Charles Max Wood - From Programmer to Full-Time Podcast Wiz


Charles Max Wood (@cmaxw) guides developers in being successful developers and building terrific lives through programming at He’s also on a mission to create a podcast for every programming community. He loves connecting with new people, talking about code, and hanging with his family.

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Episode Summary

“I’ve had mentors and people to help me build my career and I want to help other people do that too.”

—Charles Max Wood

In this episode we’ll cover:

  1. What steps did Charles take to make podcasting profitable?
  2. Why it’s essential to reach out to mentors! Charles sat next to David Heinemeier Hansson at a conference and asked him to be on a podcast
  3. How did having a podcast help Charles get clients when he was an independent contractor?
  4. Why it is still a great time to get into podcasting! Charles thinks podcasts will be much more mainstream in the future.

Key Milestones


Intro (00:18):


Grant Ingersoll (00:19):

Welcome everyone to the develomentor podcast, your source for interviews and content on careers and technology. I’m your host grant Ingersoll. We are in full swing now having recorded over 30 episodes with people from a variety of tech backgrounds. If you’re new to the show, I’d encourage you to go listen to previous episodes at or on Apple or Spotify. On this podcast. We have two simple goals. We want to showcase interesting people in tech across a variety of roles and also highlight the different paths those people took to get to that point in their career. Today’s guest is yet another great example of how a person’s career evolves over time. You went to school for computer engineering, worked a variety of development systems, administration and technician jobs before getting into programming and consulting and eventually podcasting. Along the way, he’s also created a whole series of podcasts with more than 70,000 weekly subscribers focused on a variety of technologies like JavaScript and Ruby and other programming languages. Please welcome to the show, Charles. Max wood. Charles, great to have you here.

Charles Max Wood (01:31):

Hey, it’s great to be here.

Grant Ingersoll (01:33):

Yeah. And thanks for being on the show, Chuck. I mean, I guess the turnabout is fair play as I was a guest on one of your shows way back, I think in 2011.

Charles Max Wood (01:42):

Yeah, it was. So I started a show in 2008 is that when I started my first podcast. I wound up taking over a, a screencast series not long after that. And so I changed the names you were on the teach me to code podcast.

Grant Ingersoll (02:00):

Wow. I could barely even remember 2011 at this point. But you know, perhaps that’s a great way to kick things off then of, you know, why don’t you take a few moments and introduce yourself and some of those key career milestones like you just mentioned kicking off the podcast, you know, how you got your start, how you got into programming, all of those kinds of things I think would be a great intro for the audience.

Charles Max Wood (02:24):

Yeah, absolutely. So I’m on a mission to create a podcast for every programming community that will lead them to create terrific careers and successful lives. Mmm. I’m well on my way and yet there’s so much more work to do, right. Because there are so many communities out there that need some kind of content that’s going to guide them along that path. You know, this is a good example of, you know, some of the skills and ideas and just giving people an example of what’s possible. Now, yeah, as you mentioned, graduated from Brigham young university with a computer engineering degree. Yeah, I had been programming a bit before that. My grandfather actually was a what was he? He was a chemical engineer and he actually invented technology that was used on the a space shuttle.

Grant Ingersoll (03:20):

Oh wow.

Charles Max Wood (03:21):

Um essentially what it did is it checked the inside of the solid rocket booster to make sure there wasn’t any contamination, which could cause the solid rocket booster to explode if it was, it wasn’t clean.

Grant Ingersoll (03:35):

Very cool.

Charles Max Wood (03:35):

Yeah. So he kind of inspired me to get into technology built his own computer at one point, did a whole bunch of other really, really interesting things. And so yeah, so I wanted to be an engineer like he was. And so I took electronics classes in high school went in and signed up for their computer engineer, electrical engineering major in college. Took a couple of computer classes cause they were required, figured out that, Hey, this is a lot of fun. At the same time I thought that the computer programming classes were kind of a joke because we never built anything serious. Mmm. So I switched over to computer engineering focused a lot on hardware and wound up getting an it job at the university that later parlayed into a [inaudible] a job at a company in Utah called mosey.

Charles Max Wood (04:27):

And while I was there, I was running the tech support team. We went to our boss and said, we need a ticketing system. And he said, we can’t afford a ticketing system. So we be programmers. We created our own

Grant Ingersoll (04:41):

Careful what you ask for, right?

Charles Max Wood (04:43):

That’s right. So initially what it was was that we would get emails in, we wrote a system that would pull the emails out. It had canned responses in it so that, you know, for the common stuff we could just click, click, click [inaudible]. It was all in a Ruby on rails app. Eventually grew to actually be a full on ticket ticketing system. And it got to the point where they actually put a full time programmer on it. Right before I left the company. At that point I knew I wanted to be a programmer.

Charles Max Wood (05:12):

I was on the management track, I was running the tech support team. But I figured out pretty fast that I want it to be on the programming track. So I left, I went and worked at a consultants consulting company. I was there for about a year and then they ran out of rails work. And so they laid me off. Incidentally, that was my third wedding anniversary when they laid me off. Mmm. Mmm. When went home. By then I was already podcasting and and doing the screencasts. So I went home, I applied to a bunch of places. My future boss actually when I applied, I showed up, told them who I was. He, he went and out some of the videos. So by the time I showed up, he already knew he wanted to hire me. So five minutes after I left, he he called me up and said, Hey, do you want a job? And I said, sure. When can you start? Well, I can start tomorrow cause I got laid off this morning. And then I went home and I took my wife out to dinner for our wedding anniversary.

