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James Rutherford on 20 Years of Drupal - a Tag1 TeamTalk miniseries
Episode 8418th October 2021 • Tag1 Team Talks | The Tag1 Consulting Podcast • Tag1 Consulting, Inc.
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Tag1 continues its series celebrating 20 years of Drupal in this Tag1 Team Talk with Pantheon’s Senior Manager of Strategic Partnerships, James Rutherford. Before moving to Pantheon, James was a long-time member of Mediacurrent, one of the largest agencies working with and creating Drupal websites.

James joins Tag1 Managing Director Michael Meyers for another walk down the halls of Drupal history, from early versions of Drupal to today’s highly experienced agencies.  James’ initial Drupal experience was with Georgia Public Broadcasting. Over the years, James has worked with many clients - some of whom moved to Drupal from their homegrown CMS, to major launches such as weather.com. Join us for this talk, and learn more about how it’s not just the code - it’s the community that makes Drupal successful. 

Transcripts

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Hello, and welcome to Tag1 Team Talks the blog and podcast of Tag1 Consulting.

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We're commemorating the 20th anniversary of Drupal with an interview series,

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featuring community leaders, talking about their Drupal experiences, how

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Drupal has impacted their personal and professional lives, what Drupal

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means to them and their thoughts on the future of the platform and community.

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I'm Michael Meyers the managing director of Tag1.

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And I'm joined today by James Rutherford, the senior manager of

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strategic partnerships at Pantheon.

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Welcome James.

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Thank you so much for joining me today.

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Really appreciate it.

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Uh, thanks, Mike.

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I'm really, I'm really excited to be here.

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It's been, um, something I've been looking forward to and, uh, excited

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on kind of looking back throughout, uh, what we've done in Drupal and,

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uh, to, to have this conversation,

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Definitely you are a longtime member of the community.

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Uh, you got involved around 2007, which is around 14 years ago.

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And if memory serves me correctly, that's right about when Drupal 5

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was being released, you are one of the first 200,000 or so people to

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create an account on drupal.org.

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Uh, tell me, how did you first discover drupal?

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Yeah.

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so at the time that, we first discovered Drupal, I was just a few

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years out of college working at, uh, Georgia Public Broadcasting,

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which is a public media company, uh, serves to the state of Georgia.

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And, um, as a public media company, it actually serves multiple functions.

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There's a education function and there's a television function and

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radio function, all of which serve the needs of the citizens of Georgia.

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And they actually have a need for a robust, digital presence

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to help communicate with, um, the citizens and serve their mission.

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And when I was hired there, they were, uh, just like a lot of organizations

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at the time, running on a custom home built Java JSP based CMS.

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I had, uh, focused on Java in school and come out and had started working.

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On a Java JSP based websites.

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So it was a good fit to join that team.

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But, um, you know, for a lot of the same reasons why, uh, Drupal

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and the open-source movement have grown, it's tremendously difficult

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to serve the needs of an organization that big with a homegrown CMS.

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So every ask from internal teams was met with like really long

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timelines to do development.

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The stack was really fragile and we, um, right around the time that I discovered

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Drupal embarked on a internal project to evaluate what the next technologies

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we should rebuild the site in should be.

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And, um, as, as part of that exercise, we did many projects.

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I did my first Rails project.

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We built like a little video site in Rails.

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We evaluated Joomla, did a micro-site in Joomla and, uh, spent a lot of time there.

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And, you know, in hindsight that seems maybe like, Hmm, why would you do that?

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But at the time, Joomla also had a lot of adoption.

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Was considered an extensible CMS and seemed to have some, uh, some motion.

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And then we did, we did a mini project in Drupal 5.

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I felt really strongly that, um, that was going to be the platform

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of choice and we, uh, rebuilt GPB's website, uh, and Drupal 5.

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And I mean, it was really, uh, I think a little bit of luck for us because

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the team was pretty inexperienced.

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So we were maybe not evaluating it with the level of expertise that, um, would be

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desired, but at the same time, It was an incredible project because even at that

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state for Drupal 5 level, what Drupal brought to the table really empowered a

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small, younger team to deliver a ton of value for Georgia Public Broadcasting.

