Episode 58 • Joel Hooks

Making A Fulfilling Career Out Of Multiple Interests With Hiro Nishimura

Hiro started coding HTML and CSS back in middle school so she could make internet friends and talk about anime. She never thought of coding as anything more than a hobby, and she stopped when she began college. She got her master's in special education, but due to a traumatic injury, she had to make a career pivot.

She got a job as a helpdesk engineer and eventually worked her to a sysadmin position at a startup. Hiro quit the comfortable sysadmin job. She asked herself if ten years from now, if she'd be proud that she stuck with the company for another six months. The answer was no. Hiro quit her job to focus full-time on teaching technology.

It was a huge leap, and yet again, she was in unfamiliar territory, but she's been able to find success. Hiro has released four intro-level AWS courses for non-engineers on LinkedIn, writes independent articles, and gets paid to write blog posts for small business owners.

You don't have to be a specialist to find success. Yes, the world needs people who can go all-in on something and produce fantastic work, but it also needs people who can bridge the gaps and solve problems with the breadth of their experiences.


"Making A Fufilling Career Out Of Multiple Interests With Hiro Nishimura" Transcript


AWS Newbies
Stripe Atlas

Hiro Nishimura


Joel Hooks



Joel: Hi, Hiro.

Hiro: Hey.

Joel: Thanks for taking the time out of your day to come talk to me. I'm really excited. I'm excited to talk to you about breaking gates open. That's something that I know we're both passionate about. But first I just want to ask you another thing that we're both passionate about and that's cooking food. You are on the Internet and you share recipes and you show cooking. And I was wondering, do you have a best dish? Do you have a signature dish or something that you love to cook the most? Out of anything that you prepare?

Hiro: So something that I love to cook, because it's so simple and you can make so much at once because it's just a big batch meal, is Japanese curry. So I like to just add whatever I have in the fridge at the moment. But it's also a great way to clean up your fridge, right? You can use any vegetable, you can use any stock you have leftover. And it kind of feeds a dozen people, or you can use it as a meal prep. So yeah, that's something-

Joel: Is it one of those dishes that changes every time? Like you have a base, you come at it, and you know what you're going to cook. But then it really depends on what you have on hand at any given time.

Hiro: Yeah, I mean usually it's like start with potatoes, onions, carrots, and those are the staples. But everything else it's kind of whatever I happened to have in the fridge. And there might be broccoli in there one day, or some really weird vegetable. And they're like, "What is this?" And I'm like, "Oh, don't worry about it. It's just stock of some vegetable that I was like, "Oh, this looks like it can be eaten."" So-

Joel: One of my favorite cookbooks right now, it's an incredibly upsetting book about sandwiches. And one of the things he does in this book is he puts broccoli, he likes to put broccoli, inside of like a breakfast sandwich. So it's like a bacon, broccoli, cheese sandwich. It's amazing. Roasted broccoli in a sandwich. Like, and I was ... that was my reaction to. I was like, "Ooohh." In practice it's really, really delicious. So whenever we're roasting broccoli, we always make extra so we can throw it in there. And just that ... I love the idea of a core dish, but you can make it different every time. So you'll never get sick of Japanese curry, because every time you make it, there's going to be ... you're putting a little twist on it. The downside is when you land on a really good one and you're like, "Oh, I wish I wish I had that-"

Hiro: You don't know how that happened.

Joel: Yeah. It's like, "All right." I'd like to know a little bit about your background. And I know we're both, we're in technology, we're around computers, we're a part of this flood of folks pushing information and data across the Internet. And how did you get here? What's your story, and how did you get to where you're at in terms of being a technologist?

Hiro: Yeah, so my background is in special education. So I have a bachelor's, a master's, in special education. And my kind of life goal was to become a teacher and teach kids. And when I started college, I decided that I wanted to become a special ed teacher. And obviously it's very different from what I do now. And I kind of had a career pivot before my career even really started, because I had brain surgery when I was in college. And it was kind of apparent after a while that the strenuous workloads of being a teacher might not be the best thing to do at the moment.

