Production Ready podcast

Production Ready

Glenn Stovall

Production Ready is a podcast that decodes human relationships that drive software businesses. Learn how to debug your office relationships and optimize your career trajectory for performance. Hosted by Glenn Stovall

20 episodios

  • Production Ready podcast

    Hiring and developing others w/ Kate Izell

    40:59

    Show Links Izell Marketing The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It  The Birkman Method Mike Harrell - Latitude Advisors TranscriptGlenn Stovall: [00:00:00] Hey everyone. I'm here with Kate Izell, who runs a remote digital marketing agency here in Chattanooga, Tennessee. And we're here today to talk about making the transition from being a solo freelancer to a business owner, running an agency. How are you doing today? Kate Izell: [00:00:12] I'm doing well. How are Glenn Stovall: [00:00:13] you   doing great.Great. we were talking earlier that you're helping someone else who was a developer, grow their business from, they were an individual freelancer and there's, you're helping them level up. to more of an agency and a business. Is that right? Kate Izell: [00:00:29] Yeah. That's something that we're early stage working on right now.Glenn Stovall: [00:00:34] And,  yeah. So  what was the sort of inflection point that led to wanting to make that leap for your friend? Kate Izell: [00:00:42] I guess it's. Similar to a lot of people where they come to this realization of, I do have a lot of independence as a freelancer. and I do like my phone stability and control, but there is a sense of, there's a little bit of a sense of instability with it.when you're a freelancer, you can really only stretch your resources so far. and then when you start thinking, if I get a whole team, I can Close more of these, retainer contracts or, be more confidently onboarding these larger projects that will pay out over, several months or years.so I think in this particular case, there was certainly some of that, of course there's so just this, the, or of an individual, some people are more risk averse to what that might. Look and then some are just ready to jump into something exciting. But I think in this case it was, he's seeing that he has the skills and abilities and an actual business owner and is realizing he likes those parts.I think there's also, there's commonly this idea that, I really like doing the work. I don't want to stop doing the work and manage other people. I love this stuff and then I don't get to do it. And then you the people who do make the transition find actually I really the management side, cause it's very satisfying to see a cohesive team function really well.And it starts Oh yeah, I think I want to be here. Cause you do get to jump in when you want to and get involved or get in the weeds when it makes sense. But, it's not expected in a day in day out and I think there's some comfort there too. Glenn Stovall: [00:02:18] Oh yeah, for sure. And yeah, it's very much like correct.The book that E-Myth revisited talks about, that how, if you are ever someone who bakes pies and you want to open a bakery, you'll spend so little of your time in the kitchen. Kate Izell: [00:02:31] Yeah, but, Glenn Stovall: [00:02:32] yeah, I'm want to zoom it. The first you talked about being risk adverse, what are some of the risks you think people take on when they're trying to make this leap?Kate Izell: [00:02:41] the risk is, It can get fairly, personal, because some of the risks are, if I make this leap, now I'm in control of someone else's income or someone else's the livelihood, essentially. Yeah. That affected me. just because I, I care about people when I know them like a care a lot and.there was this kind of moment of wait if I'm paying someone's salary, then literally if I fire them, they might have to go on unemployment. there's this sort of fear around having control like that. Of course, I'm not, you're not the end all be all, but I think that's part of it is I'm accountable for more lives.That's how it feels. and there's also just the risk of the, it feels risky. Yeah. Have go into the unknown, you get used to handling a handful of projects here and there, but, you know structurally things have to change once you start scaling and you don't really know what those changes look like until you make mistakes and have to.fix them and then come up with new systems to make sure it doesn't happen again. Glenn Stovall: [00:03:40] Yeah. It reminds me of a, there's an article I read somewhere that talks about when you start running a business, it's not so much that you ever solve problems. it's the, when you solve problems, you don't have fewer problems.You've just won bigger and better problems for yourself. Kate Izell: [00:03:54] Yeah. And sometimes the problems are a lot scarier. Yeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:03:58] So how did you tackle it when you started hiring on full time employees? Like, how did you deal with that fear of, Oh, no. Now I'm responsible for someone's Kate Izell: [00:04:06] livelihood. Yeah. the point for me was.So I was a freelancer. Most of my work was, paid advertising, like digital advertising. And so it's really easy to get kind of retainer clients like that because it's like, there's no point that they don't need to advertise themselves. either they've already done it before and they know they need someone reliable to keep doing it, or they haven't tried and they get in there and they realize, Oh, I can make money doing this, but either way, it's pretty reliable income.So I wasn't really worried about that. Like the financial part, but, the thing that really pushed me was that I realized I'm really tired of doing this work. I was just like, this was my job. This is what I had to do at my last job. And I'm doing it as a freelancer and now it's been several years and it's interesting, but I have very diverse interests.So I was very, I was all about, what's the next thing, what's the next challenge. And so I was interested in the challenge of what does it look like to hire somebody, but I was extremely slow and hesitant on the process. My first full time hire actually worked for me as a contractor.For about a year before I hired her full time. and then it was like another year until I got another full time employee. And then once you get a couple, it becomes more natural to, see, okay, we have these in the pipeline. when this thing closes, I'm going to be hiring for this position.And it becomes more natural at that point, but it's certainly, it was very slow, it took probably like three years to say, okay, I have two actual employees now. and of course in our digital world, you end up using a lot of contractors and partnering with people. It's like closing the gaps until you have that reliable team.And that's also part of the challenge is knowing who are you? Who should you actually hire versus who should just be a contractor? And that's one that I feel like I'm constantly uncertain about. Glenn Stovall: [00:06:07] who should be an employee versus contractor? Kate Izell: [00:06:10] A lot of it for me is because it's a service business.So much of service is just really good client communication and management. of course, internal project management, but the client facing stuff can become. Very involved. obviously that to a degree depends on the client and the service, but for the most part, when they're investing, certain amounts, for us, we have very small clients that don't invest a lot.And then others that invest quite a bit and you never know which client is going to care so deeply about that dollar they spend, sometimes we'll have a small client, or what we've considered small and we have to be very high touch. And we spent a lot of time to help them understand what's going on.and so that unknown of onboarding a new project or a new client, and then knowing, okay. Someone has to be at the head of making sure these people, have expectations set that they feel cared for. just the whole laundry list of things that we need to be careful about. that's the part of the business that I can't outsource.Like I really can't because it very much reflects back on the company. and there has to be a company tone and. A sort of definition around what is this active client management look like? cause it can really make or break a relationship and in some cases, so I have found if I'm hiring, it's going to be someone that does quite a bit of client facing.I've tried hiring for individuals that were a little bit more behind the scenes, but I think I've ultimately found those make a lot more sense as contractors, because they are really just extensions of our internal process. But once I get into, okay, you're going to really handle this.High level, like all facets of this component, like that needs to be a full time person. I've tried outsourcing that before and that did not work out well. So again, this goes back to what I said before is the growing pains of you, just things go wrong and you realize, Oh, there was, that has taught me some truism about how this should actually be done that you can't really know until you go through that.Glenn Stovall: [00:08:21] Yeah. Yeah. For sure. what are some other growing pains that you've experienced or seeing with others? Kate Izell: [00:08:28] I've said before in my own experience that, it starts getting scary on the cashflow side. Once you go from freelance to agency. So as a freelancer, you Expect that there are going to be some months where, I'm in a dip, I might have projects on hold, but I just don't have as much coming through my pipeline or I'm not getting that as many referrals or whatever it is.and then some months where you just flush and get like big payments all coming through. And so you learn how to manage that. okay, here's my basic expenses as an individual. Here's how I need to plan out my finances. But at the point where you start actually. Scaling a UN agency, and these like higher dollar amounts start coming in and you start increasing your expenses by hiring people and getting contractors.that part, I think is a so whole learning curve, because if you didn't know much about business before, you're very much, Forced if, I would say encouraged if you haven't done it, but you really want to understand business finance at that point, like understanding your actual accounting reports and things like that.and in my case, hiring to get someone to manage that full time, there does come a point where it makes sense for something that. Complex to be like very diligently managed by somebody. So that's another part of the growing pain is not just, okay. I need to make sure I have the right people for these services, but also how do I make sure operationally like administratively on my business that things are being handled.and so that crops up at some point we were like, okay, I can't manage this anymore. Yeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:10:02] And you mentioned cashflow, that's something I've wondered about because I, I freelance for about five years at a point in my career and I. I, I have subcontractors here and there and thought about, could I scale this?But the sorta Canyon I always got stuck on is, you need these bigger clients in these very cashflows to be able to hire employees, but you also need employees so that you can be confident that you can handle that amount of work. Kate Izell: [00:10:27] So Glenn Stovall: [00:10:29] w what do you do? Kate Izell: [00:10:31] Yeah, that's why it was so slow for me.Is there's, when you're thinking about cashflow, fortunately for, the knowledge work that we do that has very low overhead, like most of what we would have to pay for is really just, people's time. some tools, but tools are generally a much lower expense. So yeah, that, the biggest thing that becomes a risk in terms of cashflow is if I hire somebody or even just starting, Some sort of agreement with a contractor you like that can sometimes be so substantial.but for that was definitely the challenge I experienced, for me, part of it was as a freelancer, if you're starting to think about becoming or building an actual agency or something like that, it becomes, okay. I need to start thinking about the money I'm bringing in freelancing as.You know that buffer I need for my cash. Hello. When I am ready to hire, like I have to be thinking about keeping this in my business. and not thinking about it as my money coming into the business, you have to start actually CA like compartmentalizing when I get income. And after I pay all my expenses, and once I set aside what I'm going to need to pay for taxes, what realistically, should I be paying myself?And what should I keep? in my business account, because of course, as a freelancer, it's all your technically, you can, you're using it as an independent contractor yourself. but you have to shift your mentality and start planning that way. I think that's the easiest way to do it as almost like a budgeting, between what you're now considering your future agency and you're yourself, as an individual making income.And that mentality has to shift at some point before you actually go into that scaling mode. but also it can help if you. Can get lucky enough to sign, on a client that pays more, but doesn't require as much time. obviously you have the better hourly rate you can get out of something. The more buffer that you're going to have, in your account to hire, because you do have to consider things like, onboarding costs and the fact that you're going to be.paying payroll taxes, new taxes start coming into play once you start hiring people. and then you have to think about, employee retention, are you going to offer benefits and what are they? And that stuff really starts adding up. I've commented before that we offer, healthcare benefits.I'm just like, wow. If employers didn't have to pay for healthcare, I could hire a whole other person for my company. It gets so expensive. So things like that, you just don't realize how much those costs can snowball. So you have to go into this like super frugal mentality around the exciting thing about freelancing is, Oh, I feel like I can make endless income, but then it's you can't think that way anymore once you start making that shift to agency.Glenn Stovall: [00:13:22] Yeah. Yeah. I think a lot of people don't realize that with their payment than what in your salary, even before taxes is probably like. Maybe like 50, 60% of what it costs to hire you depending on the company. Kate Izell: [00:13:35] Absolutely. Glenn Stovall: [00:13:36] Yeah. especially in the, before times then you'd have to factor in things like office rent and equipment desks.Kate Izell: [00:13:42] Yeah. even as a remote agency will purchase the, desks computers, we just find creative ways to get them shipped to these people's homes, but we provide all of that. Cause it's, we're trying to think in terms of. If they're doing this work for us, we want that equipment that they would normally have in an office.because there's a lot of perks for the individual, the employee to work remote. but it's not as great when you feel like you have to do all the work to make it feel like, you have a space. it's okay. like here, I'm going to hire you full time. If you can't afford a desk, sorry, I guess you can just work on your couch. So we cover all of that, but that's all stuff that we had to think through. we now have these ranges of, okay, this is what it costs to onboard a with an employee. And here's, it includes things like each piece of equipment. what do we already have ready or stored away.and of course, thankfully we, we personally hire Very understanding and very flexible employees that are like, okay, I understand this is like a small business that, we're a bit scrappy, so everything's not going to be like super, corporate in terms of, everyone gets the same exact, monitor or whatever.and they're really understanding about us just going through some of these growing pains, especially the earlier employees. Glenn Stovall: [00:15:06] Oh, yeah. Yeah. some people just love being like the early adopter, the sort of employee one through 10 is a very Kate Izell: [00:15:12] different, and then you don't, you might not like it as much when you make it several years in and you're, you don't have any authority over time.That's actually something that has very much occurred to me is if I'm hiring people and keep them around, I can put myself in their shoes and think. I want there to be a point where I feel like I've really grown a lot here and that's reflected in yeah. My position, and my authority within the company.And so that's actually a big, a very satisfied part of the job I like is that I, actively. pursue what that looks like for each person. Some people do not want that. some people really are just like, no, I just want to keep doing it. Yes. I don't want to, I don't want to be in management. I don't want to, I just want to do this thing.I really liked. And of course I want to check in with those people and see if that attitude changes. Cause I know when I started in my career when I was 23, 24, very different mentality than I have now about like, How business works and what I actually enjoy, I had a notions about what I liked and notions about what I didn't like, but, your preferences change and your understanding changes.Try to keep tabs on that too. But I think that's the most fun part is not just having the business group, but watching how other, like each person develops, like how much of that is my decision as in terms of running the business and how much it's like giving them the creative space.So go into a natural direction. Glenn Stovall: [00:16:39] Yeah. I really liked, radical candor's model on that with people they. they talk about people being either rockstars or superstars and not in the Silicon Valley job posting sense, but rockstars are people who solid as a rock and they really like being good at their craft and doing whatever it is they do.And superstars are like you said, people who want to grow and authority and responsibility at their. They're wherever they are, they're working. And not that one's not better or worse than the other, just different people have different intrinsic motivations and at different points of your career. Kate Izell: [00:17:14] I think you need both really.there's always gonna need to be someone who is the rock. who's like really reliable and you just know I can pull this person in and things will get handled, because I think the superstar. People are, I guess in the corporate world, we would consider them the ones that like climb the ladder or whatever, but those exist in other space.People like that. I exist. I'm one of those people and I don't want to work in it. I've never worked corporate. But I do climbing to, different sort of levels of achievement or trying new things, just Glenn Stovall: [00:17:47] entrepreneurially. Kate Izell: [00:17:49] Yeah. but it doesn't have to be that kind of corporate version and it can just be like constantly, trying different things or what's the next level of what I'm doing.And am I interested in that or I'll dabble with it. but I have certainly learned that. There's a lot of value in having that sort of, I consider the rock stars, like the extreme loyalists. Like they are a very hard to lose once they're very comfortable. Like they like their flow. They like. The they feel challenged enough and that's like all they need.there, I think from what I've observed seemed like much harder for companies to poach. Once they're like super complacent and feel like they're valued. Then they'll just stick around. I think those are great employees. but I do think the superstar, but it did want to mention that. what I found interestingly is when I, when I started growing, I really wanna, intentionally wanted to hire women, specifically just cause I have personally had, felt very limited, in my growth opportunities when I was managed by men.And so I was really interested in what. What if I could just give other way an opportunity to be managed by a woman? Not that I'm a great manager, but I was just very interested in that notion. and what I have found is I hire women who are very intelligent, like extremely sharp, but do not have this natural drive to.even though they have very much like a super star potential, I guess you could say, or, like that from someone else's, you might be a very clear path for them. it doesn't occur to them to pursue that. And I think part of that is honestly, some level of socialization for women who have worked in very male dominated environments is that kind of gets suppressed out of them.where they think, Oh, the guys get promoted anyway. So I'll just stay in my lane. And then, what I have found is I have to introduce them to this idea of being the superstar of Hey, this actually could be something you do, you don't have to, just know it's an option.And in some cases I've presented that and it's actually they were like, Oh, okay. And then they, Thought about it and realized, Oh, Hey, that actually is totally what that's me. I do want to do that. so I actually do have an employee that is very much like superstar track and it's taken quite some time, I think, for her to leave this mentality of one little piece of the puzzle that just exists and supports and saying, no, you have like real leadership potential.But that's, I think that's worth mentioning just because I think it's important for leaders or managers to identify, That sometimes you really have to coach someone there when they don't recognize it. either because there could be a number of reasons, socialization, or I don't know, I'm not a psychologist, but it's something that I noticed.I was just curious about it. Hey, I think this person could actually do more. and I just kinda gave that option out there and ended up being what she needed. and I'm just glad that happened because I don't know how often that happens. Other places I just haven't witnessed. Enough to know.Glenn Stovall: [00:21:00] Yeah. am that's awesome. Like just, based on my personal experience is that kind of management investing in your employees is a rare, incredibly rare. yeah. So I guess, yeah. What can managers do to do better about encouraging their employees like that? Kate Izell: [00:21:15] I think it helps too.I know, cheesy to do those, business personality, assessment things. I know they're really common in corporate spaces, but I don't know that they're used as, as well as they could be. It's like when someone says, Oh, I am an Enneagram eight or whatever. and then they just think that.Stat represents facts about themselves versus like actually applying or demonstration. this is how that manifested life or how it gives me perspective on particular things. I see that similarly where they churn now these corporate personality things. but we actually do use one of those.We use the Birkman method. I work with a local business consultant. His name is Mike Carroll. actually would love to plug him Mike Carroll. He's a business consultant and he used to work for Firestone, back in corporate Firestone way back when they first started like telecommunications. Yeah.Internet, but he's just really empathetic, sharp guy. And, he's the Birkman method and it really, I think helps identify strengths of people that you wouldn't know. Glenn Stovall: [00:22:26] what is the main message? Can you give us a quick, like Kate Izell: [00:22:30] yeah. The Birkman method is, an assessment that basically, has these sort of they all have these four quadrant things.but it puts you categorically in a business in terms of whether you're more of a, what we would consider the Dewar. which is more of an extroverted quality, communicator, also an extroverted quality. I think one is an analyzer. which is of course, introverted. And then I can't remember the other one, the fourth one is like a lot of developers, like really wanting to be more problem solving and independent.but you map these based on your usual interests, your, natural behaviors as well as your needs. so your, each of those falls into some quadrant and it could be all on the same one or all three different. So me, for example, my usual behavior falls into the Dewar quadrant. So like I really like getting things done and working through tasks pretty quickly.but my interest is in the, Oh, the strategy quadrant. Sorry. That's what I meant there. Analyzer is the developer one strategy is, is considered a little bit more of the introverted, creative type, So it's like I span these sort of extrovert, introverted things, and then your needs fall into one.The needs part is supposed to help where, especially in, communication and understanding how to work together, you don't necessarily know what somebody needs because they present a certain way. But you don't necessarily see. So for example, I present very assertive. and in some ways, have been told that sometimes that can be intimidating, I think because of that.but I'm actually extremely sensitive. And that shows up in my needs that people think that they can just be very assertive with me and that, because that's how I operate. and they don't understand that I can be hurt very easily. and so that's really cha historically it's been challenging for me, cause I didn't quite understand that, I knew that things hurt my feelings, but I didn't think about it.wow, I present a certain way and people don't even understand this about me unless I say it. so that kind of stuff actually comes out. So it like really gets an enmity gritty of like fine tuning your communication as a team. but I mentioned that. your original question was like, how do you identify that?Like being able to like better manage and coach people, things in these reports, as I learn about them from my, business advisor, my Akil explain what it means. And so when I see something in someone else, like this particular employee I'll see aspects in it, that's this is a great empathetic leader.she operates as a supporter, but she has a lot of potential in her report for leadership. that, she, she didn't even realize, so that became a helpful tool. that's like a tangible way to approach it. Otherwise it's just Use your intuition. It's like, all I can say is get to know your people really well.and listen and ask them questions and give them opportunities to try stuff. Yeah. Don't, don't feel like you have to locks them into like their priorities or whatever. I know that's challenging because you also don't want to exploit people. There's this idea that some people get stretched into so many different roles and then they're still only paid for one.I think it's like you want some in between where you give them these growth or learning opportunities, if that becomes a serious thing and it develops, obviously you want to think about their compensation, with that and keep that in mind. if you are encouraging people to grow up, be thinking, okay, there's a point I'm about to pay them more and be ready for that.you shouldn't want to pay or people who are. Definitely a mentality you have to have, if you're going to go from freelancer to agency is, I cannot think about number one, if I'm, That can be a big deciding factor if you're not sure to be a freelancer or run an agency, know that if you start running an agency, there could be a point where, the best choice is just stop, pay yourself, on a given month, if it's best for the company and best for everybody else and keeping your team strong, you have to think about I'm the one that needs to take that hit first and you have to be ready to, I guess they call that servant leadership of.No always going in and taking the fall when it has to happen. yeah. And making sure you're supporting your team. Because otherwise you end up being that boss that everybody hates. I think we know those. Yeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:26:41] And the, the other thing too about talking about the mindset shift is if you're giving your employees some room to experiment, then you're also giving up a lot of control, which can be really scary, especially like you said, it's very, like you said, like how those clients, those relationships are incredibly important.Kate Izell: [00:26:58] Yup. That's a really good point because something that you inevitably experience every single time you pull someone in and give them that level of authority to be client facing or. trust them with conveying ideas. and that represents, the company. there's always in my experience, there's always some level of growing pains through that.because it takes time for the individual to understand your company culture and, and in some cases you're hiring somebody that hasn't done this before, it just depends on what you're hiring for. but I do think that can be scary. I personally feel like something like that happening or getting messed up is redeemable.I feel comfortable going into fix it mode with that kind of stuff, but I can see where that could be really. Scary and nerve wracking, especially when you're early on, maybe with that transition. And you're used to, let's say you've been freelancing with a client and you've been working with them for two years and you want to introduce someone else in, cause you're ready to grow.that kind of transition I've experienced can be really a little scary. Cause you, you find that you're like, okay, I want to make this transition smooth. So I'll still be involved. But you have to keep being involved, but less and less, like you have to actively remind yourself to pull away and, defer to the other person.this is, I don't know if totally in context, but this is, it's a nice trick I really to use is if you are used to a, especially as a freelancer, if you're the one that's been communicating with the client for awhile, or you've built up really good rapport. And you want to bring in a new account manager.What you need to do is, have the account manager involved behind the scenes, have them have some really clear success case studies. So like in our case, it would be, let's say we bring in a new account manager for a like Google ads account. we have them, in the account, we're a guide we're working alongside the, but they identify opportunities.We encourage them. That sounds great. Go ahead and test it out. If they get some successes out of that and we get to relay those success to the client, then what I'll do is just say, Hey, I actually pulled in, so and so into this account to really help out. And they thought of all these good ideas. I'm going to have them go ahead and share that with you.And then what it does is it allows them to come in We'll call this cool stuff or all this potential is here. And I identified it as the new person and it makes the client immediately think, Oh wow, this person really knows what they're doing, or this person can really take me to the next level.and it makes it a lot easier to just hand it off because you come out the gate with look how strong this person is. So you want to internally kind of orchestrate that to a degree don't manufacture it. Like you legitimately want the person to have like case studies. but I have done that to her, I think repeatedly, because it is so successful, they start automatically thinking, wow, this person really knows what they're doing.Cool. I'm going to keep listening to them. Glenn Stovall: [00:29:49] Yeah, that sounds like an awesome way to set them up for success and get them started in a positive light with the client. and as you're talking and about, moving from your clients as you're starting this process, how did you communicate your.I guess branding for a lack of a better word. Cause I'm just thinking back when I freelance, like people worked with Glen, it'd be hard to be like, Oh, you're like, are they working with Kate? And now it's ISEL marketing. How did you? Kate Izell: [00:30:13] Oh, that's interesting because I actually, when I started freelancing, I called it sell marketing group.I already gave it this sort of agency name, not intending to make it an agency. the reason I did it is because I wanted it to sound more reputable than just this random person doing my ads. And because I didn't know, there could be times that I might work with a contractor. I didn't have thoughts that I would, grow and develop a company.But I did have thoughts that I might partner with people and it would be more of like an actual group effort. So that's why I named it that way. But I did not name it thinking I'm going to have an agency. so you know, that actually wasn't relevant in my case, cause I already gave it a name. I think that to answer the question, I think what happened is, you would, if you have those clients that you're freelancing, you would say, you know what.You've been. So you've been so great to work with and you've been so such a big part of my kind of operation building. you can be just very transparent with clients and they'll actually be really excited. cause I have found, even when we hire some of our longterm clients will be excited.Oh, you got another person like. They are aware that means you're growing and you're succeeding. so I feel like you can just be really sure the spirit when you're freelancing and say, Hey, I'm here more people on. And I'm, in that process, swaying to be really diligent about continuing to provide as good or better quality.and you can even ask Hey, I love your, just some candor about what that, if you notice something goes wrong, like front with me, if you do notice that not being cared for as much, I think that can go far as just being super upfront about it, because usually when you're freelancing, if it's just, you do really build that sort of personal connection.With your client anyway, where I think it's appropriate to come at it that way. Glenn Stovall: [00:32:05] Yeah. No, that makes total sense. That was really good. Kate Izell: [00:32:07] Anything Glenn Stovall: [00:32:08] else you'd want to share with developers out there who might be at this point in their career? Kate Izell: [00:32:12] Yeah, I actually did want to, I came in here wanting to talk a bit about a development specifically going from freelance developer to, maybe forming a development agency.I think that maybe a challenge, a lot of. And I might be projecting a little bit because I do have a lot of developer friends as but, and my father's a developer, so I like, I feel like I very much care. Like I have a lot of care for this community. and I've worked with them a lot, but what I just notice is, the developer at his core who really loves just programming and problem solving, If he's making that transition to running an agency, it does mean that he really cares about, building solutions.he's an, he has to really make a decision around. What does my role look like? And it doesn't have to look like, okay, now I'm running my company. I don't get to be a developer anymore. I think what's cool is about, some developer I've worked with are ones that have made that transition.they get to decide those rules for themselves, about what parts of my business is me strictly being like. Mrs manager operations. and what parts do I really get to guard and say, okay, this is me. So being a developer, I think that it's very fair for you to make those rules yourself. And I would think that developers, Probably would intuitively want to do that anyway, but might not know what that looks like or like how realistic that is because they haven't maybe experienced business yet.but I think that also, making that transition one challenge is usually you make this transition because you're really good at getting referrals. So as a developer, a lot of people keep sending you business because you actually like. No, what you're doing and can deliver. and then clients don't get mad at you later or within the process as often as in other cases.and if that's the case, what can happen and is your referred stuff that you maybe. Would not necessarily take on otherwise, like it wouldn't be a project you would pursue, I guess we'll put it that way. very commonly you might be sent like, Oh man, I have this, former colleague that.Told me, they had this company build an app, and they just found out like, XYZ issues with it, but they had no idea. And so they are like desperately looking for a, a better partner for this kind of stuff. Or, that's probably a scenario that happens a lot. and so then you get handed that and you're like, okay, I could do this, but maybe I would rather my, development agency focus on, building ground up solutions.Maybe I don't want to just be like putting out fires every single day. I think. To enjoy your work as a developer, you need at least some healthy mix of that, of like I'm actually crafting and creating solutions versus just fixing junk that other people have ruined. Because I, you know that, unfortunately I think you can easily get bogged down in that.that kind of work. So that's what I'm thinking is if you're in that position of going from freelancer to agency is it's probably going to be more natural. You can become an agency by potentially getting these contracts. are going to help pay the bills are certainly going to get a lot of billable work, but might not really be the kind of thing you want to do.I think that there's plenty of opportunity out there to, I'm talking from a marketing perspective, cause I'm a marketing background. there are so many places out there to just get in front of conversations where people have not actually, been like. Dumped on with some sort of dumpster fire, like they're at the beginning stage.and I think there can be a marketing approach to get more of those opportunities because those are not going to come through as organically. They will hopefully to a degree, but that's the thing is when you're completely re rely on referrals, just take what comes. I experienced that in my agency.We get referrals all the time and I have to get better and better at just being like, okay, this is, this is a good marketing opportunity, but no, that's not really what we want. and learning how to discern it actually fits, What we want to do. So I think when you go into agency, you should consider it's okay to say, what do I actually want to be doing?at some point it's okay to say, I don't want that junk. Yes. It pays my bills, but that's not what I want. What does it mean to actually identify a solution to getting in front of opportunities? That would be, much more exciting for my team. something that we feel like we can really put our stamp on something.We would feel confident, like making a case study out of, like that kind of stuff. Glenn Stovall: [00:36:49] Yeah. It's yeah. I ex I feel like all, like all client dollars you make aren't the same. You definitely wanna find projects where you said you can get good case studies and get some kind of, I think it's counterintuitive that as you advance, you get specialized.It's like picking a major in college that you. It sounds like it would cut you off from clients, but it actually tends to have the opposite effect. Kate Izell: [00:37:10] Yeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:37:11] It's then it's Oh, at the dev agency, what do they do? they build stuff. Just for example, I know an agency in Atlanta and they're like, we build Shopify stores and I think they've actually, now that we just do Shopify premium clients and that helps a lot.Cause it's a such a clear. positioning for you and what you do. Kate Izell: [00:37:32] Cause the market's there you've come down, you've come up with a system, we have found if we use these sort of like boilerplate templates, we can get this done in six weeks and I was going to cost, if you can plan that as a business owner, it's much more comforting.So it makes a lot of sense to me that companies do that. That they try all these different things and they're like, you know what? This thing makes more money. It's less of a headache, some other stuff. So therefore that's just going to be the thing we doubled down on it. and that's, point because, people will ask.Ask my it and see Oh, are there just certain types of companies you work with or are there just certain this or that? cause they think like there must be some really special niche that you're doing. but in our case we, a differentiator, I guess it's not really a differentiator, but coming into this, even as a freelancer, I was like, I just really challenging projects, like ones where.There's a clear challenge ahead or so much is unknown, but there's so much opportunity to capture data and understand it. Like we just take on stuff where that opportunity is. And sometimes that looks like a healthcare company. Sometimes that looks like a small online retail store. like it completely covers any sort of size and type of company, but each time it's like a.It's a solution that, in some cases that's very, or a problem that some sometimes has very similar solutions. It's just catered to their, their business messaging or their approach. and that's the fun part is like taking all these same tools and using them in dramatically different ways for different companies.And that's the fun part to me. so I think there's. in developer world, there's some parallel to that of okay, we're going to be, say language or platform agnostic. We just want this kind of solution, to put out there. We know that we love crafting this kind of solution. So what does that, what's the problem that meets and how do we identify those opportunities?and it doesn't have to be that your niche is, Oh, we work with. The, just logistics and we build like CSM or something. it's actually gonna maybe be like, we just really like crafting solutions for these types of problems. And then you just find where people are searching for solutions to that kind of problem, then you can in front of it.Glenn Stovall: [00:39:46] Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Kate Izell: [00:39:49] Cool. Glenn Stovall: [00:39:49] yeah, sounds great. Is there anything else that you wanted to share or talk about? Kate Izell: [00:39:53] Man I could talk all day, Glen talker. Glenn Stovall: [00:39:58] Alright. I think we're wrapping up for there. Maybe we'll have you back on for future episode, but, yeah. Kate Izell of Izell marketing. Thanks again for your time.Kate Izell: [00:40:04] Thank you, Glen. 
  • Production Ready podcast

