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Listen to Jeff Johns a people-focused Engineer & Product leader with over 20 years of experience as a software engineer and leader. We talk about being a remote work enthusiast brings better work-life balance and enables you to find the best talent. We also share the importance of passions in our daily lives. Including pretending to know what to do with automobiles.




Jeff Johns | Website
I am a people-focused Engineering & Product leader with over 20 years of experience as a software engineer and leader. I am a remote work enthusiast that believes remote work brings better work-life balance and enables you to find the best talent.

Over my career, I’ve worked with large companies such as Tribune (The Morning Call), local agencies, various start-ups (Viddler & Formstack), and had my start-up Plain with a few talented friends I met along the way.

I live in Bethlehem, PA, with my wife Annie, three kids; Anya, Ivy, and Olen, and our dog Herman. In my free time, I enjoy soccer, running, and my newest hobby of pretending I know what to do with automobiles.


Dave 0:00
Welcome to another episode of the agency balance podcast. I am super thrilled to bring Jeff Johns is a people focus engineering and product leader with over 20 years experience in the software space. And, and I went to school with Jeff at business school, and we got reconnected recently. And I just think he has such a fascinating story, his evolution, as well as what he’s been doing for this last year. Jeff, welcome to the podcast.

Jeff 0:28
Thanks, Dave. Yeah, it’s kind of crazy. I don’t think we can name the business school we went to but but when was that? 1999?

Dave 0:36
Yeah, I think so. 99 We graduated. That was crazy.

Jeff 0:39
I look back at that period. And I’m like, I had no idea what I wanted to do what I wanted to be, there was never my dad saying you’re gonna go to work full time or go to school full time, or you got to get out. And I was like, I guess I’ll go to school. There was what probably 30 or 40 of us at most maybe?

Dave 0:56
Yeah, it was it was a pretty small, small school small class, for sure.

Jeff 1:00
It was a good time. It was a good time.

Dave 1:02
It was I think what I liked about it so much was like the intimacy of it of being so small. And the other thing for me is like, I think we were pretty much all local base. There wasn’t like anybody like coming from afar, but it was like, all the cool kids from all the cool high schools came to art school.

Jeff 1:20
Yeah. In a bowling alley. So true story, folks. Very unique experience. So, but met some fascinating people, some great people, yourself a few others that I still talk to you today. So really, really fun time. Thanks for the intro. Yeah, I think the, for me, I’ve been taking the last year off of work. I know that sounds crazy. But most people listening are like, What a jerk. He gets to go, you know, take a year off. But it was something I think as I had the opportunity to do this I needed to do for myself. I’ve been working hard for a long time. I think with my personality type. It’s not easy to take a break. I just want to keep going. And a give me another thing. Give me another thing. I would have people around me say hey, you have too much on your plate. And I wouldn’t listen. And I think by the time I ended by career at Formstack, if I didn’t take a break, I was probably going to break. I was really stressed out and I did it all to myself. But it’s this last year has been a full of like reflection on how I got there and what I need to do to go forward and how I can make myself continue without pushing myself to the brink of disaster. I guess you could say?

Dave 2:46
Yeah. Oh, well, thanks for sharing that. And I definitely want to dive into kind of the the year break because I think a lot of our listeners can can benefit or if they’re contemplating it. But you know, backing up a little bit, you know how you got started? I think that would be really interesting. So like, so you you How did you get started? So you were you were at Tribune would, you know, Morning Call was a local newspaper here? Is that where you got started? Or, you know, talk about how you got started. I if I remember correctly, you were like, I don’t know, if you were like creative or, or dev or at some point, you’re like, I’m just gonna go zeros and ones because they just work. And there’s no like, figuring out creative and having opinions.

Jeff 3:27
Yeah, I mean, I definitely didn’t start at Tribune I started at, I won’t name the company, but okay. All natural supplements. And it was my first job. Like when we went to school for design and 3d animation and film, like, I love that stuff. I really liked the 3d animation, try to find a job. And then we have Valley that’s 3d animation. 99 wasn’t going to happen. So I took a job making catalogs, and it was a terrible experience. It wasn’t creative at all. I don’t think I was that good at it. And so I left and I know what I wanted to do. So I wasn’t working in a factory. And we were making car parts, and we were making parts for your bathroom. And I was the way that the way that worked is you worked on piece rate. And so the more pieces you finished, the more you got paid. But there was like a mathematical equation to that. And not that it was complicated. But a lot of people were like struggling with this complication. So I was doing it for them on paper. And I just like, You know what I’m gonna I’m just gonna write a desktop app for this. I knew nothing about it was a little visual basic app, and I installed it on all the computers. And the owner of the company was like, Who put this on the computer and I thought I’m fired. Like I’m dead. Little did I know she had like this little web design like side business. And she was like, hey, instead of powder coating all these parts, why don’t you come work for me in the office? And I’ll send you to school for PHP, like take a class or two and I did It just kind of fell in love with it. So I got my start through. I left design because yes, it was to. I don’t know, like it wasn’t definitive enough for me. Yeah. So I got my I got my start by chance. And I worked for her for five, six years just designing website I did the design, I was terrible at it. The programming I learned about databases was, I mean, if you really think back at it, you probably had 30 users on those websites. So it’s not like you were going to scale anything, but it was a good learning experience. And I left there and I went to the morning call into the interactive department is what they called it at the time. That was a really unique experience, because it was like newsroom versus interactive. It was shocking to me that the two departments didn’t work well together. But that was a really good experience, because I had some knowledge of programming. And now I could do it a little bit, that scale a lot more users at The Morning Call at em Then there were at the other places that I was working for. So I crashed a whole bunch of systems, I made a whole bunch of mistakes, it was a great time. But that’s where I kind of got my start into people management. After two or three years there. And all the things people might say about the morning call, the one thing that we’re really good at is when you became a manager, the training. And that was I really needed that. And I kind of fell in love with that part of my career, which was a technical manager helping people get to where they needed to be, which started this long journey into the startup world, which I never knew I would fall in love with. But were wearing many hats, doing one singular thing. And I worked for for Vidler for a few years here in Bethlehem, if anybody’s familiar with that great little company, left there did my own thing with a couple friends and ended up in Formstack.

