Kube Cuddle

In this episode Rich speaks with Whitney Lee. Topics include: Whitney’s career before tech, how she started at IBM and VMware, her streaming shows Enlightening and You Choose, the challenges for new folks learning cloud native, and Imposter Syndrome.

Show notes

Mauricio Salatino
Mauricio and Whitney’s KubeCon Keynote
Netflix’s Freedom and Responsibility
Julia Evans
Viktor Farcic
Whitney and Viktor’s You Choose series
Viktor’s DevOps Toolkit channel
Whitney and Viktor’s KubeCon You Choose talk
Anki - spaced repetition learning app
Whitney’s YouTube channel

Episode transcript

Logo by the amazing Emily Griffin.
Music by Monplaisir.

Thanks for listening.
★ Support this podcast on Patreon ★

What is Kube Cuddle?

A podcast about Kubernetes, and the people who build and use it.

Rich: Hi, it's Rich. Hello. It's been awhile. I've had a lot of other things going on in my life and I've badly neglected the podcast, but I'm back. I'm excited to do some more episodes. Thanks so much if you stayed subscribed, I really appreciate it. A quick note about this episode, it was actually recorded many months ago, so keep that in mind as you're listening, especially with any super timely references. Also Whitney talked a lot about her level of experience, and I know she's leveled up a lot more knowledge wise since we talked. I think it's a really fun interview and I hope you'll enjoy it.

Welcome to Kube Cuddle, a podcast about Kubernetes and the people who build and use it. I'm your host, Rich Burroughs. Today I'm speaking with Whitney Lee. Whitney is a Staff Technical Advocate at VMware. Welcome.

Whitney: Thanks for having me. Do you, do you just, um, hear your own voice and be like, wow, I have such a lovely podcast voice, and just jump right into it?

Rich: I mean that's, that's very flattering. Thank you. I, I have a lot, I had a lot of people tell me that, and, and I expect that it's, like, um, definitely one reason why people, um, listen to these things. But it's always like, there's always that weirdness when you hear yourself, you know, because, um, like normally when you hear your voice every day, a lot of what you're hearing is the bone conduction in your head, you know, not the, not the stuff that's coming outta your mouth like everybody else does.

And so we all sound different, you know, on recordings than how we're used to hearing ourselves.

Whitney: Is, is the buttery podcast voice something you're born with or something that's cultivated?

Rich: Um, so maybe I was born with it. I don't know. So I haven't told this story before. It's like you're interviewing me

Whitney: I.

Rich: This is wild. Um, this is, uh, so I actually worked as a radio DJ for a summer, um, in high school.

Whitney: Amazing.

Rich: Um, I did have a tiny bit of background in this. It was. It's a long, crazy story. I worked at this radio station where we played heavy metal music in like 1983 and, um,

Whitney: sounds like a a wonderful place in time. Like I'm just,

Rich: Yep. Yeah. I, the first time,

Whitney: Yeah.

Rich: Yeah, the first time I was so nervous that they had me drink like a beer before, um, I went on because I was just terrified. Um, but yes, so, hello Whitney. This podcast is about you, not me. Um, So I, I actually really like Staff Technical Advocate as a title, and I thought it was really interesting and I wanted to ask you about that.

Like, how did that come up? Was that something that VMware came up with for you or was that your idea?

Whitney: I, uh, well, your guess is as good as mine. Uh, as far as that goes. Is it a title, is it unique? Is it, I don't know. so

Rich: Um, I mean, I think.

Whitney: Yeah,

Rich: I was just gonna say, I think Developer Advocate is a lot more common, but it's interesting because I've definitely heard conversations, um. Like a lot of the people that I, that I know come from like the DevOps space and um, and a lot of those folks are more on the ops side than the dev side.

Right. And, and they're def I've definitely seen conversations that like Developer Advocate maybe isn't, you know, really applicable to somebody who's talking about infrastructure and not, you know, not infrastructure as code as much, you know, but, but you know, databases or, you know, storage or other things that like maybe, maybe Developer Advocate isn't, isn't the way to go.

And I think the Technical Advocate is really interesting as a description.

Whitney: Uh, so I'm, I'm very new here. I'm sure we'll get into it. Like new to tech in general. Like, I, I wrote my first line of code at the beginning of 2019, and I've only had one other job at IBM and I was in a sales position or, or technical side of the sales side, uh, before I came over here. So I, I only recently even learned what a developer advocate was period when I got the job. And then when they gave me the job at VMware, I also had no idea that the staff part of the title was like, had some clout to it or some status. And, and so I, since then I figured out sta the staff has status. Also, I really don't care about status very much at all. Maybe not at all.

And then, um, And then the technical part, I've kind of guessed basically at what you're saying is, it does make sense that I would not be restricting who I'm advocating for to only developers, like technical, I think has a bigger scope of who, the person who might relate to my


Rich: Yeah, it's interesting. Um, So you, you kind of hinted at, you know, the fact that you're new to the industry. Um, you and I met at KubeCon Detroit and, and, um, we, we had a chance to chat there, like, I think like one of the first days,

it was one of the pre-event days or something and Yeah. And, and we had a chance to talk at like one of the parties there and.

I was honestly really surprised, like after talking with you to find out that you were so new to the industry and, and, um, yeah, maybe you could talk us through like kind of what you were doing before and like how you got started, all of that.

Whitney: Oh goodness. Okay. I'm thinking, how far back do I wanna go? Um, I, I studied photography, my degree's in photography. And at, and that's what, um, and I graduated in 2003. I'm, I'm 43 years old, and so I had, um, I had a career as a wedding photographer. I owned a wedding photography business for 10 years. I had photographers who worked for me, um, but. short, the short version of that story is basically the business ran me instead of me running the business. I, I learned a lot of valuable life lessons of, uh, project management in dealing with egos and stakeholders and emotions with weddings, that actually very much translates to the software space.

Uh, and then, and then, um, I, I hated it actually by the time I stopped doing it. And my brother's band started to get some notoriety, but my brother's band isn't a band per se. It's him, it's his own project. And then he would write all the parts and then hire studio musicians to do the stuff he couldn't do.

And so when his, his album got some notoriety, he needed to put together a live band, a tour. So he asked me to be in the live band. Base mo mostly on nepotism and the fact that I'm easy to get along with, uh,

Rich: I, I

can't see how

Whitney: a van with


Rich: it, that,

Whitney: I'm just saying just two, two factors that were considered I think before talent was considered. But, um, I do, I have read that siblings voices do blend well, and I did, we did sing a lot of harmonies together. And, um, so I, I basically. Like, um, the opportunity to tour with my brother in a band was the out that I needed to like, quit my life without maybe feeling embarrassed or feeling that I, I didn't succeed at something.

And so I was like, yes, I went out. So I, I, packed up. I dissolved my business. I returned couples' deposits. I like actually spent my savings doing that. I, my partner at the time, we'd been together eight years, they weren't supportive. So, got rid of them, got all my stuff, put it into storage, so I didn't even have an address.

And I toured around the country in a white van

Rich: Wow.

Whitney: playing pretty songs with my brother for 20, all of 2014.

Rich: Wow, that's amazing. And

Whitney: I mean,

Rich: um,


Whitney: Oh, I was, you said, that's amazing. It is amazing, I suppose, but I think my story, part of what makes it compelling is that, um, I, I ended up in a spot where, uh. The fact that I'm doing well right now makes my story more interesting than if I was not doing well right now. That's what I'm trying to say.

Rich: I mean, that's totally valid.

Yeah, of course. Yeah, I think that, um, one thing that interests me is, uh, like you mentioned some of the lessons that you've kind of learned, like doing that other work and how you're able to apply them to this. Um, what do you think about the fact that, um, you running an actual business for 10 years that had to make payroll and wasn't getting funded by venture capital? Like, do you think that, that like, maybe contributes to being successful in tech?

