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illustration for Creating Authentic Content and Developing Yourself - with Emma Wedekind

episode 41 Joel Hooks

Creating Authentic Content and Developing Yourself - with Emma Wedekind

Web development is a fantastic field where people, for little to no money, can self-teach everything you need to make a career, and it's amazing, right? That doesn't mean that there isn't a time cost though, it isn't easy, but the internet has an overwhelming amount of information that you can use to teach yourself. Authors who write this free content are the life-blood of the internet and provide an invaluable service to countless people.

However, in the sea of information, it's easy for your content never to get noticed. You wrote that blog-post that killer blog-post on medium, but no-one seemed to have seen it. Where you write your content is important, there are communities like the amazing dev.to that reach a specific audience and are more focused towards engagement, but the reason why you create your content is also important. People can smell inauthenticity if you are writing your content for the sole purpose of brand-building and getting views people are going to notice. Create content that you love and that you find interesting. You don't even have to be an absolute expert to teach, writing about what you are learning helps people learn right along with you!

Learning a discipline you love profoundly is invaluable, but that doesn't mean you should turn a blind eye to other subjects. It's valuable to have a breadth of general knowledge across different disciplines and be able to have high-level conversations.

A huge part of learning is asking people good questions. When you don't ask good questions, you are doing both yourself and the person you are asking a disservice. When you are too vague about what you are missing, and you don't give enough context, it's difficult to get a clear answer, and you are putting the burden of figuring that stuff out on the person you are asking.


Transcript

"Creating Authentic Content and Developing Yourself - with Emma Wedekind" Transcript

Resources:

Emma Wedekind:

Joel Hooks

Transcript

Joel Hooks: Hi Emma.

Emma Wedekind: Hey how's it going?

Joel Hooks: It feels like the internet want's to know how to code. The whole entire internet, I know people ask you for help and they want to get started and when they do what do you tell people, like if they're just getting started, what do you tell people in terms of learning how to code?

Emma Wedekind: Well I get several messages from people who say 'I'm thinking about making a huge career shift or my wife or my husband or my friend is thinking about making the shift, should they do it?' And I always so absolutely, but you have to go in being aware of the fact that it will take dedication, you can't join any field and not put in the time and effort, right? This just so happens to be a field were you can teach yourself everything that you need to be successful and you can do it for little to no money at all, which is incredible but that doesn't mean you don't need to put in the hours.

Emma Wedekind: So there are a couple of resources that I would suggest people to start with, one is 'Free Code Camp' because it's awesome and it's amazing and its free and ... Quincy Larson has done an incredible thing, building that community. I actually used it the other day, I went and took the entire Reg Ex thing and then I made that blog post that blew up the internet, because no one understands Reg Ex right? Just because I've been in this industry and just because I went to school for Computer Science doesn't mean that I don't still have trouble understanding certain things so, I would recommend Free Code Camp, also there are so many podcasts out there, like Egghead Podcast, obviously, is a great place to start, the Free Code Camp [crosstalk 00:01:29]

Joel Hooks: Sure.

Emma Wedekind: if you're a newbie, and also The Change Logger are all really great ones that I found recently.

Joel Hooks: I love Wes Bos' Syntax FM too, I think there's is really good as well.

Emma Wedekind: Yeah, there are so many and I don't have enough time to listen to all of them, I need to [crosstalk 00:01:42]

Joel Hooks: Yeah.

Emma Wedekind: Make more time.

Joel Hooks: Yeah. It's like a massive stack.

Emma Wedekind: I know, yeah and also there so many blogs out there, I gotta say Ben Halpern is killing the game with his practical DEV site, there are a lot of great posts for beginners on there, but one [crosstalk 00:01:57]

Joel Hooks: That's at dev.to?

Emma Wedekind: Yeah, dev.to, yup. My biggest piece of advice would be don't get overwhelmed.

Joel Hooks: Like that site in particular to me is really interesting, I'm trying to figure it out because you get there, and it's a stream of posts and what they're allowing everyone to do is basically use it as a syndication platform [crosstalk 00:02:11]

Emma Wedekind: Yeah.

Joel Hooks: As well as an original content platform, and it's almost overwhelming at first, but once you start paying attention I think the patterns emerge and I know you spent time on there and I was wondering how do you use dev.to ... personally, like what's your reading and writing habits on that site?

