agree on these values, this book is not going to be very helpful for you. And then also, here are situations where this advice is not going to apply. Now that I've put down all these edge cases for the rest of this book, I'm going to be speaking very decisively; these are the things I recommend and not have to caveat myself all the time. It's like, yes, I know there are some edge cases where you might not want to do this if it's a one-off script or whatever it is. We've already dealt with all of those upfront. And now, I can be very confident and very direct for the whole rest of the book. And I feel like that's something I struggle with in some of my work sometimes is. I care a lot about nuance, and my audience probably cares about edge cases even more than I do. They probably care too much. Because I say something that's generally true most of the time, and I know somebody's already thinking about the one edge case where that's not true. And that doesn't matter for the main point I'm trying to make. So it's always a struggle to know when to caveat a statement that I'm making. But if you caveat too much, then you undermine your whole point. And so I like this idea of putting some caveats up front and then just saying, like, now we're in the 80% case. Within the 80% case, these are things I think are true. STEPHANIE: Yeah, that's a really good point. I agree he is very clear about the intended audience. And so when you read this book, you are either on board because you value the same things he does, or you're not because you are focused and your goals are things that are different from him. So I think it was really helpful to get on the same page, even in a piece of content or in a piece of writing. Because I want to use my time well as a reader, so I want to make sure that what I am consuming makes sense for me, and I will find it worthwhile. David takes a really strong stance on what quality means. And even though that is a pretty subjective value, he describes it as doing things right the first time and acknowledging the reality that we likely won't have the time to go back and clean things up after they've been shipped. So, on this client project, I found myself wanting to refactor things as part of my process, suggesting different implementations to do things the quote, unquote, "right way," or the best way we could, and not everyone shared that sentiment. I sometimes got pushback, and that was challenging for me to figure out how I wanted to navigate that situation and what I was willing to let go and what I wasn't. And so I'm curious if you've ever been in a consulting position like that where maybe the team and organization's values were a little bit different from your understanding, or if they just weren't clear at all, and you were driving towards something that seemed very nebulous. JOËL: I think I've been on both sides of that, both sometimes saying, "Look, we need to maybe slow down," or "Here's a thing that we need to do otherwise that's going to cost us on the longer term. Here's an area where we need to invest in quality today." And sort of on the other side where I'll feel like someone is really pushing an overengineered solution claiming it's going to make life a whole lot better, "If we invest three months upfront today, and maybe in three or four years, it'll pay off if certain things happen," that don't really necessarily line up with the immediate goals. A lot of this, I think, comes down to understanding the client, and their business, and their goals. Sometimes there is a really important deadline for something that has to happen based on an event in the real world. If you were building software for something that had to do with, let's say, the World Cup, you don't want it shipping in January 2023. That's just pointless. And so you've got to prioritize shipping things. And sometimes you say, "Okay, well, do we ship a few broken things? Or do we prefer to ship something that's a little bit smaller, more tightly scoped, but that holds well together?" That again, you have to really understand the client, their business, their needs. So I think for me those values of sustainability, quality...I forget what the third one was that you'd mentioned. STEPHANIE: Consistency. JOËL: Consistency, yes. They all sort of inform how it's going to mesh with the product I'm working on, the goals of that product. Where's it going in the next three months, six months, 12 months? Where's it coming from? Who's the team that I'm working with? Am I with a team of 300 people that are just committing to the main branch all the time with no tests, and we're constantly fighting regressions? Then sustainability looks very different there than a one other-person team, and we're trying to ship something for the World Cup. STEPHANIE: Oh yeah, I have a lot of thoughts there too. Because I do agree that it can look different and sometimes shift a little bit depending on the situation. What you were just describing about team makeup that is really interesting to me because, yeah, sustainability can look different for different teams. If you have, let's say, a lot of earlier career developers on your team, maybe you really want to focus on readability and making sure that they're able to navigate the codebase and figure things out over something like more advanced patterns and skills that will just cause them friction. But maybe you have a team where you all agree that that's what sustainability means to you is choosing those more advanced technical patterns and committing to them and figuring out how to maintain that because it's important to you. And the other thing that you brought up that is also mentioned in this book is that the more information developers have about the future and direction of the business, the better code we can write. For some reason, I've found myself in situations where I don't know all too much about what we are working towards or what the goals of the business are both in the short term and the long term. And I try to make the best guess I can. But I think in those scenarios, at least moving forward, I would really like to be better about pushing product folks or leadership to explain to me why we're doing what we're doing, kind of share the information that they have so that we can build the best product that we can. I think sometimes that information doesn't get shared for some reason. They kind of think that engineers are going to go do their engineer thing, and we'll focus on long-term strategy over here. But yeah, I truly believe that the more information we have, the better quality work we can produce. JOËL: I 100% agree. And I think that's what we see in a lot of classic agile literature talking about things like cross-functional teams or even the client or the product team should be integrated with the development team. You're all one team working together rather than someone has an idea, and then the technical team executes on it. We see that also in some of the domain-driven design literature as well, where oftentimes projects start, and you sit down with a subject matter expert, and they just walk you through all of the business aspects. And particularly for the purpose of domain-driven design, you talk about a lot of the terms that make sense for the business. You build up a glossary of terms. I think they call it a ubiquitous language of things that are specific to your business and how does that work on a day-to-day basis. STEPHANIE: Do you have any strategies for getting more clarity around the work and why you're building it if it's not yet available to you? JOËL: I think there are sort of two scenarios where you have to do that; one of them that comes up maybe more often for us as consultants is onboarding onto a new client. There's a whole new business that we may know nothing about, and we have to learn a lot of that. And so, as part of the onboarding process, I think it's really valuable to have conversations with people who are not part of the dev team to learn about the business side of things. On a per-feature basis, if you've already been onboarded on a project, you've been there for a while, it's often good to go back to the person who maybe created a ticket, a product person who's asking for a feature, and ask, "Why? Why do you want this?" Ideally, maybe that's even part of the ticket-creating process because the two teams are more integrated, and product team is like, here's a problem we're trying to solve. Here's what we think would be a solution. Or maybe even just "Here's a business problem. We need a technical solution. Can you do that for us?" But I've often followed up with people outside of the engineering team to ask follow-up questions. And why are we doing this? And sometimes it's even you have to do like five Whys where it's like, "Oh, we're doing this because we need to do this thing for this customer. They asked for it." And it's like, "Okay, well, why are they asking for that?" "Oh, it's because they have this problem." And why are they having this problem?" And eventually, like, "Oh, I see. Okay." The real solution has nothing to do with what was asked, and you come up with something that's maybe much tighter scoped or will better solve, and everybody's a winner in that case. But it does require following up. So I guess the short and boring answer is talk to people outside the engineering team. STEPHANIE: That's a great point. I think the questions that we as engineers ask can drive more clarity to product people as well if we continue to ask those five levels of why in ways that they maybe didn't think about either. We have the opportunity to do that if we want to do our work well, too. That's kind of exciting to me that it isn't just okay, we're handed some work to do, and they've done all of that strategic thinking separately. And having to implement those details, we can kind of start to chip away at what are we really doing here? And you mentioned talking to people outside of the engineering team. I just was thinking that pairing with non-developers would also be a really great task to do, especially when you get a ticket that's a bit ambiguous and you have questions. And you can always comment on the ticket or whatever and ask your questions. But perhaps there's also a good opportunity to work things through synchronously. In some ways, I think that is a more natural opportunity for that conversation to evolve rather than it being like, okay, I answered these questions, and now I'm going to move on to whatever else I have to do. JOËL: So you mentioned pairing. It's often good to have someone maybe outside the development team pair with you on a technical thing, but sometimes it's good to flip the script. If you're building especially software for an internal team, it can be really valuable to just shadow one of them for a couple of hours or a day. I did a project where we were building a tool for an internal sales team. And I had the privilege to shadow a couple of the sales members for a few hours as they're just doing their job. And I'm just asking all the questions like, "Oh, why do you do it that way? And what is the purpose behind this?" And I learned so much about the business by doing that. STEPHANIE: I love that we took this idea of sustainable development and went beyond just technical design decisions or aspects of how we do our jobs. Because there is so much more that we can do to foster the value of sustainability or whatever other values that you might have, and yeah, I feel really excited to try both these technical strategies from the book and also the collaborative aspects as well. JOËL: I'm really excited about some of these ideas that are coming up from the book. I think today we basically just talked about the introduction, the idea of sustainability. But I think as maybe you read more in the book, maybe we can do another episode later on talking about some of the more specific technical recommendations, how they relate to sustainability and maybe share some of our thoughts on that. STEPHANIE: Yeah, I definitely am excited to keep y'all updated on this journey. [laughs] JOËL: On that note, shall we wrap up? STEPHANIE: Let's wrap up. JOËL: Show notes for this episode can be found at bikeshed.fm. This show has been produced and edited by Mandy Moore. If you enjoyed listening, one really easy way to support the show is to leave us a quick rating or even a review in iTunes. It really helps other folks find the show. If you have any feedback, you can reach us at @_bikeshed or reach me at @joelquen on Twitter. Or at hosts@bikeshed.fm via email. Thank you so much for listening to The Bike Shed, and we'll see you next week. Byeeeeeeee!!!!!!!! ANNOUNCER: This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot, your expert strategy, design, development, and product management partner. We bring digital products from idea to success and teach you how because we care. Learn more at thoughtbot.com.

Jake's Take with Jacob Elyachar
Episode #208 - Tiffany Daniels TALKS 'La La Land' & 'That Girl Lay Lay'

Jake's Take with Jacob Elyachar

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 22, 2023 32:07


It is a pleasure to welcome actress and dancer Tiffany Daniels to The Jake's Take with Jacob Elyachar Podcast. Tiffany Daniels was born and raised in San Diego, California, and graduated from the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. She graduated from Cornell University and received a year-long dance scholarship to Hollywood's Edge Performing Arts Center, where she trained intensely in different areas of dance, improv, and voice. Tiffany has since been training with Anthony Meindl's Acting Workshop.Tiffany has made booked roles on American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson, The Big Bang Theory, Criminal Minds, The Good Doctor, Grace and Frankie, and Station 19. She also briefly stepped into the role of Jordan Ashford on the long-running ABC soap opera General Hospital and appeared as a dancer on Sherman's Showcase for multiple episodes. Tiffany Daniels stars as Trish Alexander on That Girl Lay, which can be seen on Nickelodeon and Netflix.In addition to her television work, Tiffany, a proud member of Actors Equity and SAG-AFTRA, has performed in several stage productions. Tiffany portrayed Squeak in Oprah Winfrey's The Color Purple's first national tour and Lorraine in Jerry Mitchell's production of Hairspray at the Hollywood Bowl. She also originated the role of “Liz” at the Planet Hollywood Casino in Las Vegas' SURF: The Musical production. In this edition of The Jake's Take with Jacob Elyachar Podcast, Tiffany Daniels spoke about her experience on American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson and General Hospital. She also talked about getting the opportunity to be a part of La La Land from conception to the film's iconic traffic scene.

Harford County Living
He Made People Stars At MTV So He Can Help You

Harford County Living

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 20, 2023 50:41


In this episode, Rich has a conversation with Vinnie Potestivo.Vinnie Potestivo is an Emmy® Award-winning Media Advisor who grows personal brands & founder-led companies by scaling content distribution, brand visibility, & media reach.   Vinnie is the Editor-in-chief of I Have A Podcast® and is responsible for discovering and amplifying the voice of independent podcasters worldwide.   As a network executive at MTV Networks (98-07) he discovered talent and developed new ways to support their goals, pioneering the way brands and business owners could contribute to their public narrative by making them stars and producers of their own television series. Early hits include Punk'd, The Osbournes, TRL, 8th & Ocean, Wild 'N Out, & The Challenge. Since then, he and his team at VPE.tv have continued to be well-trusted connectors who develop and distribute original content across all media platforms. Especially podcasts!   You can listen to Vinnie dissect the creative process with some of the stars and creatives who helped launch his career such as Mandy Moore, Danielle Fishel, TJ Lavin and Ananda Lewis (to name a few) on the award-winning “I Have A Podcast” audio experience which is available everywhere you watch and listen to podcasts. Thank you to Vinnie Potestivo for the conGet your story told and book written. Schedule a call with Mike Ulmer at Select a Date & Time - Calendly https://harfordcountyhealth.comBuzzsprout - Let's get your podcast launched! Start for FREEFour Seasons Landscape & Construction Se While we perform the traditional lawn and landscape bed services, our passion is providing drainage Rocketbook Get the perfect companion for podcasting, school, office, or anything else.Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.Support the showFollow the Conversations with Rich Bennett podcast on Social Media:Facebook – Conversations with Rich Bennett & Harford County LivingFacebook Group (Join the conversation) – Conversations with Rich Bennett podcast group | FacebookTwitter – Conversations with Rich Bennett & Harford County LivingInstagram – Harford County LivingTikTok – CWRB (@conversationsrichbennett) | TikTok Sponsors, Affiliates, and ways we pay the bills:Recorded at the Freedom Federal Credit Union StudiosHosted on BuzzsproutRocketbookSquadCast Contests & Giveaways Subscribe by Email ...

The Sync Report
S4 Ep2: The Sync Report | Ben Lee

The Sync Report

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 19, 2023 102:53


How was Ben Lee's second gig as support for Sonic Youth?! Ben Lee's band Noise Addict were loved by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and the Beastie Boys Mike D and toured with Sebadoh when he was only 16 years old! How the heck did all that happen? Why did he decide to go solo so soon after finding huge success with Noise Addict?  What do Mike D and Money Mark have to do with Ben working with T-Bone Burnett and how did that song end up on the end credits of the film Best Men? He's recorded with Evan Dando and Mandy Moore, teamed up with Ben Folds and Ben Kweller to form The Bens and won ARIA Single Of The Year for his song Catch My Disease, but how did the idea for that song start. How did Ben's song “How to Survive a Broken Heart" become integral to a scene in the Farrelly Brothers classic film There's Something About Mary? And how happy was Ben to discover what music sync is?    His most recent album I'm Fun was released through Warner Music in June 2022 and to be honest, he is fun! Listen to this episode with Ben Lee and see for yourself. Ben Lee Website Twitter IG YouTube The Sync Report is where you will meet industry experts and top level songwriters as we pull the curtain back on music placement and scores, build vital relationships and provide real opportunities to our listeners. Listen to indie filmmakers present their latest productions and describe specific scenes as they consider music submitted by our audience. Music. Music is the difference between a good film and a great one. Songs included in this episode are... Wish I Was Him by Noise Addict Burn to Shine How to Survive a Broken Heart Catch My Disease We're All in This Together Daughter by Peter Blegvad Two Questions Tell it to My Heart by Juliette Lewis Born for This Bullshit All songs by Ben Lee except where stated. SYNC SESSION FEATURING:  Milfredo Seven - Kevin Sharpley - Vinx De'Jon Parrette - Jodylynn Talevi – Lisa Dunn - Heather Ragnars - Midas Royal - Dante Mazzetti - Gray Bashew Songs "The Journey" by Midas Royal  "Blue and Gold" by Dante Mazzetti  "Anjing" by Gray Bashew feat. Lowhi Please tell your friends about us, and remember to rate, comment, & subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts and across all platforms.  And find us at The Sync Report here TSR Website  Facebook  Instagram Twitter Youtube Linkedin Tik Tok  Hosted By: Colin O'Donoghue - Rose Ganguzza - Jason P. Rothberg Featuring:  Paula Flack and Willow Produced By: Jason P. Rothberg - Paula Flack - Robert Cappadona  Executive Producers: Colin O'Donoghue - Rose Ganguzza - Jason P. Rothberg - Kevin Sharpley - Gianfranco Bianchi - Dean Lyon Writers: Jason P. Rothberg - Lisa Dunn - Paula Flack Editors: Jason P. Rothberg - Milfredo Seven - Paula Flack - Edgar “Edge” Camey - Adam McNamara Marketing Director: Paula Flack Music Supervisors: Phill Mason Music Department: Heather Ragnars - Lisa Dunn Foley: Phill Mason Research: Lisa Dunn Art Director: Gianfranco Bianchi Graphic Design: Jodylynn Talevi College Programs: Dr Stacy Montgomery College interns: Angela Nicastro – Princess Arga – Stephanie Shafir

Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots
458: Cofertility with Lauren Makler

Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 19, 2023 37:27


Lauren Makler is Co-Founder, and CEO of Cofertility, a human-first fertility ecosystem rewriting the egg freezing and egg donation experience. Victoria talks to Lauren about tackling the access issues around egg freezing and donation and hoping to bring down the cost, leaving a company like Uber and starting her own business, and figuring out a go-to-market approach and what that strategy should look like. Cofertility (https://www.cofertility.com/) Follow Cofertility on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/cofertility/) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/cofertility). Follow Lauren Makler on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurenmakler/), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/laurenmakler/), or Twitter (https://twitter.com/laurenmakler). Follow thoughtbot on Twitter (https://twitter.com/thoughtbot) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/150727/). Become a Sponsor (https://thoughtbot.com/sponsorship) of Giant Robots! Transcript: VICTORIA: This is The Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots Podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Victoria Guido. And with me today is Lauren Makler, Co-Founder, and CEO of Cofertility, a human-first fertility ecosystem rewriting the egg freezing and egg donation experience. Lauren, thank you for joining me. LAUREN: Thanks for having me. I'm so excited for this. VICTORIA: Me too. I want to hear all about Cofertility. Can you tell me a little bit more about the platform that you built? LAUREN: Absolutely. Cofertility is really like you said; we're a fertility ecosystem. And at our core, we're enabling women to freeze their eggs for free when they donate half of the eggs retrieved to a family that can't otherwise conceive, providing support and education for everyone involved along the way. You know, we're serving two very different audiences. One side of our business, our Freeze by Co, is targeted at women between the ages of 21 and 40 who might be interested in preserving their fertility. We know that really the best time to freeze your eggs, unfortunately, is when you can least afford it. And so we've really taken on this access issue and hoping to bring down the cost on that front. And then our Family by Co business is for intended parents who need the help of an egg donor to have a child, so that could be anyone from people who struggle with infertility, or gay dads, cancer survivors, et cetera. There are a lot of people that really rely on third-party reproduction to have a family, and we think it's time to really move that industry forward, and we're doing that in a lot of ways. So that's at a high level; happy to dig in more on any part of that. But we launched in October, and things have been going well ever since. VICTORIA: Wonderful. Yeah, I want to ask you more about...you mentioned the problem that you identified with when people who are most ready to freeze their eggs probably can't afford it. [laughs] But how did you really identify that problem and think I should start a company around this? LAUREN: Yeah, so it's a two-part problem. I think we see a big problem on the egg-freezing side, which is truly cost. I think we know that women are starting families later than ever. For the first time in U.S. history, the average age of women giving birth now is 30, which is the highest on record. And the experimental label from egg freezing was removed in 2012, and so it's become much more mainstream for women to do it. However, the cost to do it in the U.S. is between; I want to say, $12,000-20,000 to do it, plus yearly storage fees. And there are some women who have access to doing it through their large employer, but for the majority of people, that's just not the case. And so, for women who are really trying to prioritize their career or their education or maybe haven't found a partner yet, egg freezing can be a great option. And certainly, it's not an insurance policy by any means, and it's not a guarantee. But studies show that if you experience infertility later in life and you did freeze your eggs, you're much more likely to have a child than not. And so we see it as a great backup option. But again, cost is just truly a huge problem. And then, on the egg donation side, there are tons of families that rely on egg donation to have a baby. And I'm someone...I should mention, too, personally, years ago...I'll make a very long story very short here. Years ago, I was diagnosed with an incredibly rare abdominal disease that put into question my ability to have a biological child someday. And so, I started to look into what my options might be, and egg donation came up. And when I looked at what was happening in the space, I just couldn't believe how antiquated it was. And truly, for lack of a better word, how icky it felt. It seemed really transactional and impersonal for everyone involved. And what I realized was that it was really rooted in the stigma around egg donation that comes from cash compensation for donors. So traditionally, a donor is paid anywhere from $8,000 to $100,000 for her eggs, depending on, unfortunately, her pedigree or sometimes her heritage. Something that might be, you know, a donor that's harder to find might require more compensation the way it's done today. And so we actually saw that many women who are interested in helping another family grow through egg donation can actually be off-put by this idea of cash for their eggs. It's like, ooh, am I selling my eggs, or how do I feel about that? And it actually turns people off when it might otherwise have been something they wanted to explore. It also, I think, leaves intended parents without options that they need and really hurts the LGBTQ community that relies on egg donation for family planning. So there's a lot there. And we felt that that was something that if we remove cash compensation, perhaps it's something that really opens up the pie of women that are open to and interested in egg donation. And it also might really honor the donor-conceived person on the end of it more than what's happening today. Studies have come out that show that donor-conceived adults find the exchange of money for donor eggs to be wrong and that they can actually find it disturbing that money was exchanged for their own conception. So our model takes out cash compensation and instead gives women something that they're excited about, which is preserving their own fertility as well and really sets up everyone involved for success. VICTORIA: Yeah. I saw that in your literature, you bring this human-centered design to how you built the platform, which I think speaks to a little bit of what you're describing there. And do you think that being a woman founder yourself allows you to relate and empathize with women who have this unique perspective or a different perspective on how egg donation should work? LAUREN: Yes, egg donation and egg freezing, honestly. I think I mentioned a little bit about my own experience. Both of my two co-founders have also really, really been through it when it comes to their journeys to parenthood; both of them have been through IVF. And one of them says, you know, her biggest regret in life is that she didn't freeze her eggs at 25. And now, instead of just sitting in that, she's building a company to help other women not have that same regret. So building the company we wished existed when we were younger lets us build something that truly is empathetic and human-centered. And it's unfortunate that so much of healthcare is built and designed by people who, while maybe they have good intentions, they're not building from a place of experience, and I think reproductive health is one of those. I think women need to be involved in designing those solutions, and too often, they're not. VICTORIA: Right. Yes. That makes a lot of sense to me. And I want to talk more about you and your three co-founders and how quickly all this has come together. So, how did you know that your team of co-founders was the right team that these are the people you wanted to start this with? LAUREN: Yeah, it's an interesting question on so many fronts. I think there are people who spend a really long time, like co-founder dating, and use frameworks for evaluating co-founders, and the truth of it for us is that it all happened very quickly. Halle, who is the person who connected the three of us, she is one of my co-founders, and she's just someone I had long admired in digital health and women's health. And there was a day where...we peripherally knew each other. And she slid into my DMs on Instagram. Like, you never know where a great contact may come from. And she asked me what I was up to, what I was working on, and the rest is history. I told her I had just left...I spent eight and a half years at Uber and launched new markets of Uber across the East Coast and then started a business line at Uber called Uber Health, and Halle had always followed my trajectory there. And when she reached out to me, it was like, [gasps] what's it going to be about? And when it ended up that she had an idea centered around egg freezing and egg donation, given the experience I had had with my own fertility journey, it just felt like how could this not be the right thing for me to go build? So I would say gut instinct is really what it comes down to. Halle and Arielle, our third co-founder, had worked together a bit in their past lives. Halle built a company called Natalist, which is fertility, pregnancy tests, ovulation kits, and prenatal vitamins, things like that. And Arielle had actually built the first iteration of Cofertility, which was a fertility content site. And they had had that rapport already, and so that was something that I valued quite a bit. Really talking to some references and getting opinions of people you trust, but your gut, more than anything, will help you answer that question. VICTORIA: Right. And sounds like there's that shared experience and mutual respect, which goes a long way. [laughs] LAUREN: Yeah, that and also a shared vision. Like, if you're aligned with someone in the first month or so of talking about an idea, and when it goes from a little kernel to snowballing and becoming something real, I think it's a good signal. But if you're butting heads and disagreeing in that first really crucial time, it's probably a good idea to go in a different direction. VICTORIA: Yeah. And thinking along those lines, were there decisions that were really easy to make, and what were those? And the second part of the question is what decisions were kind of challenging to make, and what made those decisions challenging? LAUREN: It's funny. Halle was just like, "This idea is going to work, and I know it. Let's do it." I am someone who likes to see evidence before making a decision. And so I suggested in those first two weeks, like, let's get a survey together. Let's ask women, "Hey, would you actually be interested in egg donation if it meant that you got to keep half of the eggs for yourself and that there was no cash compensation involved?" So we asked a few influencers on Instagram to put out our Typeform, and within, like, I don't know, 24 hours, we had over 700 responses. VICTORIA: Wow. LAUREN: And it was a very resounding like, yes, this is something women were interested in. That gave me all the conviction I needed to go at this full force. And so I think having that proof point not only was valuable to help me get there, but it also helped investors get on board. I think some of the easy decisions were like there were certain investors that after meeting I just knew like, yes, this is someone I want to be working with over the next few years. This is someone who sees the same vision that we see. And there were a few conversations with other potential investors where I was like, you know what? That's not who I want to work with. Again, it's like, I'm very big on my instincts as it relates to people and trusting that. VICTORIA: Right. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And congratulations on raising your seed funding. LAUREN: Thank you. VICTORIA: And was that a stressful process? How did you feel after that happened? LAUREN: Parts of it were stressful, for sure. I think the fact that I had never done it before was stressful. I like to call myself...before this, I was an intrapreneur. I pitched the idea of Uber Health to Uber executive leadership with a deck that was very similar to what you would pitch external investors with in a scenario like this. So I had gone through a little bit of that but never before had I done anything quite like this. And so I felt very lucky to have Halle by my side through that process because it wasn't her first rodeo. But I would say trusting yourself and trusting that you can figure this out. It seems so much more intimidating than it needs to be. No one is expecting you to fully know how all of this stuff works. It's very figureoutable. VICTORIA: And what obstacles did you face in the last year that you've been working on this? LAUREN: The biggest obstacle, I would say, honestly came down to having the time to both get a company off the ground...and I like to imagine an aeroplane. You have to figure out what kind of plane you're building; then you have to find all the parts, then you have to build the plane. And then the goal upon launch, I can imagine it when I close my eyes. It is like getting the plane off the ground. And with a startup, like you can imagine, there's always a bit of building the plane while you're flying it. But doing all of that over the last year, plus finding the right people to hire, is two full-time jobs. You're sourcing incredible candidates. You're meeting with them. You're pitching them the business. But you also need to evaluate whether or not they're as great as their resume makes them seem. Then you have to convince them to join your seed-stage startup, then check their references, and then put together their offer package, and then do all of their paperwork. And it was like all of these things that I took for granted at Uber for so long of having recruiters, and having an HR team, [laughs] and all of those things that truly it is a full-time job plus building a company. So that, for me, was the hardest. And hiring just at that early stage is so, so important because you add one person, and that's like such a huge percentage of your team. So every hire has to be a great one, but you also can't wait too long to hire because then you miss your goals. VICTORIA: Right. Yes. And there's lots of uncertainty going on in the world as well. I'm sure that makes hiring extra exciting. LAUREN: Yes. I mean, exciting and also scary. I think exciting from the fact that there's great talent that's looking in a way that wasn't necessarily the case six months ago, but scary in that you have to...one of my biggest or things that keeps me up at night is like, what's the right timing to bring on new people so that your business scales appropriately but not too soon that you have people waiting around for the work to come? VICTORIA: Right, yes. And speaking of scary, I can imagine the choice to leave a company like Uber and go and start your own business was thrilling. [laughs] Can you tell me more about how that happened, or what was the order of operations there? LAUREN: I'll go back to my personal story a little bit. So I ended up with this disease that I had been diagnosed with. It was so rare and so not a lot of data on this disease that I decided it was...or these doctors were like, "You know what? Do you have a sister by any chance?" I was like, "What do you mean?" They were like, "You know, it's too risky for you to freeze your eggs just because we don't have any data on your disease. But if you have your sister freeze her eggs and donate them to you, you have them as a backup should you need them." So my incredible sister did that. And I learned a lot about the process of donation even through that experience. And went on to have three surgeries and ultimately was able to conceive without using my sister's eggs which was crazy and exciting and definitely gave my doctors a shock, which was great. And when I had my daughter, it was like this light bulb went off of, like, I have to build something in reproductive health. If I'm spending my time building something, I want it to be spent giving people who want to have a child this amazing gift that I've been given. And it was like an immediate amount of clarity. And so, after my maternity leave, I gave notice at Uber without a plan. I did not have a business idea. I did not have a job lined up. I was fortunate enough to be able to do that. But I almost think releasing myself of that is what gave me the freedom to think about other things. And it was within a day that Halle sent me that DM on Instagram without knowing I had given notice. So the universe works in mysterious ways. VICTORIA: That's wonderful and so exciting and that you just had a baby and then to be in a position where you could start a company and almost feel like I don't have enough to do; [laughter] I want to start a new company too. [laughs] LAUREN: I know. I ended up...the day we pitched our lead investors was my daughter's six-month birthday. VICTORIA: That's amazing. MID-ROLL AD: Are your engineers spending too much time on DevOps and maintenance issues when you need them on new features? We know maintaining your own servers can be costly and that it's easy for spending creep to sneak in when your team isn't looking. By delegating server management, maintenance, and security to thoughtbot and our network of service partners, you can get 24x7 support from our team of experts, all for less than the cost of one in-house engineer. Save time and money with our DevOps and Maintenance service. Find out more at: tbot.io/devops. VICTORIA: How do you balance that, like, those needs of being a mom and maybe being sleep deprived, but also starting this incredibly important business that you're passionate about? LAUREN: I mean, I'm very lucky that I have an amazing husband and sort of partner in all of this. We both are very involved in each other's work, and I highly recommend that if that's something you're open to. I think it gives you an outlet and someone to be invested in it with you but also more to talk about with your partner. [laughs] But other than that, too, I think having boundaries. So I've been really, really specific with myself and with my team about what windows of time I'm with my daughter, and I'm meticulous about it. If that means on certain days, I wake up before she does so that I can get some work done so that I have two hours with her first thing in the morning, and then I'm off between the hours of 4:00 to 7:00 so that I can spend time with her. If that means getting back online at night, I'm down to do that. I just won't compromise the time with her. And my team has been really respectful and honoring of that. And in turn, I really encourage everyone on my team to have a life outside work, whether that's with their children or their pets, or having physical activity, or things like that in their life. I think it's so important that we're not entirely defined by our startups. I think that's how people burn out really quickly. And it's like 2023, right? We don't need to be in this hustle culture where 100% of our time is focused on building our company. It's just not sustainable. VICTORIA: Right. I like that you mentioned sustainability. And that's been a recurring theme I've seen where, yeah, the hustle culture leads to burnout. It isn't sustainable. So are there other cultural or values that you impart onto your team, this new team, that you're standing up to create that sustainability in that innovation that you want? LAUREN: Yeah. I think one thing we've implemented...I would highly recommend actually Matt Mochary's CEO Curriculum. You can find it by Googling it, or I can share the link with you. And within his curriculum, he has something called The Magic Questions. And the magic questions it's like five or six questions where you ask everyone on your team, like, how would they rate their life at work? How would they rate working with the team? How's their personal life going? Like, you know, questions that you can quickly get to the root of something. But then, aside from giving a rating for each of those questions, it asks like, "How would you take it to the next level?" And what I think implementing these questions has done is it's like each time we do it, it gives the leadership team something to act on of like, "Hey, I noticed a theme amongst the employees with this set of magic questions. Like, here are some things we can address to improve that for everyone." And then there are also opportunities with each individual to say, "Hey, manager of this person, so and so called out that they're really struggling with prioritization this month, or they're really struggling with being split on these two projects. How can we help relieve that, or how can we dig in with that person so that the next time we ask these questions, that's not still an issue and that we've been able to take swift action to help improve that?" I think that really helps to just stay close to what people are feeling and thinking. And it also gives people, I think, more self-awareness of how they're doing and what they can be intentional about and address for themselves as well. VICTORIA: I like that. I'll have to look up that book and share it in our show notes as well and -- LAUREN: It's actually even all online. It's like a Google Doc you can look at. VICTORIA: That's awesome. LAUREN: And there's also a book called The Great CEO Within by Matt Mochary. But I love the book and the Google Doc version. VICTORIA: That's awesome. And it sounds like you really pulled everything together so fast. [laughs] I'm curious about your background if you feel like there were...you mentioned that you pitched inwardly to Uber. But what else about your background kind of lends you to this leadership-founder skill set? LAUREN: I mean, I joined Uber in 2013 when we had, I think, fewer than 200 employees, and we were in about 12 cities. So I very much knew startup life. And I understood this idea of sort of building the plane while you're flying it and saw that. And so I think that certainly has contributed to this. It's important when you're a founder to surround yourself with other founders and to have people that you can tap into at any point. I'm in a few different Slack groups with different founders; some are healthcare founders, some women founders, some through the VCs that we've worked with where it's really easy to say, "Hey, which payroll tool are you using?" Or "Hey, like, how do I measure employee NPS?" Or "What tools are you using for this or that?" And if you can tap into other founders, you really can move a lot faster. You don't have to write your entire employee handbook from scratch because you can borrow from other people. I think that's one of the best hacks that I would recommend. And then some of these books that I found that really do, you know, within that Matt Mochary book, it's like, here's a way to make candidate offers. Obviously, the book isn't doing the work for you, but it certainly is helping to give you a framework. And then the other piece is like, aside from your own team, I think bringing in some advisors who you trust and can go to for certain things. So two of our advisors are people I worked incredibly closely with at Uber and would trust with my life and so why not trust them with my company? So bringing them into the mix has been a real relief. And then just sort of about your community. I think it takes a village to raise...I think, actually, I would compare launching a company to having a baby. So if having a baby takes a village, so does launching a company. VICTORIA: Right. Or no founder is an island. [laughs] LAUREN: Yeah, exactly. VICTORIA: There's like a community, a whole group around that. I've heard, even in the episodes I've recorded, that it's a common theme among successful founders, which is heartwarming and understandable. So last question about just how it all got started. But if you could travel back in time to when you first decided you wanted to go after this opportunity, what advice would you give yourself now that you have all your present knowledge? LAUREN: I say this even to our intended parents who are grappling with this decision of using an egg donor to have a baby: remain steadfast on the vision or the end goal and be flexible on the how. So if you're an intended parent, it's like, remain flexible, like, steadfast on this idea that you want to become a parent, but be flexible on the how. With a company, I think stay true to what that ultimate vision is. So, for us, it's like help more people have babies on their own timeline and be flexible on the how, so exactly what our business model was, or exactly what our go-to-market approach would be, or exactly which product we were going to use to get there. I wish I had been a little bit more open to it being a winding road than I realized I needed to be at the beginning. So now I know that, and I'm open to any possibility as long as it gets us to the same place. VICTORIA: Right, gotcha. Yeah, well, let me ask you then about your go-to-market strategy since you mentioned it. What was unique in your strategy there, especially to target the specific consumers that you want to with this app? LAUREN: So I did follow a bit of an Uber approach, which is this idea of a soft launch. And the reason for that...so basically what we did was for the Freeze by Co side of our business, so for women who are interested in freezing, they have the option to join our split program where they donate half to intended parents and do it for free. Or they can join our Keep Program, where they freeze their eggs but keep 100% of the eggs for themselves. And we help do that along the way. However, basically, we couldn't launch Family by Co to help people find donors until we had donors. So it made sense to launch the Freeze by Co side of our business first. And I wanted the ability to market to them when we didn't have the eyes of the whole industry on us, or we didn't have tons and tons of consumers reading our press or things like that just yet. And so by soft launching with a quick beta Squarespace page, we were able to test our hypothesis, test our messaging, test our funnel, test our experience before really putting a ton of marketing spend behind it or having a ton of visibility into what we were doing. And I'm so, so grateful we did that. It led us, like, we went through probably five different versions of our funnel before we got to our public launch, and our soft launch really afforded us the opportunity to do that. So by the time we turned on the Family by Co side of our business, we already had over 50 donors on day one for them because we had already gotten these women through the funnel. VICTORIA: I love that. And that's something we talk a lot about with founders at thoughtbot is that idea of validating your product, and you talked about it with your Instagram poll that you did with influencers. And the way you're talking about your go-to-market strategy is that you wanted to make sure that even though you knew this is what you wanted to do, that you had the right approach and that you could create something that consumers actually wanted to buy and had trust in. LAUREN: Mm-hmm, totally. VICTORIA: You launched in October 2022. Are there any results post-launch that surprised you? LAUREN: I feel so grateful that our launch truly exceeded my expectations. So the interest from women in our programs has been overwhelming, like overwhelming in a good way. And then intended parents are thrilled about it. So we are making matches every day of these intended parents and these donors. And every time we make a match, I'm like, oh my God, it feels like Christmas morning. You're helping people find their path towards growing their family, and there's nothing that feels better than that. I don't think that feeling is ever going to go away, so I'm thrilled about it. But it doesn't mean that it's not hard. I think back to that analogy of like having a baby, you know, you launch this company. You hope it's received. You count ten fingers, ten toes, hope that it's received, hope that it's received. It is, but then you have the demand, and you have inbound on partnership opportunities, and you have managing the demand and handling the leads and things like that. And it's like so much more than you expect. It's like the same feeling of having a newborn of, like, [gasps] how are we going to do all this? Am I going to stay up all night to manage this? Or how do we handle what we're seeing? And so it's a lot, and figuring out what this new normal is is something that my team and I are working through every day. VICTORIA: What's wonderful is that the surprise feels even better than you thought it would. [laughs] LAUREN: Yes. VICTORIA: Wonderful. For myself, as I'm in my 30s and I'm married and, you know, I'm not thinking it about at some point in the future. But what advice do you think you want women to think about regarding their fertility at any age, like if you could talk to consumers directly like you are now? [laughs] LAUREN: Totally. Just that it's never too soon to ask those questions. And the information you need and should want is like inside your body but ready to be shared with you. So by having a consult with a fertility clinic, and that's something my team could help you with, you can learn about your prospects for having a baby and understanding how fertile you are. And just because, you know, they say, "Oh, as long as you're under a certain age, you shouldn't have a problem," doesn't mean that that's the case. One of my co-founders was 28 when she started trying to conceive and was completely blindsided that this was going to be a real struggle for her, and that breaks my heart. It doesn't need to be like that. If we're more proactive and we start asking these questions younger, then we can actually do something about it. So your fertility is really about your egg quantity and your egg quality, and both of those things are things that can be tested and measured. And I think I'm someone who loves data. And having that data, I think, can help enable you to make decisions about how you can best move forward, and for some, it might mean having a baby soon. For others, it might mean freezing your eggs. For others, it might be a waiting scenario. But that's something that you can make a more informed decision about if you have that data. VICTORIA: That makes a lot of sense. And I'll be sharing this episode with all of my friends and everything on Instagram as well. LAUREN: [laughs] VICTORIA: Great information to put out there. And what's on the horizon for you? What are the big challenges that you see coming up for Cofertility in the next months or year? LAUREN: I think really like scale is what we're focused on. So we've started making matches; it feels great. I want us to be prepared to do those at scale. We are seeing no slowdown in terms of people who are interested in this. And so, making sure that our team is ready and able to handle that demand is my absolute top priority. So I think scale is top of mind. I think making sure we're optimizing our experience for that is really important. So how do we make sure that everyone is having a magical, smooth experience, both through our digital experience but also if they're on the phone with someone from our team or if they're reading our materials at the fertility clinic? Like, how do we ensure that that's a great experience all around? VICTORIA: Right, that makes sense. And right now, is Cofertility specific to a certain location, or is it nationwide? LAUREN: Nationwide throughout the U.S. VICTORIA: Wonderful. And you yourself are based in California, right? LAUREN: Yes, I'm based in Los Angeles. And our team is fully remote, which has been a really exciting thing to do. We're in different time zones and have a lot of opportunity to visit people in different cities, which is nice. VICTORIA: Oh, that's great, yeah. How do you help build that culture remotely with a brand-new team? LAUREN: So, for us, I think we're very intentional about having team off sites at least twice a year. We also get together for different things like planning meetings or conferences that are really relevant to us. But I think part of it, too, is really around different touchpoints throughout the day. And we have a daily stand-up. We also are clear about which hours everyone sort of overlaps based on their time zones and making sure that people are available during those windows and then giving everyone flexibility otherwise in terms of when it makes the most sense to do their work, not being too prescriptive. And really, again, encouraging people to have a life outside work, I think, makes it so that we get the best out of our team. VICTORIA: Right, that makes a lot of sense. Yeah, we've got similar...at thoughtbot, we have in-person meetups once or twice a year and then go to different conferences and things together. And I think some people do miss a little bit of the office experience, but for the most part, everyone is happy to put it that way. [laughs] LAUREN: Yeah, it's definitely...I think for sure it has its pros and cons. I think what I love about it is that we're not limited with talent. Our team truly, like, [laughs] we have people...we have someone in Oakland, someone in Miami, someone in Charleston, someone in Boston, someone in New York City. Like, the fact that we're not limited because of geography feels great. And I admittedly really love the ability to see my daughter throughout the day and feel like I don't have to stress over how much time I'm spending commuting. So I can't see myself ever going back. VICTORIA: That's right, and LA is certainly a place to have a long commute. [laughter] And have you gotten any benefit out of local networking and community around Los Angeles or Southern California? LAUREN: Yes, absolutely. Even this Friday night, I'm going to a female founder dinner. I have something coming up in a couple of weeks with this group of women's health founders that I really love. It's so, so valuable to have people in your network that are both local and get the life that you're living while you're doing it. I think having people understand why your life is the way it is while you're building a company is really quite nice. So there are founder communities everywhere but seeking those out early is definitely helpful. VICTORIA: And then if you have a remote team, then each team member can have that local community, so you're 10x-ing. [laughs] LAUREN: Completely. VICTORIA: Yeah, wonderful. Is there anything else, anything that you think I should have asked you that I haven't asked yet? LAUREN: No. I think one thing I would encourage is when you're trying to figure out your go-to-market approach, what the strategy is going to be. I'm a big fan of getting everything really in slides. Get it in slides and bring in some people you trust. Talk to your advisors, talk to your investors, talk to your co-founders or your team and say, "Hey, these are the three ways this could go. Here are pros and cons of each one," and making a decision that way. I think when we try to do it where it's like all in someone's head, and you're not getting it out on paper with pros and cons, it can feel like a really, really hard decision. But when you see things on paper, and you're able to get the opinion of people you trust, everything is able to come to fruition much more quickly, and you can get to a decision faster. VICTORIA: Right. So you're probably really buzzing with ideas early on and finding ways to communicate those and get it so that you can practice talking about it to somebody else. Makes sense. LAUREN: Yeah. It's like, how do you socialize it? That's a great way to do it. VICTORIA: Yeah, well, wonderful. This has been a really enjoyable conversation. I appreciate you coming on the show so much, and thank you for sharing all about Cofertility with us. Any other final takeaways for our listeners? LAUREN: Thanks so much for having me. If you're interested at all in what we're doing or it would be helpful to connect, our website is cofertility.com. You can find me on Instagram at @laurenmakler, L-A-U-R-E-N-M-A-K-L-E-R. Happy to chat really about anything as it relates to building a company, or your fertility, or just questions you have in general. I would love to chat. VICTORIA: Thank you so much. And you can subscribe to the show and find notes along with a complete transcript for this episode at giantrobots.fm. If you have questions or comments, email us at hosts@giantrobots.fm. And you can find me on Twitter @victori_ousg. This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot and produced and edited by Mandy Moore. Thank you for listening, and see you next time. ANNOUNCER: This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot, your expert strategy, design, development, and product management partner. We bring digital products from idea to success and teach you how because we care. Learn more at thoughtbot.com.

