173 : Grit, Faith, and Humor (Season 3 Kickoff)

Season 3 officially kicks off with a special premiere episode! Our incredible hosts Zach and Ade spend some time catching up and talking about what they did over the holidays, and they also chat about a few things to get excited for in the upcoming season. More features, more profiles, more highlights – there’s a lot to look forward to in the future! This show’s a two-in-one, so be sure to listen to the whole episode. Ade graciously shares some very impactful content that she recorded themed around her career journey and eventual job offer, so you don’t want to miss it.

Click here to read the piece Zach mentioned titled “Democracy Grief is Real.”


Zach: Yearrrrrp. What’s going on, everybody? It’s Season–oh, my gosh. 1, 2… Season 3.

A ghost: Sure is.

Zach: More fire for your head top, and welcome back. Is that a ghost? Is that–

A ghost: [whispering] “From the past, from the past, from the past…”

Zach: From the past? Oh, my gosh. Y’all, welcome back Ade.

[kids applause, then our hosts imitate air horns]

Zach: Man, wow. Listen, it is 2020. It’s 2020. Isn’t that nuts? It’s 2020. You know, I definitely want to say though, you know, I’ve missed you. Y’all know. Y’all have probably noticed that Ade has not been in the podcast regularly, hasn’t been around, you know. Breaking my heart quite frankly, you know what I’m saying? I cried. You know? I was sad.

Ade: [laughing] Like… okay. All right, sir.

Zach: I’m just thankful. I’m happy that you’re here, you know? Season 3 is gonna be crazy, right? We have a lot of stuff going on. We have, you know, More profiles and highlights from, you know, different companies. You know, we’ve had Accenture on, we’ve had the Coalition of Black Excellence on. We got some other conversations and things that we’re cooking up, but nothing to share just yet, you know? We are working on a book. That’s right, that’s right. More to come on that later, but I’m just kind of throwing some teasers out there. We’ve got some other media that we’re gonna be experimenting with this year. I’m really excited about that. And then, you know, we’ve got–what else, man? We’ve got, you know, Ade’s–I’m not gonna step on Ade. So she has some content that we’re gonna get into that she recorded as she gets into the next stage of her professional career and journey, but I’ma give her space to talk about that in a second. Before we go there though, let’s talk about the holiday season. What did you do?

Ade: Oh, God. What did I do? I–uh, I slept.

Zach: Turn up.

Ade: I ate.

Zach: Yeah.

Ade: And I twisted my ankle.

Zach: How?

Ade: I don’t even want to get into it. [both laugh]

Zach: Oh, no. [laughing] Okay. Um…

Ade: The point remains. I survived. I survived the holiday season. I spent some time with my loved ones. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned my nephews on here before, but I have two nephews, one who loves me and one [who] hates me. But, you know, thanks be to God. The one who hates me now loves me and he wants to spend time with me on a regular basis now.

Zach: Children are a fickle beast, man.

Ade: They are so terrible. They are unruly, and they are tyrants. [both laughing] But we love them anyway.

Zach: Man, we do. I have a nephew. He is adorable. Goodness, gracious. He’s adorable, but it’s like–and I just realized I guess I should go ahead and drop the news. Sheesh, I’m talking about kids. Well, first of all, let me say this first. So I have a nephew. He is adorable. But he’s a boy, right? And if I just–he’s just gonna get away with everything if I babysit him ’cause he’s just too cute, but he’s mischievious. Like, he’s a cute little mischievious kid, but I’m just not–and I’m just not tough enough, ’cause he’s too cute. He’s too cute, you know? Now, if y’all have ugly kids, like, bring ’em over. I’ll be a great disciplinarian. But if your kid’s cute–

Ade: What?!

[record scratch sfx]

Zach: [laughing] Nah, ain’t no such thing as ugly kids. Children are a blessing, and it’s awesome, and actually it’s with that in mind, you know, I actually have some news, you know what I’m saying, I’d like to share. You know, if anybody follows me on Instagram–which y’all don’t, ’cause my follower count is not that booming like that and I haven’t posted on Living Corporate, but my wife and I are expecting our first child.

Ade: Ayeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Zach: A little girl. Very excited, you know what I’m saying? [ow sfx]

Ade: You know, I just wanted to say that Ade makes a really great first name for baby girls. I’m just saying. Putting it out there.

Zach: [inhales, then plays a laughing sound effect]

Ade: Whoa! [both laughing] Whoa, what’s with the personal attacks? Like…

Zach: Oh, my gosh. Shout-out to my wife, my spouse, my queen, my rib, you know what I’m saying, Candis. Doing all the hard work, you know? I–you know, listen… I put in the work, you know what I mean, but I’m not really carrying the load, you know what I’m saying? So air horns for her. [air horns sfx] You know what I’m saying? Just really appreciate her. You said you ate, but you talked about some food–so what did you eat? Like, what was your favorite thing?

Ade: God, that’s a good question. I absolutely could go back in, like, my memory bank and take a look at these photos that I took of my [?] plates.

Zach: All right. Pull those up, ’cause I know for me–like, and shout-out to my grandmother-in-law. She made all types of vittles. They were delicious. [Ade laughs, making Zach laugh] And shout-out to my wife–

Ade: Did you just say vittles?

Zach: I did say vittles. I’m trying to bring vittles back in 2020.

Ade: Why are you so old?

Zach: Think about the last time–like, we have not, our parents have not, perhaps our grandparents are the last generation that use the word vittles casually.

Ade: Right, and I think that’s for good reason and we should leave that term there.

Zach: It’s SO old. Vittles, dawg? It’s so, so, so, SO old.

