Software Developers Journey Podcast

#131 Wesley Faulkner is a native developer advocate


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Wesley Faulkner 0:00
The opportunity came to purchase my own computer from a friend of mine. So I scrounged up, I think 250 bucks to buy this 46 piece of junk, but it was mine. And a month and a half after owning it, it wouldn't start up again. So I took my computer to a local computer shop computer geeks, I met the guy there and I said, Hey, can you fix this computer? But can I sit down next to you and see what you're doing? He's like, yeah, sure, sure. And he opened it up, started pulling out ram resetting RAM, receding the CPU and back then they had cash modules, like you had to buy extra cash for the CPU. And it was determined that that was the problem. I pulled out the cash module and boot it right up and it worked fine. And I was like, Whoa, How'd you do that? And he walked me through and he's like, this is exactly how it works. It blew my mind. It was like, wow. And I said, can I come back again? And he said, yeah.

Tim Bourguignon 1:02
Hello, and welcome to developer's journey, the podcast, bringing you the making of stories of successful software professionals, to help you on your upcoming journey. My name is Tim Bourguignon, and on this episode with 131, I receive the last guest of this year 2020, Wesley Faulkner. Wesley is a first generation American based in Austin, Texas. He is a founding member of the government transparency group, open Austin, and ran for city council there back in 2016. His professional experience came from Atlassian to AMD, Dell, and IBM. He serves as a board member for the conference South by Southwest Interactive. And he's currently a developer advocate for the company daily. Wesley. Welcome, to software developer's journey.

Wesley Faulkner 1:49
Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure.

Tim Bourguignon 1:50
The show exists to help the listeners understand what's your story look like and imagine how to shape their own future. So let's go back to your beginnings where we where would you place the start of your tech journey?

Wesley Faulkner 2:04
I would say the start of where I became fascinated with technology was in grade school. It was like my first computer programming class, I must have been like, I don't know, 10 years old, where we had to use basic to plot a pixel and colors to make a picture on the screen. So a lot of code to a lot of coordinates. Very, very basic. Then it grew into Pascal, we learned that in middle school. And Pascal was the first time that I was exposed to more than just pictures, but programs and games and the games, especially having access to the code, I was tinkering around with changing the boundaries of breakout. So that instead of the bottom being false, changing it to true and noticing that I never lost the ball, watching it play itself. Or increasing the the the width of the paddle, just just tinkering it and hacking away at it. And that's when I really got obsessed with whenever I had that class to get my work done as soon as I could, so I can play with those games. And it wasn't just playing the games, it was just tinkering and trying to make it my own. Unfortunately, I mean, I grew up pretty poor, we didn't have a computer at home. And so like my next time that I actually had some real like tinkering time with the computer was in college. So no, touching a keyboard until then, a friend of mine in high school, he had a computer and I would occasionally go to his place and use his computer to type of papers and get them turned in. And that formed like a bond and became he became my best friend. And so when we came when he went to college, he was my college roommate. And he brought his computer with him. And this was in 1995. And windows 95 came out, he upgraded immediately. And I started tinkering with his computer, by the way, when I decided to go to UT University of Texas, and he was my roommate to major in electrical Computer Engineering. So I was interested in computers, but I had actually no experience in using them really. And when 95 came out, it felt like the first time that he and I were on the same base of knowledge around what to do. He would say how do I do this? And I would know because at night while he was sleeping, I was on his computer, clicking through every menu, opening up every config file ever i&i file, and reading any article on the internet about what I could find. About how to make it a little bit faster how to like compress files, so that we have more harddrive space, how to use different commands to squeeze some more speed of is 56 k baud modem like I was really, really just nerding out on this resource that I didn't have access to. And then when I needed more ability, I would just go into the computer lab and use the computers there. So that's kind of like from the software. And that started my journey. And of course, I was taking classes on logic, c++, and that that just kind of more cemented me in the possibilities of the things that I create. I could create and then but my schooling was more on the hardware side. But my and that's like, the foundational practical side of it. We also did some assembly, but my tinkering has has always been on the software side. What can I do? What can I download? What what menu, can I edit? Can Can I dip into the registry and change? An option here there to mix boot up a little bit faster, or to remove some malware that I happen to download? Because I was downloading everything on the internet? Again, yeah, it's so I love that I've loved the tinkering. And then once I said, Well, I said this before my, I wasn't very financially well off. And I was putting myself through school. And the opportunity came to purchase my own computer from a friend of mine, that was like dumping it. And so I scrounged up, I think 250 bucks to buy this 46 piece of junk, but it was mine. I bought it and Gosh, I would say a month and a half after owning it. It wouldn't start up again. And you know, if I lost the OS, I could format it. I can partition it. I can install Windows again, but not booting up hearing those beep codes. And like I have no idea how to fix this. So I took my computer to a local computer shop in Austin. It was called computer geeks. And I took it I met the guy there and I said, Hey, can you can you fix this computer? But can I sit down next to you and see what you're doing? He's like, yeah, sure, sure. And he opened it up, started pulling out ram resetting RAM, receding the CPU and like back then they had cash modules. Like you had to buy extra cash for the CPU. And it was determined that that was the problem, pulled out the cache module and booted right up and it worked fine. And I was like, Whoa, How'd you do that? And, and he walked me through it. He's like, this is exactly how it works. And it blew my mind. It was like, wow. And I said, Can I come back again? He said, yeah. And I kind of like, tagged along for a bit. And I asked the owners, could I intern here. They said, Okay. And I actually rescheduled my classes for the whole semester that I only had classes on Tuesday, and Thursday. And so Monday, Wednesday and Friday, were free. And so I would intern go in for free work for them, just so I could kind of troubleshoot the interesting cases that would come in. And I would say I had that job for I think a good month and a half to two months to where my official title, by the way was called bench nerd. And the people who would drive out and fix computers were called field nerds. And they would just when they couldn't fix it, they would bring it into the shop and the bench nerds would take them over and I became like the head bench nerd and in like a month and a half as an intern like being paid nothing. And taking some of the hardest cases we're using

