#76 Wes Bos was born a teacher
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Wes Bos 0:00
So I did like an entire WordPress one day course with all these people who are really excited to learn WordPress. And that was really fun. And people said, like, wow, like, I really liked the way you teach, like you explain things. So simply. And I thought, like, oh, like, I have no idea how to teach properly. I just know how it makes sense in my head. And I'm just saying that.
Tim Bourguignon 0:28
Wes Bos 0:52
Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Tim Bourguignon 0:54
So let's roll back all the way to the beginning. When did your journey into software development begin in the first place?
Wes Bos 1:01
Tim Bourguignon 8:53
Awesome. That's really cool. Yeah, a bunch of things. So, yeah, let's go back a little.
Wes Bos 9:02
None of that was planned, either like that, if anyone's listening, like, that was just constant course correction, of like, Oh, this is working, this is working, this is working and being able to, like, just kind of follow follow your nose as to what's working and what's not.
Tim Bourguignon 9:18
Allow me to to go back to the beginning. It sounds as if you were and the, if you had the entrepreneur mindset from the very beginning, I'm already trying to to do stuff with whatever you have and try to, to make a living out of it. But the Create and and, and, yeah, be an entrepreneur. Yeah. Um, what was your idea into going into this, this curriculum at university, which sounds way formal, way more formal, way more enterprising, if I understood well,
Wes Bos 9:50
yeah, yeah, it is. It was very enterprising. Almost everybody who graduated from our program, either goes to work for a big bank, they become consultants. For like Deloitte or Price Waterhouse, Cooper, like companies like that. And for me, it was really just taking a look at, it was very enterprise II. And that was okay. So like going into it. I just like loved computers my entire life. And I didn't, I didn't really realize that like working for myself would be a thing. Like I always, like, I looked at these huge companies, I remember just like walking downtown and seeing these office buildings that just sprawled into the sky. And I was like, oh, man, like, wouldn't it be cool to work there and like, be able to, like, have a wicked office and, and to work on computers all day. And like, that was cool, but, and then that's kind of what I wanted. But I did always have this entrepreneurial mindset, I've got tons of stories about being the kid who picks pears and sells them on the side of the road, or we sold chocolates when I was in school, and I like think I made like, $40, I sold like 20 boxes of, of like, I sold hundreds of these little boxes of chocolates. And I always had that bug, but I also just really liked the idea of working for a big company. And then by doing those co Ops, which is like a six month placement in these different companies, I realize like, I hate working in companies and like, I hate working for these big, huge companies with this old outdated tech and nothing moves fast enough. And it's not really interesting to me and, and also like, I'm like, I'm making like some good cash, just building these websites on the side. Like, why don't I just keep doing that?
Tim Bourguignon 11:39
Make sense? Yeah. How did you did you stick to your studies for it was for five years. While not enjoying it so much.
Wes Bos 11:50
Um, I, I liked it. Like the finance stuff was interesting. To me, it was hard. The like, projects of like, we had a lot of like communication classes, which I thought were pretty cool. And I probably am very good at writing emails and communicating things to people and change management. So like, it was all interesting to me and to how it works. And a lot of it was just centered around big business. So I liked it. It was just at the end where I was just like, I was kind of like ready to move to the next step, which was like building my own. Like I was engaged. And I was ready to like, just start my life and like start building like, I just had no time to build websites. And I wanted to build websites all day long. So that's why I was checked out and ready to do it.
Tim Bourguignon 12:43
You said yeah, your your list of phone of customers already. And when you exited University, you are ready to go. Those customers were the ones you you gathered through the years and always the same. Are you getting? Or were you getting at that time new customers already? And how?
