An interview with Adam Wathan, co-creator of the Tailwind CSS library and author and video producer.
- Test-Driven Laravel
- Refactoring to Collections
- Advanced Vue Component Design
- Tailwind CSS
- Alberta Oil Sands
- Conestoga College
- Nitpick CI
- Adam Wathan's $100k product launch
- Full-Stack Radio
- Mark Rippetoe - Starting Strength
- Video of Adam lifting tons of weight
- 5/3/1 calculator
- Matt's WeightXReps Training Journal
- Agile Principles, Patterns, and Practices in C#
- Adam on Twitter
- Refactoring UI
Matt Stauffer: Welcome back to the Laravel podcast, season three. Today we're talking to Adam Wathan; author, video maker, teacher of the things, power lifter. Stay tuned.
Matt Stauffer: All right, welcome back to the Laravel podcast, season three. This is the version of the Laravel podcast where we get to know less about tech and more about the people behind the tech, and today my guest is none other than Adam Wathan who has taught us all about testing, collections, view, components and many other things. One of things I love about Adam is that he's never satisfied with what's happening around him and he's always taking in stuff from other places, and we'll talk about this more probably later in the podcast, but when I describe Adam to other people, I say he's the guy who basically finds what's good everywhere else and brings it to us in the Laravel world. So if you haven't heard of Adam, my mind is blown. You should go consume everything he's ever made; it's all gold. I will say to some of y'all that his name is pronounced Wa-than, right? That's right?
Adam Wathan: Yeah, you got it.
Matt Stauffer: Wa-than. Not Way-thin, not Way-than. I'm trying to think about other things I've heard, but Adam Wathan. So Adam, say hi to the people, and the first question I always ask everybody is when you meet somebody in the grocery store how do you introduce yourself? How do you tell them what you do?
Adam Wathan: Cool. Yeah, so thanks for having me on. I'm Adam. I usually explain ... It depends on what people ask, because some people ask like what do you do? I say I'm a software developer, although I don't actually get paid to write code, I get paid to teach people about code. So I either describe myself as a software developer who creates courses and e-books and training products for other software developers who are looking to kind of level up. So that's kind of the shortest version that I try and give to people that usually is enough that they kind of either are interested in it and ask me more questions or aren't interested and don't want to hear anymore.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, so I'm already going to cheat a little because I want to ask one little thing about your motivation that I've been curious about for a while and hopefully they'll still come out when we talk about your background but, you know, you're really smart guy, you learn a lot of stuff, but you're also a teacher and you also have like marketing kind of like sensibility, and you just gave an elevator pitch that would make someone who doesn't even understand programming want to go sign up for your product and I don't think that that's really common for a lot of us to know how to talk about it that well, so ... And if this is going to come out later that's cool, but do you have a sense for where your ability to kind of understand how to market something and how to ... And you talk a lot about how to do it in a non-skeezy way, but where did that come from? Is that something you had to work on, or do you feel like you've got some experience that's kind of taught you that?
Adam Wathan: That's a good question and I don't think I have a great answer for it. I think I've always just really liked creating things that I was proud of and putting them out into the world with enthusiasm and I think that's been kind of like the simplest version of how I have always tried to share what I've been working on and then I think with the marketing stuff too, I guess I just care just as much about the quality of that as I do about everything I do. I just really like to make everything I do as good as I possibly can and that comes down to even things like, you know, landing pages and how things look on stuff like that. To me, the marketing is a product too and I want it to be good and I want to be proud of it, so it's just something that I just put a lot of effort into I guess the same way I would with something else.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, I mean, I tell this story to people all the time, but when you first joined Tighten, one of the things we were talking about was working on some open source projects together, and we immediately found a conflict in our ways of working where I was like, so what I do with this thing Symposium is I figure out a feature and I spit out the feature as fast as possible and then I move on to the next feature, and you're like what I do is I try to figure out exactly the best way to do this feature and I ponder on it and I make plans and I make diagrams and I get it exactly right so people will really get their needs met and then and only then do I actually build out a feature.
Matt Stauffer: And we kind of had this like little head butt moment, and I think that I've kind of ... I would say I've shifted to your way of thinking, but I've been influenced by it a lot. Do you have a sense for where your kind of desire for excellence ... I think you were just talking about like where that comes from, is that just a personality trait? Is that something from your family, and what's that ... Where does that come from?
Adam Wathan: I think it's just a personality trait. I've been like that with basically everything that I've ever been interested in my entire life. Like I would sit and play guitar and play the exact same seven notes for four hours straight until I played them perfectly, you know what I mean? So I think I just get a little bit obsessive over the sorts of things that I get interested in.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, I just want to get really good at it. All right, well, I'm sure we'll dip into the stuff a little bit more, but I do want to make sure that I actually have the space for your back story. So the second question I always ask everybody is, where was it that you ... Or what was the context in which you first had interactions with a computer? How old were you and kind of what was your interaction like at that point?
Adam Wathan: Yeah, so I have sort of conflicting memories for a lot of some of the stuff. Not necessarily conflicting, but sometimes I have a hard time figuring out like what the timeline was, but some of my earliest memories of working with computers, probably the earliest one that I can think of. is when I was in grade ... It must have been probably grade two, maybe grade three, but I had this librarian at my school who worked with like some of the gifted kids to do little projects and stuff and me and him were working on the super old Mac that we had at the ... It was new at the time I'm sure, right, but like my memory of it's like the old school Mac where everything's black and white and stuff like that. Using hypercard to make this little project we went around and it was actually pretty cool.
Adam Wathan: We got to like drive around the neighborhood and I got to like ask questions like different business owners about things and we put together this like little presentation in hypercard, and that's probably like my earliest memory of working with a computer and we got a computer in my family when I was pretty young too, probably grade four or grade five. It was just like kind of your standard ... It was like an Acer or Compaq PC or something with four megs of RAM and, you know, I can't even think, a 500 megabyte hard drive, and we got-
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, a 486 or something like that.
Adam Wathan: Like our internet a couple years later. Yeah, it was a 486 and I used to dick around on that, you know, looking up game tutorials for my Sega Genesis at GameFacts.com and stuff like that and-
Matt Stauffer: What's the best game on the Genesis? What's your favorite, do you remember?
Adam Wathan: Favorite Genesis game. I used to play the hockey games a lot. That was probably what I got-
Matt Stauffer: You're so Canadian.
Adam Wathan: The most fun out of. The funny thing is like I'm not super into hockey, but those were just the most fun like multiplayer games that you could play. That and like Mortal Combat and Street Fighter.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, of course.
Adam Wathan: And all the classics. I didn't do much of the single player stuff, just mostly hanging out with friends and playing.
Matt Stauffer: No Sonic and Knuckles and things like that?
Adam Wathan: I did play Sonic, but I wouldn't say like I have, you know, nostalgic memories about how much I loved that game or whatever. It was a fun game but, yeah.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, I feel like not a lot of people have the same level of memories of Sonic as they did at Mario. I just never quite connected in the same way.
Adam Wathan: No, Mario definitely has a more special place in people's hearts, I think.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, you actually got into this a little bit, but my next question is going to be kind of what was your first exposure to the internet? So was that primarily it at least at the start?
Adam Wathan: I'm not sure if it would have been at school or at home, but yeah, it would have been most of the time that I spent on the internet would have been at my home desktop computer on our 14.4 connections we used to use.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah. So when you were in middle school and high school, what do you think you wanted to do with your life? Did you know?
Adam Wathan: I had some conflicting thoughts, so at one point when I was a kid I wanted to be a cartoonist, that was my dream actually.
