DAVID: Wow, is it really so early in the morning that people did not think I was trolling?
JESSICA: Sometimes the best way to troll a troll is to pretend you don’t know they’re trolling.
DAVID: Ah, excellent. Excellent. Not sure if serious or a counter-trolling level 9,000
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CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 187 of the Ruby Rogues Podcast. This week on our panel, we have David Brady.
DAVID: I’m starting a [inaudible] drive called “Let’s never hear Dave Brady podcast from a public restroom again.”
CHUCK: Avdi Grimm.
AVDI: Hello from not enough sleep.
CHUCK: Jessica Kerr.
JESSICA: Good morning.
CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from DevChat.TV. And this week we have a special guest, John Sonmez.
JOHN: Hey everyone.
CHUCK: Do you want to introduce yourself, John?
JOHN: Sure. Yeah, so I am John Sonmez. I am the owner of Simple Programmer. I have a blog that started this whole company at SimpleProgrammer.com. And basically, the best way to describe what I do is that I’m a life coach for software developers. A weird thing, but what I do is I really am focused with Simple Programmer on helping software developers to live better lives by basically helping them with all different areas of their life. So, from gaining the technical skills that they need through some of the online training that I do. But also, some of the soft skills, the things like how to interact with people, how to be motivated, how to even get in shape, and how to do a lot of the things that we don’t talk about in the software development industry. So, that’s really where I focus.
And I sell products to developers. I give away a lot of free content about this. And this is where my passion is. I think there was no one out there that was doing this really. So, I found that people were really starting to like a lot of the softer skills type of blog posts I was doing. And so I thought, “Hey, this is a really big needed area for software developers. And so, let me see what I could do here.” And so, that’s where Simple Programmer came from and what the mission is now.
CHUCK: Before we get too deep into this, I also want to point out because John didn’t. He has a book called ‘Soft Skills’. It was just released by Manning, I believe. And then he also has a course about this stuff called ‘How to Market Yourself as a Software Developer’. He does a podcast called Get Up and CODE! And another podcast called Entreprogrammers. And I have been on both of those podcasts. And then probably most importantly, he’s going to be speaking at JS Remote Conf here in a month or so.
JOHN: Right, yes. Thank you for filling in the details.
JOHN: I left out some of the most important things, didn’t I there? [Laughs]
JESSICA: Yeah, the marketing things, right?
JOHN: Exactly, yeah, yeah.
DAVID: Yeah. So, you do motivation, soft skills, how to communicate with people, and how to lose weight. So, where do I sign up? And…
DAVID: You know what? Just send it to Chuck. Chuck, now you know what I want for Christmas.
CHUCK: It’s so funny because these things are either, I’m going to do this and I’m going to feel really good about myself, or I’m going to look at what I’m not doing and feel really not good about myself.
DAVID: Yeah. Yeah, this call could go really, really wrong really fast.
JESSICA: Yeah, that’s my gut instinct too, is marketing for software developers. Ugh, why would I want to market myself? That’s so much work. And first I have to get myself past my resistance to admitting that this could be useful and necessary. Because if I admit that, then I have to admit that I’m not doing it.
JOHN: And you know, I think also there’s this resistance, right, I think in software development in general to marketing. The idea of marketing I think leaves a bad taste in people’s mouth because they’re used to bad kind of marketing, right? When you think about marketing a lot of times you think about getting an advertisement, a spam email in your inbox trying to sell you Viagra pills from China for cheap, right?
JESSICA: Mass marketing.
JOHN: Yeah, that’s bad marketing. That’s not even… or you think of self-promotion to the extreme degree where someone just talks about themselves and why they’re so great, or their product is so awesome. But the way that I view marketing and my whole philosophy behind marketing is that I give away 90% and that someone should give away 90% of what they do for free and then charge for the 10%. And that free content that you give by giving people value – that is the marketing. That’s the marketing that I’m talking about.
And that’s what I think all of us do through blog posts, through podcasts. If you speak at conferences or write magazine articles or write books, a lot of that is the good kind of marketing that I’m suggesting, which is something that a lot of developers might already be doing but they could do more of. And really is not something that puts a bad taste in someone’s mouth, because you’re giving away so much stuff. You’re providing value to people primarily. And that’s how your message spreads, because it’s not about taking dollars and buying Google ad campaigns to market yourself as a software developer. IT’s really about just giving away stuff that’s valuable to people so they share it. And your name and your brand get around.
AVDI: Alight, let me be that guy for a second and say software developers are one of the few sectors where we’re ridiculously in demand. Economic downturns compared to other fields barely touched us. Do we need to market ourselves?
JOHN: You know, that’s a good question. I think it depends on what your goal is for your career, right? So, one thing I always say also is that whether you know it or not, you are marketing yourself in some way. You have an image. You have a brand that you’re projecting. I’m talking more about getting control of that and the benefits that you can get by doing that. So, by explicitly trying to control your brand and the image that you’re putting out, there’s some certain, some pretty high value things that come from that.
A lot of developers I’ve talked to, well, you take a lot of famous software developers like Uncle Bob Martin and in the Microsoft circle, Scott Hanselman. And you look at their careers and they can demand pretty high salaries, if they take a salary job. Or they can bill very, very high consulting rates. So, while the average developer that has decent skills will be able to get a job because the demand is very high, if you want to be that exceptional developer that makes, I don’t want to say total figures, but very high, the higher range of the salary, extraordinary salaries beyond that glass ceiling where we all reach and bill rates as a freelancer, then you’ve got to something a little bit more.
If you have a brand, if you’ve built up a name and somewhat of a reputation, then you’re going to, if you’re an employee of a company, you’re going to be able to demand a higher rate. You’re going to be able to get better jobs, have better opportunities. And if you’re a freelancer, you’re going to be able to have clients come to you instead of you wasting time trying to track down clients and negotiate rates. And you’re also going to be able to bill a higher rate. So, I think the real answer to that is that if you’re willing to do some of these things, you can see an exponential increase in your career beyond just the basics of can you get a job, which most software developers, that’s not too much a challenge in itself.
DAVID: I’d like to counter that with, as a software engineer do I need to market myself, and my counter to that is, is it even possible to not market yourself? Right? We hate marketing. We think marketing of the War Games quote. Interesting game. The only winning move is not to play. But marketing, your communication with people around you is something that’s going on all the time.
DAVID: Whether you want it to be or not. And so, if you look at office sociology and call it office politics and you say, “I’m above it. I’m better than that,” then what you’re basically saying is, “I’m not going to play.” But guess what? That’s a legal move.
DAVID: And it’s not a very good one. But you’re still playing. And it’s a legal move.
JOHN: That’s exactly right. That is exactly right. In fact, a lot of times I do a talk on how to market yourself and one of the key things I say at the end of the talk is I say, “Okay. Well, regardless of whether or not you think this is important or not, google your name. Whatever comes up in that first page of Google results, you may think you represent something else to the world. You may call yourself this or whatever. But whatever comes up when you google your name, that first page of Google results, that’s who you are. That is who you are to the world.” Every employer, ever client, every customer, the first thing they’re going to do is google your name. And that’s your image. You have a choice. You can decide that you’re going to control that image and project what you want to, to the world. Or you can let the world decide what it’s going to be for you.
JESSICA: Or you see a bunch of things about someone who’s not you but has the same name.
JOHN: Yeah, that I get.
