Sidebar interview with Ryan Burgess

Published February 20, 2022

Our sidebar interview specials interview our panelists individually to learn more about their backgrounds and careers. In this episode, we interview Ryan Burgess, the creator of the Front End Happy Hour podcast.

Panel

Episode transcript

Ryan Burgess
Welcome to new episode of the front end Happy Hour podcast. This year we will be doing maybe a unique special series of episodes covering each of our panelists backgrounds, by the way of interviews, we hope these episodes provide more insights into our backgrounds of the panelists and our careers since a lot of you've been listening to us for many years now, so we thought why not give some answers that we keep getting from our audience just shared in form of an episode. This will be the first of the series. I figured it was only fair since I've been started the podcast everything I thought it was only fair that I should go first. So GEM has been nice enough to be that person interviewing me. Gemma let you take it away.

Jem Young
Ryan Burgess. You are a senior manager at Netflix. Yep. And you've been running this podcast for how long? Six years?

Ryan Burgess
Yeah, six years, man. Wow, that's That's wild.

Jem Young
That is wild. Did you think you would end up on episode 100? Something when you started this six years ago?

Ryan Burgess
No clue. Actually, a lot of times people even ask, how did the podcast get started? What were your thoughts and goals and plans always laugh at that. And like you think I had all that thought went into it? It was literally like, it'd be really fun. Let's do a podcast. And I mean, there was some thought in the sense that I was going to do a podcast, it was like, let's do a podcast on talking about tech and keeping it really casual, literally as if we were just hanging out because we we do that like jam you and I've hung out for a long time, even before the podcast. And we would maybe go to a bar or be at dinner, who whatever there was a few of us sit around talking about the latest framework who knows what it was. And so that was kind of an easy premise was like, well, let's just hit record on some of these types of conversations. But there wasn't much of a goal there. Like I didn't know how long it would last. I didn't even know if people would listen. It was like, let's just try this. Like this kind of sounds like a lot of fun. And then people started listening and people started enjoying it. I continued to enjoy it, which I think others on the panel still enjoyed it. So we just kept going.

Jem Young
So I sort of accidental success,

Ryan Burgess
I guess. Yeah, that's good point. And now it's like, it feels just ingrained where it's it's like we keep thinking of new things to cover, or people ask us to cover topics. And it's like, Alright, cool. Let's talk about that. And it just keeps going. Well,

Jem Young
I think it's a testament to your work ethic and your determination that you've held all together all these years. And I think when you are good at what you do, it looks accidental. But really, it's a result of a lot of hard work that you've put in. So hopefully now the audience can learn a bit more about the host friend and happy hour and the creator of the show, and get a bit more about your background and kind of get to know you a little bit. Where did you grow up? Right?

Ryan Burgess
I'm originally from Canada, which I'm sure has come up many times on episodes or people hear my various words that come out as an accent, which that definitely I'm sure happens. But I grew up in Canada in a small city in Manitoba called Brandon, it's 40 or 50,000 people population, not a huge city, it's a couple hours west of Winnipeg, if anyone knows where Winnipeg is, and I always say like 21 in the United States. I'm like, it's it's kind of like the Midwest. It's there's, you know, very flat. A lot of farm communities around a man winters are so cold there is unbearable. I can't really know I grew up there. It's just way too cold in the winter. I don't miss dealing with that. That's for sure.

Jem Young
So being in the midwest of Canada with brutal winters, what sort of things were you into growing up,

