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Saron Yitbarek's Path Into Tech

Saron Yitbarek chats with Kent about changing her career path, finances, punching your feelings in the face, and doing the hard thing.

Saron Yitbarek started a company called Code Newbie, which started as a Twitter community and grew into a couple of podcasts and a conference.

Saron first became interested in technology after she read the Steve Jobs book, it was the first time she got introduced to technology in a way that she could relate to, where tech was talked about through the eyes of design, art, and storytelling. So, she started calling CEOs of startups until she got an internship, which led to a job. Saron wanted to get into development, though, so she quit her job, started to learn to code, and joined a code boot camp.

Saron's path wasn't always financially secure. She realized that she needed to save and create a safety net. These days to help her budget, she uses a tool called You Need A Budget. The tool enables you to be more critical about where your money is going. Think of it as a digital envelope system.

What if you wanted to get into tech but don't know where to start? Saron's one piece of advice for you is go look up your dream job. What is the dream job you have, the dream company you want to work for? Write down five options for yourself. If you could have any job right now at the best company you could think of, what are those jobs? Find those job postings. Put them in a spreadsheet. Figure out the keywords and what the required skills are for each job. See what each job has in common, and then that's your list, that's your curriculum. That's the stuff that you need to learn. Out of that list, pick one technology, one tool, one language that you recognize that has been repeated across these job postings and start learning that one thing.

Homeworks

  • Saron Yitbarek

    Saron Yitbarek


    Transcript

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Hello, friends. This is your friend, Kent C. Dodds. I'm so excited to be here with my friend, Saron Yitbarek. Say hi, Saron.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Hi, nice to be here. Thank you so much for having me.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    I'm so happy to have you here. You're an old hat at this whole podcasting thing. You've been doing podcasting for longer than me, but I'm so excited to have you here on my podcast to chat with you about your life experience and share you with my friends, my audience here.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Yeah. As we get started, I do want my friends to get to know you, so if you could introduce yourself a little bit, tell us who you are and what you care about, and then we can chat about other things.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Sure, that sounds great. I'm Saron, I am a developer, podcaster, and entrepreneur. I've been a developer for a number of years now, six years now. A podcaster also for six years now, and also started my business six years ago, so pretty even in all those three categories.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Wow.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    I started a company called Code Newbie, which started as a Twitter chat, a community, and then grew into a couple podcasts and a conference. It was recently sold to Dev, which is I think one of the largest communities of developers. They're an amazing, amazing company doing great work. Yeah, so now, I am figuring out what my next move is. Still podcasting, still coding, and now I'm actually in business school, so getting my MBA, which is very different from learning to code and very difficult, but that's okay. Yeah. I'm really into startups, I'm really into tech and really into community building.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    That's amazing. How does it feel to be acquired?

    Saron Yitbarek:
    It's awesome. It's so great. I feel like the timing of it worked out really well for us. I still work for the company, I still podcast and host the shows, and I have editorial input in some of the new stuff they're working on. But it's just nice to not have to worry about anything and just to focus on the fun parts that I used to do, and to kind of let go of sponsorships and producing a conference and the other things that are just hard. So, I feel really lucky in being in that position.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    That's incredible. I can imagine the relief that it would be. But I'm guessing those things are all still happening.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yes.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    You're just not as involved or not at all involved anymore.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yep, exactly. I get to provide my insight once in a while. That's pretty much it.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Yeah. That's good. I've definitely handed off projects before, maybe not something quite as big as a conference or anything, and I can relate to the relief that you feel. You don't want the thing to die.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Right.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    You want it to exist. You just don't want to be the one to do it anymore.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yes.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Because you're ready to move on. So, that's wonderful. I'm glad that happened for you and I'm looking forward to whatever it is that you do next. For anybody who's listening who wants to learn more about this experience in particular, I was just listening to the Women in Tech podcast hosted by Espree Devora, and Saron was on that podcast pretty recently. It's a great episode. I'll link to it in the show notes. Definitely give that a lesson, for sure.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Cool.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Great. I'm really interested to find out more of your story of how you got into tech because it is pretty interesting. You do talk about it in that other podcast, but I want to dig into a couple parts of that with you. Can you give us a little bit of your backstory of how you got into this?

