How to Build Your Dream Career in Tech - Self-Made Web Designer
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How to Build Your Dream Career in Tech

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Getting a job in the tech field is becoming more and more competitive.

People are realizing that there are tons of opportunities for jobs in web development, software development, UX design etc. So, it’s much harder to get a job in that space than it was 5 years ago.

That’s what we talk about on this episode of the Self-Made Web Designer podcast with my good friend Anthony Garone.

Anthony is the director at software development for InfoArmor. At his time there he’s interviewed thousands of potential employees and hired hundreds. So, he brings a wealth of knowledge when it comes to what it takes to stand out when applying for a job in the tech field.

The truth is you can’t just get a degree and call yourself ready. You have to be actively building skills and working to make yourself stand out.

Anthony will show you how.

Today’s Guest

Anthony Garone

Anthony Garone is a creative technology leader with a heart for helping people understand who they are, where they excel, and what they can offer the world. He has co-founded and advised several startups, runs Make Weird Music, and leads software and technology teams at an identity theft protection firm, InfoArmor, which was acquired by Allstate in October 2018.

Anthony lives in Mesa, Arizona with his wife and three children.

You’ll Learn

  • How to ace the tech interview
  • How to network as an introvert
  • How to get past your own excuses and start building the life and career you want
  • The top things employers look for when hiring a web developer

Resources

Chris Misterek
With us today is an awesome guy, Mr. Anthony Garone. He's been a mentor to me and many others when it comes to web development. He was actually the first person to encourage me so many years ago at a coffee shop to look into web development. Currently, Anthony has just written a book called Clueless At The Work which is really, really good. I highly encourage you to pick it up. He also works as the director of software development at a company called Info Armor here in Scottsdale, Arizona, and runs a successful YouTube channel called Make Weird Music where he highlights some on the edge musicians and bands that are actually pretty incredible but don't get a lot of airtime. And so I'm so glad you could be on the phone call with me today. Anthony, thank you so much for being here with us.

Anthony Garone
Of course Chris, anything for you. You are an awesome person who's actually serious about doing good work and working hard. So I will make time for anyone who is serious about growth and changing their life.

Chris Misterek
Wow, thank you. I actually need help moving some stuff later on tonight. If you wouldn't mind coming over.

Anthony Garone
I feel like I've done that for you before.

Chris Misterek
Yeah, you actually have. But, uh, no, you're just an incredible person all around. Thank you. Thank you for your kind words. Um, I felt like we maybe should kick it off with you just give us a background of where you've come from and how you got to be where you are today.

Anthony Garone
No problem. So in the late 1990s, I was a teenager. And we had early access to dial-up internet. And I don't mean AOL, which we already had. I mean, like the real deal Internet with the mosaic web browser, actually running on a computer and being some of the First people in Arizona to have access to HTML. So, my dad, he worked in technology, and he knew people at Arizona State University. And that's how we got on the internet. So I've been I'm kind of an old school guy. I have been writing HTML and stuff for the web since 1995 96, something like that. And I went in high school, there was a kid who, who, maybe in 10th or 11th grade, he said, Man, my brother just got a job making $75,000 a year and they bought him a Lexus, a company car, and they're moving him to San Francisco. And I was like, how did he do that? And my friend goes, he studied computer science in college, and I was like, Well, I don't know what computer science is, but I'm gonna study that. Go after high school graduation. Did in 2000. And I signed up for computer science at ASU. I did well in high school. So I had a scholarship and everything at ASU. And I had no idea what I was getting into. And about three years into my degree program, I just hated it. I could not stand computer science. I didn't know it was like really hardcore math and programming and all that stuff. But in the meantime, I was always doing freelance work on the web, you know, HTML and whatever I could, you know, build. And I got this internship with a guitarist and LA. And his neighbor was alike, brilliant inventor in computer science. And so after working for the guitarist, I went to work for the inventor at a think tank that he owned. And this is a guy who helped invent raid arrays who helped invent, you know, parallel processing. He was in his like, the early 30s when he invented Like, computers that had 64,000 processors in them, you know, to emulate the human brain. He had Richard Fineman working on the computer like, he was another level, you know? Yeah, it's crazy. When I was working for him, I had dinner with Jeff Bezos, and dinner with Peter Gabriel. The weirdest time of my life. But anyway, while I was working for him, I met a guy who showed me PHP and my SQL, and that was in 2003. So I just my mind was blown at what you could do with a database and actual interactive development through PHP. So from that point on, I was like a LAMP stack developer, hardcore. I looked at content management systems like WordPress, and whatever, in the early days, and I wanted to write my own. So I just wrote CMS as a hobby for several years. That's all I did. I mean, like, you might get obsessed with practicing it in the instrument you might get obsessed with sports or something. I was obsessed with writing CMS. So I cut my teeth on PHP, my SQL, and had jobs in it. So during the day, I was doing it and eventually landed. A software development opportunity actually created the opportunity. at Pearson, I become a manager after a few years. This was around 2010, I think. And I created my own software development team within the Operations Group at Pearson and became like a total full-time developer for a couple of years. And then I ended up running a software development agency. I was on the executive team, you know, helping to run the company and I've managed all of the technical staff. And now after that, after five years, I went to Info Armor and we write apps in react and in a lot of complex back end services, I've been exposed to running out like dozens of applications all over the planet. I've done stuff. I've worked on products that get millions of logins a day and make literally millions of dollars per day during peak usage. And then I've worked on stuff that like my own stuff that gets, you know, 1,020 users a day. So, startups and everything in between. So yeah, I love tech. I've been doing software dev for a long time. And it's just in my blood by now.

