illustration for Out With The 10x Developer And In With The 10x Mentor With Tracy Lee

episode 56

Out With The 10x Developer And In With The 10x Mentor With Tracy Lee

Joel Hooks

Making technical decisions for your business when you don't have experience as a developer is difficult. It's scary to make decisions that you don't know the consequences of.

Tracy got into development when at one point she had the freetime to take an HTML, CSS, JavaScript course online. Becoming a developer taught Tracy the importance of grouping her meetings so she could have uninterrupted blocks of time to get work done. Before, she didn't realize the impact that breaking people's flow had.

A lot of people are trying to become developers. One of the more common routes now is attending a bootcamp. But be careful, not all bootcamps are equal. Graduates from some bootcamps struggle a lot harder in the hiring process than others. Make sure that you do your research and talk to people who graduated from the program.

Transcript

"Out With The 10x Developer And In With The 10x Mentor With Tracy Lee" Transcript

Quotes

"I feel like if you're not technical, it's almost like you're scared to make the decision"

". . . I group together all my meetings, because I used to be like, 'Oh, co-founder, you're not in a meeting. Oh, he's probably bored. Oh, he's not involved.' Like, my god, I was just killing his productivity the entire time."

"You should be really promoting the idea of a 10x mentor. So, helping everybody within an organization, within a development organization, should be helping facilitate each other to be successful."

"But unless you keep doing the same thing, the thing over and over and over again, and getting really good at it, then you're never going to actually grow"

". . . do your research and find people that have gone to the bootcamp, and ask them directly what their experience was"

Resources

Tracy Lee

Joel Hooks

Transcript

Joel Hooks: Hi Tracy.

Tracy Lee: Hi.

Joel Hooks: Thanks for chatting with me today. I'm really super excited. You do a lot of things that are very interesting to me and I've been kind of watching your path over the years, and I want to get into that, and I want to talk about This Dot Labs, and I'm intrigued about your hiring and apprenticeship programs, but I wanted to start with the important thing. I want to talk about barbecue, and specifically I was wondering, what's your favorite way to barbecue meats?

Tracy Lee: We use a Yoder Smoker, called the YS360. My husband is in tech as well, so he has rigged it up with all the things.

Joel Hooks: Is it Arduino-powered?

Tracy Lee: Well, it's not Arduino-powered, no. It's electric and it's a pellet smoker.

Joel Hooks: Oh, okay.

Tracy Lee: Yeah, but the reason why we wanted it was because usually when you sit there and you cook a piece of meat, you have to keep checking it over and over and over again. So, if you're going to cook a brisket or pork butt, your day is completely shot, because you have to monitor the temp the entire time. You have to stake the fire and all these other things. But with the Yoder Smoker and a lot of these other things, first off, the pellets, they feed themselves, so you don't have to touch it at all. And then, the other thing is we bought this really cool thing, it's called a fire board. I don't know if you have that as well, but it monitors so we can leave the house, go shopping, do whatever we want, we're not attached to the barbecue.

Joel Hooks: So, it's like the old Ronco Rotisserie Grill. You just set it and forget it.

Tracy Lee: Set it and forget it. Yep.

Joel Hooks: Nice.

Tracy Lee: I love brisket the most, brisket and pork would be my two favorites.

Joel Hooks: So, with your brisket, do y'all go with the Texas Crutch? Are you familiar with the Texas Crutch?

Tracy Lee: I had to look up the Texas Crutch the first time you mentioned it, and we haven't done the Texas Crutch yet. So, the Texas crutch is when you wrap it in foil to make it cook faster?

Joel Hooks: It's like it gets to a certain temperature, and what they call the stall, where it just doesn't seem like it's climbing, so it's either paper or foil, but you wrap it to give it like a cooking boost, while still maintaining your bark, because if you lose your bark you might as well just go to Arby's.

Tracy Lee: Yeah, that's actually kind of interesting, because my husband was cooking a pork butt the other day, and usually when he cooks a pork butt there's a little bit too much bark on it, like it's a little bit too hard. So-

Joel Hooks: It's like overwhelming.

Tracy Lee: Yes, but we ended up wrapping it, and it kind of toned it down a little bit and made the bark more enjoyable.

Joel Hooks: Oh, okay. I think I saw pictures of that, and that looks to me like kind of the same principle as what they call the Texas Crutch with a brisket, just kind of applied to a pork butt. Looked delicious, by the way.

