#80 Joseph Young, code & music composer and conductor
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Joseph Young 0:00 A lot of my background beyond piano was in music composition, which is very much, you know, both creating things from scratch, but you never really creating things from scratch, right? You're taking ideas that you've heard from other pieces of music and things that enter your head, and you're putting them together in a new way. And so I feel very much like that. When I'm sitting down to architect a new project. It's a composition to me, you know, it's, and it's and it's never something that is entirely from scratch. It's always building on the shoulders of giants that came before us.
Tim Bourguignon 0:41 Hello, and welcome to developer's journey. The podcast shining a light on developers lives from all over the world. My name is Tim Bourguignon, and today, I receive Joseph Young. Joseph is a US military veteran who later became a software developer. He quickly became frustrated with the way traditional companies run and founded his own web design development company, where he serves as a director of architecture. The company is remote, full time there is 30 hours, employees define their own roles, and they select what project they want to work on. And a portion of the profits is used to do pro bono work for inspiring organizations. Sounds like a weird place. I'm sure we're going to talk about this. He's also in the process of launching a paid apprenticeship program to introduce more people to the world of Dev. And I sure hope we're going to hear about this as well. Joseph, welcome to the journey.
Joseph Young 1:47 Thank you. It's wonderful to be here.
Tim Bourguignon 1:48 It's my pleasure. There's a whole bunch of topics I want to talk to you about. So let's get rolling. Um, how far in the past is the beginning of your developer's journey?
Joseph Young 1:58 Oh gosh, I would say Probably the age of seven or eight. I very distinctly remember sitting in a school computer, I think in a reading class in third grade, right in the middle of the room. And I think I'd finished my homework and start so I started exploring what else was on the computer and I discovered quick basic on that computer. I still remember what it looked like on the computer screen and everything. And back then quick basic had a really good Help system that went into all this detail about all the keywords and stuff that you could use. And and the programs that you wrote back then, and quick, basic, you know, were very simple. And they were basically interpreted line by line. And so I just started reading that documentation, and started getting more and more excited about the things that I could get a computer to do. And just started playing with it. You know, one of the first keywords I remember coming across was called play and play in quick basic meant, you type out a series of notes Afterwards, after the key word and your PC speaker would actually play those notes. And so you could get your, your, your PC speaker to basically play songs for you. And so that was one of the first things that I did. I also remember drawing pictures on the screen I remember being introduced to FL statements through like basic chat bots and things like that, that I would make, you know, where I would get the computer to answer me based off of something that I would type back to them. And that's kind of where my fascination started, and it's really hung on to me ever since.
Tim Bourguignon 3:30 Cool. Do you remember what was the the most fascinating aspect of it?
Joseph Young 3:37 I think, in general, it was just that idea that with plain language, you could tell a computer to do something new that it had never previously before done. Something that you wanted it to do rather than something that you know, a different team had built a piece of software for that kind of required you to do The things that they wanted the software to do, now you had this blank slate, right, and you could and you could just do really anything that the language permitted you to do, and start combining things together to, to actually solve really interesting problems and get that get that getting the electricity that's coursing through a computer to do things that were actually very human and very relatable and actually solve things that were that were in your brain and there was just something that I always thought was beautiful about that.
Tim Bourguignon 4:36 Were you right away this this creative type? Or do you have a phase where you're using the computer as a as a user of something that somebody else created?
Joseph Young 4:47 I was very much on the creative side. At first, I had a background in music, almost my entire childhood. I was sitting in front of a piano from the age of three. And so that's why I was interested in you know, getting a computer to play music at first, that was the first thing that kind of made me fascinated. But as I as I kind of proceeded I didn't actually do very much development work beyond what I did in my spare time at school, my my, like I said, My childhood was very, very music driven. And so you know, from time to time, every, you know, couple of months or so, I would I would jump back into our home computer or something. But it was always in the back of my head and there was always some interesting pattern and interesting I think relationship between what I was doing in music, which was you know, creating things from scratch and and in a completely different way. And what one could do with software, which was also creating things from scratch, kind of both using a language you know, one using a language of music and one using the language of, you know, whatever programming lingo You're building. And I always felt kind of a kinship between those two things. And so I think that's what kept it all in the back of my head throughout my childhood and kept me at least just as a hobby, just very interested in, in the power of technology.
