Tim Bourguignon 0:07
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 received Eric St. Martin. Eric has spent the last decade building and securing distributed systems for large enterprises, such as cable providers, credit bureaus and fraud detection companies. He now works from Microsoft as a senior cloud Developer Advocate. He co authored a book on the go programming language. He co authored podcasts with go time FM, ne organizes gopher con, the annual conference for the NGO community. Eric, welcome to dev journey.

Erik St Martin 0:48
Thanks for having me.

Tim Bourguignon 0:49
So Eric, I have three questions for you. The first one would be how did you end up in security? That's always interesting to me. The second one would be, what do you do at Microsoft, actually, this Developer Advocate stuff? And how did you jump ship and end up at Microsoft? And the final one would be where does this passion for the goal language come from? And I would say, maybe you should start with telling us where you come from your background and stuff.

Erik St Martin 1:18
Sure, so. So the security side of things. I guess I wouldn't say that's my primary role. It's something I do a lot of as a kind of secondary role. A lot of my primary role is software engineering, and systems architecture. But I got into programming because of security. Actually, I was probably about 14, I think. And we got our first computer in the house. And like every teenage kid, I was obsessed with the idea of hacking and playing pranks. And just like that, and I can actually tell you some fun stories of things I did to friends and things I did to school computers that I probably shouldn't have.

Tim Bourguignon 2:03
Did you want to tell that in public?

Erik St Martin 2:06
Sure, I've told these stories before. So there was one time we had a CAD class. And I happen to stay home sick. But I had loaded a Trojan onto all of the computers in this CAD classroom. And the classroom was configured in like this huge shape. So I went through and I started turning monitors off, like in a row, drawing a line around the room, and then back on and then opening CD ROM drives, and closing them again. And I thought it was hilarious. And I didn't think about the fact that my cat teacher knew that I was pretty proficient with computers. And I just happened to be out the day that this happened. And it was pretty funny. Because the next day when I went back to school, he's like, really funny, Eric, he's like, you know, you're staying after school and removing whatever you put on all of those computers, right? So I was commonly like pranking people like that. And like, I had a, I had a roommate, once where I changed the mouse cursor, you know, it turns to the hand when you're pointing at something, hopefully, to change his to a middle finger. And it actually took him like two months before you notice. But yeah, so I mean, I was always obsessed with that stuff. And so I grew up without a lot of money. So we didn't have the money to buy all these new computer games and things like that, that were coming out. So I used to borrow friends of mine. And at the time, CD ROM drives were not fast enough to just read a game off of so when you install the game, everything copied to your hard drive. So there were these things called new CD cracks back then, that would basically just patch the binary to stop looking at the CD ROM drive to check if the disc was in there. So I started learning how to do that. When I was about 14 or 15, so that I could borrow friends games and have that. That was that was before people were being chased after for pirating music and stuff. So it was a different time. I don't know whether I would do that now. But it was really interesting to get into it. And then the the internet kind of started getting popular, and then mid to late 90s. And so I kind of got fascinated with websites and building websites and started learning HTML and CSS. And then I wanted to I wanted to be able to make them function and dynamic. And so there are bulletin board software programs and things like that, that were out at the time, and I had one and so I used to just patch it to add features and things like that and it started out by following tutorials on How to add these feet, this new functionality to these bulletin boards. And then after a while, I started trying to learn the languages that they were implemented in, so that I could understand it more. And it was really interesting for me, because I mean, I don't come from a family that went to college and has these types of careers. So never really thought I'd end up there. I worked in factories and fast food restaurants and things like that through most of my late teens. And I guess a little bit my early 20s. And people started offering me money to do programming work for them. And then I sort of fell into it as a career. And my, I remember, my first programming job was like $10 an hour or something like that. And I was, I call it programming job, but really, it was like it extraordinare it was fixing printer jams, it was programming stuff, it was, you know, installing telephony equipment, and things like that. And that was really kind of how I got my break. And I guess through most of my career, I was constantly doing things that I didn't think I should have been doing from because of my background, I dropped out of high school. So I never went to college for this stuff. And I just always assumed that this career was a career for people who, you know, had had that formal education. And I remember one time where I was doing freelance work and things like that. And I would do temp jobs as a programmer for you know, healthcare companies and stuff. And I remember getting a call from a recruiter from Disney. I was like, there's no way I'm qualified to do this. And the recruiter convinced me that I should try anyway. And to my surprise, I got the job. And I worked there for about five years on all of the Disney's reservation systems for Disney World, and ended up leading teams and things like that. I got to work on the teams that did all the magic bands. Before those came out. That was that was really interesting. spent two years where I couldn't tell family and friends what I was working on. Wow. So I guess, from there, it's just been a progression where, you know, I started kind of on the front end side. And I've been more and more fascinated with lower level stuff. So I started doing kind of web development, and then kind of moved into systems programming and distributed systems programming. And kind of deeper down the security route. And I even play with hardware in my spare time. Which surprisingly, you can learn a lot about being a better software developer by learning to write firmware for very small hardware.

