Episode 3 - Randall Kanna

Ben is joined by Randall Kanna to discuss her personal life and career. We discuss why she chose not to pursue a CS degree, the fortitude it took to get in to tech as a woman, and how she's helping fellow engineers without CS degrees.

Ben is joined by Randall Kanna to discuss her personal life and career.  We discuss why she chose not to pursue a CS degree, the fortitude it took to get started in tech as a woman, and how she's paving the path for engineers without CS degrees.

Randall is a senior engineer and author.

Links - 

Transcript -
Ben:
Welcome to this episode of the More Than Code podcast. Today, we have Randall Kanna joining us today. I'm really excited to have you here, Randall. Thanks for joining us.

Randall:
Thank you. I'm so glad to be here.

Ben:
All right. So, let's start with kind of the beginning. Where did you grow up?

Randall:
Yeah, so I grew up in Sacramento, California, about two hours outside of the city in East Sacramento. My parents actually still live in that same area.

Ben:
Nice, and you're in San Francisco now?

Randall:
Yeah, I'm in the Bay Area. I just moved to Marin a little bit before COVID, so that was actually great timing because a little more space right now and have a lot of pets. So, they have a little bit more room.

Ben:
Nice. What pets do you have?

Randall:
I have a big German Shepherd and then I have two cats.

Ben:
Oh, that can't be easy on an apartment, right?

Randall:
Yeah. It was tough, and SF living when you have a shoe box and you're trying to raise an 80 pound dog.

Ben:
Nice.What actually took you to the Bay Area?

Randall:
So, a coding bootcamp. Kind of my dream was to work at Facebook or Google and that dream has changed, obviously, but I went to a coding boot camp about six years ago and kind of moved to the city, moved to a little bunk bed in Chinatown, which was a really crazy, fun experience. And I ended up just staying in the city for my first job after my bootcamp and kind of been around the area ever since.

Ben:
That's cool. How did you find the bootcamp experience? What's it? Was it worth it? Was it a good way to intro to the city? Because it seems kind of intimidating, right? The idea of moving to a new city for a new career for a bootcamp all at once.

Randall:
Oh, yeah, it was absolutely terrifying. I'm somewhat introverted, so going to a bootcamp like that was a terrifying experience. And in those days, it was like six years ago. I don't know if I can say in those days for six years ago, but six years ago, bootcamps were very different, very rigorous and difficult. So, some people compared it to getting a degree at an Ivy League school of how difficult it was. So, it was definitely a really rough experience. I was there for about three months, onsite almost every single day, except for some Sundays. So, overall it was difficult, but also a really fun experience, and I learned a lot and I got a job two weeks after the bootcamp. So, it really worked out for me.

Ben:
That's pretty great. Now, did the bootcamp place you, or did you find that job on your own?

Randall:
So, they actually had a career week where they spent a week going over your resume, interviewing skills, everything you can imagine of how to prepare you for a job. And because I went so in depth with working on my LinkedIn profile, that the company that eventually hired me reached out to me. But during that whole time, I was interviewing at multiple places, including Apple. So, I kind of had a lot of things in my back pocket, but I was really lucky that it worked out how it did at my first company.

Ben:
Cool. How are you liking San Fran? Do you plan to stay?

Randall:
Eh.

Ben:
[inaudible 00:03:32] San Fran. I mean the Bay Area. I guess, for those of us not there, we tend to think of it all as one thing, and I know it's actually two things.

Randall:
Oh, one big thing, really. I guess I'll have to get back to you if I leave the area in the next few years or not. I've already kind of moved out of the area, but yeah, right now I think it's a really great place to be if you can be in person at a company. And I think that's really fun and such an amazing experience, but with COVID right now, not the ideal place I would want to live.

Ben:
Do you think the COVID will cause this mass exodus from cities and San Francisco and the Bay Area, like all the articles are predicting?