Dave 6:58
Yeah, thanks for sharing that journey. I think I can tell it’s in your DNA that you’re a problem solver. But you’re also a people person. And that makes the best best of both worlds. I think I’m kind of cut from the same cloth that I love. It’s like if I don’t have a challenge, and I think that’s probably why you you are where you were you got to that point where even said it was like, I gotta take a break. Because I just I want I’m on to the next problem. I want to fix the next thing. And there’s this satisfaction as humans that we get when we complete a task. And when we fulfill and we and we complete something, we check our check our box, that is that happiness that comes and then we’re like, ah, that’s just that feeling. And then there’s this programmed in our own brains of saying, I need to I need to be on to the next thing. And I think that’s probably what kind of got you into that little quote unquote rat race. No,

Jeff 7:51
absolutely. And I think there’s a part of that to where I think as you become a people manager or leading teams, you know, you’re you’re, you’re running a company right now, you absorb everybody else’s problems. And that’s a dangerous thing. It’s a good thing. But it’s dangerous. Because I have a hard time letting those things go. I actually have to start like meetings with people to say you need me to solve this for you. Or you just need me to listen here. And because I would go straight into problem solving and get done with work, and I can turn my brain off. And I’m thinking about everybody else’s problems and mine. So it became a big challenge one that I still really enjoy. I love but I have to tame it a little bit. I know that about myself, like not everything has to be solved today. And that was a journey. Like there’s always going to be things to solve. I think for me, I need to continually learn and get better at thinking about learning and not solving.

Dave 8:49
Yeah, three really great points. You said that I just want to repeat those. And we inject this and one of our values is always be learning no matter where you are. I think if you’re like leveling up and you think there’s nothing for else, like nothing else that you need to learn, you’re sadly mistaken. The other thing is, you said was you know coming into a meeting, it’s is asking that question, do you need me just to listen? Or do you need me to solve a problem here and I and that’s really important. If you’re requesting a meeting with your manager, don’t just go in there assuming that you just want to, you know, bitch, and just and just spew right like go in there. Be fat factual about what what you need. But but be proactive and what you want the outcome to be and be prepared to be a part of the solution to because that’s what every leader is going to want to do. They’ll open their door and listen, right? So those are those are really great points there I think, you know, for me, yeah, it is it is really challenging because when you’re when you’re in management, you’re you’re combining you’re you’re taking everybody’s problems and you assume that you need to fix those, but I think that the key thing for me, what I found, and I don’t know, I would love to hear your thoughts on this is, it’s almost kind of role reversal. It’s just being a really good listener, and then playing back and then guiding them to figure out the solution, because they’re there for a reason you trust them. But, you know, talk to me a little bit about that of how do you go? How do you how do you coach, you know, individuals or, you know, in the problem solving world, talk me through some, maybe some examples, there are some things that come to mind.

Jeff 10:31
Yeah, I mean, what took me a while it was really uncomfortable to do is when somebody asked me a question, hey, what would you do? I usually now flip that back. And so I don’t know, what would you do? And because I want to get people thinking, I mean, my job is to get people to solve their own problems. Right? If I become the bottleneck in that situation, that’s, that’s a failure on my part. But I have to let people fail along the way and find, find the right path. Even if I know it’s going to fail, like I can try to guide them a little bit. But I still think it’s a really good learning opportunity and letting them fail and figuring out the right paths. So I usually turn that question around. Another one I like to do. A lot of times, if you step into a meeting, and you are the highest title person in the meeting, if you speak, people just take what you say and go execute, which is also dangerous. So a lot of times I would throw out bad ideas. First, which I knew were terrible ideas, just to have somebody step up and be like, that doesn’t sound right. What about x? Because now, like people are thinking, and people aren’t scared to like, talk in front of you. And so that’s another advice. I get to like, first time managers and leaders. Hey, I know it sounds stupid, but throw out bad ideas in a group setting. Oh, no, no, no, I can’t do that. Like, no, you want the other people in the room to be smarter than you. You want them to be comfortable around you like that’s why you hired them. You don’t want to be the bottleneck. So I think just keep asking questions to guide people. And then make yourself look stupid. So that people are comfortable around droop again, I know that sounds ridiculous, but it really does work. Just be humble about it. There’s plenty of times and leadership, I have made poor decisions. And I have made mistakes. And I’ve gone back to the team and said, I screwed this up. Here’s the next way we I think I’m gonna go about this, I’m sorry about this. If you have better ideas, let me know. But I’m the type of person that will go tell you, I screwed this up. I feel bad about it for about two and a half months. And then try to get to the next the next iteration.

