« All Episodes

Interview w/ Rachel Nabors (Part 2)

Published 9/6/2017

In today's episode, we talk with Rachel Nabors about her new book, course, and how to respond to rejection.

Today's episode is sponsored by Dolby. One of the most important things you can do for your users is ensure that the quality of your audio is strong. You already know Dolby and sound quality go hand-in-hand. Check out how Dolby can help you make your web applications better at spec.fm/dolby.

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
The things that are important to you are not always important to the audience that you're speaking to. It's a, I've been reading about rhetoric because one of my core skills is communication and they say you should like instead of just being a generalist with some good skills, you should be a specialist with some great skills. So I've been looking into rhetoric, especially since I've been seeing it used in some uncool ways these days. And I love this idea of ethos and pathos and ethos is the face that you show people. You want, you like the ability to get people to believe in you. For instance, there's the Rachel who is a web animations expert and I could show you that when I get on stage. Or there is the Rachel who used to self publish comics. I could show you that independent creative side of Rachel or I could show you one, you know, the Rachel who was raised on a farm. I could show you the farm girl Rachel. All of those fall into the ethos. That's how you want to present yourself. Pathos is the emotions you want to evoke in the audience. And sometimes you have to pick and choose what you're going to show the audience. They don't need all of it. They don't need all three Rachel's. They need the one that speaks to them and solves their problem. That's the voice of Rachel Nabors. This is part two of my interview with Rachel. If you missed out on the first part and encourage you to go back and listen to it. This is turned out to be an excellent interview with Rachel. We get really into quite a few personal subjects and really towards the end of the conversation we talk about some of the subjects that really drive each of us. And I hope you enjoyed this episode as much as we enjoyed recording it. Thank you so much for listening to Developer Tea. I hope that you will subscribe so you don't miss out on future episodes just like this one. I'm going to get out of the way and let's get to the second part of the interview with Rachel Nabors. Most of what we've done on this episode, it really could apply so many Developer Teaepisodes this way. But I really can apply to anyone. It's not specific to the publishing process. It's really more about, you know, cathartic work and confidence and dealing with rejection. And these are much more holistic problems that are going to last well beyond any of the type of code that we're writing today or even beyond, you know, however long the even the idea of a podcast is relevant. These topics are going to be relevant beyond that. And I think it's really important to recognize when the audience is lined up to receive that kind of message as it turns out Developer Tealisteners are lined up to receive that kind of message. But that's not always true, right? You're not always going to have somebody who's, you know, exactly what you're saying. You've got animation at work and then you have this course and the course is intended for that voice that you heard that said, hey, actually, I do want the, they're really practical stuff, right? Versus, oh no, actually, I want to learn about animation, not how, but the why. Those are two different intended mindsets that you're capturing there. That's such a great perspective. And I actually, I think you've just inspired my new, my new learning path of learning about rhetoric. I think that's so important. I was actually, I was pretty inspired to learn about rhetoric when I was in hang on, I'm actually going to my website. I'm such a cheat on my website. I was traveling in Australia earlier this year. And I had the privilege to speak at Respond. This is one of the conferences put together by the wonderful Jon Al-Sop and his sister. And there was a speaker who was there. I'm looking her name up right now. There she is. Laura Summer. And she was talking about the ancient art of conversation styling beyond the GUI. And she was the one who originally got me thinking about rhetoric and studying rhetoric because her slides were so full of references to two books about rhetoric, lying with statistics, etc. And she really got me started back down that path of, you know, communication is in art. And there's a good way to do it. And there's a better way to do it. The same way you can write a book versus you can get an editor to make your book have even more impact. So I'm glad that I had the chance to share the stage with her. And I'm glad I got to give her a shout out on this show. Yeah, yeah, excellent. And so where can I, where would listeners be able to find a video of that? Is that online somewhere? You know, that's a great question. I wish I could answer it. I don't think. We'll put it in the show notes or tweet it out or something after the show if we can find it. Yes, that would be great. I will ask Jon if he has a link to it. Perfect. Yeah. So this concept and just for anybody who is maybe interested in rhetoric and communication, which by the way, let's just back up and say that to, you know, a lot of the time the people who accomplish the kinds of things that Rachel