Technically Religious
S1E33: Tales from the TAMO Cloud with Corey Adler

S1E33: Tales from the TAMO Cloud with Corey Adler

November 26, 2019

Did you ever wonder why IT diagrams always use a cloud to show an element where stuff goes in and comes out, but we're not 100% sure what happens inside? That was originally called a "TAMO Cloud" - which stood for "Then A Miracle Occurred". It indicated an area of tech that was inscruitable, but nevertheless something we saw as reliable and consistent in it's output. For IT pros who hold a strong religious, ethical, or moral point of view, our journey has had its own sort of TAMO Cloud - where grounded technology and lofty philosophical ideals blend in ways that can be anything from challenging to uplifting to humbling. In this series, we sit down with members of the IT community to explore their journeys - both technical and theological - and see what lessons we can glean from where they've been, where they are today, and where they see themselves in the future. This episode features my talk with friend, co-religionist, programmer, and recurring Technically Religious guest Corey Adler. Listen or read the transcript below.

Josh: 00:00 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as IT professionals mesh or at least not conflict with our religious life. This is Technically Religious.

Leon: 00:22 Did you ever wonder why it diagrams always use a cloud to show an element where stuff goes in and comes out, but we're not 100% sure what happens inside? That was originally called a TAMO cloud, which stood for "Then A Miracle Occurred." It indicated an area of tech that was inscrutable, but nevertheless something we saw as reliable and consistent in its output. For IT pros who hold a strong religious, ethical or moral point of view, our journey has had its own sort of TAMO cloud, where grounded technology and lofty philosophical ideals blend in ways that can be anything from challenging to uplifting to humbling. In this series, we sit down with members of the IT community to explore their journeys, both technical and theological, and see what lessons we can glean from where they've been, where they are today, and where they see themselves in the future.

Leon: 01:09 My name is Leon Adato, and the other voice you'll hear on this episode is Cory Adler.

Corey: 01:14 Alon-zee, Mr. Adato.

Leon: 01:16 Very well done. Uh, Alonzo. So, uh, before we dig into the actual topic, uh, let's take a moment for shameless self promotion. Corey, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Corey: 01:27 Hi, my name is Corey Adler. I am a lead engineer at Autosoft who currently makes software for car dealerships. You can find me on Twitter @CoryAdler. Uh, you can find me on stack overflow as Ironman84 and I am an Orthodox Jew or as sometimes or sometimes cultist in the church of Jon Skeet.

Leon: 01:47 There we go. You pray at the altar of Jon Skeet.

Corey: 01:50 (whispering) Jon Kate is the whistleblower.

Leon: 01:52 Okay, good. You heard it here first. Anyway, uh, just to keep things, uh, evened out. My name is Leon Adato. I am a head Geek at Solarwinds. You can hear, uh, my ponderings and read some of the stuff I've done at, You can find me on the Twitters @LeonAdato and I also identify as Orthodox Jewish. And if you're scribbling this down madly trying to catch those, uh, websites and stuff, stop and just listen. Enjoy the show. There will be show notes after this and you can have all of that and anything that we mentioned along the way. So...

Corey: 02:26 dat da-da da!

Leon: 02:27 Right, exactly. Just enjoy. Take a moment, smell the flowers, bask in the sunshine. All right, so the tales from the TAMO cloud has a very specific structure as you know. Um, so I want to start off with the technical side of the conversation. Tell me a little bit about what work, like what is the work that you're doing today? I know you said lead engineer, but what does that mean on a day to day basis?

Corey: 02:50 So we are currently redoing our entire dealer management system from, uh, our existing product, which is about 20 years old. I am currently lead for the accounting team. We're reworking, uh, the accounting module, various transactions, maintaining your journal, cashier, all kinds of various items that inherently in a dealership needs. But very few people end up thinking, "Oh yeah, the dealership is going to actually need software for all of that." So currently we're working in a .Net tech stack with an angular front end, um, SQL server, uh, for a database and hibernate that as our ORM of choice. Um, well except data teams trying to remove that because they want stored procedures and other things that are more efficient with our time as if, as if developers are efficient know.

Leon: 03:48 (laughs) Right. I see. If you take that as a personal insult, so, okay. So it's a little bit of what you do. So you're coding, I mean, you know, for, for those people who, who aren't quite as in the weeds, you're, you're a programmer and you work mostly in the .net stack as far as that goes, which is cool. Um, where... Think back now, think back to those early days. Where did you start out in tech?

Corey: 04:11 Professionally I've been developer my entire career. Uh, it's funny actually because I didn't start out and done that. Actually college and grad school both were in Java actually. Um, and the only .net class I took was for half a semester. My senior year in college, the one, the one semester of senior year that I had before I graduated, which was a computer games class and first half was, you know, still in Java. And the professor basically just had this thing of every week you're making a game. The way he phrased it was, "If I tell you to make a game in two weeks, you'll spend two weeks to make a game. If I tell you to do it in one week, you'll spend one week and you'll make a game." So one week he switched over to, um, halfway through because that, uh, Microsoft has this X and a framework that for people to make games that you can download to your X-Box. So he had us doing that and I ended up, uh, programming in a team doing, uh, this site's girl shooter game where you were enemies could do drop bonus weapons. Then you could and had this little animation for, you know, attaching it. And I wrote most of the most of the code for this game and I brought that code actually with me to my first job interview and they were like, the interviewers, like these guys are senior developers. They were actually like, you could, I could actually tell on their faces, they were rather impressed with some of the stuff.

Leon: 05:53 You realize that you were going to have to post your game in the show notes, like you're going to have to have that someplace where people can download it and play it.

Corey: 06:02 The professor himself actually, I believe, does not delete his course pages. So it probably is still up there.

Leon: 06:09 Awesome. Okay, fine, fine. Fair enough. Um, all right. So that's where we started was with, you know, like basically the equivalent of the XKCD cartoon, "That one weekend I spent playing around with Perl" was how you built your career, which, you know, fine. Okay. It's not Perl, but whatever. Um, so then the question is, where did you go from there? You know, you're, you're a, you're, you know, you're a full stack .net dev. Now you started off programming in your C, you know, comps, eyeglasses. But how did you get from there to here? What was your progression? What was the journey?

Corey: 06:42 So I graduated college and I knew I wanted to get a masters and I knew because we were expecting our first kid at the time.

Leon: 06:53 You're, I should clarify your wife and you were expecting not the development team, right? I just told them to, but, well, they were expecting your first company and have a completely different way.

Corey: 07:02 I mean, this was after college. I hadn't worked professionally yet.

Leon: 07:06 Oh, okay.

Corey: 07:07 Yeah. So, so we were moving out of New York. Yeah. Thank God. And the choices were either too near where my family lived in Chicago or near to where her family lived in Cleveland. And I ended up getting into case Western here. Um, but then they, so they said to me, "You know, we don't really give financial aid for master's students, but if you'd be willing to enter the PhD program, we would be happy to make you a TA and tuition would then be free and we would pay you a stipend for being a TA in a couple of classes." As well as full time taking classes. I said, sure, I'll do that. Um, so I ended up, you know, TA-ing and getting a reputation for being strict, which has helped throughout my career because you know, especially as being a team lead, all those little strict things that I asked those students to do that long ago is stuff that I'm still correcting people on doing. You know, please sort you're using, please write some comments, please document your code,

Leon: 08:25 (laughing) Comment your damn code! You hear that everyone?

Corey: 08:29 Sort your damn usings or your imports if you're in Java for the love of God, have some professional pride in your work.

Leon: 08:40 Perfect. I should point out before we go much further that you wrote a whole series of posts on the SolarWinds user forum. Yes, that's... Naming things is hard apparently. So the SolarWinds user form is called THWACK dot com... And Corey wrote a series of I think four or five posts on just how to be a basically good programmer. Jjust you know, fundamentals and we'll link to that in the show notes.

Corey: 09:05 Fundamentals are fun,

Leon: 09:07 Right. We put the fun fundamentals, yes, I got it. Okay. So you've got to case Western. You were a TA in the an a P in the PhD program...

Corey: 09:15 In the PhD program. And then so through various occurrences, I ended up in a situation where there was no money for me to work for the university over the summer, over a summer. And they said to me, "Well we can have you back at the TA the second year, you know, with same salary and everything, but we don't have anything over the summer. You don't have to do something else over the summer." And what, so what I ended up doing was, because I wasn't, I always wanted to just do masters anyway, was I just said, okay, well I'm going to switch out now to the master's program and I'm just going to go flat out and get a job. And I ended up getting a job at a company called MRI software that does, um, property real estate management software. So both commercial and residential property management. Um, I worked for them for awhile and I was taking, I took a night class at Cleveland state, uh, to continue on. And then two things happened. Number one was I got promoted very quickly at MRI from being from being a associated, you know, junior level basically to being, you know, mid level. And the second thing was was that, um, I had an advisor who, you know, was an awesome guy but didn't really give me such great direction in the final project. To the point where I just realized there was no added benefit... I was already in mid level. I was already doing really well. There was very little point in me, you know, basically killing myself to get a master's that may not have actually helped at that point. You know, people tend to get masters to help fast track their careers and I'd already done that through my own hard work at the company. So did it re would it really have helped me on future jobs to get an added degree there? Yeah. Versus say like a certification which probably would have. So I ended up, uh, dropping grad school, uh, worked for MRI for a little while, uh, then switched to a company called Rosetta. They, I think they still exist, but they're entirely Java now. They had two departments. They had a Java and a .net. wing And I was part of the .net wing working on a project for this big huge project. That - like many big, huge projects ended up getting canceled. Um,

Leon: 11:58 (laughs) okay!

Corey: 11:59 Uh, for a company called Safeguard properties, but so worked on this pro on that project for awhile and that's, I mean I started out learning at MRI, but Rosetta was a lot of like where a lot of my foundations really took hold. I had a couple of, because there's a difference that I noticed, especially for me, this doesn't apply to everybody, but there was, there was an especially big difference for me in somebody showing me directly, "Hey, this is how you do it and this is why it works." Versus I had a couple of guys and um, shout out to, uh, Sean and Ed if you guys happened to be listening to this, I don't know if you are, but shout out to you guys for this, which was me saying, "I don't understand why this, why this isn't working." And one of them saying, "Go look up this feature or this class." Not saying, here's "how you do it." This is just, okay, well write something down, hand it to me and say, "Go look this up. Go look at why this works." I said, I'd spend, you know, an hour or so researching it and I come back to my, I said, "Oh, okay, so if I do this and this, that should solve this problem." It's like, yeah, yeah. And that was just like, Oh, okay. Like the, the direction of you go that way.

Leon: 13:17 Right. It's not, it's not, "Well figure it out on your own. Good luck." It's, "I'm going to point you in generally the right direction and let you take it from there." You know, that way, you know, you're not completely going off on a wild goose chase, but I haven't just spoonfed it to you either.

Corey: 13:34 Yeah, exactly. So that provided a lot of, you know, the my bedrock, basically during my time there. I ended up then going back to MRI, in a completely different department - internal applications was there working on, because the company had bought a couple of, not exactly competitors, but also you know, software companies that were also in the same market doing different things in the same markets. So they wanted to integrate those systems into their own product. But now they have four different companies of billing and needed one package to the, to your bill in bill, their customers in. So start was writing on that. They ended up switching platforms. I ended up getting let go because the platform they were switching it into, I was not well first and um, apparently product development said "no" when it came time when they asked if they wanted to take me back. So... Which was fine because um, and I've told this story to people many times about... And usually in the context of how wonderful of a market there is for .net developers everywhere. But especially in Cleveland. Which was I got let go on a Friday by the following Friday, even with having laryngitis that week, I had about 10 phone interviews. I had two in-person interviews at a job offer by the following Monday I had a second job offer and I was at work the following Friday for at a job that paid more than the last one.

Leon: 15:16 Know your strengths and know the market where your strengths are valued.

Corey: 15:19 Absolutely.

Leon: 15:20 You know, a lot of people in Cleveland, uh, you know, you and I both know folks who are coming up through the ranks of IT and you know, learning programming and they're learning, you know, "I want to learn Python and I want to learn Ruby and I want to learn... You know, you know, it's like those are great languages. They're very useful.

Corey: 15:38 Ruby is a four letter word.

Leon: 15:39 Okay. But there's no market for those skills in Cleveland. It's a very small market. We really are very much a production, you know, you know, get it done. .net tradition. I'll say traditional market. That's, that's not a slam on Cleveland. It's just a recognition of this is what this it market is. It's not Austin or Seattle or you know, whatever. You know, New York,

Corey: 16:05 Chicago I've heard has got a lot of Ruby shops, which is, which is disappointing cause I'm from Chicago and that's just sad.

