March 15, 2024


Ideas & Tech Stacks

Hosted by

Jordan Gal Brian Casel
Ideas & Tech Stacks
Bootstrapped Web
Ideas & Tech Stacks

Mar 15 2024 | 00:52:03


Show Notes

Exploring new ideas via conferences.  Building in Laravel vs. Rails.  Training customer success.  Leveraging audience as an employee vs. founder.  Travel energy.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:17] Speaker A: Bootstrapped web. We're back at it. I have my window cracked open. It's getting a little bit warmer around here. Pretty psyched. Okay. [00:00:25] Speaker B: Friday, it is a beautiful day here in Chicago. Also, windows cracked. Look at us. We're in good shape on a Friday. [00:00:32] Speaker A: We got the podcast. [00:00:33] Speaker B: This is going to be. I think we're going on hiatus for two. Going. Okay, maybe just one week, but next week is spring break with the kids. [00:00:41] Speaker A: Oh, yeah. Where are you headed? [00:00:42] Speaker B: We are heading to Austin, Texas. [00:00:44] Speaker A: Oh, love it. [00:00:45] Speaker B: Yep. We did Maui the last few years, and that's just a giant trip of travel and money. We were like, let's go more social. We're meeting a family that we're close with from Portland. They have kids. We're getting two Airbnbs in the same neighborhood. [00:01:00] Speaker A: Very cool. [00:01:01] Speaker B: We're going to hang. Very excited. [00:01:02] Speaker A: I love Austin. I think the last time I was there was before COVID And, yeah, it's great. Great town. [00:01:09] Speaker B: Cool. What is going on this week? [00:01:15] Speaker A: All right, so you know what? I tried something different on Twitter today. Didn't really work. I don't want to do this show, like, live or anything, but I want some more interaction. I always want more interaction from our listeners. And my thought was, I have a list of three things I want to talk about today. I threw them out on Twitter a couple hours earlier, maybe try to get some what the questions would be around this stuff. But, yeah, I don't know. My three things that I have on my list right now are I don't know which order will go in. So on the clarity flow front, I think I'll talk about that a bit. Kat has been coming on board as our customer success person, and I'm still spending a lot of my hours doing support and customer success and some extra hours now, like training her and getting her up to speed. And my goal is to really remove the support and success function off of my plate as soon as possible. That's one. The other one is instrumental products, the product development shop that I'm starting up here. And I have a couple of good projects happening now. A couple pipeline coming through. And now I'm thinking strategically about who really is our best target customer. Some strategy lead pipeline thoughts there. And then maybe we'll get a little bit technical. I don't know. I've spent a lot of time this past week digging into Laravel land and the tall stack because I'm a rails guy and I'm just exploring. I don't know for sure if I'm really going to go all in on the tall Laravel stack, but I'm exploring it. [00:02:59] Speaker B: This is not mostly technical. We are mostly not technical here. [00:03:02] Speaker A: Okay. Yeah. So tall is tail one, CSS, alpine, JS, Laravel and Livewire. So those four things fit together really nicely. I already use two of those things. Yeah, I'm exploring that. And I want to talk, actually about the business case for maybe exploring that versus continuing with rails and all that. [00:03:29] Speaker B: Okay, cool. I think of rails and Laravel as both healthy communities. It feels to me they are. [00:03:38] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:03:38] Speaker B: It feels to me like rails is maybe a bigger and more nebulous, like, tough to kind of wrap your hands around it, whereas Laravel, it feels like a family. It's like, you know, all the people, they're all right there. You can literally just reach out and talk to Taylor, the founder, or the people around him or the people. It's very. It's very good. [00:04:00] Speaker A: There's definitely. I mean, that's definitely one of the things driving this. And I don't know for sure. Still. I'm still learning. I'm still exploring, but I think it's a direction that I want to transition into. I have some business thoughts on that we can get into. Okay, cool. What do you got on your end? [00:04:16] Speaker B: And we've been Laravel since. [00:04:19] Speaker A: Yep. [00:04:20] Speaker B: So we love it. Also, what do I have? Let's see. I want to talk about what Aaron Francis should do, that opine on someone else's life in general. [00:04:31] Speaker A: So I want to talk about. He's been the story on Twitter this week. How can we not talk about it? [00:04:37] Speaker B: Yeah, I think it has some interesting dynamics around it, around audience, around personal affinity and the difference between that individual person and the company that they work. [00:04:51] Speaker A: He, Aaron and Ian had a great conversation that came out a couple of days ago on their pod all about. [00:04:59] Speaker B: Yeah, so we can get into that. And then I feel like my evolution around the pivot just continues. And I'm very happy that I'm about to go away. I'm about to step away from the desk and the computer for a little while. On Sunday, I head out to Las Vegas for shop talk. And my goal in that type of environment in a conference is not to close deals. I'm there with team members and their goal is to close deals. I am looking, for lack of a better term, to catch a vibe. I want to feel and sense what's going on. And this week I started reaching. [00:05:44] Speaker A: Nothing is huge. Right. [00:05:46] Speaker B: It's a big one. It's a big one. And there's a lot of advantage in that because Vegas is weird, right? You're just indoors in a hotel for three days and that's not fun. But what it does create is so many hours of potential