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Software Developer's Journey
#27 Jessica Kerr on public speaking, networking and the problems of mentoring
July 30, 2018 Timothée Bourguignon

In this episode, I speak with Jessica Kerr. Jessica makes software to help others write software to help themselves build software at Atomist. Her adventures include advocating for functional programming and systems thinking at software conferences around the world, but also keeping two children alive and podcasting on "Greater Than Code". We touched on her introduction to public speaking. We talked about balancing a family life and traveling for work. We segwayed into networking and the power of people and landed on mentoring/mentorship.

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Software Developer‘s Journey is hosted and produced by Timothée (Tim) Bourguignon, a crazy frenchman living in Germany who dedicated his life to helping others learn & grow. More about him at timbourguignon.fr.

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Episode Transcript

Tim Bourguignon:0:06What is a good software developer? What do excellent developers do? There are probably as many answers to these questions as developers in the world, so let's ask veterans and newcomers what their story look like. Let's learn directly from them. Welcome to Developer's Journey.

Tim Bourguignon:0:32Hello and welcome to Developer's Journey, the podcast shining light on developer's life from all over the world. My name is Tim Bourguignon and today I receive Jessica Kerr. Jessica makes software to help others write software to help them themselves build software. I'm sure we're going to need some explanation about that. Her adventure includes advocating for functional programming and systems thinking at software conferences around the world, but also keeping two children alive and podcasting on the side at "Greater than code", but I'm sure we're gonna hear all about that very soon. Jess, thank you very much for joining me.

Jessica Kerr:1:14Good morning. Thank you.

Tim Bourguignon:1:15It's morning for you. That's right. It's late in the night for me. That's the fun of recordings.

Jessica Kerr:1:23It's actually 3:00 PM. I just always say "good morning".

Tim Bourguignon:1:25Okay, good. You threw me off my game right now. Very well done. That's a good way to start. You and I met in Paris, in the same time zone, in the same room actually, a few months ago the NCrafts conference, where you were speaking. You were having a talk about the origin of opera, a very interesting title that got a few people puzzled. Maybe we should start right there. Can you tell us your story? How did you end up being a speaker at a conference in Paris?

Jessica Kerr:2:07That was a beautiful conference in Paris and of course I got to speak about the origins of opera, the music not the browser, because I knew Romeo (Moura), one of the organizers and of course I met Romeo at conference and like everything, conference speaking is one of those things that snowballs. You go to a few conferences, maybe learned something and you get an idea of something to investigate and then when you speak at a conference, even more so because then you get to go to the speaker dinner and you talk to the speakers about their topics. And I just, I just get so excited about things that I learned at the conference and that always brings me to the topic of next year's conferences. And I started speaking at conferences seven years ago. And I thought I thought maybe first year maybe I would achieve, let's see, this is 2012. So I was like, can I do 12 talks in 2012? And I did like 16.

Tim Bourguignon:3:12It's a nice problem to have!

Jessica Kerr:3:17It is. It's kind of amazing that right now and for the last 10 years or so, development conferences, they're just everywhere. Somebody said the other day that developers are the new kingmakers.

Tim Bourguignon:3:33Yes, there is a book called "the new kingmakers" I think. It's about software development.

Jessica Kerr:3:40Oh, that makes sense. I have not read that book but it does make sense, because developers, we create systems. Did you read the book?

Tim Bourguignon:3:53I did, yes. It's a short book actually, like 80 pages. Very interesting. Here's the pitch: we are the one enabling ideas to become reality and it costs very little to do that nowadays with the advent of cloud computing and, and all the internet stuff. And so we basically have the world at our fingertips and this is, this is a very nice place to be right now.

