Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots

About the show

A podcast about the design, development, and business of great software. Each week thoughtbot's Chad Pytel is joined by the people who build and nurture the products we love.


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    thoughtbot's Incubator Program Mini Season 3 - Episode 04: Goodz with Mike Rosenthal and Chris Cerrito

    December 5th, 2023  |  Season 13  |  25 mins 46 secs

    Startup founders Mike Rosenthal and Chris Cerrito are participating in thoughtbot's eight-week incubator program. Mike, with a background in the music industry, and Chris, experienced in physical computing and exhibit development, are collaborating on a startup that creates physical objects linked to digital content, primarily in music. Their goal is to enhance the connection between tangible and digital experiences, starting with a product that resembles a mixtape, using NFC technology for easy access to digital playlists.

    This project is unique within the thoughtbot incubator as it's the first pure consumer product and involves both physical and digital elements. The team is engaged in user interviews and market validation, with the aim of launching a physical product with a digital backend. They are exploring various marketing strategies for the product and are in the process of building its technical backend.

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    502: OKRs and Business Coaching with Evan Hammer

    November 30th, 2023  |  Season 11  |  36 mins 53 secs

    Today's conversation revolves around the importance and challenges of goal setting within organizations. It highlights how identifying and articulating real problems can be transformative, turning abstract desires for growth into concrete plans for improvement. Host Victoria Guido and special guest Evan Hammer discuss the nuances of leadership and organizational self-awareness, emphasizing the need for honesty and a growth mindset when addressing weaknesses. They touch on Evan's role as an OKR Coach in fostering alignment, focus, and excitement around goals, particularly in small to mid-sized companies.

    Evan shares his enthusiasm for goal setting and believes his passion can inspire others. He points out the positive outcomes when employees engage with goals that address problems they care about. Victoria and Evan agree that success is not solely measured by hitting OKRs but also by engagement and alignment within the team. They discuss the ideal organizations for Evan's work, which include small to medium-sized companies seeking to improve focus and alignment, as well as start-up teams needing more straightforward goal statements and go-to-market strategies. Evan also recounts his experience as a Techstars mentor, noting that a common issue across companies is the lack of clear goals, and he emphasizes the power of focus as a lever for growth.

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    thoughtbot's Incubator Program Mini Season 3 - Episode 03: Knect with Josh Herzig-Marx

    November 28th, 2023  |  Season 13  |  24 mins 31 secs

    A key focus of Josh's second episode is the importance of user research and customer discovery. Josh stresses that talking to users is crucial, as it grounds the development process in reality. thoughtbot's Director of Product Strategy, Jordyn Bonds, adds that direct engagement with users builds empathy and understanding within the team, making it more effective.

    They also discuss the challenges of identifying a product's target audience and the importance of iterative customer feedback. Josh and Jordyn highlight the need for founders to be resilient and open to feedback, even when it's negative.

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    501: GNOME and OpenKids Africa with Regina Nkenchor

    November 22nd, 2023  |  Season 11  |  38 mins 35 secs

    Host Victoria Guido and special guest Regina Nkenchor discuss the evolution and impact of Regina's work with the GNOME Project and OpenKids Africa. Regina explains how the GNOME Project is advancing its Global Inclusive Initiative, aiming to amplify diverse voices within the community and contribute to GNOME's development. She expresses enthusiasm for OpenKids Africa's efforts to incorporate technology education in rural communities, primarily through engaging early childhood teachers in understanding and teaching tech like virtual reality and robotics.

    Victoria probes into strategies for sparking children's interest in technology, with Regina advocating for a co-creative, experience-based approach that includes real-life applications and interactive participation. They also touch on the challenges of balancing professional and personal commitments. Regina shares her ongoing journey to find balance by prioritizing and delegating while still maintaining her nonprofit work and her role at the GNOME Project.