Tracy Lee: [inaudible 00:02:41].

Joel Hooks: You post those, your delightful barbecue meat pictures are amazing, and apparently there's a whole community around dead meats.

Tracy Lee: Yeah. So, here's one question for you. When you do brisket, do you cut off the fat?

Joel Hooks: I trim it. Not all of it, because you need a little of it. I've actually had a problem if I don't trim it enough to where it's a fire hazard, like a really direct grease fire hazard, which is quite the ordeal to have when you're just trying to have a nice barbecue. So, I do trim it a bit, but I don't trim it too much, because you want to have a little bit. People get so technical with it, do you cook it fat side down or fat side up? It's almost like frameworks, right? People feel very strongly about how barbecue should be done.

Tracy Lee: I get so mad if he even suggests to trim it, because I need all that fat. I don't care, [crosstalk 00:03:28]-

Joel Hooks: It's delicious.

Tracy Lee: Yeah, but a lot of people are like, "Oh, but if you don't trim the fat, then the fat gets the flavor and the meat doesn't get flavor." I'm like, "Okay, forget it. I need that fat."

Joel Hooks: Yeah. Well, I mean it's the good part. It's like, I've been to Franklin in Austin, which is incredible. The brisket is not overrated. It's worth the wait at least once in your life, but they'll be like, "Do you want lean end or fat end?" It's like, "Uh, yeah, fat end, please."

Tracy Lee: Obviously the fat end. Yeah. I'll have to [inaudible 00:00:03:52].

Joel Hooks: Yeah. I've heard you referred to as a serial entrepreneur. Is that something that you identify with, do you identify yourself as a serial entrepreneur to begin with?

Tracy Lee: Yes. I'm always starting something. So, I don't know if you're familiar with like astrology signs, but I'm an Aries, and my Uber driver one day told me that what it meant to be an Aries means I'm a fire sign, but I'm a fire starter. So, that really fits with kind of everything I do, like every time I see something I'm like, "Ooh, maybe we should start something." So, I've started quite a few businesses since I was 18, and some of them work, some of them don't. Most of them don't work, but I'm happy that This Dot Labs and my last company, Dish Crawl, worked out.

Joel Hooks: What has worked? You mentioned Dish Crawl. Can you tell me about what that was? Give me kind of the elevator summary of that adventure?

Tracy Lee: We were a tech startup, but we were more tech-enabled. We'd take people on food adventures. And so, we grew from 15 people to 250 people in one year.

Joel Hooks: Wow.

Tracy Lee: I was insane. Yeah, across the U.S. and Canada. So, that meant we were in 250 different cities. That was nice. And then, I sold that a few years ago, and then just really started focusing on This Dot, which has been my baby for the past few years.

Joel Hooks: Were you a developer when you started Dish Crawl?

Tracy Lee: I was not, actually. I mean, my parents are developers.

Joel Hooks: Okay.

Tracy Lee: Yeah, I guess they are developers. Engineers, developers, whatever, you know. I wanted to go into business ever since I was younger, and when I started Dish Crawl... It's so hard, because even now I talk to people who are doing startup, or even people in large organizations, like, "Is this the right tech choice?" And they a lot of times ask me like, "Well, you know, I heard about this thing with React Native, and this is why I think that this is good," or "This is why I think Angular is good." I remember asking myself the same questions, like, "Do I go with PHP or do I go with Python?"

Joel Hooks: Yeah, with Egghead, we were like, "Is it Rails or is it Django?" Neither of which really matters that... Like, six years in it does matter, but at the same time, do something.

Tracy Lee: Exactly. Yeah, and I remember it was so painful, like, I had two PHP developers as co-founders and things were just not moving. I'm like, "Man, this takes so long." I met guy on Reddit, I used to be super big into Reddit, and he was just like, "Eh, this isn't really what you want to build." And then he built me a website using Python, and just like, we threw away like a year of code, and then the business just kind of took off.

Joel Hooks: Yeah. So, it's funny, because I'm like, "Oh, it doesn't matter, just do something," but at the same time, it really does matter. Your tech choices make a difference. I don't know, it's always this weight of, how much will this matter and what is the tech choice?

Tracy Lee: I feel like if you're not technical, it's almost like you're scared to make the decision. I've been there, because I used to not be technical, and it's like, "Oh my god, we're doing Python. What does that mean? Okay, it seems like a good choice," but you have no idea. I find all these people I talk to these days going down these paths and I'm like, "Ooh, should you really do that or should you not?"

