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Embracing the Mercenary Within with Björn Büttner

Updated: Jun 2

The Randal Osché Podcast: Season 1 | Episode 6

In this episode of the Randall Osché podcast, join me for a deep and insightful conversation with Björn Büttner, a seasoned software engineer known for his contributions to open-source development, love for metal music, and avid reading habits. We explore Björn's personal and professional journey, highlighting the crucial role of stepping out of one's comfort zone for growth and learning. Björn shares candid insights into his battles with depression and how overcoming the adversity of his divorce has fueled his determination in both his career and personal life.

Our discussion also ventures into the tech industry, where Björn offers career advice for new software engineers about leveraging open-source projects to enhance their skills. Furthermore, he discusses his business venture, underscoring his commitment to continuous professional development and providing valuable services.

Throughout our conversation, themes of resilience, the power of open dialogue about mental health, and the significance of adopting a 'mercenary' mindset in business and life challenges are emphasized, offering listeners a blend of professional insights and deeply personal reflections.

Don't miss this episode as we dive deep into Björn's journey, uncovering invaluable advice for aspiring engineers and insights into tackling life's challenges with resilience and an open mind.

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyOvercastPodcast Index, Podcasts AddictAmazon Music, or on your favorite podcast platform.


Bjorn Quotes:

1. "Be a mercenary when you work." Generally speaking, employers expect loyalty but aren’t inclined to be loyal to their employees. We see this time and time again with mass layoffs. Don’t fall into that one-way loyalty trap.

2. "Actually a very strange generation break here because let's say 20 years ago actually the companies here had some loyalties to the employees still but then laws changed and suddenly the expectation seems to have changed."

3. "It's a psychological book about how negative behavior from a previous generation is pretty much repeated by the next generation and leads to results even further generations down that are pretty much not logical anymore because the original issue is gone but have been introduced by an original issue."

4. Björn, on the most influential book he’s read, The Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw. "For example my drive my extreme drive to get perfect results and perfect marks for something seems to be shared by my father and seems to have been introduced by my father's father, who presented him as great whenever he had a great result somewhere."

5. "Open source pretty much means you have the source code available... and you learn from it. You actually improve the quality of your coding a lot."

Randall Osché Quotes:

1. "I started looking at myself as a business entity with skills, traits, and abilities for hire as Randall Osche Incorporated.” If you want to hire me and pay me for those skills, I'm willing to loan those to you for a period of time at a price."

2. "But in a strictly employee-employer model, if I'm the employee, I'm approaching it that I can go work for anybody whenever I want. And I would recommend everybody look at it the same way. And that's not cynical. That's objective, as well as how things actually operate."

3. "In the United States, we don't have very strong employment laws protecting employees. So employers can just fire you for whatever they want."

4. "And understand that the way you see things isn't the way everybody else sees things, and the things that come hard and easy to you aren't the things that come hard and easy to everybody else."

5. "I think perspective matters, and being able to meet people where they're at is very important as well as being able to empathize with them."

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments!

And that's it for today's conversation here on the Randall Osché podcast. Thank you so much for joining us and we hope that you've enjoyed listening as much as we've enjoyed recording it.

Many many thanks to our guests today for sharing their knowledge, their experience and their life lessons. If you found today's conversation insightful, interesting, inspiring, please join our growing community by subscribing. Randall Osché podcast on your favorite podcast platform, and never ever miss another episode.

 We'd love to hear your feedback. So keep the community alive by sharing your takeaways from today's episode and use the hashtag Randall O'Shea podcast. Your feedback and interaction fuels our continued efforts to build a safe space for meaningful, long form conversations. So thank you so much for the support until next time, stay curious, stay inspired and keep the conversation going.

The Randall Osché Podcast - Björn ‘Idrinth’ Büttner (Episode 6)

[00:00:00] Bjorn: The main point for me is a learning experience there. 

[00:00:03] Bjorn: It's a lot around my comfort zone, obviously. It makes it easier to access those zones and to make the step into that. And from my experience, once you did that step, the next step further outside your original comfort zone also gets easier.

[00:00:18] Bjorn: So it is about growing in small steps instead of doing a large jump, which will take a lot of effort in comparison. 

[00:00:27] AI: Hello, and welcome to the Randall O'Shea podcast, where we create a safe space for meaningful and thought provoking conversations. We have long form interviews with entrepreneurs, thought leaders, artists, and change makers in order to deconstruct their journeys and to pass out valuable life lessons and life changing perspectives for listeners like yourself.

[00:00:51] AI: So that you can, as Randall says, learn their lessons without their scars. So, whether you're tuning in on your daily commute, or during a workout, or cooking dinner, we are happy to have you join us. So, take a seat, relax, grab a cup of tea, and join the conversation. Now, let's dive into this week's episode. 

[00:01:16] Video: You made it

[00:01:28] Randall: Björn Büttner, welcome to the show. For the people who don't know you yet, would you like to take a quick moment and introduce yourself? 

[00:01:39] Bjorn: Yes, certainly. Thank you for having me. I've been a software engineer for about 14 years now.

[00:01:44] Bjorn: Started coding about 17 years ago. I am a German, which you can likely tell by the accent. And, I'm heavily into open source, metal and reading actually. 

[00:01:57] Randall: So metal reading metal, when we're talking about metal, we're talking about music, right? Okay. I am not. Probably, why I asked the clarifying question.

[00:02:06] Randall: So Björn and I had met on ADP list, an ADP list for the people who don't know. I'm a big fan of it. It's a platform. So it's a mentor mentee platform for people in the technology space. I say technology space because I don't differentiate between that world at all.

[00:02:26] Randall: And maybe Björn can help us with that. differentiation, but it's a mentor mentee website. And I believe both Björn and I are mentors on there. And we met on the Slack channel when I had introduced myself and we figured it would be a good opportunity to get together today, do a podcast episode, to learn a little bit more about one another, and hopefully for the listeners out there from our journey in our conversation today, you can have some bits of wisdom or advice you can take away from this, that impacts your journey in a positive direction.

[00:03:00] Randall: But getting back to ADP list. Big proponent of ADP list. It's a great platform. I think there's 20, 000 people in the platform and the nice thing about it is you have 20, 000 people that have opted in to talking to strangers.

