Software Developers Journey Podcast

#111 Sam Julien from financial adviser to developer advocate


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Sam Julien 0:00
My one saving grace was that because I started doing philosophy courses, I took a Symbolic Logic class. And that ended up actually kind of kick starting a lot of that logical thinking that ended up becoming useful later on. And some of the other skills that I developed in college of academic research and writing papers and things like that actually ended up coming back around and being very helpful in learning really complex programming concepts and trying to teach them to other people and things like that. So definitely a silver lining. I mean, it definitely all kind of worked out in the end. You know, I've been trying to teach myself various computer science concepts over the years, and I sure wish I had just done it in a classroom in my 20s. But, but, you know, back then, I didn't know that there was such a thing as a self taught developer.

Tim Bourguignon 0:51
Hello, and welcome to developer's journey, the podcast, bringing you the making off stories of successful software developers to help you Your upcoming journey. My name is Tim Bourguignon, and today I receive Sam Julien. Sam builds software, articles, video courses, and campfires. He's a developer, speaker, writer, a Google Developer expert for Angular, and above all, a passionate teacher, Sam, welcome to DevJourney.

Sam Julien 1:19
Thank you so much. I'm thrilled to be here,

Tim Bourguignon 1:21
Sam, the show exists to help the listeners understand what's your story look like and imagine how to shape their own future. So let's go back to your beginnings, shall we? Where would you place the start of your journey?

Sam Julien 1:36
So for me, that start goes back probably to when I was in about seventh grade, maybe maybe even a little earlier than that. I used to play around on old Mac computers, and they were all hand me downs from various family members. And as I messed around with that when I was you know, 1011 years old. I started Did you get this desire to learn how to make things on them? And so all that we had available was the library. So I started checking out books and that we're all you know, way over an 11 year olds head. So that kind of got me started. And then I had a cousin, that was an engineer. And he told me about HTML. And that kind of started me on learning about coding and web design and things like that. So as a 12 year old, I was doing a bunch of rudimentary HTML. I don't even think I got to CSS at that point. And back then, you know, it was all a view source and copy paste, and I didn't know what I was doing at all, but it was enough to get me get to whet my appetite and to get me really interested in it. So yeah, so that's, that's how I kind of got started. But I then had a very long gap between that phase and when I actually became a quote, you know, professional developer, I did a lot of side, you know, just like kind of learning on the side for a long time. But when I got to college, I, I thought I wanted to do computer science, but it didn't turn out to be what I hoped for. And so it was many years later that I ended up actually becoming a professional developer. That means you dropped your CS degree and did something else or, yeah, yeah. So what happened was, as as many listeners probably know, is that the computer science degree, it had a lot of math early on, and I wasn't enjoying it. I wasn't particularly good at it. I mean, I was fine. But I was sitting in calc two and about to sign up for differential equations. And I was just thinking, all I wanted to do was learn how to program I didn't, I didn't Want to do all this math and everything. And that's probably the biggest regret I have is that I, I gave up on that path because I thought that I couldn't see the forest for the trees. I was too bogged down in the math requirements and so I decided to switch over to liberal arts I did a combination of philosophy and history and religion and things like that and went down a much more academic path for the rest of college at and, you know, I had a I had a good experience, but it definitely altered the course of my life by making that decision.

Tim Bourguignon 4:41
I can understand I finished my CS degree, but I hated the whole math part of it and the whole physics part of it. Yeah, I totally understand what you feel like they're

Sam Julien 4:54
my one saving grace was that because I started doing philosophy courses, I took a Symbolic Logic class and that ended up actually kind of kick starting a lot of that thinking of logical thinking. And that, that ended up becoming useful later on. And some of the other skills that I developed in college of, of academic research and writing papers and things like that actually ended up coming back around and being very helpful in learning really complex programming concepts and trying to teach them to other people and things like that. So there's definitely a silver lining. I mean, it definitely all kind of worked out in the end. But I kind of, you know, I've been trying to teach myself various computer science concepts over the years, and I sure wish I had just done it in a classroom in my 20s. But, but, you know, back then, I didn't know that there was such a thing as a self taught developer. I mean, this was early 2000s, mid, somewhere in somewhere in that range. So, you know, 15 years ago, which is makes me shudder to think but but you know, there was no coding Academy, there was no YouTube at that point, there was no treehouse, there was no, none of those things existed. And so my, in my mind, the only way to become a real, you know, quote unquote real or professional programmer was to get a computer science degree. And so, once that didn't happen that sort of closed the door on that chapter for me, I sort of was like, well, I always wanted to do this, but I guess I washed out of it, you know, that's a phrase, you know, in, that's an idiom in English of like, you know, basically failed, you know, so I just sort of figured, well, I, I, you know, I got, I got cut from the team, and I'm never going to be a programmer. And thankfully, that turned out to be really incorrect when I, as I learned a few years later, but yeah, that was kind of my dilemma there. Very interesting. A few comments

