Robbie Wagner: [00:09] What's going on, everybody? Welcome to another Whiskey Web and Whatnot with myself, Robbie Wagner, and my co-host, as always, Charles William Carpenter III. Our guest today, Matt Johnson. Do you prefer Matt or Matthew?
Matt Johnson: [00:23] Matt is great. My mother calls me Matthew, though.
Robbie Wagner: [00:26] Okay.
Chuck Carpenter: [00:26] You're in trouble.
Robbie Wagner: [00:28] Nice. Yeah. Well, thanks for joining us. Maybe if you want to give a quick intro and who you are and what you do.
Matt Johnson: [00:34] Yeah, my name is Matt Johnson. I've started multiple businesses. The biggest one is Midwestern Interactive. Founded it in 2012. Coming up on ten years. Pretty excited about it. Got a great team and love what we do.
Robbie Wagner: [00:47] Nice.
Chuck Carpenter: [00:48] And what you do is technology, but we'll get more into that later.
Matt Johnson: [00:53] Yeah, I guess some of the other businesses I own is a coffee shop, CrossFit gyms. And then not that I do a lot of CrossFit, but I'm a partner in some CrossFit Gyms.
Chuck Carpenter: [01:04] We don't publish the video. You can tell people otherwise.
Matt Johnson: [01:07] Oh, really? Perfect. I'm ripped.
Robbie Wagner: [01:09] Well, there will be a video snippet.
Matt Johnson: [01:13] Dang it. I'm caught.
Chuck Carpenter: [01:17] Yeah, I think that's another touch point we can discuss later. Not just being a tech person, being a business person.
Robbie Wagner: [01:24] Chuck gets mad whenever we don't start with whiskey. So we'll go ahead and talk about the whiskey.
Chuck Carpenter: [01:29] Yeah.
Matt Johnson: [01:29] Chuck.
Chuck Carpenter: [01:30] I get so nervous, and I need the liquid coverage, so you know how it goes. So this week we're having, Weller Antique 107. I'm kind of excited about this one, so it wouldn't be the first time I'm trying it. I used to have it a lot back in the day before people discovered whiskey was tasty and it was, like, $25. Now it far exceeds that price and availability, so when you get an opportunity to kind of come back to an old favorite, hopefully, I still like it. Produced by Buffalo Trace, 107 proof, as the name implies. I can't remember how many years it was age, but what's the mash bill?
Robbie Wagner: [02:07] I put it in there.
Chuck Carpenter: [02:08] Robert.
Robbie Wagner: [02:08] It is speculated to be 70% corn, 16% wheat, and 14% malted barley. I guess they don't tell you exactly.
Chuck Carpenter: [02:16] Yeah. Secret sauce. But it's wheated. So it's actually supposed to be, like, kind of close to Pappy and comes out of similar production lines. Have you ever had it, Matt?
Matt Johnson: [02:24] I've never had 107. I have had Pappy, and so let's taste it. I actually had a Pappy last week.
Chuck Carpenter: [02:32] Want to hear more about that in a second. Still smells as good as I remember. Got kind of a little citrus, little maple syrup. It doesn't taste like maple. I'm making it up.
Matt Johnson: [02:47] It's got some spice at the end.
Robbie Wagner: [02:49] Yeah, I think it has a little bit of this is going to be a really weird descriptor, and I don't mean this in a bad way, let me say that, but it smells a little bit like a shoe store. Like, that rubbery. Like, I love that smell. Personally.
Chuck Carpenter: [03:07] Okay.
Matt Johnson: [03:07] So not the feet smell?
Robbie Wagner: [03:09] No, like new shoes. Unworn shoes.
Chuck Carpenter: [03:12] Used shoes.
Matt Johnson: [03:13] All right, perfect. I can kind of smell that a little bit. Yeah, it's just fresh.
Chuck Carpenter: [03:20] Like fresh rubber kind of thing or something more like the soles or just...
Robbie Wagner: [03:25] Yeah, I guess rubber. I don't know.
Chuck Carpenter: [03:27] I guess there's leather on some shoes, depending on what you want to buy.
Robbie Wagner: [03:30] Yeah, it's like new car smell. There's like a lot that goes into it. You can't just say that one specific thing.
Chuck Carpenter: [03:36] Yeah, chemists break that down and get it right for everyone to agree.
Matt Johnson: [03:40] You know what? This does taste very similar to Pappy. I'm not going to say it is Pappy, but it is very similar.
Chuck Carpenter: [03:45] Which Pappy did you have?
Matt Johnson: [03:47] Gosh. I got it at a restaurant in San Francisco. It's called the House of Prime.
Chuck Carpenter: [03:54] I know it.
Matt Johnson: [03:55] Dude. So good. And I didn't take note of which Pappy it was. I just noticed they had a papy up on the top shelf and I asked for a pour of it.
Chuck Carpenter: [04:03] You got it.
Matt Johnson: [04:04] It's like not harsh on the front but then has the bones on the back end, which is really nice. And this is very similar to that.
Chuck Carpenter: [04:11] I like that bones. Wait, I'm not going to repeat it. Forget it. It was entertaining, though. Yeah. House of Prime. It's like a prime rib place. And it seems like some old hunting lodge kind of boys club sort of thing. Kind of like 1787 Coworking.
Robbie Wagner: [04:28] Except most of the people that work here are women.
Chuck Carpenter: [04:33] We're inclusive.
Robbie Wagner: [04:34] Yeah.
Chuck Carpenter: [04:35] I guess the boys club is kind of an old ideology. I agree with you, though. I get kind of like a little sweet, little sour in the beginning and then you get a little punch in the neck on the way down, which is what I want from my whiskeys.
Matt Johnson: [04:48] Yeah. If you're ever going to go to House of Prime, little pro tip is go to the bar. You can get full service at the bar so you don't have to get reservations or any of that stuff. So you can get right in because there's usually a pretty big line out the door.
Chuck Carpenter: [05:01] Yeah, that's a good one. So talk about the rating system. We have a very official, very specific rating system. One to eight tentacles so that it can be on-brand. And one being terrible, I would never have this again. Eight being amazing. This is like something I will buy every time I see it. And then there's obviously all these random in between, like, oh, good, but not great, or whatever. And I jest when I say very specific and serious. But I don't know. We like to think about things you've had before and how you might rate this in comparison to that.