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Um, and we had a ton of false starts who probably talk about this a little

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bit more, but if you look at my d.o history, um, there was a whole bunch of

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hilarious, like how does this thing work?

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We added this module and all of a sudden performance is struggling

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and I can't figure out why.

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Um, but what was tremendous about that is that we were able to interact with the

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community and very quickly solve problems.

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Like that's a huge value add that I think a lot of organizations, um,

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either overlook or are so used to, they don't get the value of that.

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Like the empowerment for, you know, it was, uh, basically a less experienced

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team to be able to meet the needs of a larger organization and do so

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really effectively from a cost and a quality of the final product.

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I don't know if the earliest Drupal forums are still around, but I

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would be grateful if they were not.

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I need to look back at some of the questions I asked.

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Um, wow.

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I actually really enjoy it.

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I mean, it's, um, it's funny, but, uh, occasionally I will go back and look

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at my D.O profile and even like other forums stuff at the time, because it's

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just amazing, like timestamp of my own career progression and everybody starts,

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you know, everybody's new at some point.

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Um, and it's like my entire working record on Drupal is there, uh, on D.O,

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which is kind of cool to look back on.

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You remember, you know, what do you remember about the project and your

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earliest experiences with Drupal?

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You know, I remember when I first installed it, I was like,

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oh my God, look at all of these SQL queries on a single page.

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Like this thing is gonna fall over and die.

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Like, what am I doing?

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Like, why did I use this.

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I, um, uh, I love that quote or that, that anecdote.

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Um, for me, it was a reconfiguring of my mindset around best practices and having

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to, uh, and it took me a little while.

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I think my team adopted it earlier than I did feeling very comfortable

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molding the requirements of the project.

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To what Drupal was giving me and what the community was leading with

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versus, um, enforcing my own idea of what I thought was best and then

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trying to bend Drupal to my will.

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And a lot of my early posts and comments are areas where, like,

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I kind of struggled with that.

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And when I let go and started to really dive in and understand why Drupal was

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solving a problem in the way that it did, and then help, you know, the people

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that I was serving, um, to understand that value that's when we that's, when

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you know, my Drupal, uh, proficiency took off and that's when we started

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to get the most value out of it.

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So it took a little while to like, um, and I was a little horrified by like some of

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the choices around the way modules worked, but like after awhile it clicks, you know,

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Do you remember what your first contribution was to the community or code?

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I know it was a long time ago, but one of the first contributions.

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Yeah.

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Um, I think I do, uh, so fast forward from Georgia Public Broadcasting.

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I, um, I worked there for a couple of years.

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Did that Drupal 5 site.

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It was really, really successful.

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Um, the state of Georgia was awesome.

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They loved the site.

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So we were able to go to DrupalCon and immerse our team in Drupal.

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And that led to me, um, I think at DrupalCon Boston, but then again in

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San Francisco running into the founders of Mediacurrent, and, um, them knowing

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that I was from Atlanta and, uh, being interested in getting me to work for them.

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So when I went to work for them, one of my first big projects was for company

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in Atlanta called Manhattan associates.

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And they had a, a fairly complex site that was trying to solve problems

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around translation in D6 as well as, um, leveraging some aspects of

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domain access to create microsites and some efficiencies from the, um,

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theming layer that we built for them.

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Which added a ton of complexity at the time in D6.

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That was, that was tough.

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So I think my first module was, uh, something called language code alias,

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uh, which basically tokenize, uh, the, the path prefix code so that we could

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use it in some of the, uh, workaround modules that we were developing.

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So very, very niche, but, um, Manhattan Associates and the leadership there

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really bought into our vision of the fact that, um, they they're going to need this

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type of functionality for a long time.

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And it would be valuable for us to take time, to put it, um,

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put it on D.o and support it.

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I want to talk more about Mediacurrent and your time there, but before we jump into

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that, there are many ways to contribute to Drupal, code is just one of them.

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Uh, could you tell us, you know, what are some of your community

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contributions that you've made outside of the code base over the years.

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Yeah.

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Um, this, we could do 4 hours on this and maybe it's the most important thing to

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talk about on this type of conversation.