Tim Bourguignon 6:49
there. Um, you're not the first one to tell me a similar story. I think I had Kyle shevlin and a couple weeks ago,

Sam Julien 6:57
yes, he

Tim Bourguignon 6:58
was a pastor. And who studied philosophy and theology and was able to very expressively link his development skills to his studies back then. And he studies of theology of scriptures and being able to say, Well, I was studying text back then and trying to put it in the context of the persons who were writing it, which is exactly what he's doing now with source code. And exactly the same with philosophy and and logic and saying are the logic the logic and philosophy is the same as with using using today in his programming, so I totally make sense we what you what you have what you're saying?

Sam Julien 7:39
Yes, yeah. Kyle is Kyle is funny because we're, we're friends and it's, it's fascinating because we, it's almost like if you put us each in a parallel universe, we could have made different decisions and ended up very similar like we it all these different forks in the road, we made sort of opposite decisions. Like, like he ended up deciding to get a degree in theology. I decided not to or and then, you know, later on he decided to do react and I decided to do Angular, there's all these little overlaps. He's an extrovert and I'm an introvert. You know, like, there's this, like, strange parallelism between me and Kyle that I always think is really funny. And somehow both of us ended up in Portland, Oregon. And that's how we met and, and got to know each other and stuff. So he's a great, great person to be compared to.

Tim Bourguignon 8:28
That's awesome. Yes,

Sam Julien 8:29
yeah. Cool.

Tim Bourguignon 8:31
Cool. Yeah. One of the things he wants to say, um, do you know, Rob Connery?

Sam Julien 8:37
Yes, yes. Yes, absolutely. Yeah, the imposter handbook. Yeah, that book. I can't tell you how many people I've recommended that book to it. I do as well. Yeah, it would have been such a tremendous resource is especially I mean, I he has the two seasons of it and and I have read most of the second one, but not Not as often it's it's a little bit different you sort of get into more of the I don't want to say esoteric but like some some deeper things in computer science that are not immediately useful as in season one and the that first book, I go back to it over and over again I go back to the videos and the the book itself over and over again to learn from I mean, he's put out some just incredible stuff. I he knows what a fan I haven't. Yeah. Big, big recommendation for that book. Yeah.

Tim Bourguignon 9:33
For the listeners, just you want to put it in the in context. So Rob, had the CEO similar path he was a self taught programmer and never went the CS degree way. And something like 30 years down the line felt like an imposter. I think he's working in Microsoft on But yeah,

Sam Julien 9:52
I am not sure where

Tim Bourguignon 9:54
he is. Now. I'm sure he is Microsoft, but I'm not sure where it were. And he felt an impulse By not having a CS degree and being surrounded with PhDs and people who have complete degrees, and so decided to write this book where he tackles all the basics of computer sciences from as if it was going through computer science degree but trying to teach himself and is so well written and so well explained by someone who's really down to earth. So I I love this book.

Sam Julien 10:27
Yeah, cool.

Tim Bourguignon 10:31
Dude, work, just comments. And now Now I have to be to be nasty. You said you're an introvert. But yeah, you weren't Developer Relations.

Sam Julien 10:38
I know. It's, it's worked for me. Yeah, it's a strange thing, as well, so don't worry about it. So, I mean, though, the way that I define introvert and extrovert is just sort of where you get your energy from. So introversion is not necessarily the same as shyness or or not being, you know, not liking to talk to people or things like that. It's just that I gain Energy by my alone time, and then I expend energy by doing public things. Whereas extroverts they gain energy from being around other people and they and so when they spend too much time alone, then they get really less less than needed need that social interaction. So I'm just sort of the opposite in that were so I can I I love talking to people and giving talks and teaching and helping people ever I can. But I always have to have that like, cave time, at the end of the day where I'm like, by myself in in my office playing a video game or something to just like, recoup and, or when I'm at conferences if we ever go to conferences again, when I'm at conferences, you know, all I probably will only stay out one night, the other nights I'll be inside and in my room as five giving a talk or something like that. But But yeah, I mean, I think there's I think it's actually a fairly common thing among a lot of Developer Advocate types is that we're actually a lot of us are actually introverts. We're just, we just are very focused in the way we expend our energy for for these toxin, and meetups and things like that.

Tim Bourguignon 12:25
And there's there are more ways to be an advocate than just being on stage.

