Developer Tea

Interview w/ Ben Orenstein (Part 1)

Episode Summary

You might remember today's guest back in episode 19 & 20. Today, we talk about new projects with the guest of the show, Ben Orenstein. During part 1 of this two-part episode, we dig into different opportunities in learning and I challenge you, while you're listening to this episode is to consider the lessons you've learned in 2018 and continue to grow in 2019.

Episode Notes

You might remember today's guest back in episode 19 & 20. Today, we talk about new projects with the guest of the show, Ben Orenstein. During part 1 of this two-part episode, we dig into different opportunities in learning and I challenge you, while you're listening to this episode is to consider the lessons you've learned in 2018 and continue to grow in 2019.

If you'd like to connect with Ben, you can find him on Twitter, @r00k: and view his work on GitHub, @r00k:

Thanks to today's sponsor: Manifold

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Episode Transcription

If you're a long time listener of Developer Tea, then you might remember today's guest. From a very early episode, in fact, episode number 19 and 20, I interviewed Ben Orenstein. Ben is one of my personal inspirations over the years, in particular as a Ruby developer, as well as a craftsman, somebody who cares about his tooling, and Ben has gone on from where he was back in 2015. And now he is kind of venturing out and doing his own projects. We talk more about that in today's episode. By the way, happy New Year's Eve, and for those of you who don't listen to this on New Year's Eve, whatever day you do download this episode, welcome to 2019, I hope that your 2018 was productive and rewarding, and that you were able to connect with your career purpose in 2018. And then I also hope that as you look forward into 2019, that you are thankful for the things that happened in 2018, both good and bad, and that you treat everything both in 2018 and the future experiences that you have as opportunities for learning. This is hard to do sometimes, it's difficult to look back on painful experiences and try to draw out a lesson from them, but that is the kind of the best scenario, the best case scenario, if we can look back and draw out some kind of learning from our painful experiences. So I hope for everyone who's listening to this as you move into 2019, that you continue to grow both in your personal life and on that end of the spectrum, all the way to the other end of the spectrum, in your professional life, in your career. I hope that all of those things kind of continue to grow for the people who listen to this show. I truly want the best for you, and that's why I continue to record these episodes to hopefully provide some new perspective, some insight that you haven't heard before. And today's episode is hopefully no exception. So let's get into the episode with Ben Orenstein. Ben, welcome to the show. Thanks a lot, glad to be here. So this is your second time actually being on Developer Teaway back in the day. I had to go and look it up. I think it was, you know, episode 15 or something that you were on. Oh, well. Yeah, it's been a while and a lot has changed for you since then. I believe you were at Thoughtbot when we talked last. And we're going to get into some of that stuff. But first, I want to start out by asking you a question that I don't know if I asked you in the first episode or not that we did together, but the question is really simple. And hopefully it kind of drives some of our conversation. What do you wish more people would ask you about? Hmm, that's interesting. I think one of my favorite things to talk about that doesn't come up that often is the fact that I do multiple things in my life that are that people tend to look at and assume it is a talent-based skill that's affected greatly by your innate abilities. That is in fact a practice-based skill where the results are coming from a long years of repetitions on that thing. And I can tell you what those things are. So the two big ones that stand out for me are one is programming where people that are, I noticed this happens less with people that are actually developers, but it's very common for people that are less technical. When I tell them what I do for a living, they're like, oh, I could never do that. And it's like, well, actually, yes, you could. If you had to, you could. If it meant your family would die, if you didn't, you would figure it out. It's just hard. And so if you start, if you do it kind of casually or look at it lightly, you might assume that it's too hard for you or that there's some magical innate programming ability thing. But I don't really think that's the case. And the other is music. So I sing. And that is even more susceptible to this phenomenon where people will just constantly tell me like, I sing it like, oh, I could never do that. And I'm like, well, what do you mean? And I'll have a terrible voice. And I'll be like, well, how many voice lessons have you had? Oh, well, none. Okay. Well, has anyone ever tried to teach you how to sing? Well, no. Okay. Well, I bet you also suck it pretty much everything else that shares those traits. Anything, anything at all that you can imagine practicing at if you haven't practiced at all. Then yeah, you're probably you're not going to be very good at it, right? Totally. And it's beyond that. We're like, I think most people are kind