Developer Tea

Interview w/ Michael Chan (pt. 1)

Episode Summary

Today's episode of developer Tea is a personal episode with Michael Chan and today we're digging into faith, life and difficult situations. I challenge you as you're listening to part 1 of this week's two-part episode is to ask yourself how you would answer these same questions. Check out more about Michael Chan via his Twitter profile: @chantastic

Episode Notes

Today's episode of developer Tea is a personal episode with Michael Chan and today we're digging into faith, life and difficult situations. I challenge you as you're listening to part 1 of this week's two-part episode is to ask yourself how you would answer these same questions.

Check out more about Michael Chan via his Twitter profile: @chantastic

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Episode Transcription

Today's episode of Developer Tea is a personal episode. It's an interview with Michael Chan. On the episode, we're going to be talking about personal experiences and kind of vulnerable topics, things like faith and money. Some of these things may feel a little bit uncomfortable to listen to on the podcast. We are a little bit more open on this episode than is typical of the show, but I encourage you to stick around and consider the ways that you would respond to the same questions, the same situations that we discuss on the show. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and you're listening to Developer Tea. And my goal on this show is to help driven developers like you connect to your career purpose and do better work so you can have a positive influence on the people around you. And one of the things that you have to do in order to have that connection to your own purpose and to understand yourself well is to be able to kind of dive in and wrestle with difficult questions, difficult situations and to walk through those more difficult times in your career and your personal life. So that's some of the stuff that we're talking about in today's episode. I hope you enjoy my interview with Michael Chan. Michael, thank you for coming on the show. Oh, it's my pleasure. Thank you for having me. So people will know you on Twitter as fantastic. I guess the first order of business is where did that come from. Oh, man. It's been with me for a really long time. I used to do photography with a friend of mine. And I had, I was just, I can't remember what it was before. I think it was mine and my wife's name is Michael and Nelly. And we had a whole that we had an intersection of friends and all of their friends were from Australia and Australians are just hilarious people. I love them. And they all called me fantastic. And I was like, that's kind of awesome. I love that. And so I one day after someone said I was like, that's it. I'm changing my Twitter name. And it just, it stuck. And I get really disheartened and sad when I can't get that user name on a network. I'm just like, this network is dead to me. It's never going to take off. It's terrible. That's excellent. The, yeah. So that was the first thing that I noticed when I got a message from a coworker of mine to go and watch a talk. And then, you know, this particular coworker is very thoughtful individual. Jon O'Tander. I'm not sure if you're, if you know Jon or not. No, not yet. So Jon is the author of Techions and quite a few other things. He's working. Oh, yeah. Yep. So he's working on MDX deck and a few other projects in the React world. So he sent me your talk and, you know, he doesn't really do a lot of link sharing. He's not the overshare by any means. And so I watched the talk. I believe it was called a hot garbage code or I'm going to say it wrong. Is dead. Yes. It's the name of the talk again. Yeah. Hot garbage clean code is dead. And I just remembered, I do know Jon online. I have to see pictures. I'm like so bad at the, the name thing. Oh, I'm awful at it. I'm probably going to forget the, the reason I remember your name is because it's not a normal like, I remember, it's fantastic. Yeah. And I don't remember first and last names. I remember handles better anyway. Totally, absolutely. So I'd love to ask you, when we get kicked off on the show with, with guests, I used to ask this question towards the end. And it's a question to ask all the guests that come on the show. But I've learned that it actually is a better one to ask earlier because it could drive some of our conversation. And that is, what do you wish more people would ask you about? Oh, man. You know, something that I love to talk about, but I find hard is faith and its intersection with tech. My friend Henry Zoo who maintains Babel, he is really open about this. And it's something that I envy about him. I think I'm always fearful to really out myself as a religious person, and particularly as a Christian. Just because we're in a news cycle right now where there's a lot of misunderstanding. And I feel like there's, I think there's a lot of misunderstanding there. And I think that the Christian faith is kind of figuring its, finding its footing again. And yeah, I do wish that people would ask me a little bit more about that. I'm not totally open about it. I hint at it sometimes. But yeah, I think I enjoy talking about it. I think I struggle just as much as anyone else with kind of the concept in the abstractive faith, but also just the nitty gritty of it of kind of living it out. And what does that look like? And trying to make it real and relevant and living in the good parts and loving people. And yeah, I don't know. I like talking about it, but sometimes it can be hard in our particular community. I think this is so interesting. And this is something that you and I have a pretty strong overlap on. I feel very similarly. I also identify as a Christian, but that word, as we were discussing just briefly before the show, for full transparency, everybody. That word carries a lot of meaning. Like anything else with language, it's really hard. It's really hard to adequately describe your entire belief set and do so with a single word that means so many different things to so many different people. Yeah. And to some people, it means something that is incredibly oppressive and hateful. And that's not untrue for them and for a lot of people. And yeah, it's like some of these words they get to be so overloaded. And I think a lot of times