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yeah, sure. I guess a good place to start is undergrad, where I was premed for three out of the four years of undergrad. I was really into the hard sciences. I taught organic chemistry, I was a research fellow, I was published in a biochemistry journal. I had research published.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Whoa.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yeah. I was really into it. Then I think it was either end of junior year or beginning of senior year, I shadowed a cardiologist, which is something I really should have done much, much earlier. When I shadowed that cardiologist, I got to scrub in to a surgery and walk with him and visit patients, and it was a really interesting, really eye-opening experience.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    What I learned was that what I loved about the sciences was the storytelling. It was what happens to this chemical when it reacts to this other chemical? How does the kidney process different liquids? It was the journey of the body that I was interested in, not so much the saving people's lives. I feel like if you're a doctor, you should be really motivated by saving people's lives. That feels like an important part of that job.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Yeah.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    I said to myself, "Man, I don't think this whole being a doctor thing is for me," especially when you think about the fact that it's an additional four, eight years of school. I was like, "I don't think this is the right move." I was trying to figure out what I should do with my life, and I had always done journalism, so I had written for the school paper, interned at our local NPR member station. I had written for a magazine. I said, "Well, maybe journalism is a good place to go since I've clearly shown an interest in it."

    Saron Yitbarek:
    My first job out of college was actually working at NPR. It was one of the best jobs I ever had. I got to bring in Boyz II Men for an interview and they did a private concert for us, which was so exciting.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    That's cool.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Ah, their voices are so beautiful. And I have the photos to prove it, it was great. That was one of the best jobs I ever had.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Then I became a fact checker at Discover Magazine, where I worked for a monthly publication. The way that that works is every month, they publish a bunch of articles, so as a fact checker, you only have work to do one week out of the month because the articles aren't ready yet to be fact checked. So, most of the time, I spent just reading books and reading magazines and blogs and that sort of thing.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    During that time, I read the Steve Jobs book. That was the first time I was introduced to technology in a way that I could relate to, where tech was talked about through the eyes of design and art and storytelling. When I thought of tech, I thought of video games, and I'm not into video games at all. I said, "Huh, maybe there's space for me in this tech world. Maybe there's a place for someone like me, who doesn't think about engineering and video games, but thinks about art and design."

    Saron Yitbarek:
    So, I googled and started reading all about the startup community, the startup world. I cold emailed a bunch of startup CEOs, and one of those emails turned into a coffee, which turned into an internship, which turned into a job. So, that was my first foray into tech.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    But I was always on the non-technical side of things. I'd always done marketing, some sales and business development, never really product. I worked in the startup community for a couple years and I felt like if I didn't get technically trained, I was never going to have the impact that I wanted to have on an organization. I felt like I was always going to be limited in my career.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    After bumping up against that wall a couple times, I said to myself, "You know what? I think it's time for me to just pause, invest in myself, take some time off." I quit my job, learned how to code for a couple months, did a bootcamp for a couple months, and then became a developer.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Wow. That is an amazing story. There's so much leg work involved in your story. You know, it's interesting that you went from doctor to journalist to software developer. I feel like maybe there's some crossover in some of those areas, but that's a very broad set of skills and interests.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yeah. It's a lot of leaps. Yeah.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Yeah. It's very interesting. In the process of doing this, making these changes, were you ever worried that you were maybe coming into it too late? Or, I don't know. I feel like lots of this was risk and accepting the fact that you've got sunk costs into the different things that you're doing. What was the emotional roller coaster that you went through in this whole process?

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yeah. I'm really motivated by frustration and reacting to frustration. When I was working at the startups and I felt like I couldn't contribute to the product, I was frustrated. I remember this one time, I was overseeing a dev shop who was building a tool for us, and I just had a hard time communicating with them because I didn't know what they were talking about. I didn't know what a feature was or what a bug was. Just simple things like that, I just had no idea. It was really hard for me to shape the product and really have input, and that was my job. My job was to oversee the product, and so that was really frustrating. I felt like when I bump up against frustration, I'm highly motivated to change at all costs.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    That was a lot of the journey. A lot of the journey was facing this frustration and going, "Okay, I need to get rid of this and I need to bring it back to some type of normal." That was the emotional journey, it was being frustrated. But I think that learning to code specifically was terrifying. It was really, really hard. And it was surprising for me how hard it was because a lot of my school was doing hard things. Organic chemistry is notoriously one of the most difficult premed classes you can take. No one likes organic chemistry,-

    Kent C. Dodds:
    No.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    ... let alone teaches organic chemistry. You know what I mean? To me, I was thinking if I can conquer organic chemistry, why can't I figure out what a while loop is doing? You know what I mean? It was such a different way of thinking for me, and it took me a long time to just wrap my mind around just very basic concepts. It made me feel like an idiot most of the time.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    I think it was remembering that frustration, remembering and just thinking, "Okay, well, you can't go back to that place where you weren't contributing, so the only path forward is really learning how to code and just figuring it out and trusting that if you hit this wall and hit the ceiling enough times, you'll eventually break through." For me, yeah, it's a story of fear and frustration.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Well. How do you feel about things now? Feeling pretty good now?