Hiro: So I moved to New York looking for something else to do. I wanted to work in a nonprofit and disability advocacy. But I quickly found out that, one, they're not hiring. Or two, they want you to work for very little monies. And it didn't really work out. So after half a year, I actually got a job as a help desk engineer. And they were fine with me having no background in tech. I was like, "What the heck is an Outlook? I've never opened it before." And they're like, "You're going to fix it. You're going to fix all those issues that people have with Outlook." And I'm like-

Joel: Yeah, it's fine. Follow the script.

Hiro: "It's Outlook." Yeah. There was no script either, was just the problem. But I became very good at googling. So they hired me, and that was kind of when I started my career in tech because that was something that was not anything I ever thought I would do. Because tech was this big black hole of like, oh, scary techie thingies. I couldn't possibly be an engineer. I couldn't possibly be working in tech because that's not what I do. I'm a teacher. So from there I started working in tech, and my last job I had was as a sysadmin at a tech startup in New York. And I recently quit that job to focus full time on teaching technology. So I've kind of made a full circle after five years.

Joel: I asked you ... I kind of accused you beforehand of being a web developer. And you told me that you're not a web developer. But still I want to talk about that because I feel like maybe you are. And it isn't something you set out to be, but is web development part of what you do at this point?

Hiro: Yeah, a little bit. Web development for me is a tool to get what I want out into the world. And I started coding, and the Vanilla HTML, CSS, and all that fun stuff, back in middle school in the early 2000s, because I want to make Internet friends to talk about anime. As we want to do, as a middle schooler who don't have friends. So then that kind of escalated from making fan sites and blogs and coding up a storm learning everything from lissaexplainsitall.com, and just looking at how other people created websites. And back then it was very simple ... I mean it was very simple in terms of like, oh, something new came out, divs came out, tables came out. And then you just kind of start incorporating those things into your code. And when you see someone do something new that you and your friends haven't done yet, you just go and investigate the source and be like, "Oh wow, this is cool."

Hiro: And then you kind of figure out how to make it happen in your own website. So I was coding from middle school through high school, and at that point, when I started college as a special ed major, I kind of gave all of it up because it was a hobby and something to do for fun. And I didn't realize at that point that web development was an actual job, like something you can get paid to do. Because I guess it's something that you would have known if, I guess, if you have people around you who did stuff like that for a living.

Hiro: But where no one around me had done that as a job, no one had parents who do that as a job, so I just figured it's just a hobby that I need to give up so I can focus on my college. And lo and behold, we're still using HTML. And I was actually really baffled when I learned two, three, years ago at my last company that the web still runs on HTML and CSS and JavaScript. And I had assumed that the world had moved on and-

Joel: No. We're a long ways away from moving on those three pillars. I think they're going to be here for a little while yet too.

Hiro: Yeah, I had no idea. I thought the world had moved on to something very different. So I couldn't possibly catch up, you know? And that was when I started kind of dabbling back into code and learning HTML 5.0 And CSS 3.0 and Bootstrap and stuff like that. And kind of spending a few months doing that really helped me be able to push things out when I want to without having to wait for someone else to create it for me. So web development, to me, is a tool. But yeah, I've never really thought of myself as a web developer. But maybe-

Joel: Yeah. Yeah. It's kind of like an identity for you, right?

Hiro: Yeah.

Joel: Like it's a-

Hiro: It's a skill that I am very happy to have. Basically.

Joel: I think it's funny, because you talk about in middle school and high school, you're doing anime, and you're doing it because you love it. And you're watching what other people do and what your friends make something cool and you want to do that. And I honestly feel, like for me, that's how it works now, right? I've been a professional, and I've been doing this for a decade or more now, and I feel like that the entire time, that's what it is. It's like paying attention, seeing what people you like and respect are doing, your friends are doing, and then trying it yourself and learning more. And whether they're our direct friends or not, it's just like people out there that are doing stuff and building stuff and open source and all this kind of teaching that everybody's doing all the time is really ... that's the joy of this kind of technology in general to me, is that thing, that thing that we're all doing together, and kind of growing and helping each other.