Whitney: Uh, yeah. Um, maybe less of the funding part and more of the people management part. Or, or, um, uh, setting expectations, definitely. Or even today, I was bef in the pre-show before the You Choose episode, we're kind of talking about, um, my ability to wrangle guests. And I was just like, it feels a lot like wedding photography.

Like, I would meet people and then immediately need to boss them around about when to be where and how I want them to pose, but I'm really helping them look their best in the end. So, um, but like I need, like, I, I have like 10 seconds in a wedding photography situation and now in this you choose situation that I need to earn someone's trust and nicely tell them what to do in a way that is, that feels kind and good and not like I'm bossing them around.

Uh, yeah, that's, those are the skills that at this moment, that are translating, that are, that are making me think back, thinking back to my wedding photography days.

But, but my story so far, I've only brought you to 2014.

Rich: Oh, okay. Let me, I I was just gonna say real quick, um, just for people who may not be aware of it, so You Choose is your new streaming thing that you're doing with Viktor Farcic, and we're gonna talk about that a little bit more later. So if folks aren't, um, familiar with that.

Whitney: Yeah, Viktor Farik. Um, so we're in 2014 right now, touring in, in Mutual Benefits. And actually it's is, that's the name of my brother's band. And so, um, tour ended. I'm back in Austin. I don't know what to do with my life. I was a, a, a driver for Lyft and Uber for a couple months while I was like, what am I doing?

And then, um, and then I, I started working in restaurants because I so badly didn't wanna go back to wedding photography, and I didn't know what to do next. So I actually worked in restaurants for a number of years, um, during that time. And I think I was great. I actually really enjoyed working in restaurants. Uh, again, with earning trust quickly and, and being good at communication and this time with some physical hustling behind it all.

And, um, and during that time my son is, was in college and he is, he was in getting a CS degree and he was like, mom, mom, you would really like coding. You should do this.

Rich: Oh, wow. I didn't know this part of the story.

Whitney: Yeah, my son convinced me to to try out a coding bootcamp and that's how I got started in tech. So my son now is a front-end developer at Adobe and he lives in Berkeley.

Rich: Wow, that's so trippy. Like, um, I've definitely heard it the other way, right? Where like the parents were engineers and then the kid grows up and gets exposed to it that way and they, you know, end up becoming engineers. But I don't know that I've heard of someone like getting the idea from their kid.

That's so cool.

Whitney: Yeah, we have a little bit of the flip side too, where he and I went to the bouldering gym one day and, and the, the person behind the counter was like, oh, that's so cool that you're showing your mom bouldering or that you're bringing your mom with you to bouldering. And I'm just like, whatever. I showed him how to boulder.

I'm giving him the Like, let's not make any assumptions here. Yeah, we're tight. It's actually, we actually have, we talk on the phone every week, my son and I, and we have hours long conversations about like, what it feels like to first navigate the corporate landscape as, because we basically started our corporate jobs at the same time and, and are going through that life experience simultaneously.

Just a generation apart.

Rich: yeah. And those are big companies too, right? Adobe. And then with you, IBM and VMware, it's like, yeah, there. There's a lot to do there. I've kind of tended to, to stick more with the smaller companies because I think, I don't, I don't function that well in bureaucracies. Maybe it's my ADHD, but I get really frustrated if there's like, if I need to get 10 people to sign off on a thing that I could have had done already, you know?

Whitney: Yeah. I try to, in life in general and definitely in a corporate environment, I try to limit my sphere of concern to my sphere of influence. So that, that helps eliminate a lot of the mumbo jumbo. If there's some weird upper level, if we're about to get reorged into something else, just let me know how that touches my job, and otherwise I'm just not gonna concern myself with it unless it's something I can actually affect change over.

Rich: Wow, that is, uh, probably a really, really useful way to look at it. Kind of, kind of Zen, right? I'm just gonna worry about what I, what I can actually have control over. Yeah. Um. So you did a coding bootcamp and then I think you worked there for a little bit afterwards. Is that right?

Whitney: Um, yeah, it was, they just had a program at the bootcamp. Um, for the top students, you know. No, I wasn't actually especially talented at the coding part, but I, I did have the people skills. I'm talented at people skills and, um, And so they invited me to turn around and be a, a TA, basically their version of a TA.

Rich: Gotcha.

Whitney: But I, I only did that for half of the time. I signed up to do it before I got hired at IBM. So

Rich: Okay.

Whitney: yeah.

Rich: Yeah. So, um, I'm wondering like, uh, this is a little bit of a sidetrack, but I bet that we have some listeners who like, have maybe thought about going to a bootcamp or something like that. I'm just wondering like what kind of advice you would have for, for somebody in that situation who is maybe considering doing that?

Whitney: I thought it was amazing. It clearly, completely changed my life. Um, just like anything, you're gonna get out of it, what you put into it, and then when you're looking at a place, it's a good idea, especially if you're dropping a lot of money on it to, to, make sure they have a career services part, to see some stats on people who actually get jobs after they graduate.

Because I went, I lucked upon a high quality one, but I have known people who went to ones that weren't very, didn't set them up for success. So when you're looking at a bootcamp, you don't just look at the curriculum. I recommend looking at results and results being job placement, not like a certificate, but like, show me the jobs. Show me the jobs and, and like, and the starting salary, please. Yeah.

Rich: Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. Okay, cool. And then, um, you went to IBM?

Whitney: I went to IBM.

Rich: Did you start doing cloud native stuff there?

Whitney: Yeah, yeah. Uh, I learned about Kubernetes for my IBM interview. So I, I actually watched an IBM Cloud, um, lightboard video. I. And that was my first introduction to Kubernetes by Si Vin who I just had a drink with last week. And, uh, and so I was, IBM at the time was putting together a team. They had a, a product called Cloud Paks. And so they're putting together a, a Cloud Pak acceleration team, and our job was to build out frontend demos for companies that were interested in buying Cloud Pak. So using the IBM technology. And, um, and they had the idea that they were gonna hire a bunch of people like fresh graduates, so a lot of fresh CS degree graduates, and then a lot of, um, bootcamp grads like myself and, and then train us up. And so that's, that's what happened. And. It was an interesting life experience to start fresh at a company in a cohort of people who are my son's age.

Like I was easily 10 years older than the next person. And, and actually the, the bootcamp place, I look maybe younger than I am, and the bootcamp place advised me to hide my age as part of like, don't mention your son, don't put your.

Rich: interesting.

Whitney: Yeah, don't put your, the, the year you graduated college, it's going to show them how old you are.

Yeah. They told me the career services person told me to hide that, and I did. Uh, I wish, I guess maybe it was good advice because I got the job. I don't know if how that would've changed things.

Do you.

Rich: I mean, who knows? But, but I, um, I am also somebody who looks younger than my age. Like a lot of times people, you know, guess my age at like maybe 10 years younger. And then at some point I make some comment about, you know how Reagan was president when I was a teenager or something, and totally out myself.

Whitney: Being a, a, a heavy metal DJ in the 80s.

Rich: Yeah, that too. That's a good one. Yeah. But, but it's interesting and, and I think that ageism in the industry is real. You know, I don't think that, uh, that that's bad advice necessarily for somebody. It's, it's sort of a shame that we have to do that, but,

Whitney: But now that I'm in a, a position with some visibility, I love saying my age. Just gimme a t-shirt like I'm 43, because I want to, I want other people to see that it can be done and it, it has been done and not give up before they even try. So, like, as a woman and as, as a older person, which I don't feel older, but you know, relatively speaking for people enter, entering the industry or for career changers, um, I like to, I like to be big and loud for that reason.

