Learning How to Teach AWS to Newbies with Hiro Nishimura

Episode Summary

Hiro Nishimura is the founder of AWS Newbies, a company that helps newcomers to AWS learn the ropes. She’s also the CEO of 24 Villages, an edtech consulting company, and a technical course instructor at LinkedIn. Prior to these roles, Hiro worked as a system admin and a technical services engineer at Intersection Co., an IT support analyst at Citrin Cooperman, and an IT help desk engineer at CAC American Corporation. Join Corey and Hiro as they discuss the origin story of AWS Newbies, how it’s hard for any newcomer to get up to speed on AWS quickly, how starting a blog led Hiro to an opportunity to work with LinkedIn, why jargon and acronyms aren’t really that helpful for communicating with most people, how making content more accessible increases audience-wide engagement, why Corey thinks that explaining something to a novice can help you learn more than talking to an expert about the same topic, what made Hiro decide to go out on her own instead of joining a cloud education company, using Twitter to get business, how Hiro is overcoming health issues as an entrepreneur, and more.

Episode Show Notes & Transcript

About Hiro Nishimura
M.Ed. in Special Education from University of Maryland. Five years experience working as an IT Engineer in New York City. Now, a “Freepreneur” (Freelance Entrepreneur) in the DC suburbs.
Technical Course Instructor at LinkedIn Learning. Founder of AWS Newbies and Cloud Newbies. Founder and CEO of 24 Villages, LLC. – a Writing and Consulting company.


Announcer: Hello, and welcome to Screaming in the Cloud with your host, Cloud Economist 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.

Corey: This episode is brought to you by DigitalOcean, the cloud provider that makes it easy for startups to deploy and scale modern web applications with, and this is important to me, no billing surprises. With simple, predictable pricing that’s flat across 12 global data center regions and UX developers around the world love, you can control your cloud infrastructure costs and have more time for your team to focus on growing your business. See what businesses are building on DigitalOcean and get started for free at do.co/screaming. That’s D-O-Dot-C-O-slash-screaming and my thanks to DigitalOcean for their continuing support of this ridiculous podcast.


Corey: This episode has been sponsored by CHAOSSEARCH. If you have a log analytics problem, consider CHAOSSEARCH. They do sensible things like separating out the compute from the storage in your log analysis environment. You store the data in S3 in your account. You know where it lives, you know what it costs, and then they compress it heavily while indexing it, and then they query that data using a separately scalable fleet of containers. Therefore, the amount of data you’re storing no longer is bounded to how much compute you throw at it, as well. It’s broken that relationship, leading to over 80 percent cost savings in most environments, and being a sensible scaling strategy while still being able to access it through the API’s you’ve come to know and tolerate. To learn more visit CHAOSSEARCH.io.

Corey: Welcome to Screaming in the Cloud. I’m Corey Quinn. I’m joined this week by Hiro Nishimura, founder, and technical writer at AWSNewbies.com. Hiro, welcome to the show.

Hiro: Thanks for having me, Corey.

Corey: So, thanks for taking the time to speak with me. So, let’s start at the very beginning. What is AWS Newbies? Where did it come from, and what’s the origin story?

Hiro: Yeah, so the origin story of AWSnewbies.com is that I was an AWS newbie, and I had absolutely no idea what this whole AWS thing was. And this was a year and a half ago, actually almost two years ago. And I needed to pick a direction in my career in IT, and I needed to see what I wanted to do, because I was working as a help desk engineer, and I decided, “Hey, this cloud computing thing sounds cool. Let’s check it out.” And I really tried pretty hard to check it out, and I could not understand any of it. And I had told my manager, I’m going to take the cloud practitioner certification exam, and I signed up for it. And it had gotten to the point where I am two weeks out before the exam, and I still had absolutely no idea what any of it was, what the services were, and why all these names were so confusing, and why one of them just sounds like a street name. 

Corey: Yeah, it is not at all obvious. I mean, I remember back when I was getting started with AWS, it was overwhelming. There were too many services in the console to keep track of. I didn’t know where to begin, and there were 12 of them. Now that problem is an order of magnitude worse.