[00:03:15] Randall: And in my career, I've realized the power in talking to strangers that you get opportunities and you get jobs by virtue of that. So I welcome all opportunities to connect with, you know, either mentors that people that have something. One, I believe everybody has something to give somebody else.

[00:03:33] Randall: But if people feel as though they have something to gain from me, I'm willing to have that conversation, and I'm certainly willing to learn from people like Björn as well. But maybe we'll start there with, the technology side of things. How did you get started in that? Has that been your professional career?

[00:03:51] Randall: Was that a personal interest? Did you say like, those things interest me, so I'm going to learn it and do it? How did your journey in technology get started? 

[00:04:00] Bjorn: Yeah, that's actually a good question. It has a mixture of a couple of things. I did get a computer with Windows 3. 11, I think around 10, 12 years of age.

[00:04:11] Bjorn: My uncle showed me a couple of things. I explored it, a lot. So, DOS and Windows 3. 11 were the main thing I knew for a long time, which is more like system administrative stuff that I did there and I still do for all my family and friends that are not themselves something in the software industry.

[00:04:33] Bjorn: Then when the time came after my A levels to figure out what I actually wanted to do, I tried to combine everything I had an interest in. So, electrical engineering, biology, and, oh, Software, because I didn't know how to write software. I wanted to figure that out.

[00:04:51] Bjorn: That was 2007 at that time. I stayed there till 2010, where I just failed to sign up to exams because of a server crash at that, university specifically, which deleted all my signups, which I found out way too late. 

[00:05:10] Randall: Boom. 

[00:05:11] Bjorn: But yeah I then used the knowledge I gathered there because it was a good study and a useful one to transfer into the work market.

[00:05:21] Bjorn: Here in Germany, we have something called apprenticeships. That is not an internship. It is a paid position, low pay, but still paid, where you are purposefully trained and go to school to learn something specifically. I took, I think around 80 applications or something around those that number to get an internship or an apprenticeship.

[00:05:44] Bjorn: And I found a small company here in the city I actually live in again. I was happy about taking someone who stopped studying in the middle of their studies and didn't finish. And even offered me to start in February of 2010 at that time, which was in the middle of the apprenticeship year.

[00:06:04] Bjorn: Because apprenticeships in software engineering start in August. So, technically, I spent two and a half years with the apprenticeship to June, 2012, learned a lot about web software engineering, already spent a lot of time besides work building stuff of, in that case for an MMO. I was a huge fan of online website tools stuff along those lines, just to broaden my horizon, to learn more than I could at the company.

[00:06:34] Bjorn: Yeah, and after that, I pretty much stayed in the job of software engineering and have written software ever since and also from time to time I play around with things I do less like server setups and things along those lines, so I might be called a DevOps most likely. More than, just a dev because I can set up servers.

[00:06:58] Bjorn: I can manage servers. 

[00:07:00] Randall: Okay, so a lot to unpack there. Thank you for sharing. So, first question probably a cultural difference here. What are A levels? 

[00:07:09] Bjorn: Oh I thought it was known A levels, something that is also known in Britain, that's why I picked that name. German name is Abitur, which allows you to study whatever you want to.

[00:07:19] Randall: Maybe it's known to everybody, but not me. 

[00:07:21] Bjorn: It's an exam, it's the end of your school life, pretty much. 

[00:07:24] Randall: Is it, like 18 years old.

[00:07:26] Bjorn: Yeah,

[00:07:26] Bjorn: before you start your bachelor's, whatever school is there last. It's pretty much an exam and a combined grade from the last two years. If good enough allows you to study whatever you want to, there may be additional requirements. For example, medicine needs to have, I think, an a, and not just something like an A minus on that total assignment to even get in, but most studies are open to you in that point.

[00:07:54] Randall: Yeah, see, I'm already learning. It's perfect. The other thing, I mean, I understand this, but this is something that's different culturally. Is the value of apprenticeships. So you had mentioned, I'll go back a second. So just so I'm clear, you were at university. And then you weren't registered for classes because of the glitch.

[00:08:15] Randall: And then you made the decision to not go back eventually, but you started, an apprenticeship, so a couple of questions around that. Well, first do I have that sort of timeline, correct? 

[00:08:28] Bjorn: That is about right. It was not about signing up to classes, but to the exams. You could just go to whenever you wanted to, or if you didn't that didn't have any effect, but the exams you had to sign up for.

[00:08:41] Randall: Okay. Gotcha. Did you go to the classes? 

[00:08:44] Bjorn: Honestly, in the last year, I didn't manage to go to many classes. It was the first time my depression really hit hard. I barely managed to get out of the flat I was living in. I was there in the beginning, but Yeah, it's got harder the longer I stayed and the little progress I made in other things that I needed to provide the university was annoying and frustrating.

[00:09:08] Randall: That I can relate to. I want to put a pin on the depression thing and make sure we circle back to that if you're okay talking about it. I think it could be valuable for other folks to hear your journey there. But the apprenticeship, I'm very intrigued with the way the more I broaden my horizons and the more I speak with people internationally, specifically in Europe as well, that there's a different way of doing things, right?

[00:09:34] Randall: Like I'll say like a different way of doing business, but I don't mean just business, just in a way to approach life. There's different way to approach school. And I believe there's value in learning from how other countries and other cultures handle things so that the collective as a human population, we can all grow and get better together through like these human experiments that we're all doing, right.

[00:09:57] Randall: And take the collective of what works best. And keep on iterating and improving on it. In the United States, you know, internships are a thing. And in certain industries, apprenticeships are a thing. Some internships are paid, some internships aren't paid. And apprenticeships would be paid, but again, those are really only applicable to I would probably say like blue collar, electricians, plumbers carpentry, perhaps. But from my understanding Björn, you're in Germany, that's across industries, correct? 

[00:10:32] Bjorn: Yes. There are very few job groups that don't have an apprenticeship to go along. 

[00:10:37] Randall: So. I want to talk about that because I'm, I'm intrigued about the value that that added to your life and your career, but you had mentioned something that stuck out to me that 

[00:10:47] Randall: you submitted 80 applications for apprenticeships. 

[00:10:51] Bjorn: Yeah, something around that number. Maybe a couple more, couple less, but. 

