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Building Effective Developer Communities with Bekah Hawrot Weigel

Building developer communities is hard. You don’t just have to get someone’s attention — you also have to give them a reason to stay.

It’s also hard from the developer’s side. Finding the right community — one that if informative, engaging, and a good personal fit — can be difficult to identify with so many options.

In this episode, Sean and Bekah explore what it takes to build and find effective developer communities.

Featured Guest

Bekah graduated from the Flatiron School Software Engineering program in May of 2019 and since then has spent time as a frontend developer, started the Virtual Coffee tech community, and spent time in DevRel. She currently moms her four kids, co-hosts the Virtual Coffee and podcasts, works as the Developer Experience Lead at OpenSauced, and lifts heavy things in her free time.

Hosted by

Sean is a tinkerer and a teacher. He is driven to learn by doing (often failing) and loves passing those learnings onto others who may find them beneficial.


Sean C Davis 0:02
Welcome to another uptime FM episode. I’m your host, Sean C Davis. And today I’m going to be joined by Becca, who is the creator and maintainer of the virtual coffee developer community. And please excuse my super low voice, I’m fighting off a bit of a cold, want to talk a little quieter, and hopefully it will hang on with me for the entire hour or so. Now today, we’re going to spend our whole session on the intricacies of creating and maintaining developer communities just like virtual coffee. And as somebody who’s tried and failed to create maintainable communities a few different times throughout my career, I can say that it takes a lot of work. And that’s why I’m really excited to have Becca here. Welcome to the show, Becca.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 0:40
Hey, thanks so much for having me.

Sean C Davis 0:43
Really excited for this now. I know that consistency is one thing that it’s like a really crucial ingredient to building a successful community. And the one thing I can say about this show is that we’ve been consistent in starting every episode the same way. And that is with the same question. What is the best sandwich? So I’d love to hear your answer.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 1:04
It is definitely a buffalo chicken sandwich spiciness. Throw some pickled and onions on there. Maybe some bacon if you’re feeling extra adventurous, and a good bun.

Sean C Davis 1:16
Oh, amazing. Okay, so the is the chicken. Does it have to be fried?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 1:20
It you can’t you can have grilled. But if you really want the best sandwich, it has to be fried.

Sean C Davis 1:28
Yes, yes. Okay. And do you now like, are you making this at home? Or do you have this one restaurant that makes the best buffalo chicken sandwich?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 1:38
That’s a good question. There have been a lot of good buffalo chicken sandwiches I’ve had in my life. And there was this one spicy chicken sandwich that there was a recipe in Bon Appetit Magazine one year, and it was spot on perfect. It was like buttermilk breaded. There were bread and butter pickles on there, which generally I don’t like but it like contrasted with the spiciness and the sauce. And that’s probably the all time best sandwich.

Sean C Davis 2:05
Amazing. Okay, in what did they put? Like? I’ve seen some times, blue cheese crumbles put on there. Was there any sort of cheese element?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 2:14
Um, I don’t think actually, I think that there was a coleslaw on there. And there were the bread and butter pickles. And there was a male based sauce, I think. But I have had a really good buffalo chicken sandwich with blue cheese in there. So that’s, that’s pretty, pretty high up there as well.

Sean C Davis 2:30
Okay, amazing. That’s a new one for this show. And I have to say I, I am a big fan of buffalo chicken sandwiches. So I’m, I’m glad that’s your answer. Nice. All right. Now, I’ve been really excited for this show. Because community building, it’s something that I’ve been, I’ve either LED or have an art of, at various times in the last decade or so. And even the ones that have been fairly successful had been really, really hard. It’s been a lot of work. And the example that I’ll keep coming back to, and so I thought it would probably be good to start with giving folks who aren’t really familiar with it. Maybe a brief introduction is like, what what is virtual coffee?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 3:16
Yeah, sure. Thanks. So virtual coffee is a group of developers at all stages of the coding journey. And we meet a couple of times a week. So we really prioritize the importance of seeing each other face to face and hearing each other’s voices as a first experience. So to become part of virtual coffee, you have to attend one of our Tuesday or Thursday coffee sessions. And we think that that has done a really great job of promoting connectedness, understanding of each other and getting an introduction into who we are as a community because we’re here to support each other and to grow together. And that’s something that we find to be really special.