Hiro: Yeah, this was in I think, 2018. So, I think since then, it’s even blown up bigger than it was when I initially was really confused about it. Now they even have satellites going on. But, I needed to pass a certification exam. I still didn’t know anything about those EC2 instances, and I have a background in special education. So, my degrees are in special education; I just made a pivot into IT as my career. And I decided hey, the best way for me, personally, to learn is to teach and regurgitate the content back in my own words. So, I started AWSNewbies.com as a study blog for myself to pass the certification exam, and I just regurgitated all the information that I needed to know to pass the exam. And it took me, I think, around nine days to get all that information out. And then I studied my own study notes for a couple days and then took the certification exam. I passed it, and I was like, “Okay, I guess I’ll just leave it up.” You know, I had it on AWS at that point at the free tier. So, I was like, “I’ll leave it up for a year until they start charging me, and I’ll take it down. And if one or two people find it useful, that’s great.” And turns out more than one or two people found it useful. A few months later, I think, I was contacted by a content manager at LinkedIn Learning, asking if I’d be interested in creating introduction courses to AWS for non-engineers. And that just started this whole entire, I guess, new pivot in my career going like, “Wait, people are interested and wants someone who has absolutely no idea what they’re talking about has to say?” And it’s been a fresh breath, I guess, of, “Oh, hey, this is actually something that’s needed.” If I, as someone who’s pretty good at googling can’t find the answers, it means that it’s a niche that needs to be filled. So, I started—

Corey: There’s—absolutely it’s a wonderful place to start targeting. There’s always this assumption based into anything that we’ve got in any field of technology that things are super hard to learn, and then once you’re able to learn something, well, it must have been easy and everyone obviously knows it. So, it tends to lend itself as a contributing factor to a lot of the toxic oh, just read the manual, everyone knows this part. We’ll talk about the hard stuff over here. All of this is new to someone and we all have areas around which we are completely ignorant. It’s important to be able to be accessible so that other people who don’t have the same background can embrace that stuff.

Hiro: Exactly. One thing I noticed, I finally was able to deconstruct in the past, maybe a month or two, is when I was trying to study for these certification exams and figure out what even the heck this cloud computing thing was. I was taking courses and reading manuals that said, “Hey, this is for complete beginners. We’re teaching like you’re five,” you know, “This is completely fundamental beginner newbie-friendly stuff.” And I’m sitting there going, “I don’t get any of this. Am I not even at an intellectual level of a five-year-old?” And it was like, okay, one demoralizing, but two there’s something going on here that’s not correct. And I finally came to realize it’s because they are for cloud computing beginners, but not for IT or engineering beginners, so they still take for granted that you have a certain level of engineering and technical expertise and knowledge, which isn’t who I was and isn’t what I think a lot of my audiences is. A lot of my audience are people who have absolutely no technical backgrounds or came from very non-traditional technical backgrounds. So, they do have some technical backgrounds and work experience, but there’s a lot missing that’s, like, the fundamental building blocks. Which makes a lot of the technical knowledge bases and resources inaccessible because we don’t understand half the words that are written there.

Corey: Oh, absolutely not. It feels at some point, like, we’ve long since passed a Rubicon, where I can talk convincingly about even just service names in AWS for services that don’t exist, and not called out on it by AWS employees. And to the point—I’ve made that joke a couple of times now, and it’s gotten to a point now where whenever I start talking about real services, Amazon employees get nervous with the, “Are you messing with me?” look on their face, but no one wants to ask the question, because no one wants to jump out there and say, “Hi, I don’t get it,” because that’s scary, and there’s this attitude that this is probably a stupid, obvious thing that everyone in the world already knows, but I don’t. And that’s such a self-defeating way of looking at things. All of this stuff is complicated. None of it is straightforward, and we’re all trying to get through it as best we can.

Hiro: Exactly. And I’m very anti-technical jargon because I consider it gatekeeping to people who don’t have that vocabulary. And it’s just so prominent in this industry where someone would try to beat you down or try to say, “Hey, this is what you’re worth, because you know, this word, this word and this word.” But I don’t believe that’s the way you can really evaluate someone’s potential or knowledge. So, we try very hard to remove the technical jargon and keep our text and resources as, I guess, plain text as possible. 

Corey: That’s really, I think, one of the best points to do this is it’s easy to fall into jargon and acronyms and the rest. The problem is that even internally, the acronyms have multiple explanations and expansions. EBS, we talking Elastic Block Store, or Elastic Beanstalk? We know it’s elastic, but we’re not sure what kind exactly. 

Hiro: Yeah, I was wondering that too, sometimes.

