In today’s episode of the Learn to Code With Me podcast, I talk with Ben Halpern. Ben has combined his background in marketing with programming, to co-found four corporations. He’s the CTO of Argo and the guy behind @ThePracticalDev and Dev.to.
Ben studied some computer science at college, but didn’t think it was for him. Instead, he studied marketing and then pursued a career in comedy writing. It wasn’t until 2012, when he had an idea for an app, that his friend introduced him to Ruby on Rails. He found web development much more exciting than the coding he’d done before, so he combined programming with entrepreneurship to start Texts.com and The Practical Dev.
In our conversation, Ben talks about why he didn’t initially think programming was for him. We hear about his weaknesses as an entrepreneur and how he manages them. Finally, Ben shares his advice for anyone learning to code and trying to come up with their own project ideas. Overall, his story teaches us the value of self-awareness and teamwork in entrepreneurship.
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 1:12 Laurence Bradford 1:42 Ben Halpern 1:45 Laurence Bradford 1:47 Ben Halpern 1:52 Laurence Bradford 2:10 Ben Halpern 2:31 Laurence Bradford 3:37 Ben Halpern 3:43 Laurence Bradford 4:14 Ben Halpern 4:45 Ben Halpern 5:13 Laurence Bradford 5:56 Laurence Bradford 6:22 Ben Halpern 6:27 Laurence Bradford 7:13 Ben Halpern 7:26 Laurence Bradford 8:18 Laurence Bradford 9:05 Ben Halpern 10:03 Laurence Bradford 11:07 Ben Halpern 11:21 Ben Halpern 12:04 Laurence Bradford 13:07 Laurence Bradford 13:40 Ben 14:20 Ben Halpern 14:43 Laurence Bradford 15:40 Ben Halpern 16:02 Ben Halpern 16:44 Laurence Bradford 16:51 Laurence Bradford 17:31 Laurence Bradford 17:57 Laurence Bradford 18:30 Laurence Bradford 18:43 Laurence Bradford 19:35 Ben Halpern 20:11 Laurence Bradford 20:16 Ben Halpern 20:35 Ben Halpern 21:36 Laurence Bradford 22:06 Laurence Bradford 22:27 Ben Halpern 22:48 Ben Halpern 23:46 Laurence Bradford 24:24 Ben Halpern 24:58 Laurence Bradford 25:00 Ben Halpern 25:25 Laurence Bradford 25:52 Ben Halpern 26:39 Laurence Bradford 27:25 Ben Halpern 27:32 Laurence Bradford 27:53 Ben Halpern 28:25 Laurence Bradford 28:46 Ben Halpern 29:02 Ben Halpern 29:30 Laurence Bradford 30:13 Laurence Bradford 30:59 Ben Halpern 31:54 Laurence Bradford 33:26 Laurence Bradford 33:55 Ben Halpern 34:42 Laurence Bradford 35:36 Ben Halpern 35:47 Laurence Bradford 36:16 Ben Halpern 36:19 Laurence Bradford 36:26 Laurence Bradford 36:40
Hey, you're currently listening to season three of the learn to code me podcast. I'm your host Laurence Bradford and this season I chat with a range of individuals who work in Tech.
Freshbooks is excited to announce the launch of an all-new Freelancer friendly version of their accounting software. To claim an unrestricted 30-day free trial, just go to freshbooks.com/learntocode and enter Learn to Code with Me in the "How did you hear about us?" section.
Hired is the world's most intelligent talent matching platform for job opportunities in engineering development, design, product management, and data science. Get a $300 hiring bonus by signing up at hire.com/learntocodewithme.
Hey, listeners, welcome to the Learn to Code with Me podcast. I'm your host, Laurence Bradford. In today's episode, I talk with Ben Halpern. A programmer, entrepreneur and more. You may know him from his popular Twitter account, The Practical Dev, or from his website dev.to, where anyone can publish stories.