Sam Julien 12:29
Yeah, totally, totally. The whole rest. Yeah, I also have some life experience that maybe gives me an unfair advantage in that overcoming my introversion, which is that when I you know, so I alluded to the fact that I got a degree in liberal arts. And I don't know, you know, most people might understand that. getting a degree in liberal arts doesn't really guarantee you a job in anything. And so, I needed to, I needed to find some way to make a living and so I was starting to learn about personal finance and stuff. Just because I was starting to, you know, grow up, and I decided I wanted to get into financial planning. And so, I, in order to do that the I had to start at the very bottom as a 21 year old or whatever, and I did insurance and investment sales. And I did that for several years. And that was for an introvert that was maybe the worst thing I could have done. But it it because I had to do it, I had to make a living and I, you know, was young and had a lot of energy and stuff. I ended up overcoming a lot of my kind of phobias of talking to strangers and like approaching people or you know, calling people and and that has ended up paying a lot of dividends over the years just being able to kind of overcome a lot of that social anxiety by being forced to call make, you know, go to networking events and meet people and try to build This financial clientele over a few years

Tim Bourguignon 14:04
How does it manifest itself when you are going over these the age of your of your organ colon energy introverted this when you feel now I need to break is just retired or is it something else?

Sam Julien 14:23
Yeah it's mostly for me I just get I just get I get tired I get I get kind of frazzled like my, I get easily frustrated when I get tired out if I don't have a lot of energy, then suddenly, all problems seem really difficult to me, you know, like, every little thing becomes difficult in those situations. Whereas if I'm kind of like, rested and have a lot of energy, then I can, I can knock out a lot more. Whether it's like solving code problems or solving other people's problems on like forums or slack or whatever for work or, or it's just like silly, you know, things around the house that I've got to do is solve some problem about some, you know, lawn care maintenance thing or something like that like so I always know when I feel like if I feel like I am Sisyphus pushing a rock up a hill, you know that that to me is a signal that I'm drained and tired and I need to like call it a day and just like get some alone time and and start again tomorrow, you know?

Tim Bourguignon 15:32
It makes perfect sense. Okay, cool. I, I took you as off on the tangent for a while. Let's go back cuz I have a 1011 question. You were going to liberal arts and philosophy and did some financial planning and how did you end up back into coding.

Sam Julien 15:51
So what happened was I so I spent about three and a half years doing sales in insurance. And investments and then I got this job at a stock brokerage that was like a is kind of like customer service and operations like it. The the clientele of the brokerage was financial advisors. So I was like, on the team that helped. It was like the customer service team, but it was customer service for financial advisors. So it required people to have financial backgrounds, it's actually kind of funny. It's actually like, really parallel to developer advocacy. And I just now put that together. They're like very similar jobs. It was like really similar just in finance where, because I was already licensed to do all this stuff, then that's why they wanted me to to be on that team. So so the claim to fame of that brokerage was that they wrote their own trading platform. And I sort of became friends with the developers at the at that company because I I've always been, you know, kind of a nerdy guy and just like we just kind of hit it off. And as as time went on, I, I kind of started to get more and more disillusioned with finance. And, you know, I kind of had gotten into it because I wanted to help the average person with their finances and you know, financial literacy and that kind of thing. And the deeper I got into it, the more it just felt like kind of a system designed to help rich people get richer, and it just kind of it was just really dissolution you know, just really depressing and, but but I also noticed that that's an industry that's just a it's very precarious, if you're, you can you can easily get sued for even something that you don't think I mean, even something you've done in good faith. And so I just realized, like the combination of like, how unfulfilling it was in how precarious of a situation that is where any misstep could be, could lead to financial ruin. I was just projecting out my life in 510 15 years, and thinking like, this isn't a good spot to be in. And so I was talking with some of the developers at the company about this. And one of them was like, why didn't you, you know, like, why don't you go back to learning how to do web development? And I said, Well, you know, I, I tried to do that in college. I try I, you know, I tried to get a CS degree and I, you know, just didn't didn't work out for me. And so that was the end of it. And, and the most, one of the most senior developers was like, I dropped out of college. I i have i started a linguistics degree and dropped out. And now I'm, you know, I've been doing this for a decade, and that just like, totally blew my mind, I had no idea that that was possible that you could become like, you know, an architect at a financial company without a college degree. And, I mean, I had I had a liberal arts degree. And so I already felt like I was ahead of the game on that and so, so those developers ended up kind of taking me under their wing and giving me a lot of especially the one guy that I just mentioned who, who is kind of one of the more senior guys, they would give me projects to try to learn and they would send me tutorial videos and things like that. And you know, now we are at the age of code, CAD me and treehouse and things like that. And so I hadn't looked at all of that, since I was in college where there was none of that. And so it was just like, I couldn't get enough of it. You know, I just started devouring every possible coding tutorial out there and trying to pair up as much as I could with the developers at that stock brokerage. And that's what you know, that's what got it done. I mean, that's that's where how I got into the industry it was I eventually was able to pass a job interview for a junior position and moved across the country to Portland, Oregon, and that that's the rest is history, you know?

