« All Episodes

Interview with Kalid Azad (part 1 of 3)

Published 1/25/2017

In today's episode, I interview a returning guest, Kalid Azad! Kalid is the creator of BetterExplained.

Kalid's first interview @BetterExplained on Twitter

Today's episode is sponsored by Headspace. Headspace offers you guided meditation that you can take with you, and does so in a beautifully made native app experience. Headspace is also hiring! Head over to https://Headspace.com/join-us to learn more about the openings.

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey, if you want to welcome to Developer Tea, my name is Jonathan Cutrell and in today's episode I'll be interviewing Kalid Azad. Kalid has been on the show before and really excited to have him back on. He is the creator of BetterExplained.com and we interviewed him about a year ago, a little bit less than a year ago, and he recently rolled over 10 years on BetterExplained, hugely popular site and also incredibly helpful. We're going to talk about some of the things that he has had epiphanies about. We talked about some of them on the last episode. We might end up actually talking about some of the same ones again, but some of his more recent epiphanies, but more importantly, we're going to discuss the 10 year history of BetterExplained and some of the lessons that Kalid has learned along the way in creating content that is fundamentally valuable. That's what we're going to talk about in today's episode. Of course, as usual with these interviews, we split them up into two parts. That's because we still try to keep the length of the episodes on Developer Teaas low as possible. Obviously, within the interviews, they're longer than the other episodes, but we split it up into two parts for that reason. Make sure you subscribe so you don't miss out on the second part of the interview. Now let's go ahead and jump straight into the interview with Kalid. Let's see. Can you hear me okay? I can. It sounds great. Oh, perfect. And you too. Good. I've been a little bit since I've hooked up all the mic stuff, so it's still working. Good. Yeah, I totally understand. Cool. So I'm really excited about the interview today. Thank you very much for coming on the show. Oh, yeah. I know. I mean, actually, it's funny, even our previous interview. I would just in the car sometimes, if it's in my player, like my podcast player, I'll turn it on. It was so much fun. And there's something about it where, because myself, I forget a lot of things that I figured out. Like actually, I have the right things down because it's so easy for me to forget. Oh, like that was something I figured out and then, you know, it just leaves my mind. So I come back to it. And I'm like, oh, my gosh, that's like, you know, that that was a kind of a fun way to approach something or something. So it's sort of like for me, too, is informative just to remember. It sounds like the podcast is going really well. I mean, you've been cranking them out. And, you know, that's something I've been impressed. Man, I think last time, too, we started a record. Basically, I'm going to talk your ear off. So whenever. No, go ahead. Yeah. So I mean, no, I've just, that's one thing for myself that one of the things I'd like to become better at is being a little bit more consistent or having a schedule. I'm sort of a little bit, I think, maybe a little bit of a diva. In some cases where I try to get myself inspired or in the mood sometimes to create and I think I feel like you have a more kind of disciplined, like in a good way. Just, okay, you know, we're just going to every week have a recording or I'm not sure how often you're doing these, but it's enough that you basically have a pretty big pipeline. And I think taking the weather or not your motivated question out of it, it seems like you're kind of, it's happening no matter what. And, you know, it just sort of happens. And I feel to myself, I still have a little bit of a sense that I need to be kind of ready to sort of speak. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Who knows if you're feeling ready one day or not, but I feel like you're just like, okay, like we have an interview lined up. Let's just do it. So it's awesome. You know, normally I have like a couple of minutes where I talk to interview ease, I guess I interview ease that I have on the show. You know, it's really interesting that you mentioned that because I think it's actually very relevant to our discussion that we're going to have about the 10 years and the lessons that you've learned along the way. The podcast is going well, I have a tenuous relationship, kind of a frustrating relationship with this thing called motivation or inspiration. And it's a really hard thing to try to put into a box, right? Like when the idea strikes, whether it's at dinner time, you know, with my wife or if it's at three o'clock in the morning, if I don't capture it in some way or something like that, then I end up losing it. And so what I've tried to do is create some kind of semblance of a regular schedule and a space to be motivated or a space to be inspired. I actually talked about it on the last episode. So one of the things that I do actually is I will I'll work out for like 20 or 30 minute, really short workout, and then I'll take a shower. And as strange as it sounds, like 90% of my ideas for these monologue type episodes that I do end up coming from the shower. It's kind of a weird thing. That's awesome. Actually, that's, I don't, I think I heard it or this is kind of my own little kind of gut check too is