JESSICA: In which case, not having an online presence is itself a decision.
CHUCK: I do want to get into one other bit of why. And this is more applicable to some people than others, but I’m a freelancer. So, as a freelancer it becomes important because that’s how you’re going to find your clients. That’s how you’re going to find your work. And so, I think in a lot of cases folks, they show up, they put in a resume, it demonstrates that they have a certain level of experience and then they get the job. And so, people play or don’t play and that’s fine. But as you get more directly involved in finding the work that you’re going to be doing, it becomes a whole lot more important to be marketing yourself.
JOHN: Yeah, exactly. I think that’s very true, especially for freelancers. I do freelancing work myself. And before, when I first tried to get into freelancing I had a hard time trying to find clients, trying to hopefully can I bill, will someone scoff at my $30 an hour rate or my $50 an hour rate. Now, I don’t search for clients. People email me on my blog or my website and they ask to work with me. And my rate is posted right on my blog. It says $300 an hour. And that rate is a ridiculous rate that I would not even be able to touch had I had to chase down clients. But when people want to work with me, they want to work with me specifically. And that’s in part because of how I’ve been able to market myself and promote Simple Programmer as a brand. And that is huge, because not only am I billing a lot higher than I was before but I’m not wasting a whole bunch of time doing the overhead of searching for clients which I know a lot of freelancers do. Some freelancers spend 50% of their time trying to find clients.
AVDI: Now, is that your rate for software consulting or for coaching consulting.
JOHN: It’s for anything. I do it for both. When I talk to clients obviously now, most often I say, “Look, you probably don’t want me just sitting down and writing code for you. I’ll do it if you want.” And some people say, “Yeah, nope. I just want you to write code.” So, okay, I’m fine with that. But the majority of the time I say, “You either probably want me to coach your team or to give you direction and architecture on creating a test framework or one of the other areas I specialize in.” But there are definitely people that they just want you to write code for that amount of money.
JESSICA: I have the perspective of not being a freelancer to address Chuck’s points of obviously when you’re freelancing and you need clients, this marketing is a huge thing. But I want to put in a bit about how it helps for people who just want a job. I went into programming because I wanted a steady income. I wanted to know what was coming in every month. And I wanted to know that if I lost this job, I could get another one, snip snap. And that’s certainly the case. It’s great for that.
John, as you were talking about all the things that you do for providing free content which works as marketing and people come to you, I realize in the last three years, I’ve totally done all those things accidentally, or for completely different reasons. Speaking in conferences and blogging and being on this podcast, I do because I love it and I find it fascinating. But the effect has totally been that instead of a good job, I have a great job where I get to work from home in a new language with amazing developers that are so much fun. And I have recruiters emailing me all the time and people asking me personally to go out to lunch because I have that reputation, at least in the St. Louis community. And it’s totally like, “Oh my gosh. I don’t deserve this.” But it just happened because I happen to be putting out that content.
The point being, this is also amazing if you just want to use programming as a job because you can get a way better job. At the same time, so John you talked about how you just started out blogging and your soft skills post went over well. Can you describe the process of how that snowballed into where you are now?
JOHN: Sure, yeah. So, I actually did the same things, very similar to you, right? So, in fact when I first started my blog it was a passive aggressive way to get my ideas expressed to the team I was working on.
JOHN: I had problems with, you get these confrontations and stuff and no one wants to, they always want to argue. So I thought, “Okay, well here’s what I’ll do. Passive aggressively, every time there’s some kind of technical thing or I have some opinion on, I think I’ll write a blog post on my personal blog and then I know that people are going to read it. Management’s going to read it.” And so, that was my way of communicating my ideas. After I started that blog, and again I didn’t start this blog to try to market myself in any way. I just wanted to share what I knew and I wanted to share it mainly with my team. But I started finding other people were visiting my blog, people that weren’t on my team. So I thought, “Okay, this is interesting.” And then they’re commenting on my blog.
And then as I started doing this and the blog became more popular, I started getting, all of a sudden I think the moment it clicked for me was when I got an email from someone who said, “Hey, I’d like to offer you a job.” I replied back and said, “Oh, an interview for this job?” And they said, “No, no. I would like to offer you this job.” And I thought, “Well, that’s weird.” And so, I talked to him. He said, “Well, we’ve read your blog. We’ve been reading your blog for a while here. A couple of our developers read your blog. And so, we don’t really need to interview you. We’ll just give you a job offer.” And then it clicked for me. I said, “Wow. This is neat. This is powerful.” I never planned this, but there’s some value here.
So again, I didn’t really set of intentionally to try to market myself, but I started doing more things. I started getting involved in the community more. I started making some training videos for Pluralsight. That opportunity came from the blog, from the little bit of marketing as some of my posts are getting popular. And then all these opportunities just started coming to me where I was having to turn things down. And then I was doing a lot of training and I wasn’t really focused on Simple Programmer, necessarily on the whole life coach type of thing.
But then I started giving a couple of talks on how to market yourself, which I came up with the idea of the talk because when I looked back I was like, “Wow. This success that I have, I was able to quit my six-figure job and go work for myself.” All this, if I attribute it back to where did it start, it came from this blog that initially started, and then from these activities that I was doing when I was emailing Scott Hanselman out of the blue when no one knows who I am and, ‘Can I be on your podcast and talk about this?’ or emailing different people who have podcasts or blogs and trying to just get out there and get into the community, get my word out there or get my message out there.
And I thought, “Okay, I could actually take this and reverse engineer what happened by chance in my career and I could show someone exactly the steps.” I could short-circuit them to the point where they could basically do what I did but in a more deliberate way and much faster and achieve results much faster. So, that’s where that whole idea came. And then when I started giving this talk, I started giving the talk on how to market yourself at code camps, the rooms were filling up. I was surprised. I expected this talk to just be one of those weird talks that people aren’t really interested in. But I was interested in it so I was going to give it anyway. But the rooms were filling up. I was spending two or three hours talking to people after giving this talk about all these things.
And I thought, “Man, I have to build some kind of a product around this and help people do this.” And I really should shift my focus with Simple Programmer on this kind of soft skill type of topics. Not just marketing yourself, but the other things around that, because those are really what my most popular posts are. So, that’s how the whole thing came about. And that’s what brought me here today, with focusing on all these other outlier topics, but especially focusing on how to market yourself.
DAVID: And you’ve actually really nailed what I talked about in The Job Replacement Guide which is why I need to cut you off for the rest of the call. So, let’s move to picks.
DAVID: No, this is really, really valuable, because Jessica talked about this. You’re not freelancing and I just left the freelancing world for a W2 job. And it was awesome because I got to watch jaws drop all over Twitter because I was freelancing for 15 years. And I finally met up with the perfect job. And the honeymoon is still on over here and I’m absolutely loving it at CoverMyMeds. But the job offer that you got out of the blue, if you think about it, a resume is a document that’s designed to introduce you to a stranger well enough that they will interview you, that they’ll take the time to give you an interview. And an interview is an hour or 12 with a company and a team to find out if you’re going to be a good fit on the team and to find out if you can do the job. And you have circulated yourself so well that all of those questions were answered by the time that that person emailed you. And they were able to just say, “Hey, come work here.”
