Kind Words

Published: Jun 8, 2022
Updated: Apr 19, 2023

I’ve collected kind words said to me over the years and stored them in notes, emails, etc., and now a few are documented here.

I hesitated to publish this. Would people think it’s vain? Is it weird to make these things public? I decided to go for it anyway, redacting names and info as needed.

Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” I agree. They serve as a nice pick-me-up on a bad day too.

This is a living doc.

2022 Annual Review Update #

In preparation for my 2022 Annual Review, I sent the following email to a few folks on my project:


If you’re reading this, you’re someone I trust, and I have a small favor to ask.

When REDACTED was my team lead, he advocated for me during annual reviews. But now, times are different, and I must advocate for myself.

Given that, would you mind writing a short recommendation for me?

(Or share any positive feedback you may have. If you have constructive criticism, I’ll take that too)

I plan to add these to a “why you should keep me around and maybe even give me a raise” doc that I’ll share with my manager.

No pressure. But, if you do find the time, thanks in advance for your help 👍

Sincerely, Zach

The responses I got were absolutely heartwarming:

I have been on the REDACTED DevSecOps team since June of 2021. Throughout my entire time here Zach has been a key component, and perhaps even a cornerstone, of my success, my team’s success, the project’s success.

Project success is dependent upon good communication and unity; these are the two factors that Zach brings at a higher capacity than anyone I am currently in contact with throughout my day-to-day work. Zach is consistently aware of what is going on in most all Teams channels and is able to connect teams and engineers together so that issues are discovered, researched, and fixed faster.

Zach is typically the first developer to report any issues my DevOps team needs to address and provides clear GitHub issue tickets for my team to review. Zach is consistently available on Teams chat and is willing to answer my questions. As a DevOps engineer developers are my customers, and knowing developers’ needs, tasks, and work completed is critical to my success. Zach’s availability and great communication provides a key window for me to see into the REDACTED developer team’s work.

Zach also demonstrates proficiency and awareness of the REDACTED DevSecOps team’s work to further unify my team with his. Zach is commonly the only developer to participate in DevOps discussions. Zach code reviews my work more than most of my own DevOps teammates, and his code reviews are the very best quality of any engineer I work with.

Clearly Zach’s high awareness of both REDACTED developer work and REDACTED DevSecOps team’s work makes him a key component to the two teams’ unity. When I was new Zach helped onboard me into the project more than anyone other than perhaps REDACTED who was my team lead at the time.

– Anthony, Senior DevSecOps Engineer

Zach has been one of the best engineers I’ve worked with in my 8-year career. When it comes to finding someone who you can trust to get the job done right, I would put my “Betz” on him. The attitude Zach brings to the table is rare and in the last 2 years of working with him at REDACTED, he has truly helped foster a collaborative culture between DevOps and Developers where we can work together to solve complex problems that neither team can solve alone. I’ve listed some key examples of how he does this below:

Personally, I’ve worked with him to troubleshoot NGINX proxy configuration rules to expose Swagger endpoints as well as preserving and passing the correct URI path to backend microservices. Zach is able to break down complex systems, communicate how they work, and is creative and confident enough to propose solutions despite not always being a SME on a certain topic. We need more engineers like that.

Zach has been one of the few engineers who actually reads our DevOps Git Documentation and was one of the Developers who helped drive others on the team to follow the correct SOPs for creating a DevOps ticket when a pipeline/deployment related issue is identified. Doing so improved the working efficiency of our DevOps team and allowed our work on these issues to be tracked in a transparent manner.

With regards to pipeline and deployment related issues, Zach is one of the few Developers willing to get his hands dirty with learning some DevOps knowledge and applying it. He actively looks at pipeline logs and tries to figure out what could be wrong before coming to our team to ask for help. He also leads by example and encourages more junior Developers on his team to do the same. He actively seeks out knowledge regardless of whether it’s explicitly listed as a responsibility of his job role. It’s this trait that makes him an amazing engineer, regardless of what team you put him on.

Zach also has a sense of ownership across this project and proactively identifies risks ahead of time and communicates them to the team. He frequently monitors many Teams channels and brings awareness of major issues (e.g., network/Jenkins/Twistlock related) to the entire team. In my opinion, he goes above and beyond his normal job duties to streamline and improve our processes across the entire project.

When it comes to code review, he’s actively thinking about tech-debt and how we can best write code according to best practices and principles. I appreciate how detail-oriented he is when it comes to code review.

