8 Bits with Sam Julien (again!)
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Pj Metz 2:59
Wow we don't know how to fade out songs.
Brandon Minnick 3:07
Welcome, everybody. Welcome back to eight fits. I'm your host Brandon Minnick. And with me is PJ Metz. That's just loving, loving the new intro music.
Pj Metz 3:19
Oh, I forgot about that drum fill in the middle. It just do and I was like, Oh yeah, that's good.
Brandon Minnick 3:28
It's really good to fill everybody in, but she can't see because we're just chatting about it behind the scenes. We're going, Hey, it's me. I remember how long this video is. I think it's two minutes and then two minutes passes. Two minutes. 15 seconds passes. Maybe it's three minutes. Because it really goes. I hope it fades out. I forget how it ends. And then sorry, well,
Pj Metz 3:52
we're live Oh, I got to put that thing in a music editor and actually have it fade out sorry for the abrupt It surprised me cuz I was. I was at a document making sure we had some stuff ready. And the music cut my wife. I'm gonna be on the air soon. I have to be looking at the camera.
Brandon Minnick 4:12
We did back.
Pj Metz 4:13
Listen, they said it couldn't be done. And they've got to stop saying it because we keep doing it. And in defiance of all of all of the the naysayers that this show has. Why are there so many naysayers? Just all the
Brandon Minnick 4:27
haters? gotta prove them wrong.
PJ, how is your week? Man? It's been a good week so far, and it's about to get better. Because tonight, I leave for Washington DC for a education conference because I am the Education evangelist at GitLab. Like that's my job. And we are my manager and I are finally going to our first education conference to talk to people about GitLab and what we can do for education. I'm running a workshop for the first time not
Pj Metz 5:00
Virtual. And even the virtual when I did, it was just like me and like 13 people and I was like, This is how you use GitLab. But this is for something with code. And it's complicated and a little scary. But my boss and I, and a great intern, Alejandro Rusi, who came and worked at git lab through the Google Summer of Code program, he created this awesome thing called courseware as code and it's basically a way to use GitLab. in your classroom, your students get familiar with the ideas of DevOps, your students get familiar with GitLab. And you've got some great content to help fill in your class. Because, Brandon, I feel like you can talk to this when you're majoring in computer science. You don't always get the stuff that's actually happening on the job.
Brandon Minnick 5:45
Oh, gosh, yes, I can absolutely vouch for that. And if you're watching this, and you're currently going through your computer science major, great stick with it, I promise. It's good stuff. But yeah, computer science in schools, or colleges specifically, focus a lot on theory. And so you'll know what a binary tree is. And you'll know how to sort an array with a bubble sort. But your first job request, right? Like, oh, yeah, just, yeah, open up a PR. You're like, What? Is it that?
you've never written code on the same codebase with multiple people have you?
There's this thing called Git, and then
Pj Metz 6:34
Oh, yeah. Funny, because I have such a different route to become a
person working in tech. And when you were helping teach me you were like, so you need to know Git, and you need to know this. And you need to understand I was like, okay, and then I realized that that's not necessarily the same education that you're getting in with a degree. And the degree, like you said, is important. You have talked about some amazing stuff with computers that just goes way above my head. But it's not the same as on the job training. And we're looking to help professors who want to give students more real world experience to be able to give that so yeah, conference tomorrow, like it's cold in DC, I, the Hawaiian shirt won't fly there, you know? What's it called, again, and SIG con and connoisseur, and I think I have the link if I'm smart and know how to copy a link. But you know, me, I sometimes edit comments to just end in the middle of it. It's very exciting. It's a it's a hotel, technically, in Virginia, in Crystal City. But huge conference, lots of great educators from all over America and the world, and specifically with a focus on
Pj Metz 7:48
educational technology and technology education, really. So it's great for me and my boss, it's great for me, I'm getting more experience. And I'm going to meet a lot of great people there. So that's, that's going on what's going on with you, Brandon?
Brandon Minnick 8:03
Love it. Yeah, I'll go quick, because we've got an awesome guest this week, and want to get to as soon as possible, but I want to shout out something we're doing Microsoft called.net comp, drop the link for that here in the comments as well. If you are a dotnet developer, this is like Christmas, because every year around this timeframe, so early November, Microsoft hosts dotnet comp, it's November 9, specifically. This year, that's a hard word, specifically. So what it is, is Microsoft is releasing the new version of dotnet. So dotnet six is finally going to what we call GA is hit general, very general availability. It's been in preview for months, I've been using it and playing around with it, but saving my production apps until GA comes. And so yeah, dotnet six is coming with that become C Sharp 10. We also get the dotnet Maui's coming with that. So there's all sorts of goodies if you don't know what any of those words mean. That's okay to check out dotnet comp dotnet. And you can join us next Tuesday, November. Yeah.
Pj Metz 9:21
And I know I'm gonna throw the link up there for you real quick. You're also working on the Xamarin toolkit. And that's very important. So that as well.