Ryan Burgess
there wasn't tons of things to do, but always found something to keep me busy. I think back to like, as a young kid, I always remember really loving to draw. And I think that stuck with me throughout my life. I may not be always drawing but I always loved some form of artwork. And so as a kid, I was always drawing. I remember my mom even sitting down with me and doing like crafts and stuff like that. I remember like I don't really remember what the crafts were. But I always remember she was good about that kind of like figuring out some idea to do crafts and I was like that. And I remember a beat she signed me up for some like local like art classes. I think it was like a library or something like that. I don't remember if it was any good or anything but totally I remember doing that. I played sports as a kid like soccer hockey, but I just I don't know never never huge into it just did it as different seasonal sports. And then as a teenager, like the sports that I was into, were maybe ones that were like less structured like things like skateboarding, wakeboarding, snowboarding, I just love skateboarding just because the whole idea of just kind of go wherever you want and skate things. There wasn't like skate parks back then. Either I mean there was, but it was just like, it was so rare. So you just skated on the street, getting kicked out of places. You can't skateboard here, kids and stuff. So it was always a lot of fun. Then I hit 16. I still skateboard. But cars cars came into my life. And just yeah, that was awesome. I spent a lot of my hard earned money, putting into cars, buying car parts, whatever it was, I just, I love that I still love cars, and seeing my son be so into cars has been amazing. I get to play a lot of Hot Wheels and hang out with him and talk about cars, which is really cool. Another thing that I think too, that kept me busy and kind of gets back to the art is, is probably probably through skateboarding. But I got introduced to graffiti and just fell in love with the art of letters and and just doing large murals with spray paint. I thought that was just so cool.

Jem Young
So I'm getting from your kind of your childhood in some of your formative years, that creativity plays a big role in the work you do. And movement and freedom. So skateboarding, snowboarding, cars are all forms of creativity and freedom. Would you say that reflects into how you got into programming?

Ryan Burgess
Absolutely. It was the art and creativity especially I don't know about the movement. I love that that point that you call called out there. I'm like in thought think of that too much. But definitely when I was coming out of school, out of high school thinking like what the hell do I want to do with my life? Well, one, I took a year off because I was like, I don't I don't want to go to school yet. And I worked on cars. I did like, you know, oil changes at a dealership. I think I did like some odd jobs on like at the body shop and like, just like helping the mechanics out and stuff. Like I just had all these like odd jobs, which is cool. I enjoyed doing that gave me some time to think about what I wanted to do. And, you know, always came back to art. I was like, I should do something with art. Like that is something that you know, I love and I get a lot of enjoyment out of it, but didn't really know what and as I was trying to think through my various options of like, what could I do with art, there was one opportunity that I was thinking about was I was offered a tattoo apprenticeship, and one of my friends had owned a tattoo shop, and knew that I drew a lot and had seen a lot of my artwork and thought, Well, why not try and do an apprenticeship and learn how to tattoo. I think that would have been a really cool path. But I just knew that that wasn't exactly what I wanted to do. I love tattoos. But it wasn't something that I wanted to do as a career. Another route that I started exploring was graphic design. So graphic design, why not right, like graphic design, get paid for your art. Make sense. But as I started researching graphic design for school, I came across programs for like web development, web design, and I was like, wow, print is kind of, you know, at the time of slowly phasing out not not huge, like there was this website thing kind of coming up people were, you know, this, this is a thing. This is like the early 2000s Gen like it wasn't huge, but it was coming up. And I thought, well, that sounds really cool. I'd love to design websites, like that's a thing. So I went to a program, just out of community college for I think it was called web design, web development can't remember exactly what the name was. But as I was there, I got introduced to this thing called coding. And that's way cooler than designing it was like I was able to make things move and interactive and that to me just it took me away I was you know, writing things while HTML had done and maybe a little bit in school was maybe like geo cities or something like that. And so I had a little understanding that but it was things like PHP like being able to make things a little more scalable and like interactive on like the back end, but then flash blew me away you can make things move and animate and and a lot of that is just writing code and not that to me, I just fell in love with it. And so I just dove deep into that JavaScript came like a little bit in school but a lot more after as flash kind of piddled away it's like what else do we do and JavaScript definitely fit my world well for that

Jem Young
it's interesting how one passion or led into another passion. And can you speak more to that about like following continually following your passions and seeing where you end up?