Last, but not least, Zach works in a professional manner and is courteous, responsive, and polite. I strongly believe that Zach is a rockstar engineer and his hard work and effect should be recognized and compensated for appropriately. Some people do the bare minimum in their job and others go above and beyond. Zach is definitely the latter.

– Peter, Senior DevSecOps Engineer

Zach takes on difficult and/or large problems that need to get worked with no hesitation.

When Zach gets a problem, he finds a way to solve it. He’ll research, set up meetings, brainstorm, etc. He’ll spend the time and loop in the people he needs to get a problem solved.

As a team lead, Zach is very involved with his team and very available to knowledge share and work his team members through blockers.

Whatever Zach is being paid isn’t enough.

– Seamus, Senior Software Engineer

Zach is a natural leader and his leadership abilities have been demonstrated since transitioning into his role as a Team Lead.

His strong knowledge of the application/tools and his approachable nature makes it easy for any team members to consult him about any issues. Zach almost always has solutions to any problems and in few cases when he does not, he will find time to work closely with the team member to solve the problem by bringing in practical approach of breaking down large concepts into smaller, more manageable tasks and continuously research and experiment to find solutions.

One of his greatest strengths is also his ability to manage multiple responsibilities as a lead. His contribution to not only development work but also testing and DevOps speaks for itself. Of all the qualities I mentioned the one I admire most is his willingness to share knowledge and encourage the team to think creatively about solutions by offering feedback, guidance and sharing ideas/techniques for improvement. For example, a test team member could approach him with a bug and later leave with a detailed knowledge of finding patterns, analyzing data and reviewing issues in logs for future reference.

Zach builds great relationships, and this is reflected by how highly every team member speaks of him. He is an invaluable member of this project.

– Jason, Senior Automated Test Engineer

Zach Betz is a 10x programmer. It is rare to find someone who is both incredibly good at their own work and yet willing and able to help others with theirs.

Zach is famous in open-source circles, esp. as a contributor to Hugo. In addition to solving difficult problems, Zach always leaves behind very good documentation, which helps save countless hours for other developers who run into the same problem.

Zach has stepped into a team leader position seamlessly and has done a great job mentoring others. Additionally, Zach has become a technical expert and consultant for the entire project. Many reach out to Zach for expertise and knowledge sharing.

– Skip, Senior Software Engineer

In the REDACTED project, Zach is one of the most innovative full stack developers I’ve ever come across. Zach has been doing an excellent job as a team leader as well. He is so talented. He stays flexible, which helps everyone on the team. Zach has grown so much in his role and is still growing. A valuable member of the team, he documents his solutions precisely, which makes him an “Oracle” to the REDACTED team.

As he researches on any topic and provides solutions within given timeframes, we call him ‘911 friendly’ among us as we know that if we are stuck and looking for a feasible solution, we can count on him. He offers his help to anyone seeking it. His tremendous length of effort, diligence, and hard work are greatly appreciated! He is the perfect fit for the position of Solution Architect!

I personally thank him for his innovative ideas, solutions, documentation, timely assistance, etc.

His efforts can fill a chapter book; however, I will end here and continue later …

– Menmozhi, Database Architect

From the time I joined REDACTED, I immediately recognized that Zach was someone I could look to for mentorship and guidance. He presented himself as a leader by letting it be known that he was available if I had any questions or needed help in any way. Zach knows the importance of integrity and shows this regularly, for example, he always gives extremely useful feedback during code reviews to ensure we’re following best practices; this ranges from the best algorithm to use in certain situations to ensure we’re being the most efficient, to being on top of if there’s certain deprecated or obsolete implementations currently being used that need to be updated. Not only will he point these problems out, but he will also provide a detailed solution on how to fix them.

He’s an overflowing fountain of knowledge.

On top of that, Zach constantly leads by example. Anytime an issue arises, he’s the first to put a ticket in and share links for tracking so that everyone is on the same page. Many don’t understand the impact of small things like linking chat threads or tickets and keeping everyone in the loop, whether directly working the task/issue or not, can have on a project overall. Creating a sense of togetherness and unity, in a way where if one person is out sick everything doesn’t stop because that single individual is the only one who knows what’s going on and can respond to the customer or other developers, since we’re all watching the progression of said issue. He recognizes this pitfall and makes it a point to bridge this gap by always tracking task and always linking any important discussions happening.

