September 6, 2023

Creating Success in Tech: Sean’s Journey from Small Tech Roles to Amazon with Sean Dubois (DF#113)

Creating Success in Tech: Sean’s Journey from Small Tech Roles to Amazon with Sean Dubois

From Small Tech To Big Tech

Join us for an inspiring episode of the Degree Free Podcast, where Sean Dubois shares his personal journey of finding tech success without a degree. He discusses how working at Amazon opened doors for him and made job interviews easier. Sean encourages listeners to prioritize personal growth and happiness over societal expectations.

Key Discussion Points:

- Sean and Ryan talk about programming and open-source projects, emphasizing the importance of solving problems you're passionate about and saying yes to opportunities.
- They discuss the benefits of open source projects, such as having control over your destiny and contributing to projects you care about. They also mention the challenges and rewards of creating your own projects.
- The importance of self-discovery and self-actualization in motivating oneself to work hard and succeed is discussed. They highlight the inner motivation to persevere through failures as being more important than specific programming languages or projects.
- Sean talks about finding a niche in the WebRTC space and the concept of doing things in public to create opportunities and connections. They also challenge the significance of job titles in the software industry.
- The conversation tackles the relationship between money and happiness, acknowledging that while money doesn't guarantee happiness, it can provide financial stability and freedom. Personal anecdotes about the impact of financial stability are shared.
- The episode ends with Sean explaining why he helps others, emphasizing paying it forward and the mutual benefit of helping motivated individuals. Ryan reflects on his own experiences and expresses a desire to do more.
- Sean advises that solving personal problems, finding self-confidence, and enjoying what you do can lead to career success and fulfillment.

Don't miss this enlightening episode of the Degree Free Podcast, where Sean Dubois and Ryan Maruyama share their experiences and insights on success, personal growth, and finding happiness. Tune in and be inspired!

Enjoy the episode!

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Links and Notes from the Episode

Episode Transcript
Please enjoy this transcript or our episode!

Please note the transcript may have a few errors. We're human. It can be hard to catch all the errors from a full length conversation. Enjoy!

Sean Dubois [00:00:00]:

It's so much easier to get an interview once you're at Amazon. So, like, when I was at Etsy, like, I think I've done, like, 6 phone interviews at Google to on sites. Never got it. when I when I finally got in an AWS, doors opened up for me like crazy. Like, I would go in to San Francisco to interview, and it was crazy. It was like the jobs all of a sudden became much easier. Like, before I was at Amazon, they would leet code me for a day and a half. And now that I'm at Amazon, I literally show up and they'll make small talk. And at the end, they'll be like, okay. Like, where do you see yourself? they'll they'll offer me a job. Like, the whole thing, it's illogical. It's subjective. Yeah. I'm I'm part of a system that frustrates me. Hello, folks, and

Ryan Maruyama [00:00:36]:

welcome back to degree free,

Ryan Maruyama [00:00:39]:

where we teach you how to get hired without a college degree. I'm your host Ryan Maruyama. Before we get into today's episode, if you would like to receive a short weekly email that has different degree free jobs, and how you can get hired without a college degree, then go over to degree free

Ryan Maruyama [00:00:57]:

dotcoforward/newsletter to sign

Ryan Maruyama [00:00:57]:

up for our free weekly newsletter. Now I am super excited to get into my conversation with Sean Du Bois, who is our guest today. Sean and I cover a lot of ground, and I am really excited for you to hear the conversation. Sean is a developer at Twitch and has been at companies such as AWS etsy and Apple. You can say hi to Sean at LinkedIn, and I will put links to everything that we talked about in the show notes at degreefreedot co forward slash podcast. Now I suggest that everybody listens to this episode even if you are not thinking about becoming a developer, just a little peek behind the and when we're doing these episodes at the very beginning, we jump on a call and we chitchat for a little bit, and then I start the recording. One of the things that I ask people is what would make this podcast a success for you? I asked this question because I don't pay these guests to come on here. They come on here because they want to spread the word about whatever they're doing. or just want to help people just like you get into jobs that they love and experience and get to success. Whatever that means in your life. And so normally that stuff is not even captured on the recording, but I recorded it a little bit early and we jump right into it. So I just wanted to give a little bit of backstory and some explanation to why we're just gonna jump right in as soon as this podcast starts. That's just a little bit of background. I just wanted to let you know that because we jump in and I didn't want you to be confused Like I said, even if you are not thinking about being a developer, there really is something in here for everyone. We get really, really deep in this episode. deeper than we normally get on this show. And I really like it. I enjoyed it, and I hope you do too. I would love your feedback on this episode if you could go to YouTube and comment on this episode and let us know if you liked it. Let me know if you didn't like it. Let me know if you just want me to stick to the normal quote unquote script, although we don't really script these things. And I really, really hope you enjoy this episode with Sean Du Bois.

Sean Dubois [00:03:12]:

The reason I don't have a degree was you know, I had personal issues. Like, I I feel like I I had, like, all this, like, angst when I was younger that prevented me from doing things. It's not just, like, that you don't have a degree, but there's all these factors that lead into it that I'd love to talk about because I think there's a lot of things that people go through that they don't feel comfortable talking about or people aren't honest about, you know, I just hope to be as as honest as possible, and it's not just about the degree, but, like, what your personal life is like and, like, are you happy? Are you accomplishing things you want? And I guess, like, the reasons I have the job that I had, you know, I I guess all those things, that would be my my goal. It's not it's it's not just about, like, oh, I made it without a degree, but, like, I feel like I'm I'm a happier person and I made up for some of the mistakes that caused me

Ryan Maruyama [00:03:56]:

troubles when I was younger. Yeah.

Sean Dubois [00:03:58]:

I would say that's it.

Ryan Maruyama [00:03:59]:

And I don't know if you would agree with this, but it's something that I've been thinking about a lot lately, which is probably why I'm bringing it up now, which is I think a lot about you know, this project or this company or whatever it is that we wanna call what what we do here. Just trying to boil it down to, like, what is this, and what is our message, and what do I really care about at the end of the day, and what do I want people to know at the crux of it all at the very center for you boil boil the degree away and the career and and all of that. Obviously, there's the success portion of it of whatever that means to you as we were talking about before. I think what we preach and I preach is a difficult word, but it's like intentional living. Right? It's it's just being intentional with your actions and

Ryan Maruyama [00:04:43]:

your goals and not going through life.

Ryan Maruyama [00:04:44]:

Like, life is just happening to you. I'm not trying to preach, really, because I just felt when I was You know, like a lot of our listeners, a lot of our listeners are not in tech or they're not working office jobs at all. They look a lot like me. Like, I did, like, I was 10 years ago, which is I was a bartender, and I didn't know what I wanted to do. And You know, I might be working a retail job or I might be a mechanic, something like that. And you're just thinking about, I want something different in my life, but I don't know how to get there. And I think that college could be not like I, but, like, you in that position who that that person, like, maybe college is the way to do that. And then what I'm hoping by creating all this content and doing what we do is that we're providing some sort of alternative. And I hate to use alternative, but I'm just using that in quotes to that narrative and trying to open up people's eyes and be like, you know, you can do it a different way. As long as you have your goal, of what you want in life, you can back engineer a way to get there.

