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S1 E11: The Rejections are Flowing In (Kathryn / @kathryngrayson)
Episode 1126th July 2022 • WebJoy • Eddie Hinkle
00:00:00 00:20:21

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Kathryn Grayson Nanz joins the show to talk about her origin story, how she got started in graphic design and after being pulled into the front-end developer life had a surprise turn and became a developer advocate.

We discuss her joy for conferences, the differences between online and in-person conferences as well as what it's like to face rejection and some tips for getting out there and trying it out yourself!

Transcripts

Eddie:

Welcome to Episode 11 of the WebJoy podcast.

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:

"The Rejections are Flowing In" with Kathryn Grayson Nanz.

Eddie:

Hey, Kathryn.

Eddie:

Thanks for joining us today.

Eddie:

I am very excited to have you on, particularly, there's been a lot of

Eddie:

different people on the podcast, but you're the first person that- okay.

Eddie:

I don't actually know in real life, cuz we've never actually met real

Eddie:

life, but we have been had meetings.

Kathryn:

Yeah.

Eddie:

I know.

Eddie:

It feels like I know you in person, even though I don't.

Kathryn:

I mean, we worked together for over a year, something like that, about a

Kathryn:

year and yeah, it just so happened to be right at the beginning at the height of

Kathryn:

the pandemic when no one was traveling.

Kathryn:

And so there were no in person work meetings or work retreats or anything.

Kathryn:

It's such a strange thought that yeah we never have actually been in the same room.

Eddie:

Yeah.

Eddie:

Yeah, exactly.

Eddie:

we had one person come on the team, right before you, that literally

Eddie:

was right as the pandemic hit.

Eddie:

And so they were the first person to not actually fly out and

Eddie:

meet me and go to the office.

Eddie:

And then you were the second.

Eddie:

So yeah, it was sad.

Eddie:

Yeah.

Eddie:

Well that's okay.

Kathryn:

I feel certain that at some point our paths will

Kathryn:

cross . I'm not too worried.

Eddie:

No, that is for sure.

Eddie:

Yeah, so we worked together at ThreatConnect and got to enjoy working

Eddie:

with each other and chatting, I know you, but all of our wonderful audience

Eddie:

doesn't so how about you let them know who you are, what you do, where you

Eddie:

work, you know, just a brief intro.

Kathryn:

Yeah, absolutely.

Kathryn:

My name is Kathryn Grayson Nanz.

Kathryn:

I am now the developer relations person for Kendo React at Progress.

Kathryn:

I'm a front-end engineer, UI designer, dabbled in a little bit of all of

Kathryn:

that kind of front-end-y stuff before moving over into dev rel and dev

Kathryn:

advocacy been really happy doing that.

Eddie:

Awesome.

Eddie:

Let's see a short version of how you got involved in tech.

Eddie:

Cause you've done a lot of movement.

Kathryn:

I wandered around.

Kathryn:

Yeah.

Kathryn:

it was a journey.

Kathryn:

Yeah.

Eddie:

Tell us what your journey's been like.

Kathryn:

Yeah.

Kathryn:

I actually started off thinking that I was going to be working in graphic design.

Kathryn:

That was what I went to school for.

Kathryn:

Got a fine arts degree.

Kathryn:

And in a couple years after that, working for Ad Agencies, mostly kind of bopping

Kathryn:

around and then it was becoming more and more common for graphic designers to

Kathryn:

also be expected to do some web design.

Kathryn:

It was one of those things where I feel like it was right on the cusp for it.

Kathryn:

I had to take like one class in web design to graduate and it was very much

Kathryn:

done begrudgingly by my professors.

Kathryn:

You know, like they say, we have to teach you this now, but

Kathryn:

like whatever kind of thing.

Kathryn:

But then working, it was like, oh, this is actually a lot of fun.

Kathryn:

I'm actually enjoying this.

Kathryn:

I dabbled a little bit, took a Java class in high school and stuff and had

Kathryn:

made my own websites and customized my MySpace page and whatever . And so

Kathryn:

having just enough HTML and CSS to be dangerous meant that I ended up getting

Kathryn:

put on a bunch of web design projects.

Kathryn:

Just cuz I knew what people were talking about and the more of them I

Kathryn:

did, the more I was like, this is fun.

Kathryn:

This is really fun.

Kathryn:

I kinda wandered.

Kathryn:

Graphic design into web design, into web development, into UI design and

Kathryn:

development and app development and front end engineering specifically

Kathryn:

and one thing led to another.

