Software Developers Journey Podcast

#86 Jamison Dance implores you to be nice to other people


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Jamison Dance 0:00
My CTO came to me and said, Hey, you have to go fire this person. And I did it in again in the bad way. Much like I quit that job I mentioned where I probably brought them into a room and looked into their sad, sad puppy dog eyes, and said, Hey, we have to let you go. And then I think they asked why and I just made up some nonsense about how we needed like someone more senior with more experience, and it wasn't a good fit right now and just just like, weaseled my way out of it, and then felt horrible. They felt horrible. And then yeah, that's, that's how it worked out. It wasn't great.

Tim Bourguignon 0:46
Hello, and welcome to DevJourney, the podcast shining a light on developers lives from all over the world. My name is Tim Bourguignon, and today, I received Jamison Dance. Jamison is a code whisper and an experience production engineer. He has led teams and been led. Jamison is currently an engineering manager at Walmart labs, leading a distributed team in Building Performance and infrastructure tooling. he organizes the react, rally and react conferences. And he is the co host of the soft skills engineering podcast. This podcast shoot sounds familiar to you. If not, you should definitely listen to Episode 77 of this very dev journey podcast where I interviewed Dave Smith, the other half of the CO hosts of this show and Jamison thinks both computers and people are neat, and also thinks that you are great and what at least that's what his website says. Anyway, Jamison, welcome to their journey.

Jamison Dance 1:48
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Tim Bourguignon 1:50
Do you often say nice things to people before even meeting them?

Jamison Dance 1:54
Yeah, it's like a defense mechanism because I want them to like me. So if I say nice things first. Then they automatically start liking me.

Tim Bourguignon 2:03
That is pretty cool.

Jamison Dance 2:03
Um, I also like that you interviewed Dave first because you, you got the good stuff. Now I can, I don't know, mess it up for him. Make him make him look bad.

Tim Bourguignon 2:18
But you haven't listened to his interview yet?

Jamison Dance 2:20
Yeah, no, I have it. I yeah, I was talking about this before the show. I feel weird listening to it. Like I'm spying on some secret conversation that you and Dave had, even though it's public out on the internet. I don't know.

Tim Bourguignon 2:32
I'll listen to it. But then now I feel obliged to try and trick you into answering something differently than he did.

Jamison Dance 2:38
Yeah, that is a good point. And that's why we hide behind the designation of it being a comedy podcast because if any, if anyone ever says your advice is bad, then we can say no, you just didn't get the joke. And I'm sorry you took our advice and ruined your career career.

Tim Bourguignon 2:56
That's That's very nice. That's very wise. Yeah, I'm not sure holding you in court, but

Jamison Dance 3:02
if we make it to court, then we're in a lot of trouble.

Tim Bourguignon 3:08
But I think you've made it as well. So yeah,

Jamison Dance 3:10
I guess, then then I can write our tell all book. Let's settle for that. Okay.

Tim Bourguignon 3:19
Okay, let's focus on euphoria for a sec. When did your journey into software development start in the first place?

Jamison Dance 3:23
So the first time I ever wrote code, I was, I was a sophomore in college. So my second year of college for folks that are outside of the United States. I lived for a couple of years in Brazil, and I had a good friend there that had done the Brazilian version of computer science. It's kind of like systems analysis is I think, what it roughly translates translates to but he was a software developer, and he just thought I would like it and told me Hey, you should go look at software when you get back to two The United States and go back to school. And I didn't really know what I wanted to do with my life. I just knew that I wanted people to think I was smart. And, and also that my dad did business. So I tried that for a little bit, and it didn't work. And also I didn't know I mean, I was like, 19. And the word business meant nothing to me. So I just like walked towards the building that said business on it, and then met some people there and didn't like them and then walked away from it and was like, I guess business isn't for me. I tried, didn't like those people. And then I tried to be a doctor for a while because I thought like doctors, people think they're smart. And then I did organic chemistry and was like, yeah, people do think they're smart, because they are because they can do organic chemistry and I can't so new strategy. And and then I yeah, I did this. Basically the intro to computer science class, as I think I was 21 at the time, it was kind of an old software and I did it and I loved it. And I was totally crushed by the workload, and entranced by the stuff I was learning and the juxtaposition between how much I knew and how much some of the people who had been programming for a long time knew in that class was pretty stark, where I mean, looking back at it, the intro to computer science class, as as an experienced professional software developer is not anything complicated, but coming from no background in programming to these arcane symbols that you recite correctly into a computer was pretty tough for me, but I loved it. I loved the feeling of making stuff. And I kind of liked the challenge of like, catching up with these people that seemed to know everything already. And I was just hooked from that first class. And then I kept going kept doing school. So my, my intro was, in some ways, it was pretty traditional where I did computer science in college. But in some ways, it was kind of a non traditional path to going into that traditional fields are that traditional funnel.

