I talk (“brag”) a lot about being a SolarWinds® Head Geek®. Everyone on the Head Geek team (Patrick Hubbard, Thomas LaRock, Kong Yang, Don Jacob, and Praveen Manohar) often gushes about how we feel this is the best job in the world.
But what does being a Head Geek really mean? Is it all tweets about bacon, sci-fi references on video, and Raspberry Pi-connected coffee machines?
Honestly, all that stuff is part of the job. More to the point, being excited about tech, engaging in geek and nerd culture, and being openly passionate about things is part of what makes people want to listen, friend, and follow us Head Geeks.
First and foremost, Head Geeks are experts in, and champions of monitoring and automation—regardless of the tools, techniques, or technology. We know our stuff. We are proud of our accomplishments. And, we love to share everything we know.
Our core message is, “Monitoring and automation are awesome, and companies can derive a huge benefit both financially and operationally from having effective tools in place. I’d love to tell you more about it. Oh, and by-the-way, the company where I work happens to make some cool stuff to help you get that done.” Education and inspiration first—sales second.
In addition, being a Head Geek means:
- Finding and building your voice as a trusted and credible source of information about monitoring and automation for both companies and IT professionals.
- Providing information about new technologies, developments, and techniques, and showing how they impact the current state of technology.
- Building solid opinions about technology based on facts and experience, and then engaging in dialogue and meaningful interactions to share those opinions with the public.
- Being a proponent not just for pure technology, but also for cultural issues and initiatives within the IT community.
- Enjoying the thrill of digging into new products and features (regardless of vendor) and exploring their impact to the IT landscape.
- Mentoring IT pros on honing their skills in using monitoring and automation tools as well as fostering significant and meaningful value, stability, and reliability.
- Using our platform to shine a light on the awesome achievements of other IT pros, not ourselves.
But how does that look day-to-day?
We have a love of writing. Our idea of a great day includes cobbling together 800-2000 words for a magazine or blog post; helping tweak the phrasing on a customer campaign email; and scripting demonstrations that teach customers how to fix a common (or not-so-common) issue, use a feature, or gain insight into the way things work.
Our love of writing goes hand-in-hand with a love of reading. We consume bushels of blogs, piles of podcasts, and multitudes of magazine articles.
We are at ease in front of a crowd. Head Geeks appear in videos (SolarWinds Lab as well as creative videos, tutorials, and demos). We lead webcasts, participate in podcasts, and perform product demonstrations for potential customers. We staff booths and do presentations at trade shows like VMworld®, MS-Ignite, SQL Pass, and Cisco® Live where we get to interact with thousands of IT pros.
We are social media savvy. That goes beyond “the big three.” We seek out the hotbeds of IT discussions—from StackExchange and reddit® to thwack® and SpiceWorks®—and we get involved in the conversations happening there. We contribute, ask, answer, teach, and learn.
But there is even more that happens behind the scenes.
As much as we are a voice of experience and credibility in the IT professional community, our opinions are equally sought after inside SolarWinds.
- Our experience helps set the direction for new features and even new products.
- We interact with the development teams and serve as the voice of the customer.
- We take issues we hear about on the street and make sure they get attention.
- We contribute insight during the design of user interfaces and process flows.
- We push product managers and developers to include features that may be hard to implement, but will honestly delight our users.
Head Geeks are true “technical creatives.” We are critical to many departments—especially the marketing arm of our organization. We make sure that our message speaks with a sincere, passionate, human voice to our customers. We ensure that marketing and sales literature is technically accurate, but also crafted to highlight the features we know customers will be excited to use.
We love a challenge, and we know that the name of the game is change. Can we film two SolarWinds Lab episodes in one day? Let’s give it a shot! Quick, what can we do to help our European team build awareness and excitement? Let’s host a “mega lab” presented in their time zone. How about attending Cisco Live and then doing a week of SolarWinds Lab filming back to back? We’ll be exhausted, but we’re going to get some great material.
Being a Head Geek isn’t for everyone. Not because it takes some magical alchemical mixture of traits, nor because it’s a job that has to be earned with years of sweat and toil. It’s not for everyone because not everyone finds the things I just described to be exciting, rewarding, or fun.
But for those who do—and you can put me firmly in that camp—it’s the job of a lifetime.