Leon: 16:12 I understand. Okay. So that's how you got from here, more or less, how you got from here to there? Did I did

Corey: 16:16 So, so then I, um, so I've got a job at Paragon consulting, which does websites for companies that don't want to hire full time developers. So using content management system and worked there for awhile and then got a hankering for, uh, working with not with, not working in content management systems anymore. And uh, so moved over to AutoSoft just as a regular mid level. And um, I think it's been working out pretty well. They've, yeah. you know. Now I'm the team lead and you know, things are, things are soaring.

Leon: 17:01 Nice. Okay. So that, so that's the journey as far as the technical side go, but we are ]Technically Religious here. So, uh, let's talk about the religious side. You identify, as you said at the top of the show, um, as a Orthodox Jew. Did, you always start off at that level of observance, you know, where, where did you, sorry, let me, let me step back. What does Orthodox Judaism look like for you today? Because, as I like to say, especially on these kinds of shows, labels are hard and they're often imprecise. And a lot of times when you ask somebody, "What are you?" The first thing people says, "Well... I'm sort of, you know..." And then they give this sort of very qualified answer. So in, in the long form, how do you identify your religious observance today?

Corey: 17:48 I remember one website that would give you a list of choices for which label really worked for you. And the funny part was you would click on like the, on the overall Orthodox part and then there would be eight different choices within that label. And included in that, you know, we have this term "modern Orthodox", they had it listed twice. First one was with MODERN in caps, the second one was with ORTHODOX in caps. So I'm kind of in between on those.

Leon: 18:28 So you're camel case,

Corey: 18:29 I'm camel case.

Leon: 18:32 All right, fair enough.

Corey: 18:33 So to me, I live in a very modern world while juggling the responsibilities of an Orthodox... Of a strictly Orthodox Jew. So for those who know that, I know Shulchan Aurch, i know Gemarrah, all those things, you know, I follow and I try to learn and I try to teach my children and whatnot and which, which means I'm carefully selecting the beer I'm getting. You know, when, when the fun car comes around at work.

Leon: 19:05 You know, no, you're keeping kosher, you're keeping Shabbat, you're, you know, doing all that stuff. And for those people who don't know Corey, he's also what's called the Gabbi at our synagogue. He's the person in charge of making sure that people are running the parts of the service that need to get run and they're going as fast as they need to go and no faster. And that they stand up when they need to stand up and sit down when they need to sit down. And he also reads Torah at least twice a week to make sure that that happened, you know, so he, he is the glue that keeps things moving. So: knowledgeable and also taking responsibility for things.

Corey: 19:40 I'm the Orthodox Jewish version of a bartender. Nobody notices me unless I've screwed up.

Leon: 19:46 Right, exactly. And everyone has an opinion about how to mix the drink regardless. So, okay, good. So, so that's how you identify today. So then back to the question I started asking, is that where you, obviously you didn't start off as Gabbi, but did you start off in this type of, or this flavor of Orthodox Judaism or was there a progression?

Corey: 20:06 I was born and bred in the gabbai tanks.

Leon: 20:11 Next to the Kwisatz Haderach on Dune. Yes. I understand.

Corey: 20:16 Uh, no, actually I did not start out religious. Uh, originally growing up I went to a Solomon Schechter school, which is a more conservative, uh, Judaism school. Uh, my family went to an Orthodox shul, uh, the local Chabad. Classically, there are two versions that you'll find in the wild of Chabad Shuls. One is the, you have all these Chassidic Jews who are all meeting together. In most other locations though they are, where like the handful of Orthodox Jews will be, but where they will get some of the, of the more non-affiliated or nondenominational people to come in and celebrate being Jewish and have some kind of connection that way so that.

Leon: 21:09 It's the outpost.

Corey: 21:10 It's the outpost, which was what we were. Um, but we would still drive to shul on Shabbos. We would easily eat out non-kosher and when not. But that all changed, uh, from two major events. Number one was my brother William going to Yeshiva in Israel after high school. Which got me more thinking about being religious. And the second thing was, uh, I ended up leaving Solomon Schechter because of a couple of bullies basically. Uh, and so the only other option as far as Jewish school was wa was, um, uh, an Orthodox one, which is what I went to. And called Hillel Torah in Chicago. I went there and then through osmosis, you know, and through seeing my brother becoming more religious, I ended up following suit there and then ended up going to a more religious high school than he had gone to. Uh, and then when also followed him to into having a Israeli yeshiva for two years, um, afterwards. And then, you know, unlike my brother though who went to Yeshiva University in New York, I ended up going to New York University and more, more secular school.

Leon: 22:42 That solidified your sort of observance as it looks today. And I know that you talk about being Gabbi even at NYU that you were in charge of making sure that the, the congregational responsibilities within the, you know, NYU within the college crowd happened efficiently and effectively also.

Corey: 23:01 Which basically consisted of me in the kosher cafeteria every day yelling out MICHA!!!!

Leon: 23:07 So we've talked about your, your progress, your starting and ending point, um, in, uh, technical terms in religious terms. So now I want to focus on the overlap between the two. As a person with a strong religious, ethical or moral point of view. In this case, the Orthodox Judaism, who has a long career in tech, how have those two things, um, what challenges have you found along the way with those, with those two parts of your life?

Corey: 23:36 I've been very lucky, lucky in that most places that I've gone to, they've been very accepting of my religious beliefs, especially in agile environments. When I say, "Hey, I'm going to have to take off early on Fridays, but I'm going to spend more time the rest of the week to make up for that. I'm still going to get my work done." My sprint work, I'm still going to get, you know, my at least 40 hours. And is that okay? And for, you know, everybody said, "Yeah, yeah, sure. That's cool." The only struggle that I had with that was, uh, at one company where the raises and bonuses and promotions were dependent on you're competing with your fellow developers. So if you had a number of developers who were working 60 hours a week and you were only working 50 hours a week, well they were more in line to get raises and bonuses and promotions, then you were. So for someone who's, you know, got 24 hours where 25 hours where they're not on the computer at all. That takes away a lot of times from being able to potentially join those ranks. So that was kind of frustrating and it ended up leading to me eventually leaving that company. Cause I, I'm competitive when I play board games. I don't want to be competitive in the office. I want to be, I want to be in a situation where I can be recognized for my own work and you can be recognized for your own good work. And I feel like, I feel like morale is better when you have that in a company versus that versus the pressure of "I've gotta be better than you."

Leon: 25:31 Yeah. When it, when it's the accounting team versus the IT team and they're up six to four, everybody's losing. Yeah. But, but yeah, collaborations is far more effective in the workplace then than competition in that way.

Corey: 25:45 There was one other thing, which is minor, very minor, but it's the fact that people sometimes have a need to apologize for things that I'm so used to for a long time that I don't even notice it. But yet people feel like they have to apologize to me for those things. The biggest example being kosher food. So your company has a lunch and learn, we're all going to be learning about this topic and they bring in pizza and of course the pizza has got, you know, pepperoni and sausage and they'll have a regular vegetarian one, but it's not kosher anyway. Yeah.

Leon: 26:32 So people are apologizing...

Corey: 26:33 So the people, Oh my God, you know, I'm so sorry. None of the kosher places deliver nearby. And I'm really sorry. I'm like ever since college, and we're talking now about, you know, 15 years, there's never been kosher food except maybe a couple of times. And even then it was sponsored by the Judaic studies department. So computer science, I had computer science talks in college. I had colloquium in grad school, I've had 10 years of being a professional developer. I don't expect kosher food. It's a slight irritation. It's a minor irritation, but it's still an irritation. When people apologize to me for not having kosher food or stuff like that, it's like I don't, I don't need it.

Leon: 27:21 Right. It wasn't even on the table. Like it was never on the table. I appreciate, yeah, I appreciate the sensitivity and you demonstrating that you are sensitive to it, but really wasn't ever on the... like let's just have our meeting and keep on going and I'm going to eat the sandwich I brought anyway.

Corey: 27:36 Although there was one company Paragon shout outs to Mark for, for doing this for me who said, uh, "If you want, when we have those lunch and learns, if you're willing to spend the time to drive over to one of these places, pick up food and come back, I'll give you the company credit card and you can go out and buy it." And I was like, "Hey, deal!" And then I ended up, uh, creating a series of lightning talks at the company. So I could not, not just so I could get free food, but...

Leon: 28:07 Okay. I will say though that that especially when you're dealing with, um, team members who have specific dietary needs, whether it is vegan or gluten free or Halal or kosher or whatever, um, I think sometimes companies they err by saying, uh, "So we'll, we'll buy this thing that's kosher, we'll buy this thing that's Halal." And yet there are nuances to those dietary needs that the person who needs that food understands, but the rest of the company doesn't. And so you end up in a very awkward situation of somebody said, BUT BUT YOU SAID it was kosher." "Yes. But it's not a hecksher. It's not a standard that I hold by," you know, or "Yes, you got, you know, gluten free but it wasn't nut free" or whatever. And you end up with, you know, sometimes for feelings and things like that where as saying to somebody, Hey, we really want you to feel included. Will you go buy, will you go get well, you make sure is sometimes not the burden that it might sound like to the outside person. It's actually, you know, much more inclusive because now I know the food is going to meet my personal standards. I'm not saying higher or lower. I'm just saying that's my personal standards and it's gonna be what I wanted and it's, you know, I'm not going to have to have an uncomfortable conversation about you just went through literally hell and high water to get this and I'm still not eating it. So I like that. That was really smart. Good work Mark! Okay. So those are some of the, you know, again, nothing major but um, you know, some of the, the challenges between your religious and technical life and I want to spin it around now. Were there any benefits, were there any surprises, positive surprises that you had where you showed up into your technical world and realize that your religious point of view was actually an unexpected benefit?

Leon: 29:59 Uh, I was working at Paragon and at the time we were working in this medical office building, which was kind of weird cause we were all in these offices instead of, you know, being in a room together. Cause it's just like these tiny offices. And there was one seat open in the room I was in. And Mark says to me, "Hey, we've got a guy who's coming in who's going to be taking over that seat. It's a man named Kamran and he's going to be starting on Monday. And yeah, just make sure he feels welcome." And I said, "Oh," me thinking, you know, because we had at Paragon we had, and I think they still do have a fair amount of people from Indian descent who worked there. And I said, "Oh, that sounds vaguely like an Indian name." And he goes, "No, actually Kamran is originally from Pakistan." And you know, the, the alarm bells almost went off in my head as it were because okay, now I'm going to be in this situation where I'm working with somebody who's obviously Muslim and I'm very openly Jewish. I wonder how this is going to work out. You know, not, not being pessimistic, but just like, okay, this is going to be something new for me. Working with somebody who is Muslim. And I am, uh, I was, I had a very positive experience at NYU with, um, uh, Jews and Muslims, uh, being very friendly together. Um, there was, as an example, there was a trip shortly after Katrina hit where they had Jewish and Muslim students going together and rebuilding some houses in new Orleans. And those kids ended up getting along so well with each other that you would see them frequently at the kosher cafeteria eating lunch and dinner together. You know, so very positive experience there. And so I was like, you know, I'm going to, this is going to be new for me because now I'm in that situation and I'm going to, I took it upon myself. I said, I'm going to, I'm going to really try and do exactly like what those kids did. I'm going to. And so, um, Kamran and I ended up becoming very good friends actually of working together and to the point, and of course we would have discussions and discuss. Of course the conflict in Israel in the middle East came up and we had our discussions and there were always respectful discussions. And I remember one time we were talking about something that was in common between Judaism and Islam. At one point I was just looking at me at all, "Why are we fighting? Like so many things that you have in common, why are we fighting?" He goes, "I don't know man. I don't know." Yeah. And the second story, I would come run his holiday party. And those are two very loaded words everybody,

Leon: 33:11 We're going to have an episode on that coming up soon on technically religious about the dreaded holiday party in the office. Yeah.

Corey: 33:18 But I, I still remember he brought his wife to the holiday party and she was in, uh, she was in full, uh, attire. Um, not, not a burka, but I, I'm blanking on the term off the top of my head...

Leon: 33:31 Hijab?

Corey: 33:31 Yes. On top. And then long skirt or dress or, I don't know that the technical term for it, but [and I'm like, Oh, I get to meet Kamran's wife. Cool. And there were a few people ahead of me who were truffle, wanted to meet her also, and she was shaking hands with these people, with these guys. And I'm just thinking in my head, you know, Judaism, we have an idea that the sexes don't really shake each, you know, make physical contact unless you're a family member. I wonder if Muslims have that too. And so I specifically did not shake her hand, but then I worried about it for like the rest of the weekend. I'm like second guessing myself. I'm like, did I God, I hope I didn't insult her. I went in and insult him and I come in on Monday and I said to come on by the way, I didn't shake your wife's hand. And he looks at me and goes, "You guys have something like that too, don't you?" I said, "Where we don't shake women's hands?" Yeah. He goes, "Yeah, we've got that. Also. You were the only one who knew about that." And just like, that's just so cool. So yeah, that's we, I mean we had a... Mark arranged when we moved to a new new building. Your range for us to have a closet basically that was designated as our prayer space. Which Kamran and I would always joke that if we got another religious person in, we'd have to have a signup sheet. Right. Because especially there was the afternoon prayers were so closely timed where I would go to the closet, and it would be locked. I'm like, Oh, Kamran's daven... Kamran's praying right now. I almost said Kamran was davening right now, which is the Jewish term for it. And so that was, that was an instance where it was so, it was so nice being religious and sharing, being religious in tech with this person and becoming good friends even with our differences. So there, that was both. Yeah. Benefit and to surprise. The other, the other benefits have been, I mean there's, you see really so many amazing people who you really get to see just how respectful people can be about it. Where if you weren't religious, you mean maybe they'd still be respectful, but there are so many times you find people willing to go out of their way to be accepting of you. I mean, there've been plenty of times where I've said to my team like, "Hey guys, I got to get out of here. I've got prayer services that I have to go to and then.

