8 Bits with Carmen Crincoli!

8 Bits with Carmen Crincoli!
This week we are joined by Senior Microsoft PM, Carmen Crincoli! Join us as we discuss Carmen's journey from gas station attendant to Microsoft!

Follow Carmen on Twitter: @CarmenCrincoli
Follow Chloe on Twitter: @ChloeCondon
Follow Brandon on Twitter: @TheCodeTraveler

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8 Bits with Carmen Crincoli! - 8 Bits
In this episode we are joined by Senior Microsoft PM Carmen Crincoli! Join us as we learn Carmen’s journey from Gas Station Attendant to Senior PM @ Microsoft!Follow Carmen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CarmenCrincoliFollow Chloe on Twitter: htt...

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Chloe Condon  0:15
I'm jingling my charm bracelet jingle jingle like my kingdom for a jingle bell Happy Holidays. jingle jingle

Brandon Minnick  0:28
holiday spectacular.

Chloe Condon  0:31
You know it's kind of To be honest, y'all. It's kind of an unplanned holiday spectacular because I put on this festive T rex guiding Santa sleigh. Yes, I am Jewish sweater today, as I was teaching her MSA is and I was looking around my house, asked my boyfriend. You seen my red obnoxious bow hat? couldn't find it anywhere finally found it, thank goodness. And then I saw our guest tweeted a photo with a very similar hat. Spoiler alert. Well, we'll be sharing this this wonderful fashion. But how are you doing? Brandon? We're so close to the holidays. How? I don't understand how.

Brandon Minnick  1:12
Cuz we're still in March. This is just the month of March. Yeah.

Chloe Condon  1:18
How are you feeling going into this festive time of year doing anything? festive and fun.

Brandon Minnick  1:24
I mean, feeling good. Napa County where I live just went into lockdown. Because our ICU capacity just hit whatever the threshold percentage was of available hospital beds. So great news for us today. But on the brighter side, my house is currently running on solar power.

Chloe Condon  1:44
Whoa, okay.

Brandon Minnick  1:46
We had some panels installed yesterday.

Chloe Condon  1:48
That's pretty freakin cool. So like the sun is powering your home.

Brandon Minnick  1:53
The bits brought you brought to you by the sun,

Chloe Condon  1:55
the sun. Well, this reminds me I've been to Redmond in a while. But one of the things that I loved about visiting the Redmond campus, besides all the great snacks, and food and coworkers that I get to see is the they had like these, they would grow their own herbs and stuff in the food area, which I believe is also powered by the sun. So I feel like by the sun, food parabens, and so many things, parabens, and that's so cool. So how has it been? How does it feel?

Brandon Minnick  2:25

I mean, you know, I feel the power surging through my veins. I'm one with Mother Nature now. Not I mean, to be honest, and this is probably the best part is it? You don't even notice a difference. The the workers came out yesterday to do the install. And obviously during that they had to cut power to the house. And then all of a sudden, as I was working on my laptop just going off the battery charge, like all the lights came back on. It's like, Oh, I guess we're online now. So it's it's pretty cool. I mean, I'm looking forward to seeing our electric bill, it was about 200 bucks last month. And we should get it closer to zero. I mean, we still use natural gas, we have gas heaters, and stoves and appliances. But other than that we really shouldn't have to pay for electric anymore.

Chloe Condon  3:19
environment and doing all kinds of I think what's been really cool about coming into tech and working here at Microsoft is learning from one of our fellow caught up. It's actually all about green tech and the stuff that Microsoft does to kind of reduce energy debt and that kind of stuff. And I think anytime I'm able to like save the planet a little bit, I feel as kids we were always taught like, turn off the lights when you leave the house. And there's like small things that you can do. But something like powering a house. That's pretty. That's it. That's impactful.

Brandon Minnick  3:49
That's right. Yeah, as long as it's daylight hours, you leave all the lights on. I think I think the power companies should pay us a little bit too if we bring in more than we consume. But who knows. We'll figure all that out in a month or so whenever that new bill comes in. I think it still has to be like officially approved and city inspectors and all that fun stuff. But yeah, it's very exciting.

Chloe Condon  4:12
Powered by the sun. Writing pretty soon you'll have your own biodynamic winery out there in Napa. Brandon, I'm sure.

Brandon Minnick  4:21
We do have a compost heap. So yeah, we're going we're going full Mother Nature.

Chloe Condon  4:27
Well, I have a surprise from crops here to share with y'all because I actually I've been feeling particularly festive, doing seasons of serverless stuff, which we talked about last time on the show. But Brandon, new challenge this week new challenge to this. If you check out YouTube right now, on my YouTube, you can just search the order look@aka.ms slash seasons the serverless we have post the solution for the world's longest kebab and y'all it's one of my favorite videos that I've done because we talk myself sessile and British This Microsoft Student Ambassador who built this project, talk about kebab ops as in, like, how do you figure out DevOps to cook and build the world's longest kebab and literally use Azure Functions, figured out how to get all of the like proper recipe, make sure that you don't put too much pepper on it that you're cooking the right amount. So check that out. But I didn't really realize that we were back close to the holidays. So I want to share some of my favorite holiday sweaters that didn't make it onto a because I didn't wear them in time. This one is one that my mom made. She used to be a designer that says Oh, Wally night. What can oh it's cheap.

Brandon Minnick  5:38
It's a three wise sheep.

Chloe Condon  5:39
Yeah. And that says missile toads that has three toads on it. I lost cub, move it move it. I am Jewish, half Jewish on my dad's side. I wore this one easily science or situation here. Some gnomes that I did not get to wear on the show. And just my festive holiday light sweater. I don't know about y'all. But this is my first year putting up Christmas lights because I'm home like I usually am traveling around the holidays. So I've got a tree. I've got Christmas lights up in the window. Pretty exciting stuff. I'm feeling more festive than usual this time of year this year. Brandon, how many you saved? Yeah.