    Writing your own narrative & using code strategically w/ Tom Critchlow

    40:54

    Tom [email protected] Links The Strategic Indepentent  Permissionless Identities (Little Futures article about writing mentioned ~30 seconds in) Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career The Consultant's Grain RemoteOK.io is a single PHP file called "index.php" generating $65,651 this month. No frameworks. No libraries (except jQuery) Squad Wealth The Economic Power of Real-time Chat Spaces Fourth-Wave Consulting The Yak Collective F*** Yeah Side Projects! TranscriptionGlenn Stovall: [00:00:00] All right. Hey everyone. I'm here with Tom Critchlow. He's an independent consultant and he is working on a book called the strategic independent. He's sharing his writing online right now. You can find a link to that in the show notes. How are you doing today, Tom? Tom Critchlow: [00:00:13] I'm doing well. How are you doing? Thanks having me on the show.Glenn Stovall: [00:00:16] Oh yeah, I have you on here. And speaking with writing, I want to start with something I saw you tweeting about. I think it was yesterday. You were talking about writing a piece on the power of internet writing and using that to shape your career and identity. Tom Critchlow: [00:00:29] So Glenn Stovall: [00:00:30] I'd say all of that's coming along. And if you had any sort of thoughts in that space or preview you on to share.Tom Critchlow: [00:00:35] Yeah, actually by the time this podcast goes out, that piece will be up. It's going to live tomorrow, as we're recording this. So for my newsletter, little futures, which I write with my friend, Brian, little futures is a near future, exploration looking at kind of the changing landscape of work, and strategy work in particular, through the lens.Because I'm not going to big features, which are these, manufactured, abstract realities, but more like little teachers, which kind of things that are here. And now today that we can do, to meet the future where it is. And I have a post going out tomorrow, called permissionless identities, which, Explores the idea of, it's like old world of career change, where there was this kind of idea that, when you figure out what do you want to do with your life?You lock yourself in a room, we'll go for a walk in a desert, do some holiday thinking and then, figure out where you want to be. And then go do that, could chase it with a series of deliberate actions. and I read this book, working identity. I, how many, Ibarra pronouncing your name correctly?and in that book, working identity, she outlines a whole bunch of, alternative or different ways to think about Raymond's and your career. And, a lot of them boil down to this idea that, a sense of identity, he is not fixed iterative and multiplicative. So we have multiple identities at once and those synths, those identities evolve and change over time.And that the way to reinvent your career. and in this book, how many, I actually explore as a bunch of case studies, in a kind of academic sense of individuals who have undergone career change. and she looks at this idea that actually, taking action, like doing things deliberately in the world.and then. And then using that feedback loop to do new things, new experiments, do ideas, is the thing that gets you into a kind of career reinventions kind of big career changes, big life changes. and right that I had read in that book, the book is wonderful. I really recommend it. But the insight that I had is that, the internet and network writing, which is just a fancy name for blogging and sending an email and sometimes tweeting and so on network writing, has you already enabled this idea?All right. Taking deliberate experiments, trying on new identities for size and then deliberately networking those and circulating those new, new networks, new people, you connections. and that's the foundation that how many outlines in the book that drives career change. And so I was like, I reflected on my own career.I thought, huh? Through my blogging and, to a certain degree through my social media presence to just being a kind of quote, unquote, very online person. I have reshaped my career a number of times, with nothing more than, the power of a, kind of a blinking cursor and, writing.and that's been really interesting to me. yeah. Anyway, that's the piece, it's called permissionless identities and we can look in the show notes. It'll be up tomorrow. Glenn Stovall: [00:03:09] Awesome. Could you, how specifically did writing and on the internet, shape your career, like you said? Tom Critchlow: [00:03:15] Yeah, I got my start in the, in my career in the SEO industry, search engine optimization for those who don't know, and.when I got started in that was 2006, seven, eight, some of that back in the UK and the SEO industry, I think in true today, but even more so true back then was it was a very kind of, ill defined a nebulous industry, right? There was no. There wasn't really a sense that SEO was a career. You could have it.Wasn't very, I defined saying haven't been around very long. There was no university education. There were no courses even really nor accreditation. and so everyone in the SEO industry was this kind of grab bag. Group of like rebels. we had owes outcasts and that people who had otherwise stumbled into it through one form or another.and because of that, there was an extreme culture of blogging inside the SEO industry, where people were sharing, what they've learned and sharing their ideas, sharing the tactics. and so I got into blogging pretty early specifically inside SEO industry, SEO community. I'm just firsthand saw the power of.writing, circulating ideas, commenting on other people's blogs and really building a network through that. And as the SEO industry became more mature and more grown up, and I was at the right time at the right place. I went from, this kind of 20 something. Do we who didn't know anything about the internet to, Oh, I'm like onstage talking about SEO at these conferences all around the world.and so that was my first taste of how writing you just power your career. and then as I started to look outside of SEO, I started to fast forward 2012 and I'm living in New York. and, seeing the writing on the Wolf, SEO no longer is going to be the kind of most dominant kind of digital strategy realm.I feel SEO had this kind of golden age where you could work with the biggest brands in the world at the very most senior levels. Because if you worked in SEO, you knew more about the internet, almost everyone else did from a strategic person. but that change that's always changed.And around sales and 12, if we can create a that, SEO is actually becoming increasingly marginalized and less senior as a strategic activity. And I could sense that yeah. instead of working with a CEO or the CMO, we were starting to work with the VP of digital or even like the VP of SEO.And we were like moving down the food chain a little bit. No, it's all the SEO traffic is not relevant anymore in this world. All of the, SEO isn't a booming industry or anything like that, but I can just sense that for me personally, I was excited about doing that kind of strategic work and working with the senior layer, with clients like us, either working at an SEO agency, he was not going to cut that, that wasn't going to be where the industry was heading.I started writing about these kind of adjacent spaces, and exploring these different ideas, both around management and organizational design, which are things that I was interested in. I imagine the team, where I was working with him at the time. but also about know content marketing, content strategy, and digital strategy more generally.And then through all of that, I landed at, at, the creative lab at Google, working in New York, spent, there are a couple of years. and then for the last six years, I've been out on my own as in kind of strategy consultant. And again, through that process have essentially written my own narrative.like I've summarized in a depth to my own identity, through writing, to really figure out what is the kind of work that I do, what does what I want to do and how do it, I expose enough of those things too. My network flexes to those around me, such that I can get, the right kind of clients, the right kind of work, to then meet the identity.So it's this iterative process of, overreaching a little bit in my writing about what I'm interested in and who I want to be, and then finding the clients that kind of attracted to that. And every new client pushes you slightly in the direction you want to go. And, so anyway, that was a long winded.That's a joke question, but that's a potted history, of where. Of where writing has just been meaningful for my own career. Yeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:06:53] No, that sounds really interesting. I'm also curious about what is your approach with writing today because something else I thought interesting when I was looking at your work, because you have a lot of.like for a long time, blogging was like a chronological list of articles, but now you mentioned little futures. I've also seen you have blog chains, you have a digital garden. Do you have the strategic independent, which is a, a book in progress, a long form article series. I'm not even sure what to call it.Tom Critchlow: [00:07:18] Yup. Glenn Stovall: [00:07:20] So when you have an idea and you wanna explore and writing these days, how are you deciding Tom Critchlow: [00:07:25] what shape that's going to Glenn Stovall: [00:07:25] take and how you're going to approach it? Tom Critchlow: [00:07:28] That's a good question. I would definitely be overreaching if I said that I had any real kind of formalized process or idea around that.writing for me is a very kind of instinctual and reactive process. and inspiration tends to strike me as, and when, and I'll jump on it. So writing as I, as like an interested in it, and run with it, sometimes that. Sometimes it will start as an email and that email that it becomes a blog post and maybe then becomes a chapter in the book.it was I'm not afraid to revisit topics that I've written about for, to either add more nuance or write it in a new frame, with the kind of hindsight of experience. I see all of the different vehicles as being. Just different ways to explore ideas.I is sometimes I want to write it in a way it is couched around, Hey, I have these questions. Anybody else have these same questions? Sometimes I want to write about something which is more like his 5,000 word like exploration of a very specific thing. But, that I've recently, thought about or whatever.so I really don't. I think some people have got a very formalized. Approach to writing. You have to write a newsletter, let's say every week or something like that. And for the most part, I've not been very good at sticking to those formalized structures and instead just take a more ad hoc and reactive and instinctual approach to writing when it's originates. Glenn Stovall: [00:08:42] what was the inspiration for the strategic consultant? Tom Critchlow: [00:08:44] yeah, so the book grew out of a couple of things. I wrote a blog post called the consultant screen. this is, must be a couple of years ago now. basically exploring kind of the challenges of getting things done inside of client organizations and how some things feel very easy to get done.And some things feel almost impossible. To get done, and how the client's culture, that culture reacts to things that you're trying to get done. and it was the first time. And I think I wrote something that, was a little bit novel or a little bit different about consulting directly.So not about your client problems or anything like that, but about your specifically the process of being an independent consultant. I think got a lot of really good feedback on that piece. and at the same time as I wrote it, I was working with an executive coach, somebody, that I was working with to help figure out a little bit of like senior quote unquote, what I wanted to do with my life and what I want it to be when I grew up.and. through the process of that, I was like, Hey, I think I made one, I write a book one day. maybe it'll be a scifi book or some other kind of book, but, books have always been important to me and maybe I want to write a write, something like that. And, it was my coach who turned around and said, this is new.You're already doing this writing about independent consulting. You want to write a book? What about if you wrote a book about independent consulting and that was a light bulb moment for me to actually say actually, writing a scifi book is a nice pipe dream, but. There's no kind of space in my life to fit that kind of time.Yeah. I had one small kid at that time and I've got two small kids. and yeah. Consulting career and et cetera. And, I realized that writing a book about consulting was much more realistic and much more kind of manageable in a sense. Cause I can fit that into my existing kind of workstreams and world view.That's why I embarked on this adventure to write a book about independent consulting. and that's where the strategic independent came from. And that's the, what titled, but I think will probably be the final title as well. I'm about 35,000 words into it, all of which, a public on my blog.and I'm really trying to write something which is much more introspective and exploratory about. Kind of theory and practice of being an independent consultant. I will ask about, I think there is, there is, a ton of writing on the already out there online about, YouTube a million dollars.And he fell on my full step plan, on his that'd be like a six figure freelance journalist kind of things. And I really want to take the approach to actually say. like, why do I want to throw up every time I send an invoice, and who was going to give me permission to go bike riding on a Tuesday afternoon, they don't have any clients.I really want to explore a little bit more of the psychology and in a life of being an independent consultant. and obviously, much of that writing also, touches on. client work like being at a client's office, being in the middle of the client engagement and how do we affective and, how it feels and so on.But, I'm trying to write something which has maybe a little bit more, a little bit more open ended, or a little bit less prescriptive than a lot of the writing that's out there today. Glenn Stovall: [00:11:29] Yeah. what I really liked about it when I first found it was like I'm someone and I'm sure there's a lot of people out there who.if you're a software developer, you sometimes get pigeonholed into Oh, you're the coder, or you're this troll under the bridge, it's Oh, you're just going to build what we tell you to build. And do you know, you get frustrated building like ill-advised solutions just to make other people a bunch of money.And, you always say this. I used to, I was a freelancer for about five years and I hear a lot of advice of Oh, don't be a freelancer. Don't feel yourself as a software developer, position yourself as a consultant, but. None of it really said like what that means or how to do it. It was, it made it seem like it was just a change the title on your business card.And I was like, Oh, but how do I consult quote unquote. And Tom Critchlow: [00:12:15] I feel Glenn Stovall: [00:12:15] like when I found the strategic consultants, as one of the first things I saw where I'm like, Oh, that's finally starting to make some sense to me. Tom Critchlow: [00:12:21] That's great. That's good to hear. Glenn Stovall: [00:12:23] Yeah. And, see, I kind wanted to go through one or two of the concepts it's for the listener, if they haven't read it.I think one of the biggest ones was, you talked about working in context. Tom Critchlow: [00:12:32] Yeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:12:32] I thought maybe, could you explain what that means and how to start thinking of your work in higher context? Tom Critchlow: [00:12:38] Yeah, totally. I, the foundation for this was really around. I spent a lot of time talking about strategy consulting.partly because it makes me sound important. I'm probably because it makes me sound good. so it's useful frame him, but, I was thinking about how to already unpack law, what strategy work is and what strategy consulting is relative to other types of work. Like you said, like regular freelancing work or, copywriting or web design or marketing strategy or whatever it is.And I arrived on this frame that. strategy work is nothing more or less than work in context. and, whatever project you'll work, none, there are always kind of layers of the UN. There are always these kind of like wide context around the work and the more that you can be aware of and included in those other contexts, the more that quote unquote, it is strategic, the work that you're doing.And then the example that I give here is, let's say that you are a web developer and, you're being tasked with, as a freelance, building out some kind of microsite for client. and I think everyone has been a freelance, so I can relate to this situation where.let's say you're like 95% of the way through the product deck. Everything is you're almost done. You're just waiting for a few final bits and then suddenly the client goes dark. And then suddenly the priorities have changed on this website that you spent six months working on, never even goes lies.And you just feel like a chump. You're just like, why I did, I spent a lot of time doing that. I'm like, hopefully you still got paid for the work. best case, worst case, obviously, maybe you don't even get paid for the whole project or whatever. and, it can just be really demoralizing and like, why am I doing all this work?And never even seems like a day clearly, wasn't that important to the client in the first place, et cetera. And, the flip sides of that story is that on the client side, maybe the marketing, microsite was important, until priorities changed. and, maybe they went through a, like an acquisition process and they just bought another company and they now have to figure out how to integrate that other company.and that's just a higher priority or a kind of a more Asian context for them. and I always think about this idea that if you're like below this kind of this awareness line of the context, then. You get these moments where the situation just crashes. Like I say, everything is something on fire priorities, completely change and, work for you or what gets scrapped or ignored or whatever.and if you're above that context line, then it isn't that the work changes, it's just the context changes. And so it's Maybe, if you were above the line, you would have been able to reuse the microsite to reposition it, like in a rapid way to say, actually we need a landing page up for this acquisition we just made, or, we need to integrate that website into our website.Let's do that. And, I think, what I'm going to try and get that gets you with all of that is that, There's kind of two ways to think about it. And as you get more  with your freelancing work or your consulting work, in my mind, it's nothing more or less than just getting access to more and more of those contexts, and rising up through the food chain to be able to see things on the horizon and to be able to see those, Those moments of kind of change and uncertainty as they happen rather than being blindsided by them and having everything had to go shit.and that's the foundation of, What I think about whenever I do my consulting work is, every client engagement they come in for, there's always kind of the work that the client thinks they want or that they're asking for. But then there's always a set of context around that, that are impacting or affecting it.and I'm always, basically this kind of Nosy or curious if you prefer that word, individual to be able to, I'm always going to sniffing around the client. They'd be like, what else is going on? What is, why are we doing this piece of work? Why are we doing it now? Who cares about this piece of work?why did we not do it six months ago? Why are we not doing it six months from now? if we put it live tomorrow, what will change about the business? And I'm going to just try to understand a little bit of the mechanics. So what is going on inside the organization, what else is happening and how does this project that I'm working on relate back to that.but then the flip side of all of that is, I think that's the, aspirational and positive side of strategy work, I think, in the sense that you want some kind of, keep reaching upwards to these other contexts. But the other way to think about it is that you can do as menial or, trivial, simple work as you like.As long as you're doing it in the right context, it's still strategic work. And I think this is the flip side of the coin, which is as people get more senior and as they get more expensive and as they get more, as they grow in a work, there was a tendency to think why I don't want to do that junior work.Like, why am I doing. why am I like spending nights and weekends searching LinkedIn to try and find some example of resumes for people that might want to fit this job, that the client is trying to fill. it feels like very straightforward on Monday and work.and the flip side is any work can be strategic work as long as it is important to the client right now. And you properly understand why you're doing it. and so I've already embraced this idea where my own work of, I really try to be a consultant and a partner to my clients where. I want to be hungry to understand all the context, and then I want to get to do anything for the client, but is urgent and important.and to make myself useful and not to care too much about, whether that work is difficult or senior or any of those other kinds of labels. so yeah, that was a little bit of a, Oh yeah, Glenn Stovall: [00:17:43] no, that's really fascinating. Like it's, because I've definitely heard that from other people and felt up before where.if we go back a few weeks on the show, if the listener wants to listen to, I talked with Eric diet rich, and we talked about how, if you want to be, you want to avoid someone who's being defined as a coder and try to step away from code for that reason, that Tom Critchlow: [00:18:04] code, Glenn Stovall: [00:18:04] the coding tends to be at the bottom of Tom Critchlow: [00:18:07] the Glenn Stovall: [00:18:08] context, I guess the ladder or chain.And I'm sure what metaphor do you use here? But Tom Critchlow: [00:18:14] yeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:18:15] Yeah, I like that. Like you said, you could still. It's not necessarily what the work is, Tom Critchlow: [00:18:20] but how Glenn Stovall: [00:18:21] and where you're doing it. Tom Critchlow: [00:18:23] Yeah. and, I think,  people who write code in particular are a little bit prone to this way of thinking because, code is kind of production focused, or a lot of it is where it's very focused on making something and making something is it's very easy to then be obsessed with the thing that you're making instead of why you're making it. and that can be a very hard context shift to make. I'm not gonna lie, I certainly don't get all of the contexts of all of the clients I work with and all the projects, it's a never ending process, but, I definitely think that it is a useful frame. and if you can master it, then I think, yeah, you can unlock both more satisfying what, but also I higher paid work.Yeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:19:05] what are some of the other things developers can work on skills? I can try to work on if they want to try to move up and doing some higher context