The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast

Russ White

May 23, 2023 Chris & Zoë Season 1 Episode 43
The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast
Russ White
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we are joined by Russ White, a renowned networking expert who grew up in a family of engineers and has spent his career exploring the "black art" of networking.

Russ shares with us his experiences in the IETF and the importance of mentoring and learning from one another.

Russ also discusses his time working on successful teams, revealing how a mix of talents and strong relationships can lead to impressive results. He opens up about some of the mistakes he's made throughout his career, emphasizing the importance of learning from failures and moving forward.

Join us as we delve into Russ's journey in the world of networking and his insights on how to navigate it successfully.

"Learn how things work - rather than how to make them work… Relationships are the biggest thing and we don’t treat them that way - it’s all about having friends."

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Make it a great day.

Machines made this, mistakes and all:

[00:00:00] Chris: Hello and welcome to the Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast where everyone belongs, especially if you think you don't. 

[00:00:15] Chris: Welcome imposters. My name is Chris Grundman and I'm here with the best co-host in the business, Zoe Rose. Hey O, this is the Russ White episode, and I gotta say you all are in for a treat today.

[00:00:27] Chris: Russ is a PhD member of Mensa with 48 patents in his name. He runs the routing area at the IETF, and he's had an amazing career across Cisco, Erickson, LinkedIn, Juniper, Verisign, Velo Cloud, and now Akamai. He's an adjunct lecturer at CU Boulder and a prolific content creator. In other words, he's kind of a big deal.

[00:00:47] Chris: I'm pretty sure his home smells of rich Mahogany. And leather bound books, 

[00:00:53] Russ: you would be wrong. 

[00:00:55] Chris: Hey, Russ, do you wanna introduce yourself a bit further to the imposter syndrome network? 

[00:00:59] Russ: Well, sure. I'll just say this beyond what you just said, which is kind of like crazy, like I'm looking around me trying to figure out who you're talking about.

[00:01:05] Russ: But anyway, I. I don't actually run the IETF routing area. I don't think anybody does. In fact, I'm just, I'm on the routing area director, which just means I get to review documents and I have one to review. Actually, I gotta go get to do that. But anyway, yeah, I was on the IAB for a while, but circumstances kind of overcame my IAB'ness.

[00:01:26] Russ: So now I'm not on the IAB, but I'm still working with them on various, oh, who knows? Projects. Privacy is a huge deal for me. So in the IAB is very concerned about privacy, so that kind of is an inter intersection between their lives or the life of the IAB as an organization in my life, as a. Individual network engineer or architect, or whatever I am. 

[00:01:48] Chris: Awesome. Well, and we definitely have a lot of ground to cover today. I think you've, you've done a ton of stuff over the, the course of your career. We recently spoke to Peter Jones who's doing standards work more on the IEEE side and that kind of thing. So it might be interesting to kind of compare that to the IETF a little bit.

[00:02:02] Chris: And we're definitely gonna run outta time, uh, before we hit all the topics we would like to cover with you. 

[00:02:06] Russ: And, and we can do two parts. 

[00:02:07] Chris: Yeah, we could do that. But despite all of that, I wanna start somewhat outside of technology in the magical realm of Narnia because when I was a child, I enjoyed the Chronicles of Narnia with my mother.

[00:02:21] Chris: She first read them to me and then I read them myself. And I know there's a little bit of that world and those stories that I'm always gonna carry it with me. I understand that you too are a friend of Aslan and I'd like to start, uh, today by asking you to tell us what that means to you. Who the heck is Aslan, maybe how all of the above affects the way you approach your work and, and your career.

[00:02:41] Russ: So yeah, so I wasn't raised in that world by and large, but when I was in the US Air Force and, and actually before that to some degree, I did some soul searching and some searching. Searching and went through a lot of different phases in my life. And, um, you know, I did, I've read all the works of CS Lewis at least once.

[00:03:00] Russ: Um, I didn't actually start with the Chronicles of Narnia. I actually started with the Abolition of Man, for those of you who are curious, which is still one of my favorite books by him. And another one of my favorites, by the way, is Till We Have Faces, that's, that's probably, I love Till we have Faces, but that's a, that's another one well really captured my imagination was over a weekend in the US Air Force.

