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At the Cutting Edge & Node with Nader Dabit
Episode Summary
This week Nader Dabit, who works in developer relations at Edge & Node, joins Corey to chat. What is Edge & Node? Nader breaks it down for us. He also discusses his career and unconventional background that lead up to joining Edge & Node, and how he is always looking for the next challenge. That striving has informed his entire trajectory, and also lends an edge of excitement to Nader’s next steps. Nader talks about the decentralized financial issues in countries like Lebanon or Venezuela, dabblings in the dark arts of Front End Web, and how his blogging inspried him to become more community focused. Nader talks Java Script, paths into tech, the joys and benefit of teaching others and more! Tune in for Nader’s unique and energized take.
Episode Show Notes and Transcript
About Nader
  • Currently working to help build the decentralized future at Edge and Node.
  • Previously led Developer Advocacy for Front End Web and Mobile at Amazon Web Services.
  • Specializing in GraphQL, cross platform, & cloud enabled web & mobile application development
  • Developing applications & reference architectures using a combination of GraphQL & serverless technologies built on AWS
  • 4 years experience training fortune 500 companies on web & mobile application development, with the last two focused on React and React Native Training (clients include Microsoft, Amazon, US Army Corps of Engineers, Visa, ClassPass, American Express, Indeed, & Warner Bros).
  • Mobile consultant specializing in cross platform web & mobile application development
  • Author of React Native in Action (Manning Publications)
  • Author of Full Stack Serverless (O'Reilly Publications)
  • International speaker
  • Creator of React Native Elements
  • Creator of JAMstack CMS & JAMStack ECommerce

Links:

Transcript
Announcer: Hello, and welcome to Screaming in the Cloud with your host, Chief Cloud Economist at the Duckbill Group, Corey Quinn. This weekly show features conversations with people doing interesting work in the world of cloud, thoughtful commentary on the state of the technical world, and ridiculous titles for which Corey refuses to apologize. This is Screaming in the Cloud.


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Corey: Up next we’ve got the latest hits from Veem. Its climbing charts everywhere and soon its going to climb right into your heart. Here it is!


Corey: Welcome to Screaming in the Cloud. I’m Corey Quinn. I’m joined this week by Nader Dabit, who until recently was a senior developer advocate at AWS, and now is heading to a new company that, as of the time of this recording, you haven’t started the job yet, but you’ll be doing Developer Relations at Edge & Node.


Nader: That’s right.


Corey: First, congratulations. Career mobility is great. Secondly, welcome to the show.


Nader: Thank you. Thank you.


Corey: And thirdly, what is Edge & Node?


Nader: So yeah, this is actually the first time I’ve even spoken to anyone about this, so this is very early stuff. So, it’s exciting to even be acknowledging it. But yeah, thank you for having me here. And I’m a big fan of yours, and I know we’ve met a few times in person, so it’s always fun to keep up with the ideas that you throw out there. Yeah, Edge & Node is basically a new company, it just started in February of 2021, and it’s in the decentralized finance, or web 3 world as well.


And the general idea that they’re trying to accomplish is to facilitate companies and people that are looking to build applications in this space. It’s a fairly new space compared to the traditional web space, which would be things like what I’m doing at AWS now, even as we speak. But the general idea is that they want to facilitate companies building out these centralized applications in general, and any types of applications that are, kind of, falling into that same category.


Corey: I’m in a weird spot because I think that a lot of the technology around the distributed financial stuff—by which we, of course, mean blockchain. Cryptocurrency et cetera—is goofy, there are challenges with it across the board, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. However, I’m deeply envious of the passion that the people who are really into that space exude around it. And maybe I’m just old and bitter and twisted, but man, I wish I could get that excited about anything.


Nader: [laugh]. Well, I mean, I’m leaving probably the best job I’ve ever had in my entire life by far. I’m leaving the most comfortable situation I’ve ever been in, in my entire life as well. I have a great team that I work with, I’ve been here for a little over three years, the stuff that we’re doing is amazing. So, for me to actually leave this position, you know, says a lot to me—or the idea that I would even leave kind of says a lot to me.


