The board game enthusiast JQTNguyen first dabbled in web development as a hobby while waiting tables. After this pastime materialized into a real job, John became active in the Drupal community as an organizer for user groups and camps across the nation. Prior to entering fatherhood, he was a comicon panel moderator and served in three Extra Life campaigns with the “Brobots” to raise money for sick and injured kids, playing 24 consecutive hours of XCOM 2 each time. Now he’s an Onboarding Manager at Pantheon.
WebOps Wednesday AMA: John Q.T. Nguyen - Ask me about my Trading Card, Board Game Collection, what I’m reading this Comic Book Wednesday, or Anything Else!
Hey John! I always love seeing all of your boardgames in the background of Zoom calls.
I’m curious to hear about the unexpected ways in which waiting tables helped you become a good web developer. Any skills you never imagined would transfer?
Let’s review your Power Ratings. Is 0 high or low? because I think they are too low overall. I mean, agility? forget about it. You take notes on more subjects at the same time than like - anyone EVER at Pantheon.
I have issue with the power ratings on your playing card. If you can play XCOM 2 for 24 straight hours - that’s at least a 5 in Stamina - maybe even a 6 based on that stat alone.
Having worked with you for over a year, I think your intelligence is at least a 6, maybe a 7.
And if the Agility skill is about Agile Web Development - that should be a 10!!
Is there a spirit animal on the other side of this card? What is your spirit animal?
I think being in the service industry is a great way to prepare for any “real job”, and you pick up many skills that are applicable across the board, no matter where you end up. When you’re a server, you learn how to collaborate successfully in a team, deal with constant pressure (often from unreasonable and/or angry clientele), work under a time crunch, juggle competing priorities, and defuse volatile situations while keeping a smile on your face.
Specific to being a web developer, some things that may have transferred over directly are attention to detail in gathering requirements (“You have allergies? What kind? And how does your food need to be prepared?”) and identifying incongruity from what is requested vs. what is desired/actually needed for the situation (“You mentioned that you wanted something light and fresh today, but ordered the fish and chips. Can I make some other suggestions that you might like?”).
After that initial intake, in order to succeed, you’ll still need good communication skills, and that goes beyond simply just taking orders from the Customer and relaying them to the Kitchen. Even though the information may be more or less the same, the manner you present something in matters, how much and what details are conveyed matters, and the way you make people feel when you talk to them matters.
And, if you fall short in any of these areas, Food Service is relatively low stakes, so you don’t have to fret too much, and can just pick yourself up and immediately try again (and try do to better, all within the same shift!). Every day at work is continual and repeated trial by fire, but nothing you’ll lose sleep over. It was a lot of fun though! One of my most favorite jobs. I’m glad and feel fortunate that I got to do it, because the experiences I had are still paying dividends today, which is something I never anticipated at the time.
While I was a Technical Project Manager at Kalamuna, I wrote about some of this in a a Blog Post (Everything I Know About Project Management I Learned from Serving Lobsters). You can read some more about this there!
The Trading Card of myself is based on the Marvel Universe Series II collection distributed by Impel in 1991, so the Power Ratings are on a Super Hero Scale. I was motivated in part to do this because I hate pictures of myself, and this was a happy compromise.
It was also helpful in that having a small text box as a self-limiter for my Bio was useful, as I can be quite wordy (both in person and in written speech, as I tend to write the way I sound). I tried to mimic the writing format and style of the original cards, and have all the content on it be meaningful or significant.
All of the cards that served as the inspiration can be found here or also here. However, if you’re just interested in seeing how Power Ratings are defined, this blog post has a one-page version that’s easy to read:
But to answer your question directly, 0 is the lowest and 7 is the highest.
Fun Fact: I only really use five fingers to type (left thumb & index, and right thumb, index, & middle). I just have long, skinny Piano Fingers, so I’m able to stretch out and reach what I need. I can usually reach ~100 WPM if I’m trying really hard, and John in his prime could reach ~120-140 WPM speeds.
Unfortunately, the Agility category applies to the Entire Body, and not just my Fingers. If we’re going by the definition on the cards of “Ability to move the body with flexibility and coordination”, 3 is “Athletic” and 1 is “Below Normal”, I would say I am probably a 2. Although, frankly, I’m probably trending more towards 1.5, if that was an option, but this series dealt in Whole Numbers, so that’s what I went with…
Stamina is defined as the “Ability to sustain peak exertion before fatigue impairs performance”. The floor for 5 is to be able to sustain peak performance for at least a day, and I can tell you from firsthand experience that towards the end of those 24 Hour XCOM Campaigns, I was making very poor decisions and many mistakes.
If we were going strictly off XCOM playing capabilities, I would be a solid 4 (“able to sustain for several hours”), but since this is a Super Hero Scale, the intention is probably to gauge physical capacities, and not mental ones. I’ve been going in for Physical Therapy lately, so I was able to easily verify Strength, Speed, and Stamina using the equipment there.
