#61 Elissa Shevinsky felt into Security
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Tim Bourguignon 0:06 Hello and welcome to developer's journey. The podcast shining a light on developers lives from all over the world. My name is Tim Bourguignon, and today I receive Alisa chevensky. Elissa is the CEO at faster than light where she is building superfast tools for static analysis testing. She previously helped launch geek corpse everyday health and brave, but you might also know at least from a work promoting best practices in cyber security. And I'm sure we're going to hear all about this today, Alisa, welcome to dev journey.
Elissa Shevinsky 0:44 Thanks for having me on the show.
Tim Bourguignon 0:45 Let's go right in Where did your journey into software development start in the first place?
Elissa Shevinsky 0:52 It really started in college with comm sigh 105, led by Professor Tom Murtaugh, I was just a freshman still in college. And I'd come out of a Science High School. So I wasn't really all that interested in science. And I took this class because it just seemed like an easy way to fulfill my science and tech requirements. But it actually ended up being like really, really impactful for me for a few reasons. The first I learned how to make websites, I got started coding, but also Professor mirto was really warm. And it was a very gender diverse experience at the time. I remember, I just my college memories are of so many women, programmers, and of the calm side apartment being just like really warm and fun and cool. And so that got me started with this idea that programming was something that was available to me something that was accessible to me, I didn't actually dive in in a really big way until a few years later when I was working on the tech team at everyday health. But I think that initial experience being just like really warm and positive ended up being a big reason why I got into tech,
Tim Bourguignon 2:14 but you didn't plan to go into computer sciences from the get go.
Elissa Shevinsky 2:19 Oh, no, definitely not. I was like, actively and extremely disinterested. I was a political science major. When I was really young. I had all these, like burning questions, I was really curious to figure out how we could better live in society. I just, I was really like, troubled by not knowing like what we were doing on this world and how we could live together better. I was on this like very intense, like spiritual cultural quest. And I wasn't as interested in building things because I had these, you know, questions that I had to answer you're like, you know, go to India Eat, Pray Love type stuff. Um, and I actually became a yoga teacher and an environmental activist right out of college like that. So you can kind of picture right, like very, very crunchy. But I ended up back in Williams town just to be near and live with my friends while I was of course, you know, full time yoga teacher, and I wasn't making any money. So I ended up getting a job at everyday health, just to, you know, like, pay the rent and start being a little more of a grown up. And it turned out I just I loved it. I didn't expect to sometimes you find yourself in situations that you don't plan to be in and they just really suit you and everything jives and I I was hired directly by the founders. And I set up a lot of their customer service infrastructure, and just a lot of like the business stuff at this company that ended up going public like 10 years later. So that work ended up being really, in retrospect, like this tremendous experience. And I got promoted headquarters to the tech team. And that was the first time that I was making software. And just I loved it. I loved the teamwork of it. I loved the pace that it was very fast pace, I loved making things that people were using. And I tried to recapture that feeling for years afterwards, and I didn't find it anywhere but in software. And that ended up being the motivation for me to start my own software companies was because I wanted to get to that teamwork experience of like everyone on a deadline trying to ship something and working together and everyone has their own part but like it's also all synced up and to this day. That's the one of my favorite things in the whole world. They just I just love making software.
Tim Bourguignon 4:49 That sounds like a lot of stuff. Almost.
Elissa Shevinsky 4:51 Yeah, it is actually I think like tech is this love story to me, and I think I see a lot of times when people join a company and it doesn't work out or they launch a company and it doesn't work out. And then they're sad afterwards. I think the best analogy is heartbreak. You know, I think I, I really do feel like I'm in this love affair with technology and with Silicon Valley, and there's ups and there's downs, and it's, it's a lot like falling in love, where you, you know, you get heartbroken, and you feel like, you're never gonna love anyone else again, or you feel like, you're gonna be alone forever, and you get, you can be very depressed. And I think that's a universal experience, almost universal experience. But you always, you know, get back to it like you don't stay alone forever, you do fall in love again. And I think it's the same thing with projects and the technology, like, there are these moments where so many of us who love tech, so much feel like, we're just so frustrated, there's something that's gone wrong, and it just feels just like too many feelings. Um, but you always keep going. And that ends up being translated to grit. But really, I think of it as, like, with the analogy of a love story.
