Episode 11: Book Review with Alex Kremer
Alex Kremer shares his thoughts on Clueless at The Work, shares his escape from agoraphobia, and his career development.
Automated Episode Transcript
Published on: Fri, Feb 07, 2020
[00:00:03] Anthony: Welcome to the Clueless at the work podcast, where we talk through a framework for being successful in your job. My name is Anthony Garone, and I’ll be hosting this show with some friends who are experts in helping people grow. Content is based on my book Clueless at The Work: Advice from a Corporate Tyrant, which is published by Stairway Press. You can find out more at Clueless at the work dot com.
Welcome back to the clueless at the work podcast. And I’m lucky to have in the studio with me today Alex Kramer, who is a leader at a software company here in Arizona called Tag. Alex, Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you. I really appreciate you making the drive out here. I know it wasn’t a short one, so yeah, Thank you for the listeners. Why don’t you give yourself or give them an introduction about you and what you D’oh.
[00:00:54] Alex: Thanks. Um, so I work at a company called Tag, and I’m, um, software developers slash project manager slash problem solver. At our at A at a company. Um, been working there for about 10 years now. Um, and I’ve had a lot of interesting experiences as faras being humbled by what I don’t know and being humbled sometimes. But what I do know when I don’t really don’t think I know that type of stuff, you know, to me, Um, so it’s been a very interesting kind of run with the business and ah, it’s Ah, we’re always changing, always kind of moving and new things are always happening And we’re always having to adapt to this thing’s so it makes me adapt as a person and as a manager and his leader of that part of the company. Also,
[00:01:40] Anthony: can you tell us a little bit about what your company does?
[00:01:43] Alex: Yeah, absolutely. So we help, um, construction companies with, ah there prevailing wage problems. So when a company has when a company is like work for the government, there’s a lot more rules that they follow. So when people do in the roads Ah, if you’re driving that, you know the back on the road, you gotta pay what the The employees let’s say $33 an hour, and if they’re digging a ditch, you gotta pay him $20 an hour. So from a compliance perspective, a lot times customers are just utilizing this. Ah, this, you know, let’s use a spreadsheet of Let’s let the employees felt a piece of paper and then send it into us, and we’ll pray that everything is correct when is usually not. Um so we help automate a lot that through time attendants, payroll, um, benefits administration and some of those other areas that just simplify their life and making a lot easier for them. So it’s gently complex. Generally, you have to understand a lot of the rules. I like to think I’m a software developer who has a slight understanding, phallic the Department of Labor works. And that’s sometimes scary that I have that that knowledge and have toe, you know, be some kind of a traffic cop for request on this kind of thing’s too. So, um,
[00:02:59] Anthony: so one thing Ah, that I wanted you to, or the main reason I wanted you on here is, um, you’re a reader. You read a lot and you have always been interested in a variety of topics. And I’ve always found that interesting about you. I don’t remember how we met. I think it was something through melt media my last job. Um, but what I remember about meeting you is being impressed with how much you read and how Why do your Your book collection is So, um, you read my book and and I was curious about your perspective on it. And I thought you might share some of your thoughts on the book with our audience because I don’t know if the audience is reading the book and podcasts are free. And I think the book while I like books, I love buying books. Um, and I have shelves full of books right over there. Um, but I think people are more inclined to digest a podcast. Little snippets at a time. So as a, um, a voracious reader and as someone who’s read this book, I wanted to get your perspective. So why don’t you share some of your main takeaways from the book where you agreed where you disagreed? And some of the things maybe a story or two of your own perspective on how you’ve lived out cluelessness in your own life, a career
[00:04:31] Alex: that good question. Um, well, from the book, I will say it’s easily digestible, like it’s very easy to read it. There’s definitely parts of you. Could, ah, pick up, pick it up kind of in the middle sometimes. And it’s gonna read through different pieces of it. I actually message you the other day about how is re reading one section and father really interesting. Ah, but I don’t want to ruin anything from a TV for you, Anything like that.
[00:04:55] Anthony: No, no, no, no. Feel free to There’s no such thing as spoilers,
[00:04:58] Alex: eso But, um, the general concept of book I really liked it. There was definitely areas I really found, like, you know, almost to me, preaching to my choir like, Oh, you’re just writing a book for me, right? Like, you know, the concept of my college and you don’t have to go to college. And it’s something that I’ve talked to. A lot of junior developers of people who are, you know, even at and where we met, by the way, was that Codey and I would have had asked to come to codeine and talk. And that’s one of the areas where I’ve, you know, seen a lot of people who are brand new, and they think that they have to go to school for this. So they have to go through some kind of class recertification and become a developer. And I’m like, No, no, just do it right. And when I go to schools and talk to kids about it, I tell them, Just do it now. Just start your freshman in high school, spend the nights instead of playing fortnight, be a developer, write a program. Because by the time you leave high school, you could be making a decent salary of the kind of stuff.
[00:05:55] Anthony: There’s no barrier to entry.
[00:05:57] Alex: There’s no buried entry. And, you know, today I was looking through, you know, Ah, I think about 100 resumes for one position, right? And that was just the overflow of what we’ve had on the other thing. Right? And just remember feeling myself as I was just thinking about him, like I didn’t look at the college at all, you know? I mean, like, not even like a contemplation. As for developers, junior level developer like where you went to school doesn’t matter, Right? Um, so it’s definitely something I would say that really agree within inside. What you wrote in there is it’s very, um It’s very poignant. And I think especially in our industry, that we’re in and really need to have that understanding that, Yeah. I mean, sometimes HR people can’t get over that right there. Like that barrier to entry stolen entry that they need because they don’t necessarily understand technology on and they still need to get around that stuff. Um, but it is very helpful, I think. Kind of educate people on a kind of come on type of stuff, too. So any ah complaints, disagreements are you try to bring up the thing I sent you that one time?
