227: Doing DevRel Right with Jonan Scheffler

March 24th, 2021 · 1 hr 12 mins

About this Episode

02:28 - Jonan’s Superpower: Jonan’s Friends

  • The Quality and Reliability of One’s Personal Network
  • Finding Community
  • The Ruby Community in Particular – Focus on People and Programmer Joy
  • Happy Birthday, Ruby!

09:07 - How Developer Relations is Changing (DevRel)

  • Kicking Off New Relic’s New Developer Relations Program
  • Outreach and Community Growth Value
  • Developing Developer Empathy & Adjusting Content in the Spirit of Play
  • The Correct Role of DevRel

22:41 - Doing DevRel Right

  • Feedback Loops
  • The Definition of Success

31:45 - Engaging with Communities & Networks via DevRel

40:22 - Internal DevRel

  • Content Review Meetings
  • Make Friends w/ Marketing/Internal Communications (Comms)
  • Be Loud & Overcommunicate

53:32 - Addressing Trauma & The Evil in the World

“I respect facts but I live in impressions.”


Mando: We are who we spend time with.

Rein: If you want to understand how someone behaves, you have to understand their environment and experiences.

Jess: If it works, it’s going to be obvious it works.

Jonan: Talking about the things that suck and talking about who you are in a real way.

This episode was brought to you by @therubyrep of DevReps, LLC. To pledge your support and to join our awesome Slack community, visit patreon.com/greaterthancode

To make a one-time donation so that we can continue to bring you more content and transcripts like this, please do so at paypal.me/devreps. You will also get an invitation to our Slack community this way as well.


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JONAN: Welcome back to Greater Than Code. This is Episode 227. I am Jonan Scheffler and I'm joined today by my guest, Jessica Kerr. How are you, Jessica?

JESSICA: Thank you, Jonan. Well, I’m great today because I get to be here with my friend, Rein Henrichs.

REIN: Aw thanks, Jessica. And I'm here with my friend, Mando Escamilla.

MANDO: Thanks, Rein and just to bring it back around, I'm here with my friend, Jonan Scheffler.

Jonan Scheffler is the Director of Developer Relations at New Relic. He has a long history of breaking things in public and occasionally putting them back together again. His interest in physical computing often leads him to experiment with robotics and microelectronics, although his professional experience is more closely tied to cloud services and modern application development. In order to break things more effectively, he is particularly excited about observability as of late, and he’s committed to helping developers around the world live happier lives by showing them how to keep their apps and their dreams alive through the night.

Welcome to Greater Than Code, Jonan. How are you doing today, bud?

JONAN: I am great. I liked the part where I got to intro your podcast. That was a lot of fun, actually.

MANDO: It was fantastic, man.

JONAN: This bio, this guest sounds really interesting, if I would be permitted to say so myself as the guest.

MANDO: So we like to start off every podcast with our normal question that we ask every guest, which is, what is your superpower, Jonan and how did you acquire it?

JONAN: My superpower is my friends. They are my superpower and I acquired them after a long career in software and talking to a lot of humans. I don't know actually why, but it's been easy for me to make friends in software. I felt like early on, I found my people and then I just got lucky and it's going okay so far. I'm very fortunate to have them.

MANDO: Well, we're fortunate to have you, bud. It's interesting that you say this, I mean, just like Slack for operators, DevOps folks, and Savvy folks, there’s been a lot of discussion as of late on the quality and reliability of one's personal network in things like finding new jobs, finding new opportunities, learning and growing in your career, and stuff like that.

It’s been interesting for me personally, because my experience, Jonan sounds a lot more like yours. I was very lucky to find some strong communities of folks that were very welcoming to me. I found my people pretty early on, but a lot of the folks in this other community that I'm tangentially related to seem to have had wildly different experience. I don't know if it's like a software development versus operator kind of thing and in-person versus not in-person kind of thing. It's something that struck me as weird.

JONAN: I think it varies by community, too. I've gone to a lot of conferences for a lot of different languages and depending on the conference and depending on the community, I think that you're going to have a different time. I think if I were starting over again, I would probably follow about the same path—attend small conferences with tight focuses and get to know a couple people early on who seem to be having a lot of those conversations, watch for a social butterfly and tag along for a bit and you'll get introduced.

MANDO: I'm pretty sure that I met Rein at a local Ruby conference here in Austin. Is that right, Rein?

REIN: Sounds right. Sure, yeah.

MANDO: But I think it was one of the first Lone Star Ruby Conferences where we met.

REIN: Yeah, that sounds right.

JONAN: Yeah. I think speaking of butterflies, I also met Rein, I think at one of the very first conferences I attended back in the day. Being welcomed and seeing the application of the Pac-Man rule, where when standing in a circle, you always leave a space for a guest to join and someone joins and you open up again in-person back in the Ruby community in that day was, I think inspiring for me; directed how I decided I was going to be when I showed up here. So thank you, Rein.

REIN: It's funny. I remember when I was new to the Ruby community and not sure what to do. I was new to programming, too. I started going to the local Austin meetup actually and the welcome I got as someone who didn't go to college for computer science, someone who wasn't a professional programmer, someone who was just thought it was cool and thought maybe that I could get paid to do it at some point in the future really made a big difference in my life.

JONAN: Jessica, how did you get started?

JESSICA: Good question. Before I answer it, I noticed that we're talking about Ruby conferences and Ruby programmers and indeed, I learned Ruby in order to go to Ruby conferences so that I could talk to Ruby people because part of the superpowers that that language gives you is friends or buds back in the day, but still is because the Ruby conferences are still super friendly back when we had them.

REIN: Yeah.

MANDO: Yeah, that's a really good point. I was a professional programmer for probably 5, or 6 years before I started doing Ruby programming. I would say that for those first 5, or 6 years, before I joined the Ruby community, I didn't feel at all like I had any kind of community or group of people.

JONAN: What do you think inspires that in a community? I think strong leadership is part of it. Matt has certainly received his share of criticism over the year, but I think that fundamentally, he was trying to build a place where people focused on people instead of the glyphs that we type into our little boxes. I think that matters. What else do you think there is to that?

REIN: We here at Greater Than Code also agree with that sentiment.


JONAN: Seems to align, doesn't it?

JESSICA: Yeah, that focus on people and Ruby was always about programmer joy. It was always about the experience; it was always about being happy and there wasn’t that expectation that the optimal thing to do is to go in a corner and type.

JONAN: Yeah, I think it's very fortuitous timing that we're actually discussing Ruby so much on the 24th, which was the day that Ruby was named 28 years ago on February 24th, Ruby became the name of this language. So happy birthday, Ruby.

JESSICA: Aw. Yeah, happy [inaudible].

