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Keynote - Growth Hacking for Humans45:07 with Eamon Leonard
Eamon will be sharing the lessons learned from a career of being in a constant state of noobage. In his own words - "I am not an expert. I am a noob." From learning PHP in 1998 to angel investing in 2013. Regardless of where you are in your career, there will be something for everyone in this talk. Get ready to be inspired!
[MUSIC] 0:00 Good morning. 0:10 Can everybody hear me okay? 0:11 Thank you. 0:16 If you just indulge me for a moment I'd like to take a photograph of everybody. 0:16 Just to show my mom. 0:21 She's really proud of me, you know? 0:24 That's it. 0:27 This is, this is the one, the, the only thing I use panorama for. 0:27 Okay. 0:33 I'll tweet that later on, see if you can spot yourself. 0:35 So I'd like to thank you all very much for getting 0:39 up early and coming here to listen to me this morning. 0:42 I understand it can't be easy, first thing, on the second day of a conference. 0:47 This is usually a track that most speakers 0:53 won't, or a time slot most speakers won't want. 0:57 I love it because the audience is, I hope, easier. 1:01 [LAUGH]. 1:04 So, my name is Eamon Leonard. 1:05 That's Eamon, not Eman. 1:09 I have to say it. 1:12 It's a difficult name. 1:13 It's Irish. 1:14 Obviously you can tell from my accent I'm from Ireland. 1:15 And I work for a company called Engine Yard. 1:18 And if you guys want to follow me, or tweet me. 1:21 That's how you do it. 1:26 And my job at Engine Yard, and my 1:28 official title is Vice President of Developers Cubed. 1:30 Developers, developers, developers. 1:35 I don't know if anybody remembers that particular Ballmer era of 1:38 Microsoft, but it was definitely, he was doing something right back then. 1:41 And so my job is to lead a team of people who talk 1:46 to people like you about the things that you do and sometimes we 1:51 kind of we can figure out if there's a way for us to 1:55 help and other times it's just good to know people and to make friends. 1:58 And I also like to think that my job is kind of to do this to our corporate logo. 2:03 Haven't gone over to the wall yet. 2:10 I won't be going over the wall [LAUGH] after what you said, so what this talk is 2:13 growth hacking for humans and I gotta start off with a disclaimer, it's 2:18 not a technical talk which is usually good first thing in the morning I'm gonna 2:25 cover a broad range of topics And those 2:31 topics are purely based on my personal experience, 2:35 I'm gonna talk you through some of the things that have happened to me over the 2:39 course of my career, some of the things 2:41 I've tried and succeeded at, some of the things 2:43 I've tried and failed at, and some of 2:45 the lessons I've personally learned from them and it 2:47 might be an opportunity for you to to 2:49 also gain some insight or some lessons from that. 2:52 But the most important thing is that there is no rule book. 2:56 It's not like, let's take these things and then, magic. 3:00 You have to kind of, you know, adapt them to yourself, or to your 3:03 own team or your own kind of stage of life or career that you're at. 3:07 And so the core team of my talk is that I'm a newb, or a newbie. 3:11 But not n00b, because this bottom one is asparaging, or asparaging? 3:17 Disparaging. 3:22 [LAUGH] It's disparaging, you know, it's a term of, abuse whereas this 3:22 one, this one kind of, is like, I, I have some domain 3:26 experience, I'm kind of taking that and applying that to another area, 3:30 and I'm, I'm new to this area, but I'm not a complete beginner. 3:33 So I think, I try, I try to kinda keep 3:37 that, everything I do, I try to, especially when it's a 3:40 new area for me, I try to remind myself as I, 3:42 you know, it's okay to be fresh to this particular domain. 3:46 It's okay to be fresh to this with 3:51 no experience, I have a lot of other experience. 3:53 And sometimes you can kinda take that and, and melt it. 3:54 Also, reminding myself that I'm a noob. 3:57 Encourages me to, to grow, enhance the title of my talk. 4:00 So I've, 4:04 I've, what I've done is I've kind of looked back over the course 4:08 of the last 15 years, and hind sight's a great thing, you know? 4:11 Where you can kind of, trace your steps. 4:14 You can look back and say, well I did this, and I did this. 4:17 And I had a choice at that stage to do, or not do. 4:19 And I, and I, and I didn't do, and that led me to do this, and blah, blah, blah. 4:21 And at the time, you're, kind of, you have 4:25 no idea where you are, or what you're doing. 4:27 It's very easy to, to look back and say, well, it's very clear to me now. 4:30 So, that's, kind of, that's what I'm doing. 4:33 I have the benefit of hindsight. 4:35 And I've identified nine stages of noobage. 4:38 And they go right back to my early childhood. 4:43 So, I won't dwell too long on the early ones 4:48 because, well, they're kind of, they're just setting the stage really. 4:50 So this is a, this is Rob from XKCD. 4:55 You might recognize the style of drawing. 5:00 But this is your typical computer person. 5:03 And I'm using that word explicitly, computer. 5:05 Because back in the day, or even today, my mum says I do computers. 5:09 Anybody's mother or father say that they do computers? 5:14 Come on. 5:16 Right, it's awesome to do computers, isn't it? 5:18 It's such a vague term. 5:21 You know, I do Cloud as well. 5:22 so, this is, this is me or this is you. 5:26 And you're tapping away on your latest project or you're 5:30 working for the boss, or maybe you are the boss. 5:35 And what you don't realize is that there 5:38 are all these invisible barriers hanging around you. 5:40 These are walls, and they're confining you to that little desk. 5:46 That desk is a metaphor, for, I guess, not, not growing. 5:51 They're confining you to the same space and, what my nine stages of 5:57 newbage enable me to do is to kind of systematically break these down? 6:03 Until I kind of have this really big space around me and you know, enable me to grow. 6:06 So, that's a very tenuous metaphor for what's 6:12 to come [LAUGH] we see how it works. 