Emma Wedekind: I subscribe to all of the ... the topics like JavaScript and I like the discussion ones too because I like to have discussions with people and learn new things, but anything tech related goes on DevTo, I find personally, I was actually asked the other day between Medium and DevTo which one do I prefer, like what are the differences. In terms of technical blog posts I highly recommend practical Dev, I feel like the engagement is much higher, because you're really only getting developers on that right versus Medium is kind of like the entire universe is on there and I never get as much engagement, I also find a platform way easier for code snippets and embedding different mediums, for lack of a better term into it, so yeah, I would say there are so many awesome people on there as well. Everyone on there is doing great work and I do like the discussions part, because I think then it opens up the door to knowledge sharing versus Medium is really just a place for static posting. The comments section really, at least in my experience it's never been a conversation starter.

Joel Hooks: I'm just going to say it, I think Medium is garbage and nobody should put any of their content on there ever. That's, that's me and that's my opinion, that's where I'm at with that particular website.

Emma Wedekind: Yeah, I have a love hate relationship with it , the one thing I did like was that I could write drafts, and they would auto save, like that was super useful for me, because [crosstalk 00:03:44]

Joel Hooks: Design wise it's amazing, it's a beautiful site, I mean its homogenous, everything kind of looks the same, the editing experience is pretty cool, they've started randomly throwing paywalls up on context that you've put up there in the past, and you know not necessarily sending out checks, they do stuff like that

Emma Wedekind: Right.

Joel Hooks: I just don't, I feel in some ways the same about YouTube, honestly like that's, you know, that's why we do Egghead, right? We want to make a place where developers can go and put their content up there, and it's not like driving people away from pure content, I don't know, did that make sense?

Emma Wedekind: Right.

Joel Hooks: It's not an ad platform.

Emma Wedekind: Right.

Joel Hooks: Because there's no way Medium can ever go outside of being an ad platform, because you know it's got like a hundred and thirty-five million dollars in investment, and those people want returns, so you know.

Emma Wedekind: Right, right.

Joel Hooks: How are they going to get that? And we are the product, our words are the product so, you know, own your words is my advice, like DevTo, does it differently because they're allowing you to economical URLs right, so you can still get credit for your work, I think is important.

Emma Wedekind: Yeah. And I like, to be honest, I like the way that they socially interact with the community, like they always retweet their, the blog posts that people post and they're very active in that and I think that's great, like if I'm on a platform, the fact that they will help me grow as an author, like that's just pretty incredible. To me it kind of feels like, like I don't hate Medium, I think that there are a lot of benefits to it, but it does feel like there's more of an ... I don't want to say ego, it feels like ... a very, pretty rigid right? Like it's a nice minimalist concept but there's not as much room to be creative, or to differentiate, I wouldn't say, I think yeah. I'm migrating all my tech ones over.

Joel Hooks: Ben and the rest of that company are doing an, a really amazing thing ... they don't, they're basically taking donations, to run the site, and you know some sponsorships, but it's not, there's not this huge push for them to monetize what they've done, and I have so much respect for what they've built, and I love the community, because it feels like a community versus Medium [crosstalk 00:05:43]

Emma Wedekind: It does.

Joel Hooks: Which is, you're just going there to drop a post.

Emma Wedekind: It's a business, right.

Joel Hooks: Yeah.

Emma Wedekind: Yeah, absolutely.

Joel Hooks: Yeah, you're going to drop a post and take off and hopefully you get some, some engagement and increase your brand, or whatever you know. There's, they've been getting a lot of flack lately, I'm not the only person yelling at Medium right now, but I don't wanna pile on too much.

Emma Wedekind: No, I know. One misconception I will say I hear all the time is like 'What should I blog about, or like why should I blog about a topic if someone's already written it?' And that's kind of two fold, one you don't have to blog, like there are a ton of different ways that you can share your knowledge with the world, whether that's with like github projects, open source contributions, YouTube videos, find your niche and own it, right. You don't have to blog. And second thing is like, just because a topic's been written about doesn't mean that you don't have a unique experience. Or if I like, not double negating myself, just you know, if you have knowledge, share it, like someone will find use out of it so yeah.

Joel Hooks: I actually run into this a lot, and we get people who want to create content like Egghead and it's like well there's another lesson, someones already said this, and to me it's almost every perspective is unique, and not you know, if you're not plagiarizing

Emma Wedekind: Right.