[00:10:54] Randall: Yeah. I want to know how you remember that. Like, why does that number stick into your mind? 

[00:10:58] Bjorn: You have something that, government organizations that helps people search for new jobs and they do want a proof of, fulfillment of the base requirements.

[00:11:10] Bjorn: So I spent a lot of time backtracking how many applications I sent. And on the other hand, I just have a good mind for numbers. 

[00:11:18] Randall: Yeah. So, through those 80 some applications, I imagine that there was probably sort of like an interview process. Some organizations would reach out to you, some wouldn't.

[00:11:29] Randall: But I imagine that there were a few nos along the way, or positions filled, we don't have room for any more apprentices. Your skillset don't match the skills that we're looking for. So tell me a little bit about how that process went and how you made it to your 80th application to get hired at that company versus, getting your first 10 no's and saying, no one's ever going to hire me as an apprentice because I didn't finish my exams at university.

[00:11:55] Bjorn: Honestly, you just have enough pressure in the background to keep you going from the job office. That is a huge help, actually, in that regard, because you just don't have the option of stopping. You get into trouble if you stop. But, besides that, I always got both positive and negative feedback from the application.

[00:12:14] Bjorn: So it was never just you don't fit and we don't have space for anyone. It was something along those lines. Yeah. Let's invite you maybe and see what you can do. So I did manage to get a step further in usually not everywhere, of course, because honestly, that would have been insane 80 interviews in about two months.

[00:12:35] Bjorn: But yeah. There was positive feedback along the lines of negative feedback. I did get a step further. 

[00:12:41] Bjorn: I did fail some interviews. I did fail some code tests. I did fail some non code tests that honestly reminded me of IQ tests that are not allowed, but it pretty much ended up with me having a couple of companies that were interested in me in the end, even though I stopped studying, which was a huge red flag for a couple others.

[00:13:05] Randall: Mm-Hmm, . 

[00:13:05] Bjorn: Because it did show that I couldn't finish what I started, from their point of view. 

[00:13:11] Randall: Yeah. 

[00:13:11] Bjorn: But yeah, I think it ended up with two offers in the end. One came one day after I sent the other one. So, yeah, might've been an SAP, consultant otherwise. 

[00:13:23] Randall: Nice. So 80 some applications go through that process and one of the driving forces there is that the job office.

[00:13:31] Randall: Like the government or state entity that, was helping you, was holding you accountable and giving some nudges along the way, right? 

[00:13:40] Bjorn: Yeah, exactly. They do reviews of your applications, for example, if necessary, they train you if necessary. So they help a lot in that regard. 

[00:13:48] Randall: I'm assuming that's, a free service. There's some sort of like, that's a government sponsored program. And maybe this is government sponsored apprenticeships to an extent. And they have a vested interest in your success. So they nudge you. 

[00:14:03] Bjorn: They have a vested interest in the success, but yeah. It's sponsored not by tax, but by a different kind of fee you need to spend from your income.

[00:14:13] Bjorn: So the whole social system is a secondary type of fee. 

[00:14:17] Randall: I understand. 

[00:14:18] Bjorn: and because of that, they have a vested interest in you succeeding. So they try to partner or help you to get to you to a point where you're getting to where you want to be, right? Exactly. And what were some of the nudges or some of the pushes that they would do?

[00:14:32] Randall: How would they make sure that you were staying on track with the applications, the interviews, and doing what you needed to do to land that apprenticeship. 

[00:14:40] Bjorn: Honestly, in my case, they were actually pretty happy about how much I already did it. Because I did start off with something like 30 applications before I even had my first appointments there.

[00:14:52] Bjorn: And they just have regular appointments after a while to check in, to see how it goes. They checked on the application materials or cover letter, which is very important in Germany. The CV, and anything else that I could provide at that point, I don't think there was anything else. 

[00:15:10] Randall: A level certificate, but I think that was about it.

[00:15:14] Randall: Looking back on the apprenticeship now, or even thinking of yourself, at the time during the apprenticeship how much value do you think that added to you at the time? And then how much value you think that added to you now? You've obviously leveraged that experience in some form or fashion to propel you through your career. How important was that to you then how much value did it add to you through the process of starting out as a young professional. 

[00:15:40] Bjorn: The main thing it added was structure and tasks that actually seem to make sense, which both really helped to motivate me. Obviously not every task that you do as an apprentice is great. But you usually get tasks you can learn from, usually get tasks that have an importance to the company.

[00:15:58] Bjorn: So it's not like an internship where you're programming something completely out of the blue that no one will ever use, which happens. But you actually do something productively. For example, I took care of a customer's websites since day, I think two until I left. It also do other things with flash at that time, for example.

[00:16:19] Bjorn: But yeah, the main focus in my case was customers websites JavaScript, CSS, PHP, really old PHP at that point. And yeah, just working in an environment where you could bring value to someone was really a huge game changer for me. 

[00:16:37] Randall: Yeah. Just taking a note. So finding value, you found value, right?

[00:16:42] Randall: You could say you found value and that you knew that you were doing something valuable, correct? Exactly. Yeah. Which I think ties back into maybe going to university and maybe depression if I'm not mistaken, so I think we can segue back to that if you're okay with it. So one of the things you said, like I picked up there might have been some frustration with the things that you were being asked to do in university.

[00:17:08] Randall: Might end up in high value activities to put it politely that didn't make it wasn't like a valuable exercise it was more of like a maybe a paper pushing activity or something like that and personally, if I don't understand why I need to do the thing, I don't want to do the thing.

[00:17:24] Randall: And if somebody can't articulate to me why I need to do the thing, I'm not going to do it, right? Like, I'm a logical person, I'm an analytical person. I'm a pretty good 30, 000 foot view thinker, and I can connect the puzzle pieces together. So just let me cook and I'll figure it out. But don't tell me to do some arbitrary tasks because it's the way it's always been done. If it doesn't make sense.

[00:17:44] Randall: I don't want to do it because it's a waste of my time. And if you're telling me to do something that is a waste of my time, you need to rethink the processes that you have in place so that we're all working effectively and efficiently together. But in organizations like employers, it doesn't always work that way.