    They also talk about personal growth and community engagement. Regina advises newcomers to leverage open-source tools and be open to change while encouraging fair treatment within the open-source community. Victoria reflects on her experiences with Women Who Code, highlighting the importance of community involvement and networking for career advancement. Both emphasize the significance of creating safe, welcoming spaces in tech communities to foster inclusion and support, especially for women in tech.

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    500: Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots 500th Episode!

    November 16th, 2023  |  Season 11  |  1 hr 12 mins

    We released episode one of this podcast on June 11, 2012. Now, more than a decade later, we're celebrating the 500th episode of our show. In honor of this milestone, Victoria, Will, and Chad caught up with each of the past hosts of the show: Ben Orenstein, Chris Toomey, and Lindsey Christensen.

    We chatted about what they’re up to now, what they liked and learned from hosting the show, their time at thoughtbot, and more!

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    thoughtbot's Incubator Program Mini Season 3 - Episode 02: Goodz with Mike Rosenthal and Chris Cerrito

    November 14th, 2023  |  Season 13  |  33 mins 35 secs

    This episode introduces the second participants of the season's thoughtbot's Incubator Program, Mike Rosenthal and Chris Cerrito. Mike has a background in music industry marketing, and Chris is a maker and tinkerer with experience in exhibit development. They're developing a product combining physical objects with digital content, starting with music. Their concept involves creating physical items like wooden mixtapes with NFC chips linking to digital playlists. This blend of physical and digital aims to revive the tangible aspects of fan engagement in a digital era.

    Their project, named Goodz, is the first pure consumer product in the Incubator program, adding complexities like supply chain and manufacturing considerations. The team is conducting user interviews to validate market interest and refine their messaging. They aim to have a functioning physical product and a supporting digital backend by the end of the program. Challenges include defining the target market and understanding how to attract customers to a new product type. The thoughtbot team is excited about the project due to its fun nature and technical aspects, offering a fresh perspective compared to problem-focused startups.

    The conversation also explores the broader implications of bridging the digital and physical worlds in fan engagement, with the potential to collect valuable data for artists and create lasting, meaningful connections for fans.

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    499: Infinite Red with Jamon Holmgren

    November 9th, 2023  |  Season 11  |  47 mins 46 secs

    Jamon Holmgren is the founder of Infinite Red, a consultancy specializing in React Native. He discusses his journey and insights into technology and leadership and highlights how Infinite Red stands as a testament that businesses can be run ethically while still achieving success.

    The conversation then shifts to leadership styles and the principle of "one-minute praise" from the book "One Minute Manager." Both Jamon and Will agree that acknowledging others' efforts openly can make a significant difference, enhancing leadership skills and building stronger relationships. Will points out how this simple principle has been a game-changer for him in various aspects of life, including his personal relationships.

    Towards the end, the focus turns to motivation and long-term strategy. Jamon is driven by his enthusiasm for learning and the thrill of tackling diverse challenges in his consultancy work. He also shares his philosophy of keeping the company "10 degrees above the horizon," emphasizing steady, sustainable growth rather than erratic leaps and bounds.

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    thoughtbot's Incubator Program Mini Season 3 - Episode 01: Knect with Josh Herzig-Marx

    November 7th, 2023  |  Season 13  |  37 mins 28 secs

    thoughtbot's Incubator Program is back for a third round! This episode introduces founder Josh Herzig-Marks of Knect, and he will be sharing his journey from freelance work to joining the program and what happens throughout! So far, he appreciates the deliberate communication practices required for practical remote work, despite remote work already being second nature to him, and he understands the importance of proactive and transparent communication in a team setting.

    One critical insight for Josh so far was the misconception surrounding the term "CRM" in personal relationship management. His moment involved mislabeling a survey, which led to confusion about the project's intent.

    As the Incubator Program progresses and continues to scale, Jordyn expresses excitement about involving more teams with different geographic focuses. The goal is to foster a collaborative environment within the thoughtbot Incubator Slack channel, encouraging past and present participants to share experiences and advice.

    We invite listeners who resonate with any of the challenges heard or have potential solutions to reach out! Our next Incubator episode will introduce our other Session 3 participants, Mike and Chris, founders of Goodz.