has accomplished, speaking to the audience here, a lot of the time, a significant portion of the work that they're doing is purely communication. And when I say significant, I mean, probably over half of it. Yeah, would you agree with that? 100%. When I was a consultant, I found that most of what I was doing was biz dev, you know, reaching out to possible clients, talking with them, learning about their needs. Then when I would arrive on site, I would, you know, continue to learn, figure out the lay of the land. It was all communication. It was all soft skills. And then, you know, working on this book, like the first, I like to say that you think writing a book is just writing a book, but it's actually writing a book is the first third. Editing the book is the second third. And then marketing is the third third. And each time you get to the end of one of these, you're like, oh, yes, it's over. Thank God. I'm so tired. And then you find out the next one is still there. And it's just as big a job. And it involves just as much hard work. Yeah. The marketing side, for instance, requires reaching out to all kinds of people, talking with them, seeing about what you can talk about together, finding the appropriate location to promote your book. And it was the same when I made the course, too. In fact, I kind of wish that I'd made this book before I'd made the course. Because when I launched the course, I remember I was a part of a, a biz developer group, a Slack channel where everyone is working really hard at monetizing their, their knowledge. And the, the thing was when I released it, they were like, this is great. But it also kind of feels like you just had a bunch of knowledge. And then you, you made a course with it. And you just like released the course into the wild. And, and like, what's your marketing plan? And I was like, marketing plan. I mean, I got to tell people, he mean they're not just going to come and be like, this is awesome. Let me get you out on my hands and my knees. And, and thank you for it. No, no, no, Rachel, you have to tell them where it is. You have to explain it to them. You have to tell them why they should buy it. And what, why it's important. And I was like, well, that feels kind of cheesy. You know, I, I feel like that would be really self-promotional. But in this world of competitive content creation, if you truly believe that you have the best book, course, whatever, it behooves you to put your energy into communicating why it's so good. And why people should get it. Because if you don't put that energy in, somebody will make something possibly lesser and will put that energy in. And when it comes to getting purchase in the marketplace to getting, you know, widespread eyes on your product and adoption and people picking it up and saying this was really useful. Yeah. And that sounds really cynical. And I don't mean it to be, I mean it as let this be an inspiration for you to not neglect marketing or feel like, oh, that would sound so so proud of myself. I'm too humble for that. You owe it to yourself. You owe it to your audience to put that energy into communicating the greatness of what you've created to them. And this is something I've initially struggled with with the velvety because, you know, we're taught culturally to be humble. Right. And it feels like humility is at odds with self promotion. And so there's this weird cognitive dissonance and saying, hey, this, you know, this podcast is great. But here's the reality. I feel compelled to share this podcast with people that I think here's, here's what I don't feel compelled to do. I don't feel compelled to go and get this podcast onto every single person on the planet's podcast player. I don't think that's useful. Right. As much as I would like to help everyone on the planet, as much as I would like for the message, the messages that I have to disseminate through this podcast to be useful to everyone, they just aren't going to be. I am compelled to help developers who are ready to be helped. I am compelled that I have the opportunity to have people like you, Rachel, who have excellent resources and thinking and experiences to share to help other people. So if I don't respond to that, then it's not about humility. It's not about a problem of the cognitive dissonance of humility versus self promotion. It's about denying that thing that I feel compelled and almost responsible to do. Right. And that's a big deal. That's a really hard thing for a lot of people to really capture. But the work that you do, if you believe in it, that's not at odds with humility. It's true. And so there are these other two shades of humility and pride. There is the quote-unquote humble brag. It's a form of humility where one is being humble to the point that it's being a source of pride. And that's also toxic. You know? Yeah. Like, oh, can you believe that person, how dare they have such a splashy opening night party for their new club? I know it was such bad taste. No, no, no, no. Like, don't put other people down. Don't put yourself down because you feel that lifts you up or makes you better than the next person. That's another shade of humility, which is toxic. And then there's the, you know, this shade of where you can end up being, I forgot what the other one was. I had a creative idea. And maybe it was the same one. But I'm just saying, like, especially I know for women, humility can be a point of pride, you know, the bowed head. You know, I'm not, I'm not one of those girls. I'm not putting