Software Developers Journey Podcast

#123 Patrick Leblanc did not want to ruin his passion


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Patrick Leblanc 0:00
I would consider VB6 a little bit like the JavaScript of nowadays. It's so abstract, it's so high-level but for me anyways, going into a lower level really helped me to understand the structure behind the code like what you write, you know what recursive means a recursive function like how does it work really behind the scenes for me being able to put a you know, mental image on the you know, the frames behind the functions and what's happening behind the scenes really helped me to understand and and become better than that.

Tim Bourguignon 0:38
Hello, and welcome to developer's journey, the podcast, bringing you the making off stories of successful software developers to help you on your upcoming journey. My name is Tim Bourguignon. And on this episode 123, I receive Patrick Leblanc. Patrick's passion for creating completely useless Windows applications started at a very young age. And even though he fiercely fought against it during his studies, and I hope we'll hear this story during the podcast, he didn't manage to avoid a developer's career. He recently embraced entrepreneurship as well, and created his first venture WooStores. Patrick, welcome to their journey.

Patrick Leblanc 1:19
Hey, Tim, thanks for having me.

Tim Bourguignon 1:21
That's my very pleasure. And I must admit that we were in high school together, and we lost sight when you move abroad, first to Singapore, and then Canada. And I was so happy to discover you again a few weeks ago, and discover this, you've been a developer, and we have had, not very similar careers, but somehow related. I want to hear this whole story. So so let's get to it.

Patrick Leblanc 1:45
Yeah, for sure. So you know, I started I started coding, I think, like, very young My dad is, is in the field. So that's obviously very helpful. And he brought home I remember when I was maybe 10 years old, something like that. a laptop. And can you imagine like in 1993, or something like that? The laptop? So suitcase? You mean? Yeah, pretty much laptop that, you know, was weighing like, I don't know, 15 kilos or whatever. And with the shitty screen, but it did have dusts and qbasic. You know, it's, it's like a little boy just watching is that working on the computer? And and you see, you're just curious, you know, what's going on. And so he showed me two basic, I just got captivated right away. It looked to me like Legos, which, you know, I was a big fan of played a lot with Legos, but on on a screen, and with so much possibilities that I just started coding into basic. And I remember, in the summer with the family, everybody was outside playing in the pool, going to the beach, and just, you know, having fun like any normal kids do. I would just stay at the other table in front of the laptop and coding in qbasic. I still remember the the first time like I I had to go to you know, you go to and you can do things and jump around the program with go to and that just blew my mind. And since since then, I just never really stopped coding, despite my somewhat troubled education.

Tim Bourguignon 3:32
Yeah, tell us about it.

Patrick Leblanc 3:35
Yeah. So yeah, it's, it's interesting. So I've, you know, I've never liked school really, always been something that I never really clicked. That's cool. And, Tim, I know you can vouch for it. You've seen it? Oh,

Patrick Leblanc 3:51

Patrick Leblanc 3:52
Not exactly the most the most artistic student on the block. But I still had to go through and my parents being both, you know, they both have masters they strongly believe in, in education. I was pushed to just go through school, go through high school and then college. After high school, I had to choose what to do. And it was either, you know, science in here in Canada, you have like the science or the human science. It's called sea jet. It's between high school and university. It's two years. And you have to choose already, like, are you going to do science? Or are you going to do human science like, like, economics or whatever. And me being the super nerd that I am liking coding and playing video games. I chose history. And so I went into a program that was history and for two years, I studied history, nothing to do with programming. So that can ruin my chances in at university to go into an engineering program. I don't have a good I still don't have Good, no reason why I did this. I think mainly, I didn't really like math, I didn't really like chemistry either. And you had to go through all this to go into science. So I just decided to do history. And then when time came to go to university, I decided to go into business school, which I promptly dropped out from after a year and a half. Because I just felt like I was not learning anything concrete, you know, wasn't just for me. So after a year and a half, I decided to follow my passion. And I went into a 3d school, which was a complete disaster. I just don't have the talent for that. I'm not a good mother, 3d modeler. I'm not a good animator, but I got very good at programming 3ds max at the time. So the, you know, the programming aspect of animation that I got very good at, because, you know, I've been coding for years now. On the side, just as for fun, I guess the question is why, you know, I've just pushed back going to development professionally and studying that for so long. I think I just didn't want to ruin the passion, like coding was always for fun. For me. It's always been something that I was looking at a pleasure and I didn't want to work mix work and, and pleasure at the same time. I don't even know why I'm saying this. As I say it out loud. It sounds absolutely ridiculous.