In our conversation we talk about how Ben started coding because he did not study Computer Science in college. He also shares his early endeavours in entrepreneurship, how he started The Practical Dev as a Twitter account, and how it evolved since its conception. Ben also shares learn to code tips for newbies. Remember, you can get Show Notes for this episode at learntocodewith.me/podcast. I hope you enjoy the show.
Hey, Ben, thanks so much for talking with me today.
Thanks for having me. It's great to be here.
Yes, of course. So could you introduce yourself to the audience real quick?
Uh, yeah. I'm Ben Halpern. I'm a CTO of a company called Argo and the founder of a company called The Practical Dev. And I am a programmer. And yeah, excited to chat about all this.
Yeah, I'm so excited to dive in. But I do want to backtrack a bit because, you know, I know this, the audience may not, but you didn't get a CS degree in college. In fact, if I'm recalling correctly, you didn't even get any kind of technical degree. So, how, and when did you start teaching yourself how to code?
Yeah, so, uh, I was into HTML and building websites and stuff from a young age. I really enjoyed this stuff on and off just as a hobby. And I almost did CS in college, I took a little bit of CS, but I dropped out and wound up just graduating with a marketing degree. And sort of right as I was graduating, I did like a summer internship. And I really didn't like it and I kind of wanted to do something else. And I thought about getting into comedy writing and I like really wanted to be a TV writer and I kind of, then I stumbled back into programming. And a friend of mine really introduced me to like, web development, which I just was infinitely more exciting than any of this. Yes, I took for me. And then I yeah, I got really, really back into coding, like, for real this time and haven't looked back.
So I had no idea that you wanted to do comedy writing that's really cool, though.
Yeah, I mean, like, seriously, but I just didn't want to do I didn't know what I want to do and I knew I I really enjoyed sort of reading and then sitcoms and stuff as soon as like everybody else, it's really a bad industry to be in in terms of the like, in terms of how many people want to do it versus how many available jobs their programming is kind of the opposite and it really works out well that way.
Yeah, I was I feel like the entertainment industry like period like comedy. I mean, even I'm not too familiar with it, but I feel like acting, singing um, you know, like directing producers working in that industry is very competitive. And I yeah, you're it's like the complete opposite, like programming and, and finding like different kinds of tech jobs. So when all this was happening, were you I know you're from Canada. I like I feel like I've always like outside now as we were you still living in Canada at the time, or have you moved to New York yet? Or like where were you?
Yeah, so I came to New York for a summer before I graduated because my brother lived here was not much of a plan, but I came here and I lived with him for a summer and the man At that time, I was like fully committed to this comedy writing thing. And, and I was trying to get connections in that industry. I, Pete Yeah, just like that was my like pounding pavement, New York sort of trip.
And then I was just exhausting. And then I got back. And then yeah, back in Canada, I really, I actually remember sitting in the cafeteria at college. And a friend of mine, we were just sort of talking about a random like, website app. I thought it should exist in the world. And a friend of mine just told me to check out Ruby on Rails just randomly. He didn't even really, he wasn't even really much of a web developer or anything, but he, he knew where to point me. And once I got into that world, it all sort of started coming together and having a back.
Yeah, I love the summer though in New York City. Trying to find your big break trying to find the break. And then go back. You're like, oh man, actually, it's like, it's so much easier to do to be like inside your computer. I don't know, again, not much about script writing, but at least with acting, it's like you have to go on additions. You have to like put yourself really out there. It's super competitive.
So what year was this when your friend suggested learning Ruby on Rails?
Uh, this is like 2012. And so yeah, about four years ago, and I feel like I knew how to programme like, I wasn't a fresh starter at that point, but uh, hadn't like really felt successful in any way. Like I I took enough CS in college to know how to programme but I also like, totally was not enjoying it or feeling it. I didn't think it was for me yet but four years ago You finally clicked and I got a lot of momentum and was able to finish projects and it was so cool and that I could make a dynamic website. And that's, that's it's been that ever since.
Yeah, I want to circle back to something you said real quick cuz I feel like a lot of listeners can definitely relate to this. Why didn't you think it was for you at first, like programming and computer science in general?
