#133 Dennis Traub failed his way to success
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Dennis Traub 0:00
What I realized over the years really is, if you are in software, you will always be confronted with your own limitations, you will always be at the edge of what you know. Because if you're building software, you are doing something new, you are creating something that didn't exist before. That in itself brings failure. It's inherent to that process. get to a point where you feel like you're in over your head, I spent so many hours sitting in front of a stack trace, not understanding why it didn't work. And some other person looks over my shoulder points at that line and says, Oh, you have a mistake there. And I feel like crap, because I feel like I don't know anything. I've been working in this for so many years. And I still don't know anything, and everybody else knows so much more than I do.
Tim Bourguignon 1:10
Hello, and welcome to developer's journey, the podcast, bringing you the making stories of successful software developers to help you on your upcoming journey. My name is Tim Bourguignon. And on this episode 133, I received Dennis Traub. Dennis has been developing and running websites since the early 90s. He currently works as a developer advocate at AWS, Amazon Web Services. In his free time, you'll find him reading tons of books and traveling... hum if not in person, like right now, then in the cockpit of a flight simulator. Dennis, welcome to DevJourney!
Dennis Traub 1:46
Thanks, Tim. Hi, thanks for having me.
Tim Bourguignon 1:48
Oh, it's my pleasure. We've known each other for for a few, a few years. And I guess it started with the German conference circuit. And we've met each other at many conferences. And so it's a pleasure to have you on. So Dennis, the the show exists to help the listeners understand what your story looked like, and imagine how to shape their own future. So as always, let's go back to your beginnings are we where would you place the start of your developer's journey?
Dennis Traub 2:16
I recognize that very specific moment, because not long ago, my father actually sent me a picture of myself. And I've just put that on Twitter, which is how we came on this podcast episode actually came to be because when I was nine years old, and I'm gonna date myself, it's in the early 80s. When I was nine years old, at Christmas, I got my first own computer or might not own my the first computer that I got access to, and it was Commodore v ic 20. Actually, in Germany, it was called differently It was called Vc 20. Because v IC if you speak that out in German, it resembles a, it would it would not be a nice word. So the marketing marketing team from from Commodore probably had to come up with a different name. And then it was called the VC 20. And that was my first ever computer. And I'm not sure who gave it to me if it was my father or my grandfather. The interesting thing is that my grandfather, he was a very conservative person, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather. And he taught me a lot of things like how to ride horses, how to repair horse carriages, shooting fire arms, using how to use nights where to hit other boys so that they don't hit me. Probably everything, everything a boy needs to know when he grows up at around 1930 But okay, that's what he tried to teach me but I really wasn't so much into the outside and going and playing in the in the woods and everything. I was more of I loved to read I taught myself to read at a very early age and everything and so he actually thought this computer thing might become very important and and would be somehow would be the right thing for me. My mother was had a completely different opinion. My Mother, she was like, Oh, that's that's played play stuff. The boy needs to do something useful, something that's right for his age, like go outside, or, I don't know, maybe do the dishes. But my grandfather put up this old black and white TV in the attic and put the computer in front of it. And I was sitting there. I spent all my time in front of this computer. And it was so much fun because that was a completely new world. For me. There was nothing like the internet or anything where I could communicate with the outside world, just this thing that I could learn how to make it do what I wanted it to do was so much fun. And I really tried to understand how it worked. And by trying to understand how it worked, I took it apart and looked at the pieces and that and then I took it back together. And that's when I got my first Commodore 64. Because the Visi 20 was broken, of course, I wasn't able to put it back together. I got a C as I got the C 64, which I wanted anyway, because my friends started having one. And I was told to not take it apart again because then I'm not going to get another one. So this is where I because I wanted to know how it worked. And I couldn't take it apart. So I needed to learn how to program the gains were always fun. But making it do things was so much more fun. And we have these magazines these at this Funes ACM I got seen as one of them that were you had listings pages of pages or pages of listings, where you had a few lines of control structure with a for loop and things like that. And then hundreds of lines with rows of data. Where you had these these bytes of data, sometimes in hex codes sometimes in in decimal code, where you had to type in rows and rows and rows and rows of data that then from the from the program was pushed into certain certain registers in memory. And then after, after you type everything in, you had a game, or you had a program that was able to print something on the screen or whatever you were able to just put a numbers and if you got everything right, because as I said, hundreds if you got everything right, then it did what was supposed to do. I mean, the greatest one of the greatest inventions back then was check sums, I don't know if anybody listening to this remembers the time when we had these PayPal listings, and you got one number wrong, and the whole program didn't work. And then they had these checksums, where they put in in the listings, they put a checksum in the end of every line. And on the computer, there was a specific program like an ID a very rudimentary ID, where you typed in all those numbers. And at the end of the line, it showed you the checksum of the line that you typed in, and then you could compare, and that really helped with being able to, to spend days typing numbers into your computer. And then in the end having something that actually worked. And then you could type, save, save. And the whole thing was saved to your tape drive to the data center. It was called the tape drive. And then we had we had we had copying parties on the weekends where we met some of us, one of my friends, he had one of those tape recorders where you have two cassette decks. And you can copy from one to the other in double speed.