Tim Bourguignon 6:30
No doesn't. Have you seen the the the series, the TV series? Silicon Valley? No, I haven't. It's on the to watch list. It's completely silly. But But there are some very friend moments, especially if you follow a bit what's happening in this Lincoln Valley, and take it with a grain of salt. It's it's very, very fun. But there was this one scene where the they're starting to develop it more seriously. And one of them introduces something like that looks like Scrum or Kanban, or development effort. And one of the engineers becomes just just white on his face. And she says, Oh, this just became a job. This is what I'm hearing what you're saying? Yeah, this used to be a passion that used to be fun, even though I was coding all night. Exactly. Right after that. It was fun. And yeah, what's written this,

Patrick Leblanc 7:20
it makes sense. Absolutely. And so you know, I was cutting in VB six, now, I started cutting dotnet, as soon as it came out. I remember ASP. NET, when it came out, blew my mind, like how quickly you could do websites, and how nightmarish could quickly become as soon as you want it to go, you know, out of the beaten path a little bit. But still, it's it's it's super impressive when you're young and impressible. Seeing tech like that, it just blew my mind. So after this 3d thing, and seeing how much coding I loved, I did the only logical step, which was to go back to university and study economy. I, again, really, you know, this guy a bit weird. I'm guessing you starting to see the trend now. But the, the reason why it couldn't be because it's the only thing that I really liked in business school, I guess I like the logical aspect of it. And, and trying to explain the world. You know, I'm, I guess, like, a lot of developers very curious. So it was a it was nice. I haven't actually I don't have so many regrets. Because I've, you know, it broadened my horizon a lot. I've seen a lot of different things. And so overall, yes, I was a bit late on the job market. But overall, I still learn a lot of things. And and so economy, the problem was that one you don't do anything with the bachelor in economy, you need a Master's, at the very least. And a master's in economy is basically a master's in math and statistics. And one thing that I hate more than math is stats. So that quickly, like shut down economy for me. And so I looked at my options. I was I basically had a major in economy at this point, I had one year left to complete my, my diploma, and I decided to minor in programming, then suddenly, I saw the light. That was the easiest thing I've ever done in my life that year of programming, except for one class, the C class and we'll get to that because it was I loved that class. But we had Java and you know, you it's all the university stuff like you have team projects and everything. At the end. At the end of the day. I never went to class once. I've done everything from home because I hate school. Like I said, and what I realized is when you know, the midterms came around, I was not ready at all never came to class, I had no idea what anything was about, I started freaking out, like, you know, two weeks in advance. I'm like, holy crap, the, it's in two weeks, and I don't know anything. So that's when I started in, you know, studying like crazy doing overnights and just cramming all the knowledge and learning and doing tons of exercise. And then when the midterms came, I'm like, that's it. They're always, you know, way more in the book, like, way more, I felt cheated a little bit. But at least I passed my midterms with flying colors, and I never had these good grades in my life before. That's when I click like, Okay, I'm, I'm doing the right thing. I love it, I have no problem studying for it, clearly, it pays off in the grades. And so the little so I was doing team projects by myself, I got in trouble because I was not in a team. And you know, like team of four did the project by myself, the teacher was unhappy, because