Passion… like magnets, it can attract or repel

September 10, 2019

Author Sue Smith

Sue works in developer learning and education tech, based in Glasgow, Scotland.

Tamao Nakahara and Baruch Sadogursky speaking at DevRelCon San Francisco 2019

Tamao Nakahara and Baruch Sadogursky

Many people are drawn to dev rel because they feel passionate about technology, but this passion can create problems when engaging with community members. In this session from DevRelCon San Francisco 2019, Tamao Nakahara and Baruch Sadogursky explore how to make constructive connections with developers.


Tamao: We’re going to talk about how we both are very passionate people. Anybody who knows us knows that we are quite passionate. And what’s great about passion is that, you know, it can be energizing for you. You’re excited about something. You like to be able to express that.

And it’s even more exciting when you can infuse that to other people, right? Like, you want to share this thing, you don’t just want it by yourself. You love to have the fact that you have a community of people who can share in that passion and then maybe if you know about something that they don’t, you want to share that. And so, when it’s something that you love, it’s something that you’re putting out there and, hopefully, you feel that they get the joy that you get from that thing that you love.

And if you’re in your dev rel or DX, sometimes you get paid to do it. So, some of you might’ve been here because you were like us and someone said, “You might want to be a dev advocate or a community manager. You seem to be pretty excited.”

Baruch: That’s the best way to hire a developer advocate. You just look for the most passionate people about your technology. That’s your best pick.

Tamao: Yes. You get them jazzed. But beware, some of you who know us may know that we might be overbearing. We get way too excited and we’re not aware of what’s going on on the other side of the conversation, if it’s even a conversation. And we’re still learning and growing. We make these mistakes all the time and we thought we’d be good examples because the people who know us well will probably be rolling their eyes like, “Yes. Sometimes you overdo it. So, don’t let your passion get in the way.”

Is there anything you want to share?

Baruch: Yeah, no the next slide, is the one that I share.

Tamao: All right. So, we’re going to share three scenarios in which hopefully if it either connects with you as the doer or the receiver of certain types of behaviors, hopefully it connects, on how passion might repel and then we’ll try to conclude with one in which it attracts and creates a connection.

Baruch: Yeah. So, the back story of this talk is I proposed it and called it, “Dev Rel: You’re Overdoing It.” So, that’s kind of the idea. And the first stories are true, they’ve been my experience for many years, and it really took me a long time to look at myself from, kind of, from aside and realize that I’m doing something wrong. And, hopefully, it won’t take you years because we will just show you now what not to do and then you won’t do it anymore.

Booth crawl

Tamao: All right, let’s get into it. So, scenario one, we thought maybe we’d do a booth crawl. So, I’ll be the person coming.

Baruch: And I’m working the booth. I have a t-shirt.

Tamao: Oh, I got an empty cup. Oh, you guys have beer?

Baruch: Oh yeah, we have beer, absolutely.

Tamao: Cool. Yeah. Oh, what’s that shirt? What is that?

Baruch: Oh, that’s a cool t-shirt, right?

Tamao: Yeah.

Baruch: That’s a Daenerys frog bone.

Tamao: Oh, frog.

Baruch: Oh, that’s because we are JFrog

Tamao: Oh, JFrog.

Baruch: Have you heard about JFrog?

Tamao: No. What do you guys do?

Baruch: Oh, so, we have bunch of really cool products. You might have heard about JFrog Artifactory, that’s the most famous one. And it’s a universal artifact repository. It’s the thing that you use when you have artifacts and you need to store them and promote the artifacts from, you know, between quality gates through different repositories all the way from code to production.

Tamao: Okay. End scene. Okay. So…

Baruch: I didn’t have to act. That’s what I do.

Tamao: Yes. So, here we go. So, here is an example where maybe the fan talks at the person, right? And maybe isn’t aware that there’s actually no engagement, there’s no connection. And, you know, it’s very much a one-way conversation.