Tim Bourguignon 20:02
How long did it take for for you to, to get your chops running and, and be ready for at least ready, you know, psychologically for this first interview,

Sam Julien 20:11
it was pretty all together It was probably about a year from which, which is not very long. And the reason I mean, the main, the main takeaway from this is that I was very, very lucky. Like, I was very lucky that I had people who I mean, I saw that obviously, like do the work and like what, you know, do the do the coding and stuff. But I was extremely lucky that I had people to hold me accountable and to give me mentoring and things like that. And that has always been sort of my burden to pay forward and to share with others because I there's no way I would have been able to do all of that without somebody else, like, showing me what to do you know, and this was 2000 And 13 or something before, I mean, if anything, the web is even more complex than it was back then. And so having having somebody to just say like, hey, go learn this thing and build this thing for me, and then I'll look at your code and, and tell you how you did like, that was absolutely invaluable. And so that is sort of my, that's like my primary motivation for all of the work that I do now is to try to be that person for other people who don't have that, you know, I happen to be in a situation where I had a few different people that could do that for me, and that's what got me my first job basically, and, and, yeah, I just want to kind of be that person for as many other people as I can. You're preaching to the choir.

Tim Bourguignon 21:46
I totally agree with this. Mentoring has been such a such a big part of my life as well and I've been trying to pay it forward as well. And this podcast is is is also part of it. So it's Yeah, totally I agree with every sentence he said, um, how did you decide to, to, to, to pay for all the all the means you set into motion to, to to be true to this. So

Sam Julien 22:13
there were a couple of different things out when I, I, I ended up getting a second job after after. So I got my first job and moved to Portland and I was there for about six months. And then I was able to get a job at a nonprofit downtown in Portland. And it was a really, really good group of people. And one of the guys that I worked with was a like business analyst, kind of like a reporting kind of person. And he really wanted to get into coding. And so I kind of took it upon myself to mentor him and kind of be what Josh the guy who would who would mentored me to be to be his Josh basically and to, like, just, you know, give him things to do. And I mean, we were, it was awesome, because I could give him like, I mean, we had real code that he could look at, you know, he could watch tutorials, and like, learn the basics. But then he could also like, compare that to the real production code that we were working on. And so so that turned out to be in those first few months were really rough for him. And then he sort of turned this corner, about six months in where I think it was when he realized that I think a lot of beginners, when they approach coding, they kind of approach it like any other subject they might have had in school, where they think that it's this kind of Dictionary of things they need to memorize, and, and they quickly get really overwhelmed, right, because they're just constantly trying. They're like, how am I going to remember like, all of this syntax, all of these, all of this tooling Like, there's just like an insane amount of skills that you need to learn doing any sort of development, whether it's front end or back end or whatever else. And and the lightbulb moment is always when people realize that this is not like that this is a problem solving discipline this is, this is like your ability to encounter something that you don't know and kind of figure it out and then make it better later. And that That to me is the kind of the threshold that people cross and when my my friend Nick, cross that threshold, he he hit like he started just skyrocketing, skyrocketing in his progress because he wasn't held back by by real by feeling like I'm never going to remember all this, you know, it became much more of like a game to him to learn it and so that ended up going really well and he ended up getting a real full fledged title as a junior developer and you know, that obviously comes with a big pay raise and and that like Really significantly changed, you know, altered his trajectory. And that was the best thing I ever did you know that that was like, I got, I was so happy to see him accomplish that, like way more than any other code I've ever done or any, you know, anything else like that was way more gratifying to me to help to help like help with that and that kind of, like started that going, you know, that like lit that fuse in me to where I wanted to do more of that. And so I started doing more with I started doing some video tutorials and some kind of like online mentoring through some different avenues. And that that kind of led to that, you know, Chapter of, of kind of teaching and giving back and giving talks and things like that, that it all kind of goes back to that experience with Nick. How do you remember

Tim Bourguignon 25:58
how you started this this relationship, this mentor mentee relationship, if I may call it this way with Nick, was it something deliberate where there's something that just happened and six months down the line you realize it happened? Can you put some words on it?

