55. Organizing a Conference - Saron Yitbarek

Today on the podcast we welcome the awesome and the infamous, Saron Yitbarek. If you haven’t heard of her before, Saron is a developer, speaker, the Founder of Code Newbie and is heading up the 2018 Code Land Conference kicking off in May this year in NYC. If you’ve ever attended a conference, you can only imagine the amount of work that goes into organizing one. From budgets, to picking a venue, to speaker selection, to marketing – in this episode, we’ll be delving into what it takes to plan and execute a successful conference, in the hope that you’ll be fired up to start your very own. Saron gives us the behind the scenes scoop of the 2018 Code Land conference and tells us why she wanted to create a conference where old-timers, newbies and beginners all feel welcome. She also shares her advice on what the fundamentals are for creating your own conference and why the most important thing is knowing how you want your attendees to feel. Although organizing a conference can be grueling work, as Saron tells us, there are so many benefits to hosting and attending a conference that keeps Saron coming back again and again. If you’re attending the Code Land conference, or any other conference this year, or are toying with the idea of starting your own – then you won’t want to miss this episode.


Key Points From This Episode:

  • Learn more about determining the budget for a conference such as Code Land.
  • Learn more about conference speaker fees and the speaker selection process.
  • Why personal story presentations often get accepted above fact-based presentations.
  • The different methods that conferences use in their speaker selection process.
  • Find out how Saron handles the marketing and promotion of a conference.
  • Why conference promotion relies heavily on word of mouth from attendees.
  • Learn more about the process of selecting a suitable conference venue.
  • Saron shares the story of why Code Land was created as a conference.
  • Why Saron wanted to create a conference where beginners and newbies felt welcome.
  • The importance of knowing what you want your attendees to feel like at a conference.
  • Discover the first fundamental steps to creating your own conference experience.
  • Is a conference a craft? Find out who showed Saron the way in the field.
  • Find out how long it takes to plan and execute a conference like Code Land.
  • Why people’s excitement does not mean that that is the thing that you should do.
  • And much more!

Transcript for Episode 55. Organizing a Conference - Saron Yitbarek

[0:00:01.9] MN: Hello and welcome to The Rabbit Hole, the definitive developer’s podcast in fantabulous Chelsey Manhattan. I’m your host, Michael Nunez. Our co-hosts today:

[0:00:09.8] DA: Dave Anderson.

[0:00:10.8] MN: Our producer.

[0:00:12.0] WJ: William Jeffries.

[0:00:14.5] MN: Today, we’ll be talking about organizing a conference and what it takes to do one. Before we begin, we have a special guest today, the awesome and the infamous, Saron Yitbarek. Saron, how are you?

[0:00:27.9] SY: I’m doing well, thank you so much for having me.

[0:00:29.2] MN: Awesome, before we begin, I just wanted to ask, what are you up to these days, how’s it going, how are things?

[0:00:34.0] SY: It’s going pretty well over here in sunny California. I know you’re jealous all the way over there in Chelsey. It’s going well, I recently launched season two of a podcast called The Base CS podcast where we teach computer science fundamentals through short, fun, 20-minute audio episodes, we’re really excited about that.

[0:00:53.4] DA: That’s awesome.

[0:00:55.5] SY: Yeah, I’m also hosting a podcast from Red Hat called Command Line Heroes. I think we’re on episode five. I feel like I should know that. I’m working on the conference Code Land which is happening May four and five in New York City.

[0:01:08.4] DA: Very cool, it sounds like you’re keeping quite busy?

[0:01:10.8] SY: Yeah, a lot to do.

[0:01:14.3] MN: Since you’ll be coming on over to New York to have a conference, let’s just jump right to it. First off, I imagine a conference can cost some kind of money and one would need a budget. Could you elaborate a little on how that works?

[0:01:28.4] SY: Sure, just getting straight to the dollars, okay.

[0:01:31.1] MN: Yeah. You know, two minutes is 90 seconds in New York so.