Chris Misterek
Yeah, one of the interesting, interesting things you said was, you know, not only did you get a degree in computer software but you really just did stuff in your free time. And I think what a lot of people assume, in getting an education in computer engineering, computer software, web development, whatever. They feel like they're going to come out of college, and people are just going to be, you know, signing them up for jobs left and right. And, and a lot of people find out, that's just not true. So, talk a little bit about that about, doing stuff on the side as you had other jobs learning on your own and the motivation and how that was helpful for you along later along in your career.

Anthony Garone
Yeah, so, practice is a huge part of becoming good at anything. And in my book I talk about, you know, they say practice makes perfect, but that's not true. Perfect practice makes perfect. And, to me in software, perfect practice means building a portfolio of useful things that get better every time you write them. So perfect practice is understanding best practices in the industry, understanding the paradigms of the languages you're using and the infrastructure. I mean, when I was just getting started, there was no cloud anything. I mean, you were running Your own Linux box and you know, your web server was a physical machine under your desk or it was in a, you know, in a data center or something. Now, you can provision server lists, you know, lambda functions that are just bits of code that execute on demand. So it's totally different, you know, era than when I started. However, you have to practice you have to get good. And companies don't want to pay you to get good. They want to pay for you because you already are good. I mean, they will practice and pay you for training, they will pay you to get good at something for you know, study it for a week, maybe two weeks, but after those couple of weeks you're expected to be performing and chances are new technologies, especially as they're using newer and faster paradigms, you're expected to just be able to start building the computer science program as well. was great and very helpful for me, not because of what I learned, you know, in the like tactical I learned Java, Java two, I learned Java and I learned, you know, c++ and I learned this and that, that stuff wasn't the useful part. It was understanding how to learn in the industry. And you like with a computer science degree, you get the knowledge of how computers work and how languages work. So it's like being a linguist on a computer. And as any linguist might know, you don't just start speaking French, even if you know Italian and Spanish you know like, there are intricacies you have to learn you generally understand the construction of languages but you have to really get like into the details of it. So, when you are practicing like once you understand the fundamentals of computer programming languages. Practice really means understanding the intricacies and nuances Have a language of a technology of a platform, whatever it is because you have enough general experience to understand what it's trying to do in the first place. So when you are, or at least for me, as I was growing through all of this, like I knew I would have to stay ahead of the curve. And during the day when during the workday, there's no time to be ahead of the curve. You got to get your work done. You got to get your you got to meet your timelines, your budget, all that stuff. They don't like companies that don't care if it's the latest and greatest. They care that it works, that it meets the requirements that it's on time that's on budget, all that stuff. So really, at night for me, and probably for a lot of people or early morning, or lunch hour. That's the time to be exploring and experimenting and trying new things and you know, really getting a taste for what is happening outside of the day to day needs of your job. So I would use my nights, weekends, mornings, whatever free time, I had to really understand and level up my game. What was happening in the industry? And obviously, the LAMP stack is no longer the paradigm. But for a few years I really, I mean, that's I ate, slept, breathed LAMP stack. And now you see the best developers eating, sleeping drinking JavaScript full-stack apps or Python back ends or Java back ends or whatever it is, but it is definitely beyond the 40-hour gig. And I'm not saying that's a requirement of your job. I'm saying if you want to be great in this industry, your competition is going to be working harder than you unless you are doing nights weekends, whatever, not at the sacrifice of your family or whatever that you know you having a good life, but you're probably going to have to be competing or else the S curve either There's this concept jumping the S curve. And there's a book about it. But you'll basically get left behind because tech is changing faster than you are able to keep up. And you become you go from like leading bleeding edge expert to the person who Madhuku like maintains the modern tech to the person who maintains the legacy tech. And then the legacy tech is phased out. And if you weren't keeping up on the thing that replaces that, you're out. So yeah, I've been dealing with this since the late 1990s. You know, no one's writing HTML one anymore. In fact, very few people are even writing HTML in modern web apps. Its JSX in a react app, you know, so everything's changing all the time. And it doesn't need to create anxiety, but you do need to stay on top of it. And you do need to be able to be conversant in modern tech.

Chris Misterek
Yeah, it seems like this industry is one where you kind of almost have to be passionate about it if you're going to stay up to date with it. And that passion can wax and wane across certain seasons. But I think it's important to look at it as you might be sacrificing some night hours, but it's only for a season of time until you catch up, you know, and then and then you'll have some free time. It's not like you're just going to be forever eating, breathing, sleeping a language learning it like there's this there's an amount of time and then you grow.

Anthony Garone
Yeah, I think, you know, passion is good. But passion is only a piece of the equation and you know, passion is kind of, they say it's a young man's game or something like that. following your passion can be can also wreck you so I think you have to be more strategic than passionate and if you are passionate It's very easy to get tunnel vision. And there's a saying that I believe is very understated. And that is if you have a hammer, then everything looks like a nail. So once you become passionate about something, your passion becomes the tool that pigeonholes every problem that you look at. And so I think it's, it's good to be passionate, but be passionate about the right things. Otherwise, you're, it's not a perfect practice. Its practice makes perfect in a bad way where you are practicing bad habits. And then you are ingraining bad habits and bad ideologies into your future. And you need to make sure that you in the tech industry, you stay open-minded because if you're the person who in 10 years hates JavaScript, you know, chances are there aren't going to be a whole lot of jobs available for you. Because you see JavaScript is like kind of taken over everything because it's one language where you can write your API endpoints on the back end and run a web server. And then on the front end, you can write really complex applications with beautiful user interactions. So maybe there will be a replacement for JavaScript, I really don't know. But chances are, you know if you're like a peach, hardcore PHP developer, there are fewer and fewer jobs available, and even fewer if you are a c++ expert, and even fewer if you are a C or co ball or something like that, you know, things evolve over time. And you need to make sure that the paradigm that you love and are passionate about doesn't lock you into obsolescence.