Sean C Davis 3:55
Okay, okay. So yeah, that was, that was one attribute of virtual coffee that I thought was really interesting, because some people will take the approach of like, I want more people. I want as many people as I can get. And so membership is open. And that was one of the first things I noticed about virtual coffee is that it’s closed, you have to join a waitlist first. And so it sounds like you took the path of we’re going to have fewer people so that we’ll have more engagement with those people or is more there are other motivations there.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 4:29
Yeah, we so we’re really run by the help of all of our volunteers. And so first and foremost, we want to make sure that we can support our volunteers. And secondly, we want to be able to support our existing community members. So for us, it becomes really hard to scale, that intimate experience and that closeness that you have together, which fosters an environment where people are more likely to be open, vulnerable, willing to share with each other willing to mentor at all different stages. Just and so for us, it just became kind of a natural evolution of where we were, as we started to grow pretty quickly to make sure that we put we supported the existing community. Because although we know that communities grow and change their living and breathing, and it’s going to look different every single year, every single day, at its core, that intimacy is what allows us to do what we do.

Sean C Davis 5:26
Okay, so it didn’t start that way. It started as an open community.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 5:29
Well, okay, yeah. So it was I accidentally started it. During the pandemic, I had lost my job right after my kids were sent home from school. They said, Come pick up their books, they’re going to take a break for three weeks, they never went back that year. And so I found myself kind of interviewing for the first time because my first job, it was a conversation, there was, hey, this seems like a good fit for both of us. So let’s see how this works out. And it worked out great for eight months, and then the pandemic hit, and we lost work. And so I was going through this whole experience and feeling like every night I was just I was crying, like, what am I doing? You know, can I even do this? Does it make sense and the whole world is in who knows what, you know, it was such chaos in those early days. And I thought, you know, I had gone through trauma before, which is led me to my career in tech. And I thought, you know, what, I know this feeling. This is a feeling I had when I went through trauma. And I felt really isolated then. And I’ve learned since then, that being isolated is not where you want to be in those moments. And the entire world was going through a trauma together, I wasn’t by myself, for sure. And so I put it out on Twitter, does anybody want to meet for virtual coffee. And so we started doing once a week, and then some people on the west coast were like, hey, we want to meet too. But 9am is too early. So then I started doing double sessions. And then people just kept asking for new things. And people started volunteering to help. So you know what, what started as an informal get together became this beautiful community, we started doing events together, we did hack Tober fest that year. And that really kind of like solidified that feeling of we’re all here to support each other and to grow together, in recognizing that the intimacy was a huge component of what made that it’s such a special place.

Sean C Davis 7:19
Hmm, okay, so when, along that journey Did you hit this point where you’re like, This is too much, it’s growing too fast, we have to do something about it.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 7:29
Um, it was probably over a little year, a little over a year ago, and we knew it, like we kept seeing it and saying, like, oh, you know, maybe we should figure this out, but not wanting to stop anything, because we all wanted to make sure that we can, you know, be there for everybody who needed somebody. And it got to the point where I think our volunteers, you could kind of see volunteer fatigue happening. And we don’t want to do that, you know, we want to protect our volunteers and make sure that we can support them and also to empower the existing community members. So a lot of times what happens is, somebody might not volunteer, but you reach out to them. And they, they say, like, Oh, I was really nervous. And so I wasn’t sure if I could do this thing. But, you know, I know that you asked me, and I know that I have your support, then I’m gonna go ahead, and I’ll volunteer, and we’ll see how it goes. And so it allowed us to do some more of that to give our volunteers a break, make sure that there wasn’t so much pressure on them, and also to help support new volunteers coming into different roles.

Sean C Davis 8:33
Okay, okay. So how does that work today, or I guess what I’m trying to say is, what is the logic or the process that you use to take someone off the waitlist today and invite them into the community.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 8:48
So there’s two different ways you can become a member of virtual coffee. And the first way is, every active volunteer gets an invite every month. And so they can extend their invite to somebody that they know. And that that invite gets to automatic automatically gets an invite to virtual coffee. And then the second way to become a member is to join the waitlist. And we try and prioritize bringing in a diverse group of people with different backgrounds at different stages. And make sure MC and we try to make sure that we can maintain a supportive environment. So that means, you know, if we have 50 folks to apply to get in, and they’re all brand new to coding, we know that that’s going to require a lot more support, because community members are they’re often asking for mentorship or have a lot of questions, and we want to be able to support them as well. But that has to be balanced with somebody who’s able to give time and support that and so there’s a lot of different factors that go into it. But that’s a lot of what we take into consideration.