Joel Hooks: Well, I imagine, like when you're sitting there and you don't have the technical background or vocabulary, people are literally speaking a foreign language.

Tracy Lee: Oh, it's so hard. It's so hard to make decisions based on things you don't understand.

Joel Hooks: Yeah, and you have trusted advisors, but at the same time, it's like your livelihood is hinged on these decisions.

Tracy Lee: I got into development because I had sold the company, and I was kind of in a transition period. I had to obviously start at the new company that bought us, and I was like, "Okay, you know what? For the first time in many years I can actually shut everything down, like I can literally actually ignore everything for three weeks." I took an HTML, CSS, JavaScript class online, eight hours a day, and I highly recommend any business person to do that. Even two weeks.

Tracy Lee: I remember me and my co-founder, he used to come to me and be like, "I could do it the right way, or I could do it where we're going to have to clean up some technical debt." What does me, as a business person who doesn't understand what actually technical debt means, do? I choose the one-day thing versus the three-day thing, and like, two weeks of just learning what code means.

Tracy Lee: Also, the other thing is, it really made me stop and think about meetings differently. Like, even as this business person, now I group together all my meetings, because I used to be like, "Oh, co-founder, you're not in a meeting. Oh, he's probably bored. Oh, he's not involved." Like, my god, I was just killing his productivity the entire time.

Joel Hooks: By having sporadic meetings throughout the day versus grouping them so that you have a head space to work.

Tracy Lee: Exactly. Yeah.

Joel Hooks: Yeah. I think that's really interesting. I don't think I've ever heard anybody articulate that. We have these coding bootcamps. We have folks that have business. If you are in that industry and you can afford to do it, taking a sabbatical and applying that to a coding bootcamp could be a very powerful lever for your entire rest of your business career.

Tracy Lee: It's a night and day, really. I mean, I think even as business people, you think like, "Oh, I have an eight hour day, and I can just schedule meetings." Now, even if I'm not doing development, I'm like, "My god, you can't get anything done if you don't have chunks of time." You don't have to be a developer to kind of maximize that, but I think until you're a developer, or at least until you're in places where you have to actually focus to do your job, you don't realize the actual value of it.

Joel Hooks: Yeah. I think business flow state is really weird and more difficult, where getting into a flow state as a developer makes more sense. It's almost hypnotic, like you start solving a problem and you look up and it's two in the morning, and you're like, "Wow." I've done it with business. It just isn't, I don't think it's as natural of a occurrence.

Joel Hooks: So, you did Dish Crawl, you exited that, you sold it, took some time for yourself. I remember, because I would see, you started popping up at literally like all the JavaScript conferences and the Angular conferences with Power Rangers costumes and taking fun pictures. Your selfie game is inspirational and very on-point. I love that approach. I can tell you're having fun, and I think that's amazing.

Joel Hooks: And then, that led into what you're doing now, which is This Dot Labs and This Dot Media. How do you describe that to people? How do you describe what you're currently doing to people?

Tracy Lee: This Dot Labs, specifically, is a consultancy where we really try to help enterprise companies and startups get to the next level of whatever they're doing. So, we started off as a bunch of experts in the industry. I'm on the [inaudible 00:10:27] core team, I'm a GDE, a Microsoft MVP, and all those other things, and so are some of my co-founders, and we just love the idea of helping people. So, sure, fine, we do consulting, but consulting itself isn't really that interesting to us. What's really interesting to us is this idea where we can kind of take a holistic approach to mentoring people, mentoring developers, helping make a difference within their organizations, helping transform how they think about what a developer should be, right?

Tracy Lee: Like a few weeks ago on Twitter, the 10x developer drama that was happening, oh my gosh, such a hot mess. But it's this idea where within your engineering organization, you shouldn't be a 10x developer. You should be really promoting the idea of a 10x mentor. So, helping everybody within an organization, within a development organization, should be helping facilitate each other to be successful. I love that, because technical problems are fun to solve and everything, but helping people succeed in a bigger way is way more interesting in my opinion.

Joel Hooks: Yeah, I mean, like lifting people up and helping everybody achieve. To me, the 10x developers, the person that can do that and spread what they know, not necessarily that they can write 10 times as much code or produce 10 times as many features, but they can help others, and when you spread that mentorship across them, that's when you get the true lift, and it lasts for a long, long time. It's like a longterm investment, nobody's getting burnt out, and more people are succeeding.

