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Ethan Gardner

Ethan Gardner shares his experience in the publishing industry, his learnings from IEEE, ACM, and SWEBOK, and the value of soft skills in managing performance.

Show Notes: https://catchingup.dev/podcasts/ethan-gardner/

Catching Up With Web Performance
Catching Up With Web Performance
Ethan Gardner
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Tanner
Hello, everybody, and welcome to another episode of Catching Up With Web Performance, a podcast about stories of people in web performance. Today my special guest is Ethan Gardner. Ethan, man, how’s it going?
Ethan
Good, man. How are you?
Tanner
I’m doing good, man. It’s great to see you!
Ethan
Yeah, you too. It’s good to finally talk to you. I’ve been following you on the interwebs for a while.
Tanner
Oh no…
Ethan
Yeah dude!
Tanner
It’s always weird when people, you find out that people actually read stuff you put into the void.
Ethan
I mean, why not? You’ve got to learn from somebody, right? Might as well be you.
Tanner
Well, shucks. Flattered. But yeah, man. Here, it’s all about stories. I want to learn about you. We’re gonna talk, we’re gonna hang out. I want to hear how did you get into this world of web performance? Like, what’s your story? I don’t know if there’s a memory that kicks it off for you, but Ethan, how did you get into web performance?
Ethan
Well, way back when, Steve Souders’ book, “High Performance Websites”… I’ve been a web developer for 17 years now. Yeah, that’s the one. So that was probably, like, I saw a press release about that. I’m like, “Wait, what is this?” Because I knew how to build a website. Like, I knew how to write code, I knew how to make a functioning thing. But the fact of performance, you know, it was the typical case of, “Hey, I’m a developer, I’m working on an office network, I have a decently specced machine. Things seem fast.” So just looking at kind of a larger picture, that was kind of the first foray into web performance for me.
Ethan
And then you saw different tools come out, like YSlow from Yahoo! That came out, it was a Firebug extension, prior to the days where browsers had built-in dev tools that were actually written by their dev team. It was an extension…
Tanner
Wait a minute, you’re telling me I couldn’t just open and hit record and like go? What?!
Ethan
Yeah. You know, things are things are pretty easy now, but it was different back in those days. And then WebPageTest, back when it was sponsored and written by the folks at AOL. You know, I saw that and I was like…
Tanner
Shout out, Pat Meenan.
Ethan
Yeah, right. I didn’t know how to read a waterfall chart. But I was like, “Oh, these colors are kind of cool. I can kind of pretend like I know what’s going on here.” So anyways, I had started an interest in it back then, just learning more and more. And I guess really the catalyst for me doing it a lot is that I’ve worked in publishing for most of my career, I’ve had various different stints in advertising agencies, publishing, and conferences and live events, but a lot of it’s in publishing and that can very much impact your bottom line with web performance.
Tanner
Yeah, like how so?
Ethan
Traffic is kind of live-or-die for places that are ad… The company I work for now is ad-supported as well as subscriber-supported. So we are not the only voice in the space, but if you look at performance as kind of a competitive advantage, it makes sense, right? Because nobody likes using slow products. We want people to subscribe to our products. We want people to stick around for multiple years once they subscribe, and not just, you know, kind of go like, “Meh, here’s my credit card number,” like a gym membership for a lot of people.
Ethan
So yeah, that was really the catalyst. And then when COVID hit and I had all kinds of free time on my hands, I really tried to level up my skills. So I started just hitting the books, taking online courses and things like that to try and bolster that. And it kind of corresponds with the timeline for when Core Web Vitals came out, but it goes beyond that for me.
Tanner
So let me if I’ve, let’s see if I’ve got this right. You know, we back up, you’ve been doing this 17+ years?
Ethan
Yeah, sure. Yeah.
