Dan and Bekah: Season One Wrap-Up

Season 1, Episode 9 | March 6, 2021

In this episode of the podcast, Dan and Bekah switch things up. Since it's last episode of season one, they share a bit about their origin stories, when their paths connected, and how that led to where Virtual Coffee is today.


Bekah's profile photo
Bekah Hawrot Weigel

Front-end developer, and Org Maintainer at Virtual Coffee.

Dan's profile photo
Dan Ott

Front-end developer, and Org Maintainer at Virtual Coffee.

Show Notes:

In this episode of the podcast, Dan and Bekah switch things up. Since it's last episode of season one, they share a bit about their origin stories, when their paths connected, and how that led to where Virtual Coffee is today. They talk about the challenges of the last year, how Virtual Coffee has been a light during dark times, and how growing can be painful, but also the process that allows you to become more than you could've imagined. And they also drop some of their favorite Virtual Coffee moments of the last year.

Links:

Virtual Coffee:

Transcript:

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

Hello, and welcome to season one, episode nine of the Virtual Coffee podcast. I'm Bekah, and this is a podcast that features members of the Virtual Coffee community. Virtual Coffee is an intimate group of developers at all stages of their coding journey. And they're here on this podcast sharing their stories and what they've learned. And we're here to share it with you. Here with me today is my co host, Dan.

Dan Ott:

Thanks, Bekah. This is the last episode of our first season. So we thought instead of having a guest, we just talk a bit about our own journeys to tech and share some thoughts and experiences spending the last year with Virtual Coffee.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

We start every episode of the podcast like we start every Virtual Coffee, we introduce ourselves with our name, where we're from, what we do, and a random check-in question. Today's question is, if you could choose any fictional person to be your imaginary friend, who would it be? And why? We hope you enjoyed this episode. Hey, I'm Bekah, I'm a front end developer from a small town in Ohio. And if I could choose any fictional person to be my imaginary friend, I've got WandaVision on my mind, because today is the series or season finale. And so I'm going to go with Wanda.

Dan Ott:

Wanda. Hi, I'm Dan. I am a front-end developer from Cleveland, Ohio. If I could choose any fictional person to be my imaginary friend, I think I would choose Chewbacca. He seems he seems like really good friend, you know, always got your back, good copilot whatever; can, you know beat people up? Like if they are mean to you and stuff like that. That's useful, or at least threaten to beat people up.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

I've got a dog that looks like Chewbacca. And so I'll just send her to you.

Dan Ott:

Excellent. This is the dog that you know, and jumped on the counter and eats all your food.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

Yeah, she had a bag of chocolate chips this morning. But she, she might be able to defend you. When one of my kids caught the microwave on fire she barked a lot. And that was good. So that's helpful. Let's see, that's useful. I'll just send her up later. Okay, so this week's episode is a little bit different than other week episodes. This is the last episode of season one, which just means we're going to take a couple of weeks off, do some recording and get ready for season two. And today, we don't have a guest, we're just going to kind of talk about how we got started doing this. So in other episodes, we get the origin stories of our guests, usually. And so today, we're gonna start with our origin stories. And so Dan, why don't you go first.

Dan Ott:

Okay, so how I got into tech, I sort of grew up having computers, you know, around the house, and started doing web stuff in high school. So this was, like 99 ish. 2000 I think the first couple of things I did were flash sites actually. So I had like, I was in a punk band, you know, in high school, and we did a little like site. And some web stuff. The fire flash was fun, because I don't know there's a lot of drag and drop stuff that you could do cool things with. And, and then through college, I was I went to college, as a computer science major switch to English, because I had a hard time with some of especially the math and also higher level computer science in college got real boring, because I wasn't really doing any programming anymore. It was like more theoretical stuff. And also like assembly language, which is not very fun for me, and but on the side, I was kind of continuing to do more web random web stuff. And at some points, I don't know, at some point in there when I was in college, did a couple for pay sites or you know projects for people and that was kind of fun. And I ended up dropping out of college. Not really to pursue a career or anything like that, but I was struggling in college for a lot. Different reasons and when I got home, so I moved in, you know, back home with my parents, and there was a sort of family friend that had was starting a local newspaper. And so the Lakewood observer, and I started just working for him and doing that, and went pretty well--did not pay very much. And I didn't really know that it didn't pay very much. But also I was, you know, 20, whatever, and just living with my friends. And, you know, it was it was it was fun, and started working for Sprokets, around 2007, I think--Sprokets is another independent kind of group that I don't know they do projects for clients. And so I was doing front end for them and have been doing front end for them since then. And I don't know, and then, now we're here. So I don't remember exactly when it was, but some couple years ago, I guess I thought we, I could use some extra help with some Sprokets work. And so right around that time, I saw Bekah's tweet--I wasn't even following you on Twitter, somebody else--and I keep meaning to go and track down who it was--but somebody you know, shared, your looking for a job, you know tweet, you know just graduated from--I always want to say grid iron.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

Flatiron.