Tim Bourguignon 6:15 Would you mind digging a bit deeper in this analogy between the language of music and the language of computers? Sure.
Joseph Young 6:24 So So I have a Master's certificate from Berklee in arranging and orchestration. And so a lot of my background, beyond piano was in music composition, and which is very much you know, both creating things from scratch, but you never really creating things from scratch, right? You're taking ideas that you've heard from other pieces of music and things that enter your head, and you're putting them together in a new way. And so, so I feel very much like that. When I'm sitting down to architect a new project. It's a composition to me, you know, it's and it's It's never something that is entirely from scratch, it's always building on the shoulders of giants that came before us, right? Because they're constantly, you know, through throughout the history of tech and software development. There are periods of different breakthroughs of architecture that build on each other. And we're all trying to kind of discover the same thing, right, which is how to tell the story or in this case, how to get a computer to tell the story of a very complex thing in the simplest way possible. And I feel that way about music as well. Right? So to me, the most beautiful music is something that tells a beautiful story in a very simple way. And that's the thing that I'm always chasing from an architectural perspective. When I'm when I'm developing
Tim Bourguignon 7:46 this is a composition compiles or doesn't compile it easy analogy there as well. I do
Joseph Young 7:51 actually. So so because the act of composition is essentially writing notes. down on a sheet of paper, right? And so the act of actually writing those notes down, and then the act of coming back and performing them, or having an orchestra perform them or having a computer perform them, right, if you put them into into a music program, those are very similar to the act of composing the code in the first place. And then finally building and running it. And, and so that that is an interesting analogy. That's very cool.
Tim Bourguignon 8:29 I'm not really musical. I tried to play the guitar for a while, but I'm particularly not gifted in there in this. And so that's, that's very nice. Very interesting. Interesting power, huh? Very cool. Very cool. Okay, so so you're passionate about software development. So obviously, you became a software developer.
Joseph Young 8:50 I did not at first, so I left the once I graduated high school. Within a year I actually joined the US Air Force, and did air traffic control for about nine years before even really doing anything at all with software, it's sort of towards the end of my career there, when I knew that I was going to get out of the military. I picked up a C book, because I knew that I was most interested in C sharp as a language, because I just felt like there was something about it, at least to me that spoke to me and was just a very beautiful language that was, you know, again, built on the shoulders of giants. And so I actually picked up a C book, so that I could follow that journey of C to c++, which is the next book that I picked up all the way through to C sharp so that so that I could learn the context of where the dotnet library came from. And you know, why the language was structured in the way that it was and what problems that C sharp was solving that c++ couldn't solve on its own or that secret and solve on its own and why there was that evolution. And that really starts to fascinate me and get me back into the world of software and sort of catch me up. Because I knew that I wanted to make a career change, that nine years of air traffic controller was enough. And so so then I had about two months of vacation saved up at the end. And so I spent that period, just desperately looking for my first job during while I was in the military. I got a Bachelor's in computer science to kind of check that box on the resume. But but ended up getting lucky and getting my first Junior development job at a company called EF Johnson technologies. They, they are not a software company. They develop radios for police and firemen. But they had at the time an internal business team that was building internal software projects to kind of run their company and to do dashboarding and to do quoting and ordering, you know, both internally and for their customers. And so I joined that team And, and the rest is kind of history. And we're
Tim Bourguignon 11:03 gonna get to that in a minute. I was the the process of getting this first job,
Joseph Young 11:09 it was surprisingly easy, which I'm sure we'll talk about. I am a token a straight white male in the United States. And so I, I, you know, as as difficult as I might have felt like it was or as lucky as, as I felt like it was, relatively I've learned over the years that it was it was relatively easy. I think that that during the interview process, of course, my passion shone through and I just the the members of the team that interviewed me happened to put a lot of stock in passion over experience, which was kind of one of the first things that turned me on to to the idea of, you know, not just being about a resume and and not just being about, you know, building a Your own personal portfolio are spending a lot of time checking the boxes and going to college and doing all of these kinds of things. But that maybe there was a world in which passionate hunger and drive was something that that
Tim Bourguignon 12:15 people would look for you remember how you communicated this passion?
