John Rouda is an IT Leader and Computer Science Professor. Currently, he is an IT Director and he teaches as an adjunct professor at both York Technical College and Winthrop University. John has spoken at numerous conferences and is currently on the board of the Interface Cyber Security Conference. John’s past experiences include more than a decade of Technical management in both software development and network infrastructure. In 1999, John Rouda and 2 partners founded a business developing, hosting and marketing websites. The business was profitable each year until it was sold in 2007 to a larger competitor. John has developed dozens of mobile apps for the Apple Appstore and Google Play Marketplace. He holds two master degrees, one in Business Administration and one in Computer Science. He has written 3 books that can be found on Amazon & Audible. John regularly speaks on technology, entrepreneurship and leadership topics at events and conferences, including a TEDx talk in 2015. He hosts a technical leadership podcast called A Geek Leader that can be found on iTunes or at https://ageekleader.com. John is married to a beautiful wife and has three wonderful kids who he dearly loves.
On today’s episode we discuss motivation, empathy, leadership and cover the highlights John’s Ted Talk.
[0:00] Good morning John welcome to the show Absolutely and I where you calling from today John.
[0:09] Fort Mill South Carolina which is just about 20 minutes south of Charlotte North Carolina.
[0:14] Okay great any a fan of any of your local sports teams out there.
[0:20] Clemson Tigers football fan for college football this year so can’t complain.
[0:27] Sure sure you know what are the things to John actually asked how my guess is
I’ve looked at them you’re back on online and stuff to when I go over some of the new shared some experiences I I do want to touch on them but you know if you can kind of give my audience a little bit of a brief background of kind of who you are and how you got to be where you are today.
[0:47] Sure so my full-time job is an IT director at a TV station so I run the IT department,
and on the side I speak at conferences and host a podcast on technical leadership,
my background is pretty very I’ve been all over technology I’ve got an MBA and a master’s of software development and I started my career as a PC tech many many many years ago,
and then got into database Administration and was a DBA for a few years,
and then I open my own company doing web development and web hosting and ran that for about 7 years before selling it and,
and also during that time I started teaching part-time at York Technical College in at winter peanut versity.
Which I still do today I enjoy teaching I love it keeps me sharp gives me good recruiting tool as well hard a few of my students
and then I got into I was a Linux admin for a few years then I got into software development and managed a web and mobile development team for about 9 years before leaving to the apartment where I’m at today.
[1:53] And where you are today but how large is a team that you’re on today.
[1:57] So I have 12 on my team so where are smaller it shop but but still pretty significant.
[2:05] Sure and you you’ve done your back on as interesting and when I when I looked at me back I was interesting cuz I had I had started a,
early web hosting and sort of e-commerce serve Consulting shop way back in the day it was so early that.
I actually got the domain name hosting.com,
and I probably would have been better off just doing a bunch more domain name squatting then then you know how successful was his web hosting company.
What when you first became a manager what role was that in and how did you get into that.
[2:41] Yeah so that was kind of one of those scenarios that you probably hear a lot about where you’re pretty good developer or you’re pretty good engineer so they promote you to manage people and that’s what happened to me at the time I was managing a web team we didn’t do mobile development yet
but I got promoted off and became manager and it was almost a shell shock to me that I thought walking Co stuff so I should be able to manage people that code stuff but that was a totally different world.
[3:09] Yeah absolutely as it is I think it’s not a people say that have had him on the,
podcast before other people it’s not just a promotion it really is a different job that your whole scope of the responsibilities and what you do is just different and a lot of people aren’t properly prepared for that.
[3:25] Yeah it is definitely a career change it’s not just a promotion.
[3:29] Now that’s right that’s right and another thing I asked about him I guess to any any mistakes you made that standed that you can really stand out and you look back and say oh my God I can’t believe it did that.
[3:39] All of them made all the mistakes possible I think my first few years.
I can look back on one critical turning point I think in my careers out I was so busy focused on getting the job done that I didn’t care as much about the people that were doing the job so I would always Focus really hard on working hard and,
thinking that I could I could carry the team if I needed to and not really empowering my team to do their job,
there was one moment where I had two people quit on the exact same day.
And that was an it was a team of six it was a smaller team and I was the manager and select the best VR third of my team quit.
[4:21] Yeah at the time I was I kept using the excuse in in the theory that oh it’s because you know,
we have a couple of big Banks here in the Charlotte area and you’re they pay more than our company was paying for certain skill sets at the time it was. Net development are paying more for. Net development so that’s why these guys left.
And I just got my first mentor.
And I remember I called him I said hey just had two people quit today and I quit about 4 hours apart and they didn’t know that the other one was quitting was just kind of a they both decided that they had enough.