Dan Ott:

You know, and so I just I think DMed your reply on Twitter, and and so you were my first like, contractor, subcontractor or whatever. So we start working together and then and yeah. Yeah, and then right, so and then we got to when the pandemic started, and all of my work dried up, which meant, of course, all of Bekah's work dried up. And so we had to sort of stop working together for a little bit. Which it turned out, worked out pretty well, because I think that's when Bekah started. Virtual Coffee. Yeah, and so I obviously, we were still friends. And you know, you were doing the Virtual Coffee thing. And so I, I don't know, I think I came to the third or fourth one that you did something like that. And so that's how I found out about Virtual Coffee, as well. And yeah, so yeah, so that's my, like, sort of long winded tech and Virtual Coffee origin story on on one story.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

All mixed together. Yeah, so my first experience with coding, actually, so I have an English degree. And my first job--I wanted to be a lawyer for my entire life. And then I decided in my last semester of undergrad that I didn't want to be a lawyer anymore. And so then I was just kind of left like, "oh, what am I supposed to do?" And so, I ended up, I taught adult education for almost a year. And then I got a job as a community organizer. And I planned to go to grad school for English. But while I was a community organizer, one of my first tasks, my boss was like, "Okay, I need you to go home and learn HTML and CSS this weekend." And I was like, Okay. So, my, I don't know if he was my boyfriend, or my fiance at the time, Jesse, who is now my husband. And he had taken a bunch of CS courses. And I knew he had some books. I was like, "Can you teach me HTML and CSS?" And literally, we just like, opened a textbook. And we're looking through the textbook over the weekend, and I came in, on Monday, I was like, "Okay, I learned HTML, CSS." But I just basically had to know how to use Dreamweaver. And so you don't need to know that to make the site and I was just doing mostly content updates, but occasionally, there would be like some weird thing that would happen, and the template would mess up. And then you would have to go in and look at the HTML and CSS. So, um, I did not really like it. And I did not want that to be part of my job. But it was, um, and then I went to grad school for English. And I taught for eight years. And then I went through a trauma with my fourth kid, and it just kind of like flipped my world upside down. And so I was going through all these mental health things, and I had PTSD and I didn't realize that I was just like cycling these events over and over in my head. And my husband was like, "Hey, why don't you learn to code?" And I was like, "why would I learn to do that? Because I can't even think straight." Um, but I finally just wanted him to shut up so I started FreeCodeCamp. The fun part of that was the cycling thoughts stopped when I was coding. So I don't know if it was learning a new skill, or if it was just my brain was getting into hyperfocus in a way that like shifted away from all of those thoughts., but it just became a huge form of therapy. And I found a really supportive community. I think, like, I had signed up for Twitter, and I was trying to be funny on Twitter. And I'm like, not funny. So that wasn't going so well, and so I was like, okay, well, I guess I'm just gonna tweet about what I'm learning about. And then people were like, "Hey, good job." And I was like, "Oh, cool. I've got I've got cheerleaders--that's fun--or hype, people." Um, and I know, just like having somebody being encouraging, kind of like, okay, I can keep going with this. And then I found a group of moms who were coding. And that was really important. And one of them had talked to me about her experience with postpartum depression, and how learning to code really got her through that. And that resonated with what I was going through. And so I ended up going to Flatiron School. And I did that for a year, I think it took me a year to do that. Um, it's a part time, remote, I can't remember what it's called. It's like work as you go kind of thing, right. So like, there, there's, you set your own pace, basically. And so that works the best for me, because I had kids at home, I had a one year old, three year old, six, and eight at the time. And, and so after I graduated, I felt 0% ready to apply for jobs. And my husband was like, Hey, you should just put it out there. And I did. And then Dan messaged me, and I thought, this is this is not going to work out. I am not ready for this. Um, but then we had a conversation and I felt really comfortable. Like, okay, you know, maybe I can do this. And maybe I can work my way through these challenges. And it was, I mean, the first six months were really rough. And just a lot of like, second guessing myself, and not knowing when to ask questions. And then I feel like we hit our stride, and then the pandemic it. And then that was really challenging. And that is when I started Virtual Coffee, because I started going to interviews, and I never interviewed before, because we just basically had a conversation. And the interviews were horrendous. They were so awful. And I just remember thinking, like, you know, I need to be able to talk to other people. And so I just put it out there on Twitter, and people wanted to talk to, um, and so, yeah, that's just kind of how Virtual Coffee started. Because I was having a hard time and I needed friends.Yeah,

Dan Ott:

yeah. Yeah, I mean, the man, being able to talk to people has been just so great. It's been like the, I don't know if it's like, I mean, this probably isn't like news to a lot of other people. But it was sort of, to me, I, you know, it's like, one of the things that were, I didn't really understand how much it was affecting me not having it, you know, being independent, my, my whole career and even working, like, working with Sprokets and working with other groups at almost all small, you know, small organizations, and I'm usually the only one doing the work like, front end or whatever, like, I'm only I'm like working alone, even when I'm working together. Right. And having the, you know, having the community I started, I like, helped create the Cleveland React meetup. Last, like, summer or whatever that was 2019 I guess. And that was, you know, really fun. It was the same thing. I was just kind of, like, just want to, like, I just want to, like be able to talk to people, you know. And, and, and, yeah, and then Virtual Coffee has been great, because it's, I mean, Cleveland React is awesome. But it's all you know, just React stuff. Right? And so Virtual Coffee is just a collection of people in all like, all different levels, all different interests, you know, we have, you know, people that are front end people, we have people that our back end people you know, people are just like learning for the first time, any kind of code. You know, we have people who have been doing for a really long time, and you know, I don't know, it's, it's great, it's just so great to have a collection of people like to just talk, you know, talk to you about things and share things, you know?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