it made one more copy to correct or could review rather, was in Java, but anyway, he had no choice to pass me. And same thing with the other classes. And then the the second semester, I had the C class, I went to the first you know, the first class of the semester, where the, bring out the syllabus and talk to you about what's going to happen in in the semester, we were maybe, I don't know, I'd say 2020 students, something like that. So, okay, cool, I leave and do the exercise. And it's rough, like, it's rough, like he has the teacher put in place, you know, a lot of exercise. And we had to do in C, you know, linked list and all the classic things that are standard in every other languages like hashmap, and stuff like that. But in C, when came the time for midterms, I go to school, and in the exam room, I, I paused for a second, because we were seven, everybody else dropped out from from the class because it was too hard. We were seven, and at the end of the semester, we were five, we went from 20 to five students at the finals. And this class was transformative for me, I really, really wish that schools took a break and started, you know, teaching C to students in computer science. It's now everybody's learning Java and directly or Python, or dotnet, or whatever, C sharp, but I think C and understanding C is really helping, like it's, it's completely useless. Don't get me wrong, I've never used C in my life. But for most people not doing in embedded systems, C's not useful. But it really, really creates a framework, like it's like going to the gym, you know, you build muscles, and you build your shape to do your job to mental shape on programming. And this helped me tremendously. That's how I understood like the stack. And what is a Stack Overflow, I'm sure there are many developers out there that are going on Stack Overflow getting answers, but they don't even know what a Stack Overflow is. And this, this was transformative for me really understood way more the, you know, the memory and how it was used, I can't say enough good things, if if anyone out there can get a tutor or someone who knows, see and help them, you know, go through do the simple things like linked list and hashmaps and, and editing strings and just basic stuff, it will really really help you as a as a programmer. So I want to push back on that. Do you need to do this and see, I mean, going through all the the standard data structures and and red, black trees and hash maps and creating all this on your own? That's, that's definitely something interesting. But you need to do that and see, you really need to go down to this level of, of technicality. Or can you can you repeat, use 80% of that's with let's say JavaScript and, and be happy with those 80%. So maybe, you know, I'm not a scholar. I don't know how what's the best approach to teach people this, you know, coming from my experience, db is also pretty simple. I would consider VB six a little bit like the JavaScript of nowadays. It's so abstract. It's so high level that you don't really for me anyways, and I don't know, you know, maybe I'm alone. But for me anyways, going into a lower level really helped me to understand the structure behind the code like what you write, you know what recursive means. recursive function like how does it work really behind the scenes, for me being able to put a, you know, mental image on the frame, you know, the frames behind the functions and what's happening behind the scenes really helped me to understand and, and become better than that. It's it's not something that you need at all to develop in JavaScript or in PHP or in or any other modern languages, really. But having this framework of mind, for me structured everything, it was really like, you know, an alley lujah moment, like the sky opening and the ray of light coming down on it was really that for me, this, this this C class, so I remember very fondly of learning C, even though I never touch it ever again after that.

