Finding Your Career Niche with Nate Berkopec

Colleen chats with Nate Berkopec, Ruby on Rails performance expert, about mindset and creating your own career path.

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Colleen: Welcome back to
Software Social, Colleen here.

I am super excited to bring
you a special guest today.

Nate Berko pec, who is the
leading rails performance expert.

He has his own consultancy.

He has written a book.

He has a workshop.

He's pretty much done all the things.

Nate, thank you so much
for coming on today.

Nate: Thanks, Colleen.

Yeah, a special guests, like,
cause I had a, like an upgrade

from the normal guest category.

Is this like, Oh, that's
really, really nice.

Colleen: So Nate, I actually didn't
ask you on, because I wanted to hear

all about your rails experience.

I knew who you were because
I'm a rails developer.


Nate: tricked.

This is a setup.

Colleen: It's totally a set up.

Nate: Gotcha.

Journalism here, huh?


Colleen: While I was, you
know, internet stalking you.

It's not weird at all.

I came across your talk
alone across America.

Nate: Ah, yeah.


Colleen: I loved it.

Nate: No.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Yeah, that was a, what
does that format called?

PechaKucha um, you heard of that?

Colleen: not until I found your talk and
I was going to lead with that's, what

it was called, but I can't pronounce it.


Nate: Yeah.

You know, actually I don't even
know like where that comes from.

It was started like this Japanese
architectural firm and like Japanese

people really love coming up with
words that are on amount of Pia.

So I think that's where
that name comes from.

It's probably trying to imitate
some kind of sound, but I

don't know what that would be.

Anyway, the format is people
give talks and they're 20

slides, 20 seconds per slide.

Auto advance.

Colleen: Oh, wow.

Nate: uh, That's like what,
six and six minutes and 40

seconds or something like that.

So that was the format of that
particular talk which is fun.

Actually, I really like the auto
advancing slides idea and it's

actually something that I've done in
conference talks since without saying

anything or telling anybody, but
mostly have my conference talks since

then have been like a 32nd auto slide

Colleen: Really?

That seems like a terrible idea.

Nate: It really keeps you moving,
and it really keeps you on track.


I like it actually.

I also like just not having stuff
in my hands when I'm talking,

like when I'm giving a talk,
but anyway, I got off track.

That's the format.

Colleen: Okay.

So for the listeners, it's a short talk.

You should look it up.

It's linked from his website, but
essentially the story is that when

you were 19, you were on shark
tank, and you failed miserably.

Nate: Sure.

Colleen: I don't want to over exaggerate,
but, and so then you bought a motorcycle

and motorcycle across the country.

Nate: Yeah.

And two times since.

But yeah, that first trip was the
big one from Tennessee to Washington.

And it's was on this thing called the
Transamerica trail, which is this informal

kind of put together route by the guy.

And he sells, you know, he
based sells the route online.

The route is almost a hundred percent
as much as can be gravel and dirt roads.

So that's the concept is to ride
dirt from Tennessee to Washington.

Colleen: So you were what?


So this is where you in college
then where you out of college.

Nate: No, I was definitely out of college.

I think I was probably 22.

Colleen: Okay.

Nate: The gap there is I buy a motorcycle
after shark tank and then I blow it

up and then two or three years pass.

And then I go on this ride
on a different motorcycle.

Colleen: Oh, okay.

Got it.


Nate: You kind of leave some
of these details out in a six

minute 42nd talk, you know?

Colleen: Sure.

You don't have a lot of time to, you
know, auto advancing slides at all.

You got to stay on top of it.

So What struck me about this
talk was the focus on identity.

You started saying you were always
someone who wanted to be entrepreneurial

and kind of that failure at shark
tank kind of changed your identity.

Then you got the motorcycle.

So you had this new identity.

Can you talk a little bit about that?

Because I feel like that is so
applicable to like literally everyone.

Nate: Well, this is kind of the lens
I had started viewing that experience

through after I read I actually don't
know the title of the book growth mindset.

I think it's just the name
of the book by Carol Dweck.

The idea is that some people have
this, a fixed mindset and other

people have growth mindsets.