a lot of people sometimes they ask me what, like how to find their path. I mean, not that I'm an expert in this, but they say, oh, you know, how can I discover my passion? It seems like you, you know, you figured out what you like. And the shower test is a great one where when your mind has nothing to do in your comfortable situation and there's no distraction, so a shower is perfect for that. Where does your mind naturally gravitate towards? And I think that's where ideas go up and, you know, half finished thoughts and for myself to little intuitions or an SAO on a work on, they seem to come up in the shower as well. And I think it's a great place to just, you know, in the absence of all these distractions that we're used to just to see what's there because your mind rarely is it blank. It's usually there's something going on, but often that's something is driven by external events. So when it's just your mind on its own, what, you know, what pops up. And so I think that's an awesome test because I use that sometimes if I'm working on a post and it's really interesting to me, that'll be what comes up and other times it'll be, oh, you know, I might want to do something with the site. So I think it's a nice way to kind of figure out what, I guess subconsciously you're thinking about and it kind of emerges a little bit in the quiet of the shower. So that's great. That's a really interesting insight. I think that this actually outlines something that we don't often really connect. And that is the, the, the health of your, of your mind, right? Your, your mental health is going to have an effect on, on this when, when you, when you're in the shower and it's quiet or, you know, whatever, whatever your space is, I'm not going to say you have to take a shower for that to be the only thing. Maybe you go for a drive out in the countryside. I don't know. Wherever you find your space, a lot of people who have, and, and I've dealt with it before. So I'm going to speak from my very limited and some, like kind of smaller example, but I've, I've dealt with anxiety before, right? So, and when it gets quiet and then when there's nothing to do, you know, are you able to be inspired or are you dealing with, with thoughts of anxiety or, and there's a lot of reasons for us to pay attention to these things that go beyond just, whether or not we can be inspired, obviously, but it certainly has an effect on, on the creator mindset. And, you know, that's, that's just something to be aware of. If you're listening to this podcast and maybe you've never dealt with mental health issues, or maybe you are dealing with mental health issues right now, this is not really my area of expertise. So I try to tread lightly in areas where I don't have a lot of authority, but, you know, certainly don't take it for granted that your job or your creativity, that those things can be separated or somehow contained away from your mental health. It is all certainly driven by that one big organ in, in, inside of your head, right? Like it's a really interesting thing. Exactly. And I, oh man, see when I'm talking with you, I just get all these analogies in my brain. And so something in a similar way, just now it struck me that, so our, our output or our creativity or productivity, we normally think of it as maybe a function of one parameter. So you pass in something like willpower or, or, or wanting something. But I think it's actually, there's a kind of a hidden global variable that this function is referencing, which is your kind of emotional state. And so you don't really control that variable directly. So you can say, okay, I'm going to, you know, I want to make a recording or read an essay or work in a program. And I'm just going to put in my motivation level. So that's, you know, X is being put in the parameter. But that function of whether you actually do it is reading from a global variable, which is your emotional state, which you don't really control directly. And so you can, for the same X or the same amount of motivation, sometimes you'll do something sometimes you won't. And there's kind of this other factor, which you don't directly control, which is, oh, you know, are you, do you have energy? Are you hungry, tired, sleepy? Are you emotionally, you know, maybe upset because of something or maybe you're frustrated or there could be 50 different reasons that something doesn't happen. And unfortunately, we only control that kind of X parameter, which is maybe my conscious willpower. And we don't realize there's so many other things that can get involved. And so we might beat ourselves up. We say, hey, and that's actually a life lesson I learned is to be a lot more gentle with myself and say, hey, wait a minute. If I'm putting in the same mental determination, but it doesn't seem to be happening. I mean, it's funny. It's this paradox where if you're logical and a lot of programmers, we pride ourselves and be very logical, but if you're logical, you should realize that there's places where logic doesn't work because clearly for the same intention, you don't have the same output. So therefore, there's something else or something that isn't variable, which is not contained in what you're putting in that's determining the output. So you have to say, okay, what is that? You're a mental state, emotional state. And so over time, I learned to be gentle with myself and say, okay, let's try to suss out maybe, but there's something else going on. And it's hard directly. You can't wheel yourself into happiness or out of, if you're feeling anxious, you