Kathryn:

I did HTML email development for a minute I just kept trying stuff to

Kathryn:

see what was fun and what stuck and bounced around between jobs for a

Kathryn:

bit and just tried things out and I was feeling settled as a front-end

Kathryn:

engineer, when someone at progress reached out to me and was like, you

Kathryn:

ever thought about developer relations?

Kathryn:

I no, but tell me more.

Eddie:

Yeah.

Eddie:

So what you're saying is that programming like slowly drew you

Eddie:

in and we took you over to the dark side and then devel stole you.

Kathryn:

It's been interesting.

Kathryn:

Cause that was one of the things I was really like worried about.

Kathryn:

I remember asking like a thousand times during the interview process

Kathryn:

I don't wanna forget how to code.

Kathryn:

I don't wanna lose my skillset.

Kathryn:

And they were like, don't worry.

Kathryn:

which was true.

Kathryn:

I'm still coding so much doing workshops and demos and building

Kathryn:

out sample stuff with our product and working with our dev team.

Kathryn:

But I joke to everyone that it took me a long time to get used to not

Kathryn:

living my life in two weeks sprint

Kathryn:

It's just different when you're not developing a product and

Kathryn:

working constantly in product cycles in quite the same way.

Kathryn:

But yeah, still fun.

Eddie:

Probably a nice change of pace, right?

Eddie:

After being in sprints and cycles for a while, to be able to, Hey,

Eddie:

work on this little project and work on that little project.

Kathryn:

There was definitely a couple months of rough adjustment where I was

Kathryn:

like, who's assigning me JIRA tickets.

Kathryn:

What am I supposed do I have to assign me JIRA tickets,

Eddie:

Please tell me you don't actually use Jira.

Kathryn:

I don't use JIRA, but I do use a Kanban Board.

Kathryn:

To this day, my life has still lived in the like Kanban Columns.

Kathryn:

So do not.

Eddie:

I mean, Kaban columns is fine.

Eddie:

If you move to dev rel, I feel like you have earned the right to step out of

Eddie:

JIRA, the all encompassing eye of JIRA.

Kathryn:

I do technically have an account so that I can look at stuff

Kathryn:

that our dev team is working on.

Kathryn:

Cause they work in Jira every once in a blue moon I'll pop in and I'm

Kathryn:

like, oh yeah, didn't miss that.

Kathryn:

I'm good.

Kathryn:

I live mostly out of notion now

Eddie:

Nice.

Kathryn:

so you get my new, like home base.

Eddie:

Well see, we probably should have made the topic

Eddie:

about Notion, but that's okay.

Eddie:

We're, we're already in this thing.

Eddie:

But because you We're trying to subvert into using notion

Eddie:

at our last job together.

Kathryn:

I'm a big notion of fan

Eddie:

So I, I'm not surprised that you are in Notion

Kathryn:

Yes.

Kathryn:

(laughing).

Kathryn:

I'm getting to be a hardcore fan.

Eddie:

I can appreciate it.

Eddie:

I've tried bits and pieces of it here and there, but I put stuff

Eddie:

in there and then I never go back to it much like my to-do app.

Eddie:

So it just kind of sits and gets dusty.

Kathryn:

Everyone's gotta find something, some process that works for them.

Kathryn:

And I don't think it's ever gonna be the same for two people, which

Kathryn:

is probably why everyone hates Jira.

Eddie:

That's true.

Eddie:

Everyone is different and Jira is trying to be one thing to all

Eddie:

people and that's gonna, Yeah.

Eddie:

Yeah.

Eddie:

Awesome.

Eddie:

Well, alas, we aren't talking about Notion today.

Eddie:

But we have some other really fun stuff to talk about.

Eddie:

So, you know, this podcast is all about what brings us joy.

Eddie:

And so you've been doing some stuff recently that brings you joy.

Kathryn:

Yeah.

Kathryn:

I try to think about it when you first posed that question to me.

Kathryn:

I really liked.

Kathryn:

I feel like it's something that we don't talk about enough in tech it's

Kathryn:

so easy to like gripe or complain about, whatever's not working for us.

Kathryn:

The idea of like, what are you doing that you've been really into recently?

Kathryn:

It is like, yeah, what am I doing?

Kathryn:

and after a little bit of thought for me, the answer was definitely

Kathryn:

getting back to tech conferences and speaking at conferences.

