Episode 5

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Published on:

27th Jun 2022

S1 E5: Instead of Using Fire, I Use Ice (Michael / @mtliendo)

Michael Liendo joins the show to talk about his origin story, starting as a clothing model to attempting to learn iOS development, and shifting to web development before becoming a Developer Advocate.

We discuss how we experience failure as a part of learning and how viewing life like a video game can help provide a bit of perspective for persevering through challenges when learning something new.

´╗┐Discussed Links

Previously on WebJoy

Transcript
Eddie:

Previously on WebJoy.

Jason:

for me, it's fun.

Jason:

It turns it into a puzzle.

Jason:

And so failure is just information.

Jason:

All failure is temporary.

Jason:

Now it's part of the learning loop.

Jason:

And so the goal is to try something and see whether it works so that you can then

Jason:

make a better informed decision next time.

Jason:

I think a trap that a lot of people fall into as well.

Jason:

I got to practice enough so that when I try, I don't fail.

Jason:

Like failure is not an option.

Jason:

So this is sort of one of the major things for me, I guess, is that

Jason:

now failure is like part of it.

Jason:

You just, you go yeah, let's go fail fast so that we can learn what to do

Jason:

differently so that we can get to the win.

Eddie:

Embrace failure as a catalyst for learning.

Eddie:

I love that.

Eddie:

Welcome to Episode 5 of the WebJoy podcast.

Michael:

I almost treat it like, like an RPG for the gamers out there.

Michael:

like, you start off with level zero.

Michael:

And then at the end of the game, you're like level 99,

Michael:

fighting dragons all this stuff.

Michael:

Like that's how I see myself.

Michael:

but at each failure of learning how to do a for loop learning,

Michael:

how to do an if statement.

Michael:

When I gave up, I didn't start at zero.

Michael:

Like you said, I had my save point.

Michael:

I'd accrued some knowledge of programming and it led me to be able to transition

Michael:

that and going with the metaphor here, instead of using fire, I use ice

Eddie:

I'm your host Eddie.

Eddie:

In this podcast, we interview guests about their origin story and what

Eddie:

makes them excited and joyful to be part of the tech community.

Eddie:

I hope you enjoy today's episode.

Eddie:

"Instead of Using Fire, I Use Ice" with Michael Liendo.

Eddie:

Welcome back to another episode of WebJoy!

Eddie:

I'm excited to have Michael joining us today.

Eddie:

How about you tell everyone who you are, what you do, where you work, you

Eddie:

know, a brief introduction, if you will.

Michael:

Yeah, they thanks for having me.

Michael:

It's great to be here.

Michael:

My name is Michael Liendo.

Michael:

I am a Senior Developer Advocate over at AWS, which I currently

Michael:

work on the Amplify team.

Michael:

We do a whole bunch of AWS for front-end development.

Michael:

We have a suite of tools that really help folks.

Michael:

And then , outside of work, I have my own brand, Focus Otter which case my

Michael:

YouTube channel and my blog, where I typically post about AWS solutions,

Michael:

startup solutions and just ways to engage small businesses in the community.

Eddie:

Nice.

Eddie:

That's awesome.

Eddie:

Well, that probably keeps you pretty busy.

Michael:

Yeah, for sure.

Michael:

for sure.

Michael:

Juggling all of that is always fun, but it's a passion.

Michael:

So sometimes, most days it doesn't even feel like work.

Eddie:

I think it's a common thing in tech, right.

Eddie:

For us to look back and be like, eh, this doesn't really feel like working.

Eddie:

But it's also a great place to be in, so that's excellent.

Eddie:

How did you get involved in tech?

Eddie:

Did you start as a developer advocate?

Eddie:

Did you start somewhere else and then kind of work your way over there?

Eddie:

What does that journey look like for you.

Michael:

Oh, geez.

Michael:

My origin story is kind of crazy because prior to advocating for developer tools,

Michael:

I was advocating for clothing products.

Michael:

I was a male model and doing that professionally for five to six years

Eddie:

wow

Michael:

Yeah.

Michael:

Yes.

Michael:

It's a really crazy story that my agent at time, Marie ping, she's amazing.

Michael:

She was saying what happens if something happens to the money maker?

Michael:

You know, what's your plan B and I, at the time was like, I don't know, there's this

Michael:

cool new product it's called an iPhone.

Michael:

And there's this really cool app called Flappy Birds, there's

Michael:

another one called Angry Birds.

Michael:

And I was like I'm pretty sure I could make something like that.

Michael:

So I took that as a challenge, taught myself how to code

Michael:

through a whole bunch of failing.

