Helping Avoid the Kubernetes Hiccups with Rich Burroughs

Episode Summary

This week Corey is joined by Rich Burroughs, a Senior Developer Advocate at Loft Labs. Rich stays busy with improving workloads for folks using Kubernetes. Rich is a great resource for all things Kubernetes, he even hosts his own podcast (link in the description below) where he interviews people in the community. Rich tells us what's going on at Loft Labs and how they’re helping the folks who keep “banging their shins” on Kubernetes. Rich and Corey discuss learning to work well with ADHD, which he has launched into the Twitter-verse for the sake of advocacy. Rich offers his perspective on how to do so, and to do it well. Rich talks about working at large companies, versus small and the various responsibility of working with the latter. Tune in this week for Rich’s take!

Episode Show Notes & Transcript

About Rich
Rich Burroughs is a Senior Developer Advocate at Loft Labs where he's focused on improving workflows for developers and platform engineers using Kubernetes. He's the creator and host of the Kube Cuddle podcast where he interviews members of the Kubernetes community. He is one of the founding organizers of DevOpsDays Portland, and he's helped organize other community events. Rich has a strong interest in how working in tech impacts mental health. He has ADHD and has documented his journey on Twitter since being diagnosed.


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: Welcome to Screaming in the Cloud. I’m Corey Quinn. Periodically, I like to have, well, let’s call it fun, at the expense of developer advocates; the developer relations folks; DevRelopers as I insist on pronouncing it. But it’s been a while since I’ve had one of those come on the show and talk about things that are happening in that universe. So, today we’re going back to change that a bit. My guest today is Rich Burroughs, who’s a Senior Developer Advocate—read as Senior DevReloper—at Loft Labs. Rich, thanks for joining me.

Rich: Hey, Corey. Thanks for having me on.

Corey: So, you’ve done a lot of interesting things in the space. I think we first met back when you were at Sensu, you did a stint over at Gremlin, and now you’re over at Loft. Sensu was monitoring things, Gremlin was about chaos engineering and breaking things on purpose, and when you’re monitoring things that are breaking that, of course, leads us to Kubernetes, which is what Loft does. I’m assuming. That’s probably not your marketing copy, though, so what is it you folks do?

Rich: I was waiting for your Kubernetes trash talk. I knew that was coming.

Corey: Yeah. Oh, good. I was hoping I could sort of sneak it around in there.

Rich: [laugh].

Corey: But yeah, you know me too well.

Rich: By the way, I’m not dogmatic about tools, right? I think Kubernetes is great for some things and for some use cases, but it’s not the best tool for everything. But what we do is we really focus a lot on the experience of developers who are writing applications that run in Kubernetes cluster, and also on the platform teams that are having to maintain the clusters. So, we really are trying to address the speed bumps, the things that people bang their shins on when they’re trying to get their app running in Kubernetes.

Corey: Part of the problem I’ve always found is that the thing that people bang their shins on is Kubernetes. And it’s one of those, “Well, it’s sort of in the title, so you can’t really avoid it. The only way out is through.” You could also say, “It’s better never begin; once begun, better finish.” The same thing seems to apply to technology in a whole bunch of different ways.

And that’s always been a strange thing for me where I would have bet against Kubernetes. In fact, I did, and—because it was incredibly complicated, and it came out of Google, not that someone needed to tell me. It was very clearly a Google-esque product. And we saw it sort of take the world by storm, and we are all senior YAML engineers now. And here we are.

And now you’re doing developer advocacy, which means you’re at least avoiding the problem of actually working with Kubernetes day-in-day out yourself, presumably. But instead, you’re storytelling about it.

Rich: You know, I spent a good part of my day a couple days ago fighting with my Kubernetes cluster at Docker Desktop. So, I still feel the pain some, but it’s a different kind of pain. I’ve not maintaining it in production. I actually had the total opposite experience to you. So, my introduction to Kubernetes was seeing Kelsey Hightower talk about it in, like, 2015.

