Inspirations behind my Speaking Journey

As a developer, I have seen days when I used to work on complex problems. There are some days when there was no help around me to solve the problem. All it takes for me was to use “Google” and search about the problem. Thanks to internet , I was able to find solution for my problem from sites like stackoverflow and other technical forums.

What makes these technical forums and stackoverflow sites which helps us in finding answers to our problem ?

These sites work because there are developers around the world who felt to share their experiences and help other developers around them and around the world. It is their version of offering help expecting nothing in return. This made me realize that I can also share my experiences and help others in stackoverflow.

While I started becoming active in stackoverflow, one day I had a casual chat with Doug Mair @Doug_Mair , at Windows App Developer User Group Meetup now it is renamed to Columbus App Dev User Group about how he manages to deliver presentations at Conferences and Code Camps.

His answer was simple which inspired me – “It is not required to be a technical expert to be a technical speaker. If we are able to share our experiences while learning a new technology with others which can help others to explore the technology, then we should be able to deliver the same through our talks. I manage to learn new technologies by teaching them. This makes me to stay updated with current trends of technology.

This inspired me and I was searching for a opportunity.  I came to know about Columbus Code Camp in 2017.  I  heard about Azure Functions from one of our user group meeting in COAzure Meetup. Later I came to know more about Azure Functions and Azure Service Fabric from .Net Conf in Sep 2017.  I was curious about these two topics , so I experimented to deliver talks at Columbus Code Camp on the same. It was my first public speaking experience. I prepared content for my presentation but I was not sure, if they were good. So I decided to get them reviewed by Doug. He offered me valuable suggestions to use pictures to convey our message. He also suggested me to keep less text on the slides and try to improvise the talk using pictures side by side with text. After couple of reviews with him, the slides of presentation came well.

I still follow these suggestions in each of my presentation slides. It all went well at Columbus Code Camp. I then came to know about website. I submitted my talk proposal on Azure Functions for Raleigh Code Camp in Oct-2017.  I got selected to present at Raleigh Code Camp. To my surprise I came to know that, there was another session on Azure Functions as well on the same day. It was a talk by Josh Carlisle. My session was scheduled for morning and his session was in the afternoon.

My flight to Raleigh got delayed on the day of Code Camp. So I reached out to Raleigh Code Camp team asking them to move my session to afternoon. They switched my session slot with Josh and his slot with mine. I was not familiar about Josh during that time. I had my twitter account but was not active on twitter. I was more active on LinkedIn. My session was after lunch at Raleigh Code Camp. I went to the room where my session was scheduled. The first talk after lunch was “Rock Your .NET Core Best Practices by David McCarter“. My session was after him in the same room.

I had no idea about David McCarter when I was attending his session. But after attending his session I got complete idea about David that he is a great speaker. I forgot the fact that the next talk scheduled in the room was mine. When I remembered that the next talk in the room is mine, I was completely doubtful if I would be able to deliver my talk. The room got filled with people who were not able to attend Azure Functions session by Josh. I delivered my talk and was able to answer the queries about Azure Functions. One thing I learned from David session was to keep your audience engaged with content and have the talk interactive. I am still working to have these incorporated in my talks.  It is with experience one will be able to master those skills. It was only my second public speaking experience.

One thing both Josh and David had in common. They both are Microsoft MVP. I initially heard about Microsoft MVP Program from Matthew Groves who himself is Microsoft MVP and Developer Advocate with Couchbase. I met him first time when he delivered a talk about NoSQL Toaster !! at Windows App Dev User Group meetup. He was so kind, that he shared with me the details of the program when I asked him what it takes to be a Microsoft MVP.  Matt suggested me that one has to be active in developer community, sharing their experiences through blogs, speaking at meetups, conferences, code camps , authoring content for books etc,, about Microsoft tools and technologies.

Speaking is one activity which is part of Microsoft MVP Program. I am still way behind to reach the MVP milestone, as there are still many activities. Microsoft MVP Program was my first motivator to consider speaking. If we have the right motivation we can achieve wonders. This was during Oct – December 2017.