JONAN: It really has changed my life. I have regularly, whenever I've seen Matt at a conference, got up to thank him for my house and my kids' college education. Before I got into software, I did a lot of things, but none of them would have brought me either of those. I spent probably 10 years in factories and hotels and casinos. I was a poker dealer for my last gig before I got into software and the number of opportunities that Ruby opened up for me, I can't as long as I live be too grateful; I'll be paying it forward till I die.

JESSICA: Yeah, but not the language it's the community—the people, the friends.

JONAN: Yeah, exactly. It's the community. It's the people who welcomed me with open arms and made sure that they were contributing to my growth in a far more altruistic sense than, I think is reasonable to expect. I mean, I had nothing to offer in return except a good conversation and high fives and hugs and they spent their time in their energy taking me around conferences and making sure I met people and it was great.

REIN: I remember when you first went to New Relic and you were first thinking about, “Hey, maybe I could do this developer relations thing.” What I remember about that, in addition to your obvious aptitude at talking to people about things, is the help that you got, the advice, the mentorship that you got from your friends in the community. I remember at the time being blown away by that; by how many people were willing to just take an hour of their time to talk to you about what it was like for them as a DevRel and things like that.

JONAN: Yeah, and I'm still very fortunate to have those people who have helped me build this team here. When I did the onboarding, I put together an elaborate onboarding process. I was able to hire all ten of the DevRel engineers here at the same time. We spent a week doing improv training and having speakers come in as guests and I was able to invite all of these DevRel leaders from over the years to give a perspective on what DevRel was in their eyes, but it is today and always has been clear to me that I am only here where I am by the grace of the communities that I was lucky enough to join.

I wonder if developer relations is changing; if it's at a different place than it was when I started out. I feel like certainly, pandemic times have affected things, but all that aside, the segment of the industry is still pretty small. There are only maybe 10,000 people doing this work around the world. It's hard to believe because we're quite loud, right? [chuckles] We’ve got a lot of stages. You see a lot of us, but there are many of us and I think that the maturity of the discipline, I guess, is progressing. We are developing ways to measure the effectiveness. Being able to prove the value to a company is going to change the game for us in a lot of ways.

REIN: Yeah. I would love to talk to you about that at length, [chuckles] but for the purposes of this podcast, let's say that you're someone who wants to start a program at a company that doesn't have directly tangible make numbers go up in a business sense value, but you believe that if you're given the chance to do it, that you can show them the value. How do you get that opportunity?

JONAN: That's a really good question. Kicking off a developer relations program is, I think it's the same as building most major initiatives within a company. If you had an idea for a software project that should be undertaken, or a major feature that mattered to you, it's about building allies early and often. Making sure that when you show up in that meeting to have the conversation with the decisionmaker, that nine out of ten people in that meeting already know about the plan. They have already contributed their feedback; they feel ownership of that plan and they're ready to support you so that you have the answer going in.

I think the mistake that I made often in my career was walking into that room and just pitching my idea all at once and then all of the questions that come out of that and all of the investigation that is necessary and the vetting appears as though this wasn't a very well-thought-out plan, but getting the people on board in the first place is vitally important. I think also you have a lot of examples to look through. You have a chance to talk about other programs and the success that they've brought, the companies where they started off.

It's not a thing that you need to start in a big way. You can put a couple of people on the conference speaking circuit, or a couple of people focusing part of their week on outreach and community growth and see where it takes you. If you start to see the numbers, it becomes a lot easier case to make.

REIN: You were talking about how you're excited about being able to make this value more tangible in the future. What do you think is the shift that's happening in DevRel that’s making that possible?

JONAN: So I think there are actually kind of a lot of factors here. One is that DevRel had a division almost of method where some people, probably by the leadership of their companies, were convinced that what they should be doing is talking about the product all of the time. You're there to talk about the product and evangelize the product and get people to use the product.

That is part of your role, but it shouldn't be, in my opinion, the primary role that you play. You should be there in the community participating. In the same way that Rein stood in that hallway and welcomed me to Ruby, I need to stand in that hallway and welcome newcomers to all the communities of which I'm part and in so doing, build that group of friends and build that understanding of the community and their needs.

I develop empathy for the developers using our product and, in the industry, generally and that's invaluable intelligence. I sometimes think of ourselves as these like operatives—we’re undercover marketing operatives out there in the developer world talking to developers and just understanding them and it at one point, took a turn towards, “Well, I'm just going to talk about New Relic all the time,” for example. It feels good to see all that content and see all those talks. However, you're only talking to your existing audience. No one is Googling “what exciting things can I do with New Relic,” “seven awesome New Relic tips.” No one's searching for that.

They're out there looking at things that are interesting. They want to click on a link on Twitter that is about some random topic. Running Kubernetes on Raspberry Pis and soldering things to Yoda dolls. That's the kind of stuff that I'm going to click on in my free time and in that spirit of play, that's where I want to be engaged and that's where I want to be engaging people.

So I think there was this turn. That's part of it and then in reaction to that, I think that the teams who were doing DevRel well and actually seeking out ways to lift up and support the communities and gather that information for their companies—and yes, certainly talk about their products when the situation warrants it. But I mean, how do you feel about that person who shows up to a conference wearing a New Relic hoodie and a New Relic shirt and a New Relic backpack and says “New Relic,” the first 10 minutes you meet them, a hundred times? But you're like, “Wow, this is a friend who is here for my best interests.”

MANDO: Right, or every presentation that they give is 30-minute infomercial for whatever company.

JONAN: Yeah. So I think people are headed away from that and in response to that, you saw a lot of success from the people who are doing DevRel well. In addition to that, it's becoming to measure these things in hopefully less creepy ways. We can track the people who show up to anything that we do now. If I have a Twitch stream, I can see how many people were there; Twitch provides good stats for me. I can pull those stats out via an API, I can connect them to my podcasting for the week, I can connect them my blogging for the week, and I can show that my audience is growing over time.

So whether or not it is valuable yet, we're building the machine right now. We're finding ways to measure those things and that will allow us to adjust the content in a direction that is popular and that’s really just what we're trying to do. We're trying to give the people what they want. We want to talk about the things that people want to hear about.

I want to talk about the fun stuff, too, but I'm very surprised sometimes when I learn that hey, nobody wants to hear about my 3D printer API project with Ruby. They want to watch me solder a Raspberry Pi to a Yoda doll and that's great. I'm down for both of those things, I really don't care. But being able to adjust your content towards the sort of thing that is going to interest your community is really valuable obviously to developer relations and we're getting better at it. We have more data than we've had before and not in a way that, to me, feels like that is violating people's personal privacy.

REIN: Where do you think that DevRel ought to fit in a company's structure? Is it part of revenue? Is it a sales adjunct? Like, what is the correct role of DevRel?