[00:03:20] Russ: When I was doing nothing else, I mean, whatever that means. I read the entire Hobbit series starting on Friday night and ending on Sunday afternoon, all four books. Oh wow. And that's a marathon and I into 50 something hours. And so, you know, that really started me thinking about a lot of things. And then I didn't really do a whole lot with it until I had my first child.

[00:03:41] Russ: And when I had my first child, I was like, okay, this is either real or it's not. And I either need to be serious about this or I don't. One or the other. You know, I've got this child that I'm responsible for now and I've gotta do something about it. And so I dug into it pretty deep and amazingly I met this guy Doug Bookman, who's still a really good friend of mine, and he, he kind of twisted my arm and asked me if I would be interested in getting a, a theology degree.

[00:04:05] Russ: And so I went to, uh, Shepherd's Theological Seminary and got a master's with my second master's at the time. And then halfway through the Masters, I was gonna do a four year master's degree, which called an Mdiv. For those of you who are familiar with that world, it's a Master's of Divinity. I was struggling with the languages because frankly, that's one of my downfalls.

[00:04:23] Russ: I stink at languages, just to be honest with you. I'm very bad at memorizing list of words, and so I'm very horrible with Greek and Hebrew. If you, if you give me a Greek dictionary, a Hebrew dictionary, and a grammar, I can piece my way through the original text of various things, but I'm by no means ever gonna be able to read Greek and Hebrew natively.

[00:04:43] Russ: And so I was struggling with the languages and a friend of mine pointed out to me that there was a program at Liberty that accepts people with one master's with, with a master's in theology into a PhD program. And I thought, well, the PhD's not many more hours. I think I'll just go over there and check it out.

[00:05:04] Russ: And they flat out rejected me and I thought, oh, well that really sucks. And so, so another friend of mine said, look, you don't have the philosophical background in chops to make it into Southeastern Baptist. I mean, those guys are serious. They're the real deal. And if you don't know the history of philosophy from Plato through.

[00:05:24] Russ: Dewey, then you're not even gonna make it into the PhD program, like you can just forget it. And so he said, but you, I really ought to go talk to Dr. Little because he's a big technology dude, and he'd be very cool to talk to. So I went and talked to Dr. Little, and by the time I finished talking to him, he had already written a reco...

[00:05:42] Russ: Our 20 minute meeting turned into a two hour meeting, and he had written me a recommendation into the PhD program. And given me a, a list of 20 books and said, we will see you at the entrance exam, but you need to read these 20 books and be serious about studying them. And so I passed the entrance exam and they're... off I went into the world of PhD for philosophy. 

[00:06:03] Russ: So yeah, that's kind of my story there is that, you know, it's a, I'm more of a, for those who are curious about it, I'm more of a Lewis person than like my wife has very strong. Spiritual and emotional things in her background that she talks about when she talks about how she got involved in all of this.

[00:06:23] Russ: Me, I'm much more of a Lewis dragged kicking and screaming intellectually, like, you just can't escape. I'm sorry. That's, that's kind of my more of my experience. 

[00:06:37] Zoe: No, that's very fair. I'm curious though, with that, why did you get into tech. 

[00:06:44] Russ: I was in tech before that a long time.

[00:06:46] Zoe: Okay. So maybe how did those kind of work together then?

[00:06:51] Zoe: And I guess I, I still wanna know why you got in tech originally, but how, also, how do you, those two different, quite different worlds work together? 

[00:07:00] Russ: So my perspective on it is, is that, um, it's just twin passions. I really love the logical and in-depth pieces of philosophy and deep theology. And I spend time now with college students talking about that kind of stuff and just, you know, going over their really hard questions about different ways, ethics and anthropology and ontology and epistemology and all those ology things.

[00:07:22] Russ: So I enjoy all that. I also enjoy tech. But you know, the thing about tech is, is that I probably should tell you how I got into tech so that you have a more of an understanding. I, I grew up in, in an engineering family. Everybody in my family, pretty much, well, I shouldn't say they're all engineers. My grandfather was a, a county agent for anybody who knows what that is, worked for the forestry service and taught farmers how to grow food.

[00:07:47] Russ: That's basically what he did. And um, he was absolutely no fun to go fishing with, by the way. It was horrible because he, like you get to the fishing hole and see he had blasted half the ponds in the entire area anyway, where, where he lived. So you give the fishing hole and he like, puts his line in, puts his line in.