[00:18:00] Randall: I've learned that the hard way many times. And certainly in universities, I think, at least in the States, I've seen that as well. I distinguish now between, maybe this will upset some folks, I distinguish now between the real world and academia. Like academia is not getting a job, working in a job, putting up with an employer, academia is its own world.

[00:18:23] Randall: And being successful in academia, either as a student or as a professor, administrator, et cetera, is not the same or close to operating in a corporation or any other industry, from my experience. 

[00:18:40] Randall: With that said, I'm going to step off my soapbox. But you know, you had said that again, feeling in the apprenticeship, doing valuable things made you feel valuable, right?

[00:18:52] Randall: And getting back to university. I'm guessing that you didn't feel that way. Do you think that that was something that maybe led to the part of the depression or, you know, tell us a little bit about your journey there. If you're okay with that. 

[00:19:05] Bjorn: Yeah, of course. So, by the guess of my psychologist, my depression is way older than the university.

[00:19:13] Bjorn: Depending on who you ask about the last couple of years, it's likely somewhere in childhood and might be in single digit childhood even. So it was not something new, but it just had a very bad face, so to speak, in university in that year. And I think it was a combination of things.

[00:19:33] Bjorn: I didn't manage well, and then I still don't do without structure. Structure in terms of appointments, in terms of things I have to do, gives me a way to deal with life. Making that structure myself has never been very effective for me because I'm the deciding factor that can well, decide something, not to do something.

[00:19:58] Bjorn: So having university where pretty much nothing was strictly required did be drop pretty much. And on top of that having tasks that didn't seem to provide any value, also not a value in learning didn't help either. Best case example, we had a database course and we had a program course.

[00:20:18] Bjorn: The programming course, we were meant to fill a database with data in short form. We were not allowed to use the database from the database because it was a different course. We had to write an own database that was writing to pure text file, CSV style, pretty much. That is something I still don't grasp, to be honest.

[00:20:39] Bjorn: Those professors had the rooms, I think, next to each other. The courses were related, and they didn't manage to import that single library, so we could use an actual database. 

[00:20:51] Randall: Yeah. Just a matter of do better people, right? This is easily solvable why wasn't it solved to make the lives of the students better?

[00:21:02] Randall: Right. 

[00:21:02] Bjorn: Yeah. And give them some things that is actually helpful later on. The main issue with students going into programming after the study is that they know all the parts, sometimes better than I do, but they fail at connecting parts.

[00:21:17] Bjorn: And so you can give them tiny tasks, like you would give an apprentice, that is just starting off because they fail to connect it to anything else. And you need to do the connection for the first couple of months. 

[00:21:29] Randall: That's a point for me because that's a great example of academia being different from how things actually happen in the real world.

[00:21:39] Randall: And if academia is supposed to set you up for success, let's make sure we're actually setting people up for success and connecting the dots for everybody so that they can go on to be successful professionals. 

[00:21:50] Randall: So doing valuable work is important to you. Having a structure, is important to you specifically like having the framework or scaffolding, if you will, of an organization or appointments that you have to do where you don't have to create that structure or have that scaffolding in place for yourself, correct?

[00:22:09] Bjorn: Yeah, it's way easier if it's not created by myself. Yeah. It is a value differently from the emotional standpoint, but that may be more related to one of the personality disorder parts that I got diagnosed with, to be honest, than with the depression itself. 

[00:22:25] Randall: So there's been a couple of different times where like you seem like you're pretty motivated individual and you seem like you're a genuinely curious person to work on things and figure things out.

[00:22:35] Randall: And I think when you maybe said that you were starting your apprenticeship, you had the apprenticeship and you were doing the work there, but then you were also doing these other things that were adjacent to it to develop your own skillset. What were some of those things that you're working on?

[00:22:51] Randall: Why were you working on them? And what about those things interested you to invest time into those activities? 

[00:22:59] Bjorn: Yeah, I think the first and still actually running thing I built was rules. iverens. de, which is a website for Warhammer Online, which has calculators on it for that game, it has add ons on it by now.

[00:23:14] Bjorn: The main point of building that originally, which was a simple calculator at that point was, it was just not available anywhere. We had some knowledge, we knew the formulas, but we didn't have a good way of providing that to any end user. So I cooperated with someone the name escapes me right now.

[00:23:33] Bjorn: Yeah, or something along those lines was a nickname, was really good at the formulas and created a simple page with the knowledge I already had about JavaScript and HTML at that time and some CSS. And that thing grew very heavy over the years. 

[00:23:50] Randall: What was that for again? 

[00:23:52] Bjorn: For Warhammer Online, that's an MMO.

[00:23:54] Randall: Realm vs. Realm type MMO. So you have a lot of player vs. player action in there. It is not running anymore officially.So it was a, game and that game required some sort of simple calculator where people knew that, but there wasn't a single source to get that. So you created the website with you and a collaborator. 

[00:24:16] Bjorn: Exactly. So the collaborator did not do any website work. It shows just him providing the formulas and testing the result. But yeah, it was the first project I actually did on my own. Horrible coach, to be honest still horrible coach at this point, even if I cleaned it up a lot since then.

[00:24:36] Bjorn: But yeah, just trying out and learning from it. 

[00:24:39] Randall: Which is an excellent point. You have to start somewhere, right? AndI feel like a lot of people, I mean, myself included, or my younger self included I've had to teach myself or learn my way out of, making sure things are perfect or making sure things are optimized until I put it out into the world or until I like speak up in a meeting or something.

[00:24:59] Randall: Right. I've learned, though, that you gotta say the thing in the meeting. You have to put out, the work before it's perfect, because things can always get better. And the only way to improve, is by doing the thing. If you've listened to the first episode of the podcast, it wasn't perfect, but it was, good enough. 

[00:25:17] Randall: And before I hit publish. I did have a conversation with the first guest whose name is Nate and for a brief moment. I was like, yeah, Should we re record this? And the answer was like immediately no. Like, it's good enough to be put out. And, since that time, this is going to be episode six. I've had, five additional interviews.

