Solving Specific, Expensive AWS Problems with Corey Quinn
Play • 34 min

I invite Corey Quinn to take a break from his podcast hosting role and join me on the opposite side of the table on To Comply or Not to Comply this week. As the Cloud Economist at the Duckbill Group, writer of the Last Week in AWS newsletter, and host of the podcast Screaming in the Cloud, Corey is an expert in Amazon Web Services (AWS). Corey joins me in this episode to talk about developing his business focus, being profiled by the New York Times, and making the decision to invest in my startup, ByteChek.


Timecoded Guide:

[04:23] Finding a business niche and understanding the value of the Duckbill Group’s AWS expertise 

[11:56] Explaining where the humor of Last Week in AWS comes from and how Corey keeps a lighthearted yet snarky and amusing perspective on AWS issues 

[18:10] Delving into Corey’s vision for the investment portion of his career and what his motivations were for becoming an investor in ByteChek

[26:42] Being featured in the New York Times and explaining the reactions that both he and others had to the article about him

[29:34] Noticing the role that fatherhood has had in his career and how Corey has learned to better prioritize his schedule and his family 


How did you develop the focus on AWS for the Duckbill Group?

Although I point out the criticisms specialists in tech often receive, Corey is quick to defend the Duckbill Group’s focus on AWS. His reasoning? It pays well and it’s a very important problem to fix. It might seem like a source of strength to be a jack of all trades or a generalist, but Corey says that there’s rarely a market for generalists. Instead, people and companies alike approach specialists to solve their problems, wanting to pay the money for their expertise rather than take a chance on someone they only knows a general overview of their issue or problem.

“People don't want to reach out with expensive problems to generalists. They want to reach out to someone who they believe specializes in the exact problem they deal with and that they want to get solved.” 


What is the feedback like for your Last Week in AWS newsletter?

Corey’s Last Week in AWS newsletter has developed a really decent following over the span of his career, starting only as a fun way to share news and skyrocketing from there. Even with the increased popularity of his newsletter, Corey’s surprising news is that he actually rarely receives email feedback from subscribers. He receives positive feedback in-person, especially from peers enjoying his takes on the latest developments and finding humor in the snarky statements he makes, but Corey finds that email responses and feedback are hardly the norm for him, only receiving the occasional typo correction. 

“Increasingly, I find that when people have problems with what I write, the easiest way to fix that is to have a conversation with them and add a little context. Sometimes I'm wrong, sometimes I'm not, but it's always a conversation that leads to better outcomes as a result.”


What was that experience like, to be in the New York Times, talking just about who you are and what you bring to the space?

Although Corey has a following in the AWS space, it was a big surprise to him for the New York Times to reach out for a profile on him and it provided him with an incredible perspective of the impact of what he does not only with Duckbill Group, but with everything involved in Last Week in AWS. This was a source of stress for Corey, who definitely worried about what would come from such a high-profile publication covering his occasionally snarky work, but he’s been incredibly pleased with the response so far and hopes it continues to elevate his platform and spreads the words about the common issues of AWS

“Believe me, I deserve a lot of criticism for the things I say and do, but it was a really interesting experience, start to finish. I didn't expect it to get the level of attention that it did. I didn't expect the positive business outcomes that came out of it, and I'll be forever grateful.”


Why are you open to sharing your fatherhood journey with folks out there and how has being a father played a role in your career?

As a father myself, Corey’s dedication and care towards his two children inspires me to continue to share my journey through fatherhood out in the open. While motherhood has become an increasingly visible talking point as we discuss tech work environments, fatherhood can also have a massive impact on the decisions we choose in our careers. For Corey, he’s quick to admit that his fatherhood informs his decisions to unplug from his work on the weekend. He’s willing to set strict boundaries with himself about when he’s working and when he’s not, especially when it means he can be there for his children as they grow up.

“There's always going to be another RSA coming to town, or there's always going to be another event where I'm invited to keynote, but I'm not going to get these years of having young kids back. I want to spend time with them as they grow up.” 



Keep up with our guest, Corey Quinn, on LinkedIn, Twitter, the Last Week in AWS website, and the Duckbill Group website

Read the New York Times article about Corey Quinn and check out Corey’s podcast, Screaming in the Cloud

Connect with AJ Yawn on LinkedIn and Twitter

Follow ByteChek on LinkedIn and Twitter, or learn more about ByteChek on their website Listen to more from the Hacker Valley Studio and To Comply or Not to Comply

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