Erik Gross: 0:00
The specifics of the technology that you're about to learn are a lot less important than a couple of senior things. And those senior things are what are the fundamental principles involved in the operation of a computer and the fundamental principles involved in a program and the fundamental principles of working as a team? What are those fundamentals? And Above all of those is you've got to learn to think like an engineer. There are different ways of thinking based on the activity you're involved in in life, and one of your chief goals as you go through this is to learn how to think like an engineer. And that way, when you walk off into the sunset, when you know what this program, as technology, changes at a breakneck clip, you will be well set, because any new development you don't have to think your way through it. You're not going to rely on memorization. You're not going to rely on the specific technology learned in the bootcamp. You're going to be able to think with tech, and that's what I tell them. Oh, yeah, yeah, and I tell them that that nerds rule the world. You should be proud to be part of the team.

Tim Bourguignon: 1:08
Hello and welcome to Devlogger's journey, the podcast bringing you the making of stories of successful software developers to help you on your upcoming journey. I'm a host, tim Bognio. On this episode, I receive Eric Cross. Eric is an engineer, author and a career coach. In his three decades of tech experience he built and led teams in tech, started multiple successful businesses, co founded a coding bootcamp, wrote numerous technology books and personally coach hundreds of tech pros to career success. Wow, eric, a warm welcome to that journey. Thank you, man. I'm really glad to be here. That's a thrill to have you on and we've been laughing for 40 minutes. Wow, that has to be a record. So yeah, yeah.

Erik Gross: 1:58
I feel like the listeners are like fully missing out on the lunacy that just went on for a half an hour.

Tim Bourguignon: 2:04
They are, they are, but it's just between us. That's it, yep.

Erik Gross: 2:10
There's no record?

Tim Bourguignon: 2:11
No, absolutely not, or is there? Oh man, I'm so excited.

Erik Gross: 2:15
I'm so excited to be here. Oh man, I confess things to you in confidence. Yes, you did.

Tim Bourguignon: 2:21
Yes, you did. We'll keep that just between the two of us and my nas. But before we come to your story, I want to thank the terrific listeners who support the show. Every month, you are keeping the Dev Journey lights up. If you would like to join this fine crew and help me spend more time on finding phenomenal guests than editing audio tracks, please go to our website, devjourneyinfo and click on the support me on Patreon button. Even the smallest contributions are giant steps toward a sustainable Dev Journey journey. Thank you, and now back to today's guest, eric. As you know, the show exists to help the listeners understand what your story looked like and imagine how to shape their own future. So, as a discuss on the show, let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place the start of your Dev Journey?

Erik Gross: 3:17
It's about 1981. Actually we're going to go on the way back machine here and for the young listeners, I'm sorry, old tech alert, it's just required For background on this. I grew up in the middle of the Redwoods in Northern California, like, literally at many times, no running water, no electricity, lived in a TP, lived in a bus, like living in a VW van, the classic like, yeah, the hippie experience and everything right. I didn't know any different and frankly, in you know, with my now 54 years of life I look back on it. It was wonderful. It actually helped shape a lot of like whatever good qualities I have. A lot of them came out of that right. But if you flash forward to like 1981, I'm, you know, 11, 12 years old and we move into the big city of 5,000 people and my parents are not living in the woods anymore. I'm not and I'd always been like an inquisitive, nerdy kind of kid, loved logic, puzzle. I'd read like two or 3,000 books. At that point I was a nerd right. Dad walks in the door one day and he has this box and it says Commodore on the outside. He had a Vic-20. If you need to Google it, go for it Vic-20. It was the first truly successful mass market personal computer. They sold millions of them, right, and you look at its capabilities and obviously it's a tiny, underpowered machine. That wasn't the point. The point was you had a personal computer in your house. My dad my dad had programmed IBM mainframes in the 60s and was just thrilled that the dream he and his buddies had back in the day, decades before, had come to fruition and you could have a computer at home. So he bought one with money. I have no idea where he got because we did not have money grown up and you talk about like the beginning of my dev journey. This is what happened that day. I mean he first he hooked it up to the monitor, which was your TV, right, and he showed me how to, like you know, connect up the cassette drive this is way back in the day and load a program in. And here's a text editor and here's a game you could play and like obviously I'm blown away, this is 1981. This is amazing tech from 1981. But at a certain point he said, eric, that's, that's not actually the cool part. And he unplugged it and turned it over and pulled out a screwdriver, took off the back panel and said now, let me. Let me show you some things. And from CPU through to the peripherals, the buses that connect to all of those, down into the instruction set that's built into that CPU. What binary is everything about that computer? My dad taught me that afternoon. I will never forget that afternoon, I believe that it it changed the entire trajectory of my life and I'll tell you one of the biggest things it did is it utterly removed any mystery about the actual machine in front of me. It went from being this cool, like wow, I'm playing tic-tac-toe on the screen or I can type in stuff in a text editor, and like, oh, it's just a machine. It was no longer intimidating at all from that moment. So that's like the beginning of the dev journey. And then I was, fortunate enough we weren't that far from Silicon Valley. You grew up in Northern California, you know a few hundred miles from San Francisco and you know the South Bay, and so that culture drifted up the coast and our school had a really good computer lab and there were like computer user groups and I got involved in that. But that was the beginning of the journey. Is that afternoon? I have thanked my dad many times for that afternoon.