Joseph Young 12:19 I think a lot of it comes naturally. There was somebody in particular, that that latched on to me in that interview, from the very beginning, just because we shared a lot of common things. He was also in the Air Force, he was also a piano player. And he was also somebody who thought a lot like me, which was less about, you know, how many languages do you know or how many projects have you successfully worked on and more about the way that you think? And so, as much as I sort of struggled in that in that interview process to you know, go through the normal, you know, things that that most people are used to, like, you know, whiteboarding and you know how to solve this particular problem. And then run through these algorithms and things like that. He helped translate the underlying passion that I was trying to put forth into something that that he knew that others would understand. And so that was just basically a, a bit of luck that ended up landing me my first job. I remember that the, my, my closest coworker I found out six months later, was very much a no when it came to me and he was the he was the other main developer, lead developer in that team. And he was just writing no all over my resume because, you know, I didn't have experience and I didn't kind of have the, you know, all the boxes checked or anything like that. And so I just really got lucky that there was somebody there who saw things from a slightly different angle. That allowed me to get my first job.
Tim Bourguignon 13:57 Cool, cool. Just because I have absolutely No idea about the military and only what they see on Hollywood movies and how was it to go from working nine years in, in in the military job in a control tower purpose
Joseph Young 14:17 to a devilment job. How was this culture shock? Was there a cultural shock? There was very much so a culture shock. The a lot of my time in the military, especially as I, as I progress throughout the years, further into my career in the military and started figuring out how the hierarchies work and things like that. I started kind of naturally, and this is the worst place to ever do. So right? Isn't the US military naturally rebelling? A lot against those rules? Because I felt like there were a lot of pieces of those rules that didn't make a lot of sense to me, right. Like they rely very heavily on time spent in the middle of Right. And so your bosses end up being more than anything, just people who have been in longer than you rather than a merit based thing, right where where, you know, if you have better ideas and you have the drive to, to do what their job is, they're in that position rather than you because they've put in the time. And so so those kinds of things started bothering me, especially as I started progressing through those ranks. Because even even looking up through the hierarchy, you know, and being mad as we all are mad at various things that our bosses do. I started feeling like it was also unfair, that I was just naturally falling into supervisory positions and things like this. When those that were coming in after me did not have even the opportunity to be in the same seat that I was in just because I had been in a few years longer than that. And so that started kind of eating at me and, and and that sort of combined with the general stress of air traffic control. led me to basically want to run an experiment, which I tend to do often, and just completely change my entire life and try the the civilian world and figure out what the what the similarities and differences were between the military and civilian worlds. Because while I was in the military bubble, of course, everything that I was rebelling against, I felt like oh, I want to do the opposite of that. I want to feel the opposite of that, just so I can have additional data points and know like, when you are now in a world, where potentially your your success is based on the things that you do yourself rather than just biding your time and, and you know, and taking tests well and, and kind of, you know, checking all the boxes. What would I do in that world? You know, and is that world, as does that world have as many pros as I thought it had when I was, you know, in the bubble of the military, or their cons that I didn't see. And so I just took that leap and hope that I was able to successfully manage that career transition. And you know, ended up getting lucky in doing so, but but that's basically the story.
Tim Bourguignon 17:19 It's been a few years now. So how about these pros and cons? What would you say was respectively
Joseph Young 17:24 and so so it has, it's been about nine years now. But five of those years was in two different jobs. I spent three years in my first job and then I moved to an actual software company who was doing work for primarily a single large client. And so I got the experience of kind of internal software and then the experience of kind of a boutique software company for a couple of years. And my takeaways from a pros and cons perspective of the civilian world of tech was really that there were just a lot of things that were unfair. And I didn't quite know whose fault it was. And I didn't know why they were unfair. And I didn't, you know, I hadn't done enough research to know what the origin of a lot of the unfair things that I'd seen was, but I just knew that something didn't sit right with me. And, and it's funny, the transition that I made between my second job and finally, starting, the company that I have now was sort of a so I was on vacation. I just taken I think, a week of vacation to because I was burning out and you know, there's been major projects and so I just needed to get away. But I was at home and I very distinctly remember this the wild I was at home I received a work email. I was lounging in bed watching and i don't know if you've seen this show but the very first episode of the very first season of a show called Mr. Robot yeah and so so that that show that episode was talking about the you know, this this evil corporation and and you know, the bureaucracy of it and how you know, all corporations go to evil and that there's this you know, there's this lone character who is who's trying to fight and trying to make the world into a different thing and trying to use his leverage and uses use whatever power that he could have, really through the power of tech to try and, and, and equalize things. And in the middle of that episode, Iris, I received an email from the HR department of my workplace, saying something like, Hey guys, we just wanted to let you know that your health insurance deductibles were are going up by 100% next year. When I know good and well that they were making millions and millions of dollars and, and there was something about that that was the straw that broke the camel's back that made me think you know what, while I'm on vacation sitting right here, I'm just going to quit right now. And just move off into the, into the world by myself. And I feel like I can do these things, hopefully in a better way. Or at least I can run experiments to maybe teach myself and hopefully teach others what might be wrong about about this world tech. And so, so I just kind of decided to quit on the spot. And so I responded to that email and CC the CEO and said, I'm done. And I never came back to work and they never saw me again.