work. Wow. Tom Critchlow: [00:19:14] That's a good question. I think, I don't do development work myself, so I'm a little bit kind of one step removed from that process.one thing that I think, here's something interesting that I've seen in my own time is when the higher up you get inside an organization and I'm, in particular talking about mostly non technical organizations. I'm not talking about like a technology company like Google, but maybe like a media company, like the New York times, the higher up you get inside the organization.The fewer people are writing code. it tends to be a kind of roughly true statement. and in particular, you can get to the VP level of a C suite and nobody can write a single line of code. and what's interesting about that and where I found myself a couple of times is. Sometimes I'm the most technically proficient person in the room.And as a result, I'm able to be like a prototype, whether it's a web app or web page, or even just like a Google spreadsheet script, or something to do some very simple miles, the ultimate automation or scraping or whatever, really just like prototype something. But I can do it essentially like on the fly.I'm not always doing it like in the meeting, but like very quickly react and be like, Oh, we had that meeting yesterday on his just a prototype of what it could look like. Is that what you meant? and when you do that kind of work for, the C suite for a CEO or CFO or COO, you can blow people away with, you, they don't normally have access to people who can turn things around that quickly.So I think. so to answer your question more directly, when we think about writing code, I think, it's useful to remember just, how monolithic and, difficult. Engineering and coding and development organizations are within companies and how executives get conditioned to expect long turnarounds.And so having a mindset of kind of rapid prototyping and, what kind of building things that aren't complete, but demonstrate an idea. And you using that kind of very tight feedback loop, with a senior executive, can be incredibly powerful. It can be incredibly useful to the executive team, inside an organization.and so that's one area I think is, is really interesting. The other area is, and this is going to sound like a no brainer, but, Figuring out how to talk about technical concepts through the lens of business. I lose count of the number of times that, clients have shown frustration to me.and they're trying to evaluate a kind of roadmap that, like 20, 20 planning or 2021 planning would say, and they're trying to say, my VP of engineering or my CTO is telling me that we need to, change our hosting provider or migrate from one platform to another platform.And yeah, you've given me this kind of like technical jargon approach to why, but have not been able to frame it in the language. The rest of the business users use uses around, revenue, the pain points, using needs, et cetera. And so I think figuring out ways to talk about engineering and coding through the lens of business, again is another thing, but I think, even though I think what I'm saying was true 10 years ago, but I think it's still true today.is there is a, there was a lack of kind of commercial acumen and just general, No, sense-making you'd be able to craft a well articulated reason and pitch for why a project should be green lit why we need the budget, what the alternatives are, what the options are, what the timeline is going to be, what the impact will be.those things are still, I think, in, in short supply, on the engineering side of most organizations. So if you can figure out, and this goes back a little bit to the idea we talked about earlier about writing, right? And about how writing can empower a career, if you can figure out.Ways to become good at explaining and articulating. the differences is between, whatever technologies you work with, whether it's, cloud hosting providers or whether it's front end technologies or whatever, SIA you're in, if you can find ways to bridge the gap between the technical side and business side.I think you'll set yourself up for success. Glenn Stovall: [00:23:01] Yeah. It's yeah, I know developers, it's so easy to get caught, like way down in the weeds, especially when you're working on big, complicated systems that I think you lose sight of how valuable, just be a, being able to explain that a high level, how it works and be like you said, just building a, just being able to whip up like a crappy prototype.And just something very simple. Tom Critchlow: [00:23:23] Yeah, I think, I think, specifically around the, the, the business case for engineering projects and coding projects, I think one of the hardest things to stomach is in the field of engineering and web development, it's easy to try and imagine that there is a black and white right answer and a wrong answer in a way that you're marketing.For example, my struggles already, have a kind of good black and white right. And wrong. It's true though. every single discipline with an organization, your organizations are messy and there is never a simple right or wrong answer. there was never a kind of black and white openness check case.and so you're diluted if you're chasing the kind of quote unquote answer and what you have to look at as a more pragmatic, What is the right answer for this organization at this moment in time with the resources that we have. and that answer is usually much messier on that, relies on narratives and assumptions and so on and so forth.Yeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:24:16] I just saw a really great example of this on Reddit today. remote. OK. Dot IO. I think the founder, it's at levels IO, his actual name escapes me at the moment, but remote okay. To IO is a site. It's a remote job board. Doesn't use a lot of that complicated tooling. It's one large file. Doesn't follow a lot of, coding, quote unquote, best practices, but.It brings in $60,000 a month in revenue for them. And there was a threat on red or all these developers are like, Oh, that sounds awful. Oh, this goes going to be so bad. And, Oh, there's all these problems with that project. And I'm just like, dude, I would take, I would take some shitty code that makes me 60 grand a month, like any day over. your well architected dream that hasn't has never left your laptop. Tom Critchlow: [00:25:03] Totally. Glenn Stovall: [00:25:04] Especially this guy, he's a, he's an independent, you don't have to worry about a huge, scalable piece of code and how he's going to work with a team and how he's going to maintain it.Like it works. It does its job it's done. Tom Critchlow: [00:25:15] Yeah. And I think, the flip side of that is okay. Especially in the, within the field of engineering, there are times when. you really do want to get something, whether it's infrastructure or security or whatever. there are times when it really does matter, whether you all think running on shitty code, I'm all good code, Technical, and really matter. Even in those situations, the answer is not to the executive level of an organization. The answer is not to paint the picture around right and wrong, but to paint the picture around, like risk and cost benefit. And then to be able to say, it isn't about. This is more secure than that.It's about, what does being more secure mean for the business? what is the cost of being hacked or what is the cost of that infrastructure going down? and usually those assumptions are pretty easy to make, right? Because that usually pretty critical. so that sort of business, And you got most, technical teams will still struggle to make those articulation chips, They'll still articulate things and sense of right and wrong. and as such, struggled to get buy in and struggled to get the resources they need. and so I think that's, again, just a good lesson around, I'm trying to. Trying to make the work that you're doing urgent and important and inside knowing the right organization requires some storytelling requires narrative requires some business.Glenn Stovall: [00:26:25] Yeah. And there's always going to be trade offs too, like with the right and wrong. an example I heard with the kind of software is, some people are building cars and some are building airplanes and with a car you could optimize for iterating quicker. And if something goes wrong, if he.Proverbial tire goes flat. You can put a new tire on, but you can't do that with a plane. Or if you're building planes, then you need to optimize for being reliable because the crash in that scenario is much worse, which might be medical software or something in this case. Tom Critchlow: [00:27:00] Yeah, gotta shift gears a bit.There was Glenn Stovall: [00:27:01] something else I saw you talking about online. I wanted to dive into you. You shared a link Tom Critchlow: [00:27:05] a few weeks Glenn Stovall: [00:27:06] ago. I think about, it's called squad wealth. And I think he also just published something about that today. Tom Critchlow: [00:27:11] I don't know. I did just, Glenn Stovall: [00:27:13] and I know you remember us something called the yak collective.So I was wondering if you could talk a bit about. I think it's called, I think I saw a van Katusha. I'll call it fourth, wave consulting and independence, finding new ways to work together these days. Tom Critchlow: [00:27:27] Yeah. This is something it's very alive for me right now. And I'm thinking about a lot is, there's a number of things all coming together in my own world.some of them are logic trends and some of the book kind of personal timelines, but, there is this kind of meta narrative, I think, around the shift from large scale, open social networks, like Twitter, Facebook, et cetera. towards what I think after hours call the kind of more domestic cozy, sense of social networks, which are these kind of like semi closed spaces, which might be like telegram groups or WhatsApp groups, or they might be disgorged servers or Slack groups.and I think creasing. subterranean a, model of social media. So that's one trend. Yeah. It is like looming and generally true. which is the more and more of these more and more of the kind of social layer of the web is moving into these kind of sub terrainian domestic cozy spaces at the same time.I think it's sh also talks about, fourth wave consulting, which is loosely modeled around fourth wave coffee. so those of you who are familiar with those Wells, he wrote a great post about this on his off gig, newsletter, which I definitely recommend it. and Lucy speaking is this shift from, you think about, if I get this right, I think.The second wave was about the, the kind of professionalization of players in the space and the kind of growing up with the industry. And this is the McKinseys and the Bains, in the consulting Wells, the third wave was about the, the, the micro independent, wave. so this is the Indy consultant, the indie freelance, and so on.And the fourth wave is about those independent, Outfits, whether they're like small, independent groups or actual, a solo entrepreneur, solo independence, starting to create shared infrastructure and groups and collectives that are specifically slightly more values based than previously. So on just economic engines, but are actually identify entity engines as well.helping shape and form people's sense of who they are and what they belong to. And, and then this is peace squad wealth, by, by the LA incident folks, Toby Sam and, Lauren, and, They talk about  it was a slight tongue in cheek, I think. what kind of like provocative kind of exploration around the power of squads, and how 2020 in particular, but bit, but there is a larger trend going on as well.has created this will environment where. people are increasingly relying on squads, like small groups of trusted contacts to power, everything from careers. And so identity support systems, co living situations, and the bound is a blurring between. Kind of work like professional spaces and private spaces.the people you're friends with, also the people you are collaborating with the work and helping get jobs actually, explicitly like pulling in on indie consultant, gigs and so on and so forth. And, again, how those spaces are specifically powered by the kind of realtime chat space.Again, whether that's a WhatsApp group thread or whether it's a kind of multiplied discord server or whatever, And I'm really fascinated by these trends. I recently started a discord server myself, specifically for independent consultants, called the gas and soda. and, it's early days for it, but I'm really interested in how to create a.What kind of robust ecosystem independence. and that means all kinds of things, whether it's helping us collaborate and pitch work together and do what together or whether it's just sharing stories and have a kind of emotional reliance on a sense of team and comradery, or whether it's helping educate people who are new at, to independent consulting.here's the ropes, here's how it works. Here's some advice or helping out. and Yeah, I'm just really interested in this trend. And I think, for myself personally, I'm almost six years into this and the consults in Korea. And so I feel like, yeah, I have gone through this phases myself, as, first go out on your own and you're like, Oh shit, everything's new.how do I get clients? How do I do this? How does it work? Is even make it work and then you gradually gain some confidence that, okay. I think I can, I think I can make this work. I think I do know what I'm doing a little bit and then you're like, how do I, how do I make it better?How do I do better work for more money, with more clients, et cetera, could make it more robust and more reliable. And then eventually you where I think I'm just starting to get to now six years in is okay, what does the next 20 years of my life look like? Not that I need to figure out what I need to do with my life, but rather Is this lifestyle that I have, truly sustainable, is actually working for me, in the most holistic kind of biggest sense of the word and realizing that, the image of the kind of lone Wolf, independent consultant, is not really. Accurate. actually we need communities.We need, collaborators and colleagues and teammates, and we need a sense of identity. We need as a community. So that's where I'm at the early stages now, Starting to build out some sense of that, in the independent consulting space. and I'm trying to try to question my own ideas around.What's needed. How does it work? what's valuable, et cetera. so yeah, I just posted a, just a collection of notes and links really. not really an answer to any of those questions, but a post this morning that went up about some of those ideas. Glenn Stovall: [00:32:19] Yeah. so I'm curious how, when you're working together with these other independents, when it's actually collaborating on a client project, I'm curious what that looks like.Does it tend to be like, One person owns the relationship and everyone else is a subcontractor or are you, or does it work some other way? Tom Critchlow: [00:32:38] I've done it a number of different ways actually. I've done it well. I am getting paid by the client and I'm spending the client's money pulling in some other independent consultant at some of the agency.I've done it where I have build the client and then, pass that revenue, pack food to a collaborator and kind of subcontracts it out. work, or I've even done it where we like toe pitch, as guys kinda equals and, we both send invoices and go up called charged, like side by side.so I've done a number, different ways. my philosophy that is very much around. Trying to build just in time relationships and not overcomplicate things by trying to build a kind of shed brand or a mini agency or any of those kinds of things. I think a lot of those things fail by trying to, professionalize and, formalize the wrong things in the relationship.so a good example here is, I've worked really closely with my buddy Toby shore and, who was one of the authors of that squad wealth piece. we've done a bunch of work together where we collaborate on client work. sometimes he bring it's me and sometimes I bring him in, and we have a very productive working relationship.He's more of a product design and brand strategist. I'm a bit more of a, marketing strategist, and organizational designer, And we compliment each other very well. And we've done a bunch of words together, but we don't have a kind of a landing page that says you can hire us.And we don't have any like a brand for our work together. and I think that what's been nice about that is it keeps us honest and forces us to make sure that we're working together when it makes sense, rather than trying to get work together, if that makes sense. and, and so I think, these collaborations are, they worked for me when I try to hold myself accountable to do them with the right people at the right time, rather than trying to build some kind of shared revenue stream with somebody else, or like a mini agency or a brand with somebody else.the, that might force me to make the wrong decisions Glenn Stovall: [00:34:28] and, yeah, I'd also be Tom Critchlow: [00:34:29] curious, how do you. Glenn Stovall: [00:34:31] How are you keeping track of all these relationships? Do you have a thing of the article you mentioned you have some people that you're on the bench? Tom Critchlow: [00:34:40] Yeah, I don't. yeah. I know some folks who haven't, what kind of formalized CRM system.I don't have any kind of CRM system. It's all in my head. which is probably. Probably not optimal, but I'm also, one of the things that I've realized, and this is true for kind of note taking apps as well as it is to like calendar systems and CRM systems and invoicing technologies, as an independent worker, one of the most precious resources you have.Is your own attention on your own on Headspace. And it is amazing major advantage to keep your whole business environment as simple and as streamlined as possible. And for me, that means that. Like my business is incredibly what you might call bare metal. I keep track of my finances in a spreadsheet and I send my invoices.It's like Google docs. and I don't have a accounting software. I don't have CRM software. I don't pay for almost any kind of SAS services. and yes, I'm sure that at the margins, there are some times I've left money on the table due to doing that. But at the same time, I can keep my mental model of my entire business, in my head, or like on the back of the post it, right?the, like how am I works? Quote unquote is incredibly straightforward. and I find a huge benefit to that. To me personally, again, other people might have different ways of working in different styles, but for me personally, being able to keep everything here incredibly simple and straightforward, is a huge plus.and every new complexity that you add, just takes away, available. Headspace and available kind of working memory. and I think that is best. That's so important specifically when you know each new client that you add. demands like a whole chunk of kind of brain space and head space and emotional stress.no matter how big the client is. so working with two clients is, just as stressful, as when they're the same size as when one is bigger than the other. it's yes, bigger clients or a little bit more work and a little more head space, but, Is, you're much better off working with a few numbers, clients that are bigger than a large number of clients at a smaller, cause each new client is going to chew up your head space and you were available with memory.Glenn Stovall: [00:36:45] Yeah, it makes a lot of sense and that to bring it all together. I think another good thing about this sort of, the sort of squad model, as you say, is like one way you can do higher context work is being able to make connections and bring in the right people to do the work Tom Critchlow: [00:36:58] sometimes. Yeah, totally.that's been a big unlock for me, as I've transitioned from. very loosely speaking, doing SEO in the early days. So then doing a wider content strategy type work. So then doing slightly wider digital strategy. and as I leveled up through each of those increasingly, the work that I do looks like, client comes to me with a problem.We figure out what the problem is. We figure out what a potential solution might look like. that naturally ends up looking like we need some kind of team to work on this project. that naturally looks like, okay, we need to hire some people to lead that team or to be in that team. and then I end up working on a combination of hiring and organizational designs, put that team together.and so I'm I don't do a lot of work around team building, team formation and what I call what I jokingly refer to it as like small O org design, it's going to differentiate it from kind of thing. Oh, old design is professionalized service that people like August and the ready or noble, those kind of agencies do where they're doing organizational design it's companies like Coca Cola or Pepsi or GE, these kind of A thousand thousand employees, companies, my organizational design is very much in service of a particular strategy or a particular project, and is very much focused around how do I put the team together to do this thing that client needs to get done?Glenn Stovall: [00:38:09] Yeah, no, that's really cool. yeah, or getting in pretty close to time here, I was gonna see if there's anything else you want to add in, and also, if people wanna find out more about what you're doing online, where can they find Tom Critchlow: [00:38:18] you? Yeah, sure. pretty much everything I do is I talk to actually.com, and, or Twitter.A.com/ . those are the two places where I spend my time. and, yeah. What else can I add you? there's a book course that I wrote that I think is particular a particular interest to folks who are developers or who can write code, that's cool. fuck ESI project. and it's a story about how, when I interviewed a dual mechanism and 12, I had made it, you go through this typical Google hiring process.And I went through and I moved to seven or eight different interviews. And in every single one, the thing that people wanted to talk to me about was that it's music startup, but that I'd made, or the fact that I was a music entrepreneur. and. It was very confusing to me cause I was neither a music entrepreneur nor did I have a music startup.but what I had done is I'd made this kind of like weekend project that was about 25 lines Python, gold Saki has Spotify. and all the data is aggregated the top tweeted Spotify albums of the day, and posted them up. and what's fascinating about that is. The kind of the unreasonable power and effectiveness of small projects that are well-named and well-defined on how, even at a place like Google, the number of people who have actually built something on their own time and under their own steam is still, it's still not universal.and w what I encourage people to look at, and then particularly folks who might over-index on. Like he was talking about that kind of the remote work thing. over-index on building something that's robust and scalable, building something, but it's a interesting project. It doesn't have to be revenue generating, can still unlock meaningful opportunities and networks and maybe even jobs.so there's a, that's a fun post in the archives that I think these folks, in your audience, my like, but yeah, anyway, all of that is on some cordial.com. that's why you can find me. Alright. Glenn Stovall: [00:40:00] Sounds good. Thanks again for coming on top. Tom Critchlow: [00:40:02] Yeah, thanks for having me. 
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  • Production Ready podcast