    Saron Yitbarek:
    I feel a lot-

    Kent C. Dodds:
    You made it through that.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yeah. I feel a lot better. I think the one thing I regret is that I wasn't working as a developer for that long. I went into doing management for a technical training program at Microsoft, and then with my business with Code Newbie, it's a company for developers but the company itself is content, right? Kind of similar to what you're doing is you're doing teaching, I was doing content production. I don't really get to code that much anymore, which is kind of unfortunate.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    One of the things, now that I have more time, that I want to get into is really focusing on my technical skills and trying to level up in that regard. Because it's funny, I feel like I worked so hard to become technical, and then after a couple years, I realized that maybe I could do things without needing to code all the time. So, it took my career in a slightly different direction which was unexpected, but now, I really want to get back into the middle of things.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    In that process, did you ever feel like, you know what? Maybe coding isn't for me and I should go do something else. What was your thought process around making these really impactful career switches? Why didn't you end up saying, you know what, coding is really hard or maybe it's not for me. Let me go try something else. What was it about each one of these stepping stones that made you stick with it for the time that you did?

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yeah. That's a great question. I really enjoyed coding. I finally got to a place where I overcame, not all of my fears, but a lot of them. Enough of them to really enjoy the moments when I did know what I was doing and things were coming together and I had things I could show off and things I could show my mom. You know those moments are always a lot of fun.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Those are great moments, yeah.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Those are great moments. She didn't really get it, but that's okay. I really enjoyed it. That's what made me stick with it, and even when I was doing my own business, where I was a CEO, I wasn't a software engineer. I still found any opportunity I could to build my own features and I built a bunch of admin tools and a bunch of things to support the podcast and publishing the podcast, and things that were just a lot of fun. For me, I never fully got away from it because I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a lot of fun.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    I think I always knew though, that to some degree, I didn't necessarily want to be a CTO or an architect. I don't think that I ever aspired to be a highly, highly technical, highly impactful individual contributor. I think that role has never quite appealed to me, but the idea of being able to build stuff and bring my ideas to life and create things that other people can use has always been really important to me. I think that over time, what I'm building has taken on different shapes, but at the core, I think the idea of being a builder has always been really close to heart.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I know that probably most people who are listening to this podcast can absolutely relate to just there's something about creating something, that process of creation is fascinating.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Through all of this time ... I'm trying to come up with a good segue way for this, but I'm failing at it. But one of the things that we talked about as we were getting ready to talk about this was how important it is for people to prepare for financial needs and making longterm financial decisions and that kind of thing. In the context of your own personal experience, why do you think that's so important?

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yeah. I love that question. I love talking about money. I think money is amazing and very important. Yeah, so for me, money played a big role in my journey. I don't really think there's a lot of opportunities to talk about that, just the role that money plays in just our ability to make certain decisions.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    When I graduated college and got that job as a fact checker, I moved to New York City for that position. It did not pay well at all. I ended up living with my now husband's father in upstate New York and commuted for two hours to the city because I just couldn't afford to live anywhere in the city. I could afford to live in the bad parts with multiple roommates, like there was no situation that worked for my finances.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    That was my life for a good four months until I got the startup job. With the startup job, I could afford to get my own place, but it was a combination of not getting paid very much, because it was entry-level job, and also just being really bad at money. That combination meant that I was living paycheck to paycheck and didn't think much of it. I remember my husband saying to me, "You should really start saving." I was like, "For what?" I want to go out to eat today and I want to go buy that outfit now. Why would I need to ...

    Saron Yitbarek:
    I didn't appreciate the value of saving until I got a job at a startup that was a very, very toxic environment. It was a terrible place to work. The boss was very sexist and everyone ended up quitting. I was the only woman, it was just a bad environment to be in. And I couldn't afford to quit. I just couldn't afford to. I was stuck. I remember thinking, "Oh, this is why you save," so you're not in this position where you have to stay at a job that you hate that makes you feel horrible every single day because you have nowhere to go. You know?