hangout time with people and everyone's kind of in the same boat where they kind of hate life while they're there. So going off and grabbing a beer and having a meal and talking for an hour is a welcome respite. And for me, that's not a respite. That is the goal of actually going. [00:06:15] Speaker A: Yeah, I feel like that's the goal of any conference that I go to these days. It's like, who am I hanging out with? Having dinner, getting a drink, know, the talks and the activities. Like, those are nice, but it's the people. [00:06:28] Speaker B: Yep, that's right. And speaking of people, I want to talk about microconts later also. I haven't been in years and I'm considering going to Atlanta. And I think that is part of my evolution on how to think about our situation and rally and what product we offer and where it should. [00:06:48] Speaker A: Might be. I think as of right now, I'm probably skipping it this year, unfortunately. I might grab a last minute ticket. I'm not sure, but I'll be down in the Florida keys for a budy's wedding, like just a few days before that. And I don't really love the back to back trips, so. Yeah, I don't know. [00:07:06] Speaker B: I hear you. I will actually be in Florida visiting family. I've got some of my cousins from Israel that I haven't seen in a while. They're coming to Florida with their kids, so that's too good of an opportunity. So I'm heading down there anyway. I feel like I could just kind know, hit up Atlanta for a night on the way up. So that would work. Probably be exhausting, but still fun. [00:07:24] Speaker A: Cool. [00:07:25] Speaker B: So I go from Las Vegas, shop talk. I get home on Wednesday. It's my kid's birthday. Woohoo. And then the next day we go on spring break for a week. So I'm kind of going to be away from my desk for almost two weeks. [00:07:40] Speaker A: You know what? We travel a lot. You're like an animal when it comes to traveling, dude. [00:07:45] Speaker B: It goes through waves. I won't do anything for two months or three months, and then it'll be four or five trips within like a two month span. [00:07:56] Speaker A: I love traveling and my whole family does too. We do a lot of trips and stuff and we get excited about booking them and looking forward to them. I have noticed in the last couple of years, the back to backs are like, I used to handle them, no problem, but now it's like I need a good, like two, three, four days to rest my body after a trip. Especially if it's like a conference where I'm just like super social for a bunch of days and I got to be in a bed for like three days after that. [00:08:30] Speaker B: Classic introvert. The opposite. I'm so energized when I get home. My only real issue around travel is just being away from the kids and my wife and the stress that adds to my wife. That's the only reason that I don't travel continuously. But that trip to LA last week for the Montgomery summit, I got so much out of that and again, zero having to do with the talks. One of the talks was actually very good around AI and where enterprise spending is going toward AI and what they're looking for. It was really interesting. But I come out of those trips with a different worldview and I almost want more of that. So I'm excited for Vegas, I'm excited for Austin, I'm excited for Atlanta, where it's like I want to think differently 30 days from today than I'm thinking now. [00:09:24] Speaker A: Yeah, it's true. These trips, especially like the microcomps. And anytime I'm hanging out with other entrepreneurs, it's such a treat to get my mind into, especially like, talking to other people about their businesses anytime. It's a refresher and it just fires up the inspiration on all sorts of new ideas. Yeah, and then you let it incubate on the flight home and you're doing these different things. [00:09:54] Speaker B: The best part is leaving and your head's just spinning with different things and you're trying to formulate that chaos into some insight worldview, something different. I have this nagging worry that I'm not looking at our situation the right way. Something. [00:10:20] Speaker A: That's the worry I always have for years. [00:10:23] Speaker B: Yeah, but sometimes you kind of live with it and sometimes you're like, well, I demand to change it now. [00:10:29] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:10:29] Speaker B: So I think I'm very energized since the pivot, that disconnection emotionally from the product itself. I'm almost viewing the product once removed. It's not my product and my baby and our company. I'm looking at it as like this entity that lives out on the market and let's see how the market reacts to it. [00:10:52] Speaker A: Yeah, we've been talking about this, but I have the same sort of view of clarity flow at this point. But the thing is. I think this is the same for both of us. It definitely is that we both still own these businesses. So we still very much care about these businesses. But you have to hold two ideas in your head at the same time. One is like this business that I own and has some legs, has a strategy, and we're executing on that strategy, but at the same time, I need to be looking ahead to what's next, where are we going next? And that requires me going off in a different direction while that strategy over there is still operating with people, with execution, and we have to give it what it needs. [00:11:42] Speaker B: That's very well said, that. Splitting your brain in half that way, continuing, setting a strategy, following it, giving it air, letting it do its thing for a bit to understand the feedback, but you're almost moving on from the strategy before it gets a chance to succeed or fail. That also itself feels a bit dangerous because where are you? Where is your head? Is your head and attention required to see if the initial strategy worked or not? Or does it have a life of its own? [00:12:19] Speaker A: View it