Matt Johnson: [05:38] You want me to go first?
Chuck Carpenter: [05:39] You don't have to. Do you want one of us to go first and then.
Matt Johnson: [05:42] I'm fine going first.
Chuck Carpenter: [05:43] All right, set the standard.
Matt Johnson: [05:45] I didn't want to skip the line if you guys had a normal thing that you normally do. But I think this bourbon for me is probably a five only because it's not one that I would just like. I'd have to be in the right mood for it. It's not like a quote-unquote session bourbon or a bourbon. I can just enjoy multiple pours of across the night. But it would be something I would like after a meal just to kind of cleanse the palate and burn the bacteria down.
Chuck Carpenter: [06:17] Yeah, no, I dig that. What about you, Robbie?
Robbie Wagner: [06:20] Yeah, so I think for me, as we've established in many episodes, not a huge bourbon fan prefer ryes, but I think in terms of bourbons, this is extremely good. So I would give it, I think, a seven.
Chuck Carpenter: [06:35] Interesting. I primarily have been a bourbon first person, but Robbie has brought me down the trail of ryes. I would say just in general, for me, it's probably around a six for bourbons on their own. I agree with you, Matt. Kind of depends on what I'm in the mood for because you can compare it to like a Wild Turkey bourbon and it's going to have a lot more spice, has a bit more sweet being wheated. I guess your biggest comparisons in wheated bourbons that people know of are like Maker's Mark or you got your Pappy on the other side of things. So I would say it's better than Maker's. For me, maybe the fact that it's not as available as the Maker's makes it a little better in that sense. For me, on the other hand, it was really awesome at like $25, $30. Now at $100 to $150 when you find it or something, it's probably punching way above its weight in that sense. Yeah, I like it when I can get it. I'm not going to seek it all the time. I'm going to agree with you five also because it's not that serious.
Robbie Wagner: [07:35] Yeah, I kind of forgot about it being that expensive. I might drop it down one for that because it's not really worth that price, I would say.
Chuck Carpenter: [07:42] Yeah, when you can get a Buffalo Tracer and Maker's all over the place, decent price, not much off from this, then I'll be like, I'm good with that. Maybe it's like I'm out on a nice steakhouse and it's there and I can order a nice palate cleanser or a friend has it and you can have a dram. Cool. Yeah, I'm into it. I'll have that. Invite a friend of your podcast. Also that, also a good time. You know those kinds of circumstances.
Matt Johnson: [08:10] I got a question. Yeah. What's been one of your highest rated that you guys have done on the show?
Robbie Wagner: [08:14] I think it was the Old Forester Prohibition Style was pretty high.
Chuck Carpenter: [08:19] The 1920. Yeah, I think we agreed pretty high on that one. And you can get that one at like Total Wines and stuff. Fairly regularly. It's about $60, and it's got some meat on the bones, I think.
Matt Johnson: [08:31] Cool. Check it out.
Robbie Wagner: [08:32] Yeah.
Chuck Carpenter: [08:33] All right. So I thought we might talk real-life stuff. I think the first question was yours, Robbie.
Robbie Wagner: [08:39] Yeah, I mean, I just put a bunch of general questions together, and Chuck and I were talking a little bit, and we thought it would kind of be cool to go through how you got into coding and kind of your journey to starting an agency and all that. So let's start with you personally. How did you get into coding and what started you on that path?
Matt Johnson: [08:58] Yeah, so it's actually kind of funny. I was just talking about this the other day, but when I was in high school or coming into high school, my brother, he's always been about three years older than me. He would get into things, and then I would kind of follow in his footsteps. Right. As a true younger brother. My brother got into music and bands, and then I wanted to start a band. So I started a band, and I traveled and toured and did that whole thing. He transitioned into technology, computer programming. I was still traveling in the band. We kind of got up to about 190 days on tour a year, and in the midst of that progression, getting up to that place, I was going to college as well for business administration and was kind of really running the tour booking and the management side of things for the band. I was a bass player, so not really in the limelight, but doing a bunch of stuff behind the scenes. And at one point we needed a website. And knowing my brother had done computer programming and he was doing software engineering, I was like, you know what? I can figure this out. If he can do it, I can do it, right. So did the best job I could at the time. I remember I just did it in Vanilla PHP and HTML and CSS and connected to the database in ugly fashion. There was no ORM or anything like that to help out with those types of things with queries and created my own CRUD pattern and basically content management system custom and built a website for us and fell in love. So I basically immediately changed my major from business administration to computer science and computer information science, and that kind of started my progression in my journey in software engineering. Got married, knew that long-term music wasn't really what I wanted to invest my whole future in. My dad had always encouraged me to pursue the music thing, but also add more things into your basket. Don't put them all in one. And so I had went to college for that, graduated. I became an intern at a very small business by the guy, Earl Johnson. It was called SPI Creative, and my now business partner was basically the manager and he helped run that. And we both just figured out that, hey, we're doing a lot of work here. Why don't we just ask if we can buy this very small operation in an effort to honor him? Right. We didn't want to just kind of quit and leave and go do our own thing because we always strive to do the right thing. And so we went to him, just said, hey, this is what we want to do. We want to grow this thing beyond what you're doing. Can you give us an opportunity to quote-unquote buy it from you? In hindsight, we really didn't buy much, and I don't even think we still have one client that we worked with that was on that book of business, but we grew up from there. In 2012, love my business partner Bart, and our team that we've built over the years, we're now coming up over 100, which is pretty exciting, and we've just got a lot of growth plans in the future, and, in fact, it's been a long run. And my business partner, I decided that he was going to sell his interest, and I'll be the sole owner of Midwestern starting on July 1.
Chuck Carpenter: [12:13] You heard it here, folks.
Robbie Wagner: [12:15] Nice. I guess we can intermingle tech and whatnot, but I want to go down the path of tell us about the band you were in. What kind of music did you play? Anything we would have heard of?
Matt Johnson: [12:26] No, probably not. We were the unsung heroes of Christian worship, so we chewed around in a bunch of camps for kids and all that type of stuff, and we had a blast doing that. We partnered with an organization early on called Christ in Youth and had seen a lot of really good traction from that, and that bled over into a lot of other really cool and interesting opportunities. So it's called the Jordan Howerton Band. There's still a lot of music out there by us. Wouldn't trade those years of my life for anything. It was awesome. It was a lot of fun. I love those guys. They're my brothers and they always will be.