J: I don't think it's part of revenue. I think that it leads to that. But in developer relations, we talk about orbits a lot instead of funnels. We talk about bringing people into the orbit. You generate content so that you generate gravity and you move people in the orbits closer to the company so, you can talk to them more and help them with their problems.

When you tie that to revenue, it changes the goal. Is the goal to be out there and help, or is the goal to get the cogs into the machine and continue turning them until they produce coins? When you tie developer relations to revenue, you become trapped in this cycle because look, we’re hackers. If you give me a number you want me to hit, then I can hit the number. But am I hitting the number in the most useful way? Am I generating long-term value for the company? Almost certainly not. 

It's like the leader that you bring in. So like, “Hey, revenues are up because I fired customer support. Yes, all of them.” In the short-term, there's going to be some great numbers. You just believe yourself and entire team. Long-term, you’re the new Xfinity with the lowest customer support ratings that have ever existed for a company.

So I think that actually the majority live under marketing right now and I think it makes sense. I think that developer relations people do themselves a disservice by not understanding marketing and understanding the role they play there. I actually think it belongs under its own organization. But if you try and think about that means from a corporate hierarchy perspective, that means that there's probably a C-level who is responsible only for community growth and C-levels by design, they have numbers, they have dollars that they are bringing in.

So until we get to a point where we can prove that the dollars are coming in because of our work, there's not going to be a chief developer relations officer at any company. But give me 5, 10 years, maybe I'll be the first CDRO.

MANDO: It's interesting to hear you. I didn't know that they were usually grouped under marketing, but that sounds right. In my most recent life, I worked at two different companies who did a combination of social media management, analytics platforms, and stuff like that. A majority of our customers at both of these places were in the marketing org and they were hitting the same kinds of things that you're talking about that developer relations groups are hitting. They're trying to provide numbers for the kinds of stuff that they're doing, but there's that inherent, not contradiction, but discord between trying to give customers what they want, but have it also not be infomercials.

JONAN: Yeah, and I think that that is a tough spot for DevRel teams. I think no matter where you stand in the organization, you need to be very close friends with marketing. They have a tremendous amplifying effect for the work that I do; what I want to do is produce content and I am uniquely suited to do that. I’m a person who can show up on the podcast and wax philosophical about things like developer relations. I enjoy that. I would like it if that was my whole day.

What you need to try and design is a world where it is your whole day. There are people who are better at that than you are; that's why you're there as a team. Your job is to get up and talk about the thing, explain technical concepts in easily digestible ways—a process called vulgarization, I guess, a more commonly used word in French. But I think it's very interesting that we vulgarize things.

I mostly just turn things into swear words, but the marketing organization puts a huge amount of wind at your back where I can come onto a podcast and spend an hour talking words and then the podcast is edited, tweets go out, images are made and it's syndicated to all the various platforms. If you can get that machine helping you produce your work in the background, you don't have to know all of the content creation pieces that most of us know. Most of us are part-time video/audio/any content platform, we mostly do it ourselves and taking the support of your organization where you can get it is going to be tremendously helpful in growing the team.

REIN: So if you can't tell, this is a personally relevant topic for and I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about the short-term pressures of there might be for DevRel orgs to produce numbers that the business likes and how you balance that with your long-term vision? What's the story you tell leadership that's effective there?

JONAN: That's a really good question. So I talk about this developer orbit as being almost pre-funnel work, that there are people that we have within the company who are real good at turning an email address into a dollar and turning a dollar into 10. There are people who have spent 20 years learning how to do that thing.

What I'm really good at is getting people to care in the first place and that's my job here. I describe it sometimes like an awareness campaign in marketing; this is the thing that you put the money on the billboards all over San Francisco and people spend millions and they'll go and get VC events, spend every dollar, making every billboard look like their logo because it works.

Because just making people aware whether or not they like the billboard, making people aware that you exist is a first step and I would rather that people complain about our product and complain about our company on Twitter than just not think of us because then you're irrelevant. You're not even part of the conversation. Being able to shift sentiment in the community and being able to hear people, genuinely hear people. It doesn't matter to them, when they're angry on Twitter, that they're factually incorrect. Wrong answer. It's your fault. Show up and just address it, “Hey, that sucks. I hate that. Wow, I'm sorry that happened. Let me see if I can fix it,” and go talk to the product team. So I talk about it in that way as this kind of pre-funnel work.

And then I talk about how we are measuring it and where we measure it as a team is this care orbit where we have a curiosity and awareness step that work in tandem, where people either have seen the words New Relic, or they've seen the logo, and this is awareness. Or they are curious and they've actually clicked on a thing; they've actually followed that down the rabbit hole. And sometimes, they may be aware because we sponsored a conference one time; they've seen us, they know that we exist, but they have no idea what we do.

So if they are curious, they're getting to a step where they could buy a free word association exercise, connect New Relic and observability, for example. And when they're doing research, I don't think there's a whole lot of interactivity we have there as a team there.

When I go and research product – think about how you'd buy a developer product. I hear someone say something three times, tail scale. I've been seeing a lot of conversation about tail scale lately. So I hear someone say tail scale three times and then I think to myself, wow, I should probably care about that thing because it's relevant to my career and I don't want to fall behind. In a couple of years, this may be the thing that everyone is using for whatever it does. I don't even know what it does. I better go figure it out and then I go and I do my research and, in that step, I'm reading documentation and I might have run across a blog post, but I'm certainly not watching webinars. I'm just not going to be in that step.

And then there's entry. I say entry instead of sign-up because I just want people close to us. I want them to enter the orbit. I want them to be bought in on the dream of the community and hopefully, we've expressed our values in a way that makes it clear that this is the place for them and we're talking about values and not features of a product. Think about how Apple has been successful. Apple is selling a dream. Apple's throwing a woman throws a sledgehammer through the screen in front of people and that's the dream. That's what you're actually buying is this identity, this tribe.

I think companies more often end up creating these bulleted lists of checkmarks. I saw one the other day that was probably 50 items long. Here are the 50 things that we do and look at those 2 checkmarks. Our competitor doesn't have those. Gotcha! I don't care. Prove to me that you value the things that I value. Sell me on the purpose and that's the kind of thing that we're really good about talking about.

And if you can demonstrate that in a boardroom, then your program will be fun, but you've got to measure it, you've got to show that people are making progress, and you've got to show growth over time. “See, look, we may not be pointing the megaphone in the right direction right now, but it's growing. We're getting a better megaphone. Is that enough for now?”

And then we can direct over time, our contact direction towards the place that is being most successful for us as a company and hey, maybe it's I just talk about New Relic all the time, but I'm willing to bet it won't be and when the time comes, I'll have data to prove it.

REIN: In the meantime, how do you know whether what you're doing is working? What are your feedback loops look like?

JONAN: My feedback loops, our feedback loops as a team right now, we know what we're doing is working when our total audience size is growing. This is kind of a sketchy metric because there are different values to different audiences.