Jessica Kerr:4:27Yes. I will bring that back to the talk that I give it about the origins of opera and the future of programming to explain that a little bit. Opera was invented by a group of people in Florence, Italy in the years before 1600. It was a diverse group of people. It wasn't just music, there were composers and singers, but also artists and noblemen and merchants and poets and philosophers and astronomers and astrologers. That's what we had for scientists at the time. And they came together to do something new with music and like every really great idea, it seems stupidly obvious now, that music would convey more information if we could understand the words. But back then that was a new idea. They came together and created something creative, something great. But the amazing part to me as I was reading about the Camerata, was how many things each of those individuals did after they left that group. They published in science, philosophy and of course operas, but also other fields too. Vincenzo Galileo, the father of Galileo was one of the members of the Florentine Camerata, the group that invented opera and I feel like that relates to our teams today. We come together with a set of skills including, but definitely not limited to programming and we can create something new together and like you just pointed out, we can create faster than anyone in history has been able to. Which leads us to have great power, which leads us to a field that has a lot of money in it and conferences that gets sponsored by lots of companies. So for a reasonable cost, we can go eat good food and here lots of talks and have a few beers after.

Tim Bourguignon:6:41Indeed, this is a nice life to have, right?

Jessica Kerr:6:48It is! If you speak at conferences, then you get to go to a lot more of them and then you get a new job at a company that wants you to go speak at conferences and then you don't have to take vacation.

Tim Bourguignon:7:03I have to ask. How does it work with your two kids? You said you said you were keeping them alive and so far they are still alive, right?

Jessica Kerr:7:10They're still alive. They are downstairs right now, it's summer, so they are playing on their iPads and reading. I think the older one is reading supernatural fanfic and the younger one maybe play mindcraft. Either that or drawing. Yeah. I keep them alive. I don't keep them busy. They do that themselves. They're 10 and 13. They're capable of feeding themselves, now they usually won't.

Tim Bourguignon:7:47I'll leave you judge of that

Jessica Kerr:7:51Just yesterday, I'm out for lunch and I text the younger one: "how are you doing?" And she's like "well, I'm hungry". And I'm like "is your dad there?". So I texted her dad and tell him to make them a pizza and I'm like: "why am I doing this? She's six feet from you!"

Tim Bourguignon:8:14Okay. I think I hear the voice of my wife saying similar stuff right now...

Jessica Kerr:8:21The beauty of when I travel is that they have to ask him for food.

Tim Bourguignon:8:29How easy is it to manage this agenda you have, traveling around for conferences, which is a thrill, but also balancing this family life?

Jessica Kerr:8:40My family doesn't like it. But I'm going to travel, that's how it is. But I want them to have a mother who's alive and living and doing stuff and stimulated and happy. Because if I stayed home all the time, I travel at least a week a month, if I don't do that, I feel trapped and held back. And I don't want to be a cranky, unhappy mother. I would much rather be a really excited, exciting, happy, good to be around mother who's not here everyday. I travel fill up my batteries. Airplanes are the best, the most relaxing and if I pretend I don't have internet and I can even read and. That's my alone time when I'm not supposed to be doing a thousand things. I'm pretty extroverted. So being around people when I travel recharges me. But also the alone time during travel is really effective alone time. Like being in a hotel room by myself, being on an airplane effectively by myself, where I have limited options to what I can do and no one could bug me. Soo nice to listen to my feelings. Feelings are really good clues. We don't have to follow them. And often what we feel we want is not what is actually going to make us happy. But I try to use past evidences. I'm feeling restless. What does that mean? Probably means I am ready to go on a trip. But that has to be backed up by past observation. Last time I felt restless like this and I went on a trip, did that help? Not that I have options. Trips are planned very far ahead. So I tried to book, listen to what I'm feeling. Am I tired, do I need to skip a session at this conference and go lay down? Usually the feeling is more "I want a beer" and so I have behave myself based on past observation. If I go lay down, will that make me feel more able to participate in the conference later? If I go have a beer, will that make more able to participate in the conversation conference later? So based on past evidence, sometimes the beer helps but more often than not, it's going to lay down that helps you.

Tim Bourguignon:12:19The beer helps, at least for me. But later in the evening, just to untie some tongues and get the really crispy stuff, the nice anecdotes, out of people. People that I want to invite afterwards for podcast for instance...