Tim Bourguignon 5:56
Does that make sense? Yes, it does. Yes. And I'd like to come back to this friend in Little Why do you think he saw this as the right field for you?

Jamison Dance 6:04
I have never asked him That's a really good question that I should ask him. But I have no idea. He did say sometimes that I acted like a robot. Maybe, maybe he was like, you would probably have an affinity for machines. But I don't know.

Tim Bourguignon 6:23
If you're a robot already, then it should be natural for you.

Jamison Dance 6:27
Yeah, I guess. Yeah, I don't I don't know. That's a really good question.

Tim Bourguignon 6:31
Please ask him and let me know. I will. Yeah. Okay, so you started this, this this car studies playing catch up with the other students? What what what caught your your attention more than than this this this game of, of trying to play catch up and trying to be catch up to all those who who seemingly had a had an advantage on you?

Jamison Dance 6:53
I think it was the feeling of creating something so I am not an artistic person. I don't I don't have have the ability to make beauty with my hands, you know, I can't draw or paint or anything like that. But I love that feeling of making stuff that is useful or cool or interesting. And I feel like software development was a way for me to access that, that I hadn't really been able to do previously where I could make stuff and people liked it. And, and that was the thing that really sucked me in. The catching up part was kind of cool. But that wasn't the main motivation. It was it was more like, I just kind of fell in love. Right, right. When I think it was in Java. I had to write some little program that like was a calculator or something like that and just seeing it work even though I didn't know what most of it meant or how to change it or modify. It just felt like magic. Then I fell in love with that feeling of magic.

Tim Bourguignon 7:48
I can relate to this. Did you remember which, which was the first program that you wrote that really was useful to someone or someone

Jamison Dance 7:56
besides me?

Tim Bourguignon 7:58
Or yourself? If you Something that really that you really used and really gained some productivity or some coolness factor or whichever it's probably embarrassingly late into my career honestly.

Jamison Dance 8:13
I don't think I I don't think I wrote while I was in school, I didn't just write little stuff to help myself. It was mostly just to learn things or for assignments. I did work at the computer science department in the university. I don't remember what the first thing I did there was it was some like billing system for some reason. This is boggles my mind looking back at it, but it seemed like the way the world worked. Then, they had a billing system and a payroll system for tracking hours and paying employees of the department that basically they hired student web developers to make and it was all in PHP and Drupal and was like, student web developer level code. That was for this very important thing of getting people paid. So it's probably some feature in there. I do remember breaking it though, I remember I, we had this like nested form where you, you would you would, it was like nested select boxes. So you'd pick one item in one select box, and then it would change the values in the next select box. And I couldn't get the Asynchronous JavaScript stuff to work. I didn't really understand that programming model or what was happening. And I googled and found that you could just mark your JavaScript x HR requests as synchronous, and then you don't have to worry about this pesky async business. And it also locks the browser the whole time. The request is in flight, but I was like, yeah, problem solved and just kind of patted myself on the back and went along. And I think my there was a more experienced developer working there, who's, I'm pretty sure just went and fixed it.

Tim Bourguignon 9:57
If the network plays along, then that's fine.

Jamison Dance 10:00
Yeah, I mean, why don't you just make the internet faster? And then it's not a problem?