For example, Twitch versus Twitter. If I'm going to follow on Twitter, then I follow on my personal account or I follow on the New Relic account because those both provide a place for me to use my voice to engage people. It's a much lower value engagement platform, though from a one follow perspective. 30,000 people I tweeted in front of, 5 will click or 5 will care about the content and that's great and maybe I'm really good at Twitter. I'm not, if I fail, I don't spend as much time on it as I should, but maybe I can refocus my content. I get more via the platform.

If you look at something like Twitch, however, someone follows me on Twitch, that means that every time I go live on my stream, they get a notification on every single one of their devices by default. I mean, you can turn it off, but what's the point in following someone, if you're going to turn off the notification; you want the notification. You're saying, “This is the content that I am here for, watching Jonan solder on this silly thing or teach people how to write Ruby from scratch. That's the stuff I signed up for. That's why I'm here on Twitch and I want to be a part of that.” Those have a kind of a higher value.

So there is something to weighted consideration across the platforms. But first of all, is your audience grow, just generally? Are you getting a bigger megaphone and more importantly, how are you doing it and moving people from “I'm aware that you exist” to curiosity, “I'm investigating you”? And that's a step when they're aware they've done something like click on a Twitter profile. It's a hard case to make that if they click on my Twitter profile and they see that it says New Relic, that they will have no idea what New Relic does. I have now at least made it into their brain somehow and they will say, “Oh, I've heard that name before.”

But the next step of getting people over to curiosity, let's say that we successfully get 10% of our audience over there and 1% of our total audience size, this quarter actually ended up creating accounts and that's where things get real hard because companies tend to have really entrenched MarTech, measuring marketing technology, measuring, and Google analytics setups.

And it's hard to bind that piece together to be like, “That signup? That came from us.” We did that and you need to stand up and say it loudly within a company because everyone else is. Everyone else is real excited to take credit for your work, believe me. You’ve got to stand up and prove it, stand up and say, “DevRel did this. DevRel was growing the company.” We're doing good things for the community. We're helping people understand how to use our product. They're caring more about us because we care about them first and here are the numbers to show it.

Did that answer your question? I tend to ramble.

REIN: Yeah, no it did. Can we do a thing? Can we do a little improv thing, Jonan?


REIN: Okay. So I am a chief revenue officer and I hear your pitch and what I say is, “Okay, so I get the DevRel increases engagement. So how much are you committing to improve conversion? How many percentage points are you guaranteeing that you'll deliver in the next quarter?”

JONAN: In the first quarter of our existence, I'm going to go with none. I would say in the second quarter of our existence, we will have developed a baseline to compare against and I can guarantee that we will be growing the audience by 10% month over month, over our previous audience size. As the audience grows, it is very directly correlated to numbers that you care about like, signups. If I talked to a 1,000 people, I get 10 signups. If I talk to 10,000 people, I get a 100 and that's the baseline. I mean, that's just the math of it. And if I'm doing a great job, maybe I get 15.

So if we want to actually do the math, give me a quarter to do the math. Give me a quarter to establish a baseline because I don't know where our company stands in the market right now. If I'm starting off here at this company and you're Google, I'm not going to have a hard time raising awareness, am I? I think most people have heard of you. If you're Bob's awesome startup and you don't have any awareness out there, then we have some different things to focus on and our numbers are going to look different. We're have a slower ramp.

But if you're asking me to commit to where you are right now, then I need numbers first. I need to be able to build the machine, I need to be able to measure it, and once I have those metrics in place, I can tell you what those goals should be and we can set them together and when we exceed them, we will adjust upwards because we are aggressive by nature. We like to win at these things. We like to be good at it because for us, it means that we're doing a better job of loving our people.

That's what success means by the numbers. The numbers that to you mean money. If we're doing DevRel right, to me, they mean that I am living with purpose. So yes, I can measure those things, but you’ve got to give me time to get a baseline, or the numbers that I make up will be meaningless and we'll be optimizing for the wrong things. How'd I do?

REIN: I’d buy it for a dollar.

JONAN: Yes! Sold!

MANDO: Yeah, I believe you. So tangentially related; you talked about Twitter and Twitch as two platforms that you're using to engage with prospective folks and grow and welcome the community. I was wondering if there were other places, other things that you use either personally, or as part of your DevRel work to do that same kind of stuff, or if you have specific types of interactions for specific different types of networks?

JONAN: Yeah, absolutely. I had left one of our primary platforms off of there, which was YouTube because we're still headed in a direction where we can make that a lightweight process of contributing our work to YouTube.

So our strategy, as a team, is to head for platforms that offer two-way engagement. I think that in our generation, we've got a lot of criticism for being the Nintendo generation. “Oh, you were raised by television; you have no attention span.” I have no attention span for TV news. I have no attention span for this one-way oration that has been media consumption my entire life because I live in a world where I have “choose your own adventure” media.

Where I can join a Twitch channel and I can adjust the direction of the conversation. Where I can get on Twitter and have a real conversation with famous people, because I am interesting and engaging and responding to them in intelligent ways, hopefully. When you tweet poop emojis at people in your software community as your only game, it's not as likely to drive engagement, but they're very engaging platforms and so, we're aiming for things like that.

YouTube being the possible exception. YouTube is still levelling up there. I'm not sure if you find out on the YouTube comments section lately, but it's a little bit wild in there. It's getting better; they're working on it. And those are the kinds of platforms that I want to be a part of.

So as far as new things go, I'm going to go with not Clubhouse. Clubhouse has one, got some accessibility stuff to work out, but two, in my opinion, stuck in a trap where they're headed towards that one-way conversation. Anyway, it may be a conversation like this podcast, which I love doing, but our audience isn't given an opportunity to respond in real-time and to drive the direction. Clubhouse is eventually going to turn into a similar platform where you have a hundred people in a room. Can a hundred people speak at once in the same conversation? I don't think so. So there's the accessibility piece – [overtalk]

JESSICA: In text!

JONAN: In text, they could.

JESSICA: Yeah, that’s the beauty of the combination.

REIN: Clubhouse needs to innovate by providing a text version of their application.

JONAN: Or when we get NLP, when we get natural language processing to the point where those kinds of things can become accessible conversations automatically, then it's different and people can contribute in their own ways. You can have a realistic sounding robot voice who’d read your thoughts aloud for the group. But beyond those, beyond Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, we're checking out TikTok a little bit, that's kind of fun content. It's a good way for us to reuse clips and highlights from our Twitch stuff without having to go through the old process of creating the new content and similarly, for YouTube.

If I get on my high horse and I'm waxing philosophical about why you should use instance variables instead of class variables, I can put that piece out and I can make a YouTube video about why you should use instance variables instead of fostered. That kind of content does well on that platform, but you need to consider the platform and I would say, choose a few and focus there, look for the ones that actually have high engagement.