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Mm-hmm (affirmative).

    Saron Yitbarek:
    That was really the first money lesson that I learned. I said to myself, "If I'm ever in a position where I can save money, I'm going to save every penny, and I'm never ever going to put myself in this place ever again." The good thing about working in tech is, for most of us, we are able to save that money and we are able to have some cushion. I think it's really important to think longterm about that.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    The other big time when money played a big role is as a result of me not being able to quit, my husband ended up moving up with me, so he became my roommate. He moved up to New Jersey with me and we lived together, and that helped my finances so much. So, get a husband. It's been a great financial decision.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Yeah. That actually has worked out super well for me too.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Right?

    Kent C. Dodds:
    My wife is very much a saver, budgeter, that kind of person.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yeah, yeah. Roommates or partners in general, really good decisions. So, that really helped, and I was able to get another job relatively quickly, which was great. By the time I decided to quit and do a bootcamp, however, I had money saved, but not nearly as much as I needed to. I couldn't afford the tuition, and so I got a \$4,000 loan from my mom, and my husband agreed to take care of the bills for the three months that I wasn't working. That was what allowed me to do that bootcamp.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Again, it was one of those moments where I was like, man, if I didn't have a source of \$4,000 and if I wasn't essentially dating someone who had a stable, full-time job, where would I ... I definitely would not be having this conversation with you. I don't know where I would be.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Just another opportunity where I said to myself, "Wow, it's really important for me to save and think longterm and just to appreciate that money is freedom, money is power." Every time I negotiate, every time I go into a sponsorship negotiation or when I was working for someone else, a salary negotiation, I always kept that in the back of my mind.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Whenever I wanted to ask for a little bit more and I was afraid to, I'd think to myself, "I'm not asking for more, I'm asking for more freedom. I'm asking for more of a safety net, that's what I'm fighting for. And I'm fighting for the future me." That's been a really important part of just being financially stable and being able to just make better longterm decisions.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    There's so much goodness in there. Yeah. I'm trying to think of the best takeaways or the best ways to phrase the takeaways that I have from your story. I think that a lot of it has to do with I appreciate how cognizant you are of the privilege that you had-

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Absolutely.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    ... in that experience. If you hadn't had a boyfriend with a stable income and if you hadn't ... Actually, on that, I think that one of the reasons why having a partner where you share finances is you no longer can just buy an outfit and now you're just accountable to yourself. You're actually accountable to someone else and you have to answer to them and be like, "Yeah. Okay, so the reason that you couldn't get your thing is because I had to get my thing." So, that does help out a lot.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yeah.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    But also, that you had your mom who you could take that loan from. It's just recognizing that privilege, I think, is really important for people in general. To acknowledge the fact that yes, you worked really hard and we shouldn't discredit that, but when we acknowledge our privilege, I think that it does something in us to make us more helpful to people who are in a situation unlike our own where they have struggles that maybe we didn't experience ourselves.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Absolutely.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    It sounds like you were in some pretty tight spots yourself from your experiences. But everybody has some level of privilege and could do something to help others who don't have that same privilege, so that's wonderful. So, what would you say-

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yeah. There's this-

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Go ahead.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yeah, I was going to say there's this talk that I really like to give. I haven't given it in a little while, but it's called Lucky. It's basically me walking through all the different ways that I am privileged and how that's really set me up for success. The takeaway from that talk is I like to say that I was lucky first so I could work hard later.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    That's really the story of just my journey is feeling like that \$4,000 loan, that boyfriend with the job, the ability to have him move in with me, those kicked in at the very beginning of my journey and those set me up so that later on, I could decide to quit my job and start a company and not feel like it was a huge risk that I was taking.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    It set me up to negotiate because I knew that if they said no, I was going to be okay anyway. It set me up to make those better decisions in the future and for me to work hard later on. Yeah, I think privilege is super important. I think acknowledging that we're lucky is really important and I don't think it takes away from my story. I don't think that it takes away from the fact that I have worked really hard to get to where I am, so yeah.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Absolutely, absolutely. Let's say that somebody is struggling with this right now, with the saving money thing. What would you give to them as advice of something that they could do ... Some people are like, "Oh yeah, saving money, ha ha. I literally spend every cent on rent, on whatever, on food."