Tanner
Okay, so spanning over a decade. Way back when, the great prophet Steve Souders announced “High Performance Websites,” you saw this book, a press release like, “Oh, that’s interesting.” Shortly thereafter, WebPageTest comes on the scene. You’re like, “Woah, waterfalls. What is this? This is cool.” And then doing stuff, doing stuff, jumping between advertising, publishing, and conferences. And then all of a sudden it’s like—am I doing the math right? Is this like 13? At least a decade later, COVID hits, Core Web Vitals hit, you have free time. “I want to get better!” It’s almost like web performance came in real early here, went along doing my job, and then all of a sudden it rears its head again and you’re like, “I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna learn everything I can about this.” Is that kind of the timeline?
Ethan
Yep! And I mean, in my day-to-day responsibility, like, performance isn’t all I do, but it’s a big part of it. You know, I’m still writing UIs, I’m writing serverless functions, I’m writing edge workers and CI/CD stuff. I’m all over the place.
Tanner
Yeah, I feel like that’s probably the story for a lot, if not most people. Like, I haven’t done the big developer survey, but I feel like there’s, I don’t know, “middle class” developers. Like there’s a whole bunch of us who are not doing the glorious React apps. And then on the flip side, there’s not, I don’t know… There’s a long tail of websites that people just spin up for themselves but they don’t really do it full-time. And then there’s all of us doing full, like, I work on a bunch of WordPress websites, right?
Ethan
Me too.
Tanner
Right, so here we are. Tell me a bit more, like, I guess that day-to-day you’re describing. What’s that like, and how does performance fit in? Like when do you get to do this?
Ethan
So that was kind of an interesting conversation I had with my boss, my CEO, my CTO, and all that stuff, because I knew that performance made sense to improve. Like the core of our sites was written several years ago, and you know how things go in business, like you bolt things on, the people that had previously commissioned something might not be at the company, there’s turnover, there’s all kinds of different changing situations. So I was like, “Hey, we can’t just keep adding things on here.” So I ran a performance… I guess previously to me really making a case for it had been, “Let’s do this when you had time.” Well, guess what? I work on a very small engineering team, and I never had time.
Tanner
How small are we talking? Two people? Three people?
Ethan
We’ll say three. So it’s basically…
Tanner
One person?!
Ethan
No, it’s more than one. We have three people who work on the core web products. We have some other people who do email development, data science, things like that. We have a product developer who’s really, really good. And my boss is actually the vice president of product development, but prior to that she was the head of project management. So real small team. You basically got three people who were doing, you know…
Tanner
All the work.
Ethan
We have five big sites that are our main subscriber base and then some other ones, like an online store, some ones that promote workshops and online classes and things like that. So my day-to-day primarily is frontend, but it’s also edge workers. You know, we use some functions at the edge to improve our cache hit rate, to proxy third-party services and reduce that latency hit that you experience when you use third parties, geolocation for GDPR compliance. And like I wrote the geolocation stuff on top of Cloudflare and then logged it. I wrote the GDPR library, the cookie consent, it’s not one of the third-party ones. It logs to an Amazon SimpleDB and it has logs, like all kinds of stuff is involved. So basically any moving part… I guess primarily my main course of the day is frontend in terms of where I fall among the skill set of the different people on the team. But it’s, I mean, I do stuff with our deployment system.
Tanner
Right, like it’s you three working on everything.
Ethan
Yes, it’s the three of us working on everything. It’s a lot. It’s chaos.
Tanner
We are the front line! This is it! Oh, man. I’m so curious about this because, again, I feel like this is the story for so many of us. How do you make this time? How do you find and learn about performance? Like you mentioned, it sounds like you’ve got kind of two sides of the spectrum here. On the one hand, and maybe we can say pre-Core Web Vitals, you had, it was… Learning performance and air quotes “doing performance” was, “I have to do it on my own.” It’s a passion project. It’s something I just want to do. And then there’s the other side of the spectrum, where it’s like, “No, this is actually, there’s a business case for this now and I need to learn on the job.” And maybe we don’t have to attach it to a business case, but like on the one side you have learning as a passion project and on the other side you have learning on the job. Tell me a bit more about your learning here, like where you fit performance education in, in general.
Ethan
So I have a master’s degree in education.
Tanner
Huh?!
