My first (big) breakthrough in the tech startup scene?

It had zero correlation with dev skills and everything to do with presenting on how to solve business problems with techology.

A short story of my "Drupal Means Business" talk. (thread)
First, none of this would have happened without the mentorship from my late friend Rick Nashleanas.

I attended his local presentation on a similar topic, and I immediately approached him asking how we amplify this message to other developers/agencies. /2
Rick's passion was contagious, and rather than try to take my ideas... he volunteered (volun-told?) me to help with the upcoming Drupal conference in Denver. And he specifically asked for me to run an all-day stage called "Drupal Means Business". /3
Up until that point, I had never presented at a local meetup OR a local camp. So to be flung into running a track at a 3,000 person conference was daunting, but Rick had confidence in me (and he frankly needed to get a butt in seat to get it done! /4
I took this opportunity very seriously.

While not trained in copywriting, I produced all marketing materials and supported advertising.

I also made a 40-minute presentation showcasing where tech adds the most leverage to achieve business value (and where it sometimes fails) /5
While the audience size for my talk wasn't large, a few things stood out:

* I had 3-4 prospective clients approach me with business cards.
* I had a job offer within 5 minutes of walking off stage.
It turns out my conversation struck a cord with many (both client and vendor) who had been burned in the past... and there was a need for more engineers that could span the tech-business divide /7
For several years, I was able to cite that presentation when building rapport and trust with incoming clients at my new career. We were even able to send them a link to the presentation so they could learn our style and approach. /8
Several key benefits from this experience:
* I went from an outsider to known in a large open source community.
* I joined a team that worked on larger and more complex projects.
* I became known for a high leverage intersection between tech + biz value
I share this because I have recently had many inbound requests for help either breaking into a new field/community OR leveling up.

What I just described is not an exact playbook, but there are some lessons to draw from it that can be repeated. /10
1. If you're already having success in your field, there are many others that can benefit.
2. Even if you're not a known quantity, they only way to become that is to stand up, speak out, and share.
3. Enthusiasm is contagious. If you're excited/motivated, others want to help /11
4. There is an unending pile of work to be done in tech and open source. If you are able to help a busy person, they will give you as much as you can handle.
5. You gotta jump. I didn't believe I was ready or could be helpful, and yet I was clearly wrong. /12
I gave this talk over 8-years ago, and while it was the first of many breakthroughs, it turbocharged my career in calculable (better salary, faster promotions) and incalcuable ways (more ability to make an impact, respect within the community, etc). /13
A subtle point I hope to make... these opportunities exist all around us, but they are not always obvious or easy.

But if you keep looking and keep leaping, you can find multiple ways to have your next breakthrough. /fin

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