Michael:

Turns out I never did make an iPhone game but that led me down a path of

Michael:

web development, CSS, making things interactive and just sort of book after

Michael:

book, Udemy course after unfinished Udemy course, (laughing) Here I am.

Michael:

After a couple of foot in the door opportunities I ended up working

Michael:

at an enterprise and then long story short, I made my way here.

Michael:

And I think a big part of that is just learning how to be an advocate

Michael:

of sorts and also not being afraid to put myself out there in the community.

Eddie:

You were doing modeling before you shifted into tech

Eddie:

and went into programming.

Eddie:

Now advocating for good technology and helping people understand

Eddie:

how to use that technology.

Eddie:

What keeps you interested in what you're doing now and kind of you locked in there.

Michael:

I understood early on as I was transitioning from modeling to

Michael:

development that I don't like the be in the cubicle person, you know,

Michael:

I to be out there in the community.

Michael:

I have to be engaging with folks.

Michael:

And that's what does it for me, if anything, it's a little bit at odds

Michael:

because I'm naturally introverted and being able to get paid to be an extrovert

Michael:

is very much so within my wheelhouse, like, I'm that person where I love being

Michael:

out in the community, but I also like being a recluse and being in my own shell.

Michael:

So having the financial incentive to be like, "Hey could you grab

Michael:

and speak with these folks?"

Michael:

I love it.

Eddie:

I can understand that.

Eddie:

Definitely.

Eddie:

A lot of programmers are introverted.

Eddie:

I'm introverted.

Eddie:

myself.

Eddie:

So yeah, definitely.

Eddie:

If someone's like "All right, go out and socialize in order to get paid," like that

Eddie:

definitely would get me out of my bubble more and get me out in the community.

Eddie:

So that's cool.

Eddie:

One of the things that we like to talk about in this podcast is

Eddie:

something that brings you joy.

Eddie:

And it's funny, I heard a little tease to it in hearing about your story

Eddie:

and your iPhone learning journey.

Eddie:

So, talk us through what is the topic that brings you joy

Eddie:

and something that you'd like to talk a little bit more about.

Michael:

For sure.

Michael:

I always have a couple ideas top of mind, but I think the big

Michael:

one is just learning in general.

Michael:

Whenever you come across a brand new topic, there's this dichotomy of

Michael:

sorts where it's like, going to Excel.

Michael:

I'm gonna do great at this, but before I can get there, I'm gonna

Michael:

fail a whole lot and you have to learn to be okay with that.

Michael:

And once you learn that skill of being okay with uncomfortable and not knowing

Michael:

it really does feel like a superpower.

Michael:

And now that I've been doing this for almost a decade now, it's very clear that

Michael:

anytime I come to learn a new topic or I start that journey, I get excited because

Michael:

of all the failures that I know I'm going to have all the frustrations that I know

Michael:

I'm gonna have to endure, being able to push past that and understand that there

Michael:

is a light where you come out victorious

Michael:

uh, I almost treat it like, like an RPG for the gamers out there.

Michael:

like, you start off with level zero.

Michael:

And then at the end of the game, you're like level 99,

Michael:

fighting dragons all this stuff.

Michael:

Like that's how I see myself.

Michael:

Every time it comes to learning something new and I wish more

Michael:

folks could take it on as that way.

Michael:

Instead of oftentimes we find ourselves focusing on the short term result,

Michael:

which is typically not very good.

Eddie:

That makes sense for sure.

Eddie:

Well, and it's funny, right?

Eddie:

So many times like RPGs, have these save points and we save, and then

Eddie:

we go out and grind and you grind and you fight the enemies and then

Eddie:

you run into an enemy who kills you.

Eddie:

And you're back to the save point.

Eddie:

And think in RPGs, we have actually accepted this fact that we fail

Eddie:

on the journey and that's okay.

Eddie:

Right.

Eddie:

Like we realized that that tactic didn't work against that enemy, that boss And

Eddie:

it's okay, because we've got our save point and we're gonna figure out what

Eddie:

other tactic maybe we need to use fire instead of ice against this monster and

Eddie:

in RPGs we often embrace that, but I think in the real world, learning for

Eddie:

our jobs and things like that, we can get overwhelmed, Do you know what I mean?

Eddie:

And we don't think of that as an okay.

Eddie:

Option.

Eddie:

Like we get, I guess, embarrassed, if we fail in some way or something,

Michael:

Yeah.

Michael:

Starting off, as I mentioned, I went the iOS route.

Michael:

I wanted to be an iPhone developer.

Michael:

And when it came to learning structs and fetching data and all that

Michael:

stuff, it was brand new to me.

Michael:

It was a brand new language.

Michael:

I'm still Google searching, what is the best programming language?

Michael:

It was just something I'm sure we've all done, but at each failure

Michael:

of learning how to do a for loop learning, how to do an if statement.