[00:07:01] Anthony: Ah, yeah, sure. I would like to go into depth into wherever you know, wherever things go. So,
[00:07:09] Alex: yes. So the one thing I say on the, you know, critical feedback on it, I guess I’m not gonna I was Let’s do another version of podcast and someone said, like, you suck or something like that from one of your videos. I’m not gonna sit here and tell you that. Ah, more on the ah, Some of the stories were harder to if I had never met you before, they might have been harder for me to, like actually connect to you like right? Because sometimes when you have a story about yourself or sorry about your own work, it gets to a point of, like, if I can visualize use even being going to that situation and totally get it. Um, and it definitely helps Kind of connect the dots a little bit with that personal connection. But if I was reading this now with somebody in Illinois picked your book up from the shelves in reading the book, I might I might kind of get a little disconnected from it, I guess. On that side, Um, when you read some of the other books, like, you know, right holidays, books and stuff like that there’s some times where he’s interjecting some of his own, Um, write stories into it for sure. Ah, he definitely. I think he got beat up a lot for his last book because he put so much of his own views on religion, I think in his book. But, um, but you’ll miss his last won. His last one was Stillness is the way.
[00:08:20] Anthony: Still misses the lake. Yeah. Yes, I was thinking of the whole Kogan one, but I was Yeah, I haven’t finished conspiracy. It was a good intro. Yeah, I haven’t read Stillness is the way. Yeah, but he I mean, that’s his what, fifth or sixth book. But I think the way I look at and I’m not being defensive here just the way I look at Clueless at the work is what’s called the first pancake problem. You know, the first pancakes, always a little burnt, and, ah, I’m I’m in the research phase of the next book and I think it’s gonna be really good, but I’m hoping that I learned from the mistakes that I made in the 1st 1
[00:08:58] Alex: Why don’t you just say it’s a mistake? I mean, you know, it’s more of Ah, it’s more. It’s definitely more of a personal conversation with somebody. Yeah, uh, where Something. Knowing you. It’s easier to kind of have that connection. Sure. Where it might just lost on some other people. He never said anything, but I think that’s where, like that historical example, sometimes really, really could drive home the story and kind of drive home that that this is a bigger thing than just one human being. This is light, something that’s helping other people in. Those are the kinds of things I think are valuable. I mean, So I think one of the powerful stories in the book was definitely, um, the story of Germany and your and your daughter and something that that’s one that really stuck with me. Not only is being a new father, but also just from the from the concept of it, right? And that, And I think that was a story that’s a little deeper than than some of the other ones that necessary might have stuck with the working seven.
[00:09:52] Anthony: Sure, Yeah. Yeah, Well, I think everyone faces catastrophe at some point. And I know I’m a wealthy white male heterosexual, you know, married with Children. I’m the classic, you know, example that a lot of people don’t like or want to hear any more of. And I get that, but I can’t control my circumstances. However, I do want to humanize myself in the book. And life is clearly not just this easy ride for anyone. And I hope that I’ve conveyed struggle and embarrassment and other things in the book. Um, but yeah, that that era really shook me up and I wanted to show that catastrophe can really throw anyone off their game. But that doesn’t mean they’re out of the game and just it’s like just take a time out. Be okay with yourself. Figure out how to get through what you’re going through. Everyone’s gonna have someone with cancer in their life. Everyone is gonna have, you know, like you’re a new father. I never would have imagined anything like this happening on to my daughter or any of my kids. But these things happen. And thankfully, this story has and for listeners, you know, if you’re unfamiliar with the story, if you haven’t read the book, we went to Germany for three months and my daughter fell about nine feet. Um, we think she was sleepwalking. She fell out of a bed, loft, bed in the air. Um, and she fell onto a hardwood floor and there was this terrible pool of blood. She fractured her skull, fractured her collarbone. She’s in the hospital in Germany for a week. I thought it would ruin me financially, and ah, it didn’t mean the German health care system is just the opposite of the American one. But the PTSD I had was just terrible, just constantly because she fell from a great height. All I could think about was myself wanting to fall and take on her pain. So, um, it’s a pretty It’s pretty sad and difficult story to tell. She survived. She has no long term effects, as far as we can tell. I mean, it’s hard to know she’s being a normal like little girl or if she’s being like if she has mental issues, you know, from screaming and tantrums and it’s like, Is this normal? You know? But regardless, like, I want the book to share riel stories and I think, um, catastrophe is just something that no one talks about in career books. You know, like, What do you do when your mom has, like, five surgeries and 48 hours like that happened just a few months ago for me? Um, and it’s not my I’m not the one having surgery and happened to my mother, but, like, what do you do in your career in those situations? So anyway, I wanted to cover those kinds of things.
[00:13:03] Alex: So, you know, I I always kind of tell the story of my own catastrophe when I’m talking to people as faras when, ah, when I was younger up until oh, my gosh. Almost like 16 to, like 2122. I like bear legally the house, Like I had, like, anxiety phobias, all this other stuff. Guys couldn’t do it right. Like and I want called Agora for Gora phobia. Yeah, yeah. I mean, I don’t know if I was ever I think it was more like O c d thing that kind of drove me soft to Nora phobia type of thing. Um, but it’s driven me a lot when I when I look back at, like why, You know, I mean, like, the first thing I did the very first kind of job I took was when I started getting on houses, said, Okay, my brother and writing me live in Flagstaff for a couple months and there’s a door to door sales person position open. So I took that right and I and I really loved it, and I had for five years didn’t leave the house much. I barely talk to people. I was I didn’t think I was even that social of a human being. I thought was like, super introverted super. Not interested in having this conversation is, like, always thought I’ll just be in home or whatever like that. How old were you? That’s that 50.21.