Patrick Leblanc 15:49
Like you.

Patrick Leblanc 15:52
I'm sure I'm sure. Listen, I'm not advocating that everybody switches back to C or start doing C for, you know, for leaving, just the bass, I think is worth it.

Tim Bourguignon 16:03
I see zero point as your void. Okay, so did you start working in the industry after that? Or do you start doing something else again?

Patrick Leblanc 16:11
So after that, I started the summer job, because I was just finishing school and I started, you know, sending CVS obit my summer job from the year before, took me back, even though they didn't want to.

Tim Bourguignon 16:30
I want to hear that story.

Patrick Leblanc 16:33
So yeah, my my summer job I, I was doing tech support in a big law firm here in Montreal, thanks to my friend, Carl, which brings another point about networking. I remember you had one guest over, you know, stressing the importance of networking. And I think indeed, it's really important. So my friend plugged me there, he was an application analyst for for the firm. And he plugged me there as a summer job for, you know, just stack support. Basically, what I ended up doing is a nap in dotnet in C sharp to track the computers and, you know, the the barcodes of the computers and monitors, and mouse's and everything, because they had a problem where they didn't know who got which laptop, which screen or mouse or keyboard, everything was labeled, but there was no record of who got what. And so I start I did that, and they loved it. But what they didn't love so much is that I was coding and not doing any tech support at all, I would not answer the phone. So my boss, Ben, you know, he was like, it'd be nice if you do the job that you were a hire for. And so Okay, so you know, he took me back. But I, you know, I felt that it was more to help me then really because he needed it, because he knew that he was not going to get much out of me. And then very quickly, in fact, what happened was that my friend, Karl, again, who had left the firm and went into a company called equi, soft told me, Hey, you know what my firm Microsoft is, is starting a division to the WordPress for publishers. So big name publishers in her in Canada, they had a contract with them to do websites for all their publications. And basically, they had to roll out. I don't know, maybe seven? I can't I can't recall exactly, but maybe seven WordPress sites in six months, something ridiculous like that. And it was so Equus after the dam was a consulting firm and I was saying was because they changed a little bit since then. Not a little bit a lot. So they were interested in just, you know, getting developers to build this WordPress project. And so I say, You know what? Sure, why not? I'm dabbled a little bit in PHP. I've done a little bit of WordPress on the side. I kind of know what it is, but Okay, let's try it. So I go and interview and I completely failed it. Like horrible, horrible, horrible. I remember walking out there going back it was during lunchtime at from my summer job. It was like two towers downtown next to each other. So I'm going back to my summer job saying like, well, at least I have a summer job you know? Good because this these guys are not calling me back that for sure. And before I get to the other tower, they called me back and they say you have the job you're hired and how you wrong number. But no, not wrong number. They they hired me apparently I was, I don't know malleable enough or my salary was low enough to justify having me on board. And so of course I accepted and I still Working with my friend at equals soft on on WordPress. And that was this the the crazy good, it was the crazy good years, then it was off for about three years, if I remember correctly, it was a lot of work a lot of you know stress, because we had so much to deliver in so little time, the PHP team was brand new, we had no idea what we were doing. We were all like new, you know, new to this. But we were smart Indian, we managed to deliver all the websites almost in time, if I remember, well, it was you know, blacksmithing, and the iron was hot like it. That's how you learn a lot. It's something I really recommend. And I'm sure you've heard that before, Tim, I really recommend young developers to do go in consulting, you will learn in consulting way faster about business, about deadlines about going through the fires alive, then, then, in the regular Corporation, the dynamic in consulting is really different. And it really is a good, a good way to get better. In many aspects. I concur

Tim Bourguignon 21:21
that painting consulting for the past 1213 years. And when people ask what what's so special about consulting, I like to present it this way. Well, usually the companies try to do it themselves. And when they realize it's not working, then we get a call. And so that's pretty much it, you never get the call when everything's green, you never get the call whenever things is new and shiny, you get the goal when the shit hits the fan. So you have to learn exactly what I was gonna

Patrick Leblanc 21:54
say. You know, you don't you don't get to a point where shit hits the fan in consulting, because it always starts there. The shit is already in the fan. So it's get up and get it running. And so yeah, it was, it was it was intense, but it was great and great learning experience. So from there, my friend left to start his own endeavors. And I got promoted to team lead the PHP team lead, which was which came incredibly rapidly when you think about it. I think it was a year and a half after I was a junior, and in a year and a half, I was already a team lead. And that's when I started doing interviews. And which I'm sure we can talk about. And then eventually I through Equus oft found my next employer, but as as the team need, part of the job was to hire new PHP developers. And and I remember, you know, a bit like you like, in your introduction to the podcast and how it's all started. I had an interview, and I was like, but this is absolutely terrible. Where did he Where did they find this guy? Like, it's no, in 20 seconds, I already wanted to close the interview. So you stay because you feel bad for the interviewee to, you know, he comes over and you're like, Okay, well, it's gonna be a no, but at least you know, can give you an interview. And, and it was it was, it's hard. It's hard to find people. It's really, really hard. And I went through everything I went through. So technical, we had a, you know, technical interviews, so no whiteboard or anything like that, but technical in the sense where I would ask, you know, typical PHP questions and the typical gotchas in in PHP few questions in SQL so that I know you, you know, you know, how to make a query. And, and just stuff like that. And I remember one candidate, the guy aced everything in seconds, all the questions, Ace them. I was, you know, when I looked at my boss, and I was like, who was the director of technology? And it was, we were like, this is the guy's Great, let's hire him. So we hire him. And he was a complete disaster on the job, couldn't code a line of code to different people. And and then it dawned on me that, you know, technical question, you have all kinds of people under the sun, where you have people that aced technical question because they have a great memory and they know everything by heart like you know those annoying people that's cool that just have an answer and everything when teacher asks,