objectively? I feel like this is like a constant debate with people like, oh, you got to be 100% focused on a thing in order for the strategy or the execution to work. And I think sometimes that's absolutely true, especially if there's all this momentum that's going in the right direction. You want to sort of feed that fire and stay focused on it. But there's a flip side to that, I think, where it's like so many of these strategies require so much time to develop and it's easy to get impatient with it. What I'm doing with clarity flow is like this customer success thing, and we have other lead flow stuff that just happens that doesn't require me to actually operate the tools or do the job. So I need to let it do its thing. And that execution actually doesn't require, I mean, I'm building the customer success function right now. But like our lead flow thing, I have somebody who's running that operation right now. I'm not the one like sending emails every day. [00:13:29] Speaker B: Yeah, I'm trying to figure out what is the decision matrix? What are these different parameters to actually look at on whether or not to stick with something? What strategy makes sense right now, given our resources, constraints, talents, shortcomings, all these things? Is it a. Well, you have the resources to stick with it for a year? Is that the right strategy? Or is it put the thing out if it doesn't come back as an obvious market fit, pull, know it when you see it kind of thing within 60, 90 days, then drop it and move on. [00:14:13] Speaker A: Yeah. Because an extra year would be too expensive for that. Or an extra two years or whatever it might end up being. Yeah. Maybe you can just grind it and hammer it to some level of moderate success. But if that costs two years to execute, then that's not the plan. You need something that's going to catch fire that then you can add resources to, right? [00:14:40] Speaker B: Yes, I think that's a good way to look at it. It shouldn't require a tremendous amount of resources to get it going. If it gets going, then you have the resources to push and to hire and to do all these other things. [00:14:54] Speaker A: Yeah, we always come back to the same theme. Either it's a push or a pull. Yeah, ma'am. On clarity flow, I just want to touch on that because I feel like it's weird because I still spend a lot of hours on clarity flow, but I'm not talking about it as much on the podcast because that's not the new thing anymore. But I'm spending, I would say, at least 50% of my hours still on clarity flow. And those hours are split between product work, directing my developer, and prioritizing her queue, and making sure that we're building the right things and taking customer requests and designing features. So there's that product work which I love to do, and I feel like I need to be the head of product for the foreseeable future on all of my products that I'm running, especially clarity flow, that's my top function, I would say, is being the head of product. I happen to also be the founder, and I talk to customers, but there's a lot of those hours that are just spent doing straight customer support. So answering emails, checking in on customer accounts, seeing what's going on. Oh, this customer reported a bug. Let me go replicate that bug. See if I need to file a ticket. All right. This customer is doing a feature request. What is the feature request? Have we heard it before? Are we filing that? This customer is asking for advice on how to use clarity flow. This customer wants a call. This customer wants. There's all that stuff. And that adds up. Even though each one of those little tasks might take me ten minutes or 20 minutes, they add up to multiple hours every day of just support work. My goal at this point, because I am spending a lot more energy and hours on instrumental products. My new business, that's where I see the most opportunity, and I feel like the best direction for me overall is to build that business out. So I need to reduce my personal time investment on clarity flow from like, let's say 50% down to 2020, 5% and just doing the product work, cutting out the customer support work. So Kat has come on board. She's about three or four weeks into this customer success role. And it's definitely more than just support, it's customer success, and it's a strategic thing where the strategy is. I think that with her, and she's already doing some things way better than me, just communicates so much better, especially interface with customers. But she can really help convert these trialing people to long term paying customers. Whereas currently, with me sort of like half assing it on the customer success role, it's a little bit too easy for them to just get frustrated and drift away. Whereas if she's like a dedicated person there to help them. So that means it's like on top of the customer success work. It's also like for every ticket, I'm spending double the amount of time explaining to Kat or showing to, like, here's why I answered it. This. Um, so I've done a bunch of. And, and then I asked her to create her own demo account on clarity flow and then record, like a presentation walking through it. And that was a good exercise. And we kind of picked apart, like, I like to talk about these features in this way and kind of connect it back to this use case when I'm talking to a coach and things like that. And she's doing just an incredible job with this stuff. And so I think at this point, I'm really close to just saying, like, all right, I'm turning over the reins now. We're going to shift from you shadowing me to me shadowing you and you're going to be the frontline customer support person. You'll still escalate a lot of stuff to me, but. [00:18:59] Speaker B: Right, maybe correct here and there. [00:19:01] Speaker A: Yeah. I think we're really close at this point to these incoming emails every day. Go to her first instead of going to me