Jessica Kerr:12:39I found a compromise. I've learned that usually I can go to the hotel bar, get a beer and bring it to a session. But if I just spoke and am I super energized by the speaker-adrenaline-rush (that's what you call it), this is the time to have a beer to help me come down. I'm actually appreciating that conferences are less alcohol-focused than there used to be. That's really good. I love the formats lately of "we're going to give you a beer or two in the evening so you can chit-chat after the talks and stuff, but if you want to go do any serious drinking, you're on your own".

Tim Bourguignon:13:37The trick, the NCrafts guys found is pretty neat: having very limited custom-made craft-beer. It's obviously very limited because it's custom-made for the conference. It makes it kind of special. And then you just have one and that's it because there is no more than that. It makes it an O.K. social activity where nobody gets drunk. It's kind of a good trade-off.

Jessica Kerr:14:07It is. And we talked to each other because the real value of conferences is this: what we're doing now. It is getting someone else's story and making a connection with them. I love that when I have a question about say NPM, I'm going to try online six different ways to figure it out. And sometimes I'll go look at some code. But I know I can also email someone who works there, because I have those connections from conferences. And that's just amazing. Once you get involved, it snowballs. So once you get to know enough other developers, you become a better developer in this that you have all these advantages, which then gets more opportunities to speak, which gets you more opportunities to meet people. And that also works with code. I think the more resources you have to learn about code, the better developer you become or the more powerful a developer and then the more resources you get.

Tim Bourguignon:15:34What kind of resources do you have in mind, to learn programming and become a better developer?

Jessica Kerr:15:45By far the strongest resource is a person. When you can ask someone what you need right now, you get answers that are so much more effective and communicative. You can get the subtleties and you can hear the stories of what happened to them. Oh, and then there's the incredibly valuable part of: "OH MY GOSH, YES, I HATE THAT, this is the work around". And then you're like: "oh goodness, I don't feel like an idiot for being frustrated by this". Other people find it frustrating too, we overestimate the value of textual resources and underestimate the value of people in our social networks as the most important source of deep learning.

Tim Bourguignon:16:44Yes we do. I have been advocating for mentoring for years now, and this is exactly it!

Jessica Kerr:16:50What do you call mentoring?

Tim Bourguignon:16:54For me mentoring is, being there, listening and asking questions, this is the only definition I could nail down for myself that's satisfies the idea I have about it. It's not tied to seniority. It's not tied to work itself. It's not tied to any obligation. It's something that you decide to do as a mentor, or as a mentee. But as a mentor, being there listening to someone and asking question, genuinely interesting yourself in the story that is being written, told and asking questions and is the base for mentoring. All the rest is just building on it. This is my vision of mentoring.

Jessica Kerr:17:50Engaging in dialogue? Absolutely. And that does, make sense. I read a paper by David Bone on dialogue. It's not just between two people but it talks about that kind of really engaging, asking questions, understanding the other person's perspective. And then the beauty of programming is that you can create something together all at the same time and that makes it drastically more effective. I don't see why we call this mentoring. Why do we need an angle on it? Why do we need a slant in that relationship? I'm struggling with the word mentoring at the moment. I mean there's advocating for someone. When you are in a leadership position, talking to other people in position and say: "hey, so and so could do this project. They haven't done anything like that before. But I'm, I'm confident they could do it with a little help and that would be great". That I think we really, really need and there is a directionality to that. But the dialogue that you're talking about, I mean, it benefits both parties.

Tim Bourguignon:19:16Yes, it does. But there's more to it. You know, the five "why"'s theory, right? You have to ask multiple times "why" in order to get to the root cause of something. There's a similar idea when you ask questions to someone. You start asking question and you're just scratching the surface. And then you ask some more questions and you have to keep asking. Only at some point after a while, you will get to really interesting questions. The meaty stuff. And this doesn't work on a very short timeframe basis. So you have to build a relationship. You have to keep going at it. You have to put the effort of being there again and again to really build this trust in order to get somewhere, to get through the real person you wanted to talk to. And that's where we might need this "mentoring" word reminding yourself that you're doing something special. You are not just being very helpful with people all around you. You are not being very open minded and everybody that comes around gets an ear from you. You're really trying to follow up on one person in particular and keep this person on their toes. Does it make sense?