Leon: 36:11 Sundown is coming fast. It's winter or whatever it is.

Corey: 36:14 And especially Friday. I mean, so many times we've since changed it to a Wednesday to Wednesday a sprint. Right? But there were times where Friday's last day of the sprint, and I say, "Guys, I've checked in some code. It doesn't work. It's not, it's not finished. But I got to go." And somebody saying, I've got it, I'm going to, I'll take it. You know? And that's, that's been a wonderful sight to see, has been, has been those, that kind of reaction.

Doug: 36:45 Thanks for making time for us this week. To hear more of Technically Religious visit our website, where you can find our other episodes. Leave us ideas for future discussions and connect to us on social media.

S1E32: Fight the Stigma, part 2

S1E32: Fight the Stigma, part 2

November 19, 2019

"Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you're part of a team!" - so goes the impossibly catchy song from the Lego Movie. In IT, we are often expected to be caught up in that same spirit - hyped up on the adrenaline of fixing systems, catching hackers, and inventing new stuff. These expectations - which come from external sources like our boss or company or IT culture at large, or internally from assumptions we've taken on as personal truths - can fly in the face of how we're actually feeling. When our feelings turn from just being "a little tired", "a little frustrated", or "a little sad" to serious challenges like burn out, rage, or depression, it can be hard to admit, let alone seek help or ask our coworkers for support and understanding. And yet religious, moral, and ethical traditions are rich with stories of people coping with the exact same challenges. In this episode, we're going to get brutally honest about the mental health challenges we've faced and are facing today as well as what lessons from our faiths we can carry with us to provide insight, comfort, and even strength. Listen or read the transcript below.

Speaker 1: 00:00 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have is people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as IT professionals mesh or at least not conflict with our religious life. This is Technically Religious.

Leon: 00:24 This is a continuation of the discussion we started last week. Thank you for coming back to join our conversation.

Leon: 00:30 I want to pivot back around though, just talking about the leaders in our faith community and the behaviors or the examples that they show. I read something last year from Rabbi Sacks who is the former chief Rabbi of London. It really surprised me because it was a take on a part of the Torah of the Bible that I wouldn't have expected it and I didn't see it when I was reading it myself. Um, Rabbi Sacks was talking about when he himself feels depressed and overwhelmed and anxious. And he said that whenever he felt that way, he would recall a point when Moses himself reached his lowest point. And this is for those people who want to find it in the book of Numbers, chapter 11, verse 10 or thereabouts. Cause I know the numbering is not always the same between different, uh, versions of the Bible. Um, so the Israelites were engaged in their all time favorite activity: complaining about the food. Uh, in this case, they were recalling fondly the cuisine that they got to have in Egypt, completely forgetting about the fact that they were slaves at the time, that was completely ignored. God is, uh, because of this, understandably angry, but Moses was more than angry. Uh, as Rabbi Sacks describes it, he suffers a complete emotional breakdown. And one of the things he says is, it says to God is, "I cannot carry this whole people on my own. It's too heavy for me." And rabbi sacks continues by saying "...somehow the knowledge that the greatest Jewish leader of all time had experienced this depth of darkness was empowering.." That he, he took comfort in knowing that everybody sometimes gets there. Everybody experiences this. Even the man who the Bible itself says was the most humble human ever to walk... Who will, who did ever or will ever walk the face of the earth. The one human who was righteous enough to speak face to face with God, still had crushing depression that he didn't know how to get past himself. And by the way, um, in this plea to God, "I can't do this." God has an answer. God's, you know, by saying I can't, this God says, okay, here's how I'm going to help. And that also is empowering. Um, so I just, you know, when we talk about the things that we value in our leaders, I think we, we'd be remiss to not mention Moses.

Josh: 03:17 Yeah. To not mention God, right. Because when we're talking about the ultimate leader, I mean, even Moses at his lowest point turn to God and said, I can't do this. And God's like, okay, let me help you. I think that for those who have a religious belief, um, that is, that is ultimately where they turn to, uh, is just to God.

Yechiel: 03:41 And if I recall correctly, the way God helped him was by telling him to get help to you, told him to gather 70 elders and have them help out with his duties. So having spoken about the stigma behind talking about mental health and it was sort of what the, how we expect our community around us to react, the values that we expect them to have. Um, how do we actually go around treating, uh, non mental, uh, mental health issues? Is there something that we can take from our religious traditions or religious communities? Is there something that we can learn from that?

Josh: 04:13 I mean, mental health within Mormonism is something that very recently has, has started to, uh, to peak. In fact, Mormonism, has a bi-annual conference. It happens in April and October every single year. They call it the general conference and it's broadcast live from Salt Lake city. In the one that just happened in October, there were a number of addresses from leaders of the church around mental health. Um, the church has, and we'll put this in the show notes. He actually has a website that's dedicated to mental health and it outlines a few things that we can do. It talks about, you know, watching what you say. So if, if you're in a position where someone comes to you and says, "Hey, Yechiel, this is the, the challenge I'm having, be careful the things that you, that you respond with, right? Sometimes we just need to listen and we don't need to fix, which as engineers is really hard because we want to fix everything because everything can be fixed, right? Um, we also need to be authentic friends. Um, everyone needs a friend and when you are suffering from depression, the world feels like a very lonely place. Um, it's, you know, talks about things like practice, self care, and it goes into details and what to think. Self care is, um, it talks about, you know, this, uh, the "be still", you know, sometimes it's for me, when I'm in a depressive episode, I do the opposite of, um, be still, I get really busy. The more busy I am, probably the, the more unstable my mental health is. Um, so, you know, if I'm working 12, 13, 15 hours a day, um, I'm, I'm probably trying to run away from something, um, you know, talks about, you know, finding joy and taking care of our physical cells, which is really important. Um, yeah, those are all things. Now I will also point out that the reality of Mormonism is this. The state of Utah has the highest percentage of Mormons anywhere in the world. Um, and in a study, um, done I believe in 2017 at found that LDS women are almost twice as common to have mental health issues than LDS men and 20%, 27% of a Mormon women and 14 and a half percent of Mormon men were dealing with a significantly a significant depression. And Utah again, which is predominantly Mormon, also has the highest incidents of adult mental illness and adults with serious thoughts of suicide in the, in the entire United States. And those are some pretty heavy things when you have such a high population that is focused on mental health. So yes, you know, Mormonism itself is doing a lot of things to say to start this narrative. And as we talked about before the show started, Canada, um, among other nations in the world has done a wonderful thing where there's a company here, uh, it's kinda like your Ma Bell down there in the States, uh, Bell Canada and they, every year, um, they run a campaign called "Let's Talk." And that campaign has been super powerful in, um, addressing the stigma around mental health and seeing others who have not only experienced mental health but have been able to navigate the complexities of it. So, I mean, religious communities, as I talked before, very complex narrative, a very complex system. Some are so much better in dealing with it than others. Um, I think Mormonism is getting better. It still has a ton of work to do.

Yechiel: 07:44 Speaking from the Jewish community perspective, there's um, the stigma is still there like Leon spoke about earlier. But I do believe it's getting better. It's becoming more OK to speak about it. It's becoming more okay to seek help. I mentioned earlier that, you know, some people can see it as a sort of a religious failing, but on the other hand, Judaism also tells you that when you're sick you should go to the doctor. There's um, there's the verse in the Torah that specifically gives permission to doctors to heal. And so realizing that your mental health is just like any other health issue, there is actually a mitzvah. There's a commandment to take care of of that. You can't serve God when you're not, when you're sick and bad. You also can't serve God when you're depressed. So dealing with it is important.

Leon: 08:31 Right. And, and that versus, I think it's important to point out that that versus in direct contradiction to the idea that going to a doctor would deny faith in God, that that seeking another human to help fix you would say, "Well, I believe this human is more powerful than, or has somehow more ability or skill than God does." And so this verse comes to say, "No, that's not how, that's how not how this world works. Uh, you know, this world works on certain, you know, principals and doctors have an understanding of, you know, the biology and all those things and that's okay. I put it there for that reason." Um, yes, you're right. You know, God is the one who is ultimately going to heal you. But in the same way that God is the one who ultimately is going to feed you and ultimately gonna make sure you're okay. And yet we still have to do the work of planting seeds and harvesting and all those things because we still have to take part in this world. The same thing with seeing, uh, you know, professionals who can, who can help us out. They are part of the process. Um, I also want to add that this way, this is where we get into the true role of what a rabbi does in Orthodox Jewish synagogue communal life. Um, I think from the outside people think the rabbi is the, you know, either the smartest Jew in the room, or the one who leads all the religious things, you know, they lead the service and the, they read all the important parts. In fact, when you go to an Orthodox service, the rabbi is probably the one who is sitting there doing the least. Um, in the service. They're not leading. They're not, you know, any of those things. The rest of the congregation handles that piece. The rabbi is the one who understands, uh, each of the congregants on the most personal level. That's, that's what they're there for. They're there to know what somebody is struggling with, uh, religiously and to know if they're struggling with something emotionally or in their health. Because Judaism is so private about things, people don't necessarily broadcast their troubles. The rabbi is the single point of contact in a lot of cases where someone says, yeah, I just got fired from my job and I'm really embarrassed about it. And the rabbi can reach out to somebody else and say, Hey, I, you know, I heard that in your company. You're, you're looking for somebody. I happen to know someone who is looking for work, you know, and can be that switchboard operator who can put people in touch at the same time, the rabbi is the touchstone. Who, who says, "Oh, that thing that you're, you know, you're questioning about your faith. That's normal. Lots of people do that." Um, or to say, "Wow, that's really kind of exceptional. Let's work on that. Let's talk about that. Let, let you know. Let's see who else we can, we can bring in for that." Whether that is spiritual or emotional or, you know, uh, mental slash psychological or just physical health. Um, they're the ones who are there to be the reality check and the sanity check and that trusted advisor. So, uh, I, I think Josh speaking to your point about what are you look for in religious leaders. Again, someone who's can be vulnerable, can also open themselves up to other people being vulnerable to them, but also that's, that's their role, uh, in the community. And the other point I wanted to make is that, uh, to your point about being still, uh, in, in Judaism, we pray three times a day, you know, morning, afternoon, and in the evening. The prayers are not, uh, they're not trivial. You know, they can take anywhere from 45 minutes to, you know, at the very least, 15 minutes, depending on what time of day it is. And I think that that's, they can be extremely meditative. You know, they offer an opportunity to check in with yourself, you know, whether you want to talk, you know, call it talking to God or checking in with the boss. Uh, I don't mean Springsteen. Or, uh, you know, checking in, you know, with yourself, whatever it is. If you take the opportunity, prayer can be more than just a litany of, "I really need this. And I really like that. And can you buy me a pony and you know...", Or, you know, "thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You're wonderful. You're wonderful. You're wonderful." It can be a moment to say, how am I doing and what feels missing? And Josh, to your point, you know, am I running away from something? Is there something I'm avoiding? What's that all about? Um, so I think that that in a Jewish context, there are these opportunities. Not that everyone takes them, not that everyone looks at them that way, but I believe that they're there.

Josh: 13:19 Yeah. Honestly, one of the hardest transitions, one of the hardest things that I had to do when I transitioned away from Mormonism was a rediscover prayer. Uh, you know, once, once the deity that you knew when I couldn't define God for me anymore. And that was really hard. So I'm a little curious. I want to go about to your, just your description of the rabbi because there appears to be such a, a broad difference between your experience, both of your experiences, um, with Orthodox Judaism and the, um, the role of the rabbi. And that of Mormonism. Um, so tell me, tell, tell me, tell the listeners a little bit about rabbis. How long do they go to school? What training do they have that allows them to have that role where you could go to them and say, "Hey, a rabbi, I'm struggling with this. I'm struggling with my mental health. How do I work through it?"

Leon: 14:17 Yechiel, this one's for you.