Sean C Davis 9:52
Okay, that yeah, that it seems like a really thoughtful process. Now backing up for a moment when you When I’m going to create a side project of my own, regardless of what it is, I’m, I’m often thinking, like, sometimes I’m just doing it for fun, but might also think about the goals. Like if this goes really well, you know, maybe I can sell it or it can become a full time thing, or whatever that might be. is, what’s the thought process going into creating a community? Do you? I mean, do you have goals? And if so, what what are those goals?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 10:28
Our goals are really, I think your past your cuff to me, hold on? Oh, no, oh, no. Our goals are just to continually support our community members and to evolve with them. And so to really understand what the needs are to have a in, well, I was gonna say, an ear to the ground, I think that’s a phrase really have that interaction with folks who are in the community to see, you know, what direction do they want to be going in? And how can we support them in doing that thing? And so I was laid off a couple of weeks ago, what I love to do virtual coffee full time? Absolutely. One of the challenges of having a small community is it’s it’s a lot harder to do get things like sponsorships, because the audience is smaller, although I would argue that maybe it’s a more impactful and effective audience because you have very engaged members who are interested in learning and growing together. But that’s, that’s a different story. So I would say, you know, right now we’re, we always prioritize supporting what the needs of the members are. So like, for example, one of our members wanted to start a small group, we call our small groups, coffee table groups, on Fridays, called feeling Fridays. And so we have that set that session set up for him to be running this Friday for the first time. And we always want to make sure that there’s space for people to lead and a capacity that they feel they’re able to.

Sean C Davis 12:01
Okay, okay. And I actually hadn’t thought about sponsorship before, like, if you if you were wanting to do this full time, do you have existing sponsors or funding in any way today?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 12:12
Yeah, so currently, we have GitHub sponsors set up for our organization, and pretty much all of the money that we have that goes to support our infrastructure needs comes through those sponsorships?

Sean C Davis 12:25
And is that something that you’re going to try to grow? Or is it your, like, do you push that actively, or it’s just kind of a nice thing to have on the side?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 12:34
Um, we, I wouldn’t say we push it actively, but maybe ask our members and see what they think about that. I think that we, we have all of our sponsors on the front, on our homepage of our website, if you scroll to the bottom, you can see who’s sponsoring us. We just got a logo sponsor, I think it was last week, open sourced is sponsoring us, and which has been really great. We have different events that folks can sponsor or our podcast, things like that. And it’s definitely one of those things that we’ve considered putting some more time and effort into reaching out to folks to see if they’re willing to sponsor something if it’s in line with their mission, or if there’s a way that we can partner together.

Sean C Davis 13:15
And that’s one where it’s interesting, you said, it might not be as appealing? Because you don’t you don’t have the sheer volume. But I think that’s kind of an interesting thing as you I’m guessing you would have to then do a little bit more work in selling that sponsorship directly. But your pitch isn’t like, yeah, you you get to reach 100,000 people, it’s Hey, everybody you reach is actively paying attention and is going to listen to the message that you have.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 13:41
Right? They’re probably going to remember you.

Sean C Davis 13:44
Right, exactly. Yeah. It’s super interesting. Okay. Now, in terms of keeping up with folks and it in like the the meeting spot beyond the events, you have a Slack community, is that right?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 14:00
Yeah, so primarily, everything is run in Slack. We also do things like lunch and learns and have the podcasts and the newsletter and our small interest groups, our coffee table group. So there’s a lot of ways to interact. But all of our events are run through our Slack currently.

Sean C Davis 14:16
And is, so is when you don’t have a specific event happening is slack. That does it tend to be pretty active in there.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 14:24
It is pretty active. And we also have a co working room that’s open all the time. So there’s a Slack channel for co working and folks can jump in there at any time. It’s always open. They can go in there to do pair programming, just to chat with other folks to work quietly, basically, whatever needs of the people who are in there.

Sean C Davis 14:44
Did you have to? Did you have to do anything? You know? Well, yeah, what I’m trying to think of the right way to phrase this did the slack activity happen as a byproduct of other or other attributes or other events, like different things that you were doing? Or is it something that you had to really engage with regularly as the community leader to get the conversation happening in Slack?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 15:14
So I didn’t really want to slack to be honest with you, when we started to get people kept asking for it. And we’re like, oh, I don’t know, if we need a slack. And for a long time, I really thought, like, Oh, this is a pandemic thing, the pandemic is going to be over in a couple months, and then nobody will want to do this anymore. And you know that that turned out a lot differently. But, you know, also, at some point, I recognize that I’m a mom, I have four kids, I’m a career changer. I went to boot camp, I live in a small town, there’s not really opportunities for me, especially when I was learning to go meet other developers. And so I felt really isolated in those situations. And I don’t know why it took me so long to figure it out. But I finally was like, oh, you know what, maybe meeting online like this is really something that extends beyond the pandemic, and people would want to engage in this way. So, you know, once that finally hit, somebody else started the slack for me, they they did the nice thing of like, giving me the little push, like, Well, okay, I’ll just do it. I’ll set it all up, like, Okay, we’re good. And then, you know, people have been actively engaged since then.