[00:25:38] Randall: I've structured the interviews in a different way. I've gotten better at asking questions, I've hopefully gotten better at removing ohs, ums, and likes from my speech. And I also hope I'd gotten better at saying, in the first episode. I said, you know a lot, right? So my hope for me. Is that when I look back on what I'm doing and my body of work through the podcast is that I'm able to show myself and anybody else listening to it is that I've gotten better over a period of time and I didn't wait for that first episode to be perfect because if I waited any longer I would still be fine tuning it.

[00:26:16] Randall: I would have recorded the audio again and then that wouldn't have been good enough. Right. And that would have precluded me from having a conversation with you here today, because I would still be over engineering episode one. So I say all that, I guess, as a foundation for this question of. Did perfectionism or optimization ever creep into your mind of putting out that website or, did you know at the time that the code was not as good as it could be, or did you just know you were doing your best and that in order to get better, you had to put it out into the world?

[00:26:51] Bjorn: I don't think it's either actually I did put it out so someone else could test it and that person said, Hey, that's great. Let's share it. 

[00:26:59] Randall: Yeah. 

[00:27:00] Bjorn: At a point where I thought, okay, I need to do a lot of things to make it perfect. And yeah, it really was for me a v ery important point in my life, showing me that you don't need perfect things, even if I am very much trying to be perfect in anything I do.

[00:27:18] Bjorn: But yeah, I'm fighting that back. It is for me a daily fight for everything I do. But yeah, in that case, someone else did the decision, so to speak, just shared the link and I was not willing to remove the page after it got used. So there's a reason, by the way, is that I have that page on GitHub as well, so that I can point people at, look at that history, look at where I started.

[00:27:43] Bjorn: Look at what was built with that and how useful that still is. 

[00:27:49] Randall: I have the same hope for the podcast. I hope that someday, maybe by the end of this year, I really refine what I'm doing on the podcast. And I have some sort of viewership and that I can use it as an example to myself to reinforce the idea that things don't need to be perfect.

[00:28:10] Randall: They just need to get done. And that for others that I come across, that they can look at me as an example of Randall's first episode was shit. But look at where he's at now on episode 44. I think that there's a valuable lesson there. And I see it, too often where, you know, people need to have something perfect, or they really try to. I was working with a client who I was coaching and, they were working on putting out, well, first off, I thought this individual was a fantastic writer and you could see it in the emails that she would write, it was something that had stuck out to me.

[00:28:47] Randall: And one of the things that she wanted to accomplish was to, publish some blog posts. So, she had written the blog post, but then she had this, sense of, like, perfectionism that was creeping in. And I'm like, I know I read that first one. If you call it a draft, you call it a draft.

[00:29:04] Randall: But, I thought it was dang good. I would just hit submit on it. And kudos to her, because she finally did it. And it wasn't, maybe I'm making this sound a little bit dramatic. She eventually published the blog post. It might have been a couple weeks, but, she did it, and what I'm hopeful for her is the same thing I'm hopeful for me and hopeful for you is that we continue to exercise those muscles of it's good, publish the thing, say the thing in the meeting, publish the blog.

[00:29:30] AI: Because it's better to publish it and to move on and learn from those experiences than to just like hold the stuff inside, right? Let's take a quick break from today's episode. If you're enjoying the conversation, please take a moment to look us up. You can find Randall on Instagram at Randall O'Shea, that's spelled at R A N D A L L O S C H E.

[00:29:56] AI: And you can catch the show notes and other resources at and now back to the episode. 

[00:30:03] Randall: So, you have a full time job, I imagine, but you're also a business owner, correct? 

[00:30:08] Bjorn: Yes. 

[00:30:09] Randall: So tell me a little bit about the business venture.

[00:30:12] Randall: I guess my first question there is, what made you decide to, you know, start your own company or to go into business for yourself? 

[00:30:20] Bjorn: That is actually boredom. At the work I was at, at that time, I was dealing with legacy code. So old code, very unstructured code, and it was just taking ages to get anywhere.

[00:30:34] Bjorn: And that bored me a lot. So I ended up founding a small business. So it's a small business, not a big one. And thought, well, I can use that to both help people and to learn more because there will likely be clients that need something I haven't done before. And so far I haven't been disappointed.

[00:30:54] Bjorn: I've done a lot of things I have done before, but I've also done new things and experienced new stuff that way. 

[00:31:00] Randall: I love it. 

[00:31:01] Bjorn: Right now I'm moving servers, for example, move to database service with about a second downtime total which I haven't done before. And the second downtime was a typo by me, by the way.

[00:31:12] Bjorn: So that that shouldn't have happened, but for next time, I know it's possible. I can do that. I just need to make sure that the typo doesn't happen again. And yeah, it is a learning experience, so to speak. It is not about making monies in the forefront of the whole thing, even if that is always nice to get a bit more.

[00:31:33] Bjorn: But the main point for me is a learning experience there. 

[00:31:37] Randall: Yeah, continue to step outside your comfort zone and stretch your own boundaries, right? 

[00:31:42] Bjorn: Yeah, exactly. I mean, it's a lot around my comfort zone, obviously, because it makes it easier to access those zones and to make the step into that. And from my experience, once you did that step, the next step further outside your original comfort zone also gets easier.

[00:31:59] Bjorn: So it is about growing in small steps instead of doing a large jump, which will take a lot of effort in comparison. 

[00:32:07] Randall: I agree with you. I always think of this image in my head, this diagram of you know, Maybe I'll put it up. I'll put my editing into the podcast.

[00:32:15] Randall: That's what I'm going to do. So I am going to describe it. It's either going to be on this side or this side. I have an editor and I know that she can do that. So this is where it's going to go. But there's a graphic. I always think of in my head when I think about comfort zones and it's a big circle if I'm remembering correctly.

[00:32:29] Randall: So, I always think of this graphic about comfort zones, and there's a little circle. That's at the bottom, say, of the page, to the bottom left, and it's labeled your comfort zone.

[00:32:41] Randall: And then there's a big circle off to the right, and that's labeled where the magic happens. And the point that the graphic illustrates is that in order to get to where the magic happens, you got to step outside of where you're at. And I saw that I can remember the exact year. I remember the exact location where I saw that. I was working for a financial institution at the time I was on business trip to West Palm beach.

[00:33:07] Randall: I was borrowing somebody's office for the day and they had that piece of paper hanging up on their wall. And I was like, hot damn. Like, that makes a lot of sense to me. So I snapped a picture of it with my phone, maybe even my Blackberry at the time. And it's stuck with me ever since. And I always think about that.