Brandon Minnick  6:25
And something that's really cool. I mean, we moved just a couple of miles away. We lived in San Francisco at the beginning of the year, bought a house here in Napa. And it's only about an hour's drive. But the climate here is so different. And it gets cold enough in Napa, but not really in San Francisco to where the leaves change colors. And so yeah, we went through this whole fall

Chloe Condon  6:50

Brandon Minnick  6:52

And yeah, we saw like these beautiful reds and yellows. And it was really cool to go hiking up in the mountains, but I guess really hills because this is Napa Valley. So we're centered between two hills and go hiking through the hills. You see the views of all the leaves changing and it's chilly at night. So we had a fire pit going the other night and roasted some marshmallows and so yeah, for the longest, or for the first time in a long time it It feels like the holidays.

Chloe Condon  7:24
Yeah, I love it. I'm going to share a festive holiday thing real quick, which is Clippy Claus? No, I'm just that I had open. someone tweeted at me earlier. Some information Brandon that I think is festive and important for us to understand. Did you know that there is a German version of Clippy called Carl clamor? Because this is tweeted at me right before the stream and I think it's important to share that Carl clamor is the German version of Clippy today learned this is just a fun fact.

Brandon Minnick  8:07
So is it the same is Carl clammers. Still the paperclip with the eyeballs, the same Clippy we know and love? Just different name?

Chloe Condon  8:15
I believe. So but that is a good question. Because there is no image here. What if it is doing something particularly German? I don't know. We will. We will have to. We'll have to ask our friend who tweeted this at me. But I'm super excited for yesterday, Brandon, because I okay, so quick, quick side note. It is rare. I went on Twitter. I never liked anybody. I never liked to make anybody feel stupid or talk down or like kindness, always kindness always. And I don't necessarily think that this tweet was meant maliciously. But I recently had tweeted some some stuff out about being a non traditional background engineer. And I had a comment on a tweet that is that is made up brought up some very interesting conversations. Now I'll preface this by saying I am a woman online on twitter.com. It is very rare that I will confidently quote retweet someone, I'm told them that they're wrong. But I believe very strongly in this. And I think our guest today does as well. So here's the tweet. So I let me give a little context here. This started on a thread that I had posted earlier in the week. That's kind of a joke but also true that that was basically saying that folks have opinions on Junior engineers with non traditional or self taught backgrounds not belonging in tech are basically like Herbalife to me, and that they are making claims not backed by data annoying and having my dad's all the time demanding my attention and toxic as someone with a non traditional background. This is an argument that I have to face all the time. I'm used to it. I go on and on in this thread here about you know the importance of how difficult it is the nature of the industry. And why it's important to mentor folks but this comment stuck out to me. And very here which which was on a quote retreat about this awesome person who is like we once hired a former barista on our DevOps team or department always had epic coffee. This comment just didn't sit well with me, it said depends a bit on what you're what tech you're talking about when doing machine learning for cancer recognition on medical images. I am sorry, but I don't believe baristas will crack it. No, Brandon. I'm no AI ml expert, but I have dabbled a little bit in it. And I strongly disagree with this opinion. So. And I love the responses that I've been getting on this tweet. There's some really cool comments from people saying like, hey, former professional bass player former like really, really cool stories here. We have a rabbi, Rabbi Michael Cohen here, chime in, in the comments, some really cool discussions happening here. And I thought that the timing on this tweet was really fun and interesting, because we have a really amazing guest today. Who, oh, my goodness, where do we begin? Brandon? Where do we begin? We're gonna let we're gonna let them introduce themselves. But um, this person has been at Microsoft 23 years, if you can believe has seen it all has worked on many, many different teams done different things. Brandon, what you you lead us and you lead me? How do I introduce so many things to say?

Brandon Minnick  11:27
Yeah, just one of the one of the best people at at the company. He's like you said he's been here. 23 years. Here's this amazing background, amazing story, which we'll get to share with everybody in the world today and just couldn't be a kinder human. So thanks so much for coming on the show.

Chloe Condon  11:46
For every guest today

Carmen Crincoli  11:50
I'm fidgeting like I always do, like I just pick up things around the house. And I have like an extension cord, and I'm fidgeting here. So I don't have an ankle bracelet. But I can wear it like one.

Chloe Condon  11:59
With the stress spread.

Carmen, we have a lot we're gonna talk about today, obviously, in a second. But for folks joining us at home, well, we'll go through getting tired. This is your life journey on how you got to where you're at today at Microsoft. But tell the lovely folks at home, who you are what you do. Sure, my

Carmen Crincoli  12:21
name is Carmen Kohli. I am a Senior Program Manager in the Azure division. I actually work on our On-Prem / Hybrid solutions. So I do customer facing engineering engagement for Azure Stack HCI, and APIs on Azure Stack HCI. And a bunch of our other on prem OS work. Hybrid work. Yeah, and I've kind of been in the windows side of, of Microsoft since since I started I just, I kind of love windows,

Chloe Condon  12:58
first of all, amazing hat at all. I have a question for any

Carmen Crincoli  13:05
credit to my wife on this, she she got the fascinator for our dogs. And I'm like, That's mine. No,

Chloe Condon  13:10
I love it. It's perfect. I love her straight up. Question for you. If you talk to yourself, let's see, when was this back in 9697, maybe a month or two for you worked at Microsoft, and you told yourself then Yo, this is going to be your job. I'm from the future, believe me, would you have believed Carmine?