Tracy Lee: Yeah, for sure. Absolutely.

Joel Hooks: So, you've scaled this business too, right? Dish Crawl blew up and you scaled that to to 250 cities, and you've grown from a small company of experts to now you've scaled this business too. I think that sort of thing is hard. Hiring and being an employer has been super challenging to me. So, I was curious, what do you wish you could tell yourself before you started this, all of this, what would you go back and what would be the advice you would give in terms of scaling a business and adding employees and people to your business to collaborate with?

Tracy Lee: Oh, lord. I mean, we just hired like seven people in the past month. So, if anything, life is a little bit insane right now.

Joel Hooks: Yeah, I imagine.

Tracy Lee: I always go back... Will Bunker, who founded match.com, he was one of my first investors for Dish Crawl, and sometimes his voice is still in my head saying things. For example, he always made this comment about making the donuts. You're successful if you're making the donuts and you just got to keep making the donuts. Meaning...

Joel Hooks: You show up.

Tracy Lee: Well, yeah, it's like entrepreneurs, for example, they want to start something, and then they get bored and they want to start something else. But when you become a successful business, you are doing the same thing over and over and over again, and a lot of times, that to an entrepreneur is boring. But unless you keep doing the same thing, the thing over and over and over again, and getting really good at it, then you're never going to actually grow. So, that was really interesting to me, and I still think about that to this day.

Tracy Lee: I think culture is so important. I remember my first company, and one of the reasons why I started my first company was because I was in corporate and there were these really catty girls who would be like, "Oh my god, it's five and she's not in the office." I could see the look on their face, and I'm like, "my god, do you guys not have anything else better to do in your life?"

Joel Hooks: Yeah, get a hobby.

Tracy Lee: Yeah, exactly. This is one of the motivations for wanting to start my own business, and we grew so fast. We're like, "Okay, we need to actually hire like five people in the next whatever," like in the next week, basically, we needed to hire five people. Granted, we're doing that right now, but it's so different. What ended up happening was I wasn't actually involved in some of the key hires that we were doing. So, I ended up going into the office and creating this... I created the culture that I didn't want, this culture where there were these three girls and they had this attitude, like, "Oh, you can't sit with us." It's like, "Oh my god, what the heck just happened?" I'm going into my own company feeling like there's these catty girls now, again.

Joel Hooks: Like a high school lunch room, basically, right?

Tracy Lee: Yes. It was so terrible. So, that's one of the most important things for me. Even now, we're growing to 60 now, and I'm still involved in the hiring. I still want to make sure that the people are the right fit, because I never want that to happen again. So, what we've been able to create with the culture at This Dot is just, everybody wants to grow from each other. Everybody is a teacher. Everybody wants to mentor. Everybody believes in helping each other grow as individuals.

Joel Hooks: Yeah. Everybody's got a hand out to lift people up versus trying to push them down.

Tracy Lee: Yeah. One negative person is so hard. Also, everybody always says this, but fire fast, if it's not all working out, and I've learned that mistake over and over and over and over again.

Tracy Lee: I feel like with This Dot we've made some good decisions, so I don't have as much of this, but being a little bit younger, I mean, I did Dish Crawl for eight years. I still remember, there was these two best friends, and I was like, "Oh my gosh, if I fire one of them, then the other one, who's really good, will leave. But then, when I ended up firing one of them, the other one who was her best friend was like, "Thank god. Thank you so much. Now I can actually work." She was being such a disease to her friend at work. Those are my top things. I mean, I have so many more.

Joel Hooks: Oh, yeah, and the familiarity probably just added to that. Yeah, I was looking through this and I'm trying to come up with things to talk about, and I was like, "Wow, we could go on for hours and hours," because there's so much to this.

Joel Hooks: So, learning to be a web developer, it's really hot right now, and for understandable reasons. We get to work remote, we get to work at a computer, we're not outside sweating. It's a desirable field. The pay is really good. So, a lot of people are trying to figure that out and get into this market, and we always hear that there's a shortage, but at the same time, people are only hiring senior folks, is the feeling. I'm wondering, what sort of path have you seen people have success with, trying to get into this market, as web developers?

Tracy Lee: I would say just getting on Twitter and following the people in the industry has been where I see the most success, probably because I'm on Twitter.