Yechiel: 14:18 Yeah. It's interesting because there is nothing in the formal training of a rabbi that actually prepares them for that. The actual formal training is like purely the legal aspects of it. Like knowing how to, you know, is a kosher or not, you know, it was a, you know, what am I allowed to do on Shabbat? What am I not allowed to do? You know, the sort of the, the, the legal aspects of the questions that they might ask you. But then like I said, you know, every rabbi of a congregation has to deal with all these other issues that come up and that pretty much comes, you know, that there is no formal training for that, that they, that you have to pick up. You know, most rabbis will spend time, uh, under, you know, sort of as assistant grab buys, helping out other communities and picking up and you know, the, those are things... These are things you can quantify. You can't teach them in a classroom, have empathy and relating to people on communication skills. These aren't things that you can teach. You have them or you don't. Obviously you can perfect them, you can make them better. And someone who will struggle with that, we'll just realize early on that being a rabbi is not for them. So it's sort of a self selecting role where the most successful rabbis are the ones who are most respected for the reasons that Leon mentioned because they have this empathy because they have these people skills because they have these connecting abilities to bring people together and to really get down to what people are.

Josh: 15:56 So our rabbi is, uh, the role of a rabbi is not assigned? It is something you pursue.

Yechiel: 16:02 Yes.

Leon: 16:03 Right. I also before it, before people recoil from, from their ear, you know, their earbuds and they go, "Oh my gosh, they were completely untrained and to do this", the rabbi isn't necessarily one who is going to try to fix these, these issues, these mental health issues or whatever, but they're in a position where as you feel said, they can listen, uh, empathetically and they can be a sounding board to say, "This is not, you know, this isn't typical." This isn't a a... I hate to say normal response, but this isn't a common response to these situations and let's help find someone to talk to. And rabbis regularly do, you know, uh, recommend people to therapists and psych, you know, psychologists and psychiatrists, to marriage counselors and to, uh, you know, personal counselors as well and say, let's, you know, they, they don't try to tackle... In the same way they wouldn't try to tackle a myocardial infarction, you know, a heart attack and say, "okay, I can Torah this!" Like, no, that's not, you know, they're going to say this is not good physical health. We're going to call an ambulance now. They also, but, but people are often more comfortable sharing their mental state with them and therefore they can be the point to say, you know, as another human listening, "You know what, I think we need to get someone else involved. Let's, let's do that."

Josh: 17:35 So. again, we're trying to, to interweave our religion and our IT communities. And so this role of a rabbi is very interesting to me. I'm wondering if there is an equivalent when we're with mental health and our IT communities, like is there like, do we have those that, that rabbinical role or do we have, you know, in the context of Mormonism, do we have that, that role of Bishop or stake president, which if you're Catholic, a stake president is like a, uh, an Archbishop. Uh, I don't know what the, the Jewish equivalent of that is, but like, uh, you don't have one.

Leon: 18:10 There ain't none. There's no organizational structure. That's another misconception is that there's some, you know, pan galactic, Jewish organism. Forget about the conspiracy theories. You know, there, there's really, I mean, you've never seen anything quite so disorganized until you get into Orthodox Judaism. It's...

Yechiel: 18:29 uh, but to answer your question about, um, what would be started the equivalent role in it, uh, I think a, a good manager would recognize if one of their teammates, you know, is taking on too much, seems to be burning out or it seems to just be stretched too thin or just in general it seems to be down and will call them out on it and tell them, you know, take a sick day, take a mental health day, you know, if they see other problems, persistent, talk to someone. Um, obviously the workplace has, you know, I'm lucky to work at a company that values mental health and you know, and it shows both like in the benefits that they offer and the health insurance that they offer and you know, they offer counseling and things like that. Um, so I think definitely workplaces have a lot to... Have a big role to play in here. And started and a direct equivalent to the rabbi job, the mat, you know, a manager has direct responsibility for their reports.

Leon: 19:25 So I also think that, um, it, you know, we, I think we all know that that manager, you can have good managers. I think that, um, a whole other podcast or entire podcast series on the types of managers we've had. And yes, Josh, I'm in the middle of reading the manager's path. So based on, from your recommendations. So, uh, you know, the good and bad managers all around. But I also think that, um, mentors, which is much more self-selective have the opportunity to, to be that sounding board. Um, someone who knows you, who understands what you're going through, who understands that in a professional context, but is able to say, um, as we said at the top of the show, it's one thing to be a little tired or a little upset or a little frustrated, but when that turns into, you know, longterm exhaustion or rage or anxiety, that's, you know, sort of a tipping point and a mentor, maybe the person who is able to say, "No, no, no, I've, I've, I've seen this, or I'd had this and I can tell you right now, this is, you know, let's, let's do something about it."

Josh: 20:32 I've been pretty fortunate to have really good managers, um, for the past five years. I mean, that's not to say that my managers and the previous 15, uh, weren't, weren't, uh, good. Uh, or in some cases even, you know, Leon, you and I, uh, shared a manager. Uh, Andy was an outstanding individual. Still is. He's not changed a bit. I mean, he's still outstanding. Um, I've had, uh, two other managers since Andy transitioned away from our team into another team. Uh, both of whom I've been able to talk openly about my mental health and my depression. And to the point of mentors. I recently picked up a mentor. I reached out to somebody that I'd worked with, a director. And in our first conversation I was able to say to, you know, to this individual, Rob, look, I want to tell you that I, you know, I struggle with depression. I've, I've got some mental health challenges that that is part of who I am and it, it helps me to be who I am, but sometimes it also inhibits me. And I think to the point of this, this whole podcast, if we can fight the stigma of so many other things, uh, right. My oldest son has autism. When he was diagnosed, uh, more than 20 years ago. Um, the stigma around autism was, O"h, they are cold, um, isolationist individuals. They have, you know, there's nothing going on. Um, you know, all you can do is either medicate or give them intense therapy and that's the only way to save them". Um, w we bucked the system on all of those and now we're having discussions around, well, look, the autism is a spectrum and there are some people on the autistic spectrum that if we just removed the things that they struggle with, they can do exemplary work. Um, and I think that, I think that we'll mature, um, as a society where we look at mental health and we say, look, there are some things that we can remove and that when we remove those barriers that we have more people that can contribute to the well being of society. Um, I mean, I, I, I guess I'm very fortunate. Yechiel used a term, uh, earlier where you said, um, from a position of privilege, and I think that I have often operated from that position of privilege when it comes to the, the immediate managers I've had.

Leon: 23:12 So I just, uh, offering, um, a point of perspective is that I, I still think that in it mental health, talking about mental health is a challenge. I don't want to diminish that or be Pollyanna about it. It's, you know, there's a lot of people walking around in a lot of different companies or teams who know, not just suspect, but know that there is nothing, there's no way they can talk about it. Um, and I think that especially in parts of the it community, that are already struggling with toxic masculinity and brogrammer culture that's just not gonna happen. Um, however, I have seen enough discussions about burnout, um, about dealing with poor workplace habits or teams or processes. I've seen social media discussions tagged with the #FightTheStigma hashtag, you know, I've seen enough of that to know that there is a shift taking place, this podcast, you know, not the least among those things that this is a conversation that more people are insisting that we have. Um, to put it out in the open to say this is a thing that happens. Again, Josh just, you know, in the same way that once upon a time people didn't dare talk about a child with autism. Now it's, you know, I was talking to somebody the other day who was on a flight and they were sitting next to... She, she works with, uh, exclusively with, with, uh, adults and kids with autism. And she was sitting on a flight next to somebody who was just coming with their child from having gotten a diagnosis and without thinking, she says, "Oh my gosh, that's wonderful! That's so exciting!" Because in her perspective, working with these folks all day long, every day, they are joyful and fun and creative and interesting in ways that neuro-typical people just aren't. And you know, she just, and she said, "I actually had to check myself for a minute because I realized that they had just gotten this diagnosis. They were just wrapping their head around it. And my unabashed enthusiasm was probably not taken the way that I meant it." Um, so in that same way that they're, you know, that, that reaction to families who have individual with autism in it, I think that, you know, the more we talk about it, the more that we bring it out there and talk about our individual experiences. Um, I, I do also want to bring up something that I had seen a friend say earlier, which is that as much as we encourage people who may be, uh, dealing with depression or are struggling with, um, you know, just emotions that they can't even quantify, um, and saying, you know, "if you're not sure what to do, get help...", We acknowledge, or at least I acknowledge that I may be adding fuel to the fire because in those moments, movement, emotional or even physical movement, maybe the hardest thing to do and not being able to do that may feed into that depressive cycle that you're experiencing. So, um, you know, get the help that you can. Be kind to yourself in the same way that you would be kind to anybody else in your world. Uh, again, from our religious tradition, I think that we are taught, we are, we are told, we are commanded to give the benefit of the doubt, to be kind to both our neighbors and the the strangers, in our community. And yet that is the thing that we are most reluctant sometimes to give ourselves. So if it helps at all, treat yourself like a stranger. To, you know, if you say, "I don't even know who I am." Okay, fair enough. Then then get to know whoever that weirdo is looking at you in the mirror and treat them with the kindness that you would treat anybody else who showed up at your doorstep in need.

Josh: 27:05 My wife, uh, she was a great example to me today. We, we have, uh, some, some, uh, friends who recently lost a child, um, in a very traumatic way and child, but he was an adult, a young adult and it was difficult for my wife to, to talk with this other woman. She was obviously struggling with the scenario of, you know, life without this child who had this wonderfully infectious smile. Um, he was just a joy to be around. He was very hyper, very, very hyper. Uh, but he always made people smile and always made people laugh. And as I watched my wife, um, you know, the, the, the thing you don't want to say to somebody, and this is to your point, is well, what can I do for you? Because the answer is I don't know. I don't know how to help. And so my wife said, "Look, if you need someone to talk to, please call me. Or if you need someone to listen, please call me. Just know that I'm here." And I thought, wow, that is such a powerful thing. It's so simple. But you, as you said, Leon, we often are not willing to give of ourselves in that way. Um, so to all of our listeners, you know, be present for those among your coworkers and your community, whether it's IT or religious, I think that's powerful, right? I, I hope that our IT communities get better, uh, get more authentic and maybe less competitive. I think that'll do a lot for our mental health. Here's what I'll say. Um, when I started my religious community, which I have, uh, which I wrapped up now that, that I'm in a different place. Um, the tagline was, "You are not alone." Um, so if nothing else today, I hope that our listeners, well, we'll take that and remember, you are not alone. Um, life is a journey. Sometimes we pull off at a rest top and we can rest. Other times we press on even when we should have pulled off to rest. Um, do not walk the journey alone. Your path looks different than my path. Looks different than Yechiel's path or Leon's path. But we're all on this journey together. Um, if you are struggling, if you need someone to, to or reach out, reach out to us via email, our Twitter DMs are open. LinkedIn. Heck, you can even look me up on the phone book because Prince Edward Island still has a phone book. It's crazy. I know, but um, just remember that you're not alone. You're not alone and uh, people, people will be there for you.

Leon: 30:06 Thanks for making time for us this week to hear more of Technically Religious visited our website, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect us on social media.

Josh: 30:18 At Technically religious. We usually have something funny to say at this point in the show, but mental health is nothing to take lightly. If you are struggling, please reach out to a family member, friend or a healthcare professional. If you are in crisis, please seek immediate medical attention. You are not alone. Fight the stigma.


S2E31: Fight The Stigma

S2E31: Fight The Stigma

November 12, 2019

"Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you're part of a team!" - so goes the impossibly catchy song from the Lego Movie. In IT, we are often expected to be caught up in that same spirit - hyped up on the adrenaline of fixing systems, catching hackers, and inventing new stuff. These expectations - which come from external sources like our boss or company or IT culture at large, or internally from assumptions we've taken on as personal truths - can fly in the face of how we're actually feeling. When our feelings turn from just being "a little tired", "a little frustrated", or "a little sad" to serious challenges like burn out, rage, or depression, it can be hard to admit, let alone seek help or ask our coworkers for support and understanding. And yet religious, moral, and ethical traditions are rich with stories of people coping with the exact same challenges. In this episode, we're going to get brutally honest about the mental health challenges we've faced and are facing today as well as what lessons from our faiths we can carry with us to provide insight, comfort, and even strength. Listen or read the transcript below.

Destiny: 00:00 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as IT professionals mesh or at least not conflict with our religious life. This is Technically Religious.

Music: 00:24 "Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you are part of a team. Everything is awesome..."

Leon: 00:31 So goes the impossibly catchy song from the Lego movie and it we are often expected to be caught up in that same spirit hyped up on the adrenaline of fixing systems, catching hackers and inventing new stuff. These expectations can come from external sources like our boss or company or it culture at large. We're internally from assumptions we've taken on as personal truths and can fly in the face of how we're actually feeling

Yechiel: 00:56 When our feelings turn from just being a little tired, a little frustrated or a little sad to serious challenges like burnout, grades, anxiety or depression. It can be hard to admit or let alone seek help or ask our coworkers for support and understanding. And yet religious, moral and ethical traditions are rich with stories of people coping with the exact same challenges.

