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May 18, 2022

E022 Andy Wingrave: Certified Advanced Automation Expert

Do The Work You Love In Your Business. Automate Everything Else.

Andy Wingrave is a Certified Zapier Premier Expert, a Make Expert+, an Airtable Consultant and a lover of APIs. He runs SaaStronomical / ConnectMySaaS. His Twitter: @andywingrave
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Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 0:07
Once upon a time, there were millions of businesses struggling. Every day they wasted time, effort and money on repetitive tasks that added no value. One day, the better automation podcasts by process CEO came to help them find the way. Because of this, these businesses grow, save time, reduce costs, innovate and make better decisions. Because of that, these businesses scale and use human creativity the way it is intended to be used to change this world. Hello, my name is Aziz and I'm your host at better automation podcast by process co where I interview the world's top experts and share their very best ideas on how to improve automation in your business, processes, and life. My guest today is Andy Wingrave. Andy is a certified Zapier Premier Expert, and Make Expert Plus and an Airtable Consultant and a lover of API's. He runs ConnectMySaaS, which makes it easy to discover how to integrate software apps you're already using, and seek out new ones so you can automate your back end and boost your business. Andy, how are you ready to go?

Andy Wingrave 1:31
Wonderful. Thanks for having me. It's really is really nice to be here. And chatting with you. And I, I am flattered by your introduction. The fact that anybody thinks of me as an expert at anything is, is hilarious to me. But But that's very kind of you to see.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 1:56
Thank you. And well, we will speak about so many topics that I'm sure everybody will be surprised even yourself by the depth of the answers and how fascinating they will be because they will be true to you. And that's what matters. And therefore I will ask this. Why automation? Like, what's the story that made you begin working in this field? Why does it matter to you? Why is it important to help people in this way?