Yeah, yeah, and, you know, one of the, one of the things that I like a lot about Virtual Coffee is that how willing everybody is to share. So it's not just technical things that they're talking about, but we do have people from all over. And so, like to learn about DevOps, or to learn about management, those are things that I don't know that I would really get to understand anywhere else, but then also to hear them talk about their challenges, whether that's, you know, in their personal life, or at work those things, I am, I think, helped me to really grow a lot, because I'm looking at this, this person, and a lot of times what we see online, especially, you know, as someone who learned remotely, and has always worked remotely, you don't get a lot of to see a lot of like, the frustrations or, you know, all of the other things that come with being human because people put on social media, like they're curated personality or whatever. And so to see, all of that is, I know, has been really great to understand that we're not just what we see online, you know?

Dan Ott:

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I, you know, and that idea has, even come up here on the podcast with some of our other guests, you know, that same thing. I mean, I don't have much more to add to it. But yeah, I mean, like, that's it, right. I mean, it's just like, the, we're not just like, you know, putting our best, whatever faces on, you know. And it's, it's hard to do sometimes, you know, it's, it's hard to do, excuse me, some people can do it really well, even just on Twitter, you know, to share this, like, like that. I, I struggle with it, you know. And so when I don't have something like perfect and fancy to show off, I usually just like, just don't say anything on Twitter. And it's hard. I don't know, it's, I don't feel like I always have to be like that, you know, here, or Virtual Coffee, etc. Especially, just the zoom meetings, you know, I mean, like, slack is great. It's like so, you know, on Virtual Coffee, we have this slack conversation, that's pretty much always going but the coffee's, you know, twice a week are like, where we really just get to, like, hang out, you know, and talk. And we're not like presenting, nobody's presenting and nobody's you know, doing anything like that. And it's just people kind of talking and following, like, letting the conversations kind of flow. And like, as if we were actually just having coffee to get there. And, it's nice.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

Yeah, I was in Glenn's breakout room a couple of weeks ago. And I loved how he described it. He was like, let's just pretend we're sitting around a coffee table. And we're all just like, sharing, like, "We're friends here." Right? And that's, you know, initially, Virtual Coffee was so much of that. It was just like me coming into zoom and saying like, Oh, I'm really sad right now. And I just spent all last night crying. That's like, been my theme for the last year. I cried today. Um,

Dan Ott:

--yeah, but it's been a rough year.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

It's been a rough year. But also, like, it's a group where we can, I can feel comfortable, at least like saying that stuff out loud. Somebody messaged me last night or this morning, and they were like, thank you for talking about crying, because I am always afraid to cry in front of people. And like, that definitely was me too. And now it's just think I had like three meetings this week. And I just cried in all three of them. Was having a rough week, and like, I don't want to spend emotional energy trying to not be human right now. So I'm, I'm very appreciative of the supportive environment that allows me to be able to be human in those moments.

Dan Ott:

Yeah. I think that's great. I think that's a great way to frame it too. You know. And it's really, I mean, we've, we've, we've come to it sort of organically, you know, over the last year, but that like a lot of people to just be people you know, and not like developers or job seekers or whatever else, you know, x thing. And just like a lot of us have similar, you know, things we're dealing with or whatever but the whole point of Virtual Coffee is, is more just like, you know, providing a space right to be an actual person, another 10x developer, whatever.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

--or robot--

Dan Ott:

or a robot in general.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

Okay, so one of the things that I think is really complicated about the past year, right, with the pandemic, and all of this stuff, it's been such a hard time. And there have been a lot of struggles. But I always feel like it's super weird when, like, good things are happening at the same time, right? Um, and so like, out of this year, Virtual Coffee started, and we're about to hit on April 9, that will be our one year birthday. And March 23, I think we'll hit our 100th Coffee chat. And so we're hitting some big things. And it's super exciting. And it's always like, very weird to frame that in, like, all of the rest of the hard stuff that's going on. And, but I think it's been, I don't know, I don't know what I would have done without Virtual Coffee in the last year and like, trying to remember like, okay, there's a lot of hard stuff that's still going on. But like, it's, it's okay to feel good about things in the midst of the hard stuff. Does that makes sense?