Grant Ingersoll (06:16):

So talk about a range of emotions in one day, man. I mean laid off in the morning job in the afternoon. Wedding anniversary at night. Yep.

Charles Max Wood (06:30):

Worked there for a year. Met a bunch of great people. Left there. I went and worked at another company that did crime data, manage crime data for law enforcement agencies. They actually have crime where the public could go and see where crimes that happened around wherever they lived. You know, we anonymize the data. You can see what block it happened on. You couldn’t see the actual address to the crime. But I worked there for six months and then they they, they had made some decisions that took them from being in the black to being back in the red. So they had a big layoff and they laid me off. And at that point I was tired of the ups and downs of well, I can either have a job that I love where I can’t wait to get out of there or I can have a job that I hate and they’re angry at me for leaving.

Charles Max Wood (07:20):

So I went freelance and I did that for six years. One of the best things I ever did. And re I really got a taste for kind of controlling my fate and you know, controlling my career picked up clients. I could tell stories and stories and stories, but I’ll, I’ll let you ask the questions if you want to know more about that. And about eight or nine months after I did that, so this was back in 2011. So, you know, right around when, when we met up I was freelancing and my friend James Gray from the Ruby community, he actually, Mmm. Put up a tweet and said, I wish there was a panel podcast for Ruby. And I had been thinking the same thing. I’ve been listening to the podcast. And so I reached out to him. We got a bunch of people together.

Charles Max Wood (08:14):

I bought a domain. I set up a website. I think he named the show Ruby rogues. And we were off six months later, a friend of mine here in Utah, Jamison dance, comes to me and says, I want to show like Ruby rogues, but for JavaScript uh. I tried to help him start it and eventually just wound up starting it and running it myself. Started a freelancing podcast. Around the same time, couple of years later, I decided I wanted to learn iOS development. So I started an iOS podcast. I still don’t do iOS development, never have but we still have the show. It’s been running for six years or something now. Couple of years after that we started an angular podcast. Mmm. And it got to the point where I had to choose, I didn’t have time to do both the podcasts and the Mmm. And the, the software development and the, the contracting. So I went to my wife and I basically told her to tell me to keep contracting cause that was a responsible thing to do. And she told me to do what I wanted. That would make me happy. Wow.

Charles Max Wood (09:15):

And so for the last three years, I have been full time running dev, which is a podcast network where we’re dedicated, as I said before, to creating a quality podcast for every programming community that teaches them to have a terrific career and quality and successful life.

Grant Ingersoll (09:32):

Wow. I’m, I’m just listening, taking that all in because there’s so many great things in there. I want to go back a little bit cause we’re, we’re gonna get to the consulting and we’re going to get to the podcast and that, those leaps of faith because I think those are super important inflection points in somebody’s career. But I want to come back actually to two people you mentioned in and the one was your grandfather and then other, this a friend or colleague, James Gray. And I mean, you know, part of what I think this podcast is about is this, that, you know, it’s in the name is this notion of, of mentorship. And so, you know, I want to dig in a little bit more there and then talk about if you can like, you know, go a little bit deeper on the impact those folks have had. Your, your, your grandfather, I mean, it sounds like did some amazing work, but also took the time to, to spend time with you on it. And so think about some of the key lessons like that you extracted out of those relationships. Yeah. What helped you?

Charles Max Wood (10:36):

So my earliest recollection of my grandfather, we moved back to Utah. My dad was a dentist, so we moved back from Georgia where he went to dental school when I was five and lived with them for a little while. And then, you know, eventually we, you know, moved out into our own place. And I remember specifically going over to his house as he was, you know, he was always inventing stuff. [inaudible] And one of the things that he invented, I was probably 12 or 13 he invented an ellipsometer and I don’t know if folks know what that is. What it is, is it’s a tool that measures the depth of the oxide layer on Silicon disks that they used to make computer chips. And he had designed a system all on his own and it fit in about the size of a briefcase.

Charles Max Wood (11:31):

And if you go back, you know, 20, 25 years ellipsometers took up an entire room. So the fact that he had one that could measure discs and could do it faster and would fit in a briefcase was a pretty novel thing.

Grant Ingersoll (11:47):

That’s really cool.

Grant Ingersoll (11:48):

And, you know, and he would talk to me about this stuff and, you know, he showed me what it was and how it worked. And you know, obviously I didn’t have a deep understanding of it, but Mmm. Yeah, know it was, it was that kind of thing. And so we would spend time together talking about whatever he was working on.

Grant Ingersoll (12:07):

That’s awesome.

Charles Max Wood (12:09):

And yeah, it was just amazing.

Grant Ingersoll (12:12):

Well, and then I think, you know to reflect there a little bit. I mean, I think in many ways what you’re then doing with the podcast to tie it back to that is in many ways you continuing that legacy of, of your grandfather teaching, right. And taking the time. That’s really cool. What a, you know, like so many things to on pack in here because I think like, you know, in many ways if I, if I think about your career arc, you did a whole bunch of jobs and in many ways all of these, you know, either getting laid off for or the shorter stints at places, time as a system administrator in many ways prepared you for what you’re doing now. This, this ability to go across a lot of different communities and, and sound intelligent and, and interact with those communities in an intelligent way such that you can then earn the trust to, to be a respected member of that community, to create a podcast, you know, talk then a little bit about, or help me understand a little bit more of some of those formative years around acquiring those skills and, and how you put that in perspective now.

