Ep9 - Transcript
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Kurt Kemple: On using tech to improve your life
Fabio RosadoToday, I'm joined by Kurt he is full stack developer turned Dev Re;. Working at Apollo, you co host full stack health podcast. You're a technical writer, mentor, do some conference talks and fellow streamer as well, which let me just say that I love how your stream looks like. And I think we started more or less the same time on party Corgi and your stream just went by. So congratulations on that.
Kurt KempleThank you, thank you, although I do feel it's a bit of an unfair competition because I stream for Apollo. So you know, I've just been doing like, monumental amounts of streaming as of late and my personal channel just like gets updated as a byproduct.
Fabio RosadoWhich which makes sense. Which Let me ask you, did you do the design for the Apollo streams as well? I know you're doing something with it. Yeah, it looks so good.
Kurt KempleOh, wow. Awesome. Thank you so much. Yeah. Yeah, I did the the designs for it. Well, myself and Trevor Blades did the first iteration. And then it just kind of grew from there. As I learned more things about how we were going to use the platform, it kind of evolved over time.
Fabio RosadoYeah. And one thing that I want to do is what you do. you do you automated your whole... how do you call it?
Kurt KempleSocial cards
Fabio Rosadosocial cards, yes. And I say I need to try to do something like that as well. And it's been like on backlog for ages. So I need to try to do that.
Kurt KempleWell, hit me up anytime, in more than happy to show you how I did it. . Yeah, it's uh, it's pretty clever. makes life a lot easier. But really shout out to all the tools, you know, that make it possible, because it's mostly just like Google calendars, Zapier, pipe dream and cloudinary. And you put all those together and you get automated social cards.
Fabio RosadoYeah, I think you wrote a blog post about that as well. If I'm not mistaken. That's where I saw your thing. Yep. I need to I'm going to link that in the Episode Notes. So then if folks are interested, they can have a look at it. Just to get the started, if someone doesn't know what Dev Rel is, what is a Dev Rel?
Kurt KempleYeah, so that's funny, because yeah, that's a that's an interesting question. It's actually you're gonna get a different answer, depending on who you ask, is Developer Relations, developer experience, developer advocacy, community management. I mean, these advocacy and relations and all these things have existed in other parts of many different industries for a long time. They're often called different things like partnership programmes and stuff like that. But yeah, it's a different answer, because it's new to tech. And a lot of companies do it differently. A lot of people who have the title of Developer Relations or dev advocate also view the role differently. So I'm just going to give you my personal experience, kind of what I see as the the structure of it and the responsibilities if you will, of these different roles, if that's cool. Because that, you know, it's kind of there. So I'm actually not like a dev REL I work in dev REL developer relations is the thing that I do. I'm technically a developer advocate. And under Developer Relations, to me, it really, there's kind of like a couple of different areas, the two biggest focus being community, and then the dev advocacy, right. So under Developer Relations, we kind of bundle both of those things. I do a lot of community stuff as well. But really, my focus is on developer advocacy. Developer advocacy, to me, just at the end of the day means clearing pathways for developers helping them be successful in the endeavours that they are trying to do. And it doesn't necessarily mean within a path that includes the thing that you're advocating for. I just like helping people be successful. I feel like I'm doing well, when the people around me are doing well. That's why dev advocacy is such a good fit for me. But yeah, that's kind of the the difference to me. And I would say like, you know, how I view dev REL and Dev advocacy.
Fabio RosadoYeah. And that's very powerful. Because I haven't seen such a great community, especially in Twitch, like the tech community, everybody seems to be happy to just get together help each other and just lift everybody spirits. And I think that's also one of the reasons why I just sort of fell in love with streaming and the whole thing. And like I said, we started sort of the same time as well. So it's very interesting. You had a rocky road getting to where you are now.
Kurt KempleRocky road! Sounds like an ice cream.
Fabio RosadoYeah. Which is actually my favourite ice cream. But yeah. Would you like to get to started with. How did you get here?
Kurt KempleYeah, sure. So this is like always like a weird topic. People tend to like get a little, you know, weird around it, but like, it's cool. I've been talking about this for so long. So what we're referring to is how I discovered tech and I discovered tech taking a course while I was incarcerated In North Carolina, I served about six and a half years in prison. I suffered really bad from depression, drug addiction, and just a lot of stuff. You know, drug addiction led me to a lot of bad decisions which led me to prison. When I got sentenced, I realised, you know, like, I just lost like, at least half a decade of my life, you know, close up to seven years. And it just, you know, hit me like a tonne of bricks, call that my rock bottom. And I was like, Well, I'm going to dedicate every waking second in this place to bettering myself though, that's when I'm released, at least, like I can say that I did everything, I could only be as far behind, you know, as like, just to prepare myself as well as like, like, so that my time wasn't wasted. I had already wasted enough years of my life, the fog from the drugs and this in the past, had cleared. And so it was just like, I had a much clearer picture of like, what my life was actually like, you know, things I had done and I wanted to do something better try something different. I didn't know it was tech that was not a thought, in my mind actually took a bunch of different types of trainings. So like, I have a welding certification, hvac, I'm hva certified, I can handle your refrigerant. So if you need me to come handle your refrigerant I got you.
Fabio RosadoIt always comes in handy.
Fabio RosadoAlso, but then the profession wasn't really like, this is what you can do to become one. People were just finding and figure out where they could go. And yeah, I remember, I think this must be the time when dream weaver was popular, right?
Kurt KempleActually, it was just getting out the edge of dream weaver a little bit more into that. So we're talking I got out in 2010. So we're like, 2007, 2008, somewhere around there. I don't know. It's all blur. But yeah, so just trying to figure this stuff out. Like I'm ordering books on like XML like I hear about XML and some other book or something, I buy a book on it. It was so hard to get books, like you have no idea what it's like to get stuff in there. I had no money. So I would do tattoos and sell artwork, like you draw pictures on envelopes for people to like, send like their wives and girlfriends and family and stuff like that. So that's how I would make money. And then I would save that money up, and then buy books on web development. And that's kind of like how I discovered it.