Erik St Martin 7:50
Indeed, you can indeed,

Erik St Martin 7:54
that was one of the questions general remember the other two? One of them was how I ended up at Microsoft, right. So Microsoft, they stole me from Comcast, which is one of the biggest cable providers here in the United States, I was doing a lot of interesting Kubernetes stuff writing, writing custom control, playing components, and kind of designing and helping build this, you know, several thousand node system for doing video streaming. And I also was very active in the open source world. So contributing to Kubernetes contributing to Docker contributing to go. My first big open source contribution was 2009, maybe 2010. Doing the unobtrusive JavaScript and jQuery support for rails three. So Microsoft, was spinning up this whole developer advocacy group, and they were just kind of scooping up a lot of people that had backgrounds in interesting areas. So go and containers and Kubernetes was big for them. So they approached me and it was one of those things where, like, we know you like going out and doing speaking about these things and contributing to these things. How would you like to spend more of your time doing that? And I was like, Well, that sounds amazing. But it was, um, it was an interesting move for me because I've mostly come from an open source background, I am through and through a Linux person. I have been running Linux on the desktop since the late 90s. The last version of Windows I use to any degree was Windows XP. So it was an interesting move. But I really like where Microsoft's going. They're kind of getting back to the the love of developers. I can't really say getting back to that's not fair to them, because they've always loved developers, and they've always thrown a ton of money at the experience for developers, they were just focused on their community, you know, Windows developers. And now it's kind of because of the cloud and what the cloud has done. It's now a much broader pool of developers that they're trying to. Trying to do this for. So yeah, and I really love the role. So because of the way I came into tech and things like that, I, I love the idea of kind of helping the generations behind, like coming up behind me, and how can I share some of these lessons learned, you know, some of them do the school of hard knocks with, with with the newer generation of people. So, and developer advocacy is actually really interesting. Because there's a couple of parts a lot of people see kind of, sometimes it gets a false perception with like this kind of rock star mentality, you travel around the world and speak at conferences and things like that. And that's sort of the public view of what people see. But there's also the internal side of things. So what we really do is we go out, and we try to help educate people. But we also try to meet people and understand the types of problems that they're, they're experiencing the types of things that they're trying to build, in particular, the struggles that they're having with products, say that Microsoft and Azure have. And then we go back. And a lot of what's not seen is we spend a lot of time in meetings with product managers and things like that, trying to provide back this feedback from the community and help them evolve the products and ways whether that's adding features or fixing bugs, whether that's working with the documentation teams to provide better documentation on things to help make the experience better for our customers. And for people who could potentially be customers.

Tim Bourguignon 11:59
What surprised you the most by coming to work for Microsoft?

Erik St Martin 12:04
What surprised me the most? It's, I've learned a lot about the areas that they invest money in, I guess it wasn't always visible to me just how much they cared about developers and developer experience and, and that it wasn't all kind of motivated by profits and things like that. And the the speed at which they amassed this crazy team of advocates was also really, really surprising. It's just this massive group of ridiculously smart people with crazy backgrounds and accomplishments. And I feel like most of us feel like we're the one person who doesn't belong on the team that they just haven't found out yet.