Fixed mindsets are concentrated on
identity on I am this, I am that.

And we'll reject experiences
which do not fit that identity.

So if you have a fixed mindset, and you
think you're an entrepreneur, someone

tells you, you're not in a way that's very
difficult to deny, that becomes something

that is difficult to integrate into this
identity that you've created, right?

Because you are an entrepreneur.

That the example she gives us the
smart kit, the high achievers.

Uh, You know, they go through school
and they're always told, oh, you're

so smart by their parents or by, you
know, the school system or whatever.

And then they meet a challenge
that they finally can't beat.


You know, they got a 1200
on their sat or something.


And, that experience is not possible
to integrate in a fixed mindset.

You can't deal with that, right?

Like you're a smart kid.

So like you can't get 12 hundreds on
SATs and then that kind of can drive

you in a lot of different, bad, direct.

The drive you to cheat or to do
something bad like that, like to give up.

That's a big kind of thing that I did
a lot when I had a fixed mindset was

I would not attempt experiences that I
thought I would fail at because I didn't

want to have an experience for that,
but challenge that identity, right.

So I think a lot of my experience since
then has been to try to push myself more

into a growth mindset, which orients your
identity, if anything, around process.

So not being someone who is smart, but
someone who is a hard worker, cause you

always, you control the process, right?

I could control being somebody who doesn't
give up or you know, works as hard as

they can gives their best all the time.


That's something that's under my control.


I can kind of safely attach to that in
a way that you can't to a fixed mindset.

So Yeah.

I mean, with the motorcycle, like
it was something that I didn't

really know if I could do or not.

I didn't really know if I would
go all the way to Washington.

Like, as I said in the top, I probably
had like a couple thousand miles

of motorcycle experience before
I took off on a 10,000 mile trip.

Completely alone and unsupported.

Colleen: It seems like a great plan by the

Nate: yeah, Yeah.

I mean, I knew there
wasn't any real danger.

Like the worst thing that could
possibly happen would be like, I leave

it the bicycle, the motorcycle and
the ditch, and like take a plate home.

That was probably the like, or get
injured just somehow, like, those are the

worst things that could possibly happen.

So, that's actually not that bad,
like as far as a floor there.

So like that I think was a kind
of a first step that I was taking

towards orienting my mindset to.

Colleen: So, okay, so this is
I've elementary school aged kids,

and this is the thing they're
trying to teach us to teach them.


So when they color a picture now, instead
of saying your picture so beautiful,

you're supposed to say stuff like I can
see you used a lot of different colors,

or I can see you really took time on that.

Do you think it works?

Nate: I don't know.

I don't know my kids only a three
months old, so we'll have to catch up

in like 10 years and like, we'll see.

We'll see like what happened
and what didn't happen.

Colleen: But I feel like, so I've heard
so much about growth mindset, right?

I've read atomic habits.

I haven't read that book.

You recommended I'm going to.

I think a lot of people who are
really good in school, and I think

for people like us who are starting
businesses being good at school does

not correlate with being good at
business necessarily is my opinion.

So I feel like this concept of growth
mindset, like you hear a lot about it,

but it's really hard to, believe it.

Nate: Hm.

Well, I think that business is
very much not like school because

there's nobody laying the track in
front of your locomotive, right?

There's nobody there.


Now you just have to do this.

And then as long as you get a
99% on this test, you'll succeed.


Just keep, keep laying that
track in front of a kid.

And that's how they get from
kindergarten to grade 12.


It's like just hitting the track
that's laid for them, but like, there's

nothing like that for anybody, you know,
that's starting their own business.

There's some people that could tell you,
like, hey, this thing worked for me,

like I don't know, might work for you.

But you know, even if you followed
all that advice, it wouldn't work.

Everybody has their own specific
situation that like no one can

lay down that track for you.

It does not exist.

So yeah, I think being able to teach
someone or to have a mindset that

allows you to safely explore in that
way, like to be able to, you can

stick to, if there was gonna lay on
the track for you, you're going to

have to try stuff it doesn't work.


And that was something I was really
bad at was trying things that might

not work or having things not work
out and then having to integrate that

into, okay, well, what am I going
to do better next time or whatever?