Chuck Carpenter: [13:01] There's some overlap there, right, Robbie?
Robbie Wagner: [13:04] Yeah, I used to be in a metal hardcore Christian band for a few years, so, yeah, we never did 190 days of touring a year, but we did a month or two here and there, and it's definitely fun. And love doing it.
Matt Johnson: [13:19] Yeah, man. What was the name of the band?
Robbie Wagner: [13:21] It's called The Waking Hour. I don't think it's out anywhere for anyone to check out because it was kind of pre-streaming services and things.
Matt Johnson: [13:30] Was that a play off The Witching Hour?
Robbie Wagner: [13:32] I don't actually really know where the name came from. It used to be called Acts of Brutality, and we thought that was, like.
Chuck Carpenter: [13:39] Very Christian.
Robbie Wagner: [13:40] Too much like, you can't tell your grandma it's called Acts of Brutality. So we wanted something more wholesome.
Chuck Carpenter: [13:45] Yeah.
Matt Johnson: [13:47] That's so funny.
Chuck Carpenter: [13:48] You got some merch to share?
Robbie Wagner: [13:49] I don't know, I might have some merch left. My dad wears a lot of the old shirts we had.
Chuck Carpenter: [13:55] It's so funny.
Matt Johnson: [13:56] Your dad too? My dad did too, yeah.
Robbie Wagner: [14:00] Yeah, he only wears things that I have designed or been associated with pretty much, which is kind of hilarious, but it's cool.
Matt Johnson: [14:09] Nice.
Chuck Carpenter: [14:10] Yeah, we'll take the support also. Robbie, you started in having to do a MySpace page for your band, right? Wasn't that your first like, MySpace customization for your band?
Robbie Wagner: [14:20] Yeah, and after that, I started with PHP, so some overlap in that as well.
Matt Johnson: [14:24] It's pretty crazy, right? Like you leverage the tools for what you love to do and then you fall in love with the tool. It's a really interesting thing. I remember the idea of telling a computer what to do was just baffling to me. It was like, I can just create my own anything and leverage it for good. Obviously, some people leverage it for bad, but there's just a lot of things you can do with technology and it's really cool to see what people come up with.
Robbie Wagner: [14:52] Yeah, it's pretty cool that you can have one thing, a computer, and just sit there and make infinite stuff basically.
Chuck Carpenter: [15:00] So many stuff that you never pick one stuff. That's just me right now. I'm like, I have a project list 100 plus long and I'm like tired. That's children, we all know that now.
Robbie Wagner: [15:12] Yeah. Which I guess is a good segue kind of into a few other questions here. So along those lines, how do you decide which types of technologies to work with?
Matt Johnson: [15:23] Oh man, I think there was never a moment that I sat down with like a whiteboard or a chalkboard, depending on the decade, and was like, here's all these languages and technologies and here's all the things that could be built and then here's my methodical decision-making process. I don't know if I have an incident where that occurred, but I think when it comes to the business and it comes to the technologies that we use, it was in some ways right place, right time. I think all of us have opportunities at different times to execute. Some have opportunities and squander them. Some have opportunities and status quo and then others have opportunities and they execute. And there's a lot of things that go into that execution. Your team, your leadership, your ability to grind. Right? I mean, we've all heard the buzzwords, hustle, grind, whatever you call it, grit, but I think it's just the ability to execute on those opportunities and at the end of the day, do the next right thing right? Make a decision that's based on doing right by people and doing right by people, places, or things and good things will start to happen.
Robbie Wagner: [16:31] Yeah, definitely. Chuck and I, being owners of this business, find ourselves doing a ton of different things and not being able to necessarily pick a certain technology or even a certain maybe it's not even technology-based. Like, I do a lot of finance stuff, like, Chuck does a lot of client relations and things.
Chuck Carpenter: [16:50] We're at a different scale, for sure.
Robbie Wagner: [16:53] Yeah.
Chuck Carpenter: [16:53] We have our hands in a number of Pots, and also, like, client interest will drive certain things, and we'll look at that, what the opportunity is, what the client interest is, what's the problem we're trying to solve, and then do we have the tools and the skill set to sort of go down that path?
Matt Johnson: [17:08] For sure.
Chuck Carpenter: [17:09] Yeah. But I think in your sense, it's like some of those things probably overlap. Like, oh, do you seem like interesting problems to be solving? How many of your clients are asking for this kind of thing? And then how you address that from, like, a skill set, interest marketability ideology, and maybe we're going way down the business part of it, but I can see where there's some kind of overlaps in those.
Matt Johnson: [17:34] Yeah, I think what's interesting, you mentioned different scale. I've only not been in the coding seat for a little bit over a year. I am a software engineer. I love coding. I wish I could do it more. The only time I code at this point is when I want to learn something new. Not for anyone else other than me. Like, Web3 is something I've really been getting into just because I think we're kind of in the beginning of some really cool tech initiatives using Web3, but no, man, Robbie, I hear you. There's the finance side, right? I've been managing the budget for Midwestern for the last six years, forecasting the whole nine yards, client relations, I get you, Chuck, right? Like dealing with client issues and all that stuff you have to do when you're at the helm. And so I think there's a big melting pot of when you are running a business, you have to be able to be the right person for the job at any given moment, and you have to have that ability to change your priorities, to meet the priorities of the people setting the priorities, whether that's your employees, whether it's your client, or whether that's you. And being able to put yourself, lower yourself into the seat, get in the fox hole, shoulder to shoulder with your team, and find a way to make it through is really what it's all about. And that's kind of what I was getting out with, choosing to do the right next thing. When you base your decisions on what's right, it's a whole lot easier to go to sleep at night. Right. And getting good rest is very important in the progression of your business.
Chuck Carpenter: [19:05] And sometimes the buck stops with you. Right. Like, you have a vision and you want to protect your team, and you want to, like, oh, Web Three is a buzzword and all that kind of stuff. Is there a realistic opportunity there before I have my team kind of dive into that? Or is this a rug pool for the industry or something else? Or is it a little of both? Who knows? And somebody is going to make those decisions, and you're on the hook for all kinds of things if things were to fail. So I dig that.