    Content creation & strategy w/ Stephanie Morillo

    36:22

    Stephanie [email protected] of Stephanie's work:  The Developer's Guide to Content Creation The Developer's Guide to Book Publishing The Pocket Technical Writing List (Includes style guides)  Links from the show:  Digital Ocean blog Azure Devops Microsoft Onenote Sales Safari in Action The War of Art What is Code? - Paul Ford Stacking The Bricks - Amy Hoy and Alex Hillman MailChimp Content Style Guide TranscriptGlenn Stovall: [00:00:00] hey everyone. I'm here with product manager and content strategist, Stephanie Morillo. Who's also the author of the developer's guide, the content creation and the developer's guide to book publishing. Can you do today, Stephanie? Stephanie Morillo: [00:00:11] I'm doing well. How about you Glenn? Pretty good. Glenn Stovall: [00:00:14] And today we were going to talk a bit about writing and content strategy for devs, but to start, could you tell me a little bit about, what you do currently in your history as a writer and content strategist?Stephanie Morillo: [00:00:24] Yeah. so I have been a writer for the bulk of my 12 year long professional career. I started in communications and marketing and around the four year Mark decided that I want to learn how to program. So I learned Ruby with the help of a friend spent about a year at it, just dabbling. it wasn't very structured.It was like we'd meet once a week, once or twice a week. And I learned that way and, Through that I started working in tech, so I moved into the startup space. I worked at general assembly. and then. Over the course of my time there, I realized that I wanted continue working around developers, but I didn't want to be a dev.So when I was trying to think, okay, what could I do? I decided to go into writing, thought technical writing would be my, the path that I would go on. So I was like, I really want to be a documentarian, the kind of person who's responsible for producing, highly technical documentation, but instead find myself in copywriting.I was writing marketing and product carpets. Copywriting at digital ocean. And then just through them, I started moving up the ladder content-wise de content management did the same thing at Github. And then most recently I was a content strategist at Microsoft cloud advocacy team before pivoting completely.And now I am a product manager on an engineering team here at Microsoft. Glenn Stovall: [00:01:44] Oh, cool. Awesome. And what kind of content you said your documentation, what sort of content did you do over at get hub? Stephanie Morillo: [00:01:49] So I did do documentation AdvocateHub at GitHub. I was responsible for managing the company blog. So I was essentially the managing editor.I was. I was copy editing blog posts. I was managing blog operations, which sounds about as interesting as it is. at that time get hubs blog was actually built on Jekyll. it was hosted on GitHub pages. There was a lot of, a lot of having to ping site engineering, whenever something went down.And then of course, China work with good hovers who were interested in writing blog posts for the blog. So I was constantly sourcing stories, trying to find interesting angles and things that the audience would be interested in reading. Glenn Stovall: [00:02:29] Yeah. what were some of the interesting angles or kind of stories you look for at Github?Stephanie Morillo: [00:02:34] I was at Github only for a few months before I moved to Microsoft. So I think the better. The better example would be digital ocean. I managed their company blog for over a year. and some of the stories that I published, one of them was, about how the company managed a go mano repo.So one of the libraries, so basically the engineering team created a goal library that was open source and the whole thing was a mono repo. And I pinged one of the developers after seeing him talk about it in Slack. And I was like, Hey, would you like to write about it? He did. I pinged an engineering manager who had given a talk at Ashcon about managing a remote teams, got him to write something for the blog.one of the internal infrastructure teams was doing something really interesting. They had an apprenticeship program where they allowed folks from other engineering teams at digital ocean to shadow infrastructure engineering there's to learn more about the organization. And then they actually took on some work.So it was like a two week program. And the whole point was to help build out the infrastructure team and to get people interested in wanting to make a lateral move. So that was another story, but basically we ran the gamut. I published this, we published a story on. How one of the teams designed object storage.So pretty much I trolled all of the Slack channels, seeing what the engineers were talking about. And I was just like, yo, you should write this as a blog post. And people were more than happy to oblige most of the time. Glenn Stovall: [00:03:56] Awesome. Cool. And then how was, what was the goal at digital ocean? Was this just trying to build brand awareness and , get engineers more interested in digital ocean?Stephanie Morillo: [00:04:07] So digital ocean actually had a very solid content pipeline on the tutorial side of the house. So digital ocean publishes a lot of open source tutorials on how to do anything related to cloud infrastructure. Obviously, digital ocean is generally the. The hosting platform that's used in a lot of these examples, but these are all just, how to create something with the modern stack on digital ocean or on Ubuntu or whatever.And they managed to get a lot of brand awareness through writing those kinds of tutorials. The blog was actually a channel that no one really, it was like an orphan. Nobody really owned it at digital ocean and they were using it like to publish a. A product announcement once every two or three months or something, or, Hey, we opened up a new data center.So the blog was pretty much. Nobody. Nobody knew what to do with it. Nobody had any, concerns or anything. So I was like, you know what, I'm going to take over the block and I'm going to do whatever I want with it. while most companies have a very solid strategy, they have very clear metrics.they're trying to, they might not even, it might not even be like just generating awareness. There might be other objectives that they're trying to meet through blog content. I really wanted to tell stories about how the, how we got things done at DOE to get engineers excited about DEO as a company, but also excited about.Seeing themselves a deal. I wanted engineers to write the kinds of stories that they as engineers would like to read. just to give people another look into the company. People really liked the products. People really liked the UX, but they didn't know much about us. They didn't know much about our internal teams.And we had a lot of platform teams that were building tools for internal customers. And they didn't really have the opportunity to shop, shine or highlight what they were doing. So the blog was a perfect way to do that. Glenn Stovall: [00:05:53] Yes, that's all it cost. It's definitely a frustration I've had before where you're building a building internal tools and it's I can't put this in a portfolio or anything.and then you also do a lot of writing on your own. Stephanie Morillo: [00:06:04] Yeah. Yeah, I do. I do. I've been blogging pretty frequently, I would say over the last eight to nine months. prior to that, I didn't, it's funny because I spent most of my days writing and editing that at the end of the day, I was like, I don't really want to write on my blog, but since I've moved into a new team, I've.My blog is like my creative outlet. So a lot of the blog posts that I create are around, like some of the essentials of content creation. So I have blog posts on the introduction and introduction to technical writing, but also blog posts that explains, audiences, right? what's a primary audience.And why would you want to write for them? I have blog posts on things like. why the developers not like soft? Why don't developers like marketing or, like writing internal documentation. So any, I look for angles that, basically we book for the kinds of things that engineers asked me about.Or things that I've done that have helped me with my own work. And those generally are the, that's the fodder for a lot of my blog posts. why Glenn Stovall: [00:07:11] don't developers like writing internal documentation? Stephanie Morillo: [00:07:15] Because it's hard to get feedback from internal docs, right? Like you're writing until you write something in a Wiki and then it's in the either and you don't know whether or not anybody is actually using it or not.So in that sense for a lot of people, it might be. Feel or seem like a time suck. and also because writing documentation is generally an activity that most people undertake at the very end of a project, as opposed to writing continuously while the project is going on. So it's almost like one thing you have to check off your list before the project can officially ship, which you know, it's not always the most fun, but it is.In my opinion, some of the most valuable form of writing, especially when it comes to things like onboarding new people, training, new people, they want to be able to, and to be able to do that in a scalable way, it's not scalable to have, a bunch of training sessions with every single person that joins the company.Or if you're trying to. Build out a huge team, like when you're thinking about scale. and yeah, and you're thinking about, and you're thinking about access. I think internal documentation is the way to go, but I understand the frustration with having to write it, if you're not getting feedback and you don't know if people actually find it useful, It can be, it can feel like an activity that you're just doing to check off some boxes.Glenn Stovall: [00:08:28] Yeah. And that's something I've struggled with too. Or I, again, I've blogged in for, I don't even know how many years at this point, but that is something where someone's, that does feel like a bit of screaming into a void in the internet that you don't always get. Stephanie Morillo: [00:08:42] Yeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:08:42] Feedback or no, if the stuff you're doing is working or not.So I'm curious in your experience, what, or how have you gotten feedback positive or negative from some of the stuff you've published Stephanie Morillo: [00:08:55] in terms of internal documentation, or just general Glenn Stovall: [00:08:57] documentation, blogging, whatever. Stephanie Morillo: [00:09:00] I ask people when I, when I publish blog posts, I like to have conversations about it on my own blog.I don't have Oh, comments section, but I tend to syndicate a lot of my blog posts on DEV community and DEV community does it does have a chat, a comment function. So I will generally ask people to share their thoughts. let me know if they have any questions and I will actively engage with each and every single comment.So even if somebody is this is great. Thank you. I will respond. Thank you so much for reading. If people have questions, I'll try my best to answer them with internal documentation. I've actually not had a problem with it because I'm in a lot of my capacity over the last two to three years, it's been, I've been the only person in my function, or I've been responsible for doing work that plugs into other work streams.So my documentation does get read. and the best example of that I have is when I was transitioning out of. The developer relations team and into engineering. I was able to train up the person who was gonna take over my position just on the basis of the kind of documentation that I created alone.I did a lot of recordings. There were decks, but there were also long Wiki articles. and their manager said that it was the best transition plan that they'd ever seen because they had all of that reference material already. So I always try to. Basically communicate out documentation of people.Internally. I have a question that I've already answered in an article. I will send them the article. People are like, great. This is awesome. It answers my question. Great. If it doesn't I asked what it's missing and then I'll try to incorporate that in the article. Glenn Stovall: [00:10:32] That makes sense. And I'm curious about some of your tools and process.what did y'all use it Microsoft for internal documentation? Stephanie Morillo: [00:10:39] we use Azure dev ops, which is, which is our productivity tool. It's similar to JIRA. So we have, we have wikis internally and we use those heavily. So that's where we host all of our documentation internally.And then I'm on the cloud advocacy team. We relied heavily on one note. So yeah, Microsoft Glenn Stovall: [00:10:58] makes sense. And, I'll speak to you just to hear about your, both the tooling and the process for. How you're writing, write some of your blog posts and stuff now. And I know you touched on this a bit on your book, the developer's guide to content creation, but maybe you could walk the listeners through how you go from coming up with ideas to then ending up with a finished published article to, getting eyeballs and comments on that article.Stephanie Morillo: [00:11:23] Yeah. There's I'll tell you this. There are a lot of different, there are multiple steps to getting there. I'll try to focus on some of the most top of mind ones. first of all, my first recommendation would be for anyone who's interested in writing a blog post to, work in time boxes.So often I hear. From folks that they don't have the time to write, or they want to know how to find the time to write. I've seen folks work in 15 minute time boxes per day. I prefer the 30 minute time box. And I'll just usually schedule that in three to four times a week. It doesn't really matter the cadence, but just know that when you have that time box, that's when you're working.Secondly, it's not just sitting down to write that's part of. producing a blog posts, the research and the refinement or editing phase after you write are also activities that are, part and parcel of the writing process. So think about it like, you're doing your front research, then you're doing the drafting and then you're editing before you press publish.then I would say when it comes to ideas and if you've read a book before you'll, this'll be familiar to you, but. I find that there are four sources of finding content ideas. The first one is to write about things that, things that people come to you about or things that you feel really confident in that you're like, yes, this is something I want to write about.The second, source of content ideas is look for existing things that you have that you can repurpose. So if you've written or if you've produced, I don't know, like a conference talk like a year or two ago on a particular topic. Maybe there's aspects of that talk that you can refresh, that you can then produce.Similarly, you gotta mind basically you're mining existing content that you have to repurpose it and refresh it. the third source of finding a content idea. Is looking out for what people need. Glen, since you've done 30 by 500, you're familiar with sales Safari. And for a lot of folks who are on the call who don't know about buy 500 or sell Safari, you can think of sales Safari as a, like a research methodology.you're the role of a researcher. And you're going to the communities online, where your audience lives. If you're a web developer, for example, and maybe you're targeting early career web developers, you might go to places like dev community hash node. Of course, Twitter. You might even go to, I dunno, free code camp, just to see what people are talking about, what people are interested in.that kind of stuff. So you want to find out what people need, what questions are they asking? What are their pain points? Are there specific themes that I've identified here? And then that makes it's for really good content. And then lastly, the things that you, I want to learn, if you have a list of things that you want to learn and almost.All of us do make a list of all those things and start writing about them. It's a great way for you to crystallize your own learning, for you to process your own learning and also teach someone who is similarly, a beginner in that particular concept, helping them walk through it. . So that's the ideation phase. and then, yeah, it's really just a matter of sitting down at a sitting down like. During your time box working at chipping away a particular topic, and then figuring out what your publishing cadence is. So if you're like, you know what, it takes me a really long time to write.It takes me 20 hours to write. Maybe all you can do is one block. It was for a month and that's totally fine. As long as you commit to that one blog post per month. So I tried to tell folks, pick a cadence. There are four ways of finding content ideas. And create a time box and those are some basic ways to get you from ideation to published.Glenn Stovall: [00:14:48] Yeah. so why is it, that, do you think a cadence is so important? Why not just write whatever? I think I have just whatever inspiration or the mood strikes me Stephanie Morillo: [00:14:59] because. inspiration is a finite resource. I found oftentimes in my own work that I will have moments when I'm really inspired and I will produce something.But then after that, I have a dry spell. I've seen folks who are really excited and enthusiastic and motivated in the beginning and they produce content. Really frequently, but then after two or three months, they've run out of steam and they don't have anything around. They don't have any, anything keeping them going.So I think if we rely on motivation and inspiration, you'll find that you're only going to be able to do things in short spurts. And if you want to write or create content consistently, you have to push through the times when you're not actually motivated to write or when you're like. Or when inspiration strikes a lot of my blog posts.it has, they haven't been produced necessarily because I felt particularly inspired. I was like, yes, I have amuse, and this is what I'm going to write about. it's frankly been because I have told them myself, this is, this is my cadence. Like I know that I need to produce one blog post per month.So I know that's already a task that I've decided that I would do. So it's. For me, just a matter of finding the content that I want to write about and then spending the time to write about it. And I can do that. Whether or not I'm motivated to write or inspired to write, but I can produce consistently, which is important.Glenn Stovall: [00:16:18] Yeah, I think it's, I think it is a thing. A lot of people get backwards that they think, you'll get the inspiration and then you'll get the motivation to do the work when it's actually often the opposite is you do the work and that's, what's going to get you the. Inspiration and motivation. Like a, one of my favorite books is the war of art, which I don't know if you've ever read it.Stephanie Morillo: [00:16:38] I haven't read it, but everybody's mentioned that to me in more than one occasion. Glenn Stovall: [00:16:41] I think one of my favorite quotes, the author of a story says, yeah, when I write, I'm just waiting for the muse to strike, but you can tell them, use them at my typewriter every day at 7:00 AM so that she knows where to find me.Stephanie Morillo: [00:16:54] Yeah, that's a good one. And I think it'll help a lot of folks if they realize this, like a lot of authors or novelists, or just writers that we admire, we read the finished product and we assume that they are inspired all the time and they're motivated to write all the time. And every word that they produce comes up perfectly.When in fact it's the opposite, it's really just sheer discipline and willpower that gets them through from that first draft all the way to a publish book and. During that journey. They're often working with other people to help them refine their content, make it even better. It's not, no one sits down and produces a perfect first draft, no matter.No matter how talented the writer. So a lot of these writers, what they did, they create systems and processes. there's no shortcut to writing, but just sitting down and actually writing. And to your point and something you mentioned earlier, the more you do it, the more motivated you become and the easier it gets in that you don't feel like you're constantly pulling your own teeth just to find the right word every time.even if you. Produce a first draft that needs a lot of refactoring. You still feel like it's not taking you as long as it did when you first started a blog maybe a year ago or two years ago. so I think it's, the more you do it, what you're actually doing is that you're creating quick wins for yourself.Which then motivates you to continue, which, helps you stay on track. Glenn Stovall: [00:18:22] Yeah. I love that you call it re factoring it too, because a good thing is if we're posting online, it's not like a printed book where you printed it. It's done.  I have very frequent, like I've written an article and then I get some comments or someone's Oh, you forgot about this.Or. You didn't consider this case. I'm like, Oh, you're right. I'll just go rewrite that section. Stephanie Morillo: [00:18:43] Yeah. Yeah. That's true. It's and the refactoring is true. Whether or not it's a print article. a printed article or not. with a printed article, it'll likely go through multiple rounds of editing.So if you're writing for a publication, you'll have an editor and that editor will go through everything with a fine tooth comb. Just making sure that that everything looks as polished as possible. And. Before we publish a blog post, we should just, we should do that on our own. We should do some kind of refactoring on our own just to make sure that things look polished, that it's, that it's readable.That it's understandable that it's something that a reader can comprehend. And of course, like you said, we always miss things. Like I will publish a blog post after having edited it a bit. And I'll always find a typo, or I might even find that I can say a sentence better. I can reword it, rephrase it. And it'll sound better and I'll go in and make the change.And then, yeah. And people will say, Hey, by the way, I saw this, you might want to update that. And that's something that you can do quickly. So it's never just a finished static product, especially if it's online content. It's something that you can and should update and maintain. Glenn Stovall: [00:19:46] so that companies will be sent melts.I wanted to dive in a bit, when you were talking about ideation and reusing old content, that's doing content audits because that's a word I've heard a lot, but I've ever really been clear, like what exactly a content audit is, or if I wanted to audit. My own content, because like I said, I've been writing stuff for number of years. , how would want to approach a content audit? Stephanie Morillo: [00:20:10] So it depends on the number. On the amount of content we're talking about. So I'll give you an example. When I was a writer on bumbler, so bundlers the dependency manager for the Ruby programming language, I was responsible for, managing their concent strategy for their online documentation site.So I decided to do a content audit to better understand what content we had. What state it was in. we just, I didn't know what we had and, what I ended up doing was that I actually ended up downloading an SEO site crawler. So the site crawlers are really cool. They will. It sounds like what it is, right?There's a spider that crawls your site and then it'll spit all of the metadata into an Excel spreadsheet. And the metadata that it usually grabs are things like the URLs, the page titles, header, tags, any other kind of meta-tags that you have in there? if they can find information about when this was last published or updated, that kind of thing.So you use that almost as your. As your skeleton. And then what that allows you to do is to go through each piece of content, one by one to determine whether or not it's something that is, is something you want to keep. So you might actually want to use that site crawler. And then in addition to that, look at your site analytics data, and you might decide, okay, this is a, an article that I published in 2012 and it gets no traffic.In fact, this is something that. This is the kind of content that I wouldn't even write about anymore. So you might want to decide whether you want to update it. you want to keep it as is, or if you want to remove it. So a content audit is you first, you're basically creating an inventory of everything that you currently have.You're trying to understand the state that it's in. And you're trying to understand if this content is something that is actually not just driving traffic to your site, but it's something that's actually relevant to readers. I don't know, five years ago, maybe your blog focused on one particular topic.And over the course of time, your audience changed. maybe you pivoted your business or something. And as a result, the content that you've produced over the last three years, it looks vastly different than what you produced five years ago. She made that pivot. You might want to say, I got to figure out what to do with all this older stuff.It's still on my side. It's not really, it's not really doing anything. It doesn't matter if I keep it, but I really want to track certain kinds of  and all of this old stuff is not really helping me. So that's what it is. It's just, it's an inventory. You're trying to go through, determine the state and determine whether it's something that is meeting either your objectives or your readers objectives.It's very tedious as it's as tedious as it sounds. but it's, it's a worthwhile exercise, especially if you happen to have a big blog or a big website. Glenn Stovall: [00:22:45] Yeah. Okay. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So just going to inventory and figure out. Where to go from there. And that's something else I've wondered too, is about content strategy, which is another word I hear thrown around a lot at night and be particularly curious.I know you've done a lot of work at big companies, but how you see content strategy, big companies, and also. if I'm just an independent developer and I want to start a personal blog, how much should I think about content strategy? What would that look like? Stephanie Morillo: [00:23:14] So content strategy, a definition that I like that was coined by a content strategist named Christina Halverson is that content strategy is the planning for the creation, maintenance, and governance of useful and usable content.It's not the same as content marketing. So content marketing is, our. Art is content that is created specifically to, to, to like address or attract, a customer need on a site. if you're trying to attract a specific type of customer, you're trying to get them into your funnel.You might use content marketing to address that, so that customers at different stages of the funnel, you're trying to get them as close as possible to like the purchase decision. Content strategy is. All is looking at content really holistically. It looks at your product content. It looks at your marketing website.It looks at everything that you have that is meant to be consumed or used by users and trying to determine whether or not it's actually aligning to a need. So content strategy is important because it asks why. Why am I doing this? Why am I creating this video? Why am I creating a podcast? Does this article actually fulfill a need?And it's, in that sense, okay. For a larger company, as you might imagine, concent strategy can be quite a beast. universities have concent strategists, and they're wrangling sites that are like 20, 30,000 pages, deep trying to determine whether or not. the content is find-able, people can find it, people can use it, that it's actually relevant to them, but for somebody such as yourself.So you're. you're an individual developer and you're a business owner, right? You're a freelancer. When you're thinking about content strategy, you might want to think about things like what kind of content channels do I want? So one thing that we, it's not unusual, it happens to all of us is that we jump on the shiny new toy.Thinking that, Oh, maybe this is a way to attract an audience. I've seen people create podcasts because that's the du jour thing to do or create a screencast or to start Twitch in addition to blogging. Now, while that might be tempting for you, as a freelancer, you want to, you shouldn't do that. This is where constant strategy comes in. You shouldn't do that without really understanding if this meets the needs of your audience. Is it something that your audience actually wants? And thirdly, if you can actually. Maintain the thing. Is there a governance model around your Twitch stream, your, this, that, and the third, because if you find that you are overwhelmed by all of these different types of content that you're creating, then you like, what's the plan for maintaining it and keeping it going over the long haul.So it might be things like. Okay. I need to determine what specific types. So if content I'm actually going to create, so I don't know the nature of your business, but for my business, I try to focus it on content strategy, content creation, writing, things like that. I'm not going to talk about.I'm not going to talk about visual design. I'm not going to talk about, I don't know, I'm not going to talk about, engineering management, because that doesn't align with my goals, As a business owner, but also what my audience needs. They don't need that for me. There are other people that do that, but what they do need from me are the things that, I've carved a nation.So that's what you have to think about is You don't want to create content for content's sake. that a lot in content marketing. it's not everyone that does that, but that a lot, right? Oh, for SEO, we're just going to write like this beginner article. That's great. But is that something that people really need from me?Are you actually addressing what they need? So your goal is to understand your user very well to know how to find out what it is that they need. From you, even if they can articulate that yet, and for you to present that solution and you're doing that, and you're trying to be as relevant and as close to the customer or the user as possible, as opposed to just blogging about like how beautiful the dandelions were outside and have that live aside, Next to a blog post that you're writing about JavaScript, for example, huh? Glenn Stovall: [00:27:10] Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. I think a lot of people hear blogging and they think about how some people do it or how it used to be like very early in the internet where it was just like, literally like my journal, but I'm going to publish it.Stephanie Morillo: [00:27:24] Where now it Glenn Stovall: [00:27:24] can just be, it could be something where, like you said, you can build up a brand, build up, help serve an audience, actually help people. And actually, could be something that if you're strategic could help you improve your business or career. Stephanie Morillo: [00:27:39] Oh yeah, absolutely. I think, Early on in the internet, it was very much like a journal, Blogging was like a journal and it was like a trash can for all of your ideas. if you're, and it's not just if you're trying to build a business, but if you're trying to use your blog as a way of getting people to know who you are, what you're interested in, staying as close to staying.Basically staying as close to topic to your main topics as possible is important. So one thing that I'll do, for example, with if we look at a content, got it, I'll go through my blog and I'll look at the blog posts that I've written in the past. The ones that high-performing the ones that aren't, and I will actively unpublished blog posts.I've done it, especially because you know what I cared about, what I was interested in three years ago, doesn't necessarily all of it doesn't necessarily apply to what I'm trying to do today. So I want to make sure that the content that I do have there, all of it is useful no matter when it was published.And that it's something that aligns with. With my brand, with my messaging, with my value proposition. if it quantity, isn't the thing with content strategy or even with blogging today is that I really believe that it's not about quantity, that it really is about quality. And for you to get to that quality, you just have, you have to know your audience very well.And what your value prop is. Glenn Stovall: [00:28:57] So that led to another good question. What would you say are some of the things that. Can differentiate between low quality and high quality content. Stephanie Morillo: [00:29:06] Yeah. Low quality. as when it comes to writing or anything content, it's all really subjective, right?Like it's hard to, there aren't any hard measurements. but I think that there are specific aspects of writing that. That can for example, like posts that, that don't have any structure, that to me is something that's indicative of low quality or something that reads like it was stream of consciousness, where there are a lot of typos where, there are missing steps.What that indicates to me is that the writer, was that the writer did not spend enough time after the initial drafting phase, trying to make sure that. What they created was something that was, that could be readily read it readily consumed by a user readily consumed, sorry, by a user. I find that posts that have been written really quickly where people don't check for like basic spelling or grammar, where you don't find headers or where the writer doesn't indicate what kind of, prerequisite knowledge somebody needs before they look at the article that tends to signal, something that, that was just quickly put together and put out.So I always, I really strongly advocate that a lot of writers, They have somebody, it could be a friend even review a post just to help you get the perspective of the reader. what was somebody who did not know anything about what you wrote? How would they react to this if they were looking at it for the first time?And I think that's an important thing for the writer to keep in the back of their mind. Oftentimes writers are very much in with reason, consumed with actually getting their thoughts to paper that they, are, they don't have enough. They don't actually save any kind of mental bandwidth to think about what this looks like.From the readers perspective and getting someone who is looking at it with a fresh set of eyes, I think lends a lot of value and can actually help you improve your quality because they might not just spot typos and stuff, but they might actually find that you're missing information. That's crucial for the reader.There are areas that are not very clear at all, that they were very confused by or frustrated by what you're trying to do is limit the distractions in your piece so that someone can read it and comprehend it and do whatever it is that you want them to do, which is why they're reading it. So if you're creating a tutorial, And it's hard.This is easier said than done. You basically want to make sure that the writing you're creating, you're not actually creating any obstacles or roadblocks. You're trying to remove them through the course of the piece. those are just some things formatting and stuff like that. Glenn Stovall: [00:31:50] that makes a lot of sense or like that model of removing the distractions and removing the roadblocks. who are some writers that you read a lot, that you find that you are really enjoyable, that really inspire you? Stephanie Morillo: [00:32:04] Wow. Any kind of writers or folks in the tech space, Glenn Stovall: [00:32:06] any kind of writers, Stephanie Morillo: [00:32:08] I'm a big fan of Paul Ford's writing. Paul Ford wrote the, the Epic article. What is code five years ago and Bloomberg.And any time I read his writing, I quite enjoy it. the folks at his agency, pulse light, I find that they write really great content. That I enjoy reading. I enjoy reading a lot of Amy Hoy's writing. It's a lot of personality in her writing. And I find that her writing is very conversational, which is excellent.It takes you, it's like it's a narrative. A lot of her writing is very much a narrative structure and it's almost like she's talking to you. And she does that in a way. That's really excellent in terms of. Technical content. they're not specific writers, but specific companies that I like. I really like mode analytics.I looked at mode's SQL documentation a few months ago when I was trying to learn SQL myself. And I found that there, their cul basics tutorial was just fantastically we're in. And I felt I. Understood a lot of concepts that I had trouble understanding with other tutorials with them. And I will always go back to digital oceans tutorials.I haven't worked there for two years, so I have no skin in the game, but I will tell you that their technical writing is absolutely top notch. and I always point people to their writing. Glenn Stovall: [00:33:22] Yeah. And I th I think it's in your book. We'll include the link here. I think they have some guides on how they ask people to write.There are two doors lock invitations that you can use yourself, which are super helpful Stephanie Morillo: [00:33:34] for sure. Glenn Stovall: [00:33:35] Yup. Something else I'll throw out to the user. There's a lot of companies out there you can find they'll have some documentation on their writing or their style guides to, do they use internally?I know, I don't know if it's still up. I know MailChimp has a, they had a style guide up. That was a really fascinating, great it's incredibly well thought out and they're known for it. Stephanie Morillo: [00:33:57] Yeah, it was the MailChimp content style guide. And that was a, that was actually considered like a, like the golden state standard, even if for a lot of content strategists because of the, just the nature of their style guide and how they broke everything down.the fact that they made that available to the public, which is also really awesome. It's a lot of times companies will make style guides proprietary and they'll keep it internally. So it's nice to see how other companies approach their style guides. in terms of like technical documentation, get lab also PR also publishes their style guide.Microsoft does, and Google also makes their technical writing style guide available to the public. So there are quite a number of style guides out there already that. Are awesome for folks who are just trying to understand the, or see some examples of really good writing and apply that in their own writing.And the great thing is that because they make it available, you can apply those same, those same concepts and those same writing styles to your own work. Glenn Stovall: [00:34:55] Yep. Sounds good. All right. we'll, for the listener, I'll be sure to dig up as many of these as I can. We'll listen to them all be in the show notes and also that Stephanie, people want to find out more about you and what you're doing, where can they find you online?Stephanie Morillo: [00:35:06] You can find me on Twitter @radiomorillo that's R our ADI O M O R I L O. And you can find me at stephaniemorillo.coGlenn Stovall: [00:35:14] Alright, and then, did you have anything else you want to plug at this time? Stephanie Morillo: [00:35:18] Nope, that's about it. I'm always welcome to. Chatting with folks online. So if you have any content questions and such, please feel free to reach out to me, I would be happy to help.All right. Glenn Stovall: [00:35:27] Sounds good. Thank you very much. Stephanie Morillo: [00:35:29] Thank you.  
  • Production Ready podcast

