The interview with founder of Glivera-team
Andrey Boyko, the Founder in Glivera-team.
Andrey slices, animates, studies, and teaches. During his career, he has successfully completed more than 1500 projects.
How did you get to IT and what was the beginning of your career?
Well, the story started while I have been working for about 7 years in the state structure, Kharkiv city information centre, I was working with Geoinformation systems (GIS), and my wife has also been working there but in IT department. One day she decided to create her own company and she needed layout designers. That time I was 28 years old. I set myself the goal and for a half of the year I sifted through all the Habr up and down (habr.com), it was somewhere between 2007 and 2008. As a result, I was doing projects for my wife’s company and, at the same time, I decided to freelance. For that time I’ve already had enough working experience in the “system” and I just wanted to work in such a format.
“My life hack for the beginners – to offer a client to do a job at half price or even for free, so you can get the necessary experience”
How did you find the clients in 2007?
I have always found and still find the clients through personal communication. In the beginning, I was using maximal mailing campaign and after while the word mouth slowly began to work. My life hack for the beginners – to offer a client to do a job at half price or even for free, so you can get the necessary experience, client, and you can complete your portfolio with real projects. In fact, you work for feedback, but it gives the possibility to get the first real project. I’ve used this method a couple of times.
What is a sufficient level of English for IT?
I guess everybody knows that English is important in this sphere. And although you can find the client with any level, even if you are a beginner (it will depend on the number of refusals), but on such online marketplaces like UpWork it’s better to enter with confidence English for communication. But there are no global restrictions, you just need to stay the course and work hard. Pareto’s law can’t exist in vain.
How would you explain Pareto’s law (80/20) for a freelancer?
Are you still writing the code?
I write it all the time. If I didn’t write, I couldn’t tell anything interesting.
“Nowadays there is a rule to work no more than five hours”
How do you plan your day working as a freelancer and staying at home?
Nowadays there is a rule to work no more than five hours, I mean writing code. More than five hours is an emergency. Because if I’m over the limit, I feel like a boiled rag and the next day I can’t be as productive as in the previous day. Of course, there was a time when I could work for 14 hours. You put on headphones in the morning, turn on the music, and come around when it’s time to go to bed. Sometimes happens that there is a serious task and I gather strength for some days. But sometimes I have days when I work if I want, and don’t work if I don’t work. In fact, I already can allow this to myself.
Was it effective to spend 14 hours writing code?
Well, it depended on the complexity of the projects. When I was beginning, it was. The projects weren’t so difficult as now. And if you like what you do, time spins away. There was a moment when I was developing the speed of slicing on simple tasks (for example, 2-3 page landing sites). At first, such orders were made in 5 hours, then in 4, after that in 3, I was developing at the same time both level and speed. As the result, most of the things I was doing in autopilot mode.
What steps have been taken to work faster and earn more? If I understand right, it was the fixed price.
Yes, these were projects with the fixed price. About 40 dollars for one site. As in any production line (“Ford” for example), there are certain operations. You choose the most difficult and more often repetitive and look how you can optimize and speed them up. I was buying all possible plugins without hesitation. As soon as there came out the plugins that could help me in the work, I didn’t spare money for subscription/purchase.
“You can optimize the processes when you’ve got certain experience”
What was the moment when you realized that you needed to move from streaming tasks to more intelligent? After what time?
I can’t say that I started with very easy tasks. My first site was sliced at Zend Framework, there were over 20 layouts. I’ve been doing this site for about 2 months. You can optimize the processes when you’ve got certain experience. When you only start, you can’t understand whether you do it right or not.
What advice would you give to people who are doing their first project and who are ready to give up? Until what time you need to do your best before saying ‘it’s not mine’?
Until you do. If you want to understand whether it’s yours or not, you need to finish it. Now I remembered that I have one unfinished business. Everyone who knows already jokes about me that I still can’t make a site for myself.