Dave 12:34
What a great what a great example of of leading leading with failure and injecting that in there, I kind of do the same sneaky thing to when I get invited to meetings, especially when it’s like really tactical things. I don’t want to talk at all. Sometimes I’ll even take myself off camera, because I just don’t want to be the focus. And they’re everyone’s their heightened when they’re managers on a zoom and you’re feeling Oh, I gotta be so perfect here. And you end up snowballing yourself. But I love that. That example, too, of kind of throwing out something that maybe isn’t the best. And and seeing where people take it. I’ve kind of done that over email where or I’ve given examples where I know it’s not right. But I just want to I’m trying to like coach the model. I’m trying to get them to think that that think differently.

Jeff 13:28
Yes, absolutely. I read something the other day, stop meeting in person and doing brainstorming and start doing asynchronous brain writing. And I was like, Wait, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Because now I don’t have this person on the other side, spewing ideas and then people that, like, I may not seem that but I’m a pretty big introvert. And so I take time to take ideas and take information and I have to think about them. So in live meetings, I may be quiet just because I’m thinking and I’ve always done better. I know a lot of other people do better as well. If you can do that a little bit asynchronously in the beginning, throw out your ideas, put them on a Google Doc, everything there let you think about them. Because then when you get to that meeting, it’s really productive. Now I can have a good meeting. But I saw brain writing, which doesn’t sound right. But I was like, Man, that is really that’s really smart.

Dave 14:20
Yeah, yeah, um, the two things there. The first thing was, I think it’s okay, like if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, or like, if you’re feeling awkward, let’s just say that let’s label it that way. Let people know and be like, Hey, listen, this is this is this is how I like to work. Just so you know, if I have a weird face, or I’m not like talking, that’s just me, I just want you to know, so let people know what your style is. And that’s the first thing. The second thing similar to what you’re saying there. I know big companies like I think like Google does this. Some of my software partners do this is before they start any sort of management or leadership meeting. Of course there’s an agenda there should always be an agenda. And with some detail before they start, they spend the first 15 minutes. Everyone is in the Google doc looking at over and then commenting. Yep, they’re tagging people. They’re making their thoughts, open ended questions. They’re getting all that stuff out of the way. So that when it comes time to discuss or brainstorm, or whatever it is, on that task, you already have all that detail. So you get it all out. How great is that?

Jeff 15:29
Yeah, I mean, we took that notion at Formstack. Because our engineering and product teams were remote from the beginning. So I mean, we were spending time zones from Pacific Time Zone, the Central European. And so you need to, like, there’s about two hours in the day where you can actually get people together. And so if you’re not thinking that way, and you’re not comfortable that way, you’re probably going to fail. But I love that methodology. I wish, just in general, more people would do that. You said something about agendas. be shocked how many meetings you show up to like in a larger company have zero agenda, they just have like a title. And it’s like this, this feels like a trap. And you usually don’t accomplish anything during those meetings.

Dave 16:10
Yeah, yeah. As leaders, you gotta lead by example. So it’s like, even if it’s your meeting or something that you’re maybe you’re a part of it just be part of it, right, like put the agenda out there. My, when I send an email, or an invite, right via email, it’s usually like detailed title, the purpose of the meeting, there’s a purpose statement of what we’re trying to achieve, restate that, there should be a link to a Google Doc with agenda have actions. And the other thing is to it’s like, it’s so simple little things, but like assign somebody in the meeting that is going to be responsible for recapping the actions, like make somebody that that note taker and that action so that there’s accountability there, there should always be accountable. There’s a lot of great resources out there, like the 10 Minute meet the 10 minute meeting, and I’ll put some of those back on on agency So you can take a look at some of those those resources and links to make, how to run and how to be a part of effective meeting. The other thing, what I always say is be present in the meeting. It’s like, do your best. Like, it is easy. We were talking about that before we got started is like I’ve been on meetings where I’m just like putting my head down. It’s like, dude, like, if you were in the room live, you probably wouldn’t do that. But like, just because you’re at home or whatever, like, be professional, just be professional about it.