Discord is another good place to hang out, love hanging on Discord. And then you've got to be blogging too, but blog in a place where you can own the conversation and make it about what matters to you as a community. We're real focused on learning and teaching, helping people become content creators, and focusing on the quality of software, generally. We're data people. We want to be talking about that.

So we have our own community on therelicans.com where we talk about that. That's just a instance of forum. It's just like dev.to, but we own it and we get to period the content a little bit in a direction that is valuable. You want to keep them loose when you're going in community so that you can let the community take shape as it grows into those values. But that's my recommendation for platforms.

MANDO: Right on. Thanks, man. It's funny that you bring up TikTok—not at all related how I've recently fallen down and continuing to fall down the TikTok rabbit hole and out of all the different types of content I see on TikTok, it is tech content that I have seen almost zero of. It’s just like, I don't know if there's just like a dearth of the content or if the algorithm hasn't set stuff up to me.

JONAN: Yeah.

MANDO: The algorithm is super good about all other kinds of things that I'm super into like, I'm inundated with cute dogs and goats and [laughs] you name it, but I don't know. Maybe the algorithm is telling me something about myself that...

JONAN: No, I mean, you just have to click on it.

JESSICA: Or something about tech content.

JONAN: I always just cause answer. Yeah. Jessica, you have thoughts on TikTok?

JESSICA: Well, TikTok is really cool but it t's just takes a ton of work to make a piece of content that tight, especially around something technical.

JONAN: Yeah. I think that's a good point, actually, that it's not as easy as it looks ever producing a piece of content. You may watch a video for 2 to 3 minutes. I once had a 5-minute lightning talk, but I did 65 takes on it. it took me maybe 20 hours to just record the thing, not counting the 100 hours of research I put into the actual content.

So depending on the piece of content and how polished you’re going to make it – TikTok’s initiating platform, though.

Look up Emily Kager. If you go watch Emily Kager’s TikToks, you'll head down the right path, I suspect into the good tech ones.

MANDO: Awesome. Thanks, man.

JONAN: I really like the ones that are explaining algorithms with M&Ms. That kind of video, I like those ones a lot. Here's how databases work under the hood. This is actually what in the endgame using toys or whatever is handy. Cats, I saw someone that worked with their cats and the cats are running all about it. [chuckles] It was fun.

MANDO: Oh, that's awesome and that's the kind of stuff that, I mean, I don't know what the time limit is on TikTok stuff, but our TikToks, if they seem to be about a minute to a minute and a half, it's not like you could do any kind of in-depth deep dive on something, but something like describe what Kubernetes with Legos, or something. It seems like you could fit some sort of bite-size explanations, or a series of definitions, right?

JONAN: Yeah.

MANDO: I mean, there's someone, whose videos I see all the time, who does these videos on obscure Lord of the Rings facts. She'll describe this intricate familial family tree of beings whose definitions have spanned not only the Silmarillion, but other – and she fits it all in a minute and a half. It's fascinating and it's amazing to watch. I'm sure, like you were saying, the stuff she's been researching and she knows this stuff. She spent probably years and years and user for life gathering this knowledge and gathering the ability to distil it down into a minute and a half.

JONAN: Yeah, and I mean, it's not even – look, I think a lot of people have the perception, especially starting out creating content, that you have to be the expert. You don't have to be the expert. You just have to do the work, go read about the thing, then talk about the thing. You're actually better suited to talk about it when you've just learned it, by far. Because you know the pain, you have a fresh memory of the pain and the parts of that API you're describing that were difficult to understand and once you become a Kubernetes expert, those things are lost to you. They become opaque; you can't find the parts that were terrible because the memory of the pain goes away. So TikTok is a good place to explore with that kind of stuff in a short-form piece of content.

I have a couple more recommendations for you that I'll drop for you in the show notes, too about the people on Twitter—@theannalytical is great at that thing, @cassidoo, and @laurieontech. I'll put them all for you in the show notes. But there are, there are some people you can emulate early on and if you're just starting out, don't be afraid to get up there on the stage. The bottom line is in life in general, we're all just making it up as we go along and you can make it up, too. What have you really got to lose? You're not doing it today. Tomorrow, you would still not be doing it if you don't try.

REIN: Continuing with my program of using this podcast to ask Jonan to help me with my personal problems, do you have any thoughts about internal developer relations? Or let me ask this a different way. There are companies that are big enough that there are teams that have never met other teams and there are teams that produce platforms that are used by application development teams and so on. What are your thoughts about building more cohesive and engaged developer communities within a company?

JONAN: Yes, do it. I've considered this a huge part of what developer relations needs to be doing generally. Binding those departments together and finding the connections for people and advocating the use of internal software, those internal tooling teams. This is why a lot of DevRel people have a background in internal tooling, myself included. It's just fun to be helping out your friends. That's why you get into DevRel. You like helping your friends and developers are your friends and they're my favorite people.

The point that I was making about internal developer relations is yeah, you should be doing it already as part of a DevRel team, but there are actually dedicated teams starting to form. Lyft, I think was one of the first people I heard of doing this where there's an entire team of people. Because the bottom line is DevRel is a very, very busy job. Because you don't have this marketing machine behind you working very effectively, you're probably doing a lot of the production work of your role anyway and it takes a full day to do a podcast well, in many cases.

So you're losing a day every time you spend an hour on a microphone. But if you're doing that and then you're going to conferences and then you're writing blog posts and then you're having the usual buffet of meetings and everyone wants to talk to you all the time to just check in and sync and see how we can collaborate; we need forms for that.

When people come to me and they want us to speak at their event, or they want us to collaborate on a piece of conduct, I have a form for that and once a week, the entire team sits down and we review all of those in a content review meeting and that guarantees that person, the highest quality of feedback for their project, all 10 of us, 11 of us counting myself, are going to look at that and give them the answers they need and we have guaranteed timeline for them. We have a deal that we will respond to you by Friday 2:00 PM Pacific if you give us the thing by Thursday morning, every single week like clockwork and that encourages the rest of the organization to engage you the way that makes sense for you as a team, instead of just little random ad hoc pieces.

So yes, it should be done internally. You need to make space for it. If you are doing external DevRel, too, but it's already part of your job and having a dedicated team actually makes a ton of sense. I would love to see more of that.

REIN: Let's say that I am a technical lead, or a senior developer and there's this thing that my team has been doing and I really wish the rest of the company knew about it because I think it could help them. What should I do?

JONAN: You should find marketing people. You're looking for the internal comms team in your marketing organization. There are people whose whole job is to communicate those things to the rest of the company; they're very good at it and they can tell you about all those avenues. We all have that internal blog thing, whatever. They're all pretty terrible, honestly, especially in larger companies—nobody reads them, that’s the problem—but they can help you get engagement on those things, help them be shared in the right channels, in your chat platform. That's the people I would work out to.

