I don’t know how anyone admires me… I’m a perpetually burned-out failure who can never seem to get his shit far enough off the ground to actually help the rest of the world.
I said those words to a confidante the other day. Yeah, I hear you. This is a weird way to start out a pitch for coaching services.
How about this story: I piloted airplanes before I could drive, started my full-time software engineering career at 18, saw my code deployed at air-traffic control centers, raised children, worked in a dozen-odd programming languages, led teams, hosted podcasts, launched a business that has kept me boss-free for over a decade, wrote books and sold thousands of copies, keynoted software conferences around the world, taught thousands of developers to code more gracefully, and became friends with many of my personal heroes. Also, once at summer camp I won a pencil for having the longest eyelashes.
That story is true too.
The point is, everyone feels like less than nothing sometimes. Everyone feels lost and adrift sometimes. It can happen at a point when everything has fallen apart. Or it can happen when we accomplish all the goals someone else set out for us, and we’re not sure where to go next.
And then again, sometimes we just misplace a curly brace. Either way, an outside perspective and a listening ear can be helpful.
I’m not a professional coach. I’m not a therapist. I am not a hustle bro with surfing photos on my timeline. Hell, I’m not even happy most of the time. Mental illness / neurodivergence on the depressive spectrum can be a real pain in the brain.
What I am is a guy who has received an improbable number of emails from people saying “you changed my life”. I don’t fully understand why that is, and that’s kind of the point. We can’t know ourselves alone. A person is a person through other people.
I don’t have a miracle system, or even a lot of answers, but I come up with some useful questions sometimes.
What I offer
In the past I’ve pitched my one-on-one consulting services primarily as technical coaching: pair-programming, code review, that sort of thing. I’m still more than happy to help with requests of that nature. But I’m also opening my door to a much broader range of career and direction coaching.
Stuff I’m open to working with you on includes:
- Tech Career Coaching: I’ve been navigating this
corporate hellscapeexciting industry for a while. I’m not saying I have a road map. But I’ve weighed working at 800lb gorillas of tech vs joining small and scrappy teams; I’ve taken myself indie; I’ve stared down corporate HR and demanded they put their promises in writing. Let’s talk through the decisions ahead.
- Technical Communication Coaching: If there’s one thing I have opinions about, it’s how to effectively convey information to your team, your juniors, your peers, and the larger tech world. Whether you want feedback and help on an internal training program, a tech talk, a screencast, or on your API documentation, I’m here for it.
- Lifestyle Business Guidance: OK real talk, I kinda hate the term “lifestyle business” almost as much as I hate “hustle”. But I turned my banana stand into a full-time job, and I’m happy to talk you through some of the pros, cons, paths, and pitfalls.
- Testing and Refactoring Skills: I’m kind of a test-driven-design nut, but I also take an organic and non-dogmatic approach to writing tests. Over the years quite a few clients have really enjoyed working on their testing and refactoring chops with me.
- Pair-Programming and Tutoring: Let’s work through a problem together. These sessions can also be as much about how to pair-program as they are about the task at hand. I’ve talked to a lot of people who had minimal pairing experience, or only bad experiences, and wanted to better understand how to pair well.
- Code or Architecture Review especially if the code is in Ruby.
- Show Me Something Cool: I realize not everyone is gonna want to pay me to show me something… but maybe you want some feedback on a product, tool, technique, or library and I looooove hearing about what people are excited about!
- Vent Session / Hand-Holding: Ideally you have friends for this, but maybe lacking friends is what you need to vent about. I’m a pretty good listener, and once you’ve spilled your angst we can talk about concrete steps to get the community that you (and everyone) needs.
- Try to hire me: As a matter of principle—and in order to set a precedent for less-privileged devs having their time and emotional energy abused by poor hiring practices—I don’t interview for free. You probably won’t succeed: I’m picky and I rather like being my own boss. But we’ll both probably learn something, and who knows, something mutually beneficial might fall out of the meeting!
Types of Session
I offer a few forms of coaching sessions:
1) (New) async coaching via voice message
These days I spend a lot of time trading asynchronous voice messages with my friends and loved ones, and I think this could work well for coaching as well. It fits into the cracks in busy days, and gives us a chance think on a response and compose our thoughts.
The way this will work: we’ll add each other on either Signal or WhatsApp. Over the course of a roughly a week, we’ll trade a few voice messages a day. I’ll shoot for a time commitment roughly equivalent to a 45-minute session, but spread out to fit with our lives and to let us reflect.
2) A 45-minute video call
My therapist sees me for 45-minute sessions, and that feels like the right amount of time to get beyond the pleasantries and have a meaningful conversation.
3) A two-hour pairing session
These are intended for tackling more technical work. I’ve done a lot of ad-hoc remote pair programming over the years, and two hours seems to be the sweet spot for getting something real done without getting exhausted.
You pay what you want. Yes, really. Name your price based on what you can afford, and what the service is worth to you. For reference, my normal consulting base rate is $250/hr.
Stuff people have said about my coaching
Having discussions with Avdi about uncharted subjects was a wonderful experience. His expertise and guidance allowed me to comprehend them more easily and efficiently from the very beginning.
Avdi is great at coaching humans. He listens better than practically anyone and he sees things in people they didn’t know they had. If you ever appreciated a talk I gave at a conference, thank Avdi; he saw my very first talk and said “you can do more of this and you should, I’ll help.” He did and I did.
I was really struggling with the Big Question of being a super-senior developer: Build a business of my own? Stick with my job? Become a consultant? Find a different job or role? I started to chase all of these, and so I made progress on none of them. And I was getting increasingly frustrated about it.
Working with Avdi helped guide my thinking. In a short conversation, he was not only able to help me find the confidence and clarity I needed, but was able to talk about each of the different possibilities in enough detail that, even after my personal situation changed, it was perfectly obvious which new path I should take.
More than anything else, Avdi helped me understand what I’d be best at and what would make me happiest, and which directions would likely make me unhappy. That’s knowledge I’ll be able to fall back on, no matter what comes next.
I had a pair programming session with you a couple of years ago around a gem I was working on at the time and you were incredibly helpful and thoughtful and I really enjoyed it.
What I get from this
If you’re still here it’s because you value an honest, no-horseshit conversation. So let’s be clear about why I’m doing this:
- Because I need the money. I support a lot of humans, and that’s expensive, and sometimes my core business isn’t enough to pay all the bills. Given the option, I prefer to make up the slack working with individual people rather than with corporate consulting.
- Because it gives my life purpose and meaning. Every time I start working with people individually again, I’m reminded of how much it lifts me up.
- Because it seems to be part of my dharma, and arguing with your dharma never ends well.
What’s the catch on “pay what you want”?
There’s no catch, other than a) a minimum of $20; and b) this offer being limited to first-time/one-off meetings in limited timeslots. If you decide you want an ongoing engagement, or need more flexibility in scheduling, we can negotiate that separately.
What are your qualifications?
Life, man. You can read some nice things people have said about me and my work over here.
What if I can’t make it to my session, or the cat eats my internet cable right in the middle of it
Life happens. I’ll make sure you’re re-booked to get the balance of your time.