Season 1 Episode 5 Jun 10, 2020

How Hobbies Like Powerlifting, Auto Repair, and Music Can Make You a Better Developer

Pitch

We all understand that work is important, but hobbies are just as important, and they can even directly or indirectly make you more successful in your work. We chat with Milecia McGregor, senior UI engineer at Mediavine, and Kayla Sween, user experience engineer at Dogly.

Description

Sometimes, as developers, we can get so wrapped up and absorbed in our work that that it becomes an all-consuming force in our lives. We get into why we shouldn't forget to have outside hobbies and passions, and how they can even help in mitigating things like burnout, imposter syndrome, and can also help with problem solving, as well as soft skills. To talk about how their own myriad of hobbies have made them better developers, we are joined by Milecia McGregor, senior UI engineer at Mediavine, and author of the DEV post, "Why It's Important To Have Hobbies Outside Of Tech," and Kayla Sween, user experience engineer at Dogly, and author of the post, "Powerlifting has made me a better developer."

Hosts

Ben Halpern

Ben Halpern is co-founder and webmaster of DEV.

Jess Lee

Jess Lee is co-founder of DEV.

Guests

Milecia McGregor

Milecia is a senior software engineer and has a master's degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering, with published research in machine learning and robotics. She started Flipped Coding to teach people how to code with real-world projects and she publishes articles covering all aspects of software.

Kayla Sween

Kayla Sween is a front-end developer who is passionate about UX and inclusive web design. She strives to make the web easier to use for everyone. Kayla also is a competitive powerlifter, proud dog mom, and wife. Job Info: UX Engineer, Dogly

Show Notes

Audio file size

53871184

Duration

00:37:28

Transcript

[00:00:00] JL: Hey, Dev Discuss listeners, we’ll mail you a small thank you gift if you send us a screenshot of your Apple Podcasts review by June 30th. All you have to do is fill out the form at tiny.cc/devdiscuss. This season of Dev Discuss is sponsored by Heroku. Heroku is a platform that enables developers to build, run, and operate applications entirely in the cloud. It streamlines development, allowing you to focus on your code, not your infrastructure. Also, you’re not locked into the service. So why not start building your apps today with Heroku?

 

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[00:01:27] KS: One way or another, whatever you learn from that hobby is still going to trace back to your coding at some point.

 

[00:01:32] MM: Not everything you do has to be career related.

 

[00:01:35] KS: Yeah.

 

[00:01:35] MM: It’s so okay to just go stare at a wall for an hour.

 

[00:01:52] BH: Welcome to Dev Discuss, the show where we cover the burning topics that impact all our lives as developers. I’m Ben Halpern, co-founder of Dev.

 

[00:01:59] JL: And I’m Jess Lee, also a co-founder of Dev. Today, we’re Talking hobbies that either directly or indirectly helped your developer skills. And we’re joined by Milecia McGregor, Senior UI Engineer at Mediavine, and Kayla Sween, a User Experience Engineer at Dogly. Thank you both so much for joining us.

 

[00:02:17] MM: Yeah. Thanks for having me.

 

[00:02:18] KS: Yeah. Thank you.

 

[00:02:19] BH: So I think this is a topic that is perhaps more important than ever, since we’re all sort of stuck at home right now. And we invited you both on the show because you’ve written about how your hobbies have helped you become better developers. So first, let’s just talk about how you got into software in the first place. Kayla, do you want to kick us off?

 

[00:02:38] KS: Yeah. So originally, I actually decided I wanted to go to school for aerospace engineering, but I changed my mind and decided to go into computer science. And so my goal in life was to just stay in academia, but I started my master’s program and got a job and found out that working is a lot more fun than going to school and also getting paid. So I dropped out when I was in the master’s program. I was really interested in doing UX and accessibility stuff and that wasn’t the kind of specialization I could get at school at the time. And then so that’s led me to here.

 

[00:03:16] JL: Cool. There’s another person on our team that was an aerospace engineer student that is now a developer.

 

[00:03:23] BH: Milecia, how about yourself?

