Quality Bits

Learning Culture, Collaboration, and Experiments with Andrei Bechet

December 26, 2023 Season 2 Episode 9
Quality Bits
Learning Culture, Collaboration, and Experiments with Andrei Bechet
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of the Quality Bits podcast, Lina  interviews Andrei Bechet, a Senior Software Engineer at Personio. You will learn about  experiments, driving change, and the power of learning cultures with Andrei.

You'll also hear why chasing titles isn't the key to career growth - and what to do instead. Tune in to learn the secrets of collaboration, self-reflection, and finding the right mentors for your journey.

Find Andrei on:

Mentions and resources:

If you liked this episode, you may as well enjoy this past episode of Quality Bits:
Quality, Cynefin and bugs with Steve Upton https://www.buzzsprout.com/2037134/11248422

Follow Quality Bits host Lina Zubyte on:

Follow Quality Bits on your favorite listening platform and Twitter:
https://twitter.com/qualitybitstech to stay updated with future content.

If you like this podcast and would like to support its making, feel free to buy me a coffee:

Thank you for listening! ✨

Lina Zubyte (00:06):
Hi everyone. Welcome to Quality Bits, a podcast about building high quality products and teams. I'm your host, Lina Zubyte. This episode's guest is Andrei Bechet, a Senior Software Engineer at Personio. Andrei is extremely passionate about learning and everything related to it. So in this episode we're talking about experiments, driving change in the companies, learning cultures, how can we learn better, titles even... So you're going to learn quite a few things to support your growth journey. Enjoy this conversation.

Hi Andrei. Welcome to Quality Bits. Could you shortly introduce yourself?

Andrei Bechet (00:59):
Hi, I'm Andrei Bechet. I am 35 years old. I'm living currently in Munich for a bit more than 10 years and working in the software industry. I originally come from Romania, from Sibiu, and I would say I'm generally interested in the technology part and also how people work together. I consider that not only just software, but in general how people build technology. It's a very social kind of a work. There are parts where you get to work alone, however, there's a good chunk of collaboration and I think that more often than now, we don't focus on that part.

Lina Zubyte (01:41):
That's a very good point. And likely there couldn't be technology without people.

Andrei Bechet (01:47):
Yeah, although we don't know where we're heading nowadays.

Lina Zubyte (01:50):
So could you tell a little bit about your current role? What are you doing? How does your day look like?

Andrei Bechet (01:57):
Sure. I'm currently working for Personio, it's a company located in Munich. It actually started in Munich. It provides an HR big software for all your needs and for small size and mid-level companies and we have offices in multiple parts of Europe and even the US and it's quite interesting regarding our first point of collaboration. So my day-to-day starts with me reorganizing my thoughts, gathering any observations I've had from the day before or from the week before if it's a Monday. I usually like to note down by hand, although I might use technical tools on my iPad, I still like to have the feeling of writing. So I'll review those notes and then prepare some sort of a to-do plan of what's important for the day. Then there's the daily, so collaborative aspect of planning and seeing what's up. Team is a mix of people from all over, multiple continents.

Luckily we're mostly located in Munich so we can meet in the office and we do that not every day and it's not a must. So digital is a big part. We use Zoom for that and we try to get better and better at writing nowadays is kind of a new trend within the company. Also within our team, which is a good thing I must say. Then we basically merge and morph or split or focus on different solutions. The way how I see my role is beyond just having an individual impact, so delivering some particular part of software: frontend/backend, it doesn't matter. And it goes into the understanding what's coming around, planning a bit, talking to the teams next to us, is there something new coming about even more overarching ideas such as a tech vision or an architecture vision. And for that you need a lot of time to think and write down your ideas, exchange them with people, try to understand their point of views, see what you're missing, if you're missing anything, and so on. So it's a lot of everything and nothing at the same time.

Lina Zubyte (04:20):
It sounds like there's quite a lot of collaboration. What are your current challenges? Do you have any, because it sounds like a perfect team, right? You collaborate, you work everything out, but is there something that you're more focusing on nowadays?