Tim Bourguignon 20:42 Wow,
Joseph Young 20:43 I took the so there was a designer that's a that's a really good designer that I had worked with, at my first job that I actually helped hire at my second job because he introduced me to the power of what I I like to call design driven development, especially on the website, like I really, really believe that. That any development that has any sort of user interface, the user interface should be developed first. And then that should become the spec for development to occur. Because when the opposite happens, which tends to be the case, especially for you know, software agencies, at least here in the US that don't tend to have empathy for design, you end up with things that don't have a good user experience and don't have and haven't solved for the person who is looking at your app, the problems that they actually want to solve, because they don't care about the back end. And they don't care about, you know, having to learn your thing. They want a good user experience. And that starts with design. And so he taught me that and he kind of showed me the way to that. And so I stole him from the first job and took the second job. And then and then when I quit, we had been kind of talking about maybe, you know, trying to do our own thing or building our own app on the side. I convinced him to start do creative with me. And we became equal partners. And, and then and then just started co creative. And so he ended up leaving about a year into it and going back to that second job. But but but he was he was very he was very what's the word very instrumental in in starting because we it led to us becoming what I kind of always felt like like especially web software agents you should become which is a design centric development firm that always you know believes in the power of design first and then development that that kind of feeds off of the design and the user experience that that that the design team invents.
Tim Bourguignon 22:50 Okay, back this zagging so you quit on the on the spot? Yes. And you somehow I've already toyed with the idea to do this, but you didn't have any, any customers, you didn't have a fixed idea. No. Anything ready to take you through that?
Joseph Young 23:10 Well, and so so this was one of the things that my own, I guess, privilege and my own experience and and, you know, being the token developer who'd gone up, you know, quickly through the ranks. I, I had a good salary, I had lots of savings, I had a good I had at least enough safety in that front for it to be less risky than it would did it might be for others. And so, so the combination of all those things, right, you know, like, of course, it was entering into a completely different world that I'd never done right. Like, I'd never tried to start a company. I had no idea what it was about. Most of the things that designer and I had been talking about was just doing a side project right like Just seeing kind of where it turned and and where it led us. But once I decided to formally leave that second job, I kind of knew that the only way that I could do what I wanted to do was to was to do it on my own. And so I just kind of started figuring things out. And that was when I started running experiment after experiment after experiment after experiment. Over the last, you know, now it's been four years, learning from the failures of all of those experiments, and just slowly but surely figuring out you know, what works and what doesn't work, and being okay with failing and being okay with, you know, the roller coaster and all of those things. And so, so that's, that's been my journey ever since is just constantly being okay with taking the risk and running the experiment, knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen is that the universe will tell me what I think got wrong in my original hypothesis, so that I can learn from it and try something else, you know, and pivot and try again and pivot and try again.
Tim Bourguignon 25:10 But you have employees, right?