Dan Ott:

Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. And I think that's really important. I, I mean, you know, I agree about Virtual Coffee. And also, like, we, so, you know, I have I have two kids, I have a almost five year old, right, and a two year old. And, you know, that's been really hard with the, with the pandemic, the quarantine and all that stuff. But also, I mean, we have, like, spent a lot more time I think together, you know, than we would have, right, because they were in daycare, and then they weren't for a couple of few months. And then right, like, for instance, right now, like, We're one of their teachers, I think tested positive. And so we had to quarantine for a couple weeks. And, you know, it's hard, like, we have it stressful and hard because of work and, you know, trying to get everything done. But also, I don't know, I'm hanging out with the boys again, you know, like, just during the day, everyday instead of, you know, after after school, and then weekends, and, and there are like pros to that too. You know, so like, I tried like it like trying to not get trying to remember, like, all the good things, or any good things, you know, positive things that have happened in during a hard time, I think is is valuable and important, you know, because it can be it can be easy to get really caught up, you know, in the the bad, right of any, you know, of any situation, really, but I mean, this this, I mean, it's a global pandemic, we're all kind of going through it, you know, some, I think it's, I think that like, it's it's an important thing to be able to recognize positive things that have come out of it, you know, maybe Virtual Coffee wouldn't have happened, had that not happened? Or maybe it would have--

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

--had you not fired me Virtual Coffee would not have happened.

Dan Ott:

I wait, I did not fire you. And this is you just need to stop saying.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

I only say it just because it bothers you every time. It's like, my 11 year old will just like stare at my six year old in the car. And I freaked out, right. So that's what I'm doing? No, but um,

Dan Ott:

so I'm the 6 year old in this conversation. makes sense.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

Sorry, I didn't mean it like that.

Dan Ott:

No, no, that's fair.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

Or my four year old taunts my 11 year old and he gets upset. So you can be my 11 year old if you want.

Dan Ott:

In our house, it's it's very much always the two year old who is bothering the five year old, you know, who is like, twice the size and you know, really could just do anything, you know, but he's just too, I don't know, nice or whatever. Is Samson just chasing around or stealing his toys or whatever. Anyway, sorry, I interrupted you. You were you're heading off in a different direction there.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

No, what I was gonna say was, like one of my favorite things, I think, that's come out of Virtual Coffee too has been the podcast. I have wanted to start a podcast for probably over a year. But I was always afraid to do it. Or like, I don't know how to do any of that stuff. I'm not going to be able to do it. And then I think somebody asked in Slack, I want to say it was Cameron--who was in the mental health episode a couple episodes back-- "So when is Virtual Coffee starting a podcast?" And I was like, "we're doing it!" right? And then, Dan, you're like, "Yeah, let's do it." And so then, like suddenly something that I had been thinking about for a year in my head, like all of, going through all these things, then we suddenly just did it. Right, we have just jumped into it. Um, but it's been, it's been a lot of fun to be able to do this and to like, look forward to talking to members. And I mean, it was a little bit rocky, I think, at first when we were trying to sort through everything that needed to be done and how we should--what the process should be. But like, once we kind of figured that out, it just, I don't know, it just became like, one of the the highlights of my year.

Dan Ott:

Yeah, I mean, definitely, I agree, like the being on a podcast is is, I mean, I don't know, I don't know if it's like some kind of thing that I've always wanted to do, or whatever. But I definitely, it always sounded fun, you know. And I like talking to my friends. And, you know, I like sharing things and, like audio editing stuff. I mean, I did, I did some of that just on a hobby level. For a long time, too. You know, in college, we made videos or whatever. And so it was kind of fun learning about some of those tools. I found this MAC app called Hindenburg and for audio editing, like, I don't think anybody's ever heard of, except that it seems like it's also really popular. So I, I'm not sure. I'm not sure how I found it or where it came from. But I mean, or like, where I, you know, how I ended up with it. But it's a cool, it's a cool app, and that it's like learning about that it's like learning about audio editing and learning about podcast hosting and learning about all this stuff is just like, this whole block of, like, experience that I know, that I that I didn't have before. And now I you know, not that I I'm, I still consider myself a hobbyist at any of it, you know, obviously, but I don't know, it's been fun. I mean, from the technical side has been fun. And then yeah, just being able to, like, share what I don't know, sure what our members are want to talk about, and be able to, like have these smaller conversations, and you know, share them out with the world in this format has been really fun to that idea of like, we have an idea, and then we just kind of decided to go with it has been like one of I feel like are hallmarks in Virtual Coffee for you know, for better and worse, usually better. But like, it's been out and it's been it's been fun. It's kind of like how a lot of the, like, big successful things that we've done. I mean, I say big, relatively big, big for us have gone, you know. I, I wasn't in the room, so to speak, when the Hacktoberfest stuff like, like, when that conversation started, you know, but you guys like, asked me to help out with Hacktoberfest pretty soon. And then we just kind of like, like, yes, we're doing this, and we're gonna make it awesome. You know? And we've never looked back really, you know, say with the lightning talks, you know, that was, you know, it was just like, okay, we're doing lightning talks the end of this month. And we're like, "Alright, cool. Let's do it." I don't know. We'll figure it out. You know, we'll do it live. It was awesome. Like this lady talks in November. We're amazing. I was trying to make a list of I mean, we could do this later, we had one of our members asked just for the podcast, like, Well, some of our favorite things that happened, you know, and those lightning talks in in November were really fun. You know, like, it was great having the, the, you know, our members, kind of do all these like amazing little talks. And I don't know, is fun. And also, I learned how to do livestreaming on YouTube. Which is something I didn't know how to do before. You know. It's been fun. So, yeah, so I don't know,