Tim Bourguignon 9:13
this title is not on your LinkedIn, you need to break that right now.

Wesley Faulkner 9:19
I think I deleted it after a while, like avoid some of the questions. And they had these cheesy cheesy local commercials. And every commercial it's a and we'll see in a nerd ride over haha. And I would be there in the group just waving doing this awkward laugh. Anyway, so after two months, no, I think this bleeding into the next semester. So I was there for four months. After four months. I said you know I'm taking some of the hardest cases I'm building custom computers that you're charging 1000s of dollars for that I get nothing for I think I deserved the get paid. And then like, how much do you think you should get paid? I said, the minimum five bucks an hour at least but you know, you should pay me. And they said, Sure, okay, we'll do that. And then I got my first paycheck. And I looked, and it was five bucks an hour. I said, I said, at least five bucks, at least five bucks an hour. And they said, Well, that's what he said, I was like, Okay. And I'm still going to school. Right? So one of the one of the lecturers at UT, for the Eazy, e department brought in this computer company, they're making reimagining the CPU. It was a panel of people from this local Austin company, the company was called centar. Many people probably don't know or have heard of centar. But they gave this speech about how they wanted computers to be more power efficient and do things in a smart way. And after I went down to the stage, and I asked the person, one of the people talking, his name was cJ holthaus. I said, Can I work for you? And he said, Sure, he gave me his card. And he said, email me tomorrow. And I did. And they're relatively new, they they're still getting off the ground. And their, their first product

Tim Bourguignon 11:27
was called the wind chip.