Sean C Davis 16:15
That’s great. Yeah, that’s, and that’s really interesting, because I feel like a lot of communities will begin as slack or discord first, like, here’s this place, that you can just come and chat. And as a, as somebody who’s, I’ve, I’m not super active in a lot of them. But I have I have a lot of accounts in these various teams on both slack and discord. And actually, I find it really difficult to, I kind of I find it a little bit overwhelming, I end up not really being involved in almost any of them, because there are so many of them. And I don’t know which ones to pay attention to. How do you think about that from not from the leader perspective, but as someone who has to navigate all of these different communities? What advice do you have for folks who are trying to do that in in? You know, like, how many should we find? How should we be looking? What’s the what’s the best way to approach us?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 17:17
Yeah, I think first and foremost, if you’re looking for community, find the one that works for you. And so it and I also want to say that sometimes that community is going to change, you know, maybe you’re part of virtual coffee, and it suits your needs for a long time. And then suddenly, you kind of think like, maybe this is not the community for me, it there is no shame in in leaving a community, right, like people grow and change. And I think that communities should be able to recognize that and it’s bittersweet, right? Like, you want your members to be around, and you’re going to miss them when they’re gone. But you also have to recognize like, this is what’s best for them. And it’s important for them to, you know, be able to pursue the things that work best for them. And I in the in the same way. I think that it’s important for community leaders to reach out to folks who haven’t been around in a while and see, like, Hey, is something up? Are you doing okay? Just to, you know, make sure that everybody does feel supported, and they know that, that they’re being missed when they’re gone. But so I would say kind of think about what you’re looking for in a community. And it’s similar to the way that you choose friends, you know, sometimes the one that that might seem the most obvious is not the friend for you, or, you know, somebody, like most of my best friends have been very outgoing extroverts, which is not something that I consider myself like, I’m often a shy introvert. And so initially, I’m like, why are you talking to me, right. And then, you know, a couple months later, we’re best friends. And so, you know, give your community time, I think, to be able to show its full self to you to get an understanding of whether or not this is a safe and welcoming space for you. And if it suits the needs that you have.

Sean C Davis 19:04
I love that metaphor with friends. When you were explaining that my mind jumped right to it sounds a lot like managing an engineer that like, okay, my job as your engineering manager is to make sure that you can succeed. But there’s also no matter where you are, there’s boundaries, or at least there’s probably a ceiling to your capabilities. And if I’m going to be the most effective manager I can be it’s also going to be it, it feels like a kind of a two way, two way road, like on one side. I’m going to try to push the organization harder to make more space for you. And on the other side, I need to recognize when you’ve hit that ceiling, and then help you find the next thing for you.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 19:54
Yeah, I think that’s a great way of looking at it.

Sean C Davis 19:58
So So you’ve mentioned that you have folks in all different types of backgrounds and different levels of experience. I usually save type these types of questions for the last segment, but I hadn’t written this one down and just kind of popped in my head. And that was, Do you have any, any stories that you really would love to share of? I don’t know, where where virtual coffee has helped transform someone or help someone nail a job? Are there any that that really stick out to you?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 20:33
Yeah, so there’s, there’s one, there’s a couple of different stories that I really like. And I think that, you know, it might be a little bit more natural to see how communities support people who are entry level, or who are early career folks, you know, there’s a lot of mentoring that happens as part of virtual coffee, people have found jobs through the connections that they’ve had. But some of the stories that I think maybe would be less obvious are for people who are more senior in their, in their roles, and haven’t been a part of a community before. And so I’ll give two examples. And, and one was somebody who had been in a more senior role. And I encouraged them to speak during one of our sessions of lightning talks. And I think, to that point, he hadn’t given a talk before, or maybe this was early, and I was actually kind of surprised, because I was encouraging him to do it. And I think he felt a little bit nervous, right. And for me, I’ve come a long way. My background is in teaching, I taught college English for 10 years. So speaking, just always seemed natural to me. And my husband’s a second career developer as well. And he was always speaking at conferences, so I just thought, like, everybody spoke at. So it was like, a little bit naive, trying to get people like, Oh, where are people volunteering for this? Anyway, so he ended up speaking, he did a phenomenal job. And that conversation led him to be connected to someone else I had been to a conference with and then he ended up landing a new job that he initially he hadn’t been looking for when he started virtual coffee. Through that speaking experience, he talked about being a speaker during the interview process. So that’s the first one and the second one we have. We there’s a guy that goes to virtual coffee as well, and teas has a phenomenal career in he was a math teacher, and then he worked at IBM, he worked at Microsoft. Now he owns his own company. And I think it was not this past October, but the previous HEC Tober fest, he got involved in open source contributions, and he hadn’t contributed before. So this was the very first time he was contributing to open source despite having this amazing career. And I remember he asked for mentorship. And I thought, Who am I going to pair him with? He’s He’s outstanding in everything that he does, right? And so I really thought about it. And we had some mentors who had volunteered. But there was one person in particular that I thought like, you know what, I think that they would be a really great pairing for each other. And I was able to pair them both up. And it was a really great experience for both of them as far as they’ve shared, and he completed hacktoberfest. So to me, those two kind of stand out above all of the other ones, because they’re they’re not the stories that you typically hear.