Fabio RosadoSo that was a hustle to try to get money just to get the resources so you can learn, which I think...
Fabio Rosadoprops to you. Because when you're in that situation, it's very easy for you to take the bad routes, if you know what I mean? It can be tough.
Kurt KempleYeah, yeah, it could definitely be tough prison is college for criminals. Yeah, that's like, legit. But there's a lot of people, you'd be amazed. I mean, majority of the people who are in prison don't want to be there and don't want to be criminals. So yeah, it was a surprise to a lot of folks. But a lot of people go to prison. Not because they're like, you know, villains you see in movies, they're everyday people who end up in bad situations for God knows what reasons, a lot of times systemic reasons if we want to get real about it. And yeah, so that's something that we want to take into account when we talk about like prison and people who are in prison. But yes, if you want to learn how to commit crimes better, go to prison,
Fabio Rosadoyea, but then, as well, I'm sure you're going to mention that as well. But when you are in prison for the first time, you already have a criminal record. So then when you come out, everybody's like, do you have a criminal record? Yes. Okay. Yeah, no, it's not for you. And then doors keeps closing. And then it's very easy for like, well, if I can't get an opportunity to do something better, then you need... you stillto survive, right? So it's, that's why people, sometimes they tend to going back to prison, because all the doors close. And I actually, I grew up in a poor neighbourhood in Portugal, and a lot of my friends, they took a bad turn. And when they came out, they said the same thing. It's like, Well, okay, I wanted to get better. And they said, Yeah, but you have criminal records. So I don't want you and stuff. How was the search for your first job? Did you decide to straightaway? Yes, this is what I want to do. I wants to be a web developer and I want to create websites.
Kurt KempleYeah, no, I definitely knew that I wanted to be a web developer. As far as how the job search went, it did not go well. It took me about. So I got out January 2010, I got my first job around, start of 2000 and... end of 2012, I want to say, so it took me like two full years to get my first job in tech. If you count when I started learning development, even though it's incarcerated from when I started learning and development until I got a job as close to five years. Yeah, so it was very hard. And that's the thing. So I want to just touch on what you said a little bit before about how people you know, they're not able to get jobs and they go back and like lack of support. Upon release is the that combined with unmeetable restrictions in parole is 90% of recidivism. And while prisons offer training programmes and stuff, it's just as you mentioned, when you get out you know, there's there's this whole movement against like removing the checkbox, and that checkbox is where it asks, have you been convicted or released from prison like convicted of a felony or released from prison within the last like X number of years? And yeah, checking that is a surefire way to not ever even get a call. So what I realised quickly was I just check, no, and then I can get the job because they don't do the background check before they hire you. First, they hire you, then they do the background. So it's very weird. Anyway, so get jobs. And this is like everywhere, it's actually easier for me to get a job in tech than it was at McDonald's. Like I literally could not get a job at McDonald's, or some places McDonald's actually a lot better with this now. But yeah, when I got out, I couldn't get a job there. I never got called back for McDonald's. So I started checking No. And then yeah, I'd get the job. And then they would run a background check. It'd be like two or three weeks would go by and they'd be like, Oh, hey, like, we have to let you go. Because we did a background check. And they're like, Oh, you know, we wish you would have you know, not lied about it. Because you're such a hard worker, and you do so great. You're like one of our best employees and blah, blah, blah. I'm like, Yeah, well, when I check no you don't call me back. So I'll take my chance like, don't worry, I've already applied to 15. Other places, I have two other jobs lined up that are gonna fire me in a few weeks too. So that's what I would do. I would just hop from job to job try to take on freelance, IT and web development work when I could. And then yeah, just kind of like did that until I landed my first full time job.
Fabio RosadoThat was actually my my question. If a freelancer it could be a way for folks, if they are in the same situation as you. It could be a way to go by that because after you have a few years of experience, your college degree, university degree, whatever doesn't matter that much. So you have the experience, so then you might not care so much of what you know, exactly. On paper. You know, you do understand say what I mean?
Kurt KempleAbsolutely. So I'm actually working right now on a nonprofit organisation that's going to offer training to inmates post release to teach them web development and freelancing. Yes, freelancing is a big missing piece here and the key that I wish I had known about earlier, when I was trying to find work, it does a couple of Different things, one it provides you with, it fills the time gap. So when you come out of prison, you just have a time gap. And it gives you that history, right? Like you have this big time gap. I had an empty resume for seven years. So I would do things, you know, construction or freelance work and stuff. And then yeah, I would do some work, build a website for a friend and put it on there as freelance work, you know, stuff like that. So yeah, like it helps you build a resume, it helps you build income while you're trying to do this, but it's still hard. It's like a hard world, I wouldn't have known where to start or how to freelance. And like, when you're working for yourself, there's a lot of things, you know, you might not know about taxes, and all that kind of fun jazz, and how to deal with that how to, like, watch out for red flag clients and stuff was things I didn't know, I'd get, like, caught up with these terrible clients that would suck all my time and energy out of me. So the goal is to provide four months training two months freelance training, and then you know, just like a community for these folks. Yeah,
Fabio Rosadothat seems brilliant
Kurt KempleYeah, yeah. But yeah, well, it's if I can get it going. It's hard. It's taken time, but I'm working on it working steady at it. But yeah, yeah, to answer your question you have freelance is 100% a huge help.
Fabio RosadoI'm sure that all the bureaucracy and all the paperwork and all the politics that you have to go through to get that sorted. It's just a pain in the bum. So yeah...
Fabio RosadoAnd going back to the freelancing, even now, you can go on Google and look how to do stuff. It's still not clear for a lot of folks. And you can go into this rabbit hole with all sorts of tips and advices on how to get started. But it's what you say is all these red flags on the clients doing a job and then you don't get paid. And the whole dealing with clients is though. So when you came out and you had access to the Internet, and any resources that you could get your hands on? How did you got into that - All right, I know this stuff, but I need to learn all of these other things. So how did you fill up your gaps?