Randall:
Yeah, I definitely think so. I think a lot of people our age right now are just naturally leaving, though, so I think that's also adding to it. I left right before COVID, and it was really good decision, but I know a ton of people leaving the city and my company right now, I just started a new job and they're giving up their lease in the city.

Ben:
Oh, wow. So, you're going full remote?

Randall:
Yeah. So, I just started actually this week, and I'll be permanently remote, but they're actually even just completely investing in remote work right now, which I really love.

Ben:
Interesting. Yeah. So, I moved to Boston for a job at Wayfair and then COVID happened. And when I took the job, we had discussed me going remote, because previous to this, I've had about a decade of full remote experience and COVID just kind of accelerated that timeline. So, that's why I'm now back down south in Georgia and going full remote for Wayfair now.

Randall:
Oh, that's awesome. I love Wayfair.

Ben:
Definitely interesting times.

Randall:
Yeah. Yeah. I love how companies are a little more open right now with remote.

Ben:
Yeah. Do you see yourself staying in the area and working remote? Would you prefer to stay remote, or is it too early to tell for you if you want to go back into the office?

Randall:
Yeah. I think it's too early to tell. I'll have to see how it plays out. It's hard to continue paying expensive Bay Area rent when you can't go anywhere, can't see anyone, can't take advantage of all the great things that the Bay Area offers.

Ben:
Yeah. That's got to be pretty painful. I know it was painful in Boston. That's nothing to the Bay Area.

Randall:
Yeah. Very expensive here. They say rent's dropping in the city though, substantially, but I have yet to see it.

Ben:
Interesting. So, your family, are they all back in Sacramento, or where are they spread out?

Randall:
They're a lot in Sacramento. My sister Madison is actually an engineer as well, and her company is remote right now, but they weren't in the past. It's called Keeper Security, so she's living in Sacramento and then my parents are in East Sacramento.

Ben:
Cool. How did they like you being away?

Randall:
They don't love it. Yeah. They miss me a lot. I was homeschooled my whole life, so very close knit family.

Ben:
Interesting. I was homeschooled with my whole life as well.

Randall:
Wow. That's so rare.

Ben:
[crosstalk 00:06:39] Yeah.

Randall:
Well, my mom actually co-founded homeschool.com, so I pretty much extensively used her curriculum.

Ben:
That's got to be the worst, actually.

Randall:
Yeah, it's difficult when your mom literally wrote the book on it.

Ben:
Okay. So, this leads me to new questions. Are you a fan of homeschooling? If you had kids, would you choose to homeschool?

Randall:
Oh, my gosh. That's a good question. What would you do?

Ben:
I would not, actually.

Randall:
Wow.

Ben:
So, I found the experience good academically, but very poor socially. And so, until I was probably about 15, I struggled socially, especially with peers, and then it was definitely a learning process after that for me.

Randall:
Yeah. I can feel you. I definitely understand that. I was homeschooled and then at 16, I graduated and started going to community college classes, because that's really all you can do when you're 16. And it was really rough experience, suddenly being thrown in with a bunch of people in classrooms, very anxiety inducing. And I also did not have a ton of social skills. I like to think I've slightly improved since then, but it was very difficult.

Ben:
I can relate. All right. We'll move on. Are you a Star Wars person or a Star Trek person?

Randall:
Oh, that's a great question, but it's always going to be Star Trek Voyager for me. Huge fan.

Ben:
Nice. All right. Let's delve into a little bit on your background. So, you got into tech via bootcamp, but what originally drew you to tech and to that bootcamp?

Randall:
Yeah, so I started doing HTML and CSS when I was 12, and I loved it. I was on neopets.com and I was selling websites and I was building Pirates of the Caribbean fan guilds every week. And I thought it was amazing. But then when I got to college, I had a college counselor that gave me a little come to Jesus, if you could say in that phrasing, that basically the school was very impacted and it would take me six to eight years to graduate, and there was also no women in the program. So ,it would be a very jarring experience and I was basically told to not even pursue that avenue. And so, I foolishly took that advice and did not graduate in computer science. And then, after college I had a communications degree, and it was basically useless at that point for me because I couldn't get an interview. The market was so saturated in the Bay Area for hiring at that time, even for engineers.. It was very saturated. A lot of bootcamps were getting people out there and hiring really quickly. So, eventually, I found out about coding bootcamps actually from my aunt, and it was just such an amazing thing. She sent me an article about it and what a success it had been and kind of just all escalated from there.