Sean C Davis 23:24
That’s amazing. Yes, yes, it definitely don’t hear about communities transforming senior developers lives. Like that’s, that’s amazing. And I think also goes to show that there’s, there’s always space to learn and to grow, even when it feels like we might be experts in the thing that we get paid to do every day.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 23:44
Yeah, for sure. There’s, I don’t think that there’s ever a place where you can’t improve.

Sean C Davis 23:51
Yes, yes. Love that. Okay, so before we transition into the last segment, I wanted to ask you a little bit about the events that you that you run, and this is coming from Brian Rinaldi and I had CFE talk all the time about events because the CFP is a very events focused community. But and we’re always like, we’d love to do this and this and this and so many great ideas, but we know to execute them, you really have to, I mean, you’ve got to put all your attention and then if you’re going to expand any more people, etc. So I’m, I’m curious, maybe maybe first, how did you come to choose the events or event types that you did?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 24:36
Well, I think that the face to face coffees happened first and then just became like, the the keystone of everything that we’re doing, you know, it was that positive first interaction and understanding of each other. And then as we started to grow, and we recognize that it was important for everybody to be able to learn and grow together and to be able to take risks in doing things that they might not normally do because there’s a safe community here. And so thinking about okay, well, what what does that mean? How can we support people and somebody, I think it was get Laborde from Infinite red said, Hey, why don’t we do this interview series. And so we started these lunch and learns. I don’t, I don’t think that we started Lunch and Learns before we might have. So both dant Laborde and Brian Healy, were instrumental. And in pushing the luncheon learns forward, where we had people who were learning from each other, but also, maybe someone hadn’t given a talk before, or maybe somebody learned a new skill, and they wanted to be able to share that in a different way. And then we can go forward, do that together, do it in a supportive environment. And then all of those videos go up on our YouTube channel. So you know, you’re in a safe space, you’re in a zoom with everybody that you know, from virtual coffee. So you don’t really have to worry about, you know, other other people that you’re not sure of their. And then afterward, you still get that same spotlight through YouTube and being able to reshare and repost that.

Sean C Davis 26:05
So do you, is there anything that you have to do when you’re deciding to take on a new event like lunch and learns? Or you also said you have lightning talks sometimes? Do you not want to start something until you know that it that it can last for you know, X number of sessions or whatever it might be? Are you okay? Starting something, trying it, killing it, if it needs to, if it needs to go away?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 26:33
I feel like that’s one of my weaknesses, I just want to try all of the things. And so this year, I’m trying to figure out like, Okay, where can we prioritize the things that people are most interested in doing? But you know, I think like that goes back to one of the things that you said in the initial part of this conversation, which is consistency is key, right. And so sometimes, especially with community, it might take a little while to see is this thing effective. But as long as you’re doing it, you’re providing consistency, you’re giving people an opportunity to respond to interact and partake in that thing for a while then at that test should probably last a while before you decide that you want to kill it. Or maybe you can evaluate the parts of it that really are working and say, Hey, this part of it is working. And but this other part needs to be reevaluated maybe there’s a different way that we can implement this thing. And that’s actually some of the stuff that we’re going through right now of virtual coffee, just kind of taking an overall inventory of the things that we’re doing and figuring out the best way to support our members through those things.

Sean C Davis 27:37
You have a sense of how how long you have to wait until you get that signal of the thing is working or isn’t working? Or does it depend on the thing?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 27:47
I think it really depends on the thing. And it depends on who your audience is, if you’re starting cold, you haven’t had interaction with an audience prior to the event that you’re implementing, then it’s going to take longer, if you’ve built up some momentum, and you’re kind of riding forward and you see that people are tapering off, then there’s a little bit of a good indication that maybe that’s not the right thing. And I think that as part of that trying to provide space for feedback at all times can be really valuable resource. Yes, sometimes it can be hard to sort through all of that feedback. But recognizing that people know there’s a clear path of communication where they can talk to you about the things that they liked, talk about the things that they didn’t like, I think it can be really instrumental in making those decisions.