Yeah, I mean, I didn't have any definitive thoughts that it wasn't for me. And I actually kind of feeling embarrassed telling, saying that I only sort of really started programming like, for real four years ago because I talk a lot on the internet about programming and I feel like I feel like sometimes I still have like total imposter syndrome about like having not truly having all that much experience anyway, that's a tangent, but um, I think college football and I had some professors who just like just really thought That programming wasn't for folks like us, and most of my professors really good and it was actually this one I had for like several of my classes who really demotivated the hell out of me and I just like, ultimately just like wasn't having fun and drop that. It's kind of sad that I like one person get to me that much, but I think when you're in college like.
And I don't even think I did for like a year and a half, like I would just avoid it at all costs, again is very early on when I started learning. And when I looked back on it, I was like, I can't believe I let this like two day workshop have such a negative, like, it just left such a negative taste in my mouth that I wouldn't even like go back was kind of like to me, I was like, oh, wow, I feel like I was really stubborn. You know? Yeah. But ya know, and I, I, again, I know a lot of people that listen to the show are still in college, maybe they're studying CS. We even have people who are thinking about studying CS maybe they're a bit younger, like looking back like I know. And I feel the same way looking back because you know, I studied history in college and like, I don't regret studying history in college. But I'm like, if I could have done it again, I probably would try to study something technical. Maybe not CES but something like in that space. Like do you feel that same way too. Are you like happy that Like all the decisions you made kind of led you to where you are today?
Uh, yeah, I'm reasonably pleased with how the whole thing worked out. If I could have gone back, I would have changed things a little bit because I my whole college degree was a little hectic because I actually changed my mind like a bunch of times. So I, I like in hindsight, I kind of know exactly what I would have studied and I wouldn't have jumped around so much but but I don't know if I could have handled the whole CS degree anyway, like, it's a software engineering programme. It was strictly computer science and a lot of math and well, it's all important and I'm, I have a greater appreciation than ever for it, just wasn't my speed. It wasn't really like, I wasn't really motivated enough to learn it at the time and I sort of am now I have no problem learning some of these CS concepts, but I can't imagine telling My 19 year old self to find motivation to do that at the time. Like, I don't see how it could have gone any other way.
Yeah, yeah. So switching gears a little bit. You're also like an entrepreneur, like you've had like several businesses in the past, you do a lot of things now, could you just kind of shed some light on that for the listeners?
Uh, yeah. So I that's kind of always been my streak and the fact that I did graduate a marketing degree and did lots of other stuff. It's kind of like the, the idea there is that it's always been about just supplying my talents wherever I can. And entrepreneurship always sort of made sense that my mom like runs a dry cleaning business back home, she works herself. It's a just like, it's just the kind of person who like wouldn't do well in a big company. Maybe if it's my own big company. I don't know. It's yeah, I started I came to New York.
I was hired on to create, like to help start this company, Tex calm, which was a student textbook exchange. And that's I'm actually still with the company. We've changed. We've pivoted, we've, we're now called Argo. And I started this other project called the practical Dev, which is practically live on Twitter and websites dev to, and I'm doing both of those things now and just kind of runs in my veins and but being a programmer, if you want to be an entrepreneur is, is makes everything a million times more possible. I can't, I can't even begin to like, I can't even begin to express how much worse it is to try to be an entrepreneur in this day and age without programming skills because I try I tried to Little bit before I like really dove back into programming to like to like hurt other programmers to help me with stuff and it's possible.
Yeah, yeah, I can definitely I can I can I can imagine that for sure. And I totally agree that having those like technical skills definitely makes it a lot easier. So I also feel like you're also as you kind of mentioned this briefly just a bit ago what makes you also extras like successful in this stuff is how well rounded you are. So for the listeners who may not be aware the practical dev star I get so I know this from talking to Ben in the past by know that practical dev started off as a Twitter account, is that correct? Right originally just Twitter Yep.