Chris Misterek
Yeah, that's a great word really big. I'm gonna have to try to use that.
podcasts to share big words. It's really, this is your podcast voice. I love it. It's something you mentioned to me really early on when I was starting out to learn, that was really a part of the driving factor for why I worked so hard to learn and to break into the industry and to start freelancing was that when someone's hiring you, they're there. Well, at least you when you are hiring a person, they're looking a lot less at what kind of credentials you have, and a lot more of what you actually have to show for the things that you say, you know, I'd love for you to speak a little bit about that.

Anthony Garone
Yeah, so I actually was just at an event hosted by Apple computer, or I guess they're just Apple Inc now. And they have a program called everyone can code. And I've been a local representative of sorts for that program for the last few years ever since it actually got started. I'm friends with someone who is part of the initiative and keeps it running here in Arizona. So yesterday, I was in a room full of energy. caters and students at Scottsdale Community College. And they have asked, what do we look for when we're hiring. And I have a list here that I'd be happy to go through from yesterday. So Info Armor is a really unique, interesting story. It's the kind of story that I think a lot of people want under my resume. I didn't go to the informer, because I knew this story was going to happen. It just kind of happened within a very grateful for it. So when I was hired in October 2018, I'm sorry, March, late March or February, it doesn't matter early 2018.
I was employee number 101.
And several months later, we were acquired by Allstate. And at that point, I think we had like 115 employees, and the acquisition was $525 million. So a half a billion-dollar asset acquisition by Allstate of a company nobody had ever heard of in Arizona, selling identity theft protection as an insurance benefit, you know, like, you can buy vision insurance, you can buy pet insurance, you can buy short term and long term disability. Well, with informer, through the right insurance broker, you can also buy identity theft insurance. So Allstate saw that as an appealing way to modernize its services and they bought informer. And after they bought informer, they said, We want to scale you to become a go from you know, at that time, we were making 60 some million dollars that year with 100 people. Then last year in 2019, it was much closer to 100 million. So we've had 30 to 40% year over year growth for several years, which is that hockey stick, you know, growth chart that companies love to see. So after the acquisition, we were told we need to Hire over 100 new people to scale to do everything we needed to do for 2019. I've personally like before that acquisition, I probably hired, I don't know, 50 people. But last year, I probably hired 50 people. We had between five and 15 people starting every week, every week. Every week, there was a team of people that I have never seen before. I couldn't even remember if I interviewed them because I was interviewing so many people to bring them in to fill roles that were just brand new. So last year was particularly challenging. And I was involved in a lot of interviews I probably hired at this point, you know, around 200 people, and I've interviewed thousands of people, that's for sure. You know, call them up, looked at the resume, all of that stuff. The things that I look for are a portfolio. I want to make sure that they can show the code like there's proof that they know how to code, I look to see if they've worked on products versus projects. There are a lot of people who get to work on products. And that's a type of, you know, code delivery that is unique from or distinct from project delivery. And, you know, the expectations and requirements are often pretty different. So if they're a product person, I can get a sense of the kinds of questions I can ask them in an interview. And usually, products come with features. And often the bigger the product, the smaller the feature, and the developer gets to work on. So for example, I, I had interviewed a guy who worked at Amazon and he worked on the share button, like the link that says, you know, it's a little rectangle with the arrow pointing out of it like that was his job. Amazon's so big, they can have a product team working on the share button. So Anyway, I make sure that they have a portfolio, I make sure that they are self-directed. So what that means is, I can make sure that they can be assured that they can work on their own. And this is especially important for a senior-level position, especially at a company that's growing rapidly. Like we nearly tripled our size last year. I mean, think about that. We had huge project delivery schedules, I had to bring a product to market and I had to integrate our product with a major client Sam's Club. And that seemed hard enough, and then our CTO, my friend, Anila, she's like, and we need to hire 100 people, you know, I was ready to jump out of the building.

So everyone that I've hired, they, I need to make sure that they're self-directed. So the questions I asked are like, tell me how you manage the chaos. You know, when you experience it at work, when you have ambiguity in requirements, tell me what you do. When you're getting conflicting direction from a product leader versus a technology leader because a product leader might say, we need this feature to solve this client's problem, and the technology leader is like, if we build that feature, we're going to take on tech debt. So we cannot do that, you know, like, how do you balance that stuff out? I make sure that the person has what we currently call soft skills. And I'll ask them about, have you worked on a product team or project team? What was the typical team size that you worked on? I generally I try to avoid developers that have mostly worked so low because the scale of the projects that I work on or I lead, they require larger teams of five to 15 people across this several disciplines, and all the developers that I hired in the past year, and I'm going to be hiring some more real soon. They have to work remotely because that's the paradigm All of our devs are working remotely. We have offices, but devs don't show up. They just work on their code all day. So you need to be able to work on your own without a lot of direction and be able to work with a team of people across time zones, and they're all self-directed. So it's important that you're able to converse with them that you're able to interpret what they're saying that you're able to, like, keep account the conversation going because developers are, they can be great technical communicators, but they can be, you know, stereotypically, not great interpersonally and relationships, drive products and projects, whether people want to admit that or not, it doesn't matter. It's true. It's really these are humans working together. So make sure that we that the candidate has good soft skills as to a college degree, that it depends. So I don't really care if the person has a college degree, but I know if they do have a college degree, they come with certain advantages, like, they're probably going to have had group work. If it's a junior position and they recently came out of college, then then I need to know that the college experience gave them the team experience that I'm hoping for. And their ability to learn is going to be different. Some, you know, self-made people like you. You had to learn on your own. But as you know, once you got a job, it was like, very different from working on your own, you know, building a website in your spare time. It's totally different from working on a product full time. So if you don't have a degree, then I at least make sure that there is relevant experience, but it's not a filter. And I think if you ask more and more dev managers nowadays outside of major corporations, you know, like Intel or a place like that they're going to require a degree, but a lot of smaller companies are not.