[00:08:06] Russ: He puts his line, he's like, that's my limit. What you got? Wow. And you're like, whatcha are you doing? Like, I can't catch a fish to save my life. And he's already caught his entire ca limit, you know? And it's like, what the heck? That's so mean. But anyway, so, but everybody else in my family's pretty much engineering in some way or another.

[00:08:28] Russ: And so even as a young, young, young kid, I learned morse code. I learned how to tear down tube type radios. When I was eight or nine. I was climbing 90 foot radio towers and hanging inverted V and Yagi antennas by the time I was 13 or 14. And so I had amateur radio license when I was 12. I passed my, my first amateur radio license past tech when I was 13 or 14.

[00:08:55] Russ: I was doing field days. So I mean, I've been doing electronics my entire life, but when I went into the Air Force, it was largely electronics. But there came this point. When we were doing what are called tech orders on VORs and tack ends and, and other things, and we were basically replacing all the tube type stuff with digital stuff.

[00:09:16] Russ: And it went from the point of where I'd walk into the shelter with a multi meter and an oscilloscope and like a nearfield monitor and I would actually climb the tower and do the work and figure out what was wrong to, there was a little console there. And you type in run diagnostics and it says, go to supply point a 14, withdraw the card you find on that supply point and replace it, and you're like, okay, this is not fun anymore.

[00:09:50] Russ: Working with tube type OPMs is a lot more fun than working with a monitor that just tells you like, Replace this or replace that. So that's when I got into networking cuz networking was still a black art and it was a lot more fun. And, and it still is. That's part of the reason I still like it, is because it's not, it's not like I can tell somebody do this and it will always work.

[00:10:11] Russ: That's just not the way things work in our world. And so, And by the way, going back to the purpose of the point of the podcast, that's part of what makes you feel an imposter, right? Nobody is an imposter in a shelter with a computer monitor and a diagnostics thing that tells you what to replace, right?

[00:10:29] Russ: Cuz you're not doing the thinking. If you have to do the thinking, you're gonna feel like an imposter that's just, oh, well get over it. 

[00:10:38] Chris: So I think it might be worth fast forwarding a little bit. And you know, it would be interesting to talk about, we talked a little bit about kind of your work in the directorate for the routing area at the IETF.

[00:10:49] Chris: And as I mentioned, we, we kind of recently talked to somebody who works within the IEEE and some other, you know, standards bodies like that. I wonder if maybe you could, you know, paint us a picture of, you know, what the IETF even is. How it operates and then what your role there is kind of how you, and maybe even like how you get involved in that, if somebody was interested in that work.

[00:11:05] Chris: You know, where do they start? How do they get into that? Maybe that's a lot, but I'll let you riff on it. 

[00:11:09] Russ: Sure. So I got involved in the IETF at first because Alvaro Retana drug me kicking and screaming into the IETF. But most things in my life, by the way, I have not done because I'm like dying to do it. Most things in my life I have been like, We need this done.

[00:11:26] Russ: And I'm like, oh, I guess I'll go do that. Oh, okay. I'll try it. What's the worst? That'll happen. I'll fall off a horse and die or something. I don't know. So like whatever. It's how I got into writing. It's how I got into podcasting. It's everything. It's always been that way in my life. I am not nearly like, but anyway, Alvaro pulled me into this thing and tried to get me involved in a particular thing that we, A problem that was trying to be solved.

[00:11:52] Russ: So the IETF is interesting because it's ostensibly, it's all volunteer. There's nobody there who is speaking for their company. If you read the IETF website and you read the "note well" at the beginning of every working group session, it says you are speaking for yourself. You are not speaking for your company.

[00:12:09] Russ: Do not speak for your company, speak for yourself. Now the reality is however, most people are paid to go to the IETF. They eat some part of the percentage of their job and the i, the, their company pays for their travel. So there are still kind of political things that go on in the background. So outwardly, it's not political.

[00:12:28] Russ: Outwardly, it's all about the technology. Behind the scenes, there is politics. Behind the scenes, there are, you know, vote trading and other thing, everything else that goes on. Not that we have votes in the IETF by the way, that's not the way things work. Everything is done on rough consensus. There's hum trading, yes hum trading, but it's not really so much hum.