Joel Hooks: If you're taking the [inaudible 00:06:52] of the resources that you've looked at then running that through the funnel of your experience, your voice is valid. It's like is there too may tutorials on low dash on the internet, like how many low dash tutorials probably exist and if you write another one is that too many? And the answer is no, people want multiple sources, and they want to hear multiple voices and see multiple opinions on things.

Emma Wedekind: Well it's funny because I'll do one of those Twitter polls and I'm like 'Oh do you guys want to see a blog post on ... I don't know, cat breeds.' And everyone's like 'No, there's like a thousand videos on cat breeds.' And other people are all like 'Well it's free content, like why are you saying no?' And it's true, why would you really say no to more knowledge I mean, it is what it is, you know maybe my words help someone who up until that point couldn't grasp the concept, but I was having a conversation with me husband earlier in the car and we were talking about ... unique ideas and it's like we're in the day and age where almost no idea is completely unique, right. So how do you be unique and not plagiarized? And one of the best ways to do that ... I forget who said it I fell like it was Sarah Drasner but I could be wrong so don't quote me on this but someone said 'To create unique content, you know it's okay to read what other people have written or watch what they have created and then think about it for a day or two and let it sink in.

Emma Wedekind: And then kind of, not regurgitate it, but if you were to explain this to someone, how would you explain it, and at that point you've digested it enough and like formed your own opinions about a topic to where it is a unique opinion on it, so yeah it's definitely a balancing act, though.

Joel Hooks: Yeah well it's in your own words, right? Like if you, you know obviously if you were cutting and pasting like don't do that and if you do, do that put it in a block quote and give credit and add a link. Which is fine too, right, and if your just like hey I'm going to express my understanding of this concept and to me, I would do that with emails, or whatever and if somebody said something to me and I want to repeat it back to them, so to make sure that I understand it in a way that makes sense to both of us. And it's similar in a lot of ways, it's almost conversational.

Emma Wedekind: Absolutely.

Joel Hooks: So something that I've heard you talk about is this idea of being T shaped

Emma Wedekind: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Joel Hooks: As a developer and I was wondering if you could tell me more about what being T shaped means and why that's a benefit, and why that's something that we should think about.

Emma Wedekind: The general concept behind being T shaped is ... two folds, so one you have a breath across a different, a discipline, so for example I would call myself T shaped in the sense that I have a breath of knowledge about development and design as a whole. So I have some working knowledge of a UX design and a visual design, I have some working knowledge of data base and APIs and then the second part where you have a depth within a certain discipline or like an area of expertise so like I would say my area of expertise is primarily in the front end, right?

Emma Wedekind: I would say maybe towards accessibility, that would be my deep vertical knowledge, so being T shaped is important because while you know expertise in one specific knowledge area is extremely important, if you are kind of living in the silo where you don't have any confidence across other disciplines, it can get really hairy when you need to integrate, or create like a full site application, like okay let's say I have a vertical knowledge of building a front end website but now I need to hook it up to a data base, and if I have no knowledge of what even is a data base, or like where do I even start like that can get pretty hard so, gain a lot of knowledge in a lot of different areas it doesn't have to be deep, it can be pretty surface level.

Joel Hooks: Like vocabulary almost.

Emma Wedekind: Yeah ... I mean I took one database course when I was in school and I know enough to be able to have a conversation about, okay what is a relational database, what is this thing that people are freaking out, called Graph QL, like to be able to have a high level conversation, is very valuable and I would say it makes me a better developer and it makes other people better developers, so yeah just because something isn't exactly your area of expertise it doesn't mean that you shouldn't go out and learn it if it interests you

Joel Hooks: Yeah so when we're learning stuff it often means we need to get out there and we're asking questions and we're trying to figure it out and I think part of that, you know it's like having the vocabulary, and you're talking about and that's your horizontal knowledge.

Emma Wedekind: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Joel Hooks: And like asking good questions is so important and I was wondering have you had any experience asking good questions versus asking bad questions.

Emma Wedekind: Oh yeah and only because I've asked terrible questions during my life.

Joel Hooks: Yeah me too.