Charles Max Wood (13:25):

Yeah, it’s, it’s interesting as far as like the being a mentor and explaining things to people and you know, having an impact on people’s careers. And I still get emails probably every week from people who have let me know that, you know, the, the podcasts have impacted them in one way or another. And sometimes it’s, Hey, you know, you taught me these things and, you know, they came up in interview questions, right? And sometimes it’s you know, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I got laid off. One of my friends told me to learn to code. I started going to meetups and boot camps listen to your podcasts. And, you know, I’m making more money than I ever have. My kid goes to a better school and, you know my marriage was on the rocks, but, you know, we were able to work that out because of something that you talked about on the show. I mean, I’ve heard of it, all kinds of stuff like this. And it’s, it’s crazy because it’s like we’re just talking about programming, but at the same time, you know, we’re, we’re talking about life too

Charles Max Wood (14:34):

You know, so sometimes we are going into the personal stuff and sometimes we’re you know, we do pics at the end of the show, which are just shout outs about stuff that we’re looking at. And so you know, some of the impact we’ve had have been, well you shouted out about this book. Right. And I, and read it and that, you know, and it’s just something that I picked up cause I was interested in it. Right. I wasn’t looking to make you know, an impact on anyone else. I just thought it was something that people might like and it has that impact.

Grant Ingersoll (15:04):

Yeah. That’s interesting too because I think you even mentioned like some of these podcasts, if I, if I heard you correctly, you started because you wanted to learn that technology. Is that right?

Charles Max Wood (15:16):

Yeah. So my first podcast was called rails coach. And the idea was, so I was listening to a podcast called rails envy. And, you know, talk about mentors. Rails envy was done by Greg Pollack and I dunno if you know Greg, he, he’s the founder of code school. Currently I think he’s doing view mastery, I think as the company’s running. And anyway, he, he sold [inaudible] ah, code school to Pluralsight a while back. And anyway, so I emailed him and I thought, Oh, you know, this guy’s a celebrity on the web, right. And I’ll never hear back from him the next day I heard back from, you know, and I was like, and what I said was I doing a podcast looks like fun and I just don’t know what to do. And so he emailed me back and basically told me what to do and encouraged me to interview developers cause I told him I was new.

Charles Max Wood (16:11):

And so he’s like, well, go interview people and get to know them and then you know, you’re going to have these connections and you’ll, you’ll get mentorship that way. And so I said, okay, well do you want to be my first interview? So episode one is with Greg Pollock. Episode three was with James Gray. And I interviewed a whole bunch of people. Episode 50 was with David Heinemeier Hansson who created the Ruby on rails framework. And then yeah, I wound up, you know, connecting with a whole bunch of other people. Eventually I got invited to Apache con and I think that’s where we met. And then we talked about Lucien and solar. Yeah. And so I was able to just connect with these people who were doing all these interesting things. And if I didn’t have a guest that week, then I would just talk about what I was learning about Ruby on rails, which was usually pretty basic stuff.

Charles Max Wood (17:01):

But you know, people were picking it up and really enjoying it. And it turned out that, you know, just that that new program or perspective on, here’s what I’m learning and here’s how I’m learning it. It really connected with people. And then the other thing was, was that yeah, I had this list of people that I could go to when I got stuck or had a problem or a question and I’d wind up getting help. And at the same time I also started working at a company called solution stream, which was a consultancy that was my first programming job after mosey moseys where I found podcasting in the first place. I had a coworker that bought an iPod and was listening to him and got me hooked on them. But you know, I had a great mentor there and he, it was funny because I showed up for the interview and the general manager asked a whole bunch of questions about, you know, working for them and then he wasn’t a technical guy and he really didn’t know rails.

Charles Max Wood (17:56):

And so I wound up on the phone with this this programmer named Nate. And he did the interview with me for like 30 or 45 minutes. And you hear all these eight year olds screaming in the background because his daughter had a birthday party at the time. And he asked me a question and I give as much of an answer as I felt like I understood. And then he actually explained to me what I had missed and I wound up getting hired at that job and he wound up mentoring me for the first year, year and a half of my programming career.

Grant Ingersoll (18:28):

Wow. That’s really cool. Cause the same contract. That’s really cool because a lot of times with the interviews you just, you know, you get the blank stare or you get the yeah, that’s not quite right.

Charles Max Wood (18:39):

But throughout my career, I’ve had these kinds of people involved and because of that it felt natural to help other people. And so the next job I had, I only had a year’s worth of experience as a programmer. I wound up as the team lead. I had more real experience with rails than anybody else on the team. And so I wound up mentoring other people and I, you know, by all rights. I was a junior developer but it’s, it’s that thing and, and if you can set that stage early with people, it, it does, it carries through.

Grant Ingersoll (19:13):

I think there’s something really poignant in there around career advise. A couple of things just to highlight it. The, as I think about it, you know, one is you just kind of went for it with reaching out to people, you know, and in some ways you’re, you know, you were fortunate at the time, like the internet wasn’t as saturated as it is today was spam and all that, but it was still was there still is a fair amount of it. But you know, you took, you took the leap and then you started making connections and then you know that fake it till you make it, if you will or, or lean into the next level seems, you know, like a really key part of this as well. So I just wanted to highlight that for our listeners cause that’s something like when I’m hiring folks, that’s what I look for too, is that lean in, figure it out kind of mentality that says I’m going to go do this because I want to learn.