Matt Johnson: [19:36] That's right. Have you ever read the book Extreme Ownership?
Chuck Carpenter: [19:39] I haven't. And now you called me out on it.
Matt Johnson: [19:42] It's really good. Recommend it. It's by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. And they were Navy Seals.
Chuck Carpenter: [19:50] I've heard of them.
Matt Johnson: [19:51] They draw on their experience. They're legit dudes. And one of the things I remember that they said is when you embody extreme ownership, you need to be okay with accepting the success, but at the same time, if you're willing to accept the success of something, you have to be willing to accept the failure of something. And I think that's an interesting thing, that we as business owners, we carry that weight with us all the time. The decisions that we make, the things that we do. Yeah, there's lots of high reward, but there's a long way to fall, and having that ability to parse through both of those outcomes and weigh it, like, heavily for you and your team is a heavy burden to carry and it's not a light task. So kudos to you guys.
Chuck Carpenter: [20:39] Yeah. Well, thank you.
Robbie Wagner: [20:41] Thanks. Yeah, I know we've definitely had some sleepless nights wondering how to proceed with certain things and make clients happy, and when people are employed and their livelihood is based on what you decide, that's definitely heavy. But, yeah, I totally agree that not making the decision just in a black box, like, involve others and do what's best for everyone is always going to at least make you feel like you did the right thing. So even if you do fail, you didn't screw anyone over on purpose or anything, which is good.
Matt Johnson: [21:16] Yeah.
Chuck Carpenter: [21:16] So both Robbie and Princess Anna from Frozen Two realize this. Do the next right thing. It's important.
Matt Johnson: [21:22] There you go.
Chuck Carpenter: [21:23] Yeah. I don't know if you've seen that 100,000 times, but I have. Matt.
Matt Johnson: [21:28] I have not seen that 100,000 times.
Robbie Wagner: [21:30] Frozen Two is not very good. Frozen one was good.
Chuck Carpenter: [21:34] I disagree. I highly disagree. Christoph, singing that Lost in the Woods will get stuck in your head for months, and it's excellent music, and you should recognize that as a musician yourself.
Robbie Wagner: [21:48] Well, Rob always argues that Into the Unknown is better than Let it Go, and I will fight him. Like Let it Go gets stuck in your head big time.
Chuck Carpenter: [21:58] For context, Rob works for us, so this is not a great way to talk about your employees. There's like tens of people will hear.
Robbie Wagner: [22:05] I don't mean physical fight. I'm not going to abuse him.
Chuck Carpenter: [22:08] Argument.
Robbie Wagner: [22:08] Yes. I will argue that it is...
Chuck Carpenter: [22:11] Language, Robert. Language.
Matt Johnson: [22:12] Here's what it comes down to I'm probably into this. Most things in life where you're trying to be better than something else, and the impetus for that decision is to be better than something else usually falls short. So I guarantee you when they wrote Into the Unknown, they said, this has to be better than Let it Go,
Chuck Carpenter: [22:31] Right? Yeah.
Matt Johnson: [22:33] I mean, think about that brainstorming session with those writers. They had to have, like, felt the pressure of let it go, and they had to come up with something that was better.
Chuck Carpenter: [22:41] And the first time around, they were just able to be freely, creative, lower risk, not no risk because it's Disney, but they were just like, what's the best we got? Oh, crap. How do we do better than that? I don't know. I just, like, Lost in the Woods. So I do want to track back to another technology question because you were talking about how, like, you were in the seat a year ago and sometimes now. So maybe I have two questions. Sometimes now you're doing it for both your own pleasure and maybe to vet, something new or whatever. But my first question will be, what was the last piece of code you wrote for the company that you were billing clients for?
Matt Johnson: [23:18] Yeah, so I believe my last production push had to do with a notification engine around when to send push notifications, text notifications, and email notifications based on different triggers in an iOS application.
Chuck Carpenter: [23:35] Okay.
Matt Johnson: [23:36] So build the API, obviously with the team. I wasn't the only developer on it, but helped build the API was a microservices NestJS architecture utilizing Kubernetes and blah, blah, blah. All the buzzwords, right?
Chuck Carpenter: [23:49] That's right. I'm just trying to drum up business for you right now.
Matt Johnson: [23:52] Oh, nice. There's a lot of decision points in that, right? Like, when do you send a notification? How do you allow people to subscribe to notifications? They want certain notifications, but not all notifications. And recently I've been seeing something around LinkedIn that was like the diagram chart that Slack uses for the notification engine. And I was like, yes, that's about right. It just looks like a convoluted mess. Like, if someone wants this keyword to notify you, do this. If someone doesn't want notifications for this, don't do this. It's just a lot of decision points that as you run through that decision tree, those notifications have to fire all different ways to all different devices based on device keys and whatnot.
Chuck Carpenter: [24:33] You know what? That is perfect into a quote that I read in the last couple of weeks and where someone said, what makes you a senior engineer isn't that you're faster, it's that you've done it before. And you recognizing patterns like that to understand the correct architecture for launching successful software because you've done it before anyway. It just popped in my mind, yes.
Matt Johnson: [24:58] With that, I think that's good. I'm going to piggyback off that we've got a win-learn mentality here at Midwestern. And not a win-lose. And so that really just adds to any industry that you're in, not just technology or programming, but when you get contextual experience, you have the opportunity to make better decisions the next time. And now does that give you a crutch to say, oh, we can fail here, we can quote, unquote, lose here and everything's going to be okay? That crutch can exist in that mentality. But if you've got great people on your team and you're fostering a great culture, those contextual experiences help further not only the tech that you're building but also the business that you're building to learn from mistakes, to not have those same mistakes next time. So I completely agree with you on that statement.
Robbie Wagner: [25:48] Yeah, definitely. We've talked about on some other episodes, stuff like that, but nothing like dropping all the tables and not having a backup to make you learn not to do that again.
Matt Johnson: [25:57] Yeah.
Robbie Wagner: [25:58] Definitely a learning experience.
Chuck Carpenter: [26:01] Absolutely.
Matt Johnson: [26:02] Nothing like doing that. That also creates migrations into existence. Yes. I guarantee whoever built the migration and database scripting languages were like, I never want to have that experience again because I almost died and had a heart attack.
