« All Episodes

Interview with Dain Miller (@dainmiller, part 2 of 3)

Published 3/10/2017

In today's episode, I interview Dain Miller, creator of Start Here FM. This interview is completely packed, so make sure you subscribe if you don't want to miss the final part of the interview!

Today's episode is sponsored by Pusher. Build awesome realtime features faster with Pusher. Focus on the application, not the infrastructure! Get started today at spec.fm/pusher

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
And I'm sure for you, that's how you got into your career, you know, that's how you got at this level in your career Whereas a bunch of other people perhaps aren't at that level that you even started with and it's because of your ability to constantly push that boundary And I think we so often take that take that for granted, you know, or we think about it and we know it But we don't take action on it, you know, I know a lot of people that say they know that But they aren't doing the actions that sort of reflect that knowledge Hey, everyone, welcome to the second part of my interview with Dain Miller. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. You're listening to Developer Teain the first part of our interview we discussed Some of the hardest problems that I have faced and the hardest problems that Dain has faced in his role as a director of technology I hope you'll go back and listen to that part of the interview and stick around for the second part of the interview today Thank you again for listening to Developer Tea. I'm gonna get out of the way and get this interview rolling So let's let's prove this theory. Let's talk a little bit about about how grit kind of plays into the ability to succeed So you are the director of of technology at mid-roll and Mid-roll is responsible for consuming millions of podcast feeds correct. Yeah Okay, so if you can kind of rewind and Give us give us a little bit of backstory as to how you got to where you are today Well, I think the most you know, I get this question a lot from students that that are interested in getting into web development for the first time I work with a lot of people that are in other industries like they're they started as a lawyer something like that and they they want to transition to web development And I always give them the same answer which is you have to change before your situation changes around you So for me I grew up in North Carolina in sort of a lower class environment like a sort of a negative environment and When I graduated or when I dropped out of college I dropped out and then moved back home with my parents And I was there and I really wanted things to change for me But I had to come to the like hard realization that unless I changed the environment that I was in and changed myself Nothing would change for me. So I basically ended up selling some of my stuff and moving to Chicago I didn't know anybody in Chicago But I ended up finding somebody on the internet that I can meet and I ended up staying on a scouch for a couple months and You know through this type of radical change in my life I've been able to understand that the more we thrust ourselves out of our comfort zone the quicker we can achieve the most ridiculous goals That's by far the like most if there was a formula that's kind of it And so if you can kind of Harden yourself to to change in weird ways throughout your life Even if it is you know perhaps going a day without eating You know if you can just find little strategies to harden yourself to change over time or push your comfort zone I find it's just easier and easier to succeed So for me it wasn't hard after that to get a client You know wasn't hard after that to get my first job It wasn't hard after that You know to do other things and get other jobs as long as I had that mentality that Allowed me to just kind of totally uproot my entire life if I had that mentality I knew I could do anything and You know that that might be a strange sort of Relationship I'm drawing between these two things But it's really not for me because I experienced it You know when you when you uproot your whole life you kind of experience this transformation Especially when you're moving from an environment you've been in your whole life Yeah, just something completely different. So I just kind of took that energy and and used it to be honest And I got my first job as a front-end developer and I so passionate about JavaScript and still am and responsive design and stuff like that And we did a lot of great work there and just kind of continue to to Apply for opportunities and that's one thing I tell students to I say how many jobs So they'll come to me and they'll say I want to be a web developer and I'll ask them how many jobs have you applied for in the past month And if the answer is less than five then I know they aren't serious Yeah, so I literally applied for maybe 150 opportunities in In the course of three years and that's how I you know got the opportunity to work at the White House as a Presidential innovation fellow just purely because of the volume of opportunities that I applied for so many people I know don't apply for things because they don't think they should have them or can get them There's all this weird guilt and doubt in their brain. Yeah, and I understand that I deal with that every day But you have to kind of thrust yourself out there and you know I still remember this moment this pivotal moment in my career I didn't I hadn't haven't had a job yet ever. I had a freelance client I had just moved the Chicago and I was like kind of nervous about the future right? It was very unclear and I was walking to my interview for my first job And I was on the street and I was walking there across the bridge and I was about to not go Because I was so nervous man And I didn't know if this you know in my head I was doing that thing of if this job doesn't play out I might have to move back home and that was so painful to me and so in my head in that moment I just there was a switch that flipped and I said What's the worst that could happen and then I just visualized them saying no to me like I just visualized that and There's