There are humans who are real good at helping you talk about your work and they're in marketing and it's a difficult place to engage, but look for your internal comms person. Failing that, make sure that your project is on point before you take it to people. If you don't have a read me that is at a 110%, that's your first step. Make sure that people understand how they can get involved and how to use the project and try it over and over and over again from scratch. Break it intentionally and see how painful it is to fix. Make it just the most user-friendly product you possibly can before you take it out there and you'll get better.

MANDO: This is something also that not just techniques and senior engineers should be thinking about management should be thinking about this for their entire teams and the people that they manage and lead. Because if you can provide visibility for the stuff that your people are working on and have worked on throughout the year, when you, as a manager, go to your management when salary reviews and unit reviews come up, it's much easier to make the case that your team mates or your people on your team should get the salary increases that you're trying to get them. If they have had the visibility for their work. If you can say, “Oh, remember this big thing,” and you can point to the blog post and you can point to the Slack conversation where 10 people congratulated Sam on her upgrade for Costco or whatever it is. You know what I mean?

JONAN: Yeah, and you have to talk loud here.

MANDO: Yeah.

JONAN: You’ve got to scream about it. Look, people are only going to hear 25% of what you say anyway, and it feels like bragging, but overcommunicate and often, especially people in management. I mean, really think about how many bulleted lists go across a manager's desk and how you want yours to matter. Better make it longer and more relevant and as detailed as possible so that some portion of it actually makes it through to their consciousness and they can communicate it on there's superiors. Superiors is a terrible way to say that; they're managers.

MANDO: They're managers, right? Yeah. This is something that I learned as I was going through management and something that was never taught to me and it's something that I advocate really strongly about. But if you're managing people, if you're leading people and you're not advocating for them and for their work, like you're saying, as loudly as possible to the point of possibly being annoying, you're straight up not doing your job.

JONAN: Yeah, you are. I learned early on in my career that the loudest people were the ones getting the promotions and having the career success, whether or not they were good, or they were actually contributing things that were value. I watched someone merge 600 lines of untested code against the objections of his coworkers and get a promotion about it. That's about conversations; it's not about quality.

REIN: Yeah, I also think there are things that companies can be doing to make this easier. So you can have a weekly show and tell email.


REIN: You can let people pitch stuff to it, you can track engagement with it, and see whether people are getting value out of it and try to make it better.

JONAN: And that's exactly it: you have to have a feedback mechanism so that you can adjust the direction of your content. We actually have plans, when we get our feet under us a bit, to do a morning news show like of us had in high school. Just 5 minutes in the morning where we take a question a day and explain it.

There are a lot of people who work at our companies who have no idea what a virtual machine is, or at what layer it operates, and how it differs from a container. Telling them the difference between LXC and VMs, that's a thing that DevRel people do well. So we can actually explain, I can take Kubernetes and I can explain it with M&M's in 5 minutes, and then I can invite people to come and talk to the devil to come hang out in the Slack channel. There's a Q&A form. We answer one of these every morning, maybe your question will be next.

By the way, here's some fun and interesting stuff that we're up to this week, come check it out. You can find this all on therelicans.com and we've got the internal page over here, and we've got this over here. And then you just have an opportunity daily to communicate this, what feels like a waterfall of work coming out of your team, but getting those daily touchpoints, or maybe weekly to start is a good place to go.

MANDO: I love the idea of morning announcements, especially as for specific teams. You assume that a certain size of an org to be able to do this kind of stuff. The place that I'm at right now, there's 4 of us total, so we're not going to be doing this kind of thing. But my last gig, there were thousands of people who worked there and I was in charge of the operations team.

JONAN: I actually think the morning news show is a really good way to do that, but you're right that in a smaller team, it's not as relevant. I would argue however, that you're doing it anyway, because with 4 people, you're able to communicate everything that you're all working on all the time.

MANDO: That is exactly what happens.

JONAN: And you don't have to scale.

MANDO: Yeah.

JONAN: But it's nice to be bought in on the dream and to feel like you're living your life with purpose and work is a huge part of our lives whether we like it or not. We live in this system and we get to choose every day. I choose to live a life that feels purposeful. I choose to seek meaning because I want to wake up in the morning and be excited to come to work. I want to help lift up the rest of my team so that we're out there making more developers who get to turn this into their dream, which we can't know or predict. I just want to help those people get over the line because I now have desperate it feels on the other side of the fence.

I mean, I worked 16-hour days for several years at 5 different jobs and I came home and the world was telling me to live myself up by my bootstraps. You’ve got to be kidding me. That's your American dream? Come on.

MANDO: Yeah, I got no more bootstraps.

JONAN: Yeah. I want you politician to go and spend 3 hours getting a jug of milk that you pay twice as much as it's necessary for it and have to take two buses to find. I want you to have that experience, how desperate and time consuming and expensive it is to be poor in this country and then lift yourself up by your bootstraps. Because it's not a thing.

We have a finite amount of motivation, of will in our day to spend and you've got to make the room. You've got to pay yourself first in that. Get up in the morning and write some code and then go exhaust yourself so your employer gets shortchanged. Your fourth job of the day, they're going to get a little bit less of your time and energy because you gave it to yourself first. That's how you're going to build a wedge to get into tech and I want to be there to help people do that thing. That's what I want to spend the rest of my life doing is making more developers and supporting them as that grow.

I mean, I can see dystopia from here. The tech is headed towards a place.

MANDO: Oh, yeah.

JONAN: We have 1% of people on earth able to program today and we're about to double the global access to high-speed internet. When Starling comes on board – they're launching 70 satellites a month now. When Starlight comes on board, everyone on earth will have access to hopefully low-cost, high-speed internet access. We will double the global audience for many of our services. That's going to be real bad for the world if that 1% who can program and control most of the money in power on the internet becomes half a percent. Historically, that has not worked out great for humanity. So we need to start loosening that up.

We need to make more developers yesterday by the thousands, by the millions. We need more people writing this code and helping us to turn this industry into a place that we want to be because the model culture is not going to make it. We will extinct us. We will eliminate humanity whether only the soul or in reality, if we continue down this path where we have a whole bunch of people collected in Valley somewhere, who are defining the rest of the planet. Facebook had no small part in recent revolutions around the world. That's tech. That's us. Whether you want to own it or not, you contributed to the culture and the software that built that monster.

REIN: And the other side to making more developers is not having work that chews up and spits out their desiccated husks at a profoundly troubling rate.

JONAN: It's true. It’s absolutely true and I think that that's equally, if not more important, that we're not feeding more to the machine. We have toxic spaces in our companies and in our communities and we define them. We need to change them. We need to create better ones. That's, I think a better option, even because you're not going to change that many people's minds. I think that especially this late in the game, for many people—people who have had success with their bad opinions—they continue to spout those bad opinions and believe them.