I wrote some blog posts about Azure Functions and thanks to Matt he gave me two slots in his C# Advent Calendar blog post series in 2017.  Matt was also a great mentor to me in considering public speaking.

I was listening to Tony Robbins podcast, and in one of his podcast he explained about modeling.

If you want to achieve some thing – “The surest way to achieve success is to model someone who is already successful” .. I started to follow all Microsoft MVP whom I met at various code camps and conferences.

I was also inspired by Sam Basu who is Developer Advocate with Progress.  He is a Microsoft MVP as well and speaks about Xamarin and other Telerik products. His session on “How to become a Developer Advocate” at our Columbus App Dev user group meetup had many suggestions about technical speaking.

Being in company with Sam, Doug and Matt I started submitting sessions for CFPs which I came to know. While I was exploring Progress products , thanks to Sam , I came to know about NativeScript. I had a web development background and learning NativeScript was easier for me. I started with the initial Vanilla Javascript version. I considered NativeScript as well while submitting my talk sessions. I got accepted for Orlando Code Camp in March 2018.

Here I met Santosh Hari, he is part of Orlando .Net User Group team and this team also runs the Orlando Code Camp. Hari is Microsoft MVP and speaks on Azure Cosmos and Serverless Concepts using Azure Functions. It was a good job done by the organizers of ONETUG. This was my third public speaking experience where I delivered talks on Azure Functions and my first speaking experience for NativeScript.

The idea of using my web development skills to develop mobile applications made me to explore NativeScript further and I am still exploring the new changes which are released constantly. Thanks to Progress for supporting NativeScript as Open Source. Thanks to NativeScript developer advocates and community who have produced adequate documentation and code samples, which are good resources for any one who wants to start learning NativeScript.

CodePaLOUsa was my first regional conference. I was accepted to deliver a talk on ServerLess Computing using Azure Functions. CodePaLOUsa is organized by Chad Green and his team. Chad also helps run the Louisville .Net Meetup. Chad also speaks on Serverless concepts using Azure Functions. I met Scott Addie – Developer Advocate with Microsoft. I had a casual chat with him, about how one should approach public speaking. Scott was kind enough to share his experiences to me.

He advised me to start small with user group meetups and then to try regional conference followed by national conference.

It was here, I was inspired by the discussions I had with Brendan Enrick (@brendoneus), he delivers talks through his twitch channel DevChatter and Guy Royse(@guyroyse) – Developer Evangelist with DataRobot.

After CodePaLOUsa, I travelled to Boston to attend Boston Code Camp in April 2018 to deliver talks on both Azure Functions and NativeScript.

It was here I met Jen Looper – Senior Developer Advocate with Progress. I delivered my talk on NativeScript using JavaScript. Her talk was about using NativeScript with Vue. She had a cool demo with her Elocute App. Jen is the founder of Vue Vixens.

If you are not familiar with Vue Vixens you should consider following them. You can find their 2018 journey and roadmap to 2019 here.

I met Juan Pablo – Principal Cloud Architect Lead at Microsoft, he was delivering a talk on Azure Functions from DevOps perspective. His talk was very insightful. He attended my session on Azure Functions as well and he provided me his feedback about how everything went well.

It was a good experience interacting with him. I met Jason Haley – Microsoft MVP and Isaac Levin – Microsoft. It was a very good learning experience for me at Boston Code Camp interacting with both Jason and Isaac.

After wrapping up Boston Code Camp, I had a month long vacation and had to travel to India. I came back in June 2018 with a fresh mind.  I used to follow David Pine who is Microsoft MVP in Developer Technologies and Google Developer Expert in Web Technologies. When I asked his suggestions, what I can do better in terms of technical speaking, he offered me the below advice.

The best advice that I can give, is to be yourself and do what makes you happy. If you’re passionate about one thing over anything else, pour your heart into it and you cannot go wrong!!!