Chuck Carpenter: [26:17] I mean, there you go. It's very simple and it's probably going to sound like some pseudo business techie speak thing, but like, failure creates innovation, failure in some way. Either the user tried to do something and had a miserable experience, so they created their own or pushed other people to create that, or the person themselves had a massive failure and now they have to write their way out of it.
Matt Johnson: [26:37] Yeah.
Chuck Carpenter: [26:37] Absolutely.
Robbie Wagner: [26:38] Yeah. So I want to circle back for a minute to your learnings on web three. I think for me, the biggest issue with it so far is just that for the common person, you've got to have MetaMask or all the different tools to be able to log in and do things places. So I feel like I wanted to get your take on how we get from kind of this being a niche type of thing that kind of developers are into, like making this a thing that everyone can use.
Matt Johnson: [27:08] Yeah. So I'm not so much into exploring Web3 from a quick pump and dump, money-making thing. Right. I think when most people talk about Web3 and the experts in web three, most of them, there's a lot of people out there that are experts in Web3 that are using it to do some really cool stuff. Right. But most of them that you see on Twitter and all this, they got into Bored Ape Yacht Club early. They've got into some of these early projects that they just made crazy amounts of return on NFTs, which is great, super happy for them, right. But the reality is that's a very small percentage of people in the game and some people may want to talk a big game about how much money they're making, that's awesome. People are making the same amounts and other investment strategies. But for me, the Web3 tech itself that is the most interesting are the problems that they can solve, right? Not necessarily from an investment perspective, but just everyday problems that exist in humanity, right. That it can not necessarily solve it, but it can give us the next step to solving some of these really interesting issues. I'll give one example. Documents, right? Certified documents along the lines of titles for property, titles for vehicles, all that type of stuff, right? I don't know if you've ever had to pay personal property tax or go to a courthouse and do all this stuff. It's literally one of the most cumbersome things you've ever had to experience in your entire life. Right. But at the time that filing cabinets and manila envelopes and all these different things came out, and even paper, right? You would think, okay, that's new technology for people at some point in that progression, that was new technology that was being leveraged to do something new, to help innovate a certain area of responsibility in our existence on this earth. So Web3 for me is, okay, there's a new ledger system, there's a new way to keep track of things that are on-chain, who is responsible, who owned what. There's all different types of unique tools that can solve these problems that in some ways could be used in that instance. Do I think that Web3 as it is today, could solve that and all the tools with Web3 could solve that? No, but the baseline foundation and the technology that exists could, if the tooling got better, solve something like that.
Chuck Carpenter: [29:38] Yeah, boom. Nailed it on that. I believe that, too, and I think that that's really where we are best placed to help that movement. Right. And obviously, there's all this marketing and press on a different side, which is interesting, and you can have this pull towards, wow, I'd like some of that FOMO. But conversely, where our skill sets are, our knowledge is that there's a lot of potential in the infrastructure and what could we do to contribute and be part of that? And yeah, I hadn't really thought about it, in being like the leap in the same way that you trust John Smith down the road, and he said, yeah, they've had this house ten years, and they got the roof done five years in. Trust me, I'm John, I'm your neighbor. And then we had to move into documentation. Why are we documenting? Because we're putting on a paper and a file camera. You don't trust me, you're giving it to the government. Well, and now we're talking about another leap in many ways, the same way we put our credit cards on our phones and stuff like that. It's not like a massive leap into that. You have a very much more responsible example of a way you can do that. Then I've said on this podcast before where I was talking about like, let's say you had a wine membership. Now it's an email and a list and becomes commoditized within this whole into Web3 and even an NFT, not as a piece of art, but an NFT is like, it's my membership. And then when I decided I don't want your wine club anymore, I am able to resell it. And then you, every time it's resold, can take a percentage of that. That's all, I think, positive for those businesses and the individuals versus art. And I'm not opposed to art, but I'm an old man. Get off my lawn sometimes.
Matt Johnson: [31:22] For sure. And what I would say to those types of things too, is that there's so many projects out there that are trying to do things like that. Right. I think a key differentiator for me that I think I find intriguing. So there's this Links golf DAO, right? And, okay, I have a membership to this thing where do I play golf? Right? It's like they sell these things as a way to do any other VC pitch where there's really nothing behind it other than just, here's an idea and a vision for what this NFT membership would look like now. Invest in it and trade these NFTs until I have enough money to do something with it.
Chuck Carpenter: [32:02] I can't tell whether Robbie shared with you what we were going to discuss or you're trolling me right now or I don't know.
Robbie Wagner: [32:08] What do you mean?
Chuck Carpenter: [32:09] We'll get there. Sorry and I interrupted you, but I'll let him finish first.
Matt Johnson: [32:12] No. So for me, it's like, I think businesses that have membership already, right, they have the infrastructure in place to support the product. Whether or not they're profitable yet, I don't think is necessarily the big key differentiator there. I think it's more of do they have the infrastructure to provide a membership? Right. Do they have an avenue in which membership can be executed and more so than just a Discord or some sort of chat engine or text group or something like that? I mean, like legit membership that allows them to receive the benefit from holding it. And I think there's too many projects out there that they create these memberships and then they've got a quote-unquote roadmap and they haven't achieved it yet, and all of a sudden the project is rugged and it's over.
Chuck Carpenter: [32:55] Yeah.
Matt Johnson: [32:55] So those are just my two cents getting into web three, to be careful. Not that I've been rugged before. I've absolutely been rugged before. That's my two cents.
Chuck Carpenter: [33:06] Did you also take investment advice from Robbie?
Matt Johnson: [33:11] No, I got roped into some stuff that was honestly just a nightmare. And I've been a part of projects that were good and I've been a part of projects that were bad. And I think that's why I've got a healthy perspective now. So I know which road to take and which one not to.
Chuck Carpenter: [33:26] Yeah.
Robbie Wagner: [33:27] Chuck likes to give me a hard time, but exactly the only thing that he bought was Shiba Inu, which, yes, it has gone down because you bought it at the most expensive price.
Chuck Carpenter: [33:38] When you convinced me to buy it.
Matt Johnson: [33:40] But the community is still behind it. There's, like, tons and tons of people still in it.