Hiro: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. And I also love that unlike a lot of other hobbies that might cost a lot of money if you wanted to do what Joe over there is doing, it's like we find something that's exciting, and you just open your code and be like, "Oh, let's try it out." You know? And you can just do it right there. So I think that's really exciting.

Joel: I've seen it described as like an infinite game. There's finite and infinite games, where the finite game has an end and there's a winner, and then there's the infinite game where we're going to be playing this forever and we can do this for as long as [inaudible 00:09:46]. And we're going to be able to keep doing this and stacking on, there's no winner. We're all just playing a game, and we're competing against kind of the past and seeing what we can build, and the possibilities are endless. It's very exciting. I think it's a cool time to be a nerd. That's my philosophy. So you made a big transition. Because you were an employee, a W2 employee, you had a steady paycheck, and you decided to stop doing that. And you've gone kind of independent, and left that world, and become a freelancer, a consultant. How do you describe what it is, and that transition?

Hiro: Yeah. So in June I left my full time job as a sysadmin at the startup that I was working at. And it was kind of like, "Do I do it or do I not do it?" And the answer was I'm going to do it at some point. But I was realizing that at some point you just have to kind of make a decision to do it. The right time, quote unquote, is never going to just show up.

Joel: It's hard.

Hiro: And yeah, it's always like, "Oh well, but you know, those stable paychecks, the benefits, the retirement." There's so many things that come with a W2 full time job with benefits that it's really hard to give up. So I had my birthday, my 30th birthday, in June. And I turned 30, and it's kind of like a big year. It's oh you going from your, quote unquote, young adult to the 30s, where you're supposed to be an actual adult.

Joel: Good luck.

Hiro: Thank you. Thank you. It's not working out, but whatever. So when I was thinking about the fact that now I'm 30 years old, and I have ten years until I'm 40 years old. And I was asking myself when I am turning 40 in ten years would I have been proud of myself for staying for an extra half a year at a job that I really don't enjoy and was turning really toxic for sake of ... I think it was something like $3,000 of a 401k match. Because it would've made me three years in, and it would have vested 100%. And I was like, "Hmm, probably not."

Hiro: It's like, you can accomplish so much in half a year. But I was using that as an excuse and as a clutch, my 401k vesting, to push it off for half a year. And I was like, "You know what? No, I'm just going to do it now." And I'd always kind of saved and invested for just the few years that I was working. I was only working in corporate for four and a half years, enough for me to be able to be comfortable with potentially not making any income for a while. So I made that leap, and it's kind of been fish out of water situation again. But I think because I don't even know how to pay taxes anymore. Apparently you have to pay it four times a year.

Joel: That's a real struggle. Like I know that. On the paperwork side of that, now you're responsible. You talk about all the other, like the benefits and all that, but also people are taking care of all the paperwork.

Hiro: Yeah. Yeah. And I was like, "Oh, so everyone wants me to set up an LLC so they can throw me jobs and contract gigs. How do I set up an LLC?" And you think it's like beep, boop, couple buttons, there you go. Pay a couple hundred dollars, it's done. It's not.

Joel: No.

Hiro: And there were so many things that I was like, "Okay, this is the end product that I want, like an LLC or 401k or something." But then it's like, "Okay, how do I get there?" And it was kind of like starting career in tech all over again, because I just couldn't figure it out. And it's so hard to find resources that kind of teach you from zero to someone who has absolutely no idea what they're trying to do.

Joel: Yeah. So my favorite resource, I don't know if you've seen this, and just to throw this out there for anybody that's listening, Stripe. I love Stripe and I talk about it all the time. They changed my life and my business. But they have Stripe Atlas. And have you seen Stripe Atlas?

Hiro: Yeah, they don't do LLCs anymore though.

Joel: Did they quit?

Joel: Yeah. Even then though, their documentation ... in terms of ... their documentation is probably the most consolidated information on that whole process of getting started and handling all the ... just the stuff. Like how do you do ... if you want to consider like a freelancer, like a startup of one, right? How do you feel [inaudible 00:14:14] that. And that didn't exist when I started a company either, and [inaudible 00:00:14:19]. And I'm always ... and I and I will put that stuff off until they're knocking at my door to impound my TV or whatever. It's just hard. It's hard to even get the energy to do it. At the end of the day. You're doing all this other stuff and trying to figure out how to make a living. And then on top of that you have to be comply with regulations and all that stuff.