Carmen Crincoli  13:31
Oh, gosh, no. I mean, I did. I wouldn't have believed myself after I'd been at Microsoft for several years. Now, you know, I the idea. Like, I feel like the idea of like a lifetime career at one company was dead before I ever even got into the workforce. Right. Like, you know, I'm, you know, by the early 90s, you know, the only people who worked all their lives at one place were like, people who work for like GE and IBM, and they stopped doing that. Right. So, you know, typical Gen X, you know, entering the workforce, and, you know, looking at the prospect of Okay, well, you're just going to career hop, no one has a lifetime career. And that was true. Even years after I joined the company. I I felt like, you know, if I can make it to five years, I can I can, you know, turn five years at Microsoft into a career anywhere else. And I don't have to worry about my credentials, because my credentials will be. Well, I spent five years at Microsoft. So to be you know, almost 25 years is like, Yeah, I just wouldn't have even imagined it.

Chloe Condon  14:38
Yeah, and what a journey. It's been so for let's let's start at the beginning.

Brandon Minnick  14:44
Just go back.

Chloe Condon  14:48
Go back, Marty. We're getting to the fun part.

Right. So let's go to like the month before you

Carmen Crincoli  14:54
What are you doing? I, uh, I was literally working at a gas station in New Jersey pumping gas, because in New Jersey, every gas station is full service, you're not allowed to pump your own gas. So it's a legitimate job. And studying for MCs exams and hanging out at night on IRC chatting with my friends about hockey. and wondering what I was going to do in the future, like I was messing with computers, because I loved computers since I was a kid. But like, I didn't legitimately know that I'd have a career because I didn't, I wasn't in college, I wasn't going to college. And I didn't think you could get into computers as a career without a CS degree or something, you know, programming. And it wasn't really a career at that point. Like it was just really kind of starting up. So I didn't have the, it just didn't have the concept of you know, how I would be in computers without a degree and I wasn't like dying to go to college or anything. So it was just computers and, you know, pumping gas and, you know, hanging out with friends. And one of my friends on IRC, who, you know, was there to talk about hockey, not computers, was like, Hey, I work for Microsoft, and you have some exams that even folks here don't have, would you be interested in interviewing? And you know, would you work at Microsoft? And I'm like, I pump gas at a gas station. Of course, I would like to work from like, yes, yes, of course, I would like, please, if you can get me an interview, like, Oh, my God, that would be amazing. Never in a million years occurred to me, it would actually happen. Because I mean, you know, I mean, how how, how wishful Do you have to be right? So but that's, you know, that's kind of where the journey started.

Brandon Minnick  16:45
And you mentioned already did drop the drop the drop? I remember the acronym, what was the you mentioned, your do some certification tests, MC se,

Carmen Crincoli  16:56
yeah, the Microsoft Certified systems engineer. So it's like the, the higher level of the Certified Professional program had the time this was 24, you had to have six different, you had to pass six different MCP exams from a, you know, a slate of like 12, or 14 or whatever. So I, I taken the six of them, which was not insignificant because the tests cost money. So you know, and then failing them, you know, costing more money. So, so I took those on on my own. And, yeah, I gotten the exam. And most critically, the one that sticks out in my mind is I got the TCP IP, I passed the TCP IP test, which was a notoriously difficult exam. in that era, people really struggled with that one, even inside of tech support at Microsoft. So when I came in, and I interviewed I literally had like three of the different interviewers being like, I haven't passed that one yet. That's pretty good. Job.


Chloe Condon  18:03
I love that. So like, literally you. This is so interesting, too, because I should have shared this earlier, Brandon, Oh, my gosh, I forgot to share this. I was I've started this new show, Cameron called The show must go off parentheses, the air. And the whole point is to get our friend PJ a job relations. And we went through a job description, sidebar kind of being like, what are the gaps that we need to fill in PJ's education? He's a high school teacher who teaches English? What do we need to fill in here? And we went through a job description from I believe, one from air table, one from notion. And he had all the skills on each bullet point like we were fully expected, like, okay, surely there must be something here. And of course, there was one that said, you know, four years and in four plus years in technology, but even I don't think I filled that. And it was a role that I had been reached out for. So I think that's really important to note to anybody out there who's making a career transition, or maybe sees a job description and doesn't check off all the boxes that oftentimes we're way more qualified than we think we are for different roles. Or we don't even know that those roles exist out there. Like I certainly didn't developer advocacy was the thing five years ago, and here I am.

Brandon Minnick  19:19
And, and I find even on top of that, when companies post the the job openings, they're kind of posting their their wish list their stretch goals. And I've met a lot of people who vote even apply for a job because they look at the most, but in quotes, requirements and say, Oh, I don't even qualify for that this person, they need somebody with five years experience and I only have two. And it's like, No, just just go for it. And I mean, in reality, like what is the difference between five years and two years? Is it really gonna make or break like, either know it or you don't? And so, yeah, don't don't also feel discouraged. If you don't fit everything, because chances are, you're totally qualified for the job. They're just kind of putting their their dream candidate out there who probably doesn't even exist.

Chloe Condon  20:13
And I love Carmen, you work with the candidate? And like, I feel like have you not? It's one of those happenstance things right right place right time you knew this person on the IRC channel. But imagine the path not. It's all kind of based on circumstances, I think that's such a wonderful example of how folks different backgrounds can bring value.

Carmen Crincoli  20:36
Okay, no, and that was very much true of Microsoft tech support in in that era in particular, like, so many of the people in tech support in Redmond that I, that's where I started, are still with the company. Now, 23 years later, like people who were there before me, people who I helped hire in the ensuing few years, still with the company now. And all of them had the same kind of background like Microsoft was absolutely willing to give you a full time job, if you could do the technical requirements of the job. And your credentials didn't matter so much as one had the customer service skills to actually do what you needed to do as a tech support person. And two, you could you could learn well, right? Like, you got a trial period. And if you adapted well, and you learn the new technologies, and a new release came along, you did well, you know, you prove yourself and that you got a job. And to my absolute best friends in the entire world are with the company almost as long as me like, you know, within a year or two, the same story, they don't have degrees, they've advanced through the ranks, they are, you know, lead projects, they are, you know, senior developers. And but like, you know, that's the, the career that Microsoft led me into. It's one of the reasons I've stayed as long as I as I have a tremendous amount of loyalty to the company for giving me these opportunities. And then a second, my foot was in the door, and I proved myself. There is no question of your like, credentials, like no one looks backwards anymore. They're like, yeah, who cares? What you what you're learning. none of it matters. It's like, Oh, you did that? That project? Great. I want you on my team. And you know, you never had to think about it ever again. You're in?

