#178 Aviv Ben-Yosef is a tech leader who went through a lifelong experience pressure cooker
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Aviv Ben-Yosef 0:00
First of all, it's not easy. But what I usually do when I start working with a new client, I start by asking them, you know, what's the one year you know, 12 month vision? What do we want to achieve this period. And happily, I can say that most people have a vision to report. So give me a blank stare, and then I know I have a different problem to solve. But once they give me this vision, I actually give them an exercise and tell them alright, I want you to talk to four random people in your organization, your managers ICs, ask them the same question. And you know, paste it into Slack. And let's talk about it in our next discussion. And virtually no single company has all four people aligned. And that's because we tend to think that what we have in our heads is somewhere, you know, I don't know how you know, we have a Dropbox of the mind, we expect people to be synchronized, and they're not and you have to repeat stuff.
Tim Bourguignon 0:59
Hello, and welcome to developer's journey podcast, bringing you the making of stories of successful software developers. To help you on your upcoming journey. I'm your host, Tim bourguignon. On this episode 178, I receive Avi venules. F. Aviv worked as a software engineer for the IDF and for IBM before embracing intrapreneurship and freelancing have is now a tech executive consultant and advisor, coaching CEOs, CTOs, VPS, directors of engineering, to name just a few across the globe to forge teams and cultures that are proud of leading, and is the author of The Tech executive operating system book for first timers and veteran tech leaders. And he is the host of the tech executive podcast. Welcome to the afternoon. Hey, but before we come to your story, I want to thank the terrific listeners who support the show every month, you are keeping the dev journey lights up. If you would like to join this fine crew and help me spend more time on finding phenomenal guests, then editing audio tracks, please go to our website, Dev journey dot info and click on the Support me on Patreon button. Even the smallest contributions are giant steps toward a sustainable dev journey. journey. Thank you. And now back to today's guest. So Aviv, as you know, the show exists to help the listeners understand what your story look like and imagine how to shape their own future. So as usual own show, let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place the start of your journey?
Aviv Ben-Yosef 2:43
Oh, have to say that it's probably right around. I think I was nine years old. When I first started coding, I was enamored with computers ever since we got our first computer when it was, I think five years old. And for some reason, I wanted to learn how to make this thing do what I wanted to do. And I just started learning. Like, I think I got a copy of some Turbo Pascal book from somewhere. And my parents luckily really just encouraged me whatever I wanted to learn, they would let me so I got another book doing Visual Basic, and then another book, doing HTML and basic websites. And you know, one thing led to another, I learned some C by myself, I got I'm guessing the first Linux installation within a radius of like 30 miles from where I used to live back then. And I was just, you know, from that point on, I was just in love with coding, I would code and learn. Every single day, even you know, after school, after meeting with my friends, I would go back and sit down and read another book. Till like 1am. Just, I don't know, it just clicked for me. It was really fun. And that continued on across the entire time I was in high school, actually, I met my wife, because I had all this coding background, we went to the same high school. And we took the same computer science class, but I already knew everything that was taught at the point where I joined it. So the teacher realized this and was like he just told me just go and you know, help people out, you know, we would have an exercise. He knew I would finish in like two minutes. He just told me, you know, go around help people. And that's how I came to meet my wife because I sat next to her and started you know, finding areas where she missed putting a semicolon which is important as Sukkot and that's how we actually started talking and created a relationship and now we've been together for like 17 years. Wow. That's how it all started. And I was enamored at some point with the idea of, you know, hacking and realizing how to make the computer You'd reduce stuff that it's not supposed to do. Maybe it's you know, because I was a teenager, maybe because I like to understand how things work. And that's the way my brain works. But I really started learning about low level hacking stuff from you know, a couple of decades ago shellcode, buffer overflows, that sort of stuff. And at some point, I realized that I want to try the real thing, not just have old capture the flags that were online back then. But I was also a coward. I didn't want to get caught. I didn't want to have the police come over and say, Hey, what are you doing? And then I did something, which is always funny to