AVDI: Does it seem a little rough for those that are entering the field that it’s always like there are these backdoors. And for a lot times, it’s knowing someone. But you know, I guess what I’m thinking about is you go into the field being told or thinking that you have to come up with a good resume or a good cover letter or a good GitHub account or something like that. And then somebody comes along and gets a job because of their blog, or probably more often because they know somebody. I don’t know. It seems kind of tough that a lot of times the real ins are, they’re not advertised. They’re not on that list of things that everybody knows you’re supposed to do.
JOHN: Yeah, it’s very true. In fact, I devoted a whole chapter in ‘Soft Skills’ book about interviews. And I don’t talk about interviews at all. In fact, in this chapter what I talk about is how to bypass the interview by meeting the interviewer ahead of time, or getting a personal invite to apply for the job, getting a recommendation. Because I read a New York Times article that said that 80% of jobs, I think it was 80%. I could be wrong on the exact number, but that they came from personal referrals.
And the thing is you’re absolutely right. Most beginning software developers in the field, they don’t understand this. They think that they need to have a really good cover letter and resume. And they blast that out to 500 different jobs. And they wonder why they don’t have success, whereas the better approach is to pick a couple of good companies in your area or work that you’d like to work for. Try to get to know those companies. Try to get to know some of the developers in those companies. Go visit their blogs. Go comment on their blogs, right? And don’t just spam their blogs. Comment thoughtful comments on their blogs and get to know these people. And it’s a longer process. You could call it networking. But over time, what will happen is even if it’s not that someone read your blog but you’ve just developed these relationships, you’re going to get the opportunities and you’re going to get invited to apply for the job. You’re going to get personal recommendation.
Because ultimately what happens at the end of the day with an interview, being on both ends of the interview table (I’m sure that you guys will probably agree with this) is that ultimately as long as the person’s technically competent the most important factor that influences whether or not someone gets the job or is offered a position is whether the interviewer likes you. So, your skills are important. You can’t not have skills. That’s just being a fraud if you don’t have skills. But as long as you have sufficient skills, your next biggest task is to learn people skills and to learn how to make an interviewer like you. And it begins before the interview. If you can get someone to like you before the interview, then you’re a shoe-in. then when you go into the interview process, you just have a friendly chat and then it’s a formality. And they give you an offer.
JESSICA: So, meritocracy: not a thing.
CHUCK: I think it can be a thing. But you can get around it by having these connections and by doing what we’re talking about.
CHUCK: The meritocracy comes in when they don’t have any referrals. And so, they’re going through a bunch of strangers because they don’t have anyone else.
JESSICA: That’s the official channels, right? The cover letter…
JESSICA: And the resume. And these days, the official channels are a last resort for hiring.
CHUCK: And the other thing is that it still comes down to how well you put together that information. You can even look at that as marketing. How good is your brochure or your resume? How good are you at selling in person once you get in there and are talking to somebody? And a lot of that goes in there, too. So, the meritocracy may or may not exist even there depending on how well they’ve got their systems set up to pick the best candidate.
JESSICA: I believe John just told us how they pick the best candidate, and it’s the one they like.
JESSICA: Which would be just totally true. I do that in interviews. What do you do?
AVDI: So, let’s say I’m a single mom who’s trying to scrape by, or who’s trying to do better than scrape by, by getting into the computer field rather than whatever I’m doing right now. How do I find the time to do those kinds of things that improve my chances?
JOHN: I think part of it, it’s a good question. Not everyone has necessarily the time. But if you want to get to this point where you’re… I hate to blow smoke and say, “Oh yeah, it’s easy. Anyone can do it.” It’s going to take work and it’s going to take time. You’re going to have to dedicate time. I’d always tell people, “Hey, how many hours of TV do you watch a week?” Cut that out. You don’t need to watch TV. I haven’t watched TV for five years. And you could live without it. You have so much more time to do things. But aside from that, I think just picking that particular situation.
That’s actually a good example like that, a single mom who’s trying to get into the field and wants to have more than just an average career, but maybe an exceptional career in software development. How do you do it? Well, use that. I think this is, in the how to market yourself course I talk a lot about branding. And there are different ways to do it. One of the key things is just to have some kind of a niche, some kind of specialty. And it can also be a theme. So, you could be the single mom software developer blogger who documents your process of going from single mom who doesn’t know anything about technology to learning whatever programming language and seeing how friendly or vicious the community is, and all of these things that other people will be interested to follow. That’s a unique perspective that you can present.
So, I guess what I’m saying there is that you can leverage your time, because you’re already going to have to do these things. So, if you document from the world the things that you’re already doing, you’re leveraging that time. Obviously it’s still going to take effort. Again, I don’t want to blow smoke and say, “No, it’s not going to cost you any extra time.” It will. But honestly, if you wake up one hour earlier every day and you spend that one hour devoted to developing your career in some way for marketing yourself or even just expanding your technical skills to reading books, that’s going to pay off in the long run. And that’s not a huge, huge commitment. I think everyone can devote and extra hour a day to enhancing their career.
JESSICA: You’ve never been a single mom.
JESSICA: I got to dispute that hour a day thing. But I am with you on the TV thing. And you have a great point where you point out take stuff that you have to do anyway and do it in public. Learn out loud. I call it bringing the pipes together when you’ve got multiple pipes that you’re trying to keep at the right pressure. And instead of running back and forth between them, you bring them together. You do two things at once. You can learn and blog. Build the online presence at the same time that you’re building yourself. And that’s a timesaver.
DAVID: There are two things that I would respond to Avdi’s comment. Obviously, the first one is I don’t know very many people that work harder than single moms to being with. But also, when somebody says, “I’m a single mom and I don’t know. I’m doing all this stuff. I don’t have time for this,” what they’re really saying is, “I don’t have time to waste on low-yield activities.” And so, what they’re really, and I hate to tell another person what they’re actually thinking. So, forgive me for making that assumption and just assume that I could be wrong.
JESSICA: And to be fair, single dads, too.
DAVID: Sure. Oh yeah, fair point. But, well anybody that’s less privileged, somebody that’s working for less than minimum wage somewhere, whatever. The point is when they say, “I don’t have time,” what they’re really saying is, “I don’t know what to do.” And if you give them, like you said, bring the pipes together so that you’re leveraging activities, the beautiful thing about blogging about what you’re doing, people are like, “There’s nothing I could do to blog. What would I blog about?” And all you have to do is sit down and ask them, “So what did you do at work today?”
And I’m staying at a hotel right now and our shuttle driver is really, really interested in Ruby on Rails because it turns out that anybody can do it. He’s like, “Really? I could do that?” I’m like, “Yeah.” And he’s dropping me off at this really nice office building and the wheels are turning, because he’s done computers and he knows. He’s done HTML. And I’m like, “Dude, there’s no reason you couldn’t be a programmer in a year.” And the thing about blogging is that you are initiating a conversation with the world. And that is a legal move in the marketing game. Even if you’re just saying, “From housewife to question mark,” or, “From shuttle driver to programmer,” or whatever you want to make your blog be. Initiate that conversation with the world. See who listens.
And by the time you get around to taking a code camp or not taking a code camp because you can’t afford the time off work so instead you sit down and you read, learn Python the hard way instead and you document learning Python and the process that you go through that, by the time you have finished that, you have not only learned this but you have initiated a conversation with the world that now I can come back and read as somebody who’s more senior in the field. And if I’m hiring, I know a lot more about whether or not I want to have a conversation about hiring you. And if I’m not hiring, if I’m just some senior dork, I know that I want to have a conversation with you about, “Hey, let’s get together and pair. Hey, let’s get together and talk. Hey, let me introduce you to Avdi and to Chuck. And hey, let me introduce you to these people.” And it’s because you started that conversation with the world that I found you as the senior dork out there circulating around.