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Um, I, I look back at all of the time that I've spent working in the

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Drupal community, which has been the vast majority of my career,

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all the DrupalCons that I went to.

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And if I think of my own personal contributions, I'd like to think

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that, um, you know, uh, frankly, a lot of it has come through mentoring.

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Like once I was started down my career path and, um, was really convinced of the

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value of Drupal and thinking about how to leverage it correctly, thinking about how

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to communicate to customers or new people in the community, how to be successful

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in Drupal, whether that's career path, whether that's, um, thought leadership.

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That is, um, where I think I spent most of my time making impact.

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So that was like taking the time to do presentations at DrupalCon, which

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I don't, I'm not a public speaker.

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I mean, getting ready for a single presentation is hours

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and hours of agonizing work.

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And I can't sleep, uh, leading up to that.

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And I'm sure I didn't have the most memorable presentations, but every

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person that does that in the Drupal community does puts a lot of time

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and effort into educating our peers.

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That's extremely valuable.

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Um, other areas of impact would be like participating in birds of a

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feather sessions, helping to connect thought leaders in the space that,

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you know, through my own professional circle, I see them working on the

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same problem and saying like, Hey, you know, we should be working.

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We should all be working on this together, even if we're

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we're different organizations.

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Um, and then from a more like immediate, uh, contribute back aspect, the team at

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Mediacurrent at the time that I was there.

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And through most of the time I was there sort of like that core group that a lot

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of agencies have that all grow together.

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Had a very real emphasis on, um, code contribution.

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And that's not something that just happens at the individual developer level.

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Like I want to contribute code.

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So I'll find time in my spare time to do that.

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There's a lot of great people that do that and they drive our community, but

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not everyone has the time to do that.

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Or, you know, not everyone has the time to do that over time.

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You might do that for a couple of years, but then you have kids, your

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life changes your, you know, you have constraints around your free time.

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And so, uh, for our perspective, and this is still how I think

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Mediacurrent operates today, but I can definitely say the time that I

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was there, we made a concerted effort.

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From the first time we talked to a customer to how we manage our

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internal employees to try to drive time for the team to contribute back.

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So that's something like, you know, during the initial, um, Sales process

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and helping a prospect understand why they should be investing in Drupal or

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choosing Mediacurrent to uh, leverage Drupal to solve their problems,

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educating them to how the open source community works, what the benefits are

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contributing and really helping them understand the long-term impact on their

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own organization, as well as, um, their, you know, the problems that they can't

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see in the future, but by contributing and creating a healthy community,

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uh, from an open-source perspective.

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And then internally that's things like, you know, um, marking time for the

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team to have during the working day to do that, asking ourselves like on a

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given project, did we contribute back the things that are most impactful?

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What did we miss?

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Um, and then there's also some, like there's some luck and

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financial aspect to it too.

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As agencies move up market and they work with organizations that have

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larger budgets, like there's more of an opportunity to do that and they

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should be taking that opportunity.

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Mediacurrent is one of the most well-known and, uh, I think influential agencies in

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the, in the Drupal world, uh, and they've consistently, you know, uh, throughout

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their history have been one of the top 20 agencies contributing to Drupal.

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Um, they were acquired by Code and Theory around 2015, uh, which was really one

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of the first, you know, major, you know, agency acquisitions and consolidations.

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Um, how much of this, you know, contribution driven methodology

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do you think drives the success of Mediacurrent, you know, led to its

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acquisition, you know, the client base.

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I mean, I think it's a huge part of Mediacurrent's success.

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Um, when you develop a culture and a mindset around, um, empowering

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the team to contribute back, you attract another level of talent.

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I think that that's very, very important too.

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And then you attract another level of expertise when, um, a good section of your

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engineering team or even, you know, part of project management are contributors

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or thought leaders, which is just another type of contribution in this space.

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Um, there's a tremendous impact on, uh, your business, which I

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think a lot of top agencies see.

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All things being equal when an organization has evaluating um, a

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digital agency having that frontline expertise where you have multiple

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members of the team are shaping the path to the community and the project.

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That's a huge value add, I think, um, and our customers thought so as well.

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And then there's some continuity there.

