This week on the Boagworld Show we are joined Molly Holzschlag to talk about her amazing career and rollercoaster journey.
We are also sponsored by FreeAgent, accounting software for small businesses and freelancers, recommended by 99.5% of its users, including me.
Paul: Hello and welcome to Boagworld.com, the podcast for all those involved in designing and developing and running websites on a daily basis. My name is Paul Boag and joining me as always is Marcus Lillington. Hello Marcus.
Marcus: That’s very formal today – full names, Paul Boag.
Paul: Is it? I hadn’t noticed. It’s just the way I am rolling today. But far more exciting than Marcus—no offence Marcus—is the fact that we have been joined by Molly Holzschlag. Hello Molly!
Molly: Hey you guys, I love it, the professionalism. Don’t expect it from me.
Paul: It will last all of five minutes.
Molly: Let’s casual it out and relax. It’s great to be here, so good to hear your voices Marcus and Paul.
Paul: It’s been a long time. We were just saying weren’t we that it was something like 2009 when it was the last time you were on the show.
Molly: Yes it was live, in London.
Paul: Wow. That’s an eternity ago. We are all getting so old aren’t we, that’s the trouble. Obviously not you Molly. You are getting younger every day, that’s what I’ve heard.
Molly: Is the way that it looks to me. The numbers of the age might be old but I am reverse ageing, definitely.
Paul: There may well be some people listening to the show that don’t know or haven’t come across Molly before so I just wanted to quickly share with you guys a little bit about Molly and her background. She is an incredibly prolific author and speaker, for years and years and years you were everywhere weren’t you Molly. You couldn’t swing a cat without hitting Molly.
Molly: That means you will also everywhere. Because if you saw me there either one of us could have swung a cat.
Paul: You have a good point there, I hadn’t thought that through. So the other thing of course that you are very well known for Molly, was your involvement with the web standards movement. You were one of the linchpins of that stop so basically guys if you’re listening to this and you are sitting there moaning about developing across browsers, if it wasn’t for Molly it would be considerably worse. These young people today, they don’t know how good they’ve got it, do they Molly?
Molly: They have their own sets of challenges.
Paul: Oh you are so nice.
Molly: We were definitely of a different era. We had to do very crazy things to make things work, they don’t. So in that regard that’s absolutely true.
Paul: They’ve got it easy. I can stick with that. Even if you are nice, I’ve got no such concerns. You notice that with all of this guys, I’ve been talking in the past tense with Molly, in the fact that she was a prolific author and she was a prolific Speaker and she was a huge influence on the web standards movement. That’s because Molly, how long has it been Nelson she discovered quite how ill you were?
Molly: Well let’s see, it would have been July 15th of 2013. So it’s 2 ½ years nearly 3.
Paul: So can you tell us very briefly what happened? What led to all of this and what exactly has been wrong?
Molly: Well, I don’t think I can briefly talk about that to be honest.
Paul: You have had some kind of cascading effects of illnesses really.
Molly: That’s it exactly. It began very early on in my life, in my teens and there were just years and years of misdiagnoses and wrong diagnoses, things of that nature. And I think that over time I gave up. I didn’t take as good care of myself as I could have with all things considered and eventually with time and running the way we do in this industry, I think I was pretending to be a H Ref. If you clicked on my anchor, I would be immediately hypertext.
Paul: That is the worst joke I have ever heard Molly.
Molly: It’s an analogy, it’s a metaphor.
Paul: Oh it’s a terrible metaphor then.
Marcus: Play nice Paul, come on.
Molly: No he’s allowed to be as mean as he wants. He just has to get as good as he gives.
Paul: Exactly. I know how these things work. If you call me goofy before the show starts, then I get you back.
Molly: Yes I did., That’s where all this has come from. So to put that into a collective thing, there had just been a real down take in my entire everything, my entire well-being be it mental, physical, behavioural. Any aspect of Molly really was in trouble there for a while and on July 15 of 2013 I was on my way home from Open Web Camp at the time. That’s now either gone for good or going to transition into a different kind of event, but it ran for six years. A free wonderful event which started over at Opera and then John Foliot got involved and it was really quite a cool event for a long time. Anyway I was on my way home from that and in LAX – Los Angeles airport and suddenly just collapsed on the floor. I was feeling tired and I had had some other symptoms but I didn’t really consider it anything other than just exhaustion, from having run around.