Tim Bourguignon 10:06
Yeah. So let's make this this question with with something you said you say that you wanted to sound smart or to appear smart. So what was the one of the coolest applications you developed? Where you really, really looked smart

Jamison Dance 10:18
in my whole career, if you want? Oh, boy, I think I think this is where imposter syndrome comes through. Because everything that I figure, I feel like I understand well enough, doesn't seem smart to me anymore. where like, I don't know, I could add features or build this thing. So it can't be that smart. I think the stuff I'm doing right now is pretty cool. Where it's, it's basically building an internal AWS like platform for Walmart's developers to use. And there's a bunch of kind of low level systems and networking concepts that get involved in that. And there's a bunch of UX concepts that get involved in exposing this functionality to people of varying skill levels in a way they understand. There's there's probably some Let's see this is going to be out in February, right? We're recording it in. Do you care if I spill the beans on the time travels early? Absolutely. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, so we're recording this in December, I predict by February This feature will be done. So we're building some distributed rate limiting stuff right now where there's this cluster of nodes. requests can come into any node in the cluster. The nodes don't share state between each other. But we want the total level of requests through the cluster to match a specific threshold basically, and not go above it. And I believe that will possibly be done by the time this launches. And if that's true, then that might be the the smartest thing I've built. And if not, then I will have failed. And it was probably those two select boxes. That was probably the second smartest thing I felt.

Tim Bourguignon 11:50
The smartest thing you have attempted is also cool. But I guess measuring up against AWS or something similar is kind of cool in itself.

Jamison Dance 12:00
Yeah, so I got to Walmart and looked around was like, why don't we just use Amazon? Oh, yeah, like there's, I'm so used to using AWS as a as a developer. But um, obviously Walmart is in direct competition with Amazon. So they don't want to pay them a whole bunch of money to use their computing platform. So there's some fun problems to solve on Google Cloud. And Azure was not an option. We didn't use Google Cloud and Azure, actually. But there's, there's a mix of, of all kinds of different systems. Walmart is big enough and old enough that they have basically every technology ever, all at the same time. So I'm sure there's some AWS somewhere. I don't know that but I'm sure like, I don't know, some, some little teams like yeah, we'll just spin up some easy two instances or whatever. So it's more about some of it is building our own tools. And some of it is unifying tools that other teams built and some of it is deploying our tools to these other environments as well. So So what we've found is while they Sometimes off the shelf pieces in individual cloud vendors, getting locked into a single cloud vendor is very expensive at large scale, and having just the ability to say, Hey, we will take our generic compute and put it in this other vendor, if we don't like the deal you're giving us saves Walmart an enormous amount of money. So some of it you could look at and say this is maybe building stuff that exists elsewhere. Some of it I don't think does, though, it's pretty unique to Walmart's use cases. But But the main driver is like, solve the unique use cases and also maintain flexibility across a bunch of different cloud vendors and private data centers and then kind of present a more unified interface over all that stuff.

Tim Bourguignon 13:39
I don't want to spend too much time on on the internals of your work at Walmart. One last question. Did he or not, did you You certainly did. Why was a solutions like terraform not an option in this case? Oh, we do use terraform.

Jamison Dance 13:56
Yeah, we totally do. I actually don't work with it too much directly, but we must They use terraform to spin up infrastructure and get it in the right state for us to put our binaries on it. But the binaries that we are putting on, there are generally kind of shared services that all of the application developers use. And that's the thing that we spend our time on is building these shared services. So like load balancers, both in line and DNS and proxies, and CD ends and all kinds of stuff like that. So we use terraform to help accomplish that, but we couldn't replace the stuff we do with terraform if that makes sense. Yes, it does.

Tim Bourguignon 14:33
Okay, cool. So let's, let's roll back a little bit. Let's go back to to you living University living college. How did your career I mean, you you work before you said in this year's department, what are your professional career started with? What did your first job look like this first job hunt look like etc. Take us through that.