Kurt KempleGood question. So I didn't know like even still coming out. And having access just inherently just having access to the internet doesn't fix the problem at all. As a matter of fact, it made it worse, because then I just realised how fucking much information was available about web development. But I had zero idea what a PHP was, or when I would use it compared to a jQuery or like, I didn't even understand that one's for the client and one for the server, like there was still a lot of learning left to do. And I just kind of struggled my way through it. I just started trying to build things, mainly a portfolio website. So that's why I started with front end stuff. I kind of worked from there backwards, you know? And yeah, it was it was a long things taking road, a lot of it self guided. Eventually, I found Twitter and started following certain people and like, but it took a long time for me to find Twitter, unfortunately. I didn't know that was a thing.
Fabio RosadoDefinitely. And it's exactly what you said, when you see these tweets about that. Oh, yeah, it'll be fine. Just keep at it. When you're stuck on a problem, and you keep being stuck on a problem. You just think, man, I suck at this, why the hell do I do it myself. So when you're a beginner, and if you don't have anyone to help you, it's, it's pretty scary. It's pretty scary.
Kurt KempleYeah, I would watch video tutorials of someone using some jQuery plugin to do this thing. And I swear for God, I would pause every second of the way, their code, my code, their code, my code, and that shit will not work. No matter what, I can't get it. I've no one helped me, I'm googling. I'm coming up with nothing. I'm so mad. so mad, but sticking with it, and then finally figuring out what it was. And you're like, what, Oh, I can't believe it. And then like, you know, that's, that's programming.
Fabio RosadoThat's why I always say if someone wants to get started with tech, or if they are starting their journey to learning to become developers, it's a good idea to look and watch some tech streams. Because when you're consuming tutorials, courses, videos, the project is already done, you don't see the struggles. So you just... when you're looking at a course, you assume that for this person, it's very easy, but I am struggling. So why the hell is so easy for this person, and it's not for me. And then when you go to a tech stream, and you see the streamer getting stuck on the same things as you even like, oh, okay, so that's all right, I can be stuck as well. It's just not me that I am bad. And I feel that this really helped me as well with my imposter syndrome. Because I used to be like, Okay, I don't have a CS degree, I'm learning on my own. I, I still don't exactly know my path. What do I want to do in tech? I know, I know, I want to do something with code. But what. I haven't figured out yet, which was actually someone on an interview, the interviewer asked me, so what do you want long term? And I was just like, I don't know, maybe full stack? I have no idea. And that was the wrong the wrong answer to give, but you know, it's Yeah, see other people struggle and you say, okay, it's alright. I can I can do this as well.
Kurt KempleYeah, and, and I think it's worth noting that in my eyes, there is a place in the world for both of those types of content. So I like happy path content that gives me the high level like I watch egghead videos all the time. I really feel like it'll help me kind of get familiar if nothing else learn terminologies get used to kind of seeing what it looks like. But yeah, that's why I'm such a big fan of live streaming. That's why live streaming was something that was important to me at Apollo as well. I also enjoy seeing people take the sad path like I like people seeing me hit issues with Apollo technologies as like a senior engineer, which is like the most contextual term in the world, because there's a lot of shit that I'm not very senior at all, you know, like a senior engineer, a advocate for Apollo hits issues with Apollo... like Blades, and I, Trevor Blades, whenever I say blades, I'm talking about my coworker, Trevor, we were doing a stream together. And we did this joking like speed run, how fast could we set up Apollo client? Well, by doing that, we rushed through something and we spent 40 minutes not being able to get subscriptions to work, right, because we accidentally didn't capitalise an S in like the string subscription. And you know, but like, people need to see that because like that will never be seen in in...
Fabio RosadoA finished Product
Kurt Kemplelike a video of finished product. Right. And the other thing I love about it, too, is like when I'm trying to figure something out, a lot of times someone in chat will say that they've all say that they've also experienced this issue. And so like it's also a good way to surface conversation with people to figure out what are the problems that they're hitting? Because as I mentioned, to me, Dev advocacy is about clearing pathways. But how do you know which pathways to clear, right like, because I mean, technically, lots of people are going to struggle in different ways, right? So it's about but I only you know, one person or we're only a team of people. So it's like, what do we fix that's going to open that pathway for as many developers as possible. So it's like a constant game. So I need to know, that's why I have to be the places where people are talking about these things. I need to see what the biggest problems people are facing are. But yeah, streaming is a big help for that.
Fabio RosadoWhy did you start streaming, because we started more or less the same time, the reason why I started was I joined party Corgi and everybody was creating content. And I was like, this for me think seems cool. I want to do something with it. And that's how I got. And that's how it started just sort of as a joke, and I just keep on going. How about for you?
Kurt Kemplefor the reasons that I just stated, except it wasn't for Apollo, I was at AWS.
Kurt KempleI wanted to start streaming there to talk to the community grow, grow the community, you know, see how people are using amplify create content about it, you know, there's a bunch of reasons why streaming is very beneficial for especially like a tech company or someone you know, who like has a product that is constantly being innovated on and stuff, you know, creating content is hard. And when you look at things like podcasts and blog posts, and polished video content, the the amount of work that goes into that smaller bit of content is a lot there's a or giving a talk, let's add giving a talk because a lot of people you know, this is Dev, Dev REL dev advocacy as a whole. giving a talk, that's actually to me, giving a talk probably has the least amount of return on investment. I like conferences, but I feel that there are better paths for awareness, if that's the goal, giving a talk is an awareness goal, it's spreading the word right. And I feel there's is better, better avenues, because of the amount of effort that it takes to prepare a really good talk, it's a lot, it's really a lot of work. I feel like I could get the same amount of benefit out of something shorter, like a stream, where we focus on that same subject, but maybe it includes another person which is more engaging or like we live code something or something like that, it still exists, I can put it onto YouTube, its value does not end when the stream ends. Also, another thing that I love to do is cut clips for my streams of like very useful things like setting up Apollo clients. It's one thing that you do with industry. And so you can create more polished content from a stream as well. But it's about the return on investment. Again, I want to help as many developers as I can. And streaming allows me to create content across a wide variety of topics, oftentimes pull out little reusable clips that are useful to everybody for other things, and grow community at the same time. Events, I think are still very good and valuable. I just think for dev advocate giving talks is not as beneficial. You know what I'd rather do, I'd rather empower someone in the community to give a talk at an event build that relationship, as well as just lift somebody up and help them out. So yeah, you know, it's just again, this is my opinion, everyone has as different opinions on what's valuable. I just don't, you know, weight those as high but yeah, I weight streaming pretty high because of all of the different things that it lets me do. We run two to three, sometimes four streams a week, you can't give that many talks a week, you can't, you know, create that many polished videos a week, you're just not going to be able to get that cadence.