me in retrospect, which is I realized that I'm an Israeli. And so which country? Can I you know, try and find servers online that I can play around with and not do anything harmful, but I want to play around, and I need to find a country that I know that there's no way anyone is ever going to extradite me over there. Like what to do? Oh, I know, I ran and long story short, I actually got like root access over a bunch of Iranian health ministry, routers and stuff like that. And I was like, alright, what should I do just search for golf.ir, or whatever, you know, means that it's the Iranian government. And that's what I did. I didn't do any, anything harmful, but it was fun for me to actually try it out. And then things got interesting, because in Israel at the age of 18, you enlisted the army. And I knew that I don't want to become, you know, some infantry soldier, and I don't want to spend three years sitting in a tank. I wanted to keep on coding, I want to do stuff that's related to computers. But I knew no one. I mean, at the point where I was 18, I don't think I had anyone I knew physically, who also knew how to cope. I knew a few people online, you know, from IRC channels. But in my town, I didn't know anyone, I just was learning on all by myself and finding people to communicate with online. And that means that didn't know even what should I be aiming for in the army? How should I try and get there. And coming from a smaller city, there's no like, a lot of effort from the army in my school to find people who knew how to code good. And that's cool stuff like that. Which happens, for example, in Tel Aviv. Also, I did a bunch of research. And I realized that there are a few programs that I can actually apply for I sent in an email and a drive to get there. And I actually had to elbow my way in to get some interviews. And once I got there, I remember that I had to sit through this an interview where you get your security clearance. And like, one of the first question is, have you ever hacked into computers? And I'm like, Oh, my God, I'm never gonna code in the army. And then I told her exactly everything I just told you, you know, Iranian government, whatever. And she's just she starts laughing. And she's like, You do realize that half of the people we get here say that they have done something. So, you know, we expect that they just have a form already made that they just hand over to you were you commit to not do it again, like Sure. All right. That's I felt like I just gotta get out of jail free card. So I just signed it. And I passed that flying cars and long story short, I was enlisted to the IDF two unit at 200, where I spent four years coding and finally working face to face with other coders, which was really to this day, it was an amazing moment, for me sitting in a room with 40 other people, my age seeing them and realizing that they like coding as well. And I can talk computers to them. I was like, top of the wall. It was amazing for me,
Tim Bourguignon 8:45
I believe so do all the same kind of background that you had me started coding very early, and being passionate about this since a very early age, etc, etc. Well, I
Aviv Ben-Yosef 8:57
was and some, you know, special sub unit within unit 82 8200 Because it's a really big unit. And even within that I had a special sort of route into the unit that's called a pissy kid. You know, a kid that's doing stuff with the PC all day long. You computer kids, and the only like three of those a year. Those are children who learn how to code completely by themselves to a relatedly. Nice level. I wouldn't say that I was professional. I wasn't by any means. But I did know how to use code. I didn't know how to do networking stuff that weren't as easy or you know, way back and the rest 30 something. Some of them learned computer science in high school. Some of them knew a bit more than just what you learned in high school. But pretty much all of them were into this, which is what I found amazing and the other two PC kids that I was working with that and otherwise just you know, like finding a kindred Spirit, someone who actually for the first time it was my age and could tell me stuff like, oh, I read that book. And I too did that stuff or that sort of stuff and was really, I was ecstatic.
Tim Bourguignon 10:13
I believe so already. So maybe a question and feel free to tell me if you cannot answer that. How did the IDF then find out the notch PC kids, the people who didn't have so much experience with computers, and realize those are exactly the minds we need? Stay with us. We'll be right back.
Tim Bourguignon 10:34
Hello imposters. If you work in tech or want to work in tech or are tech curious in any way you'll want to listen to this. We've launched a community of professionals who come together to share information and advice about jobs, roles, careers, and the journeys we all take throughout our lives as the designers, builders, fixers investigators, explainers and protectors of the world's technology. We call it the impostor syndrome network. And all are welcome. So find the impostor syndrome network, podcast, wherever you listen to find podcasts, and look for the isn community on your favorite social platform, hashtag imposter network.