Kathryn:

That was something that I have always dabbled in.

Kathryn:

but back before I was a developer advocate, it was something that I had to

Kathryn:

fit in outside of my, nine to five job.

Kathryn:

And you wanna figure out the work life balance.

Kathryn:

I enjoyed doing it.

Kathryn:

I liked the ways that it helped my career.

Kathryn:

I enjoyed the experience of being at conferences.

Kathryn:

But also they were a lot of work and so do 1, maybe, 2 conferences a year.

Kathryn:

Now it is 1, maybe 2, conferences a month, it feels like

Kathryn:

And it's been really interesting to approach that with the new mentality

Kathryn:

that's part of my job and get to dedicate a bunch of time to working

Kathryn:

on talks and writing things and getting to attend so many conferences.

Kathryn:

Especially.

Kathryn:

I don't wanna say post pandemic, cuz we're not really post pandemic, post

Kathryn:

the height of the pandemic with things opening back up a little bit, in person

Kathryn:

conferences have been back and it's been a real joy to get to be in the

Kathryn:

same room with other folks and to feel that energy and make those connections.

Kathryn:

So that's really been something that's been lighting me up recently.

Eddie:

That's awesome.

Eddie:

Yeah.

Eddie:

Particularly, I think you went to React Miami, right?

Kathryn:

Yep.

Kathryn:

That was my last in person one that I did, gosh, I think just

Kathryn:

three or four weeks ago, maybe.

Kathryn:

And that was a blast.

Kathryn:

That was fantastic.

Eddie:

I saw all the photos on Twitter that people were posting.

Eddie:

And I was like, ah, that looks so fun.

Kathryn:

It was just genuinely they were just having a great time.

Kathryn:

It was so fun.

Kathryn:

It was one of the most fun conferences that I've done.

Kathryn:

And it was great to get to run away to Miami while it was still a little bit

Kathryn:

cold back home and be like, all right.

Kathryn:

This is work.

Kathryn:

I get to hang out here, under the Palm trees and talking about React,

Kathryn:

all right, I can get used to this.

Kathryn:

I can see that.

Kathryn:

I've gotten to do a few.

Kathryn:

I was in Knoxville for code stock a couple of weeks before that , I've

Kathryn:

done a few online conferences.

Kathryn:

I've got code land coming up with, Forem Dev.To and, Code Newbies.

Kathryn:

That'll be an online one that I'm still very hyped about.

Kathryn:

I'll be in St.

Kathryn:

Louis for Dev Up in, uh, two, three weeks.

Kathryn:

That's sooner than I thought.

Eddie:

Wow.

Kathryn:

Then I'll get to go React Next in Tel Aviv at the end of June, which is like

Eddie:

That's exciting

Kathryn:

what?

Kathryn:

That's insane.

Kathryn:

So it's definitely been, it's been something that I very much thrown

Kathryn:

myself into this conference season and it's been just so much fun.

Eddie:

What do you feel like you've missed most about conferences?

Eddie:

Right?

Eddie:

There was definitely a lull, during the height of the pandemic.

Eddie:

And there was some stuff online.

Eddie:

I can't remember if you did a lot of them online or not.

Kathryn:

Yeah, there were definitely a couple, I did

Kathryn:

ByteConf React sometime in 2020.

Kathryn:

I did one of the WomenWhoCode conferences , I believe Connect Reimagine, and

Kathryn:

then more recently have done, the Women in Tech Summit and did Web

Kathryn:

Directions Hover the CSS conference.

Kathryn:

And those are they're great.

Kathryn:

I think there's honestly.

Kathryn:

So much good to be said for online conferences, especially in terms of,

Kathryn:

accessibility and allowing people to attend, who might not have previously

Kathryn:

been able to attend a conference in person cause in person has a lot

Kathryn:

of barriers in terms of travel and childcare and financial obligations.

Kathryn:

And it can be really hard to set aside what three, four days in the middle of

Kathryn:

a week to, run off and do a conference.

Kathryn:

I'm glad that we've seen a rise in online conferences and at the same time,

Kathryn:

it's very hard to replicate the energy of a room full of people who are all

Kathryn:

really excited about the same thing.

Kathryn:

so I kind of waffle back and forth.

Kathryn:

I think both are good.

Kathryn:

I think both.

Kathryn:

Kinda serve different purposes and have different goals.