Ethan
Yeah. I guess kind of the way that I’ve always managed my career and my continuing learning is that the IEEE and ACM, which are two professional organizations, have a practice guideline called SWEBOK, which stands for Software Engineering Body Of Knowledge. And it’s published roughly every ten years. They’re on version three. But it is full scope of practice in terms of all the skills that a software engineer needs to know. Everything from your soft skills, teamwork, collaboration, and gets into other things like risk management, project planning, full scope. So what I did was looked at SWEBOK and then kind of filled in the gaps. I was like, “Okay, I’m deficient in this area, this area, this area. Let’s formulate a learning plan around that.”
Tanner
Okay, I’ve got to pause you for a second because you’ve blown my mind on like three levels here. First off, master’s in education? What?! And then all these acronyms, like what? I don’t know how many people know what the IEEE, ACM, and SWEBOK are, so back up for, like, repeat for me here. You have… Let’s start with this: you have a master’s in education. What?!
Ethan
Yeah, at one point in time I thought I wanted to teach college, at the college level. So that’s where the master’s in education came in. I got that degree ten years after I got my undergrad degree. And I have taught college classes before, I’ve adjuncted. But once I kind of got a taste of that and then got a taste of the web performance stuff, I just continued to stay in the industry as opposed to going to the education side.
Ethan
But teaching’s a bit of like the family profession. My wife is a professor of nursing, I have an aunt who’s a professor of psychology down in Miami, my mom was an elementary school teacher prior to me being born and then never went back to it.
Tanner
Still, I mean, so teaching’s in your blood here?
Ethan
Yeah, a little bit.
Tanner
Oh, okay. We’re going to have a great time then because that’s kind of my schtick on the side here. Like, I love teaching, I want to teach, I want to learn and then see where we can spread this. But too, so we’ve got master’s in education, somehow you became an engineer, I’m gonna come back to that in a bit. But hit me with these acronyms again, because the IEEE, ACM, SWEBOK, how did you find these? Like what even are these things and how did you find them?
Ethan
Well, the IEEE and ACM are two separate professional organizations. I personally have been a member of the ACM for, I don’t know, probably a decade now. But they’re great professional resources. Both of them have libraries full of learning materials, and it’s anything from your basic industry news to stuff that’s like super duper low-level, close to the metal engineering, and then artificial intelligence, machine learning, all that stuff. So it’s a great resource.
Ethan
The ACM I can speak a little more of because that’s the one I have a membership to. But they do webinars from time to time. That’s how I got interested in a lot of different things and have read some kind of instrumental things to my career.
Tanner
Like what kind of things?
Ethan
One thing in particular was when I was working at the agencies, my estimates were terrible. They were so bad. So I was like, “Look, man, you can’t keep going over or way under. Let’s work on getting a little more accuracy in these things.” So there was a presenter named Steve McConnell who wrote a book called “Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art,” and it goes into a formula of how to make an estimate. So basically the key takeaway was doing weighted averages of best case, most likely case, and worst case. And then you essentially do three estimates. But when I did that, my estimates were super close to what it actually ended up being instead of me going, “Meh, I don’t know.”
Tanner
You coming up with a best, middle, and worst case, and then kind of averaging them together somehow, came up with a much better estimate?
Ethan
Yeah, they’re weighted differently, so it’s not like a even weight.
Tanner
It’s not like a pure average.
Ethan
Right, right. Yeah, a weighted average. And it helped a lot. So there’s been some other stuff kind of similar to that. But it’s a great resource. My deep secret, which I’ll share with you, is the library is actually a really good place to learn stuff.
Tanner
Wait, just any library in the world, or like the ACM library?
Ethan
So the ACM library has a great collection of resources, but also for a while there they were partnering with Safari Books Online and Skillsoft. Now they’re not partnering with Safari, or O’Reilly, if you will, but they still have the other one. And I get the O’Reilly subscription through my public library. So yes, the shout out to Cincinnati, Hamilton County Public Library.