Tim Bourguignon: 6:51
I believe you fully. I'm a bit younger than you, not that much, but a little bit and I grew up breaking Windows 3.1 and then 95 and really breaking it over and over again and not having any fear of breaking it Because I knew each time okay, I know how to build that backup, I know how it's working, I know the components. I broke the PC as a machine as well. You get together, go running into in Paris on the Mongolia Street, which is street with just IT stores right and left. He used to go there and buy everything you needed, and so I remember this and I wonder how kids nowadays, when they look at an iPad and I have no idea how this thing is built If you break it, if you did something out of the sandbox and you break it, literally, you have no way of setting it back together. I wonder what it does on the intimidation, as you said?

Erik Gross: 7:56
Well, yeah, I can tell you my own personal thoughts on that. Is it as technology has become so complex and pervasive in our society? I really feel like there is a chasm there, from the average person just to technology, to digital technology, and it's weird because everybody's got it walking around with these smartphones, which are essentially like a 50 million times power, more powerful than my VIC-20 computer in your hand, and yet, like the very few people understand the fundamentals of what this machine is Right, they go out the reservation, something doesn't operate the right way and the frustration level, the mystery is there for them and I can't stand that. I'm like genuinely not okay with the fact that that I mean our industry has been around 70, 80 years and the fact that it isn't just completely handled in rudimentary childhood education to remove that mystery. That's just debacle as far as I'm concerned.

Tim Bourguignon: 10:10
Shall we go this way? No, let's go back to you, sir. Yeah, I agree with that Long you're totally right.

Erik Gross: 10:21
Don't worry, my story involves trying to do something about it.

Tim Bourguignon: 10:23
So who, then let's go there. Did you know right away that that would be your life?

Erik Gross: 10:29
No, I wanted to be an architect and then a little bit later, I wanted to be a film producer. Yeah, yeah, lots of things, one of which, okay. So this is the first true, true confessions time. We were Thanksgiving, you know, I'm here in America, so we had Thanksgiving, you know, just about a week and a half ago, and for some reason we had friends over and the subject of my Performance in high school you know, gpa, you know, grade point average came up. It's on a zero to four scale, right, 4.0 is really really good. 3.0 is just about average. 2.0 is oh my word, your knuckles drag on the ground. My graduating GPA in high school was 2.43. So not that great, not that great at all. Now I've been married my wife for 16, almost 17 years, and that came out in a conversation with some friends. We're sitting around the campfire and she just turns and looks at me. I mean, you've been around, was you've been with? Someone said 16 years. There aren't a lot of surprising pieces of data to find out and I swear I told her that I really did right. But um, yeah, that's the first true confession. Thing is like I Didn't really sell in high school at all. Now, computers were a constant all the way through it. You know, I was in that. I worked in the computer lab all the time. I was like the, the teacher's assistant or whatever they're gonna call it in the high school realm. I was programming from age 11 onward. But no, I was gonna go like, either into architecture or into the creative arts in film was what I thought, and we don't have near enough time to talk about it. But we made a lot of films and they were a lot of fun. So but yeah, no, I didn't end up going that route and of course you graduate with that kind of a great point average. You're not going to any kind of a decent college. So I'm gonna hold different route, especially for being a hippie and I went into the nuclear power section of the Navy.