Brandon Minnick 9:30
Xamarin UI toolkit. So almost every developers out there, we just pushed out release version 1.3 minutes ago, today, this is hot off the presses, folks have been asking about when we're going to bump this release, and we had one more pull request we wanted to add in. So there's a cool new feature that makes brings what we call compound animations. So basically animations that are done for you. So it makes it really easy. To add it into your apps, plus, we bumped the Xamarin Forms dependency so that you're no longer locked into a specific version of Xamarin Forms. I know a couple folks had complaints with that. And I totally get it. I agree. So we fixed it. So check out version 1.3 of the Xamarin community toolkit today.
Pj Metz 10:16
That's right. So we've got soft taco writer saying to my favorite people, well, you're about to have a third favorite person, self taco writer, our guest today is a guest he's been on the show before, is one that both Brandon and I have, like, in real life ties to, through school or through music and through a host of things. And I'm very excited to reintroduce to all the people here watching and listening later on. Please welcome from all zero San Julian, saying. Welcome, I need a reggae horn sound effect because I think like, I don't have it, and I think I need that.
Sam Julien 11:02
Anyway, well, thank you. Thanks for having me. I forgot to. I forgot in appreciate it. Clarify. My last name is pronounced Julene. I'm trying to get
Pj Metz 11:11
lame. That's all my fault. So I'll see you guys keep
Sam Julien 11:15
forgetting. Oh, mnpg. I that's what he felt so bad about that. That he left the show. Okay, now.
Pj Metz 11:24
Julian, I'm sorry. I usually am very big on making sure the names right.
Sam Julien 11:28
Now it's a it's followed me my entire life. I just have to get better about speaking up about it. But yeah, should I let
Pj Metz 11:37
Brandon do the introduction? Actually.
Sam Julien 11:41
Brandon Minnick 11:41
that's a breather. Remember, Sam? Sam, thanks so much for joining us again. For anybody who who missed the last show. First. Pause this go check it out. Sam had an amazing interview on a previous episode of eight bits they can find on eight bits.tv. But, Sam, tell us who you are and what you do.
Sam Julien 12:05
Yeah. So I am the director of Developer Relations at odd zero, which basically means I'm in charge of all things dev rel. So events, sponsorships Ambassadors Program. And under me is Anna Sid Ray, who's the manager. She's going to be the international manager eventually. But but right now she's managing the whole team. And yeah, we've got a great thing going over there. So I really love it. I've been adopt through for three years, I've had quite a journey in developer relations and developer advocacy. I'm a self taught developer. We talked about that on the last show, but I'm a self taught developer. And yeah, that's, that's me in a nutshell. I also write a weekly newsletter called developer micro skills that's all about practical ways to improve as a developer and developer advocate. So I send I send that out every week. And I've also written a book called Getting Started in developer relations. I'm really passionate about getting new people into developer relations, and then also training them to be successful. So yeah, that's me,
Brandon Minnick 13:21
fam. Absolutely incredible. Yeah, Sam, you You were once the only person at the AUC zero Developer Relations team. Is that right?
Sam Julien 13:31
No, no, I was never that person. Ah, no. I, I started on the content team, and then moved over to the different Developer Relations team. We've always had at least a handful of people around the world. On the team, we've got Sam Belen and Belgium, we've got Ben decry. In Australia, we've got just temporal in Brazil, we've got Tyler Clark in the US, now I'm gonna miss somebody, and they're gonna
rattle off everybody in one go. But yeah, we've got we've got a lot of people on the team.
Pj Metz 14:10
Team, that's a good size to a lot of places, their developer relations team is is just getting started Are you know, there's like a few people. And it feels like you've had a good hand in making this team what it is, I mean, obviously, as Director, you're certainly going to have a hand in it going forward. And again, like you said, earlier, you literally wrote the book on on getting into developer relations. So um, it's nebulous. If you ask someone what Dev Rel is, it's it's a nebulous answer almost every time so it'd be cool to get a definite answer on what it is from the authority. And this is the definition we're going to use going forward, y'all. But how do you define like Dev Rel and developer relations Sam, like what do you consider it to be?
Sam Julien 14:55
I mean, I look at developer relations. I mean, at its simple List most fundamental Developer Relations is basically being the mediator between the the users or potential users of a software product. And, and then the company. I mean, and so dev advocates with developer advocates, basically, their job is to listen to the developer community interact with developer community, and then pass that back to the company and advocate for developers best interest. And that, that looks really different depending on I mean, there's like a million different ways that you can accomplish that sometimes it's through events, like conferences and meetups, sometimes it's through product feedback, like you'll have a, you know, let's say you're, you get feedback on the on an SDK that your company uses. And you pass that back to the product team. Sometimes it's through programs like Ambassador programs, or champion programs, things like that. Sometimes it's through community forums, there's there's myriad ways to slice and dice, whatever being the advocate for developers in your company it looks like, but that's one of the things that's so exciting about it as a field is that there's just so many different incarnations of developer relations and so many different ways that you can be creative. And that's what I really love about it. I love that it's a combination of being creative, but then also having an impact on a business. And yeah, it's it's a great field
Unknown Speaker 16:37
Brandon Minnick 16:38
in and say, I think one of the best things about this role is it's not just, we're not just focusing on technical skills. And I think this is really where you shine view found that something that has been often overlooked in just the tech field in general is that we're people to somehow we missed that after, you know, decades of this field being around. But you're, you're able to focus on mental mental well being soft skills. And that's really where I think the community looks up to you. And so I'm curious how, how did you get into that niche? And it seems obvious now that of course, we need to worry about this. But how did you essentially discovered this?