So, I was trying to act the part of, you know, sometimes you might notice the receiver stops making eye contact, isn’t really connecting with you. Maybe they lower their voice, they kind of turn their body away. Maybe they’re trying to get their cell phone, trying to find a friend that might help them out, get them out of the situation. Right?

Be curious

So, some basic leadership skills you might think about, you know, be curious. Instead of talking at the person, you know, find out where they come from, what problems are they trying to solve, what are their interests? Maybe they just want a beer. And, you know, try to be aware of body language, facial expressions, such.

Baruch: Thank you for those great tips I’ve learned. And I’m ready for the next one.

Tamao: Okay. All right. So, here. Scenario two. Back at the booth crawl. So… Oh, you guys have a keg? Oh yeah. Y’all got to fill up my beer. You guys have beer?

Baruch: Yeah. Just a second.

Tamao: What is that shirt?

Baruch: Oh, right. That’s Daenerys frog bone because we’re JFrog.

Tamao: Oh, that’s a frog?

Baruch: Yeah, we have t-shirts, awesome t-shirts with frogs and stuff. Are you a developer?

Tamao: Oh, because… your company’s frog. What is it?

Baruch: Yeah, JFrog

Tamao: Oh, JFrog. Okay. Yeah.

Baruch: Are you a developer?

Tamao: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I do little and do this thing called operations. There’s not really a job…

Baruch: So, it’s like a little bit of devs and a little bit of ops?

Tamao: Yeah, there’s not really job title for it yet, but, kind of, extra. Yeah, sure.

Baruch: Yeah. Okay. So, well, what technologies are you working with? Kubernetes?

Tamao: Oh, yeah. We’ll be kind of looking at containers, some Kubernetes, Jenkins.

Baruch: Oh, Jenkins. And what do you do with the artifacts that Jenkins produce?

Tamao: I don’t know, maybe there’s some people on my team, I’m not quite sure. I could ask…

Baruch: Are you going to deploy them to the cloud? Like maybe AWS, maybe.

Tamao: Yeah, some cloud, I think AWS. Yeah. But that’s kind of…

Baruch: Oh, so how do you deploy? What do you do with your artifacts?

Tamao: I’ll ask my friend. I don’t know. I kind of work on some different things.

Baruch: Yeah. What, what are you working with?

Tamao: Oh, well, yeah, I work with some of the apps, but then, you know, we try to see how…

Baruch: How do you do them?

Tamao: Well, we use some paths, like, I think maybe we use, yeah, we use Heroku on the back end. Yeah. All right. End scene.

Okay. So, in some of these examples, we said we were asking questions, but it was a little bit more of an interrogation, right?

Like, maybe this was good barrage almost felt like he was qualifying me as lead. He was, like…

Baruch: She is not a qualified lead by the way. She has no idea.

Tamao: I’m not a qualified lead. I’ll share just three weeks ago, like I said, we’re on our learning curve. I met this person who was asking about software and thought this software could do these magical things.

Don’t interrogate

And I honestly thought I was helping because I was just, I was trying to problem solve. I was like, “What do you mean when you use that word?” Or like, “What do you mean by that feature?” And I was just digging in and digging in and I was completely clueless that she was just trying to run away from me. And I was like, “Well, but I’m trying, you said you were trying to find this software.”

So, yes. Like, interrogation. And then in case, yes, we were trying to show how I’m backing up, I’m backing up and he’s like,

Baruch: Just waiting for you to fall off the stage. Maybe next one.

Tamao: Not aware of…

Baruch: Maybe next one.

Tamao: …my personal space.

So, again, you know, being aware of how the receiver might be shutting down. And sometimes, maybe if you’re a very confident person, you might not be aware that when you’re asking a lot of questions, you know, if the other person doesn’t know the answer, they might feel insecure about not knowing and, you know, that might feed into a lot of their self-criticism or what have you.

So, even though you might be just trying to get some information to try to help, you know, it might be triggering some of those things to be aware. And again, yes, invading space.

Ask with the intention to really listen

So, in terms of the leadership skills, again, be curious, ask, but also ask with the intention to really listen and to hear. And some of you probably heard about mirroring skills, so mirroring skills people talked about literally it’s like mirroring the body language of the other person.