And then finally, I recommend that like, or not really a recommendation, I just look to see that people are constantly learning. So I'll ask how do you learn? Like, how do you keep up? And that that goes back to the nights, weekends, mornings, lunch hour time to stay ahead. If if they don't have any sources of learning and, and it sounds crazy, but a lot of developers are like, I don't really read anything. I don't go to conferences, I don't go to networking events. I'm not on Twitter, you know, like, I just show up, I do my job. I read the documentation, you know, if the company wants me to learn that's on their dime. Okay, there's probably another job for you, you know, but I'm not going to be looking for someone who, who only learns when they're getting paid. And it's not because I think, you know, companies should abuse their employees and force them to learn on their own time. It's more than interested people will be interested in the work The projects I'm often on are ambiguous, complex, aggressive, I need to make sure these are people that are going to, you know, stay up and keep learning. And I also look at their LinkedIn page and see if they have an actual network. Like, if a developer with 10 years of experience has 20 connections on LinkedIn, it either shows that they don't care about LinkedIn, which is fine. You know, but if they had if they're clearly active on LinkedIn, but they have no network, it's kind of like, well, where are the people skills? Why aren't people connecting with this person? So, you know, these are not like, hard requirements. But it's, these are all indicators of something greater. So those are that's kind of like a holistic evaluation. And I guess one other thing is, I make sure that they are able to speak to anything on the resume that stands out to me is a red flag like I'll often see People who, with five years of experience are like, seniors, it's like, how did you get to a senior level role with, you know, three years of software experience? And then it's like, well, it was a company of four people. Oh, all right. Well, your senior and my senior are two very different definitions. So try to work that out. Or if I see like, they're overstating their, their involvement in a project or their importance in a project, like there's not going to be, I can say something like, Oh, well, I led the integration between Sam's Club and Info Armor. And you might say, Well, that sounds like kind of a big thing. If I, if I can't really speak to what it takes forward, like what that sentence actually means. And a lot of people you know, if they haven't, if they're stretching the truth, they can't speak to it. But if they can speak to it, and they're articulate and this isn't about communication skills, it's about being able to verify the content or the substance behind the content, then I'm like, okay, yeah, this person is not just tooting their own horn or I guess blowing it, you know, they are. They're actually just saying, they were very, very involved and then when I asked them, it becomes a good conversation during the interview. So I make sure that everything that they say on the resume is true, or as true as I can determine from a conversation. And I make sure that they actually speak to the things on the resume instead of just saying, well, it's on the resume. Like, I don't care if it's on the resume, I can write anything on my resume. And references aren't really checked that often and I don't look to see that the person definitely has that degree and that they definitely worked in all these places. Like, especially in this industry, there's so much demand for talent. There's a lot that you can get away with. So I just try to make sure that the resume looks truthful. You know, there's a high degree of truthiness. So that's my long answer to your question. Yeah.

Chris Misterek
Let's talk about that last point a little bit. Because, you know, we see that a lot at Show It as well, where people, smudge the edges of their experience. And so, you know, our point is we'd rather somebody kind of undersell themselves or speak truthful about their limitations versus try to paint this picture that is maybe even slightly inaccurate, so what would you rather: somebody overstate or understate their ability in a job interview or on a resume?

Anthony Garone
Well, house the show house MD, has a great theme, and that's everybody lies, right? A resume is everyone's social media feed. You know, to an employer, you always try to portray this person that doesn't really exist. And it's kind of like, look how great I am. And look at all this amazing experience I have and, and I really am a leader in this space. And here are the numbers behind my, my work and all that stuff like, yeah, that's probably somewhere close to true. I don't know I have a very sensitive bs detector when it comes to hiring techie people. And if their resume is like, six pages long and it's like there's like 1000 bullet points under each job. There are certain types of people that do that and I can tell if they're just being like overly cautious or if they're bs saying you know, it when you look at thousands of resumes, you start understanding how people Use resumes, especially for software development positions. But software developers typically don't overstate their importance. It's usually other roles where involvement is overstated. I found that most developers are the most engineering-minded developers who are extremely honest about what they've done. And they actually can't see the bigger picture of their involvement. So it's usually like, I wrote this many lines of code, or I built this feature, but they're not talking about like the greater product delivery and the purpose of their work on that project or the product. So it's usually very technical and specific. The problems that I started seeing is when you get into the more creative types of developers like self-made web designers, you'll see you know, you'll see you'll start seeing like fancy looking resumes, and you'll see like Here's the graph of my capabilities. I'm an eight out of 10 in JavaScript, and I'm a nine out of 10 on, you know, like Photoshop. And then I'm like, you know, a lot of this is, is visually pleasing. And I think they're just trying to give me a marketing brochure and not actually telling me what they're doing. So I have to approach the interview differently. But as far as I've seen, the more you learn, the more you realize you don't know. So, anyone who says they're an eight or nine on JavaScript, they're probably lying to themselves. They're not lying to me, you know, they probably think they are eight or nine out of 10. They just don't know what they don't know. And the more senior front end developers I've spoken to that are really awesome at JavaScript. They're always like, probably a six or seven. I know and they'll say, I know there's a lot of stuff that JavaScript can do. I'm really good at these things. But in the grand scheme of JavaScript, there's a whole lot that I don't know. That's a way more senior answer then. Yeah, I'm an eight out of 10 on JavaScript for sure.