6:16 So so stage one, like I said, computers, 6:18 that's pretty much how I would sum up what 6:25 I first thought of my first experience of computers. 6:29 It's this little box that does magic goes on inside. 6:35 In my case, the little box was the Nintendo. 6:40 Any Nintendo players here, first generationers. 6:44 Cool. 6:49 You've just, kind of, marked yourselves out as being old. 6:50 That's how you can always tell a technologist is when they say oh 6:54 I remember playing, staying up till like 2 a.m playing on the N64. 6:57 You're like, yeah cool. 7:01 [LAUGH] right? 7:02 And so this was, this was a it was a black voodoo box of technology. 7:04 I didn't know how it worked. 7:10 All I know, to put the cartridge in. 7:11 Push the button. 7:13 Sometimes have to blow on the cartridge to make it work. 7:14 And it was, it was amazing. 7:17 It was a mysterious, wonderful thing to me. 7:19 And you know, I had other friends who had Spectrums, or they had Commodore 64s. 7:21 And they were just a different level of complexity. 7:27 Cuz, you know, there's a tape drive, and you put the tape in, and sometimes tapes. 7:30 Hands up, who remembers tape drives for computers? 7:34 Oh, fantastic. 7:37 so, you know, so tapes, you usually have audio on them, but 7:39 now you put them in and you type a couple of commands 7:42 on your television screen and it's loaded, it takes like 20 minutes 7:44 to load this thing up, where I'm like my Nintendo [UNKNOWN] done. 7:47 So, there another degree of complexity to me. 7:52 They reinforced the voodoo black magic. 7:55 And for a long time it was I would say, right up through 7:58 my teens, I had a lot of friends that were getting into programming, 8:01 getting into, well, actually I don't know if they were getting into programming, 8:04 it seemed like programming to me, they were clicking away on their keyboards. 8:08 They were probably just loading up games themselves. 8:10 I have no idea. 8:12 But they were getting, they were, they were way 8:12 more advanced at computers, at computers than I was. 8:14 So, anyway, that kind of sets the scene. 8:18 I was, I was, I was a very latecomer to getting into technology. 8:21 I was probably 19 when I got my first computer. 8:26 and, that opened up stage two of newbage, which was discovery. 8:28 And em, that was kind of characterized by sudo make me a sandwich. 8:35 [LAUGH] So, this for me I don't know if anybody knows this is 8:40 another thing borrowed from XKCD where it's, you know, it's, it kind of 8:44 illustrates the power of, of the, the sudo command a Linux to be 8:48 able to do anything and it kinda takes it in the real world. 8:53 Get people to make your sandwiches by prefacing with Sudo, but for me it 8:55 encapsulates the power that was at your 9:00 fingertips when you first discover programming right. 9:03 So, this was not too dissimilar to the machine that I 9:07 first started writing code on does anyone remember the Turbo Button? 9:10 Turbo Button? 9:16 What does, sounds like turbo yeah, we're gonna go fast. 9:17 I found out like two years ago somebody wrote a 9:21 blog post about it, turns out the turbo button actually 9:23 slows down your processor to enable you to play games 9:26 at a more normal frame rate or something like that. 9:30 And you know, every time I'd sit down I'd 9:33 turn on my machine rebooting up like, better hit turbo. 9:35 [LAUGH] 9:38 And so that kind of, that's a just little side anecdote. 9:41 Anyway, this was, this was very similar to 9:44 the first machine that I started writing code on 9:46 and I remember just the world of opportunity that 9:48 it opened up to me to be able to. 9:50 Well I hadn't discovered web programming at the time so at 9:53 the time I was, you know, still in university and I was 9:55 writing your typical student tracking system for projects or employment, 9:58 employee tracking system for projects but it, it was a very exciting time. 10:03 I remember the first time that I, I stayed 10:09 up and did my first all nighter for college. 10:13 It was a proper all nighter. 10:15 It was bright when I was done. 10:17 And I remember the first time it was cobalt. 10:19 writing, trying to took me four hours to get to the root of the 10:22 problem of what I was trying to solve and when I solved it, and it 10:26 wasn't even that big a deal and think back and when I solved it 10:30 I remembered just in the pit of my stomach I go, oh yeah that's awesome. 10:33 How many people here remember the first time they got a bit of 10:37 code that they labored on to work and how that made them feel? 10:40 Well, that's fantastic. 10:45 So, that's for me that's really what your programming career should 10:46 be about, is recreating that moment as often as you can. 10:53 You're not going to do it every day, come on, cause, you know, you 10:55 work but, you know, doing it a couple of times a year, and that's why 10:58 coming to conferences is such an engaging, our community is such a powerful thing 11:01 because you get to open up your 11:05 eyes to other possibilities of recreating that moment. 11:06 So discovery so stage three. 11:10 We're kinda getting into into the more meat and bones of it 11:13 now so this I would call the comfort and the trough of despair. 11:15 Yeah, it's a pretty dramatic stage it lasted for the best best part of a decade. 11:20 I could characterize this by a number of ways. 11:26 Meh. 11:29 Aptitude generally. 11:30 Internet Explorer hasn't evolved so why should I? 11:35 Apologies to our friends from Microsoft who are here but 11:39 the early 2000's were a bad time for the web. 11:42 Internet Explorer was the dominant browser by a 11:45 long shot and there was no real competition. 11:48 And as in any industry, the lack of competition means a lack of innovation. 11:52 And kind of web technologies, web standards that, 11:57 web standards weren't really a thing back then. 11:59 But web technology's kind of stagnated for a couple of years. 12:02 And that kinda coincided with my Trough of Despair. 12:04 So, I'd spent all, a couple of 12:07 years kinda getting into web program, building websites. 12:08 and, you know, it was, it was a, a great period 12:13 of discovery for me, and then I just kind of plateaued. 