And I was just hooked. And the reason that I was hooked is because of what Kubernetes did, and I think especially the service primitive, is that it encoded a lot of these operational patterns that had developed into the actual platform. So, things like how you check if an app is healthy, if it’s ready to start accepting requests. These are things that I was doing in the shops that I was working at already, but we had to roll it ourselves; we had to invent a way to do that. But when Kelsey started talking about Kubernetes, it became apparent to me that the people who designed this thing had a lot of experience running applications in distributed systems, and they understood what you needed to be able to do that competently.

Corey: There’s something to be said for packaging and shipping expertise, and it does feel like we’re on a bit of a cusp, where the complexity has risen and risen and risen, and it’s always a sawtooth graph where things get so complicated that you then are paying people a quarter-million dollars a year to run the thing. And then it collapses in on itself. And the complexity is still there, but it’s submerged to a point where you don’t need to worry about it anymore. And it feels like we’re a couple years away from Kubernetes hitting that, but I do view that as inevitable. Is that, basically, completely out to sea? Is that something that you think is directionally correct, or something else?

Rich: I mean, I think that the thing that’s been there for a long time is, how do we take this platform and make it actually usable for people? And that’s a lot more about the whole CNCF ecosystem than Kubernetes itself. How do we make it so that we can easily monitor this thing, that we can have observability, that we can deploy applications to it? And I think what we’ve seen over the last few years is that, even more than Kubernetes itself, the tools that allow you to do those other things that you need to do to be able to run applications have exploded and gotten a lot better, I think.

Corey: The problem, of course, is the explosion part of it because we look at the other side, at the CNCF landscape diagram, and it is a hilariously overwrought picture of all of the different offerings and products and tools in the space. There are something like 400 blocks on it, the last time I checked. It looks like someone’s idea of a joke. I mean, I come up with various shitposts that I’m sort of embarrassed I didn’t come up with one anywhere near that funny.

Rich: I left SRE a few years ago, and this actually is one of the reasons. So, the explosion in tools gave me a huge amount of imposter syndrome. And I imagine I’m not the only one because you’re on Twitter, you’re hanging around, you’re seeing people talk about all these cool tools that are out there, and you don’t necessarily have a chance to play with them, let alone use them in production. And so what I would find myself doing is I would compare myself to these people who were experts on these tools. Somebody who actually invented the thing, like Joe Beda or something like that, and it’s obviously unfair to do because I’m not that person. But my brain just wants to do that. You see people out 
there that know more than you and a lot of times I would feel bad about it. And it’s an issue, I really think it is.

Corey: So, one of the problems that I ran into when I left SRE was that I was solving the same problem again and again, in rapid succession. I was generally one of the first early SRE-type hires, and, “Oh, everything’s on fire, and I know how to fix those things. We’re going to migrate out of EC2 Classic into VPCs; we’re going to set up infrastructure as code so we’re not hand-building these things from scratch every time.” And in time, we wind up getting to a point where it’s, okay, there are backups, and it’s easy to provision stuff, and things mostly work. And then it becomes tedium, where the day starts to look too much alike.

And I start looking for other problems elsewhere in the organization, and it turns out that when you don’t have strategic visibility into what other orgs are doing but tell them what they’re doing wrong, you’re not a popular person; and you’re often wrong. And that was a source of some angst in my case. The reason I started what I do now is because I was looking to do something different where no two days look alike, and I sort of found that. Do you find that with respect to developer advocacy, or does it fall into some repetitive pattern? Not there’s anything wrong with that; I wish I had the capability to do that, personally.

Rich: So, it’s interesting that you mentioned this because I’ve talked pretty publicly about the fact that I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD a few months ago. You talked about the fact that you have it as well. I loved your Twitter thread about it, by the way; I still recommend it to people. But I think the real issue for me was that as I got more advanced in my career, people assumed that because you have ‘senior’ in your title, that you’re a good project manager. It’s just assumed that as you grow technically and move into more senior roles, that you’re going to own projects. And I was just never good at that. I was always very good at reactive things, I think I was good at being on call, I think I was good at responding to incidents.