Sean Dubois [00:05:58]:

Yeah. For me, the job and everything else, it was a side effect of I don't know when it clicked, but there was a couple things like that life isn't fair in good and bad ways. like, you'll stumble into success and you'll have hardships and some people have more hardships than others. and come to terms with, you just accomplish as much as you can, and you feel happy and proud of yourself for what you've accomplished. I'm trying to think about what I felt like when I was sixteen, and I remember being so frustrated that I wasn't good at any sports, that I wasn't good at a school. Like, that was just I was just very, like, unspectacular and everyone was dissatisfied with me. You know, like, school was dissatisfied. My my mom was dissatisfied with me. Like, nothing was ever good enough. And There's a certain thing. Like, it it clicked with me. Like, I stopped caring what other people thought, and it felt like my life took off after that. I became a happier person I don't think it matters like what job you do. And I feel like a lot of people I talk to that are stuck is because they're in this trap. they're trying to make everyone around them happy. And so they're like, okay. I'm gonna get a degree because that will make my parents proud, or I'm gonna go do this because I want other people to respect me. and I don't even want people to come away from this and be like, okay. The key to life is I'm not gonna go to a degree and I'm gonna hustle and I'm gonna figure this out and I'm gonna go, you know, get a tech job or something like that. Like, I I guess I wish I had figured that out sooner that I think I would have enjoyed school a lot more. I would have enjoyed, like, my, like, young adulthood more. But, eventually, it just clicked with me that, like, I'm just gonna do the best for myself.

Ryan Maruyama [00:07:35]:

That is amazing. I really, really resonate with that message especially that portion of living my life for somebody else. And maybe living my life for somebody else is a little bit dramatic, but I'll just say taking actions in my life that I thought other people would approve of. Maybe that's a little bit more accurate. For me and my life, It's my grandfather. I come from a very, very Japanese background. And so everybody in my in my family from you know, my dad's side, my my Japanese side, everybody's like, you're gonna go to college, you're gonna go deal with some sort of money, or you're gonna make a lot of money, and you're gonna be a success And that's what it's gonna be. No questions. No if answer butts after high school. I hated high school so much that I graduated in three and a half years. Like, I hated it. And I was just like, I'm gonna graduate in three and a half years, not because I'm bright, but because I can't stand it. But also, I knew because I wasn't living for myself, I had to go to college, so I wanted to speed that up even more. So I said, okay. Well, I'm gonna take extra classes, get out of there in three and a half years, and maybe in college, I could take extra classes and get out of that. And so I'm finally done living for somebody else or at least I can start living for me or I'd start making decisions that make me happy. And it wasn't until I'm not sure what what age you made that decision that you're just gonna make decisions for yourself to where you're gonna make your self happy and not your mom or your or your friends or your family. But for me, it wasn't until I was twenty four years old that I made that decision. I went to college I got a degree. I have a degree. I have a degree in economics, and the people that listen to this podcast know that. And the only reason I got a degree in economics is I wasn't smart enough, quote unquote, to get a degree in finance. And I got a job after that my family approved of. It was family approved, but I was miserable. I was absolutely miserable. I was basically a monkey with a headset, and I would sit and I would crunch numbers all day, every day. Thankless job. There was literally no windows in the building that I worked in, but my family was happy with that. And it wasn't until twenty four years old that I was just like, hey, I can't live my life and make these decisions. for you anymore, and I have to do that. So I really resonate with what you're saying. And I and I think that a lot of people that are listening to this will also resonate with that because I hear it every day from the people that listen to this and from from all the content that we make and people we talk to. So I would love to, you know, you're sixteen years old, and you're making these decisions for, you know, for your mom and for your family, what does it look like when you finally break those shackles? How old are you? What are what what's going through your head?

Sean Dubois [00:10:29]:

Yeah. So I was sixteen, and I guess some of this distinctive things I remember. So I felt like my whole life, you know, I loved computers growing up. I was, like, putting computers together, and I was, you know, downloading games and in no CD patches and stuff like that as a little kid just because I, you know, I wanted free games and stuff like that. And I didn't really, like, I never thought about being a programmer. I was just trying to, like, do things for my own hobby. And I was always told, like, oh, you're gonna be the next bill gates. You're gonna be a programmer blah blah blah. Like, I had my whole lot. Like, everyone told me what my life was going to be. and so I felt like that was what I was gonna be. And but at the same time, my family found me a disappointment because there was really nothing spectacular about me. I didn't have good grades. My mom put me in a lot of extracurriculars that would make me look good. So, like, piano and stuff like that. Like, I feel like a lot of my life, she was trying to make me into an impressive person for others. and it was, like, a lot of this stuff has only occurred to me as I become a parent, and I watched, like, my interactions with my kids. So I I grew up that way. 16 And when I was in high school, I took the AP computer programming. I got the worst grade on it possible. Like, I think the one is the best and I got a 5. And my teacher told me, like, I just don't think you're cut out for this. Like, you're not a programmer. And so then I kind of accepted that and I worked at a local tech company, and and I was, like, wiring computer labs and stuff like that. And then they gave me minimum wage job, like, building websites and stuff like that, and it kinda, like, built my self work back up. It clicked for me in the sense that, like, everyone wrote me off. And so then I was just kind of happy in this, like, empty bubble of, like, I was just, like, you know, doing open source projects online and, No one really cared. I was I didn't really exist to anyone, and it was really nice to be in that way. Like, that was really freeing that all of a sudden, like, all the all the eyes weren't on me anymore. kinda just, like, bumbled through, and I just kept getting better and better jobs. So, like, I went from there and, like, I was thinking, like, 8:15 an hour And then there was another company in Toledo that was gonna pay me $20 an hour to write COVID. Like, oh, that's really cool. And so I just kept, like, bumping between jobs then one day people start taking you seriously. I got a job at this company, Etsy, and I feel like they took a big risk on me. I was, like, a nobody that was, like, know, had these small jobs, and I had gone to this thing called hacker school that was the idea was you go and, like, you work on your personal projects and I kind of evaluate you. And it's like, writers retreats for programmers. And so I just, like, hung out with all these other people that were into programming for the sake of programming, and then they referred me out to a job. I think I would have been 23 or 24 as well. And the thing that was very strange for me that was impactful is after I got that job, I went out to dinner, and my parents gave me a certificate that said, like, we were wrong. You were right. and they had it, like, notarized and everything. It was like this funny joke to them, but it seems strange to me that I was considered, you know, an acceptable person now that I was making 6 figures. I think that job was, like, for 101,011,000. It was just like and this was this was in, like, the early 2010s, that was that was a lot of money to go from, like, you know, making $20 an hour to making 6 figures and, like, so it's weird. and, like, I think it was that moment that it clicked that I'm like, I don't care what people think about me anymore. Like, it was very, like, empty, like, that I make money, and now all of a sudden people see me as, like, a good person and all these hobbies and things I cared about that I identified about, no one ever cared about.