Sean C Davis 28:35
Getting that qualitative feedback is is huge. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, and that really resonates with me, in particular, for this show where we started it, then we said, well, we’ll just see how it goes. It’s something I want to do, also is a way just to meet people who are playing in the same space as me. And we’ve seen it grow very slowly, but also, steadily. So to me, it’s, it’s a signal of, okay, something is happening, and it’s okay, we’re not trying to go viral with this thing. We have a certain set of goals. And as long as we’re meeting those seems like it’s, we’ll just keep doing it, then as long as it’s fun, also. And so it sounds like there’s some parallel to the way that you look at the different aspects of virtual coffee.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 29:24
Yeah, for sure. And that’s, I think we’re currently on season seven of the podcast, and it’s very much what you just said there, right? Like, oh, want to start a podcast. Okay. Let’s start a podcast. And, you know, here we are, still have listeners. And one of my favorite things is when somebody submits their member form to join, and it there’s a question that says, How did you find out about virtual coffee and oh, I listened to the podcast all the time. Like, alright, somebody’s listening.

Sean C Davis 29:49
Amazing. Amazing. Yes. Great to get those messages. Okay. Well, actually, that’s a great segue because I do have a couple of podcast questions in our last segment. So we’ll use this as the transition period, because I feel like I could just talk about this all day, so many questions. So our last segment here is going to be a series of nine short questions and answers. And yeah, you can you can pass if you want to that those are the only rules. So you’re ready. Okay. Okay. Okay, so question number one, aside from virtual coffee. Is there a another developer community that you’re a part of, or one that you particularly really love?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 30:30
I love learn Bill teach. I think that James quick does a great job of supporting his members there and doing lots of different things in providing content that kind of enriches their experience.

Sean C Davis 30:42
Hmm, yes, that’s what he’s he’s a great content creator to love James.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 30:47
Yeah, he’s fantastic. I’ve met him quite a few times. And I’m always glad to have that interaction with him. He’s just so positive and the kind of person that makes you feel confident after having a conversation.

Sean C Davis 30:58
100% Yes, totally agree. Okay, number two. So, you I think it says in your Twitter bio, that you’re a mom of four kids. Is that right? Yeah, four. Yeah. Okay. So,

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 31:10
Taylor Taylor doesn’t says I have like seven or eight. It’s not.

Sean C Davis 31:14
Okay. Well, if it’s four, we’ll say what’s the hardest part about having four kids?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 31:22
Well, that’s a hard question. I think. Well, sometimes when they’re all in the car at the same time, and they’re all yelling, that’s hard. Finding something everyone likes to eat for dinner, that’s also hard. But, um, you know, like, really being able to reflect and enjoy the stages that each of them are in can be really challenging. And it’s something that I’m trying to do more and more every day, because they’re all in very different stages. I have six, 811, and 13. And sometimes it can feel really chaotic. And it I need to really be mindful about how much I appreciate all of the different parts of their personalities that are developing and how that brings us together as a family.

Sean C Davis 32:06
Oh, that was such a great and thoughtful answer. And I just saw a comment from Brian Rinaldi come through it said, I only have two and it’s hard. And that was the that was immediately the first thing I thought of two, I only have two. They’re both little right now. But what you said about food totally resonated with me. I’m making dinner. I’m like, why am I making three meals for four people? This is absurd.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 32:28
Yep. Yep. I feel that wholeheartedly has not gotten any better. I think it might be the Comedian Jim Gaffigan. I think he has five kids. And somebody asked, like, what’s it like to have five kids? And he was like, uh, Matt, imagine you’re drowning with four kids and someone throws in another?

Sean C Davis 32:44
I feel that. Yeah. Yeah. That’s great. I love that. Okay, number three, also apparent type of question. Is there something that being a developer or maybe being a technical person that you take that you feel like you use or that affects the way that you parent in some way?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 33:05
I yeah, we’re really technology driven households, I think. And so there are certainly things I’ve set up Trello boards for my kids to help them organize their schoolwork and they’re housework, right? My oldest is being homeschooled right now. And my husband has introduced him to chat GPT. And we have a family discord. And my eight year old was asking for a chat GPT account the other day, he’s like, Please give me an account. But I think that, you know, the biggest thing is like, we’re very curious about different things. And I think that’s something that’s really important, as a developer to be curious about learning lots of new things and doing exploring, and don’t be afraid of these new things. Just get an understanding and allow yourself some time to play with it before you make a judgment call on that. So that’s probably the the biggest takeaway I have.