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    498: RubyConf San Diego with Chelsea Kaufman and Allison McMillan

    November 2nd, 2023  |  Season 11  |  35 mins 7 secs

    In this episode, the focus is on RubyConf, the upcoming conference dedicated to the Ruby programming language. They start by talking about the origin and evolution of RubyConf, highlighting its growth in attendance and its impact on the Ruby community. Chelsea details how the conference has adapted to the digital format due to the COVID-19 pandemic but points out the value of in-person connections. They are looking forward to the Community Day event, which will feature various activities to encourage community interaction and an acknowledgment of scholarships that would help more people attend.

    The event will offer various programming options, workshops, and talks to cater to newcomers and seasoned professionals. There will also be some level of hands-on learning through hacking activities. The conference aims to be inclusive, offering opportunities for mentorship and growth, regardless of one's career stage.

    Towards the end, the discussion shifts to Ruby Central, the organizing body behind RubyConf and RailsConf. Chelsea and Allison describe multiple avenues for community engagement, ranging from board membership to open-source contributions. They also encourage donations and corporate sponsorships. Don't miss your chance to register for RubyConf and engage with the fantastic Ruby community!

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    thoughtbot's Incubator Program Mini Season - Episode 04: AvidFirst with Ashley Sheble

    November 1st, 2023  |  Season 12  |  28 mins 23 secs

    Dawn Delatte, Vendela Colavecchio, and Jordyn Bonds interview Ashley Sheble, the Founder of AvidFirst, about her experiences and progress in thoughtbot's Incubator Program, which aims to help founders like Ashley turn an idea into a viable product.

    The discussion covers various aspects of the program, including the evolution of the product idea, insights gained from industry conferences, the importance of listening to customers, and the ongoing development of the go-to-market strategy. Everyone emphasizes the value of the Incubator Program in helping founders connect with their market and refine their strategy.

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    thoughtbot's Incubator Program Mini Season - Episode 03: AvidFirst with Ashley Sheble

    November 1st, 2023  |  Season 12  |  23 mins 36 secs

    Dawn Delatte and Jordyn Bonds interview Ashley Sheble, the Founder of AvidFirst, about her experiences and progress in thoughtbot's Incubator Program, which aims to help founders like Ashley turn an idea into a viable product.

    In the third part of the Mini Incubator Series, they talk about user interviews, data analysis, and prototyping to validate ideas. They emphasize the importance of being open to user signals and adjusting their approach accordingly. They also discuss the upcoming weeks of the program and the goal of refining their story and business strategy.

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    thoughtbot's Incubator Program Mini Season - Episode 02: AvidFirst with Ashley Sheble

    November 1st, 2023  |  Season 12  |  25 mins 20 secs

    In this second conversation in this Mini Incubator Series, Dawn Delatte and Jordyn Bonds interview Ashley Sheble, the Founder of AvidFirst, about her experiences and progress in thoughtbot's incubator program. thoughtbot's Incubator Program aims to help founders like Ashley turn an idea into a viable product.

    The trio talks about Ashley's experiences and progress in the program. She emphasizes the significance of user research and interviews in shaping product strategy and understanding customer needs. She also highlights the need to narrow their focus to specific customer segments to build a product that resonates with a particular group. Additionally, they discuss the complexities of the FinTech industry and how regulatory considerations are an integral part of their product development process. As they gain more insights, they are transitioning into the prototyping and testing phase to validate their product concepts and messaging.

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    thoughtbot's Incubator Program Mini Season - Episode 01: AvidFirst with Ashley Sheble

    November 1st, 2023  |  Season 12  |  30 mins 38 secs

    Lindsey Christensen is back as the Marketing Lead at thoughtbot! She's joined by guests Jordyn Bonds, the Director of Product Strategy at thoughtbot, and Ashley Sheble, a founder currently participating in thoughtbot's eight-week startup incubator, to discuss the multifaceted journey of entrepreneurship.

    thoughtbot's Incubator Program aims to help founders like Ashley turn an idea into a viable product. They're currently at the stage of validating assumptions about the problem space and target market. Jordyn introduces a new concept: a project roadmap visualization that includes an "emotions workstream." This is designed to help founders anticipate and navigate the emotional rollercoaster often associated with the early stages of startup development.