And he’s like why you think that is nice it was obviously the banks are paid more.
I don’t think so I think it’s probably you and it was kind of like the deer-in-the-headlights look and moment that I had to wear I thought well I got to figure something out.
[5:12] And that’s where I turned the leadership I guess.
[5:15] Yeah I’m from that was there any was there anything that you started to do kind of more explicitly at that point to unit to try to maybe regain the trust order actually taking ownership now hey being a leader being a manager I actually have to work on this.
[5:31] Yes sir the first thing I did is ask Mitchell what he would do and he said I would start reading some books and start learning some stuff so I decided to take the lazy way out and started watching TED Talks.
[5:43] Which is Awesome by the way.
[5:44] They are awesome I saw the Simon sinek TED Talk
but with the Golden Circle and Dan pink Ted talk about the truth about motivation so I thought well I’ll pick up their books cuz they’re talking stick of the books after you pretty good and I can’t let me you know to start start learning a little bit and I picked up a book called on Note 2 software team lead.
And that book talked about in a one-on-one sand and things like that and quite frankly I never had a boss that did 101.
So I wasn’t really prepared for how to do that stuff so I don’t want to start doing that and I was probably the first big step that I took to like you said regaining trust in my team and building that that actual team and not just having people that just coated,
we sure don’t want to watch that was probably that the big thing the chain.
[6:27] Yeah I mean it’s interesting that you mentioned you probably didn’t even have a manager before that did one-on-ones with you,
and I feel and I kind of feel very similar I think I’ve had some good managers over the years and.
And maybe we did some one-on-one and some of them they didn’t maybe call them one on ones but it we have sort of,
I’m eating. Now would be is called a one-on-one but I think when we should have our generation is kind of growing up in in technology
answers like you look back in the seventies and eighties and you know you ran around there’s no car seats there’s no seat belt so I can we just this is just how it was but now I think we’ve learned a little bit more about.
The actual I don’t know if they call it science of of management leadership that you know these things now if you don’t do them you looked at like wow you know that that’s a problem.
[7:13] Yeah I know I think you’re absolutely right I’ve had good bosses I’ve had Bad Bosses but that the concept of no where I dedicate this special time on the calendar
for you and need to talk about you know the things that you need the things that I can do for you and even opening myself up and saying you know tell me what I’m doing wrong,
I never gave my team the opportunity to do that before it was always like
let me tell you how to improve your code let me do good reviews for you let me know pushback on you it was never an option you say what it what am I not doing for you what what things can can I get out of the way for you what what things can I teach you
how can I grow you as a as an individual as a software developer.
[7:51] Yeah absolutely and it’s one of the I think that’s if that’s kind of a fundamental shift of how people view management today is it’s not just this sort of.
Authoritative insertive top-down management style but really making it a true conversation and one of the books I often recommend this podcast to is thanks for the feedback not only,
as a manager can help you I think deliver better feedback.
But I think one of our blind spots that a lot of us have and this is not just in management but in our daily lives is the ability to really kind of.
Accept feedback in a way that doesn’t put us on edge a little bit and defensive immediately and,
that truly embracing feedback from people as long as you’re assuming that like they’re giving it to you with with,
good intent is I don’t think it’s any better way of actually improving yourself is as not only a manager but I think it’s her kisses whether it’s with your relationships with friends or partners are spouses like just improve as a person as well.
[8:51] Yeah I agree I can’t I couldn’t agree with you more that means the only way you can really get self-awareness and see how the world sees used to accept feedback if you don’t accept feedback you have no idea what you really look like everybody.
[9:04] That’s right that’s right no one thing you also mentioned which is actually may be uncommon for that time you talk about a mentor.
I think I’m a fool believer in the power of having sort of a mentor or coach how did you know how did you kind of get to have one in early on your credit you seek one out or did you certify happen organically.
[9:29] Well our company started when I first became a manager I had no leadership training or or really Management training either but then our company started doing these quarterly management training,
and they had the Executive Vice Presidents in spp’s kind of give a little 20 or 30 minute talk about one of their leadership experiences or one of their failures or something like that and almost every single one of them to give a talk said something to the effect of
if any of you guys or are needing someone to talk to or to help you out or to Mentor you just let us know we’ll be there for you.
To everybody that said that I wrote down their name and I went back and I emailed every single one of them and just said hey I’m looking for a mentor I’m not really good at this management stuff I didn’t even know the term leadership really back then get someone help me.