[00:12:47] Russ: Trading as it is. Alright. There's two types of horse trading that can go on. The first is you helped me get this document into last call and I'll help you get your document into the last call, right. When you're not competing, the other is, okay, we're competing. So what often happens is, is that people will either decide on one solution or the other.

[00:13:07] Russ: Or if both organizations supporting the two drafts have a lot of technical dollars sunk, um, they've already implemented and they have customers deploying, what they will do is they'll say, okay, we'll come up with a clever way so that both are in the standard, and then we'll find some way to make them inter-operate.

[00:13:26] Russ: Or maybe not. That really depends. Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes it works. I know that sounds terrible, but, but sometimes it, you know, sometimes the interoperability is, is more. Yeah, we inter operate, wink, wink.

[00:13:43] Russ: Good luck with that. Or, or we inter operate on these three things. Now the actual features you want are about 25 things, but we inter operate on these three so we can claim interoperability. So there, there's some of that that goes on as well. But it's largely a, a volunteer organization with a lot of different personalities and a lot of different concerns.

[00:14:04] Russ: Some of us are very concerned about privacy. Others are very much like, well, whatever. Or, yeah, we love privacy, but it's gonna destroy network monitoring, or it's gonna destroy our ability to do our, you know, to make money. So we're just not gonna deal with it. Give lip service to it, or whatever you wanna say.

[00:14:19] Russ: You know, it's like any other organization. You have all sorts of positives, negatives, people with different viewpoints and working in different ways and stuff, but they are all largely brilliant people in their own domain. Just don't think that because someone is brilliant in one domain, that means they're actually wise or brilliant in all domains.

[00:14:41] Russ: It's like the actor who gets up in front of Congress and says, how much stuff do you know about farming? Well, I played a farmer once in a movie. Yeah, that's good. Yeah. Okay, let's move along now and we find a real farmer, please. It's just like what? Whatever. So, yeah, just, you know, a lot of people come in the IETF and they're like, ooh, awed, because you know, so and so is there and they're brilliant and they designed this and whatever, and they're all, first of all, you have to understand they're all, they all feel like imposters too, frankly.

[00:15:15] Russ: And second of all, you have to feel like, you have to realize just because they're brilliant and they designed X protocol doesn't mean that they're brilliant in life or they're brilliant in areas that are outside of their actual area of expertise. They have AR areas of expertise and we all do. And. You know, that's just the way it works.

[00:15:33] Zoe: The saying is that never meet your heroes. I think sometimes. Sometimes it's not because it's necessarily negative, but then you realize, oh, you've put them on this pedestal, but they're actually a human being. 

[00:15:44] Russ: Yeah, that's right. That's right. You know, the guy who invented DNS and the first person who implemented it still stand around and discuss where to go to dinner for 10 or 15 minutes before they actually go.

[00:15:56] Russ: I dunno what to say, you know? One still likes sushi and the other still likes steak or whatever it is. It's just, they're just people. So I don't know. 

[00:16:06] Zoe: One thing that stood out to me is you've mentioned a few people here and there that recommended you do this or recommended you to do that and, and then obviously for your PhD you saw another person that then, uh, I guess.

[00:16:19] Zoe: I suppose you could call them a sponsor cuz they did, um, write your recommendation. 

[00:16:25] Russ: That's, that's what it is. It's a, it's called a major professor and you have to have a major professor sponsor you into the program before you can. 

[00:16:31] Zoe: Oh, okay. So I'm just curious, is mentoring a big part of kind of your journey in your career?

[00:16:38] Zoe: Or is it more you met people that happened to give you really good advice at the time? 

[00:16:43] Russ: Um, I would say that, It's a little bit of both. I do not have a lot of mentors that are long term, a few, not so much in the technology world. I have more of, well, I have a few people like Alvaro Retana who mentored me at first, who then became more of a peer and we just talk, as you know, people now and we go back and forth.

[00:17:05] Russ: I have others who mentored me, like when I was in the Air Force, more about personal stuff, like TJ took me in hand who was a master sergeant in the Air Force in my shop and kind of said, You're brilliant, but you have no self-discipline and we're gotta fix that to make things actually work for you. And so there, there are people like that.

[00:17:24] Russ: And I haven't talked to TJ and since I left the Air Force or even like, you know, a long, long time, it's been 30 or 40 years, whatever it is now. And so there are other people like Doug Bookman who are still in my life, who I banter back and forth about theology and philosophy and stuff like that. But he was a very strong mentor in the very beginning.