Ryan Maruyama [00:14:04]:

It's just interesting all those years later. I mean, or maybe too many years later that your parents, you know, they they said they gave you this notarized certificate You know, and I'm positive. I mean, I don't know your parents, and I don't know you at all, but I'm assuming that it was out of a place. I mean, yeah, sure. It was a joke. I don't think they were doing it to be mean. it doesn't seem like they were doing it to be mean at all. Right? But it was just really how they felt, and that's really interesting because with my grandfather for my own experience, it took a long time for him even though I told him at twenty four years old that I had to write him my letter. And and and I thought because I couldn't tell him face to face because he's not really he doesn't really understand it that way, so I had to do it where it's, like, one way communication. I'm gonna write this and you're gonna read it. And then whatever you think, we'll talk about it at some other time. We didn't talk about it for, like, 3 months after I wrote this letter, and I, like, bowled into this letter. Like, literally, I was, like, crying, like, writing it. I was like, oh my god. Like, I can't keep doing these things for you, like, or seemingly for you. And the thing is is, like, 3 months later, at the end of it, he sat down and he talked to me, and he had he printed out the letter. And, and he and he had it at the at our talk because I just said I wanna talk about it. And he would just like, I just want what's best for you. I thought that by applying this pressure, he didn't use these words. I'm summing it up. But by applying this pressure, I was doing you good, and I don't apologize for it because I'm your grandfather and you are my grandson. And I was I was like, okay. You know what I mean? Like, I might have I might I might I don't want an apology. I just thought it was an interesting just thought that that was an interesting thing.

Sean Dubois [00:15:54]:

Yeah. It's that's a lot to process because it's like, did he not want to apologize because he really didn't think it'd do anything wrong. Did he want to apologize because he knew he did something wrong, but he was, like, ashamed and he didn't wanna admit wrongdoing. Like, there's a lot of layers there. Yeah. I I think What I've found is that parents hold their children to an unreasonable standard, and they hold them to a standard that they don't hold themselves. it's insane to me that parents will wax poetic about, like, no screen time and no iPads and whatnot while we're constantly glued to our phones. as parents, like, all the things we failed at, we try to go fix in our children. And my hope is that I just accept my kids for whoever they are. and none of this really matters. Like, that's that's the other thing. It's like, you know, we're all tied to these dollars and cents and social hierarchy and stuff like that. Like, in a moment, it could all go away. This complicated financial system could collapse. You know, everyone was amazed when the USSR fell. Like, everyone, everyone's always amazed when these big events happen. Like, none of this really matters. and it's sad that we put so much pressure on our kids to fit into these systems that could disappear in a heartbeat. Like, why were you raked over the coals for 10 years to fit into all of these things didn't really matter anyway.

Ryan Maruyama [00:17:07]:

I I I completely agree with you for 1. I wanna ask because we have 2 different audiences that listen to this. Right? We have a we have a bunch of people that listen to it, but just generally speaking, we have, a little bit of the older more seasoned professionals that listen to this who might have kids that are in the you know, 12 to 18 range. And then there are people that have kids that are really young. They're thinking about this stuff now for themselves, like, as parents, And then we also have pretty young people listening to this, you know, in the 18 to 20 range that are just like, this is me. Like, what you guys are talking with your own experience. I'm going through that right now. I'm wondering from the child's perspective, how can we help people, or what would you tell people that that feel like they're doing that? Because I get messages every day without just saying the same thing that I feel the pressure from my parents to go to college, the pressure from my school, from my friends. All my friends are going to college, but I don't wanna go I see that it's, you know, a waste of money or whatever. You know, there's a bunch of reasons that I can do it better. Whatever. I just don't wanna go how do I tell people that I'm

Ryan Maruyama [00:18:21]:

not gonna do what they want me to do?

Ryan Maruyama [00:18:22]:

I think you perceive everyone's life as better than your

Sean Dubois [00:18:30]:

own. Everyone loves to give unsolicited marriage advice, but then you find out that their marriages are a mess, actually. You find out after they get divorced or after one of them passes away. And it's like, like, why did I listen in the first place? And it's the same with the life advice. Like, people are going to jobs they hate, and then they tell you. Like, this is how you should do this, and this is how you should do that. Like, no one has it figured out. And I think the truth is is you can't look to anyone for advice no one really has it figured out. Just find what feels right to you and just keep iterating on that. Just keep doing that every day. And who knows? Like, you when you reached the end of your life, that's it. And, hopefully, you did what felt best to you. because you also don't know what the end of your life is gonna be. Like, you know, like, there's nothing to say that you won't get cancer in your fifties, and that's it. And, like, don't be like, okay. Like, I'm gonna listen to other people's advice, and I'll bust my butt. And then, like, I'll retire someday, like, because there might not be retirement the same way. Just don't I don't know. Don't listen to other people. She was fine. I'm not here giving advice my advice is don't listen to me. Like, I don't have it figured out. I can tell you about the things that hurt me or the things that I went through or the realizations I went through, but I really don't have figured out. So don't don't listen to me and be like, okay. This is when I'm gonna base my life around because, like, we're all very broken people and those that say they aren't are doing it because they're selling you something. Like, that's that's the other thing is, like, everyone that, like, it tells you, like, I've got it figured out. Take cold showers and, like, you know, do this and, like, you'll be a man. Like, no. Like, they're very broken people. They probably go home and they're they have an unhappy marriage and, like, they, like, feel regret that they weren't closer with their kids. Like, don't listen to any of them. Like, it's all it's all just people trying to sell you stuff. Amazing.

Ryan Maruyama [00:20:04]:

And I really, really

Ryan Maruyama [00:20:08]:

subscribe to that. I really feel that because I feel the same way. I don't think I've said it too often on this podcast or I I know that I said it a lot more at the beginning, but It's just like, who am I to sit behind this mic and build this audience, the people that are listening to this, and who make this show possible, really? But who am I? to to do this? What makes me qualified to do this? And really nothing. Right? Like, I'm I'm just as unqualified as any other person out there to talk about these issues or these things. And so, yeah, I I totally feel that. That being said, you know, everybody has their opinion And what I have found after doing

Ryan Maruyama [00:20:46]:

this for a while, you know, we've been at it for over 2 years now, is

Ryan Maruyama [00:20:53]:

that You know, we just do our best. The reason why we have people like you on is so we're not just preaching at people. Right? And so we can have people on that that'd be like, this is how I did it. Like, this is not how to do it. Right? Like, this is how I did it. I don't know if that's correct or not, maybe follow this path, but I did it 10 years ago. I did it 20 years ago. Maybe it's different now. I'm not sure, but But by having you on and people like you on people that are listening to this, the audience, the the listeners, they can you know, hopefully, glean just a one little nugget. My my goal is that in 90 minutes of of our podcast is that's how long we schedule these things for. Usually, they're about an hour. Is that in this hour of actual content that you're listening to that you're gonna come out with one nugget? Just one little thing that you can take away and put into your life. If you walk away with one of those things, if you hear something that I say or something that Sean says, in this 1 hour, I feel like we did our jobs.

Sean Dubois [00:21:56]:

I understand. It's cathartic hearing you talk about your life experiences. because a lot of people, they'll get up and they'll just it's all a show. But, you know, if you're willing to talk about your grandfather and other stuff like that, like, It's cathartic. I'm sure other people are going through experiences, and they just it helps them work through their own and, like, process them on their own.

Ryan Maruyama [00:22:15]:


Sean Dubois [00:22:15]:

I I don't know. I got shared experiences work for me because a lot of people like to go to to talk therapy, but for some reason, it doesn't work for me. Like, I enjoy having conversations with people, but I don't enjoy unloading my problems on people is what it feels like to me. So, like, this is, for me, like, listening to people talk or, like, watching movies about people like go through their struggles. It, like, helps you think differently about yours.