Sean C Davis 34:00
Okay, okay. Now, you mentioned you had a, you have a family discord, is this just the six of you or do you have other other folks involved? It is the is the six of us?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 34:09
Yes. And so it’s a lot of my eight year old sending, I taught him how to send GIFs and I also taught him how to copy and paste like shortcut is amazing. The other day, he was telling someone he was like, Yeah, I know how to copy and paste now like,

Sean C Davis 34:22
huge accomplishment. Amazing. Yeah, insane. Cat GIFs. My, my family started all using slack. And I think 2015 or so it’s been a long time. But it was, it was like there was one day where I was getting, I got like, three or four different. It was the same conversation spread across three or four different email subject or email threads, all coming from my mom. And I was like, This has to stop. This has to stop. I want to see if I can get everybody in Slack. And it was a game changer. So I feel like good move for the long term. Yeah,

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 34:59
I’ve been trying to convinced my family my like extended family to take up slack for that very reason. There are so many different like, text threads and I can never find the right one that has the information that I need in the moment like please can we just please try slack?

Sean C Davis 35:14
Yes, yes, yes. Okay, so number four, what is your most enjoyable non tech activity,

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 35:22
lifting weightlifting? Every morning, that’s what I do. And it brings me joy, I laugh with the same group of people that I work out with every day. And I take out all of my feelings on my on the weights, and it’s just great. I love it.

Sean C Davis 35:40
Are you doing more for exercise or actually like? Trying is it like strength training or more just to exercise?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 35:49
It’s it’s strength training. I really like I like to see the winds, right, which is easy when you’re measuring it by the amount of weight that you can lift. So I think October we usually do squat Tober, which is maxing out on squats. December is dead December for deadlifts. So I’m always trying to find some way to lift more weight.

Sean C Davis 36:11
That’s amazing. And it’s very objective. Right, you know, you know if you’re getting better or not,

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 36:16
yeah, or injured. That’s your body. Let’s you know,

Sean C Davis 36:18
that’s, that’s true. Right. Okay, here, here come the podcast questions. This is kind of a two parter. So I actually did just see that you’re on season seven of the podcast, which is amazing. And so we’ll start with number five, what is the most difficult part about running a podcast?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 36:42
Um, I think, you know, I’ve grown a lot since we started the podcast. And so initially, it was I would come up with a list of questions, which I still use do have questions. But I really want to be able to tell the stories of the people who are on the podcast and share things that they’re interested in sharing. So I really want it to be driven by their stories. And so trying to find a way to do them justice and make sure that they’re adequately represented on the podcast is something that can be it can be really challenging, but the great thing is we interview members of our community. So I know everybody that comes on the podcast, which is kind of like a cheat code to be able to jump into it and to feel comfortable with people. But you know, sometimes it’s like, overcoming those nerves to get them started telling that story or finding the right storyline to tell.

Sean C Davis 37:37
Yeah, I can i That totally resonates with me of preparing even if preparing for this episode. It’s like, okay, I got to do a little bit of internet research on Becca. So I can ask them questions that are relevant to not just virtual coffee as well. Yeah. challenging, but also, I feel like, when you put the effort in it, it comes out in the show feels like it’s, for me personally, it’s a lot easier to connect with that other person.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 38:02
Yeah, absolutely. I and to be able to pivot to I, I think that it took me a while to move away from that list of questions and say, like, Hey, we’re going in this direction, just just go go in that direction.

Sean C Davis 38:17
Mm hmm. Exactly. Okay, number six, then the inverse. What do you like the most about running the podcast?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 38:27
I this is it’s like, selfish of me. But I get to have these one on one conversations. Well, my co host is there with me. But like we have this basically conversation with this one other person. And it allows me to learn so much from them and ask them questions and learn from them in those situations. And so for me, I’ve learned a ton through all of our conversations. And so it’s great to be able to, you know, ask the questions that I may have been dying to ask.

Sean C Davis 39:00
Okay, I like that. Number seven. So, I feel like this has happened a few times in the last couple of months, I come across this event. And I see that you’re speaking at the event. So I’d see that you’ve like you, you have done a lot of talks. Is there one of those tech talks that has been more memorable than the rest for you?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 39:25
I just gave my first keynote in January at that conference on the power of storytelling, and it was it was magical. I don’t know how else to explain it. I get very, very nervous before I speak. And I was there with a lot of people that I knew a lot of new people that I met but just being able to stand on that stage and have that experience was you know, a dream come true.

Sean C Davis 39:53
That’s amazing. Okay, I I think that was one of the ones I came across where it’s like, oh, yeah, Beck Beck is giving a keynote here. And and then I the I think they just came out with their CFC fps for the July one. So I applied there and hopefully I’ll end up with that one. So see

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 40:13
ya Lucia who’s in the chat is keynoting that conference. So go Lucia.