[10:18] And I got him some really honest responses,
but almost everybody said no exception of one person and I’m at the time I intentionally went outside of the it or engineering field cuz I wanted something with a different perspective
and I had one guy tell me that no no I’m going to retire soon I’m not interested I’ve had someone else say that I’m a bad leader myself I just made that stuff up,
Rihanna’s responses that this one guy who was actually in sales and he said yeah I’m open to it I don’t know how I can help you I’ve never had a man to you before but sure,
what’s let’s go on for the ride and you know we we had lunch together pretty much at least once a month and you know how,
emails or calls every week
just asking questions and then kind of guiding it through and he really helped me out a lot giving me some of the soft skills that I didn’t have I had no idea how important the sales was you know from a leadership perspective management perspective
I had no idea how the rest of the department saw technology,
in our Technology Group I always assume they saw us as being you know saviors to the world in the ones that help them and save them but in reality it was a totally different you know,
reap what they sow versus being an expense as being the guy said I was told them no and the guys that took their software away from them so it was a totally different.
Perspective that I had no idea existed until I had a mentor that could show me that and teach me that.
[11:45] Yeah that’s really that’s a really good point to let really reinforce with the think a lot to listen to my podcast is.
You don’t have to find Amanda don’t have to be a technology person write some of the concepts and skills of good management and good leadership
are Universal right and look Beyond
kind of did the technology area because there might actually be a broader base in fact I might even be better managers that you can you can learn from because there has been.
You’re not a a lot of great managers inside of the text field you know that I am making generalization but,
you know that I found it’s why I do this podcast and I’m I’m so interested in leadership to try to rectify the problem.
And the other thing I think is whether it’s on a 8.3 make whether it’s a A mentorship or just,
getting that other viewpoints try getting that feedback from other organizations to the to let people know in text you sometimes can feel a little I don’t know,
egalitarian or isolated like oh we’re the best you know we’re building all the stuff for and you’re just selling it and you’re right it’s it’s wow they don’t have a great view of us and we do tell them no and why is that how can we work together I think Reaching Across the aisle is something that.
As you grow in management leadership it’s just such an important skill to help you help your team and then to role model for teens.
[13:07] I think you’re absolutely right and if I eat if I can go back and do it again I could pick someone at the same caliber that was in technology I would I would go outside just from that extra perspective that I wouldn’t have gotten and I hang up,
help me in my role I’m at today where you know I am heading up yet the Technology Group I have to,
your meeting communicate regularly with an other department heads in different areas and just knowing that,
their perspective of technology is something different than what I thought it had before I had that Mentor helps me communicate with him better cuz me empathy for the things that they’re saying and helps me get inside of their shoes and see technology from their perspectives.
[13:45] Exactly and that word you mention empathy you have talked about in the past that I think it’s it’s one of the number on critical skills to being an effective and really good leader.
[13:54] Yeah I know what I want to pick up on that a little bit and I think I know it for a period of time I thought empathy was something you just born with,
and was just one of those things that some people have and some people don’t have learned ever talks to I’m terrible at everything I have to really focus on it think about it and work hard on it but you can.
Build the skill of empathy
sometimes it’s easier for some people than it is others it’s not easy for me at all but I see before I do a one-on-one with anybody on my team I set aside 15 minutes beforehand where I shut my door and I shut up my laptop,
don’t look at anything and just think what is this person’s day like if I was then how many kids do they have do they have to take the kids to school,
what was their drive like to have a short commuter along TV what you think traffic was like is it raining outside what products are they working on what things at work could be stressing them out is there anything at home that we stressing him out and try to think about what.
Their perspective is sympathize with them before I do that 101 that way I can kind of see their feedback from their perspective.
[14:53] That’s a that’s a very powerful thing yeah John thank you for sharing that.
[14:57] If I die if I don’t do that then I usually get defensive or.
I don’t hear what they’re actually sang like they may say so it’s it’s okay we out here oh it’s okay week but in reality it’s a tough week things are going on things things are not good right now you know but I wouldn’t hear that if I didn’t put myself in that place.
[15:18] And that’s such a whether or not people do exactly what you’re saying which I think is very powerful but the even the concept of taking.
Sometime before and even after a one-on-one,
is I think is really important because it helps you to get in that mindset whether it’s something you’re consciously thinking about doing as you point out John or.
Just having that mental shift from,
you’re running from meeting to meeting to meeting you kind of show up and in your your employees can tell that like they know they look at your calendar they know you’re busy,
and you kind of show up and maybe right on time and you going to come in the room you’re quick and you run from another meeting and it kind of puts a employer think on it.
On that that’s putting of oh he’s really busy,
and he’s kind of important as a lot of stuff going on I don’t want to bother him with this other stuff so I don’t make his life harder but really that’s your job your job is as a leader or manager is to,
really focus and enable your employees if they’re feeling that they can’t open up to you because you are so busy.