Hiro: Yeah, I ended up using a place called Northwest and they did file my LLC for me. But now I'm trying to look for an accountant. And I'm just like, "Oh my God, this is like finding a doctor, that perfect fit doctor." It's so overwhelming and you have no idea how good of a doctor that person is until you go in.

Joel: No. And there's bad accountants too. It goes-

Hiro: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.

Joel: There's bad lawyers, there's bad accountants, and there's great ones too. And how do you find them?

Hiro: Yeah, how do you find them? Yeah, so that's been my couple of months of like uuhh. It's like every step is like trudging through mud.

Joel: So what kind of work are you doing now? What are you doing as a freelancer? What kind of gigs are you getting?

Hiro: Yeah, so my main gig, I guess, that I've been doing for a little over half a year now, is technical instructors. So I'm a LinkedIn Learning Instructor and I teach Introduction to AWS to non-engineers. And I have four courses out with them right now. So that was my big thing that allowed me to kind of take this step and quit my full time job. And I that's kind of like done-ish, or it's a video course. So you create it, you put it out into the world, and you kind of update it periodically. So as like an active consulting I do ... I write technical articles. I'm a technical writer, so I write blogs, I write articles, and I have my own stuff that I write, obviously for kicks, that I don't get paid because I don't pay myself.

Hiro: But I also get paid to write technical blog posts by other small business owners. So that's kind of been my main thing. And I'm looking to kind of expand to maybe giving seminars on the same kind of topics, maybe in person or webinars and stuff like that. Kind of just expand a little bit of my repertoire. And now that I'm getting a lot more comfortable kind of speaking and recording, I think that'll be a bigger part of my identity. But for now I'm writing mostly.

Joel: Yeah, it's weird when you start doing that. And you record these courses. And for me anyway, there was stage fright. And it's like you're putting yourself out there, and you're talking to a microphone in the comfort of a studio or your home, but there's that feeling, that feeling of butterflies, and just kind of stage right. That goes away with practice to some extent. But yeah, it's an interesting phenomenon. What do you wish that you had've known before you ... you've been doing this ... you're, what, pushing six months now, almost? Five months of being in this. What do you wish you had have known before you even started that you could have learned ... that you hadn't learned, and that you know now?

Hiro: Oh God, there's so much that I wish someone could have just been like, "Hey, so here are these things that you should know." Which would probably be how to do accounting, how to find an accountant, which I haven't figured out yet. But for accounting and stuff, I use QuickBooks. But and how to set up an LLC. And kind of also how to network kind of. You have to set your rates, you have to go and talk to potential clients and what not, but I have no idea how to do that. And mostly I've been ... the stuff that I've created kind of has spin talking for themselves, and I get people reaching out to me based on the stuff that I have out. But I know I should be taking a more active role in finding potential partners to work with. But even now, I'm not really sure how that works.

Joel: Yeah. And there's so many different ways, right? Like there's so many different ways you can approach this, and there's a lot of different advice out there. And just like finding professional services, some of it's good, some of it's bad. It's really hard to just sift through it. You said something to me that I wanted to just kind of ... I'm going to read a quote, actually. "It's my job to open the gates and let people in. Teaching is the absolute fundamentals and basics so people can speak the language that others are speaking, and have conversations." And you were talking about the idea of how do you even break in, and how do we open tech, in this kind of amazing world, I think, that we get to work in and live in. How do we open that to more people? And I was wondering, what does that mean and what are you trying to do in terms of teaching and giving people that basic vocabulary?

Hiro: Yeah. So this is something I'm really passionate about, because I was also a transplant into tech with zero background. So kind of like everything that I learned, I had to kind of learn from zero and googling and watching YouTube videos and things like that. And what I found a lot was a lot of documentations, a lot of resources, and a lot of even video courses, they kind of take for granted that you speak this certain technical jargon vocabulary. And they don't take the time to explain these fundamental phrases or words that kind of make it or break it. When you don't know those specific words, it's like you're missing huge chunks of vocabulary that's in the book. You can't understand what's going on, even if you understand every other word in there, because those are just so important.