first. [00:19:10] Speaker B: Okay. [00:19:11] Speaker A: I'm not fully out of it yet. I don't think I ever will be. But if it can get to a point where here's my ideal scenario, I hope I can get here in the next two to four weeks, frankly, is like, we're still going to get all this inbound support and feature requests and bugs and things, and she should be able to take those, replicate it, write up an issue in linear, and I can review it and then I can think about it and prioritize it. In our product queue and she's still the one like interfacing with customers. So there's that piece plus doing the customer success thing like converting trials to paying customers. So I think that's coming along. It's still like a lot of extra hours that are kind of filling up my week. But a few weeks ago it was like, oh man, I hope she can do this. But it seems so daunting to go from just me doing everything to having somebody else handle this. And now I can sort of see like a light at the end of the tunnel where I think we're just a few weeks away from clarity flow. Like finally doing its thing on its own and I'm just doing the product work on it. That's the goal. I think at this point it's always. [00:20:22] Speaker B: Surprising how capable people are of taking over the tasks that we thought only we could do. Yeah, we overestimate dramatically the knowledge required because it's become like intuitive to us. And so we say, how is someone possibly going to learn enough to have this level of intuition? And it's always surprising. I don't know what does that if it's like a mental block or if it's just unfamiliarity or inexperienced with doing it, but people are capable, man. [00:20:59] Speaker A: Not only that, the other thing that I have to keep reminding myself of is that different people, different professionals have completely different strengths. [00:21:08] Speaker B: True. [00:21:08] Speaker A: And her cat's strengths are not mine and I'm already seeing that flat out. We're doing this exercise now where actually she is taking the inbound requests and she'll draft a response as if she was going to be the one to do it and then I'll send the actual response and sometimes it's like recording a video for a customer. She has this ability to explain a feature in a way that's way simpler than I would explain it to a customer. Even though I'm better, even though I know it better. I designed it, I developed it, but I'm like way too close to the features. I built them. I'm also probably more technical than coaches need to hear, and she can start to speak coach language or customer language and tie it right back to the use case. And we don't need to get into the technicalities, just little presentational things. She's also just a fantastic communicator and writer, but she's also picking up on literally how all of the features and functionality work in clarity flow way faster than I expected, which is great. So I think we're pretty close and there's still going to be a lot of stuff that. Yeah, I would have answered that differently, but at this point, it's way more valuable to me to get me out of that function than for every single message to be perfect. Yeah. [00:22:36] Speaker B: It's not even perfect. It's perfect according to the way you would have done it. [00:22:39] Speaker A: Exactly. In many ways better than how I would do it. Yeah. [00:22:42] Speaker B: I had that experience in sales conversations where I had Dina, our salesperson, on with me, and we'd hang up the phone and it would be this obvious thing like, oh, here's what I did wrong. Here's where I over explained. Here's where I should have asked for this. And it needed to happen because she needed to hear how I demo and how I sell. And then very quickly after that, it was obvious that me being on those calls is actually hurting us. And I was very happy to kind of let that go, as was she happy to be able to do it on her? [00:23:19] Speaker A: Yep. Yeah, for sure. [00:23:21] Speaker B: All right. So what Aaron Francis do with his life? [00:23:24] Speaker A: Yeah. All right. With all those kids, to me it seems obvious. I'm guessing it does to a lot of folks. And of course, none of us can really speak for Aaron, and none of us even really know all the ins and outs of what's happening behind the scenes with planet scale and all that stuff. And we're not going to speak to, but I think the thing is, because clearly Aaron has wanted to do things outside of his employment, like starting startups and doing products and building businesses and all that. If you're going to go out and do your own thing, there is no better time to do that than right this moment, in my view. Okay. Yes. At the same time, and I know how difficult that is, especially when clearly you have so many incredible offers being thrown your way, like right now. That is the most difficult thing. [00:24:27] Speaker B: Yes, difficult and amazing thing. Fine. And where that connects is to your personal life. And Aaron has many dependents. [00:24:42] Speaker A: Yes. That's just. [00:24:46] Speaker B: Know an offer in the abstract. [00:24:48] Speaker A: But that's not going to change anytime soon. [00:24:50] Speaker B: No. But it has a cooling effect on people's ambition. [00:24:56] Speaker A: Of course. Okay. If you have any sort of ambition to do your own thing, build your own business and be a full time business owner, if that's true, we start with that assumption. If you're happy to have an amazing career doing what you do, then that's great, too. [00:25:15] Speaker B: I think we can assume that everyone wants to make a million dollars a year. Yes. [00:25:19] Speaker A: But not only make money, but own your own business. [00:25:23] Speaker B: Yes. I think I looked at it from a slightly different angle, as opposed to he should go out on his own. Now, I just looked at it as if you are capable of building the single most valuable thing in today's economy on the