can't really wheel yourself out of that, but you can at least recognize it. And then there might be things you can do from there. So that was a big, a home moment for me was realizing there's kind of that hidden global variable that's formed. That's such a cool metaphor. We can understand this as programmers that the idea of having a clean program that you can recognize and control the inputs and outputs. And I guess the human brain is best described as an extremely poorly written piece of code in one way in that there's so many side effects that any given function may be modifying the state of everything in your brain. And in fact, there's probably some pretty good evidence to say that that's true, that literally every experience you have changes the way that you perceive every new experience. Right? Of course, you could say that it is actually the best written software that our brain actually works exactly how it should and that our perception of that is actually the broken part. But in either case, it is a really interesting thing to say, okay, I'm going to give my self a little bit more credit than I did previously because it's easy for us to reduce things as much as possible. In fact, our brains are super good at that. We try to reduce the things that we have to think about. We try to reduce things through their simplest form so that we can understand them. We try as many times as we can to make something binary. We try to say, okay, it either is this way or it isn't this way. If I do this thing, then I will be successful. If I don't do this thing, then I won't be successful. And usually, more often than not, things are not that way. And it's kind of a weird part of our brain, maybe a survival instinct or maybe it's just our brains being lazy and trying to save calories. But it's something in our brains that is saying, okay, I'm going to simplify this even though that's not a picture of reality. I'm going to try to approximate reality and then round up or round down. However, I see fit. Exactly. I've heard, again, this is sort of pop psychology or biology, but our brains aren't really happiness isn't necessarily necessary for survival. If you're sad or depressed or upset or anxious, but it makes you do something, then hey, that's a really good way to get you, like fear is a great motivator. So you feel horrible. But fear is a great way to get you to run away from a tiger. So maybe that's just the way that it turned out. It's harness your fear. It's what you're saying. Harness your fear or it's more that, I guess, yeah, it's that your brain... We're understanding at least. Yeah, exactly. And realize that it might just be a signal that historically has been very useful in terms of survival, but it's not particularly useful. It's not enjoyable necessarily. Right. You can sort of separate that. And actually, one approach I've taken, too, is like you said, like the brain in your mind, I mean, again, as programmers, we're... It's fun to have a system and you want to reverse engineer it and figure out how it works, but I think the human mind and consciousness and the brain, these are so abstract and difficult. My high level approach is to work backwards from what's happened in the past. So for example, it's hard for me to know, to explicitly state my values, let's say, like if you just ask me right now, what are the most important things in your life? I mean, I can think for three seconds, but that's kind of my brain trying to construct scenarios and saying, oh, okay, it could be like relationships and learning. Like, you know, I can just off the top of my mind think of a few things, but is that really what my values are or am I just creating kind of a little bit of a story? Right. Yeah. So one thing I've done is basically over time, when I feel alive, so my notion of alive is you have that, ah-ha moment, you feel energized, you're in the kind of flow state, you're basically just these happy moments in your life. Whenever they happen, I just try to write down what I was doing or what happened. So it might be, hey, yeah, I had a really great interview or maybe I got a nice note from somebody that something was helpful or maybe I figured out a problem that I was working on or... There could be dozens of different events that are happening. And so I've been keeping a text file, I call it the feelgood.text file, basically. And it's just kind of a straight, you know, just notepad text file and whenever I have an entry or something happens that really makes me feel alive and energized and write it down. And so actually in the blog post, I took that file and you can look through it manually but I ran it through kind of a word cloud diagram. So I said, okay, let's just add a purely, and this is kind of the program in part coming out, okay, just from purely kind of analytical perspective, like what words or themes seem to be showing up. So for me, I ran it and it's basically I have a word cloud and it's essentially curiosity learning, helping people getting in the zone. So being in that flow state is itself super enjoyable and then sort of having fun and kind of a playful sense of like playing with ideas and being kind of a little bit of a reverent and so on. Those things really get me alive or they make me alive. And so I was able to kind of like extract out the emotions or the things that created good emotions. And I didn't, I couldn't, I don't know if it's necessarily a conscious, you know, thought process. It's really just, just write down what happened and then you kind of reverse engineer out, oh, these things