And now by the time this episode goes live, you'll probably have I actually would love to guess I'm gonna guess like 110,000 maybe 120,000 cuz this won't go live for a bit followers. Right now at the time that recording you're right under 100,000. And you post like the funniest meme memes and like tweets and And I jotted this down before because it totally makes sense now that you want to be a comedy writer, because it's like you combined like this, like comedy, kind of comedy with like programming and it started with, like practical data and I know you're doing more things now. Yeah, that's absolutelywhere it started.
I mean, and I didn't even start the Twitter account with the idea that it was going to be really jokes. And it's not really like, the jokes only make up like probably 5% of the content, but it's, uh, but it really kind of brings the whole thing together. And it's really like, my own personal thing. I don't think unless this episode takes forever there, I don't think we're gonna be quite at those numbers, but it'll be you know, depends.
So, I don't want to disappoint people if we're only at like, 102,000 Yeah, like that's a I think in entrepreneurship and in programming and like, you sort of just have to find a way to be yourself like that's, that's a that's sort of the lessons I've learned, like He attempts to sort of fit into the normal spectrum, at least for me, it's just like totally futile. I need to be I need to be like my full self because I have lots of stuff I'm good at and, but if if I tried to do the stuff I'm bad at, which is lots of other important stuff. I'm just like spinning my wheels, I feel frustrated. So I really learned to really get focused on the things that that are just yourself, let yourself come out and you know, find find people in your life who can fill in the gaps as an entrepreneur to, to to help you along the way.
I was literally just going to say I just wanna say, Yeah, right, as long as you surround yourself with people who like balance you out, right? Like you may have certain skills and they have other skills, then you join forces and you're like a, like a power a powerhouse, right? So I'm just curious, like, what are some of the things as an entrepreneur that you don't consider yourself to be that great at.
So sort of like worrying about taxes worrying about our expenditures, keeping receipts. Like anything that requires organisational skills like emailing people back I'm like really awful like most of the good at like kind of emailing like the few people I like know in person sort of like maintaining like the bigger picture of all these relationships you need to keep track of is, is really not a talent of mine. I brought on my friend
Jess to be co-founder of the practical dev with me and she really is. She's quite she's quite good at wearing about all the things I really like just can't bring myself to, to focus on or be happy doing and She's, uh, you know, the the product is kind of my brainchild and I was far along and I brought her on but like, I don't know, if this whole thing would have, I don't know how we would have gotten taken the steps to really like, become a real business that has real things going on without someone as skilledat some of these things as she is.
Sit tight podcast listeners, we're taking a quick break to hear a word from our sponsors.
So you're racing against the clock to wrap up three projects prepping for a meeting later in the afternoon, all while trying to tackle a mountain of paperwork. Welcome to life as a freelancer. Challenging, sure. But our friends at fresh book believes the rewards are so worth it. There have never been more opportunities for the self employed, especially in tech. That's why freshbooks has redesigned its cloud accounting software from the ground up, custom built for exactly the way freelancers work.
Get ready for the simplest way to be more efficient. And organised and get paid quickly. Create and send professional looking invoices in less than 30 seconds. Set up online payments with just a couple of clicks and get paid up to four days faster. See when your client has seen your invoice and put an end to the guessing games. Freshbooks is offering a 30 day unrestricted free trial to my listeners. To claim it, just go to freshbooks.com/learntocode and enter Learn to Code with Me in the, "How did you hear about us?" section.
Searching for a new job can feel stressful, scary and time consuming. pushy recruiters try to sell you on roles you don't actually want in job boards make you feel like you're throwing your resume into a black hole never to be seen again.
The solution is Hired. Hired makes your job search faster, focused and stress free. After completing one simple application top employers apply to hire you throughout the process. Your dedicated talent advocate will have your back providing unbiased career coaching to To help you put your best foot forward with potential employers hired offers access to 4000 plus innovative employers including big brand names like Facebook and smaller emerging startups. The size and type of company you want to connect with is totally up to you. The best part it's always free for you to find your next job on hired no exceptions. In fact, you could even get paid to get hired my listeners can get a $300 hiring bonus by signing up with my link higher.com/learntocodewithme.