Charles Max Wood (20:08):

Right. Yeah, absolutely. The other thing is, is that all of the people that I’ve mentioned, whether they’re high profile people like David Heinemeier Hansson or you know, maybe have a lower public profile, they all, were willing to help out. I mean just to give another example, you know, with the H H Mmm. I was at rails comp. He’d given the keynote the day before and I’m walking in to the keynote the next day

Charles Max Wood (20:37):

And I’m walking down the aisle and I see a seat next to him. And I almost kept walking right? Because I was super nervous, you know, this is one my heroes. And I took a deep breath swallowed a little bit of pride and went and sat next to him and started chatting with him and then said something like, you want to come on my show, right? And he, and he said yes. And we worked it out. And that’s the other thing that I found with a lot of folks is that if there’s somebody out there doing something you’re interested in ask, I mean worst case scenario, they’re going to be busy and it’ll take them a little while to get around to you or you know, they may tell you no because they have something critical going on in their lives. I’ve had a few people tell me no, because you know, they have some family issue or something going on. Sure. But the vast majority of people, they are delighted to talk to you.

Grant Ingersoll (21:29):

Yup. That’s the dirty little secret of, of this podcast too, is you know, a lot of the guests on there are just people I wanted, I wanted to learn from. And so I just started emailing. I think you’re, this is about 35, 36 episodes in and you know, we’ve had a whole host of people from a variety of backgrounds and it was just like Hey, do you want to be on the show? And just reach out, you know, I want to,

Charles Max Wood (21:57):

Having a show helps with that though. People, people like being on shows.

Grant Ingersoll (22:00):

Yeah. But like my show didn’t even exist, you know, for a long time. Like there was no social proof for the show. You know, obviously I’ve got some social proof of being in the community and things like that, but, you know, they, many of them don’t know me. I’ve never met me. I just give them a little pitch, the elevator pitch and say, you know, what do you think? And you know, people like to talk about themselves. So it’s a great format. I think what you’re doing and, and I’m trying to actually emulate that as well here.

Charles Max Wood (22:34):

Yeah. I just, I just want to make it approachable for people, right. I want to show them that, Hey, look, you know, the, the person that maintains this giant project that you use every day to get your work done is human. Just like you. I actually have three shows on dev, two of which I host that are similar to this, where I capture somebody’s story and we just talk through their journey. Yeah. Yeah. It’s awesome. It’s the same idea, right? It’s like, look, this is the person that invented, you know, whatever. And they’re just a person like you. And sometimes the, you know, sometimes they’re the sort of stereotypical genius coder that was a kid that was, you know, hacking on stuff when they were 10. But I would say about 50% of the people we talked to who have done high profile things in the programming community, they picked it up as an adult and some of them didn’t even go to college. Yeah. And so it, I mean, you can be anybody and come do this.

Grant Ingersoll (23:30):

Yeah, for sure. Now, and that’s one of the themes of this show for sure. I want to hit on, come back to a specific point in your life that, that conversation with your wife of well well probably I think, I think there’s two levels there. The first level of like, I’m going to go [inaudible] beyond my own. I’m going to take my career into my own hands. You know, that proverbial who else would I bet on besides me [inaudible] thing. Or if you don’t feel comfortable betting on yourself, then you probably got a problem. Right? Yeah. Drilling on that a little bit more, cause I think that such a poignant moment in life of taking that leap and then, you know, how did you get your first customer? How did you like kind of build out, you know, make, make a living as it were?

Charles Max Wood (24:23):

Well, I don’t know if we have time, I’ll have to summarize some of it. Sure. yeah, so the conversation went something like this. So I have to set a little bit of this stage. So I got laid off on September 16th of 2010 and I call that independence day. It’s been almost 10 years or almost, yeah, it’s been just nine years, I guess, at this point. So anyway, what happened was we had just [inaudible] done this big long death March. And if you haven’t worked at the death March, let me explain. You don’t sleep. You work like 80 hour weeks and they promise you something to make it worth it. So in our case the iPad was that brand new thing and they were super cool and everybody wanted one. And so they bribed us with basically, I think it was bonus that amounted to more or less double pay for the two or three weeks that we were doing the death March.

Charles Max Wood (25:20):

Plus we’d get an iPad. So I had the, you know, first gen iPad. Yeah. Anyway, so we did the death March and then at the end of the death March, I was actually speaking at a conference here in Utah at a Ruby conference. And so I went up to the conference with my friend David Brady who was on Ruby rogues for a long time. And another mentor of mine incidentally. And you know, so we were at the conference, we did all our stuff, came back. I showed up to work that, you know, on that day. And you know, HR comes in and says, know you know, Charles Wood, David Brady. And then another developer that worked with us named Mack called, called for us to go into the office. Of course David was late, so he wasn’t there called us in and basically said, Hey, look the company is going through a reorg and basically it was, we were in the black, now we’re in the red. The board’s not happy. They fired the COO, they fired the CIO. They’ve they’ve laid off half of the sales team. They’re trying to lay off half of the developers and you know, so the three of you are getting the ax and Mmm. Anyway, so that’s kind of how that went. Of course, I texted David about two hours later because, you know, he wasn’t there when I got laid off and I got a text back. Hang on, I’m getting fired.