Aviv Ben-Yosef 11:16
I would say first of all you have you go through a lot of interviews, basically, most people here in Israel, once they turned 17, go and get a bunch of tests. Well, they do like, you know, I wouldn't say IQ tests, but something that's like that. And from there on, you get funneled into different sorts of stuff, like go to the Air Force, go to the infantry, whatever. And for most of the bigger cities, they actually have, like direct connections with the high school where they just take the top ranks of people who learned computer science who learned math who did good, you know, judging by their grades, and then those are funneled into a long, sort of interviewing process. Three, four or five full days, we do a bunch of tests, face to face interviews, such a metric kinds of tests, all sorts of stuff. And then they decide should you go to, for example, unit 8200. And where exactly within that unit, so it's a lot of that. And those people are the people that I was with, for example, were people who stopped her first CS degree in a university when they were 16 years old. And you know, that's like, automatically, I believe there's some system that's like feeding them directly. To them. People in the computer units are like, alright, we want to see this kid and that kid, and we're going to talk to him, I was actually there's a, at least used to be a national computer science competition here in Israel. It's called Code guru. And I was like, top 10 in that two years, before enlisting, because it's only till the age of 18. To this day, I believe that it's only done, you know, as a facade to get people to do. Now, I was in the process of getting to every unit at 200, and another computer unit unit as well. And I get there. And as I'm working into it, in the second year, I see the two officers that are, you know, interviewing me for a unit 8200 and the other one, and I'm like, Oh, my god, is this like it? Are they just finding people that they need to that they want to get using this thing? And I never got the final answer, you know, a formal answer, at least, but I'm pretty sure that's the way it is. The formal answer is that people just do it because they care about it. And they like helping young children learn computer science. And then I'm like, Yeah, you get an extra benefit.
Tim Bourguignon 13:48
Okay, when when you were accepted into a 200, D, you have a chance to decide where inside of a shoe under Do you want to work in more low level networking signals, intelligence, coding, etc.
Aviv Ben-Yosef 14:01
Once I was I finished my course, which was around six months, you do get some sort of a say as to which of the current open positions you want to go. We don't you can't really decide, you know, whatever you want, because there are other factors here. But you can try and direct yourself somewhere I never, I ended up reaching to a place that was I felt like doing very high level engineering, where I could actually learn from people who were professionals at being computer engineers, software engineers, and I really wanted that. Working on big systems writing big frameworks. As someone who was always enamored with code, I want to see how things are done at scale. And it was also a very fulfilling role. I kind of go into details actually about what we were actually doing. But it was something that I felt like had a real impact on the safety of Israeli citizens, I ended up serving through a war and a couple of, you know, interesting times, let's say, and having the ability of doing something that you can see has, you know, stopped a terror attack or has provided crucial intelligence about worldwide events. I felt like this is where I should be.
Tim Bourguignon 15:21
Yeah, there's a sense of purpose there. That's fine. That's very good. So you landed pretty much where you want it to be? Yeah. That's pretty cool. So why did you at some point decide to leave? How long is the service in Israel?
Aviv Ben-Yosef 15:35
The compulsory service, when I wasn't listed was three years for men. And I signed up even before that, to get to 8200. You commit for an extra 18 months? Okay, I did just shy of that, because we went into another war somewhere around the time, and then the army had to do a bunch of budget cuts. And I had the opportunity, they basically asked us if we want to leave, and I'm like, Yeah, sure, I want to leave at that point, I want to leave because I've, first of all, I felt like I had done a bunch. And I also really wanted to move to a way of life where I can support my wife, that point we're engaged in, I want to marry her, I wanted to us to be able to live on our own place not live with our parents, which you really cannot with a soldier a salary here. So I just decided to leave. And I would say that it is still when it comes to purpose, it's probably the most challenging and fun and fulfilling job I ever had. And the way it works here is that you have like reserves, we actually go back and work with our old sub unit for like, it depends can be a couple of days a year can be I've had like a year where I was coding for them for almost a month, a few years after I finished my service, but you do get some sort of a connection. And nowadays, it's mostly for me coming over to that course that I really enjoyed, and teaching them all sorts of stuff.
Tim Bourguignon 17:11
Okay, so that's a pretty high investment for the companies when they have ex soldiers in their ranks. So again, you might be cold for up to a month.