[0:01:37.7] SY: Yes, there’s definitely a budget involved and actually to figure it out, the first time because this is our second Code Land conference. We did one last year in New York City as well. The first thing I did is I reached out to some of my favorite conferences that I attended or I spoke out and I said “Hey, how much should things cost?” The piece of advice that everyone gave me was to have a budget such that your ticket sales can cover your expenses and then anything that you get from sponsors is profit.

Now that’s for you, that’s for your work and your efforts. I’ve tried really hard to stick with that. You know, big budget items, usually include venue, food, if you decide to cover speaker fees which I think that you should. You know, speaker travel on expenses and really it’s just kind of, you know, your own time, your own sweat and labor, that kind of thing.

We’re really lucky that Microsoft is hosting us for the venue so we didn’t have to pay for that. That removed a huge, usually the main, the biggest line item off of our budget.

[0:02:40.7] MN: Especially in New York, yeah, that’s great.

[0:02:41.6] SY: God, definitely, especially in New York, really excited to be hosted by them again for the second time. Yeah, those are like the main things, speaker stuff, signage, food and venue.

[0:02:52.1] DA: Cool, do you make it a point to try to arrange for honorarium or some kind of compensation for people for their time?

[0:02:59.6] SY: You mean for speakers?

[0:03:00.4] DA: Yeah, for speakers.

[0:03:01.8] SY: What we do is on the CFP, we have a section that basically says, “What do you need in terms of money?” And you can put anything you want in there, whether it’s travel, feels, speaker fees, flight, whatever it is. We just go buy that and we don’t look at that to decide if you get in or not but what I’ve learned is, some people are not allowed to take speaker fees, some like it’s just against company policy.

Some of them need those speaker fees as part of you know, how they make money, how they make a living, some have companies covering for them and sponsoring them and some don’t. Instead of having like a one fit solution for everyone, I just said, “You tell me what I need to do to get you to come and assuming it’s not anything wild and out there, I will do my best to accommodate you.”

[0:03:43.7] DA: That makes it a lot easier for you.

[0:03:45.8] SY: Yeah, it makes it a lot easier.

[0:03:47.2] WJ: Yeah, actually, Dave is going to be speaking at a conference pretty soon. I wonder, could you shed some insight as to how you do your speaker selection process?

[0:03:56.9] SY: I love answering that question, absolutely. We have a programming committee and this year we actually – we had over 400 people submit to speak. I started with the programming committee of 12 and then I did like find more people because there was so many applications to review.

What I do is I try to get a committee that is really diverse in terms of background, skillset, experience, age, race, everything. I tried to have a really super diverse programming committee and the reason for that is I know that a lot of committees do like blind reviews and I think that’s helpful, you know, it can be helpful but at the end of the day, no matter whether or not you actually see the applicant, you are still bringing your own biases.

Your own personal interest, your own opinions into that process. The way I think about it is, if you’re going to do that, I would like to make up teams that have different biases and interests and things that they care about.

[0:04:55.0] DA: Yeah, that makes sense.

[0:04:56.3] SY: Right? Yeah. I take that  team of 18 people and I divide them into review groups, so each group is three people and in each group, I try to have people with, the two most important things I care about are skill level and how they learn to code so making sure not everyone came for boot camp, not everyone in that little group came from university getting a CS degree and I try to have at least one really junior person, one really senior person and form there, I give them a rubric.

I have them answer or rate the talk on five different questions and then I take the average of four or above and that final selection goes to me and then I pick my favorites from there.

[0:05:39.7] DA: Cool, you’re making the final call and there’s – I guess some cohesion in the final results.

[0:05:45.6] SY: Right. Yeah, that’s the thing that you know, because people always ask, “Why didn’t I get selected, what’s wrong with my talk?” And a lot of times, there’s nothing wrong with your talk, your talk is great but if you know, out of the 400 applications, if 30 people all submitted a talk called “How to get started in open source,” you can’t have all thirty, right?

It kind of doesn’t matter how good – but if only one persons submitted a talk on React and React is, you know, very popular framework, a lot of people in our community are just learning about that, that person just you know, has a higher chance of getting in because of the topic they picked. A lot of times, it’s not really about whether it’s good or bad and sometimes it’s just, you know, the numbers and how it worked out.