Matt Stauffer: I had no idea.
Adam Wathan: I used to draw all the time and I used to like ... You know how you'd have like the book fairs at school, I don't know if you had those in the States.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah yeah, Scholastic. We had them here.
Adam Wathan: The Scholastic Book Fairs.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: I'd always be ordering like the how to draw this or the how to draw that books and I never got really good at it, but it was fun and then eventually I got into like playing guitar and stuff like that and I wanted to be like an audio engineer, but I also wanted to be a programmer and I really liked my programming classes in high school, so I ended up going to university for computer science, but I also considered going to college for music industry arts, which is a program that actually Steve Schoger, who some people might know actually did go to at the college that I used to go to.
Matt Stauffer: Oh, he did?
Adam Wathan: But I decided against it because it just didn't seem like a profitable career path, so I eventually chose computer science.
Matt Stauffer: So you had programming classes in high school. Was this Java or C++ or what kind of stuff were you guys doing there?
Adam Wathan: Let me think. So I think we ... I don't think we had computer programming classes 'till like grade 10 and we did a lot of like Pascal and we did C, and we did Java and then we have a web one which was later, which was kind of weird because the Java stuff was ... Even the Java stuff isn't ... When I think back to the fact that we did Java in high school, I don't remember doing any of the stuff that I know about Java now. Like I didn't know what object oriented programming was when I came out of high school, even though Java is an object oriented language. We just would write procedural code in like our main-
Matt Stauffer: Good job, yeah.
Adam Wathan: Java file or whatever, right?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: And stuff like that, but yeah.
Matt Stauffer: What made you choose those classes?
Adam Wathan: I think I just thought it was really fun to be able to make the computer do stuff.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: So I remember like one of my earliest memories of programming actually is when I was a kid I was like super obsessed with pro wrestling, that was like my thing. And I used to download all these like wrestling simulators so you could like ... It's so funny because they weren't ... they're not like games, right? They're like you create characters, you choose their move sets, you give them the statistics and stuff and then you like run simulations and it would spit out like texts, like this guy punched this guy, then this guy powerbombs this guy-
Matt Stauffer: Right, and you're not actually controlling what they did, right?
Adam Wathan: No, no, no. It's just a computer simulation based on random events-
Matt Stauffer: That's fascinating.
Adam Wathan: As well as like, you know, the statistics and attributes of the different wrestlers. There's a couple different programs that you could use to do that and I was always looking for different ones to test them out, and then one day I stumbled upon a tutorial online that was like make your own wrestling simulator in QBasic.
Matt Stauffer: Oh, nice. QBasic, yes.
Adam Wathan: And I was like, okay. And that was my first exposure to QBasic. I followed the tutorial and got everything set up and I didn't know how to like do random stuff or anything like that, so I never got very far with it. It was all just very like ... It was not like conditional logic or anything, you would just do this, this, this.
Matt Stauffer: It just takes input-
Adam Wathan: I couldn't figure out how to make it do exactly what the other things are doing, but I could make the computer do stuff, and that kind of got me interested in the whole QBasic programming stuff and then I just started looking into more like QBasic tutorials and finding out stuff that you could do, and I remember getting really into ... I don't think I'll ever remember the actual name of it. I found a site that I think might have been it, which is Pete's QBasic tutorials, which I don't know if that was the site for sure, but some of the content looked really familiar, but it had lots of tutorials on like making like tile scrolling RPG engines in QBasic and stuff and-
Matt Stauffer: What?
Adam Wathan: Where you could create like little sprite characters and you'd make these like 20 pixel by 20 pixel squares and lay them all out and make it scroll as you use the keyboard and stuff like that. So one summer I had this dream of making an RPG, which of course never even remotely happened, but I had a lot of fun just hacking around on the computer getting it to render this stuff and do stuff like that. So I think that's where I really got excited about programming because I don't know if I have a specific passion for programming more than anything else, but it was just like a really perfect kind of platform for just doing creative things, you know what I mean, and making stuff. It's the most like powerful tool for just like making interesting things that I know of so far, right?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: So I think that's what kind of got me into that. So I did a bunch of QBasic stuff messing around with that and eventually I started making my own little websites on Geocities an Angelfire and stuff like that and yeah, I've kind of been doing that ever since, so.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, I was thinking about how creation was definitely a trend for you. I mean between music creation, you know, as a guitarist and music production, you know, and the art and everything like this is it's wanting to make things happen and figure out what the tools are, so it's interesting hearing you say, you know, it's the most powerful tool that you can use for that.
Adam Wathan: Yeah.
Matt Stauffer: Do you ever draw still?
Adam Wathan: No, not at all.
Matt Stauffer: Do you have any of your old drawings anywhere?
Adam Wathan: I might. My parents just sold their house and gave me a big box of like crap lying around that was mine.
Matt Stauffer: You got to find something, man.
Adam Wathan: I think there's a couple sketchbooks in there so I should maybe-
Matt Stauffer: That would be amazing.
Adam Wathan: Dig through those.
Matt Stauffer: Please. Okay, so you went off to school for computer science and did you have a sense ... Did you have any shifts during school with what kind of aspect of CS that you were interested in or if ... And yes or no, what did you think you were going to do afterwards?
Adam Wathan: Yeah, so I actually only went to the university for a single semester, so I did the first semester a bunch of the classes I did find fun like the ones that were direct programming, so we had like a C class where we'd basically get these weekly kind of projects that we have to work on where just have to go through a bunch of problems to get the computer to do that stuff, and that was the stuff that I was really interested in and really excited about, but then we also had classes that weren't as interesting, like digital fundamentals and stuff related to more like computer engineering sides of stuff which is interesting, but it didn't get me excited and want to work on it.
Adam Wathan: That stuff was like a chore, and at the time I was also playing in a band and we ... That was all I wanted to do. Like we were playing shows and recording demos and stuff like that, so the computer stuff was not really a big focus for me at the time and I was commuting to school which was about a 45 minute drive away and living at home, so I didn't really get like embedded into the sort of university community that was there.
Adam Wathan: So I didn't really like make any friends or meet anyone, I was only there for classes and that was it. So it was really hard for me to sort of, you know, become a university student. That was like this thing on the side I felt like for rest of my life, where my friends were and my hobbies were and stuff like that, so I only stuck with that for a single semester and then dropped out to just basically work full time while I reconsidered what I wanted to do, because it just ... I just wasn't enjoying university and I don't think it was the programming that I wasn't enjoying, it was just the educational side of it and having to get pulled away from the things that I was actually excited about to work on that. So I don't remember what the original question was, but that's kind of that story.
Matt Stauffer: Well, no, and that's actually perfect and before I move on from that, I want to ask one question which is, was the distinction between doing versus learning abstract theory, was it about how concrete something was that was the difference between what you did and didn't like, or did I kind of miss that a little bit?
Adam Wathan: No, I think that's true. I think the other thing is there's just a lot of classes that you have to take in university that aren't as ... they're not all really like cohesive, you know what I mean? I don't know what the system is like in the U.S., but in Canada we have university and college, which I think is kind of like college and community college in the U.S.
Matt Stauffer: I think so, yeah.
Adam Wathan: But the way that you pick your classes and stuff a lot of it is you have to go into the school and you have to go and sign up for different classes and you have different requirements, and you have to get credits and different things, but a lot of it is kind of up to you and they don't really put together like a cohesive curriculum. So I had to have X Math credits, X Elective credits, so I took like this history of music class, which is the only class I've ever failed in school in my entire life.
Matt Stauffer: Oh, my God.