Fabio RosadoAnd the stream is a bit more forgiving. Because if you make a mistake, it's all good. People expect that. And like you said, You have...
Kurt KempleIt's part of it
Fabio RosadoYeah and you have the chat where people can ask questions, people can help you. The interactivity is just a better. Ceoreo said that, I kind of feel like I don't get a whole lot of technical conference talks, since they move so fast. And she likes watching stream better for technical stuff, which is true. I find it as well, especially now that all the conference move to remote. So everything is virtual conferences now because the whole virus situation. And I've watched some, and even if I sit, let's say eight hours watching talk after talk, maybe the first half an hour, it will stay in my head and all the others you just watching like you're watching TV, you're just switch off very easily whilst if you are watching a stream, you can ask questions you can interrupt, the retention is better. And again, you see the other person making mistakes?
Kurt KempleYeah, for sure. And and I do want to say too, though, like I do really like talks. But I agree. I think the real technical deep dive talks are hard for me, I like them. For the high level stuff, though. They're really cool. Just when someone's like, this is like a new technology. And here's kind of the things that you can do with it. And like, you know, that more high level stuff, I do like it. And I think there's a place in the world for talks, for blog posts, for streams, for polished video content, and ideally, having them all like documentation also, right? All of these things ideally exist, you know, that's very hard to get to, right. You know, that's the goal. Because now you now you are covering all of the different types of learners, because it's really kind of what it boils down to is people have different, you know, ways they like to learn and absorb information. And that might even change depending on the subject matter. Like Ceora said, for deep dive much better for a stream. But who knows, maybe, you know, she likes blog posts better for other things, right? Like it's, it's about trying to meet developers where they prefer to get content. And so our job should be to be talking to our community in particular, and figuring out you know, where the best places to meet them at. So, sense.
Fabio Rosadoyeah, that makes sense. How can you create a network of people that's going to help you achieve your goals faster? Because I'm sure that with your previous experience and struggles, you had to get that network going, and every developer that I have spoken so far on the podcast, they say, you need to build your network, you need to build a network, which sometimes I get some good advices like, just go on Twitter, start dming people, talking with people and stuff. But there's still always a barrier there. I'm not sure if you have any sort of advice on how to network better, or how to network even.
Kurt KempleYeah, yeah, I mean, networking is a very interesting thing. I don't really I'm not even like a huge fan of I say network sometimes. But like, we should move away from that term. It's just like, focus on building your community find like the people, you know that you want to interact and interact with them. So here's the thing growing a network like so Will Johnson has a great book that can actually help you get started and kind of figure out you know, how Twitter works, you know, the ideas behind networking. And one thing that he says, which I agree with 100% to which is like, focus on engaging over engagement, when you start out just meaning like when you first sign up to Twitter, or if you've been on there for a while, you know, but haven't gained a following. When you tweet something, no matter how good it is, you could be tweeting like really awesome things. Unfortunately, the way that Twitter works, because they want people to stare they want people to Doom scroll, right? So they're going to surface content through this algorithm that's based on followers and interactions and all this other garbage. Your tweets aren't going to show up for many people, even if they're following you. There's so much other crap that's going to go into their timeline before yours does because of Twitter. So find people who are in the community who you like, who you respect, who have a decent following and engage with them, because that's going to show up for everyone you know. And now I'm warning I'm not saying go reply guy all over people's timelines. Like I always have to, you know, mark this right? I'm not saying go offer unsolicited advice, but just like saying, hey, or like, that's cool, or like, just opening the door to conversations, ask questions, you know, or Yeah, like if you see someone asking a question or for help, then that's a great time to offer some some help. And I think you know, it's just about trying to grow it as organically as you can, because unless they're driven by money, like companies have referral programmes where you know, they're trying to get buku bucks for like getting you to come work with them, in most cases, there's going to be a lot of trust involved in somebody making a referral for you. And the best way to get jobs is through referrals. But it is not also the only way you have other options. When I was first starting out, I would just, I created three different versions of my resume one for kind of each type of role in which I thought I could find myself in. And then I created a couple generic cover letters around each one of those type of roles that I might find myself in. And I would apply to 50 places to 100 places within a month. And it's like a numbers game. And you know, and it was very exhausting. And I'm like, that's on the borderline of hustle porn. So like, you know, take it with a grain of salt, but you can also blank it, I was like, you know, if you go on monster.com, there's a lot of web development jobs. And yeah, you know, you want to be careful, you don't end up at some place that is, you know, just like a developer mill and a complete toxic environment. But there are companies who, like have decent, you know, engineering teams that still use monster, and stuff like that. And it makes it very easy to apply. Because you upload a couple of your resumes, you can pick which one you attach, you can attach a cover letter that you've copied and paste it in, you can manage all of them through their UI, you can use something like air table, or Trello or another kanban type, or GitHub issues, even you know, to track these jobs and where you are at with them so that it doesn't become unmanageable. And you know, there's just like a lot of things that you can do, but landing your first couple jobs, it's, it's going to be very hard. It's going to take a lot of time. But it has the ability to change your life. So it definitely changed mine. I saw my ceiling as something way different than this. You know, I can't believe that I do what I do for the day. I can't believe I'm sitting here right now, having this conversation with you. This was not something that I would have seen in my life A long time ago. Yeah, there you go. Yeah, a Google Sheet could be anywhere, anywhere. And you know, and it's just like, it's, uh, you know, it's hard, and it sucks. But yeah...