Jamison Dance 14:54
So I want to talk about first full time job I had a few part time jobs, programming Whichever you think is interesting for the for this? I think one of my part time jobs is interesting just because it was a it's the kind of job where you get a lot of stories, but it's not a good place to work. It's it's good only in retrospect where you can tell people about weird things that happen there. I worked it is basically a defense contractor. And I had been in the computer science department long enough to absorb some of the, I guess the hubris that that was around where I think what year was this? This is probably like 2009 or something like that. 2010. And I think the tech was not as big in mainstream as it is now. Certainly, but I think people were starting to feel like this is a big deal. And we are we're actually cool for knowing how to do this stuff. We're not like the nerds that everyone hates. And and some of it was just arrogant, young people feeling like I know how to talk about computers. So I am, every problem is now solvable by me. So basically, I thought it was cool. And I thought it was cool to be a software developer. And I was very smart and could do anything and all the arrogance of youth. And I joined this company. And I was kind of used to people treating software developers like spoiled children a little bit where they, they they just talk about how smart they are and give them all these fancy perks and and and like kind of leave them in a room and hope they produce valuable stuff. And this company was not like that at all. The the CEO of the company was an ex military person. The people that ran the company were hardware engineers and electrical engineers and software was kind of like the low person on the totem pole. And so we got all jammed in this little room. Periodically, the boss would come in and just yell at everybody for not looking like they're doing enough work. It was it was like kind of classical troves of bad places to work. But it was good to experience those because it made me realize that there are still bad jobs. Even if you're in software development, you can still get a bad job. The I'm pretty sure the boss's wife had like an unofficial executive position where her job was to just like hover and micromanage, but without any actual job. And then kind of all the classical bad stuff happened like people got fired for being not being put it they did not fall in line, as much as was expected at the culture like just just kind of questioning or pushing back on ideas with the perspective of software developer was not really looked on happily. So so it was it was not a great place to work. A lot of weird stuff happened. I went to quit but I was very immature and didn't know how to quit a job. So I just told them like, I want to Less. And then they said how much less than I said, all of it less. Like, no amounts of work. And just got out of there with some fond memories. I did learn how to program JavaScript for real there, though. So that was good. I

Tim Bourguignon 18:17
love this code. So I have to write it down. worthless. This is pretty a very passive aggressive

Jamison Dance 18:25
it was I yeah, that's, that's the story of my life is working to be more direct. I think in the end, I blamed it on like, needing more time to study. And then I quit and got another job and didn't study. And like, I don't know, I didn't just say, Hey, I don't like it here. And I'm going to leave or even I don't not give a reason at all. Just say, Hey, I'm moving on. It's probably what I would do now.

Tim Bourguignon 18:49
I'm fast forwarding a bit too much. But then that's too tempting not to ask how much of this experience in this bad management has influenced you in your career now? That's your mandatory self.

Jamison Dance 19:01
That's a great question. I I've had a mix of good and bad managers, but I feel like I've definitely, for better or for worse been more influenced by the bad managers. I feel like it might be easier for me to learn from negative examples of things I will never do or feelings I hope that my, my reports never have about the company or the work or the team. I've always wanted people to be happy. But certainly some of those early experiences helped me realize that I wanted to be able to influence how people felt about work. It was clear that moving towards management was a way I could fulfill that desire. Where if I have some control over the culture then I can I can step in and stop the evil boss from coming in and ruining everything or protect the team from these crushing deadlines or this model of like. Have you heard of like the heat shield or the the crap umbrella model of management? It's I don't think it's the best model but that was kind of where my my early desire to Do it came from like, I will protect people from the bad outside world, because my

Tim Bourguignon 20:03
next question would have been making or influencing people when making the work really better, etc is not what I would necessarily combined with a management job in a giant company like Walmart, but acting as a heat shield, as you say, bring this into into different lights. So, yeah, how do you feel about this?

Jamison Dance 20:26
So I would say there's a mix of both I mean, I think a large part of my role and this would probably be similar no matter the size of the company, but is to create an environment for people to do good work in the context that I have in in the in the sphere, I have influence over I guess, and some of that is is positive as in saying we will do these things will will uphold these values will Will. Will, we will Yeah, we will do these things and some of it is Negative is insane. Like, we will not do these things. I'll keep you from having to worry about this thing. And that balance is probably different at different companies. But I wouldn't say I don't feel like I don't think Walmart is a bad place to work. I actually really enjoy my job. And I don't think it feels like most of my time is like protecting people from crappy things that happen at Walmart. I think it's I do think I've made a little nice bubble. But I think that's just as much about things that we do as about things. I'm like taking for the team. So they don't have to, if that makes sense.