Corey: I’ve never found that when I’m building a talk or putting something together that making it more accessible has served me wrong. I’ve given a few talks where it winds up being incredibly detailed and very arcane technically, and maybe four people in the room understood the nuances of what I was talking about, and the rest of the room looked at me, like I was completely out to sea. And they weren’t entirely wrong. I had completely done a swing and a miss on some of this. But that wasn’t useful for anyone. Making this much more broadly applicable and accessible to everyone was way more engaging for the audience. And, to echo something you said earlier, there’s nothing that teaches you something better than teaching it to someone else.

Hiro: Yeah, exactly. And when you have to sit back and read what you’ve written to say, and then really ask yourself, “Hey, is this word as accessible as I think it is?” Like, am I taking for granted this vast amount of knowledge that I’ve accumulated over the past 10 years of my career and using this word because it’s easy for me, and it means I don’t have to do the hard work of describing it and explaining it? I think a lot of people would really benefit from taking that few extra minutes and really going, hey, this word, is it really as, “obvious,” quote-unquote, as I think it is? Because a lot of things, I feel like we take for granted a lot of things. I guess, humans are inherently lazy, but we want to do as little as possible. And if that means we can lean on words and concepts that maybe isn’t as accessible as you think it is, I think a lot of talks and a lot of documentations would benefit a lot from that.

Corey: I think that that is something that needs to be socialized a lot more. Instead, it’s felt, for example, that, “Oh, you’re giving an intro talk, you must obviously not be quite as good with this stuff as the rest.” Nonsense. I find that even the areas in which I’m a, I guess, relative expert, although I hate the term expert. I find that by actually explaining it to someone who knows nothing about it, I learned more about that topic than I do when having discussions with someone who’s super deep in the weeds, because you don’t really know something until you have to find multiple ways of explaining the same concept. And if you don’t have a very solid grounding, you’re going to find yourself quickly stammering, and out of your depth.

Hiro: Yeah, they do say the best way to show that you actually explained something is to explain it, you know, like your grandmother or your five-year-old. If you can’t do that, you’re not actually an expert. And I think that’s very true. It’s very hard to deconstruct it to that fundamental building blocks, and really get in the nitty-gritty and explain it out to people. So…

Corey: Well, when I gave one of my talks, Terrible Ideas in Git one time, I said, “I had to still get down to the point where my mother could understand it.” And that wasn’t to speak to sexism or ageism, but rather because my mother was sitting in the front row to support me in that talk. Huge laugh from the audience and it went well and at the end of it, my response to my mother was, “Great, so did you understand what I talked about?” She said, “Not a clue. Computers aren’t my thing, but you sound like you know what you’re doing. And I’m very proud of you.” Which, awesome, terrific. Great. Then she asked me why I couldn’t have been a doctor. But that’s a whole separate argument.

Hiro: Well, I guess you didn’t really pass that test. But, um—

Corey: No, no it’s a parent’s primary job is to be disappointed in you, as far as I understand it.

Hiro: It’s very true.

Corey: This episode is sponsored by ExtraHop. ExtraHop provides threat detection and response for the Enterprise (not the starship) on-prem security doesn’t translate well to cloud or multi-cloud environments. And that’s not even counting IoT. ExtraHop automatically discovers everything inside the perimeter, including your cloud workloads and IoT devices, detects these threats up to 35 percent faster, and helps you act immediately. Ask for a free trial of detection and response for AWS today at ExtraHop.com/trial.

Corey: Changing gears slightly, I know that I’ve had a number of questions about this over the past few years myself, but talking to someone else who’s done something very similar, well, let’s talk a little bit about what it’s like to effectively go independent in the world of AWS. Why did going down that path rather than joining one of the cloud education companies, or becoming a trainer through some third party service or whatnot, but instead of going down that path, what made you decide to strike out on your own?

