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Scott Belsky, Part Two

Published 5/6/2015

Scott Belsky (@ScottBelsky) is the VP Products & Community at Adobe and cofounder of Behance. Scott is also a successful investor in major tech companies such as Periscope and Uber.

Scott and I talk about the fundamental nature of creativity, why he created Behance, staying focused, the value of formal education, and what he wishes more people would ask him. Finally, at the end of the second part of the interview, Scott shares specific advice for developers who are wanting to work better with visionaries. Enjoy the interview!


This episode is sponsored by Intuit. Check out the developer sandbox and API explorer at http://intuit.me/DevTea to get started building apps for millions of small business today!

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and today I'm continuing my interview with Scott Belsky. If you missed the first part of the interview go to developertea.com and check it out or better yet. Subscribe to the show and you can find that interview in your favorite podcast app or on iTunes podcast directory or in the RSS feed which you can also find at developertea.com. I really enjoy my interview with Scott. If you didn't hear the first part Scott is the VP of products and community at Adobe and he also was a co-founder of BeHance back in 2006 and he is also an author just a ton of other things that he has going on. So let's get to the second part of the interview with Scott Belzki. While you're listening to this part make sure you tweet at Scott and if you have not yet subscribed to the show do so in your favorite podcasting app. Let's get to the interview. So most of the people listening to this show consider themselves programmers, developers, whatever you want to call that. We code as our primary means of creation on a day to day basis. And our culture at least the digital creation culture especially if you're working for a startup or even more so if you're working in an agency environment. The culture kind of says that the programmers and the developers are not necessarily creative like designers are or like the product creators are. And I don't agree with that for a few fundamental reasons. And I talk about this in a book that I'm working on. I talk about the difference in constructive creativity and then in visionary creativity. So you have constructive creativity which is what we as software developers work in. We're working in more concrete terms and then you have visionary creativity where the concrete terms are not defined yet. What would you say is the best way to describe this kind of creativity for developers and how can developers work better with visionaries to understand the things that they need on a day to day basis? Well, it's a really good question. First of all, I always defined creativity as a genuine interest combined with initiative. So you have something that you really love. And if you have a real deep sense of initiative, you're going to just continue to play with it and innovate with it and push it to its edges and that's inspiration. When it comes to the relationships between developers and their teams and the roles that developers play in projects, it's hard to generalize because I worked with so many different types of engineers and designers and people assume different roles. But if I were to try to generalize a few takeaways, it would certainly be that when you work with someone, an engineer, someone who on the development side of the project who really believes there's a way to do everything. And it may be very expensive and it may be very time consuming and it may not be scalable, but there's a way to do everything. And such an attitude that adds value to the chemistry of a project very much like an improv when they teach you never to say no. When you're doing improv of people, your golden rule is never saying no. Always say yes and have you say something? I just want to take it to a new place. I say yeah and then I like bring it to a new place. And similarly, to evolve a great relationship to the chemistry in a creative project, oftentimes it is the developer who says no because they're like, oh, we can't do that because of it. There's a million reasons why you can't do anything in technology, right? Sorry, but it hasn't been done before or I don't know how to do it. But if you just, there's just the people that I've had the greatest experience is working with as developers are those who say, yeah, let's figure that out. And you ask, you know, here's some questions we have or problems we need to run into. But let's jump in. Yes, we can find a way. And because it's just an attitude and sometimes you can't find a way that's scalable, but you in the process, you learn something. And so I think that's a very important attribute to bring to a creative project if you want to do something new. Absolutely. You know what? I couldn't be happier with that answer. And here's why. The title of the book is hacking the impossible. And the reason I decided to title it that was because the word impossible is so misused so often in this industry. We say something is impossible, but if we really thought about the reality of that word, very often that's not true. In fact, almost never is that true. Impossible means that it quite literally could never happen in any scenario, right? In practical, maybe a useful word, but more often the useful word is yes, right? The more often the useful word is to look at what somebody is presenting to you. And instead of immediately, I call it, I call it dream squashing instead of coming to the table. Here's the, here's the story behind dream squasher. I tell people in the book to not be a dream squasher. I was, I was working at our agency at here at Whiteboard in Chattanooga. And I walked into a meeting and I was sitting at the table and I remember just kind of ripping apart this proposal that was on the table, saying it's we can't do it because of this and this and this. And what did you think about this thing and did you think about this? Of course you didn't. We can't do it. And that's just kind of par for the course for so many developers. And one of our more visionary types at the table looked at me and said, you know what? You're like the dream squasher. And I'll never forget that moment because I realized how true that was that all of the momentum, all of the creative energy behind this project is kind of just completely squashed when, when somebody walks in the room and gives you all the reasons why it's not going to work. Nobody wants to be a dream squasher, right? Nobody does. Or work with one for that matter. Awesome. I'm going to take a quick sponsor break and then we're going to talk about one more thing. You've probably heard of QuickBooks and you might even use QuickBooks every day in your small business. But did you know that QuickBooks has an API? Into it has built the API with developers in mind using standards like open ID, OAuth and rest API calls. And with millions of businesses already using QuickBooks, you've got a customer base that's ready to use your app. And you can even publish your app on apps.com. And to its application marketplace built specifically for QuickBooks users. And here's the best part of the QuickBooks API and apps.com. It's all free. And to it doesn't take a royalty share from the applications that you publish. You can get up and running in just a few minutes using the developer sandbox and the API Explorer. Just go to developer.intuit.com today to get started. There will also be a link in the show notes to let into it know that you're a developer to you listener, which is a huge help to the show. Check it out in the show notes on developertea.com. All right. So Scott, thank you again for being on the show. You offer so much value to the