This is extremely important, especially in the current remote work environment where you can’t just walk up to someone’s desk to ask them a question.

Lastly, in my opinion, one of the most important qualities Zach possesses is his responsiveness. I have pinged Zach on many occasions for different reasons and no matter what he will get to me by the end of the day. In working remotely, a huge challenge has been getting responses in a reasonable amount of time, if any at all, and Zach is, by far, one of the most responsive people I’ve worked with. He not only responses but will set aside the time to work through whatever you pinged him about. I never feel blown off by Zach. True leaders know the long-term effects of taking the time out now to help someone and how those lessons will come back as productivity later down the road.

I’ve enjoyed working with Zach! He is insightful, extremely responsive regardless of if it’s a 1-on-1 or something more broadcasts like our team chat, demonstrates his integrity on a regular basis and is extremely easy to talk to. He has all the qualities I’d expect a great leader would have.

– Tailyr, DevSecOps Engineer

I am writing on behalf of Zach Betz. I’ve had the pleasure of working with him on both contract work and bid proposal teams. He has been an integral member of both - his DevOps acumen coupled with senior-level full-stack development capabilities would be an asset to any company. He has proven proficient (and personally helped me out of jams) with React, Java, Jenkins pipeline work, and docker.

His ability to learn on the fly and adapt to new circumstances is exceptional, and his passion for useful and thorough documentation has saved me more than once. I still have a directory full of bash scripts that I pulled from Zach’s GitHub profile. I have also seen him thrive as both a software engineer and a team lead. His interpersonal skills are uncommon in our industry; he is well-liked and well-regarded by his team members and superiors alike.

– Adam, Software Engineer

It is a great pleasure to work with Zach. Zach demonstrates extensive and diverse knowledge and skills as a software engineer. He is an exemplary leader, offering guidance to his peers, as well as challenging us to follow his example and mentor others.

He consistently exhibits a motivation to learn, continually researching topics that are beneficial to the team and project and striving for a better solution in a timely manner. Zach is engaging, articulate, and inclusive, encouraging and assisting others in best practices.

He is approachable and has an infectious enthusiasm. I can’t recommend him highly enough.

– Holly, Senior Software Engineer

I have been working with Zach for the past 2+ years and seen him grow, and help the project grow from ground zero to REDACTED. He is always ready to help and is knowledgeable not only in the development tech stack we use but also helps with DevOps tasks when needed.

He can look ahead, and problem solve issues that might easily slip while the team focuses on day-to-day development tasks. He has put up chore PRs to solve performance issues, refactored code to meet quality standards, helped mitigate security concerns, etc.

I have seen him transition into a great team lead, mentoring his team to navigate through the issues found in the application and to produce quality solutions. He is diligent on documenting and sharing his knowledge with others.

He is a great asset to our team, always willing to help where he can, and I enjoy working with him as a colleague.

– Sonavi, Senior Software Engineer

Hi Zach, it is an honor for me to write about you. You don’t know how much I love working with you. You are the one of the most favorable co-workers in my entire 22 years of experience in the IT industry. I am a little bit poor in writing in English and may not be able to pick right words about you. Anyway, here are my thoughts about you.

Zach is one of the most favorable people of my 22 years of IT experience. Generally, it is a rare combination of having talent and helping nature in one person. But Zach is very exceptional for that. He is not only very knowledgeable, but also a very helpful person. Even in busy and stressful situations also, he will be available to help people, answer questions and provide guidance. His technical and re-searching skills are amazing.

I saw him as one of the key people who provided solutions for critical and major technical issues in REDACTED project. And he actively participated in project review meetings and written valuable feedback comments. I see him answering lot of questions even outside of the project overall whole REDACTED level, like answering for questions in like section 508, general channel etc.

In my more than two years of working experience with Zach, as an automation as well as manual and 508 testers, Zach provided a lot of solutions, guidance in writing automation scripts, and for manual testing, he taught me many of the tools like swagger, docker, dev-ops tools etc., and helped me set up database connections, new MacBook setups etc.

Not only for me, but also, I strongly believe that Zach is the first choice as a go to person, for everyone whoever is working on this project.

– Raghu, Automated Test Engineer

Zach is an invaluable resource that I rely upon regularly. Whether it be for a technical problem on which I am stuck or just for a sounding board to verify a planned solution, I depend on his advice.