Wes Bos 13:00
Yeah, so I was on Twitter very early on. So Twitter was a much different place like 10 years ago. And it was very much entrepreneurs and techies who were excited about this thing where you could tweet at people and there was no politics. There was not hundreds of people, there was no like, I remember Leo Laporte, who's like the the this week in tech podcaster, he had the most followers 10,000. And he was the top of the like Twitter charts, right? Like it was very, very early days. And because of that we had these things called like tweet apps where you'd like go for beers with random people on Twitter. And that was really exciting. And you just I just met, like so many people who were starting up companies, and they're all very well connected. So once you build two or three really good websites, you get a reputation for someone who is reliable, and can get the job done. And that's extremely hard to find in somebody who's a freelancer. So like, once it's, it's same with any trade, anyone who has a good electrician, anyone who has a good contractor to work on their home, they almost don't want to tell you what their name is because they don't want to be too busy that they can't do any work for you. And that's the exact same thing happens to people who are working on working on websites, right, like good people are hard to find. And I feel like I wasn't like an amazing developer, but I was like, trustworthy and I got the work done. By the time I would set it had good communication skills, because the probably what I learned at school, so I think that was a big part of it. And the work just kept coming in coming in. Because I think because I focused so hard on being visible to those people, right like I didn't like once the work came in, I didn't stop. I still was blogging. I was still doing these workshops, things like that. I tried really hard to make sure that I was always visible once a few more
Tim Bourguignon 14:59
years. Time has been on.
Wes Bos 15:02
Um, it's hard to say because it's for me, it was mostly just being on Twitter. And that is not like a Twitter's not something I sit down and say like, now it's time to do the visible work, you know, like, it's, it's just something I do, it's just part of me. It's part of my personality is part of what I do love to interact with people. So for a lot of people that feels like a chore to them, and they think like, oh, like, do I have to put in like, an hour a day and like, then I'm, then I can be done. You know, like, to me, it was just, it's just part of it. So I honestly have no idea I was just keeping up with what was going on in the industry.
Tim Bourguignon 15:39
Fast forward to today, you know, a big part of your work is teaching and doing videos, but you're still programming websites on the side, right?
Wes Bos 15:46
I'm not doing any client work anymore, probably about two or three years ago, I sunsetted. My last client, which I was a little bit bummed about because I like doing, I love doing client work, there's always something different I feel like, because of all those years of client work, I have like an amazing. Just like I'm able to like look at things from different angles, because there's all kinds of different teams, they're all in, they all have different business needs. They all have different tech stacks. So being able to solve that problem, in different ways is important. So So these days, I have my course platform, which is a giant node and react JS application. And it handles everything from selling the courses, marketing is doing affiliates handling views, people can log in and watch the courses and and see what they have. So there's a lot that goes on there. And that's sort of how I keep my skills sharp these days is just hacking on that thing, and then building it out.
Tim Bourguignon 16:45
How did you find those topics? Are you zooming on knowing react
Wes Bos 16:50
for react? I just knew that it was something that was up and coming. But that's not my really advice to people this People always ask me, they're like, Hey, I'm thinking about doing a course on this, do you think it will sell? And that's the wrong question to ask because like, I'm just one person. And the reality is that like, what worked really well for me is that I had been blogging for a couple of years, and they were doing okay, but those Sublime Text blog posts that I did, were huge success. And that's just a testament to trying lots of little things, those blog posts took me three or four hours to put together YouTube video takes you a couple hours to throw up. And if you do, I don't know, 30 or 40 of them, one of them is going to be it's going to strike a nerve, and people are going to start asking for more of that. And it's going to get a lot of us and I think like once you hit that, then that's how you know what it is that you want to you should make something on. And then past that I people had just started to like me. And I was really into react. And I thought like, this is a brand new language everybody's sort of coming off of jQuery on to react jazz. So it was his I just I kind of knew that this would be a big thing for me. And luckily I timed it right because I released it just as react started to get popular.
Tim Bourguignon 18:14
Did you manage to own to understand why you this blog post about sublime experiment?
Wes Bos 18:20
Um, because it was something that everybody used, but not everybody, hardly anyone was really good at. And this idea of like one of the pics the big cells for it was like, you're like wasting time being unproductive in your editor? Like, why are you spending time on your tool when you should be spending time writing code? So plus, like, you look like a wicked coder, when you're just flying around on the editor, keyboard shortcuts and stuff like that, like everybody wants to get better at that, right? Like, it's frustrating when you can't code as fast as your brain can think. Right? So just being able to get good at that. I think that's why and I may never know why. But I do know that it was a need that was really kind of unfulfilled out there. At maybe at the time, there was a lot of other blogs, books about Sublime Text, but the way that I explained it are the things that I surfaced something hit a nerve there and they did super well. So I I took it and ran with it. Was
Tim Bourguignon 19:27
it an introduction to sublime or more advanced how to work tweaking reads and writes plugins and stuff.
Wes Bos 19:34
Tim Bourguignon 20:32
migration from sublime to two years ago.