Tim Bourguignon: 12:32
Okay, yeah, that's quite the opposite.

Erik Gross: 12:34
Yeah, that's a pivot.

Tim Bourguignon: 12:36
That's a pivot. Did you? Did you decide on going this route? I mean the army, but going into tech in the army.

Erik Gross: 12:44
Navy. It was a very conscious decision. My dad had been in the Navy back in Vietnam, my grandfather had been in the Navy. I'd never once considered it. Like I said, I grew up the son of hippies in the middle of the Redwood Forest, like the military was, like it was never bad mouth, but it was not part of that culture. And the recruiters came to to the school once at the beginning, like some beginning of our senior year, and it's when I found out about the Nuclear power program and specifically the electronics technician program within it that my eyes sort of lit up. Because here's Science and engineering and nerdiness and problem-solving and electronics and all this stuff combined in one area and it was very elite. And they were telling me that the training you go through is Incredibly comprehensive and very hard. And I, even at that age I knew that I Thrive when I'm put into a situation where I have to perform. Hmm, like I'll respond to that if you can, at that age at least. If you leave me to my own devices, I'll just go off and play a D&D all day, yeah.

Tim Bourguignon: 14:01
But you chose to go a different route and and put yourself on the spot and really be in in a position to really learn and be forced to learn.

Erik Gross: 14:10
Yeah, I did and it's a really, really good thing I did. I mean, I can talk about all of the benefits the training has, you know, in the Navy gave me, but there's like a specific moment that Turned into like a hallmark of my life Every day afterwards what you go through, boot camp, which is kind of rough, you know people yelling at you for not making your bed well enough, which is pretty interesting. Then I went through electronics School, which was just a blast. I mean all the way down to the bare silicon of how digital circuits work. Every. I mean that. Here's the thing. The training in the military has one focus, and one fake focus only, which is Applying the information you learn in the real world. There's no fluff in military training, especially when they're gonna make people, they're gonna be responsible for operating a nuclear reactor. You need to understand this stuff at your core and especially what to do for every given situation. And since you can't predict every given situation, you have to know how to think with the data and the military. The Navy schools were very good at that. So I went through electronic school. Everything's going fine. I did really really well. Right again, it's a regimented high pressure situation, but I didn't know what pressure was until I got done with electronic school and went to the actual nuclear power school. Now, if you look this thing up online now, it's actually called the Naval Nuclear Propulsion School. It is still ranked as the most rigorous academic institution in the American military. It is Unbelievably high pressure. At the time I went there they had a 14% failure rate and a 1% suicide rate. Yeah, not to bring the conversation down, but it was very high pressure. And here's the thing I got. It was a six month program and I was about a month and a half in and I was Absolutely hitting a wall. And was hitting a wall on one subject, which is mathematics. I'm a bright person. You wouldn't know it to look at my GPA in high school. I'm a bright person. But all the way through high school math was a problem and it was really Biting me in the behind in this program and it was. It got to the point where I for the first moment thought Am I going to actually make it? And it forced me to look at what are the consequences. I got myself into the situation what happens if I quit or I'm kicked out? And here's the thing you had to join for not the normal four years when you enlisted in the military, but for six years, because they're going to invest all this time and effort and training into you and if you fail out of the school you don't suddenly drop down to the four-year level. They've still got you for six and you're probably going to go out to the fleet and chip paint on the side of the ship. That kind of a job. I can't tell you how much I didn't want to do that. No offense against people that are like that role and maintenance is super important To this day. I love fixing broken things. I totally get it, but I didn't want to do that. And so I remember a weekend where I really just had to like there's nobody can get you through this, but you and I decided that I was going to make it and I just pushed through. I learned math. I learned it really really well. I just went back to basics and one of my missing, one of my misunderstanding right and I got through it and did really really well. I graduated in top 10% of my class and then went on to be an instructor in nuclear power training facilities. But that moment it served me in good stead whenever you least expect it later in life. At the end of the day, you are responsible for your condition in life and I knew that if I quit or if I quote unquote got kicked out, both of them would have been my responsibility and I finally kind of rose to the occasion.