[00:14:16] Anthony: So, like, 21 to 26? Oh, no.
[00:14:18] Alex: Sorry. From, like, six about signaling. I just want to, like, 21. I see. Yeah, I was like, I was just I had struggled through that whole battle point. Um, and taking that job just kind of showed me, like, Okay, I can do this. You know, I don’t have to be kind of inside of Ah, you know, I don’t have this be agora phobic. You know me, I can I can do something I didn’t think I was going to do before. Which is we’re not gonna ran a person’s door and have a conversation. Which
[00:14:44] Anthony: did you actually do that? Yeah, Yeah, it
[00:14:46] Alex: was. I spent a month doing that. It was for like, um,
[00:14:50] Anthony: not a religious like Noah’s. A
[00:14:52] Alex: conservation group here in Arizona, actually. And ah, that was I mean, you know how people talk to, like, politics, political people. I mean, it was still a political then, but and being told the jump off cliffs and that kind of stuff like you had access to bureau thick skin pretty quickly and
[00:15:06] Anthony: wait people because you were knocking on their door to talk about the environment, you were told the jump off a cliff.
[00:15:12] Alex: Oh, that was the least of the the niceties of pit people say to Eunice, That’s unbelievable. I remember a guy he wanted to have, like an argument with me about nuclear power inside. Like, you know, I’ve been doing this for two weeks. I you know, I don’t I don’t necessarily know if I can argue with you on new right or anything, Um, but it kind of like it’s driven me a little bit, right, Like it’s driven me to kind of seek outside my comfort zone because part of the fear is, what if I’ll get back to that point in my life at some point where I’m like, Oh, my gosh, can I leave my house again? You know what I mean? And that’s serving. You work, travel all these things, family. All this stuff is driven because of that Partially fear. Partially unknown. What could happen but parts of the catastrophe of that part of my life saying I don’t want to get back to that spot. You know, I think
[00:15:59] Anthony: you’re always running from that
[00:16:01] Alex: running at some level. Yeah. I mean, I always see to my mirror, and I always see that is something that’s driven me to kind of be more aggressive in some areas and mean like, to try to push myself toe, you know, they say, Okay, well, every year I’m going to take a trip, or every year I’m going to do this or this or this.
[00:16:17] Anthony: Well, if the listeners don’t know what a traveled person you and your wife are, you guys have been all over the world. Yeah, Yeah.
[00:16:26] Alex: We tryto we try to take a trip at least once a year and usually three or four countries a year and really, really get out of our comfort zone and some of that I mean, if you want to feel true cluelessness, I feel like, you know, Europe’s great place to go 11 Germany’s awesome, beautiful country. But the second you walk into Asia, you’re functionally illiterate, right? Like no idea what to say. Like Germany can sound about a little bit. Sometimes you can sound
[00:16:49] Anthony: things want. My wife speaks German. That’s why you know, it worked out for us. But we’ve talked about going to Japan, and it’s like we would be completely lost, completely lost. But
[00:17:00] Alex: at some level, that’s fun, right? Right. Like if you truly want to feel that kind of out of your element, like you know a good example. Having that is when I went to meet my wife’s family and I’ve been told every single thing in China, Um, and I’m being told how to do everything. How to sit, how to how to put my feet howto were to sit on the table, where to sit when I’m sitting next to them like, don’t show your feet to them. Don’t do this. You know, you gotta shave like this kind of stuff, like it’s truly kind of homeless. Is there, like, a while? I don’t understand this You don’t mean, but it’s also fun at some level to say Okay, I don’t get it, but I’m going to accept it and just kind of, you know, just play, play the punches, right? Like right? I don’t I don’t understand it, but I don’t necessarily need to understand it right, Like I just I can go with the flow. I guess you could say on that side. So I think that’s what’s great about travel. I think if you find the right experiences, you can really get into that kind of stuff, right? Like, you know, in Germany or in any country, really, if you find the right experience, it’s not. Just go to these different sites and look at things. You can really feel that in your use, your travel experiences to feel a different experience. I could shoot sound that say
[00:18:08] Anthony: so as an agora phobic young adult. Let’s just say you were agora phobic. I mean, you were diagnosed, but I use the term. Okay, so let’s say you’re as an agora phobic adults or young adult. How do you transition into a career and you run department? You were on a whole department. Now you run multiple teams. So what is that transition been like for you? And how do you stay on top of things like relationship building and making sure that people are in a good psychological and emotional state, you know, like these were things that are uncomfortable for agora phobic people Yeah. So can you talk a little more about that?