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

The whole October. I mean, really, it started, like late August. I think with all these things. I don't know, I want to say that maybe we should do something for Hacktoberfest, but not ever had dreamt up what we ended up going with, right. And so you had been saying for a while, "okay, if you if you need some help with it," and at that point, we were working together again, I think, um, and so, I was like, "Okay, well, you know, I'll see if if Dan wants to help with this too." And then we brought Kirk on and Sara and Bryan, I think had already talked about it. And then suddenly, it just became this really big thing with mentors and supporting maintainers. And having our contributors and you know, having a site--you totally redid the site. So so we could have a Hactoberfest first issue. Um, so it was just I don't know, so amazing, but also super challenging because we were, you know, kind of winging it. And in the beginning, like, what are we going to do, lots of brainstorming. And then, I don't know, you just got all of this stuff up and going. And it was challenging to, I feel like I this is, like a point, in the last year, that was super pivotal for me to be able to have conversations that were harder for me to have. So I'm generally like, Oh, this is a hard conversation coming up. So I'm just gonna, like, turn around and just not talk to people until it passes over, or they just don't talk to me at all anymore. Um, but it's much harder to run from people when it's on the internet. So having these conversations that were hard that I didn't want to be having, and so it was just like, forcing me out of my comfort zone. And Hacktoberfest was great. And afterwards, I was so proud of everything that we did, and all of our members. And then, as we were, it took a lot more time and effort than I had thought. And then somebody mentioned like, "Hey, didn't you say we're gonna do lightning talks in November?" It's like, "Yes, I said that. And yes, we will." No process nothing. I kind of thought that I had some people that were going to help with that, that couldn't help. And so then I was just, you know, muscling through it. And then Dan, I think you were like, "hey, um, do you need some help with this?" I'm not good at asking for help. And so that, you know, that's another thing. My instinct, my gut reaction would be to say, "No, I've got this, I don't want to inconvenience you." But I think it came off of Hacktoberfest. And that was a perfect time. Because, you know, I was able to, you know, work through some of these communication issues, like I knew that I could trust you, and that it would be really great to have your help. And so then, rather than saying, like, "No, I don't want to inconvenience you," I was like, "Yes, please." And so that was like, two weeks. I think that though, in the final two weeks, there was a lot of stuff that that we put together. But it was an I was so exhausted after that. And I just wanted to lay down for a week. And then I started seeing everybody who spoke tweet about their experience and how proud they were. And then I was just like, "this is amazing. When are we going to do this again?" You know, Kyle, Walsh calls it the post conference high And I was like, Yes, that is it 100% It's so stressful. And you are like, I never want to do this again. And then it's done. You're like, That was amazing.

Dan Ott:

Yeah, that sounds about right. Yeah, well, ask for help. I mean, that's been that's been sort of a big thing that we've been working on that. I mean, I feel like you've been getting personally better at asking for help, but we're, you know, trying to find ways to, I don't know, make make it so everybody can do everything, right, and come up with some processes to make things less stressful. And because up until recently, I mean, Bekah has really even just like doing everything, all of the coordinating everything and talking to everybody and you know, and it's been amazing, you know, but like we we want, always wants to do more. Right? And there's, like, limits to what we can do. Right. And so that's been one of the things that like we've been struggling with recently, I feel like is that's where I wanted to start struggling with how to how to, like how to best do it right, at how to set up processes for people and, and, you know, how to, like, empower our members to to do things. Cuz, I mean, we always like wanted, everybody do whatever they want, you know, on their own, obviously, but like we've we've had some Virtual Coffee stuff, we we want to be able to give them tools, you know, so they can like do things you know, and like we can support them and and provide guidance and mentorship in certain situations, things like that. So that's been like, I think, on top of our minds, you know, recently well, that and also our most recent lightning talks, which also, you know, I mean, this was part of that practice, right? It was, we had a really awesome team of, of members helping coordinate and mentor our lightning talk session. This past, was it last Friday? Yeah. Wow. Okay, so that seemed like, three months ago, but I guess it's. Um, but yeah, I thought like it went really? Well, I, you know, I don't know, we're gonna talk to them, talk to our team. And, you know, see what, what went well, and what didn't, you know, I think we have something like that scheduled next week, which I'm looking forward to. But yeah, like, how did you feel? I mean, how did you think this was different for you? You know, compared to last time, when you just did everything?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