Wes Bos 20:35
Yeah, well, I've almost everybody has has moved from arm to vs. Code already. But there's just a lot like, every time I release a video, people are always asking, like, how did you do that? Or like, what plugin are using? Or what theme is that? Things like that. It's kind of interesting to people
Tim Bourguignon 20:53
is a particular reason why you moved to LA two years ago,
Wes Bos 20:57
yeah, the sublime for like, for like a year, people didn't know, if the creator of sublime had abandoned it, he there was nothing, nothing from them. Like the the website wasn't updated, there was no new releases, emails would go on answered. And people sort of were just like, oh, like, not sure what the future of this editor is. And there was like things that we wanted added, people were passionate about it, and they wanted things added to it. And at the time, Adam started to gain popularity, but it was kind of slow, and the VS code came out. And they have just cranking out the features. And they added just so many nice features, and so many, it's like the right balance of UI, and just letting me have my code, you know, like some editors are a little bit too UI heavy, and they've got buttons for everything. And then like something like in Sublime Text, just the tooltips, you couldn't write a good tool tip. For the life view, there was no ability to do that. And VS code just gave you all these options to do it. And to theme it and it just worked well with things like es lint and prettier. It just worked well out of the box. So just a whole laundry list of men, this is 23% better in this aspect than then Sublime is and because of that, I think a lot of people made the switch.
Tim Bourguignon 22:23
Are you missing some some features in VS code nowadays? No, no, I can't think of I can't think of anything. I know PHP developers are still on sublime, because the PHP support is not great in VS code, but I never write PHP hardly anymore. So I don't have a problem with that. Switching gears a little bit. You said when you when you started teaching, you gave this this one day tutorial or workshop on WordPress. And you got some really good feedback about that. Where do you think you got the vibe from for teaching before that before that point in time
Wes Bos 22:57
Tim Bourguignon 26:23
Where do you get your inspiration for for thousands things to build?
Wes Bos 26:28
I just have like a running list of my computer. And anytime I think of Hmm, that would be fun to build. Or, or if you're on a website, and you see like, like stripe stripes. navigation is one of them. I'm like, Oh, that's a cool nav, I bet we could build that. And that's exactly what we did. We said, Okay, this is a cool now, how do we build this ourselves, and we just implement it ourselves. So anytime I have an idea, or anytime I see a neat thing, whether it's a UI that we want to rebuild, or whether it's a cool way to chunk up an array, I want to put that on the list. And we'll build that at some point in one of my courses.
Tim Bourguignon 27:07
And how important is the the right click View Source on the web to to explore those ideas that you see and see Oh, I do that.
Wes Bos 27:17
I don't usually do that. Because first I don't want to just like rip off their code. And I kind of want to like, see if I can do it myself. Right? Like I want to see if I can do it from scratch. So very rarely do I ever inspector view source on how something works. I'll just try to build it, build it out myself. And sometimes I'll go back and say like, is that how they did it? But quite honestly, not that important. The View Source of the web is getting harder and harder. Like if you inspect element on, like any modern application these days, you can learn a little bit of CSS here or there. But everything is so obfuscated and minified. And scoped that it's kind of hard to actually dig into it
Tim Bourguignon 27:59
through some of the translation and going from one language. Yeah, it's getting harder and harder. But that's fine. That's so also something I'm seeing I have a whole bunch of ideas of things, things I want to build. And actually, time is a problem. But never the the ideas of what to build, but that's true. I always meet some people. What can I do? What you mean? Yeah. Let's, let's assume, for instance, there's a there's a new framework that could replace react. That's not called a view. But let's say there's, there's something else coming after what, how would you would you go about and, and evaluated and and ask yourself, if it's, if it might be the next thing you should be teaching? How did you come up with some new material like this,
Wes Bos 28:48
I always tell people like, I don't predict, I just react to things. So like react was out for a couple years before I even tried it. And by the time I had tried it and got really into it, it had been gaining momentum. So like I kind of just like let some let something sit for a while and see if it's going to go anywhere. Like view was a good example, like, view came out a while ago, and now after maybe like three years is here to stay. And it's a serious contender in if you're going to pick one of these frameworks, right? And right now, there's another one, it's called spelt. And it's gaining some traction is starting to become popular. You hear a lot about it, but I'm sort of just sitting on my hands and waiting to see is it really going to be something that is worth doing a course on or something that's worth investing a lot of time on. And if it is then what my process for that is basically just like building a whole bunch of apps, making sure that I understand it, talking to experts about it, talking on Twitter about it, and just kind of just immersing yourself in that framework or that language Sure whatever it is, so that you can become somewhat of an expert on it.