[0:06:27.6] MN: Right, I guess it pays to be like kind of a unique snowflake in terms of like the topic that you’re submitting. Either being on the leading edge or just taking a different cut at a topic.

[0:06:38.7] SY: Yeah, I think the big thing that I saw also this year is that a lot of people submitted talks that were more lecture-y, you know? It was, “I’m going to show you how to get started in React” and for our conference specifically, I don’t think that’s really the right approach, I think that conference talks are much more interesting if it’s, “Here is my story of how I struggled to learn React.”

“And as I explained that story to you, I will also share some ideas of how to get started.” One of the big advantages are, for the people who framed their talk as a, “This is what happened to me, this is what I experienced, this is what I did,” versus “Here is a skill that I am now going to give unto you,” you know? It’s much more relatable, much more fun if it’s a personal story.

[0:07:28.9] DA: Right, it’s harder to fall asleep during a personal story.

[0:07:32.2] SY: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, one of the questions actually for the review committee that I have them consider is, “Is the talk a talk or is it a blog post?” Can I just read about this topic and get 90% of the information from just you know, reading it? Or, is there an advantage to having a real life human being, standing in front of me, sharing this knowledge and essentially performing.

You know, performing this content and if the idea doesn’t have something about it, that really takes advantage of the fact that it is a real in person presentation that it has a much lower chance of getting accepted.

[0:08:11.2] DA: Yeah, it’s interesting how complicated the idea of selecting a speaker is. I was looking at the speaker selection criteria for the conference that I got accepted to, which I was very happy about with my first one that I submitted to and got accepted to.

[0:08:24.3] SY: Congratulations.

[0:08:25.7] DA: Yeah, Py Con Italia. I was the only person –

[0:08:27.4] SY: Nice, international too.

[0:08:29.2] DA: Yeah. The only person with a graph QL talk in English. That’s my secret. But I was reading through the method for selection and it’s open to the public to vote on E-shock, whoever got a ticket and they use some kind of like Monte Carlo Shuluts method for like, there’s like grids and lesser paths for the ideal speakers and it was very complicated. I kind of like the personal approach that you’re talking about because I can relate to that whereas this method was like pure science.

[0:09:04.8] SY: That’s the thing too, for me, I think my conference is a little bit different because we started with a community which is The Code Name Community and the conference is designed with them already in mind, versus other conferences which I think start more from a – you know, “I have this idea or this topic, let me see who is interested.”

In my situation, it makes a lot of sense for kind of me to have the final say because I’m always going back to my community and thinking, “Okay, would Tiffany want to hear that talk, does Michael care about that,” you know, I could point to specific people in my community and make sure that the talks I’m selecting, the speakers, that I’m choosing are of interest of the community.

[0:09:48.1] WJ: Yeah, it’s like a customer persona except it’s actual customers.

[0:09:51.5] SY: Yeah, exactly.

[0:09:54.4] WJ: Yeah, you know, it’s funny. I remember being on the conference proposal review committee last year and it was a really interesting experience. I was also on the conference review committee for High Gotham here in New York.

[0:10:07.4] SY: How was that?

[0:10:09.4] WJ: It was super different. It was really interesting to see how like wildly things vary. I didn’t realize that there would be so many different ways of doing it. I wonder if actually their system is the same one that like Py Con Italia uses.

[0:10:24.5] SY: It’s more like math-y.

[0:10:25.9] WJ: Yeah, it was like, at Python, it was like a Jango app that you can spin up to run your conference selection.

[0:10:33.0] MN: I mean, I guess that may speak to the community like shaping itself after what their goals are like – you got the Python stock exchange and you know, they probably have an algorithm for that too you know? Like everything.

[0:10:45.9] WJ: I wonder if this is part of the Python – there’s one right way to do a thing and they all use the same Jango app.

[0:10:52.7] SY: That makes sense.

[0:10:54.2] WJ: You’ve talked a little bit about the attendees but I’m guessing that you have brought in the group that is coming to these and it’s no longer just the core base of the code podcast. How did you handle marketing, how did you handle promotion for that?

