8 Bits with Ben Rudolph!

8 Bits with Ben Rudolph!
This week we are joined by Microsoft Consulting Chief of Staff, Ben Rudolph! Join us as we discuss AI, Krav Maga and more!

Follow Ben on Twitter: @BenThePCGuy
Follow Brandon on Twitter: @TheCodeTraveler
Follow Chloe on Twitter: @ChloeCondon

Listen to the Podcast

8 Bits with Ben Rudolph! - 8 Bits
This week on 8 Bits we are joined by the Chief of Staff for Microsoft Consulting, Ben Rudolph! Join us to learn about Story Telling, Customer Connections, Work Life Balance and more!Follow Ben on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BenThePCGuy​Follow Bra...

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Chloe Condon  0:09
How do y'all, it's Wednesday.

Brandon Minnick  0:13

Chloe Condon  0:14

As I always say is the anchor of my week is how I know what day of the week it is. Welcome back to eight vets, our weekly show where we talk to super interesting, cool people in tech and talk about their past and how they got here. But before we do, we always do some catching up together. Brandon, I'm pointing the wrong way. Brandon, how you doing?

Brandon Minnick  0:35
Sorry, I threw you off. Actually, we should probably do this. There we go. Now we match our logo. Right? Well, yes. Yeah, confuse anybody.

Chloe Condon  0:47
are very are we we spent a lot of time on that logo, perfecting it making it look exactly like us. We've got a mirror it perfectly.

Brandon Minnick  0:57
That's right. So if anybody's looking for some design consultations for basically experts now. Yeah. Beautiful work right here.

Chloe Condon  1:06
Shout out to Ashley for making those beautiful, beautiful designs.

Brandon Minnick  1:10
Yeah. But no, it's been. It's been a good week. I mean, it's beautiful and sunny here. And in California. I feel bad for the folks in the rest of the US because

Chloe Condon  1:23
it looks so chilly everywhere else. Oh, my goodness.

Brandon Minnick  1:27
Friends are just sending pictures of just snow and frozen everything. So if if that's you, definitely stay safe. Hopefully you're able to stay warm. But just just hoping for the best. But in the meantime, it's beautiful here in California if you want to. It is.

Chloe Condon  1:48
It's very strange to see so many folks without power. And it being so snowy. I'm such a California girl, of course. So I'm just over here on the west coast. Sending sending all the good vibes and blankets and everything. Gosh, well, what have you been working on this week? Brandon, I know, you probably you're doing so let me guess .NET stuff? Sure, maybe How

Brandon Minnick  2:17
did you know? Just to guys actually put out a couple blog posts this week. There? Yes, on .NET. There was or there is a preview of Azure Functions running with .NET 5.0. And that is what's a long story short, the team's been doing a ton of work. .NET has been out for a couple months now. And Azure Functions was always tightly coupled with .NET. So it wasn't until they they upgraded that we could upgrade our version of .NET that ran on top of functions. And so we were always kind of locked in. But they've been doing all this work to separate that break it out. They're calling it an out of process worker. And so I wrote a blog post on my website, codetraveler.io. Check it out. And it shows how you can use .NET 5.0 with Azure Functions. It's still still in preview, but kind of a cool glimpse into the future. Because Yeah, going forward, once the team finishes this massive engineering undertaking, then any language any runtime, can run on Azure Functions

Chloe Condon  3:29
is very cool. Azure Functions, everything honestly, like I use Azure Functions for all the things so that's exciting to hear that. I literally just tweeted before this I need to think of some Ariana Grande a themed Azure Function. One of our wonderful essays, tweeted earlier that they repurposed my Azure function, fake boyfriend project and repurposed it to work with an Android device, which is so cool. So there's actually functions all around us. But I need to make an Ariana Grande D themed one, I've got a bunch of my friend made the Mean Girls as your function project with me recently. So I'm all about those Azure Functions. I'm so excited that that .NET can come to the party now.

Brandon Minnick  4:14
Very cool.

Chloe Condon  4:15
Yeah, I actually, I put a little link in our chat, Brandon because I'm speaking of Azure Functions every Monday. I've been live coding from scratch with my pals Adrian and laurina, previous friend of the show, Marina, our clown turn engineer friend. And we have been from scratch building, kind of a twitch notification system. So basically using the courier API, and using Azure Functions. We are making it so you can sign up for notifications. So let's say you know, someone really likes eight bits the show, but it's really hard for them to subscribe to notifications from the MicrosoftDeveloper channel because it would be like ding ding ding all the time, always constant happening. On this channel, we could make it, Brandon. So people could just subscribe specifically to our show. And they can get a notification of their choice, be it from email or slack or text message. So we're building that live on the air, we just built the first part, which is Azure function. So you can check out the docs there to catch up on our week two content, but every Monday come to my twitch channel, and bit projects, which channel and Adrian's channel and we're building this fun little project from scratch. so other people can build it to it's going to be completely open sourced. You can make it so anybody can subscribe to your content with the twitch API

Brandon Minnick  5:38
twitch.tv, slash week to bootcamp.

Chloe Condon  5:41
Yes, oops, no, sorry, it should be aka.ms sorry.ms slash week to boot camp. And that's where you can check out the documentation to catch up on where we left off. So you can join us next Monday. And where we will basically be hooking it all together. So getting the Azure Function that we built on live on stream last week, can check out those videos from last week. And then we're going to be connecting it with the courier API making a whole Sinan HTML page and stuff. So we're learning as we go. And people are literally it's been so cool. People have been helping us debug in the chat. And like, it's, I love live coding on Twitch because it's such an interactive experience. It's not just pair programming. It's pair programming with everyone. So you don't just have the knowledge of the two or three people in the room. You have everyone on the internet there to help you. So come join the party help us, Steve.

Brandon Minnick  6:34
I guess that's funny, because I definitely thought I did. I felt like it was super intimidating when I first started coding live on Twitch, but everybody is so helpful and supportive. And the folks watching. Yeah, though, they'll literally help you fix things in catalogs before you catch them. It's just like, Wow, thank you so much.

