Episode Show Notes & Transcript
- Pulumi: https://www.pulumi.com/
- Arrested DevOps: https://www.arresteddevops.com/
- 8bits.tv: https://8bits.tv
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/mattstratton
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mattstratton/
- speaking.mattstratton.com: https://speaking.mattstratton.com
- twitch.tv/Pulumi: https://twitch.tv/Pulumi
- 8bit.tv: https://8bit.tv
- duckbillgroup.com: https://duckbillgroup.com
Matty: You know, I was just wondering that myself, and I guess we’ll have to go back to the archives.
Corey: Yes, but that sounds like work, so we’re going to roll with it anyway.
Matty: Everyone who’s listening, go do the homework for us. And, like, just tweet and let us know what my job was last time.
Corey: And yell at us if we get it wrong, of course.
Matty: Yell at us if we get it right.
Corey: In the interest of being, well, I guess a little on the judgey side—because why not I tend to be good at that.
Matty: I was hoping to be on the judgey side on this show.
Corey: Oh, absolutely. You have a very strange career trajectory, in that—the companies you work for and how that winds up going back and forth. But when we first met, you were at Chef; and Chef, great company. And after that it was PagerDuty; great company.
Corey: And then it was IBM Hat, which I—was it Red Hat, was it IBM side?
Matty: For me, it was Red Hat.
It feels like it’s a very interesting trajectory. Now, this is speaking as a complete outsider, I’m going to assume that’s not how you view basically any characterization of any of those companies I’ve just named. How do you view it?
Matty: You know, I don’t know that I necessarily disagree with the way that you’ve put everything, but there’s some nuance and some interesting stuff when it comes to that. So, I’m going to specifically talk about the Red Hat thing; why did I leave PagerDuty? And one of the interesting things is, I actually had an offer from Pulumi at the time that I took the job from Red Hat. So, it actually took me a year to come and work at Pulumi. And the little bit of the short answer is Red Hat backed up a big truck of money. And we all have a price.
Matty: That didn’t matter, right? And I remember the CEO of PagerDuty—so Jen Tejada—at one of the sales kickoffs I was at, she said—you know, because salespeople, like, you might know this, like, the top sales reps in the company, they go on trips, they have all this stuff—and Jen said, you know, “I’ve got engineers here that are like, well, I don’t understand.” It’s like, “How come the salespeople get to go to Bermuda or do whatever?” And she’s like, “Would you like your paycheck to change every quarter based upon specifically what you did and have the stress of what have you done all this stuff? No? Okay, cool. Then you can keep”—you know, there’s a trade-off. So, the point of that was—
Matty: I think one of the things that, along those lines, I’ve have had conversations with people who work in different parts of technology, different parts of the business, who their long-term desire is to be a CEO, and I’m like, you really should go spend some time working in sales because most CEOs—again, this is blunt, but it’s true—if you think about it, what is the area of the business that they pay the most attention to? And I don’t mean, they don’t care about the other stuff, but who is the person on the executive team that the CEO is mostly joined at the hip with, and it’s your chief revenue officer, it’s your head of sales because you have to understand that, you have to understand pipeline, how that—you have to understand a lot of things as a CEO, but if you don’t know how sales works—it doesn’t mean know how to sell but know the ideas behind it. I mean, you should know how to sell, but you know what I mean?
Matty: It’s not just knowing how to sell, it’s understanding how a sales process works. That’s sort of the thing.
Corey: I’ll take it one step further beyond that, and that is that I believe that every professional is working in sales and is selling something, but not everyone’s aware of it“. Well, I’m an engineer, and I don’t do any sort of sales work.” Well, I hear about that from folks who are—“I have all these great ideas, but none of them ever get implemented.” Well, you’re not doing an effective job of selling the idea. “I keep getting put up for promotion and not getting it,” or, “I’m not doing well in job interviews.” Or, “I’m trying to get a raise and it just isn’t working for me.” And every job has elements of sales to it. I’d argue a lot of facets of modern life have sales elements to it.