Hiro: And one of the things that I experienced a lot, I don't know if it's gate keeping ... what is gate keeping? But when I would go into interviews, they would sometimes just throw acronyms and words and phrases at me, asking me to define it. And I'm like, "Okay, I don't know what these words mean because I know how to do things, but I don't necessarily know what these words mean, or what the acronyms are." And I'm like, "It's not really relevant to me being able to do these certain tasks that you would want me to do as a part of this job. But instead of focusing on what I can do or how quickly I learn, you're focusing on whether I know what an acronym stands for."

Hiro: And it's also very difficult to talk to other engineers. Or even if you're not a technical person, you're not in a technical role, like you're in marketing or something, and you want to talk about AWS because that's what your engineers are using to upload your website. And you're in marketing so you have to know how the websites are doing. If you don't know what an EC2 is, S3 is, AWS is, you can't even talk to them. But it's very hard to find resources that are written for people with no engineering background. And like AWS technical documentation is notorious for being ineligible.

Joel: Oh, I've spent time with it. I agree with that. And AWS and, I think, is a particular standout in that case. Because it's immensely powerful, but also immensely complex. And dense. And you hit it nearly ... it's like hitting a wall of confusion. And vocabulary ... we're literally learning new languages, right? Like if you talk about JavaScript and it's referred to as a language. Or HTML is a markup language, right? Like we're talking about languages.

Joel: And if you don't speak that language, it's like being dropped in a foreign country with no context and no ability to communicate with locals. And you just kind of have to stand there and wave your hands around or whatever and point at things and hope you get it right. And languages is the absolute critical step, right? The vocabulary is the first step. It has to be. And you don't ever see ... do you see ... I don't see glossaries. I never see glossaries do almost anything. Like we're just defining the primary terms. That's something that should maybe change, I think. In terms of education.

Hiro: Yeah, yeah. A word that we love in cloud computing is scaling. And what does scaling mean?

Joel: Yeah. It could mean all sorts of things.

Hiro: It means so many things. It's such a convenient word, because you can use it for anything. But people don't take the time to define it. So how is someone who doesn't have a technical background, who kind of understands the concept of scaling, how are they supposed to understand what you're talking about if said you're scaling this, this is scalable, scalable, blah, blah, blah. And what I try to do in my courses, and the writing that I do, is kind of deconstruct those jargons and define it and explain it, so that people can understand it. I don't want to take for granted the easy way out, because those easy way outs are what causes a lot of the gate keeping when you're just going in a loop trying to define something. And the definition of that word is that word. And you never find out what it exactly means.

Joel: And I think it's important ... because you said, "What is gate keeping?" And I don't think it's necessarily people ... and maybe there is some kind of like evil doers out there that are intentionally doing it, but these are things that we're just ... it's just like par for the course, right? We're not like, "Oh no, you don't know those words." It's just we're speaking this way and then whether it's intentionally or unintentionally using acronyms, using initialisms, speaking in jargon, and it has that effect, right? It's not necessarily that we're intentionally doing this thing, it's that we're not intentionally doing the opposite, right? We're not intentionally opening the gates and making it more accessible to folks as they come in.

Hiro: Yeah. And it's intimidating. And it's not a surprise that people kind of get scared out of joining. When they open a website trying to learn about something and they don't recognize half the words on there.

Joel: Yeah. I've rarely read a book where I didn't understand it and blamed to the book. I blame myself. And whether it's the book ... it might be the book's fault, it might be my fault. It's the lack of context. There's all sorts of things going on. But I rarely am like, "Oh, this book is why I couldn't learn this topic." It's always like, "Oh, I'm just not smart enough to learn this." That's not really ... it's just more about context and vocabulary and understanding. Maybe you have to go back a layer. And that's what it sounds like you're trying to do. And your course is called AWS Newbies. And you said it's really built not for developers. How do you explain AWS, and maybe even the cloud, to people that aren't developers?

Hiro: Yeah, so the cloud, I literally explain it as, hey, it's the Internets.