Tim Bourguignon 7:49
Oh, you're moving me far away in the past...
Dennis Traub 7:51
Yeah, that was that there. And then we had all our the stuff that we programmed and we type in and the games that we will, the games that we bought or got through this, some of the magazines had actual tapes with them. Like in the later years when you had an AOL CD. In previous days in older days that the magazines had actual tapes, cassette tapes of talk to them, with games on it or some programs, some simple things. And then in the copy at the copy sessions, we copied these and and then we hoped that with the quick copy the fast copy with double speed, that the data wasn't completely messed up on both tapes, because on the on the on the target tape, the one that you copied too, because some of the bits just didn't really get copied. And on the source tape as well, because that fast copying thing that sometimes led to the tape being bent a little you know, could could mess up both. Yeah, that's, that's when I that's when I started and my grandfather, as I said he was he was even though he was a very, very, very conservative person. He was extremely visionary in that regard. And he with a with a few parents of other kids. At my school, he found somebody who made a who, who then did a computer quiz, who taught us kids how to work with the computer. So we every I don't know Wednesday night, our parents hauled the TV and the computer and everything into their car and drove us to our school because we had a room at night in our school where we did that and then we plugged in all our stuff. And that teacher he was he probably was a very young guy as well. He showed us what we could do with the computer. And this is essentially where I were started. I never thought I actually I never thought I spent my whole use in front of the computer but I never thought I knew I never had the idea that this could be something that I could do for a living actually. So it didn't even occur to me that this is that there is a profession around this. When I finally finished school, I didn't finish school the way I intended to, for personal reasons I had to drop out before, before, before graduating, and then I was thinking about, okay, what can I do, because I wanted to study I always wanted to go to university, but I couldn't because I dropped out of school and in Germany, a you need you need the graduation of the of the good nauseum have to be admitted to a college or university. And I didn't have that. So I didn't have a chance to go study, go to university. So I had to find something where I could like a vocation, like, all sorts beyond is what we call it in German, where you a trade to learn a trade, basically. And then I was thinking, Okay, what, what could I do, I had no idea because I wanted, I wanted to go and I wanted to study film. That was my plan. It's a good thing I never did, because now I know the industry. However, I was thinking of what could I do, and I did a few, I did a few internships at film companies around Germany, at television, at television, and so forth. But I was looking for what I could do. And then there was things like I could, I'm into chemistry because I, I took chemistry in school, and I I focused on chemistry in school as well, because that was a lot of fun. And in the last couple years, I did the license course she'd be at school. And I was thinking, Okay, what could I do there and like, become a chemical tick technician or something like that. And I, I went to the I went to the to the avatar, to the employment agency, and ask them, What can I do, and they will admit an assessment with me. And the result of the assessment was that I could be a hook for a long hairstyle. So someone who creates a print, I don't even know the English word...
Tim Bourguignon 12:05
A print template?
Dennis Traub 12:07
Yeah, it's a profession, it's a profession that even doesn't even exist anymore. That's what they thought I would be perfect for me. And I was what. And I know, that's not what I want to do. And I was still thinking about while I was thinking I had to, I had to live of something. So I needed to earn money. And the way I earned money was by repairing computers by repairing, like, there was a dentist, a dentist's office and the printer didn't work. And I helped them set up the driver and things like that. And I just did did that because I knew how to and people started to pay me for it. And I didn't even realize that I was working with computers professionally. While I was while I was looking for what could I do, I have no idea. At the same time, I spent time doing what was fun, not even recognizing the test was something that I could do for living. But anyway, then the World Wide Web came around, and I had access to the to the university to the to the data center of the University at my hometown. So I had got an email address and everything. And I got a terminal access through my computer with a dial up modem, and everything. So I got into the internet without having to pay for because it was really expensive. Going through compuserve or AOL or Germany online, or I don't know. So I had access to the internet through through the university. And I started building websites. All of a sudden, that was something I was getting paid for building websites for bookstore for a for the local local event magazine in my hometown. Somehow I never never again, stop building websites. And especially it's what I still do today. They look different. They're not like back then they were extremely rudimentary. And we tried everything with blinking stuff and crazy colors and, and, and everything. But somehow I turned out to really realize I can't do that for a living. And I found I found a company that employed me and paid me a regular salary for doing just that. Back then they called it screen designers. So I started as a screen designer for advertisement agency who who started to peddle in that whole web internet stuff and everything went from there.