 

[00:03:25] MM: Actually, I joined in on the engineer party. I did not save that much time. I went and get my bachelor’s and master’s in mechanical and aerospace engineering. But then I switched to like robotics and AI for my thesis, which led me to get into programming and then a lot of weird stuff happened and somehow I ended up in web development.

 

[00:03:52] KS: That’s really cool.

 

[00:03:53] MM: I’m still trying to figure out that middle part.

 

[00:03:55] JL: What kind of work do you do at Mediavine?

 

[00:03:58] MM: So right now I’m a senior front-end engineer. So I mainly work with like React apps and oddly WordPress plugins.

 

[00:04:08] JL: What about front end development resonates with you both?

 

[00:04:12] MM: For me, I actually just switched over from Full Stack. I have been doing a little bit of front end, back end, dev ops database, all of it, but JavaScript is like artsy to me because you can make cool things appear on the screen and you can’t necessarily do that with data. So that’s kind of where I started shifting is just, I don’t know, JavaScript’s cool and I like to see the stuff that I make.

 

[00:04:41] KS: So I got lucky and that my first job was as a front end developer and they kind of put me in charge of becoming their accessibility expert. I just got really lucky. That was how I found front-end development. It was the first thing I tried and I immediately loved it.

 

[00:04:59] JL: So, yeah, we’re here to talk about hobbies. Milecia, you wrote a piece on Dev titled “Why It’s Important To Have Hobbies Outside Of Tech”. Would you like to share what some of your hobbies are?

 

[00:05:09] MM: I actually practice Kung Fu. I play the ukulele and the harmonica. I’ve been attempting to learn how to dance. That’s not going too well, but yeah, just pretty much if there’s a random thing that I can get up and go do, I’m probably going to try it at least once.

 

[00:05:29] JL: Cool. That’s a really good attitude.

 

[00:05:31] BH: And why do you think it’s particularly important to have hobbies outside of tech?

 

[00:05:35] MM: The culture has this pressure for you to just stay on top of everything, whatever new library comes out, language, just stay ahead of the code. So it’s taken some time to do stuff that gets you out of the head space. It really helps clear up what I’m thinking about, how I’m thinking about things and actually how I talk to other people because not everybody is a developer and I had to relearn that. So I can’t just talk in if-then statements. I have to use real words now and relearning that is more painful than anything I’ve had to learn and take.

 

[00:06:18] JL: Yeah. From what I’ve heard, you’ve also done some car maintenance and I just want to ask you what that is like, because I changed my first alternator a few months ago.

 

[00:06:29] MM: That’s so cool. Congrats.

 

[00:06:32] JL: Thanks. I felt really cool doing it.

 

[00:06:35] MM: When I was growing up, I used to work on cars with my grandpa. So right now I’m working on rebuilding this 1977 Chevy Monte Carlo and doesn’t have any type of computer components on it, and it’s just awesome getting out there with a wrench and getting dirty without being in front of a monitor or thinking about code. I’m under this car and I hope the check doesn’t give out.

 

[00:07:05] JL: Well, so like while you’re under the car, do you feel like some of these non-developer hobbies have actually helped make you a better developer?

 

[00:07:12] MM: I do. It’s just sometimes when I get really deep into a bug or something or I run into a problem and I’ve just been working on it for days and I’m about ready to throw the computer out the window, it gives me a different way to think about bugs. Like instead of immediately jumping on the Google and diving into Stack Overflow, I’ll actually just start taking things apart, kind of like I would with like a carburetor or something. It’s like, “Okay. Is this pin still there? Is the spring still holding the right tension or whatever?” And that weirdly translates to bugs in my mind. Or if I’m playing a ukulele song, maybe it’ll help me make sense out of some architectural question I had. I don’t know. My brain just kind of jumps all over the place, so I need things to connect it to.

 

[00:08:10] JL: Yeah. And I think just getting away from that screen just helps.

 

[00:08:14] BH: And Kayla, you wrote a piece entitled “Powerlifting has made me a better developer”. Tell us how you got into powerlifting.