12:16 Just kind of, and then even started to go into a, a dip. 12:18 Because, I, I just wasn't, I wasn't satisfied in 12:21 my work, but, I didn't have any interruptions, I didn't. 12:24 It wasn't like a careers guidance counselor in the web agency 12:27 that I work for that I could go to and say, hey. 12:31 I'm not happy at my job what can you suggest? 12:33 I mean you could say I suppose that boss 12:35 could have not been that person, but not really, 12:36 so it's also characterized by why yes I will 12:39 work for peanuts and be over worked and under appreciated. 12:43 Can I see a show of hands who anybody whose ever 12:46 kind of expressed that or can identify with that last statement? 12:51 Come on, nobody's ever been overworked and under appreciated, paid peanuts. 12:56 Has anyone ever written code for free? 13:00 I'm not counting open source here. 13:05 Anybody written code for free that they were so desperate to 13:08 get a job that they did, they did work on spec. 13:11 Any web designers here that would you know, 13:13 put in some concepts on spec yeah, [UNKNOWN] does. 13:16 So that's, that's really what I'm trying to 13:20 capture there with that is there was, there was 13:23 a period where I just, I, I was, I, I wasn't really happy in what I was doing. 13:25 And 13:33 something had to change. 13:35 Because I was waking up too many mornings not looking forward to the day ahead and 13:38 that's a really shitty place to be in 13:42 when you, you're, you're doing something that you love. 13:44 Right? 13:47 I loved writing code. 13:48 I would wake up in the morning and not look forward to the day ahead. 13:51 That sucks. 13:54 It really does. 13:56 And, so I wanted, I knew something had 13:58 to give, and something, something had to change. 14:01 So, it turned out stage four reverts. 14:05 It turns out that this change was accelerated 14:07 by a, a pretty emotional argument with my fiance. 14:09 She's now my wife so it worked out okay. 14:16 But the emotional argument was, was she was 14:19 really pissed off at me that I was working 14:22 really long hours for a boss that didn't appreciate 14:24 me and I wasn't really getting compensated for it. 14:26 I was definitely being paid on the lower end. 14:28 I was also working, I was doing pretty much the job 14:30 of four people, you know, from writing code to project management. 14:33 He even had me ringing up people and asking them for money at one stage. 14:36 You know, like, sending out invoices, hey, where's 14:39 the check, you owe us a check, you know? 14:42 [LAUGH] You know, so there was a lot of 14:43 weight on my shoulders, and, you know, so it 14:46 took, it took a toll on my relationship in 14:48 that I'd go home and I wasn't really there. 14:50 You know I was turning things over in my head, thinking about work the next day and 14:52 that's okay I suppose on one level if 14:56 you're being paid the big bucks but I wasn't. 14:57 So, for, for my fiance that was a huge bone of contention and we 15:00 had this huge argument one day where she basically said it's me or the job. 15:05 And at that point it was all like that's not even a, that's not even a decision. 15:10 I rang up my boss and I said, hey, I quit. 15:16 Okay, it wasn't that controlled. 15:19 It was a bit emotional. 15:20 But yeah. 15:22 I told him I quit. 15:22 And and that was it. 15:23 And so, that solved kind of one problem on the one hand in that 15:26 I, I, I had, I was looking like a really cool man know in 15:29 the eyes of my fiance, I was able to stand up for myself, but 15:32 then it was all like, alright so, what are you going to do now? 15:36 Shit, didn't think about that. 15:40 That's a really good question. 15:43 Well, so let's see. 15:44 This stage of rebirth is characterized as, Fuck this shit. 15:50 [LAUGH] man, working in my underpants is so cool. 15:54 and, why, yes, I will work for peanuts and be under appreciated. 15:58 Because the overworked thing didn't really happen because I didn't have any work. 16:01 That's the one thing about quitting your job is it's very sudden. 16:05 And you think, like, can I see a show of hands, 16:09 how many programmers are in the audience, just so I know. 16:13 Alright. 16:16 Alright. 16:17 Keep your hands up. 16:17 Keep your hands up. 16:17 Those of you who think you're actually 16:18 awesome at everything, leave your hands up. 16:20 Yeah, [UNKNOWN]. 16:23 I know, I know you guys. 16:25 You're all like, yeah, I'm a programmer, I'm pretty 16:26 good at [UNKNOWN] I can turn my hand to. 16:27 I think, I think that's one, one, one of the things about the quirks of developers. 16:29 It's a broad sweeping statement, but I think most developers like to 16:35 think the we're good at most things that we turn our hands to. 16:38 Because we have all this awesome power at 16:41 our fingertips, and, and I you know, my reasoning 16:43 my reasoning, my thinking after quitting my job was, 16:49 I got this, it's totally got it, it's fine. 16:53 No biggie, I got it. 16:56 And yeah it took me three weeks to find my first 16:57 gig and it was for three hours work writing some HTML. 17:00 And I got paid 2 or 300 Euro for it. 17:03 And then it was another three weeks before I found anymore work. 17:06 So it turned out I actually pretty shit inside of myself. 17:10 I had no idea how to communicate to people what it is that I do, why 17:13 they should pay me for it, and more 17:19 importantly, how much they should pay me for it. 17:20 That bit of it, that last bit is actually probably the hardest thing, if you ever 17:22 go work for yourself freelance, or you start 17:26 up a business and it's a service business. 17:28 Or indeed if you start a business with, with a software product. 17:31 How much do you charge, or what do you value it at? 17:34 It's such a hard, it's a hard thing. 17:36 And there's no, there's no better way to get over 17:38 it than actually jumping right in and figuring it out. 17:40 And so it took a period of time before I, I kind 17:42 of could gauge like, what I could get away with charging people. 17:45 But it, it actually was, it was a, it was a big a, it was 17:50 a big moment, a period of of maybe about a year, year and a half. 17:52 So, 2000, 2007 to 2008, I was essentially working for myself, freelance. 