Tim Bourguignon 12:56
That's another question I wanted to ask. I wanted to ask you before, when you finally lost this inferiority complex that you were talking about, but we are common right now I have the feeling it's kind of still here.

Erik St Martin 13:10
It is very much still here. I think it's a really, really. So the Internet has connected us in amazing ways. But I think that it's also possibly been detrimental, right? Because you You still look at the people are directly around you family, close friends, neighbors. And that's sort of how you saw your place in the world. And now we're constantly looking at this highly curated list of the best The world has to offer. And it's really, really easy to feel out of place. Like we just haven't accomplished these things. There's also false perceptions, right? You see what myself for other people who are in in kind of the public view, you see what we post, right. And I may give a talk on a topic or somebody else may give a talk on a topic. And we assume that they must know everything there is to know about that topic. But the talk itself for the blog post could encompass 100% of what they know, right? We, we draw lines that that aren't necessarily there. I remember during one of our podcast episodes, where I was talking about hardware projects I was working on and I think somebody DM me or something I was like, you know, hardware too. And it's like, I know a little bit of hardware, enough to be dangerous, but you see these things and you assume that must be an expert on all of these. So I'm starting to recognize that even when I look at other people that I admire, that I'm making assumptions about all of their knowledge and you know, a lot of these people have head starts on me. I'm never going To catch up unless they just stopped learning. And I've been trying to be more okay with comparing myself to me a year ago or two years ago, and how have I progressed rather than comparing myself to others, but it's hard. There's oftentimes I look at people, I'm like, I wish I had that knowledge. Hmm. And to some degree, I think the way I came into computing, not having a formal education probably hurts me a little bit to where I feel like because I don't have the formal education. I'm not qualified to be here or something. Even though I know how insane that sounds.

Tim Bourguignon 15:40
If you read the book, from Rob Connery, I think the poster Oh god.

Erik St Martin 15:47
Yeah. imposters handbook.

Tim Bourguignon 15:49
Yeah. ankles handbook. Exactly. I've heard this one.

Erik St Martin 15:52
Yes, yes. And there's a second version of it out to or is coming out. I think

Tim Bourguignon 15:57
you're right. Yeah. Was was quite handsome and maybe co written something like this. And I was fascinated with the with the first story, because it's really what you said is Rob doesn't have a background, a college background either. And he felt like an imposter for a while. And he felt he had the need to write this book to get into these topics, those low level topics that are key to a CS master's degree, to have the feeling to belong, which I find amazing and and horrifying at the same time. That amazing that he did it and horrifying that he felt he had the need to do it. Have

Erik St Martin 16:42
you heard of the Dunning Kruger

Tim Bourguignon 16:45
effect? Yes, I have. But can you please explain it for the evil unions?

Erik St Martin 16:50
Sure. So it basically says that. So there's kind of two sides of it. So there's the one side we're often people who have minimal knowledge about a subject overestimate their knowledge or ability in that field, because they don't understand how, how kind of vast it is. And then you have the opposite side of it. Whereas the more you learn about a particular subject, the more you you realize that you don't know. And it becomes very, very easy to feel like an imposter. Because you're looking all you can see are all of the areas of this subject that you don't know. And it makes the amount that you do know seems so so miniscule. Hmm. And I feel like if I look back at my career, I had a lot more confidence in myself early in my career. So I think it fits.

Tim Bourguignon 17:42
And how do you boost your confidence nowadays?

Erik St Martin 17:47
I just so nowadays I'm I spend less time looking at other people and where they're at, and knowledge that I wish I had, and just more being excited about the things that I'm doing. And you know, how does that compare to me a year ago, you know, am I am I learning new things, and I evolving Are these the things that I want to be learning and things like that. It's, it's more one of those. The journey is more important than the destination. And I think, as I started getting into the career and advancing, I got so caught up on reaching the the kind of end goal, which is hard, because you're constantly moving, you're constantly moving the line. Right? So it's impossible. And I forgot what really got me into programming, which was just the love of creating things and the excitement of learning new things. And, and you know that, that 1020 hours of fighting with somebody and then you just feel like a rock star when you finally figure it out.

Tim Bourguignon 18:54
I know the feeling Yes.