[0:11:13.4] SY: Sure, well, the really great thing about the conference and just the community in general, is we’re very kind of inherently social. We’re very big on social media, I’m pretty sure last year, the #codeland was trending for at least one of the days, I think maybe even both of the days.

I’ve been really lucky that I haven’t really had to do much marketing and promotion. The people who came last year absolutely loved it, had really great things to say and actually, I was looking at the ticket sales the other day and I think like 25%, I mean, 30% of people who are coming this year are returning attendees which is awesome. I was like, “Okay, we’re doing this again, great!”

A lot of it is really word of mouth, a lot of it is you know, the speakers who came last year going back, you know, to their friends or community saying “My god, if you’re learning to code, you definitely need to come as well.” That’s the big thing that we’re relying on. I think it also helps that we have a second podcast this year, the Base CS podcast as I mentioned.

You know, I’m doing the Red Hat podcast so that helps as well. I’m speaking and getting myself out there so you know, we’ve been growing and doing some fun stuff, you know, since the conference ended so that’s hopefully going to help as well.

[0:12:24.4] WJ: Yeah a lot of free advertising, you have sort of built in to your whole formula there. I didn’t realize you’re attendance was so – I mean, that’s just great. I guess, Madison Square Garden, is that your next venue?

[0:12:36.2] SY: Yes, that will be happening at 2019, look out for that, a couple 30,000 – I don’t know how big that is – thousands of people all over the world.

[0:12:44.1] MN: Bring your own pyro techniques.

[0:12:47.7] WJ: Selling out the garden in a day.

[0:12:51.1] SY: Absolutely.

[0:12:52.6] WJ: In all seriousness, how did you select the venue and what was involved in that? Do you have to negotiate, is there a lot of contracting involved?

[0:13:02.5] SY: No and no, it was terribly easy, it was embarrassingly easy because I worked at Microsoft so that helped a lot. I know the venue very well. I had attended different events in that same space. You know, when it was time for me to pick the venue and try to find the spot, I said, “Yeah, we should do this at Microsoft, let’s see if that’s possible” and so I reached out to people I knew who still work there and said “Hey, is this a thing that we can do?” And they said “Yes” and that was kind of it.

[0:13:30.8] MN: Cool, like a combination of the previous conference and like what was upcoming in the amount of attendees that would go to the next one, you can kind of think about the place where you would want to hold it. Microsoft was the perfect opportunity and the perfect place for you to host this year’s conference.

[0:13:50.9] SY: Well, it’s the same place we hosted last year, so we did it at Microsoft last year and it worked out really well. It’s actually one of those things where we were thinking about doing another Code Land in San Francisco and the timing just didn’t work out. But, when I was scouting for venues, my goodness, it made me so appreciative of Microsoft, so appreciative because with a lot of other venues, you have to – I mean, sometimes they just give you an empty room, like literally, an empty room, nothing, there’s no chairs, there’s no tables, there’s no projector, there’s nothing.

You have to find your own AV people, you have to find your own catering and they have like weird rules about catering too where you spend 60, a hundred, sometimes more per meal per person because they have like these exclusive catering requirements. So after kind of going down that process of just trying to find a venue outside of getting hosted at a tech company, I was like “Oh man, I’m so glad that we did it in Microsoft the first time and they welcomed us back again this year” because yeah, it’s definitely hard. I think the venue is probably the hardest part in terms of money and just logistics.

[0:15:01.1] MN: Right after hearing about the success from the previous Code Land conference and the upcoming one that’s happening this year in 2018, we have some questions about people who are looking forward to creating their own conferences and people who want to organize them. The first question I want to ask is, why did you create Code Land as a conference and what were your thoughts before the inception of this conference being a thing?

[0:15:26.5] WJ: Why would other people want to start a conference? What is it that gets you inspired and that you think would inspire other people to do what is really a huge amount of work, really, for other people.