Tim Bourguignon: 18:09
That's a great learning, and especially to get it quite early in your career. Really, this, this moment of recognition.

Erik Gross: 18:17
Yeah, that is really great. I did the right thing joining the service. I did the right thing. I'll tell you that.

Tim Bourguignon: 18:24
So you stayed six years with yummy, or do you pursue your career in the army for a while?

Erik Gross: 18:29
I was again. It was a Navy. Sorry yeah, sorry Right. The American military members who are listening to this will totally understand why I'm making that distinction. There's nothing wrong with the army. I'm not going to even get into that game. But no yeah, I did six full years. I went two years of schooling and then two years as an instructor at a nuclear power prototype out in the middle of the desert in Idaho. There's a submarine in the desert in Idaho that I operated that's a whole different story, right and then two years out in the fleet stationed out of the west coast of America, went over to Australia and Saudi Arabia and all kinds of stuff. It was very, very cool.

Tim Bourguignon: 19:10
I can imagine that. And so what did you do after that?

Erik Gross: 19:15
You know it's interesting to talk about the developer's journey. I stayed away from technology when I first got out. I had spent all that time immersed in machines and science and staring at a reactor plant control panel and as I was getting close to the end, I just started looking what do I want to do when I get out? And I wanted to deal with people more than I wanted to deal with machines. And so I started in the year before I was going to be done, looking at like what do I move into? And I settled on insurance, financial services, sales, like things where I could work with people. And so when I initially got out, I moved into that sales realm. We could do a whole podcast on my seven years selling sunglasses all around the world, and if any of my friends listen to this podcast, I can't tell you how far they're going to roll their eyes into the back of their head because they've heard all the sunglass stories. But here's the thing is in every single role I took for the next decade or so, I ended up being the technology guy, like in that sunglass sales company. Early days in the internet and the web and e-commerce, they said hey, eric, you know about these computers and stuff. Can you make us our first website so we can have a catalog online? So I'm like, all right, html and CSS. I'm like, okay, how do I do this? And upload the catalog and all that kind of stuff. Right. And later on, when I was selling of all things flooring, carpet, vinyl, tile, hardwood, all that kind of stuff we had really complex software that was needed to be able to manage $60 million a year in sales. And when they did a huge upgrade to that software package, the internal resources for technologists were zero. This is a carpet sales company. And I had already raised my hand and said well, I kind of know this stuff. They're like come here, you're on a special project. So I just kept working in tech at every company, even though I wasn't really working in tech. So the developer journey took a weird detour for a while and did so honestly, until about 2011.

Tim Bourguignon: 21:25
Wow, before we continue there, were you actively working against it or just not pursuing it?

Erik Gross: 21:32
Well, I'll tell you the truth, and this is I know I'm going to feel like an idiot saying this I legitimately didn't know how much money people made in the industry all the way through that period. Like, look I was, I got out of the Navy in 94, right, and that was like the beginning of the ramp up of software developers and engineers being this really solid career path. And I got out of the Navy and I'd missed all that occurring. Then I went off selling sunglasses all around the world and missed all of that occurring, and I only ended in 2000 when the dot com bubble burst and nobody wanted to go near tech. So I just sort of ignored it. Even though I love computers to my core and I would use them for everything I was doing personally, I honestly wasn't aware of the software development industry very much, and so I wasn't actively going away from it, which is all the more embarrassing thing because I just didn't know it was there. And when I found out it was there one I was super happy. Two I was kicking myself.

Tim Bourguignon: 22:38
To tell you the truth, I'm sure what you learned before that really helped you transition and have the life you didn't, so you shouldn't. Yeah, it does, it did Bad mouthed, but ouch, yeah, ouch. So take us to 2011. What happened? What took you to finally realizing okay, there is this industry I've been willingly or unwillingly ignoring and that has been shouting in my face that I should come back to it and finally say, okay, screw it, let's get in there.

Erik Gross: 23:21
Am I allowed to swear on this podcast?