17:58 Most of the time for the first six months 18:02 I was, I was at home in my underpants, working. 18:04 And, and actually, I'll be honest with you, it was at that period that I first. 18:08 I need to say this. 18:14 It was at the period that I first, discovered, Future of Web Apps. 18:14 I think the first Future of Web Apps was 2006 and I'd 18:19 stumbled across some of the recordings and this would have been 2007. 18:22 So, a year later stumbled across some of the recordings. 18:25 And, it actually really inspired me to, to 18:27 improve myself, inspired me to get it there 18:31 and, and sell myself and sometimes I think if it wasn't for Future Web Apps and some 18:33 of the talks that were recorded that year, that, that inspired me in the way that 18:39 it did that I that I might not even be standing here talking to you right now. 18:43 I, who knows what end up be, end up of, doing. 18:46 So it's a real honor and privilege to be here. 18:49 And [LAUGH] so, so some of the lessons I learned from, from the rebirth stage. 18:53 No, it's a hugely powerful word. 18:59 And I learned the value of no by saying yes 19:04 to everybody cuz I was so, de, desperate for work. 19:06 So that would lead me to take on projects that were maybe too big. 19:09 Or clients that were assholes that wouldn't pay. 19:12 Or generally spreading myself too thin, not being able to, 19:15 not being able to actually do a good job for anybody. 19:19 So, I think if you ever go freelance, or you're working for yourself, 19:23 starting up a service, a consulting company or a dev shop or whatever. 19:27 Being able to know when to say no is, is 19:32 probably one of the most important lessons you can learn. 19:35 The unfortunate thing is you have to say yes to enough of the 19:37 wrong kind of things to be able to spot when you should say no. 19:39 But anyways, so that was, that was one of the best lessons I learned. 19:42 I'm not selling time. 19:46 So, not selling time, that's a huge one as well. 19:52 I'll come back to that in a second. 19:56 Ya, so, not selling time. 19:58 So 19:59 the, the the, the designers. 20:02 Can anyone identify with this, this this kind of process. 20:04 You go to a client and they say, I want a 20:10 website, or I want a mobile app, or I want something. 20:13 And you say, yeah, here's a spec. 20:16 It's gonna take x number of weeks. 20:18 We'll require a 20% deposit up front. 20:20 There are going to be two or three deliverables along the way. 20:22 We will require a payment along the way there and 20:25 then, then a final, a final payment at the end. 20:27 Can I see a show of hands of anybody who's ever encountered that process before? 20:30 Okay, so that process is fundamentally flawed when it comes to software. 20:33 It, It's inherited from the advertising industry and goes way back to when the 20:37 first web agency sprung up back in the 90s and they followed the similar model. 20:42 They even called themselves an agency like an ad agency, they 20:46 became a web agency and they followed a very similar model. 20:49 And sometimes when you're doing very like small brochure where slides 20:52 that kind of thing can, that kind of model can work. 20:57 When you're talking about software it's a complete different thing because 20:59 it's what people, what people want and what they need are two different things. 21:06 And people realize it when they get closer to the end of the project that 21:10 what they need is actually different than 21:13 what they originally said they'd pay you for. 21:15 And so not selling time. 21:17 my, my line to people would be that I'm not, you're, when 21:24 they'd say how, how can you justify charging x amount for that? 21:26 You know, that's outlandish, that's crazy, I could buy a car for that. 21:31 A shitty car. 21:35 My response would be, look, you're not actually paying me for my time. 21:38 You're paying me for my decade of experience condensed into dot area rate. 21:40 That's what you're paying me for. 21:45 I know that was, that was huge when I said 21:47 that because because all of the sudden they got it. 21:48 And, in fact, it was probably one of the best ways I could communicate my 21:52 value to people is saying eh, you know, 21:54 put, putting, putting, putting, framing it that way. 21:57 It's my decade of experience crammed into the area rate. 22:00 And then the last point if you don't sell, if I don't sell me no one else will. 22:04 And it's a very, any Irish people here? 22:08 Good 22:10 stuff. 22:13 And so, the Irish people in the audience might, might identify with this, we and 22:14 typically, am have this a nasty side to our culture that not many people 22:18 outside of Ireland know about, and it's it's, it's kind of a begrudgery mentality. 22:25 So, we don't, like seeing other people do better than us. 22:29 And, as a result it, it, it actually, holds us back. 22:33 When we tried to self-promote, and so it was one of the biggest 22:36 mental barriers I had to get over was to say, it's okay for me 22:39 to stand up in front of a group of people and say, I'm, 22:41 I'm pretty good at what I do, and you should pay me for that. 22:43 And so that was another mental hurdle that I had to get over in the rebirth stage, 22:46 but it was one of the important lessons that would set me up for the next stage. 22:50 Stage five teamwork. 22:53 And this is where I wanted to take my freelance and 22:54 single person career to team up with a bunch of other people. 22:56 This stage is characterized as, again, fuck this shit. 23:01 Because I wanted to grow. 23:03 I wasn't getting where I wanted to be with just me. 23:04 I wanted to team up with more people and kind of do more. 23:08 scale, scale it the operation 23:12 hey I just met you and this is crazy but 23:16 here's my number so start a company with me maybe? 23:17 I was very lucky when I met my co-founder. 23:19 I was introduced to him over Twitter, we went for a pint 23:21 and halfway through the pint I said, hey do you wanna start 23:24 a company and that could have gone really bad because really for 23:26 picking co founders you should do a bit of research on them. 23:29 You should make sure there's a bit of compatibility, 23:32 there's some chemistry, that you, you actually get on. 23:34 You know? 23:37 There needs to be maybe a period of establishing trust. 