Chloe Condon  6:58
in a strange way, it's like having some of the best brightest engineers in one room without sending any meeting invites or coordinating anything, because literally anybody with any level of experience can pop in and like help you with these things. And I think PJ and I recently we're trying to figure out regex because I always have to reteach myself regex every time that I use it. And by having other folks in the chat who are regex experts, it was perfect. So I'm just going to code everything out in the open now. Just to crowdsource everyone's help for everything

Brandon Minnick  7:33
for doing regex, too, because that is, that's tough. Thank you to everybody out there who knows regex really well. And that's the rest of us that Oh,

Chloe Condon  7:44
yes. Thank you for all the documentation and fun websites out there that I've used to relearn regex every single time. So, should we introduce our guests? Should we bring in our extra special guests for today, Brandon?

Brandon Minnick  8:00
Absolutely. You want to kick off the intro?

Chloe Condon  8:02
Okay, so I'm very, very excited for this guest today. They have been at Microsoft a very long time. They also have a lot of really cool, interesting hobbies outside of Microsoft, I think this is how I found this human on social media on Twitter and stuff because I love to see people who do really cool things at Microsoft, but also have a life outside of Microsoft work life balance, you know that thing. So without further ado, welcome to the show, Ben Rudolph. Hi, welcome, Ben. Thank you for coming. Would you like to tell I mean, we're gonna go over your, as we like to call it your origin story, your Marvel origin story, how you got here today working at Microsoft. But tell us a little bit about yourself? What What is your job nowadays at Microsoft?

Ben Rudolph  8:56
Sure. So I am the Chief of Staff for Microsoft Consulting. So Microsoft Consulting is this huge part of Microsoft actually have about 10,000 people in the org that's really focused on helping our customers accelerate their adoption of Microsoft technologies and help them envision the future. So we're not like a McKinsey that's really thinking about like hardcore business management consulting, nor are we like a HCl that's doing like IT outsourcing work, and implementation, we are really focused on, you have a problem or an opportunity. There's Microsoft technology can help you to capitalize on that opportunity or solve that problem. We have an incredible wealth of architecture, knowledge engineers, support technicians, delivery managers, and really kind of innovative consultants to help you put that stuff into play. And you think about taking like all of the Lego bricks that we make in the engineering world, and assembling them into Lego kits that you can go by and go build yourself.

Brandon Minnick  9:58
That's amazing. Yeah,

it's great. Cool.

Chloe Condon  10:01
And how did you get to this? Like a very specific role? Like how did what was your journey to this role? What What brought you to consulting specifically?

Ben Rudolph  10:12
Oh boy, like historically or just like from my last gig at Microsoft, because

Chloe Condon  10:18
we start from the very beginning, we're

Ben Rudolph  10:20
getting into like metaphysical. Why are these work?

Brandon Minnick  10:24
Well, I've heard there's a cool story on how you got this role. So I'd say let's start there. And then, and then we'll go into the Wayback Machine and learn about how Ben got into tech.

Ben Rudolph  10:35
Sure. Okay, so I've been at Microsoft for 13 years. I've done a bunch of stuff, mostly in the strategic comms consumer marketing and fan advocacy work. I ran our worldwide retail experience business for a couple of years, I was the guy in the TV commercials and for Windows Phone, which we can talk about. I started way back. I started way back in Windows, I tell everybody, I had the worst job in the company, was my first job at Microsoft, I was the enterprise PR lead for Windows Vista, which was really not awesome. But immediately prior to this job, I was running a team called news lapse. News labs. A super cool was this idea that we had, which was, you know, is there a way for us to use all of Microsoft's technical mind and resources to help empower journalists and advance the art science and business of journalism. Knowing that, you know, Microsoft is the best in the world at helping to solve like those p zero kind of problems like food supply, and clean water and education, health care, well, access to trustworthy news and information is right up, we don't have access to new sources that we can trust globally. It's gonna be a bad time. So we were working on that kind of stuff. We did some really neat stuff with Azure AI and a bunch of data journalism stuff around Power BI. And that led me to this role, because we have a new CDP, whose name is Omar Bosch, he was the Chief Strategy Officer at Accenture, brand new to the company seven months in, who had a vision for how we could take what is Microsoft consulting services and build it into something that was more on the leading edge, like less about just implementation and delivery and more about really helping our customers envision the future. And my team was doing that for news. So it was a pretty natural fit for us to start working together.

Brandon Minnick  12:31
Wow. Yeah. So something I'm kind of curious in digging back into the the trustworthy news sources, I feel like that's something that's become a really big problem, especially in the age of social media. Anybody can share anything. So how, how did you and your team tackle that problem?

Ben Rudolph  12:50
Yeah, I mean, the challenges that the news industry are facing are like very, very far reaching, you know, everything from very tactical challenges, like the social media echo chamber that we're all part of, to broader challenges about like, ad revenue and rates are decreasing is, you know, getting a whole like share of wallet stuff, how much I've only have so much money I can spend, am I going to be spending it on certain places, or subscriptions or advertising revenue all the way up to like nation state tampering? Right, like I mean, it gets really like big, big altitude stuff. What we found is largely there were, you know, three phases of journalism. There's the creation phase, there's the curation phase. And there's the consumption phase, where we found the spot where we could help the most was on curation right through the Microsoft news ecosystem, through MSN, Microsoft News, big news, all these different places we actually, what's weird about like MSN is people view it as this kind of old stodgy legacy brand, actually, according to comScore, which rates the quality of information on websites. Number one, your service number

Brandon Minnick  13:55
is really

Ben Rudolph  13:57
550 million unique users a month in 180. Countries like it's gigantic. So there's that that we can do to help them make money. Where I spent most of my time was on the creation phase. How do you actually empower journalists to tell trustworthy stories, do the research in a visually compelling way at a much higher velocity. So that's where things like Azure Cognitive Services started to play in. And we built this tool called Ida, the insights discovery accelerator, that effectively takes like 21 different Azure cognitive services and boxes up into a drag and drop tool that you can just grab and download and just start throwing information into it. And it does entity identification and extraction entity linking OCR, big intelligence is built into it. There's a gazillion other things in there but we realized we couldn't go into a news organizations are financially struggling and be like, for the privilege of using our technology and paying us every month. I need you to pay me a million dollars to go build this thing. So we built it ourselves. And we get Get away. And there's some ACR Azure consumer revenue and stuff on the back end. But really, it was just it was a tool that anybody could use for a very, very low cost. To help them tell more trustworthy stories more quickly, best examples, the Atlantic was kind of our launch partner, they you put there, they put 150 years of archives into this tool to start identifying themes, trends and entities and how they talked about them over time so they can tell more compelling stories.