that's why we try to invent new words for things and infuse them with new meaning and fresh ideas. But yeah, I agree. It's just a very, it's a conversation that's easy to walk away from because there's just a lot of required nuance in having it. And I don't know, I feel really fortunate when I get to have that conversation, especially with people that you wouldn't assume would have complimentary worldviews. I've always felt really great the times that we've been able to talk honestly and kind of come to a common understanding and learn from each other. It's great. I like having the opportunity to share that in a kind of like surprising way, not because I'm a glutton for drama. But instead because I think it's like it's a little bit more of a more authentic moment to be able to share something by yourself that perhaps wasn't immediately assumed. Right? Yes. I think that's the reason for that is not just because of this specific subject, but really anything about us. People are very unique and deep intricate. And that's one of the beautiful things about life is that you can't just sum up a person with a single dimension. It's easy to try that. And it's easy to see a single dimension. When you look at any given stereotype, for example, in tech especially, you can really compress a lot of the otherwise really dynamic things about a person down into these reductive and ultimately harmful definitions. And that's certainly not just about Christians. And I should be very clear that Christian culture for a very long time has been very privileged. And I think that's part of the reason why this is a difficult conversation to have is, when you're in a position of privilege, anything hinting a direction where you wish you could have this conversation more, I think people will immediately assume that well, you've had your chance at this conversation enough, right? Why do you need to share it anymore? And I think it's less about me needing to share my view or my belief. And it's for me at least, it's more about me being an authentic true version of who I am and wanting the same for everyone else. And hoping that we can develop a culture together that respects individuals for who they are and gives them the space to be that. Yeah, I absolutely 100% agree. I remember the first time that I spoke with someone, I had met someone at a conference and we ended up kind of talking about religion. I can't even remember why. But I remember them being surprised that I was a Christian who just wanted to listen and not convert them. And it was kind of bizarre to me because I am not the like converting type on pretty much anything. I don't care if you use this thing or the other thing, whatever, you do you, right? But except react of course. I mean, go ahead. Yeah, so it was surprising to me and it kind of maybe realized how sad it is that it's a conversation that most people can't have for fear that they're going to get judged or going to have to say no. Like as if I'm selling something to them at their front door or whatever. And I just, I don't know, I want to be able to talk about it. Like every other thing that we get to talk about that is kind of not taboo. Money is another thing that a lot of people don't talk about, which is just ridiculous to me. We should all be talking about money and like how to make it and how to keep it and we're working so hard for it. Right. And we talk about the things that we buy, right? So like that is, if you backtrace it, if you do enough work to find out like what are the 10 things that this person bought today and then you extrapolate across the year, you can probably guess to me about how much that person makes in a year. Right. So it's kind of this weird veil that we put over it. Yeah. I've always enjoyed talking about taboo things and I think the older that I get, the more I realize that you don't have to talk about like just really fringe, weird, bizarre stuff in order to have a conversation that feels taboo. I mean, things that affect our life every day like money and religion are conversations that we're all kind of walking around the edges of. Yeah. I think a lot of that is the result of this singular perspective, right? That my version is the best version. And this is natural for people to do, by the way. And we shouldn't necessarily blame the person for it as much as we should work to find better ways to deal with those singular perspectives. I mean, that is kind of the idea. The concept of conversion is based on this idea that I know what's better for you than you know. And I think that that is really damaging and it's really, it's really harmful because, you know, if we start talking about money immediately and this is, this is something that's built into our brains. Like this is kind of thing we talk about on the show all the time. Immediately our brains are comparing. That's our immediate reaction when we start talking about money. Everything that we're doing is figuring out where we stand in the pack. Yeah. And that's a shame, isn't it? Yeah, I completely agree. I think I saw a tweet early on. I can't remember who it was by, but he was saying something about how Twitter is just all of us trying to convince everyone else that we deserve a seat in the lifeboat. And I think it's true. Like we just, we all want to be clever and funny and smart. And I feel like a lot of the networks that we have are amplifying how much we are different and not giving us an opportunity to realize how much we're the same. You know, we all have to eat several times a day. We all like like to, I don't know, I don't even know. I'm struggling to find a way. But every time we sit down with someone, no matter how different I think that we are, there's always some common ground. And I always find that I have a flawed opinion about that person because of how they have identified and all of the baggage that I have around the words that they used. And I just want to be someone who understands that every person is unique. And no matter what banner they walk under, they have their own story. They have their own thoughts about the things that they believe and the things that they do. And that's all interesting. And how they got there is an amazing thing to walk into and discover. And I think those things, like the way that we get to the destination is oftentimes like super similar, you know. And I just, I don't know. I