Tim Bourguignon 6:10 Is there a risk of being being in love if we continue this metaphor in love with it for itself for its own sake, and not for its its ability to build stuff and build products that people actually want?
Elissa Shevinsky 6:25 Oh, yeah, that's for sure risk, people make things or they go into technology, certainly for the wrong reasons, which I guess is okay. For me, personally, I just always want to make sure that I'm focused on the right things, leading this company that I'm leading. And so that translates in a very specific way to wanting to make sure that I stay focused on things like revenue on things like users, as opposed to maybe just falling in love with the process of building or, like, what's the shiniest newest technology, you know, you always have to stay focused on what actually is going to drive things forward. And the same thing to with people fall in love with, you know, the idea of maybe autonomous cars, which is very cool, or, you know, these new technologies, but then we have to think through the implications, we have to think through the ethics of it, we've definitely gotten into a lot of trouble. The technology industry by making things without thinking things through many steps ahead. I think that's one reason why I'm in security, because, like, we are making things more secure, there's very little possibility of creating societal harm with what we're doing. You know, there's a lot of different projects that people work on, and they just don't know the implications. Whereas if we do our jobs, and we do it well, like, we're going to protect a lot of things. And I feel really good about that.
Tim Bourguignon 7:47 How did you get into security?
Elissa Shevinsky 7:50 Oh, goodness, I really fell into it. And I think a lot of my history has been kind of stumbling into something wonderful. And then eventually recognizing it, and deciding to appreciate it and put in the work. I, I ended up meeting Jeanne Hoffman through my lawyer, and Jean was really connected in the security industry. And he introduced me to people, and they mentored me. And so like, the TLDR was just like, I got I became, I became close to people in the security industry, and they mentored me. And so the lesson for new people is that your mentors will end up like pulling you along. If it's anything close to the right, fit. Security is a good fit. For me, it's a good fit for my time permits, I really care about it, I care about the idea of making things more secure. I think companies have an ethical obligation to protect their users data. Security is a really challenging industry. Like it's really difficult. The problems are really hard and important and serious. And I love all of that. And so just having mentors wouldn't have worked if it wasn't a fit for me. I mean, this, there's a lot more that I could talk about. But I think in terms of lessons that apply to other people. Once I got in the industry, I just I had a lot of credibility really quickly, partly because of some of the decisions I've made. I've been building antenna encrypted software. And I guess it's a little bit more of a story to go into there. But once I got in the industry, and I had a little bit of credibility, I realized that just that it was a good space for me. Yeah, it's the how I got into security and how I've leveled up in it is it's hard to extend that to other developers, because security is such its own niche. It's such its own unique culture. What I would say to people who are starting out is that if you think you might like security, it's a great space to be in because it's high impact and it's really lucrative. But I would look at the culture of any like subcategory of tech, and see if you're a cultural fit for it. Like the culture of security is really weird. Because you have all these military people, and you have all these like ex cons, like it's really a unique culture, and it's not for everyone. And so before I would go and decide to specialize within technology, I would go to some of the conferences and meetups and be like, okay, like, are these my people?
Tim Bourguignon 10:27 I would like to to come back to something you said. He said he had burning questions and wanting to make the world a better place. Is this also part of why you landed into security? Or it's really what you just said this, this stumbling upon it and just being for accident, almost attracted to it.
Elissa Shevinsky 10:43 I think they go together. Because when I reevaluate my life, and I look and I say, hey, am I working on things that matter? First of all, like that questioning is part of that same drive, to think about how we relate to each other, and how to make things better. And I look at my work and security. And I say, like, for me and my values, this really is a way to make things better, like security really, really matters. And so it is linked. In fact, I've started to give a talk series on the ethics of shipping secure software, like I believe that companies really have an obligation to protect their users. And then it goes far beyond the terms of service that people sign, which really is just a legal document. But beyond the legal terms of service, there's this implicit understanding, you know, we we hand over our data to companies with, with the expectation that they're going to go beyond the terms of service and take care of it and do the right thing.
Tim Bourguignon 11:40 How much of this responsibility is on the shoulders of the developers?