23:38 and, you know? 23:41 Kinda like a marriage really, where, you 23:41 know, you're not gonna marry the first person 23:43 you go on a date with, but that's kind of what we ended up doing. 23:45 So, like I said, he didn't turn out to be an axe murderer. 23:47 He actually turned out to be a pretty good co-founder. 23:49 His name's David. 23:52 It's David Collier. 23:52 And yes, why yes, we will work for peanuts and be under appreciated. 23:54 So, it was pretty much the same thing as the time before. 23:59 I didn't I didn't we had no idea what we're doing. 24:01 really, each of these stages can be 24:06 characterized in simple, simple concept of Eamon had 24:08 no clue what he was doing and then he took some time to figure it out. 24:11 Once he figured it out, he moved onto the next thing. 24:14 So, this is the best photograph I have of the two, the, my two co-founders, 24:15 David Zonda on the, on the right hand side and this is Haggy on the left. 24:20 And we started up a, a dev shop called Echo Libre. 24:25 And we we focused on working with start ups 24:28 so we actually became overtime pretty good at minimum viable product, 24:33 iterating on products and but, you know, we did it 24:39 we kinda made a, a bunch of mistakes along the way. 24:43 We also learned from the lessons of our clients so that was, that was viable. 24:45 So, here's the three takeaways from that. 24:48 Only work with people who are smarter than me. 24:52 So, that's still my hiring policy today. 24:53 I'll only hire people who are better than me in more than one way. 24:56 I think if you consistently hire people who are smarter than you, 25:03 then you're going to have a great bunch of people around you. 25:06 If you hire people who are, you're smarter than them, then it's the other way around. 25:08 So, client relationships are partnerships. 25:12 And get paid up front. 25:18 So, if I go back to what I was 25:19 saying, a few minutes ago about, about the waterfall approach. 25:22 In the first year of Echo Libra's existence, 25:27 this is how we approach, approach projects, and. 25:30 Because we're building software and like I said, 25:33 people would say what they wanted, but at the 25:36 end of the project they would, they would 25:38 realize that what they wanted wasn't what they needed. 25:39 Maybe like 50% of the way or two thirds of the way in they 25:41 would, they would, they would realize this 25:43 and they would start making outlandish demands. 25:45 They would start asking for all sorts of features that wouldn't be there. 25:47 And they would kind of hold the kind of remaining payments over you like a threat. 25:50 Like if don't, if you don't do these things, you're not getting paid. 25:55 How many people have been in that position? 25:58 Yeah, it's a tough one to be in and we actually 26:02 found ourselves 25 grand in debt because we took that approach. 26:04 And that's a shit place to be in and 26:08 technically we actually should have shut down the business. 26:10 But we, we, we and we weren't even being paid ourselves 26:12 and bills were stacking up and all this kind of thing. 26:16 So yeah, we failed pretty bad at that, but what we did was we turned it on its head. 26:17 And we, we we, we looked at taking an agile approach to 26:23 software development and we're billing, building that in to the billing model. 26:27 So so rather than the mile stone and payment kind of thing we broke. 26:31 And, and we wouldn't, and we wouldn't give a finite 26:38 amount of time to say how long it would take. 26:39 So, we'd say initially you should expect ten weeks for this thing to take place. 26:42 Well that ten weeks is really dependent on how 26:46 much you want to get built in that ten weeks. 26:47 And we would break the work up into, into two week sprints, and then we would 26:49 give the give the project we would partner 26:53 with the client to make them the project manager. 26:56 And we would give them the ability to control the 26:59 priorities, to set the priorities and in return for doing that 27:01 we would bill them upfront for the two weeks, the, each 27:05 two weeks sprint, and we would say pay us at the 27:08 beginning of the sprint, these are the tickets are going 27:10 to be happening in the sprint, you have control over the 27:13 priority of that, and you actually have visibility and if you 27:16 don't pay us in advance then we don't do the work. 27:19 And, initially there was a bit of push back on that, but 27:23 after one or two sprints they started to see the value of 27:26 it, and they started to, to realize that the transparency that they 27:28 had gave them control that they had been craving for so long. 27:32 And the control that manifested itself previously, as withholding payment. 27:35 So, it kinda took that kinda nasty dysfunctional side of the, the 27:39 equation out and it made the client relationship more like a partnership. 27:42 And so that was, that, that and the get paid up front. 27:48 Turns out, getting paid up front you know, getting paid, 27:51 full stop is kind of an important part of business. 27:54 And it's, it's a hard thing to consistently make right. 27:57 And getting paid up front allowed us to plan our cash flow and do stuff with that. 28:01 I will get to that in stage seven. 28:08 So stage six is, is community can I see a show of hands 28:10 who considers themselves like a community 28:18 engager, who goes to meetups, who goes to conferences on a regular basis. 28:22 Anybody organize meetups? 28:26 Anybody organize conferences? 28:31 Anybody participate in open source? 28:35 Okay. 28:39 Well, that's, that's a good mix. 28:39 It's probably what I was expecting. 28:41 There's usually less people in the room that, that organizes 28:43 and leads stuff, and then the rest kind of follow. 28:46 So at the same time that we were we were, kind 28:49 of, failing and consulting and then trying to re-imagine our business model. 