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Right.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    How do you help somebody with that kind of a situation?

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Ooh, that's a really tough one. Yeah. For me, what we've done in the past is we use a budgeting tool called YNAB, which is You Need A Budget, which is this really, really great tool that makes us just more critical on where we actually spend our money because we look at our bank account at the end of the month and go, "Where did all that go? It's gone. What happened?" And just realizing that we were spending money in ways that we didn't need to. It felt normal in the moment and it felt totally fine in the moment, but when you are really more critical, you realize that you do have little opportunities to save more money.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    I would say start there and be really, really honest with yourself and go, "Okay, sure. We don't have much at the end, but did we really need to buy that steak that one night? Could we have just gotten the pasta?" Just all those little decisions really do make a difference. But I do acknowledge there's a limit to that, right?

    Saron Yitbarek:
    At the end of the day, if all you have leftover is rent money and you need to spend money on rent and that's it, there's really not much to do. I think that's when we have to ask bigger questions of are there ways I can improve my work situation? Are there ways where I can live somewhere a little bit more affordable? That's when life changes might need to occur, and even those are so, so hard.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    When people say, "I learned to code and I taught myself," really what that means is I had a newborn and woke up at 4:00 AM and studied from 4:00 to 7:00 AM every day for two years and went and got a job. You know what I mean? Those are huge, huge sacrifices to take. But sometimes, that's what we have to do to get to where we want to go.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    First off, use an app like that to see if you really are able to save a little bit and make those little life changes. If even that's not enough, then it's time to ask some bigger questions and see how can we raise our income level? How can we live a little bit more affordably, and see what needs to be done to make those happen.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    That is such great advice. I think that just making yourself accountable to yourself, and this is part of what I meant when you have a partner that you're accountable to. But when you write it down, you're like, "Oh wow, I didn't realize that's how much I spend on coffee every month."

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yeah! Coffee is the big one. Oh my goodness.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Yeah.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    That latte feels like nothing and then you see you spent like \$100 on lattes and you're like, "Oh. Well, then."

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    That's a lot. Yeah.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    I don't think that you have to totally do away with everything that makes you happy in life or whatever, but yeah. Seeing that and being like, you know what? I think I'm going to go without that for a month and then I'll have something that I can actually do something with-

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yeah.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    ... and get started with, I think, is ... You're just writing it down in something like YNAB or something. It is a really great way to just wake yourself up to reality.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Exactly. Yeah. For us, the philosophy, and there's different philosophies behind different budgeting apps. The philosophy for YNAB is that every dollar should have a job, like you should be assigning every dollar a task. The way we think about it is, is this dollar bringing us joy? If we pay rent with this dollar, that is bringing us joy because it makes us happy to have a place to live. You know? That is joy.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    But it really helped make sure that we weren't ... We're not unhappy. We're not saving money to the point where we are miserable. We don't feel cheap. But it's also realizing that when I go out and I get three drinks, I'm not really any happier than I would have been if I had one drink. But that still made, especially in New York prices, that makes a \$40 difference. You know what I mean?

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Yeah.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    It's realizing that there are all these things that we do that we just don't really think much about. We just say, "Oh, it's only 40 bucks. It's only 20 bucks." But we realized that if they're not bringing us joy, all those little expenses that we save can actually lead up to something bigger at the end.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Oh, yeah. That's wonderful. Thank you so much for that. If that was all that we had to talk about, then this show would be awesome, but I actually do want to talk about a couple other things too.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Sure.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    One of the things that strikes me about your story is that, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me like you were never afraid to say that I can do that. Just going into premed school is a daring thing by itself, but then jumping into a totally different industry with journalism and then I think even a bigger leap from journalism into tech and saying "Oh, I can take three months off and learn how to code." I think there are a lot of people who would be like, "I'm not sure I'm able to do that."

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yeah, yeah.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Or I see this a lot where people are like, "I've been coding for two years," or maybe even five years. "How do I get out of this junior level feeling that I have?" There's something that's blocking them from feeling like they're able to get to the next level, whatever they see as the next level for themselves. Can you unpack that a little bit?

