#148 Bryan Beecham cares about people
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[00:00:00] Bryan Beecham:
People really fixate on technical skills a lot, but the behavioral skills are equally as important. The reason people have that you know, job interview is they want to know what you're like. They want to know what your behavior skills are like, because even if you're a phenomenal programmer, You're not gonna get the job if you're a jerk to work with.
That has really helped me. So that's again, credit to my parents for raising me well to be polite and to listen and to, the more I can learn that way too about, you know, being in a room or being with other people, the, the more it helps me, you know, an example would be the concept of like, making space. So if you're in a meeting and two or three people are talking a lot and there's a fourth person who's not saying anything, you know, you gotta kind of build a bridge to that person or get that person involved in. You know, so you just ask them if they want, if there's anything they'd like to add.
But just being aware of that is big. You know, you'll probably have a lot of people laughing because I don't do that all the time, but it's something I wanna do.
[00:01:09] Tim Bourguignon:
Hello and welcome to Developers Journey, the podcast bringing you the making of stories of successful software developers to help you on your upcoming journey. My name is Tim Bourguignon and on this episode 148 I receive Bryan Beecham. Bryan is joining from Ottawa, Canada. He's an agile coach, trainer, developer, software craftman, and international speaker with over 20 years of comprehensive IT experience.
Bryan has published training videos on TDD, refactoring and pair programming. And his blog, Human Refactor is where he compares technical practices and learnings with the improvements of the human body. Bryan, welcome to Dev Journey.
[00:01:51] Bryan Beecham:
Well, thanks for having me.
[00:01:52] Tim Bourguignon:
Oh, it's my very pleasure. It's been a long time in the making and I'm really thrilled to have you on.
Finally, so Bryan, the show exists to help the listeners understand what your story looked like and imagine how to shape their own future. So let's go back to your beginning, shall we? Where would you place the start of your dev journey?
[00:02:11] Bryan Beecham:
I would actually put the start of my dev journey when I was in grade four.
And our teacher had brought a computer into the, into the classroom and you know, it just set it up at the back. And then of course we all gathered around and it was like eyes lit up and it was this piece of magic brought in. And it was running Commodore Basic, and we started writing these little loops and you know, 10 da da da 20, you know, GOTO 10 and print our name all over the screen.
And being able to do that just, it felt like magic and I was immediately captivated by it right away.
[00:02:47] Tim Bourguignon:
What was captivating to you, was it the interaction, the being able to, to master the TV? Being able to make it do something?
[00:02:55] Bryan Beecham:
You know, I, I don't know, thinking about it I just like, that's, it became like obsessive, like this was the coolest thing I've ever seen.
I was, you know, blown away by it. And I had, part of it was being able to, you know, I credit our teacher as well, actually. Teacher knew like a couple little basic commands and I think there was books and stuff with it too that we started pouring into as we went through school. We actually had a principal started, he put computers in the main hallway.
So during recess and lunch hours, we had these computers that were available to use and you know, so we were on them all the time and my friends and I, and the principal actually brought my friend and I to the board of Education and we did a presentation and I would be in grade eight at that point on why this school needed more computers.
And the benefits of it. And all the, all the principal did was set up the computer and sat down and didn't say another word the whole time. And my friend and I talked, and I guess that's my first presentation I ever did which was successful by the way.
[00:03:53] Tim Bourguignon:
So did you remember the core arguments you made?
[00:03:58] Bryan Beecham:
I remember talking about improving hand-eye coordination. That was a big thing. And typing skills and how that, this was preparing, preparing people for tomorrow.
[00:04:08] Tim Bourguignon:
That was very, very visionary indeed.
[00:04:10] Bryan Beecham:
Very grandiose arguments. But I wouldn't knock on it though. I think they might have been, you know, if I was sitting at that boardroom table and I saw a couple of 13 year olds presenting... you know, why these computers were good and demonstrating how they were used and what we had learned on them it would've been quite impressive, I think.
[00:04:30] Tim Bourguignon:
What would be the analogy nowadays? Would that be 12 year olds with a bunch of Raspberry Pis, building some kind of cluster to do Bitcoin mining?
[00:04:40] Bryan Beecham:
You know, I don't know. I don't know if it'd be that far or not, but it might have been, because, you know, at that point, there's probably nobody in the room or one maybe in the room who actually had a computer, because we were just, you know, getting into the whole personal computer movement then. I'm a little older, so for some listeners that might be shocking, remembering that time.
But my dad also played a role here so shout out to him because in grade eight I, I told him, I said, Oh, you know, I wanna get this computer. And, and he got me a Commodore VIC-20 and it had 4K of Ram and I used every bit of it. It was fantastic. I mean, this was cartridges to plug in the back.