Ryan Burgess
Yeah, I think it's sometimes goes back to like you asked me about the podcast like sometimes I'm like, did I think that one through like was I really thinking through a plan? And I don't think I was like it was kind of, you know, stumbling on these little pieces, but you're right, like something. I don't think I could do graffiti for a living. I mean, I have seen artists do who actually make good money doing graffiti, but that's hard. And so it's like, I love doing that. I love doing paintings that but it's also like how do you apply this to make money? Yeah, we you got to pay the bill some way. And yeah, I think those things kind of led me down this path. And you know, if it wasn't for identifying, oh, how do I make money off something? Graphic design and print? Okay, that's one But then recognizing the web and the future of things go in there. That was like, okay, oh, pull me I just want to do the web design part and then going, but just falling into this coding aspect. But it's, it's creating, right, like you're creating and building something. And, you know, even Jem, I know you're into cars, too. And there again, that's creative. And building. I think something always when I think about is like, I want to be creating something I want to be building. And so I don't know, I don't think it's super thoughtful. But I think it's just like, when you look back, you're like, yeah, that really kept me going,

Jem Young
you know, you started programming on the side, just, you know, messing around like a lot of us do. And then you you work at agency for time. Being a kind of consultant engineer, I don't know what the actual title is,

Ryan Burgess
oh, man, back in the day, you just, there's random titles all over the place, like fun and didn't exist. Yeah, I started out in after school. I started out in an agency in Winnipeg. I worked there for a few years and actually moved with my girlfriend now wife, she was she was going to do her master's in Ontario. So we moved and I actually stayed on remote with this company. But we at that agency, we did a bunch of like Flash work. And that's right around the time, like we were building Flash games, interactive applications in Flash, and that started to die off. And so that's when more of the feeling html5 was a thing around then that's starting to pick up so it was more JavaScript and figuring things out there. But yeah, most once we're in Ontario, I moved to some of the agencies within Toronto, I did a few different agencies there. And started just building web applications like for whether it be for banking sites, or telecommunications. And what else was there like Walmart, Home Depot, so ecommerce sites, that was the types of things I did there, it was during agencies that I was able to really get exposed to a variety of different JavaScript frameworks. It mainly because you were working on different projects, which with different clients, so it might be a few months on one client that you're working with. And they could be using one framework, and then you're on to the next or sometimes, you just had to build something from the ground up. And that really enabled us as developers to decide what we wanted to write. So I was writing things from like, back in the day was a lot of jQuery. And then we started to discover knockout. Knockout was great for two way data binding. And you could add that on with jQuery. It was it was great. And then backbone came out of nowhere. And you're like, Whoa, backbone, like this is great. It kind of has a whole framework that you can can leverage. So back when was great. And then angular came along. So I jumped on Angular, which would have been the really early versions of Angular. And that was just mind blowing. Because we could build things so quickly. There was other things that I would get thrown into, like things like Dojo or Kendo UI, where a client was using that and, and you just had to learn it on the spot, which is really cool. It really got to expose me to so many different JavaScript frameworks over the years.

Jem Young
So from from your agency days to Silicon Valley, tell us a bit about that journey.

Ryan Burgess
Yeah, that was kind of interesting in the sense that there again, not a ton of thought job, not a bunch of planning. It was my wife and I just saying like, yeah, do we want to be in Toronto forever? There's winters, you know, I don't know if we want to stick around for that all the time. I love Toronto. I think it's an amazing city. Lots to do there. But yeah, I wanted to change, we're kind of trying to think about like, what's next. And we both were like, Let's move to San Francisco and wife had just moved into more data oriented roles, like data and analytics for tech. And so it made a lot of sense for her career to so we're both like, let's do it. Like that's where a lot of the jobs are. For me, I thought about agency worlds where I was, I was kind of tired of constantly creating something. And then moving on to another project has a lot of value in that, like, I love it, like you can kind of just bounce on something brand new. But what I really missed was the opportunity to continue creating and optimizing something, you always had these ideas where this could be so much better if we did this, this and this. And that's what really led me to want to work on like a product in a startup and so clearly San Francisco Bay area of startups there. And so it was kind of just a bit of a on a whim that in some ways, like I remember I was like Okay, let's start applying for jobs. It was after we were going to Hawaii for my wife's sister's wedding. So cat let's let's apply after then we're in Hawaii and my wife tells me oh, I've got an email for an interview for Evernote and I was like, what? Wait, you applied for jobs? I thought we were waiting. But so yeah, so she We flew back from Hawaii. And then she turned around and flew back to San Francisco to interview with Evernote, as she got the job there. And then I started like interviewing for different companies. And we, you know, we're moving no matter what. And I was actually planning on taking a bit of time off. But long story short, I interviewed with a bunch of companies, Evernote being one of them, because they're like, oh, what does your husband do? And she's like, Oh, he's a front end engineer. They're like, Oh, my God, can we talk? And so her and I ended up actually working at the same company together when we first moved out here. So that was really cool, too. So my first Silicon Valley company was Evernote.