Yeah, that's awesome that you that you found someone who really yeah who can to can help with these things that you're not good. I was I was laughing when you were saying like the taxes cuz I totally feel the same way. Oh my god like things with like taxes. It's like, that's like the last thing I want to worry about. But yeah, no, that's great. And so yes, okay, so back just to like the kind of journey that the practical dev went through. It started off as a Twitter account, and now you have have a website dev.to? Could you explain a bit to listeners like what the difference is? And just like what your plans are with Dev, which I'm sorry, is it dev dev two? Is that what you call it? Dev two
We say Dev Two, but like, it's a funny domain name. So it's easier just to read.
Yeah, your trust me, I mean, with Learn to Code with.Me, like the domain name, I always so then some people think I it's I don't even know the real answer. Like, it's like, they think the name is like, learn to code with.me. But yeah, any case they have is, um, yeah, this is what was called domain extensions. Yeah. So So yeah, just explain a bit what, uh, what your plans are for that?
Uh, yeah. So it's a website where anyone can go and post an article about programming have their own like, sort of, from their own blog, if they want they can repost it and as we have functionality, functionality to ensure the canonical URL gets activated. Anyway, that's just probably an important tangent, but um, basically It's a it's a discussion and storytelling platform for programmers. And it's really coming along like people are really there's a lot of there's a few big fans and and you can post an article, you can post a question a tutorial, really anything. And it's not like these sort of functionalities didn't exist in some other capacity on the web, but we're, we're really trying to package up package it up well for programmers.
And, you know, we really hope it'll be a nice community where people come online find, find other programmers find mentors, make friends really, and, and really, just like be a nice online destination for for just learning more to code more about code, keeping up with People keeping up with ideas and, and it's really coming along. I'm really proud of the work we're doing.
Yeah, it's awesome. It's It's insane. Like I forget when I first saw The Practical Dev Twitter when we first like follow each other, I don't remember exactly, but just to see how much progress you've made, like in the last few months, cuz I feel like whenever I first stumbled upon the Twitter, you didn't even have the website dev.to. I'm like, very, sir. And so yeah, that's really awesome. How things have been taking off for you guys.
And so you mentioned before, because you so you do the Practical Dev, or, you know, Dev, Dev To. And then you also have another job. And I know, because you both live in New York, because that you are also like running meetups, and you're speaking at events and you're going to conferences. So I'm just curious, like, how have you been managing it all?
I don't know. Like, in such a way that I couldn't do this for the rest of my life. That's definitely one thing. I manage it all by Again, I think focusing on the parts of it, I'm, I'm good at like these meetups we organise and, and that sort of stuff like my. So we have this little organisation as well, I'm a co founder, I'm actually now a co founder for for corporations and home man. One of them's nonprofit, and it's called make a diff. And we, we actually came together after the election with the idea that the tech, the tech community, especially in New York, wanted to get together and just make more of a difference, like feel less complacent and put their energy towards civic projects and, and the sort and so yeah, we started that organisation.
And we, I mean, I tried to provide my best skillset to that because I'm not great at everything, but Saran who, surrounded by Eric who runs code newbie. She's like the first person that I texted when I thought we might want to do something like that and she really took it and ran with it because she's really an organising and that sort of thing so so again I think it's you can do more when you surround yourself with the right people and so I'm much more of a supporting role in some of these things versus the leader and some others and and that's how it all works out I think.
Yeah, I get I think a really important thing is yes surrounding yourself with people you're not doing the stuff you know, or you're not doing maybe things like alone and wow for is insane. Um, and by the way for the listeners as Saron, the founder of Code Newbie, she was on the podcast and season two, episode six and that was actually one of my favourite interviews. If you go to the site learntocodewithme/podcast, just search for her name, Saron, you'll find the episode you can listen to it. It was it was also recorded in my bathroom, which this interview is being recorded in my bathroom. So I think -
Only you, are in your bathroom.
Oh yeah, yeah, clarify clarify. Right in my tiny New York bathroom rights it's a little studio. No. Yeah, only I For both interviews with Ben's and Saron's. Even though you guys also do both live in the New York area though, but anyway, so sweet. What are the Okay, so the I think you think of three Argo, Dev To, make a diff, then what's the fourth one that you that you do?