Jessica Kerr:20:39Yes but I still don't see the need for a directionality in that. When my kids were in elementary school, a class of kindergartners would pair with a class of fourth graders. Second graders with fifth graders or something like that. Within that class they pair the kids off so kids have buddies of a different age and interact with them. And yes, one kid had more experience than the other, but it's really a back and forth. I would rather have buddies who are both much more senior, older than me and others much younger. They're probably going to get more wisdom of age from me if they are a lot younger than I am, or vice versa. But why do we have to put one person in charge? That make it a favor from the older person to the younger person. Why do I need to shepherd someone? I don't. That dialogue, that engagement, I completely agree with you with the time requirement, that it takes a long time, that a lot of your questions, a successful question leads to a more interesting question. But the power dynamic there, kind of gives me the hickies.

Tim Bourguignon:22:29I see what you mean. In fact, the best mentoring relationships I personally had or still have are the ones which developed to being bidirectional. They started one way. For instance, with the mentee that I have been following for the longest, I was really the senior and he was the junior, but it moved into being a completely bidirectional relationship. I think it's even reversed right now. He's mentoring me more than I am mentoring him because I have a lot of things on my plate and I'm pinging him more often than not to get his advice on things. It's really reversed. I think it's really depending on the context and depending on the level of trust you managed to build. But still there's a need for initiating it. As much as I would like our society today to be empathetic, for us to be very kind with each other etc. It's not happening. People apparently don't really seem to "collide" with other people freely. You have to push them so that they open up and start talking. Extroverts like you and maybe like me, are kind of the exception in this game and not rule, are we?

Jessica Kerr:24:11Well you have this podcast now as an excuse, right?

Tim Bourguignon:24:14Still, I see Mentoring, I'm defending my topic you see, I still see mentoring as a kickstarter. You need this idea behind it of having somebody giving to somebody else just to initiate things. If you are the mentor, then you have to go a little bit further than just being there and try to ignite some fire.

Jessica Kerr:24:55Okay. So that means we can use mentorship which exists as a social institution. It's something that our society has a slot for. We can use that as the excuse to take the conversation deeper and extended over time into a dialogue that hopefully any implication of a power dynamic eventually dissolves.

Tim Bourguignon:25:22That's the idea, or at least my idea.

Jessica Kerr:25:25Okay. So I think love is like that too.

Tim Bourguignon:25:32I'm laughing because I wrote an article for a German magazine not too long ago, where I'm making the parallel between "dating" and "mentoring". So go ahead. Tell me what you were thinking.

Jessica Kerr:25:45That when you fall in love with someone, when you're in that irrational phase where you just have the bees knees and you think about them constantly, I think that exists only to spur us to spend a ridiculous amount of time on that relationship. That without that irrational thing, there would not be no reasonable reason or explanation for spending that amount of time with a person. But spending that amount of time and thoughts on them, gets us over a hump and into a deep closeness that even once the excitement fades. That closeness has value that you wouldn't have predicted with rational predictions. You just got up there because you had these huge feelings.

Tim Bourguignon:26:39Do you think it's the same with mentorship?

Jessica Kerr:26:42Well, much less so but. But again, the mentoring formality can be an excuse to get you past the small talk and to make you stick with it until you get into that deeper dialogue and understanding that person's context because you need to really understand what's going on. You need the wider context of the situation and you need the past. You need to see a person over time because when you interact with someone once, you just get a little snapshot and that has a lot more to do with their mood and what happened to them today than who they are as a person. You've got to talk to somebody many times, you've got to see their norms and you've got to see their delta over time, before you really get an idea of who they are. I think we're defined by how we change, not by any one-day snapshot of our behavior.