Internet, which is an audience. Then whatever you do, you need to continue building the audience, because at some point, that audience can turn into whatever you want it to be, whether it's its own business, or you can command whatever you want in the market from employers, or you can be a co founder, whatever you want to do. So I think I looked at it as there is a very teeny, tiny top of the content pyramid, right? The overwhelming majority of the content pyramid are just viewers. Then there are the top 10% that are creators, and then there's the very, very little tip top that are actually good creators. [00:26:28] Speaker A: Correct. [00:26:28] Speaker B: And we know them because they're at the top of their pyramid. We watch them and we enjoy being entertained by them. We fall in love with them, or we fall in hate with them. It's this thing. It's like they're like the popular kids in high school, just at a global scale. So I think Aaron has built up the knowledge and skill to create content in such a way that, and I think what we're all seeing on Twitter, and Aaron, don't let this get to your head, bro. I know you're listening. But he has the ability to do that without the hate, which is a very powerful way to get there. He does it with love. [00:27:10] Speaker A: Exactly. Very positive, just a positive personality, which is why so many people like him. And that's why I like him, especially at a time in our industry. And you see this, I think, mostly on Twitter. Even, like, good, well meaning people come off as snarky or negative or condescending on Twitter. And Aaron is none of that. That's right. [00:27:39] Speaker B: Because those things are rewarded. Being an asshole is rewarded. Being confrontational, being declarative. This is the only way to do know these things are rewarded. And so people fall into that trap, and they do get both sides. They get a lot of people that don't like them, and they get a fan base with it. [00:27:59] Speaker A: I think the other thing, and Aaron pointed this out on his had he and Ian made a bunch of great points here. I basically agree with all of it. But the other thing about Aaron is that he's so well entrenched in not only like, dev education, but database education. He was like all the other thought leaders in this space are, like, neck beardy, like super nerdy, super technical, don't have that on camera personality? [00:28:35] Speaker B: Yes. I'm not technical enough to really understand the differences between who's a back end influencer, a tailwind influencer and a database influencer. [00:28:44] Speaker A: I'll leave that up the chain. The database is the most technical deep down the stack, whereas up at the top you've got the pretty tailwind, CSS. [00:28:57] Speaker B: Design stuff version of things. [00:29:00] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:29:00] Speaker B: So it gets less substantial. So whatever protects that and makes sure that that continues to me would be the priority, because all of that leads to my actual. When I have been watching this thing unfold, the thing that really stood out to me, that came out from my emotions of it, was just be really ambitious. [00:29:29] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:29:30] Speaker B: The Internet so big these days, you can make a million dollars a month if you have that talent with the audience and the love. The sky is the absolute limit. I think Mr. Beast kind of shows there is no ceiling, is self imposed. [00:29:47] Speaker A: I know that Aaron is ambitious. He's been talking about it bigger. I know he's been talking about his ambition and everything. All of that is right here for the taking. And none of this he doesn't know. But I also think that there's a huge benefit to this moment right now. I think he talked about this publicly, that he's considering the option of just launching some sort of consultancy business courses and or consulting in the dev education content space, which makes perfect sense. He made a point of saying he's not starting a SaaS product, which I also think makes perfect sense. But the idea that, just look at his tweets this week, how much engagement they're getting right there, you can easily spin up a healthy client base for a new business. And look, the difficult thing here is that he's also going to weigh that against some very attractive job offers, very attractive for his tribe, of course, health insurance. But to me, look, I honestly can't speak to what it must be like sitting in his position. Sure. But as an outsider looking in from an objective, what's difficult is weighing there's some level of risk in starting your own business and you technically will make more dollars, especially in the next twelve months if you take some job. Sure. So you have to go into this thinking like, I'm going to make less upfront, but so much more. And you can make still a lot up front, especially if you're doing consulting and courses and not a SaaS in the first year. And look, owning your own business to me is key. [00:31:50] Speaker B: He has his own business technically, right? He sell things on the side. [00:31:53] Speaker A: Yeah, on the side. But I'm saying like something that you can grow into a sellable asset that can be hugely profitable for years to come. And you are an owner, and that's what we do. We build assets. That's what we do. [00:32:10] Speaker B: Yeah. The thing with assets is that they take time. And so I think that the danger is ending up in a somewhat adversarial relationship between your employer and your ambition. [00:32:23] Speaker A: Well, that's the other thing, is that his audience is a massive, massive asset. And when it's not owned by him, he clearly does have a personal audience, that is. But all the subscribers that he grew for planet scale are not his right. [00:32:39] Speaker B: And I think that is a great lesson to walk into the next step, which is, if I'm signing an employment