Epic Web Conf '24 Speakers

Kent C. Dodds

Software Developer and Educator

Talks

  • Wednesday, 10:00 AM4:00 PM
    Advanced React Patterns **OPTIONAL WORKSHOP REQUIRES A SEPARATE TICKET**
  • Thursday, 9:10 AM9:30 AM
    Keynote
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Bio

Kent C. Dodds is a world renowned speaker, teacher, and trainer and he's actively involved in the open source community as a maintainer and contributor of hundreds of popular npm packages. He is the creator of EpicWeb.dev, the Epic Stack, EpicReact.dev, and TestingJavaScript.com. He's an instructor on egghead.io and Frontend Masters. He's also a live streamer, podcaster, and conference organizer. Kent is married and the father of five kids.

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Interview

Hey Kent, I'm really excited to get to watch you speak at the Epic Web Conf in April. So thank you for joining. I wanted to learn a little bit more about you, so welcome, and tell me a little bit about yourself for those who don't know you. Yeah, thanks Shaundai. So this is kind of flipping the script a little bit.

I know everybody's used to having me be the one interviewing, but I'm speaking. And so Shaundai, thank you so much. For those of you who don't know Shaundai, she's just an amazing, wonderful person that you should get to know better. But yeah, so for myself, I have a wife and five kids.

I live in Utah with them, and I am a full-stack web developer, and my goal in life is to teach people how to build quality applications. I worked at a number of companies for a while and then went full-time teacher in like 2019, I think.

And I created TestingJavaScript.com, EpicReact.dev, and then KentCDodds.com, also actually a pretty cool app. And then finally, Epic Web is what I'm working on now, and so I took a little break between

Epic React and Epic Web to help build the Remix community as a member of the Remix team. That's where I get this cool sign behind me, the Remix sign. But yeah, so I ran RemixConf a couple of years, decided that I wanted to keep the conference stuff going.

And so after I left Remix, I started planning Epic Web Conf, and so that is what's going on now. So super excited to meet everybody over in Park City in April. That's so cool. How did you get your start speaking at conferences? Oh, yeah.

So I actually, I went to my first conference, it was NGConf here in Utah, and it was my co-workers at Domo were putting that together. And so I show up and I'm like, wow, this is amazing.

I definitely want to do this some more. And so I started applying to conferences, I got accepted to one in, well, actually, I got rejected. It was Midwest JS, I got a rejection letter, I was kind of bummed, but it's fine, I get rejected a lot from various things.

And they actually reached out later and said, hey, we had a speaker back out, would you be interested in speaking? And I said, yeah, that sounds great. So I got in like just barely, and that was just an awesome experience. And so I started applying to conferences a lot.

And there was one conference, or like, I think it may have been even my second conference, I got accepted. And only after I got accepted, did I realize it was in Sweden. So I was like, oh, I guess I'm going to Sweden now. And they had me, actually, this is so crazy.

They had me give a three hour, not really talk, but like not a workshop either. It was like a watch me code for three hours type thing. And I taught AngularJS to a crowd of like 300 people for three hours. It was just, yeah, that was crazy.

But then the next day, I did like a regular 30 minute talk or whatever, or maybe it may have been an hour. And then the day after that, the next two days after that, I gave like a formal workshop. So I jumped into the speaking thing like really quick, and I really took to it.

So yeah, I've probably given, well, well over 100 talks, whether it be conferences and meetups over my career. Wow, that's amazing. So if you could sum up maybe one or two learnings that you would like first time speakers to

be able to know, what would you say? I think one thing that seems to help speakers a lot is knowing that even seasoned speakers get a little bit nervous getting up in front of a bunch of people.

And so even though I've practiced this, and I'm really good at getting up and having that energy and stuff, and I feel confident with my material, my heart beats faster, and I'm having trouble breathing, and all of those symptoms, I just get that nervous energy before

going up to speak. So I think that helps some speakers feel like they're not alone when they're just getting started. Another thing that helps a lot is just practice. You just have to practice your stuff.

And the more time that you prepare and practice like in front of a mirror or like in front of your koala plushie or whatever it is, the better that that experience is going to go for you.

And the more that you speak in general, the less time you have to practice just for like the speaker presence. You still have to, like every time you need to practice the material, but the more you speak, the less you have to focus on the process of speaking, and you can focus more of your

attention on what the actual outcomes you want from the talk are. So as with many things, it gets better with experience. That's awesome. That's awesome. So what are you speaking about at EpicWeb.com? So I'm actually, my talk is still kind of up in the air.