Tim Bourguignon 21:38
Yes. And how did you grow into this position?

Jamison Dance 21:42
That is a good question. So I worked at a startup for a few years. And it was one of those startups where everyone is like, 22, and nobody knows what there's what they're doing. And no one even knew what management meant. Or was but at some point, we were like, We need like some hierarchy rights. And then people just kind of looked around and said, like who should do it? And then I think I kind of raised my hand and said, I'd kind of like to do it. And I didn't know what I was supposed to be doing. No one else knew what I was supposed to be doing either though, so it was okay. Because no one was saying Jamison is a bad manager, because he is not doing this thing I expect good managers to do, because no one had any expectations. So I got a title of some managerial title there. And like vaguely did things around project planning and meeting with team members and but but it was mostly an education and how much I didn't know about what I was supposed to be doing. And then I think that sprung me so before this, I had kind of a desire to be able to create a good environment and then actually having the responsibility To deliver stuff sprung me into kind of a, how would I put it a desire to learn more about how to do that? Well, so I worked at that company in that role for about a year and a half. And then I went and got a different job, I was an individual contributor, set a pretty small company, and eventually management sprung up, but I didn't, I wasn't in management in that company. I was just kind of a senior developer there. But the whole time I was there, I was kind of using it as a, I guess, a laboratory to try out things and to examine things that I would do differently or kind of kind of mock out in my head how things would work if I if I had some explicit authority or or responsibility for a team.

Tim Bourguignon 23:46
Does that make sense? Absolutely. How did you live through this pendulum going into individual contribution and then management and then back to IC and then back to management? Is something that you deliberately chose or is it something that just happen

Jamison Dance 24:00
No, I think I felt like I couldn't get a management job because I was very young and very bad at it. And and software was what I could do well, and so that's how I was looking to do next The first time I kind of swung back and forth. I have thought a lot about this pendulum and some people really like to be on that barrier or that border. I think charity majors even has a blog post about it. And she talks about how the, the, in her opinion, the best engineering managers, the best kind of line level managers are ones that swing back and forth, because they keep their technical skills sharp. They keep empathy for what it is like as a developer strong, but they also develop this perspective from management that helps them as an individual contributor. I am not that thoughtful about my life or career path. So I didn't deliberately pursue that but I just kind of fell into it by what was available and opportunities that looked interesting to me. So I got individual contributor jobs. After that I did some consulting for a while. And that was A mix of individual contributor and some kind of manager for hire team lead for hire stuff. And then after that, joined Walmart next, and that's where I joined explicitly as a manager. And that was kind of a, it's where I decided I wanted to focus more on this career path.

Tim Bourguignon 25:17
What convinced you to do this?

Jamison Dance 25:18
I honestly don't think I'm that great of a developer. I think I'm pretty good. And I can learn stuff. And I don't know, I try hard and try and write good code. But I'm, I know plenty of developers that are just raw, more talented at producing great technical artifacts than I am. But I feel like I am, I'm better at people and communication and relationships than than most technical people. And so it feels like I have, it's kind of where I feel like I can have a bigger impact. Does that make sense? Absolutely. And I still like code and I still write code. And I still I still, I put it I will make pull requests and then tell my team to to there's weird dynamics when your boss makes a pull request basically I try and tell them like please do normal things of this don't just like thumbs up it like I don't know I want this to be helpful I don't want you to curse my name when you see me me on to get blame in the code. But but I do feel like I just like supporting people more than being the the star producer myself and that feels like what management is to me where I'm trying to make an environment where people can do good work and produce great things and grow. And and that's a very like supporting kind of backgrounds. It's like designing the environment where that can happen not not doing all the work myself. That's that's really satisfying to me,

Tim Bourguignon 26:53
makes a lot of sense within gypsum. Some examples of what a good manager should be doing.

