If Generals always try to fight the last war, it can be said of developers that they try to solve the problems they solved at their last job. So it is with developers who find themselves in marketing.
How I got here
For the past eight years I have been a developer in a marketing role. Long before we had the term Developer Evangelist - or as I prefer, Developer Advocate - I was helping companies figure out ways to build their developer community.
In this role, I’ve coded, blogged, podcasted, hosted, and partied. Originally I used to joke that I had traded in my Red Fedora for a beanie cap, because I was afraid that with this change in my focus, I would become less of a developer and more of a Markateer. (sounds like Mousekateer) Then slowly it began to sink in that I was in a unique position to do something different. I didn’t have to stop being a developer, if anything, I had to sharpen my skills and stay current.
The problem most companies who sell products to developers realize quickly is that developers don’t like to be marketed to. It’s not like anybody really likes it, maybe it is better to say that in most cases, developers have the technical chops to prevent you from marketing to them...unless it’s interesting to them.
What I do
In my mind though I wasn’t a Markateer, I was a developer, this was a crucial point. I knew how to talk to developers.
- Sometimes, those conversations were about technology
- Sometimes they were about community
- and when the time was right, they were about the products my company was creating
Unlike a Markateer, I didn’t have to control the conversation and I didn’t have to find ways to "engage the audience with my brand", all I had to do was sit with developers, talk shop, listen as developers talked about the problems they were facing, and wait until someone presented a problem that my company’s products solved.
See, while nobody likes to be marketed to, everybody likes having someone help them solve a problem. The bigger the problem, the more they like it. That, is the heart of what I have learned is the role of Developer Advocate. Helping developers - not people in general, developers specifically - solve their problems.
I am happy to be at Pantheon, a company with a great solution to a problem that I’ve seen many times in the past few years. I’m not going to tell you about the company here though. However, if you sit with me at a Camp, Con, User Group, or anyplace where developers gather and tell me your problems, if Pantheon can solve one, I’ll make sure and let you know.
Me, Me, Me!
Most of you reading this don’t know me, something I would like to solve in the coming months and years. For those that don't know me, I talked a little bit more about what I hope to accomplish here at Pantheon on my personal blog in a post titled "My next great adventure". If you want to know more, here is my bio.
Many moons ago, at the tender age of 14, Cal touched his first computer. (We’re using the term “computer” loosely here, it was a TRS-80 Model 1) Since then his life has never been the same. He graduated from TRS-80s to Commodores and eventually to IBM PC’s.
For the past 14 years Cal has worked with PHP and MySQL on Linux, OSX, and Windows. He has built a variety of projects ranging in size from simple web pages to multi-million dollar web applications. When not banging his head on his monitor, attempting a blood sacrifice to get a particular piece of code working, he enjoys building and managing development teams using his widely imitated but never patented management style of “management by wandering around”.
These days, when not working with PHP, Cal can be found working on a variety of projects like CoderFaire. He speaks at conferences around the world on topics ranging from technical talks to motivational talks for developers. If you happen to meet him at a conference, don’t be afraid to buy him a shot of Bourbon.
Cal is based in Nashville TN where he is happily married to wife 1.30, the lovely and talented Kathy.Together they have 2 wonderful kids who were both smart enough not to pursue a job in IT.
Beyond that, the important thing you need to know about me is that I help developers solve problems. Is there some way I can help you? drop me an email, let's talk.Topics: Education