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Becoming an Evangelist – Get the inside scoop from not one but two U.S. Developer Evangelists!

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Join me – Grace Francisco – as I sit down and chat with Developer Evangelists Lynn Langit and Asli Bilgin as we talk about the interesting paths they both took to get to where they are today. Definitely off the beaten path! They answer the question “What the heck is an Evangelist really?” and share their perspectives on what it’s like to be an Evangelist and a woman in a technical profession – you’ll be surprised and entertained by Lynn and Asli’s candid responses.

Make sure to check out Lynn’s Channel 9 show – GeekSpeak.

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  • Martin Ennemosermawcc Make it so

    I really liked this video, it sends a positive message to the people in the industry in general and women about to enter this industry in particular.

    But I'm wondering if it's enough to put such videos on C9 alone. Aren't most of the people visiting here already in IT? Wouldn't it be a good idea to put the video at least on C8, too, where the intended audience are students? And maybe an abridged version on C10?

  • Chris PietschmannCRPietschma​nn Chris Pietschmann
    They mentioned that you need to be passionate. This is true in the software industry as a whole; especially with Evangelism. How can you really help someone without the driving force of passion behind you.

    Excellent video!!
  • Great video, great messages!  Go Asli!Big Smile
  • ChadkChadk excuse me - do you has a flavor?
    Do you have to be technical to be an evangelist? Tongue Out
  • mawcc wrote:
    

    I really liked this video, it sends a positive message to the people in the industry in general and women about to enter this industry in particular.

    But I'm wondering if it's enough to put such videos on C9 alone. Aren't most of the people visiting here already in IT? Wouldn't it be a good idea to put the video at least on C8, too, where the intended audience are students? And maybe an abridged version on C10?



    Thanks for the feedback on this. I cross posted over on Channel 8 today. You're right that folks in school may find value in this video. I'll have to ask Larry on Channel 10 what he thinks about adding a cross post over there too - not sure if it really fits over there or not.
  • So to answer your question - do you have to be technical in order to be an evangelist?  I would venture to say yes.

    That answer may not even be limited to software evangelism - wouldn't you think that any sort of evangelism requires intimacy with the topic?

    Perhaps evangelism can be defined as teaching with enthusiasm.  So you got to know what you're talking about, and love what you're talking about. At the very least.

    Beyond that? Well, you don't necessarily have to be the most insane code-slinging warrior in the world, but it's certainly helpful to have certain amount of practical experience, beyond ivory-tower theory. Writing production code before becoming an evangelist helps you build a nice arsenal of pragmatic tips & tricks on how to write code with minimal friction.  Sharing these tips with your audience resonates well. It means you've been there, you understand, and, most importantly, empathize with what they're going through).

    When you're getting paid to write code, you will generally be under INSANE time & money constraints, where you have to get code out the door >>>>fast>>>>   As stressful as this is, you do learn A LOT! Methodologies such as Extreme Programming help reduce time to market to a certain degree, but the best insight comes from your own experience.

    So yes, you should know & love your subject matter. At the very least.  If have pragmatic experience, even better, because then you can relate to your audience, and they can relate to you.

    HTH - Asli
  • Excellent Video,
  • To start with, GREAT Show Smiley
    As an evangelist you come across and need to keep updated on sooo many technologies. How do you manage to travel, evangelize, keep updated and code-for-fun at the same time?

    It must be a really hard place for a perfectionist. Evangelism should have a lot to do with being at the right place at the right time(frame), talking about the right topics. A perfectionist may not get there in time. Correct me.

  • You raise good points, it does take a certain personality type to be successful as an evangelist.

    For me, curiousity is the driver.  It is sometimes tricky to balance learning, presenting, etc...however, you should note that we often present the same information multiple times (and sometimes in multiple formats - i.e. live, web casts).

    The other thing you mentioned is also important - perfectionists will be challenged by this job. 

    Those who have a certain tolerance for ambiguity will probably be happier in the job - between working with beta software and constant change, flexibility is a key trait.Smiley
  • ChadkChadk excuse me - do you has a flavor?
    asli wrote:
    So to answer your question - do you have to be technical in order to be an evangelist?  I would venture to say yes.

    Poor blowdart. Now he cant be an evangelist Sad
  • Thanks Lynn. Being able to adapt to change quickly, and the passion for technology are indeed key assets for an evangelist.