just want to find those like commonalities a lot of times. Well, you mentioned that, you know, everybody has their own interests. A good friend of mine told me this. I think he probably stole it from somebody. We always do. We always do. Yeah. He said to look at people not in light of their, of your differences, but in light of their pain. This concept is that, you know, we all have struggles. Everybody is fighting something. Yeah. Everybody's fighting different. And even, and it's easy to demonize people based on their status or, you know, based on their wealth, for example, we often look at celebrities that are complaining and we say, oh, how can you possibly complain? You own your own personal jet, right? And on one hand, that's totally understandable for us to be appalled at this, you know, this human emotion that's coming out of a human that is unbelievably, unbelievably privileged, right? Yeah. All the stars aligned for that person and yet they're still complaining. And yet, at the same time, everyone approaches life, we all have the same amount of time in a day. We all breathe the same air. And we all feel pain in our context, absolutely, types of pain. And so if we invalidate another person and another person's pain, another person's experience, we're forgetting that, you know, we share this, this human element, regardless of, you know, the specifics, right? Regardless of whatever going on around us, whatever bit of luck we had or didn't have, everyone is fighting a battle. Yeah. My, I've heard it put kind of like similarly that pain is like a smoke detector, right, in your house. And it doesn't matter if, oops, sorry, hold on a second. Good. My computer went to sleep and I was worried that it might have stopped things. No problem. Okay. I'll start over. Yeah. I have heard it put similarly that pain is like a smoke detector and in your house, it could be going off because there's a legitimate fire or you burnt the toast. And we can't diminish, we can't diminish people's pain because something happened in their life and the alarm went off. And yeah. You know, yeah, and it's, we like to compare and contrast because it makes us feel better. Like, oh, well, they went through that pain, but like I, I'm going through this and that's like so much worse. And I just, I don't like to think like that anymore. I like to think that, that people are struggling to get through things that look benign sometimes. And it's really, I think that that we're all on a path to learning and discovery. And sometimes like the worst enemy is the one that we have to look at every day and and live with. And I, I just want to be someone who's a little bit more empathetic to, to people's differences, you know, and I think it's something that you, you learn as you get older, right? And you eat, eat everything at every transition in your life. You look ahead and you think like, oh, man, you know, grade schoolers, they look like giants to you, right? And then, and then high schoolers look like giants to you and then like college people look like giants. And then all of a sudden, like you look back and you realize, like, you know, I'm 35 now. And I look at college kids and I'm like, oh my gosh, they're like, they're kids. Like I just remember thinking that I was, I was, I was like, I'm going to be a little bit older and I just remember thinking that I was, I was like at the top of my game. I, I thought no one had it more together than me at 25. And I think realizing that everyone is kind of in mid transition and things, things can feel big to them in the way that they felt big to you when you were at that exact same place in life and didn't have a chance that you had. And, and that's good. That's awesome. Like everyone experiences it from their own perspective. And, and that's a beautiful thing. We all get to take our own time and figure out how to do this crazy thing called life, um, on our own. Yeah. This is one thing that, you know, venturing outside of the tradition that I grew up in and learning a little bit about things like Zen and Buddhism and other, other religions and other philosophies even that are not necessarily even subscribing to a particular religion. And one of the, the most useful concepts that I've, you know, I, I can sum it up and it certainly is, is going to be reductive. So I apologize to the many years and cultures that I'm getting ready to hopefully not too badly offend. But the idea of reducing your own ego, um, to the point that you can start to see life as if you didn't matter. And not, not in a depressing or self deprecating way, but instead in a way that kind of lifts everything else up. Yes. So, so you, you start to detach from your own desires and, um, you know, you start to kind of become more of an observer of your life rather than just a subject of it, right? And you'll, you'll notice as, as you practice this kind of, at least when you start thinking this way or trying to practice this, you'll notice that the story, the center of your story that originally it was you, right? Originally it was about your career or your pain or your frustrations, your struggles. You know, what happened to you and everybody else was playing supporting roles in this movie about you. Yeah. And things like, for example, fatherhood, um, I'm, I'm now a father and that has totally changed the protagonist for me, right? In a lot of what I do, I am now the supporting character, sometimes on the villain unfortunately, but usually, usually I'm the supporting character, I'm the guy on the side, I'm, you know, maybe I'm the guide or maybe I'm, you know, the sidekick. Mm-hmm. But often, you know, I, I realize that my selfish and my ego wants to elevate my position to primary protagonist. And every time I do that, I start acting in ways that I really don't want to act in. I start saying things and doing things that are selfish and ultimately the long run, they don't work out very well for me. Yeah. I mean, I mean, I don't want to be a born relationship. They, you know, it, we don't have to go in all the specifics, but, um, that's not the way I want to live my life either, right? And, and I think that kind of falls right in line with that very simple concept of empathy. Mm-hmm. I remember the hardest transition for me was that one of going into parenthood. And it wasn't when, so my, so my name is rock. It wasn't when rock was a