Joel: It's true.

Hiro: It's everything. Everything's running on it. Twitter, Facebook, website that you go on and you spend ten hours of your day on, chances are it's on the cloud. It's not the scary behemoth of a thing that we can't understand, but cloud computing just means there are really big servers running in data centers. And you don't have to worry about them anymore. So I kind of just try to bring it back to what they might already know, but also link it in a way that's like, "Oh hey, all these names make it sound like it's something really scary, but it's not."

Joel: I think they tried to make it sound fluffy to me, right? Like, oh it's the cloud, it's cool. Don't worry about it. It's up 99.6% of the time. Everything will be okay.

Hiro: Everything's fine. Until it's not. And Google Calendar goes down.

Joel: It's essentially somebody else's computer that you don't have to worry about.

Hiro: Exactly. Yeah.

Joel: Until you-

Hiro: Serverless.

Joel: ... do you have to worry about it. Yeah, exactly. There's no servers. There are a lot of servers.

Hiro: There's no servers, it's just a cloud.

Joel: So what do you do? How do you stay productive? And I share an ebb and flow. My productivity goes up and down. And sometimes I can be really productive, and sometimes I just can't, my body doesn't let me. And I'm wondering, how do you deal with that? And especially now that you kind of have to set your own schedule and motivate yourself, what's your go to in terms of getting things done, I suppose?

Hiro: Yeah. So that's actually a huge problem for me because I have a pretty severe executive functioning problem. Which executive functioning disorder came from my brain injury from my brain surgery back in the days. And so I kind of have to create a structure for myself. And once I'm off running, I can be neck deep and doing something for hours and hours and hours. But if I can't get that switch turned on, it just doesn't happen at all. So the on and off is just extreme for me. And I just try to kind of create a situation where the only thing I can focus on is that. I get very easily distracted. So I might throw my phone across the room. I might take my laptop to a cafe somewhere, just where I can't do anything except that certain topic.

Hiro: And it's kind of ironic, because before I quit my job, I was spending 40 plus hours a week doing that full time job. And then almost every evening and every weekend and every holiday, I was doing my side hustle jobs. It was just constantly going on and on and on and on and on and just never stopped. And when I don't stop, it's fine. I keep on going. But I also have stress induced rheumatoid arthritis. That's a very bad way for me to live. So now that I quit my job, you'd think, "Oh, I have 50 plus hours a week that I've gotten back," but I am not any more productive than I was when I had a full time job.

Joel: Well, there is no free time, right?

Hiro: No there isn't. Somehow it's taken up by something. God knows what. So my mind is just kind of like set a to do list, break down tasks into small, manageable chunks. Because I get overwhelmed pretty quickly. And just kind of going one by one and checking them off.

Joel: Do you use any software or do you have a favorite to do list application?

Hiro: So I've gone through a lot-

Joel: Yeah. Me too.

Hiro: ... but now I kind of stick with my bullet journal. And because I like this physical sensation of checking something off.

Joel: No it's great. [crosstalk 00:29:07].

Hiro: That's very rewarding to me. And stickers. Anything that tricks me into doing stuff. Right?

Joel: Are you a crafty bullet journaler? Where you go all out, or are you kind of a ... I'm pretty stark in mine.

Hiro: No. I try, but then I can't keep it up. So I just go very simple now.

Joel: Oh yeah. It makes it ... well then it ends up like your bullet journal is now a job. Because you can get on-

Hiro: Yeah, it's a chore.

Joel: You can get on Pinterest. Right? And you can look at bullet journals and it's like wow, you people have a lot of time.

Hiro: I know.

Joel: And it's just amazing. And I can't even ever live up to that. Mine's just like I do like the basic, the way you originally explained bullet journaling towards the beginning.

Hiro: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I just to my daily to do, weekly, monthly. Just so that ... I'm very afraid of forgetting something, because I have a very bad memory, so I just have to ... if I write everything down, then it kind of tames my anxiety because I'm like, "Okay. It's now out here. It's not in my brain anymore."