Tim Bourguignon 30:04
Do you ever go to a scenario or something that you build over and over to compare frameworks to compare the way you build things?
Wes Bos 30:14
No, there's, there's like a to do MVC that does that. And that you just build a to do list and everything. But I honestly just tried to build something in like, I don't know, whenever I have a little app that aim to build myself for a little idea, something like that, I'll just just pick it up. So it's not always the exact same thing. I definitely make sure like, make sure this includes fetching data, storing data, user interactions, paging from one patient, like, you got to make sure you hit all of those. But the actual app I built might be different from from app to app, I'm
Tim Bourguignon 30:51
looking looking toward the future, where would you see your your business going in the next years.
Wes Bos 30:56
Um, I think just making more courses, I'm really happy with where I'm at right now. And I'm just making courses, people are really enjoying them. It's supporting me and my family, which is really cool. I get to do a lot of free courses, I get to release a lot of free content on YouTube, I tweet out a lot of these hot tips I call them or it's just a couple lines of code and explain something. And like, that's kind of like the perfect world for me is being able to like make money. And but also, I guess, support the community and teach people things. So react the reality of what's next. It's it's not creating this massive training Empire. It's not hiring a bunch of people out it's kind of just making courses and keep teaching people things that I think they should learn, you should use it to trigger words. Now. Let's speak it. Let's speak the signal. First, you said not hiring, a lot of people are used to working alone, do you
Tim Bourguignon 31:51
Wes Bos 31:52
I have an assistant who handles all of my support. So a huge burden on me is email, I get hundreds of like legitimate emails a day. Some of those are technical in nature. And those usually get diverted to my Slack channel. And then there is like a whole bunch of just like billing and invoicing for things like conferences and workshops and responding to questions and making purchase orders, things like that. That's that stuff is just busy work. And I have my assistant come and do all of that. All she handles all my email before it hits me. And then the stuff that needs me, it gets passed along. And I have another developer part time who helps me on my course platform, just implementing features, things like that. But but that's pretty much it. I'm not all that interested in becoming a manager, and and managing people and things like that. I just want to be able to sit down and sling some code
Tim Bourguignon 32:56
for you. Yeah, no, the trigger word was that was community. Yeah. Which communities? Are you? Are you involved?
Wes Bos 33:02
I think the web development community is like, I don't really know what they're called. But like people who like building websites, and that community primarily exists in a couple places. It's Twitter is where we talk day to day. Our podcast is, is fairly large, we get average 45,000 listens, per episode. So there's a huge community around that about listening and tweeting back questions after it's live, things like that. And then like conferences is probably another one as well, just meeting people at conferences and chit chatting with them having a beer, things like that.
Tim Bourguignon 33:41
Are you still involved with reason ladies learning?
Wes Bos 33:44
I am not right now. It's actually they've renamed themselves to Canada learning code, which is pretty cool. And then they have like kids and teens and women and it's pretty cool. I'm I moved out of the city, and most of the stuff was on weekends, and I'm pretty protective. About my evenings and weekends. That's family time. For me. At least right now. I just can't afford to be away from my family all that often. So I haven't been doing much of those.
Tim Bourguignon 34:17
The internet is waiting off. Do you have some resources that you that you follow along and things that you always go back to and and read or listen to or watch? Huh?
Wes Bos 34:31
Tim Bourguignon 36:44
That's good. That's good. Um, do you have a book that you come back to? Every so often?
Wes Bos 36:50
Never I that's one thing about me is I have never let me think about that. I don't think I've ever read a textbook. In my entire career, I never read. I've never read the things in university, things like that. I remember having a I got a course in, in university on like Cisco. Like, there's this, like, there's this like certification that you can get like cc Nat, Cisco certification, something like that. And we had to, like do a test that was very similar to that. Talking, how about IPS get assigned and broaden, broadcast and like you're just networking in general with computers. And I remember just like looking at the book, I'm like, this makes no sense to me. And I found this like, guy on YouTube that had like a three hour long YouTube video of him in a piece of paper. And he just explained the whole thing. I was like, this is so much better. And like maybe that was like an early reason why I started to do video, but I hardly ever read books for anything, which is weird because I like I like gobble down audiobooks. I listened to them like crazy, but I almost never will sit down with a paper book and read it all the way through, which is kind of weird, but I hear it more and more often, especially with developers that are younger than I am and they're getting into the industry.
