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Listener Question: Jonathan Bocarra Asks About Content Generation and Baby Preparation

Published 4/10/2017

In today's episode, I answer listener Jonathan's question about getting ready for a baby, and simultaneously planning content.

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Coming up with a good idea can sometimes seem like a magical process. Or like something struck you, the muse is what we often call it. But how is it that we can come up with good ideas on a regular basis? That's what we're going to talk about in today's episode. My name is Jonathan Cutrell, you're listening to Developer Tea. On this show, I provide coaching and inspiration to help you level up in your career as a developer. I want to help teach you how to adopt the mindset of a great developer. That's the whole point of this show. So thank you so much for listening to today's episode. Today's episode is inspired by a listener question from Jonathan Bokara. Jonathan, I'm sorry if I pronounced your last name wrong. I'm pretty sure I got the first name right. Jonathan wrote in with quite a few very kind compliments. So thank you for the compliments, Jonathan. But he also had two questions that I wanted to bring those to the forefront in today's episode. Question number one, how do you come up with relevant topics two or three times a week in the long term? I started my blog three months ago and right post twice a week. It's going okay so far, but I'm worried I won't find relevant topics in the long term. And number two, his second question, you mentioned that you're expecting a child. How do you plan to keep up the rhythm of the podcast while taking care of him? My wife and I are expecting to and I wonder how you balance all of this. But maybe you'll be able to answer this when your wife has delivered for which I wish you the best. Thanks, keep up the good work and until next time, enjoy your tea. Well, thanks, Jonathan. I appreciate that. I do actually have some poor tea today. And I usually actually do. For those of you who wonder, this is a side note. I do actually almost always have something on my desk, whether it's tea or coffee, believe it or not, I do drink coffee. And it strangers its sounds. It actually has something to do with this first question, which is how do you come up with relevant topics two or three times a week? And no, I'm not telling you that having tea on your desk is going to help you come up with a topic. But what I am telling you is that creating consistency is about creating habits. Let me say that again, creating consistency is about creating habits. So Jonathan, I have created many habits that support Developer Tea. One of those habits is quite literally the way that I record. I have my microphone and it's always set up. I can walk into my recording area in my house. I can put my tea down on the desk and I can press record within about 10 seconds. This creates an environment that I always know I can go to and create from. Lowering this barrier to entry allows me to effectively press a button and go. This isn't going to work for everyone the same way. Some people don't have a space that they can 100% dedicate to that particular activity. For example, for you to write a blog post, you may not have a space that's 100% dedicated to that. For me, every single episode of Developer Tea that I record, at least today, unless I am remote. For example, last year I went to Squares Conference. I'm going again this year. I'll be taking my gear most likely and recording on site there. But every other episode that I do for Developer Tea, including all of my interviews, they all happen in this space. Now what I want you to do, Jonathan, I want you to take this idea and apply it to your writing habits. If you can't create a dedicated physical space, I want you to create a dedicated mental space. This is something I also do for Developer Tea. Create a dedicated mental space. What this means is provide yourself a kind of a ritual around this habit of writing. You'll notice by the way that I'm not talking about how you come up with ideas. I'm talking about how you execute the process of writing down the idea or of recording the idea in my case. But I want you to create a habit, a ritual, something that you can go to every single time you are going to write a blog post. Because the truth for Developer Tea, and hopefully I can encourage you to adopt the same habit, the truth for consistent content output is that you have to sit down and actually write it. Now, this is a very interesting problem that occurs when you actually approach that ritual and you don't have an idea yet. I'm not going to fake like that hasn't happened on Developer Tea. Many times I'm standing in front of the microphone, staring into space, trying to come up with something that is worth talking about. That's the struggle of committing to regular content creation. But since the beginning of humankind, we've been experiencing new things. We've had new problems to experience. We've had new perspectives on the same old problems. There are so many things to talk about. The fear of running out of topics, that would mean the end of all new perspectives. It would mean the end of all new problems. It would mean the end of all new experiences. As long as you have problems, perspectives, experiences, developments, as long as these things are still occurring, there are still new things to tell you. To talk about new things to write about. I want you to be encouraged by the reality that the stuff that happens around you is where you can draw your inspiration, your experiences, your problems, the things that you see, your perspectives, your opinions, as long as those are available to you, you have something to write about. That first tip really is creating a mental or a physical space, a ritual around that habit of building new ideas, whether you're recording a podcast, recording a video, writing a blog post, writing a book, whatever you're doing, create a ritual around that process. This provides your brain with a cue that it's time to output something. It's time to do this particular job. That commitment is really the only thing that's going to provide you with consistency. Your brain many times will tell you that it's no longer necessary to write that blog post. Your brain will also barrage you with the idea that whatever you were going to