Ade: Kind of like you. We know.

Zach: Kind of like me, that’s right. I’m a whole 30 out here.

Ade: That’s wild.

Zach: I know, right? ‘Cause you just turned, like, 19.

Ade: …Um, first of all, 16, thank you very much.

Zach: [laughs] No, not 16. Nope, nope, nope. There’s no creep life around here. Nope, you are 24, right? Or 25?

Ade: I am 25.

Zach: Congratulations on turning 25.

Ade: 25.

Zach: I was gonna say–I was in the middle of my shout-outs and my thanks before you rudely called me old. So my grandmother-in-law and then my wife made some incredible bread pudding. She made bread pudding with crossiants and then didn’t use buttermilk for the cream, instead used–what’d she use? Egg nog just because she ran out of butter and was like, “Eh, it’s kind of the same.” That egg nog was HITTING. I said, “Yo, what is this?” I mean, it got ate up. Shout-out to my sister-in-law Holly. She made some incredible mac ‘n cheese. And Holly–listen, man, shout-out to Holly, man. She is cool people. Sister-in-law, you know? I definitely consider her a Bucky, you know what I’m saying, in this space of allyship and war and fighting for equity and justice for underrepresented people. And you know how I know Holly is an ally? And I haven’t told her this, so if she listens to this podcast it’ll be her first time hearing this. [Ade laughs] I knew that she was an ally–first of all she’s an ally off top, ’cause, I mean, come on. She’s been down. She’s been doing this. But a reminder of her allyship–’cause this is not the determinant, ’cause she’s be an ally off of a bunch of other stuff–a reminder of her allyship, she was making macaroni and cheese, and she baked the macaroni and cheese, and I said, “I knew it, dawg. I knew it.”

Ade: [laughs] I…

Zach: No, let me tell you something. She has never–she has yet to let me down. She holds it down, bro. She holds it down.

Ade: You are so incredibly canceled. I can’t.

Zach: [laughing] Shout-out to Holly, my sister-in-law. Shout-out to all of my allies out there. And if you call yourself an ally and you’re not baking your macaroni and cheese, you are not an ally, dawg.

Ade: We don’t know you in these streets.

Zach: We do not know you in these streets if you do not bake your macaroni and cheese. Bake it. It is not done until it’s baked.

Ade: Because I don’t–what are you doing? You are serving undercooked food.

Zach: What are you doing here? What are you doing here? You’re giving me these wet, hot noodles? Bake it.

Ade: That don’t even sound right.

Zach: It don’t. How something wet hot–come on, relax. So anyway, but man, let me tell you something. The highlight, from a cuisine perspective, was when my uncle Marvin brought in these pecan candies. My goodness. Listen, I said [blessings come in sfx]. Boy, the bless–boy, ooh. Too good.

Ade: [laughing] What is your problem? Man.

Zach: Bro. Man, let me tell you something. And everybody got their own little bag. Handed me that bag, I said [Kawhi what it do baby sfx, laughing]

Ade: All right. So you are just starting 2020 off on all types of foolishness. All right, heard you.

Zach: Listen, man, I’m over here–I’m so excited, ’cause you ain’t been around for a while, but see, since you’ve been gone, we’ve been using this soundboard. And I’ma share the soundboard–

Ade: I can tell.

Zach: Oh, listen. The soundboard is heat rock. [owww sfx] You know? I just really enjoy it quite a bit. So let me think about this. You still haven’t talked about the food that you ate.

Ade: Oh, yeah. I have been really on, like, a smoky kick lately, so I had, like–I made macaroni and cheese but with all smoked cheeses, and it was just–

Zach: ‘Cause you like cheese like that. We talked about this. Like, were you just introduced to cheese recently?

Ade: Yes, I was very, very recently, like a year ago, introduced to cheese. I have discovered that I’m still quite lactose intolerant. Like, my ancestors were not with the lactose tip, but you know what? I’ma take my chances. I had my smoked mac ‘n cheese, and I had it with the best collard greens I’ve ever made in all of my life. When I drizzled that little bit of just maple syrup right on it with that smoked turkey stock, I was just kind of like…

Zach: Goodness, gracious!

Ade: God loves me.

Zach: Oh, He does. That’s true.

Ade: Like, this is–this is proof of the existence of the divine, and that dude loves me–or dudette, you know? Non-binary–

Zach: Yes. You know, it’s funny because, you know, you and I are sitting here, right? It was a crazy year. A lot of stuff going on. You know, things that we can share in time throughout Season 3. We’re talking about physical health, mental health, emotional health, financial health, right? Career personal or professional development. It’s interesting because, like–I don’t know, man, and I’m kind of jumping all around ’cause I’m so excited. I’m excited for you to be here, but I’m excited just to, like, kick off this season, and so, like, this is, like, a loosey–like, we don’t have a formatted, you know, interview or anything like that. We’re just chopping it up, welcoming Ade back all the way, but I don’t know, man. It’s just been a lot, and it’s just interesting because we were creating content for Living Corporate, and at the same time we were–you know, it was helping us while we were helping other people, you know what I’m saying? So let’s do this. Like we said before, you have something that you already had, like, created and recorded that I think would be really helpful for us to put in on this episode, so why don’t we talk a little bit about that and then we’ll transition to that?

Ade: Awesome.

Zach: So talk to me about, like, what was it? Like, I know we talked about–like, your journey, you’ve had some updates in your life and what you’ve been doing professionally and personally. Like, what was it that we’re gonna be listening to in a minute?

Ade: Yep. I’m just gonna take a sip of my mimosa, because I just feel really good about where I am right now spiritually, so…

Zach: There you go.