Uh, I started a project called Threddit, T-H-R-E-D-D-I-T, and it's a it's a cypher custom apparel and this is really coming along and stuff, but we we've been a little bit like disorganised and stuff. So like, so I'm still like, I'm still an co founder of that organisation. But I'm like less involved in that these days. But I still have to like worry about that come tax time.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's hard. It's hard to do like two things, let alone three, let alone four and whether it's like, companies you're running or, you know, for me, I mean, I'm just thinking of like my life where I live and aside from having like a full time job and like the podcast, I'm also taking a you know, course it's only for eight weeks nonetheless, it's twice a week, you know, 630 to nine at night by the time I get home and yeah, it's hard to do these things. And I also really liked how you, like, acknowledge that you couldn't do it for the rest of your life. And I totally feel that way. Like, at least right now, like in this like, this like block of time. But, ya know, I think that's really important that like, you know, that there's like moments where it's going to be super busy and hectic and then but it's not gonna stay that way forever.
Oh, yeah. I mean, in my whole life, I've been just overextending myself with with projects with with sports is a big part of my life growing up and I'm you sort of like conditioned yourself to really be okay with pushing yourself pretty hard. And not that it doesn't have to whole I've got on two separate occasions, I came down with shingles from working too hard and getting just in really rough shape. The first time was when I was first really getting back into coding and I was like, taking like 17 or 18 hour days of straight, straight programming and learning and until like four in the morning every night and then I actually got really sick.
Oh, my goodness is showing shingles. I feel like I know some people who've had that, but it's not that common. Oh, wow.
It's not common at all. Both times I got it was when I was really, really pushing myself and I've learned to strategies to be a little bit better about avoiding that, but it doesn't always. Oh, yeah, it's not always easy.
Yeah, yeah. No, I when you're like said you have like a habit of overextending yourself and I don't I never got sick. I hate because I never had shingles or anything, but I know I sort of joke. It's called like, I wanna say like self induced pain, but it's like all these things that like you choose to take on. It's not like someone's forcing you to do it, but, but at the same time, I don't know, I feel like being busy is, like, great, because I don't know if like when I'm really busy, I can maybe I'll be a little stressed about certain things, but overall, I could be a lot happier because I really feel like I'm like moving forward.
I don't- yeah, I really enjoy not having anything and not being busy. But um, but I like, I don't know how that idea fits into my greater like, my greater zest for sort of projects and creating things and stuff it kind of you can kind of kind of have one without the other.
All right. Well, it was. Actually I want to get into a little bit of advice for people real quick, if you don't mind for people teaching themselves. So are there any like resources or like learning tips you could share with the listeners? There's maybe something that works for you in the past.
Um, yeah, I mean, I always really, like, I think people should create projects that they really want to exist and not just for learning and like, and pick pick projects that like that they would be happy to work on even if it took like years to complete. Because I think that's kind of really motivating and it nothing like too big like choose your choose wisely like what you start to work on.
But I like a lot of people give the same advice about like, choosing, picking out projects with that, like you're motivated to finish but I would, I would say like pick out projects that you're that like you are motivated to finish and that you would be motivated to keep working on for years. If If that was the case. And I think that's a good criteria for picking out projects. I think that's what really helped dev to become a really solid architecturally sound website is because I really felt like I could keep working on it for as long as it took because I knew like this fundamentally, I wanted to, to make this happen.
Yeah, I totally I love that advice. And, and I feel like also like, especially I felt when I start learning to code with me and I'm sure you felt you feel similar with dev two, like it wasn't even like about the money like when I started it was I mean, it wasn't at all about money. It was just like a total passion project. And then over time, I've been able to like slowly start to like monetize things, which is awesome, but it never started out you know that way. And I love all Yeah, what you mentioned about it, even if it takes years to complete like you're okay with that because I remember before starting the blog, I experimented with a few other things because I was really interested in like making a website and like acting like trying to like monetize it, but I would pick these topics that like I knew would do well just based on like, kind of like SEO keywords.