Chloe Condon  15:26
Wow, I was just literally thinking, you know, right, as you said that putting in the back issues and back articles, I was thinking, you know, before we really had news digitalized, we didn't really have the tools like this, to be able to go through the news and to sort through it. So that's really, really cool that we have those capabilities. And that data now that we can actually kind of have a checks and balances system with the information that

Ben Rudolph  15:52
we're getting. It was super cool. Atlantic was really interesting, because most of their archives were actually in books like paper like, like hard bound copies, wow, in an archive, because they started writing, I think in 1861, maybe it was our first article. And then we rented all sorts of really interesting technical challenges. Like we had to build decades specific dictionaries, right, you'll see are things like, like, and decades specific models for what words meant not just words that showed up because words meant different things in 1870 than they do now. You know, for example, that is like World War One. when World War One was happening, they didn't call it World War One because they were hoping there wouldn't be a

Chloe Condon  16:34

Ben Rudolph  16:35
They call it the greater so you have to if you're going to do entity linking, you have to do you got to you have to teach you gotta you gotta build the model that helps it understand that the Great War and World War One are the same thing, different domain different. lexicons, basically.

Chloe Condon  16:50
So there's a bunch of really, it's like dramaturgy, but for real life. So like in theater, you would have a dramaturg who would assess all of the language and make sure that you know, everything is period and the the accents are correct. It's literally that but for machine learning, it's so fascinating. Wow, that is so cool. And what a what a unique product to be able to work on while you're at Microsoft. I feel like we got to figure out the path to that though, because there's a whole you said a 12 year journey leading up to this whole 12 years. How did you find yourself at Microsoft, then?

Ben Rudolph  17:27
Oh, boy. So I guess I'll I'll start at the beginning. This is a good place to start. So I was going to be a doctor. That was my plan. I was going to be a doctor. Because that's what you do in my family, my dad's doctor, to my uncles or doctors, their kids are doctors. My grandfather's doctor, it's like family, business, real family.

So I was like, oh, I'll be a doctor. That's what you do. But when I went to school, like I didn't, you know, in when I was in school,

liberal arts education, were the thing that you did, if you were heading to medical school, medical schools were like, you don't need to learn the science in college, we will teach you what you need to know. Like you should have a background that basis in it, but you don't need to have like a chemistry degree, because we'll teach you the chemistry that you need to know. Cool. So I have an art history degree from George Washington. Yeah, so I was an art history guy and I studied, you know, art, and I was an Italian Renaissance focused art historian. I love it.

Chloe Condon  18:29
Yeah, my dad specializes in commedia dell'arte. Definitely and a lot of Italian art around the home. We love We love a quirky fine degree drama degree here. Brandon is a little bit more on the normal side with this computer science computer science

Brandon Minnick  18:46
degree I did computer hardware engineering.

Chloe Condon  18:49
What a normal guy

Brandon Minnick  18:52
graduated making chips for Intel and AMD but I graduated the middle of well at the beginning ASF recession. And so I got one job, one job offer and I took it. I haven't haven't done any hardware works. It's

Chloe Condon  19:08
so for me folks watching out there worry that their degree is going to define the rest of their career. I think you're going to be okay.

Brandon Minnick  19:15
That's right.

Ben Rudolph  19:17
So in between my sophomore junior year, I got a job at a biotech lab that was actually run by two guys. So I worked I attended and worked at a science camp for many years. I was like summer camp and you'd go for for eight weeks. And actually the camp just closed broke my heart My son's finally old enough to go like my best friends of the world went to this place. And you know, it was for like nerdy kids who didn't quite fit in. It was a great place. One of my and it's turned out some of the smartest most accomplished people I've ever met like one of my very good friends that I went to camp with runs all of logistics. He's like the VP of logistics for Amazon delivery. He's that guy. And we have a bunch of people who like work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and teach astrophysics. This like crazy stuff. One guy runs energy, you know, is a very senior engineer in the Gmail team for Google, like we have these very, very bright people. So two of the guys who were my camp counselors started this biotech company, because they were obviously their PhDs. They started this company, and I got a job to work in the lab. And I got to the company companies called antigen we did some really cutting edge work on code optimization for protein expression. So we could actually like change the DNA of a, say a, you know, a protein, like how protein was expressed piece of DNA. So we could express a protein in a non native host good example would be like human insulin being produced in yeast, right? Well, I can't, I can't like put Chloe and Brandon and a big steel press and like squish out the insulin, but I can grow 50,000 litres of yeasts that are producing insulin and squish them down. And that's how we did that kind of stuff. And some custom protein design and some really wacky,

Chloe Condon  21:09
just super normal stuff.

Brandon Minnick  21:12
Like what a summer job,

Ben Rudolph  21:14
exactly what if you could engineer a protein ice and function and then we could build it for you from scratch? To present?

Chloe Condon  21:20
Like a Wednesday? Yeah,

Ben Rudolph  21:22
right. So I worked in the lab. And I was like, I'm gonna go get experience from medical school because I'm going to be a doctor. And I worked in the lab for one week. And it was the most boring thing I've ever done in my entire life. Because at the time, like CRISPR, and things like that didn't really exist. We were running like gel electrophoresis plates, which you've ever seen, like how you actually like, get a picture of DNA, you put the dye in and use electrical current to stretch this stuff out. It takes days.

Chloe Condon  21:51
It's not like the movies. It's not.

Ben Rudolph  21:55
Right, yeah, right, exactly. Somebody hits a button. It's like, it's like we worked on the first decoding of the human genome first mapping. And that took months. And then you like walking into London Heathrow. And there's a big banner that says like, the power of Azure, the National Institutes of Health can secret 7 billion genomes a day. So it's like, we've kind of moved very far down the road. Yeah, wow. But I went to Collin, who was my boss, and I said, I hate working in lab, it's the most boring thing I've ever done in my life. If you make any work in the lab all summer, I'm gonna like run into traffic, like, I just can't.

