You might remember Mike Muscato from JiveWorld14. He's a Sr. Developer for Knowledge Management Systems & Social Media Support at T-Mobile and had his photo featured on Vote on the best attendee photo of JiveWorld14! Since the How I Work interviews were a little scarce on developers, I figured we'd give Mike the spotlight! There's some developer specific questions in the mix below (look for the *).
Mike at his desk... where the magic happens!
Libby: Where do you work?
Mike Muscato: I work for the Uncarrier, T-Mobile USA, a national provider of wireless voice, messaging, and data services and CNN’s top tech company of 2014 (US). I live in the high-desert near Albuquerque, NM but work for our headquarters in Bellevue, WA. We have an office in Albuquerque where I spend about 60-70% of my time, the rest of the time I work from my home in the mountains about 30 miles outside of ABQ.
LT: How would you describe your current job?
Mike: By title I’m a Senior Web Developer, but in reality I’m a jack-of-all-trades of sorts. I started working for T-Mobile when the company was still young as a first-tier customer service agent. As I grew with the company, I got to participate in many facets of the enterprise including customer service, training, IT, business strategy, and analysis. Our team manages our Jive communities including large customization efforts, and we also run an independent development shop where we create custom applications, APIs, and middleware to make magic happen. Right now, in addition to all the standard project management, code geekery, and system administration, I’m working on a project to implement some more formal software development practices and standards within our team.
LT: Are you familiar with the Jive WorkTypes? If so, what was your WorkType?
Mike: I am an Energizer. The description fits me well; when projects get tough or people get discouraged I tend to take on a project manager-like role and help break things down and establish realistic timelines to make sure the work gets done. The statement, "You are the go-to-person for getting things D-O-N-E,” is 100% on point! I’m a very analytical person, and can almost always come up with solutions even when others have said it’s “impossible."
LT: How do you think your WorkType plays into how you get work done in Jive?
Mike: Over and over again, I’ve used Jive as my project management headquarters! Depending on the nature of the project, I’ll use Jive groups to brainstorm and capture requirements, publish wireframes or spec documents, gain approvals, and even map timelines and milestones. Having all the content in one intuitive location has always been beneficial for me and my project stakeholders.
LT: Did your team have a chance to take the WorkType Finder quiz? Have you all talked about your results?
Mike: We did, right before JiveWorld14. We all agreed that the WorkTypes matched our styles closely and were similar to other “personality” type assessments such as DiSC profiles.
LT: What was your favorite part of attending JiveWorld this year?
Mike: The developer’s keynote was the best for me, it seems like every year’s keynote has one or two little things that turn out to be profound ah-ha moments. The Git presentation along with some of the other developer sessions really reinforced the desire and need for me and my team to clean up our web development processes.
LT: So how do you use Jive at work (internal community, external community, etc.)?
Mike: We have several Jive communities that we use for pretty much the full spectrum of functions. We have an internal community primarily used as a knowledge base and discussion forum for our customer service teams, but business groups also use the internal community for collaboration, projects, and other ad-hoc communication needs. We also have a customer facing support community (support.t-mobile.com) where customers can find information and documentation, or have peer-to-peer discussions. In addition to these two communities, we also have several other read-only communities that support our sales, retail, and partner brands (e.g. support.gosmartmobile.com). Whether we’re using Jive as full blown collaborative communication platforms, or as read-only knowledge bases, we’ve always found tons of value in Jive’s ability to customize, tweak, and hack them to fit our mold. I like Jive because it doesn’t make me rage within 10 seconds like some other systems I use.
Welcome to T-Mobile Support, one of the sites Mike mentions above.
LT: What's your computer situation... Do you use a Mac or PC (or something else)?
Mike: I’m an iHole, through and through. I use a Mac Book Pro with an external monitor, and with the new features in OSX Yosemite my iPad Air 2 and iPhone have become third and fourth monitors in a way. I also have a PC that I typically use via remote desktop, but only for legacy company tools that require IE, or for testing IE compatibility of my code.
LT: Tell us what you use for your mobile device?
Mike: Which one? Hahah! For an all-around, do anything anywhere, rock solid dependable device I’ll have to say my iPhone 6. Once upon a time, I was a total Android geek – custom ROMs, hackery, etc… But the stability of the iPhone and its integration ability with the mac won me over. It may not do everything that 'those other phones' do; but what it does, it does really REALLY well. I think consistency is the key here.
