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Business Career Podcasts Programming What I’m Up To

Talking about personal agility and the Great Resignation on the “Arguing Agile” podcast

You should be a regular listener/viewer of the Arguing Agile podcast, a YouTube show hosted by Tampa Bay techies Brian Orlando and Om Patel that features local techies talking about software development, agility, and everything in between, completely unscripted and unrehearsed — just real conversations about real tech work. In the past year, they’ve published 66 episodes, the latest of which features…me!

In this episode, titled Personal Agility and the Great Resignation, we talk about doing work in the brave new world of post-2020 and discuss things such as:

  • 0:00 Intro
  • 0:24 Topic Intro
  • 0:59 Reasons for In-Person Gathering
    • Working remotely still requires some in-person gathering, because as they saying goes, sometimes, “you have to be there.”
  • 4:19 Team Bonding, Positive Vibes
    • The power of team-building ceremonies and exercises, and why they have to be meaningful and not just “doing team stuff for team stuff’s sake.”
    • In the past couple of months, I’ve had my first chances to meet with my team at Auth0 (Developer Marketing) after working with them for a year and a half — first at a small summit in Salt Lake City, and last week in London.
  • 8:40 Work, Life, & Sustainability
    • Earlier in your life, it’s much easier to work ultra-hard in the quest to advance your career, but you can’t do it for an extended period. This is the exact thing that generates mid-life crises, and physical and mental health issues.
    • Brian: “Jack Welch said a lot of stuff.”
  • 15:50 Interviews: Vetting Companies
    • During a job interview, you shouldn’t be the only one being interviewed. You should also be interviewing them!
    • How can you tell if a manager is a “Rick” looking for another “Morty” to add to his “Morty Army?”
    • I talk about a Chris Voss technique where you look at the reactions on the face of the person who isn’t speaking to get the truth.
  • 19:55 Segue on Microsoft
    • We talk about my time at Microsoft where I was a Windows Phone Champion, Albert Shum’s design for its “Metro” UI, and Microsoft’s thinking during the Ballmer era: “The mobile platform is the desktop platform, but lamer.
    • I was at a gathering of P2P people at Microsoft in 2001 that was attended by Tim O’Reilly and Dave Winer, where we were told that “IE6 will be the last browser, because the future is applets.
    • A story from my time at Cory Doctorow’s startup where how I show how hard it is to predict the future.
  • 25:51 Learning
    • A story from how I landed my job at Auth0, where I had to learn about an unfamiliar platform very quickly.
    • The importance of communication when working remotely and keeping Conway’s Law in mind.
    • Strip away the technology, and a teacher from hundreds of years ago would still recognize a present-day classroom and the lecture format.
    • We share stories about learning by doing, with Om talking about his daughter at med school and me talking about a story about the Logo programming language, where children learned beyond what they were being taught.
  • 31:12 Time to Think
  • 37:34 Evolution of Technology & Skills
    • Our first computers: I had an Apple //e and Om had a Spectrum ZX, two serious Generation X machines.
    • I learned how to program at a computer store that tolerated my hanging out: Batteries Included, in Toronto.
    • Learning new languages: Python and Lingo, and picking up new languages to get the job done. This may be the first time on the podcast series where the languages Lisp and Prolog get mentioned.
    • A question that Brian asks during interviews: “Tell me about a time in the last 18 months where you did something to update your skills.”
  • 44:55 Solving Problems
    • Software isn’t a what, it’s a how. If you make software for an industry or field, you’re not in the software industry, but the industry or field that you’re making the software for.
  • 47:51 Personal Agility
    • Between the pandemic and the current economic situation, you need to develop personal agility to survive and thrive in the current job market.
    • A number of people who participated in the Great Resignation left their jobs without having another job to jump to.
    • About not participating in what Scott Galloway calls “the menace economy”: “I want to earn fair profit for my effort, but I don’t want to do it by stepping on somebody’s neck.”
  • 53:24 Monkeys, a Banana, and a Ladder
    • When talking about organizational culture, you’ll eventually come across the “Five Monkeys Experiment,” which we discuss.
    • How office architecture mirrors office organization, culture, and hierarchy — and how remote work systems’ architecture will do the same.
    • The new generation of workers will probably have to be more adaptable than any previous generation.
  • 1:02:18 Returning to the Office
    • The majority of a developer’s day requires focus time, and that isn’t often achievable at the office.
    • The true hurdle may not be technology or office space, but organization discipline.
    • It’s quite possible to kill time unproductively at the office — we’ve all seen this.
    • “If you signed a ten-year [office space] lease in 2018, you’re probably really anxious to get people back in there.”
    • “Butts in office chairs” is the new “lines of code” metric.
  • 1:08:43 The Future
    • There’s so much traditional culture force behind the way work is done. Ebenezer Scrooge’s accounting office in A Christmas Carol isn’t all that different from its modern-day counterpart.
    • Om: “I like to see a sitcom called The Home Office.
  • 1:13:00 Wrap-Up
Categories
Entrepreneur Florida How To Podcasts What I’m Up To