Jamison Dance 26:58
This has become more common. I feel like but I did not know this, when I first started, a good manager should be doing regular one on one meetings with the people that report to them. The purpose of those meetings is is it kind of varies between manager to manager, what they're trying to get out of it. But ideally, the the role of those meetings is to develop a relationship with the people that report to you. And also to talk about things that are out of bounds out of the band of normal work. So you talk about status and projects and things like that in other venues. But these meetings are where you talk about conflicts that might be happening, it might be where you deliver feedback about about how something wins, or how you maybe talk about career planning or growth or or just kind of all the stuff that goes into working that isn't about that isn't directly about the work. It's where you talk about the metalwork. Does that make sense? Absolutely. How do you learn this? How did I learn it? Not from experience. I had three one on ones my whole career before I joined Walmart, and then my boss at Walmart does them regularly, which is great. But I think I just read about it. I read a lot. And I still do I guess, as a as a when I was getting into software, I just got really sucked into all of the kind of developer culture things. So I read Hacker News, a ton. And this was like before when hated Hacker News and so that's my cool hipster credit I guess. And and just all that programmer blogs and stuff. I just I just liked to immerse myself in the culture and what people were talking about. And then I started to do that in the engineering manager culture as well as I was moving into that and it was kind of an idea I picked up I don't know, a specific source. It could have been Camille fornia from Rent the Runway, she writes a lot of good stuff. I don't know. I just kind of found it in the air

Tim Bourguignon 28:49
and tried it out properly.

Jamison Dance 28:50
Yeah. I do know, the first time I was a manager. I had heard you were supposed to meet with your reports. And I heard something about Weekly, but I didn't I didn't put together that it was supposed to be a regular thing with a purpose with each report. So what I did was each week I would meet with a different person. And we basically just went to lunch. And that was it. And we didn't talk about work or anything. It was just like me. Like, play acting what I thought a manager was supposed to do, like just going out and then talking about hobbies or something like that. I don't know. Yeah, I really didn't have an idea of what I was supposed to be doing.

Tim Bourguignon 29:29
I can see this still leaking or having an impact actually. Yeah, probably not the same as doing one on ones but it came in terms of team building and getting to know your coworkers and getting into a different atmosphere, etc.

Jamison Dance 29:43
It was better than nothing. Yeah, there's there's a really good book called The making of a manager by Julie's Oh, from Facebook, and she describes the transition from when she was an individual contributor to when she became a manager. And she did her first one on one with someone in her team who was maybe a little upset because they wanted to be a manager. And she describes this awkward feeling of like, the day before we were working together as colleagues on this project, and I'm in this meeting with you. And I'm supposed to have this authority and responsibility over you and be able to help you somehow and just feeling like, so awkward and and I'd be unsure of how to provide value and unsure of how to navigate that relationship where she didn't have a strong idea of what to do at that point. So I think I think she just said she was like, tell me what you're working about. And then the person rolled their eyes at her and I don't know, didn't didn't go great. But I kind of identify with that of if you don't know how you're supposed to provide value and don't know what you're supposed to be doing. It is an awkward transition to step up from colleague to managing someone. There was a point to that. What was the point? Oh, you said it's still probably provided value. I guess I'm saying I'm not so sure. It created the story right now I guess maybe there's some value. There you go. Value unlocked.

Tim Bourguignon 31:09
I'll add to the shownotes an article that I found a while back at something like stop with your shitty one on one meetings or something like this. And there's something like 50 questions that you can use to kind of bring your one on one meeting is to a different direction. But exactly as you say it about career about what conflicts about feedback, and really getting things to to a different, different level. And not, as you say, asking so so what are you working on?

Jamison Dance 31:38
Yeah. Yeah. So you asked that question originally to what are what are things a good manager does and I talked about one on ones but those are very tactical. The purpose of those one on ones is those things you mentioned where you're trying to help develop your your report, you're trying to help unblock them, trying to help them get better at the work, help resolve team conflicts, stuff like that. The overall point though, is that I think a good manager cares about the I'll call it like the health and safety of the team kind of the how the team works together if they if they are jelling, and working well and interacting positively together, the manager cares about the output of the team also, which is in some ways the other end of the spectrum from that. So you could be like the very nice manager that just does everything for your team and helps people and is very positive. But if your team is struggling to deliver and you never address that, then that's that's doing them a disservice as well. So that oftentimes leans more into giving direct feedback about what's not going well and how to improve and and pushing to resolve problems and kind of fix stuff up so the team can do good work. And then this is different from company to company, the places I've worked, management has also done On a lot of product management as well, or where the manager has a lot of influence and input into the roadmap. So this can depend, but in my experience personally, there's also the managers responsible for the roadmap of the team. So kind of the broad long term vision, not not just are they delivering stuff, but like, what are they delivering? What are they working towards? How are they going to accomplish it? And is that the right thing to be doing? So I think those are things a good manager does they help make their team work? Well, they help make their team produce well and help make sure that the stuff they're producing is what will broadly help the company