Joel Hooks: Is that because we're on Twitter? Because I agree with the general sentiment, but is that because that's where we're at, or is that where it's at?

Tracy Lee: I think that that's where it's at, because you think about it, what other path do you have? Like, okay, you're a person looking for a job. What do you do? How do you get into companies? How do you get to know people at companies? It's almost impossible to do so without just getting on Twitter. Okay, you get on Twitter, now all of a sudden you know you want to work at Webflow. Okay, follow all the Webflow people. Start talking to them, figure out what they're excited about, get them to mentor you through the process, get them to know you. And then all of a sudden you're working at Webflow. I've seen that happen time and time again.

Joel Hooks: There's nuance, though, right? You can't get on Twitter and just start pinging people and adding people. How does an individual that is just learning contribute value and contribute to the conversation?

Tracy Lee: You know, it's funny because I feel like all junior developers, anytime I need a junior developer... I mean, actually, it doesn't even have to be a junior developer. Everybody is always like, "Oh, I'm not working on anything that interesting. I don't know. I don't have anything to say," but you'd be surprised. One of my friends, she's working on Angular and .NET. Man, I know you're working on some really hard problems, and there's not a lot of people talking about best practices when doing Angular and .NET integration or whatever.

Joel Hooks: Or even good practices, not even necessarily best, good practices.

Tracy Lee: Exactly, like do's and don'ts. I was laughing and I was like, "How about you just write a blog post called Don'ts?" [crosstalk 00:18:08] Because she's struggling a lot with some things within her organization. I'll tell you how I got started. One of my co-founders [inaudible 00:18:17], I had been coding for maybe three months, and he said, "Hey, why don't you come share your experiences on this Ember meetup online?" I said, "Okay." And then, I just shared what I knew. That gave me confidence, and I was like, "Oh, I could do this. Okay, people find this interesting." And then, for a good year, I just learned new technologies and shared what I learned.

Joel Hooks: When I started, it was very similar. I was learning and struggling, and I wanted to do this career, but I couldn't just switch because I couldn't take the pay hit, I have kids and stuff. What I did was I would solve something, like find a problem, do my research, solve it for myself, then just write about it. Write the problem, write the solution, write the problem, write the solution, over and over again, and that was writing for me. I would post them on Twitter or whatever, when that came around, but that process, and then open source. I got into open source and started just writing documentation, because I wasn't able to follow and contribute, but I was able to contribute at a different level.

Tracy Lee: Yeah. Documentation. I mean, literally any person you talk to who does open source, or any person you talk to who has been successful in the industry, their first answer will always be documentation. I think when junior developers hear that, they're like, "Yeah, whatever," but, I mean, if every single person you talk to is saying start with the docs, it's probably a good path.

Joel Hooks: It carries, too, it's like as senior developers or people with experience, you still should be participating in that at some level. Whether it's writing documentation to make onboarding easier when you're trying to scale, or recording screencasts, or... It takes a bunch of different forms, but this ability to communicate gets back to the idea of a Tenex mentor to me. It's this idea that throughout your entire career, you're acquiring knowledge, sharing knowledge, and using that to help boost other people and provide value to the broader community.

Tracy Lee: Yeah. Ben Lesh and I, I started this series called Yolo Brolo. So, yolo, and then bro, and then I don't know why lo, but anyways-

Joel Hooks: You crack me up by the way.

Tracy Lee: [crosstalk 00:20:19] The tagline on YouTube is Screencast of Experts Teaching Beginners. These May or May Not Be Useful. Because I swear some of them are totally not useful. Some of them are extremely useful, and we have thousands of people watching silly things about Ben teaching RxJS, and it's like small, teensy little things that he teaches me, let's say, in a screencast, that you don't realize that a lot of people just don't know. So, the more you think you don't know, the more you're just holding back on us. You need to teach everybody else.

Joel Hooks: My joke, lately, that I've been using, is that statistically speaking, nobody on the planet earth even knows HTML, much less, you start talking about our RxJS or these more complicated topics, but literally, you have something to share. We all have something to share. We all have our individual voice, or our take on it, or the path that we took to learn something. It's interesting, and the more we share... I don't know about you, but this broadcast culture that we've kind of stumbled into over the last three years, with Twitch, and YouTube, and this live recording of what I'm kind of referring to as slow content versus more edited content, there's nuggets in this, and it's really, really interesting to watch this evolve, to me.

