In my last entry, I said that I would share a little about my new role at Novell. So here it is…but not without first a long Abe Simpson-esque preambulatory pontifications. Either grab a cup of coffee, or to skip over the bulk of what may be uninteresting narcissism, scroll down to just after “</abe simpson>”.
I came to work for Novell through its field sales force. (Before that, I had been a technical instructor at a Novell Authorized Education Centers.) The guy who hired me from field sales into corporate liked my edginess, and wanted me to help shake things up in Provo product management. He put me into a non-traditional role for a product manager, making me the product “evangelist” for ZENworks. The role fit me well. But, some years later, I fell into a more traditional marketing role.
I ended up in marketing as an odd kind of de jure gesture from Novell’s former excutive Chris Stone. At some point Stone got the idea that I was a “great” marketing guy. (I received it on decent authority that he had told at least one person that I was probably one of the best marketers at Novell. Coming from someone of Stone’s talents, that is pretty high praise. Unless he meant “marketer” as an insult. Or, perhaps he meant it as a dig against the other marketers at Novell at the time, in which case he was merely saying that I “sucked least.” Alas, Novell marketing has often been used as the punchline of a lot of cheap jokes. I hypothesize that Stone got the idea that I was good at marketing mostly because I can present with a kind of confidence that makes it appear that I really know what I’m doing, and maybe Stone found my confidence in front of an audience familiar, and that earned me his respect. Idle speculation, anyway. Hey look, we’re coming to the end of the parentheses!)
That landed me in the management role that I was in for about 8 months. After getting through the launch of Novell Linux Desktop–which was hard work, but a lot of fun–I immediately started appealing to my vice president to move me out of management altogether. (See, it turns out that a lot of marketing is hardly at all glamorous no matter what the company. A lot of it is understanding markets, which is actually interesting in itself, but the research you have to do to acquire that understanding can be extremely tedious. The creative parts that people notice most–say Apple’s fantastic feel good campaign for the iPod, or the never-gets-old lowbrow male humor that beer commercials constantly churn out–is really just an end product, done mostly by “creatives” inside advertising firms. Actual marketing work involves a lot more rather dry analytical work than most people may think.)
I injured my knee just as we reached the eve of our GroupWise 7 launch. Fortunately, another marketing director was just joining our group, and she grabbed the GroupWise ball and ran with it (whew!) just as I started to drop it.
My vice president realized that I was miserable in my current role (“You’re miserable in this role,” said he), and discussed with me what he thought we should have me doing. With that, I took a couple weeks of leave to deal with medical crap.
The new role gets me back to what I enjoy most: working with Novell’s most avid proponents, and doing a lot more public presentations. More than just getting to once again focus on doing what I enjoy most, I also have been chartered to lead a campaign to re-invigorate the once mighty base of die-hard Novell fans. In fact, although my manager and I had originally submitted the job title as “Novell Linux Evangelist,” our Chief Marketing Officer, Bill Hewitt, had the forsight to identify something that I had been thinking necessary but had not stated. He essentially said that he did not want me acting as a mere corporate mouthpiece, but wanted to make it clear that the role is a leadership role. Bill said that while he absolutely supports the term “evangelist,” the job title will be “Director, Novell User Communities.”
So my job is to foster our traditional user groups–those affiliated through Novell Users International–and newer user groups and forums–such as Linux User Groups–by better connecting them with what’s going on at Novell.
So right now, I’m putting in place plans for how best to do exactly that. While I have lots of my own ideas (and even more that I have pilfered from my esteemed colleague Jeff Allen), I’d love to hear your ideas. What kind of regular activities could Novell do that would help our users, proponents and advocates most? Send your thoughts to reverendted@(you-know-where).com.
P.S. Can somebody please submit in some OASIS RFC-thing or other a new XML schema that includes the <abe simpson>
tag for me? I think it should be defined as:
“We can’t bust heads like we used to, but we have our ways. One trick is to tell ’em stories that don’t go anywhere – like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on ’em. ‘Give me five bees for a quarter,’ you’d say.
Now where were we? Oh yeah – the important thing was I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn’t have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones…”
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