Sam Julien 26:15
It was, it was sort of both, you know, I mean, we, we were on the same team ish. I mean, we were like, in the same sector of the of the nonprofit. And so we had been, we just had started to become friends. And, you know, one time we were hanging out early on, and he was like, you know, I, you know, someday I'd like to learn how to code and I was like, Well, I mean, you can there's, there's a bunch of resources out there and I send him a few and that so he's sort of like, you know, kind of kind of tinkered around with that. But then I think the the hidden thing that I haven't mentioned is that our boss caught wind of this and was incredibly supportive of it. He like basically asked me if we could make it more of an official mentoring kind of thing. And I mean, I was at, I mean, happy for it. So he basically gave Nick time on the job, not a ton. I mean, he still had to do his his main job, but he basically gave him his, you know, blessing to, you know, spend, I don't know, he gave him 10% or something of his time on that, and, and that kind of enabled this whole thing. So it kind of was both It started as like a just happenstance thing of us being on the same team and starting to become friends and that kind of thing. And then it became more of an official kind of relationship, you know, official kind of capacity and, and, yeah, and then I mean, I think by by the time it was a year in I mean, I don't he didn't really need me anymore, you know, I mean, he was pretty like, self sufficient and we were just I considered it much more of just kind of my Miko You know, my my co developer, then more of like a mentee or anything He also quickly surpassed me in his CSS skill. He's way better at design than I am way, way better.

Tim Bourguignon 28:08
And the The Apprentice always surpasses the master at some point. I guess

Sam Julien 28:12
that's how it should be.

Tim Bourguignon 28:14
That's how that's how that's how you know you did a good job. I would like to to to switch gears a little bit and talk about your your, I mean, not directly your work at all zero but you you've been at it with ever since 2018. Something like this.

Sam Julien 28:30
Yeah. Just just shy of two years. I started in like mid to late August in 2018. Okay, and if my research is correct, ohss zero has been mostly a completely remote from the get go, right? Yeah, I don't know what the current. It's growing so much that I don't know what the current percentage was. But at, I believe at the time that I was hired, we were at least 60% remote and the only reason It's even that low is just because eventually, as the company got bigger, they had more, you know, sales and support people and stuff that preferred to be at an office, but it's always been room. I mean, we used to call it remote first now it's remote friendly, but I mean, it's, I would say remote is its primary way of operating, you know, I mean, so, so, yeah, I mean, all of all of the engineering teams and everything or I mean, everybody's all spread out all over the world. And it's done really, really well. I mean, it's got a really great culture and everything.

Tim Bourguignon 29:35
So know that though the entire world pretty much experienced you remote work way of life. What can you tell us about the being remote back then versus being remote right now versus being remote during a pandemic? what's what's your take on those three different point of views?

Sam Julien 29:57
Yeah, well, we're we're really lucky because As we since we were already remote, we didn't have too big of an adjustment once everybody was forced to be remote. I mean, the the people who work in our different offices around the world had to stop going into the office. But we already had all of the infrastructure in place that the other, you know, the whole rest of the company was already using. So it has gone pretty smoothly for us. I would say. The big difference for you know, for my job, obviously, is that there's no more in person events and so that everything is online, all of the all of the conferences and everything like that are all online. But yeah, I don't I think the only thing that's really different for us is that we've, we've started doing more like outreach and education on remote work because there were so many companies scrambling when they first went remote that Some of our leadership caught wind of that and was like, Hey, this is a really good opportunity for us to kind of share, you know, share our playbook, you know, open our open our playbook and like let people see how we do things. And so we had this initiative for a little while. I mean, I think I guess we still do that you could like book time with some people, like the dev team or other people and ask questions about remote work and remote engineering and that kind of thing.

Tim Bourguignon 31:28
Was it new for you working entirely remotely? Back in 2018?

Sam Julien 31:34
Yes, yes. So this Yeah. azzura was my first remote job. I went from the nonprofit to ot zero. And it was also I, I went from being a full stack engineer to doing content and dev REL stuff. And so that was also a really big change. So it was kind of a double whammy of first remote job and first, you know, Dev REL content, kind of I was on the content team for the first year and then switch to the dev REL team and the second year,

Tim Bourguignon 32:04
why did you decide to make this change?