Sam Julien 17:32
That's a good question. I don't know if anybody's ever asked me that before. Like, I, it's kind of, I kind of just naturally started doing it. Because I care a lot about that stuff. And I think I just kind of noticed that there was somewhat of a gap in that, like there's been there's, I'm not by any means, like the first person ever talk about this stuff. There's tons of people who do, but I think there's been a little bit of a gap of people being willing to talk about, like, the more human side of things. One of the reasons for me that I'm so passionate about this is like DevRel is sort of a double edged sword, there's, there's a lot of really good stuff about it, like, it's, it can be a really exciting job like you can you get to travel normally, I mean, it's a little different right now, but you get to travel, you get to have, like, a lot of visibility, you get to grow your career a lot, that kind of thing. But at the same time, there's also a high risk to it, it's really easy to get taken advantage of in a dev rel job, like, and just sort of run into the ground like you can. Because, because it's so exciting, and there's so much traveling so many opportunities. If you don't work at a company that really values you and your health, and your well being, it's very easy to just sort of become like a corporate, like, just zombie that has to that just has to like, pump out content and speak at events and and that that's exhausting. And there's a lot of work that goes into events and content and that kind of thing. And so if you don't, if you don't know that that's not okay, then it's easy to just sort of be like, Oh, well, I guess this is just the way it is like this is just a job and I just need to try harder, and I just need to like, suck it up and like not complain and that kind of thing. And like so I've been really passionate about you know, like, I don't think it's enough to just try to get more people into the field. I think we have to be sure that we're also helping them understand like, how to navigate those kinds of situations and how to speak up for your health and well being and and also just understanding that In, in the dev rel game, like, You are the asset, like you're the, you're the prize, like, like, companies need you more than you need them. And I know that's probably really dangerous for me to say as a director. But it's true. I mean, it's honestly true. Like they're like, because dev advocates not not to, like, put people too much up on a pedestal. But like, the, the, that bridge between the developer community and the company is incredibly valuable. And it's a high, it's a high stakes game, right? Like you're putting your reputation on the line for a company. And, and that's, that's a big ask, you know, and so I think it's just about kind of the power dynamics of knowing that, like, you have a lot of value that you're bringing to the table. And so you don't need to be in a situation where you're being like, treated badly or taken advantage of, or something like that. And that's really where it all boils down to. And it started, I think it kind of started with me running when I was running the ambassador's program. And I was talking a lot to aspiring dev advocates, and then I started managing dev advocates, then I started managing managers of DEV advocates and, and so just like seeing the themes, there, and like, I'm really lucky, I've gotten taught a lot of those like principles and a lot of those skills of how to, like stand up to bosses, and how to negotiate and that kind of thing, just through a variety of life experiences and that kind of thing. And so I'm really passionate about paying that forward, and teaching people who didn't get that, you know, didn't grow up being taught that kind of stuff, you know, yeah,
Pj Metz 21:45
that's so important. You talks a lot about the idea that developer relations, and people who work in dev rel are this unique and important bridge, and we Aki I feel like we occupy a very specific space that not just anyone can come in and fill every person in deverill that I've met, is a personality, and is a person that is representing a company, as opposed to oh, I am just a team member of this company. And so it's it's this very unique position where like, you need to be able to, to go out and be a face, and you also need to have the skills to back it up, because developers are not gonna want to pay attention if you don't have the that skill and knowledge that they need in order to interact with the product. So I mean, of course, I want to say I'm special and unique, because that's been my MO my entire life. But I think you're right, that this is a very important position and that you're valuable. If a company's not putting the time into its developer relations group, then they're just gonna think it's a hammer that they can throw up everything like Oh, go over here and talk to these, oh, now go, we need you to do a demo. And oh, make sure you're doing this and make a lot of content. And that's not being used correctly. So it's nice to hear that, like, you know, as a director, you understand that? It's, it's a fine tool, rather than like a big smash tool that just goes after everything.