[0:15:38.1] SY: Sure, yeah, let me take that first question first, why did I start Code Land? Because I go to a lot of conferences, I speak at a lot of conferences and I – for the very first one that I attended which was Wales Com 2014. I looked around and said “Wow, this is really cool, I want to do this, I want to create this experience for other people.”

“I want to create this opportunity for other people and specifically, I want to create one that caters to beginners.” I think that, especially at a conference, the needs of newbies are a little bit different, there’s a much higher chance if you’re new that it’s also your first conference, that’s scary.

It is a much higher chance that you are going to get lost when someone is speaking. You know, if they’re doing a demo or anything technical and they mentioned a library that you have never heard of before, you’re going to feel intimidated, you're going to get lost, if they mentioned a bunch of buzz words, jargon or even they’re making a little inside jokes about the industry that everyone else seems to get but you.

There’s so many really little opportunities throughout the conference whether it’s in the hallway, at lunch, during the actual content, the actual program itself, where beginners can easily feel intimidated. Just don’t feel like they belong there. I saw that happen with me, I saw that happen with friends of mine where you know, I was still excited to be there, I still wanted to come back but man, I wish I felt a little bit more comfortable and I wish I wasn’t intimidated and so I took that –

[0:17:10.5] DA: Yeah, it sounds like kind of exhausting experience.

[0:17:12.7] SY: To be intimidated?

[0:17:13.5] DA: Yeah, exactly.

[0:17:15.4] SY: Yeah, because it’s like you know, you want to sit at the grownup table and you can’t quite reach there, you know? You could like see them and you want to join but you can’t quite sit at that table yet. I thought to myself, “What does it look like to design a conference that prioritizes the needs of newbies, what does that mean, what does that look like?”

A lot of it was around making sure you never feel lost, making sure there’s plenty of opportunity to connect and network and meet other people in a genuine way. A lot of exposure to what code can do versus what the code is, one big thing with our community specifically is we are, as code newbies, as people who are you know, within a year or two of programming experience, we’re really excited about the possibilities of code but a lot of the examples that we see, the stories that we hear, are more about how the tech works versus what it can do and how it can be used.

I wanted to have talks that was still technical, that still showed code and had demos and all that stuff, but showed a wide range of applications for that code. For example, we had one of my favorite talks, Stephanie Nemeth last year, she was our very first speaker and she demoed this art and code thing with, I think it was a Raspberry Pie, and she actually made this dress that lit up when you went to her website and you could like design your own little pixel art and it like showed up on her dress.

You know, that wasn’t for a job or you know, she’s not making –

[0:18:52.1] WJ: Wow, that’s fascinating. Pretty sure, it’s like an interactive dress.

[0:18:55.9] SY: Yeah, it was awesome and that actually became like her first experience building something like that and now I see her on Twitter all the time making all these really beautiful wearable technology pieces.

[0:19:06.7] DA: That’s great.

[0:19:08.0] SY: It’s amazing.

[0:19:09.8] DA: You would never see that unless you were like –

[0:19:12.5] SY: You’d never see that, yeah.

[0:19:12.8] DA: At a place like that. I really like your idea earlier about like kind of, or the approach that you outlined earlier about how like, this really started from the idea of a community and like this like kernel of an idea is something that you built the entire thing around. At a lot of other conferences are like Python conferences, so the kernel of the idea is Python is the thing.

[0:19:34.6] SY: Exactly.

[0:19:35.6] DA: But it’s not really like a group of people that are specifically united.

[0:19:40.1] SY: Right, exactly.

[0:19:41.1] WJ: If you were trying to get somebody else excited about organizing a conference like this, what would you, or any kind of a conference, it’s like to create another voice for another group of people that you know, another community that maybe doesn’t have a conference yet, what would you say to them?

[0:19:55.7] SY: It’s a lot of work, it’s like a crap ton of work and it’s going to be – especially when you get to the part where you try to get sponsors, my goodness, it is so much work and just so much follow up, you know, you’re going to feel like this really annoying fly that you know, won’t leave the room.

[0:20:11.6] DA: Just like an email machine.