So we had some games and then, but we would write around and we'd have, like, in the book, you'd have, you know, you'd have a whole program written out and we would type it in, you know, line for line. And if you messed up a line, you had to go and figure out, you know, what you did. . But then once you had it working, you could then kind of hack it and you could then start changing things and saying, Well, what does that do?
And so it was became this like environment for experimentation that we would jump into. We'd try this and we'd say, Hey, look what I did. Look what I did. Like, one of the things we did is we wanted to we wanted to try to make Pacman, because that was a big arcade game at the time on our VIC-20s.
But the way we had to do it, like we, we couldn't actually make a character. So somebody had found out how to access part of the keyboard memory. So what we would do is we would use like a letter T and make that like a Pacman with an open mouth. And so we'd actually sort of, you know, instead of the T moving around the screen, it would look like a Pacman moving around the screen.
But this is the hacks we had to do, and we only had, you know, limited memory to get into.
[00:06:15] Tim Bourguignon:
I'm probably one generation later, so I started playing with computers with an Apple II at the end of the eighties, something like this. But the, something that has really struck me during all the interviews I did and people were talking about, about their Atari, Amigas, and Commodores is , the user manual was really a programming manual as well.
Not just user manual from what, what we've seen afterwards, really from a consumer perspective, but really a programming manual. And this seems to first of all have been really, really well written. And, and second of all, really have triggered people to go into programming for real.
[00:06:55] Bryan Beecham:
I couldn't agree more.
Whoever, whoever was the first person, you know, to say, Oh, I'm gonna include, you know, some code in here. Like how to write code for this device, you know, to set it up that way. They must have known that they were gonna tap into the imagination of all these kids, you know who were working on the computers.
Yeah, it was brilliant, brilliant thought to do it. And I think maybe once one person did it, maybe that's like, well, that's what you do. That's how they're done, you know, is to include all this information.
[00:07:21] Tim Bourguignon:
Mm-hmm. , just imagine if you, if you bought an iPad nowadays and you had an IDE on your desktop right away.
[00:07:27] Bryan Beecham:
Well, I mean, could you imagine if the iPad came with Xcode? If it came to like, here's how to write a little basic program that you can start with, and build on . That would be fantastic, but I mean, it. We're getting linked that with, we have so many diverse languages now that we go through.
I mean, when you talk to me about coming on the show, one slice I thought of this was, Wow, I could talk about all the different languages that I've gone through and why and all that. And it, it's crazy. And then there's still tons of languages that I've never touched, I haven't worked with at all, or I've, you know, I've dabbled a little bit, maybe at a conference or something. But then I don't see again.
[00:08:02] Tim Bourguignon:
So you're not collecting languages like Pokemons ?
[00:08:06] Bryan Beecham:
No, I'm not. So, yeah, I already had the guitar collection problem. And I managed to cure myself of that. I stopped buying guitars. But yeah, computer language is, I know a lot of people wanna try this out, then try that out.
And I, I've, So yeah, I'll tell a short, you know, what happened is I, because I had that Commodore basic start you know, working in that format was very familiar and I did actually, actually did so a couple versions of basic and it depended what was like available. Like I ended up going to to to a college for software development.
The classic ASP stuff. And then asp.net was like, This is great. And then I'd done, I already done like a lot of VB six, and then I kinda got the .Net portion of that, so vb.net. And then I, people super wanted to hire me for like, you know, to do classic ASP stuff and I was like, No, no, no. And I have to say, no to jobs to actually move forward.
And whether that was the right decision or not, you know, I don't know. I, it's one I made. And then I looked at did the exact same thing with C Sharp. And I said, Okay, I'm not gonna say yes to any VB.Net jobs anymore cause I wanna build up my c sharp .Net skillset. And then I did it again and then most recently got into Python.
Now I just love Python and. I'm a huge Python advocate.
[00:10:26] Tim Bourguignon:
What, convinced you to to go to Python and maybe not, not Ruby or something else, and strip language?
[00:10:30] Bryan Beecham:
Well, so I was exposed to a little bit of Ruby but me, Python was just, it felt so right because I think the explicitness of it, everything is explicit.
You have to say, you can't, just like Ruby I can end a function with 5. And it's completely valid. Totally valid. It's like, Oh, well you must want me to return that. So it has all this implicit stuff built into it. I really like the explicitness of Python now. Like if you don't, if you don't put it your tab in the right spot, it's like you, I'm sorry, this isn't gonna work.
And, and people complain. They're like, Oh, this is crazy. I'm like, No. Like I was already formatting my code really well. So to me that's not a big deal. So there was no hurdle for Python. Python was like c sharp on easy mode. So, and I felt like I could get closer to writing my, you know, delivering what I wanted to deliver, getting, delivering my business value rather than just fighting with the language.
I'll confess fully that Java is the most evil language from my perspective, , But I will do more Java. I, I, I just, it is, I joke around saying that, you know, hell for me is gonna have like Java, it'll be the only language available and all the tea will be cold. You will not be able to get a hot cup of tea. It'll be like Luke warm at best .