 

[00:08:21] KS: I started like just generally weightlifting and stuff probably about five, six years ago, to improve my physique. I wanted to lose a little weight. So about four years into doing that, maybe three or four years into just going to the gym and lifting weights, I started doing this like free kind of intro to powerlifting program, I guess. And I was working out one day and I ran into this guy who was like a middle-aged guy who had competed in powerlifting. He and his wife were working out and I was doing deadlifts that day. And so that guy said, “You know, you should consider competing.” And I honestly never thought about it until then. And so went home, did a little research, maybe a couple months later. So I remember my first meet and here we are.

 

[00:09:07] BH: Kayla, can you tell the audience what powerlifting actually is? I’m sure there’s lots of folks who are not really familiar with the sport.

 

[00:09:14] KS: Powerlifting is a competitive sport that’s comprised of the squat, the bench, and the deadlift. And so in each of those lifts, you’ll have three attempts to lift as much weight as you possibly can. And so at the end of the meet, all of your best lifts in those three will be added together and that’ll be your total at the end. And so the person that has the highest total compared to their weight will be like the winner of the meet and then there’s also winners of each weight class. And I guess I should also compare it like in regards to like weightlifting too, because weightlifting is a separate competitive sport and that’s powerlifting and weightlifting often get confused. Weightlifting is like you’ll do the clean and jerk and the snatch. And so those are both overhead movements. And powerlifting has no overhead movements. You don’t have to be coordinated to do it. You do have to have some level of coordination to do weightlifting, which is why I’ve been kind of afraid to try it. I have never been athletic at all. And I tried a lot of sports growing up and was bad at all of them. So finding powerlifting was kind of like… Both of my parents grew up as athletes and so I kind of felt like I needed to do that too. And I just wasn’t good at any of it. And so finding powerlifting was really like something where I could be like, “Oh, great. I’m not the black sheep of the family now.” But my parents never treated me like that or anything.

 

[00:10:35] MM: That’s how I ended up doing Kung Fu.

 

[00:10:38] KS: That’s awesome.

 

[00:10:39] BH: Jess, I feel like you got into climbing for a lot of the same reasons. How do you sort of feel about that?

 

[00:10:44] JL: Yeah. So climbing was probably the first “sport”, I mean, I don’t even know if people call it a sport, but it’s totally athletic.

 

[00:10:52] KS: Yeah.

 

[00:10:55] JL: Yeah. It was like the first thing that I really felt good about and it got me into like a really good routine of working out because I like to joke that I’m not a team player because of so many of the team sports involve balls and like hitting them and having that type of coordination. And I just love climbing because it’s really a lot of problem solving and you’re just using your full body and just lots of body awareness. I don’t know. There’s something just also kind of visceral about it because you’re like trying to climb to the top of something. So it’s very satisfying.

 

[00:11:25] MM: That is cool.

 

[00:11:26] BH: And Kayla, can you speak a little bit to how powerlifting made you a better developer and just to that importance of having hobbies outside of software?

 

[00:11:34] KS: I feel like it’s a great hobby for developers to have just because we’re notoriously an inactive bunch of folks and it’s kind of taught me that some days you’re going to have bad days and some days you won’t be able to lift as much as you lifted the day before. It’s going to get really discouraging as sometimes development gets discouraging. It’s good to have, like, just to know that that aspect is another areas of life too and knowing that you can take a break from that. Like if you’re having a bad day powerlifting, then maybe you didn’t recover well enough, maybe you didn’t sleep well enough the night before, things like that. There’s a ton of factors that could come into play whenever you’re not performing as well as you feel like you should either at work or in the gym.

 

[00:12:16] BH: Yeah. Powerlifting is really one of those hobbies where you’re taught to weigh yourself against your previous self instead of other people around you. Even though it’s a competitive sport, most of the effort is about asking yourself, “Can I do better than I did yesterday?” And not, “Can I do better than that other person over on that other side of the gym?” Because they’re in a whole different context than you.