Tim Bourguignon 24:44
you're just saying this because of your past. Because he never won that boy,

Patrick Leblanc 24:51
stop judging. No, never that did that. That's for sure. And you have other people that just freeze in interview They just, you know, I've seen, I've seen other candidates that gets sweaty as hell, and they are stressed out of the out of their mind. And it's not a first shot. And, like us, it's really hard to interview, it's really a hard process. How do you give a first shot two people that react very differently in an interview settings. And, and so that problem continued in my next job. And the guy that, you know, was aceing. Technical, we had to fire him eventually, because it was just not working out. That's unfortunate before it goes into your next job. Did you find a way to better interview as an interviewer, so yes, but at my next job, so I guess it's a good

Tim Bourguignon 25:47
next step then.

Patrick Leblanc 25:50
So what happened is equi soft, was, you know, an engine cylinder bid, and they took a contract from a shipping company, a third party shipping reseller called flagship, and they wanted to redo their system entirely. flagship is doing reselling the ups and, and FedEx purolator, which is a Canadian courier, among others. And they wanted to redo their entire system, because it was calling to a halt. And it was done in PHP. So I took the lead on that. And I redid the system entirely with the PHP team, which went very well and also taught me, you know, something very important is how important that structure is, I think that's one point that is often missed, but you know, the code, you can change it, you can refactor it easily, it's not a problem, data structure, your SQL structure, that's a whole different story. The way it was coded before, was by a guy that had no idea what he was doing. And the data structure, the SQL structure was a complete disaster. So we had to migrate everything. And honestly, that took as much time to migrate everything into a proper data structure, then recording everything. It was just as long, it was terrible. It was just a terrible thing. So that structure is super important, it's really worth doubling the effort to make sure that your your structure is sound, and your SQL tables are nice and your indexes are well thought out. Because it's much harder to change once it's done, than just a simple refactoring of a function. So I did that project. And then I was shipped on another thing from internally for for a quiz off, there was different alignment between upper management and the team of that new project, internal project. So I was not sure what I was going to do professionally, I was thinking of leaving. And the the owner of flagship at the time, told me Wait, wait a minute, you know, I'm you build the entire system, if you're leaving, come with me. And that's what happened. I joined them. A company, it's a family business run by Howard the father and the two sons. And, and they had, they have zero technical knowledge. They had no technical team at all internally. And I told them, you know, you, you're becoming a tech company at this point, because your entire platform is the one bringing the money. And so I told him, we need to build, you know, a dev team to make it work. And they weren't sure, no problem, let's build a tech team. So guess what I had to hire, and do interviews. And so I, I played a lot around the interview process. During that time, I had failures like everybody, people that I hired and regretted hiring people that I hired and immediately regretted hiring. When I saw, you know, my past experience with the, the functions, and the the very technical questions, aced by a guy who couldn't Could I was like, okay, and this, this is not working. What's next. So what I did was a little trivial. not trivial, actually. But, but a little project when I asked people to do is to reproduce the RGB rainbow, you know, the one I am talking about, like, when you have a color picker, you have the RGB rainbow with white on top, black at the bottom and all the colors in the middle. So I told them, recreate that in PHP, and it's very interesting to see how people approach that problem because it's, you don't have you know, except the top row you don't have to pixels and the bottom row. You don't have to pick souls that are the same. It's all different colors. And it's you know, so you you you have a lot of thinking to do behind it and I gave candidates Have 45 minutes to do this to do this. None of them ever succeeded to do it in 45 minutes, which, you know, I'm not, I wasn't surprised. I didn't expect people to succeed in 45 minutes. But it was interesting to see how they attack the problem. And one guy got really, really close to get it done. I was impressed by his code and capabilities. And so I hired him. And then what I realized over time is that, as nice as he was, and as good as a coder as he was, he was building Death Stars for everything, you know, the kind of developers that they see a fly on the wall, they bring out the rocket launcher to burst out the fly, this kind of guy. And so it was nice. But the problem is, the code was unreadable by anybody else. It was classes on top of classes and interfaces, abstracts name, Id like everything of that for hello world, basically, it was just slowing everybody else down because everything that he was doing, everybody had, you know, was stuck on it, because too complex to just read. I had many talks with him to you know, simplify, simplify, simplify, and he just, he just wouldn't do it. I think it was in his DNA just to over engineer everything.