Joseph Young 25:12 I do. We have we've, I think we're a team of 20. Now,
Tim Bourguignon 25:15 how long does it take to get the first employees? So
Joseph Young 25:19 So I think we ended up hiring our first developer about, I would say, nine months into the journey. So at first it was just, you know, me as the developer and and this other person is the designer and he would design the stuff and I would develop, you know, the full stack of it. And we were just kind of working on our own internal projects. And we got, you know, we got a contract with somebody that we had known in the past that had moved on to a new company, which helped a little bit and started bringing a little bit of money. The first person that we hired, though, was a bootcamp graduate. Had a Bachelor's in anthropology and decided she was interested in, in tech and went to a C sharp boot camp. And we found her through a Reddit post. That's how we that's how we did our first job posting. And she responded and there was something about her that just showed kind of immediate hunger and passion and desire to use the power of tech to help others. She had, she had kind of ended her boot camp journey by coming back to that boot camp and being a and being an assistant, Anna Anna, and teaching others that had come, you know, after her and, and we just kind of took a chance on her and I mean, within a year or less. She was running circles around any other developer I've ever worked with in my entire life. And so there was something about that experience. For me, that made me realize that in most cases, all you have to do is surround people like that with the support that they need. And give them the room that they need to learn the things that they need to learn or want to learn. And kind of let them bounce around and let them figure out what it is that they enjoy doing best and, and instead of trying to get them to fit a job description, hire the person and let the person find what it is that they can contribute to the company. Because it's always going to be something good and it's gonna end up being something that they're passionate about. And if they can just come to work every day, doing almost nothing but what they're passionate about every day, and you can build a team of those kinds of people, then, then that's when magic stuff really starts happening. But
Tim Bourguignon 27:51 that's only if the environment isn't poisonous enough to kill this creativity.
Joseph Young 27:58 Right. And that's the heart This thing and that's that's been the focus of the vast majority of the experiments that I've been running because I just never understood how companies thought that the fostering of creativity and the you know, fostering overall talent was all about the paycheck that you received and about being able to offer a bunch of money to people. And, like, on the other hand, about trying to fit as many hours into a workweek as possible, right, and things like that, like trying to figure out how to build enough of a hierarchy so that these companies essentially become factories, where people get lost in cubicles doing nothing, but, you know, working on a function for, you know, the next six weeks of their life that is, you know, the tiniest thing ever, and they never understand where their work fits into the context of the larger thing. And so we just kept running experiment after experiment after experiment, and most of those experiments ended up being as opposite Sit as we could possibly come up with to what the standard approach for doing things were. And so, you know, we from the very beginning, we're doing a 30 Hour Workweek, because I just did not believe that anything beyond 30 hours was, was any world in which most people could stay creative without either eventually burning out or pretending that they were working more than 30 hours, but still being stuck inside of, you know, inside of the walls of a company hanging around a water cooler or trying to, you know, trying to make friends with colleagues, rather than using that time at home, doing their normal life with their normal friends, you know, and having a better work life balance there so that when they did come back to work, the work that they did was, you know, from a place of them being rested and being passionate about what they were doing and in all of that, it's the same reason that we we We went straight for 100% remote, because I feel like most companies still who are saying, Oh, you know, we're gonna try remote, they put all of these rules around it right. And so you have to clock in at a particular time, they have to make sure you're working, you have to be constantly active on slack or other chats, you have to, you know, you, you have to check in things all the time so that people can, you know, have that warm fuzzy that you're working. And we don't do any of that we just trust by default. And so, so, and it's worked, I mean that the number of discipline issues or managerial issues or anything like that, that you always hear about when you hear about, especially switching to 100% remote environment, just have never existed for the entire four years that we've done this. And we've we've been able to maintain a development velocity and design velocity that is, you know, three times faster than then, in at least the experiences that have had with other agencies and with the places that I've worked in, just by trusting by default, that's all it takes.
Tim Bourguignon 31:06 How do you view screen candidates or vet candidates to have this? candidates that that will not just adhere to this to this mindset, but really strive with it?
Joseph Young 31:22 So that's also an interesting story. I do not believe in interviews, I believe in trials. And so I think, to a person, every single person that that that works at Cobo now has come in through a process where, you know, maybe we've had a conversation with him or whatever, but we haven't taken him through, you know, the rigorous four round set of interviews that you know, that most people in tech are used to. Instead, we move very quickly to Hey, you know, you know, we think you're cool. We like your story. Do you want to come work? For us on a full project that will pay you for for, you know, 10 hours a week or five hours a week, if you can, you don't even have to quit your job, let's just try each other out and see how, see if, if you like the environment, see if, if you're a good fit with us, and we'll pay you for it. And you can work on cool projects with us and get to know, you know, we can get to know each other. And as long as it takes for us to kind of figure that out, we end up investing much less than those who spend, you know, 10s of thousands of dollars on a recruiting firm, to post a resume on indeed.com to, you know, to get a bunch of candidates that that basically are vetted through their resume, you know, which which is just no indication of the person whatsoever. And so you end up having, you know, 20 interviews with people trying to find the right fit, but then those interviews are also performances and so you end up not really knowing about the person and the person ends up not knowing anything about you or your company. Until they actually come to work the first day. And so I didn't like that I didn't like the idea of performing in order to get in the door. And I wanted to find a way to get them in the door and given them a chance and open that door for them to see how we really fit, you know, because sometimes it's not a fit, you know, but it's up to us as a company to take that risk and invest, it's not up to them as a person to try and embellish their resume and come up with interviewing techniques and all of these kind of things that all these performance based things that they're used to, it's up to us to invest in, do you
Tim Bourguignon 33:33 face candidates, that's actually where all will become a very good fit, but during this phase, you realize that they have never worked this way and they have everything to learn and they are struggling with it. But you see potential anyway.