Jeff 17:26
Yeah, and and I think the other part of that is if you’re not feeling the meeting, or don’t feel you can provide anything, don’t go, like respond, though, hey, I don’t think this has anything to do with me. I don’t like be professional in the way you respond as well. But don’t go. Because that that will actually hurt the meeting more than anything else. Everybody looking at somebody like not participating probably slacking in the background about Joe. I don’t know who Joe is, I mean that they know about Joe not paying attention. And now the whole meetings kind of off. So yeah, I agree with you. Yeah.

Dave 18:02
Switching gears a little bit. So obviously, you’ve you’ve worked for some some startups who are for some larger companies, you’ve been able to kind of take what is what what I what I’m interpreting is like the best things about all those and kind of, you know, built your career. But, you know, when you when you got to that point where you’re like, you know, I’m going to take a year off, everything will be fine. You know, everything’s gonna be fine. You had that moment where you’re like, I don’t know if we should do this. Probably. I’ve been there. And so what, what do you have been enjoying this last year? You know, you know, being often, you know, how have you been? You know, staying sharp?

Jeff 18:43
Yep. So, I mean, first and foremost, I think what I’ve been enjoying is I’ve had a lot more time, but didn’t have a lot of time with my kids before. But you know, I’m taking them to school, picking them up taking them to everything they need to. And I’ve really enjoyed that, you know, I would say when they head off over summer, I was like, Don’t tell him this when he going back to school. I love them dearly. But it became a lot. So like seeing my family more seeing Annie, my wife more like being home with all that it was fantastic. I think staying sharp wise, I started to write a couple of apps that I abandoned because like different API’s were, like, I’d say productive enough for me to use in production. So I was I collect a vinyl records. And so I have a script written that basically add a one list if you know a website called Discogs, where you can do marketplace and I have a want list there that syncs up to Discogs and eBay and searches for all the different records that I want. And it just sends me the lowest prices that it finds on the internet. I was like, Oh, I’ll make this into a product. Right? Me and four other people would probably use it but they’ll make us into a product but some of the API’s there weren’t conducive to be able to use. So that was a good experience. So still programming a little recently, in the last six months, I’ve been booking free mentorship meetings. So if you want to book some time, like, I’ve had a few people take me up on that I’ve had some really good conversations where I feel one big lacking part in our industry is when you become a new leader, it’s probably in other industries as well. You become a new engineering leader or product leader, you’re on your own. And what what am I supposed to do now now I have these people reporting to me, I’m responsible, maybe for some pieces of strategy, I’m responsible for my team, like shipping things out to production, oh, my goodness, I don’t know how to do any of this. So the one thing I wish I had at that time that I got at Tribune, but not like other smaller companies, was just some guidance, somebody to talk to, I had no idea who to talk to about this. So I kind of just put myself out there for the last few months that some folks take me up on that and just working with people to try and help them get to where they want to be. I think for me, that keeps me sharp, when I reenter the workforce at some point, because I don’t want to lose all those skills. But I felt like I have an opportunity to give back to people right now in a way that I’m familiar with, and that I enjoy. And I’m still behind this computer screen as my introverted self. So but it’s been really rewarding. Talk to probably 1015 different leaders, some CEOs, some people new to their jobs. And I think it’s opened up a lot of doors just in general to have different conversations, like, Hey, when are you going to go back in the workforce, which has been interesting, because that was not my goal whatsoever. That’s how I’ve been keeping sharp but did a couple apps on my own and just keeping those communication windows open to help people, I think that’s what I’ve enjoyed the majority of my life. More so than anything technical or design related, how can I help you get to where you need to be. So that’s been really fun.

Dave 21:59
That’s, that’s probably really rewarding. I know, when I have an opportunity. And I have free time doing everything else. I like to do that as well. And it is something that I’m enjoying more and more. As I’ve gotten older and wiser. It was just my birthday to everybody. So it was it was it was on Monday. So it just what later birthday. Yeah, happy birthday. I spent my birthday flying from west to east. So it was great. But I did get a free sandwich on the airplane and a free free coffee that day. So you know, it’s the small things. Was that airplane coffee? No, no, I got you know, the big the big, the big chain coffee. You know, you get one on your birthday. So I got that I made sure I got that. And of course, I got the biggest size because that’s the way I am. Yeah, you have to. But it’s very rewarding doing that. Yeah, this is the agency balance. And we talked about balance a lot. What what’s your what’s your philosophy? Or what’s your thoughts on balance? Because I don’t want to assume anything. But you got to a point where maybe you were feeling out of balance, and you needed to kind of reset but talk about what does balance mean to you?