[00:17:41] Russ: So mentoring. Is to me a thing that comes and goes in my life. And as far as doing mentoring, I would like to do more of it except there's this time problem. I always run into walls with time. And the other thing is I find a hard time about mentoring personally is that if somebody who lives in a foreign place, wherever it is, not because it's wrong or anything, but just cuz that's where they live.

[00:18:05] Russ: I have a very hard time mentoring people who live in like 12 hours away from me or like, you know, whatever it is. It's like, to me mentoring has gotta be like, okay, I'll meet you for coffee type of a thing. And it's hard to do it. It's gotta be a regular contact. And so I get, I get requests all the time, can you mentor me?

[00:18:23] Russ: And they're like, in China, well, okay, it's not that I don't want to mentor you, but like I don't even know how to like do that. Like, that's just not like in my skillset to be able to do that particular thing. Might work for other people, but it's not something I can do. So, yeah, mentoring both in and out and, and by the way, I think mentoring, a lot of times you end up learning as much as you do giving.

[00:18:49] Russ: And I think that some people make a mistake about mentoring as they think I'm pouring myself into someone else, which is true. But on the other side, I'll betcha Doug Bookman would now say that he's learned some stuff from me. I know he learned the word orthogonal from me. He uses it all the time now. So, I mean, there, there are things that.

[00:19:09] Russ: You know, you gotta go into mentoring, thinking that it's not just a, it's not just a one-way street. It's not just a, I'm gonna absorb stuff from this person, but what am I gonna bring to the table as well? 

[00:19:20] Chris: Yeah, it has to be mutual. That makes a lot of sense. Um, there's a give and take there that's also true of teamwork and collaboration more generally.

[00:19:28] Chris: I think I, I'm curious, you know, obviously you've had a, a pretty long career, pretty successful career at this point, worked across a number of companies, both, you know, either in there as an employee, distinguished engineer, architect, et cetera, or as an advisor. I wonder if you could kind of think back and, and maybe describe to us the best team that you've been a part of.

[00:19:45] Russ: My goodness. Okay. That's really hard actually, cuz I've been a member of many, many good teams. Well you can just pick one then. Okay. Yeah. So I would say that the routing protocols team at Cisco TAC was my first exposure to a really, I mean we had some good teams in the Air Force, but they were a different way of teams.

[00:20:02] Russ: Like in the mob we had some very strong teams. Global army, sorry, I shouldn't say that. And like qualify it. We had some very strong, wait a minute, we had some very strong teams in that. As a shop, we weren't so much of a team, but like, because there wasn't as much pressure in many cases, I don't think the Cisco TAC team was totally, completely awesome.

[00:20:22] Russ: I love those guys. That was great. We all worked together really well. We had a lot of fun times. We had a lot of fun, funny things that happened to us. We used to toss cases back and forth and stuff, and it was one of the most excellent teams I think I've ever worked on. We often talk about Alvaro was the TAC lead at that time.

[00:20:38] Russ: And we have to talk about things like across the three years, two to three years that I was in Cisco TAC and then in global escalation, which I, I, I liked global escalation, but we didn't have as much of a team dynamic there. We never had a single escalation come out of our team. No cases were escalated in like two or three years, like zero cases were escalated out of our team, which was a pretty radical accomplishment.

[00:21:04] Russ: It's like just the excellence of the team and the diversity of our knowledge and our skillsets and our ability to deal with people, which is so well matched that if I couldn't handle something, I knew I could get Alvaro to handle it, or Monica, or who, you know, Susan or whoever. There were all these people on this team.

[00:21:20] Russ: They were all excellent at just. And not so much technology wise, but with dealing with different personalities and dealing with different problem sets. Like if you need somebody hardnosed, then you go get James. Cause James is gonna get in the customer's face and he's gonna like push. Right. And me, I'm much more of the technical guy who's gonna like not, I don't really go along to go along, get along to go along.

[00:21:43] Russ: Mike Bushong always says, I'm more of a questionnaire, like I always ask questions and get people to really think about what they're doing and draw out of them what they're trying to do. But in some high pressure situations, asking questions isn't any good. Do you need James? You need somebody that's gonna walk in there and smack 'em across the face and say, stop now.