of willing to accept that, that position. Like, okay, yeah, there are probably things that you get better at if you practice. But there's something about certain skills or certain fields and programming and singing seem to be two of them, at least, where people just assume it's like, it's a thing where you've got it or you don't. And so, you know, if you just, and you can know if you don't have it from the outside. Yeah, it's like a some kind of mystical, special element of, you know, DNA or something, right? Oddly enough, we often on the flip side, in areas where we probably should attribute a little bit more to DNA. Like, for example, some people going to the gym and working out are just going to have different results than you will, right? There's like this, this interesting dichotomy that we've assigned some things that label of attainable given enough work, right? If you, if you, you know, really focus on it, then you can be just as, you know, cut as X movie star, right? But then on the flip side, these other, and I'm not really sure what the line is, you know, what is the, what is the bucketing? Why do we do that? I wonder if the fitness one is because it's so profitable to convince people that these results are a jabble for everyone. Yeah, because there's not really a bunch of voice lesson schools on every corner. That's right. Of every city, right? Yeah. And like, if you show someone a picture of a set of abs, everyone can kind of say, like, oh, yeah, like I could, like, I could figure out how to get that or something or like they can imagine themselves doing it, I think. Yeah. Yeah. That's, yeah, it's worth a lot of money if you can convince them of that. Yeah. That's, that's a very interesting dichotomy. I think, you know, it's, it is interesting that you mentioned that developers kind of understand that the quality of, yeah, it doesn't really, it's not really about talent. It's about spending time with this stuff and practicing and doing, you know, kind of deliberate practice learning, you know, what are the contours of this given language or whatever the thing is that you're trying to learn rather than somehow you were born with a natural ability to understand data structures, right? It's, that's not really, it's not really built in. Yeah. I think it's, this is a thing that I think people, it's a conclusion they come to after they have spent some time with it. Like, I think once you demystify it a little bit by like working really hard at it for a little while, you start to realize that like the, the people at the upper end of the field skill wise are mostly just more experienced. And like, yeah, there's a little bit of like mental raw mental horsepower that will act as a kind of multiplier, I think. But yeah, I feel like the more that I learn and the more that I see, it's, it's like the best developers, the ones that I admire the most are not particularly like brilliant individuals. They're not like, they're on the smarter side of the median, I would say, but it's not like they're just like ungodly intelligent. It's more like they have really great habits and they've learned really great things from other really great programmers over the years. Yeah. And I'm kind of delineating in my mind right now. Some of the people that I would say are truly, you know, uniquely gifted mentally, people like Donald Nooth, right? This is a giant in the field. And if you read some of the art of computer programming, you're going to hopefully come away. For me, I came away humbled. Right. It felt, I felt so, I felt like I was approaching the craft with a big jackhammer. And he approaches it with a whole, you know, closet full of fine tools. And this, this is just such a different, a different way of thinking about computing. And of course, we're in totally different fields. Donald Nooth, if anybody's not familiar is more of like a theoretical computation, you know, super master. He's kind of one of the industry's godfathers in a way. He's responsible for a lot of thought on algorithms and that kind of stuff. But Donald Nooth also isn't writing software on a day to day basis for, for money, right? That's not, that's not what his job is. He's a professor. And these are totally different things. And I think in, in programming, in software development, whether you're a web developer, back in developer, whatever, that we conflate the ideas of anybody who touches code, we kind of put them into a singular column, right? And that's just not a realistic picture of an industry. And these industries, one that has now kind of spread out and now is no longer a single industry, but is actually spreading into multiple industries. Totally. And I think I'm going to bring it back to music for a second, because I think it provides a useful visual where if you, if you are like, we can even stay in computer science. If you want to be, if you want to publish the art of computer programming, and have like, publish a work that changes your field, yeah, you probably need some amount of natural ability. Like for you to be in the top 0.01 percent of something, you probably need a bit of a head start mentally. And like, if you want to sell out a stadium as like an incredible operatic tenor, you probably need like, to have your skull be the right shape and like vocal chords that have the right shape. And so you need a little bit of an advantage there. But for most people, like we just want to have a