Chris Misterek
For sure.Yeah. Yeah. And that's, that's something in your book that you, you really tend to highlight. I mean, that's the whole idea is that we're all clueless and, you know, growing as a person is not becoming more clueless, or less clueless. It's about understanding just how clueless you are. Right?

Chris Misterek
Yeah, it's, it's not about it's not that cluelessness is bad. It's that you have to admit that you're clueless. And I mean, I'm sure you've realized, like, the more you've gotten into web development, the more intimidating it is, and the crazier you know, The possibilities are for what you're able to do. The Tech is so powerful now it's like you're building there are so many dependencies in your code. And there's a, there's a statement, I think is a philosophical one, it's turtles all the way down. So what that means is like, it's one turtle stacked on top of another, another, and another and another. And you're just at the top of a stack of like 100 turtles, and you hope that everything under you is stable and doesn't fall apart. But once you start, like writing your own frameworks, when you start writing your own web servers, and JavaScript, or whatever it is, that's when you start realizing Holy cow. There's so much that can go wrong, you know, and the better developers are more skeptical about the quality of their code or the quality or the level of their capabilities than anyone else. I don't necessarily believe in the Dunning Kruger effect, but it is something that that's worth understanding. And that's basically like the classic example of that is people who are not that good at math. If you ask people, how do you think you would do on the math SATs, you know if you had to go back to your high school math and take the LSAT in the math test, how do you think you would do? And the people who didn't get that far in math in high school are like, I'd probably do fine. And the people who got really far in math, we're like, oh, I would be so bad at it.
But those people end up scoring better when they actually take the test than the people who overestimated and I think it just goes to show them the more you know, the more you learn, the less you know. So it's really like it's really about awareness of cluelessness. It's not the valuing clueless people or anything like that. I just think we need to be way more sensitive to our own cluelessness because it's dangerous to believe that you have a clue in the beginning.

Chris Misterek
For sure. And the thing I love about the concept is is it's not telling people to not go for it. It's just telling people to understand where you're at. It's self-actualization. And be cautious about your way forward. You know, so that like you said earlier in the conversation, you don't get burnt out, you don't get really passionate and then quit. Because I think a lot of people who are thinking about getting into web development or web design are just afraid that they don't have what it takes to actually get to a point of proficiency, you know, and so I don't I didn't hear you saying that in your book. And if anything, I feel like this helps you see things clearly and helps you figure out a strategy to close the gap of cluelessness to known cluelessness, you know, more so than if you just sit back and hope that it all kind of works out by somebody teaching you something from a class.

Anthony Garone
Absolutely. I'm gonna hire someone who is aware of their limitations before I hire someone who tells me they have no limitations. And it's because like I said, once you're exposed to deeper knowledge, then you see how, how far, how much further you can go in terms of depth and breadth. I've been running this Make Word Music channel for almost six years now. And I built a video studio, in my backyard, mostly with my bare hands. And the more I film, the harder it is to get focus, right? The harder it is to get the best audio possible, the harder it is to get good lighting. And the harder it is to watch the stuff that I made that I used to be proud of. And that's because I've learned as I go, that there are real answers. experts who go super deep in each of these areas, and to be a one-man show is ridiculous. You know, it's, it's the lie that society tells you that you can be a one-person anything. Nothing on the planet is done by one person. Nothing like your cup of coffee. How many people did it take to get that cup of coffee to you? It's not like one person grew that means and then you know, they watered it and all that stuff. The water didn't come from their own source, you know, like, someone's got a hole that was made by someone. So anyway, like, there are people who only do focus in the movies, there are people who hold the microphone in the right place. Like these are super-specific details in movie production. And I'm not just talking huge budget things I'm talking like any serious movie crew or film production crew. They have someone who just adjusts the focus knob and keeps people in focus all the time, that people who hold the money microphone in the right place, they have to know who is speaking. And when. And for me to imagine that after six years, that I truly can be a one-person shop is ridiculous. What I've realized is I wish that I had five people working with me in the studio at one in the morning when I'm trying to shoot this really ridiculous guitar video, you know, because it takes a team. It's not a one-person thing. So that's really where I'm coming from. I don't want to hear how great you are. I want to hear how great you have become at the things that you've gotten great at. And I want to hear how much you can appreciate the things that you don't know.

Chris Misterek
Yeah. And that's something I think that for a lot of technical, technically-minded developers might really struggle with is this idea of soft skills being incredibly important, and actually just wrote an article about how in It is to network. And I know that in your book, you talk a lot about how you actually practice that skill. It wasn't just like, Oh, hey, I should be good at networking. You sought out the skill, just as you would seek out any other skill.