Chloe Condon  22:20
I'm so glad that's the case. Because if if some of my hiring managers saw the weird theater classes, I had to take me rethink

Brandon Minnick  22:29
it also in the in the comments here on nerd TV. So if you're, if you're not joining us on their TV yet, you can go to aka.ms slash learn TV. But yeah, Christopher Terry shared with us that he did DevOps for about five years before he even knew the word DevOps. And sometimes, you're already doing the job, you just don't necessarily know the buzzword yet. So

Chloe Condon  22:53
like, I feel like a lot of folks who end up working in developer relations are like, Oh, I woke up one day, and I realized I was doing a lot of community work and decided to do this. So yeah, I could not agree more. I love this comment, when you don't have a degree. But you know, this stuff. I think it shows you don't need to be led by the hand to accomplish things. could not agree more. I think that's such a great, great comment there. So this, so listen about Microsoft back in the day. What was it like to be a technical support person back in the day at Microsoft? I imagine we're not doing email support. I imagine we're probably doing phone support.

Carmen Crincoli  23:32
Yep. Yep. I was hired literally to answer the phones. Part of my initial round of training was like, you know how to manage like the signing and do the queues and taking calls. And it was I was hired literally for end user support. This wasn't like premier support supporting enterprises like I, I took calls from, you know, anyone who dialed the 800 number to get support from Microsoft for Windows 95. I was literally hired for the Internet Explorer for launch. And then in preparation for Windows 98. So IE four was not a fun launch. Active active desktop broke everything. If there anyone who remembers all the way back then. Yeah, like sign into the queue, take phone calls. You know, part of what what had us had this conversation you'd bite me on was I posted a story from one of my very early days, where I answered the phone and I got a I literally got a call from a Baptist minister in Alabama, who started off the call by saying he wanted to complain that Microsoft was promoting the occult, and I was like, What do you mean? He's like, well, you use wizards everywhere. And I know Yeah. Just as a reflex right, I left because I thought he was messing with me and he was gonna say, you know, my system won't boot or my start button disappeared, right like the calls that happened on frontline support and he got really quiet. He got like, he got upset. He was like, I'm really serious. Like, you know, wizards are promoting the occult. And I just had to sit there and let him let him lecture me about, you know, about these things. And I promised to take that feedback to the engineers who were responsible for it. And I mean, I did what was required of me there. But like, you know, was one of like, 1000 stories when you're taking end user support, particularly for someone like Microsoft, right? Like we had users, just all walks of life, just everyone used windows 95. At that era, there was that was the technology, right? So you got all kinds of all kinds of interesting, fascinating experiences, although I didn't actually stay on the phone lines for long, because my managers quickly recognized that I'm pretty even keeled. And they're like, okay, and I was pretty good at what I was doing. They're like, okay, you're, you're doing well enough. Now we need people to take escalations. And we need people to handle upset customers. So they assigned me the angry customer escalations. So my job for the launches of these products was to take the people like called up screaming, and we'd promise to call them back, and then they would send them to me, and I had to call back the screaming person. And then that was considered a promotion. Yeah, as a matter of fact.

Chloe Condon  26:26
So funny that you say that, Carmen, because in my previous life, pre engineering, I actually worked as a customer support representative at kixeye, the gaming company, which was a rival to Zynga, and all those Farmville games, and I got a promotion to VIP customer support, which was dealing with what we call in the industry, whales, which is anybody who spends $30,000, and above on a game. And I think, and we did email support. So I bow to you, as someone on phone support, like, you don't have to do as much acting when when you're doing an email. Luckily, you can do a lot more pre formatted responses. But I did learn so so so so much, before I even knew what engineering was, how important it is to empathize with the customer, to speak with the customer to relay that information to engineers, I didn't even know what the engineer said. But I knew it was important that that information got to them. And I wish everyone and engineering had to work in customer support for like a year. I think it's a four year degree for computer science, if people are going to be so stingy about having this degree.

Carmen Crincoli  27:32
I agree that I think there's no no better experience for them than having to work with a customer. And just learning learning how to do that empathy part, because your life in support gets a lot easier if you are truly empathetic to the customer. And then also, at the same time, communicate your needs back, right, like, you know, you can, you can understand why someone's that upset and let them be upset and then be like, okay, but I, this is what we need to do to fix things for you. And, you know, this is just what we're going to have to do. Like, it's, I'm not saying it's easy, it's a very difficult thing to do. And you it's very draining when you're dealing with very upset people, but it's such an important thing in your career. And honestly, it translates into a lot of other scenarios, right, like, taking that customer skill and translating it into a pissed off VP. Like, it's good for your career, learn how to do it, it translates outside of just customers, but also your co workers and getting the results you want in a workplace environment. Yeah,

