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  4. Ep. #63, Products Over Projects with Jerome Hardaway of Vets Who Code
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about the episode

In episode 63 of JAMstack Radio, Brian speaks with Jerome Hardaway of Vets Who Code. They discuss Jerome’s experience teaching veterans to code, prioritizing products over projects, and GitHub Sponsors.

Jerome Hardaway is the Executive Director of Vets Who Code, a veteran-led 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit that focuses on teaching veterans how to program. He is also a Technical Evangelist at Quicken Loans.


Brian Douglas: Welcome to another installment of JAMstack Radio.

On the line we've got Jerome Hardaway.

Jerome Hardaway: Hey.

Brian: What's up, Jerome?

Jerome: What's up, man. How everybody doing?

Brian: I'm doing well. Actually, I just came from watching-- Which I asked you about Atlanta, I forgot to continue but we'll do it on the recording.

I was watching Senator John Lewis' funeral and coming off a high of listening to Obama speak.

I'm like, "I would love to have Obama speak at my funeral, but that would require me to pass early. So, I'd rather not."

But let's make it less morbid here.

I want to chat about JAMstack and Vets Who Code too, as well.

Do you want to give us a brief intro of who you are and how you got here?

Jerome: Cool, I got you. My name is Jerome Hardaway, I am the executive director of Vets Who Code.

Former Air Force and security forces, transitioned into software engineering due to--

In the height of the last recession, and started Vets Who Code to help other veterans learn how to write software with a systemic curriculum and focus on working like a software team early on, for free and remotely.

To date, we've helped 252 veterans in 37 states, and we've done this all from the comfort of their living rooms and homes, and we've done it all for free with our social economic impact being $17.6 million dollars currently.

Brian: Wow, that's amazing. I'm curious, could we briefly touch about the background and how you got to that? Like, you're retired Air Force? Is that correct?

Jerome: First time Air Force, medically retired.

Brian: Medically retired? OK, so did you go straight into web development after your tour?

Jerome: No. The rumors were that once you get out the military you get your DD214, which is the paper that says you served honorably, and you get out with a magic ticket and you'll be able to get a job.

That was not the case. I got out during the recession and the only jobs that were offered to me was going back overseas, private military companies, or being stateside and working like a security guard for Home Depot and making $10 bucks an hour.

Those were the only two options that they had, and I saw a random commercial about coding and I happened to have a SQL book.

I learned SQL, however you want to say it , I learned how to code in SQL and I got a job at the Department of Security and was able to learn and able to get a job as a database analyst.

I never looked back, and that's why I help them with coding.

Transferred into web development a few years later, simply because web development has always been the thing that I really liked and I really wanted to be a part of, especially the front end world.

Everybody tries to push you onto doing full stack, but that's the biggest-- Especially in 2020, that's one of the biggest mistakes out there.

You can pick apart a stack and master it, because this game is so vast, but front end to me was the elite gate guards, like the Honor Guard back in the military.

I was like, "You're the first thing that people see." I just wanted to be a part of that culture and community.

So I got on front end and I really never looked back, even though I'm a dev advocate and part of my job is knowing enough about all the languages to know how they work well together.

So that's my job, but beyond Ruby my first love language is always going to be JavaScript.

Because JavaScript is the language that you had to build a relationship with. It doesn't care, it's not going to change for you. It doesn't care anything about you. It's like wine, you either love it or you learn to love it. Those the only two options you have.

Brian: Excellent. I think the JavaScript ecosystem has grown a lot since Ivan, so I might even join the development community as well around the same time you did, because I'm a career changer.

I also graduated college the same time you were probably getting out of the Air Force, so I took a sales job and then a couple of years into that I took a--

Well, I learned how to code on my own and then took a development job.

Now I'm a developer advocate as well, but I agree with you about the JavaScript.

I did not touch it hardly in my first couple of years as a developer, I just passed it off to the front end person.

Now all I do is JavaScript, which is quite the turn as well.

Jerome: I don't miss back end development, or even when I use Node and stuff when I do back end development, Javascript is the main tool I got to now.

The past year though has been JAMstack, if I can be honest.

JAMstack has been the thing that we've been, or that I've been really focusing on and pushing over the past two years.

Because one of the things that we're working on with Vets Who Code is we're growing our app.

Like, "Where do we put our JAMstack versus where do we start growing beyond JAMstack in certain areas? Or do we have to?"