Tim Bourguignon 33:35
How did you did you learn or did you acquire the hiring and firing skills of the manager? Uh,

Jamison Dance 33:43
I haven't had to fire that many people, thankfully. So I don't know that I've acquired this firing skill. And I don't know that I want to because that means that you need like, what's the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours? I don't want the 10,000 hours of firing people experience. I did have to fire One person at my first job as a manager, I had a CTO who was like the same age as me and had no work experience to me like a co a co conspirator. And not knowing how to do the job, I guess. And there was a person on the team that we had hired and had clearly made a mistake in hiring, and just kept them around for for a long time and tried really hard to help them in just like a very painful way where it's very clear to everyone that they were not succeeding, and they would not succeed. But we were just young and immature and scared and so didn't didn't make a change. And then eventually, after a year, my CTO came to me and said, Hey, you have to go fire this person. And I did it in again in the bad way. Much like I quit that job I mentioned where I probably brought them into a room and looked into their sad, sad puppy dog eyes and said, Hey, we have to let you go. And then I think they asked why and I just made up some nonsense about how we needed like someone more senior with more experience and it wasn't a good fit right now and just just like, weaseled my way out of it and then felt horrible. They felt horrible. And then yeah, that's, that's, that's how it worked out. It wasn't great. I think there's a lot of ways that that could have not gone horribly wrong. Starting with hiring, but but lots of others points before then, before that awkward, much delayed firing. But I guess the summary is I think I have bad experiences teach you a lot of things. I guess that's maybe a summary of this, that I learned very clearly both how painful it is to fire somebody, and how painful it is to delay it for a long time. It didn't make it just increase the pain, like there's this constant amount of pain while they were there. And everyone knew that performance wasn't up to snuff and the team was like, what are we doing? Kind of like coddling this person and the person was like, I mean, probably knew, you know that that it wasn't going great and was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. So I think maybe one thing I learned from that is that you're not necessarily doing someone a favor by keeping them around longer in a bad situation. And that's often to just preserve your own feelings. But I didn't want to feel bad about about my role in their employment, you know, so, have bad experiences. That's the summary for how to learn how to fire people. You can also think about just how would I want? How would I want this to happen to me if it were to happen to me? There are lots of bad ways to fire people there are not very many good ways, but one bad way is to have it be a total surprise. So anytime that things have been looking like they're trending towards that direction, I make sure there's very clear conversations about expectations and what's being met and what isn't. And just making sure that people have clear understanding of where their performances relative to expectations so that it's it's not a surprise that comes out of nowhere because that's bad in a different way. And that's also a reason why people delay it to they say like, we haven't given them enough chances, you know, like, they don't even know this is coming. So you kinda have to address it. How I learned how to hire people. I'm a fan. Yeah, this is a theme I just gotten mad about how hiring works a lot. I went through a lot of interviews myself and didn't like them. So I had opinions develop on interview processes. I've thankfully I worked at several companies that have grown quite a bit. So that gave me lots of experience interviewing people and then sourcing people is kind of a different, different problem where that's not a problem you address until you're the one responsible for filling vacancies so that that can be a little bit hard to get experience with as someone who isn't a manager but there's a there's a couple good things I've looked to from that. Let me hang on. Let me find a link really quick. Well, we'll put it in the show notes. There's a blog post by His name is I think it's will left and he's at stripe and rotes. The what is that book, an elegant puzzle. It's it's a book about engineering management. He has a really good blog post about sourcing, and how you approach it kind of systematically to as like a conversion funnel, almost where you're trying to get certain numbers of people in at certain points and how you fill those out. One thing that has helped though is I have accidentally, like bumbled my way into having sort of a reputation in the developer community where through podcasting, and conferences and stuff, there are people that know who I am, and for some reason, think I'm smart. So that makes it easier to source people where you just kind of talk through those venues. If you don't, there are still lots of ways to find people. Guess I'm keeping them secret though. I don't know which way to go into them. I said there are ways and good luck understanding what those ways are.