Corey: Firefighting is great for someone with our particular predilections. It’s, “Oh, great. There’s a puzzle to solve. It’s extremely critical that we solve it.” And it gets the adrenaline moving. It’s great, “Cool, now fill out a bunch of Jira tickets.” And those things will sit there unfulfilled until the day I die.

Rich: Absolutely. And it’s still not a problem that I’ve solved. I’ll preface this with the kids don’t try this at home advice because everybody’s situation is different. I’m a white guy in the industry with a lot of privilege; I’ve developed a really good network over the years; I don’t spend a lot of time worried about what happens if I lose my job, right, or how am I going to get another one. But when I got this latest job that I’m at now, I was pretty open with the CEO who interviewed me—it’s a very small company, I’m like employee number four.

And so when we talked to him ahead of time, I was very clear with him about the fact that bored Rich is bad. If Rich gets bored with what he’s doing, if he’s not engaged, it’s not going to be good for anyone involved. And so—

Corey: He’s going to go find problems to solve, and they very well may not align with the problems that you need solved.

Rich: Yeah, I think my problem is more that I disengage. Like, I lose my passion for what it is that I’m doing. And so I’ve been pretty intentional about trying to kind of change it up, make different kinds of content. I happen to be at this place that has four open-source projects, right, along with our commercial project. And so, so far at least, there’s been plenty for me to talk about. I haven’t had to worry about being bored so 

Corey: Small companies are great for that because you’re everyone does everything to some extent; you start spreading out. And the larger a company gets, the smaller your remit is. The argument I always made against working at Google, for example was, let’s say that I went in with evil in mind on day one. I would not be able—regardless of how long I was there, how high in the hierarchy I climbed—to take down for one hour—the search engine piece.

If I can’t have that much impact intentionally, then the question really becomes how much impact can I have in a positive direction with everyone supposedly working in concert with me? And the answer I always came up with was not that much, not in the context of a company like that. It’s hard for me to feel relevant to a large company. For better or worse, that is the thing that keeps me engaged is, “You know, if I get this wrong enough, we don’t have a company anymore,” is sort of the right spot for me.

Rich: [laugh]. Yeah, I mean, it’s interesting because I had been at a number of startups last few years that were fairly early stage, and when I was looking for work this last time, my impulse was to go the opposite direction, was to go to a big company, you know, something that was going to be a little more stable, maybe. But I just was so interested in what these folks were building. And I really clicked with Lukas, the CEO, when we talked, and I ended up deciding to go this route. But there’s a flip side to that.

There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with that, too. Part of me wanting to avoid being in that spotlight, in a way; part of me wanted to back off and be one of the million people building things. But I’m happy that I made this choice, and like I said, it’s been working out really well, so far.

Corey: It seems to be. You seem happy, which is always a nice thing to be able to pick up from someone in how they go about these things. Talk to me a little bit about what Loft does. You’re working on some virtual cluster nonsense that mostly sails past me. Can you explain it using small words?

Rich: [laugh]. Yeah, sure. So, if you talk to people who use Kubernetes, a lot, you are—

Corey: They seem sad all the time. But please continue.

Rich: One of the reasons that they’re sad is because of multi-tenancy in Kubernetes; it just wasn’t designed with that sort of model in mind. And so what you end up with is a couple of different things that happen. Either people build these shared clusters and feel a whole lot of pain trying to share them because people commonly use namespaces to isolate things, and that model doesn’t completely work. Because there are objects like CRDs and things that are global, that don’t live in the namespace, and so that can cause pain. Or the other option that people go with is that they just spin up a whole bunch of clusters.

So, every team or every developer gets their own cluster, and then you’ve got all this cluster sprawl, and you’ve got costs, and it’s not great for the environment. And so what we are really focused a lot on with the virtual cluster stuff is it provides people what looks like a full-blown Kubernetes cluster, but it just lives inside the namespace on your host cluster. So, it actually uses K3s, from the Rancher folks, the SUSE folks. And literally, this K3s API server sits in the namespace. And as a user, it looks to you like a full-blown Kubernetes cluster.

Corey: Got it. So, basically a lightweight [unintelligible 00:13:31] that winds up stripping out some of the overwrought complexity. Do you find that it winds up then becoming a less high-fidelity copy of production?