– John, Senior Software Engineer

I have been very impressed with Zach’s work on our REDACTED project. He is an incredible asset to our company and project. Some examples of things I have noticed:

  • His work to shorten process times that benefit all team members
    • Particular items include work on CI/CD builds and local builds (that affect each developer)
  • Attention to various MS Teams threads and info shared to other REDACTED team members
    • For the REDACTED switch to JAMF for Mac GFE management, he offered lots of help to other users
  • His ability to ‘multitask’ and to contribute on numerous different topics at nearly the same time
  • His recent work as Tech Lead. He was already doing a lot of these things already, and now it is more official
  • His contributions to the REDACTED code challenge and oral presentation

– Jeff, Senior Software Engineer

Zach has made immense improvements and very valuable contributions to the REDACTED Application covering all the areas – backend DB optimization, Elastic Search, docker build time for services and so many other performance related changes that we are in a much better place today than a year ago.

Zach has great presence in almost every Teams channel and able to provide updates / solutions very quickly covering variety of subjects related to Jenkins pipeline / DevOps / JAMF Upgrade / REDACTED architecture / Docker builds / REDACTED access issues etc. / Code challenge exercise - to name a few.

Zach is always willing to help across the Dev teams and very polite and courteous.

In addition to having deep technical understanding and being an SME in so many areas, Zach has one great rare quality is that he is very willing to share his expertise and knowledge with the team and has written great deal of documentation and user guides and helpful tips. These have proven to be very handy and a valuable resource for seasoned developers as well as onboarding new team members.

It is always a pleasure working with Zach and he never ceases to surprise us with creative technical ideas and solutions and is a very valuable asset for the success of the REDACTED project.

– Kishore, Software Engineer

I am fortunate to have worked with Zach from last 1 year or so and found him helpful, energetic and to the point. Some of the characteristics are as follows:

He is the one who often finds innovative solutions for the problems and sets standards for other developers.

His helping hand, not only to his team, but other people outside of his team, made him a great asset for the company.

His leadership skills have been shown by being a great leader in his team. We all have seen his team striving through his knowledge.

He does not shy away by placing comments during retrospective and meetings which overall improves the quality of team and product.

I am highly recommending him to be Team leader or any other leadership position.

– Deepak, Software Engineer

Zach is an excellent co-worker with vast knowledge about software, designing and analyzing system processes, and other related duties. I have been working with him for more than half a year, and he has been a great leader.

One of his tasks was to streamline software processes and allow for efficient information flow and retrieval, and he did an excellent job in consistently managing and improving our systems. He is always on top of tasks, stays up to date on software developments, and finds the best solutions that fit the organization.

He had the most extensive and diverse knowledge of software at REDACTED, and others sought his advice. I can’t recommend him highly enough as a dependable and capable employee.

– Anish, Software Engineer

Zach is the best developer I have encountered during my many years of consulting. He is super-engaged and a wonderful caretaker of the system. I have not encountered anyone with his depth and range of knowledge on so many programming languages and technologies.

He deserves the maximum raise, keeping in mind that inflation was 9.62% this year, going by what the US Treasury Inflation Bonds are currently paying. Anything less than that is a pay decrease.


– Ben, DevSecOps Engineer

During our transition from using AirWatch to manage our Macs to the new tool, JAMF, we needed to implement a number of security changes that altered the way our end users were working. During this period, Zach was instrumental in helping us to support our developers.

As an engineer, I’m one of only 2 people who provision applications and tools that the developers use. We don’t know how to use many of the tools we deploy. Zach is a critical contact, and his support was absolutely key to this major management change. His input made this modification go very smoothly. If not for his input, our team would have spent countless hours researching and learning applications that are not part of our positions.

Zach is a critical member of our agency, and I can’t praise him enough for his efforts and contributions to the success of our mission.

– Mike, JAMF Admin, Device Management Engineering Team

Here is what I see from my perspective:

I think Zach provides great value to the project and company beyond expectations:

  • Very attentive and quick to help others.
  • Brings a positive and encouraging spirit to the project.
  • Involved in different parts of the project and has good understanding of those parts. The application, devops, and testing.
  • Strong development skills and emphasizes focus on good practices.
  • Detail oriented in understanding and implementing stories.
  • Involved in the coding challenge, while managing a team of developers on an on-going project. I think this shows abilities to handle multiple tasks and projects simultaneously.