Andrei Bechet (04:37):
Actually I'm quite happy with the way how we're working within the team and we're evolving a lot on trying to find basically the processes which work for us. So we try different things and we see what does the definition of done look for us for example, or do we need story points? Or how do we need story points? What do we need to do with them? What are we doing with them? Within the team, it's related around how are we working together. I think it took a while for us to get to where we are. However, I think it's normal. Such processes can be rapid. If there's a very, very specific goal, we need to achieve this and then we can park certain things like definition of done if we have a clear goal or story points. But if there's something like a long-term goal or maybe even an unknown goal or you're defining the goal, then how we're working together takes time and you have to just bear with it and accept that some processes might not work the way you want to and go to propose some idea, bring something to the table and have the thought in mind that it might not work at all. Accept that your idea is not right.

And I think that mindset is really important. And in the company level, I think Personio is going through quite a bit of changes. It's scaling up. A bunch of new people, very experienced people who have been working in bigger companies, Google, Meta and the likes, and they're bringing a bit of a mind shift change, which is good. This one thing which led you to some revenue and there's another thing which leads you past that revenue to something far more big to name one type of change. And I think we're at that inflection point where we have to change some mindset and it can be a bit chaotic and it requires people to have a bit of a mindset towards accepting change and living with this. Yeah, it can be fun. At least it's never boring, right?

Lina Zubyte (06:40):
Yeah. I think also the processes conversation is very important, but a lot of people hate it. They're like, oh no, there will be something else. Some kind of frame, some box you will put us into. But as you said, it's experiments and you have to understand that not every experiment is going to be successful in a sense, but you will learn something from it. But you also should have fairly well-defined experiments so that you know what you are looking at and also something that is not going to make everything collapse, that you're not going to do something extremely drastic that will ruin the whole system. Actually there was recently a talk by Steve Upton about experiments. We can link it as well, which was unbelievably interesting, how to make a good experiment. It's not just that you fail fast, you fail fast wisely. But it's also a mindset thing because a lot of us really struggle with that. It's like I'm working my way and then now you come here and I need to try new things. We can get defensive, we can get all kinds of ways. How do you deal with that? Are people defensive And when they are, what do you do then?

Andrei Bechet (07:58):
True. I like the idea you mentioned the experiments, linking it with fail fast. I'm listening every now and then to Simon Sinek's podcast and have read the books. And he mentioned one interesting term, I'm not sure if it was his, he mentioned something in the lines of fall fast, don't fail fast, right? Fail is more catastrophic, sounds a bit more scary and somehow attached to more risk, but fall fast like little children, you fall, you get up, you continue.

Lina Zubyte (08:31):
Yeah, I like that. It's just that the mindset or this generic idea, yeah, it's easy, right? We agree with that but it also looks like everyone else has to change but me because doing it all right.

Andrei Bechet (08:44):
True, true. It's a bigger mindset. I think we should stick to simplicity somehow, both in software and in processes. So start with something, what's our prerequisite? What do we know so far and what do we want to achieve? Where do we want to go and what would be the smallest step to infirm or confirm that we are on the right track?

Lina Zubyte (09:08):
I like small steps. I also always would say my motto is step-by-step. So when it comes to product quality, what matters to you? When you're building something, what is good to you? What is high quality product?

Andrei Bechet (09:24):
It's mix of a lot of things. Are we building a complete new solution, something which never existed before? Say chat GPT, right? You've only had it in movies that you were talking to your AI assistant or are we bearing an existing product? Are we revolutionizing an industry? I'm thinking of Apple and the first iPod or even what Spotify did. So these are kind of questions, what should set our initial view of things and then somehow we should take it into consideration our current company. So at the meta level, what type of company are we are tech driven, like Google or Netflix? Are we design driven - Apple? Or are we sales driven? Like a lot of other companies. That would give us certain arguments to leverage and even help us define some boundaries around it. And from there we can try to understand who is our customer, what are we doing actually who's our customer?