Ben:
Well, I'm really sorry to hear that. That's a bad intro to tech, right?

Randall:
Yeah. For years, I just didn't even think about it again. I was like, "Yeah, I guess women don't really do that," which is crazy talk now because everything's so much better than it was six years ago.

Ben:
Yeah. Wow. At least you got in, I guess. Just an alternative path.

Randall:
Yeah, that's true. I'm really happy how everything worked out. I can't imagine what my life would have been. I was applying to companies right out of college, and I wasn't getting any call backs. And I'd interned. I had taken a gap year. I had worked in multiple political campaigns, so I didn't have a lack of work experience. I just could not get a job.

Ben:
Oh, wow. So, if you were to give a niece or nephew advice on CS theory or boot camp or some other path, what would be your advice there? Right? Because you'd kind of become the, "You don't need a CS degree," spokesperson in a lot of ways on Twitter.

Randall:
Oh, gosh. I didn't know that.

Ben:
What would actually your advice there be?

Randall:
I think if you can get a CS degree, get one. I mean, going back, I should have been bullheaded and I should have got one, and it would have been so much easier. And some people, you have to have a CS degree to get into tech, and that's unfortunate and hopefully that changes, but it's a reality. But if you've already graduated, you can still make it in tech without a degree. And my sister, actually, she didn't even go to a bootcamp. She started teaching herself and reaching out to companies and got a job.

Ben:
Cool. All right. What is your current working setup? So, I'm asking this in the context of COVID, but I guess for you, it's also the context of remote working. So, how are you working these days?

Randall:
Let's see. Lots of Pomodoros. I'm setting a lot of those these days. I have a pretty nice... I just got a fully standing desk, and they are fantastic. I love them. So, I have my little monitor arm and everything. So, it's going pretty well, but it's definitely a little distracting working in this environment with COVID. it's definitely hard to focus, So the Pomodoros come in handy right now.

Ben:
That's a good trick. I used to use an app that would Pomodoro, and then it would actually block most websites while you're in focus time.

Randall:
That's great. Oh, I love that. I was looking at this. It's a prison for your cell phone. It's a little jail cell, and it has a lock and you can put your phone in that, and I've been seriously considering buying it.

Ben:
That's great. So, with the focus trouble, how are you finding the work life balance? Right? Are you trying to still work certain hours throughout the day? Are you kind of stretching your day out, or what's that look like for you?

Randall:
Oh, definitely. I think that is so important if you just stop working after a certain time. It's 6:18 PM right now. I stopped hard stop at 6:00 PM of my job, and start at nine. Generally stop at six. Fairly new work schedule. With my last work schedule, it was 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM. So, that was rough, but I definitely think it's important to just shut down your computer and then one day a week going no screen time whatsoever, which has been so helpful in actually relaxing.

Ben:
That's brave, actually, no screen time for a day.

Randall:
Well, there's definitely occurrences where I can't make it the whole day shamefully, but at least I don't open my laptop.

Ben:
All right. Yeah. That's fair. So, growing up, did you play sports or what were your hobbies? What did you enjoy?

Randall:
A lot of computer time, but I also played soccer, softball, swimming, basketball, a lot of different sports. My family was very athletic. A lot of instruments, which I unfortunately no longer play, but most of the time I spent, like most of my time, now I spent it with my dog.

Ben:
Awesome. All right. Do you continue with any of the sports now?

Randall:
No. Unfortunately with COVID, it's just too hard to... Obviously, I'm not going to go meet with a soccer team or anything like that.

Ben:
Yeah, fair. What jobs did you have before tech?

