A Book Apart

Get to Know Jason Garber

Aug 10, 2020

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Portrait of author Jason Garber.

Up next in our Meet the Author series, we’re getting to know Jason Garber—author of Practical Pair Programming. He tells us about how his garden keeps him grounded, he shares the greatest gift his parents gave him, and explains how his commute has shaped him into a better designer.

ABA: What’s the first thing you do every morning to start your day on the right foot?

Jason Garber: Take the dog out, take a shower to wake up, eat a bowl of oatmeal, and try to spend an hour moving one project forward before checking email or Slack.

ABA: In your opinion, what should someone consider before starting out in web design / development?

JG: A person should assess their own patience and tenacity. Software development takes time to learn and get good at. You’ll spend a lot of time looking at errors and broken code, trying to figure out why it doesn’t work. If you’re fortunate enough to have a pair to share the problem, it’s less time-consuming and frustrating. But then of course working with another human so closely can take a lot of patience and tenacity, too!

ABA: Is there anyone you’re following the work of right now, who you’d recommend others pay attention to?

JG: Last year, I became much more intentional about diversifying my social media feed—and it’s changed a lot as a result. Tuning in to a wider range of voices—of women and people of color—highlights the struggles so many marginalized people encounter in tech. Ones I have never faced. Women are the past and future of programming, so I pay a lot of attention to their perspectives on technology.

ABA: What does the tech industry need more of? Less of?

JG: The tech industry needs more professionalism and less exceptionalism. I personally don’t want to have to put on a tie, but if dress would help us show each other more respect and empathy, then I’m all for it. The infighting and denigration on the HBO show Silicon Valley is hilarious, but doesn’t make for a happy, productive workplace.

Silicon Valley companies are always trying to hide behind the mystique of tech to get away with things other companies couldn’t. They need to be responsible, well-regulated, and taxed to make up for the jobs they automate away.

More work-life balance. I learned early in tech that there’s always another deadline, another bug to fix, and another marketing opportunity to be seized. Much over 40 hours and you’re enabling your company’s inefficiency and poor choices. I don’t always practice what I preach, but I don’t ask overtime from my employees.

ABA: In moments of self-doubt, how do you recharge and rally to keep going?

JG: I give the work a break and come back when I feel energy again, which is usually first thing in the morning.

ABA: Is there a fear or professional challenge that keeps you up at night? What is it?

JG: I find delegation to be the hardest thing about being a leader. I got to where I am by self-reliance, versatility, tenacity, a little luck, and sometimes short-circuiting an expensive process by letting it all swim around in my head and going with my gut. To be a force multiplier, a leader has to communicate their vision, divide up tasks, have people specialize, and trust other people’s competence and process. It’s a whole different skill set and doesn’t come easily! Struggles with this are usually what keep me up at night.

ABA: What tool, object, or ritual could you not live without to get you through a week?

JG: Häagen-Dazs is my religion, so I guess Lipitor gets me through a week?

ABA: Is there a piece of professional or life advice you’ve gotten that has always stuck with you? What is it?

JG: You can’t be good at everything all the time, so decide what success means for you and then go get it and don’t beat yourself up for all the other things you aren’t.

Also, don’t look down on other people because they’ve made different choices.


Learn more about all our authors—check out the rest of our Meet the Author series!



See what we did there? Sorry, we had to! Have you picked up your copy of Practical Pair Programming yet? This book will help you learn what pair programming is all about, and walk into your next pairing session confident and prepared for the adventure ahead. Add Expressive Design Systems to bring even more compassion to your design and save 10% (15% when you buy paperbacks & ebooks)!

Practical Pair Programming and Expressive Design Systems book cover images.