Make a new space. Make a new space and prove it. Show your community, the numbers. If you have another meetup, because the one you're going to has had 18 months of 18 white men speaking and mostly the same people, then make a new meetup and see if the community likes it better and I bet you, they will. I bet you, they'll come. If you build it, they will come. But we got to do the work to make these places better before we just bring people in and watch them suffer.

I can't do that anymore. I can't be that person in the world. For a while, I stopped speaking at code schools and bootcamps because I felt like a monster because I knew what I was setting these people up for. I was looking around tech and seeing the poison and I was bringing people, who I genuinely cared about, to the slaughter and I couldn't do it anymore. But I think that now I can do along the way is advise them how to avoid it, what red flags to look out for, how to find the good parts in between, and that's a better approach. It enables me to feel good about my work.

MANDO: Yeah. Building up that, I don't want to jump us to reflections yet, but the thing that I keep coming back to is the desire to help your friends.

JONAN: Yeah.

MANDO: And for me, personally, something that I've been struggling with for a long time now and it's really crystallized over the past, I don't know, year or so, is seemingly how few people have that desire. Maybe not have the desire, I think it's natural to have a desire to want to help your friends. But maybe there's so few people who see everybody as someone who is potentially your friend and someone that you want to help. It's like, they'd be willing to help the person that they hang out with every weekend. But they're going to step over the homeless guy who is standing in front of Target while they walk in. You know what I mean?

JONAN: Yeah, and I don't think that they're bad people. Like, I’m not actually a big believer in bad people; I think that there are good misguided people. I don't think there are a whole lot of humans on this earth, with the exception of maybe a handful, who wake up in the morning to do evil. Who wakes up and is like, “Man, today, I'm going to make some real bad days for those around me.” They mostly, I think, believe that they're contributing too good to the world and many of them are very misguided in those attempts, to be clear. There are people actively contributing harm every day, but they don't see it as such.

So we have that piece of the conversation and the other part, where I just fail to have empathy for other people, is probably in part about not having good experiences. When I reached out to other people, having a form of attachment in my life, maybe when I was younger, that was traumatic for me. That taught me that I could not trust the world to catch me when I fall; that I couldn't trust other people will be there for me and to show up. Because of that, I had to rely on myself and here I go again on my own.

This song I'm off on this walk and it's just me and I need to look out for myself because nobody else will. It's the hurt people hurt people. We saw a church sign when I was driving with my son when he was quite young and he said, “Hurt people hurt people. Why do they want to hurt people so bad?” So internally, in our family, this became a chant: hurt people hurt people instead of hurt people hurt people conversation.

But I think the part where we are perpetually enacting our traumas on those around us, because as a society, we've decided that addressing your own traumas, getting your own crap out of the way first is somehow a taboo subject. Like, just go to therapy, people. We just have to put mandatory therapy for people. I want to see a government program that institutes mandatory therapy for people. I'm sure the people will love that.

“Oh sure, everyone gets to see a doctor now. I bet you don't want people to die of preventable diseases either?” No, I don't. I want people to get over their collective trauma and stop harming other people because you were harmed and it takes work. Because you got to do the work if you're going to make the world a better place.

MANDO: Yeah, I don't know. I personally feel like it's difficult for me when it seems as though the trauma is ongoing. Without this turning into my own therapy session, it makes me sad to see how different I've become over the past year. Is it a year ago? I would've said the same thing that you did, Jonan where I didn't believe that most people were awful monsters hellbent on destroying me and everyone that I love. I don't know so much that I believe that anymore.

JONAN: I think

JESSICA: They don't think of themselves as monsters.

MANDO: Right, right.

JESSICA: They may be hellbent on destroying you because they really think that's somehow good are wrong.

MANDO: Right. At the end of the day, you're absolutely right, Jessica. How much of that matters? How much of that distinction matters?

JESSICA: It does matter.

JONAN: I think it does.

JESSICA: It matters in what we do about it.

JONAN: Yeah.

JESSICA: And I don't want to destroy them either. I do want to segregate them off in their own little world.

JONAN: Yeah. I love that.

MANDO: For me, the ratios make it work in the other direction.

JESSICA: Like you want to segregate off in your own little world?

MANDO: Well, just that there's way more of them.

JESSICA: Oh, okay.

MANDO: And so, putting them off someplace would never happen.

JONAN: Yeah. I think it's worth noting here that I am a large loud white man speaking from a place of tremendous privilege in that I maybe have experienced less of that “You don't get to exist.” Like, “You're not welcomed here in life in general.” Not even a maybe but that like over my lifetime, very few people have come out to me and just said like, “I wish that you weren't a thing. I wish that you as a human didn't exist on this earth, that you were never born, that your parents were never born.” I've not had that experience. I mean, I have when I've received somehow particular malice from someone usually as a result of my ridiculous jokes.

JESSICA: But then it’s personal which yeah.

JONAN: But then it’s personal and that’s [inaudible]. People who don't even know me. So yeah, I do. I speak from that position, but I think that this is another – gosh, I'm really not trying to be like let's all come together and have a conversation person because some are too far gone from that. But I think that I'm not ready to give up on humanity as a whole just yet, as much as I'm inclined to. I might be ready to give up on the United States, looking into options overseas.


REIN: I think for me, the reason this distinction is so important is because when someone claims that there's just evil in the world and these chaotic forces, it decontextualizes people's behavior from ideology, from culture, from socialization, from the worldviews that they have that mediate these behaviors.

So I think it's important to understand that people aren't just evil. People have certain worldviews and ideologies and that those manifest in these behaviors.

JONAN: And that we built the –

JESSICA: Which meant the ideology is evil.

JONAN: It makes the ideologies evil.

JESSICA: Yeah, which causes the behavior of the people to be evil. That if – [overtalk]

JONAN: And these are the systems that we build and perpetuate.

JESSICA: Right, exactly and if we keep blaming the people and saying, “There are evil people,” then we will never fix the system.

JONAN: Exactly.

REIN: The most profound example of this I am aware of and if this is too heavy, we can cut it out of the show is [laughter] when Jordan Peterson claimed that the Nazi's final solution was because they were just evil, chaotic forces. In fact, their worldview demanded it. Their ideology demanded it.

JESSICA: Yeah, there was nothing chaotic about that.

JONAN: No, it was pretty organized.


MANDO: Thanks, IBM.

JONAN: Yeah.

JESSICA: Did you say IBM?

MANDO: I said thanks IBM for their efforts.

JONAN: And Bosch and every other company, right?

MANDO: Yeah.

JONAN: I mean, the world would not be able to sustain its current population without the work of Bosch creating nitrogen out of the air and also, then the Nazis used it to get gunpowder when they had no access.