were happening every time I was happy. Yeah, I have this on my list of things to talk to you about actually. So I'm really glad that you brought it up and not me because it's one of my favorite ideas that I've heard from you. And I also have heard a similar idea from the great Tim Ferris. I'm going to invoke his name. I know in the podcasting world, there's probably a fairy somewhere that's carrying him a little note to remind him that he still is at the top of the business list on the podcast, you know, top 10 or whatever. But he talks about the jar of awesome. And I think he actually stole it from somebody else to or borrowed it, but he talks about the jar of awesome, which is a very similar concept whenever somebody experiences something really awesome that day, write it down on a piece of paper and drop it in this jar. And the whole goal here is there's a couple of things that that both of you have mentioned is the review portion. It's not the process of actually collecting it. It's going back and learning, it's almost like collecting data and then you're going back and learning about yourself based on reality rather than based on your, like you're saying, a constructed story, right? It's very similar to a quote that I heard recently and this is a really good, it's like a little gem and extra little nugget here for you business owners that are listening to Developer Tea. But I heard a quote, and I can't remember who it was from, but they said your culture is not what you say, but what you celebrate. All right, and it was a very interesting explanation of a lot of feelings that I was having. So let's say for example that one of your stated values at your company is that you believe in work, life balance. This is a very common one that we believe in people having families and having free time and we also believe in hard work and we want to set, you know, good boundaries, etc., but then you have someone stay past their normal working hours. Let's say, you know, some project fails and you have a work explosion and then somebody has to stay until 7 p.m. one night, right? Okay. Now, in this scenario, how often does that same company that states that one of their biggest values is family values, right? A state that going home at 5 o'clock every day is an important part of their balance, metrics or whatever. And then they celebrate this one person who decided to stay late. Now, it's a really interesting thing because certainly we want to celebrate the efforts, the above and beyond efforts of workers, right? That's a really important thing. But how many times are you celebrating when you actually accomplish balance? Are you actually giving this message clearly to the people that you work with when you don't celebrate the things that you say you value? It's a good question, right? I'm not certain that it's 100% the case that you should be celebrating every day at 5 o'clock when people leave. I don't know that that's, you know, any better necessarily. But I do think it's an interesting study to determine, okay, you know, the things that make me feel good or the things that I actually emotionally, that are emotionally evoking for me. Am I actually recognizing those things when I say these are the things that I value? Exactly. And I think that's a good analogy too because you're right. If a certain, for example, you know, pulling an all night or a cranking or, you know, having kind of a, like a, like a, you know, death march to finish a project and that's rewarded, I mean, it is setting a pretty strong signal that is really what's important versus the other things. And I think, yeah, for yourself personally, your own happiness, right? Like if you feel alive when something happens, then that is a pretty strong signal that that's actually what matters. And so I think it's, and it's really easy to, the thing I like about this too is it's not, it's, yeah, it's the celebration or looking at your own happiness levels over time. It takes a little bit of the guesswork out of it. Like you don't have to do anything in particular. You don't have to, you're not telling somebody to celebrate here. Just pay attention when you celebrate. So when it naturally arises, you're sort of extracting out kind of the circumstances versus, you know, it's all these things. Like as soon as you get your brain involved, there's some studies I think they're, you know, they ask people about life satisfaction and, you know, people give the one to ten rating. But if they put a dollar on the ground on the way to the study and then the person picks it up is, oh, again, the dollar. And now they ask them about life satisfaction, you know, it's like a point or two higher. Yeah. So like a one dollar and it's such a temporary thing. But we're so easily swayed by these things. So you have to sort of look over time and maybe look at what really made you fulfilled and not necessarily intellectualize it too much. Today's episode is sponsored by Headspace. If you haven't heard of Headspace, Headspace is an application that helps make meditation simple. Hopefully you have heard of Headspace. Hopefully you're listening to Developer Tea and how if that you've heard the last couple of episodes we talked about Headspace a few times. As a developer, investing in your mental health is one of the most important things you can do. We've already talked about that on today's episode and we're going to talk about it on plenty of other episodes because it's not a small subject. It's not a simple one. But meditation has been shown to be good for your mental health. This