This is a transcript. For the video, see How to Grow, Support, and Fund your Open Source Project - With Dries Buytaert.
[00:00:00] Michael Meyers: Hello, and welcome to another Tag1 TeamTalk, the podcast and vlog of Tag1 Consulting. Today, we're talking about how to grow, support, and fund your open source project with Dries Buytaert, the founder and project lead of the Drupal open source CMS and framework, which powers one out of 30 websites on the internet.
[00:00:19] Dries is also the founder of Acquia. The startup that was acquired in late 2019 by Vista Equity Partners for a billion dollars. That's billion with a B, and the Acquia Enterprise Digital Experience Platform enables you to build engaging applications on top of Drupal. So welcome, Dries. Thank you so much for joining us.
[00:00:42] Dries Buytaert: Thanks for having me. It's great.
[00:00:44] Michael Meyers: We, we wanted to have this conversation because we're really involved in a lot of open source projects. And so we wanted to talk with the founders of popular, open source projects to discuss, you know, how you got your project to sustainability and, you know, encourage everyone out there to do more, to support the open source projects that we rely on. To help other founders, you know, replicate your success and grow their projects into something bigger than they are today, as well as to help more developers that are pouring their heart and soul into these projects, to find ways to fund and support their work.
[00:01:23] I'm Michael Meyers. I'm managing director at Tag1 Consulting, and joining me today to talk with Dries are Fabian Franz, our VP of technology at Tag1. Who's also the Drupal 7 framework manager and core committer, and Kevin Jahns, the founder and project lead of Yjs, which is an open source framework that enables you to add real-time collaboration to any application.
[00:01:44] We have so much to talk about today with Dries that we broke this into two segments. This is part one. We're going to be talking about growing your open source projects and contributor base and user base. Be sure to check out part two, we're going to talk about financially supporting your open source development work.
[00:02:01] We'll put the link in the show notes. Dries, just to kick things off, I want to step back and say, congratulations on the 20th Anniversary of Drupal. That is an insane milestone. It's pretty wild.
[00:02:15] Dries Buytaert: Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, it's basically most of my professional career at this point, you know, and almost half my life that have been working on Drupal.
[00:02:26] So it's been a, it's been an - A big part of my life, obviously you know, credit goes through all of the contributors, you know, tens of thousands of people that have contributed to Drupal and made it successful over those 20 years. But it's been a wild ride.
[00:02:40] Michael Meyers: We were kids when we first met. It's crazy.
[00:02:42] Dries Buytaert: Yeah, we were.
[00:02:43]Michael Meyers: You know, Drupal has done so much for so many people in so many organizations and I'm really grateful to be one of those individuals that have meaningfully benefited from Drupal, both personally, you know, all the amazing people and friends that I've met to professionally, the last, you know, 17 years, my career and finances have been based on Drupal. So I really want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, you know, on behalf of all those contributors, you know for everything that you've done, you know, the, the sacrifice and hard work that you put in over the last 20 years to make this happen.
[00:03:16] Dries Buytaert: No, you're welcome. Thank you. And I feel the same way, you know, I'm very grateful for all of the people that have been involved. So, it's been a team effort, so I think we're all have been helping each other throughout the years. So it's pretty cool.
[00:03:29] Michael Meyers: It's an amazing community. When you first released Drupal as an open source project, what were your goals and expectations like in your wildest dreams?
[00:03:38] Did you think, you know you know, it would be anything like it is today. Like what the hell were you thinking?
[00:03:43] Dries Buytaert: That was sort of an accident to be honest. So I didn't have a master plan 20 years ago. I mean, basically I started Drupal because I wanted to build an intranet application for me and my friends. And I picked PHP and mySQL because at the time.
[00:04:00] Again, 20 years ago, these were kind of the new kids on the block. You know, these sort of like emerging technologies that were pretty cool. And so I started Drupal because on the one hand I had an itch to scratch. As we say, in open source, I had a need for a message board. And on the other hand I wanted to learn about this new technology.