Ade: [clears throat] La la la la. All right, y’all. So your girl is officially a junior software engineer. [champagne popping sfx] Pop! [laughs] Yeah, no. I started my new position as a junior software engineer, and it’s honestly been surreal, my entire experience. I applied for a job, got a call back almost instantaneously. So I made it through the first call, the phone screening with the recruiter, and then I had a technical interview, and then I had an in-person interview that was also sort of technical, and then I had a job offer. And all of that took the span of a week and a half. I literally applied to the job on a Wednesday. The Friday after that–like, the week after that, on Friday, I had the job offer in my hand, and I actually had a competing job offer to move to Boston at the time. So it was–it honestly was an incredibly surreal experience. I went from there were days I would literally wake up to, like, five, six, seven, eight letters of rejection in my email first thing in the morning, and I would like to kind of explore a little bit further the toll that job searching takes on your mental health, because there’s–there were certainly days when I would literally just feel dejected. In a society where you are kind of graded–not just graded, your worth is judged off of, you know, in relation to you and relation to your humanity, how much are you worth within a capitalistic system? And my job at the time was incredibly toxic. I felt dejected pretty much every single day waking up, but that wasn’t the end of it, and I am so glad it wasn’t. And it was, you know, thanks to people like you, people like my best friend Kendall, people like Liz, who really, like, affirmed me, because I have a tendency to internalize situations and, you know, look for ways in which these things were my fault. And I remember even having a conversation with Liz where she literally said, “These are all symptoms of an emotionally abusive relationship,” and I’m like, “How do you have an emotionally abusive relationship with your job?” [laughs] But that’s entirely real. It’s a real thing, and just being able to step back from all of that and literally, like, wash my hands off at the end of the year and never have to speak to those people again or never have to be in a situation in which I feel as though I’m compromising my mental health for the sake of I have to take care of my family and I have to protect what’s mine… yeah, you guys are gonna hear a whole lot more of that as the episode continues, but I’m nothing short of eternally grateful for the fact that 2019 is over, but it’s over and I took it like a G.

Zach: Yo, and shout-out to you for that. [both laugh] Yo, 2019 was hard.

Ade: 2019 whooped my ass, okay? But you know what? I whooped it back.

Zach: Listen, 2019 was–2019 was coming from your boy’s neck, okay? It was like, “We’re coming for you, sucka.” It’s like, “My gosh, leave me alone, 2019. What y’all doing?” But you’re right though, and you know what? Look, it’s a new year.

Ade: Yep. New me.

Zach: Yeah, it’s a new year. New spaces, new mindsets. You know, new opportunities and just space to reset and really get bcak on it, right? Like, I’m hoping that most of us were able to take some time away for the holidays so we could come back at least somewhat refreshed for a new year, a new decade. You know, a lot of people have been saying new decade and stuff, but let’s just take every day as a blessing that it’s a new day, right? Like, you may not see 2030, right? But you have–if you’re listening to this right now, you have this day today. And so just being excited about that. Let’s see here. We’re gonna transition over there. Before we do that, Ade, is there anything else that we need to talk about?

Ade: I do want to make a quick note about–so we’re currently in a time of upheaval. I’m not gonna make too much reference to that, I just want to kind of make the point–well, two points, one that we don’t lose sight of humanity as a whole in trying to protect our daily reality, and two that you don’t let whatever’s happening in the news cycle sway you off of the intentions that you’ve set for this year. You set those intentions for a reason. You set those goals, whatever that you did, for a reason, and hopefully you are recognizing all the ways in which the news cycle could be causing any number of anxious or negative thoughts or anything like that, but I do want you to be able to step back, and by you I mean the entire Living Corporate family. Be able to recognize when you are stuck in a feedback loop of negative thoughts, negative news, negative content, and kind of find your way back to your center, because as long as there is a world out there, there is always going to be negativity to feed into, but don’t let your 2020 start off with that. We literally just kicked 2019’s butt. 2020, let’s focus more on our communities. Let’s focus on our mental health and smashing our goals.

Zach: Yo, amen to that, you know what I’m saying? Like, I super agree. [Ade snapping in the background, laughing] And, you know, I think what you’re speaking to also is, like–so you talked about upheaval. That reminds me of two things. One, I just read this article–and I’ll put it in the show notes–called Democracy Grief is Real, and it’s an opinion piece from the New York Times, which is, like–we can talk about the New York Times at a separate time, but this particular piece was very good, and just talking about the toll, the mental and emotional toll, that the world’s events has taken on you. Like, just being more and more aware of, like, systemic injustices, oppression and, like, blatant unethical behaviors, like, just the impact that it has on you just living, right? Just you seeing that, what does it do to you? And I think, you know, to that point, like, I’m really excited because this season, we’re gonna be talking about real structural inequity. We’re gonna be talking about–like, we’re really gonna be calling out white supremacy and patriarchy and privilege and access and holding people, institutions of power, to account when it comes to how they can better support and create more equitable places for black and brown folks, for underrrepresented folks, for non- straight white able-bodied men to work and to exist and to live, you know? I think 2020 is gonna be a really interesting decade in that you have, like–I think that there’s a certain level of consciousness that, like, people are waking up to. I don’t think there’s gonna be some great revival or anything like that, so don’t misquote me, but I do think that, like, certain things are coming to a head. I do think that, like, when you talk about diversity, equity and inclusion work, there just is gonna be less and less space for, like, the corporatized, white-washed talk tracks that we typically hear. I think that–I just don’t see those things surviving. I think that, like, technology and just access is changing for black and brown folks to the point where–and this generation, like, they’re just not gonna stay. Like, they’re just not gonna stay and put up with being mistreated. And we’ve seen it already. Like, we’ve seen it. First of all, this is not a new phenomenon. We’ve seen this since–we’ve seen this from the jump, for black folks at least, but just for all oppressed groups in America, eventually there’s going to be resistance, and I just think that that’s bubbling up into these very, like, corporate spaces too, and so I’m excited because some of the guests that we have this season are really gonna be getting into that, really giving, like, really honest and approachable at the same time advice on what leaders can be doing to either disrupt or dismantle systems that have historically disadvantaged black and brown folks, underrepresented folks, and I’m just really excited about that. Like, we had a few people hit me up last season, Ade, like, kind of salty about, like, the content.