Elissa Shevinsky 11:46 You know, that is such a juicy question. And when I give this talk, I open up the floor. And I'm very interested in what the developers in the room have to say. Because we can all raise our hands and agree, that company should be doing better. That's a very easy thing for all of us to say, and it's it's not so controversial. Everyone, pretty much everyone agrees, even people who leave companies like me. But what is the responsibility of the developers? Well, that's not obvious, you know, maybe it's not the developer's responsibility to do security, maybe they can say the QA is in charge of that, or pen testers are in charge of that. And so my framing is that security right now, is a skill is a way that developers can level up that they can take that responsibility on, they can choose it, I'm not saying developers necessarily are obligated in security, my framing is like, Hey, this is a cool thing that you can learn. So you're shipping better software. So you're leveling up. So you're leveling up like for yourself for your own growth. And also, you know, for your career for whatever reasons, that actually relates to what we're building. Now, we've made this tool at faster than light. And it is a very fast, easy to use static analysis tool. And we're doing things for enterprises. But our our more public offering is for individual developers, including very junior developers to start testing their code, maybe for the first time, in a security sense, you mean? Yes. So there's all kinds of testing, I got my start many years ago as a QA analyst. Doing that type of testing. Static Analysis is a way to test your code, primarily for security vulnerabilities. Now, static analysis will also mention things like if there are formatting errors, so static analysis will bring up other things that developers may view as noise. But at least to me, I think the most interesting use of static analysis is to discover if there's something in your code that could create a security problem.
Tim Bourguignon 13:53 And this is targeted at the developers themselves, not not a whole project spectrum or something like this.
Elissa Shevinsky 13:59 Yeah, when we actually first started it, it was intended for people like us, I'd been doing consulting, getting paid way too much money to run static analysis for companies, because it takes a lot of time to configure the tools and takes a certain expertise to analyze the results. And I thought, you know, it would be a lot easier if they're just some some faster way to do it. And so what we do is we integrate with existing open source tools, but save you the configuration and setup time. So all you do is upload your code through our website, and then we run the scan, and then we give you a PDF with the results. And eventually we're going to have a lot more resources for developers to be able to level up and understand how to read the static analysis output and how to make the fixes. And so that that tool is really for an individual developer. I mean, you could use it inside companies, but it was made thinking of Like an individual developer wants to test their code?
Tim Bourguignon 15:03 And don't you have some some legal problems with uploading your code on your platform?
Elissa Shevinsky 15:10 Oh, no, there aren't really any legal issues, people upload code that they own to us. Um, and then, you know, it's like uploading to any third party cloud.
Tim Bourguignon 15:22 I've been coaching in way too many German companies lately. And this would be very good.
Elissa Shevinsky 15:31 Yeah, so um, there's, there's certainly different things in Germany, Germany has some very cool privacy laws. For what it's worth, like, we're building this as privacy people, we're probably taking more privacy precautions than we would necessarily have to. But there's a big overlap between being a security person and being a privacy person in general,
Tim Bourguignon 15:51 I would like to switch gears a little bit. Sure. You start with you first, your first job at everyday health? What are you wearing? I as I understood, it's in the in the, not the first employees, but that in the very low number of employees,
Elissa Shevinsky 16:06 actually, since this podcast is really about a person's whole journey, I will tell you my very first job, I was about 12 or 13 years old, young, I was so young, and I don't know what how this came to be. What was the logic of it? The third a friend of the family, I ended up working for this person who had just gotten out of white collar prison at his very upscale used car dealership. So the same guy ended up in like partnerships, like Jay Z, and you know, like, like, really, really high end. So like, you know, my family was like really leveraging their network to get this for me out. But like it just come back from white collar prison. And I look back, and I, because I've had so many friends in and out of prison, through being part of the security industry. And I always just took that as kind of normal. I was like, why, like, that's not necessarily so normal. But I look back to my first job, like my first job, I was, like working for someone who, you know, had just gone to jail. And I was a secretary there, the whole thing is just like, what, why was I doing that at 12 years old, and the other secretaries were like, 30 year old buried ladies, like I was doing the same job as them. And none of it makes sense, in retrospect, but that was my first job. My first job was helping used car salesmen be more efficient.
Tim Bourguignon 17:37 That's it live in Italy makes up for a good story, I would say.