Because sometimes the user and the customer could be two different things. So if we can somehow link them together, that could tell us at least where we are going. And then there's the building part. And the building part relies heavily on the people and how the people are working together and the capability of the people. Sure we can learn a few things, new things, we can learn a lot, everything can be achievable. Is it going to work within the timeframe we're setting ourselves for or not? And are we build the best solution in the best programming language, using the best frameworks and at least two years too late might be a drastic example, but it kind of hits back to simplicity. Maybe we should not change too many things at the same time if you're experimenting with a new solution, something else. But if we're for example bettering an existing product, then maybe we can experiment with a new way of building stuff.

Lina Zubyte (11:35):
What kind of experiments have you had recently at your company? Is there something that you could share?

Andrei Bechet (11:40):
We've started with, so in the team we've had one initiative creating a new view of our software. So we wanted to enable the user to see better what integrations so in the marketplace they're working and how what's going on. So give a bit of a broader view. We had a clear idea of where we wanted to go. It didn't feel too complex, but we were overwhelmed with too many things we could do and they don't know exactly where to start. And I remember I think a year or two ago having a training organized by Paulo Caroli in ThoughtWorks about the lean inception process and I specifically remember one part of it because we had a lot about it so we didn't need to execute the whole lean inception. But there was that one part where you, okay, you had the product vision, you knew your customers, you knew the building blocks and now it was all about collaborating on putting them on some sort of waves of releases and increments.

What's the MVP of this current feature and what are the increments? And I had the overview and having tried the whole inception once I had that experience, but nobody in my team fully followed and it was great to see how they just jumped on and everyone welcomed the idea. We had the workshop where we took the work of some of the teammates who defined the blocks and then we arranged them what's important according to the roles in the lean inception, the effort, the user values or UX and business value and arranged them. And everyone had a lot of clarity afterwards and it was really cool to see, I don't know, three months down the lane when we were making progress, people pulling up where are we? Let we pull out the Miro board with that, the inception wave definition and see where we are, what's going on. And other people would be like, okay, but is this still important? Should we reshuffle a bit? Maybe this is not important anymore. And it was quite interesting because it was bringing this order, it made sure that everyone was on board and it was working with chunks of work. I like to call them chunks of work so that we don't tie them to necessarily one Jira ticket or whatever software you're using to track that. And it was a really, really interesting experience and I think we will keep it.

Lina Zubyte (14:15):
It sounds like you are living the ideas of Simon Sinek. You're starting with why you're understanding what matters and you keep asking what matters. Is it still important? Has anything changed? And again, having this simplistic mindset, right?

Andrei Bechet (14:33):
Yeah, it sounds like, I didn't connect it to Simon Sinek, it's really cool.

Lina Zubyte (14:41):
So it's teams that build good products, but we also all are individuals of course, and we want to have our career growth. When I think of high performing teams, very often I see the team as one, so we all compliment each other. We work together that there is this one beast that creeps in which is performance reviews or that we want to get a raise, I want to get a raise and even though we're in the same team, I mean I'm fine that you get a raise, but I want to get a raise and it can be very hard then to measure this and even we are in this society where someone starts in software development, they may get a raise in two years, they expect a raise, then they expect a title change. Why do you chase titles so much? What's your opinion on this topic?

Andrei Bechet (15:37):
That's an interesting question. It's definitely a hard one to answer. I think there are multiple reasons, multiple facets and probably depends on the individual. Titles could be somehow validating your value, your status potentially it could go back to something very, very, very old in our societies. Within a certain group of people, the tribe, someone having the title of the hunt leader or pack leader or tribe leader would sure you have a lot of responsibility. It adds a bit. It kind of tempers the ego as well, but I don't know if that's the only part. Also there's a financial aspect of it. Let's say you are a mid-level, whatever that is, and you want to earn more because of several reasons. You want to provide for your family to name one. Third one could be that you like to work at one level and then you start to outgrow it and you want to work at a bit different level within the company or the system and the next level would provide you with that in a bit indirect way because if you're promoted to the next level, then the expectations change.