JESSICA: If nothing else, when I look at your resume, if I google your name I might find something that’s really you and related to programming.
DAVID: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
JESSICA: Although, question for John, this worked for you. But can it work for just anybody? As someone who just signs up for Twitter and doesn’t have any followers, how do you go from starting a blog to having a blog that people read?
JOHN: So, here’s the thing. This is the key thing. When I give this talk on how to market yourself at conferences and code camps, this is one thing that I always include in the talk, which is I’ll say, “Okay. Everyone in the room, hold up your hand if you have a blog.” And about 50% of the room, sometimes less, will hold up their hand. Then I’ll say, “Okay, keep your hand up if you have written a blog post in the last month.” And most of the hands will drop. There’ll be a few hands left. And then I’ll say, “Okay, keep your hand up if you’ve written a blog post in the last week.” And then there’ll be one hand up, maybe two. A lot of times zero out of rooms of maybe a couple of hundred developers. And so then, that’s where I say, “Well, look at this.” If you just write a blog post every week, if you were just consistent enough to do this, you’re going to beat out 99% of developers. You’ll be in the top 1% if you just write a blog post every week. It’s so simple.
So, even though there’s a lot of competition, even though it might seem difficult, it comes down to consistency. If you can be consistent, if you can stay the course for, let’s say it’s going to take a year. You might be blogging every week for a year and hardly anyone’s coming to your blog, but if you make it past that year mark of writing once a week, you’re going to see a bump in traffic. I guarantee it. It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter how bad your writing is. First of all, your writing is going to improve. My writing improved drastically. I’m still a horrible writer, but I’m now not as horrible. Now people don’t just immediately close the browser window and wash their eyes out with soap when they read my post. But my point is that consistency is the key differentiator, right? You can run up the hill that other people won’t run up and they won’t follow you. But you have to be willing to be consistent. You have to be willing to do this.
So, I really think honestly, that anyone can achieve results. And if you’re willing to play the long game here, to say, “Okay, I’m not going to try and become an instant, my five minutes of fame instant stardom and develop all these Twitter followers and blog followers overnight,” but if you’re saying, “Look, I’ve got a plan here, a five-year plan. And I’m going to blog. I’m going to be consistent. I’m going to build. Every day I’m going to wake up in the morning and I’m going to think, what brick can I put in my wall today?” knowing that over time you’re going to build a wall from those bricks. If you’re that kind of person, if you’re willing to do that, you’re going to be successful. I guarantee it. I stake my reputation on it.
AVDI: Woody Allen has the famous quote that 80% of life is showing up.
AVDI: Which I think is, he’s referring to I think success there. And I think that’s exactly what you’re saying. It’s shocking how many people just aren’t going to show up.
AVDI: Either literally or figuratively. And so, by showing up consistently you’re ahead of the game.
JESSICA: There’s also the part where John started writing this blog for his own purposes. And it’s the same with me. I started blogging and writing and then speaking for my own purposes because I learn from it, and because I enjoy it. And if you go into it for that, for the love of it, one it’s going to be way better. And two, you really, you can’t lose.
DAVID: Yeah, yeah.
AVDI: Yeah. Yeah, speaking as somebody who did this, as someone who did achieve where I’m at now in large part I guess from starting to blog early and branching out into other media, yeah you really do have to just, you got to be careful of looking at it from a purely strategic point of view.
AVDI: You’ve got to be a little bit strategic but at the same time if you go into it initially thinking about how this is going to get me that great job, there are a whole lot of people out there and a whole lot of distractions out there that are completely focused on feeding that dream, I guess. There are things like Klout, K-L-O-U-T.
AVDI: Which is a complete waste of time and exists entirely to stroke people’s little egos and tell them, “Yeah, you’re…”
JESSICA: Is that a waste of time?
JESSICA: How is stroking ego a waste of time?
AVDI: Yeah, but if I want my ego stroked, I’m going to get it done by a person, not by some machine.
DAVID: You’re welcome for what I just didn’t say.
AVDI: But there are all these services and people and blogs and schemes, oodles of schemes out there, that are all ready to jump on you and say, “Let me help you get your blog the next level to success and follow backs and readers and ads and all this stuff.” And you can get really distracted by that stuff early on if you’re not careful. And you really got to be like, “No. I’m just going to focus on contributing to the world, period.”
DAVID: Tell your story. Get your story told.
AVDI: Yeah, tell your story. Contribute to the world. And what happens, happens. And it’s okay to sit back a few years down the road and evaluate, “Okay, am I enjoying my media ventures here?” blogging or whatever it is. And, “Is it bringing me anything good or not?” But yeah, you got to be careful about getting distracted by all the little things, the things that will try to feed on that impulse to get ahead by blogging.
JESSICA: None of these things are going to get you that great job. All of them are going to increase your chances of getting it.
DAVID: This is just going to increase your circulation, yeah.
CHUCK: I want to push another button here. I know several people who, they get the idea of putting content out there. But then they go, “I’m not a very good writer. I don’t really enjoy writing for a blog.” Are there other things that people can do?
JOHN: Oh, yeah, yeah. There’s a huge list of things that you can do. I always borrow from my buddy Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income who’s real good in a different circle, at internet marketing in an honest way, the same principles of providing value to others that I really try to uphold, which he says, “Be everywhere.” And so, I think there’s a huge value in that, that when someone looks for whatever particular topic. And I always recommend that you have some kind of a niche, some kind of specialty that you try to niche down as small as possible.
I’ll throw a quick example of why, because I think a lot of people would argue with that. But this is the example I use all the time which I say, “Okay. Your garbage disposal breaks. So then, you go through and you look for plumbers and you see ABC Plumbing, you see Joe’s Plumbing. And then you see Mr. Garbage Disposal Fixit Man Plumbing, Inc. Which one do you call?” [Chuckles] You’d probably call the Mr. Garbage Disposal Fixit Man. Even though ABC Plumbing could probably fix your garbage disposal, they might even do a better job, but the smart guy who owns the Mr. Garbage Disposal Fixit Man, he decided to niche down very specific. So, he’s going to probably make a lot more money. He’s going to have a lot more clients. It’s important to niche down. He’s going to be found more often.
So, bringing it back to my main point here. If you basically niche down, then if someone searches for whatever your niche is, if you’re, “I’m the Android List View guy,” or whatever very specific thing, they should see you on blog posts. They could see you on podcasts. They could see you on video, on YouTube videos. I’ve been using YouTube very successfully. They could see you on magazine articles at conferences. There’s a whole list of things. Or books, they look on Amazon. Or maybe you have a smaller eBook. There are all these different mediums that you can use to spread your brand and message. And you should try to be on as many of them as possible.
Again, you’re not going to just explode into the scene and then suddenly produce podcasts and be an interviewee on a podcast and write a magazine article and write a book and create videos and all of this stuff. You’re not. But you might start off with blogging. And maybe if you don’t even like blogging, then maybe you focus your efforts more on, hey can you do YouTube videos? Do you like to talk in front of a camera? I like to talk in front of a camera. Can you produce a podcast? Do you like podcasts? Do you like talking, interviewing people? So, there’s a whole bunch of different areas. Think about all the media that you consume. What are all the things that you consume? Where do you get your news? Where do you spend your time consuming things? Those are all the places you can be also and that are going to help you in your career in marketing yourself.
