“Culture is a Lie,” Paul Czarkowski – Highlights

A good, and fun talk from Paul. He tries to refocus DevOps-y energy from “culture change” to more practical things for individuals to do.

Highlights:

  • You can’t change culture from the bottom. Leaders change the culture, they define it.
  • Culture is behavior.
  • If you want to change culture, you need to change your leadership.
  • Culture: as a practitioner, you can’t change it. And if you’re in a leadership position, you’re incentivized not to change it.
  • “If you choose to die on a hill, you’re gonna die on that fucking hill.”
  • Corollary: “If you don’t decide to die on a hill, you won’t die on that hill.”
  • Generative orgs can create microservices.
  • Others will make monoliths.
  • Most people spend more time justifying not working than working.
  • People who do good work will be pulled down.
  • Most people around you aren’t bad people, they’re just a product of their surroundings.
  • As soon as you start fighting the organization, it’ll start fighting back harder than you.
  • Often said: if your company is acquired by a larger company, leave.
  • Then, some examples of automating governance.

The one minute pitch

Backstage at DevOps Rex

 

As a DevOpsDays sponsor you’re often given the chance to give a one minute pitch to the entire audience. Back stage at DevOps Rex, this week, I was talking with a first timer. One minute seems like such a small amount of time: how could you say anything consequential in 60 seconds? You’re presenting in front of the full audience, anywhere between 150 to 500 people. They probably also loath vendors, or, at least are bored by them. The stage in Paris is intimidating. It’s a huge room in an old cinema, imagine the most stereotypical movie theater from whatever “the golden age” is: double decked seats, a huge screen. Plus, the organizers are meticulous: there’s a rehearsal for these 1 minute pitches in the morning. Like a full one where you’re given a minute to talk. Normally, these pitches are very informal. Overall, it can be a public speaking challenge…plus you have to get up an hour earlier than normal.

People get rattled by these 1 minute talks and they can also give boring pitches. Here’s what how I think about them and what I do:

  1. The goal of this pitch is to tell people the name of your company, what you do, and to get them to come to your table to talk more.
  2. So, tell them the name of your company, what you do, if you have time, the story of a customer who did something remarkable, and give people a reason to come to your booth.
  3. People will come to your booth if you give them something: books, socks, flash lights, whatever. More senior, “decision makers” also want free stuff (they’re not monsters!), but they’ll also come to see how you can help them accomplish their work goals.
  4. If you can tell a joke, even a lame one (of course, not an offensive one), do it, usually towards the start of your pitch. Getting a room full of people to laugh gets them engaged and listening closer. Your pitch more memorable, and also will give you a confidence boost to coast off for the next 45 to 30 seconds.
  5. Finally, if you screw up, it does’t matter. It’s just 60 seconds so it’ll be over quickly and people will still come by your booth if the organizers have done their job for vendors: arranged the sponsor booth placement to drive foot traffic.

Figuring out what to say

The people like socks.

Despite how disorganized and spontaneous I may appear (that’s part of my well planned out and cultivated schtick, a safety valve for when I haven’t prepared, plus it’s a fantastically caustic feedback loop for my self-loathing — yay!) I usually prepare content before each talk.

I write a bunch of points down and reduce it to three points that I want to make. As I wait to get on the stage, I go over these three points my head; I usually write them down and look at them. Ask the local sales people what the make up of the audience is (are the developers, ops people, management, or just a general audience?), and any local events they want to drive people to.

Now, I often forget most, if not all, of that content, but that’s fine, really. Some of it will show-up. And definitely don’t let your three points constrict you, just use them as a fallback and a suggestion.

Being at a DevOps event, you should probably talk about how your company relates to DevOps. I tell people that Pivotal Cloud Foundry removes all the toil of lower-level automation that DevOps is looking to eliminate, the A in CAMS. It makes DevOps real, solves you DevOps problems, et. al., so you can get to the whole reason (the “outcome,” in business speak) for doing DevOps: creating better software and running it reliability in production.

De-wooding

The main thing you want to avoid is being stuffy. If you’re wearing a sports jacket (without being ironic), I’ve found that you’re more likely to give a stuffy talk — someone like Damon Edwards can sports-jacket all day, but he’s the exception that proves the rule.

If you’re just naturally wooden in public speaking situations, try to say something about your involvement in the pitch: how does it make you feel and how do you relate to it? Talking about yourself is easy as you’re the expert on the topic and have hopefully been there the whole time.

A little bit of humor goes a long way in these tiny talks. For example, Pivotal’s main product is well known for being more expensive than free, but it works and changes the fortunes of organizations that use it. That’s a good thing to joke about (“good thing it actually works ’cause it ain’t cheap”), or weird branding names (“for some reason, we call these ‘platform engineers’ rather than ‘SREs’”). I sometimes make a joke about PaaS, the cloud category Pivotal Cloud Foundry is in: “remember PaaS from five or so years back? It was terrible! Well, we’re a PaaS, but we doesn’t suck so much this time, it actually works!”

Don’t worry about it

Those are some sweet pants. Photo by @bridgetkromhout.

The stakes of this pitch are extremely low. Look at it as more of a learning experience for yourself, practice for next time. If you biff, nothing bad will happen unless you work for shitty management that punishes you for 60 seconds of time (start looking for a new job — Pivotal is hiring!).

Some people like to memorize pitches, which is fine if that helps you. Most of all, the way to succeed at these pitches it to have fun, be playful.

You’ll be fine. Good luck!

Not actually a DevOps talk

I get asked to talk on DevOps a lot. Here’s my current (late 2016 and 2017) presentation, going over the why’s, the how’s, the technologies, and the meatware that supports including some best and worst practices based on what Pivotal customers do. See the newer slides with big pictures on most slides, and some of the older slides

Also, here’s a more blatantly pro-Pivotal (and longer) version that you might have seen, esp. if the talk title was something like “Digital Transformation in the Streets.”

Much of it draws a lot on my cloud native journey booklets as well.

DevOps for Normals

This is one of the talks I give at DevOpsDays and other places. You can check out a recording of me doing it early on at DevOpsDays Austin (slides), and there’s many iterations on it. Here’s me doing it at SpringOne Platform 2016, and the slides for DevOpsDays DFW, 2016.

If you’re like me and you prefer the internet over meat-sacks, for more Pivotal material like free books and two months of free PaaS, check out my Pivotal page. Also, for some discounts to various conferences – including a few DevOpsDays – check out my discount code page.

DevOpsDays Detroit, 2015

Thanks for coming out the DevOpsDays Detroit!

Here’s the goodies:

And, while you’re here, feel free to come by the table and talk with us. We have rockets and three dimensional versions of Matt Stine’s book, all free for the taking.

The Coming Donkey Apocalypse, DevOpsDays Austin recording

My talk from DevOpsDays Austin is up. Check it out if you’ve been curious about the talk track to the mute slides.

As a reminder, there’s a prose version of the talk available as well in one of my FierceDevOps columns, and here’s the slides.

Check out my love affair with “uh” in the begining, I think it clears up a bit at the end.

Don’t fear “closed” systems

After my Ignite talk at DevOpsDays last week, Barton George did a “so, what did you just talk about?” video, above. It’s a pretty good summary of the point I as trying to make in the talk: we’re well into an “integrated” phase of the IT industry.

And check out all the other interviews Barton did at Velocity and DevOpsDays last week.

More on working on DevOps products

Back at DevOpsDays Austin last week, John and I sat down for a (now-a-days) rare recording. He was interested in talking about the presentation I’d given the day before on lessons learned form working on a DevOps product, Crowbar, at Dell.