[0:20:13.4] SY: Yeah, basically. Like you’re an email machine, you’re like a, “Can you intro me to so and so” machine and you know, the thing that’s going to carry you through all those dips, those – just the parts that are really frustrating is the experience that you want your attendees to have. I think like you need to be really clear about what that is.

Saying, you know, “I want to create a conference for people who code and loves sneakers” is not, that’s not good enough, you need to be more specific about, what’s the user journey, like what’s the user’s story of that? When they walk in that code in sneaker, you know, room, what’s the first thing they see, how are they going to feel when they see lunch, what is lunch going to feel like?

These are all things that I thought about, you know? I wanted our conference to feel safe, I wanted to feel like a family. We definitely weren’t going to do box lunches because that isn’t a fit, you don’t give your family box lunch, you give them like this really amazing spread, this buffet and you have a plate and you know what I mean?

I really thought about, every single step away from the moment when you walk through the doors, to just getting your – you know, picking up your badge to the moment when you leave, what do I want you to feel like, what do I want you to think, how can I make you feel like this was designed for you?

[0:21:39.7] DA: That’s awesome. I’m really feeling fired up now. I want to go and like start my own conference. I’m going to start a Rabbit Hole conference.

[0:21:50.3] SY: That’s such a good name, The Rabbit Hole Conf? That’s a really pretty good name.

[0:21:52.1] DA: Yeah, why not? How do I get started? What’s the first step on my journey of starting a Rabbit Hole Conference besides like emailing a bunch of people I guess?

[0:22:03.8] SY: That’s definitely not the first step, that’s like maybe the last step, that’s not the first step.

[0:22:07.1] DA: Okay, I’m going backwards.

[0:22:07.9] SY: Maybe like the middle step. I think the first step is having a clear idea of how you want everything to flow. You know, the first thing is probably getting a venue because once you have a place, I think everything else just becomes easier to picture in your mind, because once you have a place, you can say, “Okay, they’re going to come through these doors, they’ll pick up their badge here and they’ll go to this room,” you can kind of map it out.

Once you're able to map it out, visually, then you can start thinking about the user experience and how you want them to feel, what you want them to see and once you have that journey, that experience, that flow laid out, I think a lot of other things are going to fall into place.

Because at that point, if you know what you’re optimizing for, you have a much clearer idea of what types of talks you want and then, you know, how to find those talks, you have a better idea of, even what kinds of sponsors you want at that conference because the people who sponsor it are part of the user experience.

You’ll have a much better sense of what type of food you want to serve, like do you want to do food trucks, do you want to do catering, do you want to do box lunches? I think that once you have a really clear idea of who the conference is for and how you want them to experience it, that’s definitely step number one.

Then, from there, everything else will kind of come into focus.

[0:23:24.8] WJ: It’s like, you’re like crafting a vision here, that’s like really interesting. I wonder if you have a notion of conferences as craft as the same way that people talk about software is craft. Whether there’s a community or conference organizers, you know, people who you went to for advice. Who showed you the way?

[0:23:42.1] SY: A bunch of people, a bunch of folks who I worked with, you know, when I was the one speaking at their conference. Or, people who I was on their programming committees and then I kind of like took notes and said, “Okay, I like this, I want to do this a little bit differently.” You know, folks from Rails Conf are absolutely amazingly Well Done conference, Jango Conf, it’s one of my favorites.

Ruby Conf of course so you know, just going, Ruby comp Australia was freaking amazing. Yeah, I reached out to those same people who I thought did a really good job, who I aspire to be like in the conference organizing sense and said “Hey, this is what I’m thinking, does this make sense? Am I totally off? Should I do this in a different order?” And they were really helpful in just being guides and kind of making sure I didn’t do something too terrible or too stupid.

[0:24:30.2] WJ: Do you think it would be like design patterns and is there like a philosophy behind it? The way there is with software development?

[0:24:36.4] SY: No, I wouldn’t say that. I think it’s much more – the big difference between, well, one of the many differences between software and conference is there’s no like MVP of a conference, you know? Once you pick a venue and you sell your first ticket, unless something hugely terrible goes wrong, that’s kind of it and it takes a long time to plan.

