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I have a cure for the “Eli Travel Curse”

Dear Reader,

IMG_0370If you are a speaker in the PHP community, you know about “The Eli Travel Curse”. For everyone else, basically we all know that you never ever travel on the same flight as Eli White. Heck, most of us won’t share a cab with him to the airport, and we get nervous if we see him at an adjacent gate, or even traveling on the same day. :) This makes traveling to PHP conferences tough because Eli is a beloved fixture at most conferences. Dont get me wrong, we all love Eli, but he has the absolute worst luck in traveling.

I’m happy to say that I have a cure for those who are “Eli adjacent” when traveling. The picture above is my magic talisman.

WAIT! Before you realize you recognize what it is and rush out to get yours, this is a special talisman that can’t be simply purchased off the shelf. Yes, this is the talisman that comes on most bottles of Pyrat Rum. However, this particular one is off a bottle of Pyrat rum given to me by Eli himself.

Eli and I share a couple of common points in our job timeline. The first one was that I preceded him as the Editor-in-Chief for Zends DevZone. As a thank you for some small pieces of advice I gave him while he was at Zend, Eli presented me with a bottle of Pyrat Rum at ZendCon 2009; this is the talisman from that bottle. I’ve had this talisman hanging on every backpack or bag I carry with me since then. I keep it with me to remind me of this important lesson.

No matter who asks you, and no matter how insignificant you think your help is, you have no idea how much or little affect others when you help them. So help everyone you can, as often as you can.

Since I hung this little gift from Eli on my backpack, my travel woes have been cut significantly.

  • I’ve not had a flight canceled
  • I’ve not been stuck in a strange city
  • I’ve only had a handful of flights delayed…way down from pre-talisman days

Now you can attribute all of this to the fact that the airline industry is getting better at service. You can say it’s because I now primarily fly Southwest and they have a very good track record. Me? I know the real answer.

Takeaways

  1. I would have never received my magical talisman if I hadn’t been willing to help a friend when he asked. Since then I’ve learned that it doesn’t have to be a friend, I do my best to help everyone who asks…and a few who don’t.
  2. If you want to be safe in your travels, you gotta get Eli to give you a bottle of rum. :)

Helping people, it cured the Eli travel curse for me! :)

Until Next Time,
I <3 |<
=C=

p.s. Pyrat Rum is now one of my favorite rums of all times. Good stuff if you can find it.

Don’t Hire PHP Community Members!

Dear Reader,

It is no secret that I spend a lot of time promoting the PHP Community. It is a vibrant, helpful and friendly community and I’ve said before that I believe it to be one of the most important assets of the PHP language.

I’m also a realist though; I’ve built teams and I’ve hired developers. I know what it takes to put together good teams, I’ve even written down my thoughts on hiring and managing developers elsewhere. I have experience in this area and I have strong opinions. I am going to share one of those opinions with you right now.

Don’t hire developers who are active members of the PHP Community.

PHP community members solve problems

Active members of the PHP community solve problems. I mean they get their hands dirty in code – theirs or someone else’s – and solve problems. They are used to collaborating with other PHP community members to solve real world problem for themselves, their employers, or other community members who need their help. They spend time helping friends on IRC solve problems; problems that they may eventually face in their day job. They don’t do it because they were paid to; they solved the problem because they could.

If they can’t solve a problem, they usually know who can

Active members of the PHP community not only share what they know, they build up a list of others who are willing to share with them. Most of the time it doesn’t matter if the problem is for a project they contribute to or part of their day job, if there is a problem to be solved, members of the PHP community know who to call to get help. Since they help others, they have a cache of good will that they can use to get problems solved at work.

They love to show off

PHP community members love to show off and they do so by helping others. You can often find them showing other teammates something new they learned while working on a project they contribute to in their off-hours. They organize User Groups just so they can show off to others. It’s why they love to speak at conferences, so they can show off stuff they have learned.

They make their employers look good at conferences.

Active PHP community members love to speak at conferences and they will want you to help pay for it. Their speaking is nothing more than showing off. It doesn’t matter that their presenting makes your company a thought leader and makes it easier for you to attract other developers. All you get as a return on your investment is a smarter, better connected, inspired and rejuvenated developer. Trust me, I understand, you’ve got deadlines to meet and can’t have a developer out for a week showing off and finding solutions to the difficult problems they are working on for you. It doesn’t matter that they come back energized and inspired. It probably doesn’t even matter that they burn off all this new-found energy solving problems, and building solutions faster and better. All that matters is they weren’t in their cube for a week, right?

They work for free

No, not for you, don’t be stupid; but most active members of the PHP community contribute to one or more open source projects on their own time. This means that even when they aren’t paid to do so, they are coding; learning, honing their skills that they then come back and use for you.

Conclusion

In short, no, don’t hire active PHP community members. Hire the developers that are happy to punch in at 9 and out at 5, go home and tinker in their workshop. Honestly, there are enough teams out their vying for active members of the PHP community because they recognize them as the cream of the crop as far as developers go. They want them on their team and are counting on you to to pass over all active PHP community members because you think they they are too high maintenance. You keep thinking that, just hope your competition does too.

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

Update:

I’ve had several people tweet to me asking if I was being serious or sarcastic. (“You serious, Clarke?“) This post is of course, tongue-in-cheek. Active members of the PHP community are some of the best developers you can hire and are a sought after commodity. If you are lucky enough to hire one, take care of them and hold onto them.