Ask Me Anything

Ever wanted to ask me a question, personal or professional, but weren’t comfortable enough, for whatever reason, to do so directly? Here’s your chance with this AMA (Ask Me Anything) page where you can ask your question anonymously. So don’t waste more time, ask away!

      I’m still thinking about what’s next for me, but I only had bad experiences with startups, so there is a chance that I decide I’m done with startups as an employee. Maybe working for them as a contractor or freelance, but it certainly also mean to go back to medium to large companies. In that list, though, I wouldn’t work for Salesforce as I do not like the product at all. Amazon also is out of the scope: their interview style was created in a way that it’s impossible for people with ADHD affected by long-term memory issues. More on that in a blog post on ADHD I guess.
      Yes, I would, but I have no idea what else I could do with my experience and expertise. There is also the fact that I love doing the tasks involved in developer relations, and that I have golden handcuffs doing that specific role. So in other words, I’m open to see in which other roles I could have an impact by bringing my skills, and still be passionate about what I’m doing for work.
      I know exactly where you heard that and from whom: it’s crazy how people like to badmouth!

      I do not insist on flying business even if most of my peers and I think it should be the minimum for our line of work. Of course, I prefer flying business and I’ve done it a lot using my personal status points and my own money for business trips where I shouldn’t have to. I insist on flying premium economy though.

      I understand people flying once in a while do not mind flying economy, but when your work involves flying multiple times a year, and often multiple times a month, for the last 10 years, I think it’s the minimum a company can do when they really care about their employees. Flying economy is a pain for everyone, but even more for someone who is not skinny, nor short, who often have to work during the flight to prepare for an event and who is expected to perform on stage while networking with people at a conference in a different time zone for about 10-12 hours per day. I also have back problems and I’m not as young as I used to when I started to travel for work.

      If an employee had to drive a lot to visit customers, or partners, would you think it is a prima donna move, to want to use a car instead of being forced to only take public transit? Would it be a prima donna move if a machine learning engineer insists on having a proper computer with a better CPU, GPU and RAM instead of the really basic and not powerful laptop the company gave them to do their job? Traveling is a tool to help me do my job better: both economy and premium economy or business will bring me to the same destination, but the difference will be how I’ll get there, how it will affect my health, and how my employer care about my work, and myself.
      I want a company where my work and the impact I have is valued. A place which has a product I’m already passionate about or I can be once I take the time to learn about it. I need a place where open communication is part of the values, and asking or giving constructive feedback isn’t something that makes people uncomfortable or defensive. I absolutely want a place where I can continue to grow and stay for a longer time as I’m really tired of having to start over again…
      When the discussion about difficult times started. We were promised that no one would lose their job, but I should have known better. As for developer relations, I started to have some doubts when our work was dismissed, flagged as unimportant, or not a priority anymore. Still, it was a surprised it happened, but not a huge one when I think about it.
      I am! I’ve been laid off in a difficult time for people looking for work in the tech industry. Many companies are letting people go, and others are freezing their hiring. There are still a lot of possibilities out there, but I don’t want to end up in the first place I see, nor I want to just jump into finding the same exact role. I need time to think about my career.

      In addition to that, even if I was ready to interview right away, it takes time confirming a new role even when it’s easier for some people. Thanks to ADHD, I’ve never been super good at managing my money (for different reasons I’ll explain one day in a blog post about ADHD), but I was focusing recently on clearing my debts, which was going well, but didn’t leave me with a security blanket. The sad thing about that is that they gave me the worst “let go” package I ever had.
      I unfortunately lost my job five times. It’s a lot, even for the technology industry. At some point, you start to think that you are the problem, but even if it’s not a huge consolation, I can say with confidence that only once could have I been the artisan of my own demise.

      First time I got thank for my service was when I was a developer. The startup wasn’t being profitable, so the founder had to let everyone go. The only thing I have the right to say about the second time is that I wasn’t alone who lost his job, and it went to the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) who enforced employees’ law in the US: it was settled in our favor.

      The third time, I was working for a startup and the product was not ready for anyone to use without our help. Developer relations was unwillingly hurting the business so the decision to terminate my employment made total sense. Who wants to have a negative impact, right? Before this one, I was also working in a French startup. Unfortunately, I associate the end of my contribution to building developer relations at that company to scorched ego done by my bold, and loud personality. I always said that I’m not for everyone, but I forgot that even if everything you do have the goal of helping the company do better, it may not be well received.

      This time, the startup really need to focus strictly on sales, and standard lead generations to survive, so my team was let go. They acknowledged the good work we did, and the positive impact we had, but it is hard to sell the idea of medium to long-term impact to VCs when what they always want are the dollar signs, especially in these hard times.

      Unfortunately, developer relations is often the first department or team to either, be laid off, or lose head counts or budget for “more important” focuses. It is one negative side of developer relations. In addition to the job I’ve lost, I left others for these specific reasons. Right now I need to think about what’s next for me, as the only thing I ever wanted is a place where I can do what I love, what I’m good at, and where I can grow, and stay for a while, but devrel didn’t give me that in the last 10 years…
      So I’m lucky as it was never a big deal for me when I started public speaking, which doesn’t make me better than you, but make it a bit difficult to give really good advice for that question 🙂

      It depends on where this question is coming from. If it’s because you want to give your first talk, but didn’t confirm anything yet, I would say start smaller. Start by giving a talk at work for your colleagues during lunch time. After that, target a bit bigger and find a meetup where you can speak: user groups organizers are always looking for speakers since their events are usually every month. When you feel less frightened, you can think of speaking at a conference, but again, maybe start smaller.

      If you already have something schedule, or once you do, there are a couple of things I guess you could do. First, practices a lot: the better prepare you are, the less stressful it will be. Remember that YOU are the one on the stage, not the people in the room: it doesn’t make you better, but YOU are taking the risk, and they are not, so give yourself some credit for that. The more talk you will give, the easier it will become. Be also compassionate to yourself. First talks won’t be as good as they could be. You’ll forget things. Your code won’t work (that happens even if you have a lot of experience). You’ll speak too fast. You’ll finish too early. You won’t have time to share all your content. You will say stupid things. IT IS OK! Be nice to yourself.

      I wrote this article that doesn’t address stage fright, but contains a lot of tips for public speaking. They may help with the stress and anxiety https://fred.dev/publicspeaking/

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