Michael:

When I gave up, I didn't start at zero.

Michael:

Like you said, I had my save point.

Michael:

I'd accrued some knowledge of programming and it led me to be able to transition

Michael:

that and going with the metaphor here, instead of using fire, I use

Michael:

ice and that ice tactic was to take that same approach for an if statement

Michael:

and apply it to web development and that allowed me to progress to the

Michael:

next stage yeah, it is very much so in that role, playing game genre.

Eddie:

I think that's really encouraging to hear.

Eddie:

because a lot of people when they're learning and they encounter

Eddie:

failure, really isolating.

Eddie:

You don't want to tell anyone about it.

Eddie:

And since people don't often talk about it, I think, it's

Eddie:

kind of like a dirty secret.

Eddie:

I don't want anyone to know that I failed when I try to do this.

Eddie:

And so they'll announce when they get a success, but they won't

Eddie:

announce when they have a failure.

Eddie:

And so love how you talk about this and how that allows other

Eddie:

people to know it's okay.

Eddie:

For them to encounter this failures and that they can do similar things

Eddie:

to how you have and say, what have I learned and how can I take that save

Eddie:

point to launch a different strategy.

Eddie:

I think that's cool.

Eddie:

Right?

Eddie:

Cause you were thinking, oh, I'll build iPhone apps and now you do development,

Eddie:

but as a Developer Advocate, like you're showing other people how to

Eddie:

deal with programming, which is its own whole different skill set as well.

Eddie:

So you really did end up taking a different strategy in the long

Eddie:

run, which is really interesting.

Michael:

Yeah, and to bring it full circle I've built several iPhone

Michael:

apps, I just went React Native instead, So was never native iOS.

Eddie:

Well, that's brilliant.

Eddie:

Right?

Eddie:

Because didn't even have to give up on your initial, thought and dream.

Eddie:

You could still do what you initially wanted to do, but a different way.

Eddie:

I think that's awesome.

Eddie:

One of those things, you also mentioned giving the introduction about yourself,

Eddie:

that you work on this Focus Otter.

Eddie:

I think oftentimes when we're learning there can be a lot to learn.

Eddie:

Right.

Eddie:

Especially if you're trying to do a new thing, if you're trying to do a new

Eddie:

business or different stuff like that.

Eddie:

So, do you want to share what you do with Focus Otter and how you help

Eddie:

people manage like how much they have to learn and different things like that.

Michael:

Yeah, absolutely.

Michael:

It definitely ties in with my role at AWS as well.

Michael:

We're allowed to pick different niches of how we would like

Michael:

to advocate in the community.

Michael:

And one of mine is specializing in building production applications on top of

Michael:

Amplify and I really use that and leverage that advantage with my own business Focus

Michael:

Otter in the sense that I don't want to teach folks how to make a to-do list.

Michael:

And I don't wanna show them how to make hello world.

Michael:

I wanna give you the secret sauce.

Michael:

I'm gonna show you what a real world solution looks like.

Michael:

And that goes from how do I accept payments on my application?

Michael:

Developers, Don't like to hear this, but sometimes it's not, well, you need to

Michael:

install Stripe and you need to, learn, react and HTML it's like, no, no, no.

Michael:

like sometimes you just need to pay the 15 bucks and let

Michael:

somebody else handle that for you.

Michael:

Like, get your Shopify account set up.

Michael:

And those are the things that save time.

Michael:

They save frustration, because when you're in a small business and I'm talking about

Michael:

the solo-preneurs and the individuals out there who are just trying something.

Michael:

Really you just wanna make sure you have a small ball of success that

Michael:

you can really get that ball going.

Michael:

So that your, business seems sustainable and as long as you have that impression

Michael:

that it seems like this is going to work $15 a month to get an account set up

Michael:

or a blog post that lets you understand what is Stripe and what is this service

Michael:

where I have to enter my baking details.

Michael:

stuff is scary for people outside of tech having information that

Michael:

us as tech individuals can create for the non-tech folk is great.

Michael:

And that's what I'm all about.

Eddie:

I love that.

Eddie:

I've done some different podcasts in the past and it's funny, because in

Eddie:

previous podcasts I've built my own website and I've built the backend where

Eddie:

I need to upload the files and suddenly I'm not just producing a podcast.

Eddie:

I'm also developing software that has been a really challenge to keep it

Eddie:

going and keep it working correctly.

Eddie:

So this time, even though I can build something like that, I went with that

Eddie:

guidance and I was like, you know what, I'm just gonna grab a company

Eddie:

that hosts podcasts and they do it well, and I'm going to give it my

Eddie:

URL and they're going to handle it.