[00:33:22] Randall: And I think when it comes to different people have different tolerances for stepping outside of their comfort zone. But I think it's important that we're always cognizant of it and that we, whether you're a person that can make large leaps, that you're making large leaps, but if you're a person that needs to incrementally step outside of their comfort zone that you're incrementally doing it because I really do think that that is where the magic happens. And there's so much to experience in life. There's so many people to meet. There's so many places to visit. If we limit ourselves because we're a little bit uncomfortable doing things, I don't think that we're going to live the richest and most fullest life that, is possible.

[00:34:00] Randall: And I thinkit's really limiting for certain people. So, I hope that helps. Before we move on from the business thing, so what kind of services do you offer people? Who maybe is your ideal customer? If there's anybody out there listening to this?

[00:34:12] Bjorn: I do a hosting for small businesses and private individuals for smaller stuff with full service. which is, added by services that are related to it and way cheaper than you would get some otherwise. So you can upgrade to, for example, have performance information or tracking with, which is privacy wise fine for the EU because it is not shared across the ocean, for example.

[00:34:40] Bjorn: And besides that, I do a lot of consulting code reviews, performance, analysis, and stuff along those things. So, that is still for medium sized business mostly, but could be interesting for any size of business that has a code base of their own and needs some external input. I try to make the prices reasonable as well.

[00:35:01] Randall: Excellent. Where can people find you for your services? We'll put it in the show notes, but since we're having the conversation, where can people find you if they're interested in partnering? 

[00:35:10] Bjorn: Yeah, you can find me at with O E and U E. Because that is the official litanization. 

[00:35:19] Randall: Alright, thank you.

[00:35:20] Randall: And you had mentioned at the beginning of our conversation there's a few things that you're interested in. Metal, music, right? And reading. I want to talk about reading. What's the most influential book you've ever read? 

[00:35:34] Bjorn: I actually looked up the name before the show to make sure I could answer this question because I expected it.

[00:35:41] Bjorn: It's The Shame That Binds You. It's a psychological book about how negative behavior from a previous generation is pretty much repeated by the next generation and leads to results even further generations down that are, pretty much not logical anymore because the original issue is gone, but have been introduced by an original issue.

[00:36:05] Bjorn: So, for example, a family with a drinker. That beats up her husband, for example, would have issues three or four generations down that still relate to that, if you're unlucky, and still have, for example, something to do with making sure to not anger, in that case, a wife or husband. Because that might lead to a beating.

[00:36:25] Randall: How did reading the book change your behavior or if at all change your behavior? 

[00:36:30] Bjorn: I don't think it changed my behavior by a lot, but it changed my understanding of a couple of families I am interacting with a lot, including my own, and it helps me a bit, understanding some of the things my parents are doing, for example, we were not talking about big issues always, but It also applies to smaller issues that are related.

[00:36:53] Bjorn: For example, my drive, my extreme drive to get perfect results and perfect marks for something seems to be shared by my father and seems to have been introduced by my father's father, who presented him as great whenever he had a great result somewhere. Seems to be just as an example. 

[00:37:14] Randall: Yeah, I think, positively or negatively, right?

[00:37:17] Randall: Like, there's a way things transpire influences how other things will transpire. Right. And when it comes to like generational stuff, I follow what you're saying. I've never read the book, but I think it's going to be on my list to read. I would say I'm not a perfectionist.

[00:37:35] Randall: I think I would refine that word and say I'm an optimizer, like in an optimization, I want to make things effective and efficient and streamlined. And maybe that's also perfectionism. But some things I've learned don't need to be optimized. Like some things are allowed to be ineffective and inefficient, right?

[00:37:52] Randall: I don't have enough capacity in my day to make sure everything's optimized. That's insanity. I've learned that, my father's a bit of a perfectionist. He does things well, and he does things right the first time. And, probably that's where my optimization probably comes from.

[00:38:10] Randall: So I'd be curious to understand maybe from his perspective, this is a question for my dad, I suppose, where he thinks he got his perfectionism from, right? Like that's the theme of the book, right? 

[00:38:20] Bjorn: Yeah, pretty much. It's more about the negative parts that are handed down because yours doesn't sound too negative.

[00:38:27] Bjorn: But yeah,it also fits to that. So pretty much about systems that repeat each other. Yeah. Just in a sometimes less, strong way, sometimes in a stronger way on the situation that's change. 

[00:38:40] Randall: What is, some like, rapid fire questions here, cause I wanna make sure we talk about some things that really light you up.

[00:38:48] Randall: If you had one piece of advice to give to your younger self, what would that piece of advice be? And it could be your younger self, yesterday. You get to make that decision. What would be the number one piece of advice you would give to a younger version of you? 

[00:39:02] Bjorn: Be a mercenary when you work.

[00:39:04] Randall: I like that. So, tell me more. I need to know more. 

[00:39:07] Bjorn: Yeah, of course. The first job after I finished my apprenticeship was fun, was nice, was a nice team. And we had a big project that failed, not in terms of not launching, but in terms of just costing insane amounts of extra money relatively to what was planned for it.

[00:39:25] Bjorn: That led to a couple of people being let go, including me. Because of financial reasons. And at that point, I was pretty sure that there was no kind of a loyalty because yes, the company did have finances in the backhand in that if necessary. So it was just a small company of a bigger company so they wouldn't go bankrupt by just paying a salary for a bit more.

[00:39:51] Bjorn: But yeah, just being let go like that, what just made me realize that there is little loyalty from a company to the employees in that regard. And there was a couple more things about how they let me go. But, I don't think that is of any help. 

[00:40:08] Randall: I think you're spot on. I feel the same type of way.

[00:40:11] Randall: I just would not have put it in those words. And also thank you for giving me the title of this episode. I think that's going to be the title. So thank you. 

[00:40:20] Randall: One of the things I do tell the people that I come across either at mentoring or in a formal capacity, like coaching, I suppose, is, I mean, maybe not to be a mercenary, but there is no loyalty.