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I think, you know, if you look at long time, uh, Mediacurrent members like

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Damien McKenna, who are also massive community leaders and really care about

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the project, their like expertise.

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They're focused, their understanding of open source permeates

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throughout the organization.

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And they kind of make everyone better around them, um, from the, uh, all

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aspects, but especially from understanding why it's important to contribute.

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So I think we were really fortunate to get the right internal team and then

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have the leadership at Mediacurrent sort of coalesce around the idea that

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this was really positive and impactful.

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And that had like a multi-year effect for, for Mediacurrent as an agency.

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Definitely.

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Um, I think everybody knows that I am, uh, you know, worked very hard to get

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organizations to contribute, you know, it's, it's near and dear to my heart.

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And I think, you know, in everyone's mutual best interests.

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Um, I don't want to put you on the spot here.

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Uh, but you know, your role at Pantheon as the manager for strategic partnerships,

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you have a lot of influence over agencies.

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You know, all of us want to work with Pantheon.

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Everybody wants to have a great relationship with Pantheon.

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So you're in a really unique position to influence agencies and agency behaviors.

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Um, you know, how would you like to see agencies contribute more to Drupal?

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And is there a way that, you know, you and your role, and Pantheon, um, as an

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organization can do more to influence, you know, how agencies contribute, and

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the amount that they contribute to.

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Yeah, I love, I love that question.

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Um, I'll start with, uh, frankly, I don't think that, uh, the team,

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my team at Pantheon is doing a good enough job of communicating

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that value out to the agencies.

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Um, but it's definitely something that we consider to be important.

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And it's an opportunity as the team and the program there grows.

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When you think about, um, The role of a Pantheon in a, in a partnership with an

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agency, our goal, our whole role is to make agencies better, to help them be more

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successful, to get a good understanding of what they're trying to achieve.

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And part of that is almost always education.

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Like one of the most challenging parts of running an agency or

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being part of an agency is that your heads down doing the work.

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And it's very difficult to pop your head up in the air and say, how are,

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how are things changing in the industry?

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How are things, how are my peers doing things?

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And if you've been successful with your way of execution, you tend

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to stay in that way of execution.

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So I, you know, my personal belief is that there's a ton

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of agencies that could execute.

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The same way a Mediacurrent does and gain those benefits and just aren't doing it.

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Not because they don't believe in it, not because they don't

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have the capabilities to do it.

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It's because they haven't been exposed to what the benefits will be.

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And, you know, sort of have the ability to make that real and communicate

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that to their own customers so that they can get the buy-in to do that.

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And I think, you know, Pantheon's role, uh, now and in the future, uh, and

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increasingly in the future is to help be, um, a thought leader in that space

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and help educate our agencies so that they can educate their customers and get

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that buy-in on, on why it's valuable.

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Definitely, um, one area that I, that I, you know, that we're struggling

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with, is always, how to convince our clients in the contract stage.

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You know, we're going through a, one of those massive MSAs become an

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approved vendor, 40 page contract, and it is not open source friendly.

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And, you know, obviously we're going to work with these big enterprises and

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we know they can have a big impact, but it takes a tremendous amount of

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effort and energy upfront to kind of educate them, their legal team.

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Um, and it's, you know, it's always a struggle and challenge and I'd

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imagine an area where, you know, organizations could use a lot of help

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because it sets that that foundation.

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it's the biggest challenge in our industry.

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Um, it's not just a challenge from helping them understand the value of open source.

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It's a tremendous challenge around.

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Helping organizations take the correct mindset when approaching their website.

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We have a legacy from, um, enterprise systems from years and years and years

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ago where the idea of purchasing software or building an application follows a

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rigid structure of upfront requirements.

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There's a legal need to protect the, the delivery of what gets finished and define,

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uh, the, the project ahead of time.

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And even as the industry's evolved.

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And I think for the most part, we have to this idea of understanding that agile is

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important and that we can define an MVP.

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I think we still have an industry that.

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Thinks of success in terms of was the project delivered on time, was the

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project delivered on budget and is, I'm not as interested in what is the

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impact of this project a month from now three months from now a year from now?