And everyone I’ve told so far, which is a few people like my wife, and a few family members, and of course, the people that work, they are also kind of shocked by it. But I think that I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve been doing, but after a little over three years, I’ve gotten a little bit—I’m the type of person that is always looking for the next new thing to do, and something to challenge me, and the more I’ve looked into the space, and also the team that I’m joining, and also the more that I look at maybe some of the challenges that we’re seeing in the world in general, that, kind of—the idea that some of these technologies are aimed to solve, especially if you look at what’s happening in countries in the last few years, like Lebanon, where you cannot take money out of the bank and they’re having massive inflation, Venezuela and other parts of the world like Turkey and Nigeria as well, there is a problem that needs to be solved. And a lot of the solutions, in my opinion, lie in these decentralized financial applications. It’s still in the early days, though, so I think it’s a really cool opportunity to get in on something, and learn it, and learn the ecosystem, and maybe even help some people while I’m doing it. Really, really passionate about the team I’m going to be working with, and I’m really excited about it.


So yeah, it’s an interesting part of my career. If I looked at the job that I have now AWS five years ago, I would have done anything to have it, right? It is such a great role, so for me to actually leave this is, it’s mind-bending even to myself. So, it’s kind of a weird and interesting time in my career, but I’m really excited.


Corey: I look forward to hearing how it treats you. But that’s a forward-looking conversation and almost one for another day. Let’s look back a bit. You’ve been at AWS for almost four years. And you’ve been a senior developer advocate around Amplify, which means that you and I haven’t spent a whole lot of time interacting because everyone says, “Oh, front end, and thus JavaScript by extension, are easy, beginner, that’s baby stuff.”


Yeah, the hell with everything about that. It is dark magic that every time I try to understand I come away more confused than I was when I started. And in anything remotely resembling a professional context, I have the good sense to pay professionals rather than try to unpack it myself. I wind up tying myself in knots. The few times I have dabbled with it, you’ve been around and have reached out to help with things that I get stuck on.


And I’m gratified, in many cases, that you’re looking at this going, “Huh. That’s interesting.” Which is engineer talk for, “What the hell is this?” And it makes me feel, “Oh, good. I’m not alone. This stuff really is confusing.” But you’ve had something of a meteoric rise as far as a known voice in space in the front end world. Tell me about that.


Nader: Yeah, it’s been really exciting to have had all this stuff happen over the last few years, and it means a lot to me, and I’m really always extremely grateful for where I am. I mean, I don’t really know. I mean, I joined AWS in January of 2018. Before that, I was doing consulting in my own company for about a year and a half, in company called React Native Training. And I think that my community involvement started really, maybe in 2016-ish when I started funding my own trips to go to conferences.


So, in Mississippi, the first company that I was working at when I started getting interested in conferences and stuff wasn’t really going to pay for me to do that type of stuff, so I started just finding events outside of Mississippi because there isn’t anything—and that’s where I live in Mississippi—there’s no tech here, right? So, I started going to these events, and I started becoming really inspired by the people that I saw that were working at these companies like Google and Facebook and Amazon, and even startups that were having really successful careers, and they were very, very inspired and excited about what they were doing. And they were speaking and I was like, wow, this seems so, so awesome because I could just see how great all that stuff was. At least it was for me. I started thinking, “Okay, if I want to become involved in these communities, what do I need to do?”


And you know, I started doing the things that I thought would get me to that point. And it was more like instead of—I don’t really want to be known; I just want to become friends with these people, and get to know them, and have these opportunities come up for me, maybe. So, I started doing writing. So, I wrote my first blog post, it was talking about something like webpack configuration or something like that—2016, that was my very first blog post—and put it out there and it actually did really well. It has over a million views at this point and it probably doesn’t even work, but people still do it.


But having that initial blog post and putting it out there having people read it and like it really spurred my continued content creation, you could call that even though I hate the word ‘content creation’—or the phrase. So, I just started doing more of that. So, I started writing, I started contributing to answers on Stack Overflow and stuff when I could. And then I started an actual meetup here in Mississippi and I started speaking at the meetup myself because there was no one here to speak at it at first. And one thing kind of led to another and then I would say, over time I started speaking at conferences.


When I joined AWS people started to take me a little more seriously because when you’re working, I guess, at a company that people don’t know and you have that on your Twitter profile, for some reason people just are less likely to follow you. Or at least I noticed that when I joined AWS, people were more likely to follow me. So, I mean, I don’t know, it just happened over time, and it’s been really exciting. And I think the thing that I like the most about what’s happened is all of the relationships that I’ve built, and all of the people that I’ve become friends with. I’m friends with so many people, and almost all of my friends now, I could say pretty much came from the tech world outside of my hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, you know.