Elissa Shevinsky 17:41 It's, it's not what do you expect? I think, you know, like, I'm sitting here of this, like, enterprise, like Dev Tools company. So it's a little bit buttoned up. And like, there's, you know, I don't talk about my politics as much as I used to on Twitter, and, but every now and then it's like, no, people can know, they, they can know a little bit about the hustle that it took for me to get here. And just the strange things that I've seen. My first startup job was geek core. I, I had jobs before that, you know, and they were like, teenager type jobs, you know, like you work a cashier, a cashier type job at a health food store. It's stuff like that. But my first, like, really cool startup job was 1999. And I was a research intern at geek core. And I helped them figure out some pieces of how to launch their program in Ghana. And then I went to Ghana that summer. And then geek car got acquired a few years later. So as part of this streak, where I just did a really good job of picking which companies to join, you know, figuring out, like, who, which founders and like, which companies had something really special. It can be hard to get that right. In some ways, I feel like that was just very fortunate. But in other ways. It was also good judgment, like I was able to figure out which people which companies were already on an upward trajectory.
Tim Bourguignon 19:15 So you mean, you were very mindful about choosing your next employer and really getting getting anything to strategy go away?
Elissa Shevinsky 19:23 Yeah, that's right. You know, even in college, I was, I didn't want to waste my time, I wanted to be part of something that was meaningful, and part of something that hopefully would last and something that would be a good experience for me. So get Corgi curves very, very cool. And then every day I'll help also was like a really just such an incredible experience. And there are things that I did in the meantime. So part of it was also trying things and if if it wasn't a fit, I didn't stay with it when I was young. And I think, you know, that's part of the process of being younger. figuring things out, like, you know, trying to be a yoga teacher and seeing is this my path and art. I tried to be a freelance journalist. And I think I could have been successful in either of those things. But I just I really fell in love with business. I, I don't know how to explain it. There's something about building a company and being part of a team. That's just really magic to me.
Tim Bourguignon 20:28 Can you expand on a bit more in this? How did you discover this this business side of yours? And how did you make your first step into there and then start in there,
Elissa Shevinsky 20:37 I joined the Kripalu center for yoga and wellness as a supervisor, that was one of my first jobs after college. And so that was part of that whole like crunchy granola phase. I wasn't particularly interested in being a manager, but that's just the job that I got, I was living in the Berkshires, there weren't a lot of things available. And it fit in with everything else. And I, I was in charge of like 30 people, like 21 years old 2122. And I was in charge of all of these people, and just about all of them were older than me. And it was a really big challenge. But I I loved it. I loved thinking about just how to create a good experience for the people who worked for me, that was a big motivational thing for me at that time. And after that, I said, Okay, like I really want to be a manager. And I didn't succeed in getting promoted at everyday health to management, which is its own thing. But I did end up launching my own company a few years later, and building a team around that. And then obviously, like, I built a lot of companies and led a lot of teams since then, that was the moment when I realized that it was something that I liked. And it was because I liked thinking about how to create a positive work environment. You can see that thread in a lot of places in my career, the book that I published, called lean out was like very much about work culture. And I think it's something that we think about and talk about a lot now here at faster than light, we're always thinking about, you know, what's the experience of being part of this company
Tim Bourguignon 22:19 was was creating a company always on your mind?
Elissa Shevinsky 22:21 Ah, you know, there have been moments where I thought about other things. I really wanted to publish a book, for example, and I did that, and there been moments where I was motivated by other things. I've been very product focused at different points in my life where there were products I really wanted to build, you know, you go through different phases. But I do love company building, I really do and where we are right now at faster than light. Uh, one thing that I'm really excited about is thinking about, you know, scaling up the team and scaling up the product. And I think I love all all the pieces of it, you know. And that's important when you're, when you're a founder of a small company, you have to wear a lot of hats. And you're not going to love all of it like and doing bookkeeping now. And like, I don't really love bookkeeping. But I'm motivated to do it, because I understand that it's an important part of company building. And that it's something that is just like, you have to show up and do your job. And there are parts of it that are really amazing. Like, when you ship something, when you have users for the first time or users trying to feature like that's really special. That's that's not going to happen if you don't also have like, contracts and you know, accounting and all the back office stuff.