Tim Bourguignon: 23:23

Erik Gross: 23:29
Very few people know this story and I'm going to put it on a podcast. Great, you hit 2011 and I was really not doing well. I was making very little money, you know, for listeners in America. I was making about $38,000 a year. I had lost several jobs, couldn't keep one, I had a couple of failed businesses under my belt, I was letting people down left and right, and I had a conversation one day with a friend the kind of friend who and I hope, every single person has a friend like this in your life, where they can tell you the things that you need to hear but don't want to hear. He pulled me into a room, shut the door and sat down and said Eric, it's bullshit that you don't make a lot of money. He said you're probably the smartest person I know. There's areas that you know about that are unbelievably valuable. The way your mind works is incredible. But he wasn't saying any of those things as praise. They were damning Because he was right I was letting people down and I'd been here my whole life. The not living up to your potential kind of you know speech that we've probably all heard in certain ways, but to hear it when you are 42 years old. It was a very, very difficult five or 10 minutes. But the point where it really hit and this is the part that nobody knows is that he said to me your wife is an incredibly amazing person and very forgiving, but how long do you think she's going to put up with this? And it was just like someone walked up and punched me right in the thorax and when you get the breath knocked out of you, it hit really, really hard. So that was like the moment, man, that was like the moment. And so for about a week I'm in a fog like what the hell do I do about this? Because he's right. And so I was on a long drive about an hour and a half long drive with a good friend and I just started to download all this stuff. And so he just started brainstorming with me like well, what can you do? Like, what do you have? What skills do you have that people pay a lot of money for and it's a free form conversation. The whole subject of software programming, development came up and went oh, I was in the military. There's this. You know, they pay for your education when you get out of the service. I could go back to school and become a computer programmer. And then it hit me those benefits expire 10 years after you get out of the service. I don't even have that available to me. And then he said something that like ended up again changing the trajectory of my life. He said you know, I've got a good friend who's really activist and engineer, a software programmer. I don't know a lot about that area, but I know some. She just talked to him. So we called him up right there in the phone in the car and I started talking to the guy about what my dilemma was and what my background is. And he kept asking questions. And I'm just trying to figure out, like I don't care if it takes a year or two or three, how do I break into this? Because the more he told me about what the industry looked like, my mind is going wait, you make how much an hour? Wait, there's like like this is the many jobs, right, but he got we got about 20, 30 minutes in his conversation and he said Eric, you know, I don't know that you need to go back to school. Everything you're telling me about, like early age and Navy and all the stuff you know, you know the fundamentals really, really well. I think you just need to know how software is being made now, what the principal languages are and how to do the job Really. And he extended an offer of help to me, which was incredible. He said I'll tell you what to study, I'll give you the blueprint for it. You're going to have to burn the midnight oil and if you can get to a certain stage I've got some contracts with the state I can help get you into one of these things working under me and at least get you your first job. You're going to have to drive an hour to work every day and then back, and you have to get up super like. I told him I'm willing to do whatever. So I went home to my wife and said listen, here's this opportunity. It probably means a lot of risk. It's a complete change. I'm probably going to be staying up late for weeks, months figuring this out, but I want to do it, and so I bought a hundred dollar computer off of Craigslist. I went down to this charity place here in America called Goodwill. I bought 37 technology books for $8 because that's how this place is and for about 11, maybe 12 days it was less than two weeks I was up till about three o'clock every morning, shari would go to sleep and I would just stay up for hours. How is software made now? What is this object-oriented programming thing that was just coming into the forefront as I was moving away from things? How do you do version control? What is full stack development? All these things? I know the fundamentals he was right but I didn't know nothing about how computers and programs were made. Nowadays. We get into that and we're about at day 11 or 12, and I just start poking around on job boards and I put together a little resume and I sent it out Sorry, I haven't told this in a while and a week later I get a job $42 an hour, it's $84,000 a year and it's just changed my life and that's you know. I was talking earlier about like the idea that I was kicking myself, like that was the kicking myself moment. Are you telling me? I've been limping along like an idiot in all these other areas, flopping, and I was failing at left and right, and this has been here the whole time. It was, it was a moment, man. It was a lot more good than bad, don't get me wrong, so that when you talk about like the developer journey. That's when, for the first time, I'm actually getting paid to develop, even though I've been in technology since I was 11, basically.

Tim Bourguignon: 30:33
Man, this is great. I mean, it's as painful to hear all this, this roller coaster part, but it is fantastic to see it embodied. This, this when you don't know what you don't know, you just stuck, you have no idea, and and it's really hard to get out of that. And thankfully, sometimes you have people around you that nudge you in one direction or another and at some point there is light and there you see, oh wow, there was a thing I didn't, didn't see. Yeah was there.