good job and a good life. And like the, you don't need to achieve at that level. And but that's who gets all the attention. And so you think, well, I could never do that. And like, yeah, you're right, you're probably couldn't, but do you really need to? Right. There's there's a absolutely excellent article that even a step further down, you know, right now we're kind of talking about achieving, becoming really good at something good enough that you can be professional at it. But this article was talking about the kind of the pray, the impraise of mediocre, I believe was the name of the article. And the whole point of it was that we've lost this ability, culturally speaking, to appreciate our very simple abilities. So like the weekend warrior basketball player in the 90s, this was something that could have been, you know, I'm not glorifying, you know, the 90s by any means. But at some period in time, there was, there was a sense of okness with just being good enough to enjoy something, right? You don't have to best cook to make a good meal. You don't have to be the best basketball player to go and get some exercise playing basketball and enjoy yourself in the process. And instead, what we've done in a lot of arenas is instead of being able to pursue hobbies for the sake of, you know, kind of a loser, we've turned them into these kind of pseudo professional endeavors where we're trying really good, even though it's never going to be a part of what makes a living for us, right? There's not really a reason to become good at it. Yeah, I like that a lot. I think that's that that rings very true. I like, I keep bringing it back to music, but people used to sing like socially, like back in the 30s, for example, like it was a social activity to come over and stand around the piano and everyone would just sing. And no one was professional quality, but that wasn't the point. It was you're doing it for fun and you would enjoy it. And you weren't comparing yourself to like you top YouTube phenoms that you happen to run into. Right. We actually, my wife and I visited Ireland. I guess this was three or four years ago now. And there were many, many occasions when you would walk into a pub in Ireland. I encourage anybody who hasn't never gone to go and check this out. It's so much fun. Walk into a pub and people are just sitting around with instruments and they're playing music. Exactly like what you're saying. And it's like this, this sense of, you know, instead of everybody minding their own business and just talking at the bar or whatever, you have a community there. And it may even be ad hoc like people are coming in from other cities or tourists or walking in the door like we did, but everybody's joining in and this kind of, you know, it's more of like a momentary enjoyment than it is, you know, nobody's recording this. Nobody is trying to make money off of it. The bar doesn't even really care whether it's happening or not. And they just, they just hosted. It's just kind of there. Yeah. I love it. I think the appreciation for doing things as an as an amateur has perhaps waned a bit and we could we could rekindle that. I think that would be good for the world. I think so too. And I think that even for amateur developers, sometimes there's, you know, there are people who listen to this show right now who you enjoy being an amateur developer and you have another job maybe. And you don't really need to go any further than that. Like that's okay. Nobody should be pressuring you to, you know, turn this into your career just because you have enough talent that you could, right? That's not a reason to choose a career by any means. Totally. Yeah. I agree. Well, Ben, I want to talk to you about the changes that you've gone through over the past couple of years, starting, I guess, back in 2015 or so. I can't remember exactly when it was that you chose that you decided to kind of strike out on your own. Or you know, to blaze your own path, I guess. Do you want to tell that story? Sure. Yeah. So this actually started back in early 2017, I believe it was. Okay. Okay. I'm not mistaken. But, you know, the, who doesn't really matter a few years ago. So I was working at Thoughtbot and Thoughtbot was like an amazing job. It was as far as jobs go about as good as it could get, particularly in the, like the latest implementation of it for me, which was I was running a number of Thoughtbot's SaaS products. We had a number of small SaaS companies that we had launched. And I was basically like the product manager slash mini CEO of those tiny business units and really enjoyed that. But it had been like six years that I had been a Thoughtbot. And I was just, I have this thing in me where I kind of need to blow everything up every 18 months or so. Or like, I need, I just need to make, I need to have enough challenge happening, enough noon is happening pretty regularly. And I had done that a few times. I kind of reinvented my job at Thoughtbot several times and they were like amazingly cool about that. But I reached this point where I had been there for a while and I kind of couldn't picture the next thing that I wanted to do in, like within the auspices of Thoughtbot. And so I kind of turned it over in my head for a while and then eventually decided that I was, I was going to leave. And I didn't know what I was going to do. And I decided I'd rather leave and figure it out than figure it out and then leave