These are the questions that-- We just had a planning meeting last night about that, and another call about it today.

We're planning all that stuff out, especially with the whole GitHub Sponsors thing. Thank you for being a GitHub Sponsor as well.

Brian: Yeah, I'm happy to be a sponsor.

I'm actually excited to hear more about this JAMstack thing, because you're obviously in the right place for this conversation.

But I'm curious, before we get into JAMstack and how the program leverages the technologies around it, I'm curious to hear more about the program.

Because I didn't realize I met one of the Vets Who Code graduates, are they ever graduates?

Jerome: We call them alumni, but we focus on what we like to call "From reentry to retirement."

Once you're in a VWC we see and support you forever.

Brian: Nice.

Jerome: I saw that as a weakness that for-profit code schools were having, and in the military o ur community is always based around being super strong.

We don't have that, "Once you get your first job it's onto the next people."

Like, no. I'm always checking with people who came through cohorts for years, and I'm always trying to find a way to get people plugged in.

I'm always looking at folks' strengths and weaknesses and seeing how to best leverage it, and help them reach their full capacity. Because as I tell people all the time, me reaching my height of my career doesn't really matter if I don't bring a bunch of people with me. That's what I focus on.

Brian: I feel the same way too, as well.

You mentioned the GitHub Sponsors thing, and that was like-- I chatted about this with the Strappy folks a couple of episodes ago, but the collection of sponsors that I'm sponsoring, I created a cool tool that I'll mention more in the picks.

But I don't want to continue to talk about myself and stuff I do, but I want to talk more about Vets Who Code.

So, that one alumnus that came from that other program is Schuster.

Jerome: Schuster? OK.

Brian: Yeah, I met him at a conference, our Angular conference in Atlanta .

He was doing some pretty cool stuff with groups out there in Savannah, and I was just super impressed.

I ended up sending him a bunch of GitHub stickers and black cat stickers as well.

It was cool to see, I think he took a job at Amazon in the last year.

It was super cool to see because I just followed his story through Twitter.

Jerome: He's one of my favorites. He actually he heads up our code challenge channel now.

He came through the program and three days later got his first web dev job, came back when he wanted to learn more about teaching, started as a boot camp instructor at a code school in Savannah and trying to build their community.

He did his first tech conference there and I was like, "Yeah. OK." He asked me to sign, he was like "Dude. You're going to be like the biggest thing there. I need your help."

I was like "Yeah, sure man. You're a VWC troop, so I'll go to Georgia for you."

And then I went there. Then he was ready for the next challenge, so he came back and started drilling skills for his current job at Amazon.

He's been there for this past year, so he's a hard charger. I like the vets like him who they're trying to put a dent in the universe, versus--

I always tell people, "You're going to have to-- On your first couple swings you're never going to get exactly what you want or you can get less , so aim high.

Even if you don't get it, you'll still be happy with the result."

Because if you aim for what you want then if you don't get exactly what you want it's going to hurt your feelings or something.

But if you aim for more than what you want and you end up getting what you want anyway, it's cool.

He's always been one of those guys that aims high, and I can appreciate that.

Brian: I like that advice too, because it's like everybody could take that advice and learn from it, especially if you're a career changer or you're just trying to get into the game.

Because I know a lot of people now are trying to learn how to code because they got the free time, they were laid off or working from home--

Or not even working from home, because their job doesn't or cannot transfer to be at home.

I think one of the magical things I realized being and working in a company like GitHub and doing code for a living, is that my transition to no more travel and being at home and working in front of this desk all day is that nothing much changed, other than the fact that I now wear a mask outside.

Which is kind of mind-boggling if you think about developers and all the doors that are open, but it really comes down to "Swing big."

Then if you get half of what you dreamed of, hopefully you dream big so that way what you actually get is a livable wage and everything like that.

I'm super pumped about this program, but I want to actually ask more about the decision for JAMstack and how that sort of plays into the curriculum, and for the developers, what's the reasoning?

You sort of hinted on it, but I'm curious to hear more about how y'all are leveraging the jam.

Jerome: The number one issue, everybody was crazy about React at the time when we made a decision on JAMstack.

But my argument with it was SEO.

We needed search engine optimization with multiple pages so that way it would help, and we saw Gatsby and I was like, "I think this might be the happy middle ground of us. I want the speed of React, but we're going to have a lot of initial static things going on, so there's no need for us to build a React app for something that isn't React-needed."