Jeff 23:14
It’s a good question. It was a hard one to answer to. I think for me balances, finding the things you enjoy in life, whether that’s work, it’s a combination of work, it’s combination of things you do at home, maybe that’s 5050, maybe that’s 7030, maybe it’s 8020. But it’s finding that balance between what you want to accomplish outside of your home, what you want to accomplish with your family or enjoy with your family. And it’s finding that ratio that works for you, I saw a really neat graphic the other day that said work life balance, and it showed all these different outcomes. Some of them were all intermingled somewhere half and half somewhere at 20. And so for me, it’s you know, I have a I have a job to do at work, I want to go do that to the best of my ability. At some point, I do want to shut my brain off. It’s really hard working remote, you know, because you are at home all the time. And, but I want to be able to shut my brain off at some point, and move on to enjoy my time with my family. So that work life balance is really important to me. And I feel like as I was starting to burn out, I was just so focused on work at that time, almost 24 hours a day, whether I was in front of the computer or not. I was just I couldn’t get it out of my head. There’s a lot going on. I mean, Formstack was raising capital that time, we had some health issues here. Family wise, like there was just a ton of stuff going on. But if you can find that balance, find what your balance is. I think that’s important. Some people are going to want to be at work the majority of the time, and that’s fine, too. That’s something that’s not that’s not me. That’s something until I saw that graphic to be honest with you, Dave. I was like, how can people do that? And then I was like, Oh yeah, I’m pretty different. Like your balance is different than my back I wants the way you interact with people is different than the way I interact with people. So I saw that are like, that’s amazing. So I don’t have a ratio in general, mine’s just, I want to feel good about what I’m accomplishing professionally. And I want to be a big part of my family. So that’s really important to me. That’s actually why I left like big, big companies and big business. So for me, that’s long, long answer to get two nines intermingled?

Dave 25:29
Yeah, it doesn’t have to be equal either. I think that’s the important thing. I think, so many times I’ve talked about this before is you feel like you’re out of balance, because something is not right. So it’s like your personal life you want that to be, you want to have the most activities, doing those things, the things that are making you happy. And then when you’re starting to feel unbalanced is when those other things that don’t make you happy, are taking over. So what I always talk about what I always encourage, and I think what you were saying there’s kind of like prioritize, prioritize, let’s let’s prioritization is your superpower. And, you know, prioritizing the things that make you happy. And starting with those I learned from a coach early on, because you’re absolutely right before saying about it is lonely as a leader, and if you don’t have peers that to talk to, or maybe you do, or they’re just not at that stage, but you need to have someone to talk to about this, I absolutely encourage, if you’re if you’re kind of struggling there, look for a coach, look for a mentor, the first thing I did when I became CEO, there was I didn’t never was the CEO before. And it’s like, you can read whatever books you want, but you have to do real life. So yeah, so like, for me, it was just making sure that I just put those things that made me happy first, and, and just slow down a little bit. You just gotta like, really, these are only the two things I’m going to accomplish today. And I’m okay with that. And, and that’s, and that should be okay. Right. And it is hard to break away. Being in a remote style, if you can keep a part of your house that’s just solely for work. If you’re working from home, just make that your workspace. But the other thing is like, move it around, then like if you end up because you’re going to, then what’s going to happen is you’ve made that same spot, the same spot you’ve gone to every day, and you’re going to be depressed about that spot. So move it around or go to that local coffee shop or go outside. Like just kind of keep things just remember the days of when you were what you would do in the office, you move your desk around. Yeah, do the same. Do the same thing.

Jeff 27:31
I love that idea. There’s times I’m here. If I don’t have meetings, I’ll be in my I have another workstation in my garage. You know, I wouldn’t turn my camera on in my garage. Doesn’t seem right. Or might sit on the back porch. Right. And I just think it’s good. Yeah, I think it’s good for your for your mental state to kind of move around.

Dave 27:54
I love that. I love the garage because it put the garage door up. I have put my zoom and I have put my camera on because I am very proud of my garage. People that know me. I’m very OCD with comma cleanliness and things. And I’ve been on a couple of calls are like, are you in your garage? I’m like, yeah, and they’re like, that’s awesome.

Jeff 28:16
Yeah, I think it’s like, wherever you’re comfortable for that day, like at this time a year when it’s a little cooler. I always want to be in the garage. Yeah, just have the doors open. There seems like there’s life. Like there’s people walking up and down the street. It’s just uh, as ridiculous as that sounds to like it just a fun time. I’m like, yeah,

Dave 28:34
like, Yeah. Speaking of garage and cars. It’s funny when you would you stepped out you have a beetle over your left shoulder a Volkswagen Beetle model.

Jeff 28:42
Oh, yeah, that’s my. So my grandfather was like, he was a mechanic. And he had his own garage up and like Williamsport but he had like a whole junkyard filled with beetles. And so that was actually his when he passed away. There’s there’s like a blue one. And there’s like a black one over there. Volkswagens were his favorite car. And I know they are pretty high up on your list.

Dave 29:06
Yeah, they are and, and I we bought your your dune buggy. When we were in school, I heard it is it’s such a weird thing. I think we paid like 500 bucks for it or seven or 50 bucks for it.

Jeff 29:18
But it’s not like you came to me and said, like you heard me talking about a dune buggy. Like your dad just found my dad.