[00:40:31] Randall: The organizations want loyalty from you, but they're not willing to offer you loyalty. So that's not a game that I'm going to engage in. Right. And I think that's your mercenary approach. And I think that that's valid until the dynamic changes. I don't think employees should change how they think about it is.

[00:40:48] Randall: I started looking at myself as a business entity that has skills and traits and abilities and you know, to Randall Osche Incorporated. If you want to hire me, if you want to pay me for those skills, I'm willing to loan those to you for a period of time at a price. Right. But we're not in this together unless you're giving me equity or you know, there's some greater outcome that we're working on together.

[00:41:12] Randall: But in a strictly employee employer model, if I'm the employee, I'm approaching it that I can go work for anybody whenever I want. And I would recommend everybody looks at it the same way. And that's not cynical. That's objective and how things actually operate.

[00:41:31] Bjorn: Actually, a very strange generation break here because let's say 20 years ago, actually the companies here had some loyalties to the employees still, but then, laws changed and suddenly the expectation seems to have changed.

[00:41:47] Bjorn: And yeah, it broke down in a way. There's still some that do have that as far as I can tell but it's the exceptions rule. 

[00:41:55] Randall: Yeah, Europe has different employee laws than the United States, but as far back as I can remember, at least in the United States, there's no loyalty for like organizations and in countries where they're it may be as high loyalty is because they're employment laws, prohibit sometimes of the poor behavior of employers just to let employees go whenever they want. Right. 

[00:42:18] Randall: So in the United States, we don't have very strong employee mint laws around and protecting employees. So employers can just fire you for whatever, whenever they want. That's been that way as long as I can remember, in my career and, you know, probably, maybe it has more to do with capitalistic society, but that's another episode at another time.

[00:42:38] Bjorn: I also have something to do with your weak unions, to be honest, because that's a huge difference. 

[00:42:44] Randall: Yeah. 

[00:42:45] Bjorn: Because then you have a talking partner at, high height for the employers, which has changed a lot in Germany over the last century or so. 

[00:42:55] Randall: I know unions exist in the United States, but I would be curious to find out what percent of the working population belongs to a union.

[00:43:03] Randall: I bet you it's small. What did you want to cover today that we didn't cover? Anything that's tickling your brain that you want to make sure you get off your chest today?

[00:43:11] Bjorn: Actually, one is just going back to the mental illnesses I mentioned and just encouraging people to be more open about them because there is so many people with diagnosed depression, for example, it is not something that you need to hide. And honestly, it makes working with you way easier if you know what you're working with.

[00:43:36] Bjorn: Than if I just don't know why you suddenly don't manage to get out of bed in the morning, for example which can be a sign of depression. 

[00:43:45] Randall: Yeah. I would agree with you, of course. If you're the individuals, who's depressed, I hope that somebody in your life gives you the space and time to have a conversation where you feel comfortable talking about what you're experiencing.

[00:43:58] Randall: And I hope that you also feel comfortable sharing what you're going through with an employer, for instance, if you have to call in sick for a week because you're struggling to get out of bed. But from the person who's receiving that information, I hope that those individuals, can really empathetically understand that the way they go through life isn't the way everybody else goes through life.

[00:44:22] Randall: And I think perspective matters and being able to meet people where they're at is very important and being able to, empathize. With them and understanding that it might not be difficult for you to get out of bed, but it's difficult for some people to get out of bed. And that's a real thing.

[00:44:39] Randall: So I would encourage everybody, I suppose. Feel comfortable sharing or find somebody to feel comfortable sharing because we want to know, right? Like if one of my friends or relatives is going through something. Feel free to use me as a sounding board and, you know, for the people that are out there that are the sounding boards, volunteer to be the sounding board, right?

[00:45:02] Randall: And understand that, the way you see things, isn't the way everybody else see things and the things that come hard and easy to you, aren't the things that come hard and easy to everybody else. So understand that I think is an important point. And you said there was two points you want to share.

[00:45:17] Randall: I think that that was the first one. What was the second one? 

[00:45:19] Bjorn: A tip for any new software engineers that I personally started using too late, in my opinion, use open source to learn. It is one of the best and most welcoming places you can go to learn new skills and improve your existing ones. 

[00:45:37] Randall: What does that mean?

[00:45:38] Randall: As like a non technical person, what does that mean? 

[00:45:41] Bjorn: So open source pretty much means you have the source code, the code that actually executes the program in the end, available. Open source but also means that you can have a community around that and people can contribute to that code, improve it themselves or do small tasks to improve it that someone else already found this.

[00:46:01] Bjorn: A possibility, and usually that is combined with relatively good quality tools or checks. So you learn from it. So you actually improve the quality of your coding a lot. 

[00:46:15] Bjorn: Regarding welcoming it's online. No one cares about sex, gender, race, or anything like that, or even political opinion. You will not be asked any of those things in 99 percent of the cases, and you will never have to disclose those things either.

[00:46:32] Bjorn: So it's more open than that. I don't think it can be. 

[00:46:35] Randall: So to sum this up, right, the way I'm making sense of what you said in my head is open code gets people when they learn it gets them further faster because it's better, it's known and there's a community around it. 

[00:46:51] Randall: So people can collaborate on it. And as you collaborate, it improves the code and you learn from this community of people that are leveraging open code to go further, faster. 

[00:47:02] Bjorn: Exactly. And a lot of the software engineer is built on those open source tools and libraries and so on. 

[00:47:09] Randall: Excellent. One last question, I think, and you can answer this however you would like, but what does success look like for you?

[00:47:19] Bjorn: I've tried to figure that one out for years. So, I'm really good at talking something into a bad way, so I have a really hard time to define success. One of the reasons I never managed to have a diary of positive things, which is a tool against depression, to help against depression, but always only managed to have a diary of non negative things.

[00:47:41] Bjorn: So I really don't have a good answer for that. 

[00:47:44] Randall: If you think about your business, what would be your ideal vision for your business in say 24 months to three years? 

[00:47:51] Bjorn: 24 months to three years, it should certainly be profitable at that point because that's a base requirement at some point.

[00:47:59] Bjorn: And yeah, I do hope to be able to contribute way better to other people's code quality, especially, and to other people's learning at that point. 

[00:48:10] Randall: Putting yourself in the shoes of yourself in a couple of years from now, profitable company, you're achieving what you want to achieve.