[00:11:48] Tim Bourguignon:
So why is Java so evil?
[00:11:52] Bryan Beecham:
You know, I think I've just, I had a couple of bad situations with Java, like with the, the, the company. But then I always find I'm fighting with the language, like I'm trying to do something and I'm like you know, it's an example. I mean, and it might just be of a fact of I don't know the right way, and if I knew the right way it would be easy.
But even when I've when I've worked with other people and I'm helping them, like refactor and I'm looking at their code, the, the messes I see in Java are incredible. Like you can really. You know, screw yourself over in Java. It will help you make some really bad code . It seems like in Ruby you can, you can mess up a bit, you know, but maybe, Maybe it's just the developers that I've seen you using Ruby, were actually, you know, have those XP sensibilities and they're actually writing pretty good code.
You know, they actually have tests. Yeah, but some of the Java stuff I've seen it, There's a lot out there too, so it might be like, you know, country music, There's just so much country music that a lot of it's bad . It doesn't mean that all country music's bad. There's some really great country music.
[00:12:57] Tim Bourguignon:
Yeah, it's just law of big numbers. Is it? Yeah, there has to be some at some point. I really understand what you, what you mean. I had a similar trajectory with a lot of C++ and then C# and then came to Python and, and I, I think what you describe is really what's what resonates with me this the structure or maybe that's my German side speaking , the structure.
And and also I, I work for a company which is a pretty, pretty heavily invested on Java side. I just cannot stand it. So , I'm looking at some Java. Cause every, every now and then they just get shivers. Really. When, Interesting. Interesting point. I think my C sharp skills are still way, way deeper than my Python skills.
So I can, I can really, really talk language features on, on the C# side which what I cannot really do on the Python side, but. I am way more able to produce solutions on the Python side than on the C# side nowadays.
[00:13:48] Bryan Beecham:
I agree. And like for me, I'm, I'm still in that, you know, or I'm, I'm working on Python, but I'm usually working on my own stuff.
Or if I go to a company and I'm working with them, you know , I'll spend like two days or three days with their stuff, so I don't really get to see all the different possibilities and different ways you can do it. Like the last two weeks I started using NumPy for the first time, which is like people will like, you know, who are Python users, they'll be like, What do you mean, for the first time?
But , I forced myself. I forced myself to not use any additional libraries. Because I wanted to, well, I wanted to learn how I would how would I would do it the hard way, if that makes sense. You know, maybe I'm just trying to punish myself for something, but but now that I'm using like NumPy, I'm like, Oh my God, this is fantastic.
I think about you look at handling the arrays and matrices and. Oh, that's another language that I did before was that was APL. So which stands for a programming language, which is brilliant at matrixes. Any handling matrices. It was just designed for it. Very obscure language.
[00:14:53] Tim Bourguignon:
Isn't there a view of somebody doing Conway's Game of Life on YouTube in apl?
[00:14:59] Bryan Beecham:
Oh, well thank you for that. You just earned some time for me and my future here. I'm gonna have to go and find that. Excellent.
[00:15:06] Tim Bourguignon:
I tell you it doesn't last 45 minutes, so it's, it's really impresive, I think it's APL. I have to double check .
[00:15:13] Bryan Beecham:
I'll take a look for it. That sounds, that sounds brilliant.
It's great. It's great. Kind of like playing with these different things and seeing what the benefits are like. I think we're gonna look in the future a lot differently and, and say then, you know, this language is awesome. We're gonna be of. Oh, I can use 12 languages and what's the job? You know, like what's the business problem I'm trying to solve?
Oh, okay. Well then I need a hammer. Or I need a screwdriver. Or I need a drill press. We'll, we'll look at different things. The problem I think right now is that if you look at what. The HR does, or they say, Oh, there's a, we need a Java developer. I get requests as a Java developer all the time, and I'm like, Oh, you really don't know me and you really don't want me in there as a Java developer
It, it's funny, you know, it's, The hr, they kind of like pull up your resume from 20 years ago or something.
[00:16:01] Tim Bourguignon:
Is it hr at all? Is it hr or is it management? Not really knowing how to vet for for an engineering mindset and in the software developers. ' capacitieS? Or is it for developers not trusting somebody that comes from a different technical background?
[00:16:19] Bryan Beecham:
You know, I think those are all valid points, and I, I should not blame HR for this because they're probably said, someone's told them get, us a Java developer, And so they're like, Okay. But you know, we gotta get them kind of on board. The new way of doing things too, like I work at companies and we're doing, a lot of times we're doing agile transformations and things, and we're either like working with the management or working with the development team.
And I try to tell everybody, it's not like, pick and choose who's on the ride here. Like, we're all going on the ride together. Everyone's on board. Like that's, that's, that's the way we succeed is that we're all in on it. And it's difficult for some people to make that shift. But the people who do, the people who start doing like HR in an agile way, they're like, Whoa, this is fantastic.
