Episode 53 – Find Your Incredible Peer Group with Gene Kim

 In Podcasts

Gene Kim has been researching high-performing technology organizations since 1999. He’s a multiple award-winning CTO, Tripwire founder, co-author of The DevOps Handbook, The Phoenix Project, and Visible Ops.

Gene is also a DevOps Researcher and is passionate about IT operations, security and compliance, and how IT organizations successfully transform from “good to great”.

In this episode Gene Kim tells us why we need to surround ourselves with the best people in our field and why he believes the best days of software engineering are ahead of us, not behind us.


Time Stamped Show Notes

(00:53) – Phil introduces Gene Kim

(01:31) – Gene provides an update to the introduction and says that he was with Tripwire for thirteen years

(02:16) – Gene says that the most rewarding thing about his journey is that it has taken him into the middle of the Devops movement

(02:24) – Gene says that now is a great time to learn, especially in a field like Devops

(02:29) – Phil and Gene discuss the evolution of Devops and the changes that technology has enabled


(03:25) – Unique Career Tip: Gene quotes “You’re the average of the top five people you hang out with”

(03:50) – Gene believes that this is true for all the functional and non-functional attributes of life

(03:58) – Gene says this includes skill level, health, happiness, fitness, wealth and mentions Napoleon Hill, author of “Think And Grow Rich”

(04:46) – Gene says that he learns the most when he hangs out with people who are the best in the game

(04:55) – There’s never been a better time to find that incredible peer group that will help you achieve in every endeavour for the rest of your life


(05:49) – Worst Career Moment: Gene talks about losing his job at the Purdue University Computing Centre

(06:34) – Gene describes a project that he was working on as part of a team

(06:51) – Gene talks about a competition within the team to identify collisions

(07:17) – As an administrator Kim had access to all the files

(07:24) – Gene wrote a pearl script that would hash all the files daily, put them into a database and look for collisions

(07:46) – One day Gene made a change to the script and accidently touched every file in every system

(07:54) – This was compounded by a backup issue in the data centre over the weekend and resulted in Gene losing his job

(08:33) – However it did lead to Gene starting an independent study project which eventually became Tripwire


(09:31) – Career Highlight / Greatest Success: Gene says that the most gratifying part of his career has been co-authoring “The Pheonix Project“

(09:46) – Gene left Tripwire in 2010, right in the middle of their IPO filing, to write a novel based on Gen’s favourite book, “The Goal” by Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt

(10:53) – “The Pheonix Project” has become a reference book for Devops


(11:23) – What Excites You About The Future of a Career in I.T.? Gene says that there are so many things in technology that are being upended

(11:47) – The world of QA (Quality Assurance) is changing, the world of Operations is changing

(11:55) – You have to be able to be a developer in QA and Operations, not just in application development

(12:27) – Gene believes that, “the best days of all software engineering are ahead of us, not behind us”

(12:38) – “It’s never been a better time to be a learner”

(12:42) – Phil and Gene discuss the benefits of learning to your career and your future income

(13:43) – “It’s an incredibly vibrant time to be in technology”


(14:47) – The Reveal

(14:51) – What attracted you to an I.T. career in the first place? – “I was recruited at a science fair to do a summer internship at Sun Microsystems”

(15:38) – What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? – “Find that mentor”

(17:00) – If you were to begin your I.T. career again, right now, what would you do? –”Machine learning. Anything to do with data and making better informed decisions out of it”

(18:00) – What career objectives are you focusing on right now? – “Continue to become a better writer and researcher”

(19:13) – What’s the number one non-technical skill that has helped you in your career so far? – “Learn to say what you really think without worrying about other people’s opinions”


(20:15) – A Parting Piece of Career Advice: Gene says you should do a fearless, morale inventory of people you hang out with

(20:35) – Decide whether you’re the average, below or above it

(20:51) – You never want to be the smartest person in the room


3 Key Points:     

  1. You’re the average of the top five people you hang out with so hang out with the best people in your field
  2. The best days of software engineering are ahead of us, not behind us
  3. Learn to say what you really think without worrying about other people’s opinions


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