 

[00:12:40] KS: Yeah. It is nice to win gold medals, but, yeah, at the end of the day, you are competing against yourself. Like powerlifting is a highly individualized sport, unless you’re competing like in the most elite category of powerlifters, then yeah. Your main focus shouldn’t really be to win gold at every meeting. It should be to do better than you did last time.

 

[00:13:15] JL: Commerce.js is an ecommerce platform that is changing the way developers are introduced to and experience the world of custom ecommerce. Commercejs sits around your code, your designs, your stack, not the other way around. This means that you can actually take full control from the storefront, to the checkout, to the receipt. Head to commercejs.com/devto. It’s free to sign up with platform wide features and no trial windows.

 

[00:13:41] BH: With DigitalOcean’s cloud infrastructure, you’ll be able to build faster and scale easier from predictable pricing, to flexible configurations, to world-class customer support. You’ll get access to all the infrastructure services you need to grow. Plus, DigitalOcean’s community provides over 2,000 tutorials to help you stay up to date with the latest open source software, languages and frameworks. Get started on DigitalOcean for free with the $100 credit at DO.co/devdiscuss. I’m so jealous of your story, Kayla, because I’ve been really desperate to get into something like powerlifting as a hobby. I actually used to play sports all through college. I played football and weightlifting was a component of that and I expected that maybe when I was done playing the sport, I might get into powerlifting. I actually was among the strongest bench press athlete on my team. I actually had bench pressed 400 pounds in college.

 

[00:14:40] KS: Wow!

 

[00:14:42] BH: And I think it’s easier said than done sometimes to adopt a hobby, even if you’re good at the thing, even if you want to adopt it, I think software can be so all consuming sometimes as a hobby, like I sort of sometimes spend too much hobby time at my computer. I think that’s what it really boils down to and I continue to want to get into powerlifting because I know I enjoy the activity. Maybe I love the game of football kind of more as my main thing and the pure weightlifting was kind of a means to that end, but I really loved it. And somehow it’s easier said than done to actually get into the hobby itself and stick to it and keep going back, no matter what it is, whether it’s cars or powerlifting. I think like it requires a bit of commitment, but once it clicks, it’s such an important part of our lives.

 

[00:15:33] JL: So Ben, just now you mentioned that you have some like coding projects you do as your hobby and I think that’s worth talking about. If you’re coding by day and also coding by night, I think it can be a pretty slippery slope. Have either of you had a side project that was a hobby, but then you found yourself “working” the entire time?

 

[00:15:57] KS: Yeah, absolutely.

 

[00:15:58] MM: Definitely.

 

[00:16:00] JL: What are some of those projects?

 

[00:16:02] KS: So for me, it was like when I was in my last job, I kind of wanted to transition to a position where I was doing more React stuff. I was an angular developer previously and kind of wanted to get out of that ecosystem. And so I found myself going to work, doing Angular development all day, coming home, doing React development all night. I have a personal website I built with React and trying to have some projects and more portfolios so that I could find a new job doing React stuff. And so it got to the point where I was like, “I just didn’t want to do anything anymore.” I didn’t want to code anymore like at all just because I was doing it all the time and just going too hard and one thing for me has been a proven way to get burned out in it.

 

[00:16:45] MM: Definitely. I have a problem with jumping down random rabbit holes. So I wanted to make an air guitar somehow. And I found these like EEG sensors and these muscle sensors and then I found myself buying neuroscience books and then I looked up and I was really confused. Then I just didn’t do anything for a few days.

 

[00:17:12] JL: And that is okay.

 

[00:17:13] KS: Yeah.

 

[00:17:14] MM: It just burns you out after a while.

 

[00:17:16] JL: Any advice for folks who might be in that cycle, just people who might need to look for a hobby outside of coding?

 

[00:17:25] MM: Just close the computer and go outside.

 

[00:17:28] KS: Well, I mean, if you can.

 

[00:17:32] MM: Or go look out a window.