That whole idea, everybody wants to React all the things, but then you're like "You don't need React for that."

So we went with Gatsby and it was just -- It was one of the smartest decisions.

We've had a problem at Vets Who Code where we are usually 2-5 years ahead of the game with everyone, because we chose Gatsby and JAMstack really early on.

Because we were like, "Two things I want to see in the market is people still need more mastery of the language. People need more mastery of how to manipulate a handle APIs, and people need more mastery of serverless technologies."

So these are things that I saw, and I was like "We need to bake them into the program from beginning to end, from the stack to the curriculum."

People were like, "You're crazy. We're going to be the first program that doesn't have a back end portion that we're teaching to the students?"

I was like, "No. We're going to have like a little bit of learn, but we don't teach React and don't teach Node, but a heavy focus is going to be on building the language and serving things to the web using service technologies."

Now look at the world we're living in now, where APIs and serverless and JavaScript are king, regardless of how you feel about it.

Even if your back end-- Most the time with your back end, you're building the API to give to the front end so they can manipulate it.

"Are you using AWS to handle your APIs? If they're being handled in a decoupled fashion with the front end?"

So, we were ahead of the curve on this one and it's really been helping us succeed.

Because we are that "Code how you build" type philosophy, code what you build.

So we teach the students exactly how we build things at Vets Who Code.

So based upon our curriculum we're able, because of the stat that we use, we're able to go so much deeper in certain subjects because we're not rushing to quickly get to another framework or something like that.

Because of the stack we're able to deep dive some UX and design psychology, and to design systems and the web accessibility, and the really deep parts of JavaScript . Focusing on just drilling those skills mercilessly.

I'm a big "Drill the skills" type person. We're able to do that and we're able to get into computer science on a level that might be sped through the work.

We plan everything out to ensure that there is buy-in.

We put computer science smack dab in the middle of the curriculum, because I know that if I put computer science at the end, everybody is going to just drop out at the end.

No one wants to touch that, so to get to the fun stuff, you've got to go through-- We put our own little Hell week in there.

So that was our whole thought process, because we're all programmers in real life and we get paid for this stuff, we take the approach from our curriculum and to our classes from the approach of being paid and having to deal with things in real industry.

Our web accessibility portion is built from a year of my experience of having to rebuild the accessibility of two websites because they were getting sued for $50 million dollars because of accessibility.

Brian: This wasn't Domino's, was it?

Jerome: No, it wasn't. It was a comic book in pop culture.

Brian: Wow.

Jerome: But because of that, I was able take that experience and pass it on to veterans.

"This is why you want to do it, this is how you do this, this is the purpose that's beyond this."

Take that high level experience and run with it, because that's what you're supposed to do.

Brian: That's really awesome to get that real life experience, but also channel it through a curriculum.

I didn't get a CS degree, so I'm just going to talk about my background in getting a finance degree.

But you learn all these things that you don't end up using, which is good because I did investments, that was my goal.

I also graduated at the wrong time for an investments degree and finance.

Jerome: Yeah, you did.

Brian: But I learned how markets worked and I learned how to see trends, and one of the trends I'm looking at right now is the fact that there are so many people being laid off, but the fact that tech is still booming.

If you look at all the tech stocks, they're still making money despite of what's happening out in the world.

Amazon is still going to get paid because they're delivering all the stuff, like all those delivery services.

Jerome: That's really why I chose tech, because I was looking around and seeing who was doing OK, and it was the tech people in the recession.

They were like, "Y ou almost lost a bunch of money." You know, like "I went from a $100 millionaire to a $10 millionaire."

I was like, "That's a lot of money. You still ballin' so I don't care. I want to be like you guys."

Brian: In the same vein though, about following the trends, you're following the trends of JAMstack and it's very similar to this entire movement and community.

Understanding that serverless, at the time that JAMstack-- This podcast is roughly four years old.

That's literally around the time the term started picking up adoption, and why the podcast exists.

But we saw a trend, and this is when I was working at Netlify too, we saw a trend of all these build tools were being created and they were taking what was normally complicated and that you had to work on and making it trivial.

So you could use a React and build it down into an indexed HTML and then you're good to go, and then you can apply the same experience of 20 years prior to that indexed HTML and that build command.

Now we've got tons of build commands, it's not just the web pack world now.