Ethan
And it might be through, you know, if people still have access through the college that they went to or their local library, literally tens of thousands of books and videos are… And the thing I like about that is they’re actually sequenced. It’s not just like a bunch of tutorials of like, “Oh, I’m going to learn,” you know, you mentioned React apps. I’ve actually built a few React apps. But the way I did it was I got on O’Reilly through the library and took a course step-by-step and like boom, by the end of the day, I got working apps so… that was it.
Tanner
You didn’t jump in and haphazardly try it yourself, trial and error. Like it was, “Hey, this is an organized course.” Like what you need to learn—bump, bump, bump—and get. I’m curious, did it hit on any fundamentals, or jump around, or was it pretty focused on, “This is how you build the application”?
Ethan
It was pretty much like, “This is how you build the application.” I mean, to me something that is like, you know, your crawl-walk-run sequence that’s already done for you is so much better than like, “Oh, geez, like what? When do I use useState? Or what is a reducer?” Or something like that. “What’s a ref in React?” And you’re just kind of piecing it together. This actually went through comprehensively in an order that at least made sense to me. So that was kind of how I went about it.
Tanner
I like you bringing up the crawl-walk-run because, I don’t know about most people, I feel like me, I tend to try to run immediately, as soon as there’s a new topic. Like, “I’m going to go on the deep end and I’m just going to try… yeah, Redux!” Right? But then if you step back and just give yourself a little, I don’t know, give yourself a little grace. “Hey, it’s okay to crawl.” Like you can follow this step-by-step tutorial. It’s okay, you don’t have to be brilliant and a genius out the gate.
Ethan
Right, right.
Tanner
So you’ve got master’s in education, you’ve got all these professional bodies that I’m still like, “What? These are even a thing? How long have these been here?” And like, I got into web development and had no idea. And SWEBOK? You’re telling me there’s a whole organized body of knowledge that I didn’t know existed? I’m really curious about the… Is this, are we pronouncing it right, “swee-bock”?
Ethan
That’s how I say it. I don’t know if that’s the official sanction, but you know.
Tanner
If anybody knows, tell us. I’m curious about that, like, are there any highlights or things that you’ve learned from that? That you’ve taken away, like, “This was really useful.”
Ethan
Just as far as like sequencing the knowledge was helpful. And there was a bit in there that was, I tweeted it out the other day, it was something like, “You can either code for reuse or code with reuse.”
Tanner
Tell me more.
Ethan
So like if you code things that are meant to be reusable, you can use them in other areas. And if you think before you actually start coding. I think a lot of people make the mistake of probably coding too early before they understand the problems, or think in terms of abstractions. That was a pretty key nugget of wisdom, I thought, was in there that I can just recall off the top of my head.
Ethan
I think the soft skills were kind of instrumental as well. That’s actually what my master’s project was on when I was getting my master’s degree, was teamwork, collaboration, communication. It’s an area that a lot of companies cited that people were deficient in. So it’s something that, you know, you always see these junior engineers on Twitter or aspiring engineers like, “God, how do I get my first blah-blah-blah?” I’d say emphasize soft skills. Like if you can go in and you can talk to people and you can be like, “Hey, you can put me in front of a client. You can put me in front of a stakeholder.” Because like, the skills are kind of homogenous, right? Like everybody knows HTML, everybody knows JavaScript, CSS, to varying degrees. But I think a lot of what really makes a senior person is, you know, their personality traits on top of their knowledge. It’s just not some brainiac dude sitting down, just banging out code. I mean, it probably is somewhere. But in my experience anyways, the soft skills matter.
Tanner
I’m curious, can you tell me more about these soft skills? And then too, because I feel like I’ve read an article of yours in your blog where you talked a bit about how you’ve used soft skills and how those have played into even… and we can talk about in general or performance specifically. But what are more of these soft skills and how have you seen them play out for you?
Ethan
One thing that, I mean, I guess you just consider them personal skills or even personality traits. But at my current company, I mentioned that I was kind of having difficulty getting people to pay attention to performance. Certainly being at a publisher or a media company, having Core Web Vitals come out from Google, having like that official stamp of approval from Big G, of like, “Hey, this will impact your SEO,” helped.