The expectations change, then naturally the playing ground gets a bit bigger and potentially these are the main ones. I'm not sure I've covered everything. I'm pretty sure there are other reasons one might like to be promoted. Why are we doing this so fast? The second part of the question, I think that that's an interesting, that probably the aspect which could be how our societies is right now. Everything has to happen yesterday if possible. Some standup comedian, I don't remember which one was it. I want Amazon to deliver me the stuff which I was thinking about it give it to me directly without even knowing that I want it. I want it now. Now that's a great service! Joke of course. So it goes into this, we are running and running and running and sprinting and even the scrum right refers to as sprints come on.

Lina Zubyte (18:01):
Yeah, the rush culture. I really hope and I wonder if it's just me or more people as well trying to slow down a little bit more because after rushing for multiple years, I'm now more and more realizing title doesn't really matter. I was a head of. I'm not anymore "head of". And when you reach it, it's like, okay, now what am I supposed to do now? Okay, I reached this. And the fact that you will not be able to do everything in your life, whatever your goals are, even if you answer all your emails, there will be new emails coming in, so you are going to generate this productivity thing it it's such a trap to be like why will be so effective and efficient? I'll just work all through this and we used to be even proud of overtime or of this work culture.

I hope that we are a little bit more conscious of this and more thinking about slowing down and understanding that there are lots of risks and dangers of this rush. Is it just me? How do you feel? Are we slowing down or not? Or are we slowing down when we gain certain experience? Because if I think about software development, it's like what I see so many people become a senior in five years. Five years is not a long time. If you look at it, right, it's not much. Why would someone be already a senior? Are they a senior in five years? Well, it depends on what they know.

Andrei Bechet (19:30):
It could also be that the levels have been watered down a bit. I'm thinking 30 years ago did we have, I dunno, three or four more levels on top of senior because now we do.

Lina Zubyte (19:42):
And we create the levels because we're like I want to be more than senior.

Andrei Bechet (19:46):
Senior plus plus!

Lina Zubyte (19:48):
Yes. Third level of senior.

Andrei Bechet (19:50):
Yes, I'm not sure if we're slowing down or we're accelerating some more or we're just giving the impression that we're slowing down. I'm definitely under the impression that the whole covid situation did make us go a bit inward because we were all at home, right? And we're thinking, okay, great, maybe I tried to work more but that doesn't work. The doctor says to go outside and have a walk maybe alone of course. People tried doing different things, people jumped in Zoom calls and cooked together. So I think people got some time to think about these accelerations or and the speed of doing things probably were coming back to "normal", putting normal because I'm not sure if that's normal, but certain things did change, but I don't know if the speed with which we want to deliver things has necessarily decreased. However, I personally, on a personal level, I do share your thoughts.

That title after a while is not necessarily the most important thing if the company has other means. So if you can increase what's important for me, right? If I can increase sometimes my playing ground, if something interesting pops up, I should not be told, Hey, you are just level X and we need level x plus one to sit at the table. That would probably annoy me. Or the fact that someone else at the plus plus level comes and tells you that now you should do this. So having a dialogue and being able to chime in and to contribute, sure someone else will have more experience. Hopefully the title reflects that and I believe that the experience and the way how they talk or the way how they approach a problem should dictate more the seniority and that thing happens anyways without titles. If there's a good communication, collaboration, feedback culture.

Lina Zubyte (21:55):
It's also very natural career progression when we see a team member already taking on certain responsibilities, they just blend into their new level or role. There are certain interests or motivations that people have. I really like to do moving motivators. There are these cards. There's also an online board with people because then you ask them what matters to you? Is it status, is it money, is it appreciation? Is it teamwork? The interesting part is it changes with time. So when you revisit something then you realize that, okay, I had some conversations with some people. I was managing that first they thought this thing matters, then something happened. There was some situation in the company and they said, you know what? Actually this doesn't matter this much. This other thing matters to me because here I didn't feel good. I felt really bad. And I always like to talk more about their goals and learnings rather than titles.