Wesley Faulkner 11:30
Because they thought windows was the way of selling computer chips. And so their architecture was a little bit different than what AMD or Intel was doing that they were emulating some of the least used parts of the CPU and microcode. So a super power efficient, but they didn't do any of the fancy stuff like outer order processing and that kind of stuff. So I started there. And I remember my first day, they're like, Hey, we don't really have like a formal intern, co op program. And this was a co op for me. And they said, We can't pay you much, we can only pay 11 bucks an hour. And I was like, Whoa, okay. I can do 11 bucks an hour. And since I was putting myself through school, this Co Op was like the perfect arrangement. So take us a whole semester off, get college credit, make money. And then next semester, I would just only do school and then take all the money I saved from my the coop tour, and use that to pay my tuition, room and board and all that stuff. And I did that cycle. And that exposed me to some of the smartest practitioners in the hardware space at that time. And like I said, I love technology. And so in between projects, I was like, what's that? Tell me? What does this do? And my job was to do testing for the CPU. So I put I made like a special harness to and hooked it up to an oscilloscope to check that each pin was doing what it was supposed to be doing. Make sure the voltage levels were correct. And then in some ways, the best part and the worst part was, I would do compatibility testing, which translates to playing video games all day. And so I would check it off the list like Yep, that works. But also I would have to play the video games I didn't like Oh, no like Barbies Playhouse was one. Oh my gosh, the worst was the tele Tebow teletubby game. Because all they did is do the tele Toby speak of paper Derby Oh, well, gosh, it drove me mad. Because in testing, you can't just do it once you have to do it over and over again, just to make sure you get the same thing. But that was fun. But I think that one of the best parts was I would overclock them, I would actually do some binning. So when they would make a processor would come in, and they would put it in the package. And depending on how clear the lines are, basically, as they draw the wires on the processor, you can clock it up to a high speed or low speed based on the tolerance, it could take for voltage levels. If you can squeeze more voltage, you can squeeze more frequency and it will run faster. And so bend them basically test them out to see how far I can push them before they break. And then when they're at the top part of my bend, then I would have to do my compatibility testing to make sure that every part of it still worked. And like if it's too fast, it might seem like it works and then you'll have some floating point errors will cause some problems. And so I would have to do that. And so pushing things until it broke was one of the things that I love doing so really rediscovering what it means to make a product and make sure that it does what it's supposed to do. So iteration was really, really valuable for me.

Tim Bourguignon 15:00
That's a lot of responsibilities for part time. Student. Yeah, yeah,

Wesley Faulkner 15:05
yeah. Which was great. I mean it. Since they were new at it, they didn't know what I couldn't couldn't do. So it really did push me. And because it also was a very small company, I had access to almost everybody. So like, if it was like a large processor company, we would all be in our own departments and segmented, but everyone wore multiple hats, everyone, before shipping out a wafer would be all hands on deck. And I really felt part of the team. And my last semester, at the end, they got purchased by a company called via back then via made all the chipsets like you would buy a motherboard, you would buy it. And the chipset would be made by a company not made, I mean, not owned by the processor company. And back then via was competitive with all of the ones in the market. And so via purchase center and sent in said that if you're not a permanent employee, you can't work here anymore. And so I lost my co op, which means I lost the means of supporting myself. I tried to go another semester after that purely on credit cards that didn't work out. And I had to drop out of school to get a full time job. And that's where I started at Dell. This is ageing me a little bit, but I started I was on the white two k team

Tim Bourguignon 16:32
until the year 2000. bug.