Emma Wedekind: You know what it's a skill that's not appreciated enough, is asking good questions. It was at the point where I would not even take the time to try tp find the answer before I would just go bother my co-workers, and it's just a disservice to both of us, right? I'm not trying to help myself at all and I'm wasting their time so, let's say you're solving a problem and you get stuck, the first thing you should do is write out a list of things you know that you need in order to solve this problem, right? And then from there what information do you already know? And then what pieces of information are you missing? And then the next thing is how do you find this missing information? And that kind of lays into problem solving, and I believe Ali Spiddle is going to come out with a problem solving course soon, you should go check her out if you haven't.

Emma Wedekind: This is an area that I always struggle with, what questions to you ask when you don't even know where to start? So, if you want to ask a good, well informed question that you'll get a lot of benefit from, you have to first try to solve it. And once your suck, right like don't sit around a problem for two weeks, if it gets to the point where you're spending an hour or more on a problem that could be solved within five minutes of talking to a co-worker like at that point you should probably go and just talk to someone, but do make sure that you've done a little bit of high level research. And you're well informed to be able to have a discussion and you're not just going in to say 'Hey, like uh how do I uh.' Find an element in a ray, like how do I grab an aray element. That's the kind of stuff you should know enough to be like 'Alright, well like I know that I'm working with an Aray maybe I'll start with a documentation and I'll look through there and see what methods are available.

Emma Wedekind: But one thing that I would suggest is, if you're going to ask a question keep it simple, if you make a question overly complicated and have several parts it's gonna be kind of confusing. So I would say just like, find out what pieces of information are missing to sold our problem and then ask very simple questions, because once you break it down ... [crosstalk 00:13:11]

Joel Hooks: A paragraph verse in an essay?

Emma Wedekind: Yeah, if you break it, like that's even how you would construct a blog post or like a ... talk right, it's like break it into bullet points. That's essentially what you want to do with a problem that you're trying to solve, is break it into bullet points, hae one line be one piece of information and like go from there.

Joel Hooks: Yeah, one of my favorite, I think all time resources for asking questions and Stack Overflow they have a how to ask article, they actually have an entire section of their help center revolved around asking, but this how do I ask a good question article, is really great and pretty simple in and of itself. And like oh yeah, I've been asking bad questions. Like I need to up my question asking game, like the benefits of that are immense, one I think people answer you more, and you get better answers but then they also read, know that you respect them and respect their time because you ask good questions and [crosstalk 00:14:02]

Emma Wedekind: Right.

Joel Hooks: Their just more ops to, you know allow you that, because I think we have social credit. [crosstalk 00:14:07]

Emma Wedekind: Absolutely.

Joel Hooks: With people and when you ask good questions, you're drawing from that. So that's something to be aware of. [crosstalk 00:14:13]

Emma Wedekind: That's so true.

Joel Hooks: Yeah.

Emma Wedekind: I never thought about it like that.

Joel Hooks: Yeah I mean you know if you're going around and you ... people always want, want mentors, you know I see this so much and you'll get emails or direct messages or whatever and it's like 'Hey will you be my mentor?' And I think that's such a, to me it's like an odd question, I understand where it comes from but it, it's, I don't think it's the way to start that.

Emma Wedekind: Right.

Joel Hooks: That question should be something different, like how do you ease into that, and have you see this, the idea of everybody want's and needs mentors and they're asking for it specifically 'Will you be my mentor?'

Emma Wedekind: Yeah, for sure and I get messages like this and while I would love to help everyone, the problem with saying 'Will you be my mentor,' is well what type of mentorship are you looking for right? Like for me I would always, let's say I wanted to enhance my web animation skills and so I messaged Sarah Drasner, and I was like 'Hey can you be my mentor?' Like that doesn't tell her anything that I'm looking for, but if I'm like 'Hey I saw your course on web animations, I think that you're really well versed in this, would you have time for maybe one at house session mentorship where I can send you maybe a list of questions ahead of time and then we can just have a little discussion about it.'

Emma Wedekind: And if you respect someone's time enough to do the heavy lifting, on the mentorship side, like yes mentorships are a two way street, where like you can both learn things from each other but realistically the person asking for the mentorship, is typically a mentee looking to get the majority out of this relationship, and as a result the majority of the responsibility should be on them to do the preparations, so as opposed to saying 'Would you be my mentor,' say 'Hey, you I see that you're well versed in AB and C, I am looking at enhancing my skills in these, if send you over a couple of questions would you be able to help me understand them.