Yeah I think by taking my time beforehand to it shows them that you were all you do take their time seriously in the yard open to listen to what they have to say and by doing what you said then you’re actually helping yourself to be.
Tornado yourself to be open to listening as well awesome.
[16:40] Yeah you’re absolutely right that’s one of the things that it bothers me employees coming to me say I hate to bother you with something like this,
I said that that’s my job my job is for you to bother me that’s what I’m here for I’m here for you to bother me.
[16:52] Yeah exactly.
[16:53] Beginning that empathy State I called tactical empathy where you did there’s a reason behind it and for me to actually,
do something like that had to really come up with what are the reasons behind being empathetic and I found looking back on it.
Doing that before I meet with other Business Leaders for the last time is it as an IT manager or director or you know the sea level
technology person your calendar is completely jam-packed,
we have to put those white spaces in those blank spaces where you have nothing else to do in between those meetings otherwise you go from one to another and you meet with accounting and maybe your mindset is you know
invoices to do or I got this this budget that’s due for finance and I haven’t completed it yet I’m going there be defensive and talk about why I can’t do this instead of thinking about it from their perspective
with it from their perspective you’re going to get a lot more going to get a lot more wins. They’re going to be on your side they’re going to help you out and you can achieve a lot more and just buy
doing that I mean I’ve seen in Tire technology Department’s perceptions be turned around without actually changing the things that they’re doing just by changing the way that they’re communicating.
[18:01] Yeah that’s it that’s an awesome grade point to now in do you judge manage any managers don’t know they are like these.
[18:09] Yeah I have some managers.
[18:10] What’s what do you do give any guidance to them if you can promote anyone what it what are some tips that you would give to any of your first-time managers that you’re actually that you’re promoting.
[18:20] So that’s a very good question and one of the things that I like to do for any first-time managers is to encourage the one-on-one but also and encouraged
yeah I spend time with each of your direct reports and find out what they do and how they do their job cuz a lot of times you don’t realize how much they really put into their work or how passionate they are about certain things until you spend time with them cuz some people don’t communicate that they don’t sell themselves they don’t explain things very well,
and just observing watching don’t criticize. Tell managers don’t criticize people.
Beginning no matter how bad they’re doing that when you’re a new manager don’t criticize just learn learn first and then you can come in with feedback.
If you come in and immediately start saying you should do it this way or anything if you think you’re helping them out by giving them a better way of doing things they’re probably singing this you coming and being critical.
[19:10] That’s a very good point.
I know one thing and this is kind of interesting how you as you mention the beginning you host to host a podcast yourself can you get a minute give my listeners the elevator pitch and what’s it about and and Heather her subscriber listen.
[19:28] Sure I’m a hot gas is called a g clean and it’s very similar to 2 years about technical leadership and I started it and usually with the idea that I was going to,
put something out there in the public that hold myself accountable to the leadership principles that I need to learn
because I figured if I said something about it and some of my employees heard it then I have to kind of live up to it I have to do it at that point so if I talked about one-on-ones then hey I got to do what.
[19:53] You’re great.
[19:53] And that’s how I started out doing it I took some time off
my father passed away so take about a year off the podcast of to deal with other things and then I started back your gung-ho ready to do it and as soon as I did I got this job offer to come over here so I took some more time off
and then I got to rebooted it with interviews interviewing people cuz I thought
I got this platform I’ve got these listeners what better way for me to talk to people and learn from them then use this the stool and what one of the cool things I found this just by having a podcast.
Your people will come on your show. Talk to you and I’ve had the opportunity to speak to Navy Seals to you know sea levels from,
Cisco or Symantec and IBM as well as New York Times best selling authors just been a great experience talking to some pretty cool people about leadership and hearing their story and some things that you could
you take from now.
[20:51] Is it any any interview you’ve done that stands out to that you kind of remember is sort of one of your favorite or most powerful ones.
[20:58] Yeah there’s one that I’m actually holding back on and I’m going to release it on Veterans Day and it was with a Navy SEAL who told this war story about how his unit got attacked they went to the wrong place
and they were six guys they were surrounded by over a hundred Taliban,
and he actually got hit with a grenade that you bounced off of his shoulder before it exploded and it was just such a.
Incredible story about leadership of hell no the entire team was knocked out and one guy, was able to nurse the other ones and wake them up
and they all survived they all got out of their life but they had to wait till Nightfall and Hike you know I’m a mile and a half out with injuries
this one guy his femoral artery was with severed that had to like put a tourniquet on his leg and it was just an amazing story I think [4:20],
I want to look at the ad it says about 28 minutes where I didn’t say I’ll work I was just listening intently my hands are sweaty it was a very powerful story.