[00:48:17] Randall: Do you think that would be successful? Do you think you'd be able to look at that as successful at that point in time? 

[00:48:23] Bjorn: I honestly don't know if I'll manage to do that. It's a thing I've struggled with for as long as I can remember. 

[00:48:30] Randall: Yeah. Fair enough. Fair enough. What would you say the most pivotal moment in like your life or career was? 

[00:48:38] Bjorn: In my life, most likely, the day my ex wife decided to get divorced from me out of the blue. Yes, I was married before, but that really changed a lot about my life and my way of evaluating risks in terms of relationships with people.

[00:48:55] Randall: I'm intrigued. Tell me about the sum of your thought process of round, how that made you reevaluate risk. 

[00:49:05] Bjorn: Yeah. It was, the way I was raised, it was just expected to be married. So it was just a standard. It was just the way it had to be. Not very Christian, but just an expectation.

[00:49:17] Bjorn: The same way you were expected to have kids at some point. Very classic. And then I was lucky enough to meet a girl when I was 16, she was 15 at that point, so long time ago in Britain on a language course. And we stayed in contact with some interruptions over the years and at some point we actually managed to meet again.

[00:49:40] Bjorn: Yeah, and a relationship very soon after because we just liked each other a lot. Yeah, it seemed to go great for the most part, some fights obviously like everyone has, but nothing big, nothing too big at least. Then she had a trip home, and after returning she suddenly decided, I want to get divorced.

[00:50:00] Bjorn: Still not sure why, I've never really found an answer that made sense to me. 

[00:50:05] Randall: And that's something I struggle with too, sometimes like, we want those answers, but I don't think there's a lot of value in spending a ton of time trying to figure it out, because, as much as we want things to make sense, humans are not robots, and we do emotional and irrational things sometimes, and such is life.

[00:50:25] Randall: Did that experience help you, understand like, like that, you know, open you up to taking chances in life or open you up to pushing yourself in either romantic or otherwise relationships, like getting back to that comfort zone thing, like push you to do things that were more uncomfortable or because you said it changed your association with risk.

[00:50:49] Randall: So I guess how did it change your association with the risk? 

[00:50:52] Bjorn: Since it was so unexpected, we talked about a month earlier, we talked about having kids just for the record. And yeah, it just made me question the loyalty of people to each other as well. And the reliability of people. So it really increased my paranoia in that regard.

[00:51:13] Bjorn: It got even harder to befriend me afterwards, as far as I can tell. And I've yet to completely recover from that. And we divorced in 2016, I believe. I honestly, from what the psychologists say, I most likely won't recover from that. Because it just increased something that was already there and was already pretty strong.

[00:51:35] Randall: I'm not a psychologist at all. But I, It's been my personal experience from myself, my relationships and observing, having conversations like this with you that I think that that's, you know, something that we carry with us through the rest of our lives. I hope that for you and for me and for anybody that's dealing with, you know a breakup like that or divorce.

[00:52:00] Randall: That you learn, I suppose, to live with it in like a positive way, right? That we understand that, people are emotional beings and not everything needs to make sense and this is likely You know, it's not going to be a magic spell where like, Oh, I'm just going to forget how I used to feel about this person or forget how my life was with them.

[00:52:21] Randall: But remember the good as much as you remember, the bad times and, let that maybe You know, be a moment where we learn and take stock of the, the person that we want to be and the people that we want to be around. And I think those can be valuable lessons to learn from.

[00:52:40] Randall: And I appreciate you being vulnerable and opening up about that. The way these podcasts are structured, it really is just sort of a deep dive and, uncovering what's important to the guest. And again, like talking about your, your journey and your journey is different than my journey and getting back to where we started.

[00:52:59] Randall: Hopefully the things that we talked about today can, influence others who might be, going through the same either business or professional challenges that either of us are. 

[00:53:08] Randall: But any final thoughts, concerns, or considerations before we wrap up today, Björn? 

[00:53:13] Bjorn: Yeah, a big thank you for having me.

[00:53:15] Bjorn: I really enjoyed our talk and I also hope that it helps someone because even negative things can be turned into a source of energy for work. For example, I use that divorce to excel at work. I poured all the energy and anger about being just left out of the blue into work. And it was some of the most productive time I ever had, to be honest.

[00:53:41] Randall: It can be used as fuel, right? We can't control what's the, what's the like quote, something to the effect of, 

[00:53:47] Bjorn: Can't control the first reaction, but you can control the second reaction. 

[00:53:51] Randall: Yeah. I say this thing to myself, it's similar all the time, like focus on what you can control and let go of the things that you can't control.

[00:53:59] Randall: And we can spend a lot of time, complaining, bitching about the things that are outside of our control or our influence, but we can take that energy and reallocate it to something that we can control. And, maybe that's excelling at work. Maybe that's working on picking back up your fitness routine or whatever.

[00:54:19] Randall: But using it as fuel can be the positive that comes out of some poor situations sometimes. 

[00:54:24] Randall: But Björn Büttner, thank you for your time today. I also really enjoyed the conversation. You know, shout out the ADP list for, getting two people to have a genuine conversation across the world. So Björn, thank you for your time.

[00:54:40] Randall: It was a great conversation. 

[00:54:41] Bjorn: Thank you as well. And I hope we'll have another one at some point. Even if it's in a very different environment. 

[00:54:47] Randall: Excellent, me too. 

[00:54:48] AI: And that's it for today's conversation here on the Randall O'Shea podcast. Thank you so much for joining us.

[00:54:55] AI: And we hope that you've enjoyed listening as much as we've enjoyed recording it. Many, many thanks to our guests today for sharing their knowledge, their experience, and their life lessons. If you found today's conversation. Insightful, interesting, inspiring. Please join our growing community by subscribing to the Randall O'Shea podcast on your favorite podcast platform and never, ever miss another episode.

[00:55:20] AI: We'd love to hear your feedback. So keep the community alive by sharing your takeaways from today's episode and use the hashtag Randall O'Shea podcast. Your feedback and interaction fuels our continued efforts to build a safe space for meaningful, long form conversations. So thank you so much for the support until next time.

[00:55:42] AI: Stay curious, stay inspired and keep the conversation going.


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