Matty: They do and I think the reason that people get hung out—I agree with you; I could not agree with you more. I have a talk I used to give called “The Five Love Languages of DevOps” but it was really a talk about effecting organizational change, and you have to be a salesperson, right? But I think we have this—and this is a much larger topic because it comes into how people always want to distance themselves from sales—we have this thing in our head that when we think of sales, we think of tricky people. Shysters, right? Someone that’s trying to, like, pull a fast one on us, like the used car salesperson thing.
Because you need to be able to understand what your prospect—and that’s if you’ve, you know, there’s the book, The Challenger Sale, which like all business books can be summarized in a blog post, right, so you can just go read the blog post about The Challenger Sale; that’ll tell you everything you need to know, but a good salesperson that’s a challenger-style salesperson knows the customer better than they know themselves and knows there problems they might have that they’re not aware of. And it’s not because they’re smarter; they have a different perspective. So, the same thing is true. So, to Corey’s point, we’re always selling. And even whether it’s figuratively, like, conceptually—but I used to say when I was a Chef I said, the two best sales—most effective salespeople at Chef were Adam Jacob, the founder, and Nathan Harvey, the VP of community.
It is effectively one of the easiest possible sales you can make; it is incredibly easy to calculate out what the ROI looks like on any of these things, and it’s great, and we still have a full-on enterprise sales force because that is what it takes to wind up getting deals done when you’re selling business-to-business. These are not selling t-shirts to the masses. It is a nuanced field, and honestly, when I’m interviewing people, one of the easiest ways for me to discount someone as a potential hire is that they start talking smack about sales because it is clear, first, they lack empathy, and secondly, they don’t understand what sales does.
Corey: How to turn your champion into an effective advocate for the thing that’s going to make their job easier because they’re not the person that signs off on it.
Also, I one thing I wanted to touch on. So, you’re right, usually, public sector is not seen as the most cutting edge. One of the things that’s interesting at Red Hat, especially on the sales side—and friends of mine who are working on the commercial side may disagree with this, but it’s generally not been true—what they call NAPS, so the North America Public Sector, I used to say I was a NAPS specialist, which sounded awesome. Because that was my title, I was NAPS specialist; I specialized in NAPS—is actually—
Corey: Your status in the internal messaging system should always be sleeping at that point, why not?
Corey: It’s a lot harder. And there’s a credibility question and the rest. Yeah.
Matty: I do this on easy mode. I can sit there and I can say, “Yes, I feel your pain. I literally did it for 20 years.”
Matty: And this goes back to another thing that I say a lot—my pithy Stratton quote is, “DevRel contains multitudes,” right? So, this is one of the things that we ran into, like, when we’re building out our advocacy team at PagerDuty, it was seeing sort of my boss was an amazing dude and everything like that. I love him, but like, we don’t scale horizontally. Our team was made up of enough of different kinds of people that, like, the way that I was able to do it because I had a certain experience, you couldn’t expect that out of another one of my teammates because they actually had a different way of doing it that was just as effective, but in a different way because they have a different background, they have a different—so that’s—
bias here where when I think about DevRel, I think about it through a lens of the way I approach things, and when I give conference talks, of how I present myself, and the rest. And my approach would absolutely be aligned with what I just described, “So, you’re doing AWS billing wrong.” And based upon who I am, and what I do, I can make that claim with some credibility.
Ideally, not in line at the Starbucks harassing the poor person in front who’s just trying to order their coffee, but you know, as long as it’s all consensual, talk to people who are interested in this stuff, wherever they happen to be.
You know, there are people who really like videos, and there are people who are like, “I don’t want to learn from a video at all.” And there’s two ways you can approach that. One is you can say, “You’re wrong. Videos are better. You should watch all my videos.” And take a guess about how well that’s going to work with them getting your information or say, “I’ll meet you where you are.”