Randall:
Yeah, before tech, I was working in marketing and also a few political campaigns, which was such an amazing experience. But in marketing, it was definitely rough and it wasn't what I wanted to do longterm, but I also learned a lot. So, that was amazing.

Ben:
Working on a campaign seems pretty interesting to me. It's always been like, a one day maybe bucket list, right?

Randall:
Yeah. It was really fascinating. I started out as an intern and they hired me full time. So, I dropped out of college. Well, I didn't drop out. I took a gap year and I started working there full time and it was fantastic. And I actually learned a lot about coding, because there was some really amazing engineers there at the time. So, it was really kind of helpful and kind of forgot all that and then tried to get into tech again, remembered some of it. So, it was helpful, but a really great experience overall.

Ben:
Are you an iPhone or an Android person?

Randall:
iPhone all the way.

Ben:
Cool. Same here. What inspired you to write a book? Or I guess now multiple books, and was it worth the time investment?

Randall:
Oh, yes, it was definitely worth it. So, my first book was with O'Reilly Publishing and I came in to help two other co-authors finish up the book and that was significant. That was months and months of work and meeting with the publisher every week. We wrote just a crazy amount in about under six months last year, so it was 2019. And that was definitely worth it because I started getting a lot of opportunities because of that. And once you have an O'Reilly book, the amount of credibility that provides is just staggering. So, that was just an amazing experience, and I learned a lot about writing too. And now with my second book, even though it's self published, I'm still getting a ton of opportunities just from that. I have companies reaching out about being the head of engineering, which blows my mind, or the CTO, which is insane. And just so many more speaking opportunities, podcasts like this, just so many great experiences because of that. So, I just can't recommend it enough.

Ben:
You see the real value there, the kind of ancillary opportunities that come from the credentialing with writing a book, or do you see it as a financial gain, or kind of a mix of both?

Randall:
Well, yeah, so publishing with a traditional publisher is not lucrative whatsoever at all, but I definitely think for me it was just about providing value to other people. And I had so many people ask for that, the second book that I wrote, but that was just... I mean, I cry every time I get a message or an email from someone that's like, "Hey, I used your book and I got a job," and that happens several times a week now. So, that's the greatest feeling on the planet, and the best that I have ever felt in my life when I get one of those messages.

Ben:
That's got to be super rewarding.

Randall:
Yeah, it makes...

Ben:
What's your career trajectory or your career goals? Right? So, what's next for you? You're a senior software engineer now. You're now getting offers to be CTO. Is that your next path, or what's next on your path?

Randall:
I'm actually not sure. I wish that I knew. I've been actually thinking about this a lot lately. I think I'm really invested in helping more people. So, a few months ago, I did free resume reviews, which I got hundreds every week, which was amazing, but cannot do that again because I had no life for about six weeks, because that's all I was doing at night and weekends. So, I definitely want to find other avenues to help people get jobs in tech, just because I was there and had some very demoralizing interviews and jobs and experiences in tech. So, definitely want to just continue helping people as much as I can, but job wise, just learning as much as I can constantly.

Ben:
And do you see that as that's maybe turning into your own thing, where you're just doing books and education? Or you see this as you want to kind of move up the enterprise tech ladder? Do you have a preference there yet?

Randall:
You know, I'm not sure. I love coding, so I couldn't see myself ever giving that fully up, but at one point, if becoming a content creator became a full time thing, that would just be incredible to me. It's just so fulfilling and it just feels amazing to help people like that.

Ben:
I definitely see the results of that, right? Just your Twitter. I've seen dozens of people that are helped by that.

Randall:
Oh, thank you. Yeah. Twitter was blew up for me this year. I had a couple hundred followers last year, and then this year, suddenly getting 8,000 to 10,000 a month, which blows my mind.

Ben:
Actually on that, is the experience of being on Twitter, using Twitter better or worse with more followers?