Corey: I grew up in a small town in Maine. I have somewhat similar origin stories, except I never actually amounted to anything useful or good; I just went funny and obnoxious instead. And my road to tech was by starting off as a grumpy Unix admin, and over time evolving into a DevOps person, SRE person, managing the same teams, and then… doing whatever the hell it is that I do now. What I find interesting is that if I were talking to someone who wanted to get into tech today, I would suggest radically different things. The path that I walked as well and truly closed, so instead, what I see is this world of being able to get into tech through boot camps, through having more established paths for beginners, self-study is just as valid, too.


And I would suggest the first language someone pick up, even though I don’t understand it, to be JavaScript because it is very clear that that is the future of technology in many respects. And I’m not saying that because I love JavaScript. I don’t. I don’t like it if I’m being honest. But it is the most accessible language that is broadly being taught and the number of people in a position to learn it absolutely dwarfs the existing tech sector. I have a very hard time seeing a future where JavaScript is not the lingua franca of just about everything that requires coding. Is that overstating it?


Nader: No, I agree. I agree a hundred percent. I mean, and the way that I look at it is unless you kind of have a clear, clear understanding about where you want to go into tech and it does not align with what JavaScript has to offer, then you might as well choose JavaScript to start off with. Like you mentioned, it’s just about the numbers; with JavaScript, it’s kind of like the highest language that people are actually hiring for—if you look at all the different charts, and all the different studies and all that stuff recently—but you can also do the most with it, so if you’ve learned JavaScript and you become—if you want to say, “Oh, I don’t want to do front end, I want to do back end,” you can do that. You can build mobile apps, you can build desktop apps, you can pretty much do anything.


So, I think it’s a really great way to learn programming and also find the path that you want to have at the same time without having to learn an entire language and ecosystem and then throw all that knowledge away to learn something else because that’s not going to align with where you want to go. So yeah, I agree completely.


Corey: And I’ve know that I’m going to get letters for this, but I think that’s a good thing. It would be kind of nice. On some level, if I had at least a working knowledge of a language that could be simply and commonly used for simultaneously front end, back end tooling, et cetera. The Node ecosystem is vast. Instead, bad Python is my lingua franca, and there are ways you can theoretically transpile it into front end, and the working consensus is, “Oh, my God, never do this.”


And that’s okay. I feel like, on some level, I’m from a different era and the direction that I go in is radically different than where I would if I were starting out today. That’s okay. It’s a big industry; there’s room for all kinds. If you don’t agree with what I’m saying, that’s fine, too, because again, there are so many paths and so many ways to get there that there’s plenty of room for everyone. The pie is getting bigger, and that’s what I think it’s important to focus on, rather than trying to maximize the amount of the existing pie you can claim for yourself. And that’s something that you’ve been doing for a long time. You entered tech, what is it, 11, 12 years ago, now?


Nader: Yeah, it was in 2012. So, I guess about nine years ago.


Corey: And since then, you’ve had a number of roles that were effectively pure development. But additionally, there’s a constant and recurring theme that you wound up sort of smacking into going from senior web developer, front end web developer, software developer, web application developer—that’s when it starts to shift—software developer, software developer, then at React Native Training, you were a founder and trainer. And then you went to AWS and did senior developer advocate work. And you have shifted, in many respects, away from the person that writes the production code to the person that teaches other people to write code. And that is a massive and fundamental shift that often goes unnoticed.


Nader: Yeah, I would say that going back a lot, [laugh] I guess, when I started learning how to code, I was 29 or 30, and I tried to find a job shortly after, in Mississippi, and I’m not coming from a traditional background, either. I don’t have a diploma, even from high school; I don’t have a college degree or anything like that. So, I was coming from a very, very non-traditional background. In Mississippi there just wasn’t anything here, so I started applying for roles all over the place, like southeast United States. Didn’t get any opportunities there.


Started hitting the East Coast and the West Coast. Hired someone to spruce up my resume, I did have some stuff to put on there, just from me playing around on GitHub, and just learning, and also I did build out an e-commerce site that was actually working and stuff like that. But the general thing that I was just looking for was my foot in the door. And the first opportunity that I got was in LA. So, the LA opportunity was a contract; it wasn’t even a full time role, but I took it and I just moved to Los Angeles over the weekend because I had to be there on Monday.