Tim Bourguignon 23:47 When will be time for you to give out this this bookkeeping, for instance. So when do you do decide to hire someone for something that you've been doing on your own? Oh,
Elissa Shevinsky 23:57 I just cannot wait to hire people for certain things. But it's that that really is an interesting question. Some of it is when you just have like so many customers and so much traction, that you're really becoming a bottleneck. And not because for example, you're lazy, or there's something you just don't like to do. Like, that's not really the reason. In our case. We're gonna hire as soon as we have like too many customers in the pipeline for too many active customers, and we just can't support them ourselves. So my CTO and I talked about that, like, if we ended up with just a few more customers on the pipeline, and like we're customizing pilots, or we're customizing things for them. Then we'll need to hire another person in engineering for sure. I would love to hire someone to run workshops and like do community management and help with customer service. But again, like that'll make sense in a few more months or longer, like, once we have enough traction for it, there's obviously the budget questions too. And like, hopefully, the money and the customer traction all kind of goes together. Sometimes you have this situation where like, you get traction really fast and like, you can't like this is, this is less true these days where server power and computing power is so inexpensive. But I remember like 510 years ago, it would be a problem that people get so much traction, before they'd have the money to pay the server bills. So like, the hope is that the attraction and the money, like kind of happened around the same time?
Tim Bourguignon 25:40 Can you can you list out all the hats you're wearing right now?
Elissa Shevinsky 25:44 Oh, sure. Um, let's see. So I wear I share the product management hat with the CTO. So he actually leads a lot of the product stuff, but I'll come in, and I'll work with our full stack engineer on like front end stuff. And I'll do QA testing, and I still have my hands on product. But like, really everyone on the team is working in product. But then there's things where I'm really focusing on that more than anyone else. So that would be like sales and marketing. We went through a sales focused accelerator called the seller prize in the fall. And I learned a lot about sales techniques there. So now I'm doing a lot with our intern cannith. He's amazing. And we're doing some like outbound emails now. And getting introductions and all the sales stuff is really, like, that's definitely my hat. And marketing, which is like related to sales, but not exactly the same thing. I'm writing some technical documentation now with Kenneth and we're also gonna bring Brett into that as well. What else? everything and anything on the business side? soon we're gonna be fundraising. That will be another hat. Yeah, like, I wear every hat except writing code. We have two other full time people. We've got the CTO and we've got ribbon, and they write code. And I, I do basically everything else. Do you
Tim Bourguignon 27:11 miss writing God?
Elissa Shevinsky 27:12 Oh, no, I'm doing exactly what I love. I love this. I mean, I think it'll be really nice to be able to hire like one or two more people. And I can focus on the things I'm really best at. You know, like, I'm there things that I, the things that I love the most are like, doing these podcasts and like running workshops, and like, talking to customers making sales, like that's really what I want to do. If I really wanted to be writing code, then I don't think I'd be CEO. Yeah, I think when I take a step back, I do feel like okay, this is the job I want. And that's one thing that's nice with this company, like, Brett wants to be CTO and I want to be CEO and like, no one's confused about it.
Tim Bourguignon 27:59 That sounds like you found a very sweet spot of use.
Elissa Shevinsky 28:03 Yeah, I'm trying to enjoy it. I'm trying to appreciate it. I would like
Tim Bourguignon 28:07 to ask them this question, please. Did you have some failures in the past what you would like to share? And especially what you learned from Oh, yeah,
Elissa Shevinsky 28:14 I think everyone's had failures. I don't know anyone who hasn't. And it's just a question of, you know, how you feel about it, and how much you share it. And in some cases, those those failures, like, sometimes I still ended up where I wanted to go, or I still achieve the things that I wanted to achieve. But I look back and I'm like, wow, if I only I did, I was so green, there's so much I didn't know there's so many mistakes, that's important this morning to keep learning. I think if you don't look back at yourself, like 510 years ago, think that you made big mistakes, and you haven't grown, right. So what's a good example of a mistake. And so we are about to do TechStars London, not a mistake, by the way, very excited about it. But someone from Tech stars was like really interested in supporting my business in 2011 2012. And I should have gone for it, I should have done it. That would have really leveled me up a lot. The money would have kept the startup going, I would have gotten introductions and learned a lot. I would have built my network, I would have had an amazing experience. I absolutely should have tried to make that happen. And I didn't. I didn't because I really wanted to be in New York, or do Y Combinator, I had my like, fixed idea