Research type of stuff and other kinds of like market research. But like, I was not interested at all in what it was about, it'd be like something like, like, like fishing tools or something totally random. And I would do it for like a week and I was like, Oh my god, I'm so miserable. And then when I started that Learn to Code with Me blog how initially started out, I just was like, I just really want to document my journey. Like I had, like, no real goals, like I just was like, I just something I want to do. And then it evolves went over time, but I think having that like, interest in whatever you're doing is going to keep you. Yeah, it's just gonna keep motivating you for years to come, which is, which is great. So you may not be I don't even know the answer his question I have people ask me all the time. People email me and they're saying they say, you know, I don't know what project to build, though. Like, there's no idea. Like, I don't have any ideas like, could you do you have any advice for people who feel that way?
Um, yeah, I mean, I think like, reach deep into your motivations. And, just come up with some but come up with just like things that like fundamentally interested you before you ever got into coding, like there must be like things that you just like love about the world and, how can you sort of bring that passion to other people? How can you sort of sort of just make anything that sort of comes to life. And on the point of it being a project that could be a while, it doesn't have to be like, you don't have to figure the whole thing out now. You can sort of create the shell of what could be in the future. As long as you kind of just start with sort of like the fundamentals of the thing you're trying to get out there, it could just start with a blog and then you sort of evolve that to some sort of project like once you get going and once you like, are interacting with people on the subject of the idea. Just there you it opens up a few ideas for for things that constantly need need building and I think non technical people encounter this all the time when they start a project, like, sooner or later, they just like need a coder because something they want something coded. And when you have the privilege of being able to code, even if you're sort of a newbie, even if you can just kind of like, speak that language at all. you'll, you'll, you can take one idea and then just sort of expand on it into like anything in the world because you got that power.
Yes, yes. I love that. And definitely start small. And I mean, with the Practical Dev, you started, you started as a Twitter account, right? And I think that was something I struggled with so much before, I would have these ideas. And I would take so long like planning these extravagant things, and I would never get anywhere with it. And I always say like, one of the best decisions I made and it wasn't even like a conscious decision with learn to code me is I literally had the idea to start this blog. I bought the domain name.
I didn't even put any thought into the name people sometimes like I didn't know I literally was like, Oh, that's a cool domain name. It's available, I'll buy it. And then I think I published my first post the next day and it was like terrible. It's like embarrassing like the site was so like, disgusting like, it was, it was nothing like amazing but the fact that I took that like first step and then I published a few more posts right away and it kind of like set up good momentum. And it just I mean, it completely evolved from then. But yeah, again, I think starting small and not sometimes, at least for me, I we get stuck in like the planning and never even execute. So yeah, anyway, Ben, thank you so much for coming on. And it was great. It's always good to chat with you. Is there any kind of piece of final advice you'd like to share with listeners before we say bye?
Yeah, no more advice. But I want to say that if anyone wants to talk to me about ideas and stuff, I was like, completely open to to chatting over any of this stuff. And you can direct message me on Twitter. I've got open messages. Ben D Halper. On Twitter like is a really easy way to get in touch with me. And I'd like I think, as is clear with this podcast, I don't have any extra time to help work on your projects. But I really, really enjoy chatting over ideas. And really anyone, even if you're like, barely experienced at all or like not into coding yet, and you're just sort of looking to take the leap, and in any capacity, I really enjoy offering help in any capacity. And I'm more than willing to spitball ideas with you.
Well, thank you, Ben, so much for your generous offer. That's very kind of you. And you just mentioned a few places where people could find you online. But then nonetheless, could you plug like your website one last time?
Yeah, Dev.to, it's a great way place to consume content. But it's also a great place to get your ideas, your thoughts out there. We don't really we don't we really want all sorts of perspective. So if you don't feel like you're experienced enough with code, it's probably not true. You probably have something interesting to say and and we would love if you signed up and just shared some random thought you had about code.
Awesome. Thanks again for coming on.
