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Episode #53: Interview with Justin Stafford

16 Oct, 2020 | 35 mins 09 secs

On this episode of the NTP Podcast I chat with Justin Stafford, Co-Founder and CEO of Blueshift. We spoke about how Blueshift has grown, how they have adapted to new working conditions, methods Justin uses to organise his day and how he hasn’t stopped tinkering even as a CEO.

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  • Transcription:

    welcome to another episode of new tech people today we have justin stafford ceo and co-founder of blue shift welcome justin thanks i appreciate it welcome to the podcast and uh for those that don’t know who you are can you please give us a bit of an overview of you know your story today uh sure thanks yeah my name is justin i studied at university starting around 99 2000 uh computer science computer engineering and always sort of wanted to head into a tech career with some of the major sort of sydney firms i would say at the time i was working part-time as a software engineer for sanitarium health food company on the central coast and as a result of that one of the long-term team members there approached me and said hey do you want to do a startup in this space that we were working at sanitarium and my initial response was no but later on i thought about it and thought well it’s actually a pretty good opportunity if there’s a stage in life to do it would be now and there’s no serious financial commitments in my life and so i did and uh that led to me founding with my co-founder blue shift and uh we are where we are today about 15 20 years later so that’s a bit of a history i haven’t had a lengthy career going around lots of companies i sort of started uh in the early days and have been running blue shifts ever since yeah perfect now you mentioned a couple of points there which are really pertinent about central coast and newcastle a lot of software developers or tech tech people in general come out of university and think you have to go to sydney or previously you had to go to sydney melbourne brisbane yeah absolutely for opportunities i think that that’s starting to change yeah absolutely your thoughts on that you’re obviously lucky enough to get an opportunity locally to start with yeah i guess it’s it’s a good point i guess i i at the time when i was young i thought well the opportunities are in sydney and that was just the mental model that i had certainly these days i mean that was pre-iphone free social media days and so there was a lot less networking going on and so it was harder to sort of get a feel for the kind of scene if you would these days it is a lot easier and certainly from what i’ve noticed as a very good tech scene in newcastle and maybe had i had my time again it would have changed my view but yeah it’s a good point that you raised it’s certainly something that we need to undo this notion that there’s an opportunities in tech space in newcastle yeah and i think so the other the other part during cover at the moment with that the rise in remote work um it might be another challenge or an opportunity both for central coast newcastle from the perspective of uh bigger companies um maybe in the bigger cities are now often full-time remote work for people where you can stay living on the coast of newcastle and be a full-time remote yeah you’re absolutely right and for us we see that as a double-edged sword i mean we we have a fairly strong engineering team based on the central coast and we have gone to a remote work situation we had quite a large office and that’s effectively now closed and we’ve gone to remote work and we see it as a double-edged sword because we remain committed to recruiting not just in australia but in the local area even though we’re going to remote first and in fact we’ve gone down the track of getting official australian-made branding and so we now wear that badge on our product and on our branding and so we still have a commitment not just to the local uh not just to australia but to local recruitment specifically central coast and newcastle and we’ve moved some of the offshoring we’re doing in relation to outsourcing graphic design and legals even to the local area as well but that is a double-edged sword because when you move to remote work then it does open up the opportunities for your staff to go elsewhere as well so it increases the competitive pull so it is a double edged sword as you say i completely agree so with your my first uh work is there any any thoughts on ever going back to an office is that remote remote for for as long as you can see at the moment what’s your longer term play yeah sure so we’ve sort of gone from our journey as we had an open plan office and you know as that started to grow and we put more people into the open plan office we found that productivity did decline a little bit as a result of the noise because you know you do have both modes of work certainly you do have collaborative work that that’s good for but you also have deep work which suits sort of deep technical problem solving which works well in a quiet space so we actually expanded our office to be about four times that size with individual offices for the engineers and found that that worked quite well and with covid that also helped us to realize that there wasn’t that much of a difference between having an office where you know engineers had their own offices to working from home and as a result we’ve done that now having said that we do bring all the engineers together on a monthly basis to have meetings and have team