So we have a lot of those kinds of systems that we've built over the years and that's absolutely a part of it. You talked about the industries that are involved across these bridges. You don't get to show up to work, team and just be like, “I don't actually care about the impact that I have on humans. I care about the impact that I have on this graph.” You can't be that person anymore if we're going to make it and you can't walk around and point at those people and be like, “Yeah, they were fundamentally flawed from birth.” Whatever that thing means to you, you can't just say like, “Yeah, that person's evil. They probably had bad parenting.” Yeah, maybe they did. But I know a lot of people who had bad parenting or no parenting and turned out okay because they fought their way up that mountain. They overcame it.

JESSICA: And they found friends, it helps them.


JESSICA: It's not, “Fight your way up the mountain, pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” No, it's, “Keep looking for a better place,” and by place, I mean friend group.

JONAN: Yes. Surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you and care about the things that you care about. I wish I'd learned that earlier in my life. Man, I hung out with some people who had different values than I did over the years and I changed my life just by finding a good friend.

JESSICA: Yeah. Because we are social animals and we really are the people we're closest to.

MANDO: Yeah, absolutely.

JESSICA: That's what makes sense with us. That is the world we live in. What was that John Gall quote from earlier? “I respect facts, but I live in impressions.” Especially the default appropriate behavior is whatever the people around us do ad that is what we will fall back to without active intervention and we only have so much of that willpower to combat in a day.

REIN: Oh, I've got a new thing for a fact that I just read. So this is from Yurugu: An African-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior and there's a diagram where reality minus meaningfulness equals facts.

MANDO: I’d buy that.

JESSICA: I mean, okay. But reality very broadly because when we're looking at more than what's just in front of us, it comes to us as facts and stories, but stories can lead us either way. Oh, manipulated facts can, too. But we still have to look for facts in order to realign our vision of reality and meaning with something bigger than we can personally see.

MANDO: Have y'all seen the movie In the Mouth of Madness by John Carpenter, back from the 90s? It's a super good kind of thriller horror movie, kind of Lovecraftian in the ancient ones are coming to take over and stuff like that.

But it's about this guy who, he's an author. His name is Sutter Cane. He's like the new Stephen King; super prolific and writes these kind of horrifying, terrifying books that are just sweeping the zeitgeist. And then something changes and it seems as though his books start affecting the people who are reading his books, not in the [inaudible] was a genius, I’ve been affected by it, but making them bleed from their eyes and go crazy affected.

So the movie plays around with these ideas of facts and reality as something that is mostly shared and understood as opposed to something that is concrete and stands alone by itself. It's super freaky and really good. My daughter and I just watched it again a couple of days ago so it's kind of fresh on the mind, but I highly recommend it. I think it's on Amazon Prime.

JONAN: I think I like this discussion because it speaks to weaving the facts into the narrative of your life. You need to leave the reality that you're presented with and the reality that people share with you, the facts into the story that is you develop that shared story we're all telling together.

REIN: Yeah. You need a Dirk gently belief in the fundamental interconnectedness of things sort of thing. Another thing is diagram is that phenomena minus interconnecting context equals objects. So the whole point, well, for me, what I take to be the point is you have the fact, but you have to understand them in context.

JESSICA: Yeah, the connections. And the weaving is really important because we can't understand anything top down. We can't understand anything bottom up, not fully. You have to weave back and forth.

REIN: By the way, Lewontin in his biology, his ideology lectures, talks about how the mechanistic approach to understanding the world didn't work, but the holistic approach and isolation didn't work either. So Jessica, exactly what you're talking about that you need both.


JONAN: All right. Reflections time. What do we do for reflections?

MANDO: I'll go first. There was a lot in the conversation, but right here towards the end, the idea of who we spend time with and we are who we keep that small circle of friends with is super important. I had this realization, Jessica, as you were talking about that that my deep-seated negativity that's been growing in me for the past year or so, it comes out more and more and it really only comes out with that small, tight circle of friends.

So I need to be very, very careful that I'm not turning into the toxic one [laughs] in my group and that might be a way to help me self-regulate this stuff. It’s not like I don't want to share it because I do because these people, they're my family. Like, I’ll lay down in traffic for them.

JESSICA: Is it something that emerges within the group or do you only see it in yourself?

MANDO: No, no, no. It's only in me. I mean, not only, but you know what I mean? Like it's what's more pronounced and sometimes, I feel like I'm convincing [laughs] them, which I don't want to do.

JESSICA: Because eventually, they'll reflect that back and it'll spiral.

MANDO: Right. Exactly. I don't want to turn them into me. [laughs] So I should be more careful and maybe listen a little more.

REIN: We started and we ended this conversation by talking about people helping each other and about friends and as I've been studying resilience engineering, what I realized that it's about is the ecology of human performance. If you want to understand how someone behaves, you have to understand their environment and their experiences and sharing adaptive capacity—people helping each other when they need help. So ecology of human performance and sharing of adaptive capacity.

There's a story in science, in social biology that humans are inherently aggressive and competitive and domineering, and that this explains and motivates and justifies social systems of domination and oppression and so on. And what, at least my experience tells me is that the reason their people are putting so much effort into asserting these things to be true, is that the plain evidence of our eyes is they're not true. That people are helping people, that that's what we're good at.

JESSICA: Something that stood out to me from early is there was a question about how do you convince people that something is valuable when it's not going to move the metrics that they're currently looking at? And sometimes what is needed, if it works, it's going to be obvious that it works even if it's not going to be measurable by what you're measuring now. Jonan had made the point that if you get enough people on board and everyone in the room considers this, obviously the right thing to do, then it becomes obvious in a social sense and that makes it easier to convince someone.

JONAN: I think these all tie together for me. I think talking about being vulnerable and understanding what it takes and how that is necessary to really build empathy on the other side, to just stand up and talk about the things that suck, talk about who you are in a real way and have the deeper conversation.

I'm sure it's happened to you all, but there've been plenty of times in my life where I sat down with someone and 5 minutes later, I felt like we were just opened like, this is just me and reaching that level of vulnerability, sometimes never comes for some people and that ultimately, to me is this kind of curve of self-actualization that humans are setting up for their lifetime, hopefully.

We can help people up on that and especially people who have had the kind of privilege that I've had, this wind at my back, and I'm not even just talking about all of the socioeconomic pieces. I'm talking about you. I’m talking about all three of you, you being my friends, being here to support me, you make it possible for me to hand that support onto the people around me and it's not actually a choice at some level. You have demonstrated as peers, the kind of behavior that I want to emulate. And I have no choice, but to spend the rest of my life, trying to offer that hand to the next person, who's going to come along and continue doing the good work that you all are doing.

So I am feeling grateful today, more than anything, for having been here and had this conversation. So thank you all.

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