Ryan Maruyama [00:22:41]:

Yeah. Definitely. And I would love to talk about, you know, how you basically got to where you are today. as a developer, as a programmer, as a whatever it is that you consider yourself. And I explicitly with you would love to get into, you know, programmers, developers, software engineers. I would definitely love to get into there. before we go down that rabbit hole, which I have a lot to ask you. I get into a lot of internet arguments with people over it. I would love to talk about you know, you took this AP course in computer science. You got the worst grade possible, or at least on the test, rather. You got

Ryan Maruyama [00:23:23]:


Ryan Maruyama [00:23:23]:

worst, AP test grade possible. And here you are, you're doing open source projects. and you are still building your computer science

Ryan Maruyama [00:23:33]:

and your programming background, you break into your

Sean Dubois [00:23:33]:


Ryan Maruyama [00:23:33]:

an hour job, your 20 an hour job. When you find got to Etsy and you're making this

Sean Dubois [00:23:43]:


Ryan Maruyama [00:23:45]:

You're making this 6 figure paycheck. How did you start programming. How did you start and how do other people start?

Sean Dubois [00:23:54]:

I think the best way to start is to solve a problem that you're passionate about. For me, like, doing DIY projects, I get kind of the same energy that I get from programming projects. So, like, if if you if I went over to someone's else's house and they're like, oh, my electric was acting up, you're not as motivated, but if it's your own house, you'll sit at all hours of the night, and you'll be testing things. You'll be ripping stuff out of the wall, and eventually you figure it out. And for me, that's the my same attitude with programming. Like, I was solving problems I cared about, and so I was motivated to work on it at all hours of the night. And I don't think it's any different than Like, programming to me feels the same as doing electrical work in my house, which I'm I'm terrible at, but I I'm starting to enjoy it more and more. And then for programming, I just said yes to every problem that came my way if there was money or not because I just I wanted to please people. I took the next job because, you know, there was a new person to make happy. There was a new problem to solve. And if you make yourself invaluable to people, like, you'll end up being financially rewarded. I think that was good. And the other thing that I got better at was talking and selling myself. Like, when I started down this path, I don't think I could have had more than a 10 minute conversation with someone on a podcast like this. but as you do it more and more, you get better at selling yourself. You get better at telling your story. And I feel like a lot of my job interviews go this way as well. Like, I'm just you try to explain who you are to someone and, like, if they're convinced, oh, I would like to work with this person. And then the next thing is, like, how much am I willing to pay to work this person. If you convince people that you're valuable, you'll just continue to make more and more money.

Ryan Maruyama [00:25:35]:

Yeah. Definitely. Definitely. When you were first starting out, I was excited to talk to you because of your experience in open source projects. And one of the things when you are confronted with learning the skill set of being a programmer, being a developer, you're, like, do I choose which languages to learn which projects to create? And so you're like, do I go the open source route? Do I just contribute to an open source project? Push code there? Do I just create an entirely different project here using open source things. How could you go through that decision making process with open source? What are the benefits of the open source? And then what are the cons?

Sean Dubois [00:26:20]:

So for open source, the nice thing about it is, like, no one else controls your destiny there's a lot of open source projects that I've contributed. So you can go look at my GitHub, and I've been contributing to open source projects probably since, like, 2011. And I just did, like, a lot of, like, small contributions here and there, and they were really, really hard. It was really, really hard to get it in my first it would be, like, just, like, one line. I was trying to change, like, some text in the program and the maintainer would respond and be like, oh, that you're doing completely wrong way and they would get rejected. And as time goes on, it gets easier and easier. It's better to build a project of your own because you're more motivated and you control everything. Like, it's very hard to be successful and build something. If you're always asking someone else like, oh, is this okay? Can I merge this? Can I do that? And it's also hard to get, like, the reward for yourself. Like, if you contribute to someone else's open source project, it's always gonna be their open source project. Like, no matter how much you do, it'll always be, like, someone else will be the hero of the story. With my open source high on, like, I always try to create little sandboxes for everyone that contributes. So it's, like, their thing. So, like, I try to split it up in the little repos and give people, like, things they own just to make it as good as I don't think the programming language matters. Whatever you're most passionate about. So for me, I always really wanted to do stuff and see. because I viewed it as, like, a real programmer's language. Like, when I was learning, I started with PHP and JavaScript people are like, oh, you're just a web dev. You don't really know what you're talking about. You have to write something and see, and then I'll take you seriously. And so, like, I had this weird emotional fixation. I'm like, I'm gonna be a C programmer. And so I picked out projects. So, like, that worked for me because I was willing to work nights weekends because it was making me feel better about self. So you just have to figure out, like, what motivates you the most. And I think that takes some, like, self discovery and self actualization to figure out, like, how can I convince myself, you know, we're lazy, irrational bags of meat. How can I get this person to do as much as possible? And you have to, like, what you have to figure out. So I don't think the programming languages matter. Like, the project matter, none of it matters. It's like, how can you convince yourself to work long hours on things and many times it will fail. And then randomly, you will have a success because I've done a a handful of open source projects now. and the one that succeeded, I didn't expect. Like, I wanted to, but, like, I I have no idea that it was gonna succeed. And, like, in the big scheme of things, it's not even that successful. Like, if you look at the other things out there, it's like it's it's a drop in the ocean. Yeah. That's that was that's like the core of the idea. Just figure out how to motivate yourself.

Ryan Maruyama [00:29:05]:

Can we talk about the programming languages that you were talking about with JavaScript and PHP and why it's bad to be concerned. You know, I'm using bad in air quotes. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, it's bad to be a web dev and then what sea is and why only real programmers learn c. Can we just hash that up for the listeners a little bit?

Sean Dubois [00:29:26]:

Yeah. Yeah. You have languages like PHP or Python. that are higher level languages. The idea is that, like, they let you write code faster. They're easier to build things with. but they're costlier for the computer. The computer has to do more work so the programmer does less work. So I can build a website, but it becomes expensive to run that. And so I think programmers in the south, like, it's no different than any other thing where, like, Real programmers will use these harder languages. Even if there's no value in it, people will go right and see and see plus just to prove themselves. I think, like, a good parallel is if if you go to the gym, like, a lot of people will say, like, oh, man, if you're for the real deal, you'll only you'll squat and you'll deadlift. and, like, don't, you know, anything else. Like, you're you're just taking it easy on yourself, but it's like, what are your goals? Like, do you care about, you know, going to a powerlifting meet? Because if you don't, like, why, like, do you just wanna look good, then, like, cut some weight and, you know, hit some dumbbells, I guess. Like, it's all just like what your goals are in life. And so a lot of people will drill into, like, You have to squat. You have to squat. Or you have to right see. You have to right see if you wanna be a real programmer or, like, a real lifter, kind of that same parallel. And, like, this These are all things that were going in my head when I'm 18. Like, now I care less about what other people think. But, yeah, so, like, I started with these languages because that's what, like, my employers want like, they wanted websites. They wanna do other things, but, like, no one's asking for, like, c, which is for lower level, high performance things, but there's just less demand for it. which I guess also lends to the mystique of it.

Ryan Maruyama [00:30:57]:

Excellent. Excellent. Thank you very much. I would love to switch gears here. and talk about your job titles. Okay. So this is from your LinkedIn if you go to your LinkedIn I'm not sure if you're gonna share your LinkedIn with us at

Ryan Maruyama [00:31:15]:

the end. Go ahead. Yeah.

Ryan Maruyama [00:31:16]:

Perfect. Okay. So, excellent, I will put LinkedIn to Sean's LinkedIn and everything we talked about, really, at our show notes degreefree.co4/ podcast for everybody listening. If you go to Sean's LinkedIn, one

Ryan Maruyama [00:31:29]:

of the things you'll notice in the experience category is that you have the exact same job

Ryan Maruyama [00:31:36]:

title for every single job that you've had that's on there. And we usually, at the beginning of these things, but we kinda jumped right into it, we usually go over your background and we kinda go over the quote unquote pedigree and everything. So I'll I'll sum it up real quick for the listeners here, at least from the LinkedIn, you know, You've worked at Etsy. We've talked about that. You went on to AWS. Eventually, you did your Pion. Right? Pion Lee?