contract, I have clearly delineated rights in that employment agreement to build up my own audience, to keep ownership over certain things. Right. When an engineer signs an employment agreement with rally, what they're signing is that whatever you invent and create from the time you start to the time you end your employment is owned by us. That's how our contract started. Anyway, when I took another look at that and realized, oh, that's not the intent at all. So let's create a carve out. [00:33:20] Speaker A: We have side projects. Yes, exactly. [00:33:23] Speaker B: We have two carve outs. The carve out that you walk in the door with. So for example, our DevOps engineer, Goron, built up a DevOps system that he has brought with him from company to company, and it's incredibly valuable. So when talking to him, carve out. Number one is name that in the employment agreement so that the company can't touch it. So it's yours. You bring it into the company, we get value from it. If you leave the company, you take it with you. If you don't do that, then the company's going to end up owning it. And then the second carve out is side projects are explicitly allowed as long as XYZ, right, don't use company property, don't do resources, don't spend money from the company, and so on. So that from a legal point of view, if you're looking into employment, you got to get those carve outs no matter what. And then you have to acknowledge, I'm going to build an audience and this is not my last employer. And so should I bring my own email list? Should I start building my own YouTube channel? If I were him, the ideal would be to be able to dedicate a significant amount of time to your own thing. So if somebody, especially this type of. [00:34:31] Speaker A: Skill set and value that he brings to a company, which is like, audience growth. [00:34:37] Speaker B: Might have enough leverage to just name that situation, though, and say, I will help you build an audience, but I'm building my own audience at the same time. [00:34:46] Speaker A: Yeah. And they touched on this. This is so tricky. I feel like somebody who is relatively unknown, who is good with video content and goes, I think Aaron was maybe near the beginning of his employment at Planet scale. He had some traction before that, I guess. But somebody who's relatively unknown and goes into a company and proves their value, proves their skill at growing an audience within a company, it sort of does the job. You get the best of both worlds. You're getting a great salary, you're getting exposure, and you're going to grow your personal audience just as a byproduct of. [00:35:26] Speaker B: Doing that, you're getting paid to. [00:35:28] Speaker A: But I feel like once you have achieved that, and clearly Aaron has, it doesn't make as much sense to go do the same thing for another company if you're already at this level of recognition. [00:35:42] Speaker B: But I bet you could structure things where a company can get a lot of value from you working with them. You can trade that for getting paid. Right. [00:35:51] Speaker A: Because the way that the companies get that value from, quote unquote, influencers is they hire them to. They sponsor them. Right, sure. Or they might buy out somebody's website or something like that. [00:36:03] Speaker B: Or you could buy someone's YouTube channel. Right. [00:36:05] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:36:06] Speaker B: But you can ideally maintain your independence while also providing value to a company. So I think, I'm trying to think back if we've done it, or someone I'm thinking of, but let's just say, for example, you have a DevOps type product that Aaron would be great for. You could go to him and say, okay, we'll give you $75,000 over the next six months, and we want two videos per month. [00:36:32] Speaker A: And there's a whole economy of that. People sponsor YouTubers all the time. Yeah, you're right. [00:36:38] Speaker B: Well, you invoice us from your company. You're not an employee. [00:36:41] Speaker A: Independent. Yeah. That's a creator business right there. You're selling sponsored content. [00:36:46] Speaker B: Yes. As the company, I would see tremendous leverage in Aaron's audience, even if he doesn't join full time. The truth is, if he joins full time, I know he's leaving anyway. It's just a matter of time. It's just a matter of. [00:37:03] Speaker A: Yeah. I also really question this whole idea. Like, clearly, sometimes it can work like it did in the case of hiring Aaron to grow the planet scale YouTube channel. But I feel like most companies, and I've tried this unsuccessfully, trying to hire someone to be, I don't know, to grow, like, the media brand and be like the personal face of the company. That's so difficult to do for the company. And it's dangerous. Clearly. It's dangerous. [00:37:37] Speaker B: Yeah. You want the brand and the company to be out in front. And the different help. [00:37:45] Speaker A: It's different to hire people to execute on YouTube with a wide range of different content, but putting all the eggs in, like, this person is our face of the company. It's not impossible. Some companies have done it, but it's just tricky. [00:38:04] Speaker B: And I don't know how big Planet scale was. I don't know if it's like a Series B company, C if it's bootstrap, I have no idea. But the scale of value is exponential. So a company that's doing $10 million a year in revenue, Aaron, coming in and making a campaign and helping them build out a series of videos and get their YouTube channel off the board, that might be worth $100,000 to a company that does $300 million a year, it's worth many times that. And they have the budget for it, and they also don't have the expertise for it. So there is an opportunity to kind of go, basically go up market with the individual agency like services and in the meantime, work on your very scalable product