Everything you need to know to win StartupBus is in this podcast, part 3

The title of this post should be a big hint: Everything you need to know in order to win StartupBus North America 2022 is contained within a podcast. This is the third in a series of posts covering the “Startup Bus” series of episodes from Gimlet Media’s Startup podcast, which covered the New York bus’ journey during StartupBus 2017.

(Did you miss the first two articles in this series? Here’s part one, and here’s part two.)

I’m posting this series as a prelude to StartupBus 2022, which takes place at the end of July. I was a contestant — a buspreneur — on the Florida bus in 2019, which made it all the way to the finals and finished as a runner-up. Now I’m a coach — a conductor — on the 2022 edition.

Here’s episode 3 of the podcast series…

…and here are the lessons I took away from this episode:

  • If you run into a difficult person in the morning, you ran into a difficult person. If you run into difficult people all day, you’re the difficult person. I don’t want to reduce Ash, one of the buspreneurs, to a single quality — difficult person — but his “hey, I’m just being real” approach to everyone and everything is one of the hallmarks of difficult person-ry. One of the challenges of being a difficult person is that people will work with you only if you provide value that outweighs your difficulty, and that’s not easy to accomplish. This episode gives us a deeper look at Ash. While he can be a difficult person, we get a better understanding of who he is. Which leads me to me to my next observation:
  • “The thing about StartupBus is that it really is like a reality TV show. It’s so intense that every interaction, every personality can feel like a caricature of real life.” In the previous episode, Eric the narrator observed that StartupBus feels a lot like one of those “reality TV” competition shows. In this episode, he takes the observation one step further by noting that in a high-pressure setup like StartupBus, it’s all too easy to reduce your busmates to the most obvious aspect of their personality. Remember that people are more than what you see on the surface.
  • Even though the company you’re creating on the bus isn’t “real,” it helps to get real users, and you either get them through your social network or through advertising. It’s more impressive to the judges at the finals when you can say “Even at this early stage, we already have x users for our product.” You may be working under a compressed timeline, but it’s still doable, and not only do users give you cred with the judges; users can also give you valuable feedback.
  • Pay attention to the details when you’re spending money. One of the teams paid for Facebook ads, but clicking on the ads took users to https://phishly.io when their site actually lived at plain old http://phishly.io. That was 65 dollars down the drain.
  • StartupBus may be the “wild card” that you need in your life. As Madelena Mak, one of the conductors on the bus says: “I think like lot of people who join the bus have that same feeling I felt, like that they want to be dealt a wildcard. That they want to be pushed to the limits so they can break out of their own old molds. Like they want to be something more than who they think they can be. It’s not about the bus. It’s about learning something about yourself.”
  • The pitching gets tougher. As the bus approaches the destination city — New Orleans in the case of StartupBus 2017, Austin in this year’s case — you’ll be pitching in front of judges who’ll ask questions that will require you to have thought through more angles. For example:
    • Team Daisy — the folks behind the funeral-planning app — were asked if they’d considered handling issues beyond just the funeral, such as death certificates.
    • Team Denari — the team with the app for sending cryptocurrency to people in need — got stuck on a question that exposed their blockchain-induced blindness. When they said that they could outdo GoFundMe because it services only 19 countries, one of the judges countered with “You are talking about now securities exchange over multiple countries. Maybe there are reasons GoFundMe only deals with 19. Which I haven’t heard you guys say. Is it cause they don’t want to? Because that’s kind of what it comes off as. It’s like, ‘GoFundMe is the largest one, they’re only in 19 countries.’ Why is that?”