Paul: So of course you just ignored exhaustion. Let’s just push through the exhaustion!
Molly: That’s exactly the point, that’s a very good point for everyone. At that point I wasn’t just burnt out, I was 10 years beyond burnt out and into a process that I didn’t even realise was occurring in me medically. So when I fell, I fell. And I did not get backup. I’m just getting back up now. I think this way is easier to refer to those things as past because in a lot of ways my identity in a 2 ½ years and going through such a profound shakeup in every conceivable way in my life, but I am very much reinvented although my basic nature is still my basic nature.
Paul: You still sound like you Molly, I have to say.
Molly: It’s still me, but that’s actually a very good thing because for a very long time I really wasn’t very much here. That I’m getting all that back is quite an amazing experience, to be on the upswing. It’s a scary as hell because when you are down—I don’t know if other people have experienced this— when you are down it’s like you always expected to be that way. And then when things start to get better, you get nervous. Things are getting better but I don’t want to jinx it! And you begin to get really concerned about what’s next. When is the other shoe going to drop? So I am dealing with a lot of that and transitioning right now but it’s been a journey of great magnitude and also amazingly good things have come from it as well.
Marcus: It’s good that some good has come out of it because going back to when you are saying about when you are down it always seems as though it’s going to be that way, you’re now in a better place but also that something good has come out of it. I am really lucky I haven’t suffered from a health point of view but we have suffered from a business point of view a year or so ago and I feel exactly the same way about the business. We are on the way back up but I keep waiting for it to fall over.
Molly: Exactly, I think we have these types of experiences globally. It’s being human. And that struggle to constantly self-examine, and sometimes we’re not even in the place where we can do that as we are so frustrated or upset or burnt out or exhausted of physically impaired or emotionally messed up or whatever is going on in the complexity of our lives – family, home, economics, all of these factors, it becomes a little bit of ‘what next straw will break the camel’s back?’ I think we all have to be very careful especially because we don’t have that remarkable reverse ageing magic yet.
Paul: No, not yet.
Marcus: We going to miss it aren’t we? It’s not going to happen in our time.
Molly: No it’s not going to happen quite in our lifetime. Maybe our kids or their kids, I don’t know.
Paul: And that is really why we got you on the show. Not the reverse ageing thing, but because I wanted to get you one and talk about how to deal with those unexpected lips in our career. Because your career is almost a before and after story and will become that now. There was this huge chunk of time where just everything went out of the window and you had to stop, because you did stop entirely?
Molly: Yes. I was completely incapable of speaking. I was in treatments and I was undergoing chemotherapy and it was a very serious situation basically. Just so people know, I have a medical condition – I am sick with something called Pancytopenia, most people might recognise that is something also called Aplastic Anaemia, there are also other similar names around the world for it. But it’s basically when the bone marrow stops producing all three types of blood cells and this can occur for a number of very different reasons, for example Mme Curie died of that. So I am not the first female scientist in the world to ever have this condition. But in her case unfortunately it was directly related to the exposure of radium that she discovered. In my case, not probably that.
Paul: Have you been playing with radium? Is that what’s going on here?
Molly: I have to be honest and tell you I have been in some interesting places. I have done work for the Department of energy and a variety of national labs here in the US. And I wonder sometimes whether if my immune system was already compromised would that have done anything? But nobody knows and that really is no answering that question. But it is a curiosity because it is as you are saying, it’s a cascade of things ultimately ending up in that. Nevertheless its ongoing and it’s lifelong and they just start using medicine to extend my life. It’s a very rare illness.
Paul: Wow. But from what I’ve been seeing recently on Facebook et cetera you seem to actually have normal blood cells now? For the first time in two years?