Sam Julien 23:11
Yeah, yeah. And, and I know, like, some people might hear, hear me say, some of those things, and think that I'm kind of playing into this whole, like, Dev advocates are just internet celebrity kind of thing. And like, that's not, that's not, that's not really what I'm saying. I'm more saying, you know, like, it's just that, for example, I've had dev advocates messaged me, and be like, hey, my company is saying that, like, I'm not allowed to use my Twitter for personal stuff, you know, like, or I'm not allowed to create content on my personal site, unless it relates back to the company and things like that. And, you know, like, those are the kinds of things like, and this person doesn't, didn't really know. I mean, you're in a really awkward position then like, because you're, it's your job and like your boss, and like, what do you what are you supposed to do in that situation? You know, like, but, you know, and so I think having somebody tell them, like, that's like, not okay, like, the company doesn't own you. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Like, workout, whatever relationship is appropriate as far as like, what hours you're spending and what you know, like, you know, yeah, maybe you don't work on your personal stuff during your 40 hours of work or whatever, but like, right, saying that you can't publish on your own blog, or make your own videos, or that kind of thing is like, ludicrous. You know, that's, that's part of what makes a Developer Advocate valuable as they're building their personal brand and all that stuff. So the kinds of things that I worry about, you know,
Pj Metz 24:36
you'd never would have gotten Pied Piper if Richard hadn't been allowed to work on his own personal project on his own time. And that's from Silicon Valley, which I just started watching and I understand a lot better now. Because when I first tried to watch it when it came out, I was just confused.
Sam Julien 24:56
That's funny. Oh,
Brandon Minnick 24:57
so So Sam
PJ touched on something in the in the intro that we all we have this strange connection between all of us. So for for those that don't know, Sam and I actually went to high school together so we go way back and we're also part of percussionists we played in the on the drumline, the marching band and orchestral pit. Sam still one of the best orchestral percussionists I've ever had the pleasure of playing with. He's incredible.
And then we all went to University of Florida together where, but we didn't really know that.
Pj Metz 25:41
Yeah, no close.
Brandon Minnick 25:43
Because Sam, Sam left high school before me, so we kind of lost touch. But Sam, in college, you didn't do anything with tech? What actually
Sam Julien 25:55
Brandon Minnick 25:59
And so some people might be surprised to learn, but what actually, what was it that actually inspired you to make your way into technology and leaving behind? You know, what your, what your degree is in what you studied in college and spent all that money in suicide?
Sam Julien 26:21
Yeah, I definitely have a roundabout way into tech. I, I, I actually have been into web development. Since I was about 12 years old, I started learning HTML, I had this cousin that was an engineer and kind of pointed me in the right direction. But you know, this was this was like
1999, or 2000, or something. So there was no YouTube or code, CAD me or Treehouse, or like any of those places. So I really, I actually just, like, got books from the library. And like,
there were minimal tutorials online, I did a lot of just like, view source and copy, paste. And so I started learning that stuff. When I was young, and I, I really wanted to become a computer programmer. And I went to USF. And I started as a computer science major, and then had to take like, three different levels of calculus and physics and
a bunch of other things and was like, I don't really want to do this. I just want to learn to code and
that I probably made a bad decision. They're like getting out of computer science, but I ended up going into liberal arts and sure seems to
Pj Metz 27:37
have worked out for you so far. So
Sam Julien 27:39
I mean, I guess it did it did. I feel a little I always kind of regret because it's like, if you just if I just stuck with those first couple of years, I could have my life trajectory would have been really different. But I guess, you know, I wouldn't have been where I'm at, I guess so. But anyway, long story short, like I ended up getting a degree in religious religion, which is, which is not a theology degree. It's a it's basically a history and sociology degree. And I was going to become an academic and all that stuff. And, and so that's why I've a role I'm really interested in like research and data and stuff like that. But that didn't pan out either. Because it turns out, being a religion major in economic recession in 2008, and 2009, is not really a great way to be able to afford life. So, so I sort of stumbled my way into finance, I was really just trying to like find something to be able to get a job and like pay the bills and that kind of stuff. And I ended up doing financial sales and operations and stuff like that for about five years. But my I wasn't ever I was, I got really disillusioned really quickly. And I sort of went into that as a idealistic 20 something being like, I'm gonna change the world and like, help everybody. Like, I got into it. And it was like, Oh, actually, I'm just gonna, like, manage a bunch of wealthy people's money. And, like, it wasn't really what I wanted. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but like, that really wasn't what I wanted. And I was like, studying for this really complex, complex brokerage license and stuff. And I was just like, doing a risk analysis in my mind thinking like, so I'm just gonna keep getting like, I mean, take more and more responsibility and like, not really get that much out of this. Like, I just, I wasn't really into it. And at the brokerage I worked for, we had a software department, they and sort of the claim to fame of that brokerage was that they wrote their own trading platform. And so I was able to talk with that team and just sort of be like, Hey, do you have any advice for me of like going back into development and I had always thought that you had to have a college degree in computer science. In order to become a developer like this, this era that we're in now, where you see so many self taught developers and non traditional backgrounds and stuff that didn't exist in that time period, you know, there really wasn't that much exposure. I mean, YouTube was only created in 2006, you know, and that was just sort of getting started. And social media was only just starting to take off. I mean, that sounds like the, the, the Jurassic period, but like, honestly, I didn't know, I didn't know any self taught developers. And so I was asking around the company, and it turned out that like, one of the lead architects will have had never finished college or anything, you know, and I was, like, totally shocked. Like, I had no idea. He was like, Oh, I was a logistics me a linguistics major. And I dropped out, like, you know, like, I've been coding for 15 years now, you know, like, that guy is now a principal architect at a giant financial company, you know, yeah. And so. So that really inspired me. And I was like, okay, and they sent me a bunch of resources, and really, really helped me kind of figure out the self taught path, I did a lot of PluralSight courses. Did a lot of I learned all my all my first courses work case, Scott Allen's C sharp courses, rest in peace. And so yeah, I went down that road, and then ended up getting my first job in Portland and moving out to Portland, and to do to do jQuery and sequel and, and then yeah, eventually found my way into the Angular community. And then found a way into dev rel through that I don't know how much detail to get into, I feel like I'm rambling.