Chloe Condon  22:31
Were there any warning signs when you started this job? Like, did you go into it thinking like this? Is it? Or were you kind of like,

Ben Rudolph  22:38
no, I went into it thinking it was gonna be awesome. I was gonna be like, working on all this really complex stuff. Like, I didn't know anything. So I couldn't do the complex. Yeah, and there were people there who were way smarter than me. But I just I had no understanding of the patients that it took to do actual scientific research, because my whole frame of reference was like TV shows, movies, you know, like, I'd never been in a lab before any meaningful way. I've been in the lab, I just assumed it would be more fun wasn't fun. So I went to college, and I said, you know, he's known, I've known him forever. He's known my family forever. And, you know, through through the camp, and I was basically like, Look calm, like, you got to come up with something for me to do, like, you're my job for the summer. And if you don't come up with something for me to do, like, my mom's gonna kill both of us. So you better figure it out. And I remember, he held up this book, it was like one of those like NBA to box books, because he didn't know anything, either. And I think he would admit that. And he was like, Well, you know, one of the things that we're trying to do is we're trying to raise some VC money, right? Get some investment in cash. So we can hire more scientists expand the lab, do more projects, like, Okay, he's like in this book, says a really great way to do that is to generate positive press, go do PR. And I was like, okay, and he's like, so go do that. And I was like, I don't know how to do that. And he's like, I don't know how to do it either. But like you said, You needed something to do for the summer. So go figure it out. So you know, I started making my press lists and doing phone calls. And I got us this story where we were part of like this, we were basically a feature on the front page of Los Angeles Times on, you know, the dcra biotech. And just like the book said, We got a call from this boutique investment firm. It was like, Hey, we saw that story. And we'd like to talk to you about investing in the lab. And like, just like the book said, they invested. And the lab was saved, that we go to the lab and calls like Congratulations, you're running marketing for aptitude. So my junior and senior year is basically working full time to go into school full time, helping to build up this biotech lab. That's kind of like how I got derailed from the like the medical path and I ended up in this like technology like PR messaging, marketing advocacy path and that I did my own thing for a couple years and then I got hooked up really early on The company that you both may be familiar with called parallels. If you know parallels

Brandon Minnick  25:04
Windows and Mac virtualization, I use it all the time.

Ben Rudolph  25:06
So I was the first employee and parallels. I was the first non engineer parents. Yeah. And it was one of those things where I applied for a job at one of parallels sister companies. And I didn't get the job. And I was super mad. And they were like, but we're doing this other thing. A couple engineers are facing Moscow. They seem really smart. And they don't really have a business plan yet. Like, maybe you could help them get that started was like, well, it's better than what I'm doing now for sure, but backwards. So we launched parallels, I launched parallels desktop for Mac. You know, I met put me on my path to Microsoft, my path to Microsoft was super weird because there was a spot in 2007. Where Microsoft changed the windows EULA. To say that you couldn't run anything other than Windows Vista ultimate in a virtual machine, license, the license agreement and user license agreement. So there was no technical reason it was a user thing, because there's, you know, it's old Microsoft is loud legacy baggage there. So I got really annoyed. And I wrote a blog post, because 2007, we had a blog, we were cutting edge. And I wrote a blog post about how it was like kind of anti user behavior and how I didn't really like the way Microsoft was approaching it. It got picked up in the press. And the press like there were mainstream broadcast press coverage, AP Reuters on this campus. So I got summoned to Microsoft, like summit, I got an email from somebody whose email share the time who was like looking after licensing, and they were like, so and so would like to meet you on campus. And I was like, this is it. This is how it ends for me.

Brandon Minnick  26:57
A good read.

Ben Rudolph  26:58
So we had this meeting. And they basically said, Hey, we we listened to the concerns. This was like the first inklings of like, good new Microsoft, you listen to the concerns, we saw the press coverage, we heard from our developers, we heard from our end users, we're gonna change the view back to what it was. So we're so I got them to change the windows license agreement for a billion people. Cool. All right. It's kind of amazing, right? And like, we escaped, and like a bunch of I was assuming we're gonna get sued, we didn't get sued.

Chloe Condon  27:25
You're basically a developer advocate, without officially being a developer advocate.


Ben Rudolph  27:34
Yeah, so like that happened. And that was great. We changed it ever was very happy in a couple months later, I got a call from somebody on the comms team saying, Hey, we have this role, which turned out to be the worst job in the company, the enterprise PR role for Windows Vista coming in and saying, Hey, you know, we we like the approach for like the human toll that you took, you should we should we want to talk to you about this job. So I kind of got recruited, and now I'm here. So you know, it was a it was a weird path. Like this was not the direction that I assumed that my career would go by any stretch of the imagination. If you told me as like a kid who grew up in kind of in farm country in the middle of Pennsylvania, that one day, I would be living in Seattle working for Microsoft, with my art history degree, collecting dust in my garage. This would not have been something that

Brandon Minnick  28:23
Yeah, and I gotta say, we have common This is a friend of the show, PJ Matt says, Is there anything Ben hasn't done? Yes. And I agree, Ben, that was an amazing story. And it seems like you, you have done it all. And you can do it all.

Ben Rudolph  28:40
I can do it all. But I've done a bunch of stuff. But it's all been kind of in the same vein, right? of like, how do you take for me? I mean, I'm not all my like, I think some you know, cloetta, you said you were kind of self taught and you didn't like have a formal CS background. Like, I kind of learned it myself, right, because I was interested in it. So I picked it up as as I went along, but for me, like where my happy places and I feel like the thing that I can do better than most people is, how do you take technology and make it relatable to really, so I love being in retail, I love telling the stories about it and how you can win people over to be fans of you know, the company and of the brand and make them feel like they're part of the Microsoft family even if they don't have a blue badge or an orange badge or whatever.