I think start to finish, the first Code Land took – I want to say like five months of full time work but spread over a year. There’s not really a big opportunity to iterate and try and test and you know, you kind of do all this work and you really don’t know until the conference happens. If anything you’re doing makes any sense.

In that sense, it’s kind of hard to call it a craft because a craft usually use a sketch, new design and you throw it away, you try it again and you know, it’s a very iterative process and at least in my experience, conferencing has not been like that.

[0:25:30.0] WJ: You know, wrapping up, I was hoping to steal one of your wrap ups and ask, what’s the worst advice you ever received relating to conferences?

[0:25:41.9] SY: You know, I should expect this to happen when I ask everyone else that question on my podcast that people ask me this question. What happens, I’m always like, “Oh no.” The worst like general advice that people generally give me when they speak about – or when I tell them about being Code Land and stuff – is that, they like what I do and so they’re immediate advice is, you know, “What are you going to do next or how many more of these are you going to do?”

That response, that reaction is definitely like really good hearted, well intentioned, you know, more than appreciate that people care at all about anything that I do ever. I took that as a sign to mean I should be doing more and I should be doing more of this thing right here and I should do it fast.

I took that as kind of instructions, as a directive. What I’ve learned over time is, just because something is good or you know, is proving value, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a thing that you need to spend more time and energy on. I think that you know, it makes sense when you see someone do something that you think is cool to encourage them and say, “Let’s do it again. Let’s do more.”

I think it’s also important for you to pause and go, “That sounds like a good idea but is that in line with my goals? Can I sustain that? Can I afford to do that?” You know, emotionally, in terms of my energy, in terms of money. “Does that actually make sense for my long term plans?” You know, like separating, understanding that people’s excitement does not mean that that is the thing that you should do.

[0:27:15.2] DA: Right, sounds like a recipe for burnout.

[0:27:17.3] SY: Yeah, definitely.

[0:27:19.5] MN: Cool, that was a very knowledgeable conversation on conferences and organizing a conference. I imagine our listeners would definitely appreciate it, Saron, thank you so much for stopping on down through the air waves and in your nice weather versus where it’s currently raining right now. Thank you so much.

Do you want to give us a scoop on Code Land, one more time?

[0:27:44.1] SY: Yeah, sure, Code Land is happening May four and five in New York City, hosted by Microsoft this year, so if you are interested in hanging out with an awesome community of programmers and people learning to code and talking about all kinds of awesome technical things, please come join us, tickets are available at codelandconf.com.

[0:28:04.4] MN: Awesome, Saron, and how can people reach out to you?

[0:28:06.8] SY: Sure, you can email me, saron@codenewbie.org. Twitter also works really well. My DM’s are open. Just my first name and last name Saron Yitbarek.

[0:28:17.2] MN: Awesome Saron, thank you so much.

[0:28:19.5] DA: Yeah, thanks so much for hanging out with us and bearing through all this wonderful audio engineering and video conferencing problems. How many software engineers does it take? More than three.

[0:28:34.1] WJ: Yeah, thank you again  –

[0:28:35.4] SY: I’ve definitely been there.

[0:28:35.2] WJ: We definitely appreciate you coming on.

[0:28:37.4] SY: Yeah, no problem, thanks so much for having me.

[0:28:38.8] MN: Let’s keep the conversation going on Twitter. Follow us now @radiofreerabbit. Like what you hear, give us a five-star review, it helps developers just like you find their way into the Rabbit Hole and never miss an episode. Subscribe now, however you listen to your favorite podcast.

On behalf of our producer extraordinaire, William Jeffries and my amazing co-host Dave Anderson and me, your host, Michael Nunez. Thanks for listening to the Rabbit Hole.

Links and Resources:

Saron Yitbarek on Twitter

Saron Yitbarek

Code Newbie Website

The Rabbit Hole on Twitter

The Base CS podcast

Red Hat’s Command Line Heroes podcast

Code Land

Py Con

The Code Name Community

Stephanie Nemeth

Rails Conf

Ruby Conf

Wales Con