Adam Wathan: And you would think that I ... Just because it's so damn boring, right?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: And I just like couldn't get into it at all. But everything was just kind of disconnected. There was like some math over here, some physics over here, and because at the early stages of things it's kind of like when you're in like first year of high school or something, they're just trying to teach you all these fundamental concepts-
Matt Stauffer: Basics, yeah.
Adam Wathan: Without kind of tying them back to the goal they you're trying to get into and I ended up going back to college years later which we can talk about maybe a little bit later, where the curriculum was much more cohesive and everything is sort of designed to teach you to be a programmer, and I really liked that experience. So yeah, I think it is just the fact that there was only one class that I actually liked, which was the programming class and everything else just felt like high school all over again, you know.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, yeah. No, I totally hear that. I mean there's a lot of conversations happening these days and I'll wait to go into them until we talk more about your later school experience, but around trade school versus university, versus whatever else and what are the pros and cons of each and I think a lot of it ... You know, one of the things I've come down to recently is that I've always been a pro university person with lots of caveats, and one of them is just like the school you're at really makes a big difference, and the classes you take and the professors you have. You know, there's a lot of factors that can give you a very, very, very, varied experience, even in the same type of program in the same type of school. So where did you go from there? You said you kind of were reconsidering your working full time, you were recording with your band and were you doing any touring at that point, too?
Adam Wathan: No, we never got successful enough to do anything interesting like that. I was local shows and stuff, but yeah, so I was just working like crappy factory jobs basically. I'm trying to think what was the first job that I got after I left university. I have to try and reconstruct a time line, but the one I remember most specifically was working for a company where I was basically just in a factory building really high-end like antique looking stoves.
Adam Wathan: So I did that for like a year while I still played in bands and did stuff like that and then eventually a friend of mine was working up in the Alberta oil sands like way up north and I would have all these construction projects to extract all the oil out of the sand and sell it of all over the world, and his dad actually ran the site up there so he had a lot of pull and one day he just called me and he was like, "Hey, do you want a job up here?" And I was like, "Sure." He's like, "Someone's going to call you tomorrow and offer you a job." And I didn't know-
Matt Stauffer: That's awesome.
Adam Wathan: What it's going to be. Like I had never seen the job description or anything, but this is just this guy's kind of style and so ... Yeah, I ended up working up there for two years doing like basically data entry stuff for the materials team, so I worked in an office in the frigid cold in Fort McMurray where it's like minus 50 degrees Celsius in the winters.
Matt Stauffer: Holy crap!
Adam Wathan: Our offices are these little portable trailers on the construction site and I was just there basically in Excel reconciling like purchase orders and invoices and making sure that, you know, we received the materials that we had paid for and that all this ... Just a bunch of really kind of monotonous data entry stuff, but for being like a 20 year old kid it paid really well and I did that for like two years until kind of that whole industry and economy started to suffer a little bit more because gas prices and oil prices dropped and they did a bunch of big layoffs which was ... So I got laid off, which was like a blessing in disguise really because I know a lot of people that basically just stayed up there forever because you can never get paid the same thing to come home. And I would work up there for 14 days straight, 10 hours a day and then they would fly you back to where you lived for seven days off. So I was constantly flying back and forth. which just made it really hard to have like a normal life, right?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: So yeah, I got laid off from that, came home, decided I would use that chance to try and get into like the recording stuff, because I was getting into recording a lot when I was up there and doing it when I was coming home just as kind of a hobby, but I thought why don't I try and like find some bands and record and like mix EPs for them and stuff. So I did that for like a year, which is a dumb industry to get into because bands don't have money, especially local bands, so you can't make a lot of money doing that, but what I found is while I was doing that I was using this tool called Reaper, which I still use out of my podcast and stuff like that, and I found that there was a bunch of features that I wished it had that it didn't have, and it was created by the guy who created Winamp originally, and it's like a very hacker friendly tool, so it lets you like extend it with Python or C++ or Lua now as well, so you can write all these sorts of like plugins and extensions for it and the API that they give you to do that stuff is like very powerful, you can access basically everything in the tool and write your own menu options and dialog boxes and all sorts of features and stuff.
Adam Wathan: So I started getting into like hacking around with that doing really simple things and then one of the guys in the IRC chat for the software, kind of like this elite group of people who are like hacking on stuff there. I made this thing using Python and he was like, "You should port this to C++ so we can include it in this big extension that they maintain." and I was like, "I'd love to do that, I just don't have any idea how." and he's like "Well, okay, I'll help you." So for the next little while he would kind of like ... He kind of put together like a playground in this extension source code for me to like write my features in and help me figure out how to get XCode compiling it and all this different stuff, and that's when I kind of really like reignited my excitement and passion for programming because I was just having so much fun adding features to this tool and making it easier for me to do my work to the point where I was having way more fun adding features to the tool than I was actually using the tool to record bands.
Adam Wathan: And I didn't even get back into web development or anything at that point. I hadn't made a website since like high school. So that's when I decided you know what, I think I'm going to go back to college and do this programming thing again, but I decided to do college and study university specifically because I knew like what I didn't like about university and I wanted to do something that was a lot more practical and focused on making you into a programmer than it was, you know, educating you about computer science.
Matt Stauffer: So I had been meaning to ask and that's helpful. Are you familiar with the concept of a trade school?
Adam Wathan: Yeah, like where you would go to learn to become like an electrician or something like that?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, that's not the same thing, right? You're more talking about it's a school, but it's more like single focus sort of like our community colleges, but I was wondering whether colleges like a little bit different than communities or if it's just-
Adam Wathan: Yeah, I'm not sure. So the college I went to is Conestoga College. I'm going to pull up the website now, but basically here college programs are usually two-year programs and you get a diploma, and university are four years and you get a degree, that's kind of the fundamental difference. So I'm going to try and pull up like the actual program that I did here so I can kind of talk a little bit about the actual curriculum because I think it's kind of interesting.
Matt Stauffer: While you do that, this is definitely similar to community college. It literally even in the Google preview says your community ... Ontario Community College and this is definitely not trade school, definitely community college, if that makes sense.
Adam Wathan: Yeah, so I did the software engineering program there, and not the computer programmer course, which I got kind of turned on to that by asking around to friends who had gone to the school to kind of figure out like, you know, what are you supposed to do, but if you look at the actual program courses here we can maybe like link to this and then show it to people that are interested, but like in the first year we had classes like software engineering fundamentals, operating system fundamentals, C, C++ programming, computer security, object oriented programming, some of this has changed, but then year two we did like web design and development, relational databases, Windows and mobile programming, microprocessors and embedded systems, software quality, so like in school we learned about automated testing, which is pretty cool.
Matt Stauffer: Nice.
Adam Wathan: You never learn that in university. Advanced computer security, mobile application and development. Yeah, so it was just like all programming. Every class was programming, but it was just focused around some different kind of element of it using different technologies and stuff like that. So the nice thing about that is that college is really close to my house and unlike university where the schedule it's like really weird, sometimes I'd go to a three-hour lecture and then have seven hours off then have to go back in the night for a one-hour class. Like this is structured so much similar to high school, you know what I mean?
Adam Wathan: Like you'd get there in the morning, you'd leave in the afternoon, so you're there for a long period of time, you get to like meet people, you get put on projects with people, and I really got into what I was doing there in terms of like I made a lot of friends, you know, that kind of became like my focus which was I think what made me not stick it out in university. It was just like such a side project, whereas I was able to really sort of like embed myself into what we're doing in this program, so-
Matt Stauffer: That's really interesting.
Adam Wathan: Yeah, that went really for me. So I did that for two years. It's a three-year program, but the way they do it is kind of weird. They have like three years with co-op, I don't know if people use that term in the U.S. It's kind of an internship-
Matt Stauffer: I don't think so.