baby, that was really easy. It was when he started to develop into like an actual human and had opinions of his own. And I realized that he saw me at the same like distance that I saw my dad growing up, right? And he saw my dad at the same distance that I saw my grandfather. Yeah. Wow. Feeling, feeling replaceable made me not want to spend any time with him, which was a really horrible feeling. And I, I imagine that a lot of parents go through this, but it was, it was really, that was the first time that I had to kind of live with these feelings of, of death. And again, like being replaceable and knowing that, and I guess feeling for the first time that I am not the hero of this story that's taking place in the universe, I am just this tiny little moment on a tiny little part in a tiny little point in history. And I think what's I like finally grasped that like, like you said, all of those things just realizing like this, this whole thing goes on without me. And it went on for a really long time. I mean, we all know that, but really having to internalize that is, is difficult. And that was, I mean, I remember, that was the most depressed I think I've ever been. I just, I remember really feeling like my life was over. I was never going to be happy here. Feel joy again. I was just, I was just done at whatever 30 maybe. Yeah, I have had those exact feelings when my, when my son was first born, I remember. And this is probably the, some of the most vulnerable discussion that I think I've had on the show. But I remember nights where when I was putting him down, down for bed and he would cry. And I remember feeling like exactly that feeling. It's a very strong sense of anxiety. And for me, specifically, and I've talked about this on the show briefly before, but I have, sorry. For me specifically, then I've mentioned this on the show before, but I've dealt with health anxiety. And so if you've ever met somebody who deals with health anxiety, you may see this characterized in television shows as like hypochondria. But it's a very complex thing. And part of it is, is complex because of your own personal histories and some of it is complex because of the experiences that you have with friends and family. And at the time, I was convinced that, you know, me putting my son down, this was one of the last memories he's going to have with me. And I was convinced that my life was ending soon. And, and that was devastating, right? It's the same concept that, you know, none of this really is going to matter because all of the things that I've been building up in my ego and all the things that I think that I care about or that I'm waiting on or all of these things that we put up on pedestals, it's all crashing down around me right now. And that's, that is a extremely difficult feeling, but it's also one of the most enlightening feelings you can have. And I think for your experience as well, this idea that, you know, you finally realize that you are small and that you are not infinite, that you are mortal. Yeah. And realizing that you have an expiration date, you know, like as I start to get a little bit older and it's harder to lose a couple of pounds and my back hurts a little bit. And my brain isn't as sharp as it used to be. I can't learn things as fast as I used to. It's very frustrating, right? Oh, the worst. That's so frustrating. But I also start to see like there's some beauty in that and this is really kind of the progression. Like this is what was going to happen, right? It was never another route that could have happened. And we can either press against it and you know, push all of our energy against this thing that we're kind of putting the label of pain on or we can put a different label on it and stop pressing against it and start learning ways of accepting things that are other wise, difficult, right? Yeah, that's a, I mean, an incredibly hard skill to have because I think that our brains reject it, right? They're designed to avoid pain and it is, it's a really hard skill to do because you're really working against this thing in our skulls that wants us to always run away from pain and survive at all costs. And it's done a great job at that. If you're, you know, not our brains, but millions of years of brains that came before us, you know, they're all, they've done a really good job. And so we're suddenly telling them that they're wrong, you know, it's, yeah, it's antithetical to everything that we've learned. That's interesting that you mentioned health anxiety. I don't think I've ever heard that term before, but I strongly identify with that. I have had moments where, man, this is, this is a weird show you got here. I'm not really thinking about weird. We'll talk about react in a little while. It's fine. Yeah, I remember there was this one night, probably the worst that ever got for me. I remember Nelly had gone out, no, it's my wife, had gone out to spend some time with some, some girlfriends. And she was, you know, a little bit further away than normal and I had this, I don't know what happened. I mean, it was kind of in the midst of that kind of depression time that I was talking about. But I remember feeling so anxious about the fact that I was going to like die while watching a movie with my kids that I called my mother and asked her to come over and hang out with us for an hour. Like it was the weirdest, it was a very weird, like out of body experience because I am not the type of person who calls my mom to come watch a movie with me and my kids. I am way more capable than that. But yeah, I got, I guess just to identify with the thing that you've opened up about, I definitely felt that and I have a tremendous amount of empathy for people who are going through it right now because it is not fun. Yeah, for some people, and for me, for periods of my life, it has been all encompassing. You appoint that and for people who are not familiar with this feeling, imagine that you are convinced that you have a very rare disease. You have evidence even that you have this. Not just from WebMD, I mean, you have actual symptoms that you are experiencing and you seek reassurance from the people around you by asking them to validate that you are either you are crazy or that you don't have, indeed you don't have what you have. And as it turns out, this is terrible for you, unfortunately, to seek that reassurance, even