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yeah, sure, absolutely. I think there's a couple things. The first thing is, and I used to actually give another talk called Punch Your Feelings in the Face, which I think is a very, very important thing to do in certain situations. Not all situations, feelings are valuable and important. But I think that a lot of times, they hold us back.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    I have a career coach who's amazing. She's helped me through so many difficult career choices and decisions. She talks about the saboteur a lot, of this idea of this character in our mind who is always trying to bring us down and trying to take us in a different direction that we're just not meant to go. I think we all have our own different version of that voice. I think the first thing is recognizing when we do have that voice and recognizing that the best way to silence that voice is to act. When you talk about being brave, being brave isn't the absence of fear. It's being terrified and doing it anyway. Right? We can apply that to anything.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    If we're afraid of not being able to learn how to code, the best antidote for that is to learn how to code. You know? You don't have to be great at it. You don't have to walk out being a rockstar unicorn 10Xer. You can walk out just having completed that one tutorial and you will have won. I think that being able to meet those feelings with actions and trusting that if you act over and over again, you will have the proof that your feeling is wrong. You can't tell me I don't know how to do something when I did it. I can see it, it's right there. I can share it with my friends, I've done it.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    I think one of the most powerful things for me is just to start, to get started, to take it one step at a time, to take it one day at a time, to do that small task that feels more doable than that bigger goal, and trust that eventually, I'll get to that bigger goal and I'll be able to silence any voices that I had.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    When I was learning how to code, I was very, very much like, "I'm too stupid for this. This is not for me. I just can't figure this out." I said to myself, "Okay, that's fine. We feel these feelings, we acknowledge these feelings. We're going to give ourselves 30 days to just do it anyway. No matter how stupid you feel, you're going to wake up, you're going to code for eight hours, and at the end of that month, then we can reevaluate and make a decision. But until that month is over, you're just going to deal with these feelings and just do it anyway."

    Saron Yitbarek:
    So, that's my biggest advice is punch your feelings in the face, acknowledge when that needs to happen, and just do the actions, do the work, and trust that the feelings will have to change because you now have data. You have proof that they are wrong.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    You know? I love that so much. One thing that I really just want to call out specifically about what you said is when you said I'm going to give myself 30 days, and at the end of those 30 days, then we'll reevaluate at that time. But I'm just going to punch my feelings in the face right now and blast through this.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    When I was a kid, I wanted to go into the NBA. I don't know. Many kids do want that, like some professional sport or something. Maybe I could have accomplished that, but I think there are definitely some things that we're just maybe physically incapable of doing or that we're just not cut out for it for one reason or another. But I think there's a voice in our heads that says we're worse than we really are.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yes.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    From what it sounds like in your experience, you fought back at that voice and said, "You know what? Maybe you're right. It's possible you're right. But I'm going to see if I can prove you wrong." I think that is a really valuable golden nugget of advice is to just say, and the way that you put it before we started the show is you said, "Don't self-select out of things."

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yes.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Just because you don't think that you're worth a six figure salary, you're worth a six figure salary if that's what they offer to you.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Exactly. It's all about the market. It's like whatever the market decides you are worth, that is ... Listen to the market. The market is more right than you are right, so yeah.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Yeah. Absolutely. That's just wonderful. One last thing that I want to pull out of your life experience, if we can call it that way, another thing that I noticed is it seems like you were pretty fearless. You were driven by fear and frustration as you said earlier, but you didn't really seem to hesitate when you decided, "You know what? This isn't working. Boom. I'm going to go do something else."

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Was that really the experience? How would you motivate somebody who's like, "Oh, I don't know. I'm kind of on the fence. Should I really get going into this?" They just are an analysis paralysis situation.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yeah. For me, the way I've been able to make relatively quick decisions, even when it feels like big life decisions, is I focus on my regret. I focus on okay, if I don't do this, what is going to happen? It's usually that's what motivates me the most.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    I'll look at something and I'll go, "Okay, if I don't do this bootcamp, what does that mean? That means I'm stuck at this position that I don't like forever and I'm not getting paid ..." I'll make it really dramatic. I'll be like, "I'm going to be stuck here forever with this life that I'm not happy about and not making as much money as I know I can make, falling behind all these people that I admire. Can we really put up with that? Of course, we can't put up with that, and now we must make a change."

    Saron Yitbarek:
    That's been really useful for me is just figuring out if I don't take this action, what is the worst case scenario, and focusing on that worst case scenario and deciding that it's not worth it to me to risk that worst case scenario, and my best option is to make that decision that seems a little bit scary. So, really picturing and visualizing that worst case has been really useful to me.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    That sounds so great. If you don't mind, there's something very similar that Ryan Florence told me when I was trying to make a big career decision. He said, "Well, you need to think about three scenarios. Think about what you would experience or how you would feel about your life when you're in your eighties thinking back on life in these three different scenarios. Either you don't do it at all or you do it and it doesn't work out, or you don't do it and it does work out. Based on how that all plays out in your mind can really help inform your decision."