Brandon Minnick  28:31
definitely. And just to round out the trifecta, my first real job in tech was also working in customer support lives. I did, yeah. Working in it was actually at for Walt Disney World. So there it company. And yeah, just fielding tickets all day. And nobody really calls it tech support with with good news. Yeah, you're just getting yelled at all the time and told like the websites so bad, you guys don't have to do your jobs. And I will say the my biggest takeaway, adding into everything we've said so far is also it taught me not to make assumptions or jump to conclusions, because everybody uses words differently. And if somebody might say, might be describing what's happening, and I'm interpreting it, and I'm totally getting it wrong. And so one of the problems I had was, yeah, just essentially jumping to a conclusion that Oh, I know exactly what you're talking about. I know exactly how to fix it. And then we start going down, working on the fix together, maybe they're sharing their screen, maybe I'm remoted into their their desktop and all of a sudden, like, what, why are you? Why are you there? Why are you in Internet Explorer. The problems in the File Explorer is like oh, I should have asked a couple more questions. And it's actually, it's honestly still something I struggle with today, especially when everything's just typed out. You know, if you're answering GitHub issues or emailing with folks just to really drill down into it, I like to take a lot of screenshots now, like, if ever putting together a workshop, it's always a lot of Texas says, dude, this, this and this, and that a screenshot with boxes and arrows like, click this button right here. And so there's, there's no mixing communications. And and yeah, I totally agree that if every engineer had to work in test tech support customer support, the tech world would be a lot better place a lot, a lot more empathetic, at least,

Carmen Crincoli  30:45
you did identify actually on circley.

Chloe Condon  30:47
Go ahead.

Carmen Crincoli  30:48
I did you did to just identify a thing that I don't think about anymore, but is what made that that support experience so challenging, which is it was 1997, most of the computers in the world weren't on the internet. And even if they were there was no such thing as screen sharing. So you could only do troubleshooting by relying on the person on the other end of a telephone line accurately describing what the problem was. So you had to be very good at descriptive language to get people to the steps that they needed to do, you had to spell everything out, you had to describe exactly on the screen where things were like it, it really did force you into a place of taking a visual thing and turning them into abstract words that other people can understand and follow the directions very well, which is one of the challenges of it like it as someone who could only work visually would have a very difficult time with with phone support for that I

Chloe Condon  31:48
literally do this with my father, I literally have a screenshot here of trying to figure out it's so funny that you mentioned that story earlier, Brandon, because I was on the phone with my dad last week. And he was like, there's this blue thing and it says charts and it's in the way and I'm trying to debug this thing for my dad. And the whole time I'm thinking it's in like edge or something or chrome or a browser Safari because and and it was a Word doc, I was trying to debug like you asking the right questions, being able to say like, Okay, so what is your issue? What are you looking at, like, I empathize. Oh, my goodness, not being able to screen share. It's, it's truly an art to figure out what the actual issue is. But I have a question for you, Brandon. That'll segue us into a question. I definitely want. I was recently on hold with Disney Land because I had to get a refund on a ticket. And they had some bangers plan on the hold music. I could, April can attest to this because we also she also had to call this number and they were playing Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers. They were playing some good hits on this channel. Now, a Brandon, did you have cool hold music when you worked in phone support. Which segues us into a very important question for Cameron, which is tell us about phone support. But first?

Brandon Minnick  33:13
Yeah, I

have no idea I, I don't think I ever called tech support. I just answered the phone on the other end. Or because I was in it. I could just go to the next cubicle and be like, hey, Phil, how do I do this? But uh,

Chloe Condon  33:30
and their music slaps truly. playlist and you're just like, I don't know what to listen to all I could just call Disney and ask to be put on hold true.

Brandon Minnick  33:41
Just put me back on hold, please.

Chloe Condon  33:43
But Carmen and I shall say it's a diverse set of music. We're talking move on. We're talking 80s Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers. We're talking the whole so Carvin, I have heard some tales about what it was like to be on hold during this time. Tell us a little bit about the special time.

Carmen Crincoli  34:01
Yeah, there. There was a there was an actual job at Microsoft in phone support. In the 90s. Like, I think it only stopped in the early 2000s even called the queue jockey like like a line like queue waiting queue. And the queue jockeys job during busy periods when phone support, you know, lines were really long was to play music for the people on hold. And then you know, in between songs get on and tell people about the wait times for the different queues like you know, if you're waiting for, you know, word support, there's any currently an 18 minute wait with six people in the queue, right, that kind of thing. And they would literally broadcast to everyone on hold throughout the Microsoft support system. And it was an actual job. And there was an actual broadcast booth in one of the offices is in the support buildings here in Redmond. That did it for all of our support lines, like, you know, we have support centers in Charlotte, North Carolina and las colinas, and Texas and there were some outsourcing places, but everyone was tied into the same global support queue. So the queue jockey would spin music and get on hold and tell stories and talk to people. And it was just part of your whole experience to try and make sure people like, didn't just have the music experience of, you know, waiting on hold and listening to generic music. And it was there it was, you know, you could walk in it was just like, it looked like any other office from the outside and then you walked in and there was just like a full bright booth and one of the generic Microsoft offices in one of our buildings. And we actually hired like, like actual DJs from local radio stations to do that, right. Like they brought him in as, like, you know, this temporary cue jockeys under contract and they were there for a few hours, it was typically only around launches when it was necessary or really better busy times of the day. It wasn't like 20 473 65 but yeah, there you go. You get one of the articles.

Chloe Condon  36:09
I love this quote that says, Microsoft says 80% of calls are answered in less than one minute but for those who must wait longer, some weights have been as long as 20 minutes well, Microsoft turns to cue jockey to keep the masses patient when they aren't making travel report huge is full of phone lines with music that ranges from old to pop to rhythm and blues and light pop but they do have their limits no AC DC I love this. Oh my gosh. I Okay, first of all, we gotta bring this back.

Brandon Minnick  36:44
Hashtag bring back the cue Jackie.

Carmen Crincoli  36:46
I've got I know a lot of people who would be fighting for that job

Brandon Minnick  36:51
haidee in the comments said I would be great at that. Michael he says yeah, bring it back. Like we Why don't we have a cue Jackie anymore?