Now we have a couple of different ones for the flavor that you're looking for, but at the end of the day to your point about Vets Who Code and using the JAMstack is you can show someone a Gatsby site, have a site up and running, show them how to maneuver it and pull in an API, and then it clicks right away.

Then the great part about you saying that the computer science comes in the middle is that then they can go learn how that's built and then they go build their own.

I think that's the biggest win for the JAMstack, is the fact that it's now more of a level playing field.

That's what I want to do, is make sure everybody has access to this information and has access to build websites and has an access to build a web app, and go put their community online.

It's absolutely mind boggling that-- I'm only seven years into this, six years into this and it just blows me away, what we've come through.

Jerome: Same. The accessibility that JAMstack brings to developers is just amazing.

Our web app is Gatsby, AWS and Contentful, and Netlify with GitHub actions.

That's our stack, and being able to handle APIs and being able to do builds automatically just from a PR, these are the major-- Like, the students when they see it they think it's magic.

I teach them how to do this and it's like giving them super powers, because especially if you come from an area like the average veteran who's no more than 50 miles from their basic station.

A lot of these guys are not in tech heavy locations, so unless you get lucky and you're in the Navy or the Marines and you're in California.

Because that's usually what happens, is that our most luckiest veterans are on the West Coast.

So when we're showing that stuff versus others in their community, with their dot net or their Java Spring communities, it's like "T hat looks so much easier than what someone else showed us." Like, "Yeah. Because it was."

It's very empowering because now they've figured out how to serve whole working websites to the web, and when they figure that out then they just-- It's like that feedback loop.

Because they got that win, they can get more wins. They're not afraid to go deeper in things to learn more.

Right now we're talking a lot about our open source, we're trying to figure out how to keep it in that whole MIT open source while maintaining portions that you really don't need to have open source.

Things like required keys, like when we had our shop away from Shopify, or even with our blog portion and things of that nature.

Then we're trying to see how to JAMstack and build something interactive, like our interactive Kanban board for our veterans.

So that way they can keep up a job tracker of sorts, then we have our FNG tracker that we're building out to add to the website.

Brian: What's FNG?

Jerome: "FNG" is a military acronym for Freakin' New Guy, but that's not-- The "F" doesn't mean "Freakin'."

Brian: Thanks for making that family-friendly.

Jerome: That's what I'm here for. So, that is what we do.

We have so many projects, especially now when we have the GitHub Sponsors, we have our donations.

We're able to throw more things and we just added Atlassian products and we're adding more robust tools from AWS to it.

Our Slack has been, we've been supercharging our Slack bots and things like that, even though I have learned that with great power comes great responsibility and veterans are the wrong people to give this type of power to.

I'm paying for it dearly, but the community is just buzzing right now.

When I say that, for those of us who aren't in there, go and follow us on Twitter or follow me on Twitter, I have a veteran named Benn Winchester and he--

For one of his capstone projects he works at, he got his job at Deloitte 2-3 weeks into the pandemic as well.

So even through the pandemic, our troops are still getting jobs.

He got his job, and his capstone was he built a "Jerome Says" bot, which he took pictures of me that he found on the internet and then he adds a bubble to it and it's basically backslash whatever he says.

Then we put that text in the bubble, and that was his thing. "I'ma make this and I'ma use AWS and the slack API, insert these images" and all this stuff.. I was like, "OK."

It was such a hit that they built it into our Slack channel and I'm like, "Wait. We paying for this?"

I'm like, "Wait. No, I'm doing the work to pay for this. This is how y'all want to thank me?"

"You spend your life's work helping veterans learn how to code, and how do they thank you? Is build a bot that makes fun off you in y'all Slack channel. I was like, "OK. It's whatever.""

Brian: That's awesome that-- It's good to see that they put their skillset into building actual products. For sure.

Jerome: That's our biggest mantra at Vets Who Code, is "Products over projects."

Brian: Nice, OK.

Jerome: Because what we've seen, just what I've seen in my own career and what I've seen in multiple people's careers, it's like-- Especially as a junior.

Building, everybody comes out with a portfolio of three projects. But that's kind of played out, especially in 2020.

You have to have a thing that works, that you can show that you understand how to make coding decisions and business logic decisions.

Because business logic is two totally different things, there's is business logic where we could talk about performance and stuff like that for the speed of the website, but then we also talk about business logic that's like--

For instance, we were using an API or a third party tool for our chat app on our website, and the only way to capture it to make it accessible so you can click in and click out of it was we had to do a document, a document event listener to the page.