Ade: Really?

Zach: Yeah, just a little bit. Like, just a little.

Ade: Why though?

Zach: Why? Well, they were like–they just felt like some of it was a little too–a little too honest, a little too black, you know what I’m saying? But–

Ade: May I address that real quick?

Zach: Go ahead. [laughing]

Ade: Ah, let me lubricate my throat. [clears throat] ~Kick rocks.~

Zach: [laughs] There are folks who want to do diversity, equity and inclusion, but they’re trying to figure out a way to do it without, like, offending white folks or offending the people in the majority, so–

Ade: Which I don’t understand. I don’t believe your sincerity as someone who professes that–and I recently saw a tweet, and I wish I could quote my source, but I saw someone say “Switch the D in DE&I from Diversity to Decolonization.”

Zach: Oooooooh!

Ade: Fire.

Zach: That–wait, hold–what? Yo, that is–

Ade: Fire. Fire.

Zach: No, that is–[Flex bomb sfx] That is fiiiiiiiireeeee. Are you kidding me? [air horns sfx] Switch the D from diversity to decolonization?

Ade: Bro, it literally changed for me the entire framework of DE&I, because if you were taking a liberation stance within the context of what a workplace environment needs to be, you are approaching that from the context of not only do we not care about your discomfort, we’re actually actively pursuing your discomfort because your discomfort is where your decolonization lies. Like, that’s where you’re going to address all of the biases you have that you’ve had the privilege thus far of not having to confront. And not even your biases, but we’re, like, actively taking back space from you and giving voice to the people that have been deliberately silenced in these spaces. So again, the reason I say kick rocks is because, I mean, we’re decolonizing this space. This is a decolonized space, my accent aside, so we’re really not–[both laughing] Inside joke. So as far as I’m concerned, like, there’s no such thing as prioritizing the feelings of the oppressor over the oppressed. And yes, by default, if you are not the oppressed, you are the oppressor. That’s–

Zach: And this is a binary that we actually accept on Living Corporate, you know what I’m saying? You know, we affirm LGBTQIA+ identity, right? You know what I’m saying? We had content last season about being non-binary. Yo, that’s great though. I’m trying to find this tweet that you said. If you just made that up it’s still fire, but–

Ade: I swear I saw it on Twitter.

Zach: It’s just a great quote. I love that. I love that. But no, you’re absolutely right, and I think it’s interesting because when you hear some of the episodes–when y’all hear some of the episodes that, like, we have this upcoming season, it’s all about, like–like, these are people who are CEOs of, like, diversity, equity and inclusion firms. Like, they’re consultants. They’re executives. And I’m noticing there are certain, like, benchmarks around, like–you can kind of tell, like, kind of just where people are, but most people tie the diversity–they tie equity to justice, right? Like, when you talk about the true DE&I work in this space, it’s all about justice, and it’s interesting because I’ve seen, like, executives of, like, major corporations talk about–there was a recent article from Harvard Business Review about creating, like, black equity at work, and I was like, “Look, y’all are retweeting that. Consider what this means before y’all start saying you want equity at work.” Equity at work means, like, a certain level of, like, right-sizing (?) and really, like, restorative behaviors that, like, America hasn’t even, like, grasped onto yet. So, like, the concept of equity when it’s truly driven to, like, its–like, when it’s really grasped is, like, radical. Like, that’s a radical thing to propose, and it would disrupt and disassemble so many things that have been longstanding, that have been comforting, to those in the majority, and so anyway… my whole point is that, like, I’m looking forward to, like, scaring myself with the content that we’re putting out this season. I don’t want to make–I don’t want to pull any punches. I’m just excited about this season. So if you’re listening to this and you’re passionate about being seen, being heard, you’re underrepresented, or you’re an advocate, an ally of the underrepresented at work, and you’d like to journey with us, you’d like to be on the show with us, just contact us through the website. I guess that’s it, you know? What we’re gonna do now is we’ll pivot over to Ade’s recording that she had, and this was last year, so if you hear any references that’s what that’s about, but we’re really excited for y’all to check that out. Ade, any parting words before we transition up out of here?

Ade: No, let’s just, in 2020, resolve to live our best lives, and I mean that in, like, the healthiest way possible. I’ve been guilty of using that phrase to justify the worst of my excesses [?] in the past, and no promises that I won’t do so again in 2020, but let’s resolve to, you know, prioritize our health, and our mental health in particular, and, you know, check in on your friends, because many, many, many of your friends are having a difficult time and don’t know how to say it, but I believe in the power of community, and I believe that we as a whole are capable of holding each other accountable, yes, but also really uplifting each other in ways that are awesome to behold. And I do mean that in the old school awesome–shout-out to Zach, you know, reviving the meanings of old words, but… [both laughing] Old school awesome in that, like, awe-inspiring [way]. But yeah, you’re listening to Living Corporate, y’all. [both laughing] Peace.