Sean C Davis 40:18
Oh amazing. Amazing. All right. Okay, two more. Number eight is what is the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 40:32
The biggest mistake has probably been not having hard conversations when I should. And it’s something that I’ve been working on, especially over the last couple of years. We read radical candor early on in virtual coffee as part of the book club. And it was kind of eye opening for me, because the the takeaway there is that sometimes we think that if we’re not honest with people, we’re preserving their feelings, right? And so maybe you’re like, oh, yeah, you did a good job when they didn’t do a good job. And that’s not helping them grow. And that’s not helping your relationship either. And so I’ve definitely made some big mistakes where I did that said things that were Oh, this is okay. And it wasn’t really okay. Right. And so rather than having the hard conversation, I avoided it, which led to hurt feelings and a lot of problems down the line. So rather than doing that, I wish that I would have had that conversation shared Honestly, how I felt and and then we could have talked through the situation.

Sean C Davis 41:42
Yes, okay. 100%. I read that book as well. And it totally changed the way I communicate. It’s both at work, but also at home, because I feel like we’re both in Ohio. I don’t know if this is a Midwest thing or not. But I was raised, you know, be polite. You’re be if you have honesty and politeness, and you have to choose you you choose. Or you choose politeness Oh, yeah. Right. Yes. And sometimes that’s not the better answer. So yes, that I love that you call that that book. And actually, Brian just commented that there’s another book called Crucial Conversations. I hadn’t heard of that one, but I’m gonna check that out. Okay, and last number nine, this is a scenario that came up and maybe the first episode we did, and we get such great, like, really interesting answers that are all over the place. So I keep it around. Not to not to put any pressure here it can be anything. Okay. So number nine, you can host a lunch for any one person, that person can be alive or not alive. Who would you have to lunch?

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 42:54
That’s such a hard question. And there’s a couple of different people that I think of i i love Octavia Butler, I love the stuff that she’s written. I find Mother Teresa very inspiring. But I’m gonna go with Viktor Frankl who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning, which was hugely important in my life as I was overcoming trauma and coming into tech. And it’s actually like on my to do list to read. Actually, I think I’m going to start it today, because I just finished the making of a manager yesterday, but just really understanding I feel like I got a really good sense of humanity in that book. And it allowed me to dive deeper into a lot of feelings and and thoughts that I had before. So it’s a really heavy book to read. But I think I would love to be able to listen to everything that he had to say.

Sean C Davis 44:00
I love that. Okay. All right. Great. Well, this was a ton of fun. Thank you so much for being here. Becca.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 44:06
Thanks so much for having me. This was awesome.

Sean C Davis 44:09
Okay, last thing, before we go, feel free to tell listeners how to get in touch with you. And if you want to share links or ways to virtual coffees or really anything else that you’re working on, take a few minutes to plug it.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 44:23
Yeah, sure. So you can catch me everywhere. Pretty much, Becca h w on Twitter, that H On Instagram on dev. So I am there in lots of spaces. You can always hit me up ask questions. And I think that’s it for now. I am working on figuring out what’s next for me. I’m doing some consulting right now. So if you need any help and community building, I am happy to help with that. And you can find me at any of those spaces.

Sean C Davis 44:55
Great. So are you Yeah, I guess I should have said you mentioned you got laid off I’ve recently been looking for anything specific.

Bekah Hawrot Weigel 45:03
Yeah, for me. So my career has largely been in community building in some way or another. I was community organizer for a nonprofit I’ve taught for 10 years, which is every classroom was really a community. And with the previous experience I had at startups in a virtual coffee, I find that I would love to be able to take those lessons that I’ve learned and be able to help other people form strategies around community understanding of defining what community means timelines, and to be able to support existing communities or developers within Dev Rel team. So I think that you know, to be able to support people who are looking to do that would be a dream for me.

Sean C Davis 45:50
Amazing. Okay, great, great. So anybody get in contact with Becca, if you have a roll like that, or know of anything that might be similar, get the conversation started. Okay, with that, thank you to all of you in the audience and those viewing later. Just reminder that the shows are recorded live on the first and third Thursdays are first and third Tuesdays of each month at 1pm. US Eastern Time, which is 5pm GMT and then we later syndicate them on YouTube. You can find past and upcoming episodes on CFE dot dev along with the other talk shows that we have going on. Now, note that we’re going to skip our next typical date on March 21. And we’ll be back here again on April 4, featuring Eldad fuks, who is the creator of app right, we’ll spend most of that time talking about the challenges of building an open source company. So until then, from all of us at CFE dot Dev, thank you for joining us for this show. And I’ll see you next time.