Rich: No we're, we're both absolutely ancient. I mean, there's just no, no denying it.

Whitney: It, yeah.

Rich: We're so old. No, I, uh, I think that's a really great point. Um, so how old were you when you went to the bootcamp then?

Whitney: 39. 39 when I first started. 40 when I graduated. Mm-hmm.

Rich: Yeah. That's super cool. Um, I wanted to chat more about KubeCon Detroit, um, because you did a keynote there, which was

Whitney: What the what?

Rich: wild. So, so you did this keynote with Mauricio Salatino, who I want to make sure to shout out because he is awesome.

Such a great person. Yeah. One of my, yeah, one of my favorite folks in the community will definitely link to, to some of his stuff in the show notes. Um, the, the talk. I thought was a really great illustration of what platform teams are and how they should operate in terms of how they interact with engineers and, and, and what are the best ways to do that.

Whitney: Mm-hmm. And then we also made the platform engineers into superheroes

Rich: Mm-hmm.

Whitney: And yeah, it was, um. Receiving the email, like I was, I knew I would find out whether I got into KubeCon that day. And so I was like checking my email obsessively, like, like one does. And when it said you, it's been accepted for a keynote, I just like, I didn't even know an earned keynote that it, it even existed.

This is, I'd only ever been attended two other KubeCons. So this is my third KubeCon I've even been to. And um, and what, and I was just like, this can't be right. Like there must be like some other keynote situation that's, there's no way they're talking about main stage. Right. And I like

Rich: This is the keynote in the basement,

Whitney: Right?

Yeah. The keynote that happens a week before anyone arrives. And so I pinged my manager and she hadn't heard of it, uh, an, an earned keynote either. So I like screenshotted it and sent it to her, and then like all caps, like, oh my God, you have a keynote! And I was like, this, how is this real? But, um, so Viktor and I both, not Viktor, Mauricio and I took both, took it really, really seriously.

Like, this is, this is a gift. We've been given the opportunity to do this and we're, we're going to, to work our hardest and do our best and, and, I feel very lucky to be paired with Mauricio. He's so knowledgeable and I hope he feels lucky to be paired with me. I feel like a lot of the beginning of our prep for getting ready for this is him teaching me about platform engineering and then,

Rich: I thought that, yeah, I mean, I thought that the combination of your different talents was actually super cool, right? Because you, you, uh, I thought brought a lot of creativity to it for people. I'll link to the talk in the show notes in case there are folks who want to see it that didn't, but I. Um, you know, there was, uh, you did a lot of illustrations and stuff and, and brought a lot of creativity to it from that perspective.

And then Mauricio is the, the demo person, right? Rolling up his sleeves and, and getting into, you know, actually, um, running the stuff. And, and I thought that it was a really nice combination and,

Um, yeah, I, I wrote a blog post about my experience at the conference, and I talked about this a lot because of course, as you know, I'm like, you know, at the company that makes this tool called vcluster and it was featured in the demo.

Um, and we were honestly like, I was over the moon about this because, um, I arrived at the company in April of 2021. Probably just a few weeks before it got open sourced. So it was actually in our commercial product at that point. And you know, that's partly why they wanted to hire somebody, right? Is 'cause they wanted to open source this thing and get some push behind it.

And, um, and so I've seen the whole project, right. You know, the whole life of the thing. And so to end up at this point where,

Whitney: It's

Rich: you

Whitney: It's your baby.

Rich: on the big stage,


it was just, uh, just beautiful. Yeah. Um, no, it's been really, it's been really cool to see, um, the amount of enthusiasm that there is for it right now.

And I think that's because it solves a real pro, you know, real problems that people have. So, um, but yeah, no, it was a really cool demo, you know, Crossplane was involved and, um, other things and, and, um,

Whitney: Absolutely. Yeah. And yeah, vcluster definitely is at the center of, of that. Of a good solution with good isolation that where it's not too costly.

Rich: Yeah, I think that, um, to me, the way that I've thought about platform engineering, a lot of it comes from, several years ago I was between jobs, right? And, and when I left SRE I was thinking about, um, about going into product management. And I was looking around and I was seeing teams starting to hire product managers for their infra, you know, for their platforms.

And that was the point where I kind of saw this coming right. You know, and, and maybe three years ago,

Whitney: Uh, so like an A developer, an internal developer facing PM?

Rich: Yeah. Yeah,

Whitney: Interesting.

Rich: One of the things I really, really liked about the keynote was that idea of like, giving developers a really queer interface, you know, for like, how they define one of these, you know, dev environments and, and how things get deployed.

Whitney: Absolutely, and it makes sense that you would like that because I feel like vcluster makes a lot of sense to be right in the center of that experience. Um, the fact that with Crossplane, you could just spin up without a developer needing to do anything except make a call to an API, you can spin up a vcluster that already has whatever they need, let's say Knative and Postgres, like pre-installed into it.

And then it's immediately ready for a developer to use. That feels like magic because. The, the fact that they don't have to provision their own cluster. They don't have to install this stuff. They don't have to integrate the two tools with each other.

It just happens from an API call to the platform. It's amazing.

Rich: Yeah absolutely. In the demo, it's just like a YAML file that like defines like, some things like the name and stuff like that, and then it's just, it's just all magic. Um, yeah, I, I spent a lot of my career as like an ops person working really closely with engineers, you know. So I used to, I used to do this thing that, um, you don't really hear this title anymore, but I used to be what we would call an application administrator.

And for folks who are familiar with it, like think like IBM WebSphere, like

You're, you're the person, like kind of helping people, like get their applications deployed, get them configured correctly, um, troubleshooting problems with the running services or applications, you know, all of that kind of stuff.

And I was in that role, those sort of roles for like 10 years of my career, you know? And so, um, I, you know, was working with people, you know, obviously a lot on production stuff, but also, you know, we owned like the dev environments and things too. And so, um, yeah, a lot of these things, you know, I've, I've been on kind of the other side of, right.

I've been the person who people were opening tickets up to like get a new thing provisioned, you

Whitney: And and during the keynote we were actually really careful to always talk about application teams and how application teams can develop, uh, uh, benefit from a platform instead of being, saying the developer, the developer, the developer, because it's, it's a, yeah, there are a lot of people who stand to, to have easier jobs in a good way by by streamlining that experience.

Rich: Yeah, I actually saw, um, Joe Beda was talking about that idea, um, on Twitter, like, uh, maybe six weeks or eight weeks ago or something about, about, um, not liking the tool developer right. Or the term developer that like, you know. Those teams include the docs people and the, the product people and everybody else, right. And it's, it's all of them working together.

Whitney: And then something as I've been trying to navigate as a new learner who's just entering into this space

Is, um, how, how, deep do developers usually go in terms of how much Kubernetes they have to configure or how much, uh, they need to know about the infrastructure they're about to deploy to, or any of that?

And I imagine it varies a lot from company to company is, but like, is there a normal, maybe I'm really asking this question or maybe it's just a hypothetical, but like, is there a normal, and like, is, is it like a super like large company might be able to afford to have roles that are more specialized, where an application developer doesn't have to know that much. Whereas I'm guessing a smaller company then especially the developer would need to know the full stack of everything that's happening.

Rich: Yeah, I think that's generally true.

Yeah. I mean, I don't know that I'm one of those people who, um, I mean I'm always interested in people who have roles like consulting roles, you know, things like that because I think that they tend to get, a look at the broader sort of, you know, what's happening in the industry, you know, than somebody who spends like years working at one specific company.

Right? Like, like somebody who's consulting, they might work with multiple clients even, you know, within the same year and, and see a lot. I, I guess, see a lot of shit is maybe how I would put it, you know? Right. Um, And I don't necessarily have that, that sort of view, you know? But I think that there's a, there's a few things that come into play.

