Interview of Zach Holman


by Cédric, on April 12th 2013


Zach is a Githubber and will come to MiXiT for a talk named 'The product is the byproduct'. Interview!


Hi Zach, could you talk a little bit about yourself?

Hi! I’m Zach.

I’m a Rubyist who has worked at GitHub the last three years. I live in San Francisco, but do enjoy flyin’ around the world, talking about startups and code and work and silly things like that.


**What do you find the most amazing about Github?**

I think my favorite part about GitHub is how people work there. Even though we’ve grown a bunch, it still feels like I can sit down and push code this afternoon to millions of people without a lot of crazy overhead to do it.


**How did you end up there?**

Chris, one of the founders, tweeted if anyone knew Ruby — I did — and if anyone knew Java — I sort of did. I got an interview, I got hired, and they’ve been regretting it ever since.


**Could you describe your typical day? Do you work all the day?**

It really depends on the day. The last few weeks I’ve been doing a lot of travel, so it’s a lot of meeting people, giving talks, things like that.

When I’m back home in San Francisco, it’s much more chill. I get to hack on code and worry less about talking to people, which can be pretty relaxing sometimes!


**What is your secret of awesomeness?**

Man, I don’t know. I just do things that I like and hopefully other people like it too. If not, that happens sometimes... just move on to something else.


**Which new tools/methods did you discover recently and that has inspired you?**

I think things that have inspired me recently are mostly workflow-based rather than technical. I feel like I’ve been better identifying things that work for me and things that don’t work for me. In other words, figuring out best uses of my time and realizing that some things I just don’t have time to do like I used to.

No secret formulas work for everyone, unfortunately! It’s one of those things you have to work out for yourself.


**What will people learn in your talk?**

I always hope to make people re-evaluate things that don’t typically get a lot of mindshare. How do you work on a day-to-day basis: do you just do something because that’s how you’ve already done it, or because that’s how someone else has already done it, or because it really works for you? Same thing for values: take a step back and explore what’s really important for you as a developer, and if there are things you can improve.

It’s not always about big O notation for bitwise operators. Sometimes you get more bang for your buck by stepping back and analyzing the big picture.


**Bonus question: why an "octocat"?**

It was stock art! Tom, one of GitHub’s founders, was looking for something to put on our error pages, and the octocat jumped out at him. After awhile it sort of became our “mascot”. We love the little cuddly creature.