The Bike Shed
367: Value Objects

The Bike Shed

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 17, 2023 34:00


Joël's been traveling. Stephanie's working on professional development. She's also keeping up a little bit more with Ruby news and community news in general and saw that Ruby 3.2 introduced a new class called data to its core library for the use case of creating simple value objects. This episode is brought to you by Airbrake (https://airbrake.io/?utm_campaign=Q3_2022%3A%20Bike%20Shed%20Podcast%20Ad&utm_source=Bike%20Shed&utm_medium=website). Visit Frictionless error monitoring and performance insight for your app stack. Maggie Appleton's Tools for Thought (https://maggieappleton.com/tools-for-thought) Episode on note-taking with Amanda Beiner (https://www.bikeshed.fm/357) Obsidian (https://obsidian.md/) Zettelkasten (https://zettelkasten.de/posts/overview/) Evergreen notes (https://notes.andymatuschak.org/Evergreen_notes) New Data class (https://ruby-doc.org/3.2.0/Data.html) Joël's article on value objects (https://thoughtbot.com/blog/value-object-semantics-in-ruby) Episode on specialized vocabulary (https://www.bikeshed.fm/356) Primitive Obsession (https://wiki.c2.com/?PrimitiveObsession) Transcript: AD: thoughtbot is thrilled to announce our own incubator launching this year. If you are a non-technical founding team with a business idea that involves a web or mobile app, we encourage you to apply for our eight-week program. We'll help you move forward with confidence in your team, your product vision, and a roadmap for getting you there. Learn more and apply at tbot.io/incubator. STEPHANIE: Hello and welcome to another episode of The Bike Shed, a weekly podcast from your friends at thoughtbot about developing great software. I'm Stephanie Minn. JOËL: And I'm Joël Quenneville. And together, we're here to share a little bit of what we've learned along the way. STEPHANIE: So, Joël, what's new in your world? JOËL: I've been traveling for the past few weeks in Europe. I just recently got back to the U.S. and have just gotten used to drinking American-style drip coffee again after having espresso every day for a few weeks. And it's been an adjustment. STEPHANIE: I bet. I think that it's such a downgrade compared to European espresso. I remember when I was in Italy, I also would really enjoy espresso every day at a local cafe and just be like sitting outside drinking it. And it was very delightful. JOËL: They're very different experiences. I have to say I do enjoy just holding a hot mug and sort of sipping on it for a long time. It's also a lot weaker. You wouldn't want to do a full hot mug of espresso. That would just be way too intense. But yeah, I think both experiences are enjoyable. They're just different. STEPHANIE: Yeah. So, that first day with your measly drip coffee and your jet lag, how are you doing on your first day back at work? JOËL: I did pretty good. I think part of the fun of coming back to the U.S. from Europe is that the jet lag makes me a very productive morning person for a week. Normally, I'm a little bit more of an evening person. So I get to get a bit of an alter ego for a week, and that helps me to transition back into work. STEPHANIE: Nice. JOËL: So you've also been on break and have started work again. How are you feeling productivity-wise, kicking off the New Year? STEPHANIE: I'm actually unbooked this week and the last week too. So I'm not working on client projects, but I am having a lot of time to work on just professional development. And usually, during this downtime, I also like to reassess just how I'm working, and lately, what that has meant for me is changing my note-taking process. And I'm really excited to share this with you because I know that you have talked about this on the show before, I think in a previous episode with a guest, Amanda Beiner. And I listened to that episode, and I was really inspired because I was feeling like I didn't have a note-taking system that worked super well for me. But you all talked about some tools you used and some, I guess, philosophies around note-taking that like I said, I was really inspired by. And so I hopped on board the Obsidian train. And I'm really excited to share with you my experience with it. So I really like it because I previously was taking notes in my editor under the impression that, oh, like, everything is in one place. It'll be like a seamless transition from code to note-taking. And I was already writing in Markdown. But I actually didn't like it that much because I found it kind of distracting to have code things kind of around. And if I was navigating files or something, something work or code-related might come up, and that ended up being a bit distracting for me. But I know that that works really well for some people; a coworker of ours, Aji, I know that he takes his notes in Vim and has a really fancy setup for that. And so I thought maybe that's what I wanted, but it turns out that what I wanted was actually more of a boundary between code and notes. And so, I was assessing different note-taking and knowledge management software. And I have been really enjoying Obsidian because it also has quite a bit of community support. So I've installed a few plugins for just quality-of-life features like snippets which I had in my editor, and now I get to have in Obsidian. I also installed things like Natural Language Dates. So for my running to-do list, I can just do a shortcut for today, and it'll autofill today's date, which, I don't know, because for me, [laughs] that is just a little bit less mental work that I have to do to remember the date. And yeah, I've been really liking it. I haven't even fully explored backlinking, and that connectivity aspect, which I know is a core feature, but it's been working well for me so far. JOËL: That's really exciting. I love notes and note-taking and the ways that we can use those to make our lives better as developers and as human beings. Do you have a particular system or way you've approached that? Because I know for me, I probably looked at Obsidian for six months before I kind of had the courage to download it because I didn't want to go into it and not have a way to organize things. I was like; I don't want to just throw random notes in here. I want to have a system. That might just be me. But did you just kind of jump into it and see, like, oh, a system will emerge? Did you have a particular philosophy going in? How are you approaching taking notes there? STEPHANIE: That's definitely a you thing because I've definitely had the opposite experience [laughs] where I'm just like, oh, I've downloaded this thing. I'm going to start typing notes and see what happens. I have never really had a good organizational system, which I think is fine for me. I was really leaning on pen and paper notes for a while, and I still have a certain use case for them. Because I find that when I'm in meetings or one-on-ones and taking notes, I don't actually like to have my hands on the keyboard because of distractions. Like I mentioned earlier, it's really easy for me to, like, oh, accidentally Command-Tab and open Slack and be like, oh, someone posted something new in Slack; let me go read this. And I'm not giving the meeting or the person I'm talking to my full attention, and I really didn't like that. So I still do pen and paper for things where I want to make sure that I'm not getting distracted. And then, I will transfer any gems from those notes to Obsidian if I find that they are worth putting in a place where I do have a little bit more discoverability and eventually maybe kind of adding on to my process of using those backlinks and connecting thoughts like that. So, so far, it's truly just a list of separate little pages of notes, and yeah, we'll see how it goes. I'm curious what your system for organizing is or if you have kind of figured out something that works well for you. JOËL: So my approach focuses very heavily on the backlinks. It's loosely inspired by two similar systems of organization called Zettelkasten and evergreen notes. The idea is that you create notes that are ideas. Typically, the title is like a thesis statement, and you keep them very short, focused on a single thing. And if you have a more complex idea, it probably breaks down into two or three, and then you link them to each other as makes sense. So you create a web of these atomic ideas that are highly interconnected with each other. And then later on, because I use this a lot for either creating content in the future or to help refine my thinking on various software topics, so later on, I can go through and maybe connect three or four things I didn't realize connected together. Or if I'm writing an article or a talk, maybe find three or four of these ideas that I generated at very different moments, but now they're connected. And I can make an article or a talk out of them. So that's sort of the purpose that I use them for and how I've organized things for myself. STEPHANIE: I think that's a really interesting topic because while I was assessing different software for note-taking and, like I said, knowledge management, I discovered this blog post by Maggie Appleton that was super interesting because she is talking about the term tools of thought which a lot of these different software kind of leveraged in their marketing copy as like, oh, this software will be like the key to evolving your thinking and help you expand making connections, like you mentioned, in ways that you weren't able to before. And was very obviously trying to upsell you on this product, and she -- JOËL: It's over the top. STEPHANIE: A little bit, a little bit. So in this article, I liked that she took a critical lens to that idea and rooted her article in history and gave examples of a bunch of different things in human history that also evolved the ways humans were able to express their thoughts and solve problems. And so some of the ones that she listed were like storytelling and oral tradition. Literally, the written language obviously [laughs] empowered humans to be able to communicate and think in ways that we never were before but also drawings, and maps, and spreadsheets. So I thought that was really cool because she was basically saying that tools of thought don't need to be digital, and people claiming that these software, you know, are the new way to think or whatever, it's like, the way we're thinking now, but we also have this long history of using and developing different things that helped us communicate with each other and think about stuff. JOËL: I think that's something that appealed to me when I was looking at some of these note-taking systems. Zettelkasten, in particular, predates digital technology. The original system was built on note cards, and the digital stuff just made it a little bit easier. But I think also when I was reading about these ideas of keeping ideas small and linking them together, I realized that's already kind of how I tend to organize information when I just hold it in my brain or even when I try to do something like a tweet thread on Twitter where I'll try to break it up. It might be a larger, more complex idea, but each tweet, I try to get it to kind of stand on its own to make it easier to retweet and all that. And so it becomes a chain of related ideas that maybe build up to something, but each idea stands on its own. And that's kind of how in these systems notes end up working. And they're in a way that you can kind of remix them with each other. So it's not just a linear chain like you would have on Twitter. STEPHANIE: Yeah, I remember you all in that episode about note-taking with Amanda talked about the value of having an atomic piece of information in every note that you write. And since then, I've been trying to do that more because, especially when I was doing pen and paper, I would just write very loose, messy thoughts down. And I would just think that maybe I would come back to them one day and try to figure out, like, oh, what did I say here, and can I apply it to something? But it's kind of like doing any kind of refactoring or whatever. It's like, in that moment, you have the most context about what you just wrote down or created. And so I've been a little more intentional about trying to take that thought to its logical end, and then hopefully, it will provide value later. What you were saying about the connectivity I also wanted to kind of touch on a little bit further because I've realized that for me, a lot of the connection-making happens during times where I'm not very actively trying to think, or reflect, or do a lot of deep work, if you will. Because lately, I've been having a lot of revelations in the shower, or while I'm trying to fall asleep, or just other kinds of meditative activity. And I'm just coming to terms with that's just how my brain works. And doing those kinds of activities has value for me because it's like something is clearly going on in my brain. And I definitely want to just honor that's how it works for me. JOËL: I had a great conversation recently with another colleague about the gift of boredom and how that can impact our work and what we think about, and our creativity. That was really great. Sometimes it's important to give ourselves a little bit more blank space in our lives. And counter-intuitively, it can make us more productive, even though we're not scheduling ourselves to be productive. STEPHANIE: Yes, I wholeheartedly agree with that. I think a lot about the feeling of boredom, and for me, that is like the middle of summer break when you're still in school and you just had no obligations whatsoever. And you could just do whatever you wanted and could just laze around and be bored. But letting your mind wander during those times is something I really miss. And sometimes, when I do experience that feeling, I get a little bit anxious. I'm like, oh, I could be doing something else. There's whatever endless list of chores or things that are, quote, unquote, "productive." But yeah, I really like how you mentioned that there is value in that experience, and it can feel really indulgent, but that can be good too. MID-ROLL AD: Debugging errors can be a developer's worst nightmare...but it doesn't have to be. Airbrake is an award-winning error monitoring, performance, and deployment tracking tool created by developers for developers that can actually help cut your debugging time in half. So why do developers love Airbrake? It has all of the information that web developers need to monitor their application - including error management, performance insights, and deploy tracking! Airbrake's debugging tool catches all of your project errors, intelligently groups them, and points you to the issue in the code so you can quickly fix the bug before customers are impacted. In addition to stellar error monitoring, Airbrake's lightweight APM helps developers to track the performance and availability of their application through metrics like HTTP requests, response times, error occurrences, and user satisfaction. Finally, Airbrake Deploy Tracking helps developers track trends, fix bad deploys, and improve code quality. Since 2008, Airbrake has been a staple in the Ruby community and has grown to cover all major programming languages. Airbrake seamlessly integrates with your favorite apps to include modern features like single sign-on and SDK-based installation. From testing to production, Airbrake notifiers have your back. Your time is valuable, so why waste it combing through logs, waiting for user reports, or retrofitting other tools to monitor your application? You literally have nothing to lose. Head on over to airbrake.io/try/bikeshed to create your FREE developer account today! JOËL: So you mentioned recently that you've had a lot of revelations or new ideas that have come upon you or that you've been able to dig into a little bit more. Is there one you'd like to share with the audience? STEPHANIE: Yeah. So during this downtime that I've had not working on client work, I have been able to keep up a little bit more with Ruby news or just community news in general. And in, I think, an edition of Ruby Weekly, I saw that Ruby 3.2 introduced this new class called data to its core library for the use case of creating simple value objects. And I was really excited about this new feature because I remembered that you had written a thoughtbot blog post about value objects back in the summer that I had reviewed. That was an opportunity that I could make a connection between something happening in recent news with some thoughts that I had about this topic a few months ago. But basically, this new class can be used over something like a struct to create objects that are immutable in their values, which is a big improvement if you are trying to follow value objects semantics. JOËL: So, I have not played around with the new data class. How is it different from the existing struct that we have in Ruby? STEPHANIE: So I think I might actually answer that first by saying how they're similar, which is that they are both vehicles for holding pieces of data. So we've, in the past, been able to use a struct to very cheaply and easily create a new class that has attributes. But one pitfall of using a struct when you're trying to implement something like a value object is that structs also came with writer methods for all of its members. And so you could change the value of a member, and that it kind of inherently goes against the semantics of a value object because, ideally, they're immutable. And so, with the data class, it doesn't offer writer methods essentially. And I think that it freezes the instance as well in the constructor. And so even if you tried to add writer methods, you would eventually get an error. JOËL: That's really convenient. I think that may be an area where I've been a little bit frustrated with structs in the past, which is that they can be modified. They basically get treated as if they're hashes with a slightly nicer syntax to interact with them. And I want slightly harder boundaries around the data. Particularly when I'm using them as value objects, I generally don't want people to modify them because that might lead to some weird bugs in the code where you've got a, I don't know, something represents a time value or a date value or something, and you're trying to do math on it. And instead of giving you a new time or date, value just modifies the first one. And so now your start date is in the past or something because you happen to subtract a time from it to do a calculation. And you can't assign it to a variable anywhere. STEPHANIE: Yeah, for sure. Another kind of pitfall I remember noticing about structs were that the struct class includes the enumerable module, which makes a struct kind of like a collection. Whereas if you are using it for a value object, that's maybe not what you want. So there was a bit of discourse about whether or not the data class should inherit from struct. And I think they landed on it not inheriting because then you can draw a line in the sand and have that stricter enforcement of saying like, this is what a data as value object should be, and this is what it should not be. So I found that pretty valuable too. JOËL: I think I've heard people talk about sort of two classes of problems that are typically solved with a struct; one is something like a value object where you probably don't want it to be writable. You probably don't want it to be enumerable. And it sounds like data now takes on that role very nicely. The other category of problem is that you have just a hash, and you're trying to incrementally migrate it over to some nicer objects in some kind of domain. And struct actually gives you this really nice intermediate phase where it still mostly behaves like a hash if you needed to, but it also behaves like an object. And it can help you incrementally transition away from just a giant hash into something that's a little bit more programmatic. STEPHANIE: Yeah, that's a really good point. I think struct will still be a very viable option for that second category that you described. But having this new data class could be a good middle ground before you extract something into its own class because it better encapsulates the idea of a value object. And one thing that I remember was really interesting about the article that you wrote was that sometimes people forget to implement certain methods when they're writing their own custom value objects. And these come a bit more out of the box with data and just provide a bit more like...what's the word I'm looking for? I'm looking for...you know when you're bowling, and you have those bumpers, I guess? [laughs] JOËL: Uh-huh. STEPHANIE: They provide just like safeguards, I guess, for following semantics around value objects that I thought was really important because it's creating an artifact for this concept that didn't exist. JOËL: And to recap for the audience here, the difference is in how objects are compared for equality. So value objects, if they have the same internal value, even if they're separate objects in memory, should be considered equal. That's how numbers work. That's how hashes work. Generally, primitives in Ruby behave this way. And structs behave that way, and the new data class, it sounds, also behaves that way. Whereas regular objects that you would make they compare based off of the identity of the object, not its value. So if you create two user instances, not ActiveRecord, but you could create a user class, you create two instances in memory. They both have the same attributes. They will be considered not equal to each other because they're not the same instance in memory, and that's fine for something more complex. But when you're dealing with value objects, it's important that two objects that represent the same thing, like a particular time for a unit of measure or something like that, if they have the same internal value, they must be the same. STEPHANIE: Right. So prior to the introduction of this class, that wasn't really enforced or codified anywhere. It was something that if you knew what a value object was, you could apply that concept to your code and make sure that the code you wrote was semantically aligned with this concept. And what was kind of exciting to me about the addition of this to the core class library in Ruby is that someone could discover this without having to know what a value object is like more formally. They might be able to see the use of a data class and be like, oh, let me look this up in the official Ruby docs. And then they could learn like, okay, here's what that means, and here's some rules for this concept in a way that, like I mentioned earlier, felt very implicit to me prior. So that, I don't know, was a really exciting new development in my eyes. JOËL: One of the first episodes that you and I recorded together was about the value of specific vocabulary. And I think part of what the Ruby team has done here is they've taken an implicit concept and given it a name. It's extracted, and it has a name now. And if you use it now, it's because you're doing this data thing, this value object thing. And now there's a documentation page. You can Google it. You can find it rather than just be wondering like, oh, why did someone use a struct in this way and not realize there are some implicit semantics that are different? Or wondering why did the override double equals on this custom class? STEPHANIE: Yeah, exactly. I think that the introduction of this class also provides a solution for something that you mentioned in that blog post, which was the idea of testing value objects. Because previously, when you did have to make sure that you implemented methods, those comparison methods to align with the concept of a value object, it was very easy to forget or just not know. And so you provided a potential solution of testing value objects via an RSpec shared example. And I remember thinking like, ooh, that was a really hot topic because we had also been debating about shared examples in general. But yeah, I was just thinking that now that it's part of the core library, I think, in some ways, that eliminates the need to test something that is using a data class anyway because we can rely a little bit more on that dependency. JOËL: Right? It's the built-in behavior now. Do you have any fun uses for value objects recently? STEPHANIE: I have not necessarily had to implement my own recently. But I do think that the next time I work with one or the next time I think that I might want to have something like a value object it will be a lot easier. And I'm just excited to play around with this and see how it will help solve any problem that might come up. So, Joël, do you have any ideas about when you might reach for a data object? JOËL: A lot of situations, I think, when you see the primitive obsession smell are a great use case for value objects, or maybe we should call them data objects now, now that this is part of Ruby's vocabulary. I think I often tend to; preemptively sounds bad, but a lot of times, I will try to be careful. Anytime I'm doing anything with raw numbers, magic strings, things like that, I'll try to encapsulate them into some sort of struct. Or even if it's like a pair of numbers, it always goes together, maybe a latitude and longitude. Now, those are a pair. Do I want to just be passing around a two-element array all the time or a hash that would probably make a very nice data object? If I have a unit of measure, some number that represents not just the abstract concept of three but specifically three miles or three minutes, then I might reach for something like a data class. STEPHANIE: Yeah, I think that's also true if you're doing any kind of arithmetic or, in general, trying to compare anything about two of the same things. That might be a good indicator as well that you could use something richer, like a value object, to make some of that code more readable, and you get some of those convenient methods for doing those comparisons. JOËL: Have you ever written code where you just have like some number in the code, and there's a comment afterwards that's like minutes or miles or something like that, just giving you the unit as a comment afterwards? STEPHANIE: Oh yeah. I've definitely seen some of that code. And yeah, I mean, now that you mentioned it, that's a great use case for what we're talking about, and it's definitely a code smell. JOËL: It can often be nice as you make these more domain concepts; maybe they start as a data object, but then they might grow with their own custom methods. And maybe you extend data the same way you could extend a struct, or maybe you create a custom class to the point where the user...whoever calls that object, doesn't really need to know or care about the particular unit, just like when you have duration value. If you have a duration object, you can do the math you want. You can do all the operations and don't have to know whether it is in milliseconds, or seconds, or minutes because it knows that internally and keeps all of the math straight as opposed to just holding on to what I've done before, which is you have some really big number somewhere. You have start is, or length is equal to some big number and then comment milliseconds. And then, hopefully, whoever does math on that number later remembers to do the division by 1,000 or whatever they need. STEPHANIE: I've certainly worked on code where we've tolerated those magic numbers for probably longer than we should have because maybe we did have the shared understanding that that value represents minutes or milliseconds or whatever, and that was just part of the domain knowledge. But you're right, like when you see them, and without a very clear label, all of that stuff is implied and is really not very friendly for someone coming along in the future. As well as, like you mentioned earlier, if you have to do math on it later to convert it to something else, that is also a red flag that you could use some kind of abstraction or something to represent this concept at a higher level but also be extensible to different forms, so a duration to represent different amounts of time or money to represent different values and different currencies, stuff like that. JOËL: Do you have a guideline that you follow as to when something starts being worth extracting into some kind of data object? STEPHANIE: I don't know if I have particularly clear guidelines, but I do remember feeling frustrated when I've had to test really complicated hashes or just primitives that are holding a lot of different pieces of information in a way that just is very unwieldy when you do have to write a test for it. And if those things were encapsulated in methods, that would have been a lot easier. And so I think that is a bit of a signal for me. Do you have any other guidelines or gut instincts around that? JOËL: We mentioned the comment that is the unit. That's probably a...I wasn't sure if I would have to call it a code smell, but I'm going to call it a code smell that tells you maybe you should...that value wants to be something a little bit more than just a number. I've gotten suspicious of just raw integers in general, not enough to say that I'm going to make all integers data objects now, but enough to make me pause and think a lot of times. What does this number represent? Should it be a data object? I think I also tend to default to try to do something like a data object when I'm dealing with API responses. You were talking about hashes and how they can be annoying to test. But also, when you're dealing with data coming back from a third-party API, a giant nested hash is not the most convenient thing to work with, both for the implementation but then also just for the readability of your code. I often try to have almost like a translation layer where very quickly I take the payload from a third-party service and turn it into some kind of object. STEPHANIE: Yeah, I think the data class docs itself has an example of using it for HTTP responses because I think the particular implementation doesn't even require it to have attributes. And so you can use it to just label something rather than requiring a value for it. JOËL: And that is one thing that is nice about something like a data object versus a hash is that a hash could have literally anything in it. And to a certain extent, a data object is self-documenting. So if I want to know I've gotten to a shopping cart object from a third-party API, what can I get out of the shopping cart? I can look at the data object. I can open the class and see here are the methods I can call. If it's just a hash, well, I guess I can try to either find the documentation for the API or try to make a real request and then inspect the hash at runtime. But there's not really any way to find out without actually executing the code. STEPHANIE: Yeah, that's totally fair. And what you said about self-documenting makes a lot of sense. And it's always preferable than that stray comment in the code. [laughs] JOËL: I'm really excited to use the data class in future Ruby 3.2 projects. So I'm really glad that you brought it up. I've not tried it myself, but I'm excited to use it in future projects. STEPHANIE: On that note, shall we wrap up? JOËL: Let's wrap up. STEPHANIE: Show notes for this episode can be found at bikeshed.fm. JOËL: This show has been produced and edited by Mandy Moore. STEPHANIE: If you enjoyed listening, one really easy way to support the show is to leave us a quick rating or even a review in iTunes. It really helps other folks find the show. JOËL: If you have any feedback for this or any of our other episodes, you can reach us @_bikeshed, or you can reach me @joelquen on Twitter. STEPHANIE: Or reach both of us at hosts@bikeshed.fm via email. JOËL: Thanks so much for listening to The Bike Shed, and we'll see you next week. ALL: Byeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!! ANNOUNCER: This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot, your expert strategy, design, development, and product management partner. We bring digital products from idea to success and teach you how because we care. Learn more at thoughtbot.com.

Switchfoot Song Stories

Chris Cleveland (Stars Go Dim) joins us to discuss music, Switchfoot's influence, Mandy Moore (naturally), and one of SF's all-time great songs "Only Hope." Check out the "10000 Minutes" Podcast HERE! Check out Tyler's book "Searching for Seven- The Journey of Seeking God Seven Days a Week." Subscribe to Stars Go Dim Youtube Channel HERE! New episodes every Thursday! #HopeDeservesAnAnthem --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/dailyjonforeman/support

Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots
457: We Take Part with Shaila Sahai

Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 12, 2023 28:38


Shaila Sahai is the Founder of We Take Part, an investment crowdfunding platform that connects eco-conscious investors and green tech entrepreneurs throughout Europe, including European overseas territories. Victoria talks to Shaila about focusing on clean tech and climate tech solutions exclusively, goals of contributing to the acceleration of the process of decarbonization, and how the idea of a crowd-investing platform that targets only green tech is welcome from the fintech ecosystem and potential investors. Follow We Take Part on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/wetakepart/). Follow Shaila Sahai on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/shailasahai/). Follow thoughtbot on Twitter (https://twitter.com/thoughtbot) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/150727/). Become a Sponsor (https://thoughtbot.com/sponsorship) of Giant Robots! Transcript: VICTORIA: This is the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Victoria Guido. And with me today is Shaila Sahai, Founder of We Take Part, an investment crowdfunding platform that connects eco-conscious investors and green tech entrepreneurs throughout Europe, including European overseas territories. Shaila, thank you for joining me. SHAILA: Thank you for having me. VICTORIA: So, can you start off just telling me a little bit more about We Take Part? SHAILA: We Take part is a crowdinvesting platform based in France. We will be connecting eco-conscious investors, who could be individuals but also institutions, with startups from the green tech ecosystem in France and in Europe. We're going to use projects such as equities. It could be also bonds, green bonds. So basically, it will be investing in a company in exchange of shares in those startups. VICTORIA: Great. And you have a background in financial services. What led you to get the idea to start this platform? SHAILA: Yes. So I come from the financial services world professionally, so I worked in equity services. So basically, my job was to make sure that trades were correctly made and settled in the stock exchange markets. Then I also went to work in the financial management corporate side in banking. I had, after some years, a global vision of finance management that led me to after some time, I quit my job and started working for myself as a financial management consultant. So basically, it was financial consulting. And after some time, I specialized in working with small companies and startups, helping them in financial optimization and also in financial development strategies. And I wanted to do more for those companies after some time, so more than consulting and helping them internally. I wanted to develop tools for them to find more financing solutions than just going to a bank asking for a loan, for example. Most of the time, I could see them feeling blocked when they could not, for example, get a loan from the bank. That led me to develop a crowdfunding solution for them to help them. Also, the fact that we chose to target only green tech startups comes from a personal conviction of mine that we should really focus on and prioritize climate change solutions right now. And we should, as a society but also in the economy, focus on sustainable solutions to help and contribute actively to the decarbonization of the economy in general. VICTORIA: That makes a lot of sense. And can you give me an example of a type of green tech that is being crowdfunded, or you want to be crowdfunded on this platform fund? SHAILA: We want to focus on clean tech and climate tech solutions exclusively. A lot of competitors and investors right now focus on renewable energy, and, of course, this is a very important problem. We want to give access to other startups that develop solutions to clean, for example, the atmosphere or oceans and also the earth for agriculture matters. We want to give them access to investments too. Also, to include people in the investment process because the subjects such as, for example, agriculture, or transportation, construction solutions also are a priority, and they really interest people directly. Some matters, such as renewable energy some people understand those matters, but most of them don't feel really connected to those problems because they seem like far from their daily preoccupations. So we want to focus on solutions that will directly help people in their...affect and impact people in their daily solutions. VICTORIA: Right. So not only are you democratizing this investment into green energy and green tech, but you're also expanding the idea of what does that mean? What types of projects are we doing besides just alternative fuels, right? SHAILA: Exactly. It is true that fossil fuels and all those high carbon emissions energy industries represent three-quarters of the carbon emissions globally. There still is one quarter that we need to transform that needs to be totally, yes, changed. So we need to go further than that, and we need to take part. And that's also the reason for the name of the company. We need to take part in the whole action change plan. VICTORIA: Right. And I think about that when I've talked to my friends about climate change and how it affects people and the fact that it is already affecting people. And that certain neighborhoods and certain communities are taking a disproportionate share of the impact of climate change. SHAILA: Absolutely. I personally come from an island. So I'm from the Caribbean, from an island called Guadeloupe. It's a French territory. In the Caribbean, for example, or South America as we know, as we see in the media, the consequences of global warming and fossil industries are extremely visible, and the impacts are huge. The landscape, for example, is changing dramatically. The air pollution is awful. Forests are disappearing. So those are very visible effects. That's also a reason why it was important for us to include green tech solutions from those places because a lot of innovators are from there because they live with the direct consequences. They innovate in those areas. But those territories, unfortunately, are mostly forgotten, even by big countries, so that's also a reason why someone has to get interested in them. VICTORIA: Right. I could imagine that it's difficult to find capital if you're from that area and you're solving a problem that's not one of the big ones, [laughs], right? SHAILA: Exactly. VICTORIA: Are the projects that you're looking to crowdfund; do they tend to be small? Are they large? Or what's the size of the projects that they're looking for? SHAILA: So exactly for that reason of accessibility, we decided to first of all, from an investor point of view, we decided to make the investment ticket to set it to €100. But also from a company in funding needs, we decided to also set the minimum funding amount to €50,000. So that means that we really want to support early-stage companies which are not necessarily attractive to big investors or banks, which are not profitable yet but still have good potential of development to support their solution because most of them really deserve to be supported and need to get their product out. Obviously, the aim of our company, of our solution is to make profit and also to lead investors to make profitable investments. So we will have, of course, financial criterias before selecting startups getting into our funding process. But the main focus will be to give them access to investments that would not be attractive, very attractive to big investors or banks. VICTORIA: Right. And you just founded this back in April, and you're at pre-seed stage. How are you feeling? [laughs] SHAILA: Well, I feel overwhelmed [laughs] because there's a lot of, you know, this is a good thing that this area of operations is very regulated. That comes with a lot of paperwork. So I have to go through this right now before really launching publicly the activities. But, in the meantime, I feel very excited because I am personally motivated. The aim is bigger than making profits. The aim is to contribute to the acceleration of the whole process of decarbonization. It's also to give more sense, more meaning to investment in general but also to give access to new people to investment. And by that, I mean people who are climate-conscious, people who want to make a change, to see direct changes in their environments because I know that the cause is greater than me. I'm very excited as well as exhausted. VICTORIA: [laughs] That's good. I think you'll need that passion to keep you going. Have you had anyone tell you that you should consider a nonprofit, and why have you decided to make it for-profit? SHAILA: No, so no one has told me this [laughter] yet. I guess that's because of my background. I come from finance. My partners or people that I meet because of this project know that I eventually know what I'm doing. They are not suggesting nonprofit. Also, I truly believe in making good business. I think that this is possible, and I want to be part of those people who make it possible. For a long time, prosperity, economic prosperity was a synonym for just aggressive business and huge industries, globalization, et cetera. And now, because of the climate emergency, we understand that something needs to be done. But I think that globally, the system is still scared of making a radical change because of profits reasons. Profit can be made while making a sustainable business. So I wouldn't even consider a nonprofit because we need to change the narrative. I think doing good is not going to mean doing things like being idealistic or following just a dream. We need to make it a reality. VICTORIA: Right. And when you're in a for-profit business with a meaningful impact, you can focus on making the business work versus trying to find donors or trying to always prove how much you're giving back to the community. It'll make good business sense, and I really like that's the path that you're taking. SHAILA: Exactly. VICTORIA: Wonderful. What has your process been for validating this idea? Do you interview lots of different people? How do you know that it's the right market fit? SHAILA: In the last years, I have seen the whole narrative change. That is what I was talking about in the way business needs to be made. When I was working in banking, I have seen those new standards, ESG standards coming, appearing. I also know that this is going to be a norm very soon. That means that the way we do business is really going to change like in reality in corporate practices. So, first of all, this is the right path because literally corporate practices are going to change and are going to align more and more with ESG criterias. Very soon, it will not be possible at all to continue to operate business without sustainable practices, obviously the way the large groups are going to change and are changing already. And small businesses are going to be built with ESG standards in mind too. Another part of the change is coming from the solutions. Are they sustainable? Are they energy efficient? Are they contributing to decarbonization, or are they polluting more? Is it possible to fund them because of that? So I think there is a whole transformation of the economy, and we need to be ready to follow up with the change. And we all need to be ready to fund this economy, not only governments but also private and small private institutions, individuals. Also, the green tech ecosystem, in general, is just exploding. This is a fact. For example, in France in 2020, we had a number of 800 green tech startups in France. In 2021, those startups increased, and the number of startups increased. And we could count 1,800 startups just one year after. This ecosystem also is growing massively, and the market is there. VICTORIA: That's really exciting. And what is the startup community in Paris like? SHAILA: Well, the startup community is very active in Paris. France is a huge generator of startups. As you may know, Station F is the biggest incubator in the world. It is a very dynamic ecosystem. Innovations are appearing every day. And France supports the startups a lot. Yes, it's very dynamic. A lot of things are being made, and it's an ecosystem where we know each other. We meet each other, and we know what needs to be done. We talk with each other, especially at Station F, where I am not located, but still, a lot of meetups are there, a lot of events are going on there. So this is a place for startup founders to meet and talk. So we know that a lot of things are going to happen. VICTORIA: That's very exciting. SHAILA: Yes, it is really, very encouraging. Mid-Roll Ad: When starting a new project, we understand that you want to make the right choices in technology, features, and investment but that you don't have all year to do extended research. In just a few weeks, thoughtbot's Discovery Sprints deliver a user-centered product journey, a clickable prototype or Proof of Concept, and key market insights from focused user research. We'll help you to identify the primary user flow, decide which framework should be used to bring it to life, and set a firm estimate on future development efforts. Maximize impact and minimize risk with a validated roadmap for your new product. Get started at: tbot.io/sprint VICTORIA: Have you found a lot of people get your idea right away? Do you feel people are excited about your product when you talk to them about it? SHAILA: Yes, that was very, very surprising to me. Everybody I talked to was getting the idea very quickly. I haven't met any reservation from people around me or from partners, from people I was approaching business-wise. Well, I think the climate emergency is such that people get the idea immediately. Also, fundings, for now, are not enough for the green tech ecosystem. So the idea of a crowdinvesting platform that targets only green tech is really welcome from the ecosystem, the fintech ecosystem, but also from potential investors too. VICTORIA: That's great. It must make you feel validated that you know you're on the right path. [laughs] SHAILA: Yes, this is very helpful to me, yes. VICTORIA: Wonderful. And what's next on your roadmap? What's the biggest challenge you see ahead of you? SHAILA: So, yes, the next step for us, once we receive all the green lights to operate on the French and European market, will be to build our investors community. For now, we are waiting for this green light from the financial authorities to start publishing and communicating at a large scale to the public about what we are going to do. So our next challenge is really to reach out to people to convince them to join us and also to make sustainable investment understandable and accessible to first-time investors. VICTORIA: Do you feel like you have the tools to do that? What do you think is going to be difficult about that process? SHAILA: On that part, I think the most difficult part will be a traditional aspect of the business, which is competition. The thing is we need, in this particular area, we need currently to face two problems. The first one is the greenwashing problem that a lot of companies use, and we are not aligned with those greenwashing practices, and this could be confusing for people. Because the truth is as much as the climate change emergency is real, there is also a trend of offering all types of green services and products, so this could be confusing for consumers, for people. The first challenge will be to differentiate and really to make people understand that sustainability is in our core values, but it's also our why that this is the reason why we're doing this. This is not a greenwashing opportunity for us. Also, yes, in this competition matter, the other thing is that we are not going to focus only on renewable energy. So there is some type of education we need to provide about our products, about the meaning of the solutions, and the impacts of the solutions we're going to finance, even when they are not renewable energy related. VICTORIA: Those sound like exciting challenges to work on. [laughs] SHAILA: Yes, really. VICTORIA: Once all the paperwork is finished. SHAILA: Exactly. So this will be basically marketing, marketing, and communication issues. VICTORIA: Wonderful. Why crowdfunding versus regular government funding for these types of projects? SHAILA: It is important to enhance alternative financing solutions because the reality is that most businesses in their early stage will not be financially strong enough to ask for financing solutions such as bank loans, for example. That means that they don't have enough capital at first to engage in more debts. What they need is to reinforce their capital in an early stage. When the founders, for example, do not have basically the money themselves to fund their own company, calling the crowd to help is a very good solution to reinforce their capital. So they have more power after that to go for other types of financing solutions such as fundraising huge amounts from investors, from institutions, or to ask for, for example, bank loans. They are strong enough then to go for more and to develop their solutions and scale up. VICTORIA: That makes a lot of sense. And I'm wondering if, in your process, since April, have there been any pivots you had to make where you were going in one direction, and then you learned something and decided you needed to go a completely different direction? SHAILA: Yes, to be honest, my first idea was to target startups from the European overseas territories only. So that was my first idea. When I did my market study, I discovered that the market was too small. It was a very interesting market because those startups are far from the countries they are related to. French Caribbean islands are geographically far from the French territory, French country in Europe. They have some localization barrier, for example, to reach the national market. And that is the case for any other overseas European territory. So my first idea was to give them access and give them visibility in the national territory because crowdfunding is an online solution, but, well, the market was too small, for example. So this was not a good path to go. And I had to reevaluate and do another market study because also my main goal was to answer an environmental need. VICTORIA: That makes a lot of sense. And it is interesting how your idea of the market evolves once you really start building something and start getting information about it. SHAILA: I can give you another example of a switch of the idea, of the initial idea I had. We wanted to start operating immediately in all Europe. We learned that because of the European regulations of the markets, we need to go step by step and country by country. This made us focus first on the French market. And we know now that we will be able to reach the other European ecosystems one by one. That helped us refine our marketing strategy. VICTORIA: Interesting. So when you started building your product or building the idea, and you went country by country, was there a concern about getting too specific to that country? Or was it easy to build out to a new country once you were ready to move on? SHAILA: It's quite easy in the conceptual stage because the European Union has really standardized a lot of economic or financial regulations. So we have a system of like an economic or business passport which makes it quite easy. But the main problem is really being able to adapt to different languages, Spanish, or German, or English, or Italian, to adapt to those markets with their specificities, which are linked not only to their language but those still are marketing aspects. But other than that, thanks to the European Union system, it is quite easy to really build a whole European strategy. VICTORIA: Right. I feel like that should be a part of an ad or marketing [laughter] just for the European Union. SHAILA: It could be. It could be, right. VICTORIA: Well, that makes a lot of sense. And we understand as well, being an international company, that being able to adapt to different languages does present its own challenges. SHAILA: Exactly. VICTORIA: Well, wonderful. What advice would you give to yourself at the beginning of this project if you could go back in time? SHAILA: You know, it's funny because I have been familiar to business for a long time. I come from a businessmen family. And also, I've been working as a financial management consultant for small companies and startups for some years before. But still, I didn't maybe gather enough money at first to start this very capital-consuming business. So I would advise myself to gather twice the money I had before. [chuckles] Even if we found solutions and we are totally equipped, but well, I was maybe...I didn't prepare enough capital at first. And also another advice would have been from the start to not forget to sleep [laughs] because this is really crucial to maintain good health when you start a new project, and especially a very energy-consuming one. The health of your project and of your company also depends on your own health. VICTORIA: Wonderful advice. [laughs] Everyone who's working on something they're passionate about should remember that. You're 100% right. It's dependent on your own health first, right? SHAILA: Exactly. It could be the passion drives you so much that...and you know the amount of work you effectively have to do, so you can really get caught in the amount of work. But sleep is a very good strategy to keep going. VICTORIA: I love sleep. I'm a big fan. My sleep schedule is a little messed up because I was in the Azores last week. SHAILA: So the jetlag was big. VICTORIA: Yeah, but it helps me because we're kind of an early riser family anyways. Yeah, I can have time to have my coffee before I start work. [laughs] SHAILA: Right. I see, yeah. VICTORIA: Is there any other final takeaways you want to give to our audience? SHAILA: I would ask the people who listen to really join us as soon as we are ready to launch and to talk about We Take Part to their friends and family. Also, to reach out because we could help understand more what we can do, how we can help, and how investing and supporting sustainable business how important it is. And when it's correctly made, and it is profitable, it is profitable for everyone, for the whole society, not only for an economic system. VICTORIA: Wonderful. And we'll have the opportunity to include any links or marketing in our show notes. You can subscribe to the show and find notes along with a complete transcript for this episode at giantrobots.fm. If you have questions or comments, email us at hosts@giantrobots.fm. You can find me on Twitter @victori_ousg. This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot and produced and edited by Mandy Moore. Thanks for listening. See you next time. ANNOUNCER: This podcast was brought to you by thought. thoughtbot is your expert design and development partner. Let's make your product and team a success.