Joseph Young 33:47 Yes. And it is more common than not actually, for some reason, almost every person that that has had started in that trial process in sub I would say 60 to 70%, at least completely disappearing for up to a couple of weeks. And just being like, I don't know about this, and I don't feel like you know, because it's so different because it's immediately like hundred percent remote and you set your schedule and you set everything and, and, and, you know, you bounce around and kind of find your own role. Most people, especially if they have experience in more traditional roles, they don't, I guess they don't know what to do with that at first. And so they go through this, this, this period, in which I mean, I have no idea what's going on in their mind, but I can only imagine that they're introspecting or that they're, you know, freaking out a little bit and, and, and we just hang on to them during that period, because at this point, we know that it's coming. And instead of getting mad at them and saying hey, you know, you didn't do your five hours this week or whatever. We use that moment to kind of Just have conversations with him and ask them like what you know, like, like, like, what is it that made you not? Do what you know what you thought you're gonna do this week? And how can we help you with that? Because once they hit past that, and they find something that they're genuinely interested in, then that moment in which they light up, you know, and all of a sudden, they're very passionate about something, they've found some project that we've been working on, and they're like, Oh, my gosh, you know, I've been thinking about something like that over the last couple of years. It'd be really cool to work on that or just something that kind of lights them up. Then, you know, almost inevitably The rest is history. And in the four year period of, of our of the people who've been full time, nobody has left. Everybody is still around.
Tim Bourguignon 35:51 Wow, that's a feat in itself.
Joseph Young 35:55 I mean, it to me, it means we're doing something right because instead of being all About the hierarchy and all about the structure and all about, you know, well, I've been here longer than you are. I'm the boss, right? I'm the founder and CEO. I just consider myself for example, as just playing a different role. And my role just happens to be maintaining a higher level context. But that doesn't mean I'm more important. It just means that nobody else has to maintain that context, right? Like, they do what they do best. I do what I do best. And if we can both do that, then we're working alongside each other. And we're both defining the direction of the company, instead of just me in general, defining the direction of the company and making everybody who works for the company, follow some path that they may or may not
Tim Bourguignon 36:42 want to follow. That's easily one. One of the questions I want to ask the title using their bio is director of architecture and not CEO or CTO or CEO or whichever, which is unusual, because I
Joseph Young 36:56 don't it's I think, I don't like the idea. Have an overarching executive team. More and more, I'm calling myself a CEO just because that ends up being the closest to the role that I'm playing, because I'm defining kind of the executive path of, of, of making sure that things are continually executing. And that's the word that most people like to use. But that the reason why I always wanted to call myself director of architecture is because from a product perspective, that was the thing that I was doing. But I was doing it both from a software angle and from the architecture of the company as well, which is very much the same thing. Right? It's it's, it's coming up with patterns and running experiments and trying to figure out the most simple pattern that can actually do good things in both of those fields. I'm also a big believer in and I think I feel like other companies have tried this because they see a path to it being a thing, but I don't feel like most have done it correctly, is the idea of a very flat organization. And so we've played around with the idea of basically making everybody a director of something, right. Like if you came in and as a, and as a, as a as an employee alongside everybody else, you felt like you had a role defined for yourself, that you that you were basically the expert on, in that in that company. And if you really go down to it, every employee kind of has that story, no matter where they work, right. They're always there's always something that they are best at. And that also tends to align very well with their passions. And so why can't they be the director of that for that company? Because that's what they're doing right? If they're being surrounded by people who will allow them to set that that path for the thing that they're most excited about and have the most expertise on or want to build the most expertise on? Why not give them the ability to set the direction for that, you know, as big or as small as it is. And so so there's something about that, that I still think is beautiful. And I'm not exactly sure how to set it up from an organizational perspective. But I very much do not believe that an executive team is doing anything more important than the rest of the team. And so I very much do not like that idea of, of the tiers of teams. This is fantastic.