[21:58] Oh great well when you do that I will definitely interested in listening to that so thanks for sharing that and thanks for contributing back to the community interview you say you do it for yourself and it’s by the reason I do mine too but ultimately I think I found it.
People do appreciate it at the end of the work that we do and having,
you be able to listen to other people in the challenges and to know that they’re not alone going through this and I have some more resources and like we talked about earlier that none of us had you know when we were going through the same.
[22:26] Yeah I would podcast really you know get me through a lot of
log my day is Rob just like I need to I need to learn something otherwise I’m going to go crazy and I’ll just pick up a podcast and listen to something that shows like yours where you get to hear perspective from someone else and technology is very helpful for me,
and I just love to hear it hear this kind of stories that just encourage me keeping moving forward.
[22:47] Sure I think I’m going to be the interesting things I I get out of the podcast who is that.
I get to talk to people and realize that hey it’s not only things are not only broken at my company this particular time it’s always a challenge is always something not working is always people trying to improve things so it actually makes me feel a little better that I’m Not Alone 2.
[23:08] Yeah you’re absolutely right we were all in this together and I think one of my favorite quotes from that book that I was bitching earlier Note 2 software team lead he says there are no expert at this or all we’re all in there together and that’s the way it is with that Nicole leadership.
[23:22] Absolutely that one other thing to you you’re also got to speak at a tedx event wouldn’t want you to just give me a high-level about that. Happen.
[23:32] Yeah so that was interesting as so what are the courses that teach at Winthrop University is the,
Capstone course for the digital information design program and is a three-hour-long one day a week course
I can’t talk for 3 hours I just can’t so I would break it up with Ted talk so we have like a I would talk for about an hour we could watch a TED talk then I would talk to her,
now an hour of the way we do something else but every class I had a TED Talk that we would watch that was related to something,
that was going on in society or technology or some other General leadership ones that I thought work I sent to me.
And I think one of my students must have nominated me because I got an email this is how you been nominated for tedx event.
[24:18] If you’re interested please let us know and we would like to have people come up and.
Interview at Lowe’s interview them for what they were talking about so I was like sure that sounds great and yes I was like a bucket list thing that I wanted to do.
I show up at this event and there’s like 40 some more people,
everything about this and somebody else hell yeah they’re picking 12 and 2 of those are going to be alternate to have 10 speakers for the events in okay that sounds cool,
Vanessa Kwong John of an IT director and slippers like I will have a professional speaker speaker I don’t know what I’m going to do.
So I just went in there and told my story of how I was a failed leader for a period of time and I found you some ways to communicate and it with my team and I found that giving Purpose with a way to motivate and encourage them,
and I explained I talked about one project that we did that was kind of neat and how we use purpose to inspire and motivate my team to to go through that and they are like my idea they gave me an opportunity.
[25:24] And I think they’re right did lot of the tent talks really are looking for that authenticities right and which is better than just perfection Friday meme
what time is it looking for an end a lot of the speaker’s they do it’s it’s people telling stories from their hearts and then experiences and
and being able to show as you point people who can help.
Give other people that empathy in their view into their point of view and their backgrounds and the challenges that they’ve gone through which I think really helped us out.
[25:54] The funny thing about that is I meant all those speakers in a going into it and only one speaker was actually selected to be to give a TED talk as well
and that person didn’t talk at all about speaking digital story about their childhood.
Surface just like wow is all the fears that I had coming into this it was going to be like it was nothing like that.
[26:16] I went through a night I listen to or watch your Ted Talk and you know you mentioned a couple of people out there who have also given TED talks and and written books and whatnot we’re it’s clear thank you certainly had some inspiration from and,
new you mentioned in pink was one of the people,
and I think about the purpose and motivation Exedra tell me a little bit about some of the items you went through in your talk there about how those things resonated with you and how then you applied it to to your teams.
[26:44] Sure so I’m Indian Peaks book
Dr he talks about autonomy Mastery and purpose is being good 3D / motivators that that kind of encourage us and keep us moving forward especially in Creative task and a task that and Andy may be in technology say well I’m definitely not creative well that’s not true cuz you create,
solutions to problems every day and that’s what we do that’s just part of being a technology and I tried to figure out what how can I apply those three principles to my team and,
autonomy was pretty easy cuz I decided just to let my team work on the test that they wanted to work on instead of a signing this guy will do these,
this part of the coding this part 2 Scotty the sex thing I said here here’s all of our task we have to do you guys choose what you want to do and work on it together so it was kind of kind of a relatively easy one.
Mastria had a pretty good training budget so I would let people go and take courses whatever they wanted to I had no. Net developer that said he wanted to get his Network plus and Security Plus certification not really related but.