Molly: Yes. This isn’t expected to stay that way, at least of the platelets. That was right after having a transfusion of them as it was a prophylaxis for some dental surgery that I needed. I couldn’t talk for seven hours so I bet most of the world was rejoicing!
Paul: Wow. I honestly can’t imagine such a scenario Molly.
Molly: It was hilarious. Anyway we’re making up for that now.
Paul: So we’ve established Molly’s background, the huge influence the Molly hat and we talked a little bit about her illness. What we really want to get into is that journey that she’s been on and to just understand and look at the bumps that people have in their career and whether we let those hold us back.
But before we get into that I do just want to do my sponsor otherwise I will get in trouble. And to be honest it’s an easy one this week because I absolutely love these guys. I use their product every day and it’s called Proposify. They are back as a sponsor and I’m over the moon because I really do use them all the time and as actually using them today. So essentially what Proposify is, is that it allows you to create proposals and to do so in a really easy simple way. They reckon that it saves you a couple of hours’ fees proposal you create, compare to something like word, InDesign, or Google Docs for that matter. That feels about right I have to say. It’s just so incredibly straightforward.
They’ve got four sponsor slots with us and I want to look at several different features. They pretty much let me to my own devices in terms of what we talk about. This week I would talk about the stats because that’s for me is the thing that makes you want to move to Proposify over using a word doc or anything else because if you create a proposal in Proposify and you send it to the client you will know a whole load of stuff. Because you know what it’s like, you send of a proposal and there was just silence and you have no idea what is going on – has the client look to the email? Have they looked at the proposal? With Proposify you will know all of that. You will know when the client opens the proposal email that you send them, when they visit the proposal online, how long they have read it for – if they’ve just opened it and gone over I’ll come back to that later, if they are reading it now – you know if they are actively interacting with your proposal there and then, what sections they are looking at if they are, a complete timeline of all the interactions that they have had with the proposal, what parts of the proposal are working best, so if you reuse sections from one proposal to another you can see whether people are spending longer in one section than another. The number of times people have viewed the proposals, so they have showed it to other people and they come back to it a lot, and how many proposals you have won or lost. See you get so much information to make your proposals better, but also to know whether that client has looked at yet on whether they need chasing.
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A discussion with Molly
Paul: So they you go, right. Molly. Let’s get back to you.
Molly: Back to me? Oh well, we were just asking about that transition point of what we should be really thinking about in our lives to perhaps may be avoided this kind of thing that happened to me if at all possible.
Paul: Yes. Let’s start with that. It’s really hard to know how to word this, but I will word it in the blunt way. Molly, was any of this your fault? Do you know what I mean?
Molly: Yes of course I know what you mean.
Paul: With hindsight, looking back, you made yourself more ill because of the lifestyle that you lead from the really busy work point of view and being all over the place?
Molly: Without question.
Molly: First of all, a couple of things happen when you have 2 ½ years to gaze at your navel. For a lot of that I didn’t have the brainpower to really work it through but then as I began coming out of that there was a lot of real heavy duty self-analysis that goes in there. Especially if you are being very deeply truthful with yourself and looking at it that’s where you begin to say okay, this is where I bear responsibility and this is where things happened. To take all the responsibility is ridiculous and to blame it all on something else is also not accurate. I definitely could have made much healthier choices along the way. Will that have ultimately saved me? I don’t know. Because I’m coming out of it either way and getting a good result. But did I have to suffer as badly? Did I have to lose so much go through such a nightmare and being away from this industry for 2 ½ years? My God, coming back to that, if you want to pick it up after you have to be away for a time, it changes.
Everything is the same and everything is not the same. It is amazing. That in itself has been a challenge to me and have found myself having to adapt my own skill set because I no longer have the same capacity that I used to have. If you remember from my talks but one thing that always blew my mind because I can’t remember names and dates and things like that, but boy did I have history. I could tick off which day of which spec of which element. I have this bizarre amount of trivia in my brain and I have no hold on that anymore. It’s just gone.