Aviv Ben-Yosef 17:21
Yeah, actually, for you know, computer units, it's less of an issue, because most of the time, if you're brought on, it's like for a few days at most. But infantry, they actually go through another two weeks, three weeks of actual training. So they are still fit to serve in case there's, you know, an emergency and they need to enlist the reserves. So who Yeah, that can be problematic. And that's why the laws here in Israel, actually say that you cannot be fired because you had to go and serve in the resume stuff like that.
Tim Bourguignon 17:52
Yeah, obviously. I don't know. How did you did you find your first job after this time? Yomi?
Aviv Ben-Yosef 18:01
Well, I knew that I was going to finish my service in like a month or two. And then I just started talking to companies, I had a bunch of friends who you know, enlisted with me. And so we were all looking for jobs together. And we were all interviewing at pretty much the same companies. I had this big spreadsheet with like, I don't know, 20 companies I was going to most of them were word of mouth, kind of like the someone who served with me a few years prior already there. They heard that I'm on the look. And they just connected me with a jar and made sure that I'd come there for an interview. And after talking to a bunch of companies, a bunch of them were very interesting startups. I decided to go to IBM to a to a center that was actually a startup a couple of months prior, they were just acquired. They were called XIV doing storage. And I had a bunch of friends over there who told me you know, this is exciting. This is fun. It doesn't feel like IBM. So you know, hop on board. And I just went there, and I had a bunch of Friendster. And when it comes to the social part of it, I had a lot of fun. The pay was good between counts to purpose. It was like the complete opposite. I was doing stuff. Imagine working on stored systems where I never saw a client. I never even talked directly to a client. I might have seen a few secondhand email threads that somewhere dip down had you know a sentence authored by a real human being using what I was working on. But it really felt like I was just there for the tech and at the time, I was completely focused on becoming a better engineer and I was so into clean code and agile and I was making things around me better and making engineers around me better. And you know, I just started using Twitter. So I ended up talking a bunch with Kent Beck and Uncle Bob and I ended up having dinner with Uncle Bob when he was in Israel and that sort of stuff. So I had a bunch of fun when it comes to my professional life becoming a better engineer, between keen to actually achieving something we all have that code I was writing, I don't know if anyone ever even used it.
Tim Bourguignon 20:18
But, yes, that's the way it is. I'd like to go back to something you said that you were applying at the same time was a bunch of other ex or future ex soldiers. How did you differentiate yourself from them? In those interviews,
Aviv Ben-Yosef 20:30
I don't want to sound like I'm, you know, humble bragging. But frankly, that edge I had when I was enlisted, being one of three that year, who already knew a bunch about coding, who knew a lot about how things work, I II retained that same kind of edge throughout my four years of service, because I really wanted to learn more and more I read every single book, we had an hour library over there, in all the physical books that we had to order from abroad, Amazon wasn't that easy to use back then. And I just, I think that I had a passion that not a lot around me had even the really good people around me. And that translated to that when I was sitting in those interviews, I just, I could devour whatever they had to, you know, for my way, when it came to technical questions, we can to actual passion, seeing that someone cares about stuff. If the company was doing something interesting, then they clearly saw it, I ended up you know, having like, seven or eight offers at that point, I just needed to decide where I wanted to go. But I also can see that the market back then wasn't that different from the market nowadays. And I don't think that anyone coming from maybe 200, back then and probably now as well has a problem finding a job here in Israel. It's just a matter of what do you want and finding the job that actually is a good fit for you?
Tim Bourguignon 21:58
Yeah, it's, I wouldn't imagine that many of you would have a problem finding a job, it's just finding the job, the one you want the one that is going to fulfill your autonomy, mastery, purpose, belonging, and really make you happy as a person then continue on this on this journey. So
Aviv Ben-Yosef 22:18
for me, it was amazing. And I believe that my first paycheck and IBM was, I don't know, like six times what I was making as a soldier. So you can, it's not that I was making that a lot. And IBI was just that I was making really, you know, minimum wage in the army. So I was so happy about that. And it was like, you know, that first paycheck was more than both paychecks of my parents, you know, put together. And that really enabled me to just go off on my own and start living the life I wanted with my wife.
Tim Bourguignon 22:55
Yeah, at some point, you have to put them on the scale and say, Okay, I'm throwing this purpose away for that money. So I'm being bought for that. At which point did you decide, okay, enough is enough. I need to leave IBM.