Fabio RosadoI think if someone needs to prove that it's possible to break into tech, you just need to see your story. And that's it.
Kurt KempleYeah. Sorry, real quick, but I don't think that's accurate. I am a cis-white male in my mid 30s. I am like the poster child of the tech world, there's a lot of bias that goes into me being where I am today. There's a lot of other people who I know who got out around the same time I am are on the same path and their meeting a lot of other struggles, it gets exponentially harder, the less amount of privilege that you happen to be exposed to or have. Right so because that also gets close to like the inspo porn, which is you know, everyone's path is going to be really freakin different and to tech, and some of y'all out there gonna face a lot more struggles than I did. Yes, it was hard, but you take someone who's like black or Hispanic or and you put them in my background, and their journey in tech is not going to look like mine.
Fabio RosadoThat is a very good point. Yes, this is a very good point. And I didn't really meant in that sense. You know what I mean?
Kurt KempleYeah, for sure
Fabio Rosadoit just sometimes when people say, No, this is impossible, I can't do it. Because I don't have a CS degree. A degrees is a degree it's a piece of paper. And I keep saying that piece of paper... universities are meant for you to know the right people that can open your doors. Unless you want to be a doctor, lawyer and all these professions that you require that piece of paper, a lot of times it's for you to know the right people and start that network that you need to.
Kurt KempleYeah I think growing your network is one of these things, it shouldn't be like a short term goal, it shouldn't be like a task on your list, grow my network, something you can check off. That's something that is forever growing and should be expanding because it's just like, you know, you want as big a view of the world as you can get anyway, so you might as well as just try to interact and build relationships with a lot of folks no time like the present everybody's at home. So it's a great time to you know, try to reach out and build some build some relationships and that's I want to focus on that which is like, a lot of times in network tends to have a self focused connotation whereas a relationship is bi directional and a true network, you are also helping other people who are in your network. So keep that in mind as well too. You know, this would be something we all help each other grow.
Fabio RosadoAnd this is also going back to what we said earlier on, is trying to help other people. That's the best way for you to grow your network, and try to lift up people around you, when you keep doing that without expecting others to get something back to you. Just do it because you want the other person to achieve and be the best they can. Then you start getting other folks drawn to you because of that. So, yeah, it's the whole don't think what you can get just give.
Kurt KempleYeah. And something else that I wish I had learned too yeah exactly is making friends instead of getting something from someone 100%. Yeah. And then there's a couple other things too, that I think helped people starting out to one learning in public, learning in public is in a valuable tool to growing your network. And like I was talking about engaging with others this is on the flip side, creating tweets, you know, blog posts notes, whatever videos, anything but just do it in public because one thing that I did notice myself in my own social media presence, especially with Twitter was I adopted graphql pretty early it was still pretty young. And when these technologies come out that people tend to like clip on to you end up if you have been creating content about that, there's like my first experience kind of learning in public, although I was still doing it for a job I was at Major League Soccer, but by creating this content around graphql there wasn't any so when people Google these things my name popped up, you know, and then they started following me so when I started writing about graphql I went from like 300 or 400 followers on Twitter to a couple 1000 pretty quickly. So by learning in public if you're learning about a certain technology that becomes something that people start to find invaluable or becomes like you know the next big tech topic, and I was just like experimented with it at the time. And then yeah, you might growing a network through that means and you get to share information with people, which is really cool.
Fabio RosadoI love that because I keep saying to folks that just create a blog it doesn't need to be pretty it doesn't need to be anything just put out what you've been learning. What did you struggle because if you are starting to learn, let's say Python, I started with Python. If I wants to go and speak about Python basics. For me, it makes sense, but for someone that is starting now. Things don't make sense when you're starting so they have a better perspective they have that beginner's perspective that can be invaluable to someone that is on the same level as you. And this is one thing that I love with Party Corgi is that everybody's like, yes just put it in writing, create videos create content just put it out there because people will find it valuable,
Kurt Kemplewhich which actually brings me to another point that I want to discuss which is that we'll make all of this, a lot easier for you is try to find yourself a support system, a community right and like when we look at party Corgi, it's hard to put yourself out there when we talk about learning in public and stuff I know at least it was for me. I had a very hard time like just even tweeting, I, the amount of anxiety I would get from having an opinion about a tech thing would just blow me away like I viewed blog posts as these, you know, polished gems that had to be like, you know, like a thesis right like indisputable like I'm gonna prove this I'm gonna sit down in front of like a panel of, you know, doctors and like argue with them about the validity of my assessment right but that is not what it's like but it feels like that and actually at times it can be like that like I a years ago it's gone now I deleted the whole account but I did a couple of YouTube videos and I didn't... the comments were just horrendous really hurtful things people say in there. And it's just, you know, I stopped for a while but yeah having that network having the support to lean on folks who have been there who can help kind of guide you along that process and boost you up and celebrate what do you do when you, when you work up the ability to create content and release it to the world. I you know it's invaluable. At least for me I'm pretty introverted and I get like real weird about, you know, self esteem issues and all that fun stuff, depression, all that. But for me like having a support system like that full of people who were like, oh you're, you're awesome, you know, thanks for creating this it's so helpful to me or just like people are like, Oh, you should you should write about that or something like that like fuels me all the time 90% of the content that I've actually been able to create has been because someone has been like, you should write about that, even that graphql stuff I was talking about they were like, you know, no one's really like using it at this level in production right now. Not a lot of people have written about it you should write about that. I did, and I got a bunch bunch bigger network because
Fabio RosadoI guess the next step is going to be writing a book about graphql.
