In today’s episode of the Learn to Code With Me podcast, I talk with Tracy Lee. Tracy is a serial entrepreneur and Google Developer Expert. She’s the co-founder of This Dot Media and This Dot Labs, and she also runs the Modern Web podcast and conferences.
In our conversation, Tracy shares how she became a Google Developer Expert, and the non-traditional steps to take if you’re interested in becoming one. She also talks about why she learned to code, the events she goes to, and diversity in tech. Finally, she shares her advice for anyone nervous about going to a tech event. Overall, Tracy reminds us of the importance of community.
This episode was transcribed with the help of an AI transcription tool. Please forgive any typos. Laurence Bradford 0:06 Laurence Bradford 0:18 Laurence Bradford 0:34 Laurence Bradford 0:51 Laurence Bradford 1:06 Laurence Bradford 1:38 Tracy Lee 1:40 Laurence Bradford 1:42 Tracy Lee 1:45 Laurence Bradford 2:21 Tracy Lee 2:39 Laurence Bradford 2:41 Tracy Lee 2:57 Laurence Bradford 4:03 Tracy Lee 4:24 Laurence Bradford 5:04 Tracy Lee 5:48 Laurence Bradford 6:40 Tracy Lee 6:58 Laurence Bradford 7:59 Tracy Lee 8:47 Tracy Lee 9:55 Tracy Lee 11:11 Laurence Bradford 12:26 Tracy Lee 13:02 Laurence Bradford 14:32 Tracy Lee 15:34 Laurence Bradford 17:05 Laurence Bradford 17:11 Laurence Bradford 17:24 Laurence Bradford 18:15 Laurence Bradford 19:18 Tracy Lee 19:28 Laurence Bradford 20:06 Tracy Lee 20:25 Laurence Bradford 21:14 Tracy Lee 21:25 Laurence Bradford 21:26 Tracy Lee 21:28 Laurence Bradford 21:33 Tracy Lee 21:39 Laurence Bradford 21:40 Tracy Lee 22:00 Tracy Lee 22:50 Laurence Bradford 24:15 Tracy Lee 24:17 Laurence Bradford 24:31 Tracy Lee 24:34 Laurence Bradford 25:52 Tracy Lee 26:50 Laurence Bradford 27:19 Laurence Bradford 27:33 Tracy Lee 27:55 Tracy Lee 29:20 Laurence Bradford 31:11 Laurence Bradford 31:56 Tracy Lee 32:31 Laurence Bradford 33:55 Tracy Lee 34:08 Laurence Bradford 34:11 Tracy Lee 34:43 Laurence Bradford 35:22 Tracy Lee 36:20 Laurence Bradford 36:42 Tracy Lee 36:44 Laurence Bradford 36:46 Tracy Lee 36:48 Laurence Bradford 36:55
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Hey, listeners, welcome to the Learn to Code with Me podcast. I'm your host Laurence Bradford and today's episode I talk with Tracy Lee. A serial entrepreneur and Google Developer expert who loves to build communities and companies.
Tracy runs the modern web podcast and a series of conferences that go along with it. She loves open source building communities and speaking at conferences. We talk about a tonne of different things in this interview, everything from learning how to code to dating, which I think is a Learn to Code with Me podcast first. Remember, you can get Show Notes for this episode, plus more information about Tracy at learntocodewith.me/podcast. Enjoy the interview.
Hey, Tracey, thank you so much for coming on the show.
Thank you for having me.
Could you introduce yourself really quick to the audience?
Sure. My name is Tracy. You can find me on Twitter at Lady Leet, L-A-D-Y L-E-E-T, and I am the co-founder of a company called This Dot Media, which is a front end modern web media company. We also have a consulting arm to us at This Thought Labs. And I think I spend most of my time coding these days speaking at conferences. I'm a Google Developer expert. I don't know I do a lot of things, I think, as women in tech, tend to find ourselves doing everything these days so.
