Built in Austing Mindfulness makes effective teams

Built in Austin visited Headspring HQ to get an inside view of how our culture manifests in everything we do. CEO Dustin Wells spoke about growing the company while maintaining a commitment to people. The interview also includes members of the Client Services team who talk about how Headspring’s values have shaped our distinct approach to client work and how they’ve grown personally and professionally on the job. You’ll also get to hear about their secret outside-of-work talents!

Check out the excerpt below from our Principal Consultant, Patrick Lioi, who describes his mindful method for training junior developers. You can read the full article (and see some fun behind-the-scenes photos) on Built in Austin’s website.

Patrick Lioi, Principal Consultant and Primary Instructor for CareerStart

Headspring Principal Consultant Patrick Loi

Patrick Lioi works with clients to solve their technical challenges. He is accountable for the technology choices, quality of his teammates’ work and the success of the project. He also leads the CareerStart training program for junior developers and mentors teammates.

BEYOND WORK: Patrick runs an open-source software project called Fixie, which allows him to experiment and hone his skills outside of the office.

Describe Headspring’s approach to training new employees.

Last fall, I created a 10-part series of training sessions on mindful development, which covers how to be an effective software developer through being present, aware and deliberate in work. We apply this mindset to everything we do, from working on our teams to working with unfamiliar technology and implementing small design changes.

The capstone lesson, “Winning with speed,” contrasts a typical problematic software shop with the ideal we strive for: a team that is highly-effective as a result of mindful development. What makes us better at software development also makes us faster. Speed isn’t the cause — it’s the effect.

How has Headspring helped you develop in your career?

We have agency in our own growth and support from our teammates to achieve that growth. For me, that took the form of writing technical articles for the Headspring blog.

From there, I became a member of the “Los Techies” blogging community, which led to the creation of an open-source project that gave me a lot to talk about in our Friday lunch-hour presentations. Those experiences sparked a passion for mentorship that I never knew I had. I’m a different developer and leader today than I ever could have imagined seven years ago because Headspring pushed me outside my comfort zone and encouraged my growth.

You designed a six-week new-hire training program. What does the training entail?

The software development workforce skews heavily toward the inexperienced, which poses a challenge for us. I can’t in good faith hire a person straight out of school and throw them into the deep end on a client project. An unprepared junior developer will not operate effectively and make mistakes. However, we’ve found that with deliberate mentorship early on, they can do the job effectively.

The training guides our junior developers to become mindful in their work. We drill on the good habits of great developers and dig heavily into the “why” behind our decisions so they can approach new challenges effectively. At the end of the course, they will have built a representative application in the Headspring style. They’re ready to join a project with their more experienced peers.

What is one tip you received when you came to Headspring that helped you succeed?

Show up, take your work seriously for a normal-length work day and then go home. I don’t care if a company talks about the importance of a work-life balance. I only care about that balance being real.

At my previous job, we worked long hours and watched the team shrink as each person got burnt out and left. When you emphasize rushing and overwork instead of successful delivery, it causes you to make mistakes. It’s bad for you, the company and the client.


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