And when I got to LA I was, like, put into this real developer role, right, with real developers. And it was a complete shock in every way for me, but it was probably the most exciting thing that ever happened to me in my life. Because I was, I was kind of, like, enjoying coding, and then I was like, now put into this space where I was around a bunch of really good coders, and they were just coming to work in this warehouse wearing, like, flip flops, and there was free snacks and free drinks, and there was a dog and a beanbag chair, stuff that was completely wild and new to me. So, I became really excited. And then when I was in LA, the developers that I was working with started taking me and introducing me to the community of JavaScript, I guess, or really the coding community in LA, but it was really mainly JavaScript is what we were working in.


So, when I first went to my first meetup, I was just completely blown away because not only was it just probably one of the better meetups in the world—because I’ve been to a bunch of them since then—but it was also my very first one. I didn’t even know these things existed. So, I’m going into this really gritty part of downtown LA into this huge warehouse with them, and I don’t know what to expect. And we walk in, and there’s waiters walking around with food, there’s free drinks, there’s alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, there’s a huge stage set up with hundreds of chairs. Everyone’s walking around talking about coding and stuff.


People from Google were there trying to hire people. To me, it was just something that I’d never imagined, that I thought was just so cool. And then I sit down and people are just going one by one teaching people things that they’ve learned in their free time. They’re taking time out of their day, this is their free time, to teach other people about how to do things. And I was just completely really in love with that idea from that moment on.


So, I got introduced to these meetups, and ever since that happened—I moved back to Mississippi about a year later, and being here, there just wasn’t anything here. There was no meetups, there was no conferences, of course, and I really missed that. So, I started getting into ways that I could do the same thing, but have it here in Mississippi. So, I first started a meetup here; we ran the meetup for a little over four years, I think, three and a half to four years maybe, where we would have bi-weekly meetups where we would do pretty much the same thing we did in LA—it was js.la was the meetup; it’s still happens—and I actually got to go back there and speak at Google, maybe a year and a half ago, which was really meaningful for me. And then after the meetup, I also started a local coding school, which never really took off, but I did it for about two years and we never really made—in fact we lost money because most of the classes were free.


Corey: It is a school. If it loses money, you’re doing it right. Until you apparently, around the bend somewhere and have an endowment for your school that’s in the billions, or you just pivot to pure for-profit, and suddenly you start making trade-offs on behalf of your students. It’s a mess.


Nader: Yeah. Exactly, yeah, I was just actually really hoping to break even and be able to have this community resource here in Mississippi because there wasn’t any. But there just wasn’t enough people interested in learning how to code. That, or maybe I wasn’t as good of a marketer as I could have been. Maybe not enough people knew about it.


But I was doing everything I could to get the word out. And we would have between one to six people maybe show up to these classes that were between one to eight hours long, and we would teach people how to write code, we would teach them how to build apps with Angular, and towards the end, I was doing React because that was a thing. And from then on—I really enjoyed that. I really enjoyed the experience of being in LA and having someone teach me, and then I learned so much. I kind of like, always was wanting to give that back, and also be involved in those types of events. So yeah, I’ve always enjoyed the teaching aspect and the learning aspect.


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Corey: Oh, I loved my time in LA; it was a fun place to be, there were a lot of interesting thing happens, and there are days I sincerely miss that. But, you know, life happens, things go on, we drift in different directions. One of my personal breakthrough moments was, I was contracting for another company and they sent me to various places to do various things, and they were effectively a DevOps slash sysadmin style bodies for hire, and [unintelligible 00:17:41] skills that you would accept, and one day, Puppet—at the time called Puppet Labs—reached out to them with a very weird ask, which is, “Great. We want someone who obviously checks all the technically capable boxes to come and be a traveling trainer to teach people how to use Puppet,” which these days is borderline considered negligence, but at the time, it was a good approach. And it really taught me how to, first, dive into things and understand them myself and, two, how to explain them in different ways and reach people who all have different learning styles.


And hands down, I thought that becoming a network engineer for a brief time was one of the best things I ever did to advance my career. Yeah, it doesn’t hold a candle to learning to teach other people about complex things. Because if they don’t understand what you’re talking about, it’s your failure, not theirs.


Nader: Right. Yeah, I agree. I agree completely. So, did you find that a lucrative career at the time?


Corey: It was a four-month contract. I found it very lucrative in the sense of—I mean, I was on salary for the consulting company. It’s not something that I would set out to do as an independent consultant without significant forethought. It was rough. I was on the road every week for four straight months, I was on a first-name basis with different aircrews to the different cities, and it was very wearying.