Hiro: So, I quit my full-time job as a sysadmin at a tech startup in New York half a year ago back in June. And, surprisingly enough, the options you just mentioned of going into a training company or somewhere else full time just didn’t even cross my mind, because I felt like one of the biggest pros of me going independent and freelance was that I will finally have control over my own time and my own, I guess, direction of what I wanted to do what I thought was important and where I wanted to take my time and efforts. And, when you work in a company, it’s not up to you really what you create, or how you create it, when you create it. It’s up to the big boss, and I felt like if I’m going to take the leap and get out of corporate, then I’m going to get out of corporate and do what I thought was important. One of the most important things to me right now is that time constraint by other entities is really not a thing. And I have a choice in what my priorities are. And my priorities are to, kind of, give back to the community and create resources and areas of, I guess, networking and asking questions that didn’t exist when I was trying to get into cloud computing. So, with a corporate job, it’s not as easy to do that, and you have to, I guess, balance, the stability, and the income, and the benefits of corporate versus going freelance. But to me, the ability to direct my efforts where I think is important was really important.

Corey: That echos is my experience as well. Back when I was an employee other places, having a conversation with management was always entertaining. It’s like, “So, Corey, we have a challenge around some things you do.” “Oh, really? Like what?” “Well, basically everything you say to anyone at any time in public or private.” Like, “Oh, great, good, good, good. My personality works exactly the way you’d think it would in the context of a large company. And I always found myself being extremely unemployable and being told that the way I approach things was going to hold me back. It was a severe limiting factor. So, I finally, I snapped and finally said, “All right, either this is true, and I’m going to try it and prove it, and then I can always go by my middle name or something, once I’m completely unemployable under my real name, and then go back to a job, but now I know.” Or there’s something to it, and maybe I see something other folks don’t. And so far it seems to be working. So, I don’t pretend to be able to say I predicted this, it was just an experiment and I expected it to fail. I built success criteria and failure criteria, and figured, all right, let’s see what happens. And it turned into a consulting business, a newsletter, this podcast and another and, more or less, the Corey Quinn show as I like to talk about it sometimes, where it’s just me being out in public and doing my zany, sarcastic snarky observational thing.

Hiro: Yeah, you could totally trademark your appearances. We all know exactly when you’ve started your snarking.

Corey: Yeah, it’s one of those weird things where it’s finally—Twitter took me a long time to crack that nut, just because I was on there for seven or eight years and basically had zero traction. And then I just, sort of, found a way to make it work for me and it’s, sort of, been growing ever since. It’s weird, but it turned into a marketing vehicle where people hear about me on Twitter, and then come and talk to me about the actual serious, expensive business problem that they have that I talked about. I would not have predicted that that pipeline or funnel would have worked.

Hiro: Yeah, Twitter is honestly where I get most of my business, too, of people finding out what I do and the content and things I write, and—off my Twitter because I post basically everything I do on Twitter, and companies or individuals or small businesses will come through Twitter saying, “Hey, so would you be interested in writing this for us?” Or, “Would you be interested in making these courses for us?” And people are like, “Oh, no, what are you doing on social media all the time?” I’m like, “No, no, no, this is for business. I swear I’m not just posting another cat meme.” Which I definitely am, but I’m sure you know it’s for business, [laughing] net positive.

Corey: Oh yeah, a few years ago, I was online, looking up something, I think I was on Reddit at that point, and my boss walked past and looked at my screen and said, “Is that really the best use of your time right now?” At which point I realized I was not going to thrive in that type of environment, I needed to be able to embrace, like, various paths and go down things. And doing work doesn’t always look like typing code into an editor forty hours a week, at least I hope it doesn’t. Finding things that resonate with the way I saw the world was important to me. For a big part of it, it was—I built my company around, I guess, my own personality defects. There are things I didn’t want to do on an ongoing basis, So, I built out ways to not have to do them. I didn’t want to write production code for people because, honestly, I’m terrible at it, and I also don’t enjoy it. So, cool, advisory work only instead of writing code, that opened up the approach. One thing that I really admire about what you’ve done is you’re also in the space of selling products, whether it’s videos or courses, where you get to front-load a fair bit of that work, and then you’re done with it, And you can continue to sell that to various customers on an ongoing longtail basis. With the services delivery and consulting, I’m only as good as my last project.

Hiro: Yeah, that’s actually one of the biggest reasons why I do enjoy creating courses or ebooks, or whatever, to front load. Though it, I guess costs more in time and effort that you’re not getting paid for until that reaps benefits. But I have a couple disabilities, I have a lot of illnesses and whatnot, which require me to really be cognizant of how I use my energy and time because I’m not guaranteed to be able to work tomorrow or next week or next month. Heck, like, a whole month could go and I hadn’t written anything because of whatever health issues I’m going through. And I began side hustling and trying to figure out if there’s a more sustainable way for me to work when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis a couple of years ago, and the permanent disability rate of that is very high. And being unable to work was one of those big scary things for me, especially in this economy. 