Adam Wathan: Like paid internship.
Matt Stauffer: Oh, yeah.
Adam Wathan: So if they do like two years of schooling and then for 18 months you go out into the workforce. There was like four work terms across those 18 months I think, something like that. And some people do them all the same company, some people do four different ones, some people split up however, but you get paid to do that, which is pretty cool like 18 bucks an hour or more depending on who the employer is, and then once you're done that kind of co-op internship stuff, you go back and do your third year of schooling and then you get your diploma and then you're done.
Matt Stauffer: Oh, cool.
Adam Wathan: So I just did the first two years, and then I did my co-op at Vehikl who were called Chrome Media at the time, and I think I was like the only person to apply for that job because everyone else was trying to get a job at Desire2Learn which is a company that makes like education student management software, and it's all C# and Windows stuff and that's what they teach us in school so that's what everyone was excited about and they were kind of like the cool, hip company in the area, but I was like the only kid in my class that used a Mac, so doing the Windows stuff was painful for me. I had to like boot up a VM and do stuff like that, so even with all our projects I would do in school I was always trying to find technologies that I could work with easier on my Mac.
Adam Wathan: Because we had a lot of like web based projects, even though we didn't have a lot of web specific courses, but in the later years we'd have like a project that was a two-month project and you could choose the technology, which is cool, so some people did C#, some people did, whatever. I chose PHP because that was the only programming language I knew of that you could do dynamic stuff on the server. Like at the time I didn't know that oh, you can use Ruby to do that or Java or any of these other languages, I just knew from like trying to create PHP scripts I could accept form submissions when I was 16 years old that like PHP was the language that you do ... I used to do stuff on the server, so I started looking into, you know, tools for PHP that could compare with like ASP or C#.
Matt Stauffer: Like MVC. Yeah.
Adam Wathan: That like framework and I found my code igniter and stuff like that and so we started messing around with those sorts of things, and I was lucky enough to find a handful of people that wanted to work on those technologies with me instead of doing the C# stuff and they were all pretty bright people, so we did a bunch of projects using that stuff and then when it came time to look for co-op opportunities I applied to Desire To Learn and they never got back to me, which is great because if they had and I had gotten a job there I'd probably still be a C# developer now.
Adam Wathan: Instead I saw this tiny, little company that was only three people at the time that was doing like Magento sites and some custom app development in PHP, and I was like you know what, I'll apply for that and I ended up being like the only person in my class who applied there and that ended up being like the best way it could have ever possibly worked out because I met some really cool, talented people there that really helped me get my career to where it is now and encouraged me to speak at user groups and get involved in open source and stuff like that.
Matt Stauffer: That's awesome.
Adam Wathan: So after I went and worked there I did my whole kind of internship co-op stuff there and I just never went back to school because I had a mortgage and stuff like that. I was like 26 at the time or 25, 26, and I couldn't really afford to like not get paid for another year or going back to school and the whole point of going to school was to be able to get a job. and now I had a job and even if I wanted to leave there, well, I had a job doing programming for a living on my resume now so it didn't really matter, you know what I mean?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: So I got what I needed out of it and then kind of got into the workforce doing PHP stuff and actually like even when I started there, that's when I really got seriously into Laravel stuff. We actually started using Laravel 4 on a client project before it was officially released when it was still like in a beta, which is cool, so I was getting paid to write Laravel code on my very first programming job.
Matt Stauffer: Which is amazing.
Adam Wathan: Pretty neat.
Matt Stauffer: That's very cool. And who are the three? It was Chris and Grant and who was the third person, do you remember?
Adam Wathan: Chris, Grant and Caryn, who is like a ... She's a product designer.
Matt Stauffer: Product designer, yeah.
Adam Wathan: A UX person there.
Matt Stauffer: I didn't know she was employee number one.
Adam Wathan: I don't think she was employee number one. They kind of went through a couple different iterations of the company doing different stuff-
Matt Stauffer: Got it. Okay.
Adam Wathan: Over time, but when I got there it was the three of them and they kind of had their thing figured out.
Matt Stauffer: Very cool. All right, so the story from there you did at Vehikl ... So when did you start speaking? Was it the Laracon EU testing talk? Was that your first kind of big conference, or what was your speaking journey like?
Adam Wathan: So the first talk that I ever gave was like an intro to Laravel talk at a Meetup that we created so that I could give that talk basically like the vehicle we created like the Kitchener-Waterloo Laravel Meetup which only survived like a few Meetups because we also had this like Guelph PHP user group which half the time we were doing Kitchener anyways and that eventually just became like oh, we'll just do everything there because we'd meet up once a month there. But yeah, so I gave a talk at that user group to about like 30 people or something, which was my first time doing any speaking like that, and I may have done another talk after that to like a local Meetup, but yeah, the first conference talk I think was the community day at Laracon EU 2015 or maybe '14, yeah, and I did the talk-
Matt Stauffer: I remember it, but I don't remember the year so, yeah.
Adam Wathan: Yeah, I can't remember what the talk was called, TDD the good parts, I think, and then after that I think I gave a talk at True North PHP in Toronto at Chris Hartjes and Peter Meth's conference and from there I just kind of got into it more and more. Once you kind of have one conference under your belt, it's a lot easier to get into the other ones, especially if you make the effort to get them filmed and post them online and be able to use that stuff to help show people hey, I can actually do this and it'll be fun. I'm a grown up I can do a good job.
Matt Stauffer: Cool. So at some point you were using Laravel, and you became more aware of some of the world's around there. You were looking into things in Rails, you were talking about Ruby some. What was that journey like from Laravel being the thing that you were spending all your time in, to kind of expanding your exposure to the rest of the web world, I guess.
Adam Wathan: I can't say ... I can't think of a specific ... I can't remember exactly how I heard about some of these other things, because like I said, I only remember being in college and being like well, PHP is what I use on a server. I didn't even know Rails existed. Like in some ways, in a lot of ways I wish I had known, because I probably would have never become a Laravel programmer. Not because I don't have ... I have anything against Laravel, but throughout the years it's become pretty clear that philosophically I'm much more aligned with the way people think in kind of the Ruby world, right?
Adam Wathan: So I was already kind of like deep into Laravel stuff and feeling like pretty fast and productive with it and I'm sure all I was doing was poking around the internet looking for tutorials, reading things about how to do this and that and somewhere in there someone said similar to how this works in Rails blah, blah, you know what I mean? Like eventually you just kind of like start hearing about these things.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Start hearing it, yeah.
Adam Wathan: And the Laravel community was a lot less mature than it is now at that point, so a lot of the really good content that was out there was focused on Rails. Like Rails had a big head start on a lot of what we're doing in the Laravel world. Rails came out in like 2004 I think originally. And there's blog posts written in like 2008, 2009 that are still really useful blog posts for people writing Laravel stuff now, so it was actually really interesting for me to discover that kind of whole world because at the time this was like 2013, 2014 when I was learning Laravel originally. Maybe ... Yeah, probably 2013, there was like eight years worth of high quality Rails content out there. So if I could just figure out-
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, sitting out there already.
Adam Wathan: How to translate the syntax from Ruby to PHP, you know, there was all this content out there that could make me a better Laravel developer, basically. So I got really, really deep into all that stuff and that's when I discovered companies like Thoughtbot that had done tons of blogging and written books and put together video tutorials or Gary Bernhardt's Destroy All Software, which is all Rails stuff. There was just so much good stuff out there and that's where I basically focused all my learning at that point was taking everything that people had already ... Like I make this joke a lot of the time that any time like someone runs into a problem with Laravel, like a design decision where you're like okay, well, what's the best way to do this in Laravel, take the current year subtract four years, include that in your search query and look for how to do that in Rails and there will be like 100 quality blog posts out there.