Categories
Entrepreneur Florida How To Podcasts What I’m Up To

Everything you need to know to win StartupBus is in this podcast, part 2

ThinkInsideTheBus - StartupBus

As the title of this post puts it: Everything you need to know in order to win StartupBus North America 2022 is contained within a podcast. This is the second in a series of posts covering the “Startup Bus” series of episodes from Gimlet Media’s Startup podcast, which covered the New York bus’ journey during StartupBus 2017.

If you haven’t yet seen the previous post, check it out! It covers episode 1 of the Startup Bus series, which introduces you to the buspreneurs on the 2017 New York bus.

Episode 2: It’s like one of those competition TV shows!

You can listen to episode 2 on its page or use the player below:

Here are my notes from this episode:

  • Eric the narrator discovers the secret of StartupBus: it’s like a reality TV show, but in real life! “When I was growing up, my family was very into a particular kind of reality tv—competition shows… I thought I’d be reporting on a hackathon. I’d find one person, going through something interesting, and we’d just see how their week played out. Pretty simple. But when I woke up in a hotel in Raleigh, North Carolina that Tuesday morning, and I saw a giant “StartupBus” decal on the charter coach outside my window, I had this realization that would have thrilled my younger self to no end: “Holy shit. I’m not just reporting a story about a hackathon, I have landed inside a real life competition show.”

    The lesson you should take from Eric’s realization: if you think you wasted your time watching Survivor, The Amazing Race, or similar shows, guess what…you didn’t! A lot of the personal dynamics on those shows is pretty much like those on StartupBus.
  • Be prepared to pitch constantly. Eric observes: “To get the day started, each team sends one person to the front of the bus to practice their pitch over the intercom. This is something that happens a lot on StartupBus—people are practicing their pitches constantly.”
  • Be prepared for surprise challenges and surprise obstacles. StartupBus borrows a big trick from reality TV shows: surprise obstacles. When the bus pulls into Charlotte, North Carolina, the New York team finds out that they’ll be pitching against two other teams — a bus that started in Akron, Ohio and another that started in…Tampa!
  • Don’t limit yourself to just software, because there’s a chance that some team on another bus isn’t limiting itself to just software. “And the Ohio bus is impressive in its own way. It turns out they teamed up with some people from San Francisco, and they’re manufacturing physical products. So they have 3D printers and computer aided design software. The whole thing feels like that scene in “The Sandlot” when the other team shows up in their actual jerseys and matching converse sneakers, and all of a sudden you realize, ‘Oh… this is some real competition.’”
  • Try not to fall into the trap of traditional gender dynamics. On one team, there’s a good news/bad news thing going on because they’re electing one of the women to be CEO; the bad news is that it’s a job that none of them particularly want, and a lot of it will be about reining in unruly behavior.
  • Have a plan for managing conflict. On another team, a “that’s just who I am” kind of guy butts head against a woman on his team. This is a pretty big topic, and I’ll write more about it in a later post. Just know that you may have to manage conflict within the team.