Corey: Oh, yeah. 

Hiro: And so at the time I was doing full time, commuting to an office 45 minutes each way in new york. And so being able to move, being able to commute, and then stay there for eight, nine hours and do physical work, and then come home and then do everything else that life needs you to do. It was getting really, really hard. And I was thinking to myself, if I can’t sustain this, then I won’t be able to work. And if I can’t work, I’m pretty much screwed. And so I started thinking about how can I work and change the way I work so that I can continue working, even if I develop permanent physical limitations. And beyond that, what are the kinds of work that I can do that I need to get started on developing so that when something like that happens—or I need time for myself, so for example, I was taking care of a family member for a month last month, and I was gone basically the whole entire month, but no one noticed because I’m completely remote, and it’s one of those things where I didn’t really do any actual work. But the amount of income that I had was almost the same, other than the months that I had really buffed up income because I wrote something big or produce something big. It was the same because I have passive income coming in, which doesn’t matter if I’m working or not. And so, personal finance and financial independence was a really important topic for the past couple of years. And that’s one of the biggest reasons why I really like this idea of creating courses that can be done when I have enough energy and then just go for as long as it goes.

Corey: That’s, I think, a really important thing to consider too. I wound up having terrible timing, and almost everything I’ve done in business where I started this company—I left my last job and started this company two weeks before we found out we were expecting our child. Protip: don’t do that. And, something that I found the first year, I mean, it was not a good year financially, my first year in business because it turns out that someone no one has ever heard of pops up and claims to be a subject matter expert in the world of fixing bills in cloud computing. Yeah, how plausible. Yeah, that sounds like something that could happen. It took time to build traction and the rest. And for me, one of the hard parts was living in San Francisco. At any point, I could have said, “The hell with this.” Walked down the street, gotten a job at any random tech company, and made many times what I made that first year and had done a lot less work. So, there were days that that was sorely tempting. It was hard to, I guess, continue to muster the energy to go and do it and do this thing before it found any form of success. That was the hard part for me.

Hiro: Yeah, I think one of the reasons why I felt this level of okay—I mean, I don’t make that much money, but I make this, like, very base level income without basically doing work because of the passive income. And that, plus the fact that I’ve been in this space for, I guess, a year and a half now, over a year before—at the point where I quit my full-time job, I had been in this AWS Newbies space for almost a year. And even though it was only a year, it was, like, a very, very, I guess, deep year where a lot of people and a lot of, I guess, companies found out about what I do, and were interested in my work. So, when I said, “Hey, I quit.” A lot of people reached out going, “Hey, so we’ve been waiting. Let’s work together.” And that to me was really exciting because, for the first time, I wasn’t the one that had to be begging for scraps. I could be the person that gets to pick and choose the projects that I think is cool, that I want to work on. And to have that tiny security in the first half-year of going freelance, I think was extremely big in keeping me from wavering too much that, “Oh, maybe I made this really, really deep mistake and I need to go back to full-time job.” It also helps that I am not expecting a child and I just have a kitten to take care of but—

Corey: That does change things around a bit. It definitely is a priority shuffle at some point.

Hiro: Just a tiny bit.

Corey: It is also a—on the other side of things, it did light a fire, where it’s I’ve got to turn this into a success or alternately, I need to find a way to do something else in short order just because it’s, at some point, you have to understand that to folks who are not as deeply engaged in cloud computing, or the aspects of marketing of a small business, it looks an awful lot like you’re not really doing work so much as you are aggressively shitposting on Twitter all day. And it’s difficult sometimes to articulate the direct business benefit of such behaviors, so there has to be some demonstrable success tied to that, or people tend to lose interest and patience with waiting for the thing to hit.