Yes, yes, definitely. I feel like these past few weeks, I've also been taking a course actually, and I know the listeners know this already. But I feel like as much as I love the course, and it's been great to be like in the classroom, it's even. I feel myself like running around even more than usual but -
So I love that you are so multifaceted. You do coding, you speak at conferences. One thing that I would love you to explain, I'm kind of embarrassed that I don't really know what this means. And I'm sure there's some listeners out there that don't know as well. What does it mean to be a Google Developer expert?
Being a Google Developer expert. You usually means that you are part of the community and work to evangelise Google technologies. So you could be a Google Developer expert for Angular for Android for IoT, different things like that. For me, specifically, I'm a Google Developer expert for Angular. And I think mainly, I've become one because I spend more than half my time, if not 80% of my time, working with Angular and trying to help people in the community, learn about Angular and play with new technologies, break them, etc. So if you ever find one or need one, or you know, are looking to explore Google technologies, whether it be their new API's or anything related to that polymer, for example, finding one there's a list if you just Google Google Developer Experts, you should be able to find one in your area, or I'm happy to help connect you as well.
That's so cool. Wait. So how do you and I like totally in probably jumping ahead here, but I just thought usually try to start with someone's background. But I just think this is so interesting. And I, to my knowledge, never had anyone on the show that was a Google Developer expert. How do you become one? Like, is there a process you go to to do applied AI? How does that work?
So it's usually people who are part of the community already. And I think it's hard because a lot of people ask me how to become one. And I just say, well, you just kind of have to be awesome in the Angular community. And then it happens if somebody somebody who is a Google Developer expert already recommends you. So there's no real like you, I don't think you can just become one. You just sort of have to, like if you're involved in the community enough and there's a need in your area, then Somebody and you know, Google Developer expert than they recommend you.
Okay, it actually, it actually reminds me a lot. And I don't talk about this often on the show. But writing so I do a lot of writing, or I used to do a lot more. Now I only write for my site and Forbes, but it's kind of like getting published or guest writing on big publications, like there can be like a formal way to go about it, but a lot of it is just knowing someone who already writes for that publication, for instance, Forbes, and getting an introduction to an editor and then getting on the platform that way so yeah, I can. Yeah I that's like the closest thing I think I can relate that to but yeah, it's like, you know, again, just shows how important who you know is and being active in your community,
Right, we are trying to focus more on diversity. So especially females, so you know, if you You are playing with Google technologies. And you are a female. There's not many of us. Yeah, let me know.I'd love to just talk to you about what you do with Google technologies. I think, you know, it's hard in the tech world, right? Because you were all trying to push forward this whole idea of diversity and increase diversity and everything we do but because there's such a small percentage of people who are actually women in tech it's much harder to do that so yeah, comes up often obviously.
Yeah, yeah, no, definitely it's um yeah it's something I can I work you know, full time at a start up and I really got you know, in a no different people who work in tech, and I definitely can see it. Yeah, cross companies. It can be hard. Yeah, cuz as you said, the percentage is so small so.
Yeah, I think one of the big things about that, and women in tech and just sort of changing the perspective of women in tech is that the women in tech right now, we have to remember that we're not necessarily. I mean, we are role models for the people and for our generation currently, but even more, so we're role models for the people coming into technology, the people who are considering majors in college, and, you know, looking at the community, right, like, if there are no people like you, typically, do you want to be a part of that. I mean, I think I do. But I don't think a lot of I don't think sometimes I feel like women like tech communities. If it's, you know, let's say all white males. It's not very welcoming for other people who might want to, but you just don't have role models. You're not like, Oh, this person looks like me. I could do that.