Emma Wedekind: And that's always what I tell people is like 'Hey, I don't have a ton of time for a mentorship,' right, because that term is so broad, 'But if you have specific questions I am more than happy to help. I'll get on a little call with you, or I'll send you messages,' whatever but yeah.

Joel Hooks: So, I mean all of hour work that you've done, all of the blogging that you've done, all of this work that you've put out there is, to me literally very, very pointedly a form of mentorship if somebody wants to go learn from you and learn what you know, like just your practice that you've done has provided that for people, and to me the same is true like Sarah, I can't even imagine what her inbox looks like.

Emma Wedekind: Right, I know

Joel Hooks: I try to imagine it and it completely blows my mind but if you think about what Sarah's done and where she has produced, you know content, or the front end master stuff, which is amazing and you can literally pay her via Front End Masters to get what, to me very, very close to mentorship and I understand everyone want's pis poke right, like I want you to hear my problems and I want to be heard.

Emma Wedekind: Right.

Joel Hooks: But at the same time, if you record something, whether it's video or a book, Sarah has a great book, all that stuff is a form of mentorship and if you've consumed all that and your questions are so, you know deep that you need to contact that person, one you have to know if they're in the advice business because a lot of people aren't, and I say pay people to be mentors, like that's fine but that's if they are in the advice business and so 'You can pay me to be your mentor.' But if that specific person can't maybe you can pay somebody else, like I've paid almost every single mentor that I've ever had.

Emma Wedekind: Yeah.

Joel Hooks: Like cash for their time, and I say that and then people will email me and say 'Hey, can I pay you to be my mento?' And I'm like that's not what I'm saying.

Emma Wedekind: Yeah.

Joel Hooks: That's not, that's not what I'm saying, that isn't how it works but you know it's like why don't you look at the sum, whole of what's available. People are just so, need direction just as a [crosstalk 00:17:46]

Emma Wedekind: Yeah.

Joel Hooks: As species, we crave direction and personal attention, where our problems aren't necessarily unique.

Emma Wedekind: I never thought about content producing, as a form of mentorship and you're not the first one to, to say this but now that you mention it, it's true, I mean it's like asynchronous mentorship if you think about it.

Joel Hooks: Yeah.

Emma Wedekind: I personally produce content because I need to learn a skill and once I learn it, I want to share that with the world, but also remember it for myself, like that regex thing, like everyone was all like 'Oh you understand regex!' And I'm like 'No I really don't.' Like I, I created that so I could go back and look at it later.

Joel Hooks: Those fifteen minutes there there you really understood regex, but now you're going to have to have to re-reference your own article.

Emma Wedekind: Exactly, yeah.

Joel Hooks: The best is when your own article comes up in your google search, like that's the, like to me that's the biggest smile on my face, ever.

Emma Wedekind: It's so funny though because sometimes I'll reread my articles and I'm like oh my God I'm so smart. Like oh my God I wrote this, like who am I? And then I'm like oh crap, I need to write better posts because recently I've been slacking, this old stuff is real great.

Joel Hooks: Right.

Emma Wedekind: I mean that's a good feeling though, when you reread your old stuff and you're like 'Oh, I've learned a lot.' And it's, part of my blog posts are too almost a form of therapy for myself because at least the ... not the super technical ones but the higher level ones that just talk about the industry like 'Oh, how to write a cool resume and get hired in the Tech Industry.' Or 'How to do great on your interviews.' Like these are almost a form of, like therapeutic form of, they help me process my feelings and experiences in this industry.

Joel Hooks: I mean it's a journal right? Like at the end of the day [crosstalk 00:19:22]

Emma Wedekind: Exactly!

Joel Hooks: And it's professional, so it's a professional journal and you're writing it in a certain way for you know the broader internet but it's for you, I write for myself.

Emma Wedekind: Right.

Joel Hooks: Like first and foremost, you know

Emma Wedekind: Exactly

Joel Hooks: I'm the audience.

Emma Wedekind: A lot of people are like 'Oh, how do you get followers on social media, like how do I get people to my blog now?' And I'm like, well the first step is don't write content for the sole purpose of having other people read it, write content, or like, okay that came out wrong. But like write content because you love it and you're interested in it, not because you want to get views and I think that's the biggest misconception is like okay if you think the public want's to hear about topic X and you don't even like that topic no ones gonna want to read your stuff, if you don't want to read your own stuff, no one else will, right? So right about the things you're passionate in or like make videos about the stuff that you love and then people will be drawn to that.