Erik St Martin 18:58
That's even when it's a missing semicolon

Tim Bourguignon 19:02
is picky because you learn something along the way.

Erik St Martin 19:05
Yeah, and that's the thing. So those are the things that I actually love. I love the type of projects where I feel like I've been kicked into the deep end, and I have to figure out how to swim. Mm hmm.

Tim Bourguignon 19:16
Do you have a lot of these?

Erik St Martin 19:18
Probably the past few months? No. But those are the types of jobs that I do enjoy. And that's what intrigued me about the job at Comcast. I was approached about that. And it was like, Well, I don't know anything about cable video streaming and video. multiplexing. So okay, I'll do it.

Tim Bourguignon 19:38
So here's a here's the plane, he has a parachute. The plane is going down. Now try to learn how to put it on the butt.

Erik St Martin 19:47
But that's the way it works is if you're not if you're not challenging yourself, you're not growing. And so I had a friend who was in school for computer science. And, you know, at one point he he wasn't sure, like it was, you know, something he was cut out for, like you're just a natural editor you're not. And one of the things I said to him was, the difference between a senior programmer and a junior programmer, isn't the amount that you struggle, it's that a senior programmer has become comfortable in the struggle, that it's just, it's just something you've accepted as part of your day to day job. And so it doesn't give you as much anxiety just because you realize it's part of the process. And I think in the beginning, when you're struggling a lot, you feel like, there's a lot of struggle, maybe, maybe this isn't for me, maybe, maybe I'm not, you know, a natural at this.

Tim Bourguignon 20:45
That's an interesting take on seniority.

Erik St Martin 20:48
When you think about it, you've been in the field a number of years, do you feel like you struggle any less now than you did then? Absolutely not? Yeah. And if you're not struggling, it's probably because you're working on the type of thing that you've built 20 times already? And you could do it in your sleep?

Tim Bourguignon 21:06
Yeah, I don't remember who said that. But then there's the seniority with 20 years of experience. And there's the seniority wins 20 times the first year of experience. Which amounts for the same thing at the end. Yeah, that's very true. I had,

Erik St Martin 21:20
those are the times when I'm disappointed with myself, when I look at like five years gone past. I'm like, What did I do that's new? And the answer is nothing.

Tim Bourguignon 21:28
Is it true, though?

Erik St Martin 21:31
I mean, not not in this particular case. But I'm saying in the past, when I've kind of looked at my progress over the past couple of like, over a couple year period, if I feel like I haven't grown or learned anything. Those are the points where I'm disappointed with myself. It's not because of the accomplishments that I have yet to achieve. It's more and not experiencing growth.

Tim Bourguignon 21:53
Yeah, I can relate to that. You said you said before, if you're not challenging yourself, you're not growing. But is there something? Is there such thing as challenging yourself too much?

Erik St Martin 22:07
I definitely think there is, I think that even outside of our careers, just as people, we're in such a hurry to get to the finish line that we cause ourselves a lot of stress and anxiety. We, we give up a lot of our personal lives. And you start to realize as you get older, I'm 35 now, but like as you as you start to get into your 30s, and things like that, you start to realize that time is the only currency that matters. You need to have time for your family, you need to have time for hobbies, and friends, and things like that. In my early 20s, I was all computers all the time. I just know. And now I'm I intentionally try to step back and appreciate things that are outside of computers. Although I keep trying to come up with hobbies and convinced myself that their hobbies and then I have to be like Eric, that's computer stuff. Hardware, doing hardware is still computer stuff, Eric.

Tim Bourguignon 23:10
That is true. It's true. I heard this comment a few days ago, from somebody who said, well, her doctor told her she should she should pull the plug a bit. And and cool down. And our first thought was, yeah, more time for my project. And then and then just thought about this for a second. Oh, no, that's what he meant. Oh, boy. It's what have you taken on as a as a non computer science hobby.