I know that a lot of people have it as a goal, oh, I want to be mid-level next year, but what does it mean? What does it mean to you? What do you want to learn to get there? I think this takes it away from just this title thing because when it's title then you also put yourself in such a frame and you're like, okay, I have to do this and this and this. Learn this framework, learn this programming language because otherwise I will not get it. No, it's like what do you want to learn? Which is a much harder conversation, but people are afraid maybe sometimes to say it because it's not like a book knowledge. It's like what do you want? And most people don't know they want, maybe they want a raise. It's just simply that.

Andrei Bechet (23:40):
True, starting with what you want as definition is super important and that worked for me really well in my early stage of my career. To go a bit back, I didn't study computer engineering. I studied communications engineering, part of the electric engineering and how to give an example how mobile phones work, the protocols behind it. I realized I liked software a lot. I took whatever I learned from that and went to software and in my first company I lacked the mentoring aspect of it. So someone nudging me towards defining these goals. Actually it was a bit of a combination of, if you think about it, mentoring and coach, you definitely need mentoring. You don't know what's going on a lot of the times. You might have done software, but that's one thing to actually do it in production or build some little experiments on the side.

I mean not having to find this question, I was kind of moving around trying to copy maybe other people and without even the support was weird. It felt like you're not swimming, like you're pushing the swimming pool with you as you try to advance. It didn't feel right. And then I was exposed by chance to a couple of amazing people both in the company and another part and in the software crafting and testing communities - Socrates - and they talked about these and I ended up with a really, really simple two sentence definition for what a senior meant to me. I can read it back. I dug it up and it still stands. I still agree with it. And it goes into the true senior keeps moving around the places where they're needed and makes themselves super fluid. So you mentor and grow people into your own replacements while doing obviously the work, what's needed and leading by doing pairing with other people, providing context for them, making sure they understand what they need to do, helping them build their own goals, helping them achieve the company goals and so on.

Lina Zubyte (25:38):
It's a lovely definition and I think also some kind of ego shift or a great mindset that I am moving others to be here, that it's abundance, it's not scarcity. Even if someone gains more skills, the team is stronger rather than, oh, I'm just protecting myself and I just know this and I'm hoarding the knowledge.

Andrei Bechet (26:03):
True. And recently, the more I talk to people and from my friends who are working in the FANG (acronym "FANG" refers to the stocks of four prominent American technology companies: Meta (META) (formerly Facebook), Amazon (AMZN), Netflix (NFLX), and Alphabet/Google (GOOG)) or even in other companies because other companies start to copy FANG, there's this IC track and my definition kind of doesn't match so well because in the IC track, you need to do the things you are accountable for. There are some companies like Apple and you can read about their IC track, the individual. There it almost doesn't matter how you're achieving your goal, you are just in charge of achieving this goal. Now, if you're going to do it yourself because it's you have the capability, you know what to do, you know how to do it, everything is in your control, go ahead, do it. And if the time becomes a problem, then go reach for help. If the objectives require you to collaborate with three different teams, then you need to collaborate with the different teams and make sure everyone is aligned and ask for help. I like that model a bit more than some other companies where you just need to execute this on your own and according to your level, you get more complex problems and such. I think I even heard someone's feedback come into the sense of, yeah, this person didn't deliver complex enough solutions. I mean it's absurd, right? Maybe they delivered the right complexity for the right problem and to come back to simplicity, maybe delivering a super simple solution got us forward to see are we doing the right thing product wise?

Lina Zubyte (27:42):
Yes, you said that you could release in the shiniest newest technology your product, but if it's too late, who cares if it's very complex solution or not? We all have worked sometimes with people who all a little bit like that, who want complexity, who want this shiny architectural thing or the fancy tool or they just have these stuck up ways of working that they are used to something. They've been in the company for many years and they know better. How do you work with those people? Have you ever worked with someone who was in the company for many years and they were sort of untouchable in a sense, but maybe they were not into learning at all and they were quite stubborn?