LT: What’s your favorite programming language?*
LT: Do you have a favorite editing tool?*
Mike: Komodo Edit. It handles syntax highlighting and predictive text pretty well, and I like the easily customizable color themes.
LT: Who’s your developer hero?*
Mike: A good old friend of mine from high school and college, Jared. When I was struggling in my C++ class, he took the time to break down the more complicated topics into layman’s terms for me, and even gave me code samples that I was able to adapt to finish my projects successfully.
LT: Pick one word that best describes how you work.
LT: Besides Jive, what apps/software/tools can't you live without?
Mike: Coffee, that’s a tool, right? It seems to ‘light up’ the parts of my brain that solve puzzles. After that, a good SQL database manager; without it we couldn’t make the custom magic happen. Lastly, Photoshop for everything from mockups, to custom artwork, to t-shirt designs.
LT: Do you have a favorite non-computer gadget?
Mike: My rock climbing cams. Small machines that keep me safe hundreds (or thousands) of feet off the deck.
Developing a community can feel like climbing a mountain with your bare hands. Except the real thing is clearly much more dangerous!
LT: How do you stay organized? What's your favorite to-do list manager?
Mike: For a long time, it was good old paper and pencil – I used a personal adaptation of the Franklin-Covey method to track notes and deliverables. This year, though, I’ve been experimenting with Apple’s Reminders app. Having all my to-do lists and their respective notes synced and available on all my devices has proven to be really handy.
LT: What you surround yourself with is important, what's your work space like?
Mike: I spend about 60-70% of my time in the office where I have a large cubicle against a wall of windows (see the picture at the top of the interview), the walls of my desk are decorated with photos of family, drawings from my son, awards and recognition, and nostalgia from the ‘old days’ of cellular phones. I’m a wee bit cluttered, but overall my desk top is in good order, with a stack of graph paper always at hand for any sketching needs. At home, I have a dedicated room that my wife and I use for our office. She works from home full time, so I guess you can say I have a great view any time I’m working from home. When I get tired of looking at her, though, here’s the view from our office window…Yes, it snows in New Mexico!
Nice view, right?!
LT: What do you listen to while you work?
Mike: I’m not much of a music-while-working person. I’m a bit ADD’ish so music tends to derail my thoughts. I actually appreciate silence quite a bit and will sometimes put in my headphones just to use as ear plugs to block out the droning chatter of the call center reps. When I do listen to music, though, I like something fast and energetic – heavy metal and hip-hop are my go-to genres, but I like and can appreciate almost any kind of well composed tunes.
LT: What's your best time-saving trick?
Mike: This one’s a bit of a paradox…but I really like to comment the heck out of my code. Even though it takes longer initially, when I have to go back months or years later to maintain something it saves me tons of time from having to reverse engineer what I had written previously. “Future proofing!"
LT: How do you balance work and life?
Mike: Life and family comes first, period! My wife, son, and I all have a bunch of extra-curricular activities so I have to put “hard stops” on my work days. I like to live in the moment and I work in order to have amazing adventures in life – I don’t live-to-work. T-Mobile has a good culture of work/life balance and respects the boundaries we establish. Most of the time, the work isn’t *that* critical.
LT: What's your sleep routine like?
Mike: Not the best. I get up around 5 am to get ready for work and get my son ready for school. After work, we usually have some sort of athletic thing or school projects to work on, then dinner, etc… and by the time I’m winding down for the night, it’s 11 pm or later. Weekends are no exception, but substitute climbing, hiking, or other outdoor things for “work." Six hours or less of sleep is typical, 7 days a week.
LT: Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
Mike: I like to call myself a closet introvert. At work I’ve trained myself to do what needs to be done and with all the connections I’ve made over the years my work life is really just a huge extension of my introvert ‘bubble.’ I would guess that most of my coworkers would not immediately judge me to be an introvert. On the other hand, put me in a social situation with strangers and I shut right down, becoming the ‘quiet observer.’
LT: What's the best advice you've ever received (and from whom)?
Mike: “Live in the NOW!” My dad always taught me that what’s happening right now is what’s most important. Try not to dwell on the past, as those are just memories and there’s nothing we can do to change them. Don’t stress about the future, because you can only plan so much before it becomes anxiety.
Here's a picture of Mike living-in-the-now with his family. Looks like an adventure!
My great thanks to Mike for coming up with such great answers to these questions. I hope you enjoyed the interview!