Josh: 01:15 In this episode we're going to get brutally honest about the mental health challenges we faced and are facing today as well as what lessons from our face we can carry with us to provide insight, comfort, and even strength. I'm Josh Biggley and the other voices you're going to hear on this episode are my partners in podcasts, crime, Leon, Adato.

Leon: 01:35 Hello.

Josh: 01:36 And Yechiel Kelmenson.

Yechiel: 01:38 Hi again.

Josh: 01:39 Hello. All right, so this is a bit of an odd episode for us. Um, I mean this, this feels a little heavy. So before things get to, you know, heavy for us, little shameless self promotion. Leon, why don't you lead us off?

Leon: 01:55 Okay, so I'm Leon Adato, uh, I'm a Head Geek at SolarWinds. You can find me on Twitter @LeonAdato. I blog and pontificate on all sorts of technical things at and identify as an Orthodox Jew.

Yechiel: 02:11 I'll take a next, uh, I'm a Yechiel Kelmenson. I'm an engineer at Pivotal. Um, you can find me on social media at @YechielK, um, if you want to read what I have to say, it's on my blog at and like Leon, I'm an Orthodox Jew

Josh: 02:26 And I'm Josh Biggley. I'm currently an enterprise monitoring engineer, but by the time this episode drops, I'll have started a new role as a senior tech ops strategy consultant at New Relic. You can find me on the Twitters, uh, at, @jbiggley. Um, I don't actually have a place where you can find me other than I would say Twitter, LinkedIn. I I've taken to, to posting a fair bit on LinkedIn. Um, and I identify as an ex Mormon,

Leon: 02:52 Um, and I'm obligated to point out to everyone who might be scribbling madly to try to write that down, that we will have show notes and it will have all those links and everything else we refer to in this episode. So please don't worry, just sit back, relax and listen, just to enjoy the conversation. So I, I have to say that this entire episode was actually inspired by a comment that Josh made during one of our other podcast. It was episode 28, which is titled Release to Production. Once again, we'll have a link to that in the production notes and around the 12 and a half minute mark, Josh said this:

Josh: 03:26 And then in my own family, right, I suffer from depression and my work toward getting promoted happened to coincide with a really difficult depressive episode.

Leon: 03:37 So Josh, I want to start off by talking about that specific moment. Um, do you find that you're talking, you talk about your mental health often.

Josh: 03:46 I mean, you know, mental health, um, I, you know, as this episode title fight, the stigma, um, says is perhaps not something that I've talked about often. Look, I've, I've dealt with mental health issues, um, at least going back into my late teens. Um, it's something that, that kind of ebbs and flows for me. It's something that I'm comfortable with talking with my family about what my immediate family. Uh, and there are a few other people in my circle of trust who I've, I've talked to my I talked to about my mental health.

Leon: 04:21 Okay. So that being the case, you know, you, you're not mental health forward when you have, hi, my name's Josh and here's my depression is not how you do things then. Then I have to ask because it, you can hear in the clip. It was just something you said and it was a point that you were making as part of a larger conversation and we move, you know, and we moved on from it. But I have to imagine that that had to feel a particular way to say that on the air like that.

Josh: 04:49 I think the advantage of doing a podcast is that you record it and then it's done. And then you, you almost forget that you say it at least until I do the transcriptions. And by that point,

Leon: 05:01 by the way, thank you.

Josh: 05:01 You're welcome. And by that point, here's the thing, when, when you're struggling with something, um, confession is good for the soul. And I honestly, I do believe that it is good to share. I mean, did I intend to share at that particular moment? No, I didn't. Do I regret sharing? No, I don't regret sharing.

Leon: 05:29 Okay. Which, which takes me to the last, you know, basic question about that moment, which is have you gotten any feedback, you know, on, on social media or in, you know, on the blog that's associated with Technically Religious or anything, you know, or even just comments that you've gotten one-on-one.

Josh: 05:44 Has anybody come in and said, wow, you know, you said that and X, Y,Z , you know, uh, I haven't, and, uh, honestly, listeners, I'm a little disappointed. Uh, I know that mental health is a real struggle for people. I know many, many people, and we'll talk about this a little later, who struggle with mental health, whether we're talking about full-blown depression, whether we're talking about anxiety, whether we're talking about, you know, unhealthy levels of stress, whatever it might be, and nobody reached out. Um, I think the stigma is very real. And so, you know, if, if you're struggling or if you want to talk, you know how to find me.

Leon: 06:26 Right. And I think that goes for certainly all three of us. And I, I would also say that, um, the, the Technically Religious, uh, speaker cast at large, um, one of the things we've all been very open about is, is saying, look, if you have a question about anything that you are dealing with struggling with, have a question about, curious about, we're all pretty, Oh, we wouldn't be doing a podcast if we didn't want to talk about it.

Josh: 06:50 That's right. And we do like to talk. I mean, we're, we're pretty good at it.

Leon: 06:54 So that's on sort of the, the podcast technical social media side. Have you shared these kinds of things in religious contexts?

Josh: 07:03 Um, no, no, no, I haven't. Eh, and, um, yeah. Uh, and there's a reason for that. Um, in my, my religious community, um, as I said, I'm ex-Mormon, uh, now as our listeners know, I've, I've been transitioning since this podcast started. Um, there is a very toxic culture of perfection. Admitting that you have a mental health struggle is not a minute, is not looked at. It's looked at as a weakness. All right. Um, I F my personal experience, um, included some really fantastic people, but I also met some of the most cutthroat people that I've ever encountered in my entire life. And when you showed that soft underbelly, that weakness, your fear was that they would got you. Um, and here's the thing that's not unique to Mormonism. Um, I expected that is anytime you get a group of people together, you're going to find those, those individuals. I mean, in some organizations they may be more, but there's probably one, at least one in every organization. And for me, ultimately the, the question that I, I had to ask myself was, am I, am I generally comfortable with sharing this, um, within my religious context? And the answer was no. I mean, it's not that I didn't share it with people who shared my religious beliefs. I certainly had those, those moments, but it wasn't something that I got up in the middle of a sermon. I was like, yeah, yeah, I, I suffer from depression. And those things just didn't happen.

Leon: 09:01 Right? So I think it's, it's important to point out, and, and I've said it in a very particular way on this podcast a couple of times a Judaism and apparently Mormonism also have not found the cure for the common asshole. There's still gonna be, you know, individuals who are jerks regardless of their religious affiliation. And that's, you know, that's the truth. But it's got to be hard when you are talking about, uh, w when you're having conversations around ethics and charity and Goodwill and kindness to know that there is a line in the sand that you're just not comfortable crossing that by all accounts shouldn't be there. Um, so in the Orthodox community, my, my first and my visceral experience with talking about mental health, and it's not the only one, but it's the one that comes to mind every time, is that when, when mental health comes up, um, where a lot of people go is that admitting to or getting help for mental health will make it harder for, uh, children to get a shidduch or get a match for a marriage, um, either for themselves or for siblings. So a lot of families will sweep those kinds of things under the rug. And again, it's not just don't talk about it, it's also not medicating children for everything from attention deficit to, to anxiety, to oppositional defiance disorder to anything. Because the medication itself is an admission of a problem and that can get out in the community and that can be seen as a challenge. I'm not saying it is a challenge, but I think that a lot of families immediately, that's their first worry is my kid won't be able to get married because of it.

Yechiel: 10:47 Yeah, I definitely seen saying as far as the Orthodox Jewish community, that's probably the biggest obstacle in terms of talking about mental health. Um, and then on a secondary, uh, you know, started saying secondary and isn't that it's not as big a problem as the shidduch problem. Um, I find also that people have a hard time sort of owning up or admitting that they have, that they have issues because there's like, there's so much stress put on, on, you know, believing in God and trusting God that everything is good, that everything that God does is good and therefore you should be happy and you should be confident and you should be. Um, the umbrella term for it in Judaism is betach baShem to have trust in God and you feel like when you don't feel that way. When you feel, when, when you do have depression or anxiety or whatever it is, you feel like there's something wrong with you. Like if I was religious enough, if I took these ideas more to heart, I wouldn't be feeling this way. I wouldn't, you know, it's a, it's a failure on my, on my part as a person, as a religious person, not realizing course that it's a health issue, like any other health issue. And just like getting the flu doesn't mean that you're trusting God is lacking. So it doesn't getting depressed me. That is a problem in your life.

Leon: 12:04 And that's, and I think we'll, we'll talk more about that in a little bit about, about how things can be addressed. But yeah, it's, it's really hard when a crisis of mental health also becomes a crisis of faith because I think those two things have a really easy time of feeding upon each other to make the entire situation much, much worse.

Josh: 12:24 So I'm curious, something that, that comes to mind, um, that, at least on the surface appears to be a commonality, is this idea of the gospel of prosperity. And you see it a lot in Christianity, right? It's the whole idea that, well, if I'm, if I'm obedient enough and if I give enough than if I serve enough, then God will give me. And if I'm, if I am poor, if I'm sick, if I struggle, then you know, obviously I'm not doing, or even worse, you know, if you Yechiel, you know, if he's struggling, well obviously he's not. Uh, and then we get into that judgment that is unfortunately very prevalent in Christianity. And, and for those who are, who cannot see Leon, he is, he is writhing and agony here.

Leon: 13:18 I only learned about prosperity gospel a year or two ago. I never heard of it before. And the whole thing just, I can't, I still can't wrap my head around it because it's not, it is absolutely not a Jewish concept. Um, and it, that's not what this episode is about.

Josh: 13:39 That's interesting though because it's, at least within Mormonism, there is a lot of veneration about leaders and you know, how do we follow those leaders? And one of the things that at least if you go to your local bookstore and cause they still exist, there are places you can actually buy books that aren't online. I know it's weird, but if you go to your local bookstore and go to the self help section, you're going to read a titles from people who are leaders in their spaces, right? And we look to those people for inspiration. Today I was on LinkedIn and uh, uh, Jeff Weiner, who was the CEO of LinkedIn, shared a post, uh, and we'll put it in the show notes, but he was asked about what his leadership values were. And I thought that these were really interesting because as, as we're talking about this stigma or the potential for a stigma around mental health, um, if I had mental health struggles, I would want to be an environment with a leader like this. Here's what he said, "Be compassionate, be authentic, be open, honest and constructive. Be of service others. Lead by example, inspire." I thought, Holy cow, that that is what I want would want in a leader. And if I had a leader like that, then I would feel comfortable opening up to them and saying, look, these are my struggles. This is what I'm dealing with. Ken, how can I help? Or how can I continue to work and work through these struggles? I dunno, uh, Yechiel, what values do you have or what attributes do you value in, in others professionally, whether fellow engineers, managers, leaders?

Yechiel: 15:38 Obviously in addition to having their technical ability, I think if they can't share that tech and global, I said, I don't have the empathy to, to look back and bring back, bring people up with them, you know, um, then, uh, they're started sort of uselessly. Um, there's a whole thing going on in Twitter now about 10X engineers. And I heard someone who said it that defined it very well. 10X engineers that someone who writes 10 times more code at 10X engineers, someone who can teach 10 times 10 more, 10 other engineers who can create 10 other engineers is sort of as a force multiplier. So if you don't have this empathy of, you know, if you don't have the communication ability and being able to bring other people up behind you, then what are you worth?

Josh: 16:27 Hmm. I like that. Alright. Leon?

Leon: 16:28 Yeah. Um, so in terms of professional values, I think it's all the things that are unfortunately labeled soft skills, which says everything that you need to know about how an organization perhaps views them, um, which is wrong. I think that people's ability to connect on a human level is significantly more important than their ability to do any particular technical trick. Um, or I guess I should say that if I need a particular technical skill that's a consultant or a contractor that's not a colleague, a colleague is somebody that I wanna build a relationship with. And, and Josh, to go back to your point from earlier on, I want to be among people that I am, I would be comfortable sharing those parts of my experience, not saying my life. I am not saying that you have to work with people at work who you're buddy buddy with, but you have to work with people who you can be vulnerable with in a work context where I can say, I don't know, or this has me frustrated or I'm really frightened about taking on this task. I'm, you know, I'm apprehensive about this. And you have to be able to say that, not because it's important to be vulnerable or whatever, but because if you, if you can't say that, then you're going to either avoid doing things that are, uh, opportunities for you to grow in your career and your skills, or you're going to do it anyway, and you're going to sort of do it in that sort of blind haze of panic and you may not execute well. Whereas if you have a team where you can comfortably say, I'm having a really hard moment right now, can I have, can I have five minutes? Can I have half a day? Can someone sit with me while I do this? You may not have to do anything, but I just need, I need a buddy on this. You know? Um, when you have a junior engineer who comes in and says, I've actually never, you know, done this kind of coding before and can feel comfortable saying that and the team and say, not a problem. You know, I'm going to sit right here. I'm gonna do my own thing. But when you have a question, I'm right here to answer it for you. You know, that's again, that's a vulnerability in a work context that I have to be comfortable enough to say that's the things that I value are people who, who foster those kinds of conversations.