Jem Young
And then from Evernote, it was Netflix after.

Ryan Burgess
Yes, that was the that's where I'm at now, interesting enough, moving from Evernote to Netflix, it took me a while to make that decision. Netflix had approached me a few times, mainly because I'd met a quite a few engineers over the years at various conferences. And we were actually almost like sharing notes because they were going through a migration to node and at the time, it was different templating language, but react started to pop up. And so we were having conversations like we were doing that at Evernote was moving to node, and then react is coming into play. And so all we're having these conversations between us thinking, Oh, how are you guys approaching this? And so it was really cool. And then the director that I ended up reporting to he had, you know, reached out to me a few times, and was like, Hey, Ryan, like, should come Netflix. And I was like, Hey, I love all the things you guys are doing, I would love to, but a few times, I kind of turned them down just because I was really happy at the work I was doing at Evernote and I was building up the team there. And then also I didn't want to commute like I was living in San Francisco. And for anyone familiar with the Bay Area, Netflix is in Los Gatos. It's roughly about a 45 minute commute with no traffic. And I was like, No, man, I don't want to do that. I just that's not a fun commute. For me, I don't want to do that. And it took him actually he had moved to San Francisco and was doing the commute. And so he was like, just just come grab drinks with me. And so we met at a bar. And he started talking about the commute. And I was like, You know what, it's not doesn't sound that bad. I love what you guys are doing. I'm down, let's interview. And so that's like, I feel like a day or two later, I went and interviewed, and by the end of the week had an offer and signed and we were like, we're good to go. It was great.

Jem Young
So in your journey from kind of skater Street, funk car car person to respective software engineer, why did you decide to make the leap into people management?

Ryan Burgess
That was actually at Evernote? That's a good question. It's actually funny, it kind of goes back to maybe not planning ahead too much like it, things just kind of happen. And they did in some ways. I was a lead front end engineer, I was still doing hands on development at Evernote was helping, like think more broadly about the architecture and what we were building. And then they let the director of my team go. And they just, I mean, the VP was like, Hey, Ryan, you need to leave this team like it, there wasn't really, I mean, I'm sure there's a bit of an option. But I was excited about it. I was like, Cool. Like, that's always been something I would maybe see myself doing was leading a team. But there wasn't a ton of thought. And it was like, All right, sink or swim type thing. So yeah, that was it. I started, I had to start hiring more for the team and, you know, take on some of the existing team that were you know, we're kind of my peers at the time. And now I'm like, oh, now I'm your, your new manager. And so I did that for about a year before joining Netflix as a manager.

Jem Young
So as you you've covered your journey, and all that what what's one of the hardest lessons that you've had to learn?

Ryan Burgess
No, it's a good question. Tough one, actually. I mean, I've had I've made probably had many lessons, tons of lessons, because of just so many mistakes you make. But I mean, mistakes are good you learn from them. One thing that I found that maybe I still wish I was better at is there's been a few times in my career, and I'm sure others can resonate with it, is that there's been times where maybe a situation isn't great. Like, the team dynamics aren't very good, or, you know, maybe your manager is not great, or just things aren't going well. And oftentimes, like I felt like I stuck around too long. Just like you kind of keep hoping that something's going to change. And you know, you're positive because there's usually something good like there's some reason like your team's amazing, but like the works not great or the works amazing. There's, you know, maybe the direction of companies aren't great. There's always something that's good. And I think sometimes what I wish I would have done is set a timeline for myself was like, you know, I'm going to work you know, you don't want to give up but you also want to help make that change happen. And so, I think I wish I would have just put maybe harder line, because I found myself like, Yep, I knew probably a year ago, I should have gone or six months ago and you reflect on it, you're always like, should have gone sooner. So I think that's one lesson that I've still feel like happens. And so I always hold myself accountable to say like, oh, I should put a bit of a timeline in there. But I'm sure there's better lessons that I've learned. But that's one that kind of comes to mind.