is pretty much across the board. Very few people can get away with saying that they wouldn't benefit from meditation. So, meditation is a great way to improve your mental clarity, your focus and your creativity. And the best way I can describe it is it's like practicing focus. And we've talked about practicing focus on this show before but that's what meditation is like. It's like practicing focus. Now, there are plenty of ways that you could meditate but Headspace makes it simple. They really do. They do you through this very pleasant application very well designed and it's much simpler to approach than just going on YouTube and trying to find guided meditation. So go and check it out. Headspace.com, of course you can find it in the app stores but Headspace.com to learn more about the company. They have over 10 million downloads worldwide by the way and they're building a world-class engineering team with offices in San Francisco and in Los Angeles. So if you're interested in joining Headspace as a company, as a developer, then go and check it out. Headspace.com slash join-us or spec.fm slash headspace will take you directly to that link. But again, Headspace is hiring for people who are interested both in mental health as well as becoming a developer at a world-class development team with over 10 million downloads worldwide. Thank you again to Headspace for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. Just wait for a day, even or wait for a few hours. Don't send that email because that could be that primary stake in the ground memory. You know, if you've seen, I'm sure you've seen inside out, right? Yes. You have these particularly important memories, like anchor memories. Sorry for spoiler alerts. I'm hopefully, hopefully we're past that now, but particularly important memories, right? And this is how we build our perception as something. If you think about your childhood home, for example, and I think I've talked about this on the podcast before, but you don't think about the entire home. You think about your bed sheets, right? Or you think about a particular toy that you played with or that one time that your mom made cookies with you or something like that, right? And everybody has different versions of those, but trying to construct an average experience across your entire relationship with someone, that's not going to be the way that they evaluate that relationship. They're going to evaluate it based on the high points and also based on more recent memories. Exactly. And on that as well, another life lesson that came to appreciate was, yeah, the value of not taking things personally. And again, that's an easy thing to say. You don't take it personally, just a sudden issue with you. You can kind of deal with it more abstractly, but actually learning to internalize that was probably one of the biggest things because a lot of, yeah, our reactions and so on. It's not just what somebody did, but it's our interpretation of it. And so all that emotional heat that comes as an extra, it's like a cap, you know, things can, and writing online essentially gives you many, many chances to see or to kind of, you know, test your or do anything, you know, whether you're podcasting or writing or making videos, you know, being on forums, open source software, anything that you're making, you'll have a lot of chances to test your, don't take it personal approach to things. And, you know, after time, I mean, unfortunately, it can be tough. I mean, you see people, that's actually another thing to a lot of people, some people figured out thankfully or figured out in a sense that they learn how to manage it. But oftentimes, you know, like I've been close like to, you know, either burnout or getting upset or something and saying, okay, is it worth it? And I unfortunately in the open source world, especially recently, like you see posts of people that are just, you know, they don't want to deal with the negative consequences of having something out there. And it makes sense because, you know, they're getting, I don't, I think in general, I get probably 95 to 5% positive or negative. So it's a pretty good ratio and it doesn't. It is easy to manage, but I think for certain projects, I'm sure it's closer to 50, 50 or even worse. So some people, they have to deal with that a lot more in a difficult circumstance. So that is, I think the other skill is just learning to take it personal and it kind of, it helps a lot of parts of your life as well. Yeah. I think it goes back to that discussion on how we have really inefficient software running our emotional state, right? But somebody's, somebody could have had a bad breakfast that morning and therefore they're going to leave a bad review for your app that has nothing to do with their breakfast at all. Like, there's so many things and, you know, one of the ways that I've kind of proven this to myself is whenever I get a bad review on iTunes, which by the way is totally fine. Whenever I get a bad review on iTunes, I'll go in and look at that reviewer's history. And more often than not, you'd be surprised, more often than not, people who leave a bad review for one thing, very often have also left a bad review for another thing. So I mean, just, just watch out for that kind of stuff. It's very likely that the, when you take something personal, the problem that you're kind of propagating, I guess, for yourself is that you're, you're thinking that that person has really well constructed their criticism on you, that it really is actually your fault. But most of the time there