Adam Wathan: So yeah, I got really into just kind of researching what people were doing in these other ecosystems and finding out what made sense to try to port back and apply to what we were doing in PHP stuff and yeah, that's kind of been like my shtick, I guess. I'm always looking outside my existing community to see if ... I think of myself as like Christopher Columbus like going across the sea to the foreign lands and bringing back treasures for people.
Matt Stauffer: Nice. Yeah, so let's see. So you worked at Vehikl for a while and do you know how big Vehikl was when you left?
Adam Wathan: So it was still actually just the four of us-
Matt Stauffer: Oh, yeah? Okay.
Adam Wathan: When I left, which was kind of like my motivation for leaving. I still was really enjoying the work that I was doing there, but I had this like nagging feeling that I was missing out on the ability to grow faster by not being part of a bigger team where there was more ... Not more experienced developers like developers with more experience, but just more developers-
Matt Stauffer: More people, yeah, yeah.
Adam Wathan: That were experienced-
Matt Stauffer: With different experiences, yeah.
Adam Wathan: To learn from, right?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: And that was kind of stressing me out at the time, so I ended up leaving to go work for a company that did Rails consulting, but when I got there I got dumped onto a project doing C# and Angular, so I only stayed there for like three months because I want to blow my brains out ,and I soon ... Like within the first week of working I was like I can't believe I left my other job, this sucks so bad. And then after being there for a couple months Tighten, this company out of Chicago that does some Laravel stuff, I don't know, people might have heard of them, posted a job posting on the old Laravel job site and I applied for that and ended up going to work there for a while.
Matt Stauffer: It's so weird because I've been trying to figure out how to ask you questions about that time, and it's really tough. I don't know how, but maybe I'll just try and throw a broad one at you and see if that goes somewhere. What was the area you grew in the most while you're working at Tighten? I think that may be a question to start with.
Adam Wathan: That's a hard one. I can't think exactly what ... I think the biggest changes for me are the things that I had to figure out the most was like the remote working thing. That was like a new thing for me and figuring out how to ask for help with things and get stuff done and get help from people in a way where like I'm just so used to ... I was just so used to working in an office where if you're frustrated with a problem, like the people sitting around you can tell, you know what I mean?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Adam Wathan: And that's not as easy in a remote company, so you have to figure out ways to manage that sort of thing, especially when people are not always like available at the same time because everyone's kind of working ... Like even though you have kind of standard-ish hours, there's still a lot of a synchronicity to it, right?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, yeah.
Adam Wathan: Everyone has different calendars with different things going on, which is very different than being in an office. Yeah, people have stuff scheduled and calls and stuff, but you can like see when someone is available. So figuring that out was probably ... That was probably the biggest change and area for me to kind of figure out how to work that way, and yeah, it was good though. I think the remote working set up is the way to do it, as long as you can make sure people are able to communicate when they need to communicate and feel ... You have to be more deliberate about asking for help, which can be hard, you know what I mean?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: If you can just be frustrated and people can tell and people offer to help, that's one thing, but sometimes it's like you feel like you have to ask for help every 15 minutes with something, especially when you're starting, right?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: And that could be like ... It's like a degree of shame or something like associated with that. That's hard to get over.
Matt Stauffer: We've been working ... That's probably been the biggest barrier with bringing on juniors is that the combination of junior, plus remote, it's really an extra level of shame.
Adam Wathan: Plus new job, right?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: Which is hard for even for like an experienced person, yeah.
Matt Stauffer: New job, remote, new tech, I don't know what I'm doing, everybody else here has got it and I'm asking for questions every 15 minutes, I feel like I'm bothering people.
Adam Wathan: Yeah.
Matt Stauffer: That's definitely tough.
Adam Wathan: Yeah.
Matt Stauffer: So this is the last question I'll ask about your time at Tighten, but one of the things that was really impactful from our perspective was that you had a lot of thoughts about how a company should be run and a lot of them came from watching Base Camp and and Thoughtbot, and thinking about concepts that you've talked about in the podcasts and some of the times I've talked with you about on podcasts of things like no estimates and stuff like that, where there's a certain way of thinking, and I think that Dan and I say often that your time at Tighten was really impactful in terms of just kind of like sharing those things with us, but it wasn't always just as easy as Adam comes in and teaches something.
Matt Stauffer: Often it happened in the context of, you know, there was a ... Not necessarily there was a conflict, but there was sort of like well, why is it not happening this way and we'd be like, "Oh well, I don't know. We'll figure that out." So I was wondering during your time at Tighten, do you feel like you learned anything about what you wanted to kind of do when you grew up kind of vibe in terms of teaching, or were there things that you learned about how you think software should be written or something that happened in the context of those learning moments and those conflicts and everything that we had during those times?
Adam Wathan: Yeah, I'm try to think if there's anything specific I can take away as like a learning ...
Matt Stauffer: And if not, no worries, I'll just edit out the question.
Adam Wathan: Yeah, I think like ... I mean, what I like working on the most at Tighten was being able to create projects for companies, build stuff for other people. I think if anything, what I maybe took away is that ... What's the best way to say this? I like having control I guess of like my own destiny in that sense because working with companies to build new projects for them there's like this of course this whole layer of stuff that comes with that that isn't there when you're just building something for yourself of course, right?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: And it can be a real challenge sometimes to get people on board with building something in a way that is in their best interests, even though they might not understand why or agree why, and that's just like a whole thing that you have to figure out how to navigate that can just get in the way of what you want to do which is just like creating the best thing for solving a problem for them, right?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: So I think being able to get into what I'm doing now where I get to like create training stuff and stuff like that has been a nice change in that sense, because it lets me focus on just doing ... Creating the thing that I want to create. But yeah, like you said, like I think a lot of the reason that I cared so much at Tighten and everywhere I worked about how to try and run these projects successfully is for that same reason because I just want to make the great project, you know what I mean?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: And I think everyone is on the same page there, right? Like you want to figure out a way to navigate the other stuff and minimize it so that you can just focus on doing the work, but because I just care so much about doing the work and that's what I want to do, that it kind of pulls me down this path of figuring out like okay, what is stopping us from being able to just do the work and what ideas are out there in the world that people have that can help us focus on-
Matt Stauffer: Help us, yeah.
Adam Wathan: Just doing the work for people. So I don't know if that really answers your question in terms of I guess like a specific kind of learnings or take aways, but in terms of, you know, that sort of project management side of things, I think that's sort of like where my motivations at least come from to care about that stuff.
Matt Stauffer: Well, it's funny because you say everyone feels that way and of course everyone, you know, hopefully wants to really do a good job for the client, but it also reflects a little bit back on what we were talking about earlier about you love doing things to the best they can possibly be done and it's not just your things, you know, it's also other people's things. Like every project you have a hand in, you want it to be the best possible thing, and if there's stuff getting in the way of that, well, then that's stuff that you need to kind of shave off so that it can just be the optimal it will be. So I totally hear that and that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for answering that kind of convoluted question.
Matt Stauffer: So the transition from there was it was during your time there that you wrote your book and you released it and you were able to transition it to be doing your own educational stuff full time. So in terms of that switch, when and what was the process like for you to start thinking you know what, working at somebody else's consultancy may just not end up being the thing for me and I want to try info products or I want to try my own products or something like that? Like what was that journey like for you?