Agility and Durability are a bit more subjective, so based on the images used on Power Ratings, I just asked myself “Do I think I would perform better than Aunt May?” (i.e: a little old lady who is probably 65+), which is the ceiling for a 1. My body is breaking down because Father Time is undefeated, but I don’t think I’m quite at that level yet.
For Intelligence, I took roughly two dozen Free Online Tests including all of the ones in this list. Afterward, I used the scale here, which was the best one I could find in terms of mapping to the Ratings from this series the best. From the list of tests, this was probably my favorite, although you have to give them your email to get the scores. Not on the list, this was definitely the most fun, but also frustrating at times, which was its own kind of “fun”.
Hey hey @JQTNguyen! I feel like we’ve spent a lot of time talking about our hobbies (or my lack of a board game hobby) so I’d love to hear a little bit about your time as an onboarding manager at Pantheon. What’s your favorite part of the job and what can be the most challenging?
I’m working on a project to measure collaboration. I think there is overlap in the attributes that make for good gaming collaborators. What are the attributes you value most highly in the people you either work or game with? Are their any attributes that you consider critical in work/games but don’t care about in the other?
When pressed to provide a Patronus in the past, I went with a Hippo. I was being forced on-the-spot, and it was the first thing to come to mind because it is a contraction of my favorite comic book series of all time, a Japanese series called Hajime no Ippo, so I guess that would be my Spirit Animal?
I am quite fond of the Sliding Penguin in the movie Fight Club though, and when I took the Pottermore Patronus Selector, I believe it gave me a Flying Squirrel.
I only produced a Back and not a Front, mostly because of time, but also because my Artistry Chops are somewhat limited. I’m good at Photoshopping and Sketching things out, but I have never been able to properly Ink any of my Drawings. You can see what the front of one of these cards looks like though!
That actually reminds me, I had some Bamf Stickers printed up recently as part of Sticker Mule’s $1 for 10 Deal, so I will retroactively say that an Ed McGuinness Bamf , specifically, is my Spirit Animal.
This 100%. And food service is a great place to learn that.
I happen to know that you have a skill in creating personalized XCOM characters for people you know. I know you had one for me, but do you have any characters created for other folks in the forum?
Yeah! I’m still interested in hearing your thoughts on the Crusoe Crew (also available via Amazon), if you’re ever able to play it with your Kidlets. It’s less a Board Game, and more a Cooperative Choose Your Own Adventure Book for up to 4 Players!
I have a background in instruction, and enjoy documentation and giving trainings as well, so I like working with people new to Pantheon to show them the ropes, help get them acclimated to the Pantheon WebOps Workflow, being there with them to see when everything clicks into place and the lightbulb goes off as they realize how easy everything is compared to a “traditional workflow”, and watching their minds get blown when they’re first introduced to Multidev.
Some of my favorite parts of being an Onboarding Manager revolve around the people I get to work with. The things Onboarding does overlap with a lot of different teams, so I get to interact with a lot of people internally and exposed to lots of interesting tidbits about the platform that I normally wouldn’t run into, and everyone is always super helpful in terms of knowledge sharing and collaboration.
That’s a good segue to one of the biggest challenges I had when I first started working at Pantheon: there’s sooooo much to know about the platform. I’ve had to work with situations, scenarios, and considerations that I never encountered during my life working at an Agency. I’m always learning new things about the platform and, since we’re constantly adding on new features, that’s going to continue to be the case. Since I don’t have to be an expert on everything, and just need to know enough to point our Customers in the right direction, that helps to alleviate this (although that doesn’t mean I won’t try to know ALL THE THINGS!!). It’s always fun to learn new stuff!
Prior to working at Pantheon, I created a Custom XCOM Character for everyone that I had ever worked with. I would typically have a Getting-to-Know-You Conversation when I first met my team member to learn a little more about them, and one of the questions I would always ask is what are their Favorite Colors? I would then use this information to 1) set their Calendar to that Color to make it a little more personalized and easier to find/use/whatever and 2) so that it could influence the creation of their XCOM Character.
Newfound Daddydom leading to much less XCOM Time is a major contributor to me not keeping up with this, so the only Pantheon Employees that are currently in my pool (aside from yourself) are ones with whom I have worked with in my Previous Lives in Agency Land and Higher Education-ville (see below). I wholly intend on adding all the Pantheors I have worked with to my XCOM Character Pool one day, but for now, I’m building up quite the backlog!
Love this! Thanks for sharing, John.
Thanks for sharing a little bit about yourself
I would love to learn more about the organization Brobots. How did you stumble across this organization? Guessing its Phoenix based? What a fun & awesome way to give back!