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14: Daniel Kao - Self Control: Cutting Sugar for a Year, and Starting a Career in Something You Have No Experience in, On Purpose

Published 2/4/2015

In this episode, I interview front-end developer Daniel Kao. Daniel has been running his site, Diplateevo.com, since his freshman year in high school.


Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and today I have the privilege of interviewing Daniel Kao. Daniel has a fantastic site at Diplotivo.com which of course will be in the show notes but I was impressed by the content on Daniel's site. Daniel is a front end web developer but he's an entrepreneur as well and we were both added to a Slack chat community where we have been talking a little bit and I went to Daniel's site read a few of his posts and I realized the thing that stuck out to me is that he's been writing pretty consistently since 2012 or so and I asked him how old he was just to kind of get a feel of where he is in life and Daniel's only 20 which kind of blew me away. Daniel's an incredibly smart guy. He's moving into a field that he doesn't know very much about. Now at first that might strike you as kind of strange for an entrepreneur to move into a field that he doesn't know too much about but in the interview we actually kind of talk about why that might be like a superpower of sorts like why it's actually a good thing that Daniel may not know everything about the field that he's about to start working in so I hope you enjoy the interview with Daniel Cal. Daniel thank you so much for being on the show today. Thank you for having me. So I'd love to talk just kind of about your life because what caught my eye on your site which by the way if you can pronounce this for me because I'm going to butcher it. Is it Diplotevo? That is correct. Awesome. Alright so Diplotevo.com which will of course be in the show notes. The very first story on your feed is one year without sweets and it's kind of recapping your 2014 where you went entirely like a full year without eating anything sweet intentionally. Is that correct? That's right. So are you still holding up? I've caved in a little bit here and there but for the most part anything that is extremely sweet like cakes, cookies, desserts, I've been I've come to a point where I've been often for so long that those things don't even really appeal to me anymore. Like I'm at a point where I drink my coffee black and you know don't get any sweetener my tea or anything like that so it's kind of a different place and where I spit. Sure so you probably for the people who are listening to this and actually taking a coffee or a tea break you might have just given them a little bit of conviction so that's awesome. So can you first of all that takes a lot of self control and I think self control is is such an important part of anybody's life but especially developers so I'd like to know like what was the kind of the reason why you chose to do a year long commitment like that? So there are a couple reasons. First of all a lot of my friends in California have been kind of being more have been more aware of their health as of recently and a lot of them were starting to go vegan and I didn't quite make sense to me because you know I'm a very kind of logical thinker and you know I I wanted to get like the big wins I'm always about like you know what's what 80 or what 20% will generate 80% of the results. And so I jumped in and started doing a little bit of research just to improve my own health and I realized that probably more effective than cutting out meat from a health perspective is probably cutting out sugar. And so while all the rest of my friends were you know trying all these different like vegan things I decided you know I'm going to try something a little bit more out there and see how this you know see how this affects my energy and among other things and health so so I decided to all right I'm going to do a year without sweets and as a I guess as the second point that probably isn't it wasn't isn't as important as the first one but also quite significant is also just this idea of being able to control myself a little bit more like like build up that self control and that you know ability to kind of like have control over you know mind will and what I you know what I'm what I might what I instinctively want right great yeah that's awesome so before the show we were talking and Daniel asked me you know what I wanted for this show to kind of focus on and I guess naturally actually we've just kind of stumbled on a good theme I think for this one which is self control and I think Daniel has a inspiring amount of self control to be able to do this I know I myself I've I've recently kind of taken up some some positive not not recently as in this year but in the past like year and a half two years kind of adopted some some more regimented health habits so including eating significantly less sugar so I really I identify with this move and also with the research like that that was one of the driving factors for me as well right so I decided that you know no matter what it is that I'm putting in my body I want to be in control not in the sense that like I felt out of control but more in the sense that I want to maintain a high level of integrity with myself right not just like with my day to day work but also with you know my day to day behavior so so that's that's a really interesting thing that you've done I I think it's inspiring simply regardless of what it is just saying that you didn't do anything for a year I mean it could be as simple as like I didn't say you know a certain word this entire year it's like wow that is dedication you know right so in this in this year review you also said that you met some of your personal heroes including you know Chase Jarvis and Peter Teal and a couple others what was that experience like how did how did that actually occur if you don't mind cheering well so there were a lot of different instances and I met each one of them kind of in a different you know in a different context so I can't give you kind of one specific instance where I met all of them so it wasn't like it wasn't like a one you know like killing all the birds with one stone type of thing but it was it was a variety of different meetings where you know or instances where I was just able to you know with for example with Chase Jarvis I just did a I just did some research and then I found that you know he does his Chase Jarvis live shows every you know every so often in the studio and you can sign up to be a part of the studio audience and so I did that and then you know I I talked to him and then talked