“When your wage level becomes higher, let’s say, you can get $500 a day, it’s difficult to make yourself to work, you lose the interest – money stops to be a motivator”
So, you want to say that after 12 years of freelance you still don’t have your own site?
Well, there is a five-minute stub, a design with animation made by the very good designer, it’s just left to slice and finish it. When I came up to its realization, I just didn’t have the energy and I couldn’t make myself to find time on this project. I don’t know why, but the work on it didn’t motivate me. All the time I found excuses why I couldn’t do it right then. But the reason, actually, was the only one – I didn’t immediately get money for it, as it was with any other project made to order. That’s why I put it off. From this situation, I can take a warning to freelancers, and not only to them. In a certain moment, when you reach a high level of the rate, exclusively money can invisibly become the only motivation, the interest in the project takes a back seat. The other side of the coin is when your wage level becomes higher, let’s say, you can get $500 a day, it’s difficult to make yourself to work, you lose the interest – money stops to be a motivator! Everyone has his own ‘cut-off level’: someone has $50, someone $1000, but almost everyone has it. The only way out is to look again for the interest in something. That’s why I switched to React and resumed that state of the interest and I’m working with animation projects. Now the ice has been broken and some part of the site is already done.
Do you have sites that have won SiteOfTheDay?
There were nominations, but I haven’t had such. In fact, most of the most interesting, haven’t even entered the production.
Curiously enough, companies, startups for example, which make cool animation sites, very often don’t finish them. They look for the great animator, great developer. But when the whole process reaches the production stage, they understand that no one needs it.
How do you think, what’s the problem?
I think there is no understanding of how to monetize the project. I would say that it’s a common problem of many people. It presents in other spheres, sometimes people don’t know what they live for, why they do something. Unfortunately, such a principle is often used for developing projects.
“When you do something a thousand times or thousand hours, many things become intuitive”
How do you work with the project evaluation (estimate)?
I can take a rapid glance at the layout and understand what will be needed, for example, 12 hours. I’ve achieved this result due to the acquired qualitative and quantitative experience. I don’t remember whose words are these, but I agree that when you do something a thousand times or thousand hours, many things become intuitive. When I had 7-8 years of experience under the belt, there had been already made about 1500 sites. Of course, they are different. There is a project with 250 layouts, there are landings that can be made in 2-3 hours. Only on Zend, I have over 300-350 finished projects. So, I already have my ‘ten thousand hours’ experience. But! The evaluation, based on intuition, can be used ONLY for a quick provisional reply to the customer about cost range and deadlines.
Everything should be checked by calculation with block-by-block evaluation at splitting of all the project into typical and unique blocks. Also, it’s important to think over all the feature set for js logic and animations. Because the realization of the scripted part and animation can exceed the cost of bare slicing in several times. Only after that, we can talk about the real cost and completion period.
Usually, the intuitive evaluation coincides with calculative with an accuracy of 5-7%.
“In the first year, you need to maximally invest in your skills and study”
How do you optimize the slicing process?
At first, it’s better to write a framework for you, because it’s not rationally to write the same again and again. Yes, at the beginning you will spend time and it will be unprofitable. But I wouldn’t pay special attention to it in the first year – in the first year you need to maximally invest in your skills and study.
Secondly, don’t be greedy and buy plugins and programs that speed up development time. It’s an investment.
“To come in any sphere only because of money is the wrong way that will lead nowhere”
How to understand if it is worth to go in IT?
Well, everything is very individual and depends on the approach. You need to understand that it’s better to set long-term aims, and in this case, it doesn’t matter how you start. The most important is to start. If you decide that you want $15 per hour and start only because of money, it will be a failure.
To come in any sphere only because of money is the wrong way that will lead nowhere. You won’t be able to deal with unloved business, figuratively speaking, 24 hours a day and consciously write code for 14 hours.