I was looking for opportunity to speak after returning from vacation. It was during this time I spoke at Dayton .Net User Group meetup on Azure Functions. Thanks to Joe for providing me an opportunity to speak. The same weekend I spoke at Day of Agile Conference on a topic related to Azure Functions organized by Phil Japikse and team. Any one would know him well in .Net Developer Community. You will get motivated when you have Chad Green attending your session. The session went well.

On my return I submitted for Atlanta Code Camp CFP. While I was waiting to hear the decision, I wanted to speak about NativeScript at Columbus App Dev User Group. Thanks to Sam and Doug, they gave me an opportunity to speak.

I was selected to speak on NativeScript at Atlanta Code Camp. It was a good experience speaking at Atlanta Code Camp. I had good discussions with Jared Rhodes and also met Jeremy Likness. Jared helps run Atlanta Intelligent Devices Meetup group as well and is also a PluralSight Author. You all might know Jeremy well, he is a Developer Advocate on Azure team. He speaks and blogs about Azure and Serverless concepts. You should check his book on using Azure for Serverless concepts to get complete overview.

Atlanta Code Camp was also special to me, where participants got inspired to use NativeScript.

Wrapping Atlanta Code Camp in September, I was selected to speak at Dog Food Conference 2018 in October to speak on NativeScript. This is in my own backyard at Columbus,OH. It was here I had chance to meet Chris Demars . You all know him, he is good at heart and great person to interact with. It was through him, I came to know about Google Developer Expert Program. He also speaks and advocates about #a11y in websites.

I was selected to speak at Milwaukee Code Camp in 2017, but I was not able to attend and speak due to personal reasons. While I was exploring opportunities to speak in Wisconsin, I came to know about Central Wisconsin IT Conference. I was selected to speak on two topics – Azure Functions/ Cosmos and NativeScript.  I had just finished Dog Food Conference on Oct 4th and had to travel on Oct 5th to Wisconsin.  Ohio and Wisconsin had bad weather before and the day of conference on Oct 6th. But I still managed to travel to Wisconsin and deliver my talks at CWIT Conference. It was conducted at Stevens Point,WI. It was a good experience to speak at CWIT as well.

While I was attending Columbus App Dev User Group in October, Sam and Doug mentioned to me about David Neal.

They were sharing their experiences after attending the Closing Keynote by David from “That Conference”.

On my return from Wisconsin, I had got my acceptance from Columbus Code Camp to speak on NativeScript. I then just realized that, one whole year has passed with me doing technical speaking. Columbus Code Camp gave me the opportunity to do my public technical speaking in 2017. I was happy that , I am selected to speak for second year. I wanted to do something different. It was almost a month and half by now, I was following David Neal. So I got his permission to include his slide and conveyed his message to all who attended my NativeScript Session. He is really awesome and inspires everyone.

The experiences which I got by following Doug’s advice were great. When ever I want to learn new technology I start to think of submitting CFP on the same, so that I get the motivation to learn the technology.

One would ask me, what I got from doing all the technical speaking. As I stated earlier about stackoverflow  where developers help other developers. It is same inspiration which made me to volunteer to help other developers learn new technology. It was my way of giving back to community by sharing my experience.

If you are aspiring to do public technical speaking, then these resources by Cory House are good one to start with. He is also a great person to follow and get inspired.

I always wanted to do some talks around Identity and Security, but I was not getting time to learn them.  It was during this time, I came to know about Auth0 Ambassador program. What ever activities which I have done till now all helped me to be accepted as Auth0 Ambassador.

In 2018 I started to crawl by reaching Auth0 Ambassador , looking forward to 2019 where I will continue to walk and run.

I wanted to thank all of them who are included in this blog, as in one way or other they all inspired me in my technical speaking journey. It is because of your inspiration , I wanted to give back my technical learning experience to developer community.

I also want to thank my wife, who has been supporting me while I was involved with these activities.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.

We all don’t need permission to be awesome – David Neal



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