though that is exactly what you feel like you need. And actually what you need is what we were talking about earlier, that moment of acceptance that you might end up being the unlucky person who does face that. You are not guaranteed anything and that is a difficult reality to come to terms with, especially when you are holding your couple of months old sun in your arms, right? That you can't, there is nothing you can do that can give you more certainty than the next person. And that is very difficult, but at the same time, it is freeing once you actually kind of dig into that reality, a little bit deeper, dig into the fact that certainty is not, it is not just you that can't have certainty. This is universal to everyone. No one knows. No one knows what is getting ready to happen. Yeah, and I think it is an area where, again, going back to religion, I think a lot of heaven or paradise based religions talk about, it kind of feels like you are supposed to just slog through and eventually you get the reward, which is this thing on the other side of life. But it feels like they are kind of a little empty in how I am supposed to translate my feelings and emotions about death right now. And I agree, like studying, kind of coming out of that phase in my life, like studying, studying some of the Buddhist philosophy and this, I, you know, very core to that is the idea of impermanence and coming to grit, the fact that you are not the hero of the show, you are this, you are just a moment in this kind of machine that just keeps going on and more thing in changing and what we have is this really beautiful moment to be alive and to experience in a really kind of cosmically almost impossible way. The, like, I don't even know. It's like it's that miracle of existing for that brief, that brief bet. Yeah. And there comes a point in life where you have to let go to fully enjoy it, which is one of the hardest transitions to make. And I think that so many of us don't. We just keep distracting ourselves. And it's, it's hard to watch sometimes, especially when you, you can see that pain that you've gone through in someone else. But it really is rewarding kind of coming through that other side and having the freedom to let other people's stories blossom in the way that yours has, yours has up to this point. And really just being open and receptive to this weird gift that we have. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I think we should be very clear because I feel like, you know, these conversations are so delicate, especially for people who are facing, you know, deep depression, anxiety and any of the other multitude of things that, you know, it doesn't even have to be deep depression. It could be just this constant latent sense that, you know, something's not quite right. And I want to make sure that I encourage people, you know, if you're in that position that number one, there's nothing, there's nothing bad about therapy. There's nothing. If it's stigmatized around the people that you are around, then I encourage you to look for more people to be around and to seek that kind of help that you need. And that can look different for everyone. I just don't want to let that go by that the idea that, you know, detaching does not mean that you no longer value yourself. There's a big difference there, right? Detaching from making yourself the important thing. Because it turns out one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to care for other people. This is actually like really good for your health. It's one of the most, you know, recommended and useful ways to help people who are dealing with depression is actually to go and volunteer, for example. This is like a common prescription for depression. But, you know, I'm not a therapist. Michael, I'm pretty sure you're not a therapist either. I'm definitely not a therapist. So everything that we say on this show has to be taken with that, you know, that bit of, hey, this is just our experience. But, yeah. Certainly encouraging people who face this stuff that this is not a not serious thing. And sometimes people, absolutely, the most important thing you can do is seek help. Yeah, I totally agree. And I have found really great help at various points in my life where I have been sadder than I wanted to be. And I mean, again, I don't struggle nearly as much as many other people. And but I still have days, weeks and months where I am kind of unconsolable. And I think we all need help. And it's kind of sad that we have lost this kind of idea of community. We've found ways to build up these fortresses around ourselves and kind of live almost completely on our own. And the only, you know, air quotes like community that we have is, you know, people who are like really angry on the internet about super pedantic things. And it's hard to find people that you can just live life with. And it's, you know, beyond just, you know, beyond opening up about what you're feeling and what you're thinking and these big transitions that you're going through. I mean, it can be hard just to find people that, you know, you want to spend more than a lunch with. And yeah. But it's, you know, it's such an important pursuit. And I think it's so important that, you know, a lot of times we put up those walls. And then we put walls behind the walls so much so that even our family, we put walls between us and our close friends that we otherwise would not have had walls. We still do that. And perhaps, you know, some of this is because we live, you know, we're overwhelmed with incoming information. Yeah. There's a study that recently came out that basically said that the overwhelming amount of information has essentially triggered our brains to only care about things that trigger fear or danger. Right. So we have so much incoming that we're kind of auto filtering all of the delightful things, for example, because that's not really important for our survival. So the stuff that's geared towards fear, it kind of is short circling, jumping over that filter mechanism that we otherwise may have. And now we're constantly being barrage by things that incite fear. And this can also be, absolutely, can be, you know, a contributor to the difficulty that you already face as a human being. But it can contribute to those difficulties with anxiety, depression, et cetera. Because if you're constantly being barrage