Goblin update, hacker news & impostor syndrome

Goblin update, hacker news & impostor syndrome
Quick playlist for this week

Hi Goblins!

I've been a bit quiet over the last few weeks. I've been deep diving on some core concepts around Goblin and feel like I'm making progress and have some direction (this is probably the best a founder could ask for 😅).

I'm going to be traveling over the next couple of weeks (my sister is getting married in Vegas on Halloween and I'm dressing as a Goblin... that's a business expense I think?!) so apologies if I'm slow to respond.

Scroll down for a "too long didn't read" explanation of Goblin and a long musing re: Hacker News, impostor syndrome, and empathy in software development.

here's a wholesome watercolor by @swatercolour

Goblin tl;dr

What is Goblin?

Goblin is a whimsical reminder app. It helps you:

  • Declutter your brain by removing things that you need to remember.
  • Spark joy by reminding you of fond memories, showing you old pictures, and helping you keep in touch with your loved ones.
  • Discover how to "adult" at any age with a reminder template library populated with reminders from other Goblin users and experts.

More details on the website. Make sure you try out the "Done" button (or see a preview in this video:

a dose of dopamine for the soul

How can I sign up?

There's a waitlist on goblinapp.com. I'm planning to let people in off the waitlist over the next couple months so that's the fastest way to get access. Otherwise, the public beta will be out early next year.

I'm an existing Founding Goblin / beta user, what now?

The dashboard is going to be completely updated in the next couple of weeks. Your XP points and level will stay the same. You'll be able to access your old sidequests and missions but new stuff you create will be reminders. I'll send more details about this when the transition is happening.

Hacker News & Empathy

2 types of developers with impostor syndrome

I'm a software engineer. This sentence alone gives lots of software engineers anxiety. There's a lot of gatekeeping and bad vibes around the profession as a whole. Everyone has certain ways they like to do things and it is often very difficult to get 5 senior developers to agree on 1 standard.

I believe deep down almost every software developer has impostor syndrome. It emerges in one of two ways:

  1. The developer is very open-minded to learning new things and listening to input from others. This is because they know for a fact that they don't know everything. When impostor syndrome is expressed this way, it leads to better code, happier developers, and more empathetic software. These developers are usually a bit self-deprecating and the first to announce in meetings that they don't understand what's being discussed or they don't know much about X. They get along well with product/design/customer service/ops/data/sales (everyone) because they realize that those teammates have valuable experience and knowledge that can help them develop better software.
  2. The developer protects their ego at all costs. They're terrified of someone realizing they don't know everything or that they aren't the magical rockstar code ninja that people see in them. They often will dismiss new ideas (or find ways to subtly dismiss them like asking for an example, providing a counterexample, and declaring that they've collaborated successfully). They talk down to junior developers, product managers, and others within the organization and don't encourage their feedback. This type of expression leads to painful communication gaps, frustrated teammates, and worse software.

Why empathy is vital in software development (and life)

I've had issues working at startups. I've worked with amazing engineers that never talked down to me and encouraged questions. I've also worked with brilliant engineers that regularly made me feel worthless. I don't think anyone was ever trying to make me feel bad. In fact, a lot of them were great people that were really trying to be good managers and coworkers.

The biggest frustration I've had as a software engineer (that happens to be a neurodiverse, multiracial woman with a non-CS background) is being misunderstood. I don't need people to agree with me all the time (that sounds terrible actually) and I don't mind if those in charge decide against my suggestions. I just want to be heard and feel like my voice is respected.

I don't like feeling misunderstood. It's why I'm often so verbose and write a small novel when trying to convey something--I want people to understand exactly what I'm saying.

Learning to be more empathetic means that you are at least trying to see the world through someone else's eyes. It makes better software because it helps you put yourself in the user's shoes and work more collaboratively with your team. It makes your team happier. It creates space for your teammates to give honest feedback without feeling like they're being judged.

Sidenote: I encourage you to read up on topics like depression, anxiety, autism, and ADHD to help you better understand those around you. You may think people are being rude or slacking off, but there is often more to the story. There are a lot of developers and people in tech that are neurodivergent (or as I like to say neurospicy 🌶️), but don't feel comfortable asking for accommodations in interviews or other job situations.

Anyway, one of my articles got to the front page of Hacker News (of course it was the one where I mostly talk about my cute vacuum cleaner). While this is somewhat of an achievement, I immediately had mixed feelings because I know that a lot of developers just don't understand me and it felt a lot more vulnerable than writing for the Goblin community.

In the end, it was a good thing and it reminded me of where I come from and where I'm going. Every single person in tech can benefit from building up their empathy and communication skills. We can all do better to support others and make them feel valued even if we don't always get where they're coming from.

Thanks for reading and supporting. I appreciate every single one of you.


can someone knit me this sweater?