Josh: 19:03 You used a, a phrase there, um, or an example where you said, I'm not comfortable doing this thing. One, that is a really tough thing to do professionally, but it reminded me of one of the very last experiences I had in Mormonism. Um, so for context and Mormonism, there are no, there is no paid clergy at the local level. Um, they do practice lay ministry. So that means that the, the leader of your congregation is, could be your accountant to, it could be, uh, he could play a plumber. In my case, um, the, the leader of the congregation I attended as, is actually a fellow it pro, um, works for the provincial government. Really nice guy. Um, but my responsibility in the congregation was as the clerk. So I, I had a chance to invite, uh, people at the direction of, um, our Bishop to, to give sermons on Sunday and we call them talks and Mormonism. But we've actually there, there are many sermons and you'd be assigned. Everyone in the congregation ultimately gets assigned. And I remember we assigned a topic to a woman who's been a member for a very, very long time, um, you know, many, many decades. And she approached me probably a week before she was supposed to give her her talk, her sermon, and she said, Josh, I, I can't do this. Like, I, I can't speak on this topic. Uh, if you're interested, the topic was the physical nature of God. Right? Um, and so, you know, Hey, it's a heavy topic, but she's like, I read this and I'm, I, I don't, I don't understand it. And my response to her was, then talk about what you're comfortable with. I mean, pick parts of, you know, the reference material that is good for you, and then deliver that. But in your, in your comments, Leon, I was struck by how rare that might be. You know, oftentimes we're told, well, you know, just, just go ahead and do that. Um, so my next question for both of you is, we've talked about these values that we, um, that we want to see in our colleagues, in our managers professionally. Are they any different than our religious observance?

Yechiel: 21:16 Not necessarily. Um, and Judaism, there's, there are two kinds of commandments. Um, there's been a bein adam lamakom, which are commandments between man, between a person and God. And bein adam lechaveiro between a person and another person. So the first category would be commandments around prayer, around the holidays, things that are between you and God. Um, the second one includes things like, do not steal, be nice to each other, help each other out. And the Talmud is full of quotes that say that if someone says that I owe, you know, there's a quote about the ethics of our fathers. If a person says, I only have Torah, then he doesn't, then even Torah, he doesn't have meaning. If someone says, yeah, I'm just going to study and learn Torah all day, that's my thing. Uh, doing things and, you know, being nice to others. That's that, you know, that I'll leave that for others. Then he doesn't even have the Torah because the Torah is all about helping others and being good with others and being good to the world. So, yeah, so just like an it, having the, you know, having the, the brilliance is nothing if you're not going to share with others, if you don't have the humility to pay it forward.

Leon: 22:28 Right. And, and as an example of that, um, you know, when we're talking about rabbis, you know, the, the congregational leaders, and, and we'll get to that in a little bit also. Um, well what that really means in a Jewish context, but if a rabbi isn't comfortable getting up as part of his discussions, whether it's a sermon or a class or a lecture or, uh, a conversation, um, and say, and this thing happened, and I was, I didn't even know where to go with that, or I was feeling really overwhelmed or it really scared me. You know, any of those things. Once again, same thing as we talked about with the IT people. If they're not comfortable admitting to that, you know, quote unquote weakness, then that's, um, that's problem. If they're laboring under the misguided assumption that they have to be infallible, that is not going to end well.

Yechiel: 23:27 Yeah. Uh, actually reminds me of something like my teacher brought up a lot. Uh, one of the foremost commentators on the Torah Rashi, Rabbi Shlomo Itzhaki, who lived around 900 years ago in France. And he, so he's like the foremost commentator on the Torah, every pretty much every homeless you'll find at any synagogue has his commentary there. And there's actually a pretty famous, uh, one of the verses, Rashi quotes some line from the verse and says, I don't know what this is teaching us. And my teacher said, you know, why did he bother saying that? If you don't know, just leave it out. I mean, you're not, why do you have to tell us? So how many did you say that, you know, it's true. There were probably many other places where Rashi didn't know any, he didn't say anything, but he made a point to say it at least, at least once. So that we should know that it's okay to say, I don't know.

Josh: 24:18 I liked that. I liked that. So what happens when we encounter in our professional, personal, religious, you know, community environments, people who look at these values that we have, that we, that we desire and others and be like, I don't care. Wait, I, I'm going to violate these values. I mean, I can tell you what happened to me that led to my transition out of Mormonism when I saw people within Mormonism, uh, specifically leaders of the church who were acting in a way that had I acted locally, my wife would have been mad at me, my fellow congregants would have been mad at me. My Bishop may have pulled me in and said, Hey, Josh, like, what the hell are you doing? Like this is not the way you behave. Um, I certainly would have been judged. And so when I saw that from others, that began my spiral down up. I don't know which direction, uh, at the time it was down, but now I feel like it was up. Uh, and, and ultimately out of Mormonism. So, I mean, Leon, Yechiel what happens, what happens when we're, we're, we're, our values are violated?

Yechiel: 25:23 So I think like Leon mentioned earlier that, you know, no one found the carry out for the common asshole. Um, you realize that you know these things, you know, these people exist and they are not the people that we want to be around. If it's possible, like you did so cut them out of your life though that does come from place of privilege and how it always is that an option both in religion and in it, not always can you just leave your job or leave your congregation or leave your community. Um, but if you can do it, if you can't try to distance yourself as much as you can.

Leon: 25:59 I know that Josh, your, your transition was, you know, there wasn't like, well that was the one thing, you know, there was a lot of things that led up to this, this decision. So I don't, I don't want to characterize it as well, if only you had done this one thing that you wouldn't have those problems. You know, again, it was like all real problems. It was complex and had a lot of moving parts. Um, I think that if, if anyone listening has an experience with somebody where, you know, again, they violate these values that the religion as a whole holds as fundamental or that you personally hold as fundamental. I think the thing is to remember that they're one individual, that they're, you know, that, that they don't make up the sum total of a community, IT community or, or other. If you find yourself in an environment where those values are upheld and lauded, you know, the, the so-called toxic environment, you know, bro-grammer culture in an IT department or um, you know, or, or toxic management or, uh, or just a really unhealthy congregational life or a congregation that, that espouses a value that isn't intrinsically negative, but it's not something that's helpful for you, um, to remember that you, you do usually to Yechiel's point, usually have a choice. And that choice doesn't have to hurt. It just, it might be different. And to give you a very innocuous example of that. And I've talked about this on our podcast before, I, I read Hebrew very slowly. I'm, I've been working on it for a long time. I'm getting better, but it's still slow. And so when I find myself in a congregation that values the speed with which the prayers go, "we can get morning services done in 20 minutes. It's great!" You know, when, when I'm in there like, Hey look, I found somewhere that's not my place. This is really not for me. Um, and as you know, if I'm, if I need to be in that environment for whatever, I just sort of tough it out. But I know that as soon as I can get out of that environment, I, that's, that's what I'm going to need to do. It's not helpful for me. It's not healthy for me. It doesn't do anything for me. So that's again, that's an innocuous version. If you are in an environment that is exacerbating your mental state, um, either because you know, what you're hearing in the pews is mimicking the, the mental negative self talk that you have going on in your own head or it's making you feel more anxious rather than less or you feel like you can't share anything about who you really are with the people around you. Then, you know, it may take time, but you need to know that there are other communities, there are other places to go in most cases. Again, I'm not diminishing the, the long journey that Josh, you and your family have gone through.

Josh: 29:04 No. Yeah. I think that Maya Angelou really sums up something that I wish I had known before and I, I didn't know who my Angelou was before I began my faith transition. But among other notable quotes, she says, "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." And I think that that's really powerful when you are, when you're looking for people who you need to trust. Um, especially when it comes to our mental health. Um, if someone tells you, I am not someone who's going to protect you, um, and you see that, don't bring them your struggles because they're there, they're not going to be healthy for you.

Leon: 29:46 Can't wish people into being the person that you need them to be at that moment.

Josh: 29:50 That is right

Leon: 29:50 We know you can't listen to our podcast all day. So out of respect for your time, we've broken this particular conversation up. Come back next week and we'll continue our conversation.

Doug: 30:00 Thanks for making time for us this week to hear more of Technically Religious, visit our website,, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect to us on social media.

Josh: 30:14 At Technically Religious, we usually have something funny to say at this point in the show, but mental health is nothing to take lightly. If you are struggling, please reach out to a family member, friend, or a healthcare professional. If you are in crisis, please seek immediate medical attention. You are not alone. Fight the stigma.

S1E30: When Good People Make Bad Choices

S1E30: When Good People Make Bad Choices

November 5, 2019

The saying goes "To the left of me, lazy. To the right of me, crazy.". It's human nature to think that we know the right way things ought to be done. This is true for us as IT folks and may even be true in our religious life. However, religion has A LOT to say about how, when, and why you might offer "correction", and that may inform the ways in which we offer advice to our wayward IT bretheren. In this episode Josh, Doug, and Leon explore the ways in which our religious sensibilities can inform the way we help our colleagues to stay on the straight and narrow. Listen or read the transcript below.

Kate: 00:00 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experience we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We are not here to preach or teach you our religion or lack thereof. We're here to explore ways we make our careers as IT professionals mesh or at least not conflict with our religious life. This is Technically Religious

Leon: 00:25 As the saying goes "To the left of me, lazy to the right of me, crazy" It's human nature to think that we know the right way that things ought to be done. This is true for us as IT folks and may even be true in our religious life. However, religion has a lot to say about how when and why you might offer correction and that may inform the ways in which we offer advice to our wayward IT brethren. I'm Leon Adato and the other voices you're going to hear on this episode are my partners in podcast crime, Josh Biggley,

Josh: 00:55 Hi-di-ho, neighbor!

Leon: 00:57 And Doug Johnson.

Doug: 00:58 Hi, dee-ho?

Leon: 01:02 Right! Now he's a resident Canadian. He's got to do that. It's like a thing.

Josh: 01:06 It's true. I just want to point out before we jump in that we also have, um, IT Sistren? I don't know what the word is for that.

Leon: 01:13 Yeah, no, that's true. IT, yeah. Folks,

Doug: 01:16 Sistern!

Leon: 01:18 No, we're not doing that. It folks. F. O. L. X. Yes, you're right. Um,

Josh: 01:23 So F O L. X. Great. And now we're talking in l33t speak. This is fantastic.

Leon: 01:28 No, it's, it's good. It's a thing.

Doug: 01:29 Totally woke.

Leon: 01:29 All right, before we dive into the actual topic, I'd like to give everyone a chance for some shameless self promotion. Josh, why don't you kick it off?

Josh: 01:37 I'm Josh Biggley. I am a senior engineer of enterprise monitoring. You can find me on the Twitters at uh, at @jbiggley. I've also started up a new Twitter handle called, uh, uh, what's it called? Wait, uh, @DataGeekCA because I was, I was shamed for not having a Data Geek Canada, uh, tag. So now I do. Um, if you want, you can go to and follow along with my faith transitions community, uh, for religious observance? Currently Post-Mormon transitioning into ex-Mormon.

New Speaker: 02:12 Great. How about you Doug?

Doug: 02:13 I'm the CTO of WaveRFID. We do inventory software as a service using a radio-frequency identifier tags to go ahead and track glasses and things in medical offices. I'm not on social media at all anymore. I just was spending way too much time on it and I decided to bail. But you can find out about our company at and uh, I'm basically in evangelical Christian.

Leon: 02:39 Great. And for those people who are scribbling down this stuff, you know that we're going to have show notes usually a day after the podcast drops so you can stop scribbling and keep listening. Um, I'm Leon Adato. I am a Head Geek at SolarWinds. Yes, that's actually my job title. It's the best one on earth. You can find me on Twitter or the Twitters, as we say at Leon Adato. You can also read my pontifications on all things technical and sometimes nontechnical at and I identify as Orthodox Jewish sometimes to the chagrin of my Rabbi who often finds the things that I say challenging for him to have to answer for. Um, which is kind of where we are. We're talking about people sort of going off the rails and doing bad things and what we do about it or can do about it. And what I want to do is I want to first define it like any good IT person. I want to define what we're talking about. So we're not talking about really bad things, we're not talking about things that would get you into an orange jumpsuit or have you do hard time. But what are the things that we're talking about?

Josh: 03:44 Oh, I'm going to do a really bad thing right now and I'm going to tell you that I found your next job.

Leon: 03:49 Okay.

Josh: 03:49 I was in New York city recently and I had a chance to talk with the lead Site Reliability Engineer for Marvel.

Leon: 03:59 <gasping>

Josh: 04:01 Yes.

Leon: 04:01 <sounds of wonder and amazement>

Josh: 04:01 For Marvel.

Leon: 04:01 Okay.

Josh: 04:05 This, this. If Leon ever gets fired...