Tracy Lee: The slow content movement, like the slow food movement, but slow content.

Joel Hooks: Yeah, well, people want to kick back, like in Egghead, if there's a criticism of our approach, it's that they're these really tightly edited, concise, kind of punch you in the face videos, and that's fine, it's a good format, but people also just want to, like after work, or while they're learning, or at lunch, just chill and watch people have conversations, and joke, and laugh, and be whimsical, and I love the way you and Ben... Y'all's chemistry is amazing, and just the way that that comes across is really inspiring and interesting, and I think useful to the broad population, too.

Joel Hooks: You keep a list on Twitter, and I know it goes beyond the Twitter list, and it's the Fempire list. This is a list of women in software development that completely changed my Twitter feed and kind of how I look at the industry in a profound way. I literally went through and ran a script, and I followed everybody, and then I've kind of pared it back, because you got to prune Twitter to make it useful. But I followed everybody. It was like 900 people at the time, and just blew my list completely out of the water, and then unfollowed a whole swath of people at the same time that I'd previously been following, and changed my perspective of the industry. I'm wondering, where does that start, where does that come from, and why do you have a Twitter list called Fempire, and what does that mean?

Tracy Lee: It started mainly because I just wanted to keep track of all the woman I've met, so it wasn't even anybody important, or exciting, or whatever. It's just random women that I've met throughout my journeys. I love that everybody just started following people in the Fempire list, because who are they? It's not like they're important for any specific reason, potentially. Right. It was so fun when I started that list because people would just be like, "Oh my gosh, I just got a thousand followers. What's going on?" And then they'd be like, "Oh, we followed you through Tracy's list." I was like, "Wow, this is so cool to see." So, that's really where it started, just because I just wanted to create a list of interesting women, and then it just got bigger and bigger and bigger. So, I keep adding to it. I mean, I obviously can't add everyone to it, just because that would be like a full-time job.

Tracy Lee: But I also have a GitHub. It's github.com/fempire, and there's a speakers list of women, where people can just submit PRs for interesting women in their communities.

Joel Hooks: Oh, nice, crowdsourcing.

Tracy Lee: Yeah, and that's just a really good way, if you want to find a speaker in India or whatever, you can find like all the woman in tech who are interested. Also organizers, finding all the woman organizers of different tech communities.

Tracy Lee: I really love empowering woman. If I had to think about my journey, so, when I was 21 or so I was in this abusive relationship, and then what I wanted to do was I did jewelry. So, when you get into relationships like that, it's all about that person disempowering you, so you feel like you can't do anything, you're stuck. So, for me, it was really important to be able to get a job, and get back on track, and have my own life again and not be dependent on somebody.

Joel Hooks: Yeah, that's important.

Tracy Lee: Yeah. And so, I've always felt very strongly about that. I had a jewelry business, and I was like, "Okay, do I go to like women's shelters and teach them how to make jewelry as a way of empowering them on how, basically, their hands can be the way they get out of this relationship, their hands can be their way to empower them to make money, et cetera." So, with Dish Crawl, who likes food and events? Women, mostly. So, it was a very large, 95% women on our team. So, that was interesting.

Tracy Lee: And then, going into tech, and going really deep into JavaScript, it's weird that it's kind of happened again. I'm in a place again where I'm like, "Wow, there are so many amazing woman in tech. How do we empower them? How do we help junior developers get jobs?" We started an apprentice program at This Dot, but it's really just part of me being excited about I think just women in general, and trying to help lift each other up. We shouldn't be tearing each other down.

Joel Hooks: There's the idea of taking up space, and putting it out there, and being present, and I really like that. I appreciate it, and I appreciate you taking the time to educate people like myself and help us push forward too, because I think what you're doing is really inspirational. I look to that, and I look, to it for guidance, and it changes my perspective and I think other people's perspective too.

Tracy Lee: That's great.

Joel Hooks: So, I think that's super valuable across the board. So, thank you for your work. [crosstalk 00:25:59] Really appreciate it.

Joel Hooks: I'm curious, because you mentioned your apprenticeship program for women trying to get into this, and how does that work? What does that look like, and how do you operate an apprenticeship program?