activities because that face-to-face is still important and so we plan to still maintain that and certainly bring the whole team together so i mean on our on the consulting side uh we have consultants that are auckland brisbane melbourne sydney and we plan to bring them together once every six months obviously covert pending so we do see value in both the remote work deep work style as well as bringing them together as well i think it’s a really nice balance um some of the companies i’m working with are doing similar things um because there’s definitely that human element that gets missing yeah it’s full-time remote so when you’re bringing people back for a collaborative work is that going to be in your old offices or will that be an off-site type scenario yeah look uh it’s probably not going to mean our old office and that’s just purely a return on investment scenario you can i mean for example uh at one of the recent functions we had we we hired one of the exclusive beachside resorts kim’s retreat at toowoon bay and that’s only that only costs us 300 for a whole day for the whole team so it’s significantly more economical and and better yeah for our staff to do that than to i suppose maintain a facility at a much higher cost yeah for sure i think um there are some companies i’m working with that are transitioning i guess they’re in longer term leases and they’re transitioning uh their internal offices into that more collaborative work styles and those bigger meeting room type scenarios and people can come in for the meetings and then they shoot back out for their remote work yeah and that’s that’s that’s sort of along the lines of where yeah maybe too yeah it’s a nice approach and i i think it definitely takes like that human element that people are looking for as well yeah absolutely if i wanted back to what you mentioned at the start yeah it seems like you did take a risk there are people that are starting tech companies there there tends to be two ways people are building something on the side while working in a full-time job and then there’s others to jump jump fresh into it you obviously you went you went whole hog and jumped into this as a you know 100 time time and effort into that can you provide some insights into why you went fully in as opposed to maybe building on the side while working yeah yeah sure and i think that uh i was i’m going to say blessed to be in that position because at the time i it wasn’t even on my radar to do it as i mentioned but uh at the suggestion of a co-worker to do it i thought about it and thought yes actually that’s a good idea and i was very as i say blessed because at the time i was living at home i was young i didn’t really have any costs and i was also able to work continue to work part-time once two days a week at sanitarium to earn a small amount of money and then devote the rest of the time to the startup so it was a very opportunistic thing but i do agree like starting a startup when you when you have bills to pay is not the easiest thing to do and it does involve a level of risk and i and i appreciate that for sure yeah it sounds like hey um yeah a little bit lucky um from you know the place for our time there’s another element you make your own luck you’re in that position that’s the conversation the right person that’s right so you’re working at cemetery and you went out you’ve got this idea you jumped into it can you explain the early days what did that look like yeah sure so maybe you just back back a little bit and explain a little bit a little bit about blue shift because that’ll give you a little bit of context so in terms of what we do we provide software solution to companies that are suppliers to woolies and coals predominantly so examples of that would be sanitarium and peter’s ice cream and bulla swiss vitamins uh baby love nappies you know that kind of client so we actually have a very small number of very large clients so over the last i suppose 15 years we’ve got a total of about 20 clients and to bring on two to three new clients per year is a good year but these are very very big contracts and what we do for them is when you go into woolies or a calls and you see something on sale it’s the supplier that’s actually funding the discount predominantly it’s not or calls doing you any favors and with that you see a massive increase in the sales and with that comes manufacturing concerns you need to know to produce more in advance and there’s return on investment concerns and best bang for your buck and then there’s managing the transactional side so there’s a bunch of optimization and transactions that goes along with that and these companies typically spend anywhere between 10 and 30 percent of their total revenue on this kind of discounting and when you’re managing that on spreadsheets it gets a bit unwieldy as you can imagine and so that’s where our solution comes in and for a company to implement our solution it relies on uh strong reference sites and so to look back to answer your question our initial focus was on signing a deal about the ip and a reference site with sanitarium who we had a trust relationship with and we were able to do that and they acted as a reference for us which then allowed us to go and sell into the market to these other bigger companies who could then visit sanitarium and and have that reference site for us fantastic yeah so and there’s a couple of points i want to pull apart ever let’s go back to the original question so you jumped in you’ve got this reference site there’s you and a co-founder yep and he started building the software that’s