 

[00:17:34] KS: It’s just anything you can think of to do, like, I mean, video games as a hobby and like that’s something that a lot of programmers like to do. I’m a gamer too. So just spend some extra time playing some video games and just realizing that sometimes you’re going to do stuff with your hobby that it may not feel like you’re doing anything. It may not feel like you’re actually accomplishing anything or getting closer to whatever goal you have for yourself professionally. But one way or another, whatever you learn from that hobby is still going to trace back to your coding at some point.

 

[00:18:07] MM: Not everything you do has to be career related.

 

[00:18:11] KS: Yeah.

 

[00:18:11] MM: It’s so okay to just go stare at a wall for an hour. You don’t have to be productive 24/7.

 

[00:18:19] JL: Milicia, you mentioned that you were playing ukulele and I think it’s worth noting, at least within my group of friends, lots of career transitioners, many of them were musicians first and then ended up learning how to become a software developer. What kind of similarities do you think there are between music and coding?

 

[00:18:40] MM: I would say that music is a lot like coding because you can make it take pretty much whatever form you want it to. I played the ukulele and the harmonica. And when you put those two together, it can make some really cool music in ways you might not expect. Kind of like when you could different libraries or packages together with coding, sometimes you just get stuff that’s better than you expected originally.

 

[00:19:11] KS: So I play saxophone since middle school and I was in a band and marching band and stuff. And so I think that to me, those two are combined because sometimes you’ll have a particularly hard piece of music that either has a lot of runs, so a lot of like up and downs and a lot of things that you’ll have to practice over and over and over again, just to get right. Some stuff in programming is kind of the same way. You might not be able to get it immediately. You have to just try and try again, but eventually you will and you’ll come out of the end of it better than you were before.

 

[00:19:45] JL: I was a piano major in college and so definitely resonate with the practicing over and over again, building that discipline. I think the frustration I get when I’m like 90% way through a piece and then I press that one note, that like devastation is like very similar to when I can’t get a test to pass, no matter how many ways I do it, like those are the moments where you just have to walk away from the bench or the keyboard. I guess they’re both keyboards.

 

[00:20:17] KS: Yeah. Yeah.

 

[00:20:20] MM: So is coding technically music?

 

[00:20:24] JL: I mean, if you have a mechanical keyboard, for sure.

 

[00:20:28] KS: Definitely.

 

[00:20:29] JL: Ben, what are some of your other hobbies outside of coding and powerlifting?

 

[00:20:37] BH: Yeah. Well, as I mentioned, I really haven’t been able to adopt powerlifting as its own hobby as much as I really want to. Lately, of course the pandemic kind of threw that for a loop a little bit, but I can’t say I was even very consistent before that and I’d love to actually compete in the sport. I think maybe I’m de-motivated by the fact that I am not going to get to my past levels anytime soon, but I really know I can get over that. But ultimately, hanging around in nature, hanging around with my dog, I listened to a lot of books, which I think kind of combines those two things. So audio books are really probably my biggest hobby outside of coding right now. I really feel like I’m the kind of person in this discussion who feels like I have sort of developed this weakness in being able to stick to hobbies. So I can kind of speak to like a lot of different things I’ve done as hobbies throughout my life, but I feel like being an entrepreneur and a software developer, I’ve had a harder time getting deeper into my hobbies. And I think outside of this stuff we do with Dev, I think my biggest personal endeavor is just to be better at adopting and sticking to my hobbies. It’s easier said than done sometimes to disengage. Even this weekend, I sort of tossed together a little website to help my brother out, like just more coding time. It was fun, but I really want two stick to something I’m truly devoted to outside of the software stuff. Can we talk a little bit about how one can seek out hobbies and get into new things? Kayla, do you want to start?

 

[00:22:16] KS: I would say that finding new hobbies is just like, of course, you can always Google it, programmers or the professional Googlers of our day. I found myself doing a lot of the same kind of hobbies that my friends were doing, like at least trying what they were doing. I would go to the gym with a couple of my friends every now and again. And then I just kind of picked it up on my own. If you go do something that your friends want to do and then you find yourself wanting to keep doing it, like that’s probably a good hobby for you.