Joel Hooks: Yeah. Yeah and I mean people want, one they want expert's but they also want authenticity, that's important so you know lyou can be out there, and there's all sorts of ways to kind of fake it or work on your personal brand and like I employ content strategy, I get all that stuff, but at the same time if you're not authentic and your not, you know being true, people smell that and that's what they crave, they want people there that have something to say that have a voice and you know give good advice too, that's really important at the end of the day, like if you are saying things and it actually works and you know true problems with real solutions.

Emma Wedekind: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Joel Hooks: And at the end of the day the audience will follow, like it's like that Field of Dreams, build it and they will come kind of thing.

Emma Wedekind: Yeah, yeah I love that.

Joel Hooks: Which is trite, but like at the same time its true, if you do, if you consistently put out you know useful and helpful material at the end of the day the audience will show up because you're going to have a certain section of the vast sea of humans on the internet.

Emma Wedekind: Well that's funny because that's what got me back on Twitter was like I had a co-worker, and he was like 'Oh yeah, people are sharing your blog on Twitter.' And I was like 'Oh yeah I forgot Twitter was a thing.' And like I haven't used this since college and I had like three hundred followers so I was like alright I'll get back on twitter, and I was like 'Oh cool, people are sharing my blogs.' And that is why I got on Twitter was to share content and learn from other people, and then he was right, he was like if you post people will come and I'm like okay, well alright let's try it and I just kept posting blog posts and tweets and I was very consistent, sporadically consistent, but consistent, and he was right people will eventually come. You just have to passionate and consistent.

Joel Hooks: Yeah, yeah, my friends Amy and Alex have a blog called Stacking The Bricks and to me that phrase stacking the bricks, is what it's really all about, you know every time you write a post or sometimes even a tweet, those, Twitters weird, but you know every time you write a blog post or do something with depth, you're putting a brick, you're building your wall and presence and overall audience. But it's a slow and methodical process kind of over time.

Emma Wedekind: Yeah, there are people like on Twitter in noticed specifically that they just want to get followers and all they care about it follower count and to me that's kind of backwards, right, if you cared about the content first that's what's really important but not only that, I don't think people see the negative side of so called Social Media fame right, like I wouldn't say I'm famous but having a certain number of followers comes with down sides and I don't think people see that, I think people only see the positive sides of this internet fame so to say,.

Joel Hooks: Yeah.

Emma Wedekind: So, yeah.

Joel Hooks: No I mean and you did, ou blew up a little bit on Twitter over the last year and it changes, like the whole thing changes right? Like if you're writing and it's going to a thousand people, fifty of those people actually only see the Tweet, but you get people who get into the six figures of, you basically can't have an opinion without spending a day thinking about it unless you just want to be annihilated.

Emma Wedekind: Yeah.

Joel Hooks: And it doesn't matter what you say, you're going to get, you know there's going to be fifty, like the same percentage of folks that are going to be really mad about it, and then some that you know are going to be really passionate about what you have to say and that puts you in a box, a weird box.

Emma Wedekind: It is.

Joel Hooks: Twitters a weird space in general, I think.

Emma Wedekind: I forget ... I was in a podcast recently and I was asked 'Does the fear of having what you say being taken out of context keep you from producing content?' And I'm like well I don't think it keeps me from producing stuff but I'm hyper aware of how I say things now because if you ... first of all Twitter, you have a hundred and forty characters so there's only so much you can say unless you want to write a novel, but if you don't kind curate what you put out there people will come and they will rain on your parade and that is mentally, extremely difficult and no one, I don't, I try to be very transparent about this stuff, like on the internet because I feel like there's a stigma about being transparent about the negative sides of things, whether that be mental health, or dealing with negative things on social media like we should be openly talking about these things because there's nothing wrong with it and you should never feel ashamed for having to take mental health break from social media or like from things in general. It's a double edge sward.

Joel Hooks: I took a week off of Twitter, I'm a twitter fanatic, I spent an accessive amount of time just scrolling and then I do, it's part of my job right, like I need to keep a breast and see who's doing what and that sort of thing. But you know, they, like the likes and retweets and metrics side of all this can be such a ... it affects us at a deep level, as humans, and triggers the internal dopamine releases and all that fun stuff, they're playing a game for them though, they're playing on us.