of what my path looked like. And I just wasn't open to the possibilities that came my way. So one of the best things that I've done, just growing as a person and growing as a founder is being less fixated and less stuck on like, getting very specific outcomes and a lot more open to like making the most of the opportunities that actually are in front of me. Cuz you can't control, you know, who's going to want to be a customer or be an investor, there's things that you can do to try and make it work out how you want. But at the end of the day, like, if to stay focused on just trying to level up, no matter, like, even if it's something you don't expect, like, I'm going to London, that is a little unexpected. And that isn't what I was necessarily planning. But it It feels like it's really the right thing to do, because it's the right fit. And because it's going to move us forward in a lot of ways. So yeah, I think in the past, I wasn't open, I wasn't open enough to the opportunities that would have really helped me,
Tim Bourguignon 30:43 I read a book recently called great by choice, Google is just okay. But there there is a concept, the concept of return on luck in there. And which I found very interesting. And this is the idea that companies are not successful, because they got lucky, because the analysis that the authors did on a broad spectrum of companies was all the companies get some lucky and unlucky moments, but the one that gets successful become successful, are the ones that are ready, when luck appears. And can can can go for it. And really how are looking for these, those hints and recognize that something is happening, and then really, really are able to run with it. And I find it very eye opening for me as a person to kind of look around and see the world with this loose lenses. What what is happening around me in all those lucky moments, something I can I can use? Or do I need to grow still, and I'm not able to use any lucky moment that would happen right now. Even if I wanted that I wouldn't be ready for that.
Elissa Shevinsky 31:45 Yeah, I think it's very easy for people to look around and be jealous or envious of what looks like overnight success for other people or what looks like they've just had a lot of good luck. And the truth is, you know, it's luck is absolutely like the result of a lot of hard work and showing up even for people who've gotten really lucky. Like you still usually have to put in a lot of effort and a lot of hard work. And for me, that's, I just try to remember that all the time. That ultimately, there's a big way that you make your own luck by like showing up and growing and like having the right mindset and trying to also be like, a fit for the moment that you're in, you know,
Tim Bourguignon 32:40 how do you make sure that you keep on growing?
Elissa Shevinsky 32:43 Oh, I think that's about having a growth mindset. I think that has a lot to do with, like self esteem and being a healthy person. I've worked alongside some people who really couldn't grow, and they couldn't grow because they were so defensive. They were so defensive that they couldn't take criticism, and they couldn't like give themselves their own criticism. You know, like, I'll wake up, and I'll think, like, how could I have been a better person? You know, yesterday? How could I be a better person today? And I'll think about that in my personal life. But also think about that, as a founder be like, okay, you know, what am I doing right here, but also, I have to check myself like, Where could I be doing more doing better, and then bringing in the right outside influences. I had a coach for a few months when I was going through some hard stuff. And, you know, she would call me on things and be like, you know, why are you making that decision? Is that really the right decision? So some of some of crowing is like, really wanting to grow even more than you want to protect your ego. Does that make sense?
Tim Bourguignon 33:50 Yes, it does. Yes, it does. It's painful. But it's definitely the right way I agree. Or at least the way I I tried to live with as well,
Elissa Shevinsky 33:59 it's more painful to keep failing. It's It's so satisfying to look back and know that and know that you're growing, I think I saw a tweet the other day from someone who had just he'd raised a lot of money for a very cool venture fund. And he tweeted that people like congratulate you not for the things they're really proud of. Right. So like, I'll get congratulated for things, but they're not necessarily the things that are meaningful to me, the thing that I'm most proud of the thing that's most meaningful to me is that I really do have a growth mindset. And I really can change bad habits, that and I think that's making me like the best founder that I can be and just as a person, like I stopped watching TV, I had been staying up late watching Netflix or Hulu, and that's just like, not a great use of time. And if I look at it objectively, I just can't say like, yeah, I should be doing that. And so I just stopped and that's like, you know, That's been life changing. Like, I'll just wake up at 7am because I went to bed before midnight. And so I can start my day at seven, which opens up like a whole range of things, right? Like, I could have a leisurely breakfast, new some personal things, or I can get all my emails drafted before anyone's even like gone to the office. So when I think about like, Who am I? That's, that's a big part of my identity, that I'm a person who tries to grow.