Ryan Maruyama [00:32:03]:


Ryan Maruyama [00:32:03]:

Yep. You've been at Apple, and now you're at Twitch. So I don't know. For those listening that are thinking, is this kinda legit? Like, definitely for sure. But every single job title says developer. Why is that?

Sean Dubois [00:32:16]:

Yeah. So I've had a bunch of different titles, some very elevated, some not so much somewhat of a negotiation tactic. So if I'm vague about it, when I go to apply for another job, they're not able to peg me level because, like, one of the problems you have as a developer is when you go an interview, they try to fit you into a slot as what your level is. Like, are you an L5, L6? Are you senior principle. And if I'm purposely vague about it, it's easier to uplevel. The other thing is that I disrespect people that if you go to your LinkedIn, and you're obviously, like, very showy about your titles. You're like, I'm a senior principal of architecture. I'm like, the odds are that that person's full of shit, and they're not even, like, doing much anyway. I'm just like, I don't care. And on top of that, it's kind of like, I kind of can't stand this, like, corporate praise that, like, my entire identity is, like, tied to the fact that I worked at Apple. I'm so much more than that. And, like, I hope that when I leave Apple, or leave Amazon, do I all of a sudden become nothing just because, like, I'm not at those places anymore. So, like, I'm proud to be associated with eye on, but I hope that, like, the entire essence of my being isn't my employment at, like, FANG companies. And then the other part of it is that I had so much resentment when I was breaking into the industry. Like, it's so much easier to get an interview once you're at Amazon. So, like, when I when I was at FC, like, I think I've done, like, 6 phone interviews at Google to on sites. Never got it. When I when I finally got in an AWS, doors opened up for me like crazy. Like, I would go in to San Francisco to interview, and it was crazy. It was like the jobs all of a sudden became so much easier. Like, before I was at Amazon, They would leak code me for a day and a half. And now that I'm at Amazon, I literally show up and they'll make small talk. And at the end, they'll be like, okay. Like, where do you see yourself? And they'll they'll offer me a job. Like, the whole thing it's illogical. It's subjective. Yeah. I'm I'm part of a system that frustrates me. And so you'll see, like, things like that, like, development development developer. It's like, I love what I do. I love that I build things that people use that, you know, if you, like, use FaceTime or you use Twitch that you're you know, you do video streaming on the web. You're probably using code. I've touched. That brings me so much joy. But the fact that I have fit into this corporate system that feels so frustrating. I'm not so happy with. So, yeah, there's there's but, yeah, let's talk more about titles. I I know people find that really interesting and

Ryan Maruyama [00:34:39]:

you use a term there. You said leak code or is it LEAP code?

Sean Dubois [00:34:43]:

Oh, leak code.

Ryan Maruyama [00:34:44]:

What what what does that mean?

Sean Dubois [00:34:45]:

So leak code is like a testing service where you'll go in and they'll have these pre prepared, like, brain teasers. And so you'll go in and you'll be asked, like, a leak code medium or a leak code hard and it's basically just like a drill for programmers. And you're supposed to go in and you're supposed to make out the patterns real quickly. I mean, they're usually, like, trick questions kind of deal. And, like, it proves that you're a good programmer because you're able to stop the trick. It's a long conversation about, like, are are these leak code questions actually reflection of

Ryan Maruyama [00:35:13]:

a programmer's quality or not?

Ryan Maruyama [00:35:15]:

Got it. Got it. Absolutely. Absolutely. So I definitely want to talk about you know, getting into a fan company because that's what everybody wants. Right? Like, I mean, you know it. You're you're working at fan companies. I'm sure you talk to people all the time that that wanna work at fan companies.

Sean Dubois [00:35:32]:

I I desperately wanted it. It was my entire existence for years. So Google was the one I wanted desperately. Like, this it was a different time. Like, Google was the place to be in the early 2020 tens when I was, like, interviewing and, like, I tried so much and, like, I can still remember where I was I was walking my dog outside when I got my rejection call after my on-site. Like, it meant everything to me. So I don't blame people listening to this that it's still there. Everything, because I was right there. Like, I know how it feels. But, yeah, let's wanna be frank about this stuff.

Ryan Maruyama [00:36:01]:

When you were at Etsy, was it easy to make the leap to Amazon? But prior to Etsy, it was really not that great. Right? I mean, you're title or the job that you had. And then you made it to Etsy seemingly, from an outsider's perspective, and I'm just from my perspective, I'm like, oh, Etsy. That's a big company. Maybe it's like not the biggest of companies, but that's still a big company. So my thought is that Well, maybe it would be easier to get into a fan company, but you're saying that it that it wasn't.

Sean Dubois [00:36:31]:

I got into Amazon because I was hired into a business unit that wasn't as competitive. Programers are always looking for jobs that make them look better. So, like, if, like, right now, you wanna go work on something that's AI because that's good for your career. I got hired to work on Amazon's silk browser, which people weren't fighting to go work on. Like, people weren't piling on. So, like, my boss at the time hit just random LinkedIn reached out and said, like, hey. Do you wanna come work on this? And, like, I was just, like, so grateful. Like, I was so excited. This is finally my opportunity. So, like, I got into a business unit that was not competitive. So, like, the stars kind of align for me on that.

Ryan Maruyama [00:37:07]:

That's amazing because You know, just going to where there's a less competition, getting your foot in the door as the hold cliche says, And now that you're at Amazon, right, it just becomes that much easier for you to get calls or for people to take calls from you.

Sean Dubois [00:37:28]:

And it's overnight. It's, like, I cannot I remember just, like, my LinkedIn overnight, all of a sudden, you know, the second I put AWS on my LinkedIn, people just started sending messages on It was the weirdest thing ever. Also, I had no understanding that silk wasn't a competitive area to be in. Like, there's no way you can know that from the outside. if you go to Amazon jobs page, there's no way you can look at a job listing and be like, okay. Well, I like this manager. Is it a competitive business unit? And then there's all these other things I didn't appreciate. So, Silk wasn't a competitive business unit to be a programmer in, but it was one of the happiest places I've ever worked, like my boss, was very honest with me. He was, like, very accomplished at people management and not in a, like, sociopathic way where he knew how to, like, whip like, he was just, like, a very caring person, but also make sure that we got things done. And he had any pushback on, like, his bosses all the time. then I went other places that were super competitive and everyone wanted to be at, and those places were not fun to be at because everyone was, like, tearing at each other. They wanted to get promoted Yeah. There's a lot of things in, like, saying, like, we can talk about, like, the whole promo doc culture and all the things that go into it.

Ryan Maruyama [00:38:38]:

I would love to go wherever you would like to go. See, yeah, if if we could talk about that because we don't think we've ever talked about that before.