Like, you know. It's like revolutionary to them. So they love the feeling.
[00:17:08] Tim Bourguignon:
And I can understand why , not just because it's my job as well to to promote this way of, of the different way of working, but I really can understand why it's it's, it's a different way of thinking. It's a different way of of of getting your end endorphins every day from what you do.
[00:17:24] Bryan Beecham:
You gotta be passionate about what you're doing. Like it's, you know, the, the, the old saying, right? If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. I, I believe that I, I'm, I try to, I'm trying to move more towards that. I'm trying to do more work I like and say it's, it's okay to say no to some things.
and you know, I'm in a position now that I don't have to like, maximize every dollar, you know, every hour of my day. Not everyone is as fortunate to be in that position, but it's you know, there's always, it's so much easier to do work you enjoy.
[00:17:57] Tim Bourguignon:
Yes, it makes things easier, but how, how did you come into that position of being able to say no nowadays and, and pick and choose what you wanna work on?
[00:18:04] Bryan Beecham:
A very long road, . It's, part of it is looking at the you know, doing a bit of consulting. So I have to spend some time doing that. And then trying to trying to organize my time, like my time today. I didn't do any work for, for my, my current client today at all. I did none. I today was all about, And I'm willing to make that investment in my time in, in myself.
So, you know, yesterday I worked, like the whole day for my client . So it's about, part of it's about getting your time organized. . And there's certain things too, like in my schedule I have a whole spiel about human refactoring. I won't go into it today, but one of the things I do in the human refactor is we look at, you know, what's important to you and, and what do you enjoy?
Like, where, where do you get pleasure value in your, in your life? And like one of the things for me was, was the golfing. I did not get pleasure, have golfing, I'd go and play golf a lot. And that kind of perfectionist, not a perfectionist really, but it's that, that view of like wanting to get better and wanting to get better.
And I'd go to their driving range and I'd practice and I'd practice and go with my friends and, you know, we would even like, you know, Videotape each other swinging, and then we would like slow it down in slow motion, right? Like professionals do to, to tweak stuff. And, but the realization came that I was spending like six hours and I was mostly frustrated after the whole experience.
So I cut that outta my life. I just stopped doing it and suddenly I had all this stuff, more time available. So that's just an example of kind of, Looking at how you use your time and if your time is spent on the things that are important to you or the things that, you know, bring in some money that which is translation for things that bring in money are things that other people find important, right?
So if you find my, even my Java programming, if you find that important, you'll give me money for it. So it's, it's looking at, and I think some people Don't always, they, they want security. So if you're willing to play a little more risky, then you can take like a, a shorter contract knowing that, you know, I'm gonna do a good job here, so I'll be able to get another contract afterwards.
That's helped me a lot. I find if you're fixed in for a lot of people say, Well, I want, I wanna know where I'm working for the next two years. That means you know where you're working for the next two years, right? There's a double edge sword there.
[00:20:16] Tim Bourguignon:
There's so many, so many directions I wanna go there but I would like to come back to some, One of the things you said, you said, well today I didn't work for my client. I worked for me and and yesterday I worked for my client. How does one typical week, if there's something as a typical week looks like for you you were for your client, you probably work for your business, you'll probably work on yourself to, to hone your skills cetera.
What would be the, the major blocks that you would have in such a week?
[00:20:39] Bryan Beecham:
The downside of, of what I've been describing is that my week is pretty packed because I'm, you know, my time. But it's funny, it's like, like I have a, at lunchtime I have, I have lunch, and then my wife and I will go for like a walk around a block.
But that's very important. That's a critical part of the day. If I ever have to miss that, you know, it disrupts my whole schedule. Like, I don't wanna, I'll never put a meeting at lunchtime. And anyone listening to the call, don't invite me to a meeting at lunchtime, . Cause I'll be grouchy. I mean, I can't believe that happens in companies.
It's insane people's schedules. But we need to breathe. Right? Like, we need to, we need to have this. It's like even when your, when your cells fire, there's this refractory period, right? And where the energy kind of resets and. You can't just go, go, go, go, go, go. Right. People need like to stop and take a breath.
Like we breathe in and we breathe out and it tries to be crazy. Like I, one of my early things was working at a early places was working well first I, I worked at an ISP and it was crazy cuz you know, we thought the good thing was to was to launch in like, I don't know, it was like 20 different locations at once.
First time we'd ever. You know, had I known what I know now, it would've been very different. We would've maybe started with one and got it up and going. But anyway but I, you know, so worked there and I worked at a, at a advertising agency, so always had that view that like, business is important here.
Like we have to. Have the reason for doing it.
[00:22:15] Tim Bourguignon:
Good. Makes sense. Makes sense. So how, how do you expend your business? Do you work on it a lot? Do you network a lot? Do you search for gigs a lot?