Andy Wingrave 2:29
So it's a good question. And as he's I just want to say I really like your style. I really like your the way you present in the um, the podcast, and it's very, I feel like I'm in safe hands with you here. Just want to say that upfront. But yeah, so how did I get into automation is it I don't have very many fascinating stories, but but I'm quite fascinated by this one. Because because it felt like I felt like I was in jail for quite a long a long time, not actual jail has not committed any crimes that I've been prosecuted for. But like, I was in employee jail for a long time. And to give you kind of a little bit of an understanding, sorry, I'm just gonna stop talking and you move it. But yeah, so to give you a bit of a background, like let's let's take it back to when I was about 970 What do you want to do in your life when you're 70? Who knows who the hell knows what's out there when you're 70 barely understand this crazy world we live in at 17 barely understand that 37 Let alone 17. But I didn't have a clue I wanted to do. And I really struggled with them school. I really really really struggled school I felt like standardized tests for stupid I felt like a lot of the a lot of what was a lot of the way we were forced to learn at school we just didn't work well with me I've got my brain works in a very specific way in a way that I'm comfortable with. But it doesn't doesn't go well with like how traditional classrooms work. So I really struggled towards the end of school and I just kind of wanted to drop out and and really what I wanted to do. So like fast forward a few years and I still hadn't figured out continue near a couple of times and dropped out and then I met a girl and she was going to Edinburgh to study marketing. When I was like oh well I'll go to that degree or join a year after her because I don't know what else I'm going to do. But the good at least the good thing is she'll go and I'll and I'll get my I'll get her books for free the next year. So I don't need to buy any books. That was the reason I chose marketing. But like better because I had no idea can you tell you what marketing was before I chose it but but there was having to make a decision. And I didn't really like being in science labs and stuff like that and I don't really like yeah, just that I kind of I didn't do computer computer I didn't, basically I fell out with the computer. It was the art department at my high school. So I didn't do I didn't do any coding. Like I loved it. I remember loving coding when I was in, like 10-11-12. But I fell over them. And I never got to do more. So I was in this limbo land. So I did marketing for four years did well, I said, I hated it. But it did teach me a lot of skills that I'm very grateful. I have no actually. But at the time, it didn't seem like it was a good thing. It Fast Forward, I've got a new job. And like, obviously, that that gets us to the start of your question, right? Like, where, how did I get into automation? Well, here's the thing, I started, I started going to any job that I could, I was really lucky to land the job just in the middle of the recession, actually. A company called Eurogamer, in Brighton, and for the first six years of my career working at Eurogamer, comScore and LinkedIn are worked in this field called ad operations. Now, if you don't know, ad operations is the most dull job in tech, it is literally copying and pasting scripts and putting them into an ad server is mindless work, and it is very stressful as well. Because the any mistake that you make, has the potential to cause it to to cause a company to lose 1000s, if not millions of dollars, in some cases, which had happened not to me but to other people. I did make mistakes, of course, but not quite to the millions of dollars, maybe to the umm under $2,000 level. But it was really tough. And I was and I got to that stage around about 29 or 30, where I was like, This can't be my life, like, Oh, my What have I done? And I think everybody gets to that at some point, right? Like, it may happen when you're young, and I haven't when you're 40 may have when you're 60. But at some point, you're going to realize that you spent a lot of time doing something that was very foolish. And to me that was that was working in corporate America, quite honestly. Like not that I know when not to slag off corporate America, I learned so much valuable stuff from that. But I really struggled to two things. One, number one, quite honestly, authority, I hated the fact that like, managers would tell me what to do. And even and, and I just really struggled with like the idea that this organization even assume that they knew what they were doing. Because quite honestly, what's quite apparent with many of the companies that I either worked out or kind of viewed from afar is that quite often a lot of people don't know what they're doing. And they just wing it, and then expect you to follow their lead, which I find incredibly insufferable. So for me, I always struggled, and I'm very combative as a person. Like, if I if I believe something, I'll speak up. And that served me well, in lots of ways. And it's obviously like, obviously, every every personality trait has good things and bad things. I'm sure you can fare lots of bad things from that. But But actually, I'm quite happy with with that personality trait. Because it allows me to demand excellence of myself, which I think has made me successful or somewhat sucks allowed me to make a career don't want to see loads, make a career out of automation. But I suddenly found myself at this age, I guess. hating my job, I talked to my manager, and this manager really did like, show to Mr. Mark King. He was just the maybe, if not the best, like Yeah, one of the best managers I've ever had. Just because he didn't demand anything of me because he saw how much I demanded of myself, I think, I mean, I'm putting words in his mouth, but I think he saw how much I demanded of myself. So all of my all of my engagements with him were really amazing. And I think I went into quit one day or like I was unhappy one day, I don't know what the situation was. And I think we sat he said he was like, well, you'll need to quit, there's lots of opportunities. And anyway, I moved, I'd say instead of quitting and trying to get a new career or getting another job doing the same thing at some other place, which is always a bad idea, by the way. I did it many times. I would just move to Singapore with LinkedIn. Now like they were like amazing company to work for of course. But like I didn't go home to Singapore. Singapore didn't call me and not like just a just a work culture and just the heat and like I was a bit lonely and stuff like that. So I just found myself at a the Singapore being like, I don't know what I'm doing my life. So I started to be like, I started this process of figuring out what do I want to keep in my life and what do I want to add to my life and what I want to remove from my life right like I stopped, I continue, I guess you might want to call it. And like I fundamentally realized I was in the wrong career, right? I wasn't the reason why I was in the wrong career, just because I, my mind was so bored with what I was doing, I would always look for ways to improve it, automate it, make it faster, make it better build products, for people to automate stuff. And I was very good at that. But nobody would give me a job in product. And in fact that that frustrated the hell out of me, because all I wanted my whole career was a job in product. Because I wanted to manage a process or a project or a product, but not have to manage people, I don't really enjoy the concept of management, like especially interdepartmental departmental management, where quite honestly, like the best managers, I had Matt Keane, another couple. But the best managers I've ever had, were basically therapists, like me, didn't demand anything of me, they didn't do anything, they would just come become me sit across from each other, and I would run them, and they would be happy for me to run them. And that's when that's when things were great. The worst managers I ever had were people who were like, Who the hell is this guy Who the hell's a Scottish guy, like, grumpy of everything, I really struggled to like, find my place in corporate America because of that, because I, because of my expectations of management, and because of my like, disdain for authority, really. Because I don't believe anybody should have authority over anyone, which is why I've really struggled to bring anybody on to astronomical to help me with a