with things that make you afraid, then why would you expect not to be afraid as you're kind of resting state, you know, it's really difficult. So I encourage, as a part of that, I encourage people to kind of, you know, consider your media diet in the same way that you hopefully you think about some of the things that you put into your body as important. You can also think about the things that you are consuming, information wise, and how much you're consuming, not simply because of the tone or the message of the thing, but also because you're spending your time and your time as, as we've said, it's expiring. It's, you know, it's, it's limited. Yeah. Today's episode is sponsored by Manifold. Managed cloud services save Developer Time and effort. It wouldn't really make sense for you to go and build your own logging platform, for example, or your own CMS or roll your, your own authentication API yourself when I manage tool or an API can solve that problem for you. But how do you find the right services to integrate? And then once you do find them, how can you stitch them all together? And how do you manage access to these various services and the credentials between multiple projects and multiple teams for that matter? Managing just these details alone is like a full-time job, much less on top of building those things. 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That's actually for the services in Manifold's marketplace, the various services we were talking about for things like messaging and monitoring. You can use $10 for free by heading over to slash devt on any of those services thanks again to Manifold for sponsoring Developer Tea. Well, I think we've dove into the super deep topics. So I think it's easy to listen to this podcast right now and think, how does this have anything to do with developers? And I do think that developers have a unique challenge with this for a couple of reasons. And maybe other people increasingly as time wears on, but developers were constantly connected to our devices more than the average person because we work on our devices. So we have a closer connection perhaps than the average person would. We also are able to and often do work in isolation. And so when we spend our days in isolation like this, those kinds of problems are less easy to kind of have checks and balances on, right? To your point, Michael. I think community is something that a lot of developers unfortunately are missing out on. So this, these issues are particularly important to the software development community, the web development community, whatever subsection of that that you want to choose. And in the past, also because a lot of that community was kind of cross section self-identified as anti social or introvert in the first place. So we have this long running history of loner developers. And this can be a way to gather people around this subject. I think it's really important that we address it as a community. Totally. And to add to that, I think we lift up or heroize, it's not a word, but we have these really high values for unhealthy behavior in the development community, working way too long, just crushing Red Bulls all day. I mean, maybe that's a way that's quite at one at this point. But I mean, caffeine, right? Caffeine in general. And there's a really, I think, pretty consistently, like a low value for exercise and kind of traditional in-person communication. And obviously, no one of these things in isolation is problematic. But I think compounded, they can, like you said, create this isolation in us and make us feel the opposite of, make us feel disconnected from people and the planet and nature and the food that we eat and all of those things that really do produce joy in you and excitement when you can be present and observe them. And yeah, I'd like to see that shift hopefully over the next handful of years that we can better reward good behavior in our industry. Yeah, and I think companies who promote work-life balance, that this, you're not off the hook on this one because it's not just about not working more than eight hours a day, right? It goes beyond that. I think for me personally, the thing that I've struggled to remind myself is that my mind is not separated from my body. My mental state is largely dependent on how I treat my body, right? How I treat my physical experience in the world. And so we can often as developers, I think because we have such mentally intensive work, we can totally forget that a lot of the kind of coexistence of our body and mind really matters and not like in a metaphysical way, in a very physical, real, tangible way, the way that you treat your body is going to have a major effect on the way that your mind works. Absolutely. I don't have anything to add, but I agree more. Well, so I think we should, now that we've covered all of our mental health check boxes for the remainder of the show, maybe. But I do want to kind of shift gears and talk with you about some of the work that you do and about your podcast, React podcast. And maybe talk a little bit about the upcoming changes that are happening in React and how people are responding to that. But first, I want to ask you, why do you do the work that you do? What got you here? And why do you care about it? It gives you purpose to work on this stuff. Oh, man, you're going to start with a deep one. I thought I was off the hook. I can't. Well, we're transitioning. We can't come right out of the water. We got to go to the shallow and first, right? Absolutely. So I'll try to make this story quick. But it's kind of, I mean, as all things, it's kind of rooted in a long history of story. But effectively, I, in 2010, 2011, maybe, I got laid off from my family business. I thought I was going to be doing that for forever as every good Asian child, first born Asian child does just take on the family business. But post economic collapse and what was it, 2008, I guess? Our business was just like it wasn't. It just disintegrated. And I was in a position where I had no marketable skills. I was really just kind of groomed to take over this business that didn't exist. And I couldn't really move anywhere. And I, while I was on unemployment, just remembered that I had this kind of one class that I took. And I kind of remembered how a function worked and kind of remembered how a for loop worked. And I thought, well, maybe