[00:22:27] Bryan Beecham:
I am one of the luckiest people in the world. I'm pretty sure. I think I've been very, very fortunate with friends and colleagues and getting to know people like the, the conferences have been very good for me.
Like I went, we used to go to conferences a lot and Network there. You get to know other people and you know, there's thing we talk about, people really fixate on, you know, technical skills a lot that we have, but the behavioral skills are equally as important. And when you go, the reason you have people have that, you know, job interview is they want to know what you're like, they want to know what your behavior skills are like.
Because even if you're a phenomenal, you know, programmer, you're not gonna get the job. If you're a jerk to work with, right? Nobody wants to work with jerks . So I think that, I think that for me, I think that has really helped me. So that's again, credit to my parents for raising me well to, you know, to be polite and to listen and to, the more I can learn that way too about you know, being in a room or being with other people, the, the more it helps.
You know, an example would be of the concept of like making space. So if you, if you're in a meeting and you know, two or three people are talking a lot and there's a fourth person who's not saying anything, We gotta kind of build a bridge to that person or get that person involved in, you know, see, just ask them if they want, if there's anything they'd like to add.
But just being aware of that. It is big, you know, probably have a lot of people laughing to that because I don't do that all the time, but it's something I wanna do. Striving to improve.
[00:24:05] Tim Bourguignon:
That's very good. And I want to highlight you said behavior skills and not soft skills.
[00:24:10] Bryan Beecham:
My friend Tim Ottinger uses that term and I just a ton of things I could credit him with.
But he's been, he a really big been a big mentor for me and, and he, he was he used to coach me. So, and that's, yeah, it's something I'll get to later probably is talking about that everyone should have a coach, but Tim, Tim has that expression. He says behavioral skills it, it's a lot better word than saying soft skills, and there's a lot more in that, that we can look at and we can understand the way people behave.
It's like, you know, if you're nice and you're considerate and you're you're a good team player. I mean, those are things that are valuable. In the workplace today. Mm-hmm. , I think gone is the days where we could, you know, we could, two of us could build something in our garage. I mean, I don't know. I, I, as I say that, I'm thinking of like some of the crazy maker stuff that goes on with like, you know, Raspberry Pis and Arduinos and different things that people are doing, which is very cool.
But anything that big software, if you're gonna work at a big software company, you're going to have to interact with others. You're gonna have to, be on a team and, given a choice of two developers with similar skills and one's a jerk and one's a decent person to get along with . They're gonna make the same choice all the time.
I mean, we're kind of on the whole concept here of getting into like psychological safety. You know, like Google did their Aristotle project when they looked at all their teams and they said, Well, what? What are our best teams? What are the common elements on our best teams? And one of the top things was psychological safety.
You know, like a junior could question a senior developer on the team, right? Mm-hmm. , anybody could say, Well, why are we doing this? You know, like they openly could communicate well. and I, I, any team that I've been on, I realized, yeah, we had that, we had that same thing, that there was no real kind of rank to the group.
You know, we were all about getting the, the best thing, like we're all in together to, to make the best product we could.
[00:26:04] Tim Bourguignon:
[00:26:04] Bryan Beecham:
Some of the stuff I that I've been kind of talking about kind of on the journey, getting back to the developer journey. You know, I've obviously, I've started to mention some things kind of in the agile world already.
That was probably a big significant point as well though, cuz I worked at a company and actually they were, they were a Java shop and I was, it was a, it was a pretty bad experience overall and you know, there's. It wasn't the right fit for me. And luckily I was able to go and do some consulting gig afterward, and I think both sides are relieved at the end of it.
It just wasn't working out. It felt like, you know, round peg and square hole type of thing . The one thing though is that they said, Oh, you know, they said we're an agile company. And the way they said it, I was like, What, what do you mean an agile company? All right. And so I went and looked it up on the internet and I said, Oh, this is how the place I used to be at, this is how we worked.
We didn't know there was a name for it. You know, we, we would like, we had a problem. We got, you know, we would demo for our client all the time and, and you know, we, we strive to have technical skills and to always improve them, and we put tests on everything and, and we would like pair up all the time to work on things.
And no one ever said, like, I don't think I have heard the word XP, you know, to that point. And or agile. So I started seeing this and I'm like, Well, it's cool. Like there's a whole community out here that does this, that, you know, promotes these practices. And, and so then I sort of went down that whole road started going to the conferences while I got scrum master training and then kind of working at a place.
I was just working as a programmer though, and I started Coaching them and bringing all these, these concepts in. And then I started going to the conferences and meeting more people and then people asked me to speak with them and you know, people like Declan Whelan and Tim Ottinger and they've been great at and helping me like with my speaking stuff.