We all know that adding too many of those affects your JavaScript performance on your website, and people are against that.

I was like, "We have to make this call because we still want to ensure accessibility of the website."

That was the whole, like we had this conversation about it, and that's the super power that you get when you build a product.

You make decisions that you have to figure out, "Which part do you want to support at all times? You have the business logic of the website, of the color of what makes it technically better and technically sound? And you have the business logic of the user."

I said, "OK. How does the user use this? Is what we're doing, if we do it this way is it going to affect how the user can use it?"

Because it worked if you were able bodied, but if you weren't able bodied and you had to tab into it, you couldn't catch it.

So we do it the right way, we're alienating people so we can't do that. It was pretty awesome, and that's what I try to teach my veterans.

You have to learn how to make those decisions for your apps and products will always outweigh a project.

People get a kick out of those lessons, and they always-- I try to make them their own product, because I tell them that "Facebook is giving you their services for free because you're the product and they value you a lot. So, you should value yourself."

I'm always trying to make them make their projects or their products, like instead of portfolio sites we call them profile sites.

I try to get them to make it more about, or as much about them as possible. Build things that impact their life.

I'm like, "Yo. If you're a chef, and an app to your website that lets you know what type of recipes you can make from there."

You could use-- I think it's called Serious Eats or Better Eats.

I think they have an API where you can pull recipes based upon the stuff that is in your pantry or the leftovers that you have.

Do that, or if you're a workout buff I want to see a randomizer workout app on your web app and pulling up videos and things.

Think about that idea, like "All right. I might not know anything about this exercise. Will it be an option to have a video pop up that will show me an example of this?"

I'm always thinking about how to take their passions and the things they love and make it into something useful.

We have a situation going on right now, and we'll sleep angry about it because he couldn't finish-- He didn't finish his project, but it's a good thing.

Juneteenth happened and pandemic happened, and I was just running around in June doing my full Captain America thing and helping as many people as I could.

One of the things I was helping was people who were veteran businesses whose funnels or sales funnels had gotten grossly affected because of the pandemic.

So, I was doing this through Twitter because I have a, what I like to call-- I don't have a breadth Twitter, I have a deep Twitter.

I have 3,000 followers, which isn't a lot, but my 3,000 followers are like-- 80% of them are at the top, like the top 500 people in our community.

They're all top people in our community, so that's how I always wanted it. All my heroes are my homies, it's awesome.

So I was like, "Yo. We can all talk about the negative stuff or we can start doing it and impacting real change."

The first business we did it was a woman, a black woman on veteran business called Mud Sauce.

We straight murdered that challenge to the point where she is sold out of several of her sauces.

She was like, "Yo. So many people that were directly connected to you bought--" Like, we made her quarter.

She made more money that month than she would have made in her quarter.

Just from off Twitter, so going back to Vets Who Code, one of my veterans Steve Clark has this thing he likes to do on the side called Angry Pickles.

Which is weird, like "Yo. You're a 20 year Marine and how you pass time is you garden, you get these cucumbers and you make pickles out of them, and you make these pickles that are super spicy and all this other stuff."

Like, "OK. That's wild, but whatever." So I was like, "Let's do it again. Let's run it back."

And we did it again and he sold out, like he's like "I don't have-- My garden is done. I don't have-- My crops are done and everybody bought some. 80% of those were tech dudes."

I was like, "Wow." He's like, "Pretty much. Wes Bos bought some, Scott Tolinsky bought some. Everybody bought some."

I was like, "Dude. That's awesome." I'm looking at other companies like, "Who else can we--?"

Because I've been military, I was in the military and I've been to Iraq and been to Afghanistan, and I know that especially in times where outside is closed--

Because I've been on tour, number one, before where we couldn't do anything.

The best thing to pass the time without going crazy is by helping people, so the developer community is very unique in this space.

Like, we have deep pockets but nobody has anything.

We can't go outside like we want to, so it's like "Let's put this disposable income that we have that we can't do anything with, if you're not adding to your savings or playing the stock market, let's do something good. Let's affect a business, a small business here or there. A veteran owned business."

Both these are veteran owned businesses. They were double minorities, one was Hispanic and a veteran and one was a black woman and a veteran.

We are sitting there, we're helping these businesses just from being on the internet. I was like, "This is so awesome."