Chuck Carpenter: [33:44] I still have it. It is what it is. And I think you're well-intentioned, so let me say that here. Even though I make a lot of jokes on this podcast, I'm not a terrible human all the time. You're well-intentioned, you share things you're interested in, and you always say, probably shouldn't follow my advice, though. So there you go. And other friends in the same that are involved in some things, and they've done well or whatever else. I have a friend that got into an NFT and got a Damien Hirst NFT, and it is awesome. I studied a lot of art and art history and all that kind of stuff, and he's displaying NFT in his kitchen, and it's really cool. And you can exchange that for a physical one if you really didn't believe in it at any point, too. So I think that kind of stuff, it's kind of a niche, but it's a neat opportunity, and it's very opinion space there, too. So it's like, oh, if you don't like that art, that's how art is. Move on. It's not for you.
Matt Johnson: [34:39] Yeah.
Chuck Carpenter: [34:40] So you're talking about golf. I understand your favorite sport is baseball, so tell us about that.
Matt Johnson: [34:46] My favorite sport is baseball?
Chuck Carpenter: [34:48] No, I'm just kidding. You clearly haven't listened to this podcast before, but that's okay. So now there's, like, two jokes I've made there.
Matt Johnson: [34:56] Oh, sorry.
Chuck Carpenter: [34:57] Yeah. I know you love golf. I think we've talked about it a couple of different times. So where did your interest in golf come from?
Matt Johnson: [35:05] Man, I played golf at an early age. Not in a good way. Like, I was never, like, great. I never played on a team or anything like that. But I did take lessons one summer. It was cool but put it up. Wasn't for me. Right. And then probably a year and a half ago, I started to pick up golf again, and I fell in love with it. And I think for me personally, it was this avenue in which I could be completely and 100% responsible for the input and the output. I don't think it's a coincidence that me not programming anymore kind of lines up with my golf addiction. Right. And so getting out of this seat where you are the sole responsible person for a line of code and the success of that code running. Right. I needed those, like, dopamine hits, or I needed that immediate feedback that said, oh, that's great. Good job, Matt. Keep going. Or I needed the inverse of that, which is, like, that was a terrible shot. Do better next time, right?
Chuck Carpenter: [36:11] And that's where I always get caught up.
Matt Johnson: [36:13] Yeah, but I think it created this need to watch videos and fix my swing and learn and go out and practice and hit balls and things like that. So it's been good for me in the season of life. I also have a lot of friends to play, so we've got some competition. I'm a very competitive person. I love being outside. I love exercising. It just kind of checks all the boxes. For this point in my life.
Chuck Carpenter: [36:36] I actually am not sure. Robbie, do you golf?
Robbie Wagner: [36:39] No I might do my first round next month. If I do, I'll let you know how it goes.
Chuck Carpenter: [36:44] You should, yeah. And that's the problem I've had. And maybe it is about the season of life. Kind of like what you said is the period of life where there are certain things that I enjoyed. We're good at handful of a half dozen hobbies or so, and that's it. Like, Oh, I don't want another one. I'm not good at this. Okay. I can drive the ball far, can't really put it in any direction, and I have to do this 18 times, as Robin Williams would have said. No, and I hate this and it's expensive, so whatever. But yeah, I don't know, maybe like the input-output and having some control and then having the ability to sort of like, I'm not good, but I could be. I can get the skill and enjoy that, maybe to a degree.
Matt Johnson: [37:28] Right. What's cool about golf, too, is that the only person you're really playing is yourself. Right. Like, it's a very mentally challenging game, because, again, I don't know how much you know about it. I'm going to talk about it real quick. There is essentially 72 strokes to hit an even-par on most golf courses. Okay. I think there's a stat that's like, less than 1% that could be a little aggressive. Let's go with five. Less than 5% of golfers get under 100, right? So when you think about that, like, bogey golf, which is one stroke over par for every hole, will put you around 90, right. Double bogey golf will put you over 100. So no matter what course you play, no matter what you do, there's a mixture of par fours, par threes, par fives, and you can always kind of keep a running tally of what your lowest score is, and you're always trying to get a lower and lower score. It's a lot like the stock market, right? It'll ping-pong, but you can get that average score, and you keep getting it lower and lower and lower, and you keep getting that dopamine hit and that pay off, that carrot that keeps you going.
Chuck Carpenter: [38:34] All right, I'm going to write that down. You promise? All three get together and we're going to play, and I'm going to be full of 18 dopamine hits, minimum.
Matt Johnson: [38:43] Let's do it. All right. Yeah. Because there's always one shot that you make that keeps you coming back, right. You're like, Oh, my gosh, I hit that like 3ft from the pin, and I got a birdie or something like that, right?
Chuck Carpenter: [38:53] That's like my whole career sort of like flailing, flailing, flailing. Oh, my gosh, I built something amazing. Flailing, flailing, flailing.
Matt Johnson: [39:02] You got it, man.
Chuck Carpenter: [39:04] Yeah. Interesting. Yeah. I didn't want to totally troll you on that, but I had to make some jokes, and I know it's something you're really interested in, so I figured worth bringing up.
Matt Johnson: [39:12] Yes. The lowest I've ever shot is 87. So there you go.
Chuck Carpenter: [39:16] Nice.
Matt Johnson: [39:17] Not great. Not bad, but 87.
Chuck Carpenter: [39:20] Nothing to be ashamed of.
Robbie Wagner: [39:21] Yeah, that's not bad.
Chuck Carpenter: [39:23] So we mentioned earlier that you not only have a successful agency, but you're a multiple business owner. Not everybody knows that. We are also that. But let's talk about you first, your other businesses, how those came to be, or how you decided to get into that.
Robbie Wagner: [39:38] How many tires have you flipped?
Chuck Carpenter: [39:41] Yes.