Jem Young
That's fair, I found the the sharpest lessons in life tend to go away over time. So the older you get the you're like, Yeah, that was that was an important lesson at that point. But I've learned it's not doesn't sing as much anymore.

Ryan Burgess
Yeah. And now it's just like mistakes I make as a parent and like lessons, I need to learn on that. So

Jem Young
how do you find the the overlap between being a parent and being an engineering manager?

Ryan Burgess
It's so there's so much overlap? I laugh because, I mean, you're dealing with humans, right? Yes. Like dealing with a team or dealing with partners or collaborating with people isn't the same as dealing with a toddler. Dealing with a toddler is hard. It is like one of the hardest things, because communicating with them is hard. Everything is escalated, if they're upset, or emotions are a lot higher, that I would hope that you're not working with people on your team. They're that level high on emotions. And so at the end of the day, though, you're still communicating, right? You're still trying to figure out how to solve people problems. And so when I look at even some of the things that I talked to my toddler, it's like really digging up, what's the problem? What is the concern? And I find that that's a lot of people problems, even in the workforce, it's like you're trying to understand where someone's coming from, what the problem is, and like, how can we try and get to the root of it and solve for it. And I often even joke, I feel like I've had interviews where someone's asked me, like, what's the best management book that you've read. And there's so many good ones out there. But one I go back to is, I always screw up the name of it, but how to talk. So talk to your kids. So kids will listen something like that. And it's really great for raising kids. But then we start to like, as I read it, and I started to think about it, I'm like, Wow, this actually just applies with how you should communicate with anyone is just like really understanding them as where they're coming from and, and truly understand that not make assumptions. And there's just a lot of really good nuggets of information there. And so I think there's a ton of overlap.

Jem Young
So I know that being a parent is taxing, I can attest now that being a manager is very taxing a lot more than I would have thought before. So in all this, what drives you every day to keep working in tech, because the the burnout rate is so high,

Ryan Burgess
there's days when burnouts tough, and I mean, it's like I'm not not going through that, right. Like I think everyone goes through it at times, or where there's just too many things on the go. And you kind of power through them, but you're you're burnt out. But I think there's a variety of things that just keep me excited and enjoy it. If I if I started to not be excited about the work or excited about continuing or I feel like I would need a change. And I don't maybe it's not in tech, maybe it's even just a different role. But when I think back to even let's go back to being an engineer, and not even the manager part is like when I was an engineer, it goes back to that constant satisfaction of creating something like you're always creating, you're learning and dealing with hard problems. And then even when you have the worst problem, that you're hitting your head on the keyboard for hours, you solve it. And that is like one of the best feelings ever, I still get some like it's not the exact same in a management role. It's different. But I think of a manager you get to focus on maybe like a higher level strategic vision or investments that you and your team are making to more impact to the business or like future things that are going to help you and your team in the long run. And I love that like I love that part of the thinking it's not so much that you're hands on building, but you're building this like vision or strategic pieces to get your team there and enable them. So I love all that. And then honestly, like on the people side of things, being a manager, I love being able to help others in my team grow career growth or just like, point out opportunities for them or whatever it is like I that excites me, or even the hiring side of things like being able to find amazing people for your team. That's exciting. So I think it comes roots down to like, as long as I'm excited about what I'm doing. It keeps me going. Yes, there's days when I am exhausted and probably need a break. That's important to take a break is a good thing. But yeah, I think those are the things that just drive me it's just like as long as I'm making excited about the work and constantly being challenged? That's a good thing.