Adam Wathan: Yeah, so I think for me what really happened there as I put together this book and released it, I didn't really have crazy expectations for it or anything like that. Again, it was just one of those things where I've always just really liked making polished things that are finished that you can look at and be like this is done and this is tidy and this feels nice. And I used to do that with even like trying to contribute tutorials to Game Facts and stuff back in the day. I never got anything on there, but I would just like agonize over like making some sweet like ASCII art title at the top of these like stupid plain text files-
Matt Stauffer: That's perfect.
Adam Wathan: And I just wanted it to feel like a polished thing, right? So that was kind of like one of my biggest motivations for making the book was first of all, I've always been interested in like creating something and selling it and seeing like what it's like to make your own money on the internet sort of thing, but I also just like ... It's hard to think back to it now because I have a few products now, but back then I kind of felt like I just had never got to finish anything, if that makes sense?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, definitely.
Adam Wathan: And this is a common thing that I think like agencies deal with a lot in general, right? As you get to work with a client, you do a lot of really great work for them, but you're not necessarily like always around 'till the end of the project because maybe eventually they hire their own team which is one of their goals from the beginning, right? They're trying to get like a head start on something so that once they have a little bit of traction they can build their own team around it, because of course that's more economical way to handle that.
Adam Wathan: Or the other end of the spectrum is you start working on a project for someone and it turns out that they just aren't able to hold up their end of the bargain really and the project is just not going to work out and you do work for them for six weeks and then they realize like you know what, I'm not ever going to be able to make an app company properly, so you kind of just say okay, thanks for your work, you did a great job, but like that's the end of the project. Like I've worked on so many projects that never even went to production, you know?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: Or got any users or anything like that and that's kind of like a ... At the time that was kind of "I just want to finish something. I just want to have something that's done." I did that with my Nitpick too, that little SaaS something-
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, I remember.
Adam Wathan: That I built, and the whole goal there was just the same thing, like I want to build an app 'till it's done and then put it out on the internet, and that was just like a cool feeling. So I did the same thing with the book and then the book ended up being, you know, pretty successful, and before I worked on that book, I had the idea all along that what I really wanted to do was some sort of testing thing, like some TDD book or course or something, but it was just like ... Sounded like so daunting, it just sounded like a big project.
Adam Wathan: So I stumbled on this idea to the collections thing, and that seemed so much more manageable, so once I had finished that and, you know, it was pretty successful, I thought you know what, if I want to do this like testing product, this is the best possible chance that I'm going to have to be able to spend the time on that because the book did well enough that like I can take six months off and focus on this thing. So I thought you know what, I'm not going to get a chance like this again. If I don't do it now then this money is just going to go into an RSP or something and it's just going to ... Yeah, of course that's good, I should have money saved away for a time.
Matt Stauffer: Right, right.
Adam Wathan: I'm not going to ... Like it's not going to change my life in any way, I'm just going to keep doing the exact same thing that I'm doing. The book's going to be out there, but I'm not like seizing the moment to use it as an opportunity to try something. So I thought you know what, this is like the only chance that I'm going to get to probably do this, so why don't I try it out. So that's when I decided to move on to try and to just do something for myself and see how it panned out and I did the testing course, which was way bigger than I even was worried about it being originally.
Adam Wathan: So it's a good thing that I didn't try and put it together when I was still working, but that did really well too, and that's been able to let me focus on continuing to do more stuff like that. I'm always able to stay just like a little bit enough ahead of where I need to be that I have some time to figure out what the next thing is going to be, you know, and I'm just kind of like building the bridge as I try and cross the river.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, that's awesome. I remember one of the things that you said when you let us know that you were going to be going off to do the thing full time and you said, "You know, I don't know how this is going to work out, but I know that if it totally flops in six months I can apply to one of a myriad programming jobs, but if I don't try this, there's no guarantee I'll ever have this chance ever again where there's the traction for my book and I have enough money to kind of try this thing and so I got at least try it." And that really stuck with me, just the idea that like ... And I mean I've had that happen where I've had an influx of cash and it just kind of goes and spreads out across retirement savings and health expenses and whatever else, and your life is exactly the same even though you put all that work into it, and so that idea of those are those moments and it's scary, but like what's the worst thing that's going to happen? I'll use up all the money and then apply for jobs on the other end.
Matt Stauffer: You know I'm a little less stable because I'll have to be applying for a job versus having once settled, but there's no guarantee that your job's not going to shut down the next day, you know, and so like the idea that oh well, everything's perfect now, I'll be put ... No, no. You know, I really love that kind of thinking and obviously at least so far it's working out really well for you, so I'm hoping that's an inspiration for other people to kind of consider taking some of those leaps.
Matt Stauffer: I would love to ask you a million questions about how you think about product and stuff like that, but we're longer than usual, and thankfully other people have asked you that on their podcasts, so I'm going to try and link some of your stuff with Justin Jackson and some other people, also Full Stack Radio, even though it's you interviewing other people, you do learn a lot about the interviewer by the questions they ask. So all this super interesting stuff that we don't have time for, I hope that we'll be able to ... People will be able to kind of suss that information out anywhere else.
Matt Stauffer: But I think one of the things we have not talked about, so every time I'm going to be interviewing somebody in the Laravel podcasts I go into Tighten Slack and I say I'm about to interview this person and I'm actually opening my Slack right now to make sure that new questions ... Yep, a couple of new questions came in, and I say, "Are there any particular questions that y'all want to ask them?" And so I ask that question in Tighten Slack, which is kind of funny because you are still in some of our Slacks and you used to work there, but there's still some questions.
Matt Stauffer: So the first question came up for you is, "Do you even lift, bro? Which first of all is fantastic, but second of all in our Slack that actually triggers a gif of you doing a lift, so it's perfect. So we haven't gotten to talk about that at all.
Adam Wathan: Yeah.
Matt Stauffer: Where did that fit into your whole world? Can you tell everybody a little bit about kind of that part of your life?
Adam Wathan: Yeah, so when I was working up in Fort McMurray in Alberta, I've always been kind of like an overweight kid.
Matt Stauffer: Same.
Adam Wathan: And like most people, like you just want to look better, right?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: So when I was working up there, you're just like so bored and you're not using your willpower for basically anything else that it was like an opportunity to finally try and do that seriously, right? It's actually funny because if you follow along with like the bootstrap podcast like Ian and Andre, Andre is kind of doing the same sort of thing. Like he decided to basically take off some time during the year from any really like mentally sort of straining work. Like I think he's just mostly focused on doing some consulting stuff and I'm not even sure if he's working the same amount of hours and stuff that he was doing normally, but he decided like, you know, I want to take this opportunity with this kind of reserve of mental energy that I have and focus on something like really life changing thing, which for him was like getting in shape, right?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: And it's funny because I never really thought about it that way, but when I heard him phrase it that way it's like you know what, that's exactly like why I was able to do it originally, because I just didn't have anything else pulling at my brain. So when you're going to make dinner or even going out for dinner with your friends it's easy to order the vegetables instead of the fries because like I just haven't used any of that brainpower, you know what I mean?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: So when I was working out there, I just ... It was easier for me to start eating a lot better and get into like home workouts and stuff like that and that led me down this whole path of eventually discovering like strength training. Pro tip; if you're a programmer who wants to like start exercising, the terms that you should be Googling are strength training. That is the term that's going to find you ... At least I think is going to find you the stuff that's going to resonate most with how your brain works in terms of things being really measurable and being able to like science the shit out of everything with lots of percentages and math.