Charles Max Wood (26:49):

That’s his, that’s his dry sense of humor. So anyway got laid off, came home and you know, I looked at my wife and I was like, you know what? I got laid off, blah, blah, blah. But we, we had that bonus and they gave us a couple of weeks of severance. So I had about a month to month and a half’s worth of money in the bank. Yeah. Nice. And I looked at her and I said, I want to go freelance. And she looked at me and she said something like, well, okay. And I mean it was, it was, it was like a two or three weeks freak out. Like full-on. She, I could tell that she was not comfortable with it. And her, her dad’s a general contractor and he’s been on his own forever. And so he came and he sat down and he talked through it with her, with us a little bit and she seemed to feel a little bit better about it.

Charles Max Wood (27:42):

And then I just looked at her, I said, look, I said, we’ve got a month’s worth of money, so I’m going to go get a contract. And when you know, we run out of money between the contract and you know, the severance and the bonus, then I’ll go get a job. Right. We won’t miss us, we won’t miss a mortgage payment. I’ll just, you know, I’ll get a job. And so I was doing the [inaudible] dual job search. I was looking for a job or I was applying jobs and I was looking for contracts and I found a company that was looking for a contractor. And of course I had no idea what I was doing freelancing. I made some friends within that first month, the, it was a group of guys that were all on the same Skype channel that would help each other out.

Charles Max Wood (28:26):

And so this was after I took the contract though and it turned out I got the contract because I bid $60 an hour and everyone else bid over a hundred dollars an hour cause I had no idea by the way, folks even if you’re new, you should be billing out at at least a hundred an hour as a contractor. Just free advice. So anyway, so I got the contract and I had that money coming in and then I had connections from the podcasts and the screencasts. And so people were introducing me to other people out there. And I wound up getting lined up with one contract and then I had another listener to the rails coach podcast, call me on the phone cause I went back on, teach me to So I guess it was a teach meter code podcast at that point. He called me up on the phone cause I posted my phone number and said, Hey, I listened to your podcast, I want you to build me an app and rails. And so I never ran out of money. So I kept [inaudible] contracting. And after about a year, my wife was so accustomed to having me at home that sometimes I would joke, well maybe I should just go get a full time job. And she’d be like, no. Right. Because she can go run errands. She didn’t have to take the kids.

Charles Max Wood (29:42):

Right. At this point, my youngest is three, she goes to preschool twice a week. And so you know, she still takes off and leaves, you know, my daughter with me. But you know, another couple of years and that won’t even be an issue for a good part of the day. Yeah. but anyway, so that, that turned out to be a really, really nice thing. You know, we ran into some issues like getting insurance and things like that, but for the most part that’s how that worked out. So, you know, my network found me work and then when I started running out of work, once Ruby rogues and JavaScript Jabber were picking up steam, if I knew a contract was ending, I would just go on the show and say, Hey, I’ve got it. You know, I’ve got some opening, some time opening up and I would always fill it.

Grant Ingersoll (30:27):

Hmm. You, you are your own advertising at that point. Yeah,

Charles Max Wood (30:31):

The way that I initially intended it initially it was just, Hey, I want to talk to these guys about Ruby every week.

Grant Ingersoll (30:37):

Yeah. But Hey, you’ve got a platform. [inaudible]

Charles Max Wood (30:40):

That’s the way it worked out. And yeah, it did. It worked out great. You know, we had thousands of people listening to the shows and it was like, Hey, I’m, you know, I need work and people would come and give me work.

Grant Ingersoll (30:50):

That’s fantastic. And I mean, [inaudible] it’s nice again, like how it weaves together, right? Like this, Hey, I’m going to do the, I’m going to take these chances, I’m going to plant some seeds early in my career. I’ve got my main thing, but I’m also, I’m always planting seeds. I think in many ways that’s that side hustle mentality or at least the exploratory approach to careers, which is always been something I’ve done as well. Let me ask you before we shift gears and kind of start looking at the here and now and forward as you reflect back, I mean, what’s been something that’s been surprising about it all? You know, something that the 18 year old Chuck, we’d be like, are you kidding me? I did that.

Charles Max Wood (31:40):

So when I was 18 I was, I’d probably already been accepted to BYU. I agree. You know, I graduated high school went to college. And you know, my mom had kind of a, you know, drilled into us. I’m the oldest of 10 children by the way.

Charles Max Wood (32:05):

So she had kind of drilled into all of us, you know, the life pattern, right. It’s you know go to college, go on a mission. I’m a latter day Saint member of the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints. You go to church of Jesus if you want to know more about that, but anyway, so she, you know, go on a mission and get married in the temple. Right. Cause that’s, that’s the way we do it. Yeah. So so, so I just figured that that was the way, right. And then I guess the unspoken one was, and get a good job. And so you know, that that was a path. Right? And so I growing up, and you know, 18, I just assumed that I was just going to go get a corporate job somewhere, doing something in tech because I love tech and I would just work that out until I retired.