Sam Julien 32:06
So I had, while I was at the nonprofit, I encountered this, this, this problem of the there was there was an old version of the angular framework. And then there was a new version of the angular framework. And the migration process between the two was very, very painful and difficult. And nobody had really done any material on how to do it. And so I was, I was griping about this to somebody on the Angular team at a at a conference. And he was like, Well, you know, like, maybe you should do it, you know, maybe, maybe you should, like, get, you know, give back to the community and do it yourself. And I thought, yeah, that's actually a really good idea. So I made this, this epic video course on this topic. Because I just I basically just made the thing that I wish existed, and I was promoting it by writing articles on other blogs and things like that. And one of the things I did was I did a guest article for the auth zero blog because I had made a couple of contacts at auth zero at a conference or two. And one of them reached out eventually and was like, Hey, you know what, you could actually we actually have a full time job for this. Like, you could just spend your time like writing these tutorials and giving people you know, instructions on how to do all these different technical topics. And I I really wanted to remote job because I was tired of commuting to downtown. And it was a little bit of a scary leap to jump into going full time with the content stuff, but it ended up being a really, really good decision and as much as I miss all the people at my old job, like it's definitely been a really really good move for me and working remote has been really awesome for me as well. I I think I

Tim Bourguignon 34:01
understand why. Yeah,

Sam Julien 34:03
yeah, no commuting and things like that. The one thing I will say going back to the introversion stuff, though, and I actually wrote an article at zero about this was, I was actually though, as much as an introvert as I am, was really surprised at how quickly you can get lonely working remote. Because there's even for for someone who is pretty good on his own, like you forget about all the little interactions in your day that are still there, you know, you sort of take them for granted, like walking to the coffee shop, or you know, me and my boss used to go for a walk, you know, once or twice a week, we would just like walk around downtown with coffee and just chat about things, you know, or we would always work really early, we would work really early hours to avoid the commute. And so we'd go in and we'd chat for a few minutes and you know, or being able to like grab a whiteboard with a senior colleague, you know, and hash out Something, all those things go away when you work remote, you know, and, and like, you know, you just sort of wake up and you know, I mean other than whoever you know, if you live with some family or something like other than that you're like pretty much on your own the whole day except for slack and doing, you know, whatever meetings you have, so it did take me some time to adjust to that and to I had to like build that in you know, I had to build in going to coffee shops or or, you know, the grocery store or whatever it would take just to like, not be so completely isolated that I started to you know, lose it, you know.

Tim Bourguignon 35:39
So you you created the those those rituals and losing traction artificially. Yeah. into your routine.

Sam Julien 35:46
Yeah, yeah, really good. I I don't do this. But I've had other people tell me that one that they really like is to walk around their block, like first thing in the morning and then right when they like when they start their workday, and when they end their workday. They'll go Like take just like walk around their neighborhood or, you know, walk around the block or something like that. It's kind of a ritual of like, starting the day and ending the day. And like, I think that's a really good kind of thing. That's, that's similar to the kind of things kinds of things that I do. I still give myself a workday, you know.

Tim Bourguignon 36:17
Mm hmm. Still commuting to your office. Taking the detour around the block.

Sam Julien 36:24
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Like for me, I always make, you know, like, I still get up and shower and, and put on clothes. And, you know, I don't put on like the same kind of clothes. I would if I were working downtown, but, but I, you know, I still try to have a start and an end and, you know, be in a work mode, just so that. I mean, that's partially protect yourself from working constantly. I mean, it's really easy in a remote job, you either go, you either have a tendency to work too little, or you have a tendency to work too much. And I I'm definitely one of those people that could just work indefinitely and let you know if my partner wasn't there to smack me around to say like, hey, like, yes, get out, get off your computer and come do something in the real world, you know, like I could, I could just work all the time. So you've got to set those boundaries for yourself.

Tim Bourguignon 37:11
Mm hmm. I fully I fully Um, can you tell us some some of the the biggest highs and maybe the the deepest lows of lose this year as a developer advocate at all zero, I think he discovered to be really enjoyable and maybe not so enjoyable.

Sam Julien 37:29
Yeah. So the biggest highlight for me this year was that I got to do two conferences in India. And they were both just phenomenal one one was graph qL Asia in Bengaluru and it was run by his Sora. And then the other was mg India which is run by someone named Donna j and and many others also contribute to that he's just sort of like the main organizer but and that was in Delhi and Both of those conferences were just so, so incredible. So well run and everybody was so friendly, so nice. And of course, it was, I mean, it was my first time in India and Amy came with me and we did a big we spent a couple of weeks there and went around and like the conferences were sort of the bookends of the of the trip. And so we were we went and went to the conferences, did the talks and everything and then spent some time traveling in between the two and then did mg India and flew out from Delhi. And that that was I mean, without a doubt the one of the one of the peaks, you know, peak life experiences I've ever had. It's also the last trip that I took before the pandemic which is just bonkers to think of like the completely different world that I you know, like my last trip being complete opposite side of the world and totally different version of reality than my daily life. And so That's, that's been really good. I don't know about so a low. I mean, this has been a pretty decent year overall, other than, you know, all the terrible things that have happened in the year so, you know, I don't I personally don't really have anything that I can complain about because I, I feel like I'm just constantly So, like fortunate especially in in all of these times so, you know, I I don't really have I feel like anything that I could say about, like a low point, personally would just sound ridiculous given the context of the current the current year, you know, it's just, I feel just an unbearable amount of gratitude to even be alive right now. So so that that's like, I think my answer for now.