Chloe Condon  37:00
Yeah, I want to call Microsoft support right now and see what the queue hold music is. I might do this at some point during there. Truly, anybody out there hiring for that team Brandon? This is our demo reel is the show

Carmen Crincoli  37:18
that would be great. Right like it like legitimately that would be fantastic right? Because people would get to be like entertained and maybe learn some interesting things about technology and something interesting to listen to other than just like you know music right like I that's a fantastic idea

Chloe Condon  37:34
isn't it?

Brandon Minnick  37:35
Yeah or you can even you can even outsource it like you could have a que Jackie company that does the whole music for all these other companies and yes, I guess it's good just entertain the folks maybe maybe do quizzes maybe do like polls this would be this would revolutionize game I would want to call customer support now.

Chloe Condon  37:59
You could give it a like and be like if you want to watch live as I bring back to jockey hashtag rigger back I love this comment in our chat here. That's crazy. I did in the early rave scene so I thought I knew a lot about DJs never heard of that job and oh my god that sounds like the best daytime office job yes like this is peak best job couldn't agree more.

Carmen Crincoli  38:25
I talked to one of the queue jockeys like this right when I started they're like they literally said like you know it's a great way to spend like a three o'clock on a Tuesday right like you know if you have like you know a morning shift or late night shift as a as a DJ right like coming in and just kind of spinning music and chatting with people and reading off some hold times they they legitimately loved what they were doing.

Chloe Condon  38:48
You know, bro

hashtag bring back the cue jockey shirts will be in the merch the non existent merch store tonight. So thank you. So what let's let's get into the rest of your career here at Microsoft because obviously you didn't stay in support. First question before we leave this this time in your life at Microsoft. What are some of your favorite more obscure maybe bizarre products that you have to support any fun?

Carmen Crincoli  39:23
Oh, well, you know what, the one that I always think of when they asked about the strangest thing is absolutely the Barney acclimates doll. Yeah, because it for anyone who doesn't know but the Barney activate stall was basically like an animatronic doll like like think like Teddy Ruxpin or like one of those old things except that it actually interacted with software that installed on your Windows 95 machine. And the software actually included a virtual device driver, which means it would occasionally cause things like blue screens which you know, if you remember the windows 95 era, not uncommon thing. And because of that, like you didn't, we didn't just hand it off to regular, like consumer support where you do things, some of them would come into the operating systems team. And because that was one of the things I did, I would have to take a Barney acclimates call because, you know, literally one of my impressions, right, because I had to work Christmas Day 1997 in the phone queues because I was new, right? Like, I'd only been at the company for a few months. So you get you get assigned that duty. So everyone's going in under their under their Christmas tree and kids are opening things up and they're installing the bar deactivate software and it's blue screening their computer calling tech support. Right. So that was my my Christmas Day. 1997 was was taking Barney calls for even though like I was like, you know, he had certifications for Windows NT on TCP IP. And I'm like, yep, unplugged Barney now. Unplug Barney and reboot. Let's go into safe mode.

Chloe Condon  40:58
I remember this display in Toys R Us. I truly remember Barbie Barney. I hooked. I wish there was a Barbie activates Barney activates back, bring it back. Bring back Barney activates bring back. I knew about the existence of Barney activates from a video. I think Larry Osterman that that misty did. But I recently saw on Twitter, I think it was on on the tweet thread that we were on where someone said that the Barney had, that they had set the alarm for the night and they were all going home. But then one of the activates Barney came to life. And they had to go back and reset the burglar alarm at HQ, which I just love when any toy activates an alarm. It's very cool. Yeah, for me.

Carmen Crincoli  41:44
I think the Barney had like light sensors. So you could play like a peekaboo game with it if you covered its eyes. So turning off the office lights, like could active like putting it into the dark. Blue.

Chloe Condon  41:58
Terrifying, absolutely terrifying. Okay, but where did you go? How did you get from point A to point B, let's go through this middle part here from working the phones to what you do now how did we get this junk here agreements.

Carmen Crincoli  42:14
I mean, it's just that's sort of the nature of working at Microsoft is you can kind of go do the things you're interested in doing right? So I took my support. And then I went into enterprise support. And then I kind of got assigned to work with some hardware companies. And I came back and I did escalations with partners for a while. And then I was like, I knew I just wanted to change, I wanted to, like, you know, move my career along. And I felt like that sport was a dead end for me. But like, I've been doing it for almost 10 years at that point, right? Like that was I'd already had a significant amount of time. And I was like, let me go do something different. And I actually moved into sales, and I stayed at the company, but I moved into sales and moved back to the east coast for several years and worked in technical sales on the East Coast for a while. And then I was like, Okay, I'm pretty good at sales. But also I don't like it. It's not my personality. It just, it didn't feel as good as doing engineering to me, like, you know, day to day, even though I was quite successful at it. So I flipped over and it's like, okay, I want to go back in engineering, and I took an engineering job, and it gave me the opportunity to move back to Seattle and, you know, hopped around different roles here. It's one of the things that has kept me from even investigating leaving the company is you just don't, you don't have to, if you don't want to like if you want to go to a different job, or a different role, all you have to do is brush up on it, get to know some people in that group, wait for the job opportunities, come up and start interviewing for them. And chances are good if you you know, actually you're doing the work and learning the things that you need. They're going to be interested in, in you for one of their roles eventually, because you will know how Microsoft works, you will know their space, they will recognize you you just have so many opportunities to jump roles. I know so many people who you know, have gone from support into Xbox into office into surface like you can just jump to a different role as long as you you know, have some of the relevant knowledge that the the job needs. So it's just it feels like endless opportunity here. I'm really had no, you know, deep desire to go somewhere else for the most part.