consultancy, or with anything else, and I kinda need to, I've got a got a got away with a lot via automation. But anyway, back to that. I didn't want to be a manager, I wanted to learn how to code. And I wanted to find something more fulfilling. And at that point, I pivoted, I pivoted towards from adults like, which is a semi technical thing into like, into solutions, architecture, solutions, consulting, and the way that came about was, I was looking for jobs desperately trying to get out of Singapore. And I applied for a job and, and basically the test. And so I didn't know how to code at that point, I'd never coded anything in my life, maybe tried an HTML course or whatever. And there's too much. And I had to do a test. And I had to be done in 24 hours. And basically, I had to teach myself CSS in 24 hours, I did a terrible job of it. However, I handed them thing and even though it wasn't even 24 hours, it was like the semi the thing that you're gonna have to learn, you're gonna have to code this and CSS in like four hours. And I tried it, and I basically completely messed up and I sent them and I was like, here's my submission. I'm really sorry. So what I did then was I was like, I'm, I want this job, right? Because this job is a pathway for me to start learning about JavaScript, learning about code, change my career, all this stuff. And I decided that like, I don't care even even though they passed it, even though the deadline passed. I'm going to work all weekend. So I spent all weekend learning how to code learning CSS and HTML, when submitted it, and that got me and then they were like, Hmm, interesting. Okay, well, that's, that's quite unorthodox. But well, we like your commitment to getting stuff, right. So we'll give you a chance to get the job took a long time to get back to me if I got the job. And that started me in a path towards like solutions architecture. Worked a bunch of other companies, really amazing companies, again, I'm really proud to have worked out particularly Mixpanel, where I had another amazing boss. But Mixpanel was amazing. And all of these places just taught me so much and in the background of learning how to code. So overall, like to answer your question, the most long, longest way possible, I got into automation, because nobody would give me a job and automation. And all I wanted to do is was that and and the more I worked at companies, like the more do I compare huge, really impactful project that would lead them as well as be like, but if you look at my, if you look at my history of yoga, like 10, you'll see I mean, the highest level I ever got to incur in like working for corporations was like senior product manager. And that was even then that was a that was a misnomer. It wasn't really a product management role. And that's what that's what gave me the push. So when I, I started to think about automation and start to learn JavaScript and stuff and and then I saw in 2016, I saw Jesse post on Reddit, hey, is there any anybody wanted to become an Zapier expert? We've got a program in place and I thought, wow, that'd be amazing. Because it started to I've been using Zapier at that point internally for loads of stuff and started to get really comfortable with it. And so the power Automation. And it was just awesome. I was just like them. So hold on, I want to do this. So from 2016, I had that in my back of my mind where I was like, that's what I want to do. Like I want to be, I want to do that. And then the launch the launch the portal, and I was like, wow, that was cool. And I saw like Lou, who and Conax. And all these people that I've come to, to call my peers and my friends. I saw them like just like, I just thought that's what I wanted. That's what I want to do. I want to become I want to like start with thing and like do everything my own way, which I do. Everything is done my own way. I don't work with somebody who doesn't want to work my way. Because, like, I know how I work. I know how my brain works. I'm not gonna I don't have the freedom to be like to work in the way that I want. But but but yeah, like in 2016 it was just a culmination of feeling like I've really got into the wrong career. And, and also being in tune with what my what I love, right? Like, there's so much I love about what the everything that I've created for for as far as astronomical, which is I work my own hours, I work exactly the way I want. Everything is automated. I don't have any barely taking on any big projects. I don't like them. I don't like writing. I basically once I started doing it, I decided right, I'm going to double down on automating away all the stuff I hate. I hate writing proposals. So I'm either not going to write them or I'm going to automate it, like in a way that is as best as I can. I hear he said people for invoices. So I'm gonna make everybody prepay for my time. And you know what, like, all of these things is like, Wow, maybe maybe it'll work. Maybe it won't. But it's just experimentation. And the more I experiment, and it's like, well, this seems to be working and people seem to be happy with me. And I just decided like that I was going to change what it meant to be a consultant for myself. So I caught any proposal record of most troubles writing still have to write some code, most proposal writing. And I I caught all the stuff ahead. So over the past three years have crafted a really amazing, like niche and just doing stuff that I love and, and it gives me so much satisfaction because I get to entertain people while while I'm building stuff that's going to save them time. So for me, like the way that I've created my company, and consultancy, for automation is basically ultimate all the way all the stuff you hate, which is what automation is amazing for. And then double down and all the stuff you love. So every day for me is a joy, right? I get up and I'm just really happy with what I do. Aside from working with some interface changes, and I'm not going to name any names, but sometimes sometimes software obviously, it can be buggy and cause lots of panic and stress and, and those things are never fun. But otherwise, I'm really like I mean that if that's all I've got to complain about some UX problems, I mean, I've got a pretty good I think so I'm very fortunate and very grateful for like the the things that have come into my way and the path that that has led me to being an automation consultant because it's exactly what I do. It's exactly what I've wanted me to do. I think, I mean, it feels like it is so I get a really, really huge buzz out of helping people the feeling of of starting a call and and having somebody in front of you that's come to you with a problem to solve and be like, Sure, let's get to it as seeing and teasing out of them the requirements and and the end goal like pivoting all the way to and meandering the way there and solving the problem in an hour and having them be happy about it is the most joy I've ever felt and the most the most satisfied I've ever felt with anything I've ever done in life. And I love working with Zapier, I love working with music and love working with air table these things are all the software pieces of software are amazing. And I just I really enjoy consulting on them. So yeah, for me. It's it's been a journey, huge, long journey. I mean, the journey was 10 years and I managed to condense that into about 16 minutes but yeah, here I find myself and I would not be anywhere else.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 19:55
Thank you. That's fascinating, as I said previously, so If you're someone who you understand how your brain works, and you understand that, that's your power, because otherwise, if you're not following how your brain works, you're being inefficient. You're someone who demands excellence of yourself. You're someone who has a disdain or resistance to authority as well. And you're living your best life. It sounds wonderful to a lot of makers, or people in the no code community, who might decide and think I want to be do the same thing as Andy. But as you said, there are things about you that made this the best career for you. So imagine someone new is watching right now. And they're thinking, Okay, do I have what it takes? What would you describe and say, Okay, if you have these characteristics that will make you a great solution architect or automation expert, or whatever it is. And if you were to not meet, like, if someone shouldn't meander all over the place to get those skills? What would you recommend as a plan for someone to get really good at this? What should they learn first? How? And in what way?