Kathryn:

And I enjoy doing both, but for me, I think especially after the

Kathryn:

extended isolation of COVID times, it's been especially gratifying

Kathryn:

to be back in a room with people.,

Eddie:

(laughing) yeah, I remember, like when I got a job working with a

Eddie:

government contractor they had in the budget, to be able to send a couple

Eddie:

people to a conference every year.

Eddie:

I remember getting to go.

Eddie:

I was in DC area and Esri, the geospatial company, they're out in San Diego.

Eddie:

So they had the conference in Palm Springs.

Eddie:

And so in February, I got to leave DC where it was cold and

Eddie:

horrible and go to Palm Springs where it was warm and enjoyable.

Eddie:

And I remember cuz it.

Eddie:

Government related and stuff the car rental is covered

Eddie:

and the hotel is covered.

Eddie:

I remember that was the feeling.

Eddie:

I feel like I hadn't made it.

Eddie:

I was in tech.

Eddie:

I was like, here I am at this cool conference in a warm sunny place.

Eddie:

Having fun.

Eddie:

This is awesome.

Kathryn:

Absolutely.

Kathryn:

Oh yeah.

Kathryn:

My husband keeps joking.

Kathryn:

He's like, when are you gonna start applying to more conferences in Hawaii?

Kathryn:

like, can you try to apply to a conference in, in Paris?

Kathryn:

all right, babe.

Kathryn:

I'll work on it.

Eddie:

JS Conf Hawaii does exist.

Kathryn:

I would love to go.

Kathryn:

I'll put that out there.

Kathryn:

I have applied before and it's not worked out.

Kathryn:

I'll manifest it right here.

Kathryn:

I would

Eddie:

that's

Kathryn:

to

Eddie:

That's right.

Eddie:

Yeah, for sure.

Eddie:

Well and in that topic, for people who might be interested in speaking

Eddie:

at conferences it can be intimidating.

Eddie:

I think right before we get into that it's good to call out and say,

Eddie:

Hey, you applied to JS Conf Hawaii.

Eddie:

I'm sure you've applied to other ones.

Kathryn:

Oh, I get rejected all the time.

Kathryn:

yeah, yeah.

Kathryn:

That's something that I think almost hit home more once applying to

Kathryn:

conferences and speaking at conferences became part of my full time job was

Kathryn:

the reality of I literally can spend almost as much time as I want on this.

Kathryn:

I have the resources thanks to my company.

Kathryn:

And I still get declined.

Kathryn:

I would say probably.

Kathryn:

60% of the time.

Kathryn:

I'm trying to think what the numbers actually are.

Kathryn:

I do keep track of it.

Kathryn:

so, uh, I don't know if that's a good or bad thing for me mentally.

Kathryn:

But I made a little in notion I have a little table of everything that

Kathryn:

I've applied to and where it is.

Kathryn:

And is it virtual or is it in person and how long are the session things just so

Kathryn:

I can keep 'em all straight in my head.

Kathryn:

And as part of that, I'll just mark, you know, accepted, declined, whatever.

Kathryn:

And I get plenty of rejections.

Kathryn:

Like plenty of places are thanks, but no thanks.

Kathryn:

I think that's totally okay honestly, cuz so much of it has nothing to do with

Kathryn:

a reflection of your skills or anything.

Kathryn:

They're just trying to balance a set of offerings and they're looking at

Kathryn:

your topic and they're looking at the general vibe and what they wanna focus

Kathryn:

on and what's hot this year and what they think will draw people in and

Kathryn:

just trying to check boxes to make sure they've got an offering that's

Kathryn:

balanced and interesting and on trend.

Kathryn:

Sometimes it's not gonna shake out in your favor and that's, uh, them's the breaks.

Kathryn:

I don't know.

Eddie:

Yeah, For sure.

Kathryn:

I've always kind of joked with this.

Kathryn:

And also with job applications, it's truly just a numbers game.

Kathryn:

The more you can put out, even if you're submitting the

Kathryn:

exact same thing everywhere.

Kathryn:

And I also double dip plenty, and I'll give the same talk wherever, you know, but

Kathryn:

I'll submit the same thing with the same description and the same all the way down.

Kathryn:

And some places will like it and some places won't and that's just life.

Eddie:

Yeah, that makes sense.

Eddie:

And I actually did my first application for a talk or whatnot,

Eddie:

submission for a talk to code land and they accepted you, but alas

Eddie:

rejected me.

Eddie:

that's okay.

Kathryn:

one was tight.