Randall:
Oh, it is so much worse. There's the good and the bad. I'm helping a lot more people and I can see that and feel that, which is amazing, but there's just so many messages of, "You're a blonde bimbo. You don't know how to code. You don't deserve a senior engineering title." Not just from trolls, even from big Twitter accounts that you just wouldn't think would do that. They suddenly are subtweeting you because they are upset you got a lot of followers or whatever. So, that's been hard to deal with for sure. That's kind of the massive downside.

Ben:
That's sad to hear. How do you approach dealing with that? Or how do you respond to that?

Randall:
I just really learned to just ignore it. I don't even... I'm really working on just not even getting upset anymore. It's not my thing. I can see the results that I'm helping people. So, if other people are upset with that, that's kind of their problem. So, it's definitely difficult though, because it doesn't feel great to suddenly have a big target on your back when you've already been a woman in tech for five plus years with a target on your back.

Ben:
I bet. I would imagine too, with imposter syndrome, as much of a thing for you, that's going to really kind of trigger that.

Randall:
Yeah. I've definitely struggled a lot. I personally think everyone does struggle with imposter syndrome, but definitely for myself as well. Not having a degree has always been difficult.

Ben:
Yeah, it's tough. So, how has the change in the world, COVID, how has that affected and or fucked with your life so far?

Randall:
Yeah, it's been very difficult for sure in some personal ways, but I do have to say I had a lot of time this year to work on the book. So, it got out a lot sooner than I would have ever possibly thought because I had pretty much nothing else to do. So, I'm trying to look at as some things are positive out of this, out of many negative things and a lot of things, horrible things going on in the world that are very upsetting. So, I try to hold onto that one positive thing.

Ben:
It's very positive. I'm impressed you've been able to focus it into productivity. I think the only productive thing I've done outside of work really is probably this podcast this year.

Randall:
Well, that's a lot of work in itself, but yeah, it's definitely hard. There's some days where I'm not getting anything done, but my regular job, if I can even do that. So, the book was definitely a hard push, so I have those days as well. I just want to lay in bed and watch TV.

Ben:
Yeah. What is your favorite thing that you've ever worked on?

Randall:
Product wise or book-wise?

Ben:
Both.

Randall:
So, I'm going to be biased that my second book is my favorite book, even though my first book with O'Reilly was way more fun, because I had a co-writer, co-author. But the second book, I think, a lot more satisfaction out of that, but code-wise, I think the most fun thing that I've ever shipped came out... Well, it's a tie. So, I worked at a ticketing company once and we built a really cool entry management system for concerts and venues and we got to go to shows and test it out. So, that was pretty fantastic. I don't know if that can be beat, but this year I was working at a small startup and we worked on this really cool app that basically helps executive assistants do better at their jobs. So, it helps them communicate better with their executives and helps them do this really cool thing we call decision stream that sends them questions and they can quickly get an answer back from their executive, which was really awesome.

Ben:
Okay, so that's your favorite thing. What is the riskiest thing you've ever launched?

Randall:
The riskiest thing? Oh, probably it was still the entry management system, because we were planning to use it actually at Burning Man. And so, it was the entry management system at Burning Man for several years, so that was absolutely terrifying. And that was back when I had, I think, a year and a half of experience if that, and the senior engineer on the project had just left the company. So, I was the only iOS engineer on the team for a significant amount of time, which was terrifying. Eventually, someone else did join and everything went really well, but it was definitely a lot of pressure really quickly, but it's kind of why I'm an advocate for pressure makes you learn so much faster and diving into the unknown just accelerates everything in your career.

Ben:
That's awesome. I imagine the constraints and logistics of that had to be pretty interesting.

Randall:
Yeah, it was definitely a very tough time in my life, but I think it's another reason why I was promoted to senior engineer so quickly, because kind of... I had that experience that forced me to become that type of engineer really quickly. So, it was really beneficial, but also really challenging. And I definitely cried a lot in the bathroom. I was dealing with imposter syndrome back then significantly.

Ben:
Well, you got through it. Referencing your other book, are you still involved with the blockchain and or smart contracts, or where's your stance on that now?