Pj Metz 31:48
There's that sort of like rounded back
Sam Julien 31:51
a lot in and like eight years. So you were
Pj Metz 31:55
into tech, and then you like, we're not gonna be able to do that I need calculus I'm done. And then finding your way back in is, is one of the more interesting paths I've seen of like, feeling like you would like to do it, getting sort of like the not like jitters but seeing what's expected and feeling. Like that's not what I was hoping it would be. But then finding your way back eventually. And one of the things that you said during that story, I think was really important, because it took seeing that someone else was able to do it, to know that you could do it as well. And I think that's what's so important about people with non traditional backgrounds, is seeing other people who have done it. And as more people do that and become visible, that increases the amount of people who've seen it. So you're absolutely right that nowadays there's there's almost this explosion of non traditional backgrounds self taught, I'm saying that I'm community taught because I feel like that is encompassing what Brandon and Chloe and all the people that I've met have done for me, is yeah, I took an online course and I learned to code. But so much of what I learned was from interacting with the community. And that's only possible because there is this welcoming nature to it now, and there is a sort of, like, embracing of, of non traditional backgrounds now and it, it needs to be much better in many places. But I do think that it's much better than it would have been in you know, 2009 2010 When we're talking about, you know,
Sam Julien 33:23
yeah, yeah, for sure. I like that phrase, too. i i have i philosophically want to remember to not say self taught developer and I feel like
Pj Metz 33:34
you're pretty self taught from what you've said, like, there's people that helped you, but like, you had to go and find resources that at a time did not exist, I fell on like, a different online things. And like, there were what do they call it not like Hackbright. And like these boots boot, I will said bootstraps boot camps, like there's so much available now. That like, I accidentally started doing it. You know, you had this intention. And it was a different time. So don't don't discount it. But like, yeah, if you want to start saying community talk, I took it from someone else.
Sam Julien 34:08
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I would say yes, and no, I mean, there is one. One of the reasons that I feel so like, ridiculously lucky. And I'm so motivated to help other people is like, I did that that architect that architect that I mentioned, like, he really made a difference in my career, because he he showed me the path, you know, like, I didn't know, I didn't first of all, I didn't know it was possible. And then I didn't know how to actually get there. And he like, took a lot of time to teach me like, I mean, he didn't like get a blackboard out and start teaching me how to code.
Pj Metz 34:42
Like, there was like, wait and chalk. Yeah, like,
Sam Julien 34:45
it wasn't like that. But like, he did do like code reviews with me and he like pointed me in the right direction. And he checked in on me and that kind of thing. And like, not everybody has that. And I feel really, really lucky that I did and I try to kind of virtually Be that person for other people through my newsletter and my writings and stuff like that is like having somebody to just like sit you down and be like, Hey, here's the, here's the game that you're about to try to play. And here's how you win it. And like, here's how you can succeed and all that, that that, that really motivates me, because I feel like if I didn't have him, kind of giving me some pointers and stuff, like I don't know, if I would have ever because I didn't come from, like, I didn't, I didn't have any, like, real, like connections or family members or anything like that one cousin that I mentioned. I mean, he was like, 15 years older than me, we weren't like close or anything like that was ancient history. You know, like, that wasn't anything. Whereas I know, I know, some people like they have like parents or siblings or something who were like in tech, or like in related fields, and they might have a little bit better understanding. This was all completely different to me, I had no idea how the tech industry worked or like, what it was. And so having somebody show that, to me was, like, really valuable, because I think I would have just sort of spun my wheels for a long time. And then yeah, never actually figured out how to actually get a job.
Pj Metz 36:09
Yeah, well, not knowing where to go. Next what to do is really important, I want to bring up your, your developer micro skills comm website, so we can show it off a little bit. But like things like, how to self mentor, how to ask for feedback, how to beat feeling overwhelmed how to finish what you start, these are like, when you don't know where to go, you can just stop and spin your wheels, and then eventually stop hitting the gas and then you fall off. So to have 1524 people who have subscribed to your to your newsletter, that's people that you're that you're reaching, you know, that's fantastic. And like, there's someone out there, that's gonna be like, Well, I wouldn't have gotten where I am today without Sam, Julian's like, website, you know, like, it's, it's very helpful, it's very, you're doing it like you're, you're that guy, you're that you're that architect now.