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And that's a combination of, it's really hard to measure that impact sometimes,

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uh, it can be scary to measure that impact

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sometimes.

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You spend a significant amount of money rebuilding your website or

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replatforming, and no one wants to look and see if engagement is up or

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down, or if they do, you kind of want to massage the numbers cause you might

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not be getting the story that you want.

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And that, that aligns really closely with the why, uh,

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behind, uh, open source, right?

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Like if you're looking at.

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Your investment in digital as a single project that then you go away

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from, and it just sort of runs away.

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And you're not thinking about total cost of ownership.

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You're not taking a long view of the, uh, your organization's objectives.

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And when you start to change that story, when you start to look at like

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the platform that I'm building as an investment for the next 4 or 5 years,

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not six months, not this time that I'm here, then you start to look at, um,

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things like contributing back the code that we're doing, letting the community

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embrace it, iterate on it and prove it as a tremendously valuable investment.

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Right.

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Um, I think like just crazy, the free expertise that you're getting,

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looking at your code iterating on it, contributing back, like probably key

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aspects of your own internal stack.

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Um, so for organizations that can take that long view, which

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are rare, I think they get it.

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Um, and it's easier to communicate and then maybe more tactically for

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organizations that don't get that.

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I think, um, my experience has always been that.

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As a, as an agency, as a consultative partner, we have to be okay with meeting

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them on their terms for the initial project, even if we don't desire it,

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but then like be working from day one to help them understand the why of the way

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that we work and have our most successful projects so that you can really knock

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that first one out of the park and gain the trust from that organization.

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That the next thing that we do the next phase for us is going to consider things

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like contributions from open source or take that longer view where we're, um,

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you know, comfortable understanding that it's just as important to understand if

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the website is, is impacting the business or the organization in three months and

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six months and nine months, um, when you get, uh, teams and organizations

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to adopt that mindset, then the, the open-source contribution aspect of it

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is it is a natural component of it.

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I think it's a really important point, you know, gaining the trust,

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building success for your clients, and then having an opportunity

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to help them be more successful.

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And I'd love to see more organizations focus on long-term success and total

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cost of ownership as, as you put it.

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And, and, and not just on the upfront build costs because their success is

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really dependent upon making that shift.

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Um, speaking of shifts, uh, I wanna, I wanna change gears a minute here.

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Um, what's been the best part about being part of the Drupal community for you.

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Oh, um, there's so many like ways to answer that question.

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I'll tell you through a couple of like mini stories, I can't see the Drupal

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logo without, uh, thinking of my kids, playing with Drupal Drops that I would

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bring back from DrupalCon where my children know what a Drupal Drop is.

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It's like they have a couple of Drupal plushes that are part of

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their, um, you know, you know, things that they've kept since childhood.

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And, um, they confidently say that Daddy does Drupal.

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It's like, it's, it's pretty amazing to think of the technology in a

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community that you're part of within the context of your family, but that's

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absolutely, um, what's happened to me.

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And then outside of my own personal family, Uh, my professional career,

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I would not be where I am today.

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I would not have got to work with the great people and amazing teams that

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I've gotten to work on without Drupal.

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And I think it's because the Drupal that the concept of open source as a project

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and Drupal is a, you know, obviously an open source project attracts a certain

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type of person that's collaborative, um, that is here to do great work.

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Um, but you know, also is the type of person that you make connections with.

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That lasts a really long time.

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I still talk to a team that I worked with at Georgia Public Broadcasting.

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I'm still close with the team that I worked with at Mediacurrent.

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I have, um, uh, amazing colleagues at Pantheon that get that same vision.

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So there's like a, a mindset that makes it so that your involvement

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in Drupal, I think becomes a bigger part of your life and it's my job.

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Um, and it also at the same time, it's a very comfortable thing.

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You don't.

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It's not a club where I have to, you know, be measured by how many commits I have.

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Right.

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If it was you, wouldn't be, you wouldn't be having you on this podcast

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from my, um, you know, two sandboxes in, uh, in a abandoned project.

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Um, and so, uh, sorry, if it's about impact.

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I mean, it's impacted literally every facet of my life.

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Um, maybe another important part of it is professional career growth.