    Inhumane software is causing a physician shortage w/ Lauren O'Meara

    25:58

    Episode Links Laura's company: Plum Flower Software DocLauncher Calerity The 9 Ways to Make Your SaaS Customers Hate You, Ranked HotJar FullStory Nick Burns, Your Company's Computer Guy (note: don't be that guy) 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design Tech Humanist: How You Can Make Technology Better for Business and Better for Humans by Kate O' Neil Center for Humane Technology TranscriptionGlenn Stovall: [00:00:00] hey everyone. I'm here with Lauren O'Meara and we're here to talk about humane software. So how are you doing today, Lauren? Laura O' Meara: [00:00:05] I'm great. Happy to be here, Glenn. Thanks for having me Glenn Stovall: [00:00:08] glad to have you on. And so we were talking over email a bit about how I guess to start. Why don't we, could you tell the listeners a bit about who you are and what you do?Laura O' Meara: [00:00:17] Sure. I'm a developer by background. I got a degree in computer science and have been programming seems like always. And, At some point, decided to hang out a shingle and do it on my own, stop working for somebody else and see if I could make that fly. so I started my company plum flower software, and we were a general software consultancy.And now we make software for physicians and our mission is to save doctors time. Glenn Stovall: [00:00:49] What kind of software do y'all make for physicians? Laura O' Meara: [00:00:52] We have to a software as a service platforms. I'm one of them, doc launcher is a communications platform. So basically what it does is it saves doctors time searching for information.They got mobile resources, everything that's important to them. And instead of digging through emails and intranets and shared drives, they can find what they need. And. a couple of seconds rather than 15 minutes searching. And the other platform is, automated physician scheduling. Glenn Stovall: [00:01:24] Oh, very cool.so earlier we were talking a bit about how you said one of your passions was humane software and how that affects physicians directly, right? Laura O' Meara: [00:01:33] Yes. so Glenn Stovall: [00:01:34] I guess, could you tell us a little bit more about that? Cause you mentioned that there's a possible physician shortage going on in the United States right now.Laura O' Meara: [00:01:42] Yes. There's a terrible problem right now of physicians burning out. people go into medicine primarily because they care about other people. They want to heal hurt. They want to improve people's quality of life. they're driven by the healing and there are many factors to physician burnout.yeah, just simply the nature of the work. If you're an emergency room physician, for example, you're encountering gutting situations, in your everyday experience and you eat, you've got to develop a way to deal with that. If you're going to continue to deal with that. But there are other factors outside of the job, including terrible software that they have to use.and so a drum you might hear me banging a lot is, that the major piece of software that they have to use as the electronic health record or electronic medical record system. And it's horrible. the realization for me when I was a kid, while I was still in college and computer science, I came home from school.My dad is a doctor. I looked at his office software, and I was like, Oh my gosh, w. This is what you have to work with. there's so much better faces and tools and things for you to be using. And he was like, yeah, no, like good luck changing it. This is the system. This is what we live with in medicine.Glenn Stovall: [00:03:06] so on that note, do you think there's a particular reason that in the medical field you see a lot of lower quality software? Laura O' Meara: [00:03:15] yeah, I really, I think about it all the time. there are a lot of reasons, again, one reason that sure of you, you can't change things rapidly. Or are, you have to be very careful about changing things rapidly, right?Because the primary part of the job is taking care of people. And so you have to do things quickly. You have to rely on your tools and a simple interface change can really trip a doctor up, Even if it's a change for the better, if they're used to doing it a certain way, unless you're very careful about training them about something's coming, and this is what it's gonna look like.Yeah, you can cause a lot of problems with the software change. Glenn Stovall: [00:04:00] Yeah, I guess that makes Laura O' Meara: [00:04:01] sense. Another problem, is that. healthcare is a business. if you're a hospital and you're going to continue to function and serve your community, somehow you have to make enough money to support yourself.And so it's difficult to find that balance, and the software has to play a dual role, tracking the money and doing the billing. And interfacing with insurance companies and also serving the people that are. Doctors and nurses and PAs and, everybody that's taking care of the patients. Glenn Stovall: [00:04:36] Yeah. I remember, I, a long time ago I worked for an agency and we were working with a radiology clinic, attempting to build some new software for them.Cause their servers that he was using was so difficult to use where they interacted with the insurance company that he had. Two assistants, whoever that was a full time job. So 80 man hours a week just dealing with the Laura O' Meara: [00:04:58] software. Yeah. So for , the electronic medical record systems, the solution that some people are going to right now is hiring scribes.What Glenn Stovall: [00:05:08] do you mean by hiring scribes? Laura O' Meara: [00:05:10] Yeah, they're putting a human interface between the doctor and the software. To save that doctor time and to alleviate it, the, it just becomes, a clerical job, instead of taking care of patients, you're inputting data, you're inputting billing data.so they typically a scribe would be someone with some medical training so that they can interface between the doctor and the computer. It's oftentimes somebody that's in medical school as like a side job while they're in medical school. But yeah, they follow the doctor around and take notes and input that data that is crazy.yeah, it's crazy. Glenn Stovall: [00:05:46] It would come full circle to having assistance just for the computer. Now that's,Laura O' Meara: [00:05:54] there's an AI version of that too. There's a few companies that are working on AI scrubs. Yeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:06:02] yeah, yeah, so you're saying that your agency and some of the work you've done is trying to make this software, or you said more humane for physicians to help them get burnout less and also be more efficient.So how would you define humane? What does he main software mean to you? What makes software humane or inhumane? Laura O' Meara: [00:06:19] I think a lot of where software goes wrong is, we, I think everybody has. Good intentions for the most part, but we become overly focused on one area of good that we're trying to do and lose the balance andconnection to the other areas of impact of that software. so it has to of course meet its goals, but it also has to look at other areas of impact. Glenn Stovall: [00:06:51] what sort of areas of impact? Laura O' Meara: [00:06:53] with the EHR example, the, the clear focus is billing. The clear focus is capturing costs and capturing charges and being able to invoice and being able to track and make sure that you get paid.It's it.It's difficult. There's a large, a long period of time for doctors to collect on billing for anything that they do in the office or in the hospital. so the EHR has meant to help with that, and that's good, but, in the interest of implementing that and not a lot of attention or effort was put on the interface to the doctor.So for example, a watch doctor, she used them. And they'll have to go, 20 clicks out of a patient record into another piece of information, a test result, or an imaging results that they want to reference on that patient. So the one, the primary goal. That has been optimized is the billing function. But the function that suffered is the doctor interface or the individual health care person interface. it just, it takes a long time to do anything, a lot of clicks to do anything.There are a lot of repetitive tasks. and there've been studies on this, that show that I think there was a recent one that said that doctors spend like. Six and a half hours out of the day and interfacing with the medical record alone. not talking to the patient, not, interacting with coworkers and seeking out care, simply interfacing with the electronic health record.Glenn Stovall: [00:08:36] Yeah. Which is crazy because that's just the whole reason why I built software. We should be automating these things and making it easier. Laura O' Meara: [00:08:43] Absolutely. And we can, and it, like in other areas of software it's done, people have built. Great interfaces and great experiences. And you get that software and you feel really happy to be using it.You can feel it making your life better. I think that's why we go into software is we see the potential for helping people. Glenn Stovall: [00:09:08] Yeah. yeah. So I guess on that note, are there, can you think of some specific examples of, how software developers can make their software a bit more easy to use or help prevent some of these problems?Laura O' Meara: [00:09:23] I spend probably more time thinking about. The software engineering process overall. but as an individual, what I've seen myself do is in, we get under pressure. We get under deadlines and pressure to get a task out, to get something implemented and we can lose sight of who's using what we're making.so as best we can taking a step back and. Making time for that empathy, thinking about it from the perspective of the different people who are gonna be affected by our software. Cause it's not always just the direct user. It's not always just the person with the hands on the keyboard. I think about, worker of mine who got some feedback, he made a download screen and, The customer came back and said, Hey, could you make it? So it's one click instead of, like right now to do the download, I have to click on it and then go to the menu and then select download. could you make it a little faster for me?And he refused to do it. He was like, no, you can, it still works. You can do it. we have that capability. If you make something one click instead of three clicks, you have a huge. scale of good that you can create in the world. Cause you're typically, you've got thousands of users and that scales out to all those people, saving all of those people that time and aggravation.Glenn Stovall: [00:10:50] , it reminds me of a quote I heard from Roman Mars he mentioned, cutting 30 seconds from an episode, he's Hey, what if we have a hundred thousand listeners? And we cut 30 seconds from an episode we've saved like 10,000 man. Laura O' Meara: [00:11:00] yeah, totally. And then I think about that statistic with the doctors spending six and a half hours a day. Think about how many thousands of doctors there are. And how many patients they can be taken care of or how much like rest and self care they can be thinking, go home and see their family like six and a half hours a day isyeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:11:27] And yeah, I've seen other developers have that attitude and it does frustrate me to just say Oh, they can technically do it. Okay. I'll try to link the article in the show. And it's I think on stacking the bricks, Amy Hawaiian, Alex Hillman talked about what they called sociopathic customer support.Yeah. This was one of their examples where they're basically, you're saying like, I used, this does have a problem and you respond with, Oh, it's not that bad, or, Oh, that's not really a problem, or, Oh, that's your fault. Actually, you're just a similar vein is when we would get a common customer support ticket, and developers would come back and be like, Oh, they're just using the system wrong.I'm like, yeah, If we're getting dozens. If we get the same complaint, dozens of times a week, then you know, maybe we should stop trying to point the finger back at our customer and say, Hey, there must be something that's confusing or misleading  the way we're our software, it looks to people.Laura O' Meara: [00:12:17] Yeah. And another aspect of that is people don't provide feedback that often, like now that I. Have been running a business for a while and I see how difficult it is to get feedback out of customers. Even if you get one complaint like that represents more than one person. If they're having that experience, there are definitely more people that are having that experience that just don't have time, or can't be bothered to tell ya.Glenn Stovall: [00:12:43] Yeah, that's a, another tool I've used a lot. I like for this situation is a hot jars, one full stories, another one, but there are tools that can record users as they're using it, like records the screen, and then you can go and, they can also do things like heat mapping and clicking, Laura O' Meara: [00:12:58] see where they're having trouble, see where things are getting stuck.Yeah, for sure. Glenn Stovall: [00:13:03] Yeah. And it's another thing too, where I feel like there's this phenomenon where even if you could sit a customer down and ask them, or get them to use the software in front of you, it's a, that kind of observation. You're not going to get how they actually use it. Laura O' Meara: [00:13:16] It's different.Yeah. It, and we've, Everybody feels that way when you're performing in front of somebody else. Glenn Stovall: [00:13:23] Yeah. there's a simple example where, at a job where I was building an internal tool for the team, and I noticed on a Slack channel, if there was a bit of talk about, Oh, we're doing this and this.And that's this is really frustrating, So I pulled one of the managers over and I was like, Hey, I just saw this note in Slack. Like y'all are frustrated. let's talk about it. Cause I want to. Fix this it's just if it was causing y'all headaches every day, it's kinda my job to make your job as easy as possible.It's Oh, it's not that bad. We could work around it. And I'm like, yeah, but you didn't have to, but Laura O' Meara: [00:13:54] that's a beautiful example of you were on the alert, you were looking for the pains and proactively, Glenn Stovall: [00:13:59] Yeah. But then it was face to face it's. I don't know if he thought I would take offense or it would hurt our feelings or something to be like, yeah, And I'm like, Oh, no.if at the interface is crap, let's talk about it. Let's fix it. Laura O' Meara: [00:14:10] we've created that situation for ourselves, right? think about the Saturday night lives character. You're your company's computer guy. Like when you reach out and say, Hey, it's okay. Tell me about it. And I make an effort, even when customers aren't giving feedback to say every time.Every interaction. we would like your feedback. We value your feedback, good or bad. We appreciate it. And we've got to let people know that we want to hear from them. Glenn Stovall: [00:14:36] Yeah. Yeah. For sure. yeah. So you also mentioned process, which I think is interesting. Cause I think that's another sort of flavor of that developer ambivalence is I've heard people they're like, if we have designers or UI UX people, it's Oh, That's their problem or it's sales problem, or, not my problem.So how, what can we do to encourage processes that end up with a better product for the end user? Laura O' Meara: [00:15:02] one thing that I see going wrong in process, people. Rely. So I should probably step back and say, my experience has largely been in, enterprise software. I have built a lot of internal tools, and a lot of, like B2B software.So coming from that perspective, a software project sets up a project team and they rely on the org chart to find the representatives for that project team. , when you're making software, you want to bring in all of the stakeholders that you can and take into account every perspective. that you can, but where I see it going bad is, if you're making a, customer service software, you're making like a call center tool. They'll bring in the VP from the call center to represent that perspective. the VP from the call center, isn't taking calls.They don't no what happens in all know how that tool is going to be used. their viewpoint absolutely needs to be taken into account because they. They are a stakeholder too. And they probably have, reports and dashboards that they need out of the software, but you got to have the hands on keyboards represented, And then when I see the second level of that I see, if the project is doing a little bit better than that, a little bit better than just having the VP come in the room, they'll say, okay, we need to get the perspective of the people using the software. we're not going to invite him to the meeting, but let's put together some questions and we'll go out, we'll send someone out to interview them about the software and, like you said, it's a different, you're not getting your full perspective if you're just interviewing, but somebody wants for 30 minutes about what they think would be good in software for their job.you really, you're going to get a better result if you instead. Identify those people and bring them into as many meetings as you can. And I think the real benefit of that is, besides getting their full input and giving them the time to hear what's being talked about what decisions are being made, and to speak up about.Like everything that's being discussed and not just like a small number of questions that's being brought to them, but there's also cross pollination. the person, the representative from the accounting department can be in there. And the representative from the customer service team can be in there.And there's an interplay between their needs. If there's trade offs that need to be made, then they can. See that and know that, they can give input. I think of, creative suggestions to that negotiation rather than just have the decision made on their behalf. Oh yeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:18:02] Yeah. That's sounds like a really great idea., everyone has their own needs, but they don't think about the other needs and how one might affect the other. Laura O' Meara: [00:18:09] Yeah. And it's much easier and it's a better conversation when it's everybody in the room. I think people avoid it. I think they don't want to have everybody in the room because they're afraid that it's going to be, either chaotic or, two disruptive, but anytime I've seen it happen and it's one of the good things happen.That's when the good. Ideas are generated in the good, conversations are had. Glenn Stovall: [00:18:37] Oh yeah, for sure. I think another thing too is sometimes people just, a lot of this ends up with a lot of people getting their ideas challenged, which isn't something everyone enjoys doing Laura O' Meara: [00:18:49] it.Provides the opportunity for more conflict. and not everybody likes to be around conflict, but. challenging ideas is where you get to the good ideas. Glenn Stovall: [00:19:01] Yeah, , someone said to me recently where anytime you find conflicts or contradictions or things like that just means you found a problem.And wherever there's a problem, there's a solution which is a chance to grow and get better. But for you on the software. yeah. And something else I'd throw out there about making software. There's a, I'll include a link in the show notes, but the, the Nielsen group actually has a, a set of usability heuristics.Cool. It's something I wish every developer would read. Cause it's just. I know for a long time, like UI UX, design interfaces, it felt like something that's I don't know. I guess maybe very abstract, very creative. Like I was just like, Oh, I'm not artistic. I can't make good interfaces, but Laura O' Meara: [00:19:41] yeah, Glenn Stovall: [00:19:42] it's actually just a different kind of systems.It's not that different than building, than writing a database query. It's really efficient. Laura O' Meara: [00:19:50] Yeah. That's a good way of putting it. Yeah. Just to have to get used to that system. Yeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:19:56] Yeah. So just it's simple things where it's like, Hey, make sure the user can see what's going on and what the status of the system is.give them the freedom to do what they want. Give them a way to undo things. If they screw up, keep it consistent, keep it, keep it fast and easy to understand, provide help and documentation where you can. Laura O' Meara: [00:20:18] Those are all great principles. Yeah.  Glenn Stovall: [00:20:21] Are there any sort of like really common, like interface mistakes, people making, you hit on one before we have the, Oh, something takes five clicks that could have taken one. Laura O' Meara: [00:20:30] Yeah. Yeah. you can always reduce the actions to get to where you're going. consistency that you mentioned is a big, Lodestar for us.We, when we're making the decision, we always think. Where have we done something similar before? How could we make this consistent with that? And that helps us, keep the experience from being fragmented and confusing. another thing that's, we've gotten great feedback on is giving multiple paths in.There's not only one way to get there. . So like a lot of times, what I see in the EHR is as you go down like a blind alley and you have to crawl back out of that alley and then go down to another alley to get to another place. But it's, it's not the physical world.There's no real barrier there. You should be able to shoot across the place that you want to go. Glenn Stovall: [00:21:29] Oh, yeah, for sure. It's yeah, I think that's something else that we say with everyone in the room too. I think it's, cause it's funny and Python, I think the programming language designer that he has one of the exact opposite ideas.He's there should be preferably one right way to do everything. But I think sometimes developers. Tend to take that approach when you have different people using the software for different reasons and there's multiple right answers and multiple ways to get to it. Laura O' Meara: [00:21:55] yeah. Yeah. That's an interesting perspective.Like we've we as developers have benefited a lot from, what's the right word, the opinionated. Frameworks, opinionated libraries that say that there's a right way to do something. It gives us an efficiency in development, but it's not necessarily the same thing when you're using the software. Glenn Stovall: [00:22:19] So  developers out there, keep stuff clear and easy to use and, give a crap about your user and think about them for five Laura O' Meara: [00:22:25] minutes. Like I, I get it, w I have sympathy for it. I know I've been that person to, that person that's Oh, don't bug me with this right now.Especially, early days with our company, if there was a lot of pressure  we're responsible for everything there's so much going on. And then we get customer feedback and it's Oh no, not this too. I wasn't prepared for this today. But, and it always feels like it's too much, but every time I've taken a step back and said, Yeah, I got it.I got to make room for this too. I've been glad of it. I've never regretted, like making room for it. Glenn Stovall: [00:23:06] Yeah. Yeah. I think going back to the process, like we just need companies and teams that do consider that one of their objectives or metrics is helping. These is for this stuff. Just like you mentioned, enterprise sales.I, one of my first jobs out of college, I worked for a government contracting software company, which is, I think probably has a lot of similarities to enterprise. By software in the medical field. Laura O' Meara: [00:23:28] Oh yeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:23:29] a lot of what we did was at least when I was a junior, we basically had tickets and our performance metrics or, Hey, how many tickets are you getting done?So we did. Laura O' Meara: [00:23:39] Yeah. It's a perverse incentive. You're you'd want to work fast, not well. Glenn Stovall: [00:23:44] Yeah. And that's what leads to developers being like, Hey, you just said, this is difficult. I'm like, can they do it? Did I do what the ticket said then? Okay. All right. then I get a point on, onto the next one.Laura O' Meara: [00:23:55] Yeah, no, you're right. Like the organization plays a huge role and I guess that's where they talk about, defining a culture. setting up the proper incentives. if our goal is to just make a ton of software quickly, then a quantity incentive is fine. But if we, I really want to make something that people enjoy using and stick with, and I appreciate, then we need to take some other things into account.Glenn Stovall: [00:24:23] Yeah, for sure. For sure. so thanks for coming on Lauren. This has been a great talk. do you have anything else you want to, if you just want to find out more about what you're doing or possibly work with your agency, where should they Laura O' Meara: [00:24:32] go? Yeah, I brought you three things, to follow up on this. one is our mailing list at plumflowersoftware.comIf you want to see, what a software group is doing day to day, week to week on this, a great book on the topic is tech humanist by keto, Neil, and there's an organization called the center for humane technology that has some great thought and, principles on this topic. Glenn Stovall: [00:25:00] Awesome. Sounds great.We'll be sure to include links to all those in the show notes. And thanks again for coming on. Laura O' Meara: [00:25:05] Thank you, Glenn. All right. 
  • Production Ready podcast