are a hundred other factors that you're not considering, that you couldn't consider. There's no way you can know what's going on with that person. Exactly. And I sort of have this, so the flip of that too is if something goes really well. So this is kind of the, the unit in the angle that I suppose, but somebody loves your stuff. It's great. I'm happy when somebody likes one of my articles, but I try not to think, oh, I'm such an awesome article writer. I mean, it's maybe, like, they were just ready for it. Like, they had the right background. So when they saw it, the analogy just popped into place. And for somebody else, they didn't have the background or maybe, like, you know, what I thought was funny was actually really boring to somebody else. So there's a lot of factors in there. So I think ultimately I try to put forth my best effort in the sense that, and this is another little paradox, like, best doesn't mean 100% max effort. So you know, my best effort at writing doesn't mean that I spend 20 hours every day writing something. My best effort might be two hours. That's the reasonable amount that I can put in sustainably. So okay, let's say it's two hours for a week and then I have, you know, 10 hours and then I make a post-base on that. So based on my best effort, I feel like, okay, that was, that was what I could accomplish with that. Let's put the post out there. And then some people like it, some people don't. Okay, like I can't really control if they like it or not. In my mind, if I feel like I put it in an honest effort, then I can't really ask for more. And then, you know, I can learn from things and keep going. But the flip of the not feeling bad about things is also, it's not that you don't feel good, but you don't necessarily want to take it personal that I'm great. It's more that I was able to, you know, put something out there and maybe my skills is improving over time, but it's not really a reflection of me as a human being or anything. It's just, I'm like a, like, it sounds a little bit impersonal, but I'm like a machine that's like, you know, it's getting better. It's, you know, the friction is getting smoothed out. I'm a little bit smoother at doing this thing, but I'm not anything special because of it. Or bad if it doesn't work out. It's just I'm going to keep kind of trying to put forth what I can. Yeah, that's a really good insight. I think that, you know, having this overly positive view of your own stuff is, that's a common problem. People are generally proud of themselves about one or two things, right? I think it's, you know, we have this encoding in our brains. Maybe it's from school. You tell me what you think of this because I think it's a pretty interesting analogy. Or maybe it's more like the etymology of the way we think about ratings, for example. But we have this encoding built into our brains of less than 60% means failure, right? Or less than a particular number means that you are actually going to experience something negative as a result. You're going to fail this class. You're going to fail this grade. Maybe even fail, you know, lose your scholarship if you're on a scholarship in college and it relies on your grades, which I went through that, right? Well, I didn't go through losing my scholarship, but I had a scholarship and I had the fear that failure would mean, you know, something largely negative for me. And I think that, you know, when it comes to putting out content in particular, and here in a second, we're going to talk all about your 10-year history with better explained. But when it comes to putting out content, we have that same encoding in our brains that anything less than approval is actually doing something bad in the world, right? Like, somehow we've made somebody's day worse because of the article we posted or the podcast we recorded. And usually, more often than not, I would say, it's a better way to evaluate your stuff by how much good it has created. And even 20% is still some level of value, right? Like, I think we still view that if we have a 20% approval rating, then we're actually hurting the world. But that's not true. The other 80%, they're likely just to ignore us. They're likely just to move on with their day and, you know, it's not a big deal. And we don't really focus on the fact that most of what we're doing is going to be creating some level of value. And it's our jobs to increase that level of value, not to focus on how high of an approval or like how close to an A plus we get with this kind of thing because we don't have a scholarship to fail on. We don't have that level of negative response when we have a negative review. Exactly. And I think there's this kind of emotional element to, yeah, especially in the school system and all these things, there's sort of this worthiness or unworthiness that we're associating with it. I think for me that one of the tricks was to separate that or to say that, you know, like a test or a grade or something, it's not a question of worth or unworth. It's just skillful or non-skillful. So it's okay to say, hey, I'm skilled at this and I'm not skilled at that. Okay, that's fine. Like, not being, I'm not skilled at knitting. I'm not skilled at cooking. There's bazillion things I'm not skilled at. I'm not worthy or unworthy because of it. And it's something that I can develop the skill, sure. But you sort of take away some of that emotional charge. But unfortunately, certain things in society are held up as these are the things that, to be a worthy person, so to speak, you need to be doing these