And it was also the problem that I ran into, at least for my proclivities is you’re teaching a different group of folks in a different city every week, but it’s the exact same curriculum, which is set by a different group. And the first one, you’re terrified to give it because, “Oh, my God, I’m going to mess it up.” And you somehow muddle your way through. And on the second one, you’re like, “I’ve got it.” And your third one, “Oh no, I don’t got it,” because something goes wrong.


And by the eighth, it’s repetitive and it’s the same thing, and you can use the same jokes and make people laugh and have all kinds of fun conversations. But it’s a weird problem. I mean, this was exacerbated by the fact that the training at the time was a couple $1,000. It was three days. A lot of people who were taking the class were angry at Puppet because they saw, rightly or wrongly, that this was automation software that was coming to take their job away and they were nervous and scared and didn’t want to deal with that, and I’m the representation of that company in front of them, and oh, by the way, if I get negative enough ratings, I’m fired.


So, good luck, send us a postcard when you get there. And it was how I learned to speak publicly off the cuff because you do a demo, the demo breaks—because it’s a demo—[laugh] and you have to tell a story while fixing the demo. But it became repetitive at some point, to the point where now the class does an exercise, great. And someone has a problem, and without even getting up from the front of the room, it’s, “Yeah, you forgot a comma.” And they look at you like you’re a wizard from the future.


It’s no, just at that point, there’s always one person who forgets a comma. You start seeing these things. I really enjoyed that. And I enjoyed meeting people and telling stories with them and it was a great experience; I miss a lot of it and I try and recapture it with the other stuff that I do now, but it was absolutely a watershed moment in my career.


Nader: Yeah, I would say that I was doing something similar when I was doing my React training for, like, a little over a year, and the thing that I like about AWS is—what I’m doing now—is I’m teaching different things. I’m teaching the same ideas, but I’m teaching them applied in a bunch of different ways, so I don’t really get too bored. But when I was doing React Native Training, I was kind of like you, teaching the exact same thing over and over and over, and it did start getting to the point where I was just unhappy with myself because I was, like, not learning anything myself. And even though I like teaching, I also enjoyed learning, so when I’m not pushing myself, I seem to get really antsy.


Corey: Oh, yeah. It’s one of those evolve-or-die moments where it’s… at least the way I see the world, you have to be able to effectively understand multiple points of view, you have to be able to recognize frustration when you see it and not take it personally. It requires so many things that we call soft skills, but oh my God are they hard as hell.


Nader: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. People skills or whatever you want to call it, I don’t really know what we should call it, but it’s one of those things that, for me, didn’t come naturally and it just came with practice. So, like, speaking at events, like you said, going to meetups and just interacting with people in the developer community, being on podcasts, and hosting my own podcast at one point, yeah, over time, you just get better at it. I mean, there are people born with very talented skills, like they just are really pleasant people, but for some people like myself, and a lot of other people I’m sure, it’s one of those things that you have to practice and become aware, keep looking at yourself and identifying areas where you can improve and be very, like you said, not taking anything personally. Like if someone—if they call you out on something, acknowledge that they’re probably right, and then look back into yourself and see what you can do to improve.


Corey: One of the common myths that we see across the board is that you have a sizable audience on Twitter, and I say that as someo—we’re roughly equivalent. And it’s one of those, I take a look at that and it’s weird, it’s not something that you ever, I think, come to accept. You say, like, “Wow, he has a lot of followers.” And I realize, “Wait, I have roughly the same number. Oh, wow, I have a lot of followers.”


Man, is it weird talking to an audience that is several times the size of the town I grew up in? But it feels almost like you’ve always been there that you have emerged, fully-formed, from the forehead of some god. But you’ve only been in tech for roughly a decade—please don’t take this the wrong way—you’re a smidgen older than that. And your LinkedIn doesn’t talk about what you did before that. It’s very focused on the existing tech narrative, which from a business perspective, makes sense. But let’s unpack that a bit; what were you doing before you learn to first, write code, and later, teach it?


Nader: So, this is a really important part of I would say my story whenever I really get into this because I think a lot of people have a similar path, or they’re maybe wanting to become on a similar path that I’m on now. And just hearing other people’s stories and how they’ve done it is really encouraging to a lot of people. So, I do like to share this and go into the details of before I became a developer. So, like I mentioned, I dropped out of high school because I didn’t ever get a diploma. In Mississippi, you can actually get your GED and then go into community college. So, I did that.