Zach: All right, y’all. Welcome to Season 3. Hope y’all stay around. Excited for y’all to come on this audio adventure with us this year, and we’ll catch y’all, shoot, next week. Peace.

Ade: Anybody these days who asks me how they can break into tech, how they can learn how to code, how any of those things, the very first thing you need to do is define your goal, set it, and then develop your roadmap, because otherwise you are literally going to be twisting in the wind because you have no idea where you’re going. There’s nothing worse than a nebulous understanding of what you want. If you start a journey, you have to know where you’re going. I mean, sure, you can do what I did and, like, get in the car and say, “I want to go somewhere,” and, like, find yourself stranded in the middle of Oklahoma… but, like, I wouldn’t advise that. Don’t do that. Do it the smart way.

Ade: What’s up, y’all? This is Ade. I just wanted to pop my head back in. It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve been around, and it’s been intentional. It was an intentional break. I had to–this has been a very difficult year for me, but also one of the best years of my life. I had to take a step back from a lot of things and really reassess, you know, my journey, my progress, and really where I’m trying to go with my life. That sounds like a lot. Good news, bad news. Bad news is, you know, I turned 25 and I still don’t know what I’m doing. [laughs] I still don’t truly know the meaning of life, my life, but, you know, it’s cool. I’m still defining that, building my parachute on the way down. Good news. Remember when I said I wanted to be an engineer? I did it! I got an official offer, and I will be starting in my role very, very soon. Your girl is officially a full stock software engineer – junior software engineer, but a software engineer nonetheless, and I just kind of wanted to share what went into all of this. It’s been nearly two years. Actually, it’s been two years since I decided that I was gonna do this, and it’s been I think the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and this episode is all about telling you how and why. This is Ade, and you’re listening to Living Corporate. In order to be successful, I have distilled all of the things that I’ve learned down to three key ingredients – grit, faith, and humor. So many of you have been following this podcast for a while, and you might not know, me, since I’ve been gone for such a long time, you may not know why I am where I am and what led me to deciding that I was gonna become a software engineer, and the story I always tell is that, you know, on the eve of my 23rd birthday I wrote 23 promises to myself, and the very first one was that I was gonna learn a new skill and I’d learn how to code. What a lot of you don’t know is that the reason I even got there in the first place is because I went through a really, really bad break-up–and this is gonna be, like, super vulnerable, and I am not gonna make eye contact with anybody who listens to this for, like, a solid year, because I don’t bare my soul this often. [laughs] Yeah, so I went through a really bad break-up, and it had me questioning, you know, myself, my self-worth, whether I was a good person, and it really, like, shook me to my core, and in the midst of this break-up, right before my birthday, I had gone to a workshop called Hear Me Code. It’s an organization now semi-defunct, but it’s led by a lady named Shannon Turner, who takes an afternoon and just teaches a whole bunch of women the basics of Python. And there are three levels. There’s Level 1, which is what I found myself in, and then you have Level 2, who are people who have already been to Level 1 who have the fundamentals and are trying to get a little bit better, and then you have Level 3, which is people who have been to both Level 1 and 2 or are more intermediate programmers and are, like, [?] projects and all of that, all of the other fun stuff. Now, into this little story is where I find myself. I went to this thing. I had dropped out of grad school. I was, again, in the middle of this, like, super toxic break-up, and I just needed to feel good about myself, and so I decided, “You know what? I’m gonna be spontaneous and I’m gonna do this thing.” And I had this old rinky-dink laptop. It took, like, 15 minutes to get started. And I didn’t know a thing about anything. My whole life up until this point had been political science and sociology and philosophy, and I consider myself a relatively cerebral person, but, like, not smart. Like, I was not–I didn’t consider myself in any way technical. I avoided math like my life depended on not knowing what, like, algebra was. It really–I defined myself as a person who was incapable of doing certain things, and programming would be one of those things, and so in this time when I found myself and my definition of myself unraveling, I needed to know that I was still capable of finding joy in the little things. So I went to this workshop, and I loved it. Like, my computer couldn’t, like, do anything, so I actually found myself on a website called Repl.it, and it’s basically, like, an online environment where you can write code and run it and see it work, and you don’t necessarily need to have, like, mastery over your terminal, you don’t need to concern yourself with anything that’s going on on the backend. You can literally just, like, print “hello world,” and it’ll print hello world, and it is a magical, magical place. And this was important because first it showed me the value of creating. Never considered myself a creative, but being able to be in a space where I was literally, like, forming whole things and commanding the computer to do something and it did it, I felt powerful. I felt like a magician. I thought, “You know what? I’m gonna learn how to code,” but then my computer died and I packed that up, and I didn’t really pick up programming again for several months after and then came the end of October. I had, you know, moved out of my apartment at the time. Again, this, like, really, really scary thing had happened to me with my ex, and I had moved home, and I felt like a failure, and I was, like, laying in a sleeping bag next to my mom’s bed, and I was up all night just, like, writing these promises to myself. I had sourced promises from other people, but the very first thing I could recall thinking was, like, “I want to be better. I want to be a better version of myself, and the gap between who I am now and the best version of myself can be bridged. I know it.” So I thought “You know what? I’m gonna challenge myself. I’m gonna make these promises, and I’m going to keep t hem, and I’m going to find 24-year-old Ade to be a better version than 23-year-old Ade, period. No questions about it. I’m not doing this again.” So I wrote those promises and I asked the people I love to hold me to them, and in the next year I moved out–like, I think three weeks after that I found another apartment, moved out to Alexandria, found a job that I really liked, and