Charles Max Wood (33:00):

And then I’d probably go on more missions when I was old and you know, with whoever I wound up marrying and that would be it. Yeah. And what it turned out, the way that things have gone is that the more that I have realized, you know, a who I am as a person and what I want, and then I’ve had more or less the audacity to go get it. So, Hey, I want to do podcasts and Oh, I love this. I’m going to do more podcasts. Right. When I started my first podcast, I never ever thought that it would become a career. And I didn’t even think there was a possibility. Right. I was just doing it for fun. Yeah. And you know, the same thing with the screencast, you know, some people would donate money to me and that was awesome, you know, and I saw people like Ryan Bates doing RailsCasts and Oh, okay, so maybe I can make a little bit of side money.

Charles Max Wood (33:53):

Right. but, but it was all just playtime. Yeah. And you know, the same thing with a software development. You know, once I figured out that I really enjoyed doing it, which wasn’t in college, it was, you know, later in my career when I was in management you know, going, okay well I’m going to go for it. Right. I was in management then I was in QA at that company and QA was a stepping stone to Mmm. Moving into development and everybody thought I was nuts for giving up on the management track, but it was what I wanted. And you know, it, it’s interesting cause that’s, that’s where my energy pointed me. It was where my thought process was. It was what I really wanted to do, where I really wanted to be. And [inaudible] I allowed myself to dream about it and just by doing that much and then, you know, taking a step that direction and then another one, you know, not, not even really even daring hope that it could become a reality and then realizing that, you know, if I reach for it and now I’m to the point where it’s like, I want that and then I go work my tail off to get it.

Charles Max Wood (35:06):

Because I’ve realized at this point that I can control it. I can control, I can control the ship. Yeah. And so, you know, the, the idea behind, you know, what would 18 year old Chuck be blown away by? It’s basically that I have just, you know, I’ve looked at what I wanted and I’ve [inaudible] basically become the guy who can go out and get whatever I want and all I have to do is work hard enough at it.

Grant Ingersoll (35:33):

Yeah. That’s really cool. Yeah. So, so many powerful things in there in terms of how you think about your career. Cause I can echo similar things of like this, this notion of guided exploration as I’ve reflected back as you know, has been something that has underpinned a lot of it. I wasn’t actually very intentional and there’s a lot of intentionality speak these days. But to me like this notion of yes, you set up some foundational things in your life and you kind of set up a framework, but then you have this ability to go explore what you you like and what you discover later such that you’re not stuck with this. You know, here’s what 18 year old Chuck wants you. You have that freedom in your own mind to go explore. I think that’s a really powerful piece and it’s not necessarily just about following your passion when you’re 18 and it’s about being open to new possibilities when you’re 26 and it sounds like you did that. So that’s, that’s awesome. Chocolate. Kudos to you for, for having the courage to do that.

Charles Max Wood (36:34):

Yeah. One other thing I just want to add to that is that when I was 18 there was a plan, right? I was going to go on my mission, I was going to come back, I was going to finish my bachelor’s degree and then I was going to go get a PhD. Okay. And as time went on, then it turned into I was going to get a law degree and then I graduated with my bachelor’s degree and I was done with school and you know, and then the plan was to get married at, you know, 21, 22 you know, real young. Cause you know, that’s, that’s what I felt like I was supposed to do. You know, that’s the way it’s supposed to work out. And I didn’t meet my wife until I was 25 Hmm. And you know, and so all of these things have been, you know, deviations from the plan and none of it was wrong.

Charles Max Wood (37:23):

And I think that’s the other thing is, is we get this idea of how things are supposed to be and we’re not brave enough to go out and get away from that. And you miss so many opportunities. Yeah. You know, the, the, those people that are up there somewhere aren’t that different from you. And if you can just kind of realize that that might be where you want to end up or maybe you’re fine, you know, being in the background and pushing the company from behind, and that’s fine too, but it doesn’t have to follow this prescripted script for your life and, you know, figure out what’s working for you, what’s making you happy and go do that.

Grant Ingersoll (38:06):

Yeah, for sure. Well, and especially if you can intersect it with ways to, you know, put food on the table. I think you’re, you’re, you’re answering my last, what would be my last question? So I’m going to perhaps come back to that a little bit here and I know we’re we’re nearing the end of this episode, but I want to focus a little bit of time on, you know, what’s this landscape look like for you? And you’re in this podcast business. I mean, it’s, podcasts have skyrocketed and, and so in many ways, like that early mover advantage that you had is now morphed into like, you know, Hey, there’s a guy like me who’s got a podcast. There’s anybody can podcast. At some level, that doesn’t mean everybody’s good at podcasting of course. But how do you think about that space now of, of being in the tech podcasting business?

Charles Max Wood (39:08):

So I have a few thoughts. One of the first ones is, you know, you’re like, well, you know, you had this early mover advantage and I guess if you’re, you know, 30 episodes, you know, 30 ish weeks into your podcast, then yeah, I have an early mover advantage just compared to you. Yeah, for sure. Podcasting is still early. It’s still early days. It’s still growing, it’s gonna grow, it’s gonna continue to grow a lot. I see podcasting growing to the point where it becomes as mainstream as TV, radio. I think YouTube has room to grow YouTube ish stuff. And so we’re going to see a lot of the internet media continue to grow or over the next five to 10 years. So, you know, yeah. Anybody who starts now still has early mover advantage.