Chloe Condon  44:32
Yeah. And that is kind of like the magic of a company that does so many things I would imagine like a giant company. That's what is always fascinating to me when I have folks reach out to me and they say hey, I'd love to work at Microsoft. I go great. What team? It's like, can you refer me to Microsoft? Yes. What do you like? What do you work on? What technology do you use? Do you like Xbox? Do you like LinkedIn? Do you like GitHub Do you like there's so many different flavors and Brian is, and what I love to see here internally at Microsoft is folks totally switch career paths. Like, we have people who are always joining our team or going to other teams and exploring different opportunities with this kind of the Viva tech, right. Like, you have so many different avenues to explore.

Carmen Crincoli  45:16
I mean, I even know I even know people who've gone from being, you know, admin assistants to being program managers, right. Like, the The point is, is once you're you're in and you can start demonstrating the skills and you show an interest in learning it, you can, you have the opportunity to prove it and get a job and, and move paths. So like, you know, you can be a pm and one part of your career and a Devin and other and a salesperson in another and you just don't have to leave, no one's going to shoehorn you and say, listen, your, your last five years have been a dev, I'm not convinced that you could do another role. That's never the way it's worked there in all my time. Ah,

Brandon Minnick  45:55
yeah, something that I really enjoy is, if you spot a problem, or if you spot a gap that exists, and you know how to fix it, you can just go do it. And so there's a there's a lot of companies I've worked at where all I'll point this out and say, Hey, you know, we really need somebody to do this, or there's a gap in we don't have a post sales, customer support or something like that. And they've been like, yep, you're right, we should we should hire for that we should open up a job role. And then maybe six months later, they get somebody. And that's even if you've convinced them to do all that overhead. Most times, they'll just ignore it. But yeah, at Microsoft, I go to my manager and say, hey, there's this cool opportunity right here. I think we can make this better by doing X, Y and Z. We'll just say, Okay, great. Yeah, go do it. And let me know how it goes. And you have that we get that freedom to explore a bit that I haven't really found with too many other companies

Carmen Crincoli  46:57

a complimentary part to that too. And that's always been true. You know, it's not universal, because it's individual by individual, but it's pretty true. is Microsoft is very good about what you have. You're using any Microsoft technology, you can go figure out who's making that technology and ask them questions about it. And they will probably answer you in most scenarios. But there's never a scenario where I know it's true. And many other companies where you're told like, Listen, you don't work on that stay in your lane. Yeah, don't bother me about the bug that you've found. Where is it Microsoft, like, this has been all my time here. Like, if I am using some random thing, I will go into the the global address list in Outlook. And I will go find a distribution list that seems like to have a likely name. That'd be like, Hey, who owns this feature? Because it's driving me crazy. And it's broken? And they're like, Well, you know, and I'm like, No, no, who owns it? Right? Like, I'm a user, I'm also at the company, you like, you need to engage with me, I'm gonna you can't just ignore me, like if you have a different channel for it great. But like, you don't get to ignore a user and a fellow employee trying to make your product better. And it's always gone well, like you, it's very rare that you will get someone be like, Listen, don't bother me. Like, it's just not not the way it works here. You can the openness internally is really great. And like one of the things that I'm very happy with since Satya took over is that we've been extending that externally as well. Right? The ability to, to feel it make our customers feel like they can engage with us about our products in a meaningful fashion. And, you know, openness standpoint is really, really fantastic.

Chloe Condon  48:41
Well, I have a question for y'all. And I promise this as a point. Do either of you know the story of how flaming hot cheetos came to be a thing?

Brandon Minnick  48:51

Chloe Condon  48:52
yeah. I'm going to educate everyone on the stream because I recently learned this story from a coworker. Shout out to Tim. So I'm gonna share my screen. So story of flamin Hot Cheetos reminds me a lot of the conversation that we're having today because the origin story for flamin Hot Cheetos literally came from a janitor who heard a call to action from the CEO of what would it be free to lay here I'll share it. I just learned by searching this that Eva Longoria is making a movie of this.

Carmen Crincoli  49:25

Chloe Condon  49:26
OPEC, but yeah, this really awesome dude. Richard was 10 years. He, this isn't a great image here. They're making a movie. He was a janitor at Frito Lay and he did an experiment with chili powder. And he literally This is a fascinating story. I highly, highly recommend that folks. Read it in detail because I will not do it justice. But essentially, the CEO put out a call to action that said we want inventive, new, cool, interesting things and he called him up and the story goes on from there. So the amount of impact that you have doesn't matter. your level of experience your level in the company, anybody can have a good idea. And super glad that that janitor piped up because I was at Cheetos. And I think this is such a full circle moment because there was a trash tweet that I quote retweeted. That said Junior engineers should have to be code janitors. And I strongly disagree with that. I think that Junior engineers should not have to clean up the messes of more senior engineers. And janitors are very impactful smart people. So don't talk that way about Junior engineers, everyone, but I think it just goes to show like truly be what you do before. x, whatever that career is making flamin Hot Cheetos. We're gonna Microsoft totally doable.

Brandon Minnick  50:48
I think if I remember correctly, he's now a VP. Yeah, so he stormed through the ranks didn't just didn't just give away the idea and continue on with his janitorial. janitorial day job. He, yeah, he took the idea. He ran with it. And I think it's their most popular flavor. It's the most popular flavor.

Chloe Condon  51:09

Brandon Minnick  51:11
It's Cheetos raining down on top of me.

Chloe Condon  51:15
Yeah, but literally, everyone, I highly recommend checking this out. I'll drop it in the chat. But it is a really amazing story about how a very simple idea I think he literally he had never given a presentation before when he presented this to the Frito Lay board and he had his wife You know, zip up all these baggies. So like, things are achievable. Like truly like so he called the CEO. I love this conversation. Who is this? What division are you with? You're overseeing California? No, I work at the plant. No, I'm the janitor, like anybody.

Could be you

Brandon Minnick  51:52
even have in the comments. Honey Salaam says I'm currently a truck driver. Nine months ago, I decided to change careers. And they are self learning, Azure, AWS and GCP.