to him a couple of times since and so you know it's it's it's cool that he like recognizes me now whenever I go up to you know creative life in San Francisco so that's also right cool yeah that's it you know it's always an interesting thing when you meet people that you that kind of seem a far I live in Chattanooga so Chattanooga is relatively speaking there's not many like of my heroes walking around town here not to say that there aren't some incredible people here but it's it's just not like right with a bunch of people in you know web development community you know and so so I don't have the same kind of experience as probably as you do so that puts you in a unique position to be kind of constantly surrounded by a lot of people that probably are in like headlines you know or or being shared online quite a bit so that's cool awesome well so tell me about what what you've been working on recently that you can share about that's really interested you okay um I I'm someone that I like to work on a million different things at the same time which probably is something that you know I should apply some of myself control that I learned from my ear without sugar and start saying notice the more things but give me a second but I think that one one project that I'm really excited to share is this past year I'm in probably around summer of 2014 I helped I co-founded a company um and we're currently building out an alpha um hopefully to launch sometime in the next couple months and what we're building is we're building a we're rethinking the grant um process the grant application process and the grant matching process with with research and others um and so basically the idea is that you know right now the grant process is is very fragmented um there's a lot of different every different foundation has their own um type of system and their own application process and every you know and and there and and when it comes time for a researcher to kind of apply for those grants it becomes a very long ordeal where they have to look into every single foundation's website all their mailing lists and everything in order to get um you know the information that they're looking for so we're looking to solve that problem that's awesome and so what is what is your role in that company currently so I'm I've been doing a lot of uh more front end development as well as just kind of the product decisions and user interviews um so everything from you know like contacting different foundations all the way down to um writing the you know front end code and you know also some of the backend as well that's awesome um quick just uh completely practical question what is what is your site built on so our tech stack um we're using media um which I absolutely love it is uh brand like relatively new framework um based on node sure it is completely reactive you know I love the fact that you're able to write both front end code and back end code under the same framework um yeah it's definitely it's definitely I see it as a game changer in the future yeah absolutely are you using media for your personal side as well um my personal side is built off WordPress so it is not media okay yeah it has a it has a great uh a great experience with reading a post and then I see that you've included the uh it's kind of like the kudo button I don't want to it i guess it is a kudo button actually i'm looking at it now um which I I have experience with that when I used to write on on subtle um so that's that's i love that interaction is really interesting i love that thank you cool so uh so the grant process um that's relatively complex uh like a complex field to get into um do you have any background uh working with that kind of um i guess it's legal right like something right that is that is that complex from the legal perspective absolutely so i actually don't have too much uh experience in that field um it's kind of interesting how we just stumbled across it because a lot of the people that um you know me and my co-founder me I met him through um at my school and you know we just we were just kind of brainstorming different things that we wanted to do like different problems that we could solve and you know both of us knowing a lot of our professors and going to a lot of their office salaries realized that that was a very big pain point for them and so as a result we decided to you know let's let's let's go ahead and try to solve this we don't absolutely nothing but at the same point there's there's there's something to be said about you know um absolutely beginners um just trying to you know see things in an industry that's been around for so long you know being able to see if in spot different opportunities that you know maybe people with a lot of experience you know haven't seen and that's why there hasn't been a lot of change per second yeah i think it i think it provides you uh with a particular um advantage actually because and so this is what's so awesome about uh i'm gonna say something really broad about our world today right uh is that we can we can go into almost any industry that we want to and because information is so widely available we can learn enough about that thing to actually participate in that industry and create something valuable um and even use our inexperience as like an up like a step up you know it helps sometimes it helps to be inexperienced which is kind of a bizarre situation to be in and i think the world has changed um and that has not always been the case but it certainly is the case for things exactly like what you're involved in now that's great so um uh it's in alpha you said right well currently we haven't even launched a alpha version yet we're hoping to launch an alpha very soon so um i'll keep you updated on how that goes awesome yeah and so if anybody wants to learn about you or about what you're doing uh i want to direct them i guess to diplotivo.com correct um awesome Daniel i i really appreciate your time i know that uh tonight you're gonna be watching the uh state of the union uh so i'm gonna let you go and and uh i appreciate your time again thank you so much for being on Developer Tea now that you thank you so much for having me Jon make sure you go and check out Daniel's blog at diplotivo.com which will be in the show notes thank you for listening to Developer Tea if you have any suggestions for me you can reach me on twitter at at Developer Tea or you can email me at Developer Tea at gmail.com you can also go to developertea.com where there's a comments uh section on each of the different podcasts pages uh and there's also a contact form there as well. Thanks again to Daniel and until next time enjoy your tea.