Aviv Ben-Yosef 23:09
Yeah. So I thought that I was going to, you know, lay low and IBM for like, two or three years, I started my, my degree along my last year in the army and Israeli Open University. So I was doing computer science, but I never really set foot in a classroom, I just got the books, I would read them, I would do the homework and just come in to do the tests in the exams, which is great for me as someone who is an autodidact, and really likes learning on their own. And I thought, Alright, I'll just continue sitting in IBM and just do the degree for the next two, three years, and then I'll find whatever. But that's not the way it turned out less than a year into it, like 11 months, a friend and one of those PC kids from my first days in the army, reached out to me and said, Hey, I'm starting a new startup, I want you to be the first employee, would you join me? And at that point, I just, you know, I considered what I was doing and the fulfillment there was not getting an IBM the idea of working with similarly minded people on something that's exciting, and I just made the switch.
Tim Bourguignon 24:28
Okay. It was a hard decision to me well, but when it comes
Aviv Ben-Yosef 24:31
to the paid was a hard decision, because, you know, I was first employee and a startup and moving from IBM over there. I don't know it was the pay cut was around. I'm guessing almost 50%. But once I realized that, you know, just talking to him, I realized that I wasn't having a feeling of advancement in actually, you know, achieving something in the real world. No one cares. I could have you know, logged in To get deleted all my code, and no one would have known an IBM, or at least that's how I felt, I realized that the money isn't worth it. And that's when I made the switch and everything was easy.
Tim Bourguignon 25:11
Okay, how's it to be the first employee in a startup?
Aviv Ben-Yosef 25:15
Well, that was I think that was the best school for me. I mean, when I joined the IDF, I learned how to think like a software engineer. Before that I knew how to code, right, I could get things done a bunch of spaghetti code, but I could get code to do what I wanted to do in the IDF, and 80 to 100, I learned how to work as a software engineer. When I went there, I actually got the tools to view things from a product and business perspective, being the first employee there, I would just, you know, sit with the founders, sit with a designer, be there and do user interviews. And that for me gave me when it comes to having a holistic understanding of how the business should work, what do you want to get why we're doing stuff deciding about strategy, that was very fulfilling. And also, when it comes to actual software development, the first few employees who joined around the time I joined, were all very bright. And we all learn how to do stuff that we didn't know how to do before, rapidly at a high level, I had people to discuss, you know, whatever, I don't know design pattern we should be using over here and have all of that silver linings sort of stuff, where we sat down and talked about the right name for this class. But also, we all had a shared sense of urgency that made it so we didn't just do navel gazing all day long. And we, after we spent an hour doing that, we just go straight into the impact, what do we want to achieve this week, and for me, that balance was like, I found the sweet spot to maximize my learning at that sort of point in time.
Tim Bourguignon 27:03
Okay, just thinking about the naming conventions and finding the perfect names. I remember something like 15 years ago, going for lunch with my teammates, and it was always the same discussion. So we have this new module, we have this new class, how can we name it, we need to find a joke a pun in there, it has to be finding the whole lunchtime. The right naming
Aviv Ben-Yosef 27:26
anything, eventually ends up being a manager or a handler, right. But I would also make sure that pretty much every company we can will reach the point where it's like about all the companies I've worked with, but every company I've worked with probably has a server where your component or system that's named after a character from The Lord of the Rings, or The Princess Bride, I would you know, you see the CEO come in and ask hey, why is Fezzik down and stuff like that? And I knew that, you know, mission accomplished. Yeah,
Tim Bourguignon 27:56
I remember fondly our time with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Not sure if that's the right acronym in French, it was a bit different. But trying to find names that match this pattern. Again, and again. Oh, boy, that that throws me along. At some point during this employment, US switched from pure tech to more leadership. How did that one transition happen?
Aviv Ben-Yosef 28:24
Well, you know, being a first employee, and we were a flat company, leadership over there, and that startup meant just taking responsibility. We were working on a new big feature, I would get the responsibility to do it. I don't even recall if I was told what we just talked about. I'm like, Yeah, I can leave this. And then I would work with an engineer to for a period of three, four or five months working on a big thing. And, you know, you just had the responsibility of making sure those people were doing what they needed to do coordinating with product coordinating with the designer with the founders to make sure that we were headed where they wanted us to be headed in the right time. And that was a very kind of natural, seamless transition. No one ever because we didn't have titles, no one ever even treated it like anything special was happening. So it just you know, you just did what you had to do.