And as part of ageing as well. This is one of the jokes that we used to have many, many years ago before the web. I was actually involved in GEnie’s online network and one of the things that they were doing – back in the Prodigy and CompuServe and BBS days.
Paul: Believe it or not that was even before my time Molly, and I’m pretty well established.
Molly: Yes it’s old. I think I am older so there you go.
Paul: You’re even older than I am.
Molly: Exactly. So does that feel better?
Molly: At that time I was doing some stuff with GEnie about accessibility and managing some roundtables on disabilities. We had to live chats, we had forums and bulletin boards of the text based variety and it was pretty cool. I made some good friends there that have persisted to this day. One of the things that was popular in the accessibility world was to use this term called ‘TAB’ or Temporarily Able Bodied. So the rest of the world who is not suffering from any kind of ‘disability’is a TAB – a Temporarily Able Bodied person.
Paul: I love it. Because the truth is, we will all cease to be able-bodied at sooner or later. Marcus is a great example of this because he’s reached a point in his life where he has had to start wearing reading glasses.
Marcus: Oh I see, yes.
Molly: Excellent example.
Marcus: Absolutely. I’m completely blind now.
Paul: And also, if you break an arm you are temporarily disabled at that point.
Molly: Absolutely. Whether it’s a day or a week or a year for the rest of your life. That perspective really gave me a spin on life because I had already been seeking out information because I was struggling with medical and other problems. So that was my early introduction which is why I think I retained an interest in accessibility all the way through my web career and everything. But it really shaped a lot of the perspective that I have and it was reinforced in this self-analysis of what it was that I had that was able what I had that was a dis. And the dis were the external things and the able were things that I could make a difference. And I began to write lists as some people do. I always work through things with the list, whether it’s intellectual or personal. So I made lists about what could I control, what could I have done better, what do I need to take responsibility for and own up to in my own psychology in order to be a healthier person with a better outlook versus what are the things are that I don’t really have control over and how will I emotionally deal with those?
Of course it’s an iterative process but to even have to get that point I think that exercise should be started very early in a person’s life. Not well into their 50s.
Paul: And not until they get seriously ill.
Molly: Exactly. I don’t know why we don’t have this in education but they don’t teach us a lot about pragmatic living. What to do when stuff goes wrong. We don’t get a lot of that and I saw somewhere that Eric Meyer is doing Design for Crisis.
Paul: Oh is he?
Molly: Yes but don’t quote me on it. But I saw it was related obviously to their work at An Event Apart so follow that thread because I do think he is addressing some of those in a very practical way. Like, here are some linear things to do to approach that. It might be very helpful for people but I haven’t really looked deep into it, but clearly there is an experience of profound proportion there as well, inspiring that kind of work. I think that’s part of what’s also going on, you guys, Paul, Marcus, we are all joking about having to get the reading glasses and being older but the reality is that with age, we are also faced with more challenges in our lives, if not in our own selves, in our loved ones or parents, in our ageing friends and relatives. So I think to make life a little easier on us all, we probably should start encouraging each other very early on in our teens or early 20s or even earlier if it makes any sense to do so via parent to child because kids are especially so adept at the sort of things and we are not. We get so stuck. I don’t want to stop that behaviour; I don’t want to give that up. Or, I say yes to everything because I don’t want to disappoint anybody. Or I say yes to do many things because you never know which one is going to be that magical perfect event.
Marcus: I recognise those.
Paul: So was that what you were doing do you think? Do you think you just said yes to many things?
Molly: Oh yes. Absolutely. I suggest everything and I also never paid attention to the money and that’s also part of my way of being because I am of the thinking ‘let’s get rid of that whole model because that’s failed us pretty abysmally’. That’s not exactly realistic in the world. It might be great as an ideology but it’s not the reality of the world, and that was a hard lesson to learn. But I think it’s also having confidence. I didn’t know what I was worth. A lot of times people either overvalue themselves, or most people actually gravely undervalue themselves. And I think when we do these meet ups and we do these open camps and various get-togethers and discussions, I think this type of thing should really start being in the discourse a lot more. How do we care for ourselves? We really don’t have these things set up. We do have no union. And I mean that literally as well as in the sense of a really organised community that has health and well-being. When certain professions get to that level they have those types of organisations. We have nothing like that.