And, you know, it's a really big thing if you have a second speaker. And like Chet Hendrickson's, another person who's like, he asked me, Hey, do you wanna talk with me at this conference? And I'm like, You know, I'm blown away. I'm like, Are you kidding me? ? Sure. . So People have extended those opportunities.
But you gotta put yourself out there too though. So you have to like, you have to be willing, you have to be present right at the conference. You have to be in the conversation. You have to, you have to be willing, you know, to. To say, I don't know, but I'd like to learn.
[00:28:34] Tim Bourguignon:
Definitely, definitely. You, you've mentioned making quite a lot and, and now you're talking more about coaching.
How are you, how are you combining the two and, and so in, in the the questioning I often get just to to expand a little bit on that is when you're a coach, you're supposed to be on the, on the side and people expect you not to be hands on, which. It's not necessarily true, but that's kind of the expectation that I get when I come into your company.
Well, or you, you're gonna be observing, you're gonna be giving advice from the side. You're not gonna be playing with us. And actually it can be quite the opposite, but how, how do you live it? How do you do, did you build it for yourself? And how did you explore this, this whole field?
[00:29:15] Bryan Beecham:
To me, it and boy, this is a years of experience, but it's depends on the team. It depends what their dynamic is how much they want me involved and how much they want me advising and stuff. There's different types of coaching and even from one day to the next that might shift, like I might say, Oh, hey, let me show you something. Right. And I might type something on the keyboard and I'll be like, Oh, that's good.
I, I want them. I want them running at the keyboard. I want them putting the solution in as much as possible. But you know, some people like to go all the way to the one end where they say they do, they do like player coaching and I've done that before too, where we're embedded in and, you know, we pair, we do like pair programming and we show new techniques constantly and all that.
I think it's like a slide rule is the way I look at. And I prefer to pick the, the appropriate time. There are times when you need to stand back and analyze, Hey, we got some problems with the dynamics here because that, you know, that lead developer is being a jerk and I, I gotta talk with him later, right?
And we might have another situation. We might say, you know oh, look at this lead developer, you know, she's incredible. And we need her to mentor some of the other developers so that they can learn from her. So it. It's knowing the team a lot. Coaching is a whole bag of things like you have to have, especially technical coaching, you have to have some technical awareness, but you also need to be great at the behavioral skills side.
You need to be able to talk with teams. You need to be able to, to be a good listener. And sometimes it's just sensing the room. And I've worked with other people like Mike Hill, who everybody calls GeePaw. He is the best that I've seen personally, like live at it. There's other people that I'm sure are very good but I've seen him in a room and just changed the whole momentum, the whole attitude and get everyone working together.
And I didn't even know how he did it though. It's just kind of magical retrospective, right? Where everyone's like, Yeah, we can do this. And and even the reality of like, maybe this is gonna be tough. , you know, maybe we're not being fair to ourselves that this is gonna be a hard thing to do. But I guess the key thing I learned from him is that caring about the people, caring about the people is more important than the project.
If you care about the people, the project will take care of itself.
[00:31:35] Tim Bourguignon:
But how, how do you handle the if you happen to be in a not so healthy environment where the hand feeding you with big air quotes is the one caring less than the others about other people. How would you react to that?
[00:31:48] Bryan Beecham:
Yeah, that's, that's a tough one. That's a tough one. I mean, you're and that's not uncommon. I've seen that in several places. It's bridge building then. There's certain things you have to do and you have to look at what are the egos like? Sometimes a lack of awareness. You know, like a, a manager might not realize that, you know, when they say something, the impact it's having on the team
Sometimes you can just pull 'em aside and say, Hey, I'm noting this. What do you think? And, you know, and kind of challenge them with some questions. Because I, at the end of the day, I find nobody really wants to be like annoying at work. Nobody wants to care less about other people. Like there's no programmers out there trying to write bad code. What? Right. Like, I, I, and maybe I'm naive here, but I truly believe that everyone is trying to do their best with what they have and the pressure they're under.
And you know, the situation that they're in. You don't know what's going on in their personal lives either, right? I mean, they're, they might have all kinds of stress that they're, they've got bottled up that they're bringing to work and maybe they're just like barely keeping it together at work. So it's, we're not dealing with robots here.
These are human beings and you know, we need to. Adjust to them accordingly. Here's the, one of the best coaching tips I ever got. I, I used to think that when I worked with a team, the goal was for me to get the team to the potential that I saw. I said, Wow, they could be this. They're gonna bring them there.
What someone told me and what I've. Been put to practice since was that the goal is actually to help them get where they want to go, and that's a massive difference. It's not about me, it's not about the coach. I've worked with so many coaches that are all about them. You know, they're like, Here's my big impact on this team.
The best coaches I've worked with though. Have had amazing teams and the people on the team feel awesome. They feel like they're incredible, they're empowered, you know, they feel like in control over their environment and they can make these decisions and the, the coach can go away and the, the, it's sustained energy.