Um, I think one of them is just level of interest, right? Like there's some, there's some engineers out there who work on, you know, the, the products the company's selling. Who really, really are interested in infrastructure and Kubernetes and things like that. And there are others who could not care less, that maybe even actively dislike having to think about those things.

You know, and this is something I, I talk about a decent amount because, um, I. I think that there are, there are people out there like, I wouldn't say it's a big part of the community or anything, but there definitely are people out there who sort of look down on people who don't understand Kubernetes or, or more importantly, who don't want to, you know, and, and to me it's like, you know, if you're hired by a company to build a product, right?

Um, that's your job, and that's the thing that you're gonna get measured on is like, did you deliver this important product? Did you, you know, support it well, did you provide updates? All that kind of stuff. Like as a product engineer, you are literally never gonna get a Kubernetes quiz, and that's gonna be part of your yearly performance review.

Right? That's never gonna happen. And so, And so I think it's really, you know, first off, I think it's just unfair, you know, to expect people in that position to like care about Kubernetes. Um, and I also think there's a, there's a good argument to be made that it's not super productive. But, but I think you're right that, in that, people at smaller companies, they just tend to have to wear more hats and stuff. Right. And so, like the place that I work, we're 25 employees now. I'd say probably at least 10 or 10 or 12 of that is engineers. Like we don't have a dedicated infra person. You know, it just, that role just doesn't exist.

Right. And so, and so the, you know, the folks that are, that are working on the products, definitely, you know, have to understand that stuff too.

Whitney: Yeah. Um, one thing, one tech that I found interesting dur, that I learned about during Enlightening is Keptn. And Keptn, it was interesting to me because it does, um, it orchestrates DevOps tools. So, so it's, it's like a pipeline, but it's an orchestration. It's not so brittle and stiff. And then it's, um, what I liked about it is with it you could retain autonomy and tooling.

So it's using an event-based system to trigger like when things will happen next, but then it's up to the, the team that's implementing it, like what tools they want to actually do what action when they get the the event.

Rich: Sure.

Whitney: So different teams can choose a different tool chain to get through the pipeline that's being defined by Keptn at a more organizational level.

Rich: That is interesting. There's, yeah, there's definitely, shops have different, you know, thoughts on this stuff. Um, I. I, you know, I've had friends at Netflix and read a lot about what they do too. And, um, it definitely seems that they're, like, they've got the whole Freedom and Responsibility thing, right? So the idea is that like, you can do whatever you want, but you're on the hook for it working too, right?

And so, so, you know, maybe some of the stuff has changed over time, but the last that I knew as a, a team developing, you know, part of the product, um, part of the Netflix experience itself, um, that you didn't even have to use, you know, the tools that the, the, you know, internal platform people are building.

Um, you could use whatever you want, but, but again, you know, you're kind of on the hook if, if you do that, if you choose not to use those. And, and that's an interesting idea. I think it not something that would work at every shop, you know, and there are other concerns that come up with that, like auditing and things like that. There are reasons why people wanna standardize, right. Um, Um,

Whitney: And, and, you touched on this a bit, but I think it, at a larger company especially, it does seem kind of redundant and a lot of toil to make every application developer need to understand Kubernetes to do their job.


Rich: Yeah, I think so. Um, so you mentioned Enlightning. I did want to talk to you about that. So, um, so you do this show, you've been doing it for a while where, um, you have one of these light boards, um, um, and you have somebody on and interview them about a technology and draw some things on the lightboard.

Um, I'll, I'll link to the, you know, the YouTube for the shows, um, so people can watch and can get, again, get an idea of what you do. But, um, I wonder if you, maybe you could tell us a little bit about that process. Like maybe how you came up with the idea and, you know, what, doing one of these episodes looks like.

Whitney: Um, I would love to. Enlightening actually, uh, just hit its one year anniversary, I think February

Rich: wow. Congratulations.

Whitney: thank you. It's the first episode, so when I'm in town, they happen at least once a week. But sometimes I'm traveling and I have to be by the lightboard, so it's not a show that can travel with me.

It's a, it's the old ball and chain, you know? And then, um, the, the, the idea was born, let's, let me just, let me paint you a picture. There's there

Rich: Are you gonna paint it on your lightboard? That won't work so well in the podcasting medium I think.

Whitney: Just imagine I'm painting on the lightboard. So, so we have, uh, a little baby Whitney. She got her, she learned about Kubernetes in October of 2019. She got her first job as a cloud developer in November of 2019.

Rich: Yeah.

Whitney: She, she worked at IBM and, um, deploying IBM specific technologies. So, no, there's some o OpenShift in there, some installing stuff.

So like I touched Kubernetes a little bit, but a lot of it was just proprietary, uh, IBM stuff. And, um, and then on the side as stretch, a stretch project I would make IBM Cloud YouTube videos. And so I made seven of these. And those IBM cloud videos are lightboard videos where there's a, a studio on the campus here in Austin, Texas.

And I would drive to the studio and there's a, a production team, like at least three other people making, doing all this stuff.

Rich: I'm always jealous when I hear about these scenarios. Like I have friends who work at Microsoft and they have this big studio and they get on a stream and there's all these people there and stuff, and I'm just like, oh my God, that

Whitney: I, I didn't, I didn't appreciate it enough. Um, so I think I made my first one in August of, of 2020. That seems about right, because they contacted me. It was like the pandemic happened, and then pretty soon, um, so less than a year after even knowing what Kubernetes is. I, they let me, and, and the content was 100% me.

I made a video, What Is etcd on the IBM Cloud YouTube channel, but, because I know what nothing is, I don't assume anything. I'm coming, I'm really teaching it at a very beginner level because I am that very beginner le

level. And so, um, and so it actually, like my videos at IBM did really well for those rea for those reasons I did what's Kafka, what is Rabbit MQ, some about event driven architecture.

I was just doing stuff related to what I was touching in my job there.

Rich: Yeah.

Whitney: So pretty soon I've figured out, oh, I like this video stuff more than I like this sales stuff I'm doing. How can I do more of that? And, and um, and then I learned that there's this title called Developer Advocate. And, and my friend Nigel told me that there's a developer advocacy position opened at, open at VMware.

Rich: Yeah.

Whitney: Now, I'd read the description for like a Kubernetes expert developer advocate, and I know, I know I'm wildly underqualified. But it, there's no harm in a, in, in asking. I'm, I have a little, I have a, I hope I don't offend anyone, but I have a little, um, mantra in my head and that is if I'm confronted with something that's scary and I don't know whether I should do it, I think to myself, what would a mediocre white man do?

Rich: Oh my God, that's hysterical. Um, he would definitely apply for that job being underqualified, right.

Whitney: 100%.

And so, and, and really there's nothing to lose. Like really, to me, failing is not trying. It's not, it's not being rejected. It's not even doing it in the first place. That's the real failure.

Um, so I've applied for this job that I was wildly underqualified for, and I, I went through the whole interview process and I did not get the job.

They're like, no, you're wildly underqualified for this job. But we like you so much, we're just gonna make a whole new position on this team and bring you on and buy you a lightboard.

Rich: That's amazing.

Whitney: Yeah. Yeah, that was, yeah, it's, I can't even, I still can't believe that part happened. And then so then fast forward, it's so I'm at,

Rich: I have to say, between you and me and the people listening to the podcast, um, I, I interviewed there once and did not get the job, and they did not create a whole new position just for me. So, so that is not, I think, the typical experience.