Tim Bourguignon 31:26
He was a born enterprise developer.

Patrick Leblanc 31:29
Yeah, exactly. You know, well, yeah, I did started doing a react Webpack something something. I was like, perfect. This is when he left. You know, after two years, at flagship, I was like, You know what, you're in your the right world right. Now, if you want to play with Webpack, and react and the old Redux and all this crap. This is your world. It's perfect. So he went, he went and did that. But on my end, I was like, Okay, so my super rainbow thing might not be a very good indicator, either. As I was doing interviews, I started slowly dropping any technical requirement. I was not asking any, any technical questions, except, you know, like, super basic stuff. But just to know that, no, I'm talking to a developer and not someone who just is out of the woods, trying to get into the developing world. So that, you know, just a minimum background, but very, very minimal. And otherwise, it was a conversation, I just started talking to people. And honestly, this yielded me the best employees I had so far, and the only ones that are left in the company, they've been there for more than five years now. And it was just perfect. What I realized over time is, in my experience, limited experience. And I realize it doesn't scale at all. But you know, for a smaller company, where you don't have 200 applications per per post, it's way more important to have somebody that fits in the rest of the team that fits with my philosophy on how we should code stuff that fits personally, because ultimately, it's a human job, that that was really the kind of the breakthrough and it didn't happen, you know, I didn't wake up in the middle of the night and saying, Oh, my God, this is it. This is how you should do it. I just it just came naturally, that I had much better success with people that were just fitting in terms of their human character than their technical character. Because you can always teach people stuff, you can always teach them if they're willing, again, back to character, if they're willing, if it's in their character to be willing, it's way easier in that sense in in that direction. Doing this this way, than having a technical person that doesn't want to learn anything, it's you know, their way or the highway. That's just not good in a team.

Tim Bourguignon 33:58
I say amen. To all this. I came to a very similar conclusion, after doing hundreds of interviews, actually have the interviews that led to me creating this podcast. And and since and all the interviews I did I do for my podcast and I interview a very similar way. I actually asked the candidates to tell me their story. And I want I want to hear reflection, I want to hear that I went to real to to to get a feeling that they are able to look at what they know best themselves. This is not a trick question. There is not a whiteboard interview. I don't know the answer. I don't know their story, but I want to see something that is logical. I want to see that. They were able to realize the force and and the different paths that took and why this or that was important. I able to connect the dots and and then I try to connect the dots on my end and that comes as a curveball. So when we When I connect two dots that they didn't realize might be connected, then we have a discussion and getting this discussion has yielded the best results, as well. And then of course, you have to check, are you really talking to a developer, as you said, so you have to be a little bit technical.

Patrick Leblanc 35:18
Indeed, my basic question for me is being you know, in the web, and I asked, What, uh, how HTTP works? Like, can you give me the rundown on how an HTTP request works? I asked, What's the difference between a left join and an inner join, which got a lot of people off guard, which is really surprised me.

Tim Bourguignon 35:40
But tell me your story, and how was your path? And so I know, what's the difference between an inner join left, right?

Patrick Leblanc 35:46
That's it pretty much, you know, actually, actually, not to be honest, I start with the technical stuff. Well, I started with the random, you know, how are you blah, blah, blah. And then I asked directly, the little technical stuff, because if I see that they are not solid, technically, the story becomes much shorter. And we both, you know, we both make sure that, you know, I don't want to if I see that, you know, technical is very weak. And on top of that, as we start talking, you know, give me your story and, and tell me about yourself. This doesn't fit either, like the the interview is done in 20 minutes, otherwise, it can last 45 minutes, 15 minutes, I've already had an interview for more than an hour, just talking about stuff, you

Tim Bourguignon 36:30
know, this reminds me of the interview for the job I'm in right now lasted something like three and a half hours, just because we were having fun.

