Senior Software Developer and Community and Culture Steward at Aviture
Omaha, Nebraska, United States
Arthur (or Art, take your pick) has been a software engineer for 19 years and has worked on things as exciting as analysis software for casinos and things as boring as banking websites. He is an advocate for talking openly about mental health and psychology in the technical world, and he spends a lot of time thinking about how we program and why we program, and about the tools, structures, cultures, and mental processes that help and hinder us from our ultimate goal of writing amazing things. His hair is brown and his thorax is a shiny blue color.
Area of Expertise
Software is as close as humans are ever going to come to actual magic. You type arcane incantations using cryptic symbols, crafting messages incomprehensible to most mortals and communicating them to vast, unknowable systems, to be executed blindly by idiot machine gods who follow our instructions to the very character. We're an elite class of human, chosen through intense courses of secluded study, or simply by the winds of chance, to engage with this symbolic and mystic realm. But while we're comparing ourselves to wizards, witches, and sorcerers, we're actually leaving one of their most powerful tools on the table: rituals.
Let's learn what our brain does when we do an activity repeatedly, with other humans, or simply by ourselves. You'll learn the difference between a ritual and a routine, you'll discover why ritual practices are an important part of being a group, and you'll get an overview of when, where, and how to employ these powerful tools. You'll complete your magical arsenal, and you'll never look at a retrospective the same way again.
Each of the last few years have hit like a brick to the temple. It felt like the entire world was upended. There’s been radical shifts in the way we work, endless video conference calls, social and political unrest, and lots of tough choices about our health and the health of those we love and care about. In short, it’s been a complete trainwreck of psychological trauma, with no clear signs of when normality will ever return. In times like this, it might feel like there’s nothing you can do but hold on for dear life.
But there *are* things you can do. You can start to understand what happened to your brain during this time. You can figure out how your brain handles traumatic events like this, learn how to recover as things slowly start to get better, and you can begin to prepare yourself for future crises. Take the time to make your brain your ally, and you won’t be fighting it during the next crisis that comes along.
Conflict at work is as inevitable as the tides - like the old joke says, if you put five software engineers in a room, you’ll have seven opinions. Whether the conflict is over what language to use, what frameworks are the new hotness, or even just tabs vs spaces, conflict can get ugly. Tempers flare, positions are staked out in absolute terms, feelings are hurt, working relationships are destroyed… if only there were a way to avoid the negative consequences.
What if I told you that there is? Let’s take a journey together towards a wholly different approach to conflict - a collaborative one. In this talk, you’ll learn how to use conflict to fuel better software, better teams, and better companies. You’ll learn how to structure your team’s environment to draw out good conflict, to squelch the bad conflict, and to handle conflict when it becomes personal. We’ll discuss how to manage different confrontational styles, avoid self-sealing prophecies, and even how to deal with conflict when you lack control. Conflict should fuel your progress, not hinder it - and after this talk, you can make that happen.
When everyone was forced to work remotely, there was a simultaneous rise in conflict at work - partially this was due to the stress people were under, but it was also due to the fact that text mediums like Slack strip context clues out of the communication.
When paired with the fact that many developers don't handle well in the best of times, it's not a great situation. So I'd like to offer a different way to think about conflict!
Modern software requires the efforts of a coordinated, dedicated team of individuals. We need to work with other people, and in order to do that, we have to maintain relationships with them. But no matter how polite, conscientious, or amiable you are, there’s still something that’s always working against you - your own brain, and its host of cognitive biases. For the last several years, books and podcasts and presentations have warned of the danger of cognitive biases, but we just haven’t had the ammunition to fight against them effectively… until now.
A new wave of cutting-edge psychological research is showing us how to fight back against our cognitive biases, and you can make use of it! You’ll learn how to diminish attribution errors, how to grapple with tribalism, and how to jump the empathy gap. Find out how to knock illusory superiority down to size, and how to extinguish the halo effect. And the best part is that the only piece of hardware you’ll need to do it is the thing you already have between your ears - your own brain.
As the abstract says, this talk is the outcome of new research coming out which deals with not just *knowing* about cognitive biases, but actually working on *reducing* their effects on your thinking, so I'm super excited to bring this to folks. With remote work, it's more important than ever to be intentional about relationships.
After the events of the last several years, burnout has been on everyone’s minds. Are you feeling nostalgia for the days when your job wasn’t such a hassle? Do you find yourself struggling to care about your job… or anything at all? You may be wrestling with burnout.. But what exactly IS burnout? If you’re dealing with it, what do you do about it, or how do you talk to someone else about it?