DAVID: That’s awesome.
AVDI: I’d like to ask a question from a slightly different perspective now. And if this outside the area you address just let me know. Now let’s say I’m a consultant, which I was for many years, or several years. All this stuff that we’ve been talking about so far is great for getting exposure to other programmers or to people who are in the field. But let’s say I’m a consultant and I don’t have trouble getting noticed by other programmers. But who I really want to be noticed by is someone in construction who’s building houses and needs software to manage that, just as an example, the people that are outside the field that need software consultants. Do you have any insights into reaching them?
JOHN: So, there are two ways that I look at this. So, there’s one… it depends on how specific you need to be. So, my blog primarily caters to software developers, how to live better lives. A lot of the topics aren’t even technical. But I get software developers who read my blog. They email their managers and their managers are whatever high up the chain. Suddenly the CEO calls or the CTO calls and says, “Hey, I’d like you to do some consulting for our company. A lot of our developers say that you’re really good,” or, “Can you do training for us?” So, I think just marketing to software developers, just providing value to software developers is going to spread the word, spread your name enough such that non-technical people that work with those software developers are going to contact you from time to time. And that’s plenty to be able to build just a consulting business.
Now, if you’re specific like you said, like if you’re building specifically software for the construction industry or something like that, then what you create value-wise and maybe we’re going off the rails a little bit here, but what you’re creating value-wise has to be value for that specific industry. So, if you create…
AVDI: I was just using that as an example. What I’m really saying is that when you’re consulting specifically, you’re in that quandary of all the people that you know are probably programmers. But the people you really need attention from are non-programmers.
JOHN: Right, okay. So yeah, so then I would just say that the first thing that I talked about is really, it really does work. It’s going to be very hard to reach a generic mass of non-programmers. You can reach a specific one. But your best bet is going to be through programmers and through building up your name to the point where even someone who’s slightly into the technical field would know. Or when they search for it, right? That’s another thing, is if you provide a lot of technical articles about a particular topic in software development then this non-technical person searches on that topic, they see blog posts from you about that. They see podcasts or whatever it is, all this media from you, and then they say, “Oh, this guy must be the authority.” Or if you write a book in that area, then they say, “This guy must be the authority,” or, “This gal must be the authority in this area.” and so, they’re likely to reach out and contact you.
CHUCK: Yeah, one example of this, I have a few examples of this. But one of them is there was a video series, I guess there still is a video series but it’s old, on Teach Me To Code about how to build a Twitter clone. And you would not believe the number of people who contacted me asking me to help them build a Twitter clone. So, it’s right up there. It directly addresses the problem that they have. I know other folks who talk about other IT issues in whatever field they want to be in. So, be that oil and gas, this or that. And they’re not directly addressing anything that they can do for those companies. But the fact that they’re answering the questions that those companies have, then when they do have a problem that this person or that person can directly solve then they go in and they say, “Oh yeah. Well, I’ll just hire you to come in and set up my network,” or set up my server or write my web app or build a mobile app, or whatever it is. And if you’ve done work that’s related to where their problem space is and you can demonstrate it, then that’s where you get that work.
JESSICA: Chuck, you said something interesting there. You had something going a while back about a Twitter club and then that was off your radar, I’m guessing. But people called about that?
CHUCK: Yeah, it was a Twitter clone. It was built in Ruby on Rails. I didn’t even do the videos, which is kind of funny, but they were on my website.
JESSICA: Ah. But what matters is you had content out there that wasn’t your main focus. It just happened to be something that you threw out there. And it got you attention. It got people talking to you and knowing about you. Sometimes, I think about writing a blog post and I don’t think anybody is ever going to use this. It’s not my main focus. It’s just something that I want to remember for later. So, I’ll throw it up there as a reference for myself so when I google it next time I’ll find my own blog, which happens to me all the time. Diversity in what you post can also help. Just post stuff randomly. Post a bunch of stuff. You never know what’s going to catch on. And the things that I think are going to be important popular blogposts aren’t. And the things that I just threw up there sometimes take off. There’s a little randomness to it.
JOHN: There is. That’s true. It makes me so angry. I spend hours crafting this perfect blogpost and I’m like, “Oh Hacker News is going to love this. Everyone’s going to upvote this thing. It’s going to go crazy.” And then I posted it and one person comments and like, “Ah, that was a pretty good post but you have a typo.”
JOHN: And then you produce this crappy post that you’re about ready to hit delete on. I think I wrote this post on why C++ was not back. And I was like, “Uh, I just had to come up with something. I don’t even like this,” and I almost hit delete. And then I publish it and then the next day there’s 600 people on your website. What is going on? This post has gone crazy. It’s gone viral. And so, you don’t know. You don’t know what’s going to be the big hit. But that’s where it comes down to one of the other things that I really advocate, is just ship it. You can’t be second guessing yourself all the time. Consistency trumps perfection. So, make sure that you’re always just publishing and being consistent. And you just have to leave it up to fate to decide what’s going to happen with that post.
But a lot of people don’t ever post or they don’t ever put themselves out there, because they’re afraid of looking like an idiot. They’re afraid of failure. And you got to get over that fear. And you got to realize, look you’re going to have hits. You’re going to have misses. And sometimes you’re going to put stuff out that’s going to be embarrassing. But you don’t know which of those are going to be which. So, you just got to do it and get over that fear. And if you’re always waiting for the perfect thing, then you’re never going to write anything. You’re never going to do anything, because it’s never going to be perfect.
JESSICA: And you don’t have to be right to start a discussion.
DAVID: Yeah, yeah.
CHUCK: The [inaudible] internet’s ever wrong?
DAVID: There’s a beautiful set of stats about Michael Jordan who’s now a dated reference. But he talks about, it was just a poster of him and basically it was listing all of his bad stats. He’s like, I have missed 782 game-winning shots. Like, I had the ball for the game-winning shot 782 times and I missed. And 17 or maybe 74, I don’t know, some of them, 17 of them were in championship playoffs. And it just listed everything he had ever done wrong.
JESSICA: But that’s not what people remember.
DAVID: And that’s not what people remember. And basically, it’s like, I missed the game-winning shot 782 times but I took the game-winning shot over 3,000 times. And people remember the other number. And yeah, you have to start that conversation with the world.
JOHN: Yeah, I love that quote. That’s such a great quote, because people don’t realize that failure is not the end. It’s a step on the way.
JESSICA: You remember your failures a lot more than other people do.
JESSICA: Other people are just going to notice the blog posts that did get 600 comments.
DAVID: Yup. So, I have a totally out of the wild question for you which is, I was just talking with Sam Livingston Gray a few weeks ago and I was discussing this similar kind of finding the invisible backdoors into jobs. And basically what I was talking about was this marketing thing, this knowing people and that sort of thing. And sometimes when the person you know is the CEO and the CEO goes to the hiring manager and hands them your name and phone number and says, “Hey, I think we should talk to this guy,” the hiring manager doesn’t hear that as a suggestion. The hiring manager is like, “Oh crap. I have to call this guy.” It’s a great reference. And Sam said, “Yeah, but there’s a problem with that. And that is that if you’re circulating out in public, you are by necessity subject to and playing into selection bias,” which means that we straight white males have an unfair advantage. And so, isn’t it unfair for us to be doing this?