Adam Wathan: But eventually I kind of stumbled onto this like form of exercise where you're just focusing on like lots of really high bang for your buck compound exercises like multi joint movements like squats and deadlifts and bench press and overhead press and chin ups and barbell rows and stuff like that, and once I finally found the good stuff online which was like Mark Rippetoe's content and stuff like that, you learn like what you should be doing is progressively trying to increase the weight that you're lifting. Like a lot of people just go to the gym and they just like pick whatever they think is going to be like a good weight to lift that day and just do it or whatever, but they're not actually tracking their progress, so they don't really make progress, but if you can develop a plan where you know like okay, this week this is what I'm lifting, next week I have to try and lift this and it goes up and up and up.
Adam Wathan: For me that's what was able to keep me kind of motivated because I was seeing progress on paper because seeing progress in the mirror is a lot harder, it takes a lot longer and it's a lot more subtle and gradual, and if you're not taking the pictures of yourself topless in the mirror every week to compare like okay, do I actually look like I'm getting in better shape, but if you're just like blogging stuff in a notebook it's easy to say okay, I bench pressed 185 for six reps last week and this week I did it for eight reps, that's pretty cool. So I've kind of gone into this whole thing of getting stronger and lifting and eventually started competing in power lifting competitions because like with everything I do I have to take it to the extreme.
Adam Wathan: So what started as like 185 pound like skinny fat kid to trying to like look better without his shirt off, turned into like a 260 pound dude deadlifting 600 pounds and winning nationals power lifting gold bells. That was just something ... I would still be doing that, but it's a hard ... Once you get there's like a point of diminishing returns, which I think I definitely hit, where you're just more likely to get injured than you are to make progress, and I've hurt myself a couple times and I have a nagging back injury now that doesn't bother me day to day, but any time I get back into lifting, no matter how light I start, after a couple weeks I do one rep not 100% perfect and my back is messed up for a week, it's really frustrating.
Adam Wathan: So it's hard for me to really stay motivated into it these days because the thing that kept me going was like getting stronger. So going to the gym to lift less than I did before is like, whatever. I still need to get back into it more, but yeah, that was a big thing for me for a while.
Matt Stauffer: It's funny because as you were saying that, a light was going off in my head. I switched to a new trainer about four months ago and it was the first time the trainer has been trying to teach me the skills to be able to stop working with him versus just kind of like giving himself job security by just kind of telling me what to do. And he's a Mark Rippetoe guy and he just moved to Chicago, or he's moving to Chicago this weekend and so he's like here's everything I know and he set me up with this thing called ... Have you ever heard of the 5-3-1?
Adam Wathan: Yep, that's what I always used to do. Jim Wendler.
Matt Stauffer: That's literally what I started it this week at the new gym on my own and I've got a 5-3-1 calculator.
Adam Wathan: That's awesome.
Matt Stauffer: I plug all my information in.
Adam Wathan: It's amazing. Jim Wendler is like he's the DHH of weight lifting. Like he's just got that same like everyone over complicates things attitude and there's this quote that I ... So this is so funny because like so many people who get into power lifting are like super nerds about this stuff, right? Like the amount of like just nerds that get into this stuff is outrageous just because of the fact that you get to make spreadsheets, you get to calculate like your estimated one rep max based on how many reps you lift this way or whatever.
Adam Wathan: And I'll never forget there's like a F.A.Q. section in one of Jim Wendler's books where someone asks a question and it's like, what is the best ... I can't remember exactly how it was phrased, but basically the question is like what incline should I be using on like the incline bench? Should it be like a 70 degree incline or a 45 degree incline or a 40 degree incline, like what's going to get me the best results? And Jim Wendler's answer is, "The best incline is whatever the incline is on the bench at your gym." Like it just doesn't matter.
Matt Stauffer: Just do it. Yeah, yeah, that's awesome.
Adam Wathan: So it's just like his stuff like really resonated with me because it's just like such no bullshit sort of attitude towards this stuff. But it totally works too, so.
Matt Stauffer: That's encouraging, man.
Adam Wathan: Yeah, yeah, it's fun. I'm excited that you're doing that.
Matt Stauffer: Oh, I'm so psyched about this. And the way you're describing exactly what's compelling about it and I'll link this in the show notes, but my trainer gave me this thing where you literally just like plug ... It's a giant Java script page, and you just plug in your one rep max's for the four main movements of the bench press, overhead press, squat lift-
Adam Wathan: Dead lift, yeah.
Matt Stauffer: And squats and then it just says here's what to do for the next four weeks.
Adam Wathan: Yeah, so why don't you do this week two and then-
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, yeah.
Adam Wathan: And then you put in like how many reps did you get on your last set, and it will like calculate your estimated one rep max, and for me that was the key because basically there's this formula that Jim Wendler gives you which I think is like weight times reps, divided by 30, plus weight, which is not accurate in the sense of like it doesn't properly model how the number of reps you lift or the weight like compares to like your one rep max would be, but it's like an approximation that's close enough, even though at certain extremes it's like the curve like breaks down where like oh, now you're weaker because you lifted more ... Like it just doesn't make sense, but in like the actual-
Matt Stauffer: The vast majority of-
Adam Wathan: Yeah, it's good enough, right? But that was perfect because every week could be lifting different weights for different reps, but you always had this ... Like you could reduce it down to one number to compare like different ... Completely different workouts. So if you bench 185 for like 10 reps or whatever, that's 185 times 10, divided by 30, plus 185, that's ... You have a 247 pound one rep max or whatever, so now you can compare that with lifting and just-
Matt Stauffer: And just see those numbers go up. Yeah.
Adam Wathan: 205 for seven and you can see which one is better, and even though the workouts are different every week, you can just see over time okay, like this number is continuing to go up. Sometimes maybe it dips down, but overall like the progress is there and that's like a really good way to stay kind of motivated.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, I love though that there's a lot of really great apps that help you track your weight and you see how those things go up and down over time, but like you said so many other things it's really hard to just get like a single fixed point you can track over time and I was just talking with Logan this morning and I was telling him about ... Logan who works at Tighten, I was like "Oh, I'm doing this." and he's like "Well, why don't you post your one rep maxes every week in" ... you know, there's a channel at Tighten called Discussed Gains, and he's like, "Why don't you post it in there is so that we can all kind of see it go up." And I was like, "Oh yeah, that is a big motivator. I hadn't thought about it."
Adam Wathan: So I'll give you an insider tip; if you're looking for ... I don't know if this site ever really got popular, but there's a site called Weightxreps.net, which is like a site for people to manage kind of their weightlifting or power lifting, strength training, training journals.
Matt Stauffer: Wow.
Adam Wathan: And the thing that's sick about this site is that you log your workouts in like a custom version of Markdown and it does all the calculations for you and stuff like that.
Matt Stauffer: Wow.
Adam Wathan: Yeah, it's pretty cool.
Matt Stauffer: All right, all this is going in the show notes, folks. I'm sorry if all y'all don't care about this, but I do, so we're talking about it. This is amazing. This is super cool. Okay. All right, so sorry we're super past time, but I have to at least get one or two more of these questions in here. All right, I'm going to give ... all right. "What inspires you to keep learning?"
Adam Wathan: I don't know that I think it's just an intrinsic motivation. I think I just ... When I find some new thing that I don't know enough about, but I'm passionate about it, then I will figure it out 'till it's end. Like that is just my kind of nature and then I'll probably move on to something else after that. So I don't think like I have any like hacks or anything to help people kind of stay inspired to keep learning. For me, a lot of it is like I like to make stuff, so you try and make something, you hit a problem, and you figure out how to solve it.
Matt Stauffer: Learn it, yeah.