because it was just, it felt like time. And so I quit. And that sort of started like phase one. And the first thing I did was I decided to make a course for people. So I built like an info product, which is about refactoring mature Rails applications, which is more or less taking a lot of the stuff I had learned to Thoughtbot over the years and turn it into a video course. And this was, it worked pretty well as far as like a commercial success. Like I launched it and the sales were good and people liked the course and I could see how I could make another one and it would probably, you know, be similar. But the lifestyle was not what I was into. Like I was working solo, which was never like my favorite thing. But I really did not like it. Like I'm very much a team person. I'm very extroverted. And so I was doing solo stuff because I wanted to just like get out and figure it out. But that was never like, I never would have picked it. I never would have said, yeah, that's what I want to do. That's how I want to live my days. So I was feeling kind of down. And so I kind of, I was a little directionless for a little bit. And I very briefly took another job just because I was like, well, I can't figure out quite what I want to do. So let me get a little income and get some social time. But I knew that I've thought for a long time. Like, I feel like my eventual destiny is running a software company. And that was partly why I was so interested in doing that at the top of it, because I've been sort of trying to orient my career in that direction for such a long time and like learn the skills I needed to learn. But I never had the like confluence of the right idea and also people to do it with. And finally that actually happened back in May of this year. So I was working this job. Yeah. And so I was working this job and not really into it again. But I had a friend who I had known for years and we used to get together and talk about business ideas because he created startup, sold that startup to a larger company and was like feeling similarly not inspired. And after enough of those sessions like maybe this, maybe that, maybe this, we kind of came across an idea that we both liked and felt exciting enough that we're like, maybe this is the one and eventually it ended up being one. If you have a project of any sufficient size, then you are almost certainly using managed cloud services. These save you time and effort because it doesn't really make sense for you to go and build your own logging platform or your own authentication service and protocol. These are things that you shouldn't be focusing on. You need to be focusing on your product. But how do you find the right services, the right cloud managed services to integrate and then how do you learn how stitch them all together? Finally, how do you manage access and credentials between multiple projects and even multiple teams managing these details alone and making these decisions? I can feel like a full-time job on its own. Manifold makes your life easier in this regard by providing a single workflow to organize your services, connect your integrations and share it with your team. Now on top of this, it's going to help you find the right services in the Manifold marketplace or if you have a custom integration that you just don't want to let go of, well, you can bring that too. You can manage it all in one dashboard. Now the best part of this is that Manifold is free. It's free to use. Go to slash devt and they're going to give you $10 worth of credit to use on the services that Manifold allows you to coordinate through their system. Head over to slash devt. That's the EVTAA, you'll get $10 worth of credit to use on any service on the Manifold marketplace. Thank you again to Manifold for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. So I have a lot of questions about this journey. First of all, what advice would you give to people who are kind of facing a similar feeling of, I really want to do something different. I'm not really happy with where I am, but I also am a little bit intrepidated by leaving without a plan. What do you recommend to people? Because I know that you said you jumped and learned how to fly. What do you recommend for developers who are similar predicaments? I don't know that I should offer advice on this. I don't know that I would lift the level of my experience to recommend advice. I've figured out what works for me, which is I enjoy a little bit of that chaos and figuring it out on the fly. I prefer it to working a job I don't like or feeling like I'm not growing, chafes me. I find it very mentally draining and I really don't like it. The cost of staying to me is pretty high. The cost of chaos, I'm single, and over the years I had saved a lot of money. I wasn't worrying about cash at the time. I had a pretty good mentally and financially, I was in a pretty good place to do what I did. I would hesitate to recommend the same path because I don't know how other people are wired or what their situations are. It wouldn't be feasible for lots of folks I assume. Yeah, I think that's interesting that you pointed out a few things that people don't necessarily intuitively assume, that you are completely cash secure. That makes you in a different category than say the average person who's not making as much as they want to make and they want to leave for that specific reason, for example. There's a couple of