Erik St Martin 23:41
So since I was a teenager, I've wanted to learn to play the guitar well, and I put it down for a number of years. And then probably about 10 years ago, I picked it up again. And then of course, they let work consume me again, and organizing a conference. And you know, at one time I was working multiple jobs and things like that. That kind of prevented me from doing it. And then recently, I started telling myself, if I had put in 30 minutes to an hour a day when I started getting back into the guitar a decade ago. That would be pretty good. Yes, you would. So here Here we go. Again, I'm trying to get back into it again. But yeah, I love music. And I've always loved acoustic stuff. So I I really enjoyed that.

Tim Bourguignon 24:34
Interesting. Do you see some some parallels between what you learn or the way you learn guitar and your day to day job? Without a doubt.

Erik St Martin 24:45
You pick stuff and you're like, oh, the guitar that's his artistic and, you know, it's totally different from what I do for my day job. And then you start looking at it and you're like, there's a lot of technical stuff there too. Right? It's a lot of stuff going on and understanding the mechanics of things. And then because of the way my mind works, like, I want to know the theory, I want to know the music theory, why did these notes sound good together? You know, things like that. So I guess it's easy to kind of fall into that stuff. Because it's highly technical with a lot of detail that you learn, of course, you could just pick it up and play. Right, but that's probably not me.

Tim Bourguignon 25:27
And one thing I would like to go back to is how you fell down into the go, world? Is it a story behind that?

Erik St Martin 25:36
Yeah. So when it first was released in late 2009, I was working at Disney at the time, and myself and a couple colleagues kind of got together and, and we looked at it. And it was interesting, but we didn't really see what the huge selling point was, you know, what do we what do we get out of this that we don't get from one of the many languages we're using already. So that was one of the things tinkered and then kind of let it be, probably was it two years later, some something like that, I started working for this credit bureau. And this is where I met Brian kedleston, who organizes gopher con with me and was one of the two other co authors of going action. And I guess he had tinkered with go and had built this little pet microservice in it. But he was the CIO of the company. So he didn't exactly have a lot of time to maintain this thing. And so when I started there, he was like, would you be willing to learn go and kind of take this on this, the service is getting slammed? It's a lot more popular than it was when I first wrote it. So I was like, sure. And so I picked up go, and started maintaining that. And it was really through the process of building software with it that I really started to fall in love with it. And that's the really, really hard part, especially in the beginning. Now it's easier to sell people on go most people have heard it, they've heard lots of people adopt it. And so it's easier to be like, well, I'll give it a try. But back then, it wasn't there wasn't a lot of people using go. So yeah, there wasn't a silver bullet. There wasn't one thing I could tell you on an elevator, you have to use go because of this. So really, it was through the process of writing software, kind of everything that the language provided. And everything that wasn't in the language, really sort of made me fall in love with it. And a couple years pass did a lot more go development. And we started. Brian and I started talking about the fact that there's no go conferences and like, we love going to these language conferences, and kind of put it off and I don't know, maybe about six months or a year later, somebody on Twitter is like, I really wish there was a go conference. And Brian and I are responding. Like I know, we keep saying this. And I forget how it exactly happened, I'd have to pull up the thread. But it was basically one of those like, I dare you to do it, or why don't you do it. And so Brian and I got in his office, and we had a conversation about like, How hard could it be right? It's just a conference? It turns out the answer is very hard. They are a lot of work. There are a lot of money, they are a lot of risk. So we started this little conference called gopher con and the name was basically because the one thing we didn't want was we didn't want one of these kind of for profit conferences not not that I think it's wrong for people to make profit. But you know, the type of conferences where like almost every talk is a vendor pitch the the sponsorships are sold by giving speaking slots, and things like that. And we didn't want that we wanted a community run conference. So we set out to do that and go programmers call themselves gophers. So hence the name gopher con. And we expected you know, hundred, maybe 200 people the community just did not seem big back then. This was mid 2013 when we started planning this. And Mitchell Hashimoto was the the the first person to buy tickets, which we thought thought was amazing. We all loved him because of a grant and things like that. And we're just like, whoa. But yeah, a lot of people jumped on sponsors for just like, we're happy to give you money just to make this happen. And things like that we ended up having almost was over 700 people. I think it was just shy of 750. Our first year we had to keep rearranging things and getting a V and The caters involve to accommodate more people, we just, we never expected it to be that big. It's very first year. And then it just sort of took off and other people started spinning up go for cons and other countries. And the language itself took off. So there's there's a lot of this. I love the language, Brian love the language. We we knew that it was different and it was going to change things. But I don't think any of us could have anticipated that it would it would grow. You know, to the extent it is now where most programmers have at least heard of the language. You know, in those early days, every conversation was what's go. So I'm thankful I don't have to have that conversation on repeat anymore.