And he talked about a couple of companies that had started doing double-blind selection where you go to their website and you put your resume in a very specific format and then they strip off your name and then they review your resume. And then they decide if they’re going to interview you. And he had been talking with this company and with somebody at this company. And he’s like, “Man, I totally ought to apply. Who do I talk to, to get hired over there?” And this person was like, well, you go to our website and you fill out the double-blind interview. And he’s like, “Oh, duh, of course,” because it’s a genuine meritocracy. We don’t want to have selection bias.
And Sam asked this great question and I think I have a pretty good answer for it, but I want to throw this one at John. Sam’s question was basically, what would happen if everybody did this? You have to ask yourself that question of all this schmoozing and circulating and marketing, isn’t it really unfair of us to do this? Because what would happen if everybody did this?
JOHN: That’s a good question. It’s a difficult question, right? But here’s where I come to this. And I try to always have this philosophy. I’m not in support or against anything because I think we’re in support or against too many things.
JOHN: And it just drains our emotional resources, which is a resource that gets depleted. And when you deplete that just but reading news articles that make you angry and whatnot, you actually are less productive because it’s actually used up some of your willpower and energy. But aside from that, what I usually say is that there’s a way that we would like the world to work and there’s the reality of how the world works. And we have to, not one or the other is something that we can ignore. We have to envision how we would like the world to be and strive to make the world that place. But at the same time we have to live in the reality of the world as it is, because to deny the reality of the world as it is, is pretty foolish as well.
So, I guess what it comes down to is that I think honestly that everyone should use whatever advantages that they have. Different people have different advantages in life, because that’s how the world works. But at the same time it doesn’t mean that you take advantage of other people. There’s a difference between playing to your strengths and playing against other people’s weaknesses. And I think it’s a line that’s a somewhat blurred line. But you have to be careful not to cross because some things that you do hurt other people in order for your benefit. And some things don’t. And you have to make that decision where that is.
And getting into the philosophical, ethical debate here, yeah I think the world would be a better place if we didn’t have to do so much marketing, if it didn’t rely so much on reputations being what really determines how people get hired and bill rates. If being a celebrity software developer didn’t get you a higher rate but everyone looked at your skills and what kind of person you are and what kind of a teammate you would be and that’s what determined it. But the reality of the situation is that’s not true. You could be the best software developer in the world and you could be the best team player. But if no one knows who you are, you’re just not going to get that high name client or that really lucrative job offer. It’s going to be really difficult for you.
So, you’ve got to play the both. You got to say, “Look, I want the world to work this way and I’m going try as best as I can to make an impact on the world.” But at the same time, you got to work in the reality too and say, “Hey look, I have to do these things to market myself because these are the things that are going to really make or break my career.” And that’s the world we live in. So, I don’t know. That’s my answer.
DAVID: I have a follow-up to it, but Jessica is literally typing, “Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh” in the back channel.
JESSICA: You can’t see me waving my arms around in excitement.
DAVID: I yield the floor.
JESSICA: Yeah, David brings up a great point and John totally emphasizes it. This is the system we have. We can game it in our favor but we can do that from both sides.
JESSICA: On a personal side, we want to get jobs. We can work within the system to get our resume, to not have to use our resume, to get ourselves out there and get ourselves hired where we want to be. And then once we’re there we can game the system the other direction. Because when we are interviewing people, if we look around and see what everyone else is using to hire and if other people are looking only are people with blogs or who speak at conferences, or who have a resume without typos, or who are really suave in interviews, any of these biases and heuristics that we can bypass and go with that double-blind interview process, then we can find the diamonds in the rough that are fantastic programmers who were overlooked by the system, because the system has all these criteria that, no, they’re not fair but it’s how it is. So, I can build a more diverse team by putting a lot more work into interviewing than just googling.
DAVID: Yeah. So, I have a three-part answer to this and I’ll try to make it short. You guys know that I tend to take forever. I can’t say my name in 50 words or less. But the first part is that if you’re a disabled black woman, you should be looking for every company out there that does double-blind interviewing so that you can get into the interview on a meritocracy.
Also, you actually have a little bit, this is arrogant of me to say this and I don’t have any scientific evidence to back this up but I suspect it’s true, a company that has instituted double-blind interviewing is actively seeking diversity, which means that if you show up and you are not a straight white male, you might actually have an edge over the straight white males because they’ve already got 9 out of 10 straight white male people on the team. And they’re really looking for some more diverse input, right? So absolutely, if you are on the intersection of lack of privilege, go find these people that are actively seeking diversity and hook up with them, because they’re looking for you.
The second point that I would make is that what if everybody did this? Well, Jessica is a good example of this. If all of the minorities and women and people of alternate orientations or whatever, if they start blogging and they start giving conference talks and they start promoting themselves, guess what? They’re going to be more successful at job hunting. They’re going to find the same backdoors into companies that the straight white males are finding.
JESSICA: Then I’m going to have a lot fewer invitations and that would be a great thing.
DAVID: Well, I don’t want to agree with you too hard, really. I’d feel sad for the loss of you. But for the gain of other people…
AVDI: I don’t know. Your talks are pretty great.
DAVID: Yeah, yeah. But the new blood might actually raise the bar, which would be crazy awesome, right? And then Jessica, you talked about the third point which is what would happen if everybody did this? If everybody started blogging and everybody had perfect resumes and everybody had these things, the answer is the world would change. The game would change. We would suddenly have so much more information that we would say, “Okay, we have a new playing field.” And the rules of the game would change. The rules of the system would change. And the people who learned how to game the system the first time around are going to be the first people to figure out how to game the new system. And it’s a continuing thing. The world can improve. The world can get better. And the people who are gaming the system and the people who are hacking on the fifth column inside the patriarchy or whatever, who are trying to change the world from within, we’re going to be in there going, “Yes. We have changed the world. The world is a better place.” And it’s because everybody did it.
And I don’t necessarily think… Now, there are some areas where yeah, if everybody does this then it is going to be, we get good things at the expense of leveraging our privilege against people who don’t have it. And that is unfair and that’s unethical. But if we change the game for the better then so much the better, I strongly feel that.
JOHN: And here’s the thing. Really, the reality of the situation is not everyone’s going to do this. Never is there ever going to be. In fact, if you take all the developers that are in the world and you say, just the ones the listen to podcasts, they’re in the top, probably less than 1%. Most software developers don’t even read blogs or listen to podcasts or go to conferences. They just are what I think Scott Hanselman called them the dark matter developers. But that’s a very small minority.
So then, you take of the listeners of let’s say software development podcasts which are the top, elite programmers. Everyone who’s listening to this podcast, you’re awesome, right? But you know that you’re awesome because you actually care about your craft and the majority of people don’t. So then, you take that percentage and how many of those people that actually care about their craft enough to listen to podcasts and to read blog posts and attend conferences will actually go and take the step and create a blog for themselves and try to market themselves? That’s a small fraction of that fraction. So, the reality of the situation is that it will always be effective and work, I think, because there are so few people that are willing to do what it takes to actually boost their career or to market themselves out there.
DAVID: You just blew my mind. I now have a fourth answer to that question.
DAVID: Which is something you said earlier in the call, which is that if you just blog once a week you’ll stand out. And the way you phrased it is if you charge up that hill no one will follow you. And the very interesting answer to what if everybody did this? The answer sadly is they won’t.