Categories
Programming Security What I’m Up To

Learn how to add Auth0 authentication to Android and iOS apps built with React Native!

Do you write apps in React Native? Do you want to add authentication — that is, login and logout — to those apps? If so, these articles are for you!

If you’re writing an Android app in React Native and you need users to log in and log out, don’t roll your own authentication! Use Auth0 instead. You’ll get full-featured authentication and have more time to concentrate on your app’s full functionality.

The article Get Started with Auth0 Authentication in React Native Android Apps gives you a tutorial where you make an Android app that lets users log in with an app-specific username/password combination or a Google account.

There’s also an iOS-specific version of this article: Get Started with Auth0 Authentication in React Native iOS Apps. Just like the Android version, this article walks you through the process of making an iOS app that lets users log in with an app-specific username/password combination or a Google account.

Both articles appear in the Auth0 Developer Blog and were written by guest author Wern Ancheta, with technical editing and additional content by Yours Truly!

Categories
Entrepreneur Florida How To Podcasts What I’m Up To

Everything you need to know to win StartupBus is in this podcast, part 1

I’ll repeat what this post’s title is telling you: Everything you need to know in order to win StartupBus North America 2022 is contained within a podcast. More specifically, the “Startup Bus” series of episodes from Gimlet Media’s Startup podcast, which covered the New York bus’ journey during StartupBus 2017.

This five-part series covered the journey from its start in New York City to the finals in New Orleans. It features reporter Eric Mennel, who “embedded” with the StartupBus New York bus in July 2017 to follow the participants, talk to them, and report on what happened. It gives you a look not just into the teams and their projects, but the people in those teams, what drives them, and the very personal reasons why they chose to go on the bus.

I participated as a “buspreneur” (their word for contestant) in StartupBus 2019 — the tenth StartupBus North America event — and our team took the Florida Bus to the finals, where our project got the runner-up position. As a way of preparing for my ride, I listened to these episodes three times, which gave me plenty of opportunity to distill a lot of knowledge from them.

I’m quite certain that this knowledge played a role in our team’s success, and I think it can play a role in yours — but only if you ride the bus!

Episode 1: Boarding and brainstorming

You can listen to episode 1 on its page or use the player below:

Here are my notes from the episode:

  • Rule number one of StartupBus is that there is no “number two” on the bus. Bus toilets aren’t as well-sealed as airplane toilets, and if you poop on the bus, it will be bad for everyone concerned — especially you, because we’ll all be giving you the stink-eye from now on.
  • You’re going to make your first pitch very soon after the bus departs. At the start of the ride, every buspreneur stands in front of the bus and makes a first pitch. This pitch will be for two things:
    • Yourself: You’ll be selling yourself to prospective teams. You’re going to need to convince people why you should be on their team or why they should be on yours. It works best if you can have your unique value proposition ready in advance.
    • Your startup idea: If you have a startup idea — that is, if you have a problem and a solution — you should be ready to pitch it. You want your fellow buspreneurs to want to work on your startup idea!
  • Be ready for chaos after the first pitches. After the pitches, people will start looking for and forming teams. Be ready to move about the bus to talk to different groups.
  • Build a balanced team. You’re going to need a variety of skills to get the job done in three days.
  • Day one of StartupBus is about coming up with and validating your idea. Your idea will be tested, and you may need to modify it slightly — or make a big pivot. Be prepared to do either.
  • There’s a difference between a technology and a solution. One of the teams that initially looks like a collection of all-stars ends up without a product idea because they were focused more on blockchain than a solving a problem with blockchain. As the saying goes: “People don’t really buy drills, they buy holes.”
  • If the technology you plan to use isn’t something laypeople are familiar with, you may need to spend some time explaining it. The blockchain team ended up spending a lot of the time allotted to their pitch explaining what a blockchain was, and why it might be essential to the problem they hadn’t quite settled on solving. Remember, this was 2017, well before the time when crypto exchanges were easy to find online and celebrities were shilling for cryptocurrency companies; in fact, it would be a little bit before “BitConneeeeeeeeeeect!”. Keep this is mind if your startup is going to be NFT-based — you’re going to spend a good chunk of your pitch explain them to the judges, which will take away from the time to pitch what your project actually does.
  • The conductors are there to help you. Not only that; all the conductors have been on StartupBus before, so we’ve gone what you’re going through now, we learned from our experiences, and we’ve internalized those lessons. Our job is to actively help you make your startup, project, and pitch be the best they can be.
  • The conductors are there to challenge you. The ride to Austin will not be direct. There will be stops, where you will face challenges. A mere 4 hours after the New York 2017 bus departed, the teams had to make their first pitch in front of a panel of judges in Washington, D.C..
  • Try to avoid talking over other team members. Day one is about initial ideas and refinement, and there’s a lot of talking and brainstorming. Your team should try to make sure that team members don’t talk over other team members.
  • Find out why your fellow buspreneurs are there. There are all sorts of reasons why someone would go on StartupBus, but there are a few particular categories of “why” that you’ll definitely see:
    • Seekers: There are always a number of buspreneurs who are participating because they’re looking for something: options for a new career path, new perspectives, new experiences, a chance to see parts of the country they otherwise wouldn’t see, and meaning. They can be great “idea” people, as they’re on the bus with the specific goal of trying new things.
    • Shakers: There are also always buspreneurs who want to “shake up” their current situation. Perhaps they’re in a job or life situation they don’t like, feel they’ve fallen into a rut, or want some experience that will set them apart from other job candidates (this is one of the reasons I went in 2019). These are great “doers,” because their reason to be on the bus is to do new things.
    • Hackathon junkies: Just as there are people who regularly compete in marathons and triathlons, there are people who regularly compete in hackathons (and remember, that’s what StartupBus is). Having one on your team is a real help — they have experience delivering a proof of concept in short order.

Watch this blog for the next episode, and my notes from that episode!

Categories
Programming What I’m Up To

Ghosted after submitting a job interview programming assignment (5 years ago today)

Five years ago today, I submitted the first of two programming assignments as part of a job interview with a company that makes applications for the trucking industry.

May 2017

Ben Affleck in the "job interview" scene from "Good Will Hunting".

My interview at the company’s head office is going well. I’m giving them my Q&A A-game, the back-and-forth is flowing smoothly, and my knowledge of the trucking industry and lore — a combination of having done some research as well as repeated listenings to the Mark Dalton, Trucker/Detective audiobook series — seems to be paying off.

Ninety minutes into the one-hour interview, the CTO puts the brakes on the conversation and proposes a next step.

“We like your breadth of experience,” he says. “Now we’d like to test your depth. If we gave you a quick programming assignment, which would you prefer — writing an iOS app, or an Android app? You should go with the one you’re stronger in.”

I’m a much stronger iOS programmer than an Android one. The smart move would be to answer “iOS,” and be done with it.

But in that moment, I remember the motto: Be like Han.

Tap to view the “Be like Han” philosophy at full size.

Instead, I reply “Yes, but you’re looking for someone to lead a team of both iOS and Android developers. You really should give me both.

The CTO raises an eyebrow, makes a note on his pad, and says “Hmmm…I think I will.”

This is either a “total baller move” (to borrow a turn of phrase the kids are using these day), or the end of that job prospect. But for the job that they’re trying to fill, taking on that challenge was the right thing to do.

I leave the interview with just one thought: Good thing I don’t have a job. This is going to be a lot of work.

The app

I decided to tackle the iOS version first. The tricky part was that the assignment required that the app be written in the old iOS programming language, Objective-C. In 2017, Swift had been around for 3 years, so it was still reasonable to expect to do some Objective-C development.

Actual code from the project.