28:52 We also started to engage more in the community and 28:59 this can be characterized as, you mean we're not alone? 29:03 Right, that's, that's one of the best things about community. 29:05 You have the opportunity to to vent and voice your frustrations, to 29:08 learn from other people, to even you actually have the opportunity to hire. 29:13 so, that sense of togetherness is one of the most powerful 29:17 things especially cuz you know starting a new business is hard. 29:20 Hey I just met you and this is 29:24 crazy here's my number let's start a community maybe. 29:25 It's actually that easy, if you want there's no reason 29:27 why more people in this room couldn't actually go back to 29:29 where they're from, go back to where they're from and 29:31 look for other developers, or designers, or business people or whatever. 29:34 In their locality, and start, start a meetup, a regular 29:37 weekly, get-together, in a, in a bar, or in a 29:40 cafe, and just spend an hour, or two talking over 29:43 ideas, and do it consistently, over time you'll grow that. 29:47 And yeah, you work for peanuts and are under appreciated, too. 29:51 So, it turns out there's a lot of people 29:54 out there with the same kind of problems, and 29:55 that's one of the best things about community, is 29:58 you get to you get to share those problems. 29:59 So, a couple of things that, that, that I did, I started up 30:01 this thing called [INAUDIBLE] which actually started 30:04 here in London about five years ago. 30:07 maybe, maybe more. 30:09 I started a Dublin version of it three years ago. 30:11 It's now the largest, it started off with seven people. 30:13 The first one had seven people in a pub. 30:16 It's now the largest developer, monthly developer 30:18 meet up in Ireland, with about 200 people. 30:20 A month come along to this thing. 30:23 And it's literally just beers in a bar, and people 30:24 asking each other one question, what are you working on? 30:27 And it's, it's, it's own, I don't even have to go along with 30:31 it anymore, has it's own kind of energy, momentum, and it, it's you 30:36 know there's companies now, that are coming in to Dublin from you know, 30:40 they're moving in from the States, and 30:42 they're kind of setting up European offices. 30:43 And they'll go to pub centers to recruit. 30:45 So it's, everybody benefits from it. 30:47 Whiskeymarch was the thing that I, I, I did where I wanted 30:50 to kind of expand my network internationally, so I, I set up this 30:53 website a very simple website that kind of asked people to go on 30:56 a pub crawl with me in San Francisco and 109 people signed up. 30:59 And some of these were well no names and you know, they in the world of 31:02 software open source, and they kind of gave 31:08 me an opportunity to expand my international network. 31:09 Which is very helpful, when you kind of want, want to have, establish some 31:12 kind of presence at some point in San Francisco, which I'll get to shortly. 31:17 And then did a conference call FUNCONF. 31:21 And FUNCONF has anyone ever heard of FUNCONF? 31:23 Handful of people. 31:27 FUNCONF was a conference on a bus in a castle, and on an island over the course 31:28 of three years, and we had the CTO of Amazon come along to that. 31:34 We had fanners to get her to come along, too. 31:39 We had a bunch of other well known people in technology 31:40 and I don't even know how it happened, but it did. 31:43 And I think it happened because I did the whiskey march thing. 31:46 It happened because I was involved in the community. 31:48 And again, it's another reason why if you want to level up your career, 31:51 community is absolutely the best way to do it. 31:56 There's absolutely no doubt in my mind. 31:57 If you want to advance your career, get more involved in your community. 31:58 And that could start by going to your, going to meet up or it 32:03 could start by see, seeing if there isn't a meet up, starting a meet up. 32:06 It's not that hard. 32:10 If anybody wants some tips on, on making 32:11 that happen or if anybody wants Engine Yard 32:13 to help them do that, that's one of the things that we do, come find me. 32:16 Happy to talk to you about it afterwards. 32:19 You don't need permission to do this. 32:22 A lot of people are kinda that, it's a fear thing, it's like oh, you know 32:24 it's not really my place, it's not really my place to set up, who am I? 32:27 You know, that certainly is your place. 32:30 If you've been taken advantage of community gatherings 32:32 and community endeavors if you use Open Source right. 32:35 If you've been taking advantage of these things for any, 32:39 any amount of time then it actually is your place. 32:42 I would even say it's your duty to give something back. 32:44 And it's a great proving ground for ideas. 32:48 And it came in very handy when we were, we kind of, kind 32:51 of started the transition from services to 32:54 product development, which is the next stage. 32:56 So this stage is characterized as, think of an awesome idea. 33:01 Build and never ship anything. 33:06 Profit. 33:09 We, we, we were with this process we were excellent at, I have to say. 33:12 We were excellent at the awesome ideas and then doing nothing with them. 33:16 So short dot i e was, was one of the first URL shorteners in Ireland. 33:20 It's kind of a big deal. 33:27 [LAUGH] It was, I don't know. 33:29 It was the first, it was the first URL shortener 33:32 to, to offer statistics and analytics before anybody else did. 33:33 That's, that's a weird thing. 33:37 But we, we didn't know how to monetize it, and then we 33:38 saw Bit.ly got 2 million in funding, and we were like, pft. 33:41 Like, game over. 33:43 So we kinda shelved that. 33:45 But it was our first kind of a exploration into, into. 33:47 Everybody was doing URL shortners back in the day. 33:50 Has anybody ever done it, URL shorter? 33:52 Look at that. 33:54 See, right. 33:55 There's like five, six people there, right? 33:55 [LAUGH] Cryptobaby. 33:57 Cyptobaby was a, was a file encryption thing that actually, I think was 34:00 a pretty nifty name, we did not have to sell her or make money. 34:04 It failed. 