Tim Bourguignon 14:37
Is this the point where you realize, okay, now I have a job and I can stop searching or did that happen before?
Dennis Traub 14:43
I never stopped searching.
Tim Bourguignon 14:46
So you're still convinced that you're, you're you're following your dream and you're making your hobby on a day to day basis, but you still need a really regular job?
Dennis Traub 14:53
Tim Bourguignon 15:50
Oh, come on, employers do not need you to deliver anything...
Dennis Traub 15:54
Anyway, I've I've, what I want to say really, is that I'm a very curious person. And I need a lot of the feeling that I am able to learn something new, something new. And as soon as something feels like, it's a rote, like a routine and nothing new anymore, I'm getting bored pretty quickly. And once I start getting bored, I look for things for other things that I can do. That's why the best jobs that I ever had, were in companies, where I had the chance to move around, where I had the chance to do different things, and still grow. It's not like I do this. And then I do something completely different. Everything I do builds on top of each other. But what I actually need is a way to move around and learn and try new things. And this is how and this is something that I needed to learn about myself. This is how I can be productive. Because I am a starter. I'm not a finisher, I am someone who can inspire people to do something. I am somebody who can inspire people to have ideas, I can help get something rolling. But I'm not the right person, if you if you need somebody who goes really into the details and helps helps polishing it and everything. There are other people who are really good at that and really enjoy that. I'm not the right person for this. And this is this is something that I needed to find out about myself and I needed to start looking for roles, where I could use this strength on one side, really the strength to be able to get something rolling to inspire other people to to inspire ideas and fantasies, but not trying to be the one who, who who finishes it with everything with the whole long tail that you have with any kind of any kind of production. And so I found myself, I started at this ad agency that I talked about many, many years ago, I don't even know if they still exist. And then I moved into another company that does still exist. I'm not gonna name any names because I did a really crappy job. I got I got employed as a Java developer. And Java was Java just celebrated its 25 years of existence. And that job was 25 years ago. So Java was entirely new. It was even so new that that Sun Microsystems shipped us CDs via FedEx from the US to Germany with patches because because some things didn't work. And we were we were working on an actual commercial product based on Java. And I had been hired as a as a Java developer without knowing anything about Java. That didn't go so well. people realized that I didn't know. I tried to learn on the job. It didn't work out really well. Anyway, I started I started looking for a different job. And I put out a job ad so an ad of myself. So looking for a job on CT, which, which is a magazine in Germany, it's one of the most well known it magazines in the German language market, if not the most well known. And I put a job ad in there. And I got all of a sudden when it was published, it was all paper based back then. All of a sudden, when it got published, I got on one day, I got around 20 calls. And all of those calls were like, my name is so and so I'm the assistant of Mr. So and so am I speaking to Mr. traube and we have an answer so forth. And there was one call, and that was in German, and I'm going to replicate it replicated in German. It really was. And I'm not paraphrasing here, literally the person said, is Peters versus me, Dennis. It really was, Hey, this is Peter me into dentists. And it was, it was such a stark contrast to all the other calls that felt so formal and everything, it felt really lively. And I was talking to him and he told me Yeah, we he told me the name of the company and, and we're here in Ireland, and I was living in cars were in southern Germany, in Ireland and I had never heard of on before. Where the hell is on I'm not going to Arlen. And he's like, Oh, it's just behind. It's right behind Stuttgart. Okay, I know Stuttgart that's not far. And, and, oh, wait, wait, he said wait. And he he gave the phone to somebody else called Andre and just gave it to him. And Andre was on the phone and didn't even know who he was talking to and why and, and it turned out Andre was was basically the hiring manager. But he didn't even know that he had a potential candidate on the phone. I was talking to him and it was really fun. And then we decided I'm gonna come over for for an actual interview for an on site interview. And I I got a train ticket and I realized Arlen is not just behind Stuttgart it's very far out in the in the rural area, way behind Stuttgart. And I went out there by train and I arrived at the train station at nine o'clock in the morning. And then I called the for someone to pick me up. But nobody, nobody picked up the phone. I called again and I ship shit now. Is that even real? Did they play games with me? I mean, did they just pulled my my, how do you say for my feet, my leg, my leg? My leg. I mean is that even real? And nobody, nobody answered the phone. And I was standing there in the middle of nowhere at the train station in the middle of nowhere. And about an hour later, somebody picked up the phone. And, and she she just arrived. There's nobody in the office. Now nobody works at this time here. And she just arrived early. And she she she agreed to come by with the car and pick me up. That's what she did. She picked me up and and we went back to the office. And it was an old in a very small village outside even of that town, a very strong village, an old old Fitness Center, a gym that has been repurposed. And all their people started showing up. At around 1011 o'clock, people started showing up started working. But it turned out they just