Andy Wingrave 21:13
Yeah, so that's a good question. I am going to answer in a roundabout way, because that's my style. I'm just gonna write this down. So it's a great question. And, and I actually had somebody who I wouldn't name and messaged me and asked me if I needed help. And I do need help. There's somebody out there that thinks they can do this, please message me, I'm open to like, to hiring or like, or creating some kind of relationship with you. Somebody messaged me the other day and said, Hey, like, I'm looking for automation work. And I said, let's have a let's have an answer. You know, for me, if I'm going to hire somebody, like this business has become my life is very important to me. And I'm very protective over it. And I'm going to hire somebody, it needs to be one of two people, somebody who's going to come in and basically run the whole thing, like an agency, maybe like a traditional agency, but basically make me become hands off, right? So they're gonna have to come in and run it. I don't really want to run an agency, not my forte. I like helping people. But like, all the all the stuff that goes into it, and doing it, doing it in a kind of like, agency style, not my thing. I'm happy for somebody else to do it. But I wouldn't be a part of that. So that's like one that might be who I'd hire somebody who can be like, yes, I've run a random agency before or I think I can do it because of x, y, and Zed sure, like I'd be very open to those competitions, or the other. The other half the other hand is just like somebody who can use Zapier to go in and make. But we had this conversation and what I found out about this, this person, very intelligent, really nice, great. They were making a really big career shift but But what was very apparent about them was that they hadn't defined what they wanted to do. Like they were allowed no code seems cool and and they were kind of sent sort of interested and, but like, what when I think about my job, I get up I like I'm, I'm super enthusiastic about it. I really love helping people. I love the tools I work with, like I said, Zapier to will make just, like I said, joy to use them every, I if I were going to hire somebody and meet somebody with that level of passion about doesn't need to be about those things. But he still is something. So it sounds trite and over. Over said, but like having passion is is is the first step. It's only the first step. Now, the second part of this comes down to like, I'll take I'll take it back to when when I was deciding what I wanted. What I found was I codified, like my, my goals. I basically said, What do I want my life to look like? By the time I'm 35? Now, by the time I got to 35, it kind of looked like that. But then I was like, Okay, well, what do I want it to look like? No, like, by the time I'm 40 and it was very different, right? Obviously, my change that grown and and start a business so like my life become my goals become very different by the regardless of whether the goals change, or the destination change, or the goalposts move or that whatever, whatever saying you want to say, like regardless of what happens, the consistent thing is having goals and working towards them. So that's number two, right? So passion, goal setting, and then three, mapping your goal setting with your actions, right. So if you want to be in automation, right, let's say you want to be an author, or no code, right? So here's a really good thing. When I started in Zapier, I I loved automation. But, but obviously I was exposed to no code in general, which includes web flow and bubble and all this front end stuff I hate front end, my mind doesn't work like a front end designer, I'm not very good at front end, you give me a logic puzzle you give me you give me like a workflow to create in a really efficient way. That's how my mind works. And, and yeah, like to echo your point earlier, being in tune with how your mind works and what you want out of your life. And applying that to your goal setting will make all the difference, because it will allow you to focus because yeah, sure, everybody can be a no code consultant and be half assed to everything. But it's not in your interest to be half assed everything is in your interest to be amazing at one thing, because then you're amazing at one thing, and you'll always be able to do that thing better than anybody else, or at least to a power of other people who are good at it. Again, that's my own. My own self confidence, like refusing to call myself an expert. But But yeah, like having that having an understanding of your of your skill set what you want out of life, a good example of this. And I know it's, it's answering the question a roundabout way again, but like I met a girl about four years ago, and she was great. And we dated for three years and is great time. But she was a doctor. And she really struggled to remember that, like, she was doctors usually struggling to deal with, like the choices she'd made in life. She she was like, she had chosen a career path. But into surgery, like and it wasn't her forte. And she was like, I'm sorry, we're not going to do the rest of my life. I need to, I need to, like, do this for another 30 years. I don't think I can. And it's like, it's never too late. I didn't start learning to code till I was 30. Right. It's never too late to learn a new skill. So we we just took all the different things she could be doing. Like and went right. Here's all the things. Does this interest, you know, yes. Why? Why not? Yes. Oh, why does that interest us? Why doesn't that interest you? We did that for all the specialities of of medicine, which I think there are about 70, probably, maybe 30, between 30 and 70. But there are tons of them. So anyway, we whittled it down to like what she did up whether she was alive, she doesn't want to tell people, she doesn't want to tell families that their parent or their child has died, she doesn't want to have to do tons of admin. She doesn't want to have to like work really late nights and distressful strenuous work, so Okay, all of that. So we landed on more or more kind of subjects that were like a lot, like really far away from that, and then accentuated the things she did want over life, so that she could create that life for herself. So overall, what we did was we worked that out and ended up like whittling it down to three things that she could do. And she then went on to study radiology, which I believe she's doing now. But take that example of like just somebody that I met in that career crisis, or in that exploratory phase doesn't need to be a crisis. It comes down to like just defining what it is that you you're good at, or like are trying things and seeing if you like them, and if you get if you're, if you are getting better at it, and you're enjoying getting better at it, all of these things are important. So like, Take no quote, you can be like, Oh, well, like the landscapes huge. But really is. But at the same time, there are going to be things that are going to stand out to you, right, like, front end, for example, like you might, you might explore like bubble or a doll or Webflow and find that actually like even though Webflow seems to be dominant, like you actually really like a doll or whatever, right? Like I really like it that will but for me like and just focus in on that right? Like it could be Zapier, right that you can be like, Okay, I really love automating. So if you like Zapier, I would always recommend learning to code for any of this stuff, even though even though it's no code is so funny. I learned to code it 30, like I said, and I would say it was the best thing I ever did. Even though I live in there's no code line that still I write JavaScript at least three times a day for three different clients minimum, because it's such a powerful tool, being able to code it gives you it like opens up so much freedom, right? Because it's not only it's not only a desired skill set, it's just something that is so critical in like it has been critical for the past 20 years. 30 years. By If you haven't learned to code, you always can. And it will always give you a grounding and whatever you're trying to do, right? Like if you're if you're going to become a WordPress consultant, like it helps to know PHP, right? If you're going to become a web flow consultant, it helps to know HTML, it helps to know CSS, it doesn't need to be JavaScript, it can be and it certainly should be for Webflow. And the same for Zapier make, right like having this concept of of like, how computers talk to each other, like how data structures work, right? Like, like, I hadn't heard of like a linked list until I was 33. Right? Like, I didn't know what this stuff meant. It was also abstract to me. But the learning to code will set you apart from 99% of people. It's hard. But it's very worthwhile. So that's my recommendation, know your brain, set some goals, work towards those goals, learn to code, and be passionate.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 30:55
I love this. This is a wonderful recipe. Yeah, also know how your brain works. That works as well. And okay for you, because you were mentioning how you have your own way or your own approach to automate. Let's say someone wants to understand and follow that method. How do you do it? Especially for example, you mentioned like, you create an optimized workflow, on your own words, there are some other people who say, actually, creating a theoretical workflow doesn't really work in reality, take what is already there, and then begin to tweak and improve it as it is, rather than creating something from scratch, or whatever. But to you, how do you visualize or bring a solution or create a whole automation thing? I don't mean in the details, but like your approach your perspective, how do you think about it?