Tim Bourguignon 39:35 But that means everyone must then have all the information.
Joseph Young 39:42 That's one thing that we have still not figured out. There was there's a book by Ray Dalio called called principles, I believe. And he's, he's a hedge fund manager. Or he was in the US and he built anything He wrote this book about all the things that he was trying to learn while building a hedge fund. And for some reason, a lot of the things that he stood for, and the way that he that he, he thought about the way to build companies spoke to me, because I felt like the path of his company, he was trying to basically build a different kind of hedge fund. And so he was running experiments very much like we were. And so the path that he that he took, led him to a point when he hit about 20 people, and the biggest problem that he was trying to solve at that point was, how can we make it so that everybody knows everything? So that they have enough context to be able to, you know, to answer or to answer the problems that are in front of them in a way that still aligns with the context of what everybody else is doing? And in practice that is insanely hard. He actually tried a couple of experiments. He started by recording every single meeting at the company and then posting for other people to like, I guess listen to in their spare time. And obviously that was like, Oh my god, like, everybody's, you know, spending 20 hours a day watching these badly edited videos about meetings and stuff. And so then he hired a whole team to edit those videos down into little summaries. And I'm not and so I'm not sure where that led or if that worked well or anything, but but that that's always a problem is that it's that context. And to be honest, we haven't solved it yet. Because the more the more the more that we grow especially. And the more for example, context that I have to keep across an increasing array of projects. If I'm, if I'm still billed as the person who's going to maintain that high level context of what's going on, especially architectural II, the harder that it gets, right, because there's only so much room in any of our brains. And so, what our plan is to try and solve that is To start breaking kuvo itself into more manageable pods that may or may not be geo located but we like the idea of geo locating just for just so that for those people who are out in the middle by themselves, you know and are working remote but they might be surrounded by other people that they like to work with and want to meet up with or whatever that that when they want to meet up, they can go meet up at a coffee shop and work together end to end things like that. But that way there there there starts becoming a US a bunch of smaller groups that are still sort of following the principles of Coolio but are filling all of the same roles that we as 20 people are filling and then they start growing on their own right and then as you continue to, to you know to get past that that point of of you know having too much context to have to deal with you just keep splitting. We have no idea if It's gonna work but that's the the next experiment that we're gonna probably start running next year, because we're right at that point where we're, we're struggling with that,
Tim Bourguignon 43:07 through reminds me of reinventing organization from Frederick Loewe, where he describes exactly that kind of system of entities running with 12 people living a group, and really going on on their own following the principles of the whole but really organically growing
Joseph Young 43:30 on their own way. Interesting. I'll have to read that. I'm always reminded of Google, I mean, because Google did that from from a perspective of just building their own internal teams like they built little teams of you know, four to six people for a while that ended up building gigantic projects because the roles on that team actually ended up being being very conducive to building a you know, a full and good product, and they went very far with that.
Tim Bourguignon 43:53 I feel we could continue talking for hours before before the time box closing closed, is completely honest, which is almost now doing a couple of words about this apprenticeship program you're building.
Joseph Young 44:05 Sure. So it's brand new. We haven't completely opened it up to the public yet. We're just kind of cherry picking from from, from a group of people that we have come across over the years as we're kind of building this program up to make sure that we do it in the right way. But the biggest thing that we're trying to do there, especially once we open it up to the public, is we want to be able to use this same. This same platform that we've been building, to be able to directly give opportunities to people who otherwise have not had the opportunities to enter into tech. That's our that's our goal. Because we don't believe in checking boxes and resumes. We don't believe in the you know, having to go to college or anything like that. We believe in hunger over everything. And so we want to start directly surrounding people with that ability to grow kind of under our tutelage and have access to Other people in our team and work on cool projects and work on real projects, but have, you know, half of their time doing nothing but learning, but it's a fully paid system. I do not believe in what some of the, you know, for profit schools are doing like lambda school that, that does deferred tuition. I hate that because I feel like it's just taking money from people who have not had opportunities. And, and, and so I want to do something different with that apprenticeship program and, and just bring them into the fold and and get them working on real projects and and have them grow with us. Because I just feel like that's, that's beautiful. And so once that becomes public, that's going to be our primary way to grow. I don't know when the next time I'm going to hire a senior developer is going to be I would rather hire that person who has tried and tried and tried and tried and not checked the boxes, but is so passionate about doing interesting things with tech and and And either coding or designing or you know, doing marketing work, to move needles and make the world a better place. And so those are the people that I'm going to be looking.