don't work at nine in the morning. And I stayed and I talked to so many people. And I looked at it and I felt it felt so great. It felt like Youth Center, with people being just a little bit older, older than in the youth center. Everybody was having fun and doing great things. And that was an ad agency that actually built the first commercial website in Germany in the 90s. Best did which was or as a secret brand. They built the first commercial website in Germany, and they built many, many things. And over time, because I stayed there on that day, I stayed the whole day, I stayed into the night. And we played games and we talked about stuff and everything. And I was I was hooked. I said, I'm gonna work here, I'm gonna be here. I'm gonna go back home, pick my stuff. I'll start tomorrow. And that's essentially what I did a week later. A week later, I had my first day. And the company turned out to be overtime, turned out to be one of the three biggest multimedia agencies and the.com era era in Germany. So we moved to Hamburg, we moved our headquarters to Berlin and went to the to the stock market and everything all the way until the whole market crashed the.com crash. And all in all, it stayed about five to six years at that company. And that's where as we have figured out I could do so many things because the company itself was growing. When I started we were in our low digits or low two digits when it comes to employees. And we grew all the way to 600 people within years and there were so many things, so many new things, so many great things that needed to be done that could be done and I could really try out myself and try out so many different things I did. I did Perl programming, I started I started playing with Microsoft dotnet when they came around with the framework in around I don't Was it 2000 2001 something like that. And I got to try so many great things. And unfortunately, unfortunately then there was the the crash of the whole industry. And that took the company down as well. That company's still existed until 2006. But not in, not in a good way. And I finally quit. I think I quit in 2003. And I was pretty burned out with, with all the layoffs and all the stress and, and everything. I was pretty burned out, which is where I figured I need to do something else, I really need to do something else because the whole industry has has broken down around me. And I myself was really, really stressed out and burned out. So I started thinking about what else could I do? Because as I said before, I'm a pretty curious person. What else could I do. And there's one topic, one industry that I was always very excited about, which is the film industry. And I started just working as an extra, I lived off my savings for some time, and I was just working as an extra, I lived in Berlin, and there were many film productions and TV productions. And I did all kinds of stuff like that. But that's not sustainable, because you don't get very much money for it. On one hand, and second, it's a really tough job because you start in the morning, and you you're done at night as it's like before. It's like my job before when I went to build, build, build websites and applications and everything. But the pay is much worse. But there's something different that I was excited about all my life. And that's aviation, that's airplanes and not so much flying itself. But the the technology inside of airplanes, the avionics, the electronics, the avionics technology, and so I decided to look into that industry and figured out that there is an actual actual trade. In Germany, it's referred to steam electronica, so it's an electronic technician for for aviation systems. And I actually went to school, went back to school, and learnt that and went to a company to to manage an operator of business jets of in southern Germany, a large company, I went to Daimler Chrysler aviation, the back then Daimler Chrysler, when diamonds still own Chrysler, they had their own fleet of aircraft of business aircraft. And I went there for a year to to actually do an internship and learn about to learn about repairing the electronics, the systems in airplanes, which is where I found out that we had computers and everything, of course. But But, but the way we worked was really crappy, because we had so much paper and we needed to print everything out. And we didn't have didn't have the tools that we really needed. And what I actually did instead of repairing airplanes was I started programming a tool for me and my team, programming tools that on the computer that helped us do our job. And I met another person who was a who was a pilot at that company. And he actually had built on the side while being a pilot, he actually had built a system that did the whole aircraft and fleet operation for that company. And he actually was looking for somebody who could help him because he was doing this on his own. And it turned out to be a pretty, pretty large system, because it did everything, everything from flight planning, to crew training, all the way through through billing through an SI p interface and everything. And other other flight companies, other aviation companies, aircraft operators start wanted to buy this piece of software, and especially for ambulance flight and for business flight and for corporate, corporate corporate flight. And he needed somebody because he couldn't do it on his own. And, and, and we sat together and we talked a little bit and we were like, this is perfect. This is a perfect match. I know. I know how because that was one thing that he was missing when he was looking for someone as a kind of partner for his business. He always needed someone who's proficient in software, but who's also proficient in aviation. And this is really hard to find. And this is what at that time, I knew enough about aviation and about how the business worked and how, how fleet operations and everything worked. But I also knew how to build software. And that's where I figured out back when I left my old company and felt burned out. I didn't leave or I didn't I