Wesley Faulkner 16:35
Yes. They called it the the EMI 40. So millennium, impossible 40. Because there are 40 of us that they hired just to answer y2k questions that people would call Dell for. It wasn't a big deal. Like we all know this now, in hindsight, but we didn't. Nobody knew like they thought planes would start falling out of the sky as soon as the clock rolled over. So they built this team just to guard against that. And the answer was always the same. Update your BIOS, and you'll be fine. And so we're we're all 40 of us when we're in the this kind of like conference room like this temporary space. And we were on these long tables. And because the answer was so easy, most of the time, when someone would call tech support, tech support would just say update your BIOS, and they would never transfer it up to, to our division or to our section to our call queue. And I would take on on really busy days, maybe eight calls in eight hours. And and when I say busy days, we had probably like a handful of those most likely most of the time, I would take one or two calls a day for eight hours. And also, since we're all in the same room, we're all in the same call queue, when the phone would ring, we would hear it ring and we would be able to see Oh, that's three desk away. It'll be like four more hours before it will work its way sequentially down this road before it hit me. So we would like leave, even for like an hour and then come back saying we're we're phones ringing Okay, I still have like 20 more minutes. But I would say like that is the summer that I got to the end of the internet. I mean, we went to every single site, we would play these online games, we play risk online. And that's when I started like really getting into web design and playing around with webpages and tinkering and learning about more about computers and how they worked. Because the y2k crew was a was a contract, it was going to expire at the end of the year in the middle of January. And depending on your performance or where you want to go, Dell would place you or release you. So I would learn as much as I could, about how computers work, the hardware, the software, the interaction, Dell specific quirks and problems because we had access to their knowledge base. And in January, they transitioned me to education and government computers. And once again, I learned the ins and outs. I've always been a person to like take more responsibility. I started doing new hire training, as newcomers would come into the technical queue. And I would teach them how to use the system, fix these problems, how to troubleshoot correctly. And I would also coach after hours after my shift was over, I would say hey, you had problems dealing with this call. So let me walk you through how you should have handled it. We would i would hook something called a y connector. You know you would have these headsets with the wall mic on it. So I could listen in on calls for it with other people and that would walk them through that. And that's it. The reason why I make sure that's part of my journey is because that really built the empathy of not just the person helping people who are sometimes experts, but also some people who are clueless and being able to deal with everyone in between. So when someone says, my computer's broken, do they mean their monitor? Do they just mean their mouse? Just, and then some people would call in and say, Hey, I'm the IT person, I need five hard drives? And I would say, well, let's troubleshoot first. And they're like, I've already troubleshoot it. I said, What steps have you taken? I said, did you? I know, you said your receipt of the, the ID cable. But can you move to this jumper to this location and try it again? Like, all right, hey, it worked. Okay, thanks. Bye, click. So like, you know, the dealing with the the privilege the the people would have after and using their authority as a hammer. Like, I know this, you should listen to me. And, and that was like, like I said, when I started at Dell, I got a promotion every year moving departments working on special teams. I was I was one of the part of the beta tester team for Longhorn, which became Windows XP. I eventually graduated, my last role is I was a regional support person for Dell, EMC. So their storage division on their fiber channel arrays, I would fly everywhere in the Midwest, for high profile customers at the moment's notice. Just they would call me saying, Hey, we need you and I would be on a plane in an hour or two at that location fixing something. Wow. And that gave me the exposure of not just talking to people over the phone, but giving presentations of why something failed, who is the blame, how to prevent in the future. And these weren't just two people in it. These were c suites, regional corporate technology heavyweights in the room that would have to not only break it down of where it went wrong, but how it went wrong, and how to prevent it. And make sure that it was extremely accessible to the person who was the CTO to the to the admin in the room to make sure everyone understood, and at the same time, be delicate enough to not to throw someone under the bus, including the company.

Tim Bourguignon 22:29
This is what you have to tell me like I'm five and at the same time. Explain me in details as if I knew exactly what how this thing is built.

Wesley Faulkner 22:39

Tim Bourguignon 22:40
Yeah. Okay, yeah, empathy all the way.

Wesley Faulkner 22:43
And if something failed, because they plug something into the wrong thing, I can't say you screwed up. I can say somehow this happened. Yeah. Okay, I see what you mean. So I had to do like blameless explanations. That's where like, I think I cut my teeth initially on the phone talking to Joe schmoes. And it people who knew nothing and people who are experts, and then presenting ideas, from both abstract to actual, real implications of data loss for most for multimillion dollar piece of equipment that we installed. And to be able to do that under pressure and at a moment's notice. So I think that in terms of my career, and the progression of it, that helped me really in the relating to people relating to situations and being able to explain technology that helped me eventually get a job at AMD. So I was on a plane twice a week at that time, and none of it planned. And so I was exhausted. So I transitioned out of that role into AMD, as a product development engineer. And my experience with hardware and dealing with complex people pretty much helped me Ace the interview and get that job. And David cubot is the manager that hired me. And I got to say that without him I would not gotten in the door. He had faith in me because I had never done product development at all. But he had, he saw the passion that I had. And he took a risk to really put his reputation online to get me hired. And so I owe a lot to him. By the way, my my tenure at Dell lasted all of six years. So with continued progression, and I started at AMD. And that was five and a half years of being a product development engineer. At the time when I was hired, Intel had Intel vive Do you remember vive v IV this rings a bell but

Tim Bourguignon 24:44
I cannot put any any concept behind it.