We had one story when our programmer wrote a very difficult algorithm. In a couple of days, we asked him how he did that. And he answered that he didn’t remember – he wrote that algorithm when he was drunk. There was even an apt comment ‘don’t touch, it works, but I don’t know how, I was drunk’. This is the right attitude to work! You can’t just like your job, you need to be on a drive in all conditions from what you do, then money will come. One would think, I only slice, many people think that it’s easy: just open Bootstrap, cast on and everything is great. That’s why, I will say at once, hate Bootstrap. The most important is not how easy it is, but how qualitative you do your job and whether you like it.
Do you have slicing orders for React, Vue, Angular projects? In what form do you deliver your slicing?
What size of the team do you think is optimal for managing?
It’s hard for me to say because I‘m still growing and developing in this direction. Now I have 4 people in my team. I’ve started with one, then step by step the number of people increased. Someone left, but there were newcomers. I was looking for the right attitude and approaches. There was a time when I was teaching from scratch. At first, it was for free, then for money, but in time I realized that this occupation took too much time.
I didn’t think of my courses because, in general, I like to write the code more. I use the education only for the team expansion so that they could do the work according to my standards, which are already perfectly perceived by the clients, but they are somewhat more difficult for most developers.
“If the user managed to break the layout, it means that it was wrong and the layout designer didn’t think everything out”
What are your standards of slicing?
Everything must be made and must work so under any conditions, extensions and any amount of content, it was impossible to break it. If the user managed to break the layout, it means that it was wrong and the layout designer didn’t think everything out. The layout designer must foresee how the project will grow and change. If he keeps this in mind and does everything right, then it’s possible to make a scalable site from fixed in any moment and very quickly. Also, there won’t be a necessity to change a big amount of the code. The point of the right approach is to predict the future of the project. For example, you make the animation site and you certainly should keep in mind that it must work on any device. Yes, the client can get simple slicing in another place and at a lower price. But, the fact that you think of the moments he can’t even imagine now, is worth a lot, most likely he will come back to you more than once.
What is your hobby?
Good question. I guess that I already don’t have any hobby. What can be considered a hobby?
“Uncontrolled perfectionism is a bad trait that prevents you from achieving a goal in life. The balance is to allow yourself to do everything ‘well enough’”
One of my friends believes that a hobby is what you do for pleasure, without thinking about the result.
The fact is I don’t do anything without thinking about the result. I’m a perfectionist by nature and I believe that most part of my life is a struggle against perfectionism. Uncontrolled perfectionism is a bad trait that prevents you from achieving a goal in life. The balance is to allow yourself to do everything ‘well enough’. Because perfectionists don’t have such an idea and that’s all. The perfectionist’s illness is either he will never start or will never finish because all the time there will be something that is ‘not well enough’. You can slice the site day by day and remake it for weeks. Or even don’t start it because in this situation, in your understanding, this way is too long. And that’s the problem.
Who is Junior/Middle/Senior in your world picture? Do you meet these grades and do you build your team like that?
No, I just start working with people who are ready to study. The main mistake of specialists who consider themselves Middle/Senior level is they think that they don’t need to study anymore. I don’t hang any marks, everyone in my team, except basic knowledge, has his own narrow profile, what he likes doing best and it works best. Someone does the good animation, someone prefers to work with WordPress and so on. The main criterion is a responsibility for a quality result. Figuratively, even a monkey can be taught code. It’s important that this code would be the basis for the right product. It happened to work in teams where the developer could see the bug but didn’t fix it only because it didn’t have a ticket. I uncompromisingly fire such people at once.
Tell us about the books that have impressed you and, maybe, have affected your life.
“L’empire des anges” by Bernard Werber (https://www.yakaboo.ua/imperija-angelov.html) because most of all I love fantastic fiction. There is everything in a good fantastic: future, philosophy, present. This book strongly echoes reality and asks questions that everyone should ask themselves. I’ve been living esoteric for a long time, and the book touches this topic in some way. From the esoteric books that affected my life, I can also name “Alone with the World”(https://www.booklya.ua/book/naedine-s-mirom-12388/). The book was written by Igor Kalinauskas, this is the book that has really changed me.