Matt Johnson: [39:43] Yeah. So I used to be really heavy into CrossFit, and at that time, my wife had kind of grown-up, not only in her family, but she was really close with another family, and the head of the household was really in the CrossFit and that other family she was closely connected to. And he kind of got me into CrossFit. I went to a CrossFit competition, watched him one time, and I was like, you know what? I can do this. I'm going to go do it. So went to a gym, got into CrossFit. He was into CrossFit. My business partner, Bart, I got him to come with me. Funny story real quick. His first day, I'd been going for, like, I think probably three months at that point. And his first day, he just went for it, man. I mean, like, all out went for it. And at the end of the workout, he felt like he was going to puke. And it looked like he was literally getting ready to pass it out. He was sitting down, back up against one of those box jumps, and the gym owner came over, was like, dude, you're going to puke. So he brought a trash can over, and the trash can was on his left side. Bart looked at the trash can and then immediately turned right and puked all over his gym floor. It's so funny. And it's been infamous that Bart did that. But long story short, we got into kind of CrossFit apparel, and then that led us into CrossFit Gyms. And so we opened our first gym, gosh, I think, in 2017. And we now have three gyms, one in Northwest Arkansas, one in Joplin, one in Carthage. And looking to add more.
Robbie Wagner: [41:20] Nice.
Chuck Carpenter: [41:21] It should be noted that those are all in which state?
Matt Johnson: [41:24] Missouri, Arkansas, and Missouri.
Robbie Wagner: [41:28] There you go.
Chuck Carpenter: [41:28] Yeah.
Matt Johnson: [41:30] And then we also have a coffee shop I have with another business partner. With my traveling with the Jordan Howerton Band, we went to coffee shops all the time. Joplin didn't really have a really good in my mind at the time, coffee shop, that was just a gathering place where people could come and leave better than I came. And we wanted to do that. So we took an old gas station, garage, tire shop, completely renovated the whole thing, just myself and Austin Daniel, and we gutted it. It was not in any good condition whatsoever. And now it's a beautiful, really cool industrious coffee shop. And I think it rivals from a taste perspective, obviously, every coffee shop has niche and we support all coffee shops, but I constantly am saying, oh, it's not zinc, not zinc. And we have people telling us that all the time, too. So the name of the coffee shop is Zinc Coffee.
Chuck Carpenter: [42:26] Let's go on a coffee tour. I have some favorites here, some favorites in DC, and then international favorites. Yeah. Robbie, I'm going to have to take off for a couple of months.
Robbie Wagner: [42:35] Yeah.
Matt Johnson: [42:36] What's your drink of choice?
Chuck Carpenter: [42:38] Well, I like espresso as a way of tasting it. Like tasting the roast and that kind of thing. I never have a drink. It's always black coffee in some form.
Robbie Wagner: [42:48] Gross.
Chuck Carpenter: [42:51] I don't know.
Robbie Wagner: [42:51] I like cortados sometimes lattes.
Chuck Carpenter: [42:54] I do like. I guess that's true. I'm a liar. I don't not like those ever. When I'm traveling, I like to get a cappuccino in the morning. I mean, I'm cultured. I don't have it after eleven, but.
Robbie Wagner: [43:08] Yeah, you learned that in Italy, you can't get it after noon. Right?
Chuck Carpenter: [43:11] Right, exactly. And then yeah. Cortado when I was in Spain, or just sometimes later in the day, it's kind of nice. But in general, because I want to taste kind of what they have going on. What's the roast, what's the bean, and all that stuff?
Matt Johnson: [43:23] Yeah.
Chuck Carpenter: [43:24] Just get an espresso.
Matt Johnson: [43:26] For sure. Yeah. Something. The coffee shop journey for me was that the best espressos are dialed in every day. I didn't realize that like, the temperature can change the flavor, the humidity can change the flavor. And so having a barista that's able to dial in the espresso every day makes a huge difference in the outcome of the shop.
Chuck Carpenter: [43:47] Yeah. People that are invested, not just there, that goes across industries. Like you were saying.
Robbie Wagner: [43:55] You got to dial in your YAML files, Chuck.
Chuck Carpenter: [43:59] Yeah. Robbie knows. And maybe you don't know or I don't know, maybe you do. I say it too much. My dream is just to be a really good YAML developer.
Matt Johnson: [44:07] Nice. Good for you. My experience with YAML...
Chuck Carpenter: [44:11] Hang around with Kubernetes.
Matt Johnson: [44:12] Yeah, with Kubernetes. And I had to do with that project. Honestly, I last touched. So frustrating. YAML is very frustrating at times. Until you get a plug-in on your IDE or whatever you use for coding that can just fix all your formatting issues.
Robbie Wagner: [44:30] Yeah, I can't count the number of times that I've pushed to GitHub actions, and it's like, your YAML file is not correct, and I have to do it again, and it's like, it's still not correct, and I'm like, well, don't let me push it then, or something. Come on.
Chuck Carpenter: [44:44] Smarter IDEs. That's really what it is. It's about your settings, and you're not using it often enough, so you don't have the settings and all of that. Yeah, computers are smarter than me. I realize that.
Matt Johnson: [44:53] Right. Put out it to your sniffing okay, we're talking tech, right? What do you guys do? What's your sniffing strategy and, like, GitHub action strategy and CI/CD pipeline strategy? What do you set up for local catches? What do you set up for pipeline catches? All that type of stuff.
Robbie Wagner: [45:14] So I tend to not do a ton of, like, pre-commit hooks or any of that kind of stuff because I like to just run linting. Like, I'll run ESLint. Ember has, like, template linting and then prettier formatting on all that. And that's part of a CI check for run-on the lint versus not allowing you to push it all if the lint doesn't pass, because I think that's really annoying if I want to just push something up real quick and fix it later. So I do it all CI side. Nothing local.
Chuck Carpenter: [45:45] Yeah, because even if Husky is on a project, I find myself throwing no verify flags on all the time and like, okay, you have this. Yeah, I can get past that because I want to be able to commit code every day and have in progress. Not ready for prime-time draft stuff anyway, right? I agree. I prefer it on the CI side also. We kind of tend to find that, like which makes sense. I used to be on the corporate side, engineering manager, director, whatever else, and then, like, having people come in who didn't always live there, and you have to protect your product to a degree, so you set some guardrails there and try to have those layers. So now I'm on the other side of that, and that's great. I understand that. I'm empathetic to it, but on the other hand, I want to have in-progress work, and then on our open source work, I kind of want to lower the barrier to entry because we have all of this when we're working with clients in the open-source community, you just want to be friendlier, and so, like, let GitHub or let Circle, Travis or whatever, talk back to you a little bit, let you know what's going on, and then let you still contribute and get things off your computer, essentially.