I can get out there and just make a small amount of money, just something to survive on in this industry until I can kind of develop my skills. And yeah, so I started that. And that was a long journey and adventure all in its own, but as I have developed in my career, I can't escape that memory. Everything that I do every day feels like it's connected to that moment where I said, I'm going to try something different, even though it's totally outside of my skill set. And I have some reading disabilities that have kind of plagued me my entire life. I mean, even in high school, my mom was writing letters to my, I've said my mom more in this podcast than I've been all year. But my mom would write letters to my teacher as being like, hey, if it's possible to just extend a slight extra measure of grace, like he doesn't read very well. And in fact, I mean, I'm going to just just bear it all right now. My reading disabilities were so bad that my mom read all of my high school required reading to me. It was kind of embarrassing to admit. I mean, I definitely wouldn't have admitted that maybe even. But yeah, so learning things was particularly hard for me. And I knew just from my experiences that I was a slow learner. And I didn't do great in school because right about the time that I was starting to understand stuff, we would move on. And I would have a new thing that I was failing yet. And I just remember that feeling and how crushing it was because even though I knew I was not a dumb person, I felt that way. And I just don't want people to feel that way. And so I try really hard. I mean, I guess I don't try really hard at all. I want to put out stuff that would help me out when I was like further back in my career. And even if that makes me sound a little bit like dumb or uneducated now, I want to try to use simpler words and smaller sentences. And in the podcast, maybe break down a concept to a smaller, more digestible analogy than it is commonly accepted. These were all things that really helped me get a foothold in this industry. And I really value all of the materials that I was lucky enough to find from people who did the same thing. They were like, hey, this computer science stuff does not have to be complicated. You don't have to learn a whole lexicon of new words just to read a book. And that was invaluable for me. And if that hadn't existed, I wouldn't be where I am today doing the things that I'm doing, getting to meet the people that I get to meet. And I kind of feel a responsibility to pay it forward and just say, hey, you don't understand this thing now. That's fine. It's okay. And you have a friend here who's happy to talk about it in language that you understand today. And I love that stuff. I can never remember the comics name, but there's a book by the author. And I can't remember. I think he only uses maybe a thousand words or something and through the whole book. But then describes all of these very advanced principles. And it is a real inspiration to me. The idea, trying to take something that is complicated and map it to things that everybody understands and using words that are simpler and more friendly. And yeah, so it's kind of the backstory is I've had a hard time learning and I hope that I can help people not be afraid of learning new things by kind of making them a little bit simpler. So I think this is something that is done seldomly by developers and some of this is this base level where we start from. And this is something that I deal with at work at ClearBet. When we have discussions, if I'm talking with a developer that's been at the company for longer than I have, sometimes there are words that are used that they have like this kind of deeper meaning, some more context that I don't have. And as developers, it's easy to throw around words like whatever math thing that is popular for today's special algorithm. Right? Recently, there's what was the algorithmic? The one from the most recent Algebraic effects? There you go. That's a big react one right now. That's the one. And I don't know, I mean, I'm totally honest. I have no idea. I haven't gone and Googled that. I could go and Google it. I probably should go and Google it. But when somebody tries to talk to me about Algebraic effects, I'm faced with the decision to either expose my ignorance or just keep on acting. I don't have to act like I know what they're talking about, but I can just stay silent. And that's the easy thing to do. Just stay silent and then eventually you pick it up. And often that's actually what happens. Eventually you will pick it up. You'll either Google it or somebody will say something that explains whatever that thing is. But the problem is that we go on for long periods of time and those concepts are lost on us, not just us, but the people who are teaching it. They're not able to teach it thoroughly like they want to. So this thing emerges where you have a student and you have a teacher and the teacher thinks they're doing a good job and the student thinks they're doing a good job. But it's more complicated than it really should be. And who was it? I think it was Feynman, the Feynman technique. Oh, yeah, yeah. I love Feynman. It's excellent. If you haven't heard about the Feynman technique, Google it. Google's going to tell you a better story than I will. But long story short, Feynman, his whole concept was you need to be able to teach this thing. I believe it was like you need to be able to write it down on a single sheet of paper and teach it to a beginner, like a child beginner. And if you can't, then continue refining it and simplifying it until you can. Yeah, I think one of his quotes, and I'm going to butcher it, but it's something like until I can describe this to a first year student, I don't understand it. Yeah, that's exactly the concept. Yeah, and it's, you know, as you mentioned that, that moment that we, I think we all have where someone says something and that bell goes off and you're like, I have no idea what that means right now. The, like walking away and kind of like trying to figure out is something that we often do. But I have found that so many times you can, you know, depending on how your environment set up, but you can give a real gift to a lot of people to say, I don't think I understand like that concept. Could you, you know, give me a resource where I could learn more