I made the leap to Swift as soon as it came out, so it had been 3 years since I’d done any Objective-C coding. It took me a couple of hours to regain my “C legs,” but after a few days’ work, I managed to come up with this app:

For the really curious, you can check out the project I submitted in this GitHub repo.

5 years later

Now I’m in the position where I am handing out programming assignments to prospective employees. I keep my 2017 experience in mind, which means:

  • I try to be respectful of their time. The assignment should be detailed enough to provide a realistic picture of the the candidate’s abilities but not so complex that they have to drop everything — including home/family responsibilities and their current job — to be able to complete it.
  • I try to be open to communication and responsive. I never want them to have that “ghosted” feeling I got five years ago.

Categories
Conferences What I’m Up To

How to “work the room” at PyCon US 2022!

You never know what kind of connections you’ll make!

PyCon US 2022 is happening this week, with tutorials happening on Wednesday and Thursday, and the main conference starting on Friday and running through the weekend. It’s Python’s largest conference, and according to the venue’s events calendar, almost 3,500 people are expected to attend!

I’m sure that you’ve perused the schedules and picked out the ones that you’d like to attend (and hey, be sure to check out my teammate Jess Temporal’s talk on JSON Web Tokens — a.k.a. JWTs — on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. in room 255DEF). Or perhaps you plan to hit some booth on the Expo floor (come by the Auth0 booth — I’ll be there!). 

But have you planned out how you’re going to work the room?

What is “working the room?”

It’s been my experience that some of the most important things I’ve learned and all the connections I’ve made at conferences didn’t happen at the presentations. Instead, they happened between presentations — in the hallways, lounges, lunches, and social gatherings, where I had the chance to chat with the speakers, organizers, and the other attendees. This observation is so common that it’s given rise to “unconferences” like BarCamp, whose purpose is to invert the order of things so that the conference is more “hallway” than “lecture theatre”.

It’s especially important to talk to people you don’t know or who are outside your usual circle. Books like The Tipping Point classify acquaintances with such people as “weak ties”. Don’t let the word “weak” make you think they’re unimportant. As people outside your usual circle, they have access to a lot of information, people, and opportunities that you don’t. That’s why most people get jobs through someone they know, and of those cases, most of the references came from a weak tie. The sorts of opportunities that come about because of this sort of relationship led sociologist Mark Granovetter to coin the phrase “the strength of weak ties”.

The best way to make weak ties at a conference is to work the room. If the phrase sounds like sleazy marketing-speak and fills your head with images of popped collars and wearing too much body spray, relax. Working the room means being an active participant in a social event and contributing to it so that it’s better for both you and everyone else. Think of it as good social citizenship.

If you’re unsure of how to work the room, I’ve got some tips that you might find handy…

Have a one-line self-introduction

A one-line self-introduction is simply a single-sentence way of introducing yourself to people you meet at a conference. It’s more than likely that you won’t know more than a handful of attendees and introducing yourself over and over again, during the conference, as well as its post-session party events. It’s a trick that Susan RoAne, room-working expert and author of How to Work a Room: The Ultimate Guide to Making Lasting Connections In-Person and Online teaches, and it works. It’s pretty simple:

  • Keep it short — no longer than 10 seconds, and shorter if possible. It’s not your life story, but a pleasantry that also gives people just a little bit about who you are.
  • Make it fit. It should give people a hint of the cool stuff that you do (or, if you’re slogging it out in the hopes of doing cool stuff someday, the cool stuff that you intend to do.)
  • Show your benefits. Rather than simply give them your job title, tell them about a benefit that your work provides in a way that invites people to find out more. Susan RoAne likes to tell a story about someone she met whose one-liner was “I help rich people sleep at night”. That’s more interesting than “I’m a financial analyst”.

My intro will be something along the lines of “I’m a rock and roll accordion player, but in my side gig, I’m a developer advocate for an incredibly cool company that helps make logins happen.”