Tim Bourguignon 29:23
Okay, and did you mention back then that could become your future as a consultant as a tech executive consultant? What
Aviv Ben-Yosef 29:32
I would say that I had this sort of experience of leading projects, leading people through months long adventures. I also had that in the IDF. But I always thought, you know, I really like the hands on stuff. I don't want to get to a point where I'm doing management and leadership stuff all day long. And I wanted to do a bunch of one on ones I was really at a stage where I just wanted to be the best in You're near the world can we'll ever see. So I didn't think about that. Even at the point where I left the startup and started being a freelancer, I still didn't aim to do any higher level stuff.
Tim Bourguignon 30:13
Whew, that's interesting. So what what changed? Or how did you start your freelancing career and how to end up being what you're known nowadays for?
Aviv Ben-Yosef 30:22
Alright, so you might be noticing a motivator, I had a friend from the IDF, from way back, reach out to me and say, I want to start something, and I really want to work with you would you want to do it with me. And that's right around the time, my wife was first pregnant and was like, Alright, if I'm ever gonna be independent, I'm guessing now is the right time to do it. Before I had this child, you know, my logic, that's the way it works. And was like, Alright, that sounds interesting. And we both were like, maybe we're gonna start something, I really didn't want to do their usual venture backed startup thing, because I didn't want to have employees, I didn't want to be frosted into this necessity of hiring people and managing a bunch of people, I want to stay close to the code. And it was, you know, a long story. But basically, we said, Alright, let's become freelancers, we'll work for clients, like two days a week to, you know, make ends meet. And the rest of the time, we'll just iterate on our own things. And we pretty easily found clients that paid for like two days a week, paid pretty much what I used to make full time before. And from that point, we started a bunch of stuff, we created a few SAS solutions, that none of them really were successful. But we saw that this freelancing thing was really successful, you know, it was lucrative, but also, we got a bunch of self fulfillment from helping these startups around us in Israel become way better, because we were really good at what we were doing. And we were just like this, you know, a booster shot for these organizations, they would drop us in, we would code for them for like four or 5678 months, and then move along to the next one. And that was very fulfilling. So at some point, we just decided to just do this full time. And we work with a bunch of very good companies. And some of them nowadays, some were acquired, some of them nowadays are unicorns. And it's just, it's been like, a hell of a ride, working with them, doing stuff with them. And like, about four years into this, I started noticing that we had a lot of, you know, lunches with the co founders. And they would tell us things that they probably wouldn't be as comfortable to share with their employees. And also, we noticed that we had, like, insights about the way things were happening in their teams. Because you know, after you work with dozens of companies just start noticing patterns. And we were like, Hey, you probably should not be doing this. And I'm not sure if this is the right way to manage your organization and that sort of stuff. And so picking up on the fact that these insights were very valuable for those clients, even though they were paying me for my hourly coding. And that's just around the point that my partner decided he wanted to go the regular startup route. And he went off to start a new company, which they became a client of mine. And I decided that I want to transition into trying to do some sort of consulting and advisory along with my regular coding, because I, you know, to this day, I really love coding. So I just started taking on extra sort of roles. Like one company, I was a team lead three days a week managing Rena team lead, that was the first time I had a title of team lead, where I managed our team for a period of like seven or eight months. And we created an amazing project using programming language and frameworks. They didn't even know how to teach them as we were doing it. And that was a major success. And that really, sort of, you know, that's where things started to click for me, like, oh, I can really help. Not just making the keyboard go clickety clack really fast, I can help others become even better. And that led me along the TAF where over the course of a few years, I've now transitioned completely from coding I'm my coding nowadays is only what I do for fun. And then professionally, I transition to helping out you know, it moved from being a team lead to being a director managing three teams globally, that sort of stuff. And now I am mainly most of my time advising VPS CTO CEOs about how should they make their r&d team, the best r&d team in the world. So that's, it's been a hell of a ride. But right now I feel like I am slowly working on maximizing the impact I'm having on companies from being this As you know, very fast coder, to making a team better and making a group that are making the whole r&d organization better. And that's sorry. And that's the way I am slowly making my dent on the tech industry,
Tim Bourguignon 35:17
can you measure this impact you're having? Well,
Aviv Ben-Yosef 35:22