Tim Bourguignon:27:54Thank god, it would be awful.

Jessica Kerr:27:58Yeah, especially if we all stayed two years old.

Tim Bourguignon:28:00No, I definitely want to be able to look at my old blog posts and see what a dumb ass I was, defined by these comparison. It's who I was before!

Jessica Kerr:28:14Yeah, I can look at my old Github Repositories and be like "wow, I still do that".

Tim Bourguignon:28:23Just frame it in a positive way: "Wow. I've learned a lot".

Jessica Kerr:28:28Exactly. Totally. You shouldn't be able to look back on your work after six months and say, "I wouldn't do that, No".

Tim Bourguignon:28:36That's a good place to be. How has been mentorship, whichever word you put behind it, for you? How did that look like in your past?

Jessica Kerr:28:51Um, so I'm gonna go back to advocacy, since it is much more significant than the talking we call mentorship, as far as someone else's situation being important. Specifically when I got into speaking, it was because one of my favorite speakers Ted Neward spoke at the Java User Group and I asked him if he wanted to get a beer afterwards. So a couple of us went out for a beer afterward and he asked me: "have you ever thought about speaking?" And I said "Oh, I would love to, but I'm not an expert in anything". And he said the magic word: "you don't have to be an expert, you just have to learn enough to talk about it for an hour". And I was like: "oh, I'm learning things and I'm good at talking for an hour". And then he became my advocate in the sense of sending me a "call for proposals". He's like: "apply to this conference". And he told me: "Right now, conferences are looking for Android Development". I'm like: "Okay, well I'm a JavaDev now and I have an Android phone, I can figure out how to do that. No problem". And so I did. My first talk was about Android development. He also looked at my abstracts. Whenever he had requests to write an article but wasn't paid for, he didn't have time for it. Then he'd shoot it my way. He'd be like: "here, talk to my apprentice or mentee or whatever", and then I would be like: "okay, I'll write that article". And then I could ask him questions if I needed to. But really I didn't need that. What I needed was the opportunities handed to me with a question mark: "do you want to do this? And this is what people are looking for...". And then I submitted all kinds of weird abstracts to conferences. I totally submitted abstracts on ElasticSearch before it was cool. But the conferences didn't accept those, so I didn't learn ElasticSearch to that degree. I wish I knew it that well, but instead I learned the things that conferences did except and that was really important to me. That completely changed my career and my life and it wasn't a lot of work for him because it was just like: "here's some stuff other people want me to do but I don't want to do it. How about you do it?". "Great".

Tim Bourguignon:31:27Have you woken up one day and realized you've been doing the same with other people?

Jessica Kerr:31:34I do recommend people. I feel bad. I tweeted "Hey, I need some more people to recommend" and a bunch of people responded to me. It was so many that I was like "stop looking at it, make a spreadsheet" and I hate spreadsheets.

Tim Bourguignon:31:58But you'd want to vet people you want to recommend as well. So it's not that easy, it's a bit of work anyway. It's not as if you could pick one name and just a randomly say: "well you should go with this person".

Jessica Kerr:32:10That's true. That's very true. So you bring up the point that if you're going to recommend someone, you should actually know them. Which means you need to put in the time. And why would you put in that time with any random person. Which gets back to your social network. I'm likely to put in time for someone local, because if they're in St Louis, they're kind of in my territory and I should help more, because that's a limited set. There aren't that many people in St Louis that are interested in conference speaking and even fewer that I run into. That's like a number of people that I can actually help. Yeah, that's a good point. This kind of things. It doesn't work in the randomness of the Internet. You need some sort of limiting factor to say "I'll spend a lot of time on this one".