Like, I couldn't have that experience.

The only experience I wanted to have was
success, because that was what I thought

I was with someone that had success.

Colleen: Right.

So did you have any of those as you
were kind of transitioning into this

growth mindset and trying new things,
did you have any like public failures.

Nate: I mean, the shark tank was
definitely the one that stuck

with me the hardest for sure.

Colleen: Yeah, that's pretty public.

Nate: Yeah, it is.

I don't know.

I mean, I think that's
probably the big one.

I can't think of something
else off the top of my head.

I'm sure there is.

Colleen: So, okay, so you did shark tank,
you did personal growth motorcycling,

and slowly over time, you establish
yourself as an expert, as a rails expert,

and specifically a performance expert.

Talk about the decisions
to start a consultancy.

Is it just you, or is
it you and other people?

Nate: It's always been just me.


Colleen: So talk about some of
those decisions on those path

versus building, you know, another
monitoring app or something like that.

Like the choices you made when you
decided to go independent in that way.

Nate: Well, I had worked at a
couple of different startups,

like right out of college.

And, basically I got a little bit
burned out on that in terms of, like, I

realized that working for someone else
in Like an employee at a star or very

early, very, very early stage, like,
you know, five to 10 employees kind of

startups, just wasn't something that
lined up with like what I wanted to do.

I didn't want to work 60, 80 hours a week.

I didn't want to, you know, work for
half market rate, you know, to maybe get

a lottery ticket to a billion dollars.

I was like, oh, it doesn't
really make sense to me.

Colleen: Right,

Nate: I got out of that and then, I
don't know, I just sort of fell into

contracting initially, cause it was
like, well, I gotta do something to, you

know, pay the bills and fill up the time.

And I knew a lot of people in
New York from the startup seat.

So like I just was okay, Hey
Nate, come and help us with this.

Help us that.

I kind of did like hot, you might call
it like hot, a hot seat consulting,

like just try and warm body.

That's what I was thinking of warm
body consulting for about a year.

Just like, you know, filling in on
rails projects, wherever I could.

And then I just started writing.

I just started writing about performance.

Actually, no, I think even
before that it was probably,

this was around the same time.

This was like the summer of 2015.

Mike Dalessio who now works at Shopify
was running Gotham Ruby conference

at the time Go Ruco, and he called
me like a week before Go Ruco, and

Mike and I had known each other from
the New York City Ruby meetup group.

And he was like one of our talks canceled.

Can you fill it?

So like seven to 10 days?

I don't remember what it was before Conf.

Was like put together a 15 minute talk and
I was like, all right, I'll do it because

I'd never done a conference stock before.


I was like, oh my God,
this is my big shot.

Gotham Ruby conferences,
a single track conf.

So it's like 600 people in the
main room watching your talk.


Colleen: Everyone is coming to your talk.


Nate: don't really remember like
how I was on this track at the

time, but I running on this hot take
of turbo links is actually good.

And that was an extremely
hot take in 2016.

Nobody believed that turbo
links was a good idea.

You know, everyone was like,
DHH, push this into rails.

It's BS.

It doesn't work because Ember
was really hot at the time.

And everyone's like use Ember.

Embers cool.

Don't use turbo links, whatever.

And I was like, actually I think
turbo links is pretty cool.

So I built this to do app in turbo links.

And I just wanted to show like, hey,
if the server response time is good

Uh, turbo links app can work almost
as fast as a like a service, client

side, Ember powered app or whatever.

And the commerce talk was about that.

It was about sort of like the
performance limits of turbo links.

How can you make it as fast as possible?

And then I turned into a blog post and
that blog post DHH retweeted cause he was

clearly looking for some like hot takes
to amplify our turbo links to that point.


Cause everyone was just like
down turbo links at the time.

So I'm sure that.

It was the right take
for the right re Twitter.

And then at that, that really blew up.

So I had tons of people reading that post.

And then I just sort of fell into a
rhythm of like, okay, every two weeks I'll

start writing about performance stuff.

And it was partly just what I
was interested in at the time.