Salad With a Side of Fries
Oral Care and Total Health

Salad With a Side of Fries

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 11, 2023 56:15


The Salad With a Side of Fries podcast is hosted by Jenn Trepeck, discussing wellness and weight loss for real life, clearing up the myths, misinformation, bad science & marketing surrounding our nutrition knowledge and the food industry. Let's dive into wellness and weight loss for real life, including drinking, eating out, and skipping the grocery store. Today's guest is an author and the owner of Living Libations, Nadine Artemis. Nadine shares her knowledge and information about oral care and total health in this episode. She gives an excellent description of how oral health impacts the rest of our bodies. Nadine chats about the ingredients in numerous kinds of toothpaste and the products that many dentists use that actually harm our overall health. She educates us about the dentinal lymphatic system and the impact that stress and lack of nutrients have on the system. Tune in today for this educational discussion and how to increase your oral health, which will leave your overall health flourishing.IN THIS EPISODE:●   [5:10] Nadine tells us how she started her business and how she got started in entrepreneurship so young.●   [14:20] What will a dentist see in the mouth that indicates potential cause for concern? ●   [16:28] How do we know the connection between oral health and overall health?●   [18:50] What is the dentinal lymphatic system? ●   [24:49] What's the deal with fluoride?●   [26:30] Is mouthwash good for our oral health? ●   [30:15] Is supporting the oral microbiome similar or the same as supporting our gut microbiome? ●   [31:33] What are dentists doing in scaling and root planing? ●   [32:14] How do we keep happy, healthy gums?●   [39:00] How can you find a holistic dentist, or what conversation should you have with your current dentist?KEY TAKEAWAYS:●   If you switch to baking soda for the rest of your life, you'll be far better off than using any commercial product. ●   Digestion begins with chewing your food; nutrition goes into the roots of your teeth and into your bloodstream. If you are highly stressed or have negative nutrient health, it can reverse the lymphatic system in your mouth, and that's where issues with oral health happen. ●   Many of the ingredients in toothpaste and the items that dentists use are causing harm to our oral and total health. A wide variety of natural products can be used to create optimal oral health. There are also alternatives to having cavities filled and gum surgery, so make sure to ask questions to your dentist to uncover the most natural options available.  QUOTES: “So if that stress continues or that poor nutrition continues, then this dental fluid system doesn't just stagnate; it reverses. So then we've got the tooth acting like a straw sucking in from the mouth rather than being a fluid that goes out to the mouth. That's the genesis of how a cavity is formed.” - Nadine Artemis “You want to think of your body and your mouth; it's actually like a mouthful of bustling bacteria that's going to keep the dentist away. We want to think of our bodies like these microbial back accounts that we want to have a lot of diverse investments of bacteria in.” - Nadine ArtemisRESOURCES:Become A Member of Salad with a Side of FriesJenn's Free Menu PlanA Salad With a Side of FriesA Salad With a Side of Fries InstagramGUEST RESOURCES: Living Libations WebsiteLiving Libations TwitterNadine Artemis' InstagramLiving Libations InstagramLiving Libations YouTubeLiving Libations FacebookNadine Artemis' FacebookGUEST BIO:Nadine Artemis is the author of two books, including Renegade Beauty and Holistic Dental Care. She is the creator of Living Libations, a luxury line of organic wild-crafted non-GMO serums, elixirs, and essential oils for those seeking the purest of the pure botanical natural health and beauty products on the planet. Nadine is an innovative aromacologist that formulates immune-enhancing blends. Her healing creations, along with her concept of "renegade beauty," encourage effortlessness, eschew regimes, and inspire people to rethink conventional notions of beauty and wellness. Her potent dental serums are used worldwide and provide the purest oral care available. She has received glowing reviews for her work in the Hollywood Reporter, GOOP, Vogue, People, Elle, Yoga Journal, Natural Health, W Magazine, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and National Post. Celebrity fans include Shailene Woodley, Renee Zellweger, Julianne Moore, Carrie Anne Moss, Mandy Moore, and many others. Alanis Morissette describes  Nadine as “a true sense-visionary." Aveda founder, Horst Rechelbacher, calls Nadine “a pure flower of creativity.”

I Have A Podcast
5 Tips for Achieving a Work-Life Balance from Mandy Moore

I Have A Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 10, 2023 12:20


We are thrilled to have Mandy Moore on I Have A Podcast®. In this special cut-down episode we focus on how she leveraged her uniqueness at the beginning of her career. We dive into the power of creative collaboration and synchronicity, as well as her approach to character development and the process of creating characters like Rapunzel and Rebecca.  Recorded during her final production period for This Is Us, Mandy reveals interest in a potential new position on set as she shares the power of working in a collaborative environment. Inspired by this episode? Reach out and let us know!  CONVERSATION HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE: Tapping Into Your Uniqueness at the Beginning of Your Career. Character Development Creating Rapunzel & Rebecca Creative Collaboration & the Process The Power of Creative Synchronicity  Director Goals & New Job Opportunities Mandy Moore Shares Her Experience Working with Vinnie Connect with MANDY MOORE:instagram.com/mandymooremm Connect with VINNIE POTESTIVO: linkedin.com/in/vinniepotestivo I HAVE A PODCAST: ihaveapodcast.com - Launch a podcast: vpe.tv/podbean - Amplify a podcast: vpe.tv/quuu - Get paid for your podcasts: vpe.tv/podmatch  LEAVE US A REVIEW: vpe.tv/ratethispodcast

Studio Secrets A to Z
Studio Secrets A to Z - Tyler Chester

Studio Secrets A to Z

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 6, 2023 32:29


Tyler Graham Chester is a multiple Grammy nominated producer, session musician, multi-instrumentalist, and composer, who spends most of his time nowadays in the studio producing and playing on records.Tyler's production credits include Madison Cunningham, Sara Bareilles, Sara Watkins, Watkins Family Hour, Apple TVs “little Voice”, Margaret Glaspy, Carsie Blanton, Sandra McCracken, Tyson Motsenbocker, Laura Jean Anderson, Sam Weber, James Henry Jr, Lovelite, Jon Foreman, Switchfoot, Andrew Belle, to name a few. He's also toured with Jackson Browne, Blake Mills, Sara Watkins, Andrew Bird, George Ezra, Margaret Glaspy, and many others, and has appeared on television with Rufus Wainwright, Foy Vance, and Mandy Moore.Tyler has played on records with many artists including Joan Baez, Jackson Browne, Andrew Bird, Amy Helm, Sara Watkins, Margaret Glaspy, Julian Lage, Hayes Carll, and Christina Aguilera.His compositions have been licensed far and wide for documentaries, television ads, and podcasts, including the music for the award-winning Liturgists Podcast, which boasts millions of monthly listeners.

Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots
456: Jeli.io with Laura Maguire

Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 5, 2023 46:37


Laura Maguire is a Researcher at Jeli.io, the first dedicated instant analysis platform that combines more comprehensive data to deliver more proactive solutions and identify problems. Victoria talks to Laura about incident management, giving companies a powerful tool to learn from their incidents, and what types of customers are ideal for taking on a platform like Jeli.io. Jeli.io (https://www.jeli.io/) Follow Jeli.io on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/jeli_io/), Twitter (https://twitter.com/jeli_io) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/jeli-inc/). Follow Laura Maguire on Twitter (https://twitter.com/LauraMDMaguire) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauramaguire/). Follow thoughtbot on Twitter (https://twitter.com/thoughtbot) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/150727/). Become a Sponsor (https://thoughtbot.com/sponsorship) of Giant Robots! Transcript: VICTORIA: This is the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots Podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Victoria Guido. And with me today is Laura Maguire, Researcher at Jeli, the first dedicated instant analysis platform that combines more comprehensive data to deliver more proactive solutions and identify problems. Laura, thank you for joining me. LAURA: Thanks for having me, Victoria. VICTORIA: This might be a very introductory level question but just right off the bat, what is an incident? LAURA: What we find is a lot of companies define this very differently across the space, but typically, it's where they are seeing an impact, either a customer impact or a degradation of their service. This can be either formally, it kind of impacts their SLOs or their SLAs, or informally it's something that someone on the team notices or someone, you know, one of their users notice as being degraded performance or something not working as intended. VICTORIA: Gotcha. From my background being in IT operations, I'm familiar with incidents, and it's been a practice in IT for a long time. But what brought you to be a part of building this platform and creating a product around incidents? LAURA: I am a, let's say, recovering safety professional. VICTORIA: [chuckles] LAURA: I started my career in the safety and risk management realm within natural resource industries in the physical world. And so I worked with people who were at the sharp end in high-risk, high-consequence type work. And they were really navigating risk and navigating safety in the real world. And as I was working in this domain, I noticed that there was a delta between what was being said, created safety, and helped risk management and what I was actually seeing with the people that I was working with on the front lines. And so I started to pull the thread on this, and I thought, is work as done really the same as work as written or work as prescribed? And what I found was a whole field of research, a whole field of practice around thinking about safety and risk management in the world of cognitive work. And so this is how people think about risk, how they manage risk, and how do they interpret change and events in the world around them. And so as I started to do my master's degree in human factors and system safety and then later my Ph.D. in cognitive systems engineering, I realized that whether you are on the frontlines of a wildland fire or you're on the frontlines of responding to an incident in the software realm, the ways in which people detect, diagnose, and repair the issues that they're facing are quite similar in terms of the cognitive work. And so when I was starting my Ph.D. work, I was working with Dr. David Woods at the Cognitive Systems Engineering Lab at The Ohio State University. And I came into it, and I was thinking I'm going to work with astronauts, or with fighter pilots, or emergency room doctors, these really exciting domains. And he was like, "We're going to have you work with software engineers." And at first, I really failed to see the connection there, but as I started to learn more about site reliability engineering, about DevOps, about the continuous deployment, continuous integration world, I realized software engineers are really at the forefront of managing critical digital infrastructure. They're keeping up the systems that run society, both for recreation and pleasure in the sense of Netflix, for example, as well as the critical functions within society like our 911 call routing systems, our financial markets. And so the ability to study how software engineers detect outages, manage outages, and work together collaboratively across the team was really giving us a way to study this kind of work that could actually feed back into other types of domains like emergency response, like emergency rooms, and even back to the fighter pilots and astronauts. VICTORIA: Wow, that's so interesting. And so is your research that went into your Ph.D. did that help you help define the product strategy and kind of market fit for what you've been building at Jeli? LAURA: Yeah, absolutely. So Nora Jones, who is the founder and CEO of Jeli, reached out to me at a conference and told me a little bit about what she was thinking about, about how she wanted to support software engineers using a lot of this literature and a lot of the learnings from these other domains to build this product to help support incident management in software engineering. So we base a lot of our thinking around how to help support this cognitive work and how to help resilient performance in these very dynamic, these very changing large scale, you know, distributed software systems on this research, as well as the research that we do with our own users and with our own members from learning from incidents in software engineering Slack community that Nora and several other fairly prominent names within the software community started, Lorin Hochstein, John Allspaw Dr. Richard Cook, Jessica DeVita, Ryan Kitchens, and I may be missing someone else but...and myself, oh, Will Galego as well. Yeah, we based a lot of our understandings, really deep qualitative understandings of what is work like for software engineers when they're, you know, in continuous deployment type environments. And we've translated this into building a product that we think helps but not hinders by getting in the way of engineers while they're under time pressure and there's a lot of uncertainty. And there's often quite a bit of stress involved with responding to incidents. VICTORIA: Right. And you mentioned resilience engineering. And for those who don't know, David Woods, who you worked on with your Ph.D., wrote "Resilience Engineering: Concepts and Precepts." So maybe you could talk a little bit about resilience engineering and what that really means, not just in technology but in the people who were running the tools, right? LAURA: Yeah. So resilience engineering is different from how we think about protecting and defending our software systems. And it's different in the sense that we aren't just thinking about how do we prevent incidents from happening again, like, how do we fix things that have happened to us in the past? But how do we better understand the ways in which our systems operate under a wide variety of conditions? So that includes normal operating conditions as well as abnormal or anomalous operating conditions, such as an incident response. And so resilience engineering was kind of this way of thinking differently about predicting failure, about managing failure, and navigating these kinds of worlds. And one of the fundamental differences about it is it sees people as being the most adaptive component within the system of work. So we can have really good processes and practices around deploying code; we can institute things like cross-checking and peer review of code; we can have really good robust backup and failover systems, but ultimately, it's very likely that in these kinds of complex and adaptive always-changing systems that you're going to encounter problems that you weren't able to anticipate. And so this is where the resilience part comes in because if you're faced with a novel problem, if you're faced with an issue you've never seen before, or a hidden dependency within your system, or an unanticipated failure mode, you have to adapt. You have to be able to take all of the information that's available to you in the moment. You have to interpret that in real-time. You have to think of who else might have skills, knowledge, expertise, access to information, or access to certain kinds of systems or software components. And you have to bring all of those people together in real-time to be able to manage the problem at hand. And so this is really quite a different way of thinking about supporting this work than just let's keep the runbooks updated, and let's make sure that we can write prescriptive processes for everything that we're going to encounter. Because this really is the difference that I saw when I was talking about earlier about that work is done versus work is prescribed. The rules don't cover all of the situations. And so you have to think of how do you help people adapt? How do you help people access information in real-time to be able to handle unforeseen failures? VICTORIA: Right. That makes a lot of sense. It's an interesting evolution of site reliability engineering where you're thinking about the users' experience of your site. It's also thinking about the people who are running your site and what their experience is, and what freedom they have to be able to solve the problems that you wouldn't be able to predict, right? LAURA: Yeah, it's a really good point, actually, because there is sort of this double layer in the product that we are building. So, as you mentioned earlier, we are an incident analysis platform, and so what does that mean? Well, it means that we pull in data whenever there's been an incident, and we help you to look at it a little bit more deeply than you may if you're just following a template and sort of reconstructing a timeline. And so we pull in the actual Slack data that, you know, say, an ops channel or an incident channel that's been spun up following a report of a degraded performance or of an outage. And we look very closely at how did people talk to one another? Who did they bring into the incident? What kinds of things did they think were relevant and important at different points in time? And in doing this, it helps us to understand what information was available to people at different points in time. Because after the incident and after it's been resolved, people often look back and say, "Oh, there's nothing we can learn from that. We figured out what it was." But if we go back and we start looking at how people detected it, how they diagnosed it, who they brought into the event, we can start to unpack these patterns and these ways of understanding how do people work together? What information is useful at different points in time? Which helps us get a deeper understanding of how our systems actually work and how they actually fail. VICTORIA: Right. And I see there are a few different ways the platform does that: there's a narrative builder, a people view, and also a visual timeline. So, do you find that combining all those things together really gives companies a powerful tool to learn from their incidents? LAURA: Yeah. So let me talk a little bit about each of those different components. Our MVP of the product we started out with this understanding of the incident analyst and the incident investigator who, you know, was ready to dive in and ready to understand their incident and apply some qualitative analysis techniques to thinking about their incidents. And what we found was there are a number of these people who are really interested in this deep dive within the software industry. But there's a broader subset of folks that they work with who maybe only do these kinds of incident analysis every once in a while, and they're not as interested in going quite as deep. And so the narrative builder is really this kind of bridge between those two types of users. And what it does is helps construct a timeline which is typically what most companies do to help drive the discussion that they might have in a post-mortem or to drive their kind of findings in their summary report. And it helps them take this closer look at the interactions that happened in that slack transcript and raise questions about what kinds of uncertainties there were, point out who was involved, or interesting aspects of the event at that point in time. And it helps them to summarize what was happening. What did people think was happening at this point in time to create this story about the incident? And the story element is really important because we all learn from stories. It helps bring to life some of the details about what was hard, who was involved, how did they get brought in, what the sources of technical failure were, and whether those were easy or difficult to understand and to repair once the source of the failure was actually understood. And so that narrative builder helps reconstruct this timeline in a much richer way but also do it very efficiently. And as you mentioned, the visual timeline is something that we've created to help that lightweight user or that every once in a while user to go a little bit deeper on their analysis. And how we do that is because it lays out the progression of the event in a way that helps you see, oh, this maybe wasn't straightforward. We didn't detect it in the beginning, and then diagnose it, and then repair it at the end. What happened actually was the detection was intermittent. The signals about what was going wrong was intermittent, and so that was going on in parallel with the diagnosis. The diagnosis took a really long time, and that may have been because we can also see the repair was happening concurrently. And so it starts to show these kinds of characteristics about whether the incident was difficult, whether it was challenging and hard, or whether it was simple and straightforward. This helps lend a bit more depth to metrics like MTTR and TTD by saying, oh, there was a lot more going on in this incident than we initially thought. The last thing that you mentioned was the people view, and so that really sets our product apart from other products in that we look at the sociotechnical system. So it's not just about the software that broke; it is about who was involved in managing that system, in repairing that system, and in communicating about that system outwardly. And so the people view this kind of pulls in some HR data. It helps us to understand who was involved. How long have they been in their role? Were they on-call? Were they not on-call? And other kinds of irrelevant details that show us what was their engagement or their interaction with this event. And so when we start to bring in the socio part of the sociotechnical system, we can identify things like what knowledge do we have within the organization? Is that knowledge well-distributed, or is it just isolated in one or two people? And so those people are constantly getting pulled into incidents when they may be not on-call, which can start to show us whether or not these folks are in danger of burning out or whether their knowledge might need to be transferred more broadly throughout the organization. So this is kind of where the resilience piece comes in because it helps us to distribute knowledge. It helps us to identify who is relevant and useful and how do they partner and collaborate with other people, and their knowledge and skill sets to be able to manage some of the outages that they face? VICTORIA: That's wonderful because one of my follow-up questions would be, as a CEO, as a founder, what kind of insights or choices do you get to make now that you have this insight to help make your team more resilient? [laughs] LAURA: So if this is a manager, or a founder, or a CEO that is looking at their data in Jeli, they can start to understand how to resource their teams more appropriately, as I mentioned, how to spread that knowledge around. They can start to see what parts of their system are creating the most problems or what parts of their system do they have maybe less insight into how it works, how it interacts with other parts of the system, and what this actually means for their ability to meet their SLOs or their SLAs. So it gives you a more in-depth understanding of how your business is actually operating on both the technical side of things, as well as on the people side of things. VICTORIA: That makes a lot of sense. Thank you for that overview of the platform. There's the incident analysis platform, and you also have the bot, the response chatbot. Can you tell me a little bit more about that? LAURA: Yeah, absolutely. We think that incident management should be conducted wherever your work actually takes place, and so for most of our customers and a lot of folks that we know about in the industry, that's Slack. And so, if you are communicating in real-time with your team in Slack, we think that you should stay there. And so, we built this incident management bot that is free and will be free for the lifetime of the product. Because we think that this is really the fundamental basis for helping you manage your incidents more efficiently and more effectively. So it's a pretty lightweight bot. It gives kind of some guardrails or some guidance around collaboration by spinning up a new incident channel, helping you to bring the right kinds of responders into that, helping you to communicate to interested stakeholders by broadcasting to channels they might be in. It kind of nudges you to think about how to communicate about what's happening during different stages of the event progression. And so it's prompting you in a very lightweight way; hey, do you have a status update? Do you have a summary of what the current thinking is? What are the hypotheses about what's going on? Who's conducting what kinds of activities right now? So that if I'm a responder that's coming into the event after 20-30 minutes after it started, I can very quickly come up to speed, understand what's going on, who's doing what, and figure out what's useful for me to do to help step in and not disrupt the incident management that's underway right now. Our users can choose to use the bot independently of the incident analysis platform. But of course, being able to ingest that incident into Jeli it helps you understand who's been involved in the incident, if they've been involved in similar incidents in the past, and helps them start to see some patterns and some themes that emerge over time when you start to look at incidents across the organization. VICTORIA: That makes sense. And I love that it's free and that there's something for every type of organization to take advantage of there. And I wonder if at Jeli you have data about what type of customer is it who'd be targeted or really ideal to take on this kind of platform. LAURA: So most organizations...I was actually recently at SREcon EMEA, and there was a really interesting series of talks; one was SRE for Enterprise, and the next talk was SRE for Startups. And so it was a very thought-provoking discussion around is SRE for everyone, so site reliability engineering? Even smaller teams are starting to have to be responsible for reliability and responsible for running their service. And so we kind of have built our platform thinking about how do we help not just big enterprises or organizations that may have dedicated teams for this but also small startups to learn from their incidents. So internally, we actually call incidents opportunities as in they are learning opportunities for checking out how does your system actually work? How do your people work together? What things were difficult and challenging about the incident? And how do you talk about those things as a team to help create more resilient performance in future? So in terms of an ideal customer, it's really folks that are interested in conducting these sort of lightweight but in-depth looks at how their system actually works on both the people side of things and the technical side of things. Those who we found are most successful with our product are interested in not so much figuring out who did the thing and who can they blame for the incident itself but rather how do they learn from what happened? And would another engineer, or another product owner, another customer service representative, whoever the incident may be sort of focused around, would another person in their shoes have taken the same actions that they took or made the same decisions that they made? Which helps us understand from a systems level how do we repair or how do we adjust the system of work surrounding folks so that they are better supported when they're faced with uncertainty, or with that kind of time pressure, or that ambiguity about what's actually going on? VICTORIA: And I love that you said that because part of the reason [laughs] I invited you on to the podcast is that a lot of companies I have experience with don't think about incidents until it happens to them, and then it can be a scramble. It can impact their customer base. It can stress their team out. But if you go about creating...the term obviously you all use is psychological safety on your team, and maybe you use some of the free tools from Jeli like the Post-Incident Guide and the Incident Analysis 101 blog to set your team up for success from the beginning, then you can increase your customer loyalty and your team loyalty as well to the company. Is that your experience? LAURA: Yeah, absolutely. So one thing that I have learned throughout my career, you know, starting way back in forestry and looking at safety and risk in that domain, was as soon as there is an accident or even a serious near miss, right away, everybody gets sweaty palms. Everybody is concerned about, uh-oh, am I going to get blamed for this? Am I going to get fired? Am I going to get publicly shamed for the decisions that I made when I was in this situation? And what that response, that reaction does is it drives a lot of the communication and a lot of the understanding of the conditions that that person was in. It drives that underground. And it's important to allow people to talk about here's what I was seeing, here's what I was experiencing because, in these kinds of complex systems, information is not readily available to people. The signals are not always coming through loud and clear about what's going on or about what the appropriate actions to take are. Instead, it's messy; it's loud, it's noisy. There are usually multiple different demands on that person's attention and on their time, and they're often managing trade-offs: do I keep the system down so that I can gather more information about what's actually going on, or do I just try and bring it up as quickly as I can so that there's less impact to users? Those kinds of decisions are having to be made under pressure. So when we create these conditions of psychological safety, when we say you know what? This happened. We want to learn from it. We've already made this investment. Richard Cook mentioned in the very first SNAFU Catchers Report, which was a report that came out of Ohio State, that incidents are unplanned investments into understanding how your system works. And so you've already had the incident. You've already paid the price of that downtime or of that outage. So you might as well extract some learning from it so that you can help create a safer and more resilient system in the future. So by helping people to reconstruct what was actually happening in real-time, not what they were retrospectively saying, "Oh, I should have done this," well, you didn't do that. So let's understand why you thought at that moment in time that was the right way to respond because, more than likely, other people in that same position would have made that same choice. And so it helps us to think more broadly about ways that we can support decision-making and sense-making under conditions of stress and uncertainty. And ultimately, that helps your system be more resilient and be more reliable for your customers. VICTORIA: What a great reframing: unplanned investment. [laughs] And if you don't learn from it, then you're going to lose out on what you've already invested that time in resolving it, right? LAURA: Absolutely. MID-ROLL AD: Are you an entrepreneur or start-up founder looking to gain confidence in the way forward for your idea? At thoughtbot, we know you're tight on time and investment, which is why we've created targeted 1-hour remote workshops to help you develop a concrete plan for your product's next steps. Over four interactive sessions, we work with you on research, product design sprint, critical path, and presentation prep so that you and your team are better equipped with the skills and knowledge for success. Find out how we can help you move the needle at: tbot.io/entrepreneurs. VICTORIA: Getting more into that psychological safety and how to create that culture where people feel safe telling about what really happened, but how does that relate to...Jeli says that they are a people software. [laughs] Talk to me more about that. Like, what advice do you give founders and CEOs on how to create that psychological safety which makes them be more resilient in these types of incidents? LAURA: So you mentioned the Howie Guide that we published last year, and this is our guidance around how to do incident analysis, how to help your team start to learn from their incidents, and Howie stands for how we got here. And that's really important, that language because what it says is there's a history that led up to this incident. And most teams, when they've had an outage, they'll kind of look backwards from that outage, maybe an hour, maybe a day, maybe to the last deploy. But they don't think about how the decisions got made to use that piece of software in the first place. They don't think about how did engineers actually get on-boarded to being on-call. They don't necessarily think about what kinds of skills, and knowledge, and expertise when we're hiring a DevOps engineer, and I'm using air quotes here or an SRE. What kinds of skills and knowledge do they actually have? Those are very broad terms. And what it means to be a DevOps engineer or an SRE is quite underspecified. And so the knowledge behind the folks that you might hire into the company is going to necessarily be very diverse. It's going to be partial and incomplete in many ways because not everyone can know everything about the system. And so, we need to have multiple diverse perspectives about how the system works, how our customers use that system, what kinds of pressures and constraints exist within our company that allow us some possibilities over others. We need to bring all of those perspectives together to get a more reflective picture of what was actually happening before this incident took place and how we actually got here. This reframing helps a lot of people disarm that initial defensiveness response or that initial, oh, shoot; I'm going to get in trouble for this kind of response. And it says to them, "Hey, you're a part of this bigger system of work. You are only one piece of this puzzle. And what we want to try and do is understand what was happening within the company, not just what you did, what you said, and what you decided." So once people realize that you're not just trying to find fault or place blame, but you're really trying to understand their work, and you're trying to understand their work with other teams and other vendors, and trying to understand their work relative to the competing demands that were going on, so those are some of the things that help create psychological safety. About ten years ago, John Allspaw and the team at Etsy put out The Etsy Debriefing Facilitation Guide, which also poses a number of questions and helps to frame the post-incident learnings in a way that moves it from the individual and looks more collectively at the company as a whole. And so these things are helpful for founders or for CEOs to help bring forward more information about what's really going on, more information about what are the real risks and threats and opportunities within the company, and gives you an opportunity to step back and do what we call microlearning, which is sharing knowledge about how the system works, sharing understandings of what people think is going on, and what people know about the system. We don't typically talk about those things unless there's a reason to, and incidents kind of give us that reason because they're uncomfortable and they can be painful. They can be very public. They can be very disruptive to what we think about how resilient and reliable we actually are. And so if you can kind of step away from this defensiveness and step away from this need to place blame and instead try and understand the conditions, you will get a lot more learning and a lot more resilience and reliability out of your teams and out of your systems. VICTORIA: That makes sense to me. And I'd like to draw a connection between that and some other things you mentioned with The 2022 Accelerate State of DevOps Report that highlights that the people who are often responding to those incidents or in that high-stress situation tend to be historically underrepresented or historically excluded groups. And so do you see that having this insight into both who is actually taking on a lot of the work when these incidents happen and creating that psychological safety can make a better environment for diversity, equity, inclusion at a company as well? LAURA: Well, I think anytime you work to establish trust and transparency, and you focus on recognizing the skills that people do have, the knowledge that they do have, and not over assuming that someone knows something or that they have been involved in the discussions that may have been relevant to an incident, anytime you focus on that trust and transparency you are really signaling to people within your organization that you value their contributions and that you recognize that they've come to work and trying to do a good job. But they have multiple competing demands on their attention and on their time. And so we're not making assumptions about people being complacent, or people being reckless or being sloppy in their work. So that creates an environment where people feel more willing to speak up and to talk about some of the challenges that they might face, to talk about the ways in which it's not clear to them how certain parts of the system work or how certain teams actually operate. So you're just opening the channels for communication, which helps to share more knowledge. It helps to share more information about what teams are doing at different points in time. And this helps people to preemptively anticipate how a change that they might be making in their part of the system could be influencing up or downstream teams. And so this helps create more resilience because now you're thinking laterally about your system and about your involvement across teams and across boundary lines. And an example of this is if a marketing team...this is a story that Nora tells quite a bit; if a marketing team is, say, launching a Super Bowl commercial for their company but they don't actually tell the engineers on-call that that is about to happen, you can create all sorts of breakdowns when all of a sudden you have this surge of traffic to your website because people see the Super Bowl commercial and they want to go to the site. And then you have a single person who's trying to respond to that in real-time. So, instead, when you do start thinking about that trust and transparency, you're helping teams to help each other and to think more broadly about how their work is actually impacting other parts of the system. So from a diversity and inclusion and underrepresented groups perspective, this is creating the conditions for more people to be involved, more people to feel like their voice is going to be heard, and that their perspective actually matters. VICTORIA: That sounds really powerful, and I'm glad we were able to touch on that. Shifting gears a little bit, I wanted to talk about two different questions; so one is if you could travel back in time to when Jeli first started, what advice would you give yourself, your past self? LAURA: I would encourage myself to recognize that our ability to experiment is fundamental to our ability to learn. And learning is what helps us to iterate faster. Learning is what helps us to reflect on the tool that we're building or the feature that we're building and what this actually means to our users. I actually copped that advice to myself from CEO Zoran Perkov of the Long-Term Stock Exchange. They launched a whole new stock market during the pandemic with a fully remote team. And I had interviewed him for an article that I wrote about resilient leadership. And he said to me, like, "My job as a CEO is 100% about protecting our ability to experiment as a company because if we stop learning, we're not going to be able to iterate. We're not going to be able to adapt to the changes that we see in the market and in our users." So I think I would tell myself to continually experiment. One of the things that I talk to our customers about a lot because many of them are implementing new incident management programs or they're trying to level up their engineering teams around incident analysis, and I would say, "This doesn't have to be a fully-fleshed out program where you know all of the ways in which this is going to unfold." It's really about trying experiments, conduct some training, start small. Do one incident analysis on a really particularly spicy incident that you may have had or a really challenging incident where a lot of people were surprised by what happened. Bring together that group and say, "Hey, we're going to try something a little bit different here. We'll use some questions from the Howie Guide. We'll use the format and the structure from the Etsy Debriefing Guide. And we're just going to try and learn what we can about this event. We're not going to try and place blame. We're not going to try and generate corrective actions. We just want to see what we can learn from this." Then ask people that were involved, "How did this go? What did we learn from it? What should we do differently next time?" And continually iterate on those small, little experiments so that you can grow your product and grow your team's capacity. I think it took us a little bit of time to figure that out within the organization, but once we did, we were just able to collaborate more effectively work more effectively by integrating some of the feedback that we were getting from our users. And then the last piece of advice that I would give myself is to really invest in cross-discipline coordination and collaboration. Engineers, designers, researchers, CEOs they all have a different view of the product. They all have a different understanding of what the goals and priorities are. And those mental models of the product and of what the right thing to do is are constantly changing. And they all have different language that they use to talk about the product and to talk about their processes for integrating this understanding of the changing conditions and the changing user into the product. And so I would say invest in establishing common ground across the different disciplines within your team to be able to talk about what people are seeing, to be able to stop and identify when we're making assumptions about what other people know or what other people's orientation towards the problem or towards the product are. And spend a little bit of time saying, "When I say this is important, I'm saying it's important because of XYZ, not just this is important." So spending a little bit of time elaborating on what your mental model is and where you're drawing from can help the teams work more effectively together across those disciplines. VICTORIA: That's pretty powerful advice. You're iterating and experimenting at Jeli. What's on the horizon that you are...what new experiments are you excited about? LAURA: One of the things that has been front and center for us since we started is this idea of cross-incident analysis. And so we've kind of built out a number of different features within the product, being able to help tag the incident with the relevant services and technologies that were involved, being able to identify which teams were involved, and also being able to identify different kinds of themes or patterns that emerge from individual incidents. So all of this data that we can get from mostly just from the ingested incident itself or from the incident that you bring into Jeli but also from the analysis that you do on it this helps us start to be able to see across incidents what's happening not just with the technical side of things. So is it always Travis that is causing a problem? Are there components that work together that kind of have these really hidden and strange interdependencies that are really hard for the team to actually cope with? What kinds of themes are emerging across your suite of opportunities, your suite of incidents that you've ingested? Some of the things that we're starting to see from those experiments is an ability to look at where are your knowledge islands within your organization? Do you have an engineer who, if they were to leave, would take the majority of your systems knowledge about your database, or about your users, or about some critical aspect of your system that would disappear with all of that tacit knowledge? Or are there engineers that work really effectively together during really difficult incidents? And so you can start to unpack what are these characteristics of these people, and of these teams, and of these technologies that offer both opportunities or threats to your organization? So basically, what we're doing is we're helping you to see how your system performs under different kinds of conditions, which I think as a safety and risk professional working in a variety of different domains for the last 15 years, I think this is really where the rubber hits the road in helping teams be more reliable, and be more resilient, and more proactive about where investments in maintenance, or training, or headcount are going to have the biggest bang for your buck. VICTORIA: That makes a lot of sense. In my experience, sometimes those decisions are made more on intuition or on limited data so having a more full picture to rely on probably produces better results. [laughs] LAURA: Yeah, and I think that we all want to be data-driven, thinking about not only the quantitative data is how many incidents do we have around certain parts of the system, or certain teams, or certain services? But also, the qualitative side of things is what does this actually mean? And what does this mean to our ability to grow and change over time and to scale? The partnership of that quantitative data and qualitative data means we're being data-driven on a whole other level. VICTORIA: Wonderful. And it seems like we're getting close to the end of our time here. Is there anything else you want to give as a final takeaway to our listeners? LAURA: Yeah. So I think that we are, you know, as a domain, as a field, software engineering is increasingly becoming responsible for not only critical infrastructure within society, but we have a responsibility to our users and to each other within our companies to help make work better, help make our services more reliable and more resilient over time. And there's a variety of lessons that we can learn from other domains. As I mentioned before, aviation, healthcare, nuclear power all of those kinds of domains have been thinking about supporting cognitive work and supporting frontline operators. And we can learn from this history and this literature that exists out there. There is a GitHub repo that Lorin Hochstein has curated with a number of other folks with the industry that points to some of these resources. And as well, we'll be hosting the first Learning From Incidents in Software Engineering Conference in Denver in February, February 15 and 16th. And one feature of this conference that I'm super excited about is affectionately called CasesConf. And it is going to be an opportunity for software engineers from a variety of organizations to tell real stories about incidents that they had, how they handled them, what was challenging, what went surprisingly well, and just what is actually going on within their organizations. And this is kind of a new thing for the software industry to be talking very publicly about failures and sharing the messy details of our incidents. This won't be a recorded part of the conference. It is going to be conducted under the Chatham House Rule, which is participants who are in the room while these stories are being told can share some of the stories but not any identifying details about the company or the engineers that were involved. And so this kind of real-world situations helps us to, as I talked about before, with that psychological safety, helps us to say this is the reality of operating complex systems. They're going to fail. We're going to have to learn from them. And the more that we can talk at an industry level about what's going on and about what kinds of things are creating problems or opportunities for each other, the more we're going to be able to lift the bar for the industry as a whole. So you can check out register.learningfromincidents.io for more information about the conference. And we can link Lorin's resilience engineering GitHub repo in the notes as well. VICTORIA: Wonderful. Well, I was looking for an excuse to come to Denver in February anyways. LAURA: We would love to have ya. VICTORIA: Thank you. And thank you so much for taking time to share with us today, Laura. You can subscribe to the show and find notes along with a complete transcript for this episode at giantrobots.fm. If you have questions or comments, email us at hosts@giantrobots.fm. And you can find me on Twitter @victori_ousg. This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot and produced and edited by Mandy Moore. Thanks for listening. See you next time. ANNOUNCER: This podcast was brought to you by thoughtbot. thoughtbot is your expert design and development partner. Let's make your product and team a success. Special Guest: Laura Maguire.

Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots
455: Hello Inside with Anne Latz

Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 29, 2022 32:19


Dr. Anne Latz is Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer at Hello Inside, a company that specializes in scientific self-care. Will talks to Dr. Latz about why glucose?, being a business-person first and what drove her to become a medical doctor, and where she sees wearable technology going in the in the next 5-10 years. Hello Inside (https://helloinside.com/) Follow Hello Inside on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/helloinsideofficial/) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/helloinside/about/). Follow Dr. Anne Latz on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/drannelatz/). Check out her Linktree (https://linktr.ee/anne.ella)! Follow thoughtbot on Twitter (https://twitter.com/thoughtbot) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/150727/). Become a Sponsor (https://thoughtbot.com/sponsorship) of Giant Robots! Transcript: WILL: This is the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots Podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Will Larry. And with us today is Dr. Anne Latz, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer at Hello Inside, a company that specializes in scientific self-care. Anne, thank you for joining us. DR. LATZ: Thank you for hosting me today, Will. WILL: Yeah, I'm excited to talk about Hello Inside. And let's start there; give us a quick summary about Hello Inside. DR. LATZ: So we are a German-Austrian startup, so we are based all over Europe, actually, all over the world, I have to say. And we help people by means of technology to understand their bodies best so to really become an expert of their bodies. And the technology we use is not only a smartphone app that shows data but a sensor that's called continuous glucose monitoring sensor that's like a little window you put on your arm that shows you in real-time your glucose data. And we at Hello Inside have then an app and the service around that that really helps you to understand your data and become an expert of your body because this data really gives you immediate feedback on what you do in the sense of eating, moving, but also how well you slept, how stressed you are. WILL: Wow, that's really neat. You said you had the continuous glucose monitor. The body is so complex, and there are so many ways that you probably could measure activity of the body. Why the glucose portion? Why are you doing glucose? DR. LATZ: I think that there are two, maybe even three, reasons to that. The first one is we do not have so many tools like biosensors or technology on the market, which enable us to give really continuous data on different biofluids or markers in the body. So the first one is just that the market here is quite mature because we usually know glucose from the context of diabetes patients, and the technology has been developed years and years ago for those people. And that's why we have really, really good technology, really good sensors, which have high accuracy. The prices get lower and lower, so more and more people can really access this technology. And we just know already a lot about glucose management. The second is it's a super, super potent marker. So I'm a medical doctor from my background. And I do not know so many markers in the body; maybe it's the heart rate variability or pulse that give us really immediate feedback to so many lifestyle pillars. So I think eating is quite intuitive that it does something to our blood glucose, but also movement does, also sleep and stress. And all these pillars immediately affect us, and we often know that. But this marker really gives us a take on how we can really visualize in the moment and then create a change from that. And the third is probably that it's just a really hot topic, the glucose monitoring, currently, and that's actually not a good thing. But we have really not only an obesity epidemic but really a metabolic health crisis. So a lot of people have problems with their glucose levels, not aware of it. A lot of people have, in general, problems with managing; yeah, I would say, their metabolism and have an energy crisis in their body. You could put it like that. And that's why we are really interested in glucose because if you manage glucose in the sense that you stabilize it, you can really improve your health in the short term and how much energy you have, midterm in the sense of what your weight is, and of course, long term to prevent diseases like diabetes or heart disease. WILL: Yeah, definitely. I think you're correct; you know, glucose is the one thing, especially for me, it's diabetes, and I know it in that direction. But also that after lunch drag that you hit, the wall that you hit whenever your glucose spikes and then it comes down and spikes, I mean, then crashes. I think that's the other direction people understand glucose from. DR. LATZ: Yeah, for sure. I mean, you bring up a great example, like the food coma after lunch. Everybody knows that, like, this energy and fatigue in the afternoon. But, I mean, you seem to be a little bit familiar with the technology, but a lot of people do not even connect the dots. They cannot really bring together what they eat and their behavior, for example, at lunchtime, how it really impacts them hours later. And what we love so much about the technology and what we can also use the Hello Inside servers a lot for is really to find out what you do, like, what you think is healthy often. A good example is a smoothie you drink that might spike your blood glucose, but you don't really understand it because you thought it was a healthy choice. So it gives me more nuance as to what is healthy for you because it's...and we didn't even stress that, but it's also highly personalized. So you and I would eat the same lunch, and we would react completely differently to it. So there's so much actionable data from it; that's what we love. And yeah, it's a little bit like running a lab test every few minutes of the day [chuckles] and give you the responses really on your smartphone to your hand and also some alternatives of how to create change there. WILL: Yeah, definitely. And I'm glad you brought that up because one of the questions I had for you is, with Hello Inside, how do you see it combating the bad advice around self-care and dieting when you're getting great scientific data? It's kind of hard to argue with the data and the numbers. DR. LATZ: For sure, yeah. I mean, we all know health, wellness, lifestyle. It all gets very close together, which has good sides and bad sides. But of course, people are still so confused in what is really good for them and their bodies. Because healthy, yeah, it's not a very specific term, especially in, let's stay with the example of food, what you put in, and different diet regimes you have. We see that there's so much frustration also in the market because all these one-size-fits-all recommendations in diet regimes or fasting regimes do not work for all people. And that's really why these personalized approaches, and as you say, data-driven approaches, are so crucial because then you really get power back in trusting your body and understanding how your personal health and well-being is really influenced. At the same time, it's super hard because some of these trends and fad diets have existed for a long time and have a huge community who really love them. But we see it really as a conversation, like a conversation we have with the users, but also a conversation that users have with their bodies. Because we know that creating change, especially behavior change, is like the holy grail for all health and also weight management tools. But it's also something that just takes a little longer because you need some experimenting. You need to find out what really works for you. But I'm quite convinced that when you see the data that's based on your body, that's something that you do not forget. If you see the foods that really spike you, surprisingly, this is really powerful. WILL: Yeah, definitely. And I can understand the benefit of it, especially, you know, you're working out two weeks, and your body really is not showing you any signs of change. But I can see how this could help in showing you the change, even if it's small, how you can say, hey, you're on the right track. DR. LATZ: Exactly. Yeah, it's like these small nudges. I mean, it's a monitor that already shows you the shortcuts and the little tweaks you make. For a lot of people, I always say if you find one food, one spiking element in your day and change that for the rest of your life, that's so much. For a lot of people, it's already in the breakfast. They jump on the blood glucose rollercoaster in the morning because they eat maybe porridge without any added protein to it. So it is very carb heavy, and they think it's super healthy and drink the oat milk latte. I mean, in general, there's nothing wrong with those foods, but you can combine them even better and add something to it and not really eliminate stuff but just add a nice mix of protein and fat to your carbs. And you will be so much fitter during the day. You will not have this huge spike putting you on the roller coaster in the morning. As we are very habitual people, I mean, people eat like 60 different foods per week, which is not a lot; once you find out what really works for you, that's super, super nice for the rest of your life. WILL: Yeah, definitely. And to be honest, I have been guilty of, oh, I just ate a very healthy meal. And then I go back and look at the nutritional facts, and I was like, what did I just eat? Because this was not healthy. DR. LATZ: Yeah, we should always learn and make mistakes and learn again. And it's like a jungle out there. I mean, health, in general, the healthcare market is quite complicated. And I think that doesn't only apply to Germany but definitely to where I'm based but also to the U.S. and all the different markets. And for food, it's the same; I mean, that's a little bit the enemy we all are trying to deal with because the food industry is so powerful. It has so much lobby. And you get so confusing information that this is really what we can use our tools now for to understand what really these, I would say, not always healthy but claimed healthy foods do to us. WILL: So, I have a question around wearable technology. So the last couple of years, there's been a trend of wearable technologies, the Garmins, the Apple Watches. This takes it to the next level. This is way more accurate than any of the wearables. Do you see this as the future in the next 5 or 10 years? DR. LATZ: Yeah, probably in the next 5 or 10 years, we will see even more to it in the sense of personalization. And also, I personally believe that we really have a toolbox here of different markers we use. Maybe some are still invasive, like the CGM you put on your arm that really measures the fluids invasively. But also, there will be an array of other things we can really include into our daily health checks. But this is definitely the next level of, as you said, Garmin and all these tracking tools because now we not only track data and have data, but we make them so actionable because we really put them into an immediate setting. So we can really calculate them now. I'm currently wearing my sensor, and I can have a look at my phone after we've finished recording and see, okay, what happened just now in my body? How did I respond to the setting? Was I super stressed? How is my lunch (because here it is early afternoon) affecting our body? We really had already the switch of not only measuring stuff but making it really approachable, actionable. And yeah, I think CGM will be one of the first tools where we can really make this approachable for the broad public; then, we will have a lot of different markers and sensors to look at. And in respect to glucose management, I really am looking forward to when we get the press announcement of some company that we can also non-invasively and continuously measure blood glucose, which is currently not feasible, and a lot of companies are working on it. So this would be very exciting in the next years. WILL: That's exciting. And I love how complex the human body is. DR. LATZ: Oh yeah. WILL: Like you just said, "How stressed was I?" And you can get that from your glucose level. DR. LATZ: Yeah, it's super complex, and it really takes the time to also figure out what...because just measuring data is not really exciting anymore. Then you have a lot of data, and then you're like, so what? So to really figure how interdependent these lifestyle pillars are of movement, sleep, food, et cetera, that really takes some time, but once you understand it, it makes so much sense. For example, stress is like this fight or flight response we've all heard about, and of course, you need energy for it. And that's why your blood glucose might go up because your body gives you energy to, for example, run away, [chuckles] or be alert. And then always breaking down to why our body does things always helps me to also make sense of the data. WILL: That's amazing. Really amazing. MID-ROLL AD: Now that you have funding, it's time to design, build and ship the most impactful MVP that wows customers now and can scale in the future. thoughtbot Lift Off brings you the most reliable cross-functional team of product experts to mitigate risk and set you up for long-term success. As your trusted, experienced technical partner, we'll help launch your new product and guide you into a future-forward business that takes advantage of today's new technologies and agile best practices. Make the right decisions for tomorrow, today. Get in touch at: thoughtbot.com/liftoff. WILL: So tell me what excites you about Hello Inside, the company. DR. LATZ: I mean, we founded this company with a very clear vision that we really want to help people to become experts of their body and really learn their body's language because this is a quite messed up system. We do not really understand our bodies' signals in the daily life. For example, hunger or thirst, a lot of people cannot really tell what the body is talking to them, so we think it's a super emotional topic. And especially the combination of these really approachable, emotional, real-life moments with newest tech is, I think, an amazing combination because we can reach people really where they are. We can give personalized insights of your personal body. This is also something that makes you so much more reliable and compliant in what you do. Then we can really display the data in a way that you can experientially learn from it. To give you an example, in our Hello Inside app, one of the favorite features of mine is the experiment feature, so you would have a food event. Let's make it super simple, eat an apple and feel your body in the next two or three hours. So that's usually when we take into account the response to that food. And then you compare that to one factor you change, so you eat the apple with some nuts or nut butter. I would suggest to most people, but of course, it's hyper individual, and what extent it changes in the blood glucose response just because you included the nuts, which include fat and protein. You can put these two graphs, these two blood glucose curves together, and you really see the gap between it just from including nuts in your diet. And this is this nice combination of visualization, data-driven insights, and also something where you, I mean, people love to take pictures of their food. And that's what you can usually do here. WILL: Wow, that's amazing. You were talking about your story behind using Hello Inside, the CGM. Do you or any of your clients have any success stories that you would like to talk about? DR. LATZ: Yeah, for sure. I mean, we are quite a young company. We launched only in June and are live now in seven European countries. And actually, I have some really, really cool stories. We launched with a very strong focus on women's health. So we have developed a program which is called Hello Hormones, which helps women along the cycle via the Hello Inside app. And this continuous glucose monitor really improves symptoms like PMS, which can be like bloating, pains, et cetera. And a lot of women didn't really understand (And how would they?) that your body has a very variable response to foods depending on the menstrual cycle. To visualize that, a very simple example would be eat in the first half of your cycle, before your ovulation, a banana, and eat the banana in the second half of the cycle. And I can promise you; you will have a different response to it which is super physiological. It has to do with insulin sensitivity. But you cannot really make sense of that (You feel differently in the phases.) which you now can really do when you saw in the data, really compared it, that you have higher levels of blood glucose maybe in the second half. And you can make small tweaks which help you then to really increase well-being also in the second phase of the cycle before you have your period, which can be by reducing inflammation by changing how you move during that time, et cetera. And this is what a lot of people, a lot of women, resonated with trying out the program. And then, of course, we have these super nice glucose hacks you might have heard about also, where some of my favorites are definitely also always connecting what you eat with movement, so moving your muscles after your meal. And I would say daily, we have such a high blast of user-generated content because people try it out, try the hacks, and then share their blood glucose response with us on social media. And this is so crazy to see. Also, people who are really into their bodies say, "I have these aha moments all the time just because I now understood, okay, it makes sense to have this type of breakfast. It makes sense how I eat my carbs, in which order I eat my food." We have next to the social media content also some coaching sections we offer for our clients where we also hear a lot of those stories that they're really often so, so surprised and so happy that they finally made sense of their body signals. WILL: Yeah, that's amazing. I'm a science geek; I'm just going to say it. DR. LATZ: [laughs] WILL: So I love how you can run your own scientific hypothesis and stuff. Like, you eat a banana at this time, how did it affect me? Okay, at this time, let me eat another banana. I just love that aspect because I don't think we have anything accurate enough right now that I know of besides actual drawing your blood in the lab or something like that that can actually give you that type of information. DR. LATZ: Yeah, and especially if you take a lab just like once a month or once a quarter, then it's also really like a snapshot of the situation and might even have depended on how much did you drink? How was the night before? Like, what did you eat? And put some markers even there. And now you really have the ability to make it, yeah, it's a little bit more playful. Because of course, we recommend experiments you can make, start with an apple, eat the chocolate, do the pasta versus the rice. But then you can customize it because it doesn't make sense to do experiments and try stuff out that you would never do in your daily life. So we always recommend start from where you really are. Wear the sensor for two, three days, just observe, and then look at what you really think is the problem for you. For a lot of people, it's the afternoon fatigue. So what could be the labor here? Where can we make a small change? And then you really, as you say, a little bit of research on your own body and experiment around and tweak here, tweak there and that's the nice part. Then you come to changes that you also stick with. This is what we have also seen on our team, which are like the early adopters, and we worked on it for over a year. We really see that we get better blood glucose response in the mornings. And we just changed a little bit what order we eat. If we go for ice cream, we just do a walk with the ice cream and all these small things which are really feasible and very, very contrary to what we also have in the diet culture, a lot of restrictive things. You cannot do that; you shouldn't do that. I always say it's very positive psychology; add that, combine it here, do some habits tweaking here. And you can really include that in your life further on. WILL: That's amazing. Let's transition and talk about the starting of Hello Inside. What's the story? How did...because I think it's you and three other founders. How did y'all come about starting Hello Inside? DR. LATZ: We are actually from very, very different backgrounds, but we have had some friends in common and some contacts, and, I mean, as I said, I'm a medical doctor. I have a digital health background. So I worked in digital health and other startups for over three years. My other co-founder is very much into the product and growth marketing. He was with Runtastic, which is now part of Adidas. So he has a sports lifestyle background and also expertise for the product. The other one is responsible for brand and community investor relations. He really built also his own companies before. And the fourth is the tech guy who also worked in a medical startup and had his own agencies. So really, as you see, different backgrounds but very nice combination because we bring a lot of skills together and combine them from very different angles, and yeah, this is also, I would say, our power, and of course, it's also at the same time a challenge because not everybody is familiar in the same depth with the topics. But I think that's often the point with diverse teams that you just have to communicate well to help the other people understand where you're coming from. We have to remind him to make research very understandable and really also explain that the tempo there sometimes is a little bit different, whereas I learn so, so much on what it means to build a product really at a high speed, to really iterate here and there. So when we met, of course, the idea was to do something really with impact, to do something in the healthcare space but not too far into med tech. And we're really, really focused on this preventative field. I mean, you always say there's no glory in prevention. Prevention is super unsexy [laughs] for the individual but also the society, and we really want to change that. Of course, Hello Inside was not Hello Inside from the beginning on then we found the name. And we're super happy with the company name, with the case we can make with looking inside, et cetera. Yeah, we're very much looking forward to building an even bigger company in the next years. WILL: That's amazing. Your background is the medical portion of it. And you have experience in patient care in private and public healthcare, so tell us more about that. Are you still practicing? And how did you get into becoming a medical doctor? What was that drive for you to become a medical doctor? DR. LATZ: To be frank, I was a business person first. [chuckles] WILL: Oh. DR. LATZ: I did first business bachelor, but that was like, for me, ages ago; [laughs] it feels like it. And after I finished my bachelor's, I was like yeah, okay, I want to do something else and applied for medical school, which was never on my mind before. And that's how it all started. I also had the chance to do my master's in business at the same time. So I always was like very open to look left and right. And then, I started working in patient care, just very classical, like in a university hospital in psychotherapy. And I loved it a lot. But also, I was missing something to bring in this more innovative, creative part of my interests. I had the chance in a startup to work at some time in the U.S. It's called AMBOSS. It's an ad-tech startup. That's where I came really in the startup field and understood from a very junior position more and more about what it means to build a company. Then I worked, coming back to Germany, for the ministry actually a little bit in the field of public health and prevention for diabetes. So here you see also how it now very well fits with what we're doing now, but of course, I can only say that now looking back. And I got certified in nutritional lifestyle medicine. And this is also something that really fascinates me a lot, like how these pillars really affect our lives all day, every day. And we do not learn so much also medical school about it, and that's where I learned for myself that this is really why I want to double down on these topics. And a little bit before the first pandemic wave started, I found my way into digital health for a startup, being one of the first employees there, and had two years then to really learn on the market, with the market what it means to create a digital health company, and did my postgraduate certificate in Harvard at that time. So I learned patient safety, quality, informatics, and leadership. And all these puzzle pieces then really fit well together last year when I met my co-founders, and we really iterated the idea more to build a company that combines all that, like, digital health and health and prevention with also metabolic health and lifestyle medicine, and, of course, all the innovative things we didn't know that they exist before and we are now learning on the market with. So this is how it all happened to me, and looking back, it all makes sense. But of course, there were a lot of segues. There were a lot of decisions to make on that journey. WILL: Yeah, which I'm glad you brought up the decisions. That was my next question. What have been some of the toughest times in the startup? And what have been some of the most exciting times in the startup? DR. LATZ: Yeah, I mean, I would even broaden up a little bit because just this week, we will launch a book which is in German but will also be in English soon, which really is quite personal. I wrote it with two other doctors, which is called Beyond Bedside. You could translate it. So we are all medical doctors who left bedside and found some new pathways, and two of us also as entrepreneurs. And we had a lot of those hard decisions to take. I think one of the biggest learnings is always...and I think that also applies well for the startups: what got you here won't get you there. So you need this willingness to unlearn. You need to really understand, okay, now I'm a medical doctor, and I learned a lot, but in the startup, I'm just one of many, and I need to learn from the others. And I need to be really, really humble about what I can and cannot do. I think this is always a problem of running a company. You want to be speedy because that's why you're a startup, but you also, especially in the healthcare space, need to do everything properly. And you have to navigate between really having a high quality, having everything according to guidelines because you're always working with people. It's always something you really need to be responsible of. This is also something that we need a lot of patience for a lot of things. But yeah, in general, I would say we did quite a good job as we are a remote-first company. So it was during the pandemic that we founded the company. We have people all over the world working for us. I mean, that's not really specific for our company. But from what I know from colleagues as well, you just need to communicate, and communicate, and overcommunicate in different time zones to really make everybody really aware of the vision, the mission, repeat it again. And strategic decisions need to be clear to everyone. So we put a high effort also on building a nice company culture and working on our ideas together and also get some on-sites where everybody can meet up. And yeah, this is sometimes really hard when you're so in your daily struggle, and there's so much to do. But then we need to take a step back and really say, okay, we need to invest in building an even better team. WILL: Yeah, definitely. Wow. Wow, wow, wow, that's amazing. You've done medical school. You've practiced, and you've founded. Those are hard. Let's just be honest; those are hard things that you have accomplished, so congratulations on that. DR. LATZ: Thanks, Will. WILL: What has been some of the best advice that you received to help you keep going when those things got hard? DR. LATZ: Do not ask the people who are in the very classical fit for...let me give you an example; I would not ask my chief when I worked in a hospital if I should leave the hospital because people who have always done it like that they would never recommend you to drop out and do something new and be innovative, and maybe also a little bit braver. So maybe the good advice from it would be ask the right people, ask a lot of people. And then, looking back, one thing I really learned myself is also it's really hard times you have, and sometimes it's really you're doubting yourself. You're really overwhelmed. There's a lot going on. Especially those times will be, looking back, the ones that can be your hero story. Those are the ones that make you an even better person in the sense of being a coach for others and also for yourself later on. So you really need those struggles to understand and carve out what really moves your heart and where you really want to be invested. And there's also, and this is probably also still hard for me, saying no to a lot of things. WILL: Hmm, that's really good advice, yes. Especially because you have experience in so many different areas, you can quickly overwhelm yourself by saying, "Yes." So, wow, I really like that advice. So in closing, is there anything else that you would like to share with us or with the audience? DR. LATZ: Maybe something that I observe, I mean, I don't know if it's in U.S. the same, but I could imagine it's like a trend that's going on. Everybody thinks he or she needs to be an entrepreneur, founder, like own something, be by yourself. It's just not for everyone. I think that's okay. And I think that it's great that it's not for everyone. We need all the diverse roles. We need all the diverse employees. And being something for the sake of just being it is not a good motivation. I think that nobody should really try to force him or herself into a role just because he or she thinks it's cool. There are many things you can do in your life and that you really should trust your gut and be also really brutally honest to yourself. And, like, I just want to be really...now it sounds better to say, "I just want to be a doctor," that's great. We need doctors; we need teachers; we need employees. There are so many great jobs, and there are so many days where I wish exactly the same. At the same time, entrepreneurship gives you so much freedom of thinking. You learn so much on the job from other people, from your whole team. So there are many roads in crazy town. [laughs] There are many roads in the world. And this is really something we need to be aware of, this exactly, that it is really, really cool that we can do so many things and have really diverse roles in our society. WILL: I love that advice because I 100% agree with you. Because I think there are people that are CEOs and they love to get out in front of people and talk and sell the company. But then you have a CFO or a CEO that's like, I just want to run the day-to-day, the books, or whatever that is, that's what I'm great at. So I love that advice. DR. LATZ: Yeah, exactly. WILL: Wow. Anne, it's been amazing talking to you about Hello Inside and just getting to know your company and you better. Thank you so much for being on the podcast today. DR. LATZ: Thank you for your great questions, Will. WILL: I appreciate it. You can subscribe to the show and find notes along with a complete transcript for this episode at giantrobots.fm. If you have questions or comments, email us at hosts@giantrobots.fm. You can find me on Twitter @will23larry. This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot and produced and edited by Mandy Moore. Thanks for listening. See you next time. ANNOUNCER: This podcast was brought to you by thoughtbot. thoughtbot is your expert design and development partner. Let's make your product and team a success.