Andy Wingrave 31:53
Yeah, so it took me four years to codify this. And I only codified it yesterday. But I codified it very effectively. Because I was really struggling to help a customer. They came to me and they were like, I've got all this stuff. There's like, just too many departments and people and companies and software. And I don't know any of this. And they were really stressed out. And I was like, Okay, guys, let's like take a pause. And what we need to do in order to in order to create an automation, what we need to do is, first of all it is a combination of two things, or one or two things is either determine what admin tasks or tasks that you're currently doing, that you could automate, right, determine what you hate doing, right? And explore whether it can be an automated, right, particularly things like invoicing and things like that are really boring to most people as they should because they are boring tasks. No, you can maybe think about that. Right? So like, okay, so we, we, I teased the room that he actually wanted, like, he ran it, he was an HR. So you wanted like basically when somebody got given an email and their company, that they are added to the HR platform and that their onboarding started. So the first thing, the way that I tease that out of them was to was to get him to ignore all of the surrounding all the surrounding noise that that that he was tuning into, right? And distinguish the disk or determine what you want to happen right now. In that case, what we wanted to happen was we wanted user to be added to the HR platform and their onboarding cadence to start. Great. That's, that's 50. Honestly, it's 50% of the job done. No, all we need to do is define when we want that to happen. And we say, okay, we want we want it to happen when somebody gets an email or once or when or whatever, right. But yeah, when somebody hasn't even so when somebody gets an email given to them in Google workspace, they get granted an email, we want to, we call that the trigger. And then what we do is we, we apply that as much as we can, if possible to the action, right. And you start there, that's when this thing happens. Another thing happens and that's it. And that is the most powerful thing that you can explain to somebody because from there, you can also say, but when this happens, and it has this criteria, we want to do something else. I And then you can say, and then when this happens, we want to do this thing. And then we want to refer back to another thing. And the automation can just grow and grow and grow and grow and grow. But ultimately, it goes from a very, very simple starting point when I want this to happen, and I want it to happen when this happens, so I have a trigger, and I have an action. And we combine that combine the two, and you tease that over client. Then you are starting, you're starting to get in the mindset of how to build workflows, and ultimate