 

[00:22:45] BH: Milecia?

 

[00:22:46] MM: Yes. Kind of how I find all of my hobbies is if something pops into my head that sounds remotely interesting, I’ll just put it on the list. So when I get bored or I run out of stuff that I’ll what to do at the moment, I can just go to that list and be like, “Huh, this thing still looks cool. So I guess I’ll try it out for a while.” That’s my general approach.

 

[00:23:12] JL: Yeah. And for some people who might be afraid of failure like myself, the first time is always going to be the hardest when you’re approaching a new endeavor. So I would recommend looking at the hobbies that some of your friends or family have and seeing if they would do it with you because then you have someone there to like help support you and guide you and sort of show you the ropes, especially if it’s a hobby that might have some unfamiliar terminology like powerlifting or climbing.

 

[00:23:40] KS: Definitely.

 

[00:23:41] BH: Jess, how are you feeling these days in your hobby life?

 

[00:23:43] JL: Well, I actually picked up a new hobby as of like three days ago. So TBD if it’ll stick around. So as a kid, I loved playing Chinese chess and I actually prided myself on it because not many girls know how to play Chinese chess. They really culturally view it as like a boys thing. So I just loved like, even knowing how to play and being somewhat good at it. So I haven’t really stuck to it until we found ourselves in a pandemic and I was really bored and I downloaded a Chinese chess app and I’ve just been super addicted to it in a way that it’s never captivated me before. And it’s definitely the technology element of it. This app allows you to play end games, which might just be a common thing in chess apps, but because I don’t play Western chess, it was like mind blowing to me. So instead of starting a game from scratch every time with the computer, I can just start with like, what are the last few moves to win the game? And that’s basically instant gratification and that component is so addictive. I’m actually like trying to do it a little bit less because it keeps me in front of the screen for too long, but I’ve gotten a lot of joy out of it. And I’m confident that beating the last 30 games that I played has contributed to working those areas in my brain that helped me be a better developer.

 

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[00:26:29] BH: All right. Now we’re going to move to a segment where we look at responses from you, the audience.

 

[00:26:33] JL: The question we asked you all this week was, “What are some of your hobbies outside of coding that have directly or indirectly helped your dev work?” Our first response is from Gwyneth.

 

[00:26:42] GWYNETH. Hey, Dev.to. My name is Gwyneth and two hobbies that have helped my dev work are exercising daily, great way to blow off steam and stay fit after sitting in meetings and coding for hours. And the second one is making music. You’d be surprised how many things making music and coding have in common. There’s imposter syndrome in both of them. There’s professionals of previous generations that make you feel less because you use newer tools or newer technologies. But of course, there’s good things like a lot of creativity and large and great and supportive community. When I make music, it allows me to free up my mind and to stop overthinking. And that’s when solutions tend to pop into my head. Anyways, love the community, and I hope you are all staying safe and healthy.

 

[00:27:28] BH: Wow! What a great response.

 

[00:27:29] JL: That was the best. That was so nice.

 

[00:27:32] KS: And it’s very on topic.

 

[00:27:33] JL: All three of us resonate with Gwyneth. I love that Gwyneth brought up imposter syndrome. That’s a really, really good point.

 

[00:27:41] KS: Yeah.

 

[00:27:42] BH: Hobbies are the kind of thing that can train the muscles of imposter syndrome. They sort of put you in these situations that are lower stakes, like it’s not your livelihood, but you still have to overcome some of these things and I think that’s a really great point. It’s sort of practice for the things that are most important in your life.

 

[00:28:01] KS: Definitely. I am a certified powerlifting coach. And so that has been an area where I’ve been like practicing, dealing with imposter syndrome, but that’s not affecting my livelihood because there are a ton of people who have been coaching for a lot longer than I have and know a lot more about human anatomy than I do or know a lot more about what strengthens different muscles better and things of that nature. So I can definitely relate to like having a hobby that helps you learn how to deal with imposter syndrome better.