Anthony Garone
Yeah, I mean, my wife has asked me if she thinks I'm on the spectrum, you know, if she thinks I have Asperger's, and when, when I talk about that with other people, they're like, That's ridiculous. You know, you're very conversational when we get together and a dynamic speaker when you're in front of people, but I have to turn that on. That's a knob that has to get cranked. So like when I knew we were going to do this interview, I had to think and prepare myself and say, now's the time to put on this hat, where you are a conversational person with things to say that, that are interesting that people care about whatever whereas a few years ago before I really had started crafting this skill, I would just stare at people thinking I'm a really good listener. Like, I'm really focusing on what they're saying. And they're like, are you listening Are you haven't said anything, I'm like, I'm listening so hard. I'm not listening, you know. So you know, you learn that you've got to hone and manage the things that just don't come naturally to you. And networking just doesn't come naturally to me. And I think it's hard for anyone who spends a lot of time alone in front of a computer to just naturally be, be great at networking. I mean, it's easy to fire off of instant message or a text message or a tweet or something like that and believe that you're good at networking, but you don't know that you're good at networking until you're in a room with 30 people you don't know and the expectations are you're supposed to start talking to people you've never met, you don't know anything about them. You don't know, their backgrounds, their biases, their sensitivities. You know, like, I'm a white guy in tech. So I go to an event and I'm like, okay, I need to make sure that I don't come across as the typical, overbearing, you know, mansplaining, whatever. Even if I don't believe that about myself, I don't know what someone else is going to believe and what sort of, there's the unconscious bias concept. So, you know, that's a skill in and of itself. So going to going into a room of people you don't know, and putting on your networking hat, you just have to realize, like, everyone is there for a reason. Everyone is insecure about it. Everyone's working on the skill. And it's really it's not about networking, it's about practicing your networking skills. So if I did differently like that, Then I'm like, okay, cool, this person's here for the same reason I am. And they probably feel just as awkward as I do. And they're probably not even going to notice how awkward I'm feeling because they are feeling so awkward themselves. Especially a technical, technical events, you know, like, if it's a roomful of software developers, everyone would rather be like, and I'm generalizing here, but typing on their laptop, looking at their phone, you know, showing a YouTube video, anything that like, removes the need to make eye contact and have a serious conversation for an extended period of time. So it's definitely a skill. It's definitely something to practice. It definitely doesn't come easy.

Chris Misterek
Yeah. And I love the idea of coming to a place just to practice like, there's no real goal. I'm just here to get better at this thing. And you even talk about that. And we've had some clips finding discussions on in the book with, you know, interviewing for sport, you know, like learning, learning the art of being interviewed and promoting yourself, but also being honest about yourself, all the things that we've talked about that are actually a skill that needs to be developed over time, but most people are doing it, you know, if they're job-hopping, they do it every year, you know, which is a long time between the two points. You know, so there are those things that you've just got to keep practicing and looking at it in that regard.

Anthony Garone
That's right. And if you think that you're good at it, you're, you're probably out of practice, you know, like, you don't get that many opportunities to interview unless you seek it out. And even for me, I've run a YouTube channel where I interview people. I have hired, you know, a couple of hundred people I've interviewed hundreds of if not a couple of thousand people. And as soon as I find myself on the other side of the table being interviewed, then it's like, oh, oh, wow, this is different. You know this is not what I'd practiced. So it's definitely a different skill than someone who interviews a lot of people thinks it is. And that really, that message hit home for me just less than a year ago when we were looking for a new head of QA. And, you know, once an employee at informer said, Hey, I used to work with this guy at a former company. He's really good. And, you know, let's interview him. So we interviewed him, and the guy was one of the worst interviews I've ever experienced. He had 1520 years of experience in the industry as a QA leader, but he couldn't answer basic questions like, you know, and he was also unprepared for the fact that I have people in my network who shared with me that that guy's not a good leader. So, as I already knew about this person because of having a strong network. And in the meantime, like he was asking, or he was saying to me, Well, you know, here's what I did, I did this, and this and this and that. And I said, You know, I have people in my network who have told me that it's frustrating to work at that company, because of the quality issues. And he couldn't answer. He was like, Well, that's because the leadership team did this. And the budgeting went like that. And I was like, but you're in charge of quality. Like, what were you doing to manage through those problems? And he kept blaming the problems instead of taking accountability for being a leader in that space. And he thought he was walking into an interview where He had a, you know, we were gonna throw softballs at him because he knew one of the key people, you know, at our company. And the truth is, he said, eventually I think I broke him down. And he said you know what guys, I haven't interviewed in over 10 years. And I know, I'm not happy with this performance. And it's really making it clear to me that I'm not the right fit for the job. Like, he admitted it, because he realized he was so out of practice. And that made me that was just like a really stark reminder for me, that it's important to have conversations where I'm not the interviewer. And I need to be able to speak to the things that I do well and be able to answer tough questions, especially if I represent leadership in any particular area of technology.
You know, I need to be able to speak to my weaknesses. So the things I don't know Know, to the limitations that I have. Because the higher up I go, the more important those flaws become. And I need to be able to speak to them and, and still sell myself and what I'm able to do, despite them.

