One of my major goals for 2018 this time last year was to become an excellent Developer Advocate. And did I become better at Developer Advocacy?
2018 was a loud, hot mix of events that bolstered my confidence and taught me immensely that whatever plans one have to achieve greatness, a crucial part of those plans should be to establish awesome interpersonal relationships and have lots of fun along the way.
2018 also taught me to be very deliberate, and aggressive about building your reputation as a human being regardless of the brands / big names you work for / with / associate with. This lesson has a story behind it. Stay with me!
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.
Now, grab a cup of coffee! 😁. I’ll tell you a quick story about how my Google Developer Expert journey came to a halt abruptly because of a tweet. Yes, a tweet! I’ll repeat that….A TWEET!!!
Note: I like to start with my bad experiences and failure, so bear with me, young padawan.
I was a Google Developer Expert from 2016 to May this year (I thought it was a lifetime thing) when I responded to a silly tweet that was also a response to a Twitter thread made by an ex-Andela software developer.
This was her response:
I saw this reply and got really angry. Immediately, I responded to her along the lines of:
“I hope you can keep the same energy if you are out and harassed in the night and people start asking you questions like “Why did you too dress like a whore?””
5 minutes later or so, I looked back at my reply and sensed that twitter folks might misinterpret it or take it out of context. I went ahead to delete it. Apparently my instincts were right. A Googler from USA took a screenshot of my tweet before deletion and quickly sent it over to the team in California. Then, the regional rep in Kenya set up a call with me and asked for the details of what happened.
For non-Nigerians reading this post, check this #EndSars hashtag or google #EndSars to understand why I got angry. I have been a victim of Police harrassment several times because I am a young Nigerian male, driving a decent car, dressing in shorts and T-shirts and using a Macbook. I’m still alive. Many others have died, because they were falsely accused of being fraudsters.
A couple of days later, I had a shocking second meeting with the rep where I was told that I would be removed from the Google Experts program. Ah!!!
After the meeting, this mail came in:
I cringed. I paced the room like a Pogba fan under the curse of Mourinho. I didn’t know how to feel after this happened. I was a pretty active, and excellent Developer Expert. I spoke at different DevFest summits in Nigeria, Kenya, and beyond, taught several folks how to use web technologies, Google products and also become better software developers generally, helped agencies become better via workshops held in Johannesburg. I was literally everywhere in and out of Africa at a certain point. Hundreds of developers reached out to me and made it a goal to become a Google Developer Expert. I also adore and respect women so much. So, where the hell did I go wrong?
I did a little introspection and asked myself a couple of questions:
- Did I offend a certain Googler before now? If anyone found it offensive, why didn’t the person reach out to me via DM first?
- Why was I not asked to defend the context of the tweet in front of a team of folks? I literally took it down because I figured that it might be taken out of context because people rarely read to understand nowadays.
- Did someone actually think I’d call another human a whore?
- Did all the good things I did as an Expert or Advocate not count for anything if I mistakenly erred?
A lot of things were on my mind and I had sleepless nights blaming myself for that tweet. After a while, some soothing thoughts crossed my mind that made me get over the nauseating feeling I had for days and nights.
- I didn’t know there was a Google Developer Experts program before I was nominated, talked to about the role, went through series of interviews, passed and became an Expert.
- Until you walk a mile in someone’s shoes, you won’t understand their actions because we are all products of our past experiences and challenges.
- I am who I am. I have worked really hard to be a good developer & respected advocate and I won’t slow down anytime soon because something I came to love and be part of was taken away from me! 🤷🏽♂️
- As a leader or someone of importance of any kind, every word you write, speak or action you take is scrutinized by many, so take heed to examine every single act before activating the “Go!” button. I learned a huge lesson and took my L like Arsenal fans before their recent bounce back! 😁
After all said and done, I thanked the Googler that nominated me in 2016 and moved on. In fact, I’m still immensely grateful that I was privileged to be a Google Developer Expert for ~2 years. It was really impactful! I love all my G.D.E friends.
Now that I have gotten that out of the way, it’s high time I celebrated the activities that happened through the year that I’m definitely proud of. 🕺🏽🕺🏽🕺🏽
I had the privilege of writing several articles and documentation this year, technical (especially about using GraphQL) and non-technical.
I’ll mention just 10. These were amongst my most popular and very productive articles —
- The Birth of Developer Avocados.
- Layering GraphQL on top of REST.
- File Uploads with Apollo Server 2.0.
- Automatic Persisted Queries and CDN caching with Apollo Server 2.0.
- Next.js 6 Features: A Practical Introduction.
- Developing and Securing Modern Apps with GraphQL, React and Apollo.
- GraphQL Glossary (A — Z of GraphQL)
- Webpack 4.0 Release: What’s New?
Speaking and Community
I was heavily involved in community building this year. Last year, I told myself that I’ll do all it takes to foster a better developer community that collaborates and pushes international interest in African startups and software engineers!
