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S1 E5: Instead of Using Fire, I Use Ice (Michael / @mtliendo)
Episode 527th June 2022 • WebJoy • Eddie Hinkle
00:00:00 00:16:37

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

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

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Previously on WebJoy

Transcripts

Eddie:

Previously on WebJoy.

Jason:

for me, it's fun.

Jason:

It turns it into a puzzle.

Jason:

And so failure is just information.

Jason:

All failure is temporary.

Jason:

Now it's part of the learning loop.

Jason:

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

Jason:

make a better informed decision next time.

Jason:

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

Jason:

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

Jason:

Like failure is not an option.

Jason:

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

Jason:

now failure is like part of it.

Jason:

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

Jason:

differently so that we can get to the win.

Eddie:

Embrace failure as a catalyst for learning.

Eddie:

I love that.

Eddie:

Welcome to Episode 5 of the WebJoy podcast.

Michael:

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

Michael:

like, you start off with level zero.

Michael:

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

Michael:

fighting dragons all this stuff.

Michael:

Like that's how I see myself.

Michael:

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

Michael:

how to do an if statement.

Michael:

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

Michael:

Like you said, I had my save point.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Eddie:

I'm your host Eddie.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

I hope you enjoy today's episode.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

Welcome back to another episode of WebJoy!

Eddie:

I'm excited to have Michael joining us today.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

know, a brief introduction, if you will.

Michael:

Yeah, they thanks for having me.

Michael:

It's great to be here.

Michael:

My name is Michael Liendo.

Michael:

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

Michael:

work on the Amplify team.

Michael:

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

Michael:

We have a suite of tools that really help folks.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Eddie:

Nice.

Eddie:

That's awesome.

Eddie:

Well, that probably keeps you pretty busy.

Michael:

Yeah, for sure.

Michael:

for sure.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

How did you get involved in tech?

Eddie:

Did you start as a developer advocate?

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

What does that journey look like for you.

Michael:

Oh, geez.

Michael:

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

Michael:

I was advocating for clothing products.

Michael:

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

Eddie:

wow

Michael:

Yeah.

Michael:

Yes.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

cool new product it's called an iPhone.

Michael:

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

Michael:

another one called Angry Birds.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

through a whole bunch of failing.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Eddie:

You were doing modeling before you shifted into tech

Eddie:

and went into programming.

Eddie:

Now advocating for good technology and helping people understand

Eddie:

how to use that technology.

Eddie:

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

Michael:

I understood early on as I was transitioning from modeling to

Michael:

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

Michael:

I to be out there in the community.

Michael:

I have to be engaging with folks.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

and speak with these folks?"

Michael:

I love it.

Eddie:

I can understand that.

Eddie:

Definitely.

Eddie:

A lot of programmers are introverted.

Eddie:

I'm introverted.

Eddie:

myself.

Eddie:

So yeah, definitely.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

So that's cool.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

something that brings you joy.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

and your iPhone learning journey.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Michael:

For sure.

Michael:

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

Michael:

one is just learning in general.

Michael:

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

Michael:

sorts where it's like, going to Excel.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

it really does feel like a superpower.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

is a light where you come out victorious

Michael:

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

Michael:

like, you start off with level zero.

Michael:

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

Michael:

fighting dragons all this stuff.

Michael:

Like that's how I see myself.

Michael:

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

Michael:

folks could take it on as that way.

Michael:

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

Michael:

which is typically not very good.

Eddie:

That makes sense for sure.

Eddie:

Well, and it's funny, right?

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

you run into an enemy who kills you.

Eddie:

And you're back to the save point.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

on the journey and that's okay.

Eddie:

Right.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

Option.

Eddie:

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

Michael:

Yeah.

Michael:

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

Michael:

I wanted to be an iPhone developer.

Michael:

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

Michael:

stuff, it was brand new to me.

Michael:

It was a brand new language.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

Like you said, I had my save point.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Eddie:

I think that's really encouraging to hear.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

failure, really isolating.

Eddie:

You don't want to tell anyone about it.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

kind of like a dirty secret.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

announce when they have a failure.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

people to know it's okay.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

point to launch a different strategy.

Eddie:

I think that's cool.

Eddie:

Right?

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

run, which is really interesting.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Eddie:

Well, that's brilliant.

Eddie:

Right?

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

I think that's awesome.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

that you work on this Focus Otter.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

Right.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

business or different stuff like that.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Michael:

Yeah, absolutely.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

to advocate in the community.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

I wanna give you the secret sauce.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

somebody else handle that for you.

Michael:

Like, get your Shopify account set up.

Michael:

And those are the things that save time.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

you can really get that ball going.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

where I have to enter my baking details.

Michael:

stuff is scary for people outside of tech having information that

Michael:

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

Michael:

And that's what I'm all about.

Eddie:

I love that.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

going and keep it working correctly.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

URL and they're going to handle it.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

these individuals and make a small profit.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

Like, you know, here it is.

Michael:

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

Michael:

record myself making a video of it.

Michael:

And then I'll give that to folks.

Michael:

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

Michael:

Well, okay.

Michael:

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

Michael:

You can check it.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Eddie:

I love that.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

that a little bit more precisely.

Eddie:

I think that's awesome.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

have anything you'd like to share?

Michael:

Yeah, I have my own channels.

Michael:

I have my own blogs in, in YouTube.

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

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

Michael:

product line, Coding Crystals.

Michael:

You can check it out over at CodingCrystals.com.

Michael:

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

Michael:

for Developer Advocates.

Michael:

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

Michael:

But it's amazing.

Michael:

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

Michael:

underrepresented individuals, I love it.

Michael:

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

Eddie:

Awesome.

Eddie:

That's great.

Eddie:

Michael, thank you for joining us today.

Eddie:

It's been a pleasure to chat.

Michael:

Always great.

Michael:

Always great.

Michael:

Thanks for having me.

Michael:

This has been amazing and until next time.

Eddie:

Thanks for joining us for Episode 5.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

If you enjoyed this episode, please consider rating and reviewing

Eddie:

it in your favorite podcast directory: iTunes, Spotify.

Eddie:

etc.

Eddie:

and follow us on Twitter @WebJoyFM.

Eddie:

Thank you for listening and have a great day!

Eddie:

Next episode on WebJoy.

Kelly:

Ultimately I really loved UI I loved just everything about the

Kelly:

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

Kelly:

um, normal or what, but I was obsessed.

Kelly:

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

Kelly:

feels very AI and very obvious.

Kelly:

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

Kelly:

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

Kelly:

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

Kelly:

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

Kelly:

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