Whitney: No, no. And um, Yeah, it, it was, I, I still feel wildly grateful and now that, um, now that I'm experiencing some success, I feel like wildly happy about it, but I, I. uh, like started going to a new therapist just to talk about imposter syndrome for a while because, to work through imposter syndrome, 'cause it was a lot. Um, so then, so Lil Baby Whitney made these lightboard videos, was just learning about Kubernetes and then all of a sudden finds her with a lightboard studio at her home. Yeah. Um, with a, with a job on a team that seems very important with a title that I didn't know was like a good of title, but yeah.

And so, um, It took me a few stops and starts and to figure out like, what am I supposed to be doing in this new role? How can I be myself and still, and and, make good content? Because I can't magically become a, a expert overnight no matter how much I study. And I tried to study that much and um. And so what ended up, the show was born from this idea that I, I'd need to be my true self. I don't know everything, but there are a lot of people learning Kubernetes right now, and a lot of people at my skill level. So I just need to speak to people like me and, um, and so the, the idea behind Enlightening is that I find a topic that I wanna learn about. I invite an expert on to come teach me about that topic, and I'm behind my lightboard in the streaming show. The expert is not allowed to share their screen. There are no coding demos. They just have to teach me my, with my young, my, my child's mind about their technology, and I'm going to draw out my understanding as it, as it happens. So the lightboard is like this great tool to make sure I can't pretend that I understand something that I don't actually understand because it's, I'm documenting it as I say it, and it's a reason for me to repeat what I've said and to ask clarifying questions.

So we end up having a really great conversation and, and even from the very beginning of the episode, I have to be like, Hey, I just got here. I don't know what Kubernetes was like when your tool came here. Like Argo CD, like I don't understand what it used to be like to deploy an application on, on Kubernetes.

So will you paint me a picture about what it was like before and then help me understand what your problem, what your, your technology is solving and then we can get into more of like the architecture of how it works and some of the bells and whistles. But really just like I need the, the, you cannot make any assumptions with me because I just, I won't get them.

Rich: But I mean, what a great way to learn though, right?

Like having these people come on and explain all their stuff to you


Whitney: What a gift. What a gift that I get to have one-on-one learning sessions with experts around every technology. So at first, like a year ago when I was doing this, I was doing shows like, who should use Kubernetes and like, uh, how do you add persistent storage to Kubernetes and stuff like that. But I've since gotten into, right now I'm just specializing in CNCF projects. Instead of doing more general episodes like that.

Rich: Awesome. Yeah, so, um, Mark Mandel, who used to co-host the Google Kubernetes Podcast is actually a friend of mine and or no, the Google Cloud Podcast, he co-hosted, and he actually mentioned to me at one point that like, that was kind of his strategy too.

Like he was somebody who I think was very experienced at that point, but it was the same sort of thing. It was like, there's a new thing I wanna learn about, and so I just invite the person on who knows all about it and make them explain it to me, which I think is just brilliant.

Whitney: It's, a gift. It's an absolute gift, and it's, it's, um, you know, I've, it's privileged. I, I have privilege that I get to do it this way. Not everyone can, and I hope, I hope that the experience of someone telling me can translate to an experience of someone telling, uh, like if you watch that as a beginner, you're getting as much out of it. And it's a streaming show. And there's al there's always like the kindest, I have this, the best chat. And so there's always like some really nice, thoughtful questions happening. So if you ever catch one live and you're a learner just like me, you can ask all the clarifying questions you need to ask too, so you can get the one-on-one session with the expert as well.

Rich: Yeah.

I wonder if, um, if you wanna mention if there are any specific technologies or things that you learned about, like through, through doing the shows.

Whitney: Uh, Knative was a formative one for me because at that time I was trying to learn Kubernetes and it was hard and overwhelming, and, what Carlos Santana taught Knative serving, and part of that was just level setting. Like what is a Kubernetes, um, deployment bare minimum look like? And we diagrammed it out on the board and understanding that problem before we can understand how Knative solves that problem.

And so that really, um, helped a, a lot of things gel for me, that particular episode, in addition to the fact that I had touched Knative before at IBM.

I had just been, I just learned like Knative is serverless. And I was like, oh, I have no use for serverless. I put it in a box, put it in my brain closet, and, and, and I never thought about Knative again.

So then when I learned about Knative, it does so much more than just a scale to zero, which I prefer to say over serverless, which is a loaded and confusing term. Um, but it does so much more than just scale to zero. And that kind of opened my eyes too, to preconceptions about, about tech that that one can have and that I certainly had in my very early state of learning.

And, and, and even Knative has been around forever. So Carlos was even careful to say like, oh, it used to be that you had to do, there was a build element that's now Tekton. You had to do build and serving and eventing altogether in one big Knative binary. But now they're all, yeah, but now build is Tekton. It's not even the same project anymore.

And now these, you can do a eventing totally separate from serving. And you used to have this heavy Istio layer and now you can have this light layer. And to me, like that's all, at the time, that was all above my head. I know what's up now, but, um, but, uh, but just the fact that seeing how things morph and change over the years and how, um, impermanent everything is and how, and how much tech, how much these projects have to do with perception too.

All of that was really interesting to me about the Knative serving episode.

Rich: Let me, what do you, what do you mean by the perception thing? You mean just the fact that you had that wrong perception or...


Whitney: Well, definitely I had the wrong perception, but then clearly Carlos is saying Knative has been along around for so long, apparently, I was getting from this episode, Knative used to be big and heavy and clunky, and they've done a lot to change that, but it's not enough just to do a lot to change it. Somehow you have to tell people that it's different now, and that's actually a really hard problem to solve.

Rich: It is really hard and I'm speaking at a place that makes open source tools and just like, yeah, this is a constant thing. It's like you add some great new feature and like nobody knows it exists.

Whitney: Yeah. Yeah. People are like, I already know what vCluster is. I don't need to do any more reading about vCluster ever. And you're just like jumping up and down screaming like, well, we did this new thing,

Rich: I literally, I literally just did a talk that was like, called like vCluster Tips and Tricks, and it was literally just like ten, like of those kinds of things that we added to the project that I thought people didn't know about.

Whitney: But yeah.

Rich: yeah.


Whitney: And, and, and as far as I know, I don't really know a good answer for that. Uh, like how the, an effective way to broadcast when you've made a change that is noteworthy.

You know?

Rich: Yeah. Um, what do you think that some of the challenges are for people who are like learning Kubernetes and cloud native stuff?


Whitney: Uh, I can speak to my challenges and that's probably can, uh, I can speak to my challenges. And mine would be, uh, I can't remember if we spoke about this already, but mine

Rich: For for those people who are, who are listening and wouldn't be aware of this because of the magic of podcast editing, we talked for like 20 minutes and then the app stopped recording and we didn't know it and talked for like another 20 minutes. And so now we're, um, in the, in the section where we're repeating things we said earlier, kind of, but like not sure.

Whitney: And so it's, we've, we've had a practice run. This should be really good. And actually, this, this conversation is significantly different than the one we had earlier that was a recorded, um, and, and of course very much better. You all are lucky to hear this version. Uh, and so,

Rich: I,

Whitney: So, a big problem I had first coming into it is even watching my very first video about like, what is Kubernetes? It's, it is just like the vocabulary around what things are. So I didn't understand. I didn't know what Linux really was when I first like was learning about distributed computing.

Rich: Yeah,

Whitney: So I didn't understand like a box is the same thing as a machine, is the same thing as a node, is the same thing as a VM, and like it all just means computer.

Rich: the

Whitney: What

Rich: Same thing as a server.

Whitney: Oh yeah, yeah, absolutely. Oh my God. A server and, and the server one actually took me longer than the other ones to put together. It's like, oh my God. Why can't you just say computer? Why has it gotta be so hard? And similarly, um, uh, all the different names for resource objects or like saying resources or saying objects.