Then my veterans are getting jobs, it's like-- June turned out to be crappy for a part of the world and also good for VWC. So, it's kind of weird.

Brian: Wow, that's amazing. You have all this written up? I've got to go to Twitter and find these stories.

Jerome: I can share the tweets with you, but yeah Mud Sauce and Angry Pickles. They both have great-- It's crazy, right?

Brian: It's amazing.

Jerome: Because I think especially during that time frame, everything like planet Earth, America was going-- We were having our worst episode ever.

I felt like, "I have to--" Especially with emotions going high and I had to do something, like "OK. Let's center ourselves, let's focus on the positive change we can create even though outside is closed."

That's what you kind of have to do when you're in-- Like I took it as "You're in a firefight, you're in the fog of war. You have to focus on the things you can control versus focusing on things you can't control," because that's the situation.

Everyone's just screaming into the ether of what was going on and we were not trying to problem solve.

I jumped in to help other people who were trying to solve problems.

Two guys I'm fans of right now, Justin Samuels, he created RebuildingBlackBusinesses.com.

He was leading the fight to taking businesses that had antiquated practices and they were all brick and mortar companies, and building their digital platforms.

He was like doing a lot of-- I was like, "Yo. This is awesome. This is what it's supposed to be."

Then we had Michael Brown, who did Juneteenth Conf, he just literally took a crap on every tech conference on the planet.

Because he's the first person-- He had back to back all black software engineers, women, LGBTQ, veterans, everybody.

Two tracks, diverse tracks, you didn't just get a bunch of front ends or a bunch of React people.

It was just everyone, they had Angie who's a Java champ first-- I think the first woman, and first black woman.

She's undisputed, when she goes for the title she really goes for it. She's like, "I'ma get every W." Like, "OK."

Brian: Yeah. I've had the misfortune of sharing a stage with her, and she cleans up for sure.

Jerome: I kind of want to do it because I'm like, "Yo. I can't be cap if I'm going to be sitting here like, 'Angie is the champ-champ.'"

Brian: She's Kelsey Hightower of live coding. Like, that level.

Jerome: I view programming and advocacy and stuff like Dragonball Z, I'm like "I'm Goku. I'm trying to reach the next level, dude. Where's the level that I'm trying to get to?"

I gamify my career, because if you take this too serious you will lose.

You go crazy. I see people go online, they don't have many job interviews, so that' something.

Lives have spent to get to the next level in school, man. Especially when you think about the stats and the data with it.

We know that on average, once you get past whatever local median income is in your community, it takes-- For instance, I'll go off my local stats.

When I first started I knew that the median income was $50,000 dollars and I knew on average it takes three months for a person to get a job at $50,000 dollars when I was in Memphis, Tennessee.

I knew any job that was $10,000 dollars more, then that was going to take you another month.

We knew that data the same way with Nashville.

Nashville is, I think, $83,000 dollars for cost of living here, so I knew any job $10,000 dollars more than that , you've got to add another month.

So, if you're in a $100,000 job in Nashville be ready to put in five months worth of work.

So I try to educate people in that way, find out the median income of your cities, understand that once you get past that point you just add another month every ten g's.

Think of it like that, pick a number and be ready to do the work.

I try to teach people that and I try to put it in perspective, and people say I'm really positive and things of that nature.

I'm like, "That's really weird. Because I don't see that in myself."

I come from boxing and combat sports background and a military background, and it kind of all--

Doing the work and embracing the suck is a natural part of that game, so the hard parts of development I'm comfortable with . I don't get frustrated with that stuff because it sucks. The things I get upset when it comes to programming, it's like when people put their egos in code. I view programming as a team sport, because you don't own the code. Even when it's your own personal project you don't own the code , because code is meant to tell a story.

I always teach my veterans you build a product for people and people don't give a crap about what type of framework you're using, and they want it to look good and be fast, and be able to do the thing that they wanted it to do.

That's all they care about, so the code is for the users.

I mean, for your other programmers, the guy and girl left and right of you.

You have to be conscious of that and not be a jerk.

We're coming from the stage now where we're actually talking about empathy in programming, and being able-- I'm in a position, just the same as you to the other dev advocates.

We can actually push this narrative of empathy in programming as well as pushing a narrative of--

Because the more empathetic we are, the more empathic we are with our programming, the easier it's going to be with onboarding and the easier it's going to be for these new people to get jobs and the more we help our talent.

In the end, the more people who have jobs and the more money is in the economy, the better these companies are doing.