Joel: It's such a simple system. Because part of the whole cycle is the review process, where you'd go back and you'd look and, oh, I didn't do that. Is that still important? No. Cross it out. Oh yeah. Yeah, it is important. I'm going to move that to a future date or into my current list. It's a way to keep sane. There's so much stuff going on, and how do I manage any of it? And I think we lose, we've been talking like this a lot at work in Egghead, and like we lose so much information, right? We have conversations, we have meetings, we have things we want to do, things we want to accomplish, and it's like a sieve and it just like goes away. And trying to capture that and trying to build on top of what we've already done and stop losing so much information has been a real challenge. I think that's just getting worse because of the flow of information that we're kind of having to deal with.

Hiro: Yeah. And there's just so much. All day, every day.

Joel: Yeah. It's constant, which is amazing, but also frightening, and often anxiety-inducing, to be honest. So you're a reader. I love to read books to gain knowledge. And I've had so many books that have changed my life. And I was wondering what really stands out to you as essential reading for somebody that wants to kind of make it in this information age in the modern times of the Internet?

Hiro: So a book that really impacted me in the past maybe year or so, was the book Called How to be Everything. And so the title is How to be Everything. And the subtitle is A Guide for Those Who Still Don't Know What They Want to be When They Grow Up. So it's kind of saying how a lot of people ... when adults talk to kids, they ask them, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" And you're only supposed to have one answer, right? You're supposed to be this one thing. But that's because-

Joel: Web developer, right.

Hiro: Yeah, one thing.

Joel: Whatever you-

Hiro: Oh, I'm going to be a librarian. I'm going to be a firefighter. I'm going to be a scientist. But then there are people like me who have a lot of interests, a lot of things that we dabble in, and we start to think, well, maybe we're supposed to be focusing on one thing. Because you can't hone your craft, right, if you're so all over the place. And I am definitely one of those all over the place person. And I ended up being able to kind of consolidate a lot of it into what I do now, which wouldn't have been possible if I weren't all over the place in the first place.

Hiro: But this book kind of just tells you, "Hey, that's okay. You don't have to have that one big thing in your life." And it kind of introduced you to multiple different ways of having a lot of interests. Some people have like one core interest, but then couple of smaller ones. Some people split their days evenly between four. They're all main passions. They have to have all of it in their lives. And then some people are like Phoenix's. They go super deep into something for a couple years, become like industry top, and then they're like, "Okay, moving on. And just start somewhere else.

Hiro: So there's all these different ways of having a lot of interests. And I saw a lot of my past couple of decades in that. So it's kind of like revelation that, oh, hey, I'm not broken. I'm not mediocre in the ways of oh, I'll never make anything out of myself because I'm not interested in just one thing. So that kind of gave me, I guess, it's weird to say permission, but permission to kind of keep on doing what I'm doing. And half a year later here I am. Have created something that didn't exist before.

Joel: No, I love that. I love that entire philosophy. And I think there's merit in deep specialization, and we need that in the world. People that they go as deep as possible because there's so much that comes out of that. But then at the same time I think there's so much to just being out there and exploring interests and going deep and coming back up and going deep and learning across the board. I get bored, and that allows me ... because I approach it in a very similar way, where I can do different things on a daily basis. I can decide different things. And sometimes I feel really good about writing, or sometimes I feel really good about doing design. Or whatever it is, but we're able to move between those. And it's nice and I'm going to check that book out. I hadn't heard of it before, so thank you.

Hiro: Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, it's just kind of I brought my interest in teaching, I brought my interest in accommodations and modifications with kids with disabilities, which allows me kind of to come from a very creative way of explaining things. Because the whole five, six years I was in college, I was learning how to approach things in creative ways so that the student can learn. And that plus tech plus AWS just happened to kind of show up and somehow all those very different interests got looped together into teaching AWS to non-engineers.

Joel: Yeah. It's a powerful combo. I think ... I look at that experience that you have and I think it's a really good combo for ... and important. And something that I think you'll be able to succeed at going forward. I have no doubts. I want to thank you so much for taking the time out to speak with me today. It was really wonderful to get to know you a little better. Thanks.

Hiro: Thank you so much for inviting me.

Joel: Mm-hmm (affirmative).