What to improve:

  • Clone yourself. Need more Zachs on this project.

– Leo, Senior Software Engineer

Various #

From a coworker, a Developer:

Him: used the ES (Elasticsearch) gen for the first time to handle deleting old case statuses and remapping substatuses. Absolute godsend. The SQL edits were rougher than the ES ones. Love it

Me: aww thank you sir. back when i was making all the manual es edits for everyone, i was about to pull my hair out, so i had to do something

Him: the best programmer is a lazy one and this generator is lazy as hell

Me: lmao

From a coworker, a Database Administrator:

Her: … When we were working on the REDACTED project, I had to go to Nola, and had a talk with REDACTED about when the next bump would be. I specifically told him that they needed to keep you in good standing because you were such an asset to the project

Me: … I came into the company as a tester, so once I transitioned into a developer it was hard for folks to see me as that. That means a lot. Thank you for advocating for me.

Her: I never knew you as a tester. You’ve always been my go-to when I needed an answer or a solution to things. You’re definitely one of the most organized coworkers that I know. I see you constantly working with people on Teams. You are an asset. I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to look for other opportunities, but I selfishly would want to keep you on our team.

From a coworker, another Database Administrator:

Her: I just went for vacation only 2 weeks. Lol. As I return back, many things have changed.

Me: same ish scenario. was on internal project for 2 weeks. i come back and all envs have issues

Her: Lol .. Zach’s presence in REDACTED is ultimately important… Now, do you realize?

Me: i would like to document and automate my self out of a job lol

Her: Document what is required. You would get a best job you dream of in this whole wide world anywhere you prefer for your potential, actually.

From a guy that opened a pull request on one of my Hugo themes:

Him: Dear Zachary, I just wanted to say Thank you for promptly revising my pull requests and for sharing your beautiful hugo theme in the first place. I recently happened to browse your website and blog, it is funny how many fascinating things there are. Reading it would definitely go in my list of simple pleasures. Thanks again.

Me: Dear REDACTED, Your note has made my day. And thank you for contributing back to the hugo theme. That’s what open source is all about

From an old Project Manager:

The following is a very nice compliment from REDACTED, the Government Technical Lead on the REDACTED project, that was directed to Zack in SLACK:

“I, for one, really value the contributions you made to the team and the project in the short amount of time you were supporting the project. All the best in your future endeavors!”

I heard other comments from Team Members about the great job Zach did. My thanks to Zach for his efforts and to REDACTED for accommodating those efforts.

I would truly like to continue to use Zach, if possible …

From my previous Team Lead during a performance review:

Zach has been a very productive member of the Team. He mentors new team members and responds promptly to technical questions posted by team members in chats as well as during tech tasking meetings. He consistently delivers quality code in a timely manner. Time and again he has demonstrated great troubleshooting skills. He is well on his way as a Senior member of the team.

From an Engineer on the Device Management team of a government agency:

So the engineering and operations team (Me, REDACTED, REDACTED, and REDACTED) were monitoring stuff and someone mentioned “There’s that Betz guy again” and I said, “Don’t you be talking smack about Zach, OR REDACTED! Those guys ROCK!” I love that you guys are the first to respond to any devs that have issues. Honestly, you guys have saved me SO much time over the past few years. I hope we can support you effectively during this JAMF migration. You’re awesome!!

From my LSU ResLife HelpDesk days, a client sent this email to my manager:

Good morning. Just wanted to let you know that Zach has just been here changing out my speakers (old ones had a short in them) and he is a delight! Such a helpful young man with the best manners. I just love having him come over to the complex and into my office.

Thanks bunches for my speakers and for Zach!

Another one from my LSU ResLife HelpDesk days, a client sent this email to my manager:

I’m telling you right now, if you send Zach back over here I’m going to ADOPT him. He was sooooo professional and helpful. I left before he finished, but please tell him Thank You VERY MUCH!!! And thank you too for your prompt attention to my email troubles.

From a classmate in high school World History class:

You are rare. You actually listen to people then reply accordingly. That’s why you’re going to be so successful in your life. Good luck with everything.

Towards the end of the class, we were assigned a “reflections” assignment. You had to write a positive thing about each of your classmates, then the teacher combined them into a paper for each student. I still have a screenshot of it in my Dropbox. It was heartwarming to hear what folks had to say. This one in particular has stuck with me. (I’m an advocate of being a good listener.)