Wesley Faulkner 24:47
Exactly. It wasn't very successful. So AMD competing with Intel, came up with this thing called AMD live Li ve with an exclamation mark. Get it can't drop the exclamation mark. So AMD live because they sound the same. But the initiative was basically to make a home entertainment PC, you would have video calling you would have recording, you would have a media browser. So you can look at your, your, your video and your song collection on your computer, you can put a TV tuner card and use a remote control to use Windows Media Center to watch and record your video TV broadcasts. So that's what I was in charge of. I remember going through the interview process and then hearing about this programs. And yeah, I think I could do that. And then the first day, I remember my first day I walked into the office of my manager, I said, Okay, so how do we get started? How would you decide what we're going to include? And his answer shook me to the bone? His answer was, that's what we hired you for. I turned around, walked out and then got to work, help putting the plan together of figuring out bug tracker figure out how do we bend vendors into different categories of how they do support is this a gold, bronze or silver level partnership, all of the stuff that I worked with marketing, and worked with engineering to get settled. And this initially initiative grew to the point where we're doing software in house. And that's also kind of like where I got more experience into how to actually make a software program, not just making a program work, but like software product in terms of getting it all the pieces working together. This was not too long after the API acquisition at AMD. So we we made software that would really tax the CPU, and the GPU to make sure that there's a reason to upgrade. So we it's like one of those things where like, we intentionally made it bloated. So that you would have to get a better GPU or a better processor, because if you're not a gamer, why did at that time, it didn't make sense to buy like a decked out computer. And so basically, we were making a case for that. And we had to work our I had to work closely with the API team, just to make sure that we can optimize the drivers for the processors, and they were in Canadian company, they're nice people, but they operated differently than AMD formally. And so I had to navigate that big company taking over a smaller company and telling them what to do kind of politics that happens in a company, you know, the company culture is just not the same. And that's kind of like, but at the same time, I'm sitting in engineering with the developers, we're talking about problems. We're talking about solutions, we're talking about how to get things done. And I loved talking to them. I love doing that. I also loved being outgoing. And that put me into social media and social media marketing. And that's, that's where I started one job after the other after your other, working with these communities. I worked at Atlassian. I worked for name chief. I even worked for this agency that did marketing, and I handled the whole Twitter account for a really big brand. But each job and each role, that empathy that came from doing tech support, always stayed with me, always still does. And I really, I fought hard for the community. For every community role that I had. I listened to them, I represented them in the room. And eventually, in 2017, or 2018, a friend of mine really admired my marketing experience. And that's how they knew me. But then they saw that I had a technical background. And they tapped me on the shoulder and say, Hey, we're going to start up, Devereaux, in my division, here at IBM, we think you'd be perfect. Would you like to do it? And I said, Yes. And I help architect how deverill was handled as an advocate. They're their first advocate for IBM Systems. Now, to be clear, IBM had plenty of advocates before me, but this was the first underneath the marketing. org. So they themselves were being introduced the notion as as well as I and and I started working hard to really learn and, and immerse myself in what being a Developer Advocate really meant and how they should operate and what are the philosophies and then I took a lot of my community building skills into that and understanding how to actually relate to people. And of course, my experience with being an AMD and all these other companies sitting next to engineers and developers. is understanding more day to day what they deal with and the problems that they tackle and the bugs that come up? And how do they really, really have to get through the minutiae of delivering something on time and within spec. And so I really felt like I could relate to them. And that started my Developer Advocate journey. After I left IBM, one of the industry analysts that are out there that really kind of watched the industry gave me a huge endorsement, because I sent out a tweet saying, Hey, I'm looking for my next role after I left IBM, his name is James governor, and he is one of the cofounders of redmonk. And he saw me saw that message and say, Hey, you should hire Wesley. He's amazing. I never talked to him. I never had a conversation. And that's the first time that that I even saw him related to my name. So everything I was doing in public was being observed. And I didn't even know. And that started the piling on of, yes, hire Wesley hire Wesley, he'll be a great, he'll do a great job. I then was like, Wow, that is definitely the feedback and endorsement that I needed in, went to developer relations con, or dev REL con in 2019, met a lot of developer advocates, advocates there, I was able to actually swap stories and get their insights and really get a feel of the space. And they said, yeah, this is where you belong. You're one of us. And you just didn't know it until now. And then, after MongoDB, I'm now at daily as a developer advocate, and I'm loving it. And it is a really great enriching environment. And I'm really, I'm allowed to, like have conversations like this with you

Tim Bourguignon 31:46
today. You said, that's where you belong? Do you feel like it as well?