[27:41] Good for you know learn and and have another person that wanted to take photography classes and another person that wanted to learn SEO will wear all developers these things don’t really apply to us but it was,
I had the budget to let them do it so we let them do it but then the last one purpose I’m trying to figure out how are software affected people.
And that was a really tough one because when I got to that part of the book where I said you know you need to apply purpose and doesn’t always have to be like the big you know saving the world purpose just you know what is the reasons for doing these things,
I got acid okay will the next request that comes in the next ticket that comes our way we need to do I’m going to come up with a really good purpose statement for.
The next request that came down and in for my product owner was was that they wanted to move the button on one mobile app form from the top to the bottom.
[28:29] I was like.
How do I get purpose for this little thing so I actually went and called and we will this mobile apps for these fuel text that drove trucks around and they fix problems
so I called when I got to explain to me how you doing this will go make your life better and what is your work like what what are you doing he’s like well we get.
Your 10 to 12 tickets today to be driving we fix these problems and typically we don’t close them out when we fix the problems who wait till the very end of the day because none of us like to do it and we put in her notes and close them all out.
Because he’s ticket can be rather long we have to scroll in a quite a bit on the phones to get to the bottom of the tickets for the shows all the history of times people have problems before and it’s Elise things
if you print them out they be like 20 Pages lost a lot of scrolling on mobile phone to get to this,
button so they wanted us to take a copy of the button so it’s at the top and at the bottom and I said well that makes sense if you have to go to the bottom you know,
take the clothes out the form when all you’re doing is closing it out cuz you wanted to wait till the end of the day to make sure the problem didn’t come back over when you want to reopen a ticket we’re actually saving them probably about 45 minutes at the end of every day,
multiply that times 5 days a week or 7 that got 20 minutes,
it’s not 20 minutes in the middle of his day that’s 20 minutes when he’s waiting to drive home to see his kids in this family to play soccer with his daughter or whatever he’s going to do so I told that story of forgiving you know 120 fuel tax.
[29:50] 20 minutes off a week to go play soccer with her kids that’s what we’re doing with his butt and it’s only going to take us you know less than an hour today.
[30:00] RF actually affects people and it was a kind of bigger than just that but and they didn’t really think about the fact that the thing we built is affecting all these people.
We need to take care be prideful and honor these people with our our coding.
[30:16] Yeah that’s an awesome point I think and it so it’s something I struggle with at all all the companies I’ve been at to wear,
as you grow and scaling you get quickly sometimes,
from an engineering perspective we lose sort of sight and we lose some of that empathy of our of why we’re building it up the users who are using our self for like we just kind of getting this come and get this feature out can we can we do this release and we forget that,
you know our software is actually being used by thousands and thousands of people and.
I have an interesting example at one of my previous companies out of rat and.
Yeah we knew that this company we we had a we had a bug in our software and.
[31:00] It was we discovered it sort of on a Friday and.
What with this bug in the software did though it was it was writing software that dealt with a correctional facilities and.
The bug would have prevented people who should have been reserved released on a Friday.
That they wouldn’t be able to released for the whole weekend right and I mean this is kind of a late on a Friday when Justin came in.
[31:28] And kind of first response from some of us well it’s not that you know we’ll just we’ll tackle on a Monday.
But I think it was a really interesting thing we’re kind of stuck me is like one will will.
It might not being a bother you too much but if we spend an extra 2 hours here.
You’re going to let you know you might have 500 people who are not going to be able to get home or to you know go back to work or see their families for an entire weekend plus the financial burden you know that that kind of puts on our on our system.
By showing that it just didn’t. Kind of occurred of the people that again there real people in real lives at yourself for effects and.
Once that was communicated a team or like you’re the person who suggested we waited a month actually end up feeling bad you know because it was kind of he didn’t you just was so busy and wanting to get on on his home life while you got a nice home-cooked meal.
But you know this person’s going to be you know incarcerated for another unit 2 extra days and how it how would how would you feel about that to let me not really drove home 2.2 of that purpose in this is we’re doing things for a reason.
And sometimes that reason can have large.
[32:37] Yeah you’re absolutely right and a lot of times we just see the code that we’re riding we don’t see the people behind the code or if we’re you know upgrading a server we don’t see the the impacts of that down the road we just think I was just installing software
but there’s there’s people behind all those things that’s one thing I try to keep strong analytics on I’m really I’m a numbers person and like to tell my team that there’s a person behind every number so if you look at every ticket that we close to the help this team
in a person behind that there’s a story that they can tell about their experiences and they may tell 5 people or 10 people but there’s a person behind each one of those number so we want to make sure that
we take care and we understand that there’s a purpose behind this.