Yeah, there's some quote. And I'm like not remember it totally but it's like hard to imagine yourself in that position. I'm thinking a lot about like leadership roles, like at a company when you don't see other people who kind of like look like you or you know, or sort of resemble you there. So if you're only seeing getting the good like white men like in like leadership roles at your company, it's hard to even envision yourself making it to that level, because you just yeah, it's like you don't have any examples to follow. Picture yourself there. So no, I totally see. I totally get that. Yeah. So it's, I mean, as as you mentioned, the beginning you do, you're very active in like the different tech communities and Angular community is making at conferences, but you also run it you run your own. It's like a front end agency. And so it's This Dot Media and then This Dot Media Labs.
So let's say you're looking for newest things coming in, you know, yes, now next, what do you do? You could sift through the TC 39. repository on GitHub, for example, right? Or you could follow XYZ people. But there's not really a platform for things happening in Angular react, or Ember or web components or chrome or whatever to, to have a, you know, like, where do people find out about these things? And I think with your writing background, you totally get that. So we're trying to produce interesting content and just have a centralised hub and feature people who are doing the cool things and writing the frameworks in the libraries. And then, on the lab side, it's really, we have a set of mentors. And so I think one thing that we believe with the salt Labs is that it's not about necessarily investing in projects, which is what I think hiring consultants. It's kind of a fallacy, right? Because if you hire a consultant to do the work for you, let's say at a startup, or even a large company, once a consultant leaves, you're screwed, right?
Because what is the code? You know, how did they write it, etc, etc. and you sort of lose that knowledge. But for us, what we do is we work with a really specific set of mentors, mostly who are on core teams or who have written the frameworks, or libraries. And then we provide something called mentoring. And mentoring is where you can buy like X amount of hours a month, to have that person on hand, so that as you're architecting out your application or code reviewing or trying to figure out best practices, you're not spinning your wheels, like this is a really big thing, let's say an RX JS where, you know, it's like, what operator do I use? Should I turn this into an observable? Like, how do I think about reactive programming? Right? There's so many different levels on where that's important. Or let's say you're doing react, and you're wondering about, like, which version of the router or how do I manage my state? Or what's out there, right? It's so much easier. And spending three days versus a few minutes talking to somebody can really help out.
Yeah, I think that's the biggest thing, like a lot of people say, a lot of people think that they don't have they don't know. I see this a lot with speakers or people I try to get to speak. They say, I don't have anything interesting to speak about right or I wouldn't know or I'm not an expert or anything but I think as a beginner I get so excited about the silliest things, right? Like, I get so excited about how to iterate over data in my template, using like, an g4 like Angular choose New Template directive, you know, like, I remember getting excited about that. Or, right now I'm learning RX JS and being able to wrap an API in an observable excites the hell out of me. Yeah. Um, I think whatever excites you, but I think also, as you get more senior as a developer, you somehow I don't know maybe like, lose the excitement or something, because I can definitely tell you that like, for me, the things that I got excited about, let's say three months ago, I look at now and I'm like, wow, that was really easy. Like, why did I care about that? But I still you know, get excited. About silly things like playing around with RX JS and Jasmine.
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Yeah, so how long were you organising these events like and you said you started doing like Ember events like you were organising Ember ones before, even like really diving in that deep.
Yeah, yeah. No, I love that. Um, yeah, I'm on the Modern Web website now. And I feel like I've definitely heard of it before. And so you have like, yeah, events, podcast newsletter. And it looks like you have other people helping you run this correct.
I was just looking at the website and yeah, and I was seeing all these in an ember Sherpa, like you have like a bunch of like, like in your bio, like a bunch of everything's yeah, they all kind of fall under
Yeah, yeah. And Dot Media.
Yes. Everything's gonna stop mediano. Yeah, so you got it good at that and see everything
Yeah, and Okay, so the NG cruise that's really cool. Is this the first time you're doing this?
Could you talk a bit about that? Like I don't like okay. Like laughing because like the thought like for Okay, so for me, like I love doing things online. Like I love writing. I love podcasting. Like planning events scares the hell out of me, let alone planning a cruise. So, so good. Yeah, talk about that. A bit.