Kurt KempleI'm never writing a book! Here's a funny story I was writing a book about graphql. But I by the time I had my outline figured out and like what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go things had already changed, and I was like Jesus P. So then I went back and redid it and I got through chapters like one and two mostly and I was about ready to start chapter three and then other things changed in my viewpoint changed on what should happen it's like, I just don't have the, I don't know what the word is there I guess the focus or like the thing to like say this is going to stay like this is relevant enough for this book and I'm not going to touch it again. I couldn't do it. There's very valuable ones, Eve Purcell Oh Alex banks did an amazing job with learning graphql. And that was the other thing once that came out like I just recommend that book I'm not going to write it when it comes to learning graphql that's the book that I recommend yeah textbooks, is just about as good as your CS degree,
Fabio RosadoI was going to say that
Kurt Kempleyeah, Ceora I feel you Yeah, never could write a book like about AWS like one too big like you got to try to figure out like what it's gonna be focused on but then as you do other things start to leak in like you know the scope of it starts to grow. And it's just not for me. Yeah. And really, but I will say this like writing a book is also a good way to help build your network so don't completely knock it off you don't make a lot of money to me book writing in the tech world here's Fun fact folks like the royalties that you get it's pretty low. Unless you sell like lots and lots of copies, it's more about having your name on a book than it is about making money you will generate some side income from it but you know generally it's not like enough, unless you're going to go into that full time like constantly producing books to like do for a career, but it is a really good booster for your resume and your network stuff but so don't write it off and it's for different different strokes for different folks I personally don't enjoy that I'm also not a big writer like if you notice I don't read a lot of blog posts or stuff like that often. I'm apparently much more comfortable on video. So that's what I do right I focus mostly on that.
Fabio RosadoI think this way the whole digital gardening idea is quite brilliant, you don't have to have a polished stuff. And like you said like this master thesis of blog posts, where this is my views is like, Hey, I learned this thing. That's it, then you can to expand more expand more otherwise just leave it as it is. And then...
Fabio Rosadoon your website you do quite the cool thing so you don't have just blog posts you have then your recordings your past streams and all the content together, which a lot of times I see the Digital Garden is all about the posts or the little notes that you write let's, let's call him that. And I think it's quite important, because like I said if you're more comfortable on video. So, someone will probably spend more time, and enjoy more watching a video than reading an article. They can stop they can come back see what she said. Yeah,
Kurt Kempleyeah, yeah, yeah and i and i like what you said about like digital gardens and so you know for anyone who's not familiar with that term maybe it's like the idea that written content that you release doesn't have to be full grown blossomed and perfect and beautiful before you put it out into the world. You could start with an idea, and like put that into the world and that content can grow over time maybe as your understanding does or as you get the time to update it right and like, it can be something that people can come back to and enjoy I have like three or four blog posts out right now on my site that are probably a paragraph or two, maybe a little bit more longer, and they're out there in the world but the cool thing is that now that they're out there I'm always thinking about like I should go back and add to them a little bit and because I update them like a little bit at a time they turn into full post, way before they would ever like they would just sit there and and it would become something that is like a bigger task that I'll never finish and boom, so my release cadence is way higher by adopting the digital garden philosophy. And so then a lot of people also kind of confused I like to talk about the difference between publish, publishing and promoting. So like, you can publish content to your blog at any time and yeah if you have an RSS feed right people are going to get notified that you've released like a note or some other thing and I think that's fine if they're signed up to your RSS feed they're kind of pretty concerned about what you post and you want to look at things early on in my opinion. But that's just published yeah it's discoverable, but until you take the effort of promoting it right like it's it's it's fine it's just out there for the world. Once it's polished once you feel like it's at a point that oh crap I'm onto something I want to share this or maybe somebody talks about something that like you know you reference and now it's time to promote right and by separating the two publish from promotion also has helped me a lot in pushing things out a lot faster.
Fabio RosadoI'm doing this book club, we the egghead folks, and it's a book called taking smart notes or smart notes, which is a little bit interesting and a little bit odd so this this guy created this method of using a shoe box, and when he was reading a book, he used to have a pen and paper, next to him and you write notes, and reference notes, and then he created this whole fleeting notes, permanent notes but he said that you put your notes. When you have something that you are happy and it could be publishable. So now, taking back that into that whole digital gardening, it's similar to that you have a place where you keep all your notes. And then when you start working on that specific article or thing that you want to write about. Then you come to a stage where this looks pretty damn good. So then when that looks damn good that you can just release it, and promote it like you just said. So, yeah, I alway try to find ways to use that method because it's what we've been talking about lately.
Kurt KempleYeah, for sure and it's just like, it's just anything that's gonna help with my anxiety, right like at the end of the day, I'm an anxious person, very, and anything that anything that removes, and also comes back to clearing pathways big surprise what I love to do for a living, anything that's going to clear the pathway between me, creating something and it getting on to the internet, right, like that's the end goal, remove as much friction as possible from the process, yeah you know it's just get it out there, and also by removing friction, it helps because I'm less prone to not do it because I don't have like the dedicated time to see something through. That's like a bigger ordeal. Like I only have 20 minutes now that's enough for me to jot down two or three paragraphs maybe run them through grammarly real quick and shoot them on to the internet, you know, but then I can come back to it and iterate on it when I have smaller chunks of time because I just don't have, my scheduled does not count for like large chunks of time to deep work most of those get reserved for things I'm doing for Apollo, you know. And, yeah, so it just helps me, produce my own content so that it's not just purely Apollo stuff.
Fabio RosadoSo now that you say that, how does your day look like.
Kurt KempleThat's a pandoras box right there! Yeah, what is my day look like yeah well I'm newly into I'm like, head of dev REL at Apollo or developer relations manager I think is my title. So my day to day has started to shift right now because I've moved into this role, a lot of my time has been focused on what is Developer Relations look like at Apollo over the next year. What is the team ideally look like over the next few years I've been focusing a lot on that like what are the different initiatives that I would like to do, you know, we would love for our team to do over the next good little while so I've been doing that but aside from that my, my day to day involves... It's not like a set thing but let's say I spend a lot of my time interacting with the community to source information about a couple things one is like problems that the community is facing, I'm always trying to figure out like what are the biggest current issues in the Apollo ecosystem that people are facing and so a lot of time gets dedicated to that. A lot of time gets dedicated to figuring out what streams, we'll be doing so I pretty much managed, like the stream schedule at Apollo, so I work with the product teams, the open source team, and then the community at large like just, you know, other folks to figure out like what we're going to have on the stream and get that lined up. I'm working on something called the Apollo champions programme which is basically us being able to identify who is in the community understand the ways in which they're engaging with us and reward them for set engagement. So that's like the the main gist of the programme, but also to uplift the community by being able to know who these people are to offer them speaking opportunities or like content creation opportunities or like other things involved.