How to join a conversation

At PyCon, you’ll probably see a group of people already engaged in a conversation. If this is your nightmare…

Click to read the Onion article.

…here’s how you handle it:

  1. Pick a lively group of people you’d like to join in conversation. As people who are already in a conversation, they’ve already done some of the work for you. They’re lively, which makes it more likely that they’re open to people joining in. They’ve also picked a topic, which saves you the effort of having to come up with one. It also lets you decide whether or not it interests you. If they’re lively and their topic of conversation interests you, proceed to step 2. If not, go find another group!
  2. Stand on the periphery and look interested. Just do it. This is a conference, and one of the attendees’ goals is to meet people. Smile. Pipe in if you have something to contribute; people here are pretty cool about that.
  3. When acknowledged, step into the group. You’re in like Flynn! Step in confidently and introduce yourself. If you’ve got that one-line summary of who you are that I talked about earlier, now’s the time to use it.
  4. Don’t force a change of subject. You’ve just joined the convo, and you’re not campaigning. Contribute, and let the subject changes come naturally.

Feel free to join me in at any conversational circle I’m in! I always keep an eye on the periphery for people who want to join in, and I’ll invite them.

More tips

Here’s more advice on how to work the room:

  1. Be more of a host and less of a guest. No, you don’t have to worry about scheduling or if the coffee urns are full. By “being a host”, I mean doing some of things that hosts do, such as introducing people, saying “hello” to wallflowers and generally making people feel more comfortable. Being graceful to everyone is not only good karma, but it’s a good way to promote yourself. It worked out really well for me; for example, I came to the first DemoCamp (a regular Toronto tech event back in the 2000s) as a guest, but by the third one, I was one of the people officially hosting the event.
  2. Beware of “rock piles”. Rock piles are groups of people huddled together in a closed formation. It sends the signal “go away”. If you find yourself in one, try to position yourself to open up the formation.
  3. Beware of “hotboxing”. I’ve heard this term used in counter-culture settings, but in this case “hotboxing” means to square your shoulders front-and-center to the person you’re talking to. It’s a one-on-one version of the rock pile, and it excludes others from joining in. Once again, the cure for hotboxing is to change where you’re standing to allow more people to join in.
  4. Put your coat and bag down. Carrying them is a non-verbal cue that you’re about to leave. If you’re going to stay and chat, put them down. When you’re about to leave, take your coat and bag and start saying your goodbyes.
  5. Show and tell. We’re geeks, and nothing attracts our eyes like shiny, interesting pieces of tech and machinery. It’s why I carry my accordion around; I think of it as a device that converts curiosity into opportunity (and music as well). I’ll be doing the same with my iPhone and ARKit apps as well! Got a particularly funky laptop, netbook, smartphone or new device you just got from ThinkGeek? Got a neat project that you’ve been working on? Whatever it is, park yourself someplace comfortable in the hallway, show it off and start a conversation!
  6. Save the email, tweets and texts for later, unless they’re important.They’ll draw your attention away from the room and also send the message “go away”.
  7. Mentor. If you’ve got skills in a specific area, share your knowledge. Larry Chiang from GigaOm says that “It transitions nicely from the what-do-you-do-for-work question. It also adds some substance to party conversations and clearly brands you as a person.”
  8. Be mentored. You came to RWDevCon to learn, and as I said earlier, learning goes beyond the sessions. One bit of advice is to try and learn three new things at every event.
  9. Play “conversation bingo”. If there are certain topics that you’d like to learn about at PyCon, say ARKit, Android, architecture, and so on, put them in a list (mental, electronic or paper) of “bingo” words. As you converse at the conference, cross off any of those topics that you cover off the list. This trick forces you to become a more active listener and will help you towards your learning goals. Yelling “BINGO!” when you’ve crossed the last item on the list can be done at your discretion.

I’ll see you at PyCon, and if you see me or anyone else on the Auth0 team, please say “hi” — we would love to meet you!