Brandon Minnick 37:02
And, and same I love that you, you call it a game, because I used to say the same, same term. Because I'll tell people, you have to play the game. And but I'd love to dive deeper in this because I know but what I mean by that is, when we're when we're growing up, and we're kids, we're kind of told you work hard, and you'll succeed, and your boss will reward you. And that's how you get her praise. It's just got to work really hard. And then it wasn't until I had an amazing mentor at my first job, that she explained to me how things actually work there, it's like, well, if you actually want to get promoted, then the best thing to do is to look at what's expected of the level above you, and operate at that level. So meet the expectations before you ask for the job. Because you've already proven you can do the job. And then she she showed me on her side, like here's how promotions work at the company, we all get in a room together, we basically have to fight for you, you to get that promotion. So she's the one that taught me how to record all of my accomplishments condensed those down into we her her thing was, it should all fit on one PowerPoint slide. The reasons why and they should be very impactful, they should be tangible. And to me, that's a that's part of the game. And so whenever you have whenever I mentor folks, especially now that I'm at Microsoft, and I've been here for a couple years, and I know how all these systems work, it's really easy to break that down. And you can say, Okay, well, we have to do this, this and this. And then we can get rewarded and get that promotion. It's not just Well, I worked really hard. And I put in 80 hours a week. And it's like, because at the end of the day, it's like Yeah, everybody's good at their job. That's why they have the job. And so yeah, I'm just curious. Um, that's that's kind of what I mean, when I say play the game. How do you define the game yourself, Sam?
Sam Julien 39:19
So I'm, I've been a big strategy game fan my entire life. Any any and every type of strategy game. I mean, growing up in the 90s, I was really into all of the different, like, super nintendo RPGs, like all of the Zagros and all of the Chrono Trigger, and all of
Pj Metz 39:40
all time, that's the official, it's podcast policy. Don't ask us. Thank you.
Sam Julien 39:46
Yeah, so I mean, I kind of look at it as a as a strategy for playing for playing a game and I think one of the first times I really put this together was with the conference speaking and learning Learning that that is a game like, so I thought, I kind of thought that the way it worked was, you just were like, you'd be like a really incredible engineer, and then somebody would just fall down from the sky and invite you to speak at a conference, because you were just the best developer that's ever existed, you know, and they would just pluck you out and put you on stage. You're the chosen one. Yeah. And so I was very discouraged by that, because it was like, I'm not like the best engineer that ever existed. And like, I, you know, how am I going to do this, and, and then, you know, slowly, I realized that there's actually that the speaking, that becoming a speaker is a lot more of like, it's more akin to a sales game than it is an engineering game, like, you're trying to persuade the conference speakers, that you're going to be a win win for both the audience and for the conference. And, and it's going to help you in the process, you know, there's a there's an art to like, writing a good proposal, and you want to, like, apply to a bunch of different ones and play the odds and, and then, and then that's just when you're first getting started. And then how you continue on that is by building relationships, and you get to know organizers and then it's, you know, that comes to comes time around for them to find conferences. There's, and there's, there's pros and cons of this, this is I'm not saying that this is a 100%, like, ethical and just and like this is the perfect system. But there is a game there that that is being played. And the only way we can make it more ethical and more justice if we teach more people how to play it. So so. So that's where I started kind of putting that together was like, oh, okay, there's, this is not a, there's sort of an invisible game being played around me about this, like speaking at conferences thing. And it's not the best engineers, it's the people who know how to play this game. And that's what I really like, I love to learn games, and then win them. And then, and then teach other people how to how to win them. You know, that's like my MO so. So that's sort of the path that I was on was, I learned that and then, as I, as I started to teach other people, I was like, I like teaching other people to do this more than I like doing it myself, you know, it brings me a lot more joy to see like a junior developer become, like, international speaker than it does, like. For me, it's like, that's fun. But like, it's not that I'm not, I'm not a very like ego driven person. I just like it. I don't like to be the center of attention and stuff. So I get a lot of joy out of helping other people do that. You know,
Pj Metz 42:51
I think that's such a cool distinction to make to where it's like, like I you know, you've given talks, you still do a bunch of outreach, but you enjoy helping other people get there more. And I feel like that means being directors kind of a great situation for you. Because you're in this position where you're now your main focus at work is assisting other people in, in doing better and doing more. Um, you've mentioned twice now the, the ambassador program from auth. Zero. I'd love to hear more about what that is and what that's like and what that does. And talk a little shop real quick. Tell us about the the auth zero ambassador program.