Life Will Be the Death of Me with Chelsea Handler
Two Primary Suites with Mandy Moore

Life Will Be the Death of Me with Chelsea Handler

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 22, 2022 59:45


Chelsea is joined this week by Mandy Moore to talk about listening to her body and taking breaks, discovering a painful family secret, and touring while pregnant - and toting a toddler.  Then: A mom of 4 is forced to move back in with her ex.  A filmmaker has lost all passion for her career.  And Mandy is curious about finding more moments of joy.   * Need some advice from Chelsea? Email us at DearChelseaPodcast@gmail.com * Executive Producer Nick Stumpf Produced by Catherine Law Edited & Engineered by Brandon Dickert * * * * * The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the Podcast author, or individuals participating in the Podcast, and do not represent the opinions of iHeartMedia or its employees.  This Podcast should not be used as medical advice, mental health advice, mental health counseling or therapy, or as imparting any health care recommendations at all.  Individuals are advised to seek independent medical, counseling advice and/or therapy from a competent health care professional with respect to any medical condition, mental health issues, health inquiry or matter, including matters discussed on this Podcast. Guests and listeners should not rely on matters discussed in the Podcast and shall not act or shall refrain from acting based on information contained in the Podcast without first seeking independent medical advice.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots
454: The Global Collective with Stacy Kehren Idema

Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 22, 2022 35:50


Stacy Kehren Idema is the Founder and Managing Director of Global Collective, which is revolutionizing how men and women do business. Chad talks to Stacy about the work Global Collective does, starting a company based in France, and the differences between doing business in the U.S. and the U.K. The Global Collective (https://www.globalcollective.global/) Follow The Global Collective on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/global-collective-global/). Follow Stacy on Twitter (https://twitter.com/stacyidema) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/stacykehrenidema/). Follow thoughtbot on Twitter (https://twitter.com/thoughtbot) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/150727/). Become a Sponsor (https://thoughtbot.com/sponsorship) of Giant Robots! Transcript: CHAD: This is the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots Podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Chad Pytel. And with me today is Stacy Kehren Idema, the Founder and Managing Director of Global Collective, which is revolutionizing how men and women do business. Stacy, thank you for joining me. STACY: Chad, it is a pleasure. How are you today? CHAD: I'm well. I'm well. [laughs] I wasn't going to bring it up, but since you asked, I feel like whenever someone asks that question, I feel like I need to give an honest answer. STACY: Of course. CHAD: Because I think, so often, we don't answer honestly. We just sort of...so what's going on in my life right now is, unfortunately, even though we got our fourth boosters three weeks ago, my wife tested positive for COVID yesterday. STACY: Oh no. CHAD: And so she feels fine. She feels mostly fine. But we have kids and everything, so it throws a huge wrench into life right now. We're very fortunate that we've got vaccines, and it'll be mild and everything, but it is a big wrench in our life. STACY: It is. CHAD: Today, tomorrow, for the next week, so... STACY: I'm sorry. CHAD: Yeah, so she's in a different part of the house, quarantining away from all of us, and we're hoping for the best. STACY: Me too. CHAD: We could probably do a whole hour around how life is for all of us right now, coming in this different stage of the pandemic. I hesitate now to ask you, how are you today? [laughs] STACY: I'm here in London, so, for me, it's the end of my day. And fortunately, I haven't had COVID in a few months. But I know that experience and being even alone was enough to put a wrench in everything. So I get it. CHAD: Yeah. Yeah. Well, let's get back to Global Collective. I gave just a brief snippet. But can you tell people a little bit more about what it is you're actually doing? STACY: Yes, I would be honored. So the mission of The Global Collective is to revolutionize really how investment companies invest in female-founded and led businesses, and there are three key areas of that. It's really about changing gender perceptions by actually connecting the unique strengths of each gender. And if you were to even remove the gender piece, it's really talking about the core masculine and the feminine energies of how and what resides in all of us. How can we bring more of the flow and the creativity into business? The mission is also designed to eliminate the diversity gap. How can we make things better, more equitable, easier both for the men and the women, you know, going back to the genders? And something that's very near and dear to my heart is really about increasing the financial benefit and, frankly, the mental well-being in business because one thing that we don't talk enough about is the impact that mental health can have not only on our personal life but on business and vice versa. And I think it's starting to come out more and more. But with founders, with entrepreneurs, and with executives, that mental illness journey has actually increased, and there are some really interesting statistics on it. So, how can we make it a non-shaming conversation? And how can we actually help each other in this area? So the mission is really about transforming business into something different that I think we're all feeling the need for. And how it actually came about was from my 50 years of business and personal experience. I was born into business owners, into a family of business basically. My first husband was a generational business owner and had the hard position to be in, and he had to choose family over business. And then I, in my corporate career, had a really long tenured corporate career. I worked 26 years in companies as small as 40 as well as at Fortune 7 companies where we even did new initiatives, new businesses, startups within those. And modestly, most of my time was actually spent with male executives. And I'm a woman in business. I've been in business a really long time. So that's a little bit about the mission and how The Global Collective came about. CHAD: You're not the first guest we've had on the show that's talked about these issues. But I'm curious because it is more of a conversation right now. It's something that we've been talking about on the show. Is there something that people in that environment that maybe people still don't realize or that you need to just reiterate over and over again here are the challenges, here are the differences, here's what's happening in the real world right now? STACY: Specific to the mental health piece? CHAD: Either the mental health piece or just women in business and what it's like for them. STACY: Well, I think this is where I love to talk a little bit about the extremes and where those extremes are actually very similar. I believe that men feel like there's this weight of the world on their shoulders and that they have to provide, and serve, and do. And I also believe women do as well, you know, provide for their family, protect for their family. For many women, they may even be a single parent, and with that, they want to be able to go out and provide for themselves and do. So you have this desire, this deep desire to do both of those things differently, yet, we're going at it both parallel. And at some point, I think the convergence and really where things start to explode in a beautiful way is when we get to come together. Because if we go about it in a very myopic fashion, we often miss the things that are going on around us that could be a benefit. So from a very specific where I'm very focused on in the venture capital and investment space, so much of what has happened over the course of business time, if you will, and when venture capital investments started, which is, you know, I would imagine hundreds and hundreds of years, it has been mostly men that have done that investment. And when you look at the world as it exists today, it is mostly men that...I don't want to say control the money, but they're the ones in that business. So when you continue on doing the same thing that you've always done and you don't do anything new, that's telling us a couple of things: you don't know how, or you're afraid. And women, on the other hand, are going about doing their thing, working really, really hard. They're probably even more so working harder because it takes longer for them to earn just as much as a man. If they get funded, it takes longer to get funded, and then they actually get less, but they get to that point. And in the meantime, they've had to either endure additional risks to their family by not spending time with their family, or giving up their family and focusing on the business, or focusing solely on their family and giving up the business. So we don't have to do things the way that we're doing them now. And the other element, and where the mental health piece comes in, is this thought that we still have to do these things in these linear ways when we can actually come together and learn the beauty of what men do well in business and the beauty of what women do well in business, and figure out how to do it differently. CHAD: You mentioned you have a lot of experience working for other companies. So I'm curious, when did you start to feel like you needed to do something to solve this problem and potentially create a new company around it? STACY: I've always had a deep desire to do business differently. And what I didn't know at the time in my corporate career was why I didn't feel like I fit in. Having grown up in that business world and knowing what it was like before cell phones and you still had your landline, and a Sunday evening, the telephone rings, and you're sitting at dinner, and your parents dare not answer the phone because the phone will keep ringing until somebody answers. That's just how it happened in the small town I grew up in. Knowing that stress and that pain and watching them go through that to being married to a small business owner, and then being in the rooms and the spaces of the people and hearing the stress and the pain, there was this thing that followed me all the way through that knew that business had to be done differently. And I attempted to insert it a lot in my corporate career, and for most, because I wasn't a box-checker, I didn't fit in. But the deep desire to finally do it differently was in 2019 when I was made redundant. I had been working and doing coaching on the side, and it was my goal to finally go into business for myself. But in 2020, I divorced myself and decided to take myself on a journey. My children are a little older; they're in their early 20s. And I decided to just kind of come back to myself and understand what did I need to do this business for me and to do with what was deeply passionate within me. And could I do it in another country? So in 2021, I spent six months in London and, as part of that journey, did some work for a woman who owns a diversity, & inclusion, and belonging company. And through that experience and listening to her, along with a few other women, talk about that journey to get invested, there was something inside of me that just clicked. It was as if I was reliving sitting in front of capitol committees in my corporate world and listening to the same stories. I'm like, you know, that's just not how things have to happen. It was that moment that I knew it wasn't for me just about helping the women in business and helping them scale their business; it was something bigger than that because, in order to do that, to make that change, and to really make a meaningful change, you have to bring the men along for the journey. You have to help them. I know there are many men out there that are all for women-owned businesses, co-founded businesses, women-led businesses, and many of them come to me privately and talk to me about it. And my response is I need you not to tell me; I need you to show me. And with that, I've also learned that many of them are afraid. They're afraid to do something different, which tells me that we have to create a space for both the men and the women to thrive. Otherwise, we'll just keep spinning our wheels and doing the same thing over and over again. And it will be far more difficult to get to where we need to get to than how we can get to where we want to go doing it a different way. CHAD: So, what does the work Global Collective does look like? Is it coaching? Is it more than that? Is it different than that? STACY: My end vision, the bigger vision, is really this end-to-end ecosystem. So there are roughly five elements or five stages of a business idea: start, sustain, scale, and exit. The focus right now is on the scale and working through pilots with investors and with women in business to learn what and how we do it differently. Coaching will be a component of it, the mental health journey and navigating how that works for the founder and the business owner executive also becomes part of it. But it also is extensive external networks and communities that we bring into that ecosystem that can support both the investors and their journey and the women in business and their journey. Because the other elements that I have learned along the way is when these investors invest in these all-male-led firms, they don't even know how to help those businesses diversify. They themselves even know and have that challenge. Let's take, for example, a woman founder who would like to go on maternity leave. It's more often that she will leave that business because the pressure from the investors to stay in the business and choose business over family is great. Wouldn't it be fantastic if there was a collection of fractional C-suite individuals that get to come in and help that business along on that journey? And not only does the female founder get to be part of deciding who and what will be taken on and for how long, but the investor and the business. And then that way, everyone is along on that journey and is in agreement of what's going to happen. So there isn't that pressure to have to choose between business and family for anyone. CHAD: I guess that's part of where the collective idea and name comes from. STACY: Yeah. CHAD: That's great. You mentioned you moved to the UK as part of this journey. Are you working with companies primarily focused on the UK, or are you doing it globally? STACY: My focus right now is the U.S. and the UK. So I actually started a brand new business. I secured my own visa. And as part of that visa, I had to start a new business, which was this business. So yeah, the primary locations right now have been UK and U.S. If an opportunity came up in a different country, that would be fantastic, exciting, but that's where I've been focused are in those two areas. CHAD: When thoughtbot was getting started in Europe, like most locations that started for us, it was driven by someone who was from there originally and wanted to go back. So when we were getting started, me and my family...my wife was working for a company based in France at the time, and so we were able to go over for the summer. The kids were out of school for the summer. And so we spent several months there, and we loved it. And we're fully remote now, but when we had an office there, I would go about once a month. There's probably a small list of places where I could see myself living [laughs], and that's at the top of the list. Was that the case for you? Did something particularly resonate for you? STACY: You know, I had never been to Europe. And when I was looking at where I would go, I wanted a place that would be culturally diverse. I wanted a place where I could learn, just even be more immersed in history, and feel safe as a single woman in a foreign country. I'm grateful for my family. They're always very concerned about me, and frankly, so are my boys. Having two young adult men, I worried about them, but now they worry about me has started to come into play. For me, it was really about where can I be that would be safe, culturally diverse, and allow me the ability to travel, and to your point, to just go explore new things, really to take a different perspective even outside of the gender diversity piece, the cultural, the language, all of those things? And so this place is home, and I didn't know that when I set off. I thought it just would be; I'll go see how it is for three months. And then I wasn't even here a week, and I said three months wouldn't be enough and stayed six. And it was about five weeks into that journey that I said six months won't be enough; I need to be here longer. And then that's when I did more due diligence from the visa standpoint. MID-ROLL AD: Now that you have funding, it's time to design, build, and ship the most impactful MVP that wows customers now and can scale in the future. thoughtbot Liftoff brings you the most reliable cross-functional team of product experts to mitigate risk and set you up for long-term success. As your trusted, experienced technical partner, we'll help launch your new product and guide you into a future-forward business that takes advantage of today's new technologies and agile best practices. Make the right decisions for tomorrow today. Get in touch at thoughtbot.com/liftoff. CHAD: Is there anything that either has stood out to you or surprised you about differences between business in the U.S. and the UK? STACY: It's fascinating to see how much they complain. The U.S. and the UK complain about each other and their work standards, yet how much they like what each other does. So I would say some of the biggest differences is that the city truly never seems to sleep, yet they definitely take time away from work and business and are very family-focused. That's probably some of the biggest things that I have learned as part of it, and especially having grown up in the culture that I grew up in, in corporate, where it was very much the grind of the nine-to-five plus. So there are some slight differences. I think, if anything, there's just so much more culture and people here that have come from so many other different parts of the world that that's probably the thing that I noticed the most. CHAD: Do you think that the work you're doing is ready to be received more or less in either of the places? STACY: I think different parts of it are more ready to be received in different parts in each country. CHAD: Can you tell me more about that? STACY: Yeah, there's probably more heavy gender influences here in the UK, especially with Scandinavian countries that are much more gender equitable. So I think that piece is very much a belief here. And there are other elements that support both sets of parents from a family standpoint in this country. So I think that is more readily received. I also do know that women-owned businesses are significantly less here and certainly less from getting funded. I think that's where the U.S. is further ahead in that game. However, the number of businesses that are started by women are significantly more than what they are here. It becomes more about who's louder with certain pieces. I think the U.S. is louder in that area. I think the UK is more open and receptive. CHAD: One of the things that I learned about investment in general between the U.S. and the UK is there's not, I mean, it's just not as big of a place as the U.S. The amounts are often less. And I'll say, speaking a little bit more generally, I would say people in the UK, investors in the UK, are a little bit focused on different things. They're maybe a little bit more risk-averse, or they're focused on different markets. So the investment community is a little bit different between the two different places. Does that make the opportunity for founders, particularly women founders, any different between the two different places? STACY: From the research that I've done through some interviewing with investors and then the research I've done on my own, there's a lot of little, smaller type of investment for female founders in the U.S. than there is in the UK. But that said, one thing that seems to be very prevalent is how much Europe, in general, talks about London being the epicenter for Europe and investment. You're asking a great question that I hadn't thought about in that framework. CHAD: Yeah, and I don't know the answer either [laughs], so... STACY: What I do know is in the U.S., there are more female-founded investment companies and female-led. However, I do know many of them are very much sticking to U.S. companies. But what I do know is that the UK is starting to leverage more and work in more partnership with U.S. investment companies. CHAD: So if I am an investment firm, chances are that my entire, especially the leaders in the firm, are probably all men, maybe not, but if not all men, then the majority. So if I was sitting in that seat, how do we get started on this journey? Contact you? [laughter] STACY: Yeah, contact me. [laughs] Honestly, it begins with a conversation. This is the really interesting piece that I don't think that we've yet talked about is women believe that men have control of all the money. And while they may be the ones that are leading more of these investment firms, it's not just up to them, if you will. There is this piece of the puzzle that, yes, we have these male-led investment firms, and they have repeatedly invested in mostly male-led businesses. But we have these women who have these beautiful businesses. Women are known for going to market with products and services that have fewer competitors in the market because 70% to 90% of consumer buying decisions around the globe are made by women. And so when they're out there buying and they see a gap, that's where a lot of these women start these businesses is based off of this gap that they see in the market, but they do have the power. How can I, as part of this...and even the men because I know I wouldn't be where I am today without the male mentors and influencers in my life encouraging me to be bolder and to be better. And they could see in me some things I wasn't yet willing to acknowledge. We, women, have to do the same for each other. We have to help each other be bolder, be braver, not assume that we are at the mercy of somebody else; we're not. We get to be in partnership with each other as women, and we get to go have these conversations with these men. So I think that's the part that's missing in that. So back to your question about if men want to get started in this, what do they do? Contact me, yeah, because let's start to have a conversation. There are so many men that know that they want to do different; they just don't know how. And when they do even see a woman come through the door, it's most often as a co-founder. They're not even sure what to do different to attract more of that. So that's when we get to talk about what is it that they're doing today? Where are they going to look? Who are they calling in? And how does that change their business? Because, at the end of the day, it's not as easy as just investing in women-owned businesses. And I get this question a lot; the question is, "Hey, Stace, are you going to bring us a list of women-owned businesses that we can invest in?" And my response is always with a smile. However, what I say is "No," or "You would have already done that because the list is already available to you." How they do business will transform. And that's the part that they get to go on this journey with The Global Collective is how do they transform their business as part of that? And that's scary to think. You've done something for so long. You do it really well. You make a lot of money doing it. Yes, there's risk, and as part of this, there's something even greater that would transform how you do business. So it becomes a longer conversation. It's not just about contacting me; I think that's the point I'm trying to get out. [laughter] It's a long-term relationship, and most don't consider that. And I certainly know that women don't either. CHAD: So, speaking of that, what is the flip side of this if I'm a woman thinking about doing something new or already working on something? What do I do to get started with this and position myself differently or better? STACY: It's A, building your network. And this is where it gets really uncomfortable for women because the fear of asking for money from men it's a real fear with this perception that they have control. But it's really our own mindset around money and the fact that there's enough of it available. So how do we create diversity in who we talk with, who we talk to? What is it that we are looking to bring to market? Doing some research but not doing so much that you get caught in your own bubble if you will. I would imagine, Chad, that especially those that you've interviewed and even on your own journey doing this as a founder or even being an executive, it can get kind of lonely. And sometimes we get into that I'm just going to do it, and I'm just going to do it. And I'm going to do it until it's perfect and kind of forget that along the way; we need checkpoints. So for women, it's the mindset factor of going in and doing something different, which means doing things that they've never done before: getting help, getting a coach, getting a mentor, putting together an advisory board, people that will hold you accountable, maybe even see your blind spots. It also is understanding that if you go pitch to one investment company, or one investment firm, or one investor and they say "No," okay, that doesn't mean that it's the end of the world. They just may not be for you at that time. And there's plenty more out there. So keep refining. Keep doing your thing. Continue to build your community. Continue to build your voice. And with that, also know that...and this is even part of my journey. You have to be confident in what it is that you're doing. You don't have to be confident in everything that you have to do to get it done, but you have to be grounded in what it is that you're bringing and what it is that you offer. Because the one thing that isn't talked about enough, and I've heard this enough with investors, is they're actually investing in the person. Yes, they're investing in a business, but they're investing in a person at the end of the day. And that part is overlooked. It's not just bringing something to market to bring it to market if you will. CHAD: I hear that a lot. I think you're absolutely right. And I think that that gets too close, maybe, to what one of the core problems is. I think if investors are used to investing in people rather than the product and the stream of people that they're used to investing in looks a certain way or behaves a certain way, they're making decisions heuristically, oh, this makes a successful co-founding pair, or this makes us successful founder. And when something shows up that doesn't match the rest of what they see or the heuristic that they have, they really aren't able to think that that will be successful. STACY: I know myself even being in the rooms that I've been in and doing the work that I did; this journey has been nothing short of a beautiful journey of learning. And the craziest things have happened, as in, they're more difficult than I would have ever imagined mostly because I got in my own way. Or it has required me to learn the nomenclature that's applicable to the investor world, that's very similar to working with capital committees and finance and corporate. However, they use the word slightly. They use either slightly different words or they use them in a different way. So I've been very lucky. One of my advisors is actually a serial tech entrepreneur who has gone for funding alone half a dozen times, and so even when he and I will sit and talk about things, I continue to learn from him every single time. I said it this way. It would resonate more in this way. Which when you think about that, that doesn't mean I change my story, and my belief, and my confidence, and my grounding, and what it is that I'm bringing; it just means that I'm learning to speak different languages, and/or to be able to assimilate in an easier way. If what I say doesn't resonate with one investor, I can find another way to describe what it is that I'm attempting to describe in a language that might resonate more with him. It's not just about here's my business. Here's how we're going to make money, and the bottom line number says I'm making revenue. It's about the bigger pieces of it. It's about being confident in your story, what it is that you're offering, what it is that your strengths are, frankly. And I think there's a disconnect there. Wow, this could be a whole topic of its own, the perception that the founder has to know how to do everything or that we believe that we have to do everything. And then, what's your staying power in all of this? And I think that's even lost on itself. It's not for the faint at heart. And you learn not to take things personal, and you develop a thicker skin. But you still have to remain rooted in your core values. CHAD: On that note of the misconception or the perception that founders need to know or do everything, there's something that I'm curious about that's sort of an extension of that for you. I've had other guests on the show where they're coming at it from a perspective of a lot of the same issues, but they're focused on getting more founders of color access to investment on both sides of that equation. The language you use is around gender and men and women, but we know there are people that don't fit into those boxes specifically, either. So how have you chosen what you've decided to focus on? And how do you not get overwhelmed from all the sorts of the landscape and how big this problem is? STACY: That's a great question because you're right, and I think about that often. I speak more in the norm, the heterosexual norm, genders. I am starting to talk more about the energies that really take away from the men and the women and really speak more about the masculine and the feminine. For me, that piece of it is where I'm staying focused because it's where I know I can do and make the most impact. However, I believe that when we start to make traction in this way, we also get to make traction from a race and a color...and this is where the corporate culture is starting, I think, to understand and become more well-versed in the masculine and feminine energies. And when you can speak more in that language about the benefits that every single person has regardless of gender, when we get to speak in that language that is more inclusive, then I also believe that we get to include more people, more humans because, at the end of the day, we're all human. That's the one thing that we all [laughs] have in common. We get to speak in that language. But I think the fact that my end vision...the end goal is so big that to your question about how do I not get lost in the rest of it, I know that will come along as part of it. Even though it may not be the language that I use, I know deep in my heart that creating this opportunity and the shift for people to see those perspectives and for me as a founder to also ensure that within my values, I look to have inclusivity in other ways other than gender myself will be of value. And in the meantime, those external...the business partnerships, the other elements of my business and who I get to work with or who we get to work with as a collective will include those that are more well-rounded into the language, and I can learn from them. And we get to do these things together, so I do believe that it comes together. I've really led with that so that I don't get so overwhelmed in attempting to accomplish everything. CHAD: Yeah. And I think the things you're working on feel different than just creating another business or another product like a SaaS product or that kind of thing, but I think a lot of the same principles still apply. And if you come out with something that is meant to be everything to everybody and you're not building from your experience, chances are good you're not going to be as successful as if you could focus and build from your experience and find your niche, and find the people who can help you do what you want to do and have the impact you want to have and then grow from there, as opposed to doing everything all at once. STACY: Yeah, I agree. CHAD: But it's tough because it's hard to say, "No, I'm not working on that now," because it is still important. STACY: It is. The one thing I did, unknowing that this was going to happen but almost three years ago, while in my former life and in my corporate career, I led global teams and worked with different teams across the globe and had a little bit more of that cultural experience. The one thing that I really got hung up on when I first started was figuring out what my niche was because I've had all of that experience. But what I do know is that you get to create your own niche. That was something that took me a really long time to figure out. I was so centered on conforming to what everyone else told me would be my niche. And I knew that there was something missing. And so part of what I do now, which is the beauty of living where I live now because there's so many different pockets of the culture pieces of it, race, religion, and ethnic backgrounds, I get to continue to build my network and my community with that thought in mind of being able to look for partnerships and have conversations, whether I'm here, whether it's those that are in the U.S. now that I have the attention of. It's all those things, and that just makes it better. CHAD: Yeah. Well, if this has resonated with people and they want to find out more, they want to get in touch with you, they want to start that conversation, where should they go to do that? STACY: They will find me...website is globalcollective.global. You will also find me on LinkedIn under Stacy Kehren Idema, as well as on Instagram under stacykehrenidema. CHAD: Stacy, I really appreciate you joining the show and sharing with us. I appreciate the impact that Global Collective seeks to have. And I wish you all the best, I really do. So, thank you so much. STACY: Thank you. It's been a pleasure. Thanks, Chad. CHAD: You can subscribe to the show and find notes along with a complete transcript for this episode at giantrobots.fm. If you have questions or comments, email us at hosts@giantrobots.fm. And you can find me on Twitter at @cpytel. This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot and produced and edited by Mandy Moore. Thanks so much for listening, and I'll see you next time. ANNOUNCER: This podcast was brought to you by thoughtbot. thoughtbot is your expert design and development partner. Let's make your product and team a success. Special Guest: Stacy Kehren Idema.