Well, uh, okay, so initially I went on a cruise and then I said, Hey, this would be really fun. So okay, going on a cruise and then realising there's internet and then realising you can NPM instal. And it's only $15 a day for internet now on nowadays on cruises, makes everything possible. So once I put all those things together, I was like, Oh, we should just all go on a cruise together. So initially, it started off as something small like, hey, let's get a handful of people and go on a cruise. But then it sort of evolved into NG cruise and then NG conference is the largest Angular conference and partnered with them.
So now this is presented by mg calm, so we're going to have about 200 people there. It's gonna be really intimate. So it's 200 attendees, but almost everybody's bringing their spouses and kids. Obviously, single people are invited. And there are single people too. And most of the speakers are coming without their spouses, so you can stock them and hack with them all night. But so there's going to be probably about, like, 400 or so people in our group. And the whole idea is that like, you're all in one place. And I feel like the cross collaboration that can happen during that, like, for example, two of my friends are in wassim. one guy's working on really cool IoT focused stuff. He's he's building these like beacons with Arduinos, and things like that. And then my other friend wassim, does, he, he wrote the Web Bluetooth API for Angular two. So seeing them to come together and like, talk about pull requests or like how they can improve for their different projects is something that you don't get to see often and you don't get to be a part of it. But I think that's the beautiful part about a cruise, especially the intimate one. You get the time that you wouldn't necessarily ever get anywhere else with the people that are writing and doing the cool things.
How many days is a cruise?
It is from May 29 to June 2. So it's about it's three and a half days of content, but it's about four days. So what? Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Thursday night. It's like four and a half days
And do you guys get off the boat at all?
Oh my god. Yes. I like, you know, those cruises. For example. Somebody said we should cruise to Hawaii. I'm like, okay, no, you're stuck on a boat for three days. Yeah. So a cruise actually is not that. I mean, it's so big. You have so many places to hide. You have so many activities. This one has a rock climbing up on top and a bungee jumping thing up on top. I like something you can strap in and like bounce around, right? But it's Royal Caribbean. So it's port heavy. So like, we leave from Miami then we go to Nassau the next day then we go to coke Okay, then we go to q s and then we're back in Miami. So like you still get to go on the you know, like we basically try to make sure that the cruise like the first 83 is one of the conferences the longest conference day but your your doctor until midnight, you don't have to be back on the boat till midnight. So you still have a lot of time. Or like some of the days are, you know, the boat is docked from eight to five. And then we have the conference from like 3:45 to 5:45 or something like that.
Got it. So it's kind of like a vacation slash. Wait, I've tried to think of a funny word for it like a hack keishon I like that Keisha occasion. Yeah, like, it's kind of like a blend like a call. That sounds right. But anyway, yeah, no, that's really cool. Okay, so it's like people are going to be able to like yeah, like alpha bow and explore a bit. Right That's I'm so jealous. I was in the Caribbean in December and I like it's like I'm in New York right now and it's like so cold and not sunny and hot. Anyway, dying to go somewhere warm right now, but Dude, that's okay. That's That's so awesome that you're planning this? I can't again I can't even wrap my head around like planning a cruise, let alone all these other meetups and stuff that you do. So I okay, so so curious, like, like, what is your typical week look like? And what I mean is how many different events are like talks are you kind of going to on a week to week basis?
I probably would say too many. So, about I probably averaged about eight events a week or so. Sorry a month. Not a week, thank God. But yeah, I mean, I keep pretty busy I I just get really involved in the community because that's sort of where my where my strengths are. So, yeah, life is different.
Yeah, you know, that totally makes sense and 8 a month isn't that I thought when you first said I did think you meant like a week and I was like, She's like, you're like doubling up on some nights are going to two I was like, Oh my goodness. Like, how do you even you know, get time alone or anything?
Yeah, yeah. No, that's really awesome. So okay, so I know when I like first started off in tech. I was and I know a lot of people get nervous, like going to like their first meetup, especially if they're really new. Is there any kind of like advice you could give a beginner like, what do you do when you go to an event and like, you don't know anyone? Is there any tips?