 

[00:28:31] JL: Yeah. I imagine that you probably also help coach people who are experiencing imposter syndrome. So you get to see it from both directions.

 

[00:28:39] KS: Yeah.

 

[00:28:40] BH: Shall we listen to another?

 

[00:28:41] JL: Sounds good.

 

[00:28:42] MAN: So studying history helped a lot, particularly history of programming languages. And I suppose that’s how I ended up being a librarian for couple of years. So knowing how other people approach programming and the decisions they made and what we’ve ended up with as a result.

 

[00:29:03] BH: I think history is one of those disciplines that can apply to really anything. I think within software, it’s such a good way to sort of improve your knowledge in coding. I really love books that teach about the history of software in any way, but in somewhat less rigid technical terms, like what were the contexts that went into these sort of things. I think that like is what speaks to me from that.

 

[00:29:29] JL: The first thing I thought was that if you’re reading the history of programming languages, that really feels like an extension of work but to each their own. We also got this fun message of someone playing piano, but it could have just been a robot.

 

[00:29:50] BH: I feel like I’m on hold.

 

[00:29:55] JL: Well, thank you, stranger, for serenading us.

 

[00:29:58] MM: It was pretty.

 

[00:29:59] KS: It was.

 

[00:30:00] BH: Nadia wrote in to say that cooking is like making a web app in React. And I think if you think about putting all the ingredients together, putting it in the pot and seeing what you get, I have to say that kind of makes sense.

 

[00:30:11] KS: Yeah, I see it.

 

[00:30:12] MM: Oh yeah. there’s definitely a lot of stuff you can throw at React.

 

[00:30:16] JL: So Oleg wrote in, “Reading books about biology, especially about the human, bonobo, chimpanzee, and other animal behavior and how science explains it. These type of books have helped me change my mind and improve my soft skills, and of course, work more productively with other people.” We haven’t really talked about the soft skills as much, at least we haven’t used that phrase, soft skills, which is thrown around quite a bit. But yeah, a lot of our hobbies directly contribute to our soft skills and our ability to work with other people.

 

[00:30:46] KS: Yeah. And that’s just equally as important as how well you can code, if not more, honestly.

 

[00:30:52] MM: Sometimes we really do get lost in the code to the point that we forget what it’s like to talk to people for fun because all we do is code.

 

[00:31:04] KS: Or forget who you’re coding for.

 

[00:31:06] MM: Or that.

 

[00:31:07] BH: Absolutely.

 

[00:31:08] MM: So it just helps to take a step back and talk to people.

 

[00:31:12] JL: Or study the human being like Oleg does through their hobby of reading books about biology.

 

[00:31:20] BH: Michael wrote in to say, “Improv theater has helped me in my professional career, as well as my life in general. It teaches you how to get out of your head, have fun and let yourself fail. Also, a side effect is being more confident speaking in front of people and collaborating in a team. Definitely recommend it. Just remember that improv is a very broad concept and differs from theater to theater. So feel free to explore if you’re interested.” I think improv is one of those hobbies that’s great for folks who are there at a loss for hobbies because it’s such a good organized activity. It’s fun. It gets you out of the house and it really sort of directly teaches you lessons that are pretty applicable for every sort of interpersonal situation.

 

[00:32:01] JL: I admire people who can improv so much. I think it’s crazy. I just don’t have that skill to think so quickly on my feet and I’m always just blown away whenever I see any improv troupe come together. Michael brought up a really good point, just letting yourself fail, and I think that’s probably one of the things I struggle with the most. I have pretty big fear of failure.

 

[00:32:27] BH: Jess, have you ever tried improve?

 

[00:32:29] JL: No, I haven’t. I’m too scared to. I bought my partner a like 10-class passed to an improv thing and he said it was the scariest thing he’d ever done. He loved it, but also was like so emotional and vulnerable when he came back and then ended up failing on all the rest of the classes. So I think it really got into his head. Have either of you tried improve?

 

[00:32:52] MM: Oh, no. For some reason, it’s easier to give a TED Talk than to just get up there and do something.