Chloe Condon  29:28
Yeah, I've been loving. I know you mentioned to me, Ben, that you know the folks behind this account, the Microsoft Twitter account, shout out to the Microsoft Twitter account. It is constantly making me laugh, cry, get emotional. They recently celebrated Kelly rowland's birthday. loved that. It is I think there's really I totally agree there's really something to be said for you know, we make really cool technology and products but when we can either make people feel something either via to laugh or, you know, if it's the emotions that we feel from the new superbowl commercial that shows our newest controller or something, there's so many ways that you can kind of affect people using the power of humor, using the power of empathy. And that's what I've really loved about this, this new Microsoft everyone speaks of, although I feel like I've always just been a part of the new Microsoft. So


Ben Rudolph  30:26
you get to a spot where it's like, when we start telling stories about why we do things, as opposed to what we do. You start connecting with people in a very different altitude. I mean, it makes a really amazing at telling the watts like, this is the resolution of the new Surface Book Three display, and this is what, you know, we got a gazillion things in Azure, and they do all sorts of neat stuff. Like we make a bunch of widgets, and they come with these colors and sizes, how many would you like, we're great at that. We've been historically great at that. Because we're an engineering driven company. The new part of Microsoft is talking about the why like the superbowl commercial, not this year, maybe was two years ago, the when everybody plays, we all win. Like that was like that's the walk, right? We were talking about the adaptive controller, because we were going to go sell a whole pile. That's not why that product was designed. It was designed because we have words on the back of our badge that are not just, you know, it's not just a phrase, like, it's something that we live every day. And like those of you who are Microsoft employees, who are you have a badge or an orange badge. It was very intentionally placed on the back of those badges. So that every day when you took the physical action of badging into a building, you connected with the message, like that was a very intentional piece of design that was done. You know, when we start telling stories about why we make that real, and people fall in love with the brand, for good reason, because we're doing the right thing,

Brandon Minnick  31:48
not just making the best products. That's right. Just like a film, DJ was said in the comments says it's all about the human connection.

Ben Rudolph  31:57
So Ah,

Chloe Condon  31:59
I have to ask because I, myself have an arts degree, you have an art history degree, I get asked all the time by folks, do you use your degree in your day to day life? And I will say, as someone who took a bunch of very strange theater and movement classes, sometimes it pops up in very interesting, strange ways. But Ben, I'd be curious with an art history degree for maybe some folks who are who are joining us who have a more traditional computer science degree. Do you use pieces of that? I would, I would imagine in some form, it pops up here and there, maybe not directly.

Ben Rudolph  32:32
Yeah, I do use it almost every day. What I loved about our history, even compared to some other liberal arts is that our history is kind of all encompassing, right, if you want to, if you're going to learn it, there's the technical component of how art is created. Right, whether it's major or minor arts, but then there's the political context in which it was created, the military context is created, where, you know, technology and trade was what diseases were happening, right, if you take a look at art from like, when the black plague was happening is very different than art, like the 15th century and all that stuff, after 16th century. So there's a broader just kind of broad based education that allowed me to start thinking contextually about, you know, not just the thing that's in front of you, but all the pieces that connect and all the rings have concentricity around it, then influence with that thing is, from a technical standpoint, I will say, and I'm going to put this on the table. I am world class of PowerPoint. Like you need a decked out,

Chloe Condon  33:37
it's an art, it really is an art.

Ben Rudolph  33:40
It is an art, right, and it's my canvas. And there is a storytelling lens to that right how you architect the story, then there's also an aesthetic piece to that. And there's a whole, you know, color palette thing and color theory and aesthetic theory and composition, all this stuff that I learned very, very deeply. That weirdly, if you are trying to if you are painting a fresco on the side of a church, or you are trying to convey something to a customer or to a partner, that design language is not that dissimilar. It's actually very, very close. Like good design is good design, whether you're taking a picture, or whether you're painting something or whether you're trying to convey it through a digital medium, like powerful. So it's I use it more than I would think, you know, and I find it my daily life to my photographer, that all of that stuff around tomato and cashkaro and how light balances and rule of threes and all that kind of thirds and how you do great composition design. It actually helps when you're taking pictures with like an iPhone or your note the Galaxy Note or whatever. So yeah, I use it pretty regularly.

Brandon Minnick  34:45
Oh, I love that. And I love how you you mentioned telling telling stories, because as somebody myself who grew up in Orlando, I worked I've worked a bunch of jobs that didn't and that's something Disney's Really good at is everything has a story. They don't just build a ride. Like you might go to the parks. And you might just look at it and say, Oh, that's a roller coaster, but to Disney. There's a whole backstory of epic. Why does this like, Where did this come from? How do they get here? Why does it exist? What's gonna happen? What's the resolution brand? That's something that I bring to my day, my day job. And I, it's funny because I always try to tell that story anytime I'm giving a presentation a time talking to a conference blog post. And it's something that when I first say it to folks, you kind of get that, huh. Or I'm like, it's like, okay, yeah, like, cool. You taught me how to do this and C#, but what's the story? And it's just, instead of being very dry and analytical, like step one, step two, step three. It's like, why, why are you doing this? What's the background? And also, how is this going to help me like, how can I apply? Like, this might be really cool knowledge. But if I don't know how to then take it and work with it in my day job, then what's the point? So yeah, what's what's your story, we shall be telling, writing stories at

Ben Rudolph  36:14
Disney of all companies. Like they're one of my favorite companies, not just from a content perspective, but from an operational perspective. You may have, they may have talked to you about this when you worked at Disney. But have you heard of their four keys stuck with this, these four keys?

Chloe Condon  36:29
Oh, it's been a while remind that. So Disney

Ben Rudolph  36:31
has this has this operating principle, whenever they build or do anything around. They're kind of like hierarchy of values of how they approach that story, or that product. And those four keys are safety, courtesy, experience, and efficiency. And what's really interesting is that they when they are building that roller coaster, they never compromise something higher on the list for something lower on the list. So when you are building, I don't know, what's the

Brandon Minnick  37:02
rock and roller coaster?