Fabio RosadoIs that similar to the Twilio champions program?
Kurt KempleI would imagine, yeah it's gonna be similar to any type of community programme at any other company, because a lot of people are doing a lot of really awesome things in the Apollo ecosystem, and right now I don't have a way to acknowledge them, as I would like to or reward them, we would like to at the company so that's like a big part of what I'm working on so a lot of time goes into like what that looks like. But again, a lot of my time has been spent writing documents, as of late and I'm not a big, big writing fan but yeah that's what it's been but dev advocacy, my day to day looks like this I think it's better to just say like kind of how I tackle my work because the day to day changes so drastically from even week to month that it doesn't make sense to like, tell you what I do today and and so what it is like I think you can be really successful as a dev advocate if you focus on a couple things So number one is we kind of have a mission, and our mission is build community. Tell the oppose story, and help developers be successful. Right, so like everything that we do. Should in some way, align with one of these goals. So that's what we do. We then take the product roadmap of what's coming up what's happening in open source what information the community needs. All of these things. And with our North Star of our mission, and what we're trying to do for Apollo, we have to figure out what is the best way to spend our time doing that, we invest a lot in written content through the bog and streaming content, but there's the Apollo champions programme we're working on like a community discord and like all these other things there's so there's like a whole lot of other stuff that we work at but those initiatives will change and when they change my day to day will change rapidly like right now, we're doing a lot of work sourcing speakers and panellists for some upcoming events but hopefully we'll be hiring a community manager in the next coming months and then I won't be doing that anymore they will and then my day to day will switch to something else or will complete an initiative and then that day to day will change but at the end of the day if you're doing dev advocacy, you want to be clearing pathways for developers, whatever it takes, in that middle road updates documentation, creating video content creating blog posts conducting a community member with another community member who's already experienced this problem and has the solution or empowering community members to create content to do this kind of stuff right it doesn't matter what it is, and that's why I dislike hearing like oh become a Developer Advocate travel the world and do talk like yeah cool do and talks is awesome and that can be part of it but that's part of it and then I also I used to say developer advocacy is about being an advocate for the community to your product teams, and like, yeah, that's also part of it but that's not the whole story that is one of the ways you're going to clear pathways, is by having an effect on the product roadmap, but you can have an effect in a million other ways you might teach somebody let's take Twilio for example you as a dev advocate for Twilio, you might work with a content creator who's creating a course on Twilio so that this goes back to remember telling the story telling the story of the company you are making sure that the content they create is going to have best practices you're giving them free access to like the core team and generally other stuff to figure out how to do that. And now, that person is going to create content that's going to be viewed by 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of Twilio users right so it's like you have to figure out what's the best way to do these things, but at the end of the day it's about helping developers be successful, and that's it that's to me, and actually don't at me like that's what I think it is. And I'm not, I'm not up for debate about it. Yeah.
Fabio RosadoYeah, it's always interesting to ask because our job. Well, I say our but I'm not a developer, yet... but developers job every day is a little bit different. You might be working on a particular thing and then the next week you work in a different things so every day is different. So, yeah.
Kurt KempleDid you just say you're not a developer.
Fabio RosadoWell, I'm not a. How should I say that I'm not a you're employed developer if that makes sense.
Kurt KempleYeah, I mean, you could be employed in another field let's put it this way, you're not paid to write code right now you're not paid to develop. In my eyes, the second that you write a programme and tell a computer device or any other thing to do absolutely fuckin anything from some sort of written thing you're a developer, like I don't know what other thing you need. Yeah, that makes you once you start programming, you're a programmer, once you start developing you're a developer, like, that's another thing that I think what is the bar like am I not a filmmaker if I don't, if I make a lot of films but I don't do it for Hollywood right like is that like you know what I mean like,
Fabio Rosadoyeah, I think it was actually you that's tweeted about that. A few months ago, the whole, you don't have to be employed to become a developer or you don't have to get a job to say that, oh I can be a software engineer. Yeah, it's a title and sometimes we just get too attached to our titles.
Kurt KempleIt's a job title!
Kurt Kempleit's job title like people don't be walking around like I'm a fucking asphalt layer, I'm a level three. You know, a carpenter like it's a job title, you're so much more than that developments is something you can do but like you're a person, don't let tech consume you I did that for a few years I completely define myself by how good of a developer I was or if I was like employed as a developer I let it... it, let it really messed me up there for a while. Yeah, no, you're so much more than that people will treat you like how you view yourself you know and if you're, you calling yourself non developer then people aren't going to see you as a developer like you are a developer, you write code you make computers do things and it's awesome. You know, that's wild. And honestly still not a lot of people can do that. And it doesn't matter if you're paid to do it, it's a very valuable and impressive skill to have!
Kurt KempleCeora, yeah yeah
Fabio RosadoIt's what she was saying that she started taking herself more serious once. She's calling herself a software engineer. And I see that sometimes when folks are trying to apply for a job, if they have that software engineer title, they get asked for interviews, more often than if you just say that you're a developer, and it's just the same thing. It's the same thing, unless you are from a country like me Portugal, that you are not allowed. It's like legally not allowed for you to call [yourself] an engineer if you're not part of the engineers bar. So you need to have an engineering degree and you have to do a test,
Kurt Kemplethat's interesting. Yeah
Fabio RosadoBut, in UK, that's not the case, you can become a software engineer, if you do software engineer stuff, and you get paid to do stuff with that. Yeah, so if you're not from a country that you can't legally call you an engineer because you're not part of a big boys club or something like that you know what I mean, it's. Yeah, I see what you're getting on, and is another thing that's making me think about it, and he does make a lot of sense.