Tim Bourguignon 46:08 Is this something a program that could apply for seniors as well?
Joseph Young 46:12 Yeah, maybe I mean, so. So our, our initial goal is to try and eat and do our part to do whatever we can do to equalize the opportunity. And so seniors have opportunities, right. And there's a gigantic group of people that that just haven't yet. And so that's where we're going to be focusing on first. But if there's a way to I think on this on the senior side, what I would almost love more to do is to infect other companies that already have this, this group of senior developers with some of the ideas that we know work better and get them to better To just work differently, right and so, so use all of the talent that they've built, but but treat the talent, the way that the talent should be treated and surround them with the things that they need to be surrounded with and give them the ability to contribute to the growth of the company and everything the way that they and because we can't do it all ourselves, right, we can't hire every single person that we would ever want to even through this apprenticeship program. But I would love to have a bunch of companies that I know about that when we do have to say no to somebody who wants to come into our apprenticeship program, we at least have a place to send them and it still feels like that's too far away from me. And that that that you know that makes me sad for a bunch of different reasons but I would love to figure out how to how to make that not be the case and smells like like
Tim Bourguignon 47:47 white papers, conference dogs and
Joseph Young 47:52 pretty much and
Tim Bourguignon 47:54 let's let's make sure they're the first cohort is coming in of apprentices. What would be the the one advice you're going to give them,
Joseph Young 48:02 I think it would be, first find your passion. Because if you find that you will find all of the support in the world from us. And we will surround you with whatever we can surround you with to, to, to, to grow that passion of yours because whatever that passion is, in some way, it's going to contribute both to your personal growth and to the growth of QBO as a whole. Because you're going to add that angle that that that is your passion, and you're going to take us in a different direction. And, and use that passion to do good not to get a paycheck. Because if you continue to focus on doing good first, the money will take care of itself. Sometimes it takes a little bit more patience, if you're not just chasing a paycheck for paycheck sake. But if you stay true to your principles and you find a team that will support you for who you are, and will let you do that good, then the money will take care of itself. And that's been the case, you know, throughout the growth of our company. That's that's been the principle that we followed as a company. And I think that's a principle that that everybody that works at CU tends to follow as well. This is an entire
Tim Bourguignon 49:25 quotable paragraph. Thank you very much for that. This is really cool. I do everything you said. You just said. It's It's fantastic. Thank you. Sure. If the listeners wanted to continue this discussion with you, where would the best place be?
Joseph Young 49:41 So I'm available on Twitter. My username is Mr. Joseph young. And then if you want to get to know more about our company, co creative, the website URL is k u v.io. There's contact form there and You can get in touch with any of us, we have our full team listed. So, yeah, I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
Tim Bourguignon 50:05 Is there a chance to see you in real life somewhere or your conferences or you meetups, something of this,
Joseph Young 50:11 I am very introverted. So I haven't gotten to conferences or meetups yet, I did do a stint for a while. But I found that if I've just put my head down and focused on building the structure of the company, I know that's coming. But it hasn't been. It hasn't been what I've done yet. But I'm always around in Fort Worth for coffee for anybody who's local, or you know, a phone call or anything. I'm up for anything to try and move these needles. Fair enough.
Tim Bourguignon 50:36 Fair enough. Anything else coming up in the next month that you want to plug in?
Joseph Young 50:40 So we also have a grant program that we're really excited about? That that is public, and we're, I think on our third round of applications. So if you're a small business or a nonprofit, especially a woman owned, nonprofit, or minority owned nonprofit or small business, and you can't afford software design work, definitely go onto our website kV IO in a in a Fly. That grant program has doubled in size every round so far. And we're, we're really excited about it. And it is. It's completely, you know, it's completely free. We're not gonna chase you for extra money or anything like that. We're just trying to do as much good with our spare time as we possibly can. So that's always ongoing and we'd love to hear from you.
Tim Bourguignon 51:19 Awesome, Joseph. Thank you very much. Sure thing, 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.