Emma Wedekind: It is.

Joel Hooks: And they do it very skillfully.

Emma Wedekind: Or like either, I don't know if it's classically conditioning ourselves or operantly conditioning ourselves to like continue to scroll, my screen time, I don't even want to take a look at it, I had to disable screen time because it was like you're officially, your brain is turning into a pile of mush, it's like yeah I know, but to some extent that how you build a brand and that's how you build, you know your company but it does definitely take toll mentally.

Joel Hooks: Yeah. And ignore for today, screen limit three just ignore for today.

Emma Wedekind: Great, right, I don't care let me in!

Joel Hooks: Give me my metrics.

Joel Hooks: So for onlookers speaking of, like looking at Emma and you blogging and producing and making content and doing the thing, you appear relentlessly productive, and I'm wondering how do you balance that in terms of your life and work and the separation between the two and is there a separation or is it all just kind of the same thing?

Emma Wedekind: Surface level I seem like I have my life together but sub-surface level I'm a hot mess.

Joel Hooks: Same.

Emma Wedekind: And I think, well okay I wouldn't say hot mess right, but it's, it's not as perfect as things seem so very recently I tweeted about the fact that I feel anxious or I feel bad about myself if I'm not doing something to further my career, further my skill set, like if I need time to read a book, which is my favorite hobby, I feel like I'm being unproductive and I get really antsy, and that's not healthy because you do need to make time to relax so what I was odin wrong was trying to do everything at the same time and when you multitask you just by default are ... destroying your chances at succeeding any of these things.

Emma Wedekind: Jason Langstorp had an awesome talk about how he cut his working hours in half and managed to get twice as much done, and I highly recommend people go check that out because it's all about time boxing things, maybe like the Pamadora Techinique works for you but I always have a to do list that I make whether that's a long term one or day to day, I also like to time box my tasks and much as I can because we have this flow state that Jason talks about if you go listen to his talk, the amount of flow state you can have, whether that's forty-five minutes or sixty minute sessions to focus on one task, turn off all of your notifications, and yeah instead of tryin gto focus on all of these things at once I'm like alright well I need to learn German so I'll do that two days a week during my lunch break, right.

Emma Wedekind: okay so that's taken care of, and then maybe Tuesdays and Thursdays I work on my coding coach thing or maybe I get up fifteen minutes earlier and do some open source grooming, so I would recommend focus on one to two main things, and focus on them until they're done, and that could take a week, that could take months, but try not to multitask and when you're really trying to work turn off notifications because I gotta tell you I turned off all notifications on my phone, I set do not disturb on my laptop and I just try and get things done, but when you time box yourself I feel like it's almost like if I don't put a time box I'll spend all day like screwing around for lack of a better term, like I'll get distracted I'll go on YouTube. But if I know that I have sixty minutes to do a task, I just kick butt and I get it done, while superficially it looks like I have it all together, it's something I continually struggle with and you've got to consciously make an effort to keep being productive but also make sure to schedule time to relax because you will burn out.

Joel Hooks: yeah I left my phone at the office basically I took a week off from work and also left my phone at the office, like that was one approach I took, its so hard, if it sits there like how do you not pick it up? It buzzes at you and what are you going to do?

Emma Wedekind: Right.

Joel Hooks: I've also been trying bullet journaling which I think feels like a big portion of the internet is doing it right now. That guys making a lot of money.

Emma Wedekind: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Joel Hooks: Which it's been working just using paper and trying to figure out what it is I'm trying to do and prioritize and figure out what the real essentials are of what I need to get done, which helps but it's a constant struggle, there's so much choice, there's so many things to learn, there's so many things to do.

Emma Wedekind: Yeah for sure, I've always wanted to try bullet journaling but I'm that kind of person that like I hate my handwriting and everything has to look perfect and if I don't like the way it looks ill throw it out and rewrite it, which got me into a lot of trouble at school because I focused too much on rewriting my own stuff and not enough time on studying.

Joel Hooks: Just for the aesthetics.

Emma Wedekind: Yeah exactly. I'm not artistic, I can draw things on a computer but ask me to play Pictionary and I will lose. Is bullet journaling primarily for writing down your to do list or is it kind of a reminder of what you did during the day, or kind of both?