Dear Chelsea
Two Primary Suites with Mandy Moore

Dear Chelsea

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 22, 2022 59:45


Chelsea is joined this week by Mandy Moore to talk about listening to her body and taking breaks, discovering a painful family secret, and touring while pregnant - and toting a toddler.  Then: A mom of 4 is forced to move back in with her ex.  A filmmaker has lost all passion for her career.  And Mandy is curious about finding more moments of joy.   * Need some advice from Chelsea? Email us at DearChelseaPodcast@gmail.com * Executive Producer Nick Stumpf Produced by Catherine Law Edited & Engineered by Brandon Dickert * * * * * The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the Podcast author, or individuals participating in the Podcast, and do not represent the opinions of iHeartMedia or its employees.  This Podcast should not be used as medical advice, mental health advice, mental health counseling or therapy, or as imparting any health care recommendations at all.  Individuals are advised to seek independent medical, counseling advice and/or therapy from a competent health care professional with respect to any medical condition, mental health issues, health inquiry or matter, including matters discussed on this Podcast. Guests and listeners should not rely on matters discussed in the Podcast and shall not act or shall refrain from acting based on information contained in the Podcast without first seeking independent medical advice.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Inside Out Health with Coach Tara Garrison
NADINE ARTEMIS: Stop Wrecking Your Skin and Mouth Microbiome with Organic Skincare Pioneer

Inside Out Health with Coach Tara Garrison

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 21, 2022 36:14


Nadine Artemis is an innovative aromacologist and author of two books including Renegade Beauty and Holistic Dental Care. She is the creator of Living Libations, an luxury line of organic wild-crafted non-GMO serums, immune enhancing elixirs, and essential oils for those seeking the purest of the pure botanical natural health and beauty products on the planet. Her healing creations, along with her concept of renegade beauty, encourage effortlessness, eschew regimes, and inspire people to rethink conventional notions of wellness.  Her potent dental serums are used worldwide and provide the purest oral care available.  Nadine is a key speaker at health and wellness conferences and a frequent commentator on health and beauty for media outlets. She has received glowing reviews for her work in the Hollywood Reporter, GOOP, Vogue, New York Magazine, People, Elle, Yoga Journal, Natural Health, W Magazine, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and National Post. Celebrity fans include Shailene Woodley, Renee Zellweger, Julianne Moore, Carrie Anne Moss, Mandy Moore, and many others. Alanis Morissette, describes Nadine as “a true sense-visionary." Aveda founder, Horst Rechelbacher, calls Nadine “a pure flower of creativity.” In this episode, Nadine Artemis shares a wealth of knowledge on healthy skincare. Learn more about Nadine Artemis and get 10% off the products using coupon code COACHTARA: https://int.livinglibations.com/ Instagram: @nadineartemisofficial and @livinglibationsofficial Get Nadine's book Renegade Beauty here: https://amzn.to/3HVinD3 Get Nadine's book Holistic Dental Care here: https://amzn.to/3V6DBRa   IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN: 00:01:27 - Why Nadine wento in the direction of organics many years ago 00:07:20 - Tara's experience with olive oil and jojoba oil as skincare 00:11:11 - Nadine's favorite natural skincare ingredients 00:15:00 - Nadine talks about peppermint oil for your post-natal care 00:26:02 - What happens to nutrient absorption when we stress the body 00:29:30 - Why you should stay away from synthetic mouthwashes   

Movie Madness
Episode 347: Shall We Play A Blu-ray?

Movie Madness

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 17, 2022 121:22


Peter Sobczynski joins Erik Childress to close out the Blu-ray & DVD book for 2022 with a number of new titles for your Christmas lists. They include Criterion editions of a Todd Haynes music doc and the Chicago-set inspiration for a memorable TV show. A lot of horror for the holidays recently in theaters along with women warriors and a singing crocodile. Peter looks at a misguided gang film starring, well, you'll find out. Sony releases a David Cronenberg film in time for its 20th anniversary along with a 4K edition of a terrific Julia Roberts anti-rom-com. There is more 4K involving immortals, a subway robbery, Bruce Dern in space, Laika, a great Paul Newman title, the film that scared the hell out of Erik in the ‘80s and the classic from the ‘70s that continues to shock people to this day. That along with one of the best films of the year, HBO titles you should grab before they are removed from their streaming service and a lot more to keep you busy until 2023. 0:00 - Intro 1:30 - Criterion (Velvet Underground, Cooley High) 10:51 - Sony (The Woman King, Lyle Lyle Crocodile, Spider, My Best Friends Wedding 4K) 25:35 - Universal (Ticket to Paradise, Halloween Ends) 32:32 - Cinedigm (Terrifier 2) 36:11 - Lions Gate (Silent Night Deadly Night 3-5, Highlander 4K, Call Jane) 49:56 - Paramount (Smile,  Reacher: Season One, South Park: Post COVID & The Return of COVID) 57:00 - Arrow (Silent Running 4K) 1:02:40 - Shout Factory (A Walk to Remember, Coraline/Paranorman 4K, Carrie 4K, War Games 4K) 1:19:10 - Music Box (Medusa) 1:22:30 - Scorpion (Walk Proud) 1:26:40 - WB (House of the Dragon, Staircase, The: Limited Series) 1:32:33 - Kino (The Hallelujah Trail, Laws of Gravity, Twilight (1998), Pelham 1,2,3 4K, Nobody's Fool 4K) 1:51:15 - Disney (Banshees of Inisherin) 1:56:33 - NEW BLU-RAY ANNOUNCEMENTS 1:58:52 - Outro

Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots
453: Greenpixie with John Ridd

Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 15, 2022 28:33


John Ridd is the Co-Founder and CEO of Greenpixie, which is building solutions to reveal and reduce cloud emissions. Chad and Will talk to John about giving a clearer view of AWS emissions down to the service level, why cloud emissions are a much bigger sustainability issue than most people realize, and how this will be the next big issue of the climate crisis. Greenpixie (https://greenpixie.com/) Follow Greenpixie on Twitter (https://twitter.com/greenpixiehq), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/greenpixiehq/), or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/greenpixie/). Follow John on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-c-ridd/). Follow thoughtbot on Twitter (https://twitter.com/thoughtbot) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/150727/). Become a Sponsor (https://thoughtbot.com/sponsorship) of Giant Robots! Transcript: CHAD: This is the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots Podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Chad Pytel. WILL: And I'm your other host, Will Larry. And with us today is John Ridd, the Co-Founder, and CEO of Greenpixie, which is building solutions to reveal and reduce the emissions of the cloud. CHAD: John, thank you so much for joining us. I have to admit that as a developer, this is something that I've been thinking a lot about recently. We practice test-driven development. We run continuous integration, even the things that we have running in the cloud in terms of the websites that we run and that kind of thing. I'm also just really becoming aware of when I make a new branch in everything that I run, and I'm making a code change and pushing that up to GitHub; it then kicks off a build every single time any team member is doing that. And I can just see the impact that even just a single software product can have potentially on our environment. And I've started to become more and more guilty about that. So I'm excited to talk to you about how [laughs] we might be able to fix that problem. JOHN: Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the big reasons that we've really seen the opportunity in the cloud emissions space is this disconnect really between how developers are incentivized to think, and rightfully so. They need to build and innovate at all costs; that's what drives the innovation in any tech company or any company. But the sustainability way of thinking and thinking, what am I building? What servers am I using and turning on? Just hasn't been in the conversation with developers. And they're the ones who are making these decisions using cloud providers to build out the products that the company needs. So it's great to hear that you're now aware of this impending issue from development. CHAD: So I'm excited to dig more into the product. But I'm curious, you were doing digital marketing before starting Greenpixie, right? JOHN: Yeah, I ran my own marketing consultancy, worked with a number of companies, big and small. And where I found my knack was sort of demand generation; really, starting off projects from nothing is what I've always done. It's clear now that...so Greenpixie was a bootstrap startup. Really using that ability to at least come up with an idea and take it from zero to one, bring demand to an issue, that's how Greenpixie started. And it actually started with the head of engineering, Chris, who I met at my co-working space, and really we traded ideas through a hackathon on the weekend. And I had this idea when it came to website emissions and just knew that there was a software and a product play there. And what we do is connect into Google Analytics, put it through some carbon algorithms, and give them the ability to see how much digital carbon the website is producing. And from my marketing background, we've developed our own marketing, internal marketing software, which is a combination of we've built our own email servers with a high inbox. And we do semantic web scraping to find relevant prospects in the sustainability space. So we built the MVP and put this idea for Greenpixie out to the world, and the overwhelming response that we got was people being shocked at the idea of digital carbon and how their digital operations do have a sustainability impact. It really gave us the confidence to think there's demand for this idea of emissions. And since then, we've now moved into carbon emissions down the carbon rabbit hole. But my marketing experience explains how it started in the first place. CHAD: So how does...sometimes when faced with, I think, all kinds of climate issues, people can feel overwhelmed or helpless or feeling like what do I do as an individual to have an impact? So what does Greenpixie and Cloud NetZero enable an individual, team, or company, or developer to actually see and do? JOHN: Cloud NetZero connects into the leading cloud providers. So at this stage, we can give a clearer view of your AWS emissions down to the service level. And this is a key first step. So we take a you can't affect what you can't measure philosophy. And that was a big, big step for us. And by cutting into the cost and usage reports and putting it through our carbon algorithms, we can then get visibility to engineers. So everything you're building up in the cloud, we then give a full transparent view of the associated emissions that are being created from that by using our algorithms and methodology to convert the electricity used from the computation and storage and take into account the geographic location of the data centers of which you're using. As you can imagine, there are different carbon intensities in different countries during different times of the day. So we actually hook up into an API that gives us this carbon intensity data down to the hour. So we give a really comprehensive view of your carbon emissions footprint, which is what we consider the gold standard in sustainability. Because what makes the digital vertical so unique within sustainability is we've got data coming out of our ears. [chuckles] The data is there to connect into the software, so we can give this crystal clear picture. Whereas in other branches of sustainability, if you're into supply chains, et cetera, you've got real-world problems that you have to put real-time into. So that's the first step that we do is giving you this clear picture of your emissions. And from that, we then proceed to suggest reduction strategies to reduce those emissions. WILL: John, I'll be honest. Before getting on the podcast with you, I never thought about my cloud emissions as a developer. Now I'm seeing, wow, there is a lot there with that. On your Twitter, I saw this stat: imagine driving 1.3 billion miles all the way to Saturn. The carbon you would release would be about the same as the amount from all of these streams of Netflix's top 10 shows in the month that were released, 6 billion hours of viewing. I'm just mind-blown just thinking about that. For someone who is just now thinking about my cloud emissions, what would you tell me as a developer or any CEO that's listening to the podcast? JOHN: So yeah, you're right. This is a much bigger sustainability issue than most people realize. Currently, it's estimated around 2% of global emissions are from the cloud and data centers use, which puts it near the level of the aviation industry. And because the cloud is so esoteric and it's called the cloud, you think it's light and fluffy, and you're like, okay, it's over there; it's fine. But there's a hard infrastructure that makes up the digital world that we enjoy, and that's thousands of racks of servers. That's so much gallons, like, millions of gallons of water used to cool these data centers. And because of this, there are countries such as Ireland and Singapore that have now begun to ban further construction of data centers. Because in Ireland, over 10% of the grid is taken up by these, well, I believe there was an article in The Telegraph that referred to these data centers as vampires, [laughs] vampires on the grid sucking all this energy up. And the reason that this exists is it comes down to a company level or to a developer level. You're renting these data centers in order to grow your operations. And this aggregate demand goes straight into why these data centers exist and how much electricity they're using. But what you can do for a certain output...because we're a tech company and we love tech. And that makes us different to maybe some sustainability, really hardline sustainability environmental point of view because we actually think you can achieve the same output for 40% less energy use. So there's waste that is pretty rife across the cloud space, and that also comes with the amount of money spent on the cloud. There can be servers that have been left turned on that are no longer used. There can be non-essential computation that could be moved to low carbon intensity hours of the day. And there's so much that can be done and still basically enjoy and build the tech that we all aspire to build. CHAD: I'm going to resist taking a tangent into What We Do in the Shadows and the energy vampire, or we can call them Colin, I guess, instead of vampires. JOHN: Yeah, yeah. [laughter] CHAD: So I used the calculator that you have on the website on our website, thoughtbot.com. I was pleased to see that it produces less carbon than 95% of websites. What goes into that calculation, though? JOHN: So what we do on the estimator, on the webpage, the calculator, so we take into account whether your server being used is green or standard based on requesting that homepage. And then, really, there's a lot of overlap with PageSpeed optimization, rightfully, so the heavier the web pages, the more images. And if it's been coded lazily and it's heavy, which it hasn't been in your case, which I'm sure you're really happy about, that basically does have an effect on the electricity used in order to serve the website. And we also provide a website carbon report, which goes a step further and takes into account your Google Analytics, which goes for all your pageviews and takes into account some other factors too. CHAD: When you're looking at the carbon footprint of a website, am I understanding that you're also taking into account the carbon footprint of the people viewing what it takes to view the website on the client too? JOHN: It's very interesting, and we are going into the client side of emissions. That is definitely something that we're looking into and continue to do so. But now we focus more on the cloud. We stuck with websites as our main priority, that would mean the next step was going into client side, and it can, and that logic does go up. And it shows the ability of measuring sustainability impact when it comes to digital because, of course, you can get device information from Google Analytics, and that can then be used to give an accurate prediction. But that is something that we would definitely consider doing in the future. But you see the potential. It can go in all these different directions. CHAD: A little bit of a meta question, then, so the calculator is running on people's websites. What is the carbon footprint of running the calculator on the site? [laughs] JOHN: Well, that's the thing; we do have transparency of our own operations. So we're a seed-stage startup, and our operations might get a lot bigger. But for now, and given the sustainable approach, we take with how we run our cloud and run these tools, around two tons of CO2 we produce in a month from operations. But looking into other tech companies, you can imagine how AWS can get when it comes to the bigger companies and everything in between. It can really be hundreds or tens of tons. That has been currently unaccounted for and not addressed, which put into perspective, it's acting on your carbon emissions as an individual. And let's say you're a developer who has the power to do this. You can have the effect of like ten times going vegan or not using air travel. So it's just really we really love the idea of combating carbon emissions, and developers, particularly combating carbon emissions is, using your unique skills in order to fight the climate crisis in a way that a non-technical person couldn't. CHAD: So what are some of the things that you're doing as a company to solve that for yourself? Are there particular cloud hosting providers that are actually better than others? JOHN: Yes, it does vary. So there are the big cloud providers, and we are on AWS due to the startup credit scheme, which, as you can imagine, that's very beneficial when you're starting from a bootstrapped model. And within AWS, you can actually...so choosing the geographic location of where you're spinning up the servers is one way you can reduce that. So our servers are in Ireland. So we're part of that issue actually, now that I think about it, because they have a relatively low carbon intensity. And that's one way that we ensure the carbon we're using is minimized. But there's a whole spectrum. So if you wanted to go at all costs and convenience and costs are out the window, there are niche carbon fighters, which actually are off-grid renewable power data centers. If you have the means, that is the optimum you can go in terms of the carbon intensity. But in terms of how we build, so just the typical making sure that we're turning off products, features, and servers that we don't use and being mindful of that, putting non-essential compute to low-carbon intensity periods in the day and just minimizing costs and using computation for a certain output is how we take that philosophy. MID-ROLL AD: Are your engineers spending too much time on DevOps and maintenance issues when you need them on new features? We know maintaining your own servers can be costly and that it's easy for spending creep to sneak in when your team isn't looking. By delegating server management, maintenance, and security to thoughtbot and our network of service partners, you can get 24x7 support from our team of experts, all for less than the cost of one in-house engineer. Save time and money with our DevOps and Maintenance service. Find out more at: tbot.io/devops. WILL: On your website, I see that 127 billion is wasted in idle cloud spend, so obviously, one of your goals is to reduce that amount. What other goals is your company looking forward to solving? JOHN: I would say our main goal is to reduce millions of tons of needless cloud emissions using scalable software. That is our guiding light. But within that, it correlates largely with cost savings for companies. So we could actually save companies millions of pounds as well or millions of dollars. So I'm from the UK; [laughter] I went for pounds. Yeah, that's the big push; that's our guiding light. And we really want to be the torchbearers for digital sustainability as an idea. So having the awareness, we take responsibility for driving awareness for the issue also. As a team, we have a great combination of technical minds but also creative and marketing, getting the message out there and demystifying carbon emissions. So it's a technical issue because there's a technical issue when you dig into it. But we want to put it in a way that a non-technical decision maker in the C-suite would understand the issue in terms of the effects that you can have as a company in a sustainability drive. CHAD: So you mentioned you got started from that original hackathon idea. And how did things progress for you from there? You now have a team of people working. Did you end up taking some investment in order to continue on? JOHN: We did. We actually started it...so we started it as a passion project from that hackathon, saw the potential. I saw a small business opportunity through the website measuring. And we saw there was demand out there, so we started there. Then we saw it as a side project and continued to see potential and made the call to basically...the initial team was three of us. We went full-time and said let's see what we can do with this. Then I came from a marketing consultancy...I self-funded it to the means that I could for the first six months. It's an interesting experience when you get possessed by an idea, and it's just I need to see this through. I see the potential. It's for a great cause. I think there's a big business opportunity here. And then, really, it came to that point, and we did start going down the investment route. We were part of an incubator associated with the University of Cambridge called Carbon13. It's a really interesting program where they put together experts in climate science, the developers. And you come together to try and come up with these big ideas to basically reduce millions of tons of emissions as a startup. And there was plenty. There was, for example, there was offsetting companies, there was carbon credit startups, everything you can imagine. And it was there that we got put on the investment journey because at the end of the program, you get what was an £80,000 investment to then move on and then go down the VC route. Turns out we didn't get the investment despite us being one of the favorites. It didn't work out for various reasons. And then we were in a situation where I was like, okay, we need to get this investment in order to keep going and scaling the team. And we ended up being VC-backed for our pre-seed from a company in London called Ascension. So we did a £250,000 pre-seed round to get things going. And that's why we have a team who is now working on this full-time. And it's been a bit of a journey, but the trials and tribulations of startups is just the game. And now we're looking to get our seed round. We're hoping to be closing by the end of the year. CHAD: Congratulations on the progress so far. Why do you think Ascension was interested in investing in you? JOHN: So, really, at pre-seed stage, I've talked to VCs and said market, founder, co-founders, anything else is just too early to really know with any certainty. So I think they saw that we were committed, enthusiastic about the idea. Will, the other co-founder, and CTO, is a full-stack developer. It's his second startup. And with my demand generation background, we thought we were a good fit. But really, I think a lot of time and thinking, and commitment has gone into (blood, sweat, and tears) has gone into thinking how we can create a product or software company that addresses carbon emissions. And I think investors have a good radar of when people are really committed, and that's what we were. WILL: You've recently done a soft launch of Cloud NetZero. Can you give me more information around that? JOHN: Yeah, absolutely. We did our soft launch, so this is after the pre-seed investment. We got the 250,000. And we built the product that we laid out in that pitch, which was a software that integrates to AWS and gives you this granular breakdown of your emissions by service. And that was what we presented on our soft launch. We did an in-person event, which we just got a small room and managed to...so around 50 people turned up, which we're pretty proud of. And people do seem to be attracted to this idea. We use my marketing background [laughs] to kind of bolster those numbers. But it was a really great experience. So it was actually on the side of our co-working space where we did a hackathon originally. And it was a bit of an experience, quite a heartwarming experience that everyone has come together. I'm just like, oh, it was in that room that it started as an idea, and now 50 people coming from VC backgrounds, from sustainability, from tech are all coming together. And considering we started in COVID times, to have everyone in the room was just great. So it was great. Yeah, thanks for highlighting it. I really have good memories of that soft launch. CHAD: So people can get a demo and sign up now. JOHN: Yeah, absolutely. So the product is up and running. It went from idea to reality which we're very, very proud of the product team for hitting it on time as well. So we did a 100-day push, and on the 100th day, it was ready for us. And we actually got a big update Monday next week, which is going to be the V 1.1. I call it V2, and then my CTO says, "No, it's V 1.1." [laughter] CHAD: Oh, you need to make your CTO understand that for marketing purposes, you need to make your version numbers bigger. JOHN: Yeah, yeah, he's just like, "If you think that's V2, you don't know what you're saying." [laughter] You can contact us, and we can basically show you the onboarding to get you closer to your cloud provider. And you can have a crystal clear picture of your carbon emissions. And the companies we're talking to now so software companies, so pretty well-known brands. We're now in conversation with as well as just your heavy-duty tech companies. And they're really our ideal client we're looking to now because they have a large amount of carbon emissions, and they want to be really measuring them for their sustainability initiatives. They are actually going to be required to...from the beginning of next year, there's regulation creeping in that's going to make companies measure their Scope 3 emissions, and we have the product to do that. And once we go over that first stage of measurement, then the next step is giving you recommendations to reduce it ultimately, and that will be both in cloud emissions and costs. So we actually are a cost-saving software ultimately because we can highlight wasted cloud spend, and there's a lot of it in these tech companies. CHAD: So you've launched. It sounds like you're focused on getting customers and making sales. How does the pricing work for the product? JOHN: At the moment, we are charging 10K a year to use the software. This is for...so it would be your mid-sized tech company is really who that's aimed for. Anything that goes into really heavy-duty cloud emissions analysis would be probably just down the road just because the complication gets considerably...there's a lot more computing that we need to do on our end, which there are costs associated with that. And there's a lot more, as you can imagine, a lot more hand-holding in order to get integrated and that type of thing. So the pricing would be larger for those more developed companies who have huge AWS accounts. CHAD: A lot of companies' pricing is one of the things that they struggle with early on. I assume you'll learn, and your pricing model will change. But is there something that particularly you weren't sure about when it came to the pricing? JOHN: So the pricing it's really what we're seeing from other parallel softwares on the market more towards the cost reduction side of the cloud. They don't focus on emissions. It's...we'll plug the right place for that. And I think given the opportunity cost, especially from the sustainability and measurement perspective, the alternative is companies are spending a lot of money on sustainability consultants to try and figure out these emissions for the reporting means, and our software does the heavy lifting for you, as any good product does. And with the cost savings on top of that, it's about right for now. But as we improve the product and can accommodate these bigger enterprise clients, the price model will evolve and probably get more expensive. But not to overcomplicate; it is the logic at this point. And once we do have the ability to take on these more complex arrangements, the pricing would reflect that. Yeah, so that's the plan. WILL: Well, John, I thank you for coming on the podcast and being a part of it. Is there anything else that you would like our audience to know? JOHN: We're shouting from the rooftops about carbon emissions. This is going to be the next big issue of the climate crisis. So I truly believe that there are estimates that digital emissions will rise past 10% of global emissions by 2030. Our thirst for data isn't going anywhere. And there's a real chance that computing principles such as Moore's Law that have allowed these improvements in hardware to keep up with the demand for data won't necessarily last forever. And from that, we need to really wake up to the fact that the digital world, despite it being, yeah, it seems like it happens by magic, there is real sustainability impact. But the good news is we think that using the scalability of software...because the scalability of software that has seen so much success for companies can be used to have an equally positive impact on the planet and prevent this issue of digital emissions by using the inherent scalability of digital and availability of data. So that's really what I'm preaching at the moment. And we believe the best first step for that would be a product called NetZero because it gives transparency over these emissions. You can see it in front of your eyes, and then decisions can be made in order to reduce them. That's what I chose to be my soapbox moment. [laughter] CHAD: That's great. John, if folks want to find out more, see that demo, get in touch with you; where are all the different places that they can do that? JOHN: greenpixie.com is where you can just contact us, and we'll be straight on the phone with you. Another place to see what we're really up to and get more ideas of digital sustainability the best place is probably our LinkedIn company page. We're quite active on there. If you want to take your first steps into digital sustainability, start there. And if you think your company is ready to act on their carbon emissions or you just want to find out a little bit more, then yeah, just contact us through our website, and we'll have a chat. CHAD: Awesome. Everything that John just mentioned is going to be linked in the show notes, along with a complete transcript for this episode. You can subscribe to the show and find all of that at giantrobots.fm. WILL: If you have any questions or comments, email us at hosts@giantrobots.fm. CHAD: You can find me on Twitter @cpytel. WILL: And you can find me on Twitter @will23larry. This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot and produced and edited by Mandy Moore. CHAD: Thanks for listening, and see you next time. ANNOUNCER: This podcast was brought to you by thoughtbot. thoughtbot is your expert design and development partner. Let's make your product and team a success. Special Guest: John Ridd.