[00:18:49] Alex: You know, I think I think it’s one of those things where you think you’re one way. And then when you get into the workplace, you get into something else. You you start realizing who you really are, right? Like I think that’s why our education system is not great today. It’s very, um it doesn’t really get you ready for the workplace That doesn’t get you ready for the person you’re gonna actually end up being. Once you start facing real challenges in life, right? Like you’re getting an A is a challenge and stuff like that. But building out a you know, multi $1,000,000 business is a much bigger challenge. And it’s a much harder thing to do, which no one ever tells you how to do in high school or college or whatever. Just don’t learn like that kind of stuff. Um, and I think part of it is just kind of trying seven. See what happens, I guess, like, you know, like, I I fell into my role at this company. Um, I was created pretty close out of college to work at this company and I was doing like health insurance, quoting, you know, and I was asked one day like Hey, like, I know you could program a little bit Can you help us build out some of these other pieces for programming wise? And I said, Sure What? Let’s try it right. Let’s just see what happens. And we started building out and all of a sudden we started selling this product that we had just been kind of like grifting on a little bit, I guess you’d say, And, um, at one point we kind of started building building building and became more of the focus of our company. Then what we were before before we were very like, How can we have the cheapest health insurance that we can sell to customers? And then we really start moving into How could we have the best, you know, software product, that we consulted customers and that that switch that kind of mindset change was this mindset changed my own side, right? Like we had a team that was not me working on another software product, but they couldn’t get it out the door, right? They had been very delayed on it and one day, you know, before Ah, before kind of a company meeting, I was told by my boss like, Well, you’re it now, right? Like we’re gonna build out this side. We’re not gonna do this other one anymore. And, ah, you know, I have a setting. I kind of sat there setting myself like, Oh, my gosh, that was the Calvary. Like I was hoping that would merge everything together. We all work together. We don’t get their boat. It was kind of Now, let’s get this thing done. And let’s put together a product that customers want cause we’re actually responding the customer’s needs versus waiting too long for, you know, that kind of release. Um, so I feel like from my side, it’s always been like I read a lot like you mentioned reform, really loved to read and taking a lot of what I read. And how can I apply that you don’t. I mean, um, from A from management books from history books from all those things like that, there’s always that that side learning that you do when you learn that kind of stuff and you have to figure out how can I apply this stuff. Practically right. Um, some books she read are very, you know, they kind of say the same things you need. You say exact what you want them to say, right? Yeah. This speaks to me. They’re finally writes a book she read there. Nothing makes you uncomfortable. Yeah, yeah, but there’s some books you read in. You’re like, wow, like, um, was listed other podcasts. You’re years earlier. And some of your guys you mentioned egos enemy. And that’s something. When were you reading? You’re like, wow, like that’s true. You don’t mean, like, how can you back away from you? You go. You don’t mean that kind of stuff. And after a red that I really started thinking, like, what part of there’s my career has been ego driven vs, you know, driven for by the customers earned by what would the product could be, too. So, um, it’s it’s very humbling at times. What, you what, you don’t know? You know, I mean what you learn as you just experience it and try and different stuff.
[00:22:20] Anthony: Wow. So how did you How does the former anxiety still challenge you in terms of, like putting things into practice is one thing, but to continue like do you feel like you’ve changed? You’re no longer like running away from the former days of anxiety and relationship like kind of strife. Or do you feel like, um, it’s still something that you that haunts you?
[00:22:51] Alex: I I wouldn’t say Hans. I think it’s something that I always keep in my back pocket. No, like I think when you look at some people you see and like, they can live a life that’s pretty straightforward. They haven’t necessarily. They facing everyone faces some kind of adversity in life. And it’s how you use that adversity kind of proposal forward, right? Like, um, I don’t have a chip on my shoulder because I was that way. It’s more of the kind of anxiety that drives you for two says How can I grow from this right? And how can you like in that kind of time and any time you have inverse, Did you have that kind of kind of dark feeling against like, Oh, what’s the point type of stuff You don’t know me like you depression like any kind of anxiety or any kind of, you know, bad time your life and what can you use the drive Ford from that point? Right, So that was unnecessary waste. So, you know, one of the things that that I did when I was in that kind of time for that confident leave the house that I worked on Web sites a lot. I worked on myself and I worked on one that we took from It was, Ah, it was a sight for, um, kids learn history And we took it from having, like, a couple hits every so often with Mourners, for fun. And by the time I started my job and kind of like started moving away from it, we had about 100,000 individual submissions of different uniforms and figures and stuff. So people call in history and I use that to kind of learn, like how to grow community, how to work on a community and that kind of stuff, which helped me even further long as I move forward. So nothing’s a waste necessarily, but it’s kind of a way you grow from it.
[00:24:31] Anthony: So tell me a story of how you grew from what I’ve called clueless cluelessness to known cluelessness. You know the theme of the book is really we Never We never become intelligent. And to believe that you know something is ah is a problem. Robert Fripp, the guitarist. I put a quote from him at the end, but basically ah, better to know that you’re clueless. Otherwise you could be dangerous. So can you talk a little a little bit about how cluelessness has played into your own growth? And how you as a leader at a company, see your own cluelessness? And how do you handle that when you’re supposed to be leading other people who believe that you know what you’re doing? Yeah, that’s always a good
[00:25:19] Alex: question. Uh, like, do we actually know what we we need to be doing? And I remember Ah, a little while ago, someone had on, like, one of our glass story of you said something like, the management doesn’t know what they’re doing, or they’re just making this up as they go. And and it kind of struck me as even at the time before reading your book and stuff, but even struck me is like, Well, how do you know what to do? You know, I mean, like, how are you supposed to be?