that you can build a funnel for and then sell 100 copies of or 500 copies of in a month. And it doesn't add anything. Right. That strategy of effectively, agency revenue to. [00:39:02] Speaker A: He's doing that. [00:39:05] Speaker B: Jokes about kids. [00:39:08] Speaker A: You can get the influx of cash by selling a course or a couple of courses, and you can get the high end consulting dollars. And that can look like not just like teaching someone how to do video, but how your company can hire another Aaron Francis. Like, what's the playbook for that? That's the high value, high dollar consulting thing that his company could do. But the thing that I've said for years on other podcasts and stuff is starting your first. I know it's not his first business, but like, starting your first business, the decision to leave a company or phase out personal freelancing to start a larger business, it's always going to require some upfront risk. [00:40:00] Speaker B: Risk. [00:40:01] Speaker A: You're going to have a dip. There's no way around the dip. You got to go into it thinking like, all right, we have enough savings for my family. We're good for this number of months. Let me give this thing a shot. I'm going to make less for this amount of time before it, because on the other side, you build an asset that should be profitable. But can. [00:40:22] Speaker B: I think he can beat the system? [00:40:25] Speaker A: And when you have an audience like that, you can beat the system to a certain extent. [00:40:28] Speaker B: You can just turn those full time employment offers and just say, I'm not ready for that right now, but I will take a three month contract and do XYZ. [00:40:38] Speaker A: That's what I'm saying. This moment that he has is the perfect time to launch a consultancy and get ten clients in the door. Done in a month. [00:40:48] Speaker B: Go, Aaron. [00:40:49] Speaker A: Hell yeah, ma'am. Good shit. Sort of. Speaking of, let's get a little bit slightly technical, I think, but we're going to stick to the business side of it. All right. So several years back now, six, seven years ago, I made the decision. I remember when I was. So, my whole career I've been front end designer, developer, right? And then it was around 2018, I decided to learn full stack development. I wanted to be able to build my own apps. And I remember at that time I took a month or two to decide between rails and Laravel. I took courses in both. I've had experience with PHP before that. I was actually brand new to Ruby at the time. I took two courses, I took a bunch of Laracasts and then I did a rails course. And I just found that rails at the time was easier for me to pick up and then go build another app. And actually I launched like Sunrise KPI a few months after that, using rails. And from that point forward, since 2018, I've been all in on rails and I love it to this day. Clarity flow was built in it, process kit was, and all of my full stack products have been in rails. And I've built a deeper and deeper understanding of the framework and Ruby, and that has also extended into JavaScript. And I've been a big tailwind guy for a while, and it's, it's clear. [00:42:26] Speaker B: You can get whatever you need done with rails, and it's for the community. [00:42:30] Speaker A: And it is still very much. People may love it or hate it, but it's still great today. And rail seven is great, I'll be honest. The new hotwire stuff in rail seven, I've played with it, I've learned it, I've tried it out on a couple of small projects. I don't love certain things about it. I feel like it overcomplicates things. I don't know how much. Anyway, the new hotwire stuff in rail seven is not super attractive to me. The way that it is to a lot of other rails devs, for whatever reason. Laravel, I feel like at this point in 2024, like we were talking about earlier, the ecosystem seems so well developed at this point, and that's on a number of fronts. It's not just the tooling, it's the community, it's the training material, and it's the integration between the different elements. So like a relatively new piece of the puzzle is this livewire thing, which is sort of like an alternative to the hotwire thing in rails. Okay. Tailwind CSS is like kind of built in, basically baked in at this point. Alpine JS is like a lightweight JavaScript thing and it's all sort of right there, linked from the homepage on Laravel. It's in there. When you're installing a new app into. [00:43:56] Speaker B: MVPs, we do stuff like Laravel Nova. There's a lot of stuff that helps you avoid building the most basic functionality that needs to be in every web app. That's one of the reasons we've always loved Laravel. [00:44:09] Speaker A: And to be clear, all this stuff is available in rails land. If you want authentication, there's device and there's all these different tool, and you can do everything that you need to do in both worlds. And to be frank, for me personally, I still build much faster in rails because I have more experience with it now. But the reason why I spent this past week watching a bunch of laracasts and building some practice projects using what they call the tall stack, tailwind, Alpine, Laravel, Livewire, and I've already been using two of those four things. So it's not totally new to me. But the reason why I'm taking this moment to let me step back and see if I should start to transition myself into Laravel instead of continuing to be all in on rails. I've been all in on rails for the last six, seven years. I don't know for sure that I'm all in on rails for the next six or seven years. And I feel like right now this is a good moment for me to reassess that question. And I still don't even know the answer. I still might come back after the next week or two and say, like, you know what, I'm just better, right? [00:45:22] Speaker B: Do you see that? [00:45:23] Speaker A: This is not just me personally, this