Paul: But, you say that and I totally and utterly agree with you, but in your personal experience, partly because of this huge impact that you had on the web this so long, the web community was incredibly supportive for your illness or they appeared to be from the outside.
Molly: Beyond belief. Beyond belief, yes.
Paul: Because you had all kinds of problems with your medical insurance, financially you were in an incredibly difficult position and there was a lot of supportive sentiments from the community. To a degree there is that kind of thing happening on an informal basis but what I am quite interested in is wide you think that is? It’s more than just an industry, do you know what I mean?
Molly: Yes. There is a tribal sense, a sense of when you meet somebody no matter where they are from what their belief systems are or how different they might be from you, if you share a love of the web and the things you know it can do for humanity and for daily life as well as the big stuff, it’s a passionate, passionate thing I think and that’s the differentiating factor. It makes it more akin to the creative passions like the arts and humanities, whereas it’s really a very broad spectrum from full on hard-core science and math all the way to the most outlandish creativity that you can imagine. It really is a reflection of what we are as individuals and I’ve always seen the web that way, that the web is the macrocosm to our microcosm. It’s the reflection at the larger macro level of what we ourselves are as an embodiment of our humanity. There is bad and there’s a good and everything in between.
Paul: Oh I am sitting here Molly, grinning from ear to ear, listening to you talk again because it’s been so long since we’ve heard your contributions and thoughts about the web. The thing that immediately springs to mind, listening to you talk is are we going to see more view again? As your health is beginning to improve do you see yourself being able to get back involved in things and what kind of limitations are going to set on yourself now that you’ve learnt what you’ve learnt? And what are you going to get involved with?
That’s a really bad interview question – there’s about 10 questions in there on there?
Molly: It sounded pretty easy to me there. Basically you asked what’s next?
Paul: Yes. What’s next? See? You are better at this than I am.
Marcus: Interview yourself now Molly.
Molly: I do that all the time. You just heard me saying that I make all these lists. I get so tired of my invoice. But what’s next? I don’t know if you know this but in December I picked up a short-term contract with the University of Phoenix, a for-profit university which is actually highly successful. They are only adults working education. You have to be working a full-time job and it’s all about improving your lot. It’s about going to school for a specific reason for specific goals so I just rewrote the curriculum for their advanced web development course, so that was the first formal job that I have taken on. That went very well and they were pleased and I’m pleased that somebody is now teaching that course. Then I also picked up a contract with the W3C for six months here. That started in January and I’m helping out with some communications issues in the comms department there, working to basically improve power perceived and maybe start begin to propose extensions and programs for a variety of folks. Not just membership, but developer programs and consumer programmes and programs for kids and all kinds of things. Obviously these would just be proposals, I am just a person with some ideas but we’ll see how they pan out and of course the more support that I can get from the developers and everybody – all the web makers and web lovers of the world, the better that might go. So hopefully we will see more services and more value for a greater variety of people coming out of W3C. Much more accessible. And that’s already something that’s been started and yet because they are so limited in funding and they are so pressed for hands because of those limitations I think that a lot of things that should get attention get missed. And it’s really an unfortunate situation that isn’t anyone’s fault but I think we can add a little life and community there and I would like to see that happen.
So those are my goals there, that’s what’s next for me and with that comes a little bit of travel. I don’t know really if beyond that six months if I continue with the W3C in any capacity, obviously travel is going to be important because you can’t really be in that organisation – that’s not to say they wouldn’t make any accommodation for anyone who is homebound or that nature, so long as they did the work and could attend the meetings online but aside from pushing further accommodations, the reality is the full experience of being a W3C is in fact to travel around the world and meet with the diversity of ideas, cultures, peoples who are building the world and the wide and the web, not just the web. We often forget, we understand that it’s the world but were not so good with it and we really don’t understand the wide part about it at all. The web we’re kind of starting to understand.