[33:14] Absolutely Ivan did something when I was trying to encourage one Amphitheatre at a previous company where we had to the tech support team who was taking in some of these these items especially some of the higher priority ones.
I would actually have them go out and try to find your cuz they were working it was more of an Enterprise so it wasn’t just consumer but they said they kind of knew the people that were submitting these.
you know I haven’t kind of go out and then do a Google Search and then try to find it a LinkedIn picture or something online and like paste that picture in the Jura ticket so that when someone went to do the work they actually saw you know Bob or Jane and this is this is this is something affecting them,
I think it really helped people’s motivation to again put that as you said put the people you know behind the code.
[34:01] Yeah I think it said it important thing to to do that’s a very good point just putting the person that are behind there and they have in their face to see what this is this is real it’s not just a generated name.
[34:14] That’s right that’s right. Just someone who’s annoying me because they have an issue with something I wrote need to quickly you know 3 months ago.
[34:21] They may be annoying you but there’s a reason behind it.
[34:24] Serious you better next time.
Yeah yeah the first thing you talk about is and you talk to it I think is a Simonson neck and,
you know I did it his I think a lot of this has have watched his Ted talk or or read his book and and the big principle with that is,
is is is the starting with y right to me again same thing you kind of did with a little bit about how you took that integrated that into into your teams.
[34:55] Yeah yeah so I always like to start things with why we do things before I would just say hey the business wants to do this let’s do it,
and I you said you take the same responses from the business too I will never ask them why why do you have this request and what I found this by asking why sometimes we didn’t need to do things but also when you tell your team why they will surprise you with better ideas than what you came up with,
you know or than what you’re probably team may have come up with so explaining why as,
tons of benefits. Just another motivational aspect but also the aspects of being able to find Creative Solutions that you didn’t even think about.
[35:34] Yeah I know that. That’s great too and I think the why sometimes gets lost as you go down through the levels of an organization where there might be a valid reason.
But by the time it gets down to you and I see that’s working on one second with code as we just breathe she talks about.
How do you tie dye back up to like the company okr or the fact that wow if you do this we’re going to
we’re going to get another funding round or this is a this is one piece of a puzzle that
together will help us all get our bonuses this year or some some in provide value for customers in a way that we hadn’t thought about so I think always trying to tie,
kind of why we do things into what we’re doing it is a super important as well.
[36:18] Yeah yeah you’re absolutely right and it goes much further than just the surface level for sure.
[36:24] Yes I had to talk in in your talk you mention a project you’re working on and in this is Gang goes back to motivation a little bit around I serve creating an app for a fountain in your town,
Munchies tell me a little bit about that.
[36:40] Yeah so all our company at a time at donated this piece of land that was used for a parking lot and they turned into a nice park and they put this big fountain on there,
and our CFO had this idea that we should build a an app that if you join the Wi-Fi of the park you could,
Splash me with Joe tell you hey there’s an app out there that you can you can get it and it will allow you to choose one of the Jets from the pound and you can control it and move it up and down you can make it dance to make it two different things.
[37:08] So we were trying to figure out how we should do this and what’s the best,
team and it wasn’t just the people that directly reported to me we had to get people from other groups that that were familiar with raspberry pies and Argentinos different different types of technologies that you know.
Dotnet developers and Java developers made out of I’ve been as familiar with.
So we we got together at least we met with this other group and we put things together and we ended up building
this little app that would control the turn signals back into the Raspberry Pi’s I would control these Jets and turn them up and turn it down
and it was really neat but we were able to talk about this is never been done before we we search or try to find it no one ever built that I mobile.
Phone control Fountain and you know this isn’t 2014 so you know,
but we were able to pull this off and it’s something that the team could all put on the resumes now it’s kind of one of those cool things that no one ever done but also we’re giving us our community we’re not making a dollar off this is something that’s in a weirdo,
we’re going to your time effort energy so that when our kids go to the Fountain they can play with us or when our friends kids or whoever goes to the community they can see this thing that we we provided them.
[38:20] Yeah that’s pretty awesome.
You also mentioned beginning that you are you’re you know you teach at kind of a local University to think that said of being a teacher helps you at all with with your leadership and management skills.
[38:36] Yes absolutely I think I think teaching people it is one of the things that leader should do this you should try to teach your teen different skills and different things and and what are the things that I found his teaching people helps me to learn.
I don’t I don’t fully feel like I have no something until I’m able to teach it on whether I think you’re not just.
Why when I thought out my first class I ever thought was computer science 101.