it all seemed to be coming together, but then my computer, the old rinky-dink computer, just died, and I didn’t have a whole lot of, like, personal time, so programming just kind of went by the wayside. Like, I would pick it up every once in a while, and I would complete a couple of sessions or a couple of lessons, and that’d be that, but then I applied for this Udacity scholership and I got it, which, if you know anything about me it’s that, like, I really don’t win things very often, which goes into the narrative that you tell yourself about yourself, right? About whether or not you’re a winner or whether or not you’re deserving, whether or not, like, this life thing is a thing that you can succeed at. And, like, as a side-bar, negative self-talk has been a thing for me as long as I can remember. I have never been the sort of person who wakes up in the morning and is like, “You can do this. You’re amazing. You’re awesome. You can take anything that life throws at you,” etc. A. I’m not a morning person, so, like, don’t talk to me until 11:00 a.m., and B. I just never had the voices in my head that were, like, super positive. Like, all the voices in my head were kind of assholes. Sorry to whoever’s listening to this and doesn’t like bad words, but they were, and so throughout this process I’ve actually learned that, like, affirmations are a huge, huge, huge thing for your mental health, and it’s something that I incorporate now into, like, my life. Like, affirmations. You need to hear yourself speaking well of yourself to yourself, and if you take nothing else from this podcast, take that. So we’re back in, what is this, 2018? Yeah. Is it 2018? I don’t think it’s 2018. What is this, 2019? The years melt together. Yeah, it is 2018 actually. So in 2018 I have this fantastic job, friends, and I meet somebody new, and everything is going swimmingly, but I’m not truly, like, learning at the pace that I should be, so I’m going to tell you about the very first mistake that I think I made out of–the biggest mistake I made, not the very first one, because whoo, there were many. There were many, they were varied, and they were huge. Now the very first mistake I made was that I let myself get distracted. Life is not a distraction. Joy is not a distraction. Being social, letting yourself love and be love is not a distraction. What is a distraction is when you create a goal for yourself and you do not take the necessary steps in order to get there. Now, there were times throughout this journey–and anybody who knows me can attest to this–where I’d work a full work day and I’d come home and work until 2, 3, 4, 5:00 a.m. in the morning even studying, or I’d wake up at 2:00 a.m. and study all the way through, get dressed, go to work, come back home, continue studying. And I’m not saying that that’s something that you have to do, I’m just saying that it’s what I did. Then there were days where for, like, weeks at a time, I would not pick up a book. I would not open my Udacity course. None of those things. And allowing yourself to be distracted in that way is doing yourself a disservice, not only because your brain relies on consistency–like, you literally need consistency in order to get anywhere, right? Like, sometimes we have this fantasy in our heads that, like, we’re smart, so all it’ll take is, like, the movie montage of, like, a week of studying something, then you’ll be perfect at it. But if you’ve ever heard of the tale of 10,000 hours, like… Lebron James and Gordon Ramsey and Insert Person Who Has A Mastery Of Their Art Here didn’t get where they got because they put in a week of work. It required constant effort and practice to attain perfection, and allowing myself to get distracted was so much more detrimental than the times in which I would go at something for hours at a time, simply because during the distractions are where your negative self-talk becomes the loudest, right? Like, when the voices in your head that are telling you you’re not capable of doing it, in that lull, that’s when they seem right, right? Like, you don’t do something correctly and you say, “Oh, my God. I’m never gonna amount to this lofty goal that I set for myself,” right? Then you procrastinate and then you walk away, and now you have one more goal unfulfilled. So if you take, yet again, nothing else from this podcast, consistency is key. So if you remember at the beginning of this conversation I said “grit, faith, and humor.” So grit is the concept that you are persistent, that you allow yourself to fail and you pick yourself up and you keep going. Actually, over the course of my studies I developed a mantra for myself because it got to be almost crippling, this fear that I had of failing, so I’m gonna read it to you guys. I hope it’s helpful. I hope you guys like it. So here’s my mantra: “This is why I’m here. I like succeeding at the difficult things. I like the win. I like the burning in my lungs and the adrenaline in my veins. I like the view from the top of the mountain and knowing I conquered. I am not a quitter. I do not lose. I will not be defeated by the gaps in my knowledge. I will not be defined by what I cannot do. I believe in my ability to make sense and wholeness out of the things that are new and scary. I will not be ruled by fear. Ever.” There were days where I would write that mantra out to myself over and over and over again on a pen and a pad of paper. I would type that out before I got started sometimes on my lessons. I would read it over and over and over at myself in the mirror. Because fundamentally, this thing that I’m doing where I’m trying to, like, shift the course of my life–and it felt like the weight of my whole family was on my shoulders–that’s scary. It’s intimidating. If you don’t have grit, it might crush you. And that goes for literally anything. For those of us who are underrepresented minorities, who are first-gen, who are the first in our families to attain a certain level of success, you know how scary that success is and the bare-knuckled grit that you have on everything to make sure that nothing falls and nothing fails. You have to let go of that. That fear is only keeping you from being the best version of yourself. By the way, this whole process didn’t turn me into, like, a motivational speaker either. So [laughs] if you want to, like, skip through half of this, that’s totally okay. I’m not taking offense. All right, so I told you why you need grit. Now why do you need faith? Faith got me through the worst of what grit couldn’t. After I got to a place where, you know, I had done all of the things that people say that you need to do–you learn the fundamentals, and then you learn the framework, then you build projects, build more projects, build a portfolio, build more projects–after I did all that I started applying. I applied to internships. I applied to externships. I applied to jobs in Poland. I applied to jobs in Iceland. I applied to jobs that would require me to live in places where it’s -20 degrees on a regular-degular-schmegular day, and I