[00:22:01] Russ: You know, or, and then, you know, like Monica was always really great and at like bringing people out and like building a really good relationship with them and. And so we all solve problems in different ways. And every time you'd run a counter a customer, you knew somebody on the team that either knew what they, that you didn't know or they knew how to deal with that personality type.

[00:22:21] Russ: And so I thought that was a really fantastic team. Other really good teams I've been on. I think that, let me think a second. So if I move forward, I think that when I was at Verisign, Verisign Labs was a really great team. We worked together really well and had a lot of, had a lot of success there, even though a lot of it never made it into the public eye.

[00:22:39] Russ: Working on things. And again, it was a diversity of skillsets and people types. And then the team at Juniper that I was on just recently is a really good team, product marketing. They have a lot of really good guys, a lot of really good people working in that area. So I don't know, there have been a number of good teams.

[00:22:57] Russ: I think if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Cisco TAC and Global escalation. Those were the days when, I mean, I really cut my teeth and got to know people and, and it was very, a very good time. And we challenged each other very hard to get things done and to learn things. 

[00:23:13] Zoe: With that, with all of the successes, was there ever a time that you had a massive mistake or a challenge that really frustrated you and how did you grow from it and maybe handled the uncertainty of, you know, making a mistake or the uncertainty of not knowing what to do next?

[00:23:33] Russ: Well, I guess the real question is when has there been a time when I haven't had a mistake or not had failures of some kind? Yeah, so you should ask my wife that question,

[00:23:48] Russ: especially since, I mean, I've been divorced from remarried within the last three years, so, so she'll tell you just how I feel about this, this entire thing. But anyway, in fact, she kind of beats up on me about it sometimes. But anyway, yeah. I mean my life has been, for those of you who think I have lived a charmed life, you are completely and utterly wrong.

[00:24:08] Russ: Okay. You know, you start back in my childhood, and the reason I ended up in the US Air Force is because I was a music major in college and because a family situation, I had to drop out of college and I had to do something with myself. Right. And, you know, I've made plenty of mistakes myself. I mean, I've been laid off three times in my life or kind of, you know, other things have happened to me.

[00:24:31] Russ: And again, it's not just all environmental. Some of it's my fault too. I mean, I've made bad decisions in trying to fix a network. I remember this one time that, um, I was working with, uh, uh, the FPS 77 Radar System, and it's probably one of the, I remember it so well, cuz it was probably one of the first times that.

[00:24:46] Russ: I had this kind of experience that this guy, Sergeant Petrak, we always used to call him. Um, well anyway, Sergeant Petroc and he and I were called out at two o'clock in the morning and there was a, a failed capacitor on the FPS 77 on one of the circuit boards. And so we took our multi-meters out and we powered it off and we started doing measurements and this, that and the other, or whatever.

[00:25:08] Russ: Actually, it wasn't pasture, it was resistor. But anyway, we're out there doing this stuff and we ordered. A replacement for a particular capacitor that was in the circuit or a particular inductor or something. I don't remember what it was now. And the next morning I got in and TJ was not very happy and I'm like, what's going on?

[00:25:25] Russ: He said, well, that troubleshooting you just did last night really sucked because you didn't realize you didn't look at the circuit well enough. And there was actually a parallel component that shows a short all the time. So you measured across two parallel things without looking at the way the circuits build.

[00:25:43] Russ: You ordered the wrong part and we're down now for an extra 24 hours because you messed up. Right? And so, you know, you have that kind of experience. But the way he handled it was, look, we all make mistakes. Let's not fix the blame. Let's fix the problem, let's move on. You know, they'll deal without the radar for another 24 hours.

[00:26:04] Russ: We can apologize to 'em, we can fix it, whatever. You know, there have been other times when mistake in the same piece of equipment were rather funny. All tubes have a key that make you put the tube on in the right place so the, the pins go in the right place cuz they're round and they'll go in, in any, like, you can put 'em in any way you want to, but they have to go in a particular way.

[00:26:24] Russ: Well, one time we were troubleshooting an operational amplifier and we had this tube tester out and we were carefully putting pairs of tubes in there cuz to make a tube type opn a work, you've gotta have two tubes that are very, very close in their plate voltage and stuff. I know I'm talking about stuff that nobody else has ever heard of in their lives, but that's okay.