I have a bunch of like success stories, because measuring impact on engineers is really hard. And so first of all, I go for the testimonials, which I collect, I have a few on my website, which I use, but I actually have a journal where I paste all the nice messages and emails and slack messages I get where, you know, the CEO suddenly says, I wouldn't have believed that this is possible in two months, that sort of stuff, I love collecting those. And those for me are like my energy tank whenever I need, you know, an energy boost. And I can say that quantitatively, sometimes I can look at a team and we see that they moved from, let's say, doing, you know, X amount of story points a sprint to doing 20 30% Better. But most of the time nowadays, I think that my real edge is not working on making them more productive, making them code a bit faster, but about honing their impact. Because I tend to work with companies that are really good. The engineers don't need me to tell them how to use their tools. They know how to do that amazingly well, I'm helping everyone around, I'm helping the VP of Engineering and the VP of Product sort of align better, so that what they end up doing is more effective. So I'm working towards better effectiveness as opposed to efficiency.
Tim Bourguignon 36:50
And isn't the only way there is, you focus on impact, you focus on purpose, and then the rest comes up with it.
Aviv Ben-Yosef 36:58
Yeah, you know, we say it as if it's something trivial. But I see that so many people don't really realize that we tend to be you know, down in the weeds. And we just focus on oh, maybe the CI system isn't as fast thing to work in that. Or maybe I always say that engineers, when you look at a sprint, and we finished his sprint, and we didn't get something done. We have a bunch of excuses. And we don't even think of them as excuses, right? No, that package ended up not being right, or I had a an outage and I had to take care of and we have a bunch of excuses. And you know, it's natural. That's the way software works. You have bugs, you have delays. But then when product gives you a feature, and they missed, you know, a single pixel in the edge case definition, you're like, oh, they don't know how to work, and they're not professional. And I think that kind of making the team sort of get this mindset, we're in this together, there's no product did this, I'm doing that there's no I'm the back end, I finished, the front end is being delayed, you know, we care about achieving a result. And the result is not code being deployed on the backend, once you realize that we are all, you know, aiming for the same thing. And we all want to get impact. Once you actually get that through the heads of the executives and the managers and the ICS. That's like a magical moment for me.
Tim Bourguignon 38:19
Do you think the the executives like to let go of this power they have of steering things, and just saying, this is the objective we need? Now go figure it out.
Aviv Ben-Yosef 38:29
I would say that some executives really like this, because they want to be high level, they want to think about the long term, they want to do the strategy. And just you know, you go off and do the details. But like probably 60 70% of them, even those who want it, and those who enjoy having the connection, have a fear. It's not that your team cannot do it. It's that we feel letting go, you know, when you have a toddler, and for the first time they're trying to make their first steps. The instinct for many parents is to grab them so they don't fall. But if you never let them fall, they're not going to learn how to walk by themselves. And that's something that I end up repeating like a broken record, we have to let them do stuff, we have to let them try things. And once they see that the team can do stuff. That's when pretty much everyone starts letting go because they realize that you know it's safe, you have to have that inner intrinsic feeling of safety and trust to be able to let go. That's also how you stop micromanaging stuff. And I use the story all the time to say, you know, I was 18 years old when I got responsibility for critical intelligence systems. Like if I had a bug, we would miss out on an alert saying that, you know, something bad might be happening. And I just got that. And I was in charge of like, I don't know, four of those systems. When I was six months into my service. As you know, it was my first job. I was 18 years old. They didn't have a degree. And they just let me do it. And I wasn't unique. That's everyone around us. If you think about the way the army works, most people there for like three years, and you do like two different jobs within that those two years, you end up being in charge of stuff for like two years, and then you rotate and a new guy or a new girl come in, and they take take charge. So you end up always having people who have a median age within the role of like a year. And, you know, still Israel exists still we get the intelligence done. Is it because we're that smart? No, it's because we get commanders who have to let go, who have to enable this autonomy, because otherwise, they won't be able to finish a single day. And once you realize that's the way things have to happen, then you get this, I call it an experienced pressure cooker, we all learn to be a lot more senior, at least when it comes to the mindset. We don't, it doesn't mean that we learn everything there is to know about the tools and the code that we need to create. But it does mean that we have this senior mentality, and you get this extra responsibility and professionality to your way of doing things. And I think that makes a big difference. And then I'm like, if I could do it when I was 18 years old, I believe your highly prayed, you know, top of their class engineers can do this nowadays, if you just give them the right direction, and help them along the way. That's it.