Jem Young
If you were to change careers, I mean, granted, you've you've succeeded very well in tech. But if you had to change careers, what would you do?

Ryan Burgess
I likely will change careers at some point. I think I will. I don't know. Maybe not. But I would do something completely different. It would just be maybe, maybe go back to that art stuff. Like what could I be doing? That's more actual art and creating? Maybe it's focusing on photography. I still love doing photography as a as a hobby, but maybe I would do it more as a career. Maybe I'm not sure. And or maybe I go learn to be a tattoo artist that I almost did instead of going into tech. So something with art definitely. Or hey, maybe I'll just sit on a podcast all day and talk. I don't have a problem doing that now.

Jem Young
So speaking of tattoos, people who have don't follow you on Instagram or have never met you in real life, probably don't know. You have tattoos all over your body. And they are amazing works of art. But what what got you into tattooing? It's it's pretty rare to see people in tech with a lot of tattoos and say, or is that not true?

Ryan Burgess
I'm just gonna say is it not true? Like, I feel like that I feel like there's a fair amount of people in tech with tattoos. I feel like it's an industry that's pretty like, accepting of tattoos. I think, a lot more industries in our lifetime. You know, I think of even when I've probably first started getting tattoos is drastically changed over time where, you know, people are a little more accepting for people being tattooed that used to be when I was a kid, you won't get a job if you're tattooed. Like I would hear that all the time. But no, so I think there's some people tattooed but you're right, it's not everyone and definitely not everyone getting their full body tattooed. That's not as common. Probably when I think back to there's like many reasons why I would get to have gotten tattoos. It could get back to the you know, skateboarding like skateboarding, culture, graffiti, all that like those all kind of just meld really nicely together. You know, I don't get tattoos too specifically mean something. I know, some people are like, oh, I need my tattoo to mean something or represents this. Mine is absolutely just more I love the art form. That's what I'm getting the tattoo for. But obviously, there's reasoning for the tattoos. For me, it's always goes back to being fascinated with the art. Maybe it is like skateboarding, listening to punk music, doing graffiti, all those rebellious type things, tattoos or rebellious kind of fits in that in that picture. My dad growing up was super strict. And like, clearly, tattoos were not a okay thing. I remember him telling me if I got tattooed, you know, I'd be out on my own and probably disowned good thing. I live on my own now. Because yeah, that's I don't have to be concerned on that. But I like tattoos. I mean, tattoos are for me, right? Like, they're not really for anyone else. So I think that's always been, I do it for myself don't really get someone else giving me their opinion or thoughts on it. But it is funny. Sometimes. I don't get it so much in San Francisco. But you get sometimes where you just let these like random people on the street will just like, look you up and down and give you the dirtiest look. And it's like, I sometimes just laugh at that. I'm like, wow, I've offended you. Just the way I look. Cool. All right, you do you. I also think there's something about the tattoo process that's kind of unique, tattoos don't tickle. Like, they hurt. But it takes a lot of dedication, right? Like it, they take a long time. It's not you know, there's, I don't even even count the many hours I've sat getting stabbed by a needle. It's a lot. And so I think about that. It's like, a bit of dedication to sit through and like tattoos, not everyone's going to do that. And I think that's kind of cool, too, is that it's not for everyone. I don't know, those are random reasons. But like, for me, it's just I still love it. I've been able to get tattooed over the years is really cool too is like just seeing how different art that I've gotten over the years.

Jem Young
I think. Obviously, Ryan, we're friends. One thing I've always found, like really interesting about two years that kind of the mix of a bit of rebellion. So you know, you're you're a young kid spray painting doing street art. And now you're you know, you're you're covered in tattoos, you kind of look like a rebel punk person. But you're also the most empathetic best manager that I have ever met in my life. So is this how do you how do you rectify your identity with like, being this rebel, but also being kind to because that's not something you find very often in, in today's world. Hmm.