wasn't burned. Because software was the wrong industry, for me, it was just because the crash the.com crash was just too much. So I needed to do something different for a few years, to get back into the, into feeling excited about building things, feeling excited about building software. And that's why I decided it was a nice diversion. It was a great diversion, doing something different for a few years, learning something completely different for a few years. But now I'm back again. Now I'm back again, and I found my spot. And I stayed with that company for five or six years, and we've built many great things. I don't Yeah, that's i get i can i can go on and on and on and on. I think thing is, the thing here is and maybe a learning maybe a learning for some of our listeners as well. One of the things I feel a lot, and I still feel today is I don't really know what I'm doing. I do know somewhat what I'm doing. But once I sit in front of the computer, and I have an actual problem to solve, I'm sitting there and I'm like, I have no idea what I'm doing here I have, and this is this can lead to me. feeling like I'm not good enough for this job. I'm not the right person for this job. And this leads to me looking for change. But what I've realized, throughout the many years of my career, starting with the nine year old boy, having his first computer, taking it apart, and breaking it. Software, building software, it is so much about experimentation, it is so much about trying things and failing at it. It is so much about learning. And what I'm trying to do. And the story goes, as I said the story I could go on and on and on about what it did. Then after I worked for that aviation company, when I went into consulting, failed at that, I went to a and I came to AWS and I'm failing at that I'm doing a good job, I think but I'm still failing a lot. But I'm failing in a good way. Because I'm learning so many things. What I realized over the years really is if you are in software, you will always be confronted with your own limitations, you will always be at the edge of what you know. Because if you're building software, you are doing something new, you are creating something that didn't exist before that in itself brings failure failure brings, it's inherent to that process is to get to a point where you feel like you're in over your head. I've spent so many hours sitting in front of a stack trace, not understanding why it didn't work. And some other guy or person, some other person looks over my shoulder points at that line and says, Oh, you have a mistake there. And I feel like crap. Because I feel like I don't know anything. I've been working in this for so many years. And I still don't know anything and everybody else knows so much more than I do. While in fact, they all experienced the same thing. And there are so many moments where I look over someone's shoulder and say, hey, look at that, that might be something to look at. And they look at it. And they're like, well, I spent two hours trying to figure out. And and this is something that as a developer, you are involved in creating something new, you create something that never existed before. Even though you might be using things that other people have been using, you are creating something out of nothing. And this is something that brings us to the boundaries of our abilities all the time again, and again and again and again. And if you are like me, being confronted with your own limitations, can be hard because it feels like I'm not good enough. It feels like Oh, I can't do this. I'm never gonna learn it. But on the other hand, we very often don't realize all the things that we have learned all the things that we do know. And that maybe is very, very, very important realization, at least for me it was that the transition from being a junior developer For a fresh recruit somebody who just starts out to becoming a senior, whatever that means to becoming a senior developer, there is a huge stretch in between where in so many things, you will be a junior, because you have never done it before. And in so many things, you will become a senior because you have you have the experience, you have the intuition and intuition. In my opinion, intuition is nothing else than experience, having experienced certain situations so often that you just intuitively know how to deal with them, you might not really know what's right, but you know how to deal with them. And that is what makes seniority where you have done things over and over again, until you get to a point where you Intuit you can intuitively intuitively act and do things, while at the same time. me with my, I don't know, if I look back at my professional career, it's over over a quarter of a century. I still in many regards, I feel like I don't know anything. And in many regards, I really don't. And coming to AWS and I've been with AWS since last year, um, no, since the year before last year in 2021. Now, so I started working at AWS in 2019. I've been working with AWS for many years before that. But I finally joined AWS in 2019. And in one regard, it was for me, it's like paradise. Because I can drink from the firehose, every day, I get to learn so many great things that you cannot learn and see if you're not part of this organization. And I get to learn so many great and awesome things. But at the same time, before I joined AWS I was I considered myself an expert. I had all the all the important certifications. We could talk about what I think about certifications. But I took the certifications as and for me really it because I worked with all the things and the certifications really were a way for me to study in, in a formalized, structured way to get really get into the topic. So I felt like I know a lot in the company that I've worked for before I was one of those who knew most about AWS. All of a sudden, I joined AWS and a colleague at AWS told me after a few months, they told me, AWS is the place where people go, if they want to feel like they don't know, anything.
Tim Bourguignon 37:47
So you found your spot?