[00:25:42] Anthony: And how does this person know that you don’t know
[00:25:44] Alex: exactly like and how and knowing who the person was like, Well, do they even know you’ve got a mean temper thing? And I think I mean, I’ve had lots of feedback like that as far as from individuals or from like, people who post on our yelp Page would say like I’m an incompetent CTO because because of the way I responded to a question that made no sense at all and they were just kind of had a bone to pick with the business and you know it, It’s it e. I think from a lot of those areas you have to kind of think through it of as far as like, you’re never gonna know the answer to some stuff. You have some gut feeling you have some ability to learn, but you never truly like no, it right, like there’s some things you play off and you’re like, I’ve tried this before. I’ve done this before. I know this is how you solve this perspective of problem in sequel or Java script with him like that. But when you get to projects and stuff like it’s always a new kind of a new realm and just have toe. You have to go with it and realize that you’re not going to succeed in. You’re not gonna be the perfect thing at it. But it’s going to probably work because you’re you know, you’re not. You’re not completely incompetent at it. You know, you’re not making hamburgers at a payroll company writing, Um, but it’s not, Um, it’s not. Ah, a complete loss. I guess you could say like you. You kind of figure it Out
[00:27:06] Anthony: you go. It’s funny. I was just on glass door and I saw something that was like The management team is just a bunch of inexperienced people who got lucky. Yeah, and it’s like, Well, isn’t that everybody will? Not just that, but isn’t that what everyone aspires for? You know, like I want to start a company. I wanted to do really well and then I want this bigger company to buy me out like so many founders have exit strategies right? And it’s like you’re faulting the person for taking on all the risk of starting the company, not having the experience required which reminds you of a great Steven Wright joke. That experience is something that you get just after you needed it, Um, and then your faulting them for not knowing what they were doing as they grew and grew to the point where they could sell the company and make a good chunk of change like, Well, that’s the whole point of the American, you know, Capitalist’s dream, right? So I think it’s just kind of bitterness and jealousy when I see those sorts of comments. And frankly, I think some of the leaders at these companies would say, Yeah, that’s right. I didn’t know what I was doing and we sold it for this much like, Jeez, can you imagine how, how much we’d sell it for if we actually knew what we were doing? You know the first pancake problem right there. But the people spend 10 15 years working to get through their first business that sells and is successful enough to sell. So I just think, um, those sorts of comments say so much more about the people leaving the comment than about anything
[00:28:54] Alex: else that you had some level, I mean, it also can humble you it. I mean, we’ve one of the things we’ve built is like a benefits enrollment system. And at the end of the benefits of Roman system, employees could go in and raid us and tell us feedback. And it’s great. We get a lot of really good feedback. We build off of that a lot and really build a system to be stronger. But we’ve got I mean, we’ve gotten 17 18,000 comments on the thing, and most of them are between 4.5 and five stars, and we get someone stars, and you can’t necessarily build your life off of the 16 1 stars you get out of 16,005 starters you don’t. But those one stars really make you think about it. You’re like, wow, really? Do I know what I’m doing? You don’t like like this person hates it. And then you know that we had one person say, um said something like, You know, this takes just a neg, Zordon Amount of time. I just can’t believe how long I’d better spend doing the system. And we looked in the system is they spent five minutes filling out their health and Roman forms. And, you know, I look at it. I say, Well, before this, you’d have to fill out these six pieces of paper, and you have to write the same information six times and you spend five minutes in a system clicking thes five button.
[00:30:03] Anthony: You’d actually have to write it, too. It’s not like,
[00:30:06] Alex: Yeah, you can type it. You’re gonna write it.
[00:30:08] Anthony: You copy. Paste. Yeah, you’re writing it.
[00:30:10] Alex: And if you want to figure out what you’re being charge, that you’d have to do all this other work to manually calculate that a based off of spreadsheets and stuff, right? So, you know, I see those comments is yes, you have Thio as a business, accept them and kind of say, what was the motive behind it. But there’s times where you have to say, like, all right, this person, you know, even at their displeasure of having to do this process, still spend five minutes, you know, I mean, that’s far less than what you’d have in another sense. So
[00:30:38] Anthony: right. It’s funny. I was I was just on YouTube, and, um, I saw this clip. It was Jamie Kennedy on The Joe Rogan show, and I don’t pay a lot of attention to the Joe Rogan show. Sometimes he has really interesting guests, but I don’t even remember why I click this link. But he talked about like his advice is. Never read the comments. Yeah, and even Jamie Kennedy. You know, he’s probably and a list actor. I wouldn’t know. I mean, I’m pretty sure he’s done very, very well. And he is saying, Don’t read the comments and he said, They’ll crush you. You know, like somebody you can tell jokes all day long and that you have, like, House House is full of audience laughing people, right? You’ve a big laughing audience. And then after the show, you get a review, and it’s like, Well, Jamie wasn’t that funny And his his outfit was stupid and he made this insensitive joke. And he’s like that gets to you. Yeah, just don’t read the comments, you know? Yeah, but I love that. Even successful people have this problem, you know, and just cause they have millions of dollars or just because they are a sea level or just because they’re on a list actor or B list, whatever it is like that doesn’t change, like the fact that this stuff wouldn’t hurt and that they feel anxiety. You know, my wife was telling me Adam Driver, you know, the actor He walked out of an interview because someone played footage of him in a movie and he does not like to watch himself like that’s your whole job, You. Well, his whole job is actually doing the acting, not watching himself acting. And all these people probably think that’s ridiculous. But on the other end is a human being who loves one thing about the job and how many of us air like that. I love looking at the code, our love writing code, But I don’t love like this very public bug review where we were my bugs air being broadcast of the whole company like That’s not cool. So I just think, um, we need to be more human. We need to look past a lot of a lot of like our judgments and ego is the enemy. I think ego is driving these comments, and it does say more about the people leaving the comment than about what they’re commenting about. Yeah, yeah. So, um did you I don’t think you really covered this story of cluelessness to becoming clueless. Like you talked about being clueless. But do you have an example of when you realized Oh, my goodness, I was totally clueless about this.