right yeah so we i spent most the time uh with myself and my co-founder and a couple others building out the software and implementing it within sanitarium and getting it working really well there and that took a good few years to be honest and then once that was done we then started to go now let’s roll it to the open market so the initial days was mostly about uh building that proof of concept and that part site within sanitarium yeah it’s fantastic and sounds like once again a great opportunity because a lot of struggles for startups is finding that product market fit or building an mvp that’s right um and being able to have somebody to test it where it sounds like you had that ready-made you know the client there that you’re building it with and potential first customer already exactly that’s right that’s fantastic if we go to you started there um how does how did the team grow from there to where you are now yeah i’d say uh it took uh probably our first biggest break we had a few wins along the way where we were expanding our tech team expanding in the sales area in terms of growth and we kind of had our next i would say big win which was securing fonterra which is a big dairy company much bigger than sanitarium even in 2009 and sort of after that we really ramped up in terms of recruitment around especially the tech side and engineering to be able to implement and build out features faster and quicker because obviously when you start to grow your company based beyond a single customer you start to get additional things that are required and so on and so we’ve definitely had a culture of uh more so on on the engineering side uh and where we’re at today our engineering team is is the bigger part of our our team and and that’s really where our dna has come from yeah nicer engineering first and you’re obviously a software company that’s right to the bone that’s right both co founders being technical that’s right i talked a little bit pre-podcast about this um the rise through a tech career you obviously start out extremely technical now you know you’re now the ceo of a growing company how does your career transition through that period are you still hands on technical you’re writing code are you managing people how’s that journey been for you yeah look it’s it’s actually really interesting and that’s one of the benefits of being a startup it forces you to learn a much broader in a much broader spectrum so for me it’s been amazing because i’ve had to learn not just the tech side but how to manage people how to do recruitment how to manage finances how to do sales how to do a pitch how to fundraise all of those things uh and so i’m sort of involved in all those different areas these days i do a little bit of coding but mainly on the experimental side the engineers do by far the lion’s share of the coding these days but i am still fairly heavily involved on the design side and the architectural oversight but certainly it’s more about managing people in those other aspects these days if you had to provide some advice to other people that are sort of starting to face that journey and they’re in a smaller team at the moment and they could be sitting within a bigger corporate but managing a small team and starting to grow that um and having to look at other parts and how you know their technology affects other parts of the business or the customers can you provide any of key learnings that you found along the way in in making that growth it’s not even a transition it’s a growth right so just to clarify the question you mean in relation to someone who’s in a tech role and looking to transition into more of a management role yeah uh yeah i guess the question is uh you know depends on the personal goals if you will because i know that there are a lot of tech people who like to sort of stay in the tech role and head more down an architectural route and i know there are so for example we’ve got one of our team members who started in a tech role and he’s moved to be a consultant because he loves working closely with the clients so i think it helps to clarify exactly what the goal is and then be able to go in that direction with relevant research and talking to industry players and networking and so on like you’d ordinarily expect but i think the first thing is to understand exactly where you want to go and then take the appropriate steps rather than sort of necessarily meandering yeah nice yeah i completely agree i think some of the people that are most successful in their careers are doing things that they love right and yeah absolutely if some people are more technically inclined and want to stay purely technical you can still be very senior old and paid well yeah absolutely non-people management and just extremely technical and good at what you do the people management side for a lot of people in technology going going into that people management side is a challenge is there any key learnings you found from people management is there any resources that you you’ve tapped into books you’ve read or anything you once again could provide others for advice and people management in particular yeah look it’s a very good question and my favorite book as far as that’s concerned is actually a very old one it’s called how to win friends and influence people i’m not sure if you’re familiar with that on dale carnegie like and uh it’s it’s the interesting key points that um dale raises there is it’s not just about being technically right it’s about you know the ability to influence people and work with people is actually more important than being right or