34:07 Frapi actually has some success as an open source project 34:09 but we weren't able to figure out a business model. 34:13 It was an API framework written in PHP, so you kind of plug in 34:15 a data set and it would generate an API for you, and away you go. 34:18 It's still a, still an open source project. 34:22 People use it. 34:23 If you're a PHP developer looking for APIs. 34:24 Look it up. 34:26 And CloudSplit. 34:27 This is a good one. 34:29 We got given 100 grand of angel investments and we pissed it away. 34:30 we, we, it was a great idea. 34:36 It was Cloud analysis, monetary analysis for primarily Amazon, 34:38 but you know, there's big plans to do everybody else. 34:44 I would monitor amateur spending in real time in the Cloud which 34:46 is a big problem well we thought it was a big problem. 34:49 Nobody gave a shit. 34:51 Like people had budgets. 34:52 Like we couldn't sell it and we actually you know we didn't 34:53 really ever ship it which is, is kind of sucks as well. 34:57 So there's all these kind of this kind of 35:01 period of about a year, year and a half, two 35:03 years where we were trying to figure out business models 35:05 and product ideas and and we just sucked at it. 35:07 But we got better. 35:12 [LAUGH] Right? 35:14 And here's lessons that I learned from that period. 35:15 So, I have a problem I have. 35:18 I can't work on a product if I don't have 35:20 cash and well, the fail thing is kind of a cliché. 35:23 Everyone tells you to fail but, you know, it is, it is a valuable lesson. 35:26 So the problem that I, that we had with a lot of these things was, it, 35:29 server deployments, managements and maintenance is kind of a pain in the arse, 35:36 but the bigger problem that we had 35:40 specifically with shorty, was he kept going down 35:41 all the time, because we, we didn't 35:44 actually architect it for any kind of scale. 35:46 And we didn't have the time to go back and retro, retro fit a new architecture to it. 35:49 So we, we would constantly be. 35:54 I would love to see a show of hands 35:56 for what this, if this scenario is familiar to anybody. 35:58 It's a Friday night, you're, you're in the pub with your 36:01 mates or maybe you're home with you're family spending quality family time. 36:03 And you get an alert on your phone from 36:09 something like [UNKNOWN] and say your website is down. 36:11 It could be your website, it could be a client's website which is worse. 36:12 And you're like oh. 36:16 Take out the phone and, you know, If you're in the 36:17 pub, you're, you probably don't have your laptop with you, but 36:20 might have SSH in your phone, so you, you'll open up 36:22 and you'll, you'll, you'll log in to the, to the server. 36:25 You'll end up, you know, restarting Apache or a couple of servers. 36:29 You might end up deleting some files. 36:32 And then, you know the thing comes back up. 36:35 Has anybody ever done that? 36:38 Alright. 36:40 You're doing it wrong. 36:41 You're doing it so, so wrong. 36:45 You're doing it wrong. 36:46 There's no excuse for that kind of behavior 36:48 in today's modern world of technology cloud services. 36:49 Companies like Engine Yard. 36:52 There's no excuse. 36:54 It's unprofessional, for a start. 36:56 You know, you're probably drunk or tired. 36:57 You should be spending quality time with your 36:59 team, or friends after a hard week work. 37:02 You know, it's extra stress. 37:04 Your client isn't gonna appreciate that you're, you know, in the corner of 37:06 a dark pub kind of restarting key services on their, on their server. 37:09 And so that was a problem that we had and we built, we built 37:16 in, we built a thing called Orchestra and Orchestra was a platform service for PHP. 37:18 And I kinda solved that big problem for us and it turned out 37:24 that it was also a problem a lot of other PHP developers had 37:26 so this stage I'm gonna call achievement unlocked and I'm really, is that right? 37:31 Three minutes left. 37:36 Now I'm going to have to fly through this. 37:37 So this, this stage is characterized as think of awesome idea. 37:39 Build and ship anything. 37:42 Right and so the last bit, the step three is still a hard one 37:47 but at least if you, if you work on step two you'll get there. 37:50 So we did, made this thing called Orchestra. 37:54 And we launched it in February 2011 after a couple months of development. 37:56 And we were bootstrapping it, so we basically were doing consulting 38:03 on the side, and then paying for the development of it. 38:06 And we were able to do that because of the previous process where we 38:07 charged people upfront for each sprint in 38:10 advance that gave us predictable cash flow. 38:13 Enable us to dedicate two people on the team 38:16 to work on this and the rest declined work. 38:17 And so we launched it in February of 2011 38:20 and by August it was acquired by Engine Yard. 38:22 Which I don't even know how it happened, it was, it was never 38:27 in my wildest dreams did I think that that would actually be a thing. 38:30 We never built it to be acquired, we built this to solve a problem. 38:34 And it, it, it just so happened that the problem that we were solving was a 38:37 similar kind of way that engineers solved the 38:40 problem, but they did it for Rails developers. 38:42 And so, so this, this, this is our space in 38:44 Dublin now, you know, Engine Yard bought us, and they moved 38:48 into Europe through the acquisition, and we have European HQ in 38:52 Dublin and, all these people there, they're there for a meet-up. 38:54 We run two meet ups a week in our space. 38:58 If anybody's ever in Dublin, please Tweet me. 39:00 You're more than welcome to come around and hang 39:02 out and you might be there for a meet up. 39:04 You might get to take advantage of it. 39:06 But we run pretty much all the meet ups in Dublin. 39:07 So ship early, ship often. 39:10 Iterate, iterate. 39:12 I can only bootstrap so far. 39:13 So I have 57 seconds left. 39:15 Oh my God. 39:17 So cultural similarities are more important than product ones. 39:18 This is one of the main reasons that we 39:21 did the [INAUDIBLE] was that there was a huge 39:23 cultural overlap between where they were coming and where 39:25 we were coming from, particularly around community and open source. 