Dennis Traub 37:48
I found my spot, I found my spot, because all of a sudden I was the one not knowing anything, even though I was pretty proficient. And and I had the chance to learn so many things and to look into look into the internal documentation of our services, and to talk to people who have built things with it and everything. And getting getting so many seeing so many because we have our internal mailing lists and our slack chats where people post their problems that they have, where if there's a customer who has a very specific issue. And we're trying, we're trying to help our customers. But I'll say it the other way around. If you use AWS and you're working with for instance, with an AWS solutions architect, or you have a technical account manager with AWS, you not only have that person, you have the whole company behind because if that person isn't able to answer your question, they will come into the company and ask around. And there are so many experts in so many specialists inside of AWS that whatever question you have, you will find somebody you will find somebody who either has the answer, or is willing to really dive deep and figure it out. And this is all the tough questions, all the really tough questions, show up daily on my mails, and daily in my chats. And I was looking at that. And each and every question. I was like, I have no idea what they are even talking about. took some time for me to realize that that of course because these are the really tough questions. These are the questions that the experts are having a hard time to figure out. Of course, I don't know. And that's that that was an interesting bit not really to understand that imposter syndrome. imposter syndrome is a real thing and it is a real thing for me. And especially with AWS, but with many jobs before that I really had to learn that it is just normal to feel like You're out of your waters like you are. You have to learn so many things because you do. And that's the other hand, that's the great thing you can you have the chance, you have the opportunity to learn so many things. And this is, in my opinion, this is the only thing you really need, in this profession, in this industry. In this trade, the only thing you really need is the willingness and the passion to learn. And be curious. If you stop learning, if if you want to stop learning at some point, if you feel like I want to know what I'm doing at some point, and then just do it, find something else. If you want to learn if you want to, if you want to cross your boundaries, not boundaries, your limitations if you want to. If you want to discover and create, then you're in the right place. But at the same time, if you are that way, you probably also hard dealing with issues like I'm not good enough for this, I don't even know what I'm doing here.
Tim Bourguignon 41:08
That will happen all the time. Does that mean if I flip the corner and said that if you have the feeling that you're not in over your head anymore, that you're in the wrong place,
Dennis Traub 41:17
as soon as I feel like that I'm getting bored. And as soon as I'm getting bored, I started looking for something else, either inside of what I'm doing, like, Oh my god, there's this new thing like TDD or Scrum or, or that new front end type of rate or that new programming framework. Why not? There are microservices Now we could we could build Microsoft, and I start, I start introducing things into the codebase. Or into the project or the product, I started introducing things. Because I don't want to be bored. And that can be a great thing, that can be a great thing. Because maybe the codebase really needs introduction of new things, maybe the project itself and the organization really needs the introduction of new things because it has been done the same way all the time. And that that doesn't work anymore. And that is why as a consultant, especially in the agile, agile space, I always was a software developer, never an agile, whatever coach Scrum Master, whatever you want to call it. But what I did as a consultant very often was go into an organization where things have become stale, where things needed to change. And they needed to bring in someone from the outside to bring in and change. And that was really fun. Because then I was I was able to introduce new methods, techniques, techniques, technologies, pieces throughout everything in in the in the in the software itself, but also in the organization. The thing with that is, if you're doing consulting, especially when you go into organizations, when you're brought into organization, to, to provide change to deliver change, there's a whole new dimension of limitations that you have to fight with. Because you're gonna, you will get resistance people, people and processes and organizations resist change. And that is another thing of you, if you go into an organization, and you all all of a sudden have to deal with people. And not just code, not just technology. If you have to deal with people, you have a whole new heap of dimensions of complexity that you have to deal with that, again, will bring you to realize your own limitations all the time, every day, day after day. It's the same pattern. It's the same game all over again, where you where you realize, Oh, am I really good at that? I don't really know. I all of a sudden I have to deal with people issues and I I don't feel like a manager. I don't feel like a people person that much. Maybe. And, and that's, that's it's an interesting experience. What I learned for myself, is really the consulting business is not my thing. I like technology. I like working with developers. I like showing developers and that's what I do right now I like I like playing with things. I like playing with new shiny toys. And then immediately turn around and show everybody look at this. Look what you can do with it. Take it play with it. Show me what you did. And I'm excited about what you can do with it. But in the meantime, I will have a look at this new shiny. And in my role right now I really think I have found my personal sweet spot because as a however you want to call it we call it Developer Advocate Some called a technical evangelist or something like that. But what I do, what I do is I learn about the things that are created inside of AWS for our customers. And it's my job to take all the new things and turn around and show it to the developers to inspire them to understand how can I use that to build something, how can I use that