wrong at the end of the day and that’s been a key learning for me and i think that if you can inspire people to work together and swim in the same direction that’s that’s actually a greater skill when it comes to having a team than than technical capability for sure i completely agree and i think it’s a very real challenge right especially once again if we tap back into that remote side as well um will be an ongoing challenge and maybe a bigger challenge for a lot of organizations is managing remotely and getting people on the same page that aren’t in the office day in day out right yeah absolutely either you just mentioned obviously the challenges on managing people as you grow a team are getting people in the door recruiting people from the start is it’s obviously the business we’re operating and it’s a challenging time especially in technology can you provide a little bit of insights into into your journey recruiting people in particular and then growing them yeah absolutely good question so as far as a business is concerned we place a huge emphasis on our team in fact our sales pitch to new clients always begins with the statement that we believe our team is more valuable than our solution so we place a very strong emphasis on the value of our team and we have a lot of investment in them in terms of recruitment in specifically in the technical space we we believe that an interview always fundamentally boils down to three key questions number one are you capable do you have the skills number two do you want to do the role do you have a passion for it and number three effectively can i tolerate working with you do you have a cultural fit and pretty much any question comes down to one of those three things and on the capability question we have screening exams that we do which are designed to tease out technical capability and we always look at history around that as well number two do you want to do it and i guess that that comes out in the interview but we also look for other signs like do you have side projects do you have a passion for the technical space what has your history revealed about whether you you know your direction you want to go are you attending user groups and you what do you listen to do you listen to podcasts in the tech space and this is a very good indication that you have a passion for the tech space and for learning and can i tolerate working with you all that’s that’s a cultural fit like how do you what’s your experience in working with the team and the different team methodologies you know from things like are you working in scrum and kanban have you interacted with a team and worked together collaboratively on problem solving what’s your view on pair programming or not these kind of things give an indication of you know how you work together as a team so that would be what i would say as far as the three things that we look for and as far as recruitment and we’ve had a lot of success that way yeah perfect um i’d break that apart a tiny bit the first part there you mentioned the technical test do you actually put people through a technical test or like an online technical test is it is it coding in front of you what’s what’s that technical test look like for you yeah for us it’s a it’s an online technical test when i say it’s online we just email a test and they do it in their own time which involves some coding and then they send it back so it’s it’s time bound in the sense that we give them the test and then they have a certain time period to then respond but they’re free to use google on anything they like and then we uh what we do is in the interview we step through their answers and and do a code review with them to see how they solve the problem yeah perfect i love that i love that from the element of uh you then get some feedback on that you can come in and discuss the thought process behind it because a lot of the times i think you can miss the right person um potentially who got the wrong answer but they thought about it the right way they might have made a little mistake there but if you got the right thought process there and you can tease that out in your your face to face absolutely you can get the right person in um the second part you mentioned the the desire and the want to be there yeah um personally i think that’s near enough the the most important part for recruitment absolutely technical skills can be taught and it can be learned um if we’re talking software development they might not have experience with a particular programming language at that point in time but if they’ve shown a desire to be there and a desire to learn they’re going to have to pick it up a new language at some point right so i i think that that desire to be there that want um is the biggest part for for getting successful hires in that or in any space but software development in particular yeah and i think that that’s evidence of your business success is the fact that you’re even running your own podcast and creating the content so you know it’s it’s a symbiotic relationship yeah and the other part you mentioned which is i think’s extremely true to my heart is that side projects for us we’ve actually we’ve placed a lot of graduates that have started on some very sizable wages um because they’ve or salaries because they’ve shown they’ve come out with a uni degree but they’ve built something on the side and they come in and they’re coming in on mid-level salaries nearly and they’re graduates fresh out but they’ve been able to show their capability through a side project can you speak to any experiences or advice you