Developer Avocados: The Good Kind of Fat

Mary Thengvall
Jan 31, 2018 · 3 min read

When I joined SparkPost in November 2015, I saw quite a few references to avocados within the Developer Relations team and on various channels that we maintained. While I’m all about the avocados (and avocado puns), I finally asked about the reference one day. It turns out that one of our Project Managers had a hard time saying “Developer Advocate” when she got to talking quickly. Instead, it often came out as “Developer Avocado.” Given how much my co-worker Aydrian Howard loves avocados, he took on the mantle of “Developer Avocado” without much prompting. This grew into a brilliant analogy for Developer Relations, which he and I have used countless times since then. (Sidenote: This is also why my consulting firm is called Persea Consulting. Persea is the scientific genus for avocados, and also lends to thinking about “persons”, which nicely translates to community and developer relations.)

So here you have it… 6 reasons why Developer Advocates (and Developer Relations teams) are just like Avocados.

  • As we all know, avocados are a good kind of fat. Used at the right times, in the right ways, with the right combinations of items, they can be an amazing benefit.
  • Avocados are also expensive, to a point where some food establishments in Los Angeles list “avocado toast” as “market price” on their menu. Similarly, as I mentioned above, developer relations teams tend to be one of the more expensive departments, but it’s done in order to create a good, healthy, inviting environment for our community.
  • Avocados tend to take on the flavor of things around them. Likewise, Developer Relations teams tend to be fluid in goals, what department they’re in, and what the group looks like, depending on the needs and goals of the company.
  • Avocados go so well with so many different types of dishes. From Mexican dishes, to omelets and scrambles, to the classic BLT, you can find avocados in all sorts of cuisines today. This couples nicely with the previous point, that Developer Relations teams are fluid. Not only can their goals and department be different depending on the company, but the tactics that they use to build a community changes depending on the circumstances and the type of product. There’s rarely a set way to engage with the community — you experiment, and figure out what works best for your community by pulling a variety of levers and observing the outcome (more on this in a bit).
  • Avocados take a long time to ripen, and it’s an even longer process if you take into account that it takes 5 years for an avocado tree to be fruitful. But once the fruit is ripe, it’s not only delicious, but yields a good profit for the farmers. Developer relations is also a long game. We’ll talk about this more in a bit, but it’s not something that often has an immediate impact on sales. However, with a good upfront investment and careful nurturing, the final harvest is rewarding.
  • Lastly, the more that you look into the research and data around avocados, the more you realize just how good they are for you. Likewise, with more research and data around Developer Relations, you’ll realize that it’s not only good for your business, but in many cases, essential to maintaining a healthy product. And no one can deny that a happy community and a healthy product are good for the heart of every company, just like avocados.
  • In French, “I am an advocate” is “Je suis avocat” 🥑 + 🐱 = 🦄
    Thanks to Jen Looper for this tip!

Did I miss anything? Drop me a comment below to add to the analogy. I’ll add it to the list (with proper attribution of course!).

Originally published at

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