Randall:
I'm not anymore. I kind of realized that my true love was JavaScript. So, I kind of extracted myself from the blockchain world a little bit. I think the tech is really awesome, but JavaScript is where it's at for me.

Ben:
You don't want to do JavaScript on the blockchain?

Randall:
So, I actually had some really cool things that happened because I did a blockchain and React and Truffle and everything like that, but nothing's as good as React and Node, in my opinion.

Ben:
What is it, Atwood's Law? Anything that can be written in JavaScript will eventually be written in JavaScript.

Randall:
I love that. That's awesome.

Ben:
All right. So, what are you struggling with right now, personally, professionally? Both?

Randall:
Yeah, so definitely starting a new job during COVID and not being able to meet my coworkers in person. That's a professional struggle that I'm really dealing with and learning a new code base in kind of this overwhelming time. Definitely really, really rough and definitely a lot of imposter syndrome. So, I'm there for everyone that's like, "Oh, senior engineers don't get imposter syndrome." I've been an engineer for five plus years now and I still have it all the time. I have it this week, significantly, learning Rails and kind of teaching myself Rails in the last few days. Exciting, but also that's been difficult.

Ben:
Yeah. What's your day to day like right now, especially with the onboarding to the remote job?

Randall:
Yeah, so I'm waking up pretty early and I'm trying to work on more content creation, more free videos, working on lots of free projects for people to learn how to code or get job. So, that's kind of my morning, and then start my day to day learning a whole new code base at a really exciting company, so that's really awesome. And then after that, just trying to survive not seeing friends, not being able to go anywhere. I just really miss going into a Starbucks and working at a Starbucks. I just... Oh, it just sounds so fabulous, like the little simple thing.s I'm totally going to love that when that happens again.

Ben:
Yeah. I'm sure you've heard it, right, but right now is not normal remote working. Now is very different things, so I'm sure you'll enjoy it more once the world is back on.

Randall:
Yeah, and I'm so tired of seeing on Twitter and social media like, "Oh, remote work is terrible. I hate it." It's like, no. Actual remote work is going to be... It's so fabulous. I've been working remote I think for about two years now, and it's just amazing. You get work done early, because you're more productive and then you have the whole rest of your day is free, and then you don't have to commute night or morning. So, you have that added time as well. I've never been more productive or learned as much until I went remote. Working [inaudible 00:26:49], you're sick every month there because there's always some virus that's not COVID going around at tech companies and the open offices. So, you're dealing with that, and then you want to go out with your coworkers and have fun. So, that's kind of a deterrent for being productive, and people are talking right behind you. I'm a huge fan of remote work.

Ben:
So, it sounds like you're doing a lot. Right? So, you're getting up early. You're working on your own stuff, and you're doing the job. Are you concerned about burnout, or how do you feel like you're managing that now?

Randall:
Yeah, I think I've always felt a little bit of burnout, because I think I have always had imposter syndrome and always feeling like I need to do better and I don't do enough. And it's been interesting being on Twitter and having a larger audience, because so many people are like, "Wow, you just do so much. How do you do it all?" And that's something that's asked constantly by people on Twitter and social media. So, that has been a really positive thing, that realizing... It's like, "Okay, maybe I am doing enough, and maybe I have been doing enough," but it's definitely a concern. Last year, I had like two months off where I was not working. I did absolutely nothing every day, and that kind of recharged me, I think, for maybe years to come. But definitely right now with COVID, feeling the struggle.

Ben:
Yeah. No, two months off. I don't think I've ever had that. I'm jealous.

Randall:
I know. I actually had not had two months off since I think college, maybe in the summer.

Ben:
What is your favorite drink? It could be alcoholic, nonalcoholic.

Randall:
Oh, if I say it, everyone's going to laugh at me on this podcast. I love Shirley Temples. Have you ever had a Shirley Temple?

Ben:
I have, yeah.

Randall:
Oh, I love them so much.