Ben Rudolph  37:03
Thank you. I was like, the Disney. Right, right, whatever that thing is, in credit coaster. Like they could probably make that ride, a little bit more fun, but it might be a little less safe. And they would never do that. Or they could probably make the ride a little bit shorter for the sake of efficiency, but then the experience goes down. So they would never do that. Yeah. And I love as I think about campaigns that we build stories that we tell and now that I'm in an operational role looking after each of these 10,000 people, what are the values that we try to instill across our org and across the company? And what are those operational hierarchy of principles that we build, to make sure that we always keep our eye on the things that are most important, you know, for when we were working in news, trust and transparency was number one, right? How we are presenting news to people so that it is trusted and trustworthy, and transparency about how data was used. But how we monetize, but which new sources we've worked with. Because if we compromise that just one little bit, we just become one of the other guys that you can't trust. And if that thing falls apart, customers don't trust you partners don't trust you. Industry orcs don't trust you. And it just it starts to eat away at the brand. And that mission of empowerment that we've built. So that's a, like I've always admired Disney because they so very rarely ever compromise those four principles. They are very zealous about making sure that they stick to that across everything they do and say,

Chloe Condon  38:31
and it's authentic. I think it really shows like when you prioritize the right things in your product, or your messaging or whatever you're doing. I see a lot of folks when they're doing content, kind of think of this spoonful of sugar technique where it's like, hey, come over here. Here's some clickbait like, Come over here. But being responsible. While doing that is a whole other piece of the puzzle.

Ben Rudolph  38:55
I have seven kids, right? It's hard, right? I think you'd be responsible. It's like it would be easier to just like plunk them in front of the TV or Xbox all day. But that'd be bad parenting. So like you have to focus on preparing them for the world. And sometimes that's hard. And sometimes that makes means making tough decisions. And the same thing applies in our, in our day to day working environments for

Chloe Condon  39:14
speaking of tough decisions, prioritization with that, how are you thinking about work life balance, then this is you just you just dropped a fact on everyone you had how many kids? I'm seven, almost eight. that's bigger than the Brady Bunch.

Congrats, thank

Brandon Minnick  39:32

Chloe Condon  39:33
How do you deal with work life balance as a dad and working full time and every, as PJ mentioned in our chat, everything that you do?

Ben Rudolph  39:43
Very carefully. Here's how I manage it. It's uh, it's interesting. It's, you know, when you especially we've got a you know, we have an unusually large family compared to most people. There are families that we know that have more kids than that. We have a family friend that they have 12 And then I started thinking about I tell my wife like we're only two thirds of the way there. Think about that.

Chloe Condon  40:06
Family bond traps, you can have two different singers 12 kids,

Ben Rudolph  40:09
it's, it's amazing and wonderful. It makes me hyperventilate a little bit. For me, it's, you know, I've realized the more kids we have, that we you know, it's it's cliche to be like we don't shouldn't live to work, we should work to live, that's really become true from for my for our family, I love my job, I will put 100% into it every day, I still probably work too many hours, especially at night on the weekend. So what I've done is I've carved out time in my day. That's family time. And that time is immutable and unbreakable. For me that seven to eight o'clock in the morning, when the kids are getting up and getting ready for school, I won't do even with a global team, I'll do calls at six, I'll get up early. I'll do calls late at 11 o'clock at night if you need me to. But I won't do a call from seven, eight o'clock in the morning. And from about 530 to eight at night. That's dinnertime, that's bedtime, that's homework time, that's bedtime. Afterwards, you know, I will if I need to get back on. So what I basically created with my team, and I've encouraged them to do the same is I've created like a red, yellow green chart for the day. These are times when I'm available. These are times I'm available. If you absolutely need me, these are times when I'm not available. And something's kind of amazing has happened. And I encourage all of you to try it. I've encouraged my team to try to when you tell people no with a good reason. They tend to be okay with it. It's like we live in a world where we get really nervous, like, oh, Chloe needs me to talk at seven o'clock in the morning. And like, I don't it's gonna be a thing and she's gonna get mad what happens to my job? And then we, we catastrophize was like, and then I'll be living, you know, lose the house. My kids and all this kind of thing. That's probably it might might happen. Probably not. Right? But reality is, hey, Clay, I can't meet from seven to eight that time I'm getting my kids ready. Can we get up before after? I found most times people say you have to humble yourself or even better. Don't worry about I got a cover. That's the best answer. Yes.

Chloe Condon  42:13
I needed to hear this. I am such an obliger when it comes to like accountability with other people. So I'm the one going through all the scenarios in my head. But I am such a yes. And girl I need to learn No, and here's why. It's you know, it's like

Ben Rudolph  42:29
for you know, I'm not gonna get into all my deep rooted psychological issues about why I need to please people and all that kind of stuff. That's a different episode. But you know, I'm the same way right? Like I just I want people to know that I'm there for them that I'm committed to my job. But what I've realized the older I get more experienced, I get my kids need and require one more time with me that, you know, like, I have to be just as accountable to my family are more accountable to my family, and by extension more accountable to myself. And, you know, I've so what I've done is I have those times blocked in my calendar. And if I need to start early, if I if I've got a 5:30am call, I slide my end of day up till three o'clock or 330. And I'm just done. And I force myself to be offline. Because if I don't, I am the kind of person where I'll be on from 530 in the morning until 630 at night, then I'm like in a crummy mood for my kids. I'm not being a good husband to my wife, I'm not being a good, you know, a steward of our household like all the things that I need to do outside of work, I don't have anything left in the tank for and you know, you're you're you don't want to short sell your kids like they need that time they need you to be present, not just be present in the room, but actually be like emotionally present.

Brandon Minnick  43:43

Ben Rudolph  43:44
yeah, I mean, there's no magic bullet to it, for sure. But that's like for me, it's just like clear boundaries on starts of day and ends of day has been hugely helpful for me.

Chloe Condon  43:53
I don't even have kids and I feel like I need to do that for myself just for my own mental health. Sometimes I just have to block out two hours to play Animal Crossing and this is my time to recharge you know, and I think during a global Pinera hasn't caught. We forget that we're stuck at home and we're not doing as many things for ourselves lately. So yeah, I like I'm writing everything down. I'm like, Yes, saying no to that.

Ben Rudolph  44:21
It's incredibly saying no, like strategically saying no to people is highly power. Because there's like no when you're being a jerk, like hey, can you do this thing? No. Right then you're like that guy. Don't be that guy. But if you're like no, because of these like because like hey, I can't right now because I've got family thing like today, when I wrap this this stream with you? I my daughter play softball, and was like coach shuffle. So like I'm off at 230. And everybody knows that when I send it out to everybody. Hey, I won't be reachable from about 230 until about five. Nobody was like How dare you? Everyone was like Oh cool. That's awesome. Go do that. Right. And you know, hopefully we all have teams, competent teams of people, whether they be direct reports or you know, virtual team members or people who rely on you can kind of like disperse the work like it'll be there waiting for you The more I promise.