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Like the Drupal community is such an amazing place for people to come and

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learn and get better in every single way.

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Every DrupalCon every camp is your peers, helping you understand what to focus

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on, what matters in the industry, what the impact can be, and then coming in,

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you know, I've never, ever seen a, um, interaction in the Drupal community.

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I'm not sure like with thousands of us that happens occasionally,

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but from my own personal experience where someone can be brand new, um,

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and they get guidance and direction.

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What are the next steps?

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How to focus, what to think about if they want to make a career here, or

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someone could have been in the community for 10 years, and we're just sharing

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anecdotes or even, you know, the latest thing that we're focusing on.

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So it's a pretty, pretty impactful, um, mindset that I think the community has and

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something that I'm really grateful that I got to be and continue to be part of.

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The pervasive influence and impact of Drupal on our lives.

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Personal and professional always amazes me.

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Um, I remember, you know, vividly those Drupal Drops and the Digital

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Echidna, you know, those Echidna puck plushies so many things that I've

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brought back for my nieces and whatnot.

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Um, do you have, you know, uh, another, you know, favorite, Drupal memory or

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experience that, stands out in your mind?

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Yeah.

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Um, I have a ton of them.

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Um, but just because of my own personal career and the time and effort that

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went into the project, I think for me, like the highlight of my Drupal

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experience is probably, um, launch day for the weather.com project that

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Mediacurrent did with Acquia and with, um, the amazing, amazing team at Weather.

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That was a, I think a nine month project.

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Um, uh, really, at the time advanced, uh, partially decoupled architecture

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with Drupal 7 multiple teams, I was embedded at Weather working alongside

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those folks for months, and it was just one of those amazing projects where

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it's like high stakes, high stress, but everyone pulls together, you know,

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everyone's rowing in the same direction.

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We just had, we had brilliant people working on there at the time.

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Um, a guy named Jason Smith who's was a solutions architect and

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Mediacurrent now works for Red Hat, just incredibly brilliant guy.

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Um, the weather.com team was, uh, also just full of brilliant

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engineers and people leaders.

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And, um, we were all sort of in the, like a mission command room when, uh, we

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turned the dial and all of the traffic started to hit Weather and that's a like a

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. You know, sort of make or break moment.

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It's really hard to simulate that level of traffic with the complexity of the system.

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And, uh, you know, the launch went really well.

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It's the first time in the history of weather, weather.com that they

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tried a new CMS and it didn't fall over on the first try.

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That's a great feeling, you know, you love, um, you love those projects

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where it's a big win, but more importantly, like to me, uh, it

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became like lifelong friendships, uh, again, associated with Drupal.

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I still talk to a lot of that team at Weather, even though they're onto

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different things and different projects and maybe even different technologies.

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So yeah, that was a big one.

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That was a standout moment in the history of Drupal.

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I think, I mean, Weather, yeah, I think it was a first top 10 website.

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Maybe only top 10 website to use Drupal.

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There were a couple of top one hundreds, but, uh, that was by far,

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in a way, you know, the, you know, one of the biggest public launches

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ever, if not the biggest, uh, and a marquee, you know, for, for Drupal.

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So, um, we talked a lot about, you know, positive impacts and, and, and

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your favorite things about Drupal.

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Uh, I'm curious, you know, we'll get a little controversial here, maybe.

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What is your least favorite aspect of Drupal or the Drupal community?

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Ooh, least favorite aspects?

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Um,

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I, you know, I don't think it's unique to Drupal, but I think it's, um, it's

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something that I think that we should have more community awareness around and

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think about how we proactively manage it.

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And that is, um, so it's definitely not unique to Drupal, but Drupal

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empowers it in a way that maybe a lot of other software frameworks don't,

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which is the idea that like, you know, uh, when you have Drupal as a

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hammer, everything looks like a nail.

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Um, and that's, that's not good.

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We should be thinking about, uh, what are the organizations we're working

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for, or our customers or the users that we're serving what their needs are.

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And we should be okay with, um, understanding when and

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where Drupal is the right fit.

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Um, and that's something that I think maybe I know I'm

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definitely guilty of in the past.