[39:02] And at that time I was a plus certified Network plus certified I was a MCPE I knew all the stuff I thought and I know I can go in there and teach a computer class no problem,
I know how everybody’s going to see computer I know how to explain it but I had forgotten that some people may have never seen a computer in my very first class I had this this lady and she was probably in her 70s,
and she was taking classes for free because at York Tech that would allow senior citizens to take courses for free for auditing,
and when I told you okay go take your mouse and click on the start button she literally picked up the mouse and tap the screen with the mouse.
At that point I realized that I didn’t know anything about how to communicate properly I did not a teach this so I had to take a step back and figure out that I really need to know this inside now and know how other people got to look at this and not disturb you that I that I have.
And I’m on the same thing when I was Cisco courses or C sharp courses I knew the way that I had to learn things but I didn’t know how to teach it in a way that everybody could learn so I had to really learn things a lot more t-shirts that that really helped me.
Alive but it also helps me stay sharp to start understanding what the.
[40:18] The younger generation is saying I like some of that you know that the the phrases that they use some of the things that they’ve talked about and so the things that are important to them and like right now.
You find different Technologies the fact that,
how people stream and how people listen to things and ask a question probably 2 years ago now back when I worked at an internet service provider and cable TV company I asked my Tina said how many people have died people here have cable TV
this is an 2015.
And out of the 30 students I think one racer has to have cable TV and everybody else didn’t have a TV at all on your room and like four or five how do you watch your shows on my laptop.
It wouldn’t occur to me that you guys would not have a TV cuz that’s what I grew up with.
[41:07] Yeah sick my kids now I mean. Let him take anything they can get they can get on their device or there or their laptop so I’m going to need the TV room.
[41:15] And my daughter she she prefer to watch on her iPad and on the TV.
[41:17] Exactly but I think it’s a good point that teaching certainly helps put you in a teaching mindset as you say and as you mention the very beginning of the podcast
it’s a Whittier to University or were your teaching something in a meet up or you know coding Academy any of these places I think not only does that help you.
Can learn yourself and to get other people’s perspective but one thing you mentioned is it’s actually a great potential recruiting tool
right and these people are they see that you’re capable your taking the time to help them they kind of trusting your saying,
and if you you know they’re probably more likely to come and join your company where you’re known quantity than then going someplace else.
[41:59] Yeah it definitely is there was one seed in particular that I hired and.
You know it was just a blessing all around but I’m already Camp Timmy this is before he was actually in my class he he he was going to get my classes next semester and said hey I know you work at this company.
And I saw you had a position open for a web developer what skills would I need to know to to do that and I kind of blew him off as just being you know what’s to do or whatever you need to know these things these things he’s saying.
Weather doesn’t teach this language with this is the one that we use account imported to us so this is what we will be looking for so probably be looking for someone right out of college that doesn’t have the skill.
Is it okay thank you and I walked away and then I told him per semester didn’t think much about it.
And at the very end of semester I post another job opening he came up to me so I saw you post a job opening last week I said yeah yeah did he graduate next semester.
I would like to get a job before I graduate I said well you know we have some very specific skills as sucky I remember when we talked about a year ago and here are some stuff cuz I got from pluralsight courses that I took concourses of all the things that you said we needed to.
To learn and you wanted someone to have the skill sets and I feel like I have them can I do it coding test or something to show you how I’ve grown I was like you got an interview yet.
[43:25] Write impressive.
[43:28] Things that that’s really help me but yeah it’s it’s a great recruiting tool it’s gets great cuz you you kind of know their work ethic more than just an interview.
[43:36] Exactly that’s great now I also asked how my guest John and we talked about a lot of things and resources on the on the
chat already but anything additional that you would recommend that you either has made an impact on you or that you recommended itself to your to your Managers from books blogs video something in a year TED Talk,
kind of fanatic like I am but anything specific that you want to call out on the show.
[44:00] Definitely continue to learn to continue to grow don’t don’t assume you’ve ever figure it all out cuz you haven’t whenever you think you figure it out you definitely realize you haven’t figured anything out but up,
I will always continue to grow number one number to use empathy to your advantage even if you think I’m not empathetic person,
call me the great roll sometimes but still you have to have empathy in order to achieve the goals that you need to achieve as a leader and a manager.
[44:31] Oh great and again for our listeners the best way to reach out to you I know you have a website maybe if you can just going to kind of what’s your
best way to contact you for your website in your blog and are your podcast again.
[44:46] Sure geek leader I can go to Aggie cleaner.com that would probably the best way or hit me up on Twitter I’m John router pretty much everywhere LinkedIn Twitter and and at my website general.com equator.com probably the best place.
[45:01] Perfect easy to remember all right well John I really appreciate it I know you’re busy running teams and I appreciate the time today thank you very much. I really enjoyed our conversation.
[45:14] I think so much.