[00:04:20] So it was really born out of my own needs and desires, and there was never like this. You know, big plan, like let's power out of 30 websites in the world. The goal is like a one website and to learn a little bit about PHP and mySQL and some other web technology. So that was really it, you know, I was kind of Started by accident, I would say on a, on a whim.
[00:04:42] And initially I thought maybe I would spend a couple nights or something like, you know, again, it wasn't like a big project, even in terms of a personal project that was just like, let me, you know, slap some things together here and see what these things are all about. And I guess it kind of spiraled out of control from there, you know. In a good way.
[00:05:05] Michael Meyers: We did a, we did a series of podcasts celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Drupal, and I've been interviewing a lot of people at Tag1 that had been part of the community, you know, since the earliest days. And when I spoke to Jeremy Andrews, who, for those who don't know is the founder of Tag1. He reminded me that 20 years ago, he had this blog called Kernel Trap. That was about Linux hacking and it was popular and it would get featured on slashdot a lot.
[00:05:33] And there was the Slashdot effect where it would inundate you with traffic. And, you know, the site would go down. And you were a reader of Kernel Trap and you reached out to him and you said, Hey, you know, why don't you check out Drupal? and it's amazing. Not only did Jeremy check it out and use it, but 20 years later Tag1 is a, you know, a huge contributor and supporter of Drupal.
[00:05:54] So that, that outreach had, you know, an unbelievable impact. How did you first grow, you know, the, the user base of Drupal? Were you reaching out to people like that all the time?
[00:06:06] Dries Buytaert: Well, I would actually like. well, first of all, like I'm looking forward to watch all of these interviews you're doing Michael and I have them queued up in my sort of to watch list.
[00:06:16] And I was out sick last week, so I haven't got a chance to, to watch them yet, but I'm excited to, to re re hear those stories, but Jeremy's story was amazing because as you mentioned he had A blog Kernel Trap. And I was also a small contributor to Linux and a Linux user at the time. And so I loved everything about it.
[00:06:36] And also at the time, and Linux was sort of all the rage, you know, like people are talking about it all the time and today. It's still all the rage, but people don't talk about it as much anymore. It kind of disappeared a little bit in the background, as it became literally infrastructure for the world.
[00:06:54] It was people like to talk about things that are cutting edge and sort of, you know, disrupting the status quo and as things get accepted, maybe they become a little bit less interesting to talk about. But anyway, so Jeremy's site was crashing and and Jeremy may have told this story, I don't know, but the site was crashing and I would reach out and I promised him like, if you switch your site from, I think it was PHP-Nuke or something that he was using another open source CMS or Post Nuke, I forgot what it was. I said, if you migrate your sites I promise you, your site will never crash again, which was obviously kind of a sale-sy and marketing thing to say. and I had to convince him a little bit and I even gave him Root access, if you will, to you know, drop.org, which was sort of the only, or one of the few Drupal sites at the time which is also kind of a weird thing to do. And eventually Jeremy ported, his sites and next time he was on Slashdot. Obviously his site came down crashing. So my promise wasn't really a good one, I'm afraid, but we collaborated on making some improvements to Drupal based on sort of, you know, profiling and instrumenting that crash.
[00:08:08] And You know, Jeremy made some contributions and that's how he got involved. The next time his site was, was fine. Anyway, to answer your question, like I would do that quite a bit, actually. Yeah. I was trying to promote Drupal. It's hard to get your project off the ground and to get it noticed, especially back in those days where you didn't really have Github, et cetera, et cetera, you know, where you can easily find open source projects and, and And so yeah, we had a website and you had to make people aware of your system.
[00:08:38] And so I would email people I would try and convince the websites that I admired, like Kernel Trap to switch to, to Drupal. And I would try to participate in discussions online and kind of promote Drupal, et cetera, et cetera. And it's funny because I kind of did that naturally in a way, like it didn't necessarily got training to do that. But then as I got more involved with startups later in life it's very natural for startups to kind of between quotes buy their first customers, you know, making an investment to get these first customers like giving things away for free. And that kind of sales and marketing tactics are that kind of part of the startup hustle.
