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Part One: Culture and Connecting to Our Work with Pamela Vickers

Published 4/22/2015

Pamela Vickers and I sat down at Ancient City Ruby to talk about culture, conferences, and ping pong. And it was awesome.

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea name is Jonathan Cutrell and today I'm sharing an interview that I did with Pamela Vickers at ancient city Ruby just a few weeks ago Pamela is she heads up Rails Girls in Atlanta and She's a speaker she's actually at RailsConf and I believe that the day this episode comes out I will be at RailsConf if you're listening to this and your at RailsConf Tweet at me at at jCutrell or at Developer Tea and also tweet at Pamela. She's gonna be at RailsConf as well her Twitter handle is PWNELA and even she mentioned to me that she doesn't know how to pronounce Make sure you reach out to Pamela and let her know that you enjoyed her interview on Developer TeaAnd also while you're listening to this episode Why not leave a quick review on iTunes that is a huge help to me and it helps other developers just like you find the show Now let's get to the interview with Pamela Vickers So I'm here at ancient city Ruby and I'm sitting with Pamela Vickers and she leads Rails Girls in Atlanta, right? Or is it just Atlanta Rails Girls? What is the? Rails Girls Atlanta, okay, cool. That's what I thought it was I'm sure and and she gave a talk this morning About culture and how Culture has been kind of abused especially in the in the trying to get people to come onto your team that whole process Right can you just talk a little bit about What you think people have done to to the word culture first of all Well, I think that is a big selling point for a lot of people coming into the technology industry is you see this vibrant culture It's portrayed on Like TV shows and occasional movies. I can think of some really bad examples But it looks like this fun, whimsical crazy place where everyone's just partying and going down slides and you know Writing scooters and so I think we realized that that was a selling point and we have tried I'll do each other a little bit here and there especially in cities with a lot of tech companies So that became something that you would see in job listings and still do where they kind of rattle off things You know how many televisions you might have how many different beer taps you might have so I think it's turned into a little bit of I'm Unnecessary contest that some some companies were competing on their supposed culture, but it was really just competing on Items that they happen to have in the office as opposed to you know What the co-workers are are like? right and and it comes down to To more than just what the office is like like it's more than just Do I get a standing desk or not right like I actually have a standing desk? I really appreciate in fact We also have a ping pong table which has become just a meme of this of this subject Uh We now I like to defend it because we came into this naturally we had this board like this table that we weren't using and one of our guys actually had Uh net at home and then like a ping pong set So we had this like really mouth-formed and it had these little ridges to the the boards in it where it raised up engineered your ping pong table first Yeah, exactly it wasn't we it was natural it was a grew into it Uh, yeah, no, but I totally agree with this. I actually did an episode on the show called Oh geez, I think I called it stereotypes and stagmas basically Okay, okay, I talked about the the difference first of all between stereotype and stagmas sometimes stereotype can be uh, empowering and It's it's negative when it be when there's a stigma attached to it right so like you can have a stereotype of uh Like programmers being really strong creators and having like a lot of power in what they do that that is a stereotype And but it's also a positive thing for us in some ways Uh, but then you have programmer stigma, right? So like just because I'm a white male And I'm a programmer people assume that I you know go to hackathons and eat pizza and drink beer and that's just not that's not who I am And so and there's nothing and what I said on that particular episode is there's nothing particular There's nothing wrong with the ping pong table, right? There's nothing It just because you have these things doesn't mean you're you know What is it disingenuous? I always forget this word, but it doesn't mean that you're your Uh culture necessarily is fake or fraud right right, but there's more to it than just having these things right and I would never say that a ping pong table is a red flag or I would never even say that a ping pong table um Or or that mentioning a ping pong table and a job listing is a red flag I would say that it's just neutral and when it's presented as such a positive thing I think that's where there's kind of um a lot of awareness of what Maybe most people Want out of a job or maybe what makes most people comfortable pursuing a company and I think it it turns into I think it um Doesn't even give us the benefit of adult as as a developer it assumes almost a immaturity. I don't think we all have sure Um, you know if there's a ping pong table I bet people will play it right uh But if if you have like a great 401k matching program that you know that's something that is a really big positive Especially where young companies they might not have Subtrate benefits. So I think it just shows a little bit of a little a lack of It's just not expecting us to be mature when I think we we are we're not all just you know Like you said the the programmer type where you know 20 something kids just trying to create a startup that gets funded So they can you know live in Hawaii like that's not really most of us. Yeah, I I agree entirely uh I think I think these things serve as symbols right so it used to be that if you had a A Tapper if you had a Ping pong table or whatever that served as a symbol that shows What your personality is like right and that is what we've used to correlate all these things to culture Uh, like the deeper level culture of the company if so we have these kind of internalized messages that oh If they have a ping pong table then they're probably not going to come down on me really hard when I don't deliver on time or whatever number of things that you could fill in the blank with and And first of all that's not true, right? Like there are plenty of companies that have all these things But also are like really harsh on their workers, right? But then there's also this concept of maturity like I don't need a symbol of laid back In order to become comfortable in the workplace Right and to have the positive emotion. So tell tell us about the the formula that you came up with in in the talk If you're come and if you want people to just watch the talk instead, that's fine I can give the TLDR. Sure So it's based on a model for happiness um, um, I think it's like colleges named Martin Seligman And it's called perma p-e-r-n-a and it's based on Positive emotion engagement relationships meaning and achievement So I kind of I was exposed to it via Ernie Miller My developer and another speaker here at ancient city Ruby and it really Just lodged in my brain as such a great description of What makes me happy in my professional life? Mm-hmm. Um, probably personal life as well But I just haven't thought as much about that because happiness there is a little bit more Uh, you know, it's a byproduct of so many things including your professional life. Mm-hmm. So Um, the more I thought about it the more I realized that There are pieces of that perma uh, model that fit really well for like projects and the more I and then there's The good feelings you get from having a good project and having just kind of a good relationships with your co-workers So let me see if I can just pull it out um The the formula I have very very scientific is I think e plus m yields a which creates p so basically Right engagement and meaning lead to achievement and achievement feels pretty good So you get positive emotion. So that's my very scientific formula That's great. Yeah, and there's quite a bit of other research around this that says uh, that even influence is in so like as Somebody who is leading a team It's extremely important for me to remind my team regularly of how meaningful what they do is like in reality and connect them to that meaning uh, especially for the work that we do a lot of times it feels like all we're doing is changing pixels inside of our terminals right But there's more to it. There's a real effect in in the world and so When we can connect that work to that real effect we get that sense of meaning And that allows us to uh, I mean just to work better first of all but also Uh, to have positive emotion right like Knowing that we are making a meaningful difference That is that is First of all objectively studied to make a difference in how we work But also just subjectively I feel awesome knowing that I'm making a difference in the world, you know Thank you so much for listening to my interview with Pamela the second part of the interview will be in the next episode of Developer Tea If you have not subscribed yet and you don't want to miss that part The best way to make sure you don't miss out on any future episodes of Developer Tea is to subscribe and iTunes or in whatever podcast application you And you can also get the show notes in most podcasting applications as well Now if you don't use a podcasting application the rss feed is on developertea.com. Just look for the rss feed there If you think somebody might be interested in what Pamela and I had to say in this interview You can send them this episode in a tweet or an email and until next time enjoy your tea