interesting things that you mentioned here. One is that being in a cash secure position that certainly changes your mindset about where where you should be. For me personally, it would be really tough. I have a wife and I have a son and for me to leave without being cash secure would be terrifying. But at the same time, you're also mentioning this other piece of the puzzle, which is the cost of staying and the pain that it causes. Not necessarily because you don't like the people or because the job is bad per say, but because for whatever reason, you're unsettled there. That's a really important thing to try to evaluate. Totally. I actually, I feel like there are actually a number of people. I feel like my willingness to make a change when I want my life to be different is pretty high. I feel like I think maybe I would elevate this a little bit towards advice, which is maybe see if you can just increase your willingness a little bit. Maybe it's not like blow up your job and go out not knowing what you're even going to do. But I have a lot of, I have some friends who will tell me about how crappy their job is. And I'm like, you're a developer. The market for your skills is crazy. If you're not happy with what's going on, I think you are crazy to not at least investigate and see if you can find something better. Yeah. I mean, there are so many and the jobs are still growing. It is certainly an open field. I think another piece of the puzzle that I think is important that I'm interested to know how you dealt with this concept is like a contingency. If this fails, then what happens? In the worst case scenario, there's some ideas from, even from stoic literature, for example, of kind of meditating on the bad, meditating on the possible pain that you might experience and taking some time to decide, like, is it worth it to do that? And this concept is really powerful to me. For me, it actually helped me when I decided to leave my previous job. The worst case scenario for me was that I would end up living with my parents again or something like that. I don't know what I had decided was the worst case scenario. But that was acceptable to me. And I decided then that this is not go bankrupt and end up in jail. That's not the pain that I would experience in the worst case. In the worst case, I'm going to have a new platform to start from, a new perspective to start from. And I will be able to recover from this, no matter what. Yeah, totally. I think enumerating the worst case scenario is really useful. Because a lot of times, your fear is kind of generalized. I can't leave. Why? Because it's scary. Okay, why? And if sometimes when you dig down into that, why? It's actually not that scary. Yeah. Or there's something that you haven't dealt with. And that's actually, that was the case for me. I had a lot of really close and still do a lot of close personal relationships at my previous position. And dealing with moving into a new position away from those close relationships, I had a lot of strife over that. And dealing with the possibility that this might hurt relationships, that was the thing internally that I hadn't really dealt with. And it wasn't really about fear. It was more about deciding how to approach it. And once I had done that, the rest of the kind of fell into place. Yeah, I like that a lot. Working through stuff that you need to work through is huge. That's why therapy is so good. It is. And in fact, this is something I've been going to therapy this past year. I plan on going next year. Nice to be with you. Certainly something that I recommend for pretty much everybody, honestly. Yeah. When I started this company, I actually preemptively got a therapist and started going, even though it wasn't stressful at the time, I was like, I'm sure it's going to get stressful. And so it'd be nice to have this relationship already established. Yeah. It's actually something that my therapist told me. He said, you know, it's best to come to therapy when you're healthy. And I thought that was a really interesting point. He said, yeah, it's really good because you establish the correct way. Like, you could have the picture of mental health, but actually have some wrong patterns, some wrong ways of approaching things, wrong ways of coping. And then when something happens, then all of the facade of the good health that you had just falls apart. So now you're left with this really frustrating situation where you thought everything was great and suddenly it's bad. Right. Yeah. Like you don't you don't want to refactor when you're under a huge load of traffic. Right. And you know what? That that that that query that you have sitting there that is doing okay with the hundred users that you have on day one is probably not so great with a hundred thousand users. Totally. There's something I want to come back to for a second, which is I think worth mentioning, which is I was able like the biggest enabling factor of me being able to take this go on this adventure. And then later start the company that I did is that I had been pretty diligent about putting away money. And it's I realized this is like kind of a privileged privileged position and not everyone can do it. But if you are a especially if you're like a single person like you don't have a family to support and you are have a reasonably good developer salary, there's so much slack in your finances. Like it's it's it's so easy to not put away