And then, uh, and, and especially the definition files. Like saying, this is a configuration file, this is a manifest, this is a definition. Yeah. Um, so many different names for, for the same, kind of the same file.

Uh, and I, I feel like I'm still kind of come, coming across those sometimes like, oh, application definition is the same thing as application configuration.

Oh my gosh.

Rich: The Linux, the Linux piece is interesting, like not having had Linux experience because like, I think a lot of the, the folks who came into cloud native, at least around the time that I did, would've already had that. Right? And so, um, I think that that there, there is a concern that some people have that like, there are people nowadays who are learning things that haven't necessarily learned, like the building blocks that those things were built on.

And I don't, I don't necessarily think that's bad, you know? Um, but, but it's definitely different. Um, yeah.

Whitney: I backed up and, well, I started, um, I started getting, or just doing like a Udemy course for getting a CKA, a Certified Kubernetes Administrator. Yeah. And, um, And even in my first lesson it was like, you know, you do this po, like kubectl pod describe command, describe pod. You know, I know I read

Kubectl describe pod command. And then you just pipe grep image. Pipe grep -i image.. And I was just like, you do what now? What the hell? Like what, what is grep? What pipe? Like? How is that symbol even, yeah, like I didn't know what anything was. I was that clueless. And so then I just backed right outta that course and I was like, I gotta a, I got a Linux, um, learn the command, Linux command line book, and spent some time with that.

And then came back to the CKA.

Rich: That's smart. Yeah. Yeah. I think that, um, you know, in theory for someone who's like a user in a cluster, you know, and, and just developing applications, maybe they don't need to know all those things. But I think that especially who, people who are more on the infra side, that like having some of those Linux basics down, um, helps a lot.

I went through a period of time where I wanted to like kind of refresh some of my Linux knowledge because I'd forgotten so much and I actually took the class for Red Hat's um, certification. They do their Linux certification. I actually didn't even end up taking the test, but I just took the class to kind of like kind of refresh myself and it really helped a lot there.


Whitney: Do you know, I love Julia Evans' work. I don't know if you know her. She does wizard zines, so I've been spending some time with like, what is a container her, she has a zine about what is a container, and I've been enjoying that very much. Mm-hmm.

Rich: She is fantastic. Yeah.

Whitney: That's really lit up the sky for me.


Rich: She's fantastic at explaining technical concepts in a way that's like super, super accessible to people. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. I, I will link to Julia in the show notes. Um, yeah, So the, the show that you do Enlightenment, you know, you're drawing on the board, you're explaining these concepts.

Um, you know, uh, during the KubeCon keynote you did art as well. Like you drew these illustrations to sort of help explain things. Um, you know, you, you did have this photography background, like your art, your degree was an art degree. Um, and I'm wondering if you, um, If you have other examples of like ways that you think you maybe use your more artistic side, like in your, in your tech career.

Whitney: It's funny because I have a lot of friends in Austin who are artists who are like real artists and, uh, and to them, I just like do some chicken scratches. Like I don't, to them, I don't feel like a much of an artist, but I feel wildly technical to them. They're like, wow. She's like, so mathy and whatever.

And then the flip side of that is in the tech space, I, I maybe don't seem incredibly technical. I know actually a lot about a, like, a little bit about a lot of things, but like my technical knowledge isn't super deep. But then like people think I seem wildly artistic.

Rich: That's super funny. I mean, I could never do what you do in terms of like the, the drawings and stuff.

Whitney: Not with that attitude.

Rich: I was the kid who, I was the kid who could not color inside the lines in grade school. So it's been a, been an ongoing regret of mine.

Whitney: This is a, this is a podcast, so I just wanna say like the keynote for example, those, they look like the, the illustrations look like they were done by a nine year old. Like, they're not like super, they look like MS paints. There's, uh, it's all very rudimentary. Uh, it's colorful and fun, but it doesn't.

It's not, um, technically skilled, I'll say. Yeah. But it does a good job of getting the the point across, which I think is what's great. As far as whether I do that, besides Enlightening, I mean, I do a lot of goofy promotion for Enlightening where I do funny poses and stuff. I feel like my photography experience comes into play for just knowing how to pose myself in a way that's visually pleasing and, and.

Rich: Yeah.

Whitney: I like being goofy. I like being lighthearted and fun and not taking myself too seriously and giving other people permission to be the same way.


Rich: Yeah.

Whitney: Not that they need my permission in doing so. Yeah. Anyway. Um,


but I can't think of.

Rich: Okay. That's fine. Yeah.

Whitney: I'll tell you something fun though. My, my brother, my, I have more than one brother, but the same brother who I toured with, he was a musician. He did my intro for Enlightening, so that that the nice jingle that comes on at the beginning of every episode. Yeah. It's done by, was done by my brother.

I also make goofy stickers of everything.

Rich: Yeah, I saw the spider and rainbow stickers from the keynote. Those were super cute. I'm sure I have some somewhere, but I always forget to like stick things on my laptop. Um, You are doing another streaming series now, a newer one that you do with Viktor um, who is a pretty well-known person in the community.

Um, do you wanna tell us about that?

Whitney: I love Viktor so much. I'm, I feel just like, I feel like wild gratitude that I even got the chance to have this job in the first place. I feel wild gratitude that I got the opportunity to do a keynote. I'm like, again in like, awe that like I'm doing a show with Viktor. It's so, I feel so, so much gratitude.

But, um, so what happened with that was Viktor and I, uh, I, we just, you know how it is, we all see each other around at conferences. So and I became friends when I spoke at JBCN in Barcelona, and also he was a guest on my show at about the same time. So that just solidified it all. And then, um, when it became came time to do KubeCon proposals, I knew I wanted to do one with Viktor.

And I've since learned that Viktor says yes to everybody who, who says, Hey, do you do a, a KubeCon proposal? But I, in the moment, I didn't know that. So when he said yes to me, I felt special. What actually happened is I have a bit of a planner and I just got to him first before the other 10 people he said yes to.

Rich: That's really funny.

Whitney: So mental note, if you wanna collaborate with Viktor, get, it's a, it's a race. It's not whether he agrees to it. So, um, but then we, so we scheduled a meeting to like write the abstract or sit down and didn't even come up with an idea.

And we're like, in a Zoom call and we're just looking at each other and we're like, okay, what are we gonna talk about?

Because Viktor knows everything and I don't know very much. I mean, I, I, I. At this point, I gotta say, I know some things for,

Like, I don't wanna undersell myself, but, um, compared to Viktor, he's been around for decades. He's very prolific. He has a, um, a DevOps Toolkit YouTube channel, and I, I, I do not know how he makes as much content as he

Rich: It's really successful too.

Whitney: And Yeah, uh, he has a lot of opinions. There isn't a technology he hasn't touched. He knows everybody. And so we're just like, what is, it's like a lion and a lamb sitting in a, in a Zoom call. Like, what, okay, how are we gonna join forces here? What's going on? And so I, I had thought of, I was like, I have this idea.

It seems kind of outrageous. It might be terrible. I don't know. And he's just like, just tell it to me. Just bring it. And I was like, well, what I've always wanted to see, like what I've, for my mental model to try to understand the whole CNCF space is like, I've really wanted to know what it would be like, like a linear view of what it would be like for an application to go from production, like all the way to serving end users.

And like I, I've asked that question to people before and I understand that it's too complex, that to answer easily. But like, there's gotta be like, even if it's an opinionated way, like something, so I could see the, the picture and I was like, maybe it could even be like choices. Maybe it's like choose your own adventure.

And then like, like, so it was the first and only idea that ever came from our brainstorming session. And he like, like it took him like ten seconds and he is like, that's a, that's an amazing idea. Like, and, and we wrote the abstract came together quickly and then we pretty much, we started realizing the scope of the thing is just so huge and, um, and we should make it into a streaming show that we did, that we do together.