to make something new to create something or to just learn something new. And that is exactly what I'm great at great at because I am great at learning new things. And I'm great at showing others what they can do. The doing itself, it's their decision. If you are a developer and I come to you and I show you a look at this new service we have whatever the the the the failure injection system, or service system, I'm not, we have a new service that we announced. We have AWS announced the chaos engineering service. Last year, reinvent just a month ago, I haven't had the chance to have a look at it, because I'm on vacation, and I really need my vacation right now. I will once I'm back, I will have a look at it. So we have this failure injection service, where you can do where you can do your chaos experiment using AWS through an API. And this is something I can I can come to you as a look at that, look at it, look at the great things you can do with it. But it's your decision if you want to, you decide if you want to, if I go into a company as a consultant, and it's my job to bring change. And I can still show the team look at the great things. But some of them don't want to look at them. Some of them don't understand why then why there is the need for change. Some of them actively resist because they are afraid of what that means if things change. And because that brings uncertainty as well, it brings a lot of uncertainty. If change is brought, especially when there comes someone from the outside telling you what to do, I never liked anyone telling me what to do. I understand other people who don't want that either. But what I can do now in my role now is really I show you what I have, I show you what we can do what you can do, but it's your choice. If you want to learn, if you want to work at it, if you want to use it great. If you don't, great, that's fine, that's totally fine. So I get to learn new things, I get to show other people what I like about those things, but I'm not I don't, I'm I don't have the responsibility, I don't have the job to force anyone to do something, I really get it. Everybody can decide on their own. And on the other side, it is totally great. If people come back to me A month later, half year later, maybe later come back to me and tell me Listen, I met you at that conference. Or, or you you did that podcast or that twitch stream. And I tried that out. And I actually built something with it. And I would like to show you, and then I look at that. And that's where I really feel great. I don't, I don't have I don't have my I don't get my satisfaction from building something myself. But I get a huge satisfaction a great feeling from seeing if seeing what other people built. And if they were inspired, in some means in some way, if they were inspired by me. That's fantastic.
Tim Bourguignon 48:26
Awesome. I want to throw a very last curveball in, in hue of, of an advice. You've got so many advice up to now I had to fight with myself to find another one. And you you spoke a lot about trading into the unknown and feeling that you don't belong and that you you're weighing over your head and you don't know what's happening. And you spoke a little bit about about feeling burned out. Too much unknowns and too much feeling out of sync with what you do can lead to too can be a dangerous edge. Do you have an advice or tip to make sense of this unknown and not feel completely lost? A bit lost is fine, completely lost? This may be too dangerous. You see what I mean? Did you have one advice trading in this?
Dennis Traub 49:18
Something else comes to my mind which was important for me to learn to get over my own self doubt and my own difficulties. One thing that's really important to realize is if you feel like that, if you feel like you're in over your head, no matter why no matter if it's just part of what you do. Or if you really are in over your head. You're not the only one who feels that way. Most of us do at one point or another. Many of us do all the time. But we don't want to talk about it because it makes us feel even more like great. In over our head, if we if we, if we, if we talk about it, but that's wrong, what I realized is talking about it helps us understand is what I'm experiencing normal, just the normal part of our job, or am I really in over my head, and don't be afraid to talk to people, I am open, if you feel if you ever feel like you don't know if you're in the right place in that job, because you feel like you're in over your head. And if you have the feeling to all your listeners out there, if you have the feeling, you cannot talk to your colleagues, or you cannot talk to your manager to deal with this. Reach out to me, let me know. And maybe I can help you understand if what you are feeling is just okay, and part of of this job of this profession. Or if you really are in a place where where where you need to think about what you can do. This is maybe what I can, what I can say to that it really is talk to people talk to me talk to Tim talk to anyone, you know, it is fine, it is completely normal. There wasn't there wasn't experiment once in, in the I don't know in the 6070s, where, where they put people, they put people in a room, they set people in the room to fill out a questionnaire. And if you ever are part of a psychological study, and you have to fill out the questionnaire, it is not about the questionnaire. Because what they did is they set they set the people in a room in a closed room on a table with a questionnaire. And after some time through event in the room went in the wall, they led in smoke to that room. And then they they monitored the people to understand how they reacted to this. And what they did, they made this experiment in two different settings. One setting was the person in the room was alone filling out their questionnaire. And the other setting was three people together who didn't know each other three people together, sitting in the room, filling out the questionnaire, when there was only one person in the room, it took the person in the room, once the smoke started coming in, it took the person on average 30 seconds to stand up, open the door, try to find someone because something was obviously not an order. In the other situation where they sit where they had three persons in the room. In many occasions, nobody ever stood up asking for someone outside because something must obviously be wrong. And in the case of cases where people stood up, it took them six to eight