could give to people with with building something on the side or showing their desires are tinkering i think those are the sort of things that help people stand out personally but it’s great to hear it from being a technical founder yourself from your side yeah look i think the advantage you you get in running a side project is that it forces you to demonstrate end to end understanding so it is easy relatively easy to get into a role where you’re handed a small technical problem and told to solve that in a especially if you told how to solve it that’s you know that’s one thing but to take a side project where you need to understand the outcome and then map that back through requirements and understanding and even design and technical solution and architecture to produce some output demonstrates a much broader breadth of understanding and capability than pure technical and i think that’s one of the benefits that you get when you when you do a side project is you get that breadth of understanding end to end and and it also obviously demonstrates a desire to do that problem solving and so on as far as selecting the side projects i’m kind of a bit indifferent to that whatever you’re passionate about right you find a problem that you’re passionate about and solve it well you know oh i agree once again i’m passionate it’s easy to jump into something and see it through right if you’re passionate about it as opposed to to build something in a in a category you have no understanding or desire to ever look for yeah we’ve gone through that that initial process in building you know recruiting a team um then on boarding and building that culture can you speak to once again thoughts around building a culture where you’ve had some success from that perspective building a culture and a technical team is is a challenge um we get all different types of people um so i’m really interested to sort of hear your thoughts on what you guys have focused on building your culture at blue shift yeah look it’s a good question and to be honest i don’t have a silver bullet for that other than to say we have an emphasis on continually communicating that we value our team and that we demonstrate that by a number of things like we previous to covert we had a number of perks so for example we gave them two hours of exercise per week kind of a thing in time plus we provided lunches for them every day you know the whole google kind of scenario in a post covered remote work world we we pay for you know 750 for them to set up the home environment we give them learning allowances exercise allowances um and continually invest in that space and not that perks are the be all on the end all it’s just a bit of a sign that we do appreciate do we do appreciate them we also place an emphasis on like you said coming together as a team not just for technical problem solving but for i suppose um team building and not just from the perspective of general team building we also come together to we have a strong emphasis on retrospectives where everyone has a voice and says this is what’s working well this is what’s not working well and this is how we can improve not just at a technical level but at a process and a cultural level as well so they all have a voice and and understand where the business is going and how to contribute to that um so as i say no silver bullet but some of those are some small examples of how we helped to do it yeah that last part you mentioned um everyone having a voice i think it’s a challenge that some organizations face a very top-down approach yeah how do you encourage people that come in might be nervous or might be early in their career to to have that voice or have the confidence to have that conversation internally yeah look we do uh we do like i say have a structured process around retrospectives and that that is very structured where everyone participates and i mean if you’re not familiar with retrospectives that’s where everyone places their ideas on the board everyone gets to vote for the ideas that they think are the most pertinent talk about and then they get talked about so it is a structured way that is very clear that everyone gets to contribute and everyone gets to um have that voice so that is one way and the other way is we do have all of the normal things like team one-on-ones and team group meetings that we’re continually communicating over and over that that that that voice is there for them to have yeah i i think that’s some really uh tactical advice that people could actually take away so i appreciate that yeah and i’d certainly encourage listeners if they haven’t uh come across the retros retrospective process for them to look into it because it’s very very valuable yeah nice you mentioned again previously to this uh you as an organization personally you guys are looking at okrs can you provide some advice or some insights into why you’ve decided to go down that route and what that is for people that don’t understand yeah sure so uh okr stands for objectives and key results and it’s a management framework that allows you to have a lot more focus and alignment in the in the businesses and it gives better clarity for the whole team to understand how what they’re working on right now contribute to the overall organizational goals and again have a voice in those organizational goals a very good there’s some very good books out there you can read on okrs one of them is called measure what matters and it’s a story about how google and intel implemented these things to get their radical growth and i’d suggest that one for those interested in it