Doug: 04:10 This is not as rare as you might think.

Leon: 04:13 Right!?!

Josh: 04:15 I mean that's why I was looking out for him. Uh,

Leon: 04:19 It's a thing, right?

Josh: 04:20 It is a thing. Okay. So that's not a bad thing. I mean looking out for your, your fellow, um, your, your friends, uh, your colleagues and helping them find a role. Um, that's a good thing. I think you should do, you know, um, much to the chagrin of Charity Majors you should not test in prod.

Leon: 04:39 Okay. Right. Yeah. People. Okay. So again, testing, testing in prod when there is a process for testing in prod I think is different than people who just try to sneak stuff in without a change control, without telling anybody they're just going to do it and hope that they, that nobody notices. That's the problem.

Doug: 05:00 My dev team almost tried to do that a week ago. We, we release about once every couple of weeks and we were all set to release and there was, it was Thursday we were going to be releasing that weekend cause we released it on the weekend so we don't mess up any of our clients. And, um, there was just this one little thing that, that, uh, the product owner wanted and they said, Oh, well we can just go ahead and do that and get it done. I said, no, no, we'll do it in the next release. No, cause they're like a bunch of cowboys, you know, it's like, Oh yeah, we can just put it in and fix it. It's like, no! Bad! Fortunately, I'm CTO, so I can say "Bad. No."

Leon: 05:37 Right. Okay. So that's a bad thing that people do. So there's other things though, but whether it's IT or religious or whatever, I, so one thing that I see in the Orthodox community, people who, uh, make religious decisions for other people when they really don't have the credibility to do it. Like they might have a position in the synagogue, maybe they lead really well or they're just always there and present and they feel like that gives them the right to, um, say "You ought to do blah, blah." Or "Here I can tell you how to do this thing." Um, and that's honestly, that's the job of the rabbi. That's why the rabbis there. Um, so I think that that's, that's another one of those bad things that that fits within the framework of what we're talking.

Doug: 06:22 It happens with Bible instructors in Christianity, the guys who are teaching the classes and that kind of stuff, people look to them for guidance where really you should be going. The kinds of things that they talking about. You should be going to the elders or the, the, uh, pastors. Okay.

Josh: 06:37 So the great irony, in Mormonism, at least at the local level, they practice lay ministry. That means that you are literally asking your plumber or your accountant for marriage advice because there is no training for clergy.

Leon: 06:59 I can see that being problematic. I'm not trying to, I'm not trying to trigger the post-Mormon here. I just, you know,

Josh: 07:06 Too late. I'm already triggered.

Doug: 07:08 Although I could, I could see the examples that the plumber would use for marriage counseling,

ALL: 07:14 <hysterical laughing>

Doug: 07:14 Just saying.

Leon: 07:14 Oh my God! <laughing>.

Josh: 07:15 This have anything to do with the melons?

Leon: 07:19 Okay, wait, the melons are later. Don't spoil the melons.

Doug: 07:25 I'm sorry.

Leon: 07:27 So what are some other things moving along...

Doug: 07:31 In IT, for instance, one of the things that is, uh, people who are architects for instance, tend to go ahead and just say, well, this is the only way we're, this is the way we're gonna do it no matter what. Whereas in Agile, it's supposed to be the team come suit decision. But if you've got somebody who is got strong opinions and is in a position of I'm going to put power in quotes, or even if they just have a strong personality, they can go ahead and cut the discussion short, um, way too soon.

Leon: 08:04 Right. That's a bad thing. Okay.

Josh: 08:06 Yeah. And I think that, that, that ties in nicely with the, the religious context of thinking that you are better than somebody else, that, that holier than thou thing. I mean, um, some, uh, some people that we meet in our careers really do think that they are gods and that what they say is they can't go wrong. And unfortunately we run into those people in our religious observance, hell, we run into those people in, you know, in our coaching experiences. In our, you know, when you're out talking, you know, geek stuff with just, they're everywhere. Don't, don't be that person.

Doug: 08:47 All right. Right. On the flip side of that though, the more I learn about God, the worse I realize I am.

Josh: 08:53 Yes. That is, that is true. No, no, no. I mean [inaudible]

Doug: 08:56 I'm holier than nobody at this point!

Leon: 09:00 Oh, so look who's nobody now, uh-huh. There's a joke that goes along with that. I'll post it in the show notes. Um, okay. And one thing that's worth mentioning just to wrap this up, the kinds of stuff that we're talking about, again, the kinds of things that we notice in our daily lives that cause us to want to issue a correction are just the low level office type cheating that you see people cheating on their time sheet, fudging on their expense reports, taking credit for work they didn't do.

Doug: 09:27 Those are bad things?

Leon: 09:27 Things those are, yeah, yeah, they're, they're bad. Um, those are things that, those are things that again, don't get me off track man, that really are, are meant. Those are the things that we can find difficult to avoid the impulse to want to just call them on the carpet and tell them that this is a problem. Meanwhile, there's a question about whether or not we should call whether or not we should avoid the impulse, whether that's in fact the the moment to do it. Um, but I, before we get there, I, I want to do a little bit of psychoanalysis, a little bit of sort of sociological, uh, digging. Why do these hah, don't people know better? I mean, come on. You know, these are not new concepts. We've all been on both the receiving, we've been on the receiving end of these people should know better. Why does this, why do you think these things keep happening?

Josh: 10:21 So I had this conversation a couple of months ago with my friend and colleague, Zack Mutchler and Zack is a former Marine or is a Marine. I don't know how Marines refer to themselves once they aren't active anymore. Um, but he said this to me, he said, Josh, all Marines are soldiers. That's it. It doesn't make them good people. They're not any more trustworthy than anybody else. They're just Marines. Now, he did say that Marines are generally on the battlefield exemplary, but he said, stop, stop putting expectations of how you think people should behave just because they wear a particular label. And I thought, well, I mean that's interesting and maybe it's my expectations of people that are really falling down. And that is in both a religious context as well as the IT context. Like when I look at a fellow senior engineer, I have an expectation that they are going to function at a rather high level, but I'm a senior engineer after 20 years in the IT industry, someone else might be a senior engineer after six we might have the same technical knowledge, but certainly not the same context. Maybe not the same emotional maturity. Um, same business acumen. So, perhaps it's me who's,... my expectations are incorrect?

Leon: 11:55 Interesting. Right? So, so just because people come from a particular community or ascribe to a particular philosophy or faith or whatever, doesn't mean that they naturally and automatically have all the traits that that group proclaims as being important or good.

Josh: 12:16 Yes. You are not just a good engineer because you like Linux.

Leon: 12:20 Um, okay, fine. All right. [Laughter] Took me a minute to swallow that one, but all right, so stipulated. I will take that one. Um, yeah, and I think that also says a lot about the nature of how we are all at our heart learners from, from the day we're born. We are learning. So you know, I am learning how to be, how to become a better engineer, Linux sysadmin, Jew, whatever it is, you don't automatically get like all the prizes. Um, so I can, I, I can see that, but I can also see how sometimes we want to, we want to give those traits because in some respects we need it. I need you to be that good. I need you to be that trustworthy right now and the, because you come from this group where you co you have this as part of your background that that's what I'm, I'm projecting on you, but now I need this and when you don't have it, I'm let down. And that's where the frustration can come. I also like the idea that, uh, you know, people, like you said, people are just people or as I put it a little bit more crassly Judaism has not in fact found the cure for the common asshole. Yeah.

Josh: 13:34 Oh, well that's it, no, I'm going to, I'm not going to be Jewish anymore.

Leon: 13:39 Okay. I just said we haven't found the cure we were looking for the cure. Yeah. No religion, no ethical point of view. No, uh, spin class. No CrossFit cult has found the, has found it.

Doug: 13:56 No, I mean most people are just, I mean at most people are selfish, but I mean a lot of what we do, a lot of what religions about a lot of becoming an adult is burying some of that selfishness or at least disguising. And so that people can't tell that we're as selfish as we are. But I mean, a lot of this stuff just comes from trying to give myself a leg up over somebody else. I mean the, the whole, uh, "woke" thing now with everybody's saying, you know, you've got white privilege and therefore you should decry it and all that kind of stuff. And I'm going, nobody gives up their privilege. Right? If you were in a country that was predominantly African and Whites were, uh, the ones that were being beaten on you, would, nobody in that country would give up their black privilege. It's just not gonna happen. We can try and we can try and improve on that. We can be conscious of it. We can become better human beings, um, and, and try and make things more open for the whole world. But the reality is our bent is to go ahead and take care of ourselves, our kids, our family, our tribe first. And a lot of the stuff that comes to that is because of that.

Leon: 15:13 Well, well that's, that's certainly part of the biological imperative. I also think that when we talk about privilege specifically, it's not so much give up your privilege as A) acknowledge it. Don't just say that, Hey, it all is mine and you can be yours too. Like, no, sometimes there are really strong societal factors that block it, but also, um, I won't say, nobody's saying give up the white privilege. What I am saying is that, um, to acknowledge and then use the privilege to create a more just and a more equal environment moving forward, which sounds like giving up privilege, but it is the same thing as saying, well if I, if I have this one candle and I light more candles, I'm not actually giving up light. Like, it doesn't diminish it. And that's the same thing. You know, when you use your privilege to open up the space for other people, you aren't in fact losing anything.

Doug: 16:10 Right. But I think I, you know, it's not, I don't think it is most people's bent to do that. We have to work at that. That's why that's why we're doing this show. I mean the reality is it's stuff that we think about. It's because we are working on it as you said, cause we're learners. Um, not everybody is. Some people are just perfectly happy to just take everything that they can possibly get and just kind of crank on the lawn. There's a lot of people like that.

Josh: 16:37 I think there's a lot of, a lot of people in the world too who are generally good people and for me this is, this is the hardest one where you find people that do mostly good things and then they justify doing that one bad thing. And I don't mean I do mostly good things and then one day I suddenly decide that I'm going to, I'm going a pocket a candy bar while I'm in the store. I mean, I do mostly good things and then one day I do a really despicable, awful thing. When that happens, whether by choice or circumstance, which leads you to a choice. That's a really a really challenging thing to be the person who decides to do that bad thing. And when we look from the outside and say, Oh that, I can't believe that Josh did that horrible thing. Inside I'm saying, yeah, but it was, it was just a little thing. Context. Justin Trudeau is the prime minister in Canada. We are currently in the midst of an election and it has come to light that Justin Trudeau, uh, dressed in black face a number of times, not once, not twice, not three times, but he doesn't remember how many times it occurred. And to him, he's saying, well, that was me then. This is me now. And on the outside we're saying, Oh my goodness. Now, um, I'm not going to tell you where I weigh in on that debate because I don't think it matters. It's, at least in Justin's mind it sounds like he saying, but I mostly do good things, but I did one bad thing.

Leon: 18:29 So there's an interesting concept, uh, from the Jewish standpoint about free will and without going too deeply into it. And for those people who want to look it up and put in the show notes, rabbi Akiva Tatz has some interesting thoughts on this, but the, uh, the free will is you don't express your free will when you put on your socks in the morning or where you pick your cereal. That's not freewill. That's habit. Even if you pick Lucky Charms instead of frosted flakes or whatever, that's still not freewill. Freewill exists in a very particular point in our lives where we make a decision that challenges us in some way. So when you woke up in the morning you had to think really hard and make a really extended effort not to go out on the street and knock over an old lady and steal her purse. Right.

Josh: 19:16 I did!

Leon: 19:18 Okay. That's probably not okay. That's probably not where we're at, but there are people who wake up and that is a challenging question. Not because they're bad people, but you know because there's a circumstance because there's a context because of whatever and the decision not to go rob somebody is a very challenging one. That is the point at which their free will is operating. Saying that their free will allows them to go to their place of worship and pray about, that is light years ahead in the same that for me going to a Yeshiva like my boys do and learning all day is beyond my skills and capabilities. And to put that standard on me is, is unfair where I am at personally with my line of freewill, that's the battleground. That is that line and it moves back and forth. So what you're talking about, Josh is somebody for whom that battleground was in a particular place at a particular time and that battleground has shifted. And so that saying that's not who I am right now is in fact true, but at the same time it is who you were and there's a level of responsibility that we bear for that. Now what that is is also an interesting conversation both religiously and also, you know, in tech and things like that. You know, I am somebody who, uh, did not and purposely did not declare variables before using them.

Doug: 20:47 I'm not even going to go there. Yes, I know. I've known that. I've known this about Leon for decades.

Leon: 20:53 Yes, yes. It was something I proudly, I did proudly. And, uh, that is no longer the point at which I struggle. So there's, but there, yeah, Josh has a look on his face for those people listening. Josh has look, like he doesn't even know who I am anymore. He's not even sure we can be friends.

Josh: 21:12 In fact, I was thinking that very thing. I don't know if we can be friends anymore, Leon.