Unconditioning: Discovering the Voice Within
Episode Fifty-Three. Vinnie Potestivo: Listening to Voices & the Creation of Generational Brands

Unconditioning: Discovering the Voice Within

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 14, 2022 49:38


Vinnie Potestivo is an Emmy® Award-winning Media Advisor who helps clients leverage their media exposure, find fame, and make impact. Vinnie is the Editor-in-chief of I Have A Podcast® and is responsible for discovering and amplifying the voice of independent podcasters worldwide. As a network executive at MTV Networks (98-07) he discovered talent and developed new ways to support their goals, pioneering the way brands and business owners could contribute to their public narrative by making them stars and producers of their own television series. Early hits include Punk'd, The Osbournes, TRL, 8th & Ocean, Wild 'N Out, & The Challenge. Since then, he and his team at VPE.tv have continued to be well-trusted connectors who develop and distribute original content across all media platforms. Especially podcasts! You can listen to Vinnie dissect the creative process with some of the stars and creatives who helped launch his career such as Mandy Moore, Danielle Fishel, TJ Lavin and Ananda Lewis (to name a few) on the award-winning “I Have A Podcast” audio experience which is available everywhere you watch and listen to podcasts.   vpe.tv/hub – Amplify a podcast: vpe.tv/quuu – Launch a podcast: vpe.tv/podbean – Get paid for your podcasts: vpe.tv/podmatch  

The Bike Shed
365: Career Progression

The Bike Shed

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 13, 2022 37:55


Joël has been thinking a lot recently about array indexing. Stephanie started volunteering at the Chicago Tooele Library, a non-profit community lending library for Chicagoans to borrow tools and equipment for DIY home projects! It's the end of the year and often a time of reflection: looking back on the year and thinking about the next. Stephanie and Joël ponder if open source is a critical way to advance careers as software developers. This episode is brought to you by Airbrake (https://airbrake.io/?utm_campaign=Q3_2022%3A%20Bike%20Shed%20Podcast%20Ad&utm_source=Bike%20Shed&utm_medium=website). Visit Frictionless error monitoring and performance insight for your app stack. Chicago Tool Library (https://www.chicagotoollibrary.org/our-organization) Circulate and Ruby For Good (https://github.com/rubyforgood/circulate) Glue Work (https://noidea.dog/glue) Being the DRI of your career (https://cate.blog/2021/09/20/being-the-dri-of-your-career/) The Manager's Path (https://www.oreilly.com/library/view/the-managers-path/9781491973882/) Kingship (https://acoup.blog/2022/10/07/collections-teaching-paradox-crusader-kings-iii-part-iii-constructivisting-a-kingdom/) What technologies should I learn? (https://thoughtbot.com/blog/what-technologies-should-i-learn) Learning by Helping (https://thoughtbot.com/blog/learning-by-helping) "Comb-shaped" Careers (https://killalldefects.com/2020/02/22/specializing-vs-generalizing-careers/) Transcript: STEPHANIE: Hello and welcome to another episode of The Bike Shed, a weekly podcast from your friends at thoughtbot about developing great software. I'm Stephanie Minn. JOËL: And I'm Joël Quenneville. And together, we are here to share a little bit of what we've learned along the way. STEPHANIE: So, Joël, what's new in your world? JOËL: I've been thinking a lot recently about array indexing. I feel like this is one of the areas where you commonly get confused as a new programmer because most languages start array indexing at zero. And what we really have here are two counting systems, either an offset so how many spaces from the beginning of the array, or a counting system where you count 1,2,3,4. At first, it feels like why would computers ever go with the offset approach? It's so illogical. Counting 1,2,3,4 would feel natural. But then, the more I think about it, the more I've started seeing the zero-based pattern show up in everyday life. One example, because I enjoy reading history, is how we talk about centuries. You might talk about the 19th century is the Victorian age, roughly. But you might also refer to the 19th century as the 1800s. So we've kind of got these two names that are a little bit off by one. And that's because when you're counting the centuries, you count first century, second century, third century, fourth century, and so on. But when we actually go by the first two digits, you start with the zeros, then the 100s, then the 200s, 300s, and so on. And so we have a zero-based counting system and a one-based counting system, and we sort of have learned to navigate both simultaneously. So that was really interesting to me to make a connection between history and programming and the fact that sometimes we count from zero, and sometimes we count from one. STEPHANIE: Yeah, I will have to admit that I always get confused when we're talking about centuries and making the mental connection that 19th century is the 1800s. It always takes me a bit of an extra second to make sure I know what I'm hearing, and I'm attributing it to the right year. I think another example where I get a bit tripped up is the numbering of floors because, in the U.S., we are counting floors using the one-based counting system, whereas I think in Europe and places outside of North America, to my knowledge, the first floor will be considered the ground floor, and then the second floor will be the first floor and onward. So that is a zero-based counting system that I can recall. JOËL: I never noticed there was a pattern. I just thought every building was arbitrary in where it counted from. STEPHANIE: Yeah, I do think it's a cultural thing. I would be really curious to know more about the history of how those counting systems get adopted. JOËL: So that's a fun thing that I've been exploring recently. What's new in your world, Stephanie? STEPHANIE: I am really excited to talk about a new real-life update. I started volunteering at the Chicago Tooele Library, which is a non-profit community lending library in my city for Chicagoans to borrow tools and equipment for DIY home projects. What I really like about it is they use a pay-what-you-can model so everyone can have access to these resources. It reduces the need for people to buy new things all the time, especially for little one-off projects. And they also provide education to empower folks to learn how to do things themselves, which I thought was really cool. And another thing that I think might be a little relevant to this audience is that I actually first encountered the Tooele library through its open-source software, which is a Ruby for Good project called Circulate. So the Tooele Library had previously been using this software that was built by community members to do all of their lending. And I got to see it in action when I saw a librarian use it to rent out tools to community members. And then I also interfaced with it myself as a member of the Tooele Library. I've borrowed things like saws, cooking appliances like air fryers that they also had. And when I was first a guest on this show, I borrowed a microphone from them to do this podcast because I was just a guest at the time and didn't want to commit to buying a whole new microphone, so that was a really awesome way that I got to benefit from it. JOËL: It's a fantastic resource for the community. STEPHANIE: Yeah, I love it so much. If anyone is in Chicago and wants to check it out, I highly recommend it. And even if you're not in Chicago, if the idea of a lending library interests you, you can check out the software on Ruby for Good. And it's no longer being used by the Chicago Tooele Library, but it would be really cool to see it be picked up by other people who might want to start something similar in their own hometowns. JOËL: So you mentioned you're volunteering here. So this means you're going in person and helping people check out items from the library. STEPHANIE: Yeah, I did my first volunteer librarian shift about a month ago, and right now, they're in the middle of moving from one location to another, so they've had a lot of in-person workdays to get some of that done. But even before that, I had contributed a little bit to the open-source repo, which is just a pretty standard Rails project, so I felt super comfortable with getting my feet wet in it. And it was, I think, my first open-source contribution. I find that some of the other open-source software, especially developer tooling, is a little scary to get into. So this was a really accessible way for me to contribute to that community, just leveraging the skills that I have for my day-to-day work. JOËL: Would you recommend this project for our listeners who are looking to maybe get their own first contribution in open source? STEPHANIE: The Circulate project is actually on a bit of a hiatus right now. But I would definitely suggest people fork it and play around with it if they want to. I also know that Ruby for Good has a bunch of other projects that are Rails apps and have real users and are having an impact that way. So if anyone wants to get into open source in a way that feels accessible and they're building a product that people are using, I definitely recommend checking that out. MID-ROLL AD: Debugging errors can be a developer's worst nightmare...but it doesn't have to be. Airbrake is an award-winning error monitoring, performance, and deployment tracking tool created by developers for developers that can actually help cut your debugging time in half. So why do developers love Airbrake? It has all of the information that web developers need to monitor their application - including error management, performance insights, and deploy tracking! 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You literally have nothing to lose. Head on over to airbrake.io/try/bikeshed to create your FREE developer account today! JOËL: So, as we're recording this, it's the end of the year. It's often a time of reflection and looking back on the year and maybe even thinking about the next year and progression. I'm curious since you said this was your introduction to the world of open source, do you think that working on open source is a critical way to advance our careers as software developers? STEPHANIE: That's a good question. Honestly, I think my answer would be, no, it's not critical. I think it's one avenue for people to explore and increase their impact on the community and increase their technical knowledge, especially if it's in an area that they are not quite working in in their day-to-day, but they're really interested in diving deeper in. But I do think there's sometimes a lot of pressure to feel like open source is this shining beacon of opportunity for you to dive into and that it'll bring a lot of meaning to the work that you do. And people, obviously, and for a good reason, talk about how special it is that open source is part of the industry that we work in, but I don't necessarily think it's critical. I do certainly feel inspired by people who create open-source tools or contribute to Ruby or Rails. But I don't necessarily think that it's something that should be a rule and that everyone needs to get into it or contribute to it. Because there are many ways that people can have an impact having influence on the community, and that way is one. But there's also a lot of value, even just focusing on the team that you're on and your company internally. JOËL: I appreciate the nuance there because I think like you said, we often view open source as the main thing that everyone should be doing to get ahead. And there are a lot of different ways to improve your skill and then to get ahead in your career, which are not always correlated. One kind of really basic way that I was shocked at how much it helped me was I was learning a new language, Elm. I joined their online Slack community and just hung out in the chat room and answered the most beginner questions because I barely knew the language at the time. And most of these could be found just by looking up the documentation or by opening up a REPL and experimenting with a thing and giving an answer, which are skills that, as a programmer who's got some experience, I take for granted but that not everyone has that as a reflex. Because Googling, searching documentation, crafting experiments in the REPL those are all skills that you have to learn to build over time. But answering those very basic questions over and over over the course of a few months actually taught me so much about the language, and I'm not doing anything fancy. STEPHANIE: That's awesome. I have a friend who, during a time when I think she was struggling with her confidence in her technical skill and was feeling a bit stuck at work, spent an afternoon answering Stack Overflow questions on basic Ruby and Rails, and that gave her a lot of joy. Because she recognized that she was the person Googling those questions and needing to find answers many years ago, and that was one way that she could pay it forward. And I think she had a lot of empathy, like I said, for those people who are needing a little help, and it felt really good for her to be able to provide it. JOËL: It's a way to have an impact on other people while also solidifying your own knowledge. STEPHANIE: Yeah, exactly. JOËL: So we've mentioned a couple of different ways where you can level up your skills, that might be through helping out other people online, that could be through open source. But I'd like to zoom out a little bit and look at not just improving your technical skills but thinking about career in general when you're looking out over the next 10, 20, 30 years. Do you have an approach that you like to take when you're thinking that broadly? STEPHANIE: For me, I have had trouble thinking about a five or 10-year plan because things often don't turn out the way that I envisioned them. And so I think I've come to realize that leaning into how I feel about things in any given moment is more valuable and oftentimes more accurate to what I really want. Because I can have an idea of what I want my career to look like, but the things that ring most true are what I'm feeling in the moment. And so you mentioned we're releasing this episode at the end of the year. I do tend to do a little bit of recap about how my year went if I spent it doing things that fulfilled me and made me feel good, if I grew in the ways that I wanted, even separate from any performance review. I know that this is a time of reflection for a lot of people. And I don't personally ascribe to New Year's resolutions, but I do like to think about themes or intentions. And those are things that ground me rather than setting particular goals that I may or may not achieve; I may realize I want to change. So yeah, I really recommend just sitting with yourself and spending time thinking about what you want, and that could mean a promotion, but that could also mean a more interesting project using new technology. It could mean more responsibility and decision-making power. It could mean a move into management. I think it's different for everyone. And so when people have asked me about advice or what they should do in terms of coming to a crossroads between jobs or between projects, I think that you really can't tell anyone else what is the right move for them; only they can decide. JOËL: And tech, it's such a broad field. There are so many different roles and paths you can take through it. Well, there's junior engineer, engineer one, engineer two, engineer three, that's just the same everywhere. And there's only one way forward; it's up or stagnation, and that's it. Like you really get to choose your own adventure in this industry, and that's exciting and maybe a little bit terrifying. STEPHANIE: Oh yeah, for sure. I like that you brought up the different levels and roles that you could have because I have found companies that provide a career ladder or engineering ladder that has been useful for me in the past in figuring out if the next step at the company that I'm at is what I want. And it's helpful. It's very clear to me, okay, these are the skills that I need to get promoted into this next level. But other times, that description describes something that I'm not interested in, and that is also really helpful information. JOËL: Was there ever a moment in your own career where you had to navigate some of these decisions to decide what path you wanted to take as opposed to just following a ladder up? STEPHANIE: Oh yeah. I was presented opportunities to start getting a feel for management or overseeing a team as a lead. And people had really great feedback for me that that was something that I had shown leadership in, and they thought I would do a great job in that role. But I actually decided to kind of hit the brakes a little bit on that particular route because what I realized I wanted at the time was to focus more on being an IC and deepening my technical knowledge. And that was really tough. I do also think that a lot of women are pushed into management because they end up doing a lot of the glue work that comes with unblocking people, supporting people, and project management and those are all skills that, like, quote, unquote, "lend themselves towards management." But just because we do that work doesn't necessarily mean that that's the direction that we want our careers to go in. And so that was a really tough thing that I had to do was to make it really clear that I wasn't quite ready for that yet. And I might be in the future, but in that moment, just standing my ground and being like, actually, I want to focus elsewhere instead. JOËL: That's really valuable, knowing yourself and knowing where you want to go, what the next step is. Are there any exercises you like to do to try to figure that out for yourself? Because I know something that I've struggled with sometimes is not being quite sure what I want. STEPHANIE: I journal a lot in my personal life and also about work. I think I tend to revisit that in my notes, especially about things I've learned or things that I felt excited about in terms of projects and what I've been unlearning, and just going through all of the things that I've collected over the year and synthesizing that information. I also really like to lean on my friends and peers. So I really enjoy a good one-on-one when we just talk about those types of things, you know, dreams, hopes, goals. I like to lean on my manager a lot, too, because oftentimes, they're able to see things about my work over the past year that maybe I was just too in the weeds to be able to have that higher level perspective about. As a third-party observer, they see a lot of things that you might not be able to, either on your current project or even opportunities for you to step into at a higher level in the company. So yeah, I think that, in some ways, it's a solitary activity, but it doesn't always have to be. JOËL: I remember having a really good conversation with my manager as well, at some point, talking about that decision of am I interested in maybe moving into the management track? Do I want to stay on the IC side of things? And that was a really good conversation to have. STEPHANIE: So after having those conversations and kind of figuring out what direction you wanted to go, were there times when you had to actively make that choice or advocate for yourself? JOËL: Yes. One of the things that I realized that I care about is investing in other people, and sort of the mentoring, supporting side of things which you might think is kind of a management activity. But management is a little bit different than that. I prefer the coaching aspect than the management aspect. And so what I wanted to do at some point once, I realized that that's what I wanted and that a management position would not fulfill that desire, I started looking to see is there a way to craft that role within the company? A common thing that happens, I think, in workplaces is that you are given roles or titles for things that you already do. Clearly, if there's something that I care about, I needed to be doing it already in my day-to-day work, and I needed to be doing it at a fairly high level. And so I focused efforts there, trying to say I want to get better at this. I want to do this in the opportunities that I do have in my current role. And then eventually, I did go to my manager and said, "Look, this is what I am looking for in the next step." Had a discussion about whether or not management could be a fit or if we could customize a management role for this, and eventually decided that an IC role would be a better fit for that. And among other things, we introduce at thoughtbot the role of principal developer, which is kind of the next step on our career ladder. It can be a little bit different emphasis for different people on the team who have that role, but, for me, a big part of that was putting more impact on the broader team as its focus. STEPHANIE: That's really cool. I really appreciate that you were able to come to the table with what you wanted and able to have a discussion about, okay, so management might not be the right fit. But how can we create this new role that not only benefited you but also benefited the rest of the company because that hadn't been an area that they had quite figured out yet. But by doing that, you essentially did exactly the kind of coaching and making an impact [chuckles] that you had also shared you had been wanting because you just opened this new door for others to also eventually work towards. And I think that's really awesome. That reminds me a lot of the idea of being directly responsible for yourself and your career. There's a really good blog post by a woman named Cate, who is an engineering director at DuckDuckGo. I'll link it to the show notes. But she writes a lot about how you have to own your own career and find opportunities to have that agency. And you can always ask. Like, you might not get everything that you want, but by asking and by bringing it up, you at least can start the conversation rather than expecting or just hoping that things will turn out the way that you want without having said anything. A couple of things that she says in the article that I also really like is the idea of expecting less from your job and more from your career. JOËL: Hmmm. STEPHANIE: At any given point, your job might not check all of the boxes, but maybe they check some, and that is worthwhile. And once you get to a point where maybe the job is not really doing anything towards the direction you want your overall career to go, that might be time to reevaluate. And then she also mentions learning from feedback and asking for feedback, and making sure that beyond the things that you're able to identify, learning from others areas that you can work on to have a better impact on your team is also really important in progressing your career quickly. JOËL: So how is this mindset of owning your career path maybe different than the default that a lot of people might assume in our industry? It sounds like it's a much more proactive approach. We talked already about doing the work to figure out what you want out of a career, what you care about, as opposed to just being told what you should care about by others. Are there other aspects that you have to sort of own as part of owning that career? STEPHANIE: I mean, I think it's just vital to having a work experience that is fulfilling and brings you joy and doesn't bog you down. I know we all have to work, but we also all have the capacity to exercise our agency there. I know we did talk a little about management earlier, and I wanted to also plug a book, "The Manager's Path" by Camille Fournier, which is about management. But she has a really excellent first chapter about how to be managed and what you can expect from having to be an employee with a manager but also what power you have in that dynamic. She says that while you can be given opportunities and have areas of growth pointed out to you, your manager can't read your mind, and they can't tell you what will make you happy. And so I have seen a lot of people spend time worrying about if they're doing the right things to get to the next level. But oftentimes, we just haven't really talked enough about how that next level is really totally different. And there are so many routes that that could take, whether that is becoming an open-source maintainer, or producing content like blog posts or podcasts even, or speaking at conferences, or management. Once I realized that there were so many different opportunities available to me, I did feel a bit liberated because it does seem like, oh, you're just supposed to level up your technical skills until you've become this superstar coder. But that's not what everyone wants, and I think that's okay. JOËL: And, like you said, there are so many different areas where you might choose to focus or invest time into, and you don't have to do them all. You don't have to be the super prolific open-source person, and also keynoting at conferences, and also publishing the book, and also, you know, whatever you want to add in there. So once you know your goals, how do you make those goals a reality? We've been talking a lot about know yourself and have some goals. But at some point, you have to translate those goals into actions that will take you one step at a time towards those goals, and sometimes that translation step is hard. STEPHANIE: It is hard. I think this is another place where I would work with my manager on, especially if I'm on a project where I'm not quite seeing those opportunities. Like I said, usually having another perspective or another set of eyes on what you're working on can make it clear, like, specific and concrete aspects that you can spend your energy on. So if it's wanting to get better at testing, it's like, okay, what does the current test suite look like, and what are some opportunities that you can provide new value to the test suite to make an impact on the team? Or what are some refactoring opportunities you can make if you are wanting to have more of that experience outside of the regular ticketed feature work that you have to do? JOËL: I think it's interesting that you mentioned impact on the team because not only do you want to level up some skills, but if nobody knows about it, your odds of getting that promotion or getting recognized for it are very low. So not only do you have to get good at technical systems, you have to get good at social systems as well. I was recently reading an article about the role of kingship in medieval Europe and how it's very much a role that needs to play out in public in order to build legitimacy so that people will do what you say. You need to be seen to do the things that everybody has in their mental kind of checklist are things that a good king does. And some of those are somewhat divorced from the reality of what actually is effective governance. It could be various public rituals that you do that people see and are like, oh yes, you're doing this parade every year. You're looking the part of a good king; therefore, I think of you as a good king. It could be military campaigns because there are a lot of those in the Middle Ages. And there's this interesting cycle where kings that have long and effective reigns then get to influence what the next generation of kings are going to have to do in order to look legitimate because people will point back at you and be like, well, Stephanie was an effective ruler, and she did X,Y,Z. And so, in order to look the part of an effective ruler, you should be doing those same things. STEPHANIE: That's fascinating. In some ways, I struggle with the idea that you have to prove that you're, you know, doing the kingly things and worthy of that title. But I do think that there is some degree of truth to that in your career as well, where you want to make sure that the work you're doing is visible. And you also just, in general, bring up a really good idea about the importance of leadership in career progression. And I think that in my experience, and from what I've observed, that is a vital way to progress your career is to just start demonstrating leadership qualities, and that could look like reaching out to new team members and helping them with onboarding. That could mean updating the documentation, just taking the initiative, and doing that. That could also mean starting to voice more of your opinions about risks or red flags about a certain technical implementation or a project because you have amassed the experience to be able to make those decisions and put in your two cents and then making sure that the choices that are made are the right ones. JOËL: Additionally, I think even when you're doing things that are a little bit more inward-focused, like learning something new, you can generally find some kind of artifact that you can take and share more broadly with a team. So maybe you experimented with something, and you wrote up a small code example to showcase the thing that you're trying out; make a Gist on GitHub and share it with your team. If you learn something new, maybe write a blog post about it. Maybe even just start a thread in Slack and start a conversation on something that you learned recently. These can be really low effort, but I always look for opportunities to take things that I have learned, things where I'm sort of working a little bit more inwardly on myself and see how can I share that with the rest of the team? Both because it benefits the team, they get to benefit from the impact of some of what you've done but also, it helps a little bit with making sure that your work is visible. STEPHANIE: Yeah, absolutely. JOËL: So we've been talking a lot about improving ourselves technically, but there's one question that we've danced around that we haven't actually addressed, and I'm curious about your thoughts here. For someone who's early career, do you think it's more valuable to be a specialist, someone who goes all in deep on one technology and becomes great at it? Or is it better to go more broad, become a generalist, and know a little bit about a lot of things? From the point of view of what will help move my career forward. STEPHANIE: I personally do think there is an aspect of being a generalist for a little while, a few years maybe, to get a taste of what is available to you. I think that is valuable before really committing to decide, okay, like, this is what I want to specialize in. Honestly, as a generalist myself, I still do feel a bit like I don't know what I want to dive deep into and commit myself a little bit to being like, okay, I'm going to have to sacrifice learning all of these other things to really focus on this one aspect. So I have found that being a generalist also kind of gives me the flexibility to work on different projects that might require learning a new language, or at least one that I am less familiar with. And I know that that's a skill in and of itself, being able to move on to different things and gather information and the skills you need to start contributing and working effectively quickly. So, honestly, I think I can really only speak to that experience, but it has served me well and is, for the most part, enjoyable to me at this present moment. What about you? Do you have any thoughts about generalist versus specialist? JOËL: I think, in a certain sense, there's no right answer. Like we said earlier, there are multiple paths to a career in tech, and you can go through both. I think something that I've seen be less effective, especially very early career folks, is trying to go too broad, jumping on every new language or framework every couple of weeks, every month, and just dipping your toe in it and then moving on to something else and never really learning deeply, or synthesizing, or building a mental model of things. And so you're kind of stuck in the shallow end forever, and it's hard to break through into that initial level of expertise. So I think, especially very early career people, I tend to recommend pick one language or technology and focus on getting good at that and then branch out. And, of course, you're never doing everything in a vacuum because there are a bajillion dev skills you need to learn beyond a language or framework. So I often categorize three areas to focus on that I like to recommend for people; one is pick a primary language or framework and get good at it. Two, learn some evergreen skills, these are things like version control, so Git, SQL, using the command line. And these are not things that you need to master on day one because you're going to use these your entire career. So learn a few things, move on, come back to them next month, learn a few more things, and just keep coming back there every now and then over the course of your entire career to deepen those skills, and that will serve you very well. And then, finally, some random thing you're interested in. I find that I learn so much faster and so much more deeply on topics that I'm interested in or passionate about. And that interest can be very random sometimes, and it can also be fleeting. It can be, oh, I was interested in a thing for a little bit, and I dug into it, and then I moved on to something else. If I have a career or learning plan, I like to leave that room for spontaneity to say there will be things that are maybe not strategically important as my next step, but I can learn them because I'm interested in them because they bring me joy. And then later on, maybe that will actually be the foundation of something important two years down the line where I can draw on that knowledge. STEPHANIE: You bring up a really interesting point. I do think my interpretation of generalist did line up more with the idea of those evergreen skills. So I think also about debugging and testing, and those are just part of the things that you're doing every day. And that might look different from project to project depending on what language or framework you're using and what testing philosophy people on your team abide by. But yeah, those are areas that I do think investing in will serve you well across projects and help put you in a position where you can jump into anything and be like, okay, I have these core foundational beliefs and skills about this work and now, okay, let me figure out how to apply them to the task at hand. JOËL: Are you familiar with the metaphor of the T-shaped developer? STEPHANIE: I don't think so. JOËL: So the idea is that you want to balance out a broad set of skills that you're a generalist at, that you know a little bit about them with a few things that you are a deep expert in. So you have that horizontal bar, but you also have a deep area of expertise which creates a kind of a T shape. In a sense, maybe that's just trying to say, like, do both. But I was recently reading an article that was advocating for not only a T-shaped developer as a sort of starting point but then also beyond that, over the course of a long career, you have plenty of opportunities to develop more than one specialization. And so now you start having a very broad base of general knowledge as well as multiple areas that you have spent significant time becoming an expert in. And this article referred to this idea as a comb-shaped developer, and that's something you work up to over the course of years or decades in tech. STEPHANIE: That's very cool. I love the idea that you might start out as a T-shaped but what you're doing is kind of like adding to your harness of skills and it being an additive process. You'd have more teeth in your comb [laughs] rather than it replacing something or a set of skills. On that note, shall we wrap up? JOËL: Let's wrap up. STEPHANIE: Let's wrap up. Show notes for this episode can be found at bikeshed.fm. JOËL: This show has been produced and edited by Mandy Moore. STEPHANIE: If you enjoyed listening, one really easy way to support the show is to leave us a quick rating or even a review in iTunes. It really helps other folks find the show. JOËL: If you have any feedback for this or any of our other episodes, you can reach us @_bikeshed, or you can reach me @joelquen on Twitter. STEPHANIE: Or reach both of us at hosts@bikeshed.fm via email. JOËL: Thanks so much for listening to The Bike Shed, and we'll see you next week. ALL: Byeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!! ANNOUNCER: This podcast was brought to you by thoughtbot. thoughtbot is your expert design and development partner. Let's make your product and team a success.