JESSICA: Not everyone can. And not everyone wants to.
DAVID: Not everyone can. And that’s a fair argument to using surplus privilege to unlock invisible doors and shatter glass ceilings wherever you can. But there are a lot of people who won’t or don’t. And those are the people that, I mean everybody at that conference that didn’t raise their hand were in a first-world country with access to the internet and time to write a blog.
DAVID: And 99 of them had their hand down.
CHUCK: Well, we’re starting to get toward the end of our time. I do want to make another point and this goes back to the beginning a little bit. And that is that I don’t think we explicitly called this out. But most of the time when a company is hiring, they’re hiring because they have problems they need solved and their staff is unable to do it, either because they don’t have time or they don’t have the capability to do it. And so, when they’re trying to find more people, that’s what they’re looking for. They’re looking for somebody who can solve those problems for them. And so, what this process is, is sure, it’s to get noticed. But it’s also to demonstrate to them that you can solve their problem. Because if you can do that and they know that then they can shortcut a whole bunch of stuff to figure that out and simply hire you.
JOHN: Right. In fact, you’ve just hit on the very definition of marketing, which is basically marketing is not this evil thing. it is essentially at its core, the only reason why marketing exists is to connect a person who has a need for a product or service who has a problem, a person who has a problem, with a solution to their problem, whether it be a product or service or person. And that’s the key. Without marketing, people with problems wouldn’t know what their solutions are. And so, as a software developer marketing yourself that’s essentially what you’re doing. You’re filling that gap. You’re basically providing a value by letting people know that you exist to solve their problem, whether it be for hiring a developer to work on their project or whatever it is. That’s essentially what you’re trying to do.
JESSICA: And that’s very ethical, unlike those Saturday morning commercials.
JOHN: Yeah. [Chuckles]
JESSICA: Where they create a problem that your kids then demand the solution for of buying that toy.
JESSICA: We’re not creating problems. We’re solving them.
JESSICA: And adding value. That’s a win.
JOHN: So, could I give away something on this podcast? Would that be…
CHUCK: Yeah, absolutely.
JOHN: Okay. So, I’ve actually got two things to give away. The first thing obviously for my course, for how to market yourself as a software developer. If you go to DevCareerBoost.com, that’s D-E-V career boost dot com, I’m going to give a $100 off coupon off of the course. So, all you have to do is just use the coupon code. I’m sure you can guess what it is. It’s RUBYROGUES. [Chuckles] And you’ll get $ 100 off of the course. And also, if you signed up through here, you can email me personally and I’ll give you some personal help with the course and implementing it, because I want to see people that care about their careers in software development, listeners to this podcast succeed.
The other thing I’d like to do, and I’d like to figure out how this could benefit you guys the best with this podcast, which is I’d like to give away three copies of my ‘Soft Skills’ book. Hard copies that I’ll personally sign and send out to three winners, which could be people who comment on this podcast episode. I don’t know. What would be most beneficial for you guys running this podcast for someone to win those three copies of the book?
CHUCK: Let’s do this. Let’s say the three things that you are going to do within the next month to market yourself. If you put those in the comments, just let us know what those are. I’d love to see what people’s ideas are for that. And if you do that, then John can go in and look at who’s left a comment with that stuff in it. And then we can pick winners from that.
JOHN: Yeah, so yeah, that sounds good. I’ll go back and look. You can let me know or we can pick winners somehow randomly. And then I will send out signed copies of the ‘Soft Skills’ book.
CHUCK: That’s awesome. Well, on behalf of our audience thank you for doing that.
JOHN: Yeah, no problem.
CHUCK: Alright, well let’s go ahead and do some picks. Jessica, do you want to start us off with picks?
JESSICA: Has anyone picked Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality yet?
DAVID: [Chuckles] The what?
CHUCK: The what?
AVDI: I think a long time ago, but I could be wrong.
AVDI: It sounds like something James picked.
JESSICA: We can pick it again, because quite recently they had a little My Little Pony 1984 mashup that was just wonderful. Alright, so this is a podcast that I’m picking, although it’s a podcast of reading Harry Potter fan fiction. But it’s really good. As far as I’m concerned, the purpose of reading Harry Potter is so that you can then listen to Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality in which Harry’s stepfather is a scientist. So, instead of Vernon Dursley, Petunia married a scientist and Harry learns all the ways of science. And then he goes to Hogwarts and uses the scientific method on magic.
CHUCK: Oh, wow.
JESSICA: Yeah, yeah. So, it’s very fascinating. And more recently, the fan fic has not been coming out as quickly as the podcasts so they’ve done some other stories, which was the My Little Pony one that I just love. Anyway, it’s great listening. It’ll get you hooked. I warn you, this is not for kids. And it is not a happy story.
JESSICA: It’s much more real. Well, yeah, it’s not a happy ending. Even if it does have an ending, I’m pretty sure it won’t be happy because the middle sure as heck isn’t happy. But you’ll enjoy it anyway.
AVDI: See? Science ruins everything.
JESSICA: That was the pearl of this episode.
AVDI: Ugh, science and their buzzkills.
CHUCK: Yeah, no kidding.
DAVID: Eh. Is it science or is it the evidence? Because I’m thinking evidence sucks.
CHUCK: Alright. Any other picks?
CHUCK: I don’t want to cut you off. Alright.
JESSICA: This one’s plenty.
CHUCK: Avdi, what are your picks?
AVDI: I guess I got a hardware pick this time. I finally decided to replace my aging tablet with a new one. And I’ve been waiting for a while to see what Google would be coming out with and they came out with the Nexus 9. And I read some of the reviews of the Nexus 9 and I decided that it sounded like the Nexus 9 was not the tablet for me. So, I still wanted to keep it with the Android because all of my stuff is in the Android ecosystem and that’s what I’m used to. So, I clenched my teeth and I bought another Samsung product. I got the Samsung Galaxy Tab S. Their names are endless. Galaxy Tab S 8.4. I think that’s the whole name. But actually, I am going to pick it because I really, really like it.
Yeah, it’s a Samsung product so it’s got their horrible software on top of Android. But Samsung’s actual hardware is always really, really good. This one has a spectacular screen, ridiculously high DPI. And it’s AMOLED which means that it’s gorgeous and super bright and doesn’t suck up very much power. That’s kind of the biggest deal to me because my biggest reason for having it is to keep my technical library on it, because tech books don’t work so well on little e-ink devices. So, I love the 8.4 form factor. It’s just about right. It’s big enough that you can read code listings with no trouble. But it’s small enough that it’s more comfortable to hold in my hand than my old 10-inch tablet. It’s ridiculously thin and light as tablets go. And for the purpose I got it for, it is suiting the purpose just fine. And it’s also been a great little device for just going through my email when I’m away from my computer. So yeah, Galaxy Tab S 8.4 yadda, yadda. Not a bad little tablet. That’s it for me.
CHUCK: You know, somebody calls it the Galaxy Tabs, right?
AVDI: I would assume so, yes. [Chuckles]
CHUCK: I know my mother would. Anyway, David, what are your picks?
DAVID: Okay, so I only had one pick today but now I have two because I want Jessica to spend the rest of her life knowing this fact. And that is that Poo-Pourri is in fact a real product that does actually exist. It’s on my bucket list to get one of our listeners to mail me one.