Kurt KempleYeah, and it's just a mindset thing you know it's like you know you're gonna, how you define yourself. We're the only ones who can define ourselves and so we damn well better, you know, define ourselves well right and it's like, Yeah, I don't know I just I don't like getting caught up on titles and it's like, it's interesting like my job is I'm a developer advocate, I am not a developer advocate that is not like a thing right like that's like, you can one can can be I guess right it's just your job title. Yeah, and that takes a while to like get that separation, you know, I think when I get in roles that I really enjoy it's like I was a tech lead. Major League Soccer, and again I really enjoyed that role, much like I enjoy management or or dev advocacy because it's about clearing pathways for people like management is about clearing pathways for your team team lead is about clearing pathways for your team right so it's like, I tend to really enjoy these roles that seems but long story short, is that I kind of like did for a while like identify myself like as a tech lead you know like, oh I'm a tech lead. You know, it's like nah, you're just like Kurt, and your role is tech lead. I have felt that, and that was another thing I should have my Twitter was like very serious and like technical and like that was it, you know, but like I'm a whole ass person, and as such. That's what you get now is the whole assperson. So...
Fabio Rosadowhich makes you feel more human and makes people draw to you, because this is not just a suit air quotes. And they don't have any personality, you have your personality, so you should just leverage that and like Kyle said at the end of the day we're all people, and we can learn everything from everybody.
Fabio RosadoYeah. But...
Kurt KempleKnow I know what do you do for a living, we're friends, sorry...
Fabio RosadoThis alright! I think I just have maybe I'm completely wrong on this perspective but I think, in US, you have this hustle mentality where your job is what defines you whilst comparing maybe to UK sure if you work in maybe... a teacher, finance and all these prestige works, people don't really care that much. I think in UK people care more about the weather then what you do.
Kurt KempleIn my experience, and a lot of other places in the world that no one gives a shit what your job is, and I love it. I'm all about that. Yeah. Talk to me about fun things like photography, CrossFit yeah I could talk to your brain out crossfit it we could just redo another one of these and I'll just talk about it. Right yeah exactly but like that's the point is, like, you know, I don't, I like I'm not a big fan of talking about my work and I think the difference too is like I used to be a lot more passionate about coding than I am now. And I think it's fine to talk about things that you're passionate about but like I just hate the harping on like work, like if you want to tell me about development because you're just like super enthused I'm all for it and that's not what I'm trying to like get out I just wish we would get away from the stigma of people are their jobs and like that defines their worth or their, their knowledge or like Kyle said right or like you can learn from anyone like junior and senior right like this whole frickin dynamic that needs to just go right in the trash.
Fabio RosadoAnd this is another reason why I wanted to start this podcast. So the whole idea started in a party Corgi actually when Robert tables was saying...
Kurt KempleAs things do!
Fabio Rosadoyeah was... he was telling about his story when he used to drive trucks, and I was like man that's so interesting, and I started toying with the idea of like. So what sort of path, other developers took to be where they are now.
Fabio RosadoAnd I just like to learn about people, and I thought you know what if I find this interesting. I'm sure some other people might find interesting as well so might as well just put it out there. So
Kurt Kempleabsolutely, yeah. That's awesome. Yeah, I want to see like, eventually, like in a few years, it's gonna be like the six degrees of party Corgi network, like, like, you know, it's like every, every like thing that your content is created you can like relate back to party Corgi network within like six connections.
Fabio RosadoBut just what you said just having that community that empowers you and just makes you want to do more, because, you know, I was, or I'm still part of this makers community, but a makers community, sometimes can be creatively really really toxic
Kurt KempleToxic? Aggro?
Fabio Rosadoyes like my project is besting, everything else is crap. I mean, if you go to a Hacker News, sometimes the comments are...
Kurt KempleI don't go... Hacker news... Reditt... all those places I avoid them. Like a pandemic.
Fabio RosadoWe've been going for a while and I appreciate your time to share your story and share your views and your journey and everything, if folks want to get in contact with you, ask about anything, about Apollo, graphql, your story. What is the best place to do it,
Kurt Kemplesubscribe to my Patreon! No I am just kidding. I think you've got it like displayed below. Like here. Find me. Yeah, you can find me there. The best easiest way to reach me. Yeah, and I loved to talk to you I love to talk to people, I'm actually an introverted extrovert so I can talk to you because we're through the internet pretty easily that's not a problem if we were a group of people, and I did not know you and we were at an event I would never speak to you, I'd be like, sure. right out of the door. Yeah.
Fabio RosadoBut yeah, I the ones to take much of your time but that's very interesting, because I'm a flight attendant right? I can be at the front of the plane and grab the interphone and talk for everybody, but it's sort of like when you're doing your talk, you're not really looking at the faces you're just looking at nothing. And it's fine, but if, if I'm together in the group I'm exactly the same, my, my wife she's a teacher and she, she has a colleague that every December gets us together to do like a Christmas kind of meal and people talk sharedrinks and stuff. And the first like three years, I would just say like a board you know...
Kurt KempleLike a statue!
Fabio Rosadolooking at everybody's like, I feel awkward as hell.
Kurt KempleSaying the same phrases, All the wrong time. Awkward...
Kurt KempleI feel you. Yeah, it's a real struggle for me and like as a dev advocate, that's something that I've had to balance a lot but luckily my, my want to help people succeed outweighs my want to be alone. So,
Fabio Rosadoyes, that helps
Kurt Kempleit works out. Yeah, helps a lot
Fabio RosadoYou just need to take time to recover after every interaction.
Kurt KempleThat's it. Yes Go, go recharge my batteries. Yeah, yeah, yeah but this has been awesome. Thank you for having me on. Yeah, I love it.
Fabio RosadoThank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.
Fabio RosadoI think we need to do another episode about CrossFit. I have to say, I don't know much about CrossFit.
Kurt KempleNo problem give me an hour, you'll know way more than you wanted to! But also thank you to everyone in in chat for coming here and listening to my story I appreciate y'all so much. Thank you.
Fabio RosadoYeah, thank you. I hope you have a good day.
Kurt KempleCool see. see you later, everyone.