Leon: 21:16 But again, my point is, is that, um, but, but just to, to pull it back around again, you know, why do people do these bad things? So in some cases, this is the point at which their struggle is at, this happens to be their struggle point and, and they're going to go back and forth and they're going to work really hard at it and, and hopefully they make progress in the correct and the good right direction about it. That's one thing. Why else? Again, I'm going to get us back on track. Why else do people, uh, you know, fall into these traps?

Doug: 21:47 Peer pressure. I mean, everybody else around you is doing it. Um, in fact, that that can even happen in religious communities. The whole, um, you can have situations where, um, in Christianity we're supposed to reach out to people regardless of their sin, because the whole point is to save people from their sin. And yet there are certain people who if they show up in the church, um, you know, they're going to be, they will be shunned by the people who are there, even though this is a person who you can, should actually be meeting where they are. Um, you know, there, I mean there's, there's, there are specific churches that reach out to people who were on drugs or to the homeless or to all these that other churches would have nothing to do with. And that should, and is that wrong? Well, it's not wrong if you look at everybody else in your church, and that's what people are doing, they're going, well, you know, yeah, we'll, we'll go down and help the homeless as long as we drive to where they are and they don't come to our church.

Leon: 22:52 Right, right.

Josh: 22:53 So back in 2013, uh, uh, uh, a Mormon Bishop, uh, named David Musselman, um, he dressed up as a, as a homeless man and walked into his congregation and he was, aghast at the response that he got from his congregants. Um, I mean for some people he, you know, he got, he got great responses from, you know, uh, offers, uh, food, um, offers of assistance. But he also had, he also had people who wanted him to leave because he didn't fit, um, he didn't fit that, that model. He wasn't wearing a suit and he wasn't clean. Yeah. The hub, that pressure to conform is real.

Leon: 23:50 So I've seen that. I've seen that in communities where, uh, it's not even the, the individual. The thing is we don't want to become the synagogue where those people come. Where, you know, we don't want to be known as the synagogue for, for those kinds of people. And "those kinds of people" is an interesting mix. But you know, so we will do things which subtly let those people know this isn't their place, you know, and it can be everything from not calling page numbers, like just not calling page numbers. If you don't know where you are, probably not your place, you know, those kinds of things.

Josh: 24:30 I would suggest that our listeners go out and I would love to see some vigorous debate on the Stanford Prison Experiment and the Milgram Experiment at Yale University. Um, the latter of which involved, uh, someone in authority telling, uh, telling a volunteer to shock an individual in another room. Uh, I mean there's, there's, there will be volumes written on these two particular experiments, but I think they tie in nicely to that pressure to conform.

Leon: 25:02 Okay, great. Um, okay, so moving along, uh, now that we have a sense or we've explored a little bit why people do do that, what does religion specifically say about how we should address these kinds of things? Again, we see it happening, it bothers us, and now we have an urge to go do something about it, to address that person or to to act in some way. What does our religious, uh, framework tell us about what we ought to be doing?

Josh: 25:35 I mean, Jesus went into the temple with a cat o' nine tails and turned over the tables of the money changers and kicked them all out. Isn't that how we respond? This is why I work remote. I'm just going to point that out. [Laughter]

Doug: 25:48 So if you're the Messiah, I think you can get away with stuff like that. How's that?

Josh: 25:52 Okay.

Leon: 25:55 I got, I got nothing.

Doug: 25:57 It's different rules. But uh, in Christianity, um, in Matthew 18, basically it says, if your brother sins against you, you should go to him. And if you can win him back, you know, you go to him privately and if you can win him back, then you've won your brother. If he refuses to hear you, then you go back with two or three others so that all of the facts can be, you know, in public. And if he still refuses, then you take him before the church and if he still refuses to go ahead and repent, then you basically, you treat him like a tax collector and a, Oh, I forgot what the other word is. But in any case, but you don't kick him out of the church, but he's no longer one of your brothers. You don't treat him that way.

Josh: 26:42 So Christianity sounds like the Mob.

Doug: 26:44 Well it is to a certain extent except that you know, it is your brother has sinned against you. So this is, yeah.

Leon: 26:52 Right. Okay. So, and that was the point I was going to bring up is that this is where you're saying somebody has wronged you in some way and so you of course have, I'm going to say the right, but you, you have the, the option of saying, Hey, this really bothers me and I need you to do something about it. You know, and the person you know has to, has to face up to it. That's interesting. What's interesting about this is that, uh, in the Jewish tradition, the focus that you just described is actually the opposite, the opposite way about what repentance is. That if you have something you need to repent for, there's this process. And the first thing is first of all, acknowledge to yourself that you did something wrong. And the second thing is to apologize to tell the person that you have wronged that you know you've done this. The third thing is to compensate. And so if possible, you know, to repair the thing that was broken or to pay for a replacement, whatever it is, can compensate. But then there's a fourth step and repentance is not complete until the fourth step occurs. And that's when given the opportunity to make the same mistake, the same sin again, you don't. And that until that occurs, you have not really fully repented. And there's a whole sense of, you know, waiting for this moment to come where it's like, Oh, this is just like the last time, except now I'm going to be doing, I'm going to do it differently. And that's what proves it. So to go back, Josh, to your point about the person who was dressing up in blackface, if given the opportunity to dress up that way, again, if they chose not to, that might be again, assuming all the other stuff had been done, you know, and it was sincere and all that stuff. But it's interesting that those are two sides of the same coin, right? One is when you have been wronged, what do you ask the other person to do? And hopefully they will take the lead and go ahead and on the other side, if you've done wrong, now you've got this, this problem, this feeling and I need to do something with it. I needed to act. So how do I do that? So having said that, the, the process for rebuke, the process for giving somebody a, you know, a correction in Judaism is again, like most things pretty, uh, pretty well organized. And it says first of all that if you see someone, if you see a friend walking a bad path, so it's not about someone doing something to you, you see them walking a bad path, um, then it is a commandment. It's a mitzvah. But that means commandment to return them to the good. If you don't, you are liable for the punishment of the sins your friend committed. Basically by failing to do something, by failing to act, you are ha you have ownership of the bad stuff they do because you could have stopped him. However, there's a whole series of buts that go along this. You have to get this rebuke privately and gently, okay, not publicly, not out. You know, and you have to do it for the person's good. That means that you have to make sure that in your heart there is no ounce of glee. There's no ounce of excitement that Oh, I finally give to give him what for and whatever that you have to be able to do it for their good and their good only. That you have to do it with love and you have to know for a fact that the person you're doing this to, you're giving this rebuke is going to hear it in the spirit that you mean it. And if any of those conditions is not true, then you are commanded not to say a word. Ever. Because you are going to do more harm than good. And I find that deeply interesting that you know, it starts off by saying, Hey, if you see him doing something wrong, it is your commandment is your obligation to fix it or else it's on you. Like they go and do something bad now your libel, but you've got to have this whole relationship. And if you don't have this whole relationship back off, be quiet. And, and the reason why I like that is because the implication it has in it in our technical lives, right? And when we started putting together this, this episode, I was thinking about code review, I was thinking about when I'm picking a Doug's code and like, Hey, Hey, there's this, you know how you could do that better? Hey that active directory design. Yeah, no, we could, you know what gives you any right to butt your nose into somebody else's design or on the other hand you see bad code. If you see something, say something like, which is it?

Doug: 31:27 Well it comes down to a lot of what you were talking about. Do you have, um, do you have a stake in the game? Okay. If you're on the team that's making this code and it's all our code and code reviews are part of what we do, which they should be because we're a team, please. Okay. Then the reality is it is my job. It is my commandment to go ahead and do a code review to help you to improve your code, to make our code better. However, if I'm just wandering by some other team and I look over and I see their code, I, you know, I'm just a jerk. If I jumped in,

Josh: 32:14 This feels to me like the backfire effect. So I'm, I'm just going to read the quote because I think the quote to me does a better job at explaining it than, than I ever could. "The backfire effect as claim to be that when in the face of contradictory evidence established beliefs do not change but actually get stronger." And so I thought, wa what? What does that mean? Like when someone lays evidence in front of you and says, Josh, the earth is not flat and I aren't, am I going to be like, Oh, Oh yeah, you're right. Or am I just going to dig in? And all joking aside, this is fundamentally the challenge I had with Mormonism. Now remember I was a practicing Mormon for 41 years, very devout, very, I'll even use the term Orthodox in my views. And when people would present contradictory information to me, I would go through a period of cognitive dissonance and then would realign the things that I thought I knew or was presented with now, uh, with the things that I did know, and I would just dig in stronger that that backfire effect is very real. And I remember a very specific case where I was in Las Vegas, had a couple stop myself and my companion when we were missionaries and invite us over. They said, Hey, we want to share some information with you. You know, we had a great discussion and we said, do you have any questions? And then they drop some questions on me that at 19 years old I had never heard in my entire life, but my, my response was to just dig in. So I mean, how, how do we prevent this backfire effect in our careers because it, if it happens, it is downright toxic. So how do we stop this backfire effect in our career?

Leon: 34:17 One point that was clarified in that definition, um, is that this the backfire effect doesn't occur when you say your right blinker is broken. You know, it doesn't occur when you say, you know, we're out of Frosted Flakes, Lucky Charms will be fine or whatever. It only occurs when you are, um, providing contradictory evidence to somebody's deepest held beliefs to the things that they feel are central or core to who they are. So, you know, to take some hot button issues, tabs versus spaces, you know, Doug is making...[laughter]

Doug: 34:57 Don't go there!

Leon: 35:06 You know how to pronounce the Graphics Interchange Format, abbreviation.

Josh: 35:10 Um, you obviously do not know how I feel about Lucky Charms cause you brought that up at the beginning and we come to the flippant thing and I just...

Leon: 35:22 Right, I've lost you. Right? Again, you're digging in like now it's like honey, buy 10 more boxes! Right? So it's, it is when we challenged somebody's deepest held beliefs, which means that we have an obligation when we are offering correction, whether it's in our religious, moral, ethical communities or in our it communities to understand other people's motivations that, you know, are you just saying, you know, I really think that a for loop is going to work better here. You know, or does this person for whatever reason, have a deeply held belief that you know, case, you know, that the switch construct is really fundamentally better in some way.

Josh: 35:58 I mean, data doesn't lie. I would say run them head to head. I mean that's just me, right? I, I, I have, I've built my entire career off of being wrong or more correctly. I have built my entire career off of not knowing. My, my second job in IT was given to me because I said, I don't know. Um, I mean for, for me, it, there are a few times that this Backfire Effect has, has gripped me and made me into a monster. But by and large, I I think as IT professionals, we need to be open to being taught more often than we need to then we need to teach.

Doug: 36:42 Although one should point out that a Canadian monster is like, you know, still a fluffy puppy.

Leon: 36:47 It's still the stay Puft marshmallow man that is literally the, you know, the embodiment of the Canadian Monster.

Josh: 36:54 Snuffaluffagus? That's the Canadian monster.

Leon: 36:54 Rampaging Snuffaluffagus. Right. So, uh, yeah, but again, I think that Josh, your point is well taken that, that we as it professionals need to remember to be flexible to remember that we are lifelong learners. At the same time, what we're talking about is when we ourselves are confronting somebody else who may not have come to terms with that. And when we see that we are challenging, again, not their belief in which, you know, code editor they should use, although that can be a religious war also. Um, I'm just picking them today when they're, you know, it's, I'll just be generic when, when it's not when we're picking something trivial or minor, but rather when we're picking something that is a foundational belief that that Backfire Effect comes to being that we need to possibly use all the structures that we just talked about, about who's the person to deliver that message and how that message can be delivered so that the person can hear it in the right way that it's meant and that they can grow and improve.

Doug: 38:02 As a senior dev. A lot of the work that I've had to do on teams is basically to coach junior devs. And the hardest part of that is that they're just so darn enthusiastic. Um, there they just be a little more jaded. Well, I mean the PR and the thing, I had one guy that just would not code out. It was crap code, but boy, he'd get it out fast. And so, you know, the trick then was to go ahead and help him, him to improve, to give him reasons why there are better ways to go ahead and do this. Speed is not the only thing that you worry about. And, but without breaking his little spirit, you know, and it's just, you know, it's the, it's exactly the, you know, there are steps that you go through where you're just saying, okay, how am I going to phrase this in a way that is not critical, but they can see that there's a room for improvement that they can then possibly grab hold of it. And so, you know, your goal then is as a coach to go ahead and help them become a better developer without having them hate you. In the meantime.

Destiny: 39:06 Thanks for making time for us this week to hear more of Technically Religious visit our website, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions, and connect to us on social media

Josh: 39:19 In the Bible, Matthew records by their fruits, you shall know them.

Doug: 39:23 So ironically, we're not supposed to be judges, but we're supposed to be fruit inspectors?!?

Josh: 39:29 Doug, are you looking at my melons?

Leon: 39:32 [Laughter] I cannot be having this conversation.

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