Corey: Hey, you have more educational credentials than I do. I don’t even have a GED.


Nader: Oh, really? Wow. [laugh]. I did not know that. I would have never guessed that.


Corey: Sidebar: Yeah, I was expelled from two boarding schools, wound up getting a diploma from some random homeschooling organization let me test out of it; found out years later they weren’t accredited, and then failed out of college. But on paper, I have an eighth-grade education and no one can ever take that away from me.


Nader: Man, you and I have a lot in common it seems like. [laugh].


Corey: Sure seems like it.


Nader: So yeah, basically, I was kind of a [BLEEP]-up from the age of, I don’t know, 18 until 29. And I had my good and bad moments, without going into all the details. But during that time, I just didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. My father has a clothing store here in Mississippi, and he sells men’s suits in what you would say is a part of town that’s the lower-income part of town and stuff. So, and I worked there often, whenever I couldn’t find a job anywhere else, my dad would always let me come in and work for him, so I did have that as a fallback mechanism.


So, I would even consider that like a privilege almost, right, because a lot of people, you lose your job, you’re kind of out in the street. But during the time between the age of 18 and 29, I was doing all kinds of stuff. I was trying different things. I worked at restaurants for a few years early on, and then later on in my career, everything from a host to a bartender to a waiter to a manager, even. Looking back on the restaurant business, I actually don’t like it; I have so much respect for anyone that is in it.


I have a lot of respect for waiters and stuff because I understand what they’ve gone through. So, I did that and I tried working in retail for my dad, also tried working in retail for other people—like shoe stores and stuff like that—as a salesperson. I got my real estate license, and I got my real estate license in 2007-ish, like, right before the bust of 2008.


Corey: Oh, yes. And everyone was getting into real estate, and if you weren’t, people looked at you like you were nuts.


Nader: [laugh]. Exactly.


Corey: Oh, I remember those days.


Nader: So, I got my real estate license and six months later, the bust happened, and I was a failure big time in that endeavor. If I had stuck around, who knows, right? But it didn’t work out, for better or for worse. So yeah, I tried all kinds of stuff, honestly. And I was never really, like, good at anything; I never really succeeded in anything.


So, one of the times when I was working with my dad in his store, we basically wanted to put our suits online, e-commerce—actually, when I say ‘we’ it was just me. I was kind of interested in app development and web development, I was really more interested in the idea of having an app in the app store and making money off of it. That was kind of really, if I want to be completely honest, that’s how I really wanted to learn coding to do. But in the meantime, we were trying to hire developers to build us a website to sell suits online, and I was so, so out of touch with what actually needs to be done for that to happen because I had no tech background, that we were continually being disappointed because we were hiring people, you know, local developers and trying to pay them just, like, a few $1,000. Turns out, for $2 or $3,000, you can’t actually build an entire e-commerce platform, even back then. So, we failed a few times with that.


And I was like, “You know what? Let me try to build this myself.” And I took an HTML programming class in community college 10 years prior, so I knew how to write HTML and I figured that would be enough [laugh] to build out an e-commerce platform. Anyway, after doing some digging, I discovered WordPress, and with WordPress, you can basically build an e-commerce site with plugins and stuff, so that actually worked out. We, over the course of, like, nine months I, I would say, built out this e-commerce site, learned a little bit of PHP and CSS, and very, very little JavaScript, and HTML, of course, and was able to get this e-commerce store up and running and also profitable and making money.


And at certain points, we were making more money on the website than we were making in the store. So, it was a success, and it was the first real success that I had in my life, honestly. And it felt really good. And I also knew that this was my thing. I wanted to get into coding; this is the thing that seems to speak to me, that I’m okay at. And the rest is kind of history.


That was when I decided to look for a job. And I found a job, like I said, in LA and moved out over the course of a weekend so I could have my first day. And I don’t want to go into a lot of more details, but I got fired out for that, like two months later. My wife had just come out there, and a few days after she got there, I got fired from my contract. So, that was a really tough time. But got through that.


Corey: Getting fired is one of my core competencies. It’s really an underrated skill.


Nader: [laugh]. I mean, it taught me a lot. I mean, I wouldn’t ever want anyone to go through it in a really critical time like that, but here I am; I’m still around. So.