Sean Dubois [00:38:45]:

Yeah. So, like, when you work at a small company, It's very apparent. Like, are you actually, like, important to the company? So, like, when I worked at a small company in Chicago called web checkout, would, like, work directly with customers. It'll be obvious. So Sean worked on this project this quarter and, like, that, like, directly influence the business and people used it. But when you go to a big company, like, your assigned tickets and you can't know, like, oh, did Amazon stock price go up because of what I did? Like, it obviously didn't have nothing to do with you. And so what you're always doing is you're hunting for projects that make you look better because every 6 months, you compile a list basically a bullet point list of, like, here's all the reasons that I'm a good programmer and I deserve to be promoted. Because if you can send that list on, you can, you know, you can make $50,000 more. And the other thing is if a lot of companies have, like, an up and out or stack range. So, like, the bottom 10% fired because the idea is, like, we wanna get rid of the bad people and we wanna bring in new people. So if if you're not getting promoted, you're putting yourself at risk to get fired. A lot of people make the joke rest and best. Like, they'll just take a job and they'll just hang out and, like, they'll wait for their next, you know, stock options to come in. So, yeah, there's, like, a lot of, like, mind games and other things you need to be aware of that happen.

Ryan Maruyama [00:39:56]:

how did you go from getting your foot in the door working on the silk browser to working at Apple. Now you're working at Twitch on WebRTC. How did you make the switch between silk to WebRTC?

Sean Dubois [00:40:13]:

So the company before I had worked on WebRTC at Infinishing, and I I really love the space, and there was a bunch of potential there. Like, people wanted this software. And so I just did it to make people happy. Like, it felt so good to get on slack and have people be like, I want this bug fix I want this feature. Like, I'm building a company and I'm depending on this. You know, it felt like being the most popular person at school. It's when the people everyone wants to talk to you. And so, like, you're just incentivized to keep building this thing and making it better. It just feels same as with any it's like working on your house or working on your car or or, like, working on your body. Like, it's just like you're building this thing and you're making it better and I don't think about it any more than that. I'm just like, I'm building this thing. So I started building this thing, and that's where the next jobs came out of is, like, this open source project. So, like, people would ask me to come and give talks on it. Company started using it, and so they would offer me jobs, but it was completely random that, like, this project worked out. Like, COVID happened, so WebRTC became much more important. So that's, like, I was at silk, but then was this combination of being an Amazon and having a popular open source project that happened at once that made things go much better for me.

Ryan Maruyama [00:41:25]:

for those listening and for myself, what does Python do?

Sean Dubois [00:41:28]:

So WebRTC is this technology that lets 2 computers connect to each other and exchange audio and video. So, like, we're using WebRTC right now. It's even got bigger. So, like, originally, it was conferencing, but now it's expanded into other spaces. Like, if you use security cameras, or, like, game streaming like Stadia use WebRTC or if you use robots, like, all of these things, it's all about, like, connecting 2 devices and then in real time sending audio and video together. and I made an implementation of WebRTC that was more generic like, a lot of WebRTC implementations were designed to solve a singular problem. I went and I was just like, I had people that were under served, like, companies that were building things that, like, existing WebRTC software wasn't working for them. And so, like, I just I found a niche in the WebRTC space.

Ryan Maruyama [00:42:18]:

One of the things that we talk about a lot here is doing things in public, whether it is for people that are not technical, And if you wanted to, it could be, like, just making content here. Right? And just doing things out in public, having some sort of project. A lot of people, if you don't know what that means, you could think of it like a side hustle, but I hate to use that word, like that side hustle culture side hustle culture. You don't have to, like, even think or even know where or how you're gonna monetize it. There doesn't even need to be a monetization plan behind it. But if you're doing things out in public like how you did with, your WebRTC with Python, right, then eventually, things are gonna happen for you and things, you know, like, for example, for me, you and I would have never been connected if I didn't do this podcast. Right? And if I didn't have this thing where I'm literally out in public with it, I'm saying, this is what I do. I highlight people that are successful that don't have degrees. Right? And we're and, hopefully, we can tell your life story and people can learn from it. if I didn't have that, I would have no reason for us to ever come together. And that's one of the things that we try to get at here is regardless of what industry you're trying to get into or what you're trying to break into doing things in public is almost like a cheat code or a shortcut to life.

Sean Dubois [00:43:52]:

and do it for the betterment of your own life because I did pay on. I went out to London. It was something I I never thought I would go to your my entire life. And then I I went and gave this talk, and I went to, like, old churches, just all these cool things that I never thought I would do. So with play on, I don't make a single cent. Like, it's a it's code I put out on the internet for free that anyone can use. But it was all these random side effects that ended up enriching my life so much. I would say that go out and do things for other people because it will bring you financial return, but, b, like, all of a sudden, you'll wake up and you're Holy crap. My life is so much better. because if I hadn't done that, I probably would have spent a lot of time just sitting at home playing video games and wasting and, you know, like, wasting my life, not wasting my life, but, like, things that don't mean as much to me. So it's, like, you have one life to live when I gotta do interesting things. Like, if the choice is like, okay, I'll go do a side hustle and maybe I'll lose some money on it, but I had all these great experiences compared to, like, oh, I didn't do a side hustle, but I sat at home, and I wasn't happy anyway. Like, what's there to lose?

Ryan Maruyama [00:44:55]:

I would love to go back talking about the job titles a little bit. And one of the biggest things that we hear, whatever we have, develop software engineer, whatever it is that we wanna call your title or you know, whatever it is. One of the biggest comments is that, oh, you can't be a software engineer without a college degree. You're a coder. or you're just a programmer. I would love to get your take on 1, the definition between all of these different titles. you know, and I think that you're the perfect man to ask for this. And so I'd love to get your opinion on what are the different titles coders, programmers, developers, software engineers, architects, whatever. And then what makes you these things?

Sean Dubois [00:45:46]:

So what is the goal of all of this? It's like, why do you sit down? You're a programmer, develop whatever because if you're doing a career, it's because you wanna make as much money as possible. And then or you write code because you wanna build something interesting. And the other thing is that I don't think people realize from the outside that software programmers like this industry, it's as competitive toxic masculinity, a bunch of posturing as any other career. So a lot of these things like architect engineer, programmer, All of that is just games people are playing to make themselves look better because everyone is terribly afraid. They wanna make more money They're afraid they're gonna lose their job. They're trying to posture us to the next level. So, like, a lot of these mind games and labels, I think, come from that where people are trying to do that. and then to the comment that, oh, you'll never be an architect because you never went to college who cares. Like, it doesn't it's, like, it doesn't matter. Like, if played the game that you wanna compete on, like, I think there are people that went to way more school than me, and I'm sure at one point thought they were better than me, and now I make more money than them. Does that mean I won? Does that mean I'm better than them? And, like, what game are you trying to play here? Like, what are you optimizing like, your personal happiness. Like, you're trying to financially independent retire early. I don't I don't know. It's it's a very confusing thing, and everyone's making There's no central board that's that certifies, like, Sean's officially a programmer because, like, he's written this many lines of code. It's like a very new green field that's all made up and people are making shit so they can make as much money as possible.

Ryan Maruyama [00:47:23]:

I I agree with you. A

Sean Dubois [00:47:26]:


Ryan Maruyama [00:47:27]:

One of the things that I think about when you're talking about this about, like, it just doesn't matter is if you do things in your life. Like, you do awesome things. You do amazing things. You go out and then you talk about the things that you did. You're not saying, like, This is how to become a software developer. This is how to do it, and you are a bartender at a restaurant. Right? Like, if you're doing those 2 things, then, you know, you're full of shit. But if you go in, you become 1, and then you talk about it, and then somebody says, like, you're not a software engineer. You'll never be 1. Well, you'll never feel that insecurity or not never feel that insecurity, but you won't have as much insecurity because you all have known, like, Dude, I do it every single day. Like, that's all I do. It says it on my paycheck that I that that I'm a software engineer.