and yeah it’s a the one of the benefits of okrs is that yes you have a company level objective but then each team gets to decide how are they going to measure their their goals their performance up against the overall company objective and they get to set their own bar and then work aspirationally towards that so it’s it’s quite a good framework and we’re relatively early days into it but so far it seems like it’s going to work quite well that’s very nice it sounds like you you’ve built a business over a long period of time that’s having some real success now what’s next what’s on the horizon for blue shift uh yeah look good question so we’ve as as we mentioned and coming from my dna we’ve always been engineering focus so we’ve been pro i would say product focused and one of my learnings over the last you know 12 months or longer is that we need to transition to be more customer focused not that we haven’t been focused on the customer we just need to be more focused on that side than on the product and over the next sort of two to three years we’re going to transition to being instead of a product focused company to be more customer focused company in terms of client acquisitions and investing more on that side and that’s that’s really where the focus is going to be and that’s really what okr’s is going to align the business around as well uh sounds like there’s some alignment there and you’re not just hoping to jump from a product focused or customer that’s right you’re putting the right steps in place i really like that how big is the organization now how many employees we like yeah so there’s 25 staff all up and and that consists of engineers data engineers ops consultants back of office sales yep and so you’re yeah you know ceo of a 25-person organization um you mentioned you’re a little bit tactical you double in um yeah the technical side of a bit you also have breadth like a exposure across the organization how do you manage your day your week yeah look i’m a huge uh proponent of of time management strategies like uh i’m a big fan of the gtd methodology if you’re familiar with that and also time blocking and using a whole bunch of tooling around that so i manage my time fairly religiously as as my ceos no doubt would and that helps me to to cover off the most important things in each of those areas you mentioned some tools there is are we talking time blocking as basic as you know blocking out chunks in your calendar is there anything more technical than that probably a couple of the key tools i use in in work life asana would be the the number one tool that that i use and not just myself it’s across the whole organization and that that’s very very good to keep everyone on track and and manage the the workload at a high level and at a detail level uh and in personal world i use it todoist which is the same sort of thing but in the personal realm to do it and then time blocking is normally just calendaring yeah so that would be productivity tools that you would you know your your toolkit that you would uh recommend to others yeah absolutely yeah i think the other part is with a lot of those the the tools the capability within the tools is never the issue it’s the actual usability of people actually using them sticking to them right ideas are cheap execution is everything yeah is there anything anything in particular that allowed you to have success in you know getting to-do lists and up and running and sticking to that is it just you’re forced to do it because you’re so busy or is it something you did to to stay on top of that uh i i probably took a a big a big step forward in time management productivity not really as a result of the business to be honest but when i had kids because when you have kids you really have to manage your time well and that sort of forced me to look into the different methods and and and drill down on that because you know every hour of the day is important so uh that’s that’s really what prompted me to do it and in terms of the method gtd would be the number one thing i’d suggest as the thing that’s benefited me yeah nice yeah as gary we mentioned you’ve had you’ve had to take a lot of learning against and and the breadth of your role you you mentioned you went to university to start with was that how was your experience at university like yeah not too bad and i would definitely suggest uh university is a good track i guess in the tech space it’s a little bit unique if you want to be like a teacher or a nurse you have to go to university you have to get a piece of paper before you can really work in that space tech is a little bit different in that you can sort of start at uni and you don’t need a ticket in order to develop software yeah and uh i would suggest to the listeners that certainly going to university is a good thing but also getting work in the industry whilst there is actually beneficial to your learning experience as well i love that advice post university what are the is there external resources in their books is there a podcast is what are the tools that you’ve used or the the avenues you’ve used to continue your learnings oh look there’s there’s so many but yeah you are right podcasts are a big one software engineering daily is a really good one and there are a number of others that are that are technical and non-technical that you can continue to learn and it depends on on the individual and as as we were discussing previously like the whole uh postcode thing work from home meant that there’s now potentially less commuting and so there’s less time in podcasts but there’s other online