listeners of Developer Tea into me personally in my life. Like I said, I'm going to be doing a giveaway of manage your day to day published by 99U. Fantastic book. I read it in a day, I think. It's like one of those books that you can sit down and read in a day, but you should read it like once a year, really. It's in a lot of ways. It's a it's very proverbial. So I'm going to do that giveaway. Anybody who shares this episode on Twitter, you will be eligible for that giveaway. So make sure you share this episode on Twitter. And mention Scott, I think you have a Twitter right, Scott? I do. What is your Twitter name? It's just at Scott Belsky. Well, there you go. All of the good Twitter names are either at Scott Belsky or the real Scott Belsky, one or the other. Awesome. So one more question that I have for you. You know, your credentials and your titles and your experience, they all speak for themselves. I most likely have already told the listeners, some of those in the intro to the show. So my question that I have you, you've, you've been interviewed probably countless times. What would you prefer for people to ask you and kind of flipping the interview on a Ted here? What do people not ask you that they that you wish they asked you more often? As an entrepreneur you mean? Sure. Well, in any scenario, you mean just like in an interview specifically? Oh, in an interview specifically. That's a good question. I feel like I get asked so many different things. And I think one of the questions is, what are you, what are you most proud of? Because you know, you know, you know, in that sense of pride you can get sometimes where you're almost like teary eye because you're so like proud of something. And it's like, you know, it like moves you, you know, just like gosh, like what an accomplishment. Like to me, it's always been people's careers. You know, it's always been sitting with people that, you know, I mean, I've hired at a college or hired into a role in the fall of into a completely different role. Like it's those moments for milestones, probably better word where I like you're just so you're like, wow, this is why I do this. This is why I built a team. This is why I care about the team. Now, and to build these sorts of, you know, when you're building something, you're building careers. And that's also an important message to, you know, your listeners is, do you want to be in the business of management or not? Because yeah, there are a lot of great, great people in my team, designers and developers who, you know, had the opportunity to step into a management role, but we're more fired up by just getting in there and solving problems and building a product versus, you know, stewarding people's careers. You really have to be into it and enjoy it in order to invest and succeed in it. But it's just, it is something I feel like when I say it, when I think about one of my most proud of it, it's really the people, you know, who we've become, you know, is something that I often think is overlooked. Yeah, that's great. I'd love to hear a story about, about one of those people, if you're interested in telling one of those stories that you are proud of, I think I'd love to hear it and it be a huge inspiration for me and for the listeners of the show. Yeah, it's like, I think that there, you know, there's certainly, there's one developer on our team that joined the very, very early days who, you know, coded websites in his dorm room to get through college and, you know, kind of came on board and when we interviewed him, it's one of our early tech artists, we showed him some of the things he wanted to do and he looked at the network, which was one of the ideas he had at the time and he's like, oh yeah, that would be like a month or so. Because he obviously had no idea what he was in for, but he had such a positive attitude and had, you know, his experience was just always able to do what he had his mind sent to just could accomplish it. And so that attitude, which we obviously realized was naive, like he didn't realize how dense this product would be, clearly, but it was so positive. And so, probably on board, obviously it was a root of awakening, probably three days into the job and we realized how big of a challenge we had in front of ourselves. But, you know, seeing him then evolve into having not many, you know, good kind of coding practices to now being the person who like leads code practices on our team and, you know, is a stickler for process and improving the way that we work. And that, that sort of, that journey that, you know, he's gone through over seven plus years and now, you know, he leads a team and he's an admired person in our company, you know, and in our industry, you know, it's just, it's a real, it's exciting to see that. And that's, that's what I mean. Absolutely. That's, that's such a good story. And I think that there are a lot of people who are listening to this, to this episode now, who may be early in their careers. And you have a lot of options of how your career will go, especially early in your career, you start paving the road for how you will react. And if you take anything away from this episode, one thing that I really hope you take away is that positive, a positive attitude about anything is almost always better than a negative attitude. There are very few times when a negative attitude will serve you well at all. And that's not just for developers, that's for anyone. But I think developers have a tendency to fall to positive or to negative attitudes because we have a different knowledge set. We have the ability to see when people are unfortunately maybe naive or they don't understand the intricacies that we might understand. And it's our job not only to understand those intricacies, but also to work in them and to make things that previously weren't possible possible, but to make things come to life like be hands. Yeah, no, I mean, that's I think that is what's required. Absolutely. So there's one last question I like to ask all of my guests. If you had just 30 seconds to talk to either a new developer or a developer who is well into their career and give them a piece of advice moving forward, what would you say to them? Well, I would I think everyone needs to invest themselves in something that they are really fascinated by. And you know, and because a labor of love always pays off. Now, it doesn't necessarily pay off in the way that you think. And but what really is a bad idea is to take a job very early in your career that is just paying a few thousand dollars more than the other opportunity that is truly the overlap of your genuine interests and your skills and the opportunities that present themselves. You you really want to work in that overlap of those three things. And you want to make sure that you don't that you don't think short term long term greed is the path towards a successful career and you know, financial return, which means you know, being in for the long term, having a loyalty to your team, doing some of that you are genuinely interested in. Those are the things that I encourage people to think about as they're navigating their career. Great, great. Awesome. Very good advice. Thank you so much, Scott, for being on the show. Pleasure. Thanks, Jonathan. And thank you for listening to this episode of Developer Tea with Scott Belsky. And make sure you follow Developer Teaon Twitter. That's at Developer Tea. If you have any feedback, that is a good place to send it. But you can also send it to me directly at developert.gmail.com. Remember you can share this episode on Twitter and mention at Scott Belsky in order to be eligible to win a copy of managing your day to day. An incredible book full of insights published by 99U. Thank you so much for listening to Developer Tea. And until next time, enjoy your tea.