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Uh, but as a community, because Drupal is so powerful and so

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extensible, um, it's something that, uh, maybe we could get better at.

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And it's really important for the life of the community.

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You know, every.

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If we misuse Drupal and we don't create, um, tooling and websites and, uh, projects

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that drive value for organizations, then the team that invested the money

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and their, their effort and their time.

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And maybe sometimes the mission critical aspects of what they're trying to do.

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They walk away and say like, Drupal's a terrible technology.

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That's not, I don't like Drupal.

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I'm going to try something else.

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And, um, I think it's important that we don't set up organizations for like

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high risk projects when, when or where Drupal might not be the right fit and,

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or, uh, you know, maybe an extension of that is like Drupal will allow

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you to architect and over architect your way into a corner, um, in a way

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that many other technologies don't.

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And it's really important that we, as a community, focus on our

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customers and our users needs and feel very comfortable pushing back.

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I could do that.

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Drupal would allow us to do that, but that doesn't really solve your problem.

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And also we'd be creating a lot of code debt and, um, I don't think it's

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intentional, but I think there's a lot of money spent and maybe over-engineering

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some things in Drupal to get it exactly the way that a stakeholder wanted it

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versus something that will impact the users and that, uh, you know, it can be

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negatively impactful on the community and on the perception of Drupal, which

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is really important for us to consider.

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So what do you think the biggest threat to Drupal is right now?

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Um, I think some of it is the same vein of what I talked about earlier, which

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is, you know, the people that are working in driving decisions around Drupal,

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safeguarding, the understanding that it's really important that, um, you know, all

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things being equal there there's always, um, some projects and teams that just

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don't understand the technology, uh, that the, the sites that we're building,

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the projects that we're doing in Drupal are impactful and are thoughtful.

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And we're not just building whatever we're being asked to

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build because the money is there.

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Um, because ultimately then we're measuring the value of Drupal and its

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ability to serve the needs of, um, the world, like the potential, uh, uh, users

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of Drupal, like a project at a time.

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So that's a threat, I think.

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Um, and the second is good stewardship of the open source.

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Uh, ethos and contributions to the community.

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Like we have a amazing when you look at the history of Drupal from 4 to 5 to

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six, there are a number of names that stand out where we're really standing on

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the shoulders of giants that contributed so much time and code and effort

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into making Drupal better, like one version, one contrib module at a time.

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Um, but those people are not inexhaustible resources.

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So there has to be a pattern of, you know, educating new people into the community,

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helping them contribute, helping them understand why it's valuable, helping

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them understand why it's valuable in the context of their career, their customers,

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and making it really easy to participate.

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And I, I mean, I say this and say like, maybe it's something that even

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I haven't paid as much attention to.

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Not even, I, that sounds ridiculous, but it's definitely something I

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haven't paid as much attention to.

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It's really easy to drift away from, which is why I'm super grateful

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that you invited me to talk today.

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And, you know, organizations like Tag1 are carrying the banner.

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Um, but it's important.

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Like if we stagnant as a community, um, then I think the

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project itself will, will falter.

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Definitely.

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It takes a lot of effort and energy to, to keep contributing.

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And it's okay for folks, if it waxes and wanes, we have busy lives, you

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know, I think like you said, we just need to remember the positive benefits

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that we get out of it, you know, do it because it benefits you not

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altruistically necessarily, you know, there's a lot of value in it for you.

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You're going to grow, you're going to benefit your

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organization is going to benefit.

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Um, and yeah, it's okay.

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If it waxes and wanes, we're, we're all super busy.

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Um, You know, you talked about all of these amazing people in

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the community, you know, uh, a community isn't a single person.

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Uh, and I'm sure that, you know, like you said, standing on the shoulder

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of giants, there are many people who helped and supported you over the years.

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Uh, but if you had to highlight one, you know, maybe two people that had a really

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big impact on your success and growth, you know, in the community, you know,

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whether it's personal or professional, uh, who'd you give a shout out to.

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Ah, it's hard to do that because there are so many people and I'll be leaving.

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I'm leaving people out, but, um, I guess I'll, I'll pick one.