    Debunking Recruiter Myths - AMA with Taylor Desseyn

    33:58

    Connect with Taylor Desseyn on LinkedIn. He'd appreciate it. Follow @tdesseyn on Twitter, and join Taylor's text community at: 615-235-5650TranscriptGlenn Stovall: [00:00:00] .Hey everyone. I'm here with, Taylor, Dustin. He's a developer recruiter advocate for Vaco technologies. What's going to be the very first AMA episode of production. Ready? How are you doing today? Taylor? Taylor Desseyn: [00:00:10] Pretty good, man. Hey, thanks for having me super stoked. Ready for some AMA what does that even mean?I see that a lot. Does AMA meet again? Glenn Stovall: [00:00:17] Oh, it stands for ask me anything. Taylor Desseyn: [00:00:19] There it is. Glenn Stovall: [00:00:21] I'm old. Yeah. I guess it should be a Y a it's. Yeah, it was some Reddit. People would say, I love it. Hey, I'm so and so asked to be anything and it used to be something like what we're doing, where it's like, Hey, I'm a tech recruiter.Ask me anything. Taylor Desseyn: [00:00:34] I love it. Glenn Stovall: [00:00:35] It was good marketing and it turned into Hey, I'm Woody Harrelson assistant, but Taylor Desseyn: [00:00:40] I'm Woody Harrelson. Glenn Stovall: [00:00:44] yeah. Taylor, could you tell us Taylor Desseyn: [00:00:45] just Glenn Stovall: [00:00:45] a little bit about your background and how you got into being a, a technical recruiter? Taylor Desseyn: [00:00:49] Yeah, absolutely. I moved up to Nashville for music like everyone else.and I went to the university of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. I'm a big Gamecock fan for those of your listening, reach out to me on Twitter. We can talk about college football all day. but moved up here to the music. Did the whole studio thing, honkytonks, just in touring, played, til 3:00 AM downtown.I realized after going on one last tour, we broke down in the middle of South Carolina, one in the middle of August. And if there's one place where you do not want to break down in the middle of August, It is South Carolina. And it was on a Sunday. We had driven 12, 13 hours from New York city with no shower, no sleep and was sitting outside of advanced auto.And I go, I am done. I'm finished. I'm not doing this anymore. And so I leveraged my network, which is obviously very indicative of what I do now and, was able to find Vaco through a friend of a friend. I've been there ever since I've been a Vaco for nine years, we are privately held, but we are pretty big.Now we're six, $700 million to put in perspective. I think when I joined, we were only 200 million. so I've seen this thing almost go Forex, everywhere. I've been, I've grown teams, three exercise at Vaco. I started out national recruiting. So your typical recruiter that will cold call you and have no idea what I was talking about.I still don't. I just lie better now. and I moved to Raleigh. It was in the research triangle area for a year. Got really more invested on the dev side of things. and then my mentor in Nashville called me back and goes, Hey, I'm moving into a new role. Do you want to come fill my spot? I go.Absolutely. And so ever since then, I've been in Nashville for six years, recruiting engineers front to back, no matter what language I want to be your friends. and I've met, I've ran the numbers. I've met close to 4,000 engineers now at this point in my career, wow. Yeah, man. That's crazy. Yep. So that's a little bit about me at a very high level.Glenn Stovall: [00:02:34] So music, what did you play? Taylor Desseyn: [00:02:37] So I am a drummer. I am was still am a drummer, yep. Glenn Stovall: [00:02:42] Very cool. Taylor Desseyn: [00:02:43] Yep. Alright. Glenn Stovall: [00:02:45] for this episode, I went on a dev.to, I went on Twitter. I went on my mailing list, which if you're listening, you should be on for things like this. But yeah. So I have questions from a lot of different people about.Saying, what have you always wanted to ask your recruiters, but didn't feel like you could say, Taylor Desseyn: [00:03:00] yeah. Yeah. it's a welcome to the next 30 minutes or however long we go therapy session. So just go ahead and lay down on a couch and I will send you to sleep. Glenn Stovall: [00:03:11] Cool. first question I have comes from Natalie over death too, and she says what's a day to day workload look like for a recruiter?What's a day in the life of a recruiter. Taylor Desseyn: [00:03:19] Yeah. Natalie, great question. I think this is one of the, this is one of the biggest kind of myths. not many people know what a recruiter does. Most people, even my mom doesn't know what a recruiter would I do. My mom just sees me at lunches and she's do you ever work?And we do work. We work a lot. and so the typical day life a recruiter is to meet people. developers have, release dates and. Sprint cycles. And you need to push this feature by this time, like recruiters, we have to meet anywhere between 10 to 15 new people a week.So new people, we not to mention maintaining the existing, relationships you have. So that's why I've met 4,000 people. So I basically. Have to figure out some way to maintain 4,000, relationships. And so that's why I've rolled out a lot of different things with text messaging platform and email newsletters and all that.But all that being said, we meet people and then really gets overlooked is after you, we meet people. We have, there's a lot of right initiative work you have to do. Glen, let's say you and I hang out. I get to know about you for about 1530 minutes. I go back to my computer. I plug in all this information about you, to our CRM.What I have to do is I have to send you all the jobs that could be a fit. Then I have to submit you to those jobs. Then I have to line up interviews for those jobs. And then I have to rely on secretary interviews for those jobs. But not only am I doing that for you, Glen, I am doing that for up to 10 other people at one time.So it is just an, it is a massive amount of project management, communication ministrative assistance and just overall networking, which is why I am very loud on social media that I really think you need to follow up with a recruiter. If you are actively working with he or she, you need to follow up with recruiters almost every single day, because we can give very rundown.Yeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:05:06] So I'm curious to say you're meeting 10 to 15 Taylor Desseyn: [00:05:08] new people a week.Glenn Stovall: [00:05:09] So where are you finding these people or what are some of the strategies you've found to continually meet new people like that? Taylor Desseyn: [00:05:15] Yeah. And that's, and again, that's, I've been starting to be really loud on social media about where we should put your resume and what are people seeing?I think the market's really shifted. So since I got into recruiting your main sites where like career builder and dice and monster. So if you don't know about dice, a lot of people don't know what dice.com is. Glen, do you know what dice.com is? Glenn Stovall: [00:05:35] I do remember this from a Y a, yeah, it was like a job board.It was Taylor Desseyn: [00:05:40] it's tech specific, right? So not many people realize that like dice.com is tech specific. So when I started, those are the big three. Now the big three are indeed LinkedIn and dice, With dice, really being the third biggest. So LinkedIn indeed, a really taken. the, hold on the job search process.And so every single day recruiters, every single morning log on to all these job sites, blindly email people. Blindly email you Glenn in and hopefully Glenn, you get back to us because we have metrics we have to hit, which is why so many people get emails from recruiters because we have to essentially spray and pray because we have to hit these metrics.Fortunately at Vaco, we don't hold those people. We don't hold at least. So my team, I manage a team of nine recruiters. I don't hold my team and non recursive metrics. we do have metrics in place, but yeah. It's more afford organic conversation on the back end of things. but yeah, that's where we find our people.Indeed. dice.com and LinkedIn. Glenn Stovall: [00:06:36] Yeah. That is really interesting. Cause I've always wondered that too. Or I occasionally get, I would get the recruiter, emails where, we were talking a bit before the episode. You say you work with a lot of.net people and I've never done any.network. And I get, Hey, do you want to [email protected] C sharp application?I'm like, yeah. There have to be people who have less than zero of this. Yeah. But, but I guess that's good to know. I guess in this case it was just like, Hey, no, I don't have that, but I do have these skills. Taylor Desseyn: [00:07:04] Yeah. Yes. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. and I think too, I think this kind of goes into another thing about how to write a resume, how to write a LinkedIn.To me, you don't want to put skillsets on your resume and your LinkedIn that you haven't used. And you want to use, because that can be misinterpreted. I think a lot of recruiters who are very young in their career have a very like narrow mindset, right? So they see angular on your resume. They're like, Oh my gosh, this person it's got a ton of angular.But they didn't look at the fact that Anglo, it was listed in like side projects. You know what I'm saying? Or wants to learn. And so you have to be careful on how to notate your resume and your LinkedIn to where it's well written. You can still. Communicate what you want to get into, but that recruiters are not misled on what skills you have or don't have. Glenn Stovall: [00:07:47] Makes sense. yeah, you're talking about the developer's skills and how you represent yourself. That leads in pretty well to the next question I have also from Taylor Desseyn: [00:07:54] Ghana. Good. I claim that I'm just kidding. Glenn Stovall: [00:07:57] yes. That's from Anik on dev.to Says, should a developer apply to jobs where they don't meet all the requirements on the job posting?Taylor Desseyn: [00:08:05] yes. So that is a really good question. I think right now, especially too, I think you need to submit your resume. let me rephrase that, Glenn. So I did a post about two and a half weeks ago on LinkedIn about Not submitting in your resume, two job postings, and it blew up and I'm gonna answer this question in a way, but I think right now, I think everybody's submitting their resume everywhere and you're not going to stand out.And so for me, what I did, what I said in my video, and you can check it off, you connect to me on link them is I think you should. When you see a job posting that looks interesting. Look at that job posting and then take the search, that company name on LinkedIn, connect with those individuals on LinkedIn message, the individuals within your obviously kind of areas.So like I'm not saying go message a bunch of admin assistants to go talk to developers for our developer job, but message LPARs person on the dev team and say, Hey, listen, I see this posting, who do I need to speak to? Can you get me connected? Absolutely. Here's my senior lead. The connections made there.You have an organic conversation. I think that's the way you should navigate the job search right now because the amount of job seekers right now that are on the market have five X right on. I tell people at any given point, I was working with 10 developers at one time pre COVID. Now I'm up to 50 developers at one time that I'm working with.And so it's just a massive amount of people in the markets. You have to try to differentiate yourself. And the only way, the best way I know how is to network with people over LinkedIn. So that is my 2 cents on applying to job postings. But if you do want to apply to job postings that you aren't a fit for yes.Do it. As long as it's. Now, if you're a junior developer applying for a principal architect, don't do that. But ultimately, you obviously want to keep it within the range that you're in, but I would absolutely submit your resume. Glenn Stovall: [00:09:53] Yeah, no, that totally tracks I've. anytime I've been job hunting, I've ever, I liked the strategy of reaching out to them.I've done it with people already in my network, but I've. Always just felt like a most jobs aren't posted online. M B like everyone goes directly to the application form, so it doesn't actually do that. Good. And you'll see people online on Reddit and deputy they'll say, Hey, I filled out like 200 applications and I've gotten two or three interviews and it's Taylor Desseyn: [00:10:20] Yeah.it's a lot, right? I see on Twitter, all these devotees, like I submitted your resume. I submit, Oh my gosh, the job search is so exhausting and listen to the job. Search is absolutely exhausting. I'm not going to diminish that whatsoever, but it's man, I submitted my resume to 700 app 700 applications.why the heck do you think it's exhausted? Why do you think you're not getting where you're doing the same dang thing. 700 times. Stop it. yeah, I think you really need to reverse engineer, the job search process. Glenn Stovall: [00:10:48] Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. so had a couple of questions to some people are wondering about how much, technical expertise our recruiters have.one of the questions, Taylor Desseyn: [00:10:57] David Glenn Stovall: [00:10:57] KPN on Twitter wanted me to ask, Taylor, what's the difference between Java and JavaScript. Taylor Desseyn: [00:11:02] I love that, I saw that. I do know that there are different. I do know one is a little bit more of a, the backend language, I guess you'd say JavaScripts, the backend language too.at the end of the day, one is job. One is JavaScript. They're very different. That's about all I know now. That being said, I do you try to take pride in my and training my team of nine recruiters to make sure we do not sounding competent at what we do. I think a lot of times, recruiters are, recruiters couldn't even tell you.You know the difference between .net, Core .net, MVC. And I think the biggest thing is I don't even know the major differences, but I don't, I know they're different. And I think recruiters need to be, what is it, a mile wide and inch deep to be very successful. But unfortunately, most recruiters aren't even an inch wide, an inch deep.and we're just like, Oh, I don't see any angular. I don't see angular. I don't see angular nine on your resume. most developers aren't going to write. They have angler non-experience we're just going to write angular. Most recruiters don't know the difference in angular JS, right?Essentially angler JS is one dot X and Angular is two plus. And so all that being said, most recruiters are not technical. There is not really a training program for recruiters. A lot of recruiting firms only care about, volume and cash money in the door quickly. And unfortunately, as a recruiter, you can be pretty bad at your job instill like.Do okay. In regards to a living perspective. but it's, I try to take pride. My team tries to take pride in knowing a lot, I go to conferences, I speak at conferences. I listen to what's on the podcast. I interview developers to learn about, different things and the latest features.And. but I will tell you, most recruiters are not educated and the ones that are educated and you can tell they're educated, stay really close to them because those are the ones that's going to make you a lot of money down the long run. Yeah, that's Glenn Stovall: [00:12:50] good to know. And something else I've seen in my experience is that sometimes I've had experience with recruiters, understand that two things could be closely related skills are transferable.Like it's, I feel like one example where I had done. Some work with a view, a JavaScript framework. Yep. And they were looking for someone who was doing react, which was a JavaScript framework. And they are very similar frameworks. Taylor Desseyn: [00:13:15] . Or Glenn Stovall: [00:13:17] someone's I've been writing Java suit for 10 years and they're like, I don't see node on your resume.It's that's just Java script on the backend. what was the old joke?  Hey, I see you've painted a lot of blue houses before, but can you Taylor Desseyn: [00:13:30] paint a greenhouse? Yeah. In house experience Glenn Stovall: [00:13:33] on your resume. And Taylor Desseyn: [00:13:34] they're like, I think I can figure it out and listen, man, I'm going to be honest with you.I, it's not sometimes the recruiters like clients just don't get it, man. like we have, I'm not kidding you. I'll never forget this. I think it was when I first moved back to Nashville, I had a really good data engineer and the client goes, Hey, she has 85% of the skills, but we're not hiring her.And I'm like, what is that? Now looking back on it, I'm like, what is that say about your organization that you're not willing to train the last 15%. And so it makes us look bad. It makes recruiters look bad because we're like, Oh, the client said you don't have 15%, but we're still having to deliver the news.And so I think a lot of times while yes, most recruiters don't understand that Node a JavaScript framework. But the client could be saying, no, we need five years of Node experience. And so it makes the recruiters look dumb because we're like, Oh, it's not on your resume. And so it's just this push pull thing.I listen to recruiters are pretty terrible what they do, but also companies are pretty terrible at hiring as well. Glenn Stovall: [00:14:37] Especially when, like the number of technologies it's just grown and grown over the years. So if you're looking at experience with nine very different things, what are the odds that I've happened to work with?Like those exact nine Taylor Desseyn: [00:14:47] shows. Yeah. And it came companies hire for that, man. They're like, yeah, we need these six things. And it's do you need these six things? Or do you need two of the six? And the other four would be great. And so that's where you really need to dig in from a recruiting perspective.And our sales team does a really good job at Vaco where it's okay, listen, You say you want all of these skills? Give me a percentage breakdown of the specific skills you're using the majority of the day. They're like, Oh, they're actually using the react 75%. No, 25%. Okay. then that means to me, you really need a react guy.Or girl. And but again, most recruiting firms don't take the time to train their people. And in my mind, if recruiting firms would just slow the heck down, train your people the way they need to be trained. Oh my gosh, you would make 10 X the money, but like everything else, people just want cash in the door quickly and don't care about training  Glenn Stovall: [00:15:38] yeah.Speaking of cash in the door, that was another question I've had, how. what did the economics of recruiting look like? my understanding is most recruiters are paid some percentage of the salary offer that the developers that you recruit end up getting by the Taylor Desseyn: [00:15:52] company. Yeah. Yeah. it's, we work out a fee, so it depends.So if it's direct hire full time we pay. So we work out, we negotiate a fee for the, year salary, right? So let's say you're at a hundred K. We typically get 20, 20%. Let's just say that. but if it's contract to hire, we're given a bill rates, we make sure our candidates are happy.So they get paid what they want to get paid. I walk through the process with the candidate to make sure they understand where the benefits are coming from. why the margin is the way it is and have that organic conversation. I think the natural. argument is that recruiters