Grant Ingersoll (40:00):


Charles Max Wood (40:03):

The other thing that I see here is that in some ways the medium is going to change just like everything else has. I don’t know exactly where it’s going to go. We’re seeing a lot more people doing a lot more interesting things with them, the podcast medium, so that, that’s interesting. You know, and you can go look at like the new categories in iTunes just for an idea. Right. you know, well, we have things like crime dramas being their own or true crimes [inaudible] the true crime dramas being their own thing. Yeah. And you know, stuff like that. So people are telling more stories on podcasts and things like that. But yeah, I think more and more people are going to continue to find their tribes just as they’ve done on social media, but through podcasts and things like that. The other thing is, is that I think more and more brands are going to recognize the power of putting a message out there through podcasting. And I think we’re going to see a lot more corporate podcasts come out over the next few years.

Grant Ingersoll (41:07):


Grant Ingersoll (41:08):

So, you know, those are a few things that I kind of foresee coming. As far as the software industry goes you know, since we’re working so closely in this space and talk to so many people I think we’re on the cusp of a big change there and I don’t know if it’s going to be in one year or five years, but I think we’re getting really close to a few things. One of them basically that a lot more people are realizing that they have a lot more power to control their own destiny within their career. And so I’m trying to help people figure that stuff out. I’m actually working on a membership site that covers a lot of this stuff.

Charles Max Wood (41:53):

I’ve created the concept of the max coder. It’s, it’s kind of a deviation off of the 10 X engineer cause I hate that term and you know, but I love the idea of, you know, what somebody that’s out there and just maxing out what they’re doing. And max coders is kind of a play on my name. My middle name is max, my dad’s name was max. You know, and, and he was super poor and pulled himself out of poverty and became a dentist. I mean, he, you know, he went, got a doctorate degree and you know, and the same thing here, right. I’ve, I’ve had all of these mentors and people to help me build my career and I want to help other people do that too. So, you know, I think we’re going to see a lot more movement in that space just as far as people figuring out where they fit in and what they want and then, and then being able to go and get it.

Charles Max Wood (42:43):

Mmm. A lot of companies are going to become a lot more decentralized. Mmm. And I don’t know if I think the web is going to become more and more of a backbone, a detail. And I think we’re going to see some other interesting technologies come through. And I don’t know if that’s AR and VR. I don’t know if it’s IOT. Probably some combination of the two. You know, blockchain may play a role in that. I’m seeing interesting things being said on both sides of that argument. But yeah, you know, we’re, we’re going to continue to shape the future and the possibilities of what life really looks like for people over the next several years as well. And that’s going to impact the industry as it comes up back around to what the possibilities are and just how accessible technology is to people. Not just from the standpoint of how it impacts their life, but what people can make it do as, you know, what we consider programmers. And so what we’re going to see some changes come through in a lot of ways and it’s going to affect corporate and it’s gonna affect technology. And it’ll be interesting to see how that all adds up, do what we consider programming in the future.

Grant Ingersoll (43:53):

Yeah, for sure. And I think, you know, add onto that things like AI assisted programming, AI assisted design, product design, like all of those things where, you know, essentially we have the computers helping us explore an idea space such that we can produce new things. I mean those are some really powerful,

Charles Max Wood (44:14):

Deeply into data science. Yeah. Which pulls a lot of data from IOT. I mean it, it all connects.

Grant Ingersoll (44:21):

Yeah. It all ties together for sure. Let’s shift gears in the interest of time and kind of wrap up with what I like to ask all my guests is as some final questions. I think in many ways you, you answered this first one already a bit ago, but you know, kind of sum up if you will. There’s best piece of advice, you know, the, the, the max advice, if you will, to play on yournew forum that you’re starting, you know, around your career.

Charles Max Wood (44:55):

So I have a brother and a cousin who are taking computer science right now and they’re probably going to graduate soon. One’s going to BYU and the other one’s going to Western governors university which is online, a Western governor’s online. BYU is, you know, it’s, they’ve got lots of buildings over in Provo. So they both asked me on different occasions what skills do I need to be successful once I graduate? And you know, they’re getting ready to write down, you know, what you need to understand these algorithms or something from their class. And I looked at him and I said, I said, the skill you need is your ability to work with people. Yeah. Specifically what that boils down to is your ability to communicate well with other people. And they kind of looked at me funny and I said, these companies, if you can work well with other people and you’ve proven, you know, you have a piece of paper that says bachelor’s degree on it, you’re, you’ve proven that you can understand the technology, they’ll teach you the technology and they’ll be happy to do it.

Charles Max Wood (45:58):

But if you can’t work with other people, if you can’t communicate about these issues because any more building technology that means anything out in the world is a team sport. Yeah. You know, it’s all so complicated anymore that you’re going to be building it with other people and you’re going to need the other people involved to get it deployed and functioning and you know, everything like that. And yet it was certain degree. You can figure some of this stuff out on your own. But if you’re going to work at a company and they’re going to hire you, that’s what they’re looking for. They’re, they’re going to be looking more and more for those kinds of soft skills. And so if I can encourage people to do anything in their career, a lot of times we get focused on those hard technical skills and yeah, don’t get me wrong. That’s important because that’s how you get your work done. But by far the thing that’s going to disqualify you from getting a job or give you the most job security is your ability to contribute to the team. And that’s not going to be your technical knowledge as much as it’s going to be. How well you can interface with everybody else and bring the whole team up.