Wesley Faulkner 31:51
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Because when I started in social media, this was back in 22,008. Social media was a thing, but it wasn't the thing. No one really understood what it was people were doing it, maybe they had a title, maybe that title meant something, but it usually didn't. And everyone was just figuring it out. Deborah was a little bit mature when I entered it. But I still think there's a there's a lot of that in there, where you have to make your own rules. You have to find your own place. And I love that I'm dyslexic, I'm also has ADHD. And so my mind just generally thinks differently. So when I'm in an organization, and they said, this is how we do things, my first question is why. And if it doesn't make sense, I try to get rid of it. And I think when you're dealing with the spaces where the rules are kind of fuzzy, I do better, I do better in those spaces. Because I know what's right. And I know how to navigate those spaces, I may not be able to explain it exactly. But I have this intuition that, you know, guided by empathy, guided by hearing everyone's pain points, allows me to feel my way through things, I understand what you mean, what would be your definition of developer advocacy, developer advocacy in my mind is to the community, you represent the company, and to the company, you represent the community. So you take the needs, and you make sure that you are the connector between those. And so that company goals and execution can be informed by the people that they serve. And then when you talk to the community, you hear if that is indeed the case, you hear what you can do better, and then you just start that cycle all over again. So there's different ways of doing that. There's different ways of reaching out to people. I am of the camp of the company that I'm with provides a solution. And I tried to find the people who need that solution, instead of just trying to convince everybody that we are the best for everything, which I think hurts more than it helps.

Tim Bourguignon 33:57
How do you go about finding the right persons for that

Wesley Faulkner 34:01
one, I get on podcasts like yourself, talk to the community. And I make sure that I share my story, my journey too. And my experience and my personality. I think technology right now is at a point where it's more accessible to more people. So a developer could be someone work writing, writing assembly, or someone just doing PHP or someone thinking hacking on Python or just doing like a PowerShell script. I mean, there are different kinds of quote unquote, developers. And I think that when there's such an abundant amount of people doing their own thing, bringing a bit of personality, bringing, I've heard a bit of myself to the mix. Let's the people who I aligned with find me and I think vice versa when when I try to be in the spaces where these people gather. I think I'm able to find them too. Yeah, that's that's something that that's still I would say puzzle puzzle is not the right word but but interests me is this role of developer advocacy is very much in between in between everything is you're representing the company? Yes. But

Tim Bourguignon 35:11
you're representing the community. So are you? Are you part of the company? Are you part of the community? And, and it can be quite, quite easy to push you on the other side and say, well, but you're not one of us. You're you're one of the others. So of course, you're saying this, of course, you're saying that. And so I picture this role as really treading the thin line and the difficult situation of really having to be on both side and got there more than two sides at all time. And that is probably very hard to really, yeah. Speak every language is at the same time, I would say,

Wesley Faulkner 35:51
Yeah, that makes sense. It does. It does. And I think the key value of a good organization that can do this well, is an organization organization, that vile values truthfulness, I think if you are an organization that has like a dev REL vanity role, which you're just a glorified salesperson, you kind of have to be disingenuous to the community and say, Hey, I think I just got to sail internally, and I'm going to work this angle until I can get them to buy. But if you if the company supports that culture, that's what you're going to get. If the Koch company supports transparency, openness, that kind of thing, then it wouldn't put you in the place where you have to lie, you can be open saying I don't know the answer, or that is on the roadmap, or that is not on the roadmap, or we don't plan on doing that feature. And just be honest about it externally. And internally, if you say the customers really hate this onboarding, or the tracking that we have on our homepage is really invasive. If they're open to honest, this honest honesty and open conversations, then you can have those things and just kind of be true to yourself in both cases. And it You said at daily you're are you're part of the marketing department. I was part of marketing in IBM, but when I went to my videos under engineering, and daily is a smaller company. And so we just have a deverill department that goes directly to the CEO.