Tracy Lee: When I started the apprentice program, here's what was happening. This is why it started. I constantly got people asking me how they hire more women in tech, and then I get all these junior developers who are women, who have just gotten out of bootcamps, looking for jobs. And so, there's this disconnect between, you mentioned it, everybody wanting to hire a senior developer. And so, I was thinking, okay, there's all these jobs and then there's junior developers, so there's this weird disconnect. And so, what if we created a program that helped solve all these problems? So, the apprentice program was really created as a way to take all the excuses out of the business, for their reason of not hiring woman developers.

Tracy Lee: What we do is we actually pair a junior developer and a senior developer together on projects, so you combine them as a pair, and it's this idea where you can work with a junior female developer and her mentor for the course of three months to a year, on contract, and then you can hire them directly once they're ready. So, they're trained on your tech stack, they're not taking away from your senior developers because they have a PM/senior developer making sure that they're contributing and they're bringing value immediately. Hopefully, that helps the integration part, the onboarding part, which is typically the most difficult with junior developers, so they can be productive, and once they're productive on your tech stack, then you can just hire them directly.

Joel Hooks: Yeah, because the problem is two-fold. The employer wants productive employees, but people that want jobs, we all, I think for the most part, want to be on a job, be productive, and see success. We don't want to be just floundering and confused the entire time. So, it solves it on both ends of the spectrum. How do I go from not having production experience to being experienced and comfortable to where I can make a contribution as well?

Tracy Lee: It is so hard, I have to tell you. It makes me so sad to see, first off, bootcamps. I mean-

Joel Hooks: The drama?

Tracy Lee: Not all bootcamps are created equal. It's like, "Okay, I went to bootcamp," but there is a huge difference based on the bootcamp you go to. Now, I can't tell you which bootcamps to go to, and I won't mention any, but I can definitely say some graduates of different bootcamps, we've tried to get them through the apprentice program, but it's so hard, because some bootcamps just don't even teach the fundamentals.

Joel Hooks: I've seen a lot of bootcamp call-outs on Twitter lately. I'm not trying to pan anybody specifically, but it's like, do your research and find people that have gone to the bootcamp, and ask them directly what their experience was. Specifically, I've heard this advice for women and other marginalized groups, that you need to find people like you and talk to them about their experiences, because that is also a factor in a lot of these circumstances.

Tracy Lee: Well, I'll tell you about my bootcamp experience.

Joel Hooks: I'd love to hear it.

Tracy Lee: So, I took a JavaScript class after I was surrounded by tons of JavaScript experts. So, my teacher, he was like, "Oh, okay, I'm going to teach you CSS, but I don't really like CSS." This was four or five years ago, and I was like, "Oh, yeah, what do you think of ESX?" And he's like, "What is that?" And I'm thinking, "Dude, if I know more than you, no, this is not a thing." So, they actually refunded me.

Joel Hooks: That's a pretty good case for it, too. It's like, if you go into... And, you know, not all created equal. I think that's fundamentally the point here, and do your research.

Tracy Lee: For sure. Definitely.

Joel Hooks: So, to wrap this out, I was wondering, do you have any favorite book or other resource that was pivotal for you in your journey as both an entrepreneur or a developer? Something that changed the way you think?

Tracy Lee: Oh, that is such a hard question.

Joel Hooks: Yeah, and it's a prize one.

Tracy Lee: I know, I can't remember the name. It's by this Andreessen Horowitz guy, but that was probably my favorite book, Ben Horowitz, The Hard Things about Hard Things.

Joel Hooks: Oh yeah, that's a good one.

Tracy Lee: Yeah. I read so many of these different books and most of them I don't finish because I just get bored of them, but The Hard Things about Hard Things I felt like was really practical and a really easy read.

Joel Hooks: Yeah, and he talks about, you know, okay, well you got to let an employee go now, here's how I did it, and that kind of thing, but in his own stories. I really enjoyed that one quite a bit. For me lately, I just finished Thinking in Systems and it was a full mindset shift for me.

Tracy Lee: Really? Okay, I'll have to look that one up, too.

Joel Hooks: It's a good one. It's titled as a primer, but it's the most profound and also depressing book I think I've ever read, in a lot of ways.

Tracy Lee: Okay, do I want to read it now?

Joel Hooks: You do. I think everybody should. I think it should be taught in like eighth grade. I think they should use it as a textbook. We really have some things to think about as a species.

Joel Hooks: Tracy, thank you so much for hanging out with me this afternoon. I really appreciate it. I'm looking forward to seeing what you do next, and talk to you soon.

Tracy Lee: Yeah, thank you.

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