While I think everybody's awkward, so just be awkward and talk to people. And feel weird, and it'll be fine. Like, I don't know what else to say. But um, I think because I am usually an organiser or know the organisers, it just becomes natural. So I think just like public speaking, right, like, if you keep doing something and you really hate it, and you keep doing it, because you know, you need to improve the skill, then you're just going to get better in general. I always encourage, I always encourage, like, speakers or people who want to speak to sort of do that. Like, I remember when I first started throwing events. So when I first decided, I've always been doing startup, but when I discovered tech startups in the Bay Area, I said, Oh, I should just throw one with venture capitalists and entrepreneurs and see what happens, right. So I started throwing an event. And I remember the first event I threw even the first few, I had to type up what I was going to say, recited a bunch of times in the car. And then I would go on stage and have like, a piece of paper that I was reading off of. And this is just, you know, at a bar with 50 people, right? It's not anything crazy.
But now I'm very, very, very comfortable and don't even need to do that. So I think it's like that with with meetups and if you're going to meetups as well, like you should just randomly talk to people and see how it goes. And I think if you're a female sometimes you one of my girlfriends was telling me that she doesn't go to meetups, she has to look at and see if other women are going to tech meetups and then if there is another female or if there is a few other females then she will go because she doesn't want to be the only girl and I say, screw it, just do it. But you're gonna like, as a female, you will deal with certain things. Like I remember this one meetup I just threw. Like, I could totally tell that this guy was totally wanting to hit on me or something. Right? Like, I could just see the look in his eyes. And I knew that when he was asking me questions or talking to me, it was because he was interested, romantically, sexually, whatever it was, you sort of have to just brush those things off or just even tell people like, Hey, stop being weird. And this is not cool. You know? Like, there's a lot of work we need to do unfortunately as, as women in tech, along with just being awesome, you know, like, yeah, it just comes with the territory, but I think if we don't do it and, and and more and more women just sort of stay at home and and don't Don't try to get out there and don't say things and don't like set standards for industry, then nothing's ever going to change ever. Like for the next generation?
Yeah, no, definitely. And I mean, I've been in sort of similar situations at meetups as well, like, you know, and it can be frustrating. Like, I just think it like leaving and being like, wow, like, you know, at this like professional event and feeling like someone sort of hitting on you, or there's actually been time I'm thinking where I didn't even think like I had met some more, you know, exchange cards. And the guy emailed me the next day asking me to, like go out, like for drinks or dinner or something that was like, clearly really romantic, but I didn't even like catch that vibe, because I don't know. He was like, yeah, kind of awkward, but like, it wasn't even like, I was like, wait, I didn't even realise like that could be perceived as like a romantic encounter.
But I feel like I think as women like no matter where you are like they Things like that can happen, like, you know, you could be walking on the street, you know, the whole like catcalling thing or like you could be at a grocery store at the gym and have someone come up to you and hit you don't hit on you. So it's like, I mean, it sucks, obviously that things like that can happen at events where you're going there to like network, like for business or like professional reasons. But yeah, at least you know, we're, you know, at least Hey, we're talking about it, and maybe some guys will listen and realise it's not cool to like, I don't know, yeah, girl out when you're at like a meetup or something, I don't know.