Dave 29:24
Yeah, it was really weird how that happened. And and I was like, Wait a minute. I was like, your dad has the same name. Right? And no, my dad’s name is Oh, that’s okay. I thought it was like it was funny because we’re like, I’m a junior and I was like, Oh, that was weird. But um, yeah. And then it took my dad forever to kind of get it working. But yeah, he finished it and see every once in a while it my dad’s not gonna listen to this podcast because he doesn’t know how to do any of that stuff. But he it’s mine. It’s my motor. It’s mine. Yeah, it’s my motor and he’s he’s getting up there. It’s not a for those. I’ll put a picture of what a dune buggy is on the YouTube channel here for what it just remember it was like we painted it orange. We got rid of the green sparkle sparkle right? Yeah, yeah, like metallic flake, they put like five pounds of metallic flake back in the 70s. And everything given vans and it looks like speedy from like Scooby Doo. That’s awesome. Yeah, it’s it. We probably put maybe $4,000 in that car, and it will get more looks than like a Lamborghini.

Jeff 30:32
It’s really cool. My dad never in my lifetime when I was younger, we never had that thing running. Like we never took it out. Just always sat in the garage, but I used to just sit in it. And the garage was like this. What the hell is this thing?

Dave 30:47
It’s the most dangerous it’s the most dangerous scary car like for those who are like it’s a Jeep thing. Like you know, the do the jeeps with the doors hanging off? You think that’s scary? Right at 18 like 1800 pound fiberglass car with a gas tank that you’re sitting on next to a tractor trailer. That’s scary.

Jeff 31:05
No, no, it was like no roof. There’s there’s no doors you just hop in. Yeah, that’s that’s pretty sketchy. But it was it was cool.

Dave 31:13
Yeah, I love wrenching. It was the other day, I was chasing a white like a wiring issue. And the air cooled Porsche that I have, and I was just chasing it. And it was good because like, I’ve been around cars enough to know to like the the thought process and the steps I need to go it’s like okay, fuse and then just not the fuse and then the Okay, then it’s like, it could be one of these two things, and then you’re chasing it back. Oh, it’s, it’s probably a poor ground. And then it’s like not well, and I see this visually is. So I was like problem solving and ripping this all apart. And because like I had no no brake lights on the one side and and I was like, Well, I gotta I mean, this car is loud and attentive enough. I can’t drive this around like this. So I’m like taking it all apart. I took a picture of it. And I like posted on Instagram. And one of my buddies was like, that, that doesn’t look fun. That like No, thanks. No thanks. But it is. It was totally fun. And it was great. And that’s what I just love tinkering. Do you love tinkering?

Jeff 32:17
I do. I mean, I wasn’t a car guy. Growing up, I don’t know what got me into it the last couple of years. But this time off, and even a little bit before my time off. That was like, my boss at Formstack. He saw me not I was like, I am just not enjoying the majority of my day anymore. And we were having conversations. And he was like, listen, that happens to me. Sometimes, too. You need to find something outside of work that you really enjoy. And so you’re like, I’m taking classes on x. And I was like, okay, so I started messing around with cars a little bit. I was a long distance runner for a long time. Which I think if you have an addictive personality like mine, it’s good, but also dangerous. And anything I get into it’s I’m going full in. So I started tinkering around with my civic. And I kind of like this. I know nothing about this. I was always intimidated by it. But I’m just gonna say what if I break it and I can’t fix it, I’ll take it somewhere and they’ll fix it. They’ll laugh at me. And that was like, my biggest thing I won’t be laughed at for screwing this up. But it’s been really rewarding because there’s this other element of problem solving and learning that I didn’t have before. So it’s so silly. Like I fix our freezer. Instead of buying a new freezer, right? It was like $7 to fix it. But I was like, Oh, that was fun. I didn’t know how to do that. But I can You can YouTube literally anything. And be like I can fix it now. Yeah. So just go do it. Just have fun, find something you love. Problem solving is neat, Dave because like whether it’s cars or fixing a freezer, or learning how to install, like a new ceiling fan, like there’s so many moments in your life that don’t have to be at work to kind of get that rush of Yeah, I did it.

Dave 34:07
Yeah, I was telling my son he’s doing like, I don’t know what they call it now in school, but it’s like shop. It’s like, like, and like he’s doing like small engine repair. And he’s like, Dad, I rebuilt a lot more. Like you’re gonna remember how to do that for the rest of your life. And that’s, that’s it and same thing. And so and you’re talking about, like how you got started with, you know, before school and you didn’t really know what you’re gonna do or it was like, just go in the workforce. And I was just planning that I like, I was gonna work at a hardware store. And I was like, I’m totally cool with this. I’m just working the hardware store forever and I learned so much there. And to this very day. I love working on analog things because we’re so digital now I get this rush of when it’s not computer and that’s why I love like manual cars and no computers and All feel it’s just ah, that’s so great. I can’t wait for this rain to stop so that we can go out and drive.