Grant Ingersoll (47:05):

Yeah, that’s, that’s, I couldn’t have said it any better. It’s so true, Chuck. I mean, I reflects my own career, my own career path. That moment when that light bulb went off of saying, you know what I need to work on my soft skills, career trajectory, career trajectory took off. You got paid more. I had more opportunities, I got more interviews, I got more offers. Everything across the board got better and I can point to very specific point in time when I started making those investments.

Charles Max Wood (47:41):

Yup. And that’s what max coders is all about. You know, I’m putting it all up on max coders.IO.

Grant Ingersoll (47:46):

That’s awesome.

New Speaker (47:46):

And yeah, it’s, it’s, Hey look, you know, yeah, we’re going to talk about doing a job search and we’re gonna talk about, you know, putting together a resume and we’re going to talk about how to learn stuff and you know, how to make sure that you understand the technology where I’m talking about all of that stuff. But ultimately we’re also going to talk about these critical skills that you have to have in order to be successful and they’re not going to be the technical skills.

Grant Ingersoll (48:09):

That’s really cool. [inaudible] Probably is a good segue into my last question for you then is, you know, where can our listeners get ahold of you? You’ve got dev chat, TV max coders, you know, fill us in on, on the universe that is a Charles max Wood and and how we can connect with that.

Charles Max Wood (48:29):

Yeah, absolutely. So there are a few places. I do check my Twitter notifications. So if you at C M XW or C max w, that’s my first initial middle name, last initial I’ll reply period. So you know, you can do that. You can DM me. If you want to talk face to face, go to dev minutes. Let’s a chat about TV slash one five minutes. It’ll take you to a [inaudible] [inaudible] place where you can actually schedule a zoom call with me for 15 minutes and I’ll talk to, I’ll answer any questions you have. I’m happy to help people. I also have a newsletter that I put out every week and it’s about the same kinds of things that we’re talking about with max coders. Just go to dev,, put your email address in any of the forms on there and yeah, you’ll get, you’ll get those emails every week along with a Roundup of all the episodes that we’re putting out every weekend, things like that.

Charles Max Wood (49:27):

Mmm. And yeah, I mean people are welcome to email me too. It’s just Chuck at dev chat, not TV. And like I said, I’m happy to help people out. I really, really love talking to people and seeing if I can make a difference. And, and that’s really the big pay off for me. Right? I mean my, my kids get to eat every day, so that’s not a concern. You know, we live in a decent house, so that’s not a concern. So, you know at this point it’s, you know what, I’m trying to put as much out there into the world to make a difference for developers. And sometimes it’s the general stuff that we talk about on the podcast and sometimes it’s the one on one stuff that, you know, comes out of an email when somebody has a quick question or you know, needs advice. Cause they can’t seem to get anybody to call them back when they send them their resume. And like I said, I’m happy to help people with any of that stuff.

Grant Ingersoll (50:16):

Awesome. Chuck, I mean that is so cool. So many great ways of getting hold of you and I love that you’re living that value that you learned. And, and talked about back early on of if somebody’s asking, you’ve got a means for, for you to engage with them may not be right off the bat. But yeah,

Charles Max Wood (50:34):

You also mentioned max coders.IO. So the, the plan there is not just going to be a forum and you know, I’m planning on putting up video lessons and things like that. I’m also planning on doing a Q and a call every month. I’m also planning on bringing in experts and people out in the field to come do a webinar, essentially for members every month. And yeah, just putting all that stuff together so that people have the resources that they need. And sometimes I’m not the right guy to answer those questions. And that’s why I’m bringing in some of these other folks. So yeah, that’s the, that’s the big picture plan for that is just to make sure that we are hitting every angle we can to help those people succeed. And you can just go sign up at max coders. Dot. IO. It is a paid membership, but I’m trying to strike that balance between affordability and being able to pay enough to make, you know, make good use of my time.

Grant Ingersoll (51:33):

Yeah, that makes sense. That makes total, well, as a content producer, it makes total sense to me. I mean you know, you put out a lot that is free for people to consume. I’m a [inaudible] totally fine. Somebody can come along and say, here’s things that aren’t free. That’s how the world works. And I don’t see any shame in that. So, Hey, Chuck, thank you again. So many amazing things in there and I love the career arc, so I especially love the, the moments with your grandfather there. That is stuff that you know you wish every kid had had in their life because the world would be a lot better place. So I want to thank you very much for, for joining me here today.

Charles Max Wood (52:17):

Yeah. Well thanks for inviting me. This was, this has been really fun.

Grant Ingersoll (52:21):

Yeah, no doubt. And really enjoy the conversation is always for our listeners, if you’d like to show, of course, we’d love for you to subscribe, give us feedback, rate the show on Apple podcast, Spotify, et cetera. You always can visit us at to hear older episodes to listen to this one again, to hear info that Chuck put out there. Of course, we will also be linking up all of that information in the show notes. Thank you again.

Charles Max Wood (52:52):

Yup. Two things. As a podcaster, the, the biggest thing that you can do to help grant out is tell a friend, get them to listen to the show. And then the other thing is, is just go for it. Max out, everybody.

Grant Ingersoll (53:06):

Thanks, max.

Outro (53:25):


Additional Resources

Selected Links from the episode: - Charles Max Wood’s Podcast network focused on building a podcast for every programming community - For private consulting with Charles, sign up here

People mentioned in the episode:
Greg Pollack - Code School, Rail Envy Podcast, View Mastery
David Heinemeier Hansson - Ruby on Rails framework