try to Jack down your hourly rate.And that's true because we cause a lot of recruiters try to make that margin up on the contract side of things, but Vaco, we position ourselves more as a consulting company. So the more you get, the more I get because the bill rate goes up. but again, it is a sticky slope. I think you really need to, this is where, I put a post out the other day on LinkedIn.I was like, you can know it was like a poll. And I said, okay, how do you have a phone call or video call with a recruiter? The first time you meet with them right now, 97% of the people that voted said they do a phone call. It's like, why in the heck, would you not do a video call with a recruiter who could potentially be responsible for the next step in your career?Like to me that just that's mind blowing. And so that's where you really need to like, meet the recruiter face to face, continue to do face to face with them. We're all doing video now. I think COVID, everybody's comfortable doing video calls now before coven was like, Oh, I'll do a Skype call. I barely even knew how to do zoom pre COVID now that's all I do.And so it's you need to make sure you build a relationship with a recruiter because when it comes to money, man, you need to make sure they have your back. Glenn Stovall: [00:17:40] Yeah, it's always wild to me. I remember watching the Jetsons cartoon growing up video call sounded like this amazing thing. You true thing.And now we're all doing it. No, it's an annoyance. Like I made with a crude or I have to put a button down shirt on over my pajamas. Taylor Desseyn: [00:17:55] Exactly. Seriously, Glenn Stovall: [00:17:58] this is a bit of a tangent. I don't know if you've seen the, That this new app. It's not, Taylor Desseyn: [00:18:03] no, I haven't. What is that? So it's from Glenn Stovall: [00:18:06] the founder of Evernote and they're trying to come up with just a better way to do video calls.Cause we're still in the stone age of this Jetsons technology, but I'm Taylor Desseyn: [00:18:13] sure if you, Glenn Stovall: [00:18:15] have you ever watched the John Oliver show where Taylor Desseyn: [00:18:17] he has I have not, man. I have not. And so I apologize. It's probably stolen. It won't go as well as you wanted it to, but Glenn Stovall: [00:18:23] Oh, it's fine. But this the same way you can basically have a screen behind you.That you can change and give presentations and I don't know. Taylor Desseyn: [00:18:32] That's what I'm supposed to be. Glenn Stovall: [00:18:34] Yes. Nice. Taylor Desseyn: [00:18:35] Nice. Nice. I need to check it out. Let me check it out. Glenn Stovall: [00:18:39] Yeah. So I guess if companies are, are paying you, if you said somewhere in the rate of 20% for a year salary, which seems pretty high to me, like why don't.Why not just do it in house or conversely, if I'm a developer, could I just go talk to a company directly and maybe negotiate a higher salary because I'd be cheaper at home? Taylor Desseyn: [00:19:00] Sure. Yeah. and I've seen this as well. so first off, so I'll try to answer this in many of ways and if I don't answer all of it, please let me know.But so first offer, most developers have enough on their plates. They don't want to go out and actively sell themselves and let's face it. You're a developer for a reason, you probably don't want to be out in front of people selling. and so sure if you want to go out and get networked and get in with companies, yeah.You're probably gonna make a higher rate because essentially you don't, you wouldn't have to work within our rates. They would essentially pay you what our bill rate would be. And but that takes a lot of work on your end. So if you like networking, cleaning, cold calling into companies and doing all that.Yeah, absolutely. I know a lot of developers that just make bank because they're good enough and they're networked and enough where they don't need to use a recruiter. However, most developers, 90, 95% of developers don't want to do that. So that's why you work with us. Cause then we just send, you leads all around town.I'm working with two or three senior engineers right now. and I just literally, they don't even let me, they don't even. I don't even have to send them job descriptions. They trust me enough where they're like, listen, just line up interviews, just line up interviews. Here's where I want to be paid in the range and let's just do it.And so that's the way it needs to be. I would say why don't companies just do it themselves because recruiting is very hard. and if you are tied to companies within their agency, listen, I've never been a corporate recruiter before because I've been very blessed. My entire career has been with Vaco, but.From what I've been told and what I've pieced together, there is more to corporate recruiting than just finding people. You have to work about onboarding and you have to make sure paperwork's done. And I nines and W2's yeah. Other internal process that, at the end of the day, we don't have to deal with like my job, my S my job single handily is to meet as many developers as humanly possible, and then try to match those individuals with people.That's it. Glenn Stovall: [00:21:00] So it sounds like corporate recruiting. It's almost like the difference between sales and enterprise sales. Taylor Desseyn: [00:21:04] sure. With Peter. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. the volume I have to deal with is it absurd? compared to corporate recruiting and also too, like a lot of corporate recruiting Nellis, if you're in corporate recruiting and I am I, and I'm wrong, please find me on Twitter and DME.but like I corporate recruiting doesn't get commissioned. Based off of the people they play. So there's no incentive, For us, there is a low base high commission for what I do. So literally I am. I am, I think I read the numbers. I think I'm like 60% commissioned. most of my salary, 60, 60% is commission.Wow. And so You know where they were talking about, Dan coven times. it's, it's a lot. And that's so that's why companies don't just go within, that's why they hire us because that's just all we do. so hopefully I answered those, all those layers of questions.Yeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:21:55] Yeah. I think so. and you mentioned like recruiting during COVID-19, how has that changed? both for you as a recruiter and in your experience with the developers that Taylor Desseyn: [00:22:03] you're working with. It's changed and also Glenn, great questions, man. I really appreciate it. but it's changed because I now see the importance of digital content and strategy.I think there is, I think now, and I think now, and quite frankly, probably for the next three to five years, let's face it, right? Like we're not like, did like this isn't going away in a year. This whole working from home thing. And quite frankly, there's, there's murmurs with companies in town.we've had one client shut down their entire office and it was a big office and they are fully remote now and Vaco and we don't have policy at about coming back into the office after COVID, but that's the thing, when does covert end. And so right now it's completely changed the recruiting game for me, because the only way I'm able to get my name out there is by marketing and content strategy.I've really doubled down. I've hired up. A marketing guy that I went to college with, actually he was a music major and switched to content marketing. He owns a small marketing agency up in Lexington, Kentucky, and he does all my content strategy. so I'm doing that, doing a lot more videos on me and a lot more cooler people.let's be honest, Glenn, I don't know if we would have necessarily met. maybe we would have met, I think I'm meeting a lot of cool people like yourself. too, During this timing because everything's remote, right? I'm talking to two software development shops in Knoxville, Tennessee who wants to work with me to staff up their teams, that would have never happened pretty COVID.I think from a development perspective, I think it's finally allowing developers to work remote. And it's, and I think that's been, pretty cool. and it's really leveled the playing field with talent as well. You have San Francisco individuals looking out here now.and so that's a pretty cool trend. And I think that trend is here to stay for a bit, at least. Glenn Stovall: [00:23:49] Yeah. it's been really interesting where I've, I know a lot of people have a lot of anxiety and justifiably, so just, look at yeah. Everything, but it does seem that there are some benefits to that.Like you said, like there are more remote opportunities. It's a bigger playing field. There's also more people on the markets. Taylor Desseyn: [00:24:05] Yeah. that's another thing, right? more opportunity work remote, but more people in the market. I think salaries are raising a little bit because I know companies are not like great.Now we have to compete. Against the region now. So Nashville's got to compete with Atlanta pricing. And so that's, so I'm seeing the rates go up a little bit. which is good for us, we are salary negotiations, but, yeah. I think a lot of goods come out of this. I overheard.I'm sure you've listened to him, Gary Vaynerchuk. he's, I listened to him a ton and, he was doing his marketing for the now where he brings on some CMOs and stuff. And one of the CMOs is I feel like pandemics and natural disasters either take time back 20 years or fast forward 20 years.and th they all agreed that COVID has fast forward the workplace 20 years, in regards to fully remote. More flex schedule, and that side of things. And so I know it's been good for me. I have a newborn and so it's been great to be home and near her and watching her for the first six weeks of her life grow up.So Glenn Stovall: [00:25:02] congratulations by the Taylor Desseyn: [00:25:03] way. Thanks, man. Appreciate it. Glenn Stovall: [00:25:06] yeah. So you're talking about digital marketing and stuff in that. Taylor Desseyn: [00:25:08] yeah, so I had some notes here. Glenn Stovall: [00:25:09] I was wondering that about developers and creating content and how that helps. I had a list of a few different things. And I was wondering, we can do this a lightening round. how do these things help you in your job hunt, if at all? Taylor Desseyn: [00:25:20] So if you were developing, yeah. I was a developer, so sure. Glenn Stovall: [00:25:24] First one I'd say is having a portfolio site, Taylor Desseyn: [00:25:27] right? so lightning round, so portfolio site needs to be LinkedIn.I think the feature section within LinkedIn is incredibly overrated. I did a live session with Danny Thompson, I think is it's DK or Danny Thompson. Yeah. He's in Memphis, has a huge following, but, that, I think, I know developers love blog sites. They love to have their own portfolio sites.I think you need to, I'm fine if you want to have, I have that up somewhere in the interweb, but I think you need to drive everything towards LinkedIn right now. LinkedIn is having its Renaissance age at the moment. I gave a presentation at Nashville software school to code school grads, last week.And I just got literally right before this, podcast session, I got asked to speak in two weeks there about networking over LinkedIn. I think. I think you need to have in the featured section, your get hub and some other links to portfolio sites, because employers are all over LinkedIn right now. Glenn Stovall: [00:26:25] cool.I think you just answered three or Taylor Desseyn: [00:26:27] four of them right there. Glenn Stovall: [00:26:28] Sorry. No, it's fine. Oh yeah. So you're saying like have a really good LinkedIn there's the LinkedIn feature section. Cause I was also gonna ask about writing and blog articles. Taylor Desseyn: [00:26:37] Yeah. I think if you're, I think you need to be live doc, not live documented.I think you need to be documented every single day, one post a day on a challenge you have faced within your workplace. So it's man, couldn't get this to deploy to AWS today, but I have a lot of problems. Anybody else have any thoughts on deploying to S3? I, my legal name, our player that played music with he is now in Buffalo, New York.he's a data scientist and he has started to really dive into posts on LinkedIn. And he finally had a post that went crazy and he's been at it for about six months and he's been messaging me a lot on what to do and. Posting and why he should post as a developer. And he legitimately messaged me the other day and he goes, Hey, you won't believe this.I got a job interview because of my thoughtful content on Lincoln. Yeah. He goes,  a hiring manager, reached out to me and wanted me to interview. Now. I don't know if that went anywhere, but the thing is though, is that everyone is at home. Everyone can't go to meetups. Everyone can't do it. Any of that.Where's everybody at right now, everybody's on social media and I think LinkedIn's really CA is being hot right now. And so if you're posting one thoughtful piece of content a day on LinkedIn, you are going to turn some heads in and get some people noticing you. Glenn Stovall: [00:27:57] Yeah. What about, what's your take on other social media websites?Taylor Desseyn: [00:28:00] Twitter is pretty crazy. the deaf community on Twitter, I did. Did we meet on Twitter or was it, I think it was national dev. You messaged me. Glenn Stovall: [00:28:07] Yeah, it was the, yeah, the local selection, Taylor Desseyn: [00:28:09] the local Slack channel for nationals, which is again another, tool, right? I don't, I'm not on NashDev as much as I should be because there's a whole jobs community section that I see tons and tons of good conversations going on, but you have to pick and choose your battles.I think. And here's the deal. I want to preface this too. You don't need to be on all these social media sites to build a brand, right? You don't have to have a brand. My brother is an incredible product manager and owner manager. I don't know if they're interchangeable. And he has zero brands when it comes to LinkedIn.And when I say zero brain, doesn't post on LinkedIn and he's not really on Twitter, but legitimate dude has landed an interview like with that Apple recently. And it's he did that on his own by doing the things that I just said. I said earlier about not so many resume about finding, the posting and then connect with people on LinkedIn.But it's like he has no brand and he ended up at Ticketmaster on his own. So you don't have to have it. But I think right now you also don't want to be fired from a job and be like, Holy crap, I don't have a network. And so the way to network right now is to have a brand. If you're passionate about knitting, talk about knitting.I love floral shirts, right? Big floral shirt guy. I'm passionate about helping people on their job search. My data scientist guy talks about theories of, I don't know, data things. I don't even know what it means. just post something, make it thoughtful, make it sincere. And you're going to be shocked with how it takes off.Glenn Stovall: [00:29:29] Fascinating. Wow. Yeah, no, that's really good. I did see a joke online where someone talked about how LinkedIn's are you go to get jobs in Twitter's where you go to lose Taylor Desseyn: [00:29:38] them? Yeah. listen, I, Twitter can get kinda crazy. I didn't finish your question by the way. Yeah. Twitter is really good.Twitter is dev community pretty solid. Twitter is Twitter and LinkedIn are the only places. So if you're still listening to this, like what are we, 35 minutes through? Yeah. If you're still listening to this podcast still. Okay. Twitter and LinkedIn are the only two social media platforms right now, aside from tick tock is wild.Cause tick talks even more crazy organic reached and Twitter and LinkedIn, but I'm not even attempting to get on that right now. At least it's just too much, but for my sanity rather. but Twitter and LinkedIn are the only places where Glenn, if I like your LinkedIn post, my 5,000 LinkedIn followers, see it, same thing for Twitter.Those are the only two places. if I like Glen's post all of my 2,500 Twitter followers, see it. And it's wow, like that's huge. And so for me, that's where, if you're a software engineer, developer want to get into development and software and you're listening to this right now, that's where I'd be posting every single day.LinkedIn Twitter. And people are like, do I have to do I need it? I don't have any thoughtful things to say, just document. People are like, I got to come up with some clever, I just retweet a bunch of developers get involved in conversations, slide into people's DMS. Like it's not hard. just engage with people, but you have to be consistent and it takes time.Glenn Stovall: [00:31:03] Yeah. And, yeah. And if you're listening to this, I'd also recommend it, the list there, if they haven't already go back a few episodes where I talked to Phillip Morgan, he talked about maintaining his daily blog for four years. Taylor Desseyn: [00:31:13] Yeah, we got that. That was interesting conversation. Glenn Stovall: [00:31:16] Oh yeah. And everything has done for his, he runs his own small consulting business, but yeah, it gets a lot into how.Yeah, it's intimidating at first, but it's also like a muscle. You start doing it every day. It starts getting easier. Taylor Desseyn: [00:31:27] I've had to completely transform my morning to content strategy, which is completely different from the norm of what I've been taught recruiting for the last eight years. and I've only really dove into LinkedIn and Twitter for the last year.And my engagement after a year is pretty wild. Like I'm excited to do this for five years to see where it's at. Glenn Stovall: [00:31:44] Oh yeah, of course. And I'm a big believer in that writing is a form of thinking like it's. So having to think, to say you have to like, you have to get out there and write and say things and try to it's you do that.And the work will show you where to go from there. Taylor Desseyn: [00:31:57] 100%. I agree. But, yeah, we Glenn Stovall: [00:32:00] are coming up on about a half hour so we can start wrapping it up. Taylor Desseyn: [00:32:02] Taylor, Glenn Stovall: [00:32:03] where could people find more about what you're doing and see. Where should they reach out to you on social media and see what? Taylor Desseyn: [00:32:08] Yeah, I was yeah, able to get on the, texting community, or the app called community.and, it's the one Gary Vaynerchuk uses and a bunch of other people. but basically shoot me a text, six one five, two, three, five. Five six, five zero again, that's six one five two three five five six, five zero. I send out daily job tips, general career advice, I think right now everything's moving to concierge thing.So concierge doctors, concierge, I don't know. I don't know, dentist or workout. People come to your home and help you work out. I can because COVID is everything is a little bit more. Making people in less big rooms and whatnot. I don't know how I'm trying to communicate right now.Oh, I'm trying to say shoot me a text. and I try to be your guidance counselor on call. Connect me on LinkedIn. Connect me on Twitter at T S and T D E S E Y N. Then I have a bunch of other things, but just connect with me there and then you'll follow the paper trail. All Glenn Stovall: [00:33:01] right. Cool. Hey, this has been great, man.I really appreciate you taking the time to share all this with us. Taylor Desseyn: [00:33:05] Yeah, dude. I appreciate Glen. Thanks for having me, man. Glenn Stovall: [00:33:07] All right. Have a haven't even. 
  • Production Ready podcast