Tanner
Right.
Ethan
But problem solving is a huge thing, that’s a key soft skill. So I was like, “Okay, we have a problem with performance, but we also have a problem with getting people to acknowledge that we have a problem with performance. So how can I demonstrate that?” And that was really a soft skill in action. I was like, “Okay, nobody likes to say, ‘Our competitors are better than us at X,’ or whatever it is.”
Ethan
So what I actually ended up doing to get sign-off on the performance work was to run a competitive analysis using Lighthouse CLI, just because it was easy to automate. I could store it in the database, I could refer to it periodically, I could take the median, I could do all kinds of different manipulation with the data it gives you. And I was able to show that, you know, were we the best? Eh, sometimes. Were we the worst? Eh, sometimes. In terms of site performance, I should mention, asterisk in case anybody is listening.
Tanner
“We have great content! We do our job!”
Ethan
Yeah.
Tanner
But site speed, sometimes it goes up and it goes down.
Ethan
Right. And then also, like, the teaching and the mentoring thing with my master’s of education. So I have managerial experience at a prior company. And essentially what I did with them (”them” being the people that reported to me and the people on my team) was I created, or helped them to create, an individual education plan for themselves and their own professional development. So it was something that was what they wanted to learn, work on, but I helped them fit it into the context of what we were doing as a company. So it was actually like they were growing during working hours. And I would look for opportunities based on that for them so they would be able to actually put skills into practice.
Tanner
Do you have any examples? Or is there a particular learning plan you can think of and remember? Like, what were some of the items that were on that list or ways that you saw this person grow?
Ethan
So one person went from being pretty junior, just HTML, CSS, not much JavaScript, maybe some jQuery back in the time, but nothing super intense. But by the time that their tenure with me was over, they were writing like MongoDB queries and doing some PHP stuff. I have another person who worked for me that ended up just doing like frontend stuff, and now he’s the head of his own UX team for a pretty major retailer in the fitness space.
Tanner
That’s fantastic.
Ethan
Yeah. Yeah, I guess education works. Who know, right?
Tanner
I’m curious, in your learning experience, like you’ve learned so many things, you’ve covered so many different sides of the development world, what are some things that have maybe surprised you? Or have there things that you’re particularly interested or get confused by or find difficult? Like what are some of those nuggets that you’ve found in your experience?
Ethan
So with regard to the performance work just… It’s one thing to make a site fast but to keep it fast is a whole different issue. Right? Like somebody coming in and adding a third-party package can undo a lot of work really quickly. So just trying to educate people that I work with. And like it’s not a perfect process, but I’m making strides. I’m, you know, if we’re going to introduce a new third-party, let’s test it in isolation. Let’s see how many resources it brings in, let’s see how many domains it brings it in from. What latency penalty are we paying? How much does it block the main thread? And all that stuff. So that’s been pretty important in terms of trying to keep things fast once, you know, once we get there.
Ethan
I guess a key performance learning is you’ve got to elevate the efforts of others, because you can’t be the performance cop, or performance janitor, for the entire codebase.
Tanner
How do you do that? How do you not be the guy telling everybody what to do?
Ethan
I mean, sometimes I am. But, you know, the rapport with the coworkers is pretty good. I think really the personalities of the people I work with, that helps as well. If you’re on like a big-ego type of team and you like telling people like, “Look, you might want to get this third-party domain out of the head and maybe do it later in the process.”
Ethan
Because I think a lot of people make the mistake, and this is, you know, the marketing companies, the analytics companies, have it set up to, in their documentation, for things to work in as many places as possible. So just because the snippet that they give you is the snippet that they give you, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best way to load that snippet.
Tanner
So then you take that snippet and you make it better.
Ethan
I try to.
Tanner
How much do you feel like this is an education problem versus like, I don’t know, a tooling or platform problem? Like when you talk about elevating people, is that elevating them through knowledge? Through better feedback systems? Like what is, what does that look like? What does that mean?
