#CultureFirst: Seb Pearce

The #CultureFirst series is a chance to showcase the team here at Culture Amp. We asked everyone a few questions which will give you an opportunity to get to know each of us a bit better.

Seb Pearce - Developer - Melbourne

Seb is a former ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher who turned his love of programming into a career in web development and is doing his first dev job with the CA engineering team.

Culture Amp: What can you do as a CAmper that you haven’t been able to do elsewhere?
Seb Pearce:
One of the frustrating things about language teaching was that I found I was more enthusiastic about learning and teaching languages than the students and even most of the other teachers. It was often hard to find someone who was really keen on the subject and was willing to explore it together. CA is the complete opposite – I’m surrounded by very passionate and talented people who are as excited as I am about what we do.

CA: Best day you’ve ever had at work (here or anywhere else)?
Creating my first pull request (finishing a bit of code that’s ready for others to review and merge into the codebase) was a pretty great feeling. I finally felt like I could say I’m officially a developer, something that’s taken years of self-study to accomplish.

CA: What do you geek out about outside from work?
I love learning languages and learning about their structure, but I’m a chronic dabbler. I’ve had a go at around 10 at least. Japanese is the only one I’ve had the motivation to stick with long term. I occasionally make online tools to help people with self-education and productivity. I like to support people who take responsibility for their own learning rather than hand it over to classes or teachers (good learners do this anyway, even while taking a class). I’ve been heavily into psychology, political philosophy and history for the last few years – I love trying to figure out what makes humans tick, how our brains fool us and why we form tribes. I read a fair bit about it and very occasionally write things. I’m also a music nerd. I’ve got years of unreleased music on my hard drive in the form of sketches, mostly 80s- and 90s-esque electronic stuff, but as I get older I'm drifting more towards jazz/blues/soul/funk/disco/RnB. Playing keyboard or programming drum machines is where most of my “where did the time go?” moments come from.

CA: What did you want to be when you grew up?
A magician. After that, a chemist (the kind that makes explosions).

CA: What is something about you not many people know?
 I can turn my feet backwards at a 270-degree angle.

CA: What’s on your playlist this week?
 When I heard Prince had passed away, I decided to go through his 39-album discography one by one. It’s turning out to be an excellent decision. At the moment I’m up to Purple Rain and life is good.

CA: Where would you go on an all expense paid trip tomorrow?
Scandinavia – every country, including Greenland and the Faroe and Svalbard Islands.

CA: What does culture first mean to you?
 Recognizing that your people/culture are your most valuable asset and leading in such a way that they feel the same – personally invested in and identified with the group. It means taking the (often dismal) expectation of what work/life should be like and raising the bar, and getting others on board. It’s choosing to be proactive about culture rather than defeatist. It can’t be enforced from the top down; like respect and trust, it has to be fostered. It’s impossible without good leadership.

CA: Do you have any startup / culture idols?
 I’m a fan of Seth Godin, who inspires every time he opens his mouth or picks up a pen. Also Derek Sivers, the programmer/musician and very unorthodox creator of CD Baby. Both are worth following, even if you’re not an entrepreneurial sort.

CA: What was the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
 “Discipline equals freedom.” It’s true on many levels – it’s not just the discipline to achieve your goals, or stay healthy, or resist doing things that leave you worse off. It’s also the discipline to stay curious and aware of how rich and interesting the world is, despite the petty frustrations and boring routine of everyday life. Or the discipline to act maturely, or to be patient with your family, or to stay humble, or to practice the fundamentals, or to put yourself in others’ shoes, or to fact-check your dearly-held opinions. It’s a reminder that your world grows bigger when you refuse to let your mind run on autopilot.

CA: If you could have one super power, what would it be?
 Mind-reading, but only if it’s the kind that you can turn off!

CA: You pick a magazine up to read – what is it?
 Something design-related, or something in Japanese. Preferably both – it’s a winning combo.

CA: What’s up next in your Netflix queue?
 I’m looking forward to Louis Theroux’s new doco, My Scientology Movie. Also can’t wait for David Brent: Life On The Road.

CA: If you could be a lead character in a movie, who would it be?
Phil Connors (Bill Murray’s character) in Groundhog Day. Would be nice to have the universe stop and wait for you to sort out all your nonsense.

CA: What was the first and last concert you attended?
 The first was Meatloaf, which I attended with my parents when I was six (and apparently observed that “he says f**k a lot, doesn’t he!”). The last was a Roy Orbison tribute concert… which I also attended with my mother. Umm…

CA: If you won the lottery what would you do first?
: Worry.

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