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 35:48
Thank you. That's very helpful. That's very useful. And you said you entertain people. Does it mean when people you know, get on a call with you they get entertained? Or are you speaking about your social media? And if so, also share? Okay, tell me, how do you entertain people? And why is that important? For a freelancer? Is it just fun for you? Or does it add value to the experience?

Andy Wingrave 36:15
So we'll go back to what we talked about before when I was at sorry. So so we'll take us back to Singapore 2016 2015. And like I said, my life was a bit in turmoil. I was I was not very happy, it was struggling. So blind in Singapore, like, quite honestly, just like the most depressed I've ever been in. I don't think I've ever been at the presses, and definitely haven't actually, but But yeah, it's really, really having a tough time. And, and another time, when you're having a tough time, it feels like the world is ending. Now, I'm sure there's a lot of listeners out there that have been through tough times, or even going through tough times. And I, I struggled with that for a couple of years. And I applied a lot of the approach that I that I just talked about, again, your first question to my personal life as well. So not only my professional life, but my personal life. So in my 20s, I was smoking a lot, I was drinking a lot. I was being an idiot, basically, quite honestly been being a reckless, being reckless with my life and being reckless with like the gift that had been given. I didn't really acknowledge it. But what I did was I came back from Singapore, and I was really overweight, huge. It was like double the size I am now. And I was I was really, like depressed, I was drinking a lot was smoking. And why do I say it was I was going to cut those things out. So around about 2930 No, maybe 31 Actually 30 along with all the stuff that I said about my career, but what I did was I read a book called An easy way to stop smoking, which if you smoke, read it. It's amazing. It's the best book as it is the best book I've ever read. Because it changed my life. And it changed my life because it gave me a technique. That is the best technique I've ever learned in my life. Which is, again, this is spoiler alert. So if you want to go read the book I do, just kind of covering your ears here. But the thing that that book taught me was start with a feeling of elation, right. And what that means is like when you're drinking or smoking or like you've got any addictive behavior you tend to rely on as a crutch. And getting over that habit can be can feel like a downward spiral that you'll never go off. And when I was doing that, I was alert, I read the book. And immediately I stopped smoking and I never smoked again. So I was walk since I was 30. So I thought right? How can like this is really interesting. That worked really well. And I don't have any, like, I don't have any craving for a cigarette, none at all. And I was like, right, how can I? How can I apply this to other parts of my life? And I applied it to alcohol. I didn't have I wasn't an alcoholic per se. But I did I have a problem. Like I was like I did have a problem where like I couldn't say no to going out. That was that was my problem. Really. I had just made your formal, and I was like maybe a bit insecure. So I guess everybody's insecure, but maybe a bit insecure. So like feeling like um, it wouldn't be supported by and quite honestly, I wasn't like when you give up drink, you are going to lose friends. Just a fact. I lost probably about 70 80% of my friends since I stopped drinking so I stopped drinking around the same time. exactly that same way. And stop gambling was being eliminated with gambling and stuff like that. Just I'm just being really honest here. But like I really struggle with all this stuff. And I got rid of all the toxic stuff in my life and I was like, wow, I've got energy. What the hell am I going to do with all this energy and waking up at seven in the morning or so? I already, this is unreal, like, I've got, I'm not waking up feeling like, the world is against me. I feel like everything's wonderful. And those, like that feeling was amazing. And I took that energy and I played it to other other hobbies, right? So I actually Googled at that point, I was like, Okay, well, I'm not drinking. So I'm kind of bored. And I'm not smoking, so I'm not getting funded in my hands. So I googled hobbies for adults. And I like it. And obviously, you can imagine some weird things came up when I looked at that. But the two, the two are actually the three hobbies that I that I stuck out, I chose, I did some intro courses into like languages and and jujitsu and things like that. But the three things I took up three hobbies around at the age of 3130. And those were number one meditation, one of the best things I ever did. I have, I've lost my practice a little bit. But overall, that was my amazing, amazing choice to do that I used to go to Courses with people, like actually go to the courses, don't just download an app. And know that we live in a technical world. And know that that's great and everything, but there's only so much you can truly immerse yourself into something if you're not going along and doing it with people have a network, build a network, if you don't have one, it's super boring, regardless. And that means personal life and professional life as well. build that network, nurture it, because it will come back and it will be very, it'll be very beneficial. But the other two hobbies that I took up were board games. I've got like, I've got a bit of a problem with board games. I've got like, just far too many of them. But that was amazing hobby, because it really works with my mind, right? Like, I'm very, I like to talk to people. I like games. And I love automation. I love like workflows, like board games is basically all of that combined into like, this really amazing social thing. I'm a massive, massive Board Game Nerd. And then finally, which is again, seems like I can't answer a question without going to ramble. But the fail bit, but the final hobby that I got was was or took up for about four or five years. And it was one of the best is maybe one of the best things I've ever done, again, is improv. I decided to do improv and I met amazing people truly truly, truly amazing people doing improv. And I know improv gets a bad rep. And I don't know why I assume it's quite cold tea. It's quite a it's kind of the thing that American sitcoms and things take the mecca of. But whatever. For me, it worked. It was huge. It was made me It helped me be present. It helped me find joy. It helped me find joy in other people's joy. And it helped me really understand people. And and also the, the getting laughs from people was secondary in improv, but it was it was very did feel good. And particularly the most important thing about improv it's not about you, is total ever group mind. So. So like when