myself out there. I don't want to cause waves, et cetera. And you get praised for it. There's always going to be someone from when you were a little girl to being a full grown woman saying, I always like how, how humble you are people say it to me too. And all right, some people like humility, but you shouldn't be humble because other people like it. You should be what you are because you know how you fit into the greater scheme of things and what good you can do. And don't confuse humility with self deprecation or hiding. Right. Yes. This is this is a big problem. And so I have to be really careful not to be the humble brag per for me, what it means to be humble with this show for it's the best example I have. Right now is to recognize the fact that without people who are listening, the show is just me talking into a microphone, right. And I've been very fortunate, very lucky. I headed, you know, headed at the right time and the podcasting was growing and all these things kind of just lined up and they were in my favor. You know, I'm not going to take all of the credit for making this month, you know, a kingdom in the podcast empire, you know, like that's silly, right. I recognize that this is a collaborative effort with the listeners, right. So it's not really useful for me to to go way the opposite direction either, right. It's not self deprecating, but also recognizing, hey, this everything coming together, it's something just to be thankful for. I'm really thankful that I've had the I'm really thankful Rachel for you that you've had the opportunity to to match up with really what is a world class publisher, right. And I'm keeping us from saying that that's true. And it would be wrong of us to call it anything else. Absolutely. And thank you so much to me. I really appreciate that. My other suggestion is if if you like me sometimes feel self conscious about being the person that you are and doing the things that you do, Jonathan, one of the greatest cures for that is to try to find a way that you can make it not about you and give something to someone else. This is a, this is a secret just between you and I and your listeners, but the promotional site for this book animation at work.com is actually going to turn into a site for other web animation specialists to publish their own works. That's the long term goal. It's not just about needs about other people like the animation at work slack at slack animation at work keeps showing up in people's slides is a great place to go and learn more about how to use animation like library authors. They have a their own channel there where they answer questions about their libraries. It's a great place to come together and collaborate. And I want to give those people a voice as well. Yeah. So we can be humble. We can we can still lift other people up and do good things and not be shy about that. Yeah. Yeah. It truly the ability to help other people and to give to other people. It relies on recognizing a reality that that is what you're doing. If you don't say, hey, I'm helping other people, right? Like that's that's what you're doing, Rachel, by creating animation at work. And from this future site to allow other animation work to come forward, right? If you don't out loud, call it what it is and just be honest about it and say, hey, this actually is. It's going to help people. There's nothing particularly on one side of the other of humility with that. Right. Simply just putting a label on something. So anyway, I feel like I could I could hover over that subject for a long time because I can tell it reaches into your heart. Yeah, it really does. Unfortunately, a lot of people, they they limit what they're willing to do. And a lot of times it kind of again, we use the word truncate. It shortens it compresses their vision a little bit into how they can affect the world or accomplish the things that they really just want to accomplish as a human. It's really it's difficult to constantly see that it's a scourge really for our generation, especially. I think we see a lot of that rejection of, you know, it's like post millennial or something like that. I'm not sure what the word would be, but the idea that we're so entitled as a generation and we're rejecting that idea by being ultra humil, like ultra humble and ultra stick. Yeah, right, right, right. It's true. And I see this is an increasing thing. I've been in this industry for longer than I actually can believe. I started making my first group of five site when I was like, I don't know, 15 and I'm 32 now. So I've been watching this industry for 17 years. Yeah. Oh, wow. That's awesome. It's just great to have that kind of perspective. And I got to tell you, I've watched a lot of people rise and fall. And the people who stick around the longest are the people who lift other people up with them. Yeah. Yeah, that's absolutely true. And not just in web development, right? Everything. Yeah. There's always going to be the person who's on top of the heap and kick and other people down. And you could be that person, but you're going to be spending a lot of your time looking over your shoulder and kicking people down. It's just not a pleasant way to go down. Yeah. Why would you do that? Why would you want to do that? Yeah. Exactly. Why would you do that when there's such a more friendly easy way to go about it that makes the world a better place. Literally makes other people happier and better. A lot of the good things I have happened because someone took a chance