Tim Bourguignon 30:52
But you would do it again?

Erik St Martin 30:54
Oh, yeah, yeah. And I actually, I really loved the fact that I found go, because it also made me find containers and Kubernetes. Very, very early on. We had containers in production in like late 2014, or something like that. It was it was crazy. I mean, nobody should have had some production Matt earlier. But. And all of that was because of the love of Go. Go was so new back then, Brian and I used to just kind of scroll GitHub looking for new projects that were created and go. And I came across this thing called Docker. And it was like, Huh, at the time, I was working on trying to build this framework for building distributed systems. These not everybody wants to work on all of that stuff. But there's plenty of amazing programmers. So we're trying to work on this framework. Or if you implemented the client and the server a particular way, you didn't have to worry about all the service discovery and retry logic and exponential back off and circuit breakers and all of these things. You just had to write the client or, you know, the, the individual API calls on the service side. And it worked great for go because we just had to play a binary. But we had other services that were written in Ruby and things like that. And things were a lot more complicated. And how do we bundle up this application and deploy it to, you know, a random server. And so when Docker came out, it was just like, holy crap, this is the perfect solution to this problem. And so kind of fell in love with that. And then Kubernetes came along, and it was like, Whoa, that's a way better way of doing what we were trying to do with the framework. So through all of that out and kind of started using Kubernetes. But that and those both ended up becoming crazy popular. But all of that, and the early use of it just came from looking for interesting projects that were written in go.

Tim Bourguignon 32:55
That's a very cool story, actually, it's really impressive how things can can move from one perceivably, Lucky move to another. And just from from being at the right place at the right time with the right mindset and your eyes open, then you can stumble on something really interesting. And from there on, it can have a very, very huge effect on the rest of your life. I agree.

Erik St Martin 33:20
Yeah, and there's so much of life, that's a door opening, and you have to recognize that the door opened, and take a little bit of risk to peek in there and be like, what's behind this door. And my career has been a lot of that, where an opportunity presents itself, you know, to do something slightly different from what I was doing before. And I tried it and here's the thing. We're all afraid of like ruining our lives, right? Like making this a bad decision, that's gonna ruin the rest of our lives. But if you're really honest with yourself and your 20s, even in your 30s, there's very little you can do to like, ruin your entire life. Unless you let it right, you may make a decision that causes hard times on yourself. And it may be a real struggle to get out of, it may take a long time to get out of but it's not going to ruin the rest of your life unless you let it. So, you know, I've tried to live that way where something seems interesting. It's it's slightly different from what I'm doing. How do I know what I really, really want to do for the rest of my life unless I try some stuff. And so Microsoft was, you know, a prime example of that. I knew I do a lot more public speaking and things like that. I'm traditionally more of just an engineer. I just like working on on interesting and hard problems. I never really wanted to be in public view. But I've always loved mentoring people too. So that was one of those risks. I think took that I could completely hate public speaking. And but what's what's the worst that happens? I decide this isn't for me, but I tried it. You know, I don't think that there's a company in the world that's going to be like, well, you went and tried this public speaking thing, and you didn't like it. So you can't be an engineer anymore.

Tim Bourguignon 35:23
Yeah, I'm, I'm trying to, to, to, I totally agree with what you say. But I'm trying to match that up with the advice I would give someone in high school right now that is really interested in in programming and says, Well, I don't see how college will would, would help me? And would the advice be, just try it? Take this opening door? And and just don't go into your studies and do it? Or would still be interesting? What would you say to to such a person?