Andrei Bechet (28:28):
I'm pausing to think a bit if I had all the traits in one, because I think have different traits, we all have different traits in certain scenarios. I've been, I think fortunate most of the times to work with people who are longer in the company but are always like, oh wow, you're coming new. Please tell us what do you think about it? However, I think one time when I was working for ThoughtWorks, we were engaging with a client and there were multiple people working there, some from the kind, some externals and one of these externals were there for, I don't remember, but more than five years for sure. And they were super defensive and didn't want to learn, but I think that the answer was clear. We were proposing a kind of new way of working, doing things differently, showing that it works, having good results.

We were kind of eating this person's bread a bit if you think about it. So the defensiveness was a bit explained from that perspective in that scenario. I honestly didn't have to worry about it so much personally, just had to worry about making sure that what we're doing is the right thing for this scenario because obviously we had a lot of tools we could work with and not all work in every circumstance. So that was already challenging enough. The way how I would approach it if I would probably be in the same situation, having more responsibility of the team, probably would try to gain more allies around and explain and understand what this person is coming. Try to ask, okay, what's going on? And try to get them on board probably in a safer space. So in a smaller group, maybe just pairing, maybe just reaching out to say we're here to work with you, not against you.

Lina Zubyte (30:08):
I really like that to see the humanity in the person and why they behave certain way. Because as you say, it's likely defense, it's fear also that someone is going to criticize my work or something like that. What about companies where learning culture is not really there? That it's more about let's deliver, deliver, deliver, deliver. Why do you need this definition of done experiment? Why do you need this lean inception? Why do we need these things? When is the time to say, okay, this company is not for me. Or it's like are they still open to, because it does take effort. If you are the person who's like, oh, why don't we learn more?

Andrei Bechet (30:51):
A bit of a meta level. I'm bringing Daniel Pink's book "Drive". What's important? What drives you? What do you want to achieve in such a company? Do you want to learn more? Do you want to earn more money? I don't know, whatever that means. The benefits. Are you having purpose? Is this company giving you, in my opinion, two of them and you're stretching in the third? And it could be interesting to stay, even though learning doesn't happen. So let's say you are delivering, delivering, delivering with a great purpose and you're in a startup, you're inadvertently learning, you might not be learning what you want and think that's the most important thing to always try to look at it, okay, in the longer run, where am I on the more abstract north star kind of a framework. And if you are falling short on two of them, then potentially it's time to reconsider. So try to do the best what you can within it, but we have to pat ourselves on the back and accept that some things which we can't change and that's fine and we should not set ourselves to change the world. We should set ourselves to change the world by doing the little things around us, the boring things, doing the smaller stuff, then it's easier to not lose the big picture.

Lina Zubyte (32:05):
I like that. The boring things we have to do more boring things as unattractive that it sounds, but it's the reality and our realities and everyday lives are combined from those little things that are actually really important.

Andrei Bechet (32:21):
I think it's how important is learning for you? Again, I think I like this idea. Maybe learning is happening but on a different level than what you're expecting it. You want to learn a different framework. Say you've been working with React and you're pretty comfortable with react and people expect you being senior and all or whatever lead level plus plus you have in the company, they expect you to deliver really good solid solutions and mentor the people around you lead by example and you want to earn a new framework, I dunno, remix or whatever. Maybe that expectation is not at the right time and you might need to make some concessions if you want to go that path.

Lina Zubyte (33:07):
I think it goes again, back to ourselves and our wants and needs and doing a regular inventory of that and asking ourselves, because it could be that for first two years in certain company it matched and aligned the expectations and the culture. Later on you realize, okay, no, I want something else. And it's okay to change your mind and you can still be grateful for whatever experience you've had and then you can move on to the next challenge for you. It's hard because we may just fall into this company and we get comfortable and then they're like, okay, I want this title, but do I want this title? Maybe I need completely different thing. I remember when I joined one company once and I said to a friend, it matches my aspirations. And then my friend asked, is there a role model for you or a mentor or coach there? And I was like, not really. And then that friend was like, I don't know if that's an ideal place because if your goal is to have someone challenge you, someone help you grow, you will not get this aspect. You will be missing something. You may have some frustration there. And they were right, so it didn't last longer because there was some unmet needs there that I had and I had to find it somewhere else basically.