on me or someone lifted me up behind them when they were on their way up. And I'm grateful for those opportunities. And I can only hope that the work that I do will allow other people to come up behind me as well. Absolutely. And that is that is the hope for that is the hope I have for you. It's a hope that I have for the people who are listening to the show. The developers who are listening to the show right now. We got really deep on this one. We did. You know, and here's the thing. People don't know this about the show maybe unless you are a guest. But when we didn't plan to get really deep, we didn't have this is not a transcript to show by any means. I don't know. Well, it is when I'm doing my monologue style episodes, but certainly not when I have a guest on because you know this kind of conversation is so valuable because it's true and organic. It's coming from a deep place in both of us, I think. I agree. I think we've always said it off on this show because we have we have similar thoughts. Going on at least at or similar values. I'm not sure how it goes, but sure. Yeah, it was something is aligning it's. Yeah. I think one of my favorite things about having a day job has been that it allows me the breathing room to think about the world in terms of us and not me. I didn't anticipate going from working on my own to working for other people has been a real transition and just knowing that like I feel less protective of my content. I want to share more. I look for ways to help others more. It's a total mind change. So if you work for yourself, be aware that sometimes you might be feeling a little more protective of your content or your your territory or your turf. Then you need to be in there's room to open up try to try to think about how you can include other people and how you can work with them. That is the biggest lesson that I've taken away in the past six months. If you've been around digital audio for very long at all, you know that some of it can be really really bad sounding. You can lose instruments, for example, in the music that you're listening to or the vocals maybe unclear or if you're working with a game and application, maybe an iPhone game, the sound effects may make the experience kind of feel dull or unexciting. In the reality is this isn't just something that we notice as developers 90% of people say that audio quality is important to them across the digital ecosystem that they use. So this includes iPhone apps, for example, right? Now you probably don't need necessarily better audio assets. Most of the audio assets are recorded in professional studios with multi thousand dollar equipment. So it's not going to get significantly better usually than that. But what you probably need is a better audio codec. An audio codec will allow your users to hear the details in the recordings. And today's sponsor Dolby is providing you as a developer with a free to use codec for your iOS applications. You can use the stuff that you're already using for your audio editing like, for example, Adobe audition, or you can use their free encoder online by going to spec.fm slash Dolby. Thank you so much to Dolby for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. You know, actually as a part of my have this series of episodes it's in the back catalog. It's like I think around 100 episodes and I did a series of episodes because I kept on getting very similar questions about career development as a developer. What should I do? What should I study? Should I do bootcamp? Should I do an internship? Should you know all these and very similar problems that a lot of people have. And so I created a series of episodes called the developer career roadmap. And in one of the episodes and this is something that I still believe I discuss, you know, the idea that your first job in web development, you would very likely benefit from doing that job with other people not being a freelancer if you can if you can swing it. I'm not saying that freelancers aren't successful. In fact, I was my first job as a web developer was in freelance. So, you know, I'm kind of preaching to myself as well. But the idea that, you know, you are going to be collaborating with people for the remainder of your career. And if you have the opportunity in front of you, for example, to take an internship in an office or to take an internship remote as basically a contractor, every time I'm going to recommend that you take the internship in the office, especially as an introductory developer. And for that reason, exactly that what you just said Rachel, that you're going to be working with people in any time that you can get a chance to to interface with other people, you're going to learn more than if you were doing it just on your own. And I'm going to bring that full circle and say, you're absolutely right. Working with people, I've always been a loner. I've was raised in the middle of nowhere on a farm. I self-published my graphic novels. You know, I've always done for myself. But for me, the most rewarding parts of my career have involved working with other people. And I got to tell you this book involved working with other people. It wasn't just me not to get off onto the I wrote a text tangent here, but there's a reason why there's more than one name listed in the credits under the copyright. There are a lot of folks who help make this great. And if you learn how to work with people early, you will build much greater things, be they books, be they frameworks, be they platforms, be