[00:26:40] Russ: And so we, we found two tubes that were right, and, but one of 'em was missing the key. And so, you know, the person testing the tubes handed them to the person who was installing them. And they put it in and it was one pin off and we powered it back on. And it just so happens that the station master for the entire weather station was standing behind us.

[00:27:00] Russ: And he turned the power on and smoke comes pouring out of the entire, the drawer. It was like, and so TJ looks at him, he goes, yeah, well we failed the smoke test. Guess we'll try again. And so, you know, so I mean, I think there's an an importance in learning to be humorous about it and just like, yeah, we all make mistakes.

[00:27:23] Russ: It is what it is. Go fix it. And I think the first time I encountered that was in the Air Force with tj and after that, you know, I've kind of picked up that whole attitude myself of just not, don't blame people like they make mistakes, make it better next time. Find a way. It's not just their fault, it's the situation they're in.

[00:27:42] Russ: Sometimes you've gotta make the situation better. You've got to like work within what the way people really are and just accept it is it is what it is. They make mistakes, whatever. So yeah, I mean, I've had a lot of letdowns in my life. Now, personally, how I deal with it is I've always, which is hard right now in my life, but I've always had a very strong network of people around me outside of work who understand enough about what I do and the pressures I deal with to back me up and to say, You've gotta stop thinking about this.

[00:28:18] Russ: Let's go for a hike. You've gotta stop. Let's go do this. Let's go do something, you know, or even distract me with, like I'm totally blown away by something. And they'll say, okay, if you looked at this passage, can we really talk about that? And they'll make me spend like two or three hours digging into other parts of my life to like make me walk away from the problem long enough to be sane.

[00:28:39] Russ: I think if I didn't have that, I would be insane by now, just to be honest. 

[00:28:44] Chris: Well folks, as predicted, we have run clean out of time. Russ, I, I really can't thank you enough for sharing your story with the Imposter Syndrome Network today. And always thank you to the imposters out there listening. We know that your time and your attention are the most valuable assets you have, and we very much appreciate you spending them here with us.

[00:29:05] Chris: As you know, our goal is to help as many folks as we can, and so we'd really appreciate it if you share this episode and this podcast with others who might be interested. Friends, colleagues, family members, students. I think you know who needs to hear this now, Russ, I am gonna sneak one more bit of wisdom in here before we close out if I can.

[00:29:23] Chris: I know that one of your passions is helping engineers grow, and so you know, that's also a big part of why we're doing this. I wonder, you know, if you can tell us, What the most valuable lesson you've learned so far in your career? Or, or maybe you know, what that one piece of advice that every aspiring engineer out there should hear?

[00:29:40] Chris: What can we leave the, the listeners with? 

[00:29:42] Russ: Yeah. There's so many. Again, I think the biggest thing I would say that from my career is learn how things work rather than how to, how to make them work, learn like what's in the background and, and what other people are doing. And see that's the other problem is, is relationships are like the biggest thing and we just totally ignore relationships.

[00:30:03] Russ: And honestly, I mean, if you don't have friends and you don't have a wor you know, like the the work people around you and stuff, then you're just not doing something right. That's totally what everything is about is your friends and, and around just having a network of people that you can tap into and, and help you understand things.

[00:30:22] Russ: I always say, you can ask me anything because I may not know the answer, but I know somebody who does. And I think if you, if you don't have that attitude and you don't have those people in your life, then you need to go find them.

[00:30:31] Chris: I love it. That is a great piece of advice for sure. Are there any projects or, or things that the Imposter Syndrome network should know about?

[00:30:39] Chris: I know you're working on a book. Uh, is there anything we should highlight that folks you go take a look at, uh, in the near future? 

[00:30:43] Russ: Yeah. People just follow me in my normal places. Rule 11, the hedge, stuff like that. That's, that's all good. And they'll learn about what I'm working on. I am working on a book for Pearson, but it's high school level.

[00:30:53] Russ: I don't know how many of your. Peeps will be interested unless they wanna listen to me talk about weird ways of thinking about how routing works. 

[00:31:03] Chris: Yeah. Uh, cool. Well, we'll definitely we'll link to, uh, rule 11, uh, and your Twitter and your LinkedIn and stuff. So folks wanna kind of follow you and, and reach out they can.

[00:31:12] Chris: And with that, uh, we'll be back next week.