Andrei Bechet (34:27):
Can we explore this a bit more? What if you can work with your juniors to have them challenge you in ways you have not even thought about?

Lina Zubyte (34:36):
I like that. That's a good point. And the thing is it did happen there where I was working actually, because you can learn from everyone and maybe there's no one kind of holy grail role model. It's multiple people that you can learn from. I guess we have to be honest with ourselves what culture we want to immerse ourselves into because there still could be the power and knowledge differences in certain dynamics. And then you may be like, okay, I'm not learning as much as I would like to even though I am learning something. And I think we learn everywhere. That's definitely a point. But yes, very nice one. You can learn from juniors as well. Actually from juniors you can learn a lot. They're so new that I also love asking this, what are the pain points that you're seeing because your eyes are fresh and we are so used to it?

Andrei Bechet (35:26):
They question you on things. If they have the safe environment, they'll question you on things you have been taking for granted for the better of X amount of years, plural, maybe even double digits and you'll be stopping and thinking and actually breaking through your routine. Engaging the system two to bring Daniel Kahneman's book, right? And oh wait, why are we even doing this?

Lina Zubyte (35:51):
Yeah, often when they raise something it's usually a valid question and it's like, yeah, when I joined years ago, I also thought the same, but then I never got to it. So it's very good that they're raising something like that.

Andrei Bechet (36:04):
It might even trigger some more introspection within, and I think you mentioned that always revisit. Introspection got me forward a lot and it has been complimented by some of my mentors and I highly, highly recommend everyone to be introspective at everything. Not only the bigger goals, but also the smaller ones. Okay, how can that go better? That interaction, well, did it achieve what I wanted to achieve? Did my goal or my search for knowledge got in the way? I don't know.

Lina Zubyte (36:38):
So talking about your introspection and your learning, how do you grow and learn yourself? It seems like you like books. What's your plan?

Andrei Bechet (36:51):
I sometimes read more books at the same time. Every now and then I have to have fiction. It just doesn't work. And the other times I just take forever to read one technical book. Might read one chapter or one part of a chapter. Think about it, park the idea somewhere. I think it also depends on where you are right now. So earlier in my career I was reading a lot of blog posts. I was watching a lot of videos of other people code and explain, and some of them were part of the software crafting and testing community and working through TDD processes and the types of TDDs, too, got very technical on one particular point. And that got me up to some point, but then I needed the safe playground to put it like that. And I searched for the mentors around me and the leaders around me of the teams I were working on who allowed me to ask questions, challenge and state my ideas.

And that worked for me really well. I could take the time to think. It also helps me that I'm grasping ideas quite fast. The downside of that is that I don't have the patience to go so deep in, but yeah, you can not have all things. However, the first part of grasping ideas fast and then forming an opinion and stating it not as the rule of law, but hey, this is my idea. How is it wrong? What am I missing? What did I forget? Does it cover everything? And then you'll have someone who's experienced next to you being a mentor, not telling you, Hey, yeah, but you forgot that. They'd be like, how about that part? And then you're like, I forgot that part. And later now it's a bit going forward. Now it's a bit of a combination of both because ultimately we'll always have someone more experienced than you and hopefully they're asking you questions other than telling you or it's even fine now if they tell you directly, because hopefully we would've all learned to die down our ego when we talk at the table with experience people.