The bad coach though, if you. If you are involved in everything, the moment you go away, the energy goes away too, and everything sets right back to where it was.
[00:34:00] Tim Bourguignon:
Mm-hmm. I would like to add one other option to what you said. So the it's not, the goal is not to, to, to get the team to the potential you saw. And also not to get the team to the potential the management wants the team to be at.
[00:34:13] Bryan Beecham:
Yeah. Yeah. It's, I think this is where the large companies are having trouble. Is the idea of a team empowerment to just say, Hey, I'd like this to happen. Like here's what I want. and to let the team figure out how to do it.
It sounds really simple to say, but when you actually go to practice, the turns out that the, you know, the, the managers was a developer for 10 years, so they've got all the solutions in their head and they'll say, Oh, go and do this. Or sometimes we hire a bunch of consultants in and we tell the consultants what we want built.
So the relationship is very different. It's hard to be successful on a, as an agile team in that environment. It is, you know, the, when you do it well, it's all about the team being able to make the decisions. Mm-hmm. anyway. Cause I, I'm, I'm passionate, I'm passionate about that too. But teams being successful and, and individuals to be successful .
[00:35:08] Tim Bourguignon:
I can hear it in your voice . Before, before the the time box slowly comes up to an end. You mentioned the beginning. Everyone should have a coach. Do you wanna talk about that a little bit?
[00:35:17] Bryan Beecham:
Yeah, and I, I think, you know, I think it was Joshua Kerievsky at at a talk in in San Francisco. I, how many years ago this is now, but And he was, I didn't remember what his, his talk was fully about, but that really caught me as one part of it was that you know, everyone should have a coach and, you know, I think he cited off a couple, like, you know, professional athletes that, that had coaches and, you know, they usually have several coaches.
They'll have like physical coaches. They, you know, they'll have a, their own psychology coach. And it's, if you're a professional, you need to have a coach if you want to grow. You need to have a coach. They need someone to help guide you. And you know, some people are fortunate to have other members of the family who, you know, perform that role.
But I highly advise people to do that. So when I heard that, I started looking and thinking, Well, who would be a good coach? And I thought, well, I need to find someone who's not at the company I'm at, because I wanna be able to talk about, you know, without mentioning details, I wanna talk about, you know, I'm pissed off at this guy, or...
Be able to go into detail, not, sorry, not into detail, but to talk about concepts without them knowing. Who they are. And I also wanted somebody who got me to understood, so, so like Tim Ottinger was a great choice for me cuz he plays guitar as well. So we used to talk a lot. We ended up both working at help with help from him.
Actually a good little story here. I was, I was always wanted to work at Industrial Logic, a lot of, you know, good professionals there. And that was kind of on my career path to do. And I was consulting for a different company and I was getting on an airplane to fly home, and I'm walking down the aisle of the plane, going to my seat, and my phone rings.
Josh Kerievsky's on the phone and he is like, Hey Bryan, how's it going? I'm like like I don't even know how he's got my number. So I'm kind of going this is weird. And we said, Oh, he said, Tim saying she'd be a great fit with our company, . So I'm like, Oh, alright. So started, you know, I ended up working there, so that was not, you know, did I wanna work there some point? Yeah. But I'd never even approached him about saying, Hey, you know, Put a word in for me or anything, it's just maybe through working with me, he said, Hey, we should bring this guy on board. So your community is critical and someone else who's, who's done a lot with me is Chet Hendrickson. And it's, you know, he's actually, if you're into the Agile Manifesto at all, and you actually look at.
After the, the original signator, you like the first person who signed it after in the list of names. He's the very first name on that list. And getting to know these different people, even if they're not like coaching you, you've gotta surround yourself with good people and conversations. Like Bill Wake is absolutely brilliant and every time I talk to him, I learn things.
But then when I stopped talking to him. And I think about what he said, I realize, Oh, I didn't fully understand that. That's even more brilliant . So I have a lot of those moments. But different people like I, I've run into like you know, the conferences again, were a great place to, to meet a lot cuz we would all kind of go there and, you know, we, we get to hang out or we'd work together. And but the, the coaching thing is, is critical. Like if you believe in coaching at all, then you should have a coach. It's just kind of like somebody who you can talk to and get advice from to help you grow. You know, you can explain, Oh, I'd like to work on this or work on that.
And I think it improves everyone's life to be a mentor of some sort.
[00:38:39] Tim Bourguignon:
Amen to that. Why do you think people tend not to do it for a lot of generalization in this question, but anyhow?
[00:38:47] Bryan Beecham:
To not get a coach?
[00:38:48] Tim Bourguignon:
Yes. Not get a coach. To not get a mentor.
[00:38:51] Bryan Beecham:
Ego. I think it's ego. I think it's a great insecurity of saying, I don't know.