And then I realized what a
huge uptake it was getting.

And I was like, okay, this
is really hitting a nerve.

Colleen: Yeah.

Nate: was is that there's so
much anxiety, more at the time.

This is almost hard to remember now,
but at the time there was a ton of

anxiety around Ruby on Rails performance.

It was like, oh my God,
it rails doesn't scale.

And I will have to rewrite my application
in Scala and whatever cause like

Git Hub and Shopify, we're not that
big in 2016, like they were just not

the behemoths that they are today.

And Rails sort of hadn't recovered
from losing Twitter to Scala in

2010 or whenever that happened.

And so there was like
this big, like anxiety.

I could feel in the community about
like, oh my God, it's not fast enough.

I got to start writing some
other hot language or framework.

And I didn't like that.

I was like, I don't think this is true.

And I like writing Ruby.

So like, I'm going to figure
out how to make this work.

I always hated the mindset
of like, I have to switch.

I have to switch frameworks or languages
that I'm writing because the market

says I have to, or it's not fast enough.

I didn't like that mindset.

So I was like, okay, I'm going
to set out to prove this wrong.

And, I just kept writing about that.

I kept writing about web
performance and I realized like,

this is like a really good market.

I really liked performance.

I really liked writing and talking about
it because it's so, it's so definite it's

so like, it either is faster it isn't.

It's very quantitative in that way.

And I really loved like, take this
thing from three seconds and make

it 300 milliseconds, you know?

Um, So it was a combination of right
place, right time, right person, which

is, you know, as any success story
sounds in 2020 hindsight, you know.

Colleen: Yep.



So you started writing and then you
had a lot of success writing and

then two people just started reaching
out and like, hey, can you fix this?

Nate: Yeah, pretty much.

I should go back sometime and like,
look through all my old client

reports and like figure out who
the first person was in the last

Colleen: That would be


Nate: first one I did, but Yeah.

I started just really getting a
lot of cold reach outs, and I when

I was putting together all these
blogs and stuff, I was like, okay

I think this is a good opportunity
to create kind of product revenue.

So I'll make a course.

I'll make a book.

And that became the complete
guide to rails performance, which

released like nine months after
that conference talk that I gave.

So it was a nine month period of
a lot, a lot of, a lot of writing.

Colleen: Yeah.

What year was that?

How long ago was that?

Nate: So I think that was the summer
of 2015 that I did the conference talk.

So the complete guide that rails
performance came out in March of 2016.

So almost six years.

Colleen: And then, so then you
followed that on with workshop.

Nate: Yeah.

I remember the first one of that.

I remember the first workshop I
ever gave was at Getty Images.

So I remember Getty Images, found
me and were like, can you come to

Madison, Wisconsin and give a workshop?

And I was like, hell yeah.

Business travel.

And like, this is like
cool executive stuff now.

So yeah, it's my glorious Madison,
Wisconsin set up, and I remember,

like in retrospect I had no idea what
I was dealing with that workshop.

It was just like, I dunno, it
must've been awful to take, but

yeah, that was the very first one.

That must've been the summer
of 2016 or something like that.

And that workshop basically
kind of just kept changing

and being revised and edited.

And yeah.

Now I've probably given that
workshop live to hundreds of people

now, now asynchronously, cause
I sell it online to hundreds.

Colleen: So have you
resumed traveling yet?


Nate: haven't yet.

I haven't yet.

My first trip will be to
Sin City Ruby in a month.

Colleen: Oh, I'll be there.

I'll See I'll see.

you there.

So I think a lot of our
listeners are trying to break

free from the nine to five.

And a lot of people like that story
you just described sounds you make

it sound like it was really easy.

You're like, I just did this thing
and then people are calling me.

Wasn't really easy.

Nate: Well, I think my memory
of that time was like, I didn't

really bill for nine months.

I didn't have like

a lot of billable work While I

Colleen: while you were

Nate: Yeah.


I don't really remember having a lot
of like hourly at that time, because

I remember like my last client cut
me off and like their startup blew up

and like he didn't pay the last check.

It was like kind of a bad breakup and.

Colleen: That sounds like it.