Chris Misterek
I love that idea of ownership, you know, and I think it's so important for everybody but especially for people who are trying to learn web development or break into web design from a kind of a non-traditional route, you know, because if you are placing excuses on the reasons why you're not getting started or not learning or not growing like you will never see that development come. There's a book by Jon Acuff called Finish. And he talks about how we have these unwritten rules that we place on ourselves and really all those unwritten rules are excusing why something that was completely in our control. We couldn't finish and some of them are righteous, you know, some of them are like, well, I was, you know, my kid was sick. So I couldn't, I couldn't do that thing that I had promised everybody was going to do, you know, where, and some of them might even be legitimate, you know, but at the end of the day, you have to, and this is what your book really highlights, you have to look inwardly and say, Okay, I am in control of what's happening. And there are things that I can do, you know, despite there being certain limitations, so how can I work around these limitations?

Anthony Garone
Absolutely. And if you represent something or you need to, if you're like, on them if you are a single point of failure, Guess whose fault that is? It's your freakin fault. You know, like, you can say, well, management never hired so and so. Nobody ever gave me time to do knowledge transfer this and that. But if your kid gets sick, and the CEO is looking for a demo from you, you know, it sucks, but it affects your reputation and tarnishes In a little bit, you know, and if you have if you're late for a deadline or something like that, it doesn't matter if your kid is sick, the CEO is, is accountable for the delivery of that project. So like, there's a lot to say about that. That's not fair. But the world isn't fair, you know, and something called the just-world theory, where people think there's true justice. But if there was true justice, like
this, this would not be the world we live in, you know.
So I guess like, there's so much to say about that kind of thing. You are accountable. No one is going to get you through your career. No one except for you. And if you're serious about your career, get serious about it. You know, like, even if you think you're serious, you're probably not serious, like, serious people don't even think about being serious. They just do it. No. And then that if things don't go their way they find excuses. They think of themselves as a victim, whatever it is. Whereas someone who's truly serious who's doing this out of like, a true mission for their life, or their career, they take accountability. And they're like, You know what? I dropped the ball. It was my ball, it was in my lap. I was supposed to hand it off, and I didn't. And there's no one else to blame. So it's not about blaming, it's about taking accountability. It's about being responsible. It's about realizing that there's always someone else who can fill your role, who can do a better job, who's going to be working harder, who's going to have better skills, all this stuff. You have to do the best you can. And if you aren't doing the best that you can, you're going to resort to excuses.

Chris Misterek
And I love the idea of being motivated from the mission within you know, like one of my favorite movies is this Cinderella man, which follows the life of James Braddock, a boxer who did really well early in his career, got injured and then was actually kicked out of boxing for a quite a long time. Then came back and became the championship, the champion of his weight division. And in the movie reporters asked him like, what's, what are you fighting for this time versus last time? And, and his response was, I'm fighting for milk because my family's going hungry, you know? And, in his mind, he had to do it like there was no, there was no I can fail at this, you know, like, if I if it doesn't work out, then I can, I've got a backup, you know, but that alone was enough to go, I'll do whatever it takes. I'll run more of all practice more. Right.

Anthony Garone
And I know people are gonna say, Yeah, but I have this circumstance. And yeah, I have that. And you know, this is unfair. Absolutely true. I agree with you, you have those things, and the world is unfair, that I just interviewed a guy. This week, the podcast episode comes out next week. And he told me that he sold 25,000 of his record. And I was like, wow, that's incredible. Like, those numbers, you don't really hear those numbers anymore. And he said, Yeah, but I sold them was like, What do you mean? He said I was on the streets for the last eight years, making eye contact, starting conversations, personally selling every copy of that CD. I said You must have spoken to what at least 75,000 people he goes, dude, I wish I had a three You know, one in three conversions. Like I couldn't even get one and three people to look at me. Much less talk to me and put ones on the listen to my CD. that's a person who wants it right. It was good. He quit as well. Time job, he recorded a CD, he was not going to give it out for free because he said, I'm not going to devalue my work. And the people who pay for it are actually going to listen to it. And he sold 25,000 of his. Right. So like, that's your competition. Like, I don't care if you agree with my book, I don't care if you like it. That's your competition. There are people out there who believe what I believe. That's your competition. And if they are shooting for the same job that you are, and they get it, maybe it's because they had something in that book, like read the book, because you like it, read the book, because you hate it. It doesn't really matter. What matters is your future, and you are the only one responsible for it. And if you start looking for other people to blame or other circumstances, you're not getting it and someone who's not blaming their circumstances is going to step in and take the opportunity from you. The world is competitive. There is any quality. It's just built into life. Anyone who be better I've talked about this in the book, if you become a better piano player, you've created any quality, right? This isn't about gender or bias or anything like that a better piano player practices. And someone who doesn't play the piano is a worse piano player than someone who does write, you know, someone who codes is a better coder than someone who doesn't. Someone who spends 100 hours, you know, a month coding is going to be better than someone who spends 10 hours a month coding. And it's the same thing with your career. If you're not practicing, if you're not getting serious about it, if you're not taking accountability for your own successes and failures, then you're going to believe life has to happen to you instead of you need to make your life happen. And there are enough people out there who believe they're going to make their lives and goals happen. That they are going to jump at the opportunity And when it before you get the chance,
yeah, and it takes something to get there.

Chris Misterek
You know, like I, for me, my motivation was like the Cinderella man, like, I actually don't have an option, I need to find a way to provide for my kids. So if I have to stay up all night and go crazy from sleep deprivation like I'm gonna do that, you know, so there's, there's the half to because you don't have an option. There's the aspirational, which is like you so clearly see a picture of the future, that you feel like you don't have an option, you know, like, you're like, no, I can get there. And then the third would be, you know, like, you're just so fed up that anything would be better than this, you know? And, and, and my encouragement is always let it be the aspiration or motivation before you get to the half, two or you're so fed up.