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And, uh, uh, because, uh, well, there are many, many, many people, and that

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could be its own podcast, but I'm definitely one of the most impactful

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people for me is, um, a colleague of mine from Mediacurrent named Dawn Aly

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and Dawn, um, came on to the Mediacurrent team, uh, with agency experience

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and came on to be a senior project manager and joined Mediacurrent around

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the time that most of the enterprise Drupal agencies in the space were

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uh, engineering teams first and foremost, you know, companies would

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come to us and say, we'd like to build a website, we've got some ideas.

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We would design and architect and build the website and hand back the

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code, maybe stay close with them to do maintenance, but it was very, very

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code focused feature function focused.

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Um, and that was, I think a lot of it in a lot of ways, that's where the

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industry was, especially in the Drupal, um, uh, space and Dawn relentlessly

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drove a customer first perspective that I think I had already had a seed of

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internally, but, uh, it, it affected me in a way that has positively impacted my

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career since then, and had a tremendous amount of impact on Mediacurrent.

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And it's in its high growth phase and really helped us, um, to evolve and

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become a better agency for our customers.

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Not that we weren't thinking customer first, but it was really.

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Um, maturation of the customer facing team to be able to feel very comfortable.

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To say.

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Well, hold up.

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Why are we doing this?

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You know, why are we doing this request?

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How is this going to impact you?

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Does this, does this align with the goals that you set as your organization?

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And when you have those conversations, um, and you help teams, you help

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your customers realize their goals and, and, you know, uh,

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kind of stop being an order taker.

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That's when you build long-term partnerships.

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Absolutely.

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And that's the only way to do it.

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And that, um, that affects everything from, uh, you know, your, for me, my

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own personal satisfaction, we want not just successful projects, but like

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really, really happy customers that you build long-term relationships with.

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It helps me encourage growth as an agency.

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Um, you get when you're not going project to project, and you're in long-term

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partnerships with customers with, uh, forecasted revenues and goals, then you

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get to take more control over your agency.

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You get to, uh, hire at the right pace.

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You get to say like, where else can we extend our capabilities?

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And not everything has to be.

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Based around, like how many hours did we bill, uh, or, you know, if only we can

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land this next big project we can grow.

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Uh, so this is this tremendous impact on the customer and on the agency.

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And Dawn, um, was relentless and helping us all focus on that, built

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out an amazing digital strategy team.

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And, um, at the same time, uh, even though she wasn't contributing code to

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the Drupal project was making us all think through the lens of Drupal of how we're,

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uh, better serving our customer's needs.

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So she was tremendously impactful.

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It's really important to remember that there's so much more than code

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that makes Drupal, uh, and there are ways for everybody to get involved

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and to contribute in ways that everybody can learn and benefit.

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Before we wrap up.

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Um, I want to ask you to pass the torch.

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You know, you mentioned all these great people that have

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made contributions to Drupal.

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Uh, when you think of someone who's had a lot of influence, a lot of impact

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on the platform and the community over the years, what's one of the

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first names that comes to mind.

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And why do you think I should reach out to them.

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So, um,

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um, Dawn doesn't have a commit to her name, but I absolutely think

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that you should reach out to Dawn.

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She, um, actually works at Red Hat now and works with the Drupal team there.

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Has, you know, spent the same amount of time.

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I think we have for thereabouts directly focused on Drupal projects

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and her lens and understanding of how to help teams and non-technical

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stakeholder holders realize the value of Drupal and an open source approach.

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And then just the broader application of how to think about

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creating success for the website.

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Um, and she's a great speaker and, uh, uh, I think she'd be

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valuable for you to interview.

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So I would recommend Dawn.

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Awesome.

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Thank you.

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I will definitely reach out to her.

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Uh, James really appreciate you joining me today, uh, to all our viewers.

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We really appreciate you joining us as well.

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If you like this talk, please remember to upvote subscribe and share it out.

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You can check out all our interviews in this series at

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tag1.com/20 that's two zero.

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You can also check out our past Tag1 Team Talks and the latest

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technology topics at tag1.com/talks.

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As always.

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We'd love your feedback and any topic suggestions you can

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write to us at talks@tag1.com.

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That's tag the number one.com.

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Thanks again for tuning in take care, everybody.

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