Tim Bourguignon:33:13Yeah, that's kind of what I came down to with my mentoring stuff. I realized I have fairly limited resources. I can mentor,since I'm using that word, two or three persons at the same time only. And I know that when I did it really passionately with three mentees at the same time, I was going on my reserves. My body started telling me that it's a bit too much. And so my resources as a person are really, really limited. So one of the answers I found for myself is to seek out mentees that I see having the shoulders for becoming mentors very soon as well. And it worked out with a couple of them who became mentors very fast. Like a snowball effect. So I'm trying to expand my reach by doing this and trying to make a bigger splash. But this realization, that I have very limited resources in his life, was kind of a bummer. It means I really need to think about this before I do something.

Jessica Kerr:34:31But you have had the points of when you help a person like you have, and then they go on to help people, then you get that exponential impact. You don't see it directly, but you have that kind of impact on the world by having some impact on some people who have impact on other people have impact and et Cetera, et cetera. So, you do get to influence a ton of people. It's just that most of it's indirect.

Tim Bourguignon:35:05Yes it is, and it's a nice place to be, being able to do things like this.

Jessica Kerr:35:10It's like having children, but faster!

Tim Bourguignon:35:16And also you can at some point say: "well I'm not interested anymore and just leave"

Jessica Kerr:35:27Yeah, I hear it's not over.

Tim Bourguignon:35:30No, I'm not there yet. My, my oldest one is five, so it's going to take a while. You can tell me in 10 years, how that goes.

Jessica Kerr:35:39Well, so far they just get better, more fun and less trouble. My oldest is 13 so we'll see.

Tim Bourguignon:35:49We're reaching the end of the timebox, but I still have one question I wanted to ask you: how do you balance the "I'm interested by the talks in a conference versus the attraction of the aisle and the discussions with whomever is there at the conference". That are obviously happening in parallel to all the talks. How do you deal with this?

Jessica Kerr:36:17Oh you mean the "hallway track" versus going to sessions? I don't usually hallway track during session unless there's some particular discussion that I happened to get involved in. I'm very opportunistic at conferences, I tend to like not look at the schedule of the conference before I go, I wait till I get there and then wait until I've given my talk. Then I'll look. So I'm only looking one session ahead, which leaves me open if I get into a conversation that I'd rather continue. I often don't know what session I'm missing, so that I'm not conflicted about it. So my strategy is last minute, lack of planning.

Tim Bourguignon:37:13That's a good trick against the fear of missing out. You don't know what's coming.

Jessica Kerr:37:18Yeah. Just whatever comes to me is going to be interesting. This is fine. Sounds good.

Tim Bourguignon:37:28What advice would you give the listeners to advance on their journey? If you had one advice to give, something everybody listening to this podcast starting their journey as a software developer should hear?

Jessica Kerr:37:46My advice is: "it is really fricking hard". You're not stupid. This is incredibly hard. And it's way harder than it was when I started because we have more tools. If I had set out to make a website in 1999, a real one, not like Perl CGI-college-let's make up fake maze website site. But like if I had set out to make like a serious business website in 1999, it would have been harder than it is today. The standards have increased so much and the number of things that you have to learn has increased so much, that I feel like I had it easy when I was learning C, Unix and Oracle. Because there weren't all these libraries to download everywhere, frameworks and different languages. I didn't have to worry about the frontends. Our frontend was something really ancient and not a web frontend because it changed so much faster than these ancient native apps did. My advice is: it's not you, it really is that hard, and the best source of advice you can get is people. Go to meet ups, conferences if you can, but honestly local meetups are more valuable because then you meet local people. Find out what people like and are interested in and ask them questions about what it is they're good at. And then, this is a win for everybody. Because you're like: "oh my gosh, why would they help me? That's so much trouble". But actually it'll make them feel really good to help you, tt will make them feel smart and then they'll like you more. It's a total win. So my advice is it really is that hard to develop networks of people. Ideally people you've met in person. But online is good too. And ask people and ask even if it's in Slack channels. We have a local tech slack and St Louis: post stuff there. The worst that can happen is you don't get an answer. Well, I guess technically the worst that can happen is someone is mean to you, but screw them. I haven't had that happen. Take the risk to ask someone because you'll probably get at worst, no response and at best you'll start one of these dialogues is with someone that'll become a friend. Yeah. And then the real learning happens.