Corey: [laugh]. It seems like a lot of this built to where you are by giving you exposure to a lot of different areas. There’s a certain, I guess, hustle required in those moments when you’re, “Oh. It turns out that that money I was counting on is no longer going to be coming in because that job I thought I had doesn’t exist and I have a limited runway here.” And you combine that with various roles that have exposed you to the wonder known as the general public, and it forces you to be able to have civil conversations with people you would prefer not to. [laugh].


And I really feel like this is the sort of stuff that, although it sucks at the time when you’re going through a lot of it, it has the opportunity to really help shape a future where you can blend technology with people. And that really seems to be where the most interesting work is being done.


Nader: Yeah, and I really look forward to the future and I see a lot more people coming into tech from non-traditional backgrounds. If I could go back and do it all over, I would have loved to actually gone and gotten my computer science degree, and been a very good student, and all that stuff. Like, if I could go back with the discipline and all this stuff, I guess, maturity that I have now. But at the same time, a lot of people are like me and they go to college and maybe they don’t want to do that thing that they got a degree in, or maybe they just are not going to college at all. And there’s so many resources online now that people can use to get there.


And people start at all ages these days. I mean, there’s people that I see that are online that are starting in their 50s, in their 40s, and even in their 60s, that are just starting. And the awesome thing about technology is that there’s a lot of stuff online that you can just pick up and learn for free. And there’s different barriers to entry, and different levels of privilege, and things like that, of course, that you have to take into consideration, but at the end of the day, I feel like there is more of an opportunity for someone to come into tech and make a name for themselves and become successful than almost any other traditional discipline like engineering, or medicine, or law, where you have to have these accredited things. With tech, you don’t really have to be accredited. You are your accreditation. Like, what you say and the things that you provide online are kind of how people are going to vet you.


Corey: It’s a hard lesson, and if you can learn it, it really acts as something of a superpower. And a sad number of people seem to never quite get around there. We talk about coming from positions of privilege—and we all do to some extent—but, on some level, having to scrape a little bit early in your professional career really feels like it is, in some ways, a benefit. Now, let’s be clear, I don’t wish that on anyone, but if you have to go through it I can’t shake the feeling that it does lend itself to interesting things later career. But of course, you’ve got to get through that first.


Nader: Right. Exactly, yeah. I mean, one thing that always is in the back of my mind is, when you have gone through a lot of tough times, you almost have a post-traumatic stress syndrome that you have, that you always remember those really, really, really tough times that are financial tough times, and they always spur you to continue doing the thing that you’re doing. And I don’t know if it’s that way for people that never had to deal with any of that stuff because I have no idea, but for me for sure that’s part of it. It’s almost hard for me to say no to anything that might advance my career at this point, and it’s not a good thing, honestly.


I would like to be able to say no to more things, but because of having those bad times, you always are like, “Oh, I don’t ever want to go back to that point, so I’m going to do everything I can to continue going forward.” That’s my mental state right now. And like I said, it’s probably not the best place to be all the time because it does stress you out sometimes, but it’s one of the things I’ve never been able to shake. And I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. It just is. It is what it is.


Corey: It is. [laugh]. Nader, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. If people want to learn more about what you’re up to these days, where can they find you?


Nader: Thank you for having me, Corey. Yeah, so the number one place will probably be Twitter. So @dabit3, o D-A-B-I-T and the number three on Twitter. I’ve been on Clubhouse a little bit lately at dabit, D-A-B-I-T. And I have a YouTube channel, it’s youtube slash naderdabit. So, those three places are probably where you’ll see me around.


Corey: And we will, of course, include links to them in the [show notes 00:32:55]. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. I 
really appreciate it. And best of luck in your new role.


Nader: I really enjoyed the conversation. Thanks for having me.


Corey: Of course. Nader Dabit, currently about to embark on a new journey in developer relations at Edge & Node. I’m Cloud Economist Corey Quinn, and this is Screaming in the Cloud. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please leave a five-star review on your podcast platform of choice, whereas if you’ve hated this podcast, please leave a five-star review on your podcast platform of choice and a gatekeeping comment telling me that no, JavaScript is not a good language, written entirely in Perl.


Corey: If your AWS bill keeps rising and your blood pressure is doing the same, then you need the Duckbill Group. We help companies fix their AWS bill by making it smaller and less horrifying. The Duckbill Group works for you, not AWS. We tailor recommendations to your business and we get to the point. Visit duckbillgroup.com to get started.


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