Jeff 35:07
Yeah, it’s funny the waiting for the rain to stop. It’s got quick Jacks yesterday, which I’m sick of putting the car in the air and I was like, I’ll get these a little bit of a pain in the butt to set up. But because I have a new exhaust for the Subaru and I’m like, I want to put this on, but I want to be a little safer than me on some jack stands in the driveway. So I’m waiting for this to stop. In my son’s home today. He likes. It keeps his attention for about 1520 minutes, right? Like he was helping me change. I put a new intake in the Subaru last week. And he’s like, I want to do this with you. So I’m like here and I’m explaining it he just disappears. Like I feel like that’s his attention span. Don’t Don’t get mad over it. But yeah, I’m also waiting for the rain to stop.

Dave 35:53
That’s so cool. All right, we’re gonna we’re gonna switch it up here. Now. You’re ready to play the Dave’s random 10 game. You can’t study for this. So it’s just total randomness, whatever. Alright, we’re gonna start off easy. All right, because I saw you just take a sip, but I don’t think it was one of these. Alright, ready? Number one coffee or tea?

Jeff 36:14
Coffee. All day. I roast my own coffee beans. Oh, really? That’s interesting. Yeah. So I told you anything I go do like, I like it’s, if you’ve ever watched Aziz Ansari, he does like this Joe Pesci moment, and one of his skits and I’m like, That is totally me. Like if I attach to an actor, I’m going deep dive into everything. So I was like, I wonder if I can roast my own coffee beans. What’s this process look like? Yeah, and I still do it. I love it.

Dave 36:44
Well, Sign me up. If you if you’re doing like a friends and family. Like I love to try it. I grind every morning so it wakes everybody up, man. I don’t care.

Jeff 36:55
Definitely coffee.

Dave 36:56
All right. Football or football?

Jeff 37:00
Soccer. Yeah. Soccer all day. I don’t think I still don’t really, American football. People are gonna hate me for saying this. Yeah, but it’s like four hours of your life for like, 15 minutes of activity. I’d rather watch European football. I don’t know. I love it. Oh, my kids play. Like, I absolutely adore it.

Dave 37:24
That’s cool. It’s 11 minutes of play. Not even not even 15 minutes.

Jeff 37:28
Yeah, it’s, I was reading some stat on that. And it was like baseball. Maybe baseball was like 1415 minutes. And I was like, Yeah, that’s a good like, talk. People love it. Go for it. It’s just not my thing.

Dave 37:38
Yeah, this was this is really for any sport, like watching it live is definitely different to like, I just came from a live American football game or Raiders fan and I was out in Vegas, and they got their first win. And what I love about it so much is going to live games is there is definitely like a community aspect. Like there’s people I just observing that see each other every other Sunday when there’s home games, and that’s like their second family. It is absolutely they go all out. You know, the tailgating and everything. It’s it’s a lifestyle. It’s like they live for that.

Jeff 38:12
Yeah, you know, it brings me back to I don’t know if for three years, the Philadelphia Union had a tier two team in Bethlehem, the Bethlehem Steel. And when season ticket numbers, but was the same thing. Not a lot of people there. But it was great. Like you knew everybody in the stands. My kids were a lot younger at the time, but I felt comfortable that they could just run around the whole the whole stadium and I was fine with like you knew everybody was great. Yeah, live live sports. Doesn’t matter what it is. Beautiful moment.

Dave 38:43
It is. All right, because we’re not seeing it right now. Which do you prefer? Sun or Snow?

Jeff 38:48
Snow? Oh, yeah. Yeah, I’m a fall or winter type of person. I do like, I don’t know. I like to sun. I’ll take nighttime over. Or if it’s cloudy. That’s perfect. Oh, well.

Dave 39:05
It’s what we’ve been having for the last week here and the ease. Do you Do you do any like snow sports? No, no.

Jeff 39:14
Yeah, I love I love the cold. I’m 44 years old. I’ll throw that out there and I still love playing in snow. So if I can build a fort, I can have a snowball fight with my kids. Like that’s a brilliant day.

Dave 39:28
Yeah, it is great. There’s I love I love a like a snowy day and just look out into the trees and then like if you can have a fire like that’s to me is like the perfect like, like a fire and yeah, that’s great. Yeah. All right. cat, dog, or goldfish.

Jeff 39:51
Dog. I think we’ve always been a dog family. We’ve had goldfish that you win at like the fair or whatever. My kids bury them in the backyard. They’re all they all die like two days. Yeah. Yeah. Dogs.

Dave 40:07
Awesome. Yeah, we’re definitely into dogs too. All right. A good book. Or popcorn and movie.

Jeff 40:16
Popcorn a movie? Yeah. I’m just not a big reader. I don’t like articles. Yes, books. I used to have a good friend of mine. That would read everything. And I’m like, I’m just learning through you. Like you just tell me all the important parts. I’ll go check them out. I just I can’t sit down with a book. Yeah,

Dave 40:37
I for me. Like, even Well, I do love fiction fictional. Like, both fiction and nonfiction TV stuff. Like I like documentaries. I love history stuff I love and I think with with reading, I’ve gotten to the point where it’s like, if it’s not furthering me, and I’m not learning through reading or like business. That’s, that’s the only type of reading I could do anymore. That’s long form.