resources and there’s all sorts of online courses from something as simple as youtube to more paid options uh there’s so much out there now that’s available anything that you’d recommend to people i think that for me i learn best by actually doing so i mean recently i’ve been doing some side projects in a new language and i’ve just got in there and done it and and it’s defined the outcome it’s like the side projector method so personally for me i don’t do too many online courses i just define the problem and get in and learn it and do it and experiment and that’s the way that i learn best yeah i love the fact that a guy that’s still at the ceo level is still taking on that own advice that you provide to you know your the juniors that you recruit is yeah get out that bill get your hands dirty that’s trial and test that’s and yeah that’s how i learned yeah you’ve obviously mentioned you’ve also gone down the coaching route with the akr so you’ve you’ve found that beneficial say coaching we’re looking at books podcast youtube just say pick something that you know that sings to you yeah i mean i think that you you kind of need to do all of that to me uh i use books and podcasts as the inspiration and also to keep up to date as to what’s out there uh and then when it comes time to actually doing it that’s when you get into okay now that now that i’m up to date now that i i’ve seen them my interest has been packed in an area then actually doing it is how i how i then take that to concretely learn and as you pointed out when it’s something serious like okay ours which is a big organizational change we will involve external consultants and we’ve done that across a number of initiatives in the organization but that can get expensive ah really i agree and as you mentioned before it doesn’t have to get expensive to start with right there’s a lot of free resources until you get to that stage so yeah i love that advice as well i um yeah there’s so many there’s limitations that you can just you can move to the side right there’s 73 uh access to free resources out there for people these days yeah it’s it’s much it’s much easier to learn something really fast these days than back in the early 2000s that’s for sure yeah and there’s access to the best and brightest in the world right um yes so on that note is there any any people you follow in particular that are your favorite authors or favorite coaches or uh not really uh i would say to that but certainly i do get a a lot of value as far as that’s concerned from like attending conferences like i’m a big fan of conferences like ndc for example where where you get a lot of really talented people demonstrating how they do things and that that to me is very valuable as well conference is um i think yeah it can be once again a double-edged shield it can be something that’s extremely valuable to people or or not depending on how you go and yeah absolutely um your thoughts on conferences is that you mentioned it’s something you’d encourage people to go to if you had somebody’s kind of their first conference uh what advice would you give them is it go they’re networking is that you know just take as many notes as you can thoughts yeah look good questions so for for me it’s kind of in the same sort of category to the book and the podcast it’s more of inspiration and seeing what’s out there like i wouldn’t have the expectation that you’ll come away and you’ll know a new language or a new technique but you’ll certainly be aware of it and be like oh wait a minute that could help help solve this problem i’ve got it over here and then you can take that and then do some more deeper research so to me it’s a bit more about getting inspiration and to your point networking with people who’ve got real experience than it is about coming away matrix style yeah having learnt it so i love that i love the couple points you’ve just mentioned there it’s just using books podcast conferences as inspiration and deep diving um deep diving into those topics that you know you really want to learn and take to the next level if you had to provide some advice to a younger version of yourself you’ve gone through obviously some pretty significant growth within your role and the company any advice that you would wheel back and you could provide to a young version of yourself or somebody else it might be you know in a similarish position yeah look uh i would say two things to that number one i would say especially in terms of a startup get a lot closer to the customer and have that customer focus uh and number two working with people and understanding and interacting with people is more important than the technical side that would be what i would tell my former self yeah nice i like that i like that a lot because i think technology you can get deep in the actual tech itself whereas uh you know there’s plenty of extremely well built apps sitting in the app store that uh were built for people that don’t actually want to exactly exactly anything else you’d like to share with our listeners before we wrap up today i know you look i’ve i’ve appreciated working with linda and who’s no doubt on your team and um you know i just wanted to say thanks for the great work you guys do in newcastle awesome man thank you i appreciate it it’s great to see once again some local success stories especially in the tech space um we love seeing it and love seeing you know companies that are born and bred locally uh grow so she’s the future success for blue shift appreciate it thank you thanks mate cheers

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