It might not be that specific. It could be also just mirroring the energy level, right? Mirroring how you occupy space and, you know, and sometimes if you’re the more energetic person, you might bring the energy up and it’s good, but if you’re aware that you’re not, then stop.

Baruch: Okay. So, I heard you. I know now that I need to ask, but also listen. Let’s do that.

Tamao: All right. Scenario three.

Baruch: That’s my favorite by the way.

Tamao: Oh, I need some beer. Oh, you guys have a keg. Oh, cool. Yeah. The beer crawl. Yeah. Cool. Booth crawl.

Baruch: Whatever.

Tamao: Oh, what’s that shirt? Is that a frog?

Baruch: It’s, yeah, it’s Daenerys frog bone, we’re JFrog.

Tamao: Oh, cool.

Baruch: You’ve heard about JFrog?

Tamao: I have a salamander. Yeah, I’m part of the Bin Boots. You ever…the Bin Boots? It’s the Boots for binariess. Yeah. I love them.

Baruch: Yeah. They’re, like, our competitors…

Tamao: Oh, are they really?

Baruch: But we’re like 10 times better.

Tamao: Oh, well, I don’t know. I feel like we use Bin Boots, it seems pretty good…

Baruch: Come on.

Tamao: …and we got salamanders. Cool.

Baruch: Yeah, I know but the only good thing about them is their logo. Seriously.

Tamao: Oh, well, I mean it’s true. Not all software is perfect, but I mean, we’ve been making it work. You know, we’ve done some customizations, but actually, I run the user group for Bin Boots in my city.

Baruch: Seriously, come on.

Tamao: Yeah. That’s, that’s actually how they sent me the shirt. It’s like, I’m a community organizer.

Baruch: So, you need to organize a community to get a t-shirt? I can give you one for free.

Tamao: Okay. Yeah. That sounds good, but I’m pretty…

Baruch: They don’t even have half the features that we do.

Tamao: Oh, well, maybe, I don’t know. I don’t really know your features but ours seem pretty good. It seems to be working.

Baruch: Can they do active HA clusters?

Tamao: Maybe? I think they do. I think they do. Yeah.

Baruch: I’m pretty sure they don’t.

Tamao: Really because… I’ll have to ask my team but I’m pretty sure that they do.

Okay. End scene. All right, so in this case, we had an example which found another person who had their own passions and, you know, you don’t want to turn into a situation where you’re competitive or combative.

We’re all going to be in spaces where everybody’s sort of overlapping and yet we might have open source areas where we can work together. So, it doesn’t help to do that.

Also, in terms of maybe judgment, being dismissive, you know, I think there can be a lot of ways that you’re saying things verbally, but your body language might be actually communicating that you’re kind of like, “Ah,” you know, “Well, if you’re not smart enough or experienced enough to understand how great my technology is, then I’ll just dismiss you.”

Create a connection

So, obviously that’s not creating a connection. So, in this case of sort of showing the receiver is sort of, you know, attacking my fandom, I feel judged and instead of maybe making a connection, then, you know, suddenly I’m becoming defensive and trying to say like, “I think my technology is just as good as yours.”

So, in this case, right, we want to make sure that our passions and the passions of others are our way to connect, build relationships, especially in our space, a lot of times we might in the future be working together or working for each other.

And so, it doesn’t really help to create animosity over these types of things. And we are different but equal. Right? You know, respect the differences of others and different passions and try to nurture their passion.

Baruch: All right. Okay. Now I learned a lot and now I’m really ready for the next one.

Tamao: Excellent. All right, so here’s our example of one, hopefully, more positive passion scenario. Cool. Oh, you guys have beer? Cool. Yeah, I just got to the beer crawl. Yeah.

Cool. Oh, what is that? Oh, thank you. Now I feel really good. Yes. I want to talk about this frog on your shirt.

Baruch: Booze makes everything better.