Everything works, so if we're gatekeeping because we don't want to make readable code, then we're talking about "The big ON" at companies, where the big old notation absolutely means nothing. "You've got 10,000 users. It's going to be OK, bro."

We're building obsolescence into our web stacks and that's what I'm very big against.

Brian: I could sit here and talk to you for hours probably about these subjects for sure, and I think we're on the same wavelength about all these concepts, minus I don't have a military background.

But I have definitely tracked with everything you're saying, but I think you really just answered all questions that I had prepared.

I appreciate it. I look forward to following Vets Who Code more closely and seeing how I can help support the program, financially or through technology, whatever it is.

I'll definitely be keeping an eye out there. One thing I didn't ask though, is it open source?

Jerome: Right now the website is open source. I think I said earlier, we're trying to find the decision.

How do we maintain the MIT open source while also adding things like our shop that we're going to add, and stuff like that?

I'm thinking about going to bug Ben Halper and see how he handled that, because--

Brian: He gave a really good talk at Open Core Summit.

He's probably given it some other places, but how he built the model for Dev and how to make it a business that makes money but also have the entire thing open source, which I think the term the kids are saying today is "Open Core."

The core of your product is open source, but there are pieces that are micro services that are closed source.

Jerome: Open core? That's nice, I better write that down.

Brian: It's buzzworthy enough, but I'm actually going to-- I'm going to wind down and transition us to picks.

Just one more thing, where can people find Vets Who Code and how do they get involved?

Jerome: You can find Vets Who Code on VetsWhoCode.io, that's the website.

Twitter is @VetsWhoCode because I'm not creative like that.

You can find me as @JeromeHardaway on Twitter as well, and be on the lookout for some really cool additions, like we're migrating our hashflag shop to the Vets Who Code website.

Brian: Hashflag?

Jerome: That's what we call our logo, "Hashflag." That's the most creative that I've ever gotten, "Hashflag."

Brian: All right, you've got to save some for later. Excellent.

We're going to transition to jam picks, jam picks are things that you're jamming on. Food related, tech related, all types of related. There's no limitation.

With that being said, go ahead and share your picks.

Jerome: Roger that. My tech pick is Vidrio right now.

It really helps being able to show your work in a holographic way while you're on Zooms and stuff, it's really cool especially if you're teaching and doing presentations.

But I definitely recommend that.

Brian: Nice.

Jerome: My last pick is going to be a book. I'm listening to-- I'm really liking Always Day One.

It's a book about how the big tech companies build their communities, build their cultures and that every Always Day One mentality comes from Jeff Bezos at Amazon.

I guess someone asked him at a meeting, he's like "What is day two for Amazon?"

And he said "That's going out of business."

The whole idea we are always on day one, because any day after day one is going out of business, bankruptcy and stuff. I like that mentality.

It's like in the military, we say "Every day is a Monday, so get after it."

I just like those days that are like, I like to crush it in a day until you're dead tired. That's my jam.

Brian: Excellent. I'm going to check that out. My picks, coincidentally actually I was going to say Dev as one of my picks.

It's a platform that I got on right at the beginning and I shared my first post, it was a comparison post for build tools, so I compared Webpack and Roll Up and Grunt and Gulp and all the other things that were out back in the day are still out now.

So my Dev2 handle is @bdougieYO, the same so as my Twitter if anybody's interested.

I've been actually rolling through and planning out a lot of those posts.

Also, Dev2 is beta video on Dev2, so I just posted today a quick Git Action Traction clip, which is my second pick.

I just want to promote myself real quick and say that I'm doing these short snippets where it's an action traction video, which is GitHub actions, and I'm just trying to give people extra information on how to do some pretty cool things in actions that aren't quite developed in the docs.

Just sort of trying to do my DevRel job as well as grow a YouTube community, because we're all at home and trying to figure out what DevRel looks like from home.

For me, it's Twitch and YouTube at the moment. Follow me on those platforms.

That's it for me, for picks. Jerome, thanks so much for going through the background and what Vets Who Code are doing and how you guys are enabling JAMstack developers too, as well.

Which is super awesome to hear, so I hope that everybody listening will check out Vets Who Code, check out the sponsors page and drop a couple of dollars there, but also see if there's ways people can contribute and provide access to some of these vets that are looking for jobs in such an interesting time today, at least in the states.

Listeners, keep spreading the jam.