Ryan Burgess
Thank you for the kind words, Jem. But yeah, that's, that's a tough question. I mean, you know, I want to show up as a good person, maybe being rebellious and everything to me is like you should question things like you should absolutely not take everything for face value. Just because there's like the laws or I don't know like whatever you want to called rebellion. It's like a question that I mean, it's not just not everything's black and white. And and I think that's a great quality to have in anyone. But like when I think of someone who's rebellious or questioning those things, or punk music or whatever, you don't need to be an asshole, right? Like, you don't have to be an IQ. And so I just want to be my authentic self. And I don't have to be an asshole to I can be like, if it if it needs to be, but it's like, no, I think most of the times is like, understanding someone's situation. And being empathetic goes a really long way. And just a seek to understand

Jem Young
or like that seek to understand that that is a valuable lesson. What do you think has helped you most in your career?

Ryan Burgess
You know, what, it's probably getting out of my comfort zone. We talked about, like me growing up in Brandon, Manitoba, been starting in a tech role. There's not jobs there. I mean, sure, there's jobs there now. But at the time, there might have been like one or two opportunities if I was lucky. And I think about this throat like looking back, it's like, I liked it, I, I've moved, like, I've moved to more opportunities, like throughout, I thank my wife for that. Like, I feel like she's so much more comfortable with change. And I wasn't always comfortable to change. And I think that being able to move and just like try something different. I had to get used to that. And I'm so thankful that I've been able to do that. And I'm so much more comfortable, comfortable doing that now. So maybe it's just getting out of my comfort zone, and just taking the risk and doing something trying something I always realized today, worst case scenario, I move to another country, like moving from Canada to the US, I could hate it. I mean, I just moved back, right? Like, what's the worst thing that can happen is I think just like getting comfortable with that, and just pushing yourself that has really, really helped me in my career.

Jem Young
So in your very successful career trajectory that you've had so far, what are your future goals?

Ryan Burgess
That's a good one. And, you know, my theme is like, don't think about it too much, I guess is like, as we've talked, but I mean, I do think about it a bit in the sense of, it goes back to I want to be excited about what I'm doing, continue to be challenged and growing. And so that could mean many things like what does growth mean to me, and as a leader, I want to grow into like bigger leader roles where, you know, maybe it's like growing other leaders like that, to me is exciting. I talked about like, what brings me joy as a manager is growing someone. And it's like, Well, cool. Like, I've been spending a lot of time as a manager, I like to be a mentor to others. So maybe it's like, you know, being a bigger leader. But at the same time, I don't know how big of a leader I'd want to be like, I don't know that I'd want to be, you know, CEO of Netflix, or like something that big. You're dealing with so many things that I don't know, I feel like I would be further removed from some of the things I love. So I've sometimes thought about that is like, how far do you go? And like, do you end up hating that type of role. So I think about these things, but not like super concrete. And I want to continue and spend my time and invest in the engineering community. I really love building community and just like, looking for ways in which to give back and help others. I feel like I learned a lot through people throughout my career, whether it be other engineers or great managers. And so I think about that, too, is like how do we help build a strong community? And you know, we always talked on this podcast about Twitter's been great. I like doing that. And like I've met some amazing people that are going to conferences and so that I want to continue doing throughout my career. I don't think it's like, hey, I need to do something different about it. It's just like, keep thinking about that and investing time there.

Jem Young
So you mentioned kind of, you've worked with a lot of good people. And that's, that's some of the reason for your success. What's the quality you admire in leaders?

Ryan Burgess
You know, when I think of someone that I'm reporting to, at the end of the day, I want them to have my back. Like, I want them to be thinking about me, it's like, how are they you know, how can they be helping me it's, it goes it's two way street. Like, they don't have to do everything for me. But like, you know, we make mistakes, like no matter what we all like I said, we all make mistakes, but it's like, you know, how's how's my manager going to help me or support me and making the right decisions or no backing decisions or even allowing that affordance to right, like you don't want to micromanager. Oh my god, that is the worst thing you can have. So I think of that. And then as a leader, you know, you want someone that's inspiring. If you're working with someone, this doesn't have to be the person you report to. But you want to work alongside people that inspire you that you can learn from and that you can be like, Wow, I hadn't thought of that perspective. Or you know, they're challenging you to think outside the box. That to me is really great. And any leader any person that I work with in general, another one is making decisions sometimes have see leaders that kind of waffle on a decision. You know, it's almost better if someone makes a decision and makes the wrong decision. Rather than spending so much time analysis, paralysis on a decision and not really coming to a decision is like a bad thing. So I think a good leader makes a decision and goes with it. And it's never perfect. Don't get me wrong, like sometimes things change or you make changes. But I think that makes a great leader too.