somebody else gets a laugh, it's everybody's life, right? You can come in and like and use you deliver a line, but you can come up with a light, everything that came before led to you coming up without laying. It was everybody's contribution that got that laugh, or even if it's everybody's contribution that made you bomb, but it didn't matter. It was just so joyful. And I got a lot of always got a lot of satisfaction out of that and, and the way that I run my sessions is basically an improv improvised automate automation is like hey, what do you need to automate? Great let's get started. And the way that I make people laugh or the way that I feel take joy of that is we're building something together right? So I'll be asking questions and things like that. But I'm also very much myself right I don't try I don't pretend to be this professional fucking douche. I'm just like a very I'm very much myself and people either will relate to it or you wouldn't. But the majority people particularly because I've as I try to try and coach people into knowing what they're going to get when they meet me, but people tend to come with like ready to automate and all of that kind of stuff and it overall 95% of it works. But when when I say make people laugh, I'm like, like when when you need to sit and watch somebody build an interface. It can be quite dry, right when you're waiting around to answer a question, which is like I said, how I run my sessions as well. proposals, it can be quite dry. So the way that I do that, the enjoyment I take out of it, it's just been quite animated as I'm building it telling people what I'm doing and being openly frustrated with the software I'm working with, but, but also, with the acknowledgement that I very much revere the software I'm working with. But I knew that was gonna happen. And usually these don't have any problems falling in my ears, but I don't usually use them when I'm talking. So it's just pushing them out. But yeah, the idea is just keep them engaged and laughing. And like it can be at you don't mind that, because for me is an intentional thing. Like, it's not like, I don't mind if they are laughing at me because. Because, to me, I'm making fun of myself, like I'm in on the joke. And even if they know I even if they know who I am, then that's an absolute added bonus to see them laugh that they know that I'm self aware. And that's part of the joke. And if they don't know that the like, Yeah, sure. I've had some people being like, who is in front of me, I have no idea what I'm watching. And that's okay, too. Like, I can't you cannot be. can't please everybody. You can't be everybody's cup of tea. And you can do like, yeah, it's just impossible. You can hold yourself to everybody's standards and meaning you can be okay with just being yourself. And sometimes it align really well and take the moments to relish them. Sometimes people will think you're an absolute Nutter, and that's okay, too. I am an absolutely nothing. And that's fine. I'm okay with that. I'm just just being yourself. Is is okay. Providing you're not a mass murderer. But like, being yourself is, is the best thing you can do. And it's the best thing I've lowing myself to be myself, regardless of whether it gets me in trouble and it can do and it has done. That doesn't matter. It's like being true to yourself is far more important than other people's opinion, other people's opinion or, or their own to have. So like, yeah, my entire job is just waking off and trying to help people but then also trying to make them smile at the same time and get a bit of joy while they're watching somebody help them. I hope that answers your question. I'm not sure that was like such a long way to get there. I'm so sorry. But it was the only way to describe like why it takes so much joy and getting people to laugh right and to working with somebody right like improv shaped how I built my consultancy. And with improv you build upon what came before you don't. You can like shut out right and totally you can ignore it you can forget about you can wrap it up. But building upon what works is the most important thing and that is that's that's not just an improv thing, even though it is very specific that improv right? Uh, yes. And, like, I mean, it's so much the concept of improv is so much fun, right? Like, the, the thing that they'll teach you when you go to improv, and I'm not an improv teacher, but I do love it, right? The thing that they'll teach you, I had a really good improv teacher called Chris meat he was so so good. Like, in fact, the whole of hook line one that if you're in London watching this, go to hoopla and UK, I think it is but they're just amazing bunch of people Steve Rowe, Chris Mead, Katie Chu, like all of these people who taught me really taught me the power of what it means to build upon what works and and be okay with things not working be okay with failure is liberating. And the candidate the whole way I work is in the whole of automation is yes and yes, this like this would be set up and then we want to do this or we want to do this be the first thing that featured improv is like when when you're trying to have a conversation with somebody, okay, let's, let's have a conversation, right? We're gonna, we're gonna do this. We're going to mean you what we're going to do as these together as a kind of the three scenarios, right? And we're going to decide which one's more fun. Okay, if you're okay with us, we don't need to I can answer questions, but I would rather talk to you more than just run. So, um, okay, so great. Great. So we'll do the first scenario. So the first scenario is, we're going to have a conversation, right? And we're just going to be two people. We're not ourselves for anybody we want to be. We're going to have a conversation. And what I'm going to ask you to do, is is is be stubborn, right? You want to do some thing, right? Like you've got something in your mind that you want to do. And you're going to try and get there, right? You're going to try and get to where you want to go where you want to go. But I'm me, and I'm going to try, I'm going to, I'm going to try to get to where I want to go, right. So we're going to have this conversation Raul star, and then I'd like you to just keep an open dialogue and maybe go on for 30 seconds, a minute doesn't need to go on for long, but but the idea is that you are going to, you're going to keep your agenda, front of mind, right, whatever that may be. And ignoring my agenda, and we'll see how fun it is. I don't know if it'll be fun. Sometimes it can be fun. ruining my whole entire teaching lesson. But okay, so hey, Steven, like, I had this really good idea. Last night, I was so excited to come around your house and tell you, like, I really want to go to this forest. I've heard that there's like pixies in it. It sounds amazing.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 51:02
You want to go no, but this earth is much more secure. So let's stay around here.

