Scott Sayler is one of those amazing guys who is incredibly talented and somehow remains humble. He and his team at RubyHaus partners with Lion + Panda to assist in the architecting web-based applications with a specialty in API generation between web services. His mastery is in developing custom solutions to make otherwise incompatible systems communicate via XML, MSMQ and various other communication platforms.
His largest project to date was architected/implemented for a Fortune 500 company to help facilitate procurement of source material for various products. At one point in time that system had a total financial transaction level of over $1B annually.
20+ Questions with “The Slayer”
If you could choose any one person to be your mentor, living or dead, who would you chose? Explain your decision.
I actually had the best mentor possible in a former business partner who has since passed away, so I’d have to stick with him. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without his influence over everything in my professional life (and a significant amount in my personal life).
If you could only eat one kind of food for the rest of your life what would you chose? Why?
Probably steak or chicken, but I’d have to wonder whether unlimited seasonings are on the table still. If not, no matter what you choose would get old quick.
What’s something that grosses you out that other people would find weird?
Anything internal to us. Modern medicine is a true marvel, but even the thought of someone/something poking around inside creeps me out. My thinking – it’s inside for a reason.
If you met with a client and that person had his or her arms attached backwards, how would you greet him or her?
Similar to working with other cultures, I’d let them initiate and follow their lead.
How did people ever get anything done without the existence of websites and Google?
I’ve had this exact thought on multiple occasions, and have no answer. I can’t even recall a time where I stood in line for anything, and didn’t at least have Snake to play on my indestructible Nokia.
What is the worst question to ask, or answer, in an interview?
Aaron’s answer is perfect – “Tell us about your weaknesses.” Really? This is a job interview, I’m here to convince you to give me the job, not to talk you out of it.
Agree or disagree: The Grateful Dead was a terrible band.
Can’t say I’ve ever listened to anything by them. If I have, I didn’t realize it.
How would you live your life if you had a week to live?
I’d probably do all the stuff I’m too scared to do now – skydiving, bungee jumping, etc. If there’s only one week to live, it doesn’t really matter if something goes wrong with this type of thing as it’s just speeding up the inevitable.
How would you live your life if you were going to live forever?
Like Aaron said, no matter what you choose, it’d be unsatisfying. That said, I suppose I’d just continually try to build up wealth and relationships (knowing they are temporary) and then take it from there. Given current technology, a wealth buildup might allow exploration to places we can’t reach today so that’d be an interesting way to pass the time.
Where do you find peace?
In a good book, with a glass of wine nearby. It’s the most relaxing thing out there, until I get paged for a work-related issue.
Would you rather walk backwards for the rest of your life, or stub your toe with every step you took? Explain your choice.
Definitely walk backwards – the alternative would be far too painful.
Who is your role model, and why?
I’ve had many over my years – people who believed in me and pushed me to the next level, even when I thought something couldn’t be done. I couldn’t pick a single person.
If you were a kitchen appliance what would you be?
Definitely not a dishwasher, as no one likes to do those. Maybe a mixer, because then you’d be a key component of all sorts of tasty things being made.
What’s been your best work that you think you are proud of yourself and what about them could you have done better?
The main philosophy I have is, if I can’t go back and review code I’ve written six months prior and have at least one “what was I thinking?” moment, then I’ve stopped learning new stuff and need to reevaluate life. That said, I was pretty proud of being the core framework architect of two systems that heavily interfaced with a third, where all three combined process ~$1B in outbound payments per year. Even though I’d have done things differently now, it’s still fun to know I built that.
What motivates you and what doesn’t?
Learning new stuff. I get bored easily, so if I’m not consistently pressing boundaries and asking “what if”, then I quickly lose interest. I actively try to stay cutting edge, specifically because I want the challenge of figuring out how to fix it when it doesn’t work right.
Tell me in no more than 5 words what you think Lion + Panda does?
Establishes long-term relationships and connections.
What did you play with as a child?
Wine and alcohol have killed those brain cells.