Patrick Leblanc 36:40
Exactly, yeah, that's exactly it, you know, it, that's the that's in good interviews. When you have fun, and you feel a connection with the person, it's, you know, it's gonna be a good fit, and you know, that the person is going to be receptive to how things are done in your team most of the time. So I don't think there is a silver bullet really, to hiring. But a more human approach, especially when you see what's being done at Google, and you know, the, the big Fang company, it's nice to be a little bit more human, I find

Tim Bourguignon 37:16
that safe. All that we say, I think applies for small companies. And as soon as you start to scale, you will realize that you have a reproducibility problem, this, this behavior, or this, this workflow works very fine. When you have always the same people interviewing, then you have some kind of reproducibility. But as soon as you have more people, then you cannot compare what happens with one candidate with another one, because the two interviewees were different. And the interviewers were different, and you don't have a process. And so it starts to break down after some point. And then then there is some kind of, of interest in having something that is more more established and processed down.

Patrick Leblanc 38:03
Yeah, for sure, with better, you know, better graduation progress, like, you know, you can put numbers on factors, and I get that I absolutely get it. But that's also why I've never been interested in working in a big company, I understand the need of having a reproducible process for hiring. But ultimately, it's more personal. And I think my wife works in HR, you know, even in HR, it's the start, they're trying to have processes, of course, but you have exceptions all the time. Because everybody's human. And so that's why you know, I'm I'm way more interested in small, taking care of a small, small team, small but efficient. That's really what I like, how I enjoy working. I've never been interested in going to a big company, the biggest company I've ever worked with was a law firm when I was an intern, and everything had processes and documentation. And you know, everything had to be it's so slow, it feels so you know, not a jail at all. I hate it. As much as I hate the new agile way of doing a giant. We can talk about that last

Tim Bourguignon 39:16
time. Do we have an hour still? Oh my god, yes,

Patrick Leblanc 39:21
it's time flies.

Tim Bourguignon 39:24
Let's keep the attire for another time when we have a drink in your house. You said you were you're interested in small and efficient. And if I heard that, right, you just went the smallest and most efficient that you can be. You quit your job and created your own. Yeah. So tell us about this move.

Patrick Leblanc 39:44
Yeah, yeah. So indeed, I went to from a team of six to a team of one.

Tim Bourguignon 39:51
That's all

Patrick Leblanc 39:52
it is. It is a small I don't have any interviewing problem right now. Which is good. Yeah, so I started my own company. Looking at building, you know, really white glove treatment stores for small business owners and medium business owners. The idea came when I was working at flagship, you know, flagship being in the shipping, shipping is at the very end of the pipeline, right? When somebody is shipping, they already have a customer, they already have a platform, whatever it is to sell, they have the goods, they have everything, they're just looking to send their thing to the customer. And what we realized is that a lot of people had trouble with their restore too many options too complicated. For a lot of people, you know, I'm thinking, my mom, your mom, doing, you know, on Shopify, or WooCommerce, or anything like that. It's way too complex to set up everything. And it's complex. By nature, there isn't much that can be done to make it simpler, like second, you know, you have to set up just setting up Apple Pay, for example is you know, it's still technical, you have to bring a file on the on the web server. And so you have technical components in that then Can't be helped. But what we can do and where, you know, I come in with my company, is, I think we can help setting up everything and teaching people how to use their platform efficiently. Shopify, we had many people, customers that flagship that were using Shopify, but Shopify all the time, we had the customer, forwarding the email from Shopify and saying, just ask the plugin developer, as we are not supporting this as the plugin developer. And I don't think I understand their point of view, they're too big to worry about, you know, personal individual support. But the reality is the majority of people, they need a little bit of hand holding in this. And once the store is up and running, it's fine. They don't need to have the hand holding. But to get started, they need that I decided to start this, this aspect, in concert with my with my boss, we talked about it, and we decided it was better for them to stay focused on the shipping aspect. So we decided to do a partnership, they refer to me their customers with the e commerce stores and issues, and I helped them and it helps me to get their customer but it's it helps them to have customer with good running stores. Because at the end of the day, if the store is running, they do shipping. So it's really a win win on for everybody.