they a product that you want to start up. You're going to build much greater things if you do it as a team. Humans are social animals. Don't deny that socialness. And to extend that even further, I'd always recommend that you work with people or at least as often as practical work with people who disagree with you as much as they agree with you. That you can have a dynamic back and forth because what ends up happening, especially for developers, and particularly in startup kind of culture, well, you end up having as developers who work around other developers who agree with them. They get into an echo chamber. And ultimately, this can be toxic because you don't realize that you're developing bad perspective and you're developing a really narrow perspective when you don't have people who are challenging your ideas, challenging, hey, why does it matter that you write it that way rather than this way? Or why does it matter that you spend extra time on this particular thing, but you don't spend extra time on this other thing? Or hey, in your documentation, every time you use the word simple or easy on this really complex thing, that's really intimidating to all the younger people who haven't ever worked with this thing before. I mean, that's a perspective that you don't often get unless you work with a variety of people who aren't exactly like you. And that goes for a way people think where people come from, how people are. I was just thinking about how when I first started drawing, I would beg my mom to tell me what she didn't like about my drawings. And she didn't like giving her daughter critical feedback. She would be like, oh, sweetie, it's really beautiful. I love it. I'm so proud of you. And I'd be like, tell me what's wrong with it, mom. And she'd be like, I don't want to tell me, I can't get better if you don't tell me. And then she would be like, the elbow is wrong and that puts too long and she point out all this stuff and feel terrible. And I just be like, thank you. I will go fix it. So seeking that kind of constructive feedback really will serve you in the long term. And you get that from working with other people and fostering that open give and take. Yeah, it is a big challenge to open yourself up to learning. Rachel, you were the anomaly in this arena. It seems that you've given me two stories now where you've asked somebody to tell you what's wrong. And that's not normal. In terms of, it's not abnormal and don't hear me incorrectly. Most people are uncomfortable with that. And most people are, it's kind of a weird paradox. We discuss this humility complex, especially developers. And I would say a lot of millennials, I don't really have any data to back that up. So take it for what it's worth. But a lot of people have this, in this major humility problem of not being able to forward their opinions. And on the flip side, they also don't want to receive extensive criticism. And they'll go and bicker and complain and be frustrated that nobody else is doing things the right way. And as it turns out, everyone around you, if you look around you and you think everyone around you is doing things the wrong way, then probably statistically one of them is better at something than you are. And that's a hard reality to grasp. And it is a strange paradox that we both want to have this strong sense of humility. But on the flip side, we're not really willing to receive this coaching, this constant feedback. And it's very important that we do receive that feedback to learn exactly what you said, Rachel. You're not going to draw the elbow right until you know that it's wrong. This is so true. And even to this day, like I've noticed when dealing with people, dealing with mentors, dealing with significant others and family, sometimes you'll know some things just not quite right. And it's better to just say, all right, tell me what's going wrong. I'm going to listen. Now I'm not going to say anything or defend myself. I'm just going to nod and say, OK. And just just listen to them and just hear what they have to say. Listening is a difficult thing for humans to do sometimes, isn't it? I think it is. And it's a good skill to develop if you can. Yeah. I've actually discussed this recently with some people at Whiteboard and also with my wife, my wife works at Whiteboard with me as well. And we've been kind of playing around with this idea of what it means to listen well. And I practiced this earlier in the interview. I don't remember when I said, I'm going to tell you back what I think you're telling me, right? And this is classic counseling. Listen to what somebody has to say and repeat what they said back to them. Get clarity. And the funny thing is you could do this probably five to ten times with a given subject, a given thing. And each time learn something new, unwrap a new, you know, the Shrek onion thing, right? You can unwrap a new layer of whatever that discussion is about. And unless it's extremely simple, like I really wish you would take the trash out or not leave your clothes on the floor. That's something I do. I'm really bad about it. But, you know, if it's more, you know, a deeper problem, typically there's multiple layers, multiple things that could be discussed. And going back and forth and gaining that clarity is so important. I totally agree. I'm so glad we had this conversation. It's been awesome. It's been great. Thank you so much for coming on the show again. And thank you for having me, Jonathan. You know, I have these questions that I