    Ashley finds the roadmap valuable, especially as it challenges her to examine her ideas from multiple perspectives. She appreciates the one-on-one support from the Incubator team, which complements her own expertise. She also speaks to the liberating aspect of acknowledging emotions in the startup journey, which is especially pertinent for female founders who often face additional challenges like lack of funding.

    Jordyn emphasizes the importance of early and continuous customer engagement for product validation and innovation. She encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to talk to potential customers as soon as possible to iterate and learn from these interactions. Jordan and Ashley stress that embracing the logical and emotional aspects of entrepreneurship leads to more effective and grounded decision-making.

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    497: Axiom with Seif Lotfy

    October 19th, 2023  |  Season 11  |  39 mins 13 secs

    Victoria is joined by guest co-host Joe Ferris, CTO at thoughtbot, and Seif Lotfy, the CTO and Co-Founder of Axiom. Seif discusses the journey, challenges, and strategies behind his data analytics and observability platform.

    Seif, who has a background in robotics and was a 2008 Sony AIBO robotic soccer world champion, shares that Axiom pivoted from being a Datadog competitor to focusing on logs and event data. The company even built its own logs database to provide a cost-effective solution for large-scale analytics. Seif is driven by his passion for his team and the invaluable feedback from the community, emphasizing that sales validate the effectiveness of a product. The conversation also delves into Axiom's shift in focus towards developers to address their need for better and more affordable observability tools.

    On the business front, Seif reveals the company's challenges in scaling across multiple domains without compromising its core offerings. He discusses the importance of internal values like moving with urgency and high velocity to guide the company's future. Furthermore, he touches on the challenges and strategies of open-sourcing projects and advises avoiding platforms like Reddit and Hacker News to maintain focus.

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    496: SmartCert with Lonni Kieffer

    October 12th, 2023  |  Season 11  |  43 mins 4 secs

    Hosts Will Larry and Victoria Guido talk with Lonni Kieffer, Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer at SmartCert. SmartCert's mission is to digitize and streamline the certificate transfer process in supply chains, mainly focusing on the aerospace industry. Lonni shares insights into the challenges of managing change within traditional industries, the importance of building a solid foundation of leadership and core values, and SmartCert's strategies for customer success and self-service.

    Lonni also shares the history of the company's growth and its focus on vendor accountability and internal processes to increase supply chain efficiency. SmartCert's platform offers features like document verification and digital signatures to facilitate accessible communication among teams. She discusses the role of their partner company, TechFabric, in building their MVP and how they've grown their internal team. She also highlights 2024 as a pivotal year for SmartCert, aiming for a global impact within the next five years.

    Regarding advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, Lonni emphasizes the importance of grit, flexibility, and a strong belief in one's mission. She also talks about the value of relationships in business growth and the critical role of sleep for effective functioning and decision-making.

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    495: Free Code Camp with Quincy Larson

    October 5th, 2023  |  Season 11  |  56 mins 49 secs

    Quincy Larson is the founder of, which helps people learn to code for free by creating thousands of videos, articles, and interactive coding lessons–all freely available to the public. Quincy shares his journey from transitioning from teaching into software development, how freeCodeCamp was born out of his desire to make educational systems more efficient through coding, and discusses the early challenges of bootstrapping the platform, and how it has now grown into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

    Quincy and hosts Victoria and Will, discuss the platform's technical architecture, especially their global server distribution and decision to rely on volunteer-led translation efforts rather than machines to ensure both the quality and human touch of their educational content. He also talks about the state of free and low-cost degree programs, the student loan crisis, and the ongoing debate between traditional computer science degrees and coding bootcamps.