don’t know if you know me, but I’m African, and we don’t do that. [laughs] And every single time I got, like, a “No, thank you. Sorry, but no thank you. We have decided to move on to other candidates at this time. Best of luck.” One that actually really shattered me–I got all the way through a lot of the screening questions, and this company that shall not be named sent me a link to a personality quiz. And I took it. I was like, “Okay, cool. Whatever.” And then they sent me an email back like, “Sorry, your personality is not best-suited for my company.” I’m like, “Wow. My whole personality, fam? My whole personality is not best-suited to be a software engineer? Bet.” But I had faith, right? Like, you reach a plateau once you have done the work and you’ve put in the effort and you’ve put in your blood, sweat, and tears–I actually bled once. Long story. Don’t want to talk about it. [laughs]–and yes, there were lots and lots of tears, but once you get there there’s a certain faith that you have, right? And it helps when you have people around you who keep you keeping the faith. For me, I had my best friend. My best friend is also a self-taught developer, and it’s really uncanny, but we’re the same person. He has, like, 8 years on me, but we are genuinely, like, the same person. It is so odd. We have the exact same reactions to things, the same mentality, but he’s a better version, right? Like, he’s had 8 years to hone his craft. And the level of dedication and will that he showed, I had to level up. I had to match that level of intensity, and when I ever felt like I couldn’t do it, he always came through with a pep talk. Before my very last interview where I got this position, I will never forget. I was on my way to my interview, and he literally said, “You’re not looking for a job to be a developer. You are a developer. You’re just looking for a chance to prove it.” And that confidence I think showed up in my interview, because I have never spoken so confidently about MPC controllers. [laughs] I’ve never spoken so confidently about use-state hooks in my life. And that faith that I had that everything was gonna work out, I keep that still, right? Like, ever since I got the position, I’ve had the recurring thoughts of “What if I get there and I flame out? What if they rescind their offer three days before I get there?” You know, any number of, like, worst-case scenarios, and I now have this new voice–super quiet, but it’s there–that’s saying, “Bro, you’ll be okay. The same way you got that job is the same way that if anything happens to that job you’ll get another, because you’ve done the work. You’ve done the work and you’ve gotten this far. Doesn’t matter what anybody else says now.” So last thing you’ll need is a sense of humor. You may have heard me chuckling a few times, and that’s because I remember the number of days where I literally would have to get up in the middle of my studies and have a dance break. I would reward myself with dance breaks, whether or not my code was actually working, because I felt that because all of this was so heavy and because I needed to tap into my, like, inner wells of grit and strength that I did not have before I started this process–trust me, I was a wilting flower in the sun before any of this got started, and I’m still a wilting flower in the sun in a lot of ways, but–levity and humor are so underrated, because it literally lightens your spirit, right? Like, finding a way to find a way to laugh will take you far, not only because it shows that, like, you’re still here, like, the core of your personality has not changed, it also shows that, like, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. You might feel like you’re going through the crucible of your life at this point, but at the end of it life is still what you make it, right? And I just laugh through things. I choose to find the levity and find the joy and find the light and hold onto it, and that’s all I’m gonna say about that. In whatever ways you find humor and find joy, I encourage you to hold onto that. So now some actionable tips, because I’ve just been giving you the feels. [laughs] Some real things that you can actually do if you want to be a developer. #1: Set a goal. That was the very first mistake that I made. I said, “I want to learn how to code.” I didn’t say, “I want to learn how to be a front-end developer or a back-end developer or a full-stack developer or a DevOps engineer.” If you don’t know what any of those things are, good. Go look them up. Anybody these days who asks me how they can break into tech, how they can learn how to code, how any of those things, the very first thing you need to do is define your goal, set it, and then develop your roadmap, because otherwise you are literally going to be twisting in the wind because you have no idea where you’re going. There’s nothing worse than a nebulous understanding of what you want. If you start a journey, you have to know where you’re going. I mean, sure, you can do what I did and, like, get in the car and say, “I want to go somewhere,” and, like, find yourself stranded in the middle of Oklahoma… but, like, I wouldn’t advise that. Don’t do that. Do it the smart way. Define what you actually want to do. Sometimes you might, like, look up what front-end developers do and be like, “Yeaaaaaaaah, no. How about I go into cybersecurity?” Like, it’s an entire about-face, which is why you need to–it’s a good thing to do to define the parameters. It also helps you know when you have succeeded, right? A lot of the fear that I had when I first started to apply to positions was that, like, I don’t know that I’m a developer yet, right? I don’t know that I’m good enough to apply to places, and that’s because I never defined for myself what it means to be good enough to apply to places, right? There are places that will take you when you are, like, an unformed ball of Play-Do and fashion a developer out of you, and then there are places that want you to show up as Michelangelo’s David and then, and only then, will they give you a position in the company, and then there are places that are vastly varied in-between and you have to figure out what it means to, like, throw your dart at one of those places in-between or, you know, whatever end of the spectrum you want to live in, and know that you’re able to get into those doors. Set a goal. #2: It is okay to reassess or change your mind. When I first got started, I said, “I’m gonna be a front-end developer.” Actually, no, I said, “I’m gonna be a full-stack developer,” and then I said, “I want to be a blockchain engineer.” And then I said, “I don’t want to do this at all actually. Never mind. I change my mind.” And then I said, “You know what? Being a full-stack engineer sounds good. How about I do that?” You can do that, just make sure it all goes back to #1. Make sure that once you’ve changed your mind, once you’ve reassessed, once you’ve course-corrected, you still set a goal and define for yourself what it means to have reached it. Cool. #3: Learn from others. I