Tim Bourguignon:40:39Fantastic advice. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. We've reached the end of the timebox, like I told you before, the podcast is going to air very soon. What do you have on your plate? What's coming up in the near future for you?

Jessica Kerr:40:57In two weeks I'm going to be speaking at Redeploy.io, which is a conference in San Francisco that I'm really excited about. I'm so excited about this conference that I actually bought a ticket. It's been five years since I bought a ticket to a conference. But I went ahead and submitted talks but I didn't expect them to accept them. I just really wanted to go to this conference because I want to be in on this conversation about resilience in software development. I've read book about resilience and software that's written by the group that's running the conference and I am super interested in this. How do we build systems that are both human and software and make them strong and responsive to the world outside and get better and better? So I'm so excited about this conference that I bought a ticket. But then they accepted my talk. So I'm talking about Symmathesy, which is defined as a system of mutual learning, which in my model includes the people and the software components and crucially the tooling around our software components. So I will be doing my "Origins of opera" talk which the middle section is about symmathesy, about what changes in our work and in our prioritization and then how we think about ourselves when we picture the software and the tools as being team members, and when we picture what we're doing as a continual process of mutual learning, not as code is just such a tiny part of what we create when we work in a software team.

Tim Bourguignon:43:14For all the listeners who cannot make it to San Francisco, the version you held in Paris in March was recorded. The version you will be holding in San Francisco is a bit further down the line so it's probably a bit more mature, but the other one was recorded and is available online. I will add a link to the video in the show notes. That was a very interesting one. Seeing you live is better though. What else do you have? Something coming up after mid August 2018?

Jessica Kerr:43:57I'm doing a DDD in September. I'll be at Strangeloop of course because strangely is the best software conference in the whole world and it happens to be in St Louis. I've been to dozens of conferences and so it just happens that the best one is here at the end of September, so I highly recommend that.

Tim Bourguignon:44:30And where can the listeners get a hold of you and start discussion with you? Where would be the best place to start?

Jessica Kerr:44:41So if you really want to start a discussion, the podcast "Greater Than Code" has a Slack, a Patreon slack. If you donate a $US 1, you get an invitation to the slack... or preferably more money because we're listeners supported. But anyway, I hang out on that slack. It's the only one outside of work that I check many times a day. And we have really good supportive conversations. They're just the right size and everyone's super nice. Of course I'm also on twitter @jessitron and you can find me on Medium and Github, etc.

Tim Bourguignon:45:22What's the story behind jessitron?

Jessica Kerr:45:25Okay. Almost 20 years ago, my best friend was called Jen. Where I worked at Amdocs, the janitors' company was called Janitron. I thought that was awesome. So I started calling her Jenitron. I still call her Jenitron, but I'm really the only one who still calls her Jenitron. But of course she responded with Jessitron and I have adopted it.

Tim Bourguignon:45:51Nice one. It's been going for 20 years. Very nice story. Anything else you want to plug?

Jessica Kerr:46:06Atomist is really awesome. That's where I work, it's fantastic and we are reinventing the way we do software delivery because it is only the beginning of what we can do to automate our own work. Which gets back to what you said in the intro. I work on tools to help other developers automate more of our own work move more work from the social-half toward the technical-half of our symmathesy.

Tim Bourguignon:46:38Well, the timebox was just way too short. I feel we could have spoken way more. But let's keep our timebox a little bit over 45 minutes. Thank you very much for the discussion. That was great. And maybe we'll have you on the podcast at another point in time to discuss something else than mentoring. Maybe Symmathesy this time. Thank you very much and have a great morning, since it's still morning for you :D

Tim Bourguignon:47:24Dear listener. If you haven't subscribed yet, you can find this podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Music, and much more. And if you like what we do, please help your fellow developers discover the podcast by rating it and writing a comment on those platforms. Thanks again. And see you in two weeks!!

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