Emotional Tech Support and Debugging with Verbose Logging with Cody de Arkland

Welcome to episode 86 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss emotional tech support, verbose logging, and debugging with Cody de Arkland.

Original Recording Date: 07-05-2020

Topics – Emotional Tech Support, Verbose Logging, and Debugging

2:12 – Getting Support

  • Are the people who we consider an "ear" for us usually outside our immediate family?
    • Cody says we go to people for the support we need. A spouse may not always understand about a work problem / struggle.
    • John says our families have baggage with us that color all conversations. We don’t want to burden our spouse with every single burden (i.e. treat like a stress ball), so to spread this around, we go to others who can empathize (a peer, co-worker, friend, etc.)
    • Going to mental health or spiritual councilors are viable options as well for support.
    • When you figure out the type of people you need for a specific conversation, you have found the circle of trust and reached a measure of emotional maturity. Each member doesn’t get all of the topics.
    • When we have not reached this level of maturity, we tend to shotgun things in all directions, causing collateral damage out of desperation.
      • Whoever is in the shrapnel when you explode catches everything (unfiltered, unprocessed).
  • John and Cody relate our topic to GitHub pull requests.

9:31 – Mental Plot Twists with Career Changes

  • Impostor syndrome doesn’t hit Cody daily any longer.
    • He struggles with feeling included. Cody wants to be seen in a certain light at HashiCorp.
    • He’s less afraid of people figuring out he does not belong and more afraid of not being invited.
    • Even making a change within an organization (compared to changing companies) resets your reputation.
      • John speaks to asking for more money at a new company as an incentive to walk away from your network, political capital, etc. at a former employer.
    • John speaks to his experience in moving from VMware to Google (new customers, new co-workers, changing industries). He felt initially like it may have been too many changes.
      • Cody wishes someone would have sat him down to talk through what his brain would do after making a move to HashiCorp. This likely happens to all of us.
      • There is a hard reset of a person’s reputation that happens in a change like this. It may not hit on day one, but it will hit.
      • "No one knows about that here, so don’t take it personal."
    • Part of the reason for this podcast is to give people a fair warning about these types of changes so they don’t feel alone when it happens.
  • 17:04 – Move to Hashi
  • Cody had a colleague who made the move and respects the company’s position in the industry.
  • He points out the change was not for money but for his career and the specific space in which he would be working.
  • On an emotional level, moving from the Cloud Management team at VMware to the Kubernetes group was a big shock.
    • He didn’t think too much about what changing groups might mean but had challenges moving on.
    • It was hard to figure out how to get involved in the new space and felt there was too much instability.
  • Even now, being removed from the decision for a few months, Cody agrees making the move to Hashi was still the right one.
  • Deciding a topic is best presented to a specific audience in a certain format (written vs. video for example) is thinking like a Technical Marketer.
    • Identify the message, what it is meant to do, who the audience will be, and the best medium to deliver it.
    • It is attractive to a hiring manager in the Tech Marketing field for a candidate to explain reasoning behind the development of the content.
    • Look at your projects (at work / in the community) and how you would reflect them later. Cody gives the example of creating a portfolio of his work.
      • Do this with your home lab, and by the way, put your home lab stuff on your resume! Have specific reasons for what you have achieved.
    • Think about the things you are doing and how you want them reflected.

24:39 – Debugging Complex Problems

  • What do the actions you take speak to others about you? Cody gives the example of what his brand is based on his actions.
  • We can treat emotional issues like technology problems (debugging, deconstructing).
    • Sometimes we need others to reflect back what we’re saying to be able to debug.
    • The good book of engineering says look at the problem’s cause before solving it, but usually we think about how to fix something immediately without looking at root cause.
    • Take the problem, and decompose before we jump in trying to solve it. Don’t try to solve it without all the data.
    • John drops a reference to The Soul of a New Machine and then compares help desk work methodologies to the way we deal with emotional problems.
  • Cody had initial thoughts he wanted to share on the podcast, but we ended up stumbling on the thing that matters the most (value of listening).
  • Cody has heard of people who quit because they didn’t deal with complex emotional problems.
  • Debugging yourself is extremely important.

33:02 Logging Emotions

  • It isn’t normal to dump your darkest fears onto social media. Cody cares about the person who doesn’t understand why they are angry and frustrated all the time but needs to see effective strategies for dealing with these things modeled.
  • The analogy here is log outputs. Debugging is easier with verbose logging. Looking at the logs of others with the same problems helps even more so.
  • Feeling alone is one of the worst things possible. Cody doesn’t want that feeling to haunt anyone.
  • John can’t remember the name of the Quantified Self movement and the possible approach of gathering metrics to help assess mental state.
  • Cody never feels anxiety posting on social media now but definitely did when he wrote the impostor syndrome blog post.
  • Cody has found a way to turn vulnerability into a strength.

39:11 – Closing Thoughts / What’s Next

  • Cody says career and lives are like seasons. It isn’t so much about what’s next but rather "when" is next.
  • It’s a good time to be a nerd.
  • Cody watches the market, what is happening with the products he works on, etc. But he cares more about the way he is treated, what leadership believes, and what the organization believes…less about the individual technology.
    • Choosing something interesting to do as part of your work is still important.
  • Cody could go back to being a SE now if he wanted. He knows who he is now.
    • It’s about understanding the work you are going to be doing.
  • If next is now, what is the work you will be doing? Will you feel like you are making a difference? Think about it.
  • There is a balance of the business need and the emotional IQ need. The businesses that really succeed figure out that balance by empowering leadership to make good choices.
    • Leadership means many things. What is your turnaround rate, your transfer rate, etc.?
    • You should have metrics on how employees are doing.
    • If an employee feels insecure in the role, some of this is on the leader for not coaching through it and trying to provide leadership through it.
  • Be a part of the wider community (whether technical, social, or some other community).
    • Cody speaks to how the technical community has built him up and how engagement has helped him along the way. He continues to desire to pay that back as an active part.

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