Anthony Garone
You know, I think even you misunderstand your own story, though. Your story is not about becoming a web designer. Your story is about overcoming momentum, the momentum of your entire life as a musician, as a guy who had a job as a guy who had a family who had a level you know of comfort, a set income, who had these requirements, and you overcame that and that's the Cinderella man story like it's Yes, there can be a half two Yes, there can be a want to but there is a reality. And people say well, why can't I lose weight? Well, why is my book not selling? Why is no one listening to my podcast? Why is no one looking at my code? And what it comes down to is asking yourself the question, what is preventing me from having the success that I want? And this comes out of a guy named appeal Gupta, who is just like This kind of mind-blowing, sort of Guru. You can find him on Twitter KPLG up TA, MD. He is a professional coach, he coaches athletes, he coaches, you know, CEOs and very high performing people. And it's true. Like, you have to ask yourself, what is preventing me from having what I want? People often say what happened that stopped me from getting what I want. Do you know what happened outside of me instead of how am I preventing myself from getting the thing that I want? And that's your story. You are the guy who said nothing is going to prevent me from getting to from being a web designer. Nothing, not illness, not divorce, not you know, obligations to my kids. Nothing is going to stop me from converting from this thing that my whole life led to this other thing that is brand new. It is extremely difficult to get out of the momentum of your past life into this new life. And like, I'm not trying to like, say your story is wrong, what I'm saying is like, there is something deeper to appreciate about becoming a self-made web designer. And that is really overcoming the momentum of decades of patterns of behavior, of the comfort of things that you believe that you needed, that you've learned that you didn't need anymore, you know, and I can't even imagine the insecurity you faced. Before you, you know, we're starting to make some money as a freelancer. And before you convert into a full-time developer, like, Can this really work? Is this really gonna happen? Like, what if I screw up? You know, like, the story is good that you have these relatable elements but again, the story is really overcoming decades of beliefs and allowing yourself the open-mindedness to do whatever it took to create the future that you wanted?

Chris Misterek
Well, I feel a lot better about myself right now as a result of this podcast.

Anthony Garone
Well, you know, in the part in my book, you know, I mentioned that people are always asking me, how do you get all this stuff done that you want to get done. And I've been thinking a lot about this, especially reading this computer groups a guy, and it's made me as this phrase came to mind today, stop learning and start doing and I think we can use like our insecurity or our ignorance as a crutch that stops us from doing something. And my wife and I have had years of debate about this, like entrepreneurship is really just going out to the world and saying, This is what I am now paying for it. You know, I have no you may have like, no relevant experience, but you know, if you take a course on plumbing I mentioned In my book as an example, if you take an online course on plumbing, or if you buy a van full of plumbing tools, which one makes you a plumber, neither of them going out and fixing pipes makes you a plumber. Doesn't matter if you have the knowledge, it doesn't matter if you have the tools. When you actually fix a toilet, when you fix a sink, when you stop a leak, then then you're a plumber. Having the tools is a virtue signal. You know, it's like, oh, look at me, and I'm a plumber. Like, if I have a video studio and I don't record videos, am I a video producer? Or am I just the guy who has a bunch of equipment? You know, I'm not a producer until I have videos that people are watching. So it's the same thing as being a self-made web designer. You're not a self-made web designer until you're actually designing web pages and building them and people are using them doesn't matter if you're getting paid or not. If you need the money then after the money, you will get the money, because it's a super in-demand field. But don't complain. If you're not getting the money and you're not asking for and don't give an excuse, like, Well, my laptop isn't good enough. Yeah, yeah, there's, you know, if you're truly serious about it, there are 100 ways you can make a webpage right now. You know, Amazon, if you go to their AWS stuff, they have their own ID built into their platform, you don't even need like you can develop a leading web application. On an iPhone, there's nothing stopping you from paying literally pennies per month on AWS or getting everything for free for a year. They have a one-year free tier, on AWS. And all you have to do is actually build like the whole world is available to you. But don't blame anything except for yourself if you're not actually building because we can't make you build and like I interviewed he's like he's selling his ebooks for $39. And people are like, dude, that's so expensive. And he goes, You know, I had someone write to me last week who lost 50 pounds reading my book. He didn't lose the pounds reading the book, he lost the pounds doing what's in the book, the value is in the content, not in the medium that you know, it's not in the PDF that he got, the value is in the content and what the person the what the reader did with that content. You know, that's where the value is. So you can blame you can sit around and say, I don't have a gym membership. I don't have the time. I don't have the energy. But really what it comes down to is you've got to do it.

Chris Misterek
Well, hey, I think that's a great place to end on. Anthony, can you just tell us where if somebody's looking for you where they might be able to find you?

Anthony:
Yeah, sure. So, my name is Anthony Garone. And you can just Google my name. I think I mean, I don't Google myself, but I think I'm one of the top results. Find me on LinkedIn. And then the book is called clueless at the work advice from a corporate tyrant. And you can go to clueless at the work.com. And again, that's the work clueless at the work.com. And you should get access to the podcast to the book. It's available in audiobook ebook and paperback. And I've got excerpts for free. I've got if you go to my LinkedIn, you'll see blog posts and stuff like that. So pretty easy to find. And then make word music.com is the other side of it. My creative outlet. Awesome. Thank you so much, Anthony.

Anthony Garone
Yeah, no problem.

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