Yeah, so this was, I mean, it was a great experience, because I love seeing everybody put in the time and to support all of the people who are speaking, right. And so it's great to see the community members, you know, really, really having a chance to do a lot of the things that that we've been doing. And for me, you know, I've never really been in a position where I'm, like, managing people, right. And this felt a little bit like, so, you know, I was the kid in school that the teacher is like, you have an assignment that's due in six weeks, and I would go home and do that assignment. And I recognize that a lot of people are not like that, right. And so, um, there's like that balance there. Right? Like, let's give them the autonomy. But at the same time, we are trying to refine our process, because before there was my notes were like, not that great, because I was just doing it. And so now it was like, okay, so I need to go back. And I need to look at all these things, make sure that they feel supported. And there were definitely some gaps that we missed in how things should go. Or maybe there was like a step that wasn't clear, right. And that's part of the process, it's going to get better as we go along. And so, for me, it was a lot of like, trying to figure out, you know, where I was needed, or how I best could support people. And then, you know, right before the lightning talks, I had this, you know, thing come up that I was not expecting, and so I was missing for the whole day before lightning talks. I wasn't available. And but I mean, that's why you have a good team and good structure. Right. Like, you know, Dan, I know that I messaged you, and you were making sure that everybody felt supported. And, and so I don't know, I guess. So. This is my, my long way of saying that, you know, having good support is so important. And making sure that you you are allowing people the opportunity to do things, but also encouraging questions, right? Because I think, you know, especially as a newer developer, that asking questions can be really hard, because you don't know if you should ask questions, or, you know, if, if you're asking the right question, and in the same way here, I think allowing people the opportunity to ask questions, that's what makes us develop a better process, because it's not about you know, whether or not you know, something, it's about us making sure that it's clear for any person that comes into the room, that, that they can do this, because it doesn't make sense to, you know, depend on one or two people to do all of the things because if something happens, and it doesn't go on, like community is about community, right. And so, I think that, you know, I feel very good about like being able to refine this process. And so we can do this again.

Dan Ott:

Yeah, I've been, it's been interesting. In there's, there's a lot of similarities in my mind to just software, open source software, especially, where, you know, one of the things to figure out is, you know, if you're going to have like, when you're just developing something for yourself, it doesn't really matter how, you know, like, you can do it how you want and you don't have to make every decision, you know, clear and you don't have to, you know, write down specifically like how you do things or how you want things to be done, you know, but as soon as like if you want people to help you, right then then then you need to start writing some stuff down, right? And so this is like any open source project, if you want contributors, then you know, you need to decide, okay, like, what do you want them contributing to? And how, right and if, like, you care what code style they use, for instance, right, then you need to either write it down or automate it, right? I mean, like, you know, and, or decide that you don't care. You know, like, it, code has a nice thing where, like, especially if you're using GitHub, right, where you can do a pull request, right, so you can, like, start to, you know, start to figure out where you need to improve your docs or what you know, like, you know, discuss things and, you know, things like that. You don't always get that with not software. Right. And, and so yeah, so it just takes more communication, and more, talking more writing, things like that. Just a lot of work. But I think the reward is going to be, you know, worth any amount of, you know, work we can put into it, because it's just gonna make the community you know, like, the Virtual Coffee community is, like, amazing, because of all of the people like already doing amazing things, you know? And it's, I don't know, I feel like, we're in this cool place right now where it is, you know, we're trying to, like, work a bunch of things out, but everybody's, like, excited, we have people that are excited about helping and I can, you know, I don't know, you can, like see some, some really cool things coming down, coming down the line, you know, and a little bit. So I'm excited about the where, where we're heading with Virtual Coffee.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

Yeah, for sure. I mean, if you would have asked me a year ago, if we would still be doing Virtual Coffee. Number one, I would would have said no, like, I think this is gonna stop probably this summer, right. But we're still doing twice a week coffees, we have a newsletter, we have a podcast, we have a Twitter account, we've done lightning talks, we've done a million brown bags, like we now have project boards for things, you know, like, this is so far outside of anything that I could have dreamt up. And it's just so great, you know.

Dan Ott:

So I have a question for you. If you like, we're, I mean, I know, I sort of know the answer to this. But like, if you were like, okay, I want to create a community that has like, full of amazing people and does, like is producing these, like this content on their own and everything like that, but you're starting from scratch, you know, a year ago? Like, like, do you think it is even possible to do what we're doing? If you had this, like specific, like a specific, you know, thing in mind? Or, I'm not sure if this isn't really a very good question. Like, I'm not sure if you can follow what I'm asking or not. But when you started, it wasn't like, I'm building a community. Right? When you started it, you just wanted some people to talk to you, right?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

Be sad together.

Dan Ott:

Let me sit together. Alright, well, I'm glad you didn't call it, you know, be sad together club or something, but might have been a different community. But the the idea of I don't know, I said, I was gonna ask you a question that I just keep kept talking. But I guess what I was saying is like, the, the, a lot of the stuff that's happened has been happened, you know, organically. And that, like, organic creation versus like, a very, like goal, or, you know, driven like, goal oriented, you know, creation is it's kind of, you know, two different ways of doing things. And so I was, I guess I was just like, when I thought, you know, or if you've thought about that?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