Erik Gross: 31:08
But if you don't, that's what you're spot on and this is one of the hallmarks that we like. What I now do a lot of career coaching with people, and this is one of the biggest things. You're so right, and I know this to be true for myself and others you don't know what you don't know, and the best technologists I work with all you need to do is uncover something and let them see it, answer any questions. They have to fully understand it and then they're off in a million miles an hour. It's one of the things I love about it and love about our industry. We are bright, inquisitive, inquisitive problem solvers and the only time we hit a wall is when we just don't know the path forward and that they just show them the path and they're like thank you, man, boom, and they are gone. It's awesome to see and that's how. That's how it was for me. I saw the path to it. I'm like, oh, and then I dove into it like with a vengeance, what I learned in those first two, three years, two or three years about modern software development, engineering. I would look back every six months or so and go I can't believe I know all this stuff now, but it was like I was driven. You know what I mean? Oh yeah, I do. And was it rainbows and?

Tim Bourguignon: 32:18
unicorns the last 12 years. Yes, yes, yeah.

Erik Gross: 32:26
If HP Lovecraft design a rainbow and a unicorn. No, it's been ups and downs, you know, okay. So here's the highlights and then the low lights, like. The highlights are that in that time I've gotten experience as just a pure contractor the pure contractor play, where you're responsible for getting your gigs. You've got to manage everything as a one man business, right. That? And that of course, comes with as highs and as lows. But being exposed to a tremendous number of different business scenarios and industries and programming, you know difficulties and challenges, super valuable. The downside man virtually every side project ever I ever took on ended up being working for peanuts because of scope creep, right. So there's highs and lows, right. Yeah, a tremendous high is and we literally could do an entire podcast about it the the genesis for the idea of the tech Academy, which is the software developer bootcamp I co founded, and that whole 10 year journey because it's still around and doing well. Right, those have highs and lows. The highs man we've helped over a thousand people break into technology as like well rounded, entry level software developers. That's amazing. Yeah, right, it is the lows. The first time we had to have a reduction in force. Now, we were 21 people in the team at that point, but these were my friends and loved ones. This is a purely bootstrapped organization. I knew every single one of these people, my co founder, jack, and I they these are. This is our core team. And to have to have that conversation with someone, whoo, oh, yeah, yeah. So, yeah, it hasn't been rainbows and unicorns, but it has been a journey of progressively greater understanding of the technology landscape, building my muscles as both an engineer, as an entrepreneur, and the hallmark, like the thread that runs all the way through it. I love helping people, like I love everyone's in a while I don't know what's happened for you, but you bump into someone that they just don't enjoy being helpful to others in life. And I'm like you have any idea what you're missing out on? Man, man, watching that aha moment. And, more importantly, when you see them walking unaided into the future, like I did that, like there's nothing like it, right? So, whether I'm like, whether I'm writing a book or designing a curriculum or counseling an entrepreneur, like, yeah, I'm going to make sure that I, what I do, make sense economically and that you know it's, you know, financially viable. But it only works if my heart is devoted to help and I don't know. You can't fake that kind of thing. You know what I mean. It's got to be there at your heart and so that's that's. We can talk technology and all that kind of nerdy stuff all day long and, believe me, I love it and I will. Right, but I really believe we're our best when we're helping other people.

Tim Bourguignon: 35:36
Oh, yeah, this is a. This is something I've been. I've been seeing again, again. I've been nodding my head heavily the listeners cannot see this but what I've been doing for the past 10 minutes.

Erik Gross: 35:46
I've just been seeing a Tim Bobblehead doll. That's all Exactly.

Tim Bourguignon: 35:50
But the thing I love the most is when people have been leaving me or leaving the company I was in, and and you, just, you just see them walking into the sunset and and leaving you in their tracks and you know they are off for fantastic stories somewhere else. But you understand, okay, they, they, they reach the end of the story with you and now they need way, way more. You're limiting them by keeping them here and you see them skyrocketing somewhere and this is such a great feeling of saying, hey, I was part of that. I had maybe a little tiny effect on that person that made them who they are today, and this is such a great feeling.