Nate: And I think after that summer, it
was like, after, as I was writing, I don't

remember how many other clients in there.

So I don't know how much billable
I was doing at that time.

And like writing is a lot, a lot of
work, and probably nine months to

write 130,000 words in retrospect
is pretty quick for non-fiction.

So I don't even know if I could
have done too much more, but yeah.

So I guess, you know, I think there's a
little bit of luck in the thing that I

wanted to write about was the thing that
the community desperately want it to hear.


That didn't have to be true.

So the fact that that was the
way it worked out was important.

But I think also, like, I think a lot of
it is listening, like paying attention

to what the community cares about.

What are the things that people are,
you know, writing a blog posts about

that sound like they don't have an
answer to, you know, like what are

the things that continue to hit the
top of the Ruby subreddit or whatever?

What are the things that people
seem to be struggling with, but

don't have a clear answer for it.

I knew that performance
was one of those things.

So it was part for tourists that
was something that I wanted to do.

But I do think that, especially as I
was writing continuously every couple

of weeks and posting stuff like that
was probably deliberate of honing a

message of, okay, what are the things
that people want to hear from me?

And how do I provide that?

One of the things that I've always pushed
has been front end performance, or you

might call it full stack performance,
like trying to analyze the performance of

a rails application from the perspective
of the browser, not from the perspective

of the rails application itself.

So the reason I do that is because
human beings don't just like

read raw HTML from a rails app.

The browser has to like
turn it into a webpage.

But I've definitely realized people
don't want to read that despite the

fact that I think it's actually the
most important part of performance.

I've learned in my message to sort of
like lead with these goodies of like,

Hey, try this one weird setting and
you'll make your rails at 10% faster.

And then like feed them the
vegetables, if like, okay, but you

actually need to fix your front end
performance this way or whatever.


There's a lot that you learned from
writing and publishing on a regular

schedule because you'll see like
what blows up and what doesn't.

Colleen: Yeah.


So it sounds like really the process
of writing helped you start to engage

with the community and it helped you
start to kind of open that loop with

people to see what people wanted, which
I'm sure you don't want to use the

term marketing, but it is marketing

Nate: oh, no, it is a

Colleen: Yeah, where you
can be more specific.

So is that you're doing the workshops.

You have the book.

Is that what you're still doing now?

Nate: No.

So our, our first child
was born in November.


Colleen: That's super exciting.

Nate: And after I've come back from
parental leave here now in February,

I am on more or less, a hundred
percent time contract with Gusto.

So, Gusto is my more or less
full-time client nowadays.

So working on making their payroll
experience faster for their customers.

Colleen: So tell us about that decision.

Nate: Huh.

Well basically last year, I mean, I
was, the kid was coming and I was just

thinking like, I love contracting.

It's great.

But, I would like to have
more stability in my income.

I'd like to have like a little bit more
stability of you know, money coming in.

So the other thing is like, especially
after doing this for six years now, is

that I think my, like, this may sound
surprising, but some of my technical

skills have just not grown anymore.

Basically, 95% of the time when
I get brought in on a contract,

I am like the most experienced
rails developer in the slack chat.

And that's partly, I think because
of my clientele and partly just the

atmosphere of being brought in on
a short term contract is like, we're

paying this guy a lot of money to
solve problems in a really short time.

So everybody like pay
attention to this person.

And it's not really an
atmosphere for me to learn.


Colleen: Right.

Nate: So I think in the last
couple of years, I'd felt like my

technical skills had not really
grown as quickly as they used to.

So having a long-term job or contract,
I thought it would be a good opportunity

for me to really like dig my teeth
into a problem long-term, and to do

it with a larger group of people that
were as experienced as, as I was you

know, like at a company where there's
20 employees, just like, by whatever

law of large numbers, there's like
one person at my experience level.

Right, but at Gusto,
there's 500 engineers.

So there's like 20 people, and
have those people have like

more experience than I do.



Colleen: Right.

Nate: That opportunity to really work
closely with people who have tons of

experience and different experience
than me was something I was looking

for and also to have, you know, time
horizons of like a year to work on

a problem and really dig into it.