Sean Dubois [00:48:18]:

And I think What helps me is I had nothing. Like, I was like a, you know, I was a a terrible programmer that no one took seriously. and I can go back to that and still be okay. But I remember, like, you know, the choice of programming languages, the choice in jobs, the desperation to get into certain things, like, it's such a fragile time that you wanna prove yourself. You know, you wanna, like, meet someone and you wanna tell them, like, I have this impressive job so that they'll date you. and then you wanna make your parents happy. And, like, I really empathize with people that are in that situation that they care about these things, and I hope that they can find that peace and that self worth but I also think that this whole system is made up to keep you as unhappy as possible because you'll keep buying. You'll keep consuming you'll keep being unhappy. And then, like, eventually, you'll find peace and you'll realize it was all just a game and, like, well, none of it, man. You'll find out what matters to you eventually. I hope. I'm sure in 10 years, I'll look back and be like, man, I was such a kid, but I I feel happier now than I've definitely felt 10 years ago.

Ryan Maruyama [00:49:19]:

You know, it's an interesting thing. with the system set up to keep us unhappy. One of the things that you hear from people that are rich that do interviews and that make content. The number one thing that they say is that money doesn't buy happiness or you're not gonna be happy if you get all of this money. The problem with that is that you're hearing it from somebody that has money. Right? So, obviously, they shouldn't know. Right? Like, so there's a couple of things there. One is that they probably know what they're talking about. But you know what I mean? Like, the this is a billionaire or this is a multimillionaire or this is somebody who has all of their baseline needs taken care of, and they have excess money every month they have more money and income than they spend. Right? And they are telling you that it doesn't buy happiness and that you should find your happiness and your fulfillment in something else that isn't money. The problem is that it's easy to say that when you have money. I've thought about this a lot because I remember not that I have a lot of money, but I am in that category of I spend less than what I make. I've been very fortunate that I've been in that category pretty much since I was sixteen years old because I'm I was pretty good. at at saving money and things like that, personal finance, but I digress. But I think back to when times were hard, And I remember my my now wife, she was my girlfriend, Hannah, at the time, we were living together, and we were in the canned vegetable aisle because we couldn't afford vegetable And we were making a decision between canned tomatoes. And we were doing the unit economics of canned tomatoes, not because we were cheap, but because it mattered. We had to pick which one was cheaper because it mattered to us. And if you

Ryan Maruyama [00:51:11]:

had told me that money

Ryan Maruyama [00:51:14]:

didn't matter or money doesn't buy happiness at that time, I would have told you to shove it up your ass. And so where is that balance? And I I'm not sure that you have the answer to it. It was just maybe it's a rhetorical question, I'd love to have your take on it.

Sean Dubois [00:51:26]:

So another thing that a lot of these people that say money doesn't matter is because they grew up with parents who had money, and they never had to really struggle in their life either. You know, it's like we hear these inspiring stories of like, oh, I started my small business and blah blah blah. No. I'm I made Microsoft. And I'm like, Well, your your mom was on the board of IBM and your dad was, like, a very, like, important lawyer, you know, like, this bill gates stories and whatnot. Yeah. It's it's all just made up for self promotion. Like, I wonder if people that get on podcasts and say, like, money doesn't matter. If they have such terrible self esteem and self worth that they're getting up there and they're telling people lies, because they hope that, like, it makes them look better and that will, like, fix whatever deficiency they have that they they need to get up and lie. But no money does money does matter. Like, there's no better feeling that now when my wife wants nice things, I can just buy them on the whim. The other one that I remember was being able to eat out whenever you want. That was another huge one for me. It's like now, like, it used to be, like, I would only eat out at the end of the month when I knew I had, like, a surplus and I'd be like, oh, like, we're gonna go to Granite City. Like, woo hoo. You know, it's like, but now it's like, if it's a Thursday night and I'm just like, I don't feel like eat anything in the fridge. I'll just order DoorDash. I mean, that that that is such a different experience. Like, I can't tell you how freeing that is to just not have to worry about these things anymore. Or when things break in your house to not have to budget ahead of time and be like, oh, shit. Like, that water heater's gonna go that I can just be like, okay. I'm gonna call a plumber. We're gonna get them in and fix this thing. Like, if the people that tell you that money doesn't matter, they've never, like, experienced what, like, and I I don't even have margin. Like, I look, like, literally, it's just the average American experience that I'm describing.

Ryan Maruyama [00:53:12]:

And I think if they did experience those things, it was so long ago that they're disconnected from it.

Sean Dubois [00:53:19]:

How can we talk how can we talk about though. Like, we remember, like, I, like, I I think these people are they're either sociopaths and they're so disconnected from people, or they're just flat out lying to manipulate us. Like, it doesn't make any sense to me. How people can get and say that?

Ryan Maruyama [00:53:32]:

It's a conversation that I'm very passionate about and Hannah and I think a lot about because you know, if we're fortunate enough, our income will will will keep going. I'm not super worried about it. I think that it will, and I think that know, as long as we keep working and doing doing the hard work that we're doing now and keep that up into the future, it's all good things are gonna are gonna come. We provide more value to people. You know, we put out more episodes and you know, all the all this good stuff. But we talk about it because we don't ever want to lose sight of it. I I never wanna be one of those people that that say that. I've said that on this podcast before, but my grandmother had a beautiful saying that I love. And I and I really feel now, but now she's been saying it since I'm really little. And she was just like, you know, money doesn't buy happiness, but it sure helps. The simplicity of that statement, I didn't understand it until maybe, like, a decade ago. And then I was like, I don't know what that means. And then you're like, okay. Well, exactly what you're saying. Right? When you get to a certain level and you don't have to be that rich to get to that level, truly maybe just a middle class American where exactly what you're saying your car breaks or your water heater goes out. It's a hot Texas summer. and your car AC goes out, just knowing that whatever it costs to get fixed, you can throw it on the credit card, and it will be paid in full by the next statement. Right? And worrying about which credit card you're going to put it on so that you can maximize the amount of points that you're gonna get rather than holy crap I don't have a single penny to my name. I don't know how I'm gonna pay for it. You know, I think in the essence that, you know, that's what she meant, right, is that you still have problems. You still have to think about, okay, which which of these cards am I gonna put on to maximize my points? And that's still a problem. albeit a much more welcome problem than having 2¢ in your bank account. But and so it doesn't have buy happiness, but, you know, it it just changes your problems and it helps.

Sean Dubois [00:55:36]:

mean, the the real joy is, like, when you stop even worrying about points and you're like, I don't even have to gamify this anymore. I just, like, I go about my day and I do my hobbies and my things that I find in seeing and I hang out with my family and and that's it. Like, I I I think we just all we all wanna reach that same point and then somewhere along the way, we're told that, oh, nicer things will make us happier or other thing.

Ryan Maruyama [00:55:58]:

I don't know. I don't know where it all goes wrong.

Ryan Maruyama [00:56:00]:

I don't wanna take up all of your day, but I would like to transition into the way that we got connected was through Garrett Graves for everybody listening, Garrett. He was on the podcast. I will link his show in the show notes. Like I said, degreefree.co4 slash podcast. And your name came up because I believe the story was that you reached out to him to congratulate him on his project that he is doing, and I think it's called light speed. I'm pretty sure that is that's his project's name. And then you guys kinda hit it off and you became his words, a mentor to him and helped him, you know, get to where he is today, and you're still helping him now. I would love to talk about why you reached out because at the time, I'm pretty sure that

Ryan Maruyama [00:56:51]:

you were already at

Ryan Maruyama [00:56:51]:

Apple, and you were seemingly, you made it already. What are you doing reaching out to other people?