Joel Hooks: So I use the, I kind of do the traditional, like the original bullet journaling approach from them, I forget his name that wrote it, to where you're writing down what you're going to do tomorrow, you add things during the course of the day, if you and something comes up and you need to get it done. But then it also works as a free form journal so ... under 02.20 W for Wednesday I have Emma Podcast, and then I wrote down of the list of prompts that we would talk about so that's a perfectly valid bullet journal entry, and then it has an index and that kind of thing but then you can go back through it and you have a month log, and a week long and an everyday. The interesting thing about the bullet journals is because people ge really artistic with it, so you can go on Reddit and look at the bullet journaling and stuff about it and feel totally inadequate right, because they're doing these big spreads and they're all fancy [crosstalk 00:30:07]

Emma Wedekind: Right

Joel Hooks: And they're obviously graphic designers and that's not really me, I like my handwriting, I'll scratch things out and I misspell stuff and don't really care, you know I'll write right over it with the correct spelling, that doesn't bother me, but at the same time I write small and it's fairly legible and that's my thing just by nature.

Emma Wedekind: I gotta try that out that sounds really interesting.

Joel Hooks: It's fun and if you really take it more loosely like how is this useful for me and go back to like talking about the Agile Approach like if you think about this is something I can incrementally improve what works for me, what doesn't work, like it really starts to make a lot more sense versus this is a rigid format and I have to do it this way. That doesn't work for me at all.

Emma Wedekind: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Joel Hooks: With almost everything in life, that doesn't work for me.

Emma Wedekind: Yeah, absolutely.

Joel Hooks: Talking about learning and an infinante variety of things to learn what are you excited about learning coming up? What's on the horizon, what are you working on?

Emma Wedekind: I have so many fun things right now, yay, I'm focused right now on design systems, which is going to be a huge shocker to everyone listening I'm sure, that's one thing but in terms of other skills I really told myself this year I would learn web animations so like I really need to get back on [inaudible 00:31:10] and take Sarah [inaudible 00:31:12] SPG animations course, that's been on my backlog.

Joel Hooks: Good stuff.

Emma Wedekind: Yeah, I also want to learn more about design patterns in terms of coding, there was a really great, the last talk on day two of [inaudible 00:31:25] was given about design patterns and it was incredible so I need to go back and kind of learn more about that. And then lastly Graph QL it's something I use within Gatsby for [inaudible 00:31:37] sites, but let's be real like I really don't understand Graph QL so I need to go back and learn that.

Joel Hooks: Yeah. It's cool stuff and Gatsby is amazing and that's what I've been telling people lately, get off of Medium post to Gatsby.

Emma Wedekind: Well I feel like a fan girl.

Joel Hooks: Because they made it easy and I do too like every posd cast I've been talking about it and I've had all the team members on because I really, really like Gatsby a lot.

Emma Wedekind: I know and the team is super nice and yeah they're doing great stuff, I can not praise them more.

Joel Hooks: They made blogging fun again for me, because I have avoided mine for so long because I didn't like hacking on it because it was Jackie and Ruby and I do code Ruby but I didn't like it and I didn't enjoy it, I didn't like playing with it but now it's like this has all the cool stuff that I really enjoy working with and it's right here so maybe I'll write again, because MDX is awesome too, like the whole thing has just blown my mind.

Emma Wedekind: Right. Yeah absolutely and its open source, so like I love open source. Jason does a great job too because like [crosstalk 00:32:33]

Joel Hooks: Yeah and they're doing it in the right way as like a project they're really running it well and like the whole things is just, I'm definitely a fan boy of what they've got going on and they just hired Marcy Sutton, like that's amazing.

Emma Wedekind: Yeah! I haven't met her but I've heard so many great things about her, and her accessibility works so

Joel Hooks: Yeah she's just a cool human and they just keep stacking cool humans at the Gatsby.

Emma Wedekind: Right.

Joel Hooks: Go go Gatsby.

Emma Wedekind: Absolutely.

Joel Hooks: Well that's awesome, thank you Emma so much for spending your evening with me and chatting I really appreciate it. I'm excited to see what you get up to but yeah. Thanks.

Emma Wedekind: Yeah thanks for having me. It was a lot of fun, we talked about so many different things I love it.

Joel Hooks: Yeah yeah it was a good ride, cheers.

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