about it? Mm-hmm. Really opens up that group or whoever is watching to have that same level of honesty, because, you know, we have a tendency to think like everyone else has like this super power of them or just kind of hanging on, you know, white knuckled at our jobs. At least many have the work piece. And I think that that gives people the freedom to be like, oh, wow, like I thought that they were amazing at this. They're definitely further along than I am. And the fact that they don't understand that is super encouraging to me. And you know, maybe I'll actually say that next time I have that same question. And it can really foster a lot of goodwill, I think, for people who are maybe like, you know, a year or two years or five years behind where you're at as a developer today. Absolutely. And I think it's very important for people to understand that there are developers who have been doing this for 15, 20 years, not reacts specifically, of course, but who have been writing code for 15 or 20 years. And they still, they still write bad code. They still will find bugs in their code every day, just like you do. Things are still confusing. Stuff is hard. Like the stuff, it's complex. We were dealing with, you know, I did an episode on complexity and all the different factors that we deal with, the way the complexity grows, it grows so fast. And so for us to feel a sense of, you know, responsibility to somehow beat that complexity, that's not, that's not a realistic way. And we need to be softer and gentler with the people around us when they don't know something that we do know. And I think this is very important for senior developers, especially to expose that reality that we're all still learning something. One of my best friends does this better than anyone that I know. And it's so inviting and so warm. It's like if I could steal one thing from any of my co-workers, it would be this and I act tri, but it's so hard at times. Is whenever someone says, oh, I haven't seen that movie or actually, I'm not familiar with that, that concept or whatever it is, like admitting ignorance and something. He says, oh my gosh, I am so excited for you right now. I wish that I could see this or learn this or whatever for the first time. It's totally going to change your life. And that's so cool. Yeah. That's a great way to do that. It is. And I, it's so hard because we're, I think so many of us are so competitive, especially when it comes to our mental acumen, especially in an industry where, I mean, we're called knowledge workers or we prefer to us as that. And so the idea that you wouldn't know something is just kind of discrediting by its very nature. And I just, you know, I want to be someone who is, is able to be excited for people who are learning something for the first time because that is awesome. And I remember like all of the moments where I had a breakthrough and the light went off and it felt awesome and having someone to share that with just magnifies that for both of you. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And that idea of knowledge sharing is so key to co-workers. I do want to speak specifically to people who are responsible for like cultivating this, the managers and, you know, senior developer, senior people who are building teams and that kind of thing. This is something that you can't just like say once or put it in your documentation and then just expect it to happen. You have to like be so proactive about this for it to be a reality on your team that it almost gets old. Like make it a procedural part of every meeting you have to ask for people to raise their hands and share what they are confused about. And I would even recommend that you wait until somebody raises their hand. The odds, the odds that nobody is confused about anything are so slim in reality. And once you get those wheels greased basically, you know, once people feel comfortable doing that, you're going to clear up so much stuff and it's going to be so much more, just from a business level more efficient. But it's also going to be a safer psychological place for people to work. Yeah. You know, it's, I think it's sad that we have all of these conferences and I was talking about this on an episode of React podcast with Sunil and Pi that we have these conferences and instead of being an opportunity for people to admit their difficulties they've had admit their ignorance and kind of be humanized in a way. We just like raise these people up to these impossible standards, putting them on a pedestal and just kind of using that platform as just another kind of like another reason that there's so much different and so much better and so much superior and to than us. And yeah, the audience members. Yeah, there's like, we create this artificial gap and it's so sad because every one of us, I mean, if you look back, you know, at any one of your heroes, like at a certain point, they knew nothing, right? And they might have been making the same exact mistakes as you or worse. And it's this hero culture that we have. I'm not really sure why. I think it's, you know, it goes beyond web development too, but I just, man, I get excited when people really open up about the struggles that they have had because I think that that is what we really want to see. And yeah, we want heroes and want people to look up to, but I think also like we want some like camaraderie and solidarity and, you know, it's there. You just kind of have to look for it really hard. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. Thank you again to Michael Chan for joining me for this part one of our interview together. Make sure you subscribe and whatever podcasting app you're currently using if you don't want to miss out on part two. Thank you again to manifold for sponsoring today's episode for $10 worth of credit in the manifold marketplace. Head over to slash dev T that's slash dev T E a. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. I know we missed a couple of episodes. I was sick for a few and then we have the holidays that came up and we had planned a break, but we're back and we're going to continue publishing new content from now all the way through the new year. So if you don't want to miss out on that stuff, make sure you subscribe and whatever podcasting app that you use. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, enjoy your tea.