money. That's the default. That's totally and it's very reasonable and I did and I did that for a long time. That was my default. And then I just kind of started like trying to get a little bit better at it with each like month and year and educate myself and all that. And I just built a handful of habits that over time led to like this decent nest take that let me go do this. And so I would implore people if you're in the situation, if you're especially like you're a little bit on the younger side and you're not used to a super inflated lifestyle and you don't have people to support and you're making a developer salary, you can put away a decent amount of money. And when I was doing it, I didn't know what I was going to use it for. Like it wasn't in my like this is for X fund. It was just like someday I'm going to be really glad I have this. And it turns out I was so right because like being able to like bootstrap my company right now is wonderful and I'm really glad I'm able to do that. So let's take a few minutes then and I want to trade advice here with you a bag of forth. And I'll say some of the things that I've done to help me do exactly that. I think developers actually need to hear this because you're right. And here's this is a unique thing about developers. Developers generally speaking, you know coming out of school, especially if you're going to one of the big tech companies, you are suddenly faced with a pretty big paycheck. Like it's and typically it's pretty young, you know, young Developer That end up with these relatively large paychecks. And sometimes, and I would say perhaps even often, you are outpacing what you even your own parents made at the height of their careers, right? Sure. So and that's that's just kind of a reality that that software developers are facing. And it's a it can be a good thing. It can also be a really crippling thing for a couple of reasons. But the the important thing to notice here is that you don't have the many years of, you know, financial experience. I will say, I wouldn't even call it wisdom, but just experience that someone who typically is making the salary that you're making at, let's say 25 years old, they're making it at 45 years old, right? So they have this 20 year gap. Now, that's not to say that you can't learn how to deal with money when you're 25 years old, but it is to say that a lot of 25 year olds don't do that. They don't go and learn how to how to deal with money. Because a lot of your life expenses, for example, your health is generally going to be good when you're 25. Again, we're making broad assumptions here on the show. So I apologize to anybody who this is not true for. But your health is relatively good. If you're single, then you're not really supporting a lot of, you know, dependents, for example. And so you have a lot of potentially a lot of disposable income. And it's easy to do a lot of dumb things with that, right? Just humans do really dumb things sometimes. So I personally, was lucky enough to, you know, stumble on, first of all, I have a little bit of a, like a compulsion to protect my money. It's part of my personality. And some people have that, some people don't. But I was, you know, lucky enough that I stumbled on some financial resources early on and realized that, hey, you know what, the most important thing I can do, and this is my first tip. And then I'll turn over the floor to you, Ben. But my first tip was, or is to, you know, set up some kind of automatic saving. It's, that seems so dumb and simple. But any kind of automatic saving, it can literally be, you know, a hundred dollars out of your paycheck, every time you get a paycheck, put it off into an account that's really hard for you to access. And that's it. And if that's the only thing that you do, you're going to be actually pretty far ahead from the average person any year or two. Yeah, that's, that's funny because that's my tip to, that of all the things that I did over the years, that made the biggest difference. It's making it, yeah, it's making it automatic. It's making it so that it's opt out or that you would have to like, do additional steps to fail that goal. That is what pushes it over the edge. Like no matter, it didn't matter like when I set savings goals and like kind of obsessed with what was going in and what was coming out, that had a way less impact than like literally just setting it up. I did it with direct deposit. So it was even more annoying to undo. Like I would have employers, like you've just submit a written form that says like, please deposit 10% of each paycheck into this account or something. Yeah. So it was annoying to change. And so I just, I made, I wanted it to be annoying. And it was, that was just like what that steady drip. It was just like, oh, like I, it's like just as you, like humans are amazing adaptation machines. So if you go from being a poor college student to suddenly making $10,000 a month, you will be used to $10,000 a month in two months. So fast. It goes by so fast. Like it'll take almost no time at all. And then, so like, that hurts you that that adaptation kind of hurts you because it makes your default to not save because it what used to feel like a ton does not anymore. But you can take advantage of that in the reverse direction where if you say, actually, JK, I'm going to put $2,000 a month in a savings account automatically. And suddenly your disposable income goes from 