just this switch flipped and I was like that's not that bad and I went and it because I de-stressed It wasn't that bad. I did pretty well and I failed that interview and I failed the next four But I eventually got one right so it's like this persistence and this Consistency that I think is so powerful. I think that's what a lot of people are missing I talked to a lot of young kids and a lot of them either aren't putting in the hours or they aren't applying to enough opportunities Those are probably one of the two biggest problems I see Yeah, the research a hundred percent backs us up by the way So I want to zoom in on a few a few things that you said that are that are particularly relevant and we'll be for Literally the remainder of of anyone who's listening this podcast the remainder of your career will be affected by these things One of the first kind of keywords that I want to zoom in on is comfort zone. So Effectively our brains we were talking about this earlier our primitive brains view change as a potential threat and so our comfort zone is Based on this primitive idea that as long as we are safe now the things that are around us are good Right the things we have experienced up until this point are not threatening we can continue to sustain our life And if you think back to primitive time it's like okay Well, I just built a shelter and it's been safe for a hundred days. So That's training me to believe that on day 101 it will probably continue to be safe, right and your primary form of Of thinking is protection and you know avoiding risk and that's what your brain is programmed for because the the cost of Predator coming and tearing down your shelter and eating you is death, right like it's a immense cost and so Our brains are wired to be and this is kind of the at least the hypothesis our brains are wired and research shows that our brains are wired To be extremely lost a verse were terrified of loss More so then we were excited about gain but the the the magic question that you said Dain is what is the worst that can happen? So something I like to do now When I when I think about you know For example if I'm going to spend a little bit of money on something and I'm kind of afraid that if I spend that money that It will have been lost a lot buyers remorse So I get a little bit of afraid to spend the money and this keeps me from going on, you know a trip that I want to go on Mm-hmm and I look at that opportunity and I think to myself okay What is the worst that can happen and I take some time to really? Almost meditate and that's exactly what you did in that job interview said I pictured them saying no to me, right? I mean, meditate and imagine in very clear detail the worst possible scenario Mm-hmm And what you're doing is you're creating a familiar context of failure where you feel safe and your brain finally Recognizes that the threat is not nearly as as grave as a predator tearing down your Your shelter and I think and it's most basic form that everybody can benefit from like you mentioned is just this meditation and visualization of the fear of the worst case scenario because again Like you said it's probably not as bad as you think but I also nowadays I do a little bit more of Actual writing this down So in the four-hour work week he calls this fear setting right where you have multiple problems, right? And I'll do a call and I do this with business now You know, I'm trying to to launch these businesses and these different things and I always do a Column that's the worst case scenario and then the most important column the next column Which is how can I get back or reverse the worst case scenario to get back to right where I am now? Mm-hmm, and I find that you know most things are easily reversed You know, yeah, so I found that to be very powerful too and because it's you're using more Basically, you're forcing your brain to walk one step further than then your intuition is willing to walk I'm like well said. I think that was just fantastically said like I feel like there's so many people who meditate But one of my mentors one time told me he does business meditation which he describes as in his head He'll take a problem and think multiple moves deep on it. So what he'll do is he'll take a problem and he'll say okay Well, let's say this goes bad like let's say I call this person to to sell this advertising client on something But let's say they don't want it He'll do business meditation and actually walk through the whole scenario like a game of chess and I feel like people don't do that I've never heard anybody else in my entire life tell me to do that and I remember the profundity of that statement and going home that night and saying to my making a list of all the problems I have in my life and Doing that mental chess and being like how can I solve this problem? Let me think for 40 minutes on each of these what are all the moves I can make? It's it yeah very powerful and most of the time you're gonna find that the the problems you have first of all Are typically easily solved yep, but secondly? You've got there there are more ways to win a chess game than one set of moves, right? Like don't have so many moves in 40 minutes that you can actually Determine for almost any problem that you're facing and it's like that quote, you know The same level that caused a problem can't solve it the same level of thinking that caused a problem can't solve it That I think that's why this works When you when you're in the midst of all these problems you can't necessarily solve them You know even for our management job and some of our day job stuff doing this thing where you sort of a lot of management calls this Going on retreats where they'll go away for a couple days and spend that time really thinking deeply about these types of topics I find that to be to be helpful as well to even to go away like maybe even go to a hotel or something like that Yeah, yeah, and and once again all the stuff you're saying is like super good heuristics and that point to Really solid research The the idea of going away You're provoking your brain To to take in something new right which means that you're basically saying you can't be lazy here