I get the question what do you do for a living often, and it’s not always easy to answer. Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Peter Awad on his new show Slow Hustle Podcast to discuss how I incorporate slowness into my hectic life (more on that in a future post). During the show, we talked a bit about what being a GoDaddy evangelist is all about. Here’s an excerpt from that interview. I’ve lightly edited for readability (still stream of consciousness, you’ve been warned).
Mendel: Yeah so the funny answer I like to give — and I’ve stopped giving this too much because it tends to give people the wrong impression — but the first answer I used to give is, “I drink beer with nerds for a living”. And it’s true, that’s a component of my job.
Basically the idea is that we want feedback from the developer, designer and entrepreneurial communities– feedback that we haven’t sought in the past nearly as much as we are now. So, my job is to go out into the community and talk with developers, designers and entrepreneurs and find out what it is that we can fix. What it is that we can do better. What it is that we can improve or add to our offerings. And this could be support stuff, this could be performance stuff, this could be UX stuff on our site– But also product modifications or PR related things.
Getting feedback from our community is super important, [and so is] contributing back to the community. So whether it’s on online forums, whether it’s giving a talk in a particular community — I gave a talk at Word Camp Toronto and it was about Schema and how to use Schema in your website — It’s a way that we can give back. And giving back sponsorship dollars and things like that. So a bunch of ways that we can give back, and then make sure that the feedback is heard, acted upon and share back what we have done as a result of the feedback that we got from the community. So that’s my job as evangelist. It’s big when you think about the fact that we are dealing with an entire globe of humans and developers and entrepreneurs, literally in every corner of the earth.
Peter: Are you leading the charge in this and there are some other folks that are helping you with it, [or] are you solo on it? What’s that position look like?
Mendel: Yeah so, in particular local and community building and engagement, I am heading that effort up. My boss works on content delivery and also works on a lot of the strategy with me for how we are going about hitting the right places, making sure that we are having the greatest impact that we can have with the community and getting the most feedback that we can get. So there are a couple of us.
We also have a ton of people inside the company, and this is another part, another facet of the job is to bring people from within the company that want to talk about what we’re doing, the awesome things we are working on. Bring that back to the community or to contribute to the community. Or bring feedback, right. So the idea is to also help mobilize those people. Our developers and designers within our company that want to contribute, that haven’t been able, well haven’t thought that they had the opportunity in the past to do that. And so we actually have a huge team if you think about it that way, people that are just super excited and energetic about what we are doing and our approach now.
Peter: So you are clearly passionate about your role at GoDaddy as evangelist, what motivates you man. I mean what motivates you to hustle that damn much?
Mendel: I don’t believe that you should give anything less than two hundred percent. I don’t believe that you should ever compromise when it comes to providing awesome experiences if you are in a service-based company. When I was running UILife [startup], I didn’t believe there was any outcome except success, you know. And I still don’t.
I think that what drives me is this… it sounds super corny but it’s totally true. What drives me is the, the developers and the designers and the entrepreneurs and the startups that are putting their blood, sweat and tears into these things every damn day and they need providers that genuinely care about them, right? Genuinely are trying to solve their problems. Help them with their issues; help them be awesome at what they are doing. I’m not going to say that every one of those miles I was super excited about hopping on another plane because, after the seventh hour on the plane from the US to Bulgaria or wherever, it gets tedious. But when I think about the people that we’re helping and I think about the reason why I’m in the air that much and the reason why I’m going to all these places, there’s no question in my mind that I’m amped up about it, that we can help them. That’s what’s awesome about it for me.
I’m super passionate about it personally because I used to be a developer. I still am a developer, but I used to be a developer working on my own project. And my paycheck was a direct result of how well I did, how good I was at my craft, and how often my technology partners came through for me and I know how important that is. So I’m amped up about making sure that we are that technology provider for everybody. You know, small businesses, developers, designers, entrepreneurs, startups, we have awesome infrastructure. We’re building awesome products and I’m excited.