Tim Bourguignon 39:53
Yeah, we wouldn't want to hear with firstworldproblems Um, let's let's let's focus on something else. instead. How did you or your your team as an au zero, refocus your efforts while the pandemic was happening? Well, you couldn't travel anymore. Did you? Did you change your strategy and start doing something else?

Sam Julien 40:14
Yeah, it's it's actually it's really interesting. I, I feel like I need to write an article about our dev relative zero in the last six months, because we, it's very interesting, what ended up happening was that a lot of we had all these things that were sort of on the back burner, that we were kind of meaning to get around to that all of a sudden became our sole focus. And so so for example, I mean, so the way it used to be set up was sort of like, I mean, we didn't we didn't have necessarily like hard and fast rules on number of events and traveling and stuff. I mean, we had some we sort of had this expectation that we would do one or two events a month, basically, but they all kind of sometimes you have months that clumped together and so, so so we were sort of spending maybe, you know, maybe 70% of our time was on, either preparing for conferences, applying for conferences or actually going and speaking at conferences and meetups and stuff like that. And then the other 30% of the time was on, you know, any other projects that we were working on any other little, you know, pet projects or programs or things like that. And so, with the pandemic, all of those 30% projects became our sole focus, for the most part. I mean, there's still the online events, but it probably shifted to at least at least 5050. And so it's actually in a lot of ways have been a really positive for us, because for example, we've ended up doing a lot more streaming that was that was one thing that was really on kind of our backburner is like yeah, someday, you know, we'd had a team member who had started doing a streaming initiative, and then he moved to a different team, and so it kind of fell apart and we had a few people leave and so so streaming, we had a couple people Pick that initiative up and and it's really going strong. And I ended up inheriting our Ambassadors Program when one of our other team members left. And because of the pandemic I've been just pouring. Most of I would say the most of my time right now for work is going into the azzuro Ambassadors Program, which is basically like a program to help people get into speaking and things like that. Now, it's, I mean, it used to be all about events now. It's opened up to everything else. So So that's kind of what's happened is we we've, we've been doing a lot more internal tooling, like building more internal tools for for dev REL and for tracking things. And we've been doing a lot of online stuff. We've been writing more we've been so it's actually been a good experience for us. I think we're I think the long term impact of this for a lot of dev REL teams is to really start to think about what the return on investment is for Traveling to start thinking like, wow, you know, do we need to go to this in person? Or should we do it? virtually. And I mean that the in person stuff is still really, really important. I mean, I can, I mean, I could just point to some of the conferences I've done in the last year or two. And most I mean, my best relationships in tech are people that I've met in person and spent time with in person at conferences and during conferences and stuff like that. So I don't think that part is going to change. But I do think there'll be a little bit more maybe discernment on when to do things online, when to do them in person, when to spend time on internal programs and tooling and things like that versus trying to do remote trying to do excuse me, like in person events 80 or 90% of the time, you know, Mm hmm.

Tim Bourguignon 43:59
Nice you See, it says something I've heard many times. Now that this this remoteness really opens my eyes and all going to have long lasting effects, and definitely among devrel teams, as well. So it's gonna be very interesting. Yeah. Okay, I guess we reached the part where I need an advice from you and send because of your profile. I'm going to go back to the your beginnings. And what would be the one advice you would give someone who really want to switch careers who went completely not the technical way and wants to go into tech now? What advice would you have in mind for such kind of people?