Ben:
good choice. I haven't had one in years, but yeah, good choice.

Randall:
Yeah. Nonalcoholic. I hate when a bartender adds alcohol to it.

Ben:
It's in the name!

Randall:
I mean, it's just so much better plain. Just so much better plain.

Ben:
Nice. What do you do right... Well, maybe not right now, maybe right now, but what are you doing for fun away from the computer? What are your current hobbies?

Randall:
Not enough, but a lot of hiking right now, because I just got a puppy. She's a little over a year old. And so, she's finally at the age where we can go on hikes, so I spend most of my time with her. That's actually my neighbor's dog barking in the background, if you can hear that, that I'm also babysitting right now. Their house flooded, so he's over at my house. But yeah, a lot of time outside right now to combat the screen. I'm really staring at my screen way too much every day, because every meeting now is over zoom. And I think people try to compensate with more meetings when you're remote in some ways. So, that's been really difficult deal with, staring at the screen. I don't know if you can see all my books behind me, but I'm also a big reader. So, I'm reading right now Zero to Sold, which is an amazing book everyone's been talking about it. So, it's my new favorite. Fantastic from an indie hacker.

Ben:
Who is that by? Do you know?

Randall:
Yeah. So, I do know. I'll have to send you a link so you can post his book actually later, because he's awesome. He's all over Twitter, but I'll shoot you the link of the book.

Ben:
Cool. Yeah, that sounds interesting. All right. So, this question is what is your production function? So, the idea behind this is what is the thing that makes you so driven to accomplish what you have or makes your work uniquely yours? So, what's the underlying motivations behind that?

Randall:
Wow. That's a really good question. Pass. No, I'm just kidding.

Ben:
That's my main one. Nooooo!

Randall:
That's a great question. Gosh, I think just that I feel, not having a CS degree, that it's never enough, that every accomplishment, even having a book with O'Reilly, just was not enough. And so, I'm always trying to do more and more, and I hate it because at some point, you should just be happy with what you have, but it's really important to me to be really financially secure and help out my family as they get older and keep producing content as much as I can, because that's just really rewarding. But I think for me, it's just all about that I never feel like I'm good enough, I guess, to be an engineer. So, I always try to do more and more and more, writing books and speaking at conferences and putting myself out there as much as possible to kind of combat that.

Ben:
Do you have any idea in your head of a milestone that you would accept for yourself, as now this is enough or now I've made it and I can chill or coast a little bit more?

Randall:
Gosh, I don't know if I'd ever be happy doing that. I think even having the two months off last year, I was just very... It was really relaxing, but I was also like, "Oh my gosh, I need a purpose again." So, I don't know if that'll ever happen. Hopefully, maybe in 10 years or so, I'll see where I'm at and I'll be satisfied with everything. But I think if you're not pushing yourself to improve, it feels very demoralizing at some point. You just feel like you're coasting.

Ben:
Yeah. I can understand. With COVID even, right? It's like, there's not much to do most nights. I don't feel like doing much anymore. You know?

Randall:
Yeah.

Ben:
So, it's like when you're busier, you're actually more productive in less time, just because you're more motivated. It's easier to keep up that momentum.

Randall:
Yeah. I think it's a good way to keep a good head space through COVID for me. It's been trying to... I don't want to say ignore the craziness in the world, because that is absolutely impossible to ignore everything that's going on, but try to at get one good thing that has come out of this, which was my book and hopefully now something else.

Ben:
What is the next personal accomplishment for you? Is it, like you said, you're working on a course or what is it?

Randall:
Yeah, so I had a lot of people reach out to me when I started doing free resume reviews, just hundreds and hundreds of people every week. And like I said, that was a really intense experience, but I just realized that so many engineers don't know how to write a resume that gets results, which I completely understand. I was in that position. So, that's kind of the next big thing I'm working on and I'll have to see where I go after that.

Ben:
Cool. It seems like you started looking for a job and you had a job pretty much immediately [inaudible 00:33:25] Is that how it works for you internally? Or is that just the external perception?