Brandon Minnick  45:17
Yeah. And speaking of, say, hobbies, we were chatting before the show started bed. And you also mentioned you correctly rock top Krav Maga, I did.

Ben Rudolph  45:31
So I'm a certified Krav Maga instructor, I got certified in 2002. I have a black belt in jujitsu that I earned in 2005. And I spent a number of years teaching self defense close quarter combatives to civilians, but a lot of work in the DC area with law enforcement and with military as well. So it was just something I enjoyed. I you know, I found out that I was pretty good at it. spent a couple of weeks in Florida and then in Los Angeles and other places kind of getting beat up by a bunch of former Israeli commandos got certified. But it's, it's something I really enjoy doing. And I feel like it's a it's a critical life skill for all of us. Like, I wish, I wish that it wasn't I wish we lived in a world where nobody ever needed to do that. Unfortunately, not the case. And Chloe, you and I had a thread about that with a couple of a couple of months ago at this point. But like yeah, being aware of your surroundings and know how to handle yourself in case of emergency is something that everybody should be empowered.

Chloe Condon  46:31
Yeah, and I know, I super appreciate it, I was just gonna say, as a woman online, these are things that I think about quite a bit. So once I learned, you put some great tips, I'll share the thread after this after this stream, but I was doing a thread brand and about how I'm always very paranoid of the reflection in my glasses, or I always post photos a lot later. So people can't track my location. And I've gotten off apps like swarm that deal a lot with like, check in and location based things. And yeah, I think there's there's so much knowledge to not only be learned about how to keep your safe yourself safe online, but also physically that I'm going to reach out to you then for some tips and tricks.

Ben Rudolph  47:14
You know, from my perspective, like I have an incredible, just like natural privilege in the fact that like, I'm six one I weighed 200 pounds, I'm highly trained, I shaved my head, I kind of look angry all the time. Like it's not intentional, but like, Are you angry? Are you angry, like, I realize it's how I this is my face, it's how my face looks, I don't know what to tell you. But like, I'm not the guy that people that feels threatened in most places. You know, I people generally Leave me alone, like I'm not a target. But that's not the case for everybody. And like you can overcome that by through training and awareness. So that's always been something that I've really enjoyed. Because it felt like a very, it was it was a way for me to take that kind of natural ability and a natural privilege that I have and help scale it out to those who don't have it naturally.

Chloe Condon  48:02
Ah, Brandon, we got to get you in some classes.

Brandon Minnick  48:06
It's I so I did and I'm absolutely not at the level little Venice. I won't even pretend I but Yeah, I did. I took a couple of Krav Maga classes a couple years ago, but only stuck with it for a couple months. And Yep, you can make an excuse for everything in mind, in this case was traveling too much to have that that monthly to justify the monthly membership, where I could only do a couple classes a month, but I really enjoyed it. And I think the thing I enjoyed the most about Krav Maga is it's not necessarily Well, it's all defensive. My my takeaway was, you want to get out of you want to get out of dodge as fast as possible. So where are the exits, make sure you position yourself between the attacker and the exit. And if you can avoid the fight, avoid the fight and just get out. And that's that's one thing, I really appreciate it because I think what a lot of folks think of martial arts, you kind of think of Oh, I'm gonna become think of

Chloe Condon  49:06
the Ninja Turtles like my

Brandon Minnick  49:08
real fight cry. Like this is all very much self defense. Like, you don't want to do anything that you shouldn't have to and so I really appreciate that. And yeah, anytime I'm out like when I'm walking the dog at night, and I see or feel kind of that, that feeling that we've all felt. I kind of I run through the training but thankfully I've never been in a situation where I've needed it.

Ben Rudolph  49:35
I would say that

like if you get that feeling like listen to that feeling. That usually means something's wrong and if you take a defensive measure you move to the other side of the street you go to some places more lit and there is nothing there like so what like you did the right thing. Yeah, it's like I'm saying is like what I loved about it was it was real heavy on the martial and real light on the art highly practical. And they teach you how to effectively defend against very common, very common attacks in very repeatable ways. The actual number of techniques that you learn is surprisingly small compared to like when I was studying Jiu Jitsu years and years and years to learn very, very intricate, highly specialized techniques, much more artistic, that you can use in common situations, and they train you to be aware, like you made a great point, like, making sure that you stay in well lit areas, understanding what's going on around you, you know, they're even these things now, like, if I'm in a restaurant, I don't like having my back to the door, you know, there's things that you just get trained to kind of do in your day to day life. You know, I stand sideways when I'm at an ATM. So I can kind of see what's going on around me when I'm like otherwise focused, and you learn these kind of techniques that just give you a better understanding of what's going on around you. Because especially in the smartphone age, it's very easy to get lost in that little piece of glass, and completely block out everything that's going on around you. And, you know, that is when people start to view you as a target. Yeah,

Chloe Condon  51:03
I feel like my awareness is like up here because I lived in San Francisco for so many years. And then I'll go visit family in Tucson or in Texas, and like you find your purse on the back of the chair. Oh my gosh.

Ben Rudolph  51:19
Even in my neighborhood, we live in a very safe neighborhood. I make sure I locked my car every night, because I lived in DC for a long time like downtown DC and it's like you would never leave your car unlocked. That's a terrible idea.

Chloe Condon  51:31
here just thinking about my laptop back in coffee shops back in the day, I do. So many ways to Yeah. Oh my goodness. Well, I just heard a very interesting magical Disney sound in the background, which I think is a really good transition to how we usually close out the show band, which we usually talk about theme parks and I heard a very Disney like sound in the background. So I'm thinking you're probably a Disney household as well. Are you we are

Ben Rudolph  52:00
Did you hear it on my side? Is that where you heard the sound?

Chloe Condon  52:03
I was I used to be a nanny. So I know these these sound interlude

Ben Rudolph  52:09
are close. There are two my my five year old and my three year old I think are playing Minecraft dungeons right now.

Chloe Condon  52:16

Ben Rudolph  52:17
so it's close. I heard the noise when the you know, like the arch villager shows up so I

Chloe Condon  52:23
think I got very excited.