Tim Bourguignon 42:30
That is pretty cool. Analytical, this is really recent. Right? It's a couple months.

Patrick Leblanc 42:35
Yeah, it's very recent. Well, you know, to be totally transparent, COVID was really hard. We have we had an 18 year old baby at home months old, month old, the month old. Basically what happened is, at this point, I just went into depression felt like very crappy dad unable to do anything. And so I had to take medical leave for for two months, and to just, you know, recenter and find my my way back. And then in July, I just realized what I wanted to do. And you know, starting my own company is something that I always had in the back of my mind that I always pushed back because I thought I was not able to, to do it. And and then, you know, talking to the therapist, I just realized it's something that I really needed to do for myself. And so that's how I took the decision. And I basically jumped with no parachutes whatsoever. So I can't tell you how the landing is gonna go but right now I'm enjoying very much the flight. The flight it's, is it flying if you don't have any wings or anything? I don't know. But the free falling? Yeah, it's free falling. I'm enjoying the freefall. It's very, it's very invigorating. And I'm very you know, it's it's exciting. I'm very excited. I'm working a lot, but it's the good kind of work like the kind of work that motivates you to keep on going. So yeah,

Tim Bourguignon 44:14
very happy with that. I want to stay on this very last last piece, did you get any advice or any any thing that really shine shone through with your therapist or with your introspection? That is something that you want to give out to? To to newcomers now that you you had some sudden realization or maybe not so sudden realization? That's a very good question team.

Patrick Leblanc 44:37
I don't want to go into the cliche thing of you know, follow your heart and blah, blah, blah. But I guess it's a little bit of that. I think COVID for everyone, buddy, we we just realized we only have one shot at this life. We really do. And it comes with a lot of check and boundaries that are put upon us by society, our parents, our significant other, whoever, you know has importance on in your life, that limit and they don't mean bad. They just, you know, it's just because the way you were brought up, it limits what you think you're able to do. And I guess my, my advice is, if you feel that, you know, you need to do something for yourself, even if it sounds crazy, even if it sounds just out of this world and something that you know, is not entirely reasonable, then just do it. If you really think you need to do it for yourself, then just do it. And jump, just don't let excuses that you are bringing on yourself, stop you from doing it. Thank you.

Tim Bourguignon 45:49
Where would be the best place to get in touch with you? and start a discussion?

Patrick Leblanc 45:55
Yes. So you can reach me on twitter @patsleb, or on my website woogostores.com and I'm available if anybody has any questions for on WooCommerce or you know WordPress or even scaling WordPress, no problem. Give me a shout me an email and I'll be happy or tweet. I'll be happy to answer you.

Tim Bourguignon 46:20
You open for advices on on hating your studies as well. Sure.

Patrick Leblanc 46:25
Bring it. I'll be glad.

Tim Bourguignon 46:28
Awesome. Thank you very much. Thank you for for sharing your story.

Patrick Leblanc 46:33
Yeah, thank you.

Tim Bourguignon 46:34
And this has been another episode of developer's journey. We will see each other next week, bye. All right, this is Tim from a different time and space with a few comments to make. First, get the most of these developer's journey by subscribing to the podcast with the app of your choice, and get the new episodes automagically, right when the air. The podcast is available on all major platforms. Then, visit our website to find the show notes with all the links mentioned by our guests, the advices they gave us, their book, references and so on. And while you're there, use the comments to continue the discussion with our guests or with me, or reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn. Then a big big THANK YOU to the generous Patreon donors that help me pay the hosting bills. If you have a few coins to spare, please consider a small monthly donation. Every pledge, however small counts. Finally, please do someone a favor, tell them about the show today and help them on their journey.