Sam Julien 43:32
Sure, yeah, I was sitting here realizing that I am a terrible developer marketer, because I'm sitting here wearing a hash node shirt. I'm actually traveling to I'm traveling to Cascadia J S in about two hours. And this is a very comfortable travel shirt. And it occurred to me that I should be wearing an austere ambassador. Sure. So do as I say not as I do, I guess the the ambassador's program is awesome. It's our, like global, basically, kind of an extended Dev Rel program. Basically, we, we teach people developer relations by way of auth. Zero. So we have people join the program. Usually they're I mean, this is just sort of the average profile is 10 tends to be people who are like three to five years into their developer career. And they're trying to figure out if they want to go into developer relations, or if they just want to, like, grow their personal brand. That's not to say we don't have we have people all over the spectrum as far as like experience and stuff. But that tends to be it's a lot of people who are interested in getting into developer advocacy. So basically, what what we do is they create content that uses off zero conference talks or blog articles or workshops, or whatever else, and we give them a bunch of different perks in exchange like in the in the before times, and hopefully we'll resume this before For too long knock on wood, we gave travel support. So if somebody was going to go speak at a conference about something related to identity and security, then we would foot the bill for their airfare and hotel. I'm hoping we can start that back up again soon. But aside from that, we also have like, swag that's specific to the Ambassadors Program, we have trainings we have, we can get them access to like beta features, or, you know, like, last year, we, or was it earlier this year, who even knows anymore, we launched the auth zero CLI. And so we had a group of ambassadors do a bunch of testing on the CLI before it was launched. And it was awesome, because they gave a bunch of feedback about like, running it on Windows, running it on Linux. And so it's a great, it's a great program, because it's a platform for people to grow their careers. And it's a lot of fun. And we have, like 160, I think as where we're at right now. 170. Somewhere in that around the world, I think somewhere around 70 different countries. This is our beautiful new homepage that we launched. It's real printing this year. Yeah, we got some custom illustrations done. And, and I would be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to our program coordinator, Christie, who now basically runs this program, she basically took it over from me, and she's done an amazing job with it. And she's sort of an unsung hero, cuz she's not a, she's not a dev advocate that you see giving talks at conferences and stuff. But she's an absolutely critical part of this team. And she's done some really, really amazing work, growing the program and stuff like that. So definitely, if you're interested in getting into developer advocacy, or just learning about giving talks and making content and stuff like that, to grow your career, definitely check out the Ambassadors Program. Yeah, that's, that's my, that's my sales pitch. Yeah,
Pj Metz 46:57
we're gonna, we're gonna come back and talk more about about Sam and about all of zero and a bunch of good stuff after a real quick 32nd ad break, and it's good. If you're hearing my voice, that means you've been listening to or watching eight bits with Brandon and PJ. And we're here to talk to you about your product. And how it can help you in your life by to do whatever your product does. So if you're an avid listener of the show, or you watch us on Twitch, then you will know that your product your product is right for you.
I just can't believe how handsome that guy is like I can't get over what a good looking fellow in a pineapple Hawaiian shirt. He is. Please, we want we want to change that ad. We don't want it to just be me talking about how your ad can be here. So yeah, you can email us Hello at eight bits.tv. That's correct. Right. Hello at eight bits that TV. Yep. Yeah, email us at Hello, dot eight bits. Hello at eight bits.tv. Tell us hey, I want to put an ad space on there, I see that you guys have millions of viewers. That's false. I can't say that. You guys have viewers. And we want to reach those viewers. So contact us and we'd love to get you on here.
Brandon Minnick 48:28
Please do. So sent there. There's one thing that we haven't touched on exactly yet. But you have. So you have a book called guide to tiny experiments. And it's I do feel a little attacked. Reading. Why is it so hard to finish what we start? Why do we tend to jump from shiny thing to shiny thing? And that's what this book is all about helping you finish those projects. But I can't help wondering. This seems to have a lot of parallels to the stories you were just telling us where? Yeah, I wanted to learn more about this. And then I did it and I wanted to become a conference speaker and then I did it Are Are these the also the life lessons of Sam Julene what inspired this book?
Sam Julien 49:23
Essentially, yeah, I mean, I had noticed I noticed a few different themes in over these last few years. One of them was that sometimes emotionally, I would feel like I needed a massive change or a massive like endeavor. And then if I ever got myself to get started, I would notice that a lot of the payoff would come like a lot sooner than I realized, like, like I thought that I needed to like get a totally different job or like completely changed my life or something like that. And often it was the smallest or day to day things that actually made a difference. It's I tell this to people all the time who are interested in dev rel, because sometimes people genuinely do want to become a Developer Advocate, they, and they want to do it as a job. Often it's because they want to travel or speak at conferences, or just kind of grow, grow their career and stuff like that. And that's all wonderful. But I tell people, like you can do that without being a developer advocate. Go like, don't, don't think about like, Oh, I've got to totally change my career and become a Developer Advocate, just start speaking at a couple of meetups, like run an experiment and do a couple of meetups, try to get your first conference talk, and see what you think. And you might do a couple of those and be like, Alright, I'm good, you know, like, like, I did this and like, I, you know, it's fine. Or you might be like, No, I want to do this full time, like, you know, but that I just think, the tiny experiments approaches like, just do do iterative things to where you can start building up like, quick wins, and, and like building your confidence. And then you'll be surprised at how big of a payoff there is in just those little things. And you'll get a lot more clarity around the big picture life goals that you're trying to accomplish. You know what I mean?
Pj Metz 51:27
That's a great, great points, like, the idea of doing these tinier things. And, and using that to try, because so many people are afraid to just to just go and try sometimes, because worried about failure, you're going to start it and then you're not going to finish and to have a framework available that you can follow that helps you try the new thing and do it in smaller versions, those iterations really, really help people to to level themselves up. And again, it's like you said, you can experiment a little and then be like, ah, that wasn't quite for me, you know what I mean?