Rich: Sure. It’s not one-to-one, but nothing ever is, right?

Corey: Right. It’s a question of whether people admit it or not, and where they’re willing to make those trade-offs.

Rich: Right. And it’s a lot closer to production than using Docker Compose or something like that. So yeah, like you said, it’s all about trade-offs, and I think that everything that we do as technical people is about trade-offs. You can give everybody their own Kubernetes cluster, you know, would run it in GK or AWS, and there’s going to be a cost associated with that, not just financially, but in terms of the headaches for the people administering things.

Corey: The hard part from where I’ve always been sitting has just been—because again, I deal with large-scale build-outs; I come in in the aftermath of these things—and people look at the large Kubernetes environments that they’ve built and it’s expensive, and you look at it from the cloud provider perspective, and it’s just a bunch of one big noisy application that doesn’t make much sense from the outside because it’s obviously not a single application. And it’s chatty across availability zone boundaries, so it costs two cents per gigabyte. It has no [affinity 00:14:42] for what’s nearby, so instead of talking to the service that is three racks away, it talks the thing over an expensive link. And that has historically been a problem. And there are some projects being made in that direction, but it’s mostly been a collective hand-waving around it.

And then you start digging into it in other directions from an economics perspective, and they’re at large scale in the extreme corner cases, it always becomes this, “Oh, it’s more trouble than it’s worth.” But that is probably unfair for an awful lot of the real-world use cases that don’t rise to my level of attention.

Rich: Yeah. And I mean, like I said earlier, I think that it’s not the best use case for everything. I’m a big fan of the HashiCorp tools. I think Nomad is awesome. A lot of people use it, they use it for other things.

I think that one of the big use cases for Nomad is, like, running batch jobs that need to be scheduled. And there are people who use Nomad and Kubernetes both. Or you might use something like Cloud Run or AppRun, whatever works for you. But like I said, from someone who spent literally decades figuring out how to operate software and operating it, I feel like the great thing about this platform is the fact that it does sort of encode those practices.

I actually have a podcast of my own. It’s called Kube Cuddle. I talk to people in the Kubernetes community. I had Kelsey Hightower on recently, and the thing that Kelsey will tell you, and I agree with him completely, is that, you know, we talk about the complexity in Kubernetes, but all of that complexity, or a lot of it, was there already.

We just dealt with it in other ways. So, in the old days, I was the Kubernetes scheduler. I was the guy who knew which app ran on which host, and deployed them and did all that stuff. And that’s just not scalable. It just doesn’t work.

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Corey: The hardest part has always been the people aspect of things, and I think folks have tried to fix this through a lens of, “The technology will solve the problem, and that’s what we’re going to throw at it, and see what happens by just adding a little bit more code.” But increasingly, it doesn’t work. It works for certain problems, but not for others. I mean, take a look at the Amazon approach, where every team communicates via APIs—there’s no shared data stores or anything like that—and their entire problem is a lack of internal communication. That’s why the launch services that do basically the same thing as each other because no one bothers to communicate with one another. And half my job now is introducing Amazonians to one another. It empowers some amazing things, but it has some serious trade-offs. And this goes back to our ADHD aspect of the conversation.

Rich: Yeah.

Corey: The thing that makes you amazing is also the thing that makes you suck. And I think that manifests in a bunch of different ways. I mean, the fact that I can switch between a whole bunch of different topics and keep them all in state in my head is helpful, but it also makes me terrible, as far as an awful lot of different jobs, where don’t come back to finish things like completing the Jira ticket to hit on Jira a second time in the same recording.

Rich: Yeah, I’m the same way, and I think that you’re spot on. I think that we always have to keep the people in mind. You know, when I made this decision to come to Loft Labs, I was looking at the tools and the tools were cool, but it wasn’t just that. It’s that they were addressing problems that people I know have. You hear these stories all the time about people struggling with the multi-tenancy stuff and I could see very quickly that the people building the tools were thinking about the people using them, and I think that’s super important.

