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Q & A: Tyler Jefford

Developer, Entrepreneur, Musician, Friend of Felines

Tyler Jefford

Q: So let’s cut to the chase, you have a new podcast entitled “Shots & Bytes”. I’ve been following it through each episode. The episodes seem to be developing not only in length of content, but the depth of topic coverage. You also seem to present a balanced overview, and anything controversial (e.g., the “Mars” episode) is dealt with by presenting both sides of any “debate” related to the topic. Are these planned approaches? Do you plan on interjecting more personal opinion in the future?

A: My process is definitely very planned out. Every week I gather up a full list of articles in my Pocket app and then sit down and read through them at night. I then write up some show notes based on the content. I think because of this approach it allows me to present a bigger picture without needing to present my opinion, however I am not opposed to shift toward more opinionated presentations in the future. The podcast is so young still, and I am constantly reevaluating my self both in content and in presentation. I keep a pretty close eye on the numbers and If I try something new, I can see the impact that has on the show. For example, the first episode has a different intro and outro music that didn’t seem to resonate with my listeners, so I changed it to what it is now.

Q: What can you tell us about any other future endeavors you have planned, or current projects you have in the works?

A: I feel like I always say “I have a lot of irons in the fire”, but it is true. I am placing a lot of my focus on the podcast right now and on growing the audience base. I am laying out a plan for the next few months on what to do with the show, in terms of content, branding and production schedule. There are so many really neat and fun opportunities that are presenting themselves and I have had to learn not to say yes to everything. There are a couple things that are moving forward that you should be seeing in the next few months, but I can’t talk about it just yet. Other than that, I want to do a lot of things, like write a book or put out an EP of some songs I’ve written.

Q: You are a developer with managerial experience. What have you learned from that and your experiences at a top-notch firm in a large metropolitan area? More concisely, what has helped your technical proficiency as well as your interpersonal effectiveness, and how exactly do you think they overlap, if at all?

A: This is a great question and could be a written into novel, so I’ll break it into a couple pieces.

  • Keep your ears and mind open
    • No matter how much you think you know, there is always something to be learned from the people you work with. Even if you are a CEO or a jr sales consultant, everyone has a different view of how something works, or how a process could be improved.
  • Stay Current
    • You don’t need to learn every single new javascript library that comes out every week, but it doesn’t hurt to glance over the syntax. Never stop learning new techniques, new languages new skills, etc. This will make you more valuable to your company, or more desirable to others.
  • Be flexible
    • This is where I think technical proficiency and interpersonal effectiveness meet. Flexibility in the kind of project you do if you’re a backend developer and you assist on a front end project. Or if a client has called and needs an accelerated timeline, being flexible with adjusting your schedule to complete the work. A big component to being flexible is to not let road blocks stress you out, but to view them as opportunities to grow and get around them a different way.

Tyler's royal feline companion, Prince Tuesday

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? If your career was a pie chart what would it look like, for example percentage of technical work, managerial, entrepreneurship, etc.?

A: Alive. I’ve never liked this question in interviews, Its so hard to predict the future even if you’re building your own road. My goal is to keep up the podcast and getting a couple things off the ground and start supporting those. I need to manage my time, and my projects, but I am also building them too, so a pie chart would be more like a bar chart for each project needing variable amounts of work and management.

Q: You are obviously thriving in a big city. Some find the sheer variety and magnitude overwhelming. What are some tips, especially for up and coming tech workers in regard to living in a large metro area, once they do land the big job?

A: I have actually taken part as a mentor for high school students that are interested in the tech scene in Chicago. The cool thing is Chicago is growing as a place to plant your startup, with some major VCs looking to the work ethics coming from America’s heartland. When you look at how many massive companies have come out of Chicagoland, it’s staggering. McDonalds, Walgreens, United Airlines, Groupon, Kraft, Sears, Boeing… the list goes on. Often times I hear “I have an app idea, now I need to get funding and get into an incubator”. Which is one way to do things, the other is actually building out a concept first and if you don’t have the experience to make your idea come to life, look for someone who would help build it. When you’re in a bigger city, you just have more people, so there are more opportunities to network and more options when it comes to getting your business going.

Thanks to Tyler for sharing his time and insight. His podcast is available via the website Shots & Bytes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and iTunes. You can follow Tyler on Twitter @tjefford

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L. Ball
L. Ball

Father. Developer. Coffee Connoisseur. Amateur Guitarist.