write about is not good enough to write about. That's the second tip that I want to address. That is, ignore your fear of any one thing that you do failing. Let me say that again. Ignore the fear that one of your blog posts, Jonathan, is going to be a total bust that nobody's going to read it, that it's going to be useless, that it's going to go onto the wild and people are going to ridicule it or they're going to leave a bunch of terrible comments on it. Ignore that fear entirely because here's the thing. First of all, how do you measure the success of a blog post or how do I measure the success of a podcast episode? Certainly there is listenership and there's readership to consider. There are things that you can measure objectively whether or not something was well received. But another measurement of success for me is whether or not I fulfilled that commitment to you as my listeners. That's another measurement of success for me at a personal level, but also from the perspective of the audience promise that I've made. I've promised that I'm going to deliver three episodes a week. If I deliver an episode, even if it's not extremely well received, even if the topic kind of falls flat, well, I've still at least fulfilled my commitment to you as a listener. If I get hung up on every single episode being absolutely perfect and having exactly the right tone and me never messing up my words and protecting myself from critics 100% of the time, then there's no way that I would be able to release three episodes a week. I have to be okay with regular failures. I have to allow myself to publish an episode even though I'm uncertain, even though I'm afraid that people are going to dislike that episode. I have to allow myself to publish it. And here's what you're likely to find Jonathan and what I've found with Developer Tea. What you're likely to find is that people appreciate different things. Different people in your audience are going to appreciate different things. And everyone appreciates a promise being fulfilled. What this means is most people are going to appreciate the promise being fulfilled, right? You actually delivering content to them. They're going to appreciate the consistency of the content, but then various people are going to appreciate various posts that you make. Some episodes of Developer Teaspeak very well to a freelancer and other episodes of Developer Teaspeak very well to managerial people. This is no secret on this show. I'm not trying to talk to everyone all at the same time. In fact, from the very beginning of Developer Tea, I gave everyone the permission to skip episodes that they weren't interested in because I'm going to be delivering three episodes a week, which means if you skipped today's episode two and at the most three days later, you've got a different episode to listen to. So Jonathan, this second point really comes down to not being too picky, right? Go ahead and run with the topics that you have ideas about. If all else fails, make a smaller post on the topic. Spend less time investing in something that you're uncertain about. Just the waters, test this content with the people who are listening to you. If you're listening to this and you're wondering how this is applicable, this is Developer Tea. After all, how is this applicable? It sounds like we're talking about blogging or we're talking about podcasting. The truth is, you as a developer, you have the opportunity to create a branding platform for yourself. You have the opportunity to communicate, right? This is really what we're talking about. We're talking about publicizing your communication as a career move. If you're a developer and you think this is a bad idea, there are so many examples as to why it's not a bad idea. There's so many examples as to why this can help your career. So I highly encourage you to publicize the things that you're thinking, your opinions, your problems that you're facing, how you solve those problems. There are many reasons this is a good idea. One very simple reason is, if I'm an employer and I'm looking for a developer to hire and your opinions and your problem solving process in an accessible and well presented way, in other words, your site is decently well constructed, then I'm going to pick that person even with the same exact experience and background. I'm going to pick the person that I can see their problem solving. I'm going to pick that person over someone who has no presence online at all. That's why we're talking about this. That's why Jonathan, your question is so relevant to this audience. Jonathan, your second question is certainly something that's been on my mind. You ask the question. You mentioned that you're expecting a child. Congratulations. How do you plan to keep up the rhythm of the podcast while taking care of him? Our child is already named, by the way. His name's Liam and we're so excited about him. We're preparing the house for him. We're preparing pretty much every part of our lives and part of that preparation is preparing Developer Tea for that change. What we've done, we've created a large runway of episodes. What this means is effectively I'm in hyper drive right now to create new content for Developer Tea and I'm storing up that extra content to release in a time released way. By creating time released content, by on front loading our content release plan, we also have contingency plans in place. For example, if it comes down to it, we may bring out some of the older episodes and provide additional commentary, provide a version two of those episodes that unearth some of these previously discussed topics and we discuss some more things on top of those. Another thing that I'm doing is quite honestly I'm talking to other people who have gone through similar circumstances. I'm trying to learn what their process was, how much time they expected to have versus how much time they ended up having the things that they went through, the struggles they faced in those early days of parenthood. Ultimately, Jonathan, for me to take care of Developer Tea, I have to create multiple layers of insurance. I have to create multiple contingency plans and rely on different levels of confidence that I'm going to be able to execute on those contingency plans. It's not certain what will happen in the future, but this is always true. This is actually always the case that something could happen tomorrow and this is for you