10 to 8. And like that takes like two months to get used to. And then you're used to that too. Like we're just good at adapting to whatever the current situation is. So like use that to your advantage and adapt ahead of time. So that would be my, my next piece is you don't try to adapt after the fact because what you'll end up doing is you'll adapt your lifestyle by, for example, and this is something I wouldn't recommend. But taking on, you know, big vehicle debts or something like that. And you extend, you extend everything out to where everything kind of meets your budget right at its limit. And then you try to cut into that budget with savings. Right. And you know, your position where, well crap, like, do I sell that vehicle? And then you're going to take a loss on the cell. And there's just a lot of reasons to, you know, anytime, for example, you know, throughout your career, you will hopefully assuming that you're working for a good, a good company. You're probably going to get a raise. When you get that raise, decide then like decide upfront. How much of this do I want to use to increase my quality of life today? And how much of this do I want to save for later? That seems like such a simple thing to do. But as it turns out, it's hugely important. Yeah. Couldn't agree more. I like this so much. And you sort of touched on this. But this, if you, when you do that, then you're avoiding like the, the really pernicious of force here, which is lifestyle inflation, which is like when you're like most of us were probably like if you think about to a time you're really happy in your youth, like in college or high school or something or I can think of for me personally, I really enjoyed college. I had a great time. I was totally happy. I think I made like $8,000 a year or like a few years after school. I mean, I remember being like, I was making like $32,000 a year and was like, this is great. I have great friends. I'm having a good time. I felt like I was living fairly lavishly, honestly. And then like a few years later, I'm making three times that or and it's like, oh yeah. And like this is, this is also great. I feel the same amount happy. But now I'm used to things where it's like, oh, like why would never like do my own laundry now? I can just do wash right fold and someone else will do it. And that just becomes like, oh, I need this. This is this is now an essential expense because I'm, I'm used to this, this feeling of laziness or convenience or comfort or whatever. Yeah. Or like, yeah. Oh, now I'm the kind of person that should have a car that is this a certain amount of nice. And I should, I should care what people think about that and what I think and all that. And it's just so easy to let that creep into your life. Yeah. And it's much harder to eliminate it, you know, once you've especially because there are sometimes when you've actually made commitments, like you've actually gone and bought that car. And even even if you could eliminated, man, it's still is, it's going to be a much more of a headache to eliminate it after the fact than it would have been, you know, to say no upfront. Mm-hmm. Totally. Yeah. So if you can find some friends that like are not developers or like that have like less, they can less money, that's, I think that's a good influence. Like, that's a good way to do it. And then like, they're like, those sort of keep you in line. They're like, oh, should we do this thing? I'm like, oh, that's expensive. You're like, oh, yeah, that is. Yeah. Sorry. Yeah. Let's not do that. Adjust your perception. That's actually one of the benefits of being a remote developer. A lot of my friends and a lot of the Developer That are around where I live are not paid the same that, you know, a developer in Silicon Valley might be. And so now you don't have that same, you know, status kind of war. Yeah. Or at least comparison, you know, habit. Totally. Yeah. I like that a lot. Okay. So, and maybe a couple of last really small tips there. One of the things that my wife and I did really early on is we really focused hard on paying down our debts. And I don't believe that this is the best, you know, mathematically speaking, the best decision to make. But for us, psychologically speaking, it had a profound effect. So we know that we have, you know, a very small list of debts. The house is pretty much the main debt that we have. And so because we were so, you know, focused on that, you know, now we don't have the kind of the barrage of snail mail coming in reminding us just how much of our money has to go out. So that's really, at least from a psychological perspective, has been really profound for us. Yeah. I like that a lot. Do you want my like 40-second spiel on investing? Sure. Yeah. I love your ears. Look quick and dirty. I mean, educate yourselves and all like this is of all the advice you take on the internet, like investing advice is probably the worst thing to listen to. But here's here's my version and then like go go see if this matches with you. Max out your 401k match with your employer. That's pretty essential. Try not to put your long-term investments in anything that's like a managed mutual fund. That's all garbage. The only thing that's worth putting your money in is Vanguard funds. They're by far the cheapest. They have the lowest expenses. Expenses matter. The more than almost anything, no fund manager can pick stocks. No fund manager can pick