I have a couple of ideas though. So years ago, DHH gave a talk about Rails when Rails wasn't even really a thing on many people's radar, and the talk was building a blog in 15 minutes. So I think the talk was only 15 minutes long, and he said, we're going to build a blog,

and I'm going to do it live right in front of you. And that was like a lot of people's first introduction to Rails. And like a big part of what Rails is, is code generation. And so he was like, all right, now we need a post. And so right in the terminal, make me a post, and it made the database model, migrations and all of that stuff, and even a UI for it and everything.

And it just like blew everybody's minds that this sort of thing was possible. And now that like, with the tools that we have now, there are actually quite a few tools that are kind of similar in that way. But I think that the Epic stack could benefit from some code generation stuff like that.

And so I have been toying with the idea of adding that to the Epic stack and then announcing it in that way at the conference. So that may happen. The challenge there is I have to build that, and I'm not sure that I have enough time to do that.

Because I've got my Epic React workshop series that I'm working on right now. So there could be something around that. Also, I am really interested in React server components right now. I'm investing a lot of time in understanding that to the level where I can help people

understand it and teach that. And so I could talk something about the future of React and server components and things. The future of React is so good. The server components are, it's understandable that people don't understand it.

But it is like once we figure out how to talk about it properly, and once there's more experience in the world with that, it really is a game changer. So definitely thinking about that a little bit too.

But I could also just do something a little bit more like, let's talk about community and how to be a good citizen of this ecosystem. And so, yeah, still a little bit up in the air for me.

The cool thing about it, it's not really a problem, but it's a nice problem to have, is that you have so many great things that you could talk about technically, or all the things that you've learned from building a community, speaking at conferences. So the world is your oyster. Thanks.

Is there anything, as the conference organizer, is there anything specific that you want attendees to get out of the conference itself? Yeah. So I really, my goal for the conference is, well, to take a step back.

The reason that I love conferences so much is because it gives you an opportunity to break that virtual barrier that we have. So there could be people that you know of, but you've never talked with, or even people

that you have talked with online, that once you meet them in person, it completely changes your experience of interacting with that person, even online. And you just get to know their mannerisms more, and you get to just know them as a person.

They become just a much more real person to you. And so that's only the sort of thing that you can do when you meet them in person. It definitely helps to transition from, like, oh, I talk to you on Twitter sometimes, to oh, I talk to you on video chat. That is a significant difference.

But then going from I talk to you on video to I talk to you in person, it just changes things about your relationship. And that change enables things like good networking for career opportunities, which I actually I got my job at PayPal because of a relationship I developed at a conference.

It also allows you to collaborate on interesting software and open source related stuff, too. And so I just find that by bringing people together, really awesome and magical things happen that we want to have happen to make the world a better place.

And so my goal as the conference organizer is to create a space where that sort of thing can happen. And I want that to happen in Utah, because I know that Utah is just a fabulous place. People love it here. I love it here, and I want more people to see how great it is.

And it also gives me an opportunity to make space for people in the community that I think need more visibility. Certainly I bring people in who are my friends that have plenty of visibility, and they also help to draw people to the conference, too.

So there's obviously all of that, too. But every one of the speakers at this year's event was handpicked by me. I reached out to each person. I didn't get everybody that I wanted on that stage, but I did get a lot of the people that I wanted on that stage, and I invited them personally, because I just feel like they

have something important that I want them to share. So there is an aspect to this that's a little selfish in that I have messages that I want to get out into the world, and so I can run a conference and make that happen. I love that. It's like you're scaling yourself through community, through conferences. So that's awesome.

Okay. Awesome. Speaking of community and people, what would you hope that people come up and talk to you about or ask you about during the conference? Yeah. I definitely want to... So first of all, we're multifaceted people. We're not just about tech, and that's one of the cool things about being at a conference

is that you get to see the other sides of people. And so I definitely want to hear about people's personal interests. I love to talk with people about my family and my faith, and also my snowboarding and riding one-wheels and all of those things that make us more than one-dimensional.

But I do like to hear about people's tech, and I want to hear about the tech stack that you're using and the things that you love about it and the things that are challenging with it. And I definitely appreciate when people come up and say, hey, thank you for your course because it helped me get this promotion or whatever, please do tell me that.

It really fires me up. So those sorts of things are the kinds of things I'd love to talk with people about. I want to hear what they're working on. If you got anything out of the rest of these other interviews with speakers, hopefully one thing that you got was the speakers want to talk to you.

So don't be nervous coming up and talking with us. We absolutely are hoping that you do that. So I hope to talk with all of you soon. Speakers love that. Awesome. Anything else that you want to add? No, that's it. Thanks Shaundai for interviewing me for this.

For those of you listening, Shaundai had no idea that we were going to do this. I just messaged you on Twitter like, hey, could you really quick just hop in this riverside with me? So thank you, Shaundai. You did a great job as an interviewer. And thank you all. I hope to see you in April. Thank you.

Bye.

See you at the Epic Web Conf!

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