Tim Bourguignon 38:15
This is this video thing seems to be a trend, skipping the the formal things and getting down to the to the bare metal and the on the way to do it. And I'm not sure if it's the same word in English vocalizing meaning meaning making it accessible for everyone.
Wes Bos 38:33
Wes Bos 38:35
It's it's definitely interesting. I think that it is a good medium for lots of things. But I also know that it's not a good medium for everybody. Like I hear from tons of people. It says, I rather a book, sorry, I can't buy your course. I'm like, that's fine. That's like, I'm not trying to please everybody by doing video. I'm just trying to please, a small subsection of people who like video who also like the frameworks that I use, and who also enjoy the way that I explained things.
Tim Bourguignon 39:04
So since we are we're talking about University, and we're closing on the end of October. So we, if you had one advice to give newcomers that are slowly coming out of university today, what advice do you have before they get they get on with their professional life? What would that be?
Wes Bos 39:19
I think, I see a lot of people come out of university. And and then they go, Okay, now what I guess I'll take a course and like, I guess I'll take like a do a couple of YouTube videos, and I'll learn to code. And at that point, it's probably it's not too late for sure. It's not too late. But it's it's hard. Because you've got crushing student debt. You need to be making money. So like you have to like also get a job. And I hear from a lot of people who are like, three or four years into to their job and they're like, I don't really like this. I want to become a web developer. And then there's not a whole lot to show for what they've been working on. So My advice would be is like, start working in public, start joining in on the conversation. Start a little YouTube channel, even if you don't know what you're doing, and you don't think the work that you're creating is very good. Start putting it out there. Because that's going to leave a little bit of a trail you're going to get you give yourself a little bit of momentum. And before you know it, that's going to be a huge asset for whether it is you want to like go in which direction that you want to go especially forget, even if you just want to get hired by a company having this amazing, like, back catalogue of work is incredible. Amen. Yeah, thanks.
Tim Bourguignon 40:37
So, if the listeners wanted to, to continue the discussion with you would Twitter BTO the appropriate place to be?
Wes Bos 40:44
Yeah, if you want to talk to me, I'm usually on Twitter and I talked about that a lot. So I'm Twitter at West boss, w e. SPO. S, my website is West boss calm, you can take a look at that has, I'm on Instagram a lot as well. I'm more tack on on Twitter, and more just life. In general, like I've been, I've been hacking these little 12 volt like jeeps for my kids, like you know, like these, these little cars that the kids drive in. I've been like hacking them and buying them. I found a couple in the garbage and I fix them up. So like, like stuff that's like not developer, but it developer adjacent. Like if you're a developer you're probably interested in, in this kind of stuff. It's kind of cool. So that's on my Instagram, which is at West boss as well, um, do you
Tim Bourguignon 41:32
have anything coming up in the next month that you want to plug in?
Wes Bos 41:36
Tim Bourguignon 42:21
I'm anxious to see you in real life at conferences. Joe, do you have anything lined up?
Wes Bos 42:25
Ah, um, I just finished off my last one in New York. I'm not doing a whole lot right now. Because of I have. I just had a new baby boy. And I can't do a whole bunch of traveling. So nothing. I don't think I have anything on the books right now. But I usually will put them on my website if I've got something coming up.
Tim Bourguignon 42:46
Gotcha. Gotcha. Well, fantastic. Wes, thank you very much for this for this overview of your journey. Very beginning to all your courses and what's coming next. Fantastic. Thank you very much.
Wes Bos 42:57
All right. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Tim Bourguignon 42:59
And this has been another episode of developer's journey. We'll see you next week. Bye. Dear listener, if you haven't subscribed yet, you can find this podcast in iTunes, Google music, Stitcher, Spotify, and much more. Head over to WWE WWF journey dot info. To read the show notes, find all the links mentioned during the episode. And of course, links to the podcast on all these platforms. Don't miss the next developer's journey story by subscribing to the podcast with the app of your choice right now. And if you like what we do, please rate the podcast, write a comment on those platforms, and promote the podcast and social media. This really helps fellow developers discover the podcast was fantastic journey. Thank you.