Matt Johnson: [46:53] For sure. Yeah. We went early on. Obviously, when all these tools come out, all these ideas come out, right? Like, you always want to just jump to them and try them out, and then reality hits right there's. Like this dogmatic approach that can exist, but then you start to realize real life still exists. We need to find something that works well for our workflows and all that stuff. So I completely agree with what you guys have set up. All those pre-commit hooks can be pretty what's the word? They can be a lot of handcuffs to you and your progress and visibility and transparency into what you're doing.
Chuck Carpenter: [47:27] Well, yeah, I'm going to guess you would agree that, like, a work-life balance makes happy, healthy people, right? And if you have people working on a project and it's 4:30 and they're trying to tidy up and just get their code pushed so that it's protected, it's off my machine, and people can take a look if they want, but it's not really a big deal, and then they run into these barriers and then you're like, well, okay, let me fix that thing. Now it's 6 o' cock. Okay, well, that's great for some people, but it's not ideal for, again, a happy, healthy workforce of people that want to contribute and even feels open source. Can you imagine, oh, I'm wearing this thing. I thought, oh, I can spend an hour and contribute to your projects. Maybe I can't get it merged, but can I at least get my idea out? Whiskey works, by the way.
Robbie Wagner: [48:16] Yeah, it's also a problem because if someone else pushed with no verify or there's like a thing that like a dependency of a dependency updates and it has like a type error and you're doing really strict type checking the checks that way all the way down, like there's an error that you didn't introduce that suddenly you have to fix to be able to push at all. So I just don't agree with that set up.
Matt Johnson: [48:41]
Yes, it's interesting. So this is going to lead us into another question I have is like testing strategies, right? Like, there's been projects we've been a part of, they're like, we want 100% test coverage. And then there's projects that are like, we don't want any test coverage, and then there's projects that are like, we want 50. Right? There's so many opinions around the topic. So what's y'all's opinion?
Chuck Carpenter: [49:02] It's an arbitrary metric, so it depends on context. It's the same as velocity, right? We want every developer to have 15 points velocity every single sprint. Well, guess what? You can manipulate that if you know it going in. So velocity is a metric to help your team plan. That's it. And everybody's on the hook for the total committed work. It doesn't inform business people how the team is doing. And I think that test coverage is very much the same way, is that you can game it if you kind of have to. If it's 100% coverage, guess what? You're stifling some feature work user value. And if that's what you value more, because that's a metric you've set in your organization, okay? But just don't think that that guarantees everything is fine because it doesn't yeah.
Robbie Wagner: [49:50] You could have a thing that clicks everything, fills in everything does all the stuff, and then just a search through. You didn't test anything, but you get 100% coverage because you interacted with everything.
Chuck Carpenter: [50:00] Oh, yeah.
Robbie Wagner: [50:01] So it is kind of silly.
Chuck Carpenter: [50:03] So zero and 100% are both scary to me.
Matt Johnson: [50:05] Yeah, totally. And there's like this element too like anytime you're mocking data, you're what? You're mocking data to me, I think obviously there's ways to mock data in a healthy, responsible way. But to your point, if you're just trying to get 100% test coverage, there's unhealthy ways to mock data that just check the box. Have you done anything with consumer-driven contract testing?
Chuck Carpenter: [50:31] I don't know what you're saying. Those are a lot of words. Nobody's put those together for me.
Matt Johnson: [50:36] Yeah, and I'm only drawing back to kind of the last real project that I was deving on. But in a microservices architecture, a lot of the problems with the microservice is that not everyone knows how people are utilizing that microservice.
Chuck Carpenter: [50:50] No true integration testing. Right, okay.
Matt Johnson: [50:53] Yeah. And then there's integration testing with E to E, right. People are like, this is integration testing. But in the microservice architecture, it's like no, you're really only testing the utilization that you know of and you can get that coverage. But so the consumer-driven contract testing is more using a tool like Postman or some of those tools where you can create these automated workflows tied into CI/CD pipelines. And you're essentially saying if you are a consumer of this API right. You need to write tests. Obviously, we're talking about a more protected microservice environment, not every third party.
Chuck Carpenter: [51:28] Simulated sandbox, if you will.
Matt Johnson: [51:30] You got it. You write your own test that it goes through the usage of the microservice and then it will show green or false. Right. And then, so you when you're developing on that micro-service, you can have full visibility into if you're breaking something that a consumer of that microservice is using.
Chuck Carpenter: [51:45] We're going to have to have you back because I have a lot of thoughts around that.
Matt Johnson: [51:49] It's a really interesting way to go about testing that, honestly, in my opinion, bolsters it up even larger than unit testing or feature testing, just because you're actually testing the utilization of the consumer, not the code itself.
Robbie Wagner: [52:03] That makes a lot of sense.
Chuck Carpenter: [52:04] Yeah, I agree 100%. I think there are a lot of entryways into that and I think there's some interesting people you could discuss that with. TBD yeah.
Matt Johnson: [52:13] Just to be clear, I think Netflix is one of the big proponents of leading out on CDC testing.
Chuck Carpenter: [52:20] Did you do any of that stuff there, Robbie?
Robbie Wagner: [52:22] No, I was there to keep the Ember app alive while they killed all of the Ember and converted to React. So I was not involved with conversations like that.
Chuck Carpenter: [52:31] Oh, well, anyway.
Matt Johnson: [52:33] Cool. Yeah, well, that was a fun little fun little whatnot?
Robbie Wagner: [52:36] Yeah, we're about at the end here. We usually keep these to about an hour. So with the last minute here, is there anything you would like to plug or any other projects you're working on or causes you care about? Things we didn't cover?
Matt Johnson: [52:47] No, I just think at Midwestern our mission is to serve each other and serve our client. And just to anyone out there doing anything in society, putting other people's needs above your own will always produce a great positive outcome. So serve everyone you work with, serve the people you work for, and good things will happen.
Robbie Wagner: [53:09] Nice. Good advice. Thanks everybody for listening. If you liked it, please subscribe and we will catch you next time.
Chuck Carpenter: [53:18] Thanks for listening to Whiskey Web and Whatnot. This podcast is brought to you Ship Shape and produced byy Podcast Royale. If you like this episode, consider sharing it with a friend or two and leave us a rating, mabe a review. As long as it's good.
Robbie Wagner: [53:33] You can subscribe to future episodes on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcast. For more info about Ship Shape and this show, check out our website at shipshape.io.