[00:33:28] Alex: Um, good question. I mean, from a cluelessness perspective, I mean, I think that the more that I learned about something, the more I go back. A look at what I did in the past. I say I was clueless at that, right? Like I think as I mean, you’re someone in tech. I think the second you look back out any things you’ve done in the past, you say, Wow, what the heck were even thinking on this side? Right? Like this code is terrible. This architectures terrible and you have to go there. And and I think from my perspective, from look kind of like looking back at you know what I’ve done so far side I see a kind of a cut project management Like how we run projects and stuff like that, like not truly understanding it. Or when I do it, I do it what I think the wrong way. So I always iterating how I ran a project or how I run the team or something like that and always say, Like what I did in the past was wrong and I have to do it again in a different way. But I don’t think that’s right, right. And that goes back. Kind of like you read online. You’re reading books like, Okay, this is the way you have to do things and you say, Well, that’s never gonna work. And you have to kind of adapt what she learnt to the best way that the organizations working right like And sometimes I get worried that someone’s gonna come in and and see what we’ve done and say, That’s just terrible, like you’ve done this the complete wrong way. But maybe they’re more clueless at that. Deny. Spit in my eye I am because I’m like, Well, that’s the adaptive way we’ve had to do it to make this whole thing work properly, right? Like it’s not the ideal picture of agile. It’s not the ideal picture of can bandits, this different mixture of different things based off of how the organization actually works. And I think that the more that I see that in my own thinking and stuff like the more I kind of see Like what? I was really one of tried things in the past. Like I’ve tried them and I’m trying new things today were different methods and techniques toe lead teams like products. But I’m pretty sure I don’t really know if you know what I’m doing. You know? I mean, like, I’m kind of clueless at it, you know, at some level. But like I’m trying them, you know, But I know that it might not necessarily work perfectly. Yeah, I mean, it’s it’s it’s kind of a mixture of those kinds of things for me.
[00:35:36] Anthony: So I think when we first met and talked about some books you were talking about, um, getting into behavioral economics and that you were really into it. Um and I’m reminded of that cause I can see thinking fast and slow right on my bookshelf there. But I’ve I’ve really I love a lot of that content. But then I’ve read other people, you know, criticizing that content, saying Well, the behavior of an individual does not characterize the behavior of a group and really these air like isolated experiments and what are they really showing. So you know, there’s a part of me that’s like like Danny Kahneman. He’s like he’s been doing this research for decades. He’s not a moron, you know. He writes this incredible book and then you’ll see someone like Maxine Toe Labs say, Well, that book is useless because it’s like this totally isolated thing describing one person. Yeah, and it just it makes me think like first of all, my biases now colored when I pick up that book I used to think, Oh my goodness, What an incredible book. But now I’m like, Well, what am I supposed to do with this? So the in speaking of cluelessness and your interest in behavioral economics, I’m wondering if over the last couple of years you’ve had any changes of beliefs or opinions or, um, if you thought about it differently, how you see it playing into your career?
[00:36:59] Alex: Yes. Good. I I personally, I still love reading art early in government and, um,
[00:37:06] Anthony: Dan a Really
[00:37:07] Alex: Yeah, yeah, he’s He’s always very insightful in his books and stuff, and one of the one of the stories in his book that I’ve always really enjoyed is kind of the way they did like a study on, like, candy jars or something like that of like, ah, the true cost of free, for example of as faras when they went out and gave people like, really good chocolate. So they put it on the table city got as much as you want. It’s free. People take one or two the second did you give them for a penny? They be like, Wow, this is a deal. I’m gonna bias minutes. I can write like they were almost selfish about it as far as that. And, um, what I’ve seen is, like even those kinds of things, I look at it like the real world, right? Like I say, we have a candy jar at the front of the office. How often were you feeling that candy jars from the office actually turns out Not very often, right? Because people take a piece when they leave the officer the facts, Dr will come. It will take a piece of candy. But you know that the rational thing to do from cabinets, perspectives dump the whole thing in your bag and walk away. It’s all free, right? Free candy people put it out, but we don’t do it right. Were found by some other kind of like,
[00:38:07] Anthony: like a moral code or so.
[00:38:08] Alex: Yeah, more code. And and that kind of stuff is always really fascinating to me, even even, um I mean, specifically, that that kind of story, you know? I mean, like, I see that every day I see it, and I always think through that that one section of the book is it? Wow. Like, why aren’t they doing that? Right? Um
[00:38:25] Anthony: but I born software. I mean, you and I personally have access to so much information about other people that could we could easily just sell, you know, Thank goodness we’re moral people, but like, it’s incredible when you’re in technology and you collect any information about people. It’s like now you realize why there’s only like, three or four firms doing this. Yeah, but you also realize why they make zillions of dollars. Yeah, but I think of the same thing like, well, we do what we need in general. Yes. So, anyway, go ahead. Keep going.
[00:39:04] Alex: Oh, no, I was You know, I agree that I mean, that’s you know, what do you think is that the more the trust of people having used as far as giving your money to do something or what
[00:39:13] Anthony: do you what? I think it raises questions about the importance of moral society. And, ah, I think it’s important. Like, you know, they talk about free markets and I’m not an economist. So this is me, like I might as well be speaking about astrophysics something. But, you know, without regulations, the free market economists believe, without regulations than the market can truly grow. And, um, people like Naseem Taleb say, It’s an honor, God IQ thing and you, you allow for ruin. And you know there’s There’s an order of events that lead to something without an absorbing barrier and the absorbing barrier, and his mind is like regulations or bailouts. And if you don’t allow things to be ruined, then you don’t have a fully functioning economy. But on the other hand, there is the reality of Well, if this thing fails, than 30,000 people don’t have work, and there’s like 30,000 people without homes and not to distant future. And so, you know, I don’t really know I, but I do believe that it’s important, especially as we grow more technological and as things of value become intangible and can be carried on like a storage disk that’s smaller than 1/4 like your whole life’s data can be carried on like a one terabyte SD card or something like that. We do have this moral obligation to each other for the greater good of humanity to, ah, do what is necessary and what is right, not what is available. So I don’t I don’t know. That’s kind of my thought. We need to. We need to have a moral society not necessarily legislated according to one spiritually belief or whatever. But I don’t know, not sure where I’m going with you. What do you think about the bowl of candy and the economy? Said the bullet giving the
[00:41:21] Alex: economy. I think that, Ah, I think it shows that people acting interests of the community at a lot of times and not necessarily purely in the interest of the economy. And I think if you read some of the behaviour of comic books on the true cost of free and like why people do what they do when they have free stuff like um you know there’s another great story in there about gifts and how like you wouldn’t you know you wouldn’t go to your mom’s house and say, OK, Mom, how much for how much for Thanksgiving? Didn’t.