Hiro: Yeah, definitely. A lot of people really don’t understand what I do. When I was about to quit my job, I told my coworker that I put in my notice, and they’re like, “Oh, are you going to be okay? What are you going to do?” And I said, “Oh, I’m not—” “Where are you going next?” And I said, “I’m not going anywhere next. I’m going freelance.” And they’re like, “Oh, so you’re going to do, like, Upwork or Uber.” And I’m like, “No.” But I guess that’s—

Corey: That sounds like a good way to starve to death slowly. Anytime you start doing things that involve billing by the hour or providing commoditized services or whatnot, it always turns, sooner or later, into a race to the bottom. It’s applying expertise and solving expensive problems seems to be the path to at least reasonable success for small independent consultancies, at least, or small product-focused companies. I don’t know how well that would scale up. I mean, VCs think that my entire model is ridiculous. They’ve dismissively told me, “Yeah, you can make I don’t know 10 million bucks a year on this eventually, sure, but we don’t see a $500 million exit for you.” At which point I stared at them and had to ask what planet they thought I lived on. Wow, if I don’t make half a billion dollars in my life, I will be a failure it—I guess I evaluate myself by a different rubric.

Hiro: How could you Corey? You’re not going to make half a billion dollars? What a failure. Only 10 million a year. I don’t know how you’re going to live with yourself. Your mother will be so disappointed.

Corey: Oh my god. Yeah. Oh, I’ll never be forgiven for that. It’s a great—like, a VC comes by like, “Hey, if we invested $2 million in your company, what could you do? “And I have a laundry list of things that could happen. They’re like, “Cool. What if we invested three and a half billion dollars? What could you do then?” And the only acceptable answer is something monstrous that is terrible for everyone in society. There’s no good answer for a company like this at that level of capitalization.

Hiro: No, and I honestly—scaling is something I’ve been thinking about—scaling is another one of those technical jargons, but I do like the word scaling—and scaling is definitely something I thought about because a lot of stuff like writing or producing content, it’s what I can get done with my limited resources and time. And I’m like, this is not that scalable as a business, but at the same time, I’m also wondering, does it need to really become that multi-million dollar company? It just needs to feed me, my family, my cat and produce this system where I don’t have to worry about money to pay my medical bills, and God knows my medical bills are off the charts. So, it’s one of those things where I want to balance my quality of life, versus how much I really put into this work. And also, I think when I start thinking, too, oh, how do I make this bigger, I lose sight of what I’m trying to build and start trying to build something that will get me more income perhaps, but I don’t think in the end it is what my brand is or what I want to accomplish, which is to make tech accessible for more people, and unfortunately, a lot of the people who I want to access my content, they are not that well off and that’s why they want to make a career change into tech. It’s like one of those, oh, which one do I pick the money or my, I guess, my goals or ambition.

Corey: Yeah, there’s this poisonous approach in tech where if it’s not a SaaS product with the potential to scale to millions of people with minimal intervention on the business side, that it’s not worth doing, I find that ridiculous. I don’t need to be, effectively the next Uber for cars or whatever the heck it is people are doing next. That’s not how I evaluate success. Solving an expensive problem is important and being able to reinvent myself from time to time—I’m going to be incredibly depressed if AWS doesn’t fix their billing situation before I retire. That just means that they have completely failed their customers. I want to focus on other things. I want to move on and do new and interesting things. I think you’re perfectly well positioned in that context, too, where this stuff doesn’t get easier over time and it doesn’t get less broad and people are not going to suddenly lose interest. Once you find a way to teach complex concepts to people in a way that’s accessible and approachable, that can be applied to a lot of different things. And that’s a skill that never goes out of style.

Hiro: Yeah, I definitely feel that, I really feel that personally because I like, okay, I’ve talked about AWS for the past two years now. And I’m sure I can talk about it for another couple of years, maybe, but then I’m going to want to move on. But if this whole entire, “Hey, let’s introduce Amazon Web Services, and cloud computing to people without traditional tech background is not fixed in, I guess, the five years I was trying to do something about it, I would also be a little depressed about the way tech is going because clearly it’s a problem, and I’m trying so hard to tell people that this is a problem, and if some big fix that’s not a band-aid doesn’t come up in the next couple of years, it’ll be very disappointing.

Corey: And there’s always going to be other options to pivot. Easy example is explaining at a high level what all these things mean and what the consequences are to business-level decision-makers. Those people have money, they need to be instructed and what these things are, they don’t need to go down into the how to work with it level, but they need to understand enough of what’s involved to be able to evaluate for themselves whether something is worth pursuing, and by being an external voice that doesn’t have an agenda or a vested interest in a particular outcome, there’s tremendous value in something like that. And there are countless other examples there for you to continue expanding to if it makes sense.

Hiro: Yeah, yeah, definitely. Or maybe you know, by that point, I would have pivoted to another career, because I have a very bad track record of keeping to one thing for a very long time.