Corey: Oh, yeah. That’s a well-renowned way of doing it. That I think that Google pioneered this for a while. They had these all these things up about interesting things going on inside the—
Corey: —company, about the way some systems worked—
Matty: —I was at Google office and using the restroom, and I was standing there, and right in front of me with a whole good practice on cross-site scripting vulnerabilities. I guarantee they probably sent that email to everybody, it’s probably been in meetings, and the people who saw it, [unintelligible 00:19:53] they saw it in the restroom.
Corey: Now, of course, I’m sure they probably sell ads on those sheets, but okay.
Matty: Yeah. You know, a little bit of that. When I was at Apartments.com, the floor that I worked on, the main restroom I used was a shared restroom with another office, which meant corporate never put anything up in there, and there was actually a fair amount of stuff that I didn’t know about because I ignored it everywhere else and [unintelligible 00:20:14] anyway. So, the point is, back—if you will do work in person, which who is doing that anymore and why bother?—your most effective way to communicate. So, if you can figure out how to do DevRel in signs in a restroom at a conference—ohh, conferences should sell sponsorship of restroom signs.
Corey: The jokes write themselves and almost certainly violate the code of conduct of at least four different [unintelligible 00:20:38], but it works. It works.
Matty: [laugh]. We’ll take those to Twitter.
Corey: You’ve been around the industry for a while. You are one of the cohosts of the Arrested DevOps podcast; you’ve been instrumental in organizing a number of DevOps Days… or Devs-Ops days, however you want to mis-pluralize that is fine by me; roll with it. Ant—
Corey: Very fair. I want to talk to you a little bit of how the DevOps movement slash community slash role has evolved. For a long time now, it’s been, “Great. So, where are the DevOps people sitting?” And then when you hear the shouted response of, “It’s not a job. It’s a culture,” good work. You found them. Now, you can go talk to them and all. What has changed over the past few years in the world of DevOps?
Corey: Oh, absolutely. You’re an exemplary DevOps salesman.
Matty: Yeah. So, what happened? When we think back across the decade-plus, you know, back since 2009, one of the things I think that’s interesting is, when we look at things like DevSecOps, or the other portmanteaus that are being created. It’s a little bit like that meme, right, with the astronaut: “Wait. You mean, it’s been DevSecOps all along?” You know, it’s, “Yes, always has.”
we’re talking about. Because it makes us all think that it’s only about development and operations. And it’s always been about cross-functional across all of those things. And if it helps us to give it a different name, great.
Corey: It’s replacing dysfunction with cross-function.
Matty: Yes. There we go. That’s DevOps right there. That’s the best definition of DevOps I’ve heard. You heard it here.
Corey: That one coins a phrase, in case you wondered.
Matty: So, we still use the term CALMS to say what is about: It’s about Culture, Automation, Lean, Measurement, and Sharing. That’s held up for a reason. For something that was scrawled on a napkin in 2010, there’s a reason we still talk that way. It sounds like we talk about culture more than anything else, and it’s not because it’s more important. It’s because it’s the one that we have to scream from the rooftops.
You don’t have to convince engineers to play with automation tools; they’re going to do it. That’s fine, right? So, they’re all equal. Now, that said, what’s changed is we have definitely found DevOps to feel a lot more that it’s about automation. It’s about the technology. We’ve veered away from the people to your statement about, like, “Oh, it’s a culture, not a ti”—well, it’s all of these things.
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Corey: Well, one thing I do want to call out because the whole point of having you on the show, of course, is to embarrass you with proof-positive, for example, that you are in fact, a good person at heart despite, you know, your dubious friendship with people like me, is we both used to be adamant about the idea of DevOps is not a role, not a job title, and we both stopped, but for different reasons. The reason that I stopped was that I took a job as the director of DevOps at a company because I was trying to solve about five or six different things that were important for me to negotiate for, and job title did not make the cut of impactful changes. You had a far less self-serving reason for no longer picking that particular fight. What was it?
Corey: J. Paul Reed did a whole talk-pay thing that shined a light on that.