DAVID: So, right up there with sending Avdi some bourbon…
DAVID: Somebody send me some Poo-Pourri and I will give a review of it on the show. What it is, is it’s a product that’s like a floral scent or something like that. And you spritz it on the toilet water before you sit down. And your little submarines go down and the coating closes up over behind them. And nobody can smell that you’ve done your business in the bathroom. And the reason why it’s actually a pick, I’m going to post a link to the original Poo-Pourri commercial which is crying-out-loud funny. And they have a new Christmas commercial which is entitled ‘Even Santa Poops’. And it’s pretty decent. So yeah, Santa gets caught. Apparently he’s lactose intolerant.
DAVID: So, watching little kids complain about the smell Santa makes is always funny and always in my bailiwick.
The other pick that I have, some of you may have noticed that my voice is down in Avdi range today. And I do not have a head cold. It’s because I have discovered the band Home Free. They’re an a cappella group. They won The Sing-Off this year. And I’m not a fan of country. And these guys are a country a cappella band. And I’ve gone out and bought both their albums because I absolutely love them. The problem is that I’m a baritone, not a bass. But if you’re a baritone and you listen to Home Free you will not be able to stop yourself from trying to sing along with Tim Foust. And you will hurt yourself, because the man can hit a G0, which is in the first octave on the piano. He can open his mouth and you just feel this rumble in your chest.
DAVID: It’s amazing how low he can sing. And they do a cover of Ring of Fire with Avi Kaplan on them, who is the bassist from Pentatonix. And they won The Sing-Off last year. Anyway, the point is these two guys are probably the two best a cappella bassists on the planet right now. And they got together with Home Free and did a cover of a Johnny Cash song. And you have to listen to it. It is absolutely amazing. It’ll make your hair stand on end. And if you’re a baritone or a bass, I apologize in advance for what this is going to do to your vocal chords, because you can’t not sing along. So, those are my picks.
CHUCK: Yeah, I admit I clicked that link. It was really good. So, I’ve got a couple of picks. The first one is I’ve been having issues with my network. I’ve had an AirPort Extreme for five or six years and I think it was just dying. So, I went and I looked around to see what else I could find. And I got this NETGEAR Nighthawk and then they’ve got the funky number after it, R7000 or something, AC1900. I don’t know. They’re a bunch of numbers on here. But anyway, so it has a couple of features on it. One of them is a feature that Scott Hanselman told me I needed to have on a router that I used and that was quality of service. In other words, it prioritizes the traffic for Skype over the traffic for, say Netflix. And that way, if my wife turns on Netflix downstairs while I’m recording, because a lot of times she or the kids just don’t think about that, then it will prioritize this traffic so that we still have a high quality call. And I’ve really been liking it so far.
DAVID: And they’ve been hating it.
CHUCK: I haven’t heard any complaints yet. [Chuckles]
DAVID: Okay. They just figured TV is four pixels wide now.
DAVID: Okay. [Chuckles]
AVDI: Well, it’s probably just prioritizing it for latency purposes. And latency doesn’t matter for streaming.
CHUCK: Yeah. And then the other one that I’ve run into is I’ve been doing my recording and I had this USB iMic soundcard plugged in. And it started giving me issues, too. And so, they were hearing an echo on Entreprogrammers and when I just went through the regular sound system it worked fine. But when I had the iMic plugged in it was echoing and I couldn’t figure out what the deal was. And so anyway, I went and I got a splitter for my headphone jack on my MacBook Pro. And just to go a little bit technical on this, on your iPhone and in your Mac your plug basically has three bands on it. It’s a TRS. It might be a TRRS, which is tip-ring-ring and I don’t remember what the S stands for.
But anyway, what that allows it to do is it allows it to send and receive two signals. So, one of them is your input and one of them is your output. And what this splitter does is it splits the tip off to one and the ring off to the other. And that way, one is the input and one is the output. And so, that’s what I’m recording on today and it seems to be working pretty well. Skype doesn’t seem to want to recognize it though, so I’m probably going to be playing with it a little bit. But it was cheaper than buying a new soundcard to plug in via USB. So anyway, those are my picks. I’ll put links to those in the show notes. John, do you have some picks for us?
JOHN: So, the first one, to go into the whole marketing especially using social media is this app I found called Edgar. It’s called Meet Edgar. And I was using Buffer before, Buffer app which I still occasionally use. But the think about Edgar, what it does is it allows you to schedule social media posts but it also lets you have a queue, like a library, a backlog so that you don’t have to schedule them every week. One of the important things to think about marketing yourself is trying to stay active on the social media platforms. So, you’re always putting things out there.
And so, I always every Monday it’s like, okay I have to schedule things for the whole week. But this Edgar tool allows me to basically put all my blog posts into different categories and I post inspirational quotes (I’m sure you could have guessed that about me) and other types of topics. And it lets me schedule and randomize so that I’m always putting out something, repurposing some of my content for my blog so that it gets recycled in the social media space. So, it’s a huge timesaver for me. If anyone does this, then you’ll probably find this app very useful.
Let’s see, the second one. I’ve got one really serious one and then one kind of fun book. So, my serious book is actually called ‘Seneca’s Letters on Morality’. [Chuckles] It’s a very, very long read. But it is excellent. I have learned so much. I feel like Seneca is such a wise philosopher. And there’s just a lot to learn from his writings to his pupil Lucius. You could find it for free actually if you just search for it. But there’s also a book that I notice that someone actually put together this free translation from early 1900s into a book with all the letters. And it’s a really good read. Some of the best stuff that I’ve read as far as increasing my viewpoint in the world and seeing reality as it is. So, I highly recommend that.
The other one is now a lighter, no philosophy, a much lighter book, is this book called ‘Off to Be the Wizard’ by Scott Meyer. It started out a little rocky but it’s a fantastic book for software developers, essentially a fiction book. And it’s all about this guy, this guy versus this file and he finds when he manipulates this file, it manipulates attributes of the world and of himself. He found his own file. And he uses this to essentially become a wizard. And there’s other, I won’t spoil the book, but it’s very, very interesting, very fun read. I don’t usually read fun reads, but this one I definitely recommend.
And then the last pick that I have here is I just got this. It’s called Wonder Workshop. It’s two robots that I got for my daughter. She’s three and a half. The company is Wonder Workshop and the robots are called Dash and Dot. And they basically are little robots that, it has a xylophone that it can play the xylophone. And you can program them to move around. And it basically teaches kids programming by controlling the robots using like a Scratch, if you’re familiar with Scratch or Lego Mindstorms type of way of doing it. But these are really well-built. They’re really cool and interesting and they work with the iPad or Android app. But yeah, I’m having a lot of fun with those, with teaching my daughter at a very young age. So yeah, so that’s my picks.
CHUCK: Awesome. If people want to keep up with what you’re doing, what are the best ways to do that, John?
JOHN: Probably the best thing is just to go to SimpleProgrammer.com and to sign up for my weekly newsletter. I put out every week. I put out a new blog post, two podcasts, a YouTube video or sometimes three YouTube videos and a bunch of other stuff. So, if you’re on my mailing list, if you go to SimpleProgrammer.com you will get links to all that stuff every week.
CHUCK: Awesome. Thanks for coming. It’s been a great conversation.
JOHN: Yeah, yeah.
DAVID: Yeah, thank you.
JOHN: Yeah, thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.
AVDI: Yeah, thanks a lot.
CHUCK: Alright. Well, we’ll wrap the show. We’ll catch you all next week.
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