But also, I think it's so interesting, because based on where you are in the world, there's different social norms. So I was at this event yesterday, and I'm in Raleigh right now. Raleigh, North Carolina, and this guy, he's so charming, and he's like such a Southern Gentleman, and I totally think like, I'm like, I love Southern men, right? He, so there's there's a bunch of girls at this event, and it's a business one. And he says to this one, well, first off, He's so nice because I told this girl who warm up her croissant because it would be so much better. And he grabs the croissant and like, goes and does it for her right, which is so sweet and so nice. But certain people could be like, Oh my god, that was so whatever. But then he made this comment, which is still sitting with me. And they had some interaction and their friends, but they had some interaction. And he said something like, remember what I said about thinking? Like, you know, with the croissant thing, like she I think she said something like I was thinking about it. Then he said to remember what I said about thinking, like don't or something. And like yeah, like, how do I feel about this entire thing, but -
Yeah, I don't know. Yeah, that's I mean, yeah, I don't especially at Yeah, I don't know what to say about that. That's sad. I mean maybe he didn't mean for just cut off as it did, but yeah, that sounds like oh yeah, like you shouldn't think or so. Yeah, like you don't
So nice like such a job. Yeah.
And I have to I also have to sort of correct myself cuz I was just literally after I was done talking about like the guys at meetups like hitting on girls or whatever I literally was just thinking I'm not single but I always think I'm like if I were single, I would like go to more meetup because I because I really want it like probably dating guy similar interests as me and I feel like meeting someone like like a partner I like like an industry meetup or like a course or something like you know, not at a bar like meeting them at like something you've shared interest in like would be really great idea. So I'm sorry, guys. It's just like we all lose either way.
Yeah, yeah, no, definitely like, Well, I think the live relationships in general, like, it's good when you probably start off as friends for store, you know, you get to know each other before and hey, you know, like, it sounds like yeah, like being around that person a few times, maybe several events before asking the girl out and making sure like she's, you know, definitely interested because, you know, I feel like there's so many body language things and I guess not everyone can read them. But that can kind of signal that like, someone is interested in maybe more than just a friendship and maybe something that's more romantic. But anyway, so Okay, so where are we we spoke for a very long time. Thank you so much, Tracy. And this is okay, I'm just laughing at the first I've ever talked about like dating or anything of the show. But really I think it's I think it's great though because it's something everyone, you know, especially if you're single you're thinking about or if you're not single, you could be at a meet up and maybe don't want someone to hit on you. And they are and he was navigating that it's it's an interesting world. So where can people find you online?
You could find me on Twitter @LadyLeet. You can find my GitHub there. And you can go to thisdot.co so it's T-H-I-S-D-O-T.co. And check things out there or I hope to see you on the cruise. You know, we can hang out have drinks, code on some things together.
The hack, the hackcation yeah.
Hackcation. I like that.
All right. Thank you again for coming on.
All right, thank you.
I hope you enjoyed our conversation. Again. The Show Notes for this episode can be found at learnto codewith.me/podcast. If you're listening to this episode in the future, simply click the Search icon in the upper navigation and type in Tracy's name. Her first name is spelled like T-R-A-C-E, and the last name, L-E-E. If you enjoyed this episode, please do me a giant favour and subscribe to the Learn to Code with Me podcast on whichever podcast player you're tuning in on. Also, please leave a rating and review it helps the show so much. Thank you for tuning in, and I'll see you next week.
This episode was transcribed with the help of an AI transcription tool. Please forgive any typos.
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- Being a Google Developer Expert involves working with the community to evangelize Google technologies.
- If you want to explore Google technologies, google “Google Developer Experts” and you should be able to find an expert in your area.
- Being active in your community is one of the best ways to access new opportunities.
- Women in tech today are role models for future generations. If young girls don’t see anyone like them in the industry, they’ll be less likely to want to join it themselves.
- You don’t have to be able to code to start becoming part of the tech community or even to build a community yourself.
- If you’re nervous about attending events, remember that everyone’s awkward. Just go and be awkward too!
- If you keep doing something, like public speaking, because you need to improve the skill, you will get better at it.
- Women in tech have a responsibility to get out there and make things happen, otherwise nothing will ever change.
Links and mentions from the episode:
- Modern Web
- Modern Web podcast
- Modern Web meetup
- This Dot Labs
- This Dot
- Ember CLI
- Tracy Lee on Twitter @ladyleet
- Tracy on LinkedIn
- Tracy on GitHub
Thanks for listening!
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