ask every guest that comes on the show. Perhaps we've done them. But I think we can do the other one now because these things can actually change. I'll do the one of the two questions that I always ask and guess on the show. What do you wish more people would ask you about today, Rachel? That's a great question. And you know, I had the answer to it just a little while ago. I'm thinking about what I wish people would ask me about. Honestly, I wish people would ask me more about the delicate nature of storytelling. I enjoy storytelling and I really want to share it with folks. But it's always the last thing that comes up in conversation. And in what way, what kind of storytelling are you passionate about? All kinds, really. It's one of my other core competencies. I used to tell stories with comics, with words and pictures. And now I tell stories with code and slides. But wherever I go, I'm always telling a story with whatever tools are at my hands. And that's something that I think is really powerful. We tend to think that we do something. Like I write code or I write books. And that's what we are defined by that. But storytelling has actually, I've seen it as a common thread, wherever I go in my life, is that storytelling is the thing that I will do wherever I am. And powerful storytelling will draw people to you. So if you learn how to tell better stories with the tools that are at your hands, you will find more allies and create more powerful messages. That is so true. I've recently been, I guess it's been all year now on this kick. I don't know if you've read Daniel Connamens' book, Thinking Fast and Slow. If you haven't highly recommended it, especially if you want to just... The discussion of rhetoric is highly relevant because it talks about cognitive biases. Connamens is a behavioral economist. That's what he kind of is known for. And the economy of human behavior, so why we make decisions and how our brains work. And that sounds very high level, but there is a lot of specifics in this book. And one of the things he discusses, for example, is the power of storytelling and the power of narrative. In fact, more often than not, people will believe a story that tells a lie rather than data that tells the truth. In other words, you can look at a set of data and it not have much meaning to you. But if you have a cohesive story that makes sense, you're more likely to believe it simply because the construction of the narrative is more powerful to your mind than presented data. So it's a very interesting problem that we have, but also an opportunity that we have as humans to recognize, okay, well, when we take truth and present it through a powerful narrative, that's really kind of the ultimate combination, isn't it? It is. And lies through a powerful narrative can be even more powerful. I think it's important to be able to understand how to communicate effectively to all the people in your life. Right now, people struggle to understand each other the way we have set up our communication channels over the internet really facilitates extreme, extreme everything, you know, trigger reactions going into that hind brain and just, you know, oh, this thing offended me. So I'm going to share it or get angry about it. I've had this happen to me about, you know, I wrote a blog post that was really constructive, but someone felt affronted by it. So they got, you know, said terrible things about it before they even finished reading it. And that kind of hair trigger reaction like that is a problem. If we're going to move forward as a species, we have to get back to talking to one another and understanding one another. And I think that compelling storytelling is a part of helping people understand where you're coming from. Absolutely. Rachel, thank you so much for your time. And once again, I want to point people in the right direction courses. Rachel Nabors.com. You can find the CSS animations course there. The book apart, a book apart calm. And on both of these, by the way, you can use the code. I believe it was dev T right? The EVTA for 10% off on both of those sites for the book and the course excellent stuff from Rachel. Thank you so much for your time and for, you know, sharing your heart and those kind of vulnerable stories with us. I really appreciate it. Thank you for having me, Jonathan. Keep making these wonderful podcasts. Thanks again to Rachel for joining me on the show and thank you for listening to the show. I really mean it when I say that if it weren't for you, the show wouldn't really have a reason to be around. As much as I like talking into this microphone, really it's only fulfilling because I know that someone out there is hearing what people like Rachel have to say. And it's encouraging you and it's changing your mind about something. It's changing the way that you would make a decision about something. So thank you so much for listening to the show for subscribing for those of you who have subscribed for interacting with me for sending me feedback, sending me questions. I really truly value each and every person who listens to this show. Thank you so much. Thank you again to today's sponsor for helping the show continue, continue being a thing. Today's sponsor was Dolby. If you develop iOS apps and you haven't thought about your audio codec, I encourage you to go and check it out. I'd expect out of him slash Dolby iOS. I'd expect out of him slash Dolby iOS. Thank you again for listening to today's episode. And until next time, enjoy your tea.