things. And so having, succeeding in school or having good education or whatever it is, we sort of put a lot of emotional charge on these things. And I think what happens is we get now, you know, we're afraid to fail. We're afraid to explore because if I fail, I mean, I'm not worthy. I'm not good enough for something. So seeing that connection for me at least was pretty important because once you separated it a little bit, you can start to treat it just like it's like a skill. I'm trying to think of a good analogy, but something, yeah, something like knitting. Like nobody, very few people probably are upset that they don't knit that well. But, you know, I'm looking at like, oh, like it's like, okay, but not doing well in school. Oh my gosh, like, ah, like this is my life's going to be horrible. And of course, there's more outcomes attached to the school thing. But in terms of wanting to improve or trying to improve, there's sort of like a gentleness that you can take that you would approach yourself with, hey, I want to improve it knitting. Okay, let's try this and, you know, maybe you practice, but you're not charged up about it. But with something like, yeah, math, especially, there's a lot of emotional energy around there. So when people are failing at math or they're not doing well, they don't see this as skill thing. I'm stupid. It's an identity thing. It's an identity thing. Exactly. And I think one of my realizations is that, I mean, pretty much any skill can be seen as this kind of just, it's just a skill. It's just something to learn. But unfortunately, there's a lot of emotional baggage there. So for math, I'm trying to approach it a little bit where it's a skill and let me show you how easy it could be if you approach it the right way. Yeah. Doesn't mean that it's, and actually, or maybe simple. It's straightforward. If approach the right way, just like a marathon is straightforward. It's not difficult to understand the concept of it. I mean, executing it can be hard, but you at least get the, like the gist of it. And so for a lot of math, to at least understand what's going on and actually doing it can be laborious, but sometimes just understanding it is not too bad. And so even that level, a lot of people feel like they can't approach it. Actually, I mean, I think programming is similar where, you know, a lot of people probably fear the, you know, the technical side of things. And some things are very intricate and laborious, but a lot of the high level things like just, I think everybody, most people in society could become really good at Excel, let's say. And that's like very simple programming. You have kind of cells and fields and there's if statements. And I think most people in society could be pretty proficient at Excel if we really saw that as a skill to be good at. Yeah. It's a pretty useful level of programming for most people I'd say. Sure. Yeah. I agree. You hit on something that's really interesting. And man, we've just, this has been such a cool stream of consciousness conversation with you. Something really interesting, that is the identity piece. I think, you know, in society in large, we have these moments and, you know, again, encoded maybe by school or by something. But we have these moments where we put something out into the world or we do something and we're basically waiting for our grade. Like we, we're waiting for the reaction. Like I send out a tweet and I'm evaluating my ability to write a tweet and therefore, you know, some other aspects of my identity or personality or likeability based on the number of hearts I get when really, you know, or likes, I don't know what the noun is. But really it's, it's, you know, there's, it would go back to that side effect thing. There's so many other things that could go into why I only got one like on that tweet. Like for example, you know, I sent it at the wrong time of the day or, you know, everybody's at work. And so when I sent that tweet at three o'clock in the afternoon, nobody even saw it. Like, but I think the fundamental problem there is that we aren't taking a minute to say, wait a second, I'm waiting, I'm letting everyone else tell me what my identity is. Like I'm searching for this thing. I'm trying to uncover the thing that's most valuable and the only way that I'm doing it is through some really poorly formed user research, right? Like, you know, based on whatever people are responding with, I'm just taking that and applying it to my self-esteem or I'm applying it to my, to my own self-perception. And I think that's a really broken aspect of the digital age and something that we have to actively be aware of so that we don't put our self-esteem into a tweet or for you and I, I don't put my self-esteem into how people respond to this, to this interview. Exactly. And you know, it's easy to, this is one of those, I've personally become better at it over time and again, I think just being online and sharing things for a long time. You try every approach and eventually the approach of not taking it personally, I think sticks or other helps the most. So, you know, I tried everything else and that's the one that actually finally worked. But that's it. I mean, it's a race you can never win or it's like, I'm trying to think, again, my brain goes to analogies but you're trying to balance, you know, a broom on its handle and you're just constantly in this, you know, go over here, go over here, oh, the broom's moving this way and you're just chasing this need for approval or something and unfortunately it never goes