Jeff 41:03
Yeah, never like, it’s just been hard. I think I’m just such a visual learner or like a visual person, that I would even be reading my kids stories at bed. And I would fall asleep. Yawning and I’m like, I just can’t make it past like four or five pages. There’s something internally that’s like, Don’t do this.

Dave 41:24
Awesome. All right. Next one. This is this is because you’re an engineer. You’ve probably heard this before. So doors are wheels. Do you know this? No, I

Jeff 41:35
don’t know this. So like, What? Are

Dave 41:37
there more of doors or wheels?

Jeff 41:39
I don’t know. I had you want me to pick between the two?

Dave 41:42
Which Yeah. Yeah, what would you what do you think there’s more of Do you think there’s more doors or wheels in the world?

Jeff 41:49
It’s gotta be wheels.

Dave 41:51
Why do you think that?

Jeff 41:53
We transport everything? Yes. There’s a lot of doors in your house and in an office or whatever. But there has to be more wheels. Don’t think about all the trucks out there that are transporting goods like 18 Wheeler, it’s got to be more wheels. What about if you didn’t know the answer to

Dave 42:10
this? Well, I I didn’t go down the rabbit hole I like to like, because what happens what I always goes like, alright, well then walk into your walk into your kitchen. How many cabinet doors do you have? See what I mean? Then you immediately you’re like, this, this is hands down. We get we talk about this all the time. It’s somehow it comes up in meetings. And everyone’s like, no, no, don’t go down this route. Your whole afternoon, you’re going to be like scratching your head. And you’re gonna be talking about it over dinner tonight. You’d be like, I don’t know it might be doors.

Jeff 42:39
It might be it now that you’ve brought cabinets into the mix.

Dave 42:45
But then there’s like gears, right like a gear could be a wheel. There’s a lot of gears and things and we you know, like wheels and machinery and

Jeff 42:51
I’m just saying wheels somebody out there. Prove me wrong.

Dave 42:55
Okay, sounds good. This is I’m really intrigued by this next question. This is eight. Because you have you have animals over your left shoulder. So what is your favorite zoo animal?

Jeff 43:09
Oh, my favorite zoo animals and elephant. love elephants think they can remember everything. It’s an emotional animal. They’re big. But yeah, do make them mad. You’ll suffer the consequences. But I feel like they can be gentle like, and they’re a family oriented animal. Like they have a baby. The whole family protects that baby with everything they have. And I think elephants are a magnificent animal.

Dave 43:41
I’m a fan of the elephant as well. I like the elephant who doesn’t like elephants. All right, these last two are a little bit more. Okay, thought there’s a little bit more this these are deep. If you could tell your future you what would be something you would change

Jeff 44:03
you know what, I don’t think I would change anything, Dave. Because I feel like you get to a point. I’m really happy with where I’m at in life. And I feel like if I didn’t have every single negative and positive experience along the way I might be somewhere else today. If I didn’t make all the mistakes I made I probably wouldn’t have met my wife at a retirement home. She is my age she’s not older than me. But we both work there right and so there’s all these things along the way that I think if you were to change your whole life changes I don’t think changes there

Dave 44:37
that’s a great outlook I’d love that. Well then maybe this this this won’t be a tough one if you’re not going to change anything but what what would be something you would keep in the future you won’t be something you would keep.

Jeff 44:52
So something I have now that I would keep Yeah, that you absolutely is your rock. I mean The easy one is, for me family relationship, I think, I don’t think my parents will listen to this. But growing up, like, that’s something I did not have, my parents were divorced. You were everywhere all the time, you were kind of searching for your people. I think whether you knew it or not, when you’re young, when that happens, you’re searching for your people. And so I’ve, in my head when I was like, Hey, I’m going to enter a relationship with my wife long term. That’s something I want to focus on, and always focus on, and have that good experience for the kids. Because I feel like you have a really good building block for your kids growing up, they know that they can trust their parents or their for them, they can make mistakes. So that’s something I would always want to keep. There’s a lot of, you know, this is not relationship advice. But there’s a lot of ups and downs in a relationship. I think a lot of people call it quits too early, is that there’s never all good times. And you have to work just as hard as your relationship as you do in your work career to make it work. And I would give up my career any day. To keep my family.

Dave 46:04
Well said, well said we’re gonna put a bow on that. And that’s perfect. Jeff, if anybody wants to reach out to you, how can they do that?

Jeff 46:13
Yeah, so definitely on LinkedIn, you can check me out there. You can also go to Jeff John’s J O hN s dot m e, just a little one page website, and you can you can reach out to me there as well.

Dave 46:27
Well, thank you so much, Jeff. I have I had a blast here. You know, we’re kind of riffing on what back in some old old times, and I know we’ll stay connected. And for those who you want to learn more about Jeff, links on agency Thank you so much, Jeff.

Jeff 46:43
Thanks very much.

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