Sean Dubois [00:57:00]:

Other people did that for me. Like, someone took a risk on me, and once you let them, was my manager and, like, he had every right not to hire me, but he took a risk on me. So, like, other people did that for me, The other is that talking to Garrett makes me happy. Like, I'm not Garrett's mentor. I'm Garrett's peer and Garrett, you know, I see a better future in the things Garrett is doing. He's a good person who's, like, motivated and he's doing right by people. So that's it. And, like, I just and I wanna go through life and I and I wanna be passionate about things. Like, I do this open source because I'm passionate and, like, seeing Garrett's for the problems he was working on makes me feel good. Like, I like talking to him. Like, if you sit down with lunch with him, he'll talk at you about all the things he's excited about. You come away, like, just feeling happy. I mean, like, some people you sit down and they're bummed out. They don't like their jobs and stuff like that like that. So, yeah, I would always do things for people that I think would do things for others. Like, I totally expect that Garrett will have his own company in 10 years and he'll take chances on people and he'll do other things. So, yeah, honestly, I feel like I'm, like, talking my way out of, like, taking a chance. Like, I I did nothing. Like, I, like, Garrett would have arrived at where he is at life if he had never met me. I didn't have anything to do with his success. Like, I'm I'm happy that I know him, and, that's it.

Ryan Maruyama [00:58:18]:

Seemingly, you were I mean, you're very humble, but, seemingly, you were just paying it back while paying it forward, I suppose, whatever the nomenclature is because somebody did that for you. I think that the world needs a lot more of that. You know, it gets difficult at a certain point because I think about myself and back you know, 2 years ago prior to starting degree free, I would help a lot of people 1 on 1 because I I've held my opinions that I hell hold now that I espouse now more publicly. I held that for about a decade. And My opinion has been developing since then. Back then, I would help people, you know, a lot more one on 1, but as, you know, notoriety builds and as you start to do more of these things and talk about these things, you know, the inbounds starts to come in. And so I'm thinking about it from my own perspective and, you know, like, I don't know. I'm a very fortunate very fortunate. I get a lot of messages every day of like, hey. I'm, you know, I'm trying to break into this industry, and I need help doing this. And I don't know how to deal with all of the inbound, to be quite honest. There's not really a question there. Your humility and your candor had, you know, kind of made me think about my own, like, man, maybe I need to be helping more people.

Sean Dubois [00:59:44]:

No. There's there's a bunch of people that I that I don't so, like, with the open source project, I've got I get DMs. People asking for help and, like, hey. Can you do this? Can you do that? so many people that I've helped that haven't deserved it. There's so many people that I've ignored that I should have helped more. And now it's also it's just it's good for yourself as well. Like, I like helping people in the WebRTC space because the more good people that are in WebRTC, it's better for me. I I work with Garrett now. And, like, can depend on him. So, like, very selfishly, like, everyone I help eventually will come back and help me in a way. You know, the other one is kids. It's like, when you have a kid, like, all of a sudden, it just comes so much harder. Like, money becomes a bigger concerns. Once you have that responsibility, it's just it's a lot harder to, like, do those side projects just, like, waste time on things when, like, you know, your actual offspring need you.

Ryan Maruyama [01:00:30]:

Absolutely. Absolutely. I I really really feel that one. But, Sean, I do not wanna take up your whole day. I just had a couple of questions left before we go. 1, if people would like to follow along in your career, say hi, where is the best place that I can send them? Is that your LinkedIn?

Sean Dubois [01:00:51]:

Yeah. Send to LinkedIn or the website, uh, Send me send me emails, message me on slack, Discord, like, wherever you feel most comfortable. happy to give referrals, happy to give advice, anything I can do to help. But, like, I remember asking a lot of people their advice and opinions and none of it really mattered. Like, I remember when, like, I was, like, at early jobs, and I'd be like, I'd wanna have one on ones with people and, like, What is the secret to your success? And, like, I think you'll be very underwhelmed if you talk to me one on 1. He'll be, you'll you'll come away and be like, oh, he didn't figure it out all for me. yeah, I'm always happy to help.

Ryan Maruyama [01:01:26]:

and, Sean, what is the URL again? Cyobut? Like, can you spell it?

Sean Dubois [01:01:30]:

Yeah. Yeah. So s It's my last name backwards.

Ryan Maruyama [01:01:36]:

I see. I see. Excellent. And I will have links to everything in the show notes degreefree.co4/ podcast for everybody listening. And last, Sean, is there any last statements, word of advice, anything that you'd like to let the people that are listening know?

Sean Dubois [01:01:55]:

whatever dissatisfaction you feel in your career, it's not just about your career it's about you as a whole being. And I think if you go and solve those problems, that other things will fall into place. Like, I'm happy to help people with career questions and other things like that that was the biggest thing for me. It's like when I finally figured out, like, it doesn't matter, like, solve the problems for yourself. Figure out how to feel good about yourself every day. Like, things magically started falling in place for me. So I hope that, like, other people figure that out as well.

Ryan Maruyama [01:02:26]:

I really, really hear that for me. I have struggled with some of those things myself, and I don't know what else to call it, but self confidence issues, at least for myself. I don't know about for you. And, one of the things that I have had to work on recently is being more forgiving to myself because I know that I can crack the whip on myself. Like, there's nothing that I have very thick skin. And the reason why I have very thick skin is because there's nothing that you could tell me about myself or there's no names that you can call me or anything that you can do to me that I haven't said to myself times a 100. Right? Like and that's just my default. And That's really good and useful if you need to crack the whip and you need to get things done in a short amount of time, but I think over the long term and over, like, the span of your life and not thinking in increments of, like, a week. I'm starting to think that the carrot is better than the whip. You know, so I really, really ascribe or hear what you're saying with that, for sure.

Sean Dubois [01:03:35]:

a 100%. It's like, you'll never go to the gym because it's like, I'm I'm gonna go to the gym because if I don't, I'll be punished. Like, you have to find what you enjoy about like, like, what kind of lifting do you enjoy? What do you really enjoy cardio? Do you really enjoy, you know, martial arts? And then the whole side, when you find that thing you love, it just kinda takes for you. Yeah. It's weird, but, like, we're not told that enough.

Ryan Maruyama [01:03:53]:

Excellent. Excellent. Sean, thank you so much for the time. I really, really appreciate it. Alright. Have a good one.

Sean Dubois [01:04:00]:

I'm I'm excited for people to listen to this.

Ryan Maruyama [01:04:02]:

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of degree free. I have absolutely enjoyed today's episode. We went into totally different areas than we normally go into. I really hope that you enjoy this. Please leave a comment on YouTube. Let me know what you think about it. Let me know if it was good. Let me know if it was bad. If you liked it, I'm thinking about doing the interviews more like this and in this style. So please let me know. If you would like to receive a free weekly newsletter that has different degree free jobs and how you can get higher without a college degree, Go to and sign up for our free weekly newsletter. And as always, The show notes can be found at degreefree.coforward/ podcast. And that includes where to find Sean DuPaul on his LinkedIn and on his website. It's and that's pretty much it for this week. I'll see you next week, Aloha.

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