This is a new place is a new environment and I'm going to basically fire the engines up right Whereas if you're in your normal routine then your brain Effectively receives the signals of this is normal and I can do what I did yesterday and once again be safe Right your brain's ultimate motivation is energy Energy management like doing the least possible thing To get by and survival Yeah, I never thought of it that way, but you're totally right when you when you go to that separate location You're kind of kicking your brain into overdrive just from that change. Yeah, and yeah I always I modeled that a little bit off of you know Bill Gates calls it his reading vacations He'll go to a hotel and bring a stack of books and the hotel could be right next to his house or whatever like in LA or wherever He lives he you know in the article he talks about that and I found that so intranize like why would he change environments just to go read But it's to think you know, it's to read and think is my hypothesis Well, and it's kind of like that story I can't remember who the author was but they they found that they were particularly effective at writing when they were on a plane and so They bought themselves a two-way ticket To or it may be in a one way. I don't know it doesn't really matter But to Tokyo from from Los Angeles and they wrote an entire book on the plane I've heard of this. I don't know where I heard this but I had to look it up That was so cool. Yeah, it's such a cool idea That's so cool, but the the concept is how how valuable is a book? Yeah, and and if the investment is a plane ticket or if it's Go to a hotel go on a retreat with your company, you know What you're buying isn't the retreat. You're not buying a trip to Tokyo. You're buying yourself that that's whatever the weird thing in your brain is That makes planes the perfect place to write Maybe you don't have a super good control or understanding of what it is But if you find it, use it, you know, that's another tool that you can use to your advantage And I guess that goes along with creative Boxes like being in a little bit of a restricted Having bounds put on you increases your creativity a little bit. Do you find that at all with programming or with management? Well, I'll say this with the podcast I have you know because I'm delivering so many episodes per week Three episodes a week is is not a trivial amount of content, right? But I find that that the restriction itself has caused me to be more decisive I don't have a choice even if I feel a little bit unsure about a piece of content or an idea I'm more apt to move forward now because I know the cost of Of not delivering this content is Significant right I have people who are who are waiting on this content to be delivered on a on a almost daily basis It's not quite daily, but almost right I have sponsors who are waiting on to be delivered So the thing that I'm uncertain about I have a I have now the more confidence that the idea will will stand on its own It's kind of like keeping your funnel packed with leads as a freelancer something you always want to have a Bunch of people ready to go and I noticed that when we booked our call for this interview I you sent me a booking for the next day and I was like oh, okay, let's go. Let's get it Yeah, yeah, and it's because it's part of that is because you know that it waxes and wanes and it's really difficult So I will go through a short period over the course of a weekend where I can produce six or eight episodes And it's not always interviews sometimes it's monologue type episodes But I'll have a huge burst of energy Coming from reading something or and that's another kind of side point. I wanted to make that the raw material that you put in your brain is so important But for me raw material ends up being reading or listening to other people's podcasts or Listening to the problems that the the developers a whiteboard or having all of that feeds this podcast every single time I do an episode It's coming out of something that I've either read or experienced You know, I'm not googling for things to talk about that's not it's not the way it works But that's what I'm so impressed by not just this podcast, but any business that's able to do this other podcasts to where you're able to Harness that natural cycle of motivation yet you don't let it impact your release schedule You still somehow manage to do a certain amount of things per certain amount of weeks But you still harness that motivational up and down flow, right? I think the way that you've structured the business is Entrieving I'm learning from people like that. I find it fascinating Users have a lot of expectations of their applications They expect them to be fast. They expect them to work everywhere and they expect to be able to interact with your application in real time Pusher today's sponsor allows you to build these real-time features directly into your application and they make it basically Trivial pusher is built on top of web sockets you can use pretty much any back-end language that you want to use PHP node Ruby ASP Java Python go those are the ones that they have featured on their home page and They say that pretty much any language they have a library for it So from any of those back-end languages you can trigger an event and Effectively listen for those events on all of your clients whether that is an iPhone app or a front-end web app and you can respond to those events in real-time So an example of this you could pretty easily implement a chat system like for example one of the big companies that uses pusher Intercom you've probably heard of intercom other companies that use pusher the New York Times Get hub mailchimp these these companies are using pusher for their real-time features and you can get started today with a free account Go and check it out spec.fm slash pusher that's spec.fm slash pusher. Thank you again to pusher for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Teah, I'm interested to know you know to talk a little bit more about your podcast by the way and and Start here. I love this so let me just go on a short rant I love this basic idea of you have to start somewhere