Randall:
Yeah, so definitely just the external perception. I spent about eight or nine months teaching myself how to code first and really, really struggling and still not feeling good enough, and the bootcamp came way at the end. So, by the time I wanted to get a job to the time I got a job, over a year had went by at that point. And so, it was a very involved process, but everyone kind of likes to focus on the, "Oh, two weeks after a bootcamp, you had a job. The bootcamp did it for you." And I'm like, no. It's a lot of work, and it was a year to get a job with no CS degree. That's great. Some people do it a lot quicker, which is amazing. Some people takes a little bit longer, but I think I'm a little bit in the average time there.

Ben:
Yeah. That's good. I think it's good for people to know that too. Right?

Randall:
Yeah.

Ben:
It might look like an overnight success from your perspective or from theirs. Right? But it never is. It's always a lot of hard work.

Randall:
Yeah. I really like to drill that into people when they're like, "Oh, wow. It worked out for you, and it was so easy." And it's like, yes, in some ways I had a lot of luck being born in California and being a woman and getting a dev job. That definitely helped a lot to get my first step job. Absolutely, but it also required a lot of hard work and dealing with a lot of imposter syndrome.

Ben:
Well, great job. You're helping a lot of people.

Randall:
Thank you.

Ben:
Are there any games, video games, board games, anything you playing recently?

Randall:
Yes. My boyfriend has a simulation of this car racing game that we've been playing that has the actual really nice wheel and real racers play it. Of course, I can't remember the name right now, but we're doing that, so we're debating getting one, getting another set up and doing it side by side. And then a lot of Mario Party shamefully. Really into Mario Party lately. It's just so much fun.

Ben:
Nothing to be ashamed about. Books. You're a big reader. Do you mainly do fiction, nonfiction, both?

Randall:
Oh, gosh. I actually haven't read a fiction book in years and I feel horrible about that. I am all about nonfiction. I'm all about improving your life. I actually just read David Goggins' book, Can't Hurt Me, and it was just incredible. He had such a difficult life and he dealt with so many things, and the book changed my life because I've decided to push myself 30% harder, like he says in the book. And I did that in a run the other day, and I thought 30% sicker afterwards, but I also ran 30% longer, so it worked out. But yeah, I'm an avid reader. I think I'd read all day if I could.

Ben:
That's a pretty good pitch for that book though. Make sure to send me that link as well.

Randall:
Yeah, I will. It's a fantastic book. He actually went through the Navy SEAL training three times, because he had an injury multiple times and he's just dealt with so much in his life and so much abuse and hardships and racism, and just reading his story is so inspirational and it's so much better than... I hate reading those stories of someone like Elon Musk or anyone like that. It was not as difficult for them, and reading this kind of story where someone had... It's so much harder than most people do and much harder than I ever did. I can't even imagine what he's been through.

Ben:
I'll definitely check it out.

Randall:
Yeah.

Ben:
What podcasts are you listening to recently?

Randall:
So, I listened to some of... A lot of indie hacker podcasts lately. I've been really into that, and I've actually started listening to a lot of the podcasts that I've been on, because it's introduced me to so many more amazing podcasts, like Entrepreneur... Of course, I'm not going to be able to say it. Entrepreneurial Code Podcast. That's been a big one for me lately. I find it really interesting. And then, I've been listening to a lot of Jose's interviews with Daniel because I think they're both really interesting people that have worked really hard and I really appreciate Daniel Vassello's story. I have Twitter notifications on for him, actually, because everything. He's just such an interesting person. He has such a great experience of content creation and working at Amazon and creating his AWS book. I'm just fascinated by it. Yeah.

Ben:
I really enjoyed following him on Twitter as well. I'll put a link to his Twitter for those listening. So, that is all I have. Thank you so much for being on the podcast, Randall. I really appreciate your time tonight.

Randall:
Thank you for having me, Ben. That was awesome.


2020 Ben Edmunds