Thanks so much for having me.
I hope you enjoyed our conversation. Again, Show Notes for this episode can be found at learntocodewith.me/podcast. There you can also find more information about Ben and links from the interview.
If you're listening to this episode in the future, simply click the Search icon in the upper navigation of the site and type in Ben's name is spelled like this B-E-N and the last name is H-A-L-P-E-R. While you're there, make sure to download my 10 free tips for teaching yourself how to code. You can find them right on the homepage at learn to code with.me. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode and I'll see you next week.
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 1:12
Laurence Bradford 1:42
Ben Halpern 1:45
Laurence Bradford 1:47
Ben Halpern 1:52
Laurence Bradford 2:10
Ben Halpern 2:31
Laurence Bradford 3:37
Ben Halpern 3:43
Laurence Bradford 4:14
Ben Halpern 4:45
Ben Halpern 5:13
Laurence Bradford 5:56
Laurence Bradford 6:22
Ben Halpern 6:27
Laurence Bradford 7:13
Ben Halpern 7:26
Laurence Bradford 8:18
Laurence Bradford 9:05
Ben Halpern 10:03
Laurence Bradford 11:07
Ben Halpern 11:21
Ben Halpern 12:04
Laurence Bradford 13:07
Laurence Bradford 13:40
Ben Halpern 14:43
Laurence Bradford 15:40
Ben Halpern 16:02
Ben Halpern 16:44
Laurence Bradford 16:51
Laurence Bradford 17:31
Laurence Bradford 17:57
Laurence Bradford 18:30
Laurence Bradford 18:43
Laurence Bradford 19:35
Ben Halpern 20:11
Laurence Bradford 20:16
Ben Halpern 20:35
Ben Halpern 21:36
Laurence Bradford 22:06
Laurence Bradford 22:27
Ben Halpern 22:48
Ben Halpern 23:46
Laurence Bradford 24:24
Ben Halpern 24:58
Laurence Bradford 25:00
Ben Halpern 25:25
Laurence Bradford 25:52
Ben Halpern 26:39
Laurence Bradford 27:25
Ben Halpern 27:32
Laurence Bradford 27:53
Ben Halpern 28:25
Laurence Bradford 28:46
Ben Halpern 29:02
Ben Halpern 29:30
Laurence Bradford 30:13
Laurence Bradford 30:59
Ben Halpern 31:54
Laurence Bradford 33:26
Laurence Bradford 33:55
Ben Halpern 34:42
Laurence Bradford 35:36
Ben Halpern 35:47
Laurence Bradford 36:16
Ben Halpern 36:19
Laurence Bradford 36:26
Laurence Bradford 36:40
- You can be a successful programmer even if you think programming isn’t for people like you or you’ve failed to learn to code before.
- As an entrepreneur, being able to program makes everything a million times more possible.
- Even small projects that you start for fun can turn into successful businesses.
- Recognize your weak areas, and focus on the things you’re good at instead. Team up with people who can fill in the gaps.
- Create the projects you want to exist in the world. Make sure they’re projects you’d be happy to work on even if they took years to complete.
- To come up with ideas for projects, think about your other interests and ask yourself how you can bring those passions to other people.
- You don’t need to have everything figured out before you begin a project; start with the foundations and go from there.
Links and mentions from the episode:
- The Practical Dev on Twitter @ThePracticalDev
- Make A Diff
- S2E6: Coding Bootcamp to Microsoft (and Beyond) with Saron Yitbarek
- Ben on Twitter @bendhalpern
Thanks for listening!
Thanks so much for tuning in! Remember, you can listen to the Learn to Code With Me podcast on the following platforms:
If you have a few extra minutes, please rate and review the show in iTunes. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful when it comes to the ranking of the show. I would really, really appreciate it!
Special thanks to this episode’s sponsors
FreshBooks: FreshBooks is excited to announce the launch of an all new freelancer-friendly version of their accounting software. To claim an unrestricted 30-day free trial, just go to freshbooks.com/learntocode and enter LEARN TO CODE WITH ME in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section.