in your careers, not just for Developer Tea. Planning ahead for the uncertain future is something we should all be doing. So good exercise is to start thinking about things that could occur in your career or things that could occur in your personal life that would create an emergency scenario. For example, if suddenly I had to take care of a child without any preparation time, that would create somewhat of an emergency scenario. But because I have nine months or so to prepare for a child, it no longer is an emergency. Most of the time what creates an emergency is quite simply a lack of preparation. And there are things in all of our lives that could occur that would become emergencies immediately. Unfortunately, we don't have nine months to prepare for everything. This is why it's so important to consider the things that could happen in your life that would create an emergency if you didn't prepare for it and then prepare for those things. And there's plenty of content online, I'm not going to rehash all of it, but there's tons of content around planning for emergencies. The most obvious, for example, is planning for financial emergencies. If you have a financial emergency that you can't cover, then almost every other area of your life becomes affected and perhaps for quite a long time. So it's important, for example, to build up an emergency fund. This is something you can do in every scale of your life. You can do it at the smallest scale with things like property insurance, article insurance on our personal belongings. But then we do it at a very large scale as well. As companies, we identify the things that threaten our company, other companies, or perhaps environmental factors, the environment of the market, for example, could that affect our company and in what ways can we prepare? So this is something that really affects the way we think about planning at all stages of life. And I highly recommend that you spend some time thinking about this kind of stuff, thinking about this, especially for your own personal life. Think through the scenarios and through how you would handle various events if they occur. Now, this shouldn't be approached from the perspective of fearfulness, right? Because statistically speaking, preparing for every single catastrophic event that you can imagine is a really bad use of your time. It's extremely unlikely that you're going to have a string of catastrophic events occurring in your life. So I want you to prepare for these things occurring in your life with two kind of metrics in mind, right? The first metric is how much would this affect my life? For example, in the off chance that your home catches on fire and burns down, which is a complete tragedy, even though it is incredibly unlikely, it's important that you ensure yourself against that kind of thing, right? So how does this apply to your career? It's something to think about. In the unlikely scenario that in your smooth running and dependable job, you get laid off. How do you handle that? What is your plan? And what is your insurance plan to be able to handle that, to be able to find another job and to transition in that period? So even for unlikely events, it is not necessarily a bad idea to prepare for those unlikely events. On the flip side, I want you to consider the likeness of the event as well. In a very likely event, so for example, for me, it is extremely likely, almost 100% chance that our child will be born in June. On top of that, if I combine that factor with how much it will change my life, right, I'm combining the fact that it's going to change my life significantly, then that justifies a pretty strong amount of preparation for that event to occur. And when I have a 95 or 99% confidence level that any event will occur, and it's going to change your life at that scale, as the scale that a child will change your life, then it makes sense to spend a bunch of energy to prepare for that event. Really everything that you've asked me about Jonathan is about preparing for risk and executing in the face of uncertainty. In both of these scenarios, fear is your enemy. If you allow yourself to become paralyzed by fear, rather than mobilized by it, right? If you don't write those blog posts because you're afraid that they're not going to land well, then the worst thing that can happen is already happening. You're not fulfilling your commitment. You're not writing anything. You're not providing value in the world. You're not even rolling the dice, right? The best thing that you can do is execute in the face of fear. If you allow your fear of a catastrophic event to prevent you from doing anything, to prevent you from taking action, then once again, you're allowing the worst thing to happen. Instead, allow your fear to propel you towards action and preparation. Only then can you face life's challenges, whether that's the joyful challenge of having a new child come into the world, or the more difficult challenge of losing a job, facing your fears and executing in the face of fear. That's really the only way to succeed against those problems. The only way to succeed against those struggles. Jonathan, thank you so much for writing into Developer Tea. If you have a question, if you're listening to the show and you have a question like Jonathan did, you can always reach me at Developer Tea at gmail.com. Here's your assignment. Before you listen to the next episode of Developer Tea, I want you to do this. I want you to take out a piece of paper. I want you to write down three specific actions that you can take in the next month to prepare for the unexpected. Three actions, three very specific things you can do in the next month to prepare yourself for the unexpected. That can be the unexpected in your life. Like for example, for me, I don't know what to expect when I have my first child, so I need to prepare for that. It can also be the unexpected in your career. Perhaps you need to build for example an emergency fund. There's a very simple one, probably one that a lot of you will write down. Here your three things are, there's almost certainly something you can do today to be more prepared for tomorrow or for next year or for 10 years from now. Write down those three things that's your assignment for today. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. Thank you again to Jonathan for sending in today's questions. And until next time, enjoy your tea.