Tim Bourguignon 39:09
I guess it's you have to you have to put in the hours and and learn it.

Jamison Dance 39:13
Yeah, there's I mean, I guess if you think about what how you found jobs too, you can kind of reverse that. So referrals are good conferences, meetups, community events, stuff like that. That's that's a common theme and how I have found employment. So you kind of try all those places. But it does take a lot of time. I've been surprised at how much time it takes to find people that you end up hiring. So let's focus in on one advice to people searching your job right now, what would be the one advice you would give the one advice for someone looking for a job, do not call the apply. Don't just put a resume in somewhere. It's very unlikely, especially if it's a job that is that that is desirable. It's unlikely that the person that applies will be just some rare Who put a resume into a job system and then was like picked out of a hat. If you can have some kind of contact at the company, even if it's not related to the job at all, if you just know someone there, someone who can know someone who can know someone, if you can find out info about how their interview works, or just anything that gets you to be more than just kind of an anonymous resume in a pile is helpful. That's that's kind of focused on the application part, though. I mean, I guess there's, there's the whole other section of like, be good at doing the job. So do that to another thing. Yeah, exactly. Once, once you hack your way through the interview process, then there's always time to outsource the technical work to some, I don't know underpaid cousin of yours or something.

Tim Bourguignon 40:47
Okay, um, if the listeners wanted to get some more very interesting advice, like the cousin, where should they?

Jamison Dance 40:56
Yeah, you can follow me on Twitter. I'm Jamison underscore dance. On Twitter, I write occasionally on Jamison dot dance. My last name is a top level domain which is cool. This is Yeah, I was very lucky I recommend it to anyone I recommend picking the last name for yourself that is a top level domain except don't pick like calm. Don't make your last name calm because it's probably taken. And if it doesn't exist, then you'll need a few hundred million dollars I believe to make it happen. I know other places you can find me like like you mentioned, I do a podcast called soft skills, soft skills engineering, sorry, and you can find that at soft skills dot audio. And then if you like react or react related things then I would love to see you at either react rally or react calm. Those are both coming up this year, because this will launch next year 2020 it'll be kind of late summer and fall of 2020 React Conf and react rally. So just keep your eyes peeled for those

Tim Bourguignon 42:03
where those two conferences react

Jamison Dance 42:04
comp is in Las Vegas. Well, it's not in Las Vegas, Las Vegas. It's outside of Las Vegas. React rally is in my hometown of Salt Lake City

Tim Bourguignon 42:14
who Yep, nice. Nice. Nice. Nice Nice. Okay, fantastic. I'm just it's been a blast listening to your story. Um, do you have anything you want to plug in still?

Jamison Dance 42:25
I predict by February of 2020. I will be running for elected office. So vote for me in whatever office that is. cash donations accepted. Yet in Ohio. I, I don't know what I'm gonna do tomorrow. So I don't know what's gonna be happening. Just Just be nice to other people. That's what I have to plug.

Tim Bourguignon 42:47
That will be the quote of the show. Okay.

Jamison Dance 42:51
Thank you very much. You're welcome.

Tim Bourguignon 42:53
And this has been another episode of developer's journey. We will see each other next week, bye. All right, this is Tim from a different time and space with a few comments to make. First, get the most of these developer's journey by subscribing to the podcast with the app of your choice, and get the new episodes automagically, right when the air. The podcast is available on all major platforms. Then, visit our website to find the show notes with all the links mentioned by our guests, the advices they gave us, their book, references and so on. And while you're there, use the comments to continue the discussion with our guests or with me, or reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn. Then a big big THANK YOU to the generous Patreon donors that help me pay the hosting bills. If you have a few coins to spare, please consider a small monthly donation. Every pledge, however small counts. Finally, please do someone a favor, tell them about the show today and help them on their journey.