Erik St Martin 35:58
So this is actually a topic I've been very conflicted about, because I wouldn't say just because I didn't go to school doesn't mean that people shouldn't. And things like that, I think there's, there's a couple of questions you need to ask yourself, right? One is, what way? Do you find best to learn? For some people, that's formal education, here's the class, here's the book, you need to read, here's the test, right? And then other people are a lot more hands on learning through failure types of people. So if you're more of that type of person, you'll you may get bored with school, right? It may be a struggle for you. But you still have to invest the time, right? You can't get around the time investment of learning. It's just the process in which you learn, you know, secondly, having having a degree can be beneficial, especially breaking into the field. Nowadays, I actually have a huge problem with the fact that many companies don't hire juniors anymore. Which I, which I hate, because I think the number one use of a senior is to create more seniors. But a lot of people like every company just wants seniors and we're not, you know, how do you how do we make more seniors if we're not hiring juniors. So having that degree can be a good foot in the door, unless you have like a, you know, a wildly successful open source project, and people know who you are, and things like that. It can be a challenge. But I think another thing with college that can be beneficial for people is if you're not sure what area of computer science you're interested in, it's a very good way to get exposure to a lot of areas and figure out what area you might want to work in. You know, for me, it's been kind of this working my way down the stack, right? So I got into web development. And then I got into, you know, systems programming and things like that I've been moving further and further down the stack. Now, I actually want to learn more about compilers and things like that. But that's sort of like an evolution over my career. Had I just went through a couple years of school hit all of these things, I may have found an area that I loved more. So yeah, I mean, I think, coming into tech, probably the hardest decision to make is what area you want to focus in, and I see it all the time, what language should I learn? Should I learn web development? Should I learn IoT Should I you know, on and on and on, people don't really know what area to get into. So I think more importantly, is just finding something, find a project you're passionate about right now, and work on it and learn all of the things because you're not, you're not walling yourself off into some area as much as you think you are. A lot of these things start creating foundations, were learning other areas of technology become much, much easier. There's a talk that Katrina Owen gave at gopher con, called minding the gap. And it's really, really interesting if you get a chance to watch that because she basically talks about how knowledge is really like a graph, where each of these things that we learn, we're putting a.on, our graph. And then a lot of times for people, these things aren't connected. But some new piece of information comes in and allows us to make connections that weren't previously there. And that's why it appears like some people learn these things really, really fast. And it's not necessarily their their natural aptitude for it. It's just that they already had this other knowledge and they were able to draw some connections and make sense of it faster.

Tim Bourguignon 39:46
That is fascinating. I will have a look at this talk and put the talk in the show notes. Absolutely. Thank you for that. And unfortunately, we have reached the end of our time box and it was a fantastic discussion. Before we wrap up, where can people talk to you or contact you if they want to know more about your story?

Erik St Martin 40:08
Yeah, I'm on if you're in the NGO world, I'm on the gopher slack. My handles Eric St. Martin. It's my whole name, no punctuation jam together. My Twitter handle is the same thing. Era k St. m AR ti n. My DMS are open. I'm happy to answer questions. I'm always happy to mentor people, especially if you're kind of coming up the way I did, where you're maybe a high school dropout and kind of worried that you you won't be able to achieve certain things

Tim Bourguignon 40:39
in Do you have anything on your plate in the coming month that you would like to advertise here?

Erik St Martin 40:45
I'm doing a bunch of talks at Microsoft conferences ignite the tour my next to one of them will be done by the time this airs and then in Mexico City in mid April, which I think and but gopher con. So that's in late July in San Diego this year.

Tim Bourguignon 41:08
Go gopher con. Cool. Well, then thank you very much. That was a pleasure talking to you. Yeah, thanks for so much for having me. And this has been another episode of developer's journey, and we'll see each other in two weeks. Dear listener, if you haven't subscribed yet, you can find this podcast in iTunes, Google music, Stitcher, Spotify, and much more. Head over to www dot journey dot info. To read the show notes. find all the links mentioned during the episode. And of course links to the podcast on all these platforms. Don't miss the next developer's journey story by subscribing to the podcast with the app of your choice right now. If you like what we do, please rate the podcast, write a comment on these platforms, and promote the podcast and social media. This really helps fellow developers discover the podcast and do fantastic journeys. Thank you