[00:41:51] Anthony: How much, too. Here’s 30 bucks Thanksgiving dinner. I hope that covers that read. Yeah, that wouldn’t
[00:41:56] Alex: necessarily play well in any culture in the world. Right? So it’s Ah, you know it. There’s this unspoken moral code. I think we’ll not even unspoken mean some of it’s written down. Some of it’s in, I don’t know where we were kind of show it, Um, but we have that still, and that still drives a lot of like, Well, why don’t employ steal? Why don’t they do this kind of stuff? Like part of it is, could you know, could they get away fit? Well, maybe they could get away for, But why don’t they? Yeah. I mean, why don’t people do more bad stuff? Right. Um, I think that sometimes supersedes the economy. Yeah, at some level. I mean, I’m not an economist either, but I I feel like sometimes it does, but I can’t. You know, I feel like that’s where the behavior. Economic stuff comes from, and it’s really impacts me as faras that extra level of that extra level of understanding, like, you know, supplying demand. But there’s something further beyond that that drives us right. I mean, drives us to do what we do in, you know, create and do this kind of stuff that is beyond just I could get more money for it.
[00:42:58] Anthony: Well, I do like what Taleb says in my home. I’m a communist in my neighborhood. I’m a socialist in my, you know, broader community. I’m a libertarian in my state. I’m like a moderate. And then in my nation, I’m a conservative, you know, like the broader you look, the more conservative. Ah, you should behave. I really do appreciate that because, um, you know, I can be politically right or left. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is how I act and how I can preserve the interests of of as many people as possible. So, um, that’s definitely affected the way that I think about politics. Just that that statement alone? Yeah. And in my most recent podcast episode that I released, which is will probably be two or three prior to this one when it comes out. I talked to a guy named Zubi who says We need to train our audiences to pay and people don’t value what is free. If you give a CD to someone of your music will use it as a coaster or they’ll throw it away. But if you pay and make them pay $10 for it, they’re not going to use it as a coaster or throw it away. You know, it would be like using a $10 bill as a coaster like you. Just you don’t do that. You value it differently. So I think as much as I’ve had to struggle with this book and the idea of giving it away for free, which is my natural inclination, Yeah, especially in an open source technology community, I’ve had to realize not only is giving it away, devaluing the book, but I literally lose $8 every copy that I give away because I’m buying them to give away,
[00:44:52] Alex: not want their time. You spend too,
[00:44:54] Anthony: right? Well, yeah, And the time not just the lifetime of work leading to the book, but all the hours I actually spent on the book. So, um yeah, actually, getting copies and giving them away is not in my best ingest, even though I feel like I’d rather just give the information away. So it makes me realize from a behavioral standpoint that I’m clueless about this, you know, like sure, giving away things is great, but how much in debt do you want to go to this thing that you made me do? I want to lose $300.500,000 dollars, You know, like by giving this thing away.
[00:45:38] Alex: And I mean, what are you looking for? You know, I mean, like, I I guess that’s good question for you. Like when you wrote the book. What’s the You know, what’s your intention? Is that get is it to get the information people’s hands? What was your intention when you wrote it?
[00:45:53] Anthony: You know, you’re sitting in a studio that I helped build, and it is full of instruments and recording devices because I just love to create. And on the one hand, I wrote the book because I just love to create things, and I thought, Well, I seem to know enough about these things, or at least be able to say enough about them that I could release a book. So sure, let’s give it a shot. On the other hand, I have hired dozens and dozens and dozens of people and worked with thousands of people and found that so many of us just don’t have a way of articulating a story for our careers. So I want to help people. I hope that they buy the book and that it helps them, you know. But you can’t even if they buy the book, that’s not even a promise that they’ll read it, read it or even use it. So it’s been an interesting dilemma that I’m working through every day ever since. Yeah, and in the last month, really working through it and trying to convince myself that this is something worth buying, that it is good enough to buy, and all of the feedback that I’ve gotten has been overwhelmingly positive. But it makes me feel like no one’s telling me the truth. Yeah, but maybe they are. Maybe the book is good. Yeah, maybe hit his worth buying.
[00:47:29] Alex: Well, you know, I I’ll tell you that one of the one of the things that made me feel clueless after reading your book was Ah, you asked like, Hey, could you put together an Amazon review? Right? And I said, Yeah, sure. And so I sat down the right there, if you like. Holy crap. Like, how do I review this thing? Right? How do I don’t think critically about this book. And and it released. It has sent me down this path, right? It’s $7 path of saying, Am I really reading these books properly? You know, I mean, I’m actually reading a book properly, right? Right. No one really talks about. How do you read a book? You know, I mean, how do you really like digest that book and really think that that book critically and, ah, the most effective way. And unfortunately for the yearbook and sat down to read, write the revealed like, you know what am I gonna write about this? You know how long I’m gonna How am I gonna write this in a way for review or anything like that? And ah, it’s really sent me down this path for the last two or three months of like, Okay. What? How do I read books
[00:48:25] Anthony: how truly read a book so interesting.