Tim Bourguignon 37:16
Yeah, but that's that's exactly what I was getting at is I've had many developer advocates on the show previously, and it's always interesting to see where they are or who they report to. If it's more marketing, if it's more engineering, if it's on sales, or if it's a different department in itself. And I wonder what what flair it brings to the the way people do developer relations? Depending on where they where they hooked up?

Wesley Faulkner 37:46
Yeah, it's usually tied to either measurement or money, or both. So if you're under sales, then they really see how much sales dev REL does. And dev advocacy, if you're under marketing, how many leads are you able to send them to the, to that funnel? If if you're under engineering, it's a lot of code samples. And maybe even they'll track how many signups to the website or how many usage of the API there, there's different ways of measuring it depending on where you are. And let's let's not be misguided and think that we all don't work for a company. Ultimately, sales is where everyone reports into. Because if the company isn't making any sales, then you don't make any money. But it doesn't need to be a direct line. And I think how many points there are between you and that sale, the more that you can stick in, the better in terms of being able to do your job. But if there are less points between those two things, there's a lot more pressure. And I think that can really, really make doing advocacy really hard.

Tim Bourguignon 38:57
How do you measure measure your success? If you're a separate department? And without real leverage on selling things? Or the amount of leads? How do you measure your impact?

Wesley Faulkner 39:12
I personally think if if you come down to it difference between expectations and reality, the wider the gap, the worse off you are. So my company really wants me to be developer focus. And so when I talk to a developer, and they're able to get what they need from me, and they get what they expect, that's basically a win on my part, that if they are satisfied, if they're happy, then I've done my job. So satisfaction, customer SAT, NPS, whatever you want to call it, but I measure my success by happiness. That

Tim Bourguignon 39:53
kind of makes sense, though, the person you're talking to so if they're happy and then you probably do did a good job. Yeah, but But Andrea, I'm trying to put myself in the shoes of, of a CTO or co creating a new dev rel, or developer advocacy group and saying, Well, what will I get from that, though kind of hard to picture? Yeah, some some happy customers. Yes, but worth the effort.

Wesley Faulkner 40:23
here's the here's the deal. When I was at IBM, basically, what I was doing was being in the spaces where IBM wasn't. Customer conversations are happening all the time, sometimes about your product, sometimes about your vertical, who knows, maybe a partner, maybe even a competitor. If you're not having someone in the room, or in that window, or on that website, that's conversation that you're not part of. And not just participation, but you're not even monitoring, having a live body or having a person, this is just the online space, there is a physical spaces where this is happening. But having a person there, to be able to say, Hey, I know you say that this is hard. This is a solution that will work for you, you are helping that person, and you're helping your company. If they are saying I ran into this problem, and you're there to hear that and you're saying, here's the solution, you just reduce the headache on that customer, and you made the product that the company makes that much easier for that person in that scenario. If someone is talking about talking about a competitor in hearing why it's the best, and you're in the room, hearing that conversation, and you know that your product doesn't have that feature, that's useful information for the company. So if you need to justify Developer Relations, that means that is it important to hear what your customers are saying? Is it important to really engage with them and solve their problems in a meaningful way to them? And is it important to hear what is the hot new, like trend, as it's happening, instead of buying an analyst report, that might be three months old, where you can use those three months to actually be coding into that cutting that feature into your product.

Tim Bourguignon 42:09
Mm hmm. So that means you, you're not only with your customers, you're also trying to seek places where you will find people with similar problems, but are not yet your customers, and see how they are dealing with their problems. And if you could then help them with your product or not with your product, but help them in any way and then introduce basically the the idea of your company in the picture.

Wesley Faulkner 42:37
Yeah, I would say the synergy. Like I mentioned this, in my journey, what I do is not just a job is my personality, and is kind of where I'm magnetically attracted to doing. And so. So I'm in these spaces, both as a person and as an employee, and thus makes me more of a community native than a person that is just doing a search and then dive bombing a chat room with product stuff. And so being embedded in a community is not something that you do once it's has to be a way of living and a way of like interacting. So, yeah, I think you do need to not just learn about the community, but you have to be part of it, too.

Tim Bourguignon 43:28
Yeah, it really sounds like you find your sweet spot where you can be yourself and and do that job, but it's basically basically being yourself.

Wesley Faulkner 43:37
Absolutely. I think that's a dream, right?