Come and get a glimpse beneath the surface of this phenomenon in this talk pulling from both personal experiences and psychological studies. You’ll learn the basics of burnout... and also what sorts of situations lead to it, how it can intertwine with other mental challenges including trauma, and why fixing it isn’t just as simple as taking time off work. Most importantly, you’ll learn things you can start doing tomorrow to bounce back from burnout, and how you can even help prevent it for yourself and others.
Are you sick of the words "motivation", "empowerment", "engagement", or "incentivize"? Are you convinced that any attempt to actually motivate you, your coworkers, or your employees is doomed to end in a dystopian Dilbert-like nightmare? Do you suspect some of your coworkers - or even you - might be motivated by something other than money (and might even be replicants)? No need for a Voight-Kampff test... just come learn about the psychology of motivation, and how your brain responds to it! We'll cover the history of motivation theory, some more modern concepts that aren't often talked about, and then offer some suggestions about how to use your new knowledge to help your company - or at least you - finally get rid of those "Teamwork!" posters on the walls.
The thing is, we’re never really taught HOW to learn things - we’re expected to just figure it out ourselves. It is my opinion that this is Really Terrible. If you share that opinion, do something about it by coming to this talk! We’ll cover the types of learning and how to find which ones work for you. Do you wonder how learning a new framework is different than learning best practices for that framework? We’ll discuss that, too! We’ll also talk about the neuroscience of learning, how your brain connects cause and effect, the tricks your memory plays on you, and more. By the end, you’ll hopefully have the tools you need to learn anything efficiently and effectively.
You dread your annual review time. You cringe at retrospectives. You wince in the face of a 360 Review. You don't like feedback - and you're not alone. Receiving feedback is hard, and when we ask for help with it we just get more feedback. On top of that, your brain doesn't like feedback, and it has some sneaky tricks it uses to convince you to argue about, pick apart, or even outright ignore that feedback. But there's hope - you can fight your brain and win!
This workshop will use LEGO to help teach you the following: the types of feedback and when to use them; how to structure a feedback conversation for maximum benefit; what are the questions you should be asking at each step in the conversation; what a feedback trigger is and how to recognize, defuse, and redirect those triggers; and more! We’ll apply all this to both giving and receiving feedback. By the end of the workshop you should be able to face even the most brutal peer review with a straight face (though maybe not a smile).
Humans. No matter what we might wish, we have to work with them to get stuff done. Unfortunately, when we join a team it doesn’t come with a manual. Figuring out how to get things done and get everyone pulling in the same direction can be a nightmare.
But it doesn’t have to be! In this research-driven talk you’ll learn what a personality type is, you’ll learn some methods for communicating better with others, and you’ll dip a toe into the psychology of team dynamics - all without having to read a huge textbook or a bunch of manager-focused books trying to sell you something. You’ll come away with tools you can use to be a better teammate and to create a stronger team, regardless of your role. Let’s get started actually working together!
Do you ever feel like your coworkers are speaking a different language? Or like the things you say aren’t the things they hear? It’s true that communicating with other humans can be hard sometimes: you could use the wrong words, or you could convey something unintended, or even let your real opinion slip out... and that’s without talking about body language and other nonverbal communication.
Luckily, you can get better at it! In this talk you’ll learn about both high- and low-context communication, how the two differ, and how two very different people can have a conversation they both understand. You’ll learn what things humans communicate non-verbally, how to use this effectively, and you might even learn some things about listening. Come get a jump-start on the next conversation you have!
In the glorious AI-assisted future, all decisions are objective and perfect, and there’s no such thing as biased decisions. That’s why we created AI and machine learning, right? Well, there’s some bad news: we humans are the ones building these tools, and as a result humanity’s biases and missteps can subtly work their way into the AI and models we make.
All hope isn’t lost, though! This talk will show you how to think through six categories of common problems, ranging from simply confusing causation and correlation to the pernicious effects of feedback in your algorithm, and gives you concrete steps you can take to avoid them, including some awesome tools you can use. The algorithms you write today could literally affect people’s lives, so you owe it to them and yourself to be able to deliver the best possible intelligence.
Your thoughts and your emotions affect your work, no matter how much you pretend that you can leave them at the door of your workplace. It's easy to deny your own experience the importance it deserves, especially if it's only inside your own head. But boxing it all away because you have "work to do" is like trying to run a marathon while carrying a Labrador Retriever.
It doesn't have to be that way. This talk will teach you how to frame your world using experiential language rather than clinical language, giving you a powerful tool to discuss your mental health in a way that can be easily felt and understood - and that won't get you in trouble with HR. That sharing becomes the key that unlocks the true power of your team... so come find out how to finally bring your whole self to work!
Senior Software Developer and Community and Culture Steward at Aviture
Omaha, Nebraska, United States