[00:48:28] Alex: Um, And it, you know, like, I the last couple months I’ve tried to like, say OK, after every paragraph, I’m going to really think through what that paragraph is saying. And then after every chapter, I’m gonna think through all the paragraphs of all the summers of paragraphs I’ve done and it’s just different, you know? I mean, and it really makes you think if you really spend the time, not just to say, I’m gonna pound out these five books this weekend, but that really understand them. It really gives you a different understanding of the book and makes you think through what the author is saying to you is different. It’s different experience, but that’s one of things that, honestly, like, you know, out of everything I’ve been kind of gathered from it. Like that was the one thing like, Holy crap. Am I reading crackly? I was ever taught me how to do this properly.
[00:49:12] Anthony: Yeah, yeah, nothing. Well, this book team topology is that I have over here on my desk has really challenged me in that way, too, because it’s a very deep book. It’s really good I’ve underlined the heck out of this book, and I started writing a review and I was like their stuff. I like about this book and there’s stuff I don’t like about this book. But now that I’ve written a book, do I want to actually say out loud the things that I don’t like you know, cause thes people have gone through at least a CZ. Muchas I have I’m probably much more. I wrote my book and a few weeks. I’m sure they’ve been writing this thing for years. I mean, there’s literally 15 pages of, like, bibliography and tiny tax. So I’m like, Holy cow, you know, uh, who has the right to criticize this book? But then it’s like, No, we all do. Yeah, we all do. And just because I criticize it doesn’t mean anything about those people. Just like if someone criticized my book, it doesn’t mean anything about me. Yeah, so it’s It has been interesting for me because this book has really changed my view of how teams should be run in software in good ways and in ways that I’m not so sure about. But there are things in the book that clearly could be better.
[00:50:32] Alex: Like from the structure the Booker from
[00:50:34] Anthony: known, The writing of the reading, you know, like it’s just It’s over, complex a time. So that’s one criticism. And I think about myself writing this. If I were to have written that book, how would I have done it differently? And it’s like, You know, we’re all just We’re all just like those glass door reviews just like you. The yelp reviews were all just figuring it out every stinking day. Just figuring it out. And I got I doubt. I mean, if you told me you thought about every paragraph I wrote after each paragraph, I would be like, You are the craziest first I’ve ever met. I would never intend on anyone reading. I mean, I literally just brain dumped. And then I stopped myself because I could have kept going on and on and on. And this book is long enough. So the idea that you were, you would think consider each paragraph for me. I was just like, What do I have to say about this? I don’t like the paragraph structure’s kicked me out of your home is what you’re gonna be, Oh, structure is almost not like the least important thing when I think about that book, but
[00:51:45] Alex: it’s more. It’s more of the you know, it’s more of the concept of like, you know, what do we gather from when we read? Totally, you
[00:51:53] Anthony: know. And the other thing is, everyone reads differently. Everyone picks it up and has a different interpretation. So another reason I love Robert Fritz take on things is because he talks about thes basement people and basement people are people with their heads where the sun doesn’t shine and they’re bumping into each other in the basement, asking how the weather is. And then, um, you know, people in the basement think the world is just like them on Lee. More so and I think we’ll have. I read this book. Here’s what I would be thinking, but that is the most stupid, idiotic assumption That’s me saying, Well, other people are going to be like me, only more so they’re going to read it the way that I would read it on Lee, more so when the reality is really hundreds of people have read this book and a lot of people have told me they’ve read outside of a reviewer or a conversation in a podcast or whatever, and they tell me things that I never would have expected. So it’s been a really interesting journey for me. Yeah, yeah. So any ah, any final thoughts before we wrap or anything you want to share with the audience?
[00:53:04] Alex: No, I I would say that. You know, I appreciate you taking the time. The toe actually write it. I was sticking. Ah, like I think last time we talked, I was talking How like Philip to me, it was very, very dense. And like you, you’ve taken a lot of his the irony moments out of his books as far as we have this special here and spend another 15 pages on the elites of heart Harvard and stuff like that. So maybe if you continue to do that, just take his books, take out all the elitist kind of fighting arguments. Maybe that would continue that making stuff more digestible.
[00:53:34] Anthony: What’s funny is there’s that website blink ist. I think it is where they will basically summarize every book in 15 minutes or yes, and he like. He went on a scathing tirade saying if a book can be explained in less than 15 minutes, it shouldn’t be a book. And ah, I x partially agree with him. And his book is just so His books are so full, so full of ideas, so full of wisdom and everything. But, ah, when like anybody else, he read it and you take away on Lee certain things. So all I can do is share the things that really impacted me. And I cannot pretend to understand it the way that he understands that. I mean, the guy really is a genius. And anyone at that level, you know, you can only just hope that you can take away What if something? Yeah, And I think we’re better from learning from any genius then criticizing them.
[00:54:26] Alex: Well, at least hopefully next book, you’re not gonna spend a lot of time talking about Harvard elites and stuffs.
[00:54:31] Anthony: No, no. I’ll tell you, after the podcast with the next book is around. So yeah, Thank you for listening. And that was Alex Kramer from the company tag based in Arizona and ah, looking forward to hearing you guys in the next one. See you. Thanks for listening to this episode of The Clueless at the work podcast. You can pick up a copy of the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and at Clueless at the work dot com, where you’ll also find book excerpts, podcast transcriptions and Maur related content. Please consider subscribing to the podcast and check out our previous episodes as we walk through the book content together.