Yeah, well, I think like, I've got two kinds of answers. Like, first of all, I'd never would have started Virtual Coffee. I think in any other circumstance, like, there were so many like the first, I don't know, probably six months. I can't tell you how many times I was like, I do not know why people keep coming to Virtual Coffee. Like, I don't think that I'm a great person to be like, talking to people or to be organizing these things. Like I there was just a lot of self doubt. And like, what what am I doing? There are certainly people here that could be doing this much better than I am and maybe I should just be like, "Hey, why don't you do this, because I'm just not that great at it." And so I think like, you know, if somebody was like, hey, I want to start a community, I would have been like, No way I don't have the skills for that I'm definitely not good enough to do that. And so I think like, outside of happening organically, it wouldn't have. Um, but at the same time, I'm also a planner, like, the last year of just constantly growing and pivoting and, um, has been a challenge for me, but I mean, a good one, right? Because like, I'm growing with it, I'm, I'm learning to let things go and to, you know, apologize when I need to, or not take a break, because I need to learn that one. But I, I like the idea of, of having thoughtful processes in place, that I can kind of follow into this thing. And, you know, one of the challenges too, when I finally recognized at Hacktoberfest, like okay, well, we're a thing, and we're not going anywhere. Um, maybe I should start thinking about, you know, what this should look like. And so diving into, I did like a deep dive into open source stuff. And I really felt like, okay, we are, we're, we're kind of an open source community, rather than, like an open source project, open source software, because we follow a lot of the same. I don't know, like guidelines or thought processes, everybody is contributing, we're giving our time. And we're all growing in a positive way because of it. And then I was looking at other communities, and I couldn't really find any, like Virtual Coffee, which was kind of like, "Oh, no, I don't have a model that I can look at." But also, like, Hey, you know what, we're doing something special here. And there's a reason why people are coming. And so trying to embrace that is has been, I don't know, like, really important to me. But also, I think that that's also one of the reasons why I could have never done it, because I would want to have had more guidelines. What am I supposed to be doing right now. Um, but I think like, we're on our way the lightning talks was huge. I mean, you put together like the project board and broke down issues and stuff. And that was just like, okay, so to be honest, anyone listening at first, I was very resistant to the project board.

Dan Ott:

That's true

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

I might have gotten a little bit upset about it and demanded, we stop project boards.

Dan Ott:

I just, I just I just said he didn't have to look at.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

But it turned out so good. We're able to organize and support through things. So like, if I, I think, could go back and start with the issues broken down and the project boards there, then that's like, right now where we are, I would have taken that and with that, um,

Dan Ott:

yeah, I mean, that's been a really interesting thing. I mean, for one thing is an experiment, you know, I don't, we're gonna meet and see how other people, you know, felt about them. I have found, like, when I'm, I don't know, on my own, I don't do any of this stuff, you know. But as soon as I'm trying to work with other people, I lose track of everything instantly. Like, it's just, I mean, that's how I mean, that is just how my brain you know, works or doesn't work. But I, the project boards, any, any sort of like, that board layout, you know, is very helpful for me to be able to visualize, like, what's going on, you know, and so I've been like, leaning on them with, excuse me with actually with your, you know, like our work, like our, our actual work work. And, and I thought it could work pretty well with some of this non code related, but, but still task related, you know, process like, like the lightning talks, right. So a lot of moving pieces, we had, you know, a big team of coordinators, and then also, obviously, the speakers you know, and a bunch of different steps, you know, involved and made a lot of help, and we had people helping us figure things out. So, I don't know so yeah, so it was like a, I'm glad you feel positive about them now. You know, I like it really was a lot of just me, you know, trying to make it so I can understand what was happening, you know, I keep track of all everything that was moving around. And I will see how it goes. You know, in the future I, you know, the I like the board layout in general for a lot of different things. And people have used them for, you know, I think we've talked about using, like making some roadmapy kind of things for Virtual Coffee, like, you know, some some wait some more ways to, like, even just communicate with the, with our members. With like, aside from just specific tasks and stuff like that, you know. So they're just built into GitHub, which we're, we're already using some, say there instead of Trello, or whatever. external tool, you know,

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

yeah. Yeah, I will say, I think, you know, the other thing, too, that's been challenging, not having thought through this community is, we hit that point where, probably in October, it wasn't just like, I need to think about what's happening right now in Virtual Coffee, but it was thinking about right now and what's coming down the line for Virtual Coffee. So you talked about, like, you know, having this this roadmap thing, and I think it'd be awesome, if we can get that up and out there. Because there's, like, so much thought that's going into, you know, how do we support what we have now, but how do we put things in place to support where we're probably going to go?