What is your hidden talent and how did you discover it?
I can actually survive software development without an IV of Mountain Dew.
How did you get to this interview?
Knowing the right people at the right time.
If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?
Defense from crazy people. Who attacks the guy giving you food?
You’re a new addition to the crayon box, what color would you be and why?
Black or a deep red. I’ve always liked darker colors in general, but couldn’t pinpoint why.
If you could throw a party of any caliber, budget isn’t a factor, what type of parade would it be?
It’d be somewhere exotic, that is a once in a lifetime experience for a small group of my closest friends.
What do you do for fun and what would you be doing if it wasn’t advertising?
I actively try to disconnect from computers, so when I do kayaking is great when it’s warm out and I’m also very active at my gym with a trainer.
What advice would you give to anyone trying to make it in the ad world?
Since I own a marketing company and have no idea how to run one, I’d say don’t ask me. I’m still trying to figure that out myself.
What’s the story about your family or your cat?
I was looking at foreclosed houses years ago to make my first purchase, and during that process came across a solid black kitten who was maybe three weeks old, hiding under a deck. It’d be amazingly heartless to leave her there, so she came home with me and has been around ever since.
What has been your biggest blunder at work?
Pushing a change to production in one of those systems that handles millions of dollars that I mentioned above, and not paying attention ahead of time. I had commented out the exchange rate part of a calculation for testing purposes, which shifted anything paid in CAD to USD and caused the reporting to be off by around $7MM. Three months of analysis was done on this incorrect data and it wasn’t caught until a week before the analysis was due. Thankfully, the analysis involved building a custom analytical tool that, once the error was found, could take an updated spreadsheet, re-crunch the numbers and everything ended up okay.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that happened to you in high school and/or college?
I was pretty quiet in high school and college (perks of switching to a new high school your sophomore year), so I can’t really pinpoint anything embarrassing. I just stayed out of people’s way for the most part.
It seems like there are a lot of people from the advertising world spending more energy on social causes. Is this actually a trend?
No clue, but if so I hope it continues. Giving back is something we should all try to do for those less fortunate than us.
Why are people from the advertising and marketing world joining social causes?
Hopefully the same as above – we’ve realized how fortunate we are, so we’re trying to take a humane approach to social issues and help others in need. Even if it’s just a “look at how nice we are!” thing, taking care of fellow human beings should be something that unites us all. We never know when something disastrous could happen to us, and then we’re on the other side of the cause needing assistance.
What was the last gift you gave someone?
Probably my mom’s birthday present, since that was ~20 days ago.
Do you believe in Bigfoot?
Don’t really care either way. If one was found, what would it matter? Full disclosure – I don’t know why anyone is trying to find one in the first place. That’s how little I’ve cared about that topic.
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
I’d say it’s safe to say this came about during something alcohol-related, but I couldn’t begin to tell what it might’ve been.
It’s Thursday, you’ve got to be at a project in Marrakech, Morocco on Monday. Your flight and hotel are booked; your visa is ready. What are the top five things you do before you leave?
1. Make sure I have setup a ride to the airport
3. Double-check all paperwork (visa, ticket, hotel) are ready
4. Pack the night before
5. Relax – if I forgot anything, I’ll just buy a replacement.
If there was a movie produced about your life, what would it be called? Who would play you, and why?
I’ll leave that to someone with a marketing background, as I think the title would be the most interesting part of it. The starring role would be irrelevant.
How does the internet work?
According to Ted Stevens, it’s a series of tubes so I’ll go with that.
Out of all the internet fads out there (Gangnam Style, Rebecca Black, Harlem Shake, etc), which did you hate the most?
Honestly? All of them. If I had to pick one though, probably Gangam Style.
Would you rather know without a doubt the purpose and direction of your life or never have to worry about money for the rest of your life?
The philosophical side of me wants to say knowing the purpose/direction of your life, but having an unlimited amount of money would allow you to actually dictate that purpose so I’d probably go with that option. Having control over your destiny can be a powerful option.