Maybe build new tools, like really
almost push the boundary of the

profession in a way that I can't do on
like one week, two week kind of contract.

So I was looking at those, you know,
kind of interviewed a lot of places,

both for normal jobs and other stuff.

And Gusto came back to me with
saying like, hey, we'll bring you

on as a consultant, but you can,
you know, do 40 hours a week.

And I was like, that's perfect.

So that was the setup we ended up with.

Colleen: Okay.

So I have a somewhat unrelated
question, but when you go on job

interviews, do you still have to do
the normal interview process or you

just kind of like get in the back door?

Nate: Depends on the,
depends on the place.

I had places where my first conversation
was it the CTO and I had places

where I went through a normal
interview funnel of like four rounds.

You know, people I'd doing
coding challenges with

people I'd never met before.

That kind of thing.

So I did all of that.


It's dependent on the place.

Colleen: Okay.


That's such an interesting thing, because
I think, as an independent developer,

people just give you jobs, like based
on your public persona or what you've

written, especially you I'm sure.

I mean, it happens to me.

So I was just wondering like what that
actually looks like when you're like,

I want to do this for at least a year.

That's interesting.

Nate: Yeah.

I think it's interesting.

I think, the more the company in
question, like understood my specialty

and like my sort of what I can do and
bring to the table, the more I was

like off of the normal interview track.

And the more that it was like, people kind
of thought, oh, this is Nate, and he's a

really famous Ruby developer, whatever.

Then I sort of would just get
shunted into a normal interview path.

My skillset particularly is really weird.

It's very specific, right?

If I was just like a normal
working in, so at Gusto, right.

We have lots of different areas
where people work, but if I was on

a different team, let's say doing,
we have somebody at a Gusto right now

is doing a lot of work with PAC work.

So we're trying to modularize
all our Ruby code or whatever.

If I was on that team, I would not
be nearly as useful, not even close.


I'm sure I'd be a competent
senior staff developer.


But like, that's not even close
to the kind of value that I

provide doing specifically what
I do with the rails performance.


Then when I'm doing the thing that
I'm good at and like that I am have

specialized in, you know, that's where.

Colleen: Yeah.

That makes sense.

That absolutely makes sense.

So how are you adjusting to life
with a newborn and a new job?

It's a lot.

Nate: Yeah, well, luckily or
our newborn is a little angel,

and she can do no wrong.

So, you know well, I think
we got lucky with her.

She's just a really good sleeper.

So I have not been as sleep
deprived as I expected.

Colleen: That's unusual.

Nate: Yeah.

I know.

I know.

I know we got lucky.

So, you know, everything else,
like we can handle, right?

If I get sleep, it's like, okay,
everything else, we can figure it out.

But, the sleep uh, we figured it out now.

I think we we've pretty
much got that down.

So that's, that was the hardest
part of that adjustment and work.


I think, the biggest adjustment
for me at Gusto has been

like, it's a big app, right?

It's a huge app.

Tons of people it's like 10 years old.

So like some of the lines of like,
when you see the blame, it's the

CTO wrote this 10 years ago.

That kind of place, you know what I mean?

Colleen: Yeah.


Nate: it's very easy to get bogged
down in that kind of environment.

So like really go off on tangents or
everything turns into this massive

eight degree yak shave of, you know,
something that you thought that was going

to take five minutes, it takes 10 hours.

I've got so many right now where it's
like I'm shipping rack mini profiler

in production, and one test out of the
fricking 20,000 that at Gusto fails when

I, when I add this one, like basically
three lines of code and now I gotta go

figure out what's going on with that.

It's like this completely
random part of the app.

It doesn't even make sense.

Why is this thing blowing up?


So any change at that scale of application
potentially can break 0.001% of the app.

So it's hard to stay focused
in that kind of environment.

It's hard not to like, just go off and
dig to the bottom of every hole to, to,

to, to completely try to understand or
fix every single problem in its entirety

before you move on to the next thing.

But that's not really my job there.

My job is to fix particular,
make particular pages faster.

So you know, kind of keeping on
that, track has been an interesting.

Colleen: Yeah.

Do you think, so this you're
doing this for a year.