    I get to deliver workshops and technical events to ISVs on upcoming technologies like WCF, WF, Orcas etc. but these are mostly online. I have worked with WPF since the WinFX days. I couldn't agree with you more. Thanks for the reaffirmation Smiley

  • Excellent session!! Sounds like fun

  • Chadk wrote:
    
    asli wrote:
    So to answer your question - do you have to be technical in order to be an evangelist?  I would venture to say yes.


    Poor blowdart. Now he cant be an evangelist



    Choosing the right growth path is a crutial decision and often requires a great deal of introspection. Although, sometimes feedbacks may be just as helpful:

    "Do you have to be technical to be an evangelist?"
    .. real bright "butter knife", ha ha ha Big Smile

  • Chadk wrote:
    
    asli wrote:
    So to answer your question - do you have to be technical in order to be an evangelist?  I would venture to say yes.

    Poor blowdart. Now he cant be an evangelist


    Poor Blowdart.

    Big Hug. Wink

    Fun Video. 

    A 98 to 1 ratio seems about right.

    Now what industry must I switch to?


    Cool

  • We had the pleasure of welcoming Asli to our local user group before she joined Microsoft, and were tremendously impressed with her knowledge and enthusiasm.  I'm sure that Lynn is also an excellent speaker and developer.

    So, it's not these women's professional qualifications that trouble me about this video, it's the implication that by hiring them, Microsoft has proven its commitment to an "inclusion" policy.

    On the contrary: offering high-visibility, well-paying employment opportunities to petite, attractive, athletic young women seems more a reflection of show biz values than a real desire on Microsoft's part to achieve gender parity.

    In my region (New England), the Developer Evangelists we've seen through the years have all been bright and hard-working, but few could have passed for GQ models.  Rather, they were hired for their energy, technical expertise and commitment.

    I only wish that Microsoft would apply the same criteria to female and physically disabled candidates for DE positions.  Should that happen, Microsoft could legitimately make the case that their hiring policies are, in fact, inclusive.  This would certainly be a powerful example to the rest of the industry.
  • Capecoder -  Thanks for the kind words (especially with that athleticism assumption as my typing fingers are the only bit of me that receive regular exercise). I do remember making the trek out to your user group when I was part of INETA, before I came to Microsoft, and appreciate the fact that you remember the event as well.

    More importantly, I'd like to address a serious implication in your comment - that technical expertise is not a criteria when hiring minority groups with the evangelism community at Microsoft.

    In the last 5 years at Microsoft, I have had the pleasure to meet a lot of female technologists - from entry level to extremely senior. I have consistently been impressed with their acumen and expertise, Especially, considering that minorities often have to swim upstream against generalizations, such as the ones you accurately point out in your comment. 

    I have always said that it doesn't matter what the "shell" looks like (pun intended), it's the compiler inside that matters.  

    Upon closer look at the technologists that represent minority groups at Microsoft, I do feel that you will be pleasantly impressed by their abilities, enthusiasm, and acumen.   In fact, the entire US evangelism platform group is run by a woman who is a perfect case study for combining strong charisma with intellectual savviness. 

    Disclaimer: I can only speak on my own behalf, not for the organization as a whole or other minority groups within this organization, so please do take my comments with a grain of salt.  

    Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts, and kind words.  -- Asli
  • RE:<I only wish that Microsoft would apply the same criteria to female and physically disabled candidates for DE positions.>

    What, are you kidding?

    OK, you asked, so here you go.  My professional qualifications are as follows:
    1) I ran my own .NET dev shop for 4 years, where I was lead architect and dev for projects from ASP.NET, SOA, BizTalk, SharePoint, etc...
    2) I am a MCT for 8 years and taught over 40 different MSL courses
    3) I recently authored a book and a course on BI for developers
    4) I worked with MSL on curriculum and exams for SQL, SharePoint and more
    5) I hold all premier MS certifications - MCSE, MCDBA, MCSD, etc...
    6) Prior to entering tech, I was a 'C' level executive for more than 7 years
    7) I have a degree in linguistics and speak multiple languages

    Hm...I think I said all of this in the (video) interview as well.

    Are you actually saying that I was hired because I am athletic, rather than the above qualifications?  Ok, well it is true that I run 5k races, but I can't say that I do that with any particular distinction.  Also, at 5'8" without shoes, no one has ever called me petite.

    You must be kidding:)

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