Leveling-up Pairing Skills with the Pear Conf Quarterly Read

Other than doing more pairing, there are not a lot of obvious ways to get better at working with a pair in any setting: pair programming, pair testing or pair design.

Indeed, what are the skills that matter if we talk about getting better at pairing? Obviously, there are the subject matter skills such as programming, testing and design, but how do you level up on empathy, listening and knowing how to trade off?

To be sure, these are basic communication skills, but there are different ways to approach them. For example, do you know how to apologize properly when you mess up with your pair? How about making sure that you are using the right pronoun for them?



To help Pears level up on these types of pairing skills, we’d like to introduce the Pear Conf Quarterly Read. Each quarter, we’ll post a short, scannable, easy-to-digest book that addresses these skills. This quarter, our book is “A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns” by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson.

Changing the reading experience
Nobody has time for the 300 page animal book anymore. Even if we do have them, chances are you dip into certain parts for a bit rather than read it end-to-end. Because of our changing reading habits, we’ve changed up the reading experience in 2 ways.

Once you purchase your Pear Conf quarterly read, an email will be sent to you allowing you to opt-in to a set of 3 email guides. These guides are automatically spaced apart over a few weeks and contain pointers back into the book as well some extra links for exploring. If you don’t want to purchase the book, the guides are available separately.

Each quarter, we’ll have a Pear Conf online meetup focusing on the issue handled by the chosen book. While we use the book as a starting point for an interactive session, there is no need to have read the book to get value out of the meetup.

Wanna try it?
As mentioned, our book this quarter is “A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns.”

There are two ways to purchase:
1. Buy the book from Appear Works and you’ll get an email to opt-in to our guides.
2. If you already have the book, but want to be “on the same page” (couldn’t help ourselves) it’s possible to purchase the guides separately.

This quarter’s meetup discussing the book is in August! Sign up for our mailing list to get more details and to be notified when tickets go on sale.

Do you know who your user is?

Are you on an engineering team with no access to a designer?

Photo by Jessica Rockowitz on Unsplash

On an engineering team, we tend to make the assumption that there’s always a designer. In reality, I’ve found that the opposite is often the case, but this doesn’t mean you can ignore design.

We typically equate design with photoshop and assets, but it’s not about that.

It’s about connecting users to the value you can bring them whether there is a UI or not.

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

I’ve developed a 1-day workshop to help engineering teams with limited access to designers find their own way to create value for their users. Here’s a what recent customer had to say:

“I manage an infrastructure team with no access to a designer or product manager. As a result, it’s a challenge for the team to conceptualize building with the end-user in mind. The Hypothesis workshop helped my team see more about our user in one day, than it ever has before. This has helped us to get started with incorporating user feedback in our process.”

Do you know who your user is?

emily-morter-8xAA0f9yQnE-unsplash (1)
Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

Download the persona toolkit I’ve developed and start your journey to bringing your users value.


During October, artists all over the world participate in project called Inktober. Every day, they post, in their channel of choice, a drawing done in ink.
There are some suggested prompts, but the drawing doesn’t have to be from the prompt, in fact it doesn’t have to be that great or that finished either. Sure there are artists posting amazing works they’ve just whipped up, because they are, after all, professional artists.
There are plenty of other folks posting drawings that are less, shall we say, polished.  These are sketches drawn before getting kids to school, starting the daily commute or getting down to actual work. Inktober is about coming back to your doodles every day and then sharing them, even if it is scary or you skipped a day or five (truly, it’s even ok to post 1 or 2 things).
We have a lot of secret doodlers in tech. I know, because I used to be one of them. I would secretly show up early for meetings so I could spend a few minutes secretly doodling.
My secret doodles helped me sort out the difficult tech concepts I was working with on a daily basis and, eventually, I found ways to share them.
“This is so great!” friends would tell me.
“Really??” I would ask. This helped me get up the courage to post things online.
Here we are on the day before Inktober starts, and I have a proposal:
Let’s have an #inktechtober where we post some doodles about tech concepts we’re working with or trying to figure out. Here is a prompt list if you’re having trouble coming up with something you want to sketch.
Post it to your social media channel of choice using the hashtag #inktechtober.
If you enjoy inktechtober or sketching related to tech, check out the Let’s Sketch Tech! conference happening in December.
Image from iOS

Level-up, get promoted and recover from burnout…


Who knew that when I organized the 2nd iteration of what I thought would be a small, local, software conference, Pear Conf, I would be starting my own business.

Pear Conf happened over a beautiful two days this past July. We talked, we punned, we painted! I even saw some really great chilling out happening in our quiet corner!

With Pear Conf over, I realized that while the conference was great, it’s time to expand the message of pairing on work as a way to solve hard problems and get better at working with teammates.

This is why I have teamed up with Jennifer Tu and Betsy Haibel of Cohere to bring you the “Let’s Pair!” kickstarter.

“Let’s Pair!” is a series of zines designed to help folks get started or to improve their own pairing practice. We are also including a plushy pear for some reward levels.

Join the Pear community and back our kickstarter today!