Sam Julien 52:01
Yeah, yeah, totally. It is, anytime you try something, there's kind of three possible outcomes, you're, you're either gonna love it, and it's going to go really well. Or you're going to hate it, and it's not going to go well at all, or it's just going to be kind of a learning experience where you're like, Okay, well, that was a thing that I did, and I didn't really like it. So it's better to have those experiences with like, starting small and like, do something that is low risk, and give, give things a try. And then you can double down on what is working and get rid of the stuff that is not working. You know, like I have a lot of people come to me about like, they want to do a video course, right, and they want to do the complete guide to next J S, you know, they want to do like a 200 video, like course, you know, they've never done any any video courses before. You know, and it's like, and I usually my response is like, Okay, send me the first five videos next week. And like, 90% of them don't do it, you know? And it's like, well, that's why because you're trying to do, you're trying to do this whole giant thing. And when you look at it, and you're really overwhelmed, and you're like, nevermind, I'm not going to do it. Like instead of you better to just say I'm going to do a five video mini course on, like styling index j, next J S, and then see how that goes, you know, and you're, you know, maybe it goes, well, maybe it doesn't, but you're going to learn more skills and all that stuff, you know.
Brandon Minnick 53:28
And I'll say, feel free not to spoil the book, because everybody should go check out Sam, Julian's guide to tiny experiments. But as somebody who starts a lot of projects finished, what is the secret to actually finish it yet?
Sam Julien 53:47
I think I mean, I think the secret is the, the, the feedback loop, having a really tight feedback loop of like, I'm going to, I'm going to do this thing for a certain amount of time, and I'm going to know, I'm going to be really clear and knowing whether I'm successful or not. So I'm gonna, I'm going to write this, I'm going to write on my blog consistently for four weeks. And my definition of success is that I wrote for four weeks, you know, and, and then I'm going to reassess. And that, that to me, like having, having a deadline, having boundaries around that. And then knowing whether I'm doing a good job is is the key because I think the hardest thing is like, I want to be a great writer, and like okay, what does that mean? I'm gonna write, I'm gonna write weekly, forever, you know, like, I'm gonna write and it's like, you can't like we can't really fathom that as humans, you know, like, we can't really commit to like, a lifelong thing, you know, because it's just not realistic, you know, but if you say, like, I really want to get better at writing, so I'm gonna write every week for eight weeks, and I'm gonna, you know, and then the next go around, you're gonna be like, I'm going to write for eight weeks, but I'm going to try to get my like viewership up or whatever, like, get my I, my traffic, I mean to optimize more for SEO, and you can like build on that over time. But I think people overestimate, like, or underestimate the number of skills and habits they need for things. And so just reducing the scope and having like a nice feedback loop, I think are the keys. And that's, that's basically what I just kind of detail out in the book.
Pj Metz 55:21
Knowing when you're successful, so important, because you'll often go a long time without realizing you've been successful somewhere, because you didn't set a metric at the beginning to know that you've you've made it and accomplish something. Right.
Brandon Minnick 55:36
Yeah. And also, you mentioned getting into habits. That's, that's one of the tricks that I do for myself is to, to develop a new habit is hard. But what I found is you can, you can kind of piggyback on your existing habits. And so just something little like flossing. Growing up, I hated flossing. I never did it. And then I had a buddy in college that told me floss before you brush. And I was like, huh, that seems backwards. And he's like, hear me out. You're always gonna brush your teeth, right? And then of course, it's like, well, if you just force yourself to floss before you brush, then you'll also always floss your teeth. And something as simple as that is led to be flossing every day. And now I don't have to lie to my dentist. And so anytime, anytime I try, I want to do something. I always look around and like what habit can I bolt this on to? Until it becomes its own habit? And what do they say? 21 days to form a habit. 31 days?
Pj Metz 56:45
I don't think 21 But
Brandon Minnick 56:46
yeah, just remember to do something like flossing before you're brushing enough. And then it just it becomes very normal. And that feels weird. I don't floss.
Sam Julien 56:57
Yeah. Floss, there's a great book called Tiny habits by BJ Fogg. And he has a an email course. That is actually really, really good. That's on on the site. But he goes into that as well like how to build habits and how to add them to existing habits and define them and stuff. And yeah, habits are really crucial part of that. Always find for for those if I can get through like, day four of doing it, I have a much higher chance of succeeding. For some reason, like right around day three, or day four is when i is the first opportunity to forget or mess up that and then I can make it to a week. And then if I can make it to a week, I can make it to two weeks. And then after that, it starts to become a real habit.
Brandon Minnick 57:55
I love it. And it almost feels like having Sam on the show is becoming a habit. Because hey, hey, John before and hopefully we'll have you on again, Sam, thank you so much for joining us this week sharing your wisdom, folks. Do check out eight bits.tv You can find all of the previous episodes and go find Sam's episode. You can subscribe to our newsletter so you know when the new episodes come out. Sam, again, thank you so much. And we'll see you next week. All right. Thanks, guys.
Pj Metz 58:29
Yay. Bye y'all.
Sam Julien 58:31