Paul: So how are you going to stop yourself, as your health gets better and better, which we hope and pray it will, how are you going to stop yourself falling back into the same habits as before? Do you think this has been such a wake-up call that that’s not going to happen? Or have you thought about that?
Molly: First of all, I know this. Human beings, when the pain stops, we forget the pain. Think about the most pain you’ve ever suffered.
Paul: I always think about childbirth, not that I’ve ever suffered childbirth.
Molly: Wow! You did that Paul? I’m so impressed.
Paul: I know. But it amazes me why anyone has more than one child. The first time you could say you didn’t know what you are getting yourself into but why anybody would put themselves through that twice, it is because people forget.
Molly: I think it’s a built-in survival thing or thriving thing. You can’t move forward if you don’t forget a certain amount of that pain, emotional or physical. There is a lot to be said, from having a pair of rose coloured glasses and being an owner of them. In other words, knowing when to put them on and when to take them off. So I utilise that methodology. I think travel is a big part of what’s to come for me. If I can do it. I want to test that I really do because as parts of this world that I have yet to see, and it drives me absolutely bonkers being on a planet and not having seen certain peoples and nations of this world. I am ever curious, so I am really hoping that that is in the agenda and my ability to do that becomes easier with time, but I do have to say it is brutal to try and travel the way I did was long as I did living out of a suitcase and not being home to 6 months. Now, how my going to limit it? I got really smart. I got married.
Paul: Of course you did. Congratulations by the way, as I haven’t spoken to since then.
Molly: That right there changed it. If I do start stepping over. I have a wonderful man there, saying no, don’t do it Molly. I love you, but this is not healthy, so please listen.
Paul: That is a bit of an extreme reason to get married, just so that you got someone to tell you to stop.
Molly: I needed that. Somebody to tell me to stop.
Paul: You’ll find that makes an enormous difference. My wife stops me from doing all the things I want to do all the time.
Molly: I am sure she does. Of course. I didn’t realise this because I didn’t get married until I was in my 50s. I never imagined that I would do well in that kind of a relationship, but as it turns out I am very, very happy. I’m in a situation where I am with an equal. He is strong. I will walk right over people if they let me. It’s the truth.
Paul: I’ve got those tendencies as well Molly so don’t worry.
Molly: I don’t mean it with malice, I do it without thinking.
Paul: It’s oblivious isn’t it.
Molly: Is not like I’m going to walk purposely overview because I have an agenda to get above you, is nothing like that. It’s just that I can be reckless with people because I am to self-absorbed or absorbed in what’s next.
Paul: This isn’t on the questions that we discussed, although I’ve pretty much thrown them out ages ago because you just go off on one. But you raised an interesting thing earlier, which is that you raised the fact that we as a community, we don’t have anything like a union or a professional body that is promoting and encouraging good behaviour and responsible behaviour in our industry and I increasingly look at some of the working practices, especially in places like Silicon Valley and it scares me. It scares me what our employers are doing to us and what we do to ourselves as well. Do you think a professional body is the answer to that and how does something like that even start? I honestly don’t know what the solution is to that kind of thing. I wondered what your opinion was.
Molly: Well there have been efforts to do this before. One of the ones most known in the United States was the World Organisation of Webmasters, which is still around. I think it is joinwow.org and that organisation was pretty strong for a while and I did some work for them and a couple of people like Aaron Gustafson and Andy Clarke at one point and just different people have come through and helped them out. But I don’t think that organisation really ever, it ended up getting a very good educational grant I don’t think it was all that well-managed. Maybe the right people went in the right jobs there? I can see how the infrastructure was started and that was the part that I became familiar with. So that was really interesting and an experience to see how those things do emerge. In my opinion, that particular project was focused too much on certification. They wanted to create certification. Now what’s really, really interesting is that the W3C is beginning to do this through its programs and the model currently is that it’s free unless you want the actual certification. You take the class for free and then if you want the certificate you pay for the certificate once you’ve passed the class. So that way the education is right now, that’s the model we’re looking at. We are looking at a number of things but it’s growing. We have a HTML course, HTML 5 and the CSS course going on and some other courses being developed so hopefully that will really turn into something of great merit because I know at least in Australia, generally are limited to what you can do if you don’t have certifications. And this is going to open up a good way, the great and powerful way of more job availability for skilled workers. So I think that’s really important.