And “Psychological Aikido” by Mihail Litvak (https://www.yakaboo.ua/psihologicheskoe-ajkido-1626008.html). The most popular reaction in the modern society is aggression. Especially when you are underfoot and can’t affect or change the situation, it often freaks out. This book teaches how to cope with such a situation and shows that there are other ways.
What is your life motto, if you have it of course?
I guess I don’t have it. But let it be “Work a sweat until finish”.
What is necessary to make up to 45?
To realize that your life can quickly end, in one moment. That we have one day, one second. We live here and now, we don’t have tomorrow and yesterday. That our life can end in any second, and it doesn’t matter whether you are ready or not. You need to accept this fact, you can’t control your life.
“When you get over yourself and go to the stage it gives a great burst of energy”
What is your motivation to speak at the conferences?
The first motivation was to overcome the fear. When I was speaking for the first time I felt very unpleasant feelings of awkwardness on the stage and I didn’t recognize myself. My wife has been pushing me for a long time so I could overcome this fear and became a speaker. I can say with confidence that when you get over yourself and go to the stage it gives a great burst of energy. I think you understand me.
I continued to speak because we had a big amount of groundworks, and this way is the easiest how we can share the information, it is most effectively. We have a lot of materials that we can set a-going. We have started to publish articles, not regularly for now, but we are going in that direction.
Our slicing is different from that other teams have. And this approach deserves a spread because it makes the code flexible, stable, and its writing – fast.
What is the difference from generally accepted standards?
Everything is in the complex. We don’t work with separate contents, we don’t have the separate button, separate elements, they all go in the context of something. There is always the context. If you don’t have context, it means that the slicing will break in one of the conditions. There is a strict dependence from the top to the bottom, that’s the main idea.
How much time does it take you to prepare for the conference?
The previous I finished 5 minutes before my speaking. But in general, I guess a week: 4-5 hours a day, about 20 hours. Everything that I tell is from practice, I never think up of stories. More often I need to extract a piece of code from the working site and put it in the context so everyone could understand how it works.
How to level up soft skill?
You need to communicate, there is no other variant. Even if it doesn’t work because of fear or something else, it doesn’t matter.
“If this is real, I will do this”
How to get out of the situation when you are asked to do something, but you can’t guarantee the result because of many unknown factors?
Most often, when we don’t know something, or we are not sure, we use the phrase ‘I don’t know’, ‘I’ll try’. In this way, we give ourselves a loophole to shrink from the task on the result. That’s why I don’t accept such answers in my team.
I also exclude such phrases from myself because they can happen in the spheres where I don’t have enough knowledge. The right position will be the answer: “If this is real, I will do this”. It happens when you’ve spent three times as much time on solving this task, but you’ve hunted down this task. This victory will only add skills to you, which will help in solving similar tasks and sometimes other tasks.
By the way, I have an example. At the conference, a young man came up to me who has made the Rubik’s cube in animation on the pure CSS, where each cube was an element. This is the level of insistence. Life helps people who are ready to go all the way.
Describe an ideal employee for yourself: professional and personal qualities.
It is the one who doesn’t lie to himself, knows what he wants, – this is the main, everything else can be brought up. It’s just, when a person lies to himself, he can’t normally take criticism and this leads to many other problems.
What is your life challenge for the moment?
To build a big team. To scale up what I’ve already done. To use the groundworks that I’ve got in a team of 20-30 people.
“When you make a decision and take a step, you open new opportunities and become free”
Can you please say some parting words for people who want to become speakers?
There is a very good film “Hare Over the Abyss” where is a very good riddle: “Why if the hare is brought to the very edge of the cliff, it jumps into the abyss and laughs?”. So, the hare laughs because it is free. When you make a decision and take a step, you open new opportunities and become free. Always find the strength to take this step from ‘the cliff’.