 

[00:33:02] KS: Oh, a hundred percent. So I took a theater class once and so improv was part of that and I was terrible at it because, yeah, like you said, Jess, I am not good at thinking on my feet. I’m the kind of person that if I give a talk, I have to practice it like maybe a dozen times beforehand or else I will just start babbling like an absolute fool onstage. And so yeah, improv is certainly not my thing.

 

[00:33:28] JL: Okay. Valentine wrote in, “Playing Magic: The Gathering is my primary and only networking that I do for my career. In the Seattle area, two nerdy things are big: programming and Magic: The Gathering. Doctors and lawyers have the golf course clubhouse. Programmers have their local game store. You’d be hard pressed to find a tournament where there isn’t someone who works on Amazon, Facebook, Google, or is running a startup.” Have any of you played Magic: The Gathering?

 

[00:33:57] MM: No, but I did play Yu-Gi-Oh briefly.

 

[00:33:59] JL: I have no clue whether or not that’s similar or not.

 

[00:34:03] BH: That’s kind of a similar vein. So Pokemon cards is a similar kind of game, if you played when you were younger at all.

 

[00:34:10] KS: Yeah, probably when I was like seven or eight, I played Pokemon, but I haven’t played Magic: The Gathering.

 

[00:34:15] JL: It sounds like one of those hobbies that people really end up loving and committing to. I don’t want to use the word cultish at all, but I just accidentally did.

 

[00:34:26] KS: Yeah. I would imagine it’s kind of like D&D and I have played D&D a lot more than I played Pokemon.

 

[00:34:34] BH: I can speak to this. I played D&D enough in college and in junior high. I used to play Warhammer, which is another one of these kind of fantasy games. And Magic: The Gathering is definitely the one that sticks with everybody. And I never really got into it. I played a little bit, but I really always appreciated the more complicated kind of like other sort of games in this regard. But I think that Magic is a little easier to play, easier to set up. So like all my friends in any of the games I did play always also played Magic. I just never really got into it.

 

[00:35:11] JL: Ben, do you want to read off one more?

 

[00:35:13] BH: Bugsy says, “Skateboarding, break the code, get up and try again and again and again until you land it. Then go bigger and add a set of stairs. Break your ankle, then do it again.”

 

[00:35:26] KS: That’s awesome.

 

[00:35:28] JL: I love this analogy. So my partner, who is getting a lot of airtime right now, he is a skateboarder. He actually just made a box with an angle iron or something like that, that he can skate in or a little driveway area during this time, but it’s great. Yeah, you really do have to get up and just deal with the failure over and over again, which we have all encountered when we’re writing code.

 

[00:35:54] MM: Definitely.

 

[00:35:55] JL: He’s also broken his ankle many times, like Bugsy mentioned.

 

[00:35:59] KS: Oh, I’m so clumsy. I wouldn’t be able to do that.

 

[00:36:04] BH: I used to skateboard and I gave it up because I always got hurt so much and I just couldn’t deal with that anymore.

 

[00:36:09] KS: That’s fair.

 

[00:36:11] BH: That’s probably why some people eventually give up coding.

 

[00:36:19] KS: It’s too real.

 

[00:36:21] JL: Thank you both so much for being here and talking to us about your hobbies.

 

[00:36:25] KS: Yeah. Thank you for having me.

 

[00:36:26] MM: Yeah. This has been fun.

 

[00:36:37] JL: I want to thank everyone who sent in responses. For all of you listening, please be on the lookout for our next question. We’d especially love it if you would dial into our Google Voice. The number is +1 (929) 500-1513 or you can email us a voice memo so we can hear your responses in your own beautiful voices. This show is produced and mixed by Levi Sharpe. Editorial oversight by Peter Frank and Saron Yitbarek. Our theme song is by Slow Biz. If you have any questions or comments, please email [email protected] and make sure to join our Dev Discuss Twitter chats on Tuesdays at 9:00 PM Eastern, or if you want to start your own discussion, write a post on Dev using the #discuss. Please rate and subscribe to this show on Apple Podcasts.