Tim Bourguignon 41:33
Amen to that in your fun often advice. Today, I want to ask you for an exercise, let's imagine the following scenario in the in the startup, or in a small company, maybe not too wide. So they can have an impact and can have an outreach all the way toward management and all to do all the top management and dominance. And they're not sure if if they are all aligned. Maybe they are maybe they're not not necessarily here is the easier one and one of exercise you would suggest to test this a little bit and see, are we
Aviv Ben-Yosef 42:02
oh, I would say that. First of all, it's not easy. But what I usually do when I start working with a new client, I started by asking them, you know, what's the one year you know, 12 month vision, what do we want to achieve at this period. And happily, I can say that most people have a vision to report. So give me a blank stare. And then I know I have a different problem to solve. But once they give me this vision, I actually give them an exercise and tell them alright, I want you to talk to four random people in your organization, your managers ICs, ask them the same question. And you know, paste it in the slack. And let's talk about it in our next discussion. And virtually no single company has all four people alone. And that's because we tend to think that what we have in our heads is some way you know, I don't know how you know, we have a Dropbox of the mind, we expect people to be synchronized, and they're not. And you have to repeat stuff engineers, you know, you are born as an engineer with the saying of don't repeat yourself, don't repeat yourself. Leadership as repeat yourself all the long because that's the only way to make things stick. So that's a transition that I always say I have to help my clients with moving when you are a tech executive, the tech part they have it nailed down. They're amazing. The executive part, the leadership part is where you have to break down old stuff that used to work for you as an engineer and realize that you need to be changing.
Tim Bourguignon 43:23
You said on your podcast as a leader when you start getting bored of hearing yourself repeating things. It's when it starts ticking.
Aviv Ben-Yosef 43:32
I don't recall. But I want to hope I did say that.
Tim Bourguignon 43:36
Let's assume it was pretty much all this where would be the best place to find you online and start a discussion and connect and continue maybe this discussion with you?
Aviv Ben-Yosef 43:44
Well, first of all, I'm always on Twitter if anyone wants to chat. And you can find my website of venues f.com where you can see my regular weekly articles, my podcast and check out a copy a sample chapter copy of my book, The Tech executive operating system,
Tim Bourguignon 43:59
awesome. Anything on your plate that you want to plug in before we call it today.
Aviv Ben-Yosef 44:04
Nothing specific. I always enjoy talking to people. So if you end up listening to a podcast episode, subscribing to my newsletter, and you have ideas, thoughts, comments about what I'm talking about, and what we just talked about here, feel free to shoot me an email. I'd love to chat.
Tim Bourguignon 44:19
Indeed, I did. Just to give you an idea I did with that with a different email address, and then we realized we had been talking before. Yes, please do that. Awesome. Thank you very much. Thank you for having me. And this has been another episode of DEV journey, and we'll see each other next week. Bye bye. Thanks a lot for tuning in. I hope you have enjoyed this week's episode. If you like the show, please share rate and review. It helps more listeners discover their stories. You can find the links to all the platforms to show appears on on our website, Dev journey dot info slash Subscribe. Creating the show every week takes a lot of time, energy, and, of course money. Would you please help me? continue bringing out those inspiring stories every week by pledging a small monthly donation, you'll find our patreon link at Dev journey dot info slash donate. And finally, don't hesitate to reach out and tell me how this week story is shaping your future. You can find me on Twitter at @timothep ti m o th e p or per email info at Dev journey dot info talk to you soon.