bonds. Everything in that industry is bullshit. Stay away from financial advisors that make money based on a percentage of funds that you have invested with them. There you go. So yeah, most of the most of the services, kind of the on-demand 401k services, if you're working for a startup, a lot of these are using something like Vanguard in the back office. Really for their benefit as well as yours because for them, they aren't having to pay those management fees. Really, what you're paying for with those is convenience. And your company is likely going to be paying the fee for that anyway. So most people, luckily, you can kind of trust the 401k that your company offers. And I agreed a hundred percent that maxing out your 401k and then really seeking at least, I would say seeks some advice from a financial advisor. Once or twice, you don't really have to go Gung Ho and go talk to a financial advisor all the time. It's not the same thing as therapy. Right. So you can probably set up a long-term plan with a financial advisor and pretty much be set. And very little is going to change about that. The most important thing is exactly what we said at the beginning of this discussion about money, which is set it up automatically and then don't touch it. Try your best to act like that money isn't even yours yet because that's kind of the key to that long-term growth that makes investing actually worth your money. Yeah. I would push back a little bit on one of the things you said, which is I've worked for good employers who had crappy 401k's. Sometimes it just happens because good 401k's can often be expensive. And so normally, if you have a company that doesn't have a ton of money, they want to offer a 401k for their employees, but they don't want to spend a ton of cash. And so the way the 401k plan makes this money is by pushing you into funds that have really high fees. So just watch out for that. The fees matter. They matter a lot. And then also on the go ahead. I was going to ask you what do you do in that scenario? Is there a way to pick the funds better or how can you address it? Your host. The only thing you can do that I'm aware of is to talk to your company and be like, yo, these funds suck can we get better funds? Because often it has the amount you have under management grows. Like if you add employees, if people save more, you get access to better funds. So the best thing to do is just make no noise that I'm aware of. Also might be able to do something fancy with a self-directed IRA, but I never dug into that enough to really know. Yeah. Okay. That makes sense. And so, but the important thing in that is to really just to know where your money is going. Know what your what those expenses are. I would still say even if you are, even if you have a crappy 401k, it's probably still the best place to put your money, although it's still it's suboptimal. Right. But out of all of your investment options, it's the only one that's that's sheltered from tax and all of that stuff. This isn't a financial show. Yeah. We have a deep harmony. Should we give it something else you had that you were that you were going to say though? Yeah. One one last thing on this, which is like there are also financial advisors who are paid not by you, but by they get a cut for what they have you invest in. And those people are not your friends. Like you are the product in that situation. Like you want a financial advisor that you pay every time you see them a certain amount. And then they they don't make a cut up based on what they recommend to you. Yeah. Yeah. Treat it more like a therapist than then a you know somebody who has invested interest basically in where you put your money. That that would be yeah. So, so don't go to somebody for free. It's actually is not that advice. Thanks so much for listening to today's episode and thank you again to manifold for sponsoring today's episode. You can get $10 worth of credit in the manifold marketplace. Head over to slash devt. It's slash dvtea. I want to tell you about something that we're doing in 2019. We're calling them Developer Tea.t. break challenges. These are very simple straightforward messages that I have written over the course of the past couple of months. And there's going to be one every single day. Now we're going to start it out very simple. And you can learn about you know the the future offerings of the Developer Tea. challenge. We're hopefully going to expand it as it grows over the next couple of months. But we're going to start out very simple platform that most of you probably use Twitter. And we're also going to be cross posting over on the spectrum community We'll be cross posting each of these these t. break challenges. They are very short. They're actionable. And hopefully they will help you as you continue to grow in your career throughout the year of 2019. There should be a new one ready every day. Now this is an experiment. So hopefully this will go as planned. Hopefully people will catch on that it'll be helpful and will continue doing it throughout the year. But of course we have to treat it like an experiment. I'm not going to pour a bunch of time and energy into something that isn't actually helpful. So I encourage you to follow Developer Teaat Developer Teaon Twitter and go and check out You can find the Developer Teacommunity there. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. And until next time, enjoy your tea.