They're gonna have to say the words. I don't know. And they're gonna have to ask for help, and I wanna tell everybody that is not weakness at all. That strength. Strength is, is owning up to what your weaknesses are so that you can remove them, you can work on. You know, I, I once took a database administrator course cuz even though I'd done all this database work, I thought, you know, I don't even know how the server gets backed up and I don't even know, like, all these things.
And the course was great, you know, cause I was learning about like disaster recovery plans and, and how to properly, you know, divide it up between different, different hard drives and way back in the day. But you, it's a huge strength to look at at. There's a story people can look up. I know we're running out of time, but the concept of a beginner's mind and approaching things from the angle that you don't know anything.
And that takes a lot of of courage and it takes a lot of wisdom to be able to do that. It's not easy and everyone say, Well, I know a bit about this. It's like, If you approach it from the concept of not knowing anything about it, that means you're gonna maximize how much you can learn. And you gotta keep on learning all the time.
[00:40:04] Tim Bourguignon:
Indeed, we do. That's usually the place where I ask one, one advice, but the, the two last advice you gave with or actually two and half with get a coach get over your ego and get a coach and try to see for the beginner's mind are so huge, unless you have something to top this
[00:40:19] Bryan Beecham:
one last. I'll try.
One last thing. Don't hang around with negative people, right? Ooh, Like Arnold Schwarzenegger says, Right. Don't listen to the naysayers. Right? You gotta have a vision. Believe in yourself and don't like, just, you gotta be surround yourself with positive people who believe in you and believe in your potential, and they'll encourage you.
That is critical. If people are not helping you in life, If people are weighing you down like anchors, you've gotta get rid of them. You gotta walk away from that kind of experience and just think about people who are pulling you up and lifting you up and, and helping you grow to become more. You surround yourself with those people and you'll be amazed at what you're capable of.
[00:41:03] Tim Bourguignon:
Okay. This stops that .
Thank you very much. That is, that is indeed very true and a whole can of worms itself. Bryan, that's been very inspiring. Thank you very much.
[00:41:12] Bryan Beecham:
Thanks for having me.
[00:41:13] Tim Bourguignon:
Where can people find you online and, and start discussion with you about anything we talked about or, or something else entirely?
[00:41:19] Bryan Beecham:
Well, I'm on I guess LinkedIn is one place. You can find me there. I, I'm on Twitter now and then on Twitter, I'm Billy Garnet, which is my guitar name. Long, long story with that.
[00:41:30] Tim Bourguignon:
your rock star name.
[00:41:32] Bryan Beecham:
Yeah. It'll, it'll say Billy Garnet and then it'll say Bryan Beecham in the profile. Yeah, another time will tell that story.
[00:41:40] Tim Bourguignon:
Any conferences when conferences will be a thing again, where people could usually see you?
[00:41:47] Bryan Beecham:
You know, Agile Tech Conference, which is called like I think deliver Agile now. I think it's been got changed. I haven't, I didn't go to the virtual one that had this year and I've been kind of stepped back from conferences cause I was traveling a lot.
And you know, I really enjoy being at home now. Kind of got, I got traveled out. All the airports and all the hotels start to look exactly the same after a while. . And yeah, if you've ever seen the show Groundhog Day, You're living that. So I am choosing, I'm choosing to be at home more. But the you know, if people wanna reach out I'm happy to hear from people and they can answer some basic questions.
If it gets too complicated, I may not answer, but. So you keep it simple, like I will probably reply .
[00:42:32] Tim Bourguignon:
Awesome. Bryan, Thank you very, very much. All right.
[00:42:35] Bryan Beecham:
Oh, one last thing. Yeah, I, I, My humanrefactor.com is a blog, which I don't nearly write enough on, but I have some articles there too.
[00:42:44] Tim Bourguignon:
And we'll link it in the show note s. Definitely. Thank you.
[00:42:48] Bryan Beecham:
Thank you very much for, again, for having me.
[00:42:50] Tim Bourguignon:
And this has been another episode of Developer's Journey and we'll see each other next week. Bye-bye.
I hope you have enjoyed Bryan's story as much as I did. I, I really connected with this story probably because I follow the similar path in tech and then toward technical coaching, but, I hope it didn't come out too much during the interview.
I really had a hard time concentrating myself on listening to his story and not try to keep applying all the tips he was giving me to my current customer situations. Tell me how his story influenced you. Tell me how he moved you and, and tell me what inspired you. You can reach me on Twitter. I'm @timothep. Or email, [email protected], or use the comments section on our website.
I'm always eager to hear what you think about all those interviews. I wrote many, many sentences, but this one really resonates the most with me. _Caring about the people is more important than caring about the project. If you care about the people, the project will take care of itself._
This is so true. It's your time to take care of people around you. Tell them about the Dev Journey podcast and encourage them to listen to Bryan's story. And you know what it said. If they refuse, please double check if they're good for you. You remember what Bryan said, Don't hang around with negative people.
Nah. Or maybe...