In a sense I think that’s something the W3C didn’t want to do for a very long time but I’m glad that they are starting to put their toes into that water because they really are the best organisation to do it. It’s home to the specs so as long as the instructors are good instructors, then you are in good shape. So I think that’s really are beginning there and I think it’s a very grass roots thing, sort of what we did with the web standards project. It really has to emerge from the people. Unions, typically speaking, are organised by the workers. So it’s not like something comes along and does it for us. We sit down and decide, okay we’re going to organise. These are some of the things we’re going to start looking at – we’re going to look at ethics, where our ethics are as a professional organisation. Whatever those issues are. And there are many great examples out there that can do this. I can also see a benefit of purchase power for individuals who are wanting to buy software and services and all of that. We can get incredible discounts with bulk buying. Then that can also extend to medical insurance where it’s needed or internships or a charitable fund, God forbid somebody should end up in a situation like I just did. I can’t even begin to start talking about how grateful I am and that I honestly believe that the magic piece of my being here at all is absolutely the love and support and the wonderful uplifted thoughts of all the people. I don’t even know how to begin to emotionally broach that without breaking apart and crying and sobbing. It’s just that overwhelming. Just wrap that up it also inspires me to want to give it back to somebody else and make sure that that carries forward and forward and forward so no one is ever left in that darkness.
Paul: I’ve got to say you are rights when you say this has almost got to be like the next web standards movement. It’s got to be about grassroots of people stepping up and saying let’s make this happen. I haven’t even thought about some of the things that you’ve talked about and that you listed there in terms of things that an association or union could do. But yes you’re right, there are some amazing opportunities there and that really excites me.
We’re just running a little bit out of time but there was one last question that I really want to get on if that’s okay. One of the things that’s always impressed me about you Molly, all through the years, is how incredibly open you’ve been, through your own blog and social media and various other places about your mental health issues and physical health issues. You’re very, very open. You almost never hold anything back and I know that there are a lot of people that are very afraid of being that open with the web community and there is so much talk about trolling and abuse and that kind of stuff. What are your feelings about that kind of thing? Do you regret being as open as you were? Would you encourage other people to be? What are your thoughts on that?
Molly: I think it’s an intensely personal choice and it changes at different times and it’s also contextual. Throughout the majority of my life there was no one to protect, I was not a mother, I was not a wife – I was an independent operator. So I walked through the world making my own choices and not having too much of an upheaval of immediate people in my own life, as it would have had if I had my own family or children at home. So right there is an incredibly big divide between just the circumstances I found myself in verses most other women of my generation and age group of the time. So because also of my medical condition I was just unable to make that happen. Instead I poured myself into the experiment. I don’t know how not to be that way.
Paul: I have the same problem.
Molly: Yes, how’d you not know how to be Paul? How do you not know how to be Marcus? How do not know how to be who you are? I have always been this way – my family makes fun of me this way as I am the most extrovert person. My youngest brother is extroverted but I am mostly in a family of very brilliant introverts. I am incredibly outgoing and I have been accused by my own mother, why is that? Why is so needy? But it’s the other way around. I do need, I need the discourse. For some people it takes a village, for me it’s the whole world. So what? As long as I’m giving back it’s great.
So I think for me obviously there is more to protect now, so I don’t know if I am as open as I used to be. I don’t regret it. Not for a minute. I have remorse over certain actions that I have done, I have remorse over actions that were done to me with the trolling, there have been some horrible things that have gone on in many directions and I think again, it cannot be something I would advise anyone to undertake if it weren’t in their nature to do so.
Paul: Yes you are totally right. It is completely personal but I was just kind of interested as to your attitude towards it. It’s fascinating to hear.
Molly it’s been an absolute pleasure. There was so much more I want to talk to you about but I think we will have to leave it there and get you back on the show again in the future to talk some more.
