Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Guy Kawasaki gave me a job

imageHave you read the book "Selling the Dream"

It is the seminal book that created an industry and a job title for many people.

Including me and quite a few others.

Evangelism is the process of selling a dream (Click to tweet this)

Evangelism Matters!

Of course, the term has been around for many years. However, the term wasn’t commonly used in the technology world prior to Guy Kawasaki mentioning it in his book. Note: this may not be 100% true, but it is true for me. It took Guy Kawasaki to put the word in the context of the technology industry. Which in turn created a career path and an industry.

Truth be told … Some of my best friends are evangelists.

Why? Because they are passionate about their technology of choice, They have taken the time to understand it and to think about how best to explain it, demonstrate it, and to show it in specific solution scenarios.

  • Does it work every time?
  • Do they always convince me that their tech of choice is the best?
  • Of course, the answer is no. But, they will take the time to listen to different points of view. And, usually go right back into evangelism mode.

Evangelism is the practice of convincing people to believe in your product or idea. (Click to Tweet this)

But, what is true is the very fact that by Guy Kawasaki writing this book and getting it published it created a whole new genre and industry for a lot of technical and business professionals.

I owe my career to Guy Kawasaki

There are a lot of examples of people that I know that also have similar careers that I would argue owe their careers to Guy Kawasaki too. People like Lauren Cooney, people like Rob Barker, and people like Christian Buckley. They are each very good at what they do. They are evangelists that span what I call “The Three Pillars” of evangelism. They are Technical, Developer, and Business. More on this later.

What is an evangelist?

A recent podcast from the Microsoft Partner Network highlighted Christian Buckley. I have often thought of Christian as the penultimate blogger, speaker and evangelist. And, this podcast shows his skills and his adroitness and explaining what an evangelist is, what an evangelist does, and he even talks about metrics.


It has been many years since I've read "Selling the Dream" but I have often flashed back to what I learned and what I envisioned Guy Kawasaki did to get us this far.

By selling the dream, you are transforming a vision into a cause. (Click to Tweet this)

image If you haven't read it yet here's your chance.

If you want to read a condensed version start

Beyond Apple’s Evangelist

Although Guy Kawasaki worked for Apple during the time he envisioned the book there are other companies that have taken the evangelism model and build great programs around it.

Microsoft was one of the early ones to get into the game too. There's one person that every Microsoft MVP should thank for this … and that is Sean O'Driscoll. He envisioned the whole idea of a community almost 20 years ago.

Image result for microsoft mvpSean envision the idea of helping partners become evangelists via the Microsoft MVP program. He created the concept of the Most Valuable Professional a.k.a. MVP. Today there are thousands of MVPs across multiple Microsoft product lines, but they owe their very existence to Sean O'Driscoll.

Fun Fact: One of my roles at Microsoft was in the Developer Platform Evangelist (DPE) team. Which is now the DX team under Guggs.

The Three Pillars of Evangelism

I also give Microsoft credit for realizing the value of the three types of evangelists: there's an evangelist that knows the coding aspects; there's also the technical evangelist that knows the IT aspect, and finally there's a solutions oriented evangelist that understands the business aspects. Often times these evangelists span all three pillars. Microsoft recognizes these evangelists with the MVP awards.


Do they miss a few people? Sure, but that’s the way things go when you have a vibrant ecosystem of experts with different areas of expertise to contribute.

Some of the terms have changed over time too. Today we hear of DevOps, BizOps, and we still hear about Big Data.

Buzzwords change, but the underlying skills
of evangelists never wavers.

It Takes a Village

Image result for salesforce mvpOther companies have gotten in on this too. Salesforce is one good example. They have built up a partner ecosystem with a collection of what they also call MVP's. I guess Sean O’Driscoll was really onto something with the naming. I haven't seen as much from the Salesforce model lately but I'm pretty sure they're still there and still growing.

Even my old company, K2, also had an active community. But, that went away when my role went away. What I think they realized, like every other company realizes, is that it does take time, money, and effort to build up the community and to build up the muscle around that effort.

Back to the Microsoft MVP effort. As I mentioned Christian Buckley is the penultimate evangelist. There are several others in the Microsoft MVP community that are also incredible representatives, including Marc D Anderson, Eric Shupps, Ruven Gotz, and the Uber King of demos Mark Rackley (I once saw him do 7 really solid demos in one hour).

WIT and STEM Evangelists

One thing I can also say about evangelism is it's not gender specific. There are quite a few Women in Technology that I have met over the years that are phenomenal with customers, incredible when it comes to the IT architecture side, and equally amazing in writing code that dazzles.


A few examples include Lauren Cooney, Betsy Weber, Naomi Moneypenny, Dena Marean, Erica Toelle, Sharon Healey, Sonya Koptyev, Michelle Caldwell, and Sue Hanley … to name a few. There are countless others that focus on various aspects of evangelism and they do it with such aplomb that is impossible to name them all here.

Evangelism is an equal
opportunity employer

Who can be an Evangelist?

If someone shows the aptitude … Let 'em give it a try. Evangelism is a calling.

What do you think about evangelism?

  • When was the first time you heard the term technical evangelist?
  • Who are your favorite technical and business evangelists?
  • Would you agree that the industry has been changed by the term evangelism?
  • What other industries have adopted the concept and term of an evangelist?

In the end Guy Kawasaki didn’t give me a job. He didn’t give me a career. He gave me a calling.

What’s your calling?

Drop your comments in the notes here. Inquiring evangelists want to know.


Image Credits: Microsoft, Canva, Guy Kawasaki

clip_image001Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, and K2. He is currently the consulting with Microsoft and partners to drive Community Engagement and Alliances.

Tweet him
@jshuey or connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+ He is active in the Microsoft Partner Community and is the co-founder and President of the IAMCP Seattle chapter. He is also active with the Women in Technology and STEMWIT efforts.

He is a contributing author to
Entrepreneur, Elite Daily, Yahoo, US News and to the Personal Branding Blog



Sean O'Driscoll said...

Thanks Jeff. I'll never be sure what exactly I created - a lot of smart people around me, but certainly the very idea of community and enthusiasts contributed greatly to creating me. No single professional challenge influenced me more greatly than the work we did on communities. What we were really learning was a master class in human behavior online, which on the eve of Social Media was an opportunity that only in hindsight can I fully appreciate. All the best to you.


Jeff Shuey said...

It takes a Village, but it also takes a leader. You were (and are) that leader Sean.

Guy Kawasaki gave me a calling and you gave a lot of people a place to make their magic happen.It's interesting to see that your seminal work in community development is really starting to take hold again with the whole CX movement. You were and are a pioneer.

I'm glad I got to work with you back in the early days. The sign of a great effort is that it continues on in your absence. Which is has ... and how.


Jason Dunn said...

Great article! I was a Microsoft MVP in mobility (Windows CE > Pocket PC > Windows Phone) for 15 years, starting in 1997. That volunteer position led to deeper involvement with Microsoft, including contract work, and ultimately to the job I have today doing community building work for AT&T. And in a strange crossover of worlds, I worked with Sean O'Driscoll recently on the AT&T project when he was at PWC - but I didn't know him more than in passing while I was an MVP. Small, small world. :-)

Shaun Crist said...

Great post! When Christian left our company I felt it was one of our biggest missteps. It takes a special talent to be an good evangelist and there aren't many around who can fill that niche. A true blend of knowledge, dedication, marketing and sales. Most people are too tech or too sales to fill that gap. Great job of explaining why this is an important part of the tech industry.