Kathryn:

I didn't realize until I got the email, what a small speaker set that was,

Kathryn:

I think there's only like, 13 or 15 talks, which like, again, for a lot

Kathryn:

of conferences will be really big and have like multiple tracks and might

Kathryn:

have, you know, 30 or 40 speakers.

Kathryn:

And so to see that one was oh yeah, of course the numbers are

Kathryn:

not in anyone's favorite there

Kathryn:

. Eddie: Yep.

Kathryn:

So.

Kathryn:

Put yourself out there.

Kathryn:

If you're interested in speaking at conferences.

Kathryn:

I got rejected my first time.

Kathryn:

It's okay.

Kathryn:

I'm gonna take that and throw it to another.

Kathryn:

And Kathryn gets rejected plenty 60%.

Kathryn:

So

Kathryn:

Yeah.

Kathryn:

I guess it's probably higher so it probably should have been like 65 or 70,

Eddie:

the longer the podcast goes on the higher than number

Kathryn:

It's just gonna keep getting the, the rejections are flowing in as we speak

Kathryn:

but Yeah, I think, especially when you're new and you're still figuring out there's

Kathryn:

a little bit of like salesmanship to it too, in terms of framing, what you've

Kathryn:

got and being confident in your offering.

Kathryn:

And especially if you've got other work, if there's stuff you can

Kathryn:

point to and be like, here are some other talks I've given, here's some

Kathryn:

blog posts, I've written, those things all help your chances too.

Kathryn:

Cause it lets the organizers see a little bit of who you are and

Kathryn:

how you speak and how you write.

Kathryn:

Kinda how you approach things and it's never a bad thing to be able to point them

Kathryn:

to things and be like, here's my vibe.

Kathryn:

See if I make the vibe check.

Eddie:

That's good.

Eddie:

Well, as we wrap up today, I always like to say as a community,

Eddie:

we love to support each other.

Eddie:

And so just wanted to see what are you working on?

Eddie:

What would you like to throw out there for the community to check out?

Kathryn:

Yeah.

Kathryn:

I mean, I gotta give props to Kendo React, which is obviously the component

Kathryn:

library that I am the Dev Rel for, but we just had two released and we've got

Kathryn:

some great new stuff in there and it's honestly just a really great, I know.

Kathryn:

You kind of go, yeah, yeah, sure.

Kathryn:

They pay you to say that and yeah to an extent, but also I was really

Kathryn:

hesitant about third party component libraries before I worked here.

Kathryn:

And Eddie can vouch because I was building one from the ground up at

Kathryn:

ThreatConnect to basically avoid.

Kathryn:

That was what I was doing before.

Kathryn:

I worked at Progress.

Kathryn:

And I was really hesitant cuz I had such frustration dealing with those

Kathryn:

kind of third party libraries and trying to like design around them,

Kathryn:

especially as a UI designer and working in CSS and trying to override styles.

Kathryn:

So they really had to sell me to come over and talk about Kendo.

Kathryn:

I really believe that they've done a good job of prioritizing

Kathryn:

the designer experience just as much as the developer experience.

Kathryn:

And that was what sold me, what got me on board, and what I think

Kathryn:

makes them really different.

Kathryn:

So there was my spiel, But yeah, if you check it out, you can

Kathryn:

go to Kendo react.com, free 30 day trial experiment with it.

Kathryn:

Play as much as you like, uh, at me on Twitter, ask questions.

Kathryn:

I'm always happy to talk Kendo with folks.

Eddie:

Awesome.

Eddie:

Well, you heard it.

Eddie:

They literally converted her from being anti third party libraries to actually.

Eddie:

Telling people to use Kendo.

Eddie:

So it must be good if they got her over.

Eddie:

So check it out.

Kathryn:

folks

Eddie:

Well, thank you for joining us today, Kathryn.

Eddie:

It's been so fun.

Kathryn:

Yeah.

Kathryn:

Thank you so much for having me.

Kathryn:

This was great.

Eddie:

Thanks for joining us for Episode 11: "The Rejections are

Eddie:

Flowing In" with Kathryn Grayson Nanz.

Eddie:

You can find out more about Kathryn on her website, kgrayson.com

Eddie:

or her Twitter @KathrynGrayson.

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

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

Eddie:

If you enjoyed this episode, help others discover it as well

Eddie:

by rating and reviewing it in your favorite podcast directory.

Eddie:

And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @WebJoyFM

Eddie:

thank you for listening.