First, forloopAfrica expanded to 3 new countries, Zambia, Tanzania and Sierra Leone. Incredible work by these courageous and active leaders, Olivier J.M, Sambwah Chipungu, Wilfred Mulenga, Joshua Mabina and Cleopatra Douglas. In Nigeria, we grew to have forLoopIlorin, forLoopAbeokuta, forLoopOwerri, join the existing forLoop branches etc. We also had forloop Podcast that was constantly curated by Ada Nduka Oyom. You should subscribe to it and listen.
I also gave a lot of technical talks this year. I remember the following:
- March 8–10, I spoke at the Google Developer Agency Day in Nairobi, Kenya.
- A few days after, still in March, I appeared in Kigali, Rwanda to give a talk at CMS Africa Summit.
- In April, I attended ImageCon in California, USA. Cloudinary organized a great conference about Images and Video performance.
- April 26–30, I appeared in California, USA and spoke at Zeit SF Day about Authentication and Authorization. It was a great and amazing conference.
- May 7–11, I was in Mountain View, California for the yearly developer ritual event, Google I/O. 😅
- May 29, I was in Lagos, Nigeria to speak at Techpoint.ng Inspired. It was one of a kind, well organized tech. conference by the folks at Techpoint.
- June 14/15, I was in New York, USA and spoke at BuzzJS Conference alongside the likes of supersonic developer advocates about GraphQL: Simona Cotin, John-David Dalton, Donavon West, Rob Wormald, Nitya Narasimhan.
- June 16–17, I was billed to speak at CakeFest Conference in Tennessee, USA. Unfortunately, it was cancelled almost at the last minute.
- In August, I was scheduled to speak at Laracon EU Conference, Amsterdam again. Everything(Accommodation, Flight, etc) was ready. Unfortunately, I was denied a visa again and again for the most baseless reason. Very annoying stuff 🤦🏽. ♂️Thank you ShawnMcCool again for believing in me.
August 10–11, I was the MC for the biggest and first-ever International Nigerian Developer Conference, Concatenate, organized by the incredible combo of Sarah Drasner, Christian Nwamba, and Brian Holt. To be honest, this was the best conference I attended and was a part of this year!
- In September, I was scheduled to speak at DevCraft in Nairobi,Kenya but the US Embassy held my passport for about 3 weeks like they wanted to alter my destiny. 💁🏽♂️
- In October 6, I spoke at the second edition of forloop Zambia in Lusaka. It was a glorious experience. My God!!! 🔥🔥🔥
- In November, I was scheduled to speak at GraphQL Summit in San Francisco. But unfortunately, my USA visa was not yet renewed at the time so I couldn’t make it.
- Early November, I spoke at Google DevFest Lagos and at the Google DevFest South-South Conference in Uyo, Nigeria on “The GraphQL Way: Building Faster and Better Apps” and “A TALE OF FOUR ENGINEERS: Imperfect people, high-level impact”. It was a blast!!! 😍
- In December, I spoke at the Facebook Dev C Leaders Summit on “Building Influence as a Community Leader” and at the Facebook Developer Summit on “Bridging the Gap between Developer and Startups Ecosystems in Nigeria” in Lagos, Nigeria.
Note: I’m really sorry if I spoke at your event and it wasn’t mentioned here.
Work, Travel & Adventure
I spent almost half of the year primarily consulting for Cloudinary & then I joined the Apollo GraphQL team at the end of April and worked with the developer experience team for about 7 months. I spent some time at the Apollo Office in July at San Francisco with the incredible Peggy Rayzis, Jake Dawkins, and Jesse Rosenberger. I’m so grateful that I was privileged to do meaningful and fulfilling work with these smart folks.
- My Family has a secret health sauce. The Balm of Gilead held us under his arms throughout this year. No health challenge of any kind, except malaria here and there.
- I moved into a much bigger apartment again. I have just discovered that I have changed apartments every year for the last 3 years. Lmao!!! 😂😂😂
- I turned 26 this year. Took the party to Dubai, UAE this time around.
- I visited 5 new countries, Russia, UAE, Seychelles, Ethiopia and Zambia this year.
I am grateful for my close friends, Oritsejeminoyo, Ayeni, Funsho and Chilezie. Thank you for always being there for me. None of this would have been possible without all your support.
Thank you Ridwan Olalere (Didi Kwang), Christian Nwamba, Aniedi Udo-Obong, Sani Yusuf, Mickey, Kenneth M Kinyanjui, Oo Nwoye, Chimdindu Aneke, Solomon Osadolo, Ada Nduka Oyom, Ehinze, Remy Muhire and you reading this post. Yes, you!
2019: What’s the Plan?
I want to help others achieve greatness.
I am a great speaker, community leader, open source hacker, excellent trainer, technical consultant and a fervent Developer Advocate. Send me an email if you want me to speak at your developer/tech. conference, organize workshops(paid) or consult for your startup/company.