Corey: You’re telling me. Before I started this thing, I’d never stayed at a company longer than two years and that one that I stayed at for two years; a consulting company where I was changing clients every few months.

Hiro: Yeah, yeah. No, I mean, my background in special ed and the longest I was at a company was for two and a half years. But, um, yeah, and then I quit. So, there’s that.

Corey: So, if people want to learn more about what you’re up to, how you view the world, etcetera, where can they find you?

Hiro: Yeah, so one place, that like you, I am always living in his Twitter. So, my Twitter username is @Hiroko, H-I-R-O-K-O, and then my last name, N as in Nancy, I-S-H-I, M as in Mary, U-R-A [ed: @Hirokonishimura]. You can find the same name if you go to twitter.com/AWSNewbies, then my username is on the profiles, if that’s easier to find.

Corey: And we’ll put a link to that in the [show notes 00:33:45] as well.

Hiro: Yeah, great. And then AWSNewbies.com, and IntroToAWS.com are where I list my resources, and my courses, my ebooks, stuff like that, everything to get you started with cloud computing and AWS, minus all the technical jargons. And I recently started a community of both seasoned pros and the cloud newbies called CloudNewbies.com and it’s, like, a Discord of people who both want to learn and also are interested in teaching or being the sounding board for beginner questions to learn about cloud computing, or AWS, or Microsoft Azure. It’s cloud-agnostic, so you can come in with any cloud question, or if you’re studying for a certification exam you can study together with other people in the community who are studying. And it was like a community was something I’ve been wanting to build since the beginning, but I just didn’t have the time or the technical headspace to execute it. And I finally did earlier this year, so I’m very excited about that, where people who are completely new can come in and be like, “Hey, I don’t get this one concept. I tried so hard to understand it, but all these technical documentations aren’t helping me.” So, that’s one project. And yeah, I mean, Twitter is where you can probably find out a lot of what I do and all the dumb things I talk about every day, and too many cats.

Corey: I just signed up for the Cloud Newbies society myself, as well, on Discord. I’ve never used Discord before, so we’ll see how that works out. But yeah, I’m always a fan of trying to find places people can chat and talk about these things. There needs to be more of them.

Hiro: Yeah, and the focus here is—I joined a lot of Slacks and Discord channels, where we talk about AWS and a lot of the problems or questions, but they tend to be a lot more engineer-y and nitty-gritty and higher level than what the level of questions that I would want to ask or what I can contribute as a member. So, I really wanted to create a place where newbies can come in and ask their questions and follow conversations that are more inclusive. So, I’m really excited to see where this goes because I would very much love to have had a community like this when I first started and tried to figure out what the heck cloud computing is.

Corey: Yeah, I think that’s going to be a fantastic way for people to like, engage with it. I’m always a fan of finding different ways of reaching people. Some folks love videos, some people love podcasts, some people love asynchronous chat, some people like real-time conference calls, it really just depends. Everyone learns differently, so having different ways to embrace them in ways that resonate with them is critically important.

Hiro: I agree. Yeah, it’s one of those things where you have to reach your audience where they are at, and a lot of times, they’re not going to come to this brand new different thing, they want they’re used to, so it’s like, “Hey, if you’d like to chat, come chat with us. If you want to read about different career opportunities in the cloud, here’s a blog. If you want a course I’ve got courses too.” It’s just like everything.

Corey: Excellent. And I will throw links to that in the [show notes 00:37:14] as well. Hiro, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. I appreciate it.

Hiro: Of course. Thanks for having me.

Corey: Hiro Nishimura, founder of AWSNewbies.com. I’m Corey Quinn. This is Screaming in the Cloud. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please leave a five star review in Apple Podcasts. If you’ve hated this podcast, please leave a five star review in Apple Podcasts and tell me what my problem is in the comments.

Announcer: This has been this week’s episode of Screaming in the Cloud. You can also find more Corey at ScreamingintheCloud.com or wherever fine snark is sold.

This has been a HumblePod production. Stay humble.

Newsletter Footer

Get the Newsletter

Reach over 30,000 discerning engineers, managers, enthusiasts who actually care about the state of Amazon’s cloud ecosystems.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Sponsor Icon Footer

Sponsor an Episode

Get your message in front of people who care enough to keep current about the cloud phenomenon and its business impacts.