39:28 Engine Yard has a long history of contributing to those 39:30 to, to those areas, and that resonated deeply with us. 39:34 They also had a pretty good sales marketing, and support 39:37 operation which I had no idea how to build it. 39:40 So, stage nine, the last stage, is helping others. 39:42 So, through the acquisition, I've been able to help other start-ups 39:47 which have been a passion of mine for a long time. 39:51 This is characterized by, that's an awesome idea. 39:54 Can you ship? 39:56 Can I help? 39:57 So, investment is very risky, and I wouldn't dare to 40:00 presume to tell any other investors how to do it. 40:04 But from my perspective, there are a couple of things that I look for. 40:06 And I'll get on to that in a second. 40:10 The, the the start of some investments so 40:12 far are Sprintly, Intercom, Des is from Intercom here, 40:15 Circa, Trustev, I'm a board member of Hello 40:19 World, which are the organization that, run coder dojo. 40:23 Anybody go to coder dojo? 40:27 Are familiar with coder dojo? 40:29 Who doesn't know what coder dojo is? 40:31 Coder dojo is a Dublin movement that teaches kids how 40:34 to code and they are springing up all over the world. 40:36 They've got 200 dojos around the world. 40:40 I would encourage you if you have kids to send them because it's the new literacy. 40:43 And I'm also, I'm also on the board. 40:47 Sorry that's my wife text me. 40:50 Very inconvenient. 40:51 I'm also on the board of mental health charity for young people. 40:52 So being able kind of look, I'm looking back and I can see this 40:57 progression its, its all, it's gradually a step up, a step up, a step up. 41:00 And so the things that I look for when 41:04 it comes to helping other people, and this is, this 41:07 is if you're ever in a position to do this, 41:09 which I hope some of you will be some day. 41:11 My perspective is invest in people, not in ideas. 41:14 So, everybody that was on that previous slide, 41:17 they've all they've a good solid history of executing. 41:18 And delivering on their ideas before they even 41:22 did these current start ups that they're in. 41:26 I also need to be passionate about the problem because 41:31 I like to give more than just my, my, my cash. 41:33 I like to give my energy and my time. 41:35 And, you know, it's good to remind myself that it 41:38 wasn't that long ago, that I was in their position. 41:41 Knocking on doors. 41:43 Going to investors and saying, hey, can you help 41:45 us out with this project that we're working on? 41:47 And you know, that's an important thing to bear in mind. 41:50 So, why is what's the purpose of me telling you all these things? 41:53 I know. 41:55 I'm getting there. 41:56 So if you go back to this and we see that, 41:58 that the visible barriers on the wall are holding us in. 42:00 One way of looking at that is that you're kind of bogged down. 42:05 You're, you're, you're, you're stuck in that. 42:07 But I see this as being an opportunity for growth. 42:09 And a lot of people tend to think of their, their career like this. 42:13 I know I certainly did when I was in school. 42:16 You know, I was like, by the time I'm 20, I'll be doing this. 42:17 By the time I'm 30, I'll be doing this, by the time I'm 40 I'll be doing this. 42:20 And it's kind of like it's a linear progression of career over time. 42:23 But what if you're to change it from to, 42:27 to being happiness over life because you spend most 42:28 of your working day thinking about work, especially if 42:32 you're a developer it's very hard to turn off. 42:36 And if I was to chart those kind of nine stages this is what it looks like 42:39 so it's the, you know, Discovery kind of then, 42:42 kind of plateauing at the the trough of despair. 42:45 And then kind of, you know, working for myself. 42:49 And then starting up a dev shop and then doing a product. 42:51 And that's, to me is a much better position 42:54 to be in than this, which is where I was. 42:59 And I guess what I would encourage anybody that feels that they're stuck 43:03 in front of these invisible barriers or they're stuck at what they're doing. 43:09 They're not sure how to progress to the next level, just 43:15 remind yourself that it's okay to be a newb at something. 43:18 And that can be a hard thing, especially for developers 43:22 to get their head around, because we think we know everything. 43:24 It's okay to not know the answers. 43:27 And it's only when you kind of give yourself into not knowing 43:30 the answers that you actually truly have the opportunity for learning and growing. 43:32 And one of the reasons that I stand out and sit out on the 43:35 stage here an took a photograph of you guys is that, I was kind 43:39 of nervous and it helped to break the ice for me and, anytime I 43:44 feel like that before I go to speak in front of a group of people. 43:49 I remind myself that I shouldn't be nervous, 43:55 that this is an opportunity for me to grow. 43:57 It's another talk that I've given. 43:59 It's another thing that I can put down and say I've 44:01 a new experience and I, I, I'm all the better for it. 44:04 The photograph is something I can remind myself of and look back. 44:08 And a co-written parallel I'm still learning this is a 44:11 quote from Michelangelo and that's what I leave you with. 44:17 I, I think I'll be very dissatisfied with my 44:20 life if on my death bed, I will have not tried to learn something new every day. 44:25 I think really that's what life is about. 44:32 How can I learn new things and grow to be better at what I do because of it. 44:34 So, that's it. 44:40 I really appreciate you listening. 44:40 I'm sorry for running over a couple of minutes, man. 44:42 If you want to if you want to get in touch, there are my details. 44:45 If you also, quick plug, if you want to sign 44:50 up Engine Yard, there's a special link there you can follow. 44:53 And if you, in anyone has any questions, I'm around for the rest of he afternoon. 44:57 More than happy to grab a coffee or whatever, so thank you very much. 45:01 [SOUND] 45:04
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