Chloe Condon  52:07
That's so cool. Share some projects with us. We'd love to hear what you're building. I one of my favorite Broadway actors was a truck driver, like discovered was used to sing in the truck and was discovered as a truck driver, one of the stars of the original Broadway cast lavner Fun fact.

Carmen Crincoli  52:26
One of the things that I'm pretty passionate about I talked about this a lot in internally, in particular, we're talking about like hiring and diversity, right is I recognize that my story does, it wouldn't be applicable for a lot of people, right? Like, I got that opportunity. Because I was I fit the mold of someone who they would hire right? Like, sure, I didn't have a college degree. And I worked at a gas station. But I was like, you know, a young white dude who, who knew some stuff about computers and was friends with a with another white dude work there. And the the chance that was taken on me, right has paid off for the company. But it's not the one that most companies would make for someone who did not look like me. And we you know, the opportunities that we miss out on hire people with brilliant ideas, because of of that kind of, you know, unexamined bias is just just tremendous, right? Like, just some so many smart people don't even get to the foot in the door to take that kind of opportunity to land a job on credentials. You know, if you're a minority or you're a woman, you have to work so much harder to credential yourself up to even get your foot in the door to get those opportunities to interview. And it's just so much so much wasted brainpower that you don't hire when you when you have that kind of attitude. And

Chloe Condon  53:54
I've been filtered by recruiting software

who, right then

I run into the team later back in the before times at a booth and they say apply to our role and I'm like I did yeah, it's a it's an industry built by people for people who've been educated a certain way. And it makes us so happy when we see folks like yourself, Carmen Brandon, a great ally with a CS degree let you into our cool people club. But I I tweeted this other day, like open a door for someone who this is harder for because it certainly was very difficult for me. You know, we're trying to open that door with PJ now to get him to join our special club. But I think you know, any way that you can help someone who doesn't look at sound like you get into this industry mentor, share information. Please, please, please. We love to see it. Amazing. Well, we have about five ish minutes left Carmen. First of all, where can people find you on the interwebs? Where should they go check out all your Your awesome stuff that you're doing and Sharon

Carmen Crincoli  55:03
I mean it's I'm I spend most of my my social media time on on Twitter. Yeah, you got my my handle down there. It's my full name Carmack and goalie. I would be worried I am not like, that's not my, my work count. I mean, I talk about computers a lot, because I've spent half my life at Microsoft, right? Like, I literally have nothing to talk about if I didn't talk about computers occasionally. But, but most of the time I'm there you know, being myself and, and sharing the things that I care about. And you know, largely that's my dogs.

Chloe Condon  55:38
Calling today I was like, This dog. I did not how was I not giving a follow up? We have to ask the most important question of the show, which we asked everyone on the show for no particular reason other than it just always comes up a favorite theme park and ride Carmen.

Carmen Crincoli  55:57
favourites the iPhone. Oh, man, I have not seen parking so long.

Chloe Condon  56:03
I mean, I am a et TTS adventure. Anything flying? Brandon's your coaster guy, I think. Yeah,

Brandon Minnick  56:12
I do love roller coasters. Although I also I think I love the interactive rides more so I would say the game at Disney where you shoot the targets and you get a permit?

Carmen Crincoli  56:24
Yeah, I think if I had to name a park, it would be Six Flags Great Adventure, just because that's where all of my childhood memories are in New Jersey. Right? Like that's just where where we would go when we had a free weekend or a day off or something.

Chloe Condon  56:37
Isn't that where they filmed the intro to step by step? I don't have like a wooden coaster there. I think that's true. I

Carmen Crincoli  56:43
will go there's a winged coaster there. I don't know if that's where they filmed that though. But that would make sense.

Although my favorite stories are of action Park, which, you know, is now becoming famous again. You know, class action Park, or Yes, you should watch it. It is it is tremendous. It is very difficult for me to emphasize how incredibly accurate everything everyone says about the attitude everyone had about action Park in New Jersey at the time, like it was just that is New Jersey in the 80s and 90s. If you ever was if you could ever wonder what it was like watch that documentary. Have you watched? I have

Chloe Condon  57:33
a viewing together?

Brandon Minnick  57:36
That'd be great. Coney Island vibes, like back in the day. Coney Island. No, no.

Carmen Crincoli  57:45
Think Like a Lord of the Flies with waterslides.

Brandon Minnick  57:50
Oh, no, I definitely have to watch this.

Carmen Crincoli  57:53
I mean, there's a reason that they titled The documentary class action Park.

Brandon Minnick  57:57
I was wondering about that. Right. So does that mean the lawsuit

Carmen Crincoli  58:01
or lots of them? You know, the multiple deaths? Oh, no. Oh, yeah. Yeah, no. I mean, it was a it was it was a unique time in in America.

Chloe Condon  58:14
Well, detailed soon on my twitch about Brandon. I live watching back. Casting.

Carmen Crincoli  58:21
I will be so excited for that.

Chloe Condon  58:24
You could be a guest.

Carmen Crincoli  58:28
Like maybe I give you firsthand anecdotes.

Chloe Condon  58:30
Oh my god. All right.

Stay tuned for that content. Super, super excited. Thank you again, for joining us today. Let's see. How should we this is our last one before the holidays. Brandon, how do we end? Like we got to end suspense Lee so people will come back and watch us come January. Let's see. Which was give him a teaser. What can people expect in 2021?

Brandon Minnick  58:58
I mean, more, obviously, more amazing guests. knows maybe what we'll have a q j. Hashtag. Bring back the Q j. You'll just have to come back and find out.

Chloe Condon  59:09
Maybe, I don't know, maybe Clippy will be a guest who knows? You'll have to tune in. We can't. We've said too much. But uh, thank you all again for joining and we'll see you in January.