Matty: Absolutely. The one that I think is more empathetic and probably was… is maybe a little more important—or equally so—Ian Coldwater has pointed out before, and this really resonated with me, is that when we get on Twitter and are like, “Oh, my God. DevOps engineer is not a real title, blah, blah, blah.” The people that hear that are the people who have that title. They did not give themselves that title. It’s very exclusionary, and all that will happen out of that is it doesn’t eff—
Corey: “I’m going to go quit my job and not be able to make rent this month.” “Why?” “Because Twitter said that my job title was bad.”
Corey: All the reasons to quit a job, I promise you job title is not one of them. Unless it is something horrifying, as into the territory of discriminating or belittling. There are always exceptions to every rule, but by and large, “That’s a ridiculous job title,” is not the reason to quit a job. Says the self-proclaimed chief cloud economist.
Matty: Totally yeah. I mean, like, you know what is very similar? There’s a meme about, like, every time people want to make fun of a political figure or something and they’ll make fun of them being overweight, or any kind of thing, and the meme is like, the only people who hear that are your friends that have a similar condition, not the actual person you’re making fun of, so all you’re doing there is hurting people who… so that’s a similar thing.
Matty: So, when I hear—and actually the title doesn’t do this, for me; it’s actually very specifically a DevOps team. When people say, “We have a DevOps team.” This is not a perfect analogy when I say it’s a code smell; I call it an organizational smell. And what I mean by that—it’s not as bad as a code smell—what it does is it makes me ask more questions. If it’s relevant to me to ask questions. It might be none of my damn business. If you tweet that I’m on the DevOps team, I’m not going to come into your mentions and start questioning your existence, but—
Matty: Oh, yeah. But if I’m working with you and we’re working on that, or we’re having a conversation, and it comes up that you have a team called DevOps Team, I’m going to ask questions because that could be, okay or it could be, [sigh] I want to use the word dangerous lightly; it’s not, but like, counter-effective. And the reason for that is if the DevOps team is the one who does all your automation and you haven’t really enabled other squads and all you’ve done is move a silo around, doesn’t make you a bad person, but that’s not the most effective way you could be. So, it makes me start to ask questions, right? But sometimes DevOps teams are people who lead in the organization, they are empowerment teams, maybe they run dojo, maybe they are subject matter experts that help.
Corey: On some level, you have to meet people where they are, and this is a part of that. I say that in full sincerity. Same story with the idea of culture. I hear this question all the time, “How do we wind up making all of our engineers aware of AWS billing issues?” And to a point, you should have understanding that when you turn something on it runs forever, bigger things cost more than smaller things, but the knowledge fits on an index card.
Matty: Well, there are plenty of people who will. As we know.
Corey: Yes. And we call them shitheads if we’re being perfectly honest with you.
Matty: Yeah. [laugh].
Corey: The internet what a ple—no, Emily is an absolute treasure in the space and I’m continuing to watch her meteoric rise with nothing other than pure admiration. It is just spectacular to see her succeed.
Matty: I could not agree more. This is something I struggle with a little bit. I don’t think Emily would mind me saying it this way. This is the thing where you don’t want to sound condescending, but I always love when I look at people and it’s not—it’s going to come off a little bit about, like, “I knew them when,” and it’s not like I was a Corey Quinn fan before he went pop, but I love to see and remember where we all came from, and it’s true of myself and it’s true of other people, but that’s one of my favorite things is I love to see my friends succeed.
And Emily’s another example. Like, I remember when I first met Emily, and not like I was any big deal, either, but it’s like, everybody comes from somewhere, right? Like Jacquie Grindrod who just recently left Hashi, I remember when she started to get into DevRel and I was talking to her because she’s like, “I may be thinking I want to do this thing.” And you look and you see these people. And it’s not supposed to be like, “Oh, I remember when you were like the cute little baby DevRel.” It’s not like that.
And it’s like, it’s just impressive to see—and not even impressive. It’s you like to see people who do good work and have a good heart and want to help people grow and be successful. And I’ll tell you something, here—we’re going to get real for a second—you can be jealous of them. It’s okay. And I’m going to be honest, there are times that—Emily and Corey are both good friends of mine, and there are times that I’m like, “Wow. I’m a little jealous of you. Sometimes I’m a lot jealous of you. Sometimes I’m not at all.” So, I’m telling everybody, it’s okay to be jealous. [laugh].