So we have a streaming show called You Choose where we wanna take, so we, we hope in, not even hope we're going to have the whole touch, the whole CNCF landscape, which Viktor says is over 200 projects.

So we, we have, and when we're gonna do a choose your own adventure style journey through the whole dang thing.

Um, in the short term, right now we're on chapter one. We just felt, we just, uh, recorded episode three this morning. So chapter one is simply getting the application from the developer's laptop to a development environment. And we have seven episodes in chapter one.

So e episode one was about what, how are we gonna build a container?

And we had three different choices. Uh, Cloud Native Buildpacks, um, Carvel kbld,, no, yes. Carvel kbld,, and Lima, which we use as nerd, uh, containerd and nerdctl underneath. And so we had three guests, one representing each of those projects. And the guest each gets only five minutes to describe their tech.

They can use slides and demo, but again, we want the bare minimum of like, what is important about your tech. We don't want the bells and whistles that's distracting, like we want you to, and we want you to take the time to think about what's good and, and what fits our story rather than just spitting out everything you know.

So three guests, five minutes each, and then we put a vote up and then people vote on which one they wanna see. And then whatever one, we don't wanna say wins because it's not a competition, um, so whichever one is chosen is the one that we'll build into an ongoing demo in the next episode. So episode one

Rich: That's super interesting.

Whitney: Yeah, it's gonna be so, it is so fun.

So episode one was building a container image and, uh, Cloud Native Buildpacks was chosen. So episode two was, um, a container image registry and Harbor was chosen for that.

So our demo right now is a, an image built with Cloud Native Buildpacks that's now in a Harbor registry. The the one we just had this morning, we had four guests on this morning, we had, um, so we're talking about, uh, defining the application or configuring it. Same thing. Um, And that had, uh, cdk8s, Carvel ytt, Helm and Kustomize a guest for each. So there's a, a poll up on Twitter right now. If you wanna watch the episode and vote. You have

a few days to

Rich: It's not, over yet?

Whitney: Oh, no, no, no. Well, we just, we're just getting started and this is gonna go for years.

Like, but

Rich: will probably be done by the time this comes out. I think that it's gonna

Whitney: Oh, oh, okay. Fair enough. Well, you can visit it online. There'll be something. Yeah, Um.

Rich: Yeah.

Whitney: Yeah, and you can see which one from which one won from that, and check out what episode we're on and weigh your, your opinion. There is, uh, some folks are, are trying to make it, get people to vote for just whatever seems the hardest, just so Viktor will have to build that into a demo.

Rich: That's really funny.

Yeah. I mean the, the, the, yeah.

The first thing that came into my mind was, was like whether you all are open to bribery or if there's some way to, I guess not. It doesn't matter if it's the audience voting, so maybe,

Whitney: Yeah.

Rich: Yeah.

Whitney: I don't think we could even if we wanted to,

Rich: How do you bribe

Whitney: Sway the.

Rich: I'll think about this.

Whitney: Yeah.

And so, oh yeah, we'll touch everything eventually. It's gonna be so fun. And then I'm trying to make Enlightening episodes to keep up with the pace of You Choose so that I know about every technology, at least a little bit before I'm speaking about it in public, just as a courtesy to everyone who has to listen to me talk.

Rich: Yeah. Yeah.

That's super cool. Um, you have mentioned dealing with imposter syndrome, which is something that I deal with as well, and, um, I think it's, it's good that people talk about this. I think it's important, you know, for, for people to understand. Um, I think that, um, there's the assumption that you get imposter syndrome as a beginner and that maybe it goes away after a little bit. And that's not been my experience at all. Like I think it's followed me around for, for much of my career. Um, I'm wondering like, like what you have done in your life to sort of help deal with that.

Whitney: I definitely, like, I go to regular therapy all the time, but I, I took advantage of, uh, like VMware's benefits to get like a coach person to specifically work with me about imposter syndrome.

And um, The, yeah, it, it was very helpful. And what I got from that, let's see if I can remember. It's been a while. Um, it's like just if someone compliments you, you're meant to own your success outright.

You don't make excuses for, for Oh, like, so, and I try to do that and I'm actually. I'm pretty good at it, I'm improving. Um, I can say I was surprised to get the keynote without disowning the fact that I might deserve to have it. Like I'm doing hard with my words to

Rich: Yes.

Whitney: Not, say things like, yeah, I don't deserve to have it.


Rich: It's not, it's not irrational to be surprised, right? Because

Whitney: Right.

Rich: It's incredibly competitive and there's a lot of really amazing people submitting talks. Yeah.

Whitney: Yeah. Or, um, take luck out of the equa equation. So I, I keep saying I'm grateful, but I try not to say I was just, I was lucky because I, um, 'cause like I need to learn to own my success and, and I. I mean, without any ego, the fact that I'm having these quote unquote lucky things happen so consistently maybe means that I have something to do with it.

Rich: Yeah. Absolutely.

Whitney: it's, I'm trying my best to own that.



Rich: I mean, honestly, you're really lucky to be on this show, so. Ha ha.

Whitney: Absolutely. I really, I am though, I don't know. I'm, uh, grateful. I'll say grateful.

Rich: Yeah,

No, I think that, I think that's a really good attitude. I think that, um, Yeah, probably one of the hardest things that, one of the things that I have trouble with the most is like comparing myself to people, you know. And I think I even mentioned this in the episode that I did with Joe Beda. I'm not a hundred percent sure, but like he's literally a person who I would see on Twitter, or I would see him do his streaming show and I would feel like, oh, I'm just like dumb compared to this guy when it comes to Kubernetes. And then of course, like. He's one of the people who invented Kubernetes, so it's completely irrational for me to ever expect to know as much about it as he does.

Whitney: Yeah.

Rich: Yeah.

Whitney: I think I, I did a hundred percent when I first got to VMware, think I, I, I'll never know as much as my colleagues. Like I was around people and they just knew so much. And I do feel now that. I, I'm not meant to know what they know, or at least not the way they know it. Like I'm meant to be my full self and my full self resonates with other people.

And, and it's not about like quantity of what, you know, or, or even technical chops necessarily. I think, um, just being honest about being, like, I didn't know all the different words for computer when I started. Like that's, I guess technically an embarrassing story, but I think it's something that people can relate to.

And, and, just being honest about where you are and where you're coming from. You, me, anybody is, that's like being human is is how people relate to you.

Rich: Yeah, I think that's, that's, uh, that's all spot on. And like, there's this weird thing that happens too where, um, I mean I definitely have this where, you know, people sometimes, um, or I would say even often assume that I know more than what I really do. You know, even, you know, just because I've been in the industry for a long time, and so

Whitney: I

Rich: there's.

I have the

Whitney: opposite problem, but yeah, I can relate.

Rich: Yeah. Well, I'm also one of those white guys you were talking about too, so that, that probably doesn't hurt, but, um, but yeah. No, that's interesting. Um, and so besides doing these shows, um, where you have people on and get them to teach you about things like what are some of the other, um, ways that you like to, like learn about new technologies

Whitney: I was gonna say a couple more things about imposter syndrome.

Rich: then go ahead.

Whitney: One it, this is hard to do, but try not to care what anybody thinks of you. There's a, uh, an idiom. Um, what other people think about you is none of your business, which,

Rich: Oh

Whitney: Which I like that. I don't know where it came from, but I like that quote. Um, today during the stream with Viktor, someone text, someone, put in the, in the stream chat, "That lady laughs too much." And I was just like, wow. I think actually I have the urge, I haven't done it yet 'cause the stream was just freshly over. But I have the urge to screenshot it and like put it on my Twitter and be like a badge of honor. You know? Like, I'm like, I definitely wanna be the lady that laughs too

But, um, but I think an early, even me like just getting started at VMware, because I wasn't very secure yet, I think that really could have taken down my mood and my, like I do laugh a lot and I accidentally put the comment on screen when I meant to comment something else. So then I put myself in a position where I need to address it, and I was just like, you know what friends? That's just who I am.