Ethan
Yeah, I mean, I think it is elevating people through knowledge for the most part. Because, you know, a lot of people will test on an office network, or they’ll test on their flagship phone, or they’ll test on a high-spec machine. And not everybody experiences a site that way. I’ve worked from home for five years, even prior to COVID, and I increased the speed of my internet connection during COVID. So I have a pretty fast internet connection, it’s well above the median for what people have in their houses. And it’s really like…
Ethan
Okay, a lot of our publications, they’re for people who are either professionals or hobbyists. But sometimes one of the situations they use us in… Like even a good phone or good device can misbehave sometimes. But like, you might have a contractor who’s out on a job site. Maybe it’s 5G, maybe it’s not. You might have somebody who is, you know, at a… One of the properties I work on is for people who make and sew their own clothing.
Ethan
So there was an engineer at Kroger, the grocery store chain, who was talking about, you know, they test all their phones, or all their sites and applications, on like the worst phone that they sell in their store, which is like pretty terrible. But one of the things that I thought was interesting was the stores are so large, it makes a Faraday cage, which causes like electromagnetic interference and it degrades everybody’s signal, even though they might be in a high population area that might otherwise be good.
Tanner
“Making the World’s Fastest Website, and Other Mistakes.” Yeah, that series was the best. I loved every minute of it. Nope, Taylor Hunt.
Ethan
I should know his name. We’re like from the same city.
Tanner
Oh, really? Taylor, where are you at? We got to meet you, man! So you have a site that’s used in these situations that like, you know, it’s not always great. And so performance is much more important to your bottom line.
Ethan
Yep. Might not always be great. And I mean, some of the stuff, like the evergreen content, like there’s an article on the site about how to set thread tension on a sewing machine. We get tons of traffic from countries that probably aren’t our core subscriber base, but we, there’s like a ton of traffic from like Singapore and Australia and stuff like that. It’s like, “Oh, really?”
Tanner
Yeah, because it’s useful knowledge for them.
Ethan
Yeah, and it’s like everybody who’s into that needs to know how to do it.
Tanner
That’s fantastic. It reminds me, I did, I was helping out with one of our teams at my job, it was HughesNet. They had done a redesign and then noticed, “Oh snap, we’re failing Core Web Vitals. What’s going on?” And long story short, realized, “Oh, that’s right. We sell internet, we sell satellite internet to rural communities. Like we sell internet to the people who can’t get internet otherwise. No wonder all of our performance metrics are so bad.” Like Time To First Byte is upwards of 2 seconds, right?
Ethan
Yeah, yeah.
Tanner
I love those kind of surprises. Have you had any other surprises, I guess? Or things that like, “Oh, I didn’t see that coming!” when you were working on a site?
Ethan
Yeah, like it’s been a lot of trial and error and making mistakes. So I think if you use the tools that are out there, and do the things that they tell you to do, you’ll actually end up with a pretty good product. But once native lazy loading came out, I was way too eager. I’m like, “Let’s lazy load everything!” And of course, you know, that’s not a good idea for your LCP image or what have you.
Tanner
How’d you find out? Like in the moment.
Ethan
I think the way I found out was somebody told me it wasn’t a good idea. I think I was watching a WebPageTest stream or something like that and they’re like, “Don’t lazy load your LCP!” I’m like, “Ooh…”
Tanner
I can see like Tim or Scott or somebody right now, big bug eyes. “Don’t lazy load your LCP!”
Ethan
Yeah, I mean, I think it was Harry Roberts was talking about, you know, how he was working with the Lighthouse team to get that as a thing. Like put that as a warning, like, “Don’t do it!”
Tanner
That’s great. So you, lazy load comes out, you find out about it, you’re like, “This is amazing! I can do native lazy loading in one little attribute. Bam! I’m done.” You get a little overzealous, put lazy loading everywhere, including above-the-fold content. Then, as you’re educating yourself, as you’re watching a stream with Harry Roberts on WebPageTest, Harry says, “Yo, this is a, you may want to”—I would love, does Harry say “yo”? I would love to hear Harry say “yo.” But Harry says, “Hey, make sure you don’t lazy load your LCP image because that can delay it even longer.” And you go, “Oh snap!” You have this revelation, and you double back and go back and fix all your sites.