    Working at big vs. small companies & finding your tribe w/ Bobby Burden

    30:02

    Glenn Stovall: [00:00:00] hey everyone. I'm here with Bobby Burden. Who's a software engineer at ups and a board member of Devanooga the local dev meet up here in Chattanooga, Tennessee. How you doing today, Bobby? Bobby Burden: [00:00:09] I'm doing great. Thanks for having me. Glenn Stovall: [00:00:10] Yeah. Thanks. Thanks for coming on. So me and Bobby were talking to the devotee to Slack a bit about, the differences between working at smaller and larger companies and pros and cons of each, when you might want to work with one versus the other.So yeah. About the, you work for UPS, right? Yeah. Yeah. And I've worked mostly for actually looking back on it. I've exclusively worked for smaller companies, my entire career. And by smaller, I'm saying like 50 or fewer employees. Sure. So what's your experience been like? Have you mostly been at bigger companies or.Bobby Burden: [00:00:42] yeah. Yeah. most of the experiences is like your smaller companies. I think the biggest company I worked at before ups had about a hundred employees. so mostly my experiences in smaller companies, ups is really the first large corporation that I've worked for. Okay. Glenn Stovall: [00:01:03] When you started at ups or now that you've worked there for a bit, what are some of the biggest differences you've noticed between working there and other companies?Bobby Burden: [00:01:11] Sure. Yeah. so smaller companies, you have more of a direct line to, steering the company, if you're working at a startup, you might. W walked past the CEO's desk on occasion and be able to grab his ear and that sort of thing. a company like UPS, that's so far removed from you.but most large companies that I've interacted with, they tend to work as a bunch of small pieces, so in my experience, UPS, the. Is it, the business unit that I worked in yeah. Initially was pretty small. Yeah. and so it worked like a small company, but there's a, so much about us that you have to get through.if you want to make a change to something, there's a lot of people involved in that and a lot of people have a stake, that doesn't really happen in a small company the same way. Glenn Stovall: [00:02:05] Yeah. That's definitely been my experience too. There's more of like a freedom versus structure, Bobby Burden: [00:02:09] so yeah, a hundred percent, but sorry, go ahead.Glenn Stovall: [00:02:15] Yeah. that can swing both ways too. Cause having a lack of process can be a bad thing too, if it's, things are to Willy nilly and unorganized. Bobby Burden: [00:02:23] Yeah. And small companies, there really tends to not be much of a structure. Of a process. if you want to present some new projects, some of it is just going and grabbing the right person and talking to them for a few minutes, and getting the ball rolling.but at a large company, it's a process of planning out this project, getting architects involves getting business involved, getting, all of the different parts. Understanding who it impacts getting their feedback. So there is a much bigger process and more, more ceremony I would say, involved in bigger confidence.Glenn Stovall: [00:03:01] Yeah. And you were talking a bit about like impact middle talk directly to the CEO. That's something I've also thought like cuts both ways because. On the one hand. Yeah. If you were to, I guess you could have more impact at the company level when it's a small company. Cause you can, like you said, you can have a direct line to the CEO, but you can also have more impact at a larger company like ups just on the sheer size of it.you could ship features that affect tens of thousands of people. Bobby Burden: [00:03:26] Yeah. A hundred percent. and in my experience, if you're working in a, an, a business unit in a large company, you do have some autonomy there just inside your group to do things and you can make a large impact.that's not, as direct as. launching a new product and a small company, or it's not as direct as, getting the CEO on board of your next change, but you can still launch features, or you can fix problems that affect a much larger customer base. even though it's not as dramatic of a change.Glenn Stovall: [00:04:05] Yeah, that tracks with what I've heard from other people. I've have some friends who work for Amazon and I applied there years and years ago, but yeah, it's very much the same thing where they have the small teams, like it's the way they run AWS is how they run their infrastructure. Every team is like very separate and talks to each other, like through very well-defined interfaces.But yeah, the experience of working with Amazon just under a few people is so wildly different. Some teams are the kind of places where you're expected to work 60, 70 hours a week and some were way more lax. So yeah. You never know. Bobby Burden: [00:04:38] Yeah. So when I started at ups, I was, I started remote and I've been remote since I've been there.And then talking to other people at ups, other teams, they had never heard of anyone being remote. They thought I was crazy. so you can very much see that same stuff, individ, usual groups working differently, but yeah, you do have that interface. it's like a, it's like a large software system, honestly, where all of these pieces are independent, but they have to talk to each other and keeps the ball rolling.Glenn Stovall: [00:05:16] yeah. And so we saw how the different teams work. This is something else I've had some people ask about and we were talking about number of hours. Do you think that larger companies tend to expect more or less work from people? Because I don't know if I don't know. What do you think? Bobby Burden: [00:05:33] yeah, in my experience, I felt I felt that smaller companies wanted more out of me than large companies.when you're at a startup and you have a deadline coming up, it doesn't, it there's all, everything else is still happening. we might have this deadline coming up at the end of the month, but we're also trying to make a sale and I have to be involved in that sale. as a developer, that's going to be implementing it or, there's some maintenance for some other tasks that's going on.There's not enough resources to keep up with the pace. So you're expected to work more to manage that and and a lot of small companies, whereas a larger company, it can, it has the benefit of having more resources available, and tends to manage people's time better. that's not always the case, obviously, The circumstances might mean that you work a lot more one week than another, but for the most part I've found that startups are much worse at respecting your time than large companies.Glenn Stovall: [00:06:38] Oh yeah, for sure. and it's something else. in my experience, it was like, I draw a line between smaller companies and startups. Cause there's a lot of small companies that aren't startups. They're just small by nature. Like I. Bobby Burden: [00:06:50] Yeah, that's a good point. Glenn Stovall: [00:06:51] Yeah. I've talked to a few, I think a lot of especially people who are just getting into software development, they don't realize how much like invisible line of business software is.There is in the world. Like I said, I worked for a smaller company that serves small trucking companies. I think me and Ryan talked about this a bit too, how, like how trucking companies process their addresses, you don't ever see that. Company on hacker news, but Bobby Burden: [00:07:17] yeah. Yeah. there's a silent majority of these midsize companies, that are making a very comfortable market for themselves that aren't on hacker news or aren't glamorous, but it's still a huge market.Glenn Stovall: [00:07:35] Yeah. I think it was on Twitter. I saw Austin all red from Lambda Academy. It was talking about. A huge chunk of the developers out of his code school were getting hired by companies that were less than 50 employees and probably less than 10 million ARR, but there's just thousands of those. It's wild.Bobby Burden: [00:07:53] Yeah. And sometimes the goal of those companies is to be acquired and move into these large corporations, but often it's not, so many of those, Really exist to fill this niche market and they're doing it great. And they're going to continue to, the, probably the biggest small company I worked for, like about a hundred employees and that's what they did as well.it was a market that was yup. Point of sale system, top market. And. that kind of expanded into e-commerce and that piece of business they had, wasn't going away. Wasn't going to get eaten up by a large company, because it was just too small. but it was, plenty, big enough for them to have to make a very profitable business out of.Glenn Stovall: [00:08:48] Yeah. And yeah. Started talking about all these businesses that newer devs might not even realize are out there. if the listener was, say like a junior dev or they're new in the field and they were trying to decide, should they try to get a job at a bigger company, like at ups or maybe even like one of the thing, companies, or try to get a job at one of these smaller type businesses, what would you tell them? Bobby Burden: [00:09:10] I would tell them. To focus on small companies. you can get so much more experience, the cliche of wear many hats, that really does net you a lot of experience and many different things. Pretty rapidly, at a big company, you're going to be filling out a specific role.and it's much harder to move up or make, lateral changes in what you're doing, at a big company. if the smaller the company, the more you can shift around and make a. A rapid reputation for yourself, to get those opportunities. Yeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:09:51] that's interesting. Cause that's something I've thought about too, is you talk about how it's harder to move up at a bigger company, but I thought it'd be the opposite.Cause I feel like bigger companies have more of an up to move into so to speak. Bobby Burden: [00:10:04] Yeah. there's the, I think it's the. Peter principle. Is that what it's called it? RA's to the, Glenn Stovall: [00:10:14] you rise to your level of confidence? I think that's okay. That's it? Bobby Burden: [00:10:17] Exactly. Thank you. and so you end up with, you end up with, a lot of people that are in a comfortable position and you do have kind of a push to move up often and.I mean in my current situation, I could try to move into management. but that's not really where I want to be. and so I may have that opportunity, but it, I'm an engineer. I want to be writing code for the majority of my, my day and in a smaller company, I would have that opportunity.there's more projects, more. or rather there's less resources development resources, so I can fill that role, at a larger company though. It tends to be in my experience that Okay. You're your upward progression? It's it's kept early and then you have to shift out to something else it's shifted over to management or.So like an architecture or something like that, or honestly, move to other teams. and so it, it, from that like junior developer mindset, I think that you're going to get more experience. You're going to get more, more understanding, staying at a smaller company as long as you can.that said, I, I kinda am opposed to most startups. the startup mentality in general, you mentioned like the, the 60 hour week, when you're in a startup like that, and you do have limited resources, there is that expectation of you and that work life balance is hard to maintain.and it's just not good for you from a mental health perspective, in general. So I'm opposed to that and that mentality that you tend to see it startups, which is a generalization. But I think it's relatively fair. And, so I try not to, I try not to push people towards startups, but like you said, that distinction between startup and small company, like small company for a junior developer really is a, kind of the sweet spot.Glenn Stovall: [00:12:36] Yeah. I think it makes sense. something in my personal experience, some of my first jobs, both my starting as a freelance, it was working through agencies and I thought that was another. Good way to get a lot of experience, because you tend to have clients that are, at least the ones I worked at would be some small to medium business.And then, but you have a lot of clients that you have a lot of projects and you can churn through that. It's very easy to get stuck when you have one product you're working on for say two years versus, Oh, you just have a new product every two or three months. Bobby Burden: [00:13:05] yeah. A hundred percent. I worked in agencies before and.Being able to work with a company and, like an eCommerce, like retail space one week, and then, work on data recovery for a law firm the next week. Like being able to work on these different projects and see these different businesses and how they operate, that really does give you a lot of insight.That's really hard to get and other places. Glenn Stovall: [00:13:36] Yeah, for sure. I think the only other thing I'd worry about too, just also thinking about my small businesses, you can learn a lot, but I also feel like early in a career, you definitely want to find a job or you can work under a senior. And it's almost more about who you work with.And sometimes a lot of smaller companies, like you said, they don't have the resources. They don't have as much of that. Like their engineers might need to. keep engineering. So we don't have a ton of time to put it into like mentorship and like investing in junior. Bobby Burden: [00:14:04] Yeah. I think that's like developer groups are really important.joining a local group that can help you and answer your questions, in a more personalized way than something like stack overflow can. I think that really fills that void for a lot of people. especially if they're in a situation like you described where you don't have a lot of opportunity for a mentorship.and another point there is like the people are the most important part in all of this. Is it the teams, the companies I've worked at, the things that always remember about all of them are the people on the teams I worked on. the. my first manager and when I was first a junior developer, like I still remember so much of what he taught me and being able to learn so much in that first year, because he was a very good teacher.and in moving to, Hey, my manager today, like I knew, I know him really well and I'm able to learn from him. and. Get advice from him regularly. And that's for that hypothetical junior developer out there, that's the most important thing is grabbing onto the smart people and trying to learn as much as you can from them while you have them.Glenn Stovall: [00:15:22] Oh yeah, totally. A hundred percent agree. So I'm trying to think. Are there any other sort of factors that would play into the decision of. like deciding what kind of company you want to work for? the one everyone thinks about is compensation and benefits, which I don't know about your experience.It seems, another issue with startups is that, especially if they're early stage, not only are you expected to work more, but they're probably expecting you to work for less because they just don't have a ton of revenue in the early stages. If any, at all. Bobby Burden: [00:15:52] Yeah. that's something, I have to weigh against the experience you'll gain.and a lot of, our industry has this, just tendency of 18 months to two years. And you're like back on the job market trying to go somewhere else quickly. and I think that's kinda, that's born from these. Like startup low compensation. You're trying to move on to the next thing as quickly as possible.And that's certainly valid, to a point, but, a larger company is going to have better benefits in general, just because they have a lot more weight to swing around, and can generally develop better benefits, but at the same time, like a startup, you might have. you might be easier to get like work from home.in any other time that would be like a huge benefit, or you might have things like, parties and stuff. That seems to be a common thing with startups. I beer on tap in the break room, Yeah. And that appeals to a certain top of younger developer. really you want to hang your hat on compensation and actually benefits.and I think that a lot of times. The more junior you are, the more you get swept up in, Hey, we got a ping pong table or, what have you, Glenn Stovall: [00:17:15] yeah. Bobby Burden: [00:17:16] I was just going to say that, it's, that sounds like really cool and everything at first, when you're a few months into it, you're ready to get back on the job market.those kinds of things can only hold you so long. Glenn Stovall: [00:17:28] Yeah, I've never really liked the ping pong thing. And I've seen so many companies that have that, and it's I saw one company that had an arcade machine in the break room, but then no one's on it because it still looks bad. Bobby Burden: [00:17:40] Yeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:17:41] I don't know. I maybe it's just me.I want to go to work and then when I'm done, I just want to like, not be there. I can't, I don't know the scenario. I'm like, Hey, let's play ping pong at work, Bobby Burden: [00:17:50] Yeah. it falls into that, Hey, we're family, you Glenn Stovall: [00:17:53] think, Oh, I hate that crap. Bobby Burden: [00:17:55] Yeah. It's under that same umbrella.and it's deceptive. it feels gross and yeah, I agree. If someone says, we have beer on tap or we have being prime table for me, that's a giant red flag. just not something I'm interested in. Glenn Stovall: [00:18:12] Yeah. I want things like health insurance and a good one. Okay. which I do understand, like I was talking to a friend of mine who does run a small business and I didn't realize how complicated and expensive it can be to set up something like a 401k.Like I was gonna be in the order of like thousands of dollars just to get the program set up apparently. So he's I would like to do this, but. and you only have so much fun. It's like somebody finds it's do I want to put that much money into 401ks? And especially if it's simpler to just be like, Hey, I'll just give you a little bit more salary at least.Bobby Burden: [00:18:45] Yeah. that's where the large company has weight to swing around. can do things like that. and maybe that's what you strive for, those smaller companies. you can really get a lot out of them. and you can really start a career at a small company like that.I don't want to give the impression that compensation is everything or, far from it, but at the same time, you have to make a living. and you have to value your work. Glenn Stovall: [00:19:14] I think that's it. It's I think people should be, like I said, just getting compensated for what they're worth and it's not necessarily bad, Do you have a ping pong table? But if it's, Hey, we have a ping pong table and free snacks. Cause we're trying to make you feel more at home and work more hours for less money. that's not a good thing. Bobby Burden: [00:19:33] Yeah, that's it. That's a bad sign.Glenn Stovall: [00:19:37] yeah. So I guess is there. Anything else that we could talk about? I, there was another one that came up when I was doing a bit of research, but I think this might be more of a like per company thing, but I guess what I'd call it, the tempo of the company. We talked about startups and now it's typically like work hard, move fast and break things.companies I would as bigger companies, I think, some have a notion for being like, Oh, we're going to be a lot more slower. Like you said, there's more processes and checks and Bobby Burden: [00:20:05] balances. Yeah, Glenn Stovall: [00:20:08] but Bobby Burden: [00:20:10] yeah, it's to that point, like I would say that there are definitely, there's definitely opportunity for faster tempo and in large companies.it really depends on the company and it depends on the teams. the difference between one team in a large company and the next. It can be really different. and the way that they structure things and the way that they expect, Tom lawns to be, you, you kinda, you can seek that out in a larger the company and find it.but at the same time, if you go to any startup, it's going to always be like hot tempo. Because they have to be right. So it's like a, it's the situation where, you can either be in the small company or startup, I should say you can be in a startup and work really fast and put a lot into it to hit these, these hard deadlines, or in a larger company, you can.yeah, you have more stability. there's a lot, there's a lot on the line, so there's not as much of a push to get things done quick. It's better to get things done. and so it's a, it feels if you're an engineer and you're wanting to develop things. you want to build good software or you want to build fast software like theirs or build software fast, I should say you can go either way.I would say that in all of that, like mental health, honestly, I would keep coming back to that. what's going to make you sane at the end of the day. and to me. Crazy deadlines does not make me happy. so being able to have some flexibility, some stability, to move deadlines around or, to work with a team that understands, that what we're building has to be, built.Correct. rather than built right now. that's the trade off, I think. Glenn Stovall: [00:22:19] Yeah, for sure. And that's something, some I've experienced as well too with, like I said, it'd have to be done. Which, and again, it can be, it can be both. I've seen it. Like I have a friend who works for get hub and he mentioned that they update production 60 times a day on average, which is just, maybe they're doing like fast, smaller, incremental improvements, but.Yeah, I think that's another benefit you do get from the larger company is you can learn about working like that level of reliability and resiliency and scale. Bobby Burden: [00:22:50] Yeah. to take, to get hub example, it sounds like they have an excellent deployment process. they have all this foundation that they can rely on.so it may not be, yeah, I'm sure they're deploying 60 times a day, but if something breaks there, they have to have a process. they can roll back or they can patch it. Or they're only deploying to an, a small subset of users where they can found these bugs, before they affect everyone.Yeah. there's have having a process. it's something having that contingency plan. If things do go wrong, that's something that's baked into to everything you do and a large company, like w what if this breaks what happens or, if we can't deliver this on time, Tom w what's the best backup plan.and that's not really something that I've seen in smaller companies. It's more of. everything's relying on this. So we got to get it quick and get it done. Glenn Stovall: [00:23:51] Yeah. You just got to get to market, get some revenue, get more customers, keep on hustling. Yeah. So I guess, was there anything else you wanted to add?Bobby Burden: [00:24:03] yeah, I would want to stress like the developer group thing. again, from a junior developer standpoint. Just L just networking with people is such a big part of career development. it doesn't, for me, someone that's naturally introverted, like networking sounds like a horrible thing that I would only want to ever do with Eastern at cable.but when you have to it at some point, you have to do that. And, Just getting out and, and it doesn't have to be like getting out physically, but getting out yeah. To these developer groups online and making yourself known and helping people and getting help yourself. all of those things can help develop your career.and just. apply the effort and you can really develop quickly, develop your skillset and, move along in your career. Glenn Stovall: [00:25:00] yeah, no, I totally agree. It's I feel like the word networking, people get like a bad picture in their head, but it's, it is mostly, like you said, the best networking is like helping people.Or even if you can't help them just being genuinely curious. I think the best piece of networking advice, I forgot. cause I'm lucky I'm introverted. But when I used to freelance, you have to, Bobby Burden: [00:25:23] yeah. Glenn Stovall: [00:25:24] Someone said, when you go to these events, he's Hey, everyone in the world knows something that you don't.So when you go to those events, just try to see how many of those things you can learn. Bobby Burden: [00:25:33] Yeah. just get someone talking about what they're interested in. And just being that ear to hear what they're interested in. can it, the next time that if you talk to someone and they're really interested in blockchain, a buzzwordy thing, right?But that you may encounter some reason to want to know more about blockchain and you have that person you can talk to, or you can relate it to something you're interested in. Just being able to do that and keeps that, keep that momentum. probably two or three of the jobs I've had have been either because, I knew someone that was hiring or someone that was hiring, talk to someone that knew me.so it's, sometimes it's not what you know to, and I think that's, it, knowing the right person can sometimes get you the job, but knowing how to actually do the job is what makes you keep it. So don't, I know a lot of people are down on using who they know to.To get a job or to progress in that way. But it's a vital part of networking where you have to set yourself apart from the rest of the pack. Glenn Stovall: [00:26:50] Yeah. It's so many jobs aren't ever put on job boards. Like it's through that. I'll just from personal experience. The last, my current job was from yeah, through a friend of a friend.They didn't put anything out, but they just said, Hey. went to the engineers and just said, Hey, if you know anyone, or do you want to ask your friends? If they know anyone who might be a good fit here, then tell them to pass them along. Bobby Burden: [00:27:14] Yeah. So much. Yeah. I get emails at work that are, saying, Hey, we're hiring in these groups.If you know anybody, let us know. that happens in every SaaS company that I know of it, that sort of thing definitely happens. so yeah, just networking is so important and it's, for engineers, especially, it seems to be something that's over. Glenn Stovall: [00:27:39] Yeah. yeah, for sure. If you're listening to this and you're in the Tennessee area, definitely check out, Devanooga.is there a URL for that? Bobby Burden: [00:27:47] Yeah, devanooga.com. we have a Slack group that you can join. Glenn Stovall: [00:27:52] Yeah, we, it's like we have a shared snack time from playing a lot of robot legacy lately. So Bobby Burden: [00:27:57] yeah, we have a lot of, memes, and in jokes, but we also have a lot of serious business, there's a lot of smart people there and there's a lot of cool stuff happening.and if you're not in the area, there's great groups everywhere. you just have to go find it. there's groups and in the Atlanta area that are huge there's groups. and. I saw one like in North Carolina today that's massive. And to think that there's all these like little developer groups that are solid away, and independent, that's really the place to really network and learn and found a job.Glenn Stovall: [00:28:37] Oh yeah. that's for sure. Like I was, I used to co-run the Athens Georgia one a few years back when I lived there. And it's the same kind of thing or especially places like you said, like Atlanta, or I know there's a Nashville group as well. Yeah. So yeah, I guess there's keeping my, the listener go, just Google around or ask people.You'd be surprised what you can find. yeah. is there anything else you want to plug or share at this time? Bobby Burden: [00:28:59] no, I would plug my SoundCloud, that seems to be the cool thing, but I'm thinking I'm good. Thank you. Glenn Stovall: [00:29:05] All right. Cool. all right, Bobby . Thanks again for your time. It was great having you on.Bobby Burden: [00:29:09] Yeah. Thanks for having me. 
  • Production Ready podcast

    The 4 Fundamentals of Sales w/ Liston Witherill

    35:53

    Liston WitherillSellDontServe.comLinks from the show 4 Sales Fundamentals: Kickstart Your Selling In a Hurry The Transparency Sale: How Unexpected Honesty and Understanding the Buying Brain Can Transform Your Results  The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever Value-Based Fees: How to Charge - and Get - What You're Worth Tempo: timing, tactics and strategy in narrative-driven decision-making The Story Grid - What Good Editors Know The Hero with a Thousand Faces - source of Joesph Cambell's monomyth The Freytag Triangle ClientCon
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    How writing code is hindering your career w/ Erik Dietrich

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    Erik's content agency: Hit Subscribe The Gervais Principle, part I, which includes an image of the MacLeod corporate hierarchy. The Dilbert Principle The Peter Principle How Developers Stop Learning: Rise of the Expert Beginner The Beggar CEO and Sucker CultureCheck out more of Erik's writing at his site Daedtech (one of my favorite tech blogs) and in his book, Developer Hegemony.
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    The Secret Skills of Productive Programmers w/ Itamar Turner-Truaring

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    Itamar [email protected] more of Itamar's work at:CodeWithoutRules.comPythonSpeed.com
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    Cultivating expertise by writing daily w/ Philip Morgan

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    Philip [email protected]_MorganLinks From The Show Philip Morgan - Why write daily? Philip Morgan - Shortcomings of daily publication? Tom Critchlow - The Strategic Independent Ben Settle's Email List Without Fail - Nick Kroll gets out of character IA Writer Ulysses App Aqua Notes Waterproof Notepad Interesting in working with Philip? Check out his Expertise Incubator for solo technical consultants.

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