Erik Gross: 36:32
It is absolutely egoistical, but it's such a great feeling and sometimes you don't find out for a long time the difference you made. Right, we had a. We had a student at the school that this way back in 2015. We had this huge initial win. When he went through the program, he wasn't even done with the program yet and he got hired at Disney and we helped a lot in that right. But I just remember, because it's been years, hey, we helped the guy get hired at Disney, right. Well, I was talking to him about five or six months ago and he's now like the CTO of an incredibly successful artificial intelligence startup. He's doing really, really well and I attributed a lot of it to like the fact that he's just a really driven, caring, competent person. But he in this conversation he told me about a, a talk we'd had that I'd fully forgotten when he first realized that in his network was someone who was connected directly to hiring personnel at Disney and who had reached out to him and said hey, dude, I heard you're learning to code. I know you from our prior work relationship at another company and I really just think you ought to throw your hat in the ring. And I remember him coming to me and saying like man, erica, I'm not even done with this program. Like, what do I do with this? I could either like go for this and, yeah, pull off some amazing win, like I'm gonna work at Disney, or I could just look like a complete idiot and burn a bridge. What do I do? And the funny thing is I don't even remember what I told him in that moment. And that's why, you know, a few months ago, when we were talking, he remembered what I told him and I didn't know it at the time, but it helped him tremendously. You know, you're just being yourself, being interested in the other person, caring about them and helping in the moment, and you don't know what that means to them eight, 10 years down the line. You never know. So just be helpful all the time. It's my advice, not that I've always done that. I can be a jerk and an idiot, don't get me wrong, you know. But I think if you have that as your hallmark, as deep interest in other people and being willing to see their point of view and always trying to leave the person better than when they met you, you'll probably do all right.

Tim Bourguignon: 38:58
I love what you just said Leave the person better than when they met you Well you know that is. Even if you don't know it.

Erik Gross: 39:05
That's the Boy Scout in me, like my way. There's just certain things getting grained right. When you go camping in the Boy Scouts, the last thing you do before you leave is you walk around and you police the grounds. And this means looking over the entire situation, remembering what it looked like when you arrived and making sure that, no matter what you do, it looks better than when you arrived. And we did that over and over and over again, to the point where this is ingrained. When we enter any space, I am and I only realize this when I'm doing it I'm subconsciously scanning the ground and the surroundings and as we leave, before I even know I'm reaching down, I'm picking the garbage up off the ground and walk, you know, and put it in the garbage. I it's not even like, ooh, I'm awesome, I don't even think about it. It's just kind of ingrained by the Boy Scouts, right, but that philosophy, no like. Why wouldn't that be the hallmark you have of like? What's your rationale for having lived? How do you make that difference? Well, I can think of worse ones than hey, everyone I come in contact with do they leave a little bit better just for having interacted with me. I mean, it's a pretty good moral barometer or compass.

Tim Bourguignon: 40:20
But here's a curve ball coming. How do you evaluate what is better for people?

Erik Gross: 40:28
It goes back to those two things I said before. You have to be deeply interested in them, genuinely. I trained people in sales for a long time and all sales people talk too much, they don't listen enough and many of them have an inability to adopt the viewpoint of the person they're talking to. And if you can put yourself in their shoes and have it be genuine, more than just like a platitude, you start to really see where they're coming from. It starts from that point of view, and you only get that by finding something you are genuinely interested in them about. You cannot fake that right Now. You can build that muscle up, but you have to actively, when you meet someone, find out for yourself what really interests me about this person, what do I actually admire about them, right? So that's where I would start with that, because at that point you're not going into the situation considering that the win of the interaction only relates to you. You're forcing yourself to consider a two-valued proposition. The other person's point of view matters too. So beyond that, we can have hours-long philosophical discussion about it, but at the end of the day, if you're gonna try to do the greatest good for the greatest number of areas of life and you include that other person as being part of your life. Well, now it kind of changes your mental equation a little bit. So that's how I approach like, look, because we all of us have to make decisions about what we think is right for the other person. Like, you do this as a manager, right, you do this as an instructor, as a coach, you're gonna recommend things, or even sometimes, depending upon the organizational structure, you're gonna dictate or order things, and if you're not doing so with a willingness and exercised ability to consider them in the equation, you're not gonna do a really good job.