Corey: As I check your LinkedIn profile, turns out, no, we met back in your Puppet days, the same era that I was a traveling trainer, teaching people how to Puppet and hoping not to get myself ejected from the premises for using sarcastic jokes about the company that I was conducting the training for. And that was fun. And then I worked at a bunch of places, you worked in a bunch of places, and you mentioned a few minutes ago that we share this privilege where if one of us loses our job, the next one is going to be a difficult thing for us to find, given the skill set that we have, the immense privilege that we enjoy, and the way that this entire industry works. Now, I will say that has changed somewhat since starting my own company. It’s no longer the fear of, “Well, I’m going to land on my feet.” Rich: Right.

Corey: Yeah, but I’ve got a bunch of people who are counting on me not to completely pooch this up. So, that’s the thing that keeps me awake at night, now. But I’m curious, do you feel like that’s given you the flexibility to explore a bunch of different company types and a bunch of different roles and stretch yourself a little with the understanding that, yeah, okay. If you’ve never last five years at the same company, that’s not an inherent problem.

Rich: Yeah, it’s interesting. I’ve had conversations with people about this. If you do look up my LinkedIn, you’re going to see that a lot of the recent jobs have been less than two years: year, year and a half, things like that. And I think that I do have some of that freedom, now. Those exits haven’t always been by choice, right?

And that’s part of what happens in the industry, too. I think I’ve been laid off, like, four or five times now in my career. The worst one by far was when the bubble burst back in 2000. I was working at WebMD, and they ended up closing our office here.

Corey: You were Doctor Google.

Rich: I kind of was. So, I was actually the guy who would deploy the site back then. And it was three big Sun servers. And I would manually go in and run shell scripts and take one out of the load balancer and roll the new code on it, and then move on to the next one. And those are early days; I started in the industry in about ’95. Those early days, I just felt bulletproof because everybody needed somebody with my skills. And after that layoff in 2000, it was a lot different. The market just dried up, I went 10 months unemployed. I ended up taking a job where I took a really big pay cut in a role that wasn’t really good for me, career-wise. And I guess it’s been a little bit of a comfort to me, looking back. If I get laid off now, I know it’s not going to be as bad as that was. But I think that’s important, and one of the things that’s helped me a lot and I’m assuming it’s helped you, too, is building up a network, meeting people, making friends. I sort of hate the word networking because it has really negative connotations to it to me. The salespeople slapping each other on the back at the bar and exchanging business cards is the image that comes to my mind when I think of networking. But I don’t think it has to be like that. I think that you can make genuine friendships with people in the industry that share the interests and passions that you have.

Corey: That’s part of it. People, I think, also have the wrong idea about passion and how that interplays with career. “Do a thing that you love, and the money will follow,” is terrific advice in the United States to make about $30,000 a year. I assure you, when I started this place, I was not deeply passionate about AWS billing. I developed a passion for it as I rapidly had to become an expert in this thing.

I knew there was an expensive business problem there that leveraged the skill set that I already had and I could apply it to something that was valuable to more than just engineers because let’s face it, engineers are generally terrible customers for a variety of reasons. And by doing that and becoming the expert in that space, I developed a passion for it. I think it was Scott Galloway who in one of his talks said he had a friend who was a tax attorney. And do you think that he started off passionate about tax law? Of course not.

He was interested in making a giant pile of money. Like, his preferred seat when he flies is ‘private.’ So, he’s obviously very passionate about it now, but he found something that he could enjoy that would pay a bunch of money because it was an in-demand, expensive skill. I often wonder if instead of messing around and computers, my passion had been oil painting, for example. Would I have had anything approaching to the standard of living I have now?

The answer is, “Of course not.” It would have been a very different story. And that says many deeply troubling things about our society across the board. I don’t know how to fix any of them. I’m one of those people that rather than sitting here talking how the world should be; I deal with the world as I encounter it.

And at times, that doesn’t feel great, but it is the way that I’ve learned to cope, I guess, with the existential angst. I’m envious in some ways of the folks who sit here saying, “No, we demand a better world.” I wish I shared their optimism or ability to envision it being different than it is, but I just don’t have it.