Tim Bourguignon 35:29 Do you think you're a disciplined person,
Elissa Shevinsky 35:31 a disciplined person? Yeah, I've known that about myself for a long time. I was a raw vegan for a while when I was in that yoga phase. And I'm very disciplined now, mostly in my personal life, I think in my work life, I have like a moderate amount of discipline. But I'm also like, just having a lot of fun at work. You know, like, I'm working with these people that I like, and we're making software and weed these, like cool investors. And the discipline that I'm bringing to work now is just, like grown up being and doing the things that aren't fun, but are necessary. But for the most part, there's like a part of me that's just on autopilot that like, I know how to make software with bread and Reuben, like, I know how to do user testing, like, I've done all of this before I know what I'm doing. So it doesn't feel like I have to bring a ton of discipline in at this moment. But once we get into fundraising, which is, that's a really, really challenging thing, even for people who are good at it. And even when you're in a good situation, I'm going to get situation in a lot of ways because Brett previously sold a company and like we're getting to product market fit. But that'll be the moments where I'll have to, like, have a spreadsheet and wake up early and have meetings all day and, and do things that are a little more outside my comfort zone.
Tim Bourguignon 36:51 How does this discipline affects the people you choose to have around you?
Elissa Shevinsky 36:56 Oh, I'm a very specific type of personality. So I think I try to work with people who really like me, and they like what I'm about. I've been working with Ruben since 2008. And he describes himself as being a little OCD. And so we're really good fit. Like, I have this memory of us spending like 12 hours trying to get like the pixels right on something and everyone else on the team was like Peace out, we're going to bed and me and Reuben were like, it's not done yet. So I really, that's one reason I really like working with him is he's also he has the ability to be a perfectionist about some of these details. And that makes the product a lot better. So that's really important. We're discipline comes in there, as I'll remember that. At some point, you have to stop working and just ship the thing and move on. So I'll bring in like the discipline to keep going because it's the right thing to do. But then the discipline to kind of project manage and stop, you know, so you don't drag something out too long. And with Brett Brett's known me since 2012. So you know, we know each other really well. We know each other's quirks. And I think I know that I can be occasionally a little bit difficult to work with. But in other ways, I think I'm very supportive of the team. And everyone knows, like, what I'm good at what I'll get done for them. And the ways that I can be difficult aren't a surprise like, and that mostly translates into, like, wanting us to stay on a schedule or no wanting to like keep working on something until it's perfect, like things that they know, because they know me, they've known me a really long time. And so when we bring in new team members, that's when I want to make sure it's really a personality fit. So there's one person I'd love to hire for fall, and I've been talking to her and like she knows me. And then one of the calls she you know, she was like, here's what I'm like, and I'm like I know, like if we hire you it's like we know you It's for your whole personality. That's cool. Yeah, I think you have to be self aware. Or it's gonna be difficult for the people around Absolutely.
Tim Bourguignon 39:07 Yeah, that's, that's why I was asking, asking this question. You have to have the the right kind of people around you. And be sure that the cultural fit, is there always going to be painful.
Elissa Shevinsky 39:17 I'm also aware of what it is to be CEO, you know, because I've reported to the CEO before, and I think a lot of CEOs forget, like the power and the authority they have on even if it's a small company. And so I'd like to think it helps that I keep that in mind that like I try to, I don't know, I try to be self aware.
Tim Bourguignon 39:38 Definitely. You know, we all we all know this a very benign question that the CEO asked and that gets understood as a as an order right away. This is always on always harmful.
Elissa Shevinsky 39:51 Yeah, the CEO can just like message people on a Saturday like it's no big deal. Like I really try to turn my phone off on Saturday and that's for me, that's my sanity, I am such a happier, healthier person. Now that, you know, everyone on the team knows that if it's not an emergency, if there isn't some, like mission critical thing, like, I don't want, I don't want to work on Saturday. But it's also like a check for me on everyone else, like no one else wants to hear from me on Saturday, right? Like the customers don't want sales emails on Saturday, you know, like, VCs don't want outbound stuff on Saturday. And the team members like no one on my team wants me asking them to do something.
Tim Bourguignon 40:30 That's a very healthy way to put it. That's true.
Elissa Shevinsky 40:33 It's taken a while to get here. Let me tell you,
Tim Bourguignon 40:36 I know that I will use base game for for a while. And I was so happy that they have this, this notification system on there, where you can really explicitly prevent the website to send you notifications on weekends. That's, that's a very neat way to use the system that so that's definitely PLC as well.