you might as like not you might as well But this is your place like you know There's the most important thing is that you press the go button this falls in line with the Philosophy that you've already presented this idea that you know motion is is the most important thing and people are so crippled by Not starting yes far too often so I'm really excited to talk about your podcast I'd love to know a little bit more about you know the drive behind it and and what you know some of the stuff You're gonna be talking about on the podcast well like you mentioned I think my main motivation is this sense of movement like they're one of these we talked about Personality tests online a little bit There's another one where they sort of try to evaluate what motivates you and they do it in an interesting way What they do is they give you a list of things that you feel the most jealous of somebody else about And that's what you that's what their hypothesis is that's what might motivate you the most and for me what I'm motivated the most Therefore from that test was motion or momentum and I think that's why this brand so naturally fit with me to start here Concept and a lot of my Podcast topics if you listen to the show. I'm not super technical in nature a lot of the stuff that I talk about is more Mindset related because I find that you can Google anything and everybody knows that we've known that for years It's all about why aren't you googling right now? Like why aren't you doing it right now? That's the thing that stops people It's not and the other thing that stops people is our other mindset issues like well I don't know what there's too much to Google okay? Well, I'll give you a formula of a way to think about this right or a way to approach this so that you can apply it to This but also to other areas of your life if you want and in originally when we created start here It was with a buddy of mine who sends left the network But we were trying to to build something that we could you know make it easy for somebody to start anything You know, you know, yeah, you know just even start here gardening and stuff like that like we envision this future where There's this media network perfect for people that just like want to start something new You know this concept of being in a rut is really Painful, you know, I know a lot of people that get stuck in ruts and when you're in a rut It's so painful and I have been there so much even day-to-day programming ruts and just the ability to have something new Something you can start to to bring yourself out of that rut or a network specifically dedicated to that and the Fundamentals and the high-level thinking I find that to be I find I found it to be missing at the time I don't necessarily know if it's missing now I think a lot of podcasts like yours a lot of the episodes where you talk about This the science of of kind of some of the stuff we were talking about today You know we'll talk about the different theories and stuff I find that to be great because it's similar impact I think or similar similar effect Yeah, it's you know, I don't think there will ever be a Critical mass of of content on Reducing this this barrier to entry. It's a huge problem and it actually you know the amazing thing is that the same fears persist Even throughout your career and for a lot of people This this idea of starting Really every day you're starting and I know that sounds that sounds kind of catchphrasey, but Every day as long as you were hoping to grow and this is exactly the mindset you were talking about the growth mindset What was the the opposite of the growth mindset? There you go the fixed mindset so you could be a high performer and You adopt a fixed mindset and suddenly you're facing the same problems, right? And we see that having to a to colleagues of ours it even happens to us and it's like a constant war Against your own brain to not go into fixed mindset You know, I find you know, let's say we're in a meeting and we're discussing something about security You know, it's my natural mindset to be very much like Guarded about our security and not to be open to new technologies, right? Because that's the that but at the same time we have to understand that's fixed mindset and that's not that's not Allowing us to open to other technologies that might enhance our security just you know keeping our security at the same level It is now technology around us is changing that would be fine if things didn't change but things do change So therefore that's actually a sub optimal way to handle that You know, and I find that that's just a daily battle with with pretty much every aspect of life But yeah, that's that's definitely true. You know this this concept that changes bad We don't actively think that way right? There's no one who is who is well very few I'm sure there are some people but there are very few people especially people who are working in technology who look at at change Is bet particularly you know progression New tools new innovation that kind of stuff There's very few people who are in tech and say out loud on purpose Change is bad right? Because change has made our careers possible in the first place And these tools that that haven't been around for you know, I mean it's you think about the iPhone being around for 10 years and You know when I was born 90% of the the people that are working in the company that I work at their job titles That didn't even exist, you know and the other 10% are mostly management titles and even in their form They didn't exist so we're talking about brand new stuff that's come about because of change and yet We're still resistant to change every single day and just to get back to that point of like what I think everybody being Resistant to change is so negative one interesting aspect when you when you you know So for me what I did was I decided I wanted to move to a different city every year Just as an experiment in Completely altering my beliefs of what I could do and I had a little bit of a family like a cat and a girlfriend too So it was difficult. It wasn't just something I could do easily But I wanted to try it just like those people that that want to run a van