is more of a business thing for instrumental products, right? [00:45:28] Speaker B: Which it makes sense, like you said, this moment, as you're starting to build stuff there, do you see that as expanding from being able to do one thing, going over to do two things or two universes, whatever. [00:45:39] Speaker A: Some of it is that, or do. [00:45:40] Speaker B: You see it as a switch? Like I'm going to focus somewhere else. [00:45:44] Speaker A: Some of it is having both tools in the tool belts because I have been talking to a bunch of leads and taking on a few new ones now and it has come up where sometimes they just have a preference for rails and sometimes they have a preference for Laravel because right off to their team afterwards. Yeah. So I do like the idea of being well versed in both and having resources on my team for both and having experience in both worlds to be able to build and deploy apps either way. So rails, like the big check mark is already there. Laravel I would say in the next couple of weeks here I'm building a practice app on it right now. The other nice thing now is that I'm so much more further along in my experience as a full stack developer that I can learn things so much faster than I did years ago. And there's so many similarities in the patterns and structure, some differences which are interesting. But I don't want to get too technical on this. I want to stick to the business side, which is the other thought as I'm instrumental. Products as a business, what we do is we build lots of products and I expect to be building lots and lots of products going forward. I've talked about it before, a bit. [00:47:03] Speaker B: Of a conveyor belt kind of approach. [00:47:06] Speaker A: We need a rinse and repeat sort of system. Is that going to be on rails or is that going to be on Laravel? Are we going to reuse the same tool set and the same code base and conventions and things? The more that we can keep that consistent, the better. And whichever one is faster and more effective to build really solid future proof apps, the better. I still think that both are good options, but I'm just taking this time to maybe we would be better off from an operations standpoint to start to. I could see this going a couple of different ways. One is the more I learn on Laravel, the more comfortable I get with it, the more opportunity I see. And then it's like most or all new products going forward, especially ones that I own outright, I'm just going to choose Laravel and commit to that path while still maintaining some of the apps in rails. Another option might be like, you know what, there are some technical things that I don't love in Laravel, that I'm just more comfortable or faster or I think are more effective in rails land. Maybe I took this time to explore and I say like, nope, I'm sticking with then. And then we are just totally a rail shop. And then I guess the third option would just be like, yeah, we do both. And we could go either. Right, right. [00:48:36] Speaker B: Agnostic on that. [00:48:38] Speaker A: Yeah. And my team that I work with, like my developers, which is like a big team from India, and I can source developers from them sort of at will at this point or within a few weeks notice, they are half and half too. So they have plenty of rails and plenty of PHP laravel developers too. So it works out on that front too. [00:49:00] Speaker B: Cool. It makes me think of bullet train. So that's rails. Is there something equivalent in Laravel? [00:49:09] Speaker A: Well, the thing in Laravel is that almost like Laravel itself, they've got like Laravel breeze and Laravel jet stream, which are sort of like official first party. When you use Laravel, for example, in rails, you got to use things like bullet train or jumpstart. You don't have to, by the way, but those take in all the separate third party gems. Like, okay, we're going to put in divides. We're going to maybe put in tailwind. We're going to maybe put in the pay gem for stripe. We're going to do this and that. And all those individual pieces are created and maintained by different, very separate third party entities, which is fine. They're super popular, so they're all well supported. [00:50:03] Speaker B: Right. [00:50:04] Speaker A: But in Laravel, it's like this crew of friends almost, and it just seems more officially bundled into the core thing. [00:50:15] Speaker B: Laravel crew man protect. Yeah, go to and you go to that. I like, forgot about all this stuff they have. Cashier and forge. [00:50:25] Speaker A: Exactly. Forge. And then Laracast too. What Jeffrey way has built, it's such an incredible resource. And that too is linked right from the homepage on And that's just to say that, look how integrated and readily available, whatever training material you ever need is right here. Whereas there are some fantastic training. I got a ton of value from Chris Oliver's over the years and a bunch of other resources and people in the rails world. But I don't seems especially the Laravel world. And just hearing you and so many other SaaS companies, it seems like more people are now defaulting to Laravel than they are defaulting to rails. And that's like a directional shift that I feel like it's worth. If my company is in the business of building products for SaaS companies, we should sort of pay attention to what's happening in the Laravel world. I feel absolutely cool, man. [00:51:31] Speaker B: I love it. So we're going to be away from the mic next week, but back the following. [00:51:36] Speaker A: Yes, sir. [00:51:37] Speaker B: Great weekend. I'll see you in Vegas. Whoever's there for shop talk. [00:51:41] Speaker A: Awesome. [00:51:42] Speaker B: And maybe microcont for. That's in a few weeks. [00:51:45] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:51:46] Speaker B: All right, folks, have a good weekend. Later.

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