Monday, March 26, 2012

PodCamp Isn't for Them, It's for Us

Hello and welcome to my addition to PodCamp Nashville's Blog Tour! Dirk Hoag has the next post on the tour.
I'm a programmer/business owner, not a marketer. And I don't have a podcast. So why am I going to PodCamp Nashville on April 14th and encouraging others like me to do the same?

Let's start with a little history. I've already talked about how BarCamp Nashville got me out of my shell, but I haven't told the whole story. In August of last year, I was invited to the second "NashBurger," which is basically a monthly tweetup where a few awesome people try out different burgers in town and occassionally discuss marketing and social media trends. They are all marketing professionals, but somehow they still wanted to hang out with a tech nerd like me. I was just learning Twitter and didn't really have a clue about blogging. They took me under their wing, smiled at my child-like questions and then did the hard work of digging in to give me great, tangible answers. They often blogged about our discussions and expanded their answers in detail.

Most important of all... They became Us.

Over the past half-year or so, I've not only learned a ton about marketing and social media, I've made some good friends. Joey, Tyler, Laura, John, and Kacy have helped me time and again whether it's personal branding, business marketing, social media strategy, blogging techniques or probably the most important of all: etiquette. Together, we've been able to better understand the marketers vs. developers mindset and turn it into a marketers and developers solution. By the way, if you're either a marketer or developer, you should read the 5 keys to not pissing each other off.

These friendships are something I value greatly. Helping and being helped by others is fundamental to community. If you're doing anything online, it can't be an "us" verses "them." Even if you can program an amazing application, if no one learns about it because your marketing is piss poor, what's the point? You didn't really help anyone. Same thing is true for a marketing message without a well-built product backing it. Sure you might be able to sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves, but why not sell her something she can really use instead?

Marketers and developers need each other to build things online that change lives. PodCamp Nashville is one of the best ways we can connect, build friendships and learn from one another. If you're a developer, I'm challenging you to be there. Open your mind, think differently and meet some people who aren't "like you." You'll be better off; trust me.

I'm going because I want to support my friends, and I want to make new ones. I want to learn and grow in areas I know nothing about. I hope to see you there as well.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Are You Challenging Yourself?

Recently, I ran wc -l on a few directories to find out I had written over 15,000 lines of code in the last month and a half. How does that happen? I think it's because I challenged myself like never before.

FoxyCart decided to finally build out the REST API we've been thinking about for years. The only problem: I've never written a REST API. What if I fail? How can I build something I don't fully understand? What if I think it's good and everyone else hates it or thinks we did something stupid? Cue George McFly voice: "I just don't know if I can take that kind of rejection."

Face It Head On
I'm talking about fear, of course. The lizard brain, as Seth calls it. That which keeps us from doing the work. How we choose to face (or avoid) our fears determines a large part of our success in business, relationships, love, life and most anything else you care to list. Facing our fears head on causes us to stretch and grow. It allows us to accomplish what was previously considered impossible or at least too dangerous/difficult/risky to try. Conquering our fear is the very essence of progress, victory and invention.

As an example, I chose to not only build this API, but through a friend's encouragement, submitted a talk for tek'12 to present on it. Fear of public speaking? Check. Worried about messing up an API thousands of ecommerce stores will rely on? Yeap. Facing it head on? Absolutely.

Challenge = Lots of Work
It hasn't been easy. I've spent more hours than I care to admit reading papers, blog posts, websites and RFCs. I've watched webinars and presentations while emailing and chatting with the best in the business about REST APIs (I posted some links if you're into that sort of thing). The result? Hopefully the foundation of our entire business for the foreseeable future.

You can challenge yourself in more ways than just business. Maybe you set a resolution this year to get in shape. Have you signed up for Runkeeper yet (or the zombie version)? What about building relationships? Maybe you could set a goal to have 100 cups of coffee in the next 100 days.

Challenges Include Failure
Whatever you want to improve in your life will take a challenge. It won't be easy and you'll probably fail quite a few times before you see success. Along with those 15,000 lines of code, I probably deleted 10,000 or so as I wrote, rewrote and rewrote again the early prototypes. What's undeniable is the improvement in myself as a developer. Success isn't guaranteed, but progress and self improvement are—if you're willing to clock the hours, face your fears head on and put in the work.

So, are you challenging yourself? Leave a comment below and we can dialog about it.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Things that Made My Week Awesome

Since I like John Morgan's view that self-promotion isn't about you but what you do for others, and because these are the things we'd talk about if we had coffee together, here are a few things that made my week exciting.

It started off by getting published over at PHP Architect magazine. They asked me to blog about our choice to use REST instead of SOAP for our FoxyCart API rebuild. I've been so stoked to see how many people have shared this post on Twitter: What Will Power the Future of the Internet: REST or SOAP? I hope you enjoy it also.

Right on the heels of that, my friend Cal Evans published our recent interview for the Voices of the ElePHPant podcast where we talked about PCI compliance, PHP and REST. Speaking of REST, big thanks to those that read my last post on RESTful Resources Required Reading. In a matter of days, it jumped to the top five most popular posts on this blog. I guess I should get a little more technical now and again.

Next, I'm super excited about the opportunity to speak at this year's tek'12 conference in Chicago on May 24th. I'll be talking about our journey from a plain old XML API to a Hypermedia as the Engine of Application State API. Basically that means from old and busted to the new hotness. If you're going, I hope you can attend my session and say hello.

So there you have it! My hope is that something here meets your needs and answers your questions. There's no point in writing or speaking if it doesn't benefit someone other than the author/speaker.

If you're involved in the Nashville tech community, you might notice a common thread in the above links. That thread, of course, is Cal Evans. He's involved in so many things (there's still time to sign up for tomorrow's Day Camp 4 Developers!) and is always promoting others. Without his encouragement (and prodding at times), I wouldn't have been involved in any of these things. Thank you Cal, I really appreciate it.

If you build websites or need to hire people that build websites, please do the planet a favor and read Avoiding a Goat Rodeo which I've talked about before on the FoxyCart blog.

And finally, there's no way I could talk about how great my week was without mentioning the weather yesterday. I love spring!

I snapped this picture on my way back from a lunch appointment yesterday because I just had to stop at Crockett Park and play some disc golf. Do you play? As the weather gets better, I really hope to get out there more often. I really have no excuse, other than I enjoy working too much.

Hit me up on Twitter if you're in Nashville and would like to play some time. I'm not very good, but I hope to get better. I'd love to see disc golf become the game of choice for my generation's CEOs. Can't beat free, right?

I hope you had an awesome week as well. Please leave some comments below to some links you're excited about so we can celebrate with you.