Adam Wathan: And I try not to take short cuts on things either. I think sometimes ... I think it's worth like clarifying this in some ways because I listen to you, like all of Justin Jackson's podcasts and sometimes Justin Jackson will bring me up as an example of something, which is flattering, but he'll always say like what I like about Adam is that whenever he like finds a hard problem like he doesn't like figure out a workaround or anything like that, he'll just like drill through the problem until it's solved.
Adam Wathan: And I think that can be misinterpreted a lot of times to sound like you always want to make things perfect to make everything, you know, like unnecessarily perfect. Like you can solve the problem this other way, but you're going to like solve it the hard way for whatever reason, which I think is not ... I think there's a lot of valid situations where you can like Judo a problem. Like I actually take a lot of pride like Base Camp uses this term, I don't know if other people use it, but I think that's where I first saw it. They talk about like trying to Judo a problem, which is just they have some problem that they need to solve, they try and figure out a way like how can we just like make this problem not exist so we don't have to solve it, you know what I mean?
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: Which I think is a really valuable skill and something that like I take pride in a lot trying to figure out ways like okay, I can't figure this out, how can I just make it not exist by solving something in like a different place or whatever, which I think is a really good thing to do, but I am not willing to make compromises on things where it feels like I'm like putting a Band-Aid on something, you know I mean?
Matt Stauffer: Mm-hmm. Yep.
Adam Wathan: The analogy to me is like okay, there's a hole in your roof. Like you can either fix the hole or we just put a bucket there and we have to empty the bucket every day, but that's fine, the floor doesn't get wet, so the problem is solved, right? Like to me I don't think that that problem is being solved.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, I totally agree.
Adam Wathan: So I can't think of a specific programming analogy necessarily, but like I hate workarounds. I hate things that I feel like Band-Aid fixes.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, but that doesn't mean that you're not going to Judo the problem.
Adam Wathan: I need to understand something at its core level. Yeah.
Matt Stauffer: You may end up making the problem go away or you may end up, you know, picking the faster fix, but it's that you want to actually fix it, and you want to learn how to actually fix it.
Adam Wathan: Yeah.
Matt Stauffer: All right, one last question which is, "If you could give everyone you meet one book to read, what book would it be?"
Adam Wathan: For every single person, like not necessarily programmers?
Matt Stauffer: I was wondering the same question. Answer it either way you prefer.
Adam Wathan: So I'm trying to think if I have any books that ... Like I'm sure there's a book that I'm just like blanking on that I think is like just a good book for everyone to read in the world. And I'll probably think about it after the fact, be like, "Duh, that's what I should have said."
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, yeah. If you do, I'll put it in the show notes afterwards, you can message it to me.
Adam Wathan: I will say from like a programmer's point of view, I think the book that ... The book that really got me started on the right path to learning to program properly and I think a lot of people listening to this podcast probably are already in the right place, but I think it's still worth reading. For me, when I was in college and learning to program in general, the whole idea of like design in terms of like well, architected code was just a concept I didn't even know existed, you know what I mean?
Matt Stauffer: Mm-hmm.
Adam Wathan: like I just ... There's like code and you write it and you make it solve a problem and like yes, like some solutions are like more elegant than others I guess, but I never really thought of this like community that exists around like design in code. And it wasn't until I read this book called Agile Practices, Patterns and Principles in C#, which is like the C# version of the original book which is written in Java, but that's by Uncle Bob, and it's ... There's a lot of stuff in there that I think is like ... That I probably wouldn't ... I don't know how to say it. It's like it's one of those things where like you have to like learn the rules to like know how to break the rules and like you can get deep into that book and kind of like get too hung up on this mentality of dependency, inject this, interface that, whatever.
Adam Wathan: It will make you that way at first, but a lot of people need ... Like everyone needs to go through that phase, but that was the book that I read that ... Like I remember working a part-time job at a warehouse at a retail store and I would be like finding every opportunity I could to like hide in the corner somewhere with my phone to just like read more pages of this book. Because it was just like opening my eyes to so many concepts about writing code that I just wasn't familiar with at all or didn't know existed. So that book really got me started on the right path to even understanding what information to look for on the internet about becoming a better programmer.
Adam Wathan: So I think from a programming perspective, that would be the game changing one, although it might not be my favorite book anymore, that was the one that I'll always remember as having a really special sort of place in my heart. I'll keep thinking on like the non-programming stuff in case I can come up with something good and maybe you can add it as an addendum to the show notes or something.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, for sure. Well, yeah, I'm just going to say it. I could talk for hours. There's so many more things we could talk about, but we're in an hour and ten minutes, try to cut down to 45 minutes, so we're going to call it a day. So first of all ... Actually before I talk about how people can follow you, is there anything you wanted to talk about or you kind of wish that people knew about you or parts of your story or your background that we didn't get a chance to cover you want to talk about?
Adam Wathan: I don't think so. I think we talked about basically everything.
Matt Stauffer: Okay, so if people want to follow you or if they don't already own all of your products, which they should, or anything else, where do they find you? What are you plugging these days? You know, that kind of stuff.
Adam Wathan: Yeah, so I'm @AdamWathan on Twitter. That's kind of where I hang out the most. I have a website at Adamwathan.me that I don't do enough stuff on, but I do have a lot of stuff there to look through. The most recent thing I did is I put out a course on advanced Vue component design, which is kind of like we talked about earlier with like the Rails on Laravel stuff, is me figuring out what people are doing and react, the really interesting react stuff and basically bringing some of that stuff back to the Vue Community and showing people how you can do that stuff. So check that out if you're interested in that.
Adam Wathan: And aside from that, what can I say? I mean, I'm doing a lot of Tailwind CSS related work these days. It's kind of like my big open source project that I'm working on. Me and Steve Schoger have something pretty exciting in the works around the Refactoring UI content that we've been doing, so keep your eyes peeled for that and yeah, I think that's probably about it. Check out my podcast, Full Stack Radio, if you want to listen to me interviewing people to help solve some these problems I've been solving, trying to solve over the years. I've said it before in other places, but the whole reason I started that podcast was as an excuse to ask Ryan Singer questions, because it seems weird to email him and be like, "Will you answer some questions over Skype?" But if I say, "Will you be a guest on my podcast?" Well, that's a different question.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah, a totally different thing. Yeah.
Adam Wathan: So that's kind of like the whole motivation there, that's just ... You can definitely go through the history episodes and figure out like what problems I'm trying to solve at the time, so check that out if you're interested in some deep dives into some different technical stuff, but yeah, I think that's it.
Matt Stauffer: Okay, Adam dude, it was a total pleasure. I love getting to hang with you any time, but this was especially fun getting to talk about your history and kind of share with everyone, so thank you so much for your time and thank you for all the things you do for the Laravel Community.
Adam Wathan: Thank you, man. It's been an absolute pleasure being on and yeah, thanks for all you do with this podcast, it's a really fun one to listen to. It's really cool to hear people's stories. I always see episodes pop up and I kind of think at like a surface level like this doesn't look interesting to me, but I'm going to force myself to listen to it anyways, because I know by the time I'm done or even when I'm half way through I'm just going to be like wow, this is like captivating.
Matt Stauffer: Yeah.
Adam Wathan: And it's been that way for every single one I've listened to, so if anyone hasn't listened to some of the older episodes because maybe they're with people that you haven't heard of and don't think you're going to be interested in, definitely listen to them, because people have really just fascinating and incredible stories to share and Matt does an awesome job of bringing them out, so definitely check that out.
Matt Stauffer: Thanks, man. Yeah, people are fascinating. All right, man, thank you so much. I'll talk to you later.
Adam Wathan: All right, thanks, man.
Matt Stauffer: All right.