Sam Julien 44:45
Yeah, my my biggest piece of advice would be to ask for help and get other people involved in your success. I think one thing that's really hard, especially on what you eat, You're looking at Twitter and things like that is that a lot of times you can hear these stories of developers or see their activity on Twitter and they seem like they're a, you know, one person army that's just risen, just like skyrocketed to fame and success by themselves. And that's almost definitely not true. I'm virtually Nobody does that that's really, I mean, occasionally you'll have somebody who just happens to be so charismatic or, or maybe so good looking or something, just something some, they'll have some quality about them that makes them do it all by themselves. It's, I mean, 90% of the time, that's not true. Nobody does anything great by themselves. And so I always anytime I come on a podcast like this, and tell my story, I always explicitly say like, I didn't do this by myself, I had a lot of help. And that's why I do what I do now is to try to help other people and so the biggest piece of advice I can give is to not try to do it alone. You know, the, the coding tutorials, things like Free Code Camp and treehouse and egghead and all of those wonderful resources. They, they are good for the technical knowledge and you need them. But you need other people in your life that can hold you accountable or give you code reviews or things like that. And there's a lot, there's a number of different ways that you can find people like that. I mean, you have to do a little bit of digging around and, and hunting around. But it's possible and that to me is the biggest thing. You need somebody to be your your cheerleader, your mentor your you don't necessarily need a you know, full time mentor, but just somebody to kind of poke you every now and again and say, you know, how's it going? What are you working on? What do you need for me? You know, that kind of thing? I

Tim Bourguignon 46:45
agree fully. Thank you. Yeah. And if I can piggyback on that. I would advise not to talk about mentoring with this person from the get go. It would be like going on the first date and talking about marriage. That works out if you're sorry. Like older like me, now, we can do a time expressing. But when you're in your 20s you don't want to talk about marriage. They don't go on the first mentoring date with big air quotes and speak my mentoring speak about what what you both like and what the subject matter that that unites the both of you, which coding the Angular, whichever, and stop this discussion and then you will see if you have the, the, the, the willingness to, to come back and talk about it more and more and more and it will become such a such a mentoring relationship eventually.

Sam Julien 47:38
Yeah, that's, that's a really good point. I think we, I think, the danger Yeah, it's, it's dangerous to talk up like mentoring as that because it's this big, scary, official thing, but really, you don't necessarily you don't need somebody like that. You just need to make some more friends with people who are a little bit ahead of you, or maybe a lot ahead of you. And yeah, build that relationship over time. And it may turn into something more formal or whatever. But it doesn't have to be in order for you to benefit, you know, in order for you to get a lot out of it. So that's a, that's a really good piece of advice. A lot of times I have this happen where somebody, you know, messages me on Twitter or something, and they're like, I need a mentor. And so I'm like, okay, cool, like, send me send me an email with what you're doing what you're working on. Some of them will do that, some won't. And then I respond and say, you know, great, like, so what's your next plan of action? Like, what's your next step? When do you want to talk to talk to me again, I will tell you 80 to 90% don't respond to that next email. And so, and I think that's because they haven't we haven't qualified that convert, you know, we haven't qualified that relationship yet. You know, so. So, yeah,

Tim Bourguignon 48:55
yeah, first day, second day, third, third day then then you can start getting To into a deeper relationship. Yeah, first you have to get to know each other. This way we can write as an analogy for always, I've tried it again, that works out, or it becomes weird at some point. Yeah. Awesome. Thank you very much. Where can the listeners continue this discussion with you or hit you on and and say, I would like you to become my mentor from the get? Yeah, this email answer for you.

Sam Julien 49:27
Yeah, yeah. So I have I might the central place for me is my website, Sam julene.com. That's where I've got I put up all my articles I put up egghead videos that I can embed on the site and then I have a an email, like list that I send out whenever whenever I'm working on anything new or something like that. So Sam julene comm is kind of the primary spot and then I'm pretty active on Twitter. So if if there are things that you need, that are auth related, or you need someone to point you in the right direction or something like I'm usually pretty, pretty good about responding. I mean, I can't respond to everything all the time, but I try pretty hard. And then I, I make courses for both. I make videos for both thinkstock.io and also egghead.io. So you can find me on on there for I just came out with a, an Apollo react course on pinkster. And I've been building up a lot of Angular content on egghead so definitely check me out there.

Tim Bourguignon 50:30
And I'll add all those links in the show notes. Great. Well, Sam, thank you very much for sharing your story. That was fantastic.

Sam Julien 50:39
Thanks so much for having me, Tim.

Tim Bourguignon 50:40
This was my pleasure. And this has been another episode of developer's journey, and we'll see each other next week. Hi, this is Tim from a different time and space with a few comments to make. First, get the most of those developer's journeys by subscribing to the podcast with the app of your choice, and get the new episodes automagically right when they air. The podcast is available on all major platforms. Then, visit our website to find the show notes with old links mentioned by our guests, the advices they gave us their book references and so. And while you're there, use the comments to continue the discussion with our guests and with me, or reach out on Twitter, or LinkedIn. And a big, big thanks to the generous Patreon donors that helps me pay the hosting bills. If you can spare a few coins. Please consider a small monthly donation. Every pledge, however small, counts. Finally, please do someone you love a favor and tell them about the shoe today and help them on their journey.