Elissa Shevinsky 40:56 Well, I'm talking about shutting things down. We're out of time, aren't we?
Tim Bourguignon 40:59 Yes, we are. And I have one last question that I definitely want to ask. I have to ask it anyway, wait, you said at the very beginning, mentors pulled you along, and then help you get started, which I find fascinating. And I've had a lot of experience with mentoring myself, and I love this space. If you were to, to mentor someone, now, what kind of person will you be looking for?
Elissa Shevinsky 41:22 And a lot of ways I think that my intern Kenneth is my mentee. And one reason why I'm so happy to be working with him and spending time with him is because he's really smart and really hard working and really sincere about startups. And it seems like, we're able to communicate while I'm like he's able to learn for me, but also, I get a lot out of it. I mean, like he shows up, and like he's doing so much for the company. So that situation aside.
Elissa Shevinsky 41:56 I think
Elissa Shevinsky 41:58 it ends up being like a really organic thing when it works. Um, I'm always looking for people who, you know, I think that it'll be time well spent on my part, because I don't have so much time. So I look for people who are really trying to level up and where I think that I'll be able to make a difference for them. Yeah, beyond that. I imagine I have a lot of like, unconscious things that I'm not aware of. But mentoring is so so important. I'm really grateful that I get to do it. Yeah. Oh, goodness. You know, I think you stumped me. I think I actually don't know what I'm looking for. I think it's a lot of subtle things that I'm unaware of. And maybe that's good for me to know, and, and give some thoughts of that.
Tim Bourguignon 42:49 Thank you. That's the best comment I I've had for a long time. It's called if I can can trigger you in thinking of it more after the podcast. It's great. Thank you.
Elissa Shevinsky 42:58 Yeah. Right. Like mentorship is so in turn, I should think about how I how I make myself available to people or how I don't Good question.
Tim Bourguignon 43:06 Thank you. Thank you. Um, if the listeners wanted to continue this discussion, where would be the appropriate place? to do though,
Elissa Shevinsky 43:14 yes, I would love for listeners to follow up, you can message me on Twitter and my dams are open my username, there is Alyssa Beth Li, ss, A, B, E, th. And we can also receive messages at faster than light, you can message help at faster than light dot Dev. That's a good email address, actually, because it goes to me, but it also goes to the technical team. So if people want to follow up with anything relating to technical questions, it would be interesting to the team to see the mail that's coming in. So you're certainly welcome to message there, or my email Alyssa at faster than light dot Dev. And I certainly have to encourage people to go to our website and play with our new tool since it's live. And I'm so excited about it. And I would just love user feedback. And also, we're putting up a paywall soon, but it's not up yet. Actually, by the time this goes live, that will be up. But we have the opportunity to potentially give people extended trials, you'll have a one month trial if you sign up in August. And if you message me maybe I can make it a little bit longer. I'd be very interested in feedback from people on the show.
Tim Bourguignon 44:26 Okay, so I'll add that to the show notes so that people know about it. Absolutely. Fantastic. Thank you very much. Do you have anything else coming up in the next month? Did you let you advertise?
Elissa Shevinsky 44:37 Ah, I am going to be a no nothing coming up starting in August. I guess if people would like me to give a workshop at their meetup. I'll be in London and my co founder is in San Francisco and we would be very happy to talk about open source static analysis tooling.
Tim Bourguignon 44:58 So the listeners you heard it, contact Elisa. And she's ready to give some workshops. Lisa, thank you for much. That has been fantastic. hear your story. Very interesting. Three indeed, is too bad. We will have more time I would have some more questions to ask you. But I guess we'll give the time books to 245 minutes like we always do. Thank you very much.
Elissa Shevinsky 45:18 Yeah. Thank you so much.
Tim Bourguignon 45:20 And this has been another episode of developer's journey. And we'll see you trailer next week. Bye bye. Dear listener, if you haven't subscribed yet, you can find this podcast in iTunes, Google music, Stitcher, Spotify, and much more, head over to www dot journey dot info. To read the show notes. find all the links mentioned during the episode. And of course, links to the podcast on all these platforms. Don't miss the next developer's journey story by subscribing to the podcast with the app of your choice right now. And if you like what we do, please rate the podcast, write a comment on those platforms, and promote the podcast and social media. This really helps fellow developers discover the podcast and do fantastic journeys. Thank you