Tim Bourguignon 43:39
Isn't it is just one one thing nagging you off, um, you spoke a lot about hardware and low level stuff. Do you miss that? Oh, I

Wesley Faulkner 43:49
still Tinker. Yeah, I have a Adafruit subscription that I get every month. So yeah, I still mess with that stuff. I have less time to do that. And I am feeling like a little bit further away. But like, if we start talking about hardware, I will nerd out a little bit more like when AMD bought Xilinx. I was like, Oh my gosh, when the M one came out, I really nerd out about that stuff. But I mean, I miss it, but it just it doesn't mean that it's not something that is a void. It's just more like some other stuff. Field my passion spot so I feel very happy for what I do and who I am.

Tim Bourguignon 44:31
Gotcha. Gotcha. Awesome. Um, would you have any advice for the newcomers in our industry to get on the right tracks with their life and find find maybe their sweet spot like like you did?

Wesley Faulkner 44:43
I would say what's helped me is I mentioned how I got the job at computer nerds how I got the job at AMD. I'm sorry, like centar being able to really like put yourself out there ask the question, Can I do this Will you allow me to do this and try to enter it knowing that if things don't go well, you'll still learn something. So it's not a failure. So if you want to speak at a conference, go ahead and put in a proposal, if you want to submit a paper, do that if you want to write write a blog post, if you want to connect with that person on Twitter and just say, Hey, I would love to work with you. Do it go out in the limb. It's It's so many people think that things are impossible, that many don't do it. It's the small few who actually go on a limb and do it that actually stand out. So if you wrote a book today, you're like, I couldn't write a book. There's so many people who don't even try. So there is there is worth in the trying, there's there is value in the doing. So just do it. Amen.

Tim Bourguignon 45:49
Thank you very much, Willie. Oh, thank you. Um, where should we send the listeners, they wanted to start a discussion with you? Where would be the best place to do that?

Wesley Faulkner 45:59
I'm on LinkedIn. But the best place to reach me is Twitter, at Wesley 83 on Twitter. Usually, if I get a LinkedIn request, I like to see what is it that you want. But if you're on Twitter, just send me a message. And I'll say, Hey, I kind of like really curate my, my LinkedIn profile, so that I'm really connected just to people that I actually know. But on Twitter, I connect with any and everybody So reach out to me,

Tim Bourguignon 46:22
they're awesome. Anything you want to plug in, of course, I

Wesley Faulkner 46:25
got to talk about my company that I work for daily dot co. So daily does a video API so that you can include video in your applications pretty easily. So when people think of video, they think of like zoom, Skype, where you have a box of people talking to each other. And don't get me wrong, you can do that with daily if you wanted to. But we have a fully fledged featured API that allow you to integrate video into your applications the way that you want. Do you want someone in the square? Do you want them in a circle? Do you want them to follow your mouse, there's a there's one of our customers is get duck gi t duck. And they allow you to do pair programming. And there's a little bubble so you know who's working on what, and there's videos, so you can really communicate some of the nuances there. So that they're more than one way to get video into your application. And we're excited to enable all of these companies that are really, really embracing video, especially coming out of COVID. And it's and it's free for we have a free account, you don't even need to put in a credit card. So feel free to play with it.

Tim Bourguignon 47:34
So let's do that. Wesley. Thank you very much. It's been a blast.

Wesley Faulkner 47:38
Thank you for having me. This has been awesome. Thank you for letting me tell my story.

Tim Bourguignon 47:42
It's my pleasure. And this has been another episode of developer's journey. And we'll see each other next week for a final episode in 2020. Bye. This is Tim from a different time and space with a few comments to make. First, get the most of those developer's journey by subscribing to the podcast with the app of your choice, and get the new episodes out to magically right on the air. The podcast is available on all major platforms. Then, visit our website to find the show notes with all the links mentioned by our guests, the advices they gave us their book references and so on. And while you're there, use the comments to continue the discussion with our guests and with me or reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn. Then, a big big thanks to generous Patreon donors that helps me pay the hosting bills. If you can spare a few coins, please consider a small monthly donation. Every pledge however small counts. Finally please do someone you love a favor and tell them about the show today and help them on their journey.