Corey: I agree with the sentiment that I changed the word ‘envious’ because envy is one of those, like—
Corey: —“I want that, too,” whereas jealousy is a lot more a shade of, “I want to have it and I don’t want them to.” And I don’t believe that’s the direction you’re heading in. [laugh].
Corey: Now, I recently learned the distinction there by getting very wrong and saying things I didn’t intend to imply, which is why I bring it up. Again, let my mistake be something others can learn from. Sometimes the best purpose I can serve in this industry is as a counter-example.
Matty: Example. I was going to say, you know, just for everybody, I remember at the beginning, you know, Corey said, “Maybe we’ll learn something.” I’m like, I guess that’s what we learned [laugh] is the difference between envy and jealousy.
Matty: [unintelligible 00:31:50] gotta say, you know, it took us half an hour to get there. But you know.
Matty: Can we tell the real story about how I claim ownership of The Duckbill Group?
Corey: By all means, take it away.
The Duckbill Group because for those of you who don’t know, Corey mentioned that I had worked at PagerDuty, and actually that job came down between the two of us and Corey didn’t get it. And then went and started his own company and became famous and amazing. So really, it’s because of me is what I’m trying to get at. I—
Corey: To be fair, they made the right hire. Which one of us do you think makes the better employee, let’s be very clear?
Corey: And yeah, I am thrilled to deal in you in on ownership of The Duckbill Group because the way we’re structured, you cannot have ownership without also assuming liability. So yeah—
Corey: I would love to dump legal responsibility for my shenanigans on someone else.
Come on in. Yeah, there’s always a cutting edge to everything else. But no, you’re right. I always wonder what would have happened if that decision had gone differently.
And I’m very glad it played out the way that it did. You were the right hire for the company in a way that I never would have been. But I would have given it a good try for a while before they begrudgingly had to fire me or I sensed the axe was coming and left on my own. That is the nature of me as an employee. You have a very different perspective because you’re good at things that I’m terrible at.
Matty: And vice versa. It was interesting. You just talked about, like, how would things go different? So I—yesterday—just recorded—I don’t know when it’s going to come out—I was on a podcast called 8 Bits—so it’s 8bits.tv—and it’s really a show about people’s journey through tech.
And what was interesting that came out of that conversation was, first of all, how much of how I got to where I am is because of spite. Which you’re going to have to go back and listen to the episode to hear the whole story of all the spite. But we did talk about, like, those junction points that happen that seem innocuous. And it’s like, I made this one choice that wasn’t even necessarily a choice and you follow all the forking logic that gets you to, Corey, you and I are sitting here on a podcast right now. How many decisions that weren’t even decisions? There’s the alternate universe where this doesn’t happen where this doesn’t exist, right?
Corey: It was surreal.
Matty: Yeah, I was at dinner with Corey and his wife and we got into a conversation about that she had gone to law school in Chicago. And I was like, “Oh, funny thing. Like, I produced the video of the law school mu”—and she was like, “Wait, what was that?” And I couldn’t even remember. I had to, like, dig back into, like, an old blog post. And was that and then yeah, and Bethany, like—
Corey: She walks into the other room and comes back with a DVD that you burned, your handwriting on it.
Matty: Yeah, pretty much. Yeah. The world is small. Be nice to everybody.
stories once again. It’s always good to talk to you. If people want to learn more about who you are, what you’re up to, where’s the best place they can find you.
And yeah, and every week, I stream on twitch.tv/Pulumi on Thursdays. And it’s not webinars, it’s not slick demos, it’s just me screwing around and sometimes having fun people on, and sometimes just proving how little I know about coding. So yeah, good times. Thank you for having me on, again, Corey. It’s always fun.
Matty: —if people want to go and find that. Because I think it’s similar, connected to what we talked about.
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