Ben Rudolph  52:26
We do a lot of Disney in this house for sure. So we have five girls two boys. So my five year old my three year old are in like, they're like deep in princess mode right now for sure. So yes, we have we have seen the movies a couple of times.

Chloe Condon  52:44
We're talking frozen. Probably I'm thinking really enjoy

Ben Rudolph  52:48
frozen. We do a lot of frozen. I think that's still probably the number we do a lot of molana Okay, those are Yeah, yeah. Great movie. amazing soundtrack. What else have they been watching recently?

Chloe Condon  53:00
Have you all watched soil yet

Ben Rudolph  53:01
that we watched? So we watched soul I enjoyed soul.

Brandon Minnick  53:07
Yeah, so

Chloe Condon  53:09
traveled to a theme park with that many children. I imagine that's an Olympic sport and away

Brandon Minnick  53:14

Ben Rudolph  53:16
You've actually never taken all of them. Okay. And it's largely been because like, it's so logistically complex for sure that we take the kids when they are older. So my older kids have been twice and we kind of like add new kids as they as they get into the age, but like five has generally been our threshold. Because before that, it's like they're in strollers all day and like they get tired really easily. And there's like a lot of gear and like workarounds, like if anybody's in the naptime kind of phase. That's like not conducive to maximizing your Disney investment, which is

Chloe Condon  53:52
very expensive nap.

Ben Rudolph  53:54
Right? Like the family that like we're there when the park opens, and we're just like, we just power through. Because it's expensive. So I think the most we've taken is four. We've done four kits. So two parents for kids been logistically fine. We had a trip planned. And then obviously when the pandemic hit, we scratched it. Because with all the travel that I do, I have like 1.9 million Alaska miles to spend. So like we can get them there pretty pretty easily. It's just you know, managing them.

Chloe Condon  54:28
Do you have a personal favorite theme park? Maybe pre kids are your roller coaster fan? You got favorite ride? These are the tough questions we asked on this show.

Ben Rudolph  54:38
Yeah. So I think the original Disneyland is my favorite. Mainly because like my uncle, one of the ones he's a doctor. He's a plastic surgeon at Scripps in San Diego. So we would go visit them and then we would go to did we drive down? Go to go to Disney favorite ride? Oh my gosh, it's been See,

Chloe Condon  55:00
I too am a Disneyland fan. Although have not ventured to Disney World yet, that'll be a 2035 trick Disney is I was down

Ben Rudolph  55:09
there for I did a conference with the Disney consulting Institute where they that's where you kind of like learn how they do their operations, all that kind of stuff. I forgot how big that places it's like 60 square miles they own in the middle of it's shockingly big, massive.

Brandon Minnick  55:25
Like it's mon county.

Ben Rudolph  55:28
We did a I did a thing at Disneyland as part of the Disney consulting Institute where they said the parking lot at Disney World is bigger than Disneyland

Chloe Condon  55:37
oh my god like

Ben Rudolph  55:39
Disneyland is like 350 acres or something. The parking lot at like the Magic Kingdom is like 500 acres it is they operate at a scale they said I forget the exact number they said the next biggest theme park outside of Disneyland How did the Disney worlds like small w disney world does the volume they do in a year and I think they said three days. Oh my god it's it's bananas how many people they move through

Chloe Condon  56:13
churros and turkey legs for a lot of people

Ben Rudolph  56:15
but really like the number one reason people so they go back to Disney safety. They feel safe people follow those people. And the number two reason is cleanliness. So it's like when you build when you do like really serious experience design. They index on the emotional connection of I feel safe. This place is spotless. Everybody is nice. And I am happy to pay 15 bucks for a tour and wait in line for three hours to get on. What's the the cars racing, right?

Chloe Condon  56:45
Oh yeah,

Ben Rudolph  56:45

no not test drive. This is the one in Disneyland it's part of a Radiator Springs racers. Oh

Brandon Minnick  56:52
yeah. You

Ben Rudolph  56:52
have to wait three hours and eat your turkey leg in the blistering heat because you feel safe and it's clean? Yeah,

Chloe Condon  57:00
they're really Disney Magic really is a real thing. I truly believe that having worked for the mouse briefly. There's something I think it really comes back to what we talked about at the start of the show about creating that experience and that like empathy and that familiar Enos that makes you comfortable enough to spend that much money on experience.

Brandon Minnick  57:20
Absolutely. Right.

Ben Rudolph  57:20
When you think about the emotional connection they drive so here's my Disney story. Like I would talk about that's that's my favorite Radiator Springs racers. That's my favorite. I felt like that would is phenomenal. But like what the first time we went to Disneyland, my oldest daughter has a little bit of she has some sensory issues, right really hates loud noises always has. So we're there. It's me and my wife, my oldest son. And the we stayed for the fireworks. And my oldest daughter like lost like she was having like anxiety like overspill. Right, she was just like, not in a good spot. So we bailed out, and I think we went into adventure land. And we just like ducked into one of the stores. And she was like hyperventilating and freaking out. And like this woman who was a cashier, she was like working the register, like closer register came over and like found a quiet spot between two racks of sweatshirts for Audrey to fit. And gave her like a pin, like just like off the rack, like didn't cost something just like as a $15 pins, like stuck it on her and like took care of her. And she didn't have to do that the fact that they empower their people to do the right thing, because nobody leaves Disneyland on happy. Like that's the thing. Like we we sell happiness here. And if you're not happy, we will do what we can to fix that was like that was like a not just a storytelling moment, but like a this is how you deal with humans. moment for me and I know we I think we do a pretty good job of that now. But there's still work for us to do for sure.

Chloe Condon  58:54
I love that. I love that story.

Brandon Minnick  58:57
beautiful story over you. We have less than a minute left. Ben, I wish we could talk to you for more many more hours but thanks so much for coming on the show. They can where they can find you.

Ben Rudolph  59:10
So my Twitter handles up on screen Ben the PC guy. Come say hi. I'm on too much. Probably talking too close. So I'll be I'll be wrapped so if you have any questions or anything, say hi and happy.

Chloe Condon  59:23
And we'll have you back on the show soon. Bad love to be a returning guest. Well thanks everyone for joining us today and we will see you next week with another extra special guest