But it goes back into how am I learning or what are the techniques which work with this group of people to try to nudge them to work together while we are building something which none of us really know how to. So it's a combination of doing a lot of stuff at work, introspecting a lot, does it work? Do it work? What's going on? Seeing patterns. If you can see patterns, reading something to build new ideas, going to some of the meetups, not necessarily meetups, but unconferences like SoCraTes where they dub themselves as the coffee chats. So you might not attend necessarily an important talk, but you will get to talk to a lot of amazing people from different environments. Hear the thoughts, exchange them. So it's a combination and you need to find what's working and again ask, does this still work? Right? Maybe I don't feel like reading, it's fine, try a podcast. I don't know. There are so many ways to consume information.

Lina Zubyte (39:49):
And there are a lot of ways and it can be very overwhelming and there are a lot of outdated books and resources and courses and sometimes I start reading something, I'm like, oh my God, this is terrible. This is so old. Such an old mindset on things as well. Where would you advise people to start? So you mentioned SoCraTes, maybe that's a good place if you're overwhelmed with resources. How would you support your own learning journey?

Andrei Bechet (40:16):
Personally, I would not start with huge platforms thinking of these big, udemy like, not to name it as a bad thing, it's just that as you mentioned, it might be super overwhelming and you might want to learn Kotlin and then you pick the top most rated one and it's actually, so find the people online, find the developer advocates or talking about Kotlin, learning Kotlin. And there's Hadidi Hariri who's I think still a developer advocate with JetBrains. I found him and I looked at his resources, what he was sharing and that got me forward. Find the people you want to learn from. Furthermore, find within the company. You don't need to have an explicit mentorship program. Sure, maybe if you have that, then it's easy, but start looking for it. Even if you have a mentorship program, you should lead the relationship. Ask questions, think if you can ask questions.

Maybe some places you can't and that's sad if you can't ask questions. But if you can't go for it, ask left. And some people might even say something and then you can forward them. Okay, great. Thank you for solving this problem with me. I want to know more about it. Do you have some resources about it? I can go and consume later. Delve deep into the topic. So it should be, I think coming from what you're working on right now and then slowly growing up. That's one part. And the other part, which another kind of a thought process, which I've heard, and it's really, really after you need support here, it's the expression of going down the mountain. So you put yourself a goal, like define what senior means, something like 1, 2, 3 sentences, no more. Imagine that as the peak and I was the smallest, the step right under it.

If I would have that, then it would be an easy step forward to achieve that goal and do that and continue. And you'll branch out, obviously down the mountain works on multiple paths and you can discard some which are either a dead end, you've reached a big hole, you can't jump from there. Maybe you could if you have a helicopter, but is the helicopter worth it? I don't know. And you reach to the point where, yeah, look, I can either read the book, I can do a course, and then you ask yourself, do I like to read? Do I like to listen? Which one suits me more? And then that gives you a list, a path you can somehow have and then culminated with talking with others and following people online. That would probably work for the best. And it's really unfortunate that Twitter is no longer the Twitter we were used to. I gained a lot from Twitter. I have to mention that it's even more scattered. So I feel your pain.

Lina Zubyte (43:07):
I really like that. It all goes back to what we enjoy and choosing what we enjoy, especially even about learning. Instead of just taking some random course where maybe you're not even empathizing with the instructor at all and you're annoyed by the instructor, you'll hate this thing. Then just instead of that maybe find someone you like that you're excited to learn from, that you're admiring, you're like, oh, that seems like an interesting person. And it's like win-win. It's again going with your own feeling and you own idea. So what is the next step that I should take? Or smallest step I should take? Which step I would like to take? Which route I would like to take down the mountain? And this is a personal thing. So to wrap up this conversation and the topics you've touched on here, what is the one piece of advice you would give for building high quality products and teams?

Andrei Bechet (44:07):
Working together. Better. In a better way. Very abstract, but I think that that's the cornerstone because if everything is the house is in order and we have the tools, then most probably we'll find our way forward.

Lina Zubyte (44:22):
Thank you so much.

Andrei Bechet (44:24):
Thank you.

Lina Zubyte (44:25):
That's it for today's episode. Thank you so much for listening. If you like this episode, please rate, review. Let me know what you thought of it. And until the next time, do not forget to continue caring about and building those high quality products and teams. Bye.