Rich: Yeah, I mean, there are oil painters who make a whole lot of money, but it’s not many of them, right?

Corey: Yeah, but you shouldn’t have to be dead first.

Rich: [laugh]. I used to… know a painter who Jim Carrey bought one of his big canvases for quite a lot of money. So, they’re not all dead. But again, your point is very valid. We are in this bubble in the tech industry where people do make on average, I think, a lot more money than people do in many other kinds of jobs.

And I recently started thinking about possibly going into ADHD coaching. So, I have an ADHD coach myself; she has made a very big difference in my life so far. And I actually have started taking classes to prepare for possibly getting certified in that. And I’m not sure that I’m going to do it. I may stay in tech.

I may do some of both. It doesn’t have to be either-or. But it’s been really liberating to just have this vision of myself working outside of tech. That’s something that I didn’t consider was even possible for quite a long time.

Corey: I have to confess I’ve never had an ADHD coach. I was diagnosed when I was five years old and back then—my mother had it as well, and the way that it was dealt with in the ’50s and ’60s when she was growing up was, she had a teacher once physically tie her to a chair. Which—

Rich: Oh, my gosh.

Corey: —is generally frowned upon these days. And coaching was never a thing. They decided, “Oh, we’re going to medicate you to the gills,” in my case. And that was great. I was basically a zombie for a lot of my childhood.

When I was 17, I took myself off of it and figured I’d white-knuckle it for the next 10 years or so. Again, everyone’s experience is different, but for me, didn’t work, and it led to some really interesting tumultuous times in my ’20s. I’ve never explored coaching just because it feels like so much of what I do is the weirdest aspects of different areas of ADHD. I also have constraints upon me that most folks with ADHD wouldn’t have. And conversely, I have a tremendous latitude in other areas.

For example, I keep dropping things periodically from time to time; I have an assistant. Turns out that most people, they bring in an assistant to help them with stuff will find themselves fired because you’re not supposed to share inside company data with someone who is not an employee of that company. But when you own the company, as I do, it’s well, okay, I’m not supposed to share confidential client data or give access to it to someone who’s not an employee here. “Da da da da da. Welcome aboard. Your first day is Monday.”

And now I’ve solved that problem in a way that is not open to most people. That is a tremendous benefit and I’m constantly aware of how much privilege is just baked into that. It’s a hard thing for me to reconcile, so I’ve never explored the coaching angle. I also, on some level—and this is an area that I understand is controversial and I in no way, shape or form, mean any—want anyone to take anything negative away from this. There are a number of people I know where ADHD is a cornerstone of their identity, where that is the thing that they are.

That is the adjective that gets hung on them the most—by choice, in many cases—and I’m always leery about going down that path because I’m super strange ever on a whole bunch of different angles, and even, “Oh, well he has ADHD. Does that explain it?” No, not really. I’m still really, really strange. But I never wanted to go down that path of it being, “Oh, Corey. The guy with ADHD.”

And again, part of this is growing up with that diagnosis. I was always the odd kid, but I didn’t want to be quote-unquote, “The freak” that always had to go to the nurse’s office to wind up getting the second pill later in the day. I swear people must have thought I had irritable bowel syndrome or something. It was never, “Time to go to the nurse, Corey.” It was one of those [unintelligible 00:27:12]. “Wow, 11:30. Wow, he is so regular. He must have all the fiber in his diet.” Yeah, pretty much.

Rich: I think that from reading that Twitter thread of yours, it sounds like you’ve done a great job at mitigating some of the downsides of ADHD. And I think it’s really important when we talk about this that we acknowledge that everybody’s experience is different. So, your experience with ADHD is likely different than mine. But there are some things that a lot of us have in common, and you mentioned some of them, that the idea of creating that Jira ticket and never following through, you put yourself in a situation where you have people around you and structures, external structures, that compensate for the things that you might have trouble with. And that’s kind of how I’m looking at it right now.