Tim Bourguignon: 42:21
And if you are, this is an injurgency. I'm not sure that's the right word, Basically forcing your own will on somebody else or forcing your view of the world on somebody else.

Erik Gross: 42:34
Yeah, and it's revolting. Look, we all have things when they get done, we have goals and purposes. But life is a collaborative exercise, man, it really is. It is like you know the whole no man as an island. Look, you can get through life and in certain emergency situations with that kind of an attitude, but as a long-term operating basis, those people don't win long-term.

Tim Bourguignon: 42:59
I love that. Life is a collaborative exercise. Yeah, it never hurts. It put it this way, man, it makes so much sense. Eric, when you picture the green students of that bootcamp, is there something you always tell them, an advice that you put in front of all the students when they first come in and when they face this program? I don't know how long three months, four months with your bootcamp.

Erik Gross: 43:28
Yeah, yeah. Typical bootcamps are about four to six months, depending upon how much time they can put into them. I love this question. The thing that I would sit down and tell them is that the specifics of the technology that you're about to learn are a lot less important than a couple of senior things. And those senior things are what are the fundamental principles involved in the operation of a computer and the fundamental principles involved in a program and the fundamental principles of working as a team? What are those fundamentals? And above all of those is you've got to learn to think like an engineer. There are different ways of thinking based on the activity you're involved in in life, and one of your chief goals as you go through this is to learn how to think like an engineer. And that way, when you walk off into the sunset, when you know what this program as technology changes at a breakneck clip, you will be well set, because any new development you don't know how to think your way through it. You're not going to rely on memorization, You're not going to rely on the specific technology learned in the bootcamp. You're going to be able to think with tech, and that's what I tell them.

Tim Bourguignon: 44:41
Oh, yeah, yeah.

Erik Gross: 44:42
And I tell them that nerds rule the world. You should be proud to be part of the team.

Tim Bourguignon: 44:50
Amen to that. This has been a fantastic and literal roller coaster with you.

Erik Gross: 44:58
It has been, and I'm sure that afterwards I'm probably just going to have a glass of whiskey to get over the fact that I shared some of that stuff with you. But no, in all honesty, if it ends up helping someone out there, then I'm happy to have shared it. The truth is that the public persona that people kind of put out to the world is never the full picture. There's lots of things I've put out there about successes. The truth is I'm just like anybody else. I've had the ups and downs, I've made the mistakes, and I just want people to know that and this is the last thing I'll say is that one thing that I have developed over time is the certainty that I will never stay down. I'll get knocked down. Life will kick me behind. The one thing I have learned to know about myself is I will never refuse to get back up again, and if you just adopt that and just keep practicing it, man, your life changes. The sky is limit, yeah.

Tim Bourguignon: 45:58
Thank you so much, Absolutely.

Erik Gross: 46:00
Thank you, man. I love this. This is a really really good conversation.

Tim Bourguignon: 46:05
It was indeed. Where would be the best place to continue that discussion with you?

Erik Gross: 46:09
OK, so the online the best place to go is yourcareerarchitectcom. This is where I have a lot of information about what I do online Yourcareerarchitectcom. But the bestest bestest place is to go to yourcareerarchitectcom Slash most valuable knowledge. One of the things I love helping people with is identifying, out of all the valuable skills and knowledge they have, where's the intersection of true passion, deep skill and actual value in the marketplace. And if they go to that location they'll find a free book that will help them through that process. Yourcareerarchitectcom slash most valuable knowledge.

Tim Bourguignon: 46:53
And we'll put that in the show notes as well. Just scroll down and click Awesome, and it'll be there. Awesome. Anything else you want to plug in?

Erik Gross: 47:02
I really appreciate what you're doing. I sincerely appreciate what you're doing for the technology world. It's fantastic.

Tim Bourguignon: 47:07
Thank you, eric, it's been a blast.

Erik Gross: 47:11
Awesome. Thanks, man.

Tim Bourguignon: 47:12
And this has been another episode of Day of the Post Journey. I will see you there next week. Bye-bye. Thanks a lot for tuning in. I hope you have enjoyed this week's episode. If you like the show, please share, rate and review. It helps more listeners discover those stories. You can find the links to all the platforms the show appears on on our website devjourneyinfo slash subscribe. Talk to you soon.