Andy Wingrave 51:09
You know, but like, space is infinite. There's stars. And there's wonder, and there's joy to be had who knows what's gonna happen on the planet? Like, we could discover a planet?

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 51:22
No, but I love my routines. My grandparents and their grandparents are buried here. I like to be near them. Because I'm so loyal. Know that.

Andy Wingrave 51:32
You come here to bet. We're alive? Surely you want to go and explore?

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 51:37
No, but exploration is overrated. I believe that if we forget where we're coming from, then we're not worth being alive.

Andy Wingrave 51:50
So you see, we got nowhere, right? Like, we got nowhere fast, right? And then, and we were in an agreement, it wasn't really much fun. And all of my joy was diminished with your response and your joy was diminished my response and, and overall, we got nowhere, right? And this can be quite a lot of corporate life, right? People cutting you down having to justify things having to make business cases for every single thing is arduous, right? So let's move on to the next but right, which is, so again, this is the second exercise, but instead of No, but I'd like you to say yes, but Right. So you're kind of committed. You're okay with it. You're you're ready to come along, but you got some reservations, and we might get we'll see how fun that will be. You can start a stem if you want.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 52:41
Jack, this is so exciting. I saw people down the range shooting bullets from this new machine gun. Let's go train. Let's go make some things explode.

Andy Wingrave 52:55
Yeah, yeah, yeah, let's do it tomorrow. Because today, I've just got too much work to do. Like totally going for it. Like, can you help me do a bit of work before we go?

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 53:09
Yes, but people are there right now we're gonna feel the vibe, the excitement, they might not be there tomorrow. This is like an opportunity. You know, how things are quiet around here, usually. So let's go now!

Andy Wingrave 53:24
You will think is short. You're talking to humans. Who knows what we're having to click dangerous. It can sound really scary. And I don't know. Like, we, I've got work to do. I mean, I'm totally down for it. But But, but just like maybe later on or something like that. It's like there's always credits everywhere. It's okay. So you see, like, yeah, oh, we can go on, sir.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 53:53
Yeah, go through to the "Yes, And".

Andy Wingrave 53:56
Yeah, so yeah, exactly. So what we can see here is we reached the level of it, right? Like we were on the same page. We didn't necessarily, we agreed that in principle that we were going to go do something, but did anything really get done. And that's again, a lot of like, if you think about business environments, a lot of that happens at companies, right? Like, people get buy in for a project and like half asset because oh yeah, but I've got my priorities and nothing ever gets done. Right. And that's, again, detrimental to most companies. Which is why I think like there's so much business for improv stuff, right? Because improv is so important. Anyway, we'll come back to this in a second. We still have time to run over. I've got no I've got I can run. No, it's like five o'clock. So we're on our way good. Okay, so yes. And so let's, let's do the third. The third scenario. I don't mind starting and And the way we will build upon or the way we will respond to each other in this case will be yes and right. So Bobby, I are going to become a local consultant and you are going to join me on my journey. Would you say?

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 55:22
Yes. And let's master all of the tools, even in new ones, let's become the expert of experts. Because we are like that.

Andy Wingrave 55:31
Yeah, yeah. And you can handle all the backend stuff. And I will handle all the front end stuff and the customer stuff, because I love working with customers. And you're amazing at these logic puzzles. And I think we could really treat something. What do you think we should be called on social? I think we should really create something.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 55:50
Yes. And let's call it the Board Gamers of Automation and no code consulting, because we are thinking like that. That's what we do.

Andy Wingrave 56:01
Yeah. And we can have a logo where we have like dice and cogs. And they're all like, combined together. And we create a website called board game alternators don't come let's just let's check it out on on Google the means?

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 56:19
Yes, and let's buy the .io,, the .co, the .net all of them so that we dominate this market, and I'm already tweeting about it right now. I'm so excited. Me too.

Andy Wingrave 56:32
We we just created a company as ease in about a minute, right? In 30 seconds, we created a company. So you can compare the difference between those three, those three scenarios, right? Like where you get to, and how and what the energy is like and, and what feels good. And it feels good to help other people achieve their their vision, right? Like and to help, it helps, it helps and it helps you right, like, it brings people closer together, when when there's openness to, to do something like in our in, in that with that mindset of I am going to make you look good. And forget your own ego, just get rid of it and like make other people look good. And or even if you're like a solo improviser, like I'm gonna guess in my consultancy, like, apply those principles and like, and double down on what works and cut out the stuff that doesn't work. It's exactly like that. So, so yeah, that's what I mean about joy and making people laugh and, and apply a lot of those improv principles that I learned to everything that I do and to my entire company and to my personal life as well. So so for me improv is how like, had a massive, massive impact on my life. And, and I think it is something everybody should should try like doing a course if they can. And yeah, shout out to, to like who'd love it? Like, I bet you if you work in a city, any city, there'll be improv around you and it's, it's life changing, and you get to meet amazing people, and we've not got COVID anymore. Most of us aren't living with that anymore. So it knows now's the time to get out and start yes anding.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 58:21
Yes. And as you mentioned, improv is something you recommend to everybody because it has changed their lives. So for me before ending, I of course, recommend to all the listeners to check out process view, which is competing with the market. I mean, you should check it out with Zapier with make with all the other people processes, the modern low code, no code platform for advanced automation and creating an enterprise grade back end. For your software. You can request access to a totally free account at processor dot app that will be very useful to you. And for those with higher needs. There is a very generous 50% discount code, which is better 50 of one word in capital letters. More information in the description. Thank you, Andy. This was my privilege, my honor. Such a wonderful time, the longest episode of the whole podcast and I wish you a wonderful day.

Andy Wingrave 59:21
You too. Thank you