Is that how long you committed?

Nate: I mean, that's how
long the contract is.

We'll see if they need
me for another year.

Colleen: So you'll just decide, you
don't know what you want to do next.

If you want to stay, if you want
to go, it's too soon to say.

Nate: Yeah, yeah.

Too soon to say.

Too soon to know if I would.



I mean, I just got started.

We're recording this like three, this
is like the middle of my third week.


Colleen: Oh, okay.

You're got it.


Nate: Because with
performance work, for sure.


I do think unless the company,
which it could continues to grow

basically at a pace where they create
problems faster than I fix them.


But like performance work
definitely does have a marginal,

marginally decreasing value.


If I really set out and achieve
all the things I wanted to achieve

in this first year at Gusto.

It could totally be possible that it's
like, Hey, like all the really valuable

performance problems here are solved.

Like, thanks.

And that would be fine with me.

I'd be totally fine with that.

But maybe the company continues
to grow and like, then the

frontier is just pushed.

It's like, okay, well now we've got
this other stuff broken or, oh, now we

need this to work for people companies
that have 10,000 employees like,

okay, well that's a whole new world.


So it would kind of depend at them on
the moment, you know how much I was

able to accomplish and how much the
business, the situation needed me.

Colleen: Yeah.

Are you still doing workshops
while you're working full time?

Nate: am.

Colleen: Cool.


Nate: Yup.

Colleen: You've just had quite the
interesting career trajectory with the

you know, kind of everything you've done.

Are there any things you
would have done different?

Nate: Hm.

I don't know.

I don't think so.

One thing that I think worked out really
well for me was I started off with a two

or three, like in-person traditional jobs.

I was a developer or whatever, had a small
team, but like, it was still just a job.

And only after that was
when I started consulting.

And I think some people try
to skip that step, right?

They want to get out of maybe cause,
the first job is always the hardest,

like, you know, with somebody who maybe
came out of a bootcamp or something and

like they try and get that first job.

That is 100% the hardest one.

And they maybe look at like, oh, I
could just go on E-Lance or whatever

and you know, start doing jobs on there.


I am glad I didn't go that way because
I think you can get stuck in a hole of

working for kind of these low value
clients, not learning that much, cause

you're on your own most of the time.

I was really glad that I kind of
only launched into freelancing after

I had this like extensive personal
network and at least a little bit

of programming experience and resume.

So I'm glad I did that, that way.

I'm very happy.

I've written as much as I have.

I think my writing has been a major
factor as to why I've ended up where I

have, maybe I would have written more.

You could always write more.

I could always have written
more blog posts and written

more frequently or regularly.

There is no marginally decreasing
returns on writing, for sure.

I think.

I could always have produced more content.

And, and that would have been great.

So I don't know.

Those are the things that come to mind,
but I don't think I have something

that like, I would have changed.

Colleen: Yeah, I was listening to the
founder of balsamic was on indie hackers

a while back, but he talked about
that in terms of even starting a SAS,

cause he worked at Adobe for like six
years before he started his business.

I keep hearing that and I think that's
really good advice to give to people.

However you learn, go get a job.

If you can first to help you get
on the path of freedom, the path of

freedom, I'm going to start calling it.


Nate: it's

a path of freedom.


I wasn't even that long for me,
it was like two years, I think,

maybe the beginning of my career.

And also I think to some extent, like,
because it was in New York City and I

was going to meet ups every week and
making like, I didn't realize at the time

wasn't network, but it was, you know.

That was how I, that was how I met
Mike, who gave me the conference

talk, which then led to the blog post.


Colleen: I love that, by the way, I

Nate: know, like, Yeah, I
think that is, that is helpful.

I think it's definitely more difficult,
not impossible, but definitely more

difficult to start from a place of a
hundred percent remote from the start.

Colleen: Yeah, well, Nate, I think
that is a good place to wrap up.

Thank you so much for coming
on software social today.

If people want to find out more
about you, where can they go?

Nate: Yeah, speed. is my website for my
performance consulting and everything

that I do is linked from there.

Colleen: Awesome.


Nate: Alright, thanks.

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