Molly: Well next time maybe we can make it face-to-face and it will be more fun?
Paul: Yes! In a pub preferably.
Marcus: Sounds good to me.
Molly: It sounds good, in a proper English pub on a rainy, misty evening.
Paul: Open fire roaring… I am sold.
Molly: I like it. It’s in ink my dears. Thank you so much Marcus, thank you Paul for this wonderful opportunity and I am so happy to be back with you all. Thank you so much and thank you all your listeners and everybody for all the support and help and love. I don’t know what else to say. Thank you.
Paul: Thank you for making the modern web. That’s the truth of it to a large degree Molly, you’ve had a huge impact. I don’t think a lot of the younger people will necessarily as be as aware of the huge impact you’ve had, but it’s enormous.
Paul: Somehow I have to transition from that into a sponsor. It’s not easy to do but I’m going to do it. I’m just going to talk about Freeagent very quickly before we wrap up the show.
I’m not the best at managing my accounts. Like Molly was saying earlier, she’s not the best managing her own money either and I think we are maybe cut from the same mould in some ways. I tend to mess up all the time when it comes to accounts, only this week I managed to double invoice the client – that’s how incredible I am. I can send the same invoice to the same client twice. So I am grateful that I have Freeagent.
Marcus: That’s better than not sending it at all though Paul.
Paul: That’s true, very true. But that’s what makes Freeagent so great. They have really good support for people like me. You can ring them really easily and talk to human beings on the phone which is blissful. You don’t get that from many web apps these days, you have to get tickets. But you can pick up the phone and ring them which I love. You can email them as well which is really great and they are so good. People really know their stuff at the end of the phone and you are not put through to some call centre offshore somewhere that have a list of frequently asked questions that they can answer and that’s about it. No, these guys really know their stuff. They are really fast getting back to you and have a really good extensive knowledge base, including detailed video tutorials about how to do absolutely everything. Because there are some things you only do once a year in Freeagent because it’s accounting related and so just being able to go to a video and watch it and it take you through step-by-step is great.
They have a 30 minute to get started webinar see you can get a live webinar, if you’re talking about giving it a go so you don’t need to learn it all from scratch. That will take you through the interface and explain it all. They will even do a 20-minute free call when you can get your questions answered in your trial period to get you up and running. Or you can just do what I have ended up doing after screwing up so many times, they do Freeagent approved accountants so you can get an accountant who is an expert in Freeagent. So that’s what I’ve done in the end and they do all the complicated stuff for me now. So check them out. Their support is amazing and you can find out more about them at Boagworld.com/freeagent and you can get your 14 day free trial and that 20 minute intro call as well to get help and advice from them.
So, that is Freeagent. Marcus, it could have been worse, it could have been transitioning from Molly’s illness into your stupid joke. That would have been even worse than having a sponsor really.
Marcus: Much more. Especially considering how bad it is this week.
Paul: Oh is it a really bad one?
Marcus: It’s a proper dad joke.
How do you think the unthinkable? With an ithberg.
Transcriber edit: Geez, how do you spell something like that?!
Paul: I don’t even get that.
Molly: I don’t get that.
Paul: How can you think the unthinkable?
Molly: Oh how can you sink the unsinkable…
Marcus: With an iceberg.
Paul: Oh I got there in the end. That’s awful. I want to vote that the worst joke you have ever told on the podcast. And can you imagine? That’s hundreds and hundreds of terrible jokes. That’s how bad it was.
Marcus: I set it up as bad.
Paul: It’s not like you didn’t warn us. We knew what we were getting into.
So that’s it for this week. Hopefully next week we will be joined by Cameron Moll after our previous false start with him. And he’s going to be joining us to talk about his passion for craftsmanship and his unique business model that enables him to do all these cool projects on the side. So I am going to be pushing him a little bit as to how that works and how he operates. So that’s next week, but for now just a massive thanks to Molly.
Molly: Thank you so much.
Paul: And thank you everyone for listening. Talk to you again next week.