My question is, what can I do to be the most successful Rich Burroughs that I can be? And for me right now, having that coach really helps a lot because being diagnosed as an adult, there’s a lot of self-image problems that can come from ADHD. You know that you failed at a lot of things over time; people have often pointed that out to you. I was the kid in high school who the counselors or my teachers were always telling me I needed to apply myself.

Corey: “If you just tried harder and suck a little less, then you’ll be much better off.” Yeah, “Just to apply yourself. You have so much potential, Rich.” Does any of that ring a bell?

Rich: Yeah, for sure. And, you know, something my coach said to me not too long ago, I was talking about something and I said to her, I can’t do X. Like, I’m just not—it’s not possible. And her response was, “Well, what if you could?” And I think that’s been one of the big benefits to me is she helps me think outside of my preconceptions of what I can do.

And then the other part of it, that I’m personally finding really valuable, is having the goal setting and some level of accountability. She helps with those things as well. So, I’m finding it really useful. I’m sure it’s not for everybody. And like we said, everybody’s experience with ADHD isn’t the same, but one of the things that I’ve had happened since I started talking about getting diagnosed, and what I’ve learned since then, is I’ve had a bunch of people come to me.

And it’s usually on Twitter; it’s usually in DMs; you know, they don’t want to talk about it publicly themselves, but they’ll tell me that they saw my tweets and they went out and got diagnosed or their kid got diagnosed. And when I think about the difference that could make in someone’s life, if you’re a kid and you actually get diagnosed and hopefully get better treatment than it sounds like you did, it could make a really big positive impact in someone’s life and that’s the reason that I’m considering putting doing it myself is because I found that so rewarding. Some of these messages I get I’m almost in tears when I read them.

Corey: Yeah. The reason I started talking about it more is that I was hoping that I could serve as something of, if not a beacon of inspiration, at least a cautionary tale of what not to do. But you never know if you ever get there or not. People come up and say that things you’ve said or posted have changed the trajectory of how they view their careers and you’ve had a positive impact on their life. And, I mean, you want to talk about weird Gremlins in our own minds?

I always view that as just the nice things people say because they feel like they should. And that is ridiculous, but that’s the voice in my head that’s like, “You aren’t shit, Corey, you aren’t shit,” that’s constantly whispering in my ear. And it’s, I don’t know if you can ever outrun those demons.

Rich: I don’t think I can outrun them. I don’t think that the self-image issues I have are ever going to just go away. But one thing I would say is that since I’ve been diagnosed, I feel like I’m able to be at least somewhat kinder to myself than I was before because I understand how my brain works a little bit better. I already knew about the things that I wasn’t good at. Like, I knew I wasn’t a good project manager; I knew that already.

What I didn’t understand is some of the reasons why. I’m not saying that it’s all because of ADHD, but it’s definitely a factor. And just knowing that there’s some reason for why I suck, sometimes is helpful. It lets me let myself off the hook, I guess, a little bit.

Corey: Yeah, I don’t have any answers here. I really don’t. I hope that it becomes more clear in the fullness of time. I want to thank you for taking so much time to speak with me about all these things. If people want to learn more, where can they find you?

Rich: I’m @richburroughs on Twitter, and also on Polywork, which I’ve been playing around with and enjoying quite a bit.

Corey: I need to look into that more. I have an account but I haven’t done anything with it, yet.

Rich: It’s a lot of fun and I think that, speaking of ADHD, one of the things that occurred to me is that I’m very bad at remembering the things that I accomplish.

Corey: Oh, my stars, yes. People ask me what I do for a living and I just stammer like a fool.

Rich: Yeah. And it’s literally this map of, like, all the content I’ve been making. And so I’m able to look at that and, I think, appreciate what I’ve done and maybe pat myself on the back a little bit.

Corey: Which is important. Thank you so much again, for your time, Rich. I really appreciate it.

Rich: Thanks for having me on, Corey. This was really fun.

Corey: Rich Burroughs, Senior Developer Advocate at Loft Labs. 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 along with a comment telling me what the demon on your shoulder whispers into your ear and that you can drive them off by using their true name, which is Kubernetes.

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 to get started.

Announcer: This has been a HumblePod production. Stay humble.
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