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I know I'm transitioning, but I'm not sure what to

4 minute read
by Alex Hillman

I’ve spent some time catching up on videos from FOWA London 08, including highlights of some of my good friends giving really great presentations about things that they believe in and think are important.

It’s got me thinking about the audience of FOWA, and how developer-centric the audience is. I think that’s one of it’s greatest strength, really, and a large contributor to it’s ability to focus. FOWA Miami 08 was one of the best conference’s I’ve been to, hands down.

So looking over the roster of presenters, and thinking about their roles…and then comparing them to my own interests to the tune of, “if Ryan Carson asked me to present at FOWA, what would I say”, I came to some important conclusions.

If you’ve had the pleasure of talking to me sometime in the last couple of weeks, there’s a good chance that you’ve been met with a wicked tongue spitting some admittedly harsh words in the direction of social media, social marketing, and PR “two point oh”. There’s an important distinction that I’ve pointed out repeatedly, and it’s that I came from a different background. Having been a developer prior to…whatever I am now…I spent the time building, or building with, the tools that social media marketing is infatuated with. It’s a lot harder for me to be distracted by shiny objects because, to me, those shiny objects are just tools. As I always did, I’m looking for ways to use those tools, assemble the most powerful toolkits, and doing things with them.

I’m most fulfilled when I’m doing.

I’m not a hater, really. I DO hate playing bad cop, and consciously aware that being a cop at all doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. No matter how strong your police force, people will keep committing crimes.

So while I’ve made a decision a few months back to step away from software development on the code side and put my focus on consulting the in the industry of social technology, I’ve inadvertently slipped into the “social marketer” role for a number of the projects I’ve gotten involved in. Whether or not this a strength of mine is not something I even wish to see through, as I think more about the skills that I’ve had historically.

I’ve been a developer in one way or another for the majority of my life. A problem solver. An analyst. I’ve had a knack for marketing myself and the projects I’m involved in. But when that’s the only role I have – being a megaphone – I’m unfulfilled.

Honestly, I don’t think I could ever be an independent marketer long term. I don’t hate on it, I just don’t get off on it either.

So do I need to be a “coder” in order to be a developer? I don’t think so. I never want to step away from code 100% because I truly love writing code, but there are others who are even more whiz-bang than me. If I have something else to offer, I want to give it a go.

I’m still pretty open about the fact that I’m transitioning, and I’m not 100% sure into what. I’ve been admittedly following demand, for the sake of my bank account not bottoming out.

But I’m also admittedly desiring fulfillment. I’ve got an undeniable knack for examining a specific market problem, and acting or advising based on the values of openness, authenticity, permissions, community, and social interactions.

If I think about my career path in terms of “What would I present at FOWA”, I realize that I should put focus back on development. Not necessarily on code, but on developing concepts, solving problems, developing relationships and opportunities for collaboration. Focusing on the values of coworking as applied to business. Focusing on the values of collaboration as applied to business. The lessons that Geoff has taught me, and the lessons we’ve learned together.

That’s what IndyHall has been all about for the last 2 years, finding better ways to collaborate. We’ve discovered many, we’ve blindly stumbled upon many, many more. How do I share what we’ve learned, share what I believe in, with others and make that my livelihood? I believe that the discussins surrounding IndyHall Labs is an important step in that direction.  I think that it’s based on an a blend of business plus organic creation, software or otherwise. My hope is that it’s a solution worth sharing at FOWA.

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Hey, thanks for reading!

Alex Hillman I am always thinking about the intersection of people, relationships, trust and business. I founded Indy Hall in 2006, making us one of oldest fully independent coworking communities in the world. This site is packed with the lessons and examples I’ve learned along the way. You can find me on Twitter, too! 🐦 Say hi.