[00:09:23] And so in many ways they behaved like. Like a startup founder, I guess, trying to get Drupal off the ground too.
[00:09:31] Michael Meyers: Wow. So it just came naturally.
[00:09:33] Fabian Franz: Were there other stories where you remember of someone you sold Drupal to?.
[00:09:40]Dries Buytaert: Do I remember other stories like that? There was so many I don't know. It was any kind of well-known sites or anything like Kernel Trap definitely was you know, so somewhat famous at the time. but like I got emails like that all the time, like in 2006 or so I would say, like, I remember MTV switching to Drupal. And there was no real Drupal companies at the time. There was a few like the Lullabots, et cetera, were born and are very often these people would email me, you know, and they would ask me like, do you think MTV could run on Drupal?
[00:10:17] And I would be like, yeah, it will.
[00:10:20] Michael Meyers: It will never go down.
[00:10:22] Dries Buytaert: But then very often I would jump on the phone with them and do. help them scale their sites or fix problems. And, I did all of that free of charge, you know, like it was just for fun. And I remember spending a lot of my evenings on Yeah, it wasn't zoom at the time, but like sort of conference calls really, and helping them, helping organizations debug and fix things that were wrong.
[00:10:46] Not necessarily with Drupal it's sometimes with their infrastructure, right. As, as you guys know very well. And so that's actually one of the reasons why I ended up co-founding Acquia. Because I felt like for Drupal to be successful for Drupal to get really big, it needed a company that would provide the kind of enterprise grade support for organizations like MTV, you know, not necessarily the Kernel Traps of the world, which were, you know, with all respect, like hobby projects.
[00:11:16] Right. But like, I felt like for Drupal to get really mainstream, it just needed to have that. You know that commercial organization behind it, that was kinda to Drupal, what you know, Red Hat was to Linux. That was kind of the original vision.
[00:11:32] Michael Meyers: Kernel Trap was definitely more of a hobby project.
[00:11:35] And talking to Jeremy, I was like, how much revenue did you generate? Like he kept saying, he's like, couldn't buy coffee, passion project all the way. So I think one of the things that really sets Drupal apart is its contributor base. You know, there's really active and engaged insane amount of people. It's, it's crazy. And, you know, we spoke to Marijn Haverbeke, the founder of CodeMirror and ProseMirror on our last open source leadership podcast.
[00:12:07] And he talked about how he created this great setup for himself. You know, he, he gets paid to work on his projects and he isn't looking to grow a community. You know, he, he described himself as a control freak who doesn't want to deal with other people's code and he's, you know, fulfilling his ambitions, you know, he's, he's got exactly what he wants and it's, and it's amazing.
[00:12:26] So not every project or project leader wants to have a community. And, and while I wouldn't say that Marijn goes this far, you know, there is this concept of open source, but not open contribution on one end of the spectrum. Drupal is on the completely other end of the spectrum you know? So you took this really different approach and I'm wondering, you know, did you consciously decide that you wanted to create a community of collaborators or did this just, you know, organically happen?
[00:12:58] Dries Buytaert: It organically happened? I would say, I mean, again, to go back into time, right? So at some point I was the only user of. Drupal. In fact, it wasn't called Drupal and it was just a website drop.org. And it was a little bit like a blog where I would write about things that were interesting to me, especially centered around the future of the web and emerging trends and technology.
[00:13:22] And it was also an experimental platform where I dabbled with emerging web technologies, like RSS was being invented. I was one of the first people to implement RSS feeds. People started blogging. And so I added a feature called public diary or public diaries to you know, my sites because it wasn't called blogging.
[00:13:43] It didn't have the name blogging back then. Also implemented a feature where other people could submit stories to my site drop.org and then visitors could vote on those stories. And the best stories with the most votes would automatically get promoted to the main page. And so that was way before.