Jem Young
Hmm. I like that. That's that's not what i i hear very often, in terms of leadership qualities is the ability to make a decision. So that that's a that's a good insight. How do you as a leader, how do you keep perspective? So how do you remember what it's like being an IC? And how do you remember what it's like being a junior engineer and from, you know, you've been doing this a while, and you have a team of, you know, varying experienced engineers? So, yeah, how do you how do you remember what it's like? How do you have that empathy? I

Ryan Burgess
think sometimes it's hard. Like you don't always remember every little detail about what it was like in those scenarios, but you do you remember, you remember certain things of way you felt in certain situations. And so those will never go away, and they sit with you. But also, empathy is also just really for me is listening, asking questions around decisions that have been made, maybe like leadership has made a decision? How do you feel about that? What would you do differently, and really just questioning and talking with engineers on your team, and just constantly building that trust to right, like, they just been open to listen to someone and hear them out is that's empathy in itself, like, you start to learn from what their situation is. Because even even if I can remember everything, what it was like to be that junior engineer trying to figure it all out, I'm not going to be able to, but even if I did, my situation is different than the next person. And so I think if I go out with too many assumptions, that's not great either. And so I think you really have to take it on a very personal level. And just listen, I think that's the big thing.

Jem Young
These are a lot of good life lessons and career lessons here that we're getting. So in all this being a parent, being a leader at a fortune 500 company, how do you keep running podcasts in your free time? How do you even have free time?

Ryan Burgess
I like the free time question. Because I think about this one a lot. As a parent, you know, we look to other parents, and you see someone do something like Oh, my God, how do they have the time to do that? And I think that we all still have time, we do. And you just are ruthless with what you do. So there's a lot of things that, you know, I don't play video games anymore. It's not because like, I don't want to, but it fell lower on my priority list, right. And so doing the podcast for me is still on my priority list, I still really enjoy it. It's been a great way to connect with friends that like the fellow panelists, us regularly getting time together to chat about topics. And then it adds value, like people are enjoying these podcasts. And that's cool, too. Like that drives it when people are like, wow, you help me with this problem. That's so cool. Like when when someone says that to you. And so that has just kind of bubbled up to continually be a priority for me. And if it was something I didn't enjoy anymore, then it would probably be falling below that priority line. And it would fizzle out. You just you only have so much time in the day. Time is expensive. So it's really about where do you focus your time. And I think for me, keeping the podcast going. It's like some of it is just that regular cadence. It's cool. I know that we regularly release every two weeks. And so we constantly need to think about a new episode, which is cool, too, because it's like a constant reminder of like, Oh, I get to go hang out with my friends and talk about something. So I think for me, those regular things, just keep the momentum going.

Jem Young
Thank you, Ron, for sharing, you know, insight into your life and your career, your philosophy on pretty much everything, any parting words,

Ryan Burgess
and feel like, hopefully I covered some good things. But you know, Jem, really good questions. Definitely got me to answer some things. I was like, wow, I had to think about that. So I appreciate you taking the time to interview me. And hopefully we add value to you know, hearing some of my story. parting words. I mean, I'll go back to things that I feel like have helped me in my career is be comfortable with the unknown or getting out of your comfort zone. Another thing is be flexible. I think that there's times and even when I think back to like being in high school, there'll be times are like, I don't need calculus, or I don't need physics, like when am I ever going to use that? And that may be true, but I think about like there's things that I probably should have thought about more as well. You just never know where that will show up. And so sometimes just being flexible and not closing a bunch of doors is it's not a bad thing. It's like being open to learning new perspectives and just being flexible