Last year I joined GitHub as Director Of Community. My role has been to champion and manage GitHub’s global, scalable community development initiatives. Friday was my last day as a hubber and I wanted to share a few words about why I have decided to move on.
My passion has always been about building productive, engaging communities, particularly focused on open source and technology. I have devoted my career to understanding the nuances of this work and which workflow, technical, psychological, and leadership ingredients can deliver the most effective and rewarding results.
As part of this body of work I wrote The Art of Community, founded the annual Community Leadership Summit, and I have led the development of community at Canonical, XPRIZE, OpenAdvantage, and for a range of organizations as a consultant and advisor.
I was attracted to GitHub because I was already a fan and was excited by the potential within such a large ecosystem. GitHub’s story has been a remarkable one and it is such a core component in modern software development. I also love the creativity and elegance at the core of GitHub and the spirit and tone in which the company operates.
Like any growing organization though, GitHub will from time to time need to make adjustments in strategy and organization. One component in some recent adjustments sadly resulted in the Director of Community role going away.
The company was enthusiastic about my contributions and encouraged me to explore some other roles that included positions in product marketing, professional services, and elsewhere. So, I met with these different teams to explore some new and existing positions and see what might be a good fit. Thanks to everyone in those conversations for your time and energy.
Unfortunately, I ultimately didn’t feel they matched my passion and skills for building powerful, productive, engaging communities, as I mentioned above. As such, I decided it was time to part ways with GitHub.
Of course, I am sad to leave. Working at GitHub was a blast. GitHub is a great company and is working on some valuable and important areas that strike right at the center of how we build great software. I worked with some wonderful people and I have many fond memories. I am looking forward to staying in touch with my former colleagues and executives and I will continue to be an ardent supporter, fan, and user of both GitHub and Atom.
So, what is next? Well, I have a few things in the pipeline that I am not quite ready to share yet, so stay tuned and I will share this soon. In the meantime, to my fellow hubbers, live long and prosper!
Customer: "The line went dead?"
Me: "I'd stopped talking for a few seconds."
On Friday last week I flew out to Austin to run the Community Leadership Summit and join OSCON. When I arrived in Austin, I called home and our son, Jack, was rather upset. It was clear he wasn’t just missing daddy, he also wasn’t feeling very well.
As the week unfolded he developed strep throat. While a fairly benign issue in the scheme of things, it is clearly uncomfortable for him and pretty scary for a 3 year-old. With my wife, Erica, flying out today to also join OSCON and perform one of the keynotes, it was clear that I needed to head home to take care of him. So, I packed my bag, wrestled to keep the OSCON FOMO at bay, and headed to the airport.
Coordinating the logistics was no simple feat, and stressful. We both feel awful when Jack is sick, and we had to coordinate new flights, reschedule meetings, notify colleagues and handover work, coordinate coverage for the few hours in-between her leaving and me landing, and other things. As I write this I am on the flight heading home and at some point she will zoom past me on another flight heading to Austin.
Now, none of this is unusual. Shit happens. People face challenges every day, and many far worse than this. What struck me so notably today though was the sheer level of kindness from our friends, family, and colleagues.
People wrapped around us like a glove. Countless people offered to take care of responsibilities, help us with travel and airport runs, share tips for helping Jack feel better, provide sympathy and support, and more.
This was all after a weekend of running the Community Leadership Summit, an event that solicited similar levels of kindness. There were volunteers who got out of bed at 5am to help us set up, people who offered to prepare and deliver keynotes and sessions, coordinate evening events, equipment, sponsorship contributions, and help run the event itself. Then, to top things off, there were remarkably generous words and appreciation for the event as a whole when it drew to a close.
This is the core of what makes community so special, and so important. While at times it can seem the world has been overrun with cynicism, narcissism, negativity, and selfishness, we are instead surrounded by an abundance of kindness. What helps this kindness bubble to the surface are great relationships, trust, respect, and clear ways in which people can play a participatory role and support each other. Whether it is something small like helping Erica and I to take care of our little man or something more involved such as an open source project, it never ceases to inspire and amaze me how innately kind and collaborative we are.
This is another example of why I have devoted my life to understanding every nuance I can of how we can tap into and foster these fundamental human instincts. This is how we innovate, how we make the world a better place, and how we build opportunity for everyone, no matter what their background is.
When we harness these instincts, understand the subtleties of how we think and operate, and wrap them in effective collaborative workflows and environments, we create the ability to build and disrupt things more effectively than ever.
It is an exciting journey, and I am thankful every day to be joined on it by so many remarkable people. We are going build an exciting future together and have a rocking great time doing so.
Chamber: "Hi, I noticed you were a member a long time ago and I wanted to run some of the new packages we have past you."
Me: "Can I just stop you there. The thing is imo membership only benefits the Chamber. I've been to some of your networking events such as breakfasts and they're all the same, they're all attended by people like myself hoping to sell. There's never anyone silly enough to attend who's looking to buy something. The thing is it would be like entering a pack of wolves for anyone looking to purchase a product or service, sure you get Directors at these events but they too are only there to promote their business and people of that stature are hardly likely to enter the bear pit of sales people."
Chamber: "Oh, OK then, thanks anyway."
I should point out the nice young lady was continually laughing through my insightful tirade."