[00:14:04] Sites like Digg and eventually even Reddit, you know, like, so it was dabbling with a lot of these kind of ideas. And anyway, it was kind of an experimental platform and that attracted people to drop.org that were interested in the future of the web. And they started making suggestions and like, maybe you can change the algorithm to work like this, or, you know, that kind of stuff.
[00:14:28] And eventually, instead of me having to implement all of these suggestions, which was fun I felt you know, maybe it makes sense to open source this so that people can then download it and use it as their own experimental platform actually see the code and the algorithms, and then suggest more specific recommendations.
[00:14:48] And so that's when I, like, I think I spent like 30 seconds thinking of a name. Like no Drupal, like it wasn't like, again, a big sort of like, Oh, what am I going to name this thing? and I literally copied the GPL license file from my Linux kernel tree into my websites, created a zip file and uploaded that zip file to drop.org.
[00:15:13] I mean, that was it. Like if like there, and maybe I expected the 10 other people to download Drupal, you know, like it was literally just like here it is. Try it out if you want, if you have any suggestions for changes, let me know. but very much like the other gentleman that you mentioned, I forgot his name right now, but I was very obsessive about the code and I wanted it to be perfect.
[00:15:35] And so it wasn't necessarily, again, looking to build a community. but it just kind of happened. Like people started using it. People started contributing patches. And suggestions. And at the time I was just on a mailing list or not even a mailing list, they would email me a patch. You know, we didn't have GitHub or, you know, GitLab and the likes and slowly, but certainly we started building a community, like one user at a time, you know, like I got Jeremy involved Marco got involved.
[00:16:04] I mean, like all of these people started to get involved and started using Drupal as a starting point. And then adding on top of it and I would start collecting these things, these changes and merging them in, you know, and making releases and literally. You know, Drupal started growing and, and people think Drupal sometimes is like an overnight success, but it's not. Like it actually went really, really slow.
[00:16:32] You know, it's like a, almost like a compounding machine or initially it feels really slow, like two users, three users. and like to give you an example in 2005, so Drupal, I released. On January 15th, 2001. So let's call it the beginning of 2001. Right? So in 2005, I organized the first Drupal conference.
[00:16:57] Then they had like, I think like 30 or 40 people showed up. So that's like four years or five years after really starting Drupal. We had 40 people show up. Yeah. So it's not like an explosion happen or something.
[00:17:12]Kevin Jahns: I think that's quite a lot. Like 30 people actually showing up physically, that's I think a lot of work.
[00:17:19] there are more success. Like they are really successful open source projects and I don't think I like just counting the stars on GitHub. Right. And I don't think I would show up for any of these. because we're getting so used to open source right now. And I think what you did was something really special, especially at the time.
[00:17:38] And what you're saying is I'm kind of familiar with the Linux story, right? I, I wasn't, I was still like learning math when you did all of that, but. so I I got really interested in Linux, and this is why I started development myself. And what you are telling is basically the same story as the Linux story.
[00:17:56] Basically, some guy working on his own problem, tryingto fix it and making a bit more generic, and then suddenly people getting involved and contributing. And using your mailing list to patch stuff, which I wouldn't know how to do , but I guess at the time you were used to applying DIFfs using doing it like that.
[00:18:16] yeah, I think Linux still uses mailing lists. Right. And they just formalized it a bit. And this is crazy to me that you can do that.
[00:18:25]**Dries Buytaert: **That's where I learned everything from it. I was on the Linux kernel mailing list for many, many years, you know? And so I observed how Linux worked as a project and yes, they would email patches and you know, Drupal, would use CVS actually back in the day and I think at the time I forgot, but when I got involved again, I was more of a lurker, although I did contribute a little bit to Linux, but No, it was a computer science. I studied computer science and I was really passionate about low level software and still am actually. But anyway so I was really intrigued and all of that kind of stuff.