and you know kind of cruise up and down the coasts of Of Callie for a year just experience that similar kind of thing and I was like okay Well, can I do this and what ended up happening was I found that the more that I changed the more I realized that the only way to Control your life is through constant change so the only way to be Okay with never changing is to be constantly changing and realizing that things are constantly changing and Once you sort of ingrain that into your minds That's kind of heady to talk about and not super practical but when you kind of get that mindset you ingrain it You basically become a momentum machine and that's somewhat powerful especially if you're working in the startup world I find that to be the the place it It's the most sort of fuel on the fire for that type of mine that type of person and here's here's the so the opposing viewpoint in terms of like The the traveling developer which dainn that's you in my mind now you're the traveling developer The opposing view viewpoint is is where I stand I've been in the same place for seven years But if you are if you're like me and you have you know a lot of commitments or you have a mortgage like I do or There are things that that you've decided. Okay. Well, these are these are worth putting in roots for right that does not mean that you are Discooted from this conversation by any stretch. Let's just go ahead and cover that base Before somebody turns the podcast off thinking that you know The only way to get ahead is to move to New City every every year That's that's not the spirit of what we're saying And hopefully hopefully day and you agree with this but in fact no jobs I took were in the city I moved so let's just dispel that myth right? I wasn't moving for the job. It was just as a sort of personal Besting you know an exploration yeah personal expert exploration and there's so many ways that you can change you know if you if you look at kind of the the Genesis of a lot of these ideas are Self-exploration or or self-self-awareness Awareness A lot of this stuff has been talked about for thousands of years right? This is not new in terms of it's not new for people to Have fear that is unfounded. It's also not new for change to be important right and so a lot of this stuff you can find it in in ancient Like meditation techniques for example, they'll talk about observing change and Observing your mind and understanding your fear and and instead of being The thing that you are feeling you're observing the thing that you're feeling Distantly and that's that's a super powerful concept to recognize that hey, wait a second I am not a product of my situation. I can look at my situation And separate my my thinking away from it and again, we're getting this is this definitely heady more heady than the average episode But I do think it's important. I think it's important for people to take on that kind of responsibility to say you know what like this is This is not anyone else's responsibility and and it is my my responsibility to do this and to have the level of commitment to Change that day and has even if it doesn't mean that you're going to pick up a move every every year That level of commitment is what's important and just tactically you can change one aspect of your life You know why is military bootcamp so effective because they thrust you into this completely new environment So if you really feel like you're in a rut right now It could be as simple as sort of going on a walk every day to someplace you've never been Consistently for the next seven days just As a little tactic another thing is a lot of the students that I work with when they come to me and they say I'm not Programming per night as much as I want a lot of the times. It's the people around them So a lot of the times when people are being not are not changing or something like that It most of the time it's you so take full ownership and full responsibility is probably you but sometimes it's not Sometimes it's a little bit of other people rubbing off around you And I'm definitely not suggesting that you stop hanging out with people But take a hard look at your social circle. That's one of the best things I was ever told you know the whole You're the average of the five people you associate with most I know everybody knows that sort of cliche But guess what it's so true. Yeah, absolutely Absolutely, and that's negativity. So if you're if you're a little bit too negative get rid of that one negative friend You know if you're not a little it here's the thing if you're not motivated enough get around motivated people It'll it'll just exponentially boost you That wraps up the second part of my interview with Dain Miller and I'm so excited that I have had a chance to talk with Dain Of course Dain's ideas and my ideas mix together You can see we're different people with a very similar Outlooks and value sets and I challenge you to forge your own way of being Action-minded being growth-minded. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode I also challenge you to share it with another person that you think you can have a critical conversation about this episode with I challenge you to do this in the previous episode and Perhaps you take it to the same person and say hey, you know this this a second part of this same interview And like to talk with you about you know the value of perhaps moving around being a nomad Definitely would love to hear about these conversations that you're having you can reach out to me at develop a T at gmail.com You can always join the spec slack community spec.fm slash Slack and you can always find me on Twitter at at Developer TeaThank you again to today's incredible sponsor pusher if you are trying to get some real-time features into your application And you're trying to home roll some of these things then you probably know it's pretty tough to do on your own Pusher makes that architecture Incredibly simple just a few lines of code can get you up and rolling and You can get started for free by going to spec out of them slash pusher. Thank you again to pusher For sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea and until next time enjoy your tea