    Saron Yitbarek:
    I love that.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Then you have to weigh the risk of how likely is it to not work out and all of that, but that really helps me. In my experience, it's helped me to frame things in a good way.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Love that, yeah. That's great. That's a beautiful way to put it.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Wonderful. Well, Saron, this has been such a wonderful chat with you. Thank you so much for giving me your time today and the audience. If they were here, I'm sure they'd be clapping and saying thank you. If you're listening right now, you can go ahead and clap and say thank you and all the people look around at you kind of weird.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    But yeah, so we want to give the audience two pieces of homework based on our conversation today, and I'll just go ahead and tell everybody those things. The first one, and I love this idea. This is Saron's piece of homework for you. Start a gratitude journal. Do you want to just describe to the audience what a gratitude journal is?

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Sure, yeah. We got this idea from this video series on YouTube called In a Nutshell. Highly, highly recommend it, these beautiful animations that talk about all kinds of scientific topics. They do a lot of space and biology, that sort of thing. They had one on dissatisfaction and on the antidote for dissatisfaction and how do you live a happier, more fulfilling life. All of the data and the research shows that the antidote for dissatisfaction is gratitude. It's literally just taking a moment to look at your life, your surroundings, and just be grateful for the things that you have.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    One of the things that scientists recommend that you do is to keep a gratitude journal. Every night, we keep it at the side of our bed on our nightstand. We have this journal and every night, we write down five things that we're really grateful for. Sometimes, they're huge things like I'm grateful that the world is still spinning and people are still existing. Other times, it's super small like I'm really glad I had those strawberries for my snack today. Those strawberries were extra sweet. It could be really small like that. We write them every day, and we've been doing it for the last couple months.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    It's really changed just our outlook on everything. It's really changed those days, especially it's come really in handy especially on those days where you have a bad day and it's a bad mental health day and you're just discouraged. When you take a moment, you take literally a couple minutes to just look around and go, "You know what? Things aren't quite as bad." There's still some joy even in the darkness. Those have been really helpful and I highly recommend doing a gratitude journal.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Oh, that's wonderful.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    I should say it takes at least a month for it to really kick in. Give it at least a month to see if you feel any different about things, and then let me know how it goes.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Yeah. Great, yeah. I have done a gratitude journal, but only for two weeks, so I am going to give this a try.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    There you go.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Our second piece of homework for everybody is, and actually this one's a really good one, this is the jobs one. Do you want to describe it, Saron?

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Sure. Yeah. People ask me all the time, "I'm interested in getting into tech, into learning how to code, but I'm not sure where to start. There's so many different languages and frameworks and tools and technologies I could learn. Where do I begin?"

    Saron Yitbarek:
    My one piece of advice for them is I say, "Go look up your dream job. What is a dream job you have, the dream company you want to work for? Write down five options for yourself. If you could have any job right now at the best company you could think of, what are those jobs? Find those job postings. Put them in a spreadsheet. Figure out what the keywords and what the required skills are for each job. See what each job has in common, and then that's your list, that's your curriculum. That's the stuff that you need to learn. Out of that list, pick one technology, one tool, one language that you recognize that has been repeated across these job postings and start learning that one thing."

    Kent C. Dodds:
    That's perfect. Perfect. Something I can put on a list and check it off, so I hope that people listening do that. If you're not experiencing your dream job right now, then absolutely experience it.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Mm-hmm (affirmative).

    Kent C. Dodds:
    This is a great place to start. What's the best way for people to connect with you, Saron, if they would like to tell you about how their gratitude journal is going?

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Yeah. Twitter is the best place, so you can tweet me @saronyitbarek, so just my first name last name. My DMs are open, although I'm very bad at checking them, so it might take me a while to get back to you. But you could still DM me and I will eventually respond, I promise.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    Very good, awesome. Well, thank you so much. This has been such a pleasure to chat with you, and I hope that the audience has really enjoyed this as well and we can all be a little bit more grateful and just go for whatever we're trying to do, and budget.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    And budget. There you go.

    Kent C. Dodds:
    All right. Thanks, everyone. We'll see you all later.

    Saron Yitbarek:
    Thank you.

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