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My next great adventure

Dear Reader,

tl;dr

I now work with Pantheon as their first full-time Developer Advocate.

Long version

First, no, it’s not another job, it’s an adventure. For me, coding would be another job. I know I can do that and am pretty good at it. (although there are those that are much better at it than me) This shoves me out there in the spotlight again, a place I am most definitely uncomfortable. This time, like the last time I held a Dev Advocate role, it is with a community that doesn’t know me. (Well, a few of them do, but not many)

At the end of October, I got a call from my boss at the company I was working for. It was the usual “…we’ve decided to go in a different direction, your services are no longer needed”. It’s the corporate version of “It’s not you, it’s me…”, and it’s about as sincere. But that’s fine, we parted friends, I’ve got nothing really bad to say about them. But that left me with a problem. Not being part of the independently wealthy set, I needed a job. So I set out to find one.

My Process

  • I have 3 companies on my short list that I want to work for. Every time I consider a change, the first thing I do is ping them, and like every time before, the timing just wasn’t quite right for all 3 of them.
  • I blogged that I was on the market. I got a LOT of responses from that. Those responses turned into a few interviews. Alas, in each case, it just wasn’t the right fit. Most of them I was ok with losing, there are a couple though that I thought would be a good fit. C’est La Vie.
  • Finally, I reached out to my LinkedIn network. I sent a email out to about 90% of the contacts on my LinkedIn network letting people know that I was looking. One of the people in my network, David Strauss, forwarded it over to his VP of Marketing, and I got an email.

I did receive quite a few responses from posting to my LinkedIn network. Partly because I have a decent sized network, partly because I have been very careful in who I add to my network, I have rules. So I learned that large network + curated network = responsive network.

Standing Out

This one stood out though. I got an email, then a phone interview, then a flight to SFO. All within about a week. I left with a handshake agreement and the promise of a contract. (due to the holidays, this took longer than expected but I share in the blame for that as I was slow to respond at times) I’ve been a hiring manager before, I understand the process. I like the way that Pantheon hires. Whenever I am hiring, I know what I want, and I don’t have to see every candidate to make the decision. I interview until I find what I want and then pull the trigger. I love that because to me it shows confidence in the people and the process. Pantheon did just that. They actually told me, we won’t be interviewing anyone else for the position.

They were open an honest with me in the negotiations. Open to the point that I felt comfortable sharing my salary history with them, something I don’t usually do.

Why Advocate and not Evangelist?

In 2005, when I started at Zend, we didn’t have the term Developer Evangelist. I was “The Community Guy” at Zend. It wrapped up well what I did. I wasn’t the “Community Manager” because you can’t manage the PHP community, it is it’s own entity. My job was to speak to the PHP community on behalf of Zend and to speak to Zend on behalf of the PHP community. Most companies forget that second part. Zend, to it’s credit, did not.

That shaped my impression of the role that many companies have come to call Dev Evangelist. (DE) I prefer – and chose – Developer Advocate. (DA) This is more than just a marketing role, although I answer to the VP of marketing. I see my role as standing for the company when speaking to developers, and standing for developers when I speak to the company. This doesn’t mean that the company will always do what I say, but they have hired me to do this role so they are serious about listening. It is my job to manage the relationship between Pantheon and the developer community; I can’t do that as an evangelist.

Personally, I think more companies should concentrate on Developer Advocacy instead of Developer Evangelism. I have found in 100% of the times I have tried it, helping others is better marketing than simply promoting myself or the company I work for.

Wrap up

So I am back to helping develop communities. I still work in the PHP community, although I will be focusing more of my attention on Drupal than I have in a while. I am excited, and I hope they are too.

So…let’s talk Pantheon, Drupal, hosting, and of course, PHP! :)

Until next time,
I <3 |<
=C=

10 thoughts on “My next great adventure

  1. Woah, congratulations! A good catch, for both of you. :-)

    And I’m totally with you on “Developer Advocate”. It’s a great term.

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