[00:18:59] And I just looked at like how Linux and Linus Torvalds were doing things. And I copied that model really. That was the starting point. Like I'm going to do things the way they're doing it because obviously they were the most successful open source project. And even throughout my open source career, emailed, back and forth with Linus , , asking for advice and you know, that kind of stuff.
[00:19:21] So he's been very helpful in a way, in terms of how to do things and, and providing some guidance.
[00:19:29] Michael Meyers: What guidance would you give open source projects, you know, that are looking to replicate what you did on the community side. You know, you said, you said, you know, a lot of it grew organically at the start, but then it really flourished and took off.
[00:19:44] Are there things that stand out to you?
[00:19:47] Dries Buytaert: Yeah, I mean, I think to, to make a controversial statements, purposely controversial, I think, and to go back to an earlier topic that we discussed. Right? So I think growing an open source project is like 80% sales and marketing. And so I say that purposely, somewhat provocative, but you know, yes, you need to build great software.
[00:20:13] Everything starts with having great software and everything stops or fails with having crappy software. So I'm not disputing the importance of great engineering work. but when I look at my history and what I've done a lot of it is what I call sales and marketing, but it's, I use the term loosely.
[00:20:35] Right. But if you think about a project lead you need to convince others to get involved. You know, that's a form of marketing and sales. Like you have to inspire people to get involved in your project. Once they get involved, you have to inspire them about the vision and where you think the project has to go.
[00:20:55] That's a form of sales and marketing. and so I think a lot of open-source projects get stuck, I think, and not necessarily in a bad way, because not every open source project needs to grow. You know, I've built a community, but I think it's not enough to just kind of throw something over the wall, if you will, or to upload something or commit something to GitHub.
[00:21:19] You know, that's not gonna lead to magically making open source project successful. Although the GitHub model actually helps you a lot compared to what we had back in the day when I started Drupal, we didn't have that kind of thing. Um yeah, things like SourceForge, but it wasn't quite the same as, as a, as GitHub.
[00:21:41] So anyway, and I think, and even like, let's say at Acquia, it's the same thing, like as a founder, or an old project leader doesn't really make a big difference. I think you're convincing employees to join your company. You have to convince them of the roadmap, the vision for the company, you have to raise money from investors, which you don't have that in open source, but you still need to raise money often to sustain your open source development.
[00:22:06] So again, you have to convince potential donors or investors, whatever you want to call that to put money in your project or your startup. Again, it's a form of sales and marketing. And so anyway, I often recommend people like learn those skills. You know, if you can like learn to be convincing, learn to be articulate about your project and the value that it provides.
[00:22:33] I think it's a good thing for any technical people to, to learn a little bit about.
[00:22:40] Michael Meyers: We're going to come back to that with part two. Oh, sorry, Fabian.
[00:22:44] Fabian Franz: Yep. That sounds really good. yeah, I in 2006 I was active in the KDE community like Linux desktop framework in that and thinking back now in retrospective, a lot of what one of my friends at the time did was, was especially organizing such conferences, et cetera.
[00:23:02] And a lot of that, as you said, was fundraising. Essentially talking with the big companies like IBM and all of those and, and trying to essentially get them to fund the conferences and all of that. So that's a really interesting perspective.
[00:23:16]Dries Buytaert: Yeah, that's a good point. Like conferences are a form of sales and marketing, convincing Kernel Trap, convincing MTV, all kind of sales and marketing related things.
[00:23:26] Fabian Franz: I had another question regarding your community. When did you first feel either the need or it organically happened, or when did it happen that you first gave out the first maintainer access? Someone else committing, like giving up the control this point?
[00:23:41] Dries Buytaert: Huh? that's a great question. I still actually look in sort of the, the history of Drupal that when that happened, but it, I can tell you how it happened.
[00:23:51] Like I would constantly encourage people to get involved. And so people would email me like, Hey, wouldn't be great if Drupal did this. And my answer would almost always be,Ah, it would be great. How do you feel about building it or implementing it? And if you do, I'll help you, that was kind of like my standard response.