away. Like, you don't, you're never validated to the level where it lasts for the rest of your life. Right. There's no, like, number of hearts or likes that could ever say, okay, that's it. I'm, I'm done. I've reached the finish line. Yeah. I've reached the finish line. Like, I'm done with likes. I don't, I don't, I don't need another like to be happy. No, like inevitably say, well, I got this many I need more. And so I started to realize that this is sort of an unwinnable situation that you can't as long as you think that somebody else can give you that validation. It's, you know, because the flip of it is, I like these little paradoxes is that as soon as you, let's say you get that validation, let's say there's some number in your head which is, you know, like a million likes or something and you do a tweet and it gets a million likes. Well, okay, now your next one is going to reach that like, like, there's always a next thing that may or may not be as good as the previous. So even getting what you want, there's always another want or keeping what you have. Let's say it's a amount of money. Let's say you need to make, you know, a hundred million dollars. Okay. Well, once you have that, now you're going to be afraid of losing it. What if the economy tends to be like this? Yeah, it's all downhill from here, right? It's all downhill, right? Yeah, you're at the top of the mountain. You're only placed it down. So now you have a different fear and you haven't, you haven't really solved the issue. So I think for me, the kind of, I guess the solution was, yeah, to kind of try to think about the process and not the outcome because ultimately the outcome. Man, that is so good. Yeah, it's really hard. And it's not like, you know, it's not like I figured this out day one. It was just over time. And again, I'd say I've removed maybe 90% of the things that bothered me about these kind of emotional issues. So there's still things that do bother me. But I'd say the vast majority of ones that used to, like a bad review or, you know, like I have books on Amazon, somebody doesn't like it. Okay, no problem. Like I used to be, I used to be more upset about that or say, oh, what are they doing wrong and now it's okay. It's just not a fit for that person. It's fine. I mean, you don't want to dismiss their feedback. If somebody has concerns, sure, like you want to consider them, but you're not putting that extra emotional weight behind it where I'm a bad person or I'm not worthy. It's just, okay, here's some issues that perhaps I can address, you know, if it makes sense to me. Yeah, this is something that's really important for developers because more than most groups, I would say, developers in their professional lives, they experience that imposter syndrome, right? And, you know, that's such a, that's such a trigger word now. And I almost hesitate to use it because it's so commonly discussed in these circles. But it's a real thing. And it's something that I still get messages about pretty much weekly about feeling like, I just don't think I have enough knowledge to do this thing or, you know, and there's some level of identity crisis as a result. And, you know, my hope is that the people who listen to this podcast can gain a little bit of encouragement from people like Colin and I, we both started out, you know, at the same place that you started out. And I know that that's also another common way of describing this like, you know, everybody starts out not being able to walk and eventually you have these master athletes and all that. And I understand that everybody's situation is different, but, you know, it really is a perception thing most of the time. Most of the time, there's something that is, you know, blocking your perception on what you're able to do. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea, my interview with Colin D'Azad. I hope you were as inspired by today's episode as I was. Colin is a great thinker and as simple as it may seem, the, the enlightenment that you can get from seeing someone else's way of perceiving the world and seeing people like Colin, his way of building metaphors and analogies and explaining things in a new and a better way. This, this is inspiring and it helps, it helps us think better. Right. So thank you so much for listening to today's episode. Thank you again to today's awesome sponsor, Headspace. If you haven't tried out meditation because you think it's, it's odd or it feels weird, I challenge you to try it out, even if it's just for the trial period, which is totally free, by the way, head over to headspace.com. Of course, if you are looking for a job and you would like to work for a company that has mental health as their top priority, their primary focus, then go and check out the offerings, job offerings at headspace. Headspace.com slash join dash us. Of course, that link can be found in the show notes at spec.fm. We've also created a quick, a quick link for you to use instead. Spec.fm slash headspace. If that one is a little bit easier for you to remember, spec.fm slash headspace. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. Don't forget to listen to the next episode. We'll continue our interview with Colled. If you don't want to miss out on future episodes, make sure you subscribe in whatever podcasting app you use. I like overcasts. I like pocket casts. Hopefully you have found one that you like as well. Go ahead and subscribe in whatever podcasting app you use. If you don't want to miss out on future episodes, thank you again and until next time, enjoy your tea.