Eddie:

And I can just do the podcast and I don't need to do everything,

Eddie:

even though the developer heart in me wants to do everything.

Michael:

You know what, I take that and I guess for the developers out there,

Michael:

I'm not saying don't for some of the low hanging fruit where you can help out

Michael:

these individuals and make a small profit.

Michael:

the way that I approach it is I get asked by many folks how do I get

Michael:

my email, so that it's my company or admin or support @mycompany.com.

Michael:

And after a while I was just doing it for free.

Michael:

Like, you know, here it is.

Michael:

And then you transition just like with anything else you say, well I'll

Michael:

record myself making a video of it.

Michael:

And then I'll give that to folks.

Michael:

And if for whatever reason, they still don't feel comfortable.

Michael:

Well, okay.

Michael:

So now, you know, I have a product there that's free.

Michael:

You can check it.

Michael:

If you still want me, well, then that's where the money comes into play.

Michael:

And I think that's a fair way to do things.

Eddie:

I love that.

Eddie:

Like you said you put some information out there, right?

Eddie:

You give good free information, but then some people need a little

Eddie:

bit more guidance or they have very specific things or situations.

Eddie:

And so they want be able to pay some money to actually dive into

Eddie:

that a little bit more precisely.

Eddie:

I think that's awesome.

Eddie:

You know, As we wrap up the episode today, we always like to see if

Eddie:

there's anything they'd like to share with the community, so do you

Eddie:

have anything you'd like to share?

Michael:

Yeah, I have my own channels.

Michael:

I have my own blogs in, in YouTube.

Michael:

you could find me at Focus Otter, however instead of plugging those directly, I

Michael:

would actually want to shout-out one of our former AWS community builders.

Michael:

I have to say former because she just actually got an offer and started last

Michael:

week at the time of this recording at AWS as a Developer Advocate.

Michael:

So this is gonna be, Linda Viva, and she has this amazing

Michael:

product line, Coding Crystals.

Michael:

You can check it out over at CodingCrystals.com.

Michael:

the cool thing about that is she creates by herself, apparel

Michael:

for Developer Advocates.

Michael:

So this is in sense of hair clips, hair ties, I'm sure you can get t-shirts.

Michael:

But it's amazing.

Michael:

And the fact that there's this whole section of broadening out, tech for

Michael:

underrepresented individuals, I love it.

Michael:

So that's what I'm going to plug today.

Eddie:

Awesome.

Eddie:

That's great.

Eddie:

Michael, thank you for joining us today.

Eddie:

It's been a pleasure to chat.

Michael:

Always great.

Michael:

Always great.

Michael:

Thanks for having me.

Michael:

This has been amazing and until next time.

Eddie:

Thanks for joining us for Episode 5.

Eddie:

"Instead of Using Fire, I Use Ice" with Michael Liendo.

Eddie:

You can find out more about Michael on his Twitter @mtliendo.

Eddie:

You can find links to everything we talked about in this episode, as

Eddie:

well as a link to Michael's website and Twitter in the show notes.

Eddie:

If you enjoyed this episode, please consider rating and reviewing

Eddie:

it in your favorite podcast directory: iTunes, Spotify.

Eddie:

etc.

Eddie:

and follow us on Twitter @WebJoyFM.

Eddie:

Thank you for listening and have a great day!

Eddie:

Next episode on WebJoy.

Kelly:

Ultimately I really loved UI I loved just everything about the

Kelly:

corner radius of a button really fascinated me I don't know if that's,

Kelly:

um, normal or what, but I was obsessed.

Kelly:

With other games there is a set number of animations, everything

Kelly:

feels very AI and very obvious.

Kelly:

So if you dodge two times roll it's like oh this feels like a very scripted event

Kelly:

And I feel what Elden Ring gets right is that It's just kind of unpredictable.

Kelly:

There's so many different animation sets from someone who's made video games,

Kelly:

just the amount of diversity in terms of the movement sets and how they move.

Kelly:

You remember the fights, you remember the encounters they're so challenging

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About the Podcast

WebJoy
Find your happy place
The WebJoy podcast is an inclusive community centered on celebrating the diverse origins, skills, and experiences that make up the tech industry.

Talking with guests about their origin stories, what they love about working in their roles, and what they find joy in keeps this an upbeat and rather lighthearted podcast.

We approach the world with optimism and hope, while recognizing the flaws and challenges within our own industry and the world at large. We believe that if we work together, we can all find our happy place.

About your host

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Eddie Hinkle

Eddie's mission is to bring joy and empathy to the tech industry. He does this through engineering leadership, mentoring and podcasting. Eddie currently works as an Engineering Manager at Glassdoor, Mentors on ADPList and hosts the WebJoy podcast.