cannot stress this enough. Learn from others. Learn. Learn from others. Quick ASMR for your head top. Learn from others. It’s important. A. This is an industry, tech in general, that is far more collaborative than you might think it is. If the idea you have of hackers in your head is the person who’s, like, in a basement somewhere and frantically, like, typing on their keyboard and I don’t understand how they haven’t broken their keyboard, but they’re frantically typing and you see a whole bunch of, like, green letters and numbers on their screen, and it’s great, and then, like, five seconds after they stop typing–[Ade types frantically]–“Got it! I’m in.” Yeah, no. That’s… no. If I’m typing that furiously, it’s because I’m looking around on StackOverflow trying to figure out where I went wrong. There are whole communities on Reddit, StackOverflow, Free Code Camp, which are geared towards helping you not sit and look for six hours for an answer to a question that 100 million people have also spent six hours searching for an answer to. Like, you literally can go to StackOverflow or, like, type out whatever your error is, and then at the end of your error type “StackOverflow,” and I can almost guarantee you–like, you’re not the first person to break whatever it is that you broke. There is nothing new under the sun. Maybe a new language, maybe a new framework, maybe a new whatever, but there is something that is so new that somebody else hasn’t thought about it, asked that question and probably solved it. So yeah, allow the successes and failures of others to help inform you. Learning from others is not just about being online. Part of the thing that helped me, I went to meet-ups. I actually briefly served as an organizer for Black Code Collective, which, like, will forever have my heart. Women Who Code, [?]. There’s so many different meet-ups. And, you know, D.C.’s not unique in having those organizations. They’re all over. Go to meetup.com, as long as it exists, and look for those communities near you, and be intentional about the workshops that you go to, the people that you meet, because those networks are also important. You do not have the luxury, if you’re a self-taught developer, of sitting back and waiting for the universe to, like, drop knowledge or networks or contacts or jobs into your lap. You have to do the legwork of developing and building those communities for yourself, which brings me to my final point. Standing on the shoulders of giants still requires you to do the work. I’m gonna repeat that because I kind of said it fast. Standing on the shoulders of giants still requires you to do the work. One more time for those in the back. Standing on the shoulders of giants still requires you to do the work. You have to do the work. There are no shortcuts through it. I’m not one of those people that, like, tells you, “You have to work 50, 60 hour weeks in order to get where I am.” I’m telling you what I did. But there’s something universal about what anybody else has done. You have to do the work. We all have done the work. We’re going to continue doing the work, because this is not an industry that stagnates. I’m sure whatever I learned back in 2018–I mean, literally, what I learned in 2018 about React has changed because of React Hooks. So I don’t know what to tell you. You have to do the work. There’s nobody who’s gonna, like, come and crack your skull open and dump all that there is to know about programming in your head or whatever it is that you want to study, whether you want to be, like, in cybersecurity, you want to be a PIN tester, you want to be a cloud engineer, cloud architect. None of those things are going to happen unless you do the work. You have to do the work, and for those of us–this is a part that I hate having to say, but for those of us who are underrepresented minorities, you will hear people say “Take shots that mediocre white men will take,” because, you know, “They’re a mediocre white man and they’ll take it, so why can’t you?” I’m not saying you can’t. I’m saying that you have to pull up to those rooms as the person that you are because they will check you in ways that they won’t check the mediocre white man. If there are gaps in your knowledge, that’s something that a weekend of studying can fix. You cannot allow there to be gaps in your will. You cannot allow there to be gaps in your faith in yourself. Well, yeah, that comes right back to the very first thing that I mentioned – grit, faith, and humor. You cannot allow there to be gaps in any of those things. I hope this helped. I am also gonna be writing a thread about this later on. There’s a thread out there, it’s called #30DaysOfThreads, and I’m probably gonna be contributing to that hashtag just to share more concretely some of the tools, some of the resources that I’ve used, so I look forward to sharing some of that information with y’all. I really hoped that this helped and I wasn’t just, like, ranting for no reason. [laughs] Which I’ve been known to do, and I hope that, for those of you who are going on a similar journey–and this has been pretty tech-specific thus far, but people do career pivots in any sort of direction, right? Like, there are people who are pivoting from having a 9-to-5 to being an entrepreneur, and I think there’s some things that are universal. If you are pivoting from being a banker to being a teacher, there’s some things that are universal. You are going to need grit. You are going to need faith. You are going to need humor. Maybe that should be the title of the show, I don’t know. [laughs] All right, that’s it from me. Thank you for listening. The Living Corporate family has been incredibly supportive. I want to thank Zach in particular for not giving up on me, because somewhere between all of those months–I think there were months at a time that I gave up on myself, and it showed, [laughs] but we’re here now. I also want to give a quick shout-out to my grandma, who died I think two weeks before–was it two weeks? Yeah, two weeks before I actually got this position, and now I’m gonna be a little teary on the mic. Like I said, 2019 was a hard one, but… I come from a very long line of powerful, intelligent, capable women, and she was one of those, and the world is a slightly dimmer place without her, but… I gained an angel, and there’s nothing more empowering than knowing that you did this thing, turned everything around for yourself, and being able to, like, look up and say, “I did it, and I know that she saw it.” Okay, I’m gonna stop now. I’ve been, like, more vulnerable in this I want to say 40+ minutes than I’ve been in, like, a year, so this is my dose of vulnerability and realness. I’m gonna go back to masking my vulnerability with many, many things that I’m not gonna be discussing on this podcast. [laughs] All right, I’m gonna go. Thank you so much for listening, for your support, for your guidance, for your prayers. This has been Ade. You’ve been listening to Living Corporate. Peace!

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