minutes until they did well. And what they what they realized. By monitoring them through cameras, the eye movements and asking them interviewing them afterwards is everyone was in a panic, everyone felt like there is something totally messed up. But then they looked at the other two, and they appeared completely calm. And then the feeling for that person was, oh, something must be wrong with me, because I'm feeling panic. But these two people don't. So something must be wrong with me. And I want to I don't want to make a fool of myself. So I'm not going to say anything. But everyone felt that way. And what people didn't realize is the fact that we are extremely good at hiding our feelings. We're extremely good at hiding our fear, hiding our doubt, hiding our panic. So everybody looks at everybody else and sees people who are completely calm. Even though inside everybody is panicking, damn, there's fire We need to do something they've I think they call it what was it pluralistic ignorance, everybody feels the same. And at the same time things, everybody else doesn't feel the same. And it's something that happens in work environments. Very often, where you have the impression, I'm the only one who's not good enough for this job. Everybody else does a great job. Sure they make mistakes, everybody makes mistakes, but everybody else is doing a really good job. And I'm the only one feeling like I'm not good enough. But in fact, almost everybody feels like this. Almost everybody feels like this. But they don't show because they don't want to make a fool of themselves. They don't know because they're afraid of the others knowing that I'm out of my waters that I'm in over my head that I'm not pulling my weight. But in fact, everybody feels like that, especially in jobs where you have to deal with so many many unknowns in jobs like, I don't know, if you're a medical doctor, if you're with the police, if you're a with, if you're fighting a firefighter, if you're a programmer, if you're a manager, if you have to deal with people dealing with people, not only as a manager, but also also in other jobs where you have to deal with people, there are so many unknowns, there are so many complexities that you don't know how to deal with, because you have never encountered them before. And you have to figure out how to deal with them. And you feel like you've very often feel like I I'm not good enough for this, I don't know what to do. How did I get here? Why do they pay me, they are going to find out. And if they find out, they're not gonna pay me anymore. So I better don't say anything. And try to deal with it and spend my evenings and my nights with learning and trying to cram stuff into me. And that's what burns you out. That is what burns you out. If you feel like you're not good enough. If you feel like you need to do more and more and more to to to to get better, because you are not good enough. That's what burns you out. If you feel like this, be aware of the fact that you are not alone. I do. I'm sure Tim does. Many other people I know do. And I've been talking about this a lot in the last few years because I had to deal with my own burnout issues. And I learned how to deal with them in some way. I'm still dealing with them. And this is this is a lifelong journey. But when I started talking to people about my feelings, all of a sudden, many people that I looked up to and still look up to many people told me that they feel exactly the same. And I was like, Whoa, you, everybody, everyone, but not you really, and everybody, everybody. virtually everybody feels like that. And that is my advice, no matter how you feel. Be aware of the fact that everybody else feels the same probably and that it's okay to talk, it's okay to talk to others. And that is the thing. And that is my offer to you. If you don't have anyone, I'm not a professional therapist. So if you need therapy, I will probably tell you to find someone. But if you just need to get it off your chest, reach out. I'm available on Twitter, I'm available available on LinkedIn, you can find me just reach out, let me know. I'm going to tell you how I feel. Maybe it helps you put in context how you feel about yourself, please do so
Tim Bourguignon 57:36
Deal listeners, take on the offer and then contact Dennis if you ever faced this, this questioning and and i'm offering myself as well. Of course, you know where to find me on Twitter and DevJourney. Dennis, thank you very much has been awesome. Do you have any anything timely or timely that you want to plug in before we call today?
Dennis Traub 57:58
Oh, well, as I said, reach out to me on Twitter. It's @dtraub, find me on LinkedIn, connect with me on LinkedIn. And one thing I just started my own podcast, finally. It's an official podcast. It's part of my job, the "Deutschsprachiger-AWS-podcast", the AWS podcast in German. I just put out two episodes and it's not even up on Apple, iTunes Apple podcasts yet. It will probably take some time. But that is something if you're into AWS let me know. Follow me on Twitter. Follow me on I'm on Twitch. I'm streaming professionally, I'm doing with this video stuff. Just Just look at my Twitter. You'll find everything if you follow my Twitter most my most important channel of communication nowadays.
Tim Bourguignon 58:45
Awesome. Thank you very much.
Dennis Traub 58:47
I thank you. Thanks for the invitation. It was fun.
Tim Bourguignon 58:50
It was awesome. And this has been another episode of developer's journey. And we'll see each other next week. Bye. I hope you have enjoyed Dennis' story as much as I did, and that you've been inspired by his curiosity. Unfortunately, there is a darker side to his journey that we didn't touch on the show. Dennis briefly mentioned that for some reason, he wasn't able to finish high school and he also mentioned burnout. For many years. Dennis worked on that side of his story and created a very inspiring talk that I have seen three times live so far. I linked the best recording I could find at bit.ly/defjourney133. I really encourage you to go and watch it. Also, tell me what inspired you on Twitter. I'm at t mahtab t th EP or use the comments section on our website. You will find it at the bottom of the page on any episode page. Finally, I think we're not allowed to bind a friend to a chair and make them listen to an episode of DevJourney. But I guess there's no law against telling them about how inspiring the show is... I mean, as long as we don't use duct-tape...?