Tamao: Yes, booze booze. Oh yeah. What’s that frog?

Baruch: Oh, it a cool t-shirt, right?

Tamao: I’ve never seen that before.

Baruch: It’s Deanerys frog bone, you’ve heard of it?

Tamao: Okay. Cool, thanks. Yeah.

Baruch: Yeah, it’s because we like frogs because our name is JFrog. Have you heard about JFrog?

Tamao: No, I haven’t heard, but look at me, I got salamander just like, you.

Baruch: Nice.

Tamao: Have you heard Bin Boots?

Baruch: Yeah.

Tamao: Its like boots for binaries.

Baruch: They are actually our competitors. How does it work for you?

Tamao: Oh, yeah. Actually it’s pretty good. You know, we’ve had to do some, you know, plugins and stuff. We had to build some stuff, but overall, like, it just works, right. You know, we set it up and we don’t really have to think about it.

Baruch: That is the best software. It just works.

Tamao: Yeah. In fact, I run our local user group because I just got so excited about it.

Baruch: People are excited about it and it’s good.

Tamao: Yeah. Yeah. We got some speakers, they gave me the shirts. Pretty cool. Yeah.

Baruch: Nice. Nice. And I’ll tell you what, they are just great for like whatever they’re doing. If you grow and you have other needs and now you have a t-shirt, you will remember to check us out. For example, if you’ll one day need an active activate your cluster, check us out.

Tamao: Yeah. I’ll tell my coworkers to come by and get some more shirts. These are pretty cool.

Baruch: Oh, yeah. Send them all over. We have tons of them. We don’t want to ship them back. On an unrelated matter I give a talk in two hours about a measurement in DevOps.

Tamao: Oh, really?

Baruch: Maybe you or your folks want to come and hear about it.

Tamao: Yeah, we were actually just talking about how like, you know, we feel like we don’t have good metrics and we don’t know what tools to use. And so, wait, so when’s your talk, you said a couple of hours?

Baruch: In two hours here in the… room upstairs.

Tamao: Oh, really? Cool. What’s your name?

Baruch: My name is Baruch.

Tamao: Cool, I’m Tamao.

Baruch: Good to meet you.

Tamao: Yeah, it’s cool to meet you. Yeah, maybe we’ll connect on Twitter or something. Yeah, I’ll definitely make it to your talk. I’ll tell my friends.

Baruch: I have business cards that say, “Chief sticker officer.”

Tamao: Oh, okay. Yeah. I have a spot on my laptop. I think I need some stickers. Yeah.

Baruch: There we go.

Tamao: Cool.

Baruch: Yeah, let me hook you up with some stickers.

Tamao: Thank you. All right. End scene. Thanks.

So, obviously, there are many different ways that that could go. That’s just one example, but hopefully, you saw, you’ve heard of the leadership skills such as active listening, you know, asking questions, and actually caring and responding, respecting spacial boundaries, creating a safe space for the conversation and mirroring the energy of the other person. Right?

Different but equal

And, in fact, when you don’t shut them down, their fandom and their energy will probably rise up and you could be equal. So, the receiver, continued to have eye contact, open body language, felt safe and actually started getting excited about the conversation. And so, again, right, it’s about building leadership. We’re different but equal and respecting those differences.

And then, of course, in a very dev rel or DX way, give them something that they want, you know, talk about, “Oh, hey. There’s this noncompetitive, there’s a topic that might interest you,” so that they remember the brand and they remember the people and are excited. So, with that, of course…

Baruch: Yeah, two very important household items. First, in the spirit of giving something, whoever understood my pitch in each and every one of the scenes should really come to this conference which is so much better than this one.

No, but jokes aside, JFrog SwampUP DevOps conference here in San Francisco. I can hook you up with a great discount, obviously. And also, not less important, I do have those t-shirts that I don’t want to carry back. So, if I have like maybe about 20 find me and I will be more than happy to share.

With that, Tamao, thank you very much for having me. Thank you for doing this stuff with me. It was great fun and thank you all.

Tamao: Thanks for listening.

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