Ethan
Yeah, I mean, and kind of the beauty of being on a small engineering team is like, I won’t say I have carte blanche to do whatever I want, but like, you know, I don’t have to wait for a sprint to fix something. Or I don’t have to be like, “Hey, I think we should do this.” Like, nah, just open my IDE and I hammer stuff out. So the pace that I’m making some of these changes is really quick. And there’s been some great wins with low-hanging fruit that way because it doesn’t have to go through all that stuff.
Tanner
Yeah. Well here, maybe in closing, do you have any… If you could go back 17 years ago, to young Ethan, what would you tell yourself? What advice would you give yourself in your career?
Ethan
I would say definitely keep learning, but also market yourself.
Tanner
Interesting.
Ethan
I’ve been terrible about that. Like I’ve done some cool things, I’ve been the IT director for a conference that was in Cape Town, South Africa, I’ve worked for some global brands and publishing companies.
Tanner
Ethan, you know what this means?
Ethan
What’s that?
Tanner
You’re gonna have to come on again and tell us all these stories.
Ethan
Alright, fair enough. But like, I’ve done some really cool things. But here I am, 17 years into my career and, you know, it’s like if a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound? And I’m talking even within my company. On Twitter, sometimes I scream my performance wins into the void that is Twitter, as I said in one of my posts to my tens of followers.
Tanner
Hey, you got one more now, though!
Ethan
Yeah buddy! Worth it. So just, you know, doing stuff like that. Let people know, kind of build in public, what are you working on? What are you doing? Can you connect with somebody else that’s doing the same thing and maybe has solved that problem? Like you’d be surprised how quickly and how responsive people in the performance space are. Like when I was, before I really started getting into performance, you know, I never thought I’d be talking to people who were writing specs or browser engineers or work at Google or whatever. It was like, you know, the people I talked to are people I work with at the bar over a beer at happy hour.
Tanner
Right.
Ethan
Which is cool too, like, you’ve got to connect with your coworkers and build that team stuff. But especially when you work at a place for a long time, and like the team I work on, at five years, I’m the newest employee that works on the web stuff…
Tanner
Wow, I feel like that’s unheard of in tech.
Ethan
I know, yeah. There’s like, there hasn’t really, there’s people that have left the team but we haven’t filled the positions, which is unfortunate. But it’s been, I guess like when you have kind of the same old, same old, if you’re not getting out there in the industry and you’re not talking to other people, you’re not really learning about other ideas. So like if you consider even where things were five years ago when I came in, I was like, “Oh, we got all this stuff we can do.” And like now, what was new five years ago is like, “Well, we’ve already implemented that.” Like, where do I get my ideas from now? So it’s from talking to people and stuff like that.
Tanner
I think that is a fantastic way to wrap up here. I mean like, for everybody else out there, by the way, that’s how we met, right? We started chatting on Twitter, right? Like I posted this thing and said, “I want to do a podcast,” and the performance community is so amazing that so many people just jumped in and said, “Yeah, let’s talk. I want to hang out.” Right? Get out there! Get on Twitter, get into the Slack community. We have such a great community with web performance, people are so ready to talk. I think that’s fantastic.
Ethan
Yeah, @EthanGardner on Twitter.
Tanner
There it is! Yeah man, how do people follow you? How are they going to find you?
Ethan
Yeah, so EthanGardner.com, @EthanGardner on Twitter, and then I’m also doing some mentoring on MentorCruise where I help people either get started in their career or grow to the next level in their practice.
Tanner
Ethan, it has been an absolute pleasure. Thanks so much for coming on the show. We’re gonna do another one of these.
Ethan
Alright, man. Sounds good.
Tanner
Sweet.
Ethan
Good talking to you.
Tanner
Byeee!
Ethan
Alright, bye.

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