And if, if that's not for you, then, then, probably the show's not for you. But thank you for your feedback. And it's, um, yeah. So just own your own who you are, even if it, you can't please everyone all the time.

Rich: Absolutely.

Whitney: And then other. And then the other thing is similar to what we were talking about before is when you, there are plenty of times where I see, okay, there... Sometimes you see someone on a stage and you're like, wow, I'll never know as much as them, and it's intimidating. But there's also the flip side of that where sometimes you see people on a stage and you're like, wow, why do they think they deserve to be up there? Like they haven't prepared at all. Like they're not taking it very seriously.

Like where do they get the, the cajones to feel like that, that people should be listening to them? I see both types, right?

When you see the, the type of person who's up there who just flatly deserves, thinks they deserve to be up there, even without being prepared, instead of like being mad at that person, which I definitely have been.

But I think that the thing to do there is be like, I want that energy in my life and like, figure out how to channel like that. Like if that person can get up there and be unprepared, imagine what happens when I'm prepared. I what? What? Like, of course I deserve to be up there if I took the time, to, to use, like everyone's time is valuable, and anyone watching the show, listening to a podcast, your time is very valuable.

And as someone who's putting content out into the public, I, I appreciate that you're sharing your time with me. And I am going to treat your time with honor, and I do that by being prepared before I am in front of an audience. And that makes me feel, um, I don't have to know everything, but if I know that I've tried my best, then that gives me peace of mind that I'm not an imposter.

Rich: Yeah, that's a great point. I've definitely seen some folks that are very well known in DevRel get up and just wing it sometimes and have it not go well, you know?

And, and yeah, it's, it's kind of shocking sometimes, but it's like, I think that that probably the, there's a confidence that comes with having done a million talks, you know, and you just feel like you could, you could do it without, without preparing.

Whitney: Yeah.

Rich: Um, so

I was asked

Whitney: I'm not saying don't prepare, I'm just saying channel the energy of someone who doesn't

Rich: absolutely.

Whitney: still feels like they deserve it. Yeah.

Rich: Absolutely. Um, alright, so I was asking you about learning. So besides like doing your fantastic shows, like what are some other ways that you like to learn about new technologies?

Whitney: So I have a, this is little bit off from the question you're asking, but I'm going

Rich: Okay.

Whitney: gonna, I'm gonna morph it into what I want to talk about, which is

Rich: This is a very important skill for politicians and all kinds of other people. It's to answer the question that you wish they asked, not the one they asked.

Whitney: Exactly, um, uh, so I, my youngest brother, not the musician, he taught himself Japanese with a strategy. He read a book called Fluent Forever that he bought me a copy of that book, and it's a, a, a strategy called Spaced Repetition Learning. And so I, he gave me the book Fluent Forever, and it happened before I started bootcamp and I started to teach myself Spanish 'cause I want to learn Spanish.

I'm, I'm actually in the progress of learning Spanish and um, and, but pretty soon when I switched to tech, I realized, oh, there's no way I can study Spanish. And then when I got into cloud and realized the vast amount of stuff I need to know to succeed, I started making, using this Spaced Repetition, learning style, but for cloud knowledge instead of for language learning.

So it's a, it's a extremely efficient way to learn very large amounts of information.

Rich: So can you explain it?

Whitney: Um, space repetition learning is, um, when you learn something like in your brain, like physically, uh, a, a neural connection is formed. And if you want to strengthen that, the stronger that connection is, the stronger it is, you know, that information.

And so if you want to strengthen that connection, the most efficient way to do it is to, to introduce to yourself, to the information again, right before you're about to forget it. So at first it's only a 10 minute, well, let me think. It's like a one minute interval, and it's not this much exact, when you're actually studying the cards, but like at first you'll see it once you get the flashcard right, and then you'll see it again one minute later, and then you get that flashcard right.

You'll see it again 10 minutes later, and then you'll see it again the next day. Then three days from now, then a week from now.

Then a month from now. And so, um, I've been, I've been doing this. I did it on and off at IBM and then once I got to VMware, I've been consistent about it. So it's been about two years that I've studied my Anki deck every day.

And, um, right now I have cards that I won't see again for like three or four years. Like, bye friend, I'll say. Or I can see cards of like what I was learning when I was first getting started, and I'll think to myself all the time, like that was a really silly thing that I needed to mem, felt like I needed to memorize.

Um, but it,

Rich: the name of an app or,

Whitney: Uh, Anki is the name of an app. Yes, it's open source. Actually, A- N-K-I Is how you spell that.

Mm-hmm. So different plugins and yeah, I'm pretty sure it's open source. It's great and it has shaped, so when I do an Enlightening episode, I have the gift of being one-on-one, taught about a technology.

But then I also, the, maybe later that day or the next day, I'll turn around and make Anki cards of the great, of the main points, and then I just study them when they come up. I don't really think about when I need to study the thing next, but that knowledge will stick with me indefinitely, as long as I keep studying my cards.

And so in theory, I don't, you know, don't test me or anything, but in theory, if I've ever touched a, a technology on my show, I should, if you ask me about it seven years from now, I still should be able to tell you some of the main

Rich: Wow.

Whitney: Whenever, um,

Rich: I've, I've forgotten more than, than I've learned. I think about technology at this point.

Whitney: Well, and then there's gonna be, I do wonder, like, because technology changes so fast, like I'll, I'll start to get to cards and be like, well, that's not true anymore. Yeah.

That's not how that goes. Or what, who even caress about Kubernetes now? It's five years later, you know?

Rich: We're we're on to the next thing, whatever that is. Um, cool. Well, uh, this has been a little bit of a marathon since we, uh, had 20 minutes that aren't accounted for even in the recording. Um, so I think I, uh, we should probably wrap it up, but, um, I really appreciate you coming on. It's been super, super fun to chat with you.

Um, I think that you are, um, someone who really, uh, has a lot to offer to the community, um, that you're doing really cool content that, that, can benefit a lot of people. So, um, it was really, really nice to have you on here. Um, is there anything else that you would like to plug for the listeners besides like Enlightening and the You Choose thing? Um, I'll make sure to link to those in the show notes.

Whitney: Yeah, I, I just started my own YouTube channel, which is very underpopulated right now. And I'm, um, uh, for the, You Choose, basically I'm, I'm challenging myself to make a one minute YouTube short about over my recent Enlightening episodes. So that's really the, the fresh content that's coming into the, the YouTube channel.

But it also is a single place where you can see all the Enlightening episodes, all the YouTubes episodes, all of my, the talks, the conference talks I've given that are published. So if you're interested in finding my video based work that my YouTube channel is where it's at, which is. @wiggetywhitney.

Rich: Cool. I will link to that too. Um, as the kids say, like, subscribe, hit the bell, all of that.

I didn't

Whitney: know about the hit the bell one. I, I've avoided saying those things so far.

Rich: All right, well, well, thank you so much, Whitney.

Whitney: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate that you thought of me and invited me to be on the show.

Rich: Kube Cuddle is created and hosted by me, Rich Burroughs. If you enjoyed the podcast, please consider telling a friend. It helps a lot. Big thanks to Emily Griffin who designed the logo. You can find her at daybrighten.com. And thanks to Monplaisir for our music. You can find more of his work at loyaltyfreakmusic.com. Thanks a lot for listening.