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Pedro Nauck

Prioritizing health and balance over Docz

Pedro went from unhealthy, anxiety-filled days to a more sustainable, creative lifestyle.

Pedro Nauck // @pedronauck

Hey, I’m Pedro. I started working in the programming world over 18 years ago and now mainly work as a content creator on social media (Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter) helping and teaching people about ReactJS, Javascript, and programming in general. I've always been passionate about contributing to communities. Three years ago, I created Docz to help front-end developers easily write documentation, and this year I launched my own community on Discord teach and create even more content.

Balneário Camboriú, Brazil

@pedronauck

https://www.docz.site/

Organizations

The ReadME Project amplifies the voices of the open source community: the maintainers, developers, and teams whose contributions move the world forward every day.

I was 12 years old when I learned to program, experimenting mainly with Adobe Fireworks, Dreamweaver, and Macromedia. A few months after I learned how to create websites, I got my first job at a small company making simple websites with CSS. It paid $200 a month—not a lot, but pretty good for a kid! 

I continued making websites for the next few years, and started working as a graphic designer when I was 16. Three years later, I returned to programming, dug into JavaScript and AngularJS, and learned React. This was in 2014, when React was new, so I was one of the first in Brazil to know it. This brought me a lot of recognition and respect within the OSS community. I created a React blog, gave talks, and worked on some small open source projects that had a few thousand stars. 

Inline4_Pedro Nauck

I almost got a job with the core React team at Facebook, and the interview experience gave me the confidence and connections to work for other U.S. companies remotely, as well as some very big companies here in Brazil. At that time, my goal was to live in the U.S., so I started going to university, but stopped short after six months because they were teaching things I had known since I was 14. I lived alone and had bills to pay, and was spending more than half of my time at college when I could have been working, so it felt like a waste of time. At one point, I was invited to an interview for a position at a company called Better in New York. I even signed the offer letter, but the pandemic closed the city down and I lost the opportunity.

An unexpected success gets stressful, fast

Four years ago, I was working with Storybook and noticed it had some trouble in terms of performance. So I started to think maybe I should create my own version. I knew ReactJS, but wanted a sort of playground where I could write my components that was separate from my project environment. 

Then MDX launched, which was a game-changer because I could use it to create the documentation for my project, Docz. I re-made Docz from scratch in order to add MDX, and it ended up being one of the first projects to use MDX to write documentations. My idea for Docz was to help front-end developers write documentation in a very easy way with zero configuration.

I worked on Docz for six months, on the weekends and early in the mornings. When it launched, I got 5,000 stars in one day: It was incredible because the entire JavaScript community was sharing the project! Two weeks in, it had more than 10,000 stars. Now, it has just over 20,000 stars.

In the beginning, it was hard because I only had a few hours a week to maintain the project. It got really popular, and people kept requesting more and more of me. I started to feel anxious inside. A guy from India helped me for about six months, but he had to step away because there were too many demands. 

When it launched, I got 5,000 stars in one day: It was incredible because the entire JavaScript community was sharing the project! 

Inline1_Pedro Nauck

Stepping away to make a drastic change

I spent a year maintaining Docz, and while I love open source, it can be very hard to manage everything. I didn’t burn out, but I didn’t have any regard for my health: I was just working, working, working. I was anxious and smoking. My head hurts all the time. I needed to work on the weekends and late at night, and was waking up very early and eating whatever trashy food I could find, and drinking lots of coffee. 

One day I woke up and my knees and back hurt so much it made me stop and think: I’m just 26 and feel all this pain. I need to stop. Otherwise I might not make it to 40 or even 30. I weighed 40 kilos more than I do today, which is a lot for a guy who’s 26. My father had a lot of trouble with weight, and my family in general. I had to choose between my health, maintaining my open source work, and my day job. 

I decided to visit the doctor, go to the gym, and be more careful with my food. But I committed to it and spent a lot of time studying how I could improve my health. This was essential, because I was very stressed and anxious. But I lost those 40 kilos. Now, I know that I can have my projects and my open source work—but I have to prioritize my health.

I had to choose between my health, maintaining my open source work, and my day job. 

Delegating responsibilities and branching out

After I had a healthy mind and body, I went back to work as an independent content creator, and now I have more time to maintain Docz. I also have another Brazilian guy, a friend of mine, who is maintaining it with me. Some guys from India are also embracing the project because Docz is pretty well known in India and China. We’re working on getting back on track and considering different features, and how to give the community the most simple, high-performing tool possible.

Open source is very important for me. Compared to the startup world, where you have to think about how you earn money, how to scale and get to the first MVP as quickly as possible, open source is different. You can play with technology. You do the best you can without thinking about strict deadlines. You can put in more energy, more passion. In open source, you can spend more time creating things. This is something I really like, because I have always been a mix of a scientist and artist. 

At the end of last year, I saw content creation marketing grow a lot because of the pandemic. Now, a lot more people are exploring the digital space as a place where they can learn and grow. Since I had a good background, and a certain amount of authority on open source with Docz, I started my own business. Now we have content for the entire developer funnel, from beginners to those who want to get deeper into the tools, on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. I started creating content mostly in English, but now I also have content in Portuguese, too.

In open source, you can spend more time creating things. This is something I really like, because I have always been a mix of a scientist and artist. 

Inline3_Pedro Nauck

Changing the culture of open source

Open source consumers can sometimes be very hard to deal with because they ask a lot from you when you have a big project. Even though it’s free, they sometimes treat you as if you’re their employee, demanding bug fixes and solutions asap. 

We need to talk more about how companies can help open source and how important it is for them. Right now it’s a one-way street: They make millions of dollars a month in revenue by building on open source projects—and they don’t give anything back. But if you took their access to open source projects away, they would be in trouble. We need to bring this up more in our communities, to create more forums and chats about it. More of the developers who are working inside the bigger companies should prioritize it, because this needs to be a two-way experience. 

And I’m not talking just about money. It’s also about cultivating an open source culture inside the companies. Maybe it’s allowing your developers to work on open source projects for two half-days each week. Or if you use a project a lot, maybe you offer its maintainers marketing or design support, or connect them with other companies. Even just talking to maintainers about what they need could be impactful. You can give back in so many ways.

Even just talking to maintainers about what they need could be impactful. You can give back in so many ways.

Prioritizing the journey and staying present

If I were to share advice with other developers, I’d suggest trying to find a company that thinks more sustainably in terms of open source, and gives its developers the opportunity to work on projects. Learn to manage your time and get a routine going. Don’t worry about how you’ll contribute, just start small and help where you can.

After changing my lifestyle and improving my health, I became a totally different person and thought of my life in a completely different way. Before, I was a guy who was very accelerated and anxious about everything: I wanted to be a millionaire at 30 and run as much as possible. But this brought me a lot of trouble. 

Today, I really like the balance of life. So I would suggest to enjoy the path and not worry so much about the result. This is something that I learned after reading Atomic Habits, which I recommend. Thinking more about the process instead of the goal changed my life because now I'm living in the present. If I can make the best out of the day, I will get the results I need. 

I don’t work for other companies. I have my own business, and this gives me a lot of flexibility, which is good, because I think I lost some opportunities with Docz. It could definitely be bigger and have more features by now, but I don’t regret taking time to prioritize my health. Now I have a much healthier mindset to actually work on the things that make me happy.

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