Dan Ott:

Yeah. Yeah, I know, I think it's gonna be good. Um, before we wrap up, I thought maybe we just like, can share a couple of our favorite things that that happened through the year. I mean, we talked about some of the big things. But there's a lot of small moments in there, you know, to over the last over the last year, or almost a year. I was, you know, we were talking about the first lightning talks. And, you know, when I was thinking about the, this, this question, one of my favorite ones was actually Karen's lightning talk from the, you know, her first time out, and it was just like, it, it was sort of, I think, her first public speaking. And it was, I don't know, it was just a great talk, it was great watching her, I knew she'd been working really hard on preparing and, you know, this lightning talk stuff was just like, so crazy, you know, very fast pace. And, you know, I was behind the scenes, kind of doing the controller stuff, but I was also trying to watch, you know, most of them, and then I don't know, Karen just started talking about is like, kind of stopped and just like, sat back and watched. And she was talking about imposter syndrome. And, and, as related to tech, I think, and shared a bunch of her, like, a lot of her personal career and story. And, like, that is just, like, stuck with me, you know, as one of the things that I look back on a lot, and you know, feel very good, I feel very good about. And it's like, it's the easy, that is the thing that pops in my head first when I think like, when when someone's like, Okay, well, you know, there's cool things that happen in Virtual Coffee. And then this is probably a little recency bias. But similarly, in our last lightning talks, Glenn did a talk about transitioning to being a manager from being a sort of regular developer, and it was in a similar vein, a very personal, you know, story. And, and, and he, you know, there weren't slides or anything, Glenn just kind of shared with us and talk through some, some different, you know, things to think about, and how they affected him personally. And then. And again, it was just like, this moment of, sort of, I don't know, calm and, you know, like calm reflection and sharing that I feel like those to stick my brain because, like, we have moments like this a lot in just the coffee's to like all the time every week or twice a week. But you know, of people just sort of taking a minute and just talking, you know, and sharing and not about whatever tech thing is happening and not necessarily about any sort of specific advice or anything like that, but more just, I don't know, sharing experiences and how they've, like reflected on them and you know, have they've sort of how their experiences have shaped their, you know, current situation and I always just appreciate those moments. When I'm when I get them, you know,

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

yeah, I really love I do love quiet moments are really really impactful. I think for me, you know, just hearing people thanking each other or not even one of my favorite moment moments, I think was at the end of the first monthly challenge was in November. And I just thought, okay, November is NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, okay, and so I don't even know, it was a couple days before then, like, we're gonna run this monthly challenge. And we're gonna ask everybody to work together to write 50,000 words, because the challenge is, for one person to write 50,000 words during the month, like, maybe we can all do this together. Um, and so, people, we didn't hit 50,000 words, but like, being able to hear what everybody was talking about, and people saying that, Oh, yeah, I haven't written, like some people wrote their first blog post, some people hadn't written in a long time. And the only reason they did was for the challenge, and then also just seeing everybody just willingly to willing to support each other and to share, and then to be like, what's next month's challenge? Like, okay, this is, you know, a really wonderful, small thing that we did to create community and to see everybody looking at each other's blog posts and saying, I'd love this thing that you wrote there was really special. And in the same way, I think, you know, anytime somebody comments on the podcast, or they give their favorite quote from the podcast, those are also a lot of my favorite moments. Because, you know, they're, they're listening to what people have to say, and they're like, wow, this really stuck with me. And I know, probably after every episode we've done, there's been one thing that every person, every guest, we've had, has said, that I have thought about the rest of the week. And it's been so great to, you know, have that and to have that personal connection. So, yeah, like all of the I mean, there have been so many great moments, but just those those unexpected ones, I think, are the ones that, that I just kind of like, keep close to my heart.

Dan Ott:

Yeah. I I agree. I it's just been kind of it's been. I mean, it's been, it's gonna say it's been a great year. It hasn't. I mean, it hasn't it hasn't, you know, but I don't know. It's there's like you were saying before, it's weird to say, it's been a great year, because it's really been at a lot of awful things happen this year. But this Virtual Coffee is very clearly, you know, one of the good things that has come out of office.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

Yeah, for sure.

Dan Ott:

All right. Well, we're going to take a couple weeks break. Well, a few weeks, I guess. And I think we're going to do four seasons. year, when we were talking about this Bekah asked if you could have four seasons in a year. And I said, Well, I think there are four seasons. But

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

I just learned something new four seasons in Ohio at least.

Dan Ott:

Yeah, we have winter, fake spring, second winter, fake spring again, third winter, and then spring for a couple of weeks, and then it's 90 degrees. That's really how it is in Cleveland. But yeah, so we will be back. Well, season two will start first week of April and

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

right in time for one year anniversary. Whatever. One year, one year.

Dan Ott:

It's an anniversary? I don't know whatever. No, I

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

was. Yeah, I'm having a hard time with that

Dan Ott:

one year celebration.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

we've been around for a year.

Dan Ott:

In the meantime, if you would like us to answer any questions, or I don't know, send us any thoughts or suggestions. Feel free to email us at podcast@Virtualcoffee.io I believe we're on Twitter, and other things. Are we?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel:

Yeah, we are on LinkedIn, Twitter, you can hit us up on Twitter @VirtualCoffeeio. And that's really a great place to ask shorter questions. Or if you want to say hi, you can come to coffee on Tuesday or Thursday.

Dan Ott:

Thanks again for listening to the Virtual Coffee podcast. This episode was produced by Bekah Hawrot Weigel and Dan Ott. Please remember to subscribe and leave reviews wherever you get your podcasts and we will see you in April. Bye


The Virtual Coffee Podcast is produced by Dan Ott and Bekah Hawrot Weigel and edited by Dan Ott.