[00:24:13] And that's how Matt Westgate, for example, got involved. well, we then ended up being instrumental, starting Lullabot, which is like Tag1, right. Is another sort of key Drupal company. and so the same thing happens along other kind of areas, like for example ChX ,Karolyi who I think many of us know, right.
[00:24:32] he actually approached me one day and said, you know I think we need like a security email list or something, or like a security maintainer, somebody that can help manage security issues. And I say, yeah, let's do it. And literally on the spot, I made them the head of the Drupal security team and we created the Drupal security team right there.
[00:24:55] You know what I mean? So it's like taking these moments. Where people express an interest or an idea, and then immediately converting it into ownership. And I think that's been really important for Drupal because I think it's really important in open source because when people feel like a sense of responsibility or a sense of ownership over a part of a project, they're just going to bring often. I'm generalizing, but they're going to bring more energy to that. You know, they're going to contribute more because like all of a sudden you were the head of the security team, better do a good job. You know, the stakes are higher when you like own it. And I think it kinda helps a lot.
[00:25:40] And so I would kind of appoint ownership of, you know, Modules or whatever, you know, components, we call it today along the way, but I don't know when that actually started started, you know? And the other big thing that. I, I think I did really well. at the time, like all the other CMSs, [00:26:00] they weren't really modular.
[00:26:01] I mean, it's hard to believe right now, but Drupal was sort of the first modular CMS where somebody could build a plugin or an extension or a module as we call it. and that's game changing too. Cause I knew that was just better than all of the competitors at the time. And again, that goes to the point, like you have to start with great software.
[00:26:19] That's better than competitors, right? Otherwise there's no point in marketing it, but anyway, that modular approach really created an architecture for participation. because one of the things that happens is you get all of these people that want to get involved and they contribute things that maybe you don't want.
[00:26:40] Like literally people contributed all sorts of things. I'm like, ah, I dunno, I don't want that. But instead of saying no period, I could always say no, but you can make it a module. And it can go into the contributed module repository. It will be awesome. And often it was. Right. And so it gave kind of this softer, no, no but, you go become your own module maintainer and it will be a great plugin for Drupal.
[00:27:09] And so again, that also created ownership with thousands of people, because I think we have like what 40,000 modules or something, and And so that's, that's a great thing to do for open source projects instead of being monolithic, you know, be modular and have an architecture of participation that invites others to participate and own things, whether it's part of the core, like we do it maintainers and components where we have owners for all of these, or if you do it in your you know, extension or plugin or a module repository.
[00:27:42] Fabian Franz: That's really interesting. And in essence, you, again, took a startup concept, the equity concept of people owning a part of the community providing to open source. First time I've heard about it in that context. So it was really nice to hear and very insightful. Thank you.
[00:28:00] Dries Buytaert: Oh, you're welcome.
[00:28:01] Michael Meyers: What was it like when, when Drupal became kind of more than you, you know, when you weren't sort of the. Sole decision-maker, you know, you, you brought in Gerhard for four or five and sort of like the beginning of it, the core maintainers, and, you know, you started handing over even more control, not just saying, you know, that should be a module, but like literally, you know bringing on a team of people to help you run the core of Drupal was that, you know, liberating, frustrating, both.
[00:28:30] Dries Buytaert: I was all of those. It was, it was necessary. Because it just became too much for me to do, like literally was maintaining the website, the servers, or, you know, like that run, drupal.org, I was writing most of the software, still. Most of Drupal, I was doing releases. I was doing QA and I was also having You know, day job.
[00:28:56] Like, again, I did Drupal, I didn't mention this, but the first seven years or something Drupal as a hobby project, I didn't get paid. It's, it's what I did at night on the weekends. I mean, every, every minute that I had of spare time is basically going to Drupal and as Drupal grew and grew and grew and like thousands of sites were using it and hundreds of people started to contribute. I couldn't, I couldn't scale that anymore. And so I had to get people involved. otherwise I would probably burn out or a project would suffer and fail. So I, I started scaling and it wasn't easy. It was hard to give up some of that control admittedly, in the early days now it's easy.
[00:29:36] But after you learn how to do that, and to learn to trust other people, sort of with my baby, between quotes and I and I think the way it worked is I, I would, I would give ownership or parts of the control to the people that I really trusted, and that trust was gained over years.
[00:29:56] Sometimes. You know, people that contributed for many years that have shown that they were strong technical contributors, but also I looked for sort of the soft skills too. Like I always focused on finding people that you know, kind of were even keeled and level headed, that were good communicators, that were nice, that represented. If you will, sort of the values of Drupal. You know, like it wasn't enough to be a strong technical contributor. you know it wasn't always perfect, you know, but overall that was really, my goal is to not just look at technical capability and just contribution, but also just that like how well did they contribute?
[00:30:40] And then, I also made a lot of. You know, call it bets. If you will on up-and-comers too. I always liked doing that and I still do. I, so I can have people contributing and are so passionate and I saw them learn and grow so quickly. I would kind of try to empower them to grow even faster by giving them more responsibilities or a responsibility in the Drupal project.
[00:31:04] But I had to do it because otherwise, yeah, I think Drupal would have suffered from From, you know, like things would go too slow. And I could tell because people would get more and more frustrated with me. Like they would submit or email I forgot a patch. And it would sit there for weeks because I didn't get to it.
[00:31:21] And people started like sending reminders and like started complaining and it was just a sign for me, like, all right, I get it. Like, I need to, like, we need to create more capacity to process these things.
[00:31:35] Michael Meyers: I think, you know, one of the things that we see a lot with open source contributors is, you know is burnout.
[00:31:43] You know, whether you become a victim of your own success or, you know, you're just so passionate about something you get so involved and everybody's hitting you up for changes. And you know, a lot of people. I don't want to say crash and burn, but need to take breaks from time to time and, you know, altogether just leave the project because they get so burned out.
[00:32:03] You know, you've done this for 20 years. How on earth have you managed that?
[00:32:10] Dries Buytaert: Yeah. Well, I hadn't like a burnout once. I would say, I don't think if spoken about that publicly, but at the time I was finishing my PhD. Which had nothing to do with Drupal. I know it was a few months from getting married and we were also trying to finish, I forgot what it was, maybe a Drupal 4.7 or something, which was a major release.
[00:32:35] And it was just too much. I was too much stress. And you know, like I was, I had anxiety and like burnout feelings and I decided to take a break and I took a one month break. And I communicated that on my blog, but I didn't say that had a burnout or that like I was to add too much stress. I'm not sure I fully recognize those feelings either at the time, but I'll still didn't feel comfortable being so public about it.
[00:33:04] And by the way, this was, I'm going to say I don't, I don't even know, like 15 years ago. So yeah. So, you know, early on, let's say in Drupal So I definitely had that and I learned a lot about myself and I do believe humans learn how to push their limits. And unfortunately, sometimes you have to go in the red too much to learn what your limit is, you know?
[00:33:35] And that's what happened to me. Like, I, I. Pushed myself too much. And I just like, like physically I had issues because of that. And but I also know that over time, my limit has kind of increased for, you know, rightly or wrongly. Like, I feel like I'm able to cope with more and more and deal with stress better and better.
[00:33:56] and also I think, and this may be controversial. I don't know, but I also feel like maybe it is Privileged statement, but I think often burnouts it's also, self-induced not saying it's always the case and again, that's why maybe it's very privileged to say, but I think it's often people that are so ambitious that put so much, you know, that put their own bar so high, you know, like they do it to themselves in a way because they want to be so good at what they do. And I think learning how to manage that for yourself, I think is so important. I understand not everybody has the luxury where they can maybe not give 200% all the time. but you know, I think burnouts happens when you push yourself too, too much. I mean, it's one of the reasons why it happens and it's a reason that's one of the scenarios that you can control.
[00:34:56] So I'll always have to learn how to to that. And I think a big problem is how we were taught and raised, I think, or how the school system works because you go to school, you get homework and the expectation is you've complete your homework. You do everything on your to-do list. But as you get into the real world, whether it's the work or open source, the to-do list becomes bigger and bigger and bigger.
[00:35:24] And our instincts because of our education, I believe are to complete everything on a to do list. And that's what actually causes often the burnout, in my opinion, versus saying. And that's what I do now that I've learned the hard way is to say, I'm just going to focus on the most important things on my to-do list.
[00:35:46] And it's okay. If there's hundreds of other items, on my to-do list and there are, I can tell you it's okay. If those things don't get done, I don't care. I like learning, not to care about those things. It's hard and learning how to delegate them, obviously, too. I was never taught that. And unfortunately, I think too many people have to learn that the hard way. It's like, you ha like you're so disciplined about trying to get everything done on your to-do list, that it actually breaks you, you know?
[00:36:17] And then you have to make this mental switch, like, you know what, I'm not going to do everything on my to-do list. I'm only going to do what's most important and that I can control in the available time that I have. And it's really, I got anxiety. Of not doing everything on my to-do list, you know?
[00:36:36] Fabian Franz: Yeah, definitely.
[00:36:38] I think another point you pointed to that earlier of a burnout is from expectations. Essentially. You see, for example of one open source project being completely going off the ground like a rocket and you expect every project and your own also to need to behave like that. And so you're saying you put like this wrong expectations and as you've already alluded to earlier, the solution for that is to have a compounding mindset, to know that everything is compounding and things start to grow really, really slowly at the start, et cetera.
[00:37:14] And that therefore it's okay to not get everything finished and, and, and have every release perfect or whatever like that, because it will take years anyway. So there's, there's a time effect on your side.
[00:37:27] Dries Buytaert: I think that's well said. I agree with that. Yeah. And it's something we have to learn for ourselves.
[00:37:32] Right. And I think everybody can adopt that mindset.
[00:37:38] Michael Meyers: I really appreciate you candidly sharing that. And I think a lot of people will, will learn from that. and I think your capacity has grown insanely, you know, like most people couldn't, run a, a project object size of Drupal. Most people couldn't grow a startup to a billion dollar enterprise.
[00:37:56] And I can't think of many people that could do both in the same time. I mean, you know.
[00:38:01] **Dries Buytaert:**for the longest time Michael, I was actually. Focused on at this notion in my head, like, how do I double my capacity every six months? And that was like a goal for myself, like a, it's like a way of approaching what I was doing.
[00:38:15] Like how do I double my capacity every six months? You know, because, and that could be by delegating or by, you know, raising money and hire people. Like, I really. Like again, maybe goes back to the compounding notion, but like kind of have to keep growing. and when you're, you know, when you're small, you're one person and it's very different to double your capacity than when you're large, you know, it becomes harder and different, but I think maybe taking that lens on your life or , if you, if you're interested in that notion, like how do you double your own capacity?
[00:38:54] What would you do? It's a good question to ask and then create an action plan for then try and execute it. I'm not saying it's easy, but it's so useful. Its a useful thought process at least.
[00:39:08] Michael Meyers: I think everybody could use more time and, and you know, my to-do list never ends. We really, really appreciate you joining us Dries. To our listeners, make sure you stick around and check out part two of this conversation. We're going to talk about financially supporting your open source development work. The links that we mentioned today will be posted